Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Great Big Thank You!!!

I need to say thanks to several people because I am just humbled by their acknowledgement of my work...

Lauralo from Laura's Sewing Room
You have just made the most amazing Chanel jacket and several times during the construction process you have pointed to my blog and said that something I did inspired you. You do not know how much I appreciate the acknowledgement! I think you have an incredible talent and to think that something I did inspired you, just makes me speechless! So thank you!

Lisa from Sew Random
You wrote a great post about some awesome jackets that have been posted around blogland and on the sewing boards. The fact that you included my jacket in the post, touched me greatly! Thanks for thinking it worthy of inclusion with some very talented sewists!

Tearsa from That's Sew Live
Your enthusiasm for sewing is so infectious! It is wonderful to watch you start this journey...I can tell that this "hobby" will keep you intrigued for years to come. Mark my words, in time you will be able to tell your life's story through your sewing! Thank you for visiting my blog and enjoying my jacket though it's not as famous as yours! I mean I just go to work every day but thousands of people see your bright smile every morning on the news and you represent our craft so well!

Finally, I have a secret to share...every time I post a picture, review and/or post about something I've created, I get a little twinge in my stomach. Like every artist, these pieces are labors of love for me and the thought that you might not like my babies can be a little heart-wrenching! Okay, who am I kidding here a lot of heart wrenching! *LOL* So when someone thinks that my work is worthy of mentioning or writes a beautiful and thoughtful comment about it, it really makes my heart sing.

I know that many people visit and don't post and I appreciate every one of those visits, cause as you know from my previous post I am a Sitemeter fanatic (and Ann/Gorgeous Things' its all your fault! *LOL*) This last jacket really meant a lot to me because I was following in the footsteps of some amazing sewists who have created some awesomely beautiful garments, so I just wanted to say thank you!

Thank you for stopping by...thank you for commenting...thank you for looking...and thank you for shouting back at me!

Last but not is how I wore the Simplicity jacket to work today...I think I thoroughly managed to "corporatize" it!

Calling all my NJ Sewing Sisters

I am in love with Sitemeter. I love that you can go on at different times of the day, hit the world map and see it light up with those little white dots indicating where in the world people are from that visit my blog.

At first I was really excited to see all the lights in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa! My Goodness...Africa! Then I started to notice that there were an awful lot of local cities in New Jersey popping up! And I gotta tell you, several weeks ago when I asked for shout-outs no one from any local NJ cities shouted back at me!

So since I am a Jersey Girl through and through (I just love my state!) I am calling you out! These are the cities I have noticed visitors from in the last week....

  • Burlington, NJ

  • Cranford, NJ

  • East Rutherford, NJ

  • Edison, NJ

  • Essex Falls, NJ

  • Glendora, NJ

  • Layton, NJ

  • Maplewood, NJ

  • Mendham, NJ

  • Montclair, NJ - woohoo! I lived there for 3 years!!!!

  • North Brunswick, NJ - lived there for 10 years!!!!!

  • Piscataway, NJ - graduated from PHS! Go Super Chiefs!
So this is the thing...I would love for you to drop me a line ~ either in the comments or at my email address and say hi! Y'know from one Jersey Girl to another! And no pressure...if you want to remain anonymous, that's kewl but I sure would like to know whose stopping by...and thanks for reading my ramblings and visiting!!!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Its Always Something

Well, I get the jacket finished and I make the buttonholes...I go to sew the buttons on starting at the bottom working my way to the top and what do I find...

broken shank on way to sew it onto the what am I suppose to do. I guess I can head back to M&J to buy another button...but I am just not feelin' that right now.

I have put three days into this jacket and I am ready to move I go scrambling around in my considerable button collection and I find these vintage buttons from my friend Joanna. I originally wanted to put them on the jacket but there was only two of them....

Now should I have a different top button? Yeah! 'Cause I am sooooo over this jacket! *LOL* But will the button fit through the buttonhole...a few anxious seconds there and yes! It fits through the button for now I have a different top button than the other buttons...

I can always get to M&J during the week to pick up TWO more buttons to replace the broken button! Now what have I learned from this little adventure:

1. ALWAYS buy more than enough buttons - no more scrimping!

2. That the buttons I thought were plastic were actually glass so every time I dropped them I was probably damaging them!

3. It's good to have a collection because there is always something in there that can pinch hit! *LOL*
4. No one really looks at the buttons that hard anyway, 'cause I bet none of you noticed the top button was different!

Simplicity 3631 - The Jacket

I probably should start this post with the statement, that a pattern is just a guide to me. I feel like I need to make this disclaimer because my jacket has some of the basic components of the Simplicity pattern but several changes that affect the silhouette of the jacket. So here is the jacket:

The first and most important change is the sleeves. To be honest, I noticed this pattern before it was used in the Sew Stylish magazine. I passed on it because of the sleeves...too trendy for my oh-so-corporate life. When the magazine came out in August and highlighted the changes to the jacket, only then did I become intrigued with the pattern.

I used the magazine's suggestion for changing the sleeves (page 72) which recommends removing 6" from the hemline. I started with the longer sleeve used in the coat version of the jacket. I thought a 6" reduction would still leave the sleeve hem too wide so I originally removed 8". It was still too big so I reduced the hem by another 2" ~ making my total change 10" at the hem line. I then put in a 1.5" hem so that the sleeves appear slightly bracelet length. This works well for me because I have very slim wrists and didn't want the finished hem to overwhelm my wrists. Yet it still has that "trendy of the moment" jacket I was attempting to make.

This pattern is designed for an unlined jacket but I wanted a lining in mine so I cut the lining from my third choice fabric. I ordered some of the polyester $1.99 fabrics from Fabric Mart's sale hoping they would arrive in time for this sewing spree - NOT! My next choice was a thin, ltwt. pretty white floral silk (also from Fabric Mart). My third choice was the black/white printed satiny cotton from Metro Textiles. The youngest DD took one look at the black/white and said use that! It's rare that she weighs in on one of my garments and when she utters the, "I would wear that" statement I know its a winner.

The lining was cut exactly from the pattern pieces. I trimmed some excess off the front piece so that it would match the foldover of the fashion fabric. Okay, if you are looking for exact measurements here I can't help you! *LOL* Sometimes when I sew I'm like the cook who uses a pinch of this and a pinch of that! And the reason that I was pinching this time was because the foldover on the pattern is extremely large...approximately 3-4". I was using a size 22 pattern but needed a little extra space in the hem for my hips. I took the extra from the foldover in the front after determining that this is a design feature for the extra large buttons that are shown on the jacket front. Since my button choices aren't that large, I deduced that I had some room to work with there...and I stole it! *LOL*

The lining insertion was a two step process. First, I sewed the lining and jacket together and had to rip it apart because I forgot that the front facings had to be folded back upon each other and stitched down then flipped into the jacket. I originally sewed the lining all the way down to the end of the no flipping back and sewing. I ripped out 3" of the lining fabric and then followed the pattern's instructions for the facing...following so far! *smile* After that the lining was basted to the yoked edge and the sleeves. There were a lot of pins involved because I matched the lining up to every seam in the jacket and the sleeves to make sure that the lining did not get twisted during its insertion.

I hemmed the jacket and the lining separately (hand hemmed with rayon hem tape on the fashion fabric ~ double folded the lining fabric and hand stitched it). I used thread chains at the seams to hold the two pieces together. I tried hand hemming the two together but didn't like the look. The thread chains act like a coat lining and work for me.

Did I mention that this jacket probably took 2 to 3 times longer than necessary because of the lining! *LOL*

I used a lightweight tricot fusing for the front & back neckbands. I blockfused the fabric before cutting out the pieces. And I used a silk organza for the front bands. I interfaced the entire front band as per the pattern, realizing that I was going to end up with the silk organza doubled in the front of the bands but it was deliberate. I wanted the stability for the buttonholes and the buttons (which are a little heavy).

From the previous post you know that I was a greedy little button buyer at M&J last week. I bought both because in the store I couldn't decide. When I got home I had pretty much chosen the vintage looking buttons (Cidell ~ I don't think they are real vintage. Just a good way to describe them.) because they projected more of a corporate air. Then I made the mistake of laying them both down on the jacket and produced a dilemmia...hence the voting. BTW, I asked that question in three places ~ here, at Stitcher's Guild and to some sewing friends. Here the flowered buttons were preferred but at Stitcher's Guild and amongst my sewing friends the vintage were preferred.

I went with the vintage because the jacket is corporate trendy but not too trendy to stand out as a "What was she thinking?" moment.

A few extra details:

1. I added raglan shoulder pads to the jacket because when I tried it on without them it was too limp. The shoulder pads balance out my hips and I try hard not to make anything without using shoulder pads.

2. The buttonholes are very dense. Since I've learned how to change the density of my buttonholes I have been experimenting. *smile*

3. The tucking detail on the jacket front is sewn as darts. After reading all of the reviews on PatternReview and looking at Linda's, Danvillegirl Sewing Diary's version, I decided I liked the clean look of the darts better.

4. I lapped my version left over right. I liked the way I finished the left side better than the right side and I wanted to lead with my best foot forward when wearing the jacket closed. Not that it will be worn closed often.

5. No belt. I don't have the overly large version of this jacket because all of the design ease was used as wearing ease. It is just a loose fitting jacket on me so I didn't see the need for a belt.

6. I hand stitched the inside yoke bands down. I know the pattern instructions tell you to stitch in the ditch but I wanted a cleaner, less instrusive finish and with the extra layers from the lining fabric I wasn't sure how it would look. So handstitching it was.

If I were to make this again...and I'm thinking about it...I would add a center back seam and a pleat in the center back to make the jacket more looser fitting for my plus size body.

I also cut out a 4-gore TNT skirt from this fabric and the Simplicity 3631 dress in a smoother, lighter weight black wool crepe as well as a pair of TNT pants to be lined. I won't make any tops to go with these pieces because I have plenty in my wardrobe and all of these pieces will mix and match with garments presently residing in my closet.

And that's my version of Simplicity 3631...if you are contemplating making this pattern, I hope some of the explanations of what I did encourage you to go ahead and make it your own. And if you are plus size thinking that this pattern is too small or wouldn't work for you, I hope you realize that there is room to play with this pattern to get your own version of it...

But mostly I want to leave you with the idea that a pattern is just a guide. There is no need to make it exactly as it appears on the pattern cover. That you can and should see your own vision for it and run with it...making something that is unique and uniquely you!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I Need Your Help

...truly I do! I can't decide which buttons look better on my Simplicity 3631 jacket. It's almost done...I need to make the buttonholes and sew the buttons on, hem the sleeves and make some thread chains to hold the lining and fashion fabric together...

But I can't decide on which buttons I should put on the jacket! So here's your chance to tell me what to do...

The flower buttons:

Or the vintage black buttons...

All buttons are from M&J Trimmings and I will give a full update on the jacket tomorrow after I review the votes.

I also cut out a 4-gore TNT skirt, the Simplicity 3631 dress (yes, I am making it again) and a pair of lined TNT pants.
So tell me what you think!

Friday, November 23, 2007

I'm Stalling

I know I should be in the sewing nook working on the Simplicity 3631 jacket...but I don't want to start assembling it and have to wait for lining fabric...well that's not really true... What I don't want is to have to go with my back-up lining choice. See Fabric Mart shipped my lining fabrics on Wednesday and technically it should be here this afternoon, if UPS is delivering on time. Now while I want to start sewing the jacket, I really just don't want to stop. I am home for three days with no plans so I can just sew on and off for the next 72 hours...and that's what I really want to I'm stalling!

Anyway, as I was putting the closet back together yesterday before heading out for Thanksgiving dinner, I found a 3-ring binder that I had placed old Sew News articles in. Articles that I had cut from the magazine because I thought they were interesting but didn't want to keep the entire magazine...I would be drowning in old sewing magazines if I didn't find someway to manage the process! *LOL* And I need to do that again because the magazines are taking over the bookshelf! But I digress, because look what I found!

It's an article on cluster sewing called, "Don't be Cluster-phobic" published in Sew News in October 2001. For anyone interested in SWAPping but you don't have the time or desire to sew 11 pieces, this article advises sewing just five to eight pieces. The five piece combo recommends three tops and two bottoms to create 12 different outfits. The eight piece combo suggests five tops and four bottoms. An interesting and very doable concept if you want to start small with wardrobe sewing.

The second piece I found has really started my creative juices flowing ~ it is an old ad for a McCall's shift dress ~ 2114. It is OOP and not in my pattern collection, though McCalls does have several others on their website like (M5464, M5180, M4768, M2401, M8107) that could be used as substitutes. I probably just liked the embellishment technique and I can pretty much figure this out without a pattern's assistance. I am seriously thinking about trying this on my black wool crepe Simplicity 3631 dress. Wouldn't that be some WOW underneath the jacket, especially if I don't take the jacket off during the day and you just get a peek at it! Ohlalala baby! *LOL*

There were several others that intrigued me and will probably show up in future posts...but I guess enough stalling. I could cut out the other pieces that I'm making, right? Make some bobbins, turn my sewing machines on...y'know all the prep work that would allow me to just keep sewing once I start!

So what are you working on this weekend?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

I would like to wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving!
I love this holiday because our family gathers together and to me it is a special day to count your blessings...through the daily trials and tribulations, I realize that my family and I are very blessed indeed!

If you celebrate or if you don't, today I am wishing many blessings for you and yours!

Back to sewing tomorrow! Enjoy your holiday!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I sewed something...

I did manage to sew today but not before I did this...

See my apartment complex has decided that they need Verizon to come in and install Vios lines. So I had to empty out part of my fabric closet...the part that held the coats and miscellaneous stuff so that the repairman can access the attic.

And this is how my fabric closet looks now...see 'cause I don't trust them to understand the value of the fabric contained within it! Especially since I am perfectly happy with my cable internet service and don't even want no stinkin' DSL line....*sigh*

Two more pieces are completed in the CC Inspirational Wardrobe...the Sewing Workshop Mission Tank (a serious TNT) made from the brown sueded silk and the brown/beige paisley jersey knit print with a ruffled brown elastic trim at the neckline. Both fabrics are from Fabric Mart.

I am now so totally tired of sewing this wardrobe that I am moving onto other non-SWAP pieces. I know that I said I would do dresses next but with more meetings, more suit type outfits are needed in my work future so I have decided to work on my version of Simplicity 3631.

I want to make the jacket but not with the batwings...I am losing some of the sleeve width ala the
Sew Stylish magazine piece and used the longer sleeve pattern minus the band. I am also going to make the dress again...what can I say, I'm a sucker for punishment! *smile* Hopefully the dress won't be as "challenging" since I have made it once. After having worn it to work, I do need this in the black and gray that I originally imagined it in because it passed the wearability test with flying colors.

My fabric is two different black wool crepes from Fabric Mart...the jacket piece is a little heavier with more texture than the fabric I will use for the dress. The dress fabric is a smooth wool crepe I bought from the last wool fabric sale and I have some great black patent leather trim that I've been waiting to use on something. This trim will give a "perfectly good" corporate outfit a trendy little twist!

Since this is a holiday week hopefully I will get more time to sew!

Lastly, my baby girl and personal photographer turned 18 last child is a legal adult ~ yeah, right! *LOL*

That's her and her sister (my 19 yr. old) as we headed into New York yesterday for a day of shopping and fun.

I have a few more hours of good sewing time left so I'm off to make some more progress.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Never throw out your SM's instruction manual!

It's Friday night and I have a full weekend. I am sitting here wondering how I am gonna jam some sewing into might and then again it might not happen...

So I have a little funny to share with you...yes, it's sewing related!

As I have said before I hate the finishing aspects of a garment. Sometimes I am really good and I will hem, make buttonholes and sew buttons on the garment right away...but other times the garment will sit with one, two or all three of these items incomplete until I am ready to wear it. Then the night before I want to wear it there is a flurry of activity as I try to get it completed. That's what happened to me one night this week...

When I finished the Jackie O Retro suit, I was waiting for buttons to come in. The buttons on the suit jacket in the pictures were just taped on...but I was just so thrilled that the idea worked and there was just those pesky little finishing details left so I considered it done. Well I finally decided to wear it this week...weeks after the buttons showed up...I actually had to look for them! I mean seriously look for them! Yes I know, what was I waiting for to wear it but I have ALOT of clothes! *LOL* So I sit down to make the buttonholes and miracles upon miracles, I learned something new about my machine.

I have had my machine for a decade and when I got it, there was such a step up from my old machine to this one. So I watched the video that came with it and read the instruction book from cover to cover, practiced on the sewing machine and everything! I mean I had it on this little card table and I spent days just making stitches and putting that machine through its how in the world did I learn something new a decade later!

Now I know you are dying to know what I learned right? *LOL* You are probably going to think its stupid and something I should've known but hey I didn't alright!

I learned that I could change the density of my buttonholes.

Now how did I happen upon this particular knowledge...well, the fabric in that jacket is a boucle and I was thinking about making corded buttonholes so that they would stand out a little better on the jacket front. See I can never remember if I am suppose to stick the little cord thingy's through the back of the buttonhole foot or around the little dohikey on the front of the buttonhole foot...anyway I needed some refreshing.

I'm reading the instruction manual, have my "aha moment" about the cording (I use embroidery floss by the way instead of cord) and notice this paragraph about changing the density of the buttonholes...I almost fell off my chair. joke! *LOL* I couldn't believe that I had been "making it work" all these years when with two little touches on the touch screen of my sewing machine and I had fuller, denser buttonholes. Coulda knocked me up side the head with a shoe!

So, has this ever happened to you? Have you been sewing along "making it work" and then learned something amazingly simple that just turned your world around? And did it totally change the way you did this task in the future? 'Cause let me tell you, my machine makes seven different kinds of buttonholes and I'm gonna be fiddling with those dials from now on!

And the moral of this tale..."Never throw out your sewing machine's instruction manual!" Always, always keep it close to your machine! *LOL*

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

One More Instant Replay...

I know, I know....I promised not to do any more instant replays or retread posts but after proudly displaying pictures of my fabric closet and reading the comments about it (I think I could sell tickets to come see my fabric closet! *LOL* And it really ain't that big y'all just dedicated!)

The following post which was written in March of 2006 just seemed an appropriate follow-up to Cidell & Trena's visit. Now I could try to restate the items I addressed in this post or I could just let the original speak for itself. I decided to let the original speak for itself... oh and before you click out thinking there she goes again retreading, there is a post script so stay tuned....

"Are You Ashamed of Your Fabric Collection?"

I need to ask this question because it seems no matter what sewing board I go to someone is discussing their stash and how overwhelming it is! I have to admit that I don't understand this position. I don't understand why you would feel a need to explain your fabric collection to others or even to yourself. I don't understand why you can't have a collection of fabric from which to create. I don't understand why someone would complain, worry or diss the collection that they have taken so much time, effort and money to compile. I don't understand?!

I love my fabric collection. I have taken the time to carefully store it and categorize it. I have lovingly purchased each piece. I have hopes and dreams of wonderful garments to be made from these pieces. And I get so much joy each time I open the door of my closet and stand inside it. I can actually hear it singing lovely songs to me. Am I crazy? Maybe...definitely crazy about fabric.

I love the color and feel of the textures. I love how it handles. I love sewing it and I love owning it. It is one of the best parts of sewing ~ turning a flat piece of fabric into an awesome three-dimensional garment.

Previously, I have likened owning fabric to the paintbrushes and paint that an artist uses to paint an amazing picture or portrait. Or the gardening tools that a gardener uses to till and grow a beautiful garden. Or even the pages and computer that an author uses to create an imaginery world that we all want to journey to. I mean we all create things, right?! So why wouldn't you have many different pieces of fabric, thread, notions and patterns to use to fashion your own wearable fantasies!

Okay, I admit that owning a lot of anything can be overwhelming. But how have you stored your precious treasures? Are they just out and laying about shouting to you and interrupting your creative flow? Are they stored in a dark and dingy place and treated like second class citizens? Or are they treated like the precious tools that they are? So are you ashamed of your collection? Or are you invigorated, challenged and deliriously happy about it?

And as a postscript, I truly don't like the word stash as applied to my fabric collection. A stash is something hidden away like a dirty little secret and a collection is something that has been assembled to reflect a taste, a value, things deliberately gathered.

If there was one word that I could change in a sewist's vocabulary it would be the word stash! Our fabric is one of the main tools that we work with and as such it should be appreciated and celebrated. Okay, I am climbing down off my soap box...*LOL*

Seriously, go pet your collection and for those of you who are only beginning to so with purpose and joy! Because a good collection will challenge you to grow as a sewist, it will help you out in the middle of the night when you need that one last piece of fabric to complete a garment, and when a good friend is it need it just might provide the answer!

So sewists go forth and collect! *LOL*

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Pay It Forward

"Likewise teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women..."
Titus 2:3-4

I am sure that as you are reading this you are wondering what the title and the Bible Scripture have to do with each other. Well picture this:

That is Trena (Nicegirl on PR/Slapdash Sewist) and Cidell (Miss Cellie's Pants) looking around in my fabric closet. Yes, they were actually here today at my house, looking at fabric, picking through buttons and talking SWAP fabrics.

And to tie this all together, I truly believe that sewists that have been in the game for awhile should take younger women or beginning sewers under their wings and share their sewing knowledge...share their sewing trials and tribulations...share their sewing triumphs and their low points...and when necessary share their fabric and accoutrements. Someone did this for me several years ago and I feel obliged to "pay it forward."

But today was about so much more than paying it was about meeting two young women whose love for sewing I so admire. It was about encouraging that love and fanning its flames. And it was about spending time with someone else who understands one of my greatest joys in life...but mostly the 2 hours that I spent with Trena and Cidell were fun! So much fun! We laughed and talked while they foraged around my fabric closet and in my button collection. We worked out some alternatives for Cidell's SWAP purchases...and yes baby you can SWAP...just remember one piece at a time. *LOL*

I would like to thank you both for stopping by and showing me your purchases from PR Weekend, sharing your love of sewing and for making me laugh...I am honored!!!

One of all of us in my fabric closet for the road....

And Trena I hope you made it home in time to make the Metro! Thanks again for stopping by!

BTW, I didn't sew one stitch this weekend but it was wonderful just the same! *LOL*

P.S. Cidell - this is for you:
1549, from M.Fr. accoustrement, from accoustrer, probably from O.Fr. acostrer "arrange," originally "sew up," from *consutura "a sewing," from L. consutus, pp. of consuere "to sew together," from con- + suere "to sew" (see
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001 Douglas Harper

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Name Dropping

ETA ~ Spoiler Alert: I DID NOT buy anything! *LOL*

Okay, I have debated several times about posting this but I am going to go ahead and do it....

I am going to Name Drop. And I am going to do it for a perfectly selfish reason! *LOL* Because I just had such a wonderful time with them and it just made my day yesterday so here goes...

For all the Patternreview readers, you know that it is PR Weekend in New York City this weekend. As I type, about 30 women have descended upon New York City's garment district to empty the remaining fabric stores of all their goodies. Previously, I had made plans to meet Cidell of Miss Cellie's Pants and Nicegirl or Trena as I call her of The Slapdash Sewist at Kashi's (Metro Textiles) Friday afternoon. Originally I had planned to take Friday afternoon off and spend it with them but you know my day ALWAYS interferes with my life plans!

However, I did manage to dash down to Kashi's on the subway around lunchtime and I had the best hour and a half possible. My day job was making me miserable yesterday and I almost didn't head down...but boy, oh boy am I glad that I did! When I walked into Metro Textiles the first person I saw was JodiB! Now I have talked to Jodi on the boards and a private email or two but it was so great to see her in person! I also saw Cindy whose PR name is Cindy-lou, Connie - PR name ConnieB, Nikki and of course, Cidell and Trena.

That was the fastest hour and a half of my life! Choosing fabrics, saying hello, remembering garments posted on PR, talking blogs and talking SWAP and choosing went by way to fast! And at the end of my visit there was a flurry of picture taking and hugs and promises to keep in touch...but Ladies I just want you to know that you made my day...heck, my weekend! I am still smiling thinking about it! I hope you find or found many wonderful bargains, some amazing fabrics and that you have a great time with each other during this weekend!

Because hey, you guys have already made mine!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I'm A Gadget Girl

This came today!

Now I have to warn you that I am not really a gadget girl. I don't even own a complete set of french curve rulers. I make do a lot! But my poor sewing machine has been back to the repair shop twice because the bobbin winder keeps going. Everything else works fine but not the bobbin winder.

After the last trip, the dealer was quite frank with me. I could purchase a new motor for the bobbin winder (several hundred dollars with parts and labor) or I could buy a new machine. He, of course, is recommending the new machine since my Janome is about 20 years old and I am its second owner. Well, I'm not quite ready to pick out another machine...its just too traumatic. I have set a goal for myself that I will get a new one right after the New Year once Christmas has passed and things have slowed down. But until then I need to sew.

When I saw this little gadget on Simplicity's site, I thought this might do the trick to help me through these perilous times! So I bought it. It's all plastic and I am sure that it won't stand up to any real abuse but I have made a bobbin with it using some double AA batteries and I am thrilled. It's compact so it can sit on my sewing table and with the batteries it doesn't need to be plugged in.

So tonight, I'm a gadget girl!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

An Answer or Two...

A few answers to questions that have been posted in the comments section lately:

1. Toy asked, "where do you buy your wool crepe?"
Fabric Mart is probably my favorite source for wool crepe. But I have bought wool crepe from Fashions Fabrics Club and To me these are great sources for a high quality product without a high cost. However, Candlelight Valley Fabrics and SawyerBrook fabrics also offer wool crepe in excellent quality but with a higher per yard cost. I think you would be happy with any of these sources.

2. Mary Sarah asked, "What would be a good fabric staple for pants, jackets, etc.?"
I always think seasonal when asked these type of questions....but I guess a linen blend for summer and a wool blend for fall/winter...I guess I should have a better idea of what to suggest but I also think in life styles.

3. On wool crepe prep, this question, "Do you steam the fabric in a single layer?"
No...I double the fabric and am careful not to press a crease into the fold.

3b. "Do you have a regular size ironing board or a larger 'padded board' used for this purpose?"
I use my regular ironing board.

4. Barriehaywood asked, "Have you ever tried using a professional clothes steamer instead of a steam iron? Do you think that fully steaming using a clothes steamer would work well?"
The purpose of the water and the steam in my method is to shrink the fabric. I don't think you can guarantee that the fabric won't continue to shrink if you just steam it. To that end, I question the use of a professional steamer to adequately pretreat the fabric. But not having actually used one, I am only giving you my opinion without any experience to back it up!

5. Elaray asked, "Does your daughter still act as your photographer? Mine quit on me months ago! I wish I knew how you get yours to cooperate!"
Yes, my youngest DD is still taking the pictures. I think she takes the pictures for two reasons, one she likes to take pictures and two, my DDs have this theory just do what Mommy wants and she goes away and leaves you alone...and it works! *LOL*

I hope I didn't miss anyone's question. Mary Sarah I know that I was less than helpful because I am sure you were looking for a certain type of fabric to use, I just think there are too many variables to answer your question. Maybe you could send me an email and I could share some additional information!

And good news last night I sewed a little on the chocolate sueded silk top that I cut out on Sunday evening...maybe I will actually get some real sewing done this can always hope!

Finally thanks everyone for your kind comments on my latest pieces!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Picture This...

Okay to substitute for the fact that I did next to no sewing this weekend, I took pictures of some of the combos of the "CC Inspired Wardrobe". We have a series of important meetings in the office this week, so this and the Jackie O Retro Suit will finally make their debuts!

This is what I will wear tomorrow ~ The cardigan and dress.

The dress is of course Simplicity 3631 and the cardigan has been in my wardrobe for several years. I went through a huge phase where I was sewing a lot of twinsets about three years ago. This cardigan was made from a wool/lycra jersey purchased from JoMars and I used Burda 8869 which is OOP and a TNT pattern.

The dress and jacket
The jacket is made from a tweed fabric from Ebad Fabrics in NYC. I got four yards of this out of one of his bargain boxes. I used Vogue 2285 for the jacket. I have of course modified and changed the pattern which is now OOP.

The jacket, skirt and purchased top
I bought this cowl neck top during my snoop shopping at Macy's Herald Square during the summer. It works wonderfully with the jacket and skirt. The skirt is my 4 gore TNT skirt. I love this skirt pattern because it just works so well in my wardrobe. This has to be its 10th or 11th incarnation. When I say TNT, I mean TNT! *LOL*

Love the way the top looks with the skirt and my daughter did such a good job with the photo shoot that I had to include this one!

The cardigan, embellished tank top and pants

The embellished tank top is from Simplicity 3631 from the same tan tropical wool that was used in the dress. The lace was bought from my favorite NYC trim store - Daytona Trimmings and is probably the most expensive part of the outfit! The pants are from worsted wool crepe from Fabric Mart. I am actually proud of the fact that this fabric went from the box to the cutting table instead of languishing in my fabric closet! My pants are from my TNT pants pattern - the slimmer leg version.

I cut out two more tops for this wardrobe this weekend both from the Sewing Workshop Mission Tank pattern ~ one from the tan/brown knit print and one from the brown sueded silk. I also cut out the straight skirt from the tan tropical wool so whenever the mood strikes me to sew again at least those steps will be done.

Hopefully I will be inspired to work on one of the dresses relatively soon since the temperatures are only dropping lower...*sigh* Hope you enjoy the pictures! And as always more shots can be found in my Flickr album.

Have you ever?

Have you ever wanted to sew something so bad that it paralyzes you? Have you ever had so many ideas, things floating around in your mind that needed releasing that you felt blocked? Have you ever set aside time to sew and then wasted it watching movies, running errands, reading a book, spending time with your kids, husband, family because you couldn't move that block? That's me right now.

More than anything I want to make some of my ideas reality. And more than anything I want to turn some of those amazing pieces of fabric into garments...but what have I done ~ nothing. I can't seem to get pass that first step. I opened a pattern and looked at it...a seemingly easy pattern something that I should be able to sew up in a minute. But after looking at the finished measurements on the pattern piece I realized that I would have to do some pattern alterations, so there went fast and easy.

I thought if I just finished up the last details on my CC Inspired Pants that the sewing would just flow...but it isn't...and I feel blocked...and now frustration is setting in. I only get two days a week to sew...two days to let some of the creative energy that has been pent up all week to be released...and here I sit on Sunday morning with nothing completed. Heck, completed, I would even settled for started...

So no questions this morning my inquiries for suggestions...just a lamenting cry..."Have you ever?!"

Friday, November 02, 2007

Prepping Wool Crepe

I have several types of fabric that I love to work with...during the summer my hands down favorite is linen...and during the winter it's wool crepe. The things that I love about wool crepe are ~ that the fibers take dye so well. This fabric can be found in vibrant oranges, reds and deep purples or pretty pastels. The second thing I love is the hand - there is such a wonderful drape to this fabric especially when you purchase a high quality wool crepe. The third thing is the way the fabric holds a stitch...when you are sewing the fabric it allows the stitches to sink into the fabric...they are enfolded into the garment without any effort on your part...This fabric is just a joy to sew.

Wool crepe just has one drawback! You absolutely positively must pre-wash, pre-treat, pre-something the length that you work with because if you don't your finished garment will shrink. It might not shrink much the first time you clean it but it will definitely shrink in degrees over its lifespan. And it could end up being a very short lifespan if you don't pretreat it.

Now there are four methods generally used to pretreat this fabric:

1. The London Shrink Method
This method involves getting your entire piece wet, well damp and then rolling it up between two sheets and letting it dry naturally and checking it over time to see if its dry, rerolling it, maybe dampening it again...can I state again that its very involved and you need a lot of space if you have a lengthy piece!

2. Drycleaning
Probably the easiest and most costliest take it to the dry cleaners and they steam press your fabric.

3. Washing and Drying
Let me caution you here that whenever you wash & dry a length of wool crepe not only will you have shrinkage but you may also have some felting (melding of the fibers). So unless your intent is to manipulate the fibers, I would not suggest this as a pretreatment method. However, if manipulation is what you are after, you get the best results by washing and drying the fabric multiple times (at least 3 in my experience).

4. Steam the heck out of it
This is my preferred method of pretreatment cause I'm too lazy to London Shrink and to time challenged to lug it to the dry cleaners. Even though I have a great dry cleaners that picks up and delivers my clothing but that is another post! The steps I use when doing "the steam the heck out of it method" are pretty simple.

First - you need a good size bowl of water and two cotton batiste press cloths. I like two because one is always in the damp water ready to be used. And my cloths are usually 45" wide and about 12-14" long. These dimensions are good for me because they cover more of the fabric when pressing.

Two - you need a good steam iron and alot of water for your iron especially if you are pressing a long length of fabric.

Three - I like to cover the floor around my ironing board with an old sheet. This way my fabric can hit the floor and I don't have to worry about dirt/dust etc.

Then I use the highest setting on my iron which I think is the silk setting. Don't worry you won't burn or scorch the fabric because the press cloth will be between the fabric and the iron. I wring out one of the press cloths and lay it flat on the fabric. Next I "press" the press cloth until it is dry creating a lot of steam.

Press not iron - picking the iron up and placing it down in the next position, not gliding it from place to place. There should be clouds of steam arising around you when you are doing this. When the press cloth is relatively dry, I remove it and place it back in the bowl of water.

This next step is real important, I do not move the fabric for at least 2 minutes to allow it to dry and all of the steam to pass through the fabric. Only after that do I move that section and start the process all over again in a new section. Now if you have a vacuum pressing table and a steam generator iron this process goes a lot faster...I have the steam generator iron but not the pressing table so my 2 minute rule is hard and fast!

This is a very time-consuming process...yes, I know I stated earlier that I'm lazy, however, I love this process. I usually pre-treat 2 or 3 pieces at one time because of the time factor and I want to have them needle ready when I'm inspired to use the fabric for a garment. I usually do this with the TV on and a good movie going. And I use ALOT of steam!!!!

I have been using this method for pretreating wool crepe for years and I have never had a garment shrink after being dry cleaned. So this is what I will be doing tomorrow morning...pretreating a few lengths of wool crepe in preparation for making a new dress.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Sew Something Already

Alright, alright...enough with the throwback posts, the fabric acquisition posts, the pattern posts, I am gonna sew something okay! *LOL* It's just that the epicness of the last couple of pieces have been weighing me down and taking up my valuable sewing I have decided to take a page from Shannon and make some "easy to sew" stuff and then when I'm done, I'll return to the epicness of the "CC Inspired Wardrobe" pieces.

Today is November 1st and I will really only wear a dress or skirt outfit for about five more weeks...God how I hate standing out on the corner at 6:30 in the morning in the bitter cold with the wind blowing up my skirt! So since I have about five weeks before skirts and dresses get relegated to the back of my closet, I have decided that I have several dresses circling around my brain ~ actually they have my brain cells in a vise ~ and I need to get them out and onto my body.

I mean, I already own more than enough fabric...*stop laughing* and I know the dresses I want to make so I should just get to it! In no particular order here is my plan:

The first dress is from Tory Burch and is inspiring me to make something like it...I am finding that I have a real thing for her dresses. I like the clean styling and lines of her dresses and they work well in my corporate environment. I am going to use a wool crepe from the collection for this dress. I will add bracelet length sleeves but the picture below is the inspirational jumping off point...

The next dress is Butterick 5100. This pattern has made it onto alot of sewists must sew lists for fall. I had originally dismissed the pattern but I saw this sweater coat from Silhouette and thought that a cabled version of this would be too cool. I actually have a cabled knit fabric in the collection and what a quick and easy version this would be ~ great for a casual Friday.

Plaid is everywhere this fall and if you don't add some to your wardrobe are you or aren't you trendy? Since I try to add one trendy but classic piece every season...something that speaks to the essence of the season but will hang around longer than that! I will interpret one of these jumpers using my TNT dress/jumper pattern.

Of course since I have already assembled all of the pieces to make McCalls 5555, I want to make it up and wear it sooner rather than later so it's definitely on my list.

The final dress is one I found in a magazine on another actress! (Shades of the Chanel dress here) Though I actually see it as a take off of my SWAP dress. A little pintucking, a rounder neck and some short sleeves all served up in the new light green wool crepe I just acquired and I will have an amazing dress for work.

This is what I will concentrate on for the next few weekends. I will take some pics of me wearing the completed pieces of the "CC Inspired Wardrobe" very soon so you can see how far I have progressed...gonna have to get the teenage photographer a treat to bribe her into taking some shots! *LOL* And I will post them here.

Finally I promise only sewing posts for the foreseeable future, no more taking it back! *LOL*


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