Friday, March 28, 2014

The Kythera Dress

Introducing my second dress! And it's my first self drafted "pattern"! Sorry for all the pictures in this post: Friends, try not to think I'm vain :)

I'm calling it the Kythera dress because all the little squiggly lines and dots remind me of waves and islands of the Aegean Sea. Of course, I had to do my photo shoot in front of an olive tree to complete the Greek theme!

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It's a fitted bodice with 2 side bust darts (is that even the word for those horizontal ones under your arms?), 2 waistline bust darts, center back zip, folded neckline, and a full gathered skirt.

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Here's the story. I had literally two scraps of this fabric, originally intended as a pillowcase project I think. One larger piece that I'm guessing was about a yard's worth and another much smaller strip about a quarter of a yard.

I knew from my first dress that 1.5 yards was barely enough for a proper bodice, so I improvised by draping the smaller piece over myself.  I figured I could just put in 4 bust darts like B5748 and call it good.

You can imagine that this is really hard to do without a dress form.  I literally wrapped it around myself right side in, pinned the center back closed, and then pinched out the fabric underneath my bust. And the whole time, I was just thinking to myself, "don't skewer your boob." Seriously, pins against your bare skin is a scary feeling. And they're all wobbly.

What I didn't realize until I had sewn in the side darts was that I needed side seams to hide the ends of the darts, and I had so little fabric I didn't want to take in any on the sides.  I ended up extending the darts to wrap around the back and make a cool little V into the center back at the waist.

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Details, details.. So much catch-stitching on this dress. I turned down the top edge and catch-stitched it so it wouldn't be so obvious, and of course, I also catch-stitched the hem.  It's so beautiful and even because of the uniformity of the pattern :)

I also put in a kind of accordion fold in the neckline in order to give it a faux-sweetheart shape.  I hand tacked the point of the fold down and just let the rest of the fold do whatever.  It kind of just eases itself back to the flat neckline about where the side darts meet the neckline.

And this is literally like the first dress where I don't get gaping neckline, yay! I can bend over and people won't be able to see my bra, plus the tightness of the bodice actually helps the strapless bra stay up! Double win!

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I think these detail shots show the truer color of the fabric; it's more grey than blue. I love the muted colors, it doesn't quite say "look at me!" the same way my other dress does :)

And one more fun touch, I made the straps slightly wider at my shoulders (inspired by, of all things, the style of Hollister tank tops) so it sort of looks like an elongated pointed oval just so the straps were not boring straight tubes.  (Fun fact: I just looked up pointed oval because I couldn't think of what else to call that Venn Diagram intersection shape; it's called a vesica piscis or fish bladder!)

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Summary
Pattern:  Self-drafted! Trying my hand at this for the first time! (And only maybe because I didn't think I could fit any pattern I had onto the amount of fabric I had.)
Fabric:  Maybe about 1 and a quarter yards of cotton
Notions: 18" navy zipper scored at an estate sale!
Techniques used: Hand picked zipper again! So much catch-stitching! Machine gathering (I hand basted and gathered my last skirt)!
Will you make it again?  Eh, probably not, it's a fairly distinctive looking silhouette, plus my design makes it too tight in the bodice and it pulls funny in the back, so the style lines are not quite right.
Final comments: Ok, even though it's a bit tight, and the straps are set a little wide so that they always fall off my sloping shoulders, I love it! I wore it to the last 3 parties I went to, and of course, it helps that I get to modestly say that I made and designed it myself :) I have learned that I need to wear a slip with it if I'm wearing tights because the cotton likes to stick to my tights. Oh, and it's cotton, so I don't feel bad about wadding it up and putting it through the washer and dryer like some kind of heathen.

And just for fun, I'll leave you with this picture. I really debated about including this because of my extremely derpy face. But that's sewing blogger life, right? Like a million pictures of yourself with a stupid face just so you can get one good picture of your pretty new dress :) (I'm pretty sure I had just tried to climb up into the tree)  Aaand, I got up at 6am to take these pictures because I wanted the light to be soft, and so no one would ask me any questions about what the hell I'm doing.

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Tell me, do you have any self-portrait outtakes that you actually ended up really liking?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Star Wars Laptop Sleeve!

Ok, so this actually started out with an idea that I had after having lunch with my friend.  She mentioned that she hadn't been taking her new laptop to classes because it was bigger than her previous case.  Bingo! Perfect handmade gift for her birthday -- or if my track record with timely gift giving is any indication, more like for the holidays!

I figured, in my head, that I might try a basic zipper pouch tutorial, of which there are a million on craftgawker.  Or at least I would try and cobble something together from a few different tutorials. And then, lo and behold, my past-self rewards my current-self after a casual perusal of my bookmarks folder (yes, yes, so sue me, I probably could better manage these things using Pinterest). This design*sponge tutorial!  Woo! Exactly what I wanted :) Mostly because I love the idea of the wrap-around zipper so it's not so ... over-sized clutch looking?

The lovely case from the Design*Sponge tutorial! Admittedly, I don't love plaid (but just about everyone else in the world does), but I love that cool metal zipper and contrast lining.


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Materials:
-I bought a half-yard of this luscious soft and fluffy fleecy stuff at Joann's in this beautiful buttery yellow.  Can you tell I love this stuff? It's pretty damn expensive (at least to me) for a fleece, but if you can catch it at full price and then use a 50% off coupon, I would love to buy 2.5-3 yards and back a yummy lap/couch blanket with this.  Anyways, the tutorial suggests that you need a half yard of the inner material, but really, you could probably do with a quarter yard or less since you buy the fabric on the fold (if that makes sense? You only need a maximum of a half yard of single fold fabric).  But bonus! Now I have a little leftover, what should I make with it?
-Plus, I totally scored on the Star Wars fabric, since there was just under a yard left on the bolt, so I got it half off! Joann's actually had a small selection of different kinds of Star Wars fabrics, 3 or 4 different prints I think, but I liked this one the best because of the graphic geometric look of it.  I also saw some other great nerdy prints... :)
-I also bought some metal D-rings because I kind of wanted to make this a wearable laptop case, if I could swing it, instead of something you put inside your backpack or work tote because I assume that's what my friend's problem was in the first place.
-Long zipper, probably a 22" one, I fortunately had this navy blue one that I bought at an estate sale. 
-And to top it all off, a salvaged luggage strap for carrying. I almost bought some webbing and notions while at Joann's, but I figured I had enough junk lying around at home that I must have at least one spare strap from some bygone luggage.

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Look at my corners! So neat and clean! And check out those cheeky little tab holders for my D-rings.  I had to hunt carefully to find and cut out the faction symbols....and then re-cut them because I forgot to give myself a seam allowance.

It was super easy to follow this tutorial since there were some really detailed process shots.  The only part where I got kind of confused was where the bottom part was sewn up to meet the zipper seams.  I couldn't really get the foot to go over the zipper bulk, so I ended up ladder stitching the rest of it.

Sorry to make you go through all that introduction, but ta-da! The finished product!

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I'm really very pleased with myself for making this! I think it looks really nice, no extremely obvious mistakes  :)

After making this and then letting it sit for a while, I decided to make a few changes:

1. Nix the D-rings and the strap and just leave it as a fun little case protector.  The tabs were too flimsy to really do a good job, I think it would have worked a lot better with webbing underneath the tab, and probably also a slightly different design with the webbing wrapped around the bottom to give it strength.

2. Give the fleece a haircut near the zipper. Can you see all that fluff near the teeth? The zipper kept catching as I was testing it out, so I just took my scissors and trimmed it down.  It wasn't too difficult, I just had to be careful to not cut a hole in my lining.

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I really hope my friend likes it and uses it!  I always worry that I end up making really weird things that people won't actually use.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Awesome and (fairly) easy crocheted flower potholders

Sorry for the radio silence around here, but you know how it gets around the holidays, right? Traveling and involuntary internet breaks was the norm for me in December and January.

Plus, holiday crafting. Ugh. Don't even get me started on how awful it is.  It's nice to think that you'll make some people their gifts this year, but then you forget about it until December.  And then everything goes to hell in a hand basket.  That's why all the hardcore crafters do "Christmas in July" isn't it??

Enter the Crochet Flower Hot Pad on Ravelry.  Super interesting to look at, yet a piece of cake to crochet (and it's free!).  What's not to love? I was able to whip up several of these in a short amount of time, however there's a huge caveat here.  I could have left them as-is after crocheting, but I wanted these to be more or less functional as potholders too.  I couldn't have all those holes in them, so I decided I wanted to sew up all the holes. This took twice as long as the actual crocheting, probably due to the striping, since I wanted to make the seams as unobtrusive as possible.

I made a bunch of these for my aunts while I was visiting over the holidays, it was like kitsch-on-demand! Everyone wanted one as soon as they saw me making one (I was initially only making the 2 for N's parents as a thank-you-for-hosting-me gift). 

I did them all up in Lily Sugar'n Cream cotton yarn, and I really do love them even if I didn't get to keep a single one and they drove me crazy. Plus, they use hardly any yarn at all.  I probably squeezed 5 of them out of a single ball of the Ecru.

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Made these two pretty colorways for N's parents.

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See the picture above for all the seams I had to close up, and I did it all in the secondary color (orange here). I used one long tail to sew them all closed so I had to be very careful to stay within the correct stripe as I went from seam to seam. It was aggravating, and if I never crochet another one of these for at least a few months, I'll be happy.

'Til next year easy-but-aggravating pattern!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Pets on Parade

If you are in need of the best pick-me-up this (cold) winter, then save the date for the annual Gaslamp Pet Parade.  This Sunday, December 8, parade starts at 2:30 pm! More information at their website.  Free to watch! You know you want to :)

If you really need more convincing, I took a couple pictures at last year's parade.  It's mostly doggies, but there's a few kitties and horses thrown in for good measure.  It's just fun to see all the little costumes.

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I think this fluffy little guy ended up being best in show. His human was controlling the car with his iPad, isn't that an incredible setup?

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Lots of sweet dogs dressed up, mostly in Christmas gear, but a few standouts like these in "other" genres.  I love the lion haircut, so funny!

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I guess this is officially a thing now, cute dogs in toy vehicles?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Dinosaur for Atlas

I made this sweet, sweet t-rex for my coworker who was pregnant. Yep, was pregnant, as in, I made this for her baby shower gift, and then baby Atlas decided to come a month early!  We cancelled the baby shower, and just had her come pick up her gifts with baby in tow.  So, on the plus side, little baby at work :)  But on the minus side, no baby shower cake :( I know, priorities, right?

Here's the Ravelry page for Timothy the T-rex from Bluephone studios.  Oh my gosh, I am like drooling over all the patterns from Bluephone.  Everything is freaking adorable.  I just loved this pattern, it's a great design, and easy enough to make again and again without getting tired of it.

I know I made the colorway from the pattern photo, but I thought this was the cutest for a baby boy without being ubiquitous blue.  Plus, red was the color family of yarn that I actually had a good matching stripe color.

When making this up, I tried to avoid weaving in ends in the body stripes by carrying the color through the rest of the stitches until I reached the next stripe.  I really wanted all my loose ends to be secure since this is probably destined for a rough toddler.  I am usually really lazy about knotting my loose ends inside the piece since most of my things are bought by college age students.

I'm kind of mad about the eyes since I tried to put them in straight, but they somehow ended up a little crooked, so they're not perfectly straight with the indentation in the head.  I try not to look at it too hard.

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Don't his little useless arms just kill you?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Scribbled - My First Dress!

You guys, I made my very first dress! Like I cut out a paper pattern and everything!

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(Boo, I forgot to bring my camera home to take pictures, so I had to make do with a little powershot point and shoot.  Sorry for the low quality.)

I bought a handful of patterns from an estate sale for 10 cents a piece, so I figured it was pretty low stakes to start cutting into one of them.  I still haven't cut into some of the basic Butterick patterns that I bought from JoAnn's for a $1 each because I'm still too scared to mess them up.



This is McCall's 2604, View E, cut in a size 8, except that I hacked off the paneled skirt at the natural waist.  So it's basically a princess seamed bodice with a gathered skirt.  Also, I'm also going to call this a "softly pleated" skirt instead of gathered because I gathered the skirt by hand and didn't exactly distribute evenly around the waist.

I made this out of 1.5 yards of a Lisette fabric from JoAnn's, some kind of cotton twill, I think, so it's pretty stiff.  It was really tough to squeeze the dress out of so little fabric, which is why I ended up cutting off the pattern skirt since the pieces wouldn't fit on the fabric.  The only fabric left from cutting this out is the little U left from the neckline!  I actually cut the facings out of muslin because I couldn't squeeze it onto the main fabric.

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I actually made this to wear to someone's wedding, and I really wish I had gotten pictures of it while I was there because the venue was gorgeous! It was at the Redwood Gardens in Sebastopol, CA.  Seriously fairy tale-like grounds.  Looking back though, it's a tad bright and over-the-top for a wedding.  Probably should have stuck with something monotone, but this was the fabric that I had in my stash.

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Woohoo for laziness! This is an extremely ugly zipper color that doesn't match anything since I got it at an estate sale, but it was the only one in my stash that was long enough, and as a bonus, it already had the hook part of the eye tacked onto the top of the zipper tape! And because I don't know what happened to the eye that should have gone with this hook, I just sewed on a jewelry split ring :)

And would you look at those catch-stiched facings? I actually did that after I wore the dress for the first time because I couldn't stop fiddling with those damn things.  It looks so much nicer now, even though it still looks pretty horrific on the inside.

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My beautiful hand-picked zipper! And almost-matched pattern! This tutorial from Sewaholic literally held my hand as I did this for the first time, and it looks great!

Can I let you in on a little secret? Most of the reason I did a hand-picked zipper was not actually because I wanted it to be invisible.  Even though I admit it looks really nice now that I've done it. It's because (A) I don't actually know how to sew in a zipper and (B) I'm not sure I even own a damned zipper foot.

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More beautiful catch-stitching.  And another wonderfully instructive tutorial from Sewaholic on how to catch-stitch.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Scottie Dog Pajama Shorts

I love this cute little print!  This is actually the first (big) sewing project I've tackled since 8th grade, I think.

My college had this fun club that was just starting out, called Sew Awesome, and this was one of the projects they planned, so it was completely free to me!  I immediately zoomed over to this whimsical flannel print when I saw it.  They provided a basic shorts pattern (here's a similar free one).  Fit is not too essential since it is an elasticated waist, and they are supposed to be a little loose and comfy for lounging.

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I actually added in-seam pockets (using this Burdastyle tutorial), but I didn't make my pockets big enough because I used a scrap of contrasting flannel.  Big enough for a lens cap, I guess?

I also unfortunately made my shorts too tight, so they're not actually all that great for sitting around in. A little tight in the crotch and the leg openings. 

And, finally, I added a little pink bow to the front since the front and back looked basically the same to me! I guess I could have stitched a fake fly front, but I was done fiddling with these by that point.

(Also, remember my fun hair tie from here? Proof that I actually wear what I DIY.)