Thursday, June 30, 2011


I FINALLY finished the Long-sleeved variation on the Cutting Line designs Town and Country Camp Shirt. Poor thing hung in the sewing room for WEEKS waiting for buttons. Three games of Mario Party with my kids and the buttons are finally on.

No photographers available, so I don't have a picture. Not sure when I'll get one; I realized that it is really just a pinch too small. The front doesn't look bad, but I've got all kinds of crazy pull/drag lines going on in the back. It's probably that way on the short sleeved version I made last year, too...I just hadn't noticed it because the front looks ok.

That's what happens when the middle age spread creeps up. Patterns that fit well a couple of years ago don't fit so good anymore.

Oh, well, it's done and in the closet and I may just go ahead and wear it w/the crazy drag lines anyway. Or I'll just wear it as a top layer over tank tops, so it'll be unbuttoned and the drag lines should not appear.

But at least that is off the WIP list!

I also realized that I did have a finished project last week -- the purple Madison Avenue dress. Shapewear will be a must, but even so it's a pretty good fit. But I've found that the front facing is rather difficult to keep rolled under at the front edge. I didn't have that problem with the first dress I made because I lined it and tacked the facing to the lining. I did understitch it as instructed, but it still wants to roll out. I suspect the stitching (either the understitching or the original dart stitching) stretched it slightly and now it doesn't want to behave.

I haven't had a chance to spray starch the gray cardigan...that's on the list for tomorrow.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Choir Wardrobe 6/26/11

Man, no posts in a week??!! At least the Choir Wardrobe series is guaranteeing at least one post every Sunday...

I fully intended to finish a couple of things up this week, but, well, My Sweet Baboo was out of town on a business trip, and, while sometimes I get extra sewing done when he's gone, this time I had less time to spend in the sewing room.

I did get my new gray Modal/Lycra jersey cut into another drape-collar Jalie cardigan, only to discover that my serger Does.NOT.Play.Nice with that fabric. I have some very ugly skipped stitches on the back seam. I restitched it w/a narrow conventional zig-zag, but I really don't want to do that on the front, so I pulled back and am considering my options. It's been a really long time since I had a fabric that the serger just didn't want to sew; I've kinda forgotten how I dealt with it. I think I'm going to try starching it stiff and see if that helps.

I really hope that works; I have three more pieces of this fabric to sew...

So, with no new projects completed, I repeated the purple bamboo/Lycra jersey Loes Hinse Sweater set last night, with Lee bootcut jeans and various pink/silver blingy accessories. Please forgive the frazzled appearance; MSB returned home last night, but delays resulted in a 10 PM pick up instead of an 8:45 PM pick up...and I didn't manage to get the photo before we left the house at 4:30 choir practice and Saturday service. So I'm not quite as fresh and stylin' as I would like in the photo. LOL

I had some meetings/make up classes to teach this morning, so I wasn't in choir...actually, I wasn't in a service at That doesn't happen *too* often, for which I am very glad. It's odd to totally miss what's going on in the sanctuary. Usually we attend Saturday night's service, then on Sunday I sing in the choir and do data entry during the rest of the services, but I have the service on the internet on my computer while I'm typing away in my office, so I've got an ear in on it. Couldn't do that today, but I got one of my middle school girls through a good bit of make up work. So I feel like I've accomplished something today... ;-)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Choir Wardrobe 6/19

I finished a bit of the sewing in the queue, but not as much as I wanted. I had enough fabric left from the purple bamboo knit that I was able to cut out a shell and cardi from Loes Hinse's sweater set...although I had to make elbow-length sleeves for the cardi.

So, for Saturday night, I wore the gray Jalie Jeans jacket, the just-finished Loes Hinse Sweater Set shell top, the improv scarf from last week, and the Lee bootcuts.

After church last night, I finished up the cardi, but I have to confess...I made a HORRID boo-boo on the cutting; won't go into details(extreme inexcusable carelessness, not an honest mistake), but the upshot was that I cut the back about 1 1/2" narrower than it should've been at the bottom edge, tapering up to size just under the armsceye. I cut a set of small godets from the scraps left (there wasn't much...I really had to scrimp to get the shell-and-cardi in the first place...evidenced by the elbow-length sleeves...), but haven't tried to put them in yet. I didn't add buttons to the cardi; just left it open. It ain't gonna button anyway...

Anyway, I wore the whole sweater set today, along with the knit Coldwater Creek boot cuts (love those jeans!!! LOVE THEM!!) and my ancient silver silk scarf.

I should finish the Madison Avenue dress tomorrow...all it needs is the turn-and-stitch on the armholes and the hem...still trying to decide if I want to open the side seams on the cardi and put those little godets in...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

...and the rest of the June acquisition...


The fabric that prompted the order is the gray woven on the right; it was listed as poly/lycra blend stretch charmeuse...and I have a wool/lycra blend fabric for which I am in search of a suitable lining. So I got 3 yards, thinking I could probably use some basic gray stretch charmeuse on a couple of other projects as well.

Ahem. This most definitely is NOT charmeuse, which should be very lightweight, highly drapeable satiny fabric. This is satiny, alright, but as you can see from the curve of the folds, it it HEAVY HEAVY HEAVY. Not at all suitable for lining...although it might make a killer sheath dress.

Sigh. I'll guess I'll figure out something.

The Trendy Knits were still on sale, so I got another chunk of orangey print for another knit dress for the Flute Player, and a yard of the gray/fuschia circles for another Simplicity 2603 top. Soon. ;-).

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Hazards of a Coupon...and a Mystery...

Confession: I ordered fabric last week from Fabric Mart. Again. Those trendy knits are awfully hard to resist...that box should arrive tomorrow. I'm not sure I'm crazy about this whole 'Fed Ex to USPS' thing; seems like it'd be more efficient to just Fed Ex it to me, instead of Fed Exing it to the Postal Service in Atlanta to then mail to me. Specially when you consider...

That, a day or two after ordering from Fabric Mart, I poked around on's site. I really wasn't shopping; I'd already bought fabric this month. But, I put some stuff in the cart anyway...then shook myself and closed the window.

A day or two later, I got an email from to the effect of 'We noticed you placed items in your shopping cart but haven't purchased them yet...don't miss those fabrics you's a 15% coupon code to use in the next week.'

Gulp. Four rayon/modal jerseys from arrived today. Via UPS, two days after I placed the order (Incidentally, I placed the FM order on 6/9...nope, not sure about this whole Smartpost thing)

Anyway. Pictures.

Just basic solid rayon/lycra knits. The white was a little towards gray; I think I'm gonna use it to make capri leggings for the Flute Player to wear under skirts and dresses.
The pink will be a quick top; not sure what pattern I'll use. Maybe the Simplicity 2603 again; maybe I'll break out of that pattern and do something else.
The gray is almost identical to the gray knit I saw on several Coldwater Creek knit cardigans. I don' t know if I'll get to it before we're done w/gray in choir or not, though. Those three knits were all on sale already; with the added coupon code they were less than $4/yd.

The blue is interesting. That was actually the fabric that prompted the order, as we're wearing Navy Blue again in August and I felt really short on Navy when we wore it in April. It was not marked down like the others, and it had a very interesting detail:

Those pleats run the length of the goods, although right about in the middle there's a spot where it looks like the fabric twisted a bit and the creases went whopper jawed. They appear to be permanently set, but I'll wash it and see.

If they are permanently set, I'm wondering why.

Is it a malfunction of the process somewhere that caused the fabric to crease up?

Is it something requested by a RTW manufacturer? So those pleats can be cut off and turned into ties or bindings or something?

Anyone know?

ETA after pre-washing...the fold lines went away in the wash. The mystery has evaporated; I suppose it was just some end processing error in winding the fabric on the bolt or some such thing...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Why sew?

I think this has been percolating around in the subconscious nooks and crannies of my mind for a while, and while skimming through one of the sewing boards tonight a thread titled 'Why do you sew?' caught my eye.

I was skimming, so I didn't dig into it, but I suddenly thought, 'So I am not at the mercy of the fashion industry.'

I may save some money, now that the initial investments are pretty much paid off, but that really isn't my main motivation.

I want to be able to sew a 20-year out of style blouse if I want to.

I want to be able to make a new garment in a color that suits me...whether or not Pantone likes it.

I want to be able to have clothes fit the way I want them to, not the way a bottom-line conscious off-shore garment manufacturer believes is good enough.

I want to be reasonably sure the buttons won't fall off the first time I wear the garment.

Basically, I want to dress myself...not be reliant on someone else to do it.

So, how 'bout you? Any one else sew primarily because you want to be your own fashion boss? ;)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Choir Wardrobe 06/12

So, once again, we're wearing purple, fuschia and silver/gray for choir this month. Saturday, I grabbed my fuschia jersey Simplicity 4076 scoop-neck t, and tossed on a purple/pink/silver sparkle/ lotsa other colors fringed scarf I found at Hancock's, of all places, several months ago. After I got home with it, I discovered it was twice as wide as I'd thought and was kinda aggravated at myself for not buying about three of them; I could've cut them in half, sewn them together lengthwise and added an elastic waist and had a very funky boho skirt. But, well, I didn't think about it at the opportune moment so it will just adorn my neck. ;) It's all teamed up with the Lee bootcut jeans.

Since I finished the gray jeans jacket, I thought I'd better wear it today. It's over a purple cotton/lycra jersey Vogue 8323 surplice top, which is FINE for wearing under jackets but just not secure enough for me to be completely at ease about wearing it solo. I wanted something to feminine up the tough denim, and after church last last night I happened to remember that I have some fuschia chiffon (which smells like polyester but behaves like silk) in the stash. It's 62" wide, so I just tore a 3/8 yard piece off the end and finished up the edges, then tied knots in the end and draped it around my collar. Looks kinda goofy in the picture, but it looked ok in the mirror.

I've actually got on NEW JEANS in the picture. I've hit a couple of sales at Coldwater Creek in the past month and picked up some new RTW items (I'm SURE you'll be seeing at least some of them in the very near future...). Anyway, this week's sale was a 50% off all merchandise, and I needed some good, DARK blue jeans. So, along with a blue linen jacket and a chiffony pink top, I grabbed a pair of CW's knit jeans, just to try 'em out. I may be ruined for regular jeans now...the clerk told me they were super comfortable, and she wasn't joking. We'll see how they hold up; if I ruin them with snags in a hurry I won't be as thrilled, but right now I'm loving them. I have a feeling they will be FREQUENTLY featured on the Choir wardrobe...

It's a little freeing to let myself buy some things instead of making them. And, given that the gray denim jacket cost 43 bucks and change to make, purchasing a well-fitting denim jacket for 40 or 50 dollars (US :-) ) doesn't seem like such a bad deal...when I can find it.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Gray Denim DONE!

Glory, Glory Hallelujah...

Pardon the crummy bathroom mirror self-portraiture; I literally sewed on the last button, threw the jacket on and snapped the pictures. I'll get better pictures in the Choir Wardrobe shots we'll take sometime this weekend, and I'll post those with the soon-to-come review of the pattern. Silver gray is a color this month, so this jacket may well get worn at least once for each of the next three weekends.

I'm not over-the-top happy with it, but it'll do. It looks homemade...I think MOSTLY because the fabric was really too thick/heavy for the pattern, and it was very nearly too thick/heavy for my sewing machine. I probably used my clapper more on this project than I'd used it in the past two years, and I feel like I've finished a wrestling match.

Anyway, I'm gonna get the review written, and work on some easy stuff for just a bit ;)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Whatever Happened to...

Several years ago, one of my favored fabric sources, Timmel Fabrics, the original SWAP competition sponsor, closed. I still have pieces in the stash from Timmel, and when I sorted the stash recently I thought about Timmel's owner, Julie Culshaw, who closed her fabric business to pursue other things in her life. I hadn't heard anything about her, and I wondered how she was doing.

Well, last night in perusing through Stitcher's Guild, I came across a post by Julie...and in that post was a link to her blog. She's apparently fairly active on SG; I just have been sporadic enough that I hadn't happened to see any of her posts until last night.

Now I'm smiling just a bit; it's good to see she's well.

Doncha just love the internet? (at least, sometimes, anyway? :))

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Choir Wardrobe 06/5

New Month, new colors...for June, our colors are fuschia, dark purple and silver/gray.

So, Saturday night I wore the hot-off-the-machines Kwik Sew 2948 mock T top, my Jalie Jalie 2566 gray jersey cardigan, and the Coldwater Creek bootcuts.


My eyes were too itchy for my contacts today for some reason...anyway, I've got the Lee bootcuts again with a puple jersey Jalie 965 tank top under a fuschia jersey Simplicity 4076 scoop-neck t.

Gonna try to get the denim jacket done for next weekend; it's gonna be a busy week... we'll see...

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Clipping the 'Wings'

I used to have a sleeveless mock-T top from Lands' End that I wore and wore and wore and was part of the choir wardrobe when fuschia was required. However, last year it obtained a stain that wouldn't come out and it had to be retired.

So I thought I'd replace it, since I had about a yard of fuschia cotton interlock left over from the PJ pants I'd made earlier in the year.

However, it had no Lycra content and, being an interlock knit, isn't as stretchy as the jerseys I've been sewing with. I couldn't count on the stretch of the fabric to let me fudge on fitting.

So, I pulled out my old Kwik Sew 2948 twinset pattern. I'd made various modifications to the mock-T on that pattern...snugging up the armhole, correcting the collar...but the last top I made from that pattern was snug, and that was 10 pounds ago. But I thought I could just add a bit of width and do a FBA and I'd be good.

So, I added a bit of width and did an FBA...and ended up with hugely gaping armholes:

What to do, what to do...

I had a fix that I'd used on a knit top years ago to pull in a gaping neckline; in all this time, it hasn't failed, so I thought I'd see if I could get it to work again.

First, thread up a darning needle with a goodly length of wooly nylon in the closest color match available:

Secure it well to one end of the gaping portion of the garment. Then, using the needle as a bodkin, carefully pull the wooly nylon through the turned-under portion of the edge finish to the opposite seam.

Let the thread relax, so that it's a 1:1 ratio, then pull extra out. (Since I had such bad gapping, I pulled about 2" more thread out). Again, secure it well w/several small backstitches, then knot it off, bury the end and clip.

The result isn't perfect, as you can see, but it's wearable now.
I'll do some more work on that pattern before I try it again.

Friday, June 03, 2011

...And I didn't get a picutre

I finished version 2 of the Madison Avenue dress for the Flute Player and got her to try it on. She's happy with it; I think it's still snug through the lower torso and hips. So if/when I make her another one, I'll bump up the size below the ribcage again.

To Recap: I originally cut an XXS, shortened 6" and grading out to an XS in the back at the hip line. This was Quite Snug. With a lining to help smooth things, it was Barely Wearable.

So, I added 3/8" to the side seams and tried again.

Better through the bust and upper back, but still snug on the bottom half.

Guess I should've started w/a XXS in the shoulders, and graded out to a S in the front and a M in the back.

What can I say? She's growing like nobody's business right now. What I measure today will no doubt be too small next month.

Still, she likes the dress pattern a lot, so I'm sure I'll make more. Sooner or later, I'll hit it dead on. ;-)

Unfortunately, I didn' think about getting a picture until she'd already changed out. Oh, well, it'll look better when she brushes her hair and adds a slip anyway...

So, after supper tonight the Actor and I sat down and he totally cleaned my clock in Mario Party 7: Neon Heights. Even the computer characters beat me...very sad....BUT there is a lot of time between turns on that board, so I did get the offending sleeve removed from my gray denim jacket. So I'll be back on that very shortly.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Sewing Gadgets vs. Sewing Tools.

When I was at Hancock's on Monday, virtually every one of the sales staff was aggressively hawking a gizmo that dispenses straight pins. I'd seen it in the sale flyer and snorted at it just a bit. But they were flying out of the store; I saw SEVERAL ladies with them in their carts or under their arms (It's on sale! Plus you get today's 10 percent discount! I love mine...I have two!).

It was all I could do not to laugh out loud when the sales pitches were thrown my way. Really? I mean, really?

Now, there are kinda oddball tools that I use and wooden clapper, my collar/point turner, my buttonhole chisel, Wonder Tape...but these gadgety things just make me shake my head.

I shook my head similarly when the bobbin winder gadgets came out and had no problem resisting the sales pitches on those, either, but a well-meaning soul in my family saw those and thought 'Lisa sews! I bet she'd LOVE one of those!' and gave me the Dritz model for Christmas a few years back, which I dutifully unboxed and tried out, hoping for the sake of the person who gave it to me that it turned out to be a wonderful little tool.

Alas, it was not so. Despite the package labeling, I had to pull the thread out of the machine, same as I do with the on-machine bobbin winder, as it didn't pull the thread through the machine (foot up...yes, the tension was released!) at all. Then the stand-alone model filled the bobbin at break neck speed, with 80% of the thread on the bottom half of the bobbin. It was Not Useable. Not only did it not work any better/easier than the bobbin winder on the machine, it didn't come at all close to working as well. Gadget.

Bless her heart. She tried.

Now, I know there are folks who love their little bobbin winders. But I'll be honest...I don't get it.

I like my little magnetic pin grabbers (I have 3). I know some folks don't, because of the contagion of magnetism, but I can pretty much toss pins in its direction and they'll land on it, or I can wave it over a handful I've dropped or pulled out on the ironing board and it grabs 'em. I don't have a computerized machine, so I don't have to worry about the magnet. They're pretty cheap, compared to the Automatic Pin Dispenser..and I got it on a half price notions sale. Plus, it only takes up about 9 square inches on my sewing table, unlike the pin dispenser, which looked roughly the size of a loaf of Arnold's Whole Wheat bread and would be totally In My Way.

So, really, I'm just hoping no one decides I need a monster pin spitter for Christmas this year.... ;-)