Monday, January 30, 2012

Colorblocking Fun + Sewing Schemes Overload

8-Gored Skirt 7 Colorblocked Ways

Yet ANOTHER project to add to the in-progress mountain--my Kwik Sew 2771 color-blocking experiment for Sew Grateful week.

Guys, I'm getting a bit overwhelmed over here. The more I get back into sewing and knitting, the more obsessed and excited I become--and the more frustrated at how my limited making-stuff time inhibits my ability to actually FINISH any of my grand schemes. February is practically here and I don't have a single finished object to show you!

Z and I went to the Brooklyn Burdastyle Sewing Club meetup yesterday (we meet every month and Manhattanites are also welcome!) and it was awesome. We hadn't been since she was a wee wee not-yet-walking thing and it was so great to see everyone again and all the fabulous things they've been sewing. We're going to meet up again two weekends from now in the Garment District for a little shopping expedition.

I had stayed up way past my bedtime the night before trying to finish my wide-leg corduroy trousers for the meetup, but got tripped up by waistband treatment indecision (petersham? interfacing? both? elastic-backed waist? what?!) and had to wear a skirt I sewed out of $2 polyester polka dots back in 2005. Which bummed me out. Because I have such grand plans, and SO many unfinished or almost-started projects! Currently--in vague order of (hoped-for) completion:

The Wide-Leg Trousers of Eternity

Stripes + Wales trouser outfit sketch

  • The dream: Create stylish and comfortable dark cuffed corduroy trousers that I can wear for work and weekend.
  • The reality: I knew so little about making pants that even with the help of four books and a DVD it has taken me more than a month of agony to get these things properly fit and almost but not quite constructed. (Seriously, pants are HARD. Just ask the Slapdash Sewist).
  • What's done: I've finally got the fit about right, I think--I ended up having to pin out two inches (?!) from the hip area, partly due to randomly losing a small amount of weight since I muslined these things a month ago, and partly due to the mysterious differences between muslin and fashion fabric.
  • What's not: The waistband.
  • What's stopping me: Over-ambition. If I was following the pattern directions I'd be done ages ago, but I stubbornly resolved to try and make them more versatile and comfortable by using a petersham-faced front and an elastic-faced back waistband... This from someone who had no idea how to construct a fly front or put in pockets.
  • Urgency/guilt factor: High. I have only one pair of other pants I like to wear and they are rather frayed at the bottom hem. And once these are done to my liking, I plan to clone them quickly and repeatedly.
  • Status: Go go go!
  • Hope for eventual completion? Tomorrow night?

The Pretty in Plum Tomten Jacket of Perpetuity

Striped Toddler Tomten progress

  • The dream: Make a fun, warm, chunky stripey soft wool hooded sweater for my daughter--something oversized that she can grow into. Seriously, why are almost all RTW kid's sweaters--even pricier ones--made out of cotton, acrylic, or fleece? Don't kids need to be warm too? Surely I could whip up such a thing in a weekend!
  • The reality: Three months of occasional knitting later, I am finally ready to make sleeves--if I have enough yarn.
  • What's done: The body.
  • What's not: The sleeves, hood, and zipper.
  • What's stopping me: I mostly knit during my weekly workplace knitting group and on the subway--I reserve the evening hours for sewing.
  • Urgency/guilt factor: None, as my aunt just bought Z a hand-knit sweater and hat set from a knitter friend of hers.
  • Status: Keep on knitting like a snail!
  • Hope for eventual completion? In a few weeks?

The Sudden Urge to Colorblock Skirt

(see sketch at top of post)

  • The dream: Achieve a super-quick sewing win for Sew Grateful week with a basic Kwik Sew knit skirt pattern given to me by my beloved grandmother Melba, using the sewing machine and serger she left me when she died in 2004.
  • The reality: I haven't even ordered the fabric yet because I can't decide on a color scheme (leaning towards #1) and I worry about buying wool jersey fabric I haven't touched or inspected, even if it is on sale for an amazing $7.50/yard.
  • What's done: The sketch.
  • What's not: Everything.
  • What's stopping me: Colorblocking roadblock.
  • Urgency/guilt factor: Sew Grateful week is in... a week!
  • Status: Must order fabric!
  • Hope for eventual completion? Yes!

The Mitered Mittens in Way More Than a Minute

Mitered Mittens for Next Winter progress

  • The dream: Persuade my mitten-averse daughter to cover her adorable little hands before she catches frostbite.
  • The reality: These Malabrigo mitered mittens from Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitter's Almanac should have been done in like, five minutes, but I keep feeling guilty I'm not working on the sweater.
  • What's done: Almost one mitten.
  • What's not: The thumb, the other mitten.
  • What's stopping me: Inability to focus.
  • Urgency/guilt factor: Low—my parents just bought her six pairs of mittens before I could finish these.
  • Status: Plugging along.
  • Hope for eventual completion? Yes.

The Vintage Valentine's Day Red Dress

1940s Du Barry Dress Showdown Enevelope Illustration with my croquis

  • The dream: Make a sexy red 1940s vintage dress in time for Valentine's Day. Or at the very least for the Pattern Review Little Red Dress Contest this February.
  • The reality: That's barely two weeks away.
  • What's done: Drew the sketch, bought the fabric. And yes, I'm going with Du Barry 5525--the sweetheart neckline one.
  • What's not: Tracing the pattern, grading the pattern, making a muslin, fitting, altering, cutting out slippery silk fabric... EVERYTHING.
  • What's stopping me: The physical constraints of space-time. Also, the Little Red Dress contest rules specify no cutting of fabric til February.
  • Urgency/guilt factor: High—now that I've told you all about it.
  • Hope for eventual completion? I WILL MAKE THIS DRESS.

The Cabled Cashmere Toddler Sweater Refashion

Cabled Cashmere Cardigan Toddler Refashion Picks

  • The dream: Serge up a quick soft sweater and set of leggings for my daughter from a gigantic thrifted cabled cashmere sweater.
  • The reality: Er...
  • What's done: Thrifted the sweater (it was red, and just $4), found inspiration pictures, paged through Ottobre magazine stash for a base pattern.
  • What's not: Oh, you know. EVERYTHING ELSE.
  • What's stopping me: I think I'm going to pass out now.
  • Urgency/guilt factor: Low—this should be a fun quick refashion.
  • Hope for eventual completion? Sure-ish.

And I haven't even mentioned the Colette Macaron I started to adjust...

Sheath Dress Showdown Sketch

Or the cabled alpaca hat I almost finished but will have to unravel and reknit an inch bigger so as to prevent tight hat headaches:

Blue Alpaca 18 Seconds to Sunrise Hat in Progress


In other news--hello to all my new readers and thanks for visiting! Looks like I'm approaching 150 followers--when I get there I promise to host a vintage pattern giveaway.

So tell me: how overwhelmed are you by your sewing schemes? How often do you feel like this?

Sewing Cartoon: Death By Unfinished Object

P.S. Just realized I ALSO forgot the Ottobre baby cord overalls which go with the above sweater, which I've already cut out and are all ready to sew:

Stripes & Wales Sweater & Overalls toddler outfit sketch


  1. BRILLIANT post! Oh, I'm so excited for the colourblocked skirt for the Sew Grateful Week! And I pretty much feel overwhelmed all the time..hehehehe....too many projects I want to do and I am totally overambitious as well! :)

  2. The projects in my head outnumber the ones that will actually leave my hands as finished products 100 to 1, at least. There's this story floating around, that true hell is this: When you die, the devil will walk with you through the gallery of you life's work. Everything you ever made will be there, from the big masterpiece to the smallest scribble of an idea. You will show him everything. At the end of the gallery, the devil will turn to you, look at you with beautiful, understanding eyes, and ask you: 'Is this all?'

  3. I have so many projects planned I'm afraid to write them down. The other day, though, I was wrapping something up and the choices about what I could start next were overwhelming (and I felt the pressure of wasting precious weekend baby nap time). I didn't want the new thing I started to become another half-finished thing! I ended up finding something that only needed a couple steps to finish and making progress instead of starting something new, much as I wanted to.

  4. Ah...I definitely have the same problem. I always think I can just "whip something up" and I'm just not that kind of seamstress. I've found I can tackle about two projects at a time. And that they do get done if I'm patient. Which is not to say that I don't have a pile of projects cut out (some from over a year ago!) that I keep meaning to sew up when I get a chance!

  5. Hehe I totally feel your frustration with sewing overload - I keep thinking of new projects that I want to make and getting way too excited about the idea of them, way before even starting what's lined up before it (like, I've already planned my next 3 knit sweaters. I've barely started my first one! Augh!). Drawing out those little croquis-Lauren's in her new wardrobe has made it worse.

    I don't have any advice for you - just slog through it. And know that once you overcome the agony of pants-fitting, you'll have a nice block that you can clone over & over - and use to alter other pants styles. Assuming your body doesn't go through any drastic changes any time soon, you shouldn't have to deal with that kind of fitting saga again for a long time :)

    I love 1 & 3 colorblocked skirts, btw. Those are my favorite kinds of colorblocking - when there are no repeats and the colors all complement each other :)

  6. I would just like to offer, as one who has been tricked by alpaca before...wash it before you rip. Alpaca (always?) grows considerably, you may not need to knit it bigger.

  7. I'm having a nervous breakdown just reading this!! But I love your artwork. It's fantastic - esp. the photo of you buried under everything.

  8. Wow, that's A LOT!! I sometimes experience sewing overload, but right now, I am just trying to finish one pair of pants that keep eluding me!! Your projects look wonderful!

  9. Sing it, Mikhaela! We've all been there! I think if you're the kind of creative person who would start sewing and knitting, you're always going to have more inspiration than time. This is why we stash. ;-)

  10. How often do I feel like that? Quite often!

  11. Oh, dear. Deep breath! Pace yourself, girl. Also, you need to add the time it takes to make those awesome drawings in there, too!

    I have a really hard time running multiple projects... I get distracted and then immobilized and nothing gets done. Pick something, finish it. Prioritize. :) You still need sleep, remember? ;)

  12. Also, I almost never got any sewing projects finished when my daughter was a toddler(she's 16 now) because it seemed, well, impossible. So your progress looks pretty impressive to me!

  13. You are too funny! I love your cartoon of frazzled sewing Mummy (can you tell I'm a Brit?!) at the end! That is me too! Just that my 25 month old is male and Does. Not. Stop!

  14. LOL I feel lik that all the time! Heck I'm so bogged down I can't even find the energy to blog about it.


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