Sunday, December 30, 2012

Practical tech help

Does anyone know how to disable anonymous comments, while still allowing people to post with just a name and URL? I don't want to have to force people to register to comment, but the amount of spam comments is getting a little overwhelming.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Finished coat lining

Ooops! I never posted a picture of my finished coat lining. As you may recall, I needed to replace the lining on my coat. I did, in fact, finish it, I just forgot to post about it.

Here's the finished project:
This was really a functional project, and it functions well. It's not perfect by any means, but now I've learned for next time! My major mistake was that I cut one of the lining pieces out backwards, so it's wrong side out rather than right side out. However, since it's a lining, I didn't care enough to take the time to fix it!

My coat is perfectly functional, and I receive compliments on the lining on a fairly regular basis, so I'm satisfied!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas present #1

I made two Christmas presents this year, which is rather unusual for me. When I try to make presents, they are usually late. But this time, I had both presents finished, wrapped, and labeled when I left to go visit K on the 19th. I was extraordinarily proud of myself!

For Teresa, I made pot holders, or hot pads. (They seem to go by a lot of names.) I was aiming for floppy enough that she could pick things up, but large enough that you could set a pot on them, rather than just a serving dish. I think I succeeded!
 I made two hot pads. They turned out pretty well, I thought, and they were easy to make. Teresa is moving into a house next year, and her kitchen is going to be apple-themed. So apple hot pads seemed cute, easy, and useful! A win-win situation.

 I quilted around the apples, rather than diagonally, because I thought it looked cuter. The diagonal lines turned out sort of weird and bunchy. One of the apples is coming out already, though! Not sure why, but I'll put it back in before Teresa leaves to go back to college.
Here are the two finished hot pads. You can see the diagonal lines from the earlier stitching on the left one, and how strange it looks. Other than that, I'm really pleased with how these turned out. There's some leftover fabric, so perhaps I'll make her a matching apron!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Sorry for the gap in posts! I have two completed sewing projects, but both are secrets, so I can't blog about them yet. I also took a trip to NYC, and I had been planning to schedule a post or two, but I just forgot. Regular blogging will resume after Christmas.

I wish you all a joyful Christmas season, or whichever holiday you prefer to celebrate if Christmas isn't your cup of tea.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Two aprons

I made the white and blue apron on the left a few years ago. The blue one with stars that I'm wearing I made last month. Neither of them is very interesting, but I do still like my fabric choices for both of them. Aprons are actually pretty fun to make because there's no fitting, but they're so useful.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Non-sewing Christmas present!

I can post about this handmade Christmas present before Christmas, because it's already been given. At the costume shop we had a mug party where everyone was given a mug by someone else. I gave my boss a mug. I couldn't find one with the message I wanted, and I thought of the message too late to order it custom-made from the internet. So I made it myself!

I bought a mug making kit from the store, and all the markers were dried out! So instead, I used Sharpie. According to the internet, writing on a mug with Sharpie and baking it in the oven for 30 minutes at 350* will seal in the Sharpie.

Here's the finished mug. On one side:
 Because she is! And on the other side:
Because this is what we say when we make a mistake in the shop. It's become a running joke.

I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out!

Friday, December 7, 2012

G Street Fabrics

After our fabric and pattern swap, we headed to G Street Fabrics in Rockville. Others said it was disappointing compared to the old location, but I had never been there before, so I was impressed.
Some of these fabrics were just so much fun to look at. I can't imagine making something out of some of them, though!

So. Much. Fabric. So. Many. Zippers.
I did buy one piece of fabric, but I'll save all my acquisitions for another post. While I was there, I saw the machine we have in the costume shop. I asked the lady how much it costs. $986. Time to find a new dream sewing machine! Haha.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sewing meetup!

Of course everyone else has already posted about the DC sewing meetup. And I'm days late. It's paper week here. Now that I only have one paper left, I can breathe enough to post.

The day was great! We met up at Robin's house. Everyone brought fabric and patterns to swap.

There was lots of fabric
  lots of patterns
and plenty of seamstresses ready to go through them all!
There are more pictures that Robin's husband took, as well as links to the blogs of all the participants with blogs, here.

After the fabric and pattern swap, we headed to G Street Fabrics, but I'll save that for another post. It was a great day! Thanks to Lisa for organizing the whole shebang, and to Robin for offering her house!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Much needed repairs!

It's been pretty chilly around here lately. Not super cold, but enough that you do want a jacket. However, my jacket looks like this:
No lining! I have a lovely winter coat my parents bought me for my 18th birthday, which is well made and has served me well. But last winter, the lining started to tear out along every single seam. The pockets tore, and stuff fell out. So I tore out all the lining. In typical Sophie fashion, I then didn't put a new lining in. I did cut out new pattern pieces, and I did sew some of them together, but then when May came around and I moved out of the dorm, my winter coat was put in a bag and forgotten.
See how crumpled the lining is? At least I was able to find it! I've been working on putting it into the coat since Wednesday, in small chunks when I have time.

At the moment, I have the lining all sewn together, and one pocket is all the way in and the other is halfway in. I am hoping to finish this up tomorrow, and then devote the weekend to two pursuits: writing final papers and going to G Street Fabrics for the DC sewing blogger meetup!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Baby hat!

Readers, I must confess, I have not been sewing. I have been writing papers like there's no tomorrow. I have written one, have one mostly complete, and have two or three more to go. Then I have five finals, and then the semester will be over. Then maybe I will have more time to sew.

In the mean time, though, I did complete a little knitting project. One thing I love about knitting is how portable it is. I can knit without looking, and it's much easier to whip out a knitting project and knit a few rows while waiting in line (or at the doctor's, where I spent two entire hours on Monday!). I can hardly knit at all because of my joint problems, but occasionally I do still knit things.

Here is one of them!
 Nope, it's nothing fancy, just a little baby hat. It's made in a 2x2 rib so it will be nice and stretchy, but the fuzziness of the yarn means the pattern is totally lost. That's ok.
This picture, although blurry, gives a better idea of the color. It's black with many little specks of color all through it--nice and vibrant!

I spent hundreds of hours knitting these baby hats in high school, so now I can knit them without a pattern in a short amount of time. This one took two hours to knit, and many half an hour to weave in the ends. The weaving would have taken 10 minutes with a yarn needle, but I did it at school in between classes with a pencil!

This little hat will be given to my aunt who works in the mother/baby wing of a hospital to be given to some baby there. Apparently they are always on the lookout for hats that aren't pastel colors!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

M's birthday present

Here is a picture of M's completed birthday present:
 What is it? It's a running bracelet! It has her name, birthdate, and an emergency contact phone number embroidered on it. It velcros, so it's pretty adjustable. I made it out of leftover fabric from my Very Hungry Caterpillar skirt.
 As you can see, the embroidery doesn't show up very well against the bright pattern. As much as I love this fabric, I think it wasn't the best choice to embroider on to.
 Next time, I would also sew on the velcro at an earlier step of construction, so it doesn't show through the bracelet.

I think this was pretty successful, though, and it will hopefully keep M a little safer when she's out being a daredevil. Haha. (I did make sure to tell her this is not a license to be unsafe!)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Well, you know,

One out of two isn't bad. Except I didn't even do the one over the weekend. I did it last night. *sigh* I have all this sewing mojo, but I have to constantly tamp it down to write papers!I have five or six papers left and then I will be done for the semester. Not counting my final exams, of course!

I do have pictures of my completed project, but here's the thing...this is a present, and I don't know if M reads my blog. So I will have to hold off on the pictures for a little while.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sewing To-Do List

I have two sewing goals for this weekend.

1. Finish M's birthday present for her 18th birthday which was, er, on the 12th.
2. Put the lining into my winter coat.

We shall see how much of this I accomplish. I also have several miles to run, several things to mail, and a show to see. (#crazypants at CUA--I hear it's pretty good!)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hair clips for Aisha!

I made two hair clips and we are selling them to raise money for Aisha.

Here's one:
 And here's the other:
The orange one is made out of a zipper and can be worn zipped or unzipped. The rainbow one is Very Hungry Caterpillar fabric edged with bias tape. Both start at a bid of $2.

Both of these hair clips would make great stocking stuffers for some little girl in your life!

How does this work? Go click on the link of the clip (or clips!) you would like to buy. Comment on the post with your bid. If you win, you pay the money directly to Aisha, email me or Teresa the donation receipt, and I send you the clip. It really is that easy. (Here are the official rules if you like, as well as the main page of the auction.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The problem with this time of year... that I am sewing presents, so I can't post about them! No, really I actually do have another project, but I am lacking photographs of it. It's pretty fun, though!

The other problem is that as the semester winds down, the workload winds up. I have four weeks of school and seven papers left. And five exams. So work is pretty intense at the moment. In a few weeks things should be calmer, and then I can start with real Germany wardrobe planning.

In the meantime, since photoless posts are boring, I leave you with this rose.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

New Pattern!

I won a pattern in an online giveaway! Hooray! I rarely win these things, so I am super pleased. I am now the owner of the Minoru pattern Trumbelina was giving away.

Now, what fabric to use to make it? Hm.....

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Shopping with a plan!

No, not for Germany. That would be wayy too fast a turnaround. The comments have been super helpful--keep them coming! This is a post about craft store shopping. I will admit, I have issues with going to craft stores. I usually come back with a bunch of remnants that I don't need, but that only cost me one or two dollars. It's not so much the waste of money that bothers me, because my financial situation isn't that dire. It's the unneeded clutter and the mental energy that I spend on buying, storing, and using stuff I never needed and didn't even want until I saw it. So, on Saturday, when I went to JoAnn Fabrics to take advantage of their 25% off coupon, this is what I wrote on my list:
Yep, that's right, NO FABRIC. None at all. I have plenty of fabric, and I don't need to buy any more until I have sewed up some of what I do have. I am on a quest to simplify, organize, and declutter!

I did not even look at any fabric. I walked right past the remnant bin without even glancing at it, even though it was overflowing. I bought the necessities I needed, which were pins, thread, needles, and the like, and got out of there. The only thing I bought that wasn't on my list when I walked in was a curved ruler, because I hadn't thought to buy it that trip. But I did have a plan to buy one in the near future, so I decided that I should buy it while it was 25% off, especially given how far away the craft store is from my house.

I spent more than I intended to (about $55), but that's because I underestimated the cost of glue sticks for the glue gun and good quality pins. Oh well. I shouldn't need to go back to a craft store for several months.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Wardrobe design

I'm not entirely sure who reads this blog. Probably about 50% of my hits come from family or friends. But for those who don't know me in real life, I'm going to be spending the Spring semester abroad, in Germany. BUT! I'll be going on the German semester, which means I'll be gone from February to July. And, due to the fact that I am flying on a cheap student ticket, I get to check one bag.

This means I need a very focused wardrobe. It also needs to be very varied, because this is the Freiburg temperature map:
(Image source:

In other words, I need to be prepared to dress for temperatures in between 29 and 78, with the possibility of it getting cooler or warmer. Yikes. I don't like extreme temperatures, and both of those ranges sound unpleasant to wimpy me!

So, here are my thoughts, in no particular order.

1. Skirts are more versatile than pants, because they can be worn with tights in cold weather and without in warm weather.
2. Skirts and tops are more versatile than dresses, because with two dresses you have two outfits and with two shirts and two skirts you have four outfits.
3. I should have at least one pair of shoes that I can do *lots* of walking in.
4. I should have a pair of warm boots, which I can do *lots* of walking in. So I guess really I need two pairs of shoes I can walk in, since I won't be wearing winter boots in the summer.
5. I probably need at least a week's worth of outfits, but do I need more? If I do laundry every Saturday, I could theoretically repeat the same clothes every week for six months. Theoretically. That would be pretty boring!
6. I should probably limit my clothes in terms of colors, so pick one neutral color to be my neutral colors for the semester. Then I won't have to bring as many shoes, for example.

Has anyone else done anything like this? Does anyone have any advice? I don't want to be too spartan, but I also am starting to worry about packing, and if I decide to sew a bunch of things I want to know sooner rather than later!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Halloween apron!

In the costume shop, we had a Halloween apron contest. We had to pick a Halloween movie, and then design and sew an apron based on it. The contest was a Project Runway type contest. We had to pick a main fabric, a crazy fabric, a trim, and a plastic bag. Then halfway through our two hours, we were handed a random strange fabric and told we had to incorporate it.

I was at a bit of a disadvantage in terms of design, because I have never seen a Halloween movie. Ever. But luckily, one of the kids in my three person team had a really good eye for design. I am really pleased with how our apron turned out. Here is the only picture I have of it:
We took our inspiration from the character Sally, who is apparently some sort of stitched together zombie or something. We also made the neckline imitate the hill that is apparently important.

The purple was our main fabric, and the green and blue were our crazy fabrics (we were allowed to use two; we asked). The trim is the orange neck strap, and the plastic bag was made into that brown bow that laces through the eyelets.

That bunny fabric gave us issues. It was our random fabric that they added halfway through, and it did not fit with our aesthetic AT ALL. So we just decided to own it. It doesn't show up in the picture, but we Xed out its eyes.

We won first place in the competition! I was thrilled.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Detour to fundraising

So, it's November 2nd, which means that the Reece's Rainbow fundraiser has started. My twin sister is fundraising for a child who goes by the name of Aisha. (Her real name is masked for privacy reasons.) The goal is to raise $1000 between now and the end of the year.

I am going to be sewing some things to sell to raise more money for her, but in the mean time, would you consider making a small donation? Even $5 would help Teresa reach her goal!

You can find various ways to donate, which range from buying things like fun noodles to making a simple donation of cold hard cash, at Teresa's blog. (If you donate $35, you get a Christmas tree ornament!)

I promise I won't bother you with more straight-out begging for money. But I do plan to post pictures of the things I sew, and those might come with a reminder of why I'm making them. ;)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Here is the finished vest!
There are some little wrinkles there. I am not a fan of them, but I'm not quite sure where they're coming from and I'm not sure they're fixable at this point anyway.
I put in a zipper at the neck, as well as another one under the arm.
Is it perfect? Nope. But it's a costume, and it was finished before the power went out. And it's good enough for trick-or-treating.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Safe after Sandy

Don't get me wrong, I am grateful at how we were spared. It does feel a little bit anticlimactic for the storm to be essentially over already, given how hyped it was and how little damage it did. I went out running today and toured the neighborhood, and I only saw one tree down--ours!

Yep, a tree in our backyard fell over some time last night:
As you can see, we got lucky. Had it fallen left, the power lines would have been toast, and that line doesn't power very many households, so it would have been a long long time until we got power back. If it had fallen right, it would have destroyed the fence and landed on a highway.
 Our fence was not undamaged, but this will be easy to fix. Just a few nails and a hammer.

We were truly blessed. Not only was Sandy not nearly as bad as the meteorologists predicted, a lot of our dead stuff had already been blown down in the summer's derecho, and the weakest power lines had already been identified and fixed. What the news is telling us about those in other areas of the East Coast is tragic. My heart goes out to them.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Blow, Wind, Blow?

So far, so good. Which is to say, we still have power, and nothing terribly bad seems to have happened. The fence in the back yard has partially been blown down, but there is no flooding and no trees down. I think perhaps we are seeing the benefits of the summer derecho--there aren't very many dead trees or branches left!

With that said, the internet is showing terrible things happening in New Jersey, New York, and so on, including quite near to where some of my friends live. The winds here are also picking up, so we might still get some damage. Please keep everyone in the range of the storm ( the entire East Coast, pretty much!) in your thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

FBI vest

Well, I'm not quite done, but with the Frankenstorm coming, I think it's probably better to post what pictures I have. The vest is pretty close to done. I need to finish the armholes and put in the zipper. Then I'll be done.
This photo is here so people can see the basic shape of the pieces I cut out. Yes, it's not quite symmetrical. No, I don't really care. Costume, people.
Here is the top layer pinned to the batting and the lining. You can't see the lining, but it's old black cotton from my grandmother's house. The gray stuff is wool from an old skirt.
The wool did have a tendency to fold up and pucker. Strangely, this seemed to be less of a problem when sewing faster.
This is how I finished the inside of the neck, which is to say, not at all. I was going to use bias tape, but decided against it because I am lazy. Also because we are gearing up for Frankenstorm, so easy and simple wins over complicated. After all, whatever I have left when the power goes out has to get done by hand!

I sewed up one shoulder seam and one side seam. I'm planning on putting a zipper into the other shoulder seam and the other side seam. I might do some quilting across the front and back too, but we'll see how the power lines fare.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Juggling the pieces of life

I'm sorry my posting has been a bit boring lately. I have three essays due this week, two of which I need to write in a foreign language, and one of which I have to record and mail to Chicago.

At the moment I feel like I'm juggling things. Nothing has fallen, and I don't think anything will, but I pick each thing up for a few minutes, make a tiny amount of progress, and then put it down again. So I haven't made any progress worth blogging about on my sewing projects.

I should be done with all my essays by Friday, and the weekend will be devoted to finishing the vest, because Halloween is on Wednesday. (Right?) I've also started a new project in the costume shop, which should be exciting. I hope.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know the reason for my silence. Once the number of balls decreases, I'll be in better shape to post something interesting.

Friday, October 19, 2012

FBI vest: started

Maybe. I mean, it is started, but I don't think it's actually an FBI vest. I don't actually know what I'm making, because I can never remember. (Sometimes I am so feminine I feel guilty. Then I try to talk sports with my friends and I feel so masculine I feel guilty.)

Anyway, I cut out the pieces, just not the batting yet. I haven't quite decided what to do about that. Are sewn bulletproof vests quilted?

This is my inspiration sketch. Yes, I am considering a career in art. I will be starting a PhD program as soon as I finish my degree in photography. *sigh* Seriously, though, I am saving up for a camera and I hope to have one within the month.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dear Anonymous

I don't know who you are, and I don't know why you keep posting on my blog, but here's my policy, in case you were wondering. I will allow your strange and only vaguely related comments, but I'm not posting any of your gross links.

Just FYI.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

ME, in muslin

Well, I finished sewing up my body block muslin on Monday, and Gail fit it for me. It was rather strange, I have to confess, to have someone not in my family fit me. But on the other hand, she knew what she was doing better than anyone in my family does. So I'm not complaining, just noting.

We ran into problems because I kept forgetting to stand up straight. Instead, I would turn and look down to try and watch what she was doing. I didn't even do it consciously! She wound up setting up a three-way mirror so I could watch her in the mirror.

Here is my altered bodice. Interestingly, it still needed some pretty major alterations even though the pieces were made to my measurements. There's more than one way to carry a given set of measurements, I suppose. It's also pretty likely that the instructions assumed a symmetrical person!

 This is the back. As you can see, there are darts pinned going into the armscyes. (Did I spell that right? Spellcheck doesn't like it, but has nothing to suggest except armistices.) Gail says that those can be rotated up into the shoulder seam, which is where patterns are more likely to have them. The darts are needed because I have sloping shoulders and a rounded back. Other than that, the back fits pretty well.

 The front. Well. It came in at the neck, and in at the shoulders and sideseams, but the thing that threw me is that Gail took out about a half an inch all the way across the front above the bust--and then added about the same amount to the bottom of the bodice. Essentially, this changes where the fabric is, rather than how much there is. I had never thought to do that. (I guess this is why she earns the big bucks and I don't!)

This is my completed muslin. It looks pretty strange on the table, but it looks pretty good on me! Interestingly, wearing something so fitted makes me look more normally proportioned, not less. I had expected to look better in something that fit properly, but not necessarily better-proportioned.

Up next: altering the pattern pieces. Or maybe making new ones. I don't actually know what my next step will be!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Costumes for Hedda Gabler

Well, now that Hedda Gabler has come and gone, I can share some costume photos with you all. I wish I had gotten more photos, but we were really all hands on deck the last few days, and I honestly just didn't have time. Sadly, I don't have very many photos of finished pieces because of this. What also really frustrates me is that I don't have any photos of the two skirts I sewed! Anyway, here's what I've got.

This is two of the bodices, part way through construction. The bodice on the right got new lacing, of course.
This silver robe didn't photograph well on a hanger, but it looks so beautiful on the actress it was made for. Is that slit with pleated fabric in it called a kickpleat in the front? Whatever it is, I want one in my next formal dress.

This next robe is just fantastic. I think Gail must have spent hours on the collar alone, deciding where she wanted the decorations and making it stand up straight.
Here's a shot of the full robe, before it was done. See that stand-up collar and all that piping? It looks even better in person.

It was a fun show to work on. And now, after much messing around with buttons...



and fabric...

...we're all done! Until #crazypants, that is...