Sewing Space Update

In my last post I mentioned that my sewing space received an update. Previously I had carpeting because when we built this house carpeting or vinyl flooring were the only choices. I opted for the basic carpeting because I knew I would ultimately change the flooring. The new flooring is a nice plank laminate and I am very happy with it. With this change, I took the opportunity to do some major revision of storage space since everything had to be removed from the room.

My goal was to get as many items as possible into closed storage (hidden), or if not hidden (such as books), much more efficient and pleasing to view. I have a large space to work with; 2 adjoining rooms with a large opening between them. One room is 15X15, which houses the machines and pressing area. The second room is 11X13, which is the cutting area, desk and fabric storage. The smaller room also has a closet, which houses more fabric and a variety of stuff like interfacing, linings, other creative crafting items.

The initial furnishings were a mish-mash of re-purposed items from previous houses. I only kept a few of those items to put back into the room: The sewing machine tables, which are solid wood and came from a sewing machine table manufacturer many years ago. The desk, which was built by a closet company who has done a lot of work in my house. The fabric storage, which is 3 towers of 12 X 12 storage cubes with fabric bins. I did have a cutting table that was part of the sewing machine furniture set, but I wanted storage the table did not provide. I was able to sell it to a fellow ASG member.

Here is a very messy BEFORE view of the “cutting” room

Standing in the doorway between the rooms, here is an AFTER view of the “cutting” room. The table is the same size I had previously, but now it has drawers and shelving underneath, accessible from both sides. (My furry sewing buddy is photo-bombing at the bottom of the picture).

Fabric storage/cutting & planning

The cabinet on the left wall came from Pier1 (boo hoo that they are going out of business). Drawers hold scissors and some generic tools; the lower portion holds quilt and purse kits, along with a bin of table runner, wall hanging and purse patterns.

Left side under table – Fitting books, Burda and other magazine patterns, Indie patterns and a drawer filled with patterns.
Right side under table – Top drawers hold tools, bottom drawers hold patterns; shelves for scraps & muslin fabrics for pattern testing.
One of the pattern drawers on the right side of cutting table. Patterns are separated by brand, and in numerical order within that brand.

Pattern storage: I have tried a variety of methods. I previously stored patterns by type: Tops, Pants, Coordinates, Dresses and so on. And then by brand within each type. That became unwieldy for me. And maybe it was just because the way they were stored (in cardboard boxes) was unsightly and hard to dig through.

I do have information about all my envelope patterns in an app on my IPad and keep it up to date. So if I am searching for a particular number I can see if I have it; or I can search by Tops and see which patterns I have (not that this keeps me from buying duplicates…).

The wall with my window and desk. I covered the desk chair with a black and white polka dot home dec fabric. The back cover just slips on and the seat cover has a string like an ironing board cover has to hold it on. The shelves above the desk hold fashion books, binders with my fabric cards, separated by type (wool, silk, cotton, linen, etc). The tags on the fabric pins have numbers on them, and there is a card for every fabric in the notebooks with a swatch and bin number.

View of fabric storage, window and desk

Moving on to the “sewing/pressing” room.

A messy BEFORE picture of this room – there are no curtains up so that means it was taken shortly after we moved into this house.

Yikes! This is taken standing between the two windows – facing the right side of the room.

The AFTER picture below is taken from the doorway between the two rooms.

Machine tables are in a U-shape. My serger is on a different table. All of these tables are hooked together and can be configured in a couple of different ways. The pressing table at the back of this picture was built and installed by the closet guy. It has drawers below at the ends, and a center opening below. I have garment fabric scraps in a tall wicker basket in that opening.

The two shelving units on either side hold my project boxes (UFOs, garment and pattern matched up as a project, etc). I try to pull something from that shelf for every other project, and evaluate whether I want to make that item. Sometimes a fabric/pattern match no longer thrills me. So both might go out of project boxes and back to pattern and fabric storage separately. Or I may select a different pattern for that fabric – depends on what mood I am in. Like most of us, I have many more ideas that come up and push other ideas to the back.

Books and magazines

This is the same view as the messy picture above. Those wood bookshelves went to a new home via Habitat for Humanity, and many books went to the library. I have a bunch of quilting magazines and some books in the garage for our ASG chapter garage sale – hopefully next spring. These are the books and magazines I kept and they are organized by topic and off the floor. I do have to get on a stepstool to reach the top shelf, but that is not often.

The big white square is a flannel covered foam board – which is my design ‘wall’. It is sitting on a cool little picture shelf from IKEA. The dresser to the right in the above picture also came from IKEA. I wanted to have all of my machine embroidery thread, stabilizers, hoops, design cards in 1 place. They were spread around the room and even some stored in a separate room. I couldn’t even remember what I had, or where it was.

This view is the wall opposite the wall in the previous picture.

Sewing machines, sergers and storage

The table on the left holds my sergers. This table was part of the U of machines before, but I wanted the long table (which is just out of this picture to the right) as part of the U. I covered this chair in the same way as the chair at the desk (they are both identical – ugly blue fabric). The cabinets between the windows all came from IKEA. Yes, we had a lot of fun there, and even more fun putting it all together. In the two sets of drawers I have small notions – elastic, interfacing and stabilizer tapes, ribbon, snaps, serger thread – all the small stuff that I used to have in little bins on top of the old bookshelves. The middle cabinet has 3 shelves and holds a container of buttons (sorted by color), and bins of trims, stuff for jewelry making, crystals, felting supplies,etc. All bins are labeled.

Cabinet between windows
Drawer with stay tapes

If you made it to the end, thanks for sticking with me. I love my new space. This is actually the 5th house I’ve lived in, and I have been lucky to have some sort of dedicated space in each one. But this one is really the best! I have been playing in this space for about 4 months now and it is truly my happy place.

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.