Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Purse and Work Outfit Dilemma (Photo Heavy)

The special order cammie purse is done! Yay! Every single bit of the cammie fabric came from the blouse that was sent, and almost every single bit of the blouse was used. I couldn't "cheat" and use my flat MARPAT fabric for straps since the cammie I received was pretty faded and my new fabric is … well … new. I like the way pieced straps look because you get characteristics of the original cammie that way, but they take at least twice as long to make and allowimg room for them on the cammie blouse makes the pattern layout more of a brain twister. This style for a cammie purse is definitely the most labor-intensive. On the others, I learned my lesson and made them simpler from the get-go.

I had a major brain fade yesterday when inserting the zipper. It's done 100% by machine, because ya'll KNOW how I hate hand sewing (especially in purses). It has been many months since I made my same-pattern purse. Do you think I took notes on how I did the zipper? If you guessed Hell No!, you would be correct. This means I made a couple of wrong passes with the machine which had to be frogged. But once I walked away for a while, the solution came to me. And it was so obvious (after the fact), that it was almost irritating. lol But I did take notes this time, in case I actually do make up an official pattern for this.

This one is almost exactly like mine, except for the last names, lining, and better interfacings. I used fusible fleece on all the outside pieces, except the two strips right next to the zipper. For those, I used Decor Bond which made them sturdy but not too bulky next to the zipper teeth. I trimmed the fleece so it would be caught in the seams, but only by a hair. This worked great to keep seam allowance bulk down. I also used the fusible fleece in the straps, except I did not apply it at the ends, again to keep the bulk down where I needed to fold the strap over and attach it to the purse or itself, around the hardware.

The main features I couldn't find in any commercial pattern (big guys or little ones) was (1) the center divider pocket in the middle, which is not as wide as the outside so it "cinches in" the sides of the purse, and (2) the outside zipper strips which are curved and part of the purse body, and sewn entirely by machine, of course.

With the improved interfacing, this purse is more rigid so hopefully the feet will actually do something on this one. ;-)

* * * * *

Moving ahead to my wardrobe dilemma …

I'm not complaining on the reason, but with the continuing weight loss I really do not have much to wear to an office. I have my 2 interview suits and a couple of dresses, none of which mixes/matches. Everything else is too big. Yes, I can sew some things but (1) not enough in a short time and (2) I really don't want to, because it's not going to fit for very long and I need to re-do pretty much all of my pattern alterations. TNTs are a thing of the past for now. Wah!

I think I will make one or two Vogue 1250s in a print, and one or two unstructured jacket/cardi somethings to coordinate with them, plus a simple and plain top or two. I think I can do at least 3 out of those in a week. (The "week" deadline is if I get the job — I still don't know yet.) In the meantime, I will need to shop so I can fill in with RTW. But I am going to limit myself to really inexpensive stuff, since again, I don't plan on it fitting for long so I don't want to waste money needlessly.

Let's start the mega-photo section of this post, shall we? Pardon goofy eyes, dorky smiles, bare feet, mismatched prints, blurry focus and dirty mirrors. I was going for quantity and basic shapes. Also pardon my rambling thoughts. None of this is very organized.

After my interview yesterday, I came home and changed and  headed out to Walmart for some household stuff and while there, I browsed the clothes and pulled some to try on. I had lots of success fit-wise, and in sizes that pleased me immensely. Yay! But everything is black, black, black. Or gray. Boo! I hate those colors on me. Especially near my face.

This is in the Walmart fitting room, taken with my cell phone. Even crappier quality than usual, which I would've thought wasn't possible. ;-) The basic shapes are good (I have a similar cowl pattern, which I'll get to below), although the top is tucked up because it's too long. But that solid black is just not me. And even if YOU think it's OK, I don't, so I'll never wear it. Ask my mother. I'm stubborn that way and have been since I was 4 or 5 and she wanted  me to wear stuff I hated. Guess who won? ;-)

This one is too boobalicious, I know. But it was the ONLY top in earth tones, except it was a size 10!! I tried it on just for kicks, though, and, amazingly, it's actually not too far off from fitting. There is an underbust seam, which hits me under the bust. What a concept. This means either I'm loosing boob or the Walmart "designers" (I *had* to put quotes on that idea) use more ease these days. Probably both.

I didn't buy anything in the pics above, but I did buy this skirt below which is the same style as the skirt above but what looks black is actually brown. Yay for brown! The top is my unfinished McCall's some-number. It's way too big, but I can take it in, hem it, and add some sleeves easily. Fixing it up is on the agenda.

But white is too stark next to the skirt, so I want to make a short-sleeved jacket/cardi-something from this putty-colored doubleknit I've got slung over my shoulder.

Here are the three fabrics together. The skirt print has a putty color in it which is more evident IRL vs. the pics.

I also bought these pants.

In two sizes, because I couldn't decide which one would be better. The 18 fits but is a little loose. The 16 fits but is a little tight, but only about 5-6 lbs worth of tight — which should be gone in a couple weeks. I decided I'd do some mirror shots to help me decide because while I wouldn't care about keeping both money-wise, since they're only $20 a pair, I really don't want to hem the same pants twice in month, you know?? And I don't love black anyway. I've pretty much decided I'm keeping the 16s.

Those are the 18s above, with a belt that is riding way too high. It's hard to hold a too-big shirt in at the back and balance a belt and camera shutter button all at the same time, while trying to smile pretty and not blink. Imagine the top fitting better, and with sleeves.

In other words, NOT like this. lol

Still wearing the 18s here, with a shirt I thought might work. Until I tried it on. Don't let this shot fool you …

… it really looks like this:

More grabbing of excess fabric in the back, just to get an idea of shape. I *know* the jacket doesn't go with the pants.

This one kind of bums me out. I loved this jacket and the fabric even more. Maybe one day I can alter it down. For now, it's unwearable.

This pic below is the pants in 16 and a top that fits better, although it's really too low and my bra straps show if I don't pull it up like I did for this pic. Maybe some Hollywood Stay Tape will let me get by for a while longer.

And here's something that hasn't been seen in public in YEARS — a side-view pic of me. As you can see, the belly is still there in plenty of form. So is my butt. ;-) But it sure is nice to see a lot less of both.

Finally, what I'm really wearing today. Which I can also wear to an office if I trade flip-flops for real shoes. I want to make a short-sleeved brown cardi to finish this look and others. I will take in the sideseams and CB seam of this dress (and its sister) for as long as I can. It kind of needs it again now. Sigh.

I'm hoping to hit up the cheapos: Target, Kohl's, JC Penney and Sears (some or all, depends on what I find) this weekend. It's a scary thought, though, because I'm now fitting into so many more things and I may have a hard time leaving things at the store. On second thought, I should probably skip the stores and chain myself to my sewing machine. Unfortunately, one of the benefits/curses of losing weight is that I actually like shopping for clothes again.

Parting Shot:

"Planking," on a tree knocked down by Hurricane Irene. Can you see the clenched fists, like he's standing at attention? ;-) By the way, one year ago today Tyler left for boot camp.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Little Housekeeping

Remember waaaaaay back on August 3 when I offered up a spice collection as a Giveaway? Well, August has literally FLOWN by faster than I realized and I'm finally getting my slug-self around to posting the results:

Congratulations Sewfast! Please contact me at djc at cedesign dot com with your mailing info so I can get this box off to you (and off my kitchen counter!).

In other Giveaway news, Mareen — I've also FINALLY sent your giftie on its way via email so check your inbox!

* * * * *

I made it to Joann's for thread and made some progress on the cammie purse yesterday, but not as much as I wanted. So finishing that is on the sewing agenda for today. This style is the same one I drew up a pattern (and made numerous muslins) for the cammie purse I carry. Except this one is turning out SO MUCH NICER due to better interfacing choices. I can see that I'm going to have to re-make mine, and possibly turn this pattern into another for my Etsy shop cuz if there had been a pattern like this one when I was making that first cammie purse, I would've bought it. So I'm thinking maybe others are also looking for a similar bag style (sans cammie, probably!).

* * * * *

And in interview news — I had my second interview this morning. I left 90 minutes beforehand to allow myself some traffic congestion, and I was there in 20-25 minutes. So I sat in my car for a while and read a book I brought along (Dreams of My Father by Barrack Obama). This firm has two locations, which are not really close to each other and on opposite sides of Tampa. Last week's interview was at the main office. Today's was at the "satellite." Both are gorgeous spaces, and the one where I'd actually be working is where I was today, with the shorter commute. I got there at 8:51 AM (parking garage stamped the time on my ticket!), so I was driving pretty much during actual peak time.

It went well. After the initial "sit-down," I was walked around and introduced to everyone (and you bet I was noticing what they were wearing - kind of everything from business casual to full business). I take that as a good sign. I also take it as a sign that I may have some serious shopping and/or sewing to do.

* * * * *

And in other completely unrelated-to-anything news — I switched my car insurance from my current and long-time provider and will now save over $200 per year with the new one. Here's a shout-out for USAA. Wooot!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday Miscellany

First, thank you all for the wonderful response to my wallet pattern! I can't wait to see what everyone makes — you *will* be sharing, right??

(In case you missed yesterday's post, the wallet pattern you've been watching come together over the last few weeks is now available in my Etsy shop, and the link is at the top of the left sidebar.)

Speaking of wallets … one of my testers, Beth, has blogged about her testing experience here. I think hers turned out very cute! (Especially for a test and a beginner's first-go at wallets!) Love the purple check! She did run into a snag with fabric choice which you can read about on her blog and which was my fault since the first version of the instructions wasn't specific about recommended fabrics and the prototypes I was showing on my blog used cammie fabric. (But, surprisingly, cammie fabric actually isn't thick at all.) The instructions are updated and I have a feeling Beth will be making another since they're quite addicting.

Here's what my finished and stuffed-full wallet looks like from the side:

In other cammie news … I've been working on a Marine cammie purse order and was all set to finish it tonight, except — I ran out of thread. And Joann's closed an hour ago. ARgghhhhh!

This one is a "special order" from a man who is buying it as a surprise for his wife. (Hmmm ... I hope she doesn't read my blog!!) They have one son who is an active Marine and another in boot camp. He sent a "retired" cammie blouse from the active Marine and since both were baseball players, a lining fabric to reflect that was requested.

I think this fabric is perfect — baseball and patriotic!

It's killing me that I can't finish it tonight, but I guess I'll "sacrifice" and catch up with my DVR and just chill.

In the meantime, here's a pic of what I'm wearing today. Remember when I mentioned a while back that I was buying the Walmart capris in my current size and then a pair in one and two sizes smaller? As of yesterday, I'm in the one size smaller now. My top  is belted and bloused because it's also really too big. Without as much tummy sticking out, it hangs way too far down. Yes, I should re-hem it. And maybe I will. ;-)

Parting Shot: The Marines at Cherry Point survived Hurricane Irene without major incident. They lost power for a while and Tyler reported a soaked and dirty area rug in his 3rd floor barracks room. Yes, *third* floor, but apparently the strong winds pushed the rain under the door and they had a mini flood. But far worse than all of that was this "horrible experience" …

Click to enlarge

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Wallets for Sale … Get-cher Fresh Wallet Patterns

I'm still fumbling my way through setting up shop on Etsy, but the downloadable PDF wallet pattern is live and available for purchase, here. You can also click the Etsy link at the top of the left sidebar once this post gets buried. (I've got 10 downloadable patterns for purchase at the moment. If there's a huge run — LOL — don't worry, I'll put up more right away.)

I have a new-found respect for all the pretty photos on Etsy. Getting that perfect photo is a lot harder than it looks.

I'm still not 100% happy with my pics but I think they'll do until I get better.

Thanks to my testers! I think your suggestions were great and I've incorporated most of them into the instructions to make construction as clear as possible.

* * * * *

Thanks for all of your good wishes! The interview yesterday went very well. They've asked me back for a second interview on Tuesday, to meet with the department peeps with whom I'd be working.

* * * * *

It's kind of strange for me here in Florida to be watching a hurricane from afar. Tyler's unit flew from Yuma AZ to Cherry Point NC yesterday, just in time to be in the direct path of Irene. The pilots took the Harriers inland instead of returning to base. Once back "home," Tyler moved his car to higher ground before they were restricted to barracks. The Jeep had a dead battery so it stayed put. But it's lifted and sits very high up anyway. My sister and her husband are riding out the storm and watching over their boat at my mom's house in Eastern Virginia, while mom is on her way to Iowa to visit friends. I haven't heard any details from any of them yet, although I did hear a few mumblings from Tyler a few minutes ago when I woke him up — he's still on Pacific time so is sleeping in late. Even if they're on generator power at the base, I'm sure there's more than enough MREs around to keep everyone fed.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Back to the Future … I Mean, Wallets

Yeah, I teased yesterday with some actual garment sewing but I'm back to another wallet today. I want a few for my pattern "cover" shot, and I'm also going through tester comments and making notes for the instructions as I sew this. I really want to get this pattern finished and released already.

In other, more exciting news, I have an interview tomorrow at the firm for which I was doing the tutorials/testing. Keep your fingers and toes crossed for me. This position is only temporary but it pays well and it could very well open doors for something else when it's complete.

I've got to stop on the wallet for a while because I need to run out and get my nails done and pick up some hair stuff before the interview. Need to look my best, you know!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

HotPatterns 1120: Out of the Ashes

It's been over a month since I started this dress and set it aside because I stupidly cut pockets out of the skirt panel, but it's finally finished. (Hey, no wallets or bags today — are you shocked??)

Here it is modeled. I moved the tripod to the sewing room where there's better light. Still not great light at 11 PM, but better than my dark bedroom. I am definitely NOT as tan as I look in these pics.

Hands out of pockets

I'm not sure about this print. It reminds me of a skeleton costume.

Hands in pockets, visually adding 4" to my hips. Nice.

As I noted the last time I blogged about this dress, I was concerned about the neckline plunge. As it turns out, rightly so. It's *very* low, and this is right after pulling it up to keep it more decent for internet viewing. If you don't make a muslin like I didn't, you will wish you had.

I added a free-form ruffle thing. I didn't want a neckband or modesty panel and I didn't want a flower. So, free-form it is. Very Anthropologie, right? (Say yes.)

I cut a straight 18 for this patten. I ended up taking about 4 inches out of the CB seam at the neckline, tapering down to the waist seam.That's a lot. I don't know what size these alterations equate to, but it's got to be around a 14-ish. Some of this is weight loss and some of it is that HP are wider cut than I'm expecting. Again, a muslin would've prevented the slapdash (Hi Trena) fixes. But slapdash or not, they worked, and the dress turned out fine.

But I didn't do an FBA and there seems to be enough bust room and the dart placement is OK. However, I did cut off some of the bottom of the back bodice because shoulder-to-waist was too long and was pooling above my rear end. I'm glad I pinned things together and did a try-on. Much easier than ripping out that seam in a knit.

I didn't hem it. This is the "knee length" from the pattern. I may have added 1", but I will need to check my notes on that. I will either leave it unhemmed or I will use the hem facings. I'm leaning toward the facings because the pockets drag down the front, making the hem edge kind of puddle between my knees. I think a lightly interfaced hem facing will help that. On that note, I would advise to use lightweight fabric for the pockets and pocket bags. There is a pocket facing that will hide any non-matching fabric used in the pockets.

Now that I have it made and know what I need to change, I do think I'll make it again. But not until I've made 267 more wallets. KIDDING!

* * * * *

My studying yesterday was almost useless. I dutifully watched all 5 hours of video tutorials and then took the test. Almost nothing in the test was covered in the the tutorials. But a lot of it was general graphic and offset printing info which I know inside and out. I got a 91. I also took another test for software I haven't used for at least 4 versions and 10 years. I got an 87 on that one, with no tutorial or studying. I've always been a good test-taker though, which kind of points out how useless skills tests (and school homework, which I always skirted!) can be - since I can get a 91 on software I've never used and an 87 just winging it. I don't know yet if I'll even be called in for an interview after all this, but the headhunter is giving it her best. That's all I can expect.

* * * * *

Parting shot: Tyler is still in Yuma AZ and will likely stay there a few days longer than expected since Hurricane Irene is due to come right at his North Carolina base. But as we discussed, it's the military and he probably won't know until 10 minutes after he lands in NC. And, it's not like his Command is taking a preference poll of all the lower ranks. ;-)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Still No Clothing

I have too many ideas and plans going on in my head right now. There are about 5 purse designs I want to get into pattern form and make, and at least as many clothing patterns I want to sew. I mentioned that I picked up some Simplicity patterns on sale the other day. Three of those are skirt patterns. Before that, I added a couple of Vogue dress patterns to the collection.There are just not enough hours in the day.

At the moment purses are winning, mostly because my sewing room is already in purse-making mode (read: a MESS of purse stuff), but also because I'm not entirely motivated to sew clothes that aren't going to fit long. It's not so much the sewing, but the "wasting" of favorite fabrics. If I make something and love it, I'm going to be sad when I have to put it in the "too big" box.

So yesterday, I made a pattern and a bag for a simple tote style but one which zips. Totes are great, until you set them on the car seat next to you and then make a hard right turn and everything spills out. Plus, I wanted a less-pricey option for the M.o.M. store. That's it above.

Today, I'm going to be "studying" some graphics software. There is a months-long temporary job possibility but it requires experience with some specific software I've either never used or used a much older version years ago. I can easily work in any graphics software since they pretty much all do the same thing (generally speaking), but it's hard to get someone to believe that on just my word. So, my "headhunter" has purchased a tutorial course for me and then I'll take a test at the end which she can show as "proof" I know what I'm doing. All of this for a temp job? Yes, because it has a good possibility to lead to a permanent position with the same firm, or at the very least be extremely recent and relevant experience for my resume. So for the next 5 hours, I'll be watching streaming videos teaching me what I already know. ;-)

I'd rather be sewing.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Wallet Testing

As I said to my wallet testers earlier, the next time I grumble about Big 3/4 pattern instructions, I may have to think twice. Writing instructions and diagrams for the masses is harder and more time-consuming than it looks. ;-) But I can't stop now. My testers have made some great suggestions (with more to come) which I'll be incorporating and I'm confident that once this pattern is released, it's going to rock!

Today I worked on another (non-cammie) wallet as a tester myself. Now that I've made 362 of them (not really), I know how to do it in my sleep but I wanted to force myself to follow my written instructions verbatim to weed out mistakes and confusions. Here's my result. (I'm also trying to work on taking better pics. That's harder than it looks too. ARghh)

I used some fat quarters I picked up at Joann's last night. I told Alex I needed to run in for just zippers on our way to dinner. He waited in the car with his friend and when I came out, he told me I was in there for 30 minutes and that he could've picked out zippers in 30 seconds. Oops. I conveniently forgot to mention that I also had a list of Simplicity patterns to pick up during the sale, plus I breezed by the quilting cotton and picked up a magazine. ;-) All of that took 15 minutes, and the line another 15.Yeah, I really need more patterns, I know. Just like I needed another wallet. LOL

FNSI Projects

I didn't work on any wallets from my pattern, but I did make the Spiderman credit card holder for my son that I had planned.

It's nothing very complicated, but I did have to make two mock-ups first to get the overall and pocket size correct and make sure it still folded flat when loaded. The lunchbox panel was not the most cooperative with stitch tension so it looks a little off on the back. But Tyler won't notice that. I also tried pressing with a scrap and it actually didn't melt, so I was able to lightly press the finished wallet into shape at the corners and the main fold.

I didn't take a photo of the lunchbox I used before I started, but it's similar in style to this one. Softsided, with a Mylar/plastic-y front. $5.42 at Walmart for mine.

I cut the front off, pulled out the foam liner and then figured where Spidey's head would fall on my pattern and cut it to size. Because the lunchbox panel was narrower than my pattern, I pieced some cammie fabric to one end, which you can see in the inside view above.

After I was done with that, I tested a couple of embroidery designs and made one into this little "doo-dad" bag.I have no idea what I'm going to use it for, but sunglasses fit into it nicely.

I nearly had a heart attack last night before starting the embroidery, and then I had a case of STOOOOOPID. I put my embroidery disk into my machine and went through the menus to select the design and get it ready for stitching. Except I couldn't select the specific design I wanted. The touchscreen was not responding. I turned the machine on/off a bunch of times and tried different disks, all with the same result. I started getting a sick feeling that my machine was going to need service. Until I finally realized I did NOT have the embroidery unit attached. Duh. Once I put that on, all was well again and I felt stupid but very relieved.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Handmade by Heidi

Tomorrow is the next Friday Night Sew-In, sponsored by Handmade by Heidi. I'm in for this month. Can you guess what I'll be working on? Yep, wallets.

I may make one more non-USMC from my pattern but mostly I'm going to whip up a simple "mini billfold"" for Tyler to hold his debit card, ID, and meal card. Marines aren't allowed to have anything bulky in their pockets, so a real wallet is out. When he heard that I was making wallets, he asked if I could make him something flat to hold his cards. No problem! The design in my head is very simple, but to spice things up I'm using a panel from a soft Spiderman lunchbox I bought at Walmart the other night. Tyler loves Spidey. (I don't think I ever showed the Spidey gear shift and visor covers I made for his Jeep from sheets.) He had a great Spiderman wallet from Universal Studios, but he wore holes in it and we've never been able to find a suitable replacement. This little cardholder I have in mind will make him smile.

Click the link above to sign up for FNSI and join in the fun. Random participants are chosen for prizes on Saturday and maybe you'll win! But the real prize is just getting something done.

Parting Shot: This morning's sunrise at MCAS Yuma AZ, with a couple of Harriers ready for take-off.