Monday, February 3, 2014

I have a serger.

And it's cold as fuck.

That's about it.

I've yet to take a good photo of the serger. But I will at some point, because I can't help myself.

It's a Bernette 344D.

Here's a great video of it by Create Indie.

I found it on Craigslist. A woman in Helena listed it, and through a bit of luck her husband came to Billings for work and delivered it. The machine belonged to the seller's mother, who was a profession seamstress here. So kind of an awesome back story.

It also came with about $100 of thread -- for free. HOL-E-BALLS.

I got the machine on a Thursday and took it to my local Bernina shop to get some help threading it.

I can't say enough about this shop and the service department there. They've serviced my regular machine several times and always take good care of it, plus they care this super-hip line of Danish fabric now.

The service guy spent about 40 minutes showing me how to thread the machine and make sure it ran smoothly -- all for free. Just dropped everything he was doing in the middle of the day to walk me through it all.

After that, I went home and messed around for a bit before working up the balls to re-thread it with a new color so I could start a real project. I tied the new threads onto the old ones and just pulled it through. I didn't pull the knots through the tension discs because I saw huge warnings about this when I searched the Internets for tips.

This was my first project -- another Bimaa sweater.


It was a good pattern to start with because I've made it before with a regular machine so a) it wasn't that hard (it's like the easiest pattern in the world anyway) and b) I could see where the serger really made a difference.

The fabric is a super-stretchy knit from Jo-Ann. I guess it'd be classified as a mid-weight? And the hood lining is fleece.

Like omg look at those seams.



The serger totally kicked ass. For this kind of sewing, it's so much better than with my normal machine.

I had zero problems, partly because I think I approached it with the mindset that shit could get brutal, as per the general reputation sergers have. But this was problem-free ... I didn't even have to change the tension when I was sewing through two layers of fleece with another layer of the knit.


Last night I started sewing an Oliver+S Jump Rope dress. For some reason, through no fault of the pattern, I completely fucked up the collar. But I don't feel that awful about starting over since I also maybe had the iron a bit too hot and maybe sort of burned the fabric on the inside of the placket.

That wasn't bad enough to justify tearing the whole thing apart, plus I schemeing some sort of fix involving the delicate wielding of a toothbrush and the deft deployment of bleach.


So far it seems to be another great Oliver+S pattern, if you follow the directions and whatnot.

The fabric is a chambray by Lisette that's at my JoAnn right now.

I had my first serger hiccup last night when I tried to change the needles. I broke one trying to sew through too many layers.

It was a bitch do to. Look at this screw. It's TINY.


I spent 90 minutes of my post-Super Bowl Sunday trying to stick that thing in the hole (TWSS! TWSS!) and screw it in (TWSS!!!). About 25 of those minutes were spent trying to figure out where the screw fell after each of the 21 times I dropped it.

After I tamed the beast and got the needles in and threaded, my stitches were crap. I was super-duper proud when I figured out how to adjust the tension to make them better. Go me.

I think tonight I can re-cut out the parts of the dress I effed up and start again ... here's hoping I can make the placket look as neat. I often nail a difficult sewing technique on the first run and then screw it up the next six times I try. Beginner's luck? Who knows.


The other project I'm actively picking away at is this flying geese quilt.

It's more of that Danish fabirc (the linen solids) and blues and yellows from my stash.


I bought a Quilt in a Day ruler to make the geese, and it turns it into quick work.


No real deadline or intent on this guy ... it's just for fun.


As for the cold, holyfuckingshit it's been cold. And snowy. I love it. So do these guys.




And this, because who doesn't love an inexpensive, cool old chair? Chowder is clearly smitten.


Friday, January 3, 2014

Bimaa sweater

I've been dancing around the Bimaa sweater pattern for a few months.

I saw it on Pinterest first, and the observed how crazy-popular it was on the Internets.

So when this fabric was finally on sale at JoAnn, plus a 25 percent off coupon, I pulled the trigger.

I was glad to have the necessary supplies when some friends decided to make a trip to visit on short notice with their two adorable little boys. I had intended to make two sweaters (a 12-month-sized one and a 4T), but my twin needle bent at the end of the first one and ... since it was midnight ... I couldn't start the second one.


The pattern was really, really, really easy.

I honestly think it took longer to tape together and trace the pattern than it did to sew.

Taping together

I made the hooded version and lined it with fleece. The rest of the pattern isn't lined, but since it's made using a knit, you don't have to worry much about finishing seams.

You sew together the shoulder seams first and then the side seams and sleeves together, if that makes sense (there's no setting of sleeves). And there's no hemming since the sleeves have cuffs and there's a waistband.

Bimaa progress

The knit pattern hung around JoAnn forever, and I could't figure out why since it was pretty cute. But once I tried to cut it out, I understood why others may have avoided it. The print isn't in line with the grain. It's a four-way knit and super stretchy anyway, but the pattern being off a bit made it much more difficult to work with.

Since this was a small project and for a kid who will outgrow it in months, I didn't care too much. But if the fabric was intended for an adult garment, I would have been pissed that I didn't look closer before buying it.

You can sort of see how off the print is in the waistband here. The grain is straight, but the pattern is askew.

Bimaa sweater

But still cute as hell.

Bimaa sweater

There's a stitch on my machine that looks similar to an overlock stitch, and I used it on a few of the seams -- shoulders, side seams and the neckline where the hood attaches. But this knit showed not even the tiniest bit of fraying, so I didn't use the zig-zag stitch on the wrists or waistband, where I though the bulk of the extra stitching might bug a little guy.


This is the 12-months size, and fits a 9-month-old pretty closely. I think he's a bit big for his age, but the patternmaker isn't joking about the slim fit. I traced a 4T size for the second little dude, who is solidly a 3T, and I'm glad I went up a size.

But the slim fit is adorbs, so it's just fine.

I use a twin needle to sew knits, and it works well. It gives me enough stretch that my stitches don't tear. For some reason I can't get other stitches with a single needle -- like zig-zags of any width, longer or shorter stitches, whatever -- to not break on knits.


I lost custody of my old, massive sewing table the week after Christmas. Huge bummer. I found this new guy on Craigslist, and it'll be just fine. But I sure miss having a 6x6 foot solid oak top over two separate desk units. I know I was totally spoiled, but still. And I keep reaching to where the center drawer used to be, where I kept all my needles, feet and bobbins. Weird how muscle memory is so hard to break.

But the new table holds whiskey well. So it's got that going for it.

New sewing table


There are an assload of geese at the sugar beet factory right by my house, and it torments Tom to no end. They couldn't care less about him, and he is beyond obsessed.

So close


This about sums up my Christmas. Totally success, I'd say.


Oh, and there were hella-good cinnamon rolls.

Cinnamon rolls


Also, my house has been taken over by yarn scraps. Just FYI.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Hoodie success!

I love this hoodie. So much. All of it. Even the parts that are a little wonky. Because I made it and ... most importantly ... wear it all the time.


It's the Sol Hoodie from Jamie Christina.

The fabric is a recycled, washable wool I got in Oregon at Rose City Textiles.

That store blew my mind. They have THISMUCH fabric. Seriously.

Rose City Textiles in PDX

And it's all outdoors/performance fabric.

Rose City Textiles

I think the wool was about $45.

I washed it on warm and dried it on low and it came out perfect. Then I got sewing.

The pattern was pretty easy to follow. The diagrams are super helpful and the writing is clear. The only thing I would have appreciated is a note about which sleeve is the left and which is the right. I didn't know that the sleeve backs typically have two notches and that's how you can tell. Google helped me through that one ... but not after I sewed the sleeve in wrong first. :)

The really awesome part about the pattern is the section about how to sew knits. There's a page with tips and techniques about which stitches work best for those of us who don't have sergers.

I experimented on my fabric with all the options and ended up using a twin sewing needle. The zig-zag on the back gave my stitches the perfect amount of stretch. I'd never even heard of that method before, but it worked SO WELL.

The construction is pretty straight-forward. First you essentially make a vest:
Becoming a jacket

Then add sleeves and a hood! I don't have a full-length mirror at home, so sorry about the work bathroom pics.

Front, sorry about the work bathroom shot

Yeah, it's the bathroom at work


Anyway, I'd totally make this pattern again, and probably will soon. I'd like to alter the hood/neckline a bit so instead of ending at the collarbone it would zip up all the way to my chin. Most of my hoodies from Patagonia or whatever are like that, and I like to have the option to hide like a turtle if needed. :)

Also, these guys:



Snow pup!

And before the snow:

On the road to Rapelje

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Outfitting little dudes for a weddding

Oh man, these outfits.

Olver+S Art museum pants and vest

Oliver+S Art Museum pants and vest.


So cute. The pattern is great, like all Oliver+S ones. Well-written instructions and helpful diagrams.

There are welt pockets on both the pants and vest.



The wool and orange deer are from a local shop, Four Winds Quilting. The rest is JoAnn's finest.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Recent-ish projects!

A few things I've finished ... haven't been that great about taking photos of stuffs.

A cowl for someone for Christmas!

Mom cowl

It's the Honey Cowl from Madelinetosh in Mountain Colors yarn. Whole thing took about a week to knit, working at night, etc. It's a fun, mindless pattern and turns out soooo squishy and soft.

Just as a heads up to anyone who uses this yarn: It's totally great ... but ...

I almost had a panic attack when I washed the finished cowl. I got done knitting at the *ahem* bar after work, and then took it home to block it. I soaked it in Eucalan wash. I LOVE washing finished knits in this. They turn out incredibly soft, and I've never had any issues. I also like that you don't need to rise, because that means less stress on the fibers.

Anyway, I soaked the cowl for about 30 minutes, and the water in my sink was dark green. PANIC No. 1.

Then I laid it out on the table to block. And the yarn felt just awful. It's a DK weight, which I use a lot, so I'm familiar with how it acts after being soaked. But this was a nightmare. Stringy. No body. Hard to lay straight. Panic No. 2.

I love how soaking and blocking normally eases any awkward stitches in my work. But this looked like a trainwreck.

So I poured a bit of whiskey, took a drink, did some swearing and just trusted that it'd all be #@%*ing better in the morning.

But it wasn't. It still looked awful. And it wasn't even close to dry. (Panic No. 3) I needed to mail it by 2 p.m., so I committed a major knitting sin and pulled out the blow dryer. I started with no heat, then worked up to the low heat setting.


Once it got close to dry, it looked AMAZING. Totally awesome. Soft and squishy with even stitches! Sooo good. Exactly what I wanted.

Cowl for mom

Mom cowl

So if you ever use Mountain Colors Twizzle yarn, don't panic right after you block it. It'll work out in the end.

Here's the yarn on the skein:

Mountain Colors yarn for mom's gift


Other recent knits:

Man hat:
New hat, for a gift!

It's a broken rib pattern, cast on in multiples of 8. Pattern here.

A baby hat that was too big, so now it's mine.

Bandana cowl (for when it was minus 35 and I WALKED TO WORK):
Bandana cowl

Pattern from The Purl Bee.

[HORRIBLE PHOTO ALERT] This hat and my super-sexy mop:

No pattern, just modeled off my favorite hat.

This is WARM. The outside is wool (the grey is new, the blue is thrifted), then there's a layer of quilt batting, and then inside is Michael Miller Organic Sherpa. The most amazing stuff.


Just a ton of baby pants:

With old sheets:
Baby pants

A bunch that got auctioned off:
Baby pants for an auction

All Quick-Change Trousers, which are reversible, from Anna Maria Horner's Handmade Beginnings.


Hoodie for a baby, or Chowder:
Baby hoodie


From Oliver+S Little Things to Sew.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


If ever there was a day for the freezer to break, this is it.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Better late than never (Super Tote!)

I made the Super Tote by Noodlehead! About two months ago, but whatever.


The fabric is Stof from Denmark, bought at my local Bernina store. The solid is an Essex linen, probably natural? I can't remember.

This is the first bag I've sewn for myself, and I'm so glad I waited for this pattern.

I sometimes get frustrated by non-pratical items (tiny in size, no zippers, not washable), but this bag is perfect. It can carry an assload of stuff (my brother calls it "The Mary Poppins Bag," but doesn't look huge. And I'm only 5'4, so it's easy for a bag to dominate me. The exterior pocket makes organization easy, and the inner elastic pockets are perfect for fitting things like flip-flops, etc.


It also has interfacing, which makes the finished bag have such nice structure. The pattern was easy to understand, and I didn't have any "WTF is going on here?" moments during construction.


This little outtake. Choooowder. <3 IMG_4943

The only things I changed were: I fully lined the inner elastic pocket and exterior pocket instead of just facing it. And I added a zipper pocket inside. I have a weird thing for zipper pockets ... I need to keep all my shit secure in something zipped, or else I'm constantly panicked.

And that pocket held all my critical cash on an amazing trip I took with my little brother to Glacier.


At this point, the bag had been soaked, shoved and crammed, so it's a bit wrinkled. But still awesome.


It was exactly the kind of trip you want to have with your brother when he's 27 and you're 29. You have enough cash to crash at a hotel room if you get fall behind on your already-loose schedule, but you're young enough to camp at the hilarious KOA instead.

You're grown up enough to try to actually sleep at night, but young enough to know sometimes it's way better to stay up at watch Skyfall on your iPhone until 6 a.m.

Here's some photos for now. I'll write a proper post on it later.