Sunday, September 30, 2007

99.99% Finished

The only thing left to do is to press up and coverstitch the bottom hem.

If I had to do anything over, it would be to raise the waistband just a little because it's slightly too low in the back. But not enough to stop me from wearing it. Besides, I don't look at my own back, right? ;-)

It's very comfortable and the loose, flowy style is good with the poly fabric since it allows air to circulate. It's still over 90 degrees here during the day and will be for a while yet, so air circulation is a must.

These pics were taken during my pin-fitting of the sideseams.

I'm not used to wearing dolman sleeves these days but even so, I thought they were hanging a bit low and long, especially since I hadn't added the sleevebands yet. There was also too much ease at the waist and hips. I chopped about 3 inches off the sleeve length (before bands) and reshaped the underarm curve higher and tapered it down to the bottom hem to incorporate removing about an inch from each side at the waist and hips.

With the sleevebands sewn on, the finished sleeve length is not a whole lot shorter than what you see here, maybe an inch shorter. But with my arms at my sides, the bands are above the level of the horizontal line at the waist, which is what I wanted so the wide expanse would be broken up visually. With the slightly longer short sleeves than what I usually wear in the summer, the top won't scream "Summer" in the middle of December when I'll probably still be wearing it and wishing for cooler weather.

This is the back side of the modesty panel. To place it, I put the top on Zillie and then pinned a folded and pressed scrap of the print behind the neckline. (For the panel, I put the stretch going up and down so it wouldn't give when being worn.) I carefully pinned it to the seam allowances where the neckbands meet the bodice body. Then I sewed the panel to those seam allowances and trimmed away the excess, resulting in the shape you see above. The bottom of the panel is raw edges. I may end up hand-tacking the panel to the inside layer of the neckbands at the top, but I'll see how it wears without doing that. So far, it stays in place just fine so tacking it probably won't be necessary.

Since it's Sunday and no make-up and icky clothes day, I'll take a pic of me in the finished top in the next day or so. Maybe after I've made some pants to wear with this.

Coming Along

We had lots of errands to catch up on so I didn't get a whole lot of time in the sewing room today, but I did make some progress. This pic makes it look like the top is further along than it really is. But turn Zillie around and you'll see there's an important bit missing.

I still need to sew on the back waistband and lower bodice section, plus I think I'll need to shorten the sleeves somewhat before I sew on the sleeve bands. It was hard for me to judge the length of the dolman sleeves when making the pattern without being able to try it on.

Today I attached the front waist band, front lower bodice and I created and attached a modesty panel for the cleavage area. ClaireSondra, the reason I don't want to wear a cami underneath is simple — I just don't. ;-) More precisely, this fabric is nice and drapey and I don't want it to get hung up on an underlayer and I don't want to fiddle with keeping both layers in their correct places. Plus, I like how Sigrid's top looks with the panel made of matching print, like it's more planned instead of something there just to cover up.

I took a chance and didn't make a trial muslin but I think this one is going to fit fine especially given the more loose and forgiving style, but I'll pin the sideseams tomorrow, try it on and tweak if needed.

Thanks everyone for the nice comments welcoming me back. I didn't really go anywhere but something had to give for a while so I could cram 28 hours into every day. It was a busier than usual summer but things are starting to fall into a better routine so I should be around more regularly now. Still, it's nice to be missed and I thank you for that.

Friday, September 28, 2007

In the Pink (and Brown)

A recent topic on the Pattern Review message board about sharpening pinking shears detoured into a side discussion about how those who have pinking shears don't really use them anymore now that they use rotary cutters for cutting out patterns and sergers for finishing seams. Among other things, pinking shears are/were used when cutting out so that the raw edges of the seam allowances wouldn't fray.

I've never used pinking shears for cutting out in my recent sewing, although I do remember my mom using them so I probably did too when I was a kid. But I do use mine now on a regular basis for other tasks. And yes, my pinking shears are actually pink. I did that on purpose because I thought it was amusing at the time. These are Fiskars brand and cost about $35 when I bought them about 10 years ago. That was a lot of $$ to me then for a cutting implement since I didn't really sew at the time. I bought them for other fabric crafts. Anyway, they're still as sharp now as when new. I mention this because Fiskars get a bad rap in the PR discussion and not all Fiskars are cheapos. It's probably another case of different grades of a certain brand and getting what you pay for.

My pinking shears are always within reach so they're handy when I need them. One of my favorite uses for them is to clip curves. Instead of actually clipping or notching a curve with regular scissors/shears, I pink the curves close to the seamline (after pressing open). The seam allowance is then trimmed and notched in one step and getting the seam to lay flat after turning right sides out is a breeze because the pinked notches and narrow seam allowance remove all the bulk that can hamper a good, smooth curve.

I also use my pinking shears to grade seam allowances, as you can see in the photo below. In this instance the bulk of two pressed-open seam allowances on top of each other is better distributed, as I pinked this side and left the other side as is.

Here's the pic after turning. It's brown fabric so the detail is hidden, but I think you can see how smooth that inside curve is. The outside curve is still raw edges at this point.

What these pics show is the neckband for the Burda WOF top. After I cut out these pieces, I thunked my forehead when I realized I should've just cut them on the fold instead of with a center back seam since I'd already eliminated the back zipper and cut the print section on the fold. But I wasn't thinking. However, it worked out fine in spite of my brain lapse and cutting separate pieces actually uses less fabric and interfacing, so it might be better after all. Yeah, that's my story. ;-)

So far, it's looking good. I'll probably have to add a center front modesty panel like Sigrid did for her top as otherwise I think it will be too low-cut and I don't want to wear a cami underneath, like you're seeing here on Zillie. I'm looking forward to finishing this soon but I'll have to stop sewing until tomorrow as I'm off to the shower and then onto the Friday football duties.

Oh, Belinda asked in her comment from yesterday where I got this print. It was months ago from an Ebay vendor. Sorry! But it's poly so not your favorite anyway. ;-)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fingers Crossed

It's cut out (Burda WOF 03/2007 #103B). No muslin. No time. This is the *good* fabric.

I did spend some time tweaking my pattern after I had it printed, taped and cut out. I laid the actual Burda tracing over it and finessed mine to match theirs where there is some subtle shaping. I really do think it's good to go, but I won't know for sure until it's sewn and on me. Although maybe I should be smart and do a little pin-fitting before I commit every seam to the serger.

Next up is interfacing the neckbands. I hate interfacing. Not the noun, but the verb. The fusing step isn't bad (although I do have a wee bit of envy over Belinda's new pressing toy which she's yet to blog about. Ahem.), but the cutting out and then re-cutting out after fusing is just fiddly and an extra step before sewing. Not a big deal in the whole scheme of life or anything, just a little irk of mine.

My iron is heated up, so time to strike while the iron's hot (groan).

(Wow—A whole post completely sewing-related. Amazing!)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

So, What Did YOU Do Yesterday?

I spent most of Monday under my son's new (old) car, a 1993 Jeep Cherokee. He and a friend installed new front brake rotors, calipers, and pads on Sunday but his friend had to take off early and the brake lines still needed to be bled to remove the air in the lines before the job was finished. DS bought this Jeep about 2 weeks ago and has been very impatient to get it fixed up so he can drive it. His main car for the last 2 years has been a 1965 Mustang with lots of looks but no air conditioning. He loves that car (and still has it) but wanted a "crapper" that he could tool around in and not really care where he parked it and, more importantly, one with A/C. I can't imagine driving around here in Florida in August without it, but he's done so for a while now. He'll get A/C for the Mustang one day but for now, he's sittting cool (finally!) in the new Jeep.

You would think that an 18-year old "dude" with a love for cars would also have some experience fixing them, right? Hah! He's handy but not very experienced in the car maintenance department since he has not really needed to be. Until now. I know a little from my dad and from my days as the teenage girl friend (not girlfriend, but female friend) and neighbor of Guys Who Drove Muscle Cars. OK, for a while I was girlfriend to one of them, but I digress. So anyway … I promised DS that I would help him yesterday and we would get his car road-ready or bust!

DS did the muscle work by jacking up the car, putting it on jackstands and removing the wheels. I studied the service manual, looked on the internet for more info and was ready with the how-to. Then we worked together to bleed the brake lines and to install new spark plugs and wires. Years ago, when I envisioned our mother-son bonding, I can tell you I never thought auto repair would be on the list. But it was actually a fun day together, even with the grease, brake fluid, and sweat. And we're happy to tell you the Jeep is braking like a champ, running smooth with the new plugs/wires, and DS will be driving it to work this morning and with hundreds more dollars in his bank account than the repair shop's.

Before Cook Auto Repair opened for the day, I did actually get in some sewing-related activities. Remember this Burda WOF top?

Well, I tried on the paper muslin again yesterday. Over TWO MONTHS after I first traced it. Sheesh. Time flies. I spent some time contemplating what I'd need to do to alter it and my head hurt. ;-) Not because it would be hard, but it would be time consuming and I'm short on time these days. So, instead of slicing/dicing my 42-to-48 graded-up pattern tracing, I decided to try recreating it in my pattern software. Which is what those doodles below are.

I'm nearly finished with the front pieces. I still have to create the neck and sleeve bands and then work on the back pieces, but so far my pattern pieces look nearly identical to the Burda pieces. When I've got mine finished and printed, I'll overlay the Burda pieces and do a final finesse to incorporate any subtleties missed during the "copy by eye" process.

Today, I'll try to finish up my pattern, get it printed and taped together. Maybe tomorrow I can squeeze in some time for a muslin.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sewing Nibbles

Can't quite figure out what that's a photo of?? Well, let me help. That's one of the comforters on my bed. Post-Dani destruction and crude sewing job to seal the holes. This is one of her few puppy vices and she seems to know when the bed hasn't been made immediately upon getting up for the day.

It started out a few months ago as a little nibble out of one edge. OK, no big problem … a few runs of zigzag stitching at my machine and it was almost as good as new again. Well, not new since we've had it a while, but you know what I mean. Then some subsequent Saturdays later, we got up and left the bed unmade for a while, and when I went back upstairs to get dressed for the day, I was greeted by a big pile of stuffing and shreds of comforter in the middle of my bed, and, of course, Dani plopped in the center of the mess with bits and pieces hanging out of her mouth. The look of glee on her face was almost too much. That one took a little more creative sewing to patch up but I did it.

After that I'd been really good about making the bed as soon as I get up. For whatever reasons, she leaves it alone when the bed is made and she hasn't yet attacked the good top comforter that we turn back for sleeping. But today, I got up before DH and when he got up, he didn't make the bed. I went upstairs a while ago and found another big pile of stuffing and shreds. This time, however, the gleeful criminal was long gone. ;-)

The pic above actually looks better than it is in real life. That corner of the comforter (sor far, she likes only that one corner … DH's corner) is severely distorted, ugly and lumpy with all the haphazard fix-it-fast sewing all over. I'd buy another comforter right away except Dani is still a puppy and if when this happens again, I'd prefer it not be on a brand new one. So, we'll limp along with this ugly thing for a while longer, try harder to remember to make the bed immediately, and dream of the day when it's safe to buy a replacement.

(Another of her bad puppy vice is shoes. Dani has claimed and destroyed one pair per each member of our family and we've all learned that shoes not put up and away are fair game. The silver lining is that my teenage sons are now not leaving their shoes laying around the family room anymore.)

The other sewing nibble for today is my re-make of the annual football tee shirt Friday morning before starting my rounds of football meal pickup/delivery/serving and attending the game. These pics aren't so great and are after I wore my remade tee Friday night, so bear with me please. Here is one of the original man's tees:

And here is my remade version on top. I bound the new neckline in navy cotton/Lycra ribbing and used navy thread for coverstitching the sleeve and bottom hems for a bit of contrast. The whole thing took less than hour, start to finish, and it's the only sewing for me I've done in over a month, but it felt good to actually be sewing for me.

And the back view. Last year, this DS was "Cookie, Jr." since big brother is/was "Cookie." Now, he moves up to just "Cookie." This is the coaches' nickname for him, not ours.

Friday night's game was interesting in many ways. First, it was rain-delayed, which was good since we were going to be a bit late. (Ahem. Someone, and I'm not naming names, DH DH DH DH DH, has absolutely NO sense of direction.) And the trip home was delayed for everyone by 30 minutes spent parked on the interstate waiting for a huge accident to be cleared (surprisingly no serious injuries and no one involved that we know). But the game itself was great! Our team blew theirs away, 30-6, and my sophomore baby actually got to play when the starting Center was injured in the 4th quarter. Nothing serious, thankfully, and I had to explain to his mom (another red-headed Debbie and sitting right next to us) that I wasn't cheering for her son's injury but for my son's Varsity debut. They're our friends, so they understood. I hope. ;-)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Guilt Trip … It Worked!

I'm still not really back to blogging but I couldn't stand another cute little sad plea for my return. LOL! Angie, Sondra — YOU CRACK ME UP!! Plus, I thought it was time to supplant that pic of the stuffed dog with a photo of real poochies.

Life is still rolling along here. Older son has deferred college until the Spring semester and is currently working two jobs. One is at The Cheesecake Factory, where he brings home TONS of tip money, more than should be legal for an 18-year old! The other is at The St. Pete Times Forum (in downtown Tampa), where the Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL hockey team) play and bands, shows, etc. perform. That job usually runs through the middle of the night when he and the rest of the "Conversion Team" change the floor from or back to ice. Thursday night was an Alice Cooper & Black Sabbath show and DS floated back home after actually talking to some of the (geriatric) rockers. ;-) DS is really liking that job and has been interested in sets and stages since his Drama days in high school. Who knows, maybe it will actually lead somewhere for him.

DS#2 is a sophomore this year. Our district changed their schedules and we've been adjusting to that. Until this year, we were on the "block" system, which meant four 90-minute classes per day, and only one semester per major class. So for instance, Biology would only take one semester instead of a whole year. Now, because of budgetary and legislative class-size concerns, they are on a traditional schedule with seven classes per day and all classes (except electives) last the full school year. Apparently you need less teachers/classrooms this way. DS is in all Honors and AP classes so he's a bit loaded down. But he's doing great and was the only kid in his World History class to make a 100 on a surprise test the other day. I hope he keeps that up!

And, yes, there's football. I'm still in the middle of the annual tee shirt sales and still doing the Varsity meals every Friday. DS#2 was supposed to be on the JV team this year. He is only a sophomore after all. But the Varsity second-string Center quit the team and so the Varsity coach moved DS up to the Varsity team to fill the gap. It's a mixed blessing because what it really means is that he won't play much and that disappoints him (and us). And no, he doesn't have a choice. Even with me as the Team Mom, there's no extra pull. LOL! But he's adjusting and the current Center is a senior this year so DS is definitely IN to be the starting Varsity Center his junior and senior years. I suppose it's good for him to learn some patience, right?

The biggest change around here is that DH and I have decided to get out of the self-employment biz. DS has been in training classes for the past couple of weeks with two more weeks to go before he moves into a slot with his former employer, a major transportation company. It will be nice to have regular paychecks and company-paid benefits again. But it also means DH will be on the road traveling a lot, leaving me to man the fort at home alone. That will take some getting used to after 15 years of a set-your-own schedule. Sigh.

The second biggest change is we're down to one vehicle between DH and I right now. The lease was up on our gas-guzzling SUV last month and we've just been too busy to slow down and decide/shop for what we want. So, of course, I've needed a vehicle during the day more than I usually do and we've had to do some shuttling. Ugh. With DS's Mustang in the shop the first 3 days of this past week, it's been ugly. But his car is out (long rant coming on that another day), and he's actually buying an old Jeep tomorrow to be his daily driver, so we'll be back to 3 vehicles in less than 24 hours. And once DH is out of the classes, we'll shop for our second and the family's fourth. Oh Lordy, be still my insurance rates! But I will say it's been nice to NOT have to $$fill up$$ the honkin' big V-8 SUV anymore.

And me. I haven't sewn a thing for myself since whenever I last posted I did. But I have been sewing. A LOT. And not doggy diapers, although I'm still doing them in dribs and drabs. I stumbled on to some private customers that at another time I might have turned town, but it's been lucrative so I'm giving it a shot since we need the income right now with DH in training mode and me officially un-self-employed. But, man, that Burda top is still calling to me every time I open the stash closet and see that beautiful fabric. Sniff, sniff. It will be hot/warm here for quite a while yet, so I haven't given up on it. And I will have to convert a football tee to a female version very soon. So, hang in there … there will be sewing on this blog again soon.