Friday, January 30, 2009

Tracing/grading/drafting/oh my aching back....

I'll say one thing...tracing/grading patterns is a great way to find out that the original pattern is off. I thought I'd made a mistake when the side seams and notches on the adjusted Butterick 3072 coat didn't match until I laid the original pattern pieces together and found that the boo-boo wasn't mine.

Maybe some day I'll remember to check things out before I trace stuff.

I remarked the notches; I think I can fudge the seam lengths (the front seam is shorter than the back seam a bit) as long as I know they're not going to match. But it is frustrating.

That had me check some other things, too, and I found that the shirt collar piece is uneven; if it's folded on the center back, the buttonholes don't match the center front on the other side. That's an easy fix; I'll just cut it twice w/the center back on the fold so the longer side is duplicated. But still.

And I haven't traced the vest yet.

So my plan has changed just a bit. I'm going to cut the lining only for the coat (following Ann's sage advice to make the lining first), and try that on Pastor N. just so I know it will work. Then we can cheerfully cut into the good fabric, once I know the alterations are ok.

It has been a real trick; I drafted facings, linings and pockets for this coat. Sure wish someone made patterns for real garments instead of just stage mock-ups...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

More Period Costumes: The Frontier Pastor

One of our pastors at church is reactivating in The Frontiersmen Camping Fellowship (I'm not even going to try to explain it; click on the link if you're curious!). He's decided that he wants his character to be a pastor from that time period. He's procured a goodly amount of black linen (he'll be wearing it at the same annual camp out for which I made the pirate costumes, so comfort is still a concern), and I've gone to my accumulation of period costumes and found that Butterick 3072 is pretty close to what he has in mind (we watched chapter 11 from The Patriot several times to see the details on the pastor's attire...). However, he wants 2 outfits by the end of February, so I'm making the fancy one and he's making the regular one. So, I schlepped my cutting and tracing stuff to church so we could work on cutting it and discovered that Dear Pastor Person is a size 52, while the Butterick pattern only goes up to a 48. So instead of a quick trace off, I'm actually grading up a couple of sizes.

Um, I didn't make it to cutting today....maybe tomorrow... ;)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sharin' the Kreativ Love

Thanks to Diana of Sew Passionista for giving me the 'Kreativ Blogger' award! I admit it, it makes me smile when someone links's nice to know other folks stop by and follow my rather, um, random narrative.

Now, I get to forward the award to seven folks. I don't know if I can find seven folks that haven't already received the award, but I'll give it a shot.

Firstly, I want to nominate Charity of Vintage Threads. If you haven't followed the story of her Hundred Skirt project, you've missed something pretty amazing. With a little help from other sewing bloggers, Charity sent 103 handmade skirts, with matching purchased T's, to an orphanage in Guatamala. If that doesn't qualify for a 'Kreativ Blogger' award, something's wrong in the blogsphere! ;)

Next is Alexandra, whom I have actually met at the Atlanta Sewing Expo, of Studio Alexandra. She uses fabulous fabrics to create beautiful and meticulous garments...and she knits, too!

I also want to nominate Debbie Cook, of Stitches and Seams. Debbie is a fitting master who freely shares what she's learned on some very excellent tutorials.

Amy at Shirts and Skirts Galore has been creating lots of things...maternity clothes and knitted baby washcloths are amongst her latest projects.

Josie at Josie Loves To Sew just celebrated her first year blogiversary; that's something to celebrate!

Claire at 1 Seam at a Time has been organizing and cataloging; that deserves a pat on the back, too! I really, really need to take a few days and do the same thing....

Julia R. is having fun being positively creative at Julia's Sewing Blog

Browsing around the blogs that have already been awarded the button and were nominating others, I found a fair number of blogs I haven't had a chance to read yet. The sewing blogging community appears to be growing exponentially; that's cool.... ;)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fabric to Dye For? (groan)

I've only purchased a couple of pieces of fabric so far this year; a purchase from one of my favorite internet vendors. The fabrics are fabulous, but one is not quite the color I envisioned (one person's 'off white' is someone else's 'beige'...sure wish I had one of those Pantone color guides!). However, she did say that it was dyeable, so I'm hoping to turn a color that doesn't suit me well into one I love.

However, my dyeing experience has only been with Rit dyes and it has been very discouraging. The dye took unevenly...the fabric had creases as it soaked and those creases became much darker (or much lighter) than the rest of the fabric.

I thought I did it right, but as I couldn't stand there and agitate the fabric to keep the kinks out of it I'm not sure how I could avoid it.

Anyway, I'm looking for advice on how to dye a gorgeous piece of rayon knit that just isn't my color! Any experts out there willing to share? :D

Monday, January 26, 2009

Finally Something Sewn...

The first real project of '09...Loes Hinse's Milano Jacket. I was drawn to the design by its simplicity, but also by the fact that it has princess seams and two-piece sleeves. Traced the pattern off *months* ago, and finally decided to give it a go.

I had some poly/lycra moleskin in a gorgeous deep royal blue that I bought from Gigi Louis ages ago and decided to give it a go; I thought the satiny back of the moleskin would make it a natural for an unlined jacket. HOWEVER, I did not take into consideration the extreme drapiness...or, as it looked in the jacket, floppiness of the fabric. Moleskin just didn't have enough body to support itself; I think if I'd added some lightweight fusible interfacing to the front and the facing I'd've been a little more pleased.

But, when it was all finished, it looked better than I expected. The only *real* problem is that I forgot to shorten the sleeves before I cut them out. I marked the fold lines, but since I traced the pattern months before I actually made it, I forgot that those markings still needed to be folded out; I thought I'd shortened the sleeve at those lines when I traced it. (Note to self: Make notes to self about these things...). However, with the jacket open and the sleeves pushed up, the jacket has a casual chic look that I think I really like. Plus, the lycra in the sleeves helps hold them up.

Maybe it's a new look for me ;)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Choir Sundays 09 #4

This Month's Colors: Royal Blue and Black

Wow, the year is only 4 weeks old and already we're into repeats....

Seriously, this top caused me enough anguish when I was making it that I want to squeeze all the wearing out of it I can! It still garners compliments, despite the fact that I made every boo-boo imaginable except cutting into it w/the serger knives. Fortunately, someone would have to be really, really well acquainted with the original pattern to know it wasn't done right ;)
Anyway, the top is Sewing Workshop's Chopin Blouse made from silk duppioni from Textile Fabrics '07 Big Summer Sale, and it has me coveting more silk duppioni shirts, just because it's heavenly to wear. ;)

The pants are the latest iteration of La Fred Daphne Pants, made from a scrumptious cotton/lycra sateen from Gorgeous Fabrics. Not a perfect fit yet, but the closest thing I have to skinny leg pants.

I've got one completed project to show for my week off the 'net; hopefully I'll get the review and some photos posted tomorrow!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Choir Sundays '09 #3

Sigh. This looked so cute in the mirror...but the photo looks like my grandmother. I think I need to speak to my photographer about things like flipped up collars and camera angles again....
Anyway, this month's colors are royal blue and black. I'm dressed for winter like an ad for the Wool Producers...the blue sweater is merino wool that is probably 10 years old and had to have a moth hole in pretty close to the center front darned before I could wear it.
The black sweater coat is brand of the few non-jeans clothing purchases I've made in I don't know how long. It's a wool blend from Lands' End, and, to *prove* that it really looks cuter in real life than in the photo, The Princess (who's 23 and quite particular about such things) commented that it was cute and wanted to know where I got it. Stupid camera.

But the pants are my faithful black wool gabardine Loes Hinse Oxford Pants.

And, it's time once again for the quarterly blogging break, so I'm going to be pretty much off the 'net this week. Got some Household Duties to get caught up (once again, the household budget has fallen waaayyy fault entirely; can't blame it on anything this time...). So, I'll see you for next week's Choir post!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Whaddya do w/ BWOF?

One of the reasons I hesitated so long about subscribing to Burda World of Fashion was the whole storage on earth can you keep track of the cool patterns and the tracings and the magazines and...

I hit upon a solution that should work for me for at least the rest of this year, and I've told myself that, unless I sew a *lot* more BWOF patterns this year than I did last year (um, that would be 1 pattern sewn last year...but it gets lots of compliments...), I can't reup for year three. So this might be sufficient for a while.

Anyway, My Sweet Baboo has been bringing home some boxes for miscellaneous storage; I believe they're the boxes for the copier/printer paper they use at work. Turns out those boxes are just right for filing BWOF magazines. (I'm not going to worry about a lid; if I put a lid on it, I'll forget about them...).

I pulled all the pattern inserts from the magazines, put the patterns (and the rare tracing of patterns) in Zip-Lok bags, one for each issue, labeled the bag w/the issue date, and filed the bags in order behind the magazines.

Unless I become a lifelong subscriber, this should work!

How do other folks handle this?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Busting Stashes

Marji wrote an interesting post on her blog about using stash that raises some really, really good points about why people accumulate stashed fabric (or yarn), and then feel guilty and believe it needs to be used.

That made me reflect on my own 'stash busting' efforts.

Do I sew just to use up fabric?

I don't *think* I do...but I do, at times, try to get the stash down. For several reasons.

Mostly, I 'de-stash' because I've got more fabric than I have storage space and I'd rather make room for garments in the closet. I probably shouldn't have purchased so much...but, we all have weak moments in some area. Mine is that I look at a lovely piece of fabric, think, "Oh, that would make such a nice ________!" and get it before I really think if my wardrobe needs a nice __________ ...or if I've got actual time to make it.

Consequently, the stash is full of planned projects; some of which are now out of date and not very feasible. Styles change, wardrobe plans change...anyway, it's there. And yes, I loved it when I got it. Mostly, I still love it (there are a few 'what was I thinking?' fabrics that will be muslins eventually).

But the old must go for there to be room for new. There are two ways of dealing with it. Either I don't buy anything new (and I have really restricted my purchases of late to just real wardrobe needs), or I have to sew/give away what's up there. Some I will give away, but mostly it's still fabric I really, really like and I want to use it to it's best potential.

And there's the rub. For me, stash busting isn't about using up a bunch of fabric, it's about getting over the fear that I'll put a piece of fabric to a less-than-stellar use. Sometimes, in order to get over the fear of cutting, I just have to make myself pull something out and cut into it.

Now, when I'm in extreme 'stash -busting' mode, I will tend towards the projects that use the greatest yardage. Yes, it's a wardrobe need; the yardage involved just makes it the one chosen at that time. It was stash busting that got me to make the six-yard skirt in '07 (a long, flowing skirt made of bias tiers) It used a *lot* of fabric, but because it was sort of tedious it had been pushed on the back burner for a long time. It was when I realized I could use a large amount of lovely cotton fabric that I had originally purchased to make us all 'family shirts' -- only to find that my kids would rather be dressed in rags than dressed alike -- that the lightbulb went off. Now I have the 'wear in the car on long summer trips' skirt I had been wanting for a long time, and the yardage I used in that skirt was a great help towards making parity that year.

Stash is a different thing for everyone. As my stash eventually has higher quality fabric, I expect it to get somewhat smaller. I do not expect it to ever go away. Ideally, stash would just sort of rotate...some in, some out every year. Wonderful fabrics at incredible prices are good to go in; a new inspiration for a piece that was purchased for another purpose brings that yardage out of the stash with lots of positive expectation. It's fun to add to the feels productive to sew something from it.

It's just that when it gets overwhelming that it becomes something negative, and that's a different point for everyone. So I hope no one would take my efforts -- or anyone else's, for that matter -- to control, track or use personal stash as a judgment of how everyone should manage their fabric purchases. It's just what works for me. Everyone else will be different. ;)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Not this Year

I received the brochure for the 2009 Sewing Expo in Atlanta yesterday and it grieves me somewhat to realize that it's just not going to work for me to go this year, as much as I want to.

My Sweet Baboo has an opportunity to do something really cool (it would take to long to explain; it's a metal working class in it's simplest term) out of state just a couple of weeks after the Expo and I'm not sure the budget could take two travel hits in such close succession.

But we've got some emergency repair work to do on the house. Some things that were done before we purchased the house were not done correctly and now must be corrected. The estimates coming in are, well, discouraging.

So, in the interest of being fiscally responsible, I can't make the Atlanta trip.

Y'all have fun, and enjoy La Madeleine's for me...hopefully, I'll see you next year!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


That's what this month has been so far! And I thought things would settle down for a wee bit after the holidays...but, no.

I have a couple of things to blog about...but I haven't had time to sit down and compose my thoughts!

Maybe tomorrow. I hope. ;)

Monday, January 12, 2009


One of our pastors at church needs a costume for a para-church ministry by the end of February. He needs to be a 'pioneer parson', for want of a better description. We were supposed to meet and talk about it today, but we didn't manage to catch each other. Hopefully we'll talk about it later this week. He'll need a couple of jackets and some knee-breeches; he thinks he has a suitable shirt already. He's going to provide the fabric and perhaps even make part of the gear himself.

These folks pour a lot into ministry with kids; my youngest two are part of the children's church ministry team and work along with them; they've learned a *lot* and I'm happy to get the chance to bless the pastors. Just as long as I can squeeze it in before Easter program (there have been changes made to that plan...I should find out next week if we're going to do a Big Production or not) costuming and High School Musical costuming begins...which will be soon.

Meantime, I was surprised today to be rather obliquely asked if I were possibly interested in a paid costuming position with a local organization. My offhand reaction was 'No way would I do that!' The type of costuming is not really my expertise, and I know there are some *very* demanding time periods associated with the job, some which would conflict with other events I would want to be involved in (i.e., the church Dickens Christmas production, when/if we do that again). BUT -- it could be a very educational opportunity, and any income at the moment would be welcome. So I didn't answer right away, but agreed to consider it/pray over it at least a bit.

In all honesty, it was a very low-key inquiry, and someone else who is already involved with and volunteering with the organization would be more suited and may already be in consideration, but it was an attention getter.

Truth be told, I think I would need to volunteer with the group for a while before I could even begin to consider being a chief at all. And there is no room on my plate for any more volunteer anything.

But...we'll see...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Choir Sundays 09 #2

This Month's Choir Colors:Royal Blue and Black
I've got about 30 seconds to snap a photo... basically in the dark... as the choir is coming onto the platform just before the service starts. Not as good as I would like!

I love royal blue, though...wearing it this month kinda makes up for the yellow-orange-tan combos we wore that don't do a *thing* for me. I've got on Silhouette Patterns Robin's Jacket, made from the blue wool flannel that the moths chewed on. I cut it out a year ago, but didn't finish in time to wear it last January, so I'm glad the blue came back around this year. Under the jacket is another Silhouette design, Pam's Blouse, made from poly microfiber charmeuse. It's a good underlayer for the jacket, since the jacket is not lined.

And I'm wearing my white-and-black rayon/poly/lycra modified Oxford Pants. These pants are continuing to shrink just a little; I don't think I can let the hem out any more. I'll be sorry if they ever really shrink to 'too short'...

Friday, January 09, 2009

The Sewing Backstory

Lindsay asked What's Your Sewing Backstory? yesterday, so I thought that was worth a post...'specially since I'm having problems getting to my cutting board this week. ;)

She's got a poll up, too, on which we can indicate who our sewing teachers/influences were. I checked two...'Mother' and 'Self-Taught'. Mom got me started by explaining what I had to do to make an apron, a plaid skirt and a dress, in that order, for my first three years of 4-H. After that, I could read a pattern guide and I was pretty much off on my own. I made the dress for the first day of 8th grade and sewed a good deal for my wardrobe after that. I could buy poly crepe double knit really cheap at the local Ben Franklin (back in that day it was more like a Wal-Mart than a Hobby Lobby) and sew and sew.

When I was in 10th grade I caught the 'wardrobe' notion, and, with a goodly length of blue crepe poly doubleknit and a coordinating blue-and-white poly doubleknit, I made what was very nearly a SWAP wardrobe:

1 Blue crepe jacket (um, with short, puffy sleeves and large rounded *was* 1974) (note to self: look around on the vintage pattern sites and see if you can find this jacket)

1 Blue 4-gore skirt

1 Blue/white houndstooth 4-gore skirt

1 Blue/white back-zip straight leg pants

1 reversible vest: Blue crepe on one side and the blue/white houndstooth on the other.

I added two rib knit turtleneck bodysuits from the JC Penny in white, one in navy...and considered myself pretty snazzy.

It's probably a good thing I lived in rural Indiana, where fashion was something people did Somewhere Else.

I had a bit of a pause the year I went off to college and the first six months or so after I got married, because I didn't have access to a sewing machine. But the first Christmas My Sweet Baboo and I were married, I received a check from my mom and dad and promptly used it to purchase a basic Kenmore sewing machine.

And I've never really stopped sewing; puttering along at the 4-H red-ribbon-level for years and dealing w/fit issues as they arrived (see The Evolution of Fit for that story...). It wasn't until I turned 30 that I really started to consider improving my technique.

I had kind of an identity crisis that year, thinking I needed to be, um, 'grown up' but not feeling like I was (Not sure I am now, for that matter, but that's another topic altogether). In my pursuit of a responsible adult mindset, I read several books, including Anne Ortlund's Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman. I did have some attitude changes as a result of reading that, but one of the things she said is that everyone needs to have some area of expertise...and she challenged her reader to pick one area and pursue it.

The area I picked was sewing and I subscribed to Sew News magazine...which led to a Threads subscription and a Fashion Fabrics Club membership (which was the beginnings of my stash)...which led, when we got online, to discovering independent patterns at now-long-gone, which led to writing reviews for PR has *forced* me to improve my techniques, both in construction and fitting, because, hey, people who sew are looking at those photos!

And, because I had been working on fitting and construction, when a need arose to make costumes for church I volunteered to help out and now I'm the *ahem* 'chief costume curator'.

But there was a couple of times when I almost gave it up. One was due to lack of space to sew; I don't know if I would've quit altogether or just put things away until I had a space, but, well, desperation leads to unique solutions and I moved the sewing to the garage and was glad to have some dedicated space that was out of sight. But the other time was an almost sell it/give it away moment.

I'll try to describe what it was; I don't know if everyone will understand or not.

After The Flute Player was born, I was sewing a lot. The magazine articles were inspiring me to not just sew clothes I needed, but to do some artistic exploration as well, and it was taking up a lot of time. I began to feel guilty about all the time I was spending on sewing, wondering if it could be spent in a way that would be more of a benefit spiritually in my life and in the lives of others. An old religious notion that if you enjoy something, it's selfish to do it much. It took a personal revelation for me to understand that God gives joy, not takes it and I saw that I didn't have to give up my sewing.

Five or six years later, as I was sewing furiously for yet another church drama production, it hit me that if I had given up sewing back when I was having the guilt trip, I would not have been able to serve in that manner. Food for thought... ;)

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Times, They are A-changin'

I've seen it coming for a long time; subtle and not so subtle indications.

Then, suddenly, I found myself flapping my shirt every hour or so wondering who turned up the heat. I guess I was fortunate that that only lasted for the months of September-October. Annoying, but not intolerable.

However, the shirt-flapping was followed by a sudden and alarming weight gain.

Ten pounds in about 6 weeks. Ick. Double ick. Beyond annoying and definitely intolerable.

So I'm down to wearing only the stretchy stuff and trying to figure out how to fit the shirts I'm itching to get started making. There's hope it's not permanent; right now, our church is on an extended fast which seems to at least have stopped the upward climb and may even pull it back down a bit.

Hopefully, the chiropractor will have my back in some kind of shape by the time the fast is over and I can begin a real exercise/weight reduction plan.

'Cause I don't want to have to retrace all my TNTs in a bigger size...

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Changing the Photo Plan -- Maybe

I learned something today...

I've always wondered where the pictures that were uploaded to Blogger went. Guess what? A Picasa account gets created for the Blogger account and any uploaded photos go to Picasa albums.

Basically, all that I needed to do was create a user name for that account and...lookie, there are my pictures! Accessible to Pattern Review and everything!

Okiedokie, then. If I switch to Picasa, I won't have to upload photos twice and there should be no repeat of any unexpected looks like Picasa allows photos to be public but not searchable.

Much better. Except...

There's pretty much only one size available for viewing. Flikr allows the photos to be viewed in a larger format. This is going to take some thought.

Oh, well, I've got until I upload the first review photo to make up my mind.

Meantime, I've got some housecleaning to do on Picasa. There are several photos that were uploaded, then I lost the link while writing the post so I had to upload them again. I need to delete the duplicates. ;)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


I debated about it for several months, then finally decided to go ahead and renew my BWOF subscription for another year...even though I only made 1 (one) garment from the entire last 11 months worth of magazines.

There are several patterns I want to try; I just haven't been able to get to my own creative sewing yet. And it is cool to see the trends; plus, I've observed that the patterns in the magazine tend to be long-lived.

So I don't think it's a bad idea to re-up. But I need to use it more next year if I want to spring for year three...

Oh, speaking of magazines, I was in the checkout line today and saw the cover of Weight Watcher's magazine...the lady on the cover had on a very interesting top, with the fabric woven into a pattern on the lower front. I almost bought the magazine just so I could study the top. Anyone else see it?

Monday, January 05, 2009

2008 stats

Fabric In:89.25 yds
Fabric Out:86.875 yds

Garments made for me: 35
Garments made for other people in my family: 9

'Donations': 1

Things made for friends:1 set flannel waterbed sheets

Miscellaneous Church-Related Sewing:
1 Loes Hinse Weekender Bag for missions fundraiser
24 chair back slipcovers

Church-related Costuming:
2 pairs black linen ratty 'pirate pants'
1 swashbuckling linen coat
2 rayon/linen pull-over shirts
1 longish multi-buttoned waistcoat vest
1 truly hideous Coat of Many Colors
1 Men's Bible costume
2 Women's Bible Costumes
mending of multiple costume pieces!

Costuming for the 2008 High School Musical, Pippin:
6 silver lame' pull-over shirts
6 gold lame' pull-over shirts
1 full-length metallic print/velvet trimmed vest
1 knit mock turtleneck metallic print stretch velvet top
Team Effort:
19? (I lost count) hooded robes
14? (I didn't count) pairs doe suede pull-on pants
6 pairs metallic-on-black-stretch velvet pull on pants(that were later struck)
Long lady's vest w/metallic print godets
1 set leg flounces (dunno what else to call them)

I didn't get anything at all productive done yesterday; the black tops are still on the 'to do' list. But I did, at least, finish everything I started in '08...with the exception of a few costume pieces that just got put on a back burner. They are, however, cut out, and when the timing is right I'll pull 'em out and sew 'em up.

So I was 2 3/8 yards short of parity. I've pulled the index cards for three very cheap pieces of knit that I will fetch out of the bins and cheerfully put in the donate bag and probably never'll add up to 5 7/8 yards out. So I'll actually finish lower than I started, which is good. We'll see how I do this year.

One of the things that surprised me was that I bought considerably less fabric this year than I have for a long time (when I label 89.5 yards of fabric 'considerably less', you know stash accumulation has been an issue!). It's the first time since I began keeping records of my purchases, back in 2004, that I purchased less than 100 yards. So perhaps I am finally learning some constraint! Not to mention I ran out of places to put it...

Anyway, I'm off to clean my slate for a new year!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Choir Sundays Heads into 2009

I took my camera to church today, but things were kinda hectic and I didn't get a 'group photo'. Hopefully next week!

Anyway, this month's colors are royal blue and black.
The top is the silk duppioni Sewing Workshop Chopin Blouse that took forever and was a comedy of errors (remember the piece that I threw away?). But it works great for choir and I love the way that silk feels on...heaven!

The pants are hot-off-the-sewing-machine La Fred Daphne Pants, made from a scrumptious cotton/lycra sateen from Gorgeous Fabrics. I still need to tweek the pants a bit; this is the third iteration and I'd like to be closer to a TNT than I am. But, perhaps the *ahem* excess of the holidays might account for a bit of that? Not sure...but, they work as a bottom layer under a long top, which is what I wanted them for.

I had to have My Sweet Baboo take the photo on the porch as the inside of the house is a maze of half-down Christmas decorations and boxes. That's one chore I'm always relieved to finish.

I really, really need a black turtleneck top; I've got fabric and a pattern, if I can make it today I'll count it for '08 as intended, otherwise I'll be done where I am. We'll see how the rest of the day goes!