Saturday, June 22, 2013

Susie's Fingerless Mitts

Dear readers,

Another project I completed before my dress was finally Susie's Fingerless Mitts, a free pattern from Ravelry found HERE.

Easy but delicate pattern.  I would sew these again in DK or a thinner yarn.  The pattern calls for Size 5 needles in DK.  The yarn is Lorna's Superwash Wool in Worsted.  I used Size 4 and cast on a bit two small (24 c/o)  - next time I will use 30 stitches c/o.  I tried the 42 the pattern called for and 36 but both ran too large, even with the reduced needle size - I am a loose loose knitter and this yarn was larger than the pattern called for. 

Some of the pattern was a bit tricky - the turn round after the lace stitch took me some time to figure out, as did the thumb.  I also used a crochet c/o - I probably will never use another cast off again - I loved this stretchy c/o.  Thank goodness for YouTube tutorials.  

My ravelry review is HERE.

Fun pattern.  Highly recommended!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Decades of Style 1944 House Dress

Dear readers,

Since having minor foot surgery and staying home for two weeks - this second week I have been sewing my head off - I've completed this reproduction dress, a pair of knitted fingerless mitts, and a quick shirt.

First, my completed Decades of Style 1944 House Dress.  I bought the fabric online from Gorgeous Fabrics last year .  (Note to self:  I am going to start attaching tags to my fabric with date and source).  The colors of this dress were inspired by a Rose Bowl game here in Pasadena - actually the BCS Championship in Pasadena (Univ. of Alabama v. Univ. of Texas).  I thought I am going to make a dress to wear with my brother to the next Alabama championship - it's only taken me over three years.

Please note I couldn't get the color quite right . I tried to lighten then darken it.   I also chose not to attach black pockets - J. thought it would drive the dress into costume territory (not that this is necessarily a bad thing).
I used this transparent print that I underlined with batiste (rather than voile) - it was the only fabric I could find in black locally (without driving to Mood).  The batiste seemed heavier than I originally desired  - I could barely fell-stitch the lining or attach the snaps.  

A fashion savvy friend of mine suggested avoiding the fabric, below - my original choice - so I need to send him a picture - he was right - this had the wrong hand for the pattern.  
As usual, I kept getting photo-bombed by my Kerry Blue Terrier, Pixie.   I also wanted to make this pattern since I bought it at Sew LA.   I made a toile, first, and made the adjustments.  Then I underlined all the pieces and serged the edges.  I changed my serger thread to maxi-lock - and guess what?  Perfect serging!  Just as I was about to purchase a Babylock evolution.  Blast!
 Oh Pixie!! You little sweetie!
I made several style decisions in sewing this the dress - I made a border for the collar from Gertie's Tutorial - using rickrack edging - and used the same technique on the sleeve.  I am very happy with how it came out.   

I also used the square collar directions that came in the package - I probably would NOT do that again.   Especially with the thin fabric I was using - it was very wonky.  Next time I am rethinking construction of the collar.  I also made my own sleeves after reading reviews of the pattern.  I also chose to hem the pattern right below the knee.  

The back is a perfect fit - and super comfy.
 This collar looks a lot better in pictures than in reality, below:
 The dress on my PGM dressform, below:
My final thought is that this pattern is drafted ridiculously well.  I made only minor changes overall.  Apparently, it has been redrafted from the original pattern in today's sizes by Decades of Styles - which I love.  It took me a week to make this dress after the toile.  True, I was post-surgery, but I have read that other bloggers have sewn it up in less than four hours.  I don't see that - even without underlining - but I do tend to dawdle with my sewing.   This dress I really focused on construction techniques - and I still wasn't 100 percent happy with the execution.  Yes, I would definitely make this again, most likely with vintage-insprired fabric.
P.S.  I missed my opportunity posing like the original with a broom - I must do a derivative post now:)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Follow P&theps on Bloglovin

Dear readers,

Google reader is shutting down July 1st - feel free to follow me on Bloglovin.

Just click this link:  Pammieandtheps on Bloglovin

Thanks and I'll see you there!


Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Dear readers,

I am merely testing out the bloglovin site, and "claiming" my blog.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Review of Free Craftsy Class on Mastering Zipper Techniques

Dear readers,

I'm stuck in bed (mostly) convalescing from minor foot surgery.  So, I cannot sew, or really do anything sitting yet - but what I can do:  finally watch my Craftsy classes while I put off finishing knitting projects!

First one up - a class featuring Sunni from A Fashionable Stitch -  on Mastering Zipper Techniques.  I previously bought gorgeous sewing pressing hams from her and love them still.
The class was free at Craftsy Online Classes  - I wasn't totally sure what I would learn from the class at first.  I am already signed up for the zipper class at ASG in Arlington this summer.  But I was confounded at the amount of knowledge I gained.  And no, I am not on percocet.

The highlights:

1)  Sunni uses a extremely fine non-woven fusible to interface her all three zipper techniques. This interfacing is fusible and 1 1/4 inches wide (perfect for 5/8 seam zippers).  Here is where you can find it - Sunni's shop - or direct from the Emma Seabrooke (who lives in Islamorada in the Florida Keys).

2) The zipper instruction includes slot seam zippers, with and without lining, invisible zippers, with and without lining, and finally a lapped zipper insertion.

3) I learned I was putting on my waistband in an awkward way when using a lining of a skirt and inserting an invisible zipper.  I learned apparently from dastardly pattern instructions.  This is worth viewing alone.   She shows a fantastic technique (that will require that your pattern pieces and waistband be close to perfect, however) where the zipper and back waist is finished first all by machine rather than by hand.

4)  I never thought I would want to do a lapped zipper - but she makes it seem so easy and exquisite.

5)  For both zippers, lapped and slot seam, other than the invisible - she uses 1/4" Steam-a-Seam Tape (available everywhere) to effectively baste the zipper.  I'm going to have to invest in this.  I use wonder tape and it never does a good job.  Too gunky - I end up changing needles frequently.  Wonder tape out/Steam-a-Seam In.
6) I need to buy an invisible zipper foot - specifically Bernina #35.  I can't believe I don't have one - I'm a bit of a foot addict.

7)  I learned finally how to finish the back seam of the skirt flawlessly, with or without lining.  The tails of my zippers are always wonky and rarely are perfect - now that I see by video how she does it, while she provides tips.   I think my execution now will improve!

Highly recommended! And, I viewed all the lessons in one evening about 2 hours.  They are short but somewhat time consuming, nonetheless.

I'm already through lesson 3 on the Craftsy class - The Classic Tailored Shirt!

How did we ever recover from sickness or injury before the internet??


Monday, June 10, 2013

New Years Goals: Almost half way through where do I stand?

Dear Readers,

I am apparently, revising my New Years goals - I'm home for two weeks following some minor foot surgery and eventually hope to make something (or finish that day dress!).  I've come a long way on my goals so now I am adding some "embellishments."

1.  Expand my knitting skills.  (Update: Complete, except for sweater - I learned DPNs, fingerless mitts (1 set down - the second set, Suzie's below are 35% complete), hat and socks, and bought a craftsy sweater class).  Expansion:  I bought an complete fleece (saddle and sides) from my office colleague (it's grey/rose and soft) - I may learn to also spin once I have the fleece treated!

 The above pattern is free, Susie's Reading Mitts, available at Ravelry (Thanks Tanya of Sew Sassy Again for the link to this pattern).

The class I bought is below, Celtic Cables, from the talented Irish Knitting Designer, Carol Feller, whose blog is stolen stitches, to learn to do a Aran sweater (yes, my obsession with Irish culture continues).  However, I have not bought the yarn quite yet.  
2.  Perfect a button down dress shirt.  I purchased a craftsy course:  The Classic Tailored Shirt by Pam Howard. I plan to make my own pattern with my sloper.  Update:  Materials all bought - need to sew.
3.  Make a tailored jacket - like the Colette Patterns, Anise.  This will take some hand tailoring skills.  Sarai of Colette Patterns has a wonderful Anise Sew-Along.  I love Colette Patterns. Update: I am going to try to squeeze in my green fabric - I have all the materials necessary after becoming discouraged and stopping because I perceived that I didn't have enough fabric.  Thanks for the comments readers.  I do plan to make a toile first.

4.  Sew at least one Wearing History/Decades of Style/Hotpatterns' garment.  I'm not sure which but one of the below!  Although I've owned these independent designers' patterns for awhile - I've never taken the plunge to sew them up! (Update:  Day dress toile made and altered - need to sew it up).  

5.  Stash and Pattern Busting.  Bust some of my stash and get through some of the fabulous fabric I own waiting to be made up into a wearable garment, either from my slopers or my abundance of patterns.  This is not my current stash below, believe me - it' (Update:  I gave some fabric to the Breast Cancer sewing group - and am using stash materials - so I'm trying!).

6.  Expansion:  Learn to hand embroider.  Yep I said it.  Hand-embroider.  I know my machine, the Bernina 430 has the option to buy the machine embroidery unit (pricey - and the deal - killer - I have a Mac rather than Windows) - but hand-embroidery is just as nice and a bit funkier. 

7.  Expansion:  Learn to play the ukulele - Learning to play does help when my BFF/SO  is a professional musician.  I bought a Hawaiian Ukulele (Concert Koaloha) in early March after buying a ukulele for J. for Christmas and using his.  We can already play about 20 songs already (tabs/chords).  I am amazed - especially since I can't read a note of music or play any other instruments.   I will post a video when I can of J. and I - we formed a uke duo.   Bring on the camp.  Our favorites:  Island in the Sun, Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head, All My Loving, Love Me Do, Stand by Me, Take Me Home Country Roads, and Surfing U.S.A.  The great thing about ukulele is you are allowed to have fun, and not take yourself too seriously. 

Readers, how are you doing mid-year with your goals?  Any revisions?  


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

RIP Kerry Blue Terrier Extraordinaire Paddy McGee

Dear readers,

I am heartbroken to report that our elder Kerry Blue Terrier Paddy passed away after an intense battle with spinal pain and injury for the past 14 days (from apparent degenerative spinal bone loss (the vets and our family suspected cancer of the spine without confirmation) not from a specific event, we think).   He was almost 12.
I adopted him at 6 after his doctor dog parents both had Alzheimer's; he went into the Southern California rescue group after escaping from his guardian and surviving a severe attack by another dog.  We loved him, and taught him the virtues of hiking and frolicking on the beach which he loved (his favorite was Rincon).  He loved riding in the car, and I tried to take him on many car rides.  He was a loyal friend - and the first dog I adopted on my own.  I was in Vegas when I made the decision upon seeing his picture - I knew he was the one.  I loved him from the time I set eyes on him when he came to visit and stayed.
You never know when life is going to change so suddenly.  Just a little over two weeks ago he was fine, he had slowed down considerably (very stoic and good boy) since his birthday in October).

I love you Paddy and will miss you horribly.

XOXO, Pammie