Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Hummingbird Skirt

Way back in the spring I participated in the Hummingbird sewalong, and did manage to complete the skirt. I love it, it's stretch denim. I have worn it so many times over the summer despite the waist being a bit large, it's really become a staple. I see more of these in different fabrics for sure. Seriously! (I even wore it the other day with my favourite sweater and tights, it was only 4°C)

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That invisible zip was the best I’ve ever done. Practice sure does make perfect. But the skirt was a tad too short, so I added a band/binding to the hem with the same fabric as the pocket lining. I also did the top but I had some fit issues. I’ll have to check out some of the other tops from sewistas with similar figures.

In the end I had to leave it to work on other paid work (a slip cover for an armchair that I'll show later), which I only just finished yesterday. Thank God. This was the biggest “escapade” in sewing I’ve ever done! The hours spent on this were HUGE. (Yes, I DID do pattern matching, especially on the skirt pieces. Ugh.)

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In non-sewing news, I'm half way through my second course (of 4) in Web Analytics. Now that Henry is in school all day I can start to catch up, albeit this is a new track for me (not software development). Next year, hopefully this winter, I'll find a job before my husband's contract ends. Oh did I forget to mention that? He had been out of work for 14 months, and started a contract in August filling in for a woman on maternity leave. I'm hoping she does what I did, and decide she'd rather stay home for another year (although in my case it was another 5+ years!)

Anyway, that's it for now. I'll post more updates in a couple of weeks in between my courses, because I have actually been busy in the sewing room! I have to show you my shift dresses, self-drafted from my dress-form. I just don’t have any photos of them right now!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Running Belt (with tutorial)

The day before Ottawa Race weekend (last week) my husband and I went to pick up our kits (me the 5K and he the marathon). While we were there we checked out the booths at the Expo, and this is where I saw the FlipBelt running belt. It is cool! After looking at one for a bit, I wondered if I could make this.

The neat thing about this belt is that there are 3 ways you can wear it, I’ve just pictured it here in 2 ways. The third way is to flip it with the slot openings on the inside (first pic) hence the name, so everything is totally secure.

My copy of the FlipBelt

My copy of the FlipBelt

Right after I got home I went to Fabricland and scoured the place for some really thick polyester knit. I have no idea what else you’d use this stuff for, it’s a pretty bright lemon/lime colour. Not quite as thick as the real FlipBelt, but good enough.

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I also found some dark grey, sturdy, stretchy stuff (nylon?) that feels something like Spanx, it has a high lycra content, stretches well but it’s tight and bounces back quickly. It was the best colour/fabric I could find for the contrast piping. Just look at that shine (left side)! I used the more matte side.

Then I spent a few hours thinking about how to make this work!

I measured the width of the phone to make sure I made the belt wide enough for the phone to fit inside. I stretched the yellow fabric (across the grain) to see what the stretch ratio was, it seemed to be about 20% -25% or so. For the back piece, I marked a strip 4/5 (or 80%) of my high hip measurement, and the width of the phone plus 5/8 inch or so (depends on how “thick” your phone is). To check the length, I stretched it around myself, it was snug, but not too tight.

My copy of the FlipBelt

The contrast piping is just 1 inch strips cut to the same length as the back, again aligned across the grain for max stretch. I pressed them along the length before stitching the sandwich, it helped a lot. The two front pieces are the width of the back plus 1 inch HALF the width of the back plus SEAM ALLOWANCE (3/8 - 1/2 inch) for the seam with the 4 openings/slots. (Thanks to Vicki downunder for asking about this!)

My copy of the FlipBelt

I tested the seams with the contrast to see how the serged seam would handle. With 4 layers of the fabrics, and a 4 thread overlock stitch set for heavy knit, it worked perfectly. The other seams I stretch-tested took a LOT longer to get the right settings. I also tested a twin needle top-stitching with hand-wound wooly nylon in the bobbin, and loosened needle tension. A cover stitch would be ideal for this application, but as there are only 2 seams here I didn’t feel like converting my serger to cover stitch and then back again to overlock, too kafuffly!

The layers are sandwiched:

  1. back, RS up
  2. contrast piping, folded edge towards the middle of the back, so raw edges are aligned
  3. front, RS down, raw edges aligned

My copy of the FlipBelt

I just couldn’t help the top layer slipping like that. ARGG! Here the back is serged to one of the fronts. And below you see the second front attached, outside and inside seams.

My copy of the FlipBelt My copy of the FlipBelt

Next the top-stitching, on the back piece.

My copy of the FlipBelt

I also serge finished the front edges with a 3 thread overlock stitch. This was the worst! It took forever trying different settings to get it so the stitching wouldn’t break when I stretched it.

My copy of the FlipBelt

The openings on the front need to be about 3 inches wide to accommodate slipping the phone inside (wider if you have a bigger phone). So, with 4 openings that’s 12 inches total, then divide the remainder of the band length by 4 to get the length for the closed sections. I marked the openings so that the final connecting seam (ends of the band) would be halfway in one of the closed sections. For my belt, the closed sections would be 5 inches, so I started marking at half this, 2.5 inches from one end, then 3, 5, 3, 5, 3, 5, 3, 2.5. For this seam I just used a small zigzag (width: 0.75, length: 1.5 or so), so it would lay flat. I pressed it hard too!

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Now after stitching the front slotted seam, it looks like a long tube with slot openings. My pink clover chalk pen really left an imprint! Now this is important, all the stitching results in the fabric being stretched, when I measured it, it ended up being about 1/2 inch longer! The best thing to do is wrap it around you and mark where to stitch the ends together.

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This is where it’s exactly like the method for making a neck warmer (tutorial here if you ever need one). You just push one end into the tube all the way to the other end, right sides against each other inside…

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…and line up the ends. Here I say *definitely* PIN all the intersecting seams/piping to eliminate slippage; on my first belt I had to unpick tiny zigzag and redo, major hassle! Then stitch ALL the way around using the same tiny zigzag.

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You don’t need to leave an opening in the end seam (like the neck warmer) because you can use one of the front slots to turn it right side out.

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Just reach inside a slot and pull!

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Here’s the second belt I made a few days later, this one is a teensy bit wider, the first belt was just a bit too tight a fit for my phone.

If this looks like too much, there’s an excellent alternative. After seeing Maria’s running arm band pocket, based on Melissa’s, I made one for myself.

copy of the Yfumbl arm band pocket

The upper opening you see is actually for your arm to slide through. The front flap near the top is where you can slip your phone/gels/stuff. It’s so simple and quick to make, and works fairly well. I’ve been running with it now for the past month. When the heat comes I’ll be running in my Jalie running skort, and probably won’t need either band. But it’s great to have the choice.

I’ll end with a couple of our race pics! Cheers!!

Ottawa Race Weekend 2013

L to R:  Renee (niece), Carol (Conrad’s sister, Renee’s mum), Steph and (my) Oliver

Ottawa Race Weekend 2013               

L to R: Donald (Conrad’s brother), Conrad (my hubby), (our) Henry (holding medal) and Oliver

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Little Makeup Bag

My mum asked me to make her a little makeup bag, just big enough to hold a few essentials for her trip to Europe. My parents are gone for a month, and staying with friends in Germany and the UK. How I WISH I was there!!

I decided to use a piece of sample fabric that I got from Darrell Thomas, an Oscar de la Renta home dec fabric in a linen/cotton/silk blend. The zipper is set in a slightly curved top, and it’s lined with a rich red poly satin.

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As I didn’t have any hefty interfacing, I interlined it with a fine white diaper fleece. It feels nice, but it sure was bulky at the zipper ends when I sewed it all together.

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It turned out all right, but I think I’ll buy Florence’s slouchy bag pattern, it looks neater at the sides! I’m definitely making another, I love the idea of using these home dec fabric samples for small things like this!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Me-Made-May 2013, Wrap-up

Even though it’s not quite the end of May, I’m going to wrap this up now. When I saw the number of participants in MMM’13 I was amazed! It’s fantastic how it’s growing each year. And for that reason I decided to keep it simple and not post daily pictures…well, that and the fact that I just don’t have many me-made clothes yet.

This month has been an interesting and very useful experiment. I wore me-made things and some thrifted things just about every day. Some of these things were finally fixed or mended! And I did manage to make the 2 new pieces that I pledged this month. I did photograph myself when I wore these, but by the 3rd week I ran out of steam! It was already becoming apparent to me that there were key items missing from my wardrobe, like cardigans and jackets for starters. Bottom pieces too for that matter.

Anyway, here’s a glimpse of what I managed.

Week 1:

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Week 2:

  • Day 8:  New! Colette Sorbetto #4 (made this month, yet to blog) with my navy thrifted capris
  • Day 10:  Burda 02-2013 #127 – Raglan Top with my Jalie jeans
  • Day 11:  New! 3hourspast BCT #2 (made this month, yet to blog) with my navy thrifted capris
  • Day 14:  copy of FILA top (again) with my black thrifted capris

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Week 3:

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Week 4:

  • Days 22 onwards, basically the same things
  • Day 25:  New! Copy of the FlipBelt (saw it Friday afternoon at the Expo, bought the fabric before dinner, figured out the pattern later that night, and sewed it up before lunch on Saturday. Yes, I’m mad!) It’s Ottawa Race Weekend and at 5:00 PM I was in the 5K. Love this belt! It didn’t budge at all. Definitely need to blog about this.

My copy of the FlipBelt

So, by mid-month I knew what I needed to make, and also had some things to make for my mum. But I’ll tell you more in separate posts, because there was a lot of me-made stuff going on!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sewing Journal Pages (PDF download)

I’m sure many/most of us who sew, at some point started to keep notes on all the stuff we make. I only started doing this about the time I started reading sewing blogs, and just used a me-made notebook with blank pages. It worked well enough, but I felt it could be “better”.

So, after 4 years my OCD, pedantic self decided to create a form to record all the various notes, machine settings, etc. It fits on one page, both sides. I love forms!

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It was seeing Portia’s beautiful leather planner and her cool printable planner pages that made me think I should put this up for anyone to use.


You can download the pages in PDF format. Let me know what you think, and if you’d like me to put it up in Microsoft Word DOCX format so you can adapt it for your own needs.

Update (January 2014)

Over the last year I’ve been refining the journal pages to reflect how I actually use them. There are now 3 versions, all in Word (docx) format.

Version 1 (shown above)

Version 2.1

Some projects involved many more machine stitches, so this form was useful.


Version 3.0

This is the version I use most often now:


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Day-to-Night Top in Red

This pattern is Maria Denmark’s Day-to-Night top. Lovely, quick top, what’s not to like! Also, uses hardly any fabric.

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(It’s hard to take a nice shot with a timer beeping! I get all awkward.) The fabric is leftover from my Pavlova top, and still have large bits left. This fabric is lovely to sew with, unbelievably, for a jersey.

I cut the top according to my bust/waist/hip measurements, so graded between sizes. It really is bang on! I like how it’s snug at the bust, since cowls have a tendency to expose oneself when bending forward. That’s the one thing I don’t much like with cowl tops, but they do look dressier than a plain neckline. This one doesn’t really do that! so *snug* must be the right thing for cowls.

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I don’t think I made any alterations to this, but I will next time. The shoulder seams need to be moved forward, they’re too far back on me, but that’s my forward neck tilt. This alt is a standard on all tops, but I couldn’t get my brain around it at the time! The lower back has excess fabric, as usual, so I’m looking into sway back adjustments again. But I’m happy with this, it’s wearable, and there are 2 more pieces of fabric that will soon be made into this top too. I need them for MMM next month.

Oh, yeah! I finally wore my Colette beignet skirt the other day, but I’m not happy with the back waist – it sticks out and looks weird. Sad smile I’ll post about it soon (I keep saying that!) so you can see. It needs redoing… ~sniff~ I have to remember: KEEP CALM AND SEW ON!