Wednesday, March 30, 2011

If You Fail to Plan ……

I've always been the kind of person who needs a plan.  Since the P in SWAP stands for Plan,  I believed I could finish a SWAP.  Several days ago, my SWAP felt more like a SWAMP and I didn't know how to move on.  I wasn't enjoying the project, but I still was compelled to finish it.  The problem was I had no direction – no plan. 

The SWAmP was the last item in my queue and I felt lost not knowing what I was going to do next. I felt obliged to finish the wardrobe because I didn't have another project lined up.  This problem was easily fixed.  I had fabrics on hand and an occasion to sew for (PR Weekend) but, I hadn't assigned the fabrics to any patterns yet.  So I spent a relaxing evening going through my pattern index and assigning patterns to fabrics.  I added four projects to my queue; enough to keep me busy for weeks.  Once I had goals and a direction, I was able to enjoy myself again.

In addition to formulating a plan,  I took the advice of some commenters from my previous post.  Charley gave me good advice.  She said,  "What if you sew it by outfit? Do one top/bottom/jacket then move to a different project and come back to the SWAP pieces and pick a skirt/top, etc." So, that is what I did.  I already sewed the two blouses.   I'd only have to finish the pants or skirt and I'd have a completed outfit.  Best of all, I wouldn't feel like a failure.  Once I decided on the pants, my mojo was freed and I got back on track.  Then Carolyn, in her much appreciated, no-nonsense way, said, "Sometimes it's okay to put the fabric back in the bin and wait for the next season. If you need permission, then I'm giving you permission. Move on and sew spring because your hobby should make you happy not tense and uptight! :)".     I happily put away the rest of the SWAP fabric and I'm ready begin the next projects in my newly revised queue!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Some People Just Shouldn't SWAP

I've always found SWAPs fascinating.  Imagine owning eight to ten coordinating pieces.  Wow!  I was inspired by SWAPs I'd seen on blogs, on Stitcher's Guild and on Pattern Review.  I dreamed of the day I would sew my own SWAP.  I found a group of suitable patterns.  I found fabrics that worked together.  I finally started the SWAP I'd dreamed about. Then I woke up.

Sewing a planned wardrobe has not been as much fun as I originally thought.  I feel like I'm bogged down and plodding through quicksand.  So much is working against me.
  • I just don't have the temperament for a SWAP.  I prefer to work projects from beginning to end but I'll be bored to death if I stay with this SWAP.  I may have to put it aside in order to save my sanity.  I'm considering interspersing SWAP pieces among other projects.  Following this schedule, it might very well  be August by the time I finish my SWAP and that may make me crazier than if I stay with it until the end.  I do much better when I can make two pieces - a top and a bottom - and move on.  Two coordinating pieces is a SWAP in the broadest sense, isn't it?
  • So far, my blouse fabrics have not been user-friendly.  The print fabric is very stable and the sleeve caps didn't ease well.  The solid color fabric ravels and frays like crazy.  I basted a pleat, then by the time I got back to it the fabric frayed beyond the line of basting and the pleat had disappeared.  The fabric was heavily treated when I bought it.  I had no way of knowing it would fray so badly until I got it home and washed it.  Things will get better (I hope) when I get to the skirt, jacket and pants, which will be made from a lightweight wool crepe.  This brings me to the next problem.
  • Time has not been on my side.  Sewing wool crepe makes me think of Winter just when I'm finally seeing hints of Spring in southeastern Pennsylvania.  (It hasn't snowed in almost a month!)  After a miserable Winter,  I want to sew Spring fabrics.  I'm already looking ahead and planning pieces for PR Weekend in May.  Yet here I am, fussing with 5 yards of wool crepe.
Once again, I learned what I already knew:  SWAPs are not for me.  Maya Angelou has been credited with saying, "When someone shows you who they are, believe them."  I should have applied that advice to myself.  I showed myself to be a sewer who prefers sewing outfits, not wardrobes.  What made me believe I could sew an entire SWAP?

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Reason Why I Sew

I needed a simple long sleeved blouse as a part of my Mini Swap.  I looked through my BWOF index and even looked through McButterVogue catalogs.  Nothing was exactly what I wanted.  But wait!  I'm sewing this top, right?  I can do anything I want with it!   Isn't that the reason why I sew?  Doh!  Huge head slap!

BWOF 05-2006-130 had the bones I wanted:  long sleeves and no collar.  All I had to do was shorten it and move the front opening to the back.  The process for making a slit opening in the neckline was in Easy Guide to Sewing Tops and T-Shirts (Tilton, 1998) but since there was a slit opening already in the front of the top, I really didn't need to consult the book.  But, I read it anyway to bolster my confidence.

There is a real possibility this wardrobe won't be finished in time to wear this season.  This blouse is only the first piece in the wardrobe.  I still have another blouse, pants, a skirt and a jacket to sew.   The fabric for the skirt, pants and jacket is a light weight wool and would certainly qualify as a transition garment and that provides some motivation to keep working on this project.  I've always suspected I didn't have the patience to finish a SWAP.   Life has stolen a big chunk of my sewing time and I've almost lost interest in this project.   So, I'm changing the purpose of this wardrobe.  It has become a segue project until I can begin warm weather sewing. At the rate I'm sewing now, by the time I finish the four other pieces, it will be May!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Two New Books

You have to love those guys at Amazon.  Their targeted marketing is dead on.  By now, Amazon knows I'll buy almost any sewing book.   Every time I visit the Amazon site, I'm tempted with sewing books.  At the top of every page I see, "Hello.  We've got recommendations for you".  Click the link, and I've got about 50 sewing titles to browse through (many of which I already own).  I also get tempting emails.   Recently, Amazon sent an email heralding new sewing books and that's how I learned about the Illustrated Guide to Sewing series.  I'm glad Amazon knows me so well.  I really like my two newest books.

Lately, any book with the word "couture" in the title interests me.  I am on a mission to upgrade my skills and incorporate couture techniques into my sewing.  In the absence of classes, what better way to learn something than to buy books on the topic.  I like this book much better than the last book I bought on couture techniques.  It's not a book for beginners or sewers looking for quick techniques.    There are only three chapters in this book:  Premium Fabrics, Getting the Right Fit and Couture Techniques, but a lot of information is covered.  The sections on fit are quite extensive and cover topics like dolman and raglan sleeves.  The book recommends making a muslin and using standard "slash and fold" pattern fitting.  The couture techniques chapter never mentions fusible interfacing!   Can you believe it?  Interfacing sewn in by hand! (I guess real couturiers don't fuse.)  And there is lots and lots of basting and thread tracing with illustrated instructions on several hand sewing stitches.  And speaking of hand sewing stitches, the instructions for putting in a centered zipper involves very little machine sewing.

I also want to make a tailored garment. Since I was in a book buying mood, I also ordered this title.  Somehow, making a tailored jacket scares the bejeezus out of me.  I made a jacket a few years ago, but I've been afraid to wear it.   The subtitle is "A Complete Course on Making a Professional Suit" and that is exactly what this book is. *  I like this book because the sections on pattern fitting are not general fitting techniques but are specific to suit patterns.  Men's and women's jackets are addressed separately.  As in Couture Techniques, no fusible interfacing is mentioned.  The step-by-step instructions are very detailed, almost to the point of intimidation.  There are 69 steps for constructing a flap pocket.  But there are tons of multi-colored diagrams to help. 
These diagrams show twill tape, pad stitching interfacing and lining, yet they are not confusing.

Another title in this Illustrated Guide to Sewing series is Garment Construction Those evil marketers at Amazon offered special pricing for all three titles.  I didn't order Garment Construction, though.  Not because of any strength of will, but because  I felt confident in general garment construction and I already own four or five basic books.  Besides, at the time I received the email, the book hadn't been released.  But, judging from my reaction to Couture Techniques and Tailoring, there might be something new for me to learn from Garment Construction and I may end up buying it, too.   I wouldn't want to break up the set!

Amazon lists Peg Couch as the editor of this series although her name does not appear on the title page.  She is described as "an amateur seamstress and book acquisition editor at Fox Chapel Publishing".  At first, I was put off by the word "amateur".  But the information is these book is far beyond "amateur".  Both books remind me of the articles that used to appear in Threads Magazine back in the 1980s.  Right now the techniques seam beyond my skills.  But now I have the information to improve my skills.  That is exactly what I was looking for.

* I don't know if Peter of Male Pattern Boldness reads my blog.   I believe he could sew the suit he promised Michael if he had this book.