Friday, December 26, 2014

Finished Winter Jacket

I finished the winter jacket for my Mother-in-Law in time for Christmas! It turned very well and now I'll share some pictures.

The jacket has a wonderfully dramatic collar. To look at it, you wouldn't think it was made out of DWR fabric. My MIL picked black for the outside and a nice deep purple for the lining.

I added a velcro hook tab, in case she ever wants to wear a fleece jacket underneath and wants to attach it in place.

The collar goes across the centre front, so I added a mini facing to hold it in place. I also stopped the zipper facing on the other side about 2" down so it isn't too bulky.

One large button peaks out from under the collar.

I added triple matching buttons on the cuffs.

To allow for more ventilation (my MIL says she often feels too hot in most jackets), I added two eylets in the underarm area (on the front side piece).

Like with my winter jacket, I also added loops with snaps in the cuff lining so that sleeves of an under layer could be held in place.

My MIL was super happy when she tried it on. She barely stood still for the pictures and wanted to look in all the mirrors in the house.

The jacket is a little wrinkly from  from being wrapped up for under the tree, but it looks like the overall fit is good. And, most importantly, my MIL finds it super comfortable.

That's it! If I get a chance, I will try to take some better pictures.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Winter Jacket Progress

I'm finally putting together the actual winter jacket for my Mother-in-Law. The Ultrex fabric arrived and I have basted together the outer layer. I let my MIL try it on one last time before I finish it up. I wanted to make sure there were no more fitting issues.

The front looks pretty good. I had to take in some fabric above the bust by straightening out the princess seam on the side piece a little bit.

I didn't iron the side seam, so it's hard to tell if there are any issues. Overall, it looks straight enough. I let out the sleeves at the shoulder a little bit and lowered the armhole by 1/2". I wanted to make enough room for her to be able to wear a warm layer underneath (she is only wearing a t-shirt in the pictures).

The back is pretty good, but I might take a little out of the centre back seam near the bottom. There is some curling of the fabric there. I don't want to take out too much though, since I want her to be comfortable when she sits down.

My MIL is super happy with how it is going so far. She loves how light and comfortable the jacket is. Right now, it looks a bit like a judge's robe. But, once the cuffs and collar are attached, it will look less robe-like.

That's it for now! No more pictures until it's done and I've given it to my MIL for Christmas.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Vinegar Wood Stain

Many moons ago, I made some vinegar wood stain to stain an Ikea dresser I bought. I thought I would share the results.

To make the stain, I crammed a bunch of old, rusty steel wool (you can use new steel wool, too) clumps in a glass container. I then filled the jar with vinegar and added some tea bags. I then let it sit for a few days, but the stain is probably is ready to go if you leave it overnight.

Using a foam brush, I brushed the stain onto the dresser. Here is what one coat looked like:

A second coat made it darker and more uniform:

The vinegar and the steel wool create iron acetate, which react with the tannins in wood. Adding tea increases the tannins in the wood and makes the stain darker. To really bring out the stain and make it look richer, I gave it two coats of linseed oil. And then two coats of beeswax to protect the finish.

Here is a close up of the wood:

My dresser/nightstand is almost done. My husband is going to carve me some nice knobs to finish it off.

Using the vinegar stain was fun (and cheap!). I also like that it is less harmful to health and the environment.

For more information, here is a Lee Valley article on wood pickling:

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Second Winter Jacket Muslin

I'm still working on a winter jacket for my Mother-in-law. I had to make a fairly large adjustment to the first muslin, so I decided to make a second muslin before going any further. The adjustment was to shorten the bodice length, as the waistline was sitting too low.

My MIL is much happier with this test jacket and I am, too. I added a facing to cover the zipper. I reversed the collar, so that the bigger side is on the right of the jacket. That way it will be easier to do up the large button near the collar. I still have to fix the collar a bit to make it the right length for the neckline, but it is getting close.

I added pockets along the front princess seams. I also added a bit more room in the underarms by adding gusset pieces to the side back, side front, and sleeve pieces. This is the same alteration to add underarm ease that I did to my winter jacket.

After shortening the bodice, I found that I shortened it too much in the back. So, I slashed it open and pinned a piece of scrap fabric. This alteration pushed the bottom sides of the back piece towards the front and causing some buckling (if you look closely, you can see the extra fabric in the picture below). So, I will be taking a bit off of the back piece along the side seam when I adjust the pattern.

That's it! As I said, my MIL is happy with how this is coming along. I just need the fabric to show up (I ordered from Seattle Fabrics) and to make my changes to begin sewing the final winter jacket.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Winter Jacket Muslin

Sewing the jacket for my Mother-in-law is going pretty well so far. As mentioned in a previous post, I used a raglan dress pattern as a sloper to make up a jacket pattern. I made up a jacket muslin for my MIL to try on.

My MIL loves it so far - especially, the large asymmetrical collar. The muslin fit very well. I was afraid that my measurements would be off, but I was actually pretty close. The only major change was shortening the bodice. While making the jacket, I drew a line across the waistline according to the pattern. This made it easy to see that it was too low, so I just I pinned it up (as shown in the photos). This one change made a big improvement to fit.

I also pinned up more of the waistline at the sides than at the front and the back. I'm guessing that this is just doing the opposite of a swayback and swayfront adjustment. It flattens the shaping at the front and back.

My MIL and I went shopping for wool fabric for her coat. She was having a hard time deciding and kept mentioning how she didn't want something too heavy, too warm, and too formal. I then asked her if she really wanted a winter coat. That got her thinking and she started to take a second look at my winter jacket, which I was wearing at the time. Long story short, we've now decided that her jacket will be made of 2-ply Ultrex, like my jacket. I'm glad we didn't just buy the wool fabric online and jump into it.

I'm now working on a second jacket with all the features (like pockets and cuffs). That way I can make sure my pieces actually fit together.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pin-Up Girls Linda Bra #2

I made a second Pin-Up Girls Linda Partial Band Bra. It's still not quite the right size, but I'm getting there.

Sewing this second bra went a little smoother than the first. I didn't have to struggle with tension or the instructions, since I figured that stuff out the first time around.

Inside of the bra
The first bra I made was a size 36B. It fit pretty well in the cups, is a little snug in the band, and the underwires seem a little small. This time around I tried the 38B, which has the next size up underwires. Now for the new reveal...

Not bad, but still not perfect. The underwires feel good, but the bridge is now gaping about 1" away from my body. The cups are slightly too big. I also had some issues with the straps and the band. The band ended up being about 1" too short for comfort! Since this bra was still otherwise wearable, I decided to make a small extension piece out of the bra material.

Again, not perfect, but it still functions and is now no longer too tight. Another issues is that the straps that came with the findings kit from Bra Makers Supply were huge! They are 3/4" wide and I had to really angle them to get them to be close to where they needed to go. As you might notice in the picture above, the right side is a little more than the left. The right side almost sits flat on my back, but the left has some buckling. I prefer much thinner strap elastics for this reason.

Overall, the bra is still wearable and is more comfortable than most RTW bras I have ever owned. For my next bra, I hope to address these fitting issues and get even closer to the right bra for me.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Another Winter Jacket Project

I'm sewing another winter jacket project. Well, actually more of a coat. It's going to be a wool coat for my Mother-in-Law as a Christmas gift. So, I'm tackling a bunch of new challenges at once: sewing for someone else, sewing plus sizes, and sewing with wool.

Of course, first we had to choose a style. My MIL really loves raglan sleeves and I think wants to look like a tent. I joke, but the look she really likes are probably best represented by 1950s swing coats and opera coats. I think the issues are that she never had a coat that actually fit her (like most of us) and that she has body issues (like most of us). So, I persuaded her try a coat that fits (but is not too 'fitted') first.

"Excuse me, tent coming through."
So, my MIL is in the 'plus size' range. I already know how ridiculous that is, since I myself are at the top end of the 'regular size' range and I'm not very big. Thanks to the collection of Burdastyle magazines, I had a lot of patterns to pick through.

Unfortunately, none of the patterns were quite right. There was this raglan sleeve 'bubble' coat pattern (Burdastyle 04/2014 #130):

But, the bubble is almost as bad as a tent, so no dice. I think you would have to be pretty tall to pull off this look.

What we were really looking for, is something more like the raglan sleeve coat I had tried for my winter jacket (Simplicity 2149). Unfortunately, I only have it in small sizes.

To make that pattern, I turned to a dress pattern I had. This dress pattern is a lot like a raglan sleeve sloper (Burdastyle 08/2014 #142).

To turn it into something resembling the coat pattern we wanted, I first added ease to all of the pieces, so they were the right (hopefully) size for a jacket. I aimed for 3" of ease in the bust and 5-6" in the waist and hips. And added 2.5" to the sleeve widths. Below is the original front piece, which I slashed and spread to the right size.

I then re-traced the new front and did the same with the back. Using my new front piece, I eliminated the bodice darts and created a princess seam (this post by ikatbag was very helpful). I positioned the princess seam about 1" to the outside if the original bodice dart for styling. I also added fabric along the center front for a button band.

I stole the collar from Burdastyle Plus Special 2/2014 #405 short coat. It's a really nice asymmetrical collar. I shortened it's height and made it the right length to fit the neckline.

Whew! I've made up a test coat, but I'll save that for another post.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Knitting: Fail or Crisitunity?

I'm almost finished my planned grey cable sweater. But, things have not turned out as I hoped. I finished the body and the sleeves and then blocked the sweater. That's when things didn't go so well. My sweater turned into a dress!

Not horrible, but not what I was going for.

The pattern is May Replay by Debra Hoss. This is what the sweater is supposed to look like:

She looks much happier than I do in the picture above
The pattern is very well written with plenty of good instructions and charts. The sweater is a nice a classical looking cable sweater with 3/4 length and full length sleeve options. The body is knitted in the round until the neckline and then it is knitted flat. The sleeves are knitted flat and then attached to the body.

I wanted to use a nice, soft yarn. Wool often leaves me scratchy. So, I chose Rowan Baby Merino Silk DK. The yarn is super soft and easy to knit with. My only complaint is the occasional knot in the ball (you think that for yarn at this price you wouldn't have that, but oh well...). However, this yarn has a larger gauge than what is used for the pattern and that's where the trouble started.

Using a different gauge than the pattern is usually not a problem for me. I just do a bit of math, chose a size with the stitch count I want, and I'm good to go. I did a test swatch, but I must admit I probably didn't make it large enough (4" wide by 2.5" tall). I found when I washed the swatch, the yarn relaxed a lot and my swatch got much bigger. I found my new gauge, did my math, and away I went.

While I was knitting, I thought I was ok. This is what it looked like before blocking:

Maybe a little snug, but I thought it would block a little bigger, so no panic.

Was I wrong! For whatever reason, my brain must have been shut off when I started this project. I didn't take the time to see what adjustments I should make to the length. So, when I blocked it, it expanded into a dress! I wouldn't mind it too much, except the side shaping is in the wrong place.

It doesn't look too bad in the above photo, but when my arms are down, the narrowest part sits just above my hips and not at my waist. Not a great look.

I tried re-blocking it, but it didn't work. My sweater is about 3"-4" too long, the neckline is plunging, and the armholes are huge. This seems like a complete knitting fail. Sigh...

However, instead of just tossing the sweater away and/or frogging it, it occurred to me that my good friend, who is bigger than me, just might fit in this sweater. I made her try on the body and it fits! Being so near to Christmas, I guess I have knit my friend a Christmas gift. Crisitunity!

I guess I also learned a lesson in making sure my test swatches are big enough. I was just naive, since I've never had this much of a change with other yarns I have used. But now, this sweater is one giant test swatch. So, if I ever use this yarn again, I'll now how big my final project will be.

Once I give my friend the completed sweater, I will take more pictures to share. In the mean time, I must start some other Christmas gifts and re-plan a cable sweater for me.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Costume

It's Halloween! Probably my favourite holiday of the year. This year, I got my act together and made myself a costume from scratch. 

We had our office Halloween party yesterday, so I have pictures to share. Can you guess who I am?

I'm Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas!

To make my costume, I went out and bought a bunch of used t-shirts from second hand stores. The weirder the colour the better.

Some of these t-shirts needed to be cut up more than others...


To make my pattern, I used a simple dress pattern with darts and sleeves (I used Burdastyle 3-2013 #110 from my stash). I wanted to use a pattern with darts to add structure to the dress. I could have made a simple t-shirt style dress with the t-shirt material, but then I might have looked like I was wearing a giant sack of a t-shirt - not the look I was going for.

I copied both halves of both sides of the pattern on brown paper. I then taped the halves together.

From there, I cut up the pieces of the pattern to match Sally's dress as best I could. I wrote on each piece what colour they were going to be and a number, so I wouldn't get confused on what went where.

I cut out my pieces, while adding a 1/2" seam allowance as I went (since the pattern had no seam allowances). To make some of the colours of the pieces better, I gave them a bath in tea.

I boiled water and added several tea bags. I then removed the bags and added the pieces of fabric. I let the fabric sit for some time and then dried them. It made for a nice effect. There was only one yellow shirt and one pink shirt, but now it looks like several different shades.

Then, to add the fun swirls, polka dots, and stripes, I took some brown acrylic paint and hand painted them on. The nice things about Tim Burton-esque designs is that you don't have to be perfect.

Once the paint was dry, I assembled my pieces. I basically ended up with a patchwork quilt for the front and back parts of the dress. From there, it was normal dress assembly - I sewed the front and back together at the shoulders, added the sleeves, and then sewed the side seams. I didn't bother finishing any of the seams or hems, since it's made out of t-shirt material. 

My finishing touches were to add some patches using some iron-on appliqué. I also took some black yarn and added some large stitches along the patch, the sleeve caps, and the center of the bodice.

A little make-up and some white tights, and my costume was complete!

And here's the back:

Not 100% accurate with the movie, but I spent as little time as I could on this costume. It took me about two afternoons to do this (including buying the t-shirts). Plus, a half hour one evening adding the large stitches. Not bad and I won the office costume contest! yay!

This is a very comfortable dress and plan to use it again in the future - I could even wear it for Christmas if I wanted to!

Happy Halloween everyone!