Backward and Forward


I am looking back at the sewing I did this past year. When I count through the slideshow, it looks like close to 30 items (not including the items I made for the all-handmade sale*). That's a fair bit for someone who only started sewing garments a year and a half ago!

I am still figuring out what shapes look good on my body as well as learning how to fit my body. I am also learning how to choose attractive clothes that work with my stay-at-home-mom-of-small-children lifestyle.

Last year I tried to incorporate one new thing in each garment to help me expand my capabilities - either a new technique or a new fabric. I didn't always manage this, but I think it is a worthy goal for this year's sewing as well.

Here is the slideshow:

In addition to trying something new with each project, in 2010, I need to find sources of quality fabric that works with my lifestyle and preferences. I tend to get all excited by my fellow sewists' use of wool and silk and I am terribly covetous of the brilliant polyester knit prints. But none of these work for me.

Wool is itchy on me - no matter how low the content and both wool and silk must be treated with more care than I can give my clothes (and certainly more care than my kids are going to give my clothes - sticky fingers, sand, snot, the random marker streak, etc.). I try to use "natural" fibers whenever I can as an effort to care for the earth. This generally prohibits polyester from my wardrobe. My blazer and the costumes were the main exceptions this year.

I still have several patterns and fabric just waiting for the time and energy to sew them. Here's to getting back to a sustainable schedule soon!

* For the all handmade sale, I made over 40 handkerchiefs, more than 12 backpack doll carriers, more than 40 bookmarks, 7 checkers sets, and one moebius scarf (which needs its own picture).

Comment Moderation On


Hello friendly readers!

Welp, this blog has been the recipient of some lovely comment spam, so I have turned comment moderation on for the time being. Lucky for us, there are no lively discussions in the comments as of yet, so nothing should be too slowed down by this extra step. (Ha!)

Feeling Better

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Thanks to all of you who willingly read through my rant yesterday.

Today I took the opportunity to tidy up my sewing table while the kids were glued to a video. Then, during naptime, I finished fixing Lucy's impromptu skirt from a couple of weeks ago and had Peter help me trace and cut out the pattern pieces for the waistcoat he wants. That went so quickly that I even managed to cut out and quickly stitch up a muslin for the waistcoat in a cheap fabric from my stash (thin poly-cotton cow print anyone?). I need to add width to the side fronts and maybe a tad to the neckline, but it looks like the hardest part will be the buttonholes.

I sewed nothing for myself, but I feel better.

Wardrobe update: I stopped in at American Apparel* today to check out their t-shirts. I didn't find anything I wanted to try on, but I might have missed something, so I will check their website. I took a look at their leggings. HOLY MOLY! They want something like $50 for a pair of leggings. Zoinks! I have a leggings pattern I downloaded from burdastyle. I need to get on making a muslin for those.

* Which is worse, buying from a company with potentially sketchy employment practices (sweatshops overseas) or buying from a company with advertising that seems to exploit women?

Wardrobe Crisis

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Warning. Whining about clothing follows. Feel free to click away.

Aaack. I have nothing to wear.

OK, this isn't entirely true. I have things to wear, but most are not terribly functional for winter-winter. They are fine for fall-winter and winter-spring, but too open at the neck or un-layerable (allowing no more than a singlet underneath and not functioning as an underlayer). Most are also made of cotton (including pants and skirts).

I don't like being cold. It makes me grumpy.

The rest of my garments that are in some way winter-winter appropriate are getting such hard use and are showing the wear so much that I feel a bit like I am wearing rags. Add to this that I have little time to sew or shop and even less time to make mistakes and you get a wardrobe crisis.

David has promised me the chance to go clothes shopping after Christmas. But after briefly trying on jeans at the Gap and t-shirts at Target last week, I'm just not excited about it. Honestly, I do not have anything resembling a defined waist and the waistbands on all of the Gap jeans are HUGE even if they are snug in the seat and thighs. (What do their mannequins look like???) And the t-shirts specifically designed for layering at Target are crazy tight yet have huge armholes. So if I got a larger size in order to have enough girth so as not to feel like a sausage, I would have batwing sleeves and shoulder seams closer to my bicep. Bleh. I could sew better than this, but I have yet to try to make pants other than PJs and I am certain that my machine would not be fond of multiple layers of denim.

In related news, I ordered a pair of boots. I will have to send them back. They are too narrow across my foot and I can just barely get my leg zipped into them (I have short legs with wide calves - this makes boot-buying tricky - not to mention depressing), so I certainly could not tuck in pants. Not that this would be a flattering look for me, but it would be nice to have the option.

Things I hope to find(in colours that work for me and prices I can justify):
silk long johns/leggings
dark slim jeans with a mid to high waist (I never tuck anything other than singlets in anyway.)
long sleeve crew neck t-shirts for layering**
turtlenecks for layering**
a open -necked body skimming sweater or two (with wool content for warmth)
mid-heel knee-high boots
just below knee-length skirt (with wool content for warmth)

**I do have time to crank out a few t-shirts, but I don't have patterns for these basics.

There are mental piles of things that I want to make - many of them have patterns ready and waiting, some even have fabric waiting - but I have gotten out of my sewing routine since I moved my sewing gear.

It's time for my wardrobe planets to come into alignment.

Wasting Time Tonight


Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Two new knit tops!

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I finally finished hemming Burda 02-2009-108. I love this top even though it is nothing approaching appropriate for the season. I made this once before and discovered that the shoulders were drafted too narrow for me, so I gave it to a narrow-shouldered friend. Here is the improved version (organic(?) cotton and bamboo rayon fabric):

Flattering, no? (Don't tell me if you don't think it is flattering. Let the newness of it wear off first.)

And now to less flattering. Or rather, poor fabric choice. I used a lovely cotton rayon knit that I bought in Portland at the 2009 PR Weekend at Mill End, I think. But it is entirely too soft and drapey a knit for Jalie 2682. The collar just flops around. I am bummed that I used my pretty Portland fabric for a shirt that I am not thrilled with. I will still wear it, because I am in great need for long-sleeve shirts. Here it is (and this is the most flattering shot - I deleted about four others that had wonky wrinkles everywhere):

And in Advent news, we have made little windboats (a big hit) and fingerprint pictures. Today we are scheduled to make paper chains, but we are again supposed to have spackle sanding done in the bathroom so we are going out for dinner. I don't know if we will have time to generate any chains...

Holy Packaging, Batman!

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On Friday, I found a little notice on my door that said a delivery had been attempted and that my package was now being held for pick-up. Of course, I wasn't allowed to attempt to pick up said package until after 11 AM Monday. Annoying, but whatever, I can't do anything about it.
I get to the pick-up location this afternoon and am handed this large lightweight box. I can't remember anything that I have ordered from this company that would necessitate such a large box. In fact I can only recall ordering one thing (which I fully expected to arrive in a large padded envelope).

Yes folks, it was the item I ordered. A real thread chart for Guterman's 100% polyester thread. Check out the photos below. That is a seriously excessive amount of packaging!

And, in Advent news, Saturday's activity bombed. Usually the kids are all for a play bath, but David let the girls have a long playing bath the night before and Lucy really had her hopes up for something ridiculously exciting. She literally broke into tears.
Sunday's activity was build a fort. This went quite well, but was difficult to photograph. Here is Peter inside the thing before it collapsed.

Afternoon Advent Activities


Hello Everyone! We are three days into advent and the kids seem to be enjoying the activities. There is some resistance on Peter's part (my 6 going on 16 year old - angst and attitude aplenty), but so far he has gone along with things and even enjoyed himself. Here's what our calendar looks like:

We have clothespinned the mini manilla envelopes to a piece of twill tape pinned to the wall above some windows in the sunroom. Each envelope contains a slip of paper with an activity and a chocolate coin (fair trade chocolate purchased at Ten Thousand Villages). The kids are rotating through opening the envelopes and, thus, eating the chocolate coins.

The first day of Advent, we made hot chocolate with whipped cream. Hot chocolate is a rare treat in our house - our stance being that picky eaters do not get to eat as many sweets as non-picky eaters.

As you might have noticed in the collage above, the second day of Advent we played Uno. None of the kids can manage to hold their cards, so it's a very open game. We also keep playing even after the first person runs out of cards. It's just friendlier that way.

Today, the third day of Advent, we made paper snowflakes. We made some traditional square-paper-folded-in-triangles snowflakes, but we also tried something new. The December 2009 issue of Burda included instructions for making the large curly snowflake you see in the upper left corner. (We will hang it in Peter's room tomorrow.)

And just in case I am not able to keep up with photographing our advent activities, here is our official list. (We omitted stringing anything edible to hang on trees outside due to a very present raccoon population.)

  1. Make hot chocolate with whipped cream
  2. Play Uno
  3. Make paper snowflakes
  4. Begin a giant picture
  5. Have a play bath
  6. Build a fort
  7. Have pancakes for dinner
  8. Make a windboat
  9. Make fingerprint people and animals
  10. Make paper chains
  11. Donate old towels to an animal shelter
  12. Bake cookies
  13. Go for a walk in the woods
  14. Take pictures of each other
  15. Thank someone for being nice
  16. Dress fancy for dinner
  17. Give everyone a wild hairstyle
  18. Write letters to far away friends
  19. Play soccer
  20. Look at Christmas lights after dinner
  21. Make silhouette portraits
  22. Paint everyone's toenails
  23. Sing Christmas carols
  24. Make a shining star

Advent Calendar Activities


Being confined gives me more opportunity to blog...

The kids want to have an Advent calendar this year. The only trouble with that is that we celebrate the twelve days of Christmas by opening one package every morning. A couple of years ago when we had an Advent calendar (by Playmobil) it was just too many days of opening presents.

Then today (or yesterday) I received Kids Craft Weekly in my email inbox. This issue had a link to an Advent Activity Calendar from the Kiddley archives. This is it, folks! Essentially every day there is some small-ish suggested activity.

I have made a list of activities, but I need a few more, particularly if the weather is as nasty as it often is. Here's my working list (some are from the list in the link and some are my own):

  1. Paint everyone's toenails
  2. Make hot chocolate
  3. Bake cookies
  4. Build a fort
  5. Have a play bath
  6. Give everyone a wild hairstyle
  7. Go walk in the woods
  8. Take pictures of each other
  9. Play UNO (even Clara plays UNO)
  10. Make a giant picture
  11. Make paper snowflakes
  12. Write letters to far away friends
  13. Make a wind boat
  14. Thank someone for being nice
  15. Make a shining star
  16. Have pancakes for dinner
  17. Make fingerprint people and animals
  18. String cranberries for the tree outside (maybe not a good idea since there is a family of raccoons living next door)
  19. Dress fancy for dinner
  20. Play soccer
What else friends? I need a few more ideas!

We do also light Advent lanterns every night during Advent and we have a liturgy that we say together that David came up with a couple of years ago.

The All Handmade Sale 2009

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That's me at my table! I wore my cozy wrap sweater (and long johns) and it's a good thing I did. I was right in a draft from the open door. The sale was a great success. Each vendor agreed to donate 10% of their sales to Salsbury Community Society and all together we raised around about $1000!

I sold all five checker board sets that were finished and brought along my sewing machine to work on two more that were already spoken for. Several backpack doll carriers went home to delight children. A host of handkerchiefs found happy homes as well.

Along with the two checkerboard sets that I need to finish for folks at Peter's school, I took orders for an art smock and a moebius scarf. The scarf was a last minute idea. I had forgotten that I wanted to make them for the sale until two days before. I made two - one according to the instructions that were in last fall's issue of Stitch magazine, and one a bit bigger as I found the smaller size to be unflattering and difficult to get on and off my ginormous head.

There are several backpack doll carriers left (and PLENTY more materials to make a ton more) so I might try figuring out how to set up an etsy shop. Just as soon as I get out of bed. A flu thing that I was fighting off has attacked full force. Bleh.

Help Requested!
I am trying to come up with a good etsy shop name. SarahSews is taken SarahSewsSimply is available, but seems long. Do any of you have brilliant ideas? This is your chance to comment if you are usually comment-shy.

Second Update
I have scarlet fever and probably have strep throat. I'll have amoxicillin, thanks. Maybe make it a double. (Just kidding, though the doctor did say that if I am feeling any shortness of breath that i should go straight to emerg.)



Well, I shouldn't have done it, but while I was sticking my head in the sand last night playing at the computer when I should have been sleeping or sewing or staining checkers, I tried out a new background for my blog. I didn't like it so attempted to revert it back to the usual orange. This should have worked well since I hadn't saved any changes.

But I lost all of my links to the blogs that I had listed on my sidebar. I have recovered most of them, but if your blog is usually on my list and it isn't now, please leave me a comment and I will add it. Also, if you are a real life friend of mine or have a sewing blog that you would like me to add to my list, leave a comment and I will add it.

I've also been thinking about adding a list of fashion/style blogs that I regularly read as well. Does anyone have any preferences about this?



Hey Everyone!

I am still here and still sewing (just cranked out a yellow nightgown for Clara, a black long sleeved t-shirt with yellow at the neck and hems for Lucy - her request, and almost finished a yellow boat necked 3/4 length top for me).

The All Handmade Sale is barely over a week away and I still have to stain and clear coat the checkers, make buttons for the checkerboard bags, finish one more checkerboard, finish the bookmarks, and hem the last 6 handkerchiefs.

I also have to pick up 6 tables, finish the table layout for the sale, find websites with images of craft sales to send suggestions to all of the vendors, find paper and make business cards, find ribbon and bags for packaging, find a cloth for my table....

And still eat and sleep and try to pay attention to my kids and visit my friends who are in town this weekend.

I also had a massage today and as a result, I will be changing some things in my sewing space. But that will make for a lovely post of its own!

See you soon!

Finished Costume Photos!

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Sorry this took so long to post! Life just doesn't slow down around here, and then my computer had to go to the shop. Without further ado, here the finished Halloween costume photos!

Here is Lucy in her princess costume. Somehow the skirt got flatter with wearing (not poofy enough). I guess I'll have to make a petticoat of some sort if poofiness is necessary. Anyway, to review... I used Burda envelope pattern number 9702 and then modified the neckline to suit Lucy's design by using Burda magazine pattern 07-2009-139.

I added a layer of the sparkly sheer fabric (polyester organza?) over the sleeves and the skirt. I have come to loathe gathering fabric, so I pleated the skirt. Now that I think about it, this may have contributed to the lack of poof. I changed the button up back to a standard zippered back. I made the waist tie twice as wide and much longer. I also doubled it so that it looked the same on both sides (no hemming the long sides). Unfortunately, I used entirely the wrong fabric for the waist tie. It was something found in the fabric stash. It was too heavy and drapey. It made a floppy bow with a thick, loose knot. Bleh. I should've used a stiff, thin fabric for a showy bow.

But, all in all, and thanks to this last year's experience at sewing garments, this was pretty easy and uncomplicated.

Here is Clara roaring in the lion costume I made for Lucy two years ago. Bless her for wanting to wear a costume already in the closet. She was so funny. She would walk up to a house say trick or treat in her tiny voice and then mildly roar at the person.

And here is the collage for the Design-From-Scratch R2D2 costume. It could have used a bit more embellishment on the arms, but by the time was doing them, I ran out of steam. I found the instructions for drafting and sewing a sphere out of fabric here, so I simply cut the pattern piece I drafted in half. I felt that six pieces wear still too much for Peter's head and R2D2 has a bit more of a dome with straight sides and half a sphere on top. I removed one piece and all was resolved.

The hologram projectors are rectangles of vinyl that I sewed into a tube and then folded over on itself (wrong sides together). I drew a circle on the vinyl dome and cut it open. I then snipped the raw edges of the projector tube all around to make little flaps that could be tucked between the vinyl and the polar fleece and hot glued in place.

The front of the costume attempts to approximate the R2D2's actual front. The back does not. I had to account for the opening down the back. The arms are made of milk cartons duct taped together to make a hinge and then covered in vinyl.

The resulting costume looked cool, but was not appropriate to wear to school (he couldn't sit in it or move his arms terribly well). And hot glue is by no means a permanent method of attaching vinyl to vinyl. There was a fair bit of re-gluing that had to happen before Halloween night.

Here is the candy haul. We have decided to allow the kids to binge on as much candy as they can eat the night of Halloween. Then all of the candy goes into a common bucket that all of us can eat out of occasionally. We don't often have candy and I can't stand being the monitor over whose candy is whose and who has eaten that day's allotment of candy, etc. And, this way they get to experience being excessive in a fairly safe manner. We think this is good practice for getting to know your limits.

No one got sick, although Peter might have kept going, but we cut him off after about an hour. I think he was actually hitting his limit about then, but he wouldn't admit to it.

I am glad that Halloween is over for the year. I have been busy tracing out a bajillion patterns that I want to sew... eventually. The next big thing is pulling it all together for the All Handmade Sale.

Costume Help Needed, Stat!

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Lucy's princess costume is all but done. I just need to tack down the seam allowance in one sleeve so it doesn't bug her. Photos to come soon!

Peter's R2D2 costume is coming along, but I am stuck on the the droid's legs/feet. But first let me show you what I have been working on in the meantime... The domed headpiece.

Here is Peter wearing a muslin of the half-sphere. I love that he is just smiling a little because he is excited about the costume but he doesn't know when I am going to actually snap the picture. Big thanks to Geoff 42 for posting his instructions for sewing a sphere of any diameter a couple of years ago. The internet is good. Upon reflection, I decided to remove one of the panels so I didn't have to add something stiff to the outer edge to hold the round shape. This also makes it a bit smaller and thus, more manageable for Peter.

Here is the headpiece minus the R2D2 embellishments. I have used a grey "wet look" vinyl, glue sticked to thick polar fleece and sewn together into the dome. Then I took a panel out of my muslin, sewed it back together, trimmed it and used it as a lining. I folded the edges of the grey vinyl and fleece under and hot glued them to the lining (a home dec fabric from Ikea). More embellishments have been added, but it is too dark to take photos, now.

Here Peter is wearing the body of the costume. It is simply a rectangle of white vinyl and two layers of polar fleece (for body) with velcro closures at the back and straps that are sewn on the back and velcroed on the front. Leg ideas, anyone? here is a picture of R2D2, just to refresh your memory. The costume's body piece is soft, but unwieldy, and I am stumped.

And, just in the interest of honesty and because Little Hunting Creek had to clean her sewing room because her in-laws were visiting, I leave you with a collage of the sty that is my workspace. I do need to clean it, because I can't think in there anymore.

Honestly, how have I been ironing? Where do I stand? And I obviously need a new method for organizing my sharps since that drawer is open almost all the time. And my beloved Peter stuffed his PJ pants into my machine as a less-than-subtle message that he wants them fixed.

Wednesday Sewing; Simplicity 2603 - DKNY Cozy Knock-off

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I did it! (almost - it still needs to be hemmed)

In retrospect, the fabric I chose was less than stellar and Lucy (my fashionable 4 year old) informed me that it looked like a towel. But, it is comfortable and (appropriately) cozy. Perhaps when styled a bit better (rather than thrown on over my not-leaving-the-house t-shirt) it will look less like a bathrobe.

On to the photos!

Remember back when I made the muslin? I never got around to making the sleeves. This morning I stitched and set in one of the sleeves on the muslin. I had read that the sleeves were bit tight, and I want to be able to wear this sweater over long sleeved shirts, so I cut the sleeves to medium and then used a 3/8" seam allowance rather than the 5/8" called for. Pretty good fit I thought.

Then I had to finish ripping out the stitching on the sweater knit. One of the selvedges was a bit ratty and I was worried about it unraveling in the wash, so I stitched the fabric along the selvedge as well as the cut edge before pre-shrinking. Unfortunately, this 100% polyester knit was so spongey that the stitches sank right in and ripping them out took FOREVER.

ETA: I looked at many wool jerseys and wool blend jerseys (and sweater knits) and I tried to like them, but they made my skin itch (and they cost $5 - $10 more per meter). And since I couldn't find any cotton/rayon sweater knit, I went with the polyester.

(Note the set-in sleeve illustration just above the ruler? Silly Simplicity.)

The texture of this fabric gave me quite some trouble - chiefly because my hands are very dry from hand washing dishes and pin pricked from sewing. This made handling this fabric a bit of a pain. Then it came time to reinforce the shoulder seams. I chose to use clear elastic but struggled to get the stuff positioned properly. I decided to try a little glue stick. It worked! I smeared glue on one side of the clear elastic and then stuck it down in place. The glue held well enough to keep the elastic in place without pins (which is tricky with this stuff).

Here is my almost finished cozy. Tonight I think I will finish hemming it. I also think I will attach a large snap to the top corners of the drape, because this fabric does not knot well.

Handmade Sale Sewing Saturday #2

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Today was my second sewing Saturday. All I knocked out were 6 backpack carriers, but they are completely finished this time - labels included.

Yesterday I spent a good chunk of time at the family drop-in planning out my sewing time between now and the All-Handmade Sale. If I can stay on task and if nothing goes horribly wrong, I should be finished sewing well ahead of time. Hooray!

I am going to wait until more items are completed to post photos of my handmade sale work. Bear with me and my photoless posts, please!

45 Minutes Per Day; Oct 12 - Oct 16

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Another week has gone by...

Monday was Thanksgiving, so instead of sewing, I baked a pumpkin pie.
Tuesday I hemmed 3 handkerchiefs
Wednesday... I don't know that I did anything for the handmade sale on Wednesday. If I did I didn't write it down.
Thursday I sorted through the checkers, sanding and counting them into sets of 12. I have 25 sets of 12 which is enough for the checker boards that I intend to make for the sale and one for our family and extra for special orders.
Friday I hemmed 3 handkerchiefs and (I'm getting faster with those handkerchiefs!) I pinned labels to the pieces of fabric to be made into checkerboards and backpack carriers. This way I can machine sew them in place before I construct the items rather than hand sew them after construction.

I also spent time today to plan out the rest of my sewing time between now and the sale to help keep me on track.

Wednesday Sewing - costume work and Jalie 2804

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No photos today. I have got to figure out a better way to take photos of the garments I make for myself (David is almost no help).

On Wednesday I put the zipper into Lucy's costume and did a little hand sewing - tacking down facings, seam allowances, etc. I still need to hem the dress and add another two rows of stitching to attach the bow at the waist.

I also cut out and made a muslin of Jalie 2804. I was working with fabric that was not quite as stretchy as the pattern called for and I needed to make a full bust adjustment, but my attempts didn't quite work. The crossover bit needs to be smaller, the lower bodice and back need to be shorter in length, and the arms need to be bigger in width. It ended up being a lovely shirt for someone 4 to 6 inches taller than me with thinner, toned arms.

Well, almost lovely. The fabric that I bought at Fabricana was scratchy and a bit stiff. It's cotton knit. Not terribly stretchy, so it must not have much lycra. It's thin - definitely shirt weight, but almost hard or crunchy or something. Fabricana has a fabulous quilting cotton selection (better than the local quilting shop) and some very nice higher end fashion fabrics, but their "regular" knits leave much to be desired.

I was going to rip out all of the stitching last night at our church meeting (other people bring their knitting...), but then I decided to give the shirt to my tall friend to try on. We shall see.

45 Minutes Per Day; Oct 5 - Oct 9

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the red red robin goes bob bob bobbin' along...

Monday I finished the 6 backpacks I nearly finished on Sewing Saturday #1 (except for the labels)
Tuesday found me stitching the ends of 22 webbing and clip sets for more backpacks. I got maybe 2/3 of the way through all of the steps there.
Wednesday was an odd day. Instead of sewing anything for the sale, I worked on a bulletin insert for my church to summon vendors and I fiddled around with making a facebook event page.
Thursday Clara went to a friend's house in the morning so I cut checkers from two sticks that Lucy and I found. Even after I weed through them again, I think I will have 150 checkers from those two sticks. I also prepped several labels to be hand sewn onto my completed projects.
Friday I didn't officially take 45 minutes, but I did bring a bag full of completed projects, labels and hand sewing gear along with me to our local family drop-in and to the playground after school. Everything has a label now, but in the future, I am going to sew those blasted labels on before I construct each item. (Hello, Tedious?)

It's Costume Time!

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Today I began work in earnest on the kids' Halloween costumes. Luckily, Clara wants to be a lion using the lion costume I made for Lucy a couple of years ago. The two costumes I am making this year fall into the categories of Annoying But Doable (and good garment-sewing practice) and Design From Scratch.

Lucy wants to be a princess (Annoying But Doable). All summer she said she wanted to be a princess (groan) and then for two or three whole weeks in September she wanted to be Supergirl (hooray!). Unfortunately, she found out that one of her friends is going to be a fairie princess, so she changed her mind before I bought any fabric. She drew a sketch of her costume and we talked a lot about details and then I looked for patterns.

I am using Burda 9702 as the basic design but she wanted a cross-over top so I used BWOF 07-2009-139 and re-drafted the front of the bodice. I am also changing the buttoned back for a zippered back and I will add an overlay of sparkly organza over the main skirt fabric. Yesterday I tissue fitted the pattern pieces on her and today I made a quick muslin of the bodice.

Peter, on the other hand, wants to be R2 D2 (Design From Scratch). Of course. I could find no R2 D2 costume patterns out there and only a few baby/toddler R2 D2 costumes to purchase. Nothing gave me any inspiration. We were thinking to use chicken wire and papier mache, but I have made it these 34 years without ever having done papier mache, and I didn't want to have to start with the pressure of a costume.

Monday afternoon I took a couple of large pieces of newsprint and held it around him to decide on a size. We then used a photo from a Star Wars book he brought home from the library to sketch all of the details on the front of the droid's body onto the pattern. Today I cut two pieces of very thick polar fleece the size of the pattern, stitched them together, then cut one piece of white vinyl a bit bigger than the pattern, wrapped three of the edges around the fleece and stitched those down. I plan to add a row of velcro to close the rectangle into a tube around him and add a couple of straps to keep it on his shoulders.

I also need to figure out how to draft pieces to make half a sphere of a certain diameter for the top of the droid which will be attached to a hat on Peter's head.

I have no idea what I am going to do about R2 D2's legs.

Fun times! Photos to come...

Handmade Sale Sewing Saturday #1

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David and I looked at our calendars for the next few months and things are looking pretty crazy - particularly November. So we decided to do what we did last year - I take three or four Saturdays to take an entire work day to sew for the sale. I was hoping to avoid this with my 45 minutes a day work, but I wasn't sure.

So this sewing Saturday I hemmed 8 handkerchiefs (completing all of the purple metallic stripe fabric), cut much of my fabric scraps into bookmark size pieces, and nearly completed 6 Baby Doll Backpack Carriers (2 in each of three colourways). I had hoped to also make the rest of the checkerboard binding, but watching Project Runway and Glee while doing handwork got in the way of that.

And all of that after the fuse for my sewing room died. We blew it with a space heater, got it switched back on and then killed it again. This hasn't been repaired yet, so everything in the sewing room is running on extension cords attached to extension cords (a word to Cat - please tell Mr. Safety that I know this situation is fraught with peril).

I was disappointed that I didn't get the 6 backpacks finished, but I'm glad to have made significant progress.

45 Minutes Per Day; Sept 28 - Oct 2

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Back on track!

Monday - cut more checkers (it's noisy work - I need earplugs and new safety glasses)
Tuesday - made binding for the checkerboards. I made a mistake in making the continuous binding and managed to make straight-grain binding rather than bias. This is fine since I am working with right angles, but it won't wear as well as bias would. I still have another meter of fabric to make into binding but this one will turn out bias.
Wednesday - I knew Friday was going to be different, so I took more time and hemmed 3 handkerchiefs and almost completed an entire checkerboard.

Thursday - finished the checkerboard, cut the rest of the backpack strap fabric, and cut 20 sets of webbing pieces and melted the ends.
Friday - nada

Wednesday Sewing - A Cozy Muslin


Today I tackled making a muslin of the DKNY knock-off "cozy" cardi-wrap. It's Simplicity 2603.

I used the same white knit as I used for Clara's muslins. The fabric that I want to use is about $15 per meter, so I wanted to be certain this thing fit and I liked it.

Here it is currently:

I think I will like it.

As you can see, it does not yet have sleeves or hems. I was reading through all of the pattern reviews for this pattern over on Pattern last night and more than one mentioned just how quick and easy this is to make.

At least two mentioned that from opening the pattern to a finished product took just 3 hours. I don't know how fast those people sew or how much room they have for cutting tables and the like in their homes, but this is as far as I could get in 3 hours. The front pattern piece is larger than my folding cardboard cutting board! I cut a small for the fronts and back and I have cut a medium for the sleeves.

I intend to make this out of a light sweater knit and wear this over t-shirts, not over tank tops, so I want the sleeves to be big enough for that. (Many reviews mentioned the sleeves being quite snug.) I also want full length sleeves, but without the goofy sleeve detail included on the pattern, so I had to adjust the pattern piece for the sleeve a little bit.

I forgot to try setting the sleeve in flat and then sewing the side seam and the sleeve seam all together, so I will have to set in my sleeves in the round. Oh well, it's good practice for other garments.

Kreativ Blogger Award!

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Julia (her blog is here), who is one of my very few regular comment-leavers (HOORAY Julia!), has given me the Kreativ Blogger Award. How sweet is that?

The "RULES" of this award are that I am to......
1) tell you seven things that you don't already know about me.
2) I am to name seven other blogs to receive this award.
3)I am to leave a comment on each of the blogs I have nominated letting them know that I have given them an award.
4) I am to thank the blogger who gave me the award.

So... without further ado... **echoing** Seven Things You Don't Know About Me

1. My name. I realized the other day that while I have posted the names of my family members, I have never posted my own. Hello, my name is Sarah.
2. I loathe making phone calls. Specifically to someone's home to ask for something. Business calls are no problem.
3. We have no TV, but I am hooked on two television shows, Project Runway and Glee. Hooray for the internet!
4. I used to have a red plastic Fame lunch box when I was a kid. I loved it. I loved that show, too.
5. I can't manage to raise children and do laundry. I mean I can definitely start laundry, but seeing laundry all the way through from sorting to folding is beyond my multi-tasking capabilities. David does the laundry in our house (and I help... sometimes).
6. I like power tools. (Maybe you knew that already.)
7. My hands and lips are always dry because I don't drink enough water and I can never remember to use my lip balm and lotion.

I may have to wait on giving this award to any other bloggers. Most of the blogs I read have already received this award at least once. I promise to forward the award on to anyone less established that I stumble across.


And now I finally have photos of the fleece blazer I made!

I saw this jacket in the June issue of Burda, and I knew this would be a great first try at a blazer. (And since I've been wearing the same red fleece jacket for five years now, I thought I could do with a change.) I was right! It's cozy and soft but slightly sophisticated. I love how the back fits. The front looks better when it is open. I think I could make the darts a little snugger next time. And since this is unabashedly polyester, next time I will make a lining for it out of a slick poly knit. Other changes for the next blazer I make: I will use a thinner fabric for the undercollar and take the turn of fabric into account. That completely slipped my mind this time. I will give myself much more hem allowance on both the sleeves and the bodice (?).

The Beautiful Depression


That's what I would title Ralph Lauren's Spring 2010 collection. I have no idea what anyone else is saying about it because I'm already up too late and only just thought to look.

I love it. I almost always love Ralph Lauren. I want to see someone wear this sheer shirtdress on the red carpet.

45 Minutes Per Day; Sept 21 - Sept 25

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Not much sewn this week, but a significant amount done regardless.

Monday - finished the two practice Backpack Doll Carriers.
Tuesday - hemmed 3 handkerchiefs
Wednesday - made up for lost time: I cut the backpack fabric, the backpack strap filler, and the checkerboard fabric. The rest of the time I spent planning details and figuring the rest of the fabric and notion amounts needed. This was a good use of my time as this kind of thinking takes a bit longer than 45 minutes and requires no interruptions.
Thursday - cut all of the flannel interfacing for both the checkerboards and the backpacks.
Friday - cut new fabric for the backpack straps and began working on the bias binding for the checkerboards.

That's it!

Jalie 2212 nightgown

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I just finished making two muslins of a nightgown for Clara. I used Jalie 2212 to start and then added length and gave it a whirl. As I found out, this pattern was going to take more tweaking.

To begin with the pattern was just too tight even though Clara's measurements are smaller than the smallest size given on the Jalie patterns. It fit in the shoulders, but the armscye was too low and the sleeves pulled funny when she moved. Also, on this pattern, Jalie does not adjust the width of the neckband to be proportional for smaller sizes. So the first muslin looked a bit like a not-quite-mock turtleneck. The neckline was also too tight even though I was using a very stretchy knit.

So, to make up for all of those shortcomings, I made a tuck in the front and back pattern pieces through the armscye, but below the neckline. I just eyeballed it. Then I slashed up the center of the front and back pattern pieces and spread the two apart, making a little dart in the pattern below the armscye. Again, I just eyeballed it. I was going to cut the neckline a little bigger and cut the neckband piece a little smaller, but it occurred to me that I could just take a larger seam allowance and give that a try. Finally, I trimmed off some of the sleeve cap (it is quite high) and then slashed and spread the middle of the sleeve.

All in all it looks pretty good. I accidentally took a larger seam allowance in the sleeves, so they are still quite snug and the neckline still needs to be a bit bigger, so I will need to scoop some out of the pattern and make a slightly longer neckband, but I like the larger seam allowance and in the finished product, I think I will use my twin needle to topstitch around the neck. (Clara also wants a ruffle at the hem.)

Here are the photos!

Muslin 1 and 2
better neckline and fit in arms and wider at hem

Muslin 1 (top) and 2 (bottom)
details of neckline

Adjusted pattern pieces

Sneak Peek! I am waiting for David (or some other responsible adult) to take some decent photos of me in the fleece blazer I finished last week!

45 Minutes Per Day; Sept 14 - Sept 18

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Life got in the way of sewing this week...

Monday I hemmed three handkerchiefs (Whee!)
Tuesday - nothing
Wednesday - I started but didn't finish two practice backpacks.
Thursday - I finished the straps for the two backpacks (and made 1 jar of grape jam/butter)
Friday - nothing

I tried to get more accomplished today, but things just didn't work out that way.

I did realize that I need written instructions for the backpack carriers, so I spent a little time tonight writing it out and I plan to type it up presently.

Fabric Shopping!!

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Yesterday afternoon a friend and I went fabric shopping. I was looking for fabrics to use on the baby doll backpack carriers and the checkerboards.

Here are the lovelies...

These are for checkerboards. I decided to go with a spin on the traditional colours. (I also ran out of time to pick a second colorway.)

These will be used for backpack carriers. I love the teeny floral with the watercolor floral. The teeny floral reminds me of Raggedy Ann. The argyle and tiny circles are cosy and make me laugh at the same time.

Time to make a test of the backpack carriers and see if I still remember how to do it!

Oh, last night I counted all of the handkerchiefs that I have cut and ready to hem. 41 more. That will take 14 more 45 minute sessions to complete. Totally do-able.

45 Minutes Per Day; Sept 7 - Sept 11

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I almost forgot to post this! Nothing terribly exciting this week...

Monday - hemmed 3 handkerchiefs
Tuesday - hemmed 4 handkerchiefs (ran over time, I think 3 is my limit)
Wednesday - sorted through my Backpack Baby Doll Carrier materials from last year. I have enough on hand to make nine carriers. I have yet to decide how many I hope to make.
I also experimented with the quilt binding on the checkerboard again. I think I have figured out that if I want a 1" border, my binding needs to be 4" wide.
Thursday - hemmed 3 handkerchiefs
Friday - I don't remember (forgot to write it down), but I must have hemmed 3 handkerchiefs

I need to count how many handkerchiefs I have cut and figure out how many sewing sessions those will take...

A Wadder of a Sewing Day

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Bleh. Today's sewing adventures were less than stellar.

David needed the van to take Lucy to preschool, so I rode the bus in the rain to the fabric store to buy another half meter of fabric for Peter's hoodie. I did get some stitching removed from my fleece blazer while I was on the bus, so that was good.

I got home, threw the sweatshirting and a few dark towels and sweatshirts into the wash and then got to work on making button hole tests for my fleece blazer. No good. My machine won't make buttonholes in fleece fabric without serious cajoling. It wouldn't move the fabric at all unless I put a piece of tissue paper or quilting cotton between the fleece and the feed dogs. Even then, though, the results were not consistent and the fabric was very difficult to slice through (I don't have one of those button hole chisels).

I grumbled and swore for a bit and was really fairly stymied by the whole thing, then I thought I might try a bound buttonhole. I got about halfway through and just lost patience. I realized that while I was certain that I could make a decent bound buttonhole, I am just not ready to make three nearly identical bound buttonholes.

I think I'll call around to the local fabric shops and see if anyone has large sew-in snaps.

I did manage to also get my 45 minutes of All-Handmade Sale work in, but even that wasn't very exciting. Some days are like this, I guess.

45 Minutes Per Day; Aug 31 - Sept 4

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I am following Summerset's lead. I have decided to try working on the items that I intend to sell at the All-Handmade Sale for 45 minutes every weekday. If my kids were older (and if I were a more experienced sewist) 30 minutes would work for me, too.

Here's what happened this week:

On Monday and Tuesday, life drama abounded and thus I was only able to sew in my mind.

Wednesday is my big sewing day and I made up for the previous two days. I ironed handkerchief fabric, constructed a checkerboard, quilted it, and attempted to bind it.

Thursday I cut out handkerchiefs and ironed last year's unhemmed handkerchiefs.

Friday I sawed checkers. (I'm fond of power tools.)

Pretty good week. I need to figure out that quilt binding. What I hope to do is have about a half inch of binding on the back and about an inch on the front and mitered corners. I'll give it another go Monday.

A Fabric Lament

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I almost did it. I almost purchased fabric online.

Gorgeous Fabrics has this fabric on sale and I went through all the steps of ordering three yards of it (I'm thinking about a gored full skirt for next summer). Then at the last moment I looked at the total. The amount that I saw listed and thought was my total price was actually just the shipping price! The shipping was going to cost more than the fabric!

I just couldn't do it. Bleh.

Wednesday Sewing; Jalie 2795, part 4

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I accomplished a lot today.

The sewing day began with a quick trip to the local fabric store to pick up some trim for Peter's hoodie. He alerted me yesterday that he would like to have stripes on his jacket. He wanted orange, yellow, and black stripes down the sleeves, so I set out to see what I could find. This is what we settled on:

That's three rows of some sort of polyester braid, that I glued and stitched together and then stitched to his sleeves. (Note the glue stick on the window sill.) I was feeling pretty proud of my work until I began to attach the sleeves to the body pieces. I kept holding out hope until I attached the first collar piece. Somebody forgot to make sure the stripe location was even at the top of the sleeve. Check out the wonky stripes below.

This is not all that terribly noticeable if you are on his level. It is noticeable if you are an adult and happen to be looking down at his shoulders. The stripe looks like it goes diagonally through his neck rather than straight across. I shall have to work hard to resist straightening his shoulders. I am not going to fix it, because picking out the stitching would likely result in wrecking the trim.

In other sewing news, the All-Handmade Sale will be happening again in November and it's time for folks like me to start making plans. This year I intend to make baby doll backpack carriers, handkerchiefs, bookmarks, and maybe checkers sets. I tried my hand at making a checkerboard today out of some leftover quilting cotton. I had sketched out a plan some weeks ago. It went together fairly quickly until I got to the binding part. That's going to require a bit more research.

Not bad for my first attempt at strip piecing and quilting!

Jalie 2795, part 3

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Today I was able to squeeze in a fair bit more sewing on Peter's hoodie.

This morning, I pinned all the main body pieces together. This was no quick process since the hoodie has raglan sleeves and thus requires the sleeves to be pinned in and the sleeves themselves have four pieces each. Here is Peter cautiously trying it on. He got stuck a couple of times, but did try to smile for the camera.

Mostly I was checking for fit around his body and around his arms. I added an extra half inch to the seam allowances on each piece before cutting, just to give me more wiggle room if I needed to let something out. (Jalie adds only quarter inch seam allowances.) The seam allowances sticking out make it difficult to actually see the fit in this photo, but I did let the sides out a bit. I think the rest will fit fine (I will pin fit the hood, when we get to that point), though the sleeves will be a bit long.

This afternoon I sewed the sleeves. Peter helped. He was nervous about guiding the fabric through, but he was excited to press the pedal. We managed several seams and overcast several raw edges together before he lost interest and went to watch our housemate changing the brake pads on his bike.

This evening, I worked on the main body pieces and the pockets. Here is one pocket welt attached to one of the front pieces.

And here are both fronts with the pockets fully assembled. Not too bad for a first try.

Jalie 2795

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Here is the progress on Peter's hoodie. On Saturday, he and I pinned most of the pattern pieces in place and I traced and cut them. My blue chalk works very well on this red cotton sweatshirting.

This afternoon, we pinned and I traced and cut the last pieces. Or so I thought. I'm very glad I laid them all out for this picture, because I then stacked them all up in order and realized that I hadn't noticed that I needed to cut two of one piece (on the fold). I think I have enough fabric to do it tonight.

But it's no wonder that I missed something. Do you see all these pieces? And each one has a second one underneath it (or it is cut on the fold). Let me tell you cotton sweatshirting is not the easiest thing to cut through - especially across the grain. I'm glad that's (almost) done.

Burda 06-2009-114 Fleece Jacket

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I have some progress to report on my fleece jacket. To review, I am making this jacket (adding length), but instead of using sweatshirting, I am using fleece.

Here are photos of the front and back on me. I need to thread trace the center front lines and then check the fit. The front looks a little boxy and loose in the photo (but then again, I am a little boxy in the front...)

Now since this is an unlined, casual jacket, I am wondering how to finish the seams. I do not have a serger, but I could overcast the edges with a zig zag stitch. I could also give them a Hong Kong finish (although that seems like a lot of work). I still have to select a lining fabric for the pockets, so I could choose something that I could use to finish the seam allowances.

Center back seam with darts on either side

Sewists! I need opinions and advice here!

Here is what Clara decided to do at the water park on Tuesday (when she wasn't filling her shoe with water and then drinking it).

New Camera!

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David's family is visiting this week and I decided that I had let enough time go by without a camera. So I called my friend who understands cameras and she took me shopping.

We are now the owners of a Panasonic Lumix and none of our children will get to use it. If it remains unscathed, I am able to return it for up to two weeks, if I decide that I don't like it much.

To celebrate, here is a photo of David, Peter, and our new, non-smelly freezer (new as in brand new from Sears).

Also, here is a picture of my new, slightly messy sewing space. (I thought about waiting until my sewing space was super-tidy to post a photo, but that may not happen any day soon.)

Knit dresses for me and the girls

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On Wednesday this week I traced off this Jalie pattern to make a top for myself, thinking that I had enough fabric left over from another shirt (that didn't work out). Alas, I did not have enough fabric. I probably did have enough of the black with white and grey circles left over, but thought it would be odd and noticeable if I had two shirts in the same print.

Then I got to thinking that this shirt would make a good bodice for a dress. I could try to add a full skirt to make a dress for me and tiers of fabric to make spinny dresses for the girls. Surprisingly no one on Pattern Review has posted a review doing this. We shall see how it goes.

And here's a funny thing. I measured both of the girls so I would know which sizes to trace. Fortunately, I'm in no great hurry as I do not have enough fabric (and Lucy has plenty of knit dresses for fall), unlike Kristy. But I did come to a conclusion surprisingly similar to Kristy's.

Check this out:
Lucy (age 4): bust 49; waist 47; hips 51; arm length 34; back neck to waist 23
Clara (age 2): bust 47; waist 47; hips 51.5; arm length 29; back neck to waist 23
Jalie (size F/2): bust 53; waist 51; hips 56; (no other measurements given)

I measured in centimeters since that is how Jalie patterns are designed. Both of my girls measure smaller than the smallest size given and they only significantly differ from each other in arm length.

Still Photoless Update

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Hello all!

I have a sewing area set up now and spent a good chunk of Wednesday working on a fleece blazer. I also traced out a Jalie top to try out, but then discovered that I did not have enough knit fabric left over - so a trip to the fabric store is in order. Bummer. (I mean, twist my arm, right?)

Someday soon I need to investigate digital cameras. We have got to get a new one.

Tonight I tried to watch the season opener of Project Runway, but Lifetime is not available on our housemates' cable company (I'm not all that certain that Lifetime is even available in Canada). I sent a message to the folks at Lifetime to see what they have to say about the matter. But I was seriously disappointed. My housemates have something like 600 channels, but no Lifetime. Boo.

The Square Project


Here's a neat request for money - and a worthwhile cause if you are interested in fashion/clothing construction.

(I have a weak spot for math nerds...)



Sewing withdrawals, that is. I'm starting to get a little twitchy. I do have a shirt to hem, but there's no good place to set up my machine while the kids are awake in our current space.

And one of my beloved children (who has been forgiven and, therefore, shall remain anonymous) dropped our digital camera on its lens. The camera did not survive. I think I'll buy a new one rather than search Craigslist for one.

And the smallish chest freezer we bought from someone on Craigslist smells bad. We have cleaned it all out, but we think it is the insulation in the lid (and the cracked plastic covering said insulation) that is the source of the stink and needs to be replaced.

Spanish Tortillas

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Tonight we made Spanish tortillas using a recipe from Issue 99 of Cook's Illustrated. Oh, my, were they ever good!

Here are photos (sorry they are over exposed, I was in a hurry to not kill anything)...

Peter and Lucy's tortilla. Just eggs, potatoes and onions(don't tell them about the onions - they don't know).

Clara's, David's, and my tortilla before I attempted to flip it...

...and after the flip and slide back into the pan. If you look closely, you can see where it broke and got churned up... about 4 o'clock on the pan.

And a parting shot from Monday's trip to the Abbotsford Agrifair. This is what my super-feminine fashionista Lucy looks like while eating a chocolate ice cream cone. It's a good reminder that she is only four and a half years old after all.