Monday, May 25, 2009

And Yet Another

All Simplicity 4122. Two wovens, two knits. I love them all, but I think it might be time to put this pattern away for a while so my entire summer tops wardrobe is not this one pattern, as I do still wear the first two from last summer.

For this one, I left off the front button closure and just cut the front pieces on the fold.

I decided to change this one up a little more and added a "faux" tie to the center front. I like this change as it gives the neckline a slightly vee shape, making it not quite so obvious it's the same exact pattern as the other three tops above.

No further progress on the jeans. I really thought I'd have a long sewing weekend, but we ended up doing other things. Saturday, I had to hang around in limbo waiting for people to show up to look at the boys' old beds I had listed on Craig's List. If they hadn't been sold, they were on their way to Goodwill because I was so tired of them taking up 1/2 of the garage. Around that, we were picking up all the tree debris in the yard from the storms (still raining but at least it's back to the normal Florida pattern of sunny with afternoon t-storms).

Yesterday I took the bed proceeds and bought a new gas grill with my sons in tow. They picked it out, telling me that they should have the final say since THEY would be doing the cooking. I noted this for posterity and then agreed. After bringing it home and setting it up, we then went to the grocery store and picked up some great NY Strip steaks, some fresh squash, and potatoes and had a DELICIOUS grilled meal. DS#2's girlfriend joined us and brought a dozen cupcakes for dessert. She knows DS's sweet tooth well because there exactly TWO left when I woke up this morning.

Today, though, I was determined to sew and finish something, which is why I chose another Simp 4122. I may get back into the sewing room after dinner (grilled lime chicken) and work on the jeans pattern. If not, it's still been a very relaxing and enjoyable weekend. I didn't work a lick since Friday.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Rain Rain Go AWAY!

Where is this place called The Sunshine State? It's been raining here for almost a week. And by rain, I mean ALL DAY POURING CATS AND DOGS. It *never* rains here more than a few hours at a time. Even during a Hurricane. The forecast for the next 5 days? Rain. And more rain. Seriously, I haven't seen this much rain day after day, night after night, in the 20 years we've lived here. It's making me crabby and sleepy. I haven't seen sunshine in days.

The dogs are going stir crazy because we've only made mad dashes outside to "take care of business" but they have no interest in staying outside anyway. They think they do when we head to the door but then they step one foot out and run for cover. I feel the same way. And I have a football game to go to tomorrow night. Ugh. At least I bought a new huge umbrella the other week because it was in school colors and I know where it is. (Dripping wet in my garage.)

OK, I feel (a little) better now. We really do need the rain because we've been in a record drought for years, but the upside of a drought is the great weather every day. I'm missing that.

So, needless to say I haven't made one iota of progress in the sewing room. All I want to do is take naps. If only I could. But I did sew the waistband onto the J Stern Women's Jeans pattern after dinner tonight and that helps the muslin a little. I still will have to add to the crotch length and remove leg length, but I'm optimistic that I'll work out these and my usual fit issues and end up with some nice jeans. It's going to be slow going though so don't expect instant gratification. ;-)

Here's a quick but terrible pic, with one knee forward. You can see my actual knee level marked by the red line and the pattern knee level in black on the muslin. You can see that I'm standing on at least 4 inches of extra length. And you can also see the tummy bulging over the wide elastic holding up the muslin. Feel free to ignore that.

Here's the only other movement in the sewing room this week - my fabrics from Fabricmart arrived yesterday. Left to right: poly/Lycra matte jersey, rayon/Lycra jersey, stretch poplin, ITY jersey, stretch cotton. It's nearly summer so my heart is leaning toward aquas and greens as it seems to do around this time each year.

A number of people commented asking for more information on "wearable" poly knits. I wish I had the answer, but it's a crap shoot for me. And it really depends on your own tolerances too. Many people can't wear poly knits ever. I can usually tell what will work for me by the feel but since I can't feel the fabric when buying online, I do end up with some winter-only fabrics. The print on the left above is one for winter. It just feels warm and heavy when I pick it up. The print second from the right feels lighter and drapier, like it will work for summer. The ITY knits seem to be mostly the "good" polys. I've had the most luck with them.

Truthfully, though, *anything* is torture to wear here in West Central Florida in August when the humidity is a steady 150% and you start dripping the moment you set one toe outside. Cottons do breathe better but they stay wet and icky. The good polys wick the moisture away from the skin and the evaporation process is actually slightly cooling, as if anything is cool here in August. ;-) My favorite summer knit fabric is a high quality rayon/Lycra knit. They feel cool to the touch, breathe, and wear like iron through multiple washings. I tend to buy some of all that I find in the colors/prints I like.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

J Stern Women's Jeans: First Impression

Just a few sentences about my initial impression of the J Stern jeans after my first muslin.

I have mixed feelings, which I always get when something doesn't fit me right out of the envelope. Which means I feel this way about 99.99% of the things I make. ;-)

1. They are definitely shaped like modern jeans. I am not.

I do not have thin legs. I added an additional 1/2" to inseam and outseam before cutting my muslin and the first try does fit my leg width. (This is actually a good sign for me, especially since I had serious doubts when looking at the pattern pieces.)

2. They are very low-rise. I am not.

I added about 1.5" to the rise of these jeans, front and back, before cutting out and they are still very low. I didn't sew on the waistband yet and that will help some. But I will definitely need more crotch length for these to feel comfortable.

3. They are designed for very long legs. I am not.

The pattern knee hits about 3-4" below my knee and I'm drowning in the overall leg length. And I'm NOT that short (about 5'5.5") nor are my legs proportionately short.

On the bright side, all of these issues are fairly simple to fix and the pattern is marked very well both for body landmarks and lengthen/shorten lines. The pieces all fit together exactly right and the instructions seem thorough and even friendly. I do admit to not reading them completely yet because I can sew jeans in my sleep.

I will make these adjustments in spurts during the week and will cut and sew another muslin. At that point, I'll be ready to evaluate my usual fit issues which are being masked by the various lengths being wrong for me.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Hello Mojo

The mojo was back with a vengeance today, and all I can say is it's about time!

First up was clearing the mending and UFO's off the sewing table, and by clearing I mean actually doing the work. Two pairs of DS's shorts needed pocket repair. One on the front inside pocket bag. The other, to re-attach a back cargo pocket which had come unsewn down one side. (Sometimes I think I would like to be a fly on the wall at school to see exactly WHAT he does to his clothes.) Last was to *finally* hem the CJ wrap top I almost finished weeks ago.

With a clear conscience and clear table, I was free to sew the Jalie 2806 I had cut out last night. Get out your sunglasses, this print is not dull. ;-)

I bought this fabric on a whim a few months ago with a bunch of other prints. I wasn't sure if I liked it or not, especially with all that black in it and me not wearing black. The next worry was where all the circular designs would land. I had only bought 1.5 yds so there wasn't much wiggle room and I had to just lay down the pattern, cut, and hope for the best.

I'm quite pleased with this top and the fabric now that it's done, except I think I need a pair of white capris to wear with it. The motifs are not smack on the boobs or the butt. Whew! The fabric is one of the "good" polys — great drape and feels comfortable even during the 90+ degree days we're now stuck with for the next 6 months.

This is the view of this pattern with the foldover neckline gathers. It's my 3rd time making it (4th if you count my PJ top/muslin) and it won't be the last.

Pardon Zillie's rear end. The photographer (me!) didn't notice the fabric was hung up until the card was out of the camera and into the card reader. Oops.

The mojo was still in high gear after finishing that top, so I thought I'd get out my TNT Ottobre gathered neckline pattern and make that again. Except as I was starting to put away the Jalie, it occurred to me that the Jalie was also a gathered neckline tee and, well, what the heck, let's try it.

This fabric is much more Florida-friendly cotton/Lycra jersey. Very nice stuff from The Fabric Fairy.

This top is a keeper too, but I still prefer the Ottobre tee. The Jalie is much more gathered and looser all the way down the front. But since I've made at least 10 Ottobres, a little change isn't a bad thing, especially since I know I'll be making many more of the Ottobres for years to come. On this top, I bound the neckline and the sleeve hems with a brown knit from the stash.

Before the mojo starting begging for mercy, I got out my new J Stern jeans pattern and pressed the tissue so it's ready to cut and muslin in the morning. If it works for me and I can find some white denim, it will be the white capris I now want for the bright top above.

This last shot is just to show that I have actually hemmed this top. I think it hung on Zillie for a month with threads dangling. For some reason, I just could never make myself sew the hems until today. Weird, because I have been wanting to wear it and the coverstitch machine was already set up with the correct brown threads and needle positions. Mojo is odd that way and there's just no fighting the direction it takes.

So now I have three new tops to pick from tomorrow for my exciting outing to the grocery store.

Nothing To Show Yet

I'm definitely sewing this weekend and have a Jalie top cut out and waiting, but while that's in progress I thought I'd show you something that makes me giggle.

I did some "above and beyond" for one of my company's suppliers and she sent me a thank you gift. This is the Beetle Bag, by English Retreads. It's made from reclaimed truck inner tubes. And it really smells like tires, which makes me laugh. This is one sturdy bag which ought to last forever.

The front:

The back (complete with the authentic inner tube blue stripe):

Lining choices (I chose Apple Green):

Isn't this a hoot? And good for the environment too, 100% vegan and repurposing landfill-destined inner tubes. I know I'm weird, but I can't help putting my face on it and sniffing every time I walk past it.

Friday, May 8, 2009

First New Summer Top

Just a quick update. My mom is in town and I'm really supposed to be in the dining room chatting. But I needed a little internet break. ;-)

(ETA photo on Zillie)

I forced my mojo back because I wanted a new top to wear while my mom was here. As I was wearing a previous make of Simp 4122, I decided I'd sew another one but using a knit. I cut this out and started sewing it a few days ago. All that was left was to sew the sideseam, hem the sleeves and bottom, and do something for a closure.

My mom and I decided last night we'd go shopping and to lunch today, so a mad dash to the sewing room this morning to finish the top. Forty minutes later it was all done, but with a couple of shortcuts. I hemmed the sleeves but ran elastic through the hem allowance to gather up the bottom. Then I overlapped and sewed the front plackets shut and sewed on 2 white buttons at the neckline, no buttonholes. The fabric is rayon/Lycra knit and is *so* comfortable. I love this top!

It's View D below, but with a lowered/widened neckline and the sleeve hems from View B.

More knits arrived in the mail yesterday and the mojo is definitely back because I can't wait to make more new tops.