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Archive for April, 2013

OMG WHEN IS THIS SHOWING COMING TO THE STATES?!!?

I started reading Tilly’s blog “Tilly and the Buttons” earlier this year and found out about ‘The Great British Sewing Bee‘ (don’t click the link unless you want spoilers!) through her blog (because she was a contestant, how cool is that!?). I remember thinking, “oh man, I wish I could watch this show”. Then the other week Gertie mentioned watching the show on YouTube, so I checked it out over the weekend and was totally hooked. COMPLETELY HOOKED! Except there are only FOUR episodes and at the time only 3 had aired.

I missed the start of the recent Project Runway season so I haven’t been watching. However, based on some reviews I have read recently it sounds like this season ain’t so good. I had been getting a bit bothered at the amount of blatant advertising and the contestants seem to get wackier and less relate-able with each season so perhaps it’s a good thing I missed this season.

Which brings me back to TGBSB. It’s adorable! In case you haven’t seen it, here’s a quick rundown.

There are only 2 judges on this show: Patrick and some other lady (I can’t remember her name). Patrick is the younger and hotter version of  Tim Gunn (sorry, Tim!) and he has a British accent {swoon!} Both judges are so sweet and their criticism is constructive without coming off as catty. The host is a lady (damn, can’t remember her name either….can you tell who I am focused on the most???) and I can’t quite tell if she is familiar with sewing or if she asks simple questions for the benefit of a novice viewer. Regardless, she is too nice as well. She’s not a Tim Gunn replacement because instead of giving advice she’ll tell the contestants how she feels, mainly about how much she’s loving something. How nice, right?

Lady Judge, Lady Host, and Patrick!

Lady Judge, Lady Host, and Patrick!

In the middle of the episode the show will go into a bit of history about sewing, which is quite informative. For instance, in one episode it was explained how patterns came into existence. Near the end of the episode, a “simple” home project is explained for the viewers. The projects seem “simple” enough, but the process is quite simplified to the point where I don’t think any novice sewist would ever be able to see the sample project and be able to construct the exact same thing. In one episode, it was explained how to make your own curtains. I laughed through the whole demonstration because they were running through the steps so fast.

But back to the competition. Unlike Project Runway, where contestants are usually given one daunting garment/outfit to construct in one or two days per round, these contestants go through 3 different tasks per round. The tasks increase in difficulty and it appears the judges take all three tasks into account when making their final decision of who to eliminate. Usually the first task involves a simple garment made from a provided pattern. The second task is a refashion and the third task is a more detailed garment they have to fit on a model. However, the contestants were apparently made aware of the third garment ahead of time so they could pick a pattern and theoretically practice before having to make it on the show.

8 contestants started the show and 2 contestants have been eliminated per round. Our dear Tilly was unfortunately bounced in the second episode. I think her downfall was being too ambitious, which is too bad because you gotta appreciate someone who really pushes themselves to excel.

I’m pretty sure my husband thought I was a total nerd for watching this show, but eventually he started watching it with me and he COULD NOT STOP TALKING  about Stuart’s vest. I had joked awhile ago that I should make him a vest like the one a character wears in the show ‘Justified’. He seemed to like the idea, but then he became totally smitten with Stuart’s vest and now he wants one NOW! Oh boy, what have I gotten myself into?

I can’t wait to watch the finale of TGBSB! And, yes, I would totally apply for the show if it was held in the States. My husband thinks I should apply for the show even if it’s held in England….um, I don’t think that would be allowed…..

Anyway, watch the show! It’s delightful! They have tea during their breaks! And they all have amazing accents! It’ll make you walk around the house saying “haberdashery” and wishing you could use it in everyday conversation with your non-sewing friends.

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I just couldn’t resist any longer. Over the weekend I finally bought Ayumi’s book, ‘Patckwork, Please!‘.

{side note: my husband can’t stop saying it like this: “Patckwork? PUH-LEASE!” He’s also the guy who will always say, “I have Du-puis” when we watch a hockey game involving the Pittsburgh Penguins and the announcer mentions Pascal Dupuis. Also, he never fails to say, “I guess he’s just in a bit of a pickle” when we watch a game involving the San Jose Sharks and the announcer mentions Vlasic’s name. *sigh* he’s such a goofball, but aren’t we all 😉 }

We spent Saturday afternoon at The Grove and Farmer’s Market having lunch and picking up some goodies. There is a Barnes and Noble at The Grove so I insisted we stop by since I may have checked earlier in the week if the book was in stock (it was!). It took a bit longer than I anticipated to find the book because a sneaky stock person placed it in the knitting section instead of the sewing section so I had a moment of panic when I couldn’t find it. I felt so smart and victorious when I found the book.

I knew I needed to make a project from this book ASAP or else it would just sit on my bookshelf for weeks and months. The main reason I was hesitant to start on these projects is because I don’t think I have the “right” fabrics. I don’t have quite the fabric stash that most of the quilting blogging universe appears to have. I don’t have any quirky text prints or linens and most of the fabric I have runs on the darker side, but I made do with what I had. All of the fabric I used was purchased at Momen+.

I made one bell pepper coaster and one pincushion.

Pincushion Top

I have one small, itty bitty gripe with the book. I would have preferred if all the templates were positioned close to the book’s free edge. In some cases, the templates are closer to the bound edge and there is text closer to the free edge. Why couldn’t they have switched positions??? I don’t like “cracking” a book’s bind, it sorta pains me when I have to make creases in bound books. In this case I have to really open the book in order to make sure the template is copied correctly. Thankfully, most of the templates are drawn to scale so you don’t need to worry about magnifying the copies. However, I noticed one template needs to be copied at 133% magnification and my home printer doesn’t offer that magnification size, so I’ll have to go to a copier store.

Top of Coaster

I was too lazy to change the top-stitching thread to match the light fabric. I sorta like the contrast, although I would have liked it better if my top-stitching was even….whoops!

I have to admit that these two items took me way longer than I had anticipated. This was my first foray into paper piecing and I didn’t quite read through all of the instructions in the sample block. My points aren’t perfect, mainly because I think my grid ruler is a bit off, which caused my traced templates to be off in size. However, as Ayumi explains in the intro part, you shouldn’t have “perfect” projects when you start because improving your work is part of the fun of paper piecing. And she’s right! I’m excited to make more and improve my technique. After having completed these two items, especially the pincushion, I feel way more confident in tackling more paper pieced projects. I really want to try freezer paper piecing next.

Side View of Pincushion

The projects in this book are so freaking adorable. This book inspires me to collect fabric based on colors and scale of prints. I just found out a good friend of mine is expecting so I’m definitely going to whip up some bibs from this book. Now I just need to get my hands on more fabric….

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Bailey turned 1 year old yesterday (in human years)! We adopted Bailey in late June 2012 from the LA Animal Shelter. I walked by every cage and while most kittens were sleeping or mewing incessantly, little Bailey was the only kitten who walked up to the front of the cage and even stood up on his hind legs. I knew immediately that he was the one meant for our little family.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of a photo taken about 1 week after we adopted him and another photo taken today.

Happy Birthday, Bailey

According to WiiFit (yes, this is how we weight ourselves), he went from 4 pounds to 12 pounds!! (He actually topped 13 pounds a month ago.) Bailey has grown considerably in the almost 9 months we’ve had him! I used to think it was adorable when he would splay across my neck while I was sleeping. Now, I can barely breathe when he does it. He also used to be tiny enough to sleep on an extra pillow behind my head, but not anymore 😦

Sometimes he has too much energy and he definitely knows how to push our buttons. He still likes to bite a lot, but thankfully he has never hissed at us. No matter how irritated we (mainly my husband) get at him, at the end of the day how could we ever stay mad at something this cute?

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Completed Sewaholic Patterns Minoru Jacket!

Ahhhh, a finished object! I’m thrilled I finally finished something other than a skirt (especially since I can count on one hand the number of times I wore a skirt last year). I thought I was going to finish the Cambie dress first, but after buying fabric for the Minoru Jacket I couldn’t wait to get started on it. Here is what it looks like all zipped up:

Minoru Jacket

I have no idea why I’m making that expression. My dad has an uncanny ability to capture my best faces.

Here is a description of my sewing process and any alterations I made:
I opted not to make a muslin because (a) Sewaholic patterns are pretty close to my size without major alterations, (b) Lauren of Lladybird made one in a Size 0 without alterations and her posted measurements are close to mine, and (c) I am way too lazy to make a muslin. I cut a size 2 for all the pieces, but I did some major shortening to accommodate my height (I’m 4’11”). I shortened the front, back, and sleeve pieces approximately 3″. I wanted a jacket that would cover most, if not all, of my tush, but not extend too far past it. The hem unintentionally ended up being about 3″ because I accidentally cut the plackets too short, but the length turned out fine. But, I gotta admit that the entire time I was sewing, I kept praying the jacket would fit, especially in the shoulder/armhole area.

Minoru Jacket

Just long enough to cover my tush. My mom took this photo, which is why it’s posed a bit better.

I also used different zipper lengths to accommodate the shortening. The pattern called for a 28″ zipper in the front and an 18″ zipper for the collar. However, when I was shopping for zippers I held them in front of me and around my neck and the recommended sizes seemed so big on me. I decided that a 24″ zipper for the front was long enough and I went with a 14″ zipper for the collar, although at the time I was not exactly 100% sure how the shorter collar zipper would affect the construction of the collar and hood. Turns out using a smaller zipper is totally doable. I lined up the hood side seams with the length of the zipper, which means the hood is slightly gathered at the ends when you sew the hood to the collar. While I don’t think the shorter collar zipper is disastrous, I do think the hood would look better with an 18″ zipper length.

Minoru Jacket  Fully Hooded

You can see that the hood is slightly gathered at the end of the zipper due to using a shorter zipper length than what was recommended in the pattern. No biggie!

Even though I shortened the jacket length considerably, the 24″ zipper does not extend the full length of the jacket from the top of the collar to the bottom of the jacket. The top of the zipper is a couple inches below the top of the collar. When I was shopping for zippers I didn’t realize how high the collar would be, which is why I initially thought a 28″ zipper was way too long. If you want the zipper to extend all the way to the top of the collar, then you do want to use a 28″ long zipper, even if you’re short like me.

I read several reviews of this jacket before making it, which I highly recommend so you can get ideas and tips. I especially like the idea of including side seam pockets and lining the hood, although I’m not 100% thrilled with the placement or size of the pockets I added. (I’ll fix it next time!)

Another tip other sewists suggested was to line the inside of the collar because you can see the “inside” of the collar when you take the hood out. I kept that tip in mind and even cut an extra collar lining piece, but ended up not using it. The wrong side of my jacket fabric looks almost identical to the right side so I opted not to line the inside of the collar. Howevah, there is one thing I want to fix with the hood/collar, which is add bias binding to the hood/collar seam. When I take out the hood you can peek into the collar and see the unfinished seam. The fabric I used for lining frays a ridiculous amount and I’m sure it’ll get out of hand the more I wear the jacket.

As I mentioned above, I shortened the sleeves by about 3″. I was worried the sleeves would be too tight once I attached the lining so I ended up starting with a 5/8″ seam allowance at the armhole and, sorta quickly, transitioned down to a 3/8″ seam allowance for most of the sleeve. The extra 1/4″ of room definitely feels better. I added the cuff to the sleeve, but opted not to add the elastic in the cuff.

Here is a peek of the lining and of the one inside pocket that I sized to fit my phone.

Minoru Jacket Fully Lined

I have no idea what I’m doing in this photo. Again, my dad took this photo and he just kept snapping away while I kept squinting.

Materials:
Main Fabric: Organic Cotton Twill (Plum color, I think) from Mood. The fabric is supposed to be 60″ wide, but after washing it seemed to measure in at 50″.

Thread: In case you want to use the same color, I used Guterman thread color #445 and it blends right in.

Lining Fabric: Iridescent Maroon/Greenish Fabric from Mood (the tag was missing from this roll of fabric so I’m not quite sure what it is exactly. I searched online for it and everything in the “iridescent” search result is around $12-18/yard, but the guy rang it up as acetate for $3/yard. Either I got a great deal or I’m using total crap for the lining. All I know is, I loved the color and had to have it, but the fabric was a total pain to work with). Based on the photo online, it looks closest to this fabric in color, but I have a hard time believing that what I used was silk chiffon.  Here is a close-up photo of the fabric post-wash:

Cotton Twill+Lining

Zippers: 24″ separating and 14″ closed zippers Coats and Clark brand purchased at International Silks and Woolens

Hours to Make: A lot. I didn’t want to keep count because I didn’t want to get discouraged. I cut the main fabric one Saturday evening. The following day I finished steps 1-9 and cut the lining pieces. I probably did a solid 5-6 hours of sewing that day. All day I kept thinking I could have finished the jacket the same day if I had started early in the morning and didn’t take any breaks, but now I’m not so sure. I finished the rest of the jacket over the course of several evenings the following week.

I gotta say, even though this jacket took a lot of time, I LOVE IT! And the best part is I received a ton of compliments from my family when I showed them the jacket. I thought they were going to say, ‘oh that looks nice…[let’s talk about something else now]‘, but instead they were stunned! Seriously, people, Sewaholic Patterns are exceptional! They’ll make you feel like you belong on Project Runway. My dad was so excited he got his camera and insisted on taking photos (see above) AND I even made it onto his FB wall. Hahah! He rarely posts stuff, so I feel pretty special that he thought my jacket was worth posting about on FB (although he did post the one photo where I’m making a really goofy face, but I guess most of the photos he took are of me making a weird face). I really want to make another one, but this time without a hood.

And as a reward for finally finishing a pretty awesome garment, I treated myself to the Robson Trench Coat. Treat Yo’ Self 2013!!! I have visions of a polka dot trench coat…

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I’m not the biggest fan of April Fools’ Jokes. However, this year I thought there were some good jokes done by big companies. A friend alerted me to Sony’s Animalia Line, which includes Kitty Headphones and Dog TVs.

Then later in the day a different friend shared REI’s April Fools’ Joke on Facebook:

REI April Fools Joke 2013

REI April Fools Joke 2013

AWWMIGOD! COULD THIS BE ANY CUTER?!!?!? I about died from cuteness overload. Here are a couple more items for your adventurous kitty:

REI April Fools Joke Kitty Tools

My Bailey could really use a tiny little machete! I had to take screenshots of the website just in case it gets taken down in the future, especially since the “deal” is only valid on 4/1/2013. Here’s the official announcement from the REI Facebook page:

REI April Fools Joke Facebook Page

I can’t stop cracking up when I look at that sweet little kitty in the ad. Oh man, how I wish it was possible to take my cat hiking….

Anyone else see any good April Fools’ jokes?

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