Monday, February 22, 2010

peter pan collar blouse remake

This used to be a long sleeved oxford style shirt (like this). I bought it in 2003 (!) to wear to work and I recently found it in the garage boxed up with other random crap.  It fits very well (which makes me wonder how the hell loose I used to wear my clothes) but I'm not crazy about that style of shirt so I decided to play mad scientist and figure out how to make it wearable.  I hacked off the sleeves and used the sleeve fabric to make a new collar.

I wish I had taken pictures of what I did because then I could have a tutorial, which would have been a first, but it turns out that Gertie has promised a peter pan collar tutorial later this week and she actually knows what she's doing.  But in case anybody's interested in my rinky dink method of making and attaching a peter pan collar, here's what I did:

I lowered the neckline (I eyeballed it). Then I lay the shirt flat and traced the new neckline onto a piece of paper. I drew a peter pan collar around this neckline tracing, and added seam allowances on the outside.  Voila!  A peter pan collar pattern piece.  I cut out two collar pieces:  for the upper collar I used the discarded sleeve fabric, and for the undercollar I used white broadcloth that was left over from some old forgotten project.  I sewed these two collar pieces together (right sides together) along the outside, clipped the curves, turned and pressed. 

To attach the collar to the shirt I sewed the edge of the pink (upper) part of collar to the inside of the shirt (right side of the collar facing the wrong side of the shirt); then flipped it to the outside. I then turned under the edge of the white undercollar 1/4" and topstitched it in place. None of the stitching is visible from the outside. 

Here you can see the topstitching on the undercollar:
And this is the inside of the shirt:
This is not the slickest way to attach a collar but it works for me.

Monday, February 15, 2010

tulip skirt

I wanted to make myself something in order to compensate for the fact that we've had a nutty few weeks. The babies have had growth spurts / feeding frenzies, Joseph has been in an evil mood due to some new molars, and I've had a toothache/sinus infection/spate of new allergies. Sometimes it's easier to get through a rough afternoon when you have a distracting project to focus your energy on: you pop a few motrin, put the homicidal toddler in front of a truck DVD, and nurse one baby at a time (at the sewing machine).

This is Jenny Gordy's tulip skirt pattern from the Winter 2008 issue of Stitch magazine. I made it in what called a cotton/rayon faille, but it feels like school uniform quality polyester to me. At $1.99 a yard I'm not complaining. I'm not delighted about the fit; I have to stand up damn straight to avoid some belly vs. waistband conflict. I'm wearing it today and I'm exhausted from the effort. One of the benefits of always having a baby in a sling is that I can slouch and slump and let my poor belly go all over the place and nobody's the wiser. It's kind of interesting to be focused on my stomach instead of my butt as my source of angst. Hello, middle age, I can see you from here!


The skirt went together easily with very few modifications (an inch or so longer, some extra topstitching) but I had a bit of an epiphany while cursing over my machine's inability to make it through one effing buttonhole without getting stuck: I could have installed ten invisible zippers in the time it took make the buttonholes, sew on the buttons, and hand sew the wretched hooks and eyes at the waistband. I really need to man up and get over my issues with zippers.
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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

kitchen mats

I have this lurking feeling that I've already written about this before.  I finished this mat literally days before the babies were born (when I was young and carefree) and it's been a bit of a blur since then so bear with me.
This is basically a bath mat, but it lives on the kitchen counter next to the sink for draining dishes.  We have a dish washer but the pots, pans, mixing bowls, and a few other things still have to be hand washed.  I'd much rather just let them air dry than go to the effort of wiping them, but dish racks are pretty useless where pots and pans are concerned.  So we had been letting everything drain onto a depressing soggy dish towel.   This mat replaces the towel and is better looking and more absorbent.  And when it's not in use it still covers up part of my hideous counters.  You should probably go make one right now.

I also made one for the floor in front of the sink but that's not nearly as important.

I'm very pleased with the method I used to make these.  I pieced together the top, then sewed it directly to a piece of old towel, right side up, quilting it as if the towel were the quilt back.  Then I bound it like a quilt.  The very dense horizontal quilting lines (about half an inch apart) and the thick linen binding make it much sturdier and more substantial than this mat.  This is definitely my new preferred method for making bath mats, because you know we should all take a stand on that issue.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

vogue 8379 and the fabric from hell

I definitely should have known better than to have anything to do with bright blue polyester jersey, but it was only $1.99 a yard ( and I really needed to attempt the Vogue 8379 wrap dress that the internet loves so damn much. I desperately want to make peace with knit fabric, and I have almost no warm weather clothing that fits and is nursing-friendly, so the time seemed right.

This was mostly a success. The fit of the dress is pretty excellent; so that's not a problem. The seaming of the knit fabric was also not a problem, thanks to a ball point needle and a stretch stitch on my machine. I even managed to do something with the armholes in order to avoid sleeves (because I get overheated just thinking about polyester sleeves).

The problem was the hem: in short, it looks like shit. I was all set to do a twin needle hem, which is what the internet told me I needed to do, but the needles kept skipping stitches and in general leaving a hot mess all over the fabric. This is because the twin needles aren't ballpoint and this very slippery, snaggy fabric needs a ballpoint needle, period. I tried out the twin needle hem on a bunch of friendlier knits from the rag bag and it worked fine, so I really feel okay with blaming this particular fabric.

I'm not too broken up about it because I truly doubt that I'd wear a bright blue polyester dress out of the house no matter how awesome the hem was. As a dry run/first draft/confidence building experience, this was a success, and I have plans to make wrap dresses out of some brown bamboo jersey and orange cotton jersey.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

my manifesto

Taking care of the people in this house is my priority.  Not cleaning.  Not cooking.  Not laundry.  Holding a baby, feeding a baby, walking back and forth with a sad baby, reading the entire internet while nursing two babies through a growth spurt...even if that's all I do all day, it still counts as getting something done.  Lounging on the sofa with my toddler is also getting something done.  Taking a nap is most certainly getting something done; napping with a baby is getting two things done at once.  If it's a choice between making dinner and having a happy quiet afternoon, I'm not making dinner; frozen pizza is five dollars well spent.  Television isn't the greatest thing in the world for a toddler, but it's a lot better than any alternative I can come up with for those times when both babies are insane and I need to help them through that somehow.  Likewise, it's totally not ideal for one of the babies to spend half the day in the swing, but when there isn't a workable alternative then that's the way it has to be and there's no use getting too upset about it.  Let me re-emphasize that for my own sake:  it does not matter how much something sucks (Joseph doesn't have enough playdates, the dogs spend all day outside, a baby is sometimes left to cry while I deal with somebody else's needs, the bathrooms are gross, etc) because if it's the best we're capable of then that's all there is. 

OK, now I feel better.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

fabric lust

The one on the left is one of the prints from My Folklore by Lecien. The one on the right is from Heather Ross's Far Far Away. Last month I was feeling sorry for myself so I treated myself to half a yard of each. I had been coveting them but 1) I didn't have a project in mind 2) they're not cheap, especially the Heather Ross and 3) the local fabric shops don't carry either one. I'm still not sure what I'll do. I'm thinking of putting some in embroidery hoops and hanging them on the wall like I'm always seeing all over the blogoverse; possibly I'll make a pillow for the couch. The rest can be napkins, because half a yard is a lot of fabric when all you're making is doo dads for the house. But curtains? You need a zillion yards. Which is why we still have crappy blinds.
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