Saturday, January 31, 2009

January end of the month recap

I use to do these monthly recaps regularly in 2007 and then stopped last year figuring that my statistics report on the sidebar worked just as well. Later when I was reviewing some posts in my blog, I found the end of the month recaps and thought I actually liked them better. So this year, I am going to try a mixture of the two.

Let me say that these recaps are primarily for me...since this is my diary! *smile* This year more than any other year since I've been blogging, I need to be consciously aware of how I'm spending my money and what I'm making. Yesterday another person was let go at my job. I work for a small when one person leaves it's felt acutely...especially when they don't leave of their own volition. Monday one of my closest friends was laid off from another large financial institution. It is getting rough out there and there are no guarantees. So I need to be prudent and fiscally wise...that's my mindframe when viewing my end-of-the-month recaps and fabric purchases.

First, I did break my "no fabric" moratorium for 60 days because not only did I tell Cidell about the faux leather/shearling piece but I also bought six yards of it myself. It is a fantastic piece at an amazing price and after consulting with my Fabric Advisor (Shannon), we decided it was too fabulous to pass up.

At the same time she gave me a great equation to assist me with meeting my fabric buying goal. Which is to acquire no more than 100 yards of fabric this year - this number was not chosen randomly, this is approximately how many yards of fabric I sew each year. I understand this means that whatever I acquire, it will balance out what I make, and will not make a dent into the fabric collection. I'm okay with that. I think before everything is settled with our economy, I'm going to need that fabric collection! *sigh*

Shannon told me that I could purchase 8.33 yards per month and still meet my fabric purchasing goal. Now I don't have to buy fabric every month but it leaves me free to get amazing pieces like that faux leather/shearling without anxiety or guilt. Of course, when I told Marji about the goal she said I could further refine it by only purchasing six yards of fabric a month, thus bringing me under the 100 yard goal...ummm, maybe, I don't know about that yet! But using Shannon's method, I have a 2.33 yard surplus that can be added to February's me permission to purchase 10.66 yards. Now this doesn't mean that I will...I am still trying not to buy just to buy...but if something AMAZING shows up, I can purchase without guilt!

Now to the stats:

January was a very productive month for me. I finished six new garments and used 16 yards of fabric to do so!!!! One UFO was completed and added to the wardrobe rotation...I made two new skirts and wore both to work this week in fairly cold temperatures...and I found a new way to wear all of my fall/winter wardrobe. Yes, January was a good month indeed!

I am still working on two major products that hopefully will find their way out of the "in-construction" stage and "into my wardrobe" this month. I do want to make a few more separates...a couple more pairs of pants and a dress or two. Already I'm tempering my list because as cold as it is, I can hear the whisperings of spring. The new spring RTW catalogs are arriving in the mail, the websites are being updated and I have been perusing just a little too frequently on my iTouch! *LOL*

I am looking forward with a cautious is the times y'know! But I do have a question. Now don't I always!?! For all of you who made sewing resolutions/lists/guidelines for 2009, how did you do this month?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

An update on "Do You Facebook?"

Yeah, I must be totally missing something because not only did 57 of you talk back to me about your Facebook status - but now the NYTimes has an article in today's newspaper called, "Friends, Until I Delete You."

Ummm, "unfriending" someone for a Whopper?! I don't think I'm ready for Facebook...I might just be too grown! ROTFLOL! And I loved this line..."On Facebook, the rules of etiquette can be vexing." Or the woman who removed a lifelong pal in "a hormonal moment." Geesh, I'm having hormonal moments most days along with those personal summers so I don't think I need to be anywhere near a computer where I could possible unfriend someone!

Anyway, read the is one more interesting take on Facebook!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Would you please TNT with me?

I was going to write an entirely different post this evening. But before I went to type it, I flipped into my "following" to read a few blog posts...then I stumbled across Alexandra's post...*sigh* And I realized that my response to her post was best suited to a blog post of my own. Thus the title.."Would you please TNT with me?"

I wish I could give each and every sewist a TNT pattern for a top, a blouse, a dress, a skirt and a pair of pants. This pattern would be well-fitted, wearability tested, muslined and ready to be sewn in different fabrications. Then you would know the joy of taking said pattern, laying it down on a piece of fabric and just sewing it up! You would know and understand the sense of accomplishment that comes from making two skirts or two tops in a weekend and adding them to your wardrobe rotation!

And the beauty of a Tried and True (TNT) Pattern is that once you've worked out your fitting issues, you can use this basic pattern to create any look you want! Whenever I spy a design I like in a magazine, catalog, pattern book or even on TV, my first thought is can I cut up my TNT pattern to get this design? Only if I CAN'T figure out a way to work with my original pattern, do I venture into my pattern collection or the pattern catalogs.

For example - this is my basic TNT dress pattern:

This is one variation of it:

Here is another:

One more:

And here is the prizewinner (at least to me):

Let's look at skirts. How many different types of skirts are there really? Straight, bias cut, a-line and gored. Perfect the fit on a straight and a gored skirt pattern and you can do practically anything with it! My skirts are special only because I use unique types of fabric but most importantly ~ I only have two TNT skirt patterns:

4 gore skirt cut with a different back:

The fabric makes this one special:

Definitely the fabric combination making this one noticeable.

A set of summer skirts - made from my TNT 4 gore pattern - it's all in the fabric!

But Alexandra made an interesting have to be comfortable with your body and your shape. It is real evident from my pictures that I am not a skinny minny and actually I'm a little plumper these days, but I accept myself for who I am. I am well endowed on the bottom, I just work that into the equation.

Please allow me one quick story - I remember when I worked in the garment district - one of my first jobs was working in a showroom. The showroom was in NYC but the production plant was in Boston. We had to travel to Boston every season to present a fashion show...don't ask me why, I no longer remember. However, one evening when we were out to dinner, I saw this beautiful plus size woman wearing the most amazing white gauzy outfit that put the skinny women to shame in the restuarant. I mean heads turned when she walked through the place and she wasn't famous. So I learned from that instance that it doesn't matter what size you are, it matters how much confidence you have in yourself...and that confidence will shine through especially if you are wearing a well-fitted beautiful outfit!

If you don't like you, no pattern will solve your issues. However, if you realize that no matter what size you are, yet you love who you are with all your figure can make "magic" with your own TNT patterns.

So please pull out a TNT pattern, trace the pieces and cut them up. Make something a little different, use a different fabric, a new technique...but make something...and you too can make two skirts in a weekend...or one fantastic dress or an amazing pair of pants! So would you please TNT with me?!

**Now all posts have a disclaimer! If you just like trying new patterns and going through the gyrations required to fit them...please continue to enjoy the process! Or if you can make a pattern right out of the envelope...this just does not apply to you! Or if you are into pattern drafting and want to work with different patterns to get their styling...please continue to do so!
**End of disclaimer!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Do You Facebook?

Lately, there has been a lot of talk amongst my friends and acquaintances about their Facebook pages.

Facebook? Are you kidding me? That's the time suck that my daughters spend all of their non-sleeping time on! When did Facebook become a place for grown folks? How did I miss that message?

This Time Magazine article discusses this new phenomena. So do I have a Facebook page? No. Am I planning on getting, I don't think so! I find it hard to socialize in the same place that my teenage daughters are spending their quality time! But never say never! *LOL*

So the question of the day is, "Do you Facebook?" And if you do, why? How has it affected your computer time? And do you have a lot of 'friends'?

Do you facebook?

The Making of a Suit - Chapter Three

This section is on samples.

I made several samples of trim and interfacing choices. I have several different types of fusible interfacings...bought in large lots or given to me by a friend who just rolled yards and yards of them off a even though I am starting to get to the bottom of the stash...I still have enough different types to choose from for this project.

My first decision was, how firm did I want the front interfacing and collar to be? That is all the pattern specifies should be interfaced and since I am sewing a jacket and not tailoring one, I went with "some" of the jacket specifications. I pulled three interfacing choices from the stash, cut squares and fused them to a piece of my fabric. After performing a touch test, I based my decision on which one to use. Here is what my sample looked like:

The next set of samples were piping samples. Jean left a comment about possibly using both colors together and the idea really intrigued me. So much so that I made samples using both pieces of piping in two different versions.

First beige/green:

Next green/beige:

Neither of these really moved me, so I decided to use the kewl and funky combination for the piping and button choices.

The jacket was then cut out and interfaced. I am pretty far along with the jacket construction and from my last post you can tell that the pants are done. However, I did some interesting things with the lining and that will be the next post on my "Making of a Suit" series.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Weekend Sewing!

I left work Friday evening with an intense desire to make a new skirt. I know a skirt from the dead of winter! *LOL* However, I've found a way to wear all of those fall/winter skirts and suits that have been languishing in my closet once the temperatures dip into frigid territory ~ JEANS!

I wear the top half of my outfit over my jeans. Then I fold my skirt up nicely, put it in a bag and carry it to work. Once I get to work a quick trip to the ladies room, removing the jeans and socks ~ I'm wearing the pantyhose because have you ever tried to put it on in a ladies room stall? It ain't pretty! *LOL* I add the skirt and my heels and *voila* I'm ready for work!

A by-product of this is that I'm much more comfortable on my commute to and from work. Rain, snow, bitter cold (I've experienced all of these since the beginning of the year) and I'm ready for the commute. I'm also no longer wearing my work gear for 13-14-15 or more hours a day.

So inspired by our new first lady, I remembered that I had an awesome brocade print in the collection bought to make "the perfect skirt." This piece was purchased during my first trip to Kashi's with Ann and Barbara!

Some stats:

TNT straight skirt pattern

1.5 yards of a polyester brocade
1.5 yards of beige rayon lining

9" gold zipper, rayon seam tape and (2) 1/2" buttons

So since I was on a roll and in the mood to sew...I remembered that I was inspired by Sharon's pink skirt..and pulled a piece of pink embroidered wool from the fabric closet. Tada! One more lined straight skirt from my TNT pattern.

1.5 yards of a 100% wool embroidered piece from Fabric Mart
1.5 yards of a pink rayon lining

7" pink zipper and (2) 1/2" pink buttons

Now it's not like I haven't been sewing...I did work on "The Suit" when I was home last weekend. However, this is a project especially since I am trying to take my time and enjoy the journey. But I have to tell you, I finally understand how people can have more than one project going at a time! Because if I had to work on just the suit this weekend, I don't think I would have accomplished as much as I did. I probably would have ended up a little discouraged and disgusted with the suit because there are just soooo many more steps left to do before it's finished!

Presently I have two suits in various stages of construction...The Vogue 8137 jacket and dress and Vogue 7944 - the pantsuit. I keep stopping and starting with both so I needed some quick and easy projects to cleanse my sewing palette! Since neither one of these suits are ready for primetime yet...but the pants are completed and work with a RTW twinset that I have in my closet, I will probably wear them to work this here they are:

One final shot of all three pieces...on hangars of course! Construction pics can be seen in my Flickr album!

Hope you had a wonderful weekend and got some sewing done too! More later!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I would like to thank...

Since it is awards season again, I've been thinking about what I would say and who I would thank if I had to step to the podium and try to be composed, while thinking, "Holy sh*t, I did it! I won!" Since that opportunity won't ever present itself...*LOL*...another has!

I am the recipient of two nominations for the Kreativ Blogger Award...and I would like to thank both Ann and Linda for so graciously nominating me. There are rules that must be followed for acknowledging the receipt of the award and for paying it forward...

However, can I tell a little story first. I had been blogging for about a year...and the "Rockin Girl Blogger" award was making its way through blogland. I just knew someone would nominate me...I mean I blogged about every other day. I included pictures of my garments on my blog. I thought I could sew a little bit and I was polite and encouraging to others in blogland. I watched that award go round and round, totally skipping over me...until finally about round 6 or 7 someone nominated me. By that point, I was so thrilled that someone, anyone had finally thought of me...but I do remember feeling unworthy, unloved and unwanted as I waited for someone, anyone (Gawd, I was ready to pay someone!) to nominate me.

So I'm gonna break with the rules here and nominate everyone who has a blog in sewing land, everyone whose blog I've visited and left a comment (because being a comment 'ho myself, I know how thrilling it is to get them! *LOL*), to everyone who has left me a comment and I haven't made it to your blog yet...I'm coming, I just need some TIME to sew! *LOL*

Because anyone who takes the time to set your thoughts to this medium, who shares a technique, who lists a pattern they like, realizes that this bloggin' thing is not easy to do! People expect alot from you once you start to blog frequently and have a lot of things to share with you both good and bad! *LOL* But we all need to be recognized for the fact that we consistently share our love of sewing with each other and the world!

I just don't want to be the cause of someone sitting and wondering when it's going to be their turn! I want you to know that it's your turn right now! So if you read my blog and have a blog, you are NOMINATED! You WIN! Proudly display the Kreativ Blogger award in a post, on your sidebar and say that I nominated you...because YOU ARE special!

...and finally thank you, thank you all for coming by, for leaving such wonderful comments and for thinking I'm special! It's appreciated more than you know!!

Friday, January 23, 2009

"I Sew, I Don't Tailor"

So I was talking to a friend the other day about making a jacket. And she was asking all of these involved and detailed questions about making a jacket. She started to laugh at me because I kept saying, "I sew, I don't tailor."

Then she pointed out that I've made several of which she had seen the interior construction of...again I repeated that, "I sew, I don't tailor."

Because to me a tailored jacket has a specific set of "ingredients" that take time and knowledge to accomplish. My jackets have some elements of tailoring in them but I wouldn't consider them a tailored jacket by any means! I think I said something like, "I do alot of 'soft' tailoring because I predominantly use fusibles and a lot of shortcuts!"

I am NOT patient enough to do all the steps required to make a true tailored jacket. I've also found that I like a softer, more drapier garment with less structure. My exact words went something like, "structured, rigid jackets make me look fatter!" Which of course just made her laugh louder at me.

But really people, I just like to sew. I am not an advanced sewist by any means. There are quite a few things that I can't and don't sew, some because I don't know how, some because I don't wanna know how! So this means that all of my garments won't be perfect. This means that sometimes I settle for 'good enough' and I share both my successes and my failures to encourage others to "just keep sewing!"

There are quite a few bloggers out here, who are advanced and make amazing garments. For example, Barbara, who authors the blog, "Cat Fur Studio" just made an awesome cashmere jacket. She used techniques in her jacket and explained why...some things that I've never even thought of! *LOL* So if you are looking for perfect, please look to them!

But if you are looking for enthusiasm, some experience, a lot of talk, a deep love and abiding passion, then keep on stopping by! Because I like to sew...but I don't tailor!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

All Hail to the Chief!

As The White House website says, "A Change Has Come to America!"

"All Hail to the Chief!"
The 44th President of the United States
Barack H. Obama

I was very moved by his Inauguration Address:

"America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America."

You can read the address in it's entirety here.

Today, I am so very proud to be an American!!!!

Monday, January 19, 2009

The day before the big day!

Today is the day we actually celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday and President-Elect Obama has declared it a day of service...

I have to admit that to me though, today is the day before the BIG DAY and I'm filled with nervous energy and much I have no post on the significance of MLK Day! I can, however, point you to an amazing post written by Melody who authors the Crazed Sewer blog. Her post is about Rosa it and enjoy! Or you can read the post I wrote about my feelings on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. last year.

My hope is that as the nation gathers together to witness history with such a feeling of joy and anticipation, that in the weeks and months ahead we, the citizens of the United States and the World remember that we all are one! United together to bring peace to a troubled world, to feed the hungry and shelter the lost...

OMG, in less than 24 hours...President-Elect Obama will become the 44th President of the United States!!!!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I have Inauguration Fever

I know you think I have been home the last few days diligently working on my next outfit...ummmm, no! Shaking head, no...not at all! My televisions (yes that's more than one!) have been tuned to CNN as I've watched the pre-inauguration events.

Yesterday, I spent most of my day watching President-Elect Obama's train ride from Philadelphia to Washington, DC. The coverage started at 10:00 am and ended at 7:00 pm...I think I took a break to eat, make a phone call or two, cause I could read blogs from my Touch in front of the TV set! I watched from the first speech in Philly until the new First Family boarded the new Presidential Limo for the trip back to Blair House.

This morning, I got up later than usual and watched David Axelrod on George Stephanolous show, then I moved over to CNN and watched the lead-up to the pre-inauguration concert at The Lincoln after singing along and listening to the President-Elect and the Vice-President Elect speak...I'm taking a break...and I've realized that I haven't touched my fabric or really thought about sewing once today!

However, I've read some of your comments and there were a few questions, so how about I answer them!

Lisa H asked, "What do you consider a "quick suit"?"
The answer to that is sometimes I'm delirious! *LOL* I think I can sew something faster than I actually can...and when I pull out a new piece of fabric I'm so full of hope that I believe I can make anything quickly...yeah right! So the answer is there is no such thing as a quick suit!

Sheila asked, "Are you treating the fabric before sewing?
Hopefully I answered all of your questions in my Making of a Suit - Chapter One post. If you have any additional questions, please ask!

AllisonC asked, "How organised you are to get 5 perfect outfits ready at the beginning of the week - did you make all those items?"
The brown 2pc twinset, the black suede duster and the vanilla sleeveless turtleneck are all RTW. Everything else was made by me. And I think I've posted about this before but I hate having to get up at to sleep an extra 15 minutes, if my clothing is already picked out (and sometimes accessories too) I can sleep the extra time and still make it out the door by 6:20 am.

Mel asked, "Your work sounds very "mysteriously corporate".
Yes, I do work in a very corporate climate in a financial institution and that's about all I'm gonna share about that! *smile*

Marjie asked, "Do you have a bobbin winder?"
Yes, I do and I love it! It has really made making bobbins a timesaver but I still like to have them all made before I start a project instead of having to stop in the middle of sewing to wind another one!

Deb asked, "Please share with us just how you know the sleeve cap is not right. Does it have odd wrinkles, stand upward, or feel uncomfortable?"
The sleeve cap on the UFO jacket has a lot of pleats in the top of the sleeve cap to make it fit into the armhole. I ripped those sleeves out 3x and reinserted them and after the third try cried uncle. I know you can't see them well in the posed shots, so I've included an upclose and personal shot because...I have no shame! *LOL* No seriously, so you can see what is bothering me. I guess I could have just wadded up the project and let it go...but I'm not a "perfectionist" at all! I'm more of a "realistic" kinda sewist and if this was the best that I could do on this outfit, well this was the best! Learn from it and move on!!!

Linda asked, "Do you line all your jackets? Completely? And if not, how do you finish the seam allowances?"
No...I don't line every jacket. Some of my summer jackets have no lining in them at all and I've usually bound the seams with seam binding. I also have a jacket or two with a half-lining, the back and the sleeves were lined. The back to avoid velcro butt (y'know when the lining hangs up on your behind) and the sleeves to ease the jacket on and off my arms.

Jean asked a question about the piping on my new suit, " Hmmm, you don't have enough to do both do you?"
I have to tell you until I read your comment I hadn't thought about it...but it has been permeating my thoughts lately and I'm actually going to make a sample and try it out! So thank you for the suggestion!!!

NancyK asked this question and I know that Lori asked a similar question in another post, "Do you only use pre-made piping, and if so, where are you buying it? How much do you usually buy? If I already have a project in mind, I measure, but you mention having it in your stash."
I predominately purchase piping from Daytona Trimmings in NYC. I can get piping in any color, several different fabrications and if I'm feeling really adventurous I peruse the home dec findings. Basic colors like black, beige and white are ALWAYS purchased in 10 yard pieces...I like having it on hand. Fashion colors are usually purchased in 5 yard pieces unless I plan on using alot of piping like in the Butterick 5194 jacket. I think I bought 15 yards of piping for that one!

That particular green piping was bought with 5 yards of velvet green ribbon and 5 yards of a sheer green ribbon in the same shade to be used for some project that has never seen the light of day. Thanks to the wonderful comments left here, the piping will probably find life in this new suit! Now this is not to say that I don't and haven't made piping in the past...I have! But it is usually from the fabric that I'm using or it's because I just couldn't find something that matched or coordinated at Daytona. On rare occasions I have purchased piping from M&J but it is not very often at all.

I also wanted to thank everyone who has left a comment on the last two "Ramblings" posts. Thanks for taking the time to talk back to me and for leaving such thoughtful comments!

More later!

p.s. Sorry about that Eagle fans guess your guys are going home this week like mine did last week! And no, I'm not a graceful loser! *LOL*

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Making of a Suit - Chapter Two

So today is Saturday - the beginnings of a long 3-day weekend here in the US to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday...which I have elongated by adding two vacation days for the Presidential Inaugural Celebrations. I plan on working on this suit during the festivities and maybe finishing up a UFO...depends on how I manage my time!

This series of posts, "The Making of a Suit", is just about the decisions that I make and the process I use in creating these garments. I wouldn't call the posts a primer, just an inside view of my thought process...scary right! *LOL*

Next up for me usually is picking out the notions and embellishments. Yes, I think about the embellishments/trim this early in the process. I use to be an at the end of the finished garment embellishment kinda girl, but found that enclosing ends and adding trim then could be kind of awkward. So now I plan the embellishment out before I cut out my fabric so that I can incorporate trimming ideas into my seam finishes.

Of course, this is one of my favorite parts of the construction process besides actually sewing the garment. I can happily spend an evening choosing buttons and trim from my extensive collection. And yes, I consider buttons trim - well actually to me they are like jewelry down the front of a garment - be it dress, shirt or jacket. A well chosen button can add so much to a garment, so I need to take my time and choose the best one for the job!

After pulling any and all contenders out of the trim drawer and the button bins, I lay them down with the camera and take pictures. Lots of pictures...looking at them not just on the view finder of my digital camera but also large and in charge on the computer. Then I somehow manage to narrow my choices down to a particular color for the piping and buttons. Sometimes this process is easy...the right color just jumps out at me. This time the choice has been a little more challenging, so I've come up with two alternatives:

Corporate - "Kewl and Funky"

or just "Corporate Chic"

I am undecided regarding which pairing will work best and will let the fabric speak to me as I work with it before making a final decision. I have enough piping and buttons for either they will be placed on the side until it's time to use them.

My next step will be to make interfacing if you are interested...stay tuned! Now though, I'm off to finish watching the train trip of President-Elect Obama as he makes his way into Baltimore!

Three more days and Barack Obama will officially become the 44th President of the United States!!!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What would we do without technology?

I've been surfing around sewing blogworld reading about stashes and sewing back stories (thank you Marji and LindseyT for inspiring so many posts!) and everywhere I keep running into Apple technology...or some type of "new" technology.

People are surfing the internet looking at fashion sites on their iPhones and iTouches. People listen to podcasts on their iPods while knitting or sewing. Some are even creating podcasts and sharing them through iTunes. And who hasn't taken out their cellphone and snapped a picture of a piece of fabric, a pattern, a finished garment and sent it to a friend or even blogged about it...and let's not even talk about how digital cameras have changed the sewing landscape! You can actually see a step-by-step tutorial of a someone construct a garment...or even watch a video of it on YouTube!

Yeah, technology is everywhere! Think about it just five short years ago most of us didn't even know about blogs...never mind having them, posting to them, reading them, obsessing over them (okay maybe that's only me! *LOL*) but most importantly learning from them! Gosh, Phyllis is making the Chado Ralph Rucci dress and one of Ralph Rucci's patternmakers leaves her a comment! Audrey is making an entire SWAP wardrobe using Japanese pattern magazines so that she can better learn pattern drafting! Then there are others like Towanda who regularly uses her pattern drafting software to make wonderful plus size garments...and the legions of BWOF fans! GLP must be thrilled to no end at all of the new BWOF magazine subscriptions...

So can you feel it? Do you notice it? Or am I the only one seeing the coolness factor here!?! Do you see how our centuries old craft is marching headlong into the 21st century and beyond and how we (yes all of us) are using technology to promote it! How we are upping its coolness factor! How we are reaching across borders, languages and time zones and touching others who have the same passion to take a piece of fabric and create something amazing from it? Do you see it? Can you feel it?

So the question of the day or evening is, "What would we do without technology?" If we didn't have these everyday electronics, would our sewing horizons be as open as they are now? If we didn't all have a pc or a laptop or a blackberry, would we be as in touch with our fellow sewists or would we all still be sewing in isolation?

Really, what would we do without technology?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

How do you feel about your stash?

I read two powerful blog posts this morning that precipated me writing yet another blog post about stashing and collecting fabric. The first one was on Marji's blog called, "Stash" (which called me out btw!) and the second was on Liz of Crossroads Knits, called "Resolve."

There were several points from both posts and the comments section that moved me to write about it what follows are my thoughts on what I took away from both posts.

1. Purchasing Less

I have accumulated a collection of fabric that I adore. I have weeded out all of the "What the h*ll was I thinking when I bought this?" pieces and now have a collection of pieces that I not only love but can't wait to put to good use. BUT and here is the very important disclaimer, there is now just too much of it in my apartment...and it is starting to overwhelm me by its very presence.

I've realized that in the last few months I've used fabric shopping as a band-aid for several discontents in my life...and no I'm not going to list them, so don't ask! *smile* During 2008, I accumulated approximately 300 yards of fabric. That's right folks, 300 yards of fabric!!! IF I hadn't been keeping track of what was coming in as well as what was going out, I would have no clear idea of how dire the situation had become. Yes, I would have realized that I had an over abundance of fabric (I mean you can't miss it!) but I wouldn't have had the quantifiying numbers staring me in the face...this leads me to Points A & B.

~Point A
I will not acquire any fabric for the next 60 days! This is an unchecked situation that must be brought into perspective...and there is the storage factor to be considered also!

Last week I read a post by Lisa who's blog is called Sew Random. Lisa stated that she only purchased 85 yards of fabric last year. To me that was very admirable especially based upon her considerable output. It really stirred in me a commitment to get to a number similar to hers!

So the goal I've set is to purchase less than 100 yards of fabric this year - approximately 1/3 of what I purchased in 2008 - and the 60 day moratorium is included in this goal. By setting this goal, which I think of as a positive and not a negative, I will still be able to purchase both a few wants and some needs without feeling as if I'm punishing myself...this brings me to Point B.

~Point B
I was a little taken aback at the discouraging words directed at people who track "yards sewn" and/or "yards in." On the one hand, I can understand the disdain of tracking, hey I've been there, but on the other hand if I didn't track the amount of yardage I used I wouldn't know several things:

  • actual amount of yardage used for a project instead of the ambiguous "Carolyn 5"
  • how many yards are actually coming out of the collection and ending up as finished garments
  • a realistic measurement of the output from my collection versus the input
In my world, there is a very real need to track yardage out. It provides a checks and balance system direly needed.

I wrote all of this to say, that I am very committed to maintaining my goal of reducing the amount of fabric I purchase in 2009. AND I am concerned about how if we all lower the amount of fabric purchased, it will affect our fabric vendors. The concerns can and should go hand in hand. It shows my awareness of how all of us are inter-related and how we need each other to thrive!

Marji also posed a question, "Do you get this whole stash busting thing?"

My answer to that is a resounding NO! I don't understand sewing things just to use up yardage. I don't understand the guilt associated with fabric stashs. I do have several emotions associated with my fabric collection, but guilt is certainly not one of them! But I really don't understand why someone would deliberately suck the joy out of this hobby we all profess to love. . . unless there really isn't any love there! So, No I don't get it!

Stashing/Collecting can be such a polarizing element in our sewing community. Sometimes it seems as if there is fence between us and you stand on one side or the other. Stashers to the right and non-stashers to the left! And even then behind the fences there seems to be cliques, "The Natural Fiber Stashers", "The high end expensive fabric stashers", etc. and on the other side, "Not more than 5 pcs" clique versus "The small cupboard full stashers"...y'know what I mean?

It seems no matter how you slice it ~ fabric is an integral part of sewing. No fabric - no sewing. And we are as diverse a segment as any other group out can we just agree to disagree and keep it moving!

And this is the last post I'm writing on my fabric collecting tendencies for at least 30 days! ROTFLOL!

Have a good one!!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Making of A Suit - Chapter One

First Chapter - Pretreating the fabric

After choosing my fashion fabric, usually my next step is to pretreat the fabrics. I know some people pretreat their fabrics as soon as they hit the door. And I've tried this method, but handling the fabric just makes me want to use the fabric right away, even if I'm in the midst of a project! Since I really dislike UFO's, I've stopped doing this and now pretreat as my first step in making a garment.

So last night while watching the Red Carpet for The Golden Globes and the actual award show, I pretreated the wool crepe. I've previously written out a detailed account of how I pretreat wool crepe and you can read about it here! Now this is a process but I've never experienced shrinkage when I dry clean my finished garments using this pretreatment method.

Last night I actually enjoyed this process. I got into a rhythm while watching TV and before I knew it, I was done! I also threw the lining fabric into the washer and dryer to pretreat it and then lightly pressed it. I think by breaking this down into steps, none of them are onerous even though I'm usually rushing through these steps because I like the actual sewing and construction of the garment best! I am working towards accomplishing my sewing goals for 2009 - one of which is to slow my sewing d-o-w-n. Now my fabric is ready for cutting and the weekend!

Tonight, though I will thread the serger and my sewing machine and make several extra bobbins. I always like to make at least two bobbins when sewing a large project because I hate running out of bobbin thread halfway through. You're wondering about the thread in my sewing machine, right? Well since I purchase the 1100 yard spools of Gutterman thread from Atlanta Thread & Supply, I rarely run out while sewing a garment!

Tonight I'm borrowing Summerset's parting shot:

I finally got the internet connectivity working, so not only is my blog page featured on the front touch screen but I also got up the and Chanel apps that Phyllis highlighted on her post "Fashion at your Fingertips" on the Sewing Divas blog! I love my iTouch!!!!

The next chapter will be about picking notions, buttons and interfacings...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Baby It's Cold Outside

So you know that I originally started writing this post Friday evening when I got home from work...but Blogger in its infinite wisdom sent it to the cypergods...the black hole of cyper space...somewhere! *LOL* My post was going to be about planning to sew a couple of pairs of pants because it's gotten kinda cold here!

Then after I started to rifle through my closet to determine what would match the two pairs of pants I wanted to make, I realized that I had more than enough "cold weather" pants to make up outfits to wear to work this week. So there wasn't a need for any "hurry up sewing."

First, let me define "cold weather" pants. These are lined pants that I've made using extra heavy wool fabric with a heavier weight lining added. I have four pairs of these constructed and pushed to the back of the pants section in my closet. I use these pants when the temps drop into the teens or lower and as you might imagine these pants aren't worn as often as my normal winter pants are worn.

After coming up with five outfits for the week...

I decided to rummage through the fabric collection for fabric to make a "quick" pantsuit. Yeah, I know...issues! After pulling down a few pieces and moving around several other selections, I settled on this fabric:

5 yards of a 60" wool crepe herringbone in camel & brown stripes from Fabric Mart. This is a wonderfully smooth fabric and will make a great pantsuit.

I then decided to use Vogue 7944 (now OOP) my TNT jacket pattern to go with my TNT pants pattern because I love the pantsuit I made using this combination in early 2007:

It performs well in all of my work situations and that's what I need this new pantsuit to do, too. I am now slowing down to enjoy the process. I have a three-day holiday weekend and an additional two days because of "The Inauguration" so I will have plenty of time to construct these pieces. Maybe I will even throw in a UFO to make my time really productive! *smile*

So even though nothing new came out of the sewing machine this weekend, I do have some firm sewing plans for next well as knowing that once again my closet has not let me down!

p.s. and let's just not discuss the Giants loss to the Eagles...sad...just sad!

Instant Replay ~ "My Sewing Teacher"

Earlier this week, LindseyT wrote a post called, "What's Your Sewing Backstory?" and she asked people who were interested to do a follow-up on their blogs.

I wrote this post on September 17, 2006 - so here is an "Instant Replay." Enjoy!

My Sewing Teacher

Today I watched an episode of Dateline NBC. It was called the "Education of Miss Graves." I don't know if they will repeat it but I do know that it touched me deeply and made me reflect on teachers that had influenced me.

Of course, you know it was my sewing teacher. I had the same sewing teacher all through high school ~ Mrs. Kenealy. I could already sew by the time I reached high school. I had been sewing since I was 11. But Mrs. Kenealy made me feel that my sewing talent was special ~ not just something that everyone else could do. And Mrs. Kenealy taught me that I could make anything ~ absolutely anything!

First, let me tell you a few things about Mrs. Kenealy...she was an older lady and had been teaching for over 30 years. She had bright white hair, a kindly smile and a real enthusiasm for sewing. She understood those who really wanted to sew and be in her class and those who were just using it as a way to get an "easy" grade to buff their GPA. But mostly she enjoyed sewing...when we were just working at the sewing machines on our garments and not learning a new technique, she sewed right along with us! I remember her making her grandchildren garments. I remember her making skirts and blouses that she would wear to school the very next day! But what I remember the most was that she thought I was special and had talent!

High school can be difficult for a lanky girl with long, nappy hair and no breasts....well not really developed ones...and a really strict mother who wouldn't let you date or go to parties. Add into that someone who is really intelligent and who doesn't have to work too hard at schoolwork and you get the picture. So to be told that you have a talent by someone who wasn't teaching a "smart" class meant the world to me!

So I just want to take this opportunity to thank my high school sewing teacher ~ Mrs. Kenealy ~ who let me skip gym in her class to sew...who encouraged me to try new things and looked the other way when my insecurities got the better of me...and who every day told me what a wonderful seamstress I was!

I had two wonderful women encourage my sewing - my grandmother who taught me and Mrs. Kenealy who encouraged me to keep it as a lifelong hobby! I wish I had a picture of Mrs. Kenealy, I looked her up in my High School Yearbook but of course, the only year I have available, her picture isn't in it...*sigh* Suffice it to say she made a lasting impact on me...wouldn't you agree!

...and yes, I still have "The Baby It's Cold Outside" post coming up later today...complete with pictures!!!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Sometimes Blogger gets on my last nerve!

See I had this great post called, "Baby It's Cold Outside" that I just thought up and typed into blogger...I checked it for it again to make sure that I made sense then pressed publish...nuthin'

Just this freakin' red box telling me that I had an edit issue and to hit the back button which like an idiot I did...yeah, never follow the instructions people because that puppy was gone! I had like two paragraphs of a finely worded, witty post left...

*sigh* I just deleted it and moved on...but I did say something that I wanted to share, so here goes...

"Thank you everyone for your wonderful, sweet and very heartwarming anniversary wishes! Some brought tears to my eyes, some made me laugh and some just thrilled me but every last one made me happy! I hope that we have as many wonderful sewing journeys this year - yes, that's you and me...because even though this is my diary I appreciate it that you stop by so often to read about my passion and obsession!"

And I'll do the "Baby it's Cold Outside" post tomorrow...

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

Today is my third blogging anniversary. Believe it or not, I started out timidly in 2006, hoping that I wasn't doing this wrong...hoping that someone would come by and read what I had to say, and oogle at my pretty pictures! Hey I was just learning to work my digital camera!

I've made a couple of great friends...learned alot and shared many wonderful experiences with other sewists. Hundreds of kindred spirits visit here daily, leave interesting comments and generally just care about my ramblings on sewing and other things...

So thank you so much for coming by repeatedly, for having your say, for oohhhing and ahhhing over the pics of my garments and hopefully this will continue to be a wonderful experience for all of us!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A UFO Finished

Yesterday was my last day off...and after the trip to the hair salon...I finished up the final things that needed to be completed on my UFO. The last time I worked on this jacket was back in February 2008. I really got discouraged about the project and let it hang. But I have decided that I will finish up the UFOs and move this one was first!

Now, I was unable to resolve the problem with the sleeve caps which caused me to let the jacket hang around in the first place...and I have just decided it was a bad pattern draft and that they aren't fantastic, but its wearable. It's not like I would wear this jacket a lot but at least its complete and in the closet. So why didn't I just let it go?

Cause I love the silk charmeuse lining that I put into the jacket and I just didn't want to lose it. I guess I could have pulled it out and saved it for something else. But the jacket wasn't that far from being complete and it works so well with the Micheal Kors knock-off dress...

Please realize that I'm not encouraging you to wear poorly constructed garments especially when you know better *grin* but I know that very few people in my office will notice the sleeve caps. Gosh, the fabric is soooo dark that you can barely make out any of the just get an overall picture!

Some stats:

Jacket:Black/white pin dot tropical wool from Fashion Fabrics Club
Lining:Anna Sui beige silk print from Fabric Mart Fabrics

McCalls 2085 - This thing is going in the garbage! I can only say that I've done that once before but it's OOP, it doesn't serve a out it goes!!!

~ shoulder pads
~ 4 - 1.25 inch jeweled buttons from some very good friends who purchased these for me during their Chicago jaunt!

You can see more pics in my Flickr Album...I'm not thrilled with it but it's done!

I'm sure you're wondering if this is the project from h*ll! Nope, I created another mess while I was sewing that I was sure was gonna work...that didn't! *LOL* I think I have a solution to fix it and when it's fixed, I will share...because I just can't have another UFO!!!

Monday, January 05, 2009

This post has nothing to do with sewing

I don't know about anyone else but my hair is a pain in the *ss! I don't have time to spend hours in the salon getting it done...I've worn it cut short and natural for a few years...I've worn it cut short and curly for a few years but I always revert back to long, processed hair because I can manage a ponytail and still look professional.

When I moved back to Jersey from NY, I gave up on black hair salons. I just couldn't take it any more...even though I adored the girl who did my hair, I didn't want to spend an entire afternoon in the it was an afternoon of fun! (ahhhh, no!) And when I booked the first appointment in the morning I could end up waiting up to 30 minutes for her to show up...and she wanted a good tip for that! *sigh*

So once I came back to Jersey some women that I rode the bus with told me about the Dominicians who can do anyone's hair...and I have to admit that it was a relief not to need an appointment, to go to a shop that is open seven days a week, and that I never hear, "gurl, don't you want to cut that hair?" or "no one should have that much hair, it takes to dayum long to do!" Or my personal favorite, "I have to charge you $20 extra because you use extra...fill in the blank!" Ummm, this is already costing me my food bill so could you not insult me as you are doing my head and seriously, you want a "good" tip for your trouble too!

But there is one little thing about the Dominicians - everyone comes out looking the same...long, straight flowing hair...which is okay to a point! I mean I never have to tell my favorite stylist what to do. I sit down, she does her thing, she even knows which side to part it on, clips the edges when necessary, always deep conditions it without being asked and knows how I can't stand a really hot drier or blow dryer...but I look like everyone else when I rise up...

Today I went and had my hair's my favorite stylists day off but I didn't want to rearrange my time to be in the crowd with everyone else...did I mention that the salon is in the heart of Rutgers University's neighborhood and that it is packed with not only working women but students from the university, the high schools, etc. from Thursday morning to Sunday afternoons! There is more steam coming from that place than a steam bath!

I digress...I used someone else today...and she just knocked my favorite stylist out of the box! You may not be able to tell from this picture but I have long, straight hair that ends in soft curls and she sent me home with instructions on how to maintain it.

This is what I usually look like after a trip to the salon:

And this is how I look this afternoon - a little softer, a little bouncier...a lot happier!

Okay, I will post sewing updates later...I just needed to share! *LOL* Cause someone out there knows my pain!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

A few things...

Yes, I'm still sewing but as usual when sewing my mind is whirling...

1. I would love to sponsor a TNT patterns contest. Where everyone took one TNT pattern and used it at least 3x in three different ways and then we voted for best use of a pattern. After the experience of working with a TNT pattern in such an intense manner, I think I could convert 90% of you to using them more! *LOL*

2. Els asked why I sewed the buttons on the chilly day outfit the way that I did? Ummm, cause I liked it that way! *LOL* But isn't it funny how a person's comment or observation (especially one made by someone you admire) causes you to rethink or look at something you did differently?

ETA: Ummm, I didn't think that Els was criticizing my buttons at all! I was reflecting on the fact that she pointed something out that I hadn't seen...if I gave the impression that I thought I was being criticized or critiqued that was NOT what I meant to convey!!!!

3. You know I don't think I sew very well...okay, I'm not putting this out there for affirmation...this was just one of my thoughts while I was making the TNT pants pattern. I think I have more passion for the art than skill. I can sometimes be a very sloppy sewist and then at other times I'm all about the correct way to accomplish the same sewing task...

4. I really, really, really don't need another piece of fabric! I truly need to get a grip on this one...yeah, I know y'all are tired of hearing that one from me! *LOL*

5. I am getting a new sewing machine and serger this year...I will be 50 this year and this will be my present to myself...a TOL sewing machine and serger so that I don't have to get the magnifying glass out or call my daughter in to thread the needle of the serger when its late at night!

Okay now that I've had a sewing break, I'm headed back in...but can you also tell me why on earth I have managed to take a very simple sewing project and turn into the project from h*ll! Yeah more on that later!!!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

A Chilly Day Outfit - Part 2

The backstory:

The second part of this outfit is a pair of pants from my TNT pants pattern. I know that many sewists try out several different patterns for pants, but since I've perfected a pants pattern that works, I just use it over and over again. I guess I should be more experimental but I want to have and wear the actual pants more than I want to experience fitting pants patterns over and me quirky like that!

Although, this particular pair of pants is made a little differently from previously made pants because I have been experiencing a lot of "lining failure" recently. And it doesn't seem to matter what type of lining I'm using, whether it's cheap or expensive, the amount of walking and moving around that I do is causing the fibers to fail...shred...fall apart! I even tried interfacing the inner thigh of the lining but it stiffens the lining in a way that I don't like...and the lining shredded around the interfaced section.

So I remembered Lauralo's post on a new way to underline pants and I thought I would try it. Of course, I shortcutted it...*sigh*...didn't I just post that I would take my time... But, I thought that I would just serge the lining to the fashion fabrics and treat both as one especially since I want to use this as my trial pair against lining failure.

I do have a pair of ivory microfiber pants that I treated in this manner and I haven't had any problems with the lining. I think I'm experiencing lining failure because the two fabrics are rubbing against each other, not working if this works...I will take the time to use the proper method to underline.

Okay, some stats:

2.5 yards of rayon/wool crepe blend from Fabric Mart

seam tape

TNT pants pattern

No interesting construction techniques...this is a fall back pattern...guaranteed to work in all fabrications...and even though I have it in several leg widths, I used the smaller leg width for these because both jackets are loose fitting. I say jackets because it works with the Fleece Jacket as well as the Coldwater Creek jacket. I love when that happens...more options for wearing!

Next up...a dress and a cardigan! I will do a photo shoot once the sewing weekend is over...right now I primed and ready to sew and don't want to take the time to do hair, make-up and get dressed...*LOL*

Friday, January 02, 2009

A Chilly Day Outfit - Part 1

This is my first project for 2009 because on Monday mornings it is really cold in my office. It's because I sit in front of 2 very large windows and the cold air seems to just flow in...or maybe its because I work in a very tall building and the building across the street is just as tall so the two form those NYC canyons that seem to harbor cold and/or heat? Whatever the cause, its cold by my desk on Monday mornings.

The second reason this is my first project is because this is a quicker project than a normal Carolyn project...especially since I'm still easing my way back into my overly obsessed, planned to the ninth degree, all encompassing sewing.

So a few stats:

(This is the same jacket pattern I used for the Jackie O. Retro suit and the Coldwater Creek jacket.)

Brushed herringbone fleece from Fabric Fixx in New Hampshire

4 yards of beige foldover braid
5 - 1" buttons
a pair of 3/4" shoulder pads
2 yards of 2.25" grosgrain ribbon

Machine Settings
Size 90 Universal sewing machine needle
Stitch Length: 3

Some interesting construction details:

First the jacket back pattern piece was cut on the fold instead of with a center back seam which is how I normally construct the jacket.

The sleeves have a seam down the center but that wasn't my original intent. When I first planned the jacket, I was going to use the whole sleeve pattern and place it on the bias. I was hoping for some decorative interest and a little additional stretch in the body of the sleeve. However, due to a nasty cutting incident that I am still to traumatized to speak about...*sigh*...the sleeves had to be cut out in pieces and then sewn together before inserting into the jacket.

I also added two inches to the body of the jacket fronts and back because I wanted the warmth. What do I mean? Normally, this is a shorter jacket - see here - and since I plan on wearing this jacket over a pair of pants, I wanted it to cover my behind a little more - for warmth! *smile*

I also basted on grosgrain ribbon facings to the jacket front before sewing down the foldover braid trim. I went through several buttonhole applications in my mind but I didn't want to overly complicate the construction process. By adding the ribbon facings, I could make regular sewing machine buttonholes without having any issues with them sinking into the fleece.

The foldover braid was added to the flat sleeve hems before the sleeves were stitched into the jacket. I cut 1.5" off the hem area so that the sleeves wouldn't be too long. Also the sleeves were sewn in flat, not in the round, in the jacket. I was concerned about easing the fleece into a circle...I wasn't sure that it would ease well without I used a flat construction. This worked very well. The final thing I did to the sleeve seams was to trim them from notch to notch on the underarm seam to relieve some of the excess bulk in that area.

After sewing up the side seams and pressing them flat, I pinned the foldover braid to the entire jacket...fronts, back and hemline area. After insuring that it was pinned on properly & securely, I slowly sewed the entire binding down using my sewing machine.

A few hints:

~Most books tell you NOT to press fleece because it burns. I have never been able to get seams to lay flat with finger pressing so I've developed a technique where I press seams lightly using a silk organza pressing cloth, with the iron on a silk setting. Very little pressure and quick presses followed by the clapper sitting on the seams works for me. This can be a little time consuming but I've never burned a piece of fleece since I started using this method.

~The foldover braid was applied flat on the sleeves with a 1/2" of overlap left. When I sewed up the sleeve the unfinished edge of the braid was left. I folded it under and added a few hand stitches and it neatened the braid up nicely.

~The buttons were sewn on using a brown embroidery floss to give a little interest to the buttons. Since it's thicker than regular thread I only had to make 2 passes through the holes and made a great thread shank on the buttons underside.

I'm off to work on the pants to go with the jacket. I have several vanilla colored turtlenecks (both sleeveless and long sleeved) that can be worn with this outfit so I won't be making a top to complete this outfit.

Part 2 tomorrow!


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