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.