Friday, October 30, 2009

What's Right? What's Wrong?

Ultimately, the solution to my latest self-made quandary is totally up to me. But, my OCD is showing again and I have to know the truth.

The Backstory
I bought a piece of Italian wool on my last trip to Les Fabriques in Charlottesville, VA. I call the color "olive gray". Naturally, I wanted a coordinating fabric with which to make a blouse. Neither the salesperson nor I could find anything in the store and I was a little worried I'd have to settle for a cream color or something equally boring. When I got home, I checked my Vogue Fabrics by Mail swatches and I found a match! (Click photo to enlarge) I love Vogue Fabrics by Mail, but their swatches are very small. It is sometimes difficult to know what the fabric actually looks like when you have only a 2" x 3" swatch. This was the case with my fabric choice and the beginning of my quandary.

The Quandary
Way back in junior high school, I learned fabric on the bolt is folded right side in. If that is the case with this fabric, I'm in trouble. When I received the fabric, the right side was not at all what I expected. (Click photo to enlarge) There is very little of the olive gray in the fabric and more rust-brown. I couldn't see this in the small swatch. The wrong side of the fabric coordinates better with the wool. What's an obsessive person to do? Use the wrong side?!?!? (Let me sit down. I'm feeling light-headed.)

Fortunately, I have evolved enough to be able to use the side that matches best without any regard to the conventional right side or wrong side. (Well, almost.) Other than me, who's gonna know? But I am a recovering obsessive-compulsive. I still want to know which side is actually the right side.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Next: Two Blouses

I don't understand this mystery of the universe: every time I do my seasonal closet changeover, I discover some of my clothes have mysteriously disappeared. I usually toss out a few things when I put away off-season clothes, but I'm convinced some things just evaporate when I open the vacuum-sealed space saver bags. I feel like I have no fall/winter clothes and I'm desperate to replace the clothes that have vanished. I've already bought a few things. Now, I'm going to be sewing like a fiend for the next several days. Rain is forecast this weekend and I have to stay home and wait for a repairman on Saturday, so I should be able to accomplish a lot.
First in the queue is Kwik Sew 3586. I've made this blouse once before, so I consider it a TNT. Even if it weren't a TNT, Kwik Sew patterns really are kwik to sew and have no interesting design details to slow me down. At this point, my goal is to have blouses, not a meaningful sewing experience. For the meaningful sewing experience, I'll work on BWOF 06-09-136, a classic long sleeved blouse - BWOF style. The distinctive design detail is the collar. Somehow, BWOF patterns take a simple detail, like a stand up collar and make it a little different. In this case, the front bands extend up to the top of the collar instead of stopping at the attachment seam. I'm not totally sure I even like this treatment. It looks a little weird to me.

I prefer to make outfits, not individual pieces but I just finished black pants that can be worn with these blouses. Once these blouses are finished and my wardrobe crisis is minimized, I can go back to working on the meaningful outfits that offer opportunities for growth and learning.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Adventures in Quilting

Quilting is turning out to be quite an adventure. It presents a whole new set of challenges for me. Most of the challenges stem from the fact that a quilt is much bigger than the projects I usually sew (including my first quilt) and all of a sudden I didn't have enough room to sew.

First I had to find space to pin-baste. Based on my limited experience, I believed I had to completely spread out the quilt for the basting, and this probably is the best way. I took the layers down to the living room and spread everything out on the floor. Crawling on the floor is for younger quilters. My poor old knees really hurt while I was crawling around on the floor trying to get the backing taut and the batting wrinkle-free. In addition, I didn't have the T-pins recommended in Alex Anderson's book to hold the backing taut by pinning it to the carpet. So, I brought a heavy, cumbersome folding table up from the basement and taped the backing to the table. The table was barely wide enough but I was able to pin-baste the layers together in sections. Somehow, it didn't occur to me to take the quilt layers back upstairs to the cutting table. I guess all that crawling on the floor and the pain in my knees reduced the blood flow to my brain.

The final challenge was finding the space to actually quilt. In my small, sewing room, the sewing machine cabinet is in the corner. There isn't enough space behind or beside the machine for the bulk. Since I'd already dragged the heavy, cumbersome folding table up one flight of stairs to the living room, I decided to drag it up yet another flight of stairs to my daughter's bedroom. It's still pretty cramped, but at least I have room to spread out the quilt. I predict more problems as I reach the center of the quilt and have to keep the bulk rolled up enough to fit through the machine. (That huge, expensive Bernina 830 is looking pretty good about now.) Every time I want to quilt in the future, (if, in fact I will want to quilt in the future) I have to set up a temporary workspace in my daughter's room. It's a good thing she's away at college!

I often wondered if quilters were a different breed than sewers. I bet one of the differences is that quilters have more room!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Finished: BWOF 09-08-137 & 138

09-98-137 Top

Pattern Description: Pullover blouse with pleated neckline and gathered wrist.

Pattern Sizing: European plus sizes 44 - 52

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? The blouse did look like the photo, so I shouldn't have been surprised by the low neckline. As with most BWOFs, the neckline shows a lot of skin. That is very evident in the photo, but I was still a little surprised.

Were the instructions easy to follow? The instructions were very easy to follow; much easier than most BWOF instructions.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I chose this pattern because I thought it would be a good match for the fabric. I'm not really happy with the neckline. I'm wearing a cami in the photograph, but I'll probably look for something else to wear under it. Even with the cami, it shows too much skin for me to feel comfortable wearing it to work. It's not that I'm a prude. I work in two elementary schools and I think the blouse shows too much skin for school.

Fabric Used: I used fabric my daughter brought from Morrocco. I don't have any idea about the fiber content.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Burda recommended "fluid blouse fabrics ", although knits were used in the samples shown in the magazine. Since knits were used in the samples and I was using a woven, I was concerned about the fit in the bust area. Just to be safe, I added 1 1/2 inches to the bust circumference. This blouse has two sleeve length options: a full length sleeve gathered into a drawstring and a 3/4 length sleeve gathered into elastic. I thought the drawstring would be a nuisance so I used elastic in the full length sleeve.

09-08-138 Pants

Pattern Description: Fly front pants with shaped waistband.

Pattern Sizing: European plus size 44 - 52

Were the instructions easy to follow? I always read BWOF instructions carefully, even when I don't think I'll need them. I didn't really need them with these pants because the construction was very straightforward, even considering the waistband treatment.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I really liked the waistband of these pants. Of course, when I wear them, no one will ever see the waistband I like so much. I didn't audition the buttons I selected. They were too big for two buttons to fit on the top waistband section. No one will see that little problem, so who cares?

Fabric Used: Stretch twill purchased from my favorite online source, Vogue Fabrics By Mail.

Conclusion: I like the way these pants fit. I usually don't make patterns more than once, but I just might break my own rule with the pants pattern. Since the blouse fabric has sentimental value I really wanted this outfit to turn out well and I'm pleased with the results. I just need to find the right garment to layer under the blouse.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sewing on TV

I wish there were more sewing shows on TV. In my area, I have the choice of watching Sewing with Nancy, Love of Quilting and America Sews. These three shows are broadcast on PBS beginning at 6:00 AM on Saturday. Who wants to get up at 6:00 AM on a Saturday - even to watch a sewing TV show? Thankfully, I have DVR! I watch theses shows (well, not America Sews) because they are the only games in town. I really miss Sew Much More with Susan Khalje and Sew Perfect with Sandra Betzina. These shows featured primarily garment sewing and were geared toward an experienced sewer. Sewing with Nancy has been on TV for 25 years! I guess she's covered just about everything there is to cover in the realm of sewing.

Why is it we have 100's of cable TV channels, many of them programming for specific niche audiences, yet so few sewing shows? (Project Runway doesn't really count.) Seems to me, DIY or HGTV or even the Style Network are perfect venues for sewing shows. We can watch people play poker or fish on TV, yet we can't learn to improve our welt pockets! Where is the justice in that? Maybe I'm living in the past. Maybe there really isn't a market for sewing on TV anymore. When a programmer schedules a show at 6:00 o'clock on a Saturday morning, he doesn't expect a lot of viewers. Web TV and other digital formats may be the future, but I miss curling up on the couch with a cup of tea and learning something about sewing. Sandra Betzina and Alex Anderson have moved their shows to the internet. David Page Coffin has written a book on making pants with an accompanying DVD-ROM. But, it's hard to curl up and get comfortable in front of a monitor at a desk. If I insist on watching sewing shows on a TV screen, DVDs are an option, so I've begun to buy DVD's to satisfy my Sewing on TV addiction.

Which brings me to my next complaint – where are the sewing celebrities of the future? I think Kenneth King would have a great sewing show! I've seen him as a guest on Sew Much More and I read about the class LindsayT took with him. His designs are a little too "over the top" for my taste, but the techniques demonstrated (and featured in his book, Cool Couture) were fantastic. Does anyone have information on sewing TV shows they'd like to share?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Oh, Yeah!

I vowed to keep politics out of my blog, but I have to acknowledge this!!!! Put one in the win column for the United States!

President Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize.

The Nobel Committee said it best – “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Back to Sewing

My company has come and gone and I've reclaimed my sewing room. My sister's sister-in-law wasn't able to come, so I did all that purging, simplifying and de-cluttering for nothing!!!!! (Just kidding) (No, I'm not) And, my sister would not accept the craft supplies I offered so they go in the trash. My daughter and my sister both have birthdays in October and we had a small celebration. It was a really good to have my daughter and sister here at the same time. Sis left this morning and DD will be here until Tuesday.

Ann has started a fun meme on her blog. She asks "Who would you cast to play you in a movie?"
That's an easy one for me!

Queen Latifah epitomizes the self-confidence I wish I had. She puts her "plus-size-ness" out there and if you don't like it – that's your problem. I wish I had that. In addition, she's very talented.

Today, since my house is clean, I'm going to lounge around and read. Back to the routine tomorrow!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Purge! Simplify! De-clutter!

My daughter, my sister and my sister's sister-in-law are planning to visit on the same weekend. I haven't been sewing because I had to get the house ready for company. It would have been easy if it were only my daughter or only my sister, or even my daughter and my sister. But my sister's sister-in-law counts as "real company" and I want to make a good impression.

Whenever company comes, I have to dismantle my sewing room and use the extra bed. I wanted to store the cutting mat under the bed. There were boxes of seldom used craft and soapmaking stuff already there so even sliding the cutting mat under the bed proved to be a small challenge. The idea of a purge made me tremble and sweat, but when you can't even slide a cutting mat under a bed, it's time!

I began by reminding myself that I'm a sewer. Yes, I enjoyed the little crafty projects, but in my heart, I'm a sewer. The big foam stamps, little bottles of paint, and jars of dried-up Mod Podge just waste valuable space. I can't even remember when I last used the stuff under the bed. I haven't actually thrown the stuff away yet. I'm going to store it in the basement (I purged the basement a few months ago so there is room). Then, I'm going to offer it to my sister while she is here. She and my nieces might be able to take if off my hands have fun with it.

The next time I need to put someone up in the sewing room, it should be a simpler matter because I'm determined to de-clutter. I always feel better sewing when my space is organized and neat. I probably even sew better in a neat environment. It's too bad organization and neatness are the exception and not the rule.