Tuesday, September 28, 2010

If It's Not One Thing, It's Another

This is where I left the jeans Sunday evening. Yesterday, I had to deal with a computer virus I picked up somewhere/somehow Sunday night so I didn't get back to the sewing room until today.

The jeans are mostly done. All I need to do is finish and sew on the back pockets, do the waistband button/buttonhole, and hem them.

But I think I'm going to ditch them before I get to all of that.

Why, you ask? Well, even though I prewashed this denim in hot temps at least three times, my hands are turning dark blue with even the slightest touch on the denim. I really don't want to put up with that and I'm pretty sure 20 more washes won't cure it. Vinegar and/or salt is an old wives' tale which won't fix this. So, it looks like these were the muslin for my pattern changes. Which worked, BTW — they fit exactly how I like my jeans to fit (yes, tummy wrinkles and all).

Back to the cutting table. At this rate, I may be wearing my old PJs to my son's graduation. ;-)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A New Day

The sun is shining here — both figuratively and literally — and there's actual sewing action in the sewing room. You should be able to tell by the photo above which garment called the loudest.

All Hail Ye Tried N True!!

Let's do a comparison, shall we?

Last weekend: Unfold, cut and press never-used Burda jeans pattern. Cut out and sew muslin. Stare in the mirror. Remove muslin, go downstairs and watch football for a while. Back upstairs. Put muslin back on. Stare in mirror again. Make pattern adjustments. Cut out and sew next muslin. Stare in the mirror. Close down sewing room for the week and go watch football and Mad Men. Do some laundry. Go to bed.

This weekend: Try on last weekend's muslin #2. Fold up pattern, both muslins, and set aside. Try on slightly too-small years-old jeans from TNT jeans pattern. Try on capris from same jeans pattern. Try on 2-3 other pants/capris from 2nd TNT pattern. Write whiney blog entry. ;-) Get out TNT jeans pattern. Trace front and back pieces. Slash/spread to add 3/8" to each piece (1-1/2" total addition to width). Trace/adjust pocket pieces & waistband. Cut *denim.* Set up Viking 6010 for topstitching. Sew pockets, fly, darts. Go to bed. Wake up. Check blogs and emails. Baste inseams, outseams and crotch. Try on. Take pic of fly for blog. Write blog entry, and get ready to go finish the perfectly fitting jeans.

See any differences? ;-)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fickle, Tired & Lazy

It's been a long and busy work week and I'm tired. Next week promises to be more of the same. Not too much happens in the sewing room when work is like this. Sigh. I think I used to have more stamina. I know part of the "fatigue" is being a little depressed (not clinically, so no advice for doctors or drugs please) with my son gone at basic training. I miss him. It's normal. I'll get over it. But in the meantime, it makes me feel even more sluggish. And then couple that with the monthly hormonal week and well, it has not been pretty. ;-)

So, what does this all really mean? It means I haven't progressed further than initial alterations and a second muslin on the "new" Burda jeans pattern from the last post. It means that I'm re-thinking whether I want to spend the time to get this pattern into shape or just set it aside and pull out a TNT. (The Burda pattern is promising, but it will take a little more fiddling.) It means I'm not in the mood for fiddling and if I am only going to be sewing on weekends for a while, I will end up running out of time before making the things I want to take with me to my son's graduation. It means I realized I do actually have some decent full-length pants hanging in the closet that I forgot about and do I really need new jeans at all? (Yes! I always "need" new jeans! LOL!)

So, I'm in the midst of rethinking and trying on stuff from my closet. Anything made with my old stand-by TNT pants patterns still fit the best. I think I should heed the signs. However, I may just start on the jacket instead and let the pants issue simmer a little longer. But because I *am* feeling quite fickle, who knows what will happen in the sewing room this weekend. Hopefully, I'll progress on something and not just overthink things per my usual tendency. Being excited about a project will actually give me more energy, so I need to come up with a plan that ignites a bigger spark.

* * * * *

But my son *is* doing great. His letters are arriving with wonderful regularity and he's still got his sense of humor and positive outlook. I love his letters! He's doing well with all the tasks at hand, both mentally and physically. He's now moving into Phase II and has seen the newest recruits to arrive and bumble their way through what he was watching, which made him realize how far he's come already. We are so proud of him!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Planning Ahead

I don't usually think about sewing cool weather clothes until, well, at least December when it finally starts to cool off around here. But we will be in Parris Island SC for my son's graduation from boot camp at the end of the November and if I don't want to freeze my butt off, I need to get cracking now. My cool weather wardrobe is severely lacking.

(Yes, I know the temps are low-60s during the day there at that time, but that IS cold to me. Plus, we'll be at the base at Oh Dark Thirty on Family Day the day before graduation to watch the Motivational Run and temps will definitely be below 60 at that time of day/night. Brrr!)

My son's training company color is red. I've read that most families will dress in the appropriate colors for their recruits' company. I don't have or wear a lot of red so nothing I have will go with a red tee shirt underneath (which I'll purchase). But I did manage to find this piece in the stash, which will be perfect for another make of Kwik Sew 3369. You can see my previous version here.

But before I start that, I'm going to try out this Burda jeans pattern. I've had it my stash for a LONG time and with all the TNTs I've been sewing lately, the sewing mojo wants a little more challenge. I may eat those words, I know. But I need to do something since I seem to have outgrown most of my other "good" jeans. Hrmpf.

I wish I could wear the Jalie jeans pattern that everyone and their dog has made. But it just isn't made for the body I have and even though I could make the pattern fit, it still won't flatter. See that girl in the red top on the Burda envelope? See her chunky thighs, especially at the knee? That's me, my body type — which is definitely not the Jalie jeans body type. I'm hopeful this pattern is true to the photo.

So that's what I'm working on today during football games — first a muslin for the Burda jeans without any alterations to get a starting point. And then I'll work on the alterations that I'm sure will be coming.

After the jeans and jacket, I have plans for a couple more "winter" items because after graduation we'll be going up to my mom's at the Virginia shore for Thanksgiving. Hopefully, I can stay on course and get these things made that I've had in the cue for at least two years now. I want to pack light, but I still will need some warmer tees and other pants (read: stretchy!) for Turkey day. Worst case is I'll just wear my "Turkey pants" from a couple of years ago but I'm really hoping I can get to the wonderful brown velour that's been biding its time.

Friday, September 17, 2010

More on Feed Reeders

I tried giving Google Reader a couple more days. It sped up considerably on Opera but it still has too many quirks for me. Like it would keep showing entries as new even though I'd "Read" them numerous times. That's a huge time waster, and frustrating. And there's just too much clicking and/or scrolling just to get it to recognize that I had read something — only to have it show up as Unread the next hour. And I'd have to sign in to my Google account multiple times a day. Nope, GR is not for me. It annoys me and wastes my time.

I tried Feedly. It's OK, but it's too cutesy or something, I don't know. I admit that I didn't give it very long, but it just didn't feel right for me so I moved on.

I don't and won't use IE so that's not an option.

Some of the blogs I read are not on Blogger so using Blogger's Follow feature misses them, even though I already do check the Blogger Dashboard often for a quick idea of what's been updated while I'm checking to see if any comments on really old posts or spam need moderating. (Side note: Isn't Blogger's new Spam filter great?)

The bottom line is I just want a reader that gives me a plain old list of blogs with an easy visual as to what's read and what's not. Nothing fancy.

Because of Deb's comment on my last post, I tried FeedDemon. It's the closest reader to Bloglines that I've tried so far so I think this will be the one. It has a little advertising block in one corner if you use the free version. If it keeps performing as well as it has so far, I will be happy to pay the $15 to remove that ad block if it really bugs me. But I'm so used to tuning out ads that it may not even be an issue after a few more days.

Thanks Deb! :-)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Baby Please Don't Go

I'm sure all the die hard Blogliners have heard by now that Bloglines is shutting down on October 1.

A moment of silence, please.

OK, where was I? Oh yes. My rant of the day (well, yesterday, really).

On the heels of the announced demise of Bloglines, I've seen many recommendations for Google Reader, which at this point is the ONLY choice left. The problem for me is that I HATE Google Reader. H. A. T. E. There, I said it. And I know I'm in the minority.

I've tried it numerous times over the last year or two and it's just kludgey. Sure, Bloglines has had its own share of problems but aside from that, it's just a better feed reader IMO so I overlooked them. Especially when during some of their outages, I would try Google Reader again and each time go running back to Bloglines.

So yesterday I did the export/import thing again so that Google Reader could pick up where my Bloglines is leaving off because I knew the only other choice would be to manually visit each and every blog I regularly read and who has time for that! GR was TORTURE. Oh My Freakin' Gawd. It was so SLOW. And it sucked every last resource out of my pretty powerful computer. So much so, that I was beginning to wonder if it was going to explode. Seriously. OK, maybe not. But close.

Well, today I learned I'm going to have to eat just a little crow on trashing Google Reader. (But I still think it's kludgey.) The resource sucking? Totally Firefox, and its horrible handling of Javascript. Firefox is not a speed demon with Bloglines either, but it's been quite passable and not the honkin' big resource hog as with GR.

I downloaded and installed Opera this morning and the clouds parted to let the angels sing. IOW, GR is now at least speedy if still kludgey.

But you know what this means, right? I have to decide if I want to spend the time to move over completely to Opera or use both it and Firefox. I know I'm getting old because the more things I have to change, the crankier I get. And to think I actually used to enjoy (and get paid for) troubleshooting software. Yep. I 'm old. Or maybe I'd just rather sew.

So endeth my rant of the day. ;-)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Not Monday Already?

I'd like another long weekend, please.

Not much sewing happened here over the weekend I did get because DS#2 was making his Big Move into DS#1's bedroom and in order to ensure that DS#1's things didn't end up thrown into boxes willy-nilly, I had to participate and oversee. Even so, I have new dings in the two stairwells that will need to be filled and touched up. Sigh. And what is now DS#1's new room isn't completely finished, but it's close. I figure I have another 10 weeks to do that, so it wasn't urgent for the weekend. And, no, I won't have a second sewing room. First, I don't need it. But most importantly, I do want a place for DS#1 to return to when he can over the next few years. At some point, it will become an official guest room, but not until all parties are ready. ;-)

During football games yesterday, I did manage to finish the in-progress Hot Patterns Sunshine top I showed last week.

I made a flower to add to wear on it. Nothing fancy - just a bunch of circles from the print and some coordinating solids fused onto sturdy interfacing, cut with pinking shears, gathered and joined by hand, and then some crystals fused in the center. It's got a pin backing so I can remove it when laundering.

It shows up more in real life than in the photo, because the photo doesn't capture its 3D-ness.

I'm not sure what's up next on the sewing table. Maybe a new casual jacket for fall? I have a number of nice fabrics in the stash for just such a project. Maybe they've now aged long enough? We'll see. My sewing mojo is always fickle, plus this promises to be a busy work week.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Whew! Part Deux

So what's better than a form letter from your new USMC Recruit son?

An actual, 4-page !!! handwritten letter from that son!

Woo Hoo!! He is doing great! His letter was HILARIOUS, so he's definitely in good spirits and actually enjoying it. Well, as much as one can "enjoy" boot camp. I knew he'd be OK but I'm his mom. It's my job to worry.

I think this great letter has cured the weepies. Well, at least for a while anyway. ;-)


Semper Fi

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Do you know what that is? It's a letter from my USMC Recruit son. Did you hear me scream this afternoon? ;-) It's only a fill-in-the-blanks form letter with his official address (which I already had from his recruiter), but at least some of it is in his handwriting so it's sort of a real letter, right? And this means others should soon follow. Before he left, I told him that I knew he wouldn't have much time to write so even if he only could squeeze in 1 sentence, to just stick it in an envelope and SEND IT. I can't wait until I get some real news from him. But I guess I have to. C'mon Mr. Postman!!

Meanwhile, I've been working in dribs and drabs on another Sunshine top. It's gonna be "summer" here for a few more months, so I'm still sewing hot-weather clothes. I don't think I even own anything wool.

I thought you might be interested in seeing the huge number of pins I use when attaching the gathered front to the neckband. Usually, I don't use very many pins. And if it's a straight seam, none. But for gathers, I pin the bejeezus out of it and then sew right over the pins (gasp!). Works every time.

Here's where it stands now. I probably won't make any more progress tonight because it's now NFL season, baby, and the first game is in one hour. Woot!! Go Vikes! (But I love those Saints too.)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I'm Baking

Just a little heads up that the Bread Buddy tutorial will be delayed until October 5, 2010 because it will be the featured tutorial on the Moda Bake Shop that day. How cool is that?

I tried to schedule it earlier because I know you are waiting, but October 5 was the first available slot. But to make the wait worth it, I'll also have a little giveaway from Moda that day too. Stay tuned!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Review: Hot Patterns 1043

Hot Patterns Bo-Ho-De-Luxe Peasants Tops

From the HP Website: Sometimes you just want pretty, comfy and simple tops to make in a soft cotton, voile, chiffon or silk. You could even try these easy styles in a lightweight T-shirt fabric. Semi-fitted unlined tops feature gathered scoop necklines and finish just below the hips. Cap-sleeve Top has self bound neckline and sleeves and an applied drawstring at raised waist. 3/4 sleeve Top has shaped neckband, Raglan sleeves and narrow elasticated cuffs. Wear the cap-sleeve Top with some funky jeans and a neat fitted jacket, or try the 3/4 sleeve Top to soften a strict Pants or Skirt Suit.

Size: Multi-size 6-26
Skill Level: Beginner
Price: $13.95


The last two Hot Patterns I made didn't suit me because of their unfitted style. But I've had such great successes with other HP's and so I was disappointed and desperately wanted to break out of my current HP wadderville. I pulled out this pattern to see if it had some shaping that would flatter me instead of just cover me. It does, which may be surprising for a Peasant top, and I''m very relieved to say that this pattern was a success! Whew! I was beginning to doubt myself. ;-)

Here's my top, belted:

I did not follow the pattern instructions to attach a casing for the tie because I wanted to be able to wear it either cinched or loose. I previously made a Sunshine top with a separate belt option and find that I wear it both ways a lot, so I wanted the same option with this top. I added some of the solid purple from the border to the ends of the ties. Although they appear as two dark blobs in this photo, in real life they look nice and I like the bit of contrast.

I chose the short sleeve view with the bottom edge of the sleeve gathered onto a self-fabric band, instead of binding the bottom per the hem. My fabric, a very nice rayon border knit from Fabric Mart (sold out!), was a bit too bulky where it was gathered to do "real" binding so I chose the less fiddly method of just adding a band.

Here it is, unbelted. For the neckline I did not bind it with my coverstitch machine because those gathers just wanted to give the binders fits. Instead, I bound the edge manually and then used the CS machine to topstitch, trimming the excess binding from the back with duckbill scissors. Or maybe I'm just out of practice, having not used my CS machine for months. (Gasp!)

I know in the photos the print sorta looks like bullseyes on the girls, but it hits me a little differently than Zillie and isn't so In-Yer-Face. I'm glad I bought enough of this fabric to hoard for another top later. It's really nice stuff and good quality rayon print knits are hard to come by.

Notes about this pattern:

1. The neckline is on the wide side, as shown in the envelope drawings. I decided to go down one size at the neckline to keep the bra straps hidden. This was a good decision, as the neckline is just how I like it and I think one size bigger would've been a scootch too wide.

2. I did not do a traditional FBA and instead used my cheater method of starting with my shoulder size (16) and then blending outward to a bigger size at bust level (and then still bigger at butt level, but that's a usual alteration for me) .

3. The sleeve pattern was fine. I know earlier versions of this pattern had complaints about the drafting and marks for the sleeve pattern, but it's apparent that HP listens because there was nothing wrong with this version and it now had front and back notches (although I note there were no corresponding notches on the bodice pieces, but you hardly need them).

4. As noted by the Beginner label on the envelope, this is an easy pattern that goes together fast and doesn't require a lot (any?) fitting. This pattern was released before HP started with illustrated instructions, but unless you are a true rank beginner, you don't really need drawings with this one. Cut out the 3-4 pieces, gather the edges to fit as desired, sew them together, hem. Voila!

5. Mark the front or back inside the top so you don't put it on backwards. The front is more gathered than the back, but when you've got a busy print like this, you may not notice. Well, at least I didn't at first. ;-)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Upside Down

That's how I'm feeling — upside down. Don't you think Chili is illustrating that perfectly? ;-)

I miss talking to my son. I miss knowing that he's going through all sorts of new and challenging times and I can't know what he has to say about it, at least not until the letters start coming and even then, it's not going to be the same. I miss our conversations. I miss our little texts to each other during the day. I miss our dorky almost daily ritual of watching Jeopardy together. And I can't believe how weepy I still am. I know I sound pitiful and I know it will get better. But right now? Well, it just sucks. Thanks for listening.

I know my pity party isn't much fun for you guys so I'll move on to other things.

The only sewing since last weekend has been to sew a button on my younger son's friend's shorts (hide your eyes Selfish Seamstress!) and today I serged the raw ends of some cuts of fabric so I could pre-wash them and put them away. They were the last hold-outs from my fabric closet reorganization. (That's still more sewing than some people in NYC cough:Peter:cough.)

I did pull out actual garment patterns tonight and I will be starting on SOMETHING wearable tomorrow. I also want to make another HP Sunshine Top so maybe I'll even get two new tops done by the time the long weekend is over. I decided that if I plunge into a new pattern, I will distract myself from the pity party for a while. I might have something new to blog about too.

And for those waiting with bated breath, I'm also almost finished writing up the tutorial for the Bread Safe (DS#2 wants me to call it the Bread Buddy — opinions?) and that will be available soon. But no more anonymous bread lectures from the peanut gallery, OK? I *do* buy and also make very healthy whole grain fresh breads on a regular basis, but I also have a husband and son(s) who prefer the squishy bread for PB&Js. I don't think lesser of them for it. But since I'm sure I'm not the only one who buys that devil bread on occasion, I thought it would be fun to share a solution for something that has bugged me when buying the evil stuff. Please feel free to have your own bread preferences. Really. Now I'm off to eat some Twinkies, Cheetos and Diet Coke. Hahahaha …