Friday, July 30, 2010

Paralyzed by Indecision

The hardest thing for me to do is choose the right fabric for a pattern.  After sewing for over 30 years, the mistake I still make most often is to use fabric that is absolutely wrong for a pattern.  I love prints and I love BurdaStyle design details.  But, the prints I love usually obscure the design details of the Burda patterns I love.  To avoid making the same mistake yet again, I have tried to consider my fabric choices more carefully.

I bought this fabric during PR Weekend in Philly and I love it, but I've been afraid to use it.  The print is large and I didn't want to break it up with a center front opening or too many seams.  So, I went to my Burda Index for a simply styled top and found 05-05-139, which has princess seaming and small bust darts.  (So much for "too many seams")  The fashion photo showed a large scale print and that boosted my confidence, but I've made the wrong choice so many times before.   I have another pattern option, Kwik Sew 2923,  that is a simple v-neck, short sleeved top - no darts or seams in the front. 
KwikSew 2923

I know I'm over-thinking this.  But some of my past projects were disappointing because I didn't think enough about my fabric choice.  And  did I mention, I really love this fabric?  The safest thing to do is first make the shorts that will be worn with this top.  This will give me more time to make up my mind.    Since this will be a shorts outfit, I want the top to be casual.  Which is more casual: the BWOF or the Kwik Sew?  After my last  failure project, I'm overly sensitive to casual v. dressy.  I'm so confused.  It's amazing how a few past mistakes, especially my last project, have made me doubt myself.  I'm forgetting my little sewing motto:  It's only fabric!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Too Much of a Good Thing

This innocent looking fabric was like the Mogwai from the movie "Gremlins".  It very quickly multiplied into several garments,  none of which were exactly what I wanted or expected.

It all started when I needed a top to go with shorts I'd bought last summer.  I was lucky enough to find matching fabric at JoMar.  It was incredibly cheap inexpensive ($2.00/yd) so  I bought more than enough for a blouse (BWOF 04-06-129).  When the blouse was finished, I didn't like the way it worked with the shorts.  The shorts were really casual and the blouse was less so.  I had enough fabric left over for a simpler, more casual blouse (Burda 3215  OOP).  I even made the pattern adjustments to allow for eliminated shoulder pads  (see "A Tale of Two Blouses" 7/16/2010).  I wasn't in love with that combination either, but I would at least wear it out of the house.

Now, I was left a blouse without a mate.  I decided the blouse would look better with a skirt.   So I went back to JoMar hoping I'd find more of the same fabric.  Unfortunately, I did.  I used Burda 3152, another OOP pattern to make a skirt and I had one more outfit that disappointed me.  I think it's too "matchy-matchy".  Imagine that coming from me!

If I learned anything at all from this adventure, it was (1) not to be so obsessive about finding mates for old-maid garments and (2) things don't always have to match.  I got carried away with my obsession and now I have two outfits I will wear but I don't really love.  Maybe, I'll find fabric for a nice solid colored skirt to wear with the blouse.  But I'm not going to obsess about looking for it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Death of the Freakin' Collar.

Long, long ago I was totally defeated by BWOF 04-06-126 and what I came to call the Freakin' Collar. (Click here for the back story) I made a vow to conquer that collar with its poorly written instructions and I kept trying. Finally, I can say the Freakin' Collar has been laid to rest.  I can sew it and barely consult the instructions.  Take that,  Freakin' Collar!

At the end of last summer, I bought shorts without buying tops to go with them.  (They were on clearance - what else could I do? )  I packed them away before I got a chance to wear them.  So this summer, when I unpacked summer clothes, I discovered I didn't have anything to wear with the shorts other than white tops and t-shirts.  So, it became my quest to make a top to match the shorts.  Nothing makes a project more difficult than trying to match fabric to a specific garment I already have.  To make it even more difficult, I went to JoMar  to look for the fabric.  JoMar has terrific bargains, but a shopper is really setting herself up for failure if she is looking for something specific.  But, wonder of wonders, I found fabric I liked in the right color.  That shopping victory made me feel invincible so I chose to use BWOF 04-06-126.  I'd made the blouse at least three times, always with a little trepidation, but this time I was feeling confident. 

The design is deceptively simple, but sewing the collar is a b!t¢#.  At least 70% of the instructions pertain to the collar.  And,  just to taunt me, BWOF uses this collar a lot.

First,  the collar stand is not your typical collar stand.  It involves sewing a concave curve to a convex curve and requires lots of pinning and easing. (Shudder.)

If that weren't bad enough,  a corner is formed when sewing the collar to the lapel.  Not a smooth curve or a straight line, but a corner.  Actually, it's four corners when you consider the upper and under collars

If you are still in your right mind after the collar stand and lapel,  you have to sew the upper collar to the facings and the under collar to the neckline separately.  Imagine doing all this by following BWOF's diagramless and poorly translated text, and you know why I called this "The Freakin' Collar".

Finally, after this blouse, the Freakin' Collar is just a bad memory that has been replaced by the "Burda Collar".  There are more Burda collars in my future; one on a dress (BWOF 05-10-137) and I just might make this blouse one more time.   I can approach this collar with no fear!

Epilogue: After I finished the blouse, I didn't like the way it looked with the shorts.  The shorts were too casual for the blouse; the blouse was too dressy for the shorts;  they just weren't quite right together.    I'm still left with the original dilemma:  shorts and no coordinating top!  I have a big piece of this fabric left.  Hopefully it's enough for a more suitable blouse.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Tale of Two Blouses

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was a period of the right fabric, it was a period of the wrong pattern, it was the age of good intentions, it was the age of poor follow through.

Blouse 1
I started out wanting a blouse to go with the shorts I'd made.  By chance, fabric I bought from JoMar and fabric I ordered from Sawyer Brook went together nicely.  The blouse pattern I chose (Burda 3214 OOP) called for shoulder pads.  I'm not a fan of shoulder pads – haven't been since the mid-eighties.   If I'd remembered the shoulder pads before I cut the fabric, I would have altered the shoulders to eliminate the extra ease.  I didn't like the wrinkles in the shoulder without the shoulder pads, so I put them in.  Then, I didn't like the NFL tackle look,  so I took them out.  I tried smaller pads and they changed the look from a tackle to a quarterback, but that wasn't the look I was going for either.  After fiddling with three different sets of shoulder pads, I decided to eliminate them altogether and wear the blouse padless.  It's a casual shorts outfit, after all.  A few wrinkles at the shoulders can be overlooked.

Blouse 2
Blouse 2 came about much easier than blouse 1.  In the middle of inserting and removing various shoulder pads,  I suspected I'd never wear the short sleeved blouse with the shoulder pads and I was afraid the blouse wouldn't see the light of day.  Luckily, I had a large enough piece of the fabric leftover to make a second blouse.   I chose Burda Plus Fashion Spring/Summer 2006-410.  I haven't worn a sleeveless blouse in years, so this blouse represents a wild leap outside of my comfort zone.  Three digit temperatures will make you do crazy things.   The blouse has bias binding on the armhole and facing on the neckline.  It has waistline darts in the front and back to give a more fitted silhouette.  I also like the way the armscye fits my body without gaping.  I found suitable wood-like buttons in my button collection so I didn't even have to go out and buy buttons. 

So now, I have two different looks from the same fabric.  It is a far, far better thing to have two options rather than one.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Here's an original thought  (I made it up myself – feel free to use it)
Sewing is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you're going to get.

Here's how I arrived at this great profundity:
Bad news:  Several months ago,  my machine started making strange and ugly noises and the bobbin compartment door kept popping open.  I immediately took it to the shop.   
Good news:  The problem wasn't serious. The noises came from an embarrassing accumulation of lint.  I was soundly scolded by the dealer and I promised to do a better job of keeping the machine clean.   
Bad news:  The bobbin compartment door popped open because of a crack in the machine cover (probably due to being transported carelessly).  The replacement cover had to be back ordered and took many weeks.   
Good news:  The part finally arrived and I arranged to take the machine in while I was out of town so I wouldn't miss it and I could sew when I returned home.   
Bad news:  The machine wasn't ready when I returned home. In the interim, I traced and cut out two quick projects.  While my machine was at the dealer, the light behind the LCD screen blew out and that part wouldn't be in for 7 to 10 days!  SEVEN TO TEN MORE DAYS WITHOUT A SEWING MACHINE!  I DON'T THINK SO!    
Good news:  The dealer offered a cute little Activa 210 as a loaner and I was more than happy to accept. I would love to know exactly how the light got broken at the dealership, but I'll consider any extra charges as the rental fee for the free loaner.  But, as they say, it's all good.

I'll be sewing on an unfamiliar machine for the next several days.  My OCD meter is in the red zone.  Luckily, my projects are easy, casual summer tops so I should be able to handle  this change without a visit to a psychiatrist for talk therapy and medication.  This is a harmless little detour and I can get back to my original plan when my machine finally comes home.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

…… and so Summer Sewing Begins

I made an impromptu visit to my home town in central New York State for the holiday weekend.  The visit was bittersweet.  My beloved aunt is in the hospital and will most likely be discharged to an assisted living facility.  But, I got to see my immediately family and we had a great time together.  The small amusement park in my home town is slowly being restored and my siblings and I went there to revisit our childhood.  My niece got the brass ring on the merry-go round.  I got a little dizzy!  That sucker goes faster than I remember!!!!!

I managed to finish a shorts outfit in time for the heat wave.  The blouse (Burda 3214) is an old, old OOP pattern and needs raglan shoulder pads.  In this heat, the shoulder pads seem like an unnecessary layer,  so it may be awhile before I put them in and the blouse is wearable.  In the meantime, I had enough of the fabric left over to cut out a sleeveless blouse.  I also went to JoMar to look for a specific fabric  (and to take advantage of someone else's air conditioning).  I needed something to match a pair of shorts I bought last summer.  It's not a good idea to go to JoMar with something specific in mind, but I was lucky enough to find just what I was looking for.  I'll cut the fabric while I wait for my machine to come home.

Yes, my machine is back in the shop.  Somehow the cover got cracked and the replacement was back-ordered months ago when she was in the shop for another issue.  I'd hoped to have it home again when I got back from my trip, but no such luck.  So I'll be just tracing and cutting-out for awhile.  I'll have some projects cut out and marked and machine-ready by the time my machine returns from her little vacation.