The Return…

… of the sewjo.

I mean, really, it’s about time. I sewed like a nut all summer then when autumn hit my motivation sort of vanished for, oh, a couple of months. It’s definitely back, though, so expect more finished makes showing up here.

I’ve yet to figure out what to do about winter photos. I prefer outdoor photos, but winter in Atlantic Canada is not a time to be fluttering around outside wearing fewer layers of clothing than are required to, you know, not freeze. I’m not pleased with how my indoor photos, look, either, so… I don’t know.

Anyhow.

I finished my Esma top and I love it! The tie detail is super-cute, and I’m always a fan of grown-on sleeves. I had to make zero alterations to this pattern. Next time I may make it an inch longer because I’m finding that as the day goes on it tends to creep up a little and show my bellybutton through the tie cut-out.

Great pattern, though. Recommended. I like the version with the tie best but there’s a plain version, too. The front detail is easier to sew than I thought it would be, so that makes the whole thing a super-simple project with a cute result.

This seems like it might be a good one for knits, too. Knits with structure, anyway – and then you’d probably end up with a nice athletic-style top. I might have to try that at some point. Either way there are more of these in my future.

It’s 6:23 am and I’ve been awake for an hour, so I think it’s probably time to start the small army of pajama pants I’m sewing for holiday gifts this year.

It’s almost November…

… and you know what that means.

For a number of reasons, mostly health-related, I’ve decided that playing by the rules – i.e. writing at least 50,000 words in November – is out of my reach this particular year. Instead, I’ve set a goal that should be enough of a challenge without being unattainable. I won’t end up with a novella, but I will, if it works out as planned, be able to continue a series of short stories.

Lots of sewing plans in November, too, so I’m going to have to manage my time well (and that includes time for adequate rest and self-care). I have some red corduroy that wants to be a Sienna Maker jacket. I don’t have the replacement buttonhole foot for my machine yet – the one that was included with it seems to have been lost when I moved – but given that buttonholes will be one of the last steps I can certainly get started.

There’s also an Esma top that’s lingering with only a couple of seams left to sew. I want to make another Pembroke, too, out of purple hedgehog-print jersey from l’oiseau fabrics (awesome shop – highly recommended). And I’ve also had an Everyday dress cut out for literal months and still haven’t sewn it – it keeps getting pushed to the side in favour of other projects.

But right now, I need sleep. And tea. Possibly not in that order.

A Feathery Fringe

I have several new patterns waiting to be assembled and cut and sewn, and what do I do? I make another Fringe blouse. It’s been staring at me half-done for… well, a while, but this week I managed to get it finished a few minutes at a time. It’s not my best work, but it’s cute and wearable. I love the feathers, but I’m not sure about the scale of the print now that I see it sewn up – I think something a bit bigger and a little more random would have been best.

Excuse the substandard indoor headless photo, but I’m low on spoons today so it’s the best I could manage. This week has been rough, but I said enough about that last entry.

I have a cut of pink-and-grey floral cotton that’s going to become the Esma top I mentioned yesterday, but I’m not sure yet whether I have the energy to both assemble the pattern and cut the fabric tonight. I’ll get it started, at least, and go from there.

Sewing Machine Innards

So this happened a few days ago. On my machine, there’s a metal ring that keeps the connector for the foot pedal secured to the back of the machine; last week it fell off, and the connector dropped back inside the machine where I couldn’t reach it or plug the foot pedal into it. We do have a local (so-called) repair shop, but they’re also a dealer and only service machines bought from them.

So that left me on my own. Opening up the machine was super nerve-wracking – what if I budged something out of place that screwed the tension or something? – and the parts I needed to get at were behind the whole computer assembly thing so I had to unscrew a lot of components and move them aside. It worked, though! I got things connected, put the machine back together, and it’s been purring along like I never touched it.

I’m not eager to do it again, but at least now I know I can if I need to.

I haven’t been particularly productive, lately, in the sewing or writing or reading departments, but then, this time of year is always difficult for me. The past three winters have each resulted in a health crash and several months off work, and I don’t want this year to be number four. In the past I’ve been very guilty of pushing myself along while ignoring warning signs and symptoms, but I’m doing my best to avoid that now and in the future.

Case in point: things have been heading downhill the past few weeks, so I went to my doctor and am off work this week while we adjust some medications and try to get things back on the right track. I’d rather it be a week now than months later, so. To be honest I probably need more than a week – two would be ideal – but my financial situation won’t allow for that so I’m doing the best I can with what I’m able to take.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to finish one of my in-progress projects: a feather-print Fringe blouse. I think I might hack the pattern into an a-line swing top, but first, I think next in line will be an Esma top from Blank Slate Patterns. The version with the hem band tie, because I’ve been looking for a top like that but all the RTW ones I can find don’t fit properly.

Alive, Mostly.

Not a lot of sewing going on around here at the moment – I’m laid up with a virus from hell plus sinus, throat, and ear infections. It’s all starting to clear up but oof, when my immune system goes down for the count (which it does not do often) it really goes down.

I’m not someone who can generally just sit and watch TV without doing anything else at all, but I spent a number of days over the past two weeks doing just that. I mostly rewatched favourite things, like Good Omens (… more than once), a bunch of Marvel films, Yuri On Ice, Law & Order: SVU, and various Star Treks.

The one productive (if you can call it that) thing I managed to do was… er, make my cats an Instagram of their own.

Follow them at fur.for.brains for furry funtimes, I guess. They’re nerds but they’re excellent nerds.

One More!

And one more project coming in just under the wire before I head back to work tomorrow. Vacations are always too short, aren’t they? It’s another Ione top, and the few mods I made turned it into the easiest project ever to round out the week. I overlapped the yoke and body pieces and omitted the sleeve bands, which meant I ended up with two pattern pieces, four seams (shoulders and sides), three hems (sleeves and body), and a neck binding. That’s it.

For mods, I overlapped the yoke and body pieces by the amount of the seam allowance and taped them together to end up with a single piece for each of the back and front. I omitted the sleeve cuffs, and bound the neckband with bias tape I cut from the fabric leftovers. I also made it a couple of inches longer since I felt the front was too short and fell to a weird length on me last time.

Fabric is cotton from the stash. I have so much cotton, people. It’s the only thing I can buy locally – the fabric shop in town is mostly for quilters – and I inherited a bunch from my mother, too. Most of my fabric shopping has to be done online, although right now there is zero of that going on because I have to save for a new computer.

… Every time I look at the photos I take of my makes, I think the same thing: FFS, self, please learn to properly smile for a photo. I always think I’m smiling, and then I get inside and check the photos and even if I took 50 of them I’m making pretty much the same face in all of them. Sigh.

I’m tempted to spend the rest of the evening curled up on the sofa in the sun with a book – our local library has expanded its hours so it’s open a few evenings a week plus Saturdays, so now I don’t have to depend on Overdrive and can wander the stacks once in a while. I’m fine with ebooks, but sometimes it’s nice to just poke through shelves and see what I find.

The one thing that gets me about Overdrive is that, in Canada, you can’t read library books on your Kindle. It works for Kobo, but for some reason Kindle isn’t supported yet, and from what I understand that’s entirely on Amazon’s end, not the libraries’. I have a Kindle Paperwhite that I adore and nearly always carry with me, but I can’t pretend that I’m not tempted to pick up a Kobo next time they go on sale just to be able to read library books on it – I find reading on my phone less than ideal.

I wish I’d known about Goodreads in 2006 when it launched; I’d love to have a history of all the books I’ve read in the past thirteen years (and before that, but that’s beside the point). I go through phases where I read like crazy and then phases where I read less, but I’ve pretty much always got a book on the go, regardless of whether it takes me a day or two weeks to read.

There’s a used bookshop here in town that relies on donations; all the proceeds go to the local animal shelter and the staff are all volunteers. The books I buy from there tend to go back as donations to be sold again after I’ve read them, unless they end up new favourites or ones I want to read multiple times.

I used to buy a lot of books and keep them all – I had over a thousand at one point – but over time I’ve come to a point where I don’t want to have a ton of stuff cluttering up my living space. I do still have some bookshelves and that’s never going to change, but when I finish physical books, now, I try to think about whether or not I’m likely to re-read (or whether the book is otherwise special to me and/or rare) and pass the book on to someone else, or to the used bookstore, if I’m not. Plus I make much more use of the library than I used to.

Patterns and Pins and Things

A few posts ago I had pondered the best way to store my printed PDF patterns, since I wasn’t keen on either the creases from folding them or the curled edges from rolling them into tubes. I ended up getting a small set of pants hangers and trying it that way, attaching the patterns and hanging a few in the mostly-empty closet in my craft/writing room – and I think I like it a lot. Everything stays together and nothing gets warped. Think I’ll do all of my patterns that way.

I’m also experimenting with using clips instead of pins. I still do need pins for some things, but I’m not keen on having a lot of them around because I have a cat who’s fascinated by them – if I leave them unguarded he’ll start pulling them out of the pincushion one by one and batting them around – and I’m scared he’s going to hurt himself. I try to be careful, always sticking pins back into the pincushion as I take them out of my fabric and then putting it all away when I leave the room, but pins have a tendency to scatter no matter what I do, so clips seems the safest way.

Do any of you use clips? What do you think of them as compared to pins?

I’m having major pattern envy lately. It’s really only been in the last several months that I’ve started sewing garments for myself, rather than making endless bags and/or sewing costumes at my local dance studio. My pattern library is, at the moment, really small, and because my health is so up and down I often don’t have extra funds to add to it – so I end up sewing the same things multiple times. Which is okay, since when I like something I want it in all the colours/prints, but sometimes I do get caught up in all the new pretties coming out and wishing I could sew more than I’m able to at the moment.

It’ll pass. It always does. And I’m grateful for my fabric stash, because it means I can keep sewing even when I’m not doing so great.

… Now that I mentioned dance (for a millisecond), though, I have to also mention that classes resume on Monday and I’m so excited for the new season. It’s modern, ballet, and tap for me this year again. Yes, you can be a fat girl and dance. The studio I dance at is wonderfully non-judgemental and inclusive, and I appreciate that too much for words.

A few shots that I took last year of the studio’s competitive team. Dance photography is another thing that brings me joy.

Right, back to the machine. The project in the clips photo is another Ione top I started this morning. If I still had a serger I could have it done in record time, but having to sew then finish the seams on the regular machine makes it stretch out a little longer.

Blue, Blue, and Blue.

It was rainy, windy, and 9 degrees this afternoon, but that didn’t stop me from standing outside under the trees getting cold and damp with my camera remote in hand. Believe me, though, I stayed outside just long enough to half-ass the photos.

Not sure what I’m going to do about photographing my sewing in a couple of months. Winters here are frigid and snowy and I don’t have a patio or front porch to scuttle out to for a few minutes to grab some shots. Not keen on taking indoor shots, either, as I live in an apartment that doesn’t really lend itself to satisfactory backdrops.

Anyhow.

Isn’t this cotton fabulous? I managed to get a hold of a remnant that was just enough for this Victory tank. Like the last one I made an all-in-one facing instead of a lining – I think I’ll have to tack it down at the underarms, though, because it seems to want to flip even with careful pressing. It’s a bit of a mashup of view A and B – I didn’t put the v-straps on the front, but I did put the cut-out and tiny strap on the back because it’s an adorable detail.

And two more! First, another Victory, this time from rayon I cut from a dress that doesn’t fit anymore. It’s super-light and is really comfortable to wear. The second is an Ione top; this time around the only mods I made were to shorten the sleeves and leave off the bands in favour of narrow hems. I love the colours and shape with this but next time I’ll make it just a couple of inches longer, as I think it ends in an awkward spot on my belly. If I had any more of the tie-dye fabric I’d make a band for the bottom, but it was another remnant that I had just enough of to cut the colour-blocked pieces.

I have a bunch of fabric set out on my cutting table… but I think I’ll wait until tomorrow to choose a project, because bed is calling my name.

And Today…

I’m starting to get the feeling that this vacation is turning into a sewcation – I mean, I’m on day two of seven and I’ve already finished 3 projects with just the hem left on a fourth.

Today’s make is a Fringe top in mystery stash tartan. It was kind of a pain in the arse to sew because it frayed every time I looked at it, but I like the result. I think it’ll be a good top for autumn, because the fabric is more substantial than a summer cotton but without being too thick or heavy.

I didn’t make too many alterations to this one – just raised the waist due to both my height and my preference for a higher waistline, and then shortened the sleeves a bit so they didn’t end at an awkward length. My waist and hips are technically a couple of inches outside the size chart on Chalk and Notch patterns but there was enough ease (and in the Victory tank) for it to fit anyhow.

I found Starry Night (the Van Gogh painting) inspired fabric! Just a remnant, but enough for another Victory tank. That’s the project that just needs the hem, and the only reason it’s not finished is that I ran out of the right colour of thread. I picked up another spool this afternoon, though, so that’ll be first on the list this evening.

Pembroke & Victory

Two new makes today!

 

First, a slightly-hacked Pembroke tunic. I shortened it a lot, then changed the neck binding to a band to match the sleeves; I added a band to the bottom, too, instead of hemming, for a more sweatshirt-y kind of vibe. The fabric is a soft, stretchy french terry from l’oiseau fabrics and it is pajama-level comfortable.

You know, stripe matching is immensely satisfying when it works, but it’s also a right pain in the arse. Especially when said stripes are watercolour-style ‘painted’ ones that vary in width and colour. I managed to match them up really well all things considered… and then I tried on the top to discover that, for some unfathomable reason, it was a bit too snug. So those nicely-coordinated seams got ripped out so I could insert a narrow strip down each side. I cut the stripes vertically on the inserts because a) design element, and b) nope, not matching those things again.

My second top of the day is a Victory tank, and I hacked it a little bit, too, though it doesn’t show. The tank as drafted is fully lined, but because I was short on fabric I cut an all-in-one facing instead. I wasn’t even sure if it was going to work, because I’d never sewn an all-in-one before let alone cut one freehand, but it worked fine and I think the burrito method is my new best friend.

I’ve already finished another one of these and cut out two more. With or without the v-straps it’s definitely going to become a wardrobe staple – it fits well and I love the swingy hem.

I’m on vacation this week – it’s a staycation, of course, but I’m absolutely all right with that. I plan to do a lot of sewing and a lot of writing, and other than that, well, I’ll just see what comes my way.