Thursday, December 27, 2007

BWOF 11/06 #132 Progress Report

While I'm on Winter Recess (what we used to call Christmas Vacation), I'm working on my BWOF 11/06 #132 jacket. The timing is serendipitous. If I didn't have long blocks of time to work on this jacket, it might take months to finish. I'm confident I'll finish it before I go back to work. A detailed progress report follows:
  • I block fused AngelWeft to the bouclé. I can't imagine working with this fabric without first block fusing. Carolyn was the first to suggest block fusing; Kathryn and Liana at Stitcher's Guild suggested AngelWeft. If I could, I would fall down and anoint their presser feet! Even after the block fusing, this fabric tended to ravel a little. I also serged the raw edges after (and sometimes before) seaming.
  • I made piping to dress-up the lining. This gave me a reason to buy a new presser foot for my machine. I went to King of Prussia (a notoriously crowded shopping area in suburban Philadelphia) on Christmas Eve to get a cording foot. (And this was after buying the wrong foot the day before!)
  • I made the lining and I remembered to install my "little labels" and use seldom-used decorative stitches on the lining. (fig. 1)
  • Rather than a hem and a vent, the sleeves have a facing and a slit. Much easier, in my opinion - especially with the ravelly fabric. (fig. 2)
Fig. 1

Fig. 2

The next major task will be bagging the lining. I anticipate some challenges. Even after lengthening the jacket during the pattern work stage, it was not long enough to suit me. ( I really should have made a muslin.) So the hem allowance is quite small. I'll have to do some fudging adjusting when its time to sew the lining to the hem allowance.

Luckily, while I was working on the jacket, Bravo was showing a "Project Runway" Marathon on the day after Christmas! I've never been a big fan of reality shows (because they usually have nothing to do with reality) so I've only seen bits and pieces of Project Runway. But, OMG! That show is riveting! The back-stabbing! The lying! The gossip! And, oh yeah, I almost forgot – the clothes! I must admit, It made my sewing more fun!

Friday, December 21, 2007

BWOF & Ottobre

I received my first Ottobre Woman magazine. It arrived from SewZanne’s in less than one week. Nothing will ever replace BWOF for me – I’m a die-hard fan. But, I am looking for more pattern company options so I did a little "compare & contrast."
  • I decided to try Ottobre because I’d read most of their designs go up to size 52. Burda only has five or six plus size offerings per issue. The Fall/Winter Ottobre has 16 (out of 20) designs up to size 52.
  • Ottobre Woman is published only twice a year. A subscription to BWOF brings new patterns to my door every month!
  • I've compared the measurement charts to BWOF and Ottobre runs a little smaller than BWOF. The difference is 1/2 inch to 3/8 inch. But I'll be making a muslin when I make my first Ottobre garment to assess the how much difference the 1/2 to 3/8 inch makes.
  • Ottobre's pattern sheet is smaller and more manageable than BWOF’s and the paper is sturdier. Even though I’m familiar with BWOF’s pattern sheet, the Ottobre pattern sheet looks more intimidating. BWOF uses different lines, i.e. dashed or dotted, to differentiate sizes. No so with Ottobre. Sizes are marked at two or three places along the cutting line, though, so you can find you way back if you get lost.
  • Ottobre's directions are slightly more detailed than BWOF's directions. It seems as though they were translated by someone who understands English. However, measurements within the directions are given only in the metric system.
  • The models in Ottobre look like real women. Some are over 30 years old, under 6 feet tall and weigh more than 100 pounds. And, they are posed so you can actually see the clothes. BWOF seems to have forgotten how to do that.
  • The biggest difference is Ottobre’s designs. They are more classic and not as trendy and fashion-forward as BWOF. That won’t be a problem for me since I'm a classic woman. Furthermore, the simplicity of the designs will allow me to make design changes.
I'm looking forward to working on my first Ottobre pattern. Despite these minor differences between BWOF & Ottobre, but I don't expect to have any problem with the construction. If there are no major fit issues, Ottobre may become my second favorite pattern company. BWOF & Ottobre should compliment each other nicely in terms of building my wardrobe.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Quick Tip: Eco-friendly iron cleaner

My 18 year old daughter is very eco-conscious. This tip comes from her. After block fusing 4 yards of bouclé, my iron was a gunky mess. I had no iron cleaner and I was preparing to drive 20 minutes to get some. My daughter suggested using canola oil to clean the iron once it cooled. I didn't really want to drive to JoAnn's, so I tried it. It worked! I poured a little canola oil on a paper towel and wiped the soleplate of the iron with it. With just a little pressure and circular wiping, the iron was clean! I didn't have to inhale that noxious iron cleaner. I'm not sure if there is something magical about canola oil or if any oil would have done the job.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Snow Ball Gown: Epilogue

I finally got my daughter into the gown I finished two months ago. She really had no choice. The Snow Ball was tonight! Actually, she tried it on last week so I could hem it, but Milady would not allow her picture to be taken at that time. Much too busy, you know. I would have loved to show the entire picture, but my daughter doesn't want her face online. I wouldn't let her put her photo on Facebook, so I didn't push the issue. That would make me a hypocrite. (How many parents have been accused of hypocrisy?) I didn't have permission to put her date online, so I had to crop him out, too. Trust me – he looked handsome and she looked beautiful!

Fortunately, Daughter's tastes are very basic (much like her mom) and the dress was very easy to make. I underlined it with organza and lined it with the coordinated lining JoAnn sells. I would have preferred to use a fabric with some natural fibers in it, but I we only went to JoAnn's to shop. When did teenage girls get too busy to shop? I love sewing for her, but she doesn't realize the time commitment I need from her for shopping and fitting. Maybe I better get started on the Senior Prom dress now!

Friday, December 14, 2007

The 1st Step to Recovery

Hi. My name is Elaray and I'm a fabri-holic. I've been denying my stash for years, but I'm finally ready to own the fact that I'm a stasher! In 12-step parlance, I "hit my bottom" today. I came up the lamest reason for buying fabric anyone has ever heard. This afternoon, I went to Fabric Row to buy buttons. The plan was to buy the buttons and come home. Truth be told, I was setting myself up to fail. PA Fabric Outlet has a phenomenal selection of buttons and is right next door to my favorite Fabric Row store - Kincus Fabrics. How could I not go in when I was right next door? I found a fabric I loved almost immediately. And, the lame excuse I gave myself – Snow is predicted and I can sew if we're snowed in. That is so weak; so like a person who is out of control! What about the other seven pieces of fabric I already have? I mean, how much snow is predicted, anyway!!! So, my days of denying that I'm a stasher are over. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Except, I don't really want to recover. It's actually liberating to finally admit it to myself. Besides, there is nothing wrong with keeping a moderate amount of fabric on hand.

Now, back to the buttons …
I'm looking for buttons for my jacket. So far I have three choices. In spite of the many colors in the fabric, I decided gray would be the safest choice. (What does that say about me? - Boring!) It was really hard to find the right gray - even in a store with a 25 foot wall of button boxes! The top button is actually the back of the middle button, and that is the one I liked best. But, now that I've objectively studied the photograph, I think I might forget the gray and go back to find a real color. (Any suggestions and opinions would be greatly appreciated!) And if I go back, I'll be right next door to Kincus Fabrics again! There is no hope for me anymore.

Edited to add:

This is the fabric that forced me to confront my addiction. I really love this print and I can't wait to use it!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Next: BWOF 11/06 #132 & #137

My next project is from the November 2006 issue of BWOF (#132 Jacket #137 Skirt). My interpretation will be much less formal than the velvet pictured in the photo.
I'm using the bouclé I bought from Metro Textiles last Summer and the skirt will be black. I'm using an OOP Burda envelope pattern to make a short sleeved shell to wear under the jacket. I realized that I have nothing suitable for church so my goal is to make more dresses and skirts. The bouclé ravels like crazy so I decided to underline it with some plain old broadcloth. Since I'd have to sew around the edges of the cut pieces to control the ravelling, I might as well sew on an underlining. Kashi selected a light periwinkle/lavender for the lining. That man is amazing! I bought four gray buttons for the jacket, but I'm really not happy with them. I'll probably make the jacket last to give myself time to go to Fabric Row (in Philadelphia) to find buttons more to my liking.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Burda 7882 & BWOF 10/06 #133B

I've returned from a short hiatus. It seems like ages since I actually finished a garment. I finished these pants (BWOF 10/06 #133B) a couple of weeks ago, but I was delayed in starting the blouse. Using my Elna, I discovered I really didn't like sewing without a reverse gear. Tying off threads and using a smaller stitch length worked very well to secure beginnings and endings of seams. But, these methods just were not as convenient as tapping the reverse button and I lost some enthusiasm when I had to sew on the Elna sans reverse. I was also paralyzed with anticipation about getting the new Bernina. I put off sewing until I could sew on the new machine. Childish, I know. But, once I got the new machine in my hot little hands, I immediately finished Burda 7882 - my redesigned blouse. I used a silk from Vogue Fabrics. I heard somewhere that a yard of really fine silk could pass through a wedding ring. I'm sure this is a myth, but it sounds impressive. I never tried to pass this silk through my jewelry, but it certainly felt like it could have gone through! I really enjoyed handling it! Unlike some synthetic silkies I've sewn, (how about that alliteration!) it wasn't too slippery and it pressed nicely. The pants are lined. I can remember lining pants only one other time in my life. Lining really does improve the way a garment feels and I'll probably do it more often. They actually feel like they fit better especially in the back. Although, they actually don't fit any better than any other pants I've made. I'm sure the wool I used would have irritated my skin - especially in the winter. The lining also makes them more comfortable to wear.

So, this outfit is remarkable for several reasons:
  • This is the first project from fabric purchased on my NY shopping trip
  • I lined the pants
  • I used my new machine
  • I redesigned the blouse pattern
Quite a re-entry after a short hiatus!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Tip for the Continuous Lap

I came across this tip while killing time at work. I've never heard of this method for finishing a continuous lap placket. I usually sew the diagonal seam across the placket, but I like this method better.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Out with the Old; In with the New

The planets aligned; the sewing gods smiled and I finally got my new sewing machine. My plan was to buy this machine at the end of last summer. That plan was put aside when I had a huge automobile-related expense. At that time, I wanted a new machine, but I really didn't need a new machine. I must admit, I felt a little guilty about spending so much money on something I didn't really need. But soon after, my Elna's reverse button began to work only intermittently and then not at all. Yes, I could have had it repaired but the repair would have cost more than the machine was worth. And did I mention that I really wanted a new machine?

Goodbye old friend
My old friend
There's something I must let you know
I haven't said it much
I guess I've lost my touch
But, my old girl, we sure did sew!

"Goodbye, Old Girl" from Damn Yankees
Apologies to Richard Adler & Jerry Ross

The Diva and I shared lots of memories. We made all of my daughter's Easter dresses; we sewed prize winning Halloween costumes; we made a very expensive dress to wear to my sister's wedding (I ended up wearing another dress to the wedding), and we made my daughter's first prom dress. The Diva served me well.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Let's Be Careful Out There

I received the following email recently. Parts have been edited.

Dear Candidate,

Do you need a job? Would you like to work online from home? Can you spare one hour daily? If you enjoy working from home then I think this would be
a perfect job for you. Our job is a flextime, flex-place opportunity
designed to fit around your family's income and time needs.

Name deleted fabrics ltd is a UK based company looking for energetic and committed individuals to fill the part-time receivables clerk position in the United States . As a receivables clerk, you will be in charge of processing and facilitating payment funds transfers initiated by our US clients under the supervision of the regional manager. A perfect candidate should be a good communicator who is also comfortable with numbers. College education or basic administrative experience is a plus to this job.

We presently run a Fabric Company in United Kingdom and have been in the business for sometime now; we have reached a big sales volume of fabric/textile materials in Europe and also some part of Asia . We are now trying to penetrate into the US market but have been experiencing some problems when it comes to receiving payment due to the location of my clients. My clients sometimes make payments for our supplies in form of checks amounting from $2,000 to $100,000 and sometimes more depending on the quantity of stock purchased. These checks are not readily cash able outside the United States . I need someone in the states to work as our representative and assist us in processing these payments and I will be willing to pay 10% for every transaction made.

Contact information deleted

Expecting your mail soonest.

Yours truly,
name deleted
name deleted Fabrics ltd United Kingdom

Call me suspicious, but this screams "phishing scam and fraud" to me. The email address given is from server at which I have an email account; not a commercial email domain like I'm going to contact the owner of the server to inform them of this situation. This is not the first time I've been phished. This is the first time I've been phished with such specific bait. It was very easy to get my email from my sewing related blog and to use that information to try and "reel me in". All scams are not this obvious.
Please, please, please - be very careful when using the Internet.
Scammers are out there and they have many ways to find victims.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Even When I Don't Like BWOF, I like BWOF

I was looking at the December Plus selections on My initial reaction was "Ugh! I don't like any of these. They’re just not me".

But then, I realized that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. BWOF’s December offerings may be a little trendy for my taste, but at least they are trendy. Plus size patterns from Vogue, Butterick, McCall's & Simplicity are usually bland and uninspired; and I like bland and uninspired most of the time. But, if I ever wanted a jacket with a huge collar and wide-legged pants (130A & 133), I’m certain I couldn’t find them in any of the Big 4 catalogs. And although I initially found the designs unappealing, I may want that exact jacket next winter. I may not always appreciate BWOF's trendy designs, but I'm glad they offer the choice.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sick Sewing Machine!

My sewing machine is very sick! It doesn't go in reverse. And my budget doesn't allow for the replacement I really wanted – The Bernina Aurora 430. Since this is a sewing emergency, I'm considering the Activa 240 and hoping the dealer offers an upgrade trade-in (I'm sure they do) so I can get the Aurora in a few months when I can better afford it. I went through this sewing machine agony a few months ago, but I had big car-related expenses and couldn't get the machine at the time. Maybe I could sew without a reverse gear for a while. I'm confused because I really am not ready to deal with this right now. It's almost Christmas, for goodness sake! I need a few days to cogitate (I love that word) and determine what to do. Right now, I'm too flustered to make a good decision.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Next: BWOF 10/06 133B Pants & Burda 7882 blouse

This project will be notable for several reasons.
  • After nearly four months, I'm finally getting to use some of the fabric I bought in NYC last July. I'm using the rust wool for the pants and I ordered a tie-dyed silk from Vogue Fabrics Store for the blouse (see previous post – Nov. 5, 2007)
  • This will be my first time working with a border print and I'm looking forward to playing with the layout. One of the "Creative Ideas" pictured on the pattern envelope uses a border print, so I'm assured my fabric choice is appropriate. (Unfortunately, I'm still susceptible to making poor fabric choices.)
  • I'm using my redesigned blouse pattern. (see previous post – Nov. 3, 2007)
  • The pants are lined. I've made fly front pants like these hundreds of times but it's been years since I lined pants.
I want to make more of my projects notable. I want to try new fabrics and more redesigns. If my only expected outcome was new clothes, I could just go to Lane Bryant. If I'm truly going to improve my skills I have to challenge myself more often.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Morning After

We’ve all seen this happen in dozens of movies (and real life). The beautiful heroine of the movie is out drinking with her beautiful best friends. She meets an equally beautiful man in the bar and the initial attraction is strong. They drink, talk, connect and end up going home together. Then, the morning after, in the light of day, she doesn’t know why she brought this man home, may not even like him anymore and has no idea what to do with him. That is the way I feel about the print fabric shown.

I bought it on my first shopping trip to New York City's garment district when I was having a great time with my sister and got caught up in the excitement. The plan was to make a blouse and pants for the fall and I bought a wool blend to coordinate with it. But here’s the problem: the print is a little sheer and not really appropriate for fall/winter. It’s not exactly see-through sheer, but it definitely looks more like “summer” than “fall”. I considered underlining the blouse, but I dismissed that idea because it that might make the blouse too uncomfortable to wear. The smarter choice would be to put the fabric aside until summer and make a dress. That leaves me with the rust wool blend that has suddenly become an orphan. I know fabric stashers don’t see this as a problem but, I am not a fabric stasher (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Something in me won't let me have fabric on hand for more than 3 or 4 future projects. On the bright side, I am now compelled to buy fabric to match the wool blend. Since I'm buying this fabric for a specific purpose and to coordinate with previously purchased fabric, it is not a stash!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Redesigning Burda 7882

I redesigned Burda 7882 to remove the bib. This is the first time I changed a pattern solely for style. The seam attaching the bib to the front serves as a dart. So, I had to move the dart from the shoulder to the bust. Using Rene Bergh’s Make Your Own Patterns, I adapted the directions to use a modified Pivot & Slide method, my favorite method for adjusting patterns. Here's what I did:

1. Determine the position of the bust dart and make a line on the front. (The red line in the following photos) Draw the seam lines on the bib and the front. (Green dashed line in the following photos)

2. Line up the seam lines of the bib and front at the center front.

3. Trace the neckline, front, bottom and side up to the dart line. Trace the dart line, forming the lower dart leg.

4. Reposition the front so that the seam lines of the bib and front match at the shoulder and the cutting lines are aligned.

5. Continue tracing - trace the shoulder, arm hole and side, down to the dart line. Trace the dart line again in it's new position, forming the upper dart leg.

6. Here is the finished redesigned front.

7. Determine the length of the dart and redraw the legs. Fold in the dart and draw in the side cutting lines, smoothing and truing as needed.

As a rule, I don't make muslins. I only make them when major changes have been made to the pattern, as in this case.

Overall, I am pleased with the way it the blouse turned out. This experiment was a success. It actually still looks like a blouse – even after I messed with it! I just eyeballed the dart placement and I have to raise the darts (a great change for a woman my age to make!) and move the dart point back. But, other than that, I think it's a fine first effort!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I Won't SWAP. Don't Ask Me.

A SWAP is too much for me. I have nothing but respect (and envy) for those who can complete SWAPs. However, I really like the idea of sewing several coordinating pieces so, I’m going to set a more realistic goal and sew a Wardrobe Collection rather than a SWAP. (See Carolyn's version) This idea is not new and the hard work has already been done for me. I subscribe to Vogue Fabrics Coordinated Swatch Club, wherein fabrics are arranged in coordinating groups. BWOF shows garments that can be mixed and matched. Consider the following pieces (plus size collection) from the 02/2006 issue of BWOF:

The stylists at BWOF selected fabrics that allow the pieces to be mixed and matched. If I don’t want to use my brain at all, I can copy their fabric selections, i.e. solid blouse with print skirt, matching jacket and pants. Or, I can go out on a limb and try my own combinations. I won’t have to go out too far on that limb because Vogue Swatches are already coordinated. All I have to do is sew.

Hey! I just invented The Lazy Busy Person’s SWAP!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Snow Ball Gown - Pt. 4 - Final Chapter

Look closely at the photo of DD's gown. The major sewing is done, but one thing is missing.

My Daughter!

Getting her to try on anything I make for her is nearly impossible. Now I remember why I started this dress two months in advance. I want to know if this gown will need boning. I want to know if she still wants the sew-on jewels on the back straps. They need to be sewn on by hand -- individually! It may take us a month to find the right bra. I wish we could get her shoes this weekend; then I could hem the dress. But I know she will never agree to that!!! Why do things early when you can wait until the last minute!!! I want to finish this dress so I can get back to sewing for myself! Waaaaaaa!

Whew! Now that I got that off my chest, I feel better. Believe it or not, I really enjoy sewing for my daughter. And I don't expect her to wait around the house 24/7 until I finish the dress. She's 18 yrs old, after all. I'm lucky she lets me sew for her at all. She's a wonderful young lady and she was very pleased when she first saw the dress coming together.

But, I am eager to get back to sewing for myself.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Senior Snowball Gown - Pt. 3

I'm making steady progress on the Snow Ball Gown. Monday night, I inserted the invisible zipper into the side of the dress. I usually get a funky bubble at the bottom of invisible zippers. Lots of basting seems to have solved that problem. First I basted to mark the seam lines on the front and back. Then I basted and stitched the zipper to the back. Since the seam line was clearly visible, it was easy to place the coils on the seam line. Next, I closed the zipper and positioned it on the front seam line. When I was sure of a placement that eliminated the funky bubble, I pinned and basted the other zipper tape onto the front so the zipper wouldn't shift during sewing. The funky bubble is virtually gone! (Yellow arrow below indicates the bottom of the zipper.) I've changed my mind about basting. It really does make a difference.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A New Challenge

A small seed of an idea has taken root in my mind. It was planted by Cidell and Toy. Cidell talked about sewing a tailored jacket in her interview with Toy. That started me thinking about making a lined jacket, something I've never done. Well, if I'm to be honest, I did make a lined jacket about 15 years ago, but the results were horrendous and I have mercifully repressed the memory. I'm a better sewer now, and I'd like to try again. I've got plenty of books. I already have Tailoring from the Singer Sewing Reference Library; Easy Guide to Sewing Jackets by Cecelia Podolak; Jackets, Coats and Suits from Threads' series; even the chapter on Speed Tailoring from The Best of Sewing With Nancy (although "speed tailoring" sounds oxymoronic to me.) In addition, I've ordered Jackets for Real People. But, something is holding me back and keeping me from putting all other projects aside and jumping head first into this endeavor. I'm allowing my work mindset to infect my hobby mindset. At work, I have to be focused on results and that attitude is leaking into my sewing life. The destination has become more important than the journey. I'm thinking about the many items I should be making while spending time on a tailored jacket that might not even be wearable. That way of thinking completely defeats the purpose of a hobby. Changing that way of thinking is my first challenge. The second challenge is actually making the jacket. I would learn a lot by making a tailored jacket. I would be really pleased if the jacket turned out to be wearable.

I have a plan. I'm going to train for this challenge! [Mentally insert the theme music from "Rocky" here.] While I'm working on current projects, I'm going to be searching for inexpensive fabric suitable for a tailored jacket. I'm going to find a pattern; maybe investigate Vogue's Claire Shaeffer patterns. I'm going to read my books on tailoring. I may not get to this project for months so I may end up sewing a wool jacket in the middle of July; but I'm going the distance and I'm going to make that tailored jacket!

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Senior Snowball Gown - Pt. 2

The muslin for DD's gown is finished. Actually, it was finished a few days ago, but she didn't have time to try it on. I thought I might have to trace and cut size 8, but I think the 10 is good. I wanted to photograph the back because I wanted to show how it was gaping and ask for help in solving the problem. But DD would not allow that because her bra strap showed, and she didn't want to be seen in her underwear online. (I think that degree modesty in an 18 year old is cute! Paradoxically, she has a "naked baby picture" as the wallpaper on her cell phone.) There is a little bubble of extra fabric under her right arm that I was able to pin out. I'll try a bit of clear elastic at the back. Susan Khalje suggests using elastic to keep the neckline close to the body; I hope it will work the same magic on the back. The back is really pretty, too. I ordered some "montees" to sew onto the back straps. Summerset educated me about montees and recommended Fire Mountain Gems. Getting their catalog has sparked my interest in making jewelry. I wish I had time to pursue that. I shocked and frightened DD by telling her I would make her jewelry, too! Poor child has no sense of humor.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Senior Snowball Gown - Pt. 1

DD's Senior Snowball is exactly two months away and I'm starting the gown tonight! I've never believed in waiting until the last minute. I want to finish this dress and get back to sewing for myself. [naughty, selfish mommy!] I want to allow time to handle any issues that may come up. And, it looks like there my be some issues coming up. While tracing piece #7, I noticed an error that didn't give me a whole lot of confidence in the pattern. My plan is to do a little every evening. I can make progress without trying to sew when I'm distracted and tired. I have to do this at a time when work is a major PITA and I've been bringing bad moods home with me. [never a good idea] I should be able to get in some quality sewing time in spite of my mood.

I did learn a few things from the last gown, which was also a Simplicity. DD's measurements matched those give for size 12, so that's what I traced and cut. The muslin seemed a little big on her, but I didn't trust my eyes and made the top in a size 12 anyway. Needless to say, the top was too big and I had to make a second top. [luckily, I bought extra fabric] So this time I traced a size 10 first. When the time comes for the Senior Prom, I'm going to try to steer DD away from Simplicity.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Finished: BWOF 08/2007 #126 & #127

It seems as though I've been working on this outfit forever. This is the first project I began after school started and I went back to work. It hasn't been easy to switch from a "lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer" mindset to a "desperate to relax" mindset. During the summer, I could sew for hours at a time. Now, I'm lucky if I can sew for 30 uninterrupted minutes. And the interruptions are not always external. It's been harder for me to leave work at work and concentrate on sewing. I can't relax enough to do something that is certain to relax me. Sometimes, the only way for me to turn off work is to zone out in front of the TV. (Sad)

The pants are made of heavy weight denim. I will never sew with heavy weight denim again. I used a denim needle and my machine could handle the denim, but it just wasn't as much fun to fondle the denim while sewing. Since the denim was so thick, I used broadcloth for the front pockets. I couldn't imagine sewing through all the layers of heavy weight denim when sewing the hip pockets. One fun aspect about sewing the pants was that I found a good button! I didn't want to try to install a snap in the heavy denim and I found the perfect button. It's metal and goes very well with denim. I usually increase the crotch depth on pants. I forgot to make that adjustment on these pants. I believe I forgot because I was not concentrating fully due to the pressure of going back to work.

The blouse is made from a cotton/lycra stretch woven I bought from Vogue Fabrics by Mail. Now that fabric was really fun to fondle! I loved the way it recovered after stretching! The blouse had quite a bit of top stitching. I'm happy I had an edge stitch foot to help. The sleeve cuffs and the front band had a "frill" inserted. That's the kind of design detail I seldom see on Big 4 patterns (especially the plus size patterns) and one of the reasons I enjoy sewing BWOF patterns so much.

I'm finished sewing for myself for a while. I need to get stared on DD's formal dress so she will have it by mid-December. At the rate I've been going, I'll need every day between now and mid-December to get it finished.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Another Day, Another Formal

My DD, the socialite, has another formal affair on her calendar. In December, she has The Snow Ball, a formal for seniors at her school (as if Senior Prom wasn't enough). Her Highness has chosen this design (Simplicity 3735: view A with the double straps) for her dressmaker (me) to make. Once again, she has chosen a simple design. I hope this trend continues through Senior Prom. She selected a bordeaux colored satin from JoAnn. (yes, JoAnn) The bodice will be plain satin and the skirt will have little flecks of glitter. We discussed some sort of jewels on the straps. Again, I'm considering underling the entire dress in addition to lining it, as I did for her Junior Prom dress. I think it gives the dress a little more substance and luxury. So, by royal decree, sewing for myself stops once I finish my current project. Actually, I'm really looking forward to making this dress. I haven't had an emotional connection with any of my sewing projects in a while. This is the type of project I need.

Friday, September 28, 2007

"Pimp My Pattern"

I'm trying to be a more creative sewer. I'm very good at sticking to the directions, but I'm a little afraid of going further. The best sewers, in my opinion, are the ones who use a pattern as a jumping off point and customize it into something more personalized. Isn't that one of the reasons we sew? I've changed patterns for fit, but I've never made changes purely for design. To build my confidence, I'm starting with a simple project for my first Adventure in Customizing. I want to change Burda 7882 into a simple long sleeved shirt without the bib.

The bib seam originating from the shoulder serves as a dart, so I'll have to add a bust dart when I eliminate the bib. That should be the most difficult part of this project (she said with naive and enthusiastic hopefulness). I have two good resources: Shirtmaking by David Coffin and Make Your Own Patterns by Rene Bergh. I understand the theory of pivoting darts – I just have to put it into practice. Yes, I could have bought a pattern without the bib, but that wouldn't be a challenge. One can't improve one's skills without an occasional challenge.