There is a baby on it’s way in the immediate family, and of course I needed to make that baby something. I’ve been collecting and holding on to random scraps of fabric lately, thinking that *someday*, surely I will be able to use it for some cool project – which turned out to be this one! (ok, here is a confession: It’s not lately that I’ve been holding on to scraps, it’s always. I’ve just started anew since moving to Chicago).

Re-purposing things gives me such a thrill, rivaled only by the glee of getting use out of every little piece of something, like scraps of fabric (or lengths of yarn, or every drop of shampoo, or leftover food. Yes, I am very thrifty. And it makes me very happy.) And for this baby-blanket I certainly got to do that!

babyblanket_scrapsSurprisingly few scraps were harmed used for this project.

I think perhaps this is the quilt where I got the idea of doing long strips of scraps for a blanket, and I am quite certain that a couple of her other quilts have been both a direct and an unconscious inspiration. I’m really drawn to this woman’s mix of traditional methods with a modern and graphic look. At any rate, I gathered all my fabric scraps first, picked out the ones I though went well together, and started cutting them into 3 inch wide strips, that I then cut to random lengths. I then sewed the pieces together in a fairly random order, until the strips were long enough. The teal-colored heavy jersey for the background was in an oddly shaped piece, but I managed to get six rectangles out of it – two for the shorter sides, and four to go next to the scrap-strips. Next came sewing all the strips and long rectangles of jersey together. In my enthusiasm for starting the blanket, I wasn’t terribly accurate in cutting the pieces of fabrics with straight lines and 90 degree angles. It would have been a little easier to sew it all together if everything matched up, but it worked out alright anyways.


After the top layer was all done, I added three layers of a rib jersey to make the blanket nice and soft. I decided to use that instead of the traditional quilt batting, since the loose batting might shift during machine washing, which I thought would be important for a baby blanket. (I’ve never used quilt batting, so I might be wrong about this one!) Also, I had lots of that jersey on hand, which meant I had everything I needed to make the blanket right away. To hold the layers together, the boy and I (he’s the co-designer of the blanket) settled on a sort of sun-burst looking pattern – something that would be linear, like the strips of scraps,  without being neither horizontal nor vertical. For the binding I ended up making bias tape out of a cotton I’d also used for some of the scraps. It’s nice when things actually match sometimes! The bias tape was surprisingly nice and easy to make, but wow – it took a really long time to hand-sew it on.

babyblanket_stitchSewing at sunset by a lake in northern Maine. It was lovely.

And finally, as a little finishing touch, I embroidered a little message on the back:


underwear, v2.0

I’m back with the underwear! This was my first attempt, and I’m happy to report that they are all still in commission. This batch is the new and improved version, and this is what I got out of a nice, soft, size M, cotton t-shirt:


So, to sum up, I learned a couple of things from sewing up the first round of underwear (hence these new ones being improved).

  • Pick t-shirts with care. Stiff is not so good because of the lack of give, soft is good, but supersoft is not better. Supersoft often means superthin too, which tends to make for a weaker fabric.
  • Avoid a lot of stress on the seams. Which sounds silly because it’s underwear, and should be able to put up with a lot of wear and tear. For the first batch of underwear I attached the binding by sewing right sides together, flipping over and around, and stitching in the ditch to secure the backside of the binding. This however, meant that there was a lot of tension where the binding and main fabric were joined, especially since I used a straight and non-giving seam.
  • Lay pattern-pieces on the grain. My thrifty self wants to get every use out of that t-shirt, but you will end up with a stretchier piece of underwear that doesn’t twist if you actually go with the grain, rather than randomly squeezing things in.

underwear_lineOps, I got the inside and outside mixed up on this one. See the zigzag-stitch on the binding?

Let’s get technical (skip this if you’re not too much into underwear construction!):

I used the same patterns as for the first pairs I made. The one for me has four pattern-pieces, and the one for the boy has six. For mine, there is the front and the back piece, and two identical gusset lining pieces. I sandwich the front piece between these two smaller pieces first, and sew them down. Then there is a little moebius-like magic, as I twist the smaller pieced layers before matching them up with the edge of the back piece. Doing it this way makes all the seams completely on the inside, nice and tidy. I use the neckband of the t-shirt as a waistband when I can, and since they usually are ribbed, they stretch and fit quite nicely. Similarly, I use the hem from the sleeves or the body for the binding as well. They all have a crease running down the middle already, which is convenient for matching up the fold with the top of the main underwear piece. For these pairs I sewed down the edges right sides together with a zigzag, before doing the matching up and tucking under (on the wrong side), and using a twin needle to secure the overlapping parts. This might all be a lot clearer with an image-heavy tutorial, I think! Perhaps I will do one if there is desire and interest for it?

The boy version is in many ways much easier to sew. First the two smaller front pieces go together (four pieces cut out, so two identical sets when this step is done), and then that is attached to the large front pieces on either side. The back seam is next, and at this point, I do a double top stitched seam on all seams, meaning that I sew a straight seam to either side of the pressed open seam. It’s not terribly functional, but it looks very nice. Now I add the second layer of the front piece, but seam allowances of these front panels facing each other, so it’s as nice and tidy as can be. I couldn’t find a way to tuck the edges of this piece under without making it bulky, so I left them raw and uncovered. They seem to be doing just fine – t-shirt material doesn’t really unravel. Almost done! After sewing the inseam, the hem is turned up and zigzag’ed (a twin needle would also work), and then the elastic waistband is secured with a zigzag-seam as well.


Waistband made from the t-shirt neckband, and a nice double seam on the binding, courtesy of the twin needle.

There we go, new underwear! And what have I learned?

  • Twin needles are my friends. They make a very nice, evenly spaced double seam on the right side, and a zigzag (and thus stretchy) seam on the wrong side.
  • The patterns should be symmetrical. I haven’t done anything to the pattern since I traced it from an old piece of underwear, and it’s not completely even. I think the pieces will sew together more accurately once I’ve retraced and fixed the pattern.

This is becoming a ongoing project I look forward to doing – it’s pretty quick and easy to do, so it earns instant gratification points. It’s also re-purposing, and I especially like how useful the end product is! With several t-shirts in my pile, it only becomes a matter of picking which color to do next!

stripy scarf

As predicted, it’s been quiet around my sewing machine lately. My travels to Chicago went just fine, and now I’m spending my days going to school and settling in. I’m moving into a new apartment in a couple of weeks, so I still have some time before the dust can really settle around me! Meanwhile, my sewing machine is lacking some electrical add-ons before it can function fully with this foreign electrical system, so sadly (I’m experiencing withdrawal syndrome!), sewing is still off for another little while.

In the meantime, I’ll post a knitting project I completed this summer. It’s starting to become somewhat of a tradition; for celebrations that usually come with gifts, I knit something for the boy. I made another scarf for him, since the other last one I made is adorned with pink skulls, and might seem a little morbid sometimes.

So, second in the collection of knit-for-the-boy-scarves (a collection that in the future will count at least five), here is a bold and stripy one:

I used left-over yarn for several previous projects, and I like that looking at this makes me think of other knitted projects I’ve done: the brown is from the striped socks I made the boy, the turquoise is from my sock/hat/mittens set, and the mustard is, of course, from the mustard socks. The white yarn isn’t from a specific project, but it was picked up at a yard sale. Having used remnants and thrifted materials makes me feel extra good about the finished scarf!

I blocked this scarf, and it’s the first time I’ve done that with a finished knit project. Here the sharp lines of the back side are visible. At least, this is the back side to me!

To make the stripes go lengthwise, I ended up using circular needles, to fit all of the 350 stitches on there. There were a lot of stitches to keep track of! On the circular needle it was also hard to tell exactly how long the scarf was, since it was all bunched together while I was working on it. It was exiting to cast off and see how it looked un-bunched! The scarf wasn’t knitted in the round; I knitted back and forth. I tried with just straight knitting stitches first, but I didn’t really like how the texture came out, so I went with one row regular knit, next row purl.

I really like this scarf, and the texture of the purl stitches. I might snatch it from the boy and wear it myself.

i make underwear

Yes, underwear! I made these. They used to be t-shirts, and now they are fully functional, very comfortable underwear. And happily quick to make.

(click the picture to get the back view)

The first thing to do, is find some suitable t-shirts to cut up. I’ve used gifted and thrifted t-shirts, but my closet is under close scrutiny at the moment. I prefer my cotton straight up, no synthetics, and the softer (and thinner), the better.

As I’m no genius at pattern-drafting, I thought sticking with my favorite pair of undies as a model was the best bet. It was quite finicky to make this not-so-big 3D garment translate in to a 2D pattern, but it’s perfectly doable, especially with a little patience and persistence. In cutting the pattern pieces out of the t-shirts, I’ve generally just squished them all in there to get as much out of my t-shirt as possible, but in the future I am going to put down the pattern pieces horizontal on the t-shirt, to get more stretch in the underwear. And this I know from experience now: some t-shirts are naturally quite stiff and has very little give, and that means there is a greater chance of seams tearing, so stretchy t-shirts are good (I guess better luck next time in making underwear for the boy).

(It’s a moose. Too bad Guttkes Fritidsstugor printed his moose on such a stiff t-shirt.)

I’ve even managed to use the neckband of the old t-shirts as waistbands for a couple of the new undies. That makes me quite happy. Also, I’m quite happy with the stitch-in-the-ditch sewing and nice seam finishing on some of these, most visible on the brown underwear in the picture below:

For those who suddenly got an urge to get up and make themselves some underwear, there are some patterns and tutorials out there, like this one at Supernaturale, and this one over at BurdaStyle.

The color scheme of my underwear collection was in no way planned, but brown is a very good color. I’ll end with a picture of the very first undies I made. It looks like the t-shirt would have read ”Alabama” at some point, but it really didn’t. The word was ”Alaba”. Huh.

(eta: thanks to the boy for the pictures)

black pencilskirt

Sometimes, just sometimes, you whip up a skirt, from drafting the pattern, cutting it out and sewing it up, all in one day. I was ecstatic to discover, on such a day, that of my many sewing feet, one of them was a hidden zipper foot. I was not so extatic to discover that the seam initially came too close to the zipper to be functional. That resulted in a less than fortunate incident where the zipper busted, and I was stuck in a highwaisted, snug-fitting skirt. I ended up putting my seam ripper to work on one side seam, and wriggeling out of the skirt. Luckily I wasn’t running late for anything. I’ve since fixed the sideseam and made another (forth and fifth) attempt at the seam, and it’s all done!

Some silly posings: Scarlett Johansson-style (pigeon-toed), pouty secretary-style, cell phone-style (writing silly faux french text messages), 40s-style (flabbergasted housewife).

The fabric is a medium heavy linen, quite textured. I’ve used it before for a pair of dress pants. This time around I managed to get the stretch to go the right way (across, not lengthwise!).

grey and green dress

I’ve finished my green and grey dress!

All ready for spring with a new dress! The pattern is kind of based on Simplicity # 4589 and Built by Wendy (or is it Built by You?) # 3835, and full of my own alterations. I lengthened the top from the Simplicity pattern, and based the lengthening of the sleeves on the Built by Wendy pattern. One problem with insisting on the “wing it – try it on – unpick seams – try again”-approach to sewing is that sometimes it turns out that it’s ok to heed the patternsizes, and that sometimes interfacing is your friend. That aside, I’m quite happy with my dress! And see the inseam pocket? Inseam pockets are the best.

A close-up of the yoke, with some fairly straight decorative stitchings:

The dress was a bit of a patchwork to make, since the pieces I had weren’t all that big. Hence the added panel at the bottom hem, and the diagonal seams on the yoke… The green bits were taken from a dress I thrifted some years back, and I just adore the color (which might be appearent from the header-image!). So far I’ve used that dress for three different projects, but there isn’t much more left of it at this point. The grey fabric came from a friends grandmothers apartment, where I was helping to downsize. In the process I scored some nifty stuff; knitting needles, knitting pattern, fantastic vintage postcards, some belts and this piece of grey material. I’m really not sure what it is though, I’m thinking a viscose blend, based on the feel of it. It’s kind of heavy, but still has a very nice drape.

At the bottom hem I wanted to line with green fabric for a flash of color occasionally peeking out. I didn’t have enough from the green dress, so I used some silk chiffon I scored after a costume job I helped out on (scraps come in handy!). The different greens match quite nicely in daylight, but looks a little off at night in indoors lighting. I think I can live with that though. Here is a detail from the hem-lining:

I can’t even start to say how much I love this greenish, yellowish color. It’s such a perfect blend of bright, muddy and acidic! I’m not sure how to refer to the color though – is it yellow-green, green-yellow, lime, chartreuse? In any case, I think it’s the perfect color to lure spring out of it’s hiding with!