Sunday, October 30, 2011

yeah, I knew it would happen too.....

Remember that whole plan in which I wasn’t going to get any more fabric until I’d used to a fair bit of what I had?   Total fail.  Complete, utter, falling over and rolling back and forth on the ground failure.  But I have lovely things (and the self-control of a rabid marmot).   

Anyhow – Mom was up for the day and wanted to go to Jomar and get herself some fabric, and of course, I came along – theoretically just looking for some lining for my coat and the red tulle for the polka-dot dress.   I ended up with both of those, as well as some cotton flannel, a silky something in a purplish-gray, an interesting stretch knit, gray polar fleece and 6 yards of dollar a yard woven something for muslins.   Mom, ended up with a loosely woven rust colored something and a striped brown sheer.    Yeah.... I know... but I do love it so...

Now, having added the sleeves to the interlining, and ironed all the fabric for the lining proper, I needed a break from my coat AND new pajama pants – cue the lovely new flannel.    I took apart an old pair that I had worn until it tore to shreds (I am hard on my clothes) and used it as a pattern.   

As you can see, its only the one piece, which made lining up the plaid rather easy.   There wasn't a chance that the inseam would line up, but I used a trick from Selfish (forever ago, couldn't find the exact post), and cut one side and then flipped it over, matched it exactly, and ended up with perfect alignment.

look very closely
matching plaids!!!!
loving the new pants

I’m rather proud of the waistband, as this was a new technique for me – I’d noticed that the elastic was sewn into the waistband seam, to prevent rolling and whatnot, and while I didn’t get the hem and the elastic all in one seam, as had been done in the original, I did sew it down once it was in the casing.   Anyhow, I am pleased as punch and have been dancing about it them since I finished.   All told, they took around about two hours – a very easy project and a much needed finished garment – both as a hole in my wardrobe and as the satisfaction I get from making something I like.   I need the occasional little project to keep my morale up for the long slogs of the big ones.

spiffy sewn down elastic

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Coat of Many Colors

I liked the pattern pieces so much I decided I needed to share  :)

Also thanks for the well wishes, I’m fine and all is well – and not only that, but the coat is fitting!  There was another muslin, but it was out of a shiny lining fabric and to say it did not photograph well would be an understatement of enormous proportion. 

I can safely say the thinsulate is warm – and not too difficult to work with.   I cropped off the seam allowances and butted the ends together and sewed them up.  However, as the fuzzy side was either going to get caught in the presser foot or the feet dogs, I covered the seams with extra bits and pieces of hem tape (huzzah for hoarding!  It really does come in handy).  As you can probably see, the butted up parts ...drape more cleanly.  I don't think drape is the right word for such a solid material, but look at the right vs. the left.

hem tape seam facings

Sunday, October 23, 2011

In search of my mojo

This was supposed to be Halloween costume day, but my enthusiasm for the project has been dwindling for a while now (I think I chose the wrong concept – it was hilarious for a little while, but no longer thrills me.   I was going to be corny – an ear of corn!  (I love visual puns) so odds are good I will recycle one of my older ones – there are standards to maintain.)   Then a few days ago, my mojo was sapped completely when my doctor decided I needed a CT to check for ‘masses’ in my head, had a funny look on her face and wouldn’t elaborate.   Anyhow, after a little less than 48 hours of controlled terror (personally, I was thinking holy crap, brain tumors) they found lots and lots of mucus.  I am officially a really snotty person.   (After having spent my life cursing mucus, I was never so happy to have so much)   Anyhow, its left me feeling a little less than whimsical, and as the weather has dropped, I got to work on my coat.   The hilarious thing (to me) is that the stage two muslin actually looks better than the stage three – now, having seen it in person, I happen to know a lot of that is due to off grain fabric and wiggly basting, but it is irritating.   After getting it to lay just about perfectly smooth post stage-two, I added and hood and the sleeve, and BAM!  The whole thing is being pulled diagonally up – but I have a plan.   (also -- it will be knee length, but for fitting, I only bothered to the hips)
stage 2 muslin
stage three muslin, with fancy patchy bits (looks worse than it is)

Random fitting remarks:   If you look at the stage-two back, you will see diagonal lines going up my back.   It turns out I have a rounded back (I can’t think of any good hunchback jokes) and inserting a triangles, fat side to my back and pointy side to my armpit did the trick.   The rest of the piece had to be reshaped a little, but it wasn’t a major undertaking.

I also tried to move the narrowest point on the back a little lower to reflect the actual shape of my body, however, that seems to have been lost in some other sizing modifications I made.
Also, as one should always fit a garment wearing the appropriate undergarments, I’ve been doing this while wearing one of my polar fleece jackets – I tried using the dummy, but it turns out a week on a hanger and then a week on the floor without adequate layers of tape has left it forever malformed and misshapen, so fitting continues to be a slow and painful.

The plan of attack is one final muslin out of new, on grain cloth, so I can be sure of its fit, and then I make it out of the real fabric.   Think happy thoughts.

lovely wool - blue on blue

Monday, October 17, 2011


The lap quilt
Whilst cleaning out my sewing closet I came upon a fair number of UFOs (UnFinishedObjects for anyone new to the sewing community)    The first is the oldest and dates the from the summer I worked at G-Street fabrics.  (Fun times - but holy crap it was hard not to go home with EVERYTHING.  We'd get in these shipments, and I'd have to become familiar with them, and there was this whole section of batiks....   ::drools::  I made good use of the employee discount)   Anyhow, I worked in the quilting cottons sections, and saw LOTS of quilts - fancy ones, plain ones, wacked out pretzel and mummy ones** you name it, I saw it.   One day a woman came in with a picture of a quilt and wanted to know how to make it.   It wasn't detailed enough to show the seams, and I didn't know all the patterns off hand, but I know enough geometry and whatnot to figure out how to duplicate it - anyhow it stuck in my head and became a favorite.   (Later that day I found out it is called 'Card Trick')    I ended up making it with four of my favorites - an odd combination perhaps, but I like them.  I'm not so sure about the border - actually I am, I don't like it, I'm not really sure what motivated it, but I'm going to need to take it off and finish it off with something else instead.  (My only other quilt)
when I first started craving red

This dress is actually about 95% percent done - it needs a little bit of work at the hem and the shoulder straps adjusted slightly -- but I just don't like it.  (are we seeing a theme with my UFOs?)  Its one of the other views from Butterick 5350 - but unlike the red polka-dot dress it has it pleats at the top.  In theory I thought this would be cute, but it ended up flattening me out in a awkward way.   I don't think its well suited to the busty set.   Anyhow, its been waiting for attention for well over a year now - but there is hope!  Once I realized how unhappy I was with the bodice I got another yard of the red (from a store in a different state no less) so when I get around to it I can fix it.  But I already have a red dress I prefer, plus this new polka dot one, so there isn't much impetus.

I think the muslin was nicer fabric....
Here we have Butterick 5428 - jacket and lining,  fit and ready - but once again I was not happy.   In this case it was the fabric rather than the pattern - its this odd synthetic that had an interesting sheen on the bolt (and was $1 a yard at Jomar) but when in jacket form it looks like one of those horrible cheap suits that melt when the weather is warm.   For whatever reason I'm currently imagining it looking lovely in a springy wool - somewhat more odd as I rarely allow that particular fiber to touch my skin, least I itch like mad.

There are a number of others, but I think they will wait for another day in the hazy someday.

heh-- I have the exact same expression in both pictures.  Lets call it 'Blue Steel'

**  Not long after I started I made friends with one of the other clerks and she was telling me weird customer stories, and mentioned a lady who came in to make a quilt for a grieving friend.   She chose a green with pretzels and another with golden mummies and some sort of bright blue.   My friend thought it was hilarious - I thought it was even more so, because I knew the lady was my mom and that I had made most of the picks.  (Mom - send me a picture, the world needs to see the glory)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Taming the beast

It all started with some slight warping on the neckline - the hem tape I'd used worked well, but didn't lay quite as flat as I'd like, so I decided to put in a filler section in the neckline (more or less where a camisole would go, but built in) to hold that sucker in place.    There was this particular white fabric that I wanted to use, so I dove into the stash... and dove and dove and dove and wadded and swam and paddled about a bit and couldn't find it anywhere.  However, I did find that I have just about everything else, and that I needed to do one of my semi-annual closet organizations.

Chaos - now tamed and under my iron thumb.
Whilst reclaiming my territory, I decided to snip hanging bits, and to get rid of the little bitty pieces that always manage to get folded into the larger sections of extra fabric when I finish a project.  I ended up with two large plastic bags full of snippets, which I intend to use to stuff the dummy, and several inches of space in one of my giant blue fabric bins.    

I also came upon any number of UFOs, which I'm thinking I will pop into their own post later in the week - but one truly mystified me.   In every other case, even if the project had slipped my mind, I still remembered it when I saw it, until I came across one all cut out, still pinned to the pattern pieces.   Its a navy blue lining fabric, and the pattern a regular sundress pattern I've used any number of times, and my best bet is I was planning on making a fitted slip --- but I have no idea why I would have chosen this particular combination.    Its a very full skirt, and the dresses it would match don't need anything.     And the fact that I can't even remember laying it out makes me wonder if I have been sleep sewing - nothing else explains it.

This whole endevour also made me realize just how much fabric I really have.  Thus, I am putting myself back on a fabric-fast, and the goals are the remaining 5 items from as of Jan 2011 stash-bust-part two and five more from what I've gotten since then.    Since this is totally arbitrary, I am exempting the fabric I need to finish  in progress projects (i.e. the coat, and the red tulle I still need to pick up) but have also decided to count the red polka-dot dress towards my goal.    (I love having a mature stash of awesomeness, but until I get a larger space, I'm going to need to starve the beast for a while.)

and on the subject of that self-same red polka-dot dress, here we have the hem tape facings.  (I ran out of fabric and couldn't do proper ones.)

I sewed it on, folded it over, and used two rows of zig-zagging to hold it in place.   I ended up not going with the white trim everyone liked, as I realized as cute as it was, it wasn't something I'd be comfortable wearing out and about.  The buttons were more me, and as I will almost invariably pair it  with a while cardigan, it will all work out.   The current problem is the back center seam.    From the pictures, it looks like I need to add a bit more ease, but there is quite a bit already, and IRL there appears to be too much.

To ease or not to ease?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

...trying this from my phone

my internet is down, and has been for several days, so i am trying this from my phone.  it seems the blogger to android interface will not accept capitalization or about half the punctuation.   ah well. ..oh, or carriage returns.   interesting.  anyhow, currently finishing up the red and white dress, in the middle of another from the same pattern, but very different choices of fabric and trim, and oddly enough, i ended up with a bit more polar fleece..... they were having a half off sale, and there was turquoise....and dusky blue.... and they were pretty.....    but it turns out i cannot access any camera phone pictures.   go figure. more in the hazy someday when the internet plays nice.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

a dress, a form and a crinoline!

This was actually supposed to be pajama bottoms...  I'd drafted a pattern, washed the fabric, laid it out, and then something about it started shouting CLOWN PANTS!  CLOWN PANTS!  THESE WILL LOOK LIKE CLOWN PANTS.   Its hard to tell from the pictures, but this is red shiny knit with white polka dots, and while I am all about silly, odd and altogether strange, this just wasn't my brand of fun.    So, the fabric and I communed for a while, and it informed me it wanted to be a dress.   A stretchy, almost slinky summer dress that is wildly inappropriate for the weather and unlike anything else in my closet.  The fabric was most pleased. I was a bit skeptical, but I ended up using the bodice from Butterick 5350 and the skirt from New Look 6886.

By itself, the dress seemed a bit plain, so I tried pinning on trim and buttons -- which was cute, but a little ... too cute.  I'm not sure, but I may just go with the buttons.   I also decided I liked it better with a crinoline, but the ones I have are navy (which is far to short, even once I get around the hemming the dress) and the turquoise one.   This particular combination struck me as almost frighteningly patriotic and more than a little costume-y. Now, the sensible choice would be to make a white crinoline, so it would go with everything. but, I have decided I want red!  Will it work with anything else?  No.  But it will be a great big pile of awesome.

This got me to thinking that I very rarely wear the crinolines that I already have... and that if I was going to make a third, I really needed to start incorporating them into my every day life, so I wore the turquoise one to work today.   (For context, I do engineering R&D, and most of my colleges are in jeans and tshirts, but at this point they are used to me showing up in flowy sundresses, so no one said a thing.)   I felt a little costume-y, but I usually do in this dress, so its hard to make a real judgment on how much of that was due to the fluff.  

Random note: I can take credit for the dress, the crinoline (of course)  and the belt.   Huzzah for me!

As requested, I give you the dress form of DOOM.   It still needs to be reinforced, cropped, stuffed, covered, etc and so forth...  However, I haven't been able to face it quite yet.   Not sure how deformed it is from a couple of days on a hanger, but we're going to think happy thoughts.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dressform PSA - Or Perilous Adventures with Masking Tape

First off, yes Mom, I'm fine.   No one was actually damaged in the making of this dummy.    

Mildly graphic. You have been warned.

Anyhow, as you may know if you've been reading my rambles for a while now, my current dressform is a bit hunched.   Mom and I made it almost a year ago, using Connie Crawford's technique, and it came out well, but as I wasn't standing quite straight enough, its not actually very useful.    Since my cousin was visiting this weekend, I decided to rope her into helping me do a new one, in which I would stand up very straight, and get a more useful result.   Skipping to the chase, it seems that standing around in a plastic bag, while wrapped in many layers of tape may have resulted in heat exhaustion**.  (Seriously Mom, I'm fine.)   For most of the process I was my usual I-hate-staying-still-or-being-constrained-in-any-way grouchy and a little uncomfortable, but nothing too bad, until all of a sudden I was *not* happy.   We're talking had to cling to a doorjamb to stay vertical not happy.   Despite this, I was determined to get the damn thing finished, and probably not at my best, because I still made my cousin put hatch marks on the form so I could match it back up after she cut me out.   At this point, I'm getting pretty bad (its been maybe a minute and a half) and as she starts cutting me out, I started dry heaving, and yet, somehow, not only did she not cut me, she didn't cut my undies.   What can I say, she is marvelous.    (TMI? probably, but I was impressed by her skills under pressure.)

Anyhow, the point of all this, is, while I would recommend the general technique of wrapping your body in tape to get a dummy, DO NOT USE PLASTIC, get fabric or a lightweight nightgown.  If you do it properly, you're wrapped up for about an hour, and it really can get very uncomfortable.

 **A quick webMD search confirms I had all the right symptoms.  But then,  webMD is marvelous in that you can more or less diagnose yourself with anything.   My friend's sister has been banned from using the site by her doctor.  

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A new home for a purple friend

Alumni!  (purple, 3rd from the left)
About a year ago, well before I started this blog, I decided to try making simplicity 0494 to test out my new serger, and generally practice working with knits.    I'd decided it would be just the thing for an a cappella reunion I was going to later in the month, and whipped it up.    At the time I was so pleased I'd managed to make a knit dress, that I just went with it, but as you can see (probably can't, since its a group pictures) the lines just didn't quite work on me.   I think the pattern was intended for someone a bit shorter, after all, they usually are, as the stomach part hit me just above mine, rather than over it.  The hips were also just slightly off, etc. and so forth, and I ended up not liking it enough to try to do something with it.

Since then, it has hung forlorn and alone in my closet, watching the other dresses get worn and be otherwise and all together loved, until this weekend.   My cousin, who is slightly shorter, but more or less the same size, came to visit, and BAM the dress had a new home.    I got her to try it on, and she loved it (and proved it by wearing it out to dinner).    In the course off all of this, I was showing her the other things I'd made, and she started hinting at a polar fleece jacket, but I quashed that one.  They take too long and I am polar fleeced out.   I'm currently trying to badger her into learning to sew- but then I do that more or less indiscriminately with everyone I meet.   I am a sewing evangelist.

  I'm now thinking about what other random stuff I've made and don't wear that I might try to send her home with.   hrmmm...

Friday, October 7, 2011

And lo! There was a white jacket!

 Holy crap - this took WAAAAAYYYYYY too long.  However, after forcing myself to finish the cuffs last night, I got to wear it today, and am most pleased with the result.  Lovely and warm, but with a mildly distressing habit of picking up fuzz.  (It doesn't help that I have two dark furred cats)  Anyhow, I've decided it looks very elegant, so we're just going to go with that.

Unrelated, almost on topic - the jeans are me-made too.   As my wardrobe slowly converts, mostly me-made outfits are happening more and more often. I look forward to the day when I can take off my glasses and claim everything else I am wearing.  Have I mentioned my secret desire to learn to cobble?   I looked up classes, but they were either in the thousands, on the west coast, or otherwise not workable.    However, someday, someday I am going to make my own shoes, and they will be both flat and reheelable, so I don't wear them out in two months. (I walk funny - not noticeably so, but you can see it if you compare my shoes to a regular person's. )  I also want knee-high brown leather boots with a round toe, a kitten heel with a slightly fluted bottom, a button closure up the side.   No zipper allowed.   I've yet to see such a thing for sale - there have been similar options, but once again, very very expensive...    So, I shall learn to cobble.  (because, obviously, taking up a new hobby, with all its tools and materials makes more sense than buying the damn things and having them now, rather than many years hence.   Do not apply logic.  Apply the joy of taking off my glasses and taking credit for *everything* because lets face it, optometry might be a bit beyond what I can pull off in my living room.)
the right side (on me) tends to fall on both jackets - most interesting.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A quick succession of busy nothings

Despite having almost nothing to show for it, I've actually gotten a fair bit done.    I'm 6 seams from finishing the white jacket.  I've drafted a PJ pants pattern for the red and white polka dot knit.   I've done the initial muslin for my winter coat. (No, I'm not showing you pictures, I'm not happy with it right now.)

 I took advantage of a pattern sale and got these three: V1254, V1174 and V1121, and while in Atlanta visiting family, went to two rather amazing fabric stores.    The first, Intown Quilters, has the most amazing selection of batiks I have ever seen, thus I inevitably end up there.  (They also have the more usual quilting cottons, and a splendid selection, but lets face it, I loves me some batiky goodness.)   The second, Gail K's is could best be described as a cave of wonders.  Its is packed to the gills with fabrics of every sort - as in stacked, bolt on bolt so that all you can see is the tips, and you need a step ladder to see half the store.   There are little dead end nooks filled with seersuckers or lyrcas, vast arches of wool, piles of laces and silks and rayons and that weird stretchy cut-out fabric in neon orange that seems to lurk in the depths of all wacky fabric stores with extensive stock.    I didn't get any pictures, as I had no idea what I was in for and had not prepared (Mom found it and insisted I come along) but here are some other people's photos  and they really don't do it justice.
blue/purple mushy batik (Intown) and burnt orange eyelet (Gail K)
Anyhow, things are a bit slow going as I'm not really excited about any of the current projects and want to start making the Cynthia Steffe dress (V1174) out of the black and white polka dots, but am restraining myself until I finish the white jacket.   The fact that it would make more sense to do my halloween costume or my coat afterwards does not seem to play into the baser yearnings of my inner self.
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