Friday, July 26, 2013

renfrew parade v2

It's been over a year since I used this pattern, but here are a couple more Renfrews, woohoo!

First up, my dress!

It's taken me forever, but I'm finally getting around to posting this Renfrew dress.  I went to a wedding in May, and of course needed a new dress to wear.  I busted my butt getting this made in time, and thankfully finished quickly, by my standards at least.

This was a fun make for several reasons, 1) It was my first attempt at turning a Renfrew into a dress, 2) It's also a maternity Renfrew, 3) I just love the fabric

 gathers detail

For turning it into a dress, I added the desired length, tapering it from the hips to the knees.  Let's just say it wasn't a perfect process, but I figured it out somehow.  I was very careful with the fabric/pattern placement, not to highlight the bewbs, only to realize after cutting that I put a big 'ol bouquet on my belly AND my booty, hahahahaha!  Like either of those areas need extra attention!

belly bouquet

booty bouquet

For turning it into a maternity T, I used So, Zo's tutorial found here.  I'd been wanting to do this to a shirt for a while, and had looked up a lot of variations on turning a t-shirt into a maternity one.  Most of them involved taking a RTW shirt and sewing elastic into the side seams.  But I wanted a from scratch one, and as lovely as Megan Nielsen's are, I couldn't justify paying $20 for another t-shirt pattern when I knew there must be a way to alter a pattern.

Luckily, right under my nose, I stumbled on So, Zo's method.  It's easy peasy and makes perfect sense.  Even my math challenged brain had no problem figuring it out :-D

the fabric has this cool cross stitch kinda look

The fabric is a wool jersey from Mood LA.  Because the jersey can stretch pretty thin, I added a stretch lining, also from Mood.  I love that store, but if there's anything they're missing, it's a variety of stretch linings.  This one is a nylon and has two distinct sides.  One is rougher than the other.  Of course I put the smoothest side against my body, but it's still a smidge itchy.  I only lined the body of the dress, omitting the sleeves.

inside gathers

 neck and sleeve head

The lining is less stretchy than the jersey, and after wearing it a few times, the jersey has stretched out a little bit at the bottom, causing a weird ripple at the hem.  I might go back and add the hem band like a regular Renfrew.  But then again, I might end up too lazy to do anything, ha!  Any suggestions out there?

Also, I made a tiny (but liveable) mistake by making the gathers a wee bit high, and not making enough of them.  That's the only thing I changed when I cut out the second one.

the dress is great for stretching my hips!

Speaking of my second one, remember my last post I talked about how awesome my sewing friends are?  Well, my friend Sandra came to my rescue on this shirt.  It was one of the 5 doomed items I was trying to sew for more maternity wear a couple weeks back.  It never made it.  She's one of my IRL blogger friends and when we had a sewing meetup a couple weeks ago, she offered to sew it for me so I could work on another project.  It was already cut out, but HOW FREAKIN' AWESOME IS THAT?!?  Seriously though.

So I can only take credit for cutting it out and wearing it, other than that, it was all Sandra :-)

more gathers this time

I fixed the high gathers I had made on the dress, by lowering these 2 inches.  I also added another 2 inches of gathering.  It fits me perfectly, and is very, very comfy.  In fact, I'm wearing it now!  The material is a rayon jersey bought years ago from Joann's, that is unbelievably soft.  

I have zero complaints about this shirt, huzzah!

Look how straight her stitching is!

The days of being pregnant are numbered.  I'm due in 4 weeks and thankfully, my job ends next week.  I'm looking forward to lounging around in comfy clothes and not having to worry anymore about what to wear to work!  Can't wait!!

Friday, July 19, 2013

channeling peggy bundy

I love me some good animal prints, but who doesn't?  (Honestly, if you don't, I'm not sure we can be friends) A while back got in my head that I wanted a pair of velvet leggings.  A 4-way stretch plain leopard print velvet is very hard to find, my friends.  Plain meaning, not iridescent, or sequiny.  I searched high and low, found some 2-way stretch, but never the 4-way needed.  I sew with a bunch of awesome ladies IRL*, and had expressed my sadness over the elusive fabric.  I didn't think I'd ever find the perfect stuff.

Amity, one of the group, texted me out of the blue one day with a glorious picture...of 4-way stretch velvet leopardy fabric, and did I want her to grab some for me?  Uh, YES PLEASE!  She was in San Francisco for PR (Pattern Review) weekend and spotted it at some random fabric shop.  How awesome are fellow sewists?!?  She even dropped it by my house the next week!

 look at that sweet leopard velvet goodness

I got most of them sewn at one of our meetups, captured here without the waistband or hemmed, by the crazy, funny Julianne.  Once again, I used Jalie 2920 like here and here.

muahahahahaha, leoooopard!

I finished them up a few days later and wore them to my step-daughter's graduation in May.  I quickly realized I needed to make the waistband bigger, cause they were uncomfortably tight :(  Once back home, I unpicked all that waistband serging (ugh) and put in a fold over waistband and threaded the elastic through.  No more unpicking serging if I still couldn't handle them.  (My hips are expanding, ya know).

But all is good and I've worn them a couple times and love them!  They aren't nearly as hot as I imagined they would be, which is good for a sweaty preggo, hehe.  They do however, make me feel like Peggy Bundy :-D

yes?  If only I could get my hair to do that...

*Our sewing group includes these lovely ladies:

Amity and Nhi of Lolita Patterns 
Caroline of  TigerFeet
Cindy Cation Designs -even though she's moving soon :(
Julianne of Made by Julianne

Caroline came up with our name, "Stitch in the Ditch".  You know, cause we're in California, near the San Andreas fault, it's a ditch...If you ever find yourself in the LA area, please get in touch, we love to meet up, shop and sew!

Friday, July 5, 2013

breakdown pt. 2

First, I hope everyone in the US had a safe and fun holiday yesterday!  I know I did.  I lounged like a big 'ol whale on the beach, floated in the ocean, then ate yummy food.  Much needed relaxation!

Second, thank you so very much for all the kind, inspiring and empathetic comments on my last post.  I found myself smiling in relief and gratefulness that there are such awesome seamstresses (sewers, sewists, sewintists :) out there that get it.

Though I'm fully recovered from my mental collapse ridiculous sewing adventure last weekend, my serger is still out of commission-the second half of my saga, lol.

I bought this Bernina 700D used off craigslist.  The girl I bought it from had been in fashion school, but "hated sewing".  Whaaaa?  Um, ok, to each their own.  Anyway, she had never had it serviced, and it was a wee beat up, but still worked fine.  I put off having it serviced, just cleaning it out and oiling it, and it worked like a dream for a long time. 

Then, a few weeks back, as I was trying to use it, the lower looper thread (far right) kept breaking.  Also, the indicator dial, which apparently is the name for the stitch length dial, who knew, was broken.  It still worked, but it would slip out of place sometimes and change the stitch length mid run.

My sweet husband took it to the shop for me.  For what it's worth, the lady that took it in, cannot trouble shoot the machines-AT ALL.  I called her from work to explain the problems, get a cost estimate, etc. and she just kept saying, "Well, the tech's not here, I don't know, I don't know."  She got pretty frustrated with me, cause of course I had 20 questions.  But don't you think they should know something??

The tech is only there on Wednesdays, so I called back then.  I wanted to know WHY the machine was doing this, not just that it would work after repair.  He was very nice and patient and explained everything.

Apparently the lower looper thread was breaking because it was getting caught on the needle plate, which was damaged.  (how that happened...???)  I gave the go ahead for the new part order and patiently waited until the next week. 

My husband picked it up for me last Wednesday and the tech was able to fix the plate without replacing it, which saved me some $$$.  It had the little stitch sampler they do when it's serviced, got it home and used it on the weekend.  Wouldn't you know, a couple hours later, the mother freakin' lower looper thread broke again, arrrrrrg.  WTF?!  After rethreading 2x, and it still breaking, is when I gave up.  

Not only that, but the tension was WAY off.  It was as if the differential feed was cranked all the way up.  I had to loosen the needle tension way down to make it normal.  Again, WTF?

It's back in the shop now.  And hopefully will be ready next Wednesday, but who knows.  Right now, I'm going to content myself with some home dec projects that need to be finished before the little one arrives.

I researched any persistant problems that the Bernina 700D might have, and that is not one of them.  In fact, it's got a really high rating from what I can gather.  Has anyone ever heard of this problem before?  Whether the needle plate plays a role, or if it's something else?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

breakdown pt. 1

This is a tale of many tears.  Mostly hormone induced, but tears no less.  During my self-imposed sewing challenge, I got 2 1/2 items finished:  the leggings, the maxi skirt and almost all of the navy dress.  

Here's the long rundown...


-Swung by Joann's after work to get some elastic and thread.
-After dinner, I crashed, hoping to get up early and get cracking


Woke up, breakfast, organized sewing area, got all patterns/fabric/notions together, removed pocket from the men's shirt, left to meet doula for breakfast (yeah, I eat two of those now)
Left breakfast #2, Vet for dog meds, Target, got home
Cut out leggings
Cut out renfrew
Break, snack, facebook, bloglovin, and much needed stretching
Cut out maxi skirt (included a 15 refresh cycle in the dryer to get wrinkles out) and redoing my measurements
Break-my back is really hurting at this point
Feeling a lack of sewjo, back still hurts, hips hurt, but power on, starting with the leggings
Mess with serger, was picked up from the shop on Wednesday, and it's messing up again, now I'm hungry, eat
Get back to leggings
Done! Take an ice cream break
Start maxi
Take dog on walk with the hubby
Back to work on the maxi
Finish Maxi (took much longer than it should have!)
Shower, eat, and lights out


Up, breakfast, we clean the bathrooms, do laundry, empty dishwasher and vacuum/mop floors
Birth class
Pick up food, head home
Friends come over to scout for baby shower
Finally stop going, eat ice cream and veg on the couch for a minute
Dog walk with the hubby
Nap.  I'm really feeling exhausted by this point
Wake up, make tea, check email
Start working on blue dress, get sides and shoulders done, cut out bias strips, and get neck bias almost finished
Taking entirely too long, serger acting up again, want to claw eyes out, but just have a little weep instead
Rethread machine for the 2nd time
Still doesn't work, lower looper thread keeps breaking (what I originally took it in for).  At this point, I now want to throw the machine and cry and have a very strong alcoholic beverage.  All I can do is cry though.  I decide the best alternative is a hot shower.
Back at it, decided to use the good ol' IT trick "have you tried turning it off and back on?"  Nope, still nothing
Try old serger, can't get tension right (hence it being retired)
F*ck it.  Admit defeat, shed more tears.  The hubby is extra sweet in my sewing crisis.

Let's be clear, I set myself up for failure.  I knew I had a lot going on, but thing is, I'm really, really stubborn.  My husband is convinced that stubbornness will be what gets me through birth with no meds.  When I get something in my head, I don't want to back down.

Another issue, I keep forgetting that at 32 weeks pregnant, I cannot do everything with the same energy I could at 0 weeks pregnant.  I can't stand on my feet for hours cutting out fabric without my body retaliating with a burning back ache later.  It's frustrating, because my head is still in it, but my body just won't. 

And of course, the serger.  It's another story for another day.  This is already a long post, so I'll take that one on separately. 

I was sorely disappointed in myself last night.  I put myself out there on this blog, hoping the public decree would really light a fire under my ass.  But when it came down to it, I just couldn't do it all.  Maybe I am just a slow sewist and I just got ahead of myself?

I know we're not supposed to compare ourselves with others, but it's hard not to when you see bloggers post completed project after completed project and you wonder, what am I doing wrong?  And sometimes you can't help the comparison in those low emotional moments.  Is there something that they've figured out that I haven't?  What construction tricks have they mastered that I haven't?  

Even the items I got done are far from perfect.  I gathered the maxi and put on a yoga style waistband.  The gathers are uneven.  And because of my big bump, I took off some of the top of the leggings, which I shouldn't have.  Thank goodness I can't bend over or hello crack!

I don't have the magic answer, but I know that my sewing problems are nothing on the grand scale, and I try to remind myself of that when I get teary eyed over a sewing project.  Right now it's hard to separate my regular emotions from my hormonal induced ones, but thankfully, today my perspective is much, much better than it was Sunday night!  For me, I think a good, working machine, patience, and lots more practice are key.

And the finished items...

The maxi is made out of an olive jersey I got from FIDM for $1/yard.  I wore it to work Monday and it was very, very comfy.

 pregnancy causes drag lines, idgaf!

The leggings are made out of a navy denim looking stretch.  I bought it at Mood LA listed at $10 yard, and on sale, so I walked out with 1 yard for a little over $8.

What about you?  Do you ever get a case of the comparisons?  Or just feel your sewing is regressing?