Baja Hoodies & a summer chevron tote

Wahoo! This is my first blog post as a doctoral candidate. Things have been quiet around this blog because I’ve been studying (and seriously stressing) over my doctoral qualifying exams and exam defense. After several panic attacks, nonsensical threats to my boyfriend that I was going to quit the program, and HOURS of studying, I passed my exams and defense. Now I just have to write my dissertation…

Although I haven’t been blogging, I have found some time to sew. Below are my latest projects: two Baja Hoodies and a summer chevron tote.

Baja Hoodies

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My niece and nephew turned three this month and I wanted to make them something cute for summer. After a bit of searching, I discovered many adorable little girl patterns both from indi designers and the big 4. Unfortunately, little boy patterns are not so plentiful and not nearly as cute. I was getting really discouraged when I discovered Blank Slate Patterns. Yay! Cuteness for little boys!

I purchased the Baja Hoodie pattern. A unisex pattern with simple construction, I envision the kiddos heading home from swim class in their coordinating hoodies.

The pattern is a downloadable pdf and has really clear instructions with photos to help you out along the way. This was my first time using bias tape and the photo instructions demystified the process. The pattern is considered intermediate due to the use of terrycloth. I agree this is not a good beginner project (unless you substitute cotton for terrycloth). Terrycloth fuzz covered my apartment (and my cat!) while I worked on these. In addition to making a mess, terrycloth is bulky and was tricky to work with. The fabric was too thick for me to use my walking foot, so sewing layers together was more difficult than it might otherwise have been. Many of my stitches across the bias tape aren’t as straight as I would like due to terrycloth misbehavior. Luckily, I doubt the kiddos will mind.

Front view- For the little man.

Front view- For the little man.

Back view

Back view

Front view- For the little lady.

Front view- For the little lady.

My favorite part of these hoodies is the label. I found these in a local knitting shop and couldn’t help myself. How cute are they?!

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Overall, I’m pleased with how they turned out. I don’t, however, think I will use terrycloth again for quite a while.

Chevron Tote bag

I’ve been using my monogram tote bag a lot this summer. It’s the perfect size for all my stuff (laptop, power cord, wallet, book or two, etc.). It has taken the wear in stride and still looks great, so I’ve been toying with making a second one in a more summery fabric.

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The pattern for the bag- New Look 0126

I found a great bold black and white chevron canvas print at Michael’s last week and couldn’t resist making the purchase. It appears Michael’s is stocking a very limited selection of sewing notions now. My local store has a wall of quilting rulers and rotary cutters in addition to a very limited selection of precut fabric. The canvas I purchased is sold in bundles precut to a yard for about $10. This isn’t a bad price for canvas and, with a 40% off coupon, was a pretty good deal. I then picked up some red ribbon, webbing, and lining fabric at JoAnn’s.

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The finished bag

Lining- red polka dot quilting cotton

Lining- red polka dot quilting cotton

This was a quick and satisfying make. I can’t wait to load it up with my stuff and head off to my “office” (aka. Starbucks around the corner) to work on my dissertation proposal!

Summer bag and little sailboats

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As my exams loom closer (ohmygodohmygodohmygod..) I haven’t been sleeping well, so I’ve been crocheting in the wee hours of the morning. These sleepless nights have resulted in a new summer purse. The terrible photo above was taken on a rare day when I stopped studying, got out of yoga pants, and ventured into public.

The bag pattern is a free Ravelry download, Summer Sling Tote. It worked up bigger than I thought it would, which is good. I was worried it would be too small. There is enough room in it for all my essentials plus a book and my laptop’s power cord- perfect!

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The bag took me about a week and a half to crochet and line. According to Ravelry, more experienced crocheters get it done in just a few days. It’s a great first pattern, just double crochet after double crochet with some slip stitches to attach the handle. I had a tough time with gauge on the handle. I kept making my initial chain too tight and it took me three tries before I was happy with the result.

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The completed bag before the lining was inserted

 

Fellow Ravelry-ers (is that a word?) reported having a tough time with the lining, but I didn’t have any problems.

I used some cotton poplin I had left over from a disastrous skirt attempt (I’ll blog about that later…).  I think it’s so cute with the waves and pink sailboats!

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First, I fused the fabric with a mid-weight interfacing. I didn’t want the bag to flop and sag when I wore it. I like the stitch pattern and I want to show it off. I sewed in the lining by hand and was semi-successful matching up the waves at sides of the lining.

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The interfacing did the trick. The bag stays nice and round even with all my stuff in it. Here’s a side view:

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I am pleased as punch with my new summer tote and reactions to it are keeping me entertained. My mother was impressed and is claiming my crochet skills are hereditary (Mom hasn’t crocheted anything in 30 years…). My friends are giving me incredulous looks when I tell them I didn’t buy my bag- I made it. I think a few don’t believe me!

I have a little less than two weeks until my test, so I guess I’ll need another insomnia project… hmmm… What should I make next?

 

The ‘existential crisis tunic’

Wait… where did May go?!

I started off this month in San Francisco at a conference. I wore me-made on the plane home and did a solid job of wearing me-made items twice a week (I didn’t do a good job of taking photos). I even managed to make four new garments this month: gingham bow blouse, a yoga-style maxi skirt (unblogged), a red sleeveless knit top (unblogged), and the existential crisis tunic (below). I also finished knitting a scarf for my boyfriend

Scarf for my guy

Scarf for my guy (Man Scarf on Ravelry)

and made three little crochet baskets.

crochet basket (Pattern on Raverly)

crochet basket (Pattern on Raverly)

I haven’t blogged much because I have been prepping for my qualifying exams (the super terrifying mutli-day test I have to survive before I can start on my dissertation). By the time I finish studying each day, I need a crafty break, but I have no desire to read or write. As a result, I’ve been ignoring the blog a bit this month. My test is the last week in June and I can’t wait for life to get back to normal. My brain is starting to hurt…

Sewing, knitting, and crocheting have provided me with a respite from all the studying. My latest sewing project was made from this fabric:

wild tribal challis from JoAnn's

wild tribal challis from JoAnn’s

Nope, there is nothing wrong with your computer… it is bright and wild! This is not normally something that would catch my eye. (I’m blaming this purchase on exam stress.) It has a lovely drape, was 50% off the sale price, and is unapologetically loud.

I decided immediately it wanted to be a tunic, so I attempted Simplicity 4149 again.

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I made this pattern once before in a gorgeous shimmery linen, but the garment was a flop.

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The linen was too stiff. It was uncomfortable and made me look like a box. Making matters worse, the first time I washed it, the seam at the ‘V’ in the front of the tunic started to pull away and fray.

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You can’t really tell in this photo, but the bottom of the ‘V’ is fraying on the left side. Gah!

Disaster.

So, this was a second attempt. I worked on it for a little bit each night for about a week. It’s an easy make, but this was my first time working with challis. It’s slippery and has a bit of stretch. I’m sure with some practice this will be no big deal; however, my first few seams were wavy. My seam ripper got a workout. I ended up with this:

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topstitching around the neck in turquoise. It looks wavy here, but really is straight.

Topstitching around the neck in turquoise thread. It looks wavy here, but really is straight.

It’s super comfy. I was bummed that the ‘V’ is a bit too low to wear out in public without a cami underneath, but otherwise, I like the fit- flowing and comfortable. I think it will make a nice cover-up poolside as well as a top for running around on weekends.

I’m particularly proud of the detail I managed at the ‘V.’ I just wish it didn’t get lost in the print:

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I’m calling this my ‘existential crisis tunic’ because I finished it on a day when I was not coping well with exam stress. After throwing myself a pity-party, I decided to channel my freaking out into something productive and finished this tunic.

I’m not sure what I’ll work on next. My sewing production has ground to a halt since finishing this tunic- too much studying to do. After the exams, I have a few days of nothing but sewing and mindless television watching planned. I’m soooo looking forward to it!

Gingham wrap blouse

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I love a bow.

My boyfriend has hidden things with bows from me when we go shopping. He thinks I am irrationally drawn to items adorned with bows. He’s right! I don’t think my style is super girly, but I love a bow.

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The above is McCalls M6564.

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I used a cotton blend I picked up on sale at my local Hancock Fabric store. The word “easy” is missing from the pattern envelope, so initially I was worried the make might be too complicated for my current skill level. It wasn’t. The directions were clear and uncomplicated. The pattern fit perfectly as written, so no fitting adjustments were made. I did add a snap to the front neckline. While trying it on during sewing, I noticed it gaped a bit across the chest when I moved around. I also gathered the tops of the sleeves to create a little poof. This wasn’t my original plan. I couldn’t get the sleeves to ease in without puckers, so I decided to gather the tops in order to make them fit. Luckily, I like the result.

During the make, I made two rookie sewing blunders. First, I sewed a dart inside out.

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Then, I basted in a sleeve inside out.

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Oh well… I’m still learning and I like the end result.

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San Francisco and the beginnings of Me-Made-May

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A street car in San Francisco.

Last night I returned from a conference in San Francisco. The weeks leading up to my trip were crazy busy with the end of the semester and a mad push to finish my conference paper. Despite the intensity of preparation, my presentation was pretty low-key and the trip was filled with equal parts work and pleasure. My boyfriend tagged along, which made the trip a bit of a vacation.

Trip Highlights~

The food was amazing.

Best crap EVER at Crustacean.

Best crap EVER at Crustacean.

Alcatraz exceded my expectations. The audio tour is narrated by former guards and prisoners. Hearing about the escape attempts was fascinating and the island is actually quite pretty and lush with vegetation.

On the boat to Alctraz.

On the boat to Alctraz.

The view as the boat lands on the island.

The view as the boat lands on the island.

Inside of a prison cell. Note the crochet!

Inside of a prison cell. Note the crochet!

Close up of crochet in Alcatraz cell. Apparently, this was a common hobby among inmates.

Close-up of crochet in Alcatraz cell. Apparently, this was a common hobby among inmates.

We spend a wonderful afternoon in Napa and are now wine club members at Artesa Winery. The wines were fantastic. We barely took photos- we were too preoccupied with wine!

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Touring the city and vineyards wore out my boyfriend, so while he napped in the hotel one afternoon, I went in search of Britex, the famous San Francisco fabric store. Luckily, it was only two blocks from our hotel. They don’t allow pictures in the store, so I’ll just share my spoils.

My goal at Britex was to purchase a boldly printed knit for a maxi dress, but I was disappointed. The knit selection was decent, but my favorite prints were really expensive. After my massive purchases at Jo-Ann’s this past month during which nothing cost me over $6 a yard, I balked at paying $45 a yard. I just couldn’t do it. I purchased only one piece of fabric, 2.5 yards of a dusty blue knit. It was reasonably priced and I love the color.

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My favorite part of the store was third floor with all the patterns. They stock things I can’t find in Jo-Ann’s. First, I picked up the Colette Patterns’ Beignet. I’ve been stalking this pattern for a while. I have some denim left over from my Miette that I think may work well. IMG_0857

Second, I found my pattern for The Great Gatsby Sewing Challenge! I’m not sure what fabric to use… maybe a double knit? Despite its origination in the 1920s, I think it will look fresh and modern over a T-shirt and leggings.

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Last, Britex stocks Burda! Both current and select past months were available. I picked up the January and April issues.
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IMG_0855I’m thrilled with my purchases and can’t wait to start sewing. I just wish I didn’t have a stack of student assignments to grade…

Me-Made-May, Day 1

On May 1, I wore my green knit jacket on the plane home. Unfortunately, I don’t have photographic evidence. You all will just have to believe me. It was perfect plane apparel, comfortable and warm!

My first vintage pattern!

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Look what arrived in my mailbox today!

I’m so excited! This is my first vintage pattern, Simplicity 4676. I discovered the pattern on Lauren’s blog. Her make is gorgeous and I want one, too!

After some hunting, I found it in Tina’s online store.

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I’m always nervous ordering online from someone for the first time, but this was a pleasant experience. Tina emailed right away that she had received my order and was shipping it out. The pattern arrived wrapped carefully in plastic and is as advertised.

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I think I’m going to attempt view A.

Joann’s has 50% off of sale fabrics and I now officially have what sewing bloggers refer to as a “stash.” I totally lost control and filled my cart with linens, knits, cotton blends, and satins. I picked up 11 different fabrics. The most expensive was $5 a yard (a tribal print challis) and the cheapest (a wine colored cotton knit) was only $2.50 a yard! My fabric store purchases will now consist of only notions until I get some of this sewn up. I’m so looking forward to making up the garments I’ve planned for all of this beautiful fabric!

I picked up this beauty today for $3 a yard and I think  it will make a perfect bow blouse. It’s a lightweight (but not see-through) cotton. I’m generally not a big fan of pastels or purple, but I really like this anyway.

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I’m a little worried about the pattern’s fit. According to the body measurements on the envelope, I am a perfect size 16. In the modern patterns I’ve made up thus far, I’ve been taking a size or two down because there is so much ease. They look sloppy in the “correct” size. I wonder if this will be a problem with vintage patterns. Should I have ordered a 14 instead?…