Wednesday, May 20, 2015

About Sewing

OK.  I forgot to add to my last post coupla things I've learned and found very helpful with sewing. Like I'd mentioned many times, I'm not a very skillful seamstress, so I thought I'd share with others who are on the same boat as I am, few things I've learned along my way, in case you too find it helpful.

First, a tip I learned from somewhere on Pinterest, when sewing zippers use scotch tape to tape down zippers instead of pinning. It worked like a charm, much faster and easier than pinning.

Second, I've been doing this for a while, and hands down, this is the best way to sew sleeves. I swear by this method instead of the cumbersome method that usually comes with pattern instructions. No more fear for fitting sleeves into the armhole, and I only use one pin for each sleeve, at the shoulder seam:
  1. Join the front and back at shoulders, but NOT at body side seams. Sew, then press open the shoulder seams. 
  2. Pin the tip top of sleeve to the shoulder seam. Sew from top to underarm on the front (or the back), 
  3. Then sew from the top to the underarm of back (or front.)
  4. Join sleeves in round and body in round, starting from the cuff, sew sides of sleeves together to underarm, then continue onto side seam from underarm to hem.  (if you have to, trim off a little so the sleeves and body meet at the same place at underarm.)
Basically keep the clothing flat, and work in flat as much as possible before sewing on the main side seam.

A Mini Summer Linen Collection

I'm usually very obsessive with knitting.  But with the end of semester last week, I really couldn't help but wanted some instant gratifications.  At the end of a school year, I'd used up all the patience I had and not had.  Instant gratification was all I could think of.  Sewing offered that, so I became obsessed with sewing for coupla weeks.

This past winter was a warm one, so warm that I only wore my down jackets a few times when I normally live in them. The early spring was warm too, so I couldn't wait to work with the linen/linen blend fabric in my closet for summer. As luck would have it, the weather turned cold this past 2 weeks, with snow and rain.   No matter.  I finished a small "collection" of summer wardrobe.

I used pattern I drafted in the past and made modifications to necklines, fits, details, etc.  I made some preliminary designs in my head. A little confession, for someone who teaches drawing, I actually don't often sketch out my designs for knitting or sewing, everything is all about day dreaming in my head. Of course, there were also a lot of modifications and improvisations (in my sewing world, improvisations is mostly a nice word for "winging it".)

I started off with a dress made of dark grey linen, and added some accent fabric to pockets and the pleat at the back.
The neckline came out a bit tight, so I cut a notch for a split neck look.

Then I used the same linen and accent fabric to make a skirt with welt pocket.  
I had a lot of fun with this one, even if it came out a bit too "designy." I made a faux wrap skirt, using gray linen for a curved wrap to show off the contrast color cotton printed fabric. The backside was just gray linen. 

With enough fabric left, I realized I could make a bag, and why not.

After I used up all the gray linen, I switched to the natural color linen blend with wavy pattern cotton for a dress, a top and a skirt.
The dress has a tie at the bottom of V-neck neck band, and accent color fabric were added for the double layered pockets.  

Sadly, against my better judgement, I didn't wash the fabric first before I cut and sew. The dress shortened significantly after I washed it, a tad too short for my taste.  I may go back and add a bad of the same linen fabric to the bottom. But I love the look of the dress. 

Then I made the skirt. I used the fabric sideways for the wavy print to orient the way I wanted. 
This meant less stretch and I did not take that into consideration. It came out very tight around waistband.  The waist band was originally done in the same wavy fabric, I ended up having to cut that off to loosen up the skirt. So I used bias tape to finish off waistline instead a nice thick band.  
This skirt has pockets too. As you can see, I love pockets on clothes.

And I decided I wanted a linen top to go with the skirt.  It's very simple with pintuck detail at the front. I ended up sewing a straight stitch line 1/2" from hem, and made the hem fringed with raw edge. 

I was going to include a pair of pants, but I ran out of fabric. Next time, when I go into town, I'll make sure to get some more of the natural color linen blend for pants, as I really like how it feels.

All in all, I'm fairly happy with the pieces. The only regret is the natural color linen dress is a bit short, it's wearable, but just not exactly the length I'd like it. I do think a band of the same fabric would add a subtle detail and that could solve the problem. 

OK, I think I will start some knitting since I promised myself coupla shawl designs for the summer. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Making Welt Pocket

This week I made a skirt with welt pocket.  It was my first time doing such pockets and I was very pleased with the result.  Before I sew the skirt, I tried it on scrap fabric and documented the steps as my guide so I could do it right with the skirt.

I haven't had a chance to photograph the skirt yet as I'm making a small summer collection, and I'm a bit lazy to photo one piece at a time.

However, I decided I might as well post the steps I did for making the welt pocket.  I will not be so pompous to claim to be a good seamstress.  More than anything, I put this together for myself, so I'll be able to do it again next time.

Here is how I did it:

1. cut two pieces of contrast color (yellow) fabric for pocket.

2. Place the contrast color pieces with RS facing down, and the main fabric (blue) RS facing up. 
The pieces of pockets meet at the line where pocket opening placement line. 

3. Mark the pocket opening at 1/4" away from the center where the 2 pieces meet.

4. Sew straight stitches along the 2 lines. 
Zigzag between the center of pocket and the 2 lines 

This is what it loos like.

 5. Cut the center of main fabric just a little short of the full length. 
Then cut from each end diagonally to the corners. 

6. Pull pocket fabric through the cut slit to the back.

 This is what the RS looks like.

 and what the back side looks like.

7. with RS of main fabric facing up, fold the main fabric towards center.
Sew straight stitches along the pocket.
Sew zigzag stitches to finish the pocket. 

8. Press open.

Friday, May 15, 2015


So you asked, Doggie Friendly Beach, Kiva?
Well, we have a new dog in our family.  This little guy came home with us on Monday!
He's an adorable 7 year young Shih Tzu, the same breed as Cody.

After Cody, we never thought we'd be ready for another dog for a long, long time. But out of the blue, I just happened to be checking our local animal shelter website last Saturday. There he was.  My heart pounded when I saw his picture, he looked just like Cody.

Almost instantly, I knew he's my baby.  Paul knew it too. I was rather upset that by the time I saw the picture, the shelter had been closed for 30 minutes and won't be open until Monday.  The thought of this little guy staying at the shelter for that much longer was awful. Judging from the website, he has been in the local shelter for nearly 3 weeks, before that, a rescue group.  So another shelter before that.  Our local shelter has very high adoption rate (and if I was told correctly, they don't euthanize dogs) so it partners up with a rescue group of Bay Area to bring their rescued dog in for adoption. Paul said, "that just too long for him to be in shelter, we have to go get him."

First thing Monday morning, Paul insisted he'd come back from work (he had to be there as he'd agreed to be the only person around for the half an hour that day.)  After he came back around 9:30, we drove to the shelter.  I was nervous all weekend, but extra nervous on the way there. All the what if's.

As soon as I saw him, my heart melted. The lady at the shelter let us take him out for a short walk. He sniffed obsessively with every plant.  Paul and I grinned, that was exactly what Cody used to do. I said to Paul, "He is ours!"  This little guy just rolled over all the time on the floor ready for belly rub when Paul crouch down to pat him.  Paul said, "Connie, Look!" as I was doing the paperwork at the counter. We couldn't stop smiling.

He sat on my lap in the car the whole way home. He's a bit smaller than Cody and weighs about 10 pounds. His face shapes slightly different from Cody on the front, but his profile looks just like Cody, but smaller.  His coloring on the body is similar but with spots on the lighter color area. So there are a lot of similarities in appearance and personality and behaviors, but also very distinct differences too. He is his own little boy.  He likes to sit right next to people and snuggled up to the legs and put his head in the lap, but he really does not  like to sit in the lap.

He loves long walks.  He's house trained.  The lady at the shelter said his previous owner passed away.  He really looks like he came from a home where he was well-treated as we don't have to train him at all so far.  We feel very lucky that we don't have to do the work.  He has totally won our hearts!

Kiva Beach Shawl

I got a new pattern to share.  It's called Kiva Beach Shawl. 
It's now available at my Ravelry store.

The sample was knitted with Quince and Co. Sparrow, a 100% linen yarn.  I used 1 skein of each of the 2 colors.

The name Kiva Beach comes from the only dog friendly beach here at south shore of Lake Tahoe.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


Finally, it's off my needles.  I was stalled for coupla weeks due to things going on at work, and finally picked up the speed again this last week.

This sweater started out as a minor experiment with something I'd not done before, and I pushed it a bit more when I was looking at my sketch.
It was modified raglan style with regular increases intervals along the raglan lines. The minor experiment ended up being the back side where the rate of increases was more frequent than traditional raglan. The extra experiment ended up being the front with asymmetrical design.

Initially I wasn't sure about ribbing sweaters.  It always makes me extra self-conscious about the chest area.  So I decided to have positive ease to lessen the effect.  I have to say, in general, I'm not a huge fan of body hugging sweaters.  I tend to think sweater as layering piece, so I like mine to be roomier.  Ribbing also becomes distorted with vertical lines stretching out around any bulging area which draws attention right to the bulging area. And I'm also not a fan of sweaters becomes too specific in emphasizing one part of body.

Positive ease did make it much better and easier to wear for me.

The yarn was from the huge stash I have of Elann Limited Edition Lana Pura.  I really love this yarn, It makes me sad to see Elann fades away as a store.  It still has a store front on Amazon, but I miss the old Elann.  I miss the excitement of new offering every week.  If I have one true love of yarn store, it was Elann.  Sadly, it's no longer what it was.

The color is a gorgeous burnt orange, and the fiber content is 100% Tasmanian Wool. It feels very much like merino, next to skin soft.

I totally love this sweater!