Thursday, April 30, 2020

Seven Weeks In...

It's Thursday again so it's time for a check-in and an update especially since this is the last day of April.  

Let's start with garments made ~

I've made five dresses.  Three have been blogged. The last two will probably be photographed this weekend because it's supposed to be sunny and warm all weekend. So blog posts next week.

My sewjo came roaring back and I made five versions of my hacked Myosotis dress.

This is what's I'm working on now ~

It's almost finished and may be completed in time to be photographed this weekend too. I hope so. That way I can clear the decks off because I have 3-4 more maxidresses I want to make, as well as a cardigan and shirt from my cut pile

Fabric In/Out Update ~
I was relatively good this month. I bought 15 yards of fabric supporting three online fabric stores - StyleMaker Fabrics, Sewing Studio and Fabric Mart.

My out total was 103 yards.  This number included my three latest dresses. Then I gave 90 yards to a sewing friend. She's relatively new to sewing and has no real stash.  All of the fabric stores here in NJ are closed. She was bemoaning that fact so we did a virtual tour. She picked some pieces out and drove over to pick them up while we practiced social distancing. 

Now y'all have seen photos of the fabric collection so it didn't really matter that she got serious yardage. I'm just happy she's going to be able to sew for awhile because here in NJ we still have no open date.

This makes my year in/out totals:
Fabric In: 36.5
Fabric Out: 138.5

Coronavirus Update ~
It's the end of April and I'm trying to stay positive and remain hopeful. I'm believing that we've turned a corner and are getting close to the end of this. I know things won't be the way they were before and that we're headed into a new "normal."  

I also realize that I'm lucky to have a job where I can work from home and still get paid. My heart goes out to those who have lost their jobs, have not yet received their stimulus checks or unemployment money.  I know these are challenging times for you.

I also mourn with anyone who has lost family members to this vicious disease. We've had several deaths of elderly family members too.  Some of my Mother's contemporaries, so this has been hard on her. It's sad that older people who are still living vibrant lives will no longer be with us to share their knowledge, be a bridge between the generations, and share love.

If you live in a state where the virus is not as prevalent, I would hope that you would say a prayer and have some compassion for those of us in states still going through. It's very surreal and believe me we want to go back to work as much as some of you do too. However, I'm thrilled that my Governor and the Governors in surrounding states are taking their time. I DON'T want to have to go through this again!

As I said previously, new makes are coming to the blog next week. Next week which is MAY! Next week which will begin my eighth week of quarantine... always more later!

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Sewing Shortcuts

As I was working on the dresses, I realize that I normally do a few things that make my sewing go faster.

Things like:
1. I wind two bobbins when I start a project.

2. I pull all the items I need to complete a project before I start - that means not only are fabric and pattern(s) chosen but notions (zipper/buttons/interfacing) and contrasting fabrics. 

3. I sew as many seams together as possible before I head to the iron.

4. When sewing on shank buttons, I thread 2 needles so I don't have to stop in the middle, especially when I'm sewing a large number of buttons onto the garment.

5.  Other buttons are sewn on by machine.

6.  I keep my basic colors of thread (white, black, brown, navy) in minimum 2 spools but I like to keep them stocked at 3-4 spools.

7.  I buy threads both sewing machine and serger on sale in larger spool sizes.

8.  I have a steam generator iron but it doesn't work in the sewing cave without blowing a fuse so I'm still ironing/pressing with my Rowenta. So before every big sew, I fill up all my water bottles so I don't have to keep going upstairs to have enough water to refill my iron.

Those are a few of the things I do to make sewing easier and a little faster when I start a project or a sewing binge.  How about you? What tricks do you have to make your sewing go a little faster?  This is the Question of the Day so talk back to me! always more later!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Gingham for Spring

I love gingham and spent some time collecting several colors and sizes of this beloved fabric. I've used it for accents in garments and for actual garments, here and here. So it's no surprise that I used some to brighten up this blue chambray maxi shirtdress.

This is the third version in my shirtdress making series. As I was constructing this dress, I realized how similar this is to another dress...guess I'm losing my originality! Honestly though there is a part of me that just doesn't care. I really am more interested in being comfortable and appropriately dressed than anything else.

Supply List ~
- 4.5 yards Blue Chambray purchased from Fabric Mart's Brick & Mortar Store during Carriage Corner Sew Camp
- 1/2 yard light blue gingham also purchased from Fabric Mart's Brick & Mortar Store during Carriage Corner Sew Camp
- 10 3/4" covered button shells from my notions collection
  (There's an interesting story to these covered button shells. I have to share it some day.)

- Interfacing from Steinlauf & Stoeller

Design Changes ~
To distinguish between this version and all of the others previously made and to come, I changed the sleeves. I wanted a longer sleeve but not so long the dress would be uncomfortable to wear in the summer. I decided to add a below elbow length sleeve with a tie.

Here's how I made it:
o  I added 5" to the bottom of the short sleeve 
o  Made a band 4" wide by 35" long from the chambray
o  Added a line of gathering stitches to the hemline of the sleeve 
o  Sewed the band to the sleeve hemline using a 5/8" seam allowance applying the center back of the band to the armhole seam
o  I left a one inch opening at the front of the sleeve to make it easier to tie the band
o  Topstitched the entire band after tucking in the ends 

Those are the only changes I made. It's the fabric speaking for this dress. I wanted a chambray maxi shirtdress and the gingham additions highlight the differences.

A Few Pictures ~

This not only fulfills my need for a chambray maxi shirtdress but also checks off one of the garments in my Chicos wardrobe.  While I may not be sewing from the cut pile right now, I am going back to it because I really do want those pieces in my closet.

My daughters have been amazing during this time. They've picked up groceries for me so I wouldn't have to go to the stores since I'm in the high risk category, and brought my grand kids by so I can talk to them through the car windows...cause Face Time is not all that! Today she showed up with some groceries, caught me taking pictures on the porch and volunteered to photograph this dress before heading home.

It took me awhile to come around to photographing these dresses. It seemed silly to be prancing around on the porch or in the front yard wearing pretty dresses during this crazy time. But I guess we're finding joy and stress/anxiety relief wherever we can find it. This 15 minutes we shared made my day and gave me a little normalcy back. Especially when she criticized my hair (she usually does it when we take pictures) and her naming my dress "The Prairie Dress."

There are two more dresses to share...they will show up here sooner rather than later! always more later!


Monday, April 20, 2020

Two New Maxi Shirtdresses

Now I know most people sew with different patterns and that's part of the sewing adventure for them...but me I like TNT patterns where I hack the heck out of them to make the garments I see in my head...or enjoy wearing.

Due to the Corvid-19 quarantine, I'm finding that I want to sew specific garments that will serve me now and later when I venture back into the world.  Unlike most, I'm happiest in a skirt or a dress at home. I'm honestly not a jeans woman. So I've been riffing on my maxi shirtdress while quarantined.

The basis of my maxi shirtdress is the Deer & Doe Myosotis dress pattern. I've changed the following things on the pattern:

1. I added a collar and widen it after using it several times.
2. I lengthened to maxi length using only one tier.
3. The skirt pattern is no longer used to make the bottom of the dress. I now use the width of the fabric twice and a length of 28" for a short dress and 43-44" for a maxi dress.
4. After being inspired by another sewist, I've added a button front to the skirt of the dress.  Allowing it to be buttoned and unbuttoned instead of being slipped over my head.
5. Sleeves - I've made short sleeve, sleeveless, elbow length and long sleeved versions

...and for this first version I've added a ruffle to the hem because I cut it too short!

The Striped Ruffled Hem Maxi Shirtdress ~

Supplies Used ~
- I used a cotton shirting purchased from Fabric Mart last summer during the June Carriage Corner Sew Camp.
- 12 - 7/8" Mother of Pearl shank buttons from the button collection - these are from when I worked at the button company in the 1990s.
- Interfacing from Steinlauf and Stoeller

The main construction change is that bottom ruffle. I also omitted the topstitching on the bodice because I didn't want to mess with how the stripes ran. 

For the bottom ruffle: 
- I cut 3.5 lengths - 4" wide and the width of the fabric. 
- Sewed all of the lengths together and pressed it in half. 
- Then I gathered it to the bottom of the skirt's hemline making sure to match the fold over portion of the button band. 

That's it - easy peasy, well except for the time it took to gather the thing! *LOL*

Some pictures of the finished dress ~

"The Wolf In Sheep's Clothing Dress" ~

I named it after sending an email to a friend and her response was the dress was too sweet for me.  Seriously, she said "too sweet for my sassy personality."  Dayum, I just thought it was a pretty spring dress! But the name stuck in my head and I was determined to call it this in recognition of her comments! *LOL*

I shared a picture of this dress in a previous post.  The fabric was purchased from Gorgeous Fabrics and the 10 5/8" floral buttons are a recent purchase from Pacific Trimmings.  The white linen used on the collar, under collar, front facings and sleeve cuffs are a remnant from the fabric collection. 

As an aside, I'm so thrilled that I've collected and stored all of these bits and bobs over the years. I'm putting some covered buttons on an upcoming dress and while I had no buttons in the collection that worked with the fabric, it was wonderful to head to my covered button stash and pick some to use with the coordinating fabric. All of this collecting has really worked out during #sewstayhome.

Some Construction Details ~

The sleeve cuff - 
o  I cut a 4" band the width of the sleeve 
I sewed the side seam of the band, pressed the seam open, then pressed the band in half
o  Used a 1/2" seam allowance to attach it to the wrong side of the sleeve
o  The first band went on no problem - the second one took three tries to get it on!
o  Pressed the seam open and flat then pressed it up. I haven't tacked it down at the side seam yet waiting to see how it wears.

Front Facings -
I've made several of these maxi shirtdresses using a button front opening. Previously, I lapped over the skirt's button front twice, stitched down and then attached the skirt to the top.  However, I kept getting this bump in the center front that I hated.

For this one, an additional 1/2" was added to the front facing to give it a little more width. Then I only lapped the skirt facing over once to match the width of the bodice front facing. The top and skirt were stitched together matching the facing fronts and side seams... bump. Otherwise, everything else is the same in the construction of this dress. Although it has a very small hem. I wanted as much length in the skirt because it was cut short due to lack of fabric. I guess I really do need 4 yards to make one. If I had omitted the sleeves, I would have had the additional length. However, I chose to have the short cuffed sleeves.

A Few Pictures ~

These are the first two in a series of five. The next two are already finished and the fifth one is almost complete. These dresses are about comfort and I'm all about that right now! always more later!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Dayum - Is it Thursday Again?

The days fly by but also go really slowly. How is that possible? I've been home for 35 days now and my sewjo has returned as evidenced in my last post. Luckily I had a 1/2 day on Good Friday and Easter Monday off to just sew. Due to our quarantine status, our normal Easter Dinner was cancelled.  However, the grandkids did come by with their Mother and Aunt and talked to me through the car windows. It's truly a strange new world we're living in.

I have two more maxi shirtdresses almost done. Everything needs either hems, or buttonholes/buttons and hems to be finished and ready to be photographed. It was a good weekend and I felt most like myself those 3.5 half days...

Sewing Update:
Here are a few photos from the 80 hour sew...

Blue Chambray & Gingham Maxi Shirtdress ~

Black & White Cotton/Linen Sleeveless Maxi Shirtdress ~

All of the Maxi Shirtdresses so far ~

Coronavirus Update:
Latest update from my area is May 15th as the possible date for heading back to work. So I'm figuring the beginning of June because of all the things that need to be in place for us to return.  By that time I will have been home for 2.5 months. I'm hoping now that I'm finally sewing, I will have a whole bunch of new things to wear...

I highly encourage you to take some time and read Charlie's blog post about how the virus is affecting her here. It's a powerful read! I live in NJ and as of now, none of my family members have been infected. However, we all have stories of people we know who has someone affected by the virus.

My plan is to finish these dresses this week and take pictures with my daughter in my front yard while social distancing over the weekend. If this works, I will have some finished garment posts to share.

Hope everyone is taking care and staying safe! always more later!

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Checking In...

I haven't been sewing much. I'm working from home and I've had quite a few Zoom meetings and projects to complete, so I haven't sewn as much as I thought I would.  Also had some challenges adjusting to all of this but as I enter Week Five of #sewstayhome, I am starting to sew a little more.

As I stated in my last post, my Myosotis dresses are my faves to wear right now. I've started two and have fabric picked to cut out two more. Here's what's in process in the sewing cave now:

This is a midi-length dress using the Myosotis Pattern as the base 
and a new fabric purchase from Gorgeous Fabrics. 

The white linen used for the accents is from the collection.

Striped shirting purchased from Fabric Mart's Brick & Mortar store 
during Carriage Corner Sew Camp last June is a dress is 
based on the Myosotis Dress pattern with a few changes.

I'm not working from home tomorrow or Monday and will be turning off my computer, phone and iPad to social distance myself from social media. I just want to sew for my mental health. Since we're not having an Easter Celebration this year...Imma let Netflix & Amazon Prime play and sew...just sew.

Hopefully I will have some finished garments to share after that...and if I don't well that's okay too.  Hope you're staying home, sane and safe to help flatten the curve.  Sorry that the virus has indeed moved across the country and is now infecting the rural areas of America...glad the cases are starting to slow down overseas...hoping this means that we're coming to the end of the Pandemic soon! always more later!

Thursday, April 02, 2020

A Week in Review - Week Six

This is my latest week in review...

Let's start with a Coronavirus Update:
I've been home since March 13th...and I've had some good days, some bad days and some days where I just wanted to sleep the day away. Many mornings I wake up now not knowing what day it is because they're all kinda running together...and I'm still sewing less than I thought I would.

Now this is not to say that I don't realize how blessed I am. My family is still healthy which I say prayerfully since I have two daughters who are considered essential personnel and they go out to work.  One daughter is working from home more than she's out checking on the personnel at the warehouses but every time she leaves the house, I hold my breathe.  The other daughter is the manager of a stock-out crew at the supermarket and luckily she works at night...though two people at her store have been diagnosed with Corvid-19.

I'm still working from home, getting paid and have healthcare so I'm grateful and very thankful for this! However, I have NO idea when I'm going back to work in NYC since it's the epicenter of the disease right now.

Okay some sewing updates...
Let's talk fabric in and out totals since it's the beginning of a new month.

This month 9 yards of fabric arrived in the cave - 3 yards was a gift and 6 yards purchased from Gorgeous Fabrics.

Then I went on a cutting frenzy and cut a bunch of stuff for a cut pile.  This was before I was home bound and believed I would go back to work in 2-3 weeks. So I cut a lot of tops and cardigans to wear over jeans - my standard work outfit. I cut out 21.5 yards of fabric. I've made exactly three pieces from this cut pile.

I did well this month with balancing my in and out totals. This means my year-to-date totals are:  24 yards in and 35.5 yards out - I have 11.5 yards more out than I have in during this first quarter. So while not great, it's a good start.

Sewn Garments ~
Like I said earlier, I'm not sewing as much as I thought I would...three weeks in I'm still adjusting.  Some of it is that I don't like to wear jeans at home, I'm definitely a maxi dress, maxi skirt woman at home.  So my cut pile is totally unappealing since it's an outside the house wardrobe.

It took me a minute to realize that I could wear my Myosotis dresses and other maxis while I'm home. Once I spent a week getting dressed in maxi dresses and feeling more like myself, I shifted my sewing and pulled fabric for more summer maxi dresses.

I've presently got two Myosotis maxi dresses on the cutting table. Since this is what I'm wearing and feel like sewing these will be up on the blog soon.

Other sewing things ~

Lisa, the owner of Black Women Stitch and the podcast, Stitch Please recorded a podcast with me pre-Corvid-19 and it's now available to listen to here. I have a couple of things to say and yes, I rail about pdf patterns again. At least I'm consistent people! *LOL* I hope you will give it a listen, as well as listen to some of Lisa's other podcasts.

Finally, it's April...April in a time such as this...  I hope you and yours are safe, that if you have a shelter in place/just stay home order that you're making it through... always more later!  


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