Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What I'm working on: the BurdaStyle Bag

The bag pattern from The BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook:

Continuing to feed my bag obsession. I found an old leather coat that was very worn, with the intention of cutting it up and making something out of it, and this bag came to mind. I had cut the pieces out before I left on the trip to San Francisco, and started assembling them when I came back. Not quite finished yet, but I'm liking how it's turning out. 

In other news, my primary sewing machine (Janome My Excel) continues to fail me on heavy fabrics (and leather). It was made for home deco work, but it's 10-15? years old now and I've done all I can. I bought some time by taking it apart and thoroughly cleaning it, but the needle plate on it is warped and I think that is contributing to the problem of skipped stitches. So...

I went for the very affordable Singer Heavy Duty 4423. I seriously don't need a lot of bells and whistles. I just need something to get the job done, and it's doing it. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Travelog: San Francisco

You sometimes find the darndest things in airports. Like, for example, this week at SFO (San Francisco International airport), I spotted this lovely exhibit of sewing machines and other sewing stuff: link opens the whole Google+ photo album. They had an impressive collection of early sewing machines, most of the major brands represented, an array of vintage accessories like thimbles, needlecases, patterns, and such. Here are just a few photos that I snapped with my phone camera.

Beautiful Singer

A pattern drafting system

19th century gown

Lovely sewing kit

Toy sewing machines



Another 19th c. gown
That's not actually why I'm in San Francisco this week, but it was an unexpected bonus.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Making stuff out of other stuff: upcycling mens shirts

Taking my inspiration from the Cut-Up Couture book, I completed a couple projects over the weekend that took a few very ordinary mens shirts and transformed them into interesting clothes for me.

This long coat was made from two plain black sweat shirts that I got at Kmart, on clearance, for $2 each. It's really cuddly, too. The deviated quite a bit from the version that is described in the book. I kept the long sleeves, added the lapels, and did not include the patch pockets. 

This top is made from two different mens shirts, also $2 each from Kmart, and it's a little more obvious how they went together. Once again, I used an idea from the book as inspiration, but added my own touches. I had to add the buttoned panel on the front to make it fit around the bosom, and I added the ruffles on the sleeves to make it look more girly. 

Note: I draped the shirts onto my toile before cutting into them, because the measurements given in the book were definitely for a smaller person than I. I made adjustments accordingly.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Bug-building and book-buying continues...

My multi-part series on working with foam floor tiles to make an alien costume is coming along over at the d-Infinity blog. This project is quite a departure from my usual skill set, but I'm enjoying it. I'm pretty much making it up as I go along, but the results are pretty cool-looking. 

In other news, I splurged on a few new sewing books.

Cut-Up Couture, Yamase
Do you have a lot of large-to-XL men's shirts lying around that you would like to recycle into wearable clothes? Well this is the manual for that. This book takes more than just a cut-apart-and-piece-together approach. It deconstructs the garments in clever ways to remake them into modern couture-looking dresses, skirts, and tops. I already dove in and made up one of the projects using a couple of t-shirts. The only criticism I have is that all the projects are one size, and need to be adjusted to fit real people. It inspires and challenges me to look at recycling old clothing in new and different ways.

The BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook, Abousteit
I have been wanting a copy of this since it came out, just to have it. I follow the BurdaStyle blog and have downloaded and used many patterns from the web site. There are at least a few styles in here that I would like to make for myself, and it includes the pattern sheets and lots of ideas for variations. 

Fabric-by-Fabric One-Yard Wonders, Yaker
This was an indulgence. There's something in here for everyone, from fashion accessories, to stuffed toys. There are a lot of patterns for children's clothing, which I don't have much use for, but plenty of other useful patterns, and it comes with the pattern sheets. I think I like this volume more than the first iteration of One-Yard Wonders because it has more things in it that I might use. 
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