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.