Saturday, February 15, 2014

February in the Studio

Hi sewing friends, and Happy belated Valentine's Day, or Galantine's Day (Parks & Rec reference), whichever applies! Do our friends outside the USA celebrate this very commercialized 'holiday'? Tell me, I am curious! I had a nice lunch out with my husband, then he surprised my daughter and I by getting home before us and making dinner. There were more surprises after dinner - dark chocolate covered strawberries. Yum. Sweet guy, right?!

A very BIG thank you to all the lovely comments, emails, and support that I received on my last post. I was very touched. It has been a 5 1/2 year long journey to arrive where I am today, and I am really happy to be here.  

My sewing room had a much needed clean out recently, as it doubles at times as a guest room. We entertained a a wonderful guest, 'Kayla' our Chinese exchange student. It was a wonderful visit, only too short. Kayla's command of the English language was remarkable, and she felt that Lauren's Chinese was excellent as well. The girls had a great time together, and both learned so much about each others' language and culture. My husband and I were enlightened as well.  Kayla brought me a gift from China, a beautifully boxed set of silk scarves. The pictures below can't convey how soft and warm and luscious they are!  I am utterly in love with these scarves!

The red & black scarf has a reverse weave on each side.

Navy & soft white.

Box label.
Sewing wise, I am going to start sewing for myself again now, rather than just modifying old items of clothes, since I am happy at this weight, and don't want to lose more. I had to pick up a few more pairs of RTW pants to add to the rotation, as the last batch of RTW clothes I bought are now too big. I think that was partly a case of not buying the right size to begin with - it's that whole getting used to the new size thing.  This time I took my daughter with me for a size/fashion consult.

What is your favorite or most worn garment/garment type that you made yourself?  I was surprised to learn that for me, out of all the clothes that I gave away/shrunk out of, the long, drapey cardis were what I missed the most! Butterick 5666 that I made in 2011 is way too big now, but I kept it and still wear it often around the house, over my clothes. It's been a chilly winter. ;-) I'll be digging through my patterns to find one I can make in a suitable size so that it looks good for actually wearing in public. 

Have you made McCall's 6844, voted the 'Best Pattern of 2013' on Pattern Review? I haven't yet, but 49 ladies have made gorgeous versions and posted their reviews on PR - go check it out!  Love the way the collar lays on this one, compared to B5666 above. It is on my short list.

Also on my short list is the Archer Button Up Shirt. Have you made it? It was a 'Best of 2013' on PR also. There have been many lovely versions in blogland, but Lori over at Girls in the Garden has sold me on the pattern with her FOUR pretty versions. It is an unfitted shirt, so at first I wasn't really sure I wanted to make it, but gee whiz now I just want to join the party! If you have downloaded/printed the Archer using a Mac, please let me know how it's worked out for you. Sometimes I have issues with pattern printing.

In other sewing plans, pants are definitely on the list - just not sure which ones. Tell me please!! What are your favorite pants patterns?  With my weight loss I have also lost my a**, so I need to acquaint myself with the 'flat seat adjustment' whilst I feverishly do squats trying to recover some semblance of a seat. Also I want to sew some work out wear, and Lauren has some plans cooking for me to sew for her.  And then there are those darn bedroom drapes that need to get done.....

February is also my birthday month, and this year I celebrated a milestone birthday. My sweet husband sent me 50 roses, one for every year! Kayla joined our family for a really fun birthday dinner out, as well as the large family and friends gathering my husband had on the weekend. She said her family is much more quiet than ours!  Kayla got a little taste of how we celebrate special occasions in our family - always with family, good friends, good food, and plenty of laughter.

I had asked my husband and daughter to get me pajamas for my birthday. I really enjoy the 'Cool Nights' line from Soma. They picked out a really cute pj set along with a lounging jacket that I am in love with and will see much wear. I don't have pictures of that, but I snapped a quick pic of the back seam seam of the pj pants, because my husband pointed it out when he gave them to me.  Look:
He said "Look how the pattern isn't matched - you wouldn't do that." Pitter patter went my heart! Love that he knows and notices that about my sewing! (Ok, so true confession time, I'm a tad OCD about most things... but still, he noticed!)

Ok, I am going to quit yakking now and go get my sewing equipment back in my studio.  But I will leave you with a few pictures of what the room looks like all cleaned up for guests - uncluttered by projects.  I love my sewing room, it is so bright and sunny during the day.

Love this locking Ikea cabinet.

Worktable with storage underneath. I need a bigger pin board!

Sewing machine sits on desk, serger on roll away table.

 Have a wonderful weekend, sew plenty and well!


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Last Few 2013 Makes & New Year, New Figure, New Focus

Hello friends, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, if you celebrate the holiday, and are well on your way to a fabulous 2014.

Posting has been slow in my neck of the web - the sewing has been kind of slow as well.  There is a very good reason for that, other than the whole holiday busy-ness.

I have mentioned before that I've been losing weight, quite happily.  This has been an ongoing process for several years, but 2013 saw the most weight and inches lost after I finally found what worked well for me. I have lost quite a bit of weight and inches in 2013, and couldn't keep up with the size dropping, sewing-wise. I found I would make something only to get maybe one or two wearings out of it before I had to alter it, and I really hate alterations.  I was making mostly knits, TNT's at that, because I didn't want to put much effort into sewing something that would barely get worn.

One day just before the holidays, I had a meeting, so pulled out my last remaining pair of dress slacks to try on. They were literally falling off, so to the mall I went. I bought a pair of black dress slacks, a pair of ponte knit -skinny jean style pants, a pair of skinny jeans, and a pair of skinny jeans in black, all in size 8.  It was really nice to buy pants off the rack that fit pretty well, and NOT in the Women's/Plus Size department.  When I started getting serious about losing weight, I was a size 16W (for the non-US readers, in US sizing, that is a 16 'plus').  It feels weird to be thin again - really, I haven't been this thin since college days - but I love it.  I'm not quite sure where my weight will settle out yet, as I am still losing. I believe I'll know when I get there.

Below is a cell phone pic I took yesterday for the purposes of documentation, wearing size 8 jeans and a size medium top, both RTW.

The point of this discussion regarding my weight loss and size change is really twofold.

First, there is  the change in my sewing focus.  I have been collecting plenty of fabrics and inspiration pictures in anticipation of the things I'd like to make, perhaps even some things I didn't feel comfortable in before because of the extra weight I carried around.  But in the meantime, I've just been slogging away at so many knits - they are quick 'n easy, less of an investment overall.  I'm getting closer to being ready to invest more time, effort, and precious fabric into garments, since I have lost the bulk of what I needed to lose.

The second point is more elusive. It's about figuring out what size I am now, and seeing myself that size.  Going shopping for the bunch of pants I bought was easy. I had no clue what size I was, none. I went to Nordstrom's, found a more than competent saleswoman, and told her what I needed. She visually sized me up and pulled a few pairs of pants for me to try on. She totally nailed it. In less than 1 hour, I walked out with 4 pairs of pants and a couple of long sleeved tops.  But on my own, whether shopping for RTW or fitting a pattern, it still isn't completely registering with my brain that I've gone down so many inches & sizes. Friday Lauren and I went out and had a very nice lunch, then went underwear shopping. I have been wearing the same skivvies as before the weight loss and really, it. was. time. I picked out several pairs in the appropriate size, but kept looking at them, thinking, will I really fit into these? I spent the last two+ decades being very overweight, and I guess it will take a while to figure out not only how to fit myself again, but really how to see myself.  Good thing is, my FBA won't be so F anymore.  ;) Speaking of busts, that is something that has changed a good bit as well.

Gratuitous puppy picture.

My sewing focus right now, and for the foreseeable future, is really just basics.  I really needed tops, so I made two more Style Arc Creative Cate Tops, one black and one red. The red was for a particular holiday function, sorry, but no pics. They are both exactly per pattern, except I made the black one slightly shorter in length.  I have worn both tops numerous times; the style fits easily into my lifestyle, and easily fits my large bust without an FBA.  I did not go down in pattern size on these tops from my previous makes, although if the fabric were stretchier, such as a lightweight rayon knit, I definitely would grade down. I like that these tops as sized are roomy, and since there is not a set-in sleeve, it works out fine.  The black fabric came from Gorgeous fabrics some time ago, I believe, and is a nice ITY. The red fabric is from Marcy Tilton, and is one of the Parisian Microfiber Knits she sells.  The fabric is every bit as lovely as she describes it on her website. I don't get paid to say that, just sharing the fabric love! It's been in my stash a good while, so not sure if it's the same red she currently has stocked.

Red Creative Cate, untucked, but too roomy to wear untucked. Scroll down to see tucked. The Black CC hangs in the background.

Aside from a black ponte pencil skirt that I purchased last minute to wear to a social event (worn with the red Creative Cate), I had no skirts in my wardrobe, so set about to make some. The Pamela's Patterns Magic Pencil Skirt I made in October? I lost a few pounds/inches before I got to wear it, so now need to take it in to make it wearable. And really - I lost my backside when I lost weight, despite all the squats I've been doing, so the darts I put in need to come out anyway. (See discussion above about figuring out how to fit and see myself how I am now..)  Of course, it's always more fun to make something new than to redo something you just made, right?

 Skirt #1 is a mid-calf length, houndstooth check, lightweight ponte in black and gray, no pattern used, elastic waist, one seam, back slit to knee.  It has been years since I have worn a skirt this length, so I took some pictures, seen below, of the unhemmed longer skirt, and then folded all that fabric up to get an idea of a just above the knee length skirt.  My remote battery was out of juice, so this was a little tricky!  Despite all the lumps and bumps from all the tucked under fabric, I like the above knee look better. The second picture reflects a little higher than I will actually hem the skirt. More pics to come after I get up in the studio to get this finished!  I also made a scarf with leftover houndstooth and black ponte knits that I forgot about until now, so I will get that photographed also.        

Photographing at night, with beige walls, in a black & gray outfit, with no remote, ugh!

Skirt#2 is a refashion from a dress that languished in my wardrobe for a couple years, and was now too big. It was a garment I bought but never wore - still had tags on it. I took the scissors to it, cut off the bodice, and voíla, a new skirt is born. In these pictures, I have the waistband folded over to bring the hem up above the knee. I like that length better, so will have to decide if I am going to a) redo the hem, or b) redo the waistband. The hem is the original dress hem - I'm leaning toward redoing the waistband - easy peasy - just make a new elastic circle and serge it on.

The light was fading fast, so I am trying to hold the lampshade up for light while snapping cell phone pics.  I know, a new low in blog photography.

The original dress with tags.

I found myself also in need of slips.  Using an oh-so-lovely and luscious black knit lining fabric from Emma One Sock, I made a simple slip the same way I made skirt #1, just based on my hip measurement, but made the slip just below the knee length.  I hemmed it using a rolled edge stitch on my Babylock serger. The black slip is hanging next to the black Creative Cate in the high quality cell phone picture above.  I have also done several slip refashions, where I have taken larger and longer slips and made them smaller and shorter.  I'm wearing one under the gray skirt. ;)

What's in the immediate sewing future? This week, I intend to take down the Christmas tree take a new set of measurements, and put in an order for Style Arc. I see a few of their new patterns I'd love to make. I am in need of some work out wear that fits, so that's high on my list - more knits, ha! I have plenty of performance fabrics for that purpose.  Earlier this year, I did pick up the White Shirt Project again and re-muslined it, but didn't pursue for reasons discussed above. So that's back on the list again sometime later this spring.  I may try to squeeze in a quickie winter coat, since the one I own is much too big also. Lauren and I were scheduled to fly up to Cleveland for a couple of days just before Christmas, but had to cancel. We will be going up soon, and this Florida woman has no coat! The weather has been pretty wild up north, y'all, what a winter!

Right now as I am finishing up this post on Sunday eve, the temp is 66F.  We had a cold front last week, and are due for another in the next 24 - 48 hours. Now, I know it's nothing like what everyone in the continental US north of say, Florida, is dealing with at the moment, but at least it gives me a chance to wear a couple of sweaters and scarves! We are supposed to get down to the 30's, wahoo!  Please stay safe and warm wherever you are, and be careful in your travels during these winter storms.  Be well, and see you soon!

It's chilly! (Last cold front)

Christmas Sugar cookies by Lauren

Happy New Year

Thursday, October 31, 2013

October's Sewing

Hi there, another month done, can you believe it??  I pledged last month to sew a garment a month, when SarahLiz set up the challenge.  You can read about it over at SarahLizSewStyle.  Since I am really lacking in the wardrobe department right now due to a totally new size and shape, I decided I'd work on sewing some basics, and I also committed to working through the UFO and 'take in' piles.

 I began October by making the positively reviewed Pamela's Pattern's Magic Pencil Skirt in a remnant of grey Ponte left over from another project.  It is a true 'quickie' pattern to sew up, and a great wardrobe basic. Not much to say that hasn't been said about this patterm. A bit challenging to capture the right color.

 Styled on my dress form:

Next up I put this skirt construction method to the test. This was based on the Threads article that showed how to make an easy to alter skirt.  I am happy to say it was truly easy to alter! I removed the hand stitching where I had sewn the lining to the zipper tape, pulled up the lining, and basted both side seams a couple of times until I found a good fit. Then I serged up those seams, and had a new, wearable skirt. One thing about this is that I was able to reshape the sides so I could wear the skirt higher at my waist. This also made the skirt a little above the knee rather than mid knee.  I've only had this on in the house for a quick try-on. I need to wear it for a little while to see if I need to go back and make a back slit or vent, since it's both smaller and shorter now.

Zelda wasn't too sure about the dress form!

Third in line this month was a simple slip refashion (above with the boucle skirt).  I had a very old (vintage, lol) slip I think I purchased in high school. It has a lace trim at the bottom, the waist elastic was shot, and it was mid-calf length. Well, I don't really need that length, so I shortened it from above. I cut off several inches, applied new elastic, and boom! I have a brand new slip that is wearable again!

The fourth sewing project of the month was to sew up the pillowcases I'd long ago pledged to Rhonda Buss' Mary Bridge Pillow Case Project.  They were fun to sew, and the fabrics were so bright and cheerful!  Rhonda, if you're reading this, they are going out in the mail in a day or two!

My favorite, the Dr. Seuss pillowcase.

The fifth and final sewing project, a garment, was made just under the wire yesterday!  I went upstairs to cut the pattern out around 1pm, then sewed it yesterday evening after dinner.  My daughter needed a simple black dress with a gentle A line, for today. It is actually for a costume, but is nice enough to wear as a regular dress. I used the most fabulous Ponte, which I think was purchased at Spandex World. It is a heavier weight with super snappy recovery. I am definitely buying more in black, as it would be great as pants or a jacket. I wish you could all feel this fabric! This morning I hadn't had my coffee yet when Lauren left for school, so I forgot to snap a picture!  I took a couple quick shots before the onslaught of trick or treaters came. As far as the pattern, it was pretty basic; it was a New Look, but that's all I've got on it tonight.  I'll do a review of this pattern another day. When Lauren came home from school today, she said she loves the dress and wants to wear it all the time, it was so comfy. She said she told everyone her mom made it. How sweet is that?

These pictures are not great. Evening, indoors, black dress... I lightened them as much as possible.  I'll try to get daytime pics when I write the review.

She dressed as Kiki from the film "Kiki's Delivery Service, by H. Miyazaki.  The bow was a bit wilty by this late hour. 

Great stretch and recovery, no 'bagging' in the seat!

I am looking forward to creating several more wardrobe basics for myself in November.  Don't forget to click on over to SarahLiz's blog to see what everyone has been up to!

Happy Halloween,


Monday, October 7, 2013

Garment a Month Challenge

The lovely Sarah Liz of SarahLizSewStyle is hosting a garment a month challenge. I have been in need of some motivation lately to get some garments made, so this is just the thing! Come on over, grab a button, and join the challenge.

I am in desperate need of some new clothes, as I have just a few things recently purchased and a few things I've made that fit.  This weekend I went through my patterns and pulled a stack of patterns up for consideration, and have been culling that stack down to a reasonable number, with the emphasis on the basics, because basics are what I need at the moment. I ordered a few patterns from the most recent BMVsale, as well. Unfortunately, all of my Style Arc Patterns are out of the running because I've gone down a few sizes and don't want to grade them down.  I am throwing a couple of indie patterns in the mix, along with the usual suspects. Losing weight has only one downside that I can think of: TNT patterns are no longer TNT. But I can live with that.  Time for some new TNT patterns!  I'll be back next week with a list and a plan, if all goes well.

October started off with some sewing - a Magic Pencil Skirt that is awaiting hemming, and a blouse muslin that still needs a little work.  There are some UFO's floating around the studio that need finishing; my goal with those is to complete one a month until all UFO's are FO's. I don't have too many, thankfully. A very dear friend's dad passed away this morning; I will be traveling to the funeral, and need something to wear. After I click post, I am headed up to the studio to pull out a LBD UFO to see if I can make that work. Cross your fingers and wish me luck!

Until next week, happy sewing!


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Makeup Brush Rolls and Many Thanks

Hello!!  Thank you all for your comments and emails after my last post, and for all the good thoughts and prayers.  I am happy to be able to say that our daughter is much improved, and pretty much back to life as usual.  It was a stressful time for all of us. Any of you who have children know that you are only as well as your sickest child, and no matter the age, watching your child suffer just makes your heart hurt. When I was young, I used to wonder why my mom prayed so much, with such constancy. As a mom, I know. I have one child; my mom had six, so she always had novenas going!

I needed to sew something non-taxing and fun while the stress was high, so I whipped up a couple of makeup brush rolls.  Recently I had purchased a nice set of makeup brushes for my daughter, and thought it would be nice for both of us to have a roll up case for traveling.  After reading the myriad of tutorials on line, I used this tutorial at Sew 4 Home. It was a good tutorial, although if you are very new to sewing, you may need more detailed instructions. My favorite part about the tutorial was the part about using waxed paper to draw your lines on and then sew through to get the individual pockets.

Fabric was purchased from Hancock's Fabrics - the dot fabric is laminated cotton (wipes clean), the only choice they had in store.  The green and black are quilting cottons, and I used cotton batting between the laminate and the black fabrics.  I made double fold bias tape out of the green fabric.  The brush rolls are so similar, I decided to add black grosgrain ribbon as ties to mine to distinguish between the two. I customized the pockets in mine to accommodate my particular brushes. The open brush roll above is my daughter's - the pink arrow shows where I shortened one of the pockets by sewing horizontally. The eyeliner brush is a shortie, and otherwise would get lost in the pocket.

The dotty laminate fabric is a bit crooked, oh well! This was a fun little project, and the closest I have come to quilting. I would like to make another set of these with more 'sophisticated' fabric choices when I find a suitable laminated cotton, and may make some as gifts in the future.  Overall, my daughter and I both like these rolls a lot; they will keep our brushes organized while traveling.

On another note, I lost another 20 pounds over the summer, so literally nothing fits, except a couple things I recently purchased. Out of all the clothes that I've made, I only have two tops that are still wearable.  The plan is to formulate a plan - not my usual m.o., but necessary right now as I need to replenish the basics.  I'll be back soon with something to wear. 


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Trying Times

This summer my little blog has suffered from a lack of attention from moi.  It was a busy summer for me and my family. The busy summer was good busy and fun busy, exciting times looking at colleges, traveling, and spending time with my girl. Spending time with family and our fun little nieces and nephew.

Two weeks ago fun summer ended and school began, senior year for our daughter. Along with the beginning of school and her birthday came something much less welcome. Our daughter started a new medication which caused a type of meningitis - a noninfectious type. The first two weeks of school have been hell for her - she is very stressed - AP classes, college apps, etc.  What we don't know is how long it will take for the inflammation and symptoms to subside. 

So for the time being, my focus is helping my daughter through this trying time. My sewing machines and the blog will gather some more dust. When life is back to 'normal', I'll be back. If you're the praying type, please keep my girl in your prayers.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Summer Sewing Update

Hello friends! It looks like my little blog has become quite the sporadic thing lately, which was not my intention! Truth is, it's been a busy summer, with no sign of slowing down. In fact, we just arrived home this evening from a long driving tour of colleges.  So glad to be home.  Let's talk about sewing, shall we?

Thank you for all the comments and input on my last post regarding the shirt muslin. It's good to have the input, and to know that other ladies have similar fit issues.  For the ladies out there in my age bracket, it's good to have your commiseration.

 I have to begin with my latest creation, a bra.  Seriously, I want to jump up and down in excitement over this bra, the 'Shelley Bra' by Beverly Johnson of Bramaker's Supply. (Michele, are you reading this?) Truly an excellent pattern. I participated in the bra sew along that Amy at Cloth Habit hosted a while back, and came out with some knowledge about bra making and a too-small (in the cup) bra muslin. I used a Danglez pattern - not one I would recommend for anyone who is a bra making virgin, as I was then. Shortly thereafter, I ordered Shelley, but just got around to making it recently. I wish the Shelly pattern had been my first bra pattern - it's got amazing directions. I'll do an actual review and post pictures later. I still will need to tweak the fit - the size I made was maybe 2 or 3 cup sizes too big, but even at that I could see that it was amazing, and really, really comfortable. When I ordered the Shelly pattern, I also purchased Beverly's bra making manuals, which will be helpful with the fit changes. More on Shelley to come, but for now here are pictures on my dressform. It really is a lovely bra.  If you've made the Shelley Bra, what are your thoughts on the pattern? I would love to hear from you about your results.

Wider band = comfort!

This summer I also made Kwik Sew 3740, view B, the sleeveless, simple knit 'tank top', in a white, knit piqué fabric. Although it is a recent purchase, for the life of me I can't remember where I got this fabric, which had lousy recovery and some defects. Apparently I did not take pictures of this top, despite numerous wearings. Review and pics forthcoming another day. Spoiler: I will make this top again, just in different better fabric.

A few weeks back, I made yet one more muslin (#5? #6? Lost count!) on the shirt from last post - B5678. I took into consideration the helpful comments on the last muslin. I'm pretty happy with the fit after bringing in the seams for a closer fit and taking out some width above the bust. I may need to take the shoulders in a tad more.  One day soon I'll make up a final, wearable version, and possibly several versions. Maybe I'll try some of Rhonda's great collar variations!

Last post, I showed the lining to Pamela's Pattern's Favorite Bias Skirt. I finished the skirt (except for hemming) complete with the draped zipper technique that I mentioned, a Petersham waistband, and tab & button closure. It was a well made, well fitting skirt, but I just wasn't feeling it. It was looooong. I'd initially planned on mid-calf length, but pinning it to that length, it was still... meh. My daughter had a strong negative response to it, and hubby complemented it when he saw me try it on. I emailed my friends Rhonda and Myra and asked for honest opinions. Sewing friends are great! Thank you both, your thoughts on the skirt were both welcomed and helpful.

After letting the skirt marinate for a bit, I picked it up one day and hacked it off at the knee. Tried it on again and decided it did not have the slimming effect I was looking for. The skirt is currently in 'time out' with it's side seams unpicked. We may, or may not, see more of this later. Win some, lose some.  Maybe I should have been suspicious of the fact that PR had only 1 review of this skirt... Regardless, sewing on the bias is a good skill to practice.  In addition to that, other skills revisited in sewing this skirt were 1) the petersham waistband with tab button closure, and 2) zipper insertion in a bias garment.  Even if this skirt never sees the light of day, I can chalk this one up to good practice sessions.

Original, unhemmed length
That might be the KS3740 top I'm wearing.

Just before we left on our driving tour of colleges, I cut and sewed the body of a red circle skirt for my daughter.  She is attending a function in character this weekend, and asked for a red circle skirt with horsehair braid at the hem.  I'll be finishing that up while attacking the mountain of post-trip laundry tomorrow, and hopefully get pictures to post.  Horsehair is something I've yet to use, so I am looking forward to seeing the result.  If you have any tips, please share!

Now that I'm about to post this, it's time for a good night's sleep in my own bed.  After I catch up on my blog reading, that is.

Thanks for stopping by; I'll try to be back sooner!