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! ūüėČ 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. ūüėČ

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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! ūüėÄ 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. ūüôā

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. ūüėČ ) 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. ūüėÄ

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! ūüėČ

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 Is A Magpie

Happy Thursday, friends!

Thank you to all those who have commented¬†about Tom’s jeans!¬†Being able to share things (successes and failures alike!) with such a great and varied community of people makes sewing that much more rewarding as a hobby: you guys rock!

Since my last post, I have finished and delivered the two L’il Sharks to their new home. All that’s left now is for their tiny humans to arrive, which should happen in the next several weeks. Yay! I forgot¬†to take photographs of them (#sosorrysostupid) but I used the free pattern provided by Cation Designs here. It is SO CUTE and makes very adorable little hammerheads for the shark enthusiast or¬†baby in your life. (Or your softie-loving dog, if you care to put this much effort into something they can trash in 10 seconds.) The little sharks were very easy to make, and the tutorial linked above is very helpful if you aren’t sure where to start putting everything together. I am certainly grateful to Cation Designs for making her pattern available to the rest of us, and promise to only use my shark-producing powers for good (i.e., I will never make them for profit, per her request). I ask that you please do the same, if you decide to try her pattern. (In other words: Don’t be an asshole.)

The giant shark (using M7103) for the same couple’s toddler is now finished; it will be a birthday gift for her. (Welcome to Toddlerhood: have a shark.) Isn’t it cute?!?!?

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Sherk MkII (Mulder added for scale)

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View from above

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Squishy underbelly!

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‘Sup

I can’t get over how amazing this pattern is–I love it so much! Someday, I shall have a Sherk of my very own. ūüôā I had briefly considered using View B–the Hammerhead version–to coordinate with the baby sharks I made for the gift recipient’s future brothers, but ultimately¬†opted to make the Great White again. (It is the biggest one, and therefore the best.) #noragrets

The plaid fleece I used for MkII (who I am affectionately referring to as sHERk) was a pain: unbalanced and not really on-grain (as far as fleece goes, that is). I realized these things AFTER painstakingly matching large intersections with pins, naturally. Since that part took 2 hours, I decided to just cut it out as-is and not worry about it. I decided to put the fins on the bias for effect, since I couldn’t really match them properly with the body. Had I bought double the recommended yardage, I could have matched everything. But this is a fleece object, and I don’t need extra fleece flopping around my house. I have plenty of scraps left from all this Sharking as it is! (And if I’m honest, this was part of my bias fin motive: do a wasteful layout to use up that fleece!!) And really, this is for a little kid to beat up on and drag around the house: it didn’t seem worth beating myself up over the plaid as long as she enjoys playing with it. I’ll save my sewing stress for clothes! ūüôā

So apart from Sharking and summer wardrobe planning/starting (hopefully I’ll be back soon to share some results!), there has been one other BIG, HUGE time-suck happening at the “Mads” House: knitting. Let me repeat that: KNITTING. That’s right folks, this dimwit has learned to knit!!! Aaaaaahhhhh!!!!

Although knitting prowess runs in the family (my grandmother–the same one who quilted proficiently–and my oldest sister were/are both very talented knitters), I never had the desire to learn until very recently. There are two reasons for my sudden interest: Sock People and fucking Brooklyn Tweed.

I follow tons of sewing folks online, and have noticed that many of them also knit; plenty of those who knit like to knit socks, and they waggle those beautiful, toasty tubes of wooly goodness in my face seemingly every day. And as someone who wears socks to bed and inside my boots in the Fall and Winter, I quickly began to covet the pretty socks that everyone was making. When Ginger Makes posted about her foray¬†into sock knitting, I realized that the only way to resolve my bitter jealousy toward these Sock People would be to learn to knit them myself; I even made a declaration of intent in the comments on that post! But somehow, that still didn’t motivate me to start learning immediately. That took the release of Wool People 10, which set alight a dormant lust for big, almost-certainly-frumpy, intricately cabled sweaters that I could no longer suppress. I sent a text to my sewing friend (who is an accomplished knitter as well) stating my intention to learn, starting with socks, on circulars, two-at-a-time. (Hey, I learned to sew on vintage patterns: I would rather jump right in with knitting, too!) And because she is a saint, she volunteered to teach me.

That very weekend, we set out for our local yarn store and got me a set of circulars and 100g of sock yarn. Saint Friend kindly did the cast-on and toe increases for me (stating that it would be too frustrating for my first try) and set me up for two-at-a-time socks; she does them that way too, so it took her all of 5 minutes. Here are a few in-progress shots up to this point:

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Week 1 (aka “Toe Warmer Stage”)

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Week 2

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SO big!!

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Happy feet + pet hair

Aren’t they too cute?!?!? UGH sock yarn is so awesome. I want ALL OF IT. Already, I have 4 pairs worth of sock yarn stashed in addition to the pair I’m working on now. This week, Saint Friend will be showing me how to do the heel turns; hopefully I¬†remember the immortal words of RuPaul as I work! While my saintly friend worked on the cast-on and toe, she handed me some (already cast-on) thick yarn and straight needles and let me just knit back and forth to get the idea. Since, you know, I had literally NEVER KNIT A STITCH before then. O_O I still have that rig in my possession, and plan to use it to practice new stitch patterns…provided that I can tear myself away from my socks! (This first pair is¬†all stockinette, but the self-striping and overall “new-ness” of the experience has been enough to keep me ALL CAPS EXCITED¬†about them.)

Here are some things I have learned so far:

  1. I am a tight knitter. Very tight.
  2. Also, very slow with moderately clumsy mechanics.
  3. Righties teaching Lefties to knit gets complicated.
  4. I need to figure out tension for the first and last stitches in each row on socks, because they turned out loose as hell despite Thing #1.
  5. Knitting makes a great lunch hour activity.
  6. Always keep a crochet hook in the knitting bag in case of dropped stitches.
  7. Saoirse is as good at “helping” with knitting as she is with sewing.
  8. RAVELRY, THO.
  9. 2-at-a-time forever.
  10. Self-patterning yarn forever.

I am desperately excited about this new hobby of mine, you guys. I sleep in socks damn near every night of the year, and can’t wait to have a whole drawer full of adorable hand-made foot cozies to wear. And the craft itself is interesting and complex, which makes it more exciting. Having said that, I don’t know how much of my knitting I will share here apart from occasional pics of the finished things; it’s hard to stop what I’m doing and take a picture, you know? But I’m determined to make a go of knitting, so watch out, Sock People: I’m one of you now! ūüėÄ

Do you knit? Any advice for a newbie? Have you ever picked up a whole new hobby because there was One Thing you really, really wanted to make? 

 

 

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. ūüôā

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! ūüėÄ

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! ūüėČ

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! ūüôā 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.

 

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

Hi! ūüôā

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 –¬†Wherein the blogger learns to quilt

And coming soon to a “Mads” House near you:
Part 2. Dude Sewing РJeans edition
(I am working on these presently, so hopefully I’ll be back¬†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 of 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 holders¬†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 make¬†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 is¬†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 of¬†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.

Once¬†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,¬†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,¬†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. ūüė¶

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 write¬†a message to the company that¬†makes¬†these pens, and became even¬†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 mean¬†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. ūüė¶ 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? >:-)

Selfless Sewing Extravaganza! Pt. 2 (aka A Girl and Her Shark)

As promised (or threatened–however you want to look at it!), here I am with Part 2 of my holiday sewing binge. This one is a riot!

For my birthday last year, Tom got me nice gifts. (But don’t ask me what they were–I cannot remember!) And because he is a total dear, he remembered me going crazy over a stuffed shark sewing pattern that had been released by McCall’s right before my birthday: M7103. He bought me the pattern! And then I let it sit for over a year without using it, because that’s how I roll. But I always knew that I’d come back to it someday.

“Someday” turned out to be Christmas 2015, when I decided to follow through on a vague threat I’d made to my friends with a baby–to sew a giant stuffed shark for their 1-year-old baby. I am sure they thought I was kidding, but I would never joke about something this awesome. I decided to sew View A, the Great White, because it is the biggest shark of the 3 and therefore the best. (Have I mentioned that “JAWS” is one of my very favorite movies? It is.) I bought fleece, giant rick-rack, one square of felt, and some craft-weight interfacing–all of which was a first for me–and got down to it. Within one Saturday (plus cutting out the night before), the shark was complete. He needed about 3-4 pounds of Poly-Fil¬†fluff. O_o

The pattern was actually pretty easy to put together, despite my lack of craft sewing experience. The pattern suggests shank buttons for the eyes, but since this was for a really little kid, I felt that was a choking hazard waiting to happen. I used some of my felt instead, and am really happy with how the eyes look. I just put my big washers on top of the felt, traced the center hole with chalk, and ta-da! Instant shark eyes that are perfectly round and the exact same size. The pattern also recommended decorative stitches–of which I am generally Not A Fan–for the gills and for topstitching around the fins. I used more felt for the gills, and those turned out beautifully, if I do¬†say so myself. The fins just got topstitched with a regular straight stitch. If anyone out there wants to make this pattern, be sure to grade your seams, especially where you’ve got craft interfacing; the pattern says nothing about that, and I think that’s an oversight. That stuff will get bulky REAL quick. I did my best to cut the interfacing out of seam allowances and then graded everything else with pinking shears.

Would you all like to meet the shark (aka Sherk, which is what we called him)?

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Landshark vs. Dog

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Belly up!

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His beautiful gills!

Now, when I asked for this pattern last year, I didn’t do so intending to be selfless with it:¬†I wanted a stuffed shark. I thought it would be fun to have around in a weird, whimsical-stuffed-toy, refusing-to-grow-up sort of way; I thought maybe we could mount it on the wall like a real fish or something. After I finished this gift shark,¬†I realized how bummed I was that I still didn’t have one of my own. So to commemorate our brief time together, Tom took a series of photos of me and Sherk goofing off:

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He’s a big boy!

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Watching TV

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Shark body pillow

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Sharks don’t need cavities or gingivitis!

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Story time!

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So young, and already reading at a 12th grade level!

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Sherk LOVES fancy chairs!

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“How’d you get up there, silly Sherk??!?”

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“Get down!”

Obviously these are very tongue-in-cheek–we thought they would be funny. And they were! We also had fun driving the shark to his new home: he rode shotgun, with his seat belt on, and we turned the front dome lights on so people driving by could see him!¬†¬†And then we said goodbye to our shark buddy:

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Making the drop-off at shark’s forever home

His new human is 14 months old and took some time to warm up to this big thing that some¬†weird lady brought to his house. But once we left, I got a photo from his parents of him going in for a full-body shark hug, so I think this was a success! Bonus: one of the family cats has also taken a shine to him! His family has christened him “Dunuh,” after the well-known¬†sound humans make to mimic the iconic “JAWS” score, obviously; we love the name they chose for him, and I am so glad he is enjoyed. All kidding aside, that was the entire point: he’s a great, giant, fluffy cuddle-buddy for a sweet little child (and a cat). And just in case–because I may not be a parent, but I know enough to have been concerned that a giant 5-foot shark may not be most parents’ idea of a wonderful gift for their kid when it comes to finding somewhere to put it–I also brought a carrot cake for kiddo’s parents to get back in their good graces. All that remains now is to make one for us to keep!!

Thus ends my selfless holiday sewing round-up for 2015. I did make all the Sewaholic Stanley Trees I intended to make, but never got photos of them before they were gifted. Oops! But that is a great little craft pattern, too: I love my tree, and (thank goodness!) my family members really enjoyed theirs, too. The hand sewing parts take a while, but once you get into the rhythm of it, it’s not bad.

Did you do any gift or holiday-related sewing this year? 

Shark Supplies

1 3/8 yds fleece (body), Joann’s
1 1/4 yds fleece (belly), Joann’s
1/8 yds fleece (mouth), Joann’s
1 1/8 yds extra-firm craft weight interfacing, Joann’s
1 1/4 yds 1 1/4″ rick-rack trim, Joann’s
4 lbs Poly-Fil, Joann’s
1 pre-cut felt square, Joann’s

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. ūüôā 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

Holiday Surprise Cooper – Complete!

Good evening out there!

After lots of waiting around for materials and trying to find uninterrupted time to sew, I finished Tom’s surprise gift this morning! Today happens to be our wedding anniversary (#6 of marriage, and also the 8th anniversary of our first date!) and while we were out to dinner, I casually asked him when he wanted to do our gift exchange. Usually we don’t do it on Christmas, since we have family to visit that day; he suggested Christmas Eve, which I said was fine. I told him I had one thing for him that was here and that he could open, but that I needed him to leave me alone when we got home so I could wrap it. At that point he decided he’d rather open presents tonight, so we did! I am very pleased to say that he was thrilled with his new bag, and that he honestly couldn’t believe I’d made it! (Trust me, that’s a compliment.) Wanna see?????

Proudly modeling his new bag!

Proudly modeling his new bag!

Cooper bag, just chillin' on the couch

Cooper bag, just chillin’ on the couch

Peek at the snaps and pockets

Peek at the snaps and pockets

Lining and cavernous insides!

Lining and cavernous insides!

Back! (Sorry about the color--forgot the flash.)

Back! (Sorry about the color–forgot the flash.)

Pretty nice, if I do say so myself! I used gray and orange for this bag; the shade of the latter can only be described as “Construction Vest Orange” or perhaps “Screaming Bitch Orange,” but Tom likes it. Orange is sort of his thing! My canvas arrived on Tuesday Dec. 16th, so I washed it that night so I could sew on Wednesday. When I stopped for the night on Wednesday (at the hanging loop installation step), I had a flat front and back piece, and my two straps. The front piece had the snaps attached, too. I was feeling pretty good about being able to finish it in one more workday, and planned to get back to it this weekend. I got up at 6AM today (ugh I know) and started up again, and was done by 10. I would definitely say that this pattern is suitable for an ambitious beginner, because I was able to execute the entire thing without any real trouble.

The hardest part for me was sewing through all those layers, especially at the bottom gusset piece when squaring the sides of the bag. At that point, you have installed the straps on the bag, and are working with about 5-6 layers of material at that spot. In my case, I opted to interface the bottom gusset; that was a decision I made on a whim, and I nearly paid for it in the worst way. As I started sewing my new seam at the bottom to square off the bag, my machine suddenly shuddered and made the beeping noise that it makes when there is an error. I was afraid I’d broken my Janome!! Fortunately, the worst of it was that the machine just couldn’t force the needle through all the layers, not even when I turned the handwheel manually. Having no other options, I skipped a couple of stitches here and there on that section and went back to the foot pedal once the worst of it was over. The handwheel saved my ass. I am wondering whether it would have been easier with a larger denim needle (I used a 14), but I’m glad things worked out!

This was the first thing I’d ever lined, and holy hell was that easy!! The instructions and sewalong made this process very easy to understand, and I am pleased to say that I didn’t have to redo any part of that section. The only possible issue with this bag in the future is that the rivets I got are just a liiiiiiiiiiiittle bit too short for the thickness of my fabric; I struggled to get the second half of the rivet to really mold over the first part and had to do quite a bit of extra tapping with my mallet. I warned Tom that those may not hold up well, but that I could get longer ones if that happens.

So there you have it! My first total surprise project was a rousing success, and Tom LOVES it. He wants to wear it on his motorcycle, which wasn’t my intention (the opening of the bag doesn’t have a closure, and I didn’t modify the pattern to add one; it relies solely on the magnetic snaps on the flap). I am going to order a bar of Otter Wax and test it on scraps, because he is intrigued by the idea of waxing the bag. I nearly did that on my own, but wanted to see what he thought first. ūüôā I’m so excited that this worked out, and that I was able to make something for someone I love that will get a lot of use!

Happy Holidays to all of you–may your season be merry, your travels safe, and your hearts and minds at peace in the days and weeks ahead. ‚̧

Holiday Surprise Progress

Hi!

I’m pleased to say that I’ve made a little progress on Tom’s Cooper backpack. Not much, but I’m trying to do what I can with what I’ve got!

My shell fabrics and magnetic snaps will arrive this Tuesday, so I’ll be able to really get to work later this week. Nothing like cutting it close, eh?? My webbing and hardware arrived this past week, so I went ahead and worked on the straps today. I expected the straps to be much more complex than they turned out to be, but hooray for surprises!

Lining and straps!

Lining and straps!

The webbing was very easy to work with; I even finger-pressed the required folds rather than mess with my iron, and it was all that was needed. I got my webbing from AGraffSupplies on Etsy; it’s cotton and feels very sturdy, and this shop offers various yardages of it in a very wide array of colors. I definitely recommend looking there if webbing is something you need for a project! (I also got webbing from another source after my post office said that this first package was returned to the sender. Imagine my surprise when this package showed up later that day, LOL! I had a good customer service experience with the other vendor–Strapworks–as well, but haven’t used their webbing yet.)

After I cut the two long pieces of webbing, I realized that I really ought to get a heftier needle in my machine before I started with the sewing. I had planned to do that once I got to the shell, but it was absolutely necessary for handing this webbing. I opted for a size 14 denim needle, and it had no issues punching through the straps. My machine did struggle a bit with three layers of this material (at one point, you sew through a folded section and the main strap section to secure that end of the strap), and my presser foot couldn’t really lower due to the thickness. As a result, the rectangle of stitching on one of the straps is a little, uh, off. ūüôā Fortunately, this appears to be the heftiest section of the sewing for this project in terms of bulk under the presser foot. From cutting to finishing, including the futzing around with changing the needle and thread and bobbin on my machine (and the digging for the correct thread color!) and walking to the living room to check the sewalong posts, I was finished in under 30 minutes. Not bad for a bag-making n00b, huh?

Unfortunately, this is all the progress I can make until my shell canvas and snaps arrive and get washed, etc. But I’m really excited for this project, and hopefully the end result is something that makes Tom very happy. I’m determined to finish this before xmas, since everything else I ordered for him is going to arrive after the new year; the company didn’t bother telling me that half of my order was out of stock until I contacted them this week to ask about shipping (which I paid to have expedited when I ordered at the end of November). Needless to say, I’m not happy about that, since that was everything I’d planned for Tom for the holiday. ūüė¶ I’ve never been happier to execute an impulsive sewing project, LOL!

Hopefully I will be back with updates next weekend–wish me luck, and no broken needles!!