Post-Pincushion Project #1

After my successful pincushion project, my next venture was a pillowcase for my son’s travel-sized pillow  I’d gotten some cartoon fabric remnants at a good price on eBay, so I used one that I knew Connor would like, but that wouldn’t kill me if I ruined it: Mickey Mouse.

Luckily, The Seasoned Homemaker’s tutorial on making an envelope pillow with French seams was well-worded with helpful photos, so I only messed up a couple of times (and those were minor and easily hidden).

Mickey pillowcase

Continue reading

Sewist in the Making

Yesterday, after four long weeks, I finally got my sewing machine back from the shop. It got a long-needed tune-up, plus a few new parts and a new foot pedal. My Singer 476 is now working as good as new (I assume — it was a wedding present to my late mother-in-law in the early 1970’s).

Since I know I need some remedial sewing skills before I can make anything remotely fancy, I’ve set myself some basic projects to teach myself the easy stuff first. Today’s project: a pillow-style pincushion.

Pincushion process

Things I learned today:

  • How to thread my machine: mainly, to make sure it’s threaded properly so I can set the tension
  • Which one of the bobbins in my sewing box does not, in fact, go with my machine
  • Where the sweet spot on my new foot pedal is
  • How and when to slow down before pivoting a corner

Yeah, I know that a teeny tiny stuffed pillow isn’t much of a project… but I’m pretty damn proud of myself, anyway.

Next project: an envelope pillowcase for my son’s old toddler-sized (aka travel-sized) pillow.

Eventually, I’m hoping to be able to tailor my clothes and my son’s — within reason, like adding pockets and darts and making shirts skinnier — and make some clothing and home decor items. I have lots of ideas for things I want to learn and to try.

I feel a little silly, being so stoked about something simple like four straight-stitched lines… but everybody’s got to start somewhere.

Practice Mushroom

Blue Mario Mushroom

This morning, my son was insistent that we make the Super Mario Mushroom he’d been asking about for weeks. I’m not exactly Little Miss Etsy, but I took Home Ec in junior high and sewed my own plushie music note by hand, so I figured I’ve totally got this.

I found this instructable that put me on the right track, and I convinced Connor that we should make a small “practice” mushroom out of the fabric I had on hand, instead of an 18-inch Giant Mushroom.

I showed Connor all the steps involved in sewing a plushie, even though I actually did everything myself. (Since I hadn’t sewn in several years, I wasn’t sure which steps to let Connor help with.) It took about two and a half hours start to finish, but the end result was a perfectly passable practice mushroom. It has a few imperfections, and I learned what not to do next time, but I really enjoyed myself. My son thinks it’s the best thing ever (for today, anyway), and that’s what I was going for in the first place, so arts and crafts time was a rousing success!

Sewing by hand is kind of meditative. I like it. I should do this more often. I’m sure my son would appreciate it. 🙂

Return Of T-Shirt Surgery

It had been almost a year since my last t-shirt surgery, so I was getting that hankering for some sewing action. I’ve managed to collect a decent number of XL t-shirts that fit, but are kind of boring. I’d like to turn these into cute Diana-sized girly tees. (Unlike Threadless XL girly tees, which are about two inches’ circumference shy of being comfortable for me to wear out of the house. That does not stop me from ordering them anyway and hoping to shrink into them.)

My first reshaping attempt was using my Otaku Generation t-shirt. Aaron and I got matching Otaku G shirts free from the Otaku G crew at Ohayocon in January, and I’ve been meaning to surgerize it for a while now. It fits just fine, but I wanted to do something to make it a little more distinctive, and easier to tell my shirt from Aaron’s in the wash. 🙂

I followed this tutorial on resizing a t-shirt, for the most part, although I didn’t really have any resizing to do. Mainly, I just wanted to shrink up the armpits and make the sleeves smaller and more girlish. First, I lopped off about an inch and a half from the length of the shirt. Then I put the shirt on and figured out how much smaller I wanted the armholes to be, and pinned the armpit of one sleeve. I then marked the spot with white fabric pencil and removed the sleeves.

Enter the Singer Tiny Serger. While I watched my Logan’s Run DVD, I sat on the living room floor and serged up the armpits of my t-shirt torso a couple of inches. Then I adjusted the length and width of each of the sleeves, serging them up the armpit seam. Finally, I serged the sleeves back onto the t-shirt torso — inside-out, of course, so the seams were on the inside.


Three hours later (including movie-related distractions), this is how it turned out. I haven’t hemmed up the bottom yet (the “real” sewing machine was having bobbin tension issues), and I’m considering altering the collar and adding white bias tape. Until then, though, at least it’s all girly on my figure. I know it doesn’t look all that different, but it definitely *feels* more fitted.

As usual, I did have one or two screw-ups. I accidentally sewed the left sleeve on wrong-side out, so the red-and-blue serged armpit seam on the sleeve shows when I lift up my arm. I decided it adds to the character, though, so I’m not redoing it. I also serged some of the sleeve-to-torso seams a little loose (although I’m unsure how to do it any differently with my Tiny Serger). Once I get the Giant Singer (aka the “real” sewing machine) going right, I’ll probably straight-stitch next to my serges while I’m hemming the bottom of the shirt. And maybe fixing the collar.

For my next attempt at restyling a t-shirt, I’ll probably make the sleeves a little shorter and cuter, and maybe make the shirt itself a little shorter. I’ll also adjust the shoulders, so the sleeve attaches a little farther up my arm. I’m thinking my next victim will probably be either my Relay For Life 2005 shirt (once I find it) or maybe my Youmacon 2005 shirt. Should be fun!

Cosplay Update

Since Aaron’s Fullmetal Alchemist costume arrived today, custom-made in the mystical land of China, I decided I’d better start work on my skirt again.

I’m not sure how, I but I somehow miscalculated the number of pleats my skirt is going to have. I’d planned on 12 pleats in my six-paneled skirt, but… wait… *thinks real hard* No, that’s right. It’ll be twelve pleats. I’m thinking I might have sewn the pleats in a little too far, though, because the skirt is supposed to poof outward from the hips, and I have the pleats sewn in for about ten inches down from the waist. I didn’t think about the poofy factor at the time; I was thinking about the fact that the heavy material I chose isn’t going to hold a crease very well.

Well, if it comes down to it, I do have a seam ripper. I’ll burn that bridge when I come to it, though.

I have an idea of how I’m going to make my helmet, but I haven’t started it yet. The hardest part is going to be attaching the frame for the helmet to the ball cap I bought at Goodwill. First, though, I want to get the skirt finished. One project at a time.

Did I just say “One project at a time”?

*shakes head*

Tell that to my multiple webpages, soy candle backlog, neglected plants, and my upcoming podcast.

Cosplayus Interruptus

I was doing so well. I fabricated a pattern for my skirt. I cut out six flared panels from my blue skirt fabric. I set up the Singer Tiny Serger, serged the six panels together, and serged the waist and hem edges. After that, of course, I needed to sew a straight stitch next to my serging, especially since my cutting wasn’t the straightest, and some of the serging didn’t go through both pieces of fabric. o.O

Seam #1: no problem. Seam #2: no problem.

Seam #3: Houston, we have a problem. The damn machine kept jamming up. Tried a different seam — jammed up again. Opened up the little cubbyhole where the bobbin lives, untangled all the thread therein, and tried again. Still no dice. Finally, I ended up taking apart the little bobbin cubbie… and couldn’t get it back together.

OMG, all momentum had come to a grinding halt. And I had been doing so well.

So, I put the Sheryl Special on the floor and fired up the Schnuth Singer. I hadn’t used it before, so had no idea how to thread, how to wind a bobbin, nada. Jury-rigged some sort of threading that looked reasonable, got some test fabric—

And the same goddamn thing happened.

So, all my momentum’s shot for tonight. I have a skirt that’s pretty much put together, almost, and I have the hard part of sewing pleats still ahead of me. Once I can get one of the sewing machines to work.

This is annoying as fuck. I just need to chill out and clean up my mess and wait for another day.

At least I’ve gotten this far.

Update, Next Day, 7:20pm: I just located a diagram of how to thread the next model up, and I had indeed threaded it incorrectly. Now the tension spring is doing its job, and all is right with the world. Party on.