Monday, August 30, 2010

Another batch of hexie backgrounds ready to go

I took a break from working on hexies last week. I'd been basting a second huge batch of background blues for what felt like eons, and got to the point where every night I'd look at it and think, "I don't feel like working on that today." I would have switched to sewing blues around the flowers, but I didn't have any ready to go. I like to pick the background hexies for a bunch of the flowers, stack the blues for each flower, and baste the pile of blues to the flower with a loop of thread. When I'm ready to sew, I snip the thread loop, and sew the hexies on, working my way down the pile. This way I can sew the background ring in place without having to turn my brain back on to make a "which blue next?" decision with each seam, which really slows things down. This is a slow-enough project already.

Selecting the blues for each flower is best done with natural light on the kitchen counter, as you see here, but day after day last week I was busy with other things and forgot to do it before evening. I finally got around to it Sunday. I've now got about 30 more flowers ready to sew blues to. That may sound like a lot, but it leaves another 30 or so to go, which means I still need to baste more (a lot more!) blues. At the moment I'm feeling inspired to keep going with the basting until all the remaining flowers are ready to have the background ring sewn on.

I may change my mind about that.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Inching along

OMG I got no sewing done at all, this week, in spite of waking up every morning determined to fit a few minutes on something wardrobe-related into the day. The thing is, I'm deeply into some important-to-me (but dull to you, so I won't go into details) work projects that I long to complete, and that's been keeping me busy until it's too late in the day to attempt sewing without a too-large risk of stupid sewing errors. I've ended up collapsing on the couch to watch such intellectually challenging shows as Wipeout, which is good for a few belly laughs at hapless contestant expense every time. I find the compulsion to laugh at pratfalls fascinating, and the more laughs I can fit into the day, the better.

So, onward: here's where I'm at with the Marrakesh pant:

I ran out of actual muslin some time ago, this is rendition #2 from a sacrificed set of old cotton sheets. Believe it or not, I think I almost have a muslin that might possibly result in a good-enough-to-wear fit. I say "almost" because I have not dealt with the elastic/drawstring casing at the waist. What I did was cut a very tall front/back leg (literally about 6" extra at the waist) so I could do the thing where you tie elastic at the waist and pull the muslin up/down here and there until something looks right. I tried to get the elastic at where I'd like the pant drawstring/elastic to be, then took a black gel pen and marked at the bottom edge.

You can see in the photo above that the center back seam on my almost-fitted muslin is about 3/4" higher than the side seam. I am going to have to firmly remind myself, when I cut my fashion fabric, that as wrong as this looks it is right for me. The good news is that after making several muslins, each from the last without reference to the paper pattern, it looks like the back waist casing is a pretty close fit to the pant I've ended up with.

Not so much on the front, though. I'm going to try the front waist casing at the size 14 length and see how that goes:

Next up, cut casing pieces from some one of the previous muslin-fails lying around here somewhere, and sew those on for a final (please God let this be the last one) fit. I've read all kinds of reminders that when fitting pants it is imperative to include the zipper and fly at the muslin stage, but the thought of doing that makes me want to put a gun to my head. Seriously, I've been fooling around with this pant for about as long as I can stand. Dealing with fly extensions and a zipper is just too much. Plus, the waist isn't exactly "fitted" on this one, so I'm going to wing it.

I'd really like to get this next step done today, so tomorrow I can try to figure out length (my muslins are cropped to flood level because having to roll or pin up the bottom was driving me nuts) but it's about as hot and humid and sticky as it gets here. Where's a cool and drizzly day when I need it for comfortable sewing conditions?

Speaking of which, on recent cool and drizzly late afternoon I looked out the window of my home office and saw this fabulous double-rainbow (part of it, anyway; I grabbed my camera and climbed up to the top of the empty lot next door to capture the whole gorgeous thing):

What I saw from my house was more like this:

Monday, August 16, 2010

Stash Confessional

Oh, I was doing SO well until this morning. I'd actually used more fabric (45 yds) than purchased (42.5 yds) so far this year, but I just tipped that equation the other way via In my defense, the bulk of my purchase was lining yardage in 3 colors, which I need for some garment fabric that, if not lined, will never see wear. That's not to say that I'll sew it up anytime soon, but it had been on my "grab some when it's on sale" list for a while.

The purely indulgent purchase of the day was these two prints. The first is one of my all-time fave Kaffe Fassett prints, in a new-to-me colorway, "Persimmons" in Opal:

I got three yards of this, which is how much I need to make a maxi-dress like this one for around the house wear. It's not the most flattering dress ever, but OMG, so comfy. I've been wearing the butterfly version almost daily and thinking, every time I zip it up, "it sure would be nice to make another of these, next time I find a great cotton print on sale." I've been keeping my eye out for something, and this is it. Came out to around $4.50/yard, which is a good price for KF. I don't think I'll get to sewing it up before my Oct. trip, though, so into the stash it will go.

The other indulgence was this ridiculous Brandon Mably (Kaffe Fassett Collective) print, "Fish Lips," in Lilac, which I have been giggling at for the past year or so:

I don't know why I love it so much, but it makes me smile every time I see it, which is a good thing. I only got two yards because this one wasn't on sale, so it won't be a maxi-dress (probably just as well; that would be a little too goofy, even for me). I envision it as a wide quilt border for... something. I can't pretend this one is anything other than stash accumulation.

While in confessional mode, I'll cop to some more pattern accumulation, too. This is entire the Vogue site's fault, as they put all their patterns on sale today. I got these:

V1177, Anna Sui dress. Reality check: on me this will be a tunic. I have some cotton lawn in the stash in mind for this one, if/when I get to it.

V8323, knit tops, also on my "grab when it goes on sale" list. I have in mind the brown stretch jersey I recently aquired, for the cross-neck view, plus sleeves.

And V1051, the very popular Alice+Olivia pants:

I know, I know, I haven't even produced one successful pants muslin yet. But I've had good luck with that kind of shaped yoke on a skirt, so hope it might be a nice feature on my figure... although it's way too low as drafted. And I'll probably cut it wide-legged all the way down, rather than nipping in at the knee. I may be delusional, but have high hopes for final results from this, tempered by expectation that it may become a year-long project to get them right. I think I even have some appropriate fabric in the stash for this, if I don't use it for something ese, first.

Anyhoo, one of the perks drawbacks of being self-employed is that no one but me every reader of this blog knows that I've now spent half the morning on stash accumulation, instead of on income-generation, which is what I really should be focusing on, given that it's now 10:25 on Monday morning...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Liverpool Shirt - in process

Not so hot and stick today, but that doesn't mean I'm in any mood for modeling. So, herewith, a work in process on the hanger:
This is the popular Amy Butler "Liverpool" shirt/tunic/dress pattern. Believe it or not, this is the shortest -- "shirt" -- length, with the 3/4 length sleeve option. It's not hemmed yet (or even pinned up) but even so. It's a long shirt.

It's either going to be awful or wonderful, and right now I'm close to hating it. On the other hand, it's a muslin, so marginal fit and questionable fabric choices aren't the end of the world at this stage.

You might think I''m nuts to use such a yummy fabric for a muslin, but it has been in my stash since the dawn of time, and for good reason: it's a tightly woven, super-crisp cotton, poorly suited for garment use. I got about 3 yards of it several eons ago at the Pierre Dieux store on Madison Ave. in Manhattan (I think that location closed long ago, but I could be wrong), where they used to sometimes put bolt ends and remnants on sale at normal-people-can-almost-afford-it prices. The print is "me" in that over-the-top way, and I love it enough that I was getting sick of seeing it in the stash. The urge to use it for something, anything, came over me while I was rooting around in the stash for a fabric to test this pattern with.

The contrast trim is a kooky quilting cotton, also of ancient vintage, with abstract football-ish shapes in blue-red-yellow on brown. I like that it almost has a leopardy look to it from afar. There's a good chance I'm the only person on the planet who thinks these two fabrics go together. On alternate minutes, when I'm not wondering what the *&%$#! I was thinking.

As you see it here, it's all done except for buttons/buttonholes and hemming. The front edges are pinned together, as it will look when buttoned. I left off the sash, BTW, and the cuff buttons.

You'd think 6 darts on the front would result in good shaping, but eeesh, the shape of this shirt is not matching up to my shape very well, in spite of great efforts taken with flat measurements and pattern adjustments. I cut a size L, but used the lower, XL, dart positions, because I need more length in the torso and the L darts were clearly too high. I also moved the waist down a half-inch.

Something about the waist is still not right: the widest part of the fish-eye darts is now at my waist, but it still looks like it's sitting a little high at the side seams. And I either need to open up the side seams and put in the sash I left out, or add a couple fish-eye darts to the back, which is schlumpy and shapeless compared to the front.

Usually a size L top is huge across the back on me (and too narrow across the front), but this one is too large (though not too wide) in front, and pulling across the shoulders if I move my arms. The armscye is way high, to the point that I almost have to wriggle into the sleeves, and couldn't possibly wear anything but a sleeveless T under this. Which is a problem, as at this point I'm thinking that getting a good fit buttoned up may be impossible, but it has possibilities if worn open as an overshirt.

This may sit in the UFO pile for a bit. I think it's salvageable if I:
1) Fiddle with the bust darts, which point straight in from the side seam (odd), and I think they need to be at an angle
2) Fiddle with the fisheye darts: I think there's too much nipping in at the waist for this fabric; slightly narrower darts might ease the poor draping (although this crisp fabric will never, ever drape well)
3) Experiment with adding small fisheye darts to the back, which is huge at the waist
4) Lower the armscye (no idea how to do that, but I've got several books that cover that kind of thing) enough so it doesn't pinch, without losing mobility

Ugh. None of those tasks is the kind of thing I feel at all enthusiastic about. On the other hand, I've come this far. And look what a nice job I did matching up the print on the L/R front pieces... abandoning it will feel like a loss.

I need to focus on sewing some clothes for my trip, and I don't think this one is going to make it. Unless I get around to muslining jeans out of the sky-blue stretch twill I got super-cheap for that purpose. In a perfect world this shirt, over a light blue pant, might end up feeling groovy.

Chances are slim, at best, that both "muslins" will turn out wearable, but I can dream, can't I?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fabric finds

Went to my local fabric store/Babylock dealer yesterday to get the extension table thing for my machine, so I can learn to do machine quilting and move a few things out of the UFO piles. It was not cheap, but I'd earned it by sticking with my fabric embargo, which meant no new fabric for 120 days.

Since the embargo is over, and the store was promoting a new shipment of "designer" fabric remnants from LA, I poked around the piles on that table. Usually this stuff is fashion-fabric dreck, but sometimes there are gems in there, if you rummage deeply enough. Here's what I found:

I do want to conserve my fabric budget as much as possible, in order to maximize binge options while I'm on the mainland this fall, but I figured I'd keep an eye out for anything that might be appropriate for the kind of fall clothes I'll want to wear on my trip. Like these.

The brown stretch jersey is absolutely luscious, not the sort of color I ever wear in Hawaii, but perfect for a city weekend in October. I'm thinking a simple long-sleeved top, maybe a little ruching, or cross-over detail. There might even be enough for a sleeveless version, too.

The beige herringbone is probably poly, but very soft, nice medium weight, with good drape. There's enough of it to make a pair of pants, if I ever finish the pattern-fitting thing. I would have passed on it, if it weren't such a perfect match, in color, style, and weight, to the brown jersey.

The B/W double-knit is borderline "meh," but could go in either top or skirt direction. I'm thinking a top to go with the black stretch twill skirt I made this spring, but am not confident it will earn a place in my suitcase.

If these fabrics had required any kind of investment at all, I would have waffled on them, as dark neutrals are not my style at all these days, but it's so easy to envision what they might become, and I do need fall clothes and, most persuasive of all, the price was right:  $1.77 a yard!  That's cheaper than muslin! Total for the three pieces: $8.31 (inc. tax), so if they end up languishing in the stash I can always use them for pattern testing.

UPDATE: I just added these purchases to the year-to-date count, and here's where I stand:
YTD in: 42.25 yards
YTD out: 45.0 yards

Look at that! I'm AHEAD on the yardage acquisition for perhaps the first time ever. And once I get into machine quilting and put the backs on some tops, and add binding yardage, I'll be in even better shape.

Or not. The quilting thing is not likely to happen before my trip, and there are sure to be some substantial additions to the "in" column when I hit the Portland fabric shops. Okay, sorry I thought about that, it kindof took the glow off my (temporary) accomplishment.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

More Hexies

I've got a couple of garment-type things to photo for you, but it's been so sticky here lately I keep putting it off, just too icky to be posing in anything with sleeves. You'll see them eventually.

In the meantime, here are a few of the latest batch of hexie flowers. I'm about a third of the way through adding the various blue bits around the outside of each one.

Used up the last of the ready-to-go blue hexies about a week ago, so am now busy during TV time basting up the next huge heap of blues so I can make more of these.