Thursday, June 28, 2012

Putting my scraps to good use.

My dad warned me that I was very much in danger of turning in to my grandmother if I wasn't careful.  Not that there is anything wrong with that mind you, grandma was a wonderful woman, but she did have a slight tendency to hoard fabric scraps.  No, not  like the TV show hoarders, but like 3 or 4 boxes of them in her bedroom closet. :)

I've been sewing for a few years now, and have a hard time throwing away large scraps or remnants.  Anything larger than 5 or6" get's saved.  Especially of the nicer materials, where I imagine someday they might get used as trim, ro made into doll clothing.
I had actually managed to accumulate 3 cloth grocery bags full of scraps, going all the way back to my very first sewing project some 10 years ago or more!

So last night I'm looking at these in my sewing area of the closet and thinking that I should probably nip this sort of thing in the bud.  I started to go through them, only saving the really large pieces (1/2 yard or more remnants), and setting aside all the smaller bits.  I hate to throw these in the garbage though, so an idea formed in my mind.

Our ferrets love to dig!  We made them a dig box using bedding a few weeks ago, but they continually pushed the bedding out of the box and all over the floor, making a huge mess.  But if the pushed these fabric scraps out, it wouldn't be a huge mess that required vacuuming, just pick them up and put them back!

So I spend an hour or so sorting through the fabrics, and cutting the small pieces up even smaller so the ferrets would strangle on any long pieces or anything.  My husband got out a large box, we filled it with the now even scrappier scraps, and walla, ferret playground!

They love it, and it is better than just tossing them into the trash.  Only thing is, they tend to want to sneak some of the shinier, sparklier scraps out and stash them in corners, lol.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

I'll make the whole world Neil....

Recently I have become somewhat obsessed by a short film called Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.  It has an somewhat corny title, and this reflects it's somewhat corny contents.
My husband turned this on Netflix a few weeks back while I was in the kitchen making dinner.  Now, I love musicals and he knows this, so it was kind of like he was teasing me.  I kept popping my head into the living room to see what was going on, the music drew me like a shiny fishing lure, but I still missed most of it.

The next day I sat with my daughter and watched the whole thing through.  Then we watched it again.  And maybe just one more time for good measure. :D
The story is a comedic tragedy that is, in my very humble opinion, a genius piece of work. It is a supervillain/superhero musical, only 42 minutes long, and was released completely free on Youtube 4 years ago.  Not your typical piece of movie-making!  All the actors, writers, technicians and everyone worked on this for free (for fun, for family!), only getting paid later if (and when) the short film made money.  And it did!

The campy-ness is slightly reminiscent of the old Adam West Batman series, which I just love.

The music is mostly short, and deceptively simple, but it will get stuck in your head, I promise!  Well, unless you don't like musicals...
The thing is, for all its seeming goofyness and constant laughs, it does what the greatest stories do, and that is let us get a rare glimpse into the human condition.  The entire film is loaded with deep ironies, dark humor, and insights into modern American culture.  This is not Superman, where everything is pretty black and white.  This story shows us that all people are shades of grey, and not everyone is what they appear to be.
Oh, and I just adore Neil Patrick Harris in this role!  His voice is wonderful, and his acting is amazing.

Although I could go into a deep analysis here, I don't want to post any spoilers today.  Next time!!  But, if you haven't seen it, it is streaming on Netflix, or you can still watch it on Youtube for free.  Unless you really don't like musicals, comedy, or supervillains/hero's, you won't be disappointed!! :)

I also JUST got the DVD, as it has some bonus features, including "Commentary, the Musical!", an entire second musical that is nearly as brilliant.  But I digress.

Now you may be saying to yourself, but Linda, this is (mostly!) a sewing blog. What has this short movie to do with sewing??  The answer: Everything!  I have decided I absolutely must re-create Dr.Horrible's lab coat (um, for James, of course!).

 It is a vintage piece, the style is called a "Howie".  There are no patterns that come even close, so I'm pretty much winging it.  I did find some people who have used Simplicity 5386 and altered it somewhat successfully, so I started there myself, using this tutorial.  However, I was quick to discover (after much tissue alteration) that this costume pattern doesn't really make what I want.  It flares at the base, as the Matrix trench coats do.  The Lab coat I want is very rectangular.  The altered pattern also lacks a proper facing where the buttons are, so I've had to make that up as well.  There are other alterations I have made, but I'm still at the tissue altering/drafting stage.  I cut a muslin from ~gasp~ a baby blue floral sheet !  James will be thrilled when I have to fit him in it,  LOL.  But I really do want it to be pretty authentic looking, not some cheapo knock-off.

The good news is I get to re-watch the movie a bunch, trying to find good shots of the coat...or I so tell my husband.  Mwahahaha...haha.  Yeah...I need to work on my evil laugh. :D
I even plan to hand embroider the caduceus on the breast wish me luck there.

I have been taking pictures and making notes, as I want this costume to be very authentic.  I plan on posting a 2 or 3 blog-post long tutorial with lots of pictures, so if you interested, stay tuned!  I was lucky today and found the perfect slightly off-white cotton twill fabric for only $6 a yard (needed 3 yards, I hope!!), and buttons.  It will be up to James to design and / or find the accessories.

Now back to the stunningly boring chore of...laundry!  :D

Friday, June 8, 2012

Two patterns, many looks

Here is the newest version of the shorts in pinstripe plaid with navy contrasts. I really like this version best of all so far (though still love the corduroy!)

One Pattern, Many Looks

Well, I'm only entering one of the patterns in the contest, but made a second version of another pattern I had just made up as well.  This is really unusual for me, I tend to make a pattern once, then move on.
It is fun to find TnT's!

The shorts (Simplicity 1887) are what I'm entering into the contest, and I plan to make them once more before the contest is over.  We'll just see how that goes.  I have 2 versions so far.  The first (wearable muslin in upholstery fabric) turned out on the large side, but still wearable. The second version, the brown corduroy with the upholstery fabric as accent turned out a perfect fit!  Not baggy at all like the first pair.  I learned a lot about crotch depth and size making these, which should come in handy in future pants making endeavors.

The corduroy was such a small remnant, I really had to squeeze out the front, back, and front waistband pattern pieces.  I still hit a damaged spot that I put a little patch on (turned out cute).  Still, it gave me opportunity to be creative in how to fill in the missing piece pattern gaps!

After I started on the brown corduroy shorts, I realized I didn't really have any tops that would go with it. You have no idea the sad state of my summer wardrobe, though I am working on that! :)  So I decided I could whip up a matching top in no time using McCall's 6078. I had just made a summer dress from this pattern, and I knew it took very little fabric, and was very quick to make.
My Great aunt has recently given me a TON of fabric, so it was fun to go through my (new to me) stash and find something suitable.  I found this cream colored slightly sheer, very finely ribbed knit.  It was a good color match for the shorts, and I thought would look good with the drape neck, and be a cute sweater-tank top. :)  Also, it will match MANY things as I sew along, so just a great wardrobe builder.  Also, bonus that the fit is so good,and it is SO comfy!

Quick side note:, I fixed the gawdy too-short summer dress from the same pattern by using the center remnant to create a ruffle.  Here are the old- (too short) version and the new fixed version with the ruffle.  I LOVE the ruffle, I totally want to wear this dress now, instead of hiding it in the closet. The longer length is a HUGE improvement, don't you think?!

So, here comes summer, and I'm really ready! I feel my sewing mojo returning. I have a lots of ideas (and now quite a good amount of fabric to use!), and am very excited to play around with them!