Saturday, August 7, 2010

New blog on house

Dear readers,
I'm starting a new blog to document my experience / thoughts / ramblings on fixing up my house.
Go to Little Corner House and check it out if you're interested.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The beginning of a new life

The 9.5 months of waiting is over, and the work begins. 

Sleep no longer matters.  Eight hours a night?  Bah!  Five-to-six is now enough for me, thankyouverymuch.  Nevermind the headache.  Bring on the coffee and aspirin!

Food is no longer a culinary experience.  Well, not that it was ever a culinary experience...  (I just like food).  Now eating is just for fueling the body.

This new "thing" that just recently came into my life, that lately has been continuously occupying the most of my limited brain space, is:

(wait for it)

(wait for it)

A house!

A new freaking house!  Okay, it's actually 60-years old, but it's new to me!  And it's all mine!  (and husband's).  And it's ugly!  So we may or may not have overpaid but there's no use to crying over spilt milk, I say just grab a straw and drink it straight from the floor!

That said... I'll be taking time off from sewing and blogging in the next few months, to nurture this new source of stress and obsession back into a presentable shape.  I will return with hopefully some decent before-and-after picture, because without before-and-after pictures, we are less equipped to judge people.

P.S. If you're asking why it took 9.5 months, I have one word for you:  Banks.  Evil, incompetent, selfish banks that think they rule the world and expect everybody else to play their games and if they lose, they ask everybody to bail them out.  Okay, that's more than one word, but they do rule the world and got bailed out.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

But I don't wanna be a bridesmaid!

Continuing with my stash-busting mission....

This is a magenta / fuchsia / deep dark pink (Robert Kaufman calls it "berry" - whatever) silk-cotton blend.  Because of the limited yardage (only 2 yards), I chose a simple sheath with minimal practically no details... Burda 02-2009-124A
 I was aiming for a simple yet bold work dress, but the result is more like the world's most boring bridesmaid dress that J. Crew tossed aside as FAIL:

I wore it to work as a top, tucked into my gray trumpet skirt, cinched with a black belt at the waist, and black heels.  Somebody at work said it shows a nice silhouette.  She also reports to me so it could have just been an obligatory compliment from her part.  I can't think of how else to wear the dress so that it doesn't scream bridesmaid.  Any ideas, readers? 

The pattern itself is very easy and very fast to sew.  It took me only a couple of weekends including tracing, pressing, sewing a muslin, fitting adjustments, and sewing the dress.  There's no lining, although I probably should have made one, since the silk-cotton fabric is rather thin.

PR review here.

By the way, buy this.

This greatest-hits compilation was in heavy rotation in my iPod since I bought it a couple of weeks ago.  Very, very good music!  And Jim Morrison!  This explains why they were a big deal back in the 60's.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Streamer Frock Grosgrain Giveaway

The Streamer Frock Grosgrain Giveaway

This is one of the rare cases where there's rickrack on a garment and it doesn't look crafty.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Now collecting donation to buy this dress

From Yves Saint Laurent 2011 Resort collection
(Picture taken from Project Rungay)

Model, if you could just smile a bit, please. 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Batik skirt and scarf.

About 2 weeks ago, I subconsciously started a stash-busting mission.

I've accumulated a substantial amount of fabric over the past few months years and haven't done much about it.  Mainly because of lack of inspiration and general laziness. But no more!  I'm getting a little tired of the unorganized state of my little sewing studio, so those fabrics need to be used or go!

So.  The first fabric I tackled on is a a soft batik (the label says "batik halus", which literally translates to soft batik, so that's how I know) that my mom bought for me in Indonesia almost 2.5 years ago. It's definitely not silk.  It could be polyester or rayon or some other static-magnet type of fabrics.  I've got static electricity shocks every time I touched it.  In retrospect I shouldn't have rubbed my shoes on the wool carpet at the same time.

Cool print, no?  Dizzyingly groovy!  If you stare at it for 5 minutes, you will see a space ship!*

It took me all 2.5 years since I've had this fabric to decide what to make with it, because of the border print and the limited quantity (2-yards at 40+inches wide).  Whatever it is, it has to show off the border print, as it's the most interesting thing about the fabric.  The fabric is rather difficult to sew, because it's so drapey and slippery.  A more complicated design would just add unnecessary frustration that would lead to my abandoning the project. Finally, I settled on a simple a-line skirt, inspired by Tasia's skirt, using Kathleen's 20-minute skirt instruction

New technique learned is inserting an elastic for the waistband.  Basic, I know... having never done it previously, I consider it a "new" technique.

The result:

Hm.  It looks like culottes on the second picture.  I guess it would have been a more interesting piece as culottes.  Unless culottes are lame.  (Are they?)

I had a strip of leftover fabric that I made into a long scarf:

Not a bad way to start off the mission... the temporary great feeling of accomplishment, slightly lighter stash, more clothes!

* Just kidding, you will not see a space ship.  You might get dizzy and throw up, though.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Balloon skirt refashion + tutorial

I generally stay away from floral prints, because they can look dowdy on me.  Geometric prints are okay.  Florals, meh.

Once in a while, though, I come across some very nice floral prints that I just can't pass up, like this one:

Tell me this is not the prettiest floral print you've ever seen!  Okay, maybe it's not, but if you agree with me, thank you and I like you very much.  In any case, I like that it's more impressionist floral than literal, and the colors are deep, saturated (no pastels - yay!).

I bought this skirt about two years ago, from a consignment store (nowadays, I buy retail only if there's a gift certificate.).  It's a Perry Ellis silk number.  Haven't worn it much because the skirt hangs low, way past my knee, at the widest point of the calf, the fastest way to Dowdyville.

What to do?

I could just shorten it, but it's wouldn't improve the skirt so much, and also it would mean blindstitching the hem, which I hate doing, because I have yet to learn how to do it with the machine.

So why not turn it into a balloon skirt instead!  It adds just enough interest without being too obvious or trying too hard.

There's suprisingly a short supply of balloon skirt tutorial on the interweb (By short supply, I mean none.  Then again, it could just be my nonexistent research skills).  It took a couple of epic-fails, but I finally figured it out how to properly balloonize a skirt.  I thought might as well share this with my fellow sewers.

(Start tutorial)

1.   The best skirt for this project has a full or A-line silhouette, and drape-y or silky fabric in light to medium weight with lining.  Mine is lightweight silk, and the lining is considerable less full than the outer skirt.  This allows for automatic ballooning without any elastic.  (If your lining is as full as the skirt, then you will need to insert an elastic tape to create the balloon effect.  I might do another tutorial with the elastic in the future.). 

2.   If necessary, cut some length of the skirt, approximately 1.5 to 2 inches below the desired length (this includes seam allowance).  I cut mine roughly at the knee, because I want it to fall just right above the knee.  Cut the lining fabric 1 inch shorter than the skirt fabric.

3.   Put gathering stitch at the bottom edge of the skirt. 

4.   Unstitch one of the lining seams approximately 3 inches at the bottom.  This will create an opening for turning the skirt right-side out at the end.  (Depending on the quantity and weight of your own skirt fabric, you may want to allow more opening.)  Then, adjust the gathers at the skirt, so that the seams line up with the lining seams.

5.   Turn just the bottom edges of the skirt and lining, so that the right sides are facing (Just turn the bottom edges over, not the whole skirt! Keep the skirt / lining positioning as is, like if you're wearing it normally.  This is where I made the error at previous tries).  Then, pin away!  I start pinning at the seam where I made the lining opening.  Keep pinning alongside the bottom edge.
(Yes, I have man fingers and man nails.  Don't judge me.  And I won't say anything about anybody's foot fungus.)

6. After pinning the bottom edges, your skirt should look like this.  Well, not as pretty, maybe.  But see how the lining ends up on side and the skirt on the other, forming some kind of a tube.

7.  Stitch the skirt and the lining edge together. 

8.   Then, through the lining opening that you created at step 4, turn the skirt right side out.  Stitch the opening close (slipstitch or edgestitch.  I did the latter to avoid handstitching.  Sloppy, yes, but I 'm not expecting anybody looking up my lining without their faces being accidentally stepped on with major force).

9.   Finished!  Now wear your old-but-improved skirt and pose with a satisfactory gesture!
(Note to self:  In the future, do not tuck in sweater; blouson effect can look like muffin tops.)

10.   Better picture!

Hopefully this tutorial helps anybody looking for a quick way to freshen up their skirts or dresses.  Let me know if there's an error, so I can obligingly act embarrassed for a few moments and issue a correction.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Vogue 8646, the Almost-Fail Dress

Well, it turned out rather well, despite fitting challenges.

The "very-easy" rating is true to its claim.  With no buttons or zippers, and just a couple of side seams, maybe some darts and pleats here and there, the Vogue 8646 is a breeze to sew.  The A-B-C-D cup sizes is a nice bonus.  These are the main reasons why I bought this pattern, by the way.  Those, and the $3.99 sale price.

Some new techniques that I used on this project are:
  • Underlining.  The self fabric is cotton dotted swiss, which is rather transparent, so I underlined it with cotton batiste to add opaqueness.  I was thinking about lining it at first, but it would take longer, so I let laziness get the best of me, and it paid off!  Not only I learned a new technique, the project also finished faster. 
  • French seam:  Ah... The French sure know how to make things pretty!  The lack of zipper makes it possible to "French the seams".  I've been meaning to use this technique for a while, but zippers have been getting in the way.
  • Bias tape finishing:  The pattern calls for finishing the armscye and neckline with bias tape.  My execution wasn't the greatest... there's puckering and pulling especially at the armscye area, probably because I shaped the tape half-heartedly before sewing it on.  Luckily the texture of the fabric hides the imperfection and makes it less obvious.
  • Hemming a full skirt:  Thank goodness there's no blind-stitching here, I would have poked my eyes!  (Then I would be blind-stitching, literally).   By ease-stitching and gathering the extra fullness at the edge, hemming was quite easy.
Here's worn: 

It's rather decollete... might have to make a detachable modesty panel so can wear it without worrying about accidental exposure.  The not-centered front shoulder pleats are not as bothersome as expected, so I'm pretty happy about it.

And here's twirled:

Ready for summer! 

(PR review here)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

WTH is wrong with Vogue Patterns?


I bought this pattern, Vogue 8646, during their latest $3.99 sale. 

Isn't it a cute dress?  Perfect for summer, in white dotted swiss underlined with white cotton batiste.  (That's the fabrics I'm using, anyway).

Based on the size chart, I'm a 14, so that's what I cut.  Lo-and-behold, it fits like a potato sack!  I ended up taking in 1.25" on both sides, front and back.  That's a 5-inch take-in, folks.  Good thing I made a muslin.

During the pattern adjustment, though, I may have made a mistake of leaving the front pleats on the same location (instead of centering them at the shoulder seams), so the boobage is out of whack.  No turning back now as I'm more than halfway through on it.

Mind you, this is not my first BVM pattern.  Last year I made this Butterick 5277:

Same issue, about 2-sizes to big.  It had to be rescued by a pro-seamstress because I didn't want to bother taking it in myself and didn't want to learn how to, either.

Burda sizes seem to be spot on, although I can't say the same for Simplicity as I've yet to sew any of their patterns.  So, is it me choosing the wrong size or is it a common problem with BVM patterns?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Hawaiian Fabric galore

Confession:  I, too, am a selfish seamstress (just like another seamstress who has famously self-professed so).  With the number of hours involved in choosing, tracing, cutting, pressing, fitting, sewing, finishing a garment, I put myself above all others.  However, this year I resolve to make a thing or two for others.  Family members are a good start.  (Although I don't think I will ever sew for anybody not related to me, unless it's a super-easy craft project).

That said....

For the past few months, hubby has been pestering me to make some Hawaiian shirts for him, since the purchased ones he has are falling apart (he moves very animatedly, so clothes take a lot of beating just from washing and wearing).  So far I've managed to get out of it by making up the excuse that there are no good Hawaiian fabrics around here. 

Then today, via Tasia, I found this store, Hawaii's Fabricmarts.

Real Hawaiian prints!


And those are just six prints that I really like.  They also have silks and rayons, although not quite extensive as the cottons.

As you can tell, I'm quite partial to blues (the last one with the khaki background I just threw in for giggles), big floral prints (preferably hibiscus, Hawaii's state flower; the second-to-last with the bikes I think is funny; no small prints, they can look dowdy), with at least two contrast foreground colors.  Those, my dear reader(s), are my requirements for Hawaiian prints.  In my non-Hawaiian life I prefer non-blues and solids.

Anyway, if I read it correctly, the store requires a minimum of 5-yards each pattern and 20-yards total for online purchases.  Wow - that would make a lot of cute little cotton summer dresses!  Oh.  Wait.  I would have to make shirts for hubby first.  Damn.  Hmm...  What new excuse to use?  *Scans through excuse book.*  A-ha!  Either "I don't know how to sew collars and buttonholes" or "I've used up my fabric allowance for the next couple of months" should work for a while.  Both are true.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pattern for Burda top?

Hi all - thanks for your nice comments on my Burda chartreuse top; they definitely boosted my motivation to sew my next project.

A few of you asked for pattern or tutorial.  I don't think my unorganized self is capable of putting up a tutorial.  Alternatively, I wouldn't mind tracing & posting the multi-size pattern pieces on this blog.  My concern is Burda copyright cop come a-knocking at my door with design / copyright infringement issue, if I do so.

Does anybody know, if posting the patterns on the blog would constitute an infringement?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I'm not dead and here's a new one

Haven't put up anything new lately, because there hasn't been anything new made.  Last week though, I decided to do something with the growing stack of fabrics, so I resorted to this quick & easy project to see if it would get my motivation going again.  

Burda 08-2009-117, the Parisian Chic flouncy top:

Parisian chic indeed.  At least the model is.  Mine?  Well, take a lookie here:

Wrinkles are not Parisian Chic.  I'm really bad at pressing.  So, pardon me.

The pattern is a loose fitting one, so I went down a size (40 to 38) because my figure doesn't take loose fitting very well.

I used chartreuse - my new favorite color - Radiance silk-cotton blend that I splurged on a while back (You're welcome, Britex).   This fabric is really amazing.  It's lightweight (perfect for the warm weather), soft, silky, with a little bit of drape, and it's washable.  The right side of the fabric is shiny and the color richer, however I used the wrong side because I'm opposed to shiny things.

If you notice, the outer edges of the flounce are raw, because I didn't cut the seam allowance I did it on purpose.  If J.Crew can get away making (and selling at $80!) tops with unfinished edges, I can too!  No, really, I got confused by Burda's direction and thought, the hell with it, let's just cut the outer edge without the seam allowance and see what happens.  Luckily I think it turned out okay.

Here's me modeling it:

And again with a ribbon belt:

For some reason, the flounce follows the shape of elephant ear/trunk.  Not very Parisian chic.

Anyway, I wore this with white jeans to showcase the color.  I rarely wear green and do not own many green clothes, so as a result I always get punched on St. Paddy's day.  (Is it pinching or punching?  I always get punched).  Well, no more!  Now I have something visibly green!  Or chartreuse!  But it's green to some people!

This is a very easy project and I'm quite happy with the result.  In the process I actually started thinking about the next project (a summer dress), so this quick top turned out to be just what I needed to get back in the sewing mode.

So... what do you think?

(PR review here)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Burda skirt 11-2008-110

This is Burda 11-2008-110 skirt, an 8-gored flared-hem trumpet-y number.  


I used the wool suiting fabric from the stash and this nightmare of a lining, worked on it for three weekends, finished it last week, and wore it to work.  It's a very feminine skirt, a lot more than I'm used to.  All of a sudden all these curves just show up!  Wearing the skirt made me feel odd, giddy, and girly that my voice went up an octave or two.  My coworkers thought I was sick.  So I went home early and took some pictures.




The last picture I'm just showing off my shoes. 

Please don't be offended by the bad pressing job.  It's not my forte.  I don't  forte in everything I do no matter what people say.

(Edited:  Here's my review of the pattern on PR)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Drunk-sew much?

No, actually, I do not.  Despite evidence to the contrary.

The following pictures are of the rayon Bemberg / Ambiance lining for my current project.  Not a friendly fabric, I tell you what. Made quite a few mistakes and learned some lessons that I'm sharing here:

1) Do not scrunch, wring, or stomp on the fabric to get the water out, and leave it to air dry.  NO.  It results in what seems to be PERMANENT wrinkles.  Wash-and-dry in delicate cycle, or just dry-clean it.

2) Rayon Bemberg is slippery as hell!  It is difficult to sew straight!  Look at this hella crooked topstitching job!  Try "taut sewing" where you pull the fabric from the front and back of the feet.  Of course, cut the pieces on-grain in the first place!

3) Getting a nice pinking is even harder with slippery fabric!  Look at this one!  It looks like it's been gnawed by a mouse!  I don't have a "lesson learned" on this issue, other than "don't pink it!"

4) Use a sharp, small needle!  Otherwise you get stripe-y pulls across the grain like the above.

5) Nobody other than you needs to see the lining.  So if you have a bad lining, do not show it to the world like what I just did! 

Bitching aside, I'm looking for ideas for alternate lining fabrics that are more user-friendly.  Some folks prefer poly, others mention silk.  What's your preference, and why?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Somebody out there likes me

My blog is featured as a favorite blog on We All Sew!  How cool is that?  Very, I think.

We All Sew is central go-to for all things sewing, my favorite being growing list of links to freebies!  Go check it out!

Friday, January 29, 2010

No Pink & Red

BurdaStyle is having the Pink & Red challenge.  I thought about entering when it was first announced, but the 20-day notice is too short for me, since I sew only on the weekends.  This is what I was going to make...

... which is inspired by this gorgeous Trina Turk Algonquin dress (looooove the design but not so much the price):

I will still make this dress in different colors (not too crazy about pink-and-red combo anyway), and most likely without the big lace. Any suggestions on color combo, anybody?  What should I put on that curvy style line... Top-stitch?  Bias strip?  Some kind of small lace? 

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Oh no, where did it go?

I lost my sewing mojo.  Looked everywhere... under the bed, in my closet, in the car, inside the coat pockets....  It's nowhere to be found, not even at the last place I looked (the refrigerator).  Maybe it flew south to escape the winter.  If you find it, please tell it to come home... I promise I won't yell again.

When I was not looking for mojo in the last few weeks, I was busy sketching on my new Fashionary.  Well, not really sketching as much as awkwardly drawing self in various clothes that I want to sew.  Drawing instead of writing down my to-sew list really helps making the ideas more concrete and it's always fun to see myself in model-like proportion adorned in such stylish outfits. 

About the helmet hair on the first two (and on all of my previous) sketches...  I was really going for the Anna Wintour look, but apparently it looks more like this cat, who may or may not be amused with having some giant orange peel plopped on his head:

So naturally I changed it on subsequent drawings to a more realistic 'do.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Purple knit dress

Good thing I used the cheap polyester knit for this one. 

As predicted, I did some wrong math on the pattern drafting effort.  The armholes ended up very tight.  The book says to up the armsyce by .75 inches, so I did my usual .5, which in retrospect wasn't necessary (might actually need to lower it instead).  Also, the pattern calls for a straight silhouette, but I cut mine on the curvy side.  So the resulting drape looks a bit funny.

Construction-wise, it's a mixed result.  I didn't have any idea how to attach the roll collar, so it was pure improvisation, full of turning inside out and stretching here and there.  At one point I actually heard "rrrip!"  Thankfully I saw no sign of broken stitches, just a very stretched collar.

I used French seams for the sides.  It's my first time using French seam and I love the finished look, so I think I'll be using it a lot from now on.

Some pictures:

Full length (the stripe effect is from the window blinds):

I lightened up the picture a bit so the draping would show better:

I think I will make this dress again in the future, with a straighter silhouette, corrected armsyce, better construction know-how for the roll collar, and of course, nicer fabric, because apparently polyester melts when pressed.