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Posts Tagged ‘sewing’

Sewing machines and I have a long-standing feud.  I try to sew stuff, they break down almost immediately.  Usually it can be solved by the more knowledgeable owner but on at least one occasion I actually rendered the machine unusable.  Friends in the know have suggested that part of the issue is that pretty much all the machines I’ve used have been thrifted 70s and 80s ones.  While older machines, with their greater proportion of long-lasting metal parts, can be fantastic for a knowledgeable seamstress who has a good relationship with her local repair shop, they’re not great for a novice who has no information to troubleshoot with. 

Recently, though, I found out that my cousin owns a new-ish machine, one that had been in storage and that she was willing to lend me on condition that I learn the mysteries of its working and then share the knowledge.  And having taken a class at The Makehouse – a local organization that not only offers crafting workshops but also space and machines that folks can pay an hourly drop-in rate to use – I was high on craft fumes and totally primed to SEW ALL THE THINGS.

So check this out: I sewed a thing!

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I started with the lined dice bag tutorial from Tally’s Treasury.  Since I specifically wanted a second sock-project-sized bag, I grabbed an already-wound cake of yarn and looked through my cupboards to find a round bowl about the right size.  I traced the bowl to make the bases, then measured its circumference to know how long to make the sides.

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I added a special touch inspired by the project bag I bought from Emma of Emma Knits (formerly the dyer behind Everything Old – side note, you should totally check out her awesome new podcast, which focuses on fibrecrafts but touches on sewing and fashion as well).  One of my favourite things about that bag is its interior pockets – for spare stitch markers, my cellphone, notes on the stitch pattern I’m working, etc.  So I cut a piece of the material I used for the outside, as long as the sides and about 1/3 the height, hemmed it on one side, and sewed it to the inside piece with several vertical seams (I did pin one specifically so it would fit my phone, the rest I placed randomly) before putting the lining together. 

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And the whole time, I didn’t destroy the machine, not even once!  I feel so buoyed by this success I am just itching to get started on the many half-finished or barely-started sewing projects I came across while deciding what fabric to use for this one.  Hope they all turn out this well!

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Well, maybe there’s a little, but the first project I have to report on is a sewing project!

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That right there is a duvet cover!  We received a couple of sheet sets for Christmas, and since we don’t use a top sheet, I thought it would be great to use them to make a coordinating cover.  I sewed it all by hand and it was an epic undertaking!  So much so that I didn’t have the heart to iron it (hence the close-up and no shot of it on the bed – actually, I don’t believe in ironing bedding unless it’s on display in a shop window!  But the sheets are so pretty I think it would almost be worth it…in a few weeks…).  I am starting to enjoy sewing more and more, and it’s great to be able to make things for the household.  As soon as I finish my monthly spinning goals, I have designs on sewing another dress from my Gracefaery pattern set!

Edit: I’ve noticed a number of folks arriving here after searching for how to make a duvet cover from sheets.  How did I do it?  I pinned 2 double flat sheets with wrong sides together, sewed a straight seam around 3 sides and a little ways around the bottom corners, and turned it right side out.  It fits my queen duvet pretty well, although it’s slightly narrower than a storebought queen duvet cover.  Yes, it was that simple! 

Speaking of the monthly spinning goals, here’s where “My Preciousss” stood as of yesterday.

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It’s looking gorgeous, just taking a bit longer than I hoped.  I’ve spun up all 2.5 oz for this month, but I still have a lot of plying to do and only 4 days to do it in…!

I’ve also finished J’s wedding socks, and I think they look fantastic!  I’m anxious to find out if they fit, though – it’s my first time knitting socks for someone I couldn’t try them on as I went, and he & my sister have been busy honeymooning and then loving on their new kitten…ah, wedded bliss!

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Incidentally, I wore a second pair of socks to take this photo – it just seemed wrong to put bare feet in someone else’s socks, but I hate how socks look without feet in them!

And finally, I took on a big project yesterday – tidying up my knitting basket that lives in the living room!  Check it out!

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Current WIP, project bag, design notebook, I even went through all my notions canisters and organized them.  My favourite is this little box which contains my fancy stitch markers:

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I had help, though – while I was going through my knitting basket, winding up little ends of yarn and piling up ball bands and scraps of paper to be recycled, Killira was leaning out of the cat tree trying to play with the yarn…or, since it was out of reach, my hair!

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Yeah, she looks innocent, doesn’t she?  But we know better!

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Happy Halloween

By the time this post goes live I expect it will be November already, but as I start to write it, it’s still Halloween and I’m squeaking my costume post in under the wire.

This year felt a bit like Talloween, since both my costume and G’s were based around Tally’s tutorials from I Could Make That.  First off, my costume:

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I used this tutorial on making a lined hood as a jumping-off point for a Little Red Riding Hood.  The cape I modelled off a raglan sweater I like the fit of…turns out that wasn’t absolutely the best choice as the trapezoid-on-a-rectangle-shaped sections that work so well in hand knitting make for strange corners in a woven fabric, so if I were to make another cape, I’d take the same measurements from a sweater that fits me well, but I’d smooth the pieces out into straight trapezoids.  Got it?  Well, I whipped up a schematic to help a bit.  I’m sure if you’re smart about sewing you already know this (maybe there are even better names for these shapes than the ones I’ve come up with!) but it was news to me.

diagram of raglan-shaped and trapezoid-shaped sections that might be used for sewing something cape-like

The whole thing is lined, and it’s all sewn by hand.  I was working on it on the heels of my epic dolly dress, and if ever an experience made me want to own a (non-broken) sewing machine, it was 3 days of hand-sewing pleats and gathers in miniature followed immediately by 3 more days of sewing what felt like miles of straight seams.  Usually my fingers feel pretty tough, what with all the small-gauge knitting I do, but I sure was ruing my lack of thimble by the time I debuted this costume.

Cape shaping notwithstanding, the hood itself turned out great (thanks, Tally!) although following her pattern did make it fairly shallow, so if you want one with a little more depth I suggest adding maybe an inch along the front, especially if you are using a woven fabric, such as for example a red fitted sheet you picked up at the second hand store for $3, instead of t-shirt jersey material or other knits as in the original tutorial.  This is because the woven material tends to have a little more body/less drape, so my hood doesn’t quite have the same soft fall as Tally’s awesome tiger costume.

Speaking of $3, I made G’s costume for the same low price!  Well, not counting any of the stuff that came out of my stash…

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What are you looking at?  Only the most dastardly serial killer of the panda persuasion!  The sad panda serial killer kills other pandas and then wears their skin for clothes.  He’s sad because he realizes it’s wrong but he knows he won’t stop until he’s caught.  Poor sad panda.  Someone should make a movie.  The sad panda mask was also made from a pattern of Tally’s, although I completely omitted her awesome heat-bond appliqué method.  I can tell you, though, that if you have the supplies on hand, her method would make certain parts of the process a lot easier.  For example, I get the impression that heat-bonded fleece would be able to stand up on its own in the ear department, unlike this faux-fur coat collar I picked up at the Sally Ann which is heavier and less stiff.  But the biggest thing is, you wouldn’t have to finish the eye holes.  I did my best with no-sew glue and ribbon, but by the end of my crafting I very much understood why the heat-bond technique would be a major advantage.

Incidentally, the panda is holding his weapon of choice there.  Yup, it’s a fondue fork.

Happy Halloween…now this salamander needs to crawl into a mud bed before she turns into a pumpkin!

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Monday was the local doll collectors’ group monthly meetup – with a Halloween theme!  We met at a restaurant, so I just brought Rada and didn’t get any good photos in the low light.  Today I got out into the glorious, almost unseasonably warm sun to immortalize this year’s costumes.

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Suzuha is a jellyfish!  I riffed off a toy pattern for a Juvenile Sea Nettle to make a fun hat.

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Rada is Snow White (you can tell by her needle-felted apple), and Posy is one of her dwarven friends.

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Posy’s beard is also gently needle-felted onto her felt mask.  Yes, I like using new skills!

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My hard work sewing definitely paid off, although if I were to make the pinafore again (for mini) I would cut the skirt parts a bit narrower so you could see the dress underneath a bit better.  But I think the overall effect is adorable!

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Sadly, I didn’t have time to make costumes for anybody else this year.  Sewing those long pleats took a lot of time, and of course I’m working on my own costume as well, and hopefully I’ll have pictures of that by the weekend.  Next year I’m starting my Halloween prep in June…

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And so we meet again, Sewing, my old nemesis!  But be warned, this time you cannot prevent me from creating something beautiful from woven fabric, no matter how vilely you struggle!

A while ago I started to suspect that at least some of my sewing misadventures were due, not to my incompetence, but to the imperfection of the free patterns I was using (of course, no pattern can take the blame for my ability to break sewing machines just by looking at them).  For whatever reason, I don’t feel like this is a problem where knitting patterns are concerned – I’ve encountered a few disappointments that were barely worth the zero dollars I paid for them, to be sure, but I’ve known way more patterns that were actually excellent.  Maybe it’s because, especially since the Ravelry-, Etsy-, and Patternfish-supported boom in indie designers, a lot of people who design for yarn think of free patterns as a fantastic advertising tool that lets people try out your design skills and style of pattern writing before they shell out for your pay patterns.  Maybe it’s just because I understand how knitted fabric works in a way I don’t understand woven fabric, so I am both able to evaluate a free pattern before I start knitting it and nix any real stinkers, and also capable of adjusting it as I go if I think something’s not working.  Either way, it was a bit of a revelation to find that, yes, I may have been shooting myself in the foot by sticking only to free sewing patterns (at least for dolls – I think there are some great patterns and recipes out there for people clothes that don’t cost anything, like Tally’s recent tutorials on making a dress from a t-shirt and making a hood for a Halloween costume over at I Could Make That).

See, I had this great idea for a Halloween costume for Rada & Posy.  But it required a dress.  And yeah, I could knit a Box-Opening Day Dress in a suitable colour, but I did that last year!  And anyway, I really wanted more of a Mori Girl feel for this outfit, a feel which is supported by woven-fabric garments.  And I looked around at some of the free patterns I have bookmarked, and the best choice was something I’ve sewn before with so-so results.  So I started looking at pay patterns and ended up on the Gracefaery site.  I shelled out for Seasons For Seola, which is actually designed for the DollsTown Elf body, but comes much closer to the measurements of the DT 7year body than most garments designed for minis (I had been looking at Adams-Harris as well, but all the dresses that looked right were only available for slim mature minis and I knew they would be tough to adjust for my chunky immature girl).  Anyway, it took me two arduous days (torturous, even, when it came to sewing the pleats along the bottom, because, remember, I’m doing this all by hand) but I came up with this amazing piece of work.  Sure, it’s imperfect, but I am in no way embarrassed to show it, unlike many of my other sewing escapades.

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Like I said, there are a few issues (mostly at least kind of hidden) because I did some of the adjustments by guesswork rather than by measurement.  If & when I sew up other patterns from the collection, I will definitely be pulling out my tape measure.  But so many things went really well – the way the neckline and sleeves were made in particular really awed me; they turned out so neat and tidy!

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There’s at least one more piece coming (if you’re following along at home, this is the Spring pattern from the Seasons set, so I have a pinafore to make; I am also planning to make up an apron, and if I have time I may put together a petticoat as well) as well as one or more props, but even if I had to take her to the local Halloween meetup just as she is I’d be super proud of myself.  Have to get that fancy wig out and give the bangs a trim, though, because as cute as she is in this wig my vision for the costume includes cascading ringlets.  Ooh, I’m so excited!

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