Sunday, December 29, 2013

Santa Stopped By

Santa hit the Black Friday and other sales.  Lots of patterns and other goodies :-)

First up, plenty of goodness! I was all over the Black Friday sale. There are still two more classes I want lol.

The Iconic Tweed JacketThe Ultimate T-Shirt
Fashion DrapingFashion Draping: Bias Design
Designing Details: PocketsThe Carefree Fly-Front Coat
Patternmaking Basics: The Skirt SloperPatternmaking Basics: The Bodice Sloper

I finally got the Kenneth D. King Smart Fitting series!

Gifts for Crafters had practical

and cute!
                       and rounded things out with pattern clearance sales. Woo hoo!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Weekend Plans

I do have some errands to run today, but I think I'm going to put them off until tomorrow after church. I need to spend some quality time with my sewing machine. So here is the state of the three projects I'm kinda working on:

V8882The priority for the weekend is the skirt.I did the muslin for V8882 way back when. I've made the waistband. And pinned the skirt pieces together for basting. During the pattern alts last week, somehow the front side seams ended up 1" longer than the back. I was going back and forth on raising the back waist and lowering the front waist, so I get how I made the mistake. Good thing it's an easy fix.

In my brilliance, I did cut on the center back stitching line instead of the cutting line, right up to the bottom of where the zipper is supposed to go. Not such an easy fix. I grabbed some Steam-A-Seam to tack the pieces together. I zigzagged over them as a temporary fix. I want to check the fit first before I come up with something permanent. I think I'll be okay if I take in that seam since the skirt is very full.

The fashion fabric is a black linen with embroidered pink and green butterflies. I gotta get a move on before Labor Day strikes. I am a firm believer in no white after Labor Day, but I also question linen. In the interest of time, I may go sans zipper. For the muslin, I omitted the zipper and sewed the center back seam. I pull the skirt over my head and it works. I haven't even started on the lining yet.

M5893I didn't make a single maxi dress this summer. I have an altered pattern, M5893, just waiting to go. I just didn't feel like fighting with ITY, specifically laying out the skirt. The fabric I chose from the stash wasn't inspiring, so that also fueled the procrastination. I thought that just maybe I'd do a last ditch maxi effort with the Sewaholic Saltspring, but my pattern hasn't arrived yet and the sewalong started Monday.

Last but not least is the Colette Patterns Taffy Blouse. The muslin needs a ton of work. the back neckline is fine, but the front gapes. The dart placement is all wrong and I need more width for my hips. Back armhole gapes too. *sigh*

Although fall has been in the air for weeks here in the Chi (we didn't have much of a summer, which makes me think winter will be a beast), I want to at least finish the skirt and the blouse. Then I can start thinking about fall in earnest. Looking forward to ponteroma.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Sew Much To Do

I am the type of person that can read more than one book at a time. I pick them up and put them down based on my mood. I kinda think I'm that way with sewing; we'll see. In the very near future, I need three things: a top, another skirt and a maxi dress. These are all currently in various stages of pattern alterations. I actually have a skirt muslin. I realized a couple of nights ago that I forgot to divide the amount I needed for the maxi dress FBA in half, so that will have to be redone.

I am one pattern alt away from getting to the muslin for the Colette Patterns Taffy Blouse. It's one of the patterns in The Colette Patterns Sewing Handbook. I've done a square shoulder alt and added room for the girls, using a Y-dart FBA from Fit for Real People. I just need to finish the hip.

Whenever I do square shoulder alts and FBAs, the armhole looks so wrong! I use the pivot and slide method for the square shoulder. Here are better shots of the before and after the FBA. I had real trouble squaring up the dart legs. So much so that I scrapped the first attempt, retraced the pattern and started over.

Closeup of how the armhole hinge moved.

The only thing that is kinda scaring me about the construction is the bias tape. Not sewing it, but making it. The blouse fabric is from the stash (woohooo!) It's a silky from Jo-Ann. I just can't see using good ol' Wright's bias tape on this.  

I have a bias tape maker. I'm just praying that I can cut and sew the 5.5 yards correctly! I've never made bias tape before. I'm also wondering if I have enough fabric to make that much bias tape. How much fabric do you think I need? Y'all, I'm scared of this like I am of hand sewing. I wish there was another way, but I think I need to use the same fabric for the bias tape in order to get the look I want.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sewing Kit HD

This app is a great concept with seriously flawed execution. This should have been released as a beta or even alpha version -- for free. It's simply not worth $9. To add insult to injury, I purchased this app weeks ago and there hasn't been a single update.

I love the idea of a sewing app that tracks patterns, notions and fabric. Bonus because this is not just for your collection, but you can also tie things to a specific project. Brilliant! Just what we all wanted.

The aggravation comes with the app's clunky navigation. It's neither intuitive nor streamlined. There are times when the fabric types load automatically, but the notions never do. When you add them manually, you get generic choices like "zipper." Really? Why not give me the option of selecting the type and size? If you want that level of detail, I guess that's why there are Notes. Backup to Dropbox is manual.

This app is very buggy; I don't expect this with a $9 app. The big appeal is the barcode scanner. However, the databases are incomplete! I scanned about nine recent McCall patterns. Some loaded fine. Others loaded without an image. Some are nowhere to be found in the database. Scanning thread spools proved to be just as frustrating. I'd started with the simple task of black and white thread in different sizes from Mettler and Gutermann. They don't all come up in the app's database.

Sometimes when you scan a pattern, the fabric types populate. When they don't, it's because all of the fabric types aren't in the database. How hard was that data to obtain before the launch of the app if you're working in partnership with the pattern company??

Even the language and symbols used in the app are irksome. The text is overly formal in some places and not quite right in others. "Threads" and "Inspirations" (plural instead of singular) annoy me. The red circle with a slash through it means both stop and go back. Who does that in web/app design??

I was hoping that this app could replace the combination of apps and sites I use to track my tiny sewing world. My fabric stash is on a secret Pinterest board. I snap a picture and type in the specifics for each piece. Pattern Review tracks my patterns; I enter all of the relevant envelope info. I track projects on Evernote. Each note contains a pattern pic and any alteration and construction notes. Evernote has desktop and mobile apps and is cloud based. You can get to your notes from anywhere. I use Grocery King for Android as my shopping list. Because I've been using it for years, I've built a pretty extensive database. I love that I can do price comparisons. There is an Apple version on the way. I use Google Drive to track purchased thread and tapes.

However, all is not lost in the world of ready-made sewing apps. I am thoroughly enjoying the Craftsy app (wish they would get a move on with the Android version) and the Schmetz Needle app. The Schmetz app is very utilitarian/no frills in its design, but it gets the job done. There isn't an Android version yet. I really enjoy reading Threads Magazine on Apple devices.

When you think about it, it kind of makes sense that sewing would be slow going for apps. I'm glad it's starting to get some tech attention! I'm sure our patience will be rewarded one day.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

New Experiences

Well, I finally finished a project. Not quite a first, but it's been so long it feels new :-) Behold S2614! Please forgive Ruby's indecency. I don't want to flatten those cups by storing them. Besides, Ruby needs a little more heft all over to better match me. *sigh*

Anyhoo. Let's get to the review, shall we?

Pattern description
Misses' pullover top and bias skirt. Separate patterns included for A, B, C, D cup sizes. Threads Magazine Collection. I made the skirt, View A.

Pattern sizing
6-22. Let's just say I started with the 22 :-)

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing?
Absolutely, except I added length.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Sure. I made the casing differently using this method. Although the instructions didn't call for it, I let the skirt hang before hemming in order to let the bias settle.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
No dislikes! This is a great starter pattern. 

Fabric used
Cotton/poly blend from Hancock. I've had it since 2005! Bemberg rayon from Mood for the lining. I starched the lining fabric before cutting.

Pattern alterations or any design changes?
Plenty! Where to begin? 

Alterations -- I made separate front and back pattern pieces for asymmetrical me.
  • Added width to waist and hips. I think I'll decrease the back waist width 1" next time.
  • Raised CB waist an inch. Thinking about lowering the CF waist an inch.
  • Added 2 3/4" to CB hem
  • I did High hip alt using the seam method. I should probably add more.
Design Changes
  • Lengthened 5"
  • Added a lining with hem lace! I can't help it -- I like linings. 
This project was my first ever lining! I used this tutorial to figure out how to add a linking to a skirt with an elastic waist. I used French seams for the side seams. (I didn't finish the side seams on the skirt since it's cut on the bias. Time will tell if this was wise.) Man, I ironed it, tried it on and then put it on Ruby for pics. I can see this garment will always require an iron.

I love the hem lace. It's a pretty, flirty touch to a rather utilitarian skirt. I figured I'd keep the color simple for this go round. When I got to the end, I realized I hadn't given any thought to what to do with the ends of the lace. I ended up overlapping them and joining them with a zigzag, the same way you join elastic. 

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it?
Absolutely to both!

Although it took me forever (no fault of the pattern), this was a fun project. My inner gadget girl got her workout in because I used a gang of presser feet:
  • standard foot
  • 1/4" foot (French seams in lining)
  • zipper foot (casing)
  • narrow edge foot (hemming) 
  • join and fold foot (attaching the hem lace) -- this was my first time using this foot. It was a little tricky with the slippery lining.


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Almost ...

Yippie! I'm almost done with the world's longest A-line skirt project. Now I just have to wait for the bias to settle. It may or may not get hemmed soon.

No, it's not a high-low hemline. That's about what I need to make the back hemline even with the front, LOL! I love this little ribbon loop Carolyn put in the back of her skirt. Because of the added length in the back of my skirts, I don't need anything to tell back from front.

Now that I see the skirt hanging, I'm starting to understand the power of how different fabrics behave. The lining, my lovely Bemberg rayon from Mood, was cut 1 3/4" shorter than the cotton fashion fabric. The cotton is definitely heavier and has less drape. There seems to be less than 1 3/4" between the edges now. Maybe I shouldn't have steamed the skirt before hanging? Or, I stiffened the lining with starch before cutting. The last steaming seems to have removed the starch, could that be the cause?

Speaking of steam, see that diagonal streak going across the top of my skirt? My iron has taken to spitting more and more these days. *sigh*

Well, no time to rest. I want to get started on a maxi dress!

Almost forgot! So I am kinda new to the world of wovens and the required seam finishes. I did French seams on the lining, but the fashion fabric has 5/8" unfinished seams. They are unsightly only when I look at them :-) I've heard two theories: fabric cut on the bias doesn't fray. If you line, you don't always have to finish the seams of the fashion fabric because the lining protects them from wear. What say you?

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Bloglovin' Just Because

I am no fan of Reader. Currents is waaaaay better. (Maybe Currents helped kill Reader.)  Since it's another Google product, perhaps I should be wary. But for those of you who are feelin' Bloglovin, I have claimed my blog! Please follow here, if you are so inclined :-)

Back from La-La Land and in a Great Mood

This was a crazy-as-hell very busy work week, including a three-day trip to Los Angeles. LA consisted long days and long nights. However, I was able to eek out a precious hour of fabric shopping. I had a few stores I wanted to hit (when I thought I would have hours to shop), thanks to the Threads Magazine "Sewing Destination LA" article in issue #165. As I looked online to try and find the article, I ran across this update. When I started to think about my schedule, I realized I had to pare down my hit list. By Thursday night, I'd decided that there were only two things I had to do in LA, get the garlic noodles from Crustacean and visit Mood Fabrics.

After a morning of fire drills from the office, I had to figure out the ONE thing I wanted to do most in LA. You are familiar with my addiction, so you already know -- fabric won over food. Oh how I suffered later when I realized I was sitting through an almost four-hour flight and I hadn't eaten anything all day! I was in row 39, so by the time the food cart made it my way, all that was left was a salad, a cheese tray and random junk food. Cheese tray and venerable Chex Mix -- the breakfast and lunch of champions.

Back to Mood. The store was like a breath of fresh air! It was very clean and contemporary. This brings me to my main beef about fabric stores in general. I feel like I'm in a time warp once I'm in the store (especially the independents I've seen). I want shopping for fabric to feel like shopping at Target. Fabric stores just feel old -- poor lighting, bad displays, antiquated purchasing procedures (including a refusal to embrace technology) and dust. Jo-Ann is sort of the exception. One advantage I will give to the chain stores is fabric content and care info on the bolt. I love being able to snap a picture of this and post it to my fabric stash secret board on Pinterest.

Look at how organized everything is! Sorry I don't have more pictures, but I was soooo pressed for time.

I loved that fabrics were grouped by type. All of the cotton and rayon jerseys were grouped together, organized by color. There was an entire wall of what looked like ITY jersey, but I didn't have time to investigate. The wool jerseys were together. There was an aisle for cottons. I saw some nice embroidered options, but sadly they weren't on the shopping list. The selection of shirtings was magnificent; it's where I scooped the sateen below. The last pic above shows the silk jerseys.

I'll admit to user error with my shopping experience. Mood is not to be rushed on a first-time visit. One of the things I really wanted was swatches of all of the Bemberg linings. Well, there is a section for linings, but everything is kind of mixed in. Ordering from the website is definitely the way to go for that.

While my fabric was being cut, I was at another counter signing up for the rewards card. I think that for every $500 spent, you earn a $25 credit. This is where Mood confuses me a bit and makes my marketing eyebrows raise. I couldn't find any info about the rewards card on the website. In the store, I couldn't find the lower prices I saw on the website. Where were the $8 rayon jerseys?? Again, this could be user error since I was rushed. However, I am wondering if the rewards card is in-store only because the prices are higher. Since my trips to LA and NYC are few and far between (like years), I'm not sure how I feel about that. The obvious solution is to just to buy more when I do go :-) But seriously, are the in-store fabrics that different from the web fabrics?

What I loved most is how efficient things were. I was able to drop the bolts off and have the fabric cut while I browsed the rest of the store. I could come back and add more fabric when I found something new. I  got a computerized order ticket for the fabric and one for the notions.  I took them to the counter and had them rung up together. This may not sound like much to you, but things are very different at one of my Chicago haunts.

Here's the moment of truth -- the haul. I got a cotton sateen and two rayon jerseys. The swatch is a beautiful salmon silk jersey. The tone in the pic is off; the colors are actually cooler. The pink jersey is a little more lightweight than I would have liked, but I fell in love with the color.

I had sense enough to look for buttons for the sateen while I was there. This will one day be a shirtdress and a shirt.

All in all, I had a great time. I wish I hadn't been rushing to catch a flight, but perhaps that was a good thing for my wallet!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Biased Coverage

Yep. I am STILL working on this Simplicity bias skirt. I could have finished a few by now, if I would get out of my own way. I had to start over on the pattern alts. I winged raising the back waist and high hip alts. I have since learned that winging it ain't so great. I will not scare you with the picture of how bad the fit was at the back waist. However, it's now all good using the seam method.

Really proud of this high hip alt

Then there's my obsession to add lining to this skirt...The lining and my decision to use French seams late at night comprised my next oops. This is my first time using Bemberg rayon (thanks Mood!) It is not to be toyed with. Between some very suspect cutting, sewing the first seam of the the French seam on the orginal 5/8" stitching line, ripping it out and finally finishing the French seams Lord knows what seam allowances, my lining was bigger than my skirt.

For the life of me, I can figure out why it's so short!

The dashed line is supposed to be the cutting line!

I was going to cut new lining, but cheap me said hell-to-the-naw. I went to bed around 2:30 a.m. after deciding to cut the seams out of the current lining and seeing what happens. It will obviously be shorter than a traditional lining, but I do not care.

To help me help myself, I added seam lines for French seams to the lining side of the pattern pieces. I'm kinda proud of that idea. I had already marked a shorter hemline on the pattern piece to accommodate 3/4" hem lace. My brilliance is so spotty.

Seam line for French seams in red

I am also watching Craftsy's Sewing on the Bias with intense interest. Click here for a 50% off coupon from Sandra Betzina's site. I don't know when the coupon will expire.

Sewing on the Bias by Sandra Betzina

*Sigh* All I really wanted was  two skirts, two simple tops and perhaps a maxi dress or two by July. Things have certainly not gone to plan. I broke down on Friday and headed to Nordstrom. I purchased two dresses, which were extremely reasonable at $70 each. Alterations totaled $142. That's just so wrong. This is why I am learning to sew.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

More Adventures in Skirt Making

I tried on the skirt with basted side seams. I can live with what I saw. I don't think the fit is bad, it's just that my body is really asymmetrical. I have a high hip on the right and a left hip that's so curvy in comparison, it may actually be a saddlebag. This has not dampened my spirits because I need some skirts!

Here's my fix to the back waist.

In my very brief sewing experience, I've decided I'd rather not thread elastic through a casing, if I can help it.  I remembered that when I made a Kwik sew denim skirt before, I didn't have to. I dug the pattern out and tried to find an online tutorial to share with you. Deepika has written about the technique here

I added Nancy Zieman's technique of zigzagging the ends of the elastic to a piece of fabric. 

Lemme tell you where I went so wrong. Asymmetrical me requires separate front and back pieces, right? Cut them right side up on the right side of single-layer fabric. I did the same for the lining. This just ain't fair. I can't say I didn't know. I can say I didn't understand. It's the first thing Susan Khalje covers in the lining section of The Couture Dress. Now I get it -- clearly and painfully. Mirror image means flip something.

Can I tell y'all how glad I am that this skirt is poly-cotton twill from and pongee lining? I think I'd pass out if this attempt used more expensive fabric.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Fabric Joy

I have a fabric problem - silver quilter's charm

I can't kick the fabric-buying drug. I gotta have it. I can sorta control it by supposedly buying what I need for a specific project, but who knows when I'll get to the project? Anyhoo. One shouldn't be too hard on oneself :-)

Seriously -- once the skirt bug kicked in, I realized the flaw in my stash. Either my pieces are too large or too small. I want full, A-line skirts that fall past the knee; I have an unhealthy crush on circle skirts. I need 2.5-4.5 yds to make this work. I can't bear to cut into a 5.5 yd piece of fabric if I only need 4.5 yds. I would rather buy more fabric! (I know this is completely ridiculous and a recipe for foolishness.)

Enter Robert Kaufman Ultra Cotton Sateen and Mary Jo's. I am now the proud owner of Forest and Black. Forest is destined for a dress. Y'all know I really want the chocolate now.

Then there's Fabric Mart. I got the last of this black silk/cotton Oxford shirting:

I made a couple of first purchases. Fashion Fabrics Club had basic sateen colors. I love the one on the left. I absolutely hate the one on the right. I will think twice before purchasing from them again. It is really heavy. Way too heavy for an A-line skirt. All sites should give you the fabric's weight. 

I got this lightweight embroidered cotton too.

I made my first purchase from Mood! Based on Project Runway and what the folks on its blogger network are doing, I thought Mood wasn't for sewing lightweights like me. I know where to go if I ever want silk 4-ply crepe, but I'm glad to say there's something for my skill level -- and that people is Bemberg lining at $6/yd! Oh happy day!

Last but not least are Jo-Ann and Hancock. From Jo-Ann there's this linen and poly charmeuse.

Poor Hancock. You're just not the same anymore. I do thank you for these two great finds. The lawn ?? on the left was $.40/yd! The stretch cotton pique was around $5. Now I'm on the hunt for stretch linings.  All except one of the older sateen fabrics in my stash has stretch.

May was a good stash month!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Adventures in Skirt Making Continue

On Sunday, I decided to tackle the easier of the patterns, S2614.  I made the changes to the pattern and didn't make another muslin. I think I may have added too much width for the high hip, but I figured I could pin-fit that out.

Monday morning, I cut and marked. Tuesday, I staystitched and got ready to construct! I pinned my two pieces together. Guess what? When I added 1" to the back waist. I really added an inch -- without tapering from the left seam line. Thank goodness this is an easy fix. You can see below how I'm trying to accomplish this taper.

I only had 20 minutes. I'll fix it later. I also want to revisit how to do an elastic casing without threading the elastic through. Is that called a fold over casing?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Double Trouble

I need bottoms desperately (really I just need clothes.) I can suffer through RTW tops, but that is not the case with pants. Skirts can be an issue too, but more about that later. In the meantime, I've become obsessed with skirts. I even bought a book to help me figure out how to line an A-line skirt.

PhotoI was ready to conquer V8882 with gusto:  I traced the pattern. I added 1" to the side seam allowances and my usual 2.75" length to the CB for my high and round rear. (This is why RTW skirts can be scary.) Side note:  what I have been calling a sway back issue may actually be my high and round rump. Not sure yet if it's just my rear or if I really have a sway back.

I moved on to the muslin. I now see my tilted waist in action! I raised the back 1" and lowered the front 1" (people, I'm on a roll!) By pinning, I was able to fix the hemline curve.  I still needed the 2.75" at the CB, I just can't seem to draw the curve correctly on paper. I draw half the curve, fold the pattern in half and then trace it on the other side.

Not a great shot
I was ready to cut some fabric. Dang! The piece I wanted to use was too short. My alts required an extra 3/4 yard. See how the Lord helps fools and babies? I was completely willing to ignore the pulling around my high hip and what the pleat was doing as it opened over the ummm ... apex of my bum. Also, that 2.25" waistband looked like it was sitting directly under the girls. I definitely had an old man in Florida look.

The desire for a quick win was so great, I decided to move on to an easier bias skirt with an elastic waist (that didn't need as much fabric.) Enter S2614. How the hell do you line a skirt with an elastic waist? (Lining is a requirement for me.) Thank God for Google.

In my brilliance, I did the tissue alts in the following order: Overall length, CB hem length, hips, high hip, back waist (notice how I forgot the front waist?) The high hip alt was torturous. I tried to use the seam method. Completely severed the tissue on both the front and back. Still wasn't sure if I really got the alt right, but I moved on to the muslin.    

Yep. Still needed to lower the front waist. Here is where I am amazingly awesome. I still don't know why, but although I marked the new waistline on the muslin, I chose to use a curve to draw a different waistline. The CF was the same, but I angled it differently. I started with the left side. I couldn't quite get ruler to match up on the right side. So I cut the left side, folded the skirt in half and cut the right side based on the left! YES!! I CUT OFF THE LENGTH I ADDED FOR THE RIGHT HIGH HIP. I am greatness and excellence rolled up into one.  Luckily, I saved the piece I cut off.

My hemline curve wasn't right on this skirt either.

This weekend will be spent working on both skirts ... Of course, none of the fabric in my stash will do now ;-) I have my heart set on the Potent Purple linen from Jo-Ann. I could probably go for Calla Green as an alt. (Yes, I have a 5+ yd piece here, but that's for a dress!)

Third choice is potting soil.

I see a top in my future with this fabric.