Archive | September, 2012

Bad sewing karma

29 Sep

I’m working on Vogue 8827 this weekend, using a black peachskin.  And… I just don’t know, you guys.  The instructions, they are not the best.  I mean, I understand them, I just don’t think they work very well.

I did, however, have a very happy find, a new way to mark fabrics:

This is a mechanical ceramic pencil, made by Dritz.  I found it in the quilting section, where all the best marking tools can be found.  It comes with white and purple leads.  The markings are easy to make and quite fine, good for details.  They will brush away slightly, but not as completely as chalk. Water removes them with no problem.  I also use chalk markers and occasionally the fine, light blue dritz washable pen.  This is my new favorite tool!

Now, back to that pattern.

1. There are a million cutting layouts – and for view C the 60″ wide is on another page entirely.  I started out with the 45″ and ended up having to cut my belt in too many pieces, but I was lucky to fit it in at all.

2. Facings - The pattern uses a full facing for the front drapes.  It would have been helpful for me to remember to cut them right side up.  Luckily, I also managed to cut the matching front piece upside down, so they match.  But if your fabric has a definite right/wrong side you couldn’t do that, as the facings show when you wear the dress.  As it is, I may wind up with a slightly patchy dress.  Peachskin doesn’t have a big difference, but the two sides are slightly different in terms of level of sheen.

3. Facings pt 2 -  Ok, so I would have preferred no facing for the drape.  The instructions tell you to sew the facing to the front, turn and press.  Now, the pattern pretty much calls for fabrics that don’t press (jersey, challis, ponte or crepe… challis is the only one that might hold a crease).  This is a problem because the edge isn’t crisp.  One solution is to understitch, which is what I did, but be aware that the understitching will show.  You could also topstitch.  I peeked ahead and later on the pattern asks you to hand tack the facing to the fronts to finish.  Seriously?  This dress is 90 feet long (slight exaggeration) and there is no way on earth that it wouldn’t pull and show on any of the called for fabrics (unless you use a print).

4.  Closure?  What closure?  The dress is closed with inside ties and the belt.  It has no outside closure.  Yeah… I don’t know how confident you are of your belting skills, but I am not so much.  I’m going to add a snap.  The last time I made a vogue pattern that did this I ended up never wearing it.

5.Length - Well, I don’t think any tall ladies will need to add any!  You have to tape together pattern pieces to make a complete one, and the dress is long as cut.  How long?  A good six inches more than I need for floor length, and I’m not short (5’8″.)

6. Handed-ness - My dress? Is going to be backwards, as I totally failed to note how to cut the right/left fronts.  They aren’t, to be fair, labeled as such on the pieces, and somehow it didn’t occur to me that there were two fronts (there are lots of pieces to this thing – cutting took over an hour, and I was distracted listening to NPR).

At the point I realized that mistake,  I gave up and had a glass of wine, because this pattern is driving me to drink!

I still think the dress is pretty, and I do plan to finish mine.  I really wanted to sew it this weekend because I have a concert tomorrow afternoon, but I’m not going to make it.  I’ve thrown away the instructions entirely (well, thrown them on the ground!) and I’m going to wing it the rest of the way.  I think this is for the best.

I hope I’m not the only one having a frustrating sewing weekend!  I’m going to console myself with a trip to the thrift store this afternoon.

Found my coat fabric!

27 Sep

After checking all my usual suppliers with no inspiration, this popped up at FabricMart:

Houndstooth suiting

It’s just what I wanted for my coat – I have another houndstooth coat (gray and royal blue) that I wear more than any other.  I wanted something fun, and all the suitings I found were too plain for what I was imagining.

They also had great prices on some ponte knits:

This ponte will become this new Chado Ralph Rucci dress:

I bought a few other colors, one of which will become this new look pattern:

I like the rolled collar.  Finally, they are having 50% off solid knits, so I got this knit:

 

To make this tunic:

My fall plans are shaping up nicely!  I have cut my shantung blouse and my concert dress.  I hope to finish one this weekend!

 

 

 

Pattern review: Jelly Roll floor pillows

24 Sep

Pattern: Jelly Roll floor pillow, from the Moda Bakeshop

Fabric: Amy Butler Jelly Roll from her Cameo collection, plus a few extras and 2 yards of backing fabric

Other: 5 pounds of stuffing, large cording for the piping, covered button kit

Notes:

I wanted to make a cat bed for my kitties that they could share, and at 44″ across this is plenty big enough for two (at least when Leon, the maine coon above, doesn’t decide to make himself enormous!)  The pattern calls for 1 jelly roll, but be aware that non Moda rolls are sometimes smaller – I needed to buy a few extra 1/4 yard pieces to make mine large en0ugh.

The pillow wasn’t hard to sew, but it as a little boring.  I recommend doing as the pattern says and cutting each piece after it is sew onto the whole – otherwise it’s hard to keep the ends from shredding.  If you do make this, be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the pattern, where she mentions trimming it up every 10 strips or so.  This is very necessary – otherwise you will have a hole in the middle!  I thought it would look odd, but you cannot tell.

I bought shredded foam fill from Amazon to stuff the pillow.  It’s sort of bits and pieces of various foams.  It arrives vacuum sealed, but if you open it up it will double in size very quickly.  I used nearly 5 pounds of the stuff (I had to order twice, but I’d recommend just ordering the large size if you don’t have Amazon Prime shipping.)  It’s extremely messy to use – do it outside!  The resulting pillow is very soft and bouncy, perhaps a tad lumpy (it is made of chunks of foam after all) but in my experience cats do not care a bit about softness, and can in fact generally be found sleeping on the most uncomfortable things (Leon likes to sleep on top of pairs of shoes for some reason, high heels and all).

They have since managed to remove the button twice, so I gave up – they don’t get one!  They spend a lot of time now cuddling on the pillow – it’s so sweet, and it will give them somewhere warm to lay this winter (it’s already getting cold here!)  I definitely recommend the pattern, just be aware that it is rather a lot of repetition!

Planning plans

24 Sep

I’ve finally finished my massive closet cleanout (3 bags of clothes and 2 of shoes have gone to the Nearly New Shop, my most favorite thrift store that’s located in a former roller skating rink).  This has revealed the holes in my closet (as I hoped!)  Here is what I’m currently trying to plan:

1. Tops – Once again I find myself short on tops, especially blouses.  I typically avoid sewing with blouse fabrics, but I think it’s time to conquer that fear!  I’m beginning with Butterick 5785 in silk shantung:

I took your advice (from ages ago) and prewashed my fabric in the machine on hand wash.  I hung the fabric to dry, and other than being wrinkled it still looks great!  I’m really paranoid about silks in the wash, but I think it’s best to treat them this way – otherwise I never wear them!  I love this blouse because of the longer shape and belt.  I’ve ordered some other blouse fabrics, so I hope to have more to make soon.

2. Winter coats - I have a ton of short coats, but all my dress coats have given up the ghost.  I’ve decided to join Gertie’s coat sew-a-long:

Is anyone else going to be sewing along with me?  I’m not much of a joiner, but I think this is the only way I’ll be motivated.  I’ve never sewn a coat!  I plan to shorten the pattern by several inches, making it shorter than knee length.   I’m planning to use a wool suiting (because a heavy coating would be crazy with a circle skirt!) but I haven’t bought my fabric yet.  I think I want a red/wine color, but I haven’t found the perfect one just yet.  I may be late getting started, but I can at least try to get my muslin sewn this week!

3. Black performance clothes

know, I know, I say this every year.   But I really and truly could use some good black outfits.  I hate sewing with black, but I can’t depend on running across dresses I actually like.  I’m planning (at this point) to try Vogue 8827, a new pattern for fall.  I’m going to use a rayon crepe.

I’m also planning a few other items – I want to experiment with sheath dresses, and I have a few tunics to make.  I can’t plan those yet – I have yet to get fabric!

Meanwhile, my house project continues.  I’ve finished the living room and hallway, and now it’s time for the bathroom.  At this point I’m planning to replace the floor and add beadboard to the walls.  And paint, of course (I’m thinking icy mint!)  There aren’t any sewing projects in that room (umm… please don’t let me get crazy enough to try to make my own rugs!) but I’m working on two small quilts/wall hangings.  The first (which I’ve already started) is this:

This is the Frosted quilt by Frivilous Necessity.  I bought a layer cake (set of 10″ squares) from Sewn in Cincinnati, and happened to pick up this exact print (Blizten, designed by BasicGrey for Moda).  I like that it’s Christmassy without being kitsch.  In real life the colors are more icy.  I’m leaving off the border – I think quilts look nicer without.  This will be my first time trying applique – the pattern used the fusible web method.  Wish me luck!

I’m also making this hanging, for my living room:

This quilt, Centered, is from the book We love Color.  This book contains only solid colored quilts.  I bought it for my Ipad – my first book purchase, and let me tell you how convenient it is!  I ordered the fabrics called for (all Kona cotton solids) and hope to work on it after finishing the Christmas quilt.  I think it looks like a warp field or something

Until next time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall/winter sewing 2012

13 Sep

Bet you wondered if I was going to sew curtains forever!  I finished my last 2 sets this past weekend, and while there will be more later on, I want to stop and work on my wardrobe for a few weeks.  Pictures of the completed living room are coming this weekend – I am not exaggerating when I say that it’s like I live in a different house now – I love it!

Having said that, I’m not super excited with the fall patterns, though there were a few that I loved.  And my life has changed so much – I’m working outside the house again, which means I need more professional type pieces than before.  It’s easy for me to fall into the trap of wearing whatever I see first, but I’m really trying not to – I know that I feel better in general if I put in a little effort.  With that in mind, I’m trying to identify holes in my wardrobe and fill them.

I like to ask myself these questions when working on wardrobe planning:

1. What image do I want to project?

I firmly believe that the way you dress makes a difference in how you are perceived by the world.  I don’t want to get into whether that’s fair or not (hint: it’s not, especially as pertains to women).  Having said that, I find that as an introvert (thanks for the comments on my last post – I am feeling better!) that it helps me to imagine myself filling a role.  As a musician and actor, this sort of thinking comes naturally.  Right now my concerns are two-fold:  I want to appear confident and competent, but I also want to be approachable.

2. How do I want to feel?

It’s not just about the outside – clothes affect your mood.  I always want to be comfortable, but I don’t wish to feel messy or sloppy.  I’m not interested in being uncomfortable for fashion, because I think you can be fashionable without torturing yourself.

3.  What are the practical considerations?

I have to walk a fair bit, sometimes in cold weather.  I don’t like to wear anything that is tight around the ribcage (for breathing).  I prefer sleeves, and can’t understand why women’s clothing doesn’t seem to come with them anymore.  If I make something with short sleeves I have to wear a sweater all the time (or not wear the item at all.)  I don’t like to wear black because I have a long haired cat.

I find that these three questions help me to narrow my focus.  After that I go through my closet and donate anything that doesn’t make me feel that way (I always recommend doing this with a friend – I know I’m not objective about things that I’ve made!)  I have that planned for this weekend, and after that I’ll have a better idea of the state of my wardrobe.

Off to think about patterns…

 

Bits and pieces

3 Sep

I’ve had a bit of a disappointing month (other than the new job, which I love!) which might account in part for my recent silence.  I had an audition for a grad school program, which went fine, but then I was interviewed by 7 people at once, which did not go as fine, leading to me being rejected (luckily I wasn’t attached to this school – I’ll be happier elsewhere I suspect!)  Then I had a job interview for a part time gig, which I thought went really well, but again – they did not go with me, and I didn’t even get to the audition bit this time.  I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m a terrible interview.  I’m rather introverted – at least with new people – and I really don’t do well with large committees interviewing me all at once (both had 7 people asking me questions).  Heck, I don’t even like to go to dinner with 7 people at once, because it’s overwhelming, much less have to answer questions about myself and pretend to be extroverted!

It’s frustrating because I don’t actually think there’s anything wrong with being introverted, but I feel as though I’m at a disadvantage in any sort of quick judgement/first impression sort of situation.  I’m reading the book Quiet, (recommended by Robyn!) which I highly recommend to my fellow introverts – unlike other books I’ve read, it doesn’t try to make me feel like I have a disease that needs to be cured.

Anyway, I’ve been doing a lot of sewing to make myself feel better.  I’m got several projects nearly completed, so here are some previews!
Tie top curtains

My tie-top curtains are nearly complete – they’re just awaiting a hem and curtain tiebacks.  I love the little horses!
Jelly roll floor pillow - top

My jelly-roll floor pillow is almost done as well.  You can see the top above – it wasn’t super hard, but it was a little boring.  I sewed it to the backing and made piping.  Unfortunately, I ran out of stuffing and had to order more.  I’m using a shredded foam mix that I found on Amazon – it arrives vacuum packed and expands a ton, so I couldn’t predict the amount I needed.   The cats don’t seem to care that it’s unfinished:
Floor pillow or cat bed?

It took less than ten seconds for two cats to claim, and it’s not even fully stuffed yet.  I think it’s a hit!

I’m about to make living room curtains, and I’m also working on this:

Garden of Eerie

(not mine – I’m still waiting on my fabric!)  I haven’t done any needlework in ages.  I love this sampler -it’s called “The Garden of Eerie” and is designed by Plum Street Samplers.  Love the little Frankenstein Adam and Eve and the “This Work Rot by” text at the bottom.  This is technically Halloween themed, but I’ll keep it up all year – I have a little collection of macabre/day of the dead items in my dining room.

I also got an Ipad this week – one of my friends wasn’t using his, and was happy to pass it along.
Ipad

I was reluctant to get an Ipad – I didn’t see myself using it, but it turns out that it works for me.  First, since I work 2 places now, it’s nice to carry with me rather than a heavy laptop.  It’s also pretty amazing for sewing – I used it when working on the floor pillow, and it was so much easier to keep the instructions that way (and I didn’t have to print anything!)  I know, I’m behind on this, but I’m pretty excited about it.  I want to make a case:

e-reader sleeve

(pattern here: by SewCrafty Jess)  It’s for a kindle, but I can adjust the size.

That’s my update for the day.  I am starting to think about my fall wardrobe, but right now I can’t actually access my closet very easily to assess what I need.  Hopefully soon!

 

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