Friday, April 27, 2012


Here's a little sneaky peek of what I've been up to.

I've made little bit of progress on my warmer weather wardrobe plans, which had branched out (unofficially) to include the 1960s McCall tops pattern I got at the estate sale I attended earlier this month. I'd thought any/all of the versions would pair well with the Ginger I've had on my to sew list forever.

McCall tops + Ginger

Well, I have yet to get to the tops but I did take a crack at the Ginger in a dark blue broadcloth. I had just enough of the fabric in my stash leftover from a UFO from my early sewing career. It was a nautical inspired, springy/summery dress of sorts...I might just have to dig it out of the UFO pile and try to save it (as if I have nothing else planned for my sewing time). Anyway, better pictures and a full post on my Ginger later, but for now...

v. 1 - pointed waistband

This fabric does NOT un-wrinkle fully....ever!

You know, I also mentioned that I've got a project in progress using a pattern and some fabric from the estate sale. It's still in progress, but here's a few glimpses of that, too.

McCall 9735 - guess which version I'm making!

Pattern pieces, with stripe matching attempted, almost all cut out

I'm not too obsessed with matching the plaids, though I did give it a shot - this is my first time working with plaid. I am planning to add a few little embellishments to this dress, so you'll have to stick around to see how it turns out.

I've also officially got some plans for dresses to make for the upcoming weddings I'll be attending this season, so more on that soon, too!

That's all for now. Have a great weekend!
Do some sewing for me - there's a good chance I'll be too busy with birthdays and a wine festival and boring things like laundry. Sigh.

Monday, April 23, 2012

April Acquisitions - Part 2: Paper

Welcome to Part II of my April estate sale finds!

In my Part I post, I shared the fabric and trims I scored at my first successful estate sale. Here, in Part II, you'll get to have a peek at some paper-based goods I picked up.

Well, to start, I found a large grab-bag full of old stitching, sewing, and mostly knitting magazines, along with some pamphlets, and a couple books. The first thing I pulled out of the bag was this old Simplicity Sewing book. It's not quite as intense as my trusty Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, but it looks like a good resource...and there are some fun pictures.

1970 Simplicity Sewing Book - why are those things pinned to the dress form--scissors?
I think I'd be ok if my sewing room looked like this...colorful and organized!

After pulling out the Simplicity book, the bag was still pretty full...

Now, when you see the next items I found in the bag, you may find yourself wondering... "I thought she didn't knit..." and, you'd be right, I don't -- BUT I plan to at least start to learn by the end of the year! And once I've learned, I plan to be unstoppable, so don't worry. But, in the meantime, just drool with me over these:

Just LOOK at these! I want to wear/make/be in all of them. (do excuse the crooked photo, please)
SO CUTE - and cozy. Can I please be her??
...or her, she'd do as well.

Ok, are you done? Have you wiped the drool off your chin? Good.

Here's a kitty picture, too...for good measure. (Don't worry, I kept him from doing any actual damage).

Duke: "I'm sorry, were you trying to do something here?...No? Ok, good. I was just going to do some rolling, kneading, and scratching on these GLORIOUS crinkly pages."

You may have thought that was the tops, but up next I've saved what I think is the best for last: PATTERNS! I was able to get a good handful of 'em, which felt awesome as I can never find good old patterns (and in a reasonable size for me) at yard sales or thrift stores, and hardly ever any at antique stores. I usually end up resorting to ebay and Etsy.

1973 and 1976 Stretch & Sew patterns
Tom? Want a cardigan thingy?
simple shell - for knits
Cute collar options for the simple Stretch & Sew shell - but really..."Dog Ear Collar" ??? Weird.

super awkward, tacky styling - knee socks? - but a cute blouse pattern...I won't even discuss the shorts (1980s?) & a cute 1979 circle skirt
collared tops for her (1975) & him (1972)
THE JACKPOT! 1960s separates and dresses

You may recognize the center one (my favorite!) in this last photo, McCall's 9458 (c.1968), from a recent post over on Kestrel Finds and Makes. I'd admired it when Kerry posted about it, but didn't even recognize it (pattern amnesia!) when I actually encountered it in real life at this estate sale. Luckily, I snatched it up regardless - I mean, who wouldn't?

Yay, tops! McCall's 9456

And, that concludes my show and tell!

I'm pretty pleased with what I purchased and feel like I really lucked out, but, like I mentioned earlier, this experience kind of left me with some mixed feelings.

Like I said before, this was my first real estate sale. When I was there, I managed to stay pretty objective about assessing items and determining what I ought to buy (I only bought patterns close to my size - not the entire box - and only grabbed one of the THREE trash bags full of misc. fabric). What sparked a bit of uneasiness for me, though, was, after I'd brought everything home, going through the grab-bag of misc. magazines/papers and finding that many of the papers were hand-written notes about knitting and patterns on little note pad pages and scraps of paper.

Seeing these little notes solidified for me that the things I'd bought weren't just some random possessions but were important to the woman who'd owned them. She'd thoughtfully tucked them away to be referred to later. They are truly the artifacts of a life spent making things for herself and her family.

Now, don't get me wrong, I've always loved yard sales, thrifting, and the act of digging through people's old stuff in general, but I've come to realize (some of you will be saying "duh" here) that estate sales like this are actually a bit different.

Yes, at estate sales you can find some really great items, but you're not digging through some stuff that the owner has actively decided he/she no longer wants; you're basically unceremoniously rifling through the artifacts of a person's life, about which they no longer have a say, to see if you can find anything "good."

I keep thinking about the idea that these were a woman's saved belongings that she'd purposely held onto over the years. I think her saving them for so long is what gets me. She kept these things because she thought they were important, for whatever reason...who am I to undermine that?

Now, don't worry, eye rolling is welcome, but I'm a person who feels a strong connection to things (in case you hadn't guessed), especially small, practical, everyday things -- overly sentimental, you might call it. It's part of why I'm so fascinated with vintage stuff and old objects, clothes--anything tangible.

I myself am somewhat of a saver of stuff, but on the other hand, I can't (and don't) save everything.
Do I really need all of the fabric or knitting patterns I brought home? Nope.
Was I absolutely in love with every single thing I got? No, not every single thing 100%.
Does it make me a little sad to admit that? Sure.
I just have to tell myself, this woman didn't absolutely love and treasure every single thing she held on to. ...Right? Yes (say yes).

I guess the message I want to get out there is this: I'm very appreciative of the things I got, though I feel a little uneasy about how/why I acquired them, and I'll be passing on the things I'm not in love with to someone who will appreciate them...and so, this woman's thoughtful saving, wont be for naught...and I can sleep at night.

Thanks for bearing with me as I rambled through that -- I feel like I could go on and on in a circle all day about this, but at least I've got my thoughts out there so they'll stop eating away at me.
I've already started a project using a pattern and some fabric from this estate sale, so that makes me feel a little better. More details on that in a bit. :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Breaking News

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you this breaking news update:

I got some SWEET fabric yesterday with my G Street Fabrics livingsocial deal!!

These were on the "please buy me" remnants table:
(Please excuse the poor quality of most of the following photographs. Sigh.)

hefty green tweed
impossible to photograph, lightweight denimy something
denimy closeup with underside
difficult to photograph, white shiny dotted mystery fabric
satiny on one side, cottony on the other
Dots! black + pink on creme  -- from the silk remnants bin
Milly silk

After finding these, I was innocently walking past the cottons, minding my own business and this pima cotton sateen started calling to me. I was essentially defenseless against its charms.

I couldn't get a good photo of it (who, me?), but it does perfectly match the pink dots in the Milly silk.

smooth, buttery, lightweight pima cotton sateen

I also picked up some zippers and covered button kits, which have both been on my list for a while.

I'm planning a top of some sort for the pink cotton, a skirt or maybe a dress for the Milly silk (I'm chicken to put huge 3" spots on my top half), a blouse for the satiny dotted white fabric [UPDATE: I just learned this is likely flannel-backed satin, best for lining jackets and making PJs...this may change my plans], a Ginger skirt for the denimy stuff, and a pencil skirt for the green tweed.

Who knows when these plans will actually materialize into finished (or even in-progress) projects, but, you know, I'm just documenting that I shopped with a little bit of a plan, instead of going willy-nilly as I'm inclined to do upon setting foot in a fabric store.

That concludes this breaking news update. Stay tuned for my scheduled Part II estate sale finds post tomorrow!

Friday, April 20, 2012

April Acquisitions - Part 1: Cloth

Alternate post title: The Opposite of Stash Busting.

This month, I went to my first successful estate sale. I've dragged Tom to a couple in the past, hoping to hit the jackpot, but always left with nothing to show for it.

I found this one on my beloved Craigslist and even emailed the people just to make sure the sewing stuff would be there and hadn't already sold (which does happen!). Once I was given the go-ahead on the sewing stuff (more like, "PLEASE come take this off of our hands."), there was no turning back.

"Maid of Honor" ice crusher
I managed to snatch up quite a few goodies.
While I was digging through the fabric and sewing things in a daze of happiness, Tom checked out the rest of the house and found this ice crusher. He's quite a fan of cocktails and has got a nice little liquor cabinet and bar set up at home, complete with vintage glass decanters and cocktail shakers. So, this baby fits right in.

But, back to the sewing-related finds.
I've divided this up into two posts. Part one focuses on cloth goods and Part two on paper.

Let's start off with trims. One of the things I'd really been hoping to find was a box of notions -- bias tape/trims and zippers, in particular. Well, I didn't find any zips, but I did manage to get my hands on this excellent box of bias tape, hem facing, seam binding, piping, trims, and lace. Yay! I've already used some of the light pink bias tape on my Simplicity 3266 blouse.

Trims galore!
Pink bias tape - I love the old labels
Up next, fabric! After inspecting everything sewing related in the house, one of the ladies in charge (I think the daughter of the elderly couple that had lived in the house) pointed me outside. In the backyard, along with other miscellaneous gardening odds and ends and some sets of dishes, I found three trash bags stuffed with a variety of fabrics. I managed to just pick one bag that looked good (instead of all three! - thank goodness Tom was there to reel me in) and ended up with this:
fabric grab-bag contents
Want some closeups? Ok, sure.

the whole pile
smooth and stretchy
regular knits - another coral, two stripes, and dark brown
poly/cotton woven blends atop a big piece of plaid flannel
more blends, lighter weight
The smooth and stretchy pile is rather dubious, and by that I mean synthetic and polyester-y, but who knows, I just might come up with something good to use them for. As for the regular knits, they feel more normal and less synthetic, so that's good...

Even though it was a grab-bag, I feel bad hating on any of this fabric. This is where I start to have some mixed feelings about estate sales like this, which kind of surfaced more when I went through the papers/books/magazines, and which I'll go into more in my Part 2 post.

From the huge pile, these fabrics were most intriguing to me:
brown, black, orange, white slightly textured and stiffer...barkcloth imitation?? I have no idea what this is or what it's best suited for...
lightweight cotton blend in light blue - begging to be made into a shirt
lightweight blend - original fabric store tag still attached!
I'm pretty sure I'm planning some casual warm weather tops for these two florals, and probably tops or a summery dress for the two florals & a plaid in the lighter weight blends category. Or I can dream, at least - we all know I'm a slow sewer and it'll likely be winter before I complete any of the projects I just mentioned. Oh well!

Any idea what I should do with the mystery brown textured stuff, or even what you think it might be?? I feel like I've seen vintage fabric like this before, but I obviously know nothing about it.

Maybe I could get a little crafty/home dec. and use the mystery brown stuff for a pillow or two on our new couch, once it finally arrives? (you may have noticed this baby pinned to my house board recently on Pinterest). It'll be a lime green color, not this aqua (even though it's lovely, too), so maybe brown would work for an accent pillow? We do have a lot of brown in our living room... 

New sofa!
Our green sofa fabric.
That's all for now. Stay tuned for Part 2, where I'll share all of the papery goodies I found at the estate sale (magazines, books, pamphlets... PATTERNS!) and reflect a bit on this whole estate sale shopping thing.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Finished Project: Simplicity 3266 (or, Another Green/White Dotted Blouse)

Simplicity 3266
View 3 (shown in blue)

...or, Sue: An Easter Egg Personified.

Welcome to my first project from a vintage pattern! I finally finished the "simple to make" Simplicity 3266. I really enjoyed sewing this blouse, but am not sure it'll actually be a wearable muslin...I'm undecided. My main issue? I feel like an Easter egg. More on that in a bit.

This pattern was fun to sew. The directions were (mostly) easy to follow, the diagrams very helpful, and best of all there were no sleeves to set in!

There was one confusing part, though, where the pattern instructions seemed to want me to make a paper football/accordion strip of bias tape and put it on the armpit seam for reinforcement. After fiddling with the bias tape a bit, I realized I didn't really care to adhere to that step and tossed it. But what do you think, have you ever seen this before? Does this kind of kimono sleeve thing really need such reinforcing?

bias tape accordion fail.
now, magically fold up this bias tape and attach it to the armpit!

Now lets get down to the fit. I made view 3 and right off the bat, it looks like my sleeves are much flappier and less fitted than intended. They feel a bit flappy, too, and I think next time (there will be a next time!) I sew this, I'll make the sleeves narrower. I'll also probably make the waist tucks a little bigger, so the waist area will be a little more fitted.

my dream collar
Next time around, I'll also definitely be doing some adjusting in the collar area. When I showed Tom the finished product he said "it's a '70s collar!" Unfortunately,  that's not quite what I was going for. I'd secretly hoped, despite how obviously large it appears in the illustration, that the collar would somehow turn out more Pan Am uniform than floppy, winged '70s thing. Sigh.

actual collar
Another bone I have to pick with the collar is more...structural? I'd run out of fusible (or any kind) interfacing and for some reason figured, "whatevs, I'll just use muslin" instead of actual, stiff, interfacing on the facing. This makes the collar super floppy and not crisp at all, so I don't really recommend doing that on a shirt like this.

So, back to the Easter egg bit. I love this fabric, I think it's just the bee's knees, but maybe it's better off in craft land than apparel sewing.

Perhaps I'm being hyper critical (who, me?) but, for me, the colors and scale of the print combined with the fabric's quilting weight/lack of drape make this feel a little bit too Springtime craft project for me.

When I saw my finished garment on my dress form, "Easter egg" just popped into my head. When I'm wearing it, I kind of feel like a big, bright, floppy, polka-dotted BLOB (maybe it'd feel less blobby if I tucked it in? ...I'll get back to you on that).

Is it weird that I think it looks better on the dress form?
Things I like about this project? As I mentioned earlier, no setting in of sleeves! Also, I actually had success with the buttonholes (all four of 'em - though the pattern called for only three and then a hidden snap for the 4th), for once. I also had a super time adding contrasting light pink bias trim to just about every raw edge I could get my hands on - or at least the facing raw edge, the sleeve facings, and the blouse hem.

pink and green!

What do you think?

I know this is a topic of contention among many sewers, but do any of you ever use quilting cotton for apparel projects, or is that always a huge no-no?

If/when you do use it, are you usually pleased with the results?

I think the main things I like about it are: it's a breeze to sew with and there are so many cute prints available...if you can pick one appropriate for your project.