A Travel Bag for the Birds

I’m not a Xmas person, but this is one of the two times of the year that I visit my family and friends. I usually travel with the birds, since the cost of a plane ticket plus the bird residence is a bit more expensive than just renting a car and taking the birds with me. And I know that it’s hard on them when they’re separated from us. But traveling with them is also stressful. I want to make sure that they are fine, and six hours in a car is not easy for them either. And there is also the mess they create. Last time I traveled with them I got a call from the rental company to complain about a white stain. I tried to clean it before returning the car, but it seems I was not able to remove it completely. I left the company mulling over the origin of the ‘white stain’, and decided to avoid this for future trips.

The black large cages are the lovebirds’, two birds in each one. These cages are great, spacious, sturdy and can be cleaned easily, but they are not practical for traveling purposes. I bought two cages like the one on the right. The are not exactly removable, but they can be collapsed and stored flat. The size is ideal to be transported on the back seat of a car, and you can insert a division in the middle. And they were cheap. I just needed to make a bag to protect the car seat from any bird mess.

I made a sketch to plan for it. I wanted a bag that could be easily used to cover the cage without too much fuss, and that would allow a ‘window’ for the birds to be able to see me and their surroundings while in the car. I had some beige canvas gifted by my sister some years ago. It is a great fabric to make handbags, I just wasn’t in love with the color, but for this project it was perfect. I attached a handle on each side and a triple handle on top, so that the bag could be easily transported by one or two people. I added a couple of cm to the measurements to have some ease.

The bag came out exactly as I wanted it, and it could be put on the cage in less than two minutes. I reinforced the inside of the bag where the handles are attached with extra stiff interfacing, typically used for handbag bottoms.

Here you can see it with the ‘window’ in action. At first I wanted to have just one zipper that could be closed inwards, and I actually got one but it was too short (I was stressed out and sleep deprived when I purchased it) and I could not go to the same haberdashery again, so I had to get two zippers, which also works fine. the zippers join in the middle, and run downwards and backwards so when completely open, the bag is almost flat.

Here the cage installed in the car and with the zips open. The cardboard contains the other cage, collapsed. I have the impression that the birds traveled more comfortable this time and could even doze off at the back of the cage. I had no issues with dirt from the birds, so I call this a win-win.

The construction of this bag was as easy as joining rectangular panels and adding a zipper. I just needed to pay special attention to corners and make them match. At first I wanted to line the bag to aim for a cleaner finish, but after working on Paula’s Hoodie and with the imminent trip, I was in a hurry. Now I think the bag is good enough as it is, light, sturdy, and easy to storage.

Another thing I had to solve for my trip was the food. With my restricted diet I just can’t stop and eat at a restaurant or eat some cookies. Previous times I went for canned fish and a piece of papaya, but it was messy and not ideal. This time I purchased an Electric Lunch Box for Cars and I packed some delicious stew. It took about forty minutes to warm up, and the top was not as hot as the bottom but it was wonderful compared with eating sardines.

The finches stayed home. At first I was going to leave them at the Vet bird residence, but Sally decided that it was time to lay eggs, and it was better to avoid moving the cage. So we left plenty of food and water and monitored them using a cheap webcam.

What I really liked from this camera was the night vision. It was a fairly cheap camera and very easy to set up, so I’m quite happy with it and we’re still using it nowadays to monitor the birds when we’re not at home or they are sleeping.

Sally laid ten eggs in total (two of them were before we installed the nest and broke, and other two were buried under the nest material by them), but they were either not fertilized or not correctly incubated, so after completing the cycle, we removed nest and eggs. It was a relief, since Gouldian Finches are usually not good parents, and I rather have some wasted eggs than dead babies.

Here you can see a video of Sally a couple of days before I removed the nest. She had a new egg on the way and I was worried that she were having difficulties to lay it, so I checked the eggs, removed them, gave her extra calcium, and waited to see if she would lay this one. After a couple of days it got reabsorbed, so we took the nest away.

I leave you now with some shots from my visit to Vigo this last Chrismas. As I’ve said, I’m not a Christmas person, but I had a good time.

I used my phone to take all the pictures, so I apologize for them not being high quality. It seems it will be like this most of the time from now onwards, since I have very little time to set up the tripod and the DSLR.

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

Another Reversible Zippy Hoodie for Paula

It’s become a tradition in the last three years that I make a Kitschycoo Reversible Zippy Hoodie for Paula’s birthday on December 13th. I’m never there at that moment, but I always bring it with me when I visit for Christmas.

This time I chose a Gorjuss fabric from Con Idea De for the outer shell and a Frozen fabric from Telas.es for the lining. I bought both online, and I was disappointed to find the Frozen fabric too light weight, so I decided to underline it with a pink fleece that’s been in my stash since I was living Belgium (yay for stashbusting!). I liked the end result, and it helped to give the hoodie extra warmth.

You had to see her face when she saw it! She decided to wore it everyday while I was there.

New Year, New Site

Happy 2017! You’ve probably arrived here from my old site at WordPress.com. I know that my old blog has been quite dead for some time, and since I’ve been experimenting with self-hosted WordPress for my other site about Audiobook Reviews, I decided to move my crafting blog here too. I had this domain for several years, and was not doing anything useful with it (I played with Drupal years ago but the site is mainly broken now). With my other blog I discovered the flexibility self-hosted WordPress gives versus WordPress.com, so I decided to move ElenaKnits, and maybe add a couple of ads to try to cover a bit of the host service. If you find them too intrusive, please let me know.

I am not a Xmas person or prone to making new year’s resolutions, but during my holidays I had the possibility to rest and come back with a fresh mind. I am not making promises, but I’ll try to share here what I’ve been making in the past months and what I will be making in the future. Plus other aspects of my daily life like BIRDS (I can’t imagine my life without them).

Again, I don’t usually do this kind of things but I couldn’t resist to the Best 9 of Instagram:

2017 was a year with a mix of things. We moved to this apartment in January, lost Daisy in July and then gave a home to Jane. My blogging and sewing stopped for a while, until I had to make things again, because I need it like I need to breath. I switched from crazy prints dresses and started making more useful garments, things that I needed and wear almost everyday. I tried to reduce my stash this year and avoid buying fabric. I almost succeeded here. I also took a break from knitting due to gauge issues and my stupid atopic skin. I’m back on the game, but taking things slowly.

I hope I will share this and much more here, but don’t expect very carefully taken photoshoots. I’ll get most of the pic from Instagram, since it seems to be the only way for me to document things nowadays.

I hope you enjoy the ride!


Burdastyle Baseball Jacket

I wanted to have a baseball jacked since like forever, but I had to search for months for the perfect pattern. I didn’t like the neckline of the Papercut Rigel Bomber, and I also didn’t want raglan sleeves (i usually don’t like the look of them). But at the beginning of this year I found this Burdastlyle pattern for children:


And the largest size more or less matched my measurements. The height was exact, not the bust or waist measurement, but I expected a ton of ease here, so I decided to try. After measuring the pattern pieces I knew I could make it work. And I did!

Two things that I wanted to modify were the length and adding pockets. This jacket was asymmetric so I chopped of 8 cm on the front and 10 at the back.

The welt pockets were a bit more of work, but the result is totally worth it.

And here you have the result (worn with Gertie’s B5895).


The fit is perfect. I shortened the waistband but I could have shortened it a bit more. It’s good anyway.


I added some patches to add some character, but there were a pain. Since I added them after the jacket was completely constructed, ironing did not work very well, since you need to dampen your fabric and also press from the wrong side. I tried fabric glue, but they also came out. I hand sewed them on during some evenings, including the first of the Screemin’ Festival.


Too add a note of color, the lining and yoke were made out of some plush fabric I bought a couple of years ago by accident. I expected it to be regular fleece, but when the fabric arrived I didn’t know what to make with it. The shell is made out of the same sweatshirt fabric I used for my knit pencil skirt.


And it also looks good unzipped.


Since the plush side is also beautiful I decided to make it reversible, following the instructions for the KitschyCoo Reversible Zippy Hoddie.


I wore this jacket during the Screamin’ Festival evening and I was never temped to wear itthis way, but I just wanted to have the possibility, and it looks neat and tidy on the inside too.



I’m really happy with how this baseball jacket came out, and it has everything I wanted in it.


And here you can see how I wore it at the festival!


Gertie’s Knit Pencil Skirt

I completed this project almost two months ago, taken pictures shortly after but didn’t have time to blog about it. Life is so busy lately that sometimes I would like to sleep for days in a row. Work is freacking crazy right now, and we have Daisy at the vet since more than three weeks ago (Billy is keeping her company), where she’s fighting for her life. She got heavy metal poisoning (I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what she swallowed), and the side effect was renal damage. She’s on heavy medications to keep her uric acid levels at bay, but that means injections every two days and a weekly blood sample to test for levels (they can do it more often due to the little weight birds have). We’re so stressed out about her that we can hardly get enough sleep.

But let’s get on with what we’ve come here for. This is the knit pencil skirt from second Gertie’s book. I wanted to try to set a pencil skirt for ages but never got the time or the courage for it. I had this sweatshirt fabric  leftover from another project that will show you soon and decided that a knit pencil skirt would be the ideal to start with and find out if pencil skirts were something for me.


I chose my size according to my measurements and the sizing, as usual, was right with Gertie (unless we’re talking about Butterick Gertie’s patterns). I didn’t even have to shorten the skirt, and for my desired length, I just had less than 1 cm to turn in to hem it. I am 1.58 m (petite), so for taller (regular) people, you will need to lengthen the pattern piece for sure.


I got my hem a bit stretched out since I don’t know how to change the foot pressure on my new machine, but reaped it and added wash away quilters tape to it and it worked fine. I did a twin needle hem.

For the rest, this was a very quick project, since there’s just one pattern piece, and the result is very forgiving due to the stretchy nature of the fabric and the elastic band at the waist.


I could test this skirt during the Screamin’ Festival last week, and I got a lot of wear out of it, especially when we were chilling out at the apartment, since I forgot to include anything else especially comfortable for when we were in (resting, cooking or eating). This skirt was like wearing pajamas.

Here with my Untangling Knots Hetty.

Something that annoyed me a bit was that the skirt used to ride up my hips a bit when I took long walks in it. I don’t know if it’s due to a wrong sizing/fitting.


For the rest, I love the skirt, and I may jump top the pencil skirt bandwagon, at least if they are made of a stretch fabric. I am not sure I could walk a lot in a non-stretchy pencil skirt (unless it has a good sized vent).

Butterick B5895 and Untangling Knots Hetty

OMG, when was the last time that I posted a finished project here? I have some to show you that I finished about last month but I’ve been too busy to blog about it. Pictures were taken almost four weeks ago but stayed in my hard drive until now just because life is very busy right now. I’m having so much work that after 6 pm I can’t bear to look at the computer save for watching some meaningless series. But fear not, here you have the first set of finished garments.


These are Gertie’s Butterick  B5895 pants. Since I didn’t find the printed pattern close by I bought the PDF from McCallPattern.com and they redirected me to PrintSew.com to download the pattern. Here the nightmare started. They don’t provide a PDF file, but a PDC, which is an encrypted PDF for which you need to install a program, LockLizard, and download a license from PrintSew. I printed the pattern last year after I just bought it, but I didn’t have the chance to sew it until now, and since I misplaced some of the pages, I had to reprint them again. I still had the LockLizard installed on my Mac, but my license did not work anymore, so I had to send an email to PrintSew and wait for them to come back to me the day after. I wanted also to mention that the pattern is 48 freacking pages, 8 of them totally blank, and quite some mostly blank as you can see here:


According to my measurements I should have made a size 12, but after measuring the pattern pieces at the hips and waist I went for a size 8, but I had to make a full inner thighs alteration (as seen on Cation Designs blog), adding 2 cm to each pattern piece (4 in total).


I also shortened the pants around 7 cm and tapered the legs after they were already sewn.


The fit is not bad, but if I don’t pull them up vigorously I get horizontal wrinkles, meaning that the waist is too high, around 2 cm higher than my natural waist. Nothing too surprising, since I have a short torso due to being petite.


I thought I was going to need more space for the bum (as it usually happens) but the stretch cotton sateen helps here and I don’t feel constricted. But look at those wrinkles. I definitely need to shorten this for next time. Well, this is just a wearable muslin.


Even though it’s just a muslin I decided to serge the edges so that I can wear this without fear of it getting disintegrated. The left part of the zipper is a little bit wonky. I should probably interface this next time or just use more wash away quilters tape).


When I started sewing my garments insides were a mess. I take now the effort to make them neat, and with a serger it’s easy peasy.


Pockets are a value added to a pair of pants, even though these feel a bit weird because the waistband sits too high.


And here is another garment I wanted to show you this time. It’s Hetty by Andi Satterlund. I attempted to knit this cardigan just after it was released, almost three years ago, but the recommended yarn was difficult to find in this part of the world, and I just saw it in maroon. No my favorite color but I gave it a try. I failed miserably, it’s not that I fell out of love with the yarn because I never loved it. It’s just that I started hating it…


The result was that I abandoned this project for a very long time. I started it again last year with this pink Cascade 220 but abandoned it again after Gerry left us. Just after the summer I retook it again and finished it at the end of last year. Then we had Christmas and moved to a new apartment, so I didn’t sew buttons until almost two months ago. It’s one of the things I enjoy less, so I tend to procrastinate here. I know, ridiculous.


After all the time it took me to finish this cardigan, I am very happy with the final result and the fit. I had my doubts about what to do with the repeats at the “seams”, but after checking several projects in Ravelry, those parts (sides and where the seam would go on the sleeve) are never perfect, since the pattern repeat is broken by plain stockinette. I was bothered by it at first, but I learned to live with it. It’s just a design feature!

I added two repeats to the sleeves to make them longer, as I always do with Andi’s patterns (my wrists get cold!). The bulge you see on the left one is my watch under the cuff.


Our four lovebirds are often perched on me at the same time but you’ll never see the four very close together, except for Billy and Daisy, because they are a couple since a very tender age. They are very territorial creatures and they tend to have quite a bad temper. I love them anyway and enjoy their cheeky nature.


And I finally solved my lighting issues. There were two issues in fact. First, I should explain that I mainly use two lenses for my photoshoots. I like my 35 mm F1.8 for close shots, like when I want to show a cardigan or a top. It’s a fast lens and I don’t need a lot of light. But for complete body shots I need to use my 18 – 55 mm F3.5-5.6. This lens needs more light so it’s restricted to limited conditions. When using the remote I usually shot in A mode, so that the camera auto adjusts if light conditions change (a cloud at a certain moment). But the last time I used this lens my pictures were very dark. I found out that my camera somehow miscalculates when using this lens, so I decided to shoot everything in manual this day for both lenses. Another issue that I had to correct was the non-uniformity of the light. The photoshoot location in my previous apartment didn’t have this problem, but my current sewing room receives much more direct sunlight and they tend to be dark patches in some places. So I bought this little gadget that folds to a very small size and it seemed to help.



Why I’m not (officially) participating in Me Made May (MMM)

The answer is easy: because I’m already wearing me made clothes everyday and for me MMM is an exercise to try and wear handmade clothes and find the gaps in one’s wardrobe. Then you have to add the hassle of taking daily pics and feeling guilty about repeating clothes. I don’t do parties, I don’t have to go to an office everyday. I just work from home and do my routinely grocery shopping, go to pilates class twice a week, and to the vet from time to time. I love sewing vintage dresses, but that’s not what I’m wearing on a daily basis and I have made peace with it a long time ago. I have already found and filled the gaps in my wardrobe. What else do I need?

When I’m at home I need to be comfortable, and I don’t wear my knitted garments because, in case you didn’t know, I’m going to tell you that birds nails felt wool like felting needles, that and the occasional bird dropping I may get on me. I admire Tasha for trying to dress glamorous at home, but that just doesn’t work for me. And not just due to the birds. I need to cook all my meals due to my autoimmune disorder, and then I need to clean up afterwards. Just don’t blame me if I’m wearing my two Carolyn pajama bottoms in heavy rotation.

And off course one of my four Barrie Briefs (planning more):


Then I change clothes when going out, but it’s always to the regular things like the grocery store, the pilates studio, the vet and mundane places like these. If it’s cold you will see me wearing of my knitted sweaters. In the past I would also wear one of my me made pants, but after losing weight they don’t fit anymore, I’ll need to make new ones.

When the weather is a bit less cold I often wear my Ziggi Biker Jacket:


And when the weather finally warms up I’ll be wearing one of my four Lady Skater Dresses, and I’m planning two more as soon as I have the time, since they are ultra comfortable:

Then I can also wear a blouse for a special occasion, and that’s it, really!

My wardrobe may seem boring, but I’m a practical person and I don’t need tons of different clothes; apart from the fact that my life is mostly at home with the birds and the occasional going out to run some errands. I’ll save you the boredom and I’ll save me the hassle, and I’ll just keep on wearing and making what I want, and enjoying other sewists pictures participating in Me Made May.

Tutorial: Lekala Underwear for Men (#6134)

I already spoke about this pattern in the past. My boyfriend is picky with his underwear, and can’t have anything strangling the family jewels. After looking here and there for a pattern that would suit him (I like the Comox Trunks from Thread Theory, but that was a no no for my boyfriend), I found this one, and I knew it was exactly what I needed. This underwear for men from Lekala was the most similar to the ones my boyfriend wears and prefers. The good news is that the pattern is very cheap ($2.69 right now) but the instructions are sparse to say the least, and it doesn’t include facings. You can very well make it without facings, but the result will be less neat. After making some here I’m going to show you my way, and I hope it can help to those of you with doubts about it.


I made two last year, and after how popular they became (they are really getting worn out), I took the time to make three more this February. I wanted to share this tutorial much earlier but several commitments left me with no time to post anything decent. Now that I have finally gotten my motorcycle license (phew!) I expect to have more free time again.


The pictures in this tutorial are from the one in the middle. The right and wrong sides of this fabric are different, so I think this will make it easy to follow.

One thing to take into account is that you can buy this pattern with and without seam allowances. You can save a bit by doing it without (as I did), but just do what is comfortable for you. Also, if you get it without seam allowances, this means you can customize them.


So you will need:

  • The 4 main pieces (front and back, right and left).
  • Right and left fly extension interface pieces.
  • Facing to cover the right fly extension.
  • Elastic.
  • Markers (I use Frixion Pen, it goes away with heat).
  • Pins.
  • Iron.
  • Sewing machine.
  • Serger (optional).

The first thing you need to do is pinning both front pieces together and draw the line where you will be sewing. Use a ruler.


For the straight part pick the longest stitch on your machine, since this will be ripped later on. We will be basting this to make things sit right and in place to get a perfect crotch. This was what I didn’t do the first two times and what prevented those two trunks from being perfect (but still good enough to still get a lot of wear nowadays).


For the curve switch to normal stitch length (2.5) and back stitch at the beginning of it to prevent it from being undone when we reap the straight seam. And don’t bother with zigzag, since this part won’t really stretch. A regular straight stitch will do, like for the previous seam line.


Then you will need to fuse some interfacing to the both fly extensions. I cut my interfacing pieces excluding the seam allowances to avoid having too much bulk.


Do this for both fly extensions.



And now we need the facing to cover the right side of the fly extension.


Fold and press the seam allowance.



And stitch the fold in place.


Now open both fly extensions and place the facing on top of the right one, right sides together.


Snip just where the curve for the crotch seam starts.


Sew the facing to the right fly extension, where the pins are placed in the picture above. I serged this part, but sewing is also fine here. You can do it with a straight stitch, since due to the interfacing, this part won’t stretch.

After turning it to the right side you should see something like the picture below. The right thing here would have been to serge the seam of the left fly extension. I forgot here and I did it at the end but now it would be the right time to do it. Serge also the crotch curve edge if it was not done when serging the facing and the extension together.


And now we need to draw the line to complete the fly.


Remember to open both fly extensions before sewing over this line, since we just want to join the left part with the left fly extension. The right fly extension should be left free here. I pined it to the side to avoid accidents.



Then sew the horizontal line at the bottom of the fly. This will secure the bottom part of the fly. You can use a straight stitch for both seams, the interfacing will prevent things from stretching out.


Open the basting we initially did, stopping at the horizontal line we previously sewn.


Open both sides and stitch the left fly extension to the front with a straight line, just where the fly overlaps. The trick here is leaving the little threads after reaping the seam and sewing over this line using it as a guide.



And you see that the trickiest part is already done!


This is the wrong side. My left fly extension is raw here, and I finished it afterwards, but it should be done where I specified before.


After the fly is done you can now construct the rest of the trunks. Sew (or serge) back pieces together and join them to the front pieces on the sides. After that just press the top and sew it to create the channel for the elastic. I usually leave a little gap at the center front where I feed the elastic, and then close it from the outside to make sure it’s neat. For this part I tested several things. My first times I did it with a zigzag, but I didn’t like the look of it. I tried with the bolt stitch and the triple stitch (both elastic), but these tended to stretch the fabric and were prone to accidents (having my fabric hooked in the plate hole and getting holes in it), so I finally set for a regular straight stitch, a bit longer than usual. If we think about it, the finished waist will be smaller due to the elastic, and it will never need to stretch out more than the original waist circumference. At least in my boyfriend’s case. Take this advice with a pinch of salt.

Hem both legs with a twin needle or a stretchy stitch of your preference (or use a cover stitch machine if you are so lucky ;).


Now that the hard work is complete you just need to sew a couple of buttons or place two snaps. With my old machine I couldn’t dream of making decent enough buttonholes, so I have a good stash of snaps, and it’s what I used on these again.


And voila! Here you have, perfect trunks.


The birds also wanted to try them out.


But after a while they were more interested in my fabric stash. This drawer looks like a nice nest!



Second Carolyn Bottoms

Since I made my first pair of Carolyn pajama bottoms I’ve been living in them. I often work from home, and they became my daily uniform. It was frustrating waiting for them to be ready after the wash, so I needed to make a second pair.

I apologize for the pictures this time. I have light issues in my new sewing room that I expect to resolve soon, and this day my camera acted up and took darker than usual pictures.


For this one I lengthened the legs a bit, since my first pair was a bit short. This one came out perfect.


The best part of this pattern is the pockets. For this reason it beats most of the pajama patterns that I’ve seen around. Ah, and the fit!


Both pairs are made out of cotton flannel, but I’m planning lighter versions for the warm weather.

Astronaut T-shirt

After my first Maria Denmark’s Kristen Kimono Tee I knew this pattern was perfect to showcase this fabric I purchased during Christmas 2014. I made this top last May, but shortly afterwards we lost Gerry and I didn’t have the heart to look at the pictures and publish them on the blog. I hope you understand, it was so painful that this top stayed in my closet for almost a year. I think I am ready to share it now, even though I still miss Gerry very much and I hope he’s fine and happy wherever he is.


Here Colin, Billy and Daisy wanted to be in the picture. Marvin was also in the room but observed us from afar.


And then he decided to join and see why I was obsessed with smelling Daisy. I love their smell. I could sniff at them for hours!


There is not much to say about this top that I haven’t said before. It’s easy, fast, it fits well and it’s free.


I fell in love with this knit the moment I saw it. It was around 1.5m by the kilo and it was ultra cheap. It seems a digital printed fabric, and even I loved the moment I saw it, I didn’t know what to make and avoid disturbing the print. This pattern was perfect for that.


These birds drive me crazy but here we’re having a blast!