Saturday, February 25, 2012

Changes in the Sewing Room

Chapter One:  Unplugged

I didn't know any better.  I thought I didn't need WiFi at home.  Being chained to my desktop computer didn't bother me.  I believed my only choice was to go through my cable provider if I wanted a wireless connection, and going through my cable provider would mean a higher monthly bill, right?  Who needed that?

I learned from my best friend, Denise and her son, Alex, I could buy a wireless router and set up WiFi in my home without the assistance of my cable provider.  Who knew?  So, that's what I did.   And here is how all this applies to my sewing.  While gathering the sleeves on a recent project, I remembered a technique for gathering I saw on "Sewing on Nancy".  I got my laptop (actually, my employer's laptop), went to Sewing with Nancy online and watched the segment right at my sewing machine!  Don'cha just love technology?    Unfortunately, I'll have to turn in my laptop at the end of the school year.  (Apparently, when you retire, the school district expects you to give back all of their stuff.)  I can't go back to being chained to my desktop.  But, as they say, "It's all good!"  With WiFi, I can now use my iPod Touch as something more than an expensive address book. I've been wanting an iPad for a long time and now I have even more reason to buy it!  It will be so easy and so much fun to watch sewing videos on my iPad right in my sewing room.

Chapter Two:  Making Concessions for Old Age

Old Woman Seated Sewing
Johannes van der Aack
Up until today, I've refused to accept I'm getting older.  True, in the morning it takes several more minutes before I can stand upright, but I blamed my mattress.  And my short term memory is ………uh……  I forgot the word I was going to use here.  But now, it's affecting my sewing and I can't ignore it any longer.

I used to store my patterns in a big wooden box on the bottom shelf of the bookcase. Having the visually heavy box on the bottom of the bookcase just looked better. But removing the box to access patterns was becoming more and more difficult.  I delayed putting patterns away to avoid lifting the box and carrying it to the cutting table, which was only about two steps away.  The only other option was to pull out the box and sit on the floor to access the patterns.  That presented a different problem – getting up!

I stopped fooling myself and moved the pattern drawer to a higher shelf.  I don't have to bend all the way down to the floor, lift the heavy drawer and carry it to the table.  Now, the process involves a smaller, less painful dip of the knees.  The maneuver is easier on my back, but harder on my ego.  I think I'd better start now thinking of ways to change things to accommodate the old woman who is catching up to me.

Chapter Three:  IKEA in the Sewing Room

IKEA is a wonderful place.  If they sold fabric, they'd be perfect.  (Oh wait … they DO sell fabric!)  I needed to replace the lamp that was mounted on my bookcase and used to light either the cutting table or the ironing board.  I went to IKEA and found the Kvart lamp.  (I just love those unpronounceable Swedish names!) The price was so reasonable, I bought two!   And, I like the look of two lamps snaking from the bookshelf in different directions.  It looks so …… IKEA!  After about two weeks of using the lamps, I decided to see if IKEA had a Kvart floor lamp for the sewing machine area .  They did!  Now each sewing task area has its own lamp!  And what sewing room can call itself a sewing room without a jar of buttons.  The Burken jar is perfect for buttons.  I bought two of those, too!  I wish everyone had an IKEA nearby.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Finished: BPF FW–11–428

First things first … I owe 100% Polyester an apology.

Poly, I'm sorry I blamed you for the horrible way the collar and yoke looked when I used you to make version 1 of this blouse.  I said some hurtful things when I threw you in the trash.  Some of the fault may have been mine.  I made a mistake adding seam allowances.  Here is what the directions said about seam allowances:  "1.5 cm (5/8") at seams and edges, 1 cm (3/8") on horizontal edges of cut in front piece, on front bands, and on collar attachment seam, 2 cm (3/4") on hem etc, etc, etc."  My mistake was adding two different seam allowances: 3/8" on the collar piece and 5/8" on the blouse front and back yoke neckline edges.  So Poly, I was wrong.  I still prefer natural fibers and I still will avoid sewing you, but it wasn't all your fault.  

I realized my error when the collar of version 2 fit a poorly as version 1.  I checked my pattern pieces and there was a 5/8" seam allowance staring at me.  I trimmed away the excess seam allowance on the blouse, stay stitched and clipped the curves and the collar went on perfectly.  Of course, my itty-bitty mistake on the collar doesn't absolve Polyester of the yoke, but we won't go there.  Poly and I can both blame Burda Style Magazine for the poorly written instructions. Adding a little "s" to "collar attachment seam" might have made all the difference.

And now, on to the blouse ……

BPF FW-11-428
See sidebar or click here for Pattern Review
It all started with that damn polyester. I fell in love the with color and I had to have it. I selected the blouse pattern because it was not what I would normally choose. I started out in love with the polyester fabric color and ended up in love with the blouse design when the poly didn't work out. After the poly was thrown out, I still had to have the blouse. So, I immediately went out to find an alternative fabric. (Thank heaven for JoMar.)

The front gathers and front band were a bit of a challenge.  I had to adjust the gathers to the length of the band, meet the gathered edges to the bottom of the slit, diagonally bast the gathers to the slit opening, then cover the gathers, inside and out, with the front bands.  Of course, the inside and outside bands are not exactly congruent and the inside is a little funky.  If I'd done more basting, it might have looked better.  And if that procedure wasn't enough of a pain, the instructions were written in typical Burda pidgin English and required several readings and visualizations before they made sense to me.

I'm ambivalent about the cuffs.  They were part of the reason I chose to sew this blouse, but I'm not sure I love them now.  If I ever make this blouse again, I'll make a more conventional cuff.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

As God Is My Witness………

…… I'll never sew polyester again!

Burda Plus Fashion
Fall/Winter 2011 #428
All I wanted was a blouse.  This blouse really wasn't that difficult.  I read the instructions a few times and understood the construction of that deceptively innocent looking gathering on the front.   My mistake was choosing 100% polyester fabric. When sewing a nice natural fiber like linen or cotton, one only needs a little steam to make the fabric behave.  Natural fibers stretch and ease.  But polyester?  Polyester doesn't stretch or ease.   It's almost impossible to ease a polyester seam.   Steam wasn't enough to shrink the longer seam.  Steam only made it wet.  It took brute force and a wood clapper to even press the seam allowances to one side.  And even then, the results are less than desirable.  I used every method of easing I know and it wasn't enough.  I got the sloppy looking collar and yoke seen below.

Easing would have helped the collar and yoke.
If the polyester were more cooperative,  I could have eased the seams together and those hideous little hiccups would have disappeared.  If I couldn't get a seam like the yoke to look smooth, imagine what the sleeve would have looked like – especially with the added layers of the bands on the shoulder.  I did what any self-respecting person would do.  I gave up.  I wasn't happy with the way the yoke and collar looked and I knew I would never wear the blouse.

As I struggled with an iron, a clapper and brute strength, I felt like Scarlett O'Hara must have felt when she found herself face down in the dirt scarfing down that raw potato.    A little piece of polyester was not going to keep me from having that blouse.  Just like Scarlett, I got up, wiped the dirt off my face, spit out that damn potato and took myself to the store to look for another fabric to use for the blouse.