When teachers get together, we just can’t help ourselves…

… we teach! So, when my favorite partner-in-crime and fellow teacher, M, enjoyed a visit from her younger sister this summer, we decided to teach her how to sew. We pulled out the shears and threads and had a girly day of garment making.

M mugging for the camera

M mugging for the camera

Her sister, A,  is a high school student, but holds her own really well with us… err… mature ladies. While we sewed, we drank lots of tea and took a pizza break.

A has some sewing experience. As a drama student at her high school involved with the school’s theatrical productions, A was familiar with using sewing machines for costumes and props, but had never attempted to make something she could wear off of the stage. M took her to our local JoAnn’s before heading to my place to select a pattern and some fabric. Here’s what they purchased:

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A wanted to try view E and selected some sparkly knit fabric.

M helping with some seam ripping

M helping with some seam ripping

A took to the sewing machine like a fish to water. We were impressed- no need to practice sewing straight lines. She worked that knit like a pro!

A showing off her inherent sewing skills

A showing off her inherent sewing skills

While A learned how to read a pattern and construct a garment, I learned something new, too. The pattern calls for a bias tape finish at the hems. I usually just turn my knit hems with stay tape, but M showed us both how to do a knit hem with regular old bias tape. It wouldn’t work on a hem that needs to stretch, but for the top part of this shirt, it was perfect.

IMG_1254I think the process took a lot longer than A expected, but she stuck with it. Here’s the final result:

A in her finished top

A in her finished top

Fabulous, right?! The darker spots on the top are due to my apartment’s bad evening lighting. The differences in tone are very gradual in person.

I was reminded of why I love to sew when she put on the top and it fit perfectly. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of the thrill of making (or in this case helping to make) something that is a perfect fit. A did a neat job. No one would know it’s not ready-to-wear. She seemed very pleased and started wearing it immediately (obviously).

M and I both agree the pattern isn’t really written for beginners. I’m not sure A could have pulled this off on her own. I’m certain I couldn’t have done it a year ago when I started sewing. It’s not terribly complicated, but there were a few bits of the construction we had to stop and wrap our heads around.  Overall, it is a great summer pattern and comes together pretty quickly if you have a little experience under your belt.

I would love to repeat this next summer, but now that I’ve moved, it won’t be happening unless I head back south for a vacation, too. Actually, that doesn’t sound like a bad excuse for a visit…

 

Sewing amid chaos

Things have been quiet around the blog because life is happening in a big way.

First, this occurred..

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Then I moved here…

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The move was immediately followed by a brief hospital stay for my fiance. (Luckily, he’s fine now.)

Then, my soon-to-be sister-in-law broke her ankle. I stayed with her for a few days post-surgery.

Now, that everyone is on the mend, I am trying to plan our wedding. It is not going well…

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If eloping wouldn’t cause massive family drama, I would do it in a heart-beat.

In the midst of all of this, I am supposed to be writing my dissertation. Ummm… yeah

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Sewing and knitting  are the only activities keeping me sort-of sane.

Right before I moved, I finished my first vintage pattern!

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I went with view 3 and omitted the pocket.

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The pattern was straight-forward and I loved the little check boxes on the direction sheets. Although the pattern claimed to be a teaching pattern, it assumes the sewer has some basic garment construction skills. I wouldn’t recommend it for someone who’s never sewn before.

I used a cotton poplin I purchased recently on sale at Joann’s. I like the crispness of the cotton and the summery pattern, but I wish I had tried to match up the diamonds at the zipper. If I make it again, I’ll attempt back pattern matching and I’ll probably lower the neck by a few inches. It’s a little bit too high to be really comfortable. I also took in the side seams by an inch or so and raised the bust darts (I usually have to make this alteration). Maybe a size smaller would have been a better place to start?

I’ve worn it a few times, but it’s getting too cold in DC for such a summery top. It was in the 50s today! Gah! How is this Florida girl going to survive?!

While my fiance was in the recouping in the hospital, I knit a sweater. I’ll post photos later when it’s light out. I’m not thrilled with the result, but it’ll work. Obviously, I’m going to need it and many more. I need to get the knitting needles clicking!

My current sewing project is on hold while I wait for the knit interfacing I ordered to arrive. I’m working on my first fall wardrobe item, a knit sweater:

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It’s another Big 4 pattern that I picked up for a $1 at Joann’s. I’m working on view E. My version will not have contrast trim or pockets. I want something simple and need some more cardigans for fall weather. Seasonal sewing… a new concept for me!

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!

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?…

Now, I just need to learn how to cook…

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A very girly apron happened this weekend.

I used this pattern, Simplicity 1934:

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Simplicity patterns were on sale at Joann’s for $1.99 last week, so I decided to give this one a go. I created version C. I thought the ruffles were adorable. I didn’t really need an apron, but I decided it would make a fun weekend project. I also figured it was a low risk garment on which I could practice gathering fabric and sewing ruffles. It was the first time I had done either.

The ruffles on the pockets turned out pretty well.

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The waist band gathering was also pretty easy, but the neck ruffle was a bit tricker than I’d anticipated. My sewing is a bit wobbly. You can’t really tell from the apron front.

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Okay- you can tell a little, but would you have noticed if I hadn’t said anything?

The back is a hot mess:

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It’s all over the place…

If you don’t look too close, I think the finished project is cute.

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I had enough fabric left over to create a second, simpler apron for a friend who just bought a house. It’s a little kitch for her new kitchen.  I kept this one really simple and I think the end result is very professional.

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For this one I borrowed a friend’s pattern, Simplicity 2011. The entire apron is one huge pocket and the exposed cupcake fabric are holes to reach your hands in. I would have loved to do the waistband in the pink fabric as well, but I ran out. She’s not as comfortable in loud prints and bright colors as I am, so this may have  all worked out for the best.

My sewing machine was humming with apron making this weekend. Now, I just need to learn how to cook!