Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: in review

Turns out I've done more than I thought -- only counting finished objects, there are 26 to date plus a hefty handful of UFOs in every state imaginable.  Rather than link to everything (my original and hastily discarded plan) I'd like to pull out a few of my favorites.

Without a doubt and without compare, the absolute best-in-show is the turquoise fleece.   I wear it constantly (almost daily) -- despite being the same pattern, the fit is superior to the green one (go figure) and it doesn't show every bit of dirt I encounter (white one -- I'm looking at you).

I have some royal blue that eventually needs to become another -- someday, someday.

Next up is the athletic mesh skirt.    Lately I've been wearing it about once a week - I really like the lines and the length and how it moves when I walk   I don't actually like the material as it picks up stains like you wouldn't believe -- actually -- I don't believe it.  I think it came that way (it was from Jomar after all) and I just didn't notice it as the fabric is all shiny and whatnot.

This too with be duplicated.

Tying for second place, we have the many-colored-dress-awesome.   I wore it weekly over the summer and still pull it out from time to time since the temperatures have dropped.

Actually, it should probably win for second as I've gotten more compliments on this dress than anything else I own.  (Usually from strangers too, which I count as a double win - they have no reason to say anything at all)

It already is a duplicate of the bed-sheet dress, but I have material for a couple more waiting in the wings.

And, the strappy dress -- this one doesn't get as much wear, but its something I'd had floating around in my head for about a year or two and finally made.  

If I ever get around to making a basque (long-line strapless bra supported by the hips) then I'll probably do another one of these.  As it is, my dislike of strapless bras limits the frequency in which I wear it.

  I hardly ever wear the tentacle sleeve jacket - but I'm very proud of it.   Getting all the relief work done for the sleeves was quite the undertaking.

The main problem is that I decided to use magnetic closures.  In theory, this sounds great - stay together unless there is too much stress and then they pop open - the jacket never gets hurt and there are no buttons to interfere with the lines on the front.

In fact, almost any movement will pop it open, and I don't like how it hangs when it isn't closed.   I need to go back and put in snaps or some such instead.

The banana dress only got worn the once, and it may very well never make it out again - but I was pleased with how well it turned out and how closely it matched the idea I had in my head.

The green baby quilt just glowed.   Holding it in real-life it sometimes looked like stained glass.   It was enough to make me what to quilt again (should I try, someone should really restrain me)

Also - all the seams matched.  ALL OF THEM.

And finally, the dwarf helmet.  I've yet to wear it out in public, but its just too much fun.

It also might get me to knit/crochet again -- its been a while.  I made tons of mittens one summer while working at girl scout camp, and I've made several scarfs and a couple of hats but never a sweater.   Its on my life-goals list.   I've got a zillion knitting patterns for snazzy sweaters, but none for crochet.... I should look into this.

Looking back on the blog, it seems my goal in January was to conquer machine-made button holes, which I did with a vengeance on the baby sleep-sack.   Although not at all since...  I was also supposed to clear out the UFOs.  Some I've dealt with, some languish, and several more have come into being.

For this year -- I'd like to actually make a bra.  I have two books on the subject and most of the hardware.  I just need to sit down and do it.

oh - wait - it turns out I had bigger plans on my first blogoversary.  They include a lined jacket (actually in progress and unblogged), shoes (also in progress and unblogged, although those are more Kel than me), a bra (hah), a bathing suit (half done - I need to top part -- hello bra experience) and jeans that fit properly.  I think this last is an ongoing quest for the ages.

And with that, I wish you a happy and healthy new year.  Also, in case you are interested, go sign up for the giveaway.  I know, its only a sheath and in a single size.   I'll dig through for something more interesting at some point soon.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Pattern Give Away!

Happy Almost New Year!   

 I've finally had time to start going through the stash of vintage patterns I got back in October and am doing the give-away I'd mentioned for November.... (yeah. well.  life.)

Anyhow, this is open to everyone everywhere, just leave a comment on this post by January 5th and I'll pick someone at random and send it out.

The pattern in Simplicity 6954 Size 12 - bust 32.   Its been cut out already, but it still has all the pieces and the instructions.  According to the pattern envelope, size 12 is meant to fit bust-32, waist-25, hip-34 (all in inches)

Happy almost 2013!

EDIT:   clearly sheaths are not the thing.  Something else next time.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

dwarf helmet

I may have had a bit of down-time while visiting family the past few days.

Behold... the helmet of glory!  Its rivets of justice!  Its beard of doom and contemplation!     Mighty Dwarf smiths did forge it in the depths of the earth from the purest of iron, quenched in a glacier and be-bearded with a yak.

Either that or I got some yarn and started screwing around.   I'd seen a couple of pictures of  knitted helmets and beards and whatnot and decided to give it a go.   Mine is actually crocheted, as I was in a single needle (hook?) mood and it doesn't use a pattern.   I started with a knob, then started doing an expanding circle until it was about right and did a bit less expansion, for shaping, and then just continued, cylinder style.  (I know, I can't get over the technical accuracy of that one either.)  Anyhow - the rivets are popcorn stitches - the knob is the whole hat in miniature and the shaping of the nasal-guard is totally free-form.

Its hard to see the interior, as the fluff of the beard more or less consumes all things in its path - but the base is just standard double crochet, with a split for the mouth (mustache/beard/awesomeness)  then I took about a zillion (conservative estimate) little pieces of yarn and knotted them on, individually, to the loops in each row of crochet.  For the mustache, I used half-length, in the hopes of still having access to my mouth.

All told it didn't actually take all the long.  I started it Monday afternoon, finished Thursday morning, and in that time also did all sorts of holiday things, plus an exciting plane based adventure in which holding pointy objects was inadvisable. (When the pilot comes on the intercom to say we're taking a detour to avoid tornadoes, well, it adds spice to travel....)  so, lets say about 30 hours.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Odds and Bobs

I really am getting terrible about posting this month -- but there hasn't been much to say.   I've been busy and had no attention span, so I've been flitting from project to project doing small things on each, rather than just sitting down and finishing a garment, making it worth talking about.   However, on the off chance your attention span is as short as mine here are some of the bits that I've been up to...

 Project 1:  Copying my jeans, Kenneth King style.  

I watched  his 'Jean-ius' course a while ago and thought it was fanatic - my only quibble was that he doesn't talk about fitting stretch denim.   Someone asked about it in the forum, and he said that everything is identical, except you need to use the same denim as your muslin in order to get it to work out properly.

All in all, I would recommend the course.

I've gotten through marking up my jeans and tracing them, but not as far as adjustments or a muslin.   I know - giant slacker that is me.

Project 2:   Hand-rolling the hems of my wrap dress

I tried using the rolled-hem foot on my machine, but the fabric is so slippery and thin that it kept twisting every which way and getting sucked into the bobbin feed.

I have the wrap ties all set and am getting ready to finish all the other edges (goal: New Year's Eve)

Project 3: Tinkering with the Jedi Bathrobe

After what seems like months (what has been months) I've finally put a closure in the robe and have been bopping around in it.   It's a standard 26" separating zipper, so I am free to control the level of cozy  supplied by the robe.

Shown here complete with bed-head, grogginess and distraction.

So with that, I wish you a happy winter holiday of your choice (retroactively if yours has already passed, as quite a few are earlier) or better yet, I congratulate you on surviving the Mayan Apocalypse.   Go Team!


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

fruit cozies

Did you know this was a thing?   I can't get over it.   I'm tempted to whip up a bowl for my next party..... *


                                               upon finding apples, I started looking for more....


                                                              et, la pièce de résistance

*I often get the comment "I would have thought that was strange, but then I realized it was you".     This seems somehow in character.

re-imagining V2971 as a dress (part 2)

Can we stop for a moment and discuss the difficulties of photographing shiny material with a direct flash?   The versions I took without ended up overexposed and yellow, so I popped them into black and white -- and its still wonky, but at least you aren't being blinded by the light.

Anyhow- this is the current status of the dress.  I'm actually holing up the skirt, as it still far and away too long, and I've yet to add sleeves, but I think the concept is going to turn out really well.

Its only just basted, so tonight I sew!

What I particularly like about this pattern is that is looks like a wrap dress without the possibility of coming open or catching my breasts in an odd way.  (Wrap under the breast turns into cleavage city, while wrap over always somehow makes me feel about 12.  Not sure why)

(also, 12/12/12, yay for repetitive dates)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

re-imagining V2971 as a dress

I've had V2971 knocking around in my pattern collection for a while now - I really liked the wrapped shirt, but I never made it as I knew that something that ended so close to the natural waist would look terrible on me.    I've always envisioned it as a dress -- but not by connecting the skirt that comes along with it (an odd beast, that) but by having a regular skirt come down and have the wrap bits tie over, just as they are intended.   Every so often I would think about ways to ended the ties, turning it into a sort of wrap dress, but it always seemed like it would (a) come open and start flapping about  (b) be awkward with the under wrap having to come through a hole somewhere and c) take an enormous piece of fabric, as the skirt would be cut on the bias and the center is supposed to be on the fold.

upwrapped version.

 Then the other night, I realized I could use layers.... (obvious in hindsight, but there we go)  If instead of trying to attach the skirt to the side bits, I just doubled the back, extended it into a tunic type thing and popped the wrap front over it.... then everything would work out perfectly.

So, I extended and doubled the back, and whamo, blamo, dresso!  Otherwise everything else about the pattern stayed exactly the same.    Pictures of putting it together tomorrow (battery charging issues....I need battery elves. Actually I could use several elves - I'd be more than happy to make them tiny clothes.)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

I'm doing science and I'm still alive

some context for the title of the post

I am ALLLIIIIIIIIVEEEEEEEEE ALIIIVVVEEEEE   (and also overly dramatic - also mixing genres.  but you know. whatever.)   There actually hasn't been much going on here at the fixation, I just haven't much felt like sewing, and then when I did, it was black on black on black and I needed to wait for a good camera with a proper flash -- but such a beast has arrived!

Look!  couching!    after about three years I finally got my act together and made a choir dress (all black) but I decided it was boring, and as I'd used knit, I pulled out my Alamaba Chanin sewing and design book and learned how to embellish knits.  The idea is you take a piece of something (usually yarn, but in this case a rope of knit) and just sew it onto whatever you're working with, thus creating exciting 3-dness.   


The dress itself is another of the princess slips - but without lace or closure (yay knit!!!) and also currently without a hem or any kind of finishing -- so you can see it when its a bit further along.  (I mean, it's black and it's winter and daylight is scarce.  I'm only going outside in only this once.)  In addition to crazy shit like a hem, I plan to couching all along the hem (hah) area and around the neckline.  Couching-tastic.

In the interest of honesty and full disclosure, this was not in my stash, which means by the rules I have to add three more things to my stash  bust, putting me at 18 total - and I've only done five.   I know.  I think a new rules is I need to stop making up wacky challenges for myself and just have some normal self restraint when it comes to fabric.   But we shall see.

Anyhow, HI!   (also, I have actually been doing science.  also, because Jonathan Coulton is awesome, here is another song) (trust me, keep listening.)

aloha and so forth.  more in the future.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

so very close

Ze quilt -- she is almost finished -- but, she is not.  She sits and waits, forlorn  for me to do the one last piece of binding on the side....and I do not.  [note- all of that should have been read in an overblown french accent]

I'm going to have to do it soon, as I hand it over on Saturday, but its really only about a half an hour of hand stitching - I just need to find the time.  I'm happy with how it came together (and more than a little pleased with myself for getting all the seams the line up properly) (I believed 'chuffed' is the word I've been seeing on the UK blogs)   Anyhow, while the green parts were bought specifically for the project (yes, yes, fabric-fast, but I gave myself a pass on this one as it wasn't for me nor was the material purely to satisfy my undying lust for fabric.) However the white part of the backing and the batting (really a bit of polar fleece) were both from my stash, so I've decided to count this as item 5/15 on my stash-busting countdown.   The really handy thing about using polar fleece as batting is that you don't have to quilt as densely  as it will not fall apart.   I ended up stitching in the ditch around the seven full 9-patches and sewing on the binding through all three layers -- and that was it.   (insert evil laugh here)  

I didn't have enough of any one color of green to do edging or binding, so I pieced them together and ended up with a nice hodge-podge that worked well with the front of the quilt.  All in all I am pleased and am holding myself back from making more.  As content as I am right now, if I were to start to cut out all the bits to make a big one, I would be grumbling inside of mere minutes.  
To anyone celebrating, happy thanksgiving!  to anyone not, happy thursday!

Saturday, November 17, 2012


 It's baby quilt time, here at the fixation, and I have a week to finish it up.   A couple of friends of mine are having their first child and I'm seeing them over Thanksgiving, so basically, this needs to be done by Tuesday.
Quilting seems to be that section of my brain that cannot think clearly.  Whenever I'm not quilting, I think how fun it would be to come up with pretty blocks, what nice gifts they make, but then when actually sitting down to make the damn thing I remember how tedious I find cutting out all the bits.  Piecing isn't so bad - but cutting.  gah.  (Then again, I never like cutting, no matter what I'm making - quilting just has lots of it)

As I quilt *maybe* once a year, I don't have all the snazzy tools, but I did remember hearing about masking tape as guide lines.   The context was actually making bias tape, but it works just as well on the grain an ensures everything is actually the same width.   (In this case, around about 2 inches, I'm not really sure -- but the tape knows, so it all works out- huzzah for intense sloth!)

I'm not sure if this particular pattern has a name - I saw a picture of it at the fabric store and they'd called it 'crumbs' but a bit of research has taught me that is the term quilters use for a scrap-busting its a collection of nine-patches, 3-wide strips and full squares, and as requested, all in green.

Oh, and, no, none of this was in my stash, I gave myself a pass from my challenge on this one.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

watermelon sewing case

I've had a yard of watermelon fabric kicking around my stash for at least a two years now, waiting to be the lining of *something* -- considering how little I used, there are many more somethings in it's future -- but back to the topic at hand.   I decided it might be nice to actually start something from scratch for my stash bust, and I'd been throwing around the idea of a tool taco of my own for a little while now.   Now, add in that I wanted thread to fit and popped in the elastic without really thinking of what this would do to the shape and the fact that I had a fever going to whole time... and we can see that it ended up going a little overboard. However, it works really nicely and will be an excellent travel kit, so horray and huzzah!  Like the original tool taco, this one has a layer of foam between the outer layer (codura) and the inner layer (cotton) for protection.   I also lined the scissor pocket with codura so that I wouldn't be able to push them right through and ruin it first time out.

From the side it looks all nice and even and cute -- but from the top you can see the utter wonkiness.  Not only did I blatantly not measure (fever) I even noticed it was off part way through, and just kind of tugged on it for a minute, expecting it to all work out properly in the end (definitely the fever)

c'est la vie.  (4/15)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

VPLL 1912 - Princess Slip

original pattern
So... it took about three and a half months, but I've finally finished my first VPLL 1912 project.  Its only needed the hem for a month or so, but I'd convinced myself that the white chalk in my hem marker would never show up and was waiting until I had free time with someone who understood how to mark hems.   Silly me.   Dust on fabric, even if it is the same color, can still be seen if there is enough of it.

VPLL Check List:
Pattern: E0336 Princess Slip

Sewer's Skill Level: Experienced

Pattern Rating: 5-Loved it!
I love the fit - I plan to make it again in wool and with sleeves to wear to work, although I imagine I'll skip the lace for that one.  I found the pattern to be very easy to modify to make whatever I wanted and to be a good base for creativity.

What skill level would someone need to sew this pattern?
I'd say a without the lace, probably a beginner - princess seams are pretty easy to work with and one of the simpler things to fit.   With the lace, at least intermediate.   It's a little tricky getting it all set properly and it takes a lot of patience.   I feel it lively a beginner would become frustrated.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
I don't know -- I didn't even look at them.  I'd read though a couple of blog posts others had done on this project and found out how to do insertion lace before I'd even decided to do the slip myself.   After that the whole project was so straightforward I just went with it.   (In all honesty, I rarely bother with the directions no matter what pattern I'm working with.)

How was fit and sizing? Did it correspond to what you thought?
I found that the circumferences at the bust, waist and hips matched mine exactly, so I was really excited and made up a muslin without any alterations -- then I realized that it was designed for a woman about 6 inches shorter than  I am, so everything had to be spread out a bit.   I also had to do a bit of a full bust adjustment.   I ended up taking material out above the bust, in the shoulders and a bit below.  I did a whole post on fitting, which I linked to below. Other than that, which was an easy fix, I thought it was great.

Did you make any pattern alterations?
It doesn't look quite like the original -- I removed a lot of the lace around the neckline and all the pleats at the hem as it was just a bit more fuss than I really like in my clothing.  I also skipped the button placket in the back as I plan to actually use this as a night gown and having to get buttoned up just isn't a practical option.  I also decided that right above the knee was a better length on me and for general summer nightgown use.

The fit alterations have to do with lengthening the pattern to suit my body.  See the link below on fitting the pattern, I did a whole post on the subject.

Other notes:
I still think the neckline is gaping a bit - the more I look at the pictures I took of myself, the more I think I needed to make a stronger FBA up there.

As I mentioned earlier, I really love this pattern-  I think the lines are very flattering and I intend to make it again in several colors and fabrics. For this particular version I used sheer cotton and a somewhat chunky cotton lace.

Previous posts about this project:
 Finding it - Fitting - Insertion Lace 

(and for anyone counting, this is item 3/15 for the great stashbustin' fabric fast)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

grumble and groan

I'm having second thoughts about my coat.   It is all lumpy and odd.    I'm going to keep plugging away, but I am rather less than pleased.  ::grumbles and groans::   and I have a stomach bug.  And my finger hurts.   I know.  ::grumbles more::      (I try to keep non-crafty things off this, but yay Obama! - now back to my grumpy rant)

Think happy coat related thoughts.   The temperature dropped the other day and has been nudging freezing here and there for the past week.

On a totally unrelated note - check out these lamps:

They are from a crazy hotel in Italy which looks like a blast.   Anyone fancy a quick jaunt around the world?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Refashion Fun

once upon a time, at graduation
 A couple of weeks ago I ended up going to a reception for a project Kel has been working on.  I knew it was coming up, but for whatever reason, I thought it was going to be low-key, during the middle of the day and of course, I would not be going.  Silly me.  It was at night and formal - in fact, not just formal, but described to me as everything up to, but not including black tie.   And I only had four days.  In the normal run of things, not such a big deal.  I have a couple of perfectly lovely dresses - one brown and one navy- but it turns out Kel was going to be wearing black.   I know.   And only four days....   Now, I almost never have a reason to dress up, so I haven't bothered doing anything with some of the stunning will-someday-be-formal-wear fabric I have, as I tend to focus on things that will be more practical.. and only four days.   (First world problems, I know, but so terribly terribly frustrating.)

trying it on last month

Anyhow, enter my blue silk dress  (store bought. not me me-made) -- I hadn't worn it since graduating college, and didn't really love it even then.  The fit was just never quite right, although at the time I didn't know what was bothering me   Anyhow, still loved the fabric, and still hated the fit- although by now what was once a trifling annoyance had become unacceptable to wear out of the house ... so I chopped it in half and made a skirt.   I was originally trying to reshape the bust and keep it as a dress -- but that just wasn't going to work out unless I put in a lot more time / patience than I had., chop chop chop!

new waist band
I cut it off right below the empire waist section, which didn't quite work, as the variation between the width of my butt and waist is rather more than had been built into the garment - so - a couple of rear darts, some extra lining to bind the raw edges and a new zipper for when I accidentally pulled the original's pull off and couldn't get it back on, and whamo! new skirt!

all snazzy and wearable

It turned out to be a good thing I didn't have weeks to prepare, as I would have ended up way overdressed.  But lets be honest, who would really care?   Party dresses are fun and people are boring.   Party dresses for everyone!   (Someday in the future.   Still working on practical coats over here.  grumble grumble grumble)

Anyhow, as this took a dead weight out of my closet and turned it into something new, and because I am already tired of this fabric-fast, I am counting this as item two of fifteen.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloweentasticness - At work style

Hi All!  Sorry if I worried anyone -- I just like charts and whatnot, and found Monday's particularly interesting as it was all right on top of me.  I'm fine, I never even lost power.   There are a few downed trees near me, and a few roads are a bit flooded, but all in all Philly did pretty well.   We're a lot further from the coast so there was a lot less flooding than you see along the shore or in NY.   Thanks for the happy thoughts :)

Now, on to Halloween!   Last year, I was the only one to show up in costume, and have spent the past 365 (leap year!) days pestering everyone about it.   I managed to get 2.5 people to dress up with me!   (How to you get half a person?  Take one person who didn't intentionally up, put a lego beind his ear and call him by someone else's name)  So, we have from left to right 'John Doe' (aka the real name of the guy all the way on the right, who habitually wears the lego), a tree, Avatar Korra and Tony Stark.

As most people weren't quite sure if I was in costume or just in an odd dress, I clearly need to go much further next year.   (If I'd had time and finished the arms and legs, I think they would have gotten it.  C'est la vie.  -- but wait, Allison, weren't you stuck inside in a hurricane?  Yes.  but I was tired of this and wanted to do other things.  Oh yeah -- hows the coat.   ..don't ask.  ::mutter mutter grumble grumble::

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane induced sewing

Greetings from the eye!

My coat and I have been in an uneasy truce for a few weeks now.   I would keep my distance and it would taunt me with how much was left to do, but not actually attack me and force me to finish it.    Then came Sandy.   Sandy is a nor'easter with a chewy hurricane center and I am holed up waiting for it to pass, thank you very much.   I've been having fun on the weather sites -- the picture below is a comparison from the WSJ on the relatives sizes of Irene (last year) and Sandy (right now)  (the map is continuous -- you just can't see the East Coast anymore - click on the link and you can play with the maps too!)

Irene vs. Sandy

Anyhow, I'm fine.   (I just like exciting charts and graphics)  I also opened the window, got a bit damp and decided that maybe this would be a good time to finish the coat. It smells like winter.

I'm currently working on the bi-swing back and setting the sleeves properly.  To say the material doesn't want to cooperate with the gathering and easing in would be a laughable understatement of ginormous proportion.  The sleeves mock me.  They get together (behind my back, no less, conspiring with the bi-swing gussets) and talk about their plans to rebel.   

I will vanquish them.

Heck, even if I loose power I will vanquish them.  By candlelight, by flashlight and by the madness burning inside my eyes, I will vanquish them.

Take that sleeves.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bring me a Shubbery!

I ended up running out of time and tiny leaves (there are over 300 - I think getting all my appendages would have taken another 300) for last night's party -- happily I'd done the whole torso, front and back, so we cut off the arms and the legs and bam! it looked finished   The legs were still a little wonky, so Kel started shoving clumps of scraps into his machine over a green ribbon, and we attached them to the legs of the shorts.   It ended up looking like an intentional design feature :P

Worn with brown stockings (I claimed they were my trunks) and a green scarf, it actually worked pretty well.   All the pictures from last night are on other people's cameras (bloger fail, I know) but the glory of the python shall be revealed in due course

EDIT:   this first picture is in - I give you, the galloping shubbery!

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