Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Recap

I always love doing the yearly review. It makes me feel so productive to see it all tallied up.

This year I made:

Tops - 7
Dresses - 7
Jackets - 8
Skirts - 4
Cardigans - 1
Vests - 1
Kids clothing - 5
Maternity dresses - 1
Knitted garments - 3

That's a total of 37 garments completed! The year before I made 45, but of course at that time was not making baby clothes.

My favorite item from this year was my plum wool military jacket:

Surprisingly, I've made a number of things that I'm just not crazy about. The knit twisted bubble skirt hits me right at the bottom of my thigh muscle and makes my legs look extra wide. The Cynthia Rowley border print skirt poofs out unflatteringly in the tummy area because the fabric I chose for it is a bit stiff. I like the fit and design of my pink zebra print knit top but the fabric is of cheap quality and has already started to pill at the underarms. I also like my white sweaterknit cardigan but it doesn't seem to go with anything in my wardrobe since it's so thin. However, I'm holding on to most of those items for now. They are well made and I'm thinking they might fit differently once I get rid of these extra 10 pounds.

By far, the biggest What Was I Thinking garment was my yellow linen jacket:

I have tried and tried to style this jacket in a pleasing manner. It cannot be done. The sleeves are atrocious! I may decide to redo them at some point, but for right now it'll be living in my "needs attention" area of the closet.

I set some lofty goals for myself last December. Was I able to meet them?

1. Enter at least 1 contest at
No, I did not do this. I am going to stop setting this as a goal since I've yet to follow through with it. To tell you the truth, I'm not sure what I think about PR lately. I kind of feel like I am wasting my time writing reviews there. So few people even look at my garments anymore. Are they seeing them here instead? I don't know. I still always look there before I start a new project. But, I digress.

2. Make at least one jacket each month.

Well, I did make 8. That's not one a month but still is a pretty good number. I got a little tired of making them. Some months I was excited to make one and some months I felt pressured to fit it in. I did make more jackets then the year before, and that was really the goal in the first place.

3. Make more knit/casual dresses.
I made 4 casual dresses in 2009. This year I made 3. Boo.

4. Make more pants.

Ha! Now this was just poor planning. I knew I was pregnant in December when I set these goals. What was I thinking? Oh, now I remember. I thought I would find a TNT pants pattern in January and sew several more pants throughout my pregnancy using it. That did not happen.

5. Continue learning new knitting techniques.
Finally, one that I actually completed! I only made three knitted garments this year, but I did indeed learn new techniques with 2 of them: making an I-cord and short rows.

Overall, though, I did not meet my goals. I really should have gone back to that post throughout the year to remember what was written there. Sigh.

Okay, onward and upward, right? Here are the new goals for 2011:

1. Sew more casual knit dresses.
I love to wear these during the summer. It is effortless style, IMO. Throw on a knit dress and some cute sandals and you are ready to go!

2. Make pants.

At least one pair. I mean, really, what am I so afraid of?!

3. Continue making lots of jackets.

I love the put-together feeling I get from wearing a well fitting jacket. However, I'll not be setting myself a number goal this year.

4. Learn some of the sewing techniques included in my new book The Party Dress Book.

5. Continue learning new knitting techniques.

Thanks so much to all you wonderful people who have taken the time to visit my humble blog. It has been such a joy these past two and a half years to be able to share my love and passion for sewing with other like minded individuals. I may not always get back to each question asked, nor have the time to respond to you personally, but please know that I appreciate each comment left. Alright, enough cheese! Have a wonderful, productive and dream-fulfilling New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

A crafting Christmas gift and a funny story

A couple of weeks ago Beth from SunnyGal Studio did a post on her fabulous new corduroy jacket. She used a velvet board (a.k.a. needle board) to do her pressing so the pile didn't get crushed. I had never heard of a velvet board, and since I have several cuts of velvet/corduroy in my stash that I am afraid to use because of pressing issues, was immediately intrigued. I hunted around the internet and at local fabric haunts. They are hard to find and super expensive. I did find one at Manhattan Wardrobe Supply in NYC that looked decent and was half the cost of the others on the internet, but still pricey at $75 plus shipping. Then when Justin asked me if there was anything sewing related I might like to have as a Christmas gift, I gave him the link. A week before Christmas the package came in the mail. Here's what they sent me:

Um, WHAT?!!! It's a piece of black velvet glued to a board. I suppose one might use this for displaying jewelry or something? It wasn't what I wanted at all and not what they had pictured online. But wait! Since it came in a paper envelope, it was bent. We paid $83 (with the shipping) for a piece of velvet glued to a bent piece of cardboard. And they don't take returns!!!

I called the company immediately and the salesgirl at MWS was really sweet and apologetic. She said I was shipped the wrong item; that they did carry a velvet pressing board and it is never sent in a paper envelope. They rushed me another one which arrived the day before Christmas:

It looks pretty fabulous, right? I love useful tools, no matter if they are power tools or sewing tools. Keep a lookout for some velvet garments coming soon.

Anyone else have a funny holiday story to share?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

January Burda picks

I didn't do any picks for the month of December because there were zero designs from that issue that I wanted to make. Although it does include a pattern for father and son pajamas, which I plan to use, so is not a total loss. However, January's magazine is a different story, offering lots of feminine patterns that I really like.

This first one is blouse 102. I always love a top with a peplum as it gives the illusion of a smaller waist on my squarish shape. The off-center button and loop closure, wide rounded yoke and squared off sleeve insertion are other fun details. I've never been one to love flutter sleeves, but this blouse is so pretty and breezy with them. (Although I could use the long sleeves from dress 104 if desired.)
Have you ever noticed that patterns for long sleeved dresses are hard to come by? Or that if you find one it's almost always for a knit? Every winter I think I'll find one in the new pattern lines, but they are either sleeveless (for winter!) or for a knit. Now I realize the fabric listed for dress 104 is crepe jersey, but since they have the short sleeve top version made out of silk batiste, I don't see why the dress can't be made from a woven as well. This is one darling dress, and I especially love the grosgrain ribbon they used for a belt and tied on the side.

Jacket 106 also has a peplum and interesting shaped yokes. I like the front pockets and blousy effect of the front and back gathers.
Dress 108 is super simple and the blackline drawing looks like a night gown, but isn't this a gorgeous dress all made up? Especially with an obi belt to give it some shape. I really like the sleeves with buttoning cuffs and the front button closure. This design is simple enough to be made in some really busy fabric.

How cute is coat 109?!! It has a fitted shape from the long front darts and cute welt pockets. I love the blousy sleeve bottoms gathered into bands at the wrists. Here's another simple design that would look great in a busier fabric.

Jacket 127 looks pretty plain from the front, but upon further inspection, I noticed the back peplum is actually an extension of the front piece. So if this was made in some sort of stripe, the center back peplum would meet in a V. I'll leave off the front pockets to show the continuous fabric line on the sides. And I just happen to have the perfect fabric in my stash.

Okay, so I don't actually own any leggings. They so remind me of the 80's and elementary school. And even though I know they're back in style, I'm just not wanting to go there again. However, if I ever get the urge to make a pair, these look like some nice fitting ones. (Probably what will happen is that I'll decide I like them right when the style is changing and they're out again. That is usually how it is with me and fads. Although I never owned a pair of Crocks and am proud of it.)

Many thanks for the compliments on my faux leather vest and to you lovely people who are writing nice things concerning my loss of the baby weight. It is so encouraging to hear that!!! However, I am good at camouflage, and still have a ways to go before most of my clothes start to fit properly. Being a square, I carry weight through my mid-section. It is always the first place I gain and the last place I lose. Most of my pants have started to fit again because they don't extend up to my waist, but none of my skirts are fitting nor are the fitted tops or dresses. I have no secrets to weight loss - wish I did! It's never taken me this long to get back to my normal size with any of my other pregnancies, and I'm frustrated that I still can't wear most of the things I made last summer. But, I will get there. Eventually. Probably after Christmas when my house is not filled with cookies. Anyway, I just felt like being honest with you.

I had a ton of plans for things to make for Christmas gifts, but of course I hardly got any of them completed. Why don't I learn my lesson and start in November?! This will probably be the last post for awhile. I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. I pray that you'll remember the best Christmas gift ever given, and that was the Father's gift of Christ:

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not parish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Saturday, December 11, 2010

10-2008-123 - Faux leather quilted vest

If you'll recall, I attempted this design last month, but it turned into a wadder because of poor fabric choice. And my zipper insertion looked horrible. And the collar was too tall, making me feel somewhat choked. I'm calling that first try an expensive muslin, because this one I'm actually really pleased with. Here's the drawing again to refresh your memory:

Ta da! You might notice right off the bat that my version has no sleeves. I thought them a little strange but edgy at the same time, and couldn't make up my mind if I should include them or not. As it turned out I needn't have concerned myself; there wasn't enough fabric anyway. I barely squeezed out the inside facings, and had to cut the undercollar with lining fabric.

This time I cut 1.25" off the height of the stand collar and now it is the exact height of the shawl collar, totally eliminating the choking feeling. Isn't this fabric so fun? I bought it a year or two ago from Hancock's for a vest I decided not to make. The front side looks like quilted leather and the back is actually fleece. It's thin enough not to add a bunch of bulk but warm because of the fleece. I was concerned the leather-like layer might melt when being ironed or act willy nilly but it was very easy to work with and pressed like a dream.

I added this 1" elastic casing to the back to give it some shape.

I did include the working front pockets, even though they are tiny and I'll probably never put anything in there. The welts were turned on an angle and have vertical and horizontal "quilting lines".

This project stressed me out because of the silly front zipper. On my last attempt, the zipper was wavy and didn't meet exactly at the top or bottom. However, this one went in with relative ease and didn't have any waving issues. I love the contrast of shiny gold metal and matted black leather. I see lots more exposed metal zippers in my future.

Also, I cut each piece out individually so that all the quilting lines matched up horizontally across the front and back.

The second shawl collar is simply stitched on top of the vest and then zigzagged at the edge. I had to do a bit of handstitching where the tip of the collar overlaps the zipper. Here's where you can see the undercollar cut from lining fabric. This was a happy accident as it cuts down on bulk and never shows anyway.

The elastic casing was easily made by stitching the lining and vest fabric together at the top and bottom of the casing. Then I inserted the elastic and closed the ends.

Even though I live in Texas and we have very mild winters, I get cold often. (I must have cold reptile blood or something.) I think this vest will see a lot of use as a warm layering piece.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Simplicity 2572 - Black baby pants w/ cuffs

I'm using this pattern again for another pair of little pants for Rachel. She has several tops in black but nothing to wear them with. I cut these the same as the last pair, but with a little more fabric in the width of the waistband. (The last pair are a tad bit difficult to pull up over her tiny bottom.) Isn't she darling striking a sassy pose here?!

I topstitched in white and added cuffs to the hems. I also put some patch pockets on the sides, but the scale was off and they turned out way too big. Off they came.

This should be it for awhile for baby pants. I still want to make her a pair of denim overalls this winter, and I have several more dresses with fabric already purchased. My faux leather vest was finished up Sunday night, and I'll definitely get some pictures of it tomorrow.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Updated pictures of my gray wool jacket

I made this jacket back in July when I was still pregnant. I wore it to church this morning before a cold front blew in. Brrrr, it's cold now. The weather doesn't seem to bother our cat, who just had to get her furry rear end in all my photos.

Doesn't it look way better on an actual body instead of my dressform? I really love this jacket, although it's not at all warm so I am doubting the wool content printed on the bolt when I purchased the fabric. I also made the dress I'm wearing in August 2009.

I am nearly done with an awesome little faux leather vest, although Justin has to head into work this afternoon so I'll likely not get any pictures of it until next weekend. Arg to you winter time change!