Thursday, January 31, 2013

See & Sew / Butterick 5741

 I finished my tote bag today.  Now that it's done, I can finally see the result of using the stiff interfacing.  As I said before, I had no idea that bag making would be so difficult.  I follow LiEr's blog, Ikat Bag, and I have loved reading her recent posts on making bags.  Her bags are so beautifully crafted, well-made and functional.  I am in awe of her bag-making skills.

 Here is what the bag looks like on:

Huge!  It reminds me of all of the large bags that Alyson Hannigan carried to hide her pregnancy during the filming How I Met Your Mother.

I like it.  It's big enough to hold a large sewing project or smuggle a dog on an airplane.  Although, I don't have a dog, so I won't be attempting the latter.  Next time I make a bag with a print, I will pay closer attention to how the pattern on the pockets matches up with the body of the bag.  The pattern got repeated, but in a less than ideal way.

I liked this pattern, the fabric, and my stiff interfacing choice.  When it was time to insert the lining into the bag, I couldn't find the instructions.  Luckily, I am psychic and I figured it out.

I'm not planning on needing another enormous bag, but I would still recommend this pattern to anyone who wants a large tote.  The design was more stylish than any of the other patterns I saw at the fabric store.  I would give one piece of advice when topstitching around the handles.  Because of the thickness of the fabric, it was more difficult than normal to topstitch around a curve.  I found it was helpful to change my Bernina's needle position to DOWN so that when I took my foot off the pedal, it stayed down in the fabric.  This made it easier to reposition my hands around the fabric and the topstitching was more even.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Kitchen Appliance Cover

I've had my L'equip Wheat Mill for about 18 months and I absolutely love it.  I use it to grind wheat and even rice into flour.  I decided to make a wheat grinder cover so it doesn't get caked in dust.

I found this large, red gingham print at Ikea a few months ago.  Isn't it cute?  I absolutely love red.  It took me a long time to figure out how I was going to cover the wheat grinder because it has kind of an unusual shape.

Eventually, I decided to make a pattern of the top view of the wheat grinder, add 1/4" for ease, and a seam allowance. For the sides, I measured the height of the wheat grinder, and the circumference of my top pattern piece, so I had a rectangle, plus seam allowances.

I used a simple Blizzard Fleece from Joann's to give the cover some body.  I put my gingham on top, then a layer of fleece, and on the bottom a layer of white muslin.  I love the red piping at the seam line.

I finished the bottom edge with a simple 4-thread overlock on the serger.  I like this cover because it is completely washable and I can throw it in the dryer, too.

I have problems digesting whole wheat, so I first sprout my wheat berries.  After that, I dehydrate the wheat, mill it in the wheat grinder into flour and then make into delicious loaves of bread.  I'm actually expecting a new dehydrator in the mail as we speak.  Maybe sometime I will post about this process I've just described.  I like sprouting because it converts some of the carbs into a substance that your body processes like a vegetable, thereby lowering the glycemic index.  It also neutralizes phytic acid and increases the vitamin content.  I will never cook beans again without sprouting first!  This reduces the gas - if you know what I mean - by 90 percent!  Love it!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Baby Toms via Pinterest

I made these little baby shoes the other day:

I love little projects that help me use up remnants.  I found this idea via Pinterest here.  The pattern comes from Joanna and can be downloaded here.  The pattern says the shoes will fit babies 0-6 months, but I think they look too big for a newborn.  The top of the shoes ended up being a little bunchy due to the elastic and refuses to stay flat.  I guess it's better than cute little baby shoes falling off and getting lost!  Now someone I know just needs to have a baby boy.  Do you have any patterns you like for baby shoes or clothing or accessories?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Celebrating Change

Back in February 2012, I finished making my very first swimsuit.  It looked great, and fit pretty well, except for one problem.  The lining was less stretchy than the outside floral, resulting in a less than comfortable item of clothing.  It worked all right, though, and I wore it in the pool several times that year.

Tonight, I brought it back to the pool for the first time in months.  A lot of things have happened since then.  My shoulder injury is much better, and so I've been able to keep up an upper-body weight program for the first time in my life.  (Many thanks to my husband who has taught me so much about fitness!)  I don't do anything hard-core, mind you.  I actually love the 10 minute FitSugar Workouts on YouTube.  They are simple and easy.  But, I have gained considerable muscle mass in my traps and especially in my lats.  The tendonitis in my knees has not been quite as chronic, and so I've been able to maintain a greater level of strength even when I have to wait out the pain by resting.

When I slipped on my suit and got in the pool, I noticed that not only was the suit tight up and down, but it was tight in the shoulders and around the leg holes.  So, basically, this suit doesn't fit anywhere and it's time to make a bigger one.  ....And I feel like celebrating because for the first time in 3 years, I can see that my injuries are not taking over my life.  I might have to bear them a bit, and sometimes it is frustrating, but I can work around them and do what I can to strengthen my body against future injury.

And it feels good.  Oh, so good.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Butterick 5741 - WIP

I've taken a break from some of last months sewing projects and have started this tote, See & Sew Butterick 5741.  I found this 44" upholstery print on sale at Joann's and snatched it up.

It's like a jungle floral!  So fun!  The tote pattern calls for hair canvas, which is not typically sold in stores, and is difficult to find by the yard online.  I messaged my college sewing professor and she told me where to find hair canvas.  We both thought it was a little strange that a tote would call for this stuff, when hair canvas is typically used in suits or coats.  She suggested using a stiff interfacing instead.  I found some extra stiff Pellon interfacing.  This, in my opinion, is better than hair canvas because it is washable.

The interfacing is quite stiff, as you can see.  I'm wondering if it is too stiff, but I'm not experienced in bag-making so it will be an adventure.

I love the pockets and the print, although I maybe could have matched it up better.

I usually sew clothing so I never considered that this bag making business would be so difficult.

When you are dealing with 4 layers of upholstery fabric and 2 layers of thick interfacing at a corner, it is no fun.  But, that's over and it doesn't look bad.  Ironing the darn thing is hard, too!  My tailor's ham was invaluable to press the seams open. 

My bag is sitting atop our new porch!  The old one was falling apart, a little tilted and dangerous.  I've been waiting a year and a half for our landlord to fix it.  Love it!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A New Year 2013 (Updated)

The year 2012 was a great year for sewing.  I was able to check a lot of things off my list.  As someone who loves list making and checking, it was really fun.  Check!

I learned to sew knits with my serger, including 2 knit dresses, 2 swimsuits and some shorts.  I drafted a shawl collar for Butterick 5315, resulting in a fun, yellow Easter dress.  I made pattern weights, a duct tape dress form, and learned how to separate serger thread spools.  I had a rockin' time making Halloween costumes for my husband and me.

I also made a ton of mistakes.  Whoops...did I let the cat out of the bag?  Yes, lots of projects were attempted and not all of them succeeded, but I learned a lot in the process.  I learned that I can't fit pants to save my life.  I learned that I really, really like knits.  They are quick, easy to fit, and comfortable to wear.  I learned to properly make a Small Bust Adjustment.  Yay! 

My Plans for 2013 Include:

Finish Lace Dress (Vogue 8667)
Red Party Dress with Vogue 8766
Appliance Cover using red gingham Ikea fabric
Couch Throw Pillows
Large Handbag using upholstery fabric
Sew a garment with chiffon fabric
Child's pajama pants and shirt
Christmas stocking
Baby Toms
Knit Blouse with fabric from Mood Fabrics
Halloween Costumes
Shorts in Red Fabric
Slacks with Craftsy lesson

I'm hoping to be able to get a DSLR camera to document all of this properly.  It is frustrating to know that pictures doesn't look how they could and that I don't have the right equipment to make them look better.  I wish they weren't so expensive.

I hope your New Year brings you possibilities, sunshine and smiles!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

DIY Duct Tape Dress Form - Part 2

So, after Mr. A cut me out of the duct tape dress form we made, I put a hanger on it and hung it in the bedroom on a ceiling hook.  I padded the hanger with some fabric scraps so it wouldn't distort the shoulders.

...And there she hung over the weekend. 

To fill the dress form, I first had to plug the leg holes.  I reinforced the edges with more layers of tape and then cut 2 pieces of foam core the same size and shape as the holes. (Note: She's hanging up in the doorway.)

 The shape doesn't have to be exact.  You can set the leg plug and tape it in a couple places, and then trim the shape smaller, as needed.  Tape the plug in place all the way around.

Now comes the sticky part.  I used a combination of Great Stuff and newspapers to fill the form.  Use one can of Great Stuff at a time.  I squirted it far down into the legs, and when the can was empty, I grabbed some newspapers and used them to stuff the stuffing down farther.  The stuff expands but not as much as I had imagined.  You've got to take the paper and cram it into the crevices or they will cave in later.

The newspapers caused problems.  Don't use them!  More on that later.

Oh, and you need gloves for this because it will get ALL OVER your hands!  If this happens, just use some nail polish remover with acetone and it will come off.  And it will probably ruin your gloves, unless you feel like taking acetone to those, too.

This is what the inside abdomen/hips looked like after 2 cans of Great Stuff:

You'll want to let the GS dry in between cans.  There are two indentations down the legs where I took my fist with some newspaper and crammed the stuff in farther.  I took the waiting time as an opportunity to fix the abdomen.  When I compared Dolly's (yes, I named my dress form Dolly) tummy with my own I found that she was a good inch bigger than me.  

I grabbed an blade knife and performed surgery down the center front and made a slit at the fullest point:

Then, I brought the tummy in and taped it up nice and good:

VoilĂ , food baby GONE!  I compared mine and Dolly's waist measurements and they matched.

So I continued to add more cans of foam, and stuffing the newspapers in after each can of foam.  It looked great at first.  Much of the inside of the abdomen is filled with newspaper, and then I added more foam on top, which caused the tummy to cave in.  I added a hanger before I taped the back up all the way.  I taped the armholes closed the same way I did the leg holes, and then sprayed the last of the foam through the neck hole.
 Holy cow, it looks like an enormous goiter: 

The goiter went down as it dried but I still have some foam to scrape off.  This is Dolly all filled with foam and newspapers:

 The upper body looks really good and matches my measurements, but the abdomen and butt have some serious caving in issues.

If I were to do this again, I wouldn't use any newspapers.  

They just left air gaps which caved in from the weight of the foam above.  My husband suggested comparing abdomen measurements and adding a layer of tape where it caved in, and filling that with spray foam.

I wish I was a Mythbuster and could fill my body cast with a medium that handles weight better.  Dolly's leg stumps even caved in a bit after I added foam above the abdomen.  Sigh.
 I got a nice gift card to the fabric store for Christmas.  Last night I was picking up some fabric and stopped to take a look at the dress forms.  They were $110 off, which was tempting.  The petite dress form's couldn't dial up enough to fit my waist size and the shoulders are not adjustable.  Considering the fact that I have smaller than average shoulders, this would not work.  If I can't make it look truly like a body double, than this duct tape dress form is the best option I have.
 I am a little discouraged with the bottom half of the dress form, but when I get the courage again, I will fix it and let you know how it goes.