Saturday, October 20, 2012

Simplicity 2172 - The Coat (Part 3 - Sleeves and Ruffles)

More Coat!

So I don't have too much to say about the sleeve flanges. They went together easily and were pinned on the coat and look nice. There is a lot of basting in this section so: be prepared!  The flanges could easily be left off if you don't like them.  I also saw one version of this coat at Dragon*Con with the flanges and not the sleeves to make a "short-sleeved" version of this coat.  Something that would have been very helpful in the Atlanta Summer weather.  :-)

Full Arm Adjustment
The sleeves are meant to be close fitting, however I have big upper arms.  A quick tissue-fitting proved my assumption that the sleeves won't fit as is.  Even with ready-to-wear clothes, I find the sleeves too tight. I did a Full Arm Adjustment per the instructions in the book Real Fit for Real People by Patti Palmer and Maria Alto. Honestly, I was fearing this portion of the sewing. I never did any sort of adjustment on a pattern with this method before.  It is a lot easier than I expected. In the end, I think I made the sleeves a little too big, but they fit well enough.

What I'm most proud of on this coat are the ruffles.  I don't know why, but I seriously love them!  I used Kona Cotton solids in a color that matched the lining.  I think it's called wineberry.  The cotton is light and not stiff, and oh so nice to sew (especially after fighting with the polyester on the dress).  I also used an adjustable edger foot that I found in my grandmother's tin.  This tin is something I forget about sometimes.  It contains all sorts of presser feet and needles and bobbins and what-nots in it.  I also found a rolled-hem foot and two ruffler feet.  Plus some more feet I'm not sure if they will fit my machine.  Most of them do, so it's pretty cool to have them.  :D

Presser feet from Grandma
The adjustable-edge presser foot really made it easy to sew the hem of the ruffles. They look really neat and straight.  I didn't use the ruffler for the ruffles, though.  I was a little unsure on how to use it.  I made the ruffles the normal way.  The cuff ruffles are sewn between the lining and the coat fabric.  The neck ruffle is hand-sewn around the neck.  Actually the neck ruffle was the last thing I sewn on this coat and I did it the night before we left to go to Atlanta!  Talk about sewing down to the wire!

The sleeves were attached to the main body of the coat.  This was the only tricky part since you have to sew through several layers of fabric.  I made sure to change my needle before I did this part so it would go through those layers easily and not snag.  The sleeve lining was hand-sewn in place around the armhole with a slip-stitch.
So far, the coat is looking pretty sharp!  :-)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Simplicity 2172 - Coat (Part 2 - The Lining)

Back to the coat I sewed for Dragon*Con!  Let's talk about the lining.  I was originally going to use a broadcloth as the lining but then thought it might make the coat too heavy.  While wandering around Jo-Ann's, I stopped by their lining selection.  I really liked the feel of their "Posh" lining collection.  And it came in a gorgeous wine color!  So it came home with me.

Lining: sewn together but not attached to coat
 Working with the stuff proved to be a nightmare!  Not a slasher-flick-I'm-the-only-one-that's-left-against-the-psycho-killer type nightmare, more like a my-dog-ate-my-sixteen-page-homework-report-that's-due-this-morning type nightmare.  The stuff holds static like crazy and it sheds everywhere.  The cut edges just frayed like no tomorrow, leaving lots of fuzz behind and making it annoying to sew.  But I really like how it drapes.  I can't complain too much since it doesn't add too much weight to the coat and it does feel decent against the skin.

Lining: sewn together but not attached to coat - back view
I did worry about how to understitch the coat since it seemed like it would be unwieldy to me, but I managed without too much trouble.  For sewing up the closing at the bottom (where you turn the coat right-side out after sewing the lining) instead of slip stitching it closed, I just sewed it closed with my machine using the appropriate thread colors for each side.  That part is all the way down by my ankles and no one will notice.  I also think it looks better than slip stitching and makes stronger stitches should I end up stepping on my coat or something like that.

Other than that I have no complaints with the lining.  The only thing I should add is not to cut fabric while drinking wine.  I had to cut a few pieces of the lining out twice due to a little too much wine-age!  :D

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Baby Shrug for Evie

With the Ravellenic Games 2012 far behind us, I'll just do a quick post on the only item I actually completed.  It is the Whirligig Shrug designed by Stefanie Japel, published in Interweave Knits Weekend 2009.

This the second time I knitted this pattern and it is one of my all-time favorite knits for kids.  It is sized for a 12-18 month old, but since it is a shrug there's a good chance of a long wear time.

Size: 12 - 18 months old
Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm) circular and dpns
Yarn: Valley Yarns Longmeadow
Color: Blue
Cast On: Jul 27 2012
Cast Off: Aug 11 2012

 Medals from events that the sweater competed in:

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The skirt comes together - Simplicity 1910

The whole skirt is almost done.  I'm finishing up the slip/petticoat that gives the skirt its poofiness. Here's some pictures of the overskirt/main skirt and being modeled by Mary.  I haven't hemmed the main skirt yet and that's actually going to be the last thing I do, just in case it needs to be a different length than called for.  These pics are without the slip/petticoat so you can't see just how poofy the skirt is.

 This is the skirt front.  You can see how the pleating in the skirt helps give the skirt the fullness and a little decorative touch.  The bodice still needs to be added to the skirt.  -->

<-- This is the back.  There's also pleating back here to give it that some poof.  You can also see how long the main skirt is.  The overskirt will be pulled up and draped with chains so I'm not so worried about the length of it.  The main skirt, when hemmed, will hit right above my friend's knee. 
There's a lot of layers basted together with the skirt: tulle netting attached to main skirt; main skirt; overskirt; and the pleats.  I still need to baste the slip/petticoat to the skirt for a total of five layers.  I'm counting the pleats since they add bulk to the skirt.  That's a lot to attach to the bodice.  I worry about the skirt pulling the bodice down too much because of bulk and weight.  I guess I'll find out when I sew it together.

In fact, the skirt portion of this dress relied on a lot of prep/basting.  The actually sewing of the pieces together was easy.  Don't skip steps!  If you're using slippery fabrics that basting is a life-saver.

The only step I do say to skip is the step where you hem the main skirt.  I say save that for last.  You want the dress to hit you correctly, regardless if you are making the short or long version.  My friend is tall so I don't want the dress to be too long or too short on her but find the right balance.  Contrariwise, I'm short, so if I was making the long version for myself, it'll end up dragging on the ground.  (And then I'll end up stepping on it, which reminds me of my junior prom and how I ripped the hem of my dress because it was too long on me, even in high heels.)

Hopefully I'll be returning to my coat in the next post!  But there's a lot coming up!  Dragon*Con is so close I can smell it in the air!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

About the Ravellenic Games 2012

Since 2008,, a social network site for knitters, crocheters, spinners and weavers, has hosted a challenge in during the Olympic Games.  The challenge is to start and complete a knitted/crocheted/weaved/spun object without the time-frame of the Games: 17 days.  One can also work on some WIPs and get them completed in the same time-frame.

It was previously called Ravelympics, but the name change is due to some legal issues.

Moving along, I'm excited by this year's challenge.  I've competed in both the 2008 challenge and the 2010 challenge.  In 2008, I actually completed the challenge, not so much for 2010.  This time around, I have a lot lined up and am looking forward to making some great knit-wear!  I'm hoping to finish a baby sweater for the niece; some washcloths for gifts, and hopefully, my dad's socks.  This year, I'm on Team TARDIS, so my little picture over there on the side is a mash-up of My Little Pony and Doctor Who.  Why?....Why not?  Those two just bring a smile to my face and make me happy.  ;-)

What's the matter with tulle?

Sorry it's been so long between posts.  It's been a little crazy over here.  So the skirt for Simplicity 1910 is nearing completion.  There's been some hiccups, most notably the cutting of the tulle.  Either I don't know how to read pattern instructions or these instructions are changing on a whim.  We (my friend and I) originally bought what we believed to be "enough" tulle according to the pattern envelope.  We get back to my sewing room, which is beginning to look like Jo-Ann's barfed up in it, and began cutting.  Turns out we were a little short and needed to go back and get some more tulle to cut.  So on a different day, we go back, get more tulle, and cut out the last piece for the skirt.  Then somewhere along the line, I decided to purchase more tulle, just in case.

Sewing ensues.  Cursing ensues.  Ripping ensues.  Then more sewing, more cursing, more ripping and a large glass of wine.  I wasn't expecting this nightmare!  I thought this would be an easy sew up.  But combining the too slippery fabrics: nylon tulle netting and polyester satin, proved to be my undoing.

The pattern calls for basting the tulle to the skirt pieces and then sewing the skirt up.  Fine, makes sense to me.  Now why doesn't that make sense to my machine?  Apparently my sewing machine's basting stitch has no tension at all.  So everything I basted, fell apart the moment I took it away from the machine.  Once I figured that out, and added some tension into the machine basting, it was easier basting.  Now getting the tulle pinned to the main fabric?  That was obnoxious.  The tulle kept slipping and shifting.  Once I got past those little obstacles, the skirt went together quickly.  Of course this involved more cursing and wine.

The overskirt is going together easily!  This is the first time I'm doing french seams, and it is a lot easier than I realized.  I'm not fighting with the sheer fabric as much as I did with the tulle.  The hemming was a little wonky, but it's done and the overskirt was basted to the main skirt.  

<- Overskirt in gold sheer, skirt in gold satin and tulle netting in gold.

Overskirt and main skirt, pre-hemming. ->

More Simplicity 1910 skirt next time!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Simplicity 2172 - Coat (Part 1)

Hello again! As promised, here's the first look of the coat.  The pattern is from Simplicity, who is jumping onto the Steampunk bandwagon and producing simple genre-inspired patterns like this one.  I'm only making the coat from this pattern.  I'm not particularly thrilled with the skirt or the corset, but I might find a use for them later on.  The coat is not really complicated, but it certainly looks difficult.  I cut these pieces out a while ago and just never found time to sew them up.  Now I find the fit is a little tight and I sewed a smaller 3/8" seam in the back to accommodate my size, though most of it fits without too much trouble.  It's cut out in size 18, if I was smart (and more honest about my figure) I should have done a size 20.  Why is it so easy to put on weight, but so darn hard to take it off!
The coat is going together surprisingly fast, so I feel pretty good about this one!

Fabric: all of it comes from Jo-Ann's

  • Medium-weight Cotton (or a high-content cotton blend) with a small textured check in a chocolate brown (sorry I can't give you too much info on this fabric, I thought I wrote it down somewhere but I can't find it)
  • Posh Lining in Wine (100% Polyester)
  • Symphony Broadcloth in Red Hot (65% Polyester, 35% Cotton) Decided not to use this as it didn't go with the color of the lining.
  • Pellon Fusible Interfacing, Featherweight
Thread: lost-label from stash, most likely an all-purpose polyester
Changes: Aside from stitching a smaller seam allowance on a the back seam, there have been no changes yet.  There will be some though, just haven't decided on which ones.  :-)

This is only the top portion of the coat.  I'm up to sewing together the lining.  I also encountered two problems.  Both were my fault but they turned out well in the end.

First, when sewing the flaps for the pockets, I forgot to cut one of the corners to make it easier to turn and ended up ripping the fabric. It was easy enough to fix and I eventually sewed everything together, but it just goes to show that sometimes you need to slow down and make sure you got everything trim, clipped, or snipped.  The good news is that the rip doesn't effect the coat at all and even if it was visible, it will give the coat a more worn-out look, which would make the costume even better. (Look at JJ in the back, he's upset that he can't play in the craft room!)

Second, turning the strings for the loops in the back.  I believe that turning loops is the bane of my existence with these costumes!  Because the fabric is a textured cotton, it was very difficult to draw the loops through themselves.  I fought for a good hour and a half trying to get those stupid things turned.  And sadly, there will be more loop-turning in my future.  I need to find a better method because I love clothes that tie in the back.

There's no real collar to the coat since it relies on the ruffle to finish that portion.  I'm doing the ruffle in a bright red to contrast nicely with the chocolate brown.  Here's another view of the back and side.  The fabric looks really good in this pattern and gives it that sort of rough/military feel I was going for.  I need to get some good close-ups of this material, because I really like it!  I found it with the military-esque fabric that Jo-Ann's sometimes carries.

This is the front.  Can't wait to get the lining in to really see the structure of the coat come together.  I'm not sure what kind of button closure I'm doing.  That's one of the things I'm playing with.  That's all I have for the coat!  Until next time!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Simplicity Pattern 1910 - Bodice

The adventures in sewing starts with the re-imagined Belle dress.  The pattern I'm using is Simplicity Pattern 1910, size 20.  I don't have it written down anywhere, but I believe we decided to make this on the big side so we can take it in where needed.

I just wanted to state at the beginning that this pattern has a mistake in it!  Pattern piece 3 is incorrect!  Please contact Simplicity at info(at)simplicity(dot)com to get the corrected piece.  Personally I was quite surprised at this as there is no mention of errata on their website.  However, I found the Simplicity personnel helpful and received the corrected pattern piece, and a coupon, in a quick and timely manner.  Also if you are making this pattern and have already cut out the incorrect piece 3, you can cut the corrected piece from what you have already cut out.  This is helpful if you have already cut and sewed up the bodice like I had and then found out the piece was wrong when you got ready to sew the bodice front to the bodice back.  Once I had the correct piece 3, it was smooth sailing for the bodice, well smoother at least.

Some stats before I launch into the making of the bodice:
Fabric: all the fabric came from Joann's.  
  • Crepe-back Satin in Gold (100% Polyester)
  • Anti-Static Lining in Champagne (100% Polyester)
  • Pellon Fusible Interfacing, Featherweight
  • Tulle Netting in Gold (100% Nylon)
Thread: Gutermann, 100% Polyester, color 797 (this color matches the fabric color almost exactly)
Changes: the bodice is pretty much as is in the pattern directions minus the trim around the top

Onto the sewing!

This first picture shows the pattern piece 3 that needed to be corrected.  What I'm sewing is the already re-cut pattern piece. The difference is about an inch is taken from the top of piece 3 so it can be sewn to the back at piece 7.  This was the first time I did princess seams.  A little tricky at first but I got the hang of it.  There's a really good article out there on princess seams at Gertie's Blog for Better Sewing.  Threads Magazine also has a good article on princess seams but it is no longer available to the general public, I was lucky enough to find it before they hid it behind a paywall.

Turning the loops was a pain!  If you plan on turning lots of loops in your sewing career, then I suggest getting one of those loop-turner gadgets.  It probably would have made all the difference when I was trying to turn the loops for the back of the bodice (and for my coat too, but that's another post).

Also the first time I worked with lining.  It turned out well, but the lining is slippery and I had to rip a few times before I got everything right.  Also I learned it pays to read the instructions closely, since I first sewed the back to the front on the wrong side.

The boning was also easy since the pattern calls for you to sew down the seam allowance and use that as the casing for the boning.  The only downside with the boning is trying to straighten it a bit since it came in a little pack all tightly rolled up.  Keep a sturdy nail-file with you when trimming the boning to sand off any really rough spots.  You don't want that stuff catching and damaging your hard work.  The boning used was a plastic "featherlite" boning by Dritz.

Sewing the lining to the bodice was a little tricky but it looks great!  The top part of the bodice where the lining and satin are sewn together still wants to roll a bit.  I think it needs to be pressed a bit more and that should help.  If not I'll search for another solution.  Understitching was not hard at all and I like that it helps keep the lining in place.

That's it for the bodice!  I'm getting ready to sew the skirt.  However, my next post will be about my coat.  Thanks for visiting!  :-)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Costumes for Dragon*Con

For those not familiar with Dragon*Con, well, how do I describe it?  It's huge, crazy, mash-up of fantasy, sci-fi, anime, horror, and pop culture goodness!  Me and my friends went last year for the first time.  I've seen it online and the pictures just don't convey how insanely big it is.  Head over to to check it out.

Anywho, the big thing at Dragon*Con is the costumes!  Even if you don't dress-up yourself, just sitting around in one of the hotel lobbies and checking out the costumes is one the favorite past times at this event.  I've seen everything from steampunk to period costumes to superheroes to sci-fi geekiness.  It's all in there!  While, I wanted to do a costume last year, my sewing machine and myself had a falling out.  So my costume last year was just off-the-rack-thrown-together suckiness.  This year will be different.

First off, I offered to sew up a costume for my friend Mary.  I'm just doing the base design and she's going to add all the details and doodads that make the dress and costume.  She wants a steampunk-inspired Belle from Beauty and the Beast (Disney version).  So I drew up a quick design on what she described to me.  It's not complete but just an idea on where to go.  Since the design, we've changed a few things.  She's working on the details, since to me, it seems the details and the extra props, are what takes a costume from just simple to 'steampunk.'  I'm sure others would argue about that, but everything I saw at D*C suggests to me that without the proper accessories, the costume is just a period piece or a wannabe steampunk.

The dress is Simplicity Pattern 1910.  Please note that this pattern has a mistake in it!  Pattern piece 3 is incorrect!  I had to contact Simplicity and get the corrected pattern piece. I cut off some of my notes, sorry about that!  In the end, we shorten the skirt to make it easier for walking and escalator use.


Then for me, well, I like steampunk, but don't think I want to go that far.  In the end, it's more along the lines of a Western-inspired steampunk.  I'm taking some of my inspiration from Cavalry uniforms, particularly in the fabric selections.  I probably won't have time to make the corset that I wanted to do, but as long as I get the coat done then I can figure out what to do for the other parts.

The coat is actually called a redingcote.  A redingcote, French corruption of the English "riding coat," is a great overcoat typically worn for horseback riding. By the late 19th century, the style of the redingcote went from being quite utilitarian to a fashion statement of a long fitted and open coat to show off the skirts beneath.  For more history on this coat please see Redingcote History.  I like the idea of a "riding coat" since I'm making my costume more along the lines of a airship captain or something similar. (I do plan on writing up a little story to fit my character when the costume is complete.)

My coat is from Simplicity Pattern 2172.  That is pretty much the only part of this pattern that I'm making.  I really like the cut of the coat.  The rest of my costume is still to be determined.

You can see how in the Simplicity 2172 pattern, without the right accessories, the outfit just looks like a period-inspired piece.  Even the way it's modeled on the envelope looks more Victorian-inspired outfit, then steampunk.  But that could just be me.

The models, or 'croquis,' I used to draw up my designs come from Designers Nexus.  I really suck at drawing, so I only use my designs as idea guideposts.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Garlic Glazed Meatballs

For the Super Bowl, friends gathered at my house to watch the commercials, I mean game, and eat some awesome food!  I decided to try something a little different for the crock pot!  I'm sure many people are aware of the traditional version of sweet n sour meatballs that feature grape jelly and chili sauce.  I had a couple of jars of garlic jam and decided to change up the recipe.  It came out really tasty!  While you can use bottled chili sauce, I made my own quick variation since I wasn't crazy about the sauces I found in the store.  This recipe makes a lot for a crowd, but it could be halved for a smaller group.  As long as you take care and know that the canned/bottled items you are using are gluten-free, then this recipe is gluten-free.

Garlic Glazed Meatballs

3 cups of chili sauce (see recipe below for a quick substitution)
2 jars (8 ounces each) of garlic jam (I make my own)
4 teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar
2 pounds of ground beef
2 eggs
1 onion, minced

Mix ground beef, eggs and onion together until well blended.  Form 1-inch meatballs.  Set aside for the moment.  (Or make ahead and keep refrigerated until ready to cook)
Mix the chili sauce, garlic jam and vinegar together.
Spread a little in the bottom of a large crock pot (at least 4-quart or more).
Add some meatballs, then some more sauce, layering as you go and finishing with the sauce.  This gets all the meatballs covered without disturbing them.
Cook on low for 3 - 4 hours.

Quick Chili Sauce (makes 3 cups, you could play with this and add whatever spices to suit your taste)

3 cups of tomato sauce (home-made or from the can)
3/4 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons of vinegar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or allspice

Mix all ingredients in a bowl until well blended.  You can store in the refrigerator until needed.

Monday, January 16, 2012

New year!

It seems this poor blog gets forgotten about quite often.  :-(   Well, I'll try better to keep it up.  :-)  For the first post of the new year, here's a little something my friend and I did yesterday: Orange-Cardamom Curd.

After reading the comments of the post I saw that about a 1/4 c of zest and 1/2 c of juice was needed for the recipe.  This is good to know since I was using Florida oranges.  They're smaller than navel oranges but just as juicy.  I needed the zest of three oranges, but only needed to juice two.

I really love how this came out.  The recipe only makes a pint.  I put it into two half-pint jars and one of those jars is already half-empty!  It went great on the gluten-free cinnamon-raisin bread I baked. So tasty!  Now I need to make some waffles or muffins for the rest of the curd.

Be warned!  It took a long time for us to make curd.  I think we had the heat too low.  All the other recipes I've read for curd say that it should take 10 - 20 minutes to thicken.  Ours took a lot longer than that.  Even my friend said she remembers it taking quite a bit of cooking and stirring before her first effort at lemon curd thickened.  I never made curd before and this was quite an experience.  As tasty as it is right off the stove, I think letting it cool and thicken really brought the sunshine out on this treat.  It's on my "to make again" list but you have to be someone really special to get a jar of it from me.  ;-)