Sunday, 30 September 2012

September In Review

This month I made pieces that aren't really me-garments. The first one, the grey checkered dress, I made for Mama R but it didn't work for her. She wouldn't even let me take a photo. As you can see, it didn't work for me either. This is a great pattern, but the style is not for someone with generous hips/thighs no matter what Vogue Figure Flattery Rating Codes says. This fitting/style fail might have something with loosing my sewing mojo this month. 

Of the two garments I managed to pull off this month, one was a keeper and the other not. 

The Grey Checkered Dress

Fabric:   2.5 metres 100% Wool fabric $89.60, on sale 70% off, $26.88
Pattern:  Vogue 8805 (used for the first time), $12.60
Thread:  $4.87
Button:  Recycled, $0.00
Total Cost:  $44.35
Times Worn this Month:  I actually made it for Mama R but she felt that it was too tight. Of course you can see that it is also too tight on me too. It has has been partnered with someone who has a figure to pull this dress off.  
Time Investment:  5 hours (this includes the hand stitching).
Tools Needed:  Sewing machine, serger, walking foot, zipper foot, buttonhole foot, measuring tape, fabric shears, universal sewing machine needles, pins, seam ripper, tailor's ham, sewing needles, iron and tailor's chaulk.
Would I make it again? Yes, I would like to tweak the pattern and see if I can make it work for Mama R. For myself I love the yoke and sleeve, I just have to make the dress portion work for my shape. I need something with a little more ease around the hips and I'll have to get rid of the seam line near the hip.  

Blue Knit Skirt

Fabric:  1.2 double knit $21.51, on sale 50% off $10.75
Pattern:  Vogue 8837 (used for the first time), $18.48
Thread:  $4.87
Elastic:  $1.37
Total Cost:  $35.47
Times Worn this Month:  None (it has been too warm).  
Time Investment:  3 hours
Tools Needed:  Sewing Machine, Serger, fabric shears, jean-a-ma-jig, pins.  
Would I make it again?  Yes, I adore the hemline and length on this skirt but again the pattern needs to be tweaked.  Even though it has enough ease through the hips, it has too much ease at the waist. An easy fit fix.  

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Who was I kidding?

Last month I was all excited and entered the Pattern Review Mini Wardrobe contest.  I thought that it would be fun to come up with four to five pieces that work together.

Who was I kidding?

I'm back at work and trying to fit some studying time into my schedule while I finish up some computer courses. To top it off, I've lost my sewing mojo. And with less than a week to go, I only have one item made.

It has been a tough couple of months to get some work done around the sewing table. I've lost my sewing mojo in the battle with the cough that won't quit. The desire to get some sewing done is there, the energy to get it done is gone.

Sew, I'm admitting defeat in the Mini Wardrobe challenge.

I've made a blue skirt using Vogue 8837 (promise pictures are coming), the one piece that I managed to finish this month. Hopefully I will get around to making Vogue 8839 shortly to go with it.

As soon as I get my sewing mojo back.

Monday, 17 September 2012

In Sewing News Today...

Despite being exhausted and tortured by my Excel class, I'm quite excited today. I have two patterns on the way. And in my humble opinion, I think they are fabulous.

The first is a Spiral blouse pattern from Center For Pattern Design. And the second I found over at Etsy.

I'm super excited about the Spiral blouse pattern and can't wait for it to get here. According to the tracking information, it left Los Angeles on Friday.

This one seems like it might be a challenge, I believe it is one pattern piece if I read that correctly. And after taking an Excel course (there is only so much copy and drag one can take before the excitement is all gone), I need some new excitement in my life and am looking forward the challenge. I think I might save this challenge for when I have some time off work at Christmas break.

What I can't wait to sew is the Advance shirtdress pattern that is on its way.

I have a blue flannel plaid that I'm dying to make into a dress. The fabric doesn't sound interesting at all but it is all about nostalgia. Back in the day when a was a young gal one of my favourite dresses was a blue plaid dress that I picked up from Le Chateau.

I wore that dress to pieces, literally. Well, when I stumbled across a bolt of fabric that reminded me of my much loved and worn dress I snatched up about four metres. This was quite a few months ago. And since then I have been searching for the perfect shirtdress pattern that is worthy of the plaid fabric. This is the winner.

Yesterday, can you believe, I was ready to settle on McCall's 4769. I wasn't thrilled about it but there were some positive reviews for the McCall's pattern that pushed me to that decision. Well, at the fabric store they didn't have my size. How lucky was that!

Today, I stumbled across this beautiful shirtdress pattern. Lady luck is still on my side today because it is in my size. It rarely happens that I fall head-over-heels for a pattern that is also in my size. It was meant to be, don't you think?

Well, that is all that is new in sewing news today.

Happy Sewing!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

I like this pattern!

Oh my goodness, I cannot tell you how much I like kAtheRine Tilton's Vogue 8837 skirt pattern. It is only three pattern pieces and it is super easy to put together.

The easy part is perfect because it is one of the pieces for the mini-wardrobe contest over at Pattern Review. I finally started on it today. Slow to start and now I have about two weeks to get this done, YIKES.

No pictures yet. I want to get all the pieces finished before I show 'n tell. But I will put it out there that I really like this pattern!

Now, I should get back to work.

Happy Sewing!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Mending and Alterations

I haven't sewn a stitch all week. Instead, I added to my pile of mending. My ever-growing pile of mending.

You see, I wore a pair of pants to work last week and bending over to set up for Before School duty, R-R-R-I-P. Yup, I split my pants. Lucky for me I was by myself setting up.

And thank goodness I was wearing my Marcy Tilton jacket, Vogue 8709. It was long enough to hide any evidence of the mishap since there wasn't enough time to head home for a change of clothes.

Out of all the things that I was carrying in my backpack, no sewing kit. I really must keep a change of clothes in the car.

I know, you are probably wondering why I didn't mention a sewing kit. If only I had a sewing kit with me I wouldn't add to my ever-growing mending pile. But you see, I hate mending. Okay, maybe hate is a strong word.

I'm not fond of mending. That is likely the reason that I don't carry a sewing kit with me. I think it is about time that I get over my lack of fondness for this type of sewing.

"Asking a seamstress to mend is like asking Michelangelo to paint your garage" 
~Unknown Author~

Whoever wrote this, they nailed it. Or did they?

I'm not comparing myself to Michelangelo but it captures my view that sewing clothes and mending clothes are just not the same thing.

I met peeps who love to mend and do alterations. I admire their patience as they carefully take out stitches and put it all back together and repair stitches that have unintentionally opened. But seriously, what is it that makes some of us love to mend and others dread the activity?

I know for me it is because I typically am asked to repair or alter something for someone. I don't sew for other people unless I really love you (insert family here). I don't have the set up to take on other people's mending. And besides that is what places like Stitch It and professional tailors are for. They have the equipment and skilled labour to complete the job. Skill, that is it. Mending and alterations is like editing, it takes skill to fix other people's mistakes or to make things work.

A woman I recently met said she enjoys mending and alterations to sewing from scratch. The shock!  And the day that I was at Fabricland this past summer trying to find trim for my much loved outgrown jacket I ran into a woman who was excited beyond words about the task I was embarking on. I wanted to ask her if she wanted to do it. I have started to take the seams apart and I really do want to finish the project, but I'm stalled.

How do you view alterations and mending? Do you consider the act of mending art? Or is it just a skill that is beyond your my abilities?

And why is it that procrastination and mending seem to be such great bedfellows? Oh well, I guess I should take those pants in to get repaired if I want to wear them this winter...

Sunday, 9 September 2012

In Sewing News Today...

Not much sewing.

I haven't even cut out a thing for the Pattern Review Mini Wardrobe contest. It is already September 9th and this is not how I hoped to start this project.

I have been busy with the normal September busy-ness plus I'm upgrading my computer skills. Yes, I'm cheating on my beloved Mac. I've discovered Microsoft PowerPoint 2010, Hello Baby! Apparently, Microsoft is coming out with a new version next year, 2013. By the time I'm finished these courses my computer skills are going to be obsolete again. But I'm also excited to discover what new tricks 2013 will have in store.

Although, I am cheating on my beloved Mac during the week, I do come home at night to Mac. Right now, I should be studying and working on those Microsoft assignments but I'm getting my Mac fix as I type.

And my poor Janome is likely feeling neglected too. I miss sitting down with my sewing machine the most. I'm going to need a sewing fix soon.

I did manage to sneak into a fabric store this weekend while out running errands. I stopped in to pick up Simplicity 4762 for my nephew's vest. I can at least cross that off the list.

While I was in the store picking up the pattern this egg shell blue satin caught my eye. And it was sale. So I picked up 1.6 metres of this gorgeous fabric thinking that it would look lovely in McCall's 6606. It has long sleeves and conservative enough for work.

But boy, did I ever goof. I misread the pattern envelope not only was I reading the fabric requirements for Version A instead of Version B, I didn't notice that Version A had a contrasting fabric amount listed.

I didn't realize my error until I got home and started to look at the pattern envelope. And then I unfolded the pattern. Yikes! I was really tired and rushed on Saturday. That is my excuse.

I thought it was okay and that I would head back to the fabric store today to pick up the 1.10 metres that I was missing for Version B. I didn't panic when I noticed that the bolt of fabric wasn't on the table that I found it on yesterday. It was a brand new bolt, they couldn't have sold all of it since Saturday I thought.  Well, my heart started to skip a few beats when I didn't find it at any of the cutting tables either.

Don't worry, this tale has a happy ending. I found the last three metres of this fabric folded and tucked away for the remnant bin. That was a close call!

Today, I had the opportunity to check out what everyone has been gushing over, Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing. It is a lovely book.

It is advertised on Amazon as a hardcover book, but it is not what I pictured as a hardcover book.  My copy of Vogue Sewing and Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing are hardcover books. The copy of Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing that I was looking at was a spiral bound book. So, I felt mislead with the hardcover description that I found online.

The photographs were fun and playful and the retro vibe of the book was intriguing.

If you are interested in vintage and retro fifties style, this might just be the sewing book for you. It is a book with lots of pictures to inspire you along the way. The book also comes with a pattern envelope found in the inside cover. Gertie's timing is perfect with the Mad Men fascination going on right now. I think she will have great success with her book.

That said, I didn't pick it up. It wasn't the $40 price tag, rather none of the lovely styles Gertie modelled were anything that I'm interested in sewing. I think this book will appeal to a younger group of sewists. If you know anyone interested in taking up sewing and who loves the vintage look, this book would make a great Christmas gift.

Gertie's book is one of many new books I found at my local bookstore.  Drape Drape 2 is also out in English. If I had the time I could have spent hours in the sewing section of the bookstore.

Anyway, that is all in sewing news today.

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

You want it when? Yea, No.

September is always a busy time of the year, without exception. It is my favourite time of the year but it always seems to zip by before I get to enjoy the beautiful changing of the season.  And it is the time of the year that everybody seems to come out of the woodwork with requests.   

Speaking of coming out of the woodwork, my nephews came over Sunday. They are teenagers but they are handfuls. They don't listen well, they talk back, and they are rude. You know, they're typical teenagers.  

When they make time for a visit after the age of fourteen, there is a 99.9% chance it is because they want something. Sometimes it is hard to figure out what they are up to as they are snooping in the closets for, or sneaking off into someone's bedroom to talk on the phone. I guess that is how teenagers "visit".  

But this weekend I didn't have to guess. My nephew came out and asked me if I would make him a vest. Yes, teenagers also have moments of bringing extreme joy even when they're "visiting" with a motive. 

Of course, it made me happy when he asked. It is such a rare occasion that a sewing project is requested. Of course, it was revealed that he was only asking because he didn't want to pay $60 for the vest he liked in the store and his uncle suggested that he ask his aunt. But there was that moment of shock and happiness that he would ask.     

I promptly told him "yes" but that right now is not a good time because things are extremely busy right now and I have a lot on my plate. 

Teenagers never seem to notice all the work that the garden demands at this time of year. Nor the constant housework. Nor when you explain that you have a lot on your plate along with a whole pile of projects that I need to get to before I take on another. 

I explain that I'll be happy to sew a vest but "you might not get it until Christmas". 

"Christmas" he said in disbelief. Well, he is a product of the "I-want-it-now-and-want-it-cheap" generation. Besides, his uncle made the suggestion while they were vacationing in Florida, LAST MONTH!  Oh my goodness, he is in a rush now. The kid cracks me up.  

Teenagers can be cute at that age, in one ear and out the other. 

The afternoon was peppered with "I'm free to go shopping tomorrow" and "I can't wait that long" and "I can come over to try it on any time" comments. 

The excitement of having a vest without spending $60.00 was making him deaf. This vest is going to be a test of patience, for both my nephew and myself. And it is going to be beautiful even if he has to wait until December.  

I had questions about this so-called-vest that he was requesting. What is it with teenagers and the phrase "I-don't-know"?  

He didn't know how to describe the vest that he wanted me to make urgently. It was like pulling teeth to get details.  

"Do you want pockets?" I asked.  

"I don't know" he replied between the bites of food he was focussed on.

"Well, do you want pockets in the front or would you like it plain?" I tried to rephrase the question.  

"Yea, a pocket for my wallet," he offered.  

"An inside pocket then?", I asked.

"What's that?" he said as he looked up from his plate of food.  

"A pocket inside the front of the vest", I explained.  "You typically find them in suit jackets".  

"I guess", he replied.

"Do you want it lined?" I asked.  

"No, what for?" he answered.  

"Do you know what I mean when I am asking you about lining?" I ask questioning his aloof answer.

"What's lining?" he replied.  

I offered him two examples of jackets to examine the difference. He bounced back and forth from choosing a vest with lining or without. Kids now-a-days, they have tough decisions to make.  

Mama R came to the rescue when she produced one of his grand-father's vests. The process went much smoother when he had a physical object to guide his decision making. The vest was beginning to be imagined:

  • Pocket to hold wallet
  • Button front
  • Unlined
  • Inside chest pocket
  • Lined
  • Okay, button front but only two buttons
  • Unlined
  • Double breasted
  • Single breasted vest
  • Lined just like Grand-pa's vest
  • Five buttons like Grand-pa's vest
  • But 1 1/2" longer than Grand-pa's vest

We were lucky as we moved onto the computer and looked on-line for patterns. There are several options in Vogue and Simplicity to chose from. Pictures help with everything. I should have started with the pictures.    

The winner is Simplicity 4762 with one design modification. He still would like an inside breast pocket to hold his wallet.  

And then I let him pick fabric from my stash. He wants a black vest and I have lots of black fabric. I have to say that he has exquisite taste. He went straight for the black 100% Italian wool that I had put aside up for the Vogue 1309 trousers. 

It is all good because I also have a vest pattern in my stash, Burda 7769.  There won't be enough of the Italian wool for a pair of trousers and a vest.  But I can make two vests, Simplicity 4762 (for him) and Burda 7769 (for me) without wasting any fabric.  

My nephew picked out a blue lining fabric for the inside of his vest from my stash. I was surprised that he didn't go for the black lining I picked to go with the wool. And he found some silver buttons from my stash too. It was nice that he was able to find everything that he wanted without parting with his hard earned summer money.  

I was really impressed when he asked how to take care of the fabric and wash the vest when it's done. We talked a bit about care instructions and he asked about ironing. He said he irons his own clothes. How adorable is that? And he listened. 

Seriously, he really listened. There is hope for teenagers. 

I wonder if he was really listening when I said it might not be done until December?    

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Vogue 8805: The Conservative Work Dress

Vogue 8805 has to be the easiest dress that I've sewn in a long time.

There was nothing challenging about it, to the point that it was uneventful. Not once did I need my seam ripper. Now, where is the fun in that?

Basically, it took an afternoon to make. And you don't have to open the pattern instructions, it was that simple to figure out. This Vogue 8805 pattern is perfect for a beginner and the "very easy" rating was spot on.

But it doesn't mean that I didn't like some features of this dress. I like the sleeves built into the front and back yoke. It is my favourite feature of this pattern. And the pattern is simple and elegant and makes the perfect conservative work dress.

I made it in a light grey, light-weight wool with a small check pattern. I love the fabric but I will admit that it was not the best colour choice I have made for myself. What can I say, I'm a sucker for a bargain. The light grey is a lovely colour for Mama R who has a lighter complexion.

And it was suppose to be a surprise for Mama R. She used to have dresses just like this in her wardrobe (everything comes back in style). It was one of her favourite styles.

It didn't work out though. Mama R said that it was too snug around her mid-section.

And then she suggested that it might work for me. Wow, that suggest-ion was dead wrong. The dress is snug in my mid and rear section.

As you can see it was not a flattering look on me at all.

That said I would not toss out the pattern. I think I can work with this. Mama R and I both agree that the upper yoke and sleeve section is our favourite feature on this dress. And the darts are well placed.

Sew, I'm thinking that the mid-section and lower section of the dress could be cut as one piece since Mama R is even shorter than I am and we don't need the horizontal seams to draw attention to that fact. And then I would give the lower dress section an A-line cut.

Mama R also didn't like the fact that there was no back zipper, another change that I'll have to incorporate into the re-design. And I know I'm going to have to figure out some pockets for the next version.

Anyway, lessons were learned and now it is back to the drawing board for this one.  

Monday, 3 September 2012

Basic Sewing Machine Maintenance

I'll admit to being one of those who didn't clean my sewing machine as regularly as recommended by my sewing machine sales person.

Lint found in the feed dogs during my bad-girl years.  
Sadly, I had the lint to prove it. This would be my number one bad habit that I need to break if I want to stop spending the big bucks to get my machine cleaned and serviced.

The sewing class earlier this summer was encouraged to clean their sewing machines after each project. It is a recommendation all over the web too. But really, who does that?

Sometimes we're I'm just excited about getting on with the next project that the ritual of basic machine maintenance just falls to the side lines.

Sew, I thought we can take a photographic journey of my sewing machine maintenance how I changed my nasty ways.

Step 1:  Gathered the tools needed for the job, (clockwise) tweezers, lint brush, small screwdrivers.

I didn't require the tweezers this time but they do come in handy when trying to reach those hard to reach pieces of lint.

Step 2:  Turn off the sewing machine and unplug the cords.

Step 3:  Remove the bobbin cover and presser foot.

Step 4:  Remove the plate.
Step 5:  Remove the bobbin case.  

Step 6:  Look that, hidding under the bobbin case!  

 Step 7:  The ohhh and a-ha moment over the after each project rule.

Step 8:  Make sure to get those feed-dogs.
Step 9:  Close it up and get ready to sew.

In Sewing New Today...

A few months ago the strap on my handbag broke. The leather strap was fine, it was the hardware that gave out. The strapless handbag sat un...