Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Covering Pillows

February 7, 2013

My brother and sister-in-law bought a new couch recently and I offered to cover pillows for them.

My sister-in-law provided the supplies and I figured out a way to work without a pattern. It’s not the most scientific method, but it seems to have worked and I didn’t need to take a trip to buy a pillow cover pattern.
DSC04977Because pillows are thick, I knew I had to account for their width when establishing the dimensions I needed. Luckily, these pillows were not oddly shaped so this was easily accomplished
I rolled the pillow to each edge on the fabric and marked the touch down points with pins.
DSC04978I cut along the pins to make a large square. This was for the front side of the pillow. I then cut a piece that was 3/4 the length of the square but the same width and another piece that was about 1/2 the length of the square. These pieces were for the back where the opening to insert the pillow would be.

I folded down and hemmed a section of each small piece. I used a zig zag stitch to make it a little bit decorative.
DSC04980Then I layered the two back pieces on top of the front piece so the shorter piece would be on the inside when the pillow sham was turned right side out and I serged the whole thing together.
DSC04975Of course sergers leave long lines of serged thread at the end. My serger class taught me to finish serger seams by threading the excess thread into a needle and weaving it back into the serged seam.
Because there are four strands of thread braided together, the piece is too big for the eye of a standard needle. I use a darning needle and thread the excess back through the actual stitch rows rather than the loops.
DSC04981Once done, I turned the shams right side out and stuffed the plain pillows inside.
DSC04984The finished product.


A Perfect Zipper

February 5, 2013

I am working on the SWAP, but I am somewhat behind on my work plan. I have completed my December goal but I have not yet started making the pants or coat.
In the process, though, I had a chance to practice zippers a bit. Invisible zippers have always been a struggle for me. I have an invisible zipper foot but I’ve had difficulty stitching close enough to the zipper teeth to actually make the zipper invisible. You may have noticed that the zipper tape is often visible which is the exact opposite of how it is supposed to be.

I’m rather proud that I got it right for this version of Burda 8155: my favourite skirt pattern.


See, no zipper tape.


A dress for a wedding

February 3, 2013

Last summer, my sister asked me to sew her a dress for a wedding she was going to. She chose McCalls 6557 and some cream cotten eyelet with navy blue accents.

I made a muslin with a little bit of help…

Once I made the muslin, my sister came over for a fitting so I could do the necessary alterations.

Here is how the dress turned out.

From the front
from the back

She says the dress was very comfortable to wear.


Getting Serious About 2013

January 12, 2013

Okay, if my week at work was any indication, the holiday season is over and 2013 has officially begun. This means I’m a little late on my annual review and goal setting but you already know about the SWAP Plan so you’re not completely in the dark.

Last year, I made 5 sewing and blogging goals for myself. Let’s see how I did:

1. SWAP 2012. Well I completed most of it and blogged about it at the end of the summer. I didn’t get photos done in time because I got sick so I didn’t actually enter but some of the items I made have become wardrobe standards like the white pants which I wore all summer long with the highest pair of heels I’ve ever owned, and the floral blouse which officially made McCalls 5661 into one of my go to patterns.

2. Trench coat. I finished the trench coat at last!!
Here it is again because I’m excited to have finished it and I plan  to make another coat this year:

3. Complete some other online challenge. Okay, I did this one but I kind of kept it quiet because I didn’t have time to blog it and because I’ve not shared much of my inner non sewing geek on this blog. Last spring, I started following the Star Wars blog and podcast (haven’t really been keeping up with the podcast) Tosche Station. And they had a contest to create a new outfit for the character Mara Jade (links to Wookiepedia) who, despite always being written as having pockets, is always drawn as wearing a skin tight catsuit devoid of pockets.

So I spent time looking at Star Wars images and got out some of my fashion and costuming books. Then I got all Frankenpatternie, bought a wig that doesn’t quite flatter my skin tone, and came up with this:

I think I would like to spend more time figuring out how I think she would have actually dressed. There could be some designing in it.

4. Comment on Sewing blogs. I’ve tried to  be good about commenting but I didn’t become the contributor I intended to be. I’ve found that Blogger isn’t always good about recognizing my WordPress identity so I wind up just commenting under my name. I will have to work on that more.

5. Read Costuming books. I read through a few of them but I have plenty to  go.

So that was 2.5 – 3 out of 5. I’m getting better.

This is what I would like to accomplish in 2013

1. SWAP 2013. I would like to complete this year’s SWAP and then I think it might be time to take a break from this particular contest and explore others.

2. Learn to sew undergarments. I’m one of those people who can never find attractive looking bras in my size, so I’d like to learn how to make my own.

3. Take part in 2 other online challenges/contests. Contests help me learn to sew to a deadline which is something I have difficulty doing.

4.Redecorate my sewing room. The room needs to be decorated and I would like to do that this year.

5.Add more in process photos to my entries. Sometimes I forget to take photos while sewing. I want to remember to do more of this this year.

I didn’t quite make my first goal on my SWAP work plan. I made the two shirts but haven’t done the skirt yet. That is on the agenda for this weekend.

I will have pictures.


Sew Curtains

December 14, 2012

So I’ve taken a break from clothing sewing and branched out into a bit more home decor. It’s taken a year but I’ve finally done some decorating in our house. My Christmas gift to my husband has been to redecorate his gaming room so he can use it as an office as well. I took the opportunity to make it into a room that a video game geek would love.

One of the key elements to this was the window treatment. The game room has a southern exposure so it gets a lot of light during the day and the light causes glare on the TV screen making it difficult to play. For the past year, we have dealt with this by draping an old rubber backed curtain over the window and holding it in place with thumbtacks. It was functional but looked awful.

BEFORE:curtainThere is clearly room for improvement.

I decided that the curtain would be a focal point for the room and went looking for some fabric that would appeal to a geeky gamer. I struck gold at where I found the design 8 Bit Memories, created by ilikemeat.  I had the option of different types of fabric and different weights. I bought two yards of the pattern in cotton poplin.


Of course the fabric is 42 inches wide and the window is 49 inches wide because that’s one of life’s rules, so my first step was to add a side border to the fabric to make it wide enough. I chose to do mine in black broadcloth.

DSC04921I think the black helps bring out the colours and images in the fabric as well.

I googled around for directions on making one’s own Roman Shades and eventually decided to follow the ones written by Steven and Chris who have a design show on CBC. I particularly liked their use of doweling and their helpful diagram.

I bought rubber blackout curtain lining because I knew the grey poplin would be pretty see through. I knew I should buy extra lining to allow for the creation of pockets for the dowels. Luckily this was easy as Spoonflower, like most American stores, sells fabric by the yard, and my local fabric store sells it by the metre so I had a built in length cushion.

I measured the fabric and marked out evenly spaced pockets for dowel rods. At first I made the pockets 1 inch in circumference but that got rather tight for the dowels so I increase them to 1.5 inches and spaced them about 8 inches apart.
Then I sewed the pockets in place and inserted the dowels.
DSC04926I used 7 dowels in  total. I didn’t use one right at the top because the instructions suggested using velcro to hang the curtain and a dowel would get in the way. I inserted one right across the bottom to weight down the last section and ensure it hung well when both open and closed.

Next was the hardest part. I had to centre the decorative fabric on the lining and ensure that the sides were straight and square. I did not have enough room in the sewing room to lay out the whole piece on a table so I wound up laying it out on my dining room floor.
DSC04928Stitching it together with the dowels was also a challenge
DSC04930 …and required some correcting
DSC04931But finally I had it all together.

The next step was to sew curtain rings at evenly spaced points across and down the curtain. I chose to do five rings across and six down to ensure there was plenty of support. The rings are clear plastic and are nearly invisible against the lining. I stitched each one to  the dowel.

Then I strung white string up through each column of rings and across to the top left and stitched velcro to the top of the curtain.
I stuck the other side of the velcro to the top of the window frame and hung the curtain.

This is how it looks when closed.
DSC04941I practiced pulling the strings to pull the curtain up and had to play with the tension on the different strings to make sure both sides of the curtain pulled up evenly. At first, the uneven strings cause the velcro to come undone, but once I made it even, that stopped happening.

When I had it right, I tied a knot in the strings to hold them at those varied lengths.

This is the open shade
DSC04945I then bought a curtain  tie holder that would hold the curtain in place when it was open.
I’ve noticed that my husband has started opening the curtain during the day to let the light in while he is at work. This, no doubt, makes the room more attractive to the sun seeking kitty cats.


SWAP Review/ Trench Sew-a-long

October 1, 2012

Okay, so my final push to finish my SWAP allowed me to take advantage of the rule that allowed for a couple of items to be started before the SWAP start date. I was running short on time and realized that I already had a partially complete coat: The Trench Sew-a-long coat.

I finally finished it!

This coat started as Vogue 8346. I selected the double breasted version, shortened it, increased the fullness of the skirt and added some trench coat features such as the epaulets on the shoulders. I also added pockets and pocket flaps because I need pockets.

While I know it is not perfect, I do wear it fairly regularly when a lightweight coat is helpful to have.

Here is another shot, closed:

And here is the lining. I love making neutral coloured items and then lining them with something bright:
Hopefully this coat is just the first of several coats as I have more ideas to work with yet.


SWAP Review #5: Two pencil skirts

September 26, 2012

So, despite my best intentions, I was not able to enter this year’s SWAP contest at Stitcher’s Guild. I got most of the sewing done, with some modifications to the plan but promptly got sick and wasn’t able to finish taking photos in time to submit them.

I still want to work through the items I made though. This year’s SWAP involved creating two iterations of the same article of clothing or even the same pattern when possible for several items and then creating a few other items as well.

I had the option with this SWAP, when creating two of the same type of clothing item, to either use the same pattern or not. For the skirts I decided to use two different patterns.

For the first skirt, I made yet another version of Vogue 7937.

This is, possibly, my favourite pattern. It is easy to sew, is small enough that Views A and B can practically be made from scraps. I have made views A and C in the past so this time I wanted to made view D. I pulled out some leftover four ply silk from an ill fated suit I tried to make a few years ago and stitched it up.

Here it is with the pink silk blouse I described earlier.

The other skirt was inspired by my RTW skirt shopping trip much earlier this year during which I decided that I really wanted a high waisted, wiggle skirt.

I had some tweed fabric that I will hopefully make a suit from in the future and I used it to make Burda 8155.

Here that one is:

It works quite well for work.