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1  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / Books on Vegan Nutrition on: February 24, 2009 07:40:53 AM
So, I am considering becoming a "mostly" vegan.  I hope to reduce the dairy in my daily diet, but I'll still keep eating eggs occasionally.   I feel like I get a lot of my nutrition (vitamins, protein) from dairy, so I'm interested in reading more about maintaining a healthy vegan diet with balanced nutrition.  I don't want to be doing anything extreme, though.  A down-to-earth, no nonsense book with lots of reputable factual information and sample menus of how to make it work in real life would be very helpful.  Any suggestions?
2  CLOTHING / Sewing Pattern Reviews / Vogue 8323 - Princess seam knit top on: February 05, 2009 10:56:35 AM
Pattern: Vogue 8323

(click the picture to see more photos in my Picasa album)

This is a great knit top pattern, and I highly recommend it!  What I love is that those princess seams are not just decorative - they provide a lot of shaping.  I made a size down from what I normally sew for knit tops (a size 10, my bust measurement is 36.5" for reference), and I ended up letting out the side seams 1/2" on each side (1" circumference).  I would recommend basting before you make anything permanent - there are a lot of seams to play with, so you should be able to get a great fit.

The one thing about this pattern is to ignore the techniques they suggest - Vogue always seems to have weird ideas about how to sew knits.  For seams, a small zigzag will work.  I used my serger for all the seams, and my new coverstitch machine  Grin (a Brother 2340cv) for the hems.  A twin needle would work great for the hems also.

Instead of the recommended bias tape for the neckline, I cut a band on the cross grain of the knit 3/4 the length of the neckline (plus seam allowances) and serged that on, which has the added bonus of raising the neckline a bit.

Anyway, I would definitely recommend this pattern and I'll be making it again for sure! Smiley
3  CLOTHING / Clothing: Discussion and Questions / BurdaStyle patterns no longer free on: January 07, 2009 05:44:37 PM
I was just curious if anyone here had gotten the announcement in the newsletter that BurdaStyle is now going to start charging for most of their patterns in order to make the business more "sustainable" (profitable).  User submitted patterns will still be free, but even patterns that used to be free are now available for purchase.  From what I can tell, prices are around $3-5.

I know some people are pretty upset about this - are you? 

I'm not really, but I have a lot of other sources for patterns (including $1 pattern sales and 10 cent thrift store patterns), and I can afford to pay the new fees.  If I see something I really like on BurdaStyle, I would still buy it and make it.  This seems like it might be a bit of a transition for BurdaStyle - expectations about the quality of the patterns, instructions, and customer service will be increased.  It will be interesting to see how the site and patterns change in response. 

Anyway, I'm interested to hear what others think.   Smiley
4  CLOTHING / Sewing Pattern Reviews / New Look 6813: V-neck knit top on: June 26, 2008 07:57:28 AM
I have been digging the New Look patterns lately - this one is New Look 6813, done in mystery (probably poly/cotton) interlock knit from a thrift shop in salmon, and clearance mystery (again probably poly/cotton) dark brown jersey from Joann's.

This was a very quick top to make, but it didn't turn out quite as I had expected.  I expected something a little more close-fitting, and I thought the V-neck would be more modest.  It is alright as-is, and I will certainly wear it, but keep in mind if you want a close-fitting top you might have to go down a size or two.  This was already a size smaller than my measurements indicated.  If I make this one again, I will probably raise the neckline a bit in addition to making the whole thing in a smaller size.

I did most of the construction on my serger, except for the construction of the contrasting neckband and the hem, which is twin-needle stitched on my regular machine.  Instead of sewing the neckband to the garment then turning under the edge of the facing and stitching it down, I serged the neckband and facing to the garment in one step.  The inside finish is not as nice, but it was a lot faster!  I still need to do some practicing with V-necklines on my serger -- this was a little hair raising because I didn't baste first, but it came out ok!

The only real change I made to the design was adding the bands to the sleeves.  The sleeves were too big and quite droopy, so I added a band of the brown fabric cut on the crosswise grain, and stretched it quite a bit.  This cinched in the sleeves a little and made it a little nicer.  I had intended to add the bow at the neckline, but with the overall droopy look of the top, it looked a little silly so I left it off.  The bow is just a separate piece that's stitched on at the end, in case you are debating whether that's a good look for you.

Overall, I would recommend this pattern, as long as you pay attention to the sizing and the depth of the neckline.  Maybe make a practice version first.  I think it might be a little less droopy in a fabric with some spandex - I think my fabric tends to stretch but doesn't have much recovery.  I have a lot of other things I want to try, but I might come back to this top again at some point.

Well, any questions, comments or suggestions?   Grin
5  CLOTHING / Sewing Pattern Reviews / New Look 6179: Easy peasant top on: June 26, 2008 07:42:11 AM
This top would be great for beginners!  The pattern is New Look 6179, and the fabric is crinkle cotton gauze from Hancock fabrics.   Now, on to the pictures:

Note, if you decide to use a crinkle fabric, you can't press it with an iron.  Just smooth it out a little with your hands and finger press the seams.  You'll want to leave the crinkles in when you cut, otherwise it will shrink up when you wash it and become too small.

Now, about the pattern itself.  This one is super easy - the only vaguely tricky part is sewing the notch, and the illustrations show that pretty well.  Instead of using bias tape to make a casing, I added 1" to the neckline edge and turned it under.

Be aware when you pick your pattern size that this top has a lot of ease in it.  I made a size smaller than what my measurements indicated, and it is still quite loose.  The plus side is that since it's loose fitting, you won't have to make a bunch of alterations to get it to fit.  The downside is that it might not be the most flattering.  I think a row of elastic at the empire waistline would probably make it a bit more flattering, but for now I'm embracing the loose fit.  It will comfy to wear on hot days.  This top would also make a nice coverup for the beach.

Any questions, comments or suggestions?  I'd love to hear from you.   Smiley
6  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: General / Summer Mini-Wardrobe on: May 30, 2008 05:40:21 PM
I've been working on this mini-wardrobe for a contest over on patternreview.com:
(click for a slightly larger picture)

You can look at the individual pictures in my Picasa album here: Mini Wardrobe Album

Here's a link to my contest entry: Mini-Wardrobe Contest entry.  You have to join to read the full review, but it's free.

The challenge for this contest was to make a 4-piece wardrobe in the month of May.  I finished yesterday, with 2 days to spare!   Cheesy

Now for a few details on the patterns, if you're interested:

Tops: Simplicity 2936
This pattern is super easy and has some cute options.  The raglan sleeves make these especially easy to sew.  I cut a size smaller than my measurements indicated, and added 1" to the width and 1/2" to the length in the front in a full bust adjustment.  I did this by slashing the front pattern piece at each tuck, adding 1/4" to each, and then increasing the tuck by 1/4" to take out the extra at the waist.  I also lengthened 1/2" by slashing horizontally and spreading the pattern, tapering to nothing at the sides. 

I made view C with gathered sleeves for the white/blue/green top, which was definitely the fastest and easiest.  The yellow top is view D without the collar, and those little ties on the sleeves took a bit of putzing around.  A little tricky with narrow seam allowances, and I had to hold my breath turning them right side out because my fabric was so fragile!  But, not difficult and worth the extra hour of sewing time (and I'm pretty slow).  I heartily recommend this pattern for summer tops!

Bottoms: Simplicity 3846
Another nice and easy pattern.  I made both the skirt and shorts without any alterations, except changing the length.  I shortened the skirt about 3/8" and did a blind hem by hand instead of a narrow machine stitched hem.  I also shortened the shorts by about 3", which was tricky because they have a cute little vent thing going on for the bottom hem.  If you aren't very tall (I am 5'6"), it would be wise to figure out how long you want these before you cut out the pattern because the leg is slightly tapered and the part that will be turned up for the hem needs to flare slightly to match the width of the leg, if that makes sense.  I didn't do this, and it was a little tricky to get things lined up right in the end.  Both the skirt and the shorts have a side zipper, and I used an invisible zipper, which I think is a lot easier and neater looking than a regular one.

I actually bought this pattern for short sleeve jacket, but the nice basic skirt and shorts were a pleasant surprise when I realized they would work perfectly for my mini-wardrobe.  I have enough of the khaki twill fabric to make the matching jacket, but I wasn't going to attempt that for the contest.  Smiley

Well, thanks for looking, and I'd love to hear what you think!  Questions, comments, suggestions?
7  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: General / BurdaStyle Stella Jacket for Spring! on: March 23, 2008 06:16:23 PM
Spring break was this week, and I had grand plans to sew a bunch of clothes..but all I got done was this jacket.  I'm still pretty happy about that though. Smiley  The pattern is free from BurdaStyle: Stella.  Here come the pictures!

Lining, complete with ease pleat (in the center, though it's kind of hard to see):

This was not as hard as I thought it would be, but it did require a bit of patience.  I made a practice version to check fit - since I am a C cup I chose the size based on my high bust measurement and did a full bust adjustment to add width and length to the front panels.  I deviated from the instructions a bit in order to "bag" the lining.  I used this tutorial for that: Thread tutorial for bagging a jacket lining.  If you're thinking about this pattern, you should know the instructions are slightly incomplete.  There is a drawing for the last step, but no text.  You could probably figure out what to do anyway, but just something to keep in mind.  It didn't matter much for me since I was following the tutorial for finishing the lining.

The only truly tricky part was the bias strips - you have to stretch them a bit to get them to curve around the front, and I may have stretched mine too much because they tend to flip up.  The pattern said to trim the strips to about 1 1/2", but that leaves very little overlap and if they flip up, the stitching shows.  If I had it to do over again, I would not trimmed the strips so narrowly and would have stitched them with a thread color that blended with the strip rather than brown to match the jacket.  No biggie -- I'm waiting to see if another pressing or two will keep them in place, or if I might want to hand sew them down in a few places.

Anyway, I really enjoyed making this jacket, and I thought fellow Craftsters might like to hear about it since it is from the awesome BurdaStyle site and it is *free.*  A more detailed explanation of what I did can be found here on my sewing message board: Completed jacket on Sew What's Up, and higher resolution pictures can be found in my Picasa web album: Photos

Let me know what you think and if you have any questions!
8  CLOTHING / Clothing Sewalongs / Spring/Summer Wardrobe Sewalong on: February 10, 2008 11:20:45 AM
I apologize if there's already a thread on this somewhere, but I was wondering if anyone else was interested in a sewalong for spring/summer clothes.  I'm planning to sew a whole bunch of new clothes for spring, following a plan that will let me mix and match pieces to create lots of different outfits.  Here is an article from Timmel Fabrics about how to create a coordinated wardrobe: Sewing with a plan  Ok, the styles in the pictures are outdated  Wink, but they illustrate the concept and the general rules will work for any wardrobe.

So, here's what I've come up with so far for spring:
(Click to view a slightly larger image in my Picasa album, plus pictures of completed items so far)

Here is the list of patterns I'll be using, in case you're interested:
Simplicity 3775 - dress
BurdaStyle Stella - jacket
Vogue 2925 - camisole
Vogue 2812 - jeans
Butterick 4457 - shirt
Kwik Sew 3578 - dress
Butterick 5042 - skirt
Simplicity 3686 - pants
Butterick 4926 - jacket
Simplicity 4045 - dress
Simplicity 3786 - shirt
New Look 6407 - shirt

They are approximately in the order I will sew them - I've already made the Simplicity 3775 dress listed first and now I'm working on the BurdaStyle Stella jacket.  I'm hoping to make most of the rest for spring, but the last 2 shirts in the lower right corner might get pushed back until summer.  The little boxes show fabric color where I've decided it, and ?'s mean I haven't picked out a fabric yet (there are a lot of them..).  Anyway, I'd love to hear what you think of my ever-evolving "plan"!  If anyone's interested in joining me either for a coordinated wardrobe, or just spring/summer clothes in general, please do!   Grin
9  CLOTHING / Sewing Pattern Reviews / Simplicity 3686 - easy, versatile pants pattern on: January 03, 2008 06:29:41 PM
Without further ado, here are the pictures ~

Edited 10/9/2008: Photos seem to not be cooperating 100%, so here's a link to my picasa album: Pictures here



Front closeup:

Pocket closeup:

This was a great pattern -- easy to put together, but with some unique detailing.  The pockets look complicated, but really are pretty simple to do.  I would definitely recommend this pattern to a beginner with some experience (but not an *absolute* beginner, as there are kind of a lot of pieces and steps).  It would make a good pattern for a first attempt at pants -- this is only my second pair of pants.  The wide leg means you don't have to deal with fitting issues in the legs.  The crotch could need adjusting, but for me it was fine as is.  As far as sizing, I was between two sizes and cut the smaller size, which fits well.  The fabric is a cotton-spandex twill, and was very easy to work with.

ETA: I forgot to mention that the pattern also has an option for slim leg pants, which also look great.  I hope to try them in the near future!

Questions, comments, suggestions?  Smiley
10  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: General / Jeans - I might be crazy, but I made them! on: October 17, 2007 07:54:10 AM
Looking for a challenge, I decided to make a pair of jeans.  I had never made any pants before, let alone jeans.  I figured it would be tricky, but the pattern I used (Vogue 2812) claimed to be "Very Easy" -- how hard could it be?  The answer: pretty darn hard, but worth the effort!  Here come the pics:

They took me a couple weeks from start to finish, sewing a few hours here and there.  In the end I would say they were probably 20 hours of work, but that includes a lot of basting, checking fit, ripping out stitches, etc.  The fabric was a medium-light weight cotton/spandex denim from Joann's I got on clearance for $2/yd.  I used topstitching thread in "camel" for the topstitching.  My little Singer 6038 did great with the seams and topstitching, and I used my serger for seam finishing.

The pattern had a few neat details - first is the seaming at the knee.  I didn't realize there was a seam there when I bought the pattern, but I think it gives some interest to an otherwise plain pair of jeans.  Also, it has non-functional front pockets.  You lose some utility, of course, but you also don't have to worry about your jeans fitting weird because you're carrying too much in your pockets.  So many of my clothes don't have pockets now - I'll have to make a little wrist pouch or something to carry around keys to my office when I'm at work.

Perhaps I'm a bit naive, but I always hope that my patterns will fit right out of the envelope.  They rarely ever do!  A short summary of the fitting adjustments I made: I basically had to redraw the legs 1.5" slimmer on each leg since they were very loose, even though I was between sizes and made the smaller size.  The waistband, however, fit pretty well except for needing a sway back adjustment (I took a wedge out of the center back seam to fix gappage in the waistband).  I also shortened the front crotch by about 1".  I didn't do any petite adjustment (hey, I'm 5' 6", not petite!) but I did end up taking 2" off the hem.  Next time I might shorten them a little above the knee so the seaming at the knee hits a little higher.

So, after all that adjusting and topstitching and breaking 2 denim needles, I'm ready for an instant gratification project!  I have an important UFO to finish, but after that I think I'm going to make a bunch of easy knit tops.   Grin  For those of you who are interested in making jeans..go for it!  All it takes a little patience (well, maybe a lot!) and a bit of elbow grease.  Questions, comments and suggestions are very much appreciated!   Grin
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