More sewing


Yes, I still knit. I do! Yarn will be arriving shortly for another super secret project, and at the start of next month, I'll have a new pattern out that I can't wait to share with you.

For now, though I'll have to entertain you with ridiculous sewing FO shots.

I sewed a pretty little bag.

Ava Bag_10
Panda is not amused
pattern info here

Then I sewed another one.

Ava Bag_take two_23
Thea is not amused

And then I made a nutballs crazy skirt out of double cloth cotton gauze (gingham on one side, plaid on the other). It's a twirly joy to wear and so light and breezy. I might live in this, during the summer.

McCall's 5056_94

If you are a member of Pattern Review, you can see all my detailed pattern reviews here. Kind of crazy that I've sewn 22 projects in 3 months. Actually, there are a couple that didn't make it to the site at all. Sometimes I get a little obsessed with my (re)new(ed) hobbies.

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I think we need something other than me, wrapped in duct tape, at the top of this blog, if only for my own sanity.

I'm in LA for work, this week, so most of what I would post about is "I had a nice meeting." and "Oh yah, this is what wearing shoes is like!" Not very interesting stuff.

So instead, here is a picture of Darwin with the first bloom from our little rose garden and a sprig of lilac.

Season's first rose_06

And if that isn't entertaining enough, you can read the poetic missives

of some *ahem* admirers I had on flickr, who are now no longer permitted to opine on my photos. They get pretty colorful near the end. You've been warned.

The moral of this post: The internet is for pervs and pets.

MacGyver approved


Sometimes, while I'm going through photos I'm going to put online, I imagine a future in which I'm a candidate running for office and my opponent has all his/her lackeys looking for incriminating photos of me. I am pretty sure I'll have to answer for this post and probably a few of my pattern photos. I am basically unelectable at this point, but I do it for you, sweet internet people.

I have had a pinnable foam dress form for a few years now.

Nehalem Bay Shawl - Front (worn)

It's been indispensable for knitwear design, since it's close in size to the a standard sample size for magazine publishing. And it works well for making garments for myself because while it's a little smaller than I am, it's still a relatively close match and I can gauge my progress.

A little note, before I go any further. I'm going to talk about how I differ from the average for my size and also from the dress form. This could be construed as some sort of self loathing/body snarking/judgement of anyone else's shape that is like or unlike my own. It's not. We are all built the way we are built and everything you wear or knit should be done so with the intention of feeling great while you wear it. It's good to know what makes you want to give yourself the ol' finger guns, winky face in the mirror and what makes you want to crawl back into bed and hide from the world.

Getting back into sewing has made me realize that my dress form is really useless for sewing. Skirts slide right off those slender little hips and it can't come close to mimicking my swayback/bubble-butt combo. Swaybacks cause the pelvis to tilt, arching the lower back. In my dancing days, I was regularly training myself to tuck by butt back into alignment, but I've slowly lost that muscle strength and really have to remember to keep things aligned. Even when I'm conscious of it, my back is still pretty arched, but when I'm at ease, it's quite pronounced. Along with that bubbly butt and a bit of softness around the belly, that sway back is even more pronounced. Wearing clothing that fits snugly at the waist and falls straight down or flares, seems to look best on me. However, shorter skirts like McCall's 5431, that are worked in crisp cotton, really highlight how much higher the back hem sits than the front hem.

McCall's 5431_Take2_01

Along with my body's structural idiosyncrasies, there are more common variations of the type that must of exhibit in one area or another. My shoulders are quite straight across (no shoulder pads needed here) which actually balances out my hips but does require that I adjust sloped shoulder seams accordingly. My torso is relatively long and my legs are short in relationship, so tops need to be longer to avoid showing my belly and pants and skirts should be hemmed higher to keep the proportions in line.

Even if I had the spare money for an adjustable dress form, I'd be unlikely to find one that could account for all these peculiarities of my body. Most are made only to adjust for bust, hips and waist circumference, and possibly torso length.

For the price, a duct tape dress form seemed to be the best option and tutorials online abound, so you know you aren't diving into uncharted water.

This blog post would be too long if I went through each step here, so I made a flickr set and added my notes to the caption section of each image. You can see the set here.

I'm really happy with the end result, though I was trying so hard not to suck anything in, that I must have overcompensated while being wrapped. The waist is now 2-3" bigger than my actual waist measurements, even after I've eaten a good sized meal. It's still incredibly useful, but I may need to try to reduce that circumference at some point.

Here are the two forms, side by side.

Duct Tape Dress Form_07

I decided to roughly cover the form with some lycra I had in stash, to make it a little less duct-tapey.

Duct Tape Dress Form_09

I've already put it to good use, using it to hem a dress.

Vogue 1027_11

And adjust that blue skirt I showed above.

McCall's 5431_Take2_15

All said, we spent about 2 hours for the taping phase and then it took me another hour to stuff and finish the form. The materials, excluding the cover I made and the t-shirts I wore under the tape, cost under $25. About $6 each for 2 rolls of 60ft duct tape, about $2 each for 2-3 bags of fiberfill, and about $4 for a pair of raglan shoulder pads. The chain to suspend the form from the ceiling, was a few dollars more.

Hit or Miss


The other night, I bound of the second of my two projects due for publication. I'm really excited about them and I wish I could show you now, but if I did that, I wouldn't be getting any future publication projects to report on and that might cut into the ol' bottom line around here, so let's move on to what I've been doing when I haven't been frantically knitting.

I've been sewing. It looks like a lot but these have all been very quick projects. Some projects have been more successful than others and I'm really only just starting to feel comfortable making modifications and adjustments to the patterns. Clicking on photos will take you to larger views and more details about the projects themselves.

Simplicity 4032:
Simplicity 4032_07
Not impressed with the floppy, curly details.

This was not a success. It's OK, but the fleece curls along the raw edges, and the facings aren't really well secured, so they need to be tucked in each time you put it on. Instead of being a charming little alternative to a fleece sweatshirt, it's fussy and unfinished looking. It also has a really wide cross-back width and more ease than I like. While I like the idea of the project, if I try again, I'll forego the fleece and opt for a nice wool melton (which is spendier than my current budget allows for) and I'll cut a couple inches out of the overall width along the princess seam lines.

Vogue 8634
Cute sweatshirt is cute!

This project could not be easier and I love it. It's rated "very easy" and rightfully so. There are no notions, no interfacing, no lining, no easing anything in, just a bunch of straight seams and a comfortable fit. It definitely has a casual feel in this cotton jersey, but I've seen versions online, worked in a dressier fabric and it could definitely go over a pencil skirt and look right at home. I will most definitely sew this one again.

Vogue 8643
Where did I put my martini?

I ended up doing a lot of altering on this piece and I still am not sold on it. I know it's an apron and aprons are just meant to save me from my own clumsy nature, but seriously, there is so much ease that I feel like it just looks sloppy. I think a lot of that would be resolved with ties instead of a button for the back, but I also seem to be lacking a bit in whatever it takes to fill in the top of the garment ::coughboobscough::. Definitely a good learning project even if I won't use the piece all that much.

Butterick 4132

This is another keeper and another pattern I'd be completely happy to sew again. The fabric is stuff I've had in stash since before I met Leo so I have absolutely no idea what it is but it's some sort of jersey with a flocked velvet border print. I had to make some modifications to accomodate the peculiarities of the fabric and if I had my druthers, I'd make it a little longer, and a little less sheer, but I still think I'll get some good mileage out of this piece, regardless.

I have a few weeks before the next deadline project will commence so I'm guessing I'll be sewing quite a bit more before then. At some point, I'd like to take on something a little more advanced, but for now, it's been so much fun cranking out simple little pieces to supplement my meager wardrobe.



What do you do when it's a hot day, you've gone for a long walk with the dogs, your pups need cooling off and your lawn could use a little water?

Yah, that hit the spot


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