Just do it right: Tracing Darts


Often, I’m tempted to speed past the initial steps of seeing because I’m anxious to get to the more exciting parts, like trying on a finished garment.

I’m particularly lazy when it comes to darts, even though they are the curvaceous girl’s best friend. More often than not, I just snip to mark the legs of the dart, sick a pin in the tip, and eyeball it at the sewing machine. The results can be less than perfect.

So here’s me telling myself to do it right. It’s not like getting out a tracing wheel and paper takes any longer than snipping and pinning. And the results are far superior. Straight lines. Darts of equal length. Just do it right. Trace your darts.

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Backpack from overalls


Gideon is about to go on his first overnight backpacking trip, and needed a little backpack that could carry a few snacks and a water bottle. I was going to make him a pack from scratch, but spotted a pair of his outgrown overalls and decided to see if I could whip up some upcycle magic.

First, I cut off the legs just above the crotch curve. The back of the overalls didn’t match the shape of the front, I opened up one leg to cut a piece that could fill in the missing area.


I serged the raw edges and turned under the seam allowance on the sides, then sewed the patch to the back, leaving space around the sides and top to attach the zipper.



I used a long separating zipper that I got at the Pendleton Woolen Mill outlet store in Portland for something like ten cents. The separating nature of the zipper made it very easy to apply. I just had to make sure I lined up the corners of the front and back. I used the three-step zig zag to attach the zipper tape, mitering the corners. I probably should have changed thread colors, but, let’s face it, I’m making a backpack out of overalls.


I tucked in the ends of the zipper tape and tacked them down, maneuvering around the studs.


Finally, I sewed the bottom closed and sewed across each corner at pocket level to give the pack a rectangular bottom.


And here it is. Less than an hour from start to finish, and virtually free.

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Alabama Studio Style

I knew that I had seen something about Alabama Chanin on one of my blogs several months ago, and while I liked what I saw, it didn’t blow me away. When I saw the book on the “New Books” shelf at the library, though, I decided to check it out, and am I glad I did!

This book is gorgeous, and has already provided loads of inspiration for my own crafting endeavors. It provides one basic pattern, from which you can make a tank top, dress, tunic, or skirt. It being a library book, I gingerly picked off the glue holding it into the back of the book, traced the pattern carefully and returned it to its original state. Now I just have to scrounge up 6 yards of cotton jersey to try it out.

Alabama Chanin is known for hand-sewing, stenciling, and embellishment, and the book covers several of their original techniques in detail. I am so glad that Natalie Chanin chose to share the information, rather than keeping it a trade secret, as so many businesses are wont to do.

The truth is that it’s a good business move to share her techniques, because she will make a lot of money selling the book to home crafters who could never afford one of her couture dresses. Her designs are beautiful and wearable, and I can’t wait to try one out!

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SewMamaSew Serger Contest

SewMamaSew, that fabulous repository of useful sewing knowledge and impossibly cute fabrics, is giving away a serger! Here’s why I should be the one to win it:

Dear Sew, Mama, Sew Editorial Board,

1. I have an adorable child:

2. Pretty much all of his clothes are secondhand.

3. I’d really like to make him some new clothes, especially out of his daddy’s old shirts, just for him.

4. I am really excited about trying a serger, and I think it would really help my home economics, since I’m sewing most of our clothes these days, or at least, trying to.

5. I just bought an old serger off of Craigslist, and it’s broken, and nobody carries the replacement part. Or maybe they do, and I can’t afford it. I’m not really sure, because it’s broken in such a way that I can’t tell what it looked like originally.

I’ve trolled all the serger replacement part websites, and they seem to be run by people who take pride in photographing small metal items, providing incomprehensible descriptions, and offering no advice on where said items actually attach to the machines they are made for.

Did I make you cry? I’m about to.

Suffering from unfulfilled serger anguish,


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Starting Out With Acrylic Paints

So I think the tagline of this blog should switch from “crafted fashion” to “whatever random thing I’m interested in at this moment.” Hmm… not a bad idea, really. Maybe I can get my webmaster to help me with a site redesign.

In the spirit of change, I am, as you may or may not know, on a painting kick at the moment. I always start out these things hoping that this will be THE ONE. The ultimate art. The craft that Speaks To My Soul.

The problem is, my soul has ADD.

Hence, painting. Since I started a little over a month ago, I have learned a lot about paints and pigments and mediums. I’ve chosen to mainly use acrylic paints, since they can be cleaned up with soap and water, don’t produce fumes, and don’t take forever to dry.

Essentially, all fine art media use the same pigments to achieve color. Acrylic paints are made from the same pigments as watercolor and oil paints, and pastels. The only difference among the different media is the binder. In watercolors, it’s gum arabic, in oil paints, it’s linseed or vegetable oil, and in pastels it’s chalk, clay, wax, or oil. In acrylic paints, the binder is acrylic polymer, which is water soluble when wet. When they dry, which can be in as little as a minute, depending on the thickness of the layer, they are permanent, flexible, and waterproof.

And the color. Oh, the color! Over the next few posts, I’ll be showing you some color charts I made based on nine different colors: three reds, three blues, and three yellows. I’m trying to stick to a limited palette in each painting that I do, but I’m also trying to test out a bunch of different colors to see which ones I want in my limited palette.

I’m also learning, as I go along, about the different paint companies and the different qualities of their paints. Dick Blick has been invaluable, because their website is packed with information and they carry nearly every brand of paint imaginable. I’ve also been learning by trial and error, testing out different brands of paint and seeing which ones suit me and which don’t.

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Knitscene Fall 2010

The new Knitscene is up. I am beginning to conclude that I like this magazine better than its parent, Interweave Knits. The patterns just seem much more wearable, not to mention knittable. I love the Balsam Jacket and want to immediately buy the yarn to make one in my size.

This brings up my current crafting crisis–namely, I have too many crafts. Right now, my passion is painting, but I need to get ready for the Bash, so I have to do a lot of metalwork, which I also enjoy, which makes me want to make some jewelry, and it all spins ’round again. Also, I’m itching to torch some glass.

I know, boo hoo. I’m complaining that I have too many toys. Get a life, Lo.

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Frantz Bash Vendor!

I’m going to have a vendor table at the 2010 Frantz Glass Bash on Aug 21. My mom and I went last year–the demonstrations were great, the glass was awesome, and the food was to-die-for. There were a few people selling glass beads, one tent of tribal-ey stones and stuff, and Double Helix was selling odd lots and seconds. All in all, it was awesome, and I would have had a really good time if I hadn’t been seven months pregnant.

Well, this year, I decided to ask for a vendor’s table myself. I’ll be selling dyed silk ribbons, felted ropes, and hand-hammered silver, copper, and bronze components and focals. I’m so excited! I need to build up my inventory over the next few weeks, so I’ll be posting my creations here as I go. Wish me luck!

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Paints from my Grandfather

I hate seeing temples fall. Hate it, hate it, hate it. So it was a pretty sad experience to walk down into my grandparents’ former basement and see what ten years of my Brother and my Dad had done to it. Particularly my Brother.

Grandpa, who died ten years ago, had always kept it spotlessly clean and organized down to the last 10-penny nail. The carefully labeled drawers are still there, mostly filled with their appropriate items, but over everything is a thick layer of junk of various kinds. It’s heartbreaking. I just about cried.

Dad has left my grandfather’s jean jacket hanging from the back of the door. I smelled it–it still smells like him ten years later. A combination of motor oil, sawdust, and old man.

He left two neatly labeled boxes of paints, one oil and one acrylic. Some of the tubes are so old I think they’re made of lead. I took all the acrylics that looked usable. So much paint! Four large tubes of titanium white, four of Hansa yellow, two cadmium reds, etc. These are artist-grade paints, too, not student-grade ones like I can afford. There are a lot of paintings sitting in those tubes.

Grandpa was a wonderful painter, though I never saw him do it. He mostly worked in oils, and made dark-colored, impressionist renderings of the various places the family lived in Europe while Dad was growing up.

So I’ve taken up acrylic painting. I’m not very good at it. I don’t know if I will ever be. But I have Grandpa’s paints. I think it will be good to let them back out of their tubes, to see what will happen.

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Simplicity 3852

Three rules of sewing for babies:
1. There are few commercial patterns for boy babies. (Except Burda) May I also say that there are few commercial patterns for men? (Except Burda)
2. Babies actively fight against the idea of “sewing time.”
3. By the time one finishes a sewing project for a baby, he will have grown out of it. Or nearly so.

I present Simplicity 3852, the ultimate multi-size pattern–everything from newborn to grown man. Gideon fits it perfectly today. Tomorrow it will probably be too small. And I made three of them for the summer. Gah.

Cute, though, eh? I also made the men’s version for Tim.

Pattern Notes: I’d call this an intermediate pattern, since it contains several tailored elements, such as a front placket, collar, and the insertion of snaps or snap tape. The instructions were fairly clear, though I admit I didn’t follow them 100%.

The romper, which I made in size medium, fits 19-lb Gideon perfectly. The gathered legs are a cute detail, and the collar fits his chubby baby neck just fine. There are convenient crotch snaps, which is not apparent from the pattern envelope.

The man’s shirt is very straight, with a nice yoke, but front fachings (yech). Tim seems to like the facings, though, so there’s no accounting for taste. If I make it again, I will draft proper button bands and dispense with the facing. It does not fit Tim particularly well, except in the shoulders, but this has more to do with the fact that Tim doesn’t fit the pattern company’s ideal than with any fault in the pattern.

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