Happy Chinese New Year from the Jungle!

Kitty Collar and Tie and Gunmetal Dress

Jungle January, hosted, once again, by the vivacious and print loving lady, Anne, comes to a close today, on Chinese New Year!  Gong Xi Fa Cai (pronounced King Hey Fa Choy in cantonese or Gong See Fa Tsey in Mandarin) means “happiness and prosperity”.  And, Xtnnian hao (pronounced shin-nyen ha-ow in Mandarin or sen-nih ha-ow in Cantonese) means “Have a good New Year”.

It is auspicious on the New Year to wear red, hang red lanterns, give monetary gifts in red envelopes or write in red ink.  Red is representative of fire and is believed to symbolize luck and ward off evil.  Also, this is the time to set aside grudges against enemies and call off unpaid debt. Let bygones be bygones – if personal differences or financial obligations cannot be settled before the Chinese New Year, they shall be forgotten.

Lolita Patterns Gunmetal Knit Dress With Added CuffsI sewed Lolita Patterns Gunmetal dress in an abstract art leopard print for Jungle January.  I was lucky enough to win this pattern over on Melanie’s Blog when she was a tester for the Gunmetal dress.  The pattern is for knits and is a lined princess seamed dress with option to add a sheer overlay.  There were many pattern pieces and lettered notches, so when cutting the pieces, I used small stickers to label the various notches.

Labelling Pattern PiecesThe pattern uses a tiny cap sleeve with the option of adding an elastic hem.  I wanted long sleeves, so extended the sleeve to the desired length, using the same angle as the sleeve pattern piece.  Lengthening Gunmental Dress Sleeves

Originally, I wanted to add cuffs and a hem band in a beautiful teal fabric.  This fabric is a sueded microfibre knit and is also the devil.  Do NOT look directly at it!!!!

Teal Sueded Knit Microfibre

Uh oh…MY RETINAS!  THEY BURN!!  I tried everything with this fabric, using a large sized microtex needle, using tissue paper strips, using various stitch types (lightening bolt, triple stretch, zig-zag) and a walking foot but nothing worked.  It ultimately ended up damaging my new sewing machine.  Ya.  Luckily, I was able to take the case off the machine and pick out bits of thread and fabric and fixed it.

And, I could not use my overlocker to sew it as it was already damaged by the tissue knit fabric that I used for the lining.  The overlocker pulled it into the feed dogs and seems to have misaligned everything.  I don’t know how people sew with tissue thin knits, either on an overlocker or sewing machine, they seem very temperamental to me.  And, is tissue-knit just another word for ‘only lasts through one wash?’  The fabric feels lovely but stretches out of shape almost immediately, especially the 4-way stretch knit,  and just cannot withstand any kind of stitch ripping whatsoever and often gets pulled into the feed dogs.  I would only use it again for a very simple, non-fitted pattern.

Anyhoo, despite this, I did add cuffs to the sleeves using a zebra print stretch knit that’s been in my stash for a while that I obtained from a sewing meet-up.

Creating a Sleeve Cuff

How to Sew a Sleeve Cuff: 1. Measure how long you want the cuff and double this. Next measure the desired width and cut out the rectangle. Sew the rectangle together along the length. 2. Fold the rectangle in half, right side out. Line up the cuff seam with the sleeve seam. 3. Match raw edges of cuff and sleeve and sew with right sides together. I opted to make the cuff tighter than the sleeve, so first gathered in the sleeve to fit the cuff. 4. Pull out cuff from sleeve and press.

Gunmetal Dress InsideI lined the dress in a 4-way stretch tissue knit, added black lace seam binding to the hem and sewed the seams with a lightening bolt stitch.

Lolita Patterns Gunmetal Knit DressFor the bodice, I did not make ruffles, but rather used 3 strips of black sheer organza ruffled ribbon for the middle and then added 2 rows of a teal lace to either side.  Lolita Patterns Gunmetal Knit Dress and Ruffled Bodice

I found the neckline very low on this dress, too low for my comfort level to wear.  I’m not sure if the 4-way stretch leopard print and grey lining fabric stretched during sewing or if it is because I am short-waisted.  So, I added black fold-over elastic binding around the neckline and stretched it while sewing.  This helped to tighten up and lift the neckline somewhat.  I love the ruched side panels on the bodice!

And, Kitty, for his part in Jungle January, opted to sew himself a zebra print collar and tie.  This project, along with the dress cuffs are my contributions to Stashbusting 2014, January’s Challenge, where we had to use stash fabric that was less than a yard in size.  January Stashbusting Challenge

stashbusting 2014

Kitty Prepping Collar and Tie

Kitty Prepping His Collar and Tie Pattern

Colourful button added to the back of the collar.

Kitty Sends Up the Cat Signal

Kitty Sends Up the Cat Signal

Do you want to sew a collar and tie for your cat?  Ya, you do!!  Here is the link for the free pattern and instructions.  Make sure you measure your cat’s neck before you cut the pattern as you may have to add length.

Measure Kitty Neck Adjust Pattern

Measure Kitty’s neck and adjust pattern, if necessary.

Kitty Cat Zebra Print Collar and Tie

SO Handsome!!

Look At Mah Collah and Tie!

Look At Mah Collah and TieLOOK AT IT!!!

LOOK AT IT

Zebras are ungulate mammals that are members of the horse family, Equidae, and are closely related to the domestic horse.

Zebras Horses

And, being the ever relevant cat that he is, Kitty opted to fashion his collar and tie out of zebra print since 2014 is Year of the Horse in the Chinese Zodiac.

Were you born in the years: 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966, 1954, 1942 or 1930?  Then, you, my good friend are a Horse in the Chinese zodiac.  Those born in horse years are merry, skillful with money, witty, talented and good with their hands. Rembrandt, Harrison Ford, Aretha Franklin, Chopin, Sandra Day O’Connor, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt and Jerry Seinfeld were born in the year of the horse.

Happy-Chinese-New-Year-of-the-Horse-2014

Strengths:  Cheerful and perceptive.  Very social, with high energy.

Weaknesses:  Can be impatient and quick-tempered and independent to the point of excluding others.

Zodiac sign compatibility—Best matches: tiger, sheep, dog; Avoid: rat, ox, rabbit

According to Paul Ng, an astrologist and feng shui expert, horse people are entering a year of conflict in 2014.  They are to pay extra attention to their health this year.  Do not make any rash decision when it comes to personal finance and avoid gambling.  Spend modestly and increase savings.

What animal are you?chinese zodiacKitty is the sign of the Dog.  Makes sense, doesn’t it?    Jungle January? ROAWWRR!!

Jungle January? ROAWWRR!!

Scene in Rectangles – Lined Tote Bag

Tote Bag Comprised Entirely of Rectangles

Tote Bag Comprised Entirely of Rectangles

Inside Patch Pockets

Inside Patch Pockets

I’ve discovered that there are many simple projects that can be completed using only squares or rectangles as your pattern pieces. This makes measuring and cutting out your pattern quite simple and you also only sew straight lines.  One project I completed, is a lined tote bag complete with inside pockets.  The pattern is based on instructions from the book Sewing in a Straight Line by Brett Bara (City Girl Tote).  I modified it to include two inside pockets and a magnetic snap closure.  All the pattern pieces used in this tote consist of rectangles that you draft yourself.

Two rectangles of a cotton canvas duck were used for the outside, each were 81cm X 51 cm  (32″ X 20″).  Make sure you square your lines when drafting your rectangles using either a triangle, T-square or even a square quilting ruler.  Two rectangles of medium weight cotton fabric were used for the lining with two smaller rectangles of lining fabric for patch pockets, one on each side.  Both the exterior tote and the lining have boxed corners to provide more shape and structure to the tote.  For more information on boxing corners, click here.  Two smaller rectangles comprised the facing at the top of the tote and four long rectangles of the lining fabric, along with fusible interfacing made up the handles.

Lining and Facing

Lining and Facing

Eight pieces of grosgrain ribbon (two for each handle) were sewn on with zigzag stitching to add some design interest.  Coincidentally, the cut ribbon also consisted of very long rectangles.  The lining was attached using the “bagging” method. This method is not too difficult and professional looking.  For more information on how to line using the bagging method, click here.

You can then add a magnetic snap closure to the inside facing and you have a sturdy, roomy tote to take shopping.

A Roomy Tote, Equipped to Handle A Shopping Trip

A Roomy Tote, Equipped to Handle A Shopping Trip

Easy Embellished Scarf (with yo-yos)

I found some fabric in the ‘ends’ bin that I had to have.  The labels in these bins always say “100% unknown fibre content” which makes them all sound so mysterious and exotic, but it is very likely 100% polyester satin.  However, one side is a smooth pale green and the other side is a pale textured aqua with a sheen and it could very easily pass for dupioni silk!

Scarf

I didn’t have a lot of the fabric and wanted to showcase both sides of it, so I made a scarf.  I cut a rectangle, double folded the hems on all four sides, about 0.5 cm (quarter-inch) and added some machine embroidery along both short ends.  My machine is not fancy in this regard but there are a few options to choose from.  If you look closely, you can see the one I selected consists of tiny rectangles joined together to form a herringbone line.  herringbone embroiderySince the material is thin, the larger satin stitches I tried on it made it pucker too much.  I have since bought water-soluble backing to use in future machine embroidery projects to see if that makes a difference.

I added some fabric yo-yo’s (remember yo-yo’s?) as embellishment in different sizes, using both sides of the fabric.  I also sewed on some matte aqua buttons in the centres of some of the yo-yo’s. scarf yo-yo embellishments On the opposite sides of the yo-yo’s, I attached some coordinating buttons.  This was to provide some stability as well as disguise the thread used to attach the yo-yos to the scarf.  I wasn’t sure how else to do this, so I chose the buttons.  If you know of an alternative method, please let me know.  Scarf backside with label

And, voila, a scarf!  I think it makes polyester look far more elegant than it probably should.