Archive | May 2017

Jeans, More Jeans, and a Beach Cover-Up: More Sewing Projects

After I finally, at very long last, finished my skirt project, I was kind of on a roll and tackled a few other jobs.

First I patched a pair of jeans. See, sometimes you want old jeans, right? But my jeans wear out at the inside thigh, which makes them go instantly from “presentable” to “might expose flesh” overnight. So if I want to have serviceable old jeans, I have to patch this area.

I have iron-on patches, but they’re kind of stiff. Instead, I like to cut up an even older pair of jeans and use that. Big Brother had these wide-legged 4T jeans that passed the point of repairability, so I used those. I cut a piece using pinking shears and sewed it down, using a zigzag stitch over the most vulnerable area. Before I owned pinking shears, I used a zigzag stitch to attach the patches, which is serviceable but makes a more noticeable repair (as the stitches can more easily be seen from the outside than a straight stitch.) You can really only see it from the outside at all because I accidentally caught a tiny bit of fabric as I was sewing.

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Over time, the double hem creates a line on the outside of the jeans. Blech.

Next, I had a pair to hem. Now, I know cuffing jeans is in fashion this year, but I’m so short that I would have way too bulky a cuff unless I hem (being as I could not find Short in my size). I consider the ideal leg width for skinny jeans to be “exactly as wide as my sewing machine in free-arm mode.”

I tried a new method. In the past, I have simply cut some off and double-hemmed using dark blue thread, but this is a pain and I don’t like the way it look as it wears.

So instead I used this tutorial for preserving the original hem. I hear that the flap of fabric created on the inside can be annoying, so I chose to stitch it down across the front and not just at the sides. These stitches are technically visible from the outside, but you can’t really see them.

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Inside view. I did the zigzag BEFORE cutting off the excess. My machine does not like to sew too close to the edge of the fabric.

I like the way it looks… but I accidentally left them too long, so I still have to cuff them. Oops!

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Real quick, I mended the side of an old bath towel. It is otherwise perfectly serviceable, and you can’t have too many bath towels. I cut off the frayed strings. Part of the edge was still in place, so I zigzagged stitched it back down. This being an old bath towel, I didn’t worry about buying special matching thread!

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For my piece de resistance, I had an impulse to turn an old jersey sheet into a bathing suit cover-up. This is more a cutting project than a sewing one. I used this tutorial, which claims to be twenty-minute project. It took me a couple of hours. I kept having to cut and cut and cut more. Then of course I probably cut too much. The only sewing was attaching the braided straps. I was afraid that they would not fit under my presser foot, but it worked just fine. I made a little box to hold each strap in place.

After I sewed these on, I cut down the surrounding fabric.

I think it kind of looks like I made it from a sheet. But it will serve for getting the kids to and from the pool at our apartment complex, at least!

Now I have put away my sewing machine for a while with firm intentions to work on my scrapbook, although I did promise Big Brother a new apron soon.

What are you making lately? How’s it coming out?

Well, That Got Out of Hand: I Made a Skirt Without a Pattern

This post contains affiliate links for research purposes. I got my books from the library.

If you’ve been following along, you know that first I made skirts from library book patterns (here’s the first and the second). Then I tried making a gathered rectangular skirt, which does not require a pattern. The waistband came out pretty well, but the result was unflattering.

Then I took it into my head to learn pattern drafting.

Friends, I am not sure what I was thinking. Man, that was hard.

First, I made a straight skirt sloper just from taking my measurements and drawing things on freezer paper. I was very pleased with myself. Then I slashed and spread the pattern and raised the waistband to make a high-waist flared skirt sloper. So far, so good. Although it took me a couple of tries to get the fit right, so by this point I had been fiddling with the project for some weeks.

The flared, high-waisted sloper. Down to 1 dart per side because the other is where I slashed and spread. You must forgive me for not modelling i.

Now I was ready to move on to the actual sewing. The book I was using, Skirt-a-Day Sewing*, gives very specific directions for making specific designs rather than expecting the reader to do so. To make the pattern for the design I chose, there was yet more slashing and spreading involved to turn the darts into pleats.

*I think it’s important to note that this refers to having a different skirt for every day of the month, NOT the length of time they take to make!

A major weakness of the book is that it does not give instructions with this pattern for truing the waistline or the hem after all that slashing and spreading. Not sure it came out right.

Instead of a zipper, this skirt uses button-down tabs. When you unbutton, you can open the tabs and step in and out. There’s also a hidden snap holding the tab in place. It only took me 8 tries to make a passable four-step buttonhole.

The big knot is where the bobbin thread ran out. It goes faster than I expect.

I was worried about lining up the button and buttonhole and the two parts of the snap, but this seemed at least moderately forgiving. I did not have trouble. And I got to use the sew-in snaps that my grandmother gave me circa ten years ago (when my mom gave me a sewing machine for Christmas and grandma gave me a stocked sewing basket) and have not yet had a use for. Rather satisfying.

As always, there were some hiccups. For one thing, my machine is getting wonky. Sometimes it makes a giant knot instead of sewing. Oiling it approximately every 28 minutes helps, but is tedious. When it happens in an important place, like the right side of the hem (I am lazy and always hem with  straight stitch), I pick it out and start over. When it happens in an inconspicuous place, I pretend I don’t notice.

Reverse side of the front tab where the machine went wonky. Why is it white on the back? I ran out of fabric. Oops.

Another hiccup was my decision to add pockets. All skirts and dresses should have pockets, no? I traced a pocket shape from another book, Love at First Stitch: Demystifying Dressmaking. But those pockets were designed for  a rectangular skirt, and this has curved side seams. They hung weird at first. But a little ironing seemed to put them right.

Honestly, I’m still not sure about the skirt. I’m in love with the basic premise of a full skirt made of polka dots. Very 50s-ish and the silhouette is flattering. But possibly I will find the pleats waaaay too fiddly and always be adjusting them. The ones in the back I actually sewed down because I found that I did not need to open them to get the skirt on, but I think I made them too tight. I might need to move the front buttons and re-press the pleats closer to the middle.

Sorry for bad photo. The children were not feeling cooperative this morning.

My next two sewing projects are no-pattern easy things: Hemming jeans and making an awesome new boy apron for Big Brother. But I bow to conventional wisdom. The next time I make something for myself, I will take the easy road and buy a clearance pattern, even though I will lose the bragging rights. (“Thanks! I made it! From a library book!”) I think I need more time to develop my skills without the pressure of pattern drafting.

What are you making lately? How’s it coming out?

April 2017 Spending: Ouch

Well, I had some nasty surprises in April. Here’s how it breaks down.

Income

Library take-home pay: $1462.92 (Why so low? I upped my HSA contributions, and the boys’ spring break hurt my earnings)

Costco return: $10.76

Substitute teaching take-home pay: $44.06

Interest: $5.95

Support: $743

Total Income: $2266.69

Expenses

Rent plus included utilities: $1085.31

Home supplies: $10

Laundry: $40

Speeding ticket: $305 (So frustrated with self! I was driving an unfamiliar road and didn’t see the school zone sign)

XCel: $19.31

Ting: $24.54

Comcast: $9.95

Groceries: $305.91

Wine: $12.94

Auto maintenance: $153.31 (When I went to have my summer tires put back on, one of them turned out to be broken and had to be replaced. It was new enough they said I could just do the one.)

Gas: $44.91

Parking (reimbursable): $11

Kids, misc. (allowance, field trips, ice cream): $27.62

Kids, clothes and shoes: $82.10 (2 pairs new sneakers, 1 pair Batman PJs with cape)

Restaurants: $101.70 (Yowza! My boyfriend had a birthday and a cousin visited from out of town in the same month.)

Coffee shops and snacks: $22.88 (I promise there were a lot of times I wanted it and didn’t get it.)

Tickets to special Viking exhibit at museum: $20.85

Work clothes and shoes for me: $271.40 (Because if I want to be taken seriously, probably should not wear hiking shoes to work, right?)

Some things from Target: $20.12

Cat litter: $14

Total Expenses: $2577.83

Income minus expenses: -$311.14

Analysis

Eh, I can live with it. By now, I’ve gotten used to my low-income, low-expenses balancing act tipping sometimes into the black and sometimes the red. It’s more often black, so I’ll live. I had enough money to cover the shortage without dipping into my emergency fund. And I still have money set aside for various projects (like an upcoming trip and taking the cat to the vet).

Possibly, however, I sobbed when I got the speeding ticket. There is a definite mismatch between how long it takes me to save $305 and how long it took me to lose it! At least I had the money. I blew my nose, mailed a check, and lived to fight another day.