Saturday, March 28, 2009

Next: Burda 7670 Blouse & 7676 Pants

A non-BWOF project! Sure, it's a Burda envelope pattern, but it's not BWOF! Never let it be said all I ever sew are BWOFs. As a matter of fact, when I went to Jo-Ann to buy the notions for this outfit, I must have been in a non-BWOF state of mind. Butterick patterns were on sale - 2 for $3.00. I had two patterns picked out, but put them back at the last minute. When I got home, I actually regretted not buying them. At least I considered something other than BWOF and actually had the patterns in my hands! Maybe, next time they go on sale, I'll actually buy one!!!!

But I digress …… The inspiration for this outfit came from the fabric. I saw the two-toned stretch denim in my favorite Fabric Row store, Kincus Fabrics … and it was red. I like the way the red is a subtle undertone in the denim. There were other colors, but I went for the red. (Deep down inside, I'm a red kinda woman! A man told me once I looked good in red and I've held on to that!) I bought the fabric, not only because it was red, but with the right blouse, I saw it as an acceptable way to wear jeans to work. At home, I live in jeans, but something in my "old school" upbringing says, "You don't wear jeans to work". I'm always trying to find ways to get around that little detail. I was determined to have red fabric for the blouse, even if I had to weave it myself. Luckily, I found a red microfiber. I'm not a big fan of microfiber but it was red! Microfiber drapes beautifully but it's very dense and doesn't breathe. I bought a microtex needle to handle the density. I'm planning to make a muslin for the jeans. The denim has lycra so I don't want too much of the extra room I'd get by cutting a larger size. I'm excited about this outfit and I really want the pants to fit.

I'm seriously considering non-Burda patterns. I'm making a muslin without a gun to my head. I'd better check Hell and see if it's frozen over.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Finished: BWOF 05-06-132 Blouse & BPF FW07-405 Pants

The long sleeved blouse has top-stitched vertical darts in the front and back. The blouse is basic and doesn't have any particular design details to distinguish it – unless you count the button on the sleeve placket, which I eliminated anyway. I chose it because is was basic. Any design details would have been lost in the print, anyway. I bought this fabric for a blouse, and I don't remember what happened to the coordinating fabric for pants. I think I bought it and decided I didn't like it with the other fabric I'd bought.

The pants are basic fly front and represent a milestone - but not a positive one. I cut a size larger than I usually cut. (sob!) Lately, I've noticed a little tightness in the thigh area of the pants I make. Cutting a larger size solved that problem, even if it demolished my ego. If I try, I can convince myself there is a little too much room in the abdomen. Whether the belly area is too big or not, I really have to get back on that elliptical machine.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Mate for the Old Maid?

Sometimes, OCD isn't fun. I couldn't stand the thought of something I made not having the perfect mate. So, I went to Gaffney Fabrics in Philadelphia's Germantown neighborhood with swatch in hand to find a mate for one of my old maids. I put the swatch next to the bolt at least twenty times, squinted my eyes and stared from six different angles and essentially looked like a crazy woman. But … I found a twill that matches the batik - if one doesn't look too closely. Typical of Gaffney's prices, it was $1.99 a yard, so I didn't stress about pouring more money into an outfit that doesn't work. It hasn't been sunny enough to look at the two fabrics in natural light. Why do color and light play such evil tricks on the eyes? I have a feeling I'll be carrying this swatch around for weeks - always on the look-out for the perfect match. The never-ending hope of the old maid!

Saturday, March 14, 2009


I've had fun getting to know my new serger. I had my former serger, an Elna Pro 5 DC, for about 15 years, so I expect it will take some time for me get used to the Evolve. But so far, I like it! Since my conventional sewing machine is a Bernina, I first considered the Bernina 1300MDC. When I went to my favorite dealer and told her what I wanted, she recommended the Babylock Evolve. They didn't even have a Bernina serger in the store to demonstrate! According to the dealer, when the owner's classes are held, the Babylock owners were much happier and had lots more fun than the Bernina owners. Still, I wanted to make an informed decision, so I went to another dealer for a demonstration and second opinion. The second opinion was the same as the first. They, at least, had a Bernina 1300MDC machine on site to demonstrate, but only one salesperson knew how to use it and she didn't work that day! The poor little machine was on the floor under the shelf that held the Babylocks.

As an introductory project, I took time off from garment sewing and made covers for my machines. My objective was to use serger stitches that I don't often use so I could see how difficult is was to change configurations for different stitches. I finished the seam allowances by sewing them together with a two-thread overcast stitch and I used a cover stitch for the hems. It took a long time, about 3 - 5 minutes, for me to configure the serger for the various stitches. But once it was configured, the stitches looked great and no further fine tuning was necessary. I'm sure my times will be better when I'm more familiar with the machine. When I was totally finished experimenting with the stitches and configurations, I set it up for the 5-thread (2-thread chain w/ 3-thread wide overlock), the stitch I use most often. Switching between that stitch and the 3-thread overlock, my second most used stitch, won't take long.

The manual boasts 87 stitches! (I counted only 70, but hey …) According to Babylock, 3 thread overlock narrow and 3 thread overlock wide are two different stitches. According to me, a 3-thread overlock is a 3-thread overlock, no matter how wide or narrow it is. At first, just the idea of 8 threads was a little intimidating. I wanted a serger that did a cover stitch and the chain stitch-overlock combination. The only way to have both is with 8 threads. All eight threads can actually be used at once, (can you say "overkill"?) but I don't see that in my future. I have one small issue with the Evolve. My Elna came with a thread catcher and the Evolve does not. I had to order one from Clotilde.

Overall, I'm very pleased with the Babylock Evolve. I was sad to see the old Elna go, but nothing in this life is constant – not even sewing machines.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Finished: BWOF 02-07-131

The Old Maid is finished. (That sounds ominous, doesn't it? - like the first line of a bad mystery novel) I had a cavalier attitude about this skirt. Usually my projects are born from a long and intensive planning process. I study my BWOF index obsessively for days before deciding on a project. This time, I just chose the first skirt for which the fabric requirements matched the amount of fabric I had on hand. I took a chance by choosing this silhouette. I wasn't sure it would flatter my boxy body. But since it was an old maid project to begin with, I had nothing to lose. Just like society in general, I didn't place a lot of value on an Old Maid. (The fact that some might consider me an Old Maid does nothing to change my attitude.) But my gamble paid off. I actually like the skirt! Since it was made with left-over fabric, it's an extra added bonus.

The skirt was very easy to make. The lining was made using the skirt pieces, which means the lining has 11 panels. I had no problem with the existence of a lining, but piecing together 11 panels is a little too much work for just a lining. I suspect a Big 4 pattern would have included just one front piece and one back piece for the lining. I remembered to interface the zipper area. I'm convinced now that interfacing this area makes a difference in the way the zipper area looks. Hopefully, I'll remember to do this every time from now on.

Parting non sequitur: I've developed a hypothesis. I often listen to books on CD while I sew. While making this skirt, I was listening to Lisey's Story by Stephen King. I wonder if I would have been more optimistic about this skirt if I'd listened to a lighter, happier book? Hmmm.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

An Interactive Fairy Tale

Once upon a time last November, while cleaning out my basement storage room, I found a box full of old craft materials. Under the rubber stamps, paint bottles and Mod Podge, I found a dusty old lamp. "Why on earth did I buy this ?", I wondered. When I began to polish the lamp, blue smoke appeared and materialized into a genie. As genies are compelled to do, he gave me three wishes.

Back in November, the government seemed unconcerned about the economic crisis and rising unemployment. So I said, " I wish there were someone in government who actually cared about the concerns of working people like me." Genie said, "No problem." He waved his arms with a flourish and …

(Click the Genie)

"Wow!", I said. "These wishes are powerful! I'd better take my time and use them wisely"

Several months later, my mood needed lifting again. So I told Genie, "The country needs to see something inspirational to remind us that people can rise to the occasion and do what needs to be done". "That's easy" the genie said, and …

My faith in human beings was restored, but I realized I lacked the wisdom to make a wish that would fix everything that needed fixing. So I decided to be a little more selfish in using my last wish. I said, "Genie, I can't wish away the problems of the world. Give me something I can use to make my sewing therapy, my primary means of relaxation, more effective". "I can do that!" said Genie …

And I lived happily ever after.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

To My Sewing Sisters

I'm ambivalent about these blog awards. Of course, I want to be recognized, (and thank you Lindsay T for recognizing me) but it's very difficult for me to name a selected number of blogs when there are so many excellent blogs I read and enjoy. This Sisterhood Award is a little different, though. It's based on Attitude and/or Gratitude. The reasons I nominated these bloggers have little to do with sewing. They are SWA - Sewers With Attitude! They are artistic, spiritual, fun, classy, eager, smart, funny and generous.

So, my nominees are:
  1. Adrienne @ Real Life: Live & Unscripted
  2. Nancy @ Encue Creations
  3. Faye @ Faye's Sewing Adventures
  4. Cidell @ Miss Celie's Pants
  5. Summerset @ Pins & Needles
  6. Liana @ Sew Intriguing
  7. Karen @ Sewing by the Seat of my Pants
  8. Elizabeth @ Story of E
  9. Joan - WannaSew
And, here's what the nominees have to do:

1. Put the logo on your blog or post
2. Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude!
3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link to the person from whom you received your award.

Sisters, go forth and nominate!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Two Old Maids

Some time ago, I bought fabric for a blouse and, for a reason I don't remember, I don't have fabric that coordinates with it. Then, I had lots of Italian wool left over when I made my dress. As a result, I have two old maid projects. I decided to use the Italian wool for a skirt and go forward with the blouse. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the skirt and blouse fabric went together? If the two fabrics went together better, I'd use a different pattern for the blouse and wear them together – no more Old Maids. But I never have that kind of luck. The batik for the blouse has too much green and not enough teal to go with the skirt fabric. I'll probably end up wearing the blouse around the house with jeans.

But, there is a bright side. There is a collar technique on the Insider Techniques DVD I just bought that I can try on this blouse. This technique eliminates the bulky seams at the front edges of the collar by moving the seam to the center back. Nancy Zeiman calls it the "Magic Collar". I'm thinking, "If it works on a collar, won't it also work on a collar band?" Old Maid projects are perfect or experimentation.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Dueling Details - BWOF 08-08-129 Revisited

At first, I wasn't happy with the way the blouse turned out. The changes I made to the sleeve didn't really help the look of the blouse. The length, the tucked sleeve cap and the man-tailored cuff and placket resulted in a very confused blouse. When I finished the pants, I took another look at the blouse as it related to the complete outfit. I decided to shorten it and remove one of the dueling details. Now, I have a shirt with pintucks on the sleeve; not an extra-long blouse with pintucks and strange sleeves that don't look quite right.

What have I learned? I am not a designer. I learned to respect the designer's original concept. I put a hard, tailored feature on a soft, feminine blouse. Yuck! In the future, my design changes will not be in opposition to the original concept.