Category Archives: Making

Black Pants

I thought I would get back into posts with a simple update; I made another pair of pants for Lloyd. These pants came about from a series of mistakes. A couple of years ago, I bought some black fabric to replace the top of a dress. When the fabric came, it was way too stiff to use for the dress so I put it in my fabric stash and forgot about it. Later, I bought some black fabric to make pants for Lloyd but, since he didn’t need any new pants at the time, I just put the fabric away until needed.

Fast forward to earlier this year when it came time to make the pants. I pulled out all of the black fabric I had and none of it seemed suitable for pants. Except for the fabric I’d originally bought for my dress. So I used that. Happily, the pants turned out really well and seem to be pretty durable. However, there may be more pants fabric floating around the house somewhere that I haven’t found yet! Also in black…

The finished pants!

The finished pants!

These seemed huge when I was working on them given the scale of my previous pants project.

These seemed huge when I was working on them given the scale of my previous pants project.

Stretch Silk Dress

My brother recently got married and, as I have made my own dress for family weddings, it was time to make another dress. I knew I wanted to make the dress out of stretch silk, but wasn’t sure what color I wanted. I probably ordered too many swatches to look at, but ended up settling on a nice lilac color in the end.

The dress was based on my favorite go-to jersey dress that I bought a few years ago so I had to draft a pattern before I began. This necessitated making a couple of mock-ups to make sure I got it right. Once I was happy with the mock-ups, I started working on it in the actual stretch silk.

As I was laying out the dress on the silk, I realized one thing I would have to add: a zipper. There was no way the fabric was going to stretch enough to pull over my head. I immediately added a seam down the back of the dress and started looking at zippers, finally settling on a closely color matched invisible zipper. Unfortunately, I’d never installed an invisible zipper that I was happy with before. A couple of Google searches and several websites later, I felt slightly more confident about it – and then proceeded to put it off as long as possible. In the end, however, I was very happy with the result.

The invisible zipper as installed. Not quite invisible, but nicely done.

The invisible zipper as installed. Not quite invisible, but nicely done.

In the end, I was very happy with the way the dress turned out; I think I may have a new favorite material to work with! After wearing this dress all day, it was still comfortable and breathable despite the humidity of summer on the east coast. I would definitely make a dress like this again.

I even put some nice pleats in front.

I even put some nice pleats in front.

The dress definitely had nice movement. Silk is great for that!

The dress definitely had nice movement. Silk is great for that!

Hobie Cat Lift (Guest Post)

Lloyd’s dad is back with another guest post.

Alice and I live in NC on Lake Auman in the Sandhills region. We have beautiful sand bottom lakes in the area are fortunate to live on one. One of our favorite pastimes is sailing on our Hobie Cat when the wind is up.

All the lakes are man-made so they are bulkheaded to keep them in their boundaries. We kept the Hobie on land to save the wear and tear on the rigging as the lake gets a good deal of chop. We had a serviceable solution with a crank belt connected to a pine tree. This required me to lift the lip above the bulkhead and then for Alice to crank as I lifted and pulled the boat up. Not too bad; the lift was about two feet and the total boat weight is about 250 lbs. The biggest problem was that it was awkward lifting and getting up the bulkhead at the same time.

I was going to make a crack pun but that would make jasmine winch.

I was going to make a crank pun but that would make Jasmine winch.

They lowered the lake to do some dam maintenance, giving me a higher lift and I am not getting any younger. It was time for a different solution. This winter, when we were in Seattle visiting Jasmine and Lloyd, I talked about getting a block and tackle with two steel pipes and lifting with those. We have twin docks and I could run it between them. Lloyd suggested cargo straps instead; he felt it would give a better hold and be easier to build [ed. also straps don’t rust].

I found a cheaper solution to the block and tackle in a modified carabiner with a locking friction clamp addition. I figured at 250 lbs, I could just muscle it up. My first try was a fail. I got 12’ strapping and, with the stretch, it was too long and I could not get enough lift. I reordered 10’ strapping and we were off to the races, totally out of the water.

High and dry dock.

High and dry dock.

I added a cleat to each rope so that, even if there was a failure of the locking carabiner, it would still hold somewhat.

Strapped in without a hitch.

Strapped in without a hitch.

You still need to muscle up each side, but it is not nearly as awkward. Plus, I could take out and put the boat away by myself. No real wind yet, but a couple of boats passed close and no wobble at all.

Hat Trimming

Lloyd and I had several conversations about hats this past week. It got me thinking about the hat I modified last year to have a removable band. The idea was to be able to change out the band to make it match multiple outfits or just give it a different look. Then the weather got cold and I got distracted and never made any additional bands.

But now that it’s hat season again, I pulled out my nice straw cloche and dug through my fabric bins to find something fun.

The starting materials. I used this fabric for a skirt a couple of years ago and really like it.

The starting materials. I used this fabric for a skirt a couple of years ago and really like it.

I wanted to keep things simple so I sewed a fabric tube with a single angled side and pinned it together. I’m very happy with the result and looking forward to wearing it soon!

The finished hat. I think Grandma's pin makes this look a lot more finished.

The finished hat. I think Grandma’s pin makes this look a lot more finished.

Mini Fitted Sheet

Some friends with children came out for a visit last month so we needed to find a way to make a toddler bed. Fortunately, we have a collection of floor cushions that make a very comfortable bed. To make them more bed-like we decided to make a fitted sheet. It was a pretty easy process as I already had the measurements from the covers. I took the cover pattern (minus the bottom face) and added elastic to the corners.

Measuring the fabric.

Measuring the fabric.

The flat fitted sheet.

The flat fitted sheet.

The finished sheet on a floor cushion.

The finished sheet on a floor cushion.

A Jasmine for scale.

A Jasmine for scale.

I’m pretty happy with how it turned out – especially since it made a pretty comfortable toddler bed. If I were to do it again, I’d use more elastic. This seems to be how store-bought fitted sheets are made.

Ballet Slipper Redux

A little over a year ago, I knit myself a pair of ballet slippers. Unfortunately, the slippers were not made to be worn every night for over a year and soon wore out.

Just a couple of small holes.

Just a couple of small holes.

I really liked these slippers and still had plenty of yarn left over, so I decided to knit myself a new pair. This time with felt soles.

Ballet shoe style soles.

Ballet shoe style soles.

I also changed up how I did the lacing in an effort to keep them in place on my feet a little better.

The new lacing method. More like actual ballet shoes.

The new lacing method. More like actual ballet shoes.

I’m very glad I have a new pair of slippers. Hopefully this pair will last longer than the last as I’ll have to buy a new skein of yarn for the next pair!

My new favorite (and only) pair of slippers.

My new favorite (and only) pair of slippers.

Christmas Party Dress

For the past two years, I’ve used Lloyd’s company Christmas party as an excuse to make myself a fancy new dress. This past year, I finally decided to give print at home pdf patterns a shot. I have to say that I’m not a fan of this pattern distribution method. Yes, I can get the pattern right now and, yes, the selection is really very good, but they’re really a lot of work. First of all, like many millennials, I don’t own a printer so the first hurdle is finding a way to print my pattern. Then I have to assemble it myself, make a muslin of the garment (something I’d do with any type of pattern), and then draft a new pattern piece to match the changes. My taped together pieces of computer paper just don’t hold up under modifications.

Once I got my pattern set up and resized properly, I was very happy with it. Since my favorite fabric store in the Seattle area went out of business, I’ve been ordering my fabric from Mood. I got a light green silk for this project and the dress turned out really well! As a bonus, it’s also one of the most comfortable formal dresses I own. I’m very happy with this one.

The finished dress. I thought the lighter color would work at any time of year.

The finished dress. I thought the lighter color would work at any time of year – not that I’m looking for a reason to wear it again… :)

Dress from the First Floor of Britex!

Since I first went in to Britex 10 years ago, I’ve wanted to make a fancy dress from the fabric they sell on the first floor. For those of you not familiar with this particular fabric store, the first floor is where they keep all the expensive fabrics like silks and wools. As a grad student, that wasn’t going to happen. So when we went back to SF to visit friends last spring I knew what I wanted to do: shop on the first floor of Britex!

I’d already done my homework and knew, generally speaking, what style of dress I wanted to make, what materials I wanted to use, and how much fabric to buy. However, one of the advantages of Britex is that the staff is always excited about offering advice on fabric selections. I was introduced to a silk/silicone blend that had an interesting shimmery tone. I really liked it, but thought it was a bit much, so I got a geometric print sheer silk fabric to use as an overlay to tone it down. For the skirt, I got a lavender wool crepe. I’ve always wanted to work with this fabric and, now that I have, will definitely be buying more wool crepe next time I go to SF.

I was very happy with how this dress turned out and have already been able to wear it to two events. Shopping on the first floor was definitely a fun experience and something I’d like to do again – though I probably won’t go all out again unless I have a particular reason. I don’t need that many fancy dresses!

The dress from the front.

The dress from the front.

The back view of the dress. You can tell it's late in summer from my very visible tan lines. :)

The back view of the dress. You can tell it’s late in summer from my very visible tan lines. :)

Fun with the MakerLab Laser Cutter

In going through pictures on my phone today and came across a few pictures of laser cutter projects I did while I was at Santa Clara. I didn’t do a post on them at the time, so I thought I would rectify the situation.

The first project was a Smaug hanging I made for Lloyd. I went all out for this and went to Woodcraft to buy nice wood since it was a gift. I then cut this into a rounded rectangle with two holes in the top corners for hanging and followed by a negative image of Smaug that gleaned from The Hobbit. I had to collect all the little pieces of wood cut out during this process and keep them in order so that I could use them in the final design later.

Next, I cut out the same image of Smaug in transparent red acrylic. This required a few tweeks of the laser cutter settings to ensure the acrylic fit snugly into the wood. This acrylic outline was fit into the wood first followed by all the little wood interior bits. I was then faced with the problem of how to hold all the pieces together. My solution was to take a piece of white card stock and cut it down to just cover the dragon image. I glued this to the back of the wood so all the small pieces could be glued on the back side rather than worrying about having glue show on the image. Since the card stock was relatively thin, it also allowed light to shine through the red acrylic when in was held up to a window.

I was very happy with the result and feel like it’s one of the nicer things I’ve made in the MakerLab.

Smaug the terrible!

Smaug the terrible!

My second project was also Lord of the Rings themed. Lloyd and I decided we’d like a nice set of coasters so we both searched for our favorite line drawings from Middle Earth. Once we found images we liked, I chose a plain white acrylic for the coaster interiors and a pale wood for the bottom and border. First, I cut four plain wood circles and four circle outlines. The outlines had the same outer diameter as the plain circles. Then I cut out four smaller circles from the white acrylic and rastered our chosen images  on them. I used paint to make the images stand out more so they would be visible sitting on a coffee table. The ring was the hardest to do since I used two colors. Finally, I sealed the wood to protect it from moisture (a definite occurrence for coasters) and glued the assembly together. We were happy with how these turned out and have gotten a lot of compliments on these coasters.

The mithril gate of Moria, Sauron's eye inside the one ring, the white tree of Gondor, and Smaug again.

The mithril gate of Moria, Sauron’s eye inside the one ring, the white tree of Gondor, and Smaug again.

Knit Buttoned Cowl Redux

My purple cowl has gone missing, so I decided to do the sensible thing: order the same yarn and knit myself a new one. While I was looking at yarn, I decided to go ahead and order a couple more skeins and make a second cowl since I got so much use out of the first one. This time, I decided to make an ombre cowl that faded from burgundy to charcoal. Other than that, the cowls are the same. And now I have two beautiful new cowls! Just in time for summer. *sigh* Such is the way of my knitting projects…

Have you seen my twin? I don't know where it's gone.

Have you seen my twin? I don’t know where it’s gone.

I really like this color combination. And knitting stripes.

I really like this color combination. And knitting stripes.