Sunday, December 28, 2008

Gingerbread 2008

Making gingerbread houses is our favorite thing about Christmas.

This year, Darin was inspired by Sanford and Son.

My theme was Illuminati Dinosaur Bloodbath

Monday, December 22, 2008

Latest Painting

Here is my latest painting. It's for my friend Quentin. It's not quite this yellow, but it is pretty close colorwise. (We are low on natural light in my studio right now.)

Oil on canvas, 12/2008.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Nicest Thing I Ever Made

I have a new skirt! It is yet another version of the Hot Patterns Plain and Simple A-line skirt.

The fabric is a olive wool blend tweed from Fabric Mart. I love love love it. I omitted the waistband and sewed the lining directly to the top of the skirt (right sides together), added some twill tape in the seam allowance to prevent stretching, flipped the lining to the inside and then topstitched through both layers. I handpicked the zipper and attached the bottom of the lining to the skirt with french tacks. I also hand sewed the hem down. It fits great and I feel like I made something of real quality.

What's not so great about this skirt?

I am not so happy with the serged edges. They actually look fine, but I would like to take the quality up a notch. I'll need to add some length to the skirt next time so I have enough to turn over the edges on the hem.

Things I learned:
  • Wool is great! There were some wrinkles in the waist after I did the topstitching, but I steamed the hell out of them and they went away.
  • By taking the waistband out, I realized the skirt was still too big in spots. I took it in about an inch-and-a-half at the waist and a quarter inch at each side and it fit much better.
  • I am much better at putting zippers in by hand. It's not too much trouble and it looks way better than when I use my machine.
I also made Io a scarf for Christmas. Just a quick drop stitch pattern.

I am currently working on a muslin for the Hot Patterns Deco Vibe Delicious Dress. It it works out, I am going to make a black silk version for New Years eve.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Read it!

So I am reading this book called The Nine by Jefferey Toobin about the Supreme Court. It totally rocks. I suggest that you put down your computer and go to the nearest bookstore/library and indulge. I never knew that Clarence Thomas was both a serious nut job and the friendliest of the justices. Oh, the things you can learn.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Knit Blocking for Folks Who Sew

I like to knit. I go through periods where I like it more than others, but in general, I always have something on the needles. I especially like to make sweaters. Scarves and hats are okay, but I really enjoy the thrill of a new cardigan, even when making something for Io.

Here is the newest masterpiece (not only does my camera hate taking pictures of knits pinned to a plastic-covered grid, but it totally hates this color):

I enjoy the blocking process, because that is what turns the wonky, wadded up thing that I just knit into a beautiful, fine fitting sweater. (This particular sweater is Loppem by Norah Gaughan; more info when it is finished blocking.) Sweaters that are knit in pieces are blocked in pieces and then assembled into the sweater shape. Knit-in-one-piece sweaters are blocked before I weave in all the ends. Here's how I work my magic:

  1. Finish knitting all the pieces of a sweater. (Actually, if the sweater is really big, I knit and block the body, and then knit and block the sleeves.)
  2. Get the pieces damp. I do this one of two ways: 1. Roll the pieces up in a wet towel (or towels) that have been through the washer and let set over night. (I coordinate doing my laundry with this one.) (This tip is courtesy of Bonne Marie Burns.) 2. Fill a large bowl with lukewarm water, put the pieces in to get completely wet, and then throw them in the washer on the spin cycle for a few minutes to get all the water out. (I only do this when the piece is going to need a lot of blocking help. It is also how I wash my knits, with the addition of a little Eucalan.)
  3. Because I sew, I have one of those big one inch-gridded cardboard thingies than many of us lay on the floor and cut our patterns on. (See picture above.) I also have large plastic sheets lying around because that is just the kind of person I am. I lay the plastic over the cardboard and pin the knits to the cardboard using the grid to help me lay the pieces out in the proper dimensions. It's not fancy, but it always works and I didn't have to buy anything new to do it.
  4. Let the pieces sit until dry and then sew together (If applicable,) weave in ends, and do whatever finishing needs to be done. Ta da. The End.
In sewing news, I was very lazy while Io was down from college for Thanksgiving, so I have nothing to show. I am working on a new tweed A-Line skirt (what else?) and I have some new patterns and fabrics that will be making their way to this blog shortly.