Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The blog has moved!

Hello, everyone!

I just wanted to give you a heads up that I have moved this blog to a new address.  The new blog, The Serial Hobbyist Girl at, is a consolidation of my various themed blogs.  Having just one blog to worry about makes it easier for me to add content more often and keep track of myself.  Plus the new website if far prettier.   Please, come visit and update your subscription!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Historical Sew Fortnightly #9: Black and White

The Challenge: #9 Black and White.

Fabric: Handkerchief weight linen.

Pattern: No pattern but based on the instructions in The Medieval Tailor's Assistant.

Year: Circa 13th century.

Notions: Thread.

How historically accurate is it?  I machine-sewed everything except the neckline binding and the sleeve hems, which I hand sewed because they show.  Based on that, I'm going to say 90% accurate.

Hours to complete: About 4 hours including the drafting.

First worn: Not worn yet but will be worn on Memorial Day weekend.

Total cost: I used about 3 yards of fabric, so $30, give or take.

I thought about submitting this man's shirt to the Underneath It All challenge retroactively but it was white so I decided to go ahead and submit it to this challenge instead.  The challenge description says "Draw on the opposite ends of the shade spectrum to create something in black and white, or black or white" so this fits.

The shirt is part of an ensemble that somehow I agreed to make for my husband after the last large tunic I made him fell apart in the washing machine because I foolishly thought that pinking the raw edges would be enough.  How a torn tunic translates into a whole outfit, undershirt, hosen, and all, I'll never know.  The truth is, I enjoy sewing, obviously, but on my terms, so while I am perfectly OK with making this for him, I wish I hadn't set a deadline. But I digress.

The shirt itself is very simple in design and construction, it's basically rectangles and  squares.  I followed the instructions on The Medieval Tailor's Assistant, and decided to cut the fabric based on the measurements and not actually made a pattern, at least for the body.  It turned out alright in the end but having a piece of paper to put to the fabric would have made it much easier.  I did draft a pattern for the sleeves, if you can call it that, to make it easier to cut.  In the end, the only change I made from my original measurements was to shorten the sleeve.  I drafted the sleeve pattern based on the measurements for his arm length, which is what the book has you do, but you must take into consideration how far down the arm the actual body of the shirt comes because that's where the sleeve starts, not at the shoulder.  Without cutting off that fabric, the sleeves on him came about 6 inches past the tip of his fingers.  I was almost certain I could have made a pair of shorts for our son with the extra fabric.  Come think it, because I cut the fabric for the sleeves we also decided to not made the sleeves as wide as we had initially planned.  Initially we had planned for a 60cm wide sleeve and cut it down to 40cm.  This not only conserved fabric but also made the sleeves fit better, especially since they have a gusset.

The Medieval Tailor's Assistant gives two options on how to attach the gussets and sew the sleeves in.  One is for set in sleeves, and the other for sleeves and gussets sewn flat. I had always done them set in so I thought I'd try sewing them flat and see if that was easier.  No, it isn't.  It isn't any more difficult either but it doesn't produce a nice, neat, finish, so I'll keep setting them in the round.

This isn't a terribly exciting garment, but it is a necessary one and one that will get a lot of use, so I'm glad it's done.  Now I can come on to the other pieces of the outfit and keep cursing myself for setting deadline (which I won't meet!) in the first place.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Vintage Simplicity 2522

When PatternReview's contest page started announcing that the upcoming challenge was "Vintage," I immediately started searching through my vintage pattern stash for something to make. I didn't want to have to work too hard grading a small pattern so I looked for something close to my size, hoping all it would need would be a full bust adjustment and maybe a little width at the sides.  I finally settled on Simplicity 2522, a 1958 pattern for blouses with bateau necklines.

View 2 had sleeves and I didn't want them, view 3 was too short, so I settled on view 1.  I made a muslin and, much to my surprise, I didn't need to make any adjustments for the bust or any grading.  I ended up doing only one adjustment, I took about 3/4 of an inch off the neckline.  When I did that to the muslin, everything looked OK, but not so for the final blouse.  The neckline is still not right and should have some more fabric taken out, which would also bring the shoulders in a bit. More importantly, however, the back could really benefit from a swayback adjustment.  I actually sewed the muslin with a center back seam expecting to have to do the adjustment but either I was blind or something because the back of the blouse has too much fabric and it bunches up at my waist.  That said, I like the look of the blouse.

The blouse has an all in one facing and a separating zipper on the left side seam. I actually followed the instructions on the pattern, which were a bit fuzzy, and I don't like how the zipper is inserted. It doesn't make for a neat finish and I'm sure it can be done better.  The first time I inserted the zipper the fabric didn't meet in the center and the zipper was visible.  I unpicked the zipper and applied it again with more success, but I'm still not happy with the way it looks.  The instructions have you add the facing and finish the neckline/armscyes before adding the zipper, so you have end up with the zipper outside of the facing, if that makes sense.  I wish I had taken a picture.   The blouse's hem is open from the bottom trimming down and the side with the zipper looks off even with the hook and eye I inserted to make it look neater.   Last, the blouse rides up on my chest when I sit down.

I wore the blouse today and I did get compliments on it, and I do love the bows so much, but I still know what I could have, and should have, done better.  I will still wear it though, and maybe even make another one with a better fit.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Colette Sorbetto

I've been in the mood for lots of sewing lately but I haven't been in the mood for anything complicated.  I've picked up several patterns from my stash thinking "that looks nice," then put them back again when I see the number of pattern pieces and the fitting time involved.  Then a few days ago I remembered that I had printed out Colette's Sorbetto to make for the cruise and never got around to it.  It's just two pattern pieces so it's nice and simple; I went for it.

I cut out a straight size 12, taking only my bust measurement into consideration.  I didn't make a muslin, I just cut the dotty fabric right off the bat.  After I sewed the shoulder and side seams, I did a quick fitting and decided I needed to adjust the shoulders by sewing at a slope going about half an inch lower on the outside ends. I have sloping shoulders so that is not surprising, and it fixed some of the armhole gaping that was going on.  I also took in the sides seams considerably starting just below the bust darts.  Even taking in the side seams, I still feel the top is too big.  I also feel the neckline is too wide and the shoulders are definitely too wide.  I retrospect, I should have cut a smaller size through the shoulders, then graded through a 12 at the bust, and down some more at the waist.  In retrospect, I should have added a center back seam to make a small swayback adjustment.  The blouse is also a bit short, which is pretty odd coming from me considering I'm barely 5'1.5". 

While I can wear the top as is, and have, it's a bit tentish.  That said, it may just be a style that doesn't suit my body shape.  I am currently taking a sloper drafting class (from Craftsy) and I have learned that my body shape is a rectangle, which has made drafting my sloper....interesting...but I degrees. I suppose I will label this as a wearable muslin and made the above adjustments in a future try.  So many people have had success with this pattern that I should give it another try, and maybe try a softer fabric.

The color in the photos isn't very good, it was early in the morning and the light wasn't great.  The fabric is the same as this dress.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Pinspiration Apron

After my last post, I started looking through Pinterest for photos of other people's Pretty Ditty Apron, which lead to a general apron search, naturally.  It's really incredible how many different types and styles of aprons as out there.  There's everything form the simple to the completely impractical but oh so fancy and gorgeous.  It seems I am not the only who is moderately obsessed with loves aprons.  That's actually surprising as I don't know a single person in real life, other than myself, who wears aprons at all, let alone routinely and nice ones.

At any rate, one of those searched brought up a very simple yet cute and girly apron that I immediately loved.  The pin was from an Etsy shop that sells the completed apron, but that was OK, I could make it from scratch.  And so I drove to Joann, searched for similar fabric, came home and got to work.  The fabric I chose is not the exact fabric used in the pin but it is the same sort of theme, vintage/antique France with a romantic feel, and it is home dec weight, which makes it pretty sturdy.  I wasn't copying the pin, just making an apron inspired by it.  I actually love the fabric, I am a self professed Francophile and, as we've established, I love everything vintage and antique.

The shape of the apron is extremely simple and construction, which included drafting the pattern and figuring out everything as I went, took about three hours.  The ruffles here, which are did not photograph well and are actually a dusty rose color, were the second try.  Come think of it, the whole apron has as dusty rose/mauve tone that did not photograph well.  The first ruffle was a white bridal poly organza type fabric. I didn't buy enough for the ruffles to go all the way around the hem without having to piece it together (which I didn't want to do), so I looked in my stash and found this poly chiffon.  In the end, I think the dusty rose chiffon worked much better and goes much better with the overall color of the fabric so it was a happy accident.

The flower is very simple. There is a flat layer of apron fabric and a flat layer of chiffon, there there are four pieces of the chiffon fabric folded to make the petals.  Everything is sown together at the center, then I added a button, hot-glued everything to a small wool felt round and attached a pin. So the flower is removable and can be worn as an accessory with other outfits.

I love this apron. It encompasses many of my favorite things: France, antiques, ruffles, flowers, bicycles, and of course, aprons. 

I have another apron in the planning stages, let's see how it turns out.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pretty Ditty Apron

For someone who doesn't consider herself terribly domesticated, I sure love aprons!  Then again, I LOVE coats and live in South Florida, so go figure.  I have several aprons; some I bought, some I made, and some were gifts from other people, but a girl can never have to many aprons. Anyhow, a couple of years ago an acquaintance of mine posted a picture on Facebook of a gorgeous apron she made, it was in a gorgeous floral print and matching solid blue fabric. I was smitten.  I loved the fabric and I loved the shape of the apron. I did some searching and it turned out that the it was a pattern from an indie designer, Jamie Christina.  I bought it immediately and then I waited, and waited, to find a similar fabric to the Facebook apron.  I didn't find it and I got involved in other projects so the apron pattern sat in a drawer.

Tied at the front

A few days ago I decided I wanted to make the apron and I searched through my fabric stash to see if I found anything suitable that I liked.  I have a lot of pretty quilting cotton, thought I don't quilt, so I started there.  There I found this lovely Asian themed fabric from Alexander Henry that had been in the stash for years; I think the actual name of the fabric/design is Koto. I didn't have any other patterned fabric I liked to go with it so I chose the green solid instead.

Tied at the front

While I love the finished result and the construction of the apron wasn't actually difficult, I have to say that the instructions on the pattern were not very good.  There is the option of making a reversible apron or a non-reversible one, and I chose the latter.  The instructions were for the non-reversible version were all over the place and has the sewist doing a lot of back and forth on the sheet, and it's just not very clear.  The instructions for the reversible apron take up 95% of the space so I suspect that they are clearer and better than for non-reversible.  That is my only complaint with this pattern.  It's really not difficult to figure out but it is annoying nonetheless.

Tied at the back

The construction of the apron is pretty cool, and leaves all the edges of the bodice portion bound since the shoulder straps, which go all the way to the waistband, are double folded binding tape cut on the cross grain.  The top edge of the bodice serves as an elastic casing, which is how you get the gather there.  I have read that some people leave out the elastic altogether and just gather the bodice to into the binding strip.  I like the elastic.  The pattern instructions call for gathering the ruffles at the bottom by making a loose stitch line through the middle of the fabric strip and manually gathering it to the skirt bottom but I didn't do it that way.  Instead, I used my ruffler presser foot set to the "6" setting (the middle of the three).  I put the ruffle strip into the ruffler foot, the skirt under the ruffler foot, and sewed the ruffles directly onto the skirt.  I hope that makes sense.  The alternative would have been to make the ruffles and then apply them to the apron, but then the ruffles would have had two visible stitch lines unless I was SUPER careful to stitch only on top of the first stitch line.

Tied at the back

After all is said and done, I LOVE the apron and I will probably make another in different fabric combinations.  Love.  I would wear this as a dress if it had a back, and it turns out that Jamie Christina does have a dress pattern that looks like this on the front...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Historical Sew Fortnighly #7: Tops and Toes

If the cap was pink, I'd look like Edith for Despicable Me.

The Challenge: #7 Tops and Toes.

Fabric: Medium weight linen.

Pattern: None.

Year: Circa 10th century.

Notions: Thread, embroidery floss.

How historically accurate is it?  The cap is based on an extant piece from 10th century Dublin, the embroidery design is also Norse from the same time period, all the visible stitching is done by hand.  Only the seam and the seam's raw edges are done by machine.  I'll go about 95% accurate.

Hours to complete: It took me about ten hours of work.

First worn: I haven't worn it yet, now I must make a Norse outfit to go with it.

Total cost: Very little. The cap is 8 inches by 24 inches, including seam and hem allowances. I paid about $5 a yard for the linen.  The embroidery floss was about $1.50.  The total cost of materials was probably around $3.

The description for this challenge was very simple: make something that goes on your head or on your feet.  Initially I made some notes about making hosen or stockings of some sort, but after a short battle with trying to drape stockings on myself, it didn't happen. I was in the mood for something a bit less challenging so I thought, hey, I'll make a Jorvik cap!  Then I decided I didn't want to round the back so I made this, a Dublin cap instead.

The cap is based on an extant Norse head covering from the 10th century found in, you guessed it, Dublin.  The extant piece is made of wool, unlike the Jorvik cap which is silk.  The other difference between the Dublin cap and the Jorvik cap is that the former has a pointy back seam while the latter is rounded more to the shape of the head.  I actually quite like the point.  It's supposed to be sewn shut with a diagonal stitch line going from the center back seam to the top of the head, forming a triangle, but I didn't like the look when I sewed the test cap.

Geez, I don't think I'll ever wear it tied in a bow.

The embroidery....that was the first time I did hand embroidery and the I actually learned to do the backstitch specifically for this piece. It's not perfect, but it's not bad for a first time.  The embroidery design can be found here.

A bit blurry but it's a good example of what the cap looks like tied at the back of the head.

I'm quite pleased with the results and I cannot wait to wear with this the appropriate garb.


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