Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Boo on the Flu

I wish I could say I've finished my mom's table runner or that I've been sewing at all. But this guy looks like how I feel and it's been all I can do to drag myself to work in the morning and get the daily must-do's done. Then I drag myself back to bed … after a stop at the Dayquil/Nyquil bottles.

Am I whining? YES! Do I want pity? YES! You try being sick in a house with 3 (cave)men and you'd be sucking up for some sick pity too. ;-) I even had to drag out the crock pot and make my own turkey soup from the Christmas Day turkey leftovers today. Wahhhh. But it felt so nice and warm going down my sore throat it was (almost) worth having to do it myself.

I hope I'm better by the time 2010 rolls in so I can take good advantage of my days off. If not, toast the bubbly for me, will you?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different

I'm a little late on the Christmas gifts this year, but my mom and sister understand and will be happy with their gifts … whenEVER they arrive. ;-)

First up for mom, a combination housewarming and Christmas present. A table runner for her new house in her colors. I'm also going to make a set of coordinating napkins from the leftover fabrics.

The pattern I'm using is this one. It's a quilt-as-you kind of pattern but I nixed that part. It seemed like overkill and a good way to make mistakes. I'm not sure if I should review this pattern on Pattern Review. Do people actually read and/or reference quilt patterns?

I cut and pieced it today. It's really easy, trust me. Here's the top, pinned to the batting and the backing, ready for quilting. I used my Featherweight for all the piecing, which was fun.

For the quilting, all eleven straight rows of it — LOL! — I moved back to my D1 since I have a stitch in the ditch foot for it and the harp space is bigger. The quilting took all of 30 minutes, tops. I might have to make one of these for me.

Before I started on this project, I scanned swatches of the fabrics and used it to make a mock-up on paper to be sure it wasn't going to look too funky. These are so not my colors and picking out the fabrics was the hardest part.

Here it is quilted and trimmed and awaiting binding. I'm taking a dinner break right now but will finish the binding later tonight and it will be done. Definitely a one-day project even for non-quilters like me.

Next up will be scrubs for my sister.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Poetry on a Stand

OK, not the most imaginative blog title. ;-)

It's done! Yay!! And I love it!

I'll share more details later when I write up a proper review but in the meantime, here are some photos of my finished CWC knock-off Poet Blouse, on Zillie. I'm planning to wear this on Christmas Day, probably with my green knit Marrakesh pants. Or jeans. I'll try to remember to get a pic of me in it, before I spill something on myself. ;-)

The fabric is cotton poplin with a bit of Lycra. It wrinkles easily, but not as easily as it would without the Lycra. I think this blouse needs a bit of the rumpled look to really embrace the "Poet" look, so I'm not going to fret about the wrinkles. The Lycra keeps it from going completely limp, which is a Good Thing. I interfaced the plackets, collar, stand and cuffs.

Funny thing when I was sewing on the buttons — I had all 3 buttons sewn on the front and one sleeve done. When I got to the second sleeve, I realized I had completely forgotten to topstitch that cuff. That's what happens when you work in snatched batches of time. So, there I was thinking I was already done and I had to put it to the machine one more time to finish that last cuff. At least I noticed before I left the house in it.

The trim is lacy elasticized rickrack I've had in the stash forever. I still have TONS of this so you'll be seeing it for years.

In a couture world, the inside edges of the plackets would be turned under and clean finished. In my world, they're serged. ;-)

I also trimmed the honkin' big dart with the serger so the show-through is not a honkin' big dart uptake.

These are the patterns I used — McCall's 5556 for most of it, and McCall's 5673 for the 3/4 length cuffed sleeves. For M5556, I changed the shape of the bottom of the placket, added gathers below the placket, back waist darts, and left off the faced hems. I also reshaped the collar points into curves. For the sleeve, I widened them at the bicep, which also meant widening the cuff to match. I also added a loop closure instead of the buttonhole called for in the pattern.

This will probably be my last blog post before Christmas, so to all who celebrate, Merry Christmas! To all my Jewish readers, a belated Happy Hannukah! And Happy Holidays to everyone else!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Still Sewing Away

No pictures today, but I have been making steady, if slow, progress on my CWC Poet Blouse knock-off. I think I fixed the dart poof that was bothering me. I'm still not happy with their actual placement — they're too horizontal — but I'm not willing to rip them out and re-angle them either. I think my annoyance will fade once the blouse is finished.

Last night and this afternoon I worked on the sleeves. The cuffs are on. I added button loops as closures to match the front loops. I'm just about ready to sew them into the armholes. After that, it will be downhill. I even made a stop at Joann's for buttons (success!) while out and about running a million and two errands. But I'm done with my errands and don't plan to venture out again until Thursday night, for our annual family Christmas Eve tour of house lights in various neighborhoods.

I'm really happy with this blouse. I think it's going to be one of my most favorite things I've sewn. I just hope I don't screw up now … you know, like a big scorch mark when I'm pressing seams or some other disaster like that. I must say it's been quite stressful working with all this white. It's been good for me, though. The "stress" is actually making me relax and take my time, if that makes any sense.

With any luck, I should have a finished blouse to show for my next post.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Only White Here Is In the Sewing Room

I always feels pangs of slight jealousy when the first big snow of the year hits the East Coast. I'm a NY-er by birth, grew up in Connecticut, and had plenty of snow during those years. The big Saturday storm looks pretty in all the blog and news photos I've seen, but in my heart I know better and I'm glad to be 1,000 miles away from it. It is supposed to hit the 30s here tonight, so not only do I commiserate with my East Coast friends in spirit, I'll also be sympathizing in the flesh too. ;-)

Progress continues on the CWC Poet Blouse knock-off. It's going well so far. I'm about to attach the sleeve cuffs and then insert the sleeves. And once again, I'll need buttons. I'm going to try to make do with what's in the button bin, but I really wanted prettier shank-style buttons. Though not enough to trek out to Joann's anytime soon. (Surely J's has suitable white buttons?) Maybe I have an old blouse in my closet I can pilfer from. I'm also pretty sure I'm going to have to mess with the bust darts since right now they seem too pointy. I haven't sewn up the sideseams yet or really tried it on, so maybe they're not as bad as I think. In fact, I may just go up and pin the sideseams right now and try on the darn thing before I go further with the sleeves.

Angie asked about the upper back tuck-thingie I showed last post. Angie, from the pics I've seen, you have square shoulders. The fold of fabric you describe is usually due only to square shoulders, so you should first alter for those and see if that does it. I have square shoulders too, but also an erect back. Altering only for square shoulders doesn't solve all of the problem for me. I still need to remove length at the upper back for collared shirts. I'm sure I need to do it for other shirts too, but it's really only when there's a collar that it's uncomfortably obvious. I don't make (wear) a whole lot of collared shirts, so this has been a slower realization for me than my other regular alterations. Besides being hot in the summer, the other reason I don't wear a lot of collared shirts is because the collar has always bugged me in the back. Hmm. Maybe I'm on to something. ;-)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Instead of Christmas Shopping

I hate malls even when it's not the holidays. So any excuse to stay away from stores today works for me and I've spent most of the day in the sewing room. (I should be sewing gifts, but I'm taking a cue from The Selfish Seamstress! - L.O.V.E. that blog!)

I'm trying to stay focused on the garments I lined up in my "on deck" pile here and I'm doing pretty well, having made 4 so far. Not all were complete winners but at least they're off the list.

Right now I'm working on copying the Coldwater Creek Poet Blouse, using the McCall's pattern below with 3/4 sleeves swiped from another McCall's pattern.

After 2 FBAs (Full Bust and Full Bicep), I've made the muslin out of old sheets and tweaked it, and am now going to cut the real fabric. Per the pattern, it's much too long to be the CWC blouse so I'll be chopping off length …

… and taking up excess at the back and shoulder, as shown below. For the back, it's the opposite of a round back alteration and I find I need it in most any blouse with a real collar and almost all Jalie knit top patterns, except on knit patterns I just scoop the back neckline instead. For someone who spends most of the day at the computer, I'm surprised I still have such erect posture. My mother should be proud - she "scolded" me to stand up straight my whole childhood. ;-)

Changing the front placket area to a squared-off bottom mostly worked, but I made the inset pieces too short and I think there's a bit too much gathering. That's what muslins are for, right? I've fixed the pattern pieces for that area and hopefully it will now work as I planned. It's zigzagged together in lieu of buttons on the muslin.

I debated cutting one more muslin, but I just don't have it in me. It's not a super-fitted blouse, so I should be able to fix things as I go, if still needed. I hope I don't have to eat my words because I really want to have this blouse in my wardrobe.

So that's what I've been doing today, instead of Christmas shopping. Bah Humbug. ;-)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hot Patterns Tie Me Down Top

Finished top below. Review with more pics, on PR here.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I Love This Jacket!

Do I look happy? You bet! (And a lot happier than the last photo I posted, eh?)

I promised I would show a pic of me in the Hot Patterns Riviera jacket when I had buttons for it. It took seemingly forever, but I finally found buttons at Sawyer Brook. It took me two orders, though, since apparently I can't read a ruler. The big front buttons were good, but I ordered one size too small for the sleeve plackets. So I wouldn't be left with 4 "orphans," I went ahead and ordered 2 more too-smalls when I put in my second order so I'd have a set of 6 if I ever need them. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. ;-)

(Note: This is not a new red jacket. It's the same and only one I made earlier, a "ginger" colored fleece.)

The buttons are a perfect match to the fabric, but the fabric has yet to want to cooperate with my camera so the color never looks true to life in my pics. Oh well. Trust me, it's a great color and matches my gray auburn hair nicely.

I changed the suggested button placement and moved the top button up above the yoke seam. I think it's more flattering on me to *not* have a more-or-less solid line of yoke+pocket flaps+button right across my bust. Staggering the buttons breaks up that line and creates more vertical interest. At least that's what my eyeballs are telling me. Your eyeballs may disagree.

Here are the smaller buttons on the (faux) sleeve placket. I suppose I should've taken a photo that shows the front and sleeve buttons side-by-side so they don't look exactly the same, which they aren't. That was the hardest part of finding buttons — finding two big enough for the front and which also had smaller companions to match. Carolyn, I envy not only your button stash but your proximity to NYC to shop for more.

The other reason I look so happy is that the temps dropped a bit here today and I could actually wear this because not only was it cool outside, I had somewhere to wear it to! I'm pathetic, aren't I? LOL!

To complete the outfit, I'm wearing the green Hot Patterns Marrakesh pants I made for Thanksgiving. It's my HP day, because I've also started on another HP top, and will hopefully have something to show tomorrow. It's the Metropolitan Tie Me Down top and it looks like it will be another winner with few alterations. DS#2 is gone on an overnight wrestling trip. DH has to work. This means I have no mom/wife/work duties tomorrow and can hide in the sewing room as long as I want.

Speaking of Hot Patterns — I'll gloat a bit and tell you all that I had my lunch date with Trudy and Jeremy a couple of weeks ago, down their way in Sarasota. It was a GREAT time! They are so much fun, with tons of energy, ideas, and jokes. Just like their YouTube videos but better. Time flew and I think we could've sat and chatted for at least three more hours. Thanks for the invite Trudy and Jeremy — I had a blast!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

How I Wasted 20+ Hours of My Life

(Or, If Looks Could Kill!)

I'm an 80-year old woman wearing a carpet.

I even fully lined it before I decided to toss it. But at least I stopped before sewing on the sleeve bands, hemming it, or thinking about buttons.

I spent far too much time working, ripping, and reworking ideas to highlight the seaming.

Plain old triple-stitch topstitching with dark green thread disappeared (see princess seams in first photo above). Double strands of off-white upholstery thread showed up slightly better, but looked like basting. Riiiiip. Raw-edge strips of self-fabric showed fine but were going to ravel away to nothing, which I decided *after* I had sewn it all on. Riiiiiip.

I settled on black bias tubing couched on with a green double zigzag. While this is the best of the bunch and looks fine, I wish I hadn't bothered. In the end, nothing could save it.

It's just not me. I don't wear fabric like this. Maybe that's why it had been in the stash for so long?

I cut my losses and threw it out, never again to be tempted to "save" it.

Moving on.

ETA: After receiving 2 comments with suggestions for fixing it or coming back to it, please note: It's too late. It's gone. Outta here. I decided I didn't want to come back to it and I tossed it. Believe me, I know pretty well what I'll wear and what I won't. Besides, there are too many other things on my list that I want to sew. I'll never miss this jacket.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Day of Pattern Morphing

Whew! I didn't think it would take this long to turn a "simple" Simplicity jacket into a pattern for a Coldwater Creek jacket. Granted, I took lots of breaks, but still. I worked on this most of the day today.

Here's the CWC jacket:

And here is Simplicity 4045, the jacket I'm using as a jumping off point:

I'm sure there's a pattern out there somewhere that would need less changes, but I like a challenge and it's been a while since I did something like this. Plus, I already had the Simplicity and there's no way I was going to wait on an online order or venture out into retail-land on Black Friday.

After studying both jackets, I decided I needed to change the Simplicity pattern as follows:

1. Create separate neckband pieces.

2. Add button plackets. The Simplicity jacket meets at Center Front and there is no allowance for buttons and/or placket.

3. Create front princess seams from the bust darts, and, of course, do an FBA. The CWC jacket has armhole princess seams front and back. The Simplicity jacket has a side panel. I decided that was close enough so I'm leaving those seams as-is.

4. Add a Center Back seam.

Below is my pattern morph. The original Simplicity front/side combo piece is on the right. I cut out the tissue, did my FBA, and then traced the results onto a new sheet of tracing paper. The Simplicity pattern is taped back together. I figured if I was way off base, I would want as much as the original as possible to go back to. I then closed the side bust dart on my tracing and created the princess seams.

I decided on a shoulder princess seam for the front instead of an armhole princess seam. I'm going for "essence" of the CWC jacket, not an outright clone. Shoulder princess seams are more flattering on me.

After making those initial changes, I made a quick muslin from an old sheet. The neckband and plackets had not yet been completed for the muslin. I was merely testing fit and landmark placements. So far so good, although I decided I needed to (1) add another inch to the overall length, (2) move the shoulder seam backward 5/8" as this seems to be drafted for forward shoulders, which I don't have, and (3) shorten the sleeve about 3".

Here's a shot of the panel seam. You can see there's no actual sideseam. The panel is seamed toward the back.

With the fit tested, it was time to do the final fit tweaks and create the "missing" elements. I drew the neckband pieces and cut them from jacket body. I made the placket pieces and added seam allowances where they'd be attached. I lengthened/shortened in the places I noted. And thought I was done, until just now when I realized I forgot to cut apart the back piece for the back neckband. Oops. I'll have to do that tomorrow. My pattern brain is fried tonight.

I don't think I'm going to do another muslin, but I will pin all the pattern pieces onto Zillie to be sure my thought process worked for the construction and that I'm not missing anything. I haven't done a ton of jacket linings so I'll curl up in bed tonight with some refresher info to make sure I don't forget anything with that either.

Hopefully before the weekend is over, I'll have a new jacket. Now that I have the new A/C, the temps are supposed to be in the 40s (F) tonight. Figures.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

More Marrakesh

No, my jacket still doesn't have buttons — and obviously hates being photographed because I still can't get it to look here like it does in real life. But I think I found buttons. They should be here in the next couple of days and then I'll know if they really do match. Meanwhile, we have A/C again and so I was able to be in my sewing room for more than 15 minutes without sweating. After hemming the pants this morning, this is what I wore today, minus the jacket. Nice fall colors for Turkey Day.

This is my second pair of HP Marrakesh pants, with a couple of changes.

First, I left off the drawstring.

Second, I substituted these sew-on curved patch pockets for the inseam side pockets. I like these much better than the in-seams.

Next, I sewed the elastic into the back waistband so it doesn't "float". And last, I added back darts since these pants are knit and need less ease than the linen version. (The dressform has one pole for a leg so it's pretty much useless for showing any kind of actual fit.)

Here's an oddity for me - my zipper, waistband facing, and fly shield actually match the pants fabric. ;-)

* * * * *

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, or Thursday as the case may be. Ours was the traditional spread as usual, and service was low-key buffet style as requested by the guys. We have one of my younger son's friends staying with us temporarily (parent troubles) so he helped put a dent in the food, and then both sons' girlfriends dropped by for pie after their own family feasts.

I really enjoy my sons and their friends/sweeties and I'm glad they are still "willing" to spend time with their old mom. ;-) Last night we all went to a late showing of The Blind Side. Good movie, endearing characters. Even if you're not fond of American football, you will probably still like this "feel good" flick.

* * * * *

Next up in the sewing room is a Coldwater Creek-inspired jacket using this boucle sweater knit purchased from Emma One Sock eons ago. The green in the boucle is a perfect match for the pants fabric. More details in a later post.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

This Is It

Not sewing related, although I'll take a minute to gripe about the lack of buttons to be had locally and even over the internet. My HP Riviera jacket wants to be done but I can't find any buttons for it. Sigh.

So, Tuesday night my sons and I headed to the movie theater to see Michael Jackson's This Is It.

I was "in love" with Michael Jackson when I was 10-12 years old. No Donny Osmond for me - it was Michael all the way! His music was everywhere during my teenage years and into my 20s. You couldn't turn on the radio or TV or go to nightclub without hearing one of his songs or seeing one of his videos. When I was 20, my best friend had a Michael Jackson party to coincide with Thriller album. (Wonder if I still have those pics somewhere?)

I didn't pay a lot of attention to his personal issues over the years simply because I didn't have enough information to know all the facts and make an informed judgment, and really, in my life he's only just a voice on the radio or a face on the TV. I probably never would've seen any of his live shows. I was a fan, but not obsessed.

So, this is just to say that if you liked Michael Jackson at all over the past decades and were shocked to hear of his early passing, see the movie. You'll be entertained, and most of the time you won't even realize you're watching REHEARSALS! Oh, and stay past the credits. ;-)

One thing I did take away from this movie was what an awesome production this live show was going to be, and how many peoples' jobs and dreams also died with Michael Jackson. It was uplifting to know that these people got to see some sort of completion to all the hours they all put into it. Now they'll have something to show their grandkids, instead of only being able to say "I was supposed to be ..."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hot Patterns Riviera Boulevard Cardigan Jacket

The review and more photos are here.

Off to the Riviera

I finished the J. Stern jeans. Meh. I don't love them, but at least they're done. You can read the review on PR by clicking the thumbnail in the "My Reviews" widget in the sidebar at the right. Because they're done, it means that corner of my sewing room is now clear and my UFO guilt would allow me to move on to a new pattern. Yay!

I traced the Hot Patterns Riviera Boulevard Cardigan Jacket (whew, that's a mouthful!) Saturday morning and then tried on the tracing to assess needed fit alterations. Surprisingly, the verdict was none! That's not to say that I traced one straight size and it fit out of the envelope. Instead, with knits lately I've been "cheating." Instead of doing a regular slash/spread FBA, I've just been blending between sizes as I trace or cut, like this:

I'll start with the size that corresponds to my upper bust measurement. For this drawing, that would be the Gray size inside the black outline. Then I move out at armhole level to the size that corresponds to my full bust. Here, it's the Blue size. And then I gradually morph downward to the size that corresponds to my hips. Here, it's the Purple size. I end up with a pattern that resembles the Gray plus Red outline.

This cheating method works for me because I also usually also have to increase the bicep width in sleeves and the morphing shown above does increase the sleeve size needed. But now, instead of actually slash/spreading the sleeve, I just use a similar morph between the sleeve size that matches the Gray size I started with and I extend the underarm seams to the Blue size, like this:

These "cheaters" are what I did for the Riviera jacket while I was tracing. I also made a square shoulder alteration (a usual for me), again while tracing. The net result is one tracing with little or no slash/spread alterations. For this jacket I did end up slicing up some of the pattern pieces to add 2" of additional length between waist and hem, but that's a fast alteration so it almost doesn't count. ;-)

As I said, I use these cheaters mostly for knits. (And before you ask, No, I don't find that the front bottom hem rides up. Your mileage may vary.) I will also sometimes use these morphs as a starting point for wovens too, because then I'll need a much smaller dart/spread when doing a traditional FBA.

So the photo above is where I am now with the jacket. I expect I'll finish it this afternoon. The fabric is a recycled cotton blend fleece from Lucy's Fabrics. It's ginger-orange with colored flecks on the outside and snuggly navy fleece on the inside. Great fabric!

Even though I know the girls probably don't need a pocket flap (even a faux flap such as this), one of the reasons I like this pattern is because of the unusual look of the double flaps. So, caution to the wind and I'm keeping both flaps. I'll probably stitch down the top flaps so they don't actually flap.

* * * * *

Still without A/C here, but the temps dropped and it's actually quite pleasant with the windows open. At night, it's even chilly. Plus, it's good to air out the house once in a while too. But I'll be calling the repairman tomorrow to set up an install date for sometime this week. I'm also getting used to my widescreen monitor and don't hate it quite as much. Things are looking up!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I've had better weeks

Our outside A/C condenser unit died Sunday night. It's a major $$ replacement so it's going to be a few days before we can scrape together the money to get the work done. In the meantime, we have all the windows open, every ceiling and box fan turned on high, and I'm still sweating my butt off. At least the nights cool off a little these days. Arghhh.

The same day the A/C died, we had a big power spike as the electric company workers were doing something at the power station around the corner and blew something or other which killed my monitor, which meant I had to beat feet out to Best Buy that night to buy a replacement so I could work the next day. The only monitors readily available are widescreen. I hate widescreen monitors for computing. I feel like I'm moving my mouse arm 30 extra miles a day. I'll get used to it, but it won't ever be my preference. Arghhh.

I have today off for Veteran's Day and have been trying to finish my JStern jeans. But it's warmer upstairs, naturally, than down so I haven't been making much progress. I also don't love them so that's slowing me down too. But I want them done and OUT of the UFO pile so I can move on. Except what I wanted to move on to was the HP Riviera jacket, but the thought of working in this heat with the wonderful fleece I ordered from Lucy's Fabrics is making me itch. Arghhh.

Have I whined enough? Well, too bad. One more. ;-)

One dark night almost 2 weeks ago, I backed out of my driveway … and right into my son's girlfriend's grandfather's car. She brought over the repair estimate last night. Coupled with the pending A/C bill, I'm going to have to make an insurance claim instead of paying it outright, especially since it's about 3x what I was expecting for a slight dent on the front fender of a 1995 Toyota. Arghhh.

OK, some good news. I had a call today from Jeremy of Hot Patterns. We had a lovely chat and he, Trudy and I are meeting for lunch in a couple of weeks. Should be fun!

Now I'm off to find some cheese. ;-)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Another Sunny Day

My second Hot Patterns Weekender Sunshine top is done.

The fabric is a print a friend from an old sewing list bought for me from S.R. Harris in Minnesota, years ago. It's got gold glitter in various places, which won't last past laundry and which is fine with me. It's been in the stash a long time. I wish I could say it was completely out but there's still enough left for another top at some point. I don't think I really want two so I may just sacrifice it for a muslin in the near future.

Because the print wasn't nearly busy enough (kidding!), I also added some bronze snap heads on the neckband. I was afraid the weight would make the neckband flop down so before I committed, I pinned on a bunch of grommets to test. No flopping, so all is good. The backsides of the snaps are a bit cold on the skin when I first put it on though. Note to self: Do not wear this top while sitting in direct Florida summer sun. ;-)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Marrakesh Express

Someone else just used that blog title and I hope they're reading and now have that song in *their* mind all day long. ;-)

So, they're done (the Hot Patterns Marrakesh Drawstring pants in case you're wondering). The review is here. Main pics are below. It's linen. It wrinkles when you just look at it.

I also had time yesterday to work on another Sunshine top. I should finish it tonight. Here it is in progress. The browns are less red than they appear in this pic.

Parting Shot: Alex and India setting out to Trick or Treat. Yes, they're 17 and a little too old for ToT'ing, but since they were both in full costume, I don't think anyone minded too much - judging by the piles of candy they brought back. Yes, we Trick or Treat in flip-flops and shorts here. Lest you think it's not fair, it really does put a major crimp in costume choices since most are just way too hot for kids to want to wear and they start stripping at about the 5th house of the night and any face paint drips off shortly thereafter. No, Alex and India did not strip. ;-)