Saturday, April 28, 2012

pj party time

Whew, making it by the skin of my teeth here-it's still April 28th on the left coast!  I tried to take photos this morning before work, at 6:00 AM mind you, and needless to say, they were terrible.  Who's up that early anyway, gross.  Got home this evening and gladly put them back on for my pictures :-D

I wasn't sure if I was going to have time to participate, but sheepishly jumped in when Karen, our PJ Party Hostess, posted her giveaway, hehe.  I do really need more cute PJs after all.

A quick survey of the jammy situation made me a wee ashamed:

-yoga pants, cut off and paint stained (on the bum, no less!)
-flannel skully pants-a definite favorite, but flannel, not appropriate for coming summer
-2 pairs of Madeline bloomers-cute, husband loves them, but sometimes leave me feeling a little exposed when just chillin, not to mention, I can't go fetch the laundry out back in them
-and finally, the sad, stretched out t-shirt nightgown.  It's on the frumpy side.

New Look 6139 was employed as a base and altered quite a bit, as the crotch length was massive, and the ease ridiculous.  I can't be bothered turning fabric inside out for a drawstring, so I switched the waist to elastic.

I originally bought this fabric for a Violet blouse.  It felt soft and drapey at the store, but after washing just feels like quilting cotton.  I guess it was that chemical stuff that's put on fabric?  Not to mention, as much as I love this color, I don't think it looks good with my complexion.  But perfect for the PJs.  Only having 2 yards, not quite enough to make a full pair of pants, I improvised.  SO, don't tell the sewing police, but I cut them on the cross grain!  And had just enough, with spare scraps.

 what's happening with my arm here?

I thought of putting in pockets, but that's as far as it went-just too lazy.  However, piping is easy and aqua and red is such a splendid combo!

too lazy to change my thread, too!

To tell the front from the back, I attached a wee bow

Now, I love that Karen asked for our current read, cause aside from the pretty jammies, it's such good stalking material, no?

In the traditional sense of reading, by my nightstand I've got Confederacy of Dunces and a Bust magazine.  However, I'm currently smitten with audio books.  It's wonderful to listen to a story and be able to do other stuff at the same time.  Right now I'm listening to 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami.  This is my third Murakami book and my crush continues.  The stories are fantastical, the characters real and flawed, and all delicately woven together.  They make me want to study obscure Japanese/Chinese history and places.  This book, while slow to me at first, has now got me in it's clutches.  (However, my favorite is without a doubt "Wind Up Bird Chronicle"-go get it now!)

Friday, April 20, 2012

puff puff green, y'all

Sleeves, puff sleeves.  And green dye, geez.

I know what day it is, ahem, but all I'm offering here is my gussied up, green, puff-sleeve Violet


A couple things:  dye, sleeves and making it fitted

First, let me ask you something...Have you ever tried to find this color green at stores or online, in a natural fiber?  Cause it's nearly impossible.  I consider this (and slightly deeper emerald) the perfect shades of green, my absolute favorite color.  But it alludes me.  Why oh why are you so hard to find in a nice, natural fiber with good drape?

So, a dye it is.  First I tried iDye in Emerald, curious about this brand, having never used it before.

Now, I've had bad luck at stove top dyeing in the past, so I tried the machine and followed the packets advice.  Unfortunately, I had two yards of fabric and realized after the dyeing/washing that I should've used more than one packet.  It just wasn't enough to dye that amount of fabric.  It turned out lime green.

Soldiering on, I bought Tulip Brand in Green

I tackled the stove top method again, brought the water to almost boiling (hotter the water, darker the shade), used 3 packages of this stuff and followed the directions religiously. I really like the color, but wish it was just a smidge darker.  I've heard if you let the fabric dry overnight before rinsing clear, that it will set better.  I'll let you know when I do it again :-)

Onto the sleeves, I've decided I want a closet full of puff sleeves, so after my muslin, I chopped up the pattern, again using this tutorial

From the looks of it, seems like my fabric is a little too thin to really puff up.  The potential is there, they are just lazy little gathers aren't they?  Isn't there a trick to make fabric stand up in the shoulders, using twill tape, or something like that?  Must research. 

Finally, when I wore this on our holiday, I of course had my husband take photos.  In every.single.picture I looked pregnant.  And I'm not pregnant.  I think this fabric is just more flowly than the muslin one, not sure why this one made me look preggers and the other one not. 

So, had to take it in.  I probably did not do it correctly, but just a little pinch and pin, then turned those into darts, in the front and the back. 

 you can see where i started pinning, but moved it closer to the seams

looks a little better, but methinks I've got a sway back going on

What I've learned/will do next time:

1.  Practice gathering-I don't think the sleeve gathers are very even
2.  Remove the gathers from the back yoke and do the sway back adjustment
3.  Try my hand at moving the front darts and turning them into princess seams (maybe will help make more fitted?)
4.  Figure out sleeve head, standing up thingy

Also, if you have any advice on where to buy natural fiber green fabric, I'm all ears!

And, I just couldn't resist this...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

the violet muslin

Jumping on the Violet bandwagon.  I really loved this blouse when I first set eyes on it.  A simple button up with the cutest peter pan collar, yes, please!

I started with a muslin for the shirt.  I've had this fabric for god knows how long, since I lived in Florida, which was probably 10 years ago.  I remember buying it for a 50's style dress that I cut out part of it out and never sewed (meh).  But, I bought like, 5 yards of the fabric.  Geez, beginner's mistake?  Since that initial purchase, I've used the fabric to make a pair of madeline bloomers and a pair of pj pants for my mom, now this muslin, and still have lots of the fabric leftover.

I used some pink buttons I had in my stash, but only had 6, so *still* need to sew a hook and eye on the top.  The thing is, muslin or not, I actually really like the top, so into the suitcase it went for my vacay...

on top of table mountain, cape town

my husband thinks this is dorky, whatevs, i just wanted to say hi

Earlier in the day, we went for a second round of fabric shopping.  By "we", I mean my husband was kind enough to oblige, hehe.  He's good like that.  We went to Fabric City, on a recommendation from Another Sewing Scientist.

While in there, one of the employees commented that she liked my shirt.  Now, Sue recently had a discussion about this exact situation.  Do you proudly blurt "I MADE IT" or kindly take a compliment and leave it at that?  I usually get all weird and shy if I tell someone I made something (cause most people are shocked, no?), but it shouldn't have mattered since we were in a fabric storeBut, I said thank you, with no admissions-and then my husband blurts out "SHE MADE IT".  Hahahahahaha, I love him.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

switching it up a bit: food

Besides sewing, food and recipes are another obsession.  I found this recipe in a bon appetit or gourmet magazine sometime last year, not certain.  It has become my staple party dish, and also when I'm not wanting a heavy meal, I whip this up and dig in.  The real flavor comes the next day, after it's marinated in the fridge overnight.  I can crack out on this stuff!

The beauty of this recipe, is that's is loose.  There's no strict measurement required.  Want to feed more people?  Add more beans, adjust the rest accordingly.  For me, if I'm dining a la mode (god, i crack myself up) I use 2 cans of beans, which affords me some tasty leftovers for snackin.

Garbanzo Bean Salad

2 cans garbanzo beans (this is where real measurements end
everything else to taste)

fresh grated parmesan 
drizzle of olive oil
fresh chopped basil 
apple cider vinegar 
salt and pepper

The original recipe called for fresh squeezed lemon instead of apple cider vinegar, but I found it didn't have enough oomph for me.  I'm sure if I had added some lemon zest as well, it'd be delish, but seeing as I always have apple cider vinegar, and not always lemon on hand, I go with what I've got.  If I have garlic, I'll add a clove of that too!  Even an infused olive oil would be great, like a lemon olive oil, mmm!

The article (I wish I could find it, I would love to credit the right person) stated something that has stuck with me since:  your dish is only as good as your least quality ingredient (or something like that).  Basically, if you buy crap parmesan, your dish will taste like it.  If you buy crap beans, you'll notice.  Essentially-buy fresh parmesan and grate it.  Buy fresh basil and chop it.  Use quality olive oil and beans.  Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.

The simplicity of GOOD ingredients really stands out here.  Nom nom, enjoy!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

a renfrew parade

About a year ago, I started sewing clothing again, and my first item was a long, maxi knit dress, basically a rectangle with neck and arm holes, that I belt.  I still wear it, just choosing to not look closely at the construction.  After the renfrew came out, I figured it was a good lead into a proper knit make and promptly ordered it.

I have some heavy, green knit, that is kinda blah to me, perfect for a wearable muslin.  I cut a size 2, for a little negative ease. I really like how it came out, it's comfy, even with my slightly off V-neck, whoops. 

note:  hands look big compared to your head

Now, if you notice, it's pretty loose.  I guess this is where different types of knits work different ways, cause my next two renfrews are TIGHT.  I don't mind the tightness all over, just not in the pit region...

I was trying to do a boat neck sorta thing on this black/white stripe, but didn't move the neck toward the shoulders like I should have.  I've since got the Sew U Home Stretch, Built by Wendy book by Wendy Mullins for sewing knits.  I know where I went wrong now.  But, I do like it anyway.

My only gripe with this version, is it's really tight under the arms.  The muslin doesn't feel that way.  Same size cut.  Just an illustration of how different knits can sew up differently I guess.

what? tight pits? no, not bothering me at all.  well, maybe just a little.

An example of my amazing product shots in South Africa:

 I may have been drinking.  I may have demanded my husband take a photo, then broken into a run.  He may be shaking his head.

Of course I didn't realize how tight the underarms were, just plowing ahead with the next shirt!  
I've had this lil cutie on my pinterest sewing board for a while.  I love the white lace overlay, thought it'd work as a knit top. 

Again, I was hoping for some epic clothing/scenery shots in South Africa, unfortunately this day it was really, really windy.

trying not to get blown away

So, more pictures at home.

whew, back with my other love

The overlay part was really easy, but doh, forgot to take pics of that!  I used a stretch lace, cut it out exactly like the white knit underneath, and machine basted the pieces together.  Then treated them each as one piece throughout construction.

 oh hi, puff

I looooove me some puff sleeves, that's ok for a 35 year old woman, right?  I'd never altered a sleeve like that before and it was really easy.

I used this tutorial found here

What I've learned:

1.  Different knits behave differently
2.  After sewing up the last two renfrews, I've come to the conclusion that lowering armholes is probably one of the adjustments I have to make on certain patterns.  I've lowered the armhole on my sorbetto pattern, as well, leading me to that conclusion.
3.  I like sewing with knits, it just takes some patience. 
4.  Matching smaller stripes, like the above renfrew, is a pain in the arse.  I had to pin every other stripe and kept double checking that everything was still lined up.  (Tasia talks stripes tips here)
5.  Double check that everything fits well before getting serger happy with your seam allowances!

Friday, April 13, 2012

fabric de africa

It's only ironic that while it rains here in California, I'm feeling under the weather.  Not sure if it's leftover travel ickiness or not.  But, since my vacation me-made pictures are more funny than informative, I need to take more pictures here at the house, and I don't feel like getting gussied up right now.

But moving on, I do have fabric pics!  I must send a big thank you to Another Sewing Scientist for pointing me in the right direction in Cape Town.  And go check out her newest creation, and how much she loooooves Cape Town!! 

First stop was Focus Fabrics, in the Woodstock area.

I picked up 2 meters of each of these:

cotton? kinda feels like a lawn



My total for this purchase was 206 Rand, about $25 US, woop woop!  And for those of us in the US, which refuses to use the metric system, a meter equals just a little over a yard.  (WHY oh why, do we not convert to metric?? Seriously-it makes sense!)

Anywho, the next day, I went back for more, hitting up Fabric City, just down the street.  This time, my haul was again, 2 meters of each:

wax print (made in India, haha)



oh, and look, it's double sided, score! 
 more shweshwe

close up

and the reverse!  I really love this.
pretty cool, huh?

I lost my receipt for fabric city, but I remember it being around 240 Rand, around $30 US.  All in all,  a little over $50 US for 12 yards of fabric between both stores.  Not bad!

And the fabric shweshwe has an interesting history, I had never heard of it before.  Check it out here.  I love that's it's called "shweshwe" because of the sound it makes when walking!

I've been stalking this blog, She wears shweshwe, where she photos women in Africa wearing shweshwe designs.  Check it out if you have a minute.  It's cool cause she doesn't sneak the photos, but engages and even mails pictures back to them when possible.

And if you're still curious about shweshwe (i'm in a wee obsession right now), google Bongiwe Walaza, a South African designer.  Her clothing is stunning:

Now I'm off to drink some tea and plot my fabric plans.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

me-made may '12

Hello all!  I'm just recovering from a 2 week holiday out of the country, the reason for my bloggy silence of late.  It was a tremendous trip to Cape Town, South Africa, which I will be posting many pictures of soon.  I just need to get organized, but in the meantime, for the first time, I'm jumping on the Me-Made bandwagon! 


So, Zo is doing it again, and I'm super excited, as I've watched the progress in the past, but never felt ready.  However, the last few months, I've realized, I usually wear something Me-Made everyday anyway, and I'm hoping this challenge will push me to know my wardrobe better:  holes in it, what goes with what, and accessorizing (of which I'm terrible at).

So, without further ado,

I, Jill, of The Sew Alongs, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '12. I endeavour to wear at least one Me-Made garment each day for the duration of May 2012


Watch out this week, as I post pictures of my trip, lots of me-made travel wardrobe, fabric (!), plus, baboons!

Ozzie, keenly aware of how much of my time Me-Made will take from him.  
This is all the excitement  he could muster.