Sunday, November 1, 2015

Mystery Knit-A-Long Afghan Progress

For months, I have been knitting the Kaffe Fasset Mystery Knit-A-Long Afghan and I'm getting closer to the end!

I only have 2 and a half square left to knit and then I can start piecing it all together. Just in time for colder weather.

I must say that this project has been great for keeping up my knitting with a puppy in the house. It is an easy project to put down mid-row and pick up again days later. The little squares are easier to hold out of reach when the puppy decides to jump on me. I did have a few incidents of balls of yarn being stolen and tossed about the room, but at least it wasn't part of a sweater.

I just hope piecing it all together won't be a horrible experience. I've never knit such a large project before. Wish me luck!

Friday, October 2, 2015

New Sweater for my New Dog

I haven't had time for much sewing lately, but I've been knitting away. With the colder weather approaching, I decided it was time to make a sweater for my 1 year old puppy.

The pattern is the Perfect Fit Dog and Cat Pattern by Jessika Lane. I used this pattern for my older dog when I was first getting back into knitting a few years ago. It is a great pattern for beginners and makes a very practical sweater for your pets.

The yarn I used for the project is fancy Rowan Pure Wool Worsted that I had in my stash. It's remarkably sturdy and yet soft. I find it very easy to knit with. I also like the idea that it is superwash.

I ran out of the blue before I could make the back bottom as long as I wanted. So, I extended the green ribbing on the back by knitting back and forth and using wrap-and-turns. My alteration actually worked out very well.

Now, both my doggies are ready for the impending colder weather.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

More Maternity Pants

Earlier, I posted about turning old pants into maternity pants. I've found another pair of secondhand pants to convert. This time, I'm going to use a completely different method. I'll call this Method 3: Converting Large Pants. For methods 1 and 2, see the older post.

Method 3: Converting Large Pants

To make maternity pants this way, I found a pair of pants that fit over my belly. Basically, the pants were a couple of sizes bigger than my regular size.

Before my alterations, the pants were super baggy in the legs. All I had to do to make them look right, was to alter the legs. To do this, I laid out my pair of well fitting Ginger Jeans on top, lined up the crotches, and traced the new leg shape (I made sure that both pants had the same amount of stretch, too). I graded the existing burgundy pants seam from about the bottoms of side pockets to the near the crotch level of the pants and then followed my Ginger jeans' shape. I also added about 1/2" width compared to my jeans because I wanted them a little looser.

To be even lazier with my changes, I matched up the in-seams of the pants. That way I only took in the extra fabric from the outside seams. The outside seams were easier to alter, since they were not top-stitched into place like the in-seams were. Doing this could cause off-grain fabric issues. But, I decided to take a gamble, since the fabric is so dark and the pants only cost me $4. In the end, I don't think I can tell.

The result is a pair of maternity pants that feel and look like regular pants. The fabric is also better quality than most off-the-rack maternity pants are made with. I find them super comfortable and I think the colour is great for fall.

I'm about 21 weeks along. There is still room in the belly area for my tummy to grow. Once I get too big, I can go back and use one of the other methods of making maternity pants to make them fit again.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Outfit Alterations

I've finished altering some of the clothing I found at the secondhand shop and now have a new maternity outfit. First up for alterations were a too large maternity blouse and a pair of messed up maternity pants.

The top was simply way too big - it was more like a dress. 

From reading pattern top back lengths and from adding some pins where I thought the top was about 4" too short. I cut off the bottom 3", leaving a hemming allowance.

The top was also missing its waistband tie. I used the now scrap bottom back piece of fabric and cut it into 1" strips. I sewed the pieces together similar to making bias tape. I tried to use a bias tape folder to iron the strip, but the polyester would not hold its shape. I ended up just serging along one edge and then folding the strip in three sections as I sewed, with the serged edge covering the non-serged edge.

It worked and my shirt now has a tie!

The maternity jeans were a different story. They are cheap Walmart George jeans that were not cut very well. As a result, the legs twist terribly. The right leg in-seam is particularly horrible. It actually twists almost around the front of the leg to the other side when wearing. Below, you can see how the seams like to lie in a very crooked manner. This is a good example of fabric not being cut on the grain properly (see this Closet Case Files post for more about this).

I decided correct the problem as much as I could by turning the jeans from flared legs to skinny legs. While I did this, I took more off one side of a seam than the other to 'pull' it back into a proper place. For example, I took a lot out of the right leg back in-seam side and nothing out of the corresponding front side (which meant I had to rip open the seams instead of just sewing a new spot).

The seams are still a bit twisted, but now it's not as noticeable. There are some back leg wrinkles because I took a lot of fabric out around my calves. But, I wanted to take as much fabric out as I could to fix the twisting problem.

Tada! A whole new outfit. And I think I paid only $3 for the shirt and $4 for the pants.

I finished this outfit and took these pictures almost two weeks ago when I was about 19 weeks.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

More Fall Wardrobe Planning

I had lots of fun planning my fall/winter maternity wardrobe. Using some of what I learned last year by going through the Colette Wardrobe Architect, I've created a whole new wardrobe.

I did a bit more of an abridged plan this time. I made sure to stick to simple colours that I love and that I already having clothing in. Also, I stayed away from light colours and pastels, since this is for the colder months. I picked my colours while doodling out what I already have and what I would like to have.

I got to bust out the colouring pencils and I had a lot of fun. By drawing it all out, I realized that I had a lot of things that I wanted and/or needed. Instead of trying to make all of it from scratch, I decided that my next step was to check what used clothing I could find first.

I headed to one of the local chain second hand stores with a large selection of women's clothing. I ended up finding everything I wanted and more for just $64. That's right, a whole new wardrobe for $64!!!

My haul
I was quick at picking out what would work - much quicker than I used to be. Because I have done so much sewing from scratch, I am a much better (and faster) judge on what is a good fit and/or what I can mend. Having colours and specific items in mind made things all the faster. I was also getting quite a few compliments from women who peered into my basket and saw how well my colours were working together.

And I'm happy that I found some pants that can be converted or mended into functioning maternity pants. Just in time for the cooler weather.

So, if you are on the fence as to whether making a wardrobe plan is a good idea or not, I would say that it is. You can save a lot of time and money and end up looking quite 'put together' with just a little work (whether you plan to buy new, used, or sew).

Saturday, August 22, 2015

DIY Maternity Pillow

I like to sleep on my back, but I'm already started having issues with my growing mid-section. I woke up a few times with pins-and-needles in my arms and legs (yes, arms too! - I don't know why). So, I decided to make a maternity pillow.

There are some huge monster pillows you can make. And while they look comfortable for the user, I don't see how anyone else can fit in the bed! So, I decided to try out the simple Instructables tutorial that just uses a pillow.

I used a standard pillow that I bought for $6. The tutorial calls for a king size, but I wanted to see if I could keep things more compact. I filled the pillow sides with most of the stuffing that came for the entire pillow so that it would be extra firm.

I've used it for the past few nights and I'm here to report that it works. The first night, I had it a little high and my lower back hurt because it wasn't being supported. The last few nights, I've been making sure that it's at least as low as my mid-butt area (near the tail bone) and it has worked great. No more pins-and-needles. My shoulders and upper back feel better too, since I can keep my shoulder in a better spot when I'm lying on my side.

All I need now is a small pillow for between my knees. Right now, I've just been stuffing the comforter between my knees, but that won't work once the weather gets colder.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Alteration for Maternity/Nursing Top

I used one of my existing patterns to sew a maternity and nursing top with just a couple of alterations.

The pattern that I used is Butterick 5356. It's a very simple kimono top pattern that could be drafted on your own if you want (just search for "how to draft kimono tee" in google). The top of the shirt is split into contrasting colours and the front bottom piece has gathers to make room for the bust. It was this bottom front piece that I altered to make nursing friendly.

If you look at the picture above, you will see that there is a pocket by my underarm. What I did was create two bottom front pieces: the regular front with a side opening and a panel underneath.

To make the new front piece with side opening, I simple folded down the corner a few inches (as big as I wanted my opening less seam allowances). To make the panel piece, I traced the bottom front piece on a piece a parchment paper. I then cut half a U-shape in the center front (the bottom of the U is about an inch above the waist mark) and ended piece about 3" below the waist mark.

While cutting, I decided to make my U a little narrower and added back on about 2". I wanted to make sure I would have good coverage (since I plan on wearing it as a maternity work shirt) and the fabric I used is super stretchy. The center front of the U is cut on the fold.

I serged the edge of the U and the bottom of the panel. I also serged the opening edges of the openings and folded them down 1/2" and top-stitched with a zig-zag stitch. Then, I basted the two pieces together and continued sewing the pattern as normal.

Above is the wrong side of the front of the shirt, with my nice U-shape opening in place. And it works!

The back of the shirt is nice and simple.

I finished the collar by making a neck bindings in a similar way to making a t-shirt (see the Sewaholic Renfrew tutorials for what I mean). But, to make it less t-shirt looking, I only made the final collar about 1/4" wide.

Fabric choice was important for the lower part of the shirt. I went with a cotton-rayon-spandex blend that has about 70% stretch in one direction and 50% in the other. This means that the nursing pockets are easy to use, the top is super-duper comfortable, and I have plenty of room to grow.

The top fabric is a simple cotton jersey (like you find with most t-shirts).

I'm 16 weeks pregnant and feeling pretty stylish in my new top.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Burdastyle Maternity Dress

I haven't had much time for sewing lately. But, I did manage to get a jersey maternity dress sewed up. I'm at 14 weeks and starting to show. Many of my pants and other dresses are starting to get a little too tight, so this dress is perfect.


Burdastyle V-Neck Empire Waisted Maternity Dress 01/2015 #121
(What a long name for a pattern!)


I used a really stretchy jersey knit that I found at a local fabric store. It has about 70% stretch in one direction and 50% stretch in the other. It's really soft and has a fluid drape.


The pattern is meant for a woven non-stretch fabrics (eg. crepe satin). So, I had to make a number of alterations.

Usually, I am a size 42 in Burda patterns. So, I traced a size 44 with no seam allowances. I was being a little risky here, but figured there was a great chance that I would have more than enough fabric in my pieces because it was so stretchy.

I found that I had plenty of fabric in the bodice. I ended up sewing 1" seam allowances on the shoulder seam. This made the bodice land at the right spot (somewhere below the bust and a bit above wear my disappearing waist).

I also sewed a 1" seam allowance under the arms and graded it to a 1/2" seam allowance at the elastic waist. I continued with a 1/2" seam allowance for the skirt to keep all the fullness I could. I mainly sewed a 1" seam allowance under the arm because I didn't like how much the armhole would have gaped.

Another alteration was to sew strips for edging at the neckline and armholes. It just seemed like what would keep such a stretchy jersey stable in those places. It works and I really like the look.

I also cut the back piece on the fold instead of cutting out two separate back pieces.

Alterations that I made for more for style, rather than the stretchy fabric are:

- Widening and lengthening the ties - I can tie it in the front, instead of having a knot of fabric in my back when I'm sitting in a chair;

- Making the skirt more of an A-line instead of a straight skirt - I did this by grading out from the waist to about an extra 6" at the bottom sides of both the front and back pattern pieces.;

- Overlapping the front faux wrap pieces by an extra inch - this made the neckline sit a little higher, which provides better coverage and looks more current to me.

I didn't have  to draft my own pockets for once. The pattern already had them - yay!

I love how flowy and comfortable this dress is. I think it's the best dress that I've sewn yet. It's great in the hot weather and I plan to pair it with leggings in the fall. I will also be able to wear it next year as will be great for nursing.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Fall Wardrobe Planning

Soon enough, the weather is going to cool down and I'll have grown too big to fit into a lot of things. To make sure I'm not caught unawares, I've started planning my next sewing projects. I've also decided to covert some of my stretchy skinny jeans into maternity pants.

I tried two different methods of making maternity pants: cutting out the pockets and cutting off the waistband. I won't go into how to do the sewing, since there are lots of tutorials out there. Instead, I'm going to review what I found to be the pros and cons with each way.

Method 1: Cutting out the Pockets

For this method, you cut out the pockets (part of the waistband and innermost pocket lining) and sew back in a piece of stretch knit that is the same size as what you cut out.

Some of the disadvantages are that it can be finicky to sew. You have to watch out that you are not sewing into rivets, etc. Also, since these pants were very stretchy and a very low rise to begin with, they now no longer want to stay up.

It also didn't help that the knit fabric I used had about 100% stretch. That meant there was little to help keep the pants up anymore. To fix this, I sewed a strip of 3/8" elastic along the top. The pants are now a little snugger, while still able to fit any "expansion". If I sew with this method again, I will probably sew elastic into the top seam allowance and tuck it inside the waistband.

The best thing about this method is that you can use fairly small scraps of knit fabric. So, if you don't have a lot of fabric to work with, this method is great.

Method 2: Cutting off the Waistband

This method involves just cutting of the waistband and sewing a large strip of fabric in place. I cut out the zipper and sewed the fly shut. This made sewing even easier, since I only had to work in a straight line.

These pants were easier to sew and may fit better than the other pair, since if they do slide down, you are still covered (I have not been able to test them yet). My knit fabric was quite stretchy and slinky, so I sewed in an elastic around the top to keep it in place. 

The biggest disadvantages I can see is that you use more fabric. And, it might take a second longer to get out of since the top waistband might be way up inside your shirt. 

One thing that a lot of the tutorials out there don't mention is that you should use a zigzag stitch when sewing the band to the top (especially if the jeans are also stretchy).

What Else is Working Right Now...

So, far I have been pretty lucky with the wardrobe I have. A number of my past sewing projects are getting worn all the time now. 

For pants, I'm loving: 

Burdastyle 03/2013 #104

Crop Pants

Both have high waists and are cotton with a bit of spandex in them.

For tops, I'm loving:

Sewaholic Belcarra 2

Sewaholic Belcarra

Butterick 5356

The Belcarra blouse is just roomy enough for now. The Butterick 5356 is perfect and there is more room to grow. I'm definitely going to make more of that pattern.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Burdastyle 06/2014 #118 Shorts 2

Back to sewing clothes! I made a second pair of Burdastyle 06/2014 #118 shorts. 

I used up more of my stash and used the leftover fabric from my Fall Jacket. I won't go into too many details about the pattern, since you can read my notes on my first pair.

I made a few alterations because I was working with scraps. I lowered the rise by 1/2" (I basically just folded all the pieces down at 1" from the top. I lined the pockets with some other scrap fabric that I had. For the waistband, I used 1 1/2" elastic instead of 2" elastic and made the waistband fabric from several pieces sewn together. I was really working with the bare minimum of fabric.

Lowering the rise really helped with the fit. The shorts now hit me at my bellybutton, whereas the first pair sits above it. This means I have less fabric pooling at my stomach when I sit down.

Another thing that I did with these shorts (and the first pair, too), was to put a few tacking stitches through the waistband on two sides. This really helps to stop the elastic from trying to twist out of place.

As with the first pair, I will probably wear them with my shirt untucked. The shorts are super comfortable and just what I need.

Pinch Pleat Curtains

I made some new curtains for the second bedroom. I wanted something fun and yet not too childish. So, I turned to the Kaffe Fassett collection for ideas.

I chose this Shanty Town quilt fabric by Brandon Mably. It comes in several different colour-ways that are all beautiful. I went with the ochre colour-way, as I thought that would look best in a yellow bedroom.

I made pinch pleats on the top. I won't go into detail on how I did it, since there are many wonderful tutorials on the web.

The curtains are lined with super thick blackout material that I had in my stash. I had just enough for the two curtains.

Now that the curtains are done, I can fill the holes and paint the walls. You might notice that the ceiling and trim are already done. I'm going to paint the walls the same yellow colour. I love the colour, but it's the original paint (from 1949!) and I'm pretty sure that it's lead paint. So...

Anyways, I love the curtains and I love the fabric. I even bought a half yard in the purple to make a pillow or something.