About Me

Saturday, September 27, 2014

I made a rug!

Yes, the quilt is DONE!! It deserves a separate post though...
I wanted a rug "to define" our living room ever since we moved into our current apartment (more than a year ago...). We have one big room that serves as our living room, kitchen, home office, and sewing studio. I obsessed with furniture organization since we moved in order to define different areas, and a rug could help. We couldn't find anything we liked, we kept saying everything was too expensive to fit in our budget but I think we have become DIY snobs - unless we make it ourselves, we don't like it.

Searching Pinterest I found some tutorials for a DIY rug but most used an existing plain rug (we do have it in IKEA here, but it costs double than in the US) or some sort of crochet pattern I assumed would take me forever to complete and won't fit our budget anyway. I didn't want a project that was too complicated or used many products I didn't have on hand. Instead I aimed for simplicity, assuming the "perfect rug" would be one I can complete in a reasonable amount of time (and money). Eventually we had the idea to use a thick piece of fabric on top of an anti-slip mat. We searched for the perfect print but we couldn't find anything we liked and was thick enough for a rug, so we decided to paint ourselves a plain piece of fabric. We chose this rug from Urban Outfitters as our inspiration (I say "we" because it was a mutual decision), after scrolling Pinterest for black and white geometrical rugs for HOURS.

I used a regular pencil to draw the pattern (with my quilting ruler) and black acrylic paint. Despite initial concerns (the first two lines turned out awful) we both like the end result, and it took only a few hours to finish the entire thing. I should say that the cheap acrylic I used changed the texture of the fabric so it isn't soft as the unpainted parts, but I know there are some paints designed to be used on textiles (I couldn't find any). I'm very happy with this project, it was way easier than I expected and the impact it makes in our small home is incredible. 

Anti-slip mat: 39 ISL (10.61 $)
fabric: 68 ISL (18.5 $)
paint: 20 ISL (5.5 $)
Total: 127 ISL (34.61$)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

One Week One Pattern - my reflections

First I should come clean and say I wore my self drafted boat neck tops for only 5 days.On the first day of the challenge I forgot it was September 6th and wore a date night dress (for a morning coffee date) and on the last day I was shadowing doctors in a medical institute as part of my studies so I wore scrubs. As much as I think these awful scrubs deserve some scrutinizing (seriously, these things are unisex and the crotch on the pants is designed exclusively for men. I look like a big pile of sea foam when I wear it), lets concentrate on five days of OWOP for this post.

The gist of OWOP, one-week-one-pattern, is to wear variations of the same pattern for a duration of a week, and get creative in mixing and matching garments to get the most out of an existing pattern. For me this challenge isn't about having 7 garments made from the same pattern and wearing them for a week, which is mostly what I did this time, and thus I don't think I succeeded in the challenge very much. I love the idea of taking a versatile garment and dressing it up or down to create a variety of outfits suited for different occasions.  However by the third day of the challenge it had become clear to me that my work-wardrobe was rather boring and I had very little versatility in my daily outfits.

I currently have five tops from the same pattern (self-drafted), two of which are from woven fabrics, two are cropped, and one has long sleeves. I like the way they fit and these garments are potentially very versatile, if only I had more than one type of bottoms to pair them with. I usually wear pants for work, but I have multiples from the same pattern (and one pair of slacks), so I don't have any interesting combinations. Of course I could (and should) accessorize the same silhouette differently, but I usually don't do it (even thought I have plenty accessories. go figure).

So lesson number one:
Think more about accessorize. 

Starting September the temperature in Jerusalem (the capital of Israel, where I live) drops. As much as I dislike the city, the weather here is great year-round and in the fall it's especially comfortable. It's the perfect weather for fall scarves, which could be such an easy make. I should try it at least once in the coming months.

As I wear mostly the same type of pants, every morning I wanted to grab a skirt and wear it to work, and every morning realized I didn't have any that could go nicely with loose fitting tops. The moss skirt (cut and ready to be stitched) would probably be a great addition to my closet. It's fitted but not formal, and the lack of fluff means I won't be afraid to have wind blowing it up. While I don't like wearing short skirts, I'm not as self-conscious with a pair of legging underneath.
lesson number two:
Try to incorporate more skirts 

Lastly, it had become very clear to me that my workplace is seriously ugly and uninspiring. I work at a lab and mostly sit in front of a computer. I love my job, I love research, and I do the coolest things ever, but in the ugliest environment possible. When I asked a friend to take my pictures during the week we couldn't find one real spot within the building that had nice lighting or reasonable background. While work environment can affect our productivity, there isn't much I can do about it (and frankly I accept it as it is, I love fashion and interested in interior design, but it isn't REALLY important. I'm grateful for doing what I love everyday, the rest is just details). However, combining the ugly and disorganized environment with loose fitting casual clothes results in me feeling frumpy and juvenile.

I had some interesting discussions with my friends at the lab regarding our casual dress code. Israel is a Mediterranean country so it's a casual dress code all around. Most of Israel is too hot to wear anything more formal, and it couldn't be more apparent than in the university, where it's very acceptable not to care about one's attire (or at least act as if you couldn't care less...). There's a fine balance between a casual look and a frumpy look. I should pay more attention to it. Mostly, I should just accept that while some of my older me-makes are still wearable, they may not be suitable for my age and state of employment anymore.

so... lesson number three:
Get rid of things 

I learned a lot from this challenge and It made me think again about my fabric+pattern choices. I wish there was another challenge coming up (like self-stitched September), I don't want to wait until MeMadeMay. Until then... I have some thinking and sewing to do!


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Work in progress - quilt

Am I the only one overestimating the amount of sewing I can do in one (short) weekend? For this weekend I planned no less then 4 garments (moss skirt, knit top, "lady skater" dress and ultimate trousers). However when I came back home Friday afternoon I realized I had way too many UFOs to start new projects this weekend. I had the black Summer Dress that needed hemming and our new quilt I started in April. While I wanted to start new fall projects, especially after some realizations post OWOP, I know better than piling up UFOs. 

The hem on the black dress was done within a matter of minutes using a double needle. I started hemming the dress using a blind stitch, but since it's a knit dress I thought it wouldn't be sturdy enough. I've yet to take any "finished garment" pictures so I'll wait with posting about the process with this one. 

The quilt, however, is a different story. I started it months ago and planned on using a simple solid yellow for the back. But I had too many triangles left over from the top and I don't like scraps. I spent some time designing the back using the triangles but few weeks have past and I haven't started sewing it. A week ago I realized it will never happen. The new design required more cutting and calculating things (and converting cm to inches and vice versa), and I wasn't up to it. So yesterday I decided to just do it, stitched it, and today I finally basted the quilt sandwich. 

I had to move all the furniture and just barely had enough floor space to lay it down. I taped the back right side down to the floor, smoothing the fabric as much as I could.

 I was so happy to finally take the backing out of the closet. It took up so much space!

 I used all the pins I have, knowing I'll have to take the quilt off the machine and back on the floor mid-quilting to smooth the fabric and re-distribute the pins from areas I would already have quilted. 

I'm more than half way through with the free-motion quilting, my favorite part (and the reason I made the quilt in the first place...).
I hope I can finish it in next next few days, so it'll be off my "to do" list and on our bed!

Monday, September 8, 2014

The "Don't wait for perfection" denim Jedidiah pants

I have this rule of thumb, when I see bottom weight fabric that I like (or see some potential in) I buy 1.5 meters of it. I think it's more difficult to find pant-worthy fabric than other kinds designed for tops, and this is especially true if I want to sew something for D. I have the same rule for colorful / patterned masculine warm knits but these are impossible to source that early in the fall so I've yet to find fabric for our Finlaysons.

Anyway a few weeks ago we went fabric shopping together (!) and I came across some really nice blue denim with no stretch. Since I don't wear pants with no stretch, and since this nice fabric was too good to pass up I decided to buy 1.5, enough for Jedediah pants. 

The original plan was to re-draft the front piece (and the pockets) to make a jean-style pant. I wanted to use rivets as well, something I would like to try but never had the chance. But time past and I didn't touch the pattern yet. I'm lazy with drafting because it requires more floor-space and also I don't have tracing paper, so I either tape together printer paper, or use some other material I have which isn't optimal for pattern drafting at all.

Fast forward a few weeks and I read Emma's post about her 5 secrets to success, of which "don't wait for perfection" was three on the list. It isn't much of a secret, really. I think anyone who creates anything in their day-job is familiar with the struggle between wanting to produce the "perfect product" (now!) and the desire to FINISH a project knowing that the next projects will benefit from the experience gained in the previews ones. I found it difficult to let go of my idea with making a jean-style trouser but it had become clear to me that I rather make something now than wait forever until I find the time and patient to draft.

One change I didn't give up on was facing the back pockets. I've made this pattern in the current style 3 times before, and pressing under the seam-allowance on the back pockets gave me trouble each time. I don't like how the seam allowance is exposed inside the pocket, especially not on a pair destined to be worn by someone else whom I don't expect to take special care of his clothes. Usually I just serge the seam allowance, taking advantage of the serged edge to guide me with folding the seam allowance. This time I wanted to try something different with a completely faced pocket. I used some remnants from my stash and faced the pocket by sewing the self piece and facing piece right sides together around the entire pocket, leaving a small hole through which I could turn the pocket inside out. I didn't want the facing to show so I cut it a little smaller to account for the turn-of-cloth. Overall I'm happy with the result!

I tried flat felled seams but it didn't work out too well on the crotch seam. I think the fabric is just too thick to work with this seam finish. for the side seams I used binding, but forgot to finish the curved edge of the zipper extension. Also, as seen below, I didn't cut the top stitching thread after knotting it. I was too afraid it will unravel.

D likes his jeans and the fit is great. I changed the order of construction so that sewing the side seams was the last step before the waistband. I prefer this order because it allows for last-minute fit alternations on top of making inserting the zipper a little less complicated.
I added bar tacks on the front pockets openings. As illustrated in the below picture (he's raising his arms above his head) that's a point of stress on the pants. From the side the facing of the back pockets shows a little, proving my efforts to account for turn-of-cloth unsuccessful. I'll play with it some more on my next makes, what can I say, it's a learning process...

Despite all of the minor mishaps I think it's the most successful pair I made so far! And I'm glad I didn't wait "for perfection" with this make, It's the best fitting pair of jeans he now owns!

pattern (calculated cost per make):   1.52 $ *
fabric: 37 ILS = 11$
notions = 10.5 ILS = 3$
Total = 15.52$ (55 ILS)

* I bought the pattern as part of the Parkland Wardrobe Builder for a total of 27.5$, or for 9 dollars per pattern. I've made this pattern 6 times so far, so the relative cost for each make is about 1.52 dollars.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Lift is too short to cut the wrong size PDF pattern

Lately it happens too often that I cut the wrong size after assembling a PDF pattern. A few months ago I finally decided to make a moss skirt, a pattern I was initially reluctant  to try because I thought it would be too short, but I saw enough good variations on the web to convince me otherwise. So after going through the annoying part of finding a printer and assembling the PDF I cut size 2 based on my archer size. Of course it's a completely illogical decision, you can't base you skirt size on your loose-fitting button-down, but my decision was somewhat supported by my hip measurement (around 35.6 inches. I measure in cm and convert to inches). After making the half-muslin I realized I need a size 4, meaning going through the annoying printing+taping+cutting process.

Today I finally assembled the pattern again and successfully made a half-muslin (I traced the pattern to the muslin before cutting it to avoid another PDF cutting fail) and I hope I can sew the skirt during the weekend. I do intent to add a bit of length to the bottom though...

The only problem I have with Jen's patterns is the half inch seam allowance. My machine (as well as the rest of my life) is in metric, and I never know what line to follow. I finally put some tape 1/2 inch from the needle to guide me when I make this skirt. 

On other news, after writing the last post I realized the REAL reason for avoiding my summer dresses project is my fear of failing it and ruining the nice black knit fabric with all its potential. But nice black knit fabric doesn't help me much when it's suck in the closet, so I decided to ditch my original plan and just hack it. I still have to hem to hand-stitch so I don't know what I think about it yet, but at least I tried! Once I'm done with the hem I'll write a proper post describing how I eventually drafted the pattern.

The black dress shares the ironing board with leftover fabric from an owl pillow and a fitted shirt I want to cut into a tank. Floral fabric for pants and thick fabric for a rug patiently wait on the daybed.