Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New Year's Post

Happy New Year! Happy New Decade!

I can't believe it's been August since I last posted. It blows my mind to think how fast the rest of 2009 went. Nothing in particular ate up the time but the idea of saying goodbye to a close friend left me in a mood to avoid all things for a bit. Alas, the beautiful Nealla Rose and her lovely, wonderful mom left for Ireland just before Christmas. It makes my heart ache so I'm focusing on their first care-package from their second home.

Since I've lost all momentum, I'll just show a quick recap of some projects.

The baby blanket pattern is from Bend-the-Rules Sewing, the Ironing Board Cover pattern is from and the review for the tops can be found on pattern review. I still need to write one for the skirt; I'm woefully behind!

I thought it would be helpful to review my goals for last year and think about what I'd like to accomplish this year. Then I re-read last year. Ha! Boy, did I miss the mark! Mostly, I forgot about them in my quest to complete projects. Rather than bore you with the analysis, let me just say that I would like to renew my wish to work on the following items.

    Sewing - Related
  • fit my Uniquely You dress form
  • make some toy society drops (1 every other month)
  • conquer the underlining anxiety
  • incorporate my serger into my sewing

  • Exercise 4-5 times per week
  • Keep up with friends
  • Eat a more healthy diet (more water, less sugar, nutrionally balanced, less processed)

There, that was short & sweet.

So, just before Thanksgiving I made another drunk purchase. This time it was a used New Home / Janome serger. I had been looking but my intention was to wait until late 2010. I don't really have time to learn a new machine. I clicked the "buy it now" button, though, so it's mine now. So far, I've just cleaned and threaded it. The tension discs may need adjusting but I think it will work out fine for my purposes. I'll try to get to it later this month. Pretty cute, though. I threw in a picture above.

Coming soon is a coveted prize. My mom has decided to get rid of her sewing machine and I'm really happy she asked me if I wanted it first. It's a behomoth - a Consew Industrial. The story goes that Mom went with my Grandpa just before I was born and picked this machine out. It arrived the day I was born. Almost every piece of clothing I wore until 8 was created on that machine. When I was little, the lightening fast needle scared me. It didn't take much encouragement to get me to stay clear. Mostly, I remember climbing around underneath it. In high school, I attempted a costume for a homecoming float but other than that, I don't remember sewing on it. When I married, Mom created the most beautiful wedding dress with it. Last week she told me that was last thing she made on it. That was over 15 years ago and I am no longer married. And, now, it's coming to live with me. I am so pleased. Maybe, I will one day make another wedding dress for me using it. I'll see if I can dig up some photos of me and the machine for next time.

Happy New Year!
Rachel S.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Cute Baby Post

Guess who came to visit last night? The beautiful and talented Nealla Rose! Isn't she the cutest ever?I adore her faces and smiles. I'm now super-motivated to try making some pint-size clothes!
Happy Friday!
Rachel S.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Guts of the Matter

I'm skipping the ongoing wonky saga this time so I can bring you...the guts of my sewing machine. This morning I sat down to practice some buttonholes prior to sewing up a pillow for the couch. I haven't really done too many buttonholes on this machine in the year I've had it. Well, let me tell you how NOT to machine stitch a buttonhole.

It all comes down to this: play it safe. If, when practicing, you decide to use a different bobbin and thread be sure to set the bobbin with your "fashion" thread far, far away from your sewing machine. Ugh. I don't know quite how it happened but I began a second buttonhole and the wheel became very difficult to turn. Closer inspection showed that the thread from the bobbin I wasn't using (and had set behind the machine on the table) had somehow became entangled in the hand-wheel. Oh boy. The Offending Bobbin had been previously sitting on top of the machine. I guess the end stayed behind when I moved it. Gobs of thread were wound around the wheel. Everything had to come apart. The photo on the left is after most all but a few bits were removed. You can see thread wound around the inner part of the wheel in the one below.
The thread managed to burn into the belt where it got lodged between the belt and the cogs. There are some burned and shredded bits on the belt now. I cleaned them off as best I could and have decided to keep with this belt for now. Here's another shot topless.
It all turned out surprisingly well in the end but I was a little anxious there for a half-hour or so. All that was needed was a screwdriver and a cool head. An interesting afternoon but not something I'd like to repeat anytime soon. From now on, I'll be keeping any thread not in use far from my machine! : )

Now, back to buttonholes...

Rachel S.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Month of Wonky

It's been about a month and it has ALL been WONKY. Oh I've been doing some sewing. Quite a bit actually. Nothing fancy. Almost nothing has gone right. Don't get me wrong I'm not paddling down the river singing a sad song yet. I keep trying. Of course the misses have not inclined me to create a blog entry but I finally decided that it's all just laughable so I might as well post.

First, Wonky Curtains.
This is how we roll in tight living spaces in (parts of) San Francisco. I give you: the view from living room window.Aren't those pipes on the neighbor's house cool? Almost like really grotesque wall art of some sort right in my living room. I realize that this is going to repulse most anyone who comes across this while sitting in their roomy, reasonably-priced duplex or apartment with backyard and garage or (better yet) their HOUSE. Natch. I am, regrettably, (sorta) used to it.

So, I (desperately) needed some curtains and had the opportunity to purchase some medium-weight linen for a nice price. Ready-to-dye was available and I've been wanting to try fabric dyeing so I went through a few tests and decided to dye a batch to match the new color DB painted the living room walls. [Formally, they were a terrible baby-poop brown - sooo glad that's gone.]

I'm getting to the wonky part, I promise.
The new walls are a celery / avocado green. Originally, I purchased the dye used for my test online. At the time, I had thought we would be going with a really light purple so I purchased that one and a few others - no green. Thinking I would save time I went local and purchased a different brand. Now I should have known something was up when I noticed that the first tub I took was a very different looking color from the one behind it. Figuring the ones in the back would be more fresh (the color was similar among those in the back) and on target, I selected one of those. Went home, dyed my fabric and guess what? The color was perfect. I mean SPOT ON. I felt deadly! It turns out I even had a color of thread in the stash to match exactly. I carefully folded the fabric and set it aside as I couldn't get around to actually sewing the curtains until the following week.

Fast forward...I had placed the fabric near the window in the bedroom (the one that gets a lot of light) and guess what?! It FADED where exposed to the sun! Now I used soda ash to set the dye, a dye fixative, AND a professional cleaning agent that is also supposed to help fix the dye - just to avoid this very thing (I mean they are going to be curtains after all). I believe I purchased old stock. ...And that's all I have to say about that. That, and grrrrrrr!

Since I used so much fabric and we still had need of curtains, I decided to move forward with making them. I'm pleased with their construction. I'm hoping that the strips of faded color will grow larger and then I can re-dye. I think that's probably not going to happen as little direct sunlight gets to these particular windows but I can't think about messing with them further at the moment. August is a new month. Here's a photo of 'em hanging (I know, you can't see the fade patches - my camera isn't that great anymore but they're there, trust me). You can see some of those awful pipes peeping through the right window. At the moment, they're hanging on a cafe rod because we mistakenly grabbed the wrong setup. I'll move them when I get the kitchen curtains made. They're simple. They work. They are a knock-off attempt of some I saw in Romantic Home Sewing, Cottage Style Projects by Christina Strutt. [On a side note, I'm really happy I purchased this book. It focuses on simple decorating using linens and printed muslins. The library copy was becoming a pain so I decided to buy it. ]

I'll save the Wonky Shirts for the next post (or maybe the one after that - it's soo depressing). (Also on the menu are Wonky Mug Mats and Wonky Pillows.)

Happy Saturday! (And goodbye Wonky July!)
Rachel S.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

BWOF 06-2006-124 - Test Muslin #1

Among other things I've been wanting a tank pattern for jersey knits (with elastene) that is figure-fitting but appropriate for work. I have this RTW that I purchased at Ross. One of those cost-$8-and-it's-one-of-the-coolest-things-you've-ever-worn items. I pretty much only have BWOF patterns and few Vogue patterns I purchased on sale. Since I feel very much overspent in the sewing department, I wanted to find something from what my current inventory. The closest I could find to what I was looking for is from the June 2006 BWOF, #124. The front (featured to the right) is cute, huh? What you don't see is that it's been slashed into three pieces. That's the part I like best.
Here's the part I like least. I mean it is ok, don't get me wrong. It just is not something I could wear with a skirt and a jacket to work. So, I've been trying to modify it so that I have the three pieces but the back goes all the way across.
I've also been having issues with my BWOF blouses and tops. They just always seem to need a lot of extra taken in at the sides. On things with a lot of ease, I really feel shapeless unless I take in an inch or so!! So I thought with this one I would go down two sizes according to my bust (from a 38 to a 36). I think it was a crazy moment. Two sizes seems like a lot to me now but an inch is GInormous so I guess that was what I was thinking... I did a very non-precision test run where I traced out the pattern and then eyeballed the adjustments I thought were needed. Today I was able to quickly sew up a muslin out of some poly-lycra stuff that had big stains on it. I think I got 3 yards of it for $2 or something like and it's come in handy BIG time. Here is the first attempt.

As you can see, two sizes was a bit much. In retrospect, this pattern does not look to have a lot of ease so I really should have stuck with my bust measurement.

In sewing it up, I also noticed that I had cut the lower back piece too short (by about 1.75" overall). The back neck turned out well and I like where the sections all hit - just above the bust apex and just above the belly button. From the photo, I wonder about the shoulder length but I'll leave that and just cut the 38 and see what happens. The armscyes may be a little too small as well. (Or possibly my arms aren't as toned as they used to be!) I like where the hem currently hits (unsewn) so I'm going to extend that about another 1.25".

Currently, I have BWOF 11-2008-125 cut and ready to sew up in a wonderful bamboo interlock. Now I'm concerned because I cut it the same day as the muslin above and it's (of course) a 36. Pretty sure this isn't going to fit. I'm going to sew it with 1/4" seam allowances and try to keep in mind that it will likely get passed to a friend's sister if that isn't enough. I need to just keep patting myself on the back for playing with the knits at all right now. Here's a 3/4 mock-up I did earlier of a t-shirt. It really makes me want to try a few ones for Nealla now that I see it. So tiny and cute.

Ok, well I better go try to sew the raglan shirt up. Hope the weekend was great!
- Rachel S.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Little Treasures

How cute is this? When I found it DB declared "You love junk!" It was said with a grin but maybe he thinks the stuff I like is junk...OH well! How could this stuff be considered junk?! Maybe he thinks "junk" is a synonym for antique (and also rather charming)? This my new darling antique thread sorter (found on Etsy). I love it, love it. In the background is one of my other favorite items - my butterfly, milkglass lamp.

I have been away from the world of sewing blogs in a big way the past few months - work was seriously draining me. This weekend left me feeling rejuvenated and motivated though. It's not like I haven't been working on a few things. Just haven't had much opportunity to be online. Without further delay, here's the catch-up.

Completed BWOF top 113 from the November 2008 edition. I haven't had time to post a pattern review yet. Lots of others have made this as well. It's simple, easy and not a bad look (for a bag shirt). I used French seams throughout (a first for me) and am pretty happy with it overall. At the end, I had a bad moment and decided to bind the hem with bias tape that was way too heavy. Now it waves out too stiff for my tastes but I intend to rip and re-hem without the tape. What was I thinking?! Hair disclaimer: apologies, DB told me it looked fine and I was too tired to double check. It's not usually so lopsided.

Remember our lovely new, blue kitchen? Well, it needed a little something to shock the senses out of the world of a Dutch plate. We had some natural-colored, linen chair covers from Crate & Barrel that I had purchased off a friend who was moving back to Germany (he threw in so much stuff these were probably a whole dollar) and I had a new batch of procion dyes from DharmaTrading I was anxious to play with so I made them "Fire Red". What do you think? I love them! The red has blue undertones and is super cheery. Think I see a little Fire Red linen jacket in my future...
Here's one with a bookbag I have just completed. The pattern came from Sew Simple vol. 10. It was super easy and I learned a lot from it as I had never attempted one of these before. Some features: It is lined, has a box bottom, and a zipper attached to flanges so it creates an almost-complete closure on top. Here's one of the top. Things I'd change for next time: add a small pocket for my phone onto the lining, flat fell the seams on the bottom (wondering if I can do the sides this way too) and bind all of the seam edges that I show. *shrug* There's quite a bit I'd change but I was determined to sew from stash and see what I came up with. I keep finding that every project holds mucho sewing lessons so nothing is a waste!

I had wanted to include a photo or two from the Maker Faire earlier this month but I'm running out of time so I'll add another short post on that later.

Happy summer! Happy sewing!
Rachel S.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

My Camera is Having More Fun Than Me Right Now

Haven't had much of a head to post lately. My mood has been leaning towards grumpy andwork has been knocking the stuffing out of me, leaving me exhausted and creativeless. I've still been doing a few things here and there. Here's an update. No photos on this one, though, as I lent my camera to a traveling friend. (The camera needed to take a trip even if I can't right now!)

  • Tried another test dye - this time using "Olive Green." While it's a lovely color dye, it came out like 500 times darker than the little fabric sample at the store. Maybe it's becausemy tap water comes out very, VERY hot and the higher temperature yields a brighter dye? What I'm going for now is a very light, hint o' green - I'm thinking celery. Anyway, I'm done testing. Tonight (or maybe tomorrow) I'm just going to dye the batch for the curtains and put a quarter of the dye I used in the test. I think this will be light enough...maybe I'll use an 1/8. I'd rather go lighter.

  • DB helped with prepping the linen last night and commented that he'd like a shirt out of it. Wonder if I could get that good by Christmas..maybe I should start thinking about that now and even take a classto prep for it..hmm.

  • Still have to add an eye to the turtle and finish the last couple of inches on the blanket *big sigh*.

  • Had a wardrobe meltdown the other day and decided to suspend all sewing activity on anything other than quick tops and skirts for a bit. (Of course, the curtains are an are the throw pillows that go with them.) So, I have two tops cut and hope to get them sewed up this weekend. Nothing special but they are much needed.

  • Did I mention that my job is stinky right now? *big sigh*

Hope to have results and more fun things to write about and show soon!
Take care!
Rachel S.