Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Owl Cocoon

Sometimes I get an order and I immediately groan. Usually it's for something trendy and crocheted. Such was this order. I had tried this "crocodile stitch" twice before. The first time was when these bootees were all the rage. I just could not get the instructions. Not much defeats me, but that did. So I've had this crankiness towards this stitch ever since. Then, last winter, these gloves were all the rage. So I gave it another go, and this time figured it out. I didn't actually end up making anything though. It really is a neat stitch, but not really all that fast for crochet, and it EATS yarn.

So then I got an inquiry from a previous client, about an owl cocoon. It wasn't urgent (she sent me the message in early January and the baby was due late May, and she wanted more like a 3 month size). I had seen requests for these in the Handmade groups I'm in, but the thought of all that crocodile stitch...and the eyes, and the embroidery....my first thought was "no way".  But I knew that the spring/summer is a slow period and I really shouldn't turn down any orders I'm capable of doing.

The first key to making this economical (ie--have some profit), is using yarn I already have. I had NO idea how much yarn I would need. I really didn't seem to have much for boyish colours, unless I wanted to do actual stripes. No thanks. I was looking around my "yarn store", and caught a glimpse of this large, messy ball of James Brett Marble Chunky. I had picked it up because a) I love this yarn, and b) I had previously made a blanket and it really wasn't big enough so I wanted to re-work it. I figured an actual order comes before a "some day" project.

I got swatching. The first thing I knew was that I wanted the scales/feathers to be only on the front. Why make a baby lay on those? The stitch is created by making a row of V stitch double crochets, then creating the feathers on the posts of the V stitch. So on the back of the row, I did plain double crochets, not the V stitches. Then, when I came around with the feather row, I worked the back in single crochet. The feathers plumped up the row below so I couldn't just slip stitch across. And I find it hard to work the next row into slip stitches. I might have even done hdc.
I gradually increased the width as I went up.
I might have adjusted the pattern to be 3DC, 1 HDC, 2 SC, 1 HDC, 3 DC. I remember swatching different combos to see if I could get a better point on the feathers. I might be able to zoom in on the photos to take another look.

The end result is adorable. There were a couple places in the yarn where I cut out the pale beige sections. I ended up needed to rip back some of that blanket I had planned to enlarge. Looking at the photos, I could have made it a row or two smaller, and a newborn size would fit with one ball. Since I had cracked open the blanket, I decided to add a hat. Some of the inspiration photos she sent included a hat, but she didn't mention it in her messages. So I created my own.

The fun thing with this cocoon...if you tuck the "head" part in, you can wear it like a Marge Simpson wig!! I had tried it on when I was about half way up and the kids were really fearful that I was actually creating a hat....

Yarn In: 1642gr
Yarn Out: 293gr + 1902gr= 2195gr
Balance: 553gr more USED than bought
Costs:   $40.73/171 days = $0.24per day

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Utility Sewing

I do a lot of utility sewing. Fixing backpacks, mending crappy made store bought clothing, etc. Sometimes I get to make something non-clothing but still utilitarian. Like these hair towels. I have had one for years, and the button recently broke in half. I was still using it, but it was clear I needed a new one. I knew it would be easy to sew, but where to get the fabric? I buy microfiber cloths for cleaning, but they aren't big enough.

I was browsing through Value Village, and this brand new microfiber "towel" caught my eye. Sure, it's bright pink. But it was plenty big, and only $2.99. Bingo!

I got to work. One I just serged the edge, the other one used the sides of the towel. The serged edge one is a little more homemade, but I don't care. I used plain white snaps because I didn't want to use my more expensive engraved snaps that would have actually matched.

I still have plenty of the fabric left, at least enough for one more, maybe two. They work very well. As I was putting away the leftover fabric I saw the tag. It's labelled as a "yoga towel" which was interesting because we had been taking a beginner yoga course and the teacher suggested going to Winners to get a yoga towel to put on the mat to stop slipping. I can only guess how much they are at Winners!! Even if I pay $15 for one, and can get 3 hair towels, that's still cheaper than buying them new. Just went off googling....yikes, they're pricey. The one I bought was very thin, just like the microfiber cleaning clothes.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Promised, and Delivered

I let my youngest, Megan, tag along on a trip to Fabricland. We were looking for many things, including potential bathing suit fabric. Right below the bathing suit fabrics was this bolt of teal athletic fabric. Not as thin or "mesh" like as the stuff I had bought previously for diapers, but it still looked nice. I told her that I would be buying the membership card in a couple weeks and then I'd be able to get the fabric after that. I'm sure she kind of thought it would never happen. Often we put things off with her, in the hopes that she'll forget about it.

Well, I did get the fabric, and decided to make the New Look 6735 t shirt for her. She doesn't yet have an adult figure, but her measurements are still a bit on the larger size. I opted for a cheater SBA. I angled the front piece on the fold, so the neckline would be smaller, which in turn meant the hip area was bigger. Since I had had a bit of floppyness around the neck, I hoped this would help too.

I could not determine which direction the fabric should go. It just didn't seem to have much stretch in either direction. In the end, I think I got it wrong. This is a solid shirt.

 The front isn't too bad, but the back...
 Talk about pooling. There is so much extra length in the centre back. I don't know how to fix that yet.  Her head looks like it's glowing because she is wearing a stretchy headband made from reflective fabric. I think it's awesome. I'm not sure where she got it.

She then asked for old socks. Why? To make an easy, DIY, no-sew armband to hold her iPod. C'mon Megan, we can do better than an old sock! We wanted it really stretchy, so I pulled out this bathing suit fabric, which just happened to match her new work out shirt (she has been going to a weekly teen class at the town gym), as well as her iPod (which sadly, is unreliable).
 I was thinking it would be like a tiny infinity scarf, folded over, and top stitched for the slot. The first attempt, I couldn't seem to wrap my head around it. I don't know if I stitched the wrong sides, or just didn't carry the idea all the way through, but I couldn't figure it out. So I slowed down, and tried again. It boggled my mind, but then suddenly, there it was! She loves it.
Just realized I haven't blogged about the first t shirt I made her from this pattern, as a sort of muslin. Which really didn't make any difference since this fabric is so different.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Getting Creative

I was so impressed with the first two New Look 6735 that I decided to get a little creative. Remember back when I used to babywear? I don't think I have any photos of this pouch sling, since I used it for only a short time. It was just too stretchy for a growing infant and I moved on to ring slings. I loved the wild print and knew it had to become something else. It only took 11 years. Yikes. I carefully unstitched the seams to maximize the width of the fabric. I held it up to me. It seemed like it would be wide enough.

I laid down the pattern pieces. Nope. Not going to work. The back was fine, but I didn't have enough to also put a seam on the centre front.

I thought about colour blocking. I wanted side panels. Colour blocking is popular, that shouldn't be hard to find info on. Everything I found was about horizontal blocking. I wanted vertical. In detail, I wanted to eliminate the side seam and use a wide side panel in a different fabric. Or, move the side seams inwards so they seamed to the panel, which had no centre seam.

I could not find anything on this. I did find some dresses with colour blocking on the sides, but they all had side seams still. I finally gave up and admitted I needed to have side seams. If the shirt didn't have any shaping, it would have been very easy to just use a side panel. But I couldn't work out the different curves.

I used some white wicking fabric from the cloth diaper sewing days. Nice and light.

I had a horrible problem with the back neck stretching out of shape and not recovering. It's also possible the pattern got shifted when I was cutting, I guess. I unstitched the neckband twice and took it in. It's still a little loose back there. Just got to wear my hair down!
Photo is before I adjusted the neck at all.
There is some rippling along the side seams. I probably did not adjust the feed dog setting.

I love the shirt as much as I loved the sling. The kids think it's a bit weird, but over all the shirt is okay, they say. Next time, I will make the side panels even bigger, so it looks more intentional. Maybe even try a princess seam...

Saturday, June 03, 2017


Recently my mother gave me a pair of flannel pajama pants that had side seam pockets. Holy cow, I did not know I needed flannel pajama pants with side seam pockets! No wonder people wear them to Wal-Mart. But the weather was warming up, so what else to do? Make pajama shorts with side seam pockets and matching top! I haven't had matching pajamas since my last kid was born.

I found a pink bedsheet (Izod) that I had used for an awesome dress for Megan many years ago. She still mentions that dress. I still want one in my size. I also had a large piece of pink flannel I had bought even longer ago, for making diapers. Matching, without matching.

Of course, when you're using thrifted fabric, or leftovers, pattern layout can get interesting.

 Plus, I needed a waistband for my shorts, because I was using my self-drafted pants pattern rather than the simple foldover casing on every pair of pajama pants/shorts pattern out there.

 When I chose the shorts length, I, um, just picked a length and cut across. Apparently, this is not how you do it. The side seam and the inner seam were different lengths. So they ended up shorter than I planned, but they're actually not short at all. The elastic I used is too "soft" and I had to tighten it up. I didn't want them tight, but I'd prefer to not have them fall down. I didn't use a drawstring like the pants, and the pocket facings and pocket bag are all one piece (or two pieces, one for front and one for back. I don't remember). This was much faster than the blue pants with a separate pocket bag. I didn't do as much topstitching either, and not even the fake fly. I do wish I had kept the fake fly. It really ups this from "make your own pajamas shorts" to "I can sew a fake fly on pajamas if I want to".  For the top I just zig zagged the hems. Already I've had to tie off threads where they broke and should re-hem this before we go to a family reunion cottage week vacation this summer.
Again, no top stitching around the neck. I've realized though that the neck hole is big enough that I could probably do a simple straight stitch, either in the ditch or just off. No fussing with the twin needles. There is a bit of that front drooping of the neckband. I don't know if I'm just kind of flat there or if the neckbands are too loose. The shirt is 100% cotton so the stretch and recovery isn't the greatest. This picture was supposed to show my friends that I really don't look as good as the other selfies I posted that use the "beautification" filter. They say my skin is killer. Not bad for 46!

Friday, June 02, 2017

The Start of the Epidemic

In late March, early April, I started sewing again. I've shown a few tops already, but it was this next top that really started this epidemic I'm suffering from right now. I have been a non-stop sewing crazy lady and am soooo behind in photographing and blogging about it! I'm going to start with this one, even though I don't have good pictures. I just keep wearing it (and getting it dirty) that I just never seem to have a chance to get a photo. Or, it's one of the many rainy days we've had lately.

It's New Look 6735, and is one of the "*easy" patterns. Yeah, I've been duped by that before. But this one really IS easy, especially if you just trust the pattern and don't over think it. Which is so hard for me to do. Starting with the size. My upper bust is 40" (ooohhh, that's a bit bigger than it used to be), which is size 18, and my full bust is 42" which is a size 20. But I wear a DD cup. And my shoulders are narrow. What size to make?! I didn't want to do a FBA on a knit t shirt (there is no ease at the bust).

I cut a 20 in the body (I might have even graded it out more as it goes down, I think I need a 22 for my waist and an 18 for my hips. Sigh) and 18 from the bottom of the armholes upwards. I used this awesome 100% cotton sheet I picked up at Value Village years ago. I think it's only a twin sheet and was probably $5.99 or so. It's from Wal-Mart originally, so I hope no one sees me and recognizes it as a bedsheet! LOL. There is a back seam, which breaks up the pattern. It annoys my husband, but I can't see it, so who cares.

Yes. A bathroom selfie. I've been busy.

I basted it all together first. Did I? It seems forever ago. I must have. It went together quite well. I didn't follow the instructions, but did it the flat method (sew shoulders, sew sleeve to armhole, sew body and sleeve seam in one pass). There is a section on the front at the bust that you're supposed to do a gather stitch and ease to the back. I just changed the feed dog ratio on the serger and stretched it a bit. I did the neckband as the instructions said, though I serged it to the top. I did not topstitch the seam allowance of the neckband down, since the shirt I was wearing that day didn't have it. I did press it down, but if I let it go too long in the dryer it will flip up. I finished the hems with the twin needle. However, I didn't have it close enough to the edge of the seam allowance, and it tends to fold over the hem. Not a problem at the bottom of the body, but on the sleeves, it is really close to the edge.

I don't feel as fat as I look in that picture when I wear it. Don't know what's wrong with that picture except that it's a bathroom selfie.  I do have a sideview, but it's just as unflattering. Must have been bloated that day and wearing my worst bra. Must get better pictures and better bra.

I love this shirt. Which is why I made a couple more, in other fabric. This one goes with the blue pants I made, and my bright green jeans, my grey yoga capris, and if I can ever find some grey fabric, my new grey pants.

Monday, May 29, 2017


I always say how much I love knitting these large bears (and how much I love knitting the small bears!). But I really DO mean it! I absolutely love knitting these bears, especially after refining the pattern to be knit in the round. I also don't do the knitted nose like in the original pattern (by Jean Greenhowe). The yarn is Paton's "Divine" which is perfect for the bears, but sadly, they discontinued it. I don't know why!

 I love the pile of bear parts before stuffing. New meaning to Build a Bear!  I also have a photo of trying to sew the inner top leg to the body. It's kind of awkward sewing a bear's crotch.

 The face gets sewn last. I felt this one had a bit of a sad look to him.

 Yes, this was back when we had snow, mid-March. I was concerned about having enough brown so I did his paws in black. I was also going to do his belly in black but I was doing it in the round and it's just not that easy to visualize. As it was, I did have enough brown.

 He got a sweet blue boy as he's going to belong to a new baby boy.

I'm not the only one who loves these bears. Someone had to give him a snuggle test. He passed! Then I had to hide him LOL.

The bear weighed 234gr and the bow was 13gr.

Yarn In: 1642gr
Yarn Out: 247gr + 1655gr = 1902gr
Balance: 260gr more USED than bought
Costs:   $40.73/149 days = $0.27per day

Thursday, May 25, 2017


There's so many different things I want to sew. I've been very productive lately, but I'm also my own worse enemy for having things go smoothly. The True Tracy Way. Multiple trips to the fabric store, children that want their own, misinformation in the pattern and poor communication with the designer...

I had come across this soft bralette and knew I wanted to make one. It says it's drafted for C cup but I'm bigger. I figured I'd make the first one as written just to test it and it would probably fit Lucy. I wasn't worried about support, for myself, but I did want the cups to fit.

I downloaded it and printed. I cut it. It looked small but I went ahead. I carefully read the pattern and watched the video. However, on the downloaded pattern from Craftsy, on page 2, the last paragraph next to the screen shot explaining about printing, it says "Also note that you will need to cut two straps at 4 inches by 22 inches, for which no pattern piece is supplied--it's just a rectangle! You can draw the straps on the reverse of the fabric".

There is NO mention in the video, or the instructions of these fabric straps. I wrote to Mayra and asked about it. She said I must have gotten a bootleg copy of the pattern or something and she sent me the Craftsy link. Which was exactly what i had downloaded and this line was in the link she sent me. I responded back with this and a screenshot, and she responded this time about using the lingerie elastic straps (I had also mentioned I could find the elastic straps and mine were just ribbon straps). I gave up. So ignore the instruction to cut two 4"x22" straps.

After sewing it up, it was obvious something was wrong size. Long story short, I had the "scale to fit  page" set. It did fit Lucy though. In the emails with Mayra I had mentioned something about if the chest was  X" and it's made for a C cup, then the band would be (X-3")-negative ease" so I would need to adjust that....and she responded back saying the pattern was for chest size not cup sizes. Ugh. Yes, you measure your full chest. But I'm larger than a C cup so my band will need to be smaller than the corresponding band for the chest size. In actuality, this is totally the wrong approach to take, due to the shaping and design. Even making the right chest size would result in cups too small. I really need to redraft the entire pattern. So I did. And....it doesn't fit on all the widths of my stretch lace! I had already gone back after getting the first bit of lace to get more for the girls who now wanted some. There wasn't much selection for the pre-made straps and like I mentioned, these turned out to be slippery satin instead of plush elastic and Lucy says they don't stay tightened.  It's not really colours Lucy is into but for summer or sleep, I'm sure it'll get some wear.

I was frustrated with my emails with Mayra. There was also a mention about notches but nothing on the pattern pieces. I'm assuming much of my frustration was just perhaps a language issue and also trying to include too much in one email. I really wanted to like this pattern. It's free, there's a video, it seemed to be well written. And it is a good pattern, though there are some annoying bits.

I finally made one for Megan. She's a little broad but maybe a scant A cup. So I knew the cups would be too big and tried to reduce them (a smidge) simply. She held it up--over her shirt--and declared it fine, so I continued. However, when I went to add the cups to the band, lining up the middle, the band had this weird bit at the sides of the cups. So I just folded it over the elastic.

I ended up taking the back in twice and the cups are too big but she says that's fine. She also wanted a halter strap instead of bra straps. So we trimmed the lace down along it's pattern and I sewed it to the top of the cups. Had to adjust the length a couple times. I thought I had a picture but I can't find it right now.

I realized while making these that they're basically a bathing suit top. I did have to adjust my bathing suit pattern, but maybe I should just start with that for myself. And then I found this Simplicity pattern ! Geee. A halter lace soft bra. I don't like the band seam at the front but I assume that can be changed. And Megan is really into the racerback style (like I said, she's a little broad). I think I might have to indulge and get that pattern!

Thursday, May 18, 2017


I sewed pants! That I love! That fit! That I can wear in public!

The key...start with a worn out pair of pants that I knew fit well. I carefully took them apart (with a seam ripper, I didn't just cut the seams). I had a hard time last May trying to find an acceptable material and settled for a navy cotton, "Bettina" (I think. From Fabricland. Searching their site this spring did not yield any results). I was worried that I would feel like a cop or security guard in dark blue pants, but I don't. The fabric is not an exact match and there are two things that I'm not fond of. It wrinkles more than the original pair and it has a soft, sort of brushed texture which traps dog hair like crazy. But it's worth it to have a pair of pants I can wear in public!

This was SUCH an incredible learning project. Starting with---do NOT leave freshly ironed, neatly folded pieces of fabric on the ironing board which happens to be in the room that's being renovated. Yeah. Hubby thought they were RAGS! And then threw them out!!! I freaked on him. He did fetch the two leg pieces and they weren't too bad--one has a bit of construction adhesive on it. He couldn't find the rib knit waistband, but that's not too bad since I have another pair of these pants. I had kept one leg still assembled so I could see how it goes together.

Another thing I learned was that I'm still learning about order of processes. I tend to want to just get started, and sew the parts that I know (or think I know) how to do. Then I'll get to another part and realize I need to have done something else first. Or not done. I learned how to make angled side seam pockets with separate facing pieces and separate pocket pieces. Later I made a pair of shorts with this pattern but did the pockets self facing and it was a lot easier. I like the contrasting pocket though, even though you don't see it. It was left over rayon? from a sundress I made last summer but never showed because it had pissed me off so much and I wasn't happy with it.

I also sewed a mock fly. I couldn't find instructions that would give the same result as my original pair, so I had to muddle through, but it turned out acceptable.

I added 7/8" to the leg but I think I could add another 1/2" or even inch. I wonder if they shrank more with the second wash (I did pre-wash the fabric before cutting).  I feel that the front crotch is a little low, but the back crotch isn't. So I'm not sure how to adjust that. And I don't know why my butt looks so flat and the fabric looks like it's pulling. They don't feel like that at all.

The dog always wants in on photo shoots. Especially when the hubby is taking the pictures. So please excuse the poor quality photos!

For the waistband, I found some blue and white striped jersey. A little thin, but with the twill tape drawstring, it's okay. I'm disappointed by the lack of colour selection for twill tape at Fabricland.

I totally underestimated how much thread it takes to topstitch. It was fun trying to topstitch around the crotch, but I got it done.

I'm so happy with these. I didn't do the little tabs on the lower legs so they can be rolled up into capris. I thought the colour seemed a little dark for summer pants. I have plans for more pants! Especially since the second pair I had have passed into the "not outside the house" condition.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

April Fool's Day

I'm usually pretty lame at April Fool's Day stunts. I wish Pinterest had been around 15 years ago. This year though, I had an idea. Crochet a spare tire cover for my husband's truck! We were a little disappointed to find out AFD was on a Saturday as that would increase the chance he'd be around his truck instead of just getting in like on a work day. Then I found out he had a "Drive Clean" emission's test booked for first thing that morning. Awesome!

It started out easy and quick, but by the end the rows were taking forever and using a lot of yarn. I fibbed and said it was for an ugly afghan contest LOL. I wish I had measured against the tire a second time and stretched it out because although I knew I had increased too much in the middle, I thought it had smoothed out. In the end, it was way too big around, but actually needed more width. I chained a bunch on ties since I didn't know how I was going to tie it on. There are ties and plain yarn zig zaging everywhere.

Lucy cut letters from fabric and then added glitter glue to brighten them up. And then it started raining. We got outside late Friday evening during a light mist while Rob was in the hot tub. We hoped he had the jets running so he wouldn't hear us laughing and dropping things. The letters were put on with double sided tape.  I did one round with reflective yarn but I don't know how well that showed at 8am.

 It did actually say "April Fool's" but I started taking the letters off. Then got bored.

Well, when he got home from the Toyota dealership, he was NOT happy. It wasn't until they came in to tell him that they weren't going to do his complimentary wash (really just a spray down, I think) because they didn't want to disturb the item on the back, that he took a look. They were all laughing and thought it was great, but he wasn't so amused. However, the next day, telling his parents, he was laughing a bit about it. I told him we wouldn't have gone to so much work if we didn't love him :)

I bought two 50gr balls of cheap yarn from the dollar store and the rest was from the stash. I'm not going to count the whole amount I used as "yarn out" because it's still in the basement LOL. But I will count 150gr to count for the two cheap balls and all the ends trimmed and the short ties I won't recycle. Apparently I've already counted that 100gr in :)

Yarn In: 1642gr
Yarn Out: 150gr + 1505gr= 1655gr
Balance: 13gr more bought than used
Costs:   $40.73/136 days = $0.30per day

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Bodyguard Top

Back to sewing! LOL. I do have a couple other crochet projects to show, but really, I'm doing mainly sewing right now. Momma needs some new clothes. And a purse. And a wallet. And a music bag.

I saved Hot Pattern's free download "Fringe Festival T Shirt" a long time ago. It goes by several different names, and I think it was through Fabric.com not Hot Patterns page.  I was surprised to learn several years ago that indie pattern designers do not follow the same sizing standards as "The Big 4". Some indies draft for top heavy ladies, some for curvy all over, some for bottom-blessed belles. Hot Patterns seems to draft for the bosom blessed, of which I am one. So after reading the reviews, I felt comfortable not doing a FBA. I wasn't sure about the shoulder-becomes-sleeve thing. I don't like short little sleeves, or what ever that's called where the shoulder hangs down to become the sleeve.

Many of the reviews said the neck tie instructions were vague. Many people double sided the neck tie. I thought about it, but since I didn't even know how it was going to go together, those instructions left me more confused. I also managed to forget (don't think it says anything on the pattern piece) to cut the second half in reverse. I had just enough to cut another one. Guess I can't make a matching "Buff" now LOL!
 The fabric was a 0.9m (just shy of 1yd) x 1.5m (59") remnant from Fabricland that I've had a long time. The price says $7.65 and it says "Mezonee Knit". It's a very slinky fabric. It actually really surprised me. It was rolled up and I never had unrolled it. I obviously had never look too closely to realize it was rolled up with the wrong side showing. I thought it was a very pale, subtle pattern. Wow, was I surprised--and happy--to see the dark vibrant colours. Then I thought it was a horizontal stripe. When I looked closely at the selvages, I saw that it was actually a vertical stripe. How much luckier could I get?!
I looked at a lot of pictures on Pattern Review (that link I posted goes to one set of reviews but if you search the other names, there are TONS of reviews) to see how the tie was to attach. I thought it was to lay ON the shirt so the instructions confused me. Finally, I found this blog write up and saw that it actually FILLS in the neck. So really, attaching it isn't that hard. The picture shows how it should be attached. I don't think I have it pinned all the way around because I wanted to make sure you can see it and it was curling up on itself as I pinned. The centre back seam is on the right. 

There was also debate about sewing the seam allowance down, and having stitching showing on the right side. I figured my fabric was busy enough, it wouldn't matter.  I did a narrow twin needle stitch around the neckline which perfectly covered and holds down the serged seam allowance. Tieing the knot covered my imperfections where the scarf meets the sides near the bottom of the neckline.  Everthing was serged, except the twin needle at the neck and hems. I do not think I shortened the top--many said it was long, but I just wanted to see what it was like before making pattern adjustments.
 I really like this top. I totally don't mind the hang down shoulder-sleeves, even though you can see a bit of fold at the top of my left breast/armpit, and one end of the tie wouldn't stay facing the right way. I love the dark jewel tones. I love that it's longer, but not too long (I could probably shorten it an inch). It's not too fancy but great for those times when you want to look nice but not dressed up. This pictures is coming back from watching "The Bodyguard" in Toronto with my husband. I'm like a duck--the shirt is now imprinted on me as a special occasion shirt LOL. I'm sure it'd be fine with jeans but in my mind, it's for going to  the show. I will make more though. It'd be fine in a lightweight plain jersey knit. You definitely want something with a lot of drape for those shoulder-sleeves.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Still Knitting

Worried that I had become a sewing blog? I still knit. Right now I'm working on a crochet owl cocoon. I'm not overly inspired by it, and amazed at how much yarn it sucks up. It's a custom order and needs to get finished.
But I never blogged about my thread/punch lace trials. I'm pretty sure I had tried some on the Singer 327 way back when, but I haven't really done anything with it. I've seen lots of examples of how great it can look, and it's something I've been wanting to explore. Back in early January when I was making the satin lined hat, I gave it another go. I thought it might be a nice way to let the satin show, if I did it again with a contrasting fabric.

I don't recall what I used for the fine thread in this one. Maybe serger thread? I can't think of any brown yarn this thin in my stash.

It's very subtle. I mean, the circles are bold, but it really plays up the lightness between the circles.

This one, I used a super fine boucle. I have a cone of this and have tried adding it for texture with other yarns. I don't think I'll ever be able to use it all up in my lifetime. It's just so thin!
It adds a bit of texture (yeah, crappy picture), but really....it's so fine that I don't think it's necessary. This is why it is still a huge cone.

I also played with a tuck stitch to give a bit of textural interest in case the yarn was too boring on its own. In the end, I kept the hat simple, ribbed band and stockinette body.

I usually do really enjoy tuck, but I think I had to do this manually and I got bored. I think I might have misplaced a punch card? I don't know--my studio is very unorganized as I wait for the rest of the basement to get organized. And for the darn fridge to leave my studio!

Friday, April 28, 2017

About Time!

Last spring I was at the mall with my girls and noticed flowy, floral pants everywhere. I came home, picked out what remained of this sheet, cut out a pants pattern and got to work.

First up, the sheet was a 50-50 poly/cotton blend. So while it doesn't wrinkle, it doesn't quite have enough flow.

Second, I have a bad habit of not checking the pattern placement before cutting. This time I didn't even think about it, considering it was a large pattern. I neatly folded my fabric and cut. I don't really care for how both legs match, and I probably could never replicate that again if I tried.

This is after I re-sized them
Third. "Flowy" is not the same as hugely oversized. I put these on, and they fell off. I had bought the pattern (New Look 6354) at Value Village and although the envelope felt full, the pattern had been cut, to a smaller size than me. So I added what I felt I needed, based on the info on the envelope.  The hips were HUGE. I was pissed because that was a lot of wasted fabric. I had already sewn on the waistband, and I didn't want to just sew up the sides all the way up (it's a wide, bias cut band).

So, they sat while I got distracted with other projects. Finally, in March, I was in a lull, and decided to tackle them again. I took off at least an inch from each side of the seam at the top, and 2" each outer side (4" per leg) at the thigh. Since they weren't draping, they needed to be much more streamlined.

The family is not amused by them. The girls instantly recognized that I had a sunhat in the same fabric and they are petrified I will wear them at the same time. I won't. I promise.

My husband was like...they're okay for at home but don't go out in public. Once I trimmed them down and I put on the white shirt, he did think they were better.  I'm unsure of what kind of white top I need. This t shirt has an elastic bottom and I don't think it's right. Plus, it's worn out. Would a woven shirt be a better choice? I don't like how you can see the pants through the t shirt. But a woven shirt would also be a looser fit and with the pants being on the fuller side, I'm afraid I'll look like a little floral box.

I wanted to like this pants pattern so much because it's simple, no zipper, very similar to some RTW pants I have and love. It just needs a lot of tinkering, which will change based on the fabric. Like, if I had used a stretch twill, I would be cutting SO much smaller!!  I will try the pattern again, because it's very versatile, but without pockets, actually, the pattern I made from my favourite pants is a better option for me. I can easily (?) add a bias band instead of a knit band to my pattern, right?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Another Accessory

One of the first things I sewed, without a pattern, was a lampshade...more like a fabric cover for a wire tapered barrel shaped lampshade. I measured around it...but didn't realize the shape I'd be cutting was not a rectangle and didn't buy enough fabric.
Another project was a needle roll for my double point needles. I knit a long strip on my KnitSmart knitting machine and felted it. Then I sewed fabric to make the inside. I really didn't know how to order it, how to plan it, etc, and most of it ended up being top stitched. I thought I was clever because I sewed on a flap to cover the tip end so they couldn't slide out.
As I've progressed, I've had a few of these projects. The Internet, especially Pinterest, have helped as there is now a pattern for almost everything. Almost.

My husband bought me a new phone. My old one was so old I couldn't run any apps anymore, or even take selfies. It's a great new phone...but since it's a refurbished phone and not the latest and greatest, the case selection was lame. The salesman said to buy from Amazon and after checking a few places, I finally did find some cases on Amazon--though two I picked out wouldn't mail to Canada! In the meantime though, I needed something to protect it in my knitting bag, coat pocket, etc. "Gorilla Glass" is tough, but I'm not sure about knitting needles!

I knew what I wanted. A zippered bag, with a wrist strap, and a clear plastic screen area. When sizing, I made sure to make the zipper at least the size of the phone, remembering that some of the zipper length is lost once sewn in. I did the little tabs over the zipper. I wanted it lined with PUL. I  thought I had it all figured out, top stitching around the plastic window, thinking I was nearly done. Then, I realized something. I actually don't remember what that was now! But for some reason, I could not finish it with the PUL on the front piece! I think I wouldn't be able to turn the bag right side out after sewing it together. So I changed it so the PUL was only on the back piece.

In the process of trying to press the window edges down to top stitch, the plastic got hit by some steam. And distorted. A couple weeks ago, I found the heavier plastic I had wanted to use. Oh well. This is still usable. Some people are amazed by it, some people think it's hokey, but last night something leaked in my band bag and there was only a bit of water on my phone, between the cover and the phone back. It could have been way worse if my phone was in the bag loose!

I added two male halves of the snap so it could be a large loop or I could make it snug around my wrist. The ribbon wasn't double sided so I did sew it together to make it reversible. And yes, I did trim those threads. I was just so excited to share a photo on Instagram LOL.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


My youngest is a budding vlogger/YouTuber. She has trouble though setting up the iPad to record, or the camera, or her iPod. She also likes to sit at her desk and watch videos  and make up tutorials. So I thought she might like a little pillow stand.

I used this tutorial . It seemed to work fine.  I used plastic pellets I got from Weighted For You, for the ramp bumper and the lower half of the pyramid. The top half is stuffing, which is easier when you're trying to hand stitch the opening closed. Not sure if the pellets are beneficial, but they do provide a nice weight to it.

 The slope is quite fine for using on the kitchen counter when cooking, on the arm of the couch or at the table when eating, but my daughter finds it a little too sloped for at her desk, and absolutely no good for filming. It's a combination of the slope of the pyramid and the length of the "ramp".

 And it was totally no good for the iPad Mini in it's Lifecase.

Making the ramp adjustable would be good. I saw a tip about putting a pencil into the slots made by the top stitching, but they weren't wide enough for any of my pencils. A knitting needle might work.  Having the ramp be shorter would also help. I've been thinking about the geometry of making the slope less. Each triangle would then not be the same shape. Good thing my husband is a mechanical engineer!

I would definitely make more of these. It's pretty quick, fairly small material investment. You could add to the time but reduce cost by doing patchwork.

Friday, April 14, 2017


In the past few years, we've gone to my aunt and uncle's to learn how to do pysanky--the Ukrainian Easter egg decorating tradition. It's interesting to see the kids' progression and interpretation each time. This year, we knew quite in advanced when we were going, and as I was digging through my fabric stash one day, it hit me.

I HAD to make a shirt with this awesome fabric I bought a long time ago. I think I bought it at Wal-Mart in Orangeville, so that would have been probably before 2008. I really started sewing after Megan was born, Nov 2005--though I didn't sew much right then, I started becoming a sewer then. I loved how this fabric was somewhat abstract, sort of cheeky and humourous, and also "nice". A velvet with gold glitter. But I never knew what to make. I didn't want to end up with a Matryoshka face on my butt :)

I used the same pattern as the previous shirt (incorporating some fitting changes), New Look 6143. I think the armholes ended up a smidge too small this time, and there are horizontal wrinkles just below the armhole, which means....it looks like too much length?

I purposely placed the centre dolls upside down. The ones on the back are right side up. I didn't want a doll face on my boob. And it makes you look twice to actually notice the dolls.
I tried to do a lettuce hem but it wasn't working too well. It seemed to curl under.
 The dividing band on the egg, with my initials and date.  I tried to really get detail this time. The dots are two colours, the spikes alternate colours, etc.
 Free form is hard for me. I like symmetry, but I also find it difficult to get the precision I require to soothe my OCD.

The main side of the egg was inspired by my shirt! My aunt has learned about washing and rubbing the egg after dyeing to get more vibrant colours and closer shading. After dyeing the face colour, she rubbed it off the face, and I covered the entire face except the green eyes, red lips and cheek spots with the wax. I did realize after that while I got the white dot in the iris, the green iris, and the whites of the eyes, I forgot to do the pupil! I was going to sharpie it in after before I took the photo but forgot. I also seemed to have forgotten that the black is in the middle of the eye, not around the green LOL. And I think I forgot eyebrows? LOL.

I'm planning to post all the process pictures of the eggs on my Instagram page, since the photos are on my phone. www.instagram.com/tracykmdesigns