Monday, May 28, 2012

Still moving forward but through a zig zap pattern!

I have been sewing again, but just haven't had time to post. I was really sewing with a purpose because I had a very eventful month this month. Last Thursday, my granddaughter graduated from Harvard Graduate School of Education, and of course, I needed to be there. She's my first grandchild, born when I was just a child of 42, and she's had her eye on the ball ever since. We're incredibly proud of her. She's not only smart, she's very focused and knows where she's going. She decides on her path, and just moves forward through all obstacles. She's the first of us to graduate from College at all. Well, besides my Associates Degree that took me until I was almost 60 to get! LOL Have to share her picture!

So I would look pulled together, I made a pair of jeans with my standard trouser pattern but with the big patch type pockets, and slightly slimmer, as well as another pair of casual navy pants with the patch type pockets. Pictures will come later after they come out of the wash. I am going to have to do some minor alterations to the pattern as they both have more ease than I want. Yoo Hoo! That pattern fit very well at the first of the year.

As a Northern California resident, I do forget how different the weather is on the East Coast! We had threats of thunder storms all week, but it was beautiful, sunny, overall warm, and HUMID! Where I live, there is minimal humidity ever. Good lesson learned. Next time I go to visit, I will have light weight linen garments in my bag. Most of the items I had were just way too warm for the weather there. I wore my Hot Patterns Linen blouse several days, and the first of my Sorbetto tops in a cotton interlock a couple of days. That was even a little heavy!

So now as we have entered the warm months, my sewing will be concentrated on making garments that keep me decent and covered, while breathing in the heat, and trying to look professional as we go along. I did see a woman at Boston Logan Airport that gave me an idea for a pair of pants that may work through a few sizes. I'm wondering... the pants, which I will make at knee length for summer casual wear, had laced grommets up the sides with an underlayer of fabric. I'm thinking that I could make casual pants using my TNT pattern as a base. Then put some flaps along the side seam with grommets in the flaps and lace them up. I'm not sure if it would work, but I THINK maybe I could use them through a few sizes by just cinching up the laces until the side flaps are touching? I'm going to play with that idea today.

I'll also be redoing the Sorbetto top back to the normal size and making the FBA to see how that works, cutting out my grey trousers for work, doing laundry so I can post the jeans and the new navy pants, and generally getting to sew physically and mentally on this marvelous Holiday! I don't usually get to take Holidays so I'm going to enjoy this one for sure! Although I do think my spouse has some plans for us time too. We'll see how the day goes!

And for those in the States that have served, Thank you!

More later!

Friday, May 18, 2012

So here's the latest Sorbetto Top

This is the one that made me realize that there is no other option than a FBA. It will be fantastic for summer, but not quite there for right now.

I did a regular bias binding around the neckline, but the armholes are just serged, turned and top stitched. This is a piece of fabric I bought many, many years ago in Kauai that I was going to make a long halter jumpsuit with. The jumpsuit never got made, but I have had several tops out of the fabric. For summertime it makes me feel tropical, even if I'm just in Northern California.

I've got the next pair of navy pants started. They have patch pockets that are a little like pockets on cargo pants. I had a pair with these pockets a few years ago, and they're perfect if you're on the moving downward end of weight because you can take in at the side seams without losing your pockets. Always a concern. I'm hoping they'll work for the next 15 or so pounds.

I'll post pictures tomorrow.

Hope everyone gets a sewing weekend!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Just thinking of things

As I was working on finishing my next Collette Sorbetto top, I started making mental lists. It's something I do too frequently without getting the thoughts on paper. So I figured I'd share with you too.

!. Probably most important: NOTE TO SELF ~
No matter how lazy you are feeling, or how much you'd like it to be true, adding extra inches at the sides of a garment do not and WILL NOT EVER substitute for a full bust adjustment. You know it, so just don't go there.

2. The Sorbetto top worked well with adding inches to the sides in a knit...DUH! but not so well in a woven. PERHAPS everyone who says you can wear a size smaller in a knit than a woven knows more than I do! I need to go back and do an FBA and get this pattern working right for the wovens. It is a perfect TNT summer shell for either wearing under a jacket for work or on its own for play. Once it actually fits correctly, I have a half dozen or so "design changes" in mind.

3. I reminded myself that I am not going to have any more UFOS if at all possible. Which means I finished that top mentioned above even though it may hang in my closet for a month or so while I continue to shrink.

4. Moving on... something you may not know that works super well. When making a top with a cowl, if you add a small pocket on the inside bottom of the facing with a snap closure and insert a coin... quarters work really well... it keeps the cowl facing inside where it belongs.

5. When starting and ending a seam, if you reduce the size of your stitches to 1.5 or so, it eliminates the need for backstitching, and eliminates bulk. Just remember to increase it again when you are past the crossover seam allowance, and reduce again towards the end of the seam. It is HARD to tear these out, which tells me it's good for keeping them in!

6. Pants. After trying every pants pattern known to man, I took a pants drafting class from Don McCunn of How to Make Sewing Patterns fame. It was the smartest thing I ever did. It takes me less than an hour to do a new draft. A few minutes longer if I'm doing quarter pockets. It will fit my body perfectly. Everyone else I know takes a pattern, redrafts it to what they think the alterations are supposed to be, does a muslin, figures out more changes, alters the pattern again, and so on for at least a few tries before they get an "acceptable" fit. I don't understand why everyone doesn't draft their own patterns! Once you have a perfectly fitting pants sloper, you can add design changes and make whatever you see!

7. When making pants, if you insert a piece of twill tape in the curve of the back crotch seam about 3 or so inches long, you won't tear out the seam even if try. Or at least I can't.

8. The video on You Tube by Sandra Betzina in how to install a fly front zipper should be watched by everyone who makes pants with a fly front. Since I watched that video, I haven't screwed a pair up and all my trousers have flawless fly fronts. Well, from the outside. I have put the fly cover piece on the wrong side a few times! But that's on the interior and no one knows except me. LOL

9.7. I have to find the time and SOON to perfect the bodice sloper. I signed up for Don's on-line class for that, he calls it the "upper torso" class because it has both men and women in it, but life got in the way and I didn't finish it. That is on my list for this year. I need to perfect my bodice sloper and also draft one for my hubby who is short and muscular from working construction, and has a hard time finding shirts to fit.

10. David Paige Coffin is a genius. I aspire to be as brilliant as he is. I took a class in men's shirt making and we used parts of his book as a textbook. If I had done the men's upper torso sloper mentioned in #9 first, and used the entire book as a textbook, the shirt would have been perfect. It was pretty good, but unfortunately, not knowing how to fit men's shirts made the result go to charity. If someone tells you the way to judge a man's neck is to pin your pattern together on the person, and cut until it fits around his neck, don't listen. It doesn't work and the shirt won't fit correctly.

10. David Paige Coffin's book on Trousers, is also brilliant. Anyone who sews trousers as much as I do needs to have this book. I absolutely LOVE his inseam pockets.

11. I learned to do neckline binding from a Stretch and Sew Pattern for "French Tees." It is easy and I used it on almost every shirt I make that doesn't have a collar whether it be woven or knit. The trick to getting it to be flat is to sew with the binding on the top, and stretch the binding until it slightly cups as you're sewing it to the neck edge. Don't stretch the neck edge. Works great.

12. I've been sewing for about 40 years and only learned how to do mitered corners when I learned how to do the neck bindings. Just sad, really. But that's what happens when you're a self taught sewer who won't admit she can't do something that "everyone" knows how to do.

13. Sewing machines should not be sold with a foot that has a "lip" at 5/8". (US) Also a 1/4" foot with the same lip, and a narrow edge foot with the lip down the middle for top stitching, etc. If I had those three feet when I learned to sew, all of my garments would have looked much more professional. The narrow edge foot with a machine where the needle will move sideways even will make perfect double rows of top stitching without using a double needle and having the zig zags on the bottom.

14. Buying serger thread with two regular and two wooly nylon cones (for a four thread serger) in all of the main colors you use for sewing is a bit pricey to start with but in the long run saves you time and effort. I have navy, black, white, ecru, and various blues. I use them frequently! And, yes, I do have a bit of perfectionism. But I love the insides of my garments to look as good as the outsides!

Enough. Back to my new navy pants. Even though I didn't technically finish the SWAP, I'm moving forward with my plans. I have another pair of navy trousers cut and started, a piece of the gray for the gray pants suit on the cutting board, jeans up next and more fabric ready to go for more pants and spring and summer tops. I need to do some power sewing over the next few months. I'd like at least four more pair of work pants and a half dozen or so woven blouses, plus the knits, oh, and a few more jackets, and some overblouses.

Hope you find something helpful in the above thoughts.
More later!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Quick update today

Work's been super busy again, and Holidays seem to intrude on my sewing time. Not that I don't enjoy my time with my children and grandchildren, but taking a day or more to cook, travel, and visit does cut into my sewing time. Need to pull those knitting needles out again so I can knit while I'm visiting. In other news, it was one of my granddaughter's birthdays as well as Mother's Day on Sunday. I had promised her a lap quilt, and started Friday night. Of course with work and the rest of life, it wasn't finished by Sunday, but I did have a top to show her. It still needs to be quilted and sashed, but that will go quickly. I really like the bright colors myself, feels "beach-ey" to me, but she was thinking she'd like something more subdued. Here's a couple of pictures.
Next Colette Sorbetto top is cut out and waiting to be sewn, and I finally got the navy cotton twill as "on grain" as it's going to get, so I can cut out another pair of navy trousers. Now to work! The cotton pique for the Sorbetto can be seen in the white pieces in the quilt top. It's white with giant flowers in blues and purple and green, bought in Kauai in the 1980s. It's going to be fun to wear it this summer. More later! Lynda

Sunday, May 6, 2012

SWAP didn't quite make it, but here is the last post and today's.

Well, I started this on March 26, and then wanted to wait til I could upload the pictures. Who knew it would take over a month to get back to it! I hope this isn't too confusing as it has the initial post with added comments along with the pictures. Couldn't turn down work when hubby is still off. So I got Saturday, Sunday, and today (March 26) instead of four days. But I did get some things done. I finished the Hot Patterns Weekender cowl. It is okay and I can wear it around home, but it doesn't fit right, and I'm not enamored of it. The "inset" was just wrong. Without elastic it hung down below the boobs, and with elastic it pulled the front armholes in, and still hung too low so didn't do any extra coverage. The neckline isn't right for me either, and the back doesn't match the front. Perhaps if I had made it form fitting, it would have been okay, but that's not something I like on me at this age and weight! My husband's comments... the front looks formal and the back is too short and looks like work wear. So the bottom line is that I will keep it and wear it around here with a tank under it. Not for work, unfortunately. BUT, I did find out that cowls are an attractive alternative for my current body and shape. That's a good thing to know as they are so ubiquitous at this point in time. In my mind, I think I'll use my TNT Pamela's Perfect Tee pattern and just draft a cowl neck on that so I have something I know fits well and is a good jumping off point Looking back at this, I was a little incorrect. I started wearing it around the house, and it's SUPER comfortable. It does have a few issues, but I do like it. I'm going to work on this one for fall and winter. It should be a keeper for the cooler months.
I drafted a pair of workout pants, and made a muslin, using my sweatshirt fabric, which will become pjs. They are okay, but needed a slight bit of tweaking. Then got the second pair underway, and they're about half done. So today those get finished, and hopefully along with them at least one tee and preferably two. But I seem to be getting distracted a lot with outside issues, and not having my full sewing day as I wanted. These are pretty good looking for workout sweat pants, VERY comfortable, and get worn almost every day when I get home. Here's a picture when we took an afternoon and drove out to Grizzly Island. The tee is one I made for my SWAP also.
Christmas before last I decided that I'd make everyone sweats for Christmas, and bought ten yards of sweatshirt fleece in navy, black and gray. None of them got done, so I have a LOT of sweatshirt fleece around here. I may also use a piece of matching color to make one of the sweaters with long drapey fronts. I must have a pattern around here for one of those! Even though I went and bought about 4 of the patterns with the waterfall front cardigan, I wound up using my Petite Plus sweater set cardigan for this. I had made one already (this year or December?) in a gray sweater knit, so knew it would fit. It's definitely going to be a TNT! It's another, super comfortable, fits well, and will get tons of wear! I only have a picture of it on Lulu, not on me. But here it is:
On another note, Spring has arrived, and with my blogger "friends" getting organized, the bug has hit me too. I love to cook and wind up cutting out and printing recipes off the internet regularly. When we figured out I'm gluten intolerant, it made for a lot of recipe searching to find things I could eat. Many more internet recipes printed out to try. So then I have all these bits and pieces all over the kitchen and can't find what I'm looking for. So this morning I took a couple of binders, my three hole punch, tape, and binder paper, and taped the little bits onto binder paper, hole punched the computer paper and got them at least categorized into areas. I worked on this for a couple of hours, and still have some to go, but I can see an end to the madness! I love being organized.

Pre Dale, I had everything exactly where it was supposed to be at all times, and I WAS one of those women that have their spices alphabetized. 10 years into our marriage, and I realize after seeing what a total slob he is, I kind of gave up. So I have had a bit of my own mess going. Well, no more. As I'm doing my SWAP, I'm also organizing and moving things around to make them more user friendly. Last night I actually moved my serger in next to the sewing machine. I've been using parts of a few rooms for my sewing things, and now I have those two right next to each other with the ironing board adjacent. Will make things much easier! Less running room to room, and more production. Gotta love that! Moving on: I also got another tee done, a rayon-lycra, super comfortable, goes with both my navy and grey cores:
Then, instead of our normal cool and rainy Spring, we got hit with almost full on summer with temps already into the 80s. I wasn't that excited about continuing to make long sleeved blouses, so I switched my focus to things I could wear right now. I had downloaded the Collette Sorbetto Tank Top after seeing it on so many blogs. I didn't have a lot of faith in it fitting me as I've been trying to get a tank to fit properly for almost 3 years now with not much luck. I got this one to fit and was so excited! The muslin got pinned and chopped, and morphed into the first tank, which I figured was a trial garment. The fabric is fine, and will go with my grays and black too, but it wasn't going to be a huge loss if it didn't work out. I know I got it on sale for a minimal price and it was a small piece, so it worked out perfect to use it for my "wearable muslin." And I have worn it a few times already. Looking at it on it's own I can see some things that need to be changed, but it works great with gray or black trousers and a cream colored jacket, and I've worn it for work a few times already. Bad picture, but you can see it.
Second try with a few tweaks was an oatmeal colored cotton interlock knit. This one I actually put the pleat in the front. It'll go with tons of stuff I already have as well as the grey and navy of my swap. Sorry this one is on Lulu too, as I haven't actually worn it yet.
I'm thrilled I joined the SWAP even if I didn't get enough garments completed to be officially a finisher. It got me to try several patterns I had not used before, do some muslins and really look at fit of things, and got me back into sewing if not every day, at least a little bit every week. So for me it was a huge win. And in other news, I got a new doctor, who happens to be a homeopath as well as specializing in sports medicine. She's working with me on getting my knee to actually heal and helping with the other issues I have going on. I found out I had actually torn my meniscus, so it wasn't in my imagination. I am back in the knee brace every day, doing some PT, paying attention to where and how I'm moving, have a cane to use on bad days, and back to icing on a regular basis. In addition, by correcting a few other items I had going on, I've finally started to lose weight again. Good news and bad news. Bad news is I had to redraft my pants pattern because it was too big. Good news is IT WAS TOO BIG! Unfortunately, I have a lot to lose at this point in time, but I'm hoping to be like Debbie Cook and just keep on sewing smaller clothes and losing until I get back down to the weight I'm supposed to be. :P}} It's going to be a long process, so hopefully I'll get to just keep drafting smaller and smaller sizes for the next year or so. In actuality, I love drafting pants patterns, so it's not a strain, nor is it an issue. Construction jobs around here just seem to have completely dried up, and we're thrilled Dale was able to keep working on a more or less regular basis as long as he did. But he's now switched to a new career, and will be doing Home Inspections on a full time basis. He's got his first few under his belt, and is making contacts, and hopefully will be fully employed by the end of the year. It's the perfect niche for him. He's meticulous, exacting, and knows more about building houses than anyone I've ever met. It should give me a little breathing room so I can get some free time to sew again. Now off to make the third version of the Collette Sorbetto Tank, and cut out my next pair of slacks in the right size again. Hope your Sunday was great, and I'll try to get back more frequently.