Monday, April 30, 2012

Sunshine Award & MMM Anxiety

Johanna of Making it Well was kind enough to give me the Sunshine Award last week.  Thank you, Johanna! And now, on to the questions.

Favorite Color: Teal-ish/turquoise and red.  Turquoise is definitely my default color - when I'm feeling indecisive about what color to buy something in, I almost always end up bringing home the turquoise.  I have a turquoise blanket, turquoise colander, turquoise towels... funnily enough though, I've never bought turquoise fabric.
Favorite Animal: Kittens! And birds.  And otters.
Favorite Number: 7
Favorite Non-Alcoholic Drink: Ginger ale
Facebook or Twitter: Never Twitter, Facebook on occasion
My Passion: Immigration issues & the complexities of international development.  And you know, sewing and knitting and stuff.
Getting or Giving Presents: I'll be honest - getting! Giving presents makes me anxious.
Favorite Pattern: Sewing pattern - Jalie 2921, or Colette Clover.  Fabric pattern - stripes.
Favorite Day of the Week: Saturday - no work, and still enough weekend time left for errands and fun stuff.
Favorite Flower: Daffodils and sunflowers.
Favorite Celebrity Role-Model: Can I count Gertie as a celebrity?

I know I'm supposed to pass this on to a bunch of my favorite bloggers, but I'm having trouble finding anyone who hasn't already been nominated! So, I refer you to the list in my sidebar if you're looking for some new blogs to explore :)

In other news, Me-Made-May starts tomorrow and I'm feeling very nervous.  I have four me-made items that need fixing (taken in, re-hemmed, etc.) that I just haven't gotten around to.  I also had hoped to make at least 2-3 more garments before tomorrow, but that hasn't happened either.  Life caught up with me.  Hopefully I'll be able to muddle through the next week or so, and get some of these things done over the weekend.

Are you feeling anxious about MMM too?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sewing Space Inspiration

Our new apartment is a good 250-300 square feet larger than the one-room grad student housing studio (say that 10 times fast!) we live in now (which is about 400 square feet).  The extra space is going to be great for a whole bunch of reasons, but I'm sure you can guess the one that's most exciting - more room to sew!

The new place is a one bedroom apartment, so I don't get a whole extra room or anything, but I will get to use a fair amount of space in the bedroom.  To give you a little perspective, this is where I do my sewing now:

I usually cut things out on the desk, or clear off the little 30"x30" dining table we have (ah, the joys of dorm furniture...).  I have big plans though for the new place - a nice, big counter-height cutting space, a little table for my machine to live on, and more.  Most of the furniture will be from IKEA, because when you have to hire someone to pick up you and your stuff, minimizing the number of stores is pretty essential.  My hope is that with some personal, customized touches though, it won't feel too cookie-cutter.

Here's what I'm thinking:

A 30" x 60" table top, with these legs:

Vika Artur table legs from IKEA
They're height-adjustable, which will make the table great for cutting.

A magnetic strip or board to hold presser feet, scissors? (I'm feeling iffy about this, but if they hold knives then why not?), and canisters filled with buttons and other tiny things.

Grundtal magnetic knife rack from IKEA

Grundtal containers from IKEA

Fishing line and these clothespins for inspiration photos:

Source: Clip&Pin on

Railing storage, a la Colette (maybe I'll just keep my scissors here... fewer opportunities for accidents):

Source: Coletterie
Small table, for the machine to live on:
Source: Target

A chair, with this fabric for a cushion:


For fabric storage:


I can't wait until all of this is set up.  I know it won't magically mean I have more time for sewing or that I'm better at it, but I do think that it will make me more efficient.  And it actually may improve my cutting, since I won't be moving things around quite so much.

Did I miss anything important? What's your favorite part of your sewing space?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Burdastyle Feature!

If I had been standing when I saw this, you probably could have knocked me over with a feather.

My Kasia skirt is a featured project on Burdastyle! Yes, it's below the "fold," but I don't care! 
Between my Paron deal this morning and the feature tonight, I would call today a success.

Happy Monday!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Half off at Paron Fabrics!

What's the best cure for a rainy Monday morning? Cheap fabric! Paron Fabrics in the Garment District has a LivingSocial deal (like Groupon) up today - $20 for a $40 voucher.  You can get it here (through my share link) or here (through the plain old boring link).  It expires in October, so if you live in NYC or will be making a trip to the Garment District sometime this summer, don't miss this! 

I discovered Paron Fabrics through some of my favorite bloggers, including Gertie and Mary of Idle Fancy.  I haven't actually made any purchases there yet, only popped in a couple of times briefly, but I've been sorely tempted.  And now, well, as soon as my fabric shopping ban is over (6 more garments to go!), you'll find me at Paron with my voucher burning a hole in my pocket.  Which I will then patch with some new fabric.

No, no one paid me to any of this.  I just get this excited about cheap fabric.  Who doesn't?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Finished: Kasia Skirt

I can't believe it's been nearly a week since my last post - we've been busy with apartment stuff (we have one, yay!), and general life stuff.  It's likely my posts will continue to be more sporadic, since we'll be slowly moving over the next month, but in the very least I'll have regular outfit posts next month for MMM.  And if I'm going to have enough clothes to wear for MMM, there had better be some FO posts thrown in during the next couple of weeks as well.

On another note, thank you to everyone who left their thoughts on my last post - it was so helpful to hear other people's thoughts on replicating patterns.  I'm still not sure where I've landed exactly - probably with the "you shouldn't post a tutorial on how to do it, but it's ok to post the project" crowd.

And now, back to business - my new skirt.

Kasia Skirt

Kasia Skirt

This is the Kasia skirt from Burdastyle.  I cut a 38 in the waist and a 36 everywhere else, and skipped the muslin.  This turned out to be ok - I did have to take it in at the waist (should have just cut a straight 36).  I also found that the only way I could get everything to sit properly at the hips was to gather the side seams themselves, which is not called for in the pattern.  Otherwise, it just felt like everything was bunching up.  I suspect this would not be so much of an issue with someone with larger hips, as I also had to take it in right below the waist as well.  Next time I may remove a wedge of from the side pattern pieces, so that the gathering eases out at the side seams better.  The waistband also tends to wrinkle, since the fabric is so lightweight - I may try some boning next time.  I made no effort to match the pattern at the center back, mostly because I forgot.

Kasia Skirt

Kasia Skirt

The white parts of the fabric are slightly sheer, so I added an underlining.  I tried this method for the first time, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.  I didn't want to mess with a traditional lining for the skirt, because of all of the pieces (and because I'm lazy) so I just underlined the main front and back pieces.  The method I used finished the seams and underlined the pieces all at once, which was extra great because I hate working with rayon linings and this process made it so much less frustrating.

Kasia Skirt

The use of fewer buttons was involuntary.  I went to the store, bought the last six black fabric covered buttons out of the tray, brought them home, and, well, I heard this song in my head:


So, four buttons it was.
I love it though - it's so different in silhouette from anything else I have, and it will be great for summer at work.

Kasia Skirt

Fabric: Cotton print from FFC, leftover from my Minoru Jacket.  Rayon bemberg lining from the same project.  Solid black cotton for pocket facing and hip pieces, doubled for structure.
Pattern: Kasia from Burdastyle
Modifications: Added underlining using this method.  Changed the slit to a vent, using Sunni's tutorial.  Used 4 buttons instead of 6, altered placement.

And now, my favorite way to wear it:

Just kidding.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Copycat Guilt

Or, just because I can, does that mean I should?

As I become more confident in my sewing skills, I'm finding myself making more modifications to patterns to make them just so.  And while I have zero qualms about hacking together a few patterns to look like that Anthropologie dress that cost way too much, or that t-shirt whose price tag nearly made me faint, I do start to feel guilty when I think about using patterns I already have to copy indie designer patterns.

For example, I've seen a few shorts patterns from indie companies that I could probably copy using my Clover pattern.  Is this a bad thing? Should I be buying the pattern I probably don't need so that I don't feel guilty about knocking off the design without making any monetary contribution to the designer? Should I feel guilty about posting projects like that, in case someone else sees them and decides to hack their Clover pattern instead of paying (well deserved) money to another indie pattern company?


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Agatha Cardigan: It's done!

My Agatha sweater is done, and I love it! (Clearly I don't love taking pictures though.)

Agatha Cardigan

No real modifications at all, except slightly fewer stitches picked up along the neckline - I did what felt right for the space, instead of the number of stitches dictated by the pattern.  Overall, it was a pretty enjoyable knit.  The pattern is a little unclear in a couple of places, but not too hard to figure out.  Once I ditched the 16" Denise interchangeables I was using for the sleeves and bought size 5 DPNs, the sleeves went by much faster.

Agatha Cardigan

Agatha Cardigan

I know I'm going to wear it a bunch, especially with my yet-to-be-started Chantilly dress.  It's cozy and a great weight for spring and fall.  I love the cropped length and the long, fitted sleeves.  I think it's a teensy bit long, but it doesn't bother me.

Agatha Cardigan

Thanks, Lauren, for knitting along with me!

Pattern: Agatha Cardigan
Yarn: Berroco Vintage, just over 3 skeins.  
Needles: US5

Up next in knitting? This sweater:

Image courtesy of
Maybe I'll have it done in December... I've definitely been in a sewing mood lately.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Compost Cookies: Fantastically Delicious and Extremely Unhealthy

I swear I've been making things other than yummy cookies.  My Agatha sweater is nearly done (just buttons and weaving in ends left) and I've been making a basic t-shirt pattern building off of Jalie 2921 (made here and here).  But for now, you will just have to live with reading about my delicious cookies.

These cookies have chocolate chips, chocolate covered pretzels, and potato chips in them, in addition to all of the wonderful butter and sugar that normally goes into chocolate chip cookies.  They're incredibly unhealthy, but so delicious! And I used Reduced-Guilt potato chips from Trader Joe's - that translates to the rest of the cookie, right?

This recipe is an adaptation of a couple of recipes I found online, all adapted from Christine Tosi's compost cookie, sold at Momofuku Milk Bar.  I've never had one, though I guess now I'm obligated to go and do some research.  Guess I'll have to eat a cookie.  And of course I won't enjoy it one bit.  Nope, not at all.

These cookies came out very tasty, but a little bit more crumbly than I'd like.  Everyone else on the internet seemed to have the opposite problem, so when I was deciding on 1 or 2 eggs I went with one.  Next time I think I'll try two.

I ate too many of these - I have zero self control when it comes to cookies.  Fortunately I did not bake the whole batch, and instead froze half of the dough to bake later.  We're eating the frozen dough at an alarming rate too though.  If they ever make it into the oven again, I'll report back on how they bake up from the freezer.

Compost Cookies
adapted from Oprah's Compost Cookie, and Momofuku for 2's version

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 egg (I think 2 might be better)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

Mix ins (adjust to your liking):
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup rolled oats
2 T coffee grounds
1 cup potato chips
1 cup chocolate covered pretzels

Cream together sugars and butter for 2-3 minutes with electric mixer.  Add egg and vanilla, and continue to beat for 7-8 minutes.  Mix in flour, baking powder and baking soda until just incorporated, then add mix-ins.
Portion out dough onto greased cookie sheets - I went for golf ball sized cookies.  Refrigerate for at least one hour.   Preheat oven to 375F.

Bake cookies for 15 minutes (large cookies).  Edges should be beginning to brown, center still slightly soft.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Party Pants!!!

I MADE PANTS! I made pants, I made pants, I made pants!

Party Pants!

I love making pants.

Party Pants!

Party Pants!

I don't think there's anything I would change about the fit on these, except maybe add some length next time.  I'll also move the welt pockets up a little.  There will definitely be a next time - I want these in red, black, and navy.

Party Pants!

Why "party pants"? Well, first of all, making pants is cause for celebration.  Second, I lined the pockets with a colorful bunting print:

Party Pants!

My only concern is that this fabric is very stretchy, and I don't think the stretch recovery is great.  If they look too baggy after a day's wear, I may take them in a little.  Right now though, they're perfect.

Party Pants!

Party Pants!

Fabric: Stretch twill from Fashion Fabrics Club.
Pattern: Colette Clover
Modifications: Added a fly and front pockets using sallieoh's fantastic tutorial.  I also added back welt pockets, and used bias binding to finish the waistband facing, then secured it by stitching in the ditch.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Me-Made-May: I'm in?

It is with some trepidation that I've signed myself up for Me-Made-May.  I had originally planned to participate in Self-Stitched-September this year, but since the only official challenge is happening in May, here I am.

I, Mika, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '12. I endeavour to wear one me-made item each day for the duration of May 2012.

Yes, only one.  To be honest, I'm very worried about even having enough in my closet to pull that off! 

Big Concern #1: There are a few items I haven't worn in a while that need to be taken in, along with a few that need adjustments to be things I can really wear happily and comfortably.  I think if I can fix those things and make 4-5 new items between now and mid-May, I'll be able to pull this off.  

Big Concern #2: My boyfriend and I are apartment hunting right now (total time suck - apartment hunting in NYC is something I would only wish on my worst enemy.) The hunting, coupled with the actual packing and moving and probably not having a table to sew on for a couple of weeks may be a problem.  

But I think destiny is on my side.  Or at least my fortune cookie at dinner a few nights ago was:

I've all but stopped buying RTW clothes, so this must be referring to me-made things.  Which means, of course, that everything will work out and I'll be 110% successful at Me-Made-May.  Right? Right.

Are you participating in Me-Made-May? Are you as anxious as I am?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

At Long Last - Beignet Skirt

I feel like I've been working on this skirt forever! I think it's been about three weeks, but it felt like longer with all of the problems I had.

Beignet Skirt

The pattern was great, but I really should have made a muslin.  After multiple seam ripping sessions, fitting and re-fitting, it's finally in an acceptable state.  It has it's little problems, but overall, considering all of the trials and tribulations, I'm pretty satisfied.  And I love the little anchor buttons.

Beignet Skirt

Beignet Skirt

Beignet Skirt

Fabric: Fine wale corduroy, bemberg lining and some scrap cotton for the facings.
Pattern: Colette Beignet Skirt.  I have no idea what size I ended up with, but I started between a 2 and a 4.
Modifications: Used quilting cotton for the facings, to reduce bulk.  I made the belt loops, but decided against adding them.  I didn't make a belt.  Instead of clipping the seam allowances at the curve to attach the lining to the facing, I eased in the curve of the lining with some basting stitches, like a sleeve.