In a Groove

Sometimes I'm just feeling one process more than another. This week, I was really into the tiny hand piecing of my Dear Jane blocks and knocked out a whole bunch of them. I'm finally feeling like the end is in sight--I've got 5 rows left of blocks, and then it's on to sashing, borders, and triangles. Debating whether to hand sew all the sashings, or take the easy way out and use a machine. I'm leaning towards machine, if only because I know I'll have to hand quilt it, and doing both by hand is the way to madness.

Can't quite remember where I left off last time, so here's most of Row H. Circle-and-bowties was a tremendous pain, but most of the others were pretty okay. I don't think I'll ever want to applique another tiny melon/diamond shape though. My corners are pretty much the worst. 

End of Row H, I-1 and I-2.  Felt like a break, such an easy bunch! Even the applique one was not as bad, at least the pieces were bigger. Peeking ahead there's some multi-piece monsters coming up. 

Also got back on a quick knitting trip since it's getting cold. The scarf I finished last year, but just never got around to blocking. It look so much better now that it lies flat. It feels softer too! I also knocked out a quick hat, but like all hats I make, I get impatient like an inch too soon and start doing decreases, so it's a little small on my head. I swear next time around I'm going to make the biggest, floppiest hat to try and avoid it. 

Stretching Out

Ohhhh boy did I wait too long to update. Get ready for a lot of pictures! I think getting a smartphone has been detrimental to the blog's updating schedule because I get too focused on twitter/tumblr/instagram and forget that I'm not also posting updates here. Hopefully now that the novelty is wearing off I'll do better. 

So, when last we left the pile of old bathing suits, I had made a few nine-patches. A bunch more followed--in fact way too many, I have a lot left over now! Here I'm lying them out and taking a look at sashing. I wasn't sure about the sashing initially, but I'm glad I went with it. Now I needed a pattern!

These ridiculous shorts came from the thrift store, and I've loved them for working out and running, Tracing them out was a pain with the elastic waist, but I managed to stretch them out and tape them to the floor to do it. 
My latest thrift store run netted me this thick cotton plaid and this leopard spandex. I decided to use the leopard as a test run for my shorts pattern before messing around with my ninepatches. 

It came out quite well! I used another scrap of Hawaiian print bathing suit for the waist band, because why not? It was, like the original shorts, a little high-waisted, so I cut the waist down a bit on the pattern. 

Ok, ok, I know they look a little weird and wrinkled like this, just wait, they stretch out and look much better down the page when I put them on! But can I just say I'm tickled pink that the patterns match up pretty nicely? I wasn't even really hoping for that, but the patches were just about the perfect size to meet in sashing in the center seams.

Back. Next time around though, I will make them slightly longer so I get a full block on top, and the sashing forms the waist band. 

And they are actually reversible! There are so many seams from the patchwork, they definitely needed to be lined, or else they'd be really uncomfortable. I don't have access to a coverstitcher (on my short list of things to save up for) so I had to improvise with finishing techniques, and  full lining worked out well. 

See? Once on, all (well, most) of the weird wrinkling/rippling goes away! Hoping with more practice on a serger I'll get smoother seams.  And they are actually quite comfortable, a little thicker than normal shorts, but they still stretch just as well, and feel very sturdy. 
For laughs I decided to use the rest of the floral material to see if I could work out a singlet pattern. I just sort of stuck a tank top shape on top of the shorts pattern, I think next time around I'll add a side seam so I can get some more coverage around the arm/neck hole. I didn't really bother finishing this, it was a just a tester, so ignore all the nasty edges. 


In non-spandex news:

Took a regular XL thrift store sweatshirt, re-cut it to my size. 

Then, I traced a quilted pattern onto tracing paper, and basted it onto the sweatshirt, with a backing fabric behind it. I then quilted it directly through the tracing paper. The tracing paper then gets torn away as I finished. 

Finished quilting on the inside, you can see the back fabric here. Sadly, I didn't take an pictures of this process, but I then ran thick yarn through the 'channels' I'd quilted to create a raised quilting. This, if I'm remembering correctly is sometimes called Italian or Corded Quilting. 

Closeup on the quilting. 

Then, of course, I sewed the sleeves and body back together! One of my favorite 'wearable' pieces I've made lately. I've already worn it a few time this week, it's perfect weather for it right now. 

And this is just in it's beginning stages, but a new shirt is coming together! Finally cutting into this paisley/plaid fabric. 

Finishing Touches!

Where have I been?! My computer's been very on-the-fritz, I think the battery is starting to go--so I've been using my shiny new smartphone more, and I think it distracted me a bit from posting on here. The computer's still broken, but the novelty has begun to wear off on the phone, so hopefully I keep up here more.

As the seasons are changing over I've been going through my shelves and realizing there were a lot of projects that were almost-but-not-quite finished, so I went through and  hemmed all the bottoms, bought snaps and jean post-buttons and attached them.
Added buttons to a bunch of things! I had just been wearing the shorts with a belt. So far I've also done the button hole on the floral shorts. 

Finally got pearl snap on my floral western shirt. I was stuck between seafoam green and purple, I think I made the right pick. 
And I did actually wear this today--finally!

Also used up some fabric that had been lying around--you saw a bit of this vest in the first picture:
Playing around with patterns to make a shawl collar. I think the collar actually came out well, but I'm not as pleased about the fit around the armholes/shoulder. Still wearable and comfy though. 

Also did my first welt pockets, not as scary as I thought. Much more confident to try them in the future. Used a really lovely, but smallish piece of wool crepe I had lying around to line it. This guy still needs buttonholes though. 
Also made another pair of pants to follow up my camo ones. No picture of them on yet, I need to iron them. I *did* however put a button and buttonhole on these! I didn't have quiteeee enough of the plaid to make a full pair of pants, so I supplemented with some denim. 

I like the effect visually, but as you can probably see here, there was some rippling going on, I think because of the difference in weight between the two fabrics. 
Did a few more Dear Jane Blocks. I accidentally skipped a page, so my Row G hasn't gone in order. That top one was a pain with all those curves. 
Begun sketching out some ideas for a varsity-style jacket to use up some wools. I wanted to do a reverse applique motif on the chest and back, not sure exactly what the imagery will be yet. 

Testing out the reverse applique, I think I like the backstitched style better than the basted-than-buttonhole stitched. It also saves me a step. These are the fabrics for the finished jacket, a thick, felted/boiled wool in dark teal, and a very fuzzy, brushed wool that might be mohair? I need to find a lining fabric for this, as well as figure out what I want to use for the cuffs, waistband and collar. 

Clearing the Shelves

Finally done with Summer Institute. It's a lot of fun, and I had a great group of kids, but it's nice to have some more down time. I've begun trying to use up some of the shelves of fabric that I keep accumulating. Not materials for 'work-work' just the junk I pick up at thrift stores and forget about.

To the end I finally got around to making something with the camo fabric I bought a few months ago. I've been seeing tons of camo pants in stores right now, so I figured I might as well give 'em a try. With each new 'regular clothing' project, I'm going to try to learn a new technique. This time around, it was a turn up contrast cuff.

I quite like the way the fit came out on these, I used my 'looser/lower crotch' modified shorts pattern then tapered the leg on them. They are a little higher-waisted than I normally wear, but I think as I wear them, they will stretch a bit and slouch down. 

And the turn-up cuffs, I thought a dainty little floral print would set off the camo pattern a little bit. You can roll them up or leave them down.  Next time I would taper the leg opening slightly less, because they're a bit tight on my calves when rolled up right now. I also have a little bit of an odd problem with the seam twisting around to the front, which was present in the original Levi's I based the pants pattern off of. I might try and correct that by moving the inseam around a bit to the front on the next pair. 

Fabric number two to get used up was a cute yellow floral twill from the thrift store. There wasn't a whole lot of it--not enough for shorts or a jacket, so I decided to use my jean-jacket pattern to make a sleeveless version. I quite like my little jean-vest! I need to buy some more snaps for the front though. Also tried a new way of attaching the one-piece collar, and it's probably the neatest looking collar I've done yet. 

Admission time though, can you tell what I screwed up? I put the bottom band on upside down. Didn't care enough to rip it off and redo though. 

Ahh, but look at my perfect french seams and nice bias finishing on the armhole!

And finally, something more nerdy-dumb-wrassling related. I found this awful, awful fabric at the thrift store, and knew it was perfect for a tribute to one of my favorite new guys in NXT, Enzo Amore. A Bonafied-G and a Certified Stud, and most certainly not SAWWWWWFT. 

Teaching Time

I'm a bit wrapped up in Summer Institute, if that helps to explain why I've haven't posted in a while. But thought I'd update everyone on a few projects.

After a very, very hot, soapy washing, all of those old bathing suits I bought were chopped up into 2.5" squares. I starched and ironed them as best as I could, but the spandex/lycra they are made of was very tricky to cut accurately. It loves to shift and curl up as you're working with it. 
Then I went into school a bit early before class to steal some time on the serger. I do think a serger/coverstitcher is in my near-future, but the purchase has been pushed back a bit after a rather large vet bill for my dumb cat. Anyway, I made some nine-patches, and I was happy to see the stretch really remained. I was worried that all the seams from piecing would make it rigid, but it didn't. Some sort of horrible athletic wear is going to come from this, I promise. 

Fairisle hat is continuing to come together. I knitted the top with guidance from a pattern for a 'flat top' hat, but it made the top more hexagonal than circular, and it's a bit lumpy looking. Oh well! Crochet edging now along the bottom edge and face-hole. I did block it, but it's rolling up again, so I guess I'll block it again once I'm done. A big old pom-pom's going on top too, don't worry. 

And just one lonely Dear Jane Block. But it is the start of a new row! Here's my H-1, and what a refreshingly easy little block after a lot of row G being very fidgety.

I've also done a lot of drawing in the past couple weeks, when I get a chance I'll scan some of that in. I also just started last night a pair of camo pants for myself, and I think I've finally gotten my pants pattern just about right, so keep an eye out for them!

Gathering Mode

I'm back in that gathering mood. Back to scouring the thrift stores for big chunks of certain things with only a vague idea of what they'll eventually become.
Blue bathing suit bits? Watching too much wrestling has gotten me into a mood to work with spandex and garish patterns. Not that I can really do much without a serger/coverstitcher, but these things might be in my future, I think, and I'm getting supplies ready. 

And for my class, terrible thrift store garments to transform. The theme this years seems to be 'terrible patterns and embellishments.'
Been knitting away at what I think will be a hat, if I've planned right. I'm sort of making a pattern up on the fly--I couldn't find a flat-topped flapped hat design that I liked, so we'll see how this goes. 

Close up. Loving the fair isle so far, should really work more with it, I enjoy the process a lot. Maybe time to break out my graph paper book and work out some designs. These were mostly just chosen at random from a book. 
And what post would be complete without a couple Dear Jane blocks? G-6 through G-10. Nothing too tricky in this batch. Don't know why people find y-seams tricky, I never have a tough time with them. Then again, after doing an enormous bit of hexagon patchwork by hand, I've got lots of practice with them. The pink and blue one here was probably the worst, but it was just tedious, not difficult. 

Keeping it Together

Or at least trying to.

It's been a very difficult week. Seamus has been in the hospital since Monday with some major pancreas problems. It's tearing me up to see him so weak and so out of it.  I've been visiting him as much as I can, but it's a half an hour walk each way, and we're now in 90+ degree heat. Plus the electricity partially went out (taking the A/C with it) at work earlier in the week, so I'm running on fumes, both physically and emotionally.     Understandably, I'm not exactly in the mood to be working on things, but I did get some things done before all this went down, and I've been drawing a little bit too.

Dear Jane G-5 and G-6. Two particularly fussy little blocks. I tried to do the right one as full patchwork first and it was a mess, it worked better as a partial applique. The tiny, tiny star in the middle of the star block was also tough, especially since I'm not paper piecing. 
I did also do some more work on the braid coat, but one un-attached strip of braids looks pretty much like another, so no picture there. However, I am getting back to sketching the finished product a little bit. I'm now thinking it's going to have a kimono-like collar of braid that is wool on both sides, but I'm going to have to make a sample and see if it gets too thick. 

I also did a little bit of knitting this week. When I bought all those double-pointed needles for my Lenore Tawney project, I also bought a chunk of Knit Pick's Palette yarn to get to free shipping, and I've been sitting on it ever since. I decided to finally bust it out a swatch some fair isle. I think I'm going to make a hat, I'm coming up with a shape right now. 

Which got me thinking about hats, and so doodled out this very embarrassing and not at all stylish hat for Sal. To keep his horns warm? Somehow I don't think they get cold. But it's a nice sentiment. 

And a last little drawing, this one's pretty old. Just trying out a more cartoony, thicker lined style. Still not drawing as much as I ought to though.