Sunday, August 29, 2010

Final Fabric Fling of the Summer

Elizabeth organized a Pattern Review Shopping Day for Aug. 28, 2010, just days before my summer vacation ended and I was due to go back to work.  It was a wonderful way to end my vacation on a high note. I always have a great time fabric shopping with the friends I've met through Pattern Review and it was wonderful to add new friends to the list.

Metro Textiles (265 W 37th St) and Elliot Berman (225 W 35th St ) agreed to open on Saturday especially for us and judging by the full bags and rolling suitcases, everyone found something to purchase at those stops.  There was no way we all could have fit into Metro Textiles at one time so we divided into two groups and conquered Metro Textiles and Elliot Berman separately.  Then we reassembled and went to Mood for more shopping and to practice our Tim Gunn "Thank you, Mood!" impersonations.

Half the group at Elliot Berman
Remembering how overwhelmed and exhausted I was after PR Weekend 2010, I came with a very short To Do List.

√  1.  Get fabric to make a dress for my best friend's retirement party.  I found this jersey knit at Metro.  The party is at the end of September, so this project moves to the beginning of my queue.

2.  Find blouse fabric to match bottomweight recently added to my collection.  It's hard to tell from the photograph, but this cotton/silk blend is a perfect match for the teal bottomweight.

3.  Get eighteen red buttons for a knit top that's been in the queue for months.  I've been wanting to do more with knits.  This fabric has been pushed back many, many times because I prefer sewing wovens.

Since I successfully checked all of the items on my To Do list,  I treated myself to this bonus piece:

I have no idea what I'm going to do with this French cotton from Elliot Berman.  I just liked it!

These PR shopping excursions are really fun.  There are few things better than spending time and talking with people who are as passionate about sewing as I am.  Kudos to Elizabeth for planning such a great experience and kudos to co-commander Carolyn.  I'll be watching the PR message boards for the next outing.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sewetta: Easy Come, Easy Go

I took Sewetta, my new vintage machine to a repair shop for what I hoped would be a good cleaning and lubrication.  The news wasn't good.   After the technician looked her over, he asked how much I paid.  When I said $30, he said, "You paid too much."  Ouch.  The bobbin case needed to be replaced and one of the gears was damaged.  The other three gears were okay,  but the technician thought they should also be replaced because they were as old as the broken gear and might break at any time.  I set a limit for how much I would spend on repairs.  If the repairs cost more than $120, I planned to wait until I had more discretionary funds.  I didn't want to spend a lot of money on a machine that would sit in the closet most of  the time.  Unfortunately, replacing one gear and the bobbin case exceeded my limit .  The bobbin case alone cost more than I paid for the sewing machine.  One day you're in, the next day you're out.  Auf Wiedersehen, Sewetta.

Since I said I was looking for a back-up machine, Mr. Tech pointed out an unclaimed machine he was willing to sell to me for $100.  I asked if he would take Sewetta as a trade-in.  At first,  Mr. Tech said no.  After hard negotiations, he changed his mind and decided to take Sewetta and sell the unclaimed machine to me for $80.  That was less than my limit and it got Sewetta off my hands.  I said yes.   The machine is a Singer 347 from the late 60s,  just about the time I learned to sew. That gave it sentimental value.   I named her  Green Wilma, which is the title of a book I read to my daughter when she was young.  The author is from my hometown.  More sentimental value.  Best of all, Green Wilma already works, so I don't have to spend any more money to get her fixed.  Her repairs are guaranteed for a year.  And to top it all off,  Mr. Tech threw in three metal bobbins and a package of needles.

Spending an additional $80  was not as much fun as spending the original $30, but I got what I wanted: a working back-up machine.   I plan to take Green Wilma to church when our Sewing Ministry meets.  I might have let a $30 machine sit unused in the closet, but not a $110 machine.  Green Wilma has to earn her keep.

Monday, August 23, 2010

LBD Progress Report

Second muslin without the bodice changes
Part One: The Little Black Muslin

My LBD isn't going to be so L.    According to the pattern description, this dress is "fitted".   I made the first muslin in my usual size and it was a little too "fitted"  so I went up a size.   After studying the muslin, I decided to make the bodice a little longer.

Part Two: New Attitude

I've had to change the way I sew while working on this dress.  My last several projects were cranked out in record speed.  This dress is the polar opposite.  I made two muslins, which means I traced all of the pattern pieces TWICE!   Things moved quickly once the tracing was finished.  I haven't traced the jacket yet.  I'm going to save that until the dress is completely finished.  Hopefully, working on the jacket separately will allow me to fool myself into thinking I'm working on a different project.

Part Three:  Sparkles!

I used a sparkly chiffon laid over the satin for contrast.  I love the look, but the sparkles are a bit of a pain.  Every once in a while, the glued-on glam got caught up in the feed dogs.   I'm going to give my machine a really good cleaning as soon as I finish sewing sparkles.  As a matter of fact, I'm going to do that cleaning the next time I sit down to sew.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Meet Sewetta

I was minding my own business.   I'd run a few Saturday morning errands  and by 1:00 PM  I was back home,  ready to relax and trace the jacket to my LBD.   The phone rang.

Ring Ring
Me:       Hello?
Karen:   Do you want to buy a sewing machine?
Me:        Hell yeah!  I'll be right there!

Well, maybe it wasn't exactly like that, but it was close.   Less than 30 minutes later, I was the proud owner of a new old sewing machine.  A thrift store on Karen's block was having a big sale and there was a lonely little Singer Touch and Sew in the back, waiting to be given a good home.   I mean, it was $30.00!  Anybody would have bought it!  Besides, if I didn't buy it, Karen would have.  I bought it to help out a friend.  I'm not starting a collection of vintage machines, although I do envy some of the vintage babies other bloggers have obtained.  I just needed a back-up machine. 

I got home and plugged her in.  The motor worked, the feed dogs moved back and forth and the needle went up and down, but she really needs to go in the shop to get the gunk cleaned out.  Plus, there's a lever that looks like it should move to the left, but doesn't.  My friend Karen to the rescue again.  She recommended a repair person who likes working on older machines.  Karen is a world-class enabler, but, as the kids say, "I ain't mad at her."  I needed a back-up machine and now I have one.

Monday, August 16, 2010

My Little Black Dress

Burda 7666: Dress B & Jacket C
I've put it off as long as possible. I told myself I have to finish all of my summer projects first. But the calendar isn't cooperating.  I have to start this dress!

In October, I have an occasion that requires a dressy dress.  It's been a very long time since I've had to get glam and I'm looking forward to it.  I chose Burda 7666 for it's classic lines.  I didn't want to stray away from the recommended fabric, crepe backed satin.  I found a few very pretty colors, but I  chose to use black instead.  Yes, black is a boring color for dressy dresses but you really can't go wrong with a little black dress.  We larger women have to be careful when we go formal.  I'm using a sparkly chiffon for the bodice overlay to keep it from being totally boring.  I don't expect any fit surprises, but I'm still making a muslin.  That's why I've put off this project for so long.  I don't like making muslins.  Yes, experience has taught me how important muslins are, especially in a project for a special occasion, but I still don't like making them.  

The timing couldn't be better.  The summer program in which I worked ended on Aug. 13.  That gives me two full weeks to work on this dress before (shudder) school starts.  So, I'll be up to my elbows in muslin and black satin for a while.  I usually don't post during the work-in-progress stage, but if things get interesting, I'll send up a cry for help.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Finished: BWOF 03-07-129 and Cutting Table

Blouse:  BWOF 03-07-129
This is another TNT blouse.  A year ago, I didn't have any pattern I considered a TNT.  Now I have at least three.

I had another opportunity to use Kenneth King's  curved seam technique.  I love this technique. I also used the collar technique demonstrated on the Threads Insider Techniques DVD.  I love that technique, too.  Since I've made this blouse twice before, the blouse construction was straightforward.  I truly see the advantage of a TNT pattern.  Now, I am a believer.  The fabric is a linen/poly blend (bought during Philly PR Weekend) with the look of linen but none of the tendency to wrinkle. The only alteration I made was to lengthen the blouse.  Currently, this is an old maid blouse – I didn't make pants to wear with it.  I have enough black or tan pants to wear with this blouse.

Cutting Table
While my DD was home, I had to take down my cutting table for one night to accommodate an overnight guest.   Since DD was recovering from surgery, she couldn't help with the lifting the table requires.  After DD and guest left,  I struggled to put the table back together all by myself and I realized I had to make some changes.  I put the problem in the "To Be Solved" lobe of my brain and waited for inspiration.  The solution came in a flash!

Changing the leg assembly from this:

to this:

made it possible to assemble the legs independently of the table top, position them over the bed and finally attach the table top.  The task is still unwieldy, but I can do it by myself!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Blouse, The Skirt and The Table

I'm so glad I used red for this outfit.  The color keeps the outfit from being too matronly.   I used a nice breathable cotton for the blouse and linen for the skirt.  It will be perfect for summer Sundays in church.

The Blouse:  BWOF 04-06-126
I've made this blouse twice in three weeks and there isn't much more to say about it. After reading Kenneth King's article on treacherous curves on the Threads website,  I applied the techniques to the curved seams on the collar and collar stand.  The method made joining the curves much easier.  After I saw King's article, I checked a few of my sewing books and found the same information there.  I really need to spend more time with my sewing books.  I'm missing  lots of useful information.

The Skirt:  BWOF 09-06-135
The skirt is a wardrobe staple - a six gore skirt.  The recommended fabric was wool but it worked well in linen.   The instructions called for a lining and I included one in my linen version so I wouldn't have to wear a slip. (They are so uncomfortable in the summer!)  The last time I lined a skirt, I somehow got the zipper opening on the wrong side and I had to cut another lining. This time I marked the front and back with chalk and double checked the position before sewing in the lining.  This is a classic skirt and I don't know why I took me almost four years to make it.  It is destined to become a TNT pattern.

The Table
My next sewing project doesn't involve fabric.   I've been very happy with the cutting table I designed and built.   I designed the table to straddle the bed in the sewing room and to be disassembled when the bed was needed for a guest.  My design had a major flaw:   taking the table down and putting it back up was a big headache.  It is difficult even with two people.   I came up with an alternative design and I'll be working on another prototype.  For the next few days, I will be working with wood at the same time I'm working with fabric.  Hopefully, I'll have a new and improved cutting table by the time I finish the blouse I'll be sewing.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Finished: Top BWOF 05-05-139 and Shorts Burda 8087

After much unnecessary agonizing, I decided to make the BWOF top rather than the Kwik Sew top.  Connie said it best.  The Kwik Sew top "yells scrub nurse" and that wasn't the look I was going for. : ) This outfit should be the end of my casual summer sewing.  It's time to get back to sewing my work wardrobe.

Top BWOF 05-05-139

Pattern Description:
Short sleeved tunic with darts and front and back princess seams

Pattern Sizing: European Plus size 46 - 52

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes and I was glad. I used a large scale print and I wasn't sure if that was the best choice. The pattern photo showed a large scale print.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes. I hardly needed them. The construction couldn't have been more straightforward.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I wanted a simple design that wouldn't clash with the large scale print fabric.  I was concerned about interrupting the print with seams and darts.  I needn't have worried.  I can barely see the princess seams and darts in this blouse.

Fabric Used: A nice drapey challis I named "Indigo Batik"

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
The original pattern was tunic length. I shortened it to blouse length.

I'm glad I finally made this blouse. It's I simple design that can be worn in a variety of ways.

Shorts Burda 8087

Pattern Description:
Typical fly front pants in two lengths.

Pattern Sizing:
The envelope includes sizes 10 to 24 (European 36 - 50)

Were the instructions easy to follow?
This pattern had no surprises so the instructions are hardly necessary.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I wanted a simple pattern for shorts and this pattern fit the bill nicely.

Fabric Used:
A loose weave linen bought specifically to coordinate with the Indigo Batik.  The weave was so loose, it was practically coming apart in my hands.   I serged all of the edges to prevent raveling.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
The shorts are shown at a length I really didn't care for, below the knee, so I chopped off about 6 inches.

This pattern will be my TNT for shorts.  I haven't made the long version, but I'm sure I will like them also.

– • – • – • – • – • – • – • – • – • – •

$25 and worth every penny
I learn a lot from OSBs (Online Sewing Buddies).  For example, I first learned about this pincushion from Ann of Gorgeous Things.  When I read about the pincushion on Ann's blog, I immediately went to Susan Khalje's store to take a look.  I don't mind admitting, at first I couldn't see spending $25 on a pincushion.    I mean, what could it do other than hold pins?  Then Gwen of All My Seams recommended it, too.  I asked her what made this pincushion so special and she told me how comfortable it was and told me, "you only live once"!  I couldn't argue with that, so I bought one!

Both women were right!  This is a great pincushion. It's so lightweight, I forget I'm wearing it.  It doesn't slide all around my wrist.  It's easier to pull pins out than to pry them from the magnetic surface of a Grabbit or magnetic wrist pincushion.  It really is possible to love a pincushion!  Yes, $25 is too much to spend on a pin cushion, but what good is a hobby if I can't splurge on it occasionally. 

The next time an OSB (or even a sewing muggle) is excited about anything, I won't so much as raise an eyebrow. I'll investigate the situation and probably follow suit.