Saturday, April 10, 2021

Ready Thread Go

When I first moved into this house (almost 2 years ago now!), I unpacked my sewing supplies and called it done. But I really didn't organize a lot of it to my liking. Since I haven't been sewing regularly for a while, I just grimace through it when I do dust off the machines. But my thread was irritating me just a bit too much and I realized it's been a mental roadblock keeping me from sewing more. So I decided that today was the day I would finally tackle it instead of forever searching the rows for the right color, or more likely, just ignoring sewing altogether. 


It only took a couple of hours and it's not like I haven't been inside this house most of the last year with time on my hands, so I don't know why the procrastination, but I'm guessing we've all accumulated a lot of those feelings lately so I'm not going to offer any specific excuse except to say, oh well. 

I meant to take a pic before I started pulling spools off, but whoops. I did remember after pulling off the whites and browns. 
And here are the racks completely empty. Same as when I was in my rental house, I hung the racks using Command Velcro strips. I love those for this. First, no doors are harmed, and second (and almost as important), no measuring is needed to get everything lined up. I've found that using the Command strips on some painted walls hasn't turned out as well, but a wall is a lot easier to fix than a hole in a door.  
I pulled off all the spools and arranged them in groups of colors on a blanket pulled across my bed (which is about 5 steps from the door). Also, see my treadle makeup table? I really don't have room for it anywhere else but I also don't want to get rid of it. Makeup table it is. Although what IS makeup anymore?

And then I stared at the piles for a while, trying to decide how I wanted them to run into each other. 
In the end, I went with whites/beiges at the top, going into grays and then blues, greens, black, yellows, pinks, reds, oranges. I ended up with empty rows for expansion and weird stuff on the bottom row like nylon thread, fusible thread, etc. Because of my coverstitch machine, I tend to buy multiples of the same colors. For many of those, I use straws over the pegs so I can stack spools. For basics, like blacks, whites, grays, and browns, I keep them single so I have room to expand within a color range using the straws if needed but without having to move the entire collection of spools up or down. 
And since we're on thread, serger cones are kept in 2 drawers of an IKEA unit under my machine table. 
And bobbins in Bobbin Savers behind my sewing machine. 

 

And that's probably more than you wanted to know about my thread.

I have a pattern printed and taped together, but I don't think I have fabric in the house that is suitable. So, another small project today will be getting into some fabric bins in the garage. I actually got rid of a lot of fabric when I moved so I'm not even sure what's out there, but I really, really do NOT want to turn looking in those bins into another organization project. I think I'll take my phone out there and just take some general pics so I have some record of what's there and call it done. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

In Quick Succession, Another Niagara

I trust most of you have recovered from the shock of seeing a post from me. 

Seriously, thank you for all of your kind comments. While I sincerely appreciate them all, Janet's comment of "While you were gone, I stopped by for 'advice' a couple of times" cracked me up for a good few minutes. And Bonnie@SewPlus, how did I not know about your blog before this week? I spent HOURS reading through it, wanting to make everything you've made, watching your daughter grow up (and you grow DOWN!) — and reliving a hurricane or two. I think we're almost neighbors, right? And Carolyn, I'm out of "retirement." This one's for you. :-) 

So, while the pattern was still on the cutting table, I quickly cut out another Niagara and sewed it up over a couple of days/nights. I made a couple of construction changes on this version, but that's it. 

Instead of front/back facings for the upper bodice, I made it single layer and bound the neckline opening. We're quickly heading into hot temps here in Florida and keeping the polyester layers to a minimum should be cooler. (Who am I kidding? There's no such thing as "cooler" in Florida summer.) 
This is an ITY knit from Fabric Mart a couple of years ago. It's much brighter than it shows in the two pics above. More like the right side of the pic below. Unless you're new here, I'm sure you know how I love bright colors.
No pretty enclosed seams this time, but I'm OK with that. It's faster, lighter, and uses less fabric.
And here I am, with my Old Navy joggers. Not sure if I'll ever be able to wear office shoes again. Also, see that OTT light in the background on the left? I found out that if I have it and my iron on at the same time, I'm blowing a fuse/circuit breaker. Every time. So, the light will be on its way out. I've got an LED bulb in my coverstitch machine which is plenty bright, even for my old eyes, plus another regular lamp over my sewing machine/serger so I'm really not going to miss the OTT. 
* * * * * 
Now to catch up a little on some non-sewing, mundane life news. First is my car, below. Alex was driving it to pick up some dinner and got sideswiped. (Minor accident; he's fine, but boy was I hungry by the time he finally got home.) I took it into the local dealer (not where I originally bought it) for body work and a couple of service issues. They had it for three and a half weeks and I finally got it back last night. Except they missed a couple of things so it's going to need to go back. Ugh. They promised me a free rental this time, but truthfully, I hardly missed it those three weeks. Thanks Covid. 
See this reflector where the arrow is pointing to below? That's one of the things they missed. Or two, actually, since there's one on the other side too. There's also an area where the bumper meets the tail light that needs to be re-aligned better. And I asked them to replace the wiper blades and they missed the one on the back. I'm not overly thrilled with this place. The pic below is from when my new fridge was being delivered last year. I got it right before the lockdowns and before all appliances were selling out. Thankfully dodged that bullet since the new fridge was a need, not a want. OK, it was a want too, just earlier than expected.
House update:  Shortly after moving here, we had a garage built in the back yard. It's really more workshop than garage, and it's really nice to have all the extra space for junk and projects. 
Alex update:  We're still sharing this house, but over the past five or so years, he's been building a real estate "portfolio" of rentals. In December, after selling one that he had rented out for about three years, Alex bought two more fixer-uppers in New Port Richey, which is about 45 minutes north of Tampa. That makes five houses he now owns. 

We've been spending many weekends updating floors, kitchens, paint in Alex's latest additions. Below, is the tile that was in place throughout one of the houses, but it was coming up in places, cracked in others, and not very stable.
Alex jackhammered it all up and is replacing it with vinyl plank (below). After both "new" houses are rented, the plan is to put similar flooring in our house. I don't know if my old knees can take that.
To save my knees, I've been mudding the drywall of a wall and closet we added to what was a second living room, to enclose it for an additional bedroom. The light "fixture" you see is really a new ceiling fan, just with the blades removed. The closet area used to be a pass through to the kitchen. We also added french doors to the left of this view, but I didn't get a pic.
And, finally, the project supervisors … sleeping on the job. I'm glad we don't pay them by the hour.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

576 Days

Five Hundred Seventy-Six Days. That's how long it's been since I last posted. I have no idea how that happened. But I also have no idea how the last year happened either. Holy Toledo! (But I'm pretty sure you're as happy as me to get those damn plates of food off my blog landing page!)

It hasn't been quite that long since I've sewn, but it feels close. And with mostly wadders to show for the effort, I just gave up for a while and watched all that Netflix had to offer. Tiger King anyone? Fun fact:  Tiger King is actually a local story here in Tampa, and a couple of street scenes were filmed just a few blocks from my house. I found lots of "new" or returning favorites too:  The Queen's Gambit, Good Girls, The Crown, Queen of the South, Greenleaf, Bridgerton, Longmire, and many more. 

Thankfully, I've kept my job and have been able to work from home since last March, and like most everyone who's been working remotely, I've been working/living in casual tops and stretchy pants. I had ordered some joggers from Old Navy and a few tops from Amazon after I realized that the "I can make those" sewjo just wasn't happening. I even resorted to RTW undies, for the first time in at least 15 years. 

Finally, the sewing fog is beginning to lift. Is it Spring? Vaccines on the way? A new Administration in D.C.? Yes. Life is far from "normal," but I'm beginning to think that light is actually the end of the tunnel and not an oncoming train, and the AWOL sewjo has started whispering. 

So, what's the new outfit? Stretchy pants and a casual top. Hah. Although I didn't sew the pants (Old Navy again, and I'm actually impressed with the quality of these joggers originally bought on a whim in a different color. I have them in black, navy, gray, and now this light green. No pilling or visible anything after months of constant wear! I even bought duplicates.). 

But I did sew the top, from a new-to-me Indie pattern company I came across by accident when I clicked on a random review on PR. The name of the company is Pattern Niche. At some point in the recent past, they were New Horizons Designs (which is currently how to find them on PatternReview) but  the company? owner? someone? changed names after Nintendo started using New Horizons or something like that. I really have no idea if that's correct, but I sorta saw something about it in their Facebook Group. Also, I hate Facebook Groups. 

Anyway … the pattern itself is great. (I'll get into what I *don't* like later.) The price is good (I paid U.S. $9.95). The download was fast. The PDF is well-organized, sizes are layered, and the pattern sheets are NO TRIM. Let me say it again, NO TRIM. I think every single digital pattern company should switch to NO TRIM, and PRONTO! This is not the first time I've used a NO TRIM PDF pattern so I've loved them even before now. But it was the first time I printed a PDF pattern on my home printer, instead of the (free) work printers. I have an HP 5660 inkjet and the print-out was perfect, which isn't always the case on the work printers. From the home print, everything lined up perfectly, and assembly was very quick due to the NO TRIM feature. Did I mention NO TRIM? The whole PDF, including instructions, is 57 U.S. letter-sized pages. The pattern itself is 27 pages. I have no complaints about the PDF. And I still have (free) work paper. :-) 

The pattern is the Niagara Top and Dress, line drawing below. As you can see, there are multiple views and combos, which can be combined for many different looks. The sleeveless views are not just the sleeved views without sleeves. There are different armhole lines on the pattern for the sleeveless option. I cut the tunic length with the scoop neck and short sleeve options. However, I decided the tunic length was too long in my cotton/Lycra fabric (butt Velcro), so I shortened it about 3 inches shorter than the tunic length. I also lengthened the short sleeves about an inch to be less cap-like. I think I'd like to try this dress length for summer, maybe with some color blocking and a faux button placket (the pattern has a real button placket).

The sizing seems to be accurate and the drafting is good. I used my measurements and TNT to compare and blended from the 18 upper bodice to the 24 hips. My hips and tum have seen some "expansion" during this, Our Year o' the Pandemic.

Front view on good ol' Zillie:

Back view:

Where things had me starting to grind my teeth were in the instructions and terminology, as I'll describe later. Nothing impacted my sewing of the pattern because I'm experienced and know better, but if one doesn't know what they don't know, well …. 

So, here we go.

The upper bodice is double-layer (faced) and is sewn/turned using the "burrito" method, once for the front upper bodice and then again for the back. This is a good method and the instructions and diagrams for this are fine, although "burrito" is never mentioned. Which it doesn't have to be, but it would be nice to add it in for those newer to sewing so the term becomes familiar to them since it's becoming ubiquitous. 
Here's the inside view:
Here is where I understitched the wrong side of the upper bodice. This step is NOT included in the pattern instructions. I think this is a necessary step. (Apologies for the blurry photo.)
Also not included is edgestitching the right side of the upper bodice. This is not an absolutely necessary step but it should be at least mentioned as optional. 

And then there's some questionable terminology:

  • Calling the upper bodice pieces just "bodice" and the lower bodice pieces "skirt."
  • Calling the upper bodice facing a lining.
  • Calling basting "two long straight lines between the markers."
  • Calling notches "markers." Especially when sometimes they are called notches in the same instructions.
  • Instructing to hem from the wrong side by "edgestitching." I guess this helps keep things straight, but then say it's a option if you're wobbly but also give real hemming instructions.

I often read Indie pattern instructions and feel like they really need a good editor, someone who is an experienced and properly educated (either formally or self-taught using standards) sewist. (Sorry purists. I hate the word "sewer" when reading.) The solution would be to have such a tester just for instructions. Personally, I would probably do this just for a "free" pattern because I think I'm good at it and I'd much rather edit than sew tests on a deadline. Pattern designers - want a ruthless editor? Hit me up. LOL

Lastly for this pattern, here's the top when it was still tunic length before I added the sleeves and trimmed off about 3 inches. I didn't know where else to stick this pic. :-) 

In other sewing news, I finally bought myself a clear foot for my coverstitch machine. Obviously, if I felt a huge need for it, I would've bought one years ago. But it's nice to have it and it was nice to just order it to arrive to my porch instead of trying to find a dealer with one and making a special trip. Especially in These Uncertain Times. 

In life news, especially for my "oldie" readers … last July we said goodbye to Dani (b/w dog on left below). She was almost 14 and her heart was failing. Our hearts were broken, but we knew it was time. We loved her a lot and still expect to hear her bark at dogs on TV.

About a month before we lost Dani, this big goofy pit bull found us. Her name is Cali. She looks ferocious but …

… this is her true self. 

And her best friend.

And yes, I did get on the mask making/wearing bandwagon. Stay safe out there! I'll be back soon. Definitely less than 576 days.