Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Favorite Thing I Made This Year

... is my "butterfly dress." I made it about two months ago, but did not have a photo to post until this morning.

Ooops, I forgot to smile. I should have smiled, because wearing this dress makes me happy. I've given up on coralling Beloved Spouse into camera duty as he is rarely around and distractable at a time when I am wearing something I'd like a snapshot of and when the light is any good, so this morning I figured out how to use the timer function on our camera. How to pose attractively while waiting for the shutter to twitch is, clearly, a skill I have yet to master.

This is yet another rendition of my current favorite dress pattern, Vogue 8232. I was inspired by Cindy to make a long version (stretching the skirt to top-of-foot length, while keeping the hem width the same, results in a better hanging skirt on my body; at knee length the skirt is a bit full) and am glad I did. I'm eager to make several more as I wear long dresses around the house quite a bit and this one is both easy to whip up and very comfortable. Unfortunately, since I am on the tall side, it requires a good three yards of fabric and the largest pieces of appropriate fabric in my stash are around the two-yard size. I will have to either be creative or quickly sew up some UFOs and "earn" some new yardage.

I am quite sure that whoever designed this fabric (cotton, purchased online some time ago at half-price) had a nine-year-old girl in mind, but I have a fondness for the slightly goofy. And since this is for around-the-house wear only I can dress my inner nine-year-old, rather than my outer 51-year-old, if I want. How I got to be middle-aged (and pudgy!) are questions I am trying to ignore.
The best part of this dress is that if I do manage to lose some weight one of these days/years, I can nip it in along the side seams and it will refit well enough. At the rate my slim-down plans have been regressing I won't have to worry about that for a while. I do have a resolution or two in mind in that area, too, which I will blog about some other time.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sewing Resolutions for 2010

I knew I'd regret it, but did it anyway: I added up what I spent on fabric last year, and how much yardage I acquired vs. how much I used.

The numbers:
$100/month average fabric indulgence
177 yards purchased
136 yards used (some in UFOs, if it's been cut I counted it)

Not that I went totally off the deep end, or anything. I'm sure there are stashaholics out there who spent more, or aquired more yardage than I did. And I did sew up a lot of stuff, especially given my non-productive habit of starting at least three projects for every one I finish (take a moment to plot a graph of that in your mind, and you'll see that UFO overwhelm is the inevitable result). I've worn a lot of garments this year that I made myself and that I love. That's all I need to count 2009 as a successful step forward in the "learn to sew my own wardrobe" and "have a closet full of things that fit and that I love to wear" departments.

The fabric indulgence looks somewhat less excessive when I remember that I made three sets of curtains (five panels for the bedroom, and four panels each for my own and DH's home offices). Every one of 'em lined, and contrast borders on some. Curtains account for a large chunk of the '09 yardage.

Even so, I've added 40 yards to the stash. And I'm a long way from being done with those "learn to sew my own clothes" goals. I never did get around to learning to sew knits this year, and in spite of all this positive spin on things the bottom line is I spent more than I'd budgeted on fabric and I'm not in danger of running low anytime soon. And the UFO pile is awesomely, mind-numbingly, intimidatingly large and untidy. I counted those too, but can't bring myself to go public with a specific number (excessive) of incompletes.

I (briefly) considered instituting another self-imposed fabric embargo along the lines of "don't buy any more fabric until XX yards are used up" but given my laughable lack of success sticking to that one in the early days of this year I thought I'd try a different approach for '10.

Herewith, my sewing resolutions for the coming year:

1) Spend less, sew more.  Really. I mean it. If I only stick to ONE resolution, this is the one I should aim for.
2) Complete one UFO before starting each new sewing project. I have way, way, way too many "in progress" projects in various states of incompletion.

3) Work on ONE garment project at a time. FINISH it before moving on to the next.This will be tough. I will need to be vigilant and disciplined to achieve this one! I am motivated by hindsight, which reveals that I often sew and sew and sew and sew, and inch forward on so many different projects at once that any one of those projects can take months to reach "done." I'd like to change that, so being strict with myself about picking one "active project" at a time to focus on seems like an excellent new habit to adopt.

4) Work on ONE quilt project at a time. Get it to the "ready to quilt" stage before working on another one. This mean I can have one quilt and one garment going at a time, which I hope will meet my need for variety, while encouraging speedier forward progress in finishing up some UFOs.

5) Learn to do machine quilting. If I stick with resolution #4 I should have a (not terrifically important, or very large) quilt top ready to practice on soon.

6) Go through the pattern stash and pull all the ones I really do think I'd like to make sometime soon. Work them into the "future active projects" pile.

7) Do not buy any more patterns until I've made something from at least three ("new", not TNT) stash patterns.

8) Delete all fabric sale emails UNREAD until I've made at least six garments from stash!

9) Make myself a pair of pants that fit, no matter how long or how many muslins it takes.

10) Sew some knits. Seriously. Just do it already.
Hey, look at that, a nice list of 10 for year 2010. I think I'll stop here.
Happy New Year everyone, and happy sewing.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Handbags for Christmas

I almost forgot to post a follow-up to the sneak peek of bags I made for my mom and sisters this year. Here they are:

A "taxi tote" (Anna Maria Horner pattern from her "Seams to Me" book) made from blue Kaffe Fasset fabric strips, seamed to together, lined with an Amy B. pastel print. I made the bag about an inch wider than the original pattern, but taking a larger seam at the bottom corners, and added a double-layer of very stiff interfacing (no idea what, it's been in the stash a while) between the bag and lining. Mum had admired the Taxi Tote I'd made for myself when she was last here for a visit, and hinted that she might like something similar. Hard to believe it's been over a year since I made the first one, which has turned out to be a favorite, and much-used everyday bag. I like it so much, I might need to make another.

Two "birdie slings" (Amy Butler pattern), the green one is an AMH print, with KF trim. The blue-brown is batiks from my stash that I think play especially well together.

I reduced the (huge!) pattern pieces at 78% on my home copier to make a more everyday size. I added some length back to the strap, since that got reduced, too, along with the bag body and lining, and I didn't want the straps to be too short.

I'm going to make one of these for myself someday, too.

Another set of curtains done

DH's curtains are finally done and up. I achieved my goal of getting them done before XMas (ahead of time, even), but we were feeling so lazy and relaxed over the big holiday itself that he didn't get around to putting up the rods until yesterday.

It's unusually sunny and bright for Hilo this morning, so even with a flash it's hard to take a window shot. Here's the best I managed:

These are about 60" long, plus the tabs. They do bring some much-needed color to the all-white room. And pushed back, as they will almost always be, they are "not too girly." Second best part of this project is it gave me a reason to learn to use the blind-hem foot/function on my sewing machine. Not sure this shot is any better, but here's view 2, anyway:

Best part is, Mr. Wonderful declined an accent pillow for his desk chair ("too girly"), which meant there was JUST enough fabric left for me to make a skirt from TNT Burda 8280. I had to cut the pieces just slightly off-grain, but getting a skirt from this luscious fabric is such a nice bonus I won't care if it's less than perfect in execution. It's not like I'm a fashionista or anything.

The skirt has a curved hem, which I wasn't quite prepared to do by machine, given my limited blind-hem experience, but I got the hem sewn by hand last night. My eyes gave out before I finished stitching the waist facing to the side seams and zip, and I still have to add a hook and eye (my most-loathed sewing task), but it will be wearable very soon.

Friday, December 18, 2009

More curtains in progress

... sort of. I have managed, over the course of about a week and a half, to cut four curtain panels to length and trim off the selvedge (and drape them over my ironing board, as you see here). That's not exactly a stunning rate of progress.

These are going to be for my husband's home office. When he saw the curtains I made for my office, he realized how greatly his space needed some big, bold color, too. He insisted nothing else would do but a  large blue and green print, something suitable for our tropical location without being too over-the-top Hawaiian/aloha-print. We found this stunning fabric, from Anna Maria Horner's "Drawing Room" collection, in the close-out section at, and it is perfect. Floral, yes, but such a bold scale that it's not "too girly" for DH.

We picked up the curtain hardware a couple of days ago, so now I have no excuse not to get these done by Christmas Eve. Yikes, that's less than a week away: I'd better pick up the pace.

I still need to cut the lining pieces, cut and sew 36 rod 'tabs', and learn how to use the blind-hem foot on my sewing machine. DH won't care how they are hemmed, but I do. Besides, I want to learn how to do a blind hem, and this seems like a good project for that. I'm going to practice on scraps, of course, but first I need to cut all those tab lengths and see what, if any, yardage is left. I might see if I can get a pillow from this fabric, too.

Fortunately most of my other XMas prep is done, so I can focus on this project over the weekend. I can't wait to see them done and up; they are going to be gorgeous!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Sneak Peek

It's not that I haven't been sewing much this past month (although I have not sewn a stitch in over a week, too many other things going on at the moment), but that the things I've sewn have been wrapped up and shipped out to be opened by others on XMas morning. So I don't want to describe what I've been up to in more detail than that, or make photos available, just in case a recipient is checking in here. But I couldn't resist putting up a sneak peek. The mishmash above is just that: small details cropped from several different gifts, and all cuddled together as one image. The different bits aren't even to scale. Some Anna Maria Horner, up there, and a bunch of Kaffe Fassett blues, and some batiks from the stash that to my eye play very well together. Further details will have to wait until after the holidays.