Monday, November 29, 2010

Little Pink Houses

Thank you for your compliments on my gorgeous Gorgeous fabric - I can't wait to cut into it and show you what it's going to be. There was some serious Frankenpatterning going on in the workroom last evening and . . . count 'em, two muslins.

I hate muslins, have I ever mentioned that? I know that at times they're necessary (way more often than I choose to take advantage of them), but I prefer muslins of the wearable variety so I get an extra piece of clothing out of the journey. Not this time.

In other news, the craft show sewing is FINISHED. Unless I decide to make something else, that is. I stopped at 60 pieces, and I'm okay with that number. If I get inspired to make more, or if - fingers crossed - something sells so well during the first week that I'm willing to do it again, that's a whole other thing.

Today was the last day of my long weekend, during which not enough sewing got done. But today, instead of working on my dress, I knocked out a gift for a co-worker whose wife is due fairly soon. It's the same BWOF pinafore dress I made recently for my friends' baby (the purple ladybug dress) except this one was made from a great shirt I found at the thrift store - minty green with little pink houses. I did all the topstitching in hot pink and used more of the endless stash of pink buttons I seem to have inherited from my non-pink-wearing relatives.

The whole thing, cut to final pressing, took a little over an hour. I think it's cute, but I'm almost over the clothes for small people thing. If I had an hour to sew, I could have knocked out another BWOF turtleneck, or a KS tshirt of my choice, or been well on the way to another pair of my favorite TNT pants.

Maybe tomorrow. Mario has a class tomorrow night and that means I have 3 hours of quality time with my new friend, who is performing just like my old friend.

An oddity in closing. I bought the shirt at the thrift store on Friday. They had a Black Friday sale. They had 6:00 a.m. doorbusters and 65% off all merchandise. The discount had dropped to 50% by 9:00 a.m. when all the sane people ventured out. They even had coffee and doughnuts for the early birds.

What does it say about the economy when the thrift store observes Black Friday???

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gorgeous Fabric

I saw this silk/cotton fabric on Gorgeous Fabrics when Ann was having a sale a few weeks ago. I loved it, put 2 yards of it in my shopping cart, and chickened out.

I didn't need it. I came home from work, thought about it, went back on, put 2 yards of it in my shopping cart again, and then smacked my virtual hand.

I didn't need it. I have plenty of fabric.

And then, of course, in the way that things work, an occasion came up that absolutely positively required a new dress - and of course this was the absolutely perfect fabric.

I did some mighty mental whining about why I couldn't have bought it when it was on sale, pulled up my big girl pants and went online to buy 2 yards of it anyway, only to find an email from Gorgeous Fabrics in my inbox, announcing a Thanksgiving sale, where the fabric would be on sale once again.

I put 2 yards in my shopping cart, clicked "buy" before I could again be overcome by stupidity and/or self control, and the fabric arrived at my office on Wednesday. It is, of course, gorgeous, and just what I wanted for Thanksgiving.

Details soon about the dress it will become - just as soon as I finish tweaking the pattern, which I thought was already tweaked. Silly me.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My Sewing Space

Happy Thanksgiving to all - I'm shortly to family dinner, but I wanted to note that Denise of the Blue Gardenia blog has posted my sewing space, for anyone who is curious about the messy world where all my projects come from.

And yes, I got what I wanted when I wanted it. The new machine is happily installed where the old machine was, and it's very happy to be among friends. No learning curve with buying the exact same machine, but I didn't realize how beat mine was - everything on the new one is still nice and firm, the foot pedal isn't mushy at all, and there are no dust bunnies in the interior.

Long weekend ahead, and much sewing planned. Happy Thanksgiving, and happy sewing, to all,

Monday, November 15, 2010

I want what I want

I spoke to Jack today. It wasn't good news.

He had given my Singer to another repairman who does "specialist" repairs, but I told him to pull the plug and bring it back when he picks up the loaner. I didn't want to spend more than the machine was worth - and it only cost me about $190 new. Sorry. I like what I like, but I'm not letting sentimentality rule my checking account.

So, say hello to . . . Singer 7426, winging its way to me for less than the price of the original. I want what I want when I want it. No nearby stores had anything comparable pricewise, featurewise, and which was compatible with all the bobbins and presser feet that I already had, and the online stores that did have anything were all saying 7-10 days delivery.

I checked Sewvacdirect. They had my exact model, 7426, factory reconditioned, and it'll be here on Friday. I love them.

There are better machines out there. I know. I have one. It also needs repairs. But this particular Singer (or at least its predecessor) turned itself inside out for me. And I'm loyal, when it doesn't cost me an arm and a leg.

Since this machine is at least partly intended for quilters, it comes with an extra long extension table which comes in handy for more than quilting. It sews leather, with no attitude. It has lots of decorative stitches, which I hardly ever use. It does really good one-step buttonholes, three varieties. And it will again.

Rest in peace, Singer 7426, it was nice knowing you. You gave good service, and I can only hope your successor does likewise.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

So far, so good

Mr. White has settled in and is sewing along quite nicely, but he has his limitations. Like my invisible zipper foot (snap on) doesn't fit. So then neither will any of my other (snap on) feet. And I could just swap out the entire shank from my other machine . . . if I had my other machine.

I spoke to Jack today, and the Singer is still in pieces all over his table. He told me he hopes I'm a better mother to my cats than my machines; don't wait until it gets sick to have it checked out.

Apparently, using the machine every day might tire it out and cause it to want a Florida vacation. Go figure.

Come home soon, babies.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


It's Mr. White, in the sewing room, with the pinking shears.

Meet my loaner machine, until the babies come home from the repair shop. He's a White 1523 "Blue Jeans Machine", he seems nice and sturdy and uncomplicated, and he's mine for another day or so. Apparently I did something complicated and unpleasant to the Singer.

Jack, my so charming repair man, suggested I might like a workhorse like this as my backup backup machine. I'm not acquainted enough yet to have an opinion.

Any of you out there have this machine, or a similar one, and want to give me a thumbs up (or down)?

Here it is

The BWOF 1/2008 #127 jacket on me, for those who need proof that I actually wear the stuff that I spend most of my free time sewing!

I wore it to work Monday, and I love it! I admit to spending a good part of my day petting the leather cuffs, and dropping things into my fully-functioning welt pockets.

I had a bad case of the unbearables, but it's beginning to wear off now.

Even the best case of unbearable can't last forever, not when you come cut out a bunch of projects for obligatory craft show sewing, and what does your ungrateful (tired?) wretch of a sewing machine do?

It wheezes, pulls briefly to the left like a balk supermarket shopping cart, and slows to a sludgy crawl. Grr. I open her up, pull out the bobbin case, blow a small cat worth of fluff and rubble fromthe inside, reassemble, try again, and about 3 inches later, the same thing happens.

Apparently I'm meant to take a break.

Whether I want one or not.

Ask me if I want a break.

I dare you.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

BWOF 1/08 #127 Jacket - Finished!

It's done! I just finished pressing and doing a happy dance around the workroom.

Here's the full patternreview, which has a few more details and mentions (again) the blood shed to bring this project to competion. Totally worth it.

Yesterday I spent a good while in the workroom, communing with the cats and the space heater. Having mentioned my big old drafty barn of a house before, have I mentioned that unless it's snowing, the heat doesn't come on until Thanksgiving? The gas bill in a bad month is nearly the size of the mortgage, and I really don't want to be reduced to eating the cats.

Once I got everything put together, and got the facing and lining sewn in, my main concern was how to deal with the underside of the bound buttonholes.

I looked through all my reference books, and while I understood their directions, none of them really applied to leather. So, now having a vague idea at what I was doing, I winged it. I marked the buttonhole on the wrong side by sticking pins along the opening (thereby leaving pinholes in the leather facing). After that, I cut very, very carefully along the pinhole line using my sharpest scissors.

This gave me a slit the length of the buttonhole, which I then carefully widened to the width of the buttonhole (once again cutting a rectangular hole into otherwise perfect fabric). It lined up, and from there I spread leather glue in between the facing and jacket, on the seam allowances of the buttonhole welts. I put 5 lb hand weights on them for a few hours until dry, and it worked.

After that was dealt with, I finished off the lining, attaching it at the sleeve hems and then finally at the jacket hem. I started to bag the lining at the hem as I would normally, but the red lining fabric I was using (some kind of poly satin from Joann's) started to shred really badly, so I changed course and sewed a strip of black rayon seam binding to the entire lining hem, and then hand-stitched the lining to the hem of the jacket. I don't mind the line of black at the bottom, especially not when the alternative might have been a frayed lining within a few wearings.

I also used fusible hair canvas along the hem line of the jacket, to give more body and sharpness to the edge.

I've got to say, this is one project I'm really glad to be finished with. Not because it was hard, or a lot of work, or even because of the pain and bandaids involved in the proces.

No, I'm glad it's done so I can look at it and see what I did, and be proud that I finally got over my mental block (refusal) to attempt welt pockets or bound buttonholes. This jacket may not be perfect, but it's way better than I would have expected for my first attempt, and I can finally, finally stop putting "attempt welt pockets" on my yearly list of sewing resolutions. It's been #1 now for the past 4 years, at least. It's time to find another goal.

There will definitely be photos of me wearing this, as it's already matched up with the rest of what it's being worn with to work tomorrow. This baby's not going to hang out in the closet waiting to be worn, she's getting her test drive first thing tomorrow morning.

Now back to my regularly scheduled craft show sewing, which I will do now with a much better attitude. Funny how accomplishing something will really improve your attitude.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Month End Review - October 2010

October was a good month.

By the numbers it might not have been my most productive, but I was happy with everything that came out of the workroom, and that doesn't always happen.

First off was the appliqued linen skirt, probably my favorite piece of the entire month, and one that will definitely make my year end list this year. I LOVE that skirt.

Vacation intervened in the sewing a little, but on the other hand, it did cause me to finally reline my navy blue pea coat I bought at the thrift store last year. Which would not have happened if I hadn't ripped the lining out the week before we left for Belgium, forcing me to do it.

Hey, whatever works, right?

I also knocked out yet another KS 3338 tshirt, this time in a solid (which hardly happens in my wardrobe), but with ruffles (which also hardly ever happen in my wardrobe. So that's a nice change.

I also finished 8 pieces for the craft show, less than I wanted, but I was getting to the point of wanting to put all the craft show stuff in a trash can and set it on fire, so I decided a break was in order. The break was cutting out and starting the plaid-and-leather jacket, which is near completion.

By the end of the weekend, the jacket will be done and reviewed, and I'll be back to craft show sewing again. Thankfully submissions are due by December 9th, so there's an end in sight.

Just think, last year I welcomed the craft show sewing because it gave me a focus while dealing with my aunt's drama; this year, since the dust has settled, I keep thinking of so many other things I'd rather be sewing.

Including - maybe - a few Christmas presents this year. Maybe. I'd still rather sew for me.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Getting over myself

Sometimes when you've heard something repeated for so long, it becomes true, whether or not it is. And the more times you repeat it, the more true it becomes. And the more stubborn you become about changing.

That's me with welt pockets. You've heard me moaning about my fear of welt pockets for as long as I've had this blog, but . . . NO MORE. It's over. I've done it, and now that I've done it, I'm going to do it again, and again, and again.

First and foremost, a HUGE thank you to Ann Steeves for the one and only welt pocket tutorial that has ever made sense. Kudos to Ann for unclogging my brain.

After a mostly-successful trial pocket before vacation, I decided that my next project had to feature the real thing. I went through the Burda stash, and picked out 1/2008 #127, a shawl-collar jacket with welt pockets. I had a black, gray and white plaid with red accent stripe from Metro Textiles that's been calling to me from stash, but I couldn't get excited about an entirely plaid jacket. I wanted a black collar, but not any black collar. I decided on leather.

My local thrift store had a pair of black leather pants, for $2.50. For a 26" waist. When I told the saleswoman I was taking them home to cut up, she said, "Good. Any woman with a waist that small who's wearing leather pants is trying too damn hard." Not sure about that, but that much leather for $2.50? I'll take it.

The pattern gave me a break in that the welt pockets (which BWOF called bound pockets) were inserted between the side front and side seams. But that's enough, since I still had to measure them out, mark them properly, sew the welts on and then - gasp! - slash my fabric. Then I taped my welts together with a new sewing room accessory, blue painter's tape, and added the pocket bags.

Then I got cocky. I decided that if the pockets worked, why not do bound buttonholes? My welts were semi-faux, but bound buttonholes would have to be done properly. I marked, used Ann's recommended silk organza turn-in method, added more tape and sewed the leather strips for the buttonholes. I think this would have been a lot easier in a less finicky fabric. The leather was a royal pain to get lined up, since I couldn't pin or baste, but I only had to unpick two out of the six, and the stitch holes are so small and near the seam that they barely show.

They aren't perfect bound buttonholes by any means, but for my first attempt, and in leather, and basically winging them by using the welt pocket instructions that stuck in my head instead of looking at any of my reference books, I'm pretty happy.

I've gotten the facing and lining attached now, and much pressing has gone into getting the leather flattened.

Next up: figuring out how exaclty to handle the bound buttonholes on the inside. I did spend some time with the reference books there, but again, since I can't hand-stitch the leather, I'll be doing it my way.

And it will work, because I know how to make welt pockets and bound buttonholes.

And if I say it over and over, I'll begin to believe it. And it will be difficult to make me ever think otherwise.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

There will be blood

Sometimes the sewing gods require a sacrifice for a project to come to fruition. I'm working on a jacket, BWOF 1/2008 #127. The cuffs, collar/facings, and random other bits to be shown off later, are leather.

The other night I was attaching the cuffs. I got the sleeve around the arm of the machine and was inching it along under the needle. The leather, of course, was sticking, and when I pushed it forward, the leather didn't move - but my thumb did. Under the needle.

It went straight through and out the other side, which caused the machine to jam, and gave me the chance to turn the wheel backward and get the needle out of my thumb. After checking to make sure it was in one piece, and not in me, I got Mario to open a couple of bandaids, put some antibiotic ointment on it, and went back downstairs to finish the sleeve, and then the other.

When you fall off your horse, you get right back on. When your sewing machine bites you, you have to go back and show it who's the boss.

And the jacket is worth it. More to come.