Archive for April, 2012

Sailor Cycling

April 26th, 2012 20 comments

I cycle, and I like to be as visible as possible.  Bright red, screaming orange, and hideous yellow-green, yes,  ma’am, you’re my friends. But a boxy, horrible utility vest?  Not so much.  So I got a hold of two IKEA Patrull safety vests like this one:

and turned them into this:

It appears darker than the IKEA vest because it’s just one layer, and on a darker background (my dummy, that is).  And I took the photo indoors, apparently in bad light.  Photography is not my strong suit.

I’d been thrashing around the internet for a while, looking for inspiration when I stumbled on this:

The photo is on a site called {frolic!}, and it’s actually a reflective cycling vest.  Too cute, right?  Apparently it was sold by a UK firm called Bobbin Bicycles, but they’ve since gone out of business.  Or at least become impossible to find.  (The {frolic!} post is from 2009.)

Let me be the first to admit that mine isn’t nearly as cute as this one.  I love the nautical look, but the BB vest is too small, and too somberly colored for day use, as least in my view.  Also, my vest needed to do four  things, above and beyond being nautical :

  1. It needed to be bright.
  2. It needed to be large enough to wear over anything I’d put on while cycling.
  3. It needed to be cool on very hot days.
  4. On very hot days, it needed to allow me to wear only a sports bra under it, and yet appear in public somewhat modestly-clad.

Bingo!  My vest does it all.  Plus, it’s a bit kooky.  I like kooky.  The back is pretty tame (forgive my duct tape dummy, who is both lopsided and a lot larger than I am now):

I used a size L IKEA vest, and a size S.  First, I removed all the reflective strips from the IKEA vests.  Then  I took two pieces of the IKEA reflective strips, and sewed this trim on top of them (I used the middle-sized one):

adding velcro at the ends.  (The trim is “iron-on”, but I don’t do iron-on, especially on poly knits.)  Then I cut side panels out of the S vest, and cut replacements from breathable mesh (that’s the black fabric).  Here’s what the base vest looked like with the mesh pinned in place:

I  put the reflective strips into the back side seams between the yellow vest and the black mesh, and sewed it all together with my coverstitch machine.  The belt allows me to cinch up the vest when I want to, and let it fly when it’s too hot to wear it neatly.

I cut the nautical collar from the size L, using Burda 2424, an adorable pattern that never came to the USA, and altered the slope of the shoulder to conform to the size S vest.

The collar is a completely different style from the inspiration vest, but that didn’t matter.  They’re both adorable.

I cut the IKEA reflective strips in half to make the striping for the collar, and zig-zagged them in place.

You can see the holes from the IKEA stitching, but this is a utility vest, not haute couture, so it’s nothing I’m concerned about.

I lay the collar over the S vest, drew a line in chalk where the S vest needed to be trimmed, and attached the collar.   I probably should have used a facing, but this was a quick-and-dirty job, done very much on the fly, and I wanted to keep the weight and bulk down.

Uhh, maybe what I mean is “I wanted to keep the bulk in the collar only”.

Then I did the messiest job ever inserting an invisible zipper in the front, and finished by covering the collar seam with 1/4 inch twill tape.

Finally, I added the ties, because I’m a responsible cyclist, and there’s no wind in my hair, due to the helmet on my head.  Instead, I have flying ties.  Not a bad trade off, I’d say.  The loop that holds the tie together is sewn to the edge of one of the ties:  I couldn’t sew it to the front of the vest without making it impossible to open the top, yet I didn’t want to knot the ties.  Here’s the final result, once again:

Special thanks to Prachtstueckwerk!

Categories: Fun, Gifts, Tops Tags:

BurdaStyle Personal Measurement Card

April 22nd, 2012 5 comments

Burda offers a print-your-own Personal Measurement Card on their website. (That’s a direct link to the .pdf, which is hard to find on their website. Clicking will invite a download of the .pdf file.)

I’ve printed it out on cardstock, and keep it handy when I can’t quite remember all the picky little measurements that are essential when sewing.  It’s also useful if you are pattern shopping far from home, and considering an independent pattern purchase.  There’s space for measurements in both inches and centimeters; I write out both, which saves a lot of conversion grief.

I cut the two cards out, fill in the data, and then laminate them together.  (Burda measures the body in slightly different ways than I am used to.)  Sturdy is better in my sewing room, and a stiff card is a lot harder to lose in piles of scraps than a sheet of paper, or cardstock alone.

Never once, in my entire life, have I remembered my sleeve length; I love having that information at my fingertips, so to speak.

Categories: Tools Tags:

Replacement Rods for “My Double” Dress Form

April 19th, 2012 7 comments

A commenter left a tip for me, so I was able to buy an incomplete set of fitting rods for Miss Bedelia (thanks, Janice!).  Once I saw them I was able to figure out how to make replacement rods of my own.  The original rods are in two pieces, and slide to adjust.

There’s a little button that fits into a slot, once the right size is reached.  Inside each end is a brass-colored tab of soft metal (likely brass, in fact) that secures each rod end onto part of the dress form.  You can probably just make it out in the image above.  (I forgot to take a picture of the rods before I used them.)

I made mine of 3/8th of an inch wooden dowels, large brass fasteners from an office supply store, and tape.  (I used the cable ties to hold the top of the frame to the shoulder rod.)  After fitting the dress form to my body, I ran the dowels through the areas where the supporting rods belonged, per the instruction booklet.  I then cut each dowel just short of that length, and capped one end with a brass fastener.

Keeping the “legs” of the fastener along the dowel, I taped just under the fastener’s cap, attaching it to the dowel.  I used two pieces of tape, for extra security, and then ran the dowel through the dummy.  (Most rods must go through an eye bolt; the dowel is small enough to do that, but the brass fasteners are not.)

Then I attached another fastener to the other end of the rod, pushed it back into place, folded the ends of the fastener up, and wrapped them around the My Double shell.  Voilà!

Replacement rods for the My Double forms are hard to find, and, typically, expensive.  Rods are essential, though, and keep the dress form surprisingly stable.

Do remember to move or turn your dress form using the long vertical center rod — turn it by reaching into the neck — because the mesh will deform in unsupported areas if you aren’t careful.

My rods came in this charming box.  (It’s rubber-stamped with the name of the person who did the quality inspection — back in the days when people, not numbers, checked things over before they were sold.)  I’m happy to have it, but I’m even happier that I won’t be paying a fortune for the rest of the rods I wanted.

Total cost for my supplies?  Less than seven dollars, including the brand new roll of tape.


“My Double” Instruction Booklet

Miss Bedelia: My New Dress Form

A Tale of Two Dummies

Categories: DIY, Tools Tags:

A Tale of Two Dummies

April 17th, 2012 6 comments

Now that I am finally the size I was meant to be (and was, for what were previously the healthiest years of my adult life), I thought it would be interesting to compare my “dummies”.  I haven’t been the same size as my Duct Tape Dummy for a long time, but it was still a shock to see the difference between the two:

Miss Bedelia, the My Double dress form, is set at my actual height.  My unnamed Duct Tape Dummy is higher, but it’s still possible to compare the shapes.  You can see that they are essentially the same; the DTD is just, well, thickened everywhere.

There are only ten to twelve  pounds difference between those two dummies, but on someone as relatively small as I am, that’s a big difference.  It’s probably closer to an extra 20 or 30 pounds on someone with a larger frame and larger bones than I have.  Here’s the back view:

When I was a young girl, I took one semester of classes at a very good dancer’s school in San Francisco.  (Childhood wasn’t so competitive then; they’d let anyone in.)  All I remember from that course was my report card, in which the instructor had written something like “Noile must learn to pull in her derrière”.

I had to laugh when I saw these dummies side by side — it’s not so obvious in the well-padded DTD, but, oh, yes, there is that derrière!  Though my upper body posture has improved in the last few years, I’ve clearly still got some work to do when it comes to tucking in that backside:

Can we say “swayback”??  Yikes!

Fitting the My Double dummy took two of us; it’s virtually impossible to do it alone.  (We’ve done it twice, now.)  Mr. Noile pinched, pushed, and pulled very patiently, and then we unsnapped it and sprung me from the carapace.

Mr. Noile was impressed when we were done:  “The amazing thing”, he said, “is that it looks just like you!”.  He’s right; it really does.  Or rather, it would if I were made of wire mesh.

When I reassembled Miss Bedelia on her stand, I checked the waist against my own measurement, and quickly realized that she was about two inches larger all around than my own body.

That made sense.  You can’t really press the wire sufficiently into skin in order to replicate a body perfectly.  However, you can get the basic shape, so all I did was evenly pinch out the extra inches where shaping was not an issue (mostly, that is, in the sides).   I checked every measurement carefully against my own as I worked, and soon Miss Bedelia was ready to go.


“My Double” Instruction Booklet

Miss Bedelia: My New Dress Form

Replacement Rods for “My Double” Dress Form

(Yes, the weight loss was deliberate, and very slow, over many months. I decided that I didn’t want to age with the burden of additional weight damaging my joints, affecting my coordination, and limiting my ability to be active and flexible.

Yes, it’s a pain.  Yes, it requires constant attention, and a complete review of what “portion size” means to those of us who live in the abundant USA.  But it is worth it.  It’s also worth doing it very slowly.  Unless you change habits, no “diet” will prevent weight from returning.

No “diet” here, by the way.  Just eating reasonably healthy food, recording everything I ate — accountability makes a huge difference — and  controlling portion sizes without fail.  I used the budget plan — so many calories a day to “spend”, and nothing eaten after that total was reached — three meals and a small snack, and no eating after 7 PM.  If I stayed up too late and wanted a snack, I reminded myself that I’d have another chance to “spend” calories tomorrow.  This is the lifetime plan, not the get-skinny-for-the-next-event plan.

The trick was finding out what worked best for me, long-term, not trying to adapt to someone else’s idea of what you might find satisfying.  The difficult part for me was identifying which tastes I love; I had a hard time, at first, learning what I enjoyed tasting, since I used to eat without paying much attention.  Then I gradually began slipping these new, enjoyable, flavors into my diet, and training myself to notice and enjoy them.

Oh, also critical for me:  identifying non-food rewards.  If over-eating is how you get through the day, it makes a big difference if you replace detrimental choices with other interests or diversions. Just eliminating bad food choices usually isn’t enough, long-term, for people like me who, for instance, tend to think of sugar as the food of the deities.  It’s really important to replace bad choices with good ones; just trying to eliminate the bad choices/habits usually doesn’t work too well for humans.

By the way, a fascinating book about related issues is “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg.  It’s a great read for anyone who wonders why habits are so hard to break.  However, I think the oft-mentioned Target anecdote — it’s about a teen pregnancy — is probably apocryphal.   Just my opinion.)

Categories: Fun, Tips, Tools Tags:

Whimsical Purse Mod

April 13th, 2012 2 comments

I love Baggallini purses; there’s one for (almost) every occasion, and I own way too many as a result.  Usually I want a purse that can be used as a shopping bag as well as a handbag, and Baggallini has plenty of those, but sometimes I want the most minimal thing possible.  That would be Baggallini’s surprisingly well-thought-out Teenee Baggallini.

What I don’t like on this small bag, though, is that metal plate on the front.  It snags inside my purses when I use the Teenee as a wallet, and it adds an unwanted few ounces when I’m wearing it cross-body.  So I remove them.  This is tricky, but possible if you’re careful.

First I take a small, thin, screwdriver and carefully lift the plate from the front of the bag.  Then I cut a very, very small slit in the lining behind the nameplate and gently pull the logo support from the back, on the inside.

This leaves two holes in the front of the bag, and a small slit in the back.  I use a bit of clear repair tape over the slit in the back ( you can buy it at camping/recreational supply stores).  Because these bags are kicky and fun, I cover the two holes left in the front with an embroidered patch from Demeritwear.

Here is the cookies and milk  badge for my orange bag:

I choose this one for the color, of course, but I also for the whimsy of the motif.  The embroidery is bright and clear; the patches are meant to be ironed-on, but I hate ironing stuff, so I just stitch them in place.

If you don’t know Demeritwear, you should!  They make cheerful, kooky, silly and yes, even dippy, little “merit badge” patches for all occasions.  (Theoretically they are “demerit badges” — maybe because scouting has the originals all wrapped up? — and there’s a story, but it’s not necessary to go into that here.  Check out the website if you’re curious.)

These nicely made embroidered badges would be fun as faux buttons on tee shirt shoulders (or amusing faux epaulet-like decorations) , as identifiers on kids’ back packs or lunch bags, as logos on jackets, hoodies, or sweatshirts, or as a decorative touch on rear jeans pockets.  I use them on and in my packing system, too, so that I can tell what’s in my packing cubes.

Other ways I’ve used these badges:

Case Mod

Packing Cube ID

Disclosure:  Please read it a the bottom of the Case Mod post.

Categories: Accessories, Bags, DIY, Fun Tags:

ABdPM 40033: Tank Dress With Contrast Skirt

April 10th, 2012 10 comments

This is another pattern from the wonderful French company Au Bonheur des Petites Mains.  Here’s my dress:

And here’s ABdPM’s version (from their defunct website)::

This pattern didn’t come in the box-style case of my previous ABdPM patterns; instead there was a folder in a cello sleeve:

The folder isn’t as much fun as the box, but the folder is really a lot more practical, and probably a bunch cheaper to mail to North America than the previous packaging was.  The post on patterns from other continents tends to be terribly expensive, even for lightweight stuff.

I’d thought, from seeing it on the Au Bonheur website, that the skirt must be a balloon-type, but the pouf at the hem is made using a gore on the left side with a deep dart in it,  cutting the rest of the skirt asymmetrically,  then tucking up the lower edge.  There’s a button on the lower right that holds the lifted hem in place.  It’s the button to the right, above.

Here’s the back view (at an odd angle, sorry, but you can see the fullness of the skirt better this way):

Once I got oriented, this dress was actually simple to construct.  There’s a bodice, a mid-skirt, a lower skirt, and a triangular gore on the left side.    Assembly is pretty basic,  just attaching each layer to the next, so there really aren’t any serious sewing challenges here.

However, there are a few other oddities — like, what on earth is this side of the skirt supposed to do?

The bodice drops below the waist on one side in a sort of a prong shape; you join the front and back here, and then the mid section of the skirt. And then .  .  . major drooping.  It wasn’t interesting, it was just limp.  Is it me?  Is it the pattern?  I don’t know , but I’m very happy with the fix, which was to pull up the droop, form a tuck, and tack a button to hold it  in place:

I liked the result, and it looks a whole lot better worn than the peculiar droop — although maybe the “prong” would have worked if my lower skirt were a more stable woven?  (Which is actually what the pattern calls for, so this result is probably squarely on my fabric choice.)

I used a third strategic button.  This version was meant as a sort of a muslin (when will I learn?), and I assembled it entirely on my serger.   So I didn’t baste where many seams met at the side — and I hate mis-matched seams!  It was only off by a very little bit, but no way was I going to unpick the serging, though, so I disguised the problem with a button:

This is the triangular insert on the left side.

Directions are sketchy, even if you read French, and the trickiest part is figuring out which pieces you cut from which fabric.  ABdPM uses a knit for the top section, a “fantasie” woven contrast for the main part of the skirt, and a solid woven for the smaller/lower skirt pieces.

I used a lycra/rayon knit for both the top and the smaller/lower  pieces, and a chiffon for the draped panels, underlying it so that the skirt wouldn’t be transparent.

I still have no idea how ABdPM means to have the armholes and neck finished — at one point, the directions just say “finish the garment”!  — and I decided to use bias tape.  I’m not happy about it; next time I’ll line the bodice instead.  At one time I could do anything at all with bias tape, but with several permanently damaged fingers I don’t quite have the control I used to.  Bah!

The armhole is quite deep; too deep for me, and unfortunately I didn’t notice this in time to cut it correctly.  I wear humungo-bras instead of cute little French ones, so I ended up adding inserts to raise the edge of the dress.  It’s not something I would normally recommend, but I think I got away with it on this dress.

Another fit note:  Before the hem is tucked up, the dress is very long.  The longest point nearly touched the floor when the dress was on my dummy, which is just a little taller than I am.   I was highly dubious when I realized just how long it really was, though I love the final result.

ABdPM patterns are printed without seam allowances; I put a non-woven, sheer grid over the pattern and traced my seam allowances onto the grid, marking any additional information I needed about each pattern piece as I went.  I used the non-woven pattern pieces as a muslin, and then used them to cut out my fabric.

Anyone sews with Au Bonheur patterns will find  Shams’ glossary to be very helpful; she’s the go-to person for ABdPM info.  Read it through, and refer to it, and you’ll be able to figure out most of what you need to know; Google Translate is helpful, too, but you may need some background in French to work things out if you’re not a relatively experienced sewist.

Sadly, Au Bonheur apparently went out of business in 2011.  I’m glad that I bought a slew of their patterns as soon as they were available — that’s a good rule of thumb when buying from independent pattern companies whose lifespan may be short.

Categories: ABdPM, Dresses Tags:

Customized Zipper Pull for My Minoru

April 5th, 2012 6 comments

I like to have an extension on the zippers I use, particularly if I may wear gloves when trying to open them, or if the pockets are inside, and a little tricky to get to.  But the plain black tabs that can be purchased at places like REI or EMS are sometimes just too boring.  I like a little hidden pizazz:

These tabs are actually very easy to customize.  Here’s what the they look like, straight from the package:

All you do is pry open the tab, pull out the cord it came with, and then replace the cord with whatever color you wish, and pinch the tab back together.  You’ll have to set the cord in the channels in the tab precisely, but that’s easy to do,  with a little care.

If you’re replacement cord is too thick to pull through the zipper pull  in a doubled loop, run a single strand of cord right through the hole in the zipper pull, then pinch the tab together.  That’s what I did for the inside pockets on my Minoru jacket.

Categories: Jackets, Tops Tags: