Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pattern Envy

It's been a sec since I waxed poetic about patterns, partly because I'm really trying to limit my pattern purchases. I'm out of storage space -- at least until I sew through an entire bin of fabric! However, there are some recent releases that have me excited.

Starting with Simplicity.  I love maxi dresses. The back of this one is so sexy.


Butterick best bets
5872 -- lined!



5894 -- at last!! Although, I;m confused about why this wasn't issued as a McCall Plenty by Tracey Reece pattern.

Moving on to McCall
6760 -- Damn!


6473 -- hello summer!



6750 -- with all these darts, fitting should be easier!

Vibing with Vogue!!!

8902 -- Custom Fit!

8895 -- Custom Fit!




Saturday, April 27, 2013

Nia's Back & The Great British Sewing Bee Finale

I picked Nia up Wednesday night! Thank goodness her illness was mild. She has a new presser foot lifter stop motor. I think. She also got a complete tune up and she's purring. I don't think the machine was this quiet when purchased!

While I'm on the subject of sewing machines: I want Nia to have a sister! I'd been thinking that just maybe a new sewing machine would be here for Christmas. I had my heart set on the Pfaff Creative Performance.  It has all of the sewing features I'd love to have now like LED lighting, throat plate markings on the left side too, color screen, an easier-to-understand-Stitch Creator, adjustable presser foot pressure and automatic thread snips (every time I watch Nancy Zieman's machine do that, my eyes get misty.)  Then there's the optional embroidery unit, which I planned to grow into. I liked the option of upgrading my machine without buying a new machine.


Now I see that the Performance 5.0 will debut in May.

It seems to be a jazzier version of Nia.  I'd get more stitches, including Pfaff's Maxi stitches, a color screen, LED lighting, the new Stitch Creator and the automatic thread snips. I wouldn't get adjustable presser foot pressure or the embroidery option. Hmmmmm.

Now, on to the Great British Sewing Bee. Isn't Ann simply awesome and so gracious? If the competition was about technical excellence, she certainly has it! Ann's style is classic and she nailed every detail. To be so calm under pressure is wonderful!

This is actually where I struggled a bit with the show -- criteria (and I'm not sure my conflict can be resolved.) Should a home sewer be able to do anything and everything? Is the best home sewer, or the best anything, someone who has professional talent, but chose another career? (Perhaps this is an obvious yes.) Where were the sewers who could push the envelope creatively but also had very strong technical skills?  Do you need equal parts of both as a home sewer?  Does more artistic creativity lead you more to fashion design and does that lead to a show more like Project Runway? Is fitting another person really a fair thing to judge? Couldn't the best home sewer be someone who has only fitted herself or himself? I guess there is no reward if you are selfish with your sewing skills, except a closet full of beautiful things for you. (I may be channelling the Selfish Seamstress.)

Maybe my questions will be answered. Yes, there will be a second season!

I've learned two things from the Great British Sewing Bee. First, there is a place for my nerdy OCD tendencies in sewing. Ann won based on her vast wealth of knowledge and her commitment to doing things right. Lastly, I should be able to complete projects faster. My skills aren't close to anyone's on the show, but -- with prepped fabric, I should be able to complete a simple muslin in a week.

Which brings me to my last subject of the day. Spring has made a fleeting appearance in Chicago. Nia is back home and the Great British Sewing Bee has been on my mind. You know where this is going. I want to whip up (and I use that phrase loosely) a top.

This is B5480. My favorite knit top looks just like View A on the left. I would like to try my hand at a woven version.


Here's the Jo-Ann Red Tag fabric I allowed myself to buy. (In celebration of Nia's return). It's a printed linen cotton blend. I'm prepping the fabric based on Carolyn's post.

I didn't do such a great job at stopping the fraying during the first wash, so I have to use an overlock stitch before the second wash.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

I Love the Bee Too!

How awesome is the Great British Sewing Bee??!!! Talk about inspiring. I did extra cardio at the gym watching episode three on YouTube.

Image for Episode 3There has been a lot of commentary about the show. Carolyn has done a great job of capturing everything in one place. I don't have anything deep to add that hasn't already been said. I simply love the show. It just makes me want to sew!  I have no sewing machine at the moment, but I digress.

I will take a moment to say that the nerd in me is especially partial to the history lessons, like the birth of the home sewing pattern. The animated diagrams are wonderful. Now I know how a rouleau loop is made.

I think the semi-final challenges were the best so far. I love the thought that went into making the challenges progressively harder. Although, I do think the trouser one could have been done a little better; the contestants needed more time.  Perhaps the same amount of time given in the jacket contest.

I don't have a favorite contestant. I cheer for them all. A couple of them work my nerves from time to time :-) Why is EVERYTHING a crisis, Lauren? Sandra, I wish you could channel your practicality to get through the basics faster so that you had time for a spectacular surprise on each garment. (She finally got there with the bag in episode 4.)

As most of the sewing blogosphere, I'm wondering if we will get a U.S. version. Will there be additional seasons in the U.K version? What if other countries got in on it and there was a best-in-the-world sewing bee? I'm getting ahead of myself.

I wonder if it will be as polite in other countries. These British Sewing Bee folks sit and sip tea with each other! One of the things I don't like about Project Runway (and reality TV in general) is how mean, snide and rude people can be to each other all in the name of winning. Brits win and lose gracefully!

Lastly, I love the host and judges! I read some nasty comments about Claudia. I think she's great. She doesn't sew so, she finds a way to translate the happenings in a relate-able way. And she's learning more as she goes along. The technical expertise of Mary and Patrick is amazing. It's so comforting to *meet* new professionals who take sewing seriously. (Also, there's also no secret about my love for James Bond and Patrick and his suits just take me there.) 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Nia is Sick

Where to start? How about the Pavlova top?  I hit the sewing room bright and early Easter morning to finish my top for church. Just needed to do some hemming.  Nia greeted me with this.

Arrgggh! A blank screen of death and she wouldn't start. I couldn't do ANYTHING. She worked fine on Saturday! I had no backup option!

I had decided not to use Steam-A-Seam on the hem, so the last thing I did on Saturday was press and pin the hem for for final stitching. Once desperation set in Sunday morning, I unpinned and broke out the Steam-A-Seam. Those ties go past the floor! Here's where I ended up.

I spent the entire service worrying about the top was going to come apart. Live and learn.

Nia is at the doctor right now. The initial prognosis wasn't good (I sent the repair guy the video.) I hope the treatment will be  manageable.

I like my Pavlova top. The color is perfect! It matches two cotton prints I had in mind for skirts. Alas, this first top is a muslin. This fabric is 4.8 oz rayon-spandex from Spandex World. I'm looking to double that. I think I'll try a size smaller too.