Tag Archive | sewing patterns

December 18: happy

This afternoon, I’ve been adjusting a blouse pattern to fit me in the hopes that I can get it sewn before Sunday (y’know, to wear with that sparkly skirt). I like the challenge; I like to see it come together. Right now working on this is making me happy. If I can’t figure out how to translate what I’ve achieved in tissue paper into real life, it may be another story, though…

Why yes, that is a duct tape dress form.

Why yes, that is a duct tape dress form.

More thrift store fun

A trip to the thrift store is great entertainment for me. I don’t even necessarily have to have something in mind in order to have fun poking through all the weird and wonderful things there. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to do much browsing on my own since having kids and Granota and Konik don’t enjoy it nearly as much as I do. They grumble and complain and try to do headers out of the cart just to escape the horrible monotony of watching Maman shop. And, because I’ve always got them with me, I can’t take the time to examine clothing and try things on, so I stick to the outer fringes of the store. But that’s ok. That’s where the books and sewing patterns and notions and other odds and ends are.

I went to two different stores last Wednesday (and Granota and Konik thought they would surely die of boredom) and didn’t find much, but I am excited about the few things I did bring home. First, two sewing patterns. They are uncut and still factory folded. I really like that skirt with the inverted pleats. The suit on the left intrigued me. I’m not sure I would ever make it or ever wear something like that, but you never know. And, at only 99 cents, why take the chance on regret?

By “New Look” I believe we mean “90s Look.” Not that that’s a bad thing.

Next, I found this book: Complete Home Crafts by Miranda Innes. This is my kind of book. The aesthetic doesn’t always match my own, but the projects in and of themselves are great for inspiration. And there are some I really gravitate towards.

I really, really want to do this

Kind of a sucker for citrus in the kitchen

Pretty and useful

I think what I love most about this book is that the majority of these projects are beautiful and practical. I love to be surrounded by beautiful things, but how much better if they are things I can actually use or that serve some purpose? That’s a win-win right there. Why have just a TV tray when you can have a built-in checkerboard (ok, painted) right on it?! I already have a very nice checkerboard, but what else could I put on that TV tray…? Hm, gets the wheels turning. There are all kinds of step-by-step projects including lampshades, cushions and throw blankets, stenciling, collages, decoupage… I want to do it all! Need a place of my own first, though. Humph. In the meanwhile, I’ll daydream.

I likes it

The other book I got is called Making Patterns from Finished Clothes by Rusty Bensussen. Currently, I can’t think of one RTW piece in my closet that is worth the time and effort to copy. In all actuality, most of the store-bought stuff really needs to be turned over to the rag basket, but I have to keep them in the rotation, otherwise I’d be nekkid 5 days of the week. Notwithstanding the pitiful state of my wardrobe, you just never know when a book like this might come in handy. It seems like a great reference to have around! I think the information on drafting patterns will make it worth the whole $3 I spent on it.

Coming up next week: A blue cardigan I crocheted!

Sewing Paralysis and Axl Rose

Well, after the triumph of my Zebra in the Jungle blouse, I was all fired up to do some more sewing for myself. I got out another blouse pattern, looked at it and decided it was too much of a hassle for that particular day. Got out a dress pattern, cut out all the tissue pieces, and changed my mind about that, too. Don’t get me wrong, I do like these patterns, and I will make them sooner rather than later. I just have to be in the right mood for it. Some days I enjoy the more technical aspects of sewing and other days I just want to churn something out. The Jungle blouse satisfied the latter criteria and, apparently I had an appetite for more (Appetite for Construction, haha! Yes, I’m lame), but no fabric for it. Alas. Feeling the desire to sew, I pulled out other patterns, other fabric, and yet, I wasn’t really feeling it. What happens then is a state of paralysis. I can’t move; I can’t move forward; I stare out the window; nothing gets done.

Now, I actually did accomplish something crafty last week, but I can’t talk about it yet, because it is a surprise for the recipient. Once I know she has received it, then I’ll post about it. I have also been crocheting on Granota’s Cuddle Muffin jumper, but it’s not worth posting pictures of just yet.

I have to admit that the majority of my time this week was spent extensively researching Axl Rose. No, I am not a crazy stalker. Axl’s not going to have to worry about me showing up at his house and hiding in the bushes. See, there’s this thing about me that my mom described as “intense phases of interest” in a letter to my grandma when I was in high school. That was twenty years ago (holy cow!) and things really haven’t changed. When something catches my interest, I develop a ravenous hunger to absorb every bit of information I can unearth through any medium available to me. It is intense until I reach the point where I feel that I’ve learned everything I possibly can or I finally get bored of the subject. Past topics have included nutrition (that lasted for 2 years), the Trojan War, the French Revolution, the Three Musketeers series, Phantom of the Opera, and there have been plenty of “smaller” topics along the way that don’t take as long to satiate me. This voracious drive to learn is the reason I speak French today.

Once Granota started sporting her bandana à la Axl, my interest was piqued and once that happens, everything else comes to a halt. I nearly feel qualified to write a biography on the man after all of this research. Since that’s really not the point of this blog, I’m not going to write about everything that I learned pertaining to Axl Rose, but I will say that my impression and understanding of him have radically changed to the point where I don’t think he is nearly the villain that he has always been portrayed to be. If you have questions, I’ll be happy to answer since I think Mr. Gren is probably about fed up with the daily oral reports I’ve been giving him. And you’ll be happy to know that, while I’m not done with Axl, I do feel like I’ve quenched that initial hunger to where I’ll actually be able to focus on something else this week. I’ve got a dress cut out on my sewing table, so hopefully something on that for Wednesday! In the meanwhile, you can watch this video of what I think is Axl’s most powerful song, “Estranged.” The depth of emotion he conveys sends chills down my spine.

And, on the severely minuscule chance that Axl ever stumbles across my puny blog:
Axl, I get you. Most people don’t, but most people haven’t taken the time. I know you like art; take me to Paris and I can give you some great tours. My husband’s a pastor; I think he’d make an excellent chaplain and a loyal friend. But in all seriousness, I pray that someday you find the peace and love you’ve been searching for your whole life. I’ll give you a hint: all those crucifixes you collect will show you the way.

Welcome to the Jungle

We’ve been on a little Guns n’ Roses kick around here lately since Granota decided to start styling herself like Axl Rose (without any previous knowledge of his existence). Now she likes to rock out to various GNR hits and we’ve all had an endless medley playing in our brains. There are worse things.

Ok, so Axl didn’t wear pink ballerina slippers on his black t-shirts.

Last week, I began working on the second of my spring/summer blouses. The fabric is a rayon challis print (possibly my favorite fabric to work with and wear!). Granota commented that I was going to look like a zebra. I pointed at the foliage on the print and said I’d look like a zebra walking in the jungle. I don’t know what zebras are doing in the jungle (you’re gonna DIIIIIE!), but I love how colorful it all is. And really, this is going out on a limb for me. {gasp} Red? And orange? Good thing there’s a heavy dose of teal to balance it all out for me.

The pattern I used is McCall’s 6563. Basically a t-shirt with a drapey front neckline treatment. It consists of two whole pieces. As I was pulling them out I thought, this is either going to be genius or a major mess.

With just two pieces, there’s not a lot of tricky construction. The drapey front is just an extended portion of the front neckline that falls inward. Easy. This style was also a little bit of a departure from anything I’ve worn, but that’s ok because my style — as it were — definitely needs an infusion of visual interest.

All in all, I think I like this top. I made it in a medium based on my measurements, but really, I think I could take it down to small. I ended up cutting off two inches from the hem (not to mention the mullet hem in the back) because it hit me in a weird place. Also, the armholes come down a little farther than I would prefer. I wore a camisole under it today and that made me feel safer.

So here I am, a zebra in the jungle.

(And, as an added bonus, the white eyelet skirt that I made a couple years ago after seeing one in the mall that I liked. Mr. Gren was trying to convince me to twirl, but the deck is insanely slippery and I really didn’t want to end up on my ne-ne-ne-ne knees, knees!)

The hole in my wardrobe

My wardrobe is all kinds of pathetic. Having three children in the space of four years does dreadful things to a body and to add insult to injury, said small children can do a pretty number on whatever clothing you do manage to  squeeze into. With the exception of the items I’ve made this year, nearly everything else in my closet needs replaced. Stretched out, spit up on, smeared with spaghetti sauce hands… the list goes on. I’ve decided that I’m tired of looking like a schlump. Just because I have three small children, doesn’t mean I need to look like a hobo. Now that the baby is nearing his second birthday, I feel like we’re emerging from the worst of their destructive tendencies towards my clothing. This is when they start trashing their own clothes. (As long as I keep dressing them in $1 pillowcases from the thrift store, they can have at it and my blood pressure won’t spike.)

With the knowledge that my wardrobe needs a complete overhaul, I had to identify the most glaring deficiency, and that turned out to be tops. Inventory reveals:

  • A few t-shirts from my pre-pregnancy days. While I can physically wear these shirts, they’re only slightly less indecent than if I had gone out with nothing at all.
  • One sheer blouse that I bought purposely long to hide my post-partum belly right after Granota (baby #2) was born because I needed something for a Christmas event. I could probably salvage this one by shortening it, but I think I’ve decided that I don’t actually like this one enough to go to the trouble.
  • A blouse that I sewed back before I realized that I need to make a long torso adjustment on just about everything. It barely hits at my hips, so the slightest arm movement and whoop! I’m Britney Spears.
  • Four kind of/ok t-shirts that have to pretend they’re “nice” shirts.

Clearly, this is a problem. I have a few skirts and no real viable options to pair with them. I dug around in a sackful of fabric that I bought long, long ago and found a nice lightweight blue cotton with textured ovals. I used Butterick 4609 — just a nice, basic button-up shirt.

I’m awfully proud of how this one turned out. Since the fabric is semi-sheer, I really took my time. I enclosed all my seams, so it looks just as good on the inside as it does on the outside. Then, when all I had left to do was buttonholes and buttons, my sewing machine died. Yes, I know there is a way to do buttonholes by hand, but there was no way I was going to ruin my perfect shirt by trying out a technique I had never used before. I got my machine back a couple weeks ago and finally got the buttonholes in and just sewed on all the buttons (ten!) this weekend. Today I got to wear a decent-looking shirt! It’s a happy day.

Just a little bright out

Is that a nice collar or what?

Darts! And some wrinkles.

Mama said there’d be days like this

Today was supposed to have been a good day. After Mr. Gren was gone all day yesterday, I was looking forward to having him corral the kids so I could get some sewing done. Last week, a friend said she would pay me to make two baby dresses for her new granddaughter; I showed her my patterns, she chose the views that she liked and I bought the fabric and lace last Saturday. This morning, all I needed to do was attach one sleeve, hem the skirt and do the buttons and buttonholes; then I would be ready to move on to the second dress. Before I had even gotten out of bed, though, plans were already changing: Mr. Gren remembered that he was supposed to help mow the church lawn today at 10. {sigh}

At 11, Mr. Gren was done mowing and I escaped to my sewing room. The sleeve went on fine, the hem and lace looked great. And then it all started going downhill. While attempting to pry The World’s Tiniest Buttons off their little card, I stabbed myself with my seam ripper. Luckily, I didn’t bleed on anything important.

Scene of the tragedy

I ran downstairs to get a band-aid (oh, I mean a Kroger Sterile Adhesive Bandage) and then headed back up to sew on The World’s Tiniest Button. Funny, I had never noticed how much I use my left thumb — threading a needle, knotting the thread, holding on the dang button while I sewed — all this became much more difficult. I did prevail in the end, but that’s the end of my sewing for the day.

One finished dainty baby dress

I put away the pattern I was working from and went to get out the pattern for the second dress, thinking I could at least get the fabric cut before lunch. But I couldn’t find it! I had had it just two days ago, where the heck had it gone? Shuffling through my patterns, I was relieved to finally find it, right where it should have been. I dumped it out and thought to myself that those pattern pieces looked awfully familiar. Upon closer inspection, I realized they were the ones from the first dress. I studied the pattern envelope, thinking I must be losing my mind, and wondering which one of those dresses I had just made. After a minute, I realized that the envelope to match those pieces was stuck neatly on my message board — the place where I always stick the pattern I’m currently working on. I really did think I had gotten enough sleep last night…

The elusive pattern

Now, with the correct pattern pieces in hand, I began to search through them to find the 12 month size. 18 month front, 18 month sleeve, 18 month back… What’s going on here? My friend had asked me to make her dresses in approximately 6 month and 9 month sizes; I didn’t have a 9 month, but I figured the 12 month would be close enough. Why isn’t it here? I flipped over the pattern envelope and saw something I had never noticed before: It was solely an 18 month pattern. No additional sizes, despite the fabric requirement listings on the back. 9 and 12 month are pretty close; 9 and 18 month are nowhere close and I’m not comfortable enough sizing down patterns, especially when someone’s paying me for my work. What to do, what to do…

I flipped through my fabric store flyers to see if anyone had patterns on sale this week and it turns out that Hancock’s does have Simplicity for $1.99. Not a stellar deal, but it’s pretty good. I also found this weird image. Still trying to figure that one out. Before I waste my time heading down there, I decided to check the Simplicity website and see whether they’ve even got anything similar to this pattern anymore. I came downstairs to learn that the kids had had a free-for-all while Mr. Gren was washing the dishes. Konik had crawled up onto the secretary and found some highlighters. The girls were happy to relieve him of them and then proceeded to color all over one of my idea notebooks and Rana autographed her rainboots. After that, Konik dowsed the notebook with water, pulled my crochet hook out of another project I’ve been working on and dragged yarn out of the bag it was in. The notebook is drying out, but I still haven’t found my crochet hook. Simplicity does not carry a style like this, and, my band-aid is already peeling off. Is 4:30 too early to go back to bed?

ETA: Before I could even get this posted, Konik chewed up a mouthful of animal crackers and then spit them out all over the carpet. Nice.