So A Sundress and A Sweater Walk Into A Blog…

Hi! It’s been a little while, huh? You know, I naively thought that my summer would calm the f*ck down after Memorial Day, but I still had too much going on for my liking! (Some of this is stuff I do to myself, like agreeing to participate in an event.) Fall didn’t slow down much either, especially since we WENT ON VACATION ABROAD!!! What?!? I know. Don’t worry, I’ll share that soon. šŸ˜€

I haven’t had quite as much time for sewing lately; between stress from work (my role was assigned to a new manager and I feel ways about that…), stress from life, and continuing to struggle with my mental health, it’s been hard to feel creative. And as far as blogging goes, it’s been hard to get motivated to take photos of things once I did finish them. O_o On top of that, I started selling out writing blog posts for my company’s website this year: you’d be surprised how fast that can steal the fun of blogging about a hobby, but here we are.

That said, I did sign up for a block of the month quilt project in August and have been keeping up with it. And it’s easy to take photos of quilt blocks: they just lie there as I loom over them with my phone! šŸ˜€ I am definitely not a quilter, but when I saw this pattern–an exclusive at my around-the-corner sewing shop–I had to make it. As you might expect, this project is very EXTRA considering that it’s my first quilt:

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Koala cuteness!

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Flamingo and Turtle butts!

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Blocks 1 and 2 joined

The entire top design! (Photo property of Dabble & Stitch/Cassandra Ireland Beaver)

Here is a link to a photo of the actual quilt top sample–I can’t wait to have mine finished and on our bed…in a year! I’m planning on paying for the designer to quilt mine just like the sample. Personally, I think I will get more out of spending money on that service than I would out of doing the work myself. O_o #notaquilter

But let’s rewind, because I have made quite a few other things since my last summer post. Two of those projects were accessories I made to take on vacation, which I will share soon; two others are the garments you’ll see below! (The otherĀ others were costume shirts for the vintage and costume shop–8 in total.)

First up, my 3rd Style Arc Ariana dress!

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Cute dress, shame about the face!

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Back view

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Buttons!

I want you all to know that it was barely 55 degrees when we took these photos the other day: I suffered for you!! šŸ˜‰

I can’t say enough good things about this pattern. I made two last year, and I would actually like to make at least a 4th one–it’s that good. This rayon crepe fabric was destined to be an Ariana the minute I bought it. It’s perfect, if a bit lightweight. For my bodice lining, I chose to use leftovers from my last Blaire shirt. This was kind of a bad choice, in that the fabrics behave quite differently to each other; but it worked out okay in the end, and there’s no risk of print (or nip!) show-through here.

There are a few dumb mistakes on display with this new dress, namely on the skirt buttons. Originally, I made this dress because I wanted to wear it to an out-of-town family thing this past July. I was actually ahead of schedule–yay!–which meant I wasĀ thisclose to having my dress done in time for a last-minute dinner I was invited to in June. I won’t get into it, but it was a (casual) dinner full of strangers who were Important People at an event I was helping with that month. While eating meals in front of other people is one of my actual worst nightmares, I wanted to attend to make a good impression and meet everyone ahead of the event. I don’t know about you all, but I always feel much more confident in a self-made garment when interacting with Important People and/or New People and/or People Who Stress Me Out. So anyway, buttons and buttonholes were all that stood between me and feeling my best at this dinner. The day of the dinner (yep…) I pulled out the front bodice pattern piece to see how far apart my buttons were supposed to be, marked the dress, and got to work. Unfortunately, I forgot that the skirt buttons are spaced farther apart than the bodice ones for Very Good Reasons. I used the correct number of buttons, but the skirt opened far higher than it should because the buttons were too close together! D’oh. Before my next event–the one I was originally making this dress for–I went back and added 2 more skirt buttons. The buttons, by the way, are from Bennos and are made of coconut shell. I love them and will for sure have to buy more when I run out.

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Twirling

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Derp

I also neglected to stay stitch my necklines, which I should have done at least on the shell; there’s some slight gaping around the curves. (It doesn’t help that I put my top buttonhole too close to the edge, so now I actually need to move the button over a bit to compensate.) The pockets aren’t my best work either, namely because I decided to try flat-lining them in the bodice lining fabric. They’re pretty sloppy at the bottom hems. šŸ˜¦ My hope is that they pass the “3-foot” rule and nobody else will really notice. I mean, in the above photos you can’t even reallyĀ see the pockets, so I think we’re good!

And now for something totally different: a knitted sweater!

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Bear and Dog

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Half-brioche faux seams

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Back view–love those triangle details!

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Weeeeee!

This is the Ursa sweater by Jacqueline Cieslak. Jacquie is a fairly new knitwear designer but she definitely has a talent for it! Her instructions are really good, and I especially appreciate the way she breaks down your total stitch count between the front, back, and raglans here. It makes counting them up so much more intuitive!

I did modify this sweater a bit by lengthening it: it’s quite a cropped sweater and is even shorter on long torsos! I didn’t want to have to wear a shirt under it, or be limited to wearing it over dresses. In all I think I added about 4″ to the length before starting the triangle insets. Sadly I need to properly block it in order for that extra length to really “count”: it’s still in over-dresses-only territory. While knitting this I had to pay attention to my mechanics on the half-brioche parts: my method of knitting actually positioned the YOs on top of their companion stitch, so I had to re-orient those stitches when it came time to knit them. My first start on this sweater revealed the issue, so I frogged it back and started again. After that, it was looking exactly like the pattern (albeit a bit more open)!

My gauge is off on this sweater. My stitch gauge tends to work up tighter than a pattern’s specifications, and this is no exception: my sweater doesn’t have the same boxy fit that the samples have. Plus, with my broad shoulders and upper back, the raglan shoulders on the size I made are getting stretched to the max! My fabric also seems a bit looser/more open than Jacquie’s samples, probably because my yarn is kind of in between Aran and Bulky and probably needed a smaller needle than what I used (the US10.5 listed in the pattern); this is moreso on the row gauge but does show up on the half-brioche areas too.Ā  So for future versions, I will probably need to go up at least one if not two sweater sizes for my shoulders andĀ maybeĀ drop my needle size (which may necessitate going up yet another sweater size). I’ll play with things and see, but I would love another Ursa or two in my life!

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Still handsome

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Admiring glance

Ironically, the sweater itself was out of season when I made it–in fact, Ohio was in the middle of a news-making heat wave about the time I finished–and now the temps are cool enough that I need to figure out how to style my pink (Ariana!) dress with tights and boots if I want to wear it. D’oh!

As far as current projects go, I have my Halloween costume underway (one piece is done!) and a non-costume Halloween-y dress cut out. I also have another sweater project going, so I’ve got plenty to keep me occupied for now. I’m excited for “proper” fall sewing though: I want to make SO MANY trousers!!

What are you sewing (or knitting!) right now? Do you have any tried-and-true tricks for deciding what to make next?

In Which The Blogger Applies For Sainthood, Pt. 1 (aka Adventures in Quilting)

Hi! šŸ™‚

Admittedly, I haven’t been the most productive seamstress since I last wrote, but I have finally managed to finish some stuff that I can share with you. Yay!

Here’s what’s on the docket today:
Part 1. Gift Sewing –Ā Wherein the blogger learns to quilt

And coming soon to a “Mads” House near you:
Part 2.Ā Dude Sewing – Jeans edition
(I am working on these presently, so hopefully I’ll be backĀ to share them soon!)

Phase 1 of my application for canonization features my first-ever quilting project: pot holders. These were made as birthday gifts for my dearest friend. I made it hard for myself, naturally. The front of each one is paper pieced (somewhat elaborately), both use their own palette ofĀ fabrics, and each one features a unique machine-appliqued word box using the font and memory capabilities on my 8200. (Spoiler alert: I taught my sewing machine to swear. #winning)

Background: my dearest friend and I love going to one quirky gift/craft store in town and looking at everything. The last time we were in there, she was looking intently at some pot holdersĀ but didn’t want to spend the money. She then said that I should make stuff like that and sell it in there (they do that), to which I said I would just makeĀ her some damn pot holders. And since her birthday was last month, it seemed like a great idea. (Doesn’t it always?) I should note that one of our favorite, must-scope things in this weird craft store isĀ a series of magnets called “Mincing Mockingbird“; essentially, they are pretty pictures of birds with funny, rude, or sarcastic statements on them. Perfection in magnet form, really. So I decided to riff on that for her pot holders. I found a free, sufficiently-avian paper piecing pattern on Craftsy for the “face” of the pot holders/hot pads, picked fabrics I thought she’d like (basically, lots of blue), and got started. Here are the finished pot holders in all their snarky, avian glory:

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Birdie #1, aka The Foul-Mouthed Fowl

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Back of #1

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Birdie #2, aka The Guzzling Gull

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Back of #2

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Close-up of the dirty bird

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And a close-up of the drunk bird

They look pretty great, right? I had some difficulty with the binding and it’s a bit sloppy (if my grandmother–a keen quilter–were alive to see these, she’d slap my face on account ofĀ that binding before she even noticed the swear word on the first one, at which point she’d probably go in for Slap 2: Electric Boogaloo), I think due to the bulk of the pot holders. In retrospect, the binding should have been cut wider, but you don’t know what you don’t know until you know it! All things considered, I am really happy with these. And so is the recipient! But there was one insurmountable difficulty: chalk.

OnceĀ I had decided how I was going to quilt these damn things (I chose a very modern style, but it has the added benefit of covering the entire surface and adding durability,Ā since they’re going to be heavy-use items), I needed to make sure all my shit was symmetrical and evenly spaced. Since certain chalk pens are heavily marketed to quilters (uh oh), I never hesitated to mark the 1/2″ quilting lines with my yellow chalk pen allllllllll across the surface of each pot holder. (I own blue and yellow, so I went for the higher contrast to ensure visibility while sewing.) And then I quilted. My machine powered through the 5 layers–backing, cotton batting, cotton batting again, Insulbrite, and top fabric–and they looked fucking beautiful. And I got to try out my walking foot for the first time: weeeeeeeeeeee! And then…the chalk wouldn’t come off. Let me repeat that: the chalk,Ā that chalk so heavily marketed to quilters as a way to make their work easier, Would Not Come Off. So now my painstakingly-assembled pot holders had persistent ugly yellow lines and smears all over them. Desperate to remove the marks, I washed the pot holders. I put stain remover on them first, and then I washed them. (On gentle, mind you–I’m not a madwoman.) And you know what? THE DAMN CHALK STILL REMAINED. “Crushed” isn’t really a strong enough word to describe how I felt. All the hours! All the care! Ruined. And of course, two pieced seams on one of the pot holders came open as a result of being washed, and a visible repair was my only option to ensure durability. There was not enough time or fabric to remake them, either. šŸ˜¦

Had these been for my own personal use, I would have never bothered washing them. But these are gifts, and they are the first things I have ever made for my friend–EVER. I was angry enough to writeĀ a message to the company thatĀ makesĀ these pens, and became evenĀ angrier when I got a reply from them condescending to me about how to wash my shit and taking ZERO responsibility for their product’s failure to absent itself from my finished projects (oh, AND from the clear part of my walking foot; now it looks like it lived with a smoker for 30 years). Grade-A Bullshit. So lesson learned: do not use Clover Chaco Liners on the visible portions of anything I give a fuck about, by which I meanĀ ANYTHING I ever make again. UGH.

I explained myself to my friend (since paper piecing doesn’t GAF about grainlines, my painstakingly-squared pot holders were decidedly wibbly after being washed), who luckily understood. But jeeze, this is the first time I’ve ever made her anything, and because of someone else’s product not measuring up, I had to give the gift with an explanation. šŸ˜¦ The bright side is that not only did she ask if I would make some for her mother (minus the snark boxes), my sisters each asked for some of their own, too (with snark boxes)! So it looks like I’ll be returning to home dec crafting sooner rather than later.

Do you quilt? Would you ever use a pot holder/hot pad with a swear word on it? Do you think I should set my Chaco Liners on fire, take a picture, and send it to Clover? >:-)