Friday, November 21, 2014

FO: Monsieur Splat Cat

In all my gift making the last month or so, my husband reminded me of his grandma's birthday just a few days before hand. Yeah, lol. I had something already made for her for Christmas and I think he just figured I'd give her that earlier, but I really didn't want to change my Christmas plan, so I started looking through my patterns to see if anything struck me as to what I should make her for this occasion.

I stumbled on mention of the Indie Gift-A-Long on a blog I follow. A bunch of indie pattern designers on Ravelry all got together and set up this group with awesome prizes and pattern discounts. For this first week of the GAL, certain patterns from certain designers would be 25% off (so only Nov 13-21), and one of the patterns was something I'd always loved but never purchased: Splat Cat by cheezombie.
Isn't it cute?! I've always thought it was really funny, but I just never had cause to make one up. Justin's Grandma is definitely a cat lover, so I thought she might enjoy it too. The pattern is pretty easy to follow, and I made mine up over a few nights (only a few hours total) and had no problems. The appendages were definitely more time consuming than I thought, but I guess that's pretty typical for me :)
Isn't his face great? The body is knitted as one piece, then the legs and eyes are picked up and knit while the tongue and ears are separate pieces you sew on.
The pattern is listed as an amigurumi/coaster, so he cam be nice and useful too :) I doubt Justin's Grandma will use it as a coaster though - I think she said she wanted to hang him up.
As for his name, I added Monsieur to mine since every time I read the title I hear it in the voice of Dutchess from The Aristocats (Eva Gabor) saying "Monsieur Scat Cat," so it stuck.
 And here is the birthday girl herself with the splat cat :) She's 86 years old!
And of course the Gordo had to try the cat on for size :)

I really enjoyed making this little guy! Just so you know, if you want the pattern for yourself it is 25% off but only until midnight tonight - so hurry here! (I'm not being compensated to mention that or anything, just wanted to pass along the great discount.)

FO: Falling Flowers Skirt

This project has been a seriously long time coming ... over 2 years in fact. Isn't that just ridiculous?
I started out trying to make this skirt back in 2012 when I decided I wanted to sew clothes for myself. I began with a super simple pattern from New Look (I can't find the number, but I'll fill this in later). I chose this because I really wanted to showcase the flower fabric, but I also wanted to change a bunch of things on my own. The pattern didn't have pockets and it didn't include instructions for a lining, both of which are necessities with me. According to the pattern measurements, the largest size included wasn't big enough for me. Naive little me thought that just increasing the width of all the pieces by 2 inches would fix this - can we say it was enormous that way? I had no idea about built in ease at the time, so I just trusted the pattern envelope and it came out so wide my hips couldn't even hold it up. After all that, I was incredibly frustrated. Not only was it too big, it also was just not a flattering style on me (the pattern has one large inverted pleat straight down the middle), so in my frustration I hung it up in my closet to be dealt with another day. Well, two years have passed. I've even moved and hung it in my new closet, lol, still just never had the desire to unpick the whole thing and try again. A month or so ago I finally bit the bullet and ripped it all out and re-did it. I'm much happier with these results :)
Ugh, sorry for the crappy flash photo.
Once I had the entire skirt unpicked, I made some new realizations with my much more developed sewing brain. First off, I had cut the flower fabric so that they were "falling up", lol. Luckily I had enough fabric since I had cut it too wide in the first place, so I just turned the fabric the right way and recut the pieces. Glad I know a little more about fabric direction now. I also know more about stitch lengths - I don't know why but I used something like a 1.5 stitch length originally, which made unpicking it all a nightmare. I also had no idea what I was doing on the pocket and zipper , gladly I was able to remedy this now.
Here is my single pocket, lol. Since the pattern had a side zipper, I had absolutely no idea how to add a pocket along with an invisible zipper, so I just decided one would be fine. Nowadays, I would have looked up how to do two buttons, but I wasn't in the mood when I finally fixed this. The pocket actually came out really well :)
Sadly, the other side of my waistband ... not so much. The zipper looks great, but the waistband just wouldn't meet any closer. By the time I put the skirt on and realized this space, all it needed was a hem, so I was not about to rip the entire thing apart yet again. To be honest, I never wear anything tucked in, so no one will even see the waistband at all in real life. I may move the hook and eye eventually, but I just couldn't be bothered at the time.
 The lining did come out quite nice. I had no idea what I was doing at the time, but it seemed to work out. I didn't want the pleats to be in the lining, so I constructed the outside of the skirt, then laid the lining on top and cut it to be the right shape without the pleats (hopefully that makes sense). I also hemmed the lining about an inch shorter than the skirt to prevent it peeking out.
Originally, there was a bit more of a difference in the length of the skirt and lining. I would try on the skirt and just hate how the hem just hung there. I wanted a little volume at the hem - I'm a "fit and flare" gal. I wanted to try a hem finish to stiffen it a bit, and I decided to use interfacing. Sadly the only interfacing I had on hand was the cheapy light stuff (that wouldn't have done anything) and super heavy duty (think the stuff you use to make bags hold their shape), so I cut a 5/8" wide strip of the heavy interfacing, sewed it on, turned it under, then did a blind hem. It looked completely ridiculous! I seriously don't know why I thought that would work. This fabric is technically a quilting cotton, but it is much lighter weight than your typical variety. I purchased it at The Quilt Place in Rockledge sometime back in 2012 and I remember it was in their clearance for $5.00 a yard. I don't have the selvage piece anymore, but I'm pretty sure it was an Art Gallery fabric. Anyway, I then unpicked the hem, and cut off the interfacing section, which made me lose about 5/8" of main fabric. Then I just turned 1/4" under, turned another 5/8" under and did a tiny blind hem on my machine.
It all came out really nice looking if I do say so myself :) I did my first ever tiny rolled hem on the lining - it was quite an experience, but it worked out fine. Plus it's the lining, so I don't care if it's perfect. I thought I would need to add tulle to the lining bottom to give me more flare, but when I tried it on after the normal blind hem it looked great - just enough flare - so I left it alone.
I also decided to get really fancy and add tailor's tacks to the skirt and lining to keep it from sliding up. They look pretty dang good imo :) Also, I just pinked the insides to finish them - since there is a lining I wasn't worried about getting fancy.
For the pocket, I just copied a pocket from a skirt I already liked. I had no idea at the time that I had chosen a "complicated pocket" - it wasn't really too hard, but definitely harder than just a normal one made of lining fabric. The pocket has a band of the main fabric along the outside so it looks really professional now it's all finished :) Also the pocket was designed to be caught in the waistband which I really love - it's nice and sturdy!
Ugh - and the dreaded zipper area. The zipper looks good outside, but since the pattern didn't include lining instructions, I just winged it and it doesn't look too pretty. I didn't know how to attach the lining to the zipper at the time, so I just cut that area open in the lining. Even when I recut the pieces, I had cut too far in for me to change that now, so I just left it. I just turned the opening edges under twice and top stitched. I had to hand stitch the ends of the waistband closed inside, which was kind of a pain, but it helped me avoid any visible top stitching on the outside. I seriously hate the hook and eye area though. Oh my gosh, it looks so awful.Really though, because of how I wear my shirts it won't be an issue. The second picture at the top of this post is how it will look when I wear it in real life. I really don't know what I was even thinking about making the waistband a different color since no one will really ever see it, lol. Ah well, early sewing design choices - what can you do?
So, that's my skirt :) Is it perfect? Absolutely not. The important thing is that it is finished and wearable, so it's not hanging in the closet making me feel guilty, lol. Does it go with anything else I usually wear? No - in fact I'm pretty positive that green shirt is the only thing I have I can wear it with, lol. Also, I generally avoid white and cream on the bottom since I'm always afraid I'll stain them. Oh well.
I'm still undecided if wearing it with my favorite sweater looks ok. Is it too matchy matchy? Thoughts?

Anyway, this was definitely a "Make it work" project, and while it wasn't the most fun thing to puzzle through, I am really happy to have it finished and wearable :)

Summary:
Fabric: 2 yards Art Gallery (?) quilting cotton, $10.00; Brown quilting cotton, maybe $2.00(?); White poly acetate lining, $2.50 (?)
Notions: Invisible zipper, $2.00 (?)
Pattern: Let's just call this self drafted, lol
Hours: About 4 to redo it, but who know how many hours when I first made it years ago...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

WIP Wednesday

The Christmas crafting continues! I've been quite the busy bee lately with it and I've managed to finish everything I was working on ... ! Crazy. I keep having that dreaded feeling like I should be making something, but then I remember I finished them, lol. Anyway, so I'll start by showing you my sweater ... as usual, haha.
Definite progress! I'm almost finished with the neck bind off at the back :) I've done the actual "neck" section and I'm about 3 rows from binding off the right shoulder.
Last night I found myself with no gift project in the works (gasp!), so I started planning and was struck with genius to make this project for another person on my list :) This person could possibly read my blog, so I will not say who it's for or what it is (I figure I'm so early on it could look like quite a number of things, so it's safe to post). This is a wool blend yarn so it will be machine washable - it's Schachenmayr SMC Northern Worsted with Wool yarn in Lilac and it's deliciously soft :) I'm sure the recipient will like it.
So, that's all that's "in progress" at the moment. I'll be slamming you with quite a few finished items over the next few days - only those that I feel are safe to post though. Some of them I'll have to wait until after Christmas and keeping them secret is KILLING ME! I can't wait to show them off, lol.

All this looking through patterns and yarn has me itching to make things for myself (I know, I'm so selfish). I'm sure I'll have to squeeze something in the next few weeks especially since it's getting cold fast (it was 40° F this morning when I woke up! I'm sure most of you are cursing me for that, lol).

Do you have any holiday projects going yet?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Crafting Christmas

Sorry for the radio silence this past week, folks. I've had all kinds of things going on in "the real world", so I haven't had much time for blogging. I have certainly been making things though! My Christmas Crafting is coming right along :) I suppose first I'll report on my non-Christmas item:
My Emelie cardigan - poor neglected thing that it is, lol. I have had a few chances to work on it when I was with the recipient of other item I'm making, so the back piece is ever growing, even if it is pretty slowly.
Since I'm confident that neither my husband nor brother in law read my blog, I am really excited to show you their gifts :) I'm making them matching Shibe Doge beanies, lol. They both love the Shibe Doge (if you don't know what I'm talking about, you should google it - so funny), so I thought it would be fun to make them matching hats. Then they can be buddies even across the ocean (my brother in law is in Japan). I've finished both hats, but I still have to do the words.
This is my first experience with duplicate stitch. It's not difficult, but it certainly does take some time! I've managed to do two of my phrases on one hat (So Chill, Much Brr!), and I still have two more to do on the other side and then the whole other hat. I went with black and dark gray because my husband basically wants everything in black all the time, plus this way it will match everything they may wear it with :) I can't wait to give it to them!
This is a project that has worked up surprisingly fast. I'm always at a loss with what to give my husband's grandma. She lives in an assisted living facility so she can't have too many knick nacky items around (she shares a room), plus due to her health issues she can't get any foods or desserts, and she doesn't really have any crafty hobbies ... you can see why I have a hard time figuring out what to give her! Since I'm trying to make as many of my gifts as I can this year, my husband said she might like a shawl. That I can do, lol. I asked him what her favorite colors were and he said pink or teal. Immediately I was struck with genius - I've had this partial skein of variegated acrylic yarn in my stash since high school! I made a Swedish weave project as a gift for my grandmother with it, but that only used maybe 10% of the skein. Never being a big variegated fan, I had no idea what to do with the rest. Can we say fate? I mean seriously, I've had this yarn at least 14 years and it has gone to two different grandmas, lol. Once I picked the yarn, I searched my pattern stash and decided on the Garden View Shawlette, which is a free pattern on Ravelry. It's a smaller shawl, so I knew I'd have enough yarn and it wouldn't take weeks to make.
I know it doesn't look like much in the full on photo, but once it's blocked you'll be able to see the design nicely. It has large garter stitch leaves around the bottom edge with a stockinette body and eyelet rows at the bottom and top. I actually really like how it's turned out and I know his grandma will enjoy having it :) Gotta love something that will keep her warm in the air conditioned buildings but that it also easy to wash, right?

So that's what I've had going this week :) Any Christmas gift projects in the works for you?