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.

39 comments:

  1. Hello! Welcome back. It is nice to see you posting again and I am glad you’ve gotten sew-jo back. Sorry to hear of the loss of your pup. It’s never easy to say good-bye.

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  2. So glad to see you back! You’ve truly been missed. I enjoy reading about your sewing adventures!

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  3. Great to hear from you again, Debbie! Glad to hear all’s well and that there’s sewing as well as a new dog in your life!

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  4. Oh hello! Glad you are back. I want you to edit patterns. Yours is one of the few reviewing voices I trust to say what you think.

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  5. So glad you’re back! You’re still one of my favorite sewing bloggers. I learn so much from you!

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  6. Welcome back ๐Ÿ˜Š thanks for the review

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  7. So glad to see your post this morning! Funny, just yesterday you popped into my mind and thought how much I missed your posts. And now, here you are! Cute top. Looks comfy.

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  8. So Nice to see you back ๐Ÿ˜

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  9. Great to see a post from you, Debbie, and to hear your sewing and life updates! Very pretty top and no one writes a review like you do.

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  10. So good to see you sewing and posting again, Debbie! I was just referring someone to your Coverstitch tutorials last week -- still the best references out there all these years later, IMO. Hooray for your ferociously snuggly pibble, too. I'm glad she found her way into your hearts and into your home. And yes, if we're taking up a petition, add my name to the list of pattern purchasers who wishes that Debbie Cook had edited every pattern before it came my way!

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  11. It is great to see you again!

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  12. Welcome back Debbie! Too long, and love seeing this top.

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  13. Just gonna tell you again that it's a joy to see this blogpost from you.

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  14. Glad to see you back! Your insights are always so helpful and spot on.

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  15. I've been reading your blog so long that I recognized "Zillie's" name! Nice to see you again.

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  16. I actually like that top. Or maybe it is just your make. I agree you should be gifted patterns in exchange for editing but there are some really ugly patterns out there.

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  17. So good to see you post again! I love the top! So sorry to hear about Dani. Losing best friends is hard.

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  18. OMGoodness, great to see your post come up! Nice test review of the pattern. So sorry about the loss of your pup, we've done that enough in our life, but still got another Lhasa Apso, our ninth! You're like me, another dog shows up for you! Glad about your job too.

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  19. Sew glad to see you back!! You've been missed. My sewjo has been AWOL too!

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  21. Welcome back Debbie, I have missed you !
    This top is really pretty, thanks for the inspiration.
    And your new canine companion is adorable........

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  22. Welcome back! I have missed your posts: your honesty regarding sewing (or not sewing), your expertise, and your sense of humor. Loved the "butt velcro" comment. Continue to stay healthy and sewing.

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  23. Welcome back!
    While you were gone, I stopped by for "advice" a couple of times.

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  24. Welcome back. Great review. I’ve missed your writing. Covid 19 lbs. has hit many of us.

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  25. SO GOOD to read you again, with your refreshing take on things. Welcome back! Don't stay a stranger!

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  26. Debbie!!!! So good to see you again! :-D

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  27. It’s so good to see you a back! So often I consult your cover stitch info and tutorials to help better my sewing. Thank you for that. You have been missed.

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  28. Glad to see you back!
    How is the (now old) new house? Glad you were able to work from home and you’re finding your sew jo. I’m so sorry about the dog, but she had a GREAT life. Unfortunately, losing our animals is part of our life with them. I retired 12/19 shortly after spouse of 44+ years passed away. What a weird year it was!

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  29. Yay! Welcome back. You were missed!

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  30. So great to hear from you! Happy sewing & I do hope your sewing mojo returns and we get to see more of what you’re up to!

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  31. She is Aliiiiiiiiive! :-) You've made lots of people happy posting, including me. How does it get to be 576 days? Easy, by thinking "not today", "nothing to post", "don't want to", etc. I did it for 5 years once.

    Great news on keeping the job and work from home situation. Bummer on the sewing mojo fleeing, but yay it's coming back, even if slowly. My garment sewing mojo left when I retired (a few months before virus crap hit), replaced by quilt and needlework mojo. The new top is sweet and looks very comfortable and would go with lots of bottoms. Old Navy joggers - I may need to investigate for those rare times I go out and don't want to wear jeans.

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  32. I finally got over here from IG to ready your post and want to say "Ummmmm could we not make this non-blogging a habit!" I find that I'm reading blogs more lately (work from home too) since I'm already on my computer. So appreciate my faves coming out of retirement. Yes, I said RETIREMENT! *LOL* BTW, the top is so you as well as the constructive criticism!

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  33. Glad to see you're back at the machines. Sorry to hear about Dani. It's hard when we lose our little friends. Look forward to more updates.

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  34. Great to see you again. Looking forward to finding out about your new projects.

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  35. I was so happy to read a new post from you and to hear you are doing well. Last year was very different for all of us. Cute top! And I hadn't heard of the no trim PDF patterns. I will need to check them out.

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  36. Wow you are back, every time when I was killing time I looked, and I am not a foodie. Nice to see you although to be honest how any of you keep blogs up and sew is way more than I could do.

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  37. So glad you are back and that things are well with you, I've been checking your blog like once a month :) The downloadable PDF patterns with no trim are great, I just started using them. I print them on 8-1/2 x 11 newsprint paper from Amazon. Cheaper then regular printer paper and easier to cut through. Looking forward to your continued posts!

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Thank you for each and every comment. I appreciate them all, but I have to be honest and let you know that I'm usually bad about answering questions. I hope you understand that there just isn't enough time in the day to do everything I want to do.

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