Sunday, November 1, 2009

Back from the land of homework...

I have been absent for far too long, but my last class was an accelerated one (16 weeks worth of class in 8 weeks), so I couldn't even think about the blog, let alone do any sewing.

However, some things got done and since I do not have another class until January, I am hopeful that I will be able to get caught up.

I just wanted to pop in real quick to kick things off again, but I will write more over the course of the week and hopefully add some pictures on Thursday as well.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Small things to will hopefully add up to a done project

Yet another weekend has passed with no blogging and more importantly, no pictures. I am working on it, I am just not working on it very fast.

Last weekend was spent with a visiting friend, so not much sewing went on, but we moved some things around in the sewing room and I have since been able to move some more things into the space that were still in the old room.

This past week, I managed to get to GStreet Fabrics and pick out some buttons for the blue jacket. I had a chance to do a few test runs with the Singer buttonholer I picked up on e-Bay for my old Singer 401. OMG, what a difference. That thing makes fabulous buttonholes and it doesn't even blink at the slightly thicker fabric of the jacket. I still have to play around with it a little more to get it all worked out (the jacket's button holes should be vertical and the basic instructions of the widget are for horizontal buttonholes), but the basics are there.

I assembled and attached the bottom band for the jacket and I am close to being done with the collar. After that it is down to inserting the sleeves and doing button related things. Naturally, schools starts up again today, so my slow progress may get even slower, but I will still try to get in there and do a little bit each week.

Oh, i also finished the last bit of hand sewing on my tunic and already wore it out to dinner. Overall, i am pretty happy with it.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Life is what happens when you make other plans

The other plans, in this case, were to participate in the August WiaW and make 4 garments. Life, however, blessed us with an unexpected visit of a friend. Since our daughter just left for a year in Korea and still had about 4 large boxes worth of things in the guest room that needed to be sent to her (now that we have her address), we had to plan on some excavating of the guestroom, which we did last weekend. "While we were at it" (more delays started with that sentence than any other, lol) it was a perfect opportunity to take an extra chest of drawer out of the sewing room. Naturally, the item didn't just sit there waiting for us to come and pick it up, so things had to be shifted, messes had to be made and ongoing projects had to move over for a while. While I did manage to work on my jacket on Thursday and Friday, the rest of the weekend was filled with other activities.

This week, I worked on the sleeves of the jacket (only have to be inserted at this point) and the collar assembly and I started on the lower band. That was all done on Thursday. Friday and Saturday we had company and spent some lovely time with our friend. While I may not have finished the 4 items in the 2-ish weeks allowed, I did finish 1 item and made huge progress on a second. Unless I get a major brain cramp next week and mess up a bunch of things, I should be able to finish the jacket assembly. The buttonholes may add another week, since I am not sure my modern machine is up to the task, the fabric is quite thick. I will run some tests and decide. I do have the new buttonholer for the Singer 401, so I should be okay, but of course I have not worked with that or any external buttonholer, so it may take a little longer.

No matter, I've completely finished the last handsewing on 2 of the 3 former UFOs I was working on recently, so I am very very happy with the amount of sewing I have been able to get in over the past month or so. I think as I continue to get the space set up for myself and as I continue to spend a little time each week in there, I may get into a bit of a rhythm again. I actually picked up both InStyle and Vogue's fall fashion editions, "just in case" I might be looking for some inspiration.

Now, if I can just get into a more regular blogging habit, possibly one with pictures.....

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Of course it's exactly the wrong size...

The Autumn/Winter 09/10 edition of Burda Plus Fashion includes a jacket that I am totally in love with:

Of course it is plus sized and petite, so in order to make this work I may have to unravel a section of the fabric of space and time, or something equally involved. Dang and blast, why can't these things be easy? Of course, if they were easy, I would enjoy them so much less, so I guess I should welcome the challenge, lol. The real question is: do I make it in gray (love me some gray), but I already have a long gray overcoat, or do I make it it in the heavy-ish navy wool I have mentally earmarked for a pea-coat, or do I go different and select a pattern? Choices, we likes them.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Going "Coco"

A few weeks ago, I came across a reference to "Chanel Sew-Along". I followed the links and discovered to my glee that there is going to be an informal sew along of a Chanel jacket (or coat or what not) between 1 September and somewhere towards the second or third week of November. Go here to follow the blog, get more info, or sign up.

Here is what I posted to introduce myself:

My mom sewed a "Chanel" jacket and wrap skirt about 45+ years ago. I'm not sure why she kept it all this time, especially since she didn't like it, but I think she struggled so much with it, she was not about to let it go. Surprisingly, she wanted me to have it, to "do something with", so I am going to attempt to turn both (tiny) pieces into one wearable jacket. As you may be able to see, the trim and lining has already been removed (thankfully it was not quilted down). I am starting over with the lining, of course, but I may reuse the trim.

Makes a nice contrast to the purple walls, lol. I just moved my sewing room into our daughter's old bedroom, therefore purple and green walls (they actually look pretty good). As you can see, there is a size issue to overcome.

Another one from the back

Once I pick both pieces apart, I need to zigzag all the edges and throw everything into a woolwash (by hand, of course) to get decades of dust out. I am "interviewing" several patterns right now and haven't decided yet, but once I narrow it down I will need to make a full muslin and then lay out and piece to that (I think).

Of course, since I started looking at patterns, I also looked at the Fall/Winter Couture Collection and liked it a lot, so now I am starting to eyeball this other fabric I have....oh no!

As to the latter, I just picked up some shoes that would work splendidly with a black and white Chanel-esque fabric I have been eyeballing, so I may be doomed, lol

So much to talk about....

One of the reasons I have a hard time with regular blogging is that as things happen, I don't really think they are worth-while blogging about (too "normal", too "boring"), but a week or a month later, when I realize it would have made sense to blog about this, I am so far behind I can neither get the details, not the emotions back from the actual event. All of this is to tell you that over the past week, I have actually made some surprising progress in the sewing room, I just failed to mention it this far.

In an effort to catch up:

-the two buttonholers I won on eBay came in and I am so pleased. I have to take pictures to do justice to the wonderfulness of it all and more importantly I need to play with the new toys, but it can wait until after the WiaW. I added a zigzagger to the new vintage sewing gizmo collection, so I will introduce all at the same time. I think I am done with vintage sewing add-ons for now, but I just read about a seperate hemstitcher that used to be available, so I may have to look into that at some point, for completeness only, you understand.

-my always smart and wonderful DH was quite correct in his suggestion to "just start anywhere" and do some actual sewing and not try to get the sewing room "right" first. I decided to try to get some UFOs finished and wearable. Three of them all belong together, jacket, skirt and pants in a fluid, non-crushable mystery fabric in a black pebbly weave. The jacket is from Shirley Adams 300 series (set-in sleeves jackets). It has a bust dart, but is otherwise lose through the body. The idea is to shape it via a belt that is routed through the top extensions of the pockets. It's a bit hard to see, due to the somewhat crummy lighting in the room and the black fabric, but I do have a picture:

I used a contrasting belt for this picture to show that the top extensions of the patch pockets are actually the channel for the belt, but it doesn't really show up. I think I need to go back to Paint Shop Pro and work on this. Anyway, this jacket was started a long time ago (more than 5 years, but less than 10). All went well until I got to the set-in sleeves and then all went someplace in a handbasket. After I learned about the tie-interfacing trick for sleevecaps from a Peggy Sagers class (best tip, ever!), I conquered the sleeves. Unfortunately, with one thing and another, this jacket just kind of lingered in the 90% done stage for years. It is now officially 98-99% done, with the only things missing being some binding around one armhole lining (old design choice, who knows why, lol), a bit of seam binding on the bottom hem of the jacket and the label. I actually wore it to work last week and was very pleased with it.

The matching skirt (matching fabric, that is, the pattern is unrelated, a Simplicity I think, will have to look up the number) was almost more finished than the jacket (missing hem, some clean up around the waist band and a hook and eye), it is now done except for hand sewing the closure and the label.

Finally, at the time, I must have decided the fluid fabric would lend itself nicely to a pair of Louise Cutting's One-Seam Pants, so one pair was cut out and ready to go, except, as some double checking confirmed, they were just exactly not the correct length. I added faux cuffs and called it a design feature. Since I made my first (and until now, only) pair for OSPs, DH has gifted me with a great serger (more on the tools some other time). It is amazing what a difference a serger makes in the construction speed and quality of these pants. Doh! What can I say, I am just now overcoming my sergerphobia and am constantly amazed at that machine (mostly amazed, sometimes frustrated). Anyway, all that is missing in the OSPs is a label and fixing a tiny gaping issue where the elastic is inserted. I think I will have to plop in a movie sometime next week and get all of that handsewing done.

-I decided to join the Chanel Sew-along, but that is a separate post.

-For the prep week of the WiaW, I made planned changes to the jacket pattern (lengthend by 2" and changed to front pieces to a different cup size) and cut everything out of the fashion fabric. I carefully cut out the tunic, to preserve the symetry of the print as much as possible and I cut out the pattern for the skirt. I will get another chance to work on it Thursday (I work 12 hour shifts between now and then), when I expect to finish cutting out the skirt and cut out the pattern as well as the fashion fabric for the dress. I do need to get some lining for the skirt, I overlooked that somehow, but with a little luck I may be able to pick that up at G-Street Fabrics on my way home on Wednesday evening.

-my DH installed a ceiling fan/light fixture in the sewing room, solving the joint issues of gloom and heat/stuffiness very nicely.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

My WiaW plan

I tried to post to the SG thread about this, but couldn't remember how to include pictures, so I guess I will try my luck here first and try again tomorrow over at Artisan Square.

I think I may have mentioned that the WiaW is going to be all Navy. It doesn't look so hot in pictures, but it will work well with my existing wardrobe. Also, I have some other (more colorful) pieces in the planning stages already, so I won't entirely look like a "Nun light" when it's all done.

To start with, a dress. Somehow or another, I let myself run out of dresses, so it's about time to add a neutral one to the closet. This one should cover a multitude of occasions and seasons, with the addition of a jacket, or some accessories.

I realized, after i put the pattern after I put pattern and fabric together, that the cover art shows essentially the same fabric. I didn't plan it that way, it just sort of happened. It's hard to tell from this picture, but the dots are tan, rather than white, as it appears here. The dark blue on the right is the lining fabric.

Nest, a top. I have this wonderful borderprint that looks like a default skirt, but I wanted to use it a little differently, so I am going to try for a tunic.

The tunic to the very right is what I plan to make. I am probably going to use the white braid to accent the neckline, but I don't expect to use it around the bottom of the tunic or the sleeves, since that area will be mostly covered by the border print. I realize the fabric looks quite black on the screen, but is actually is a very deep midnight blue.

Lastly, I am going to make a little suit. I expect to wear either piece separately more than as a unit, but it is nice to have the option. The skirt is a new pattern to me, as are the two patterns above, but the jean style jacket is a TnT. I have made that jacket twice before and really like it. Silhouette Patterns are wonderful to work with, between the different cup sizes for the front, the well thought out assembly suggestions and the smaller seam allowance I am a fan.
It is almost impossible to see in the picture, but the fabric for both pieces is the same, a heavier handed cotton with a sort of embossed/woven-in pattern of leave like things.

I don't think I will pipe the skirt, but if I do, it will be the same fabric (which is why I think I won't, since it won't exactly be visible anyway). I am still debating if I should use some contrasting topstitching on the jacket, or if I should go all blue for a change, I haven't decided yet.

Tomorrow, I may get a chance to take a few more pictures and post some more, I have that UFO jacket to finish and take picture off and there is the Chanel sew-along I just found out about. I really have stuff to post about that, but pictures are definitively needed there (as a hint, I think I will rework a "Chanel" suit my mom made about 45 years or more ago into a jacket for myself).

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Weekend recap, still no pictures, though

DH and I decided that last weekend would be dedicated to "playing", which meant some good amount of painting time for DH each day and gave me time to putter around the new sewing room. We did have one house-related thing to do each day (things to Goodwill similar projects), but overall we spent all weekend sleeping in, hanging out, cooking together, questing (we play WoW together, great fun) and pursuing our hobbies. For the first few days (I have longer weekends due to 12-hour shifts, DH was still on vacation) I arranged and re-arranged the sewing room. It is coming together, although it will be a few more months before it will get to the "find my way around it blindly" stage.

I petted and sorted piles of fabric, I set up the Singer Futura (just as a sewing machine for the moment) and my serger. I sifted through old projects, getting an idea of the state of doneness of each UFO and I even threw away some stuff. I picked out patterns and fabrics for the August WiaW contest coming up next week (there are photos, but it will be a few days before I can upload them) and then....well, then I didn't really know what to do. There was more to move in, but I wanted to do some actual sewing related activites. It was too early to start for any prep for the WiaW and not enough time to do something completely different. waaahhhh!

I mentioned this to my DH and he sorted me out. I had just gone through the same thing after picking his hobby back up after an almost total 3-year hiatus due to deployments. His advice was to do anything. Basically to just pick up something, preferrably something already in process, and work on it. It didn't have to be sensible or fit into a plan or even work out, but he figured if I could just get started, I would get over the mental block I was experiencing. My DH is a very smart man. He was right, of course. I picked up a jacket (part of a 3-piece wardrobe concept I started about 5 years ago, possibly a little longer) and worked on it. It was a good choice, since most of the jacket was done already. I didn't have too much time to work on it, but I top-stitched the whole thing, hemmed the lining and measured and turned up the sleeves. in theory, all that is left to do is to insert the shoulder pads (little shaper ones, not 80s football pads), attach the lining around the armhole (sleeves are unlined) and hem the sleeves. It needs a good pressing, of course and quite frankly, before I do that I may just give it a quick hand wash to get any dust out I may have missed in shaking it out, but after that, I can put in my label and call it done.

There's a little skirt that goes with it. The skirt is almost done, as well (faux Hongkong finished seams and all), it just needs the hem sewn and the waistband tacked down, as well as the hook and eye installed. I have a pre-cut One-Seam Pant of the same fabric all cut out, but I will have to remeasure that. I remember that I may have miscalculated the length or something, so I had better check on that before I get too far into it. All of this is in a nicely textured black mystery fabric, so it is almost seasonless.

It's a start.

In other news, one of the autions I won on eBay, a buttonholer and the disks for the decorative stitches, arrived yesterday. What lovely stuff. I am going to take pictures and post, but I can say already that the stuff is in excellent, near pristine condition, sitll in the original packaging from 1967 and earlier. Neat!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

This is working out quite well

I mentioned yesterday that I won a buttonholer for my Singer 401 on e-bay. When I bid on that item I saw another buttonholer, but that one was bundled with the special disk collection (which enables the decorative stitches). When the 401 was gifted to me by my parents, those parts were no longer with the machine, in fact the only "special" item I ever had was a zipper foot I purchased a few years after I received the machine. Anyway, I bid on the disk/bottonholer combination, hoping I would get the disks. I just won that aution and I am very excited. I think there are 20 different disks, which should give me a nice selection of decorative stiches.

Unfortunately, I can't seem to get a good copy or a decent link to paste in here, so I will just have to take pictures as these goddies come in.

Speaking of pictures, I do intend to spruce this blog up a little, i.e. add a header etc, but I haven't been off since starting it, so it will take a little while longer. I have an idea of what to do about a header, at least for now. I am taking picture of the sewing room as it develops, it will just take a littel more time to get that all lined up and added to the blog itself. Really, this blog is a test of will and strength for me as it combines several things I love but have a hard time doing as regularly as I should (sewing, photography and blogging).

Friday, July 31, 2009

Gadgets are a good thing

One of the sewing bloggers I follow (btw, can anyone explain to me why Blogger's internal spellchecker flags "blogger" as a typo, at least in the plural or the possessive? Anyone....Bueller?)
....where was I?

Oh yes, one of the sewing bloggers I follow was sharing her experiences with her new Singer buttonholer. I'm sorry I don't remember who it was, I was getting caught up on a few weeks' backlog and lost track somehow. Anyway, whoever you are, Thank You!

My first sewing machine was a Singer 401 my parents bought for me used about 25 years ago or so. The disks for the ornamental stiches had long been lost, as had most other accessories, but the machine sewed straight and zig-zag stitch forwards and backwards at an incredible speed with many layers of fabric, if neccessary. I couldn't make button holes, so I substituted other fastening options. Overall, it was and still is a wonderfull machine.

When I read about the Singer buttonholer mentioned above I thought that it sounded like a great tool, but one that didn't apply to me, since my Singer Futura does buttonholes nicely enough. Still, I went to see the linked clip that showed how the buttonholer worked. That clip showed the gadget on an old fashioned crank machine and I suddenly realized that I could look for a buttonholer for my 401.

I checked eBay last night and as luck would have it, they had one for just that model number, still in the original packaging (basically, it's new). I just won the auction for $4.99--squueeeee! I am looking forward to playing with it. If it works, I will probably set my Futura up as a permanent embroidery machine and use the 401 for most of the day to day sewing (which will suit me better, since the Futura, being all electronic, has a govenor and is irritatingly slow to sew with). Now I am looking for the disks that I need for the many decorative stitches the machine offers (not to me, of course, since I am missing those disks, but it would if I had them).

Okay, back to work....

Why is there no time to sew?

I checked my Stitchers' Guild profile earlier to see when I had posted last. Apparently it was the summer of 2007. At the time I was very excited to participate in the SWAP, especially since my DH had just started on the first of what would be 2 year-long Army Reserve activations with assorted deployments. It seemed to make sense, he would be away and I would have more time to sew. It was a great theory. I ended up using all of the "extra" time to start working on my next degree. Homework cuts into sewing time. I am sure to remember that statement next month, when I start school again, after having taken a year off for his second deployment (my work schedule had changed and I was no longer able to pull it all off in the time left to me).

For now, for this month at least though, he's back home and on vacation and I don't have homework yet. The garden is already a mess, so it can wait a few weeks longer to be cleared up. My plan is to move into to my new sewing space over my upcoming weekend. I moved a few stacks of fabric and some books last Tuesday, just to get an idea and have something to inspire me. Most of the fabric will need to be refolded over time for the doors of the cabinets to close completely, but that can wait.

For now, I just want to make the space workable. I want to pull 4 garments worth of fabric, notions and patterns out of my stash, which should be easy, since I was all set for the SWAP and a few additional projects. In other words, I should be able to do the WiaW, as well as a few more projects after that without having to set foot into a store. Hmm, now that I think about it, that does not sounds all that attractive, lol. Seriously, though, my goal is to do 4 garments from scratch for the WiaW, after that I really need to sort out the UFO situation. Most of them are between 80-95 percent done, they all still fit, as far as I know, there are no major issues, just some fiddly bits to be completed, and all of the items are great fall/winter good-for-work items, so it's time to get them off the board.

I hope that being able to access my machines without first having to set them up, having access to supplies, iron and board, as well as my cutting table and having a door to hide it all behind during the week, will enable me to "pop in" and work on things 15 minutes at a time. This may all come to a screeching halt once school starts up again, but I hope that the short term intensity of the WiaW will help prime my sewing mojo again.

In the mean time, I am looking forward to a weekend sorting, moving, upacking and repacking. I will get to move my fabrics around which always kicks off ideas, I will sort through patterns and pull out some candidates for the WiaW and I will find out where I am with the UFOs that I know are packed up in several bags throughout. I almost can't wait until Sunday!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

So it begins

I love to sew. I love the creative aspect of sewing, as well as the opportunities it gives me to puzzle things out, rearrange things and make things uniquely mine-well, maybe not so very unique but at least different from RTW.

I seldom sew. In fact, I haven't sewn a garment for double-digit months. I made nice curtains for my remodeled kitchen as well as the newly decorated living room, I have mended some fabric grocery bags, I have even fixed a hem and re-attached a button, but I have not made a garment in far too long. I could explain it, there are good reasons, it all makes sense, but I have decided to just let it go and try for a new beginning.

Our daughter left the nest a few years ago, but of course her room was still as it had been while she lived at home. She just spent 4 lovely weeks with us before moving to Korea for a year and while she was here she sorted and packed a lot of her things and we moved them all to a storage unit. I am moving my sewing things from the itty-bitty studio I share with my husband (who paints and airbrushes figure kits) to our daughter's old room. The little studio is a lovely space with great light and storage and work surfaces galore, but it has no floor space. No cutting or laying out of fabric and patterns can be done in that room, the sewing dummy can not be used and there is entirely no room for a mirror.

The "new" sewing room is very nice. For now, I am keeping the layout and style as it is, but after I live with it for a while, I expect that I will make a few changes. The room has everything I am looking for right now: a long and sturdy desk that can hold several machines as well as a laptop (to run the embroidery unit), internet access, a long wall of Ikea "Billy" cabinet units, with doors on the bottom and shelves on top and a nice view. There is room for a fold down cutting table and a sewing dummy ("Emmi") and even a little room for sewing related decor (an old hand-cranked table top machine etc). I started moving some of my things into the room on Tuesday, but due to my odd work schedule I will not be able to work on this again until Sunday. With a little effort, I should be able to be "moved in" by, if not before Wednesday, who knows, I may even be able to look through my UFOs.

About those UFOs, it's a good thing I have a fairly classic taste in clothes and do not change size too drastically over time. Some of those UFOs have been with me for some time. None of them has been entirely abandoned and a few of them are mere stitches from being finishes, so one of the goals is to figure out what needs to be done on each and to finish them. This is very sensible and a really good idea, but it is a bit depressing, so I am going to treat myself. I think I am going to take part in the "August Wardrobe in a Week" . This is much less ambitious than a SWAP, the timing is great, I have tons of material, patterns and notions and the split between the prep week and the sewing week seems like an excellent idea. As a matter of fact, I think I will pop over to the site in a little while, introduce myself again (after a too long absense) and "sign up".

If I manage to make this work, I will be posting about my progress right here.