Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Twenty Words or So

Hey everyone ... I've had some comments wondering how Hurricane/TS Fay treated us, and I just want to assure everyone that we're fine. It didn't rain even one drop here while the storm was going up the coast and then some torrential downpours a few days later as it traveled back across the top of Florida, but nothing that doesn't happen nearly every summer afternoon. Last I heard, there's another storm brewing so the fun never stops.

Still no sewing. Work is keeping me SO BUSY! But it's a good busy, with good pay, even if it keeps me out of the sewing room a bit longer. And on top of everything else, it's football team tee shirt season again, which means collecting money, sorting orders, etc., etc. There is light at the end of the tunnel, which is not an oncoming train, so I hope to get those darn capris finished by the end of the week to wear to DS's first game of the season.

It's just been one of those weeks, for 2 weeks in a row. ;-)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


And just like that, the sewing mojo left. Of course, after I publicly announced I would work on the capris for a bit every morning. Sigh. I did work on them a little this morning, but didn't get very far.

I'm hoping to trick the mojo back with this post. Fingers crossed that I wake up tomorrow wanting to sew like a madwoman. ;-)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Daylight Savings Time

I was up before 6 AM today, to make DS's lunch and send him off to school.

After that, I took the sleepy dogs out. Then back inside, made myself an egg and toast and ate breakfast in front of the computer while reading some blogs and checking the hurricane updates.

I emptied the dishwasher and put in a load of laundry.

Next it was up to the sewing room where I serged the outseams of both pairs of capris, then stitched them together and pressed all four seams open. Oh yeah, before that I had to re-thread the serger and sewing machine so that counts as "sewing" time too.

Back downstairs to take out meat for tonight's dinner and to add the ingredients for Foccacia dough into the bread machine.

Soon, it will be time to start the paying work.

I get a lot of stuff done when I get up early. Why can't I force myself to do that when school is out? I don't go to bed any earlier, so it's not like I switch the tasks from the end to the start of the day. I guess extra summer sleep is contagious when you have teenagers.

The photo above is the present state of the capris. I'm going to post a pic every day of the progress (or not) and see how long it takes me to finish these working in short spurts in the morning and evening.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Monday Should Be Interesting

Between a hurricane headed right at us and DS#2 starting school tomorrow, it's going to be a long week I think. (Last week was long too, as I worked over 60 hours.)

Hoping the power doesn't go out, at least not for long, since I (optimistically) went grocery shopping today.

Public Service Announcement: Plan better and stay the HECK out of Walmart on (1) the day before school starts and (2) the day before a hurricane. It's already a nightmare and today it was a freakin' zoo.

Sewing-wise, the only thing that got done was to take apart and file some Burda WOFs magazines and cut out two pairs of capris, which I'm going to sew assembly-line style this week. It's the middle of August and I've sewn only ONE pair of capris for summer, and they are not a favorite. I need some more go-to capris for every day. These 2 are going to be very simple pull-ons from my TNT Simplicity pattern that I've made lots of times before, but that's what I want/need for my stay-at-home/work days. Both are denim. One is a dark wash blue, and the other is brown.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gimme Some Skin

Yet another use for my TNT Ottobre tee.

I've been wanting a cover for Zillie for a long time, but I just never seemed to get a round tuit. Well, I found my tuit tonight. I'm so glad Zillie's bra, cami, and shoulder pads will never have to peek out again.

I laid out my Ottobre pattern onto some Power Dry (recognize it Mary Beth?) and then chalked on some cut-on sleeves and a high neck and cut out the two pieces. Then I serged the sides and shoulder seams and put it on Zillie wrong side out. I pinned in some darts to eliminate all the ease in the tee and sewed them on the sewing machine. The darts aren't exactly even or straight, but I don't care. I wasn't going for perfection and these are doing their job just fine. The whole process took about 30 minutes start to finish, with the Olympics on in the background.

Now all that's left is to take off the white tee Zillie is still wearing underneath this cover and to figure out what to do for the hem. I'm thinking a drawstring or elastic so the bottom cups under Zillie's bottom, but I may just let it hang free. I might close the sleeves too, but probably not. At least not until they get in the way of something. And I can see she needs a bit more shoulder padding to equal my square shoulders. But I'll need to find another tuit before I do anything.

The one thing this really enforced is how easy it would be to pin fit myself if I had a true body double. Pinning those darts on a statuary figure was like child's play compared to the contortions and trials I go through to pin fit on my own body. I think I might see a duct tape double in my future, if I can get past the reality shock. I'll need a lot of spare tuits for that.

Oh, and thanks everyone for all the nice comments on my Coldwater Creek rip-off knock-off.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Copying Coldwater Creek Knotted Keyhole Top

The original Coldwater Creek top:

My copy:


I started with the gathered front tee bodice from Ottobre Woman (02/2007). The gathered front is an important detail for the knock-off. If you don't have a pattern like this, use any tee pattern and angle/slide the top edge back from the fold about 1-1/2" to create the gathering space in the fabric. (Thanks to Belinda for that great pattern hint!)

The pattern as traced from the magazine on the left. My "huge" change, on the right.

As you can see, all that's been changed is to cut out a U shape from the front.

I used my coverstitch machine and 3/8" (A) binder to bind the U cutout. If you don't have a CS machine and/or binder, you can use your favorite binding technique. (I'm too lazy to look for links for tutorials of other binding methods so you're on your own for that.)

Next, bring both top edges of the U together and zigzag down between them for about 1", catching each side in the ZZ so they are attached flush to each other. The right side is shown below. The ZZ will be covered so don't worry about thread color or neatness.

Trim excess binding. Don't trim until now or you won't have a "handle" to hold on to for the ZZ'ing above.

Bind the neckline edge.

From a scrap, cut a strip about 4" x 6" Length is not critical here and the width is however wide you want the knot to be, plus seam allowances. I always wing it on details like this. With right sides together, join the long edges (I ran it through the serger), turn right side out and press so that the seam is in the center of what will be the back side of the knot.

Wrap the tube around the top of the U you sewed together. The reason you want to start with the tube long is so that you have something to hold on to while you sew or serge across. I serged across to make the initial knot and then used my sewing machine to zigzag closer to the neckline binding without catching the neckline. Reposition the knot so this seam is at the back/wrong side of the tee.

Pin the knot in place so it doesn't move and fold back one side. Arrange the gathers evenly and then stitch through the tee, catching the back of the knot. This will hold the knot in place so it doesn't turn and expose the seaming from the step above. Repeat for the other side of the knot. Unfold the sides of the knot you moved out of the way to stitch.

The back side of the knot after tacking it in place.

The front of the knot. Now finish the top as any other tee and you're done.

The top on me. Sorry, but the brown is too dark to see any details. Hopefully you get the general idea. Remember, you can click on any photo in this entry for a larger version.

With a nod to MasterCard

Coldwater Creek knit top: $59.50

Stash fabric, Ottobre Woman TNT pattern modified, a Sunday morning: Free

Custom fit and staying out of the mall: Priceless

Details on the How-To next post. We're off to the dog park.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Jalie 2806

Looking at these pics, the makeshift dickey/cover I made for Zillie so the contrast binding of the shirt would show looks eerily like real skin. Weird. But anyway …

The top is done, and an explanation for securing the foldover by machine is below.

I added the hem band to this one because …

… I made a skirt to wear with it.

It's my TNT Kwik Sew 3287, with a sewn-in contrast band added. I'll take some pics of me wearing these in a day or so. Today is so not a photo day.

I was doodling with ideas to try to work in the solid brown contrast, because I wanted to break up the print and tie in to the neckline binding on the top. The others were just too much.

Here's my pattern pieces with the back neckline reshaped, which I also blended into the front neckline.

So, here's how I did the neckline. First, I bound the neckline with my coverstitch machine. I clipped a bit further than the Jalie instructions because I wanted to be sure the foldover would be clear of the machine foot when I was stitching the binding. It left a little "hole" which is OK because it's about to be covered up. The wrong side of the fabric you see below is the foldover moved out of the way to take this pic, with a piece of paper under it for contrast.

Here's the foldover with the basting stitches in place and pulled to create the gathers. Once I had the gathers drawn up, I overcast the end of the foldover with my serger to hold the bottom edges together, which makes them easier to catch in the stitching that comes next. I then pinned the foldover in place on the neckline. (By the way, I placed the gathering stitches more toward the end of the foldover than the Jalie instructions show. If you follow the Jalie illustrations, they will show at the neck edge but I wanted to leave the stitches in place to hold the gathers so I moved them.)

It's now folded over to the wrong side and held by pins.

Here, the foldover is moved a bit so you can see the pins. Note that the pins do NOT go through the foldover at all. The back side of the foldover is pinned to the "middle" layer only.

To secure the foldover by machine, push the foldover out of the way and sew from the vertical CF stitch line out to the edge of the foldover. My stitching is about 7/8" long …

… and is highlighted in red below.

Push the foldover out of the way in the other direction and sew this side, as shown in red.

This is what it looks like from the wrong side. The foldover is NOT sewn all the way across. The red lines show the two separate stitch lines. They almost meet, but not quite.

You can also see that my coverstitching doesn't cover the edge of the binding on the back side. The knit I used likes to curl and I find it behaves better if I have the binder set so the bottom is a bit wider than the top.

Quick Update

TGIF!! I sure do miss my days when every day is a Saturday and all mine. LOL! But the paychecks that come every week help make up for that.

I managed to get the grocery shopping done during the week which means I do not have to go anywhere over the weekend and I can hide in my sewing room with the Olympics on the TV and sew, sew, sew. (And football pre-season games have started. Yaaahooo!! The regular season is so close I can almost taste it.)

I cut out a "good fabric" version of Jalie 2806 tonight after fixing the back neck on the pattern, and even sewed a little of it. Very little. My batteries were dying and I had already made one stupid, but thankfully easily fixable, mistake. I knew it was time to put it away for the night and start again in the morning.

DS#1 went to an audition this evening for a seasonal job at Busch Gardens for their Halloween "HalloScream" nights and he was hired! He has loved dressing up in costumes since he was about 18 months old so he should adore getting paid for it. He'll be a zombie or some such and get to sneak up on and scare park visitors with a fake chainsaw.

I think the "costume" is one of the reasons he wants to be a firefighter. (He starts school for that in a few months.) He's been hanging out at the volunteer fire department right down the road and loves how they take breaks up at Starbucks with their fireman gear on, even if they haven't actually been out on a call. Oh, and he rates driving the trucks pretty high too. Boys will always be boys! LOL!

Off to bed. Stay tuned for photos of the new Jalie top tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

More on Jalie 2806

Here's the muslin, after a night of sleeping in it. My camera is hating photographing this color for whatever reason and it looks red. It's really more magenta, very close to the pink color in the PJ pants. But that's neither here nor there — let's talk about the actual top.

It's very long and I've tugged it up on my hips so it's not hanging as I'd really prefer, making it look baggy and messy. But overall, the fit is very good. The only place I need to adjust for the next, and non-PJ, version is to lower the back neckline. I had this same problem with the Sweetheart top and after thinking about it a few minutes, I realized that I've had this problem with most (or even all?) Jalie tops that I've made. Does Jalie draft for a rounded back, which I do not have? I don't know. But I have to guess yes, because I don't have this problem with other pattern companies or even RTW.

I made no alterations to the pattern except to blend between sizes as I traced. I started with a straight CC (16) for the neck, shoulders and armhole height and moved out at the sideseam edge of the armhole to the EE, and then stayed with the EE all the way down. Oh wait, I did make one actual alteration, but I did this before I cut out my tracing. I altered the shoulders for my square shoulders by 3/8" and raised the bottom of the armhole the same amount.

Although there is a slight dart in the form of a wrinkle trying to form at the bust, I'm not going to do an FBA. This is a tee shirt and it's perfectly normal for a tee shirt to have these folds without a sewn dart. Yes, I could make an FBA and transfer it to that gathered foldover. But frankly, there's already enough gathers/ease there and I don't want to increase the bulk.

Before I went to bed, I had finished the top and figured out what I was going to do to change the construction methods I didn't like. I'm happy to report there will be no handsewing on the final top. And there already isn't any on this one, as I secured the foldover by machine and then ripped out the hand stitches. I'll take photos as I'm making the next version and hopefully they'll turn out and I can make up a quick tutorial.

Jalie tees need a few more slight adjustments compared to my still-favorite Ottobre tees, but nothing complicated and so I think Jalies are now my #2 favorite for knit tops. One of these days, I'm going to try one of their patterns for woven.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Deer in the Headlights

It's like a mug shot, isn't it? LOL! The boys finally made it home tonight, after staying an extra day and a half. Who could blame them? Hanging out with your cool older brother and going out to all sorts of places is much more fun that being at home with the parents. They're in bed already, at barely after 11 PM. But before he disappeared for the night, I did manage to grab some modeled shots of the latest shirt.

Here's the back. It seems to be a tiny bit snug across his backside, but it could be the way he's standing, which is basically the "Mom, hurry up!" pose. I'll make a note to check it again for next time.

And since we're doing mug shots, I'll include a profile too.

The other action in the sewing room tonight is the start of a muslin for Jalie 2806. I'm not loving the neckband/binding. Because it's not really a binding, it doesn't sandwich the neckline and is too floppy when the fold-over section crosses it. I've already decided that I'll trim off the seam allowances and bind the neckline "properly" with my coverstitch machine. But I'll have to change up the construction order a bit so that the fold-over section doesn't get caught up. I'm also not especially thrilled with handstitching required to tack down the fold-over on the wrong side. It seems kind of "happy hands at home" to me. I think there's got to be a better way, so I'll contemplate that while I sleep. ;-)

I haven't tried it on yet. I'm going to go sew in the sleeves and then the sideseams before I go to bed. It's destined to be a PJ top if it's wearable. If not, it will hit the trash.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

My Model Is Out of Town

But he gets another new shirt as a surprise upon his return, and then I'll get a couple of photos of him wearing it.

In the meantime Zillie is standing in. She's bra-less but still has a womanly figure that this man's shirt just doesn't quite fit. But the general idea is there if you ignore Zillie's hips and the shirt straining across her bust.

For this version, I traced some of the pattern pieces so I could split the two-piece front into three pieces for a contrast section in the middle of each front. I did the pattern work during a lunch break a few days ago. Then I cut in spurts over the next couple of days and finally sewed the shirt last night.

Another pattern change was to cut the back yoke in two pieces so I could chevron the stripes.

The striped fabric is an olive green nylon (I think) knit and the thin black stripes are sheer, like a burn-out effect. I didn't use interfacing anywhere because it would show through. I knew this would make the buttonholes tricky but I used a water soluble stabilizer top and bottom and they didn't fight me too much. I had to make horizontal buttonholes, though, because of that sheer stripe even though I would've preferred them to be vertical. But I wasn't going to chance buttonholes running next to that sheer stripe. The wide black stripe is more of the same black from the last make of this shirt, a cotton/poly blend knit.

Here's the shirt laid out flat. Both wide black stripes do actually curve like the left side is doing in this photo, but I guess I smooshed the right side in a bit more when I was laying it out on my table.

Besides incorporating extra hip room for DS per the previous shirt, the final alteration I made was to change the collar, using Nancy Zieman's Express Collar method. This way, there is no seam at the front of the collar, which I think looks better for a knit. I did this for the last shirt too, but I forgot to mention it in my review.

Here's the diagram from Sewing Express:

And my altered pattern piece:

Usually, the CB seam will be on the undercollar but because I wanted the stripes to lay diagonally on the collar points, I flipped it over and put the seam to the outside, as you can see in the photo of the back of the shirt above.

I've used this collar method before and am wondering why I don't use it more often. It means there's only one pattern piece (and interfacing) to cut, on the fold, and it really makes collars go faster.

I can't wait to see this on DS. I think the green will look great with his shocking red hair. But I'll have to wait as he won't be back home until Monday.

Both of my sons drove up to Jacksonville, FL to spend the weekend with their 26-year old half-brother (DH's son from marriage #1) and to be "stage crew" for his band's show tonight. I can only imagine what trouble they're getting into. ;-) They are all really close and always have a great time together. They are the only boys between our two blended families and they have a strong bond. We're so "blended" that my DS#2 and my stepson's sister share the same birthday. And his mother and I have birthdays only 1 day apart, but she's older. Nyah, nyah. LOL!

There won't be anymore sewing for me for a few days as I have some icky paperwork to catch up on. But when that's done, I've got a list 5 miles long …