A Reboot

I recently changed the URL for this blog – it is a domain now! I know most bloggers are moving to Instagram and other platforms and away from blogs, but I have wanted to make my blog a little more than it was for some time. But like everything else new, it has been a journey and my ideas were sidetracked. This blog will still be mostly about sewing, but if I can figure out some of the technical aspects of what I want to do I would like to add some tutorials, resources for reference or interesting tips and techniques.

It has been over a year since I blogged and some life changes occurred during that time. I retired from full time work last August and we took a 2 1/2 week vacation to Europe later that month. The rest of 2019 was spent on some house fix-ups that were needed and ‘learning how to be retired’. I thought I would spend all my time sewing, but somehow that didn’t happen.

When I worked, I got in the habit of sewing in the evenings when I wasn’t totally and mentally exhausted from my work day. When not working I seemed to keep busy all day doing things, then still tried to sew at night. But I wasn’t accomplishing much, because I was exhausted from being busy all day. AAAGGGHHH! I kept feeling like I needed some sort of schedule so I could build sewing in during the day.

Then came holidays and the new year. We decided to ‘remodel’ our hobby rooms. We both wanted to get rid of carpeting and put down a new flooring. And I wanted to do some serious purging and reorganizing of the sewing space. Replacing flooring meant each room needed to be completely emptied. Since we had limited space to put the stuff being removed from the rooms, we did them one at a time. Hubby went first because I knew packing up my stuff would take longer.

The process of emptying room 1, new flooring installation and putting back room 1 took about 3 weeks in January. Emptying room 2 (which is actually 2 adjoining rooms), new flooring installation and contractor work for a new cutting table, bookshelves and ironing station took about 4 weeks. So we were now at mid-February. I started putting things back in my space, happily went off to the Mid-Atlantic Quiltshow for a couple of days, came home and the Covid-19 virus was in the US! AAAGGGHHHH!

Well, now I was home all the time, so lots of time to reorganize and put stuff away. But like many others, I just couldn’t sew. I spent all my time reading about the virus, feeling sad, angry, scared, helpless, frustrated, etc – all the emotions that most people who actually believed there was a virus were working through. I had this beautiful, organized space and didn’t feel like using it. Then came the evolution of MASKS!

So I jumped on that bandwagon pretty early, even though some medical folks I know thought it was a complete waste of time and the masks would be useless. I felt I had some purpose with all that was going on. And we now know that were were all learning about the virus and efficacy of masks too (and still are learning).

I made a couple of masks for us; then friends started asking for some; then friends and kids of friends starting asking for some…so now I had a production line of mask making going. (That fat quarter quilting stash I built up really came in handy!) But the mask making really got me back in the groove to sew.

A few of the completed masks

During the mask making, hubby asked me to make him some pajama cotton knit boxer shorts. He really didn’t like the purchased ones for various reasons. He rarely asks me to make him anything, so I couldn’t say no. I pulled out an old Butterick pattern, compared it to his purchased pair for sizing, and it looked like it would work. I found some cotton knit in the resource center, added in the changes he wanted and Voila! Sample pair got a thumbs up.

I didn’t have any other pieces of cotton knit I was willing to use for this project so I ordered 3 pieces of print cotton spandex knit from Fabric.com. Most of the print knits are more child-like. But I found a dog print, a fish print and a dragon print. He liked those just fine, so I whipped up 3 more pair for him. He was happy to get rid of the purchased boxers he had been sleeping in.

4 pairs of sleeping boxers

One trick I use is to stitch a small piece of ribbon into the back casing/waistband so that one can easily tell the back from the front in an elastic waist garment.

Ribbon stitched into the edge of the casing

In addition to some sewing, I have been spending ‘stay at home’ time watching sewing videos, cleaning out the DVR but watching some shows we recorded last season, flower gardening and reading. A few other garments have been completed so I will cover those in future posts.

Thanks for reading!

My Favorite Sewing Books

I had a wonderful plan to post something every week after that January post. Where has the year gone?

Let’s talk about books…sewing books….as resources. I know, I know – with the internet who needs books, right? Everything you could possibly want is at your fingertips with a search of a word or two. And I admit, I often succumb to the ease of the just going to the computer and searching when I need more information on some technique and I want it quickly.

I have a huge library of sewing-related books, and other written materials. And sometimes it is hard to find what I am looking for (I know this information is in one of these books – but which one?).

And even though I have the entire Singer Sewing Reference Library of books and think they are the best, there is always something new (new to me mostly – often it is not really a new book).

Our local ASG (American Sewing Guild) chapter had a yard sale a couple of weeks ago. Ladies could rent a table, and sell their sewing goodies. I looked around at all the wonderful things and came across a new-to-me sewing book from the 70’s. Now, everyone says the books from the 70’s are the best; the most informative and complete. And really, aren’t most of the techniques that give the best result the ones that you learned in the 70’s or were passed down from a grandmother, aunt or mother?

So, the book I picked up (and is now looking for space on my bookshelves) is the Golden Hands Complete Book of Dressmaking. The dust jacket was pretty beat up, so here is a picture off the web of the dustjacket for this book.

The title page

The publishing information is interesting. The greater part of the material published in this book was first published by Marshall Cavendish, LTD in “Golden Hands”. I think they were magazines with a variety of topics. Then, this book was simultaneously published in the United States and Canada in 1972. There was also a British edition from a different publisher. I have no recollection of ever seeing this book.

But, it has a lot of very cool information. It has drafting information for a skirt, blouse and pants base patterns, muslin and fitting information (including adjustments for all the things we adjust for today – rounded back, broad and narrow shoulders, diagnosing wrinkles indicating too tight, too loose, all the basic sewing techniques and variations for blocks.

There are a number of books I use on a regular basis. And I need to do some purging of the books I rarely use.

I am looking forward to reading this book using it for those times I need to look up sewing information.

Happy 2019! Let’s get more organized.

A new year has dawned! Resolutions are not normally my thing. But I would like to post more in 2019, so it is something I consciously need to work on.

One road to that is being organized. I usually think I am organized, but then I discover many things that were just not really organized. Such as making notes of my sewing; what pattern piece is this, what changes did I make to this tracing, and so on.

Always on the lookout for tools to aid in organization, I found one that I began to try last fall. It is called the Sewing and Design Planner, developed by Glenda Sparling of Sure Fit Designs. Glenda offers a wealth of information for those using her system to help with developing your own patterns that fit. She also offers the Sewing and Design planner in conjunction with the Sewing and Design Sew and Tell. Sewing & Design Sew and Tell.

I downloaded the 2018 document in the fall.  Unfortunately I didn’t have time to really use it for planning purposes or designing something from my SureFit blueprint.  But I did take advantage of the project tracking tool. Here is a photo of the pages in my Sewing Journal for the top previously blogged – the Pleated Back Flowy Tee.

P1020105

My goal, of course, is to do this for every project.  Then I have a permanent record of what I did that I can go back to if needed.  And when I blog the project, I can provide more information.  I have done this for a couple of other projects I made.  It is not overly time consuming and my hope is it will come in handy for a future similar project.  Because once I get a pattern perfected, I sure don’t want to start over.

 

 

 

 

Pleated Back Flowy Tee

In early September, one of our local sewing machine dealers had a two-day event with Pamela Leggett, creator of Pamela’s Patterns.

Day one, part one was an overview of her background (which was extremely interesting) and discussion of techniques to improve sewing skills.  Description:  Are you ready to make the perfect garment?  The difference between “just OK” and “fabulous” are often simple techniques in stitching, pressing and notions.  This class will show you many unique was to make your garments look professional.

Some of these tips are in her Craftsy class, Fashion Sewing and Serging Techniques.  She is an excellent instructor and I highly recommend the Craftsy class. (Craftsy classes are also available on bluprint.com, which is a streaming site with a monthly subscription fee).

Day one, part two was about upcycling oversized t-shirts, ill-fitting sweaters, polo shirts, etc and re-making them to fit.  Description from her website:  Do you have collections of those oversized T-shirts from vacations, school activities, concerts, etc? Thanks to Pamela’s Patterns, you can take those big T-shirts and turn them into fitted and stylish tops you’ll be proud to wear anywhere! The technique is simple and fast. In no time you could have a whole new wardrobe of cute tops.

Pamela has a pattern for the upcycling with instructions for the process.  She showed us a variety of logo t-shirts that she downsized to fit, along with some very cool sweaters and cardigans.  These garments came from discount or thrift stores, in large sizes so she could customize them.  Her advice was to look at these garments as fabric.  She has a pattern that is drafted specifically for the makeover process.

Tshirt Makeover patternAt the end of Day 1, Pamela measured everyone who was attending Day 2 (The Perfect T-shirt) so we could get started right away with pattern adjustments and cutting fabric.

Pamela also has a number of You-Tube videos for her patterns.

Day 2 was Pamela’s Perfect T-Shirt class.  Description:  A T-Shirt can be more than a comfy top you throw on to do housework. A nice-fitting T-shirt can be the most versatile top in your wardrobe. This selection from Pamela’s Patterns addresses all the fitting issues women face (rounded shoulders and back, full bust, hip room, etc.), and gives you a T-shirt you’ll be proud to wear anywhere! Make it casual, dressy, or anything in-between. 

Pamela also includes a darted front pattern piece (to be used for a C cup or higher), along with a non-darted front (A & B cup users).

Perfect T-Shirt

I have made this ‘T-Shirt’ a few times, so I wore one of them to the first day of class.  Based on the t-shirt I wore, Pamela had suggestions for alterations I needed to make to the pattern.  And since I had already made this I wanted to use a different pattern.  One of the good things about her pattern line is all the garments are for knits.  And the changes you make to one top or dress pattern, would be made to all the patterns.  Necklines and sleeves are also interchangeable, so if you have a few patterns, you can make a variety of garments pretty quickly.  This is, of course, unless you are like me and make everything more complicated than it needs to be.  (You will see that next).

I decided to make the “Pleated Back Flowy Tee”.

Pattern photo

We adjusted the pattern (reduced the shoulder length, and the width across the upper front and I used the darted front).  That was it!

Pamela spent time in the class evaluating everyone’s fabric to make sure it was suitable (and worth your time to make the top). “Suitable” fabric is good quality, has good recovery & drapes well.  The recovery property is key.  A few people brought unsuitable fabric, so were able to purchase fabric from her.

I chose an ITY knit I purchased from FabricMart fabrics about a year ago.  It has a striped effect, and I wanted the stripes vertical, so I needed to cut the pattern out on the cross-grain.  The colors are black, beige and purple.  IRL, the purple is darker – more like a burgundy-purple (I call that raisin) and the portion that looks white is really a beige.  But you can see the stripe effect in the photo.

P1020087

The front of the T-Shirt:

Front

And here is where it gets complicated.  I was placing the upper back pattern piece on the fabric when I realized I would need to MATCH STRIPES!  You see, there is a horizontal seam in the back that creates the “flowy back”.  And it is curved.

Line Drawing

Oh my…so I looked around the room and found someone who had black fabric.  She graciously gave me her leftover piece.  I decided to cut a strip for the back as a separation so stripes would not have to be matched.  Since the seam was curved, the piece I added needed to be curved.  I cut a piece of black that was 3 1/2 inches high and the length of the seam.  That allowed for seam allowances to sew the strip to the upper and lower back pieces and have the small separation.  I then adjusted the upper and lower back fabric pieces to accommodate the strip.   I also cut a strip of the black so I could use black to bind the neckline.

All those changes added enough time to my work that I did not finish the top in class.  My final changes were to remove 2 inches from the shirt length, and 3 inches from the sleeve length.  With my busy fabric print, you can’t see the pleat in the lower back, but it lays nicely. Pamela wore this top in a solid color sweater knit in class, and it looked nice in that fabric as well.

Back

Several people did finish their “Perfect T-Shirt” in class and all of them looked wonderful.  And they all fit very well too.  Everyone was very happy with their creations.

Throughout the day, Pamela demonstrated a variety of techniques mentioned in the pattern, to ensure everyone understood them and could try them.  The class was paced perfectly and Pamela is a patient instructor.

On to the next project – a woven blouse is in process.

 

Just “Another” Pinch

JAP Front

I completed another Just A Pinch vest. This one made from a lightweight cotton/linen blend fabric purchased at Hancock’s (Boo Hoo to the loss of Hancocks – we are all still in mourning).

No changes to this from the previous vest.  I had added a bust dart, along with center back seam for my round back adjustment.

JAP 1Indoor picture because it has been too hot and humid here to be posing outside.  I also made the t-shirt underneath.  I used V1363 again, and did an experiment.  I removed the bust and back shoulder darts.  Because the knit is so lightweight, I thought darts would be too noticeable.  I am happy with the result.

V1363
V1363

This fabric for this vest is a very neutral beige color and needed something to amp it up.  The t-shirt fabric is a rayon spandex I picked up at Joann on sale.  It is very soft and I like the print and soft colors.  The knit was easy to sew too – it doesn’t curl on the cut edges.
JAP stitchingClose-up of the top-stitching I did.  This is on the collar; I used a rayon embroidery thread and the built-in Sashiko stitch on my sewing machine.  It is very subtle, but since topstitching was needed, might as well let it stand out a little more than matching thread would.

 

Side view:

JAP side

Next post will be for another Cutting Line Designs pattern…stay tuned.