Thursday, February 23, 2012

Singapore: Spotlight

I'm in Singapore for a few days, and during a moment of pleasantness from one of the worst travel companions ever (my 5 year old), I was able to pop into Spotlight to check out the fabrics.  Lots of pretty things...pretty high price tags too.  I was not tempted to part with any of my money for fabric, but did pick up a magnetic seam guide for 5 S$.  It's official, I'm spoiled.  Lots of the pretty fabrics I saw were...can you guess?  Yup...made in India!  Some of them were in the 15 S$ a meter range and I know I have seen them in India for about $2.50 or less.

I may take a trip to Malin Textiles to check out the Japanese cottons, but if the selection at Spotlight was any indication...I will probably be too cheap to purchase any.  It will also depend on the aforementioned traveling companion to see if said trip will even take place.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Not on the Vintage Bandwagon

There seems to be a huge interest in vintage fashions these days.  I, however, don't get excited by it.  I feel like I'm in the minority.

Are the dresses the ladies on Mad Men really feminine?  Yes.  Do they look nice?  Yes.  Can I picture myself wearing something like that?  Is it my style?  Nope.  Would I spend my sewing time whipping up something Mad Men-esque?  Unlikely.

So I will remain true to myself.  If anyone else feels the way I do...give me a shout! I'd love to know that there's someone keeping me company on the Non-Vintage Bandwagon.  :)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Hanging Jewellery Organizer!

I have been trying to use accessories to add some flash to my wardrobe.  I love necklaces and have acquired quite a few since arriving India.  My problem now is storing them so that they don't become a tangled heap.  I started with everything in a drawer; that didn't last long.  Then I progressed to hanging necklaces on a hanger, and then in small bags on a hanger.  That method kept everything from getting tangled, but finding what I wanted was another story.  My sewing mojo has been in high gear lately, but I thought it would be a good time to take a break from clothing and switch to something more utilitarian.  Lightbulb moment! I could make a hanging jewellery organizer with zippered pockets and use up some of my dozens and dozens of 7" zippers.  I could even color coordinate the zippers with the necklaces that I will put into the pockets!  Giddiness ensues...

A few sketches later I was laying out my necklaces and zippers.  The next obvious question was "what fabric am I going to use?"  I wasn't about to go out looking for something new, but was going to use something in the stash.  My first idea was a brown suiting which is quite sturdy and wouldn't be flimsy holding up my accessories.  When I looked at the brown next to my colorful zippers...Boring. Blah. No.  What else? What else?  Ah Ha!  The butterfly print!!!  YES!!  It is home dec weight, white background with blue and orange butterflies!  Bingo!  It was heavy enough, pretty enough, and gosh darn it, I was going to use it!

So I traced my hanger onto tracing paper (called butter paper here in India for some unknown reason) and laid out my necklaces and zippers.

For this project I used:
1 yard of home decorating weight fabric
10 - 7" zippers in various colors
11" of 1" wide sew-on velcro
A tiny bit (about 6" x 12") of heavy iron on interfacing
A heavy duty hanger

Note: I used 1/2" seam allowances everywhere.  

I did some more measuring and then made the first cut.   I cut 2 strips of fabric ~9.5" wide by 29" long.  I figured that I could adjust the length as I was going.  

For the topmost piece, I cut a strip 2.5" wide.  I placed the zipper face down and sewed it on with a 1/2" seam.  Then I cut a 2nd piece 5" wide and sewed it to the other side of the same zipper.

Once the first zipper was attached, I attached the 2nd zipper to the bottom of the 5" piece.  Then sewed another 5" piece to the bottom of that zipper and so on and so on.  Like this:

I ironed everything flat and topstitched it down.  (Note: you can skip topstitching at this point because you will eventually topstitch to create separate pockets once the back is attached).  Because I topstitched at this point, I have 2 rows of stitching (I tried to overlap) visible above the zippers.  Not a big deal, but some people are pickier than me ;)

This is my 2 strips of fabric with all of the zippers sewn on:

To separate the 2 columns of zippers, I added a strip of navy blue poplin from the stash and sewed it to the edge of each column of zippers:

One side done

Both sides done
I realized afterwards that this blue piece was a little too wide for my liking so I took a big tuck down the entire length to reduce its finished width to about half of what it was.  I didn't want the finished size to be much wider than the hanger, otherwise it would hit the back of my closet wall and always hang crooked.  The finished size of this blue strip is 1.5".

Then I attached the front piece to the back piece.  I just laid everything down right sides together and sewed around 3 sides leaving the top open.
Laid out
The next step was to create separate pouches; this meant topsitching through all layers: down the center of the navy blue center strip, and above each zipper starting with the second ones down:

Ok, so now I had 10 separate pouches and needed a way to attach the organizer to my hanger.  I measured my hanger and decided on 12" for a finished size for the attachment piece:
I folded in the top edges of the organizer:
Then pinned the loop side of my velcro to the back of the organizer and stitched it to the back only.
I cut a piece of fabric about 13" long by 6" wide, and applied heavy fusible interfacing to it to give it even more stiffness.  I folded over the sides and stitched them down.  Then I folded down the top edge and sewed on the hook side of my velcro.

Then I sandwiched this hanger piece between the front and back of the organizer and sewed all the way across the top, closing it up and catching the hanger piece.  Just for fun, I did one more line of stitching across the top just to try out the "Christmas Tree" stitch on my machine (which I have never used).  

Loop the hanger piece over the hanger and press the velcro together.

Ta DA!


The top 2 zippers aren't perfectly lined up but...who cares?  :)

You will notice in the above photo that there are 2 little blue tabs hanging off the bottom.  Well...Once I was finished sewing and happy with the end product, I loaded up my necklaces and went to hang it up.  Ummm...serious mental lapse....All of the closets in my house are half-height.  I can't hang anything long (including my jewellery organizer).  All long items are hanging up on the shower rod in the extra bathroom.  Arrgh!  So I added little loops of bias tape to the bottom of my organizer so that I could fold it up and hook the loops over the hooks on the ends of my hanger.  So silly.  Oh well, I won't be in this house forever!  :)


Sunday, February 5, 2012

McCalls 3830: Straight Skirt TNT pattern Times 3!

This is a long overdue post and let's just cut to the chase and say...I love this skirt!  I don't have a huge stash of patterns and the nearest shop that sells them must be several countries away.  So when I've got a winner...I'm going to make it over and over again!

This skirt is easy-peasy and perfect!  I cut a straight 18 and added just the tiniest amount to the thigh area, maybe 1/4".    I added about 2" length to View C, and since I'm short, it was hemmed right at the knee.
Worn with Simplicity 2594 top

Version 2:  Same same same.  Love love love.  I bought this fabric on my huge stock up trip to Hancock Fabrics in Richmond, VA this past summer.  Unfortunately I felt it was a little see-through and it needed to be lined.

Version 3: Stretch Denim
The reason I purchased this pattern in the first place was due to this version by Amber at Confessions of the Pink Obsessed .  So during my aforementioned "huge fabric stock up trip" this summer, I made sure I got some stretch denim.  This is the skirt that I wear the most.  Period.

Now we're into February and my New Year's Resolution is going well.  My Indian version of the South Beach Diet has me down 6.5kg (14lbs) since Christmas and all 3 of these skirts are now a little roomy.  The good thing about a center back zipper is that it's easy to take in the side seams!  

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Simple Saree REBORN!

Back in October, I was out shopping for a Diwali saree for my maid and I wound up buying a few for myself as well.  Not to wear as sarees...but to cut up and USE!!  The first saree I did this to was turned into my "Think Pink" skirt, and the 2nd one has found a new life as a Simplicity 2638 Maxi dress.  

The saree was cobalt blue print with an odd geometric/floral/stripe section for the front pleats on the saree.  The blouse piece was a matching blue with a simple and more subtle wavy line print.  This is a terrible an atrocious job wrapping the saree, but it gives some idea of what it was meant to look like.

The first thing I did was cut the blouse piece off the end, and then I chopped out the funky printed "pleat section".  I had plenty of the less crazy print to cut out the dress.  I decided to use the blouse piece for the midriff section to highlight the waist of the dress.  This was my initial trial to see how it'd look:

I started off great.  Flying along even.  I had some cobalt blue fabric on hand to use as the bodice lining, everything was good.  When cutting out the pattern I made the bodice slightly larger than a size 14, just in case.  Well, I shouldn't have.  The armholes gaped, the backed gaped.  Silly me, didn't check the fit before I sewed the bodice onto the midriff OR the midriff onto the skirt.  (I will file that info in the: "don't do that again" folder of my brain)  What a pain!  I didn't want to completely take the midriff off, so I unpicked in pieces and took the bodice in under the arms and along the center back.  Once I got that squared away, I had to take in the entire center back seam about 3/4" all the way down.  

Rather than struggling with an invisible zipper, I used a center lapped regular zipper and I think it worked well.  The color of the zipper was perfect so if it does peek out here and there, it's no big deal.  I wound up hand stitching the bodice opening above the zipper because due to my post-assembly alterations it was impossible to turn in inside out to sew normally.

I am very pleased with the end result:

A peek at the back:

At first I was planning on not hemming the dress and keeping the selvage edge from the bottom edge of the saree.  Eventually I decided to NOT be lazy and to NOT introduce another pattern into the dress, and therefore NOT make people say "huh?" when they look at my hem.

Another big bonus was that I found cobalt blue my size...on sale for 499INR = $10 US!  Yay me!!

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