Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"Why are we sewers our own worst critics??"

KMQ: "Debbie I agree with you...your ensemble looks like much so that if you ship it to me I'll wear it and kick the crap out of anybody that says I ain't the sh*@. LOL. I think your outfit looks just perfect. Why are we sewers our own worst critics??"

I promise, I'm not singling you out as a bad thing, KMQ. I got your meaning and giggled. But your last statement had me scratching my head a little.

Was I being my own worst critic? If so, I didn't mean to be. I point out sewing flaws only on this blog, not in real life. Trust me, I'm not one of those people who gets a compliment and then follows it up with a self-deprecating sidenote. I say "Thank you" and smile.

But KMQ's comment made me think I should explain that I point out sewing flaws here so that maybe others can avoid them or learn from them, or even just simply relate. Sewing is solitary and sometimes it's nice to know we're not alone in our joys or our oopsies.

For instance, the pattern matching being a little bit off across the front of the fleece jacket? I can live with it. Really. I promise, it's not going to bug me every time I look at it. I know (as another commenter said) I'll either be in motion when wearing this in real life or it will be unzipped. I know probably no one will even notice anyway, least of all mention it. But do I wish it was a perfect match? Yes, I do. I'm happier when I don't make mistakes. I think that's normal. I admit that I can be a little OCD about fixing mistakes if something is fixable. But if it's not, or I'm out of fabric or time, oh well. Move on, next project. I've also learned that as a finished garment ages, I stop noticing my mistakes and enjoy the creation as a whole.

So, by my pointing out that I forgot to figure in the zipper when matching the print, I was hoping we could all learn something, and by typing it out, that *I* might remember for the next time. My memory works better if I've made a note somewhere, even if I never look at that note again.

That's all.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

McCall's 5981 - Finished

It's done, and I like it better now with some sleeves although I'm still hating the mismatch across the front. Sigh. Hopefully, I can wear it open most of the time until I get over it.

I also like it better with the edge of the collar gathered up a little so it's not hanging over the shoulders. Note to self: Buy real cording, the fleece scrap as cord ain't cutting it. ;-) With the collar gathered like this, it's not quite so linebacker-y. I like the similar oversized collar on the Vogue cardigan, but in fleece like this jacket, a big collar is also a very thick collar.

(Once again, the colors are all wrong. The fleece is black just like the pants, but in the photo it's quite washed out looking, which makes the print pop more than it does in real life. Ah well. Please use your imagination.)

If it happens to get really cold, I can also rearrange the collar like this:

Fleece sticks to itself so the collar will stay like this without any fasteners, but maybe I will think about some sort of a more secure button & elastic loop at a later time. I do wish the neckline was higher without the collar arranged upward. If I were to make this again, I would definitely raise it. It's pretty to look at as drafted, but quite impractical if you need to stay warm and don't have a scarf handy.

Oh, the other stupid part of this pattern? The collar is a big rectangle, but you're told to cut it as two pieces and seam it at what will be center back. Pffft. I cut mine on the fold and eliminated a step and a bulky seam that would only get in the way when attaching collar to neckline.

I'm not sure what's up next. I may start the red floral denim jacket or I may start on a new nightgown. Probably the jacket, since it will take longer and I can always bring "old" PJs if I run out of time.

Actually, what should be up next is a bit of vacuuming in the sewing room. The floor is barely visible through the thread snips and fabric scraps. ;-)

Monday, October 25, 2010

McCall's 5981 Progress Report

(The print is MUCH more subdued than it looks here and the colors are a bit off. It's always a crap shoot as to what the digicam will do to a fabric.)

Ah, the joys of pattern alterations. I was spoiled sewing all those already-altered TNTs recently. Yesterday was spent finishing up the B/W top from last weekend and then cutting out the jacket pattern and doing an FBA. I did not make a muslin. It's fleece. It's stretchy. And if it somehow fits horribly, I'm indifferent enough that I'll probably just toss it. The fleece has been in the stash for years and years and it's good to finally use it up.

So far, it's coming along OK, but I'm not quite thrilled. The neckline is too low, as you can see with the B/W top I left on Zillie underneath. I don't think I'll have time to go to a Plan B, so I'll just have to suck it up and hope that it's not cold enough to need to zip it up. (No wonder the pattern envelope shows a turtleneck worn underneath.) I also feel kind of linebacker-ish with all that gathered collar. It's a lot of collar. But I'll keep plugging ahead because I have been known to change my mind. ;-) And at this point, all that's left are the sleeves and hems and then I can make a final judgment.

My pattern matching across the front is so-so. The exposed zipper chops it up and I didn't allow for that. If there was no zipper, the motifs would abut and match great. Oh well.

The pattern itself goes together well and everything seems to match up fine. But the instructions have got to be the WORST I have ever seen for a fleece jacket, or knits in general. Things such as fusing interfacing to the facings (you can't press polarfleece on high heat), easing and setting in sleeves in the round, and setting in the zipper in a way I can't even begin to explain except to say that you are somehow supposed to leave the front facing unsewn between the top/collar edge and the hem allowance and then kind of stick the zipper in and fold/press the fabric and facing around it. WTF! Crack smoking writers for sure on this one. If I remember, I'll share the instructions in a later post so you all can have a good laugh too.

I omitted the patch pockets because I didn't want a big wad of fleece hem allowances at my hips. Instead, I added single-layer pocket bags behind the fronts and made sideseam openings. Just like the green Vogue cardigan I recently made. So much like it, in fact, that i just stole those pattern pieces and used them. ;-)

Living in Florida, I don't sew a lot of polarfleece — although I should, judging by the abundant stock at the local Joann's. ;-) It really is such an enjoyable fabric to sew with though, so maybe I should do more fleece gifts. Fleece projects always seem to go fast and minor mistakes are easily hidden in the pile. Not that I've made any.

On another subject, my son is down to his last 30 days of boot camp and I can hardly wait to see him! He's doing very well, his spirits remain high, and we continue to receive lots of letters from him. Those letters are the highlight of my day when they come and stalking the mailman has become the daily routine. I am so glad he's turned out to be a good letter-writer (my son, not the mailman!).

Have a good week!

Monday, October 18, 2010

A TNT Tops Weekend

Another productive weekend, and I'm done with sewing tops for my trip. Well, I may decide to sew one solid, but we'll see how that fits in when I'm done with everything else. I was tempted to stray into new pattern-land, but then I came to my senses and remembered I'm on a deadline so I just kept plugging away with the TNTs.

First up is Jalie 2806. Nothing too exciting here. The print will go with all the pants I'm bringing (jeans, brown, green, and black). I borrowed belled long sleeves from an Ottobre pattern (not my TNT below) and finished them with an elastic casing so I can push them up when I feel smothered — which is always in long-sleeved tops.

Next, I stole the flounce from this Butterick 5493 and …

… morphed it onto my all-time TNT tee, the Ottobre Woman 05/2007.

The print doesn't thrill me but it will work with all 4 pants, and it will be fine for just lazing around at my mom's or in the car.

I also added a second flounce, which is just a duplicated and shortened version of the original from the Butterick pattern. I was also going to fully bind the neckline (w/o CS machine, due to bulk) but before I turned it, I decided I liked it unturned and floppy. It goes with the flounces. I finished the edges of it and the flounces with a wide 3-thread stitch on my serger. I'll revisit those flounces with another fabric/top in the near future. This top also got the belled Ottobre sleeves with an elastic wrist casing.

Finally, a TNT from the past that I wore to death a few years ago. I decided it was time to bring it back. (Mostly because it's so fast to sew!) Kwik Sew 3378, the twist front top.

Technically, this top will only go with my jeans and my black velour pants. But really, it's just black and white (neutral) so I can wear it with the green pants too. The tie is maybe too long, but I'm toying with the idea of adding a buckle (a la the Jalie tie top), if I can find the one I know I have around here somewhere. If not, I may shorten it or I may just tie it in a bow. I also haven't finished the sleeve hems yet. I'm deciding if I want to add a vented cuff to them or just straight hem them. I don't usually wear black or black/white, so this one is a deviation for me. I love the fabric though, so I'm sure I'll wear it a lot, which is why it got 3/4 sleeves for Florida.

It's hard to see the twist in these photos, but it's there.

Next up is a fleece jacket. I'll be using a mostly black fleece, which has been sitting it the stash for a LONG time because it is black. But since I'm bringing the black pants, it's now or never for it. It will also match the green pants (and jeans, of course).

After the fleece, then the red floral denim jacket. And maybe a new nightgown if I have time.

I'm probably overpacking since I'll have access to laundry at my mom's, but the range of possible temperatures for the end of November is really cramping my "pack light" self-directive. I will need layer options in case I end up freezing my butt off and I will also take one already-made short-sleeved top (probably the HP Sunshine top) in case it's actually warm. I'll just wash and wear it and the USMC tee every day if I have to. LOL!

So, let me recap what I think I'm bringing:

4 pairs of pants
4-5 long-sleeved tops
1 short-sleeved top
1 USMC tee
1 nightgown (to be made)
1 long-ish cardigan
1 brown zip-up jacket
1 fleece jacket (in the car, not suitcase)
1 denim jacket
socks, undies
black flats
brown flats

Is that too much for a week? Remember, I will be wearing one of the combos for the drives so not quite everything is going into the suitcase. I wanted to bring my HP Riviera jacket and another top, but I've talked myself out of those because that IS too much. What am I forgetting?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Burda Plus Magazine 02-2008 #404, and more

I'm feeling productive this morning as I actually did everything I had planned for the sewing room this weekend. That doesn't happen too often.

First, I finished up the fiddly tasks, which included hemming the sleeves of the Vogue cardigan, adding hem facings to my brown pants to finally finish the edges, and adding back pockets to the green pants that match the Vogue cardigan.

Next up, I cut out and sewed this top:

The pattern is from the February 2008 issue of Burda Plus magazine, design #404. I've made this top two times before so it's a TNT, but this is my first one with long sleeves. The first time I made this, the final pattern was morphed between the Burda pattern and my TNT Ottobre 02/2007 tees. Ottobre fits me better in the armhole and has better knit sleeves drafts. Burda's sleevecaps for knits are always way too high.

You can't see much detail in my photo, but the neckline is shirred with elastic thread. The line drawing below shows that better.

Finally, last night I cut another Jalie 2806 (the scoopneck waterfall top), with sleeves borrowed from another Ottobre top. The fabric for this is a print which will go with my brown and green pants, plus a pair of RTW black velour pants I've decided I'm taking on the trip. I hope to work on this top in bits and pieces during the week.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bread Buddy Tutorial

I know you've all long forgotten been waiting impatiently for the tutorial. It's finally up at Moda Bake Shop, here.

Moda Bake Shop

I never realized the scorn I'd receive about some of the bread that comes into this house, and it looks like the comments (OK, only one so far) followed me to Moda Bake Shop too. The shame!! lol

I was supposed to have Fat Quarters from Moda to offer as a giveaway in conjunction with the MBS posting, but they seem to have been lost in the mail. I've been assured that at some point I will have them and I will offer them up to my readers at that time … and again open myself up to more bread flames. ;-)

Enjoy. (Or not.)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Vogue 8546 Finished

Well, almost finished. I still need to hem the sleeves but I'm out of the thread I was using so I need to go get more first.

The fabric underneath is just that — fabric. But it will become a top to take along on the trip. It has greens which match this cardigan (jacket?) and the matching pants perfectly. I've been hoarding this piece for years, but its time has come.

I opted for a lazy fast & easy closure method. I sewed ties to the inside fronts and called it done. The "lapels" of the jacket hide where they're attached and they don't show when worn open, even with movement. I really only want something to hold the fronts together on a windy day so I don't take off into the clouds. These ties will do the trick and won't get in the way on other days.

I finished the entire edge with a 2-thread stitch on my serger. Because it's unlined and the reverse side shows as the lapels, there's really no way to turn under a hem and not have the wrong side show somewhere. The edging thread looks shiny in the photos, but it's not. It's just plain sewing thread, nothing fancy. There's a lot of distance to cover and I had to do two passes because my serger decided to mess up on one section for no reason at all. Stupid serger. ;-) (This is why I ran out of thread before I could hem the sleeves.) But everything happens for a reason since I actually like the edge better with the second pass.

The hood is not elegant at all, both in how it lays on the finished garment and how it's sewn. I think I'd like to make this pattern again but I will definitely be turning the hood into a flat collar before I do. Even when I manually lay it all nice, there's still a big weird fold in the middle.

But truthfully, unless I have a valet dressing me, it will never lay that nice and will look like this mess instead. Good thing I don't have to look at my rear view.

As you can see, I did manage to eek out the pattern onto the green fabric. My less-than-2 yards was considerably less than what the pattern calls for. I did have to shorten the cardigan to make it fit on the fabric, but only 1/2" by just folding the pattern up at the bottom. But since I didn't turn a hem, I gained that length back anyway.

I also had to cut the pocket bags from another fabric. You can see it peeking out when I pull on the pocket. But I do have to pull for it to be obvious that there's a non-matching fabric in there. So, no big deal at all. No one else will ever notice. (My topstitching looks horrible here, but it's a weird camera angle and I swear it's even.) And, of course, I had no fabric left for a self-belt, but I wasn't planning to make one anyway.

Overall, I like this cardigan a lot. It reminds me of a favorite coat I had in the '80s, which had a throw-over-your-shoulder cape/cowl kind of thing. I loved that coat.

Someone mentioned in the comments that they were unsure if this would be flattering to larger busts. I think it's very flattering, because those lapels totally hide what's underneath and the big vee shape makes one's eyes follow that and not rest on the bust area. One day, I'll be photo-ready and get a pic of me wearing this. No promises as to exactly when that will be. ;-)

Next up will be some tops for the trip, but I haven't decided what pattern & fabric combos yet.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Vogue 8546 Muslin

First, this is just a muslin. I don't care how many readers may be inclined to say they love it but this horrible shiny purple polyester fabric will not be leaving the house. Ever. I mean it. ;-) But it does make a good test fabric for the pattern because the hand and stretch are similar to the good stuff.

Overall, so far, so good. I cut the pattern blending between shoulder and hip sizes as usual and then cut the ugly fabric without any other alteration to get a starting point. I also wanted to see how it all goes together before I'm working on the real thing, because it's not lined and the back side of the hood seam is what shows per the pattern. All seam allowances are topstitched like a faux welt seam would be so it's not like there would be loose seam allowances flapping around.

I totally screwed up when sewing the sleeves though and ended up with seam allowances on the outside. Hah! Good thing this was a test or I'd have a lot of ripping to do. Serves me right for only half paying attention. But I did decide that I can sew just the hood seam opposite of the instructions and end up with the better side showing. Realistically, I'm just not going to be using the hood that much (ever?) and if I do, it means the weather is horrible and no one is going to be looking at my hood seam. ;-) I'd rather have the nicer part showing when the hood is down.

As to fit, I'm happy to say that it's pretty darn good. Which tells me this pattern has a LOT of ease. I need to add some more room at the back hip (a/k/a my butt), but other than that, no other alterations are needed. There's plenty of bust room and the center fronts do meet. The sleeves fit in both length and width over a long-sleeved top. Bust and waist levels seem to be good. It's a raglan and my square shoulders don't seem to be an issue — I lifted the collar/hood to check, but it would hide any problems if there was something to hide.

I am going to shorten it all around about 3 inches but only because I'm squeezing this onto a finite piece of fabric and if I don't shorten it, it won't fit. I'm still not 100% sure my fabric is big enough. I think I need to lay it all out and pin it while on the floor to be sure. Fingers crossed, because I really want to make this from the green fabric, not the brown.

The last issue is a closure. The pattern calls for a belt. I don't want a self-fabric or purchased belt because I'm not going to wear this closed very often and I don't have enough fabric for a self-belt anyway. But if it's windy, I will have fabric blowing all over so I think I need something. I'm thinking a couple of well-placed buttons and loops and/or hidden ties will do the trick. We'll see if I can come up with a solution without expending too much brain power. I am trying to get *something* finished for my trip after all and brain power takes time.

So now I'm off to fight the masses so I can restock the food pantry and after that, I'll pick up on this project again. The sewing part is easy. I just need to spend some quality time with my cutting and marking.

Friday, October 1, 2010


OK, so the mostly-finished jeans are out due to a fabric deficiency. I haven't tried any washing additives, but I might, so I haven't tossed them yet. But this wrench in my plans got me to re-evaluate what I already have and think about a new direction.

I still want jeans, but I'm not desperate so I'll put those on the back burner for the moment. I always have the Turkey Pants if needed and it will be Thanksgiving after all. ;-)

I've decided these green doubleknit HP Marrakesh pants are definitely going on the trip. They fit well, look nice, and are comfortable. The ginger colored Riviera jacket you can see peeking at the edges might be going on the trip too. Depends on what I actually get made from my new plan and what goes with what when I'm done.

I still have enough of the green doubleknit left to make a simple jacket or vest, so I'm going to do that. These pants will also go with the red floral print I've picked for the denim jacket (which is still on my list, just a little further down at the moment).

My main goal right now is to be able to look nicer than jeans and a tee shirt but still pack sensibly and, as much as possible, to avoid garments that need ironing. We'll be packed pretty tight in the car once we get my son's gear loaded in. So, I'm going to try to stick to mostly knits, without looking like I'm wearing sweat pants. ;-) I'll probably plan on repeat outfits since we'll have access to my mom's laundry room and that will allow me to pack/make less.

I also have these brown doubleknit pants made from one of my TNT pants patterns. They're cool weather favorites so I think they'll be going too, but I need to add some length to them because right now, they aren't hemmed and are just raw-edged. That's OK for around home, but not for a trip. I still have some of this fabric too, so I'll probably just face the hems or add a band. I should have done this already, but was just too complacent.

The jacket is good to go, but I think I'd rather have something a little nicer/newer (this jacket saw a LOT of wear last year — I'm tired of it) and so I may also make a jacket or cardigan out of the leftovers.

What I do need is some long-sleeved tops. It shouldn't be that cold in SC at the end of November, but it will definitely be long-sleeve weather for me and I don't have many in the closet. I'll pull out TNT patterns and knit prints for those tops.

Easy jacket patterns I'm thinking about, which hopefully will not require much in the way of alterations:

Vogue 8546

McCall's 5981