Monday, November 28, 2016

Cyber Monday sale!

A quick post today to remind you of my Instagram giveaway ending tonight, and to give you the sale code for 40% off any of my books! Grab the large Sewist's Notebook, the go-anywhere 6x9, the kid's version, or the newly-released swatch book, all with a huge sale! See them all here, and use code CYBER40 at checkout!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Introducing A Sewist's Swatch Book!

Giveaway and sale alert! I'm so excited to share my new book with you today, and one lucky reader will be able to win a copy of it! What exactly is A Sewist's Swatch Book? It's the perfect companion to your Sewist's Notebooks. When I first started sewing and buying fabric, I had an encyclopedic knowledge of each of my purchases. But as time went by and my stash grew, I started forgetting things. Where did this interlock come from? Was I saving it for something? What's the composition of this knit? I had done extensive photo cataloging, but without a physical swatch I lost track of what was what. I started wishing for a physical way to record my lovely fabrics, so I could see and touch all of my fabrics at once (even the ones packed away!).

The book contains over 100 pages for cataloging fabric, featuring the same options for quick-circling that I love from the original Sewist's Notebook.

There is a key for universal care symbols, as well as a guide for determining the stretch percentage of your fabric.

I've started filling up my own book and I'm so glad that I can use it to be more efficient with my projects. I'm always forgetting what has been pre-washed and how much yardage I have. Now I can quickly see if a fabric is ready to go.

110 Creations: A Sewist's Swatch Book has been almost two years in the making. It took a backseat to having two babies, but now it's ready to be brought into the world as well! Pick up a copy HERE (use code BFRIDAY33 for 33% off!), or win your own through my Instagram contest HERE. Sale ends 11/27 at midnight eastern, and giveaway closes 11/28.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Project Runway recap

Wow, this week's episode was very interesting! A healthy dose of karma, some poor decisions at Mood, and some scary heights. What's not to love?

Spoilers ahead...

Best moments: I liked this challenge. They're doing a great job of challenging the designers with just enough wiggle room for creativity. I especially liked Mah-Jing this week, he's getting bolder and seems to be having fun with the competition, which is only going to help him out.

Worst moments: I do just fine with heights, but the idea of the helicopter ride freaked me out for some reason!

Best garments: I've come to accept that Laurence is the only one left whose aesthetic I like. Her dress was adorable (didn't like that she apparently left uncut threads on it?) but also strong. I think maybe the skyline appliqué was hard to see on the runway so perhaps that's why she was just safe, or maybe it's a motif that's just been done before. Cornelius' dress was interesting, editorial enough, but didn't look comfortable, so I'm kind of on the fence about it.

Worst garments: It's pretty unacceptable that Dexter's model wore her own undergarments with his design. He was all talk about using appliqués or doubling up the fabric but he just didn't. Basically, he cheated. And sorry Dex, the jacket shoulders were ugly the first time. I was vastly disappointed with Rik, and Roberi for that matter. Neither design said "strong" to me, and Rik's looked like his model got caught in a windstorm with dirty toilet paper. I didn't understand it at all. I also thought the ruffle on Erin's dress made it look like a nightgown and didn't know why the judges liked it.

Best quote: "What woman wants to look like Patrick from SpongeBob SquarePants?" --Rik

I think Dexter got what he deserved in the double elimination, and Nathalia, unfortunately, did as well. I agree with Nina that he can do more and he did something safe for himself. Nathalia was running on borrowed time after her unfinished jacket last week. But this should have been a triple elimination because I'm so tired of Erin. Send her home already!

Stay tuned this week for a big announcement and something new! Or get a sneak peek right now on Instagram.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Jacquard Knit Cardigan

I really should stay off of Pinterest. Sometimes I get these ideas in my head, and no matter how hard I try, they don't pan out. That's what happened with today's creation, a kimono-sleeve cardigan from McCall's 6802.

First, fabric. I got this medium-weight jacquard knit from the Etsy shop Urban Rag Trader and it is awesome. And it was $4/yard!! It's thick, warm, and behaved like a ponte. This was one of those times where I had a great fabric and didn't want to screw it up with the wrong pattern, but I think I kind of did. Here are my inspiration photos from Pinterest to show you where my train of thought was going:

I chose McCall's 6802 because it had the fewest seam lines of any of my cardigan patterns. I liked the draped front that could turn and show the reverse, which in this case is a nice speckled black. I've made the pattern once before, so it was already cut, which might have influenced me a bit too much. I had the same problem this time around that I did the last time (slow learner?). There was way too much volume. I made a size 8, the smallest in the envelope. I did not add pockets.

Sewn as-drafted it looked way too much like a bathrobe. After I took the above photo, I went back and removed 1" under the arm, starting at the sleeve hem and then tapering to nothing at the hip. It gave me a slightly more fitted look like my inspiration photos. But the more I looked at it, the more I realized I should have made a cardigan pattern with set-in sleeves. I had been trying to avoid crazy directional issues with lots of seams but it just didn't work.

It's possible I just have a styling issue. I tried my best here, but perhaps I should have thought of potential pairings before sewing, huh? After finishing, I realized that what I should have made was a Morris Blazer. I still could have gotten the cool reverse black lapel, but it would be more structured. I'm half-tempted to order more of this fabric just to overcome my regret!

An additional note about this pattern: the waterfall portion is not hemmed or finished in any way. There is a center-back seam behind the neck that shows when you turn down the drape.

I covered my seam by hand with black rayon seam tape. If I were more fired up about this cardi I would do the same for the rest of the seams, since they occasionally peak out. And because the drape isn't finished, there is a part inside where the hem meets an un-hemmed part and just looks sloppy:

I could not double-turn this fabric to hem, it was too thick for my coverstitch, so I only have a single turn here. But you get the point.

I will not make this pattern again, I've learned my lesson. I'd still like to decide on outfit options though so I can wear this one, since the fabric is cozy and warm. Am I being too hard on myself or is everyone else seeing what I'm seeing here?

Monday, November 14, 2016

Project Runway recap

We're at that point in the season where I'm not going to like the eliminations. Everyone left is a good designer, so the "bottom" will be kind of murky. On the flip side, I don't think there is a clear front-runner. I'm really not sure who will make it to the end!

Spoilers ahead...

Best moments: For the most part, everyone seemed energized about seeing their loved ones. Usually somebody loses it and gets thrown off their game, but I don't think that happened here. I like that Mah-Jing had a chance to connect with his mom, despite his confession that they didn't have the best relationship. It seemed like he felt redemption in making a great design for her. And who wasn't happy to hear about a $50,000 prize?!

Worst moments: It felt pretty transparent that Jenni would be eliminated. From the consultation on, she was having a hard time with her mom. Additionally, I hated that we didn't see much of Laurence and her daughter, given what we heard of their story earlier in the season.

Best garments: Roberi's graphic dress for his graphic designer friend was adorable. Rik's age-appropriate-but-not-frumpy design was great too, though maybe a little too simple for a win. I think Mah-Jing should have won, but I guess "cute mom" prevailed over "bad ass mom"'.

Worst garments: I am completely confused as to why Erin is still here. At this point, the judges should have been questioning her taste, and her ability to do anything other than a coat. The floral lace was beyond hideous. I didn't hate Jenni's design, but I hated it for her mom. If the preschool director at my daughter's school dressed like that, I would question the entire place. It's kind of like Jenni gave up and just made an outfit for herself. Nathalia's was much worse, in my opinion, and it wasn't even finished. There's no reason why that coat should have ended up so big, and the unpressed facing was making me crazy.

I do not want to see a collection from Erin.  Please tell me that isn't going to happen!

Next week: helicopter rides!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Jeans Zipper Repair

It's the time of the year for sharing...germs, that is. A yucky cold has been making its way around my house, and combined with daylight savings time (the nemesis of parents everywhere) I haven't had much energy for sewing this week. Instead, I tackled an item from my mending pile and learned something new--how to fix a broken jeans zipper.

I have one pair of me-made jeans, using the Jamie Jeans pattern from Named. Thanks to the super-stretchy fabric, I was able to fit back into these almost immediately post-partum. I love them hard. Imagine my devastation when, one busy Monday morning (isn't it always a Monday?) I yanked the zipper pull right off. At first I was worried that they were ruined forever, that I'd have to find a way to convert it into a button fly. But I found this tutorial about fixing broken zippers and rejoiced.

The reason my zipper pull came off in the first place is because I (apparently) didn't secure the tape inside of my waistband. Or I did, but over time it worked its way loose. From now on, I will add zipper stops at the top of my cut zippers. Perhaps I should have been doing that all along, but one of the problems with being self-taught is missing out on the little things. That is, until you learn the lesson the hard way!

After shopping around locally, I was unable to find a zipper repair kit as mentioned in the tutorial, and I ended up ordering the pieces I needed from Wawak. It was less expensive anyway, considering I purchased a quantity of 100 zipper stops for a few dollars. I did, however, order the wrong color. I checked an old invoice from Wawak and thought I was correctly matching some zippers I bought there, but I guess I'm older and more forgetful than I thought. I also ordered some pliers from Wawak since I didn't have any dedicated to sewing.

Following the tutorial wasn't as easy as I'd hoped. I couldn't remove the existing bottom stop, no matter how hard I yanked with the pliers. I took a risk and cut it off. Luckily, it worked. I was able to put the zipper pull back on from the bottom, and then add a new bottom stop.

I also could not clamp the new top stops over existing teeth. I had to remove the top teeth, which was kind of destroying the zipper tape, thus making it pointless because I'd have nowhere to clamp the top stop. I ended up wiggling the teeth higher but not completely off, leaving enough space to clamp the top stop.

It's good enough. I'll certainly be more careful from now on when zipping these up. Unless the top stops fall off, I shouldn't have any more problems. I'll gladly spend 30 minutes with a pair of pliers versus hours assembling a new pair of jeans!

Have you ever repaired a pants zipper?

Monday, November 7, 2016

Project Runway recap

I have to say, this season has been pretty entertaining. The challenges are fresh and interesting and the people aren't being too dramatic. Props to Heidi and the other producers for not just phoning it in and making a paycheck every week.

Spoilers ahead...

Best moments: I liked the idea of the pop-up shop with the public voting. Any time the clothes are doing something other than walking a runway (in this case, standing still) we get a new dimension to it. More often than not, clothes are on a rack or not moving, so seeing them on standing models makes more sense from a marketing perspective. I also think it was a good reality check for certain designers to hear blunt comments from "normal" people about some questionable choices in the clothes.

The Tim Gunn save was well deserved. More on that below.

Worst moments: Correct me if I'm wrong, but Cornelius voluntarily gave Erin his skirt, and she did not once offer to then make him a replacement? Not that we saw, right? And Erin and Dexter both had the audacity to say that Cornelius deserved to go home even though he said all the things the judges said. And the judges still eliminated him. I'm equal parts enraged over this and apathetic. Apathy, because I have a hard time believing the elimination wasn't staged. It was wrong, on so many levels, to send Cornelius home. Like, so wrong that it makes more sense that the judges knew Tim would save him. They didn't want to eliminate anyone so they picked the person who would get to stay. Am I crazy to think that?

Best collection: The blue team and the neutral team were both wonderful. Team Neutral pulled themselves out of a giant hole, they should be very happy. Team Blue. I was in love as much as the judges. I want Laurence's look. It's not practical at all for my life but I still want it. I want to be that woman! I can make the tshirt work, at least.

Worst collection: Um. Red. Why was there so much red?? I'm with Cornelius, it hurt my eyes after a while. I didn't really like Erin's jacket, the pockets were ridiculous. I thought Dexter's look was interesting, I didn't hate it as much as Zac did. Although I'm curious about the giant armholes and the level of side boob. I think Dexter is a bit too much in love with his own work and lacks a critical eye. Probably that applies to Erin as well.

Best quote: "Why do we always have to do sexy?" --Roberi

If I hear one word from Erin or Dexter about how unfair it is for Cornelius to still be there, I may climb through my TV and punch them. The way they handled this challenge was pathetic. Erin made a terrible garment last week and because she was on a team this week she coasted through with just a coat. I'm over her coats. I'm kind of over Laurence's jackets too, even though I love them. Show me something new.

Next week: Relatives (moms?) show up and you know somebody is going to be thrown completely off his or her game.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Foxy Layette: Organic Cotton Plus review

Babies wearing foxes: is there anything cuter than that? During my last pregnancy, I bought the Oliver+S Lullaby Layette pattern with the heartfelt intentions of making a top in double gauze for my summer baby. My good intentions fell by the wayside when I realized how difficult that would be to sew, and, frankly, when I ran out of mojo after a lot of other baby projects. But when it came time for another review for Organic Cotton Plus, I knew now was a much better time to tackle the pattern.

OCP has a great selection of cotton prints and solids. I know from past experience that the quality will be amazing (and their shipping is SO fast!). They sell a lot of knits, which is what I primarily sew, but when I order from them I often choose wovens because I know I don't have to worry about quality. I chose a poplin called "Fox in the Foxgloves" and this is the navy colorway. I think the colors are great, kind of boyish but the print is kind of girlish without being TOO girly. It's a good balance. I have a few small scraps left and you better believe I'm saving them for pocket bags!

The shirt is a size 3-6 month with 1" of length added to the bodice. Baby M is not quite 4 months old but she's...big...for her age at 18lbs! For reference, H is almost a year and a half old and she's a fairly average 23lbs. On an average sized 4 month old I think the baby would be swimming a bit, which has been my past experience with O+S, that it runs a little large. Or maybe I'm just not used to woven fabrics that need more ease.

The top is very cute and the instructions were up to the normal high standard of O+S. The placket was intimidating but if you follow the directions it's fine. I do recommend making a quick practice one, though, if you've never done a placket. It won't take much fabric and will teach you something new. I did mine backwards because I accidentally cut the placket backwards.

My husband frequently complains about buttons on children's clothing (I can't blame him) so I chose to do snaps. The KAM snaps I usually use are size 20 and were too big for the placket, which was disappointing. I opted for sew-on snaps, but sewing them on at the end meant that I could see my stitches. Whomp. I do have smaller set-in snaps from Snap Source, but you may recall how badly that went the last time. The placket is NOT interfaced so I knew those weren't going to work. I ended up hand-sewing a single snap on the placket and taking careful stitches inside the placket so you can't see them from the outside. I may sew another snap on in the same fashion but it was fairly tricky. I should have sewn them on before assembling the placket and that would have hidden all the stitching.

The Lullaby Layette pattern also includes a view for a reversible raglan jacket. I've seen these types of jackets before but never sewn one. It was easy enough, just a bit time-consuming since I made my own bias tape from the fox fabric. The brown "outer" layer is from Organic Cotton Plus also and is called "blanket fabric". I know what you're thinking...a coat from a blanket? But yes, I went there! And the fabric is exactly what you'd expect, it's like the world's coziest blanket (and there are other awesome colors like this Very Berry). The weave is loose but not TOO loose to sew. And yes, all my kids wanted it for a blanket the second it came out of the wash. It's very wide, 96", so with my leftovers I do think I'll make a small blanket for the car.

The selvedge of the blanket fabric has a portion that is a plain weave, rather than the textured weave, so I played with that edge and made it the edge of the jacket. It was then easier to set in snaps (this portion IS interfaced). I used my KAM snaps here.

The "inner" fabric for the jacket is a super awesome heavy flannel. I know what you're thinking...boring! It's definitely not. It's the thickest flannel I've ever felt and the brushed side is very soft. I can think of about 20 uses for my remnants ("Swiffer" cloth, cloth wipes, makeup remover, interfacing, cloth diaper inserts, nursing pads just to name a few). Flannel is one of those fabrics I keep around because I never know what it's going to be good for next. For example, I'm using it as a backdrop behind M for this photo shoot!

I'm incredibly pleased with how the jacket turned out because it will be plenty warm enough for winter, and perfect for the car because it's fairly trim. We've been experiencing some unusually warm November weather so even a poplin top is going to see some action right now. And with this quality, it's easily a piece I can pass on to family or friends. And you can see that the hard-to-please baby loves it, she's giving the outfit a thumbs up!

Organic Cotton Plus sent me the fabric in this post for free in exchange for my review, but my opinions are my own. I purchased the pattern. This post contains affiliate links.

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