Tuesday, October 31, 2006

You're on the edge of your seat waiting, aren't you?

I've pin-basted the whole thing together and tried it on. Ouch, those darn pins. I'm pretty sure this one needs no more changes. Whew! And it's about bleeping time. I love the new collar even more when it's on me so that was definitely a good change. Now I'll unpin, do the neckline topstitching and then start putting it together for real. Hopefully I didn't just jinx myself.

I also made a list of the alterations I've done and will compile that and condense this whole experience into a review on Pattern Review when I'm done. (That oughta kill a whole afternoon!) I keep waiting for someone else to review this pattern or even just put up a pic to compare notes/battle scars, but I have the feeling everyone else is waiting too.

Here we go again

Yep, yet another of the same #&@%! top I've been working on for weeks now. I think this makes the 7th time I've cut it out, but who's counting. This one is already better because it's lost the Lunch Lady look. ;-)

I extended the neckline/shoulder area toward my neck and redrew the collar. In the pic below, the original collar pattern piece is shown to the left of the yellow line and the new extension is to the right. This piece is to be cut on the fold, so I added about 4 inches in total length. This new collar matches the line drawing much more closely and I like it so much better. I didn't actually cut these collar pieces on the fold (in case you're wondering) because I'm dealing with stripes and I wanted the collar points to be symmetrical. I added a seam allowance and center back seam so I could cut each half separately.

While I was making collar pieces I also made a separate pattern for the undercollar, trimming 1/8" from the front and outside edges, so the top collar would naturally roll to the underside, as shown.

I'm not going to topstitch the neckline edges until I baste the rest of the pieces together and try it on. Six times burned, seventh time shy ... or something like that. Maybe one day soon I'll actually have a new top I can wear out of the house.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Just to expand on my previous post ...

Look at the "photo-enhanced" collar and narrower neckline in this pic compared to the actual results below. Already, it's an improvement. I still can't save this top, but I think I can make another one I'll actually finish and wear.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Throwing in the towel

Here's the latest and probably last photo of this top. This was before I ripped out and resewed the sleeves after narrowing the shoulders. There's an improvement but it's still not thrilling me. Too bad I spent all that time on embroidery and sparklies. Sigh.

I spent some mirror time today trying to figure out what I needed to do to fix this. I decided I can't. The biggest problem is the neckline and the second biggest is the collar. The neckline is too wide up at my front neck/shoulders. It fits fine at the back neck. The collar is too short and shallow. I even added 1-1/4" to the length of the collar before I cut it in this fabric. If I hadn't, it would've been sitting at my shoulder seams.

Look at the line drawing for the pattern. Pity there's no photo representation on a live human. The collar is much longer and the points are much deeper in the drawing than in reality. That's one of the reasons I liked this top. No wonder I'm not happy with this version. Since I can't add fabric at the neck, I don't think I'll ever be happy with how it looks, or feels, on me.

I do think I can fix the pattern though. I've got all the other fitting issues taken care of, so at this point I'd only have to redraw the neckline and collar. I may be ready to give up on this top, but I'm not ready to give up on the pattern yet.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Separation Anxiety

A new topic showed up today on a sewing message board. The topic starter asked readers to rank various sewing machine features in order of preference. As I looked over the list, I started to mentally re-order them into my must-haves.

That's when I realized that while my machine has those must-haves, I've been doing without many of them for some time because I can't bear the thought of leaving my baby for repair. I mean, what if I want to sew? Yeah, I technically have a backup machine -- a BOL mechanical Kenmore -- but it hasn't seen the light of day (or touch of oil) for over 5 years. And after our move last year, I'm not even exactly sure I know where it is. Excuses, excuses. See. I'm good at justifying why not to pack her up and take her in.

Which means that right now I'm sewing without my needle threader, without a machine light (bad board that eats bulbs), without the low bobbin indicator, and the worst -- without reverse. So, are they really must-haves? Apparently not, because their absence hasn't stopped me. Oh, and my machine is also on a recall list, needing a transformer swap out, which I suppose means I'm risking danger everytime time I turn it on. Extreme sewing, eh? ;-)

The upcoming week will be a non-sewing week for me, so I've promised myself (again) that I will take my machine in for a long-overdue servicing. Hopefully by publicly announcing my intentions this time, I'll actually follow through. Please keep me honest and ask me about it next week. And who knows? If I start to get the shakes, maybe I'll dig out that Kenmore and see how she's doing.

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As for my Simplicity 3990 top ... It's nearly finished but. Yep, but. The crossover neckline is very gape-y. I know I didn't stretch the bias edge because I stabilized it right away and everything fit together as it should. I'm guessing the fabric is a bit more forgiving than my muslins and that overall everything probably loosened up a bit as I was sewing. The top is in the washer/dryer cycle right now and my finger are crossed in the hopes of some residual shrinking happening.

I have a photo of it, unhemmed so I know it's too long, but still, it just looks so ... so ... matronly. It's really not like this in real life, but in the photo, I feel like I should be wearing it while working in a hospital or cafeteria. What do you think?

Oops. There's the washer bell. Time to toss it into the dryer and pray.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Finally, some forward progress

Here's the first good fabric version, so far. Yes, first. After all that trial and error work, I'm not about to turn this pattern into a One Hit Wonder.

This fabric is a periwinkle silk noil (raw silk) from Nancy's Notions that I bought at the beginning of summer. I really like working with this fabric and I'm sure it's going to be very comfortable to wear. I bought another color too which is going to be moving to the top of the To Use list now.

Now that I've got the fitting issues resolved, I love this pattern again, though I'm not thrilled with the collar. This one turned out OK, but I really should've cut a separate undercollar piece since Simplicity didn't provide one. Why not? They printed 3 separate bust sizes for each view. What's another collar piece at that point?? But I made an Executive Decision to be lazy since I knew that the silk would be forgiving. Another fabric won't be. When I finish this, I'll make an undercollar pattern so I don't forget. Famous last words.

I'm hoping to work on this tonight around multiple loads of teenage boy laundry. There's really not a lot left to do so I might even finish it. Again, famous last words.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The last muslin. This time I mean it. Really. I swear.

As someone who doesn't often sew true muslins, I'm really going overboard now. I made the last adjustments detailed in the blog entry just below this one and cut another muslin. That makes number 5, if you're counting. I won't bore you with how I screwed up those last adjustments and ended up 4 inches wrong on the sideseams, only because I have no idea how I did that. I untaped and started over and everything lined up great for the second go. Whew! I must've still been in shock that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won yesterday in the last 30 seconds of the game.

So there it is. And for an added happy accident bonus, I love how the stripes ended up on the side panels, so I'll definitely be incorporating that somehow into the final version. I say "happy accident" because I had to cut those panels on the crossgrain as I was short on fabric. Making all these muslins sure is putting a dent in the ugly section of my stash, and that particular fabric was leftover from cornice boards I made for my previous house. The cheetah print? No, not so much. I'll be losing that. (And the crowd sighs in relief.)

The only changes left to make to the pattern paper are to (1) narrow the shoulders, which is a regular adjustment for me. I left it until last to see just how much after final muslin and sleeve were sewn. And (2) to scoop out a bit of the front neckline so the crossover happens at a more visually pleasing location. I.e., not at the exact center of a boobie. You can see how I've folded it over on the muslin. Oh, and (3), I might make the collar a bit longer but I'm still deciding on that.

During this journey I've learned that I have a Short Upper Rib Cage, per Fitting & Pattern Alteration, A Multi-Method Approach (Liechty, Pottberg, Rasband). I've kind of known that I was shorter from shoulder to bust than most patterns, but I didn't think *I* was particularly short there nor would I ever have called it a Short Upper Rib Cage. In fact, it took me a few tries to even find this in that book (page 277) because I wasn't thinking ribs and totally skipped over that section in the index.

"The bones forming the upper rib cage area are lighter than average; the spacing between the adjacent ribs maybe closer. The length decreases from the
shoulder to the bustline. [Ah HAH!] The length variation may affect the length of the joints or the space between the arm hinge and the bustline. [Double Ah HAH!]"
Sometimes just for kicks, I read the descriptions for figure anomolies that I don't have ... the descriptions are so strange and clinical. Yes, I'm easily amused.

Here's one I particularly like:

"The muscles and the soft tissues forming the contour of the inner thigh areas are less developed than average. When the person stands, there is a definite visible space between the legs from the crotch nearly to the knee."
Now how good does that sound to a thunder-thighed woman like myself? It makes those enviable thin thighs ("shallow" in F&PA speak) sound like a figure FLAW! As if.

But seriously, I do like this book and find myself looking to it as often as I take Fit for Real People (Palmer/Pletsch) off the shelf. F&PA includes diagnoses and solutions for a lot more figure idosyncracies. But the two books definitely go hand in hand, because although F&PA has more analyses, the solutions are often cryptic and hard to figure out exactly what's been slashed, pivoted, or otherwise altered from the drawings. FFRP gives you a good foundation for slash/spread, which helps to figure out F&PA.

Will I cut the real fabric today? I hope so, but first I've got to return some tuxedos to the rental store, get some groceries and do a few more errands.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Muslins everywhere and not a thing to wear (yet)

(Click on the photo to enlarge it if you want to see more details.)

I'm still battling with Simplicity 3990. I was nearly ready to just toss it all and make a tee shirt or pillow or something else easy, but the OCD in me makes it very hard to just give up or give in.

Yesterday, I found myself with a couple of hours between errands and getting my sons ready for their big dance and I decided to try on my various muslins and take pics hoping either I or the camera would see something that I've been missing. My Aussie friend Belinda often advises me to put a frustrating garment into the "magic wardrobe" (wardrobe = closet in Aussie-speak). Again, this advice was spot-on except this time instead of magic wardrobe it was magic heap-on-the-floor as that's where all those muslins landed.

My first muslin isn't pictured as I had ripped it apart when my mom was here. As I mentioned in a previous entry it did show me that I needed more bust room than the D cup pattern piece provided. That led to Muslin 2, above.

My try-ons of Muslin 2 last week were also disappointing and being short on time, I thought I'd go the easy route (hah!) by recreating the style with my pattern software. Muslin 3, above, is the first version of that pattern. Still not happy with the front neckline gape and back neckline shape. Which led to tweaking some things, another print-out/taping session for the next pattern and Muslin 4, above. Meh. Muslin 4 is no real improvement, most likely because I was overthinking at that point and making changes about which I really knew better. Sometimes I'm "too smart" for my own good. Sigh.

Which brings me back to yesterday's photo session. Muslin 2 is clearly more flattering in the waist and generally overall, although I do need a scootch more room in the derriere area. I also need to fold out more from shoulder to bust for the front, and shoulder to waist for the back. In the photo, I've taken a fold across the entire back and on the front side just below the camera (my actual right side -- remember this is a mirror image). That fold at the front makes things close to perfect. The neckline isn't gaping as it is on the other side. The bust point is correct and where the princess seaming hits is good. Why didn't I see this last week??

Muslin 3 (from my software) is boxy and the neckline is gaping and too low. Muslin 4 (software) is better than 3 but I'm still not loving how the neckline hits on me or how low it seems. Muslin 4 is pictured with seam allowances outside so it looks bigger than it actually is.

On deck for today during football games: Start with Muslin 2, transfer the fold out from shoulder to bust/waist onto the pattern, add more width across the back hips, and cut out the flippin' final fabric. Oh, and make a note that the shoulder-to-waist tuck is something I probably need to do for most patterns, especially Women's (Plus) patterns.

This all illustrates one reason I still buy patterns even though I'm pretty good with my pattern software. There are often stylistic and shaping subtleties that can easily be lost in the translation (or impatience!) from pattern line drawing to pattern software. Commercial patterns, where a designer has already done all the hard work, really are a bargain at any price. And when they're on sale, they're priceless.

Pattern software is great, don't get me wrong. I use it a LOT! But if I had to choose between knowing my pattern software and knowing how to alter patterns to fit me, I'd choose the latter every time. Thankfully, I'm lucky and don't have to choose because many times they work hand in hand and almost every time I use one or the other, I learn something new. So while this multi-muslin meandering was frustrating, it was also educational. Once I put all this behind me and am wearing my new blouse, I'll appreciate the learning experience even more. For now, I just want to get this blasted thing done. ;-)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Proud Mom Moment

Please indulge me while I show off my handsome sons. This is Homecoming weekend for their high school. It's somewhat bittersweet as this is DS#1's last Homecoming. But at the same time it's DS#2's first (he's the one with the mohawk). Yes, TWO tuxedo rentals and all the related expenses in one week! What fun they're going to have!

I hope they stay safe tonight. I'll be up until they're back and in their beds.

ETA: Maria asked for an explanation of what Homecoming is. Here's the short version Maria.

Homecoming is an annual tradition in the United States where high schools and colleges come together, usually in late September or October, to welcome back former residents and alumni to "come home" to their former school. It is built around a central event, usually a football game and often coincides with the last "home" game of the season. During the week preceding the football game, there are other student activites including parades, dress-up days in school colors and other fun themes, pep rallies, etc. That week is called "Spirit Week."

The students also nominate a "Homecoming Court" of a certain number of males and females who will be voted on by secret ballot to choose a Homecoming Queen and King from the senior (or graduating) members of the Court. The Court is usually presented during the halftime of the football game and the Queen is crowned, often by the previous year's Queen. At some schools, the King is also crowned then and at others (like at my sons' school), the King is crowned at the dance the following night. Being in the Court, or King or Queen is an honorary and only-for-fun designation.

The week culiminates with a big dance, either formal or semi-formal dress, held either on or off the school campus. As you can see by the photos, my sons' school dance is formal. Their dance was held off-campus.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Rocky 2

ETA: DS did get a pic of the squirrel when he made his second appearance. He left it in the camera as a surprise for me to find. Like I need any more squirrel surprises!

No, not *that* Rocky. Rocky, as in Bullwinkle. Yep, another squirrel. And it scared the BEGEEZUS outta me. Just how do they know when I'm home alone??

Yesterday afternoon and DH had just called to tell me they were in the car and on their way from airport. I fiddled around a bit in the kitchen and then went into the family room to turn on the TV and veg with Rachel Ray for 20 minutes or so until they came home. As I started to walk over to my chair of choice and grab the remote, something jumped up (besides me) and went scrambling. And it kept scrambling, all over the tops of my wall unit pieces. Yikes. I nearly peed my pants passed out. Then it started making cute little squirrel noises and I relaxed a bit. Just a bit, because, well, I still had a squirrel in the house.

I opened the door to outside and waited. It kept making its little noises, almost like it was scolding me for being in the room. I took the hint. I ran upstairs to get the camera. As you can tell by the absence of a photo here, I never got a pic. When I got back to the family room (after being gone 15 seconds, tops) everything was very quiet and I never heard the noises again.

DH gets home, I tell him I think the squirrel is still there but I haven't seen or heard anything in the last 30 minutes or so and I'm wondering if maybe he did escape out the door after all. DH does some furniture moving and looks behind the wall units as best as he can. Nothing. We all agree that the squirrel is gone. We close the doors, go on our merry way, eat dinner and I go upstairs.

Later, when I come down again, DH tells me that the squirrel never left and that they'd managed to chase it outside through those doors ... where it promptly ran right into the pool and started to dog (squirrel?) paddle like no one's business. DH rescued it with the pool pole/net and it's now free to come into the house yet again. I know, it's probably not the same squirrel, but still.

Yes, DH needs to cover that chimney. But our huge ladder doesn't reach all the way to the top of the chimney and I'm not willing to risk DH's life just to have the chimney covered. I supposed we'll need to rent an even bigger ladder for an hour or so. Yeah, like that's at the top of the list.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

3 Steps Forward, 2 Steps Back

Those are my muslins for Simplicity 3990. I had high hopes for this pattern, with its separate bust cup sizing, but those hopes are long since out the window.

My first try-on of my STP (Swedish tracing paper) tracing seemed to fit. But upon closer inspection, I realized I actually didn't have enough bust room, even using the D cup pattern piece. Not really surprising since I am a DD, not a D. So I made a FBA (full bust alteration) and cut a muslin. The bust fit was great ... if I yanked the bust area up about an inch and a half. In other words, there was too much length between shoulder and bust. So I pinned that out, transferred it to my pattern pieces and cut another muslin. That was better but still not the "great" I was after. Little things were off, like where the princess seams hit, the back neckline and how low the armholes were. I started watching the Top Chef marathon on Bravo and ignored the sewing room.

After watching the last half of Season 1 (I'm now hooked, thankyouverymuchBravo, and boy does this show make you hungry!), I decided to stop trying to reinvent the wheel. I copied the style lines using my pattern software (PMB) and printed out a pattern I knew would fit. I should've done this from the start as the style is really quite simple and very easy to copy ... and I would've had a finished blouse by now.

Apparently mom knows best because when she was here and watching me alter after the first tissue-fitting, she asked why I wasn't using a TNT pattern since surely I must have a similar pattern that already fits. Grrrr. I hate it when she's right.

So today I will try to decide which good fabric I'll use for my PMB version of this blouse and hopefully move along on this project. Tonight, I'll be watching the season finale of Project Runway and then I'll have to stay tuned for the premiere of the next season of Top Chef.

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BTW, I do have a separate web host (a few actually) where I could put photos and link to them (but thank you anyway Amber), it's just that it ticks me off when Blogger doesn't work like it should. I like to keep things in their places and putting some Blog pics here and some in other places just feels messy to me. I do get over that when I give up on waiting for Blogger, but I still don't like it. ;-)

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Good (Long) Weekend

My mom arrived Wednesday night. We spent a bit of time in my sewing room on Thursday while I traced and cut out the muslin for my Simplicity 3990 blouse. Then we were off for my Football Mom errands. Home again for a couple hours, long enough to sew up the muslin and have a quick try-on, then off to the game. I snuck in some pattern alterations on Friday and that's the stage it's still in. I decided to go to Plan B for the family get-together outfit and not to stress over a blouse.

Mom and I left here Saturday around noon and arrived in plenty of time for the party start time of 3 PM. Follow the red line on the map above and that's where we went -- from the west coast of Florida, straight across Route 60 to the east coast. I saw cousins I haven't seen in over 10 years, aunts, uncles, and more. It was a fun time with great conversations and great food & drink. We went back to my cousin's house after the official party and partied some more. My family is nothing if not party animals, even the "old" folks. In fact, I think they may be the worst offenders! Most of my aunts/uncles and mom's cousins are nearer to my age than my mother's and we've always been close and now that my first cousins have grown up, there's not such a feeling of a huge age difference so I had lots of people to talk to and laugh with. But I can't believe my cousins are in (or close to) their 30s now, some with kids of their own. It's too bad that DH and my boys had to stay home. They were missed and they would've had a blast.

Apologies for the low-detail cellphone pics. I forgot my real camera in my suitcase.

My mom's cousin's husband Joe (did you follow that?) took 9 of us out on his boat (above pics) for a few hours on Sunday. The weather was perfect (I have a pink face and arms to prove it) and the boat ride was fantastic. The best part of the trip was all the dolphins in the water, who jumped and played and came up alongside the boat to race us. I've lived in Florida for over 16 years and this is the closest I've been to dolphins outside of Sea World. It was very cool!

Mom left a few hours ago, with my menfolk who are on their way to the Meadowlands in NJ to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers tomorrow night. DS#1 has been waiting his whole life for this concert. I'm home alone dogsitting, and I'm sure I'll squeeze in a few hours of sewing here and there. ;-) Although I didn't think it about since Friday, the blouse is starting to call to me again.

I also remembered to snap a pic of me and The Blouse That Would Not End while I was wearing it today and before I laid down for a quick nap to recharge after the weekend. Two months later is better than not at all, right? It's linen, it's wrinkled of course, and the color is off but there it is. It's a very comfortable blouse. I also had about 2 inches of my hair chopped off last week, which was perfect for the boat trip yesterday. It's a great cut ... those flippy ends do that all by themselves. The older I get, the less I want to waste time fiddling with hairstyles that my hair isn't made for. It's right up there on the list with comfortable shoes. Boy am I getting old or what!

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Just a little rant here ... While I've surprised myself by actually liking and continuing with this blogging stuff, I absolutely HATE the delays with Blogger when uploading pics. But I'm too cheap to pay for this stuff so I'll just clench my teeth and try to deal with it.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Cleaning Mode: On

My mom is arriving tonight so today is cleaning day. Well, whatever can be done to a Money Pit to make it more presentable anyway. I don't think it will be exactly *clean* when I'm done, but the dog fuzz and dust will be gone ... for a day or two. After the cleaning, I'm going to see if I can squeeze in finishing the tracing of Simplicity 3990 (the new Khaliah Ali blouse).

In the meantime, I'll leave you to read my latest animated tutorial for a Full Bust Adjustment with princess seams. I'd been meaning to make this up for a while and then a question yesterday prompted me to Just Do It. I want to stress that this method is not my original concept and the tutorial is just my interpretation of methods detailed in Fit for Real People (Palmer/Pletsch).

Princess FBA

Monday, October 9, 2006

Home from shopping, with everything and ... more

I must've been kidding myself when I thought I'd avoid crowds at Joann's by not shopping over the weekend. Sheesh. But then I remembered it's Halloween costume time and I was very glad I passed by the fabric because the cutting line was out the door.

Here's the patterns I came home with. J's did have them all in stock so I didn't have to deal with the Walmart service (?) desk for price matching. Apparently, it was my Khaliah Ali day ... although there are a few others in the mix. The scrubs pattern is for my sister. The men's shirts patterns are for all the guys in the family. Now that I'm typing this, I realize I should've bought two of the shirt patterns so I wouldn't have to trace. Oh well.

I also bought the thread I was after. My local Joann's sells Maxilock serger thread for $2.49 every day, although it's clearly marked $4.99 on the package. They had Maxilock Swirl which was marked $9.95 on the package and on the shelf. No, thank you. It looks cool, but not that cool. Gutermann was 40% off, which I didn't know, so it was picked over. But I did find the basics I needed in the drawers underneath the display -- 2 white, 2 off-white, 2 black. I know I need others but I forgot to make a note of which and when I do that and buy anyway, I always seem to buy the same colors so I tried to be smarter today.

I also went by the Husqvarna Viking store inside of Joann's and had to almost tie my hands together. They have SO MANY new goodies on display and I was salivating. But I left with only the one thing I was after -- a button sewing-on foot. It's really cool ... it has a slot to slide the button into which holds it in place while you machine-sew on the button. I nearly always sew buttons on by machine but I also curse when they slide around. This foot should take care of that. I'll try it out later and let you know how it works.

HV has also come out with a few new clear feet and an adjustable edge foot. I was tempted, but I stayed strong. The clear feet are duplicates of metal feet I already have and use all the time and a quick look at the adjustable edge foot looked interesting but it wasn't a must-have for today. Viking feet are on the pricey side, but maybe next time. I love machine feet BTW and have almost all that Viking makes for my machine, so it's probably only a matter of time before I weaken.

The last item I came home with was most definitely NOT on my shopping list.

A speeding ticket. Grrrr! And about 1/8 mile from my house. I swear I wasn't speeding. (Yeah, they all say that, don't they?) I was coming up on a stop sign at a 4-way intersection. The cop was coming towards me on the opposite side of the road and says he "clocked me going 60 in a 40." Sheyaw. So, that means I'll get to spend a day in court fighting this ... which I will definitely do. I haven't had a speeding ticket in over 20 years and besides, they are EXPENSIVE in Florida. This one is $210.50 if I were to just pay it and move on. Do you know how much fabric I could buy for $210.50?? And you thought tourism was our major industry. ;-)

ETA: OMG, I totally forgot about the cutting mat I was going to buy. Sheesh, what a dork. Well, looks like I have an excuse to go back to Joann's when my mom is here.

Now what?

The skirt is done and I really like it. Photos do not do justice to the fabric at all. The crosshatch pattern is much nicer than what shows here. I'll take a pic of me in it and will probably write a review (there's only one on PR and with no photo) after I have a top to wear with it.

But no, I still don't know what that top will be. I can't decide if I want a blouse or a tee or a tunic-y thing. I think I'm going to try on some tops I already have to see what basic shape works best with the skirt. Maybe that will give me some direction.

Then I'm off to Joann's to hit the last day of the Simplicity pattern sale. I avoid J's on weekends because I hate crowds. But I really need white serger thread before I run out and I need to restock some basic colors of regular sewing thread. I might even also break down and buy one of those big white cutting mats for my cutting table. I've hesitated so far because they're not self-healing. But I'm going to try hard NOT to go near any fabric. I hate most of what J's sells but sometimes there's a gem or two hidden near the miles of poly silkies and fleeces. Just because I've cleared a bit of space from the stash closet doesn't mean I need to rush out and fill it back up.

If J's is out of the patterns on my list, I'll hit Walmart for a price match. I need to go there anyway because I've decided I need some self-tanner for my ghost legs if I'm going to wear this skirt to the family thing next weekend and not scare my relatives. My boys' play football at night now so I've missed a season of Saturdays in the sun and my legs reflect (and I do mean reflect!) that.

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Plugging Away

The new skirt is going well. This fabric has the perfect amount of drape for the side flounces and cut-on godets and a try-on after all seams were sewn tells me it's going to fit well. I really like girlie skirts but I hate pantyhose and heels so a casual skirt with a twirl factor is right up my alley. I can see that this is going to be a favorite pattern that I'll use many times.

As I near the completion of the skirt (while peeking at the football games) I'm starting to contemplate a top. I have a few ideas but nothing is decided yet. I can't decide whether to start with fabric or pattern and so I'm having a small case of analysis paralysis. I've still got a week to get it done. Hopefully, I won't dawdle those days away trying to come up with something.

Saturday, October 7, 2006

Next Up

This afternoon I traced the View B skirt from Kwik Sew 3287 above. I'm going to make it with the nice lightweight cross-hatched denim sent to me all the way from Australia by my good friend Belinda. The pattern is a regular (i.e., non-plus) sized KS pattern and since my ample posterior is just outside the sizing range, I had to add a little bit of width. It's a simple, pull-on skirt with only 3 pattern pieces so the alteration was quick and easy -- just slash through the middle of the panels and spread. I think the fabric is drapey enough to be complemented by the inset flounces on either side, without sticking out all stiff and ugly and the seaming will look good topstitched. I'd really like to wear a new casual skirt to a family gathering (my great aunt's birthday) coming up next weekend so I hope I'm not off-base with my assessments.

After that's done, a new top to wear with it and new PJs for the overnight portion of the trip are on the short-list. My mom arrives Wednesday night so we may be doing much of our visiting in my sewing room -- which should be OK with mom, since she's a sewer too. It's either that or getting handed a paintbrush!

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Finally taking a breath

I've had to attend to a couple of emergencies which took me out of town and offline for a bit. I'm back, everything's OK, but I'm only just now catching up with my world again. Whew!

This project was started a few weeks ago. I/we finally finished it today, save for painting doors and installing one of them. It's technically the living room, and hopefully will be again after we build our addition, but for now it's my office-slash-living room and so hosts a slight mix of living room and office furniture. Still, I'm pleased and it is definitely a huge improvement over how the room has looked through all of its iterations since we bought the house almost 4 years ago.

We've had this flooring for a couple of years, just waiting in boxes for us. We decided that the time was upon us and figured a long weekend and we'd have the floor in. We've been at this remodeling for a while now. We should've known better.

We didn't figure time for the baseboards which needed to be painted, cut and installed. Or the crown molding. Or completely tearing out and rebuilding a door frame because the "new" (vs. how we bought the house) drywall in the family room extended out past the existing frame by a good inch. Or an unexpected mad-dash trip. Or the 1,001 other little fiddly things (like actually locating and then unpacking the boxes which hold the living room knick-knacks) which need doing when you're finishing a room. Laying the floor was relatively easy and each of the other projects weren't too difficult either. But add them all together and it's more than a weekend. Or two.

This is the finished room ... except for those doors and hanging some pictures on the bare walls.

This is what the same angle of the room looked like with the previous owners' stuff in it, complete with dark panelling, built in Formica cabinets, and decades old, yellowing photos on the walls . Lover-ly, ain't it? You're lucky this isn't Scratch 'n Sniff, as the house used to smell as bad as it looked.

Fast (?) forward 3+ years and this is my view out the (newly framed) window. I love it! Not so much on the icky concrete edging and weeds out there. All in time, all in time.

The chairs sitting at either side of the window belonged to my parents. They are quite 1970s and will be replaced at some point after all the remodeling dust settles. But to my eye they almost sort of go with the whole look in the room, and they bring back memories of my childhood which feels as comfortable as actually sitting in them. So for now, they'll be around and I'll laugh at their outward ugliness and smile at their inner beauty.

If you want to see the whole project from start to finish, here are the links:

Stage 1

Stage 2

Stage 3

If you want to try out a cool nail gun or learn how to lay floors, c'mon by. We're starting on the adjoining family room next week. If I finish painting the doors by then.

Or maybe I'll sew something this weekend instead. ;-)