Sunday, January 08, 2012

Bits and Pieces from the Sewing Cave

These are just some thoughts that rambled through my brain as I sewed these last few days:

1.  I am enamored of my straight stitch foot.  I put it on to sew the Christening Gown and haven't taken it off my sewing machine since it gives me such control over my stitching.  I usually use my wide/zig-zag foot but lately this one has been working so well for me.  So how about you? What is your favorite sewing foot?

2.  I'm sewing along and I notice that something isn't right with my's ruffling the edges.  At first I think it's the fabric because it is kinda loosey goosey but then after further inspection I realize that one of the settings has been changed on it.  I've also done this with my sewing machine and was wondering if this happens to anyone else?

3.  I love the fact that I can walk around my sewing table now.  In my old apartment one main section was pushed up against a wall.  In my new sewing room only one of the smaller sides is pushed up against the bins.  It is pretty awesome to walk around all three sides of the table.

4.  Am I the only one that has such a feeling of calm and peacefulness when they spend considerable time in their sewing room?  I love how those feelings balance out the hecticness of my life.

5.  The front of me is bigger than the back of me so now I use a larger front piece to make my dresses and skirts fit.  Does anyone else do that?  Or am I the only one cheating like that!

6.  Sometimes I think I'm the only one that uses my TNT so extensively.  I read other blogs or the sewing boards and people sew from patterns and I tend to sew from designs.  I see a picture or a woman wearing something and I think I can make that.  My first step use to be to find a pattern for the look.  Lately my thought is to chop up my TNT patterns.  It just makes me feel a little different and strange because it seems like everyone else can achieve those looks from patterns.  Am I lazy?  Do I have more imagination?  Or are others just better at using and fitting patterns than I am?  It makes me wonder...

7.  I wish I sewed better!  Seriously, I wish I was one of those sewists that did everything right and made these amazing garments because sometimes I feel like a rank amateur...*sigh*

8.  Someone asked me in one of the earlier posts on my sewing room if I could tell them how I liked the floor after having living in my sewing room for a minute.  Well I can tell you that the floor is no colder than any other and with the heater it is very comfortable.  I love being able to sweep up scraps and pins so easily.

9.  Which brings me to the fact that I love my sewing room/cave!  I love having a dedicated place to sew.  It has everything I need to make me happy creatively...and as soon as I get the fabric & books situated it will be perfect...well perfect to me!

10.  Denise, the owner of The Blue Gardenia Vintage Pattern Site is having a sale.  The details are below:

Take the left turn at ABQ and save, save, save on lovely patterns!

You're wondering— I know you are — about our annual end-of-year sale. The bad news: We didn't have it. We were in Prescott packing. We were. Box after box.
There is good news: The Blue Gardenia is having a Take the Left Turn at Albuquerque sale instead. So here's the scoop:
Buy 3 or more patterns, get 35% off your total sale!
Sale prices good now through
11:59 p.m. PST Sunday, January 15, 2012
Payment must be received by Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Shop Early for Best Selection!
Happy New Year!

...I'm working on finishing up my Lavender & Gray Skies jacket, I think my solution is working, which is making me happy... always, more later!


  1. I love a dedicated sewing place, once am in mine, I have a feeling of peace. I sometime cut my back pattern bigger than the front. Sincerely if you call yourself an amateur then I have no rating lol.... I love TNT as well my kwik sew pant pattern is the only one have made for more than 5 times and am not giving up on it bcos it's the only pattern than fits so well . You are an amazing sewer and i enjoy reading your blog

  2. I can contribute here:
    1. I like having the variety of feet available now. I love the little accessory box with all the feet lined up so I can pick which one I will use.
    2. I do a variety of sewing - quilting, applique etc so I change my tensions constantly but quite often forget to change it back again. Uh Oh! The good thing is...I do it quite often so I go straight to the tension dial if it doesn't look right.
    4. My sewing room is my salvation. I reckon I'd be in the funny farm by now if I didn't have it.
    5. No, I don't use different sizes for front/back, I'm equally generous in proportions no matter what angle you see me! Wouldn't hesitate to do that though if I needed to.
    6. I haven't had favourite TNTs but it makes sense. All that time spent getting the fit just right. Surely we should all be utilising that time by using our patterns more than once?
    7. Me too. Just when I think I am just too clever for words along comes a wadder that quickly brings me back to earth. I like to think it keeps me grounded.
    9. I love mine too. It suits me perfectly.....not always the tidiest, certainly not all that well organised (but I know where most things are)and I feel blessed to have it.
    I might just amble down there now and have a play.

  3. Seriously, we have so much in common: I feel calm in the sewing cave, I sometimes cut a larger front piece than back piece, I wish I sewed better (especially when I see other sewists who manage to make the interiors of their garments as stunning as the outsides).

    BTW, I think your serger differential feed may have been moved from the N setting (you have the Babylock, right?) to one of the others. That's what produces the lettuce hem.

  4. I found your blog a couple of days ago and haven't stop checking out all the information yet.
    I'll start by saying I am a quilt designer and quilt maker. I design and make quilts as art and sometimes as gifts. I also donate to unwed mothers.
    I could say that I hate sewing clothes, that is until I ran across your blog. You see, I went and purchased denim for a few skirts and then found your blog which has encouraged me to make more than a couple of skirts , but some other pieces. Thanks for the encouragement. I , by no means is giving up my quilting, but adding the clothing making back to my things to do.

  5. yes, indeedy, that calm and peaceful feeling is a very important part of sewing for me, too. I have had so many things preventing me from sewing lately and I sure do miss my sewing time.
    Fingers crossed that I don't have as many chores and obligations next weekend.
    And yes, I am bigger in the front than in the back, too.
    Personally, I can't wait to have a good TNT dress pattern to sew over and over. I will never be one of those people who sews from different patterns all the time. The fitting is too time consuming.

  6. I think it's great to use your TNT patterns over and over. That said, like you, I sometimes feel like noone else does. The other side of midnight is that using your TNTs brings out the best of creativity and is way more efficient than having to go through all the fitting issues of a new pattern. Your creativity inspires me to push the envelope on my TNTs quite often. Cheers!

  7. I spent most of my weekend sewing and it made me super happy, so I know what you mean about dedicated time in your sewing room = happiness. I even got a little pissed at my boyfriend when he wanted to spend time togehter! lol

  8. I think you're smart, smart, smart for using TNT patterns to make your own fashions. I do it too because it's such a chore to use a new pattern, alter it to fit, muslin it to see if the alterations work, and then make it up. So much easier to copy, chop, add S/A and the sew up a garment you know is going to fit. I'm very glad I found a replacement for my missing TNT t-shirt pattern. I'm really looking forward to finding a woven blouse pattern that I can use as a TNT to make blouses, dresses, and tops.

  9. I forgot to mention that the front of me is bigger than the back as well but with a FBA, the front grows and fixes the problem so I don't use a larger front size. Just using a larger size wouldn't necessarily give me the bust room I need.

  10. I have to agree with all you said.

    My (dedicated) sewing room is my sanctuary away from my two dear little monkies! As soon as I step inside I can feel myself unwind.

    Even though I'm petite, I find I need to cut the front a little wider than the back!

    I really have to say, I've always admired how you can see a picture and translate it into a real garment with your TNT pattern. I'd LOVE to be able to do that. The idea of buying patterns for every garment always makes me hesitate as I know I'll have to do major alterations and possibly several muslins. Having a TNT pattern makes SO MUCH sense, as there would be far less work. I guess this should be my #1 goal for the year!! To come up with a TNT pattern for the basics.

    Thanks for all you write, I *always* look forward to your posts.

  11. Most of my sewing is done with an open toed embroidery foot.

    On my previous machine, the settings neutralized every time you turned the machine off. VERY annoying. This one is manual and mostly stays put. I prefer that.

    I have a work island in my studio that's counter height with one short end against the wall and three open. I can't imagine working without it.

    The majority of my time is spent in my studio. It's my go to space where I think and process and create and just be. LOVE it.

    The back of me is wider than the front of me. Often it's easier to use two sizes of patterns.

    LOVE your TNT's. I can't imagine you abandoning them. They're so full of potential, and incredibly inspirational. YES YES. I'm envious in a good - develop my own - kind of way. They work for you and you work well with them.

    At the same time as I wish I could sew better, I also want to give up on non me things like tailoring or Hong Kong finishing each seam. It's beautiful and not me. My goal would be to do what I do to the best of my ability and grow in areas of interest. It seems to me that we always need an area to aim higher in.

  12. Sewing is a stress reliever for me. When things are crazy and I don't have time, I sew. It probably doesn't really help but I end up getting through everything just fine.
    Now if I could just get my studio organized so I could actually sew in there! I've pulled my machine out and set it on the dining table. Hmmm...

  13. I love your use of you TNT pattern! That is something I'd like to do more of this year, though my only TNT pattern is a knockoff of a strapless Alfred Shaheen design that I drape so it's a bit limiting. I think some people are afraid of pattern alteration or are fortunate to fit within a purchased patterns parameters. I should develop TNT patterns because as a plus size person I need a lot of alterations, except with Colette Patterns. I am currently working on developing slopers so that I will be able to better adjust my vintage patterns. I also think it's harder for some people to see how their TNT pattern can be reworked into a designer style.

  14. I know what you mean about the settings magically changing. I've learnt the hard way to check every time before I start to sew.

    I must get a straight stitch foot. They sound great.

  15. I usually sew a larger size in the back below the waist! So you are not alone in mixing front/back sizes.
    Glad to hear you have a solution to your jacket. The colour is so pretty, I really want to see it finished.
    I can only dream of a dedicated sewing room. Maybe someday!

  16. I am not a blogger but I increasingly sew by simply adding the new features I have seen to a pattern I know fits. For example, I have four A-line skirts, all from the same basic pattern, but with very diferent details. Nobody realizes they are the same! In fact I almost never make something once, unless it's a wadder of course. At the very least I lay the the old and the new over each other to hurry up the process of alteration.

    I love my evenfeed foot because it tackles knits where all else fails.

    And sewing and knitting both keep me calm but my sewing room is a bit gloomy and needs a revamp, IMO.

  17. Yes! My sewing room is my refuge. Even if I'm not sewing, I like puttering around in there, organizing, or just even reading. I'm developing a set of TNT patterns--top, jacket, skirt, dress, pants--so I can totally restyle my wardrobe. You have been an inspiration. Thank you for all the work you do on your blog--I look forward to reading it every day.

  18. 1. I love having a dedicated sewing space. If something goes missing, it can only be found in that one place!
    2. I *love* my walking foot. The walking foot stays on one sewing machine permanently. It makes sewing slippery fabrics, knits, denim, wool, ANYTHING, so much easier!
    3. I measure 25" across the front and 17" across the back, so yeah, I cut a smaller size on the back! You are definitely not the only one.

  19. LOL-well you DID ask, so...
    1. My mother loaned me her Viking machine indefnitely, and I am in love with the teflon foot!
    2. Happens a lot, I have two cats that like to rub on whatever I'm near, so I always check first.
    sigh...can't remember the rest of the numbers so I'm gonna wing it here.
    I have been known to add only to the front, because I have the same problem-there's more of me on the front. From the back I look absolutely of average size, but I have a big tummy and a shelf up top.
    If I had a TNT I would use only that and just make design changes to it-once you've go the fit on one just absolutely perfect, why mess around?
    I also wish I were a better sewist-people always tell me that I do amazing work, but you know, I see all the little flaws.
    I love my sewing cave-it's the smallest room in the house but it's mine. It does technically serve as a guest room but we rarely have overnight guests so most of the time it only belongs to me. I have a big overstuffed chair, an ottoman my hubby made me that I upholstered, flowery curtains, a soft terra cotta wall paint, botanical pressings on the wall, my favorite artwork-it is MY room.

    In closing, let me jsut add-YOU, my dear, have brought me back to garment sewing. So did Gig, but your body type is more like mine than hers, your clothes give me a better sense of what will and won't work for me, and your demonstrations of alterations for that have been wonderful inspiration for me to really work at making things work. THANK YOU. Thank you thank you thank you. Thank you for sharing your talent, thank you for sharing your mistakes, thank you for sharing your frustrations, just...thank you.

  20. i dont use patterns eather, i used to buy some, spent time fitting them to my size to end up disapointed by the look. So i bought an amazing book on how to make your own patterns and now i can design and sew for myself amlost any clothes i see in stores or on line, it's so much fun trying to understand how to make the pattern right and i love wearing designer clothes for 20€ !

  21. I'm happy you're settled into your new room. Now regarding your questions -
    2. yes I have. I wish it were just the sewing machine and serger though.
    5. I would not call it cheating.
    6. I am in awe of your TNT use. No, you're not lazy, you've realized that most patterns are tweaks of a few basic patterns. Or use of fabric and trims.
    7. I hear you on that. Just remember that you have a quite a few readers who stop by your blog and wish they sew as well as you do, myself included.
    9. It is nice. Even if it's not a whole room, a spot where you don't have to constantly put things aside is great.

  22. 3. LOVE LOVE LOVE having a table I can walk around enough to get to the fabric from the other side.

    4. My sewing "studio" is my favorite place to be. I'm not alone as I can hear my husband in the other room but I have my own space.

    6. I haven't been sewing clothes for myself long enough to develop TNT patterns, on top of which I use pattern drafting software (Wild Ginger's PatternMaster) and am still trying out different styles.

    7. I'm sure most of us wish we sewed better. This weekend I was learning about sewing princess seams. It's a process.

    I'm impressed to hear that you've figured out a way to rescue your project. I look forward to seeing what you came up with!

  23. Can't remember all the numbers, so I'll comment in the order it occurs:

    a. I love the straight stitch foot for most of my sewing. My second machine only has a zigzag foot, but I mostly use it for zigzagging, so that's okay.
    b. I'm currently having tension challenges on both machines. The one probably has an actual issue with the tension apparatus. I think the other may be too much cotton C&C thread, but time will tell as I switch to other brands and poly.
    c. I have moments of calm and peacefulness when I sew, but still have a bit of anxiety over so much 'me' time. I'm working on getting over that :)
    d. I think having a TNT pattern from which you can spring to whatever you want is brilliant. I don't, but I'm still learning both to sew and even what a TNT might be for me.
    e. Using different sizes for front and back is just plain smart. It was such a revelation to me when I first heard it.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and asking for ours!

  24. I thank you for the report on your new floor. I'll keep that in mind when I get around to redoing the flooring in my space.
    I truly believe that sewing is better than therapy (and much more productive!). Spending time in a space (both literally and figuratively) that makes us happy is definitely time well spent.

  25. Your blog always gives me so many things to think about. I'm lucky to have a whole room dedicated to sewing and find it brings me much peace as well as creativity. And, yes, I totally believe in having TNTs. They guarantee success and are easy to adapt and change to new designs. Thanks for validating my extensive use of them!

  26. I my sewing room. I am in there every single morning and every single evening. Not sure sewing room is the best name for it, it's also my crafting spot. It also serves as my dressing room (I gave up the bedroom closet for the one in the sewing room), exercise (when I'm too lazy to go down stairs) and houses a vintage recliner that allows me to just sit back, relax, daydream, read...well you get the picture.

    1. My favorite is my walking foot;
    2. My serger settings tend be off and thinking it happens when I am rethreading the machine.
    3. I have a few tnts and hoping to expand on them for 2012. Right now I enjoy being able to work up a tnt in diferent fabrics.

  27. I love having a dedicated sewing space to. I sometimes use to fronts of pants patterns for my skinny grandkids with no fannies. I works great. Sewing almost always makes me happy. I love to sew whatever I want and don't like to feel like I have to sew something. Don't like deadlines. I don't use all the fancy feet I own for my sewing machine much. But I enjoy having them when I do feel the need. Glad you are enjoying your sewing cave.

  28. As to #7- I think you have wonderful skills. I am a "bodacious" woman & I love the way you interpret patterns & styles and use your tried & true patterns. You, my friend are no rank amateur!

  29. Some more thoughts to add to the pile:

    1. Favorite foot is probably the walking food. I get lovely seams for pants and long dresses that would get all bunched if I used the regular zig-zag foot.

    2. Usually I forget to change the stitch length back to normal on my sewing machine after I used it to baste or gather.

    3. My sewing tables have always backed to the wall, but I can totally see how a walk around table would be fabulous. Maybe something to think about for my far away sewing room of the future.

    4. I usually feel pretty calm while sewing (until something goes wrong). I too have recently had to move my sewing space (apartment neighbors complained of the noise, so now the machines live with my parents and I visit a lot), so I don't have the calm sewing room atmosphere like I used to (I have carved out a niche in the junk corner), but I am hoping to eventually be able to have all my books and supplies somewhat organized and on hand. I think once things are more fully straightened out I will feel a bit more at peace.

    5. Typically I use the same size around, but I do use different sizes on the top and bottom. I might consider this trick in the future though when I am sewing for others.

    6. I have been sewing for only 2.5 years, so I don't have a lot of TNT patterns as of yet. I am still exploring to find my ultimate pants, jacket, skirt, and dress. I do have a TNT skating costume pattern which I have used 20 times at least (if not more), and all of my costumes look pretty different. Right now I feel like I am on a journey to find TNTs and I really like testing out new things and experimenting. And, actually, I really like to try new patterns and make adjustments because I feel like I am learning a lot. Eventually I would like to have a bunch of TNTs to use for RTW garment copying, but at the moment I am enjoying testing out new things.

    7. I think your sewing is lovely! I think I am sometimes too ambitious or adventurous and I need to focus more on technique. I still feel like a beginner even though I have made complicated things like coats and jackets. Sometimes things work out and sometimes they don't, but I think as long as we can all learn from the experience then it really doesn't matter what level we are considered because we are improving.

    8. I would love to sew on a non-carpeted floor. Fibers from projects years gone are buried in my carpet.

    9. I now have two sewing spaces - one for actual sewing and one for fabric storage, pattern making, and fabric cutting. Adjustment has been somewhat difficult, but all in all it is working out ok. I would dearly love to have all of my fabric and supplies in one place again though. Maybe sometime in the future...

  30. I don't often get to spend uninterrupted hours sewing. But when I do …… oh boy!

    I often wish I could walk around my cutting table! If I took over DDs bedroom, I could! Hmmmmm …

  31. #6 - Actually, this is why I follow your sewing! You see something on the runway/street/snoop shopping and then find a way to make it in a way that is so flattering to you. I hope to have the combination of skill and creativity for this kind of sewing some day!

    #7 - Oh geez. If you're a rank amateur there's simply no hope for the rest of us schlubs. LOL

    Oh, and on that note, the only time I am calm and at peace is on that rare sewing adventure when my seam ripper stays in it's drawer.

  32. My favorite foot is the zig-zag foot.
    My bobbin tension seems to change by its self.
    Sewing and needlework keep me sane.
    I have used a larger piece in back when making skirts.
    No, TNT patterns here.
    Carolyn, you are a great sewer!

  33. You sound very happy in your sewing room. I love my sewing room, as does DH. TNTs are great so don't ditch them. They're great when you're in a rush.
    I'm working away from home and it's now my second sewing room too. Cheers.

  34. Carolyn. You have inspired me to sew again, but so far, I am buying patterns and fabric. I have some of the lavender wool jersey from fabric mart if you decide you need it, email me at I have 2 or 3 yards

  35. Hey Carolyn! Just wanted to pop over and let you know that you are NOT the only one with the bigger front & therefore bigger front pattern piece issue. I do it ALL the time! Pretty much every thing I make has to have a considerably larger front than back to fit even reasonably well. I used to try to keep the proportions the same Front/Back as the original pattern, and then I realized that I was consistently taking out a good 6ish inches from the back. No more of that! Why take the time to add it in to a pattern only to turn around and take it out in fabric?! Silly! Also, I envy your TNT pattern! I don't have one yet that really works for me. So rock it girl!! As always, love your blog and the awesome creative pieces you sew!!

  36. 1) I haven't used a straight stitch foot in years. i don't think I even own one for my 830E Do you think it improves your control of the machine measurably?

    2) My first thought on the serger issue is that you've accidentally moved your differential feed one way or another. Experiment with different settings and choose the one that gives you the desired outcome for your fabric.

    3) having a sewing table opened my sewing world. I 100% agree it is wonderful to be able to move around it. now if I could only keep it clear of junk.

    4) I love being in my sewing room. Before Christmas I had to go into the living room to press, now I have a small pressing board right next to my sewing room. I have a large screen computer and some great speakers that I plug my iPad/iPhone into while I'm sewing... I listen to pandora, or music or msnbc.

    5) When I use PMB or commercial patterns, it seems the back is bigger. As it is, I have to lift the waistline on pants in the back... so for me, that would be a no.

    6) Your creations looks so good on you and you have such a variety, that if you didn't share your process with us, I'd never know you used TNT patterns. I guess I don't because I'm not secure in my skills. Also I have zillions of patterns I want to try and use.

    7) I can't imagine you are not satisfied with your sewing skills. Your creations are awesome. I do know the feeling of wishing my skills were sharper. I have to rip a fair amount and I've looked at some of my seaming and have not been happy.

  37. I can so relate to your comment about calm and peacefullness, I have learned its the only way to start my day. As a mother of many getting through the day can be a challenge with all that I have to do and then I would dream about getting to my sewing room because it was all I wanted to do but most of the time it didn't happen and just have this emptiness inside like I'm not doing for me. So recently I start my day in my sewing room for about 2 hours and it has made such a difference I'm now getting me time and also I such a sense of peace and have that me time at the beginning of the day I'm so able to get out and get my work done with family, its amazing for me. Sorry for the blog post sized comment. Seriously if your an amateur than I have a loooong way to go before I even reach beginner. Reading your blog has made me want and work on having some great TnTs in my stash. Keep up the writing I really enjoy your sewing adventures.


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