Thursday, December 24, 2015

Final Project of 2015

Sooooo, it's not quite finished because my machine has gone on strike and is refusing to do buttonholes.  Don't know why.  Maybe just a tension problem.  I can try to do them by hand if I don't want to wait 'til my friend comes back from vacation to use her machine.

Evidence of crazy buttonhole:

The two I did just before were more or less okay, given the fact that my machine does crappy buttonholes, generally speaking:

Anyhow, this is my third time using pattern New Look 6104.  Here I combined it with sleeves from Simplicity 2365.  Speaking of, I took me at least three tries per sleeve to do the insertions of the sleeve heads.  I guess this is what happens when one takes a long sewing break.  Makes me want to flat-insert them next time.  We'll see.

This was started in February and then put on the backburner when I realized I had incorrect pattern placement for the button placket.  I'm on vacation for the winter holidays and I decided to try to finish this up in 2015!  Now the buttons are stopping me, or more properly, the buttonholes. 

After lots of eating and drinking this evening, we'll see how movitated I am in the few remaining days of would be nice to put this project to bed.

Here are the buttons I chose, from stash:

I had additional complications because of my rounded upper back, or Lady Turtle, as Rochelle calls it.  This was not a problem on my previous two incarnations; I think this fabric must be stiffer.

 I tried putting in darts along the back neckline, but that just made it worse.  This was not even wearable under a cardigan though (believe me, had it been, I would've left it as is, no problem), so I decided to try scooping out the back neckline, since it laid flat lower down the back.

I drew a curve with my handy special ruler:

 And, pre-bias tape neckline treatment, it looked like a big improvement.

 And it passed the under-the-cardigan test after I applied the bias tape...

 It still has a slight up-tick when worn solo, but it's much better and I doubt I'll wear it solo very often.  So I'll call that a fix.

 There is another problem, which I did not fix.  Due to one of my shoulders slumping more than the other, I have a wrinkle in the front.  I think I could fix it by making the seam allowance bigger to sorta pull up the fabric.

You can see the problem here on the right side facing:

 It's exaggerated because of the movement with my other arm, but it would be there nonetheless.  After three or four attempts at inserting the sleeve head, I didn't have it in me to rip that all out and adjust the shoulder seam.  So, I'll try that next time.

 Otherwise, after all that, it's nearly nearly finished.

Why oh why buttonholes?!?  'Til the next time - keep safe and happy holidays everyone!!

P.S.  What's up with the crazy spacing with Blogger?  It doesn't represent what I typed and seems impossible to fix!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Steampunk in Nantes

This is a follow-up on my Halloween prep. blog entry.  BUT it's not photos of the Halloween party!  We went to Nantes this weekend and I took advantage of the visit to reuse some elements from the Halloween costume and do a little steampunk photo session at Les Machines de l'Ile, a Jules Verne-based mini theme-park in the city.  You can check out their website at

I'm the photographer here, so you won't see my costume featured.  But I made the hat decoration, the jabot, and I spraypainted the waistcoat. ;)

The hat decroation took me the longest.  You saw the preparation in the last blog entry.  It took a while for the waistcoat to dry, but the spraypainting part was fast.  However, it really only looks good from far away.  Lots of to be expected from spraypainting an old waistcoat!

And the jabot was simply glued together (it was down to the wire, folks!) using bits of old lace, and then just folded to the appropriate width and pinned on the shirtcollar.

In front of the massive carrousel:

Now overlooking an old vessel in the Loire river, Nantes being an important port on the Atlantic.   I highly recommend visiting the city - there was some very cool stuff to see and do!

The model taking a break, with his very non-steam-based-technology cellular phone:

The only things sewed in this endeavor were some decorative buttons.  Oh the magic of glue!

I took so many photos it was hard to choose!  So I made collages to comprise.  OK, OK, one nice, last close-up:

Bisous from Nantes!!!!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween Preparations

Not doing much sewing for our Halloween costumes, but I have gotten up to some other craftiness.  Let's start with my materials...

 Which were transformed as if by magic by this product:

Et voila...

Combined with some trappings in my craft closet...

I made several design attempts...

with the help of discerning cats...

 before finally settling on something:

I think today's picture-heavy post makes up for last time.  Happy Halloween everyone!!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The computer is dead, long live the tablet

Only, not really 'cuz I hate typing on my tablet! Reading is ok, but typing is a hassle. I just had to correct four typos in that last sentence, gah!

Anyhow, part of my blog silence is due to computer death. I still don't have a replacement. Its absence has showed me just how dependent we are. You need a computer to do so so so many things nowadays. You call a company for information and they tell you to go to their website ... and don't give you the info you need. Ok, end old lady rant.

So I still have no finished projects, unless you count coloring, which I've been doing lots of. So in lieu of a show and tell, I'm going to share with you my Halloween costume plans. I've decided to throw a Halloween party for the first time in France. It falls on a Saturday this year, can't pass up that opportunity.

I've decided to go steampunk. I'm using some things I already have in my closet: boots, stockings, a top, a skirt and some jewelry. So I need/would like to buy a corset or fake corset, a wig and maybe some accessories.  Plus we're doing matchy-matchy as the hosts, so my boyfriend needs a waistcoat and a hat and a shirt. He has some suitable accessories already and the pants and shoes are good to go.

We don't have time to fashion our costumes ourselves from whole cloth, so I am looking to buy some stuff. I discovered this French-based company - - which has cute stuff but is a little more than I'd like to pay. Incidentally, they also have rockabilly and swing style stuff too. An interesting site.

While trawling the internet I noticed that Walmart - Walmart!  - sells steampunk stuff. I guess I didn't realize how mainstream it is! seems like the costumes for guys are less elaborate. It's more about the accessories...

I have no pictures as of yet and in any case I'm having a devil of a time trying to load anything up here. Must be a slow internet connection. But I will leave you will a podcast recommendation:  About NYC history and excellent excellent excellent!!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Looking Back at My Me-Mades: the Madras Shirt

Here's a bit of rambling wardrobe analysis, focusing on one particular item in my wardrobe...

I still regularly wear most of the sweaters and scarves and hats that I've knit for myself over the years, but most of the garments I've sewn have bit the dust.  I still (nearly weekly) wear two tops in spring/summer.  And in winter, I have two skirts and a jersey top that I'm faithful to.  But all the others have gone, baby gone!

So I wanted to take a moment to compose a visual ode to the most-worn garment in my wardrobe, a much-beloved version of Simplicity 2501 that I made two years ago, from some martiniquais madras that a friend gave me.

I noticed how often I wear it because it kept popping up in my vacation pictures!

A view of the back...

And here's another picture taken about a month later - the same outfit!  I'm sweating it out at the Nashville Tomato Festival:

I realize that I'm dressed in tomato colors...this was completely unplanned.  I could've competed in the "tomato" fashion competition I suppose, but it was too hot to do anything but guzzle water and walk listlessly around the stands.

This is frankly not my best quality work.  It was a rush job - I seem to remember needing a tank top before vacation because the temperature skyrocketed.  The hemming is particularly awful and I have to pay careful attention when I iron it so that the inside part stays inside!! 

But I love this top.  I think it represents a lot of my style and personality with the colors and the plaid and the big crazy glass buttons.  It has my two favorite shades of green!  And frankly it's really easy to wear - definitely comfortable, yet flattering (I think).

I can dress it down in jeans or dress it up a bit like I'm doing in these photos.  It is inconvenient in that I have to iron it, but I love it so much that I iron that sucker nearly every week!  Plus I can layer it with a cardigan when the weather turns colder.  This is just a BIG BIG winner.  And such sloppy sewing, ha!  I suppose I could redo the hem, but you know I'm not doing that!

I had just enough of this fabric to squeeze out a tank top and I certainly didn't expect to be wearing it this often.  I will be sad when I have to retire it!  What about you?  Any sewing surprises?  Anything you unexpectedly end up wearing A LOT?  Ever had a love affair with a shirt? ;)

I think this says it all about me and my shirt:

Enjoy the weekend!!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

No F.O.s ... but some dancing

July was a fail for blogging!  I have no finished crafting projects to share, but I have been doing quite a bit of this:

And there I am in my new red pants that I love (store-bought, alas!):


Even in the rain during the Joan of Arc festival (I'm the photographer):

Happy August everybody!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Another Embroidered Necklace from Red Gate Stitchery

Small projects are my friends.  I just completed another necklace from Red Gate Stitchery.  I may prefer this one to the other one; I haven't decided yet.

It's in "my" colors. :) Happy, bold, festive colors.

This is what it looks like worn:

Nothing much to say here.  No broken needles this time, but I had already figured out to reduce the thread count, so to speak.  I started out crossing over one way (following the pattern) and then switched automatically to my normal way of doing it after a few stitches.  Of course I didn't notice 'til the end.  As it's for me, I left it as is.  Can't be bothered!

Have a good weekend everybody! :)

Friday, June 12, 2015

A Quilt? In progress...

The idea of putting in the zipper for my shirt is daunting me.  But I have caught a sewing bug.  So I decided just to sew straight lines.  The best way to do this seemed to make a quilt!  I have lots of fabric scraps - time to use those suckers up!!

So, I have started what will be my first quilt.  I made a pillow once, like 20 years ago, but I don't think that counts.

I didn't want something complicated.  No triangles.  So I chose the Blissful Quilt by Pat Bravo.  It's all rectangles - perfect!

As I am sewing with my scraps, the color scheme is completely different to her suggestions.  Here's what I decided upon:

I'm having fun even during the cutting process, so that's a good sign!

I would've preferred to use the flowery fabric for one of the bigger rectangles, but I just didn't have enough fabric.  So I am forced to use it on a smaller piece, which I feel like is too bad 'cuz the beauty of the print is lost a bit on such a small piece.  Oh well.

Here are my first two rows assembled:

That's lots of brown, but I'm pleased so far! ;)  many many rows to go!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Fabric Obsession

I am surfing a high of fabric inspiration right now.  I'm loving all the American Southwest (and/or Mexican) designs that are available right now.  I'm sure in two years (two seasons??) the trend will be over, but the colors and motifs speak to my heart, as someone who grew up in Arizona.  I just want to BUY ALL OF THEM!!  But that's not really an option.

So, instead, please feast your eyes and enjoy looking (but not touching) with me:

Many of the above are from April Rhodes' collections, either Wanderer or Bound.  I actually purchased the Mesa Lawn (bone white with little blue diamonds) which is manufactured by Cotton + Steel and designed by Alexia Abegg.  And from the collage below I purchased the striped print (you can see it in my work-in-progress from my previous post), which is from the Geometric Bliss collection by Art Gallery, designed by Jeni Baker.

So, two down, many many to go, ha! 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Yikes, already!

So, obviously I decided not to join in Me-Made-May this year!  I tried to transform it into a Me-Making-May, to focus on giving myself time to create instead of focusing on using what I have made (of which very little is left).  Only toward the end of the month have I been successful.  Wait, that's not true, I have been regularly knitting.  But only this weekend have I managed to get out the sewing machine.

Wait, again that's not true!  But on my first attempt at the beginning of the month I did a big oopsie and that set me back and demoralised me a bit.  Because, you see, I cut out my fabric upside down!  On a directional print!  Yesss...*that* mistake.  And then I spent several weeks trying to figure out how to work with it and fix it.  In the end I decided to change fabrics and projects because nothing I was coming up with to 'save the project' was inspiring me.

So, here's my sewing project in process: guess which pattern??

I am absolutely in love with my chosen fabrics.  I have some doubts about the finished project though.  I think there are some fitting issues.  This is my first project off the bench for probably a year, so I would just like it to be wearable.  I previously had fitting issues with another top I tried to make from this company, so it may just be that the drafting is not going to work for me without lots of tweaking.  And I don't have the energy to do that when, frankly, Simplicity and New Look and Burda patterns fit me pretty darn well with minimal tweaking.  I may just have to swear off tops from this company, but I hope this one turns out okay!!

And my knitting efforts have been going toward the Elemental Boatneck by Hannah Fettig.  I really hope this one turns out, as the finished model in the magazine looks gorgeous and feels very 'me.'  I am quite enjoying the stitch so far.  I have made some mistakes, but they don't really show, another plus in my book!!

See?  I am dutifully working on it... I'm using Cascade Yarns Ultra Pima (cotton) and boy does the stuff ever pill like crazy!!  I regularly have to cut off these little balls that accumulate and gunk up my working yarn.  So, we'll see how it wears after it's finished...

Have a good week everyone!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Visit to Fontainebleau

A non-crafting post!!

I finally made it to Fontainebleau after several abortive attempts!  And it was a gorgeous, sunny day to boot. :)

I'm not wearing anything me-made and there's really no crafting angle whatsoever.  I could've taken photos of some of Napoloeon's clothing (the château houses a Napoleon museum, because among things, he abdicated here before going to Elba), but I have a real aversion to taking photos of objects behind glass.  So the only arts and craft angle is to enjoy the beautiful carvings and paintings, etc.

Here's one outside courtyard (my favorite because it was lush and had secret paths...which, regrettably I didn't take any photos of!):

A close-up on the statute...this château was previously used as a hunting lodge.  Try to picture it...

I particularly wanted to visit this castle because of its link to François I, who spent a lot of time here.  Or more specifically, because of its link to his sister - Marguerite de Navarre, author of L'Heptaméron, one of my favorite books.  Some of the stories in the book describe noblemen trying to seduce women in the gardens and I can easily imagine the scene in a garden such as above. 

I've mentioned Marguerite de Navarre before, but if she's unfamiliar to you, I strongly suggest at least checking out the wikipedia page.

Here's the François I gallery:

It's like la Galerie des Glaces at Versailles, except no mirrors, ha!

And here's François I's symbol (the salamander):

Some more pictures from the gallery:

Check out this amazing door with a Gorgon's head:

 Here's a close-up:

And some more views:

Finally, outside for gelato and sun and French gardens:

I love that shirt I'm wearing (and the boots!) and I wear it every week.  This one is RTW, but I definitely need to make another one with some chambray or something. 

Hope it's nice and sunny where you are this weekend!  :)