Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Vacation Update

My Christmas vacation is cruising by and (as usual) I haven't acccomplished half the things I had hoped to do. We did have a White Christmas, though. It began to snow on Christmas Eve and we woke up to this on Christmas morning:


I had hoped to have the BWOF sheath dress done by now, but I've been caught up with Christmas and spending time with the family. My oldest son has been home from college and I haven't wanted to waste a minute with him. I have made some progress, however. This is the gathering on the left raglan seam, the one detail on the front of the dress:

As you can see, I chose to use a dark rose pink gabardine from stash for this dress. (My monitor makes it look a bit darker and more red than it is in reality.) You've seen this fabric before. I used it for S2694, the Empire Military Dress. I am very happy to report that this project used up the last of it!

I still need to finish the neckline with facings and hem this baby. Then it will need a good pressing. I hope to have pictures to share soon...
I have also gotten a little bit of stitching done during my nights off. I like to "watch" TV while I work on a project. Cider House Garden is really starting to come together:

Pardon the fold lines. They will go away once it's done and I press it and then stretch the linen.

In other sewing related news, I have obtained a replacement free-motion foot as well as the neccesary cotton thread and batting to quilt the Sheep Quilt. Wish me luck. It will almost be a miracle if I can get this quilt totally 100% finished!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

BWOF 09-2009-138 I

I got a strange surge of motivation this past weekend, and I made a muslin of this lovely dress from the September Plus section of Burda. Now this dress doesn't look like much- just a simple princess seamed sheath with a little gathered detail at the raglan seam. What you can't see is the lovely fishtail hem in back which is slightly longer than the front of the dress and which is attached with a flattering curved seam! Very nice.
I traced and cut a straight size 46 with one inch of length added through the waist. Once I had the muslin together I tried it on and... it was... promising. The skirt was just a smidge snug. No problem- a slightly smaller seam allowance should take care of that. The top, however, was the problem. Well, that and the waist. BWOF seems to draft their patterns for someone with no waist. If I go by the measurement chart, I would actually need an even bigger size to accomodate my waist, but as it is, I always end up having to take the waist in. What is up with that? Anyway, taking the waist in is no problem. The bust fit okay, but the top, in front at least, was just overall a little too big. The shoulders were slightly too wide, there was just a tad too much fabric under the arms, and the front was just a tiny bit loose. All in all- about like I would expect a RTW dress to fit.
I compensated by adjusting the pattern down to a 44 through the waist, and the front pieces all the way to the neck. So what I have now is a 44 in front all the way down to the hip where it goes out to a 46, and a 46 in back which cinches in to a 44 at the waist. I don't plan to make another muslin. I'll use a stash fabric to make a "wearable muslin" and adjust as I go. If it works, great! If not, I'll decide then whether to continue or toss the whole thing!
I need to go dig through the stash now...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Shifting Perspectives...

I'm warning you- looking at ModCloth is dangerous! I've found another dress I want to knock off, and I don't need to wait for spring for this one: This is the Shifting Perspectives dress and I absolutely love it! I've looked around a bit and I think I could make a pretty accurate version of it using New Look 6643:

I'd have to make a few changes like eliminating the vertical darts, (making it a necessity to use a knit) and adding the color blocked panels. But all in all, I don't think it would be too terribly difficult. The hard part is finding the time and the motivation to get started!

Speaking of motivation, I'm sadly lacking right now. Somehow I cracked my free-motion foot! Yep, after only about a half dozen practice sandwiches, my foot is useless. I should be able to get to my dealer to replace it on Monday, but right now I am, shall we say, miffed.

Anyway, my two week Christmas vacation has begun and hopefully by the time it's over I will have a couple of finished projects to share. I've been sadly unproductive this year, and I'd like to start making up for it. Wish me luck...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I Can't Wait for Spring

I can't wait for spring because I will be knocking off this dress:
This is the Fugita Garden dress from ModCloth. Isn't it awesome? I love it! Thanks to Angie for introducing me to this site. I'd never seen it before, but they have some really cool stuff- go check it out!

I'm already scouting for fabric (I'm thinking black, white, and one color- similar to the print in the inspiration dress) and I've got some ideas about what patterns I can use to get this look. If it weren't for the fact that it's only about 20 degreees outside right now, I'd be tempted to start on it now!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Free-Motion Quilting- Getting My Feet Wet

This weekend I decided to try out the free-motion foot I bought months ago. I have three full size quilt tops waiting to be quilted and it's high time I did something with them. Here is my first attempt at free motion-quilting:
Yes, it's a mess, but honestly, it turned out much better than I expected it to. (Oh, yeah- I expected a tangled, mangled disaster!)

This is my second attempt:

It's better, but still not great. I think part of my problem is that I don't know where to go. I make a nice curvy shape and then I panic because I don't know which way to go next and so I ended up with lots of sharp points and crossed lines. Still, though. I don't think it's too bad. The back looked (relatively) nice and I didn't have a single pucker, so that's good.

Here's attempt number three:

Aaaaah. Now we're getting somewhere. The key here is that I slowed down. I set my machine speed to medium and just took my time. Yes, some of my stitches are too long, but my lines are curvier and I don't have any crossed lines this time. I don't have as many points or sharp angles either. Once again, the back looked good. In fact, the only way I could tell the back from the front is that I used a different color in the bobbin.
I'm going to dig out some left-over quilt blocks I have lying around and practice on those. I want to get a feel for what it's like to quilt across seams, and see if the different pieces affect my ability to "meander" effectively.
I need a lot more practice at this. I also want some of those gripper gloves that machine quilters use. It's hard enough holding onto a 12" square "practice sandwich." I can only imagine how hard it is to manuever a whole quilt!
In other sewing news, the high-waist skirt is pretty much done except for hand stitching the hem. I'll probably tackle that tonight while I watch Criminal Minds on TV. I'm not promising any pics yet, though. It's been cold and wet here and I don't know when I'll be able to get outside to take a good photo. Hopefully by next weekend. I start a two week vacation next weekend and I hope to have a lot of sewing and finished projects to share! (I hope I didn't just jinx myself!)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Quietly Sewing Along

I've been quiet for the past week, but I have been sewing. New Look 6909 is on hold. I finished the muslin and I really like the dress, but of the two stash fabrics that I had in mind to make it, I don't have enough of either. So, I have to wait until I can go to the fabric store and find something else. Hopefully this weekend (fingers crossed!) I will be making the view in the photo, but with the 3/4 length sleeves. The cap sleeves are very cute but the longer sleeve will be much more practical where I work.

Since I couldn't go ahead as planned with the dress, I decided to work on M5590. I've been wanting to make this skirt for a looong time. I love the high waist- this pattern just screams my name. I'm making View B- the one that hits right at the knee, but without the waist tabs. I want to be able to wear this skirt with a top tucked in or untucked- so no tabs.
This is my fabric- a black and white mini houndstooth. Very versatile. The pinstripe in the background was a contender for NL6909, but since there wasn't enough, it may become another M5590!

I have the lining put together (Yes, that's right- I'm actually lining something!) and the outer skirt is mostly done. As you can see from the photo I have the facings put together and finished. It's time to put it all together. I can't wait to wear this! Stay tuned for finished skirt pics!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Vogue patterns were on sale yesterday at Hancocks so I picked up several. Here's what I got.

This is V8577. I love the knee length blue version. I'll probably wait until Spring because this seems like a warm weather pattern to me, but I can totally see this in a nice linen. The view with the collar and sleeves also intrigues me. I'm imagining it in a cotton print- maybe a 30's repro- with contrast collar, cuffs, waistband and pocket bands. Knee length, of course!

This one is V8613, a knit shirtdress! Once again, I love the blue knee-length version, but the short print view with the cap sleeves is really nice, too. I love the extra seam at the shoulder and the gathers at the bust instead of darts. A muslin will definitely be required.

And here we have V8511. This may be my next project. I love both views, but I'd really like to make the view with sleeves right now out of a pretty tweed. The sleeveless version would be great for summer made in linen.

The muslin of NL 6909 is almost complete. I sewed one cap sleeve on and I want to sew a long sleeve on also so I can decide which one I want to go with. That's right- I said "go with." The muslin fits, I like the look, all I have to do now is pick a sleeve and start cutting!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

BWOF 11-2009-112 Crash and Burn

BWOF 11-2009-112 is officially a wadder.
I adjusted the skirt (by removing 24" of width) and stitched it to the bodice and tried it on for a preliminary look. It was awful.
The satin really was a bad choice for the lining. The skirt was just way too bulky and made me look at least 15 pounds heavier (and dowdier) than I really am.
The thought did cross my mind to take it apart and try using two layers of the chiffon for the skirt, but that would have been a lot of work, and quite frankly, the bodice didn't look good enough to make me want to go to all that trouble.
The narrow cut of the shoulders combined with the ruffles made my shoulders look narrow, and that combined with the bulky skirt was not a good look. (Imagine a pyramid!) The bodice gaped, and even though I planned all along to wear this with a cami, the striped fabric caused a crazy optical illusion that made my boobs look saggy and unnaturally placed all at the same time.
And the color did nothing for me. With my hair color and skin tone, this fabric just did me no favors.
So all things considered, I decided to just stop work on this and move on. I felt bad for a day or two. After all, I don't like to admit defeat, I hate wadders, and I used a lot of fabric on this stupid dress. But then again, the fabric wasn't flattering and it wasn't going to look good on me no matter what I made out of it, so it's better to just have it out of here, right?
I thought about posting a pic of me in the dress just to show that it's really the right decision to quit (and so maybe someone else can learn from my sorry experience) but it's raining outside so I can't take photos at the moment. And quite frankly, I'm not up to embarrassing myself. Take my word for it- it looks bad.
The best thing to do in a situation like this is to just jump right back on the horse, so to speak, and start a new project. I'm thinking about NL 6909. With my age and body type, simple, body skimming styles seem to work the best for me. I really like the version on the model in the photo. I even have a cute pinstripe fabric in my stash waiting to become something fabulous. I'll need to make a muslin to test out the stand-up collar. I think that's the cutest part of the dress, but I don't know how flattering it will be.
I'm off to dig around for some muslin fabric.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

BWOF 11-2009-112 II

The bodice is done! (But not pressed!) Sorry about the sunlight and shadow pics, but I have to snap when I can- if I wait until I get home from work tonight I won't be able to get a decent shot. And the colors are truer in these photos anyway.

You can see my striped main fabric and my satin lining (shiny side goes against the skin). You can also see my ruffles. I didn't follow Burda's instructions. They called for using a rolled hem finish on the ruffles, which would have been pretty, but... I couldn't find my serger instructions so I couldn't set up the machine for rolled hemming, and I didn't have the right color of thread either. I would have used a dark red/maroon to pick up the red stripes in the fabric.
I didn't want to wait to make a run to the fabric store for thread, so I cut the ruffles double width, folded them along the length and gathered the raw edges. It's a little bulkier, but the fabric is so light that it doesn't really matter. I'm happy with it so far.
I got the skirt seamed yesterday and the lining and outer skirt basted together at the waist. But the skirt is HUGE. The outer skirt is cut all in one piece (with only one side seam) 103 inches wide!!! That is a LOT of skirt. I've decided to take it apart and remove some of that width. I'm not sure how much yet, but I'm thinking at least 24 inches, maybe more. As it is right now, the skirt is just too heavy (the satin, even though it's lightweight, just weighs it down). I think once I remove some of it, it will be fine. Satin may have been a strange choice to line this with, but I plan to wear this during the cold winter months so I needed something with some substance to it. Also, it gets quite windy here, so a skirt with a little weight to it is a good thing.
Stay tuned for a skirt update next time.

Monday, November 9, 2009

BWOF 11-2009-112 I

I was feeling the need to start a totally new, fresh sewing project, and the November issue of Burda was at hand, so I decided to go ahead and start on dress #112.
You can't tell much from the magazine photo except that the wrap front gapes when you wallow in the grass. I'm not planning on doing much of that so I thought I'd go ahead and give the dress a try.
I chose a semi-sheer poly chiffon type fabric with thin stripes for my main fabric and a coordinating caramel colored satin for the lining. The colors are actually a little bit warmer than in the photo.
Originally, I thought all the ruffles were a bit much, but my fabric really looks kind of "blah" from a distance, so I decided to go ahead and use the ruffles (as in the tunic version) to liven the dress up. I'll have to let you know how that works out...

I made a muslin out of rayon challis. I cut a straight size 44 which seemed to work just fine. I did notice a couple of odd things about the pattern, though. First, the shoulders are cut very narrow. The shoulder seams are way up high on my shoulders and my shoulders actually stick out into the sleeves. After checking the photos and drawings in the magazine, I think it's suppossed to be that way. The "waist" seam was in a weird place, too- at least on me. It was too low to be "empire," but too high to comfortably wear a belt over it. So I added 1.5" of length to the bodice to bring it to a better place for me. I highly recommend a muslin if you are thinking about making this dress.
So far, I have the bodice assembled, the ruffles applied and one sleeve on. I'm not really following Burda's instructions- it's an easy dress to assemble and I decided to do things a little differently to save time and to ensure a nice finish on the inside. More about all that in the next post.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Most Beautiful Place on Earth

Costa Rica is definitely one of, if not the most beautiful place on Earth. I was there on business, so I didn't really get to do much, but I got to see an eyeful, and I enjoyed every minute!

Here I am with some bananas. I'd never seen them still on the tree!
This is the hotel where we stayed. You can't see the mountain in the background (trust me, there's really a mountain back there!) because it's shrouded in clouds.
The flowers and plants are just amazing!

This tree is huge and it must have at least a dozen different plants growing all over it.

Here I am in front of the tree. Check out those big green and yellow ivy leaves- they're huge!

For some reason, this is all Blogger will let me upload right now. I'll try to add more later. It was a fantastic trip, and if you ever get the opportunity to go, I wholeheartedly recommend it!
I think I'm going to go work on a sewing project for a little while. More on that later, too.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Checking In

This is just a quick blog post to check in and let y'all know I'm not dead. I've been working in Costa Rica for the last two weeks and I simply haven't had any sewing or sewing related stuff to blog about.

Costa Rica is an absolutely beautiful place. Even though it was a business trip, I had a great time, met some wonderful people, and had some incredible food. I'll share some pictures in the next post!

When I got home late last night, the November issue of BWOF was waiting for me. A couple things jumped out at me.

I'm liking this breezy dress, 112B.

I even love the fabric they chose for the model. It looks easy and comfortable, and it goes up to a size 44, so with the full skirt, I shouldn't have to grade it up. I like the tunic version, too. I'm not sure about all the ruffles, though. I think either the neck ruffles or the shoulder ruffles, but not both. I'm not quite sure about the raised hem in the front, either. But it would be easy to just cut it straight.

I'm kinda liking these pants, too. They are #126 from the Take One Make Four section. I love the seaming and the insets in the front. I like cargo pockets, too, even though they aren't always a good look for me.

Now that I'm back from my trip I need to get busy making some things for the cold weather ahead. Hopefully I'll have a project to share soon!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Road Test Results and a UFO

I test drove the new knit dress yesterday and I am pleased to report that it passed. I actually got a few complements on it! Although I have to wonder if that wasn't so much because of the dress itself, or because I work in a super casual environment and a dress- any dress- is going to stand out. In any case, the dress is a success and I'm pleased with it's performance. The fabric, with it's minimal lengthwise stretch, was a good choice.

After making the dress on Saturday, I was itching for something to do on Sunday, but I really didn't want to trace a new pattern, or worry about a muslin, so I pulled this out:

Yes, it's a knitting project. Now I don't really consider myself "a knitter." I don't really make anything but scarves, which are just long rectangles. I love yarn, I love knitted things, I even love the sound and the feel of my bamboo knitting needles as I make scarves. I just can't seem to get past the scarf stage. I'd love to make a sweater- I even have a sleeve almost finished- but I just can't seem to wrap my head around anything more complicated than a scarf. I get lost in a pattern. I can't seem to keep up with the increases, the decreases, and the pattern repetitions. And then there's the dreaded gauge. I actually found a sweater pattern that looked easy enough for me to attempt, but I could not for the life of me get the correct gauge. If I got the right stitch count, the rows were off, and vice versa. I gave up.
Scarves are great because the gauge doesn't matter. I can just cast on and knit- literally. I almost always knit, hardly ever purl, so most of my scarves are garter stitch. And since most of the time I use novelty yarns, it doesn't matter anyway.
This project is a simple garter stitch scarf in Yarn Bee Truffles, which I picked up awhile back at Hobby Lobby. I made a scarf out of this yarn (blue and green colorway) last year and I adore wearing it. So I thought I'd try another color. This one is called Out West and it's a combination of red, teal green, tan, and chocolate brown. I'm not sure I'm liking it yet. Since the photo was taken Sunday, I've knit up almost the whole ball, and I have approximately 18" of scarf. This is a ladder yarn with shiny satin bits and fluffy matte bits. When it's knit up it makes a really cool textural fabric. I'll cut enough fringe for both ends (this yarn fringes nicely, too) and then join the second ball and knit until the end. Then I'll finish it off with the fringe and wear it. With the weather cooling off the way it is, it'll be scarf weather soon.
I hope to have this finished by the end of the week (famous last words.) I'll have to remember to take a picture and share.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Another New Look 6802

So I wanted to make NL6802 again in a less stretchy fabric to see what would happen.

And here's the result. I'm liking it. I used a novelty knit from Hancock's that I've had hibernating in my stash for probably two years. It has a really nice multicolored horizontal stripe, a little bit of shimmer, and a pointelle pattern knit into it. It has just enough horizontal stretch to make it suitable for this dress, and almost no lengthwise stretch. I think it's going to work great, because the first version of this dress had a lot of lengthwise stretch, and it tends to grow throughout the day.

The only problem is that this fabric is a tiny bit sheer, so I have to remember to wear a slip.

I pretty much made this version exactly the same as the last one, except I shortened the sleeves, and I had to cut the overlay on the crossgrain to take advantage of the stripes (and the stretch!) I love how the stripes seem to flow over the upper arm straight into the overlay. A happy accident, I assure you.

The princess likes it, too. And since I had a good 2+ yards left of this fabric, (what was I thinking buying so much?) I think I might look for a suitable pattern to make her a "matching" dress.

Now, back to the sewing room!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Filler Blog Post (Or Shannon's Picks from the October BWOF)

Wow. It's been a week and a half since my last post. I have absolutely no sewing news to share. I haven't touched my machine in probably two weeks.

So I thought I'd at least check in and share my picks from the most recent BWOF issue. I have to admit upfront that this issue just isn't thrilling me like the last two. That said, there are still a couple of cute things in here, and I wonder if I won't come back to this one later and find some gems that I'm just not seeing right this minute.

I think my favorite thing in the issue is this jacket, #130 from the Take 1, Make 4 section. I love the vague military styling (the stand-up collar, the epaulettes, the pockets with button flaps, and the tabs at the cuffs), and I have some cotton velvet in my stash, which is the recommended fabric. Mine is periwinkle, though. I think that could be kind of cool.
The only thing that bothers me about the jacket is that it's cut very straight and boxy. There appears to be no shaping at the sides or the center back. That means that I would have to make a muslin and then probably some significant adjustments to make this flattering for my curvy figure. While I'm sure the finished jacket would be worth it, I just don't have the energy right now. Sigh...

Next up is this very simple knit dress, #117 from the Little Black Dress section. The magazine calls it Dancing Queen, and styled like it is on the model with the big floppy hat, it does have a very 70's vibe. The drawing is pretty blah, but I see some real potential here. I'm seeing it in a beautiful knit print, worn with a pretty cami underneath. (You know, to keep things modest. That neckline looks like it's pretty low!)

I like this one a lot, too. This is dress #119, shown in black chiffon and in grey flannel in the photos. I love both the dresses, but I really don't want a sleeveless dress right now with the weather getting cooler. I'm going to file this one away, though... Maybe later.

And last we have dress #113, also from the Little Black Dress section. I L-O-V-E this dress. From the double cap sleeves to the neckline, from the empire sash to the flattering (and easy to alter) princess seams, this dress is hot. Too bad I don't have anywhere or any reason to make it.
There are a couple of other things that I like, but these are the ones that stand out to me right now. Like I said, I may come back to this issue later and be captivated by something entirely different.
It's Friday night. I'm exhasuted from this week and ready to collapse into bed right now, but I hope to get another knit dress cut out this weekend. Maybe I'll have some sewing to share before too long. Cross you fingers for me!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Sampler for My Girl

Here's a little birth sampler I designed and stitched for my daughter a few (seven) years ago. It's stitched on 28ct Carnation Pink Cashel linen using Caron Waterlilies, Weeks Dye Works, and DMC floss. Mill Hill beads are sprinkled across it. The focal point is the footprints at the top. Yes, those are real. Hard to believe now that her feet were once that small... smaller even since this was made when she was a few months old.

At the top of this photo you can see the Caron Waterlilies in color #088, Mountain Meadow. The inspiration for the colors in the sampler came straight from this beautiful silk thread in shades of pink, gold, and green. Right below it is the Weeks Dye Works over dyed cotton floss in "Cypress."

Here you can see the tiny cross stitched duckies and some of the fancy stitches and beads.

And in this portion there are tiny back-stitched rattles, my daughter's name, birthdate, and birth weight, and some more duckies and hearts. There are lots of hearts in this piece because she is so dear to me.

I loved the colors so much I also bought a piece of creamy yellow linen and added her footprints in pink paint, thinking I'd make this again in a slightly different colorway. I will probably go ahead and do it. It will be interesting to see if what kinds of changes I make to the design now after seven years.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I'm a Knit-Wit

Well, I said I might cut out a knit dress yesterday, and I did. Sewed it up, too.

This is New Look 6802. I've been wanting to make this for a long time, but I've been putting it off because I'm not very experienced with knits, and because I was leery about the fit.
It turned out okay, though. I made a size 16, with a 1/2" FBA and 2.5" added to the length of the skirt. I used the sleeve pattern from BWOF 01-2009-110 (from a couple of posts back) to narrow the long, blousy sleeve, and make plain, long sleeves. I really like them. I didn't realize when I was making pattern adjustments that my chosen fabric had as much stretch as it did. It has significant lengthwise as well as crosswise stretch, and honestly, I really didn't need to adjust the pattern at all. The fabric, by the way is a cotton knit, I believe with a touch of lycra- it's pretty "springy." I picked it up summer before last at Hancock Fabrics.

The dress is cute, and super comfortable. I'm going to wear it to work tomorrow to test drive it. I'm worried that it might "grow" thoroughout the day since the fabric is so stretchy, but we'll see. I may end up having to hem it a little bit shorter.
Hopefully I'll have progress to report on the high waist pants soon.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Progress and Something Pretty

There has been progress this week on the high waist pants from my Fall Sewing Plan. This is the front with the pocket:

Not a lot of progress, but I've been taking it slowly and working on them here and there during the week. I hope to get a big chunk done this weekend, but I'm not going to sweat it.

And not to stress anyone out or anything, but Christmas is right around the corner. Now is the time to start working on gifts and decorations, and to start shopping, if you haven't already.

This is a little tiny piece I stitched back in 2001. It's high time I finished it up into a little Christmas ornament, don't you think? The motifs on this piece come from the Christmas Memories sampler from Just Nan. This little ornament was included in the sampler leaflet. It's 2.5" by 2.75" stitched on antique white evenweave, in DMC floss, metallic thread, and Thread Gatherer Silk 'N Colors. It features tiny, backstitched gingerbread men and angels (my favorite parts) a tree decorated with metallic gold, packages wrapped in shiny gold, and it's sprinkled with tiny gold beads and pearls. I can't wait to get it made up and see it on my Christmas tree this year. It's been lying in a drawer, forgotten for eight years!
I've spent the early part of the day sorting and organizing some of my needlework stash. (I had no idea I had so many skeins of Caron Waterlilies!) and now it's time to sew. I'm going to work on the pants for a while, and I may cut out a knit dress.