Monday, May 18, 2015


I thought I'd have more to share with you all at this point, but we are currently playing the waiting game....with everything. I'm four weeks from my due date and we are in the process of a buying a new house (as we have currently busting our 1.5 bedroom house at the seams). We were NOT intending to move for another year or so, giving ourselves plenty of time to adjust to two small children, but we ran into one of those "too good to pass up" situations and jumped on it as fast as we could. Now that we're in the paperwork stage though, everything has slowed down to a glacial speed. So, we're waiting on getting a closing date set, waiting for this baby to get here, waiting until we can actually start moving/painting, waiting to get our house ready to rent, and waiting until we can get any of the baby stuff set up since we don't know what's going to happen first; baby or house. I'm trying to keep my activity level down so this kid doesn't decide to show up too early, but I've been plugging away at my mohair cardigan, FINALLY cleaning out my fabric scrap bin(s), slowly packing our life into boxes and waiting for someone to tell me it's finally ok to start moving forward with something. I was actually tempted to cut out a blouse for myself this weekend (and get another Vintage Pattern Pledge worthy project knocked out), but then remembered I'd already boxed up my fabric stash, with the exception of the wool I've got cut for my new coat. I may try and get a little thread tracing done on that in the next couple of weeks if I can squeeze the time in somewhere, but I'm not holding out too much hope for that. I did go ahead and opt for potting a few pepper and cherry tomato plants so I can move them easily without hurting them, and it's been killing me not being able to get my other tomato vines in the ground yet. So that's that. Hopefully in another couple of weeks I'll have some more entertaining/interesting things to it a baby or the new sewing machine set-up I'll be working out in the new house. For now I'll leave you with a pretty dose of spring from a friend's yard. They've cheered up the dining room table a bit, since it's surrounded by boxes and bags of stuff on nearly every side.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Palette cleansers

After the failed experiment that was my 1950s maternity shorts, and the busy prints and fussy bits involved in the previous two projects, I decided it was time for something quick, easy, brainless and rewarding. I dove into the stash and pulled out this odd shade of silvery green linen that I'd been planning to use for a skirt. The drape is gorgeous, and I knew it would be perfect for a comfortable, breezy circle skirt. Now, this is clearly a post-baby project, so I have a few months before I'll be able to get myself into it, but it's exciting to know you have new clothes to wear in upcoming months/seasons as well, and it was nice to sew a real waistband, too.

I used to have a few full-circle skirts in my wardrobe, but over time because of weight fluctuations, aesthetic changes, and overall massive size of wardrobe, I ended up getting rid of all but one. The one I kept was originally a dress that my mom bought at a thrift store in 1973 or '74 and then I wore it until the bodice disintegrated and then made it into a skirt. Judging from the overall shape/style it's probably from around 1950, but the best part about it is the CRAZY print on the fabric. Organ grinders, fisherman, farmers and gypsies. Need I say more? But I digress. I love circle skirts. They're so comfortable and chic, and all that swishy fabric makes you feel kind of glamorous without a whole lot of effort. Since I cleared out my closet I've been wanting more of them, and when I found this yardage in the infamous "communal stash" I knew exactly what it wanted to be. While I wanted to get a jump on another project for the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge, this was going to be a much simpler endeavor, and it kinda sorta counts since it's essentially a 1950s skirt despite being self drafted. I cut the back in two separate panels because of yardage limitations, so there is a center back seam where I put the zipper; my first invisible zipper I might add. It was the only zipper in my stash that was the right color, and it meant I got to try out my new invisible zipper foot as well. Not the worst thing in the world I have to say.

Best of all.....POCKETS! I debated for a while about whether I wanted to do in-seam pockets or oversized patch pockets, but after a little feedback from the ladies at We Sew Retro and considering what I actually wanted out of this project as a sewing experience, I opted for the less mentally taxing task of in-seam pockets. The patch pockets were going to require much more planning and thought than my poor little brain wanted to tackle at this juncture, plus you really can't go wrong with simple, clean lines.

I let the skirt hang for about four days before leveling it, hemming it to about 27 inches in length. This is going to be a real test, since I couldn't try it on myself to check the length and make sure I had everything level visually, but I'm hoping I got it pretty close. I hemmed it about half an inch longer in the back to account for body curvature that Tabitha doesn't have, tapering it out to the side seams.
Since the fabric is so lightweight, and because I wanted to prevent further stretching on the bias, I opted for a fairly narrow hem. I was going to use a bias band or hem tape to finish it, but I didn't have enough of anything to go around all 6 or so yards of hem on this puppy, so I just turned it under. It made things a tad more fiddly as far as getting it to lay smoothly, but since it's linen everything pressed pretty nicely once I had it all stitched.

I've actually gotten started (FINALLY) on my next winter coat project, a self education in couture tailoring techniques, but so far I've just got the outer fabric cut. I also still have a couple of dresses planned for the Vintage Pattern Pledge, but am approaching a VERY busy couple of months around here (and not just a new baby, but more on that later), so I'm not sure when I'll be able to get around to those. I'm planning on doing some more detailed process posts while I work my way through this winter coat, not only so you can see a little more of how I work, but also so those of you unfamiliar with the hand tailoring process can learn a little along with me. I'm hoping to be back in a couple of weeks with more on that.

Have a good week!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Project progress: Hazy mohair

I've got some progress on another knitting project to share with you all today. It's a total departure from the sock knitting I've been doing for the last few months, and it feels nice to get back to what I'm more accustomed to working on....a sweater! I'm making myself a cardigan for next fall/winter so I've got something warm (and new) to wear that is still nursing friendly, unlike the last sweater I made for myself. I love it, but a cardigan is definitely going to be more user friendly for the next year. 

The yarn I'm using is a GORGEOUS, un-dyed mohair yarn that I got at our new LYS, A Yarn Crossing. It's so nice to have a great LYS around again. We haven't had one within a reasonable distance for years and I'm seriously loving this one. One of the things I really love about them is that they have a consignment section for local farmers, spinners, dyers, etc to sell their wares. This yarn is from one of their consignors, H & K Farms. I went in for one thing and then walked around for ages trying to make up my mind once I saw this. I couldn't stop touching it, but the color was not one that I generally wear or that is particularly flattering, so I just couldn't decide. One of the owners finally helped convince me to buy it, though (although it was actually something he wanted for a project himself). It's been working up beautifully, and it feels like silk. 

I wanted to make a simple, classic cardigan, and the pattern I finally decided on using is one from Kim Hargreaves' North which was released this past season. The pattern is called Honesty, and I fell in love with it (and numerous other patterns from the book) as soon as I saw it. 

The simple stockinette body, the subtle shaping, the deep v-neck and the long sleeves were absolutely perfect, and it's actually designed for a mohair yarn. I did decide that I wanted to crop it to waist length, though. While I do love everything about the design as is, I do tend to prefer waist-length sweaters as they work better with the proportions I go for in my wardrobe (my winter wardrobe in particular). Because of the simple stitch pattern it was really easy to shorten, and it's been knitting up pretty quickly. I've gotten the back and a fair amount of the left front finished at this point, although I've only gotten pictures of the back. 

cropped Honesty cardigan back

The color of this yarn is so difficult to capture. It's a really beautiful golden brown color with an incredible sheen to it. This goat has some seriously stunning hair, and it feels like buttah.

Back detail mohair cardigan

Waist ribbing mohair cardigan

The original pattern calls for pressing each piece in it's entirety (ribbing included) since it's a hip length sweater, but since I want a more '50s silhouette I think I'm probably going to leave the ribbing alone and just press the rest of the body and sleeves. I've started thinking about what sort of buttons I want to use for the finished sweater, and while I'm a huge fan mother of pearl/shell buttons on just about everything. They tend to have fairly sharp edges, though, and I don't want anything too abrasive against this yarn. I've been toying with the idea of a brushed gold, or maybe a brass button. I'll have to take a look at a few options against it before I can make any sort of decision. 

I've also been gearing up to start work on some post-baby sewing in the near future. I've got a couple of fabric/pattern options to decide between, and I'm leaning towards another version of my favorite 1940s challis dress in an orange on white floral print.....or I may make a new skirt. We'll see. Hope everyone has had a good week!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Knowing when to quit

Ok, so I was working on another summer maternity project for the Vintage Pattern Pledge (and to give myself one more garment for the hot weather, but......things just aren't working out. I have had this 1950s pants/shorts pattern in my stash for a while and have always been intrigued about how they work, since they're designed for wovens and don't feature the gaping hole in front that many of the old skirt patterns have in order to make room for your stomach. I had enough denim left from my overalls to make up the shorts, more as an experiment than anything else. I wasn't ever super invested in having them be wearable, although that would have been a bonus. I got them cut out and mostly sewn up. Then I tried them on.

The front panels that extend out in order to overlap and cover everything up are doing something hella weird. I'm not sure if it's because of stretching not he curved edges or what, but it makes them poke out all crazy, and while shifting the waistband down a couple of inches at the front edges and then tapering the adjustment out to the side seams makes that stop, then it does all kinds of weird stuff to the grain at the top edge, and yadda yadda yadda. After letting them sit around for a couple of weeks trying to decide how to fix them I've decided I'm not going to bother.

My to-do list for the next ten-ish weeks is insane, and I've got PLENTY of other stuff to occupy my time with than trying to make a pair of shorts I'll wear for three weeks fit right. I didn't spend anything on the fabric, it took all of about an hour and a half of work so far. I'm not out anything. Chalk it up to experience.

1950s maternity pants and shorts sewing pattern

I've been working on a knitting project that I'm about 30% finished with (a mohair cardigan from GORGEOUS yarn that came from a local goat farm), and I've got a couple of other things I want to try and get finished this summer, which will require starting pretty soon since my sewing time is about to disappear almost completely. I've still got at least two patterns to get through for the Vintage Pattern Pledge, and I think I may start one of those in the near future. It's non-maternity, but I've used it before and I've got my alteration/fitting notes, so I'm pretty confident I can work on it without being able to fit it on myself as I go.

The brief cold snap we had this week finally broke and I took advantage of the sunny (although chilly) day to spend some time outside getting these puppies thinned and transferred into peat pots. I've still got a while before it's time to put summer crops in the ground, but I've got some cole crops in for the first time right now that I'm pretty excited about. We'll see how they do.

Hope everyone else is getting to enjoy some nice spring weather!

Friday, March 13, 2015

1901 Corset or "There's no such thing as too many bows!"

This has been sitting around for ages waiting to be photographed and blogged, but since I still haven't gotten the rest of the outfit all finished I just never seemed to get around to it. It's a nice little break from posts about maternity sewing though, so we'll just run with it. This was my first real corset making venture, and I have to say I really enjoyed it. I like doing things that are super structured, and I love all the little fiddly details like flat felling seams, inserting grommets, hand stitching binding, etc. My mom thinks I'm nuts, but someone has to like that stuff, right? ;)

Anyway, it's the 1901 corset from Corsets and Crinolines. I really didn't have to make too many adjustments as far as size goes. It's been a long time, so I can't remember all of the specifics, but basically I just added seam allowances to all of the pieces and subtracted a little width from the hips so I didn't have to mess about with hip pads and things underneath. I can get a pretty good shape with a couple of petticoats and little bustle pad under the skirt. If I ever make myself another outfit of the period/another iteration of this corset I'll probably leave the hip width and go for hip pads to get that really extreme s-curve shape, but for now I'm happy with the shape I've got with this one. I hadn't originally intended on making it quite so flamboyant, but once I got started I couldn't stop with the springy, cupcake decorations. 

It's a single layer of coutil, with spiral and flat steel boning inserted into applied channels, so it's actually pretty lightweight. If I do make myself another one I think I may skip out on adding the seam allowances to the pieces, or at least make them smaller, because while this one fits, it's actually a tad on the large size. It laces all the way shut really comfortably with just a couple of inches reduction in the waist. It really needs to be about 2 inches smaller to get the fit spot on. I could probably make it work with the original corset measurements and some hip pads almost perfectly.

The yellow I used for the binding and the garter straps was bias that was leftover from the baby quilt I made for my son, and once I decided I wasn't going for all white, I figured it would be nice to use some stuff up as well.

The channeling on the inside is not perfect, but I'm happy with it for a first attempt. The couple of minor issues I ran into were mostly due to the fact that I wasn't marking things carefully while I worked on the two sides. I've actually got one more piece of boning to insert in the hip on one side, but I had to wait for a new bone to arrive and wanted to get the rest of it finished so I went ahead and attached the binding, leaving a little opening for inserting that piece once it got here (which I still haven't gotten around to of course). I also intended to floss the ends of the channels, but never got around to that either. At this point I don't know that I'll ever go back and finish that. I definitely want to try my hand at it on my next corset project (way down the road). The next one will probably be an 1870s style to go with the 1871 gown I have been planning on making for eons. When I'll get around to doing any of that I don't know, since I have to make ALL the underwear for it before I can start on the dress itself. I have the fabric, though, and that's what matters!

I'm hoping to be back with a couple more posts before the baby's born, but we'll see how things go. I'm going to try and squeeze in at least one more major sewing project before then, and I've got a sweater on my knitting needles right now. Have a good weekend!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Simplicity 2475: Thinking of spring

I actually got this finished a week or so ago, but then I got sick (again) and we've had yet another snow storm since then so it's still been a little crazy around here. This is my second project of the year, and the second installment in my sewing for the 2015 Vintage Pattern Pledge. It's Simplicity 2475, which I was given in a large pattern stash (almost all children's and maternity patterns) by a friend when I found out I was pregnant with my first.

1958 maternity sewing pattern Simplicity 2475

The pattern is from 1958, and after making a version of a similar top the first time around I knew I wanted to make myself another one. They're super comfortable, and with a few more weeks of warm weather before this kiddo is born I wanted another lightweight top that wasn't skin tight. This is yet another 100% stash buster as well! The fabric is from the massive stash my mom and I accumulated (and still resides at her house), the bias binding is left from finishing all the seams in my Robson Trench last year, and the buttons were from a huge button stash that a friend of mine inherited when her husband's grandmother died.  I opted for view 2, but changed the welt pockets to patch pockets since this lawn is so light. I didn't want the extra strain on the fabric and was also concerned about the pocket bags showing through badly. Forgive the weird light. With yet another 8+ inches of snow outside, the already odd lighting available in my house is even worse.

1958 maternity top

the front curves of the yoke don't match perfectly, as the fabric was kind of a pain and I was tired when I was sewing, but for something I'm going to wear for 2 months I wasn't super concerned about going back and trying to fix it. 

Simplicity 2475

Simplicity 2475 Maternity Top 1958

The buttons, as I said, are some I got from a friend after she inherited a HUGE button stash. They're really pretty little pearl shirt buttons. I'm not sure how old they are. 

patch pockets in floral lawn 1958 maternity top

I'm really happy I decided to do patch pockets instead of welts. Not only were they much easier, but I like the little touch of green in the bias binding at the top. It helps break up the print a little bit. I've got a black and a pink pencil skirt I plan on wearing this with that both look cute, especially with a little sweater. I'm actually working on a wearable muslin of some maternity shorts out of leftover denim, but the front sections are doing something really weird because of the some bias pulling, so they've been put on the back burner for bit, but if I do get them finished they'll look SUPER cute with this. So summery! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this is the last real push of winter before spring arrives. We've got pretty good temps predicted for the coming week, which will be a relief, but if it gets super cold again after that I may have to hide under a rock. Hope everyone else is keeping warm!

Monday, February 23, 2015

First sewing project of 2015: Simplicity 3345

Hey there! It's been a hot minute since I had a sewing project to share with you all, but today I've got my first finished project of the year to show you! It's actually also my first finished project for the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge of 2015, AND as just a little icing on the cake, it's also a 100% pure stash-buster. I did not make any further financial expenditures for this project. Every single thing on it, from the fabric to the notions (and the pattern) was stuff that I already owned. While it's not "technically" true, I am telling myself that this dress was consequently a "FREE" dress, which makes it even better and totally fits in with my attempts at stash busting and project budgeting this year. All good things.

Anyway, this is the second version of Simplicity 3345, the first of which can be seen here.

I made a couple of minor changes, mostly taking the side seams in slightly, in order to get a little better fit on this one. I think by rights I probably should have done a full bust adjustment as well to get the fit really perfect, but that's more work than I wanted to put in on something I was only going to wear for a couple of months (and be changing sizes the whole time anyway). I shortened the hem (from the pattern length) by about 5 or 6 inches, so it hits me just at the bottom of my knee like the illustration. I'm not all that short, and even with a three inch hem allowance you'd have to be 5'10" for this to hit you where it does in the illustration. I intended on getting pictures of this one on myself so you could see how it looks on a legitimately pregnant human, but my husband is never up during daylight hours and the tripod is broken, so Tabitha will have to suffice yet again.

The bow is actually a pin that goes on the playsuit from which I scavenged the red fabric (it was from the skirt portion of the playsuit, which I think I maybe wore once and decided needed to be put to better use), so I can move it around, which is fun. It looks pretty cute at the neck, too. The back sash pieces don't perfectly line up with the front since I was working with the width of the previous skirt's ties, but my usually super anal retentive self was ok with it because I was doing some awesome stash busting/recycling.

You can see where I had to piece the ties to get the length I needed for this, since the skirt ties were much shorter. I hand-picked the zip like I normally do, since it's actually one of my favorite bits of hand finishing. I think they just look so much nicer, too. The zipper and waist elastic were also things I had in my stash already, which is why I went with a bright red zipper instead of a matching one, but I think bright zippers can be fun sometimes anyway. 

Just so you can get an idea of what these dresses look like on a real person, here is a picture of version 1 from Derby two years ago. I was about 36 or 37 weeks. 

I actually have my second project in the queue already cut, I just need to find something to use for the contrast bias binding I need. It's a smaller project and should hopefully be finished a little faster. I've also gotten a lot more done on my second pair of socks. I'm not sure which project I'll have to share with you first, but my goal is to get at least one of them finished in the next three weeks. Have a good week!
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