Sewing Challenge: Red

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The Facts

*Please note: This post was written last year. I have only just now gotten around to sharing it. Please enjoy!

Fabric: Scraps of t-shirts from stash and leftover from epic quilt of epicness.

Pattern: From picture shared on Facebook

Year: 2014

Notions: Thread, polyester fiberfill

Time to complete: 30 hours? (it is still not completely done as I still need to finish the tentacles.)

First worn: n/a

Total Cost: Everything is from my stash, so I’m going to count this as free, but if I had to make one new, it would be somewhere around $10 – $15 just for the fiberfill, not to mention the headache of turning and stuffing all of the legs. The entire process took way longer than I thought it would and I battled with them for a long time.

Oh, Valentine’s Day. So much consumerism so close to Christmas. Is it so much to ask for a simple glass of wine with dinner every now and then? Flowers for no reason except to say “I love you and don’t need some calendar date to remind me to say so?” Do we really need to have a holiday set aside every year to remind single people that they are in fact, single?

I don’t wear much red in my wardrobe, so I wasn’t immediately inspired by this color to make something to add to my wardrobe. I am trying very hard to use the fabric that I have instead of buying new, so that limits the things that I can do based on the yardage that I have on hand. Around this time last year, when I was trying to complete the challenges, I made some red bow ties. For this year’s attempt, something so simple feels a little like cheating, especially since the last project was simple as well.  Besides, what says love better than the Elder Gods?

I saw a picture on Facebook and thought it looked cute enough to try. I already had a bunch of fabric scraps from previous projects. I cut them all into somewhat uniform pieces and laid them out to check color placement. I soon realized that I had too many scraps to make just one, so I divided the pieces up and started to make two of them.  I sewed the pieces together, then I sewed up the sides and turned the tubes inside out. Then I stuffed the tubes. Then I stuffed some more. Then I realized that I had finished off my 5 pound box of fiberfill and had to open up another box to be able to finish stuffing both creatures.

The figuring out the pattern for the head was a process that took some time. I wasn’t sure if I wanted it to look more like a squid or an octopus, so I just tried to make it not look horrible. I’m not sure that I succeeded. I decided to make it more like a squid in order to respect the kraken. In following this I also decided that they needed yellow and red eyes. I’m pretty happy with how the eyes turned out.

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The benefit of making this out of t-shirt scraps is that it is super soft and cuddly. It is a good companion when sitting on the couch as the head can sit behind you and you can move the tentacles around you until you have it just the way that you want it to be comfortable.

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Happy sewing!

Hat + scarf = harf…That can’t be right

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The Facts

Fabric: fleece from stash

Pattern: Simplicity 1795

Year: recent

Notions: thread

Time to complete: an afternoon

First worn: not yet

Wear again? Possibly next winter

Total Cost: I have no idea

Quite some time ago, I promised Mr. UncommonGeek that I would make him a hoody that resembled a recognizer from Tron. Since I have no experience sewing sweatshirts, and I am trying to use fabric that I already own (but do not currently own any suitable sweatshirt type material), this has proven rather difficult.

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(This is the tag from one of the fabrics used in this hat. Notice the date. I have had this fabric since 2010. Slowly but surely I will use all of the fabric in my stash.)

Then I came across the YouTube video that Sewing Nerd! that showed how to make a Mortal Kombat inspired hooded scarf. You can watch it here: http://youtu.be/Hkz4T8ikDrM

I showed the video to Mr. UncommonGeek and he immediately saw that I could make a hooded scarf that looks like a recognizer. I wasn’t 100% sure how to make the pattern that she uses. I have tried to make head wear in the past and it has not turned out well at all. Then I remembered that I had a copy of Simplicity 1795. I bought it awhile back because I am kind of a sucker for cute accessories. I figured that since spring is almost here, why not make some winter accessories.

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Since I have not made this pattern before, I decided to make a test one to see if it would work for what I need. The pattern went together pretty smoothly, but I found that the scarf part is super short. I feel like a t-rex when I put my hands in the pockets. I definitely need to lengthen the scarf ends for the final product. This means that I need to make another test hooded scarf to make sure I have the right pattern for when I make the final product for my husband.

Here is the finished product. I used my octopus that I made recently as a model.

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Happy Sewing!

Snow and snow men

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Blowing snow. Drifting snow. Snow that is recorded by the foot. A light dusting of snow. Snow and ice and arctic chill.

Still with me? Good. While I dream about leaving for someplace tropic and never coming back, here is a simple way to create snowmen using socks, stuffing and pipe cleaners.

I made these after Thanksgiving, but before Christmas. I used them to decorate my desk at work. Since the holidays are over, I took them all down. Now there is snow on the ground and in the forecast. The temperatures are verging on (and breaking) record lows all across the country.

I’m thinking that I may need to place these snowmen on a place of honor to appease the gods of snow and winter so that the icy grip of winter may be reduced down to a gentle handshake of winter. Should my offering not be enough, I beg you dear reader, to make your own snowman offering. If enough of us do something, Winter may become sated and decide to release us to spring a little early.

Fabric: socks

Pattern: self drafted

Year: current

Notions: thread, beads, pipe cleaner

Time to complete: about 20 minutes per snow man

First worn: N/A

Wear again? N/A

Total Cost: All materials were from my stash, so $0.

Find a sock that has lost its mate. Or start with a pair of socks to make two snow men. Decide if you want to make a snow man that has two sections or three. I found that making them with two sections was easier to make and the arms make more sense in their placement.

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I cut the sock so that the toe becomes the head. Then I cut another section for the main body. Next, I sew up one of the ends of the body piece. Then I stuff the body piece with as much stuffing as I can fit. I use polyester fiber fill because that is what I have on hand. Other online tutorials suggest using rice, beans, or sand.

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Once the body section is filled with the stuffing of choice, I closed the top of the body section the same way that I had closed the bottom. Then I fill the head with stuffing, closed up the opening, and then attach the head to the body.

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The arms are made from one chenille stick per snowman. I started by folding the stick in half and folding each end until it resembled a hand of some sort. Then I wrap the stick around the snow man.

The finishing touch is adding eyes. If you really want to make your snow men unique, try adding more to their faces. A smile is traditional and basic. Eyebrows and a frown or a snarl embodies the facet of Winter that I feel has been growing increasingly stronger ever since the end of December.

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If you have fabric scraps, you can also make a hat and scarf for your snow man. If you are a Calvin and Hobbes fan, you can recreate the snow men scenes that Calvin created. I’m feeling pretty lazy, so I just stopped at giving them faces.

Happy sewing!

Week 25(ish) On holiday: Vacation Wear

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*Please note: This post was written in May of last year, and I am only just now sharing it. Please enjoy!

20140530_155950The Facts

Fabric: men’s button down shirt

Pattern: inspired by Threadbanger video about how to make a pirate costume

Year: recent-ish

Notions: ribbon and scrap fabric

Time to complete: one morning

First worn: To Ye Olde Cabaret – May

Wear again? Possibly

Total Cost: No idea

This week’s sewing challenge was actually made last Saturday. For those of you who don’t know, my current job has me working crazy early in the morning, which causes me to wake up moderately early on the weekends. So crazy sleep schedule combined with pre-show jitters combined into the opportunity to make this shirt. In case you were unable to attend Ye Olde Yellow Cabaret – May, the show was amazing. There will be another one in August so you can see what I’m talking about.

I have a variety of men’s dress shirts that are too big on me and too small for my husband. I have been trying to figure out the best way to modify them for steampunk and costuming purposes. For this one, I decided to try out a modification that I have tried on a different shirt previously. Threadbanger had posted this (http://youtu.be/hvopk72Bx3Y) video awhile back and I was able to recreate the modification with pretty decent success. I say pretty decent because the neckline is uneven and kind of poorly done. I’m not sure that it is especially noticeable, but it bothers me because I know that it is wrong.

This time around I made sure to be more careful about how I cut out the neckline so it would not be so uneven from one side to the other. Then I went to turn the fabric down to create a channel for the ribbon to go through. Things were going pretty well until they  weren’t. I got a cup of coffee and thought things over. I then found some scrap fabric and created a long tube for the ribbon to go through. I sewed the tube down at the top and bottom so it would be secure. After that was finished I ran the ribbon through. Since I wasn’t sure if it would work or not, I just left the opening on one side and did not have a place for the ribbon to come through on both shoulders. Please note that I did not have to make a tube, I just needed to sew a long rectangle down. I guess the coffee had not kicked in yet.

Here is what the casing looks like on the inside:

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Purple and green are the colors of my airship!

So there you have it. A shirt that I made from having watched an internet video over a year ago or more. There are a couple of videos where they show how to modify clothes to make them more steampunk, as well as multiple costume tutorials. I highly recommend them, as well as any other videos that they show. They are very crafty people.

Happy sewing!

Week 16 – Mother’s Day – Inspired by an old family photo

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Mother’s Day- Inspired by an old family photo TAG: Family

*Please note: This post was written awhile back and I am just now sharing it with you all. Please enjoy!

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The Facts

Fabric: Mystery content fabric from stash. Unsure of original origins.

Pattern: Simplicity 2147

Year: 2011

Notions: Bias tape from stash. Unsure of original origins.

Time to complete: 20+ hours

First worn: Not yet

Wear again? Hopefully I will get a lot of wear out of this during the summer months.

Total Cost: Unsure as I am not sure when or where I got the fabrics and bias tape.

Mother’s Day was last Sunday. I celebrated by not bothering my mother. While she appreciates it when her family shows their love for her, she does not like it when we try to do it at the same time as everyone else in the area does it. So, sometime in the future, I will take her out for a nice meal that she can enjoy without having to plan a menu, shop for groceries, or clean up a kitchen afterwards.

My mom is the one who first set me on my path of learning how to sew and how to create my own clothes. It was her goal to make sure that I would be able to at least hem a pair of pants and fix a button. She has sewn for many years and while I was growing up, many of my clothes were ones that she made for me.

I am sorry to say that I do not have any of the pictures from when I was growing up. My parents are in the process of moving into a new house and the photos of me as a child are in a box somewhere, waiting to be put into a photo album. However, I can assure you that this top is one similar to one that i would have had as a child. It would probably have looked something like this:

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This is a random pattern that I found by doing an image search. This one shows the yoke front, basic tunic shape and a puffy sleeve. While I can’t confirm that this is a pattern that my mother would have used, it is similar to something that she would have made for me. I would have worn it while climbing trees or digging in the dirt. I was never really that much of a girly girl and to this day I sometimes struggle with my tomboy tendencies. I also blame my numerous Converse collection of my tomboy need for the most comfortable thing warring with my girly side for needing all the cute shoes. All the cute shoes!!

Ahem. Anyway. I am trying to use up the fabric that I have in my stash. I did not have enough of the fabric to make a tunic length shirt and have a front and back yoke. So I poked around for a bit and found this navy blue fabric that is a much darker shade of navy than I remember it being.

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In the spirit of Mother’s day, I decided to combine the two fabrics. My mom has said on many different occasions something along the lines of, “just because the pattern says to do it one way, it doesn’t mean that you have to do things the way that they tell you to.” It is a good policy to remember in the creative world, even if it makes the possibilities endless.

So that solved my fabric dilemma. It was after I decided to make this shirt that I realized that I also needed a seam binding. I excavated my crafting cave for a bit and I came up with this.

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I thought the package had been opened until I tried to get the bias tape out. It had apparently never been opened and worked wonderfully for this top. Bonus: I didn’t use it all so I have it for future projects!

I had some trouble when I was sewing the top together. The sheer fabric is prone to fraying, and the other fabric seems to want to fray as well, just not as much as the sheer. I had picked up this pattern because it seemed like a simple top that would be a good wardrobe basic. I forgot that pattern instructions are written for the level that the manufacturer assumes that the person sewing is at or near. This is a basic pattern that is meant to teach, well, basics to someone who is newer to sewing. I felt like certain things were glossed over while other things were repeated needlessly. It was definitely a good practice pattern for me as the fabric forced me to slow down and make sure I paid attention to details that I may not have otherwise paid attention to at all.

Here is the finished top from the front –

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And here it is from the back –

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I know it kind of seems boring and shapeless, but wait till you see it with a belt –

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I’m going to wear it with a some dark wash jeans and a pair of purple converse.

Happy sewing!!

Week 15 – City Inspiration

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The Facts

Fabric: black knit from stash

Pattern: McCall’s M6556 Fashion Star

Year: 2012

Notions: Thread, from stash

Time to complete: ½ pot of coffee

First worn: N/A

Wear again? Possibly

Total Cost: Um, $2-$3 for the pattern?

*Please note that this post was written last year, and I have only just now gotten around to sharing. Please enjoy!

City Inspiration. Like many of my challenges, the hardest part of this one was the getting started on the project. I was originally going to make a vest, but I couldn’t find a fabric in my stash fit the criteria that I was looking for in order to make said vest. Maybe I will find something and use it for a future post. Maybe I need to shop for new fabric…

When I think of what people wear in the cities, versus the suburbs or the country, I think of three things. One is an edgy, trend setting look. Two is business attire, tailored and polished. Three is what one would wear for a night out on the town. The vest that I was going to make would have fallen in between the first two categories. It would have been a tailored vest appropriate for the office, but with an edge. Just the thing for one to wear if they were working in graphic design or a similar field.

This pattern was picked out by Mr. Uncommon Geek on a trip to the local fabric store. I was feeding my addiction, I mean, stocking up on sewing patterns while they were on sale. Since he was bored, I gave him a book and asked him to look and see if there was anything that he liked. He picked this one.

The pattern itself is simple. There is one piece for the front and one piece for the back. However, the pieces are so big that you are supposed to attach the bottom pieces of the pattern front and back before laying out the pattern pieces on the fabric. However, the fabric I was working with had been used for a different project previously and there was not enough to make the full dress. So, the extra drapey bit at the bottom was not included and the instead of making a dress that is its own outfit, I made a long shirt that can pair well with some skinny jeans and sparkly accessories.

I’m not sure if I will ever have a place to wear this top. Most of my social activities don’t really call for trendy or fashion forward attire. They tend more toward steampunk events or casual get togethers. However, I have noticed that a large portion of my closet looks like it is from 10 – 20 years ago and is in drastic need of an update. I have recently began toying with the idea of having my friends come over and pull out everything in my closet that they hate seeing me wear, like how they do in “What Not to Wear.” However, I fear that I will end up with truly nothing in my closet and I will have to go shopping for new clothes in my steampunk attire. (Come on, my steampunk stuff would not be involved in the purge. I’m not completely crazy.)

To get back at the subject of this sewing challenge, I recommend this pattern as a beginner’s introduction to working with knits. There is only a front piece and a back piece to worry about and there are instructions for modifying the pattern to make different variations. If I ever do get up the courage to wear this out and about, it may give me the courage to try out some of the Japanese sewing books that have been translated and made available. Since they all seem to have pretty mixed reviews, I will definitely be checking them out of the library before I try purchasing them.

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Happy sewing!

Week 14 – Stash Busting (VIP Fabric)

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The Facts

Fabric: Mystery blend fabric. Unknown origin, unknown fiber content.

Pattern: Mashup of McCall’s 6819 and modified Simplicity 4046

Year: 2014

Notions: Thread, interfacing, ribbon, grommets

Time to complete: 30+

First worn: Not yet

Wear again? Maybe after some intense reworking

Total Cost: Unknown

* This is a post that I wrote last year, but did not get around to posting until just now.

I have had this fabric in my stash for quite some time. I do not know where I purchased it originally. Since it was cut by a previous owner, I probably got it from a charity shop/thrift store or an estate sale. I love the color and the pattern. I knew that whatever I made from it would have to be really special.

In addition to my hoarding fabric, I also collect sewing patterns. I have managed to amass enough patterns to open an Etsy store that sells nothing but vintage and gently used patterns. (Hint, hint.) Most of the newer patterns that I own are ones that I have bought on sale so I can practice making all of the tailor made clothing that I love so much, or so I can recreate some of the steampunk outfits that I covet. Most of the my vintage patterns are ones that I have collected from various sources and are unlikely to be made by me. So while it seems that most everyone I know has been furiously creating a costume for either the Steampunk Empire Symposium or for C2E2 this weekend, I have been working on this jacket. I was hoping to possibly wear it this weekend, but I have not finished it and I have made enough mistakes during its creation that it is possible that it will not ever be worn without a major overhaul. It may be possible to wear it as is if I make a bustle extreme enough, but that is unlikely to happen any time soon.

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I combined the top part of the McCalls’ pattern with a modified bottom of the over skirt from the Simplicity pattern you may remember from last week. I found out that fabric drape is an important consideration when making a full skirt. This fabric is very stiff, which is good for the top portion of the jacket, but not so much for the bottom. If there had been enough to follow the pattern exactly, I think it would have turned out alright. I was thinking a shorter version would work with the dress that I made previously. I obviously did not think it through well enough. You can see in the pictures that the front does not line up in the center front because the jacket front does not line up in the center. That is how this jacket was designed. You can see in the picture of the pattern that there is a choice of a peplum or some tabs. Either way, there is a visual distraction at the waistline of the jacket to hide the fact that it overlaps in the front and it is a fact that I did not realize until after the jacket was constructed. But, I am sewing to learn more about sewing and clothing construction. As much as I love this fabric and the idea of this pattern, there is a fabric that I have had since I began my fabric hoarding. When I feel more confident in my sewing abilities, I will cut into that fabric and make this jacket again (or one very like it) but I will match the fabric at the seams, I will understitch my seams on the correct sides, and I will know how to match things up better so I have a more symmetrical jacket overall.

Happy sewing!