Thursday, March 31, 2011

USMC Purse Done

The purse is done, but I think it's really my final, "wearable" muslin. There were some issues with my pattern that I didn't catch in muslins 1-3. Nothing serious, but it means I have to fix the pattern and trace it again.

I also had a "construction issue" at the end. This is why you shouldn't sew when you're tired.

The zipper should not caught in the seam past the top corner. I knew this, but it just wasn't computing when I was pinning things together with the bag turned inside out. I think I ripped out this end three times. It didn't help that I bought the wrong kind of zipper. I saw the right color, the slightly bigger teeth, and the label for "purse." I didn't pay attention that it was closed on both ends, with two pulls in the middle. Oops, but that's what happens when you have a teenaged son glaring at you as you try to rush through Joann's. ;-) I ended up pulling off the stop at one end and sliding off one pull.

Here's the way it should, and does, look.

Here's the inside. It's OK and will be useable as-is, but the side pockets would be better if I had attached them higher up. I also screwed up with the lining pattern and the bottom is about an inch bigger than the purse. I just sewed a tuck across the width of the lining on each side of the center pocket to take out the excess. Not the most elegant fix, but it's never going to show, especially with my stuff inside the purse. You can't even see the tuck in this pic of the empty inside.

I added purse feet, which are entirely useless. LOL! They don't support diddly-squat. But they look good, right? ;-)

Here's the other side. I added a pocket and a custom "name" tape.

On the pocket is the tab from the sleeve cuff, with the button as it was.

I like that the straps use various pieces of the original cammie blouse so there are things like seams and buttonholes included. This was not really my plan to start with but I had no choice when cutting the straps so I went with it. My Viking 6010 sewed over all that bulk like a champ.

I ended up making a key ring from the Semper Fi embroidery in my last post.

Nothing left over but some button plackets, a collar, and some felled seams I cut off. I'll save the buttons and send them to my son, who called earlier in the week asking how to sew on a button. I referred him to YouTube. lol

I'm not sure if I want to jump back into the same pattern, with corrections, to sew up a purse for my mom or if I want to use a different (commerical) pattern. On the one hand, it can be frustrating to have to work out every little construction detail on a new pattern on your own by winging it the first time. On the other hand, I think I've now conquered most of the bugs and #2 should go much smoother. Right? Still, it's a tedious purse and maybe not the best pattern for this thick fabric and I'm thinking I should try something different to compare. Mom will be happy with whatever I decide.

Monday, March 28, 2011

More on the Purse

Here's the inside of the purse. I was flummoxed (don't you love that word? I do.) about what to use for interfacing since I wanted the purse to be very firm but not unsewable (I think that's a word I made up) due to bulk. Peltex is WAY too thick, but I bought some anyway. I was right, but all was not lost since I used it to make the bottom insert which will be hand-tacked to the seam allowances between the purse shell and lining so it doesn't move around. What I'm going to do with the other yard and a half, I haven't a clue. ;-) At least it was 50% off, right?

I settled on horsehair canvas for most pieces because for some reason I have a LOT of it and mostly because I didn't want to wait on mail-order for something else. I still have no idea what that something else would be anyway, although I think I'm going to try Bunny's tip of fusible fleece and Decor Bond on the next one. If you haven't seen Bunny's purses, click that link for a look at it and the next post - beautiful! The horsehair canvas worked well though.

For the side panels I used some really, REALLY crappy Pellon that has been collecting dust in my sewing closet since I first started sewing and learned very quickly that this stuff is rubbish. Did I mention it's awful? So much so that it has already unfused itself and has now become a sew-in interfacing after the fact. But I put on my optimistic hat (or lazy hat, depending on how well you really know me) and used it anyway because I didn't want these panels to be as stiff as the rest of the purse since once the lining is inserted, the center divider pocket will draw in the sides so the purse will go from looking like this …

… to this. More or less. It's still sitting very lopsided at the moment, but you get the idea.

And this is where I'm stalled right now, since I just ran out of the color of upholstery thread I was using for topstitching and now I have to go out in the rain to Joann's (I was just there on Saturday, you would think I could plan this stuff better) and HOPE they have more of this color. Chances are not especially good since Guterman thread is on sale this week.

Flowers courtesy of Michael as a thank-you for his shirt. One week later and they're still looking great, aren't they? If I sew that codpiece he and Peter have been hinting at, do you think he'll send more chocolate?

Purse in Progress

I've been working on and off all weekend on my USMC cammie purse. Since I'm winging this, I had to keep taking breaks to mentally work through just what the heck I was doing, how it would go together, how the lining with an attached center pocket would work, sizing and re-sizing the bag to fit the cammie pockets, what to use for interfacing, etc. All the stuff that a commercial pattern does for you. Purse design is not as easy as it may look.

The muslin graveyard. After three, I declared my pattern done and cut into the cammie fabric. And by "cut into," I mean I cut apart a used cammie blouse I picked up at the local surplus store. I also had to unstitch the pockets since I was using them on my bag. Lordy, whoever made these things made them to last through a war or something. ;-) Ripping out the bar tacks holding on the pockets took forever.

For the lining, I'm using a polka dot quilting fabric I already had. That sewing room valance I had planned for it wasn't getting made any time soon anyway. Here you can see the center divider pocket. You can also see part of the other interior pockets, one of which is pleated to hold my cell phone, and you can see the hook for the key fob I'll be adding. Just above the divider pocket you can see where the seam is left open to turn the whole shebang right side out, once I ever get to that point. Right now the lining and the purse exterior are still separate, because …

… the purse exterior isn't yet done, as you can see by all the pieces in the pic below. That's the lining in the upper left corner. I also embroidered a name tape since the surplus shirt came with "Garcia," and I didn't think that was close enough to "Cook" to go unnoticed. While I was at it, I stitched out Semper Fi too and will add that in somewhere. I think I use the embroidery capabilites of my sewing machine about once a year these days.

Here's what's left of the cammie blouse, which is nothing more than lots of little scraps and a collar. I cut up the sleeves into strips for the purse straps and had to creatively lay out the other pattern pieces on the body of the shirt. In other words, reverse origami.

Hopefully I will get this done in the next couple of days, work schedule permitting. And then I'll be starting all over again because I'm making one for the Marine's grandma too, for Mother's Day. And maybe another for my sister, but probably not in cammie fabric. I have to get my money's worth out of my self-made pattern, right?

Friday, March 25, 2011

I May "Got Nuthin" But I Do Have TWO Sons

Seems any family pics for the last few months have either been of the Marine or the pups. I do have two sons and love them equally, but #2 isn't so much of a photo ham these days.

However, I did make him slow down for a blurry cell phone pic so I could document his first real job. Yep, he's made it to the ripe old age of almost 19 (next month) without any typical teenager jobs. Not that we haven't "suggested" employment, mind you. ;-) But in his defense, his extra-curricular activities through high school kept him busy enough that we didn't push the job thing too hard.

He starts at Mickey D's next week, which is also his spring break from community college. He's taking the summer off from school and we pretty much demanded that he NOT lay around all summer playing Call of Duty with his best friend. I'm proud of him for prying the game controller out of his sweaty hands long enough to actually step up, get his long red locks buzzed, and find a job  — especially in an economy where every job is precious.

Paychecks and cheeseburgers. What else does he need? Good luck Alex!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I Got Nuthin

The mojo has disappeared, although I'm still perfecting my purse pattern in dribs and drabs.

While the mojo is enjoying a little vacation, I'll leave you with this photo of a really cute Marine and his new plaything.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Distracted (Again)

So there I was, plugging away on sewing back together all the little squares I cut apart for the placements, when an idea popped into my head. Maybe piecing isn't so mindless after all?

What was the idea? I'm glad you asked. Does this pic give you a hint?

Now imagine it in official USMC camouflage fabric, with embroidered name tapes. Yep, I'm making a Marine Mom purse. A little hokey, yes, but kind of fun too.

I spent way too much time yesterday looking at downloadable purse patterns on Etsy before I decided I should just try my hand at my own pattern, save the purchase money, and end up with exactly what I wanted. I worked up a pattern after dinner and what you're seeing in the pic is my first muslin. I need to enlarge the bag a little so the pockets will fit better on a sharper angle. Real USMC cammie blouse pockets are set on that same angle. Why? I don't know. Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

I found some official fabric and I'm going to ask my son's recruiter next week if I can borrow one of his cammie blouses for a few days so I can measure things and note details. He doesn't wear cammies in his recruiter job, and I think he owes me for taking my son away, don't you? ;-)

After I make the pattern adjustments and another muslin, I'll return to the placemats either this afternoon or tomorrow. For now, they've been shifted to the ironing board awaiting their turn. Poor little squares.

In MPB Men's Shirt Sew-Along news, and I think the final chapter in this saga, here is Michael in his new shirt. You can read more details on his blog, here. He's happy. I'm happy. Life is good. And aren't these great photos? (Thanks Peter!)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Just One Star

On Monday, I came across this "Just One Star" post on Rachel Griffith's P.S. I Quilt blog. I *immediately* recognized the ring in the photo because my Marine son has one just like it, from Parris Island for boot camp graduation. So, of course, I read on — and learned about the Moda challenge in connection with the Semper Fi Fund. I decided then and there that today, March 16th, my Marine son's 22nd birthday and his first that we're apart (sob!), I would spend some time in his honor making a block (or two) to send in for the project. I'm happy to say that I accomplished that goal. Happy Birthday Tyler, I miss you!

If you'd like to make a block for the Just One Star challenge, the fabric requirements, block directions and mailing info are in the PDF here. Don't forget to sign your block(s) before mailing!

In other quilting news, I'm making progress on the placemats. Everything has been cut out and now I'm piecing the squares together and attaching them to the placemat middles. With my Featherweight on my cutting table, I can face the TV and piece at the same time, which seems to make it all go faster. It's very relaxing. I do have to get up every once in a while to press seam allowances, but the movement is a good thing or else I'd just spread even wider. ;-)

* * * * *

By the way, if you've been frustrated by Blogger's handling of uploading photos, I'm happy to report that improvements have finally been made. First, photos are again uploading in the order you select them. And, you can now plant your cursor where you want a photo, upload it, and it will land there instead of at the top of the post. Yay Blogger! Ahem … it's about time. ;-)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Feeling Quilty Again

As I said yesterday, I'm feeling quilty again. Which means it's time for a little mindless sewing. And by "little," I mean a lot, and not that you don't need a brain for this, just that sewing straight lines can be hypnotic and relaxing.

I bought two placemat & napkin kits from Connecting Threads last year (now sold out), which means eight placemats and coordinating napkins. That's a lot of little squares to cut apart and then sew back together, and a good number of big squares and rectangles.

This is what the finished items are supposed to look like, and they will be for ME:

Because I bought two kits, I will have a lot of leftovers. I'm thinking I'll make some matching strip-y potholders with those. Or something, so I'm not just moving fabric from one pile to another.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

MPB Shirt Sew-Along — Finis!

Only 13 days late finishing for the February Sew-Along, but who's counting — it's done. Yay! Hopefully, Michael will send me a modeled pic or two once he's got his new shirt in hand (or on body?) since my hanger shots are dismal.

The fabric is really nice. I think Michael picked a winner in terms of color and weave. It's 100% cotton and a good shirting weight. Wrinkling during sewing and handling was minimal, so it should wear very nicely.

Here's the back view. I moved the back waist darts a little more toward center, after confirmation from Peter. I also deepened them a little since Michael is very slim in his lower torso.

Here's a view of a sleeve placket. I promise, it lays flat even though this pic indicates otherwise. You can see the buttons better in this shot too. They are purple-y brown with a pearl finish. I like the purple tint as a subtle accent. I hope Michael does too.

Michael wanted the finished length about 1" shorter than the unhemmed muslin, so I cut off 1/2" and then turned up a double 1/4"-ish hem. It's probably closer to 3/8" if we were to get out a ruler.

I had an extra button, so I sewed it to the inside button band. Hopefully, it won't be needed but it's there in case. That was the only button I sewed by hand. The others were attached with my machine. Yay button-sewing foot!

For a bit of personalization and fun, I used the lettering on my machine to create a "label." You can't see it clearly in this pic, but it reads: HANKO • NYC • 2011.

I'm going to toss the shirt into the wash today to remove markings and glue stick, and then it will be in the mail tomorrow. Julia asked yesterday what kind of glue I use. For this, just a regular washable glue stick from Office Depot. (Let it dry before sewing so you don't gum up the needle. Pressing with dry iron speeds that process.) On other projects I also use Glue Pins, which is a clear washable more liquid-y glue, and/or Collins Wonder Tape. They all have a spot in my notions arsenal and are so much easier to sew over than pins. ;-)

Now I'm off to tidy up the sewing room and decide what's up next. I'm feeling a little quilty, so don't be surprised if I head in that direction for a couple of weeks.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

MPB Shirt Sew-Along — Almost There

Michael's shirt is nearly done. I only have the hem, buttonholes and buttons to do and I will get those done after I finish this post. But I had to take this break to say:

I HATE flat-felled seams!

OK, maybe "hate" is a little strong. But they bug me. A lot.

They are so fiddly to do neatly. Sure, they get better with practice (and a glue stick), as shown in my examples below. The first photo shows my squiggly seam allowance on the wrong side of the sleeve head. I *know* it will never be seen (after Peter is done inspecting my sewing, which BTW, because I'm sewing for someone else is not nearly as straight as my usual output. Figures, right?), but it still bugs me.

This is the other sleeve head, after I arbitrarily decided learned from practicing to trim a little extra from the seam allowance that is folded over. Not perfect, but much nicer. I can only imagine that if this shirt had three or four sleeves, I'd be close to perfection. ;-)

But since this particular seam is in a location that will never be seen when the shirt is worn, why bother with flat felling it? It's one thing if you have a factory with machines dedicated to flat-felling men's shirt seams, but in a home-sewing environment, serging the armhole seams and topstitching is just as good as spending all that time trimming, pressing, and wrestling seam allowances that will never be seen. And it's just as sturdy too. I mean, women have been wearing serged armholes for years now, right? ;-)

Yeah, yeah. I know there are one or two good reasons for flat-felled seams (especially the seam on a long sleeve that might be rolled up), but I'm venting so I'm not feeling generous toward those reasons right now. And the venting felt so good. :-)

Now Michael, if your missing internet has miraculously shown up again and you're reading this, don't fret. I'm still enjoying the whole process of making this shirt. Even those fussy flat-felled seams, because I learned something new.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Photos of the Marine

Work has kept me busy again for the last two days so there's been no more progress on Michael's shirt. Hopefully, I can get back to it tonight.

In the meantime, here's a random sampling of what the Marine has been up to lately.

At the beach at the Pensacola NAS:

At the Pensacola NAS Museum:

Not as good as mom's homemade, but still pretty good. And the girls were too cute to pass up.

Tee shirt souvenir after completing the first round of school:

His new room at Cherry Point (NC) MCAS, where he now is for his second round of school. Not as nice as his Pensacola digs, but not awful. One less roommate, and they don't have to share the head (bathroom) with anyone else. He's got the bed by the window.

Outside view:

Good thing they run 5 miles a day and do a LOT of walking to anywhere else on base. ;-)

Tyler's 22nd birthday is March 16. I've got his package ready to send, but last night he asked that I add in some homemade cookies, so guess what I'll be doing this afternoon around work? This will be his first birthday without any family nearby. I'm sure we'll all be fine (sniff, sniff), but let this be a reminder to hug 'em while you've got 'em. They grow up and move on much too soon! And thank God for camera phones, text messages, and the internet.

(I've become acronym-centric lately with all the military stuff, but in case you didn't know NAS = Naval Air Station and MCAS = Marine Corps Air Station. The air stations are where they keep and work on the flying thingies.)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

MPB Shirt Sew-Along Progress

The check pattern is probably going to wreak havoc with Blogger's resized photo previews, so if you're feeling dizzy, click on the photos to see them at actual size.

It's coming along nicely. The collar isn't really sewn on yet, though. Just a little preview to make the pic look better. ;-)

The sleeve plackets went on without a hitch, using the Nancy Zieman Express method mentioned in previous posts, which was like the RTW placket I deconstructed. I had contemplated cutting these on the bias, but decided it would be too squiggly to do without interfacing and too bulky with. They don't line up perfectly, but they're pretty darn close. Who looks at plackets anyway when a shirt is being worn?

I did cut the front placket on the bias and I think it looks good. I also pulled out the button stash last night to see if I had anything suitable for this shirt and was pleasantly surprised to find enough quantity of a good color and size. I think Michael will like them because they're a tiny notch above plain but not really flashy either.

Here's a close-up of the collar pinned in place. Tonight, I hope to get it and the stand sewn on for real.

Monday, March 7, 2011

MPB Shirt STILL Sewing-Along

While it seems our official tour guide for the MPB Men's Shirt Sew-Along went on vacation with a bunch of Ken dolls, some of us are still sewing our men's shirt projects, with or without him. Me included. So what if February is over. Yesterday, I was finally able to cut out Michael's shirt from the good fabric.

But let me back up just a second. The yellow muslin arrived in NYC the week before last. Peter pressed it, and Michael modeled. Peter and Michael think it fits well. I agree, except for …

… the back waist darts.

I think the darts are too close to the sideseams and should be moved a little more toward the center of Michael's back. And maybe deepened a hair. Peter and Michael are having a fit another fitting evaluation today and will let me know.

In the meantime, since dart placement can wait until the end, I went ahead and cut the shirt. I am cheating with plaid/check matching by using bias accents to avoid the matching altogether. This means a little extra stabilization was needed for all that bias, so I used a very light fusible on both sides of the cuffs and collar stand, interfaced the entire front button placket, and cut the inside yoke on the straight grain to stabilize the public view outside bias yoke. As I'm typing this, I just realized I forgot the sleeve plackets. Oops.

I also went back to my copy of Nancy Zieman's Sewing Express and used her Express Collar technique. The collar is now one piece, shown at the bottom of the photo below. Odd looking, isn't it?

(Don't bother clicking the above photo because it will still be blurry. My camera battery died an ugly death just as I snapped that.)

With the Express Collar technique, the seams (and thus bulk) at the points of the collar are eliminated and the undercollar is automatically on the bias with a seam in the middle. I reversed the layout, though, since I wanted the upper collar to be bias. All it meant was to lay the pattern piece 45 degrees different than the instructions. I also interfaced the whole thing, since I was using lightweight interfacing.

Next will be to actually start sewing, which I hope to do tonight.