Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Love/Hate Relationships

I made my list. I checked it twice. But when I walked in the door to Jackman's Fabrics this morning the list (mostly) walked right back out the door. Right there, front & center, smacking me in the face were the two cutest little girl outfits! (And, I do have the cutest little princess for a granddaughter.) I have a love/hate relationship with this store. I love the fabric and the super-wide selection of books and independent patterns, but their fabrics are a little pricey. So I shop their judiciously, especially these days.

So here is what I got for my hard earned money today:

From The List: purple Minkee for a scarf for oldest DGD and the book Sew Easy Pajama Pants to make the same DGD a pair of pajama pants for Christmas.

The rest of The List consisted of 4 pieces of knit ribbing for some tops I planned to make for youngest DGS. Instead I was thrown off by these patterns from The Children's Corner: Robin's Little Jacket and Abbie. The Abbie outfit will be darling in pink & brown teeny-tiny polka dots for the top and brown pants. The Robin's Little Jacket is adorable with some red & black Scottie fabric for the jacket and black pants. The Store had a design sheet for adding a gathered peplum to the jacket with some really cute coordinating plaid fabric. And the pants are trimmed with Scottie fabric and red & black rick-rack. I'm pre-washing the fabric right now so I can get started on these projects tonight.

I also stopped at Hancock's to pick up some flannel for the pajama pants. I finally decided on a blue/pink big flowers print, but I think I am going to have to find a better source for flannel. I never did find the ribbing I was looking for. I have another Hancock's and a JoAnn's I can check out, but I may be looking for an online source that will ship quickly.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I Think These Are Great!

I was surfing around the 'net just now and found these great gift tags for handmade items. These are designed for hand knit/crochet items, but they would be super easy to create on my computer and adapt to any number of handmade/homemade gifts.

Catching Up

I'm importing Christmas music to iTunes right now so I thought this would be a good time to catch up.

First, I survived the 'dreaded sales meeting'! It was way too long, way too boring and mostly, unnecessary. The Love of My Life pointed out that the meeting wasn't actually a "sales meeting" but rather a "territory business planning meeting", but, hey, 'dreaded territory business planning meeting' just doesn't have the same ring to it as 'dreaded sales meeting'. Anyway it's over for this year. The final thought I have about it is this: I was reminded yet again that when you are well groomed, in stylish, well-fitting, occasion-appropriate clothing, it can make a tremendous difference in how you are perceived by others.

We had a quiet Thanksgiving with DS and our youngest DD and her SO. DD recently started a new job as an entry level chef in a kitchen at an upscale retirement community. She has warned us all through culinary school that chefs work hardest during holidays and this is proving to be true. We ate our family dinner at 11 a.m. because she had to be at work at 2 p.m. When I asked her about her schedule during the month of December she informed me she had very little free time due to extra baking, etc. at work. I am so very proud of her. She has worked long and hard to get to this point, but selfishly--I miss the time we used to spend together baking, shopping and just hanging out.

Last weekend I spent a couple of hours looking for a specific piece of fabric I wanted to use to make a vest I had in mind. I finally found the fabric, but along the way I found a couple UFO's I decided to finish before starting something new. The first garment is a red bolero from an old BWOF. It was all cut out. The fabric is this great red, soft knit with a shiny thread running through it. Very holiday-y. Also very easy. I can't imagine why I didn't complete it. Of course, I can't even remember when I started it. Yesterday I sat down for a couple of hours and worked on it. I am ready to sew in the lining. Then turn it right side out, due a little hand work and it will be finished. I think it will look very festive with black slacks.

UFO#2 I'm not going into detail about. It is something for a special person and I'm going to work to finish that up as a present for that person. After I finish UFO#2 I will be busy with some Christmas gifts. Maybe after Christmas I'll be able to get back to the vest.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Final Piece

So here's the jacket that goes with the slacks that will be worn at the 'dreaded sales meeting' tomorrow. (Oh, I forgot to mention that because The Love of my Live was so sick last week, the meeting was postponed to this week.)

Pattern: V2919 (now out of print)
Size: 6-20 I cut my usual size 18, narrowed the shoulder as usual. The jacket fits great which is weird since the slacks were so darn oversized.
Fabric: Purple wool tweed from my stash. Originally purchased from Fashion Sewing Group back in 2003.
Description: (from pattern envelope): Lined jacket has princess seams, front and back darts, stand-up collar and hook and eye closure
Comments: This jacket is easy fitting and easy to make. No buttonholes, no sleeve vents, no attached collar make construction a breeze. It's a good basic jacket that leaves room for creativity with the closures or coordinating fabric on the foldback collar.

Hand Stitching = Couture, Right?

When I first pulled out these black slacks to finish for the 'dreaded sales meeting' I was thrilled out how far along I was. The lining was in, the zipper was in, the waistband was attached…all I needed to do to finish up was attach the waistband lining and hem the pants. Cool! But then as I took a more in-depth look, I realized why I had set these aside. Somehow when I originally attached the waistband facing I missed something in the directions and had sewed it on backwards—too short on end, way long on the other.

No problem I thought. I'll just take it off and switch the ends. Not so easy, I found out. The waistband pieces are shaped and because of the fly front, there is a definite left and right side. I had to cut new ends. Then I had to cut new interfacing and fuse it. OK, back to sewing. Carefully (I thought) I sewed the waistband facing together, then to the waistband. But now I ended up with some raw edges at the zipper front. Ergh! I took it apart again. Tried again, and still ended up with raw edges. So what to do?

I folded all the raw edges to the inside the way they should end up. At first I thought if I could see how it should look finished I would see how to do the construction. Wrong! I still couldn't figure out how not to end up exactly the same. So I spent about an hour hand stitching all the seams at both ends of the waistband, then attaching the waistband to the zipper, then tacking the waisting band on the inside. So I decided that with all that hand stitching—I'm choosing to looking at these slacks as 'couture'. A much better outlook than remembering how much work they were.

Pattern: V2919
Sizes: 6-20 (I cut an 18 (my usual size) but it was way too big. I very easily could have gone down 2 sizes.
Fabric: Mystery black fabric from stash. It is medium weight, tightly woven, with a slight shine, not wool. Great drape!
Description (from pattern envelope): Lined pants have straight legs, front pleats, side seam pockets, fly front and self-faced yoke with carriers.
Comments: I love these pants even though I had so much trouble with the waistband. I really like the soft style for a change of pace. The shaped waistband seems to accommodate the extra fabric I often end up with on so many slacks. These slacks just have a great fit. I want to make another pair so I can figure out the waistband construction.

Down(graded) But (Not) Out

While on my business trip about 10 days ago I received an urgent voice mail message from the sales manager spearheading the 'dreaded sales meeting'. Be still my beating heart! Could it be that he was cancelling the meeting? Or, at least changing it to a phone conference call? No, of course I wouldn't be that lucky. He was calling to tell me that the EVP of Sales/Marketing no longer felt he needed to attend our meeting and neither did the marketing manager. So the meeting would consist of just him (the sales manager), my DH aka The Love of my Life and me. The meeting was downgraded!

What? Obviously my sales manager didn't realize I had been sewing like the wind to create these two new outfits. What were these people thinking, cancelling like this? I quickly recovered realizing that I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. The 'dreaded sales meeting" would no longer be quite so dreaded—not so long, not so boring, not such a colossal waste of time.

So I arrived home from my trip ready to finish the slacks and jacket. Which I did while nursing a very sick Love of my Life. Poor guy was really sick last week. But he's better now and finally was able to take pictures of my jacket and slacks.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dreaded Sales Meeting Sewing

I accomplished a lot on my jacket for the upcoming sales meeting. This is a good thing since I realized I will be out of town 3 days this week. I am sewing the lining sleeves to the lining body tonight, then will be ready to insert the lining in the jacket when I return home Friday.

Thank goodness for poker! The Love of my Life plays poker once a month and Saturday is the night. I'll be able to sew late into the wee hours of the morning waiting up for him.

Since I will have considerable travel time for my trip this week I was figuring out what I might knit from my yarn stash. Hmm. Not too much choice actually. Socks, socks or socks? (I only stash sock yarn which pleases The Love of my Life.) When I opened up my little sock knitting bag, I found the black lace socks I have been knitting on for like 2 years! I still have not finished them! They were the second pair of socks I decided to knit. I loved the lacy pattern and the ever so soft silk & wool yarn, but truth be told, the pattern was just a bit too difficult for the novice knitter I was then. So I became discouraged and put them aside. I have periodically worked on them and they are almost finished. In the meantime I have knit 2 or 3 other pairs of socks, a couple of sweaters, a couple of purses, a nightgown, and a cardigan. So I will take them along and try to finish them up before starting on the next pair of socks.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Vogue 7264

Pictures to be posted after my photographer returns home! (He's home!)

I finished my first project for the dreaded sales meeting.

Pattern: Vogue 7264; This is a Sandra Betzina Today's Fit pattern.
Sizes: A-J; (I cut an E but see the adjustments below.)
Fabric: A moderate stretch knit from The Stash. It was 2-sided, light gray/dark gray and I thought I would be able to take advantage of that fact, but I have decided that color blocking just doesn't look good on me.
Description: (from the pattern envelope) "Close-fitting, pullover top has neckline variations, optional shoulder pads and below elbow or long sleeves. Narrow hem. Close-fitting, straight or slightly tapered, mock wrap skirt, below mid-knee or above ankle, has elastic waist casing and shaped front overlay."
Comments: I really liked this pattern. Based on the measurements I cut a size E, but took in the skirt at least 2-1/2". However, the top fits great. I usually have to shorten the lengths of all my garments and I did this to the sleeves. They ended up being almost too short. When I make these garments again (and I really think I will) I will actually add 1/2" to the sleeves just for a little safe guarding. Also, I made the skirt the length I have been wearing for the last couple of years, but I think this would look better if it was just below my knees. I didn't have enough length for that option so again, I think I will add some length to check that out.
My cowl neck doesn't fall quite as softly as I had hoped but it's o.k.
Will You Make This Again?: Definitely. I like the way the top and skirt fit and they are easy to construct.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Little This & That

Wow! Did you see the Fall/Winter 2008 Silhouette Patterns Magazine? I really liked the presentation of the patterns shown on more realistic looking women. Not the typical emaciated, 14-yo model type you usually see in magazines. The clothes also had realness to them. I could see myself wearing a lot of what was shown.

I have only made one Silhouette pattern. It was a reversible jacket and I'm not sure the pattern is available anymore. I don't need the different cup size measurements like so many women do, so I guess that's why I haven't explored this pattern line. I did meet & talk with Peggy Sager (the designer behind the Silhouette name) at Puyallup one year. She is awesome!

I really liked Valerie's Top & the Wrap Around Skirt on pg. 10. Anne's Top on pg. 13 was reviewed by Ann on her blog, Gorgeous Things. The Betsy's Jacket on pg. 23 is a dead ringer for a black jacket I have and love which is looking really worn and needs to go. Those are my top favorites.

My sewing for the dreaded sales meeting is coming along pretty much on schedule. The black pants are almost finished. I just have some hand stitching to do on the waistband. The skirt and top are cut out and the skirt is about 1/3 complete. A lot of the pre-sewing work is done on the jacket. The pattern pieces are cut out and tissue alterations complete. I have finished pre-shrinking the fabric. So I'm ready to cut out the jacket I think.

I can't figure out how to update my Shelfari link. I read a lot and I visit the Shelfari website and update my reading lists there, but I can't for the life of me figure out how to get it to update over here on my blog. It's pretty frustrating since I tend to be anal about those kinds of things.
I hope every legally registered American voter takes time to vote today!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Those Lazy Days of Summer

Number 1 on my November sewing plan was to clean up my sewing room so I could actually starting sewing on the black pants et al. It wasn't a huge job. I'm a pretty neat seamstress. I'm one of those everything-has-place-and-everything-in-its-place kind of people. But I did have some fabric scraps laying around from summer projects, patterns that needed to be filed--that sort of stuff.
So before I file this pattern away I decided to post a picture of my creation, mostly because I just love this dress. I love the styling, the fabric, the way I feel when I wear it, the way The Love of My Life looks at me when I wear it--just everything about it.
Pattern: Vogue 1027
Sizes: Misses 6-22
Fabric: A soft 4-way stretch knit from Textile Studios; pink and black geometric print.
Description: (from the pattern envelope) "Calf length dress has semi-fitted, pleated and lapped bodice, bias skirt with inseam pockets and stitched hems."
I didn't put the pockets in because I knew I would end up putting my hands in them and that would spoil the look. The description doesn't mention the tie belt at the raised waist (both of which are easily seen on the pattern photos). I didn't think I would like the belt and I didn't think I would need the design interest with the print, but I was wrong. I ended up hand stitching the belt in place. However, I wish I had had enough fabric to make the belt double sided. The pattern calls for just turning the edges and stitching.
Would You Make This Again?: Yes, definitely. I would love to find another great soft knit like this and make a solid color version. And if I could figure out a way to make the sleeves longer, it would be awesome in the winter!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I Just Can't Take Any More!

While talking to a friend the other day he commented about how uptight and anxious and I seemed. "Yes," I replied. "I am very concerned about the state of politics right now. It is just so hate-filled! As much as I love following politics, I think I've OD'd on it."

"Well," he said, "You can always quit watching the news and listening to talk radio. Why don't you spend that time sewing?"

Well, duh! Now that's a thought!

So I immediately quit watching TV, turned off the talk radio and promptly spent 12 hours Saturday doing techy, geeky stuff in my office (with the pleasant, reliable help of my techy and ever-so-smart DS). I spent Sunday with The Love of My Life. Monday was a 12-hour day at work, but I did spend 10 minutes doing some thinking-and-planning-about-sewing in my head.

I have a 1-1/2 day meeting in mid-November that I'm dreading. So, I reasoned to myself, why not look fabulous while wasting, I mean, spending, time at these dulls meetings? Seems very reasonable to me. Here's what I came up with.

I have some black slacks under construction from this pattern.

I found some plum herringbone wool for the jacket in my stash. Since purple is all the rage this fall/winter. I figure it will work great.

I tried taking pictures of the fabric, but haven't mastered the technique of photographing textiles yet.

For the second outfit, I choose this pattern and will use a wool double knit from my stash. It is a reversible knit (grey/charcoal) which I think I will be able to use effectively in the front skirt panel and also possibly the sleeves.

The meetings begin one afternoon, followed by dinner. The 2nd day starts in the morning, then a working lunch and wraps up late afternoon. The plan is to wear the knit top/skirt the first afternoon and out to dinner; the pant suit the second day.

This plan is going to require sewing way more than 10 minutes a day. But I'm very excited about these choices. By this evening I'll have a sewing plan on paper to accomplish my goal.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Does Absence Really Make the Heart Grow Fonder?

It's funny how time slips away, little by little, until whoa! Months are gone and everyone is saying, "I can't believe it's October already. Pretty soon Christmas will be here." Another frequently heard comment is, "Can you believe 2008 is almost over?" But I love it most when my children tell me how close they are to 30. Just this past weekend my handsome son in his almost-late 20's was lamenting to me that he was "almost 30 and ya' know what that means". Well, I'm not sure at all what he means, but I do know that way too much time has passed without posting here.

So the Cliff Notes version of the last 3-4 months is this: Early summer brought me some really tough personal issues to confront. That done, I realized that half the summer was gone so I quickly sewed some summer clothes. In my hurry I figured I would blog about each item "later". If its and buts were candy & nuts, we'd all have a Merry Christmas! So here it is October. No blogging and no pictures of the cute summer clothes.

My latest excuse is the crazy hot weather we had this Fall. As it continued to heat up every day late into August and then into September and even lingering into October, I just couldn't get into sewing for colder days and my sewing mojo took a leave of absence. Now I am behind in sewing the Fall/Winter wardrobe.

But alas, absence from the sewing room has made me yearn to sew again! So I plunged right in this past weekend. I spent the weekend with my daughter and grandchildren creating a flying squirrel Halloween costume for my 11-yo DGS. It is complete except for the tail. No picture yet but I'm sure his mom will supply me with a picture to post.

Tonight I hemmed 3 pairs of jeans using this method from SewNews. Since I have to shorten all my jeans, this allows me to keep the original hem which looks really nice. I have used this technique numerous times, always with great results! I have 2 pairs of slacks that need to be shortened also. But they are lined and will take a little bit more time.

So one thing I am doing to boost my sewing mojo is to sew for a minimum of 10 minutes every day. I remember reading this tip a long time ago, that if you sew 10 minutes a day every single day you will be amazed at what you can accomplish. So that is my goal--10 minutes a day, every single day. Not 2 or 3 days a week, or most days of the week, but every single day!

The other thing I am doing to boost the mojo is posting here! Watch for more frequent posts!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Is This Too "Young" for Me? - Pattern Review

I saw this jacket over on http://sew-4-fun.blogspot.com/2008/04/project-runway-jacket_21.html and just really really liked it. So I decided to give it a try.

I had this reversible cotton in my stash and used it for the contrast yoke and sleeve band. (The sleeve band was not part of the pattern. I added it to take advantage of the fabric.) So here are the details:

Pattern: Simplicity 3538 Inspired by Project Runway

Fabric: Reversible medium weight cotton

Description: Misses jacket in two lengths with yoke, collar and sleeve variations.

I think this is a cute fun jacket. But I wonder if it is too young-looking for me. I've worn it with jeans and shorts and black slacks and received compliments every time.

I don't think I will make it again. However, because it is a Project Runway pattern all the variations are independent of each other so it will be easy to mix them with other patterns. Also the pattern directions are very detailed. While this isn't an "easy" pattern, it would be excellent as a teaching pattern for a second garment.

For a one season, trendy garment, I like this!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Casual Skirt-Pattern Review

I made this great casual skirt from some reversible cotton lightweight denim.

It is Kwik-Sew 3098, an oldy-but-goody pattern. I topstitched with khaki thread to match the pockets. A center back zipper. What else could be quicker to make and cool & casual to wear all summer long.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My First Dress in How Long? (Pattern Review)

I'm so excited to be posting my first garment! And yes, it's a dress. Just how long has it been since I sewed a dress for myself? Well, I think it was my wedding dress. I'll think on it some more, but I don't remember making any dresses between then and now. Hmm.

This is Vogue 8028. I first saw it in the April/May issue of Vogue Sewing Patterns. Erica over at Erica B's - D.I.Y. Style mentioned it on her blog, even though she actually ended up using a Simplicity shirtwaist pattern.

So here's a brief pattern review:

Pattern Description: Shirtdress in 2 lengths; collar, sleeve, skirt variations, side seam pockets, front & back skirt pleats. Some views shown with purchased belts. Instructions for a sash included.

Sizes: 8-24 Misses (3 size groupings)

How were the instructions? Pretty good instructions. I had some trouble when I attached the collar. I thought the instructions were unclear, but not having attached a collar with a stand for a while, maybe I'm just out of practise. Other than that no problems. I was disappointed that a Vogue pattern didn't have you use a waistline stay, didn't include any type of belt loop, and didn't suggest a hook & eye at the waist closing.

Fabric: Stash fabric! A lightweight woven rayon I picked up about 5 years ago from Londa's Sewing. I actually thought the fabric design was too loud for me (hence using it for the muslin), but I really like it.

Changes? I always have to narrow the shoulders about an inch; shorten the skirt about 1-1/2 inches. This is a wearable muslin for some other fabric and I think I need to move the shoulder seam forward. I'm going to ask a friend tonight at dinner what she thinks. Also, I didn't include the side pockets. Pockets are just invitations for me to put stuff there and I don't need anything else hanging around that area of my body!

Would you make it again? Would you recommend it? Yes, to both questions. I already have some blue cotton/cashmere fabric from Christine Jonson that has been aging in the stash that I will be using to make another shirtwaist dress. And I definitely recommend the pattern for its clean, no fuss lines.

BTW, I really need to find someone to take my pictures. Ooh, the look on my face. Truly I was concentrating, that's all!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sewing Mojo…Lost & Found

Several years ago I went through an emotional crisis that nearly took my life. I didn't just wake up one day and my life fell apart. Rather, gradually over several years my life collapsed from the inside. (Similar to the termites we had our house treated for recently. You don't see the damage until there is a lot of it.) Sewing was a victim of my crisis. No longer did it bring me joy. It was work, but nothing worked out right. Zippers were crooked, seams uneven, sleeves sewn in backward, buttonholes looked homemade. Sewing became a chore and gradually I stopped. I did, however, continue to buy fabric and patterns for a couple of years (and I have a nice stash of both now). But eventually I even stopped buying those things. Then I let my swatch subscriptions lapse, I quit visiting online fabric & sewing sites, I even let all my sewing magazine subscriptions lapse, except Threads, but even they just piled up, unread.

Several months into therapy I started not sleeping. To fill the nights I started knitting again after years (like 20) of not knitting. I discovered several podcasts I really liked and I would listen to them as I knitted the middle of the night away. Knitting was soothing to my soul. The rhythm calmed my brain. The repetition of the pattern met my need for order in my life. When I couldn't figure out life, I could sit down and knit a complicated pattern and feel a sense of accomplishment. Unlike life, if I made a mistake in my knitting I could rip it out and reknit it. I could fix the mistakes in knitting!

In addition, the yarn was soft as it flowed through my fingers. There was something about just touching and feeling the yarn that reminded me of something. Something buried deep inside me, something I couldn't quite reach. Knitting gradually reawakened my love of sewing. I didn't realize what had taken place until recently. But just feeling the yarn in my hands reminded my subconscious of how much I loved handling fabric. When I visited my LYS—oh my! all the colors, the textures, the possibilities! For some reason I found yarn much less intimidating than the fabric in my stash. Knitting projects seemed much less intimidating than sewing projects. And after a year or so and multiple successful knitting projects, the yearning to take a piece of fabric in my hands and create a garment surfaced.

So here I am again. Brimming with ideas to sew, shopping my stash like crazy with a new dilemma. How to find time to knit and sew since I am sleeping all night again!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

AQS Show in Paducah

Back in April I attended (for the first time) the American Quilter's Society show in Paducah, KY. First, I want to say I am not a quilter. But I have a BFF, Londa, who can do things to sweatshirt—well, let me just say "couture", and I was privileged to work in Londa's booth for 3 days of the show.

(I have one experience with quilt making. When my oldest daughter was pregnant with my first grandchild, my beloved MIL suggested making a quilt. My MIL wasn't an avid quilter, but she knew her away around the quilt shop. I loved to sew! I loved my daughter! I loved the grandbaby on the way! I knew I would love making the quilt! I bought the fabric. My MIL pieced the blocks and then came the endless hours of hand quilting. Let me sum it up simply—not my cup of tea! Endless tiny stitches going on forever in the same direction. Finger tips so sore I could barely hold my morning cup of java. I did not, do not, nor will I ever love, or even like, quilting. I told my other children to treat their sister very nice so she would share the quilt with them because that would be the only quilt I ever made!)

So I find it ironic that my friend asked me to help her out at a quilt show. But I had a wonderful time. And the sweatshirt jackets are so beautiful they take your breath away. This wasn't the first time I have helped Londa at a show. And I have actually "created" one jacket of my own with another under construction. I took some fabric remnants with me to Paducah for inspiration and, sure enough, Londa helped me pick the right sweatshirt color, assorted embellishments, awesome buttons and all the other stuff I needed. But the absolute best part was spending time with my BFF, talking, sharing, and just plain hanging out. Thank you , Londa!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Genesis (Not The Band)

This is my first foray into blogging. With the help of my 28-year old son I'm up and running. In trying to come up with a clever title I suggested "Genesis", you know, the beginning. My son (who is very well educated and well read) immediately said to me, "Why are you writing about a band? I thought you wanted to blog about sewing."

My husband wants to know why I'm going to blog about Star Trek? I don't even like Star Trek!

So you won't find info about Genesis the band here, nor is this another Trekkie blog. I love to sew garments and I want to create a written history of my journey. That is what you will find here.

Since I failed Diary 101 as a teenager, please don't expect daily blog entries. My expectation is to post approximately 1x week or when I finish a garment.