Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Next: BWOF 04•07•133

You can't stop me now! I've made design changes to a few pieces and now I want to change everything!!! Well, not really – but I do feel more confident about changing patterns. In the grand scheme of things, how big a deal is it if I mess up a piece of fabric? Someone, I can't remember who, said "It's only fabric" and I'm embracing that philosophy to a degree. This particular project is presented as a "long blouse" in BWOF, but I prefer it as a dress. All I have to do is lengthen the bottom and shorten and maybe square off the vents. I don't want to show-off too much thigh.

Even if the fabric is expensive , as in this project, and I don't have a wearable dress at the end of the process – c'est la vie! I bought the fabric at Metro on my last shopping trip to NYC. It's Italian wool. Kashi, Jr. said that and I could tell I was supposed to be impressed. Admittedly, my knowledge of fabric is not what it should be so I pretended to be impressed by saying "Ooohhh!" and nodding my head knowingly. I bought it because I liked it and I thought it would make a good winter dress – not because of it's pedigree. It has a very nice drape, appropriate for a dress. After my last unsuccessful project and considering all the pintucks on the front, I should be seriously considering a muslin. But, I'm like the very first victim in a slasher movie. I'm happily skipping along to my next sewing project, totally unaware of the horrible disaster that is about to happen to me.

Hmmm … maybe that muslin deserves a little more consideration.


What do you do when you have Tangi, a four month old kitten who drives you crazy with her FRAPs (Frenetic Rapid Activity Period) and lethal claws? If you're normal, you wait for Tangi to outgrow her wild behavior. If you're a sucker for cats, like me, you get Soleil, Tangi's sister – two months younger and certain to extend the length of time I'll have to deal with FRAPs and with claws that are even more lethal. The only time I could take her picture was when she was asleep. After a week, she has reached the point where she doesn't let Tangi intimidate her and they chase each other around the house for most of the day. I'm sure Tangi will be much happier with someone of her own species to play with. Her sister has to be more fun than a middle-aged woman who is often unaccessible in her sewing room.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Disappointment Hurts

I'm so disappointed! I just finished BWOF 07-2008-131 (the pants to match the BWOF 07/2008-133) blouse and they are too small – embarrassingly so! I don't know what went wrong. I used the same size I always use. I checked that I traced the correct size. I made the same pattern adjustments I always make (length adjustments). I haven't gained any weight. I followed the fabric recommendations. I just don't understand what went wrong. (whine whine whine) I'm especially disappointed because I did some of my best sewing on these pants. I remembered to interface the fly front zipper area. I even remembered to use stay tape on the hip yoke pockets.

Here's my theory. In the US, size measurements are not standardized. If you have a size 12 in the Gap, for instance, it may not be the same as a size 12 in Anne Klein. This is probably even more true with larger sizes. Maybe the size measurements in Germany are not standardized, either. Maybe BWOF copies designers samples exactly and therefore copies the differences in size measurements. Sallie Sahne is a designer that often appears in BWOF's plus collections. I've never had this problem with Sallie Sahne designs. The blouse from this collection (from Delmond) is a little tight and that further supports my theory.

Yes, I know this would not have happened if I'd made a muslin or took flat pattern measurements before sewing. Even after this fiasco, I hate making muslins, but I can learn to take flat pattern measurements before I start tracing.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Sewing Gods Giveth and the Sewing Gods Taketh Away

This blouse is from the plus-sized collection of BWOF 07/2008. It has many design features: front patch pockets, side slits, princess seams in front, center back seam, and top-stitched front vertical darts.

I'm getting better with BWOF instructions. The collar and front bands were assembled in the same way a jacket collar and facing are sewn and I actually got that from reading the instructions - without pictures. Usually, with a blouse, the front bands are sewn on and then the collar unit. In this blouse, the collar was not treated as a single unit. In this case, first, just the outside band was sewn to the front, then the under collar was sewn to the neckline. Next, the upper collar and inner band were sewn together and this collar/front band unit was sewn to the under collar and outer band. Of course, I could have used the familiar conventional method. But, I like to learn BWOF's construction methods. Usually, there is a method to the perceived madness.

I used a microfiber for this blouse. My jury is still out on microfibers. They look like silk, one of my favorite fabrics, but they are very dense. I didn't use a microfiber needle, but only because I didn't have one. I'm sure sewing through such a dense fabric dulled my needles faster.

I had high expectations for this blouse. It turned out well, but not without sacrifices. As usual, I loved the BWOF design details; particularly the pockets, the princess seams, and the top-stitching on the darts. The big issue with this blouse was the sleeves. I preferred long cuffed sleeves, so I did a major design change. I was concerned because I'm not used to making major design changes. The sewing gods gave me the sleeves I wanted. But the sewing gods demanded a sacrifice. The front darts gave the blouse a "fitted" silhouette. I don't have the midsection for fitted silhouettes so I had to give up the darts, which were one of my favorite features, by ripping them out - stitch by stitch of the top-stitching and stitch by stitch of the darts. Unfortunately, the needle holes didn't magically disappear with steam.

The pockets were more than I expected. What looks like topstitching in the technical drawing is actually a bias strip! (I love the way BWOF surprises me.) My edgestitch foot is my favorite foot so the narrow strips were not a problem. I used tape to hold the strips in place so that pins would not interfere with the edgestitch foot. The pocket was cut on the fold. The edges were finished when the pocket piece was folded, right sides together, and the edges sewn and turned right side out.

I don't often make patterns more than once; not because I don't like the patterns well enough. I just don't make patterns more than once. But, I will probably make a warm weather version of this blouse. I'll use a more breathable fabric and keep the 3/4 length sleeves. I have coordinating pants planned for this blouse. It took a long time to complete the blouse and I wanted to analyze it while the experience was still fresh.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

CPAP and Sewing

Several weeks ago, I was diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea. My most obvious symptoms were excessive fatigue and sleepiness during the day and snoring and cessation of breathing at night. The treatment of choice is CPAP -Continuous Positive Airway Pressure - delivered by a machine through a face mask while I sleep. I can't think of anything that kills the mood faster (or deader) than wearing a face mask attached to a 6 foot long tube connected to a machine. (shudder)

My love-life notwithstanding, CPAP has affected my sewing. Before CPAP, I consistently woke up between 4:30 and 5:00 AM. I often used that time for sewing. After CPAP, I now sleep right up to the alarm at 6:00 AM and my extra sewing time is gone! Before CPAP, I began to get sleepy at 8:00 PM. I can't say how many Final Jeopardy questions I didn't see because I fell asleep! After CPAP, I'm able to stay awake until 10:00 PM. I'm able to get my eight hours of sleep and sew in the evening, like normal, grown-up people and (hopefully), I'll be alert enough not to make the stupid mistakes I used to make when I was sewing and groggy in the evening. There is another, indirect advantage to CPAP treatment. This more conventional sleeping cycle allows me to feel more energetic when I wake up - energetic enough to fit in some much needed exercise in the morning. And if I stick with my exercise program, maybe I won't have to add those extra inches to the waist and thighs of the pants I sew! Now, that's an advantage I can live with!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Giveaway #1: The First Step

I decided to start 2009 with a book give-away. I have several like-new books that I don't use and I'd like to pass them along to people who could use them.

Perhaps you know someone who wants to learn to sew … and you're too busy sewing to teach them. Maybe you are a beginning sewer and you want easy projects. To encourage someone to learn to sew, I'm giving this book away free - free - free to a lucky reader!

Sew Fast Sew Easy by Elissa K Meyrich is includes 3 ready-to-use patterns for a pillow, a tote bag and a skirt. The projects are simple and perfect for a beginner.

From Amazon.com:
"You’ll learn:
- Tips and techniques from a fashion industry insider
- How to use your sewing machine to express your creativity
- How to custom-fit commercial patterns for that sexy look
- All about the latest fabrics and the best ways to use them

Plus a glossary of sewing terms makes quick reference easy."

To be eligible for the drawing send an e-mail expressing your interest to Elaray2003@gmail.com with "Give-away" in the subject line. Deadline for entries is January 11, 2009. The winner will be randomly selected and the book will be shipped via USPS. (No international entries, please.)

Disclaimer: This giveaway is a personal venture and is not associated with any author or publisher.