It's not love, but it's something...

Sewing-machineless, I've turned to knitting. I'm not very good at it, it seems, nor do I like it too terribly much, but at least I'm making something. I'm calling it "scarf" because I figure thats what it will become if I keep knitting the same stitch in infinite rows. 

The yarn is hand-dyed in Switzerland. I purchased it at a market in Berne. It's a fabulously thick 100% wool. 


Why the Rubys never were

Maybe it was the fabric, maybe it was the pattern, or maybe I was just way too optimistic, but regardless my Rubies were not mean to be. The Ruby Short Sew-Along was hosted by Lisette of What Would Nancy Drew Wear? (formerly Vintage or Bust!).

Let me start by saying that I wanted these shorts to be fabulous, I really did. So much so that I actually made a muslin, from a 100% cotton print. I think that is where the trouble began.

I cut and stitched up a straight 38 based on my measurements. The muslin let me know to take in the waist at the top a bit more, so I made the back darts a tad more severe and folded over a little bit of ease at the top. This should have made the shorts perfect.

Perfect, ha.

My fashion fabric was probably the cause of everything.

This is how the fabric looked once the grain was lined up. The entire cut was crooked and somehow the grainline was screwy. This fabric, though a medium weight, was also quite slippery. I took extreme precaution when cutting it for this exact reason, to no avail.

None of the pieces matched up properly, the markings were off, and each piece's fabric was a different length. I have no idea when this all happened, because I was ridiculously careful cutting this from-hell fabric. 

These photos are as far as the Rubys got before I gave up. The fit was terrible. I had to take larger and larger seam allowances for them to fit, and then the legs suddenly gained volume and started to flare in a really unflattering way. 

I think the major issue was the fabric I choose. The pattern is very good, and lots of BurdaStyle members have had success with it. So far as the other sew-alongers...

Ali's turned out gorgeous
Nancy apparently has hers finished and is apparently withholding photos 
I'm not sure about Eleanor's Ruby-status 
Lisette is near-finishing and hers are looking cute and crabby

I hope that the other stitchers will end up with great shorts from this pattern. I can't see myself trying them again, however, simply because of the trauma of this experience. 

On the bright side, the Trench Coat Sew-Along round 2 is alive and pattern discussion is well underway. I've chosen Vogue 8623 - a peacoat-length style with a huge collar and back pleats. I also succumbed to fabric-sale pressure and ordered (among other things) Tropical Worsted Wool Suiting in ivory and grey from fabric.com's recent deal-of-the-day special.

I'm happily trotting around Switzerland, still. I leave for Germany early Monday Morning and will be in Spain the following week. Tough life :)


Musings on Patterns, Babies, and Burda

About a gajillion years ago, many sewists pilgrimaged to JoAnn's Memorial day sale for cheap patterns. I was one of them. 5 Simplicity patterns for $5? So there!

Simplicity 2601 would be a great blouse for college interviews, which I need to start thinking about. I can see view E in a light fabric with some colorful contrasting buttons. PatternReview member hokidoki made a great version of it. 

Simplicity 2364 is going to be a great casual top with jeans and skirts. I like views D and F only, though. The fauxlero thing just isn't my cup of tea. Again, PatternReview is full of cute interpretations of this pattern. 

Simplicity 2369 is a simple wrap top or dress. I figured this would be a good pattern to keep on-hand for a really fun colored knit, should one ever fall into my lap. The elastic-waist pull on pants, though? I think I can do without. 

Vogue 8251 was my big let down. I was so excited to see this pattern because I love the bust detail, cute strap options, and twisty backs - all labeled "Easy," by Vogue. 
Well, PatternReview told me differently. Not a single "Easy & Great for Beginners," like I was hoping. In fact, this pattern even has one of the dreaded, "Difficult, but great for advanced sewers," rankings. That pretty much jinxed it for me. I'm in love with view C from this pattern, but I don't see my sewing confidence rising enough in the near future to consider myself an "advanced sewer."

Simplicity 2588 has a princess-seamed bodice with sleeve, yoke and skirt options. I can see lots of great dresses from this pattern. Plus, I think it would be a step in the right direction to improve my sewing skills without being too difficult. I need to start considering that as I don't feel I've made much progress lately. 

The lone Butterick came home with me because I intend to knock off the dress shown below (from Forever 21). Butterick 5313 is a good jumping off point, I think. I'll add a touch of volume to the sleeves for gathering, and then add a midriff band, and lengthen the layers. I can handle that. Plus, this pattern also has good reviews. That is very encouraging. 

I have a dark purple knit with the same heathered look to it that would really do the dress justice. Hopefully I have enough of this fabric. 

Fellow-minded readers are thinking right now, "thats only 4 Simplicity patterns, she said 5..." The final Simplicity from the memorial day haul is 2905, for baby rompers and coveralls. Don't get alarmed, I don't have any crazy news for you! My Aunt C is having a baby boy in late August. Her pregnancy was kind of a surprise to everyone because neither she nor her husband said they wanted kids, but the family is all thrilled. My grandma has even been sewing baby quilts, and she HATES quilting. 

Anyhoo... I plan to sew a set of two or three rompers from view B that coordinate with a pair of coveralls from view E. I picked up a yard and a half of the white knit pictured above while at JoAnn's that day, too, with the intention of matching it to other baby colors. You can sort of see how it is flecked with colors. 

I'm all ears if anyone has tips or suggestions on baby sewing or patterns - I have zero experience in this area. Any good sources for snap tape online? What fabrics work best for baby clothing? I would think natural fibers, but then again what holds up best to frequent washings?

My final tidbit in this rambling post is about the July Burda. I've been scouring kiosks all over Zurich, Berne and Basel in hopes of finding a copy. I've unearthed several June issues, but I already have an English version waiting for me at home. The top above is from the July preview online. I want that top. I need to have that top. I want & need to have that top in a grass green for day and flat black for night. 

I suppose its just a matter of patience, grr. I did find a copy of the new Burda "Eazy" magazine, but thats for another post. Officially, my eyes are peeled for July Burda and any issue of La Mia Boutique. Wish me luck! 

(BTW - any interest in a little giveaway? Is the BurdaMag too common to be a good giveaway? Would La Mia Boutique be more exciting? Or does the Burda "Eazy" interest anyone? Just theoretically, you know)


Makeup Bag with Vintage Metal Zip

I am so in love with this makeup bag. It fits all of my makeup perfectly without any wasted room. And, I attached the zipper so that it is exposed in all it's cute, colorful vintage glory, yet the edges are finished on the inside properly. 

I started off my dumping my makeup in a pile and roughly measuring said pile. Then I took those measurements and a pencil, and drew two pattern pieces. I've had this shape in my mind for a makeup bag for quite a while, it was nice to see it actualize.  I didn't photograph the pattern pieces as I was making it, but I drew a little rendition of their shape so you can see how easy the bag was to draft.


The front/back piece is an inch wider at the bottom and cut on the fold so the final piece has a 2'' discrepancy between top and bottom. The side piece is 2'' wide where it becomes the bottom of the bag, then quickly tapers where it meets the corners to about 1/2''. 

I attached the zipper by sewing the lining/exterior fabric right sides together to the zip with a teenytiny seam allowance, then flipping and ironing. This way as much of the zip was left exposed as possible. I also waited to interface the front pieces until after I had attached the zipper, to prevent bulky seams.

I got SO LUCKY with the color of the zip and the piping. I had bought the piping when I picked out the fabric, but I totally forgot I had this zip. I was going to use a dull green one, pshh. How much cooler is this color combo?

This was my first time piping seams. I used my Singer Genie with a zipper foot attachment to sew as close to the piping as possible, but even that left it with more showing than I would like. I'll read up on inserting piping and try again when I'm not worried about catching a flight. 

Overall, I love my new bag. It's about 10''x2''x3'' (measurements taken on bottom, before the bag tapers). Its bigger than I thought I would need, but still fits into my big weekend purse. I'd like to make another in the same fabric, but super big, for all of my toiletries. How cool would that be when packing?

I mentioned a while back that I'd be making a few grad cakes for friends. I totally forgot to post pictures. This was for my friend Michael who is going to UC Irvine on a great scholarship. The bottom tier is peanutbutter cake with chocolate ganache filling and the top tier is vanilla cake with chocolate ganache filling. Both are iced in Italian Meringue buttercream and covered in homemade fondant. 


Girly Laptop Cover

My little experiment in bag drafting turned out better than expected.

I basically just wanted a lightly padded laptop cover that added a little peace-of-mind protection but not a lot of bulk. I cut 14'' x 10'' rectangles for the exterior and lining. I got those measurements because my laptop is 13x9, and I figured an inch would be enough for a seam allowance and a bit of wiggle room to accommodate the thickness of the laptop (which is less than half an inch). 

I used purple metal jacket zipper from the SAS zipper bin and applied it as an exposed zip, using a tutorial from DIY Style Vodcasts. I skipped the stabilizer because my fabric wasn't stretchy, but I did like their idea of taping it down instead of pinning, and that worked very well.
I tried to get clean edges on the inside by ironing a little hem in before stitching the fabric pieces to the zipper on the inside. This more or less worked. You can see the white and black from the exterior fabric peak out from under the purple inside, but at least none of the edges are raw. Not the very best option, but passable.

I used a heavyweight fusible interfacing on the exterior pieces and sandwhiched two cuts of a fleece-like fabric between the exterior and lining as the padding. The padding fabric was labeled as a fleece, but it wasn't thick like most of what you see at Joanns; it was more like felt in thickness, but was softer like fleece. 

I decided half-way through to add a patch pocket to the top for the laptop charger, phone charger, little post-its, etc. I didn't really measure it, but the size worked out just about right. I sewed a rectangular scrap of the lining fabric right sides pressed together, turned, and applied it as a patch pocket. I gave the pocket a nice deep pleat in the center for roominess, and a button-closed top flap to hold it all in. My topstitching could have been neater, thats for sure, but I can live with it. The button is from my stash, probably from JoAnns.

Overall, I'm very happy with my laptop cover. It fits perfectly, has a good amount of protection but not bulk, and I learned a bit about zipper application in the process. And after a full day of traveling (Phoenix to Toronto, Toronto to Zurich) I can say that my laptop was not damaged or scratched one bit. And it fit into the seatback pocket with my magazines, which was convenient. 

It's a bit after 6pm here in Zurich. I had a really nice day walking all around town with my Aunt. I stumbled into a yarn store owned by a hilarious British woman. Her and I talked for some time. She told me about two fabric stores in town that I'll be visiting soon. She also talked me into buying some super-soft, Swiss-made baby alpaca fiber yarn. Darn :)


Groggy Bloggy

It's 5:08 am AZ time and I'm just climbing into bed. The gorgeous chiffon tank I've been wanting forever did not get done, and I've decided an hour of sleep is worth more to me right now. But, I did make a rockin' laptop cover with the coolest purple metal zip and big pocket on top that fits my computer charger perfectly, PLUS a really cool piped makeup bag. Photos? Pshh. I've got to be leaving the house in two and a half hours.


I'm spoiled

The green-eyed monster took ahold of my eBay account yesterday. I had no idea what I was doing. I mean really, over $10 for a pattern? Thats a little much for me.

Vintage McCall's 3633 from 1956. It's a gathered-neckline halter with a criss-cross back. I think the back is even closed with buttons! I'm really excited about this one - it's not even in the Vintage Pattern Wiki

So, even though it was pricey by my standards - $12 - I'm glad I won that bidding war. I'm going to have a gorgeous new party top

While I was in California, I drove to Sac to see my Oma (grandmother) and Opa (grandfather). My Oma never liked sewing much, but she did quite a bit of it after moving to the US to marry my Opa. I was telling her about some of my recent projects when she offered to give me a few of the materials she had leftover from the massive garage sale of '89. Enter my newest friend

McCall's Step-by-Step Sewing Book, circa 1967. There are tons of instructions and diagrams, both photographed and drawn.

I have not yet scoured it cover to cover, but I did look AT the cover. My Oma had scribbles all over it.

"McCall's 9097" is written on the front. My dear friend Vintage Pattern Wiki had it listed

Cute, right? My Oma has good taste, thats for sure. I could totally see me her wearing view A. 

I'm trying frantically to finish my self-drafted tank so I can start the other designer knockoff I had planned, and then make myself a new makeup bag, camera case & laptop cover - all before Thursday. 


Sewing with knits this often is going to require Costco-sized Advil

I am lucky enough to have a very generous, albeit intermittent, father who learned of my trip to Zurich this summer and decided that my 4 year old Kodakwhatever wasn't going to cut it. I'm sure that readers of this blog will agree - the photo quality isn't great. Enter my gorgeous new Canon Powershot SX120 IS

I made a quick trip home to Chico, CA (norcal!) for a long weekend before I head to Zurich, and took advantage of  employed my lovely friend Alex as photographer. This is the McCall's 6121 tunic I made as a swimsuit coverup. 

I used a white solid/transparent stripe knit from my recent SAS haul. I've really been on a stripes kick lately. I pretty much adore stripes for summer, much like my love of the color emerald in winter (or whatever that slightly-less-hot season is here in AZ). 

Back to sewing; the tunic went together really smoothly as it's comprised of only 2 real seams and a few narrow hems. I can handle that. 

My only critique of the pattern would be that the armholes are a tad snug, but this very well might be my own fault. I laid out the fabric to match the stripes, set the pattern on top unpinned, and left to babysit. When I came home Auggie (cat) had clearly held a little party in my sewing room, and the front pattern piece was pretty damaged. Then again, I did do a decent patch job, so the blame is up in the air. 

I really love this swim coverup because it's a nice, neutral white and will go with literally all of my swimsuits. I'm a swimsuit hoarder. I've got at least 10 tops and 5 or 6 bottoms. The one pictured is a black and white stripe bikini. Summer stripes; told you. 

I'm about to board my flight home to Arizona, so I'll leave by asking what you guys think of the photo quality (forgive my terrible modeling skills, will work on that). I leave for Zurich on Thursday and have way too many things I wanted to sew before I leave, so I better get crackin'. I have a self-drafted tank knockoff to hem and photograph tomorrow - stay tuned! 


Rant, Rant, Rant. SATC 2

I'm going to try to avoid spoilers and profanity, but no promises.

The movie started off with the up-beat, sparkly vibe of the first SATC movie. This mood was quickly swapped, and the entire film went on a 2 HOUR tangent where absolutely nothing was learned or accomplished, just to come back to the SATC mood towards the very end. The movie begins with, "Hey, everything is awesome and glamourous and we have everything we've ever wanted!" and ends similarly, with monogamy noted more strongly. 

It's like the producers went in like, "We've got the girls, lets just dress them up and show them doing some swanky stuff. Don't forget to use lots of cheap product placements. This fake quote sponsored by Mercedes Benz"

I question weather or not a screenplay was even written. Really, there is NO organization or chronology to this movie. Each obstacle is solved within 5 minuets with little to no effort. 

The very worst part is, there wasn't even much candy by ways of fashion. Don't get me wrong, there were a few awesome dresses. But, for every awesome dress, there were about five that were just WRONG. I mean, WRONG. We're talking ill-fitting, inappropriate, depressingly over-adorned costuming. There was a scene were Carrie wore what appeared to be a skirt made from a garment bag and a knock-off turned cut-out T-shirt bought in Chinatown. 

The photo I choose is from the girls' march through the desert, where they fawn over their amazing outfits. Please, please tell me I'm not mistaken; those outfits are MESSED up.

Please, don't ask me about the bizarre hairstyles either. My poor, SJP & SATC worshiping soul can't take it. 

And, just because I think it unwise to leave on a bad note, I'll share my favorite part of the movie. There was one redeeming scene where the girls retain their original characters. In it, Samantha violates middle eastern custom with props and, uh, sign language. Cheap humor, but I'll take it. 


Me-Made-May-Lite Composite Photos

Me-Made-May-Lite is officially over. While I had lapses in my commitment to this project, overall I think it was successful. MMM resulted in 4 new, wearable garments and 1 wadder.

Before, from top to bottom; Black McCall's 6070 maxi dress, purple headscarf, purple swiss-dot cotton New Look 6873 skirt, green Amy Butler cotton A-line skirt, pillowcase skirt, mod green dirndl skirt. 

Of these garments, the pillowcase skirt got the most wear, by far. I have grown to loathe the maxi dress, entirely because of my fabric choice, and I think it's due for a refashion. I did not wear the mod green drindl skirt once, because it is so short (due to fabric constraints). 

After, top to bottom; black McCall's 6070 maxi dress, grey McCall's 6070 top, striped McCall's 5853 tank, semi-transparent McCall's 6121 swimsuit cover-up tunic (to be blogged about soon), purple New 6873 Look swiss dot cotton skirt, ethnic border print New Look 6178 wrap skirt, green Amy Butler A-line skirt, pillowcase skirt, mod green drindl skirt. 

Whew! I don't even remember sewing all that much this month. I feel like most of my efforts were sewing for my mom's birthday and the aforementioned wadder, the Ruby Shorts. I'm proud to have made 4 wearable, albeit simple, garments in May. 

As you can see, Auggie stubbornly proudly sat right in the middle of everything whilst I was taking these photos. He has quickly gotten used to hanging out in my sewing room over the past few days, as I have uncharacteristically been leaving projects strewn about. More on that latter. 

My next project? I have two tops I MUST make before I leave for Zurich next Thursday, but I'd also like to copy this top:

I found this Ella Moss tank at a thrift store last spring, and its one of my favorite summer tops. ShopStyle has her tanks listed roughly between $75-120 each. I got mine new, with tags, for $3. Can you say score?

I love the swishy cut and the direction of the stripes. I'm pretty sure I've figured out how to cut the skirt, and I have a black, white & purple stripey cotton knit in about the same weight that I think would look quite nice made up like this. First though, I'll probably work on redrafting McCall's 5853 to work with the floral chiffon I found at SAS a while back. If anyone has ideas or comments about knocking off the Ella Moss top, let me know! 

Happy Sewing,