I do feel a little bad--I think one of the gifts wound up costing nearly as much as all the others combined, and it certainly took as much time. On the other hand, though, the gift that's getting the most use--by far--is probably also the one that took me the least time to make.
I've amused myself by putting together little collages of each one (which, I've realized, is what I tend to do when I don't have very many/good photos and can't take any more). Each one is a little different, but I think they're similar enough--and they were all Christmas presents--so I'm going to put them all together in one looooong blog post, arranged, so far as I can remember, in the order they were opened Christmas morning.
For: my mom
Fabric: a feedsack towel from Freddy's
Pattern: a rooster vector
Sewing soundtrack: none, really
Total cost: I think let's keep this a secret, since they were gifts
For years my mom has refused to tell us anything she wants for Christmas except tiny, insignificant things. One year, she insisted she only wanted garden gloves. Seriously. This year, it was dish towels, which I know she actually did want--she'd been complaining for a long time about how worn out/ugly hers were, but since any she'd found in stores were equally ugly, she'd still never replaced them.
Mom's kitchen is rooster-themed, so that part seemed obvious. (Relatedly, when I was buying the towel to embroider on, I actually saw a bunch of rooster towels--apparently they aren't as unusual in kitchens as I'd thought--but they were all hideous, so if that's what she was looking for, I understand the problem. I like to think my rooster is more attractive than the terrycloth printed ones I saw.)
Originally, I wanted to do the rooster in cross-stitch, to match some other embroidered feedsack towels she had, but I couldn't find a pattern I liked, and decided to just do regular embroidery. (As it turned out, the previous towels actually had completely worn out and been replaced, so it didn't matter anyway.) Pretty straightforward from there: I traced the design onto the towel, stuck it in an embroidery hoop, and embroidered. It's all stem stitch, except for the zigzags on his chest, which are just... stitch. And the smaller picture is what it looks like on the reverse--towels don't really have a backside, so I was very careful with that. It's not perfect but, well, good enough.
The main colors in the kitchen are orange and yellow, and there's some green, too, so it all worked out well. I picked up the two plaid towels underneath because the embroidered one seemed pretty thin, and they're in the picture because they were part of the gift, but I didn't do anything special with them.
Mom seemed pleased. The only problem was that she wasn't sure if she should actually use the rooster, or just put the towel up somewhere to look at him.
For: my grandmother
Fabric: two pieces of red crepe?, just over 1 yard total, already in my stash for a while but originally from Scrap
Pattern: based on the instructions from the Singer Sewing Reference Library's Sewing Lingerie
Sewing soundtrack: none
First worn: not yet, I don't think. It's more of a summer garment
Wear again: I think she might
Total cost: is a secret
I also mentioned in the previous post that I was totally at a loss as to what to do for my grandmother. A reader suggested a kimono/bed jacket-type thing, and even emailed the instructions--thank you! Being me, of course, I did not entirely follow the instructions... I was restricted by both lack of fabric and of time, but I think that at some point I might like to try making one of these properly.
Fortunately for me, my grandmother is tiny, so I was able to make the jacket--I think of it more as a loose, open display jacket--out of a very small amount of fabric. The sides won't cross in front as they would on a proper kimono, which I would have liked, but that's okay. I also didn't make the traditional wide kimono sleeves, though that was more because I thought my grandmother would've been bewildered by them. (I mean, I still kind of am.) And I added a little loop inside the neck for hanging, which you can't really see but can get the gist of in the third picture.
I cut out the kimono at home, in Portland, but did all the sewing on my mom's machine. I don't really like using it, but it's considerably newer than mine (slightly older than I am, rather than slightly older than my dad) and has as one of its features a whole wheel of semi-decorative stitches. I used a fancy tripled zigzag for the hem, and the ends of the sleeves and belt, to add a bit of interest, as otherwise--especially without a lining--it's quite plain.
Except, well, I guess it is bright red.
Looking back at my holiday pictures, and reflecting on the fact that I never even considered using a darker or more subdued fabric (of which I'd have had larger pieces), I'm wondering now if it isn't my grandmother from whom I've inherited the propensity for wearing really bright colors. (Especially lately, that hasn't shown up so much on the blog, but I really do.) I did briefly consider a different piece of fabric, but it was also bright red. When I think about it, I suppose that probably all the women from whom I'm descended have worn bright colors at one time or another, but the thing about my grandmother is that I have to really think about it to find instances of her not wearing clothes that are very bright. Usually she's more coordinated than the picture above, but all four of those colors are ones she wears all the time.
Something interesting to think on.
For: little b (my middle sister)
Fabric: maybe a yard and a half of black and purple flowered synthetic, left over from a previous project but originally from Fabric Depot
Pattern: Colette Taffy
Notions: one package of black rayon seam binding; approximately one and a half yards of black ribbon for waist ties, both already in stash
Sewing soundtrack: I think it was the mix of my favorite songs of 2000-2010
First worn: I don't think she has yet
Wear again: maybe?
Total cost: is a secret
I think some people might recognize this one. It's the Taffy blouse from the Colette Sewing Handbook. This was the first time I've made any of the patterns from the book, and I thought it was wonderful. Really easy to put together, and I was especially thrilled with the installation of the sleeves. The light weight of the fabric probably helped, but the sleeves fit into their holes so well that I was actually able to French seam them, and I almost never French seam sleeves. (I also finished their ends with a simple rolled hem, rather than using a massive amount of bias tape (though I did, essentially, bind the neck that way). Since the fabric is a print, I think it looks better like that.)
I would totally make this pattern again. And I probably will make another one--for little b, in fact. Because, while the blouse does fit really well width-wise, I forgot that even though b is six inches shorter than I am, she still has a pretty long torso. I cut out the pieces exactly as the pattern was drawn, but I probably should have added three inches. (And if I ever make this for myself, another three on top of that.)
That's the only complaint. Because of the length, I'm not sure if b will ever wear this, even though it's very much (I think) her current style. I feel bad about that. Maybe I'll make her something for Valentine's Day...
Finally, I want to note that I like this blouse so much more than the previous garment made with this fabric, which was cut on the straight grain. The fabric looks so much better hanging on the bias. Amazingly so.
For: ratty (my youngest sister)
Fabric: two yards each of blue synthetic lining and purple lace--the lining was from Knittn' Kitten and the lace from JoAnn
Pattern: a little bit of modified Simplicity 8437 for the bodice, and a rectangle for the skirt
Notions: just a zipper (I was going to add a hook and eye, but she wouldn't use it)
Sewing soundtrack: Nap Eyes + Kris Ellestad
First worn: New Year's Eve
Wear again: I think so
Total cost: is a secret
Okay here's the complicated masterpiece. (Which, by the way, turned out to be way fancier than I intended.) This was, I don't know, the fifth or sixth thing I planned to make for Ratty--and it was almost thwarted a couple times, too.
Originally, I bought white lace and dyed it. Unfortunately, the dye didn't really take to the lace well. What it did take well to was my hand, because, as I discovered after I'd finished everything, there was a tiny hole in my glove. Whoops. It washed off eventually, and I actually really like the color the lace came out--sort of a pale, slightly greyish, periwinkle, but it wasn't what I was aiming for, and it totally didn't match with the lining fabric. For some reason--probably because the lining was exactly the color I'd been envisioning--I decided it would be better to buy new lace than new lining (even though I have absolutely no idea what to do with the original lace now).
Anyway. Eventually I got my fabrics sorted. Attaching the lace and lining--I sewed all the pieces together, treating the solid fabric like an interlining--was not perfectly smooth, but it worked well enough. I did everything at about half the speed I normally would, but it all went okay.
I'm also pleased with the sleeve/armscye finishing. Since the lace sleevelet is sheer, I had to devise a way of installing it without having an obvious seam or flap or raw edge or whatever, and wound up sandwiching it between the main fabric of the shoulder and a facing, which I then finished the normal way. Since the little cap sleeves didn't need to be eased, I just sewed it all in one go, but I think on a full sleeve, two trips around--sleeve first, then facing over the top--might be better. I'm going to try it, because ugly armscye finishes have been something I've struggled with for a long time (probably this is a large part of the reason I make so many sleeveless garments) and this gave the cleanest finish I've ever done.
And then I got to the point of attaching the skirt to the bodice, measured the bottom width of the bodice so I'd know how much to gather the skirt, and discovered that it was somehow eight inches bigger around than it should have been. Eight. I still have no idea how that happened.
I fixed it, but, as it turned out, after Ratty tried the dress on, I still had to spend a couple hours on Boxing Day taking a gaping bodice in even more.
If I were to make it again, I'd start with a narrower base for the bodice--I think the measurements I have for her must have been taken over, rather than under, her clothes. Since I took it in, the insides are no longer quite as tidy as they could have been, but it all turned out all right in the end. She wore it for her New Year's party, too.
For: my dad
Fabric: two yards of that athletic jersey fabric with the little oval shaped holes in it, navy blue, from Scrap
Pattern: Simplicity 8360
Notions: elastic and ribbon, both in stash
Sewing soundtrack: I started with Blur and then just sort of let it run
First worn: December 26
Wear again: I'm told he's been wearing them every day
Total cost: is a secret
First, a disclaimer. I bought this pattern because it was the only man pattern for shorts with an elastic (rather than button/fly) waist that I could find. Not because I wanted to make those teeny tiny things, or that sweet yellow velour (yes, one of the fabrics suggested on the back of the pattern is velour) sweatsuit with the massive collar.
I don't know what happened to the ones he was using before, but my mom had been hinting for a long time that I should make Dad some shorts for Christmas. I can take a hint (and really, the other main option was fishing lures). It was a wise choice--Mom tells me that Dad's been wearing the shorts every day when he does his workout.
He likes them. They're very breathable. (Probably because, while I was super pleased to find material actually meant for athletic apparel that wasn't T-shirt knit, I think that the jersey would typically be sewn in a double layer, rather than single, like I did. Oh well.)
Anyway, back to that rad pattern. I was going to use the pants pattern and just cut them off at the knee, since I knew Dad would definitely not want shorts like those worn by the man in the illustration. Unfortunately, I found that the previous owner had either kept or disposed of the pants pattern, so I had to use the shorts after all. I just drew out the legs as far as I had fabric for and figured they'd probably be too long, but I'd cut them off to where Dad wanted after he tried them on. And I still do think they're too long, but apparently inches-below-the-knee is where all the cool kids are wearing their athletic shorts these days, so Dad wanted me to leave the length alone. He did, however, have me take the waist in a bit (even though it's elastic, with ribbon ties on the ends for prettiness), which I think he was excited about.
So, a success.
That's good. We've ended on a success.
I've been doing a bit of crocheting again, but I haven't done any sewing since Christmas (or, I guess, more accurately, since tailoring the stuff I gave people for Christmas a few days later), aside from five or ten minutes spent fixing the hem of a skirt from my mending pile. Now that I've finally gotten this post up, maybe I'll start again. I do have some plans for 2013...
Okay this post is waaaay long enough now. Thanks for reading!