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!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Pin-Up Girls Linda Bra

I took the plunge and made myself a bra! It was a lot easier and less scary than I thought it would be.


All of the materials, *except the underwires*, were included in the Newbie Kit from Bra Makers Supply. (I, of course, forgot the underwires.... sigh).

I bought the kit with the manual. It came with the choice of book or CD manual. I choose the CD manual, because it was less expensive. The manual is nice, but everything you need to know to sew the bra together is in the pattern instructions. The manual will be good if I plan on any design alterations in the future.

The kit includes enough fabric and findings for two bras. I have a small bra size, so I have enough fabric to make another bra or two, but will need more findings (and underwires).

As for needles, I did all of my sewing with a 80/12 Ballpoint. I found that I need to have my normal tension when sewing the elastics to the bra, less tension when sewing just the bra material (ie. sewing the cup pieces), and more tension when sewing underwire casings to the cups.


Pin-Up Girls "Linda" (#8230) Partial Band Bra

The pattern along with what is left of my pink bra kit
The instructions were easy to follow. A couple steps could use a few more notes. For example, it says sew the underwire casing 1/2" down from the front and 1" down from the sides. But, it does not say to do this for the top stitching and the top stitching picture shows stitching all the way to the top. It would be nice if it were mentioned again, as this would make it easier if you sew like me - I often put a project down to do other things (I do work full-time after all!) and forget the point of previous steps. So, I of course had to undo some top stitching.

The instructions are also not clear when sewing on the back bra strap. At first, I sewed them at a 1/4" seam allowance, but the ends were too big to fit into the hook and eye pieces. So, I resewed them matching the outside of the bra strap with the bra band edge and that seemed to work.

Wrong side of the bra
As for sizing, I'm somewhere in around a 36B and 34C according to my measurement. I went with a 36B, since that is the size I often buy in the store. This is usually the best fitting size out of what I have to choose from at the store, but I don't think I've ever had a bra that actually fits.

I am amazed with how well my Linda bra actually fits! It's a little snug, but it's definitely better than any bra that I've ever bought. Now for the reveal...

Not bad for my first bra! It's pretty comfortable. It is a little wrinkly in the picture, because I'm holding my arms in an awkward way for taking pictures.

The underwire is a little snug and the hooks and eyes are at the largest setting. I think I might try a 36C using the rest of my kit for a comparison. From there, I should be able to find out what works for me and make many more.

While I paid quite a bit to make just two bras (I think I spent around $190), I have a bra that fits and I now have the knowledge and skills to make many more bras. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, I have some left over fabric for a couple more bras on top of that (I'll just need more findings).

Friday, October 17, 2014

My Easy Renfrew

I love knit tops and wanted to make another one for fall - something like the Sewaholic Renfrew, but more relaxed. Since I had already spent a lot of time getting the sleeves and armholes to look right on the Renfrew pattern, I decided to use it and make even more alterations!

  • Plum Dakota Jersey (Rayon 95%, Spandex 5%)
  • Stay tape
  • Thread
The fabric is so soft and drapey! I love how comfortable it feels. 


Sewaholic Renfrew

I used the same fitting alterations from my second Renfrew. There are still a few wrinkles that come from the armholes and stick out towards the bust, but they are minimal compared to my first Renfrew.

I tried the V-neck version for the first time. I turned out ok, but I definitely need more practice. It looks a little off-centre and a bit more U shaped than V shaped.

Style Alteration

My biggest alteration was adding ease in the shirt. I wanted a nice flowy top that I could wear to work, but still feel comfortable in. I borrowed some ideas from drafting my Easy T, and created my Easy Renfrew.

I graded the side of the pattern pieces adding an extra 1.5" of ease near the bottom and starting at the original seam about 2" below the armhole. Overall, this added about 6" of ease near the hips and about 2" near the waist. I outlined the original pattern in blue in the picture below, so you can see what I added.

I also added 2.5" at the bottom of the shirt, omitted the bottom band, and created a curved hem. To create a curved hem, I had to make a 1.5" wide facing that matched the bottom of the shirt. The jersey would not sew a nice and flat hem otherwise.

The curved hem was a lot of work and is too subtle. I think I won't bother doing it again in the future and just go with a straight hem. I do love how long it is in the back - I have good coverage when I sit down or bend over.

Overall, I really like my new shirt.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Butterick 5286 #3

It was my hubby's birthday yesterday. For one of his gifts, I made him another pair of Butterick 5286.

I won't make too many notes, since I've already did that with the first and second pairs. I will say that the third time is a charm. I made a length adjustment even before cutting. I knew what size to make the elastic. I'm getting much better at finishing seams with the serger. Everything so much easier.

I'm also proud of my plaid matching along the front and side seams. The cotton fabric was easy to work with and lay out for cutting. Because I was able to cut where I wanted to, it was really simple to line up the plaid while sewing.

Side seam below pocket
I really love this plaid fabric and I'm happy with how these pajamas turned out.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Wardrobe Architect Revised pt. 6

In this post, I'm going back over the last few exercises of the Coletterie Wardrobe Architect series. Week 11 is about going over our capsule wardrobe and seeing what holes there are.

I feel even better than I did last time I did this exercise about where I want to go with my wardrobe. I've already started filling many of the gaps. Here is what I'm focusing on:
  • More lightweight cardigans (already started with my Featherweight cardigan)
  • A simple cable pullover (coming soon!)
  • More knit tops (I've made some, but I need more Renfrews in other colours)
  • More loose blouses 
  • A Liberty/floral shirt 
  • Skinny pants and jeans (I've temporarily filled this gap with second hand pairs)
I've already done some of the other pieces, such as the cargo jacket, my winter jacket, the beige capris, and shorts. Everything is coming together and I already think I'm a better dresser. It's also much easier to get dressed in the morning, since I know that most of my clothes go together.

On to Week 12: Adding Accessories. Most of this is the same from the last time I did it, except I'm a little more certain on footwear after doing some research. For example, I bought some Tom shoes. They are simple and stylish. Tom shoes also promises to donate a pair for each pair you buy to someone in need.

I also bought myself some new winter boots. I decided to go with a pair of LL Bean boots that are made in Maine. I'm really happy with these boots; they are so comfortable and cozy. I almost can't wait for the snow.

My only problem now is finding some sort of fall boot or shoe that is good for the cool weather, when it is too cool for the Toms and too warm for the Bean boots. And that's right now, so I have to keep looking. Other accessories I need are new winter gloves and a scarf.

Week 13 and 14 are about organizing your Wardrobe Architect work and going through your wardrobe and purging. I did that several times this year and even donated to Big Brothers and Big Sisters a garbage bag full yesterday!

That's it! Stay tuned for more clothes that fit into my wardrobe.