Sunday, April 27, 2014

Spring Means Work

Spring is here and it always means a lot of work for me. So, while I am still working on a few sewing and knitting projects, I have a bunch of other little things taking up my time.

I finally finished cleaning up my 1970's Rayleigh bicycle. It was covered in rust. But, with time and a lot of elbow grease (and some rust remover), my husband and I have it looking pretty good.

For comparison, here is some of the rust before and after.


I now get to ride it to work. All it needs is a rack on the back and a basket in the front. And maybe a Colette Cooper bag to use for work.

Another one of my hobbies is vegetable gardening. This year, I set up my beds with pea gravel over landscaping fabric around them. I want to cut back on the grass and weeds that try to grow in my beds and stop my strawberry plants from trying to take over the yard.

The bed with green leaves is my strawberry patch.

Now, I am going to fill the beds with my lovely kitchen compost (which is now dirt from sitting over the winter). Then, I am going to re-lay my watering system (the black lines in the above picture).

The watering system is a must in the hot, dry summers here (especially, if you have a full time job). They are long, skinny soaker hoses (from Lee Valley) that I have hooked up to a timer. That way, the beds get watered early in the morning and consistently. I also graded my beds so the water will run down them and get all the way to the ends.

After I lay the hoses, I put mulch everywhere to stop weeds from growing and to keep the water in the ground (less evaporation). This has worked pretty well for me for the last couple of years.

Spring also means spring cleaning in the house. Another project is putting together an Ikea dresser. It's a plain pine dresser that I want to dress up. So, I have concocted a nice steal wool and vinegar stain. I'll do a follow up post on how it turns out.

More to come!

Friday, April 25, 2014

A Year Later...

A year ago yesterday, the Rana Plaza clothing factory in Bangladesh caught fire and collapsed. The horrible tragedy caught the attention of people around the world and had many people wonder if their clothing was made in a sweatshop.

A year later, not much has changed. Most people continue to buy clothes without caring how or where they were made and the factories in Bangledesh are still dangerous. There have been some improvements in Bangledesh, such as a raise in wages. But, there is nothing to stop corporations from just setting up shop in another country if they want to continue to use the cheapest labour.

Personally, I am still concerned about how our clothing (and other products) are made. This incident spured me to sew my own clothes or buy sencond hand. So far, this has worked very well for me. I only bought one pair of leggings last year. Everything else was used or made by me.

I hope that this incident still makes people to think about where their clothes come from and that it is not forgotten and doomed to be repeated. However, I think the latter is more likely. Large, global corporations have separated consumers from how their stuff is made. Until this changes, horrible human and environmental tragedies will continue to happen.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Burdastyle Pants 08/2013 #118

I made myself a wearable muslin of Burdastyle 08/2013 #118 pants. I needed new dress pants and want to make a pair that actually fits.

Notes after the jump...

  • Polyester twill (not sure - I found it at a used store for $4)
  • Cotton print (for pocket lining)
  • Thread
  • Interfacing
  • Buttons 
I had all of the materials in my stash, so I didn't have to run to the store to buy anything. I'm using some found polyester twill for the main fabric. I want to get the pattern right before using my nice wool fabric I have waiting to be made into pants.


Burdastyle 08/2013 #118

This is a nice, clean looking pant. It's the kind of look I like for dress pants and easy to change, should I want to.

This is the same pattern I used to make my jeans.


The Burdastyle patterns are close to my measurements, so I only had to make some fitting adjustments. My measurements are 30" waist and 39" hips, which would be a size 42. But, that runs a little big, so a size 40 works better instead of 42.

As I found with the many shirts and jackets I have made, I need to do a swayback adjustment. The front waist dipped down a lot and the back rose up really high. This gave the waistband a really tilted look. To fix this for my muslin, I raised the waistband 1/2" in the front and lowered it 1/2" in the back. I also let out the centre back seam slightly. Before I make my final pants, I will probably make a proper swayback adjustment to my patter and make  another muslin.

Another alteration was taking in the leg width. The pants are way too wide and I like a slimmer look. I took in about 4" on each leg near the bottom. Yet, they are still quite wide. For my next pair, I think I will straighten the leg a little more. I think I made them a little too flared.

What I Learned

I got more practice doing a fly front. I am really proud with how my zipper looks.

I also got to learn how to use a buttonholer. My husband found this 1948 Singer buttonholer for me and it works great with my sewing machine. It's so fast to use it and the results are great. Now, I'm really want to make something with more buttonholes just so I can play with it.

I also got more practice with welt pockets. Still not 100% perfect, but It's getting there.

Overall, I'm really happy with the pants. They are so comfortable! I can't believe how nice it feels to wear something that fits, even though it's made of some really cheap polyester fabric.

It's nice and sunny out, so I'm extra sqwinty

Friday, April 18, 2014

Curved Welt Pockets

The Sewaholic Cordova jacket has side peplums with a curved seam. A straight pocket would interfere with the styling. So, I made curved welt pockets for my Cordova jacket and would like to share how I made mine.

I used several different methods (luckily, I had a lot of extra fabric) and found one that worked well. The steps are after the jump.

right side

Cut a piece of your fabric about 2" larger than the pocket on each side. Cut it on the bias, so that it is will be easier to shape. Place this piece of fabric on top of your garment with right sides touching.

wrong side

On the back side of your garment, add interfacing around the pocket opening. Draw your pocket opening and then stitch along the line to attach your  piece of welt fabric.

wrong side
Cut the pocket opening through the 2 layers, while being careful not to cut your stitching. Pull the welt fabric piece through the opening. It should look like the picture above on the inside of your garment.

wrong side
Press to make a nice opening. Then, fold up and down the welt fabric on the bottom and top of the pocket opening so that they meet in the center. Press them into place. This is where you will play with the fabric until your welts follow the curve.

right side
On the right side you your garment, you should have nice looking welts. Once you are happy with them, pin them in place.

right side
Then, stitch in the ditch or top-stitch the welts into place. If your fabric is very stretchy like mine, you can also baste them into place first. The sewing maching feed dogs tend to move the welts around. I didn't baste, so my welts weren't 100% perfect in the end.

I made a small button loop out of bias tape in my main fabric. I basted it into place before finishing the pocket. You could also make a button hole under the pocket that goes through the outside of the jacket and the smaller pocket piece (the button would be sewn inside the pocket on the larger pocket piece).

wrong side
Cut the excess welt fabric around the pocket opening to about 1". Attach a small pocket lining piece to the bottom welt seam allowance. Create a larger pocket piece that has the main fabric where the pocket opening is and lining for the bottom (like in the picture above). Attach this larger pocket piece to the top welt seam allowance. Then, sew the sides and bottom of the two pocket pieces together.

right side
Above, is what the final pocket should look like on the inside.

All that's left is to sew on the button. This method worked best for me, since I had stretchy fabric that also like to fray a lot. The method that sews on welts a separate pieces didn't work very well, since it was hard to make them follow a curve and the final welt seam allowances were small (there was hardly anything to sew my pocket pieces on, because of all the fraying).

That's it! I hope that this helps someone else out. I think they look great and with my Cordova peplums.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Wardrobe Architect Week 12

Week 12 of the Wardrobe Architect is to look at our accessories. I never considered myself a person with many accessories until I did this. These are the type of accessories I thought of:

I love my purse - someday I'll make an even fancier one, like the one above. I love my sunglasses, which are purple (I don't care that that's not one of my colours). I found a scarf a bit like the one in the picture and I've been wearing it with my Cordova jacket while it's still a bit cool.

I've never been good at figuring out what shoes to wear, but this project has really helped. Now, I'll feel more better paying more for better quality shoes, since I know I will probably wear them.

I like wearing watches. I have silver and I would like an antique brassy one. I also need more belts. Again, something I should get higher quality one's of.

I don't wear a lot of jewellery, but I do like to have lots of earrings with difference colour gems. I like small, dangling earrings. I should probably take this opportunity to throw out all the large, plastic earrings I wore in high school (lol). I also wear a heart necklace my sister gave me.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Sailor Moon Styles!

I am super duper excited about the new Sailor Moon anime that is coming this summer. I have been a big fan since it first aired in English. I still remember the date: August 28th, 1995 at 12:00pm. I looked in the TV Guide (yes, young ones, that used to be a thing) and the name of the show jumped out at me. I watched it and was hooked!

More cool things keep coming out as we get closer to the new show. Sailor Moon inspired clothing is now selling at a Tokyo department store.

I love these little cardigans. I think I could refashion a cardigan for something cute like this.

Check out this post if you want to see more cool pictures.

Side note: I had one of the first Sailor Moon webpages in English. It was so popular, it had about 50,000 hits in one month and almost crashed the server. I wish I kept a copy of it, but even if I did, it would have been on floppies (and if you don't know what a floppy is, that's the issue right there).

Sleeve Heads for My Cordova

I decided to go back and improve my Cordova jacket. I was not happy with how the original shoulders looked. The sleeve caps looked very droopy. Now, they are close to what I wanted: just a little poof.

I tried several different shapes and sizes of shoulder pads and sleeve heads until one worked for me. The shape is crescent-like. I used cotton batting and muslin to make the sleeve head.

The sleeve head is attached to the armhole seam. I basted it into place and then machine sewed it when I was happy with it.

Overall, it is not a huge change. But, i think it looks a little less like my arms are falling off.

I think the shoulder seams may still be a bit far off of the shoulder. I think next time I make a jacket, I will measure an existing jacket from shoulder seam to shoulder seam to compare. Overall, the sleeve heads improved the look of the jacket enough that I am happy to wear it.

Here is my jacket with improved sleeve caps.

What do you think?


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Wardrobe Architect Week 11

Week 11 of the Wardrobe Architect  is to compare our silhouettes to what we actually already own and look for any holes. These were my silhouettes and colours:

This step was a lot like I had done earlier when wardrobe planning. Except, I found it even easier, since I could also focus on colours and patterns. This exercise made it easier get rid of even more clothes that just aren't 'me' and that I hardly wear. Storage in my small bedroom is an issue, so I like that I am able to get rid of more stuff. What I do keep will probably last longer, since I will no longer be smashing and stuffing it into a drawer.

Right away, I found out that I need another pair of dress pants and some capris pants (for when it warms up a bit). I will probably use Burdastyle 08/2013#118 - the same pattern I used to make my jeans.

I've started knitting a light featherweight cardigan using some Debbie Bliss Rialto Lace in Willow. Hopefully, it will turn out.

I already got a jacket for my wardrobe. Of course, I made my Cordova with my Wardrobe Architect exercises in mind. I might make one other even lighter jacket for when it gets just a bit warmer. Maybe something like this cute Safari jacket (Burdastyle 02/2011 #127).

And of course, I would love to sew a few more knit tops. But, I my challenge there will be finding knit fabric that I like. The search is on!

Friday, April 4, 2014

My Brotherly Coopers

I made my brother and my borther-in-law a Cooper each for their birthdays. Their birthdays are in January and these Coopers only finally got to them now. It took me from the beginning of January to mid-March to make them. I had so many setbacks (like the broken sewing machine), that I'm so happy they are finally done!


Colette Patterns Cooper
My brother's Cooper is the green one. It is a combination of green cotton canvas and tan dockers cotton twill.

Both bags have the same features. They are a mixture of the different pattern views. I also handsewed on some leather buckles to help keep the flap secure.

The navy bag is for my brother-in-law. It's a combination of the tan dockers cotton twill and navy polyester twill.

The leather buckles were definitely a challenge. My husband, who has more experience with sewing leather, showed me how to do it. I used leather belts and bags from a secondhand store for the leather.

Each bag has the bike rack straps on the back.

I'm really happy with the bag linings. I spent *hours* trying to find the right fabric for the insides. I finally found some on For my brother, I found a lovely cotton wolf print (he loves wolves).

Similarly, for my brother-in-law, I found a lovely cotton deer print. The Parks and Rec theme song plays in my head when I look at it.

And I added the messenger straps, but also made shoulder pads. On the inside of the shoulder pads, I added a bit of the lining fabric.

I learned a lot from sewing these bags. Mainly, they are a lot of work! I thought they would be easy, since you don't have to worry about sizing the pattern to fit a body. Plus, while I could easily draft a bag pattern myself, the pattern has the advantage of having all of the little bits and pieces already drafted for you.

However, if you are picky in any way about fabric and hardware choices, it can take forever to find what you need. If you live in a bigger city, you might be fortunate to have a few stores to easily find what you need. I did not have a good source for fabric or hardware. I ended up buying some of my hardware at secondhand stores and some online. I spent hours on fabric sites looking for the right fabrics. I think I was reduced to tears one point. In addition to time, all of the bits and pieces took a lot of money. It all came together at the end, but it was not easy.

Overall, I am really happy with how the bags turned out. My brother and my brother-in-law love their bags, too.

I might make myself a bag, but I might take a little break from bag making first.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Wardrobe Architect Week 10

This week's Wardrobe Architect exercise is to pick a few colours from each colour category that we came up with in week six. These colours are going to be our palette for our Spring/Summer wardrobe. I found this easy, since I was already sort of doing this when picking my silhouettes last week. Without further ado, here are my picks:

Light grey, light taupe,
light green, pink, pale blue, navy blue
teal and scarlet red
The only thing I will note, is that I changed my earlier 'dark cyan' to teal. Not much of a difference, but I think it works best with the other colours.