Friday, December 31, 2010

My sewing hits and misses of 2010 & the evolution of my hair

New Year's Eve snuck up on me!  How did that happen??

Thanks everyone for your comments on my last post: the snow, the proper way to use FOE, the leaf shirt. I actually went against my word and wore the shirt to work, under a polar fleece, so just a hint of it was shown where the fleece was unzipped. I washed and dried the shirt and the part with the FOE is all wavy and wrinkly. Since the knit was so stretchy, I probably should have interfaced the sleeve at the edge first, before applying the FOE.

As for shoveling snow, my back slightly flared the next day and day after. Then I woke up at 2:30am this morning with brand new rib pain (this time it's the muscle between my last two ribs, according to my chiro, away from the spine, which is different than the rib pain in Oct 2009) and it is really painful to lie on my back. Sleeping on my side is ok, though it feels best to be upright (no pain at all, unless I laugh a certain way, ha ha!). I reminded myself, it was 2 weeks ago that I hurt my foot (which I didn't blog about because who wants to read about pain all the time?), and now that is all healed up, so hopefully the same goes for this rib issue.

I've really enjoyed reading everyone else's "2010 Year In Review" post. So I have 3 hours (eastern time) to squeeze in my own.

I surprised myself--I made 42 (magic number!) things this year: 10 shirts, 6 pj tops or bottoms, 2 jackets, 3 pieces of gym wear, 2 bags, 3 "cardigans", 13 dresses, and 3 pieces of underwear.  I've made some pillowcases and aprons for my mom which I  haven't counted.

My 2010 sewing hits (and the evolution of my hair):
1. The Burda (Oct 2005 pattern) shirt. I *love* this shirt. The fit is great, the color is great, and I've figured out how to drape the collar the way I want. Recently someone I don't know asked me where I bought this shirt, and said it's a great color for me. Made my day! This is also the shirt where I learned twin needle stitching, my big big love. And it's my first (and only) Burda. I wear this shirt almost weekly in the appropriate seasons (spring and fall).
Burda oct 2005 done
2. Simplicity 2508 corduroy jacket. I just love this jacket and wear it a lot during the appropriate spring and fall seasons. I love the bias detailing on the back tab and sleeves.  If you want to make a lined jacket but are afraid to try it, this is a great one!  It's mostly straight lines, and the sleeves are raglan, so no sleeves to set in.
Simplicity 2508 DONE:   hand on hip

Love the lining too:
Simplicity 2508 DONE:  flasher shot

3. I made a lot of dresses but this is my favorite, Simplicity 2473, a Project Run(a)way dress.  You can tell it's a fav 'cuz of the smug look on my face:
Simplicity 2473 DONE
But I'm also a fan of NewLook 6069, Mad Men dress:
New Look 6069 view B/C hybrid
Simplicity 2766, the Superman dress:
Simplicity 2766 view A done
and Vogue 8379, which I made in black but I prefer the red:
Vogue 8379 fixed
Also love NewLook 6922, Audrey Hepburn dress. I made it in three colors but like the black version the best:
New Look 6922 view C-ish done
4. Favorite bag: the Simplicity 8331 Santa bag inspired by Gwen. I've had two different people at two different places ask where I bought it. When I responded that I made it, one of them asked if I was selling them because she'd buy one "in a heartbeat":
Simplicity 8331 inspired by Gwen at
5. I branched out into making underwear using Antoinette's make your own undies tutorial. So much fun!
cherry undies

Misses of 2010:
Well, nothing tops the Star Trek dress of 2009 for failures in my book, but here goes:

1. Wow, this looks better in the picture than I remember in real life, but this picture is deceptive. When I sit down, the top opens up and my chest is totally on display. I think I might give up on cross over tops like this one. Plus it needs a serious swayback adjustment, and is too tight around my butt.   However, it was because of this dress that I found MushyWear, a blog I adore!
New Look 6936 View B

2. Looks ok in the photo, but after washing it, the neckline got very weird. I had preshrunk the fabric; maybe I needed to preshrink a few times.
Vogue 2945

3. I made this dress twice in two different sizes and it still doesn't feel comfortable in the chest.  It's so funny how on some styles my small chest is an asset; in others it's a bust (ha ha!  pun!)
Simplicity 3742 view B in size 12

4. I hate the cowl on this, the V seems to be getting lower with each wearing. I think my expression says it all. Plus I just folded the SA over and sewed on the armhole. It actually flips out to the right side, sigh.
New Look 6981 view A done

5. New Look 6748. I hate it. It's too big, I think it's frumpy, and  I feel like the tie is like apron strings.
New Look 6748 on top with NL 6936 bottom, and NL6803 belt

If you want to, check out my Epic Win of 2009 post from last year, and my Epic Fails of 2009 post (includes the Star Trek dress) as well.  I was much, much funnier then.  :)

I'm going to review my "goals" and "what I learned" this year separately in the new year!

Happy New Year everyone and thank you for reading, commenting, and encouraging me.   I've learned a lot from you.   For many I feel like you are a friend even though I've never met you!

Wishing you and your families your happiest and especially healthiest year ever in 2011.  See you in the New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Vogue 8151: a fall shirt made in winter, and snow pix

Hope everyone had a great holiday!

The big news around here is snow snow snow! Princeton U had an 11am delayed opening, but after checking the Rt 1 traffic cameras, I decided to take a vacation day instead. Wish it could have been a true snow day instead of a vacation day, but I'll take it!

I dug my car out by myself, and I felt incredibly ALIVE while doing so. Shoveling gets the heart pumping! It felt good to dig myself out and my back doesn't feel any different than before I started shoveling, though how I feel tomorrow morning will be the true test. (Various neighbors dug me out last winter because of my back problems). It also helped that the snow is the powdery kind, not the heavy wet kind (which means no snowballs, snowmen, or trees covered in snow!)  Snow pix are at the end of this post.

I had a difficult time deciding what to sew this afternoon. Finally I settled on making the shirt I wanted to make during fall, using a Stretchy McStretcherton knit leaf print from JoAnn's. Here's Vogue 8151:
Vogue 8151 view B
It's a Sandra Betzina pattern with fitting tips, and letters instead of numbers for sizes. I made size D for delightful, but the shoulders are too wide. I could probably make a size C for cute next time. The bust dart is also too low; size C might fix that. (Sandra mentions checking this before continuing, and I checked but I didn't do anything about it).

I bound the neckline using my usual method of sewing the binding rt side to rt side and then folding the binding over, and topstitching it down, leaving it raw on the inside, instead of Sandra's method which involves folding the binding in half first, then sewing it rt side to rt side, and then pounding the neckline flat.
Vogue 8151 view B

I sewed the bodice with 1 inch seam allowance as she recommends since all knits are different, which was perfect, and graded to 3/8 in the arm. Sandra mentions using two pins to keep the underarm seam perfectly aligned while sewing from the shirt hem up to the underarm and then down the arm; instead I aligned the underarm seam and sewed down from the underarm to the bottom of the shirt, then sewed from the underarm seam to the edge of the arm.

I added 4 and 1/4 inches to the sleeve length to make the sleeves long, but I had a hard time easing the sleeve cap in that I basically just cut an inch off the sleeve cap.  Sandra's directions say to set the sleeve in flat and finger ease in there, but I had to take off about an inch.  (Kathy Ruddy at the ASE mentioned how to check to see if there is too much of a sleeve cap before cutting the pattern; I have to look through my notes). This meant the arms were the perfect long length but now there's no extra length for hemming. I broke out the brown double fold elastic I bought at the ASE but really am clueless on how to use it. Any hints? Am I supposed to cut it a little smaller and stretch while sewing? How do I keep it straight through my machine when the presser foot wants to roll off the edge?  Here I winged it and the stitching isn't so great (this is the best example, below.  Believe me, this shirt is never being worn in the presence of any Sewing Pattern Review member, ever!)
Vogue 8151 view B
Anyone care to read my palm?

I think I might have had an easier time with the elastic if I had either interfaced the edge of the sleeves or used a more stable fabric.  This fabric is incredibly stretchy.  I only got the neckline to look like that above after a good press (I could have interfaced the neckline, I suppose).  This is a sleep shirt so it's not seeing the light of day.  Also the jersey needle didn't work with this fabric at all; I used a size 11 stretch needle instead (and a stretch twin needle on the hem).

Ok, back to the snow!  Here's my living room this morning:
12/27/10:  after the Boxing Day snow
It didn't look so bad, but that's actually a three foot drift in the middle of my back yard. left to right.  It's like there's a crest of snow in my back yard.  The air conditioning unit is on the right:
12/27/10:  after the Boxing Day snow

The garbage can:
12/27/10:  after the Boxing Day snow

The screen of my sliding glass door:
12/27/10:  after the Boxing Day snow

Looking out my front door (I already moved my car for the snowplow):
12/27/10:  after the Boxing Day snow

Good night!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Food food food

Such a nice Christmas Eve! I woke up at my regular time, but instead of going to work I went to my favorite gym class taught by my favorite instructor, came home and loaded my sleigh for the trip to my parents. We had such a nice afternoon, including a visit from my best friend growing up, Maria,
her husband and baby, and our traditional Christmas Eve present opening.

Here is the big surprise I made for my mom:
Hershey's chocolate cake and frosting both from scratch:
chocolate cake from scratch  I made for mom

Oh yes yummy yummy goodness!  Though I should have put more milk in the frosting; it was a bit difficult to spread.

chocolate cake made from scratch for mom

I enjoyed the look on my mom's face when I brought the cake through the door.  She said, "I'm hiding this in the kitchen.  No one else is getting this."

The cake plate was purchased by my mom at a yard sale. Super cute, isn't it?

I also made cookies for my mom
cookies for Mom
and some for Maria too:
cookies for Maria and Al

That marks my 700th cookie made since 11/14/10.
The tag is made from a rubber stamp mom gave me.

In other food news, my coworker Nadia made me brownies. Her brownies are my favorite brownies ever!  At this point I had almost eaten all of them, but they are all gone now.
Nadia's brownies (all gone now!)

And my coworker Brenda made me flan! Yummy too!  that sugary syrupy sauce is sooo good.  (love the reflection of my dining room lamp in the flan!)
Brenda's flan

I can hear my parents snoring, so all is right with the world.
Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Vogue 8534: The shirt that's somewhat saved

Back in mid-November I started working on Vogue 8534, and then I accidentally cut into the front of it.
Here's a refresher photo of the Frakenstein-like zig zag job I did:
Vogue 8534 with an accidental cut
The fabric was no longer at the Joann's I purchased it at, and I ordered it online but it was a different shade of gray (even though the SKU was the same).
So, tonight, I cut out that top front panel again but didn't have enough to cut out the entire continuous panel. So I cut the "bad" panel into two, and sewed them together to make a shoulder seam.
Vogue 8534 with shoulder seam, ha ha
I only did that on the one side, ha ha!
Vogue 8534
It looks great on Emma (who is smaller than me), but is actually too small in the bust for me. I went back to the pattern tissue and saw that I cut the 12, the biggest size in that envelope, but the bust is 35.5. Usually I cut for 37 in knits. Sigh, see, this is what I mean when I say I'm annoyed that Vogue doesn't print the finished garment bust measurement on the pattern envelope. If they had, I would have bought the other envelope.  I should have known better.   I'm going to try clipping the curves to see if that helps.
Those ties aren't supposed to be lined.  The ties and neckline are supposed to be just the raw cut edge.  I lined the tie which really makes it very bow like, but at least the ties and edges there are not raw.  For the back neck I just folded it over and sewed.

I worked on something for my mom today and I might blog about it tmw, as she reads this blog and I don't want to spoil the surprise!

Here's some of my favorite Christmas jewelery:
Elvis lives, in his Christmas jumpsuit: (too lazy to crop it right now):

Avon Christmas Surprise Pin (it's a convertible pin, meaning the bow separates from the red pkg and can be put on a white pkg instead.) I've had this since childhood and still have the original box, which says 1979 on it!  Here it's on my coat as a red pkg.

favorite Avon pin!

So, whether you celebrate Christmas or Giftmas this weekend, have a very Merry one!
My year-end best and worst sewing review is coming next week, and probably a goals review as well!

Good night!

Monday, December 20, 2010

All sorts of stuff

Hi there. There are several dead horses I'm beating. One is Vogue 8634. It started as a medium, then a small, and now the shoulder seam part is extra-small. I'm not extra-small in anything but apparently in the shoulder seams of Vogue 8634 I am. I have to rip out and redo all my twin needle stitching on it, as making it extra small brings the sleeves up and I could really use that inch I took off. Then I think it'll be done. The other dead horse is I accidentally broke my $200 dining room lamp and am trying to fix it. I am glad my Ikea dining room table can hold my weight.  Meanwhile I hurt my foot at a work meeting and just want it to get better soon.  Gratitude is the best healer, and I'm grateful my back and knee pain has decreased a lot this year, while my mobility has increased.  My goal is for 2011 to be my healthiest year ever!

Let's look at fun stuff, shall we? Since 11/14/10, I've made 600 Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies with walnuts, from scratch. I've probably eaten 100 of them. Last year I wrote about making the custom labels.
Cookies 12/19/10

I love gift wrapping, especially when I don't have to do a lot of it. Here are some of my favorites so far:

I love perfectly wrapped gifts

Another perfectly wrapped present

Here's a "wreath" cupcake from House of Cupcakes:
Wreath cupcake from House of Cupcakes

Here's Princeton's Palmer Square, all lit up for Christmas:
Christmas in Princeton's Palmer Square, 12/14/10

The super-quaint Princeton Post Office is in the background:
Christmas in Princeton's Palmer Square, 12/14/10

My orchids at work, and the moon, before leaving work tonight:

the moon and my orchids

And a closeup of what they looked like this morning:
White and purple orchids, 12/20/10

Can anyone ID the bird in this photo? There are actually two birds; probably a hawk? and its pray:

do you see the bird?  What bird is it?  12/19/10

Hope everyone's having a great holiday season.
Good night!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Grandmom Craft: holiday edition

Ok, the Santa Bag is really, really fun to carry around.  It gets comments everywhere.  Some don't see the pompom tassel immediately and then squeal again when they see it.  I've even had a grown man tell me "I like your bag"!  Like Gwen said happened to her daughter, a coworker told me she wants to steal it!

I don't know if I will sew this weekend or not (today was a "chore" day of the non-standard variety (try to fix a lamp--I will know tmw morning if I was successful/fill car tires/change furnace filters/repot a plant/remove a different planter stuck to my kitchen floor) plus some regular chores. Tomorrow is cookie making in the morning, then off to visit some friends for a very long lunch, and then watching the season finale of The Amazing Race at night (Brook and Claire or Nat and Kat for what I hope will be the history making win (first female team to win TAR).

I am also fighting off a cold with all my might.  I'm trying to keep it from developing!

So, in lieu of my crafting/sewing here's some Grandmom craft, holiday style.
First up is a snowman game that I don't think I've ever successfully completed. I have it out on my desk year round. Here the "buttons" are filled in, but eyes are not:
Grandmom craft:  snowman game

One eyed snowman:
Grandmom craft:  snowman game

I'm not sure what she used as the base of this game, but it says "made in the USA". The lid and base are taped together with red electrical tape. She used red felt for the background.  For the snowman, she cut white felt and then used a marker to color in the snowman's hat.  She also used green yarn for the scarf.

I think she made this but now I'm not sure. How would she have done that decorative edge stitching? Hrm.  I think it's a decorative bottle bag.
Grandmom craft: bottle bag

I've shown this before, but it's perfect for the season. It's a shadowbox of Christmas pins that she made. After all these years, I still LOVE the skate pin, where the blades are made from paper clips.  She hand stitched the skates together, but used glue for the sequins.  Securing the sequin by stitching it on with a bead would have been more effective.   I love the snowman pin too which is lightly stuffed and glued on the edges.
shadowboxof pins my grandmother made

And then, of course, there are the Santa bow ties (the left are garters she made for my parents wedding as favors).
left:  garter favors from my parents wedding.  right: Santa clip on bow ties
She was a Boy Scout troop leader and I think a lot of her crafts were for the troop.  When I was little she gave me her crafting supplies and I'd play with them for hours:  wooden beads in the gold and blue Boy Scout colors, a box of 1000 Popsicle sticks, tiny carpet samples (mostly red but the turquoise samples were my favorite), blue tassels, round pieces of flat cork,  a tube containing little round wooden doll heads, and lots of sequins, glitter, and beads.  She died more than 20 years ago but I think part of her still lives on through me and my crafting and sewing.  I think she would have been a fan of the Santa Bag too.

Good night!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Santa Bag, Express Lite Version

Ok, so a few weeks ago, when I made my Mondo shirt, Gwen commented that she made one like it a few months ago, so I started going back through her blog to find it. And that's when I stumbled upon her amazing Santa bag!

I knew I had to make it when I saw it. But I also knew I wasn't willing to devote the time and detail to her bag. Her bag is quilted (by her!), has a key ring, a monogram, real candy cane striped handles, two pompoms, a zipper, and purse feet.

Hence, here's my version of Gwen's Santa Bag, which I'm calling the Holiday Express Lite version. The pattern is Simplicity 8331, a modified version of view D. It's made from red canvas on the outside, a holly cotton that's totally not true to grain on the inside (and one of the oldest pieces of my stash, at least 13 years old, but possibly 17 years old, probably from the Rag Shop), with a red canvas pocket on the inside and red canvas handles.

Simplicity 8331 inspired by Gwen at
The pompom is made from a scrap of the white Santa trim, I folded opposite corners together and sewed, and then sewed on a remnant of white cord from my New Look bathrobe (though apparently I haven't taken a photo of my bathrobe with the cording). (And I always wondered what I'd ever do with just a few inches of leftover cording! A-ha!)
Simplicity 8331 inspired by Gwen at

Simplicity 8331 inspired by Gwen at

If I ever make this again, my note to myself is to sew the Santa trim 3/8 from the edge of the fabric, which is the seam allowance for sewing the lining to the bag. I had to rip it out and redo it.

The bag has no structure, though, so it is rather droopy. The Simplicity instructions say to use plastic needlepoint canvas in the bottom of the bag, but I haven't done that.
Simplicity 8331

I have made this before, out of the scissors fabric from Stitch lab. It is actually my purse that I have used almost every day since I finished it in late April.
Simplicity 8331 view D
My friend Debbie wanted to know how to make the "butt" of the bag, where the corners are. She saw this bag in person in May.
Here are some action shots.
Here is the pattern. In the bottom corner are three very important dots, a stitch line and a fold line.
how to make the "butt" of the bag

I transfer the markings to the fabric. In this shot I had already marked and sewn the fabric. There is a diagonal clip at the first dot from the edge of the fabric to the dot. I've been using tailor's chalk ever since Antoinette's undies tutorial. Love that tailor's chalk (and that tutorial!).
how to make the "butt" of the bag

Here's how it looks from above. Fold on the fold line (which is on the left and right edge of the fabric in this shot), stitch on the seam line (marked as S in this shot). You're matching the top dot to the bottom dot.
how to make the "butt" of the bag

It's very important to make sure the seam of the side of the bag and seam of the bottom of the bag actually match up before sewing along the seam line. I hadn't done that and the seams didn't match. So I ripped out the seam (you can see thread remnants on the right side of the photo). You can also see how important the clipped seam is!
how to make the "butt" of the bag
I didn't capture it, but I then cut the excess off at this point.

When it's turned inside out, the corner now has a "butt".

I should have pressed it but I knew I had more work to do. This is another moment where I think it looks better in real life.

how to make the "butt" of the bag

Thanks, Gwen, for posting your bag, it truly inspired me!