Monday, September 5, 2011

Starting to sew my fall wardrobe. First up is a pair of navy slacks, Simplicity 2562. I'm using a beautiful rayon fabric.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Food For Thought

I really enjoy Grandma's Sewing Cabinet, a podcast and blog. I've been listening to the podcast since it's beginning. Dr. Julie-Ann Fann, the owner, has an educational background, and started out just talking about her sewing. However, like many podcasts, it has evolved over time. Recently Dr. Julie-Ann returned to school to study sewing; not design, but rather custom clothing. She has regaled us with stories of her classes and has generously shared lots of great information. (Grandma's Sewing Cabinet gets its name from the cabinet that Dr. Julie-Ann uses as her sewing headquarters. The cabinet was made by her grandfather for her grandmother. Dr. Julie-Ann is lucky enough to have inherited it.)

Her most recent blog post and podcast is titled Plan Your Sewing Like A Designer. Looking at the blogpost I saw all these really fancy pictures of her "look book" for a wardrobe class project. My initial thoughts were about how much time it took to make these illustrated pages. "I'd rather spend that time actually sewing" was another arrogant thought that crossed my mind. And then I listened to the podcast. In her charming manner, Dr. Julie-Ann explained the process she went through to create this "look book". And I humbly admit it is a very worthwhile process.

I am not one of those sewers that buys fabric willy-nilly, paying no attention to color or pattern. I try very hard to sew items that go together and blend in and work with other items in my wardrobe. But recently I've been thinking alot about my lifestyle and how my clothes don't really reflect how I actually live. And the steps Dr. Julie-Ann talks about can really help me out in this area. Thinking of myself as a customer will help me identify what items I need to sew and add to my wardrobe.

For instance, I love wool slacks and tailored jackets. Unfortunately, I work from home and have very little need for a tailored outfit. I think I need to embrace the fact that my lifestyle is casual, not formal or tailored, not business casual, but just plain casual. I could get away with shorts & t-shirts for most of the summer. But I don't really like to dress that way. The challenge is to define what I like to wear in the realm of casual.

I really see the value in Dr. Julie-Ann's process. I don't have the expertise to create beautifully illustrated pages like Dr. Julie-Ann, but I definitely will create my own "look book" and use it on an ongoing basis.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

No Sewing Today

No sewing today but I did make it to my Thursday evening knitting group. I love that time.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mindless Sewing For a Good Cause

This is one of those "friend of a friend of a friend of a friend" stories. The daughter of the sister of our ASG Chapter President is in charge of a fund raising event for a local charity. The event involves participants and their dogs. Each participant gets a goody bag filled with stuff for their dog. Neither the daughter nor the sister sew, so the sister asked the Chapter President if any of her sewing buddies would help make dog collar covers/sleeves. Of course we will help! So I've been sewing these very simple dog collar thingys. Basically it is just sewing a 4" x 30" piece of cotton into a tube. Pretty mindless—serge each end and then serge the wrong sides together. The seam stays on the outside. I've made about 100 so far with another 100 to go.

I'm also working on some pillowcase dresses to send to my friend in West Virginia. She is putting together a box of these dresses to go to little girls in Haiti. My goal is 24, but I don't know if I'll make that by the deadline.

I keep working at cleaning & organizing the sewing studio. I'm looking forward to the stash bash our ASG chapter will have in 2012. I really want to clean out the fabric and pattern stash. I feel weighed down by all the fabric I have that I know I will not ever use. Ever since my time with Nancy Nix-Rice last spring I realize how much fabric I have that is the wrong colors for me. So in addition to taking up way too much physical space it infringes on my creativity. I'll be glad to move it out. I've thought about opening an Etsy shop but that's too much work, taking pictures, setting it up, listing everything, promoting the shop. I'll just put up with it till the stash bash and move it out then. What I don't sell I'll donate somewhere.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lost in the Sewing Studio

Help! I went to my sewing studio last April to sew for The Son's August wedding and I just found my way out. Yep, that's right. The sewing studio swallowed me and only recently did it spit me back out.

I made 2 junior bridesmaid dresses, 2 flower girl dresses, the ring bearer pillow, 2 head bands, my rehearsal dinner dress, and, of course, Mother-of-the-Groom dress. I am so glad the wedding sewing is over. Here are some pictures of what I made.

Ring bearer pillow and flower girl headbands

My beautiful granddaughters "patiently" waiting for the the ceremony to start. I made 2 of each of these dresses.

The Love, The Princess & me.
I don't have a picture from the rehearsal dinner. I made Vogue 1250 in a dark grey-blue knot from Christine Jonson. It was pretty awesome looking. I've worn that dress several times since the wedding.

So in addition to the wedding sewing I also made a few other random items of clothing over the summer, a pair of navy pants, a pink sleeveless Margarita top. I'm working on the fall wardrobe now. More of that in my next post.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

That's What Friends Are For

My friend, Londa, posted on her blog about making a dress, V1250. I headed over to the Vogue website to see the pattern and, holey-moley! it was on sale for $3.99. "Hmm", I said to self. "I think I need that pattern. And free shipping on orders over $25. I could see if any of the patterns on my wish list are $3.99 also."

In addition to the previously mentioned V1250, I also purchased these patterns: V8519 (A Claire Schaeffer classic); V8709 (A Marci Tilton jacket); V1184 (A Sandra Betzina pattern. I wouldn't pay any more than $3.99 for this, but it has potential.) I also purchased a Butterick pattern I need for one of the flower girl dresses later this summer. And I purchased this book, Knits Men Want. So why that book? Because Sunday The Love confessed that he would like for me to knit him a sweater. Also, The Son would like a sweater. This book sounded inviting since I have not ever knitted anything for a man.

So $40 later I checked out. Yep. That's what my friends are for!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Unproductive Weekend

I didn't accomplish a lot of sewing this weekend. The navy pants are about half finished. The fly-front zipper instructions were not clear and I had to pin & baste all the steps to make sure I understood them correctly. The zipper looks nice now that it is in, but it took extra time.

I did make an apron over the weekend. I purchased the panel at the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo held recently in Schaumburg IL. The quilt shop I purchased the panel from had a kit with an extra cut of a coordinating fabric and directions for making the apron reversible. It turned out really cute and I love it.

"Hot" Apron

"Hot" Apron Reversed

The reverse side has 4 pockets across the width. I don't use pockets much, but once in a while they come in handy.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Knitting in Public

I am going public. Yep, it's true. Last night for the first time every in my whole entire life I knit in public.

I am not a "Knitter". I only knit. "Knitters" are people who live, breath, sleep and eat knitting and yarn. You can call out a pattern name and "Knitters" immediately know exactly what you are talking about. Yeah, that's not me. I can barely remember the name of the pattern I am working on, let alone patterns from magazines 5 years ago. And my yarn knowledge-practically nonexistent, which is why I always try to get the exact yarn called for in the pattern. I get very nervous when substituting yarns.

For being mostly self-taught, I think I am a pretty good knitter, but being around "Knitters" gives me an inferiority complex. However, last night I took the plunge and joined the KAL (knit along) group at my LYS (local yarn store). (KAL & LYS are "secret codes" "Knitters" use. I feel so cool that I know what they mean.)

I don't hang out at my LYS. I pick a pattern (usually something I find online or read about; heaven forbid I would actually peruse the pattern books at the yarn store), drive to my LYS, ask for the yarn, pay for it and leave. All neat and tidy. I avoid "Knitters" like the plague. Not because they are unpleasant people. They're not. They are very nice and helpful. I just feel so inadequate and ignorant around them.

So I was surprised that after reading about a new KAL starting up at my LYS I wanted to join in. Me? Whoa! I got in my car and drove to my LYS eager to buy my yarn and get started. I was really disappointed when told that the color yarn I wanted had to be ordered. But, o.k. I really want to do this so I would wait.

My yarn finally arrived Tuesday and yesterday evening with knitting needles in tow I made my appearance at the Thursday evening KAL. I was nervous and anxious. Would they like me? Heck, would they even notice me?

I had a great time! The group is about 15 ladies of all different ages. Some of us knit intently with little conversation. Some talked with little knitting. A couple even spent most of the time shopping for yarn. There was a lengthy conversation about sheep, fleeces (?), spinning and other stuff that I didn't understand. But mostly, we all just knit in an easy, comfortable setting. And yes, I'll be back next week.

So what am I knitting. The pattern is called The Warren Jacket. I'm using a "thick and thin" cotton yarn, taupe colored. As noted above, I can't remember the name of the yarn or the book the pattern is from.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

In Lieu of Working…

I know. I'm supposed to be slaving away at work right now, but hey, every girl deserves a break, right?

So have you seen these mug rugs? They are just way too cute! Two thoughts—
  1. I have no desire to become a "Quilter", but this is doable.
  2. I can finally throw away the coffee-stained, broken plastic canvas mug rugs currently residing on my table that I've had for 10+ years.
The bad thing is these will be in line after the navy pants, the ASG Neighborhood Challenge project due in July, the 2 flower girl dresses,  2 jr. bridesmaid dresses and my own mother-of-the-groom dress for my son's August wedding.

On 2nd thought, surely I can squeeze 1 or 2 of these out before fall.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My Soul is Fed by Needle & Thread

Simplicity 2562

Tonight I cut out these pants sans cuffs in some navy blue cotton fabric for summer.

It's been a few months since I have sewn actual garments. I have been so blue over my mom's illness and death that I just didn't have the desire to really delve into sewing. But I'm feeling much better, and thanks to the encouragement and support of my friend, Angee, I'm back at it. Thank you, Girlfriend!

So what's up with the navy? A few disjointed facts about me.
  • Anyone who knows me knows I have become a very black & white girl. Black pants & white tops. I own about 20 white knit t-shirts, mostly from The Gap & Target.
  • I have always wanted to get my colors "done" by a professional. So I splurged with some of the money my mom gave me and did that. Whoa! What an eye opener. I'll talk more about my time with Nancy Nix-Rice in one or more other posts.
  • I need a whole new summer wardrobe. The recession has left my wardrobe in sad shape, especially for summer.
One of the things Nancy Nix-Rice does is help you shop your stash. So after the rude awakening that I need to change the color of all my clothes and banish both black & white from my closet, we spent an hour one afternoon choosing fabrics from my stash for a new summer wardrobe. I had so much fun! I learned so much! I had so much fun! Thus, navy is my new black. Thus, the first thing I am making is a pair of navy pants.

It felt so comfortable and comforting to be in my sewing room this evening, tracing the pattern, ironing the fabric, laying out everything and then cutting out the pants. I have a saying taped to my laptop—"My soul is fed by needle & thread." That is true. I feel calm, content and peaceful tonight.