Saturday, May 31, 2008


Yay, the brocade bag is finished and best of all, my daughter loves it!

The bag is small; it measures 9-1/2 inches at the bottom and 12 inches from the top of the handles to the bottom. It would have been nice to be able to make it a bit larger, but I used just about every bit of available brocade at this size.

The bag has two exterior pockets, two interior pockets and a magnetic closure.

I never did figure out how to sew the lining using my sewing machine, so it is stitched by hand. In fact, a lot of hand sewing went into making this bag...tons of hand basting, then the lining and finally, attaching the purse to the handles.

A few things I learned about working with seriously ravels. I have polyester "stuff" all over the house. It's worse than dog hair.

It doesn't fuse well. In order to bond the interfacing to the fabric, you have to use a heat setting that makes the fabric do weird stuff. I think it really wants to melt, but doesn't quite melt. So sew in interfacing is a good thing.

It makes bulky seams and doesn't hold an edge, so if I ever get around to making the Asian-style top that I have planned in blue and silver brocade, I'll need to use a different fabric for facings to minimize bulk.

As for changes I would make to this purse, if I were to make it again - and I am seriously considering making two more - first off, I would replace the interior brocade pieces (where the magnetic fasteners are) with a closely matching lining in a different, thinner fabric. I think the brocade looks great, but it's a lot of extra bulk in the seam allowances.

I would square off the bottom corners and eliminate the gathers. They look cute and my daughter quite likes them, but I think it would be a neater look without them.

I asked my daughter to model the purse and she declined, as she didn't think her outfit would do it justice...not sure why. She's wearing the soccer shorts we bought for her when she was 5 and a Kokopeli t-shirt she's had since she was 10 or so. These shorts are a child's size small! And she still can fit her 16 year old body into them!

It's true, she does have to pull them all the way up to her waist or they're too tight. I explained to her that they're supposed to go all the way to her waist, but I don't think she believed me.

The shorts are in surprisingly good condition. Other than the binding on the side slit, they're still good to go!

Tagged Again!

I've been tagged by Rhonda, of RHOTO's Rag. This time it's a few questions designed to help us get to know one another a little better.

Ten years ago, I was working as the IS Manager at a letter shop. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the junk mail direct mail marketing industry, a letter shop processes the data and product, i.e., letters, flyers, post cards, brochures, etc., that you are so happy to receive daily in your snail mail.

Finish the purse for Daughter #3;
Trace off a pattern for Daughter #1;
Yard work;
Watch There Will Be Blood;
Paid work (three files)

My favorite dessert is cheesecake. I also like chocolate in just about any format. My favorite salty snacks are well-buttered popcorn, pretzels and Fritos.

Establish college funds for the grandbabies;
Build a 50 meter x 25 yard indoor training and competition pool for my daughter's old swim club;
Hire a cook

Unincorporated King County, WA
Eugene, Oregon
Bellevue, WA
Renton, WA
Ellensburg, WA
Renton, WA
Anchorage, AK
Renton, WA
Sumner, WA
Bothell, WA
Unincorporated Snohomish County, WA

Swimming Pool Cashier
Inventory Clerk
Billing Clerk
International Invoicer
Day Care Worker
Administrative Assistant (x2)
Marketing Manager
IS Manager
Officer Manager
Self-employed Technical Writer/Editor

Rhonda said, "I GUESS a “peep” is someone who writes and/or visits blogs??" I'm thinking it's just short for "people."

Allison (AllisonC Sewing Gallery)
Heidi (Sew Exotic)
Marita (Paradise for Me)
Charity (Vintage Threads)
Elaine (Goodworks1)
Bunny (La Sewista!)

As always, tagees, you're free to decline to play with no hurt feelings.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Legacy

Most of what I inherited of my mother's mother is china; beautiful bone china teacups and saucers with matching dessert plates in random patterns. They're beautiful and I love them but they're not the topic of today's post (maybe another day, though).

I also have the small but treasured collection of notions and needlework-related items that you can see here.

I never knew my grandmother, Grace, to sew, although having been born in 1906 and raising four children during the depression years, she must have had at least a passing acquaintance with the business end of a needle. She did do some lovely hand embroidered pillowcases in her later years, which, after her death, I finished off with some crocheted edgings for my mother. She bought me my first sewing machine, an inexpensive Singer, as a high school graduation gift and I sewed with that machine for about ten years until it was replaced by a Kenmore SensorSew (the immediate predecessor of my Ellegante).

I know for certain that she never crocheted and the excellent selection of steel crochet hooks were her mother's. My great-grandmother, Amelia, taught me to crochet when I was five and produced an amazing number of doilies, tablecloths and bedspreads, some of which I'm privileged to own and which are in amazingly good condition.

A point of interest...notice the brand name on the pinking shears!

And a little something to make you long for the good old days...check out the prices on the needles!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Daily Dilemma

It seems as though each day I work on this purse brings up a new dilemma. Today's dilemma: How to ease the gusset around the rather sharp curves at the bottom of the bag. If I were working with cotton, I would stay stitch and clip the gusset. On this poly brocade, however, with it's tendency to ravel, I'm reluctant to do so.

Up to this point, I haven't fused the interfacing to the brocade as I don't like the way it changes the character of the brocade, but fusing it to the gusset is an option. I've also thought about gathering or pleating it.

I wish I had big enough scraps left over to give it a good try, but I don't. Or some really good Sewing Simulation Software...wouldn't that be a boon?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Purse Progress

Still plugging away on this little purse. It actually is quite small, despite the number of pieces. We were limited on size due to the fabric being fat quarters (and the sole remaining bundle of brocade at that) rather than fabric we could purchase by the yard.

All of the handle attachment units were hand basted as you see here.

And then edgestitched.

For those of you who are having trouble following what I'm doing - and I don't blame you; frankly, I'm having a little trouble following it myself - here are a couple of pictures that should make it clearer. This top photo shows the pieces spread apart so you can see them better.

But when I attach the purse to the handles, they'll actually be scooted together like this.

Here's something really sad. Or pathetic. Or sad and pathetic, maybe. I drafted this pattern myself, but once I got to the point where I needed to start actually putting pieces together, I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to do it. So here is what I finally settled on. First, I folded the upper curved edge of the purse and lining sections under along the seam line and edge stitched them. Then I sewed the purse and lining sections wrong sides together.

Then turned them right side out. Next, I'll use my zipper foot to sew the attachment units onto the handles, then I'll sandwich the raw ends of the attachment units between the purse/lining sections and hand sew it. Firmly. With very strong thread.

How crazy is this? I'm actually considering making two more. They would be great gifts for my other daughters for Christmas (notice the loooong lead time!).

Sunday, May 25, 2008

40 Pieces

Here's what all the fuss is about. This is the method I drafted to attach my daughter's purse to the purchased handles. Each attachment unit consists of five pieces: two fabric pieces; two lining pieces; and one interfacing piece. There are eight attachment units for a total of 40 pieces to attach the bag to the handles. Because accuracy is so important on this part of the bag, I cut each piece individually. This was mandatory for the brocade; there's no way I could have cut two layers without slipping on these small pieces. But even on the cotton lining, I wanted to make sure the cutting was spot on.

I'm glad I had the foresight (for a change!) to cut the pieces extra long. The raw edges of the brocade melt away as you turn the assembled units right side out. I tried overcasting the raw edges, but that caused them to disappear as well.

After the second set of four units is assembled and turned right side out, I'll hand baste the finished edges, then edgestitch. I'm doing quite a bit of hand basting on this project. Unfortunately, my thimble doesn't fit the way it used to and the ones available at Joann are "not the best" quality. Mine keeps falling off and last night I ran the eye end of my needle into my middle finger. Ouch!

But never fear, it's Elaine to the rescue! She recently acquired some vintage thimbles at auction and offered to send me one that fits. Thanks, Elaine!

Oh My Gosh!

I realized this morning that I needed more lining pieces, so I cut 16 more for a total of 67 pieces of fabric, lining and interfacing for a seemingly simple bag! I had barely enough lining fabric left so the pieces were cut willy-nilly. Straight grain? I don't need no stinkin' straight grain!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Off The Wagon

I confess. I have fallen off the 30/30 wagon. Not to make excuses, but I've had a lousy week with no opportunity for any sewing at all and along came a weekend with plenty of free time. I caved.

After missing seven days, I was trying to decide if it would be better to make up the time missed in a sewing marathon, start over or pick up where I left off and just keep going until I had 30 days of actual sewing in. A sewing marathon didn't seem right because it's so much easier to be productive in a large block of time than in short bursts. Starting over felt like failing. Picking up where I left off probably would have been the best option but I just needed to treat myself to something enjoyable so there you have it.

I'm working on my daughter's purse. Believe it or not, I cut 51 pieces including interfacing! 27 of those pieces have now been reduced to 4: the front (with pocket); the back (with pocket); the front lining; and the back lining (with pocket).

I started by assembling the interior pocket and lining pieces. I interfaced the pocket with a lightweight interfacing, then stitched the pocket to the pocket lining, right sides together. I turned the lining to the wrong side, pressed and edgestitched it, then basted it to the lower lining.

With the pocket constructed, I sewed the pocket assembly to the upper lining piece. Then I folded the seam allowanced towards the upper lining and edgestitched it. This completed the back lining. The front lining was easier; no pocket, so all I needed to do was sew the lower lining to the upper lining.

On to the purse front and back. Bunny had clued me in that the brocade has a tendency to shrink when fused to interfacing. Because of that, I decided on a medium stiff, sew-in interfacing for the outside of the bag. For the outside pockets, I used the same lightweight interfacing I used on the inside pocket.

The first step was to line the outside pocket pieces; I sewed the lining pieces to the pocket pieces, right sides together, along the curved edge. Because the brocade will not hold a pressed edge, I understitched the seam allowances. Then I clipped the curves and turned the lining to the wrong side. Again, because the polyester won't hold an edge, I hand basted the edge, then edgestitched.

Each outside pocket is made up of two of two pieces. Since each piece was constructed individually, I hand sewed the edges down after overlapping them. This is the front and back of one of the outside pockets.

This was my stopping point for today. I started to baste a pocket onto one of the body pieces, but the fabric was bunching in front of the presser foot. I'll just hand baste those and keep my fingers crossed when I actually assemble the bag. I looked in my manual, but couldn't find any information on decreasing the presser foot pressure. (If anyone else is using a Baby Lock Ellegante, is there a way to do that???)

***The color is SO off. Once again, the base colors of the fabrics are various shades of a mossy green.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

We Have a Winner

Rhonda in Montreal wins the eagle-eye award for noticing my new look. On Sunday morning, I had about 10 inches cut off of my hair. I think the style looks fine, but it's making me crazy! It won't stay out of my face! And I think it's a little boring. It makes me feel like I have to put on nice clothes and makeup and it feels a little at odds with the "nature girl" vibe I try to maintain.

So I'm giving it mixed reviews.

Heavy Sigh, Retracted

My beautiful oldest daughter, Rebecca, happened to read my Heavy Sigh blog post and was so upset. She, of course, had no idea that her comment about being able to tell my blouse was home sewn could be considered uncomplimentary so of course had no idea that my feelings were hurt.

After a flurry of text messages and a phone call, we got it all sorted out. I now know that she could tell I had made the blouse because it was "so me" and the buttons were like nothing you would see on a RTW tailored blouse. She now knows that home sewn isn't always a compliment. But I especially need to know if something looks home sewn in a bad way - and, most importantly, why it looks that way.

Just to set the record straight, I have a pretty amazing relationship with all my daughters. None of them would ever intentionally say anything to hurt my feelings, nor have they ever been button pushers. It was because we have such a great relationship that I couldn't shake off the blouse comment. If it had occurred to me, even for an instant, that she was just yanking my chain, I could have shrugged it off. It's precisely because I knew she would never do that, that it was so disturbing.

Becky's embarking on a new become a registered nurse. She's going to be blogging about her experiences on her new blog, Becky Hartman, Professional Student. She doesn't have anything posted yet, but stop by in a few days to get to know her better.

30/30 Update - Days 4, 5 and 6

You may have noticed that there have been no 30/30 updates for a couple of days. To make a long story short, I made three trips to the emergency room with my father; two back to back visits Sunday afternoon and and all day visit yesterday. Between the time spent at the hospital and the resulting mental and - surprisingly - physical exhaustion, I just couldn't pull myself together for sewing. And today...much work to catch up.

And about my dad, it was nothing really serious. It was bothersome and painful, but he was in no real danger.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

30/30 - Day 3

It was super hard to stop tonight! I so seriously wanted to keep on going. I got quite a bit of the cutting finished tonight. There are quite a few fiddly little pieces and the fabric is sort of difficult to cut; it wants to move away from the scissors so the cutting goes very slowly.

Here's a sneak preview of the handbag I'm making for my daughter. The photos I'm taking of this fabric are pretty disappointing; my photos definitely do not do it justice.

Rhonda had a question about the "30/30" I'm using in the post titles. She wanted to know what the second 30 represented. The answer is that it represents 30 days. The project is to sew 30 minutes a day for 30 days and keep track of how much I accomplish.

Up tomorrow...I hope to finish the cutting, including the lining and interfacing. If there is time left, I'll start overcasting the edges of the pieces. This fabric ravels! Some of my pieces are cut with quarter inch seam allowances and I can see that disappearing during construction without overcasting.

ETA: I uploaded a new photo that shows the colors of the fabrics a little better. The fabrics are really lovely, I swear.

30/30 - Day 2

My apologies for no 30/30 update yesterday. After cooling my heels all day at the hospital, I was beat. Tell me, why is sitting around doing nothing so exhausting?

I did manage to get in my 30 minutes, though. I finished drawing up my pattern (the pattern is far too simple to dignify my process by calling it drafting). In addition to the pattern pieces here, I'll be cutting about a two inch gusset to give the bottom of the bag some depth. I'll also be using a fairly stiff interfacing as my daughter wants the bag to have some body, but not be stiff.

I also got the fabrics pressed, with my timer buzzing just as I finished up the last piece. I am a little concerned about the piece on the far right. These fabrics were purchased as a bundle of fat quarters and unfortunately even after some fairly conscientious pressing, I can see fold marks in the fabric.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Quick Update

My dad came through his surgery today with flying colors. Many thanks to those of you who took the time to pray for him and for me today. If all goes well overnight, he will be coming home tomorrow. This is always tricky as he lives by himself, but it usually works out okay. The pathology report on the tumors (as it turns out, there were three small tumors) should be available when he goes in for follow-up appointment on Wednesday.

File this under "Just Too Weird:" The surgeon presented me with a glossy photograph of one of the tumors, taken in situ. I tried to give it back, but he wouldn't take it.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Change of Plans

I won't be getting my 30 minutes of sewing in first thing in the morning tomorrow; I'm going to have to fit it in sometime later in the day. Instead, I'll be taking my dad to the hospital for surgery to have a small tumor removed. The surgery itself isn't major, but he is, after all, nearly 82 years old and takes various blood thinners and cholesterol medications so it's not without risk. If you're the praying kind, please remember my dad in your prayers tomorrow. I've stocked up on new sewing magazines and a book to pass the time while I wait. I might take my computer...I think the hospital has free wi-fi.

I have semi-committed myself to Marji's Great Coat Sew-Along. It doesn't start until July, so the 30/30 project will be complete (unless, of course, it works out so well that I continue it) and there's plenty of time to purchase fabric and other supplies. I happen to have a coat pattern in my stash, Vogue 8346. I want the coat to wear with jeans (and trousers, if I ever get around to making any) so probably a little bit shorter than the red one shown on the envelope. And probably in gray. Or maybe in red. Who knows, I have a little bit of time to decide.

30/30 - Day 1

Marji asked the excellent question, "...does this mean you're going to limit yourself to sewing only 30 minutes a day? or try to get in at least 30 minutes?" The answer is...both! The point of my 30/30 Project is to force me to use a 30 minute block of time for sewing and to stop when the 30 minutes is up.

My sewing mindset is to wait until I have a huge block of time for sewing, then sew until I drop. The problem is that huge blocks of time are hard to come by in my life and so days (weeks!) could pass with no sewing getting done at all.

At the other end of the spectrum, when I finally realized that maybe I could utilize smaller blocks of time for sewing, I had a hard time disciplining myself to put it away and move on to other tasks.

And I guess I'm taking it to the extreme of limiting myself to 30 minutes even if more time is available simply for the sake of idle curiosity. Nancy Zieman's 10, 20, 30 minutes To Sew patterns got me to wondering how much sewing could actually be accomplished in 30 minutes a day by a slow sewist such as myself.

So there you have it and it's probably more than you wanted to know about the motivation behind my 30/30 Project.

Which started this morning at 5:15 a.m. Here's what I managed to accomplish, most of the purse pattern for my DD's Asian brocade purse. What is immediately apparent is that you must focus like a laser beam if you want to get anything done. No time for wool gathering. I believe this is going to be interesting.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I'm just reorganizing my blog to limit the length of the lists running down the sides of the page. It looks a little odd right now but we'll get used to it.

I did get a chance to tidy up my sewing area so I'm all set for tomorrow morning. My first task is to draft the pattern for my daughter's bag. I'm hoping I can get the whole thing drafted in 30 minutes. Please cross your fingers for me and send lots of positive energy my way!

Favorite Tutorials

Bullion Knots by The Heritage Shoppe
Mitered Hem by The Sewing Divas
Welt Pockets by Debbie Cook

Snoop Shopping

Sara Campbell Ltd.

Street Fashion

Copenhagen Street Style
Face Hunter
Hel Looks
The Style Scout
The Sartorialist
Tokyo Street Fashion

Sewing Blogs

I'm reorganizing my blog.

2B Sewing
After the Dress
AllisonC Sewing Gallery
Assorted Notions
Bloom's Fabric Obsession
Bubblegum 4 Breakfast
Diary of a Sewing Fanatic
Encue Creations
Erica B.'s D.I.Y. Style!
Eyelets in the Seams
Faye's Sewing Adventures
Fiber Arts Afloat
Frogs in a Bucket
From Fabric to Clothing
Goodworks' Notes
Great Coat Sew-Along
Hungry Zombie Couture
Journey to Couture
Keely Sews
Knit Sew Much
La Sewista!
Laura's Sewing Room
Lean Mean Sewing Machine
Lindsay T Sews
Loohoo Originals
Mary is Sewfast
My Vintage Charm
Nifty Needle
Paradise For Me
Phat Chick Designs
Quality Time
Sew Every Day
Sew Exotic
Sew Loved
Sew Much to Sew
Sew Random
Sew, Mama, Sew
Sewing Bits
Sewing By The Seat of My Pants
Sherril's Sewing Saga
Sigrid's Sewing Projects
Stitches and Seams
Studio Alexandra
The Rusty Bobbin
The Sewing Divas
The Slapdash Sewist
Two On, Two Off
Vintage Threads
Wall Street By Day
When Ladies Dressed

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Counting Down

The day after tomorrow will be the first day of my 30/30 experiment to see how much sewing can actually be accomplished in 30 minutes a day. I've allowed myself a free day each weekend, where I can sew as much as time allows in order to make sure I can complete the muslin for my daughter's bridesmaid's dress in a timely manner, but I'm going to try not to use it. I really want to see what can be done in just the 30 minutes.

I already get up at 5:00 a.m. every day. I'm going to continue to do that, but rather than start work right away, I'll take the first half hour of my day as my sewing time. That way I can be sure that nothing/no one will interfere with it.

To keep me accountable, I'll be posting here on my blog each day on what I've accomplished and whether or not I stuck to my 30 minute plan. I'll spend some time tomorrow tidying up my sewing area, making sure my fabrics are ready, etc., so that come Thursday morning, nothing stands in my way.

On an entirely unrelated topic, my 16 year old daughter went on her first "date" this evening. In keeping with her nerdy studious persona, they're off to a Spanish Club event at school. This is big for us; our style tends to be "parenting by suffocating over-protection." But hey! I've only texted her once so far! Yea, me!

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Mother of Invention Strikes Again

You probably don't know me well enough to have figured it out yet, but I'm the sort of person who values the independence that comes with being able to do things for myself. It's more than just the feeling of satisfaction that stems from completing a project. It's one of the reasons I sew, knit and crochet. It's also one of the reasons I've read the Little House series of books at least a hundred times - truly, I never tire of reading how Ma made head cheese - and why I actually purchased "Frontier House" after it aired on PBS.

It's also one of the reasons that, even though I love Norm Abrams, guys like Roy Underhill and Dick Proenneke get the lion's share of my admiration. Where Norm has a special tool for every conceivable task encountered in his workshop, Roy and Dick use a limited array of hand tools and aren't above fabricating their own tools when the need arises.

You've already seen my High Tech Tube Turner and my Precision Seam Allowance Tracing Tool. Today I'm proud to present my Princess Seam Pressing Aid. This handy notion started life as a mind-challenging puzzle in the heyday of Rubik's Cube but, when covered with a towel, this perfectly sized pressing aid adds just the right amount of shaping to a standard, B cup princess seam.

You might also be interested in my Point Turner, a former shishkebab skewer on which the point has been somewhat filed down to avoid skewering my fabric...or my hand. It also doubles as a tube turner for tubes that have one end sewn shut prior to turning.

I'd be interested in hearing about your most ingenious sewing aids, but I doubt you can top my Princess Seam Pressing Aid.

I also want to take a minute to acknowledge everyone who left kind words in response to yesterday's post. It's pretty cool, isn't it, that I can whine in Snohomish, Washington, USA, and someone from Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia (Two people from Toowoomba! Who knew!) takes the time to commiserate with me. And not just Toowoomba, but from all over; like-minded people, whose comments really mean something because they know. So thank you, everyone.

My husband convinced me that I did not need to throw the shirt away and, in fact, he would be very sad if I were to do so. For the time being, it remains in my wardrobe; whether or not I wear it again remains to be seen.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Heavy Sigh

I had the most discouraging thing happen today. Well, in terms of sewing, anyway. We met my oldest daughter and her husband for dinner. I was wearing the linen tunic I made as my entry in the Fitted Blouse Contest on PatternReview. My daughter said she like the blouse and I said, "Thanks, I made it." And her response was..."I could tell."

That is so depressing. What's worse, neither she nor my other daughter (who agreed you could tell I made it) could tell me why it looks homemade. I'm reasonably sure it's not the quality of the construction. I was fairly meticulous about that and I know it fits better than any RTW blouses I have. They couldn't say if it was the style, the fabric or the combination of the two or what. Although my oldest did say maybe it was the buttons.

Gosh, now I feel like I never want to wear it again. How discouraging is that? If I ever happen to run into Tim Gunn, he's going to immediately think "Happy hands at home!" I need to head back over to PatternReview and read that topic about making your clothes look less homemade.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

How Cute Is That?

Don't you think I'd better stop patting myself on the back before I wrench my shoulder or something? But really, is this too cute or what?

No matter how cute this tunic is, though, right now I'm seriously doubting that Burda World of Fashion and I are going to be able to maintain a long-term relationship. I mean, if you can't communicate, what kind of a future can you have together? This little top, #140, from the April, 2008, issue has two pattern pieces plus ties and no closures and I struggled to put it together. You can read about my troubles in my review if you're interested.

A few details.

The completed top.

Some more hemstitching. I wanted a more subtle look on this top than on this dress. I still used the wing needle and embroidery thread on top, but rather than embroidery bobbin thread I used regular machine sewing thread in the bobbin so that the holes made by the wing needle would be more filled in.

ETA: Thanks to a comment made by Debbie Cook on my review, I figured out how the pattern was actually supposed to go together. My review has been edited to reflect that. Thanks, Debbie!

I'm It!

I've been tagged in the literary meme by Keely. As luck would have it, the closest book to hand, as I sit here in my sewing room, is Fine Machine Sewing by Carol Laflin Ahles (no, I haven't returned it to the library long as no one else has requested it, they'll let me keep renewing).

The meme works this way:

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Turn to page 123
3. Find the fifth sentence
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people and acknowledge who tagged you.

2. Straight stitch (length 2mm) along the heading.
3. Roll and whip the fabric edge with a zigzag (width about 4mm, length 1mm). Let the right side of the zigzag go completely over the edge of the fabric.

And I'll be tagging...
Kellie: Check out her yummy swiss dot dress.
Nancy: Who just completed a fantastic swap and is still sewing strong.
Elaine: Currently showcasing some vintage pillowcases.
Tamara: Like me, having a hard time finding time.
Bunny: Amazing vintage laces, clever tips and beautiful vintage handwork.

Okay, ladies, you're It!

Friday, May 9, 2008

An Experiment

Evidently I'm not the only person who struggles to fit sewing into busy days. I know that Kat, Sherril and Jemima Bean have all posted recently about the things that keep them out of their sewing rooms. I need to find a way to fit in some sewing every day, without letting the sewing grab more than it's allotted share of time.

I know I said a week or so ago that I was just going to find some time to sew everyday, even if it was just for a few minutes. What I found was that that was too open ended for me. I could find a few minutes, but 10 minutes soon became 20, and 20 became 40 and 3 hours later, I realized that it was time to go to bed and the dinner dishes were still in the sink.

So here is what I intend to try. Starting on May 15th for 30 days, I'm going to devote 30 minutes - and only 30 minutes - each week day to sewing. I think it will be interesting to see how much I can actually accomplish on that kind of schedule. I've always relied on large blocks of time to finish sewing projects so it will require some creative planning on my part to make it work, as well as trying some new methods and techniques to streamline my work.

I'm giving myself one free day each weekend on which I can sew as much as I have time for - that will usually be Saturday - and the other day I'll be back to my 30 minute limit.

I'll be posting here daily about my progress, just a quick blurb to hold myself accountable. I'm sure you all have some strategies for finding time to sew, and I'd love to hear about them here.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

What I Want / What I Need

A comment was made over on PatternReview about the amount of "stuff" that's required to sew. This got me much stuff do we really need?

I have a healthy assortment of gadgets and notions, but the number of items I use regularly is pretty small. In fact, other than my sewing machine (and associated feet) and my iron, the things you see in the photo are pretty much what I use when I sew.

I'm not saying there aren't things that I want. I'd love a pressing ham and a seam roll and one of those fancy-pants tube turners would be nice (although mine works perfectly well), but I don't actually need them (and just so you'll know, I'm too cheap to buy them).

I have nine things in my list of indispensables: paper scissors, dressmaker's shears, embroidery scissors, pins, tape measure, seam ripper, ruler, hand sewing needles and chalk marking pencil.

What's on your list?

A Junco Palace

I said yesterday that if the weather cooperated, I would get pictures of the junco nest up under our eaves posted. For once, the weather did cooperate!

Those little birds have worked their tails off building this nest and it is driving my husband crazy. Juncos are small birds and the nest has gotten "quite" large. He wants to know why they think they need a palace, hence the title of this post. I'm not sure if it's complete; I don't think it grew any larger today, but I'm not sure. For reference, the beam on which the nest is built is 2 x 12 dimensional lumber.

Without any further ado, here are the pix.

A close-up. This is as close as I could get with the zoom on my relatively inexpensive and ancient digital camera.

Zoomed out a tad so you can see how far down it trails. It's a little longer and fuller on this side than the other.

Finally, I zoomed out all the way so you could see how the nest looks as you approach the house. You can see where some construction debris has fallen and caught on the window frames.

The nest was empty when I took the photos. The nest is so tall now that I'm not even sure how the birds will get in and out; I'm not sure if you can tell from the photos, but it very nearly touches the soffit.

I did not get any sewing in today at all but I am still thinking about it. I may try an experiment; I will post about that tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Just Thinking About Sewing

Do you suppose that counts as a sewing related activity?

In view of the fact that I spent far too much time sewing yesterday, I'm taking a break today. I'm so close to finishing that I know I wouldn't stop until I was finished, and I can't afford the time today. So I've spent some time thinking about the best way to fit sewing into my schedule. It's making my head hurt.

On a completely unrelated topic, some adorable dark-eyed juncos have taken up housekeeping under the eaves of our house. My daughter and I are thrilled, as juncos are among our favorites of the birds that frequent our yard. If the weather is decent tomorrow, I'll try to get a picture of the nest. I must say that by comparison with Mr. and Mrs. Junco, we keep a pretty tidy home.

That's Mrs. Junco on the top, by the way, and Mr. Junco on the bottom. For those of you east of the Rockies, I'll just point out that our western Juncos differ from the ones you see by having a white band on either side of the tail. It's not that noticeable on the females, but it's quite striking on the males.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Best Laid Plans

I believe I may have discovered a flaw in my plan to engage in some sewing related activity every day. I theory, this sounds like an excellent plan; each day you find ten or 15 minute to pre-wash a fabric, stitch a seam or to, hand stitch a hem or whatever activity fits the available time.

In practice, my question to you is: once started, how the heck are you supposed to stop? I obviously lack the discipline to just do a little bit, then lay it aside for the next day. So rather than have a nicely cut garment, waiting to be stitched together in easy stages, I have a nearly completed tunic despite several other important tasks awaiting my attention. Like carpets to be vacuumed. Like dishes to be washed. Like paying work.

The BWOF girl's tunic top is coming along nicely, despite my inability to understand their instructions. As I said before, I am liberated! I can do it however I want! And keep my fingers crossed that it all works out in the end!

I just turned my sewing machine OFF. That means, no more sewing today. I'll easily be able to finish up tomorrow, even if I decide to add patch pockets; it's very cute, but seems a little plain.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Next Up...

Is the tunic top to go with the BWOF pants I just finished. I'm using pattern #140 from the April, 2008 issue. The pattern is traced and cut out, the fabric is pre-washed and pressed so I'll be ready to pin and cut out tomorrow.

I also pre-washed the practice fabric for the Maggy London dress for my daughter. I think I'm going to start with a size 6 and cut extra wide seam allowances just in case. Anyway, I'll be tracing that pattern as well, just in case I need to go up a size for the real deal. Here's the practice fabric she chose. It's so cute, I hope I can make the dress work. Maybe with some red piping.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Lazy Sunday

After spending nearly all day yesterday in my (so-called) sewing room, I took kind of a lazy day off today. I did get in a sewing related activity, though. After shopping for a dress with my oldest daughter, we hit Joann to pick up a pattern for a dress that I'm going to make for her to wear in her brother-in-law's wedding. It's Butterick 4915, which you can see to the right.

Her measurements call for a size 8 in the bust and waist, and a 10 at the hip. Since the dress is so full below the waist, I'm thinking I can disregard that measurement entirely.

One thing I'm not sure about, though, is the fabric. The pattern envelope lists Matte Jersey, Lightweight Crepe, Soft Faille and Stretch Velvet. So some of those are knits and some are wovens, right? We're thinking about crepe-backed satin for the real dress, using a combination of the shiny and matte sides.

We did pick up some inexpensive cotton to use as a muslin, but I'm not anticipating any real fitting issues, other than she is quite short and a little broad across the back. It seems like this style should be easy to fit, but maybe this is a case where ignorance is bliss.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Burda World of Fashion - Conquered!

The little pants are finished and they are cute, cute, cute. At least, that's my opinion. My 16 year old daughter is both appalled that anyone would make them and relieved that she's no longer young enough to be forced to wear them. You can decide for yourself.

Now I'll just keep my fingers crossed that my daughter and granddaughter like them. They look a little more like bloomers than the ones pictured in the magazine did, but I suspect that is at least partially due to my choice of fabric. The ones in the magazine were made out of fabric that could most accurately be called drab. The fabric I chose is a linen/rayon blend, which I hope will be comfortable in the Texas summer heat.

A few details...

I used my narrow hem foot to hem the ruffles. Even going slow, this must be about 1,000 times faster than doing it by folding and pressing. Also, no burned fingers, a nice plus!

I added a "K Brand" label to help my granddaughter tell the front of the pants from the back.

The leg casing with drawstring inserted.

ETA: Lindsey, if you're reading this, the pants don't really look that much like bloomers. I think I may have sewn the wasit elastic too short, and that may be where the resemblance comes from. I forgot what you said the waist measurement of her pants was.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Burda Update, 5/2/08

I know I said I was going to wait until Saturday morning to deconstruct the #139 pants, but my husband mentioned that we might go to FlowerWorld and I did not want anything to stand in the way of that! So I'm back to where I was two days ago. Actually, I'm slightly ahead of that, as I went ahead and stitched the ends of the waist elastic together and closed the opening in the casing.

Now it's time to get started on the ruffles. The ruffles are made from a 3" by 42" piece of fabric. Yes, you read that correctly. That's 42 inches of fabric to ruffle...for a pant leg! That's "quite" a lot of ruffle; I'll probably do a double row of basting stitches since the ruffle will be so dense.

But before I worry about that, I need to hem the darn things, so it's back to work with my narrow hem foot.

23:35 Pacific Time: Both ruffles are hemmed!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Burda Update, 5/1/08

The little linen pants are just sitting here, waiting for me to deconstruct them. I am so seriously not in the mood for that right now. That's a project for first thing in the morning, so maybe on Saturday.

I had mentioned before that I wanted to make a top to go with the pants, #140 from the BWOF April/08 issue. I really wanted a nice white cotton with tiny pink rosebuds; unfortunately I couldn't find any. There were plenty of fabrics with dainty rosebuds, but all on cream backgrounds. So I went in a completely different direction an picked the daisy fabric on the right.

The blue fabric on the left will be used for the casings and drawstrings on the pants. I may also put a bow at the center front waist to mimic a drawstring.

My 16 year old daughter wants blouse 114; apparently she has a desert hike planned and doesn't have a thing to wear. Anyway, the blouse is two dots; I think I can probably handle that.

Before I get to that, though, she's been patiently waiting for me to make her a purse from some Asian-inspired brocades she picked out. Then a top for me, then the Burda top. I'm trying to take a page from the Everyday Sewist's playbook and do something every day, even if it's just pre-washing a fabric. Not my usual modus operandi, but maybe I can make it work.


Just got a text message from my daughter...the mother of my it turns out, little Missy is not, after all, 43 inches tall, but rather 39 inches tall.

No wonder these pants look so freaking long! The next time I see my daughter, she gets a slap upside the head before she gets a hug.

I'm thinking I need to shorten these by maybe 3 inches. Here's the million dollar question: do you think that any of that length needs to be taken from the crotch depth, or do you think it's okay to take it all from the bottom. Well, not the bottom, exactly. I'm going to cut off that bottom extension, cut the length off of the bottom of the upper pant leg, then sew the extension back on. That way I'll keep the extension from becoming so narrow that it just looks stupid and save my good work on that casing.

So what do you think: Shorten them at the top or not?

And on another front, I found out last night that my favorite Joann is going be be closing permanently around the middle of July. True, there's another Joann equidistant from my home in the other direction, and that the other one happens to be a huge, clean, well organized facility, while the other is small, cramped and incredibly disorganized (NOTE: this is coming from someone who called her blog, "Sew Confused," so you can get some idea of just how disorganized this place is). However - and this is big - the small store carries a much better selection of fashion fabric than the bigger one. That big one is filled up with craft supplies, bolt after bolt of quilting cotton, decorator fabrics, cheap (in the worst possible sense) decor and every color and pattern of fleece imaginable. Fashion fabrics? Not so much.

So in the long run, that pretty much sucks. However - and this is big, too - there's going to be a liquidation sale. So as Ma Ingalls would have said, "There's no great loss without some small gain."