I wore it in public!

May 19, 2012 § 19 Comments

Being able to sew something you chose from style to fabric to cut and wear it soon after has been quite an empowering thing for me. And I can’t thank Rikka of Ricochet and AwayΒ enough for hosting the I will wear it in public challenge. My thanks too to all the ladies who participated and have been showing such support, considering that we come from all walks of life and have found sewing as our common ground. This was such a fun challenge to do.

You’ve seen the test dress, so you basically know what I’ve done, though I did a few changes.

Choose your fabrics. This time I chose a flowery print for the top and a solid aqua for the bottom.

For the top, it’s basically a tube top made from two rectangles of fabric. For the length, measure the top of your chest to your lower hip and sew at the sides.

Then fold in the top about half an inch. This will be the “casing” for your elastic. The elastic should be as snug as you’ll be confident to wear. What I did was take the elastic all the way around the top of my chest and cut it about two inches shorter.

Make sure to leave a small opening so you can insert your elastic.

Take the elastic all the way around then sew ends together and sew your opening closed.

Since I don’t have an . . . eherm . . . ample bosom, I wasn’t too confident about the dress being just a tube top, so I added straps to mine.

I know I should have kept the straps stitched from the inside of the tube but I never liked straps biting into my skin and sewed them on the outside πŸ˜€

And done.

I’m very happy about this dress and can’t wait to wear it to the beach. It’s very comfortable and perfect for this crazy desert heat. I got to wear out to lunch with a friend though. Thanks to Meagan for setting aside her disdain of public picture taking and taking this shot of me.

 

The accidentally grown-up dress

May 12, 2012 § 2 Comments

I’m not sure yet whether this is a happy accident or not, but I do know that this is not the dress I set out to do.

There I was, trying to recreate yesterday’s garment challenge dress with different fabrics and something completely different happened.

I did set out to do a sleeveless version, so I used a tank top for a pattern this time.

I chose a heavier print stretchy cotton fabric (yes, very technical) for the top and jersey knit for the bottom of the dress.

I sewed up everything together like before, except this time I wanted to try out a cowl neckline. Grab two rectangles. The length will depend on the neckline of your top, and the width depends on how “cowly” you want your neckline to be. Just make sure the fabric you use is the kind that would drape nicely. I used the same jersey knit as my skirt.

Sew up the sides of the rectangles together so you end up with a tube. Pin the right side of the “cowl” to the right side your top and sew right around.

When you flip the dress right side up, you’ll end up with something like this.

Now before you decide to go around robbing banks with this on, fold in the cowl in half and sew the bottom to your neckline again. And you’re done. Are you ready to see me all grown up? First let me show you the back.

I’m actually quite happy by how this turned out. It’s as close to professionally looking work I’ve ever done. I’m just not sure it’s me.

Takes some getting used to, I know! But still, this helped me try out something new with the cowl. Best of all, it showed me how my sewing and pattern making skills have improved a bit. All in all a good sewing day πŸ™‚ What do you think?

Two maxi dresses

March 24, 2012 § 4 Comments

I didn’t really have time for a step-by-step this week but I just wanted to show off the two maxi dresses I made. As mentioned in the last post, I was invited to a fashion event on Friday and had nothing to wear. I decided to pattern a dress from this one by Lex:

But I’ve never sewn jersey knit fabric before and I’ve heard so many horror stories about it, so I decided to make a backup dress too in case things didn’t go well for the original idea. This time I went for the tried and true:

You’ve seen the tank top dress before. It was my first dress. Basically you just take a tank top, cut it mid-rib, attach a “skirt”, and voila! Dress! Only this time I made the skirt part ankle-length and I “stole” a crochet panel from a curtain and used it as a belt πŸ˜€

Side note: I’ve been eyeing these sandals for so long but they were a bit pricey so I convinced myself I wouldn’t use them in winter anyway and didn’t get them. Well, i walked past the shop, and there they were, half off and my size was one of the last three pairs. Of course I got them πŸ˜€

Now on to “the dress.” Many thanks to Lex for so generously sharing how she made her gorgeous dress. But there were a few things that made this project challenging for a beginner like me. First, she did her fittings on a dressform, which I don’t have. Second, the bodice is made up of four triangles sewn together. You could cut four triangles of your fabric and then try fitting as you go, but I felt you’d waste so much fabric this way so I actually took measurements for mine. Also, I knew from the picture that she was a lot thinner and taller than me and the dress wouldn’t drape as becomingly on me as it did on her. I decided for a “sleeker” fit rather than relaxed, that meant cutting to my measurements with only a quarter inch seam allowance.

One last thing. When sewing jersey knit, I read that people use that 3-stitch zigzag on their machines. Others would use the longest straight stitch with 0 tension. I tested both of these out and found out that the longest straight stitch with the tension at 2 worked better on my machine. You just have to take the time to experiment. And here is what happened.

I ended up going to the party in my backup dress since I felt this one was too “revealing” (you know how unforgiving jersey knit can be if you don’t have the right “foundation”) and I had places to go before the party. Can’t wait for the right occasion to wear this though. All in all I can say it was a good crafting week, don’t you think? πŸ™‚

 

One foldover clutch two ways

February 17, 2012 § 2 Comments

Hello! It’s been a crazy week at work and an even crazier one in my sweatshop. Surprisingly enough, I did manage to finish everything on deadline in both “jobs” (just please don’t drop by unannounced because my house looks like a tornado just went through it) and now I can post this week’s finish.

For someone whose bag over the years has been a shapeless oversized carry-all, I am turning out to be quite the bag lady. (Excuse me if you catch me oggling your bag on the train or bus. I am not planning to steal it, I swear. Oh okay, at least just the design :D) I’ve been obsessed with how foldover bags are constructed, so this week’s challenge was to finally make one – actually, two. But because I am me, the best motivations are the challenge of a tight deadline, a schedule waaaaay past my bedtime, and making it special enough to give as a gift.

I like the Lee who crafts. She’s a planner, highly methodical, has a good case of OCD and likes to figure out what works and what doesn’t. I wish she stayed around for the mundane stuff, like house chores. But she’s very choosy about what she does, so I’ll leave her alone to do what she does best: making things.

First, choose your materials. I did a Peter Jackson here and did two bags at one time. Same lining material, different outer fabric and embellishments. One would be black with white lace, the other a spiral blue and purple print. Once you’ve chosen your outer fabric and lining material, cut two pieces each to 12 inches x 18 inches. Your final clutch size will be a bit large and envelope shaped, so you might want to adjust the sizes according to your preferences. Just be sure you have enough length to fold the bag over once finished.

I was very caught up making these bags that I didn’t take as many pics as I usually do for a step-by-step but I think you’ll get the idea. If not, here’s the basic foldover bag tutorial from Noodlehead. Pictured is one of the linings. I used a very flimsy sateen fabric for the lining and lightweight cotton for the outer fabric but I wanted the clutch to hold its shape well, so I used some interfacing. That’s the white stuff you see there over the red lining. I also learned to add a zippered pocket to lining this week from the lovely Lisa Lam, so these bags should be quite functional, with room for coins, keys and mobiles. I finished both linings first and set them aside. Now for the outer bags.

The bags themselves will probably take you about 2 hours to make, tops. What bogged me down was the embellishments. Did I mention that Crafty Lee is astonishingly patient? The lace on the black bag was just the beginning. I wanted to use Modge Podge (which for glue, I found out, is quite expensive at AED 56 a 236 ml bottle) but I experimented on this beforehand and found out I didn’t quite like the finish, so it was back to trusty fabric glue. You can even sew this on, but I didn’t want to risk my machine having another tantrum because of me mixing the wrong materials together.

Now for the other one. I originally planned for the blue bag to have a huge floppy, sparkly bow as its centrepiece.

Yep, there’s me putting on the sparklies one by one using fabric glue and nifty pliers. Yes, there’s an applicator that makes life much easier for noobs like me. But at AED 160 (about $35-$40), it didn’t feel too crafty for a tool I would use very rarely. But that’s not the funny part. I set it out to dry and went to bed, woke up in the morning and decided I didn’t like how it looked. So on to something different.

You could get the tutorial for the fabric flowers atΒ My Sparkle. Shireen, the very supportive guinea pig for the black clutch, told me I needed to figure out my costings now so I could start putting a price to these things. But you now see my dilemma. It’s not a matter of wasting materials and time, it’s about getting it right and being happy with the results for me at this point. We’ll figure out the practical matters once OriginaLee is ready to open its doors πŸ™‚

My newfound sparkle fetish satisfied, now it’s all business.

Sew the outer fabric and lining together. Once you’ve done the whole turning the bag inside out routine, you’ll want to iron the edges so they’re crisp and straight. Take note of the side where the zippered pouch is on. I wanted that side to be against the body when my giftee’s clutching the clutch, so you’ll know which side to foldover and iron.

For the black one I had to put on the lace embellishment before sewing it together. For this one, since the flowers would obviously make ironing the bag difficult, the detailing came later. Whenever you decide to put on your embellishments, at this point you’re about done.

I know a lint remover is invaluable in making sure your projects end up nice and neat. But my inner cheapo just couldn’t stand the idea of spending for something that’s not an actual tool, material, or has more than one use. So I McGyver-ed a lint remover using 3M tape and four oddly shaped fingers. Works perfectly well. Just make sure you don’t use tape with a sticky kind of adhesive, then you’ll be adding extra embellishments to your stuff that you didn’t plan for or want.

Finally . . .

I love it! I think I’m actually jealous and should make one of these for myself πŸ™‚ Happy weekend, mah peeps!

And here begins the madness

February 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

Two ladies, two gifts, two days; and this is where it all starts. It might look a bit pro-ey but trust me, that’s now. After learning that I did not like taking out huge bolts of fabric and putting them back in place neatly. I have finally learned the value of swatches. I really shouldn’t be posting works in progress since these are supposed to be surprise gifts but I felt like such a slacker not having posted anything today, so there – not being a lazy cow, actually doing things. Now excuse me while I get back to business. See you on the other side.

Pearl strand lamp

February 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

I want! I currently have a naked bulb hanging on my curtain rod (long story short: friend gift now too big for living room but I still need light). I think this idea will do quite well. There’s no tutorial but you’ll figure it out from the photos from Design Dazzle. Bonus: I get to use my new pliers. Hooray!

Grocery bag . . . well, bag

February 8, 2012 § 2 Comments

I’m on the fence with this one. I like the concept of recycling plastic bags and I admire the patience of crocheting it to make it something else, but . . . I think it’s because it doesn’t really become something else? Just a better-looking bag? In any case, I still love the eco-friendly effort, even though the last thing I crocheted was a friend’s dreadlocks. Have a look over at Plasticbagbag.com and maybe we can come up with some other way to recycle grocery bags.

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