Dropping by

Grad school is intense so far. I am taking 2 classes right now, one of which (musical form and analysis) is taking basically all my time and attention to get through. As it turns out, 10 years is a lot of time in which to forget things like counterpoint. Ah well… I love it so far. I didn’t realize how much I missed school until I came back! There is something so wonderful about being rewarded for being opinionated.

At the end of June one of my best friends got married, and I spent a lot of time preparing (I was in charge of all the music. I also cut all my hair off! It was sort of a whim to be honest, but I really love it. I don’t have a ton of pictures, but here is one from the wedding:

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These are my friends Malia and Althea, and when I saw this photo I just thought “Too much pattern!”  Aren’t we colorful?  Anyway, the hair is basically a pixie with extra length on the top.  I can do it like a regular pixie with bangs (think Michelle Williams) or in a fun quasi pompadour (think the singer Pink, but without the sides being shaved.)  That’s how I have it here.

I haven’t been sewing, and I probably won’t do much until this session is over (August 1st!)  We’re going to see my best friend get her PhD from the University of Florida in August (yes, Florida in August) between sessions.

I did buy myself a Nintendo 3DS for my birthday this week:
3ds xl

Pink/white naturally.  I’ve been gaming more because it’s something that doesn’t require concentration after hours of writing or studying.  Well… at least not frustrating concentration.  I do want to make myself a zippered case for it, so hopefully I will get to sew that this week!

I’d also like to make a quilt for our bedroom – we are buying a new bedroom suite and redoing everything in the fall.  I’m thinking of buying a latex foam mattress, so if anyone has any feedback on that let me know… I specifically don’t want memory foam because of the heat issue, but I like the feel of the latex.

I hope you are all well – I will be back soon, even if it’s without any new sewing!

Simplicity 1614: stripes!

Simplicity 1614

Pattern: Simplicity 1614

Fabric: Rayon Challis (ebay purchase)

Notes:

I am seeing this high/low hem tops everywhere this season.  I made one last year, which didn’t turn out so well.  I didn’t like how much longer that top was in the back – I prefer the more gentle rounded hem of this pattern.  I also think rayon challis is a much better choice, as it allows the pattern to drape naturally.

Because my torso is incredibly long, I haven’t found any hi-lo tanks in the stores that fit me.  They all cut off in the front at precisely the widest part of my hips, and I don’t find that flattering on me.  I knew I would have to lengthen this top, so I added 3 inches in cutting.  I was worried that was too much, but it turned out to be just right!

I should probably mention that you won’t find this version of the top (rounded hem in with the front all one piece) in the pattern.  This version is cut in stripes on the front, but I taped the pieces together in order to have only one seam (the bust line, which is on all versions.)

I was really excited to use my striped fabric – I’ve had it for ages, but it was too overwhelming for a dress.  Imagine my dismay when I realized that the piece was actually vertical stripes!  No matter, I cut on the cross grain.  In fact, in order to get the stripes to line up I had to cut the yoke entirely off grain.  Luckily, that doesn’t seem to have caused any issues, but I’m sure it would in a more fitted top.

I cut a straight size 8, and I did not make any sizing adjustments (except the length) but for one.  I made the view with the single back strap, but after carefully assembling the straps I realized that the strap was really wide on me – several inches too wide!  Because it was already sewn into the seams, I ended up just folding under part of the strap and securing it under the armholes.  It’s invisible in this fabric!  I took out 2.5″ inches overall.  I probably have a narrow back:

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I am exceedingly proud of the back seam matching – I can’t even see it, can you?

On the subject of the pattern – it was generally pretty good, though I had one issue.  The pattern has you staystitch the neckline, but unfortunately the front neckline has a 3/8″ seam allowance, which isn’t marked.  Be sure to keep in to a quarter inch or it will show and have to be removed!

I think the pattern wanted a hidden bias finish, but I wasn’t thrilled with that on the neck.  The armholes have visible black binding, much neater imo!

In all, a very successful top.  I’m not done with tops for the summer, but I need to pause to make dresses for a few events I have coming up… look for that soon!

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Vogue 8856

Vogue 8856

Pattern: Vogue 8856

Fabric: Bamboo jersey from fabric mart

Notes:

I always wonder how companies choose the view they will sew for the pattern envelope.  In the case of Vogue 8866, they chose the simpler version (you can see it in the link above.)  If I hadn’t clicked through to look at the illustrations I would have never known about this version, and I would never have bought it for the plain t-shirt view.

I loved the skirted version.  Yes, ok, it looks a little like a dance costume, but so what?  I love dance costumes!  In fact, this particularly reminds me of a green number I wore while doing a dance to “The Sign” by Ace of Base.  Yes, it was probably twice as dorky as you are imagining in your head.

I was worried about sewing this up because of all the sharp angles.  Usually those are a pain to sew, but not here!  I was really impressed with the drafting.  Everything fit together perfectly, which is not always the case!  If you’ve never sewn something like this before the instructions might be a little vague (I think there were places that needed to be cut to the corner that were not listed in the instructions, but I’ve made enough of these to do it automatically.)

I think the style is very flattering.  It’s long enough to wear with leggings, almost long enough to be a minidress (I did not add any length to this one!)  I’m not really an enormous fan of cut on cowl necklines because I think they make me look a little top heavy, and this is no exception, but I still really like it.  If I made it again I would turn the cowl into a boatneck, because that’s a better neckline when you (like me) have little difference in size between your bust and waist

Let’s talk fabric choice:  I actually think this would be nicer in a more stable knit.  I used a medium weight bamboo jersey because it’s what I had, and I didn’t want to buy any new knits before using some up.  Bamboo jersey is heavy and stretchy.  I stabilized the shoulder seams, but it does still stretch out (especially in the back – the skirt is heavy!)  I think a ponte would work, or an interlock.  On the right hand side you can see the waist of my leggings through the knit, which is one of my pet peeves.  I will have to think carefully on what I wear underneath.

I did not hem the skirt, which I think it best for this style. I hemmed the neckline and armholes with a baby hem, as suggested in the pattern, but I think a bound finish might help to stabilize those edges even further (clear elastic can only do so much!)

I’m on a roll with tops – I have one more to complete this week!  I’m trying to get in my summer sewing this month, because I know when classes start in June I will have less time.
vogue 8856

Simplicity 1615

Simplicity 1615
Pattern:Simplicty 1615

Fabric:: Swiss Dot lawn from Joann Fabrics

Notes:

This was one of my favorite of the new Summer Simplicity patterns, so I knew I had to make it up right away!

I’ve seen a lot of woven tops in the stores this season.  There are still plenty of knits of course (and my next top is a knit!) but the blouse seems to be having a moment.  I hardly own any blouses, as I have a very hard time finding the right length in the quality I prefer.  I have a long torso and shorter legs, plus I’m pear shaped and I prefer tops to cover past my widest part (if I’m wearing with slim pants, as I am here).  Making tops means I can add length.  I added 3 inches to this one, though I might remove and inch.  I’m undecided, as I pretty much love it the way it is, even if it is a little longer than some of my shirts!

The collar, which is invisible on the pattern cover, is the nicest bit:
Simplicity 1615

It was much simpler than I thought it would be!  I constructed the straight seams on the serger, and made my own bias tape to enclose the neckline.  The shirt has a really nice clean finish on the interior.  I like the sleeve detail:

Simplicity 1615 detail

The fabric is a lightweight cotton lawn/swiss dot that I found on the clearance table at Joann’s.  It’s slightly sheer, but not too bad.

I really love this top – it feels modern, but with the print it still feels like me!   This is not an outfit I would have ever worn 2 years ago… it’s funny how things change!

Next up: Vogue 8866 (the skirted version) in a kelly green bamboo jersey.

 Simplicity 1615

 

McCall’s 6554

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Pattern: McCall’s 6554, Fashion Star

Fabric:  Stretch sateen (main) and Kaufman Radiance (silk/cotton) for belt

Notes: 

Is it bad if I confess that I could have finished this a week ago, except I was waiting on the tube turner set I ordered to arrive in the mail?  I really don’t know how I lived without this device.  I had no idea turning tubes could be easy!

I’m pretty pleased with how this dress came out.  I admit that I made it because the fabric matches my walls, even though I was afraid of the butterflies making it a little too young for me.  And to be honest, the fabric does limit the places this dress can be worn.  It feels appropriate for an afternoon tea, but alas my life is short on such events.  I think I will wear it to a wedding later this summer – it’s good for an outdoor wedding!

I didn’t have enough fabric, so I made the sash in a contrast.  I like it better that way – it makes it less matchy.  The pattern itself was easy, but do yourself a favor – do not line it the way it says!  Use the method that avoids handsewing instead.

I trimmed 3 inches off the length because, again, I was afraid it was too young looking.  I cut a straight size 10, but I would do an 8 if making it again.  The belt helps it fit, but it’s a still a little too wide in the upper chest (the neck gapes a little in the front.)  This is one of McCall’s Fashion Star patterns, but I confess I have never seen the show.  I’m surprised at this, because it’s really such a basic pattern.  Easy enough for beginners, no problem.

So… I’m back making things again.  My personal style has changed a little, and this feels more of the old me, so I plan to examine that soon, hopefully before making something else.  I am in grad school now, but luckily all my summer classes are distance learning (I was not looking forward to commuting every day!)

Back soon with more plans…

 

First project in my new room!

Thanks so much for all your nice comments on my sewing room – I really love it, and I’m pleased that so many of you do as well!  It feels like a million years since I sewed something (actually, about 2 months) so I decided to get right on it.  I’m starting out with something totally in my comfort zone, McCall’s 6554

McCall's 6554

The fabric is a stretch sateen that I bought last summer at SR Harris in Minneapolis.  I’m thinking this will be my Derby dress if it turns out well.

How long has it been since I sewed?  So long that I didn’t realize I was completely out of light colored zippers and batiste for lining!  A trip to the fabric store will be in order tomorrow, and then I think I can make this dress up quickly.

So far the new room is great – it’s smaller than the old room, which makes it easier to use, and it’s so nice not having to look at all that attic clutter while I sew!  I’m someone who doesn’t function well in clutter – I won’t realize what’s wrong, but I get all cranky and tired when surrounded by a mess.  Now if only my desire to de-clutter could keep up with that!

 

Sewing room complete (for now!)

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It took a month, but I’m happy to say that my sewing room is complete for now!  I painted all the trim white, and then painted the walls Benjamin Moore “Misty teal,” a pretty pale aquamarine.
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I really love the color – it’s such a change from the old purple (seen here, in the process of being covered.  I’m sure my husband appreciates me showing his painting shorts to the world!)

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The chandelier and curtains are new:
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The chandelier came from Overstock.com (link in my last post) and the curtains I bought at Target.  I thought making my own, but the cost for 2 windows was a bit much, so when I found these fabulous border print curtains for $15 a panel I snatched them up!  I found the thread holder at a yard sale for $5, and I had one of those jumbo packs of Guttermann from some day after Thanksgiving sale at Joann’s.  I love how pretty the thread looks on the wall!

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My machines are sharing an extra long desk (Malm from Ikea, very sturdy!)  I have a sewing table with my Rocketeer downstairs, waiting to be repainted and added to the room.

I bought a new ironing board.  Mine always seem to rust out every year – does anyone else have that problem?  My dress form (which, admittedly, is mostly decorative, as it doesn’t adjust down to my bust size) is happily sitting to the side.

I’m still planning to build my project table, but for now I’m ok with my portable table from Joann’s.  At least it doesn’t take up much room!

Now the only question is, what to make in my new room?

I’m starting graduate school this summer, so I’m hoping my things being more accessible will make sewing in small bursts possible.  It was just too depressing in the attic.  But I love my pretty room, and I’m hoping it proves inspiring!

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Sewing room update

Painting trim (if you wish to do it correctly!) takes quite a long time.  If taking trim from bare wood, I use 2 full coats of primer (I like Zisser Coverstain) and 2 full coats of paint (I like Behr ultra premium in semi-gloss).  I sand between each coat, and fill all nicks and holes with a good filler (not the cheap DAP stuff) between coats of primer, and caulk between coats of paint.  In the past week I’ve done all that, and now the room is ready for real paint this weekend.  It went from this:

Windows before

to this:

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the trim in this room was in pretty awful shape – I replaced half of it because whole pieces were missing (the people before us had dogs, and they shredded the trim.)  The windows need to be replaced, but that’s not in the budget right now.  The trim on this floor was originally painted when the house was built, but in the 80s (when everyone wanted natural trim) someone stripped it, and never bothered to finish the wood.  Wood is never the same after paint is stripped anyway, and after 30 years of weather exposure, it was especially bad (not to mention it wasn’t stain grade to start with!)

Anyway, I’m very happy – and now I’m picking paint!  I want a pale blue green, sort of a tiffany blue:
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This color is scuba green by Benjamin Moore with just a little more white added.  It looks a little strange on the wall, since the purple reflects on it, but it looks great when painted on a swatch or poster board in the room, so I think it’s good!  I may end up just getting the next lighter shade on the card.

It’s important for me to choose a lighter color because I sew at night a lot.  With dark walls, there isn’t enough light in the room.

Speaking of light, I’m replacing this awful ceiling fan:

Old ceiling fan

I hate this thing.  It only takes one light bulb (max 60 watts) so it isn’t useful, and I think the design on the blades looks like evil sheepdogs.

I ordered this replacement from overstock.com:

chandelier

I figure, if you can’t have a chandelier in you sewing room, then where can you?  It takes 4 bulbs, which should be an upgrade.  I have ott lights for ironing and cutting anyway.

I’m still considering my project table options.  I like the idea of using the expedit cubes, but I’m thinking building my own might be better – then I can have the size and height that I want!  For now, I will probably bring my foldable table down and use it while I try to decide on my options.

So, I haven’t done any sewing, but I’ve made great progress on my new space – I am so excited!

 

 

Mission: project table

 

 

 

I’ve been clearing out my spare room this week, in anticipation of all the painting and repair work that I start next week (easter/spring break are going to be my work days!)

My biggest issue has been what to do with my desk.  I currently have an old target computer desk that is on its last legs.  I thought about painting it, but to be honest I just want to move on.  I’m considering swapping my desktop computer for a laptop -we bought my best friend’s macbook, so I’m going to try it out for awhile.  If I can ditch the extra hardware, that frees up a ton of room.  My only concern was the mouse – I like a real one – but my husband pointed out that we have a cordless, so never mind that.   Then I won’t have to have piece of furniture dedicated solely to the computer.

I have in mind something like this:

 

Bedford Project Table Set

This is the Bedford project table from Pottery Barn, which can be yours for the low, low price of $1100 plus shipping.  Seems like a lot to pay for something that is basically a few storage cubes topped with wood.  I’m certain I can make my own for less.  Then I can place it in the center of the room and use it as a combo desk and cutting station.

I found full plans for a knock-off here.  I am reasonably certain I have the skills for this, and my Dad (an actual professional carpenter) will help me.

I would ultimately like a new corner sewing desk, so that I can make my serger and machine easily accessible, but I can wait on that.  My current desk is an Ikea Malm, and it serves its purpose well.

Plans are shaping up – now I’m considering wall colors (I’m thinking a pastel?  Something light and bright…)

 

Back again!

Well, I bet you thought I had gone off somewhere and died!  Nope – I’ve just been traveling for the past month and haven’t had a bit of time to do anything!  My husband and I traveled with the choir and jazz ensemble of the University where I work.  It was a fabulous time – it was so great seeing my students experiencing Europe for the first time!  We were in Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.  As always, Prague remains my favorite city in the world.

I won’t bore you with my photos, but here is my favorite – Marc and I in the gardens of Schönbrunn Castle

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I also went to the national conference of the American Choral Director’s Association in Dallas last week.  This was my first time going, and it was overwhelming but wonderful.  I was not, you will note, happy to come from 85 degree weather back to snow yesterday!

Obviously I haven’t sewn, since I’ve only been home 2 days this month, but I really miss it!  I’m planning to get my new sewing room painted during the easter and spring breaks this month.  I also want to sew an ipad case (soft pouch, not one of the one that makes a stand) so if anyone has a tutorial or pattern to recommend that would be great.

I love to travel, but at this point I’m glad to be home – I hope you’ve all had a great month!