Friday, October 30, 2015

Trying something new

Today I've got TWO projects from my fall sewing list to share with you! How's that for productive? :)

First up, the Sierra bra by Madalynne. It's available as a free download - there are no instructions, but she's got a great sew-along up on her blog. 

Mine isn't a lacy pretty one like she makes, but there are a few reasons for that. A) The pattern is intended for ladies who are much smaller than I am (in band width and cup size). I didn't want the hassle of fiddling with lace for something that was never going to fit. B) I wanted a cute but comfy bra for lounging around in. I bought this fabric last year with my allowance for one of the Stashbusting Sewalong challenges. And C) ...I swear I had something for this. :-/

For a first bra, this isn't too shabby. I added some length in the back (4", maybe? I need to transfer the changes to the pattern), but didn't think to add length on the parts that wrap around to the back. The fit is okay overall but the cups are a bit too small. I'm debating whether I want to try to making them bigger, or whether I should move on to another (soft) bra pattern (I'm not quite ready to try anything with underwires yet). 

[Yep, I took these outside. We've had so little sunlight this week that it was a struggle, and there was no way I was going to get a decent picture inside. :-/]

I had about 1 2/3 yards of this fabric (I probably ordered 2 and it shrank?), so with the rest, I traced off the skirt of a RTW dress and made a simple a-line skirt. 

I definitely had fun walking around at the corn maze with my friends, but even with a slip, this fabric is pretty clingy. I'd love any tips for making it less so. But at least I can cross off items 3 and 8, woohoo!

What are your favorite fall activities?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Notes from Istanbul

So remember my long list of fall sewing/knitting/crafting plans from last week? Welp, I just realized that I didn't *actually* follow the rules to enter the contest, so...if anyone knows of any other contests I could enter to keep my motivation up, I'd appreciate you sending them my way! That being said, all of the things on my list *are* things that I still want, and I've finished several of them already, so...let's hope that motivation continues!

Before I get into showing off those projects, though, I wanted to share with you a few pictures from my recent trip to Istanbul (all fabric-related, of course). 

Before I went, I (obviously) looked up what kind of good fabric shopping there was (that's one of my first priorities when planning a new trip these days). The Selfish Seamstress, Dibulous, and Clio and Phineas all indicated that there were some places to be found in the Grand Bazaar, as well as on one magical little road between the Spice Market and the Grand Bazaar. I decided to look for the latter first, so my friend and I started wandering along the cramped, busy streets of Istanbul. When I found this guy, I knew we were going in the right direction:

I stumbled upon this great store with a beautiful purple floral print that I got for about $5/yard. I'm planning to make a spring dress with it, I think. I'd also heard about the great silks that can be found in the city, so on our last day there, I went hunting for it in the Grand Bazaar. This proved to be kind of difficult, because A) that place is HUGE (seriously, I didn't quite realize how big it was, and probably still don't, but it's SO easy to get lost in there), and B) even the people who work there, who know almost everything about what there is to find, looked at me blankly when I asked for the fabric section. Thankfully, we eventually found it!

The first place we went was nice, but a little more than I wanted to spend (and you can almost ALWAYS find a better bargain at another shop in the bazaar). We eventually stumbled on a good one willing to deal. Though they didn't quite have all of the choices that the other places had, I found a blue ikat and knew it would make a great robe. Unfortunately, with very narrow (15" wide?) fabric, I had to buy 5 meters of it at about $15/meter, but...once it's made, it'll be a really great, long-lasting souvenir of my trip! As Selfish describes it, it's more of a twill weight than a chiffon, so it should be a great weight for a spring/early summer robe in which I can luxuriously lounge around the house. :)

I also couldn't resist going back to the first fabric shop to get some more great deals on our last day there. I ended up adding the fabric on the top, and the blue colorway of the purple fabric that I originally fell in love with (more florals, of course. I am seriously in love with those two prints). 

I feel like this is a great time to tell one of my favorite "Istanbul hospitality" stories. As described above, we basically stumbled around the shopping district of the city on the first day and happened to find this shop in the "fabric" section. I had no idea how to get back, so I showed a random shopkeeper the picture of me and the fabric statue, hoping that would at least get me in the right direction. He didn't know, so he asked several passers-by. He eventually found an elderly man pushing a heavy cart who knew where it was, so gave directions, which the shopkeeper interpreted for us. We started on our way and, about halfway lost. As we were standing there scratching our heads, the elderly man with the cart happened to be on his return trip, saw that we were lost, and exasperatedly (but good-natured-ly!) shook his head and enthusiastically gestured in the right direction. We didn't end up finding the statue again, but did walk right to the fabric store I wanted! Phew, that got kind of long-winded, but we thought it was one of the most adorable things we'd seen, so I had to share. :)

I wish I'd had a bit more time to explore the fabric and notions in Istanbul, but I'm really happy with the souvenirs I did get. What's your favorite fabric-shopping experience been?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

My long-awaited return (and some Fall goals)

Hmmm, maybe it's only been long-awaited by me. :-/ Sorry for the unintended hiatus. I don't really have a good excuse, either - there's just been a general lack of motivation (mostly lacking the motivation to take decent pictures, but more generally as well). I'm always on the fence about whether I should be kind to myself and not try to force things that I'm really not feeling, or whether forcing myself through things will be better for me in the end. Do you ever struggle with that problem? How do you approach it?

Despite said lack of motivation, I do have a backlog of projects to blog, and some WIPs I'm hoping to finish sometime soon. I'm also currently in the midst of planning (slash over-planning...slash achieving?) my fall sewing list (more on that below), but before it gets too late in the year, I wanted to share one last summer make.

This dress was definitely a labor of love. I picked up that great skirt fabric in Puerto Rico last year (my only sewing souvenir!), but only got 1.5 yards. At first I was intending to make a simple circle skirt to really show off the print, but then started thinking about the fact that dresses are so much easier to wear in some ways (hello, instant outfit!), so I went for the whole shebang. 

For the bodice, I used the same lace I used for this dress (which I sadly have only worn once. I feel like the proportions are off on me? And I definitely need to fix the back.) I carefully basted the lining to each piece of lace, determined not to repeat some of the mistakes I made with the last lace dress. I used some random ribbon for the straps, since the lace+underlining would've made straps a bit difficult to turn. It's hard to tell in this picture, but I used double-fold bias binding around the top edge. 

You can see some wrinkling in the back, which is a common problem I have when working with lace. The bodice is my tried and true Simplicity 4070, which fits me well in general. I guess I'll just have to keep working at it. 

Sadly, I've also only worn this dress once. In part because I finished it just before the cold weather hit, but part of it is also that I'm terrified of spilling something on it. But clothes are meant to be worn, right? I'm sure I'll be itching to pull it back out next spring. 

In other news, I have to thank one of the lovely ladies in the Facebook stashbusting group who told me about this Fall Finish-Along. I hope that having some of these lovely prizes to motivate me will help me get through my rapidly growing Fall sewing(/knitting/cross stitch) list.

Sewing plans:
1. Christmas dress. This fabric immediately caught my eye in the store, but I started second-guessing myself. However, the friend I was shopping with quickly talked me into it, and now I can't get the idea of a beautiful vintage-inspired emerald dress for our fancy work Christmas party out of my head. I think I'll use the bodice of B5748 with a sleeker skirt, though this is subject to change.

[This is a much deeper emerald in real life.]

2. Self-drafted fall cape along these lines:

The cape and lining have been cut out - now to finish it properly!

3. Sierra bra #1. I plan to try this first in some jersey fabric in the stash, to see if it'll even work for my size (it's intended for sizes smaller than mine, so we'll see). 

4. Sierra bra #2 in pretty lace (assuming the first one works out). 

5. Self-drafted white pleated skirt (this one's been cut out and basted already, yay!):

 6. Wrap top (note: this one's been made, but doesn't work for me. I'll have to figure out how to fix it to complete this item):

7. Denim A-line skirt. I'm thinking something like this, though may use a simpler self-drafted skirt. 

8. Self-drafted knit skater skirt using one of these Girl Charlee fabrics:

9. Another skater skirt, assuming the first goes well.

9. Sparkly A-line skirt:

  10. Cocoon cardigan:

11. Wrap top from men's button-down:

12. Tulle skirt:

13. Coat with emerald green wool (to be honest, this'll probably have to be rolled into next year, but a girl can dream!)

Some of these makes look pretty summery, but I'm all about the layering and can see myself getting a lot of winter use out of them.  

14. Game of Thrones quilt (like my Walking Dead one, but...with GoT). All of the fabrics are bought, and many of the designs are done. You can see them on my Instagram.


1. Cocoon cardigan (I figure I'll either sew OR knit one - probably can't do both!) If I make this one, it'll be in a chunky purple yarn.

2. Leg warmers (pattern subject to change, but something like this:)
3. Boot toppers

4. Katniss cowl

5. Fix Fezziwig sweater. I knit it last winter, re-doing the button band twice. However, it's still not right, so I'm going to rip out the band again and try to complete it for real.

6. Lace shawl (again, kind of summery, but I want it, dangit!)

7. Slippers

1. Pretty Little Chicago cross stitch (this one's about half done at this point):

2. Pretty Little Barcelona cross stitch:

Phew! That's a lot! I'm sure I won't finish everything, but I like lists, and I like goals, and I like prizes, so...let's see how far I get! Are you participating?