Completed: A random assortment of items

The one thing the items I made yesterday have in common is that I really needed to get them finished but I never started them because I wanted to make other things first. The problem was the other things didn’t get made either because I felt I had to make these items first. It was a rather depressing vicious circle but yesterday I finally decided to get a grip and just get it over and done with. The stupid thing is I enjoy making these items so it really is the lure of the even shinier project that can sometimes keep me from being productive.

First, I made this fabric pouch. Intended for someone I swapped some handmade goodies with. I received my package weeks ago and still needed to get my items shipped. Bit of a problem if they aren’t actually finished… I hope it was worth the wait. The dimensions at the base are 23.5 x 10.5 x 18 cm (l x w x h). I chose these fabrics because these colours should be her favourites. The outside fabric is “Journeys dot dot dash” by Kathy Davis for Free Spirit. I bought it in Stockholm two years ago when I was there for a conference. I really like this quite simple design.

fabric pouchOn the inside I made a zipper pocket and a patch pocket that is divided into two. I hope it will be useful for storing craft supplies.

Pockets in pouch

Then some fabric postcards and a bookmark. Made the same way as described here. This fabric has a bit of a retro vibe that I think is fun and even though (or maybe even because?) it is a large scale print I think it works very well for postcards. It is “Wild Child Passionate Petunias” by Jane Sassaman for Free Spirit. I believe I also have it in a different colourway so perhaps I’ll make some postcards with that one as well.

fabric postcards

Lastly, a Growing up Sew Liberated envelope tee size 6-12 months for a baby boy born in April. This really is my go-to baby pattern. I kept it simple and used only one fabric (left-overs from the Comox Trunks) for the t-shirt but added some accents with contrasting thread for the coverstitching. This has the added benefit that I only have to thread my overlocker and coverstitch machine once instead of switching the right colour thread from one machine to the other several times during the construction. Because the sleeves on baby t-shirts are absolutely tiny I usually sew the hem first before attaching the sleeve instead of sewing it in the round. I did have difficulty matching it up when the sleeve seam was sewn. Apart from that I think the t-shirt turned out really good.

envelope tee

All in all, I had a productive day. Getting these items finished also helps to clear my mind because I can cross some items of my crowded mental to do list. Now it’s time to tick some non-sewing related items from that list…

Coverstitching details

UFO Busting: Alabama Chanin style cardigan

131006_cardigan3I am in love with this cardigan, it is absolutely perfect in all of its imperfections. It is also completely out of my comfort zone. Who would have thought that I was going to wear an embroidered cardigan and love it? Not me, that’s for sure. I am a no-nonsense girl, my wardrobe consists for more than 90% of solids and typically lacks frilly details. So, how did I end-up creating an all-over embroidered garment?

It all started when Craftsy launched their Hand Embellishing Knit Fabric course that is taught by Natalie Chanin from Alabama Chanin. Alabama Chanin sells completely hand-made embellished garments made from 100% organic cotton jersey. Their garments are very expensive, which is totally understandable once you realize how much work is put into creating each item. For those of us that cannot afford to spend several thousand dollars on a single piece of clothing they sell books and supplies that help you to create them yourself. I became fascinated by this process so I signed up for the Craftsy course and also bought the Alabama Stitch book.

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Would the woman who made this pattern still recognize it?

I decided against using the coat pattern supplied with the Craftsy class (it’s huge and I don’t think I’d wear it) but instead made cardigan 17 from Knipmode June 2011, that I already made once before. I did make some adaptations though. The original pattern calls for some voile being sewn in at the hems and shoulder seams, I had already discarded this detail as too frilly in my previous version and left it out here as well. I added 1 inch to both sides at centre front tapering to nothing at the shoulder. I shortened the sleeve to ¾ length because I couldn’t fit a full sleeve out of my fabric, and I usually push up my sleeves anyway. I also rounded up some corners to make it easier to install the ribbing around the edges. For the closure I used a hook and eye instead of ties.

131006_cardigan1Alabama Chanin garments typically consist of two layers of cotton jersey. For embellished versions a stencil is used to paint shapes onto the fabric. This is then embroidered, (reverse) appliqued and/or beaded.

I used 2m white 100% organic cotton jersey and dyed it with procion MX 128 warm black that turned out more grey blue than black, but I love it anyway. The inside layer is a lighter shade than the outside layer because I used a more diluted dye bath for that piece of fabric. The stencilling was done with white paint and the bloomers stencil supplied with the Alabama Stitch book. For the backstitch embroidery around the painted shapes I decided to use all the different shades of green I had in my stash which is probably close to 30 different colours. I love the effect that this creates.  It also made the embroidery part more fun because I could make some design choices along the way. The ribbing was attached with the whipstitch.

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I’m sure some of you are wondering how long it took me to complete this project. I keep a sewing logbook in which I write down what I do each day to help me keep track. I started this cardigan on March 16 of this year and worked on it during 46 days. On some days I only embroidered one shape, but I think it is safe to assume that on average I probably worked at least 2-3 hours a day, so in total it took at least 100-150 hours to complete it, but that might still be a conservative estimate. Anyway, I don’t really care how much time it took, all I know is that I ended up with one pretty amazing and unique garment that is for sure going to be a wardrobe staple!

131006_detailsI am definitely going to continue on this handsewing journey. It was a very relaxing process, I kept the project in our living room and worked on it while watching television or listening to music. It was also really nice that I could take this project with me to work on it elsewhere because it didn’t require a sewing machine. Talking about comfort zones, I now also want to try my hand at beading, yes beading.

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I just had to add this picture because my boyfriend, who took the pictures, thought it was very funny, so this one is for him!

UFO busting: Messed up top morphs into sporty baby tee

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This used to be an UFO, now it is a baby top!

Several days ago this was a top destined to remain unfinished forever. Now it has morphed into a fabulous sporty baby tee! This was one of my drama UFOs. I must have started this black and orange jersey top (7d, Knipmode August 2010) late 2010 and it turned into an UFO at some point during the first six months of 2011. It remained untouched for at least 2 years because that is how long we live in our current home…

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This is what was left of the original top after I cut out the fabric for the baby tee.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the original top before cutting into it. The neckline was so messed up and screamed homemade in a bad way that I would never wear it. In fact, all of the problems that I had with this top involved the neckline. I made several stupid mistakes during the construction and had to unpick so often that it caused multiple holes in the fabric because the stretch stitch that I used was a complete nightmare to unpick (nowadays I use a simple zigzag stitch when sewing with knits which truly makes a world of difference). On top of that, the fabric got eaten by my sewing machine several times creating even more damage (wish I’d known about holding the thread ends when you start a seam, would have saved me tons of frustration). I also realize now that I used completely the wrong type of interfacing to reinforce it.

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The upper left picture shows some of the hideous topstitching. The other two pictures show the inside of the neckband. You can see how much thread issues I had. The fabric also somehow ended up twisted in several locations.

Could I have fixed this top to get it up to my current standard? I didn’t have any fabric left to redo the neckline. Buying more fabric also wasn’t an option because the solid knits from Hilco have changed slightly since 2010 (not just the colour but also the feel of the fabric) so I would have had to redo the entire top to make sure it looked good. And well, making a whole new top wasn’t really going to solve this UFO situation that I had going on with the original top so no, I couldn’t fix this top.

I couldn’t just throw this project in the bin though. The fabric is a really nice and soft viscose and lycra blend that didn’t come cheap. Enter my decision to get rid of all my UFOs. I realized that it would be totally all right to turn anything that I no longer want into something else! So, what would be the best way to turn this now unwanted top into something desirable?

The original top was made up of quite small pieces of fabric which made it difficult to turn it into another garment for myself. A baby top, however, is much smaller and this fabric is absolutely lovely for babies because it feels so nice on the skin.

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I absolutely love the colourblocking on the front of the t-shirt.

I decided to make the envelope tee size 6-12 months from Meg McElwee’s book “Growing up Sew Liberated”. I love this pattern and have already made it several times. It is a simple pattern but easy to customize and I think it makes a great gift.

In order to fit the front and back pieces out of the UFO fabric pieces I had to cut up the pattern. This gave me the opportunity to create a colour blocking effect (actually very similar to what I had planned in the original top). This is very much my style and I think it gives the t-shirt a sporty appearance. In the picture below you can see how I adapted the pattern to achieve this look.

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Schematic representation of the adaptations that I made to the front and back pattern pieces of the envelope tee size 6-12 months from “Growing up Sew Liberated”.

I consider this UFO properly busted because I ended up with a great looking baby top that makes me smile by only looking at it, while the old top made me cringe. It also made me realize that my sewing skills have really improved since 2010. I don’t think this top would have given me so much trouble had I tried to make it now.

Have you ever hacked up a messed up project to make something else with the fabric pieces?