Monday, April 30, 2012

I get by with a little help...

So last Sunday I began tracing out my next project from one of the Japanese sewing pattern books. This next one's gonna be a nice, light blouse for casual wear. It's got more pattern pieces than that first dress I finished, and it has more elements to it that I've never tried before: some gathers, some buttons. We'll see how I do once it's done!

Anyway, back to tracing out my new pattern pieces: I had some help from some friends last Sunday!

Liger tried helping me by pointing out which lines I should trace...

As you can see, she's nonchalantly showing me how stupid I 
was for not seeing the correct lines.

In truth, she really just helped me by forcing me to stop stressing over 
these lines for a bit and take a breather :3

Oh, and I tried out that simple trick of taping two pens/pencils together for tracing out the pattern while adding a tiny seam allowance (guide) at the same time:

Pretty nifty eh? Works well enough... If you like having tiny seam allowances. 
I foresee future problems with this one.

Katty and Arianne also came by that afternoon and made us different variations of a choco-vanilla milkshake.

Just right for the weather then -- It was scorching! 36 degrees was it? Man. Those milkshakes hit the spot. No photos of the actual milkshakes though, was too busy cooling off with them to even think about bringing out my iPod.
Thankful for friends!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Highlights of the last week of April 2012.

This last week of April has been really fun. Full of goodies and good times.

1. The first "goodie" of the week was from our crazy cats. Last Sunday, mom and I were hanging out in the backyard. She was reading and doing her crossword and sudoku puzzles, I was making a new pouch for my iPod. Then Liger came up to us with a mouse in her mouth.

Now, we're used to being "offered" mice by our sweet little kitties; I think it's their way of showing off to us. How sweet.  But we were used to the offerings being dead mice. Dead, not squirming. Easy to dispose of. But yes, she was proudly showing us the squeaking mouse in her mouth. Needless to say, it freaked us out. We couldn't move from our seats and we watched her play with it on the floor near our chairs.

Boxer came along and started playing with it as well. OK. Fine, let the kitties have their fun (but we were really feeling sorry for the poor mouse, too scared to do anything). Back to work.

But what I didn't notice was that Boxer was playing with the mouse under the rattan-woven chair I was sitting on and he accidentally let it escape and hide INSIDE my chair. He kind of stood up and put his paws on my lap, looking for the mouse. I didn't know the mouse was hiding, I thought it was still in Boxer's mouth, so I literally jumped out of my chair and freaked out. Ma freaked out too and stood up and threw my chair out on the stones. Talk about being swept up by the moment.

Anyway, long story short, the mouse got to escape alive and after we all sat back down, I realized I'd hit my knees somewhere somehow, creating an angry bruise on my left knee and a cut on my right.

What just happened?

Here's a little video of Boxer and Liger playing on mom's bed.

2. Marc and I fetched Auntie Nanny from her doctor's appointment last Sunday and before leaving the mall, he asked if I wanted anything for a snack later. We both spotted the Dunkin' Donuts stall across from us and decided to get some bavarian-filled munchkins. I thought he was just gonna get us half a dozen or so, even thinking one dozen was too much. But I should've known Marc was gonna get carried away... It's food! What can you do? haha!

He got us 35 pcs. O_O

3. This isn't actually a "goodie", but I'm happy to say I finally learned how to pin up my short hair with just a few hairpins! Without hairspray, thank goodness!

Messily organized.

Mom was talking to me while I was trying to take a photo of it.
She obviously doesn't like candid shots haha.

4. Marc and I took Nona out with us to watch The Avengers! The movie was AWESOME. We wanna watch it again. We had dinner at McDonald's because Marc wanted to try out his crazy idea of an epic-mealtime-like meal. Let the video explain it all:

Here 'tis!

And the last bite. These two crazies:

...this meal...
...and after.

I tried the new McDonald's "Big N' Tasty". It was big, it was tasty...

But it still can't top the BK Streaky Bacon burger in my book!

5. April birthdays! Marc and I got Nona a graphic novel for her 14th birthday. We also got a couple of gifts for her sister, Bopie's 7th birthday:

These gifts wrapped in cute paper contain books!

I chose to give Bopie "Farmer Boy" by Laura Ingalls Wilder, my favorite book when I was 7. I still love it until now. I'm hoping she will love it too :D

It was Tito Benjie's birthday yesterday! And to celebrate, we had kinilaw (a kind of Filipino ceviche) with gata, pancit bam-i (a mix of bihon and canton), a roast chicken and mango-bagoong salad.


6. As promised, a recap of the three Japanese sewing pattern books I bought in the past two weeks:

They all go for Php 85 each! About $2 apiece!

7. And the last goodie for the week was a small ball of pretty yarn that Mansy brought home for me from her trip to the Himalayas!

It's sooo pretty and the texture is so interesting.

There's not a lot of it, so I've decided to knit with it instead of crochet. Also, I might just knit it to become the flap of a knit purse I can come up with in the next few weeks. Keep you posted when the project's done!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My first shift dress.

After being inspired so much by the different stitchers/sewists out there (some of my faves being her, her, and her), I had decided to try and make my own garment/s.

To be honest, what also got me started was the crazy fact that I found out that... Our local bookstore sells Japanese sewing patterns on SALE. All day, everyday. I couldn't stop buying them! Jeeez. I'll post the front covers in another post. Later. For now, here's the first one I bought:

All really simple dresses. Looked simple enough for a beginner like me.

I'm not sure if I can consider myself a visual learner, able to create the pieces just by looking at the diagrams and the patterns and without having to know how to read Japanese characters... But I know I can get really determined and obsessive about something I wanna try.

And so with determined mind and heart, I chose the easiest-looking dress I could find (c'mon, guys, I can still be realistic about my abilities):

I thought I was prepared for the overwhelming organization of this pattern book; I'd read a lot of blogs on Japanese pattern books! But still, I wasn't prepared for the jumble of lines that is the pattern sheet:

What is what??

But I was able to figure it out after a few minutes. I bought some sturdy tracing paper to trace my actual pattern onto. I chose the medium size for this dress, feeling confident about it. Lazy me, I was too impatient to check my measurements against those in the pattern.

After cutting out the pattern I traced, I put it on my fabric, following the guide in the book.

Then I cut out my fabric pieces. It looked like a pretty straightforward pattern, sew up this side and that, but it was actually not as simple as my ambitious mind had imagined. I'm lucky my mom used to sew her own clothes in the 60s and 70s. She was able to guide me well, this being my first garment project. Love you, ma!

This project didn't take me a few hours; I had to complete it over the course of two weeks, sneaking in some sew-time after work and during the busy weekends. It first ended up being too big (I'm not a medium after all) so I had to take it in an inch on each side. As they say, it's easier to take in a garment.

But I managed to finish it! Woo! May this inspire me to be more productive.

Ta-daaa! I did it, mofos!!!

VoilĂ ! The dress on me, and my brothers' dirty mirror.

I like how the dress fits me. The darts on my chest area are not that unbecomingly loose... 
I'm just not that gifted in that area and I forgot to put it on with a bra. 
OVER-SHARING is part of this blog.

And this is my attempt to show you how it looks on me without the use of a decent camera 
and without the help of a kind family member to take my photo.

Oh, by the way, I changed the neckline and kinda added more shape to the original pattern by adding darts in the back. I also added facings for the neckline and the armholes as suggested by my dear mummy. Is it still the same dress??!

Some problems I encountered:

1. Using the zigzag stitch to finish off the raw edges was quite challenging. The fabric was a bit too soft or flimsy for it, the cloth would bunch up between stitches! I had to sew the zigzag 1/4" in before cutting off the extra fabric (I recently purchased my new go-to book which has affirmed what I learned when working on this).

2. Finishing off the ragged edges of two seams together was a stupid move. It made me too lazy to rip out the side seam stitches when I wanted to insert my invisible zipper. More about that horror story here.

3. Darts are a bit complicated to sew in, as most stitchers would tell you (I didn't "listen"). I followed the darts placement in the original pattern and I didn't even attempt to modify it for my own body shape.
Don't worry, like I mentioned earlier, I just recently bought this book and will be learning a bit more, I hope.

Ahh. What a first project. I can't say I'm extremely proud of it (I didn't "unabashedly" tell everyone at the office that I made the dress I was wearing), but I'm not ashamed of it, that's f'sho! I learned a lot and it has really taught me the value of good tools and good advice from other stitchers and sewists.

Can't wait to try the other patterns!

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Incredibly Difficult Invisible Zipper

For that dress that I began a couple of weeks ago, I decided to insert an invisible zipper in the side since I wanted to put darts in the back for more shaping.

Now I don't really understand what possessed me to decide to use an invisible zipper for my first ever attempt at making a garment. I did some extensive research (aka read different blogs with tips) in order to prepare myself for the task and I found out a lot of important things about sewing with invisible zippers. I am not saying I am now an expert on invisible zippers, but I learned some thing about 'em:

1. You have to press the zipper teeth flat first before attaching.
2. You have to sew the invisible zipper on FIRST, before sewing the seams.

I didn't, couldn't do any of these. I had already sewn the seams of that dress and I was too lazy to rip the stitches out (details in the FO post once the dress is back from the wash). I know, I'm such a lazy ass. As if I could afford to be! Me being a beginner and all!

Well yeah, so I got too lazy to rip the seams out to redo everything so I  just ripped out the stitches from part of the left side. I tried pressing the zipper teeth flat, but I couldn't seem to do it right.

They just wouldn't stay flat! My iron was probs too cool. But I was afraid of melting the teeth.

And when I brought out my machine, I just realized that the zipper teeth I bought would not fit!! Muvvafff!!

Look how sturdy it looks! But I think this was made 
for an older machine.

It's my fault, really. I didn't compare it with my machine's actual foot. 
But to be fair, the saleslady wasn't helpful at all.

Being both lazy and impatient at the same time, I just decided to hand-pick the invisible zipper onto my dress. I wasn't sure it was possible, as most of the hand-picking zippers tutorials I found on the net were for regular zippers.

Here's the most clear and helpful tutorial I found. And it's from Sewaholic. But it's for a regular zipper.

I basted the zipper tape to the seams of my dress and then tried to prickstitch it very close to the zipper teeth, much like how it would happen using a machine with an invisible zipper foot! I was so nervous about how it would turn out, wondering whether it would really work, but it seems to be fine! I'm actually proud of it:

Here it is, closed. Doesn't look bad at all eh?

The nicest thing about invisible zippers is that they're INVISIBLE! No way to see the inconsistent stitches haha.

I can't believe I was actually able to sew quite close to the teeth! G'job me!

Here's the inside. Eek. I wasn't sure how invisible zippers are supposed to look like from the inside.

See those prickstitches?? What, you can't? 
Oh yeah, 'cause I did a good enough job of it!
Also, I'm too smug for my own good.

Dear world, I'm sorry for being a sloppy stitcher. I can imagine the look of horror on other people's faces after reading this post.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The ball is rolling. I think.

Today, I finally got my ass to that fabric store in Farmer's, Cubao that also sells notions and stuff.

Got myself 3 invisible zippers; one in white, two in black. I only really needed one, but I'm imagining the other dresses I'm gonna be sewing soon. I hope!

Also got a new pair of fabric shears, the kind whose blades bend at an angle for more precision. But the best part is, the store had quite a collection of sewing machine foots! Feet, I mean! At last, I finally have a zipper foot. I've never sewn a zipper on before, and I'm a bit nervous about it for some reason. Why should I be? It's just sewing, not a job interview!

Anyway, I wasn't sure which zipper foot to get, poor unexperienced me, so I got two: one that was labelled "invisible zipper foot" and the other, "single foot left". I'm not sure if the latter is meant for zipper sewing, but I vaguely remember seeing a zipper-sewing tutorial with a foot like that before.

Let's see what happens to me tomorrow after I try working more on that dress I began last week. Completing this dress perfectly could probably give me more confidence to start sewing my own garments. Sew excited!

And here I go again, crazy about another crafty phase. My knitting and crocheting haven't been forgotten, but I'm kinda addicted to sewing these days.

I actually hand-sewed my own pin cushion! Unbelievable. Me who loves brandishing my new-old sewing machine. Here it is:

My own pattern. Just started cutting out pieces from scraps created from last week's alter-fest.

I don't even know what it's supposed to be! Is it a rotten tomato? A squash seen in the negative? Marc and mom say it looks like a sea creature, anemone, or whatever. As long as it serves its purpose of keeping my pins where I can see them, I will love this little monster forever.

I love that hand-sewing actually feels as therapeutic as knitting and crochet are to me.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

They game, I craft

Last Black Saturday was spent at JP's condo. The guys (Marc, Brian and JP) wanted to play a few games together. I tagged along for the booze, pizza and fun, but I brought my knitting to keep me busy while they played.

Brian and Marc

I finally got to finish my Lily of the Valley knit bonnet! It took a while 'cause I had trouble with gauge and incorporating the lace pattern into the number of stitches I was able to cast on.

But here tis, so purdy:

Had to model it myself 'cause my sister wasn't around.

And in case that crappy photo wasn't enough to see the thing nicely, here's another crappy one:

I couldn't decide which one looked best. And mind you, I took tons of photos. 
It's so hard not having a proper camera *tears.

But I'm happy with it. Some of my friends have already yelled out their claims on it. Though I'm not sure I wanna give it away. This was supposed to be just a prototype for some plans I have for future bazaars. We'll see, we'll see.

I don't know how well my lack of story-telling is keeping you interested in this post, but here's a photo of JP trying out this quick wine-chilling trick I read on Cup of Jo:

You're supposed to wrap the bottle in a wet paper towel and pop it into the freezer. 
It's supposed to end up chilled in no-time.

I can't remember now if it worked or not. haha

Monday, April 9, 2012

Good Hardworkin' Friday

The 5 days off from work (holy week in the Philippines) was spent working on stuff I love.

I brought out one of my old dresses that I find are now too short for me. Instead of throwing it out, I decided to make it shorter and turn it into a decent blouse. Yay for more outfifs!

From obscenely short dress to decent, proper blouse!

When the rest of the household saw I was enjoying my time with my new-old machine, they took the opportunity to ask me to alter some o' their garments too.

Tito Benj asked me to turn his hole-y pants into nice going-out shorts: Check!
Jenny asked for her jeans to be cut down to just the right length for her height: Check!
Manang Bell asked for the 3 pairs of cotton pants to be sent to her ma in the province to be turned into bermuda shorts: Check!

AND, I was also able to start my first ever dress: A simple shift from a Japanese pattern book I found in a local bookstore. Oh my, these Japanese pattern books come for reeeally cheap, I can't help buying all of them! They cost only about 85 Php, which is about $2 each. All the outfits in there are really cute too. I wanna make 'em all. It's just so funny that one of the models in one issue had the same face in ALL her photos. Like she was high on life or something. But iz all good. She's pretty anyway.

Well, here it is:

It needs more work done. I think I'll put some darts in the back, and then add an invisible zipper in the side, 
maybe shape the sides a bit too. 

I still need to buy a zipper foot for my machine though! I don't have any, and I've never used one before. Time to consult the ever-trusty Youtube for some tutorials on how to use 'em :)


I was also able to make a thin little red headband by knitting an i-cord the day before that:

Modelled by my sister dear. 

I think I'll be making more of these in various colors and thickness. They'll make cute headbands!!

Speaking of my sister, she turned 32 on the last day of March! Happy 32 to her!

Here she is with her boyfriend Russ.

And here Marc and I are, at the birthday lunch:

Not looking at the lens!! @#%!(%$!*~

Take two:
See how happy he is to have found the lens to look at. Small joys. LOL.

Next up, gotta buy a zipper foot, some invisible zippers, a rotary cutter, and more black and white thread. I managed to use up all of mom's supply.
Wish I could buy a camera, but I haven't considered it in my monthly budget. Sigh. I want better photos!