Oops! Apparently I've accidentally deleted all of my images. I'll see about fixing that soon.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Dr Who (5th) Cosplay: The Shirt

As I posted about last week, I'm working on Dr Who cosplay for this year's GenCon.  The first piece I started working on was the shirt.  Peter Davidson's 'Doctor' is supposed to be wearing a modified version of a cricket outfit.  This means a white shirt.  Knowing that my time and resources are limited between now and August I decided to start with a pre-owned shirt from one of the local thrift shops

Thrift store shirt

I found a shirt that fit right in the collar and still looked in good condition otherwise.  Then I chopped off the sleeves, cut the armscyes in a bit, and cut off the side seams.

sleeves removed, sides reshaped

If you recall from the first post, I've planned to make the jacket sleeveless and the sweater is short sleeved, so I wanted a shirt that would be almost racerback so that really the only part that is showing is the collar and the button-up front.
new side seams (french seams)

After reshaping the sides and armscyes I finished the side seams with narrow french seams and used the fabric from the (now removed) sleeves to make bias strips with which to finish the armscyes.

New Armscyes (L-inside, R-outside)

Since this is going to be worn underneath my corset, I wanted a little bit more snug of a fit.  I had been wanting to experiment with elastic shirring for a while and this was the perfect opportunity.
winding elastic thread onto bobbin

I found some info on the web once that said that you should absolutely always wind the elastic onto your bobbin by hand, so I did.  I also lengthened my stitches.

shirring snugs up the fit

I didn't mark or measure anything out, so it's all very rough with not-totally-parallel lines of stitching and those lines a variety of widths apart, but it produces the effect I was hoping for.

The last important thing to do to the shirt was to add the signature Dr Who question marks to the collar of the shirt.  

testing out sewing machine embroidery

I had purchased both orange thread and orange embroidery thread.  Honestly I should have just done the embroidery by hand.  I think it would have turned out much cleaner.  But it was late and we all know that good sewing decisions are never made after midnight...

it'll do

As it is, after much seam ripping and re-stitching, they look ok, even though I managed to make one of them backward.  By the time I was finished I was too tired to care, so that is how it will remain.

In the next Dr Who cosplay post we will take a look at getting the jacket started.

Hope your week is a good one!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sweet Rolls

When I was a child going to grandma's house meant one sure thing: sweet rolls.  Undoubtedly at some point in the trip there would be a pan of hot cinnamony rolls for breakfast, especially on Christmas morning.  And when we couldn't be together for Christmas she would lovingly freeze and ship the sweet rolls to us so we would be able to continue the tradition together. 

I couldn't find a picture of grandma's rolls but I found this pic that looks similar to what she used to make (minus the chocolate chips, plus nuts, except for my brother for whom she would make some without).
sweet rolls pic via feistycook.com
Along with so many other fun things in grandma's kitchen (pie crust, chocolate cake, pork chops, shelling sooooooo many peas), my brother and I learned to help make sweet rolls with her as we got older. Several years ago my grandmother passed the family tradition on to me to keep. I've felt bad not having been able to since having to avoid gluten. Recently, however, I've been experimenting with gluten free breads again, this time with some measure of success. So I'm trying to revive the much-beloved tradition if I can. Grandma's coming up to visit later this summer & I'd love to be able to surprise her with them.

(Grandma once said she doesn't really read my blog so hopefully I'm not ruining the surprise by posting this here!)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Slopers and Flat Tires

My friend Jessie has been patiently waiting for a while now for some instructions on how to make a sloper. Well, I'm finally getting around to it and thought I should share with everyone.

It's only fair to note that I'm not a professional and I've never received paid instruction in this.  I have spent countless hours scouring books, websites, and other materials to learn most of the sewing skills I have (except the basics, of course, which I learned at home as a child). And then I've tested out many of these concepts at home to make sure I understood them fully. I'd also like to note that I'm not a very good teacher.

Ok, first off, what is a sloper?  A sloper (sometimes called a block) is a very basic, very fitted garment used to make a flat/ paper pattern that will fit exactly to the wearer's measurements.   

Monday, June 18, 2012

Dr Who (5th) Cosplay: Getting Started

This year I've decided to accompany my husband to GenCon. 


I've been wanting to go for a couple of years but between scheduling conflicts, money issues, and my issues with large crowds (ack!) this is the first year it has worked out where I am going to go.

Besides signing up for a bunch of painting & sculpting classes so my minis can look spiffier, I've decided to do a little cosplay.  There are not a ton of ideas that (1) I could make relatively inexpensively (2) I could make with the talents I have (3) that I would feel comfortable wearing and (4) I would be excited to go as.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Welt Pocket

It has been a week of notable markers for me here in blogland - This week I've had my 100th post here on SWD on Monday (including Mom's guest post), passed the 2500 pageviews mark midweek, and today is my one year Blogaversary!  It's hard to believe I've been blogging here for an entire year!

Dear Readers, you're the icing on my cake!

One of the reasons I started blogging here was to have a device to make myself *have to* build up to where I was sewing faster, more frequently.  I think I'd say that is finally happening, and that fact makes me happy :) I've loved sharing the good, bad, and ugly with you... and not just sewing; there have been other fun projects with miniatures and other such things. Thanks so much for joining me along the way!

Ok, on with the fun of the day!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Teeny Tiny Turtle

I've been wanting to try my hand at Amigurumi for a while and I've found a couple of free patterns online that I thought would be easy enough for a beginner like myself to try out.

In case you don't know what Amigurumi is (I hadn't heard of it until a few years ago) here is what Wikipedia has to say about it:

Amigurumi (編みぐるみ?, lit. crocheted or knitted stuffed toy) is the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small stuffed animals and anthropomorphic creatures. The word is derived from a combination of the Japanese words ami, meaning crocheted or knitted, and nuigurumi, meaning stuffed doll.[1] Amigurumi are typically animals, but can include artistic renderings or inanimate objects endowed with anthropomorphic features,[2] as is typical in Japanese culture.
I decided to start with this super cute turtle pattern.

I found this pattern over at Crochetville

Monday, June 11, 2012


A couple of months back I saw this fabric and knew I had to have it.  Finally it went on sale, and I snapped up what little was left of it.

I already had a general idea of what I wanted to do with it. So, naturally, I turned to the web to hone the idea down to a fine point where I settled on this:

Dobuku via Sengokudaimyo

Friday, June 8, 2012

Transit of Venus

Today's post is a little different from normal: no sewing, no minis. Why? For the last time in my lifetime Venus was transiting the sun.  

Just like when you view a solar eclipse, you should not look directly at the sun.  Many schoolchildren the world over have created pinhole viewers from boxes or paper bags with which to view such events. I used an old mailing tube that usually holds my drafting assignments from highschool.

tube, foil over one end, pinhole in foil

But then I thought, "a longer tube will get me a larger image!" So I grabbed this fabric tube and gave it the same foil & hole treatment.

if long is good, longer is better, right?

It was cloudy most of the afternoon while I waited for the 6pm-ish start of the transit so I only got to test them out a little beforehand.

So just what is the transit of Venus, anyway?

Lol no. via

Venus is closer to our sun than we are, so occasionally it comes in between us.  This is just an ordinary day for Venus, but it's a fun astronomical treat for us here on Earth.
via NASA.gov

And it won't happen again until 2117, so unless within my lifetime life span is markedly increased, almost no one alive now (and old enough to appreciate it) will be alive to see it then. It seemed worthy of a little party to me.

our Venus Transit cookout fare

It wasn't long till the transit was about to begin, so my husband and I headed outside to try out the viewing tubes.  I had a couple pieces of white cardstock to hold at the viewing end of the tube for us to view the image on.


The large tube did, indeed, give a larger image but was soooo much harder to site/ aim.  Also, as you might expect, the image wasn't as clear.

About half an hour into the transit

Nevertheless we could see the transit happening (in between cloud passes) even if it was practically impossible to capture on the camera what we were seeing with our eyes.

After texting back and forth with my family I remembered that we could also use binoculars to view it.  The image would be smaller but much clearer.


Hard to photograph, the camera is at a fairly steep angle to the paper which is why it looks like an ellipse and not a circle, but we could clearly make out Venus as well as a couple of sun spots.

My mother had much better results with her small telescope.  In fact it makes me wish a little bit that I would have dragged the whole family and anyone I could think of up to her place to see it like that.

Venus & sunspots clearly visible

I thought you might enjoy a few more 'professional' photos.  Well, NASA thought so, too, so they set up a flickr group for people to submit photos to.  There are some really awesome ones there. I've pulled just a couple of them out for you to see here:
Sunspotter by Victoria Carpenter

Transit by razc

Additionally, some of my favorite views of the transit come from the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager at the Solar Dynamics Observatory. They have plenty of additional awesome images of our Sun and video of the transit on their website so you should totally go and check that out.  



We were able to watch a live video feed (which was especially nice after the sun ducked behind clouds, trees, and houses here) of the transit from the observatory at Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

They had several different filters they were switching between, each giving a slightly different view of what was going on on the sun.
Mauna Kea observatory

And they also had some beautiful (sort of) live shots streamed in from the SDO. 


It's just gorgeous, if you ask me.  There are videos available on NASA's transit website here.

Happy Friday, all!

PS: Velkommen to whomever it is from Denmark has been reading my blog posts this week!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A little TLC for my machine

After the last couple of projects I figured my sewing machine deserved a little TLC. Sure, it gets regular oilings and I clean the lint out from around the bobbin case regularly (sometimes several times within a project), but I'd never given it a really thorough cleaning.

my machine on the day I received it last year

Monday, June 4, 2012

Petal Skirt

I know I usually try to put more process photos in, but this really was just a quick little project that I threw together at the last minute with some of the leftover materials from the jackets in the last post.

for a little girl's skirt

Friday, June 1, 2012

Swing Jackets

I was recently asked to make some jackets for a ladies' social club.  The leader for the next year had a general idea of what she wanted everyone to wear, swing jackets, so we went on the hunt for a pattern. 

This is what she chose: Simplicity 2002
pic via patternreview.com

The pattern is for a knee length fleece jacket with 3/4 off the shoulder sleeves.