Thursday, January 31, 2008

Next: BWOF 09/07 #129

One of my goals for my fall/winter sewing was to make more skirts & dresses. To that end, I've chosen this dress (#129) from September 2007 BWOF as my next project. Notice how the bottom of the v-neckline stops right between the darts. If I were twenty-five years younger I'd call it décolletage. Since I'm in my 50's, I call it too darn low or just plain unflattering. Thanks to Ann's (Gorgeous Things) tutorial on raising necklines, that problem will be easy to fix. I have other concerns about how this dress will look on me. I don't really have a waistline and I usually wear two piece dresses to conceal the area where my waist would be if I had one. The belt will either call attention to my NDW (Non-Discernible Waist) or provide the illusion of a waist where none exists.

I'm using a knit I bought from JoAnn's last fall. Other blogging sewers have used this fabric; Sewl Sister #1, for one. For some reason, I don't sew a lot of knits. Maybe, I'll finish this knit dress, see it on my body and suddenly remember why I don't sew knits. I think maybe I might recall getting really wavy seams on a project in the hazy, distant past, but adjusting the differential feed on my serger should solve that problem. I plan to look over "Sewing with Knits" before starting this dress.

Cutting out this project has presented challenges. The larger pieces (left front and right front) need to be cut on a single layer of fabric. My cutting table isn't positioned or wide enough to allow easy access for cutting out a single layer. I can't layout everything at once so I can't preview how all the pieces fit best on the fabric. Since I can't spread out the entire 60" width of fabric, I've be laying out and cutting 1 or 2 pieces at a time. I'm praying I'll have enough fabric to cut out all the necessary pieces. I've come to terms with "slow sewing"; now I have to contend with "slow cutting".

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Finished: BWOF Plus Fall/Winter #409 & 410

Another finished project moves from the sewing room to the bedroom closet. I must be getting good at BWOFs because this outfit went together without incident. Other than changing the "blind welt pocket" to a functioning welt pocket, construction of the pants was routine. I made the blouse before as a test garment. This time I lengthened it by just one inch and I'm much happier with the results. Who knew one little inch would make such a difference. It's hard to see, but this blouse has a v-neck in addition to the collar. Being BWOF, of course the v-neck is cut low. For some reason, Burda likes us to show lots and lots of cleavage. But, it's not that obvious with this fabric. Speaking of the blouse fabric, I wonder how many sewers take the time to match prints when sewing. As I look at this photograph, I think maybe I should start doing that. Matching print motifs is a sign of a couture garment. With a print this large, I'm sure it would have meant an extra yard or more. But, money is no object when you're talking about couture garments (yeah, right!).

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Slow Sewing

Amber Eden's editorial in the March 2008 issue of Threads discusses "Slow Sewing". She argues in favor of taking your time while sewing. I agree with her totally, in spite of the fact that I finished my last project, a simple dress, in one day; start to finish, including going to JoAnn to buy buttons. True, it's not the way I prefer to sew, but I had no choice. These pants (BWOF Plus Fall 06 #409) are truly turning out to be a perfect example of "slow sewing". I can explain the delay in one word: welts. Last summer, I put myself through a little self-taught welt workshop. The pants I used were throw-away; I never intended to wear them out of the house. So, I felt free enough to experiment with welts. The pants I'm currently working on are intended to become part of my winter work wardrobe, so I want them to be right. In spite of my welt workshop, I felt I needed to practice at least once before putting welts in these pants. I stopped sewing after my practice welt and basked in self-satisfaction. That took up time. Basking can't be rushed. After I finished the actual welts, I didn't want to push my luck and thought it best to stop sewing for that day. That added more time. And consider this: the instructions called for "blind welts". I can't imagine putting all that time and concentration into an unusable "blind welt". So, I made welt pockets (using the directions in Pants for Real People) which made this project take even longer. Patience turned out to be a virtue and the resulting welt pockets weren't too shabby. In addition to the time already spent on these pants, I'll probably spend even more time lining them. I used tropical wool and I will literally freeze my a$$ off if I wear them in January or February, as intended. (Well, DUH! Why did I think they called it "tropical wool"? ) I don't think this is what Amber Eden had in mind when she wrote about "slow sewing". But I do feel the satisfaction and pride to which she referred in her editorial.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

If I Didn't Sew, I'd REALLY Be in Trouble.

One year ago, I joined the Missionary Society in my church. When I joined, I knew when our Annual Day rolled around, I'd be expected to wear something white or off-white. I usually don't wear white or off-white because I don't think I look good in that color. But, I had no choice so I bought off-white fabric to make a suit. Then I rationalized, denied, procrastinated and never made the suit. Four days before the Missionary Society Annual Day came, I had a role to play in the service. I still didn't have that white suit and I had very little time to shop for one. But, I still had the fabric I bought a year ago. I didn't have time to make a suit, but I did have time to make a simple dress * -- especially since I took a day off work to do so! (I'm always looking for a good reason to take a day off work.) So, I spent a day hunched over a hot sewing machine, acting like a sweat shop worker and sewed a white dress. I still don't like wearing white; the dress looks like a lab coat, but at least I fit in with the other women in the Missionary Society. I wonder what I would have done if I didn't sew. Being a plus-sized woman, my retail options are limited. And it's been my shopping experience that you never find the outfit you need or want when you are desperate and out of time. If you're lucky enough to find the outfit you need, it costs way more than you are prepared to spend.

During the Altar Payer, I thanked God I know how to sew.

* Pattern information is available at PR.

Monday, January 7, 2008

"Death of a Salesman"

My daughter is a senior in high school. You'd think I'd be finished helping with school projects, but you'd be wrong. I don't know why I believed that things would get easier as she got older. The projects have only gotten more complicated. Students have one project each quarter (per class) and each project has to have a "creative component" in which the students can do just about anything they want - videos, power point presentations, dramatizations - whatever. Daughter and her partner decided to make a mannequin of Linda Loman, the wife of Willy Loman in "Death of a Salesman". My part was to sew an apron that conveyed Linda's role as the supportive, yet enabling wife. My daughter selected a pattern that reminded her of the Lucy Ricardo-type housewife. It was actually fun to work on the apron. Since I'm allergic to kitchens, it's doubtful that I ever would have needed made an apron under any other circumstances. They bought the dress and blouse at a thrift shop. I'm a little sorry there wasn't more for me to sew. It would have been fun to dress a fictional character!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Next: BWOF Plus: Fall/Winter 2006 #410A Blouse #409B Pants

My next project is from Burda Plus. I made the blouse before, but I demoted it to a test garment because I used a crappy fabric and I've never worn the blouse. I learned, from making this blouse, that I don't need width adjustments, only length adjustments for BWOF blouses. It feels good not adding more fabric to fit around my top half. Of course, I'm using a plus size which is larger than most other American women, but hey, who's gonna know! Size is only a number, right?

I'm using this tropical wool and polyester print. This represents the end of my NYC fabrics. (I guess that means its time to go back for more!) My NYC trip was in July; now its January. It has taken me six months to use up all but one piece of my NYC fabrics. I don't think I've ever kept fabric for six months. Some people keep fabric for years. I guess it means my fabric buying habits are changing. There are two welt pockets on the back of the pants. According to the directions, they are "blind" pockets. I think that means mock pockets. After reading the directions, I saw no mention of the pocket pouch. I can't see spending the time to get good looking welt pockets and not have an actual pocket. But on the other hand, I doubt that I would ever put anything in my back pocket. It might be more comfortable to have a layer of pocket fabric between the fake welts and my bottom, so I'll probably make real pockets (after a few practice attempts). The fabrics are really fun to handle. I should really enjoy this project.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

BWOF 11/06 #132 or How I Spent My Winter Vacation

The timing was perfect. I got my new machine at the beginning of December. Christmas vacation started a few weeks later and I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with the sewing machine. In addition, I had the time to devote to my "semi-tailored" jacket. A new sewing machine; a new project; a nine day vacation – perfect.

I finished the bouclé jacket. I call this jacket "semi-tailored" because it doesn't have a collar and lapels or pockets. But, this is the closest I've come to tailoring in almost 20 years. I made a suit, but at that time, my skills were really not up to the task. That's all I have to say about that. In the following photo, the blouse hem is turned up, but not sewn. Also, the threads have not been clipped and the jacket has not been professionally pressed. I was eager to post the pictures.

I used "The Easy Guide to Sewing Jackets" as my reference so I didn't rely on the BWOF directions. Something strange happened as I was lengthening the jacket pieces. I think bagging the lining was not the intended treatment. The hem allowance was smaller than I anticipated and it looks a little strange. This was the first time I bagged a lining. It was really a fun treatment to do.

I chose the piping color to match the blouse (Burda 8363). I decided I couldn't possibly make piping without a special piping foot and I drove all the way to King of Prussia to get the foot. I bought the wrong foot the first time and I had to go back the next day (Christmas Eve–Yikes!) to exchange it. One of many "learning opportunities": I sewed the piping to the facing while I was under stitching the facing. Oops.

Two layers of underlined bouclé and one layer of interfacing proved to be too thick to make Bernina's famous buttonholes. So, I was forced (wink) to buy another accessory. This little gadget allowed the thick layers of fabric to move smoothly while making buttonholes. Bernina has a foot for everything!

So, as I look back on the past 9 days, I feel satisfied about all that I accomplished, both sewing and non-sewing related. I hope to duplicate the feeling when Easter Vacation arrives.