Sunday, September 27, 2015

Finishing Projects

Garments are a lot easier to finish, and I really enjoy a finished sewing project!
Palazzo pants by Patterns for Pirates

Peg Legs. Also P4P

Stride Athletic Tights by Greenstyle 

Hooded Raglan, P4P

Raglan, Peg Legs

Bethiuoa Raglan by Elle Puls and Brassie Joggers, Greenstyle

Mash-up Hooded Raglan, Free Spirit Tank, P4P

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Day of Solitude

Constantine is on a bike trip in Provence, enjoying beautiful weather, great food, and excellent company. It's also a vacation of sorts for me, since the nest is now truly empty. I spent the weekend with the kids, doing some lovely things, but Monday was all for me. I didn't even exercise, though probably should have. I went up to the sewing room with my breakfast and came down only for food! I finished my Sallie maxi dress, and like the pattern enough to do it again, but with better fabric choices.

My ironing board cover finally pushed me over the edge into action. It was too short, having shrunk with the copious steam and heat. I covered it with a fabric that I recently got from "fashionfabricclub" that is very pleasing to my eye and will likely be very durable. I used a linen from my stash, wrong side out, to make the drawstring casing, and "Bob's yer uncle," got that thing done in no time flat. Very satisfying to gaze upon, though not particularly pretty. My water has a lot of iron, and so there is an eventual rust look to the board, despite filtration. This informed my choice of cover fabric.

Then I did something I've been wanting to do for a while. I took out my embroidery module and stitched out a few designs. Lisa had asked me for a case for her beloved Nook, and I didn't get it done in time for her trip to Aruba, but here it is, and I love it. I would not have preferred to do the quilting stitches on the monogrammed flap, but I forgot to put the Velcro on the back of the flap before construction, so it was going to have stitching showing. Live and learn, maybe.

Then, there was the new embroidery design pack I bought because it was on sale and had at least 2 designs I love. Fairy Frost must be a "last year's model," but Christmas designs really should transcend trend. I stitched out this design and even got the courage to put gold thread in there. It worked without a hitch, though I did slow the stitch speed to about half for that part. I'm going to try the applique Santa for a pillow for Sophia if I get the time and nerve. The hardest part of embroidery is the preparation of the substrate, as the rest happens almost automatically. I have to remember that and prepare many at once. Walking out onto the front porch to spray the adhesive is the hardest part!

Flat Lock Seams for the Stride Athletic Tights

I have a new favorite leggings pattern, the Stride Athletic Tights by Greenstyle.

I like the styling on this, and thought I'd try to do the flat lock seams that my serger features. The seams are strong and the seam allowance is flattened into it. I used the web tutorial below  to learn the intricacies of this stitch, and learned the hard way that I need a really good tail of thread before and after each seam. I also learned that I have to tie the thread tail into a knot or the seam will unravel in a flash.

Unfortunately, after making a beautiful, strong, flat seam, I used the cutter on the serger in sewing the pieces together, which sliced that thread and the careful knot off, so the seams started unraveling as soon as I tried that puppy on. OK, lesson learned. I also tried a different way to make flat seams, which takes a little longer, but not when you consider how long it took me to make leggings that I won't trust. know that stretch stitch on your sewing machine that looks like a lighting bolt? I never liked using it because it's slow and I'm impatient, and why use that when I have a serger? Well, it's actually a really good (almost) straight looking stitch, and I suffered through it to make the seam between that side piece and the back piece.  I pressed the seam allowance to the side piece. Then, I used the cover stitch machine to go over the seam allowance, top-stitching on the right side of the garment to make a nice parallel stitch, holding the SA flat. If you don't have a cover stitch machine, a double needle will do this very nicely.

UPDATE, 10/7/15: I reverted back to simply serging that curved seam, and it worked fine but does leave a noticeable ridge of seam allowance on tight leggings. Next time, I'll either flatlock and then remove the blade for the construction part of the garment, or maybe cover stitch over the serged seam allowance, though I suspect that's going to make too much bulk. If I flatlock and then reinforce with some sort of strong stitch at the ends, I'll feel less worried that my seams will split at an inopportune time. As another modification, I think that the waistband construction on this pattern is a little more fussy than it needs to be. I seem to do fine with the Peg Leg waistband, and it's so much faster and easier! I might do this that way in the future.

The best thing about this pattern, besides its pretty lines and great fit? I needed less than a yard of fabric to make it, (mind you I'm only 5'1") and so I had enough left over to make another one with the alternate seaming technique. This is what a "wearable muslin" is all about!! Which brings me to the next thing I want to sewing garments, I have historically purchased a pattern, some fabric, and set to work making the garment out of the fabric. Seems logical, yes? Well, this is why I stopped sewing garments a few decades ago. By the time I was done with a garment, I often had a piece of clothing that wasn't great. Either the fit wasn't right, or the construction looked sloppy, or something made me regret it. If it's something that I would have tried on and rejected in a store, I was very frustrated to think I'd spent my time and money on it and was stuck with it.

Sewing clothing is a process. It takes at least one, sometimes many, trial runs to get a pattern just the way I want it. Then and only then, should I cut into the fabric I envisioned as the final destination. I have found many times that the wearable muslins made of less precious fabric end up being my favorites!

Here's the flat lock seam tutorial that was so helpful:

Sunday, September 13, 2015

A 14 Yard Weekend

I made 5 Vanessa Market Totes for carrying groceries. I really like this pattern by 

And that's not all...

Brassie Joggers by Greenstyle patterns. I love this pattern, and now that it's proven excellent on my $2/yard bargain fabric from Girl Charlee, it's time to use something much better.

Front and Back of my new raglan shirt pattern, from Elle Puls: Bethioua. Somebody please tell me how that's pronounced! I love this pattern. 

This is the Mississippi Avenue dress by Sew House Seven. It also went together really easily and is very comfortable.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Amish With a Twist II

INancy Rink designs some truly spectacular quilts, mostly with solid colors. I fell in love with this one on the Craftsy website, and bought the kit. I'll post my meager progress as I make it, but this is the final product as interpreted by one quilt artist:

So, as expected this project is a "slow and steady" affair. Here's progress: this block, today. 
These, a few weeks ago:


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Garments and KNITS!!!!

I've been sewing some garments, though too many to post in a timely fashion. There's been a rash of great Indie patterns published in the last few months and I've spent a lot of time downloading, printing, taping, tracing, cutting and ultimately, sewing. This is the Boundless Dress by Patterns for Pirates, (P4P) which has become a very reliable source of patterns for knit fabrics, which I have been buying like the next apocalypse is nigh.

Boundless in Art Gallery's Ink Outburst Atelier and some grey knit that was in my stash.

I didn't think I'd use this fabric when I received it, because the print was WAY bigger than I'd anticipated. I used it as a muslin for the Peg Leg pattern by Judy Hale, (P4P) and they turned out too fun to discard. The fabric was purchased on etsy at Nouvelle Fabrics.

This silly hoodie is the Sol Hoodie by Jamie Christina, and the fabric is a cotton jersey from Girl Charlee's knitfix. Recognize the trim? It's Heather Ross's linen fabric from a few years ago. Very precious, and perfect on this garment.

Ah, the Brazi by Stitched Upon a Time. This pattern makes me look better than I deserve, especially with sewn-in girlie parts, which I bought at in what seems like great bulk. (see post dated 5/17/15, when I expounded on the availability of $3 breasts, in pairs, so really, more crudely, "buck and a half boobs.") Speaking of breasts, I generally expect clothing to cover them, so this was my recent "fail" of a blouse, which it turns out was user failure because I allowed the neck bands to stretch so much that the neckline really wants badly to fall to my waistline, and we simply can't have that.

So I'm going to take another stab at this pattern, by Lee Lee from Wild Blumes Patterns, called the Romance Raglan. Stay tuned. I've got a plan.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Two Best Things I've Ever Made

This blog is all about what I'm making and what I've made, so I thought it bears mentioning that the two most fabulous, spectacular "things" coming from me are, by far, these two beautiful young ladies. I show them with friends because it takes a village, and these delightful friends are part of our village. I share credit with their Dad, our wonderful family, and the terrific adults and kids who have made them the fine young adults they are. My work may not be done, but I'm confident that we are on the right track.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Fabric Stash Organization *

* or, "How I cram maximum  fabric in my storage space."

I've been asked how I organize my knit fabric in neat piles, which make visualization easy and access reasonable. If you really want quick and efficient access to your fabrics, you should store each fabric vertically like books in a bookshelf. My shelves are not that adjustable, and I'd end up wasting some of my precious storage space, so I choose to store in piles. I've categorized my quilting fabrics roughly by color or collection, but my knits collection seems to be growing too fast so it's pretty random in there.
This is the product I bought on Amazon. Click here to buy boards It's meant for die-hard comic book collectors to display and store their precious comics in special acid-free baggies. Well, we collect something precious, too. It's FABRIC! The boards are acid free and if you want to store your fabric vertically, you will want to leave the boards in each piece of fabric for support. I often slide mine out after using it for folding the fabric, but for flimsy fabric, I will sometime choose to leave it in. I'm also too cheap to buy more, and I have more than 100 pieces of fabric. Trust me, a lot more.

Fold the fabric lengthwise with selvage edges together. Then fold again, but under-fold by a little bit, maybe 1/2", so that the gnarly selvages are hidden by the neatly folded edge. If your knit is very curly, under-fold by more, maybe 1 to 1-1/2," depending on how much curling there is.  In this picture, the selvage is seen on the left side, slightly inside the first fold. 
Now, lay two pieces of comic board, side by side but overlapping a lot, so that the edges hang out beyond the fabric by an inch or so. 

Roll up the fabric on these two boards, uncurling the curling edges as much as you can as you go. If it's really curly, you can roll a few times, and then reach your fingers into the edge to unroll the selvage. It's not perfect, but these are knits, and there's only so much you can make them behave. This knit I'm using is a cool max knit, so it's not curly. A good cotton lycra will curl a lot and you have to choose your battles with it. Let it curl a little so you can move on!

If you are going to take your comic boards out, do it now. If not, it's possible to push it in to make it less visible. I definitely take out at least one. I'm going to need all the boards I can get!

Now, stack the fabric you've rolled neatly, lining up the prettiest ends. Since fabric widths are variable, the back end isn't going to be so neatly lined up, but the side you will see should be as tidy as you can get it. Stack on your shelves as space-efficiently as you can. I leave a few inches free at the top of my piles because these built-in shelves aren't finished on their undersides, and bending down to get these babies out is a little awkward.

For woven fabrics, (I'm talking about quilting cotton, which is universally 42-44" wide,)

Again, fold the fabric with selvage edges together. Do not fold again at this point. Lay out the fabric with selvages on the left side, and use your favorite 6 or 6.5" by 24" ruler, or something close to these measurements.
Roll the fabric up on this ruler, fairly tightly, making sure you are keeping the edges straight. Use your hands to flatten out as you go.

Slide the ruler out carefully, and fold the fabric in half making a neat folded edge for display.

Stack in piles neatly. I do not use this method for more than 3 continuous yards. The last fold ends up distorting the fabric if the rolled fabric is too thick. I omit that last fold and keep large pieces of fabric  stacked separately in a deep cabinet. These are usually pieces meant for backings or whole bolts of solids meant for many quilt backgrounds. 

Now, go back to creating; all this tidying is not going to get that fabric sewn!