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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Bikini Time!



I'm stoked to be heading off to Mexico next weekend for a much anticipated, ever so needed vacation.  And also excited to have a reason to buy lycra (on sale at Fabric Outlet on Mission) and whip up a swimsuit. 

I used Burda Style's Jessica pattern, rated 'novice', and could not believe how easy the whole thing was.  I doubt I ever buy a swimsuit again.  Plus, this fabric is super smooth and soft. 

A couple edits--

I added a lining, a Nike performance knit.  Just serged around the edges to hold them together then followed the pattern as directed. 
And I made strings out of the fabric by cutting 1 1/2" wide swaths, sewing them together length-wise, then pushing them inside out with this handy Spiderman pencil.  Chopsticks also work well. 

Other than serging the lining on, I just used my regular machine and a zig zag stitch.  Voila!






Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Where-I-Am-Sleeping-Tonight Calendar: Coping With Joint Custody

To the shock and dismay of our friends and family, as well as ourselves, my husband and I recently decided that we need a break from our marriage.  And so, as of last weekend, I've moved into my own apartment.

The decision was made astronomically harder by the fact that we have a three year old son and have been determined to minimize the impact on him.  It's tempting to use this venue to again deliberate what is The Right Thing To Do, but I'm going to stick to what I know for sure.  And, that is, that sewing brings me great comfort and satisfaction even in the hardest of times.

We consulted with a child therapist about how best to care for our son in the context of joint custody; something I highly recommend if you find yourself in a similar situation.  One of the suggestions that seemed most helpful--probably because it was concrete--was to create two simple, identical 'calendars' (one for each home) that will represent which of us our son will be with any given day, basically a Where-I-Am-Sleeping-Tonight Calendar (if you can think of a better name, I would love to hear it), and then a Something to represent our son that could be moved between the two locations.  As part of our son's arrival and departure to and from our individual homes,  he will move the symbolic Something to the location representing where he will be that night.  The idea is to give our him a sense of control over what is happening to him and help him to understand where he'll be when, despite the fact that his concept of time is still pretty shaky.

So my solution is above. . . and below.

Blue is for Daddy's house and orange is for Mommy's apartment.  "T" is my son's first initial.  Per a friend's suggestion, I'm planning to staple photos of Mom and Dad on our respective pockets, just in case the color coding is a little too complicated right off the bat.  

And, for anyone else who finds themselves in a similar situation, here's how I made it. 

1.  Cut out the following rectangles (keeping in mind that this will give you enough for two pockets): 
         4- 9"(ish) x 7" of Daddy fabric (DF)
         4- 9" x 7" of Mommy fabric (MF)
         2- 6"(ish) x 7" DF
         2- 6" x 7" MF
         4- 9" x 7" fusible interfacing
         4- 6" x 7" fusible interfacing
         4- 8" length of ribbon, cording, etc for hanging 
         4- first initials from either or both fabrics
             (I recommend drawing out the letter that you want then adding a 3/8"-1/2" seam allowance when you copy it onto the fabric.)
         2 (or more, if you want them really fluffy)- cotton quilting batting first initials

2.  Long edges and right sides together, join two of the larger DF to two of the larger MF rectangles and one of the smaller DF to one of the smaller MF, for the pockets.  Press the seams open. 


 3.  Apply fusible interfacing to one of the larger rectangles as well as to the pocket.  I made the double fold hem on my pocket first and tucked the fusible underneath the hem.

 4.  Sew down the hem on the pocket, sewing as close to the edge as you can.

5.  Baste the pocket onto the interfaced large rectangle.  

5.  Stack your large rectangles right sides together, and colors matched up, with the 2 cords sandwiched in a u-formation on each side.  (You could use just one cord in the center.  Probably would work just as well.)

 6.  Using a half inch seam allowance sew around the outside, leaving a 4 inch opening on one side.  Pull right side out through the four inch opening.  Then iron, folding in the edges on the opening. 

7.  Top-stitch around the outer edge.  I used a half inch seam allowance as well as an extra seam close to the edge in the area of the 4 inch opening.  And then add a seam down the middle of the pocket to make it into two. 
8.  Make your initial.  Baste the batting to one side then, right sides together, sew all around the edge, leaving a two inch opening.  Pull the right sides through, iron, and top stitch around the edge. I made an orange 'T' for Mommy's home and a blue 'T' for Daddy's.
Full disclosure, I tried for a little boy shape first, but it came out looking a little too scary.  More appropriate for a voodoo doll.  So, initial it is for us; but if there are any dollmakers out there, I'd love to see what you come up with.

And, here's the finished product once again!
Made from my new sewing studio--which was supposed to be my bedroom, but I prefer to sleep on the fold-out couch in the living room and have a whole room dedicated to my hobby.
The view in the day.
Because I'm still an Outer Sunset sewist.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Easy With a Twist: Cloth Napkins With Mitered Corners

Cloth napkins--cute up your meals while being environmentally conscientious (okay, less paper waste anyway; water is still being used for laundering unless you just never wash them. . . . )  And, best of all, they're a relatively easy sewing project.  This fabric is, of course, Lotta Jansdotter again; I'm obsessed. 
I like my napkins 20" square or thereabouts, which means 21" x 21" if you're using a half inch seam allowance.  This is a great time to throw out the ruler and test your eyeballing-it abilities.  Your iron, ironing board, sewing machine, and scissors are all you really need.  And a seam guide if you want to keep things neat.
You can go the quick and dirty route of a double-folded hem all around--overlapping the corners.  Or, if you want to fancy things up a bit, consider trying out a mitered corner (pictured above).  This technique is beautifully illustrated in The Sewing Bible by Ruth Singer

Here's my mitering breakdown:

1.  Iron a double-folded hem.


2.  Do it again.  (And if you want to stop here, just sew a line all around as close to the edge of the fold as you can.)
3.  Fold down a corner like you're dog-earring the page of a book. Iron. [Picture of this step to be uploaded in the next day or two.]


4.  Now, open the corner back up and fold the two adjacent sides together.  See the nifty little line that you made in #3? 


5.  Sew right on that line.  Trim the seam allowance to just about an eighth of an inch from the hem.


6.  Open it up, push the point out, and now sew down the seam as close to the folded edge as possible.  Et voila!!!






Saturday, May 31, 2014

Minimal Sewing Project: Scarves (and Best YouTube Vid Ev)


Here's another idea gleaned from Simple Modern Sewing by Shufu To Seikatsu Sha--whip up a simple scarf from a small square of fabric.  You really only need a quarter of a yard so use up leftovers or, be like me, and buy small amounts of fabric just for this purpose.

I typically go for wool (top-left and bottom pics) or double-sided cotton (middle-right) as it's super easy to put a single stitch along the cut sides and let the edges fray.  If you use the full width of the fabric, the selvage can be kept at the ends--no stitching needed on those sides.  
If you're more proficient with rolled hems and whatnot, this would also work great with softer fabrics like silk and so on.  Something for me to aspire to. . . . 

Okay, so tucked in randomly (thanks for reading this far) is my gift to you!  A link to 25 Ways to Wear a Scarf by Wendy's Lookbook.  Best YouTube video ever, in my humble opinion.

And, here's date night at Bar Agricole.  Yummy food and cocktails marred only by not-so-super service. I wear this scarf every chance I get.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Japanese Sewing Books Obsession Part 2: Shufu To Seikatsu Sha's Simple Modern Sewing

Doh!  Over a week since my last post!  Well, I tried my hand at Zo's hipster panties and learned a ton but wasn't pleased with the results.  But more on that later because I haven't given up on undies--I have ideas. . . .

 So this seems like an opportune time to return to my ongoing obsession with Japanese sewing books.  Just as I was discovering this genre, my sister-in-law, Debbie, and most ardent sewing supporter, gave me Simple Modern Sewing by Shufu To Seikatsu Sha as a Christmas present.


Initially, I have to admit, I wasn't so sure that I was going to be into it (apologies to Auntie Deb).  The clothes really are very basic.  But, one after another, as I've tried the patterns, I've gained an appreciation for the clarity of the instructions and the wearability of the clothes.  Here's what I've executed so far:

And here's my rendition--
I particularly love it with a skinny belt, my navy blue pencil skirt, black tights and black ankle booties.  I need to figure out what I'm doing with it now that it's summer and I'm not wearing my ankle booties so much.  

I chose two different fabrics that worked together and used french seams to bring the panel together in the front.  The book recommended a double-sided fabric, and I can only imagine that would be even better.  All in all, I have nothing to add to the instructions.  It worked out beautifully and was easy.  

Next one up, 1b:
The pattern called for 'wool gauze'.  I'm sure that would be fantastic.  I used cotton and have been wearing it over a brown long-sleeved t-shirt with rolled-up jeans and sandals or sneaks.
Somehow, it feels a little Princess Leia-ish.  My only real problem with it is the color choice.  Beige does nothing for a fair-skinned white-y (sp?).  Luckily, the brown bias-tape, courtesy of my mother-in-law's recent antique sewing donation, breaks up the beigi-ness.  

And, for now, finally, these pants: 
I'm totally into 4b, the cropped option.  As I may have mentioned before, and will again, my first (elastic-waisted) pants attempt, in the 8th grade, was a miserable failure.  These were a phenomenal success--at least, in my eyes.  I wear them every chance I get.  And have them in two different fabrics--one a random plaid linen from Fabrix on Clement and the other a cotton Marc Jacobs print from the Smuggler's Daughter.  Modeled, linen; followed by Marc Jacobs.

They're awesome for both work and play.  The pocket even fits an iPhone.  Though I wouldn't run around as it might bounce out.  Maybe a button next time. . . .

Until next weekend, adieu!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Burda Sweatshirt Dress

This is the last of my recent fabric purchases from The Smuggler's Daughter--a sweatshirt weight knit in this gorgeous blue.  I mean, who doesn't love this color of blue?  The sky, perwinkle, the Mediterranean, pure bliss.  Seriously.  [Leggings from Alternative Apparel.  Looks like they don't have these leggings in stock anymore--they've moved on to cuffed sweatpants--but everything I've ever bought from them has been super quality.]

So, I hunted around for just the right pattern to turn this fabric into something I could wear as often as possible.  And I landed on Burda's Sweatshirt Mini Dress.  Kind of a gamble because it seems like nobody has ever actually made this--at least no one has posted a rating on Burda to date.  But I'm a sewing risk taker.  [Aside:  I accidentally rated this one star rather than my intended five stars and can't figure out how to undo it--meaning no one is ever likely to make this pattern again, and that was NOT my intention.]
The Sweatshirt Mini Dress from Burda 01/2011 #121.  Cute, right?

It was, as advertised, easy to execute.  I think the most difficult part was probably the pockets.  I'm afraid one of my pockets is a bit wonky, but here's the good one.
Either way, they both fit an iPhone.  And it's just kinda nice to walk around with your hands in your pockets, yea?  Okay, maybe that's just me.

Love this v-patch, sweatshirt-y touch.
My one regret is that I didn't switch out the threads on my serger.  You can see the dark grey/black threads peeking out of the raglan sleeve seam.  I think I would've preferred white.  I'm too lazy to have matched the blue.  It's white, brown or black for my serger threads.  Maybe because I'm working on the original 1980 White model that I bought off Craigslist.  Might be time to upgrade.  Changing thread is HARD. 

One last pic.  Feeling very the-future-is-now and wishing it were office appropriate. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Weaving Project: The Vine-Covered Teepee


In an effort to lure my indoorsy-three-year-old outdoors, I built this Sunset-mag-inspired teepee with SNACKS GROWING ON IT.  Did it work?  No.  But the sugar snap peas are delicious.