Saturday, January 23, 2016

A TNT "Tea" Tee

This month's Monthly Stitch theme is "Cheers for New Years!" -- making anything inspired by your favourite drink.  While I had initially thought about doing something a little more flashy -- hmm, maybe a martini-inspired cocktail frock, or perhaps a hot chocolate inspired sweater knit tunic -- I found this immensely soft piece of fabric on the sale table and snapped it up.

Well, my actual favourite drink is tea, all kinds of tea, at all times of day. And this print looks like tea leaves, or tea bags, in every colour of tea, Assam, Darjeeling, Green, Oolong or White. Perfect!
And I even have a "Matcha-ing" sweater! :)

Since there was only just a yard in this remnant, I went with one of my only TNT patterns, Kwik Sew 3559. I love this pattern. While it's a dress pattern, I've only used it to make t-shirts, 3 in total now. I'm already looking at the next one, and planning on cutting the neckline a little higher. I'd forgotten that with a light and thin stretchy knit the neckline scoops a little lower when you are wearing it. The second version from a heavier knit doesn't have the same effect.
first version
second version

It's a quick and easy pattern, with only three pieces if you don't make a facing for the neckline as called for in the pattern. I just turned under & stitched, but am thinking about a contrast neck binding next time for variety.

It's a soft, lightweight tunic that it forgiving to the figure and in its short-sleeved version especially, it sits nicely under a sweater or jacket. I never blogged my second make, and don't have too much new to say about the construction details this time either. Read the original review if you would like my first thoughts on it -- my current thoughts are just that the type of knit that you use really affects the way the final product fits. Again, a softer and more stretchy knit will, not surprisingly, stretch a bit when you wear it. So be aware of necklines and shoulder widths; mine both need to be adjusted a little, which I will remember to do next time round!

I took these photos at my local tea shop, Distinctly Tea, run by a mother & daughter team of tea sommeliers. They are wonderful; friendly and knowledgeable, and they've partnered with me for the last two years to produce an Evergreen tea which supports both the Evergreen Award (a provincial reading program) and my local library. What goes better together than tea and books, after all? PS - this tea can be shipped to the US, and with our exchange rate, it's a steal! Just saying :)

Hope you've enjoyed this little tea break with me.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

A Very Purple Person

Stretch & Sew "Cowl Neck Blouson #305"

I finished a dress! Yes, the first make of the New Year. I've been slow at getting back to my sewing after the holiday break, so I'm glad I had such a good pattern to start with.

I came across this vintage Stretch and Sew pattern in my thrift store travels, and thought it actually looked quite modern. Since I also found a couple of metres of knit which combined an oversize houndstooth print and a purple colourway, two of my favourite things, I thought I'd buy them both and use them together.

I wasn't familiar with Stretch and Sew patterns previously, so did a little research (I am a librarian, after all!) I discovered that Ann Person was a very successful businesswoman ahead of her time. I've included some other links at the bottom of this post if you'd like to learn more about her.

Catching some natural light at lunchtime on this snowy day

This pattern was printed very efficiently: double sided on one sheet of paper. You trace the size you need and add any length on that you need to change top to dress -- it was suggested that you add 25 inches to the bottom of the bodice piece for the skirt, but I took an inch out as I am short. I left enough length for a deeper hem, to keep the skirt falling nicely. And in the end I left the hem just below the knee as I thought it looked really good with this style.

While making it, I was thinking that it would just be a nice cozy winter dress, and since it was made from thrifted fabric I wasn't overly worried about how it was going to turn out. But when I tried it on once it was nearly! I absolutely love it!

I'm really delighted with the fit and the shaping on this dress. I felt extremely comfortable and natural in it right away, and I love the elegance of it as well, something I hadn't expected it to have. The drafting is interesting, nothing too elaborate really, with the same piece for front and back. I did use the cuffed sleeves from View B instead of the elasticated ones from the dress view, to modernize the look a little bit.

The only change I'd make next time would be to add a bit more length in the bodice -- I took 2 inches out but I'd put 1/2 inch back in the front bodice only. The cowl is a bit different from others I've made; it has four darts in it , which gives it some nice shaping -- it falls much more evenly and doesn't slither around when you're wearing it. That could have to do with my knit though - it the fabric was a bit more slippery it still might slide around. Mine doesn't though.

Caught brushing all the snow off after these photos!
I did make a couple of changes, beside the basic fitting ones. I added side seam pockets -- I made sure that the top of the pockets were pinned toward the front of the dress and stitched the top 1/4 inch into the elastic casing to keep them in place. I also moved the casing up about 1/2 inch above the pattern markings to suit my waistline. This took me about 3 hours to sew after I'd cut it out. I enjoyed the sewing process and am really pleased with this quick and rather random project!


A wonderful obituary of Ann Person, who died at 90 years old, in August of 2015.

A little more about her, and a nice piece at Threads celebrating her life, with photos -- there's also a link to an article about sewing with knits that Person wrote for Threads in the past.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

And when I'm not sewing...

I haven't finished any of my garment projects that I have planned for January. I've been distracted a little bit by some other sewing related yet not-actually-sewing things.

I've been working at my large embroidery project, something I can do while watching movies -- which I did a lot more of than usual over my holiday break. So I discovered that it is kind of nice to have an embroidery 'sketch book' so to speak; I traced some of the flower motifs from the big project on to some scrap cotton, and popped it into a small embroidery hoop to test out some stitches and see which ones I liked best for the various flowers. This is a free-form project that I'm just making up as I go along, and I found that using this small hoop lets me see how things will look and how to combine stitches. Sometimes you've just got to learn by doing.

I've also been reading a lot, both fiction for work and for pleasure, and a whole whack of craft books that I bought from a discount outlet, as a kind of late Christmas gift to myself. There are some sewing books, some embroidery books, and one odd little tatting book -- that's a skill I want to learn someday, I've even bought a Craftsy class on the topic. Oh, for more time!

And of course I've still been checking out the thrift stores, and came across this lovely piece of fabric still labelled with its New York provenance. I bought nearly 3 yards for $1.50. Lucked out on the textile sale day! I think this will help me fulfill my goal of sewing something for my husband this year. It looks like a waistcoat to me... Any other ideas?

I hope you're all having fun with your 2016 sewing too, whether it's actually stitching or just dreaming of it!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Ladybug Infinity Scarf: A Tutorial & A Giveaway

I made myself an infinity scarf before Christmas, so that I could use a super cute fabric I'd found. When I shared it, Beth in AL asked if I could share how I'd made it. Even though there are tons of methods for infinity scarves online, here is a tutorial on how I made mine. The fabric I used is a thin but fairly non-stretchy knit, which isn't very soft or drapey. If you used a finer, soft knit it wouldn't have so much body but it would be squishier. So pick what you like best!

Start with a piece of 60" wide fabric, cut to 18". You don't have to be precise, just try to get it around 18" and cut as straight as possible but don't get frantic about it. This project works with the freehand style that I like to follow with quick projects!

Trim off any unsightly selvedge edges.

Fold the entire width right sides together, and stitch along the long edge, leaving both short edges open. You can use a zigzag stitch or a straight stitch, or a serger if you have one, for neatness.

I sewed my seam at about 1/2 inch. I didn't bother with pins, as my fabric was stable and was easy to hold together at the seamline evenly. If yours is slippery or stretchier, you might want to put in a few pins to keep it from getting too uneven as you sew.

Because I was cutting and trimming the original piece pretty casually, when I got the long ends sewn, the short edges were uneven. No problem, just trim them so they're nice and straight.

At this point you can press the seam if you like; it makes it sit nicely. I didn't bother finishing my seams because a)knit, so no unravelling and b) it'll be on the inside.

Now you'll turn the tube right side out. Look at the ends -- you could sew them together by folding one edge under and tucking the loose edge inside and sewing straight across -- but I don't like that method as it anchors both sides of the the seam flat. I like my infinity scarf to be a fully open ring of fabric that can fluff up properly.

You could also sew the ends together with the seams lined up...

...but to give the scarf that little bit of extra oomph, I like to twist the ends and sew the seams opposite to one another; that gives the scarf a little bit of lift when you wear it, with a twist built in.

So, take one end at the point opposite the seam.

Place it right sides together against the seam on the other end. You might want to pin this spot for starters. I don't like to use pins while sewing this part though, as the seam gets pretty twisty and pins just aren't that useful. Use your fingers to hold and direct the fabric instead.

This is the confusing part. The ends will be sewn in the round, and it feels pretty odd. Just start your seam a little above your pinned mark, as it's easier in the end to handstitch the remaining opening closed if you don't have extra seam allowances to worry about as well.

I sew this seam at about 1/4". The key thing to remember is to just keep sewing, and to make sure that you only have 2 layers of fabric under your needle. Don't get the other side of the fabric caught up as you keep turning your scarf ends.

Sew slowly for as far as you can -- the closer you can get to your starting point, the less you'll have to handstitch closed at the end. Unless of course you like handsewing, in which case, don't worry about getting really close.

When you take it off the machine, it looks like a mess. You may be asking yourself "what am I looking at?"

But just carefully turn the seam and it pops right into place with the insides inside and the right side facing out. Then you have to close that small opening that remains.

 I've tried machine stitching close to the folded edges before, and it works but it doesn't look as neat as hand stitching. Depends what you want to do.

Anyhow, that's it. Then just put it on, give it a loop, and fluff up the fabric a bit. Perfection!

Special news:

To celebrate making another ladybug scarf for this tutorial, I'm going to give it away! If you're interested in wearing this loopy scarf, leave a comment here telling me why. This giveaway is open to anyone worldwide.

This is a short-term giveaway -- entries will be accepted until 5 pm EST on January 7th, 2016 (Christmas on the Julian calendar).  At which time I will draw a name from all the entries and give it away as a Ukrainian Christmas gift! Thank goodness I get to celebrate twice :) 

Worldwide entries will be accepted -- just make sure I have some way of getting in touch with you in case you win, whether it's already in your blog profile or left in a comment if it's not.

Sorry for the delay in posting the winner of this draw. I wanted to be sure of my supplies, so I could do this...

Since there were only four entries for this scarf, and I have another yard of ladybug fabric to use up, I get to do an Oprah -- YOU get a scarf, and YOU get a scarf, EVERYBODY gets a scarf!!

Seriously -- Anne, R Trittel, Annie, & Kim -- send me your mailing deets & I'll get your ladybugs flying away home as soon as I can :)