Monday, December 28, 2009

It's Not Easy Being Green

This green top just couldn't get itself together properly. First, the KS3617 pattern does not fit around the neck and the sleeves. At least, it doesn't fit the way that I want it to fit. The neckline needs to be higher and closer to my neck and the armscycle is too big for my skinny arms. The fabric is 97% rayon and 3% lycra. I expected it to hang nicely (of course!) but it bubbles around the sleeves and the hem. They are shaped perfectly on my cutting board so I think that it's the pattern rather than the fabric, but maybe a bit of both. It couldn't possibly be the seamstress!! (lol) Here's what it looks like:

The back really shows the bubbling:

I won't be making this pattern again. Next time I get the urge to add a band to a t-shirt, I'll just draft it on my TNT t-shirt pattern. That would be a lot easier than trying to fix this pattern and much more likely to fit first time around.

I'll admit that part of the problem may be my few minutes of sewing here and there on this top. This December was exceptionally busy in a good way. I spent a lot of time with family and friends. My Chef Hubbie was cooking like a mad man which meant I had extended KP duty. Man, I'm not accustomed to keeping my house so clean, but that is part of the holidays for me. Along with spending family time, the high point of the month was the performance of Christmas music by Mannheim Steamroller. Finally this year, we went to visit Mount Dora to see the city's extraordinary lights and decorations. This is a small city about an hour's drive from us. It's just one of those things that we never got around to doing before.

I'm excited about my daughter's visit later this week. She decided to avoid traveling at Christmas and come later. She lives in PA so I'm not sure she could have made it through the weather. I can hardly wait to see her!! Then, next week it's back to sewing!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Jalie Jeans

I finally decided to tackle the rivets for my Jalie jeans. I was sure that they would take a day or two to figure out. Well, it took me about 30 minutes to read the rivet tool instructions and attach the rivets. That was a nice surprise! The not-so-nice surprise was the jeans are too tight to wear comfortably. I know they have lycra and should stretch with wear. At the same time, I don't want to wear them in public yet. Of course, most of the teenage girls that I know would consider them perfect. I'm just a bit beyond that stage in my life. There definitely is a problem with making a snug jean muslin before Thanksgiving and expecting a comfortable fit after all the good food. I think that I'll add a tad to the seams before I make the next pair. I enjoyed making this pair so I know I'll make many more. Jeans are another addiction that I can add to my list! In the pictures of the full jeans it looks like I skipped stitches. I'm not sure what was going on with my picture-taking. I added a ticket pocket since the Jalie pattern didn't have one
I made the back pockets a little smaller than the pattern and like the results for me.

Tomorrow is a play day for me. I'm spending the day at my local Bernina Centre. Nancy Bednar from Bernina is doing a workshop on the My Label Fitting Software and couture techniques. It should be fun!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

November Review: The Jeans Month

I had a lot of fun this month with the Pattern Review "Build a Better Jean" course. I love my jeans and learned a a lot of great techniques that I'm sure will apply to other sewing. I used the Jalie jean pattern which is wonderful for my skinny legs. They fit pretty tight but there is lycra in the denim so they should stretch with wear. I'll just have to see. Otherwise, there will be some serious dieting before I wear them very often. That's just a manner of comfort as they fit great IMHO. I'll get pictures sometime this week. Before I started the course, I did finish the S2603 DNKY Cozy. That one was a fast and easy project.

Yep, you got it. I had another month of 2 garments completed. Actually, I still want to put rivets on the jeans, but they are finished and wearable. Does a ton of company count? I realized today that I felt good about sewing until I thought about writing this monthly review. I started feeling pretty bad about my dismal results. Frankly, I don't want to continue doing something that makes me feel bad. I'm not even thinking much about speed sewing for slow sewers. I'm thinking about new challenges and improving the quality of my sewing. Those two things certainly do not mean speedy sewing. I've decided not to continue doing the monthly reviews. After all, I'm not an advanced sewer (yet) who churns out a lot of projects. I like to watch the birds in the feeder, enjoy the sunset rising, give my kitty a good petting, etc., etc. I love sewing and blogging, but I've realized I don't enjoy the counting part of it.

So, I'll get those rivets on and make the tank that goes with the DNKY Cozy. Pictures are coming soon.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Wrapping Up Jeans

My jeans are coming! The entire process was so much easier than I expected. Why did I wait so long? I guess I just needed the encouragement of Shannon's Gifford's course on Pattern Review. I wouldn't call jeans quick and easy, but I found that taking it step by step works well. The most time consuming part of the project was finding my embroidery equipment and remembering how to embroider on my machine. I used to embroider a lot, but haven't for about two years. It's like riding a bicycle. The process comes back even though it's been a while. I have a house full of company coming for Thanksgiving so there's been a lot to get ready. Mostly, I keep the house pretty orderly (closets don't count), but I don't do the "shine and polish" thing unless company is coming. Sometimes, I don't even do it then but, after all, the holidays are coming fast. Most the time, I'd much rather stay in my sewing room, look out the window, and sew. I'm still hoping to get these jeans done to wear on Thanksgiving. It may even happen pending the number of dailey mini crises that occur. Here are pictures of the jeans so far:

Before the class started, I finished The S2603 DKNY Cozy Knockoff. I saw Heidi Klum wearing a wrap blouse in a fabric similar to the one I used. That makes this a DKNY Cozy Klum Knockoff. I will make the tank in coordinating fabric to wear with it. I bought both fabrics last year, had lots of ideas of using it, but nothing that I got excited about. The only thing I don't like about the wrap is the blank wrong side of the fabric. It doesn't show if I wear it as shown in my picture, but all the other options for wearing the wrap look goofy. I will definitely make it again in the future with more reversible fabric.

You can see that the windows are cracked in my sewing room. It's finally cool enough to turn off the air conditioner and open windows. Yea! The temperature is a wonderful, sunny 75 degrees as I write this post.
I'm not sure now how this wrap will look with my jeans. We'll see. I do have my eye on a nice black and white knit in my stash. That will go well with the jeans and is screaming to be made. I have a RTW pair of black pants that will go great with the wrap - just have to finish the top. Meanwhile, I have some purple denim from Gorgeous Fabric in the washer right now. There will be another pair of jeans in the near future. First I gotta finish the black jeans. That may happen after Thanksgiving but it will happen soon!

Monday, November 9, 2009

October Review: Muslin Month

Yikes! November is well underway. I think that it is about time to finish with October. I had another two garment month. I've already worn both tops numerous times though. I completed KS 3338 knit top (definitely a TNT). The other top was S2922. This one was planned as a wearable muslin for some nice fabric sewing in the future.

If I included muslins in my totals I would have had a very productive October. Actually, I did a lot of focused sewing. I made 4 versions of the pencil skirt muslin before I got one that fit well enough for me. Yippee!! I finally can make a pencil skirt!!! The strange thing is I love making skirts and can fit most styles with a bit of tweaking. Now I have a poster board sloper which makes pattern adjusting for any skirt go so much faster. Well, at least it was faster with the one skirt pattern I've used so far. (Actually, I'm trying not to think a lot about that skirt because I have several projects that I want to finish first. I'm actually showing a bit of discipline!) I made a muslin of the J Stern Tee which will be wearable with some finishing touches. I need purple thread to do topstitching and hemming. Of course, I thought I had some but apparently not. I'm pretty good at keeping thread organized. I must have 200 spools of thread but not a one that's purple! I also made a muslin of the Jalie Jeans. With the waist and hips fitted with the skirt sloper, I only had to do some minor tweaking for my skinny legs. I made the muslin with denim that was cheap because it had some flaws. Fortunately, I was able to cut around the flaws. I love it when that happens!!! The denim looks great and the muslin had large seam allowances. That muslin will be taken apart and made into a wearable pair of jeans in the near future. Let's see. Counting the muslins, I have 8 garments for the month. I have been working!

I have been thinking of things that help my turtle sewing pace pick up a bit. These are some things that I'm finding helpful for me. They may not be new or particularly helpful for everyone.
1. Using a clapper more often on seams, not just the bulky ones. In other words, I press less and clap more. It seems like garments are going together more easily.

2. Checking the fit as I go along. This is one of the things that takes time to save time. Even with a TNT pattern, the fabrics seem to fit a little differently. If I do something wrong, the sooner that I find the mistake, the less time it takes overall.

3. I sew at my most productive time which is early morning. I can seldom just sew all day (love it when I can!!!). I've been in the habit of doing the stuff I have to do first to get them out of the way (errands, laundry, dishes, basically any chore that is not sewing). I just have to force myself to stop sewing and do the adult responsible things.

4. When cutting, I need to remember to check the second layer of fabric to be sure that I clipped the notches. I had a tendancy to not cut the bottom layer and it's a pain to have to go back and check for notches later.

5. I now measure the geometric pieces like straight waistbands and belt loops and cut them with a ruler and rotary cutter. (tip from Shannon Gifford). Burda usually does this anyway in their patterns. For some unknown reason, the big 4 even give a pattern for elastic rather than giving measurements. I don't know why I never thought about this big time saver.

Well, I'm off the audition pocket sizes for my jeans! They are beginning to look like actual jeans. I can hardly wait to finish them.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

S2922 Tunic

It's time for an update. I finished the S2922 tunic a while ago and wanted to take pictures of me wearing it. The fit is better on me than on Dolly (Her arms are too fat so I have to put her on a diet before long.) Anyway, I think the top turned out pretty well for a wearable muslin. I definitely will make it again in good fabric. The pattern is an "inspired by project runway" one and has lots of options for different tops and dresses. I think that pattern purchase will get lots of use!
I made the front and sleeves straight from the pattern. Well, almost straight from the pattern. I did use one size smaller for the neck, shoulders, armscye and sleeves. I tapered the side seams to the hip line which fits my straight body and still gives it some shape. I can pretend, right?
In the back, I eliminated the gathering and adjusted the yoke to fit. The gathering made me look more like a hunchback than I am. The fit is wearable but I will check the back with photos of me in the blouse. It may need a bit of tweaking.
Most of the month I have been working on a pencil skirt muslin with multiple tries. DH was starting to get irritated taking the photos. I usually am reasonably patient about pictures, but I wanted those photos right away so I could post them on the class board. Now I am started to think seriously about going the timer and tripod route. That means a new camera and, naturally, I want a good one. Hey, Christmas is coming! Maybe DH will be tired enough of the "Mr Deville, I'm ready for the closeup".
While waiting for the skirt feedback, I've been working on a hopefully wearable muslin for the J Stern Tee. I like the style a lot but would never wear it as tight as she does. I've just about got it (I think). The skirt muslin is done but still needs marking, sewing up the areas that are pinned, and a final check fitting. Of course, the jeans class starts Monday. I need to do a jeans muslin in the next few days. Jeans are too much work to have something I can't wear because of the fit. Naturally, there are a number of garments in the November Burda that I'm itching to make. Oh my, there's so much to do and so little time.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Is it just a t-shirt?

Well, yes it is just my TNT t-shirt which usually would not be much of a post. This poly lycra jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics makes it a special one. I just love it!! The fabric is so wild that I wasn't sure about it but I am now.
I have finished the yellow and blue blouse - just have to take pictures and will do a post. About the only other thing that I have done is work on a pencil skirt muslin. Every Fall I seem to get an itch to improve fitting. I now believe that I don't have the body to wear a fitted pencil skirt which is the reason I never could get one to fit well. I did sign up for Shannon Gifford's muslin skirt on Pattern Review and, currently, I am working on Muslin Try Four. I'll work on it for a bit more with hopes of having a skirt sloper. I'm sure that it will help with the fit in the the waist and hips for other skirts and pants. This "fitting gig" requires a lot of work and patience. That's the reason I made the t-shirt while I was waiting for feedback from Shannon. I'm waiting for Shannon's comments on my last attempt. Believe me, I'm ready to move on to more exciting projects!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Burda 08-2009-110 High Waisted Skirt

I love this skirt and love the fabric. Actually, it was easy to make. I took my time with it because I used Dawn's skirt facing tutorial and made a walking vent for the first time (much easier than I thought!). The fabric is from GorgeousFabrics and is a dream to sew and wear. I like the blue so much that I want to buy more fabric in the color (after I do some stash reduction!!). Unfortunately, I don't have anything to wear with the skirt until I finished a blouse that is currently in progress. I made the belt loops about an inch and a half lower than the pattern. The skirt seemed to look better with my short proportions. Most of what height I have is in my legs. Here's the skirt on Dolly:

In MHO, the inside of the skirt looks a lot neat than what I usually do. I wish that I had thought about matching the patterns on the lining. Oh, well - next time!

Because I happened to have some binding that matched, I bound the hem of the lining. It hangs so well that it was worth the little bit of extra effort.
I'm off to hem a t-shirt in some more wonderful fabric from Gorgeous Fabric. The t-shirt is just standard but the fabric is a lot of fun.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Casting for My Life Story

This meme was started by Ann. As soon as I saw her post, I knew The actress that I would pick to play the role of me in a movie about my life. Kristin Chenoweth would be my choice for the role.
She's tiny. I'm 5' tall and most of my life I weighed 100 lbs. wet. I think that she could portray the contradictions in my personality. There's a crazy, fun loving side and a serious, get down to business side. In her role on "Pushing Daisies", she showed the adventurous, let's just do it side of me. I lived in many states and lived and worked in Australia for 2 years. I've completed 30 marathons and did my first triathlon before I knew how to swim (lived to talk about that one). Heck, who needs to know how before you do it. I did learn to swim before the next one. I rode my bicyle 170 miles across Florida in one day and did it again three times. The list goes on too long for this post. In the other side of personality, I'm serious about accurate, honest, don't-pay-more-than-you have-to tax returns, appropriate discipline, and budgets that must balance. My checkbook is balanced to the penny (actually found a 1 cent error on the bank's part once). Besides, Kristin played the good witch in "Wicked" and "The Wizard of Oz" is one of my favorite movies. One of the fun things I did when I was Dean of Students at the community college was to dress up as the "Good Witch of the West" at Halloween. One of my friends enjoyed being the evil witch (She wasn't evil at all). We had a lot fun for a number of years and the students loved it. I bet she could even portray me trying to learn to sew and buying fabric like it was the wonderful investment that it is!

September Review: Fast Sewing for Dummies

I think that a better title for this post might be "Ideas for SLOW sewers to finish more garments without just sewing simple and easy things". That's not as catchy a title although it's more accurate. I don't consider myself a dummie - I just sew slowly. I have been pondering the question of how to complete more garments (so I can use the gorgeous fabric I have and buy more stuff). This month, with only two garments completed, may not be the best one to discuss this topic, but I have been pondering ways to complete more garments. I sew every chance I get in my life which is sometimes hectic. I doubt that I can create anymore actual sewing time unless I give up some others things that I enjoy.

Actually, I am okay with the two garments that I did finish this month. That number is appearing too frequently! My two sisters-in-law (more like sisters) visited for a week. I enjoyed seeing them a lot but it took away from sewing time. Also, this month I took Susan Khalje's Top 10 Couture Techniques Class from Pattern Review. It's a great course for taking sewing up a notch or two or more. I made a lot of samples. That's not a contradition to my desire for finishing more garments. I want to improve quality as well as quantity. Now, I don't think that is asking too much, right? There are a couple of the samples that I am so proud of that I took pictures. For the first time, I actually did bias sphagetti straps. Look at how narrow the little one is! I never could get them to turn before.

I've done narrow hems before and they looked well sewn. This sample actually took less time, is narrower (would work on chiffon!), and neater. I have a better feel for the difference between good sewing and fine sewing. This sample is the inside of the "garment" and done in contrasting thread so I could critique what I was doing

As for the finished garments this month, the jury is still out on what to do with the orange Ottobre top that I finished. I feel so much better about it after reading your positive comments. I'll try taking in the side seams and experiment with a belt. The final decision will be made next summer. The second garment is a skirt, Burda 08-09-110. I love the skirt but discovered that I have nothing to wear with it. I'm working on a blouse to take care of that. In the meantime, I'll do pictures with Dolly wearing it and do a blog post soon.

I am slowly (appropriate for my present sewing speed) getting to the subject of fast sewing. I wonder about people like Karen , Dawn , Shannon , and Carolyn (just to name a few) who produce so many garments, simple and elaborate, and all well made. I think that the bottom line is that they know what they are doing (duh!). I know that a lot of people sew faster when they have a deadline. For me, I can stay more focused if I have at least a week. Most of the time, just sewing fast for me is spelled WADDER. I may "step on the gas" sometimes, but usually I just plod along. I do keep track of my time and, for the most part, I am sewing about twice as fast as I did a year ago. I don't have to stop and think as much. After pondering the question of what works for me, I've determined that most of the helpful things are in the preparation. I hesitated about posting about this topic because most of things are in the category of "I should have known that". Well, I didn't and maybe someone else out in blogland doesn't know either. All of these ideas, so far, have come from someone else. I'll note their names if I can remember. At least, I'll have some reminders for myself. Here are are some of the things that have helped me:
1. Couture sewing is not always more time consuming. Some of the techniques can save time as well as producing quality garments. I won't be ignoring couture techniques just because I am not an advanced seamstress yet.
2. Reading a sewing book from cover to cover often reveals helpful ideas. I am amazed at the number of helpful ideas for a recent or current garment that I find. I tended to use my sewing books as references and will continue to do so. Now I also have a better idea of where to look.
3. I attached a pair of scissors to the thread stand next to my sewing machine. I often stopped to look for those scissors, but no more. I'm pretty good about keeping other sewing tool organized. I have thought about putting my seam ripper on a ribbon around my neck. I keep hoping I will not have to look for it as much (lol). BTW, I am becoming an expert at using my seam ripper and hope to move on to other skills!
4. I press fabric with a spitz bottle (for most fabrics), a dry iron, and with the selvage grain. This tip came from reading through David Coffin's shirt making book. I had been carefully straightening the grain of my fabric and then steaming the fabric out of shape. Cutting is much faster because I don't have to fiddle with the fabric to get it back on grain at the cutting table.
5. Use caution with a TNT pattern or a pattern similar to one I've made. Check the pattern measurements and/or think about how the pattern will sew in a particular fabric. A quick glance at the instructions can help avoid: I thought I knew how to sew this, but I just forgot.

That's all I can think of right now. I will keep a list for next month's review as I discover or think of things.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Adios to summer and to Octtobre 05/08 #10

Around our house, summer officially ends once the Fall garden is planted. Well, the garden planting was finished this weekend. The temperature now is just 80 degrees. That's a cold front for us!!

I wanted to make a simple raglan sleeve t-shirt for my last summer garment. I have numerous patterns that met that criteria. Why did I pick the Octtobre 05/08 #10 jersey? Actually, I had a reason that would have been a good one if the pattern looked like the picture and line drawing. It had what looked like a slight amount of gathers around the neckline. Now, I know I could have looked at the pattern more closely and would have known that there was mucho ease in the front. I've made size 40 in Octtobre patterns before and they fit perfectly. I didn't stop to think about fit. That goes to show me that a tape measure should go on new patterns! I do think that I will remember that one!! This top has enough ease to make a great maternity top. At least it is comfortable. Both the top and the Hepburn pants wear pretty well. In these pictures, I had just returned from dinner with DH's sisters, my son and 2 grandchildren (ages 3 and 5). Normally, I would have been pretty rumbled. There is some "kiddie wear" but not a lot. I love this cotton knit fabric but it needed a different pattern! Here's what it looks like:

After the pictures were taken, I got an urge to see what the top would look like if I reversed it. I didn't think about being outside and took it off and put it on with the back in front. Our next door neigbor is quite elderly and don't think he could see anything even if he was looking. Oh well. If he saw anything, I gave him something new to talk about. Here's what the top looks like reversed:
In MHO, the front looks a lot better although it is still pretty full.

The back looks all right I think.
I apologize for the dark background but I have to take advantage of my photographer's availability. It wasn't that dark, but it was dusk. Oh well.
As for this top, I know I won't be making the pattern again. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the top. There are a number of options: recut and make into t-shirt, wear it for housecleaning (that means it won't be worn often), wad it, or give it to Goodwill (probably for an expectant mother). For now, I think I'll put it away with my summery clothes and decide next year. I'm ready for Fall sewing!!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Chanel Jacket - 2 Trim

It's time for the fun part. I still haven't made a decision about the trim for the jacket. I could use the winter white or orange as a binding around the edges. The wool in both colors miters easily so either would work. I don't have any trim or ribbon that will work with the jacket fabric. Of course, I could go shopping! I kinda of like "that's it" feeling and it hasn't come yet. What do you think?
Hopefully, I can put scissors to fabric in the next few days.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Chanel Jacket 1

One of my sewing goals is to make a Chanel Jacket. I love the many versions that I have seen. When I read about ChanelSewAlong I just had to participate even though I joined the group late. After looking at numerous patterns, I decided to use KS 3258 for the first of many (I hope!!) chanel jackets.
I am going to make view B with long sleeves. I am still debating about putting in a zipper but I don't think that it will enhance the design. I certainly don't need it for most of the Florida winter. My muslin is a size S in the shoulder, neck, and armscyle area with a size M for the side seams. The only adjustment that I made was a 1/2" petite adjustment in the armscyle area.

I'm pleased with the fit for a first muslin. The adjustments that I think are needed are: raise the bust dart 1/4", add 1" to both sides of the front seam, and shorten the sleeves 1/2". I like the length where it is so I will add a hem allowance. The side looks pretty good to me and certainly the sleeves are the best fit I've ever done. I have toothpick arms so these narrow sleeves are wonderful to me. I wasn't very careful setting in the sleeves but they did go in easily.

The back fits all right as far as I can tell.Here are pictures with my hands on my hips. I think that is a way to check on ease. In the front view, I can see the horizontal lines on the left side so I know that they are straight. I marked the left pocket flap locations and will raise the top one a bit.

I've made the adjustments on the tissue and did a tissue fitting. That looks good. I am concerned that the front seams don't meet at the top and the bottom. They fit at first and then fall when I move. That was not a problem with the tissue fitting. I'm hoping that adding facings will take care of that.

I welcome any comments and suggestions that anyone has. I'm planning to do a second muslin to check my adjustments. I know the fit will never be perfect with my body but I want to get as close as possible.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Loes Hinse Hepburn Pants

The LH Hepburn Pants deserve a separate post. These pants surprised me in several ways, but I wanted to try the pattern anyway. I was concerned about the gathers at the waist as I have certainly don't need any extra bulk in that area. The gathers smooth out so much during wear that there was no problem. The fly front instructions were different and I feared that would give me problems. Funny, the mind works in strange ways and sure enough they did give me the problems that I expected. Actually, they are much easier than the traditional fly zipper opening. I somehow made them difficult. I won't get into the construction details as Shannon did such a great tutorial. If you want to make these pants, I suggest that you read her tutorial. This link shows all the many samples of the pants she has made. If you scroll down to 8/14/09, you'll have the tutorial.
My version of the pants was made from toffee silk noile from Nancy's Notions. The fabric sewed beautifully. For the first time I attached elastic with the serger. That worked really well and is a lot faster than using the sewing machine. The finish is sooo much neater. I do have to practice getting my gathers more even, but the results this time look fine when I'm wearing the pants. Here's a picture that shows the full pants:
I'll definitely be making these pants again. I have a number of comfortable pants patterns, but these rate #1. The sewing doesn't take much longer than pullon pants (unless you try to make them difficult like I did) and the fit is nicer especially around the hip and tummy area (I don't need any extra fabric there!).

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

August Review: Highs and Lows

For August, I completed two garments and almost finished a top. I'll do a post soon about the reason that top didn't quite make the August total. During two lack-of-focus weeks, I traced a bunch of patterns and even cut out a few of them. Most of them will be put away until Spring arrives. A few went on my Fall sewing list. I am so ready to start sewing for cooler weather. I'm looking forward to this hot, steamy weather ending.

On the positive side, I did attach collar bands and collars for a blouse and a jacket. I thought my collar points were good, but had a long way to go. Then, I compared them to a Liz Clairborne blouse in my closet. I'd still like to get closer to perfect, but the collars were as good as the Liz blouse. Perhaps, I'm being too hard on myself. I'll always be working on sewing skills - at least I'm progressing!

The blouse is V2634 made from a cotton print from GorgeousFabrics. Although the colors are not the most flattering for me, I loved this fabric when I first saw it on the site. It hardly winkles (amazing for a cotton) and is soft and comfortable to wear. I also like the pattern. I made size 12 in the shoulder/sleeve area and size 14 in the hip area. The fit is about as good as I can get with my lopsided body. I love the blouse and know that I'll make it many times. Next time, I'll put in sleeves and, hopefully, the pattern will work as well.

The other finished garment was Loes Hinse Hepburn pants. For some reason, I struggled with the zipper insertion. I've done lots of fly fronts, but this method was different. It took a long time for me to wrap my mind around it. I tried this pattern because Shannon likes it so much. At first, I thought that it was sort of silly to put a zipper in pants with an elastic waistband. Once I finished them I understood why she likes the pattern so much. The fit and comfort is much better than pullon pants. I haven't worn them out yet. That will be the real comfort test. These pants deserve their own post. I'll do pictures and blog about them later in the week.

That's about it for August. Right now, I need to hem my last summery top and get going on Fall Sewing. Yea!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Buttonholder Took My Mojo

I lost my sewing mojo for the past couple of weeks. I never thought that it would happen to me. That'll teach me to be so smug. I was ready to put button holes in my red, white, and blue blouse. Also, I need to do button holes for the green linen jacket. For some reason I just could not bring myself to do them. I don't understand it. I have done many successful button holes. So, I found all kinds of other things to do: organizing stuff, tracing patterns, fitting patterns, cutting out garments, planning Fall sewing, even doing some much needed household chores. Meanwhile, Big Bertha (my sewing machine) sat idle and didn't even call for me. Thursday night DH wanted to watch "Top Chef". I said go ahead, without complaining, and just recorded "Project Runway".

Well, last night I watched all 3 hours of Project Runway. I was so happy to see Tim Gunn and Heidi again!! I was disappointed with the winners. At the same time, I enjoyed listening to the judges' comments. They must know a lot more than I do about style. I would not buy or make many of the garments they liked. Mainly, Tim Gunn is extremely motivating to me. Finally, I'm happily sewing again. I was up and at my machine early this morning. My button holes for the blouse are done. Of course, the thread broke on one of them so I had to rip and resew. I think that was my sewing machine reminding me not to forget it for so long! I've almost finished the Loes Hines Hepburn pants that were cut out in May. The instructions are so different from what I usually do. I couldn't make sense of them. The light finally dawned today. They are still challenging for me to make. I'm not sure that they are particularly difficult. They are just different from the way I normally sew pants. Well, I have the waistband to sew down, hems, and hook and eye. The mojo should last long enough to finish those few things!
I am going to take a sewing break now and look through the stash for jacket fabric. I've joined the ChanelJacketSewalong and still need to finalize the pattern and fabric.

I am amazed at how animals can pickup on our moods. Harry, the cat, is usually happily testing fabric and meowing with pleasure at my sewing efforts. Today, he is back to his normal Sewing Guru self. For a while, he looked more like this closing shot:

Friday, August 7, 2009


Sewing has been more challenging this past week. New skills just take a while to learn! Most of the sewing has been good with a few clinches. (I made sure my seam ripper was handy.)
The pockets are ready to be sewn on the Burda 02/2009 #115 jacket. I know at least one of the individuals who reviewed this pattern put the pockets on before doing the hem and facing. Burda instructions have you sew the pockets over the hem and facing. This time I decided to go with Burda so the pockets are waiting. I spent a lot of time preparing the pockets because I really want them to be exactly even and the same size. So, I used a variation of a tip from Shannon Gifford. (Note: Her courses on PatternReview are excellent.) She suggests tracing the pocket without seam allowances on cardboard. For these pockets, I used template plastic which, IMHO, is easier for tracing than cardboard. The first step is pinning the pocket pleats on the pattern:

Then, I traced the pocket and flap without seam allowances. The pattern slipped a bit with those pleats pinned so I checked and corrected the tracing. I labeled both pieces, partly because I'm scatterbrained and partly because I may use these tracings for pockets on another garment.
Then, I cut out my traced patterns and used them to iron the seam allowances over them. The ironing was easier and more accurate. I checked my accuracy by folding the pockets and flap at the center mark to make sure both sides were the same. Then, I checked the pockets and flaps to make sure they were the same size. They were! (Before making the pleats and pressing the seams, I added fusible interfacing to the top of the pockets. I do use pockets and want them to be stable.)
Here's my big clinch:
The linen I used has some lycra in it. The fabric must have slipped because the upper sleeveon one side was cut way off grain and hung crooked. I ripped and carefully pinned this sleeve so that it would hang on grain. What a pain! The difference between the upper and lower sleeve is not big so, hopefully, I can just shorten the sleeves a bit and still use the sleeve bands. Naturally, I did not have enough fabric to cut another top sleeve! After the fact, I remembered a tip that I read somewhere (can't remember where) to press fabric with a dry iron, spitz with water, and iron parallel to the selvage. I tried that with a skirt I cut out last weekend. The fabric lies so nicely. I guess I've been steaming the fabric out of shape. That won't happen again!!
The collar is ready. I really worked on it. The points are pretty good but I sure wish I could do them better. I know, from past experience, that the points can only take so much fiddling before a hole appears. I used Pam's tutorial for the collar except that I didn't have to turning tool she used. That tool is on its way to me now.
I had to read the instructions for installing the collar several times. Finally, I figured them out. The front facing is only sewed to the notch for the end of the collar before the collar is sandwiched in between.
I did pin the CB and shoulder points to check the fit first. We'll have to see how this works.

Then, I moved on to doing another collar for a shirt that I had cut out. I just had to try that collar again quickly. It was sort of like someone who comes close to drowning in a pool. They had better get right back in (assuming there is no physical damage, of course) and start swimming. Otherwise, a lifelong fear of water can occur. I certainly don't want to have a lifelong fear of pointed collars. Here's my blouse V2634, in process, that I hope to finish this weekend:

Saturday, August 1, 2009

July Review: The F Words

No, there were not any nasty words coming out of my sewing room during July. The words that describe my sewing for the month are: four, fun, and fortunate.These monthly reviews do provide me with an incentive to focus on finishing projects. I like numbers, but sewing is not a numbers game for me. Sure, I could complete a lot of garments and even use up a lot of fabric. All I have to do is make a bunch of quick TNT T-shirts. Although I do wear a lot of t-shirts, I would find that kind of sewing BORING. I like variety. Also, I want to continue to increase my sewing skills. I know how to make t-shirts. Hopefully, I'll add to my list of "know how tos" by the end of the year.

I completed four garments this month: the S2936 raglan sleeve blouse in a woven fabric, a TNT KS3338 T-shirt, the Ottobre 02/2009 #1 Camisole Top, and a pair of "cheatin' jeans" from Loes Hines Cruise Pants pattern. These garments did provide a little bit of new learning. I'm proud of the way the woven blouse turned out. I'm about ready to move to a tailored blouse with set-in sleeves. The camisole was a new pattern which really didn't provide any new learning. I do have a great way to use up knit scraps. The pull-on pants gave me an opportunity to practice using the heavy jean topstitch thread. There will be a pair of jeans in the near future. (The pattern is cut out ready for tissue fitting and a muslin.) I made the KS t-shirt just because I love the fabric.

I had a lot of fun during July. While the seam ripper did appear on several occasions, there were no frustrating problems. I traced and cutout some patterns. The planning and starting of new projects always is exciting. (That's the reason why I need some means of accountability.) I also did the dreaded pointed collar and collar stand for a blouse and my "never-ending" green linen jacket. They turned out a lot better than any of previous attempts. I'll definitely wear the blouse and jacket (assuming I can attach them satisfactorily). They don't look as good as I'd like but they are not bad. Plus, I didn't find the process frustrating and enjoyed trying a new technique. Maybe I really am learning to sew!!!

I feel quite fortunate to have such a wonderful fabric collection. Now that I've gotten over my purchasing guilt, it's nice to be able to "shop" at home with such gorgeous choices. I did put away some of my fabric choices for summer projects since I know I won't be able to complete them before Fall. I have more than enough still in my current projects basket. I started looking at my fabric for Fall and have a basket full of those choices. I think the Vogue Pattern Magazine and the Vogue Pattern Sale started that. Plus, I do love Fall sewing with all the earth tones. I have plenty of brown fabric to use along with matching colors.

Well, good-bye July and hello August. I'm working on the green jacket and, if nothing major happens, I'll finish it this month. I don't know how much wear I get from it now, but it's bugging me.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Cheatin' Jeans and Cherry Scraps

I cut out these Loes Hines Cruise Pants in December. The game plan was a quick pair of pullon pants where I could practice sewing on denim and topstitching with the heavier jean thread. The sewing was quick - I just took a long time getting started. Now I really want to make a real pair of jeans and thought it best to get this practicing done. I used a 100 jeans/denim needle and everything behaved like any other fabric. I looked for a 90 needle but there weren't any available at my local store. I just used what I had. I didn't want to wait to order a needle. It's been long enough! For the topstitching, I used 100 topstitch needle and increased the top tension on my sewing machine. The stitches look fine to me. I will invest in a jean double needle for the real pair. I did a fairly good job by using my edge foot twice and adjusting the needle position, but there are places where the distance between stitches isn't precise. Ya' all know how those little imperfections can bug ya. No, they didn't bug enough to rip and sew again. I consider this a learning experience for the next round. I eliminated the side-seam pockets in the pattern and added pockets in the back. I pulled up the top so you can see the pockets. I'm happy with pocket location although I always wear over blouses of some sort. I think I'll use smaller pockets next time. There's not much of me in the back. (I sure do wish I could reverse my body parts so I'd have a nice flat tummy and nicely rounded rear.)

I used the cherry fabric scraps to make the Ottobre 02/09 #1 Camisole Top. I was surprised at how much I like it. The project was quick, used scraps, and (to my surprise) fit pretty well. It's a perfect top for the beach. I doubt that I'll wear it anywhere else. I plan to make many more versions of this. Look out scrap bin! It's perfect to wear under a low-cut top or a jacket. I still have enough cherry fabric left to make a collar or trim for another top. At the present time, that fabric has joined the scrap bin. I love the cherry fabric, but I'm tired of it! Here's a back view of the camisole. The only adjustment I'll make next time is a slight sway back adjustment.

Now, I really should work on the green linen that I've started sewing. I just don't feel like it so I probably won't. I know what happens when I sew a "should" and, so far, the jacket is coming along nicely.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cherry Pitfall

The sewing on this T-shirt was fine. I love trying different t-shirt patterns and this KS3338 is my TNT for a simple, casual knit top. I like the slight gathers at the side that take care of most of the winkling around the armhole. I took the picture on Dolly so you could see the gathers. The gathers hardly show at all when I wear it. I need a dart in most patterns. The dart gives the shirt a more fitted and often more formal look. That look is great but not always what I want. The fabric for my Cherry T-Shirt was 100% cotton. There were no problems with sewing the fabric.
So...Where was the pitfall? I have been pretty good (for me) about limiting the additions to my fabric collection. Starting with the purchase of this fabric, I have serious concerns that I am a fabric addict. I showed all the signs. I thought I had it under control. I love to look at different fabrics on blogs and fabric sites. I was looking a lot, as usual. For a while, I was able to say "Oh, that's beautiful but I need to sew more of the beauties I have first". Then, I just had to check out what Lucy's Fabrics had to offer. I saw this cherry fabric. My last name is Cherry. (Yes, I know. My name is a flower and a fruit. I get a lot of looks of disbelief and attempts to misspell my name in some way.) Most fabrics with a cherry print have a white background. I look drained in pure white so I've never bought them. This fabric had a cream background. It was a knit that I could sew quickly. I had to have it right away. Well, we all know that fabric shouldn't travel alone. I easily found another nice fabric. Did I stop there? Of course, I didn't. I found serveral more and pretty soon I was close to the $75 for free shipping. You got it. I added another fabric. Why pay for shipping when I could have a cut of fabric instead? That started a roll of fabric purchases that lasted for several days. It really wasn't my fault. All these sites had such great sales. Yea, right. I was like an alcholic who was going to the bar with friends. For a long time, he/she would just have water or maybe a drink or two. Then, one night this game plan resulted in so many drinks that he/she was passed out. Well, I didn't have a hangover at least. I just had a lot of guilt - not so much about the fabric I purchased. I love the new members of my fabric family. I only have guilt about the big gap between what I buy and what I turn into finished garments. I don't know if anybody noticed, but I did not include the yards of fabric purchased in my June Review. I'm too embarrassed at my June behavior! I'd like to think that I don't have an addiction. I only have a lust for fabric. I'm not real sure there is a difference. At least I did finish a garment in the month that I purchased the fabric. That's a first. There may be hope for me yet.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Aztec Blouse: Gestalt or Fit?

After finishing this S2936 blouse, I had to ask myself a new sewing question. What is more important: an excellant fit or the overall look of the garment?
I have to remember to take "before" pictures when I decide to make a change. Unfortunately, I didn't with this blouse. The blouse pattern has tucks in the front. Originally, I sewed the tucks and was soooo pleased with the fit of the blouse. I've struggled with the fit of woven tops for so long!! The look was not so good as the tucks took away from the design of the fabric. I love this Aztec-looking fabric. It was not happy with the tucks. This time I listened to the fabric and took out the tucks. The Gestalt of the look was much better. The fit is all right but not quite so good. The fabric was happy without the tucks so I left them out. I definitely will make this pattern again in a less busy fabric and include those tucks.
The pattern was easy to make and not difficult to fit. I made a size 12 in the shoulder/armhole area and size 14 in the hips. Next time I'll raise the neckline about 1/2". It's still a bit low although I sewed the neck with 1/4" seams. I had to let out the side seams 1/4" as it was a bit snug (with the tucks, of course). I had to take in the raglan seams on the front and back - probably could have made a size 10 for the neckline and sleeves. I didn't add the band to the sleeves as shown in the pattern. I liked them better with a narrow hem in this fabric.
The fabric is 100% cotton and, surprisingly, does not wrinkle at all. I'm finally on a positive roll - sure hope it continues for a while.