Friday, September 28, 2007

"Pimp My Pattern"

I'm trying to be a more creative sewer. I'm very good at sticking to the directions, but I'm a little afraid of going further. The best sewers, in my opinion, are the ones who use a pattern as a jumping off point and customize it into something more personalized. Isn't that one of the reasons we sew? I've changed patterns for fit, but I've never made changes purely for design. To build my confidence, I'm starting with a simple project for my first Adventure in Customizing. I want to change Burda 7882 into a simple long sleeved shirt without the bib.

The bib seam originating from the shoulder serves as a dart, so I'll have to add a bust dart when I eliminate the bib. That should be the most difficult part of this project (she said with naive and enthusiastic hopefulness). I have two good resources: Shirtmaking by David Coffin and Make Your Own Patterns by Rene Bergh. I understand the theory of pivoting darts – I just have to put it into practice. Yes, I could have bought a pattern without the bib, but that wouldn't be a challenge. One can't improve one's skills without an occasional challenge.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I've Been Tagged

When I started seeing "You've Been Tagged" posts, I hoped no one would ever tag me. But Nancy got me.

Here is my list of 8 things you wouldn't know about me.
  1. I absolutely love beach vacations – especially Hilton Head.
  2. I can't finish a non-fiction book to save my life.
  3. My guilty pleasure: I've been watching "The Young and the Restless" for more than 20 years.
  4. My mother died suddenly when my brother was 8, I was 6, and my sister was 5 months. I'm eternally thankful to my father for deciding to keep us together in spite of pressure from well-meaning relatives.
  5. I lost everything, except what I chose to keep for sentimental reasons, in a fire in 1993. Neither my daughter nor I were at home when the fire started. Two months later, my father died. Surviving those experiences definitely made me stronger and strengthened my faith in God.
  6. I love Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. I read "Lean Mean Thirteen" twice in one weekend.
  7. I enjoy making soap. When I first started, I made enough soap to last about 18 months! Now, all my oils have gone bad and I have to start all over again!
  8. In spite of taking piano lessons throughout most of my childhood, I have no musical talent, whatsoever. None. Nada. Zilch. But in my mind, I'm Nina Simone.
Whew! That was hard! Forgive me, but I'm going to be a bad sport and not tag anyone else right now. I want to see who has not yet been tagged.

Thanks a lot, Nancy! I'll get you for this! :)

Art: "Tag You're It" Sylvia Wald

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Rockin' Nominations

Nancy at Encue nominated my blog for a Rockin' Girl recognition. I was thrilled. But it's not easy nominating 5 other blogs. Some of my favorites have been nominated already. But they are still my favorites, so I'm nominating them again.

1. The Secret Pocket Dawn's posts are little sewing lessons; very informative.
2. Miss Celie's Pants Cidell likes BWOF and The Color Purple as much as I do. Her blog is fun.
3. Diary of a Sewing Fanatic In addition to showcasing fantastic sewing skills, Carolyn's blog inspires me to think.
4. DIY Style Erica is the "Meryl Streep" of sewing bloggers! Consistently great!
5. Pins & Needles Summerset takes us, step-by-step, through the creation of her absolutely amazing, prize winning art-to-wear pieces.

While I like being selected as a Rockin' Girl Blogger, I don't like having to nominate 5 blogs for recognition. When I think about it, my blogosphere is really quite small. I visit the same 10 - 15 blogs regularly. I'm sure there are scores of great blogs that I haven't even seen yet. Hopefully, through other's nominations, I can learn about these blogs and discover something new.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Next: BWOF 08/2007 #126 & #127

My current project is BWOF 08/2007 #126 blouse and #127 jeans. This is the first time I've made something from BWOF in the same year it was published! The blouse fabric came from Vogue Fabrics by Mail – a pretty green I call "corn husk". I'm using black denim for the jeans. The blouse will be topstitched in black so that it coordinates with the jeans. I debated contrasting topstitching for the jeans to match the blouse, but (thankfully) I decided against it. When I finish this outfit, I'll have at least 3 pairs of black pants. Obvioiusly, all the SWAP talk has gone right over my head.

I was excited about a BWOF pattern for 5 pocket jeans. It's hard to find jeans that I'm comfortable wearing. In spite of Oprah and the women on What Not To Wear, I like "Mom Jeans". I am a mom, after all – why shouldn't I wear "Mom Jeans"? I really can't see myself (or my belly) in the jeans that younger, thinner women might be wearing. Fashionista fans of BWOF are always praising it for being "fashion forward". My Mom Jeans and I might finally be right in style.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

My Newest Favorite Notion

Most of the clothing I make for myself is from BWOF or Burda Plus and I'm always looking for ways to make the process easier. I used to trace off the pattern pieces, pin them to the fabric and add the seam allowance while cutting using a rotary cutter with adjustable arm. A few months ago, I didn't have enough fabric for a project and I had to cut and squeeze and eliminate hems and pray that the pieces fit on the fabric; remembering to leave enough room to add the seam allowances. It would have been simpler if the seam allowances were already included on the pattern pieces. So, my newest favorite notion for adding seam allowances to patterns is an ordinary compass.

I read this tip on Pattern Review, but until recently, I rarely used it. I adjust the compass to the desired width and add the seam allowances. I run the point of the compass along the seam line and the cutting line is added! It took some experimentation to find a way to hold the compass and apply the pressure needed to make a mark. The compass doesn't have to be anything fancy. One thing to keep in mind is the point of the compass – a plastic point that won't tear the paper is better than a sharp metal point. (A lesson I learned the hard way.) I also occasionally check the compass against a measuring gauge or ruler to make sure the distance between points remains constant.

Using a BWOF pattern is more labor intensive than using most other patterns. I have to read the directions very carefully. Sometimes, I have to consult outside sources. But I'm usually pleased with the results. The more I use them, the easier it gets.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

My Sister's NYC Dress

When I went to the Garment District in NYC with my sister, she also bought some fabric. It's been many years since she sewed anything. But she got caught up in the frenzy and bought some fabric from Metro Textiles. She made this dress: Butterick 5001. Now that she has earned her MA, she has more time to sew. This dress represents her return to sewing! I plan to encourage her endeavors as much as possible. I promised I would post her picture when she finished the dress. I'm visiting her because she had a party to celebrate earning her MA.

The following is from Sis:

"I really had fun making this dress! I had to make a second bodice with alterations, since the regular pattern dimensions were way too short for my torso. The first time I wore it was to church, and afterwards, my husband took this picture in our back yard. I've gotten lots of compliments on the dress, and I look forward to my next sewing project (probably school clothes for our 2 daughters)."

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

BWOF 01/2006 130 & 131

Some things are just unexplainable. This top is made from an interlock knit. I believed interlock knits had no nap and had no right side or wrong side. But the right side front panel is a little darker than the rest of the shirt. It looks as if it were cut in a different direction than the other pieces. I don't know how this happened. The fabric was folded so it had to be cut in the same direction as the left side front panel. If it were inside out, it wouldn't have fit together and the neckline would have looked really strange. Only one side, not both, appears shaded. I just don't understand how this could have happened. I didn't notice this until I looked at the photograph. I relegated this shirt to "knock around the house" status, but some people on SG suggested I do something to make it look deliberate. I thought maybe fabric paint and a simple stencil; or maybe couching some textured yarn on the offending panel. Other people suggested I wear it under a jacket. I just wish I know how it happened!!! I guess this is just another unsolved mystery of the universe.

The pants were a pleasure – no surprises at all. Because I often found BWOF directions so inadequate, I never even read the directions for fly front zippers. Then, Summerset mentioned that she "loved" BWOF directions for fly front zippers. I've never found anything lovable about BWOF directions. But Summerset pointed out something I should have realized for myself – the illustrated sewing course included in each issue of BWOF! Since I use the plus size patterns (which are never selected as an illustrated sewing course), I'd completely overlooked the detailed directions in the sewing courses. There were illustrated and detailed directions for a fly front zipper in the July 2007 issue! And Summerset even posted a comparison of two methods. I do prefer the results using the BWOF instructions! (I won't go as far as saying I "love" them – not yet anyway.) I'm so glad knowledgeable and generous people like Summerset are part of this online sewing community.