Saturday, September 26, 2015

Cleaning Out

For some time now, my sewing stash has bothered me. So much fabric accumulated without even trying. Fabrics that I couldn't resist while running my online business, and ends and more and more ends. The last couple of yards of a bolt that would only be sold at the price I paid for it, so it seemed that I should just use it myself.

Only it doesn't get used.

So I have been trying to clean out one box per week from the attic bedroom where there must be 20+ containers of fabric. Most of it is neatly folded and catalogued in binders, so that I can just flip through the binders and see what I have. But some never got put away and those are the boxes I am working on first.

To my delight, I discovered a gorgeous piece of shirting fabric, soft green with purple, and it is on the line to dry. I had even put it away with the Jalie shirt pattern, intending to use that pattern after I saw several versions made up by sewing guild members.

Cutting will be done today, I have trimmed my size out of the multi-size pattern. It is amazing how Jalie get all those sizes onto one sheet of paper, with twenty of more sizes nested in one outline.

And I did clear out one box, removing a pattern that was pinned to fabric I no longer like. The pattern has been saved though, and another one was tossed with the fabric put into a box for my granddaughter Hannah who has said she would like to make a quilt. I plan on bringing her a box of cotton scraps for practise, as she has not used a sewing machine before, and I found an old Singer at a yard sale that will be perfect for her. A machine from the 80's with all metal parts; I had it serviced last month and will bring it up to her next month when I go to visit. Another grandbaby is on the way!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

May/June sewing

The last month has seen quite a lot of things finished in my sewing room. Not terribly exciting stuff, but wearable and much-needed clothes for summer (if it ever gets here). 

The first Oakridge blouse could use a little tweaking. Since I have no hip curve, I don't need the shaping that this pattern has for the waist and hip area. In the second version, I eliminated that curve and cut the side seams straight. If I make another one, I will also make a petite adjustment in the armhole area, taking out 1/2" of length in the upper front and sleeve cap. This will have the effect of raising the neckline a bit, something that we shorter women need to do.
While we wouldn't be considered petite because we aren't tiny women, our height does cause problems and patterns are too long in all sorts of funny areas. I would always think of this if I was sewing for someone else, but when it comes to myself, I am just too anxious to get going on the sewing, and sometimes overlook small adjustments that make a big difference.

I think this is a great reason to sew a pattern at least twice. The first can be considered a wearable muslin and then you get it right the second time. Therefore best to save the fabric you really love for the second version.

These are two skirts from Kwik Sew 2788. The black one is a brushed cotton twill, the kind of fabric I love to live in. The beige one is made from a stretch twill that isn't soft like the black one. Not sure that I will like this one all that much, it is really stiff. Perhaps multiple washings will make it more wearable. 

I had a lot of cotton striped interlock and made one V-neck tee with black binding. Prior to that, I had spliced a pattern to colour block. Using the black on the shoulders area, and then carefully cutting the top of the sleeves so that they would all join together perfectly at the armscye. I was absolutely thrilled to see that it had worked and I got the proportion correct.

Both are Kwik Sew patterns, 2900 for the V-neck version and 2766 for the colour blocked tee.

I took the time to hand baste all seams on these tops, in order to get the stripes matching perfectly. So then how did I manage to cut the back of the second tee crooked and end up with an uneven hemline?  duh, how silly not to have counted the stripes as I lay the pattern out. Oh well, no one will notice it except for me, it only shows up at the back hem, I did manage to get the front hemline straight.

Another shot of the black/striped tee. I am really pleased with how this one turned out. 
Last night I attended our monthly sewing guild meeting. The June meeting is always a mini fashion show with members showing off their creations from the year. Rather than modeling the clothes, the members hang them up on display boards and then give a short summary of the patterns and fabrics they used. There are always some lovely garments to view.
One member Mary was wearing a gorgeous top from Vogue 8793 by Katherine Tilton. Another member had worn her version of this top at the May meeting and I am sure there will be a run on that pattern at the local fabric store.
Mary used a graphic print in lime green and yellow that had some black in it. She then made one collar (there are two in the red version above) in black and the second collar in the print. The added embellishment is a separated zipper sewn into the collar edge. Mary also made one sleeve in solid black and did the cuff in the print. Her top was smashing, as the British would say.
It certainly got me thinking of things to do with the various knits I have here. Another member had discovered the Natalie Chanin sewing world and, while on vacation in Hawaii, she had brought along some hand sewing to do. She made a skirt with some reverse applique on the hemline and then repeated the applique on her top, which she then embellished further with beading and sparkles.
For those who are intrigued by the Chanin sewn garments, but feel that a garment with allover applique is too much, this would be a good option.
Several members showed items they had sewn by hand and both talked about the enjoyment of hand sewing. There seems to be a reverting to the past in order to combat the fast pace of modern life. For those of us who find our relaxation in sewing, hand sewing provides even more of that contentment. Perhaps there will be more hand sewn appliques and beading coming in future garments of guild members. There certainly was a positive response to these items last night.
Here is a link to the guild's website.
I am sure that some photos of these garments shown last night will be up there sometime this week. Our webmaster is a very talented fellow Minh, who is a self-taught sewist. He drafts his own garments and always has something new to wear to the meetings. He does a great job with the website and brings great vitality to the guild.


Friday, May 8, 2015

Double Duty

Years ago, I read that you have to make a garment three times to work out the fitting issues. Some people are lucky and their patterns fit fairly well with little or no alterations. That used to be me when I first began sewing seriously in my early 20's. It was great to cut into a piece of fabric, sew it up, try it on for hemming and wear the new outfit the next day.

But time takes its toll and some of us pick up fitting problems with each decade. The bust-waist-proportion of the pattern doesn't resemble us even closely, so many alterations are in order. And one alteration affects another area, so there can be a multiple of alterations that are required.

With that in mind, I have been sewing a couple of patterns multiple times in the past few weeks.

First up is the Oakridge Blouse from Sewaholic Patterns. I really liked this pattern when Tasia first announced it and bought it right away. Then purchased three lengths of cotton shirting from Blackbird Fabrics. I was trying to be economical and skimped on the fabric, buying 1.5 metres of each, thinking that the 60" width would accommodate the pattern. Almost, but I had to cut short sleeves which is okay because we are actually getting warm weather now and short sleeves will be perfect for the next 4-5 months.

Making a pattern up more than once and doing it right away, rather than starting another project and then returning to the first pattern, really makes you concentrate on what changes you need to make to improve the fit. I worked out a number of small issues in the first version and then promptly made a second Oakridge with some fine cotton lawn from the stash.

Pictures will be coming in the next post. I don't have any just yet.

Then I decided that I needed a new spring skirt. There is no need to shop in my world, as I have hundreds of patterns, most of which haven't even been taken out of the envelopes. Out came Kwik Sew 2788, an out-of-print pattern, just the style of skirt I was looking for.

I had some black brushed cotton twill with lycra in just the right length to cut view B. A few adjustments were necessary after the first try-on, but I got it fitting the way I want and have just cut out a second version in beige cotton twill, my favourite summer fabric.
This pattern is a gem. I used to wear skirts mid-calf but that seems to be out of fashion these days. And I am not going to go the maxi route, I am way too short to carry that off. So knee-length it is for this summer, despite the varicose veins that have popped up. When did that happen? 
This pattern has a contour waistband, definitely the most comfortable waistband other than an elastic one. I don't know why I put up with straight waistbands for so many years. Once I discovered contour bands, I was a convert. They sit just below the waist and sit on the hips, without riding either up or down. I think their great fit is because they mimic the body shape, what a novel idea!
These white legs need some sun really quick in order not to look so sickly.
I feel quite satisfied with myself for using up three pieces of fabric from the stash. I didn't even need to buy thread or zippers as I had those in the stash as well. Although I am getting low on good interfacing and that may have to be ordered online. The local fabric store doesn't carry the quality of interfacing that I got used to when I ran my fabric business. Actually I used silk organza in the waistband of the Kwik Sew skirt as I didn't have anything else suitable to interface the band.
Lots of things lined up to sew for summer. Spring and summer sewing is my favourite as I get to sew the fabrics I love most, linens and linen-cotton blends. And there are lots of those in the stash, plus many gorgeous new ones at the fabric store.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Grand-daughters in dresses

Their mom sent me a picture of the two girls all ready for church. 

Hannah just turned 12 and Sarah will turn 3 next month.
Beautiful girls! 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Knitting Blues

Knitting needles have been busy.  This is Traveling Buds Cardigan, a free download from the Cascade Yarns website.  I have not knit all that much, but so far my favourite yarns come from Cascade. I prefer to knit with 100% wool. This was a superwash sport weight wool; it is a wee bit soft for my liking. The concern will be how this will wear.

After completing an Aran cardigan, I needed something simpler to knit while watching TV. This pattern was just the ticket. The majority was knit and purl with a pattern that became fairly easy to remember after a short while. 
I would like to become more proficient at seaming knits. When you are a garment sewer for the most part, seams are important. And my not-so-pretty seams in knits leave much to be desired.
I found a wonderful tutorial on Susan Crawford's blog.
Her knitting is lovely, and if I can learn to knit and sew knits like she does, I will be one happy camper. As they say, practise makes perfect. So another sweater has been cast on. I have sweaters that I haven't even worn, I seem to just like knitting them.
A sewing friend of mine once said that she sews for the love of sewing, she has many things she has never worn. Then she said that her husband fishes for the love of fishing and he is an advocate of catch-and-release. I guess I can count myself a knitter who casts off and releases.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Nesting Dresses

Sort of like those stacking dolls that you can get, the Russian ones that are painted so beautifully. This dress for Hannah and one in the matching fabric for her little sister Sarah will be mailed off this week. Just have to buy some buttons for the little dress. The little dress is Simplicity 5580, an out-of-print pattern.

Amazing how you can have hundreds of white buttons and there just aren't 7 the same that are nice enough for this little dress. I would love to get some nautical ones, but our fabric store has slim pickings when it comes to buttons, so I will just some nice very white ones to accentuate the piping that I put along the opening edges of the dress.

Their mom will take a photo and send it to me, I am sure.

My husband commented that I should make a third dress, smaller yet again, to complete the set. Perhaps a doll's dress should be added. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Simplicity 1382

I totally love this dress for my grand-daughter Hannah. The fabric is a soft cotton, white polka dots on a purplish navy background, found in the quilting section of our local Fabricville last year. Intended for a shirt-dress for myself, which never got made, I discovered the bag of fabric with thread and buttons in my sewing room. I'm glad it didn't get made into a dress for me. I can't wait to see this on Hannah. She is growing into such a beautiful young lady and I think she will enjoy wearing such a feminine dress.
You can't see the details because of the dark colour of the fabric, but the bodice is princess seamed and is stitched to an inset waistband. The skirt has gentle deep folds in front and back, a very grown-up look. I remember having a Vogue dress in the early 90's that was similar to this and I loved it. Almost a vintage feel to it.

The pattern is Simplicity 1382. I cut between size 10 and 12 as Hannah is about to turn 11 and she is a slender girl, perhaps a little on the petite side.

There is enough fabric left over to make a dress for her sister Sarah who is three. She is at that finicky age where she only wears certain things. Right now it is leggings and a skirt, pretty hard to get her into anything else. But perhaps if she can see that she could look like her big sister, she might be persuaded to wear a dress. We shall see; if not some other little girl will benefit from the dress, I am sure.

I will ask their mom to take photos when they get the dresses. Which should be in a week or so, as I have to sew the second and then mail them both to Ontario, close to a thousand miles away.