Dude Sewing: 2017 Edition

Hey there!

I’ve missed this blog, you guys–I did not intend to drop off the face of the internet! Stuff just got a bit busy and stressful, and even though I’ve been sewing, I just haven’t had the energy to get photos of stuff. I’m working on that, by the way! 😉 But in the meantime, I thought I’d share some things I have made for Tom this year.

I was mentally counting up all the things I have sewn this year and it occurred to me that I wasn’t even counting the stuff I’ve made for Tom! Admittedly, it’s not a lot, but it’s more than 0 so it counts.

First up is what I’ve always called a “baseball t-shirt” in classic Tom colors:

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Senior portrait pose!

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Aerobics class?

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Yep, definitely aerobics class. 😉

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Back view

This is a copy from a RTW shirt of Tom’s; he liked the fit and style, but it had a big ugly brand tag on the front near the hem. He hated walking around with a massive tag on display so much that he never really wore it. (I didn’t even realize he had that shirt–that’s how rarely he wore it!) I cut the shirt apart and used it as the pattern. Ta-da!

I used Kaufman Laguna jersey for this shirt, which I sorta recommend. “Sorta,” because it shrinks like the devil even after pre-treatment AND the color of this orange has faded considerably. My other complaint is that different colorways shrink at different rates, which is deeply frustrating. This is actually the second iteration of this shirt for Tom. The first one was a literal copy in terms of dimensions, and it shrank so much after a wash and dry (again, DESPITE being rather roughly handled–i.e., hot water and hot dryer–in pre-washing to prevent this) that it is now too short for him to want to wear it. For this version, I didn’t make it any wider, but made it a full 2″ longer; I also don’t dry it in the dryer except for on the Extra Low setting. That is not my idea of a workhorse fabric, and in my opinion, cotton/lycra jersey ought to fulfill that role without making such a damn fuss. Having said all that bad stuff, the fabric is comfy to wear and a pleasure to cut and sew. Plus it’s the right weight for men’s t-shirts and comes in a lot of colors, which is always nice. For the sake of convenience, I would use this fabric again–but with caution. It can be such a challenge to find knits that are suitable for men’s t-shirts, both in weight and in color/pattern. Do you have a favorite material for making dude t-shirts that you’d like to share?

Somehow, Tom gets a lot of love for this t-shirt when he wears it! I know I should just accept that for the awesome ego boost that it is, but it doesn’t make sense to me; it’s just a baseball t-shirt! 😀 But the color palette is very “him,” and I expect that combination doesn’t appear often in stores, especially free of logos and branding. Reactions tend to get more intense when he explains where he got it, LOL.

My other Dude Sewing project this year is also my first-ever Burda pattern!

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Too cool to care he’s in a photo…

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Posing is such hard work!

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How big that cowl *really* is…

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Blue Steel

This is Burda 6718, from the “Burda Young” line. I made View B, the one with a big cowl/funnel collar and no pocket. I made this as Tom’s birthday gift this year, although a May birthday in Ohio isn’t a great time for this kind of garment! That’s especially true given the fabric I used: Polartec Power Stretch. I heard about it from Two On, Two Off and bought it at Rockywoods.com. This fabric is completely awesome, I just wish it was easier to find in more colors! The face is a smooth jersey with a dry hand-feel, and the back side is fleece-y. It’s kinda thick and very stretchy, and I certainly didn’t use it to its full potential for this pattern in terms of the stretch factor. It does a great job of blocking cold air and wind compared to normal sweatershirts, I am told. 🙂

I made a size 40 for Tom, and the fit is spot-on. It’s loose enough that he can wear it over other shirts but not so big that it looks sloppy. (For reference, Tom is about 5’10” and usually wears a Medium in shirts and hoodies.) It was SO EASY to make. The only complicated things were the casing and buttonholes for the drawstring, and those were still very simple. (The pattern would have you use grommets, but I didn’t have any and didn’t want this to be my first attempt at setting them. I made buttonholes instead!)

Tom gets compliments on this thing all the time, too! (And unlike the t-shirt, I feel quite smug when I hear about them. 😉 ) The Burda Young line is very “cool” and fashionable, and really, this garment isn’t something I’ve seen an allegory for in stores. I also think that this fabric really adds to the cool factor. The colorway I picked has a melange effect, something Tom admired about the sweater knits I used for some tops early this year. For the effort expended, this pattern provides an amazing return on fashionable warmth! Tom has already requested more of these, especially if I can find more of this Polartec material. 😀

I know they’re not as exciting as a pair of jeans, but I’m glad I made these things for Tom. He appreciates the effort and thought that go into making something for him, but he also doesn’t have expectations or grabby-hands when it comes to my sewing time. Since sewing can be such an all-consuming and expensive hobby, having a supportive partner makes it that much more enjoyable for me. ❤ Along with more jeans, I’m hoping to try making him some underwear soon (I KNOW, WHAT THE HELL?!?) but as we all know, I tend to put myself first in the sewing room so who knows when he’ll get them! 😉

How about some outtakes? (Warning: .gif ahead)

Buckethubs

In a pinch, this thing could be used to make a Lord Buckethead costume…

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Cowl in action!

I’ll be back tomorrow with some stuff I made FOR MEEEEEEEEEE. Thanks for reading!

 

 

In Which The Blogger Applies for Sainthood, Pt. 2 (aka A Man and His Jeans)

Okay folks: are you ready for the second portion of my most recent bout of Selfless Sewing? It’s a doozy!

WARNING: much text and many photos ahead.

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JEANS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Fancy side bits, up close

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Obligatory Mulder Cameo

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Jeans on parade!

What do you guys think?!? They were definitely a labor of love. ^_____^ ❤

I started these in February and just now finished them–it’s MAY, for crying out loud. *facepalm* (There’s something very demotivating for me about sewing an involved garment for someone else!) I talk a big game about making things for Tom (and hoard fabric for all my harebrained Dude Sewing ideas), and even though it can be hard to stay motivated, I really do enjoy it. Tom really appreciates the effort and care that I put into my handmade clothing, and we makers know that isn’t always the case! He also never asks me to use my valuable sewing time to make something for him, and lets me do as I will when it comes to buying ALL THE FABRIC investing in my hobby. (Let it be known that I would not tolerate anything less than that: he’s not the boss of me.) So anyway, I am quite proud of these jeans, not least of all because I learned a lot during their construction. Are they perfect? No–definitely not. But they look great and are better-made than most jeans at our price point, and Tom loves them and knows they are one-of-a-kind (for better or worse).

The red denim I used is Japanese and very high quality. The color did fade a bit in the wash because I punished it with 2 hot washes and 2 high heat dryer cycles–my attempt to avoid post-sewing shrinking. According to my records, this red Japanese denim (which is not selvedge, BTW) is 10.5oz, which is not all that heavy as far as non-stretch high-end denim goes. (I have 13.5oz yardage in my stash, and I am now dreading working with it after this project!!) I think this is a great weight for all-season menswear jeans: not so light that the fibers will wear out easily (is it me, or do guys just seem to kick the crap out of their jeans?), but not so heavy as to feel like you’re wearing cardboard pants in the warmer months.

I bought this denim from Pacific Blue Denims, who I honestly cannot fangurl for enough. They’re an amazing vendor with a mind-boggling selection and an incredible staff. (Not affiliated, just very satisfied.) They’re a wholesaler, but they will sell to individual folks as well. It’s a very different process to retail fabric shopping, but it’s so worth it!

As for the pocketing fabric, I bought that from Mood (it’s a cotton voile that’s labelled specifically as pocketing). It was easy to work with and earned rave reviews from Tom for hand-feel. 🙂

Construction Notes and Blatherings

I used a very typical construction order for these jeans, as follows:

  1. Front pockets
  2. Fly
  3. Yokes
  4. Center back seam
  5. Back pockets
  6. Inseam
  7. Outseam
  8. Waistband, buttonhole, and belt carriers
  9. Hardware
  10. Hem

These bad boys got all the bells and whistles: rivets, contrast bar tacks, and plenty of flat-felled seams. There isn’t a single raw edge in sight in these jeans! 😀

During construction, I made two significant errors, but luckily for me most people wouldn’t even notice. MY MISTAKES, LET ME SHOW YOU THEM.

  1. When I added my seam allowances to the pattern, I used different allowances for different areas. All flat-felled seam areas got 3/4″ seam allowance, and anything else got 1/2″. Well, I added the 3/4″ seam allowance to the bottom edge of the yoke pieces, but only 1/2″ to the top of the back legs! So I had to wrap the felled seams down from the yoke toward the legs, which is backwards. (Go ahead, check your own RTW jeans…I’ll wait.) Again, I am sure no one will notice, but ugh.
  2. I totally spaced out and wrapped the felled center back seam the wrong way by accident. It should wrap left over right, but I went right over left. And of course, the nature of flat-felled seams is that you trim the hell out of one side, so there’s no going back and undoing anything. Grr.

But overall, I think the jeans look really good! The topstitching lines all come together at intersections, and my flat-felled seams are really strong and look great, especially considering it was my first time ever trying them.

Among my more minor beefs with my work are the bar tacks; my machine did not care for the combination of topstitching thread + dense zigzag stitching, so I had to use regular thread. As a result, they look a little puny to my eye. My belt loops are decent, but one of them got a little crooked while getting the bottom edge sewn down without me noticing. The bar tacks really show their slightness on the loops, IMO. In retrospect, I probably should have just topstitched them down with the thicker thread. I kept the topstitching tonal (these jeans are already RED, you know?) and used contrasting gray thread for the bar tacks throughout to coordinate with the nickel hardware that Tom wanted. Speaking of hardware, I had some trouble getting the rivets in perfectly straight. Here’s hoping they hold on for a few washes, at least! O_o

The Fly

The fly construction was the most puzzling aspect of this entire project because I’d never done one. Thanks to a patient sewing friend, I got it…in theory. But after crankily ripping out the fly front and topstitching and lower front crotch seam for a third-ish time, I put the jeans in the naughty corner for several weeks. (Hence the 2-month delay in this post–can’t post about jeans that aren’t done yet!) I don’t know if I’ve ever been explicit about this, but I am not allowed to have UFOs: if my current project isn’t finished yet, I DO NOT pass “GO,” DO NOT collect $200, and DO NOT get to start anything else. Either I pitch the project entirely (only if it’s really not working out), or I buckle down and finish it. It’s for the best, believe me! I knew I was going to have to pick these damn pants back up if I ever wanted to move on with my sewing life, and that meant sorting out the fly.

While I pouted, I studied fly construction on Tom’s existing RTW pairs of jeans without disassembling anything, trying to learn their secrets. What did I learn? (Well, besides the fact that staring at the crotch area of a man’s jeans for a few weeks will teach you anything at all?) That I was way over-complicating it. To explain my method would make this post utterly unreadable (moreso than it already is), so I won’t get into it here. I will hopefully share it in detail eventually, though. But I DID IT. Yay!

Luckily, the rest of the sewing was very straightforward apart from the bulky areas and self-created drama! If you are looking for construction help with jeans, I highly recommend a visit to Angela Kane’s website and Youtube channel. I will note that, although I don’t use her fly method, I wholeheartedly recommend hers if you’re looking for help. (I did use her buttonhole method though, and it’s AWESOME!)

Pattern Notes

No commercial pattern here: these jeans are a rub-off of Tom’s favorite, self-proclaimed Best Fitting Pair of RTW jeans. Said jeans met an untimely end when husband had a tiny incident on his motorcycle and tore one pants leg all to shit. (Don’t worry, he wasn’t hurt.) He saved the jeans to wear on weekends and for yard work, but since they fit well and were basically ruined, he surrendered them to the great cause of Patternmaking. All I needed to make the pattern was one good leg anyway, so it worked out for everyone. I disassembled the jeans and traced off the pieces, and there you have it: jeans! That fit! I did have to make a couple of very small adjustments to compensate for the stretching out of his well-worn originals in some areas, but those were very simple.

Conclusion

These jeans were a long time coming, but we got there in the end! I have plenty of denim earmarked for Dude Jeans, so this isn’t the last pair I’ll make for Tom. I am thinking of buying Angela Kane’s men’s jeans pattern, which is designed with selvedge denim in mind. I also patterned two other pairs of jeans belonging to someone else (long story), including one selvedge pair, so we have lots of style possibilities now! But Tom has been warned that after this red pair, my sweatshop* is going back to its regularly scheduled programming: All Me, All The Time. I do have some of this denim left, and have promised to see if a pair of shorts can be squeezed out of it…I am sure I will regret that! 😉

Here are some more pics, just for fun.

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Dat Ass

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Birdies!

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Meandering

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Posing

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Fun with lighting in a tunnel

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Possible photo of Bigfoot.

Thanks for tuning in for my (mis)adventures in Sewing For Other People! 🙂 I have some sharks to make for some kids, so I’ll probably share those with you soon! And then I can get back to what’s important: clothes for MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

What’s the most complicated thing you’ve made for someone else? Have you ever made jeans? How long are your average “sewing time-outs” for items that are giving you trouble?

*Term used ironically/self-deprecatingly/for laffs, of course. We here at The “Mads” House do not condone the dehumanizing and exploitative practices of actual sweatshops, which is partly why we do not buy fast fashion RTW anymore. The Sweatshoppe at Fort Kickass (as it is affectionately known), under the careful management of a no-nonsense Feline Supervisor, allows its lone employee ample break time for soda and pizza consumption; video entertainment is also provided, along with many opportunities for feline/human snuggles and naps.

 

Selfless Sewing Extravaganza! Pt. 1 (aka A Man and His Sweatpants)

Hello everyone, and Happy Holidays! I truly hope that you all had a great holiday season, whatever you celebrate. And now the New Year cometh…where did 2015 go?!? O_o I’ve got 2 posts planned to show all y’all my holiday sewing for 2015–this is Part 1. You’ve been warned!

I have made Tom something for each of the previous 2 Xmas holidays, and decided to go for the Three-peat in 2015. But what to do??? His Cooper bag from 2014 would be hard to top (he still uses it every single day and adores it), I knew that. I almost gave up on the idea of making him something and instead resigning myself to the safe, store-bought option(s)–goodness knows he had PLENTY of ideas–but then fortune smiled upon me in the form of the release of the Men’s Hudson Pants from True Bias in November.

I love the idea of the original Hudson pattern, which is designed for women: the dropped crotch, generous hip room, and slim legs with no ugly elastic ankle casings actually manage to make sweatpants look cool. Not to mention the opportunities for contrast fabric use (or adapting them for woven fabrics), which can really make them into something acceptable to wear out of the house. Not long ago, I could never justify using my valuable and rather scant sewing time on something silly like sweatpants. (I’ve heard of some sewers who don’t want to bother with t-shirts or underwear, so I guess it’s the same principle at work!) But a pair of good-looking sweatpants that could be customized and elevated beyond the “sausage leg” varieties that are so often what we think of when the word “sweatpants” is uttered? THAT is an endeavor I can get behind.

For Tom, I had exactly ONE fabric in mind for this pattern: french terry. (It’s one of the suggested fabrics for the pattern–hooray!) It’s made the rounds in the sewing blog world this year in a big way, and it seemed like a good way to turn the humble sweatpant into something a little more luxe for my love. Combined with the cool vibe of the Hudson pattern, I felt like this was a great idea. In order to maintain secrecy, I taped my pattern together at my parents’ house while I was there for a night and took a “sweatshop day” off from work so that I could have some alone time to get these done. (Aside: it is also highly beneficial that I am The Do-er of Laundry at our house–pre-washing secret yardage is never, ever a problem.) I mentioned a couple of posts back that I am now the proud owner of a serger, and I was determined to use it for these pants:

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Juki MO-654DE serger!

I didn’t get into details before, but not only is this my first serger, I HAD NEVER USED ONE BEFORE. As in, ever. EVER. I decided to cut out the pants first, and then run some scraps through the serger to see if I could get the hang of it; worst case scenario was to use my sewing machine for all construction steps, which is how the Hudson instructions are written anyway. A few test scraps and 6 hours later, I had finished pants x 2, fully serged:

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Inside of Hudson Pants #1

Is my serging perfect? No, but it looks pretty legit IMO. The only sewing machine work I did was to baste things in place and to sew the buttonholes and drawstring casing on the waistbands. Even the ankle bands were attached using only my serger, which is a big deal for me. (Sewing things in the round is ALWAYS a free arm exercise for me–I’ve never done that type of thing without a free arm.)

When it came to Tom opening his gift (his ONLY gift from me), I felt really, really bad: turns out he got me a stand mixer for Xmas, guys. And I made him sweatpants. And I opened my gift first. The whole situation was decidedly Not Cool on the “Miss Manners Scale of Reciprocal Gift-Giving.” But once he realized I made the pants, he got SO excited. He actually thought that I went out and bought him sweatpants!! (I guess that’s a testament to the professional finish a serger can provide on knits, as well as the general fashion-conscious nature of the pattern itself.) And then he tried them on, and now they are all he wants to wear. 🙂 I now wish I had taken a chance and used some black ponte for the pocket bands and ankle cuffs and waistband on Pair 1, because he would have LOVED that and has already asked for another pair with that fabrication. And you can be sure that his not-divorced wife will oblige him…this time.

Truly, I LOVE this pattern. It was so easy to put together and the results are great and much more fashion-forward than your usual sweats. I felt that the sizing was appropriate vs. Tom’s usual RTW size as well, although I did follow True Bias’s advice and measure before choosing a size. I used the best-fitting pair of sweatpants Tom had in his dresser for comparison and settled on the size 32, which is his jeans waist size; the only adjustment I made was to add about 1/4″ to the inseam at the calf. I also cut the elastic so that the finished circumference was 28-29″, like his existing sweatpants. And now for photos! (They’re bad because *I* took them, so don’t expect much, LOL.)

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Goofing off

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Attempt at a side view

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Back view (he wears them a little low)

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The pocket details and side seam show up better here!

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These pants are great for Puppy Play Time, obviously.

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These two, tho…

So there’s Part 1 of my holiday sewing bonanza; coming soon, the story of a Girl and her Shark.

Supplies

2 yds french terry, this Etsy shop; I have about 3/4 to 1/2 yard left
2 yds french terry (same Etsy shop); different color, same amount of leftover yardage
2 yd bundle of 2″ waistband elastic, Joann’s
10 yd bundle of black drawstring cording, this Etsy shop
4 x  cones of MaxiLock from Wawak

A (Day After) Christmas Cardigan

After weeks of struggling to find time to work on this project, I finally got the Newcastle cardigan done last night! Tom loves it, and I think I did a pretty good job. Photo dump commencing in 3…2…1…

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Happy husband!

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Collar and back contrast yoke

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Contrast cuff

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Not too bad! (Well, except for being on the hanger crooked…)

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Close-up of the contrast fabric and detail at the shoulder yoke

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Bound buttonholes!

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Enormous buttons!

I’m really pleased with the fabrics I chose for this project. They were easy to work with and, although they did have some stretch, were stable enough that I didn’t need to do anything special to try to control them. For my first time working with knits, that was hugely important! (If you’d like to see them up close, you can find links to both fabrics in this post.)

For the most part, the pattern was pretty straightforward. I would absolutely make this again if Tom wanted another one. I looked online to see what reviews were out there and what issues anybody else may have had before I got started. I didn’t find anything, so when I ran into difficulties, I just gonzo’d my way through them. The first problem I encountered was with the facings, specifically the neck facing. For some reason, the piece I cut (the correct size) did not fit the neckline of the sweater–it wasn’t even close. No amount of stretching or fiddling was going to make it cover the gap left between the placket facings. Even now, I have no clue what I could have done wrong to make it not fit! I almost re-drafted that piece, but was feeling lazy and decided not to do that. I just sewed the placket facings and collar in place per the instructions; I think I will get a pack of seam binding and hand-sew it to the seam allowance of the collar and the top part of the facings, that way things don’t look so unfinished.

The other issue I had was with the cuffs. I must have read the instructions at least a dozen times, and still could not figure out what to do. I also couldn’t decide which way the cuff pieces should be folded. I’ve chalked that up to my lack of experience, but nevertheless, it was frustrating. At that point in the process, you’re damn-near finished, and all I wanted was to get this thing done and onto my husband’s torso before Christmas was over! I ended up cutting new cuff pieces with different dimensions (long and not very tall, which creates a much shorter cuff than the original pieces) and sewing them on in a completely different way. In fact, somewhere in the 10 minutes that passed between me finishing the first cuff and pinning the second one in place, I forgot what I had just done. After trying to remember for the better part of 20 minutes, I just went ahead and did something else. The finished result was the same, so I’m not too bummed about it. The cuffs I drafted made the sleeves a perfect length for Tom, which was a huge relief!

I didn’t sew in the sleeves as instructed either, opting instead to set them. For some reason, that was just easier for me to figure out. I’m very happy with the result, but if I make this again I will try to do the sleeves as instructed, just to see if I can do it!

Overall, I’m really happy with my work on this cardigan. Tom has already said he might like another sweater in a different color scheme, so I may be making another one of these sooner than I expected!

Newcastle Cardigan – Phase 2

I’ve made a little progress with Tom’s sweater since last week. The front and back portions of the cardigan are now sewn together, and the seam allowances thereof have been topstitched and secured. I have to say that, having been scared of the “home-sewn” look of a zig-zag topstitch, I really love how that detail has turned out so far. I feel like the sweater looks very RTW, in a good way. (And of course I do not have a photo of the details at this time, but I will share one sometime soon!) The plackets are pinned in place, and I will be sewing them on tomorrow sometime, followed in short order by the facings. There is no way in hell this is getting done by xmas. =(

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Sweater front with plackets pinned in place (right sides together)

In other news, I’ve gotten a lot of great sewing-related gifts in the last week:

The Gift of Knowledge: I had a class last night at a local quilting shop (which came with my sewing machine as part of the prize), wherein I learned that I have been threading my machine incorrectly this entire time. I was embarrassed and mad (at myself AND the directions in the manual), but now I know what I’m doing. I’ll have to test on scraps to make sure the proper threading doesn’t impact my thread tension, which I lowered for the stretchy knit fabric I’m using for the sweater. I also learned a lot about all the stitches that come with my machine and how to clean it properly, and really felt like this trip was a valuable use of my time. Plus this shop has endless bolts of quilting cottons in just about any fashion you could want, so I’m sure I’ll be back for some shopping.

The Gift of Notions: My lovely friend/co-worker gave me an entire mason jar full of vintage buttons (still on the cards–OMG!!!) for Christmas, along with a dressmaking guide from the 30’s/40’s! Buttons are one thing I do not keep around–I buy only what I need for each project, which can be stressful and frustrating. I’ve always wanted to go button hunting at a flea market or antique mall, but just never find the time. I can’t wait to make use of all of these, and already have some favorites that will likely inspire a few garments!

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Just a few of the buttons I got, plus the dressmaking booklet!

The Gift of Storage: My dearest BFF got me a wonderful sewing kit for xmas, complete with several notions and tools hidden inside. I feel bad that she got me so much stuff! I’ve been using a tackle box (which works really well, actually) but I’ll be re-purposing that and moving all my sewing stuff into this case.

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Beauty AND function! (Featuring my very filthy ironing board cover–yikes!)

I have one mystery gift under the tree, and assuming that it isn’t a sewing machine cover, that’s something I really want to get soon. (I know, I know: I could just make one. Maybe. In some parallel universe where I have a shit-ton of spare time. Or if I can’t find one I don’t hate–that would be a good excuse to buy a cool quilting cotton!) Getting gifts is awesome, but more than anything, I’ve been reminded what wonderful people I count as friends, and I was astounded by their generosity and thoughtfulness on my account. (My co-worker had been acquiring those buttons for MONTHS, resisting the urge to give them to me early.) I’m lucky, and I hope I can be even half as wonderful to them in return.

Today is my 5-year wedding anniversary, so rather than spending my evening off (!!!!!) sewing, I’ll be spending it getting a nice steak dinner and enjoying some quality time with my husband. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday filled with love, laughter, and good food!

Newcastle Cardigan – First Steps

Before I get into this post, I would like to point out that, technically speaking, moving at a snail’s pace is still moving. =)

Many weeks ago, I decided to make my husband a sweater for xmas. I knew going in what a stupid idea that was: I have never sewn with knits before, let alone STRETCH knits, and honestly have almost no spare time right now (a trend which will be continuing for the foreseeable future, since I can’t bear to stop working at the vintage shop on the side). On top of all of this, I also decided to keep this a complete secret from the hubs. That really wouldn’t have been difficult, since when I’m in my sewing area, he’s usually on his computer and doesn’t often venture into my lair to see what I’m up to (although he does ask, bless him).

Do you ever find the PERFECT fabric for something you’re making for someone else, and absolutely trust your instincts until you get it washed and cut? I love/loved the materials I picked for this sweater (both from Fabric.com, main fabric here and contrast fabric here), and although the buttons were so big that they kind of scared me (also from Fabric.com here; seriously, 1 1/2″ sounds like nothing much, but these are ENORMOUS in real life), I liked them as well. But once everything arrived and was ready for action, I lost my confidence. I became terrified that my poor husband–for whom I bought NOTHING ELSE for xmas, btw–was going to hate this sweater. So I asked him a question: if he were to receive a surprise gift, would he rather have known ahead of time what it was, or be completely surprised? He told me to go ahead and tell him, because he was excited. So I told him. Turns out he loves what I picked out, which is awesome, except that I really wanted to shock him this year! (Which reminds me: I must find time to build a time machine, so that I can go back in time and NOT tell him.)

Here are some photos of what I have accomplished so far which, admittedly, isn’t much at all. Seriously: it’s been a month, and I’m still on Page 1 of actual instructions. =/

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Sweater back and contrasting back yoke

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I’m a madwoman for opting for bound buttonholes on stretch knit, I know.

(Sorry, folks: I thought I had gotten a photo of the sweater fronts and shoulder yokes, but I guess not!)

As I mentioned in my original post, I do not own a serger, so I am sewing this entire project with a regular machine using a zig-zag stitch. (If I run into trouble, I might make food offerings to my cats, who may then feel inclined to intercede with their great ancestral deities on my behalf.) After testing a lot (A LOT) on scraps, I felt confident enough to sew on the actual pieces. So far, I haven’t had much trouble. Luckily my fabrics are both relatively stable for stretch knits, but I do not intend to move the speed bar above the first level at any point in this project. So far, I have sewn the shoulder yokes to the cardigan fronts and edgestitched them to secure the seam allowances (mostly because I like the extra detail it gives on the right side of the sweater). The back yoke is pinned to the sweater back piece, but I haven’t stitched it yet. I have been hand-basting all of my pieces together using rayon thread for added stability. I haven’t figured out if my machine can handle a twin needle (the busted Brother CS6000i can, naturally), so all of my topstitching has been done using the same zig-zag as everything else. At first I was disappointed to have to do it that way, but I actually don’t dislike how it looks. (Again, if I had gotten a photo of the front and shoulder yoke pieces, you could see it!) I made bound buttonholes because I am a special combination of out-of-my-mind and stupid, but they actually turned out okay. One is a little too small for the button, but since the hubs rarely buttons his sweaters, I’m hoping it’s not a big issue. Not bad for my first time ever making them, I think, and Tom really likes them a lot. I just LOVE the contrast fabric I’m using for this sweater, and may have to make myself a sweater out of it someday. It’s subtle enough that Tom can wear it for ANYTHING, but still gives a nice bit of extra detail and uniqueness to the cardigan.

I haven’t gotten any farther than this, but I’m still foolishly hoping to have it done in time for xmas. I may have to just stay up late a few nights and knock it out, but he is worth it!

Do any of you have holiday projects that you’re trying to finish (or start–hehe!)? Do you often make gifts for friends and family?