Wednesday, December 29, 2010

9 Pairs of Christmas PJ Pants

I didn't start sewing these until December 16th, which is right around the time I started my 13 pairs last year.  Two big differences.  I had 4 less pairs to sew this year, and I didn't have a chiffon wedding dress alteration to do at the same time.  As a result, this year I finished them all by Christmas Eve; I didn't have to drag them out until New Year's like I did last year, or February *cough* like I did the year before.  I'm getting better!

I had to make one pair early for a gift exchange the weekend before Christmas.
Here are the other 8 pairs.  I love the gray camoflauge!  I found that months ago and immediately bought 10 meters.  That's 2.5 meters per pair, for 4 pairs.  And since all those guys are over 6 feet tall (including my brother, who's 6'8"), I had mere inches left over.  
During my last 2 days of sewing, I entertained myself by listening to a book on CD.  I tried this before during wedding season, and I discovered that you can't do anything that requires thinking, or the book will distract you, and you'll make mistakes (ask me how I know).  Thus, PJ pants are perfect.  I didn't have to think about it; it was all repetitive assembly line sewing.  I was impressed that the book kept me enthralled and I sewed for 3 1/2 hours straight the night before Christmas Eve, and I actually had to peel myself away and go to bed.  I'm going to keep that in mind for all my easy sewing jobs!

We had a wonderful Christmas weekend.  I haven't been this relaxed all year.  I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and is about to have a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Black Pencil Skirt for the Christmas Choir - Vogue 8518

 I took my mom's advice and tried a pencil skirt.  Of course, I couldn't just do an easy straight skirt that I could whip up in under 2 hours.  I had to pick Vogue 8518, which Vogue labelled as "easy".  Ha!  I would only wish this pattern upon a beginner if I wanted them to suffer.  I am intermediate/advanced, and I even struggled with a few things.  From start to finish, this skirt took me 9 hours.  It was a labour of love.  Once I saw that it fit really well and was starting to look quite nice, I decided to spend some time making it as nice as I could. 
Vogue 8518
My pattern came in 6-12, and I needed a 16. I checked at Fabricland while the Vogue sale was still on, but apparently this pattern is now out of print. So, I decided to add 4" to the width on just the side seams and approximate the 16. It worked! I'm very impressed with the fit of this skirt.  I made a muslin of the hip yoke, and it was perfect!  The waist is a little tight, but I left it as is and decided to omit the interfacing (you're supposed to interface the entire hip yoke. ugh.).  I wanted it to have a bit of give.  My denim skirt has no give at the waist, and it's a bit uncomfortable.  I guess that's why they make RTW clothing with stretch nowadays.  It's just more comfy.
I learned my lesson from my last skirt and I made sure to try on my skirt at every possible stage.  At this point, I have the skirt and lining sewn to the hip yoke.  Seams aren't pressed or trimmed, and hip yoke lining isn't in yet.  So far, so good!
I didn't have a lot of black lining, and I wanted the hip yoke to have some give, so I decided to have some fun with it and I used a lime green leopard print satin that was very drapey and slinky.  I think it looks sexy and cute.  
And I remembered to attach my label at the right stage.  It's so easy to forget, cuz it's not in the instructions!  I did a really good job here and hand sewed the lining to the zipper, and all the way around the bottom edge of the hip yoke.  I'm really happy with how it looks on the inside.  Almost makes me want to wear it inside out!
Here is how it fit when the skirt was completely finished, except for the hem.  I hadn't opened up the pleat in the front yet either.
Here you can see my crazy swayback.  I had a couple little wrinkles, and it was a bit tight at the waist at the center back, but I didn't bother making any adjustments.  It's pretty darn good for a first try.  If I make this skirt again, I might tweak a few things on the muslin and see what happens.
I like how it sits nice and high at the back.  I love the design of this skirt!
Here it is after the hem has been sewn. 
And a close up of my label.
And, finally, completely finished full-length shot!  I love how this skirt is knee length, but it doesn't look like a granny skirt because of the style and the fit.  This skirt will live happily in my wardrobe for the rest of my life.  I love it!
And we mustn't forget why I had to hurry and make this in the first place. I needed a black skirt and a white shirt for the Christmas Choir. Black skirt, check. White shirt, meh. I don't like this one (it's RTW from when I had to wear business casual for work), but it didn't bother me too much. Next year, I'll make a funky white shirt.
Did I mention I finished it on Saturday night around 9:45?  Hee hee.  Oh well.  I had fun with this one.  I wasn't expecting it to take me 9 hours, but I'm glad I did such a good job on it.  My mom took pictures at church on Sunday, and she had me model it for her.
Can you tell I'm getting excited?  It's almost showtime!
And finally, my big debut as a choral singer.  It was the most fantastic experience!  I'm going to go through withdrawal until Choir practice starts up in January.  And this picture doesn't quite capture how many people are in the choir.  There are 2 full rows behind me, and I believe there are over 30 of us total.  So much fun!!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tree Skirt Finished!

 I finished this last Friday, but we finally got our tree decorations done last night, so here it is!
 For the binding, I used the green batik, as it is my favorite.  I think it adds quite a bit of pizzazz.  I called my mom for some tips on sewing my binding.  She advised me to baste the binding on, but I decided to just pin it, and it worked fine.
 Here is what it looks like under our finally fully decorated tree.  P.S. That angel on top is plastic canvas. My mom made it a looooong time ago.  When I moved out, I begged her to let me have it, cuz I love it so much.  Thanks Mom!
Now that the tree skirt is done, it's on to the next task!  Today I'm making my black skirt for the Christmas choir on Sunday.  Hopefully I'll get it all done today.

Yay for Christmas sewing!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy December! Christmas sewing has begun.

I don't know how I managed to do it, but I deflected all my alterations and other sewing jobs, and I have the entire month of December to myself!  Woo hoo!  I'll still be doing upholstery Monday-Wednesday, as per usual, but my Thursdays and Fridays (and subsequent weekends) are free!  

This was taken last year, and if you'll notice, I'm working on a wedding dress.  It was my first bridal alteration of my new sewing business.  I've done several more since then, but I don't have any this month!
 This was my mountain of PJ pants from last year.  I made 13 pairs!  This year, I'm making 9.  I wish I could show you the flannel for all of them, but I have to keep it a secret!
I've always wanted to make my own tree skirt, and last week I found this super easy quilting pattern and some excellent Christmas batiks at Fabricland.
I wasn't sure how long it would take me, as this is my first patchwork project, but I was pleasantly surprised that it went really fast.  It helps that the pieces are huge, too.
 Here you can see the 4 fabrics I chose.  Aren't they cute?  
 Lots and lots of triangles!  I have to say, I'm loving patchwork quilting.  My mom is a hardcore quilter, so I've been thinking about it for a while.  Last year I attempted a couple Christmas quilts, but they were applique.  I like this better!
 When I sew, I'm slow because I'm so picky.  Quilting is perfect!  I got to be totally anal with every seam, and it was pure heaven.  Sigh.  
 Don't tell my mom that I used pins for every seam!  Well, she'll know now.  (Hi, Mom!)  Hee hee.  I found that pinning everything allowed me to sew faster without fiddling with the edges of the fabric.  I know you're supposed to pin big pieces, but I did the little ones too.  
 This is the top.  Next up, I'll be layering it with batting, and binding the edges.  It will also have a hole in the middle.  I have to finish it quick so we can put up our Christmas tree!  

In addition to the pile of PJ pants, my other projects include a black skirt for the Christmas choir on Dec 12, a vest for my mom (don't worry, she already knows about it!), and a fleece PJ jumpsuit (onesie) for myself *excited!*.  I'm not going to set myself any more goals as of yet.  We'll see how week one goes.  I'm hoping that since I get to do all fun sewing, I'll put in lots of hours, get everything done early, and have time to make myself some new clothes!  But I know how it usually goes, so I'll just stick with my essentials for now.  

I hope everyone has some fun projects planned for Christmas!  Happy December! 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Denim A-line skirt - McCall's 3341

I recently joined a new church, and I quickly realized that I have nothing to wear!  I used to have a whole bunch of A-line skirts made from this pattern, but since I left my careers that required me to wear business casual, I gave away everything I didn't love.  I have 2 skirts left, and they are a size too small, and a few inches too short.  Apparently I was younger a few years ago, and the short length bothers me now.  My old skirts look on me exactly how view E looks on the pattern envelope (the short black one).  And being 5'10" with really long legs, they make me look more like a giraffe than I would like.  I decided to make a new denim skirt using view C, which is the 3rd length.
McCall's 3341
 My old tracing lines indicate that I used to make the size 14.  I can still get my old skirts on in that size, but they ride higher up on my waist.  I decided to cut an 18.  To test the fit, I cut out the facing pieces first, pinned them together, and wrapped them around my waist.  I thought they were okay, so I proceeded with the 18.  I was overconfident in my size choice, and decided against checking the fit part way through.  I think I checked the facing/lining layer, but it was so drapey, it looked fine.  I should point out that the denim I used is quite heavy.  This stuff is thicker than what most of my RTW (ready to wear) jeans are.  Anyways, I should have tried on the denim layer before I put it all together.  I was sure it was going to be fine.  I sewed the waist seam, trimmed it, and topstitched it, and then I finally tried it on.  Waw waw waaaawwww...  It was like a big cardboard tent.  Oops!  It was a full size too big.  
 I had to do a pain in the arse alteration and take in my side seams a full 2".  Why, oh why was I so overconfident?  2 sizes is a big leap.  I should know that by now.  Sigh.  I fixed it up, the subsequent 16 was fine and dandy (still hung like cardboard, though, but at least it kind of fit).  I hemmed it up just above my knee, because I was afraid of making it too short like my old ones.  
 I sewed in my fancy schmancy label.  Isn't it cute?
 I finished the inside nicely by hand-stitching the lining to the zipper.  I knew this skirt was a piece of cardboard by this point, so I just used some orange thread I already had on a needle.  You can't see it anyways!
 The first day I wore it, I discovered that it was a little long.  It kept getting caught up around my knees when I tried getting in and out of vehicles.
 I used to think that making an A-line skirt would give me some much-needed shape in the hips, but it almost hangs more like a rectangle than a straight skirt does.  I consulted my mom and asked her if she thought I should try wearing a semi-circle skirt to give me some shape, but she suggested that I try a pencil skirt first.  I need a black skirt to wear for the Christmas choir in December, so I think I'll make that next.  Hopefully the shape will be more flattering.  
 The second time I wore it, I paired it with my kimono sleeve top, and I decided to hem it up 2" more.  I did this quick and dirty, but it works.  It's much more comfortable at this length, and I intend on wearing it with opaque tights most of the time.  It's still a smidge longer than my old ones, so I'm happy with it.
This is garment #3 for 2010.  It's a much-needed wardrobe staple.  I'll probably get a lot of wear out of this until such time that I make another denim skirt that doesn't hang like cardboard.  I'll take what I can get right now!

Friday, November 19, 2010

New Patterns

Okay, I think it's time I jumped on the bandwagon and throw in a post about new patterns I'm excited about.  Normally, I don't come across stuff that gets me this excited.  My first choice proves that I'm a huge dork.  One-piece pajamas!  OMG!!!  I once drafted myself a jumpsuit because I wanted one so badly.  Perhaps this year, instead of making myself a new pair of PJ pants (along with the 9 pairs I'm making for Christmas gifts), I can make myself a new jumpsuit!  *squeal!*  I can't tell you how excited I am about this!  

McCall's 6251

I'm almost as excited about pattern number 2.  I love anything asymmetrical, and I love really graphic design lines.  This skirt is super awesome.  It reminds me of a top I made many moons ago that had external darts.  This one is way cooler, though.
Butterick 5566
And just for fun, I thought this dress was really cute.  Again, asymmetrical design lines.  
Butterick 5559
And last but not least, I love this vest.  I'm a big fan of vests and anything you can zip up as an extra layer.  I plan on making lots of different types of vests or zippy hoodie shirts, sweaters, and jackets.  This one is kinda dressy, but I love it.  And I don't have much shape in my hips, so the peplum effect would work on me.  I love the design lines on the back.
Vogue 1214
Now all I have to do is wait for each brand name of these patterns to go on sale.  I'm totally making the PJ jumpsuit first, though.  So excited!  I thought they would never come up with a PJ jumpsuit!  Nice to see someone at McCall's has a sense of humour.  Now I just have to keep my eyes peeled for some extremely obnoxious flannel.  Tee hee!  Merry Christmas to me!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Scott's White Shirt & Halloween Costume - Oct 2010

My brother Scott was easy on me for Halloween this year.  We basically up-cycled his costume from last year.  Here's a reminder.  I made him a shirt, pants, and a jacket.
He decided to use the same outfit, but he wanted a new white shirt.  Here's a close up of his shirt from last year.
Out of the whole outfit, the shirt fit him the best.  I made the whole suit from vintage patterns.  
I got all the hard work out of the way last year when I graded this shirt pattern from a 34 chest to a 46.  It fit him perfectly; all I had to do was lower the armhole by an inch.  And of course, I added extra length to the sleeves and hem.  (He's 6'8" - perfect candidate for custom sewing) It has a really nice shape.  It's not just a rectangle, it's slightly tapered at the waist.  Those dudes back in the 70's sure knew how to dress!
I bought some nice white cotton poplin and it sewed up wonderfully.  The printed stuff from last year was quilting cotton.  The poplin was even better, but then again, it's kinda designed for shirts and stuff, isn't it?  The sewing went really well.  I felt like I was flying through everything, but it still took me 6 hours from start to finish.  I liked that I didn't have to measure anything.  It fit perfectly last time, so I didn't have to double check the fit or anything.
I hope you can see how good the fit is.  It looks even better in person.  I don't think I could have done a better job if I had drafted it from scratch.  What a lucky pattern!  I can't wait to make him more.  Except the next ones will have a slightly smaller collar.  Those wing tips go all the way to his shoulders!
Here is the Disco Vampire look he came up with.  The makeup is a little intense, but he informed me that it was exaggerated because he would be in a dark bar all night.  Oh, and I took in his suit a little more this year.  It was a bit boxy.  Now it fits him nice and snug.  Pretty spiffy!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween!

This is the first time since college that my hubby has dressed up for Halloween.  And for myself, it's the first time I've dressed up to actually go out.  I usually just dress up for work.  It was so much fun!  Tyler found a mullet wig, an old hat that said "Tomato Festival '85", and a red plaid flannel coat.  He makes a pretty cute redneck!  And I gotta say, for how obnoxious it was, I was really digging the mullet!
I wore my gypsy costume that I made 6 years ago.  This is the first time I've worn it since that year!  I lent it to my mom a couple times, and to 2 other people.  I didn't like how the vest cuts off at the waist (not flattering on a short-waister like me), but by wearing my corset underneath, I solved that problem.  I tried it with a blonde wig this time, instead of the black one I wore before.  I don't think gypsies are supposed to be blonde, but what the heck, I still looked cute.  
Here are some of my favorite costumes from that night.
Fiona & Shrek
Roman couple
Marie Antoinette
Men's costume contest
It was a really fun night.  I can't wait to make more costumes!  I already have one in the works (started it 3 years ago!), and I really want to finish it.  I also need to make something for Tyler.   
And just for fun, here are a couple pictures I took of a house in our neighbourhood.  They always have this ghoul hanging over their door (the one on the right), but they went all out this year and filled their whole front yard with creatures and scary things.
 I was particularly tickled by this poor lady.  I thought you guys would get a kick out of her too.  
 I don't know about you, but every once in a while, I work so hard on a big project, that I feel like this when I'm done.  Let's remember her and remind ourselves to take it easy!  Sewing is supposed to be fun!
  I hope everyone had fun on Halloween!