Thursday, January 26, 2012

RTFM - or how I learned to stop worrying and love the buttonhole

Love may be a bit of an overstatement, but lets face it, RTFM never is.  Turns out I'd only skimmed it before and there is a buttonhole lever .....  all those wasted years.   ::sigh::  However, I can do a snazzy bound button hole, so I guess its not all a waste.   Back to the main point -- machine button holes -- mine are messy and awkward, uneven and odd looking -- but they have fulfilled my new year's resolution, during the month of January, which means I am two for two.  ::is smug::

on the largest setting to spare you the sight of wonky button holes
Anyhow, for the whole buttons vs. no buttons thing I ended up just asking my friend what she wanted.  Its not like the sleep sack is really a surprise, I guess I was just in gift mode and being sneaky. Huzzah for frog buttons!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

baby's sleep sack - buttons or no buttons?

This evening I threw together the majority of a baby's sleep sack.   Its more or less a lightweight sleeping back with overall straps, which I think are meant to prevent the baby from escaping.   These same straps are the cause of my current trouble... while researching average baby size I came across a post about their clothing, and how buttons are basically lying in wait to be ripped off by curious fingers, gobbled, and then do their level best to choke the child in question.   While at the fabric store this evening I bought really cute frog buttons -- but now I'm worried that they will cause death and destruction.  So -- does anyone who isn't a crazy person on the internet want to weigh in?   I'm certain I've seen buttons on baby's garments - are they safe if well sewn down?  (I want the straps to be adjustable so they can alter them as the baby grows.)

Other than the button debacle, I'm rather pleased with this project.   It didn't require a pattern or fitting or frankly much thought and it still looking quite lovely (if I do say so myself.) Its not showing well in the picture, but the plaid flannel and the frogs are a perfect match, so I'm hoping the weight ends up being acceptable for summer in California .. if not, well, its big, and cooler weather will come eventually, because damn it - they just matched too well.  The universe demanded they be paired!!!!

(vaguely based on this.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

half circle skirt - doneski!

 Huzzah for the half circle skirt!  (My personal barometer for being myself again.)  Anyhow, following fun with the measuring tape and a cut out that matched my pictures, all was on track for a lovely project.   However, it turns out that taking ones measurements whilst still dealing with the after effects of very strong pain medication, and being sat upon by a cat, and consequently not actually getting off the couch lead to inaccuracy.  (go figure)  Happily, all of mine were too big, so I was able to trim things down a bit and used the excess to finish the seams nicely.   I feel this is an important lesson - if you can't drive a car, leave the scissors alone.  (random side note:  I knew not to trust me, and we hid them in the car before surgery, just in case I got "creative" )

 Anyhow, I'm very happy with the final result - except the lack of pockets, but I'm thinking about that one.

I ended up making a waistband with a strip of fabric the length of the waist and about three inches high - makes it looks a bit more finished.  

For the hem, I really didn't want a visible seam, so I used hem tape and hand stitched it to the body of the skirt with alternating colors of thread to match the pattern on the right side.  The result is nearly invisible :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Drafting your own half circle skirt pattern. Part Two

El scruffinator asked for a bit more on the whole half-circle skirt thing, so, here we go...

How much fabric do I need?

Well, this depends - since you are drafting your own pattern its really up to you (helpful, no?)  But the real answer is 2*r2 , i.e. the length of the total distance from the bottom of the skirt to the center of rotation.  (If you are confused, please read my previous post)  So, working off of my measurements from the other day, I'd need 79 inches, or a little less than 2 and a quarter yards.    But, as I say, it depends on your measurements, if you make something smaller, you'll need less.  If you choose to do something longer and use the whole 45 inches of your standard bolt width for your length, well....
However, odds are you won't, and odds are I'm taller than you, so I think its safe to say 2 and a quarter for a half circle and four and a half for the full humdinger.  Mine will hit the web in a bit - I still need to do crazy things like wash the fabric and finish a project for a friend of mine that's on a bit of a deadline, before I can actually make it, but soon.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Drafting your own half circle skirt pattern. (Math is your friend)

My Greetings!  No new sewing for a bit, but I've been planning things out for when I'm back to normal.   A few days ago I came upon Vivat-Veritas' half circle skirt pattern (from the Grosgrain free pattern month).   It was lovely, very simple, and solved a problem I've been having about a lovely but tricky print.

I didn't want to spoil it with shaping seams, nor do I find gathered skirts to be a flattering look for my body, so its been sitting in my stash for well over a year, just hanging out and hoping for inspiration.

Well! a half circle would mean only one seam, at the center back - and everything would be pre-alligned by the fold, so, perfect!   Now, I know I linked to a downloadable pattern at the top, but if you are like me and prefer geometry to endless taping, here's the math I worked out for mine.  (I promise you, this is easy.  It looks wordy, but that's only because I am defining all my terms.  The short version is: R1 = (AL*4)/2pi, where AL is half your waist measurement plus a seam allowance.  SL is the desired skirt length, also plus a seam allowance, and R2 = R1 +SL)

1) Measure your waist where you want the skirt to sit (natural or otherwise) and add one inch for seam allowances.  We will call this value WL (waist length) in my case this value is 31 inches.

2) Divide WL by 2, for the quarter arc length in the image above.   (Why divide by two for a quarter arc?   We are making only a half circle skirt, so that one quarter of the full circle will go around half your waist.   Should you choose to expand on the pattern and make a full circle skirt, then you would divide by 4.)  For me, this is 15.5" and we will call it AL (arc length).

3)  We now need to calculate the radius of this arc from the center of rotation (i.e. the fold at the top of the fabric)  which means its time for comparing the circumference of a circle to its radius.   The radius is C/(2*pi) where the circumference is four times the arc length we're using (remember, half circle skirt vs full circle math)  so, to define our terms both algebraically and with my measurements, C = 4*AL = 62 inches.  2*pi = 6.28, which means the radius R1 = 62/6.28, or 9.8 inches.   The fabric inside this circle is excess.

4) Now decide how long you want your skirt to be - this is the length from wherever you picked as your waist point to where you want it to hit your leg.  This will depend partially on personal preference and partially on the width of your fabric - your skirt can be no longer than half the full width, due to the placement of the fold.   Now, personally, I like things a bit below my knee, and  from my chosen waist point, that is 30 inches, which is defined as SL (skirt length) in the picture.  (Don't forget, SL must include your seam allowence

5) Add R1 and SL and you've got your total length from the center of rotation (i.e. top of fold) now known as R2. For me, R2 =  9.8 + 30, or 39.5 inches.   (For narrower fabric, try folding it the opposite of the way it was on the bolt, so you get the full woven width in one direction, and  the length you bought in the other, which will allow a nice long skirt.)

6)  Pin a measuring tape in place at the top of the fold and mark every inch or so at lengths R1 and R2 as you rotate it from one side of the fabric to the other.   (Take a look at the red arcs in the picture - see how the smaller one lines up with R1 and the larger one lines up with R2?   You can also use bits of string that are the right length, tie chalk on the end, pull it tight and draw.)

7)  THAT IS IT for the math.  Cut it out, pop in the zipper of your choice, hem it, bind the waist-band, and you are done!

EXTRA)  Adding a more standard waistband can be achieved either with a short rectangle the length of your waist (very narrow, not much more than a binding, and best done on the bias)  or for something wider, measure the height you want it to go up your torso, the change in width between that point and your waist point and draft the band based on the arc of the original skirt.  You will not end up with full half-circle pieces, more like rounded trapezoids, but you get the general idea.   (If not, feel free to bug me and I will draw more pictures.  But I am sleepy and don't really feel like it just now.)

Instructions on how much fabric you will need here.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Obi / Tentacle Sleeved Jacket

 Remember about forever ago when I was working on this?  Finished!  (well, 98%, I still need to add clasps, but they are on the inside and this is how it will look.)    The pattern of the midrift keeps reminding me of an Obi, and with the tentacle pattern, this is turning out to be a rather Japanese-y jacket - most odd considering what I had originally planned - but I am very happy with it- all the more so because it will be ready the moment it is warm enough to wear outside.  (I've been prancing about at home - Its always a measure of success when garments make me dance.)

The green border took forever -- it was machine sewn to the right side, then folded over and hand stitched to the wrong - and besides there being many many yards to cover, a certain fuzzy gentleman decided to help the process along.

lace shirt
brocade jacket

This particular project has gotten me thinking -- at what point does the design become my own?  The base of the pattern pieces were from a dress by Tracy Reece for Vogue - however, I have modified all of them, added sections of my own and altogether altered everything over the course of several projects.  However, the core of the design - the building blocks are all hers.   My usual response when asked about something like this is that it is vaguely based on a pattern.   Anyhow, I found it interesting - at what point does it become my design.  Anyone out there have thoughts on the subject?

Also, and in other news, I may be going dark for a few weeks - you may recall a while ago I was going on about having waaay to much mucus - anyhow, I'm having surgery later this week, so depending on which one of the endless number of people who have been giving me advice is correct, I will either be unable to do anything, or  bounce back really fast and be crazy productive from all the meds.  In which case, tons of stuff!  I'm hoping for option number two.  Think happy thoughts!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012: A Plan Of Action

I'm working on the assumption that the whole Mayan calendar thing doesn't come true. Should I be wrong, feel free to come bug me about the commitments I made on my sewing blog.

The goal for this year -- button holes.  Not the bound variety, or fancy loops, or any of that.  I'm talking garden variety the sewing machine does the work and you clip out the center.  I have NEVER gotten one to work.  My machine mocks me when I try and generally stymies any and all who have told me I was being ridiculous and have sat down to try it. (No I don't want help.  I will vanquish this beast myself. )   To that end, I shall make a button down shirt.  It will occur whenever I get around to it, be made of whatever catches my fancy and will be the epitome of glory.    All who see it shall be overcome and need to lie down for a little while lest they faint.

Oh, and I'll finish some of the projects I've got going.  I think I have 5 going concurrently, not counting UFOs from a while ago -- so -- yay! finishing!  So yeah... actual sewing.  Totally going to post on that soon.   Until then, here is a hippo.

the hippo greats you and hopes you survive the Mayan apocalypse
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