Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Sewing Machine Question...

Marjie asked this question:
"I need a new machine, and the lady I work with here is highly recommending Janome. Have you any words of wisdom for me?"

Marjie, I hope you don't mind that I turned this into a post but I think every blogger faces the sewing machine question sooner or later, so let's talk about it. Personally I love Janome machines.  In my sewing history, remember I've been sewing since I was 11, I've sewn on a Sears (starter machine), a Singer (purchased in college - a middle of the line machine) a Brother (lower end machine purchased from JCPenney's when I first got married), a used Viking (bought when my DDs were small and I sewed almost everything for them) and finally the Janome 8000 (also bought used) and now the Janome 6600.

What do I love about my Janome?  The stitching, the way it handles, the up/down feature, the extra high lift of the foot, the snap on feet...I could go on...but I truly believe that each sewist develops an affinity for a sewing machine line. That's why there are sewists who swear by Bernina, Pfaff, Singer or Husquverna Viking machines. It's how the machine works for each sewist especially since these days there seems to be only two or three manufacturers of sewing machines instead of the many different manufacturers back when I learned to sew.

So my actual advice to you is if you are able to, go to a sewing machine store and sew on the machines. Don't use the flimsy pieces of fabric that the sewing machine store provides, bring some of your own swatches and sit down and put the sewing machine through it's paces.  Try out the stitches, see how easy it is to thread...does it have enough light for you to see...can you work it easily or do you constantly need to refer to the manual...or does it just feel weird to sit in front of and use or do you feel like you're home in front of it?

Before you go to try out a machine, do your homework.  Know exactly what features you want in a machine.  Do you want embroidery?  Do you want an automatic cutter?  Do you need embroidery or 150 stitches?  Do you want computerized or mechanical?  Or are you a vintage sewing machine woman?

Finally, what did you love about your old machine? Make sure that any potential new machine makes you feel the same way you presently feel when you sit in front of it or you will never use it.

I know that I didn't exactly tell you to go out and buy a Janome but that's because I believe that each sewist needs to figure out which sewing machine works for them.  Just like each driver figures out what car works for them.  You are going to spend a lot of time with this purchase, so it should be comfortable and do the things you need it to do especially if you are going to part with a lot of money for it.

Now I know that I haven't even discussed dealerships and repairs 'cause that's a whole nuther can of worms.  All I can say is take friends recommendations, your desires, the things you love about your present machine, a couple of fabric swatches and go out and test drive some machines. I would love to know what you finally decide upon...because I'm a Janome girl...but the person who gifted me with my baby...just didn't like using my beloved!

If you have any other words of wisdom, please be sure to leave them in the comments.  I don't want to give the impression that I'm the end all, be all of sewing machine buying.  I know which line works for me.  How much I love my machine and how it makes me feel as if I can create anything while sitting in front of it. always, more later!


Monday, March 26, 2012

Now for the Surprise...

Every time I go through the collection, I end up with a few pieces that I wonder why or just don't want anymore.  This time I came up with seven pieces that didn't go on the shelves and didn't go home with my daughter.  Instead, I'm going to share them here with you.

This is how it will work.  You can leave a comment saying which one piece you want between now and Saturday, March 31st at 11:59pm EST.  On Sunday, April 1st, I will pull the names of the seven winners and post them here.  It will then be your responsibility to leave a comment with your email address by Tuesday, April 3, 2012 at 11:59pm EST.  If you don't leave a message, I will pull another name and offer it to them.

Here's the catch.  This time I'm only shipping to the US and Canada.  I will pay postage because I'm shipping in those postal boxes that if it fits, it ships.  

The pieces available to own are:

(1) 2 yds of 60" wide
Stretch cotton border print from FM

(2) 5 yds of 60" wide
Linen Novelty heavyweight from FM

 Close-up of above fabric

(3) 2.25 yds of 45" wide wool blend knit

Close up of above fabric

(4) 2.5 yds of 60" wide wool boucle from FM

(5) 3 yds of 60" wide ivory polyester brocade

(6) 4 yds of 60" wide black/white cotton blend knit

(7) 5 yds of 60" wide blue boucle 
suiting from

Now, I said that I was going to sew today...well that didn't happen. I don't know if it's because I decided last Friday that I wasn't going to sweat sewing this weekend or if after running errands and picking up my dry cleaning today I still wasn't inspired to sew.  But for whatever reason, no sewing occurred today.  

However, I did come up with a kewl way to get dust covers for my fabric without having to sew anything.  Originally I had a white shower curtain on the bookshelf across from the computer.  So when I located another one shoved way in the back of the linen closet, I used it along with the first shower curtain as dust coverings for the fabric shelves.  Adding an old set of shower curtain hooks and I was set. Coordinating dust coverings for the shelves without a lot of work and/or effort!

Shower curtains covering the fabric

Close up of the shower curtain hooks

Wall of fabric with the curtains pulled back

I'm gonna luxuriate in my refreshed sewing room for the rest of the evening, since I have to work tomorrow. always, more later!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Sewing Room Refreshed

Please note that I didn't say final!  There are a still a few more things that I want to do to the room but they are small things and of course involve more purchasing...*sigh*

Full view of the room from the doorway

Shelf to the right of the fabric wall

Computer wall and inspiration board

Lulu by the 
fabric wall

TV & bookshelf by the window

Bookcase across from
the computer table

Patterns, pressing items
by the front door

Ikea piece next to computer table

The sewing pictures hanging up
(Thanks Hellene!)

Sewing machine & serger table

*I want to add some storage behind the sewing machine/serger to store some notions so that they are neat and out of sight...not bunched up and junky like in the picture above.  

*Add some clear storage boxes to the bottom shelves of the fabric shelves, just in case of flooding.  This is something that I'm doing to all the shelving in the room.  I would rather be prepared than have to worry about this later on especially since this is a basement sewing room.

*A shelf on the wall, up by the ceiling, on the computer and sewing machine walls to store magazines and other items.  I just want to maximize the storing capability in the room.

*Curtains for the windows made from the same fabric that the curtains for the fabric shelves have for a finished look to the room.

satiny olive polyester purchased from FM years ago

There were some questions on the posts:
Melody asked:
"If I was planning on securing the shelves to the wall for safety?"
The shelves have been tied together but no I didn't secure them to the wall. It's a basement room that my grandchildren don't have access to and if the shelves fall over while I'm upstairs, well naturally I would be upset. But I guess I would just start all over again...hopefully that won't happen!

Toy asked:
"Are you going to do it by color?"
Yes it is sorted by color except for the shelf with the fabric prints. I know that some people like their fabric stored by seasons or fabrications, but I think in colors and I've found that storing it that way works for me.

Debbie asked:
"How do I prevent permanent wrinkling/fold lines in the pieces at the bottom of the stack?"
One thing is that all of my fabric has been folded and refolded several times in the last few months. Second, all fabrics are pretreated before using and so far I haven't had a problem removing fold lines. Let's hope this holds true! *smile* And yes, I have a few pieces that are at least 25 years old in the collection but they are very few.

Judi asked about which sewing machines I use:
The Project Runway Brother machine that you are referring to from an earlier post was purchased as a back-up machine for my Janome 8000. Then I was gifted the Janome Memory Craft 6600 which I'm currently sewing on and my daughter needed/wanted my Brother so I passed it along. My primary machine is the 6600, my backup machine is the 8000 and my serger is the Babylock Imagine.  I'm still toying with purchasing the Janome Horizon (which the website is saying is retired???) Guess I need to be a little more proactive about that...yeah, right after that bathroom is repaired!

I'm almost sure that someone asked what shelving I used...these shelves were purchased from Lowes in two sizes. Two of the larger 74" high and one of the 54" high version. These match the shelving already in the room and added to giving it a cohesive look.

And a comment or two...
Both Teddylyn and Aunt Allyn commented on moving and setting up new sewing areas, first congratulations on moving! Next, even though I planned out the sewing cave before moving in, after working in it for a couple of months, I found some things lacking. Around December I started rethinking the usage of space in the room since I was actually sewing in it and could determine what worked and what didn't. That was when I really noticed that the bins where a temporary solution and that they made the room feel dark and closed in. So they had to go. My advice to you is to sew in your room first to determine whether or not your inital plan works for you. You may need to revise it.  

Finally, plan, plan,'s what made this weekend go so smoothly. I knew what I wanted because for months I'd been looking at sewing rooms on the internet to determine what additional features I wanted/needed for my room.  There are alot of beautiful sewing rooms out there! I'm really in awe of some of them especially the ones that have wonderful windows and are light & airy, filled with lots of storage space. I found that I was most attracted to the quilters rooms because they openly display their fabrics.

Then there was Shannon's (Hungry Zombie Couture) beautiful new sewing space, specifically her fabric closet that also heavily influenced me. She has written two great posts about her fabric closet, the initial one and a follow-up one on how she folded her fabric. For a minute I was so blinded by her fabric organizational skillz that I even attempted to track my fabric. That has gone by the wayside, because like some of the commenters said I just don't have time to invest in keeping track manually of my fabric collection...but I am still in awe of her organizational skillz...mine just aren't that evolved! *smile*

Lastly, I'm glad that I was able to help every fellow sewist who got to show her husband/significant other that there are others that have way more fabric than they do. But I have to tell you that I thought I had more fabric than I actually do. I'm surprised that I've gotten it all onto the shelves with only five additional bins remaining and those bins contain my ponte collection and two are full of sweater knit/coating fabrics then a bin of green fabrics and another of blue fabrics.  The deep stash as Karen calls it! 

You may have noticed that there isn't much space on the shelves left for me to grow the collection. This is on purpose.  I'm not saying that I'm never purchasing another piece of fabric, cause that's just unrealistic! But I do want to sew almost exclusively from "The Collection" for the time being. Let me give you an example...the other day I was trolling the internet and all of my favorite online fabric sites for a khaki silk twill. Well guess what I unpacked in the last few days...a khaki silk twill.  I pretty much own some of everything that I could think of or want to use to emulate a designer garment or a sewing for now one of my primary sewing challenges will be to use fabric from "The Collection."

Now that the cave has been refreshed, it's back to sewing for me! The Rachel Dress Part 2 still needs a couple of hours worth of work especially now that the temps have gone back to normal March like weather. It will be perfect to wear to work this week. always, more later!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Day 2 - The Great Fabric Migration 2012

I'm almost done getting it all on the shelves and I'm giddy with joy.  Yeap, downright smiling from ear to ear, giddy!  I have about six more bins to put on the shelves.  As you can see from the pics below, I have A LOT of fabric...much of it I remembered, quite a bit I'd forgotten. It was great to touch it all again and it's been two days well spent.  

I'm definitely gaining some more space in my sewing cave.  I will be able to find fabrics easily and won't be tempted to repurchase them...something that had become a growing fear in the last month.  And now that I have to redo one of the upstairs bathrooms, I can spend money there, knowing that I have plenty of inspiration and creative materials available to me in the sewing cave.

Now, if obvious fabric consumption upsets you, I suggest that you flip out now! I would hate to be the one responsible for you falling out over my joy. *LOL* Because it is with much happiness that I present Day 2's photos of The Great Fabric Migration of 2012:

This shelf is just print fabrics both knit & woven
and is my most favorite shelf of all!

If you've lasted, I'm almost done and will be putting up the cutting table either later tonight or after church tomorrow.  I've moved several of the plastic bins that stored notions and supplies under the computer desk so hopefully the room will look even more spacious and less crowded. My daughter is coming back tomorrow to help me finally hang my inspiration cork board and the sewing pictures I purchased last March.

There will be final shots of the re-done room and a special surprise tomorrow!  I'm glad I'm almost finished and actually think that I might sew Sunday evening and Monday... always, more later!  

Friday, March 23, 2012

Day 1 of the Great Fabric Migration 2012

After getting the new shelves together, my daughter and I started to empty the bins.  I have to admit that after we got the shelves built, I freaked a little.  There were sooooo many bins and it didn't look as if all the fabric from the bins would go on the shelves.  I'm glad my daughter was here with me to hold my hand and calm me down...

Anyway, we are still in the process of loading shelves...before my daughter leaves to go home to her family...especially since I'm calmer now...I just wanted to give a short intro before I let the pictures speak for themselves...

emptying the bins out of the room

the cutting table in pieces

the shelves built and waiting for fabric

The migration has begun!

There will be no sewing going on this weekend.  I don't want to try to rush this process.  I just want to get the fabric placed on the shelves and the furniture back in place so that my sewing cave is once again the calm, restful retreat that it was before I began this journey. always, more later!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Sewing 2012

Ah the warm breezes are washing over me and tomorrow the temperature is suppose to be 80 degrees in NYC.  Such a nice day and I have to waste it at work! *LOL*  So of course, my mind has turned to spring/summer dresses...and I've made a list.  A little designer inspired, a little pattern inspired, and some fabric inspired.

The Rachel Dress Deux has not been finished.  I did get the lining in but there's still at least two hours of work left on it to make it wearable.  I will get it finished this weekend since the temps are going back to normal levels next week and I want to wear it at least once before it needs to be put away for next fall.

I've decided to put the shelves together and start to load fabric onto them on Friday and Saturday.  Sunday and Monday I will sew.  That's what I'm saying now...who knows what I'll really feel like on Friday morning.  Already the fact that I have to take my cutting table down and move those bins around is making me nervous.  But, I really want to be able to touch, feel and see all of those luscious linens, border prints and rayon prints that live in my collection.  

(that's fabric purchased or pulled from the bins since I've moved into the cave)

I'm ready to sew spring!  So stay tuned because I have four days off and I'm planning on spending most of it in The Sewing Cave! always, more later!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Little Bit of Orange

This ad from Talbots landed in my email mailbox this weekend...

So of course I flipped into the Talbots site to peruse the garments pictured...and as I looked at them I realized that I'm a little ahead of the curve on this spring trend because I've been sewing with orange for a minute now.  Back in 2006, I sewed a SWAP with orange as the basis of the collection originally called "Brown and Orange Circles and Stripes SWAP" but renamed "The Prada Dreamsicle SWAP".

After thinking about it and roaming through my Flickr account, I decided to see how many orange garments I actually own.  Notice I didn't say go through my closet, LOL!

I made this orange striped dress in 2006.  Put it in the closet and didn't wear it for another 3 years.  I've worn it several times in the last couple of years and it's become a favorite:

The skirt from the same collection is still in the wardrobe though I didn't wear it last summer...but I think I'll be pulling it out to wear this week!  I even still have the cardigan and tank top which is similar to the Colette Sorbetto Tank.

The twinset has bitten the dust.  It's no longer in the wardrobe and I think I shipped it off to Good Will but I'm not sure.  The cotton knit started to stretch out and the look didn't go with my new workplace since I made these pieces as part of a business casual wardrobe in 2006.

Fast forward a few years and I made an orange linen dress during my September 2009 sewcation.  Then last year, I finally used a linen fabric purchased in 2006, to make this skirt:

The cardigan is RTW, as well as, this cardigan worn over The Whitney Dress.

Two skirts, two dresses and two cardigans...except for a top I'm thinking I have this color covered!  Oops, I do have an orange print top:

This one is from my winning 2010 SWAP collection, Midnight at the Oasis.  From what I can remember and that can be shaky since the fabric collection is still in the bins, I probably only own a couple more pieces of orange fabric across all the seasons.  I will, however, be purchasing the orange wedges pictured in the Summer Trends post since I have quite a few pieces that they work with.

I'm adding the lining to my second version of The Rachel Dress and hope to finish it up pictures soon. always, more later!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Are you a precise sewist?

I'm doing a lot of hand stitching on The Rachel Dress.  And as I'm taking my time to make sure that I'm getting my stitches in precisely, I had a thought.  Am I a precise sewist?  If I answered honestly, I would say no.  I don't measure as much as I wing it.  Too many times I go with the flow instead of breaking out a ruler or measurement tool to insure that everything is perfect.

So the Question of the Day is...Are you a precise sewist?  Or do you just wing it? If you are precise, does this hinder your ability to create?  Or does it enhance your journey?  If you wing it, is it because you have the knowledge to make it work?  Or just the opposite?

Talk to me, I'm interested because generally I'm not a precise sewist.  I'm a by the seat of my pants girl who intuitively knows how something works but has taken the time to acquire some knowledge (notice I didn't say all knowledge) about my craft.  So talk to me and tell me what you think! always, more later!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Trends I want for Spring 2012

I still don't know if I will finish The McQueen Dress or not...I'm still deciding...but I have immersed myself in the last two issues of In Style Magazine so I've got a list of "trends" that I would like to incorporate into my spring/summer sewing.  So without further ado, here is my list:

1.  A Tangerine Colored Garment 
I have loads of orange fabric in my collection (just have to get it out of a bin!) and since it's the color of the year, I definitely want another garment made from this color for spring/summer...not a dress probably a skirt...since I already own an orange linen dress...see below.

2.  Floral Prints
I will probably make more than one piece using some of the floral fabrics I've collected.  I love floral prints. A few more summery pieces to mix and match with the core professional wardrobe I've already assembled would be great.

3.  Clashing prints
These clashing print pieces really intrigue me...I will have to figure out a way to use them and make them work in my corporate wardrobe.  Right now I'm thinking of a floral and a pinstripe combo something that makes the point without being over the top!

4.  Colorblocking
Been there, done that, quite willing to do it again only using the bright colors favored this season!

5.  A pop of color
The magazines are showing it as a pair of shoes, or a purse, scarf or top in a vibrant shade worn with dark solid colors.  I can do that ~ no problem!

6. Vibrant colors
In summers past I've made quite a few dresses in bright colors...

This summer I want another bright grape colored dress in a sheath version.  I've owned the perfect piece of grape colored rayon blend fabric for several years.  This is the year it becomes a garment.

7.  A lace piece
I own the fabric and I know what type of dress I want to make it...I just have to make it!

8. A dress
Okay that's a given! *LOL*  But I would like to use several of the 1000s of dress patterns I already own plus a few more that I've recently purchased.  Also, I'm cruising this summer so I will need some pretty vacation clothes...clothes that I want to make...which will include some maxi dresses.

9. A pair of wedges
Yes, this is a style that I've worn before but they are classics. 

This is the pair I'm thinking of purchasing...a pair of patent leather kewl and updated!

All of this to say that spring is here and winter has quietly faded away, so I'm making up my spring/summer sewing list.  Stay tuned and see how many of the trends I actually get made up! always, more later!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Few Newsy Bits

Just a few things that have been running through my mind...

Ann of Gorgeous Things wrote this awesome post about choosing fabric other than cotton for garments.  Along with the fantastic pattern suggestions she makes at her online fabric store, this post is another wonderful piece of information for a sewist working out how to make the correct fabric choice for her garment.

I just ordered the Plain and Simple Essential Shift Dress and Top and the Deco Vibe Deceptively Skinny Patchwork Skirt.  I watched Trudy's YouTube Video (which you can see at the bottom of the pattern information) and got so excited about the versatility of this pattern.  This will definitely be one of my summer dress patterns!

Speaking of summer, spring has sprung in my corner of the world.  It was almost 70 degrees today, the trees are blooming, the flowers are pushing up towards the sky and people have shed their winter coats.  Now I'm not complaining that we had a mild winter after the last two miserable ones.  The weatherman said that last year we got 71" of snow and the year before around 52"...that's a lot of dayum snow!  So to experience one where the temps never fell below the high 20's was a treasure.  All of that to say that I think the Rachel Dress will be the last of my fall/winter sewing.

This is a little distressing to me since I really do want to make a version of The McQueen Dress.  I guess I could go ahead and make it up but already I've got visions of bright colors, vivacious prints and linen fabrics dancing in my head!  

Speaking of spring, I've started to pull out a few of my knit dresses from last year to wear to work this week.  This is what I wore yesterday...

My Christine Jonson dress received a lot of compliments and quite a few "is that a new dress" comments.  And one of my bosses went boy do you have a lot of clothes because I don't remember that from last summer...yes...this is true, I have a lot of clothes! *LOL*

I've already picked out my Easter Outfit...the fabric, the patterns and notions are already in-house.  I just have to make some time...which leads me to the fact that I have a 4-day weekend coming up.  But I can't decide whether I should assemble the shelves and get the fabric out of the bins or whether I should sew.  The only thing is to sew spring, I need the fabric from the bins unless I go on a shopping spree...and right now I'm just not feeling like it.  Okay, stop laughing because seriously I have a yearning to touch and organize my collection.  I just don't know if I want to spend a good sewing weekend putting it together...*sigh*...decisions, decisions.

I will let you know what I decide to do... always, more later!


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