Month: May 2013

pink crepe skirt tutorial

Much to my own surprise, I decided to actually get off my patoot and make something from my previous inspiration board post.  Behold: a midi-length pink crepe skirt that I can wear to nice things and/or clinic (if I am ever brave enough to sit down on public transportation with a butt clad in easily stainable fabric)!  A tutorial with pictures is below.

To get started, you’ll need some crepe of your chosen color (I think mine was 60″ poly crepe that I purchased for $4/yd in Evanston), matching thread, an invisible zipper (meep) and if you want to do a contrasting waistband like mine/the Net-a-Porter skirt, 2 inch-wide ribbon in your contrasting color.  If this is your first project sewing in an invisible zipper, don’t worry because this was my first time too and I did it with minimal swearing and zero tears!

Slide05

First, I decided how long I wanted the skirt to be and where I wanted it to hit on my waistline.  Then I also got an idea of how much material/gathering I wanted in the skirt.  This is totally up to the individual sewer and will also vary based on your height and waist.  I wanted a very full gathered skirt so I used the full 60″ width of my fabric.  Your fabric should be at least 1.5x the width of your waist or hips (depending on where the skirt will sit).

For the waistband, measure your waist and add for seam allowances (you don’t have to do this, but I also included enough wiggle room in your waistband (besides what I allotted for the seam) for those trivial things like breathing and tucking in shirts and food babies).  The waistband height should be 2 inches (not counting seam allowances).

Slide07

  1. Cut two waistband pieces and affix interfacing to the wrong side of one (optional, but it’s nice to have a stiff waistband).  Sew the waistband pieces together on one side, length-wise and right sides together. On the other long side (for both pieces), fold up under the seam allowance + press.  From here on out, the side of the waistband with interfacing will be the back side (against your body), or WB. The side without interfacing will be the front side, or WF.
  2. On the top of your skirt-rectangle piece, gather so that it is the same length as the waistband (including food baby + seam allowances).  Make sure it is more or less evenly done, depending on your level of anal retentivity –  here is a good tutorial on gathering.
  3. Match up long edge of WF with the top of the gathers and sew (right sides together).
  4. Fold the other side of the waistband (WB) down over the gathers.  Press under by your seam allowance and pin.  Baste this in place.  Flip it over so you’re looking at the right side of the skirt and topstitch along the bottom of the waistband.  (It might seem excessive to baste in place, but this was what I did because I wanted to make sure the folded under WB was secured down while I neatly topstitched over the top, and I didn’t want to take pins out from underneath the fabric while sewing.)

By now you should have a gathered rectangle-looking thing with a smooth waistband.  Now it’s time to sew your invisible zipper into the skirt waistband + body.  I can’t even pretend to know what’s going on with invisible zippers at this point so I’m just going to link y’all to what I used: here.  I followed these instructions to the letter and I ended up with a functional zipper – whaddya know, it was not as horrible as I had anticipated.  Sew the side seams as instructed in the video as well.

All done! (For now, at least.)  I decided not to do the blue belt/waistband thing, as I own a lot of blue blouses and I would not want to wear a blue belt + a slightly different blue top. Life is hard.

Slide2

you may also take a moment to appreciate my huge guns, which apparently i must subconsciously display in every photo.

This was definitely the most involved sewing tutorial I’ve done thus far so if you think I can do better let me know (constructively, please)!  Also if you make this I want to see how it turns out, so comment with a link!  (:

summertime sew-verload

So I’ve been on a bit of a sewing glut recently.  My loved ones are becoming a bit alarmed by my behavior (and by loved ones I mean only David, and by alarmed I mean getting kind of sick of navigating the minefield of pins on the living room carpet).

But this has been a productive glut!  I’ve made three skirts, and two of those were from an abandoned project that I had cast away in frustration last year.  So that’s definitely what I call success.  (:  I would have better pictures, but David works until after dark on the weekdays (and most of the time the weekends) so these photos are an interesting mixture of “quick take this and then let’s sprint to the bus stop” (we were literally sprinting one morning) and also “hey it’s 11:30 and I still haven’t showered after my workout 7 hours ago but WHATEVER let’s take these pictures.” Behold me in all my dignity.

The first is my pink crepe skirt.  I made this one up on my own (no pattern woooo!) and it was more of a struggle than I anticipated (as my no-pattern projects often are) but I’m still very pleased with the result.  Tutorial coming soon!

Slide2

a little baggy, but that’s because i’m wearing a thin workout top rather than a blouse and undershirt.

The next two are from the same pattern, and this pattern was the source of all the woes for this project.  Last year when I first embarked upon my journey aboard the S.S. Singer, I had a rough-and-tumble (read: crappy trial-by-error) lesson in pattern sizes.  When I made my first dress, I just COULD NOT believe that I could be a regular clothing size 2/4 but be a pattern size 14.  Not possible…except it definitely was possible.  Ouch. Not to be fooled again, I followed the pattern sizing directions for this skirt pattern and it turned out to be comically large – even with the elastic in the skirt I had to hold it up on both sides of my waist to keep it from falling down.

Needless to say it was enough to make me stuff the thing into a basket of fabric and forget about it for a year.   This past weekend I finally dug it out, laboriously picked it apart, and re-cut the fabric.  With a couple inches lopped off each side, it finally fit!  Sort of!  After a year of crafting, my critical eye is not very fond of the cut of the skirt or the fact that I chose such a geometrically repeating pattern to be pleated (the print does. not. line. up. ughghghghghhh.), but what is the point of being young and inexperienced if you can’t make totally regretful life decisions you’ll have to live with forever?  At least I didn’t get “HOMICIDE” tattooed on my neck or something like that.

look at how capable i am of charming facial expressions early in the morning!

look at how capable i am of charming facial expressions early in the morning!

Unfortunately for my continued saga of poor life decisions, I had also cut and pinned ANOTHER skirt of the same pattern last year, so I had another of these bad boys to make. There. Alllllll done, and now I can move on to more flattering outfits! 

Slide5

am i laughing at david? at ceecee? at how bad this pattern was? who knows.

Next up, I think I’m going back to knitting. I haven’t bought any yarn since my pre-Christmas stock-up, and my birthday is approaching – what better way to break a massive yarn embargo? Also, here’s a bonus CeeCee photo.  She’s so cute when she’s not sticking her paw in my yogurt and then flinging yogurt all over my hair and face (that actually happened today).

Slide3

alive (with the power of monkey bread)

It’s SUMMER BREAK.  FINALLY. I don’t think I can fully express how long and agonizingly I have longed for the moment where I put down my pencil (actually, I put it in my pocket because I was in the anatomy lab and every horizontal surface in there is pretty greasy) and closed my eyes in sweet relief.

Of course, such a long-awaited moment deserved a little celebration. Besides (re-)watching the entire BBC Sherlock series in 24 hours, I also went to town on no less than three (!!) sewing projects, all of which will be up on the blog shortly (with a tutorial for one – I’ve been s(o/ew) productive).

My parents came up (with our dog!) for a very brief visit, so we had a lovely walk along the lake.  Nick (our dog) normally spends his days unleashed and roaming free in our 2-acre yard, so having to be on a leash and walk around so many other people without sniffing them was very difficult for him.

Slide02

if this image came with audio you’d only be able to hear the dog snorking as he nearly choked himself to death on the leash.

My final act of school’s-out-oh-yeah revelry was MONKEY BREAD.  Since I went to boarding school for most of high school, for the majority of the time the only parent-like figures physically present were the RC’s (kind of like an RA at university, but a bit older).  Some RC’s were nicer than others (read: they baked us goodies), and during my junior year, I happened to have possibly one of the nicest RC’s of all time.  Heidi made monkey bread on a pretty regular basis, and it was the perfect thing to eat when you were sad, or happy, or needed to celebrate (so basically at any occasion).

Slide2But what is monkey bread?  It’s hard to explain beyond the words amazingly delicious and dangerously habit-forming, but it’s basically like a pull-apart cinnamon roll.  See below.

Slide1

yum.

So that’s been my lovely long weekend and I hope yours was just as wonderful!  I’ll be resuming with more sewing and knitting posts in the very near future now that I have lots more time to do them.  I’m looking forward to a very productive summer. (:

 

dia de la madre

Happy Mother’s Day to my mama and all the other excellent ladies out there who have gestated human beings!  This year I did a mostly handmade gift for my mom and I thought I’d share it with y’all.

Slide2I feel like many people know of a style of art or self-expression from another culture that they really enjoy.  For me, it’s henna.  For my mom, it’s sugar skulls (well, that’s at least one of the many multicultural art things she enjoys).  So for Mother’s Day, I thought I’d make her sugar skull shoes!

Slide3I followed it up with a papel picado card (gotta keep to the theme).  The template is my own, but I got the idea from Paper Made, a really interesting paper (duh) crafts book that my mama gave me for Christmas.  I am more or less satisfied with the result, although I did have to start over a few times because I kept messing up the lettering.  In the end I just decided I’d be happy with what I got and move on for the sake of my own sanity.  So, if you want to do a papel picado project I would definitely recommend that when you design your template you don’t create something that requires Mother Teresa-esque patience and the fine motor skills of a hand surgeon.

Slide1

cat-sles in the sky

It’s hard to believe that it’s been two weeks since we adopted CeeCee. She has certainly made herself at home, and we have definitely fallen in love with this absurd cat.  Her most favorite activity? Waking us up at 6:30 in the morning to attack our knees and toes while she simultaneously wrestles mechanical pencils in bed.

Slide1Like a typical cat, CeeCee is OBSESSED with boxes and bags.  She and David can entertain one another for hours using only a little string and a Trader Joe’s bag.  Recently, we discovered quite a cache of empty boxes in the stairwell of our apartment building and appropriated them to make a playhouse for CeeCee!  After some utility knifing and a little tape, we had a bona fide cat castle (or “cat-sle,” as David has coined it).

Slide2At first, CeeCee was quite distressed that we were destroying her beautiful collection of boxes.  Once she ascertained that what we did made the boxes even MORE fun, she was all over it.

Slide1Goodnight!

Slide3

on fear of (sewing) commitment

Confession time: I did not do much sewing in April.  I finished a project, but that was one I began and mostly completed in March.  This means I sort of failed at my resolution/goal to sew one item per month. Whoops.  But it’s not like I wasn’t doing any other projects – I think I just have a fear of sewing in which I build it up into this giant production in my head when in reality, it’s no more of a production than mixing paints and painting, or counting endless knitting stitches.  I guess I might view sewing as more of a challenge, but I do tend to jump into other challenging projects as far as knitting and painting go without much hesitation or self-flagellation. Sigh.

ANYWAY.  I didn’t start this blog to write posts where I just whine about something, I’m going to make a post about how I’m going to change the whiny thing!  That brings us to my newest (half-baked) plan – Me-Made-May!  I won’t be participating in the 2013 version, because that means I would either be wearing the same three or four items of clothing over and over again, or I would just have to go round naked.   Rather, my goal is to be able to sign up for next year and wear my (hopefully numerous) creations with pride.  Instead of wearing pieces this May, I think I’ll just focus on making them.  I have quite a few half-finished projects that need some love thrown their way (I’m looking at you, almost-finished-skirts-that-turned-out-to-be-enormous – a big fat UGH to stupid pattern sizing), and some more projects that would probably move quite quickly once I motivated myself to start sewing.

So here’s to the rest of this month, and actually the rest of this year – until the next Me-Made-May! (:

something different

I do a lot of arts and crafts. (Duh.)  Most of the time, I do those arts and crafts alone in my apartment, talking to myself (now I guess I talk to my cat), usually when I’m not wearing any pants.  While I do love this arrangement (because who loves pants? not me), sometimes it is nice to leave my hermitage and go do something artsy with other people.

As you can probably guess, I’m writing this blog post for a reason – I recently did do something in public/outside my zone of comfort (but let’s be honest, most things in public are outside my zone of comfort). I tried a Monday Masterpieces class at Bottle and Bottega with some of my classmates.  I was initially really apprehensive about doing it, because I feel like I can be overly critical of the things I make, and having those feelings in public around strangers is generally not an enjoyable experience. And really – trying to recreate a literal masterpiece is kind of intimidating, especially when you’re trying to do it in 2.5 hours.  However, I failed to factor in the most important factor: I would be doing this with wine (hence the Bottle in their name).  And you know what?  It was actually FUN!  And I liked what I did, enough to even want to hang it up in my house!  Very (pleasantly) surprising.

(photo from bottle and bottega's facebook page)

(photo from bottle and bottega’s facebook page)

If you’re in the Chicago area (or actually any area with Bottle and Bottega locations), I really recommend trying it out, alone or in a group!  It might have been the wine, but I was definitely in a really good mood when I finished, and I even have something to show for my evening (:

Slide1 And here’s a gratuitous photo of my cute sleepy kitty, just because I can. Sorry world.

Slide2