Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Rainy & Gloomy

This early morning moment was the best weather we've had in several weeks. I took this pic of a snow-capped Mauna Kea from our upstairs deck a few days before Christmas, at about 7AM before the clouds moved in. I think it's rained every day since then: over 22" of the stuff just since Christmas day here in Hilo. There's a lot more snow up there by now, but we haven't caught even a hint of a glimpse of it.

After so many years on the dry side of Maui, where average annual rainfall was something like 9", I still getting a kick out of wet weather. And of course all this rain is what makes our local waterfalls and gardens so lush and lovely. The downside, though, is the clouds have been so constant and thick that it's gloomy and dark both inside and out. I've actually managed to finish a few UFOs this week, but haven't been able to get a decent photo of any of them, even with a flash.

Hubby and I are off to Waikoloa tomorrow (dry side of the big island, where the beaches and sun are) for a long New Year's weekend. Lots more sewing to be done when we get back, although my time for it will be limited: even more non-sewing projects lined up and awaiting attention.

Whenever the weather lightens up, as it's sure to do eventually, I'll post some updates on the completed garments.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Broke the Embargo

I broke the fabric embargo this morning. Multiple excuses for giving in to temptation:

1) This great deal ends 12/29 at midnight EST. Why until Jan. 1 and miss out?

2) It will probably be 2009 before I pick up my parcel from our PO box, and it will be '09 before I pay the AmEx bill. Kindof fudging the "no more fabric purchases until 2009" thing, but close, so close!

3) Wanted to get the discount on this fabric to feature in Mum's next b'day gift (she turns 75 in Sept. '09 and will want me to make her something). Once it arrives I'll shop locally for coordinating prints and solids.

4) Bought a yard of this pink/white print to go with two I already have for a six-panel skirt pattern I plan to make with mixed prints. I can almost claim that fits the "fabric needed to finish a UFO" exception. Except that I haven't started it yet, so it's a UFO only in my mind.

5) Can't really justify this Xmas print, but it was on sale and I am thinking ahead to next year. Would like to make either a tree skirt or Xmas placemats/napkins; have a few FQs in the stash but needed a main fabric. If I wait 'til next year's holiday season it will be too late to buy fabric, because I'm just too slow at getting sewing projects done.

Also added to the order enough of this truly stunning Kaffe Fasset cotton to make a blouse.

Received a 5" sq. of it in the KF charm pack I bought pre-embargo, have been drooling ever since at the thought of making something to wear from it. No excuse, other than to get the discount. I'm already working on a "wearable muslin" of a blouse pattern which, if it turns out well, the new fabric will be perfect for.

On the plus side, I first went nuts and loaded up the shopping cart with at least twice as much stuff, then got strict and deleted a lot of it. Sneaky way to indulge and feel restrained at the same time.

Don't wanna sound humbuggy, but it's serioulsy time to BAN SANTA from this house! She's been WAY too self-indulgent this year. As usual.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My New Sewing Machine!

I am now the ecstatic owner of a BabyLock Decorator's Choice: list quoted as $1299, I paid $699 plus got free servicing on my old machine which desperately needs attention (probably a $100 value right there). And a fab service plan for the new one at a very good price, too. Thanks, Discount Fabric Warehouse (Hilo store).

If I'd had a bit more in the budget, I would have come home with the Quilter's Choice model, but the only added feature I really felt I valued was the automatic thread tension (I can get a 1/4" foot separately), and that didn't seem worth the $300 it would have cost to upgrade. I'm accomplished at many things, surely mastering thread tension can become one of them.

Learning curve for this machine is a bit steep for me, as this is my first computerized machine, but am going through the manual step-by-step and so far so good. Biggest challenge is resisting the tempation to just "wing it" and see if I can figure it out, but I'm taking it slowly and "by the book" for once. So far have wound a bobbin (lovely, smooth, evenly done), threaded the machine, and played around with the stitching options on scrap fabric. Am tickled pink with the automatic needle threader, drop-in bobbin, and handy-dandy thread-cutting button. So easy! Mastering the control panel is going to take a while, but I'm ready to tackle basic sewing.

First up, buttonholes on two UFOs. Second up, get that new battery into my camera so I can take some pictures of stuff I promised I'd post last month.

I was going to post a list of the UFOs I want to get done by the end of the year, but am beginning to suspect (given that it's already 12/10 and I've done so little sewing lately) that I should aim low and avoid Jan. 1 confessions of failure on the UFO front. So, no public list, but I'll post things as they're done.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Still Here

Yeah, uh, I did kindof fall off the face of the earth for a while there. Reason for that here. Got as far as getting a new camera battery, but haven't even installed it yet. Might get around to some photos, and possibly even some sewing this weekend.

Post-project-deadline meltdown ate a lot of this past week, but in between monster catch-up tasks on mundane stuff like balancing checkbooks and paying bills and doing laundry I've started researching sewing machines. The deal (with self) was that if I finish a draft of the novel before 12/31/08, I get to buy myself a new sewing machine.

I'm leaning heavily toward a Babylock Decorator's Choice, at least partly because it's a brand I can get locally, also because it has the features I'm looking for and appears to deliver great value for price. Not that I know yet what kind of a price I'll be able to get here, but current deal with self is as soon as Christmas cards and packages are all in the mail I can go machine shopping.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Give-away + Simplicity 2957 & 2962

One of the sewing/crafts blogs I follow has a wonderful give-away going on, to celebrate 100 posts (I'll get to 100 eventually). Details here.


I've finished Simplicity 2957 (will add garment photo as soon as I have one; discovered my camera battery is dead, thought I had a backup, then remembered that's the one in the camera).

I made a "muslin" made from quilting stash fabrics, to see if this is something I'd like to make from "nicer" fabric, and no, I don't think so. It will work as an around-the-house dress, but I don't love it. Not out of cotton, anyway.

The little Asian-inspired shoulder flange thingies on View B look so cute on the pattern envelope, but a little odd in real life. And the whole thing is a little too voluminous. But it's comfortable, and fits better than expected, so I'm may try with more modifications and a knit fabric. I've already lengthened the torso 2" so the midriff would be in the waist area, not riding up on my tits, and made the whole thing shorter (it was not a good length), and changed the center-skirt gathers (whose idea was that? how unflattering to anyone with a tummy!) to pleats toward the side. I would have added a contrast band at the bottom, too, but didn't have enough of my contrast fabric to do that. If there's a next time, I'll make the V-neck bands a little narrower, they're kind of clunky.

Instead of the tie-in-back sashes, which I also didn't have enough fabric for, I made a wide band that's attached in the left side seam and wraps around to the right, where it will button just in front of the side seam. Still haven't found the button-hole guide for my sewing machine, but this is a "muslin" so I'm okay with making sloppy freehand ones. And I think fabric buttons would be cute, from the main fabric. So, yes, technically this is still a UFO, until the buttonholes and buttons are done.

There are things I still like about this dress, though. I might make View A (with the short sleeves) someday from a jersey. However, that requires that I first:
A) purchase some knit fabric (after the fabric embargo ends), and
B) learn how to sew knits
So, probably not something I'll do right away.

Next project: Simplicity 2962.

From stash fabric, of course, and I plan to do a contrast yoke. I want to use what I've got left of the goofy Kaffe Fasset I used to line the Taxi Tote. And maybe the yellow Amy Butler "martini" bubbles, too. It may come out looking like a nightgown, but that will be okay. I'm still in need of loose and comfy garments to wear around the house on steamy days.

I think I'll make the smock length (View A), but without the frilly sleeves. Those are soooooo not my style. I might add a contrast band at the bottom and lengthen it to mini-dress length. When I bought this pattern I thought the gathered pockets were ick, but now I think they're cute.
Is this one going to be way oversized, too? I might try making a size smaller than usual. First up, let's see if anyone has reviewed it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pattern Frenzy

OMG, I'm supposed to be saving up for a new sewing machine and I just LOST IT (self-control, that is) at this etsy shop.
I've ordered five (yes, five) Japanese dress pattern books. And that's just what I found on the first two pages of the shop. I'm especially eager to explore "Chinese Style" because I'm loving this:

I got the last one in stock of three of these books, which is how I rationalized part of the purchase. With shipping, it's way more of a splurge than I can justify unless these are Christmas gifts to myself. Every year I swear I'm not gonna do that again and, oops, here I go and it's not even December yet. Then again, last year's Santa gifts included a ton of fabric that's still in the stash pile. Surely it's time I made something from it? With these new pattern books maybe that will happen. Except for this wrinkle:

As best I can tell (sizes are in centimeters), even the size large in these books is going to be a size too small for me (I'm a 10 off the rack, which I guess is gargantuan in Japan). Plus I'm 5'8" and even American patterns need some length adjustments on me. I'm either going to spend a huge amount of time/effort redrafting these to fit, or will have to settle for browsing/inspiration only.

I should know the size thing was going to be a problem: one reason I've given up clothes shopping in Hilo is that so much of what's available is sized for the petite/scrawny Asian ladies who outnumber (tall, well-fed) caucasians here. Even our local Macy's has a huge petites section, more muumuus for both the slim and the oversized than you would believe, and not much for me.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Refashion #1

I've been toying with the idea of committing to a wardrobe refashion period, and have just taken the plunge with a 6 month signup. Not an official member yet (awaiting reply, verification), but am ready to go. I considered starting with a 2 month trial, but that felt wimpy.

Six months is the real challenge, because it will take me through a 5-day writing conference in early March for which I wish to be nicely dressed without purchasing anything new. I have in mind a few things I'd like to make by then. I'll be doing more stash-fabric projects than refashioning (I have yet to be bitten by the thrifting bug), but have a few dodos in the closet that could use reinvention.

UPDATE: Just heard back that Wardrobe Refashion signups are closed until January, and I should get back in touch after Dec. 15th. Sheesh, if you're going to put limits on participating, shouldn't that information be CLEARLY posted somewhere on the website and "rules" and signup pages? And although she already now has all my info, I'm supposed to mark my calendar and do it all again? Nuh uh. Don't think so. I'll go ahead and pursue this challenge on my own, but I'm not gonna bother joining a group that doesn't make it easy to participate.

Refashion #1 happened last night. I love these Blue Ginger rayon dresses, so soft and comfy and perfect for the climate in Hawaii. I have worn out (literally, to shreds) several of them. This is the only one left that's in okay condition (i.e., not completely worn out). Another crappy photo. Don't know why I'm having so much trouble snapping in focus these days. And horrible lighting, color is way off.

The problem is this dress started out short and after several years of washings is now even shorter: barely 33" from shoulder seam to hem, and that includes the teeny ruffle at the bottom. On someone petite, or 18, not a problem, but I'm 50 and 5'8" and even though my legs are good for my age, this dress is way, way too short.

So I cut it off just below the bust darts, ripped out the zipper (to be used another day), stitched up the zip seam, folded down the cut edge to make a casing (didn't bother to measure or press or pin anything), threaded with 3/8" elastic, and voila, a cute skirt that's a little above the knee: more flattering on me and considerably more age-appropriate. I can wear it in public (if I iron it)!

Total project time: under 45 minutes.Now I'm looking at what's left of the dress and thinking it could be a yoke for a smock-type something. Wonder what I've got that could go with it...

Taxi Tote Done

It's done, and turned out fairly well, although not absolutely fantastic. At the last minute, I decided to use a third fabric for the bias trim: Amy Butler martini bubbles in yellow/pink. It picks up the little bits of pink in the exterior fabric, and the bits of yellow in the lining very nicely, so I'm happy with that decision.
Sewing the bias binding in place by machine in one pass was adequate, but not great. Partly I think because I was working with more and thicker layers. It looks okay, but I wasn't sure I'd be thrilled with the exposed stitching, and yeah, I'm not loving it. On the other hand, I don't dislike it enough to rip it all out and do over the other way (see #2, below).

What I'll do differently next time (if there is one):
1) Make the strap a bit longer; I'm on the tall side, wish it hung just an inch or two lower
2) Use a quilt-style binding: i.e., fold bias tape WST, align raw edge on top, stitch in place by machine, then turn fold to inside and slip-stitch by hand to finish.

I'm sticking with my rule that I have to finish one UFO before I can start a new project. Next up: the "muslin" for Simplicity 2957 is close to done, and looking pretty good at this stage. Whether I will like it enough to wear enough to be worth making from nicer fabric remains to be seen. Which is the whole point of making it from quilt-fabric stash first.

When I finish that I want to make something with sleeves (cooler weather is here, at least on overcast days) from some of the cotton lawn in my stash. I set some (non-sewing) tasks aside, though, to get the tote done, so don't know that I'll get back to sewing for a few days.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Taxi Tote: Plan B

I couldn't leave it alone. I really wanted to get to work on this bag (and yes, that's partly due to the urge to procrastinate on some other stuff on my to do list), and didn't want to wait until I have a new sewing machine (could be months, or longer) to do it.

So, Plan B:

First, I cut the pocket from the curved between-the-strap pieces left over from cutting the body because they are a nice shape and why not use up those scraps. I used two pocket pieces and stitched around sides/bottom RST, turned and pressed, then added a teeny pleat in the center top, and trimmed the top edge with a bias strip to match bag lining:

Then I assembled the outside (underlined with flannel) and lining bags. Here they are, ready to go, including a button loop on the lining:
At this point I left and did some grocery shopping, thinking I was done with this for the day.

Still couldn't leave it alone, so got back to work on it after errands. Next up was the tricky bit. I needed to make a third "body" from the too-stiff-too-heavy interfacing I planned to use. I'd cut it to size, but decided to trim the seam allowance off to minimize bulk.

I cut another piece of even stiffer interfacing to fit the bottom of the bag, and slip-stitched it in place to the SA on the ends. (Here it is, before stitching down. Above it is one side of the bag body interfacing; the bottom, instead of being seamed, will slip below the heavy interfacing piece. Had another pic that showed that better, but it was unusably out of focus).

I used the triple-zig-zag stitch to sew the sides of the interfacing together, just abutting, so no overlap or seam allowance. That photo didn't come out either; I seem to be an even worse photographer than usual today, sorry about that.

At this point I've got: exterior bag, lining bag, interfacing bag. After a tremendous amount of fiddling (the flannel-interfacing combo was ultra non-stick, didn't make it easy), pinning, and a few curses, I got the lining bag inserted into the exterior and pinned in place.
So far so good, and hey, it's got "standup-ability":

Then, more fiddling, adjusting, fussing, and pinning, and the lining is in there, too:
Now I just need to trim all those layers around the body-strap edges so they're even, and sew bias trim around the openings to finish it off (and hold it all together).

I suspect the bias trim might be a bit tricky, too (am still having doubts about my machine's willingness to handle all those layers) plus I haven't cut the bias strips yet. This time I really am done for the day.

Wish me luck with the finishing bit.
Hope to get to that tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

AMH Taxi Tote

I've cut all the pieces to make this pretty tote from Anna Maria Horner's new book.

It feels disloyal to use Amy Butler and Kaffe Fassett fabric for the first project I'm making from this book, but I'm in "use the stash" mode.

The AB brown (outside) is from a one-yard piece I've had for a while, waiting for the perfect project to come along, and here it is. And the pink KF (lining, trim) is something I bought with coordinating trims/lining/etc. in mind.

The problem is that the pattern calls for "heavy interfacing" and what I've got (sticking with the stash challenge) is very stiff. So I decided a layer of flannel between the outside fabric and the stiff interfacing would be nice.

And I can tell already that it will be. But I can also tell that without a walking foot, stitching it all together is going to be asking for trouble. I want this bag to turn out great, not all wrinkly and slipshod. So now it's on hold. Because I don't have a walking foot for my machine and--since getting a new machine is a huge priority--don't want to invest in one.

So, another project hits the UFO pile. Probably. I'm going to stitch up a test from scraps later (I've already spent more time on this than I should this morning) and see how it goes. But I know my machine and I'll be amazed if it handles this well.

Too bad. Is this button cute or what?

Will keep you posted. I can at least get the pocket made, the bias strips for trim cut. And now I have another incentive for meeting my end-of-year novelling goal, which is what I'm telling myself I have to do if I'm going to earn a new/better sewing machine.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cute Fabric Baskets

Ooooh, I wanna make some of these, too:

Found the tutorial here.

Best part (aside from handmade gift potential): I already have a bunch of batik 4-patch from 2" squares ready to go. Original plan was to make some pincushions, but the first one was a bit of a dud (tip: squares of soft foam do not work as well for stuffing a pincushion as I'd hoped), so now I think I'll make a few of these. One of these days.

UFO update:
Finished Butterick 5210.
No pics yet, but will post soon-ish.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Box Bag temptation

I think I need to make at least one of these.
When I have a few minutes to sew.
And when I've completed a few UFOs.
Repeat after me:
"I will finish AT LEAST ONE UFO before starting any new projects!"

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Neglected Projects

I haven't vanished, just not much sewing going on around here lately. Had a fabulous time playing with my sisters, who came to visit for my 50th b'day in late October, followed by catching up on all the stuff I'd neglected for a week.

Focus at the moment is on trying to finish and polish up a submittable draft of my novel by the end of the year. My reward for meeting that deadline will be a new sewing machine, and that's a BIG incentive!

Also unfinished: multiple sewing projects languishing in neglect in various closets around the house. Hope to find an hour here and there to attend to at least one something this month. Considered making a projects list of what I'd like to get done by the end of the year, but decided I had too many UFOs and way, way, way too little time for that to be inspirational.

Have, so far, upheld the fabric embargo, although I do find myself thinking "patterns aren't fabric," "notions aren't fabric," and thoughts along those lines. Not having time to sew helps. I'm sure the eight weeks remaining in the year will go quickly, and then I'll be able to reward my restraint with a fabric binge.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Procrastination = Progress (?!)

All my free time this week has gone into two monster UFOs:

1) The first draft of what I am starting to think of as "the never-ending novel," blogged here.

2) Completing the ZigZag quilt before house guests arrive next weekend because it's cool at night and the house is one blanket short for the number of beds that will be slept in. I'm using a flannel sheet as batting, machine quilting in a random meander that roughly follows the implied grid of the zigzag. That description will make sense when I post photos, which I will do when it's done.

This means I've done nothing toward troubleshooting Butterick 5210. It's been hanging in my dressing room (where I will see it daily and therefore, one hopes, not forget about it for months), and whaddayaknow... the fabric has relaxed a bit and now the pooching isn't so bad. Still there, but now the side silhouette is only slightly distressing, not downright horrifying.

It appears I should be blaming my fabric afterall (I checked the envelope and it says "lightweight broadcloth" which I misinterpretted as "lightweight cottons" in general). I suspect that there's just enough traces of wax in the batik fibers to keep the weave from relaxing sufficiently to resolve the pooching problem. Oh well. I'm going to go ahead and finish it. When I have time. That may not be for a while.

But this gives me hope for trying again with a looser fabric. Like all that leftover home dec I've been highlighting recently. Not as "lightweight" as the batik, but a loose weave that should relax very nicely.

Oh, wait. If I use that fabric, I'll want to underline it. I wonder if that will cause problems, too?

Only one way to find out.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Batik Buttons

Aren't they cute?
I made these buttons (5/8") last night in about 30 seconds from some batik scraps, so I could include a little handmade something in a swap. The photograph isn't great, but the buttons are so adorable I want to keep them for myself.
Fortunately I have lots more batik scraps and button forms are easy to get... I see more fabric-covered buttons in my future for sure.
Now, if I could just master the macro and flash functions on my camera (flash controls are particularly aggravating and heedless of my commands).

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

It's Done! (Guest Room Coverlet Part III)

Hand sewing the backside of the binding to the back of the coverlet took 4-1/2 days of TV time (good thing it’s baseball playoff season, lots of hours on the couch with needle in hand), but it is finally done.

Hey, look at that, it’s GORGEOUS!!

You’re seeing the coverlet draped over my bed, ‘cause the guest room’s not fit for photography at the moment. (I’m reorganizing the closet in there as a preliminary step to next weekend’s pre-guest-arrival cleanup marathon, and there’s stuff piled all over.)

I think the lime-pink candy stripe binding looks fabulous, now that it’s done:

It will look even better when I get around to pressing it, but I'll do that the day before guests arrived, as this will be folded up on a shelf until the guest room is tidy.

The pieced seams, while not a perfect match (see this post for what caused that), are good enough for a quickie guest room project:

But man, handsewing the inside edge of the binding was a monster chore. Hope to avoid having to do that again.

I’ll post a pic of how it looks in the guest room just as soon as I’ve tidied up a bit and made up the bed in there.

If I ever come up with a work-around for Butterick 5120, I’ll be tempted to make it out of this lovely ivory/tropical fabric. I still have lots left, and maybe just enough of the pink solid for a yoke and trim. And if that works, I might even have enough black pieces left to make a black one with green trim…

But I’m not starting any new projects right away. Must finish some more of the stuff from the UFO pile first.

Like the Zig-Zag quilt I hope to finish for my other guest who may need another blanket. (Sure would be nice to get that UFO done!) If I'm gonna tackle it, it will be with another flannel sheet as batting (I bought an extra one), and straight-line machine quilting of some kind: whatever I can get to work on this machine without investing in either a "darning" or "walking" foot.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Candy-Stripe Binding (Guest Room Coverlet Part II)

To go with my “holiday” fabrics, I also have some rayon solids in lime green, tomato red, and hot pink. Tomato red I used with the black for the Pleated Beauty handbag. Decided to stick with the green and pink to make a striped binding for the Guest Room Coverlet.

First step, sew lots of 3.5” strips together, alternating colors. A little tedious, but easy.

Here they are pressed. At this point, I’m starting to wonder if I’ve wandered too deeply into “garish” territory. I tell myself it will look different when it’s all done and applied.

Next up, cut into bias strips.

Yikes, not sure that’s an improvement!
But I’ve set out on this path and am sticking to it.

Which maybe wasn’t the best plan, because I discovered, when I went to sew the strips to the coverlet edge, that I’d cut them too narrow for machine sewing both sides.

Crap. That means I’m going to have to hand sew the second edge to the back. Roughly 80” wide x 90” long = way more linear inches of slip-stitch than I’d have chosen to do if I hadn’t messed up.

Reminder to self: next time you are cutting binding strips, look up how wide they should be in a book or something by someone who knows what they’re doing! Clearly calculating it in my head is a mistake. Hopefully not one I will repeat soon, but frankly am not going to hold my breath on that. Repeat idiot-moments could happen.

Stay tuned to see how it turns out.

Guest Room Coverlet, Part I

You know that gorgeous bright tropical floral (I think it's Kaufmann “Holiday,” but may be misrembering) in black that I’ve posted a few pics of here and here?

Well, at the same time I got the black (I made a slipcover for the guest room day bed, for when it’s folded up into a couch, plus some pillows -- pics still to come, ‘cause the daybed’s been unfolded all summer, only room in the house that’s cool enough for napping) I also got a huge piece of the ivory colorway, intended to make some curtains. Here is some of it, draped over my ironing board:

Then I discovered that drapery rods were going to be an issue with the windows in this rental house, so I put the fabric away for when we have a house of our own, or, as happened, when I decided to do something else with it.

As I’ve mentioned before, both my sisters are coming to visit in a couple of weeks, to help celebrate/commiserate my 50th birthday. And although we have places for them to sleep, and plenty of sheets, towels, pillows, it’s a little chilly in the wee hours here in late October, and I could use another blanket layer for each of them.

Easy out would have been to buy a couple of cheap blankets at Walmart. Instead, I decided to use the white fabric to make a coverlet for the guestroom bed, backed with a white flannel sheet. I got a good one, from Land’s End. Sheet alone cost twice what I would have spent on a Walmart blanket, but it’s soooo lusciously soft and a good weight for Hawaii.

First challenge is to piece the fabric. It’s 54” wide, and I plan to add a 14" strip to each side.
Being home dec fabric, it's designed so that it can be matched at the sides to make wider panels.

If you look closely, though, you’ll see a problem. There should be some white showing on both edges, on the selvage. Hmmm, this piece is printed a little off-center, so the pattern is running off the selvage edge on one side:

And I've discovered the problem gets progressively worse toward one end. This is going to make an exact lineup on the seams impossible.

Gee, I wonder if that’s why this length of fabric was so irresistibly cheap?

Oh well, too late now. It will look nice anyway. And it’s not like Martha Stewart is going to show up and inspect it.

Here’s how it looks pieced and trimmed to roughly 80"x90”, laid out over the flannel for pinning:

I’ve decided to use some of my leftover rayon imitation-linen coordinating solids to make the binding for the edges. You can read all about that here.


That’s it. I’m done.

I am NOT buying ANY more fabric for the entire rest of this year.

I mean it.

Oh, except I did just sign up for this swap, so I’m going to have to pick up a few FQs to send to my swap partner. Oops.

But no more fabric for me.

I’m going to be strict about this.

So far today, I have successfully resisted buying this set of pink Amy Butlers, from Rural Fabrics Etsy shop:

And this one:

I want them because I have this idea that I want to make a pink girly quilt. I'm savvy enough about how my psyche operates to know that mostly this means I want to accumulate pink girly fabrics. Whether any quilting would ever get done is open to question.

I also resisted this drapery fabric remnant ( that I very much want to drape on my body:

I want all of them. And many more.

But I can’t have them.


If I keep this up, there’s a good chance Jan. 1, 2009 will become infamous for the excessiveness of my online fabric shopping binge.

But it’s early October still. I don’t have to worry about that yet.

Progress reports to follow.

Problems with Butterick 5210

I’ve started on this dress (view B), using the combo of brown and blue batiks that I test-drove in my fave housedress recreation.

Want to make sure it's a keeper before cutting into my good fabric.

I’m this far into construction:

Side seams are basted for initial try-on, and the yoke and shoulders are done (including hand-sewing facing inside, done while watching a Netflix movie last night) arms not hemmed yet. It will have a blue band at the hem, too, eventually, but I’m going to make sure the rest of it is okay before adding that.

I’m thrilled with the boat neck yoke. It was easy to do, looks even better than I’d hoped, and sits perfectly on my shoulders. Yay. THIS part of the dress so far is a great success:

It’s THIS part that’s the problem:

You can’t see it well, ‘cause the batik print is camouflaging the folds, but the pleats at the front yoke are causing a poochy bubble of fabric over the ribs and belly. I’m poochy enough in that area on my own, thank you, don’t need any additional pooching from my clothes!

Here it is from the side. Sorry for the crappy shot, but you can see the problem:

My fabric is partly to blame, I think. I love the look of batiks, but they’re on the stiff side. Probably a nice drapy rayon or wool challis wouldn’t hang so horribly, but I live in Hawaii and challis of any kind is just too hot.

I wonder what kind of fabric the dress in the envelope photo is made from? (I notice neither the photo nor the fashion sketches show an alarmingly unflattering fabric bubble in the belly area; thanks for leaving that detail out, Butterick.) Does it look ghastly from the side on their skinny model, too, or is it just me?

I concede that the bubble might also be due in part to the fact I’ve got a few more curves than the typical model. But hey, my measurements exactly match the size I’m making (not telling you what size that is, but according to the chart I’m a perfect size [XX]). So shouldn’t this dress fit a little bit better?

If I didn’t like the dress from the front so much I might just give up at this point, rip out the side seams and reuse the fabric for something else (placemats?). But from the front it’s so nice, simple yet sophisticated. Comfy, too. I really want to love this dress.

So, I’m gonna try to fix it. As a barely-above-beginner seamstress this threatens to be beyond my capabilities. I hardly know where to begin.

Add a bust dart to the side seam?

Taper the side seams more?

I’m realizing how much easier redoing this would be if I had a dress form.

But I don’t. I’ll have to wing it.

I can already see two issues I’m going to wrestle with:
1) Although this is essentially a loose and roomy dress, it’s not voluminous. There’s some wiggle room in the side seams, but not enough for major reconstruction, especially if the solution is to let a seam out more.
2) I skipped the center back seam and zipper, and just cut the back on the fold. (Lost a teeny bit of shaping there, but not much, and the back looks fine. It's the front that's the problem.) I checked with a measuring tape before cutting: unless you have a ginormous head or Dallas-sized hair this can be a pull-on. But now I’m limited in how much I can take in anything at the sides if I’m gonna be able to get in and out of it. I could, if I have to, split the back and put a zipper in, but that would be a pain in the tush and I don’t want to.

I’ll keep you posted. Hate to put this dress in the UFO pile – had thought I’d just whip it up over the weekend – but other things demand my attention. I’ll get back to it, but not today.

Pleated Beauty Handbag

Here’s the Pleated Beauty Handbag I made following the instructions in Amy Karol’s Bend the Rules Sewing. The fabric is a home d├ęcor weight that I bought a couple of remnant pieces of from last year for a home dec project (will take pics and blog that someday, but not today).

Here's the other side, which I like even better.

The contrast pleats are a rayon imitation linen. Not my fave fabric but the color and slightly nubby, slightly loose weave are a good match.

I’ve already made kitchen chair cushions covers from these fabric leftovers (aren’t they cute!), and still have more left. I'm so tempted to make something to wear from this fabric, but am concerned I will look like a couch. Middle-aged spread is depressing enough without wearing upholstery. Might do it anyway... if a decade ever comes that I pull ahead of the UFOs.

Lined with a burnt-orange quilting calico.

I’m not totally thrilled with this. Left out the “semi-rigid insert” for the bottom when I realized it’s not designed to go all the way across. Sorry Amy K., but that just doesn’t look right to me (and now I know what looked a little off to me in the photos of this bag in her book). And (like the “charming” handbag that doesn’t charm me quite as much as I hoped it would), this could benefit from some kind of a closure, or a zippered inner pocket.

No matter, it’s not for me anyway: gift for my sister (other sister, not the one who’s getting the Charming Handbag; they’re both coming to visit in a couple of weeks, and I felt inspired to make something for them).

I think my main issue with this bag is the proportions: it looks too wide to me. But I do really like the contrast pleats. That feature looks great in every version I’ve seen of this bag (there are tons on Flickr). I might try this again and play around with proportions. Or make a solid box bottom, so pleats are on the sides only.

In the meantime, I’ve got a rush-to-finish novel in the works, houseguests coming in two weeks (which is generating a couple of other projects), some dress project challenges to work out, plus all the regular stuff I should be doing every day. More handbags will have to wait.