General, Sewing, Uncategorized

Wool Coat Repair

12313581_10156329548615603_8403725211885493968_n
My unflattering but entirely toasty “Super Cold Weather” winter coat, saved for playing in the snow and days of excessive windchill. 

I live in Atlantic Canada, and it gets super cold and snowy here. A proper winter coat (or two or three) is key to survival. I have a big multi-layer water proof wind proof snow proof movement proof coat that I use for REALLY cold days (-30 and below) but for just normal cold days I generally wear my wool coat.

Oh how uninspiring this coat is. I got it at the Gap maybe 3 years ago for maybe 40$, which is NOTHING for a winter coat, but I guess you get what you pay for…

Behold….

20150207_123722
Such a snore! And totally unflattering! Where is my waist?!

It is outstandingly boring and not very flattering. It has always been a bit big on me (not generally a bad thing for a winter coat because that allows you to layer under it) but the main problem is the utter lack of any sort of tailoring/shaping. Believe it or not, I have a waist but damned if you can see it when I’m wearing this coat!!!
At the end of last winter this coat finally gave up the ghost. The lining had been in tatters for a while, and the pockets had holes and I had to reattach most of the buttons at one time or another, but when the entire shoulder seam split open I declared it dead. “FINALLY!” I thought to myself, because I am much too cheap to buy a new winter coat unless it is truly necessary. Also, plus size winter coats are just… ugly. And unflattering. I’m sorry, but no plus size woman wants to wear big giant shapeless puffy coats with tacky faux fur lined hoods, and yet that seems to be the majority of what stores offer.
M6800_aSince I’m getting into sewing my own clothes, my genius plan was to make my own winter coat. This coat specifically (McCall’s M6800). I had a brilliant plan to make the version with the hi-low bottom and have a truly fabulous lining that would show, making the coat spectacular in its eye-catching-ness and general beauty. But I’m cautious. Wool coat material is pretty expensive and I didn’t want to spend the money only to have it turn out awful, so I asked my sew talented mother if I was being nuts to think this was a good idea.

Long story short, yes, my mother thought I was nuts.

Heartbroken doesn’t quite capture my sadness, but I trust my mother’s judgement on this. I’m sure in time it will be a task I could take on, but maybe not yet.

So what to do about a winter coat! I refuse to be saddled with an ugly coat all winter (again), but I also hate spending money needlessly, so I have come up with the following solution:

I am going to fix my old coat. I’m going to take it all apart, do a bit of tailoring to bring in the waist a bit to give me some shape, I’m going to remove the annoying button tabs on the shoulders that my purse gets stuck on every single time, and I’m going to re-line it. I got the lining fabric today, and it is FAAAAAAAAAAAABULOUS. Or ugly. Can’t decide, but either way I love it. It is bright purple with red blood splatters! Shockingly, it was in the clearance section of my local Fabricville, but it is appropriately slippery for a lining, and just stupid enough of a pattern to crack me up and make this whole endeavor a lot more appealing. Plus, only 6$.

The way I see it, if I screw this project up the worst I am out is 6$ and some time because if I don’t fix the coat I’ll have to buy a new one regardless, right?

This weekend is going to be fairly sew-heavy it seems. I want to at least get a start on my coat, but I also have to sew a shirt dress for myself. It is a test run before my “Sew Spectacular” weekend with my cousin next weekend where we’re both going to sew up a storm.

DIY Projects, General, Redecorating, Step parenting, Uncategorized

Redeco: Rubik’s Cube Room Murals

Rubik's Cube wall mural
My giant Rubik’s Cube mural. So proud of it!

I have been a busy step-mom. My kid is off camping with his bio-mom so I took the opportunity to redo his room. First step, obviously, was painting the walls, banishing the horrid bright yellow from my home. His room is now the same colour as my sanctuary, which is a nice soothing grey (Sherwin Williams Serious Grey). I love this grey so much, to me it is the perfect grey. Not too dark, but still dark enough to feel cosy. Very neutral undertone – not overly warm or overly cool, though I would say if anything it edges towards a slightly cooler undertone. It is a wonderful colour.

Anyway, with the walls painted I then started working on phase two, which was the main event.

My large hand painted murals of Rubik’s Cubes.

Yes, I am insane. And yes, they were fussy and a lot of work, but frankly not as much work as I was expecting.

Here are the steps I took to get this done:

  1. Located and purchased an overhead projector. I was able to get mine second hand off of Kijiji for 40$.
  2. Printed off black and white pictures of Rubik’s cubes.
  3. Traced the pictures on to transparent sheets. (I actually couldn’t find proper transparency sheets, so I just used those clear sheet protectors instead. Made tracing really easy. Just put the page I was tracing in the sleeve, traced it using a Sharpie, and then took the page back out.
  4. Projected the image on to the wall using my projector and traced sheet.
  5. OPTIONAL: Trace the outline in pencil. I only did this for the first one but frankly didn’t feel it helped, so for the second one I just painted from the projection rather than the tracing. Worked well.
  6. Paint the projection on to the wall. I used a matte black paint that we had left over from when I painted our movie theatre room. I found I did need to do a second coat.

DONE!

Rubik's Cube wall mural
Only 2.5 feet high, but glow in the dark too!

The “exploding” smaller one was the first one I did and is about 2 and a half feet high. I think my projector was at a bit of an angle because the cube is sliiiiiiiiiiiiiightly distorted but it still looks good. Doesn’t hurt that I have also painted the inside of the squares in glow in the dark paint. FUN!

The larger one is about 4 and a half feet high and looks way better, in part because it is bigger and therefore the lines and curves were way easier to paint. Small mistakes aren’t so apparent.

And let me be clear, these are NOT perfect. But they are hand painted with love. He’ll always know that I, his loving step mom, painted them using her own two hands. Every imperfect corner and squiggly line just speaks to my having done it myself. Anyone could have purchased a peel-and-stick wall decal. I HAND PAINTED mine, so clearly I win. 😉

Rubik's Cube Curtain Tie-backSo with the murals done I just have final details to finish up. I hung some new curtains and made Rubik’s Cube curtain holder-backer things using some inexpensive slightly broken cubes given to me by a friend/co-worker. Same friend is 3D printing me some glow-in-the-dark cube stands as well, which is extremely awesome. I still have to suspend some Star Wars models we have from the ceiling. And I have some more things to make glow in the dark, like the ceiling fan blades. Small details. The room looks awesome though. I’m really pleased.

 

2016 projects, Cross Stitch, General, Uncategorized

Mario cross-stitch complete!

13717239_10157181971195603_2490675778638601622_o (1)TA DAAAAAAAAAA! Totally turned out awesome, amirite? For my first cross stitch I feel it was pretty flipping successful, and I am happy to say it has been framed and hung with pride in my guest washroom.

So my thoughts in general on this project:

  • I missed a row in his legs. It isn’t a big deal and incredibly hard to notice if I didn’t tell you, and even after I tell you you still may not be able to see it. But yeah… missed a row.
  • Finishing this project was supremely satisfying in the same way that finishing a large knitting project is supremely satisfying, except that this only took me two weeks.
  • Cross stitch is pretty portable and in some ways more portable than knitting (especially compared to my sock yarn blanket, which is oh so not portable)
  • Cross stitch FOs are rather more understood and appreciated by the public at large in a way that knitting just isn’t. In terms of HOURS this probably took me as much time as, say, my Rainbow mitts or my bonnet, but people’s response to those two items were decidedly less enthusiastic and “wow” than their response was to this. And in terms of complexity/effort/skill required, this was a lot easier than the other two. Just, you know… stitching exes over and over.
  • Its a fun activity, but little too “pay attention”-y. Hard to do while watching something on the TV. Listening to TV? Sure. Watching? Not so much.

 

I will cross stitch again (I have already started a new Harry Potter cross stitch), I like that the end result can be hung up and displayed for all to see, but I don’t see it ever replacing knitting as my true love.

2016 projects, Cross Stitch, General, Uncategorized

As if I didn’t have enough dorky hobbies…

13524284_10157072683935603_2089906618334939420_nSo I decided to give cross stitch a shot. Why? Um,… I don’t know. It isn’t like I lack for hobbies. I sew, I quilt, I knit, I crochet, I sketch, I dabble in photography. Hell, I can even do chainmaille. So why the hell do I need another hobby? I guess part of it is my friend Telle. She cross stitches and does some really awesome things. She even made me this epic “Have a nice poop” cross stitch as a homewarming gift for me! How awesome is that? After I hung it up in our guest bathroom and saw how hilariously awesome it looked I started thinking about what other awesome cross stitches we could hang in there… and that was about it. I went on Pinterest and started looking up fun cross stitch patterns.

Let it be said that there is an epic amount of really amazing cross stitch patterns out there. It was hard deciding on which one would be my first pattern to try. Me being me, I obviously didn’t choose a small simple one. Oh no. I chose to go with the coolest one I saw that made me the most excited. Turns out it was this one

il_570xN.1001297544_p70u.jpg
Super Mario by StitchLine

Come on. How awesome is this. Just like in knitting, I have zero issue spending money on patterns when they are as cool as this. And it was a buy-one-get-one thing, so I also got this cool Yoda pattern too.

 

Just a few hours of work so far and I’ve made good progress.

20160707_080434.jpg

The only downside to cross stitch is that I can’t do it as mindlessly as I can knit. I am able to knit and watch something on the TV without issue, but this? This I need to pay attention to. But maybe that is okay.

I wonder if there is limit to how many hobbies one person should have….

Cross Stitch, General, Uncategorized

As if I didn’t already have enough dorky hobbies…

13524284_10157072683935603_2089906618334939420_nSo I decided to give cross stitch a shot. Why? Um,… I don’t know. It isn’t like I lack for hobbies. I sew, I quilt, I knit, I crochet, I sketch, I dabble in photography. Hell, I can even do chainmaille. So why the hell do I need another hobby? I guess part of it is my friend Telle. She cross stitches and does some really awesome things. She even made me this epic “Have a nice poop” cross stitch as a homewarming gift for me! How awesome is that? After I hung it up in our guest bathroom and saw how hilariously awesome it looked I started thinking about what other awesome cross stitches we could hang in there… and that was about it. I went on Pinterest and started looking up fun cross stitch patterns.

Let it be said that there is an epic amount of really amazing cross stitch patterns out there. It was hard deciding on which one would be my first pattern to try. Me being me, I obviously didn’t choose a small simple one. Oh no. I chose to go with the coolest one I saw that made me the most excited. Turns out it was this one

il_570xN.1001297544_p70u.jpg
Super Mario by StitchLine

Come on. How awesome is this. Just like in knitting, I have zero issue spending money on patterns when they are as cool as this. And it was a buy-one-get-one thing, so I also got this cool Yoda pattern too.

 

Just a few hours of work so far and I’ve made good progress.

20160707_080434.jpg

The only downside to cross stitch is that I can’t do it as mindlessly as I can knit. I am able to knit and watch something on the TV without issue, but this? This I need to pay attention to. But maybe that is okay.

I wonder if there is limit to how many hobbies one person should have….

DIY Projects, General, Redecorating, Step parenting, Uncategorized

Redeco: Rubix Cube Bedroom

rubix_cube.jpgPrior to the move, in order to get my kid on board, I asked him what sort of room he wanted to have. He sort of shrugged so I suggested that maybe I could make it a Minecraft themed room, which got him pretty excited. The Minecraft Bedroom became the main talking point from then on out for how the new house is going to be sooooooooooooooooooooo awesome.

Fast forward five months, his four year obsession with Minecraft seems to have suddenly waned. He at first said that, no, he still wanted a Minecraft bedroom, but last weekend he finally conceeded that yes, he isn’t as into Minecraft anymore and maybe something else would be better.

Enter Rubik’s Cubes.

Rubik’s cubes have become a major obsession for him as of late, and he’s getting really good. I can mess it up all I like and he will be able to solve for one side in less than 10 seconds, and he is working on solving the whole thing. He has a number of different cubes as well (a 2×2, a couple 3×3, a 2×4, and he has a 4×4 ordered). So yeah… Rubik’s Cubes are the way to go here.

But what the hell do I do! It was so easy when I was going to do minecraft, I was just going to do the little squares to make grass blocks, maybe some cobble stone, paint in a creeper or something. No problem. Toss on a red bedspread with a red pillow and we’re good. But now… I just don’t know. I mean, sure, there are wall decals, but that feels really lame….. I just really want to make this super special for him.

DIY Projects, General, Redecorating, Sewing, Uncategorized

Chair recovering finished

All four chairs are done and over all I’m happy with the end result. Clearly, the new recovered chairs do NOT match the table or the original chairs, but they never were going to. Someday it may be a nice to strip the new chairs and stain them to a more similar colour, but for now they look okay. Also, the table itself is looking pretty worn and haggard these days and really needs to be refinished, but that is a project for another day.

223.JPG

227.JPGI had a bit of leftover seat cushion fabric, so I made a suuuuper basic table runner. The idea is that by having the fabric also on the table it will make the whole set look more cohesive. I also chucked on the crystal bowl we got as a wedding gift to fancy the whole thing up a bit. End result? Passable. The runner actually looks good and does help to make things a bit more matchy matchy, but I still feel that the original chairs look fairly out of place. A good idea may be to do some slip covers for the backs of the original chairs (Jonathan doesn’t want me to make cushions for them…) to bring it all together, but then I worry that maybe it would start to look too busy and fussy.

So overall, this project was worthwhile and very easy. I also like how easy it is to change the fabric, so as our style changes I can VERY easily adapt the chairs to match. And this was seriously easy. The seats/cushions came off very easily. Taking the old fabric off along with all the staples was a bit of a pain in the ass until I decided to just be lazy and use an xacto knife to cut it off. Leaving the staples there and the thin strip of original fabric made things a lot faster and it didn’t seem to make any difference in the end. Cutting the fabric for the seats was as complicated as laying the fabric down, putting the seat on top of it, cutting out the general shape plus an inch or two on all sides. I then used my trusty staple gun and attached the fabric. I trimmed the excess fabric, reattached the seats, and that was that. Done. Absolutely a beginner level project.

  • Total cost was 50$ for the chairs and 16$ for the fabric, for a total of 66$.
  • Total time taken was about 10 minutes per chair (remove the cushion, remove the old fabric, put on the new fabric, reattach the cushion).

So 66$ and 40 minutes, we finally have enough chairs to seat more than 4 people at the table. Well worth it.

229.JPG 231.JPG
General, Making Things, Redecorating, Uncategorized

Pretty dinner chairs

House prettification is progressing. I haven’t done a huge amount in terms of painting lately, aside from my office. Buh-bye, neon yellow. Hello, dark grey! Looks wonderful and serene and cosy. I have a lot more to say about my office but I’m saving that for another post.

We have invited Jonathan’s parents down for a visit this coming weekend and Jonathan had the idea that since his parents were going to be there, and since it was father’s day weekend, why not also invite my parents up that saturday for an “All Fathers Father’s Day Dinner”. I, being brilliant and hilarious, made up a funny invitation email that I sent to our parents, and they all accepted (of course).

Capture.PNG

So there is going to be seven for dinner, but oh no! We only have 4 dinner table chairs, one of which has recently been broken by a certain rung-standing 9 year old.

Not anymore!

I went on kijiji and found an ad for 4 solid wood dinner chairs for 60$. The upholstery fabric on them was hideous but they seemed good otherwise. I ultimately got them for 50$, and got 15$ worth of fabric. I took the seats off each chair, took off the disgusting old fabric, attached my new fabric, and reattached the seats. End result is wonderful, frankly.

13434733_10157025090935603_3061027552406781859_n (1).jpg

So now we finally have enough dinner chairs, for the low price of 65$. Well worth it.

General, Making Things, Sewing, Uncategorized

How I sew clothes with no special supplies aside from a sewing machine

It would appear the novelty of my having a sewing room hasn’t worn off yet. I came home from work last night, tired as hell, but after a hasty cabbage filled supper I immediately wandered into my sewing room. I think my intention was cleaning up the space a bit, since the mattress for my daybed in there is arriving tomorrow, but instead I came across a swath of old yellow polkadot fabric. Well, that would make a cute skirt, amirite?

13315791_10156982430525603_5086547648998460676_n.jpg

TA DA! Only took about 30 minutes. I’ve had different people ask me what my “pattern” was, which I do not have. Everything I have sewn to date has been winged. But I do have a general broad-strokes process.

Note: this process assumes that I already have fabric I want to work with

Step One: Assess the amount of fabric I have to work with

ariel.pngThis whole “assess the fabric” is entirely unscientific, and I look sort of like Ariel with the sail. This step would be a lot easier if I just had a damned dress form, but I don’t, so I have to use my own body. I open up the whole piece of fabric I have to work with and sort of wrap it around my body in different ways. I have a full length mirror in my sewing room, allowing me to better see how all my various wrappings, gatherings, and floofing abouts actually look.

  • Does it fit all the way around my body? One thing I always check for is if the fabric were to be sewn into a tube whether I could fit my whole body inside that imaginary tube without stressing the seams.
  • Does the fabric have any stretch? What direction is it the stretchiest?
  • Is there slack, especially around my hips? How much slack?
  • Is there another direction I can wrap it that gives me more slack/length?
  • Is this fabric really drapey and flowy or is it a more stiff fabric?
  • Can I see my clothes through the fabric and therefore will my underpants be visible through it?*
  • Do I have any other fabric kicking around that might work well with it?
* this is only slightly relevant because I never wear dresses or skirts without some sort of biker short underneath. 

Step Two: Decide what type of garment the fabric is destined for

13015333_10156815973980603_8928546948800181831_n.jpg
I had enough of this albeit ugly fabric to make a dress, a skirt, and a top! The top sorta sucks, but the skirt in particular I get a moderate amount of use from.

After all the messing about from step one I have the info I need to decide what I want to make. My decision process is not complicated or special. I just do whatever looked the best during my Ariel “throwing the fabric on my body until I can kinda sort invision something that would look okay” process.

If there is a lot of fabric and there is stretch, good choices are:

  • maxi-dress
  • maxi-skirt
  • pencil skirt
  • flouncy a-line/skater skirt

If there is a lot of fabric but NO stretch

If there is not a lot of fabric but it is stretchy:

  • pencil skirt
  • mini-skirt
  • pair it with another fabric and use the fabric as a stretch waist/top
  • pair it with another fabric and use the fabric a stretchy panel in a shirt to give it some movement and comfort

 

Step Three: Cut and sew!

Time to dive in and do it! Sew things and see how it looks! I recommend frequent breaks to “try on” the garment, or at least hold it up against your body to see how it kinda sorta is looking.

Actually, if this is an unfamiliar fabric you may want to cut a bit off and sew it. It is important to know what kind of stitches to use when. For example, you’re reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally going to want to use a zig-zag stitch (or some other stitch that works with stretch) if you’re sewing with knits or fabric’s with stretch.

In the case of my yellow skirt I made last night, I cut the skirt out into 8 rectangles, and then cut those rectangles into identical wedges so that it was about 2 inches wider at the bottom than at the top so that when I sewed them together it created a bit of an A-Line.

Step Four: Make adjustments.

There are ALWAYS adjustments. My adjustment period is usually the longest period of my whole garment sewing time, a huge part of it being my putting the garment on and pinching/folding/draping it different ways until it looks better and then pinning it, taking it off carefully, and sewing. Frequently adjusted things for me are:

12549128_10156462189400603_7341186200066080804_n
There was a “Buy one, get two free” sale at Fabricville… I took advanage of it. I wore these skirts constantly and got a lot of compliments on them.
  • adding darts to give a bit of shaping and better fit. When I made my pencil skirts I had to add darts at the waistline for all of them.
  • redoing the hem
  • bringing in the waist (I perpetually make my waistbands too big and loose.)
  • adjusting the bodice of a dress to fit around my breasts and look better in that way.
  • Using my seam ripper and taking entire pieces off/apart and sewing it again.

Step Five: Assess the final project.

  • My normal thing is to put it on. Look at it in the full length mirror. Does it look passable? Cool.
  • Try sitting down. Does it pull or get uncomfortable? No? Cool.

    13343002_10156982430485603_4428995740459570212_n.jpg
    This is me, last night, trying it on as a full outfit to see if I liked my skirt. I did! And I liked the outfit so much that I am wearing this exactly today. 🙂
  • Time to go model it to my husband. What does he think? If he complains about the colour or pattern I ignore him, but sometimes he has issues/complaints about certain elements that are easily fixed and often very good suggestions.
  • Try it on as part of an outfit, complete with shoes and accessories. Look good? Cool.

 

If after all this it is terrible or weird, well, there you go. Sometimes it can be salvaged, but sometimes it is just… done. And that’s fine. I am a strong believer that even failed projects have value if only so that you can learn what NOT to do. I have had many failures. In general I keep them because the fabric can often be reused or re-purposed, either by disassembling it using my seam ripper, or just cutting it up. Or sometimes I just keep it to remember how effing ugly something turned out. 🙂

This is why when I’m experi-sewing I use inexpensive fabric. I don’t want to get upset if I end up making something horrible because of all the wasted money. Once I get better or more confident I will invest in better fabrics and be more careful.

But that’s it! That is all it takes!

I’m going to soon start trying to make some fitted tops. I fully expect the first few to be disasters. 🙂

 

General, Making Things, Outfits, Sewing, Uncategorized

Super simple dress success

Sunday I took a break from unpacking and painting and decided to play around in my sewing room. You know.. because I have a sewing room now.

This dress was the end result!13308202_10156976664410603_8415474443722113402_o.jpg

I got the skirt fabric for super cheap at Fabricville – it was a “buy one get 2 free” thing – and the top was just left over material from my pencil skirts I made earlier this year. All in, this dress cost me maybe 6$, which is just ridiculous. It was incredibly easy to make too. I just made a fairly snug tube top type thing out of the yellow and sewed the blue skirt material into a tube as well. No measuring, I just used all the fabric I had. I attached the blue skirt material to it the tube by sort of tacking it around the edge and then stretching the tube to the size of the blue skirt material. The end result is a pretty simple gathered edge, which is fine but… bleh. Not so flattering. The tube top, though, is long enough that I can fold it down over to make a better defined waist and top area.

Frankly, I’m really digging this dress. Considering it was just an experiement and me playing around I think it worked out really really well. It is comfortable and summery and kind of fun. I don’t think it looks blatantly homemade. Sure, if you look closely you’ll see my hem isn’t super straight or even, but it isn’t suuuuuuuuuuuuuper obvious. And even if it is, who cares. I like it.

 

Honestly, I have no idea why more people don’t play with fabric and making their own clothes. Just experiement! Play around! Try it out, make adjustment, see what works and what doesn’t. If this dress hadn’t worked out I would be out only 6$, but I guarantee I would have learned a lot about what does and doesn’t work, so the next time I tried to make a dress I would have more chance of success. And since so much of plus size clothing is outrageously overpriced, dowdy, and ugly, I feel like I have no choice but to make my own clothes if I want something a little more interesting and fashionable that doesn’t break the bank.