Friday, March 30, 2007

My Sewing Space

I'd like to share pictures of my sewing room. It's the smallest bedroom room in the house and I needed to keep the bed, so space was a big issue. I used to have the ubiquitous fold up cutting table, but it was impossible to move around in the room when the table was up. I realized I needed a table that would fit over the twin bed and could be taken apart when I needed the bed for a guest. I was inspired by Christopher Lowell on HGTV and I decided to try to build the table I needed. I'd seen Christopher make anything and everything out of PVC pipe, so I first used a hollow core door for the table top and PVC pipe for the legs. However, the PVC pipe wasn't sturdy enough so I switched to saw horses for the legs. I painted and stenciled the table top to match the room's decor. I'm very proud of my table and it serves me very well.
Most of my supplies, books and notions are stored in a bookcase. Notice the box holding patterns on the bottom shelf -- I built that, too! Watching HGTV really boosts your confidence! Anything I can roll-up and store in a tube, like pattern tracing paper and interfacing goes into the basket next to the bookcase. Frequently used supplies are stored within reach at the end of the table.

The room has a very small closet where I store my fabric, more books and seldom used supplies. Having such a "cozy" sewing rooms keeps me from accumulating too much "stuff".
When I first set up a dedicated sewing space, I felt it had to be a guest room as well as a sewing room. I soon got over that feeling. I have guests once or twice a year, but I sew almost every day. It's nice to have a place where I can get lost in a project and escape from the everyday stresses.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Another Organizational Project Finished

I just finished making a catalog of my envelope patterns. All I did was photocopy the front and back of pattern envelopes, separate them into categories, and put them in a binder. I have less than 100 patterns, so it wasn't a big job. Someone who doesn't sew may think that is quite a lot, but I'm surprised that I don't have more. A few years ago, I custom built a pattern box to fit in my bookcase. I vowed to never own more patterns than fit into that box, so I purge periodically. I also subscribe to Burda World of Fashion and I've cataloged those patterns. This will actually stop me from buying too many patterns. I have an easy way to see every pattern I own before I buy another one. These catalogs will also help in wardrobe planning. I can sit with my Vogue Fabrics swatches and find patterns appropriate to the fabrics I want. As a matter of fact, I look forward to the summer day when I can sit on the side porch with a pitcher of lemonade, Vogue Fabrics swatches, and my pattern catalogs and buy tons of fabric without leaving home! Simple pleasures truly are the best -- especially to a person fortunate enough to love sewing!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


This is the fabric for my BWOF Challenge. As I said in the previous post, This was a real departure for me because I bought this fabric without a plan -- kind of an Anti- SWAP. The only plan was to find a pattern from BWOF to use with this fabric. The print has a shiny satin finish that isn't evident in this picture. I bought the fabric from a shop on Fabric Row in Philadelphia. I fit the muslin this evening and I'm ready to start the skirt.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Next in the Queue

I'm taking a break for DD's prom dress. We need to get the proper "foundation garments" and shoes before I can hem it. Then, I'll have it dry cleaned and it's finished.

In the meantime, I'm back to sewing for myself. After I completed my BWOF Index, I told myself I should be able to easily find a BWOF pattern for any fabric I might happen to buy. To test this theory, I went to Philadelphia's Fabric Row and picked out fabric just because I liked it. I didn't have any preconceived ideas about what I wanted to make. Then I looked through my BWOF Index and decided on the skirt & blouse below.
I can't wait to finish it.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Staying Organized

My favorite pattern company is Burda. I subscribe to Burda World of Fashion and buy the envelope patterns as well. I came up with a method to organize the BWOF magazines that works very well for me.

I use only the plus-size designs in BWOF, so this method is manageable for me. I made a template using a word processing application. I import photographs and line drawings from the Burda website into the word processing document, print out the pages, then store them in a binder making a handy index.
I can flip through the index, select the pattern I want, then go to the issue and remove the desired pattern sheet. I store the issues and pattern sheets in a 13 pocket expanding file and the file is kept in my bookcase.
Works for me!

Saga of the Prom Dress - Chapter One

My first formal project has been a dress for my daughter's junior prom. I've been waiting to sew this project since my daughter was born. Luckily, she chose a very simple design (Simplicity 3826) so I wasn't worried that the dress required sewing skills I didn't have. The only thing left for me to worry about was the fabric she would choose. The recommended fabrics listed were firm fabrics like satin, taffeta, dupioni. I thought the dress would have made up nicely in a dupioni, but that's not what she chose. Instead, she chose crepe-backed satin, but preferred the crepe side over the satin side. (My daughter has very conservative taste for a 17 year old.) Her choice turned out well because the crepe side has little flecks of "shiny" from the satin threads. It will have a subtle sparkle under the right kind of light.

DD's measurement matched the pattern measurements for size 10 almost exactly. I haven't been a fan of making muslins, but I decided I'd better be safe and make one for this important project -- particularly for the top because it required boning and I'd never boned anything before. When DD tried on the muslin top it seemed a little big. But since her measurements matched the pattern measurements so well, I didn't believe my eyes and went ahead a made the top from the fashion fabric. BIG MISTAKE! The top was huge -- just like the muslin! There was no way she could have filled out the cups of that top, even with a padded bra. Fortunately, I bought extra fashion fabric and made another top using a smaller size. Whew! First crisis averted. I never really liked Simplicity patterns and it's been years since I used one of the other Big 4 patterns -- and now I remember why! The fit is horrendous!