Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

I was strangely smitten with this pattern when I saw it, nostalgia for the granny comfort of it. Something my Ma or Gran-ma would have worn in the 70's.  I got it on sale recently on the Vogue pattern site.  Much to my amusement, rifling through my vintage patterns on the very day this pattern arrived, I found this:

It may be hard to see details with my terrible lighting, but the robes are EXACTLY the same.  The vintage version gave an option of a tie belt.

And  never mind sizes changing, look at that $1.00 price verses today's  $22.50!!!  I would NEVER pay that for a bathrobe pattern.  I thought I was kind of crazy for committing to buying fabric for this thing, but blame it on the nostalgia!

The tradition of late pajama pants at my house is strong and thriving.  I'm glad I'll get them done eventually.  It used to be homemade cookie ingredients I bought and never made, until the kids started baking them up.  I threw out more than a few jars of green and red sprinkles.

And Happy Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, or whatever you may celebrate if you're celebrating.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Then I found myself

right in the neighborhood of G Street Fabrics! I took someone to look at an apartment in Rockville MD today .I wondered briefly about fabric opportunity; this is just outside of Washington DC and is much more urban than my slower lower Delaware world.  I shook it off because it was Sunday and  I was sandwiching this 5 hour round trip adventure between two night shifts. I did just have to ask the landlady if there were any near by fabric stores and she said "G Street".  I've been hearing about this store for years, and GPS had me 7 minutes away.

Because both time and money were not budgeted for fabric today, I was determined to get in and out and sin gently.  As you can see with that $16. total, I did just that!

I found lovely beefy ribbing that I needed for my sweatpants, yayyyyy!

that's a blurry dark pen for perspective.
I passed rows and rows of other lovelies without grabbing any because I had no specific project in mind that I needed anything for.  I could not resist grabbing SOMETHING from the $2.99 room, as it's nice to have stuff you don't mind wrecking in practice.  I found this Dia de Muertos spandex/poly blend, not to thin or too shiny, great for a thirteen year old girl to be inspired with.  Mmm, no, she said. So I'll use it for something, or not.

I grabbed elastic and a bra back on the way out, dying a little at not being able to spend time with all of the threads, buttons, and trims on the way out.

The store was smaller than I expected, smaller than Mood in NYC.  The selection was vast and included apparel fabrics for ever scenero, quilting, home dec and upholstery.  A separate little store sold Bernina sewing machines. The sales staff seemed knowledgeable (not much time for chat today, on my part) and very pleasant.

I would so love to visit this store again, with more target fabric in mind, more time and money allotted.  I don't think the apartment thing went through though, so it might be quite some time before I find myself in Rockville again.  All scheduled  Airport trips for my family will have to be done during normal business hours, as Rockville is fairly close to that airport.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Style Arc Shelby Sweatpants

I purchased this pattern at least a year ago.  I started a pair in a fabric I hated and satisfied myself with pattern fit.  I don't know why I took so long to make a "for real" pair.  So, finally, I'm working on them.  I'm surprised I've only seen one blog post about these, and nothing on pattern review.  They seem to be trendy and comfortable.

One thing I did know about Style Arc is that some of their pattern instructions beg you to go your own way.  This particular pattern demands it for the pockets.

First of all, the bag was too small for my big hands.  Probably that was my first clue that I should have just gone ahead and redrafted, especially since I needed to draft a facing to turn in and under the edges of the window opening over the zipper.

The instructions (found separately under a tutorial on their webpage) call for you to just mark the pants front, slash as indicated, and turn under. I think that would be pretty tricky without a facing, especially since next step is to slap the zipper underneath and stitch around.  Nahhh.  THEN they wanted you to sew the bags to whatever zipper edges were leftover working around all of that fabric flapping around. That would have been enough to make me abandon project right there. If I do it again I'll draft a new pocket all in one piece, with the facing piece in the middle and insert like a coin pocket in a bag.  I had already cut out the pockets and didn't want to waste that fabric (the ghost of my frugal sewing mother telling me not to DARE)!

Had I redrafted and recut, I might have avoided this.  I was thinking, do the same to the top and the bottom. The one edge was never meant to wrap over the zipper, and when sewed to do so it meant it could never meet the edges of the other side of the bag and would become much smaller indeed if trimmed to do so.

Don't you hate it when you are sewing something thinking, man this would be a PAIN to rip out and it's really a premonition.  I bought this little ripper for quilt ripping. It's miraculous on cottons, but worked pretty well on this knit as well.  The knobby end feels like eraser rubber and grips and pulls at stitches you've busted with the pointy end.  A plain eraser will work as well, but this is just kind of handy attached.  I think the point on this one is just a tad slimmer than my standard seam ripper too.

So, I've just got waistband and cuffs to finish these.  I didn't like the ribbing available at my closest Joanne's, 50 miles away, and I'm a little leery of trying to get the right match online, so I'm using self fabric for cuffs and band.  I hope to make another trip to NYC's garment district this spring and will stock up on some in basic black and white in different weights and widths.

much better, much less trimming needed.

AND I learned how to knit a pair of socks!!  The toes are only different shapes when toes are not in them.  I'm pretty pleased with these.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

No image available

well, unless you want this one.

Yeah, my world, bleary eyed in the dark.

Soooo, no great things to show.  I dusted off and oiled up one of my beloved vintage machines, the Kenmore 90.  Packed up some kid appropriate cotton, many good notions, and went to Walmart and purchased some more and 2 EASY patterns.  Hauled it all upstate (and upstairs to the 3rd floor apartment) and gave daughter number 2 a sewing lesson.  It was so much fun!!!  She was interested, concentrated and listened and made a pair of shorts with my help that night, and a pair alone the next day.  The machine is great for a beginner, sews kind of slow compared to all of my singers, very unfiddly about trivial things like TENSION (it sewed just fine with the check spring snapped off for a few months).  Does fabulous free motion embroidery and quilting.  Comes with a nice button hole attachment, and 30 cams for fancy stitches she'll use rarely if at all, and the original book.  A very forgiving and easy to use and maintain machine, in a nice cabinet.

On one of my nightshifts, I got seduced with Tunisian crochet and went off on that tangent for a while, hooking up about 10 or 15 round dishcloths that are now waiting to see if I'll block them on a corner of a sewing table.  Probably I will.  I did many colors and they are kind of cute.  I'm thinking hope chests for grandchildren, perhaps I should start some of those.  Embroider some more pillow cases, that kind of stuff.  I of course was inspired by a blog for that (Miss Abigail's hope chest) and it may be the site that led me to the shaker style dishcloths.

After I got a little weary of the dishcloth, I decided yes I COULD knit a sweater, especially if it were just a tiny little newborn sweater for the latest of my progeny due in October.  I probably can knit this sweater (it's swinging from the needles in the dark picture above) but so far I've unraveled totally twice and partially twice.  Novice knitting in the dark. Then I plan to do at least a matching hat, if not booties too.

I've been wishing to get back on the sewing machine.  August tends to knock the breath out of me and it did this year too.  I try to not put on clothes, let alone SEW any!  My yard is overgrown, the flower beds have more weeds than flowers.  Usually I get energized again in September, but the cooler weather is only now happening and I have 2 adult children moving families in with me this month, joining an adult daughter and her son already here.  I have not felt like pulling out yardage and patterns to spread around and cut.

I've decided maybe if I finally broke down and got a dedicated cutting table I'd start projects more readily.  Cutting is the part I hate because I have to make a place to get it done.  Someday I'd like a long and sturdy table with storage below like I've seen in so many studio photos, but since I'm giving up my spare bedrooms for a time, I've decided to copy someone's altered folding banquet table.  These plastic tables come in 30" x 90" and fold up for storage and have tubular metal legs.  If you cut some pvc pipe into equal pieces you can insert the feet of the table into the pipe and get the table to perfect cutting height, a luxury for my tall self! They aren't as wide as I'd really like but should be more than adequate for most projects where cutting is done on folded fabric anyway.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

I love when packages come!

Which may be fairly frequent these days, I have to admit.  This one came in less than 48 hours entirely across the country, Washington state to the Delaware shore.  I've actually been waiting more than a year for it though, because it had to be developed and machined and produced, etc, etc.

This is the brand new "Fine Line Clarity Ruler Foot" from Accents in Design and as of this writing isn't even up on their website yet.  This is the low shank and retails for $24. or about half of what it's cheapest competitor is charging.  Additionally, it's the only clear one that I know of, made out of some of that super tough poly-carb kind of plastic that lasts for years and years but allows you to get a clear view of where you are stitching.  It is designed for using rulers for free motion quilting on domestic machines, something only long arm machines could do until just the past couple of years.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about and think it might be interesting, I'd recommend looking at some videos on You tube. If you'd like some in-depth information about most of the many brands of rulers and feet as well as tips on how to do this kind of quilting, I'd send you over to Amy's blog.  I don't get any free stuff or money from the people at Accents, but I'm very happy with their stuff  and can't imagine liking any other products better.

I've used some kind of darning foot for free motion quilting and embroidery a couple of decades now.  When I first started playing I tried it with a hoop and no foot as well as using this strange cone shaped spring that sprung up and down to "hoop" the fabric.  I have had minor success with the hoop (and if you want to see some amazing stuff, look at  "machine thread painting" on You tube. The entire reason for the darning foot was to be able to move the fabric in any direction, sideways and diagonal included, without using a hoop.  I've read books by people who said it could be done without a foot, hoop, or any holding the fabric but if it weren't for (last link this post!)(and this guy is AMAZING!!!) P. Nosa I just wouldn't believe it.  For most of us, it is required to have enough tension held on the fabric by a hoop or a foot to allow the needle to pierce, pick up the bobbin thread, and come back up through the fabric without getting a snarly, ugly mess.  So, while I respect that it worked for some quilters to modify their darning foot to kind of skim rather than hop-

Presser foot down, needle down, the foot goes all the way to the needle plate and holds the fabric taut for stitch formation.  The spring covered bar has a lever sticking out, waiting for the needle screw to come back up when the needle rises...
and the needle rising will lift that lever up, causing the foot to lift, enabling the fabric to be moved in any direction in that fraction of time before the needle comes back down.  Feed dogs are lowered or covered for this operation. And the foot hops hops hops, requiring the operator to develop smooth  movements to get even stitch formation.

This ruler foot- no spring or lever. When foot is down it's a scant 1/8th inch from the bed and "skims" the quilt.  With feed dogs down, it allows for the "free motion" of fabric to be guided in any direction.  The smooth round sides allow it to butt against thick rulers, giving the quilter the ability to mix in smooth geometric designs with curvy free form without changing feet

My free motion improved dramatically the first time I used a darning foot and I was very leery of using a foot that didn't provide that taut hold for the stitch.  I also wear gloves enough at work nursing and REFUSE to wear them sewing, and I bought the supreme slider and it ate some Japan finish off two of my vintage machines so I don't want to use that.  I worried that a skimming, non hopping foot would not release the fabric as well in the movement/needle up phase as well as holding it down in the down phase. And that I'd have to put on the stinkin' gloves and saran wrap my machine beds or something.  I was just hatin' the idea of change.  Alas, the Accents folks went and made their foot non-hopping. So I bought two, in case I had to do some cutting and welding.

The first stitches were not a complete snarly mess, and there was some glide going on.  Not real pretty, but

with some upper tension adjustment and a little relaxation, the skipped stitches were resolved.  I couldn't play long, it's the middle of my work week and it took me an hour to find batteries for the camera (never did find the blasted charger and rechargables) and then I started loosing eye glasses and washers and feet and proceeded to dumping drinks of lemonade and coffee

Of course, some of this was happening...

All in all, I'm confident that the foot will be very useful in helping me keep a uniform distance in quilting lines with the ruler. The round shape is going to make movement smoother than the oval of my hopper.  I don't think all brands of rulers play nice with all kinds of feet- see how thick the ruler above is- that's why I could use that generic darning foot with it without it sliding on top. For a couple of years.  A GENERIC HOPING DARNING FOOT DID NOT COST ME EXPENSIVE REPAIR, because I have the previous confidence free motion quilting that I wasn't going to try and stitch through a ruler, and if somehow I did manage to shove that ruler under the foot and cause the needle to slam onto it- some shove indeed- I can repair my own timing on my 201, without needing any parts or tools I don't have.  If you have a $4000. machine, get the brand specific hunert dollar foot.  If you have a vintage singer, kenmore, etc, an all metal tank and know you can read how to do repairs, try one ruler with your hopping foot to see if you like it.  OK, moving on to -

As far as garment sewing- I should have known better than challenge myself with a marathon.  I have made progress, but kind of sewed backwards.  The shorts I wanted the most are the only ones not done because I still haven't drafted and cut out the pocket bags. I put in the invisible zipper and then jumped over to a tank for some reason, probably because it was all cut out and looking like a fast and easy.  I'm still new to the serger and it was nice sewing those slinky, thin jersey seams on it.  The seam binding bogged me down.  I ripped and sewed again, ripped again and starched, then tried paper under the fabric.  No go.  It is a wobbly, sad looking thing awaiting some stretch lace to come along and cover raw edges that I will cut. Honestly I should chunk it now, as I tried it on and that fabric loves every lump, bump, and bulge on me, yikes! It's pj's though, so it can stay a while.

I finished drawstring shorts and this racer back tank out of this more stable 100% cotton knit with ribbing used for edging.  It fits well and is sewn nicely enough.  I bullied my daughter into taking pics at the end of the day indoors and they are 100% not publishable.  Just wow.  I have a tripod, I'm going to have to set up some where to take photos of myself because she is not going to work out as a blog photographer.  She is fired. She wanted to be.

So I hope you can imagine this  cute, crisp cotton as a well sewn pair of drawstring with pocket jammie shorts. If you can't, they were only drawstring jammie shorts. I am itching to get on to some swimsuit sewing, last time I tried that was 1979! I also promised a bee-keeper lady at the farmer's market an apron sewn from bee fabric in trade for some honey, because I'm an idiot.  Oh, let me! 

I'm thinking I have 2 machines and a serger set up in my room- why can't I quilt and garment sew at the same time?

Saturday, June 25, 2016

similar to Lutterloh

but probably lower budget is this patterning system I found at a yard sale a couple years back, Perfect Pants Plus by Tom Johnston and Company.  As far back as I could Google I could find no mention of the company, Mr. Johnston, or the patterns. I wonder if the Lutterloh people went after them for copyright violations.   Both systems have paper-doll sized patterns and illustrations that you enlarge to your own very personal size by taking your measurements with a regular tape measure (PPP used metric).  After cutting out and taping together their special (and fairly imprecise!) measure, you pin the measure down and spin it around to mark landmarks from which to draw your pattern.  It seems feasable, but a little tricky.  I've had the thing for a couple years but until this week never pulled it out to try any designs.  I went looking for some fitted shorts to break up the monotony of all the baggy ones I'm going to make this year.  I thought these were cute:

There are no construction instructions, and it looks like no facings because I think these need some at the waist. I did look dubiously at that crotch curve.  Then I jumped in, risking only a piece of paper.

It was not a thing of beauty.  This looks different from the doll illustration.  The crotch curve is even more shallow, and the waist comes way more in, the hips are jutting out from the thighs.  Perhaps it would fit a life sized 60's era Barbie. So, instead of wasting more time trying to adapt this to me, I got out the sloper and slightly modified it.

They are both closely fitted with darts. I just straightened the curve down from the hips on the sloper and made them short length.  I'll probably use an invisible side zip. They are cut out and in a pile with 2 drawstring shorts and 2 tank tops.  I'm finding if I spend separate time cutting, I'm happier when I sew.

I'm not giving up completely on this pattern book though.  Besides the circa early 70's fashions for women, there is stuff for men, boys, girls, and babies.

The little kid stuff just tickles me pink, probably nostalgia for my own Mom-sewn carefree days before lycra and mortgage payments.

I've been spending more money online fabric shopping and will give some opinions along with some show and tell of shorts and tops next time.  I also decided bag this!! with the blank-ed pdf printing and purchased a pattern to be shipped, a vogue that doesn't come in my size but I wanted bad enough to commit to grading up.  I promise it isn't a bikini.  I haven't sufficiently recovered from the dose of full body-photographic reality I went through with the last post.  Also, in between trying to figure out how to make patterns work and with which fabrics, lawn mowing, window washing (5 out of 48, but it really is progress) I managed to slip in one day of this....

Lewes Beach Delaware, on the Bay so the waves don't knock the preschoolers around.  This one still wasn't too much about that salt life yet.  Give him a year.

Monday, June 13, 2016

garment sewing and body image

I've made a good start on sewing an updated wardrobe.  I've got 3 bottoms and two tops done.  I'm not amazed at the wonderfulness of any of it (well the pants above are pretty close to wonderful) but I am pleased with the fit of it so far.  Fit is where my biggest sewing issues have always been, at least when sewing for myself.

Unlike quilting and tinkering with vintage machines, I realize that there is a certain obligation to show the finished projects on a body.  A dressform can work, but I don't have one of those.  So I coerced my daughter to take some photos of me in the clothes in the back yard.  She has never liked taking photos of me (perhaps because of my wails with results) and I've never liked the shots any of my kids have taken of me.  They always somehow caught me looking like Ma.  When  I saw these, I was totally shocked at my size.  I have been cognizant of going up up and up in clothing sizes the past 5 years.  I just don't look in full length or rear view mirrors much and this reality was shocking.  I don't know what I'll do about it. It seems reasonable to try to exercise much more, eat better and less, and in the meantime it is obvious to me I need to get some body smoothing undergarments.  I'm kind of clueless about what styles might be flattering at this stage, when my always kind of straight and blocky shape is now bumpy-mountainous in my mind's eye.  During my early adulthood, I always thought I was fat, even with jutting pelvic bones and running 10-12 miles in the Carolina foothills.  Now I've been puffing around thinking I was slightly padded but not really, while cutting out size 24 pants and 26 tops.  250lbs.  I might be fat.  ANYWAY-

These shorts were my first project of the year, with my freaking out about not using my pants sloper for the crotch length.  There's some slight puckering in there, but not bad at all once I got the waistband on.  The pattern is a Vintage Simplicity 8526 that I had cut out but never sewn and I used for all three bottoms.

The fabric was some cheap twill that had been in my stash forever, a remnant from somewhere for cheap.  It wrinkles very easily and will not wear well.  I was very happy that once they were all together the shorts did not look as awful as I first anticipated.  Not only would I be ok going out in public with them, but they are some of the most comfortable sleep shorts I've ever had.  I've got some more planned with just that in mind.  Night shift moms are accustomed to having to rouse from bed to get into the car and going somewhere from time to time, this is much better than just jumping back into the crumpled scrubs.

The red stretch denim and the flowered jersey were both from Girl Charlee.  They took about 9 or 10 days to arrive from California after ordering online, seems like a long time to wait.  I'd express ship if I ever needed something from them urgently.  I was very pleased with the quality of both, price was fair but not cheap.  The lace segment was only a little bit of a pretty lace end of bolt I bought in NYC at Spandex World.  The top was my second blanc t from blank slate patterns. The pattern is generously offered for free if you join the facebook group or buy any other pattern.  I must have been cutting on serious sleep deprivation, because I cut out the front with no regard for the cut on fold line.  This effectively gave the top a good 3 extra inches in front, right through the neckline.  After I figured out why the neck was so huge and the top was so darn wide, I had to recut to fix, and there was not enough fabric to do an entire new front piece.  I was force to design a little blocking. It made it a little more on the dressy side.  Maybe I'll need that sometime.  Not in love with  it, but wearable.

And man, that shot makes me want a gastric sleeve and some running shoes AND spanks.  Maybe that's really not me???  Maybe that's really Stephie's eyes?  Maybe a better undergarment, and maybe not making the other error I'm getting ready to discuss would help this view.

The detail shot reveals adequate sewing skills, seams look good enough, top stitching not too shabby especially since I didn't use a twin needle.  If you look at that pocket curve though, it may look a bit short- because my waistband was about 3 inches shorter than the waist of this sucker and I didn't want to have to rip out said topstitching. I used the serger and I am feeling just a little apprehensive about taking off a full 5/8" seam allowance on a machine that won't give it all back if I have to rip it out. Instead of fixing it, I just folded the top over for the casing and said, forget about it!  Now I've barely got room to squeeze my hands in those openings, and I suspect that swayback effect may have been influenced by the waistband disappearing.  I may or may go back, rip out all the damn topstitching, and try to fix it now.  I would have to darn the buttonholes closed, but I could probably do that fairly inconspicuously and they would be covered by the drawstrings hanging down from the new waistband.  In any case, lesson REVIEWED here (no promises on lessons learned) is seamlines matter.

So, here is my favorite.  These trousers!  Very reminiscent of scrubs, my most favorite clothes in the world, but better!  The fabric was purchased at Mood in NYC, can you believe a linen/spandex blend????  It is quite stretchy with incredibly drape, but still retaining that fabulous summer nubby vibe of linen.  The waistband was for some reason a couple inches short again, but I took in 1/4" on each front/back inseam (1/4" x 4 = 1" reduction) and was able to ease the rest. I added 1 1/2" to the leg length and barely had enough for a 1/2" hem!  Next time give more for my 5'11" self. They are very high-waisted compared to what I normally wear, but very very comfy.

OK, this is definitely one of those "Ma" photos I was talking about.  The photographer is my 24 year old daughter who can smile into her phone lens on her work break at the chicken processing plant and look like a supermodel in love, but can't get a better shot of me than this???  I put on makeup and did my hair for these, never mind shooting up on me like you are 4 and I'm getting ready to aim a shoe at you!! How did she use the sun so effectively to make the highlights disappear and leave the flat looking lowlights like that?? Well, ha, she made my double chin disappear for a minute, so that's what she gets.  See what I mean about that drape in the linen though? The top was my first blanc t, the fabric from Joanne's (on sale now $8.49 ).  Nicole Miller is the "featured" designer for the store, and I have to admit, I love darn near every one of those fabrics in that collection.  It's not a great photo, but those are ostrich feathers and the color is fabulous, it's light and stretchy and comfortable.

Ahhhhhhhh, Moma loves ya babies.  If this darn laptop had photoshop installed, I'd show all of you how I look! In my mind.

A photo of me in 1982, when I ran PT in the German Alps with the US Army and still "knew I was fat". That bump is a gallon of some kind of liquor.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Why did I want a sloper?

I am grateful that if I skipped utilizing my pants sloper in making or adapting a pattern for the drawstring pants I've been thinking of, at least I decided to do a muslin of the pattern in shorts first. Before cutting into one of the lovely and not cheap fabrics I got in NYC last month.  I actually did pull my fitted sloper pattern and compared it to the fashion pattern, which is what made me decide to do shorts first.  The fashion pattern says it gives 5" of ease at the hipline, and I wanted to believe that instead of what my eyes saw with both patterns out.  Hrrmph, 5 inches, maybe in MAN INCHES!

What I ended up with, after taking out the basting and sewing with the most narrow seams I could to give myself a little more, ahem, ease, was what every ill fitting pair of fat granny looking shorts I've ever tried on felt and looked like.  Well, I guess I have tried on worse fitting ones.  These are not a great fit and do seem to accentuate every flaw.  They'll be okay for mowing the lawn, maybe painting, intense house cleaning.  I gave them good pockets.  I went back and compared fashion pattern to the sloper pattern again:

Yeah, no need to modify here.  I estimate I shorted myself 3/4 inches of crotch curve, and maybe 2 inches of protruding belly room.  I know there is exactly 1 1/4" crotch depth I didn't add.  But that camel toe and crotch smile are pretty friendly, y'know?

On the back, the fashion pattern actually has a longer curve and the rest of the width isn't too bad either.  It looks pretty ok in the garment.  I am missing that 1 1/4" of depth though, the back feels like I may have crack exposure when all gets done.  I haven't got the waist on yet.  It was only after all this that I dug out the actual sewn- sloper and tried it on, knowing I've put on 15 or 20 lbs since fitting it.  I know 20 lbs is supposed to be a dress size, sometimes I can squeek by until 30 lbs are added, but tightly.
Stained, wrinkled, sewn in huge green stitches with pen and pencil markings in various places, this is still one good looking pair of pants. They now need a belly bulge adjustment, but the lines are still level and perpendicular and they don't grin or wave a hoof. I'm thinking I should put the sloper pattern underneath some tracing paper and draw a slightly roomier hip/pelvic/belly area and modify the legs to be straighter, no taper, slap pockets on it and a drawstring waistband.  Draft my garment off the sloper looking at the lines of the fashion pattern, rather than modify the fashion pattern to the dimensions of the sloper.  I'd like to get to where in 9 out of 10 cases, I could at most look at a line drawing to modify design and just use the slopers again and again for almost everything.  Why jump though all those hoops of pattern adjustments again and again just to make a pant go skinny or stovepipe or belled or darted, pleated, different pockets?

It all sounds so plausible, from the woman who just sewed a grinning pair of shorts.  From ugly, low budget and already mystery stained twill from the stash, yay.  I guess I should do another shorts muslin before cutting into the very nice linen with a touch of spandex that waits all prewashed and lovely for some nice beachy summer trousers.

No, I am sorry to say, I never finished the bodice sloper.  I'm not going to attempt any fitted tops until I have.

I did sew a fairly nice knit shirt with some pretty peacock feather jersey that I feel good about wearing in public.  But it's a darn t-shirt and I'd feel a little ridiculous modeling it for pictures.  I'll have to work on that I guess if I'm going to keep on with a sewing blog, unless I swing over to quilting full time.  Quilts have been calling......

*UPDATE* I was a little hard on those shorts.  -After I put the waistband on they looked much, much better and the smile a any weird bunches all went away.  Still not amazingly flattering- but a great indicator of where I need to go for the full length pants version.  And the shorts still look better than 99% of what I try on in RTW.  AWFUL stuff when you get to 3x range.

Friday, April 29, 2016


I took a week off from work.  I finally made it to the NYC garment district, all by myself!

I didn't want to go with anyone who wasn't as interested as I in fabric, so I took a bus from Bergenfeld, NJ where my son lives.  The terminal is right there, no need to try out the subway.  I had a list organized by street, but it didn't take me long to abandon it.  There were just so many stores there beckoning to be concerned with a list.  I did make it to Mood and saw the dog.  I overheard 3 times while I was there salespeople telling customers to "check our website for that", so that was a little disappointing.  I do shop online from them. I ended up getting a nice linen spandex blend.  I don't know that I knew there was such a blend!

I traveled up by myself from Delaware this time, usually I go with my daughter and she drives.  She likes to make it in 3 hours.  I took 5 1/2.  Part of the reason was this beauty that I found on Craigslist and made a detour for 2 hours from my house:

Singer 503, the rocketeer

I know, I know, it's a sickness.  She was CLEAN though, with all of her cams, attachments, even the manual.  In a well preserved plastic case.  The motor sings.  The stitches are fine.  I considered leaving it with my son, but I just couldn't do it.  Pretty, pretty.

So, I got home (I stopped in the middle of that trip for a visit and a nap, it took even longer!) with piles of fabric and a new machine.  I had to start the bodice sloper,  And I DID.  I've measured for the thing twice previously, but last time was a year ago so I did that again.  Wrote them all down compared to the pattern's measurements.  This is butterick's sloper pattern and came with alternative darts for c and d cups.  I pin basted the paper and tried it on and although I am a solid c the b cup seemed to work fine, in paper anyway.  I did have to add extra at the front shoulder line.  I was surprised there too.  I would have expected needing adjustments to the back but for paper purposes it was definitely the front that needed the adaptation.

I also had to lift the armhole some.  I've got the darts marked and will sew the thing together probably tomorrow.  It has sleeves to be dealt with well.  I'll be interested to see how it comes out.  I was surprised when I did the pants sloper with the adjustments.  The parts of my body I think are out of proportion were not the parts that needed the changes.  With pants it was crotch depth. and it seems I may need to make that adjustment to every bottom I sew for the lower half of my body.  Too bad I didn't do slopers back in 1980.  I might have been much better dressed for a few decades.

It's been hard sticking to this sloper thing.  I've got piles of great fabric.  Also Melissa over at blank slate patterns released a free t shirt pattern in all sizes that takes about 1/2 hour to sew.  I keep seeing all kinds of people posting their versions and I have some cute knits.....

Today I set up the total gym and got on it.  Would be very cool if I could keep getting on it.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Darn near a creative flow

I've got going on lately.  Trying to post tonight from a sadly injured laptop in a very dark room with an occasionally irritable client.  The computer is really buggy.

So, I got the periwinkle quilt done, bound, washed and ready for a road trip to go see a grand baby.  I'm happy with it.  I had intended to take more photos and present in better light, so to speak, but I really have been BUSY!

Avoidance sewing still going strong.  I swore I'd never waste time and fabric on something that gets as trashed as potholders. Never say never!  I don't currently have a free arm, and it is surprisingly easy to put work on a small sphere like the binding at the handhole.  Go slower and work the fabric how it goes.

And, here we go. The "wearable muslin" rapidly degenerated into a wadder muslin. The motivation just dropped when I realized I'd never want to be seen in these. I lost the second zipper and decided to just forge ahead, think about that later. I got the one I did have successfully in as well as the pocket bag. I sat down for my first real seam on my serger and thought, man, if  you sewed the wrong pieces or sides together it would really be a pain to rip out the stitching. You can see one leg above stitched right side and the other stitched wrong side out. It was either that or have two right legs. It finished the project for me. I did try on and the fit was great, nice to know that pants sloper I made last year is functional for telling me crotch depth/length on any pair of pants, not just wovens.  Handy.

I never made the bodice sloper, next on my list (unless I get sidetracked by a damn kitchen rug sewed from clothesline and or t shirts). (Just kidding, I THINK!!)  I went on and used the least happy of my knit fabrics Fabric Mart randomly picked and sold me in a bundle on a Style Arc shirt.  Another wadder. :(  I'm not sure if the cowl collar was off grain at the back neck line or if it was a fitting issue, but I know it's very unlikely I'll take it apart and try again.  I love the style of the shirt, but I don't know that I could have that much fabric around my neck and chest until I'm on the other side of menopause.  Whew!  But it was more good experience as a refresher on some sewing techniques (Style Arc said "stretch" when I would have said "ease").  It was also a strong admonition to do the darn bodice sloper,  I had snug here and loose there. I don't want to have to do a muslin on every stinking garment.  Matter of fact, I don't want to have to buy too many patterns anymore.  I think if I learned how to keep a fitted sloper bodice and pant I could easily modify them to most styles without getting a pattern.  I noticed when I was a little kid that the patterns that came into our house to clothe Mom, Dad, and the 5 kids were frequently the same thing over and over.  A shift is a shift is a shift, and a tailored shirt is a shirt.  Just raise, lower, twist, curve, tighten or loosen and you've got the new thing.  

Maybe I'll take another look at the shirt tomorrow. Probably not since I'm working extra and extra long shifts these two weeks before vacation.  I'd better just try and sleep tomorrow!