Thursday, January 14, 2021

I Made Another Change...

I know, I know.  Y'all are wondering why I'm STILL not sewing!  Hey I feel the same much so it's affecting my mood! But my amazingly wonderful sewing room feels like a sauna when I'm up there for more than an hour or two.

(Photo from recent blog post)

Y'all I've tried everything but an air conditioning unit which I can't do because 

1. I rent

2. The amazing windows are on the far side of the loft, as in the living room, and the windows don't open. Plus I think I signed something in my lease about not having air conditioning units in my windows.

o I bought fans both to clip onto my sewing machine table and a large floor version, plus the upright fan I already owned.

o I closed the heating vent over my sewing machines to stop the heat from flowing onto my head.

None of this worked. I mean the fans cooled the room down for a few hours but after awhile I had a sweaty sheen covering me. Also, the best time to work in the room was morning/early afternoon.  After 4pm all bets were off.  Which is fine when I have a group of days off but doesn't really fit my sewing style since I sew in the evenings and later at night.

I began to dread heading up the stairs to my dream sewing room. Because I knew I would end up feeling like a turkey baking in the oven before Christmas dinner. YET my sewing desire was strong it was starting to choke me.  I put it off by crocheting on my last blanket, reading a couple of books and immersing myself in Bridgerton.  

However, my sewing desire would not be denied so I gave up and moved some things to my dining room.  My dining room which had previously been a junk space because there were bins of fabric that needed a home and I hadn't decided what to do with them prior to my surgery.

Moved my 9450 downstairs and left the 8900 upstairs

The dining room is much smaller than my sewing loft, probably half the size, so I settled with the cutting table against the wall.  Better to cut than not to cut at all!

The bins were moved upstairs to replace my cutting table and will be moved to my storage unit before I head back upstairs for spring, summer and fall sewing. This allows me to sew and work a little. In reality I mostly work from home on my laptop on a tray from the sofa and in front of my TV...but I can blog and surf the internet if I don't want to be on the sofa in the livingroom.

Now all of my supplies ~ zippers, buttons, threads and trims will remain upstairs.  It's easy enough to go upstairs and pull items I need for projects. All cutting, ironing/pressing and sewing will happen in the Winter Sewing Room. These are the first pictures taken of the space. A video tour of the finished room for now, is on my IG page.

And now that I'm not sweating to death to sew...I've finally started cutting out the Mildred Jumpsuit.

Right now my plan is to head back to the Sewing Loft when I turn the heat off in late March/April. Beyond that I have no idea what I'm doing. But then we have no idea what the world is going to look like since the pandemic is still raging and here in the US only 3% of the population has been vaccinated so far. I think I'm going to be home alone for quite a bit longer. always more later!

Monday, January 04, 2021

The Changeover has happened

Is it just me or does it seem as if more sewists are sewing with Indie Patterns?  Is this another off shoot of 2020 and how it's changed our lifestyles?  I know I've written about this topic before, quite a few times actually, but especially here. And some of the makes I've made recently and like most are made from an Indie Pattern.

Fifteen versions of the Deer & Doe Myosotis Dress

I've noticed that on Instagram there are way more Indie Patterns shared, at least in the sewists I follow, than Big 4. When Indie Patterns first showed up they had a casual lifestyle feel to them that didn't reflect my own life. As I've changed jobs and now due to a pandemic live at home for everything, my own wardrobe needs have changed. Needs that are being met more by the Indie Pattern designers than the Big 4.

Some days I even wonder if the Big 4 are going to survive?  There are now quite a few Indie Patterns for fat girls by fat girl designers AND quite a few of the Indie Pattern designers have sized their patterns up to larger sizes, 30+. Then there was that whole fiasco with the McCalls printing plant being shut down due to hackers which stopped EVERYONE from printing patterns!

Indie Patterns and PDF printing that seemed as if it would never be the mainstream seems to be all anyone talks about and uses now. I've even bought and had some PDF patterns printed and shipped to me.

So this is the first Question of the Day for 2021?  Have you noticed a change in your wardrobe due to the pandemic?  And if so, are you filling the need with items you're sewing from RTW, Big4 or Indie Patterns?

My sewing is changing too. This is what's on my cutting table right now...

Talk back to me!  Let me know how you ended your sewing in 2020 and how you're moving into 2021?

Also, thank you to everyone who responded to my last couple of posts! I know I've been posting erratically and so appreciate that y'all keep showing up! always more later!

Friday, January 01, 2021

2020 - What a Year it's Been!

I haven't deliberately been avoiding my blog...I just haven't been sewing. As you know there were circumstances - moving, surgery.  Then I just didn't feel right yet. Here are a few updates...

The Sewing Loft ~

I thought it was because I hadn't been sewing in it but I realized a few things were missing.  So I dug out my old TV and DVD player and hooked them up. I realized that I did NEED a TV and images in my sewing room. That ended up changing when my daughter bought me a smart TV for Christmas to go in my sewing loft.

Honestly I love it! I can binge watch series I like from one of the apps or even watch live TV on some of the national stations...again downloading their apps.

I spent a couple days sewing up there after the weather turned very cold...and I learned that my HVAC system puts out an inordinate amount of heat.  Now I know why there were vents on the side of the HVAC closet! It took some purchasing but I ended up with three fans that cool the loft off considerably, as well as, closing the heating vent over my sewing area.  Will need to remember to open it back up wide once summer arrives.

After those changes were made, I spent five days in the loft making my first project for Janome. Will share that once it appears on the Janome blog. The loft is now a place where I will be spending quite a bit of my time going forward.

Fabric Update ~

After packing, moving and unpacking my fabric collection I vowed not to purchase any more fabric. Do you know someone actually called me a liar on Instagram? Interesting huh? Well I can say that no major fabric purchases have occurred since July 2020.

My final fabric in and out totals for 2020 are:  

In 100 yards/Out 192 yards

Almost double out than in which makes me happy. BTW, I have no plans for purchasing a whole lot of fabric now. After touching EVERY piece I own plus some that I found in bins in the garage, there isn't a type of fabric that I like to sew with that I don't already own. Unpacking all that fabric gave me fabric fatigue. I even delete fabric emails without looking at them now.

Moving and Surgery ~

As I was reflecting over the year, I realized that I basically stopped garment sewing in late July. I mean I've made some simple kitchen and bathroom curtains...and I even finished a UFO (refer to my last post). But the kind of involved sewing I love came to a dead stop when I moved.

I've also had two major surgeries this year. I bounced back quicker from the first one in July. Honestly, this last one is taking a little longer since I still get tired easily. So my last quarter output has been very little. I picked up my crochet hook and made four blankets - see them here (flip through this one) and here.

Due to all of the change in my life and the world because of Covid, I haven't really felt like reflecting on 2020.  I'm glad that it's gone and I'm ready to move on. Now I know that things are probably going to get a lot worse before they get better especially since Covid is on the rise in quite a few countries including the US. I also believe that there was a "before" and an "after" Covid. I no longer think that things will "go back to normal." We have new normals now.

However, after spending serious time in my Sewing Loft for the last five days, my sewing desire has come back with a vengeance. I have some new patterns, a lot of fabric and a need to create. And because I know live at home for everything, we're not expected to go back to the office until late Spring/early Summer or until more Americans receive the vaccines, I have a new idea of clothing to make. Garments I've been interested in but didn't work in my lifestyle which no longer matters because I'm home! LOL!

I will get the buttons & buttonholes on The Dover Jacket so it will be coming to the blog soon. I plan on sewing some more this weekend and that will be coming soon too...especially since I've found a place in the apartment where I can take a few pictures.

Anyway, all of that to say I'm finally really back...and will be blogging more often in 2021.


Happy New Year!!!

...and as always more later!


Monday, December 07, 2020

The Cardigan - Simplicity 8992

This cardigan was started in December 2019 when I also began writing this blog post. I write them as I sew so I don't have to remember details which is lucky in this case since I finished the garment a year later!

When I moved, I threw some unfinished garments out and brought a few with me. This is one of the ones that came along and is now finished.

So here is the original blog post with some updates to it...

I bought this Simplicity Pattern in August 2019 because my favorite cardigan pattern (also by Simplicity) only has a tie closure and I want a button front closure option. I love the cardigans I made using that pattern but 9 times out of 10, the cardigan unties beneath my coat. I'm sure a button front cardigan won't have the same challenges. 

Then I saw this cable fabric on StyleMaker Fabrics and I bought a couple of yards of it. It seemed perfect to make my first version of this cardigan. 

Materials ~
3 yards ocean knit fabric from StyleMaker Fabrics
Navy blue ponte scraps for facings
1 large button from the stash by way of Fabric Mart Fabrics
1 large gold snap from Pacific Trimmings

I need to talk a little about this fabric. I loved this fabric and bought it as soon as Michelle posted it. However, I didn't think about what it would take to work with the fabric. I can honestly say that if you're a newer, beginner, returning to sewing or advanced beginner, I wouldn't purchase this fabric. This fabric is challenging to work with and while it gives a good result, it took some extra to make it work.  

Pattern Alterations ~
While this pattern goes up to a size 22/24 (XXL), it's close-fitting. My other cardigan pattern has a looser fit and I wanted to combine the fit of the two patterns to add the button front closure.  To make that happen, I used my pattern sandwich method. Where I lay the TNT pattern piece down first, then the new pattern piece and finally a fresh piece of tracing paper.  This allows me to create a new pattern piece that fits me. 

An example below of how the new cardigan front was made. Also when I altered them, I did add a little of the waistline curve in the Simplicity 8992 pattern instead of the boxy shape of the original pattern.

All of the accompanying pattern pieces were also altered for a looser but shaped fit.

Construction ~ 
This fabric needed some special handling. It was heavy. When you sewed into the cables it pulled out of shape and hung funny. 

1. The facings were cut out of a dark royal blue ponte to add some structure to the cardigan so I did not need to add interfacing to the facings. 

2. I added fusible twill tape to the shoulder seams and to the back neckline so it would retain it's shape.

3. I made a hem facing for the sleeve hemlines because the cables were stretching them out. Adding the hem facing gives the sleeve hemline some structure which this cardigan needs.

4. The cardigan hemline also had hem facings added to them. However, I did this after I moved and couldn't find the royal blue ponte scraps so I used black ponte scraps instead.

5. All facings and hems were hand stitched down. It made it easier to control the fabric and to avoid wavy hems.  

6. Even though I wanted buttons and buttonholes, I realized that my home machine would never make buttonholes in this fabric. My original plan was to take it to NYC and have professional buttonholes made. But I dragged my feet and Covid happened so that plan went out the window.

7. To make this work now, I added a large snap and a large button to hold the cardigan together.  Since I'm working from home, I have no worries about wearing it under a coat for the foreseeable future.

Conclusion ~
I have a several more garments that need finishing touches. To ease back into sewing, I'm finishing them up before starting a "from scratch" sewing project. So my next project is another unfinished garment. BTW, I'm only spending a couple of hours a day sewing and still don't feel like posing in garments yet. Hopefully that will be back soon too.  However, I thought a garment post would be a better update on my progress than anything else. always more later!

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Where Have I Been?

I posted back in late August that I would be having surgery in the fall.  Then I moved, set up a new sewing loft, unpacked the millions of yards of fabric I own, and attempted to sew my first project in the Sewing Loft.

Honestly I thought I would get back to the blog to post an update before I headed off to surgery. However, things did not go as planned and I ended up doing a lot of testing prior to the day of surgery.  After I had surgery, the next 16 days were a blur.  Major surgery is a butt-kicker for sure.

I ended up having a total hysterectomy.  Precancerous cells were found in biopsied cells from my uterus. I'd had surgery earlier in the summer, when NJ finally opened up from lockdown. 

To insure that I would not get any gynecological cancer in the future, I agreed to a total hysterectomy. My recovery has been interesting but I'm alive, back and feeling more like myself than I have in months.

I'm still in the recovery phase but I've allowed my daughters to go home. They stayed with me day and night after the surgery. I'm going to start walking around at lunchtime later this week to gain some stamina back when I will finally be allowed to climb the stairs to the Sewing Loft. I need the peace of spirit I find when I'm in the Sewing Loft.

Scarves and a blanket for the family

There hasn't been much sewing desire here but I can feel inklings of it returning. However, I have been crocheting like a crazy old lady to deal with stress and to have something creative to do.

Since I received a few emails, DMs on IG and messages here, I wanted to provide an update.  There will be more sewing content now that I'm on the mend. always more later!

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Sewing in the Sewing Loft

I know I said my next post would be a finished garment but I wanted to write about my experiences sewing in the Sewing Loft.

See everything is new.  New sewing machine, new sewing tables, new sewing, new, new! And my sewing muscle memory is for another place and time. So everything is moving slowly as I'm adjusting to all the newness!

First, as a Janome Maker, I am sewing on my new Janome 9450QCP.  While I've been a loyal Janome sewing machine owner for decades, this one is significantly different than all of the other machines I've worked on.  Every process, every consideration, even every foot, has been examined to make the sewing as simple and easy as possible. Now I know it's a quilting machine and even most of the YouTube videos are based on the machine's quilting capabilities. However, I've been using a "quilting" machine for garment sewing for decades - starting with a 6600P, moving onto the 8900QCP and now the 9450QCP.

Another reason I like this machine is because no eyestrain. The lighting is AMAZING. I had an Ottlite behind it and moved it because I just didn't need the additional light. It's all supplied by the machine and the extra overhead needle lighting.

My eyes are older now. It's a good lighting is a requirement. Just like the automatic needle threader which took me a minute to learn but is one of the main reasons for desiring this machine - ease of use. I have the feature on my 8900 and never quite got the hang of it.  I am having to rethink ingrained sewing processes because they're incorporated in the machine.

For my new make, there is some gathering in the body of the dress/jacket. I did it the way I've done it for years.  Lengthen your stitch, sew two rows of stitching, leave long tails and then pull the bobbin stitches to gather the stitches evenly. As I was reviewing my new Janome Workbook, I realized that there is a button for that. I want to use my sewing machine to its full I'm going to have to "unlearn" a few things!

See new...

Then there is my sewing machine table arrangement. I sew barefooted. While my sewing machine has a knee lift and a start/stop button for sewing, I still like using my foot pedal. The new table has so many pieces to stabilize it that I don't have the open space under it I had using a folding table. Learning that I can't kick my sewing pedal far out from my machine has been interesting.

Presently - my iron and ironing board are still at the bottom of the loft stairs. I'm making the trip up and down the stairs for now. I'm sure this will get tiring at some point. I do have some other options for ironing on the cutting table upstairs. As I try them out, I will share them.

Added a hook to the utility closet door for hanging projects

More space ~

I have more space to lay or hang pieces of my garments in progress including on Daphne my dressform. This is new. I had run out of space in the sewing cave and operated in very tight quarters with few clean surfaces. Not having my computer in the space definitely helps but the new layout is the real winner. The space astounded me as I worked in it last weekend.

Lighting ~

This refers to the room lighting.  Even as I worked in the sewing loft with natural light (astounding), dimmer light because of cloudy and rainy days, and darkness at night, the light is fantastic.  I still haven't figured out how to photograph things at night but during the day nothing beats the natural light.

I'm presently finishing up a Dover maxidress/jacket and that will be up on the blog next.  However, I really wanted to document this feeling of newness. So I can look back on it in several years, when I've acclimated to the loft and remember when! always more later!

Saturday, October 10, 2020

A Curtain Story

I don't sew home dec.  Nothing about it appeals to me.  However, when I need curtains, I find a few inspirational photos, save them and proceed to try and make curtains. This post is about my curtain journey for my new apartment.

Honestly, I'm not going to make all of the curtains for my apartment.  I've already purchased some floral sheers from Walmart for my bedroom.  I just hate most kitchen curtains in the stores and online. They're cutesy and frilly and that's just not me. I like clean functional designs. 

I really wanted a dark blue & white gingham to make kitchen curtains.  I thought I had some in my fabric collection and I did...but it was scraps.  Enough for accents but not enough for curtains. So I did the unthinkable I broke down and went to Walmart...thinking they would have a very basic blue & white gingham. Well no, no they did not. And the experience of purchasing from them was so horrible that I don't know how y'all do it!

I did purchase a yard of a bluish/grey gingham but once I got it home, it looked dull up at the window.  Because I was unsure about the bluish/grey fabric I also bought a brighter striped shades of blue fabric. That's what I used to make the curtains presently hanging in the kitchen window.  In all honesty though, I don't like them either. However, I do like that the window looks finished so I will leave them for now while I figure out what I want to do.

While in Walmart, I picked up a few other things.  One of them was a shower curtain that I thought cut up would make an excellent bathroom curtain.

Yes, this is bathroom realness...

This one I like much so much better!  I love the gradient stripes of blue and it works for me pulled to one side. I purchased a navy blue bath mat and some navy blue towels to finish the look off.  

The Living and Dining Rooms still need curtains and furniture.  My Dining Room is basically a storage space for leftover fabric bins and other things I don't know where to put yet. While I'm taking my Mom's dining room set when she moves, it will be months before that happens. Even though I know what style of curtains I want for the Dining Room, I will probably make them once the furniture arrives.

The Living Room is still waiting on furniture to be delivered...and I really miss a couch! I have blinds in the living room so curtains aren't a necessity at the moment. This is where I have no idea what I want and will take my time to decide on what to do here. 

Now that the Sewing Loft is done...the itch to sew is back with a vengence.  Last weekend I cut out a Dover Maxidress.

That's what's cut out and waiting for me to work on during this three day weekend...hopefully I will get some pictures next weekend to finally have a new garment to share here!

I'm seriously ready to sew garments! *LOL* always more later!

Saturday, October 03, 2020

My Fabric Collection 2020

When I unpacked my fabric collection one major thing I realized is that I neglected it when it was in the Sewing Cave. See it was so well organized and put away that when I added more fabric bins to handle the fabric buying overflow, I stopped paying attention to the main collection.

I saw that as I unpacked it.

The Fabric in the old Sewing Cave

Also, I own so much more fabric than I've been willing to admit I own. In all honesty, I'm an emotional fabric purchaser.  Meaning it wasn't bought when I was when I was unhappy with a job I worked at for far too long...I bought fabric.  When I was unhappy with my living situation...instead of dealing with it...I bought more fabric.

I saw that as I unpacked it.

Several years ago I wrote a blog post about how my fabric collection was my retirement fund. The internet gave me a lot of flack for that post. However, fast forward to 2020 and the pandemic...when everything shut down for fabric collection was truly a good thing. For that reason and for the fact that it will take me into retirement, I am thankful for the fabric collection.

I saw that as I unpacked it.

As I put it onto the shelves, I wondered why I have so much green fabric when I don't really wear a lot of green. Oh yeah, it was the pantone color of the year and I bought all of the pretty hues of green. I've found 5 yard pieces of merino wool in red, navy and black - why so much? Oh yeah, was having an amazing sale so why not buy all the basic colors.

The Fabric Closet at the bottom of the loft stairs

So much of my fabric has stories behind it. Where I bought it. Why I bought it.  Who I was with when I bought it. How I was spending my last disposable dollars to buy it. It's a living history/testament to my sewing journey...

I saw that as I unpacked it.

  • I found the one piece I purchased as a 18 year old and have held onto for all these years. 
  • I found a few pieces I bought when I made my first trip to the original GStreet Fabrics in Maryland. 
  • There are pieces from fabric stores that no longer exist in the NYC Garment District. 
  • Pieces purchased from Mood Fabric when I was a Mood Blogger and pieces that friends have given me over the years. 
  • There are also pieces from online fabric companies that no longer exist. 

I'm thankful for those memories.

I'm also thankful that I have this amazing collection. I can honestly say that I won't be buying any more fabric this year and probably not into the first quarter of 2021. Even if I start sewing from my retirement fund now, I know I won't make a considerable dent in it before I actually retire! *LOL*

Most importantly though, I've learned a few things about myself by unpacking and situating the collection. This is where I'm at now. Just like my extensive pattern collection (which hasn't been sorted yet), I will be sewing from what I have. It's time to make what I have work for me.

A tour of the fabric collection can be seen here

The new black/brown/shirting shelf

The new pinks/prints/red & purple shelf

The Sewing Loft is finally finished...

...and I'm spending my first weekend sewing.  Sewing in what seems like a very long time! 

Enjoying the view from this lovely window since it's a bright, crisp fall day. always more later!

Sunday, September 13, 2020

The Sewing Loft Progress

I've spent a large amount of time getting the pieces just right in my Sewing Loft.  The size of the space was challenging because of the low walls and limited wall space. However, after sitting in the room with the basics for a few days, then moving a few things around, this is my starting place to sew & create.

Here is the Sewing Loft in Pictures so far ~

The new Janome 9450QCP

On the second table - the serger & my old Janome

This is the sewing machine area. I LOVE the natural light here.  I've set it up so that my daughter and I or my granddaughters can all sew together. It was one of the things that bothered me about the Sewing Cave.  Only I could sew there. It was on the top of my list of items to change.

I also found all of the sewing doodads I had in storage.
So I put them out too.

Moving on this is the storage where I have my trims, elastics, extra serger thread (not including the serger thread in bins underneath the sewing tables) and patterns...

Then there are the fabric shelves which while covered in the curtains are completely empty. This will be the longest & hardest part of putting the Loft together. Loading the fabric took me two weekends last time, but since I work from home now, I think it will take about a week this time...

My button collection is on the two top shelves because they're 
too close to the ceiling for fabric to work on them.

The other side of the room holds more plastic storage with patterns and supplies and there are bins on the top of the fabric shelves where more patterns will be stored.  I've also added a fabric closet to the mix. It's located at the bottom of the stairs to the Loft. This should allow me to get all of my fabric onto shelves.

The niche will hold more fabric, my thread & zipper collection and Daphne my dressform.  I'm looking for an ironing board to place on the wall that will fold down when I need it and be put away when I don't. Right now the shelf is storing pattern boxes too...something else that needs to be put away.

Finally a look at the Sewing Loft from my sewing machine area...

If you've made it this far...I'm including a list of the items I purchased for the Sewing Loft. Most of the items were brought from the Sewing Cave to this new space.  However, I really wanted new sewing desks since I was sewing on regular folding tables. As I stated in my last post, I will be updating my cutting table but it works for now.

The New Equipment ~

The sewing desks are Costway Adjustable Sewing Craft Table with drawer from Amazon. 

The lamp at the end of the table is from the Daylight Company also purchased from Amazon.

The two smaller black wire shelf units were purchased from Home Depot.

All of the floral baskets were purchased from WalMarts. They come as a set of 8.

The Ottlite by the old Janome while not new, hadn't been take out of the box so I'm including it on the list. I bought it as a Today's Special from HSN so I don't believe that's the price I paid for it.

Otherwise, everything else was in the cave. I've repurposed the use of quite a few of the pieces. Something about packing all your stuff up and then unpacking it, allows you to see the pieces differently.

I'm sure as I add things to the Sewing Loft, I will revisit and share.  But this will probably be my last Sewing Loft post for the minute.  Hopefully, I will actually sew in this amazing room that I'm so grateful for and have a finished something to share!

BTW, there are still a lot of books to be put on shelves in my main living area. I'm also waiting for a closet unit to arrive so I can hang all of my clothes up! The only area that I would call completely finished is my kitchen. But it's only been a week and I have time... always more later!

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Moving Update - 2020 Version

I've been in my new place since Saturday.  I'm surrounded by boxes & bags but have managed to carve out an oasis in my bedroom, the kitchen and the bathroom.  The majority of the boxes/bags remaining are mostly related to my book collection and the Sewing Loft.

BTW, I posted a short tour of the Loft on Instagram as it appears now. I'm highly unmotivated to open boxes or bags and have no idea why?  Maybe the stress of the last two weeks...maybe because I don't have a deadline...or anyone living with me to push me to unpack...or even the desire to sew?  I don't know but while I don't want to unpack, the boxes/bags are annoying the heck out of me! LOL!

A few things ~

o  While the Sewing Loft is quite a bit bigger than the sewing cave, the layout is considerably different.  As well as the fact that there are very few full walls.

o  I love my new sewing tables!  They will allow me and someone else to sew in the loft at the same time.  Something I was definitely missing in the sewing cave.

o  I can walk around the cutting table. This was an important change for me. Although this table is temporary.  I will be upgrading it.  Am presently looking for a replacement - something sturdy, wider and with some storage.  Not one of those flimsy tables that the craft store sells.

o  I own a lot of sewing paraphernalia. Packing it up on a deadline pushed me. Without a deadline now, I'm a little challenged to get it back together. Especially since I have no desire to sew either.

A few pictures ~

If you follow me on Instagram, you will see real time updates in my stories. It's easy to snap a photo as I'm doing something to share but it will probably be a minute before I have another blog post. However, I did want to give an update and let you know that I've moved! always more later!


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