Monday, August 31, 2009

A Look Inside My Lull

There was a lull in sewing last week for a couple of reasons, the heat and poor sleep. I am at that peri-menopausal point where I have a really difficult time sleeping. I'm usually hot which is a problem because DH's heart medicine makes him cold. This combination usually finds me asleep on the couch in the cool bar basement or in the guest bed with the overhead fan on high. Plus, even if I'm comfortable temperature-wise, sometimes I can't get to sleep or I can't stay asleep or I wake up in the middle of the night unable to get back to sleep. The result is that I'm tired, sluggish and unmotivated to do much.

Add to the sleep issue hot & humid temperatures and I lost several days of sewing. We've had such great unseasonably cool weather that last couple of weeks that I was caught off guard when we had 2 days around 90 degrees with typical August humidity. Thinking I would just make it through was a mistake. Although my office was o.k. (It is in the basement.) my sewing studio was miserable. The weekend brought yard and house work.

But all was not lost. Wednesday I spent most of the day with my youngest daughter, Chef M. (Technically she's not a chef but she's working on it!) We met for coffee then hit the last day of the YMCA book fair. Books were $10 for any size box you could carry. Chef M. found some cookbooks along with some sci-fi novels for her SO. I found these items. The Stitch by Stitch book has a variety of knit, crochet, & sewing projects. I purchased it for the knitted lace baby blanket project. There is an interesting needlepoint/cross stitch Santa in the Holidays in Cross Stitch book. And the tailoring book is from Palmer/Pletsch, always a good resource.

Chef M and I hit the local Goodwill store also. In addition to be a talented cook, she also has the knack of finding great buys at thrift shops. I have lost count of the number of times I have commented and her clothes and her reply is she got it at Goodwill. I'm looking for a man's brown cardigan I can use in the needle felting project from the current issue of Sew Stylish. No luck that day, but I'll keep checking back.

I spent a lot of time this past week searching for the trim for my Chanel-style jacket I'm working on. Here is my fabric. The variegated cross yarn can be pulled out easily. So I tried braiding it, weaving it, crocheting it and knitting an I-cord. Nope. Didn't look right. So I purchased lots of samples of trims from a LFS. They were too wide, too narrow, too plain, too intricate. I tried black, white & black & white. I considered grosgrain ribbon, petersham, (I was amazed that the manager of the LFS did not know the difference between petersham and grosgrain ribbon. How sad.) satin ribbon, silk bias ribbon. I spent hours looking at trims on the Internet. Nothing really seemed right.
Then yesterday as really a last ditch effort I stopped in at Jo-Ann's and bought about 6 or 8 more samples of trim. Lo and behold, one of them looks really good, and I am trying out adding the variegated yarn from the fabric. I should have a sample by the middle of the week. I'm so excited!

Just need to make buttonholes and sew on the buttons of my Bells shirt and it will be finished. I hope to do that this evening.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Disappearing UFO's

Here are 2 completed UFO's.
The one on the left was driving me crazy about the buttons. Hence, the time in the button box yesterday.

The Home Sweet Home is cross stitched on paper. The stitching has been completed for years. I was trying to figure out the "best" framing for it. I found this frame recently and decided to "just do it". The frame has a history. It hung above the couch (along with 4 others) in my childhood home. The frames held pictures of me and my four brothers. I'm not sure how I ended up with 3 of the frames, where the other frame is, nor where the pictures went, but it brings back good memories.

Button, Button, Who's Got the Button?

I spent time yesterday studying my button box. I was looking for some buttons for my current UFO project and became captivated by the variety of buttons I possess. I could easily become a pat rack. I fight the urge to save every little scrap of fabric no matter how small. I have spools of half used thread dating back to my high school days. (I don't use it in my sewing machine, but I do baste with it.) So it's no surprise I have buttons 30+ years old. I also received my DMIL's button tin when she died. Most of my buttons are singles. I save every "extra" button from clothes I purchase. But yesterday I discovered a lot of matching buttons.
  • Most of the matches were in 3's or 4's.
  • Most of the matches were large buttons, 1" or more in diameter.
  • Several of the matches had lots of buttons, 10 or more.

I found 3 really large buttons, 2" dia., with squirrels on them. (These were in my DMIL's collection. Hmm, I wonder what she put those on?) And several groups from her tin had sparkly stones on them. I am really curious about these since DMIL was very much a down-to-earth, utilitarian kind of person.

Pictured here are 2 groups of buttons that really caught my attention. The first is the pink group. There are 50 of these little pink buttons. I would love to hear their story. I can't imagine any garment needing 50 buttons. Why so many? Did she use the same button on multiple garments? And the color is out of character for DMIL. Neither her (nor DSIL's) coloring was good with this shade of pink. But I feel there must be a story here.

The 2nd picture is a sampling of all the white buttons I identified that were made from some kind of heavy "glass" or "stone" material. All the buttons (even the dirty ones) have a distinctive sheen. It reminds me a little of mother of pearl. But I don't think that is what the material is. I love the square button and really wish there was more than just this one. Also, the group strung together is especially nice. My immediate thought was a coat. I am also considering some kind of blouse or shirt using an assortment of similar, mismatched buttons. I've seen this done a couple of times and it was very striking. I hope I can pull it off.

I had a wonderful time yesterday with my button box. The buttons called up old memories and provided inspiration for several garments. What's in your button box?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

P-R-O-G-R-E-S-S, Progress

I've been really tired this week but I have spent time every evening on my projects.

Here's a picture of my Sewing Workshop Bells shirt. This is that fabulous silk/bamboo fabric. The color is really chambray, not purple-ish. It's a great color that will fit in my wardrobe with no problem. I have all 3 front bands on the body of the shirt. Yes, that's right. I said 3 front bands. There is a "floating" band on left side in addition to the regular front band. It is attached for about 4" at the top, then "floats" freely. It will have buttonholes so it can buttoned "in many interesting" ways, according to the pattern. The fit is still bothering me. It is better now that I have the front bands on. But I still don't think I would call this a semi-fitted garment. It's pretty fitted around the arms and bust. All in all, I really like this garment. Did I mention the fabric is fabulous?

Here is the counted cross stitch UFO I'm finishing up. I had trouble finding the right color buttons. Who knew it was such a big deal finding light and dark wood tone buttons. I just need to sew on the buttons and then frame it and it will be finished. Yeah! I like the pillow finishing shown, but darn it--I already have the frame and I don't want to waste it. (Obviously, being well organized I purchased the frame at the time I purchased the cloth and pattern. That'll teach me!)

And finally, I decided on my fabric for my Go Chanel or Go Home sew-along. I had almost decided to go with a purple/black/grey fabric I purchased at Vogue Fabrics some time back. I had the 2 yds the pattern calls for, but I just couldn't get comfortable with my choice. I checked around the online shops for possible trim and buttons and nothing really jumped out at me as looking great with the fabric. So I pulled out my swatches this morning and decided to go with this fabric. It is a wool boucle. I bought it at the Puyallup Sewing show from Peggy Sagers at Silhouette Patterns. I have about 3-1/2 yds. I can cut those 2" wide seam allowances and not worry. Also, if something happens and I need to recut a piece, I will have the fabric to do that. I feel really good about my choice. I'm excited about finding trim and buttons. I just wasn't excited with my first almost-choice of fabric. Now I need to go post about my progress with the jacket on the Go Chanel blog.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Back In The Saddle Again

I'm home from my business trip and no more house guests so I spent time this weekend sewing and working on another UFO. Progress was made on each front.

On the sewing front, I started a Sewing Workshop shirt, Bells, from the Bells & Whistles pattern. I am using this very awesome silk/bamboo fabric (Did I mention how luxurious, indulgent and just plain awesome this fabric is?) from my friend Londa. I do not believe I have ever worked with a fabric so beautiful. The hand is soft, it sews like a dream, presses even better, feels wonderful on. I'm very impressed with this fabric. I should finish this shirt this week and I'll post picture then.

I guess I haven't used Sewing Workshop patterns before. I am disappointed that there aren't any finished garment measurements. I measured the flat pattern and figured I would be o.k. cutting my normal size. But--it's going to be what I would call "fitted", not "semi-fitted" as the pattern description states. Other than that, I am pleased with the pattern so far. (I'm about half way finished.) Linda Lee writes great directions, and gives great tips for a professional finish. I have 2 of her books, Mastering Miters and Sewing Edges and Corners. Both are great references.

On the UFO front, nothing completed this weekend--but I'm close! I am finishing up another cross stitch project. The stitching is done on linen over 2 threads. I was having such a hard time counting the threads that I broke down today and bought one of those hang-around-your-neck-lighted-magnifying glasses. Wow! That really helped these old eyes of mine. I hope to finish this project in the next day or so and I'll post a picture.

On the Go Chanel or Go Home front, I took my pattern and fabric swatches with me last week to mull over. I'm still a little undecided about the fabric. I have it narrowed down to 2 possibilities. I bought muslin for my test garment so while I work on that I can continue stewing over the fabric selection.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

On The Road Again

No sewing this past week. DD and her 4 children surprised me with a visit. It was a fabulous time. I love spending time with my daughter, and my grandchildren are such a source of pleasure. Although worn out and in need of extra sleep today, I thoroughly enjoy having all of them around!

And, unfortunately, I will be traveling on business again this week. So no sewing until next weekend.

I did manage to complete another UFO. I finished cross stitching a bread cloth. It took maybe an hour to finish up the outlining. I am surprised at how many of my UFO's can be completed with just a little investment of time. I wonder why I didn't finish these items way back when. The good thing is I get a real sense of accomplishment when I do finish another project.

And speaking of projects, I have joined the Go Chanel or Go Home sew along. I'm really excited to be sewing a Chanel-style jacket. I've never tackled anything like this. Check all the excitement over there.

I won't be duplicating my Chanel posts. I'll have other projects (aka UFO's) to write about here.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


An unplanned, unexpected, emergency business trip interrupted my sewing last week. But I was able to spend most of this weekend in my studio working on the UFO list.

I finished this little knitted purse. I knit the pieces 2 years ago. It just laid in a heap on a shelf in my sewing studio ever since. I thought it would be a snap to sew together. Wrong! Unexpectedly it took me about 4 hours to finish this. Admittedly, part of that time (about an hour) was spent adding a lining, but still it took another 3 hours to do all the finishing. I'm not entirely happy with it. It is soft and floppy. I wish I had added something on the bottom to at least make the bottom more sturdy, but I don't know the first thing about making purses and consequently, have none of those materials. I thought about just using cardboard, but decided not to. It could bend and get a crease; if the purse got wet on the bottom it would get mushy; the sharp edges might cut the yarn. I decided cardboard would not be a good choice. So now that the purse is finished I'm not sure what to do with it except MARK 1 MORE ITEM OFF THE UFO LIST! YEAH!
I give up on the machine hemstitching. I just don't get the how the wing needle works. I spent several more hours today trying all the different decorative stitches on my Bernina and trying several techniques from the book, Fine Machine Sewing. I wasn't able to come up with anything that I thought looked even remotely acceptable. Again, an unexpected turn of events. I decided to just turn a wide hem and topstitch. I think the table cover will be fine. I am disappointed that I am unable to bring my idea to fruition, but I believe reality is taking over this project.