Sunday, April 28, 2013

When Good Covers Go Bad

With a mixture of shame, mild amusement and a perverse measure of pride, I give you Exhibit A:

When Good Ironing Board Covers Go Bad

Yes, this is the ironing board where all the magic happens. If I'm working with a particularly special fabric, I might put some paper towels down as a buffer between it and the rust stained splendor that is my cover.

Since my tailor ham and sausage project from a few posts back, I've been feeling a drive to complete a few housekeeping projects.  A new ironing board cover was definitely high on that list.

I used the great tutorial posted by the talented Sunni at A Fashionable Stitch.  I used the same Amy Butler floral print used for my tailor ham and sausage project. The tutorial calls for a layer of cotton quilt batting to be sandwiched between your top fabric and a bottom layer of cotton muslin. Well, all of my muslin is earmarked for other projects, so I just cut two layers of the batting.  In my mind, it made perfect sense.

Ironing Board Frame

I took off the old cover, removed the drawstring, and used it as my pattern.  As you can see, Macy was a big help supervising the entire project.

Ironing Board Cover Pattern

The instructions call for bias tape to be sewn along the edges and used as the casing for elastic.  I used scraps of the floral fabric to create my bias tape, but unfortunately did not have appropriate elastic.  I found some sturdy cotton yarn to use instead.

And now, I give you Exhibit B:

New Ironing Board Cover

No more shame.  The cotton yarn didn't work as well as I had hoped; there are some puckers underneath and the fit is not as tight as I would have liked.  But, from the top I think it looks great and should work well. After a few uses, I may make a few tucks in the bottom to get a better fit, but I'll see how it works out first.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Another Cambie! This One is Wool!

I've finished the third in what will become my Cambie Quartet. (The fourth will be the white floral Cambie that I mentioned here.) I was so excited to photograph and post pictures that I haven't even trimmed all the thread of removed all of the cat fur yet!

Black Wool Cambie

 Black Wool Cambie Back

I have a few minor seam puckering issues in the back, but I feel that I can either steam these out or make a few minor tweaks to the back seam to perfect the fit.

I purchased the wool from Vogue Fabrics. (As always, it was in the remnant section.) I don't exactly know what type of wool it is, maybe wool crepe?  I'll be honest, I wouldn't know wool crepe if it bit me on the ass. I hear it's wonderful and I would really like to work with it, but I've never actually sought it out. This fabric has a nice drape, slightly woven texture, but does not fray (or only very, very minor fraying).

I was all set to cut out and make another Burda pencil skirt with this wool.  The pattern calls for 1 yard, but I had 1 3/4 yards and I didn't want the extra fabric to go to waste! So, I decided a more yardage-appropriate pattern should be used to take advantage of this wonderful fabric.  Cambie to the rescue, yet again.

Production notes: Like all of my Cambies, I cut a size 6 for the top and graded to a size 8 at the hips. I also made my standard swayback and shoulder modifications, mentioned here.

I decided on the "less sweet" straight neck version because I wanted this to be a good business/work event dress.  I also wanted to simplify the straps to make it easier to layer under jackets or cardigans.  Instead of the gathered shell pieces, I used the lining pattern piece for both the shell and lining for a straight strap.

Black Wool Cambie Modified Strap

The lining was wine-colored mystery satin fabric that I've had in my stash since high school.  It's so beautiful and think there must be some silk in the fabric content.  Almost too pretty to use just as a lining, but I like that extra touch of luxury.

Cambie Lining Detail

I also scraped together enough lining fabric to make bias tape for Hong Kong seams on the shell. I was really running low after cutting out the pattern pieces. (Not the best picture, but don't you think the cat fur really makes this shot?)

This dress just screams for a touch of color, and I love the lining fabric.  With the few scraps that I have left, I plan to either purchase a belt kit or try to pull enough scraps together to make a cute sash. 

Cambie - Ideas for Belt

I love that I can style this with so many other pieces. It's a great, simple basic dress to have in my wardrobe.

Black Wool Cambie

(Note 5/19/13: I've since returned to Vogue, and am now proud to say that I know what wool crepe is. This isn't it. I managed to find a very similar bolt of fabric called "novelty wool", if I remember the name correctly.) 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Pork Products

With the exception of those who abstain for religious reasons, who doesn't like pork? Pork products are amazing! With that in mind, why wouldn't I want to bring a touch of it to my sewing:

Tailor Ham and Tailor Sausage

(What would make this 100% better is if I had used bacon or ham-print fabric! Maybe next time.)

You know how it goes - there are a ton of projects I am working on or could be working on, but I wanted to work on something small for the immediate gratification factor. Sewing my own tailor ham and sausage seemed to be the perfect fit.

I had some Amy Butler fabric purchased a few years ago from The Needle Shop, a fabric store in Chicago.  I loved my purchase at the time, but the fabric fell victim to a combination of me choosing the wrong pattern to make (a strange skirt that I was convinced was a different pattern) and choosing a design that I might not actually wear. The half finished skirt and scraps languished in a bag for a couple of years.

I came across this tutorial on Tilly and the Buttons and decided I had to give it a shot. I made both ham and sausage with a double layer of the Amy Butler fabric and some coarse weave "something".  (If you haven't noticed by now, I don't always pay attention to fabric content when shopping.) I can say that it's than finer canvas.  Funny thing is that I purchased it for lining for the failed skirt, purely based on the color.

I chose two layers because my fashion fabric had a bit of stretch that I hoped the bottom layer would stabilize.  I also was using a coarse stuffing and wanted the extra padding to try to hide the bumps.

Tailor Sausage Pattern Pieces

 And the stuffing?


I purchased some hamster/guinea pig bedding a few months ago.  I think it works well, or at least well enough for me.

I really like my new sewing toys, and I think I have enough of the Amy Butler fabric to also replace my ironing board cover.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Buried Treasure

I found the most amazing craft book in my collection the other day called The Complete Book of Handicrafts. I remember purchasing at my mom's church rummage sale a number of years ago, probably for a dollar, and subsequently shoving it on a shelf.

The Complete Book of Handicrafts

There it sat until the other day when I was cleaning out said shelf. I wasn't sure whether or not to keep it because I've never really read or used it. I decided it at least deserved a look over before condemning it to be sold to the half-price book store.

And ... WOW..

The Complete Book of Handicrafts - Interior

Check out that groovy 70's font they're using for the headings.

The Complete Book of Handicrafts - Interior

There are some pretty decent sewing how-tos in this book. I haven't had time to read in yet, but they appear to be more overviews than real in-depth analysis.  But, that's okay since they are trying to cram so many craft projects in one book. There sections that look interesting are the above making your own pattern section, sizing information, how to make button holes and seam finishes to name a few.

But the real winner is this guy:

I Like to Party!

How on earth could I ever get rid of a book that contains this much AWESOMENESS!  I think I had a similar shirt I bought at the thrift store and wore back in high school. (I was going through a 70s retro dressing phase.)

How about you? Have you ever come across buried treasure that you didn't even know you had?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Knit Taffy

I remember reading on a style blog that it's a good practice to "shop" your own closet - try to look at the clothes in your closet the same way you would look at clothes in a store.  I decided I should take that same approach with my fabric stash the other night when trying to decide on my next sewing project. It was fun to rediscover and better appreciate some of the fabric that I have instead of rushing out to buy something new for a project.

I came across a see-through knit print that I purchased from Vogue Fabrics. I actually think this was one of the rare times that I didn't pick up a knit from the remnant section, but the fabric bolt was lurking close by. (Basically, most of my casual wardrobe comes from the Vogue remnant section these days.) I decided a while back that this would be perfect for Colette's Taffy pattern. Sure, the pattern calls for a fine fabric like chiffon, but I'd get way more use out of a knit.

I'm pretty sure that I purchased the Colette Sewing Handbook specifically for the Taffy pattern. Maybe it was the sleeves that caught my attention, or maybe it was the striped bias binding in their sample that made me stand up and take notice. So fluffy, so flirty, so cute.

I cut a size 4 but added a bit of length at the bottom. I didn't measure it, but probably about 1 to 2 inches. In hindsight, I should have gone longer.  I also didn't flip or trace the pattern.  I like to live on the edge and just folded the fabric in half on a diagonal in two corners and cut my piece.  It's knit, it will stretch, and it will be forgiving if not cut exactly on the bias.  I'd obviously be much more careful if making this with a more delicate fabric.

Colette Taffy - Front

I honestly did not even notice that this pattern had a back tie until halfway through sewing.  For me it was all about the sleeves and bias trim.

 Colette Taffy - Back

I used an old, yellow shirt for my bias binding. The shirt has been in my scrap pile forever. I never wore it, but the fabric was too interesting to throw away.  Of course, I probably should have researched the finished dimensions of the 1/2" double fold bias binding called for in the pattern.  Apparently, end ends up being 1/4" wide when folded and sewn.  Ooops!

Colette Taffy - Bias Binding Detail

I also love that the entire shirt has French seams! It did add time to the construction, but I love how the finished garment is so neat professional on the inside.

Colette Taffy - French Seams

And action shots:

The verdict: I like it, but I'm not sure if this shirt is exactly "me".  It's cute on the dress form, but maybe cuter there than on me? But then, I've been saying that about a lot of clothes lately.

If I were to make another, I'd move the ties up so that they would cinch the shirt at my natural waist and I would add more length. I personally like shirts that fall lower, and think they are more flattering on me.  To me, it also has an 80's vibe that I am almost ashamed to say I've been gravitating towards lately.

Never fear, it won't languish in my closet. I'll still wear it with pride and I'm sure the style will grow on me a bit more.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Grey Lace Renfrew

I put aside all of my brand new fabric purchases from Vogue last week and whipped up another Renfrew.

Lace Renfrew

I'm sparing you a picture of my face because this was my first day up and around after having a bad bout of food poisoning, and I'm looking only slightly better than death. The Renfrew however looks great.  I really love how this fabric combo turned out.

The grey jersey is another remnant purchase from Vogue that was used for a Burda tunic last year.  I purchased the black lace to make some Rosy Ladyshorts. Side note: I've made about five pairs of these now and they are amazing. The fit is perfect, and they just look so cute. I'll post some pictures (non-action shots of course) when I make another pair.

Lace Renfrew Back

And here's the back. It's amazing how each Renfrew fits different depending on the fabric and how well I've managed my seam allowances for a particular project. This one was a bit tight around the arms. But post-food poisoning, lighter-weight me did not find it uncomfortable. Gotta look on the bright side of things!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Vogue Remnant Fun

Wow.. it's been a while and I feel like so much has happened!  I just wish that "so much" had included more sewing .  I just need to remember that blog is my hobby and not my job, so I need to cut myself some slack.

I've still managed to keep to my resolution to do one crafty related project per week.  Most of them were mending projects, and not really blog-worthy. I'm trying to take better care of the clothes that I have, including tackling the dreaded mending pile. There were a couple of other projects that will make their way here at a later date.

So... what's been going on.  A little over a week ago, I met up with some amazing Chicago sewing bloggers at Vogue Fabrics! (Check out Sally's blog post at the quirky peach for a great picture of all of us!) It was so much fun and so great to connect with such talented ladies!

Oh Vogue remnant section, I just can't quit you.  I have no will power when it comes to this room.

Vogue Fabric Remnant Haul

Some of these are already marked for projects.  The white mystery fabric will be used for linking my third Cambie. I already have some beautiful floral fabric waiting. The navy pinstripe will be another Burda pencil skirt for work, identical to the one I made in this post.  The roll of lavender jersey called to me because I saw so much of this color in the White House Black Market catalog and had to have some.

The purple print is an amazingly soft polyester that would be perfect for some fancy sleepwear. I could not stop petting this fabric. I think Burda's Jane pattern might be perfect:

Burda Jane Pattern

I spied the pink knit after my remnant haul had been paid and stored in my car. I could not resist the gold threads. Ooohh...Shiny!  Will it be a cowl sweater? A sweater dress? Oh the possibilities.  The picture doesn't do it justice.

Pink Knit

Of course, what do I do with all that new fabric? Put it aside and make something from my stash! I'll post those pictures tomorrow.