Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bits and Pieces

My vacation was short but sweet.  The Smoky Mountains are amazing!  I wish I could have stayed a few days longer just to relax.  (Why is it I never get much relaxation on vacations?) We were in Gatlinburg, TN to support my niece in a National Dance competition.  Her team earned a Platinum rating and took first place in their age category.

DN was happier about the win than this photograph indicates, but I was trying to
get a candid picture.  That's not so easy to do since DN is really quite a ham.  She strikes a rather affected pose every time someone points a camera in her direction.  I prefer children in their natural, chaotic state.

My newest favorite animal is the sea dragon.  They are so cute!  Thousands of years of evolution and this is what they came up with!  This little guy lives at Ripley's Aquarium in Gatlinburg.

My newest favorite notion is the iron caddy.  Often, fabric needs to be ironed after preshrinking.  This iron caddy give more usable ironing board space for the entire width of the fabric because the iron is not stored on the board.  It yields an extra 6 inches.

I'm working on the shorts over which I agonized ad nauseum and my newest favorite shorts pattern is Burda 8087.     I'll make them a little shorter than shown.  We've had three heat official heat waves already and I'm more comfortable in shorts when the temperature goes above 90º.  

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N in the Summertime!!!

I am GONE!
I am so outta here!
Elaray has left the building!
I'll be reading trashy novels and relaxing in the Smoky Mountains.  I don't want to think about anything more complicated than remembering to put on sun screen when I go down to the pool.  There might be some fabric shopping if I can find an independent fabric store, but even fabric shopping isn't a priority.  As much as I love to sew, I need a break from all of my normal activities.   Needless to say, there will be very little blogging or message boards this week.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Thoughts on Shorts

My mental age must be catching up with my chronological age.  I still feel like I'm still 35 even though I'm considerably older.  But, that's changing, as evidenced by my feelings about wearing shorts.

I wanted to sew some shorts and there weren't a lot of options.  Add the fact that I'm plus sized and the choices dwindled even more.  I began to doubt myself.  Should someone my age and size even be wearing shorts?  I think I remember someone on Oprah saying capris are more fashionable than shorts anyway and if you hear it on Oprah, it must be true.  All of my shorts hover around my knees, a length I consider flattering for me.  But should a woman in her 50's really be wearing shorts?  Does Oprah wear shorts?  I didn't have these concerns when I was thirty-five.  As I unpacked my spring/summer clothes, I noticed I do have several pairs of shorts.  I obviously didn't have these doubts last summer because I found a pair with the tags still on them and I remember buying them on clearance last August.   But I'm a year older now and I'm not so sure anymore.  Now, when I see a woman wearing shorts,  she immediately goes under my mental microscope.  How old is she?  How do her legs look?  How short are the shorts?  Would I wear shorts like that?  I could get feminist about the issue and think about the older men I see wearing shorts, but that's a story for another day.

In southeastern PA, we're working on our second or third round of temperatures over 90º.  So, I'm going to wear the shorts I have and I'm going to sew some more shorts.   I'm old enough to trust myself and know what looks good on me.  But if I look ridiculous in a pair of shorts, I hope a friend or loved one will tactfully let me know I should go home and change my clothes.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

BS 02-10-138 Project Diary

June 8
Finally, I've reached BS 02-10-138 in my queue.  I liked this dress when I first saw it in preview in January.  I found the perfect fabric at JoMar in March.  And now, it's finally time to sew it! It has dozens of  fourteen pieces – shoulder tabs, bias bindings, flaps – and tracing it will be a pain.  But if I like Burda Style's design details, then I have no choice but to trace them.

June 10
I've been working on this dress early in the morning before for work.  I used this pattern before to make a blouse and I had a problem with the front band and opening.  The front was placed on the fold and there wasn't enough room between the placket seamline and the fold for a 5/8" seam allowance.  I didn't read the directions carefully enough the first time.  This time I realized the seam allowances are 3/8", not the usual 5/8".  Very sneaky, Burda Style!  Of course I realized this after I traced a 5/8" seam allowance onto all of the pieces.  I solved the problem by changing the seam allowances to 3/8" only on the front band pieces and the placket openings including the front yoke!  I kept the rest of the seam allowances at 5/8".  Everything is cut out and marked.  After cutting and applying the interfacing, I'll be ready to sew!

June 11
I'm pleading temporary insanity.  For a moment, I actually believed I could use BS instructions to do the welt pockets.  I really did!  Fortunately, I came to my senses before I ruined the dress.  The BS instructions were useless.  Instead, I used  the instructions from Jackets for Real People (Palmer & Alto,  2006) and  made three practice pockets before touching the dress.  These are not the best welt pockets I've ever made. Even with interfacing, the fabric was a little limp to support such a detail.  Next time, I'll use a lighter interfacing on the welt itself.

June 13
I was so focused on the welt pockets, I was blind-sided by the front band.  I didn't like the way the bottom of the band looked and I did some un-sewing.  The fabric is a rather loose weave and I was a little too heavy-handed with the ripper.   I mangled the fabric pretty badly.   I opted for the "Watergate" approach and tried to fix it by covering it up.  This solution worked better for me than it did for Nixon.  The repair is looks like another design detail.

June 15
Once I averted the near disaster at the bottom of the front band, (it's barely visible and looks like it belongs there) construction went along without a hitch. I bought the fabric at JoMar and I'm not totally sure what it is.  Sometimes it feels like cotton, sometimes it feels like wool.  Today, I'm thinking it's a lightweight wool.  It holds a crease like a natural fiber.   As I ironed  it, I was convinced it was cotton.  I'm very happy with the finished dress.   It's loose fitting without being voluminous.  It looks okay without the belt.  And most importantly, it gives me an excuse to buy a new long necklace.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Vote Early and Often (A solicitation)

The public school where I work, Thomas G. Morton School in Philadelphia is trying to win 200 new computers for our classrooms.  Our school counselor wrote a proposal for a $250K grant being awarded by Pepsi.  You can help us win the computers by going to, registering and voting for Morton's proposal.  You can vote once everyday until June 30.  If you have more than one e-mail address, you can vote once everyday for each e-mail address.  You can vote for other proposals, but please vote for only one $250K proposal - the one for Morton School.  Our motto is "Morton is on the Move!"  Please help our students truly be on the move by helping put ten new computers in each classroom.

Edited to add:  This post is a solicitation.   If you are able to help, I sincerely appreciate it.  If not, that's fine too.  Comments about what I may or may not include in my blog are neither necessary nor appreciated.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Finished: BWOF 03-06-131 Pants & Burda 8248 Blouse

Other sewers in the online sewing community have been turning out dozens of new outfits while I have been plodding along trying to finish just one. I felt like I was walking in quicksand. My mojo was in place. I sewed nearly everyday. I just wasn't finishing anything. Finally I finished this blouse and pants.

Blouse: Burda 8248 (OOP)

Pattern: This is a favorite blouse pattern. The button front blouse has collar, center back seam and waist darts – a typical camp shirt. The pattern includes a dress length.

Instructions: We all know Burda envelope pattern instructions are easier to follow than magazine patterns and we all know why. PICTURES!

Likes/Dislikes: I like this pattern because it's a classic camp shirt with no surprises. Camp shirts are very well suited to my casual wardrobe. It is darted and has a center back seam which gives it a slimming, fitted silhouette.

Fabric: I bought this cotton seersucker because I loved the colors. The fabric just spoke to me and it said "Ahhhh, Summer!"

Alterations/Design: I made this blouse straight out of the envelope.

Conclusion: This has become a TNT pattern. I've made both the blouse and the dress before.

Pants: BWOF 03-06-131

Pattern: This is also a TNT pattern. I didn't realize I've made it twice before.

Pattern Sizing:

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

Were the instructions easy to follow?
The hip pockets on these pants were a little tricky and illustrated instructions would have helped. But, I'm a grown-a$$ woman, and I'm through complaining about the lack of illustrations in Burda Style magazine instructions.

The teeny-weeny little dart has to be slashed a mere 5/8" and piping strips are inserted into the dart. Sounds simple enough. But where to slash the dart for the insertion? I ended up cutting diagonally from the corner an then down 5/8". The piping strip was sewn onto the upper edge, the dart was sewn, encasing the piping strip. Then, the hip yoke piece is attached. The vertical seam is sewn exactly on the dart stitching line. (Wouldn't this have been easier to understand if illustrations of the process were included?) I like the detail - I just wish there was an easier way to achieve it.

Louise Cutting demonstrates a technique on Threads Insider Techniques DVD. She recommends pressing seams open when they have to be folded back on themselves, as in a waistband seam. This keeps the waistband from rolling to one side. I used that technique on this waistband. The seam is pressed open over a point presser before it is turned right side out. This technique can also be used on sewn on facings.

Likes/Dislikes: The pants are jeans and not jeans. The back pocket and the topstitching on the inseam and side seam are "jeans" but the front pocket is "not jeans".

Fabric: The fabric is a cotton twill with a little lycra.

Alterations/Design changes: I raised the waist band 1" to eliminate the low rise look.

Conclusion: I like the colorful blouse and I have a feeling this will become a favorite outfit.