More Crafty YouTube Channels

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My week has been plagued with my tax return being rejected because of a pdf and my week old laptop, after spending 90 minutes on the phone with support, being returned to get fixed. I am trying to get posts scheduled since I won’t have access to a laptop for about a week. Also, I’m dog sitting and I only brought one knitting project which won’t be done for awhile so I had to think of something I could do quickly. Luckily there is no shortage of talent out there, so without further ado, here are some more YouTube creators whose channels I enjoy.

Fruity Knitting

I found Fruity Knitting when I wanted to make Dorset Buttons for a cardigan. Andrew and Andrea have put together a truly marvelous video knitting magazine (90 minutes!) It features their projects, pattern designers, bits of travel, history and interesting facts. Sadly, Andrew lost his battle with cancer recently and the community is still mourning his loss. I was watching this channel when I realized what I wanted in a relationship – a partner who not only loves me but shares a common vision. Their love, respect, support and admiration for each other is apparent in every episode. I do hope Andrea continues with the podcast but even if she doesn’t, we have over 100 videos of quality content to enjoy and while Andrew may not be here anymore in physical form, he is certainly with us in spirit in every episode.

Arne & Carlos

Arne and Carlos are designers for Rowan among other things. They started out in fashion design and when they noticed their knits were selling better than anything else, decided to focus on knitwear design full time. They are popular lecturers and pre-pandemic did a lot cruises. I recently learned Carlo’s sister lives in Austin! Their channel has a variety of content – from chatty, quirky stories about their past to Norwegian history and a variety of tutorials. They are an informative and amusing way to spend some time and full of inspiration.

Fleece and Harmony

Kim and Jennifer were guests on Fruity Knitting so when I ran out of options (i.e. I had binged all of the Fruity Knitting videos), I looked for others. This sister duo runs a sheep farm on Prince Edward Island and spins and dyes yarn. When we are able to travel again, I hope to spend some time on PEI and visit their shop.

Larisas Laces

If you like Irish Crochet, then check out this channel. Larisa has a variety of tutorials up and shows you how to do specific techniques step-by-step.

Christine McConnell

Christine is a multi-talented artist. She has a show on Netflix (unfortunately Netflix didn’t renew for a second season) called The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell which was done with Jim Henson Studios. Apparently she actually made all the stuff used in the show including a tea set made of chocolate and an amazing gingerbread house. Her vibe is definitely dark vintage (as in she loves Halloween and her videos are often spiced up with some cheeky horror). She calls her aesthetic “dead grandma” and she pulls it off wonderfully.

Malina GM Embroidery

You want to up your embroidery game? Well here you go. You’re welcome.

Creative Pep Talk

Andy J. Pizza is a teacher on Skillshare and I ended up taking a bunch of his classes. He doesn’t have a lot of videos but he does have a podcast of the same name that you can listen to here. Like the name suggests, his topics are more about the creative process than a specific medium. He’s smart but also entertaining so go check him out when you’ve hit a roadblock.

Bentley House Minis

I have a dream of making a dollhouse and Ara made a miniature reproduction of the Addam’s Family house. It took her 11 years (and I can only imagine how much $$$) and it is amazing. I love that she is also based in Texas. A little further north than me, but still in Texas. When the pandemic struck and we were in lockdown she was inspired to do a whole series about a dollhouse made of cardboard and materials we have lying around the house. It includes furniture, a doll, a dragon and she wrote a wonderful poem to go along with it.

The Magic Inside

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Dearest Reader,

Today’s post is a break from my regular content. Sometimes we just need a reminder to let our light shine.

Image by Jo-B

Once upon a time a beautiful little girl was born. She possessed a big heart, big imagination and a big desire to make things, as this was her magical gift.

But the little girl wasn’t aware of the power that lay within her. In fact, as the years passed, she thought there was something wrong with her because she never seemed to fit in, as much as she tried. She felt broken and unlovable, searching for people to tell her it wasn’t so. Eventually her doubts and fears took over and her light dimmed.

Image by starnly123

As she grew up, she couldn’t shake the feeling there was supposed to be something more. She blamed herself. She wasn’t enough – good enough, smart enough, charming enough, witty enough, pretty enough, thin enough, likeable enough, confident enough, strong enough, didn’t work hard enough, didn’t want “it” enough. She was constantly looking to others to figure out how to fix herself, yet nothing seemed to work. She felt like a failure. When it became too painful to dream her dreams and was heartbroken, she tried to convince herself to just give up and in many little ways, she did. She compromised, settled and gave in. She felt invisible.

And while her light dimmed, it could never be extinguished. Periodically its brilliance was in full force, breaking through the dark and reviving her spirit. But it was short lived and felt like a cruel prank. Like Charlie Brown, running toward the football only to have Lucy yank it away, again. Her hopes were raised only to be dashed, once more.

This was a cycle that went on for decades. What she didn’t realize though was her determination to keep going, to keep looking and trying kept the fire burning. And with each new revelation, every little victory that brought awareness, it gained strength and grew brighter, burning away the expectations, judgements, comparisons and self-limiting beliefs until, one day, only love remained.

And on that day, she looked in the mirror and felt the power of her magic. A big smile spread across her face and the ethereal light returned to her eyes in its full, blazing glory. What she sought was was always inside of her. She finally saw the truth.

Image by 1tamara2

She was never meant to fit in, she was supposed to stand out.

10 Favorite Sewing Videos

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I don’t own a TV but I do like to watch videos while I am doing handwork. The problem is I’ve exhausted Netflix and seen every Midsomer Murders about a bajillion times. I needed something else. I went to YouTube hoping to find some Project Runway but the only ones available were pirated ones with weird voices, bad recordings and annoying graphics. So I started down the rabbit hole and found a variety of really good content creators. I’m sure I’ve barely scratched the surface given the amount of channels there are on YouTube but here are a couple of my favorites in no particular order.

Professor Pincushion

I found this channel recently when I googled “how to make a fabric belt” for a 1940’s dress pattern I’m making. This looks like a good resource for new sewers or when you have a particular problem or encounter something you don’t know how to do such as how to sew a facing. There is just a ridiculous amount of content and I found the instructions clear and easy to follow.

The Closet Historian

Bianca is one of my favorites and I support her on Patreon. She is into vintage and while I don’t think I’ll ever dress up “vintage”, she got me looking at the 1930’s-1950’s styles with fresh eyes. The silhouettes are flattering for so many figures (especially my own) and easily fit into today’s modern aesthetic. Watching her videos got me motivated to sew clothes for myself again because of her “let’s see if this works” attitude. Her main focus is patternmaking but I’ve picked up some sewing tips as well. Her zipper insertion is my favorite. I also appreciate the thought and effort that she puts into her look books. She makes me want to put on some slinky, bias cut 30’s dress, faux fur wrap, diamonds and head out to a jazz club.

Bernadette Banner

I think Bernadette’s channel was the one that sent me down the “vintage sewing” YouTube rabbit hole with this video. (For some reason I am fascinated with seeing how people design their studio/sewing/art/ hobby spaces). She is a fashion historian and interested in fashion pre-1900 and explores the techniques and silhouettes of that era which means she does a crazy amount of hand sewing. And while I don’t see myself abandoning my sewing machine or diving into corsets, her videos are informative and well researched. There’s a reason she has over a million subscribers.

Evelyn Wood

Evelyn is based in Australia (I’m getting good at distinguishing between a British and Australian accent) and owner of the Vintage Sewing School, which is an online “study library and community where you can learn to sew and refashion all your own clothes at home”. In addition to being a great teacher, she also believes in “green” sewing, which means she sources the majority of her fabrics and supplies from thrift stores. She does some “thrift flips” (remaking clothes she has or got at the thrift store into something else) and hers actually look good. Most thrift flips are a hot mess, in my opinion, so it’s good to see her thought process and how to work a garment that doesn’t fit or is dated into something better.

Sewstine

Christine, a doctor “in real life”, is a costumer and quite frankly, her channel is just 18th century costume porn. She has an insane studio space with all the bells and whistles and an embroidery machine that probably cost more than my car (edited to add – after a quick Google search, it is listed at $18,999!) And she uses it lavishly to decorate her gowns. She seems to have some pretty deep pockets to afford all the silk embroidery thread, yards and yards of silk fabrics, laces, etc. and bless her for using her hard earned cash to make beautiful garments, hire professional photographers and make-up artists to create wonderful eye candy and share it with the world.

Stephanie Canada

Stephanie sells vintage patterns through her website Backroom Finds. I recently bought a pattern from her (the video of making the dress should be up next week) and the process was prompt and smooth. She has a wonderful array of patterns through the eras and her knowledge of vintage patterns is incredible. She sprinkles in a fair amount of humor and sarcasm to make her posts entertaining.

Madison McQuary

Madison is a high school fashion design teacher (wish they had such classes when I was in high school) and that comes through on her videos. She has a fresh appeal and her instruction is easy to understand. I enjoy watching her sew and I think her channel would good for new sewers.

What’s Sewing On

This is a relatively new channel for me (when I find a creator I like I binge watch everything…) Steph seems like a relatively new sewer and her fearlessness to dive into projects is nice. She uses thrifted fabrics and has given me some ideas for stuff to be on the lookout for when I can buy fabric again (which is when I use up a fair amount of my stash).

Angela Clayton

For as young as she looks, Angela is apparently an old-timer on YouTube, having started in 2013. She is also into vintage and is incredibly knowledgeable. She has a line of patterns with McCalls and her sewing projects go from 18th century on up. Having been in lockdown for a year now, I did enjoy watching her antique shopping videos, it let me live vicariously since I haven’t gone out much except for food, work and the rare run into JoAnn’s to pick up zippers.

Rachel Maksy

Another young talent, Rachel has a wonderful personality. She is fairly new to sewing and also leans more towards vintage but she has a theatrical streak. (Okay, to be fair, I think most YouTubers have one, myself included. Unfortunately mine’s been buried for decades so I’m have a lot of catching up to do). She’s got mad make-up skills (theatrical make-up) and won an award for it. I know I’m way older than her normal demographics but I find her so endearing to watch.

That’s a list of my favorites, I’d love to hear yours. I’m always looking for creative, entertaining and inspiring content.

Comfy AND Cute Loungewear

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After spending the last year with myself and barely seeing another human being (thanks pandemic!), and using my extra time to use up my stash and make myself some clothes, I find my “comfy” clothes just aren’t cutting it anymore.

My current collection of comfy clothes is a rag-tag bunch of hand-me-downs and freebies I’ve collected over the years. Nothing matches, it isn’t particularly attractive but, dang it, they are comfortable (gottla appreciate a stretchy waistband!) But my recent projects made me aware that clothes can really impact your emotional state. And since I spend just as much time in my comfy clothes as in my “work” or “I’m going to see other people” clothes (remember when we did that – go to an office, restaurants, socialize…?), I think it’s time to upgrade them.

As a side note, I think if I ask the question “why can’t my comfy clothes ALSO be cute?”, I need to also think about making sure my “work” or “being seen in” clothes are also comfortable. Cute and comfy shouldn’t be mutually exclusive.

The Pattern

It’s spring here in Austin and we’ve already seen 90 degree temperatures so I decided to focus on summer comfy clothes. My summer comfies are usually a pair of short pajama bottoms and an old yoga shirt. (I rarely use my air conditioner. I know, people think I’m crazy but I’m cold natured and I like it warm). That’s my long way of saying I decided on shorts and a shirt.

I used McCall’s 5358 (c.1976). My intention was to do view B, which is the white outfit on the far right – tap pants and camisole. I retraced the pattern pieces onto other paper to preserve the pattern (it is vintage after all even if the envelope is in rough shape) in case I needed to make any alterations.

I tested the pattern and it fit without any corrections. I wouldn’t wear them out, but for hanging out at home they are fine. The pattern calls for cutting out on the bias but I used knit fabric so I cut it on the grain to take advantage of the stretch. They were quick to sew up. In fact, the whole outfit took me a day.

Instead of using the camisole pattern, I used a pattern I drafted from a tank top and flared it out at the sides. It turned out okay but I had to take 3-3/8″ off the hem because it was too long for the shorts as the hem of the top was only two inches above the hem of the shorts. Next time I make it though, I’ll adjust the neckline (it was too wide) and armhole (bringing it up an inch).

The finished pajamas were functional as they were but they weren’t cute. And wasn’t that the whole point? So I took part of the hem I had to cut off and one of my leaf templates and cut out a whole bunch of leaves. Since the neckline was a bit lower than I wanted, I played around with the leaf appliques to come up with a design I liked. Of course I needed to add a little matching flower to the shorts.

Inspired by Alabama Chanin, I found some embroidery floss in my stash that was a lighter shade of blue. I used a running stitch and outlined each leaf twice. Since the fabric is a knit, I don’t really have to worry about the ends fraying so I left them raw.

I’m quite pleased with the result and will feel stylish lounging around the house in them, even though I’m the only one seeing them. And isn’t that the point, that we feel good in what we wear?

4 Days, 4 Skirts (Draft an 8 Gore Skirt)

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4 Days, 4 Skirts (Draft an 8 Gore Skirt)

I’m a sewing Ninja.

I talked about these skirts in this video (I threw one in as a bonus). In actuality, I’ve been “planning” them for a couple years but some other project has always gotten my attention. I also said I could probably sew them all in a day if I set my mind to it.

Famous last words. Technically I could have done it if I hadn’t chosen to hand sew the hem and waistband. Still, a skirt a day is pretty impressive, in my opinion.

Let’s break them down, shall we?

Skirts 1, 2 and 3

The brown/olive skirt was the first one I made because I had black thread in my serger and all the other skirts required white (I use only black or white serger thread – black for dark fabrics, white for light. Serger thread is not cheap and you have to buy 4 spools so I don’t bother matching colors.)

I made it to wear with this sweater:

Unfortunately I was less than thrilled when I tried them on together (I wish had taken a picture). The sweater came down too far and hid my waist. It didn’t look bad, it just didn’t wow me and it took a bit of the wind out of my sails. After mulling it over for a couple of days I decided to redo the sweater. I unraveled it to 2″ below the armhole, which was easy because I knit it top down. I shaped the sides to take away some of the bulk and define my waist. Also, I’m short waisted so I took away four inches of length going from a side seam of 13 inches to about nine inches. Looking at the two pictures side by side doesn’t seem like that big of a difference but when paired with the skirt the proportions are spot on!

I realized that’s been part of the problem with my wardrobe – I’ve been settling for “good enough”, instead of insisting on only having pieces that look and make me feel great. More importantly, I understand my proportions better and can see the (sometimes subtle) changes needed for a garment to flatter my figure. We should take the time and effort to make it right because we are worth it. I noticed a discernable shift in how I was carrying myself when I put on the revised sweater.

This made me rethink some of my yarn stash. Because the waistband on jeans fall below my waist, I want sweaters that are longer so they cover my stomach. But these skirts fit me at my waist (which I want to highlight) so I don’t need all that length, which means I don’t need as much yarn. I can make “skirt sweaters” from those yarns I have less of.

Okay, back to the skirt. I put a diagram below to show you how I drafted the pattern. Make sure you add your seam allowances and cut your pattern on the fold. You’ll need to cut out eight gores. I wear my skirts so the zipper is in the back.

What went well:

  • For the waistband I cut a 3″X 29″ (my waist measurement + 1″ ease + 2″ to finish at zipper opening) rectangle and interfaced it.
  • I used the same pattern I used to make the dress in this post. It fit me perfectly, sitting at the my waist and flaring out.
  • The fabrics I used were a bit more shifty than the quilting cotton I used for the dress so interfacing where I put the zipper was a big help and made insertion much easier.
  • I learned my lesson from the dress and made sure each side of the waistband lined up at the zipper so no more uneven zipper openings.
  • I serged all the seams after I sewed them as these fabrics tend to fray.
  • I got a lot of practice inserting zippers and hand sewing.

What would I do differently:

  • The light blue fabric, while having a beautiful shimmer, was not a good choice for a skirt. Not only is it very sheer, it was also surprisingly scratchy. There night be some metallic thread running through it. I barely lasted eight minutes in it, I couldn’t imagine wearing it for eight hours. I won’t be wearing it until I get a slip.

Skirt 4

I didn’t mention this skirt in my video because I was in the process of knitting the top and I wanted to reveal them together. I got the fabric from the thrift store and I think it’s a silk sari as it’s very narrow.

I didn’t use the gore pattern because it would have distorted the stripe, which pulls in the color from the top. I decided to make a dirndl skirt instead. A dirndl, or gathered skirt is basically two large rectangles (mine were 28″ X 31.25″) gathered up into the waistband (I made the waistband the same as the gore skirts).

I squealed when I looked at this outfit! I am absolutely in love with it, which was a bit of a surprise. I thought the gathers would make me look poufy. And if I used a heavier fabric it would have, but this is light so the gathers drape nicely. I get a 50’s vibe from this look. All those vintage sewing videos seem to be rubbing off on me. Not that I mind. I think the 40’s and 50’s silhouettes are flattering to my shape and plan to reference them more in my designs.

The sweater is my own design. I had only three skeins of Red Heart Luster Sheen (I don’t think they produce it anymore but you can find some on etsy or ebay). I planned on making it a raglan tank top but couldn’t figure out how to finish the neckline in a way that I liked. I didn’t want to do a rounded neck either, thinking that would make it to “vesty”. I settled on this wider neckline which suits the whole 50’s vibe of the skirt. I will be getting a lot of wear out of these two.

Final Thoughts

If you are new to sewing, these two skirt designs are easy, not only to sew but also to draft yourself. Buy some cheap fabric (check your local thrift store for fabric and/or bed sheets) and test the fit of your pattern as well as work out construction details. Zippers seem intimidating but like everything else they become easier with practice. Invest in a good sewing manual (I like the one Reader’s Digest puts out) or Youtube for tutorials.

Once you’ve sewn a few skirts you can play around with the details on these skirts by adding tucks, pockets and other embellishments

Now that I’ve tested these two designs, I’ve added other fabrics to the queue. But first I have to find a knitting project since I finished all of my UFO’s. I have several yarns that match the red poppy skirt and a basic black sweater would also be a welcome addition. I just have to figure out the designs, which is always fun.

Out of the four outfits, which one is your favorite?

Testing the Pattern – Summer Dress and Cardigan

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Now that I have a master pattern (well, at least the bodice) I felt it was time to test it. I decided to make a simple sleeveless dress with circle skirt. I also had a small amount of yarn and tested my luck by making a short cardigan so I could feel comfortable wearing it to work.

Let’s look at how it went.

The Cardigan

I started out with the cardigan. I had the idea of doing it waist length (cropped) with short, gathered sleeves. I wanted to do a lace pattern as I felt that was a bit more summery and chose a simple eyelet pattern. Halfway into it I thought a little bead between the eyelets would have been a nice touch but I was doubling the yarn and wasn’t sure if I even had enough, so I filed that idea away for a future pattern. The yarn was unraveled from a man’s sweater I got thrifting. I think the fiber content is wool.

There weren’t any surprises knitting this cardigan. Everything went according to plan, except the gathered sleeves. I wasn’t sure if I’d have enough yarn so I made the a simple set-in cap sleeve. Turns out I could have probably done the gathers but I still like it.

The finishing touch was a handmade Dorset button.

The Dress

Let me just say, this dress fit me like a glove. Yes, there are some slight modifications I will need to make to the pattern, but overall, I am incredibly happy with the final product. Even though I drafted a circle skirt pattern, I did not have enough fabric for it (circle skirts eat up fabric) so I decided on an 8-gore skirt. I measured the waist on my bodice and used that to draft the skirt pattern. Gored, circle and A-line skirts are very easy to draft and would recommend them if you are just starting out in patternmaking. The fabric is a quilting cotton that’s been in my stash for awhile. I think it was given to me.

What worked:

  • Incredibly my side seams and dart lines of the bodice and gored skirt matched up perfectly even though I didn’t plan it that way. Unfortunately you can’t see it because of the dark print.
  • I skipped facing my armholes and used bias binding instead which resulted in a nice, clean finish.
  • Thanks to The Closet Historian I was able to – for the FIRST TIME EVER – put in a zipper that looked good.
  • Also thanks to The Closet Historian’s suggestion, I cut bias tape from my dress fabric and used it to hem my dress. She uses it on circle skirts but it worked just as well on the gores also. If you are making a straight skirt you can hem it the normal way by turning it up but once you are working with any sort of curve, bias tape makes the job so much easier.

What I would do better:

  • While my gores lined up perfectly with my side seams and darts, somehow the gores for the back seam (where I inserted my zipper and which were the same size as all the others) were about 5/8 -3/4″ too wide. This is because my back bodice is not as wide as my front. To fix this, I measured in at the waist 3/4″ in and then took a yardstick and connected that point down to the hem, creating a long, narrow wedge shape piece that was cut out. While just taking 3/4″ off the entire seam would have probably worked just fine, I wanted to keep in as much width as possible because I like flowy skirts.
  • For some reason I decided to face my neckline instead of using bias tape like I did on the armholes. I had to cut my facings out twice because the first time I didn’t account for turning under my edges to finish off where the zipper was. Once I got that all straightened out, I felt the facing was too wide so I cut off an inch.
  • Speaking of facings, when I was sewing them in, I didn’t bother to pay attention if they lined up at the zipper. They don’t and it was a detail I could have easily fixed if I had caught it soon enough.
  • Although I got my zipper in nicely, I wasn’t sure how much space to leave at the top. I think in the future I’ll put the start of the zipper 1/2″ down from the top, which once the neckline finishing is put in, the zipper will be right a the top.
  • I need to add about 1-1/4″ to the side seam so it sits at my natural waist. I’m short waisted, just not that short waisted.
  • I also noticed some fabric pulling at my armhole so I’m going to try dropping it about a half inch. In it’s current state I still have total mobility but the extra half inch I think will just let it sit better, especially if I decide to add sleeves.

Overall, this is a comfortable, well-fitting dress and cardigan. The organization I work for announced we will be returning to the office in April. It will be on a rotation basis so no more than ten people will be in the office at a time, which means I’ll be there about once a week. It will be nice to have some cute clothes to wear, because let’s face it, we’ve all been in our pajamas the past year, haven’t we?