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!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

creatively detoured

I have no idea what is growing here.  It just struck me strong enough I had to pull over and snap it.

I have finished all of the machine-sewing parts of the periwinkle quilt and have it beside me now to handstitch the binding.  I'll post photos when it is actually done.  Hopefully, this week. 

Sadly, progress is s.l.o.w. in the garment division.  I pin basted and tried on the athleisure pant project and hate the fabric. It shines and thus highlights every bulge.  Definitely pajama pants.  The fit looks right.  I haven't decided whether to skip the pockets and just serge them up, breaking in the new machine.  I'll check for old zippers tomorrow or Sunday or Monday......  Locate some old ribbing or decide to skip that part... Definitely saving the new zippers and ribbing for a "real wearable" pair, I'm sure I've got some better suited fabric in those two big cardboard boxes.

Anyway, this nurse weekend (known to y'all as Monday and Tuesday) I got sidetracked by machine embroidery, specifically cutwork.  I've a certain amount of experience mucking about with embroidery but every time I tried the cutwork part I failed miserably.  This time after watching several inspiring videos on YouTube, it just worked!

I did the flower and cut work on the right first, then I came back the next day to continue practice and did the one on the left.  My satin stitch is very clumsy, this is done on a straight stitch machine by rapidly shaking the work in a hoop, to free motion the zigzag.  Yeah, it can be done very beautifully with loads and loads and loads of practice. If I were doing a design for real, I would probably have to use a zigzag machine and cheat a little.  The fabric is a poly-blend mistake that tends to pucker up, if this were cotton or linen most of that puckering surrounding the stitching could be pressed out, I never bothered putting iron to this sample, or spraying out the marker.  I did come back the third day to play some more and then THIS happened:

Over and over and over and over.  I checked and re threaded a couple times.  Checked and reseated he needle, flat side correctly oriented.  Changed the needle. Played with upper tension.  Took off the entire needle plate and thoroughly cleaned everywhere in the bobbin area, oiled the bobbin race.  Finally, this machine's (my singer 201-2) bobbin case has never seemed quite right, the thread likes to jump out of the track from time to time.  Enough so that I had purchased a replacement bobbin assembly off eBay, but not yet switched it out.  So I did that and could see this one will probably work better.

Hopefully, tension will now remain like the top most sample and not require frequent fiddling.  So, I gave the satin stitch one more whirl.....

No dice. I put it up and went to sleep like I was supposed to.  Next try will be on the good ole Kenmore 90 model, using the machine's zig zag for the satin stitches.  I'd like to master the cutwork first on wovens, then take it to knits and see if I could use some more modern shapes on garments.  Possibly to leave open as cutwork or back as in reverse applique.  I love Alabama Chanin but hand working it.....yeah, but.  I'd like to try to master a machine technique first.

If you'd like to see an in depth tutorial of this technique by someone way better than me, here's a link.  A faster and very inspiring demo without any teaching aspect to it can be found here.