Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Take That, Jeb Bush!

It's not Asian Pacific American Heritage Month until May, but indulge me here and allow me to get on my soapbox for a spell.

Right before we moved away from TCOCC, I was on a roll with Historical Sew Fortnightly challenges. I was only working part time, I lived near the LA Fabric District and FIDM and its inspirational garments, and I had plenty of creative energy. I was actually in the middle of making my rich lady pirate ensemble (completed the coat, waistcoat, and shirt, still need to make pants and a cravat) when we moved, but then I started working full time again and then we were house-hunting and then I got pregnant and then I had SHB...and now here I am two years later, finally getting back into things. The HSF has turned into the Historical Sew Monthly, which is definitely an easier time frame, and I've been stewing this idea in my mind for almost a year -- plenty of time to do research and more research and then some thinking and wait, better do a little more research just in case!

What made me decide to finally take the plunge and get to sewing? Well, I'd already been thinking about sinking my teeth into a non-knit project, but then Jeb Bush went and lit a fire under my tail with his comments about "anchor babies" and Asian-Americans. While I have been fortunate to grow up in San Francisco and attend public schools with large APA populations (unlike many APAs, I have never had to be "the Asian kid"), I have definitely experienced my share of othering statements like "No, where are you really from?" and "Wow, your English is so good!" I've sat through more stories of that-one-time-I-went-to-an-Asian-country-you-look-Asian-so-you-probably-want-to-hear-about-it than I care to remember, and when it's time to play the what-celebrity-do-you-look-like-most game, most people would probably just default to Lucy Liu because she's the only really well-known Asian-American actress (although there was also Anna May Wong in the 1930s!).

Just yesterday Mr. Cation and I tried to think if there were any Asian-American superheroes (and not just the one-dimensional Asian Sexy Dragon Lady/Ninja/Bruce Lee Type tropes), and all we came up with were B-list heroes like Jubilee, Wind Dragon, and Dana Tan (who is not even a superhero, just a superhero's girlfriend). Granted, we're only semi-into superheroes, but that's still pretty sad. While I love that there are more APAs in diverse fields now (instead of the stereotypical STEM fields, we've got Margaret Cho, Elaine Chao, and Jeremy Lin!), there aren't many APAs who are just cool. Okay, I guess Jeremy Lin is cool if you're a teenage boy, but I mean cool like "full of thrilling heroics," not "I can put a ball through a hoop."


So when I came across the mention of Hazel Ying Lee in this random HuffPo article about famous Chinese-Americans, I was intrigued. An APA aviatrix? Who served as a WASP in WWII?! How have I never heard of her before? Especially when she has the same name as my mom! Okay, that doesn't make us related or anything, but I'm still going to claim her and others who served our country (heeeeey look, this other aviatrix has the same name as my aunt!) as part of my Chinese-American heritage.  All this to say, I made some old-timey aviatrix jodhpurs.

And now, without the belt and boots so that you can see the waist and lacings better. In bare feet, I felt like some kind of weird hobbit-pilot. 
A close-up of the waist. I'm really pleased at how neatly it all came together!

This might be the nicest facing job I've ever done. 

And a look at the lacing on the outseam. 

The inside. I didn't finish my seam allowances, but that was somewhat common at the time so I feel okay about it. 

I looked at many, many extant garments from the 1920s-1940s, and since I've never felt tied to strict historical accuracy, I boiled it all down to just a few must-haves to really get the idea across: military color (either tan, brown, olive, or dark green), side openings with buttons, buttons or laces at the outside of the knee, and that patched-on reinforcement on the inside of the leg. I didn't have a pattern and didn't want to just use this cheater method, so I went uber-historical and drafted my own pattern following these original 1912 instructions, with additional help from this 1908 drafting book for clarification. That's a couple decades earlier than my aimed-for 1930s look, but I was hoping that maybe jodhpurs were one of those garments that hadn't changed too much. Here's what my original draft looked like:

Yes, I do my drafts on the back of wrapping paper.
It's cheap and large, and it's already got those handy 1" grids printed on the back! 

And after multiple fittings and modifications, here's what my final pattern looked like:

Except without the darts. 
A comparison of the original center back seam and my new center back seam. 

I ended up eliminating the darts and taking the difference out at the center front and back seams instead, because the darts just looked poofy and hideous on the stiff twill I used, and many extant garments (including Hazel Ying Lee's) don't feature any darts at all. Even so, the final garment is pretty unflattering to my modern eye. And if you're thinking that the above pictures looked fine, that's because you didn't see the back and side view...

Um. What. Can we say hello, excess fabric?

It's like I've got room below my butt for an extra butt. 

I realize that it's supposed to be baggier and roomier than modern pants, but looking at how some 1940s jodhpurs fit, I'm inclined to think that they did get at least a little sleeker between the two world wars. I desperately want to take out some of the extra fabric at the inseam, but it's faux flat-felled and there's that huge applique over it, so I'm just going to say this is a wearable muslin. Besides, if I keep it this way I can use it as the base for a wartime Lady Edith costume. I did end up purchasing this Folkwear costume pattern, based on a 1920s outfit from the Met, so maybe I'll give the slightly-more-modern jodhpurs a try in the future. Despite the unflattering bagginess, I'm actually pretty pleased with myself for actually making these. My brain definitely got a workout, what with the research and drafting and alterations! And of course, I couldn't resist pulling out my circa 2001 leather jacket for an even sillier non-HA aviatrix look.

Old-timey filter!

Anachronistic jacket and boots ftw! 

The Challenge: Heirlooms and Heritage
Fabric: 2 yards of 54" wide poly-cotton forest green twill, fairly stiff and inclined to resist pressing, inherited from a friend's stash
Pattern: self-drafted, following original 1912 instructions, with modifications
Year: 1912, fudged into 1930s
Notions: Eight black 7/8" plastic buttons, 1" wide black petersham ribbon for the binding, black ribbon for the lacing
How historically accurate is it? I'm going to put it at 60%, since it's a real historical pattern, but from slightly earlier, and not strictly historical materials. I got as close as I could while sticking to stash, as I'm going for the look, since I'm trying not to spend money on this. Real jodhpurs from the 1930s seem to be mostly linen or wool, although there are a couple of cotton ones and this one is even a forest green twill! Four buttons for the waist seems to be standard, as is no yoke + facing + belt loops, but the button facings tend to be invisibly attached. The petersham binding should be replaced with twill tape, and the ribbon with actual lacing cord, per this very helpful examination of an extant pair.
Hours to complete: 12, but that's not including the research.
First worn: Just for pictures, and probably not for a long time, if ever. This was more a brain exercise project than anything, but maybe if they have a history day of sorts at school I could give it an outing? Although I'd have to make an aviator cap to go with it.
Total cost: $4 for the buttons, everything else was free from other people's stashes.
Netflix queue: Suitably enough, I watched Ken Burns' epic documentary The West while sewing this, which I heartily recommend not only for the sheer amount of information, but also because it touched on a little known part of Chinese-American history, the Chinese Exclusion Act. I know it can't compare to the long list of crimes committed against Native Americans, nor is it as awful as being enslaved for hundreds of years, but it's definitely one of those things that doesn't get covered enough in US History.
Final thoughts: While I didn't use any heirlooms, and these jodhpurs are only loosely part of my heritage, I think it's still fitting for this challenge. It inspired me to do a lot of research on a less well-known part of history and gave me a sense of pride in my APA identity. While I don't know that these costume jodhpurs will be passed on as an heirloom, I certainly hope that I can pass on that sense of pride in being Asian-American to SHB. I don't want him to grow up in a world that is suspicious of him because he might be an Other who's somehow "taking advantage" of the birthright citizenship amendment. Okay, I'm done politicizing!

And then I had a patriotism fail: I was trying to do one of those saluting poses like you see in the pin-up girl pictures from WWII, but I couldn't figure out why it looked so wrong. After some Googling, I realized I had actually done a "I'm shading my eyes while looking for someone" pose instead of a salute. *facepalm*

Saturday, August 29, 2015

"That Fabric Hurts My Eyes."

I love a good striped fabric, and this narrow navy and white knit with tiny silvery mylar strands woven into it has been waiting in my stash for three years. I originally purchased it with View E of McCall's 6559 in mind, but then I saw McCall's 7121 and, in the words of Barney Stinson, "newer is always better!" It seemed like a good way to make a maxi dress that would make the most of the stripes, while using less fussy cutting than my original idea. Besides, I like the idea of making a Harley Quinn sundress at some point...

It's a little looser at the waist than I'm used to for this kind of dress, and that neckline is weird, but I don't care enough to troubleshoot it. 
There's a teeny bit of swayback going on that I should probably fix in my next version. 

I constructed the dress almost entirely using my serger, with the exception of the hem and the neck and armholes, where the instructions simply said to fold over and stitch. This worked okay, but still slightly sloppy, on the neckline...but looked just pathetically Becky Home-Ecky on the armholes. Maybe it's that my jersey had less stretch to it than necessary for that finish, but I'm inclined to say that anytime you're asked to fold over a smaller circumference and then stitch to a larger circumference, you're going to end up with some amount of weird pulling and messy stitching. I'm kind of sad that I "wasted" this fabric on a dress I don't absolutely love, but I've still got enough fabric left for one of my dolman sleeve tops, and I know I love those.

Hyeeernghhh that armhole stitching. Ugh. And the mess at the V-neck. 
Quick, distract them with chevrons! Okay, never mind, even those aren't perfect. 
At least my knit hems have come a long way, though! Ever since StephC posted about hemming knits with fusible webbing to stabilize them, I've used that method to avoid wavy bumpy bunchy hems like the one on the left. 

Pattern: McCall's 7121
Fabric: Mystery blend (suspected rayon/poly, with some silvery mylar strands in there) jersey knit from Michael Levine Loft, at least three years old. Because of how dense the stripes are, they play all sorts of tricks with the camera (and the naked eye...enough that when I was cutting out the pattern pieces, Mr. Cation said that the fabric hurt his eyes).
Notions: Steam-A-Seam for the hem
Hours: 3...the part that took the longest was cutting (no handy stripe guide like the Tiramisu pattern) and the neckline/armhole. I hate that the instructions just have you fold it over to hem, which doesn't work for the curves of the armholes, and it looks unprofessional.
Total cost: $2
Will you make it again? It's a good pattern for showing off stripes, but I won't make it again unless I have a fabric with bigger stripes. It's just too much trouble trying to line up these tiny 1/8" stripes! I'm also keen on giving that Harley Quinn dress on the pattern envelope a try!
Final thoughts: I was excited about this pattern when I got it, but went through a period of frustration and I'm-sure-this-is-going-to-be-terrible when I was trying to put it together. I should really stop following the directions on a pattern when I know I'm not going to like the finished look! I should've just done my regular binding, but it had been so long since I did this kind of finish that I thought I'd give it a try because yes, it is faster, and maybe I was exaggerating in my head how awful it was? No, no I wasn't. Although the finished dress is fine and I'll certainly wear it, I'll feel more comfortable with a cardigan on to hide the awful armhole stitching! Still, it's a nice enough overall effect.

Speaking of the cardigan, it's the one that comes with McCall's 7135, a Khaliah Ali jumpsuit pattern (and the original reason why I bought it). It's the first time I've ever sewn a shawl collar, and it was a lot easier than I expected, although invisibly hand-stitching down the collar seams like more work than warranted for an "easy" knit pattern. The cardigan definitely runs big in the arm and armscye, but since it's a very basic navy blue, I'm sure I'll wear it a lot anyway.

You can see here how thin this fabric is, as the stripes of the dress are faintly visible. 

Pattern: McCall's 7135
Fabric: Rayon tissue knit, leftover from this dress
Notions: None
Hours: 1.5, with most of the time spent trying to fiddle the slippery fabric into place at the collar while stitching it down
Total cost: $1
Will you make it again? I'd like to try it again with a modified sleeve and a thicker, more stable knit...maybe a sweater knit?
Final thoughts: A cardigan in a tissue knit seems silly, but it works perfectly for school, where my lab classroom doesn't have functional air conditioning but my lecture classroom does, so I can layer and transition appropriately. I just wish the sleeves were tight enough to roll up, since having SHB = always having to roll up my sleeves to deal with messes.

I'm pretty sure I could fit two of my spindly arms into the sleeve, it's so Saggy Baggy Elephant!

Mediocre projects like these make me feel a little off my game with sewing. Maybe it's that I took such a long break from it because of SHB, or that mommy brain means I'm not as sharp as I was, but I really feel like I need a project that I can sink my teeth into. Only problem is, I'm usually too mentally tired to think about anything that difficult or long-term, so then I just spend my sewing time on silly little knit projects that turn out serviceable but not at all exciting (okay, the cat sweatshirt was exciting, but not technically difficult at all!). In some ways, it's not dissimilar to those articles about people living in poverty experiencing decision fatigue, but way less serious, of course.

Does anyone else ever go through this? i.e. real life (in my case, still adjusting to being a mother while working, which I know millions of people do all the time, so maybe I'm just a wuss who can't get it together) is so tiring that they just do second-rate things that aren't what they really want to be doing with their little spare time? How do you deal with it? Other working moms, how do you find time to have a life? Where do you get the mental reserves to sew Chanel jackets and tailor blazers and fit historical gowns and research new costumes? Actually no, scratch that last one -- I am so good at research -- because it's taking the research and actually putting it to use that's the difficult part for me!

From (the sadly long dead) Fyeah Seamstress Tiger tumblr. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

"Vivir con miedo, es como vivir a medias!"

Strictly Ballroom was my favorite movie when I was a senior in high school. My best friends and I were crazy about ballroom dancing and boys, so what's not to love about a cheesy movie featuring an ugly duckling who turns into a swan and gets to ballroom dance with the boy of her dreams? It's like Baz Luhrmann was trying to craft a movie specifically to appeal to us! Anyway, the key line from the film is when Fran goads Scott into dancing with her by telling him "A life lived in fear is a life half-lived!" What does that have to do with sewing? No, I'm not making ballroom dresses.

Two years ago, Mr. Cation gave me a serger for his birthday because he is a wonderful hobbit man. At first I was excited about serging All The Things, but then I got scared because of all the stories about how tricky it is to thread sergers and figure out tension and hey THERE'S A KNIFE THAT MOVES and what if I accidentally cut off my finger? So I kept making excuses for not figuring it out, like how we were moving into a new apartment so I didn't want to unpack it yet...and then the school year started and then I got pregnant and was tired all the time and then I had SHB and was really tired all the time, and before you know it, two years passed and the serger was still sitting in its nice box, and I was still scared. Finally I decided that enough was enough; it was silly to have a perfectly good serging sitting in a box just because I was afraid of messing it up. After all, a life lived in fear is a life half-lived and all. If studying the manual and reading the numerous blog posts sounded too overwhelming, I would just sign up for a class to teach me everything I need to know. Thankfully, my sewing school of choice, Cañada College, has a Basic Serging class!

Three long nights later, I had a notebook full of samples and I was no longer scared of my serger. I proceeded to do a whole bunch of sewing with both knits and fray-prone fabrics in order to make up for the previous two years. Looking at all my nicely enclosed seam allowances, I felt so silly for putting off figuring out my serger for so long. All the knit garments that could've been better finished! Oh well, at least I finally learned how to use it. And then all the power went to my head and I created a monster.

One of the garments I made during the last month was a raglan sleeve sweatshirt, which has been in regular rotation so often that I toyed with the idea of making another, identical one. I decided that was too silly, though, so I thought about what my wardrobe needed and figured a sweatshirt dress/tunic to go with leggings in the wintertime would fit the bill. I didn't want to make a plain one, though, so I started poking through my Pinterest boards for some embellishment inspiration. And as is typical for me, I got inspired by kids' clothes, namely this little girl's cat dress. Um, what was I saying earlier about identical sweatshirts being silly? I'm pretty sure this is sillier! But then I found this cat dress and this suggestion of a cat dress, for adults! I don't know, is there a point when one is too old to wear cat clothing? I'm over thirty and have a small human being who depends on me for sustenance, and I'm somewhat responsible for shaping young minds and all that jazz, should I really be wearing something so juvenile? Yes, I've worn lots of other cat clothing, but it was generally slightly more adult-looking.

This is not adult at all. Unless maybe I were a Japanese adult? They seem to revel in kawaii at all ages. 

Then I thought about the serger and how I spent two years living in fear (okay, more like two years living with intermittent guilt every time I either 1) made a knit garment, or 2) looked at the box in my closet), and decided screw it, if I want to dance my own steps...er, wear ridiculous cat clothing, I'm just going to do it, no matter what the Australian Dance Federation and president Barry Fife have to say about it!

Pattern: McCall's 6992, modified to make it tunic-length
Fabric: Mystery sweatshirt knit (feels mostly cottony) from Elaine's husband's stash, passed on to me when they moved to Baltimore
Notions: Steam-A-Seam Lite for the appliqué pieces
Hours: Two so far, but I'm thinking I should probably go back and hand-sew around the facial features just to make sure they last through washing. I've had remarkably good luck in the past with Steam-A-Seam-ed appliqué pieces holding up, but I don't want to risk it with possibly my favorite use of it ever!
Total cost: Free, thanks to the use of someone else's stash.
Final thoughts: I feel like my cat garments just get crazier and crazier, and the more silly they are the happier I am about them. This is good, I'll get it all out of my system now, before SHB is old enough to be embarrassed by his mom's goofy outfits!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Put Moar Cats on It!

A few years ago, putting birds on things was all the rage, thanks to a ridiculous sketch by Portlandia's geniuses. I like birds just fine but am really more into cats, so I did a brief holiday series where I put cats on things instead. The other thing that happened a few years ago was I potato-printed cats onto some scraps of IKEA sheet I had leftover from another project. Well, now that SHB has taken over my sewing room, I need to go through my stash and actually use stuff, like, for reals now. Maybe by the time he's ready to move to a big kid bed, I'll finally have all the boxes of fabric out of his room...hah! Like the stash will ever be used up! Anyway, I finally sewed up the cat fabric into something more useful for work than the original plan of hipster scarves.

Because the lengths of fabric were so long and narrow (about 16"x50"), I didn't have enough to do the entire blouse in one fabric. I chose the more sedate-looking seated cats for the front, and saved the slightly more "frolicky" cats for the back and the bow. Business in front, party in the back, right? The narrow length also meant that I couldn't fit the entire back pattern piece onto the fabric, so I cut it out as two pieces by adding seam allowance back to the center line. I also hate sewing fisheye darts, so I eliminated them and carved out the difference at the center back line since I was putting a seam there anyway. 

The pink line shows my new stitching line. 
I didn't even bother trying to match the print. And now that I look at the picture, I would lower the back neckline a bit.

Another problem with my limited fabric was the inability to make a bias-cut collar/bow. I was originally going to leave it off entirely and just make it a sleeveless faux-Colette-Aster, but it just looked like it was missing something. Remembering this blouse that I loved, but doesn't fit anymore, I took the remaining scraps and made two ties on the length-wise grain and just attached them above the button band. I think I like this version of the pussy bow blouse better because I hate having extra fabric around my neck. This way, I still get the bow but can keep the neckline clean. 

Pattern: Simplicity 1779
Fabric: 100% cotton IKEA sheet remnants, printed with Tulip fabric paint cats. Sheets are usually quite stiff but this one is very loosely woven, so it actually drapes quite nicely while still retaining just enough body for a blouse like this.
Notions: Interfacing for the button band, bias tape for the neck and armholes, six 1/2" gray buttons (the pattern calls for 5, but I would've had gaping at the bust with that arrangement)
Hours: About five? This happened over the course of two weeks, so I don't really remember/know anymore. 
Will you make it again? Possibly? This is definitely a good basic work blouse. 
Total cost: This was a remnant of a sheet from the as-is section, and the buttons were a dollar, so I'm guessing maybe $3. 
Final thoughts: Since the blouse is sleeveless, it will fit under cardigans better for work, and the fact that it opens in the front makes it nursing accessible. And let's get serious now, what's not to love about a pussy-bow blouse with self-printed cats? I've often lamented the lack of apparel-appropriate cat fabric, so I guess it's time I took matters into my own hands and made my own! 

Moar cats is always better! 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Spate of Sewing

I looked at the calendar yesterday and realized that this is the last week of my summer! How is it the end of July already? Teachers go back for inservice next Monday, so no more sewing every naptime...boo! I've been quite productive this last month, even if none of it made it to the blog; my hair had gotten ridiculously long and straggly, so every time I looked at myself in the mirror I just hated how it looked and couldn't get up the wherewithal to take photos. But! I finally got a haircut and put on my big girl panties (literally) and took pictures of everything. They're not the best photos, but I need to just record everything before I forget what the sewing process was like. At least I'm not the only one who has trouble with the photo documentation part of sewing...

Outfit #1: Real Housewives of San Lorenzo
I got this pair of leopard-print pants in a clothing exchange when I still lived in TCOCC, but they were flared at the bottom. Since the top fit well, I figured I could just skinnify the legs. It only took three years to get around to it, but hey, at least I finally did it (and miraculously they still fit, even after a baby!), and it really only took an hour. Unfortunately, I never know what to pair with prints, so I went with the ever-safe black top. I've got plenty of black tees, but no warmer tops, so I whipped up a dolman-sleeve black sweatshirt with my own trusty pattern. This is oh, top #6 using this pattern?

Anyway, I'm still waiting for 1) the weather to cool down enough to wear long pants and a sweatshirt, and 2) the courage to step out of the house in leopard-print pants (for some reason they just read cougar to me and make me feel like one of those trashy people on reality TV). We'll see when that happens...

Outfit #2: Me-Made Slob
The polar opposite of the previous outfit, here we have my lounge-around-the-house-with-all-stretch-fabrics combination. I love all the Lindens and Hudsons floating around out there in the SBC, but rather than pay $16 and $10 respectively, I went the indie-4-less route as inspired by Sew Sorry Sew Fat and used McCall's 6992 and Simplicity 1428 instead, both purchased on sale at Joann's for a total of less than three dollars. I cut a size bigger than my normal for the pants, and then forgot that seam allowance was 5/8" instead of 1/4", so they turned out rather huge, but hey, I can always use more Aladdin pants in my wardrobe. The sweatshirt has a little wider neckline than the $3-at-Walgreens crewnecked stranglers of my childhood, which pleases me to no end. I love my collarbones, and prefer to display them when I can, even if they're all covered with tiny scabs these days, thanks to SHB's wicked daggers-for-fingernails. I've already worn this sweatshirt multiple times and am even contemplating making an identical backup. Or maybe I'll just invert the colors so as to not be quite so silly?

Outfit #3: Paisley, the Official Print of Biology Majors
Because you know, it looks like paramecia. Unfortunately, these microbes were printed slightly off-grain, so a straight hem results in a crooked line of paramecia/paisleys. I bought this rayon challis in Seattle last year while hanging out with Amy, Morgan, and Meris, and it only took me a year and change to sew it up...

I wanted more tunic-length tops to go with leggings, since post-pregnancy, there are days when I prefer to wear leggings rather than real pants. To accomplish this, I merely lengthened my old standby, OOP Simplicity 8986, and added a casing for an elastic waist.

Outfit #4: The Simplest Tunic Top
Another tunic to go with leggings, this top is so easy it's ridiculous. I just cut a square of this burnout rayon jersey and sewed two inches on either side of the top for shoulder seams, then sewed two straight lines down the sides. The excess fabric on either side makes it look fancier than it is really is. It's very similar to this top I made four years ago, but even easier since knit edge don't need to be finished and I didn't even have to cut a neckhole or round off the side "wings." Incidentally, I still wear that top -- it's survived several progressions of my sewing and subsequent closet purges -- which surprises me, considering how simple it was to make.

Outfit #5: Bowing to Peer Pressure Top
Everyone in the SBC has made a Kirsten Kimono Top it seems, and everyone in my house (all the humans, at least) have a gray shirt with stripes on it. To kill two birds with one stone, I made a stripy Kirsten. The fabric was from the Michael Levine Loft, purchased a year ago when I went to LA for our babymoon. And now here I am wearing the fabric in garment form with said baby!

Whew, that was quite a backlog of projects!

Fabric: All of it was stash at least a year old, so I'm pretty pleased with myself. All in all, I used up eight yards of various cuts.
Hours: Ten-ish, over the course of the last month.
Total cost: The materials for outfits #1-2 were free, since they were all inherited from other people's stashes. The rest of the garments probably cost about $10.
Will you make it again? Many of these patterns are TNTs for me, so undoubtedly yes, and the Kirsten could become one. The only one that's a maybe is the Simplicity pants pattern.
Final thoughts: Outfits #2 and 5, while not very impressive-looking, are actually really important to me in that I'm finally venturing into sewing comfy-wear. Previously, I got all excited to sew pretty dresses and fun costumes, while my RTW lounge-about-and-run-errands wear got rattier and rattier. Now I'm finally making headway into replacing that category with me-mades!

I also managed to make a pretty epic baby quilt for a dear friend during the past month, but somehow I managed to not take any photos of it! And now that she's had the baby, I'm pretty sure the last thing she needs is a request to go take a picture of the quilt, so do your best to imagine something like this in pink, gray, and turquoise prints, with a Little Miss Hug applique on a gray and white polka dot backing. I think that's the first time photos have totally slipped my mind like that, but that might also be because I was working on it until the night before we flew out to San Diego to deliver it. This has not been such a good month for sewing+photos! Have you ever forgotten to take any pictures of a gifted me-made?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

This Most Excellent and Audacious Hobbit

I just can't seem to stop with the Middle Earth crafting! What can I say, SHB needed more pillows and the pillows needed covers, so if I'm going to be doing home dec sewing, I might as well make it more interesting. And fifty times more involved, so that a should-be-twenty-minutes project turns into a whole weekend project.

SHB has discovered the fun of crashing face-first into a pile of pillows; now that he's very mobile, he assumes that there will be a pillow every time he falls over. The only solution then (because you can't reason with a nine month old) is to put pillows everywhere in his room, in hopes that at least one of them will be in the right place at the right time. However, he also likes crashing with his mouth open and tongue sticking out, so the pillows need washable covers. I've had these geeky pillows in the back of my mind for years now, so this was my excuse to make my own. The free cylindrical bolster that came with our bedding set meant that I could make it slightly more hobbit-shaped, and less Bombur-shaped. I didn't have a specific outfit in mind when I planned it out; it was more or less dependent on the fabrics I had available, but it's probably most similar to Frodo's costume when he first sets out in FOTR.

A closer look at his waistcoat, complete with faux welt pockets. His hand's curve obviously needs more work, but I wasn't going to redo them. This is only a pillow cover, after all. 
His hair was the most tedious to sew. Why do hobbits have such messy curly mops of hair?
The back of his cape opens up with a velcro closure so that I can remove the pillow. 

Pattern: My own, my precious!
Fabric: I cut up some old tees (that donation pile is really shrinking, thanks to SHB's clothing, my new undies, and this project!) and used some other scraps from my stash, so this pillow is very eco-friendly! I think that's fitting, as we know all hobbits share a love for things that grow, which I think would extend to being generally green.
Notions: Steam-A-Seam Lite to help hold things in place before stitching them down, velcro for the back closure, and four tiny 1/2" brass buttons for the waistcoat, because even though this is supposed to be Frodo, it's a nice nod to Bilbo's that were lost in The Hobbit.
Hours: Eight? A whole weekend's worth of naps and evenings, but totally worth it!
Total cost: $0!
Final thoughts: If only all home dec sewing was so fun! One could argue that I should just make it so, but I think Mr. Cation might have a word or two to say about having our entire house look like my college dorm room...

Of course, I had to make all the relevant parties take a picture with the newest member of the family:

Smaug and the wrong Baggins. Also, figures not to scale. 
"Samwise, where are you? There's a gangle creature coming for me! It has an ill-favored look, skulking about like that."
"Help, he's knocked me over! Which isn't very hard to do, since apparently I can't even walk without falling over in the movies."
"What has it got in its nasty little pocketses?"
"Curses! It doesn't have the precious, the filthy hobbitses! Gollum, gollum."
"We like goblinses, batses and fishes. But we hasn't tried Hobbitses before. Is it soft? Is it juicy?"
The answer is yes, yes it is tasty.

And another Walnut bonus:

Frodo and Samwalnut are ready to set off for Mt. Doom. Samwalnut is skeptical about the choice of a guitar case for carrying luggage, though. 

"I can't carry the ring for you, Mr. Frodo, and I can't carry you either...you're kind of awkward and unwieldy!"

I promise I've been sewing real clothes, but it's just so hard to arrange for picture-taking time these days!