Thursday, April 30, 2009

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to Kathy, Cindy, Beth Conky, Eword10, Webfrau, Faye Lewis, Gwen, Vicki, Amelia, and Lindsay T for talking back to my confession last Friday! I confessed that I have been struggling a bit with my motivation to keep blogging...

Most people talked about why they blog. The single most frequently called out reason to blog is to share pictures and stories with family, friends and the virtual sewing community. This makes a lot of sense - there's research out there that shows that having strong personal relationships and a social support network are key factors in both a happy life and a healthy one! (For example, click here.)

In addition to the general benefits of sharing, a couple of specific benefits to being a member of a community were called out, including getting help with sewing problems and promoting a sewing business.

Other people talked about blogging as a way to motivate themselves to sew, keep themselves accountable to their sewing goals, keep a record of their sewing efforts and/or schedule some "dedicated me" time into their lives.

A few people talked about reading blogs (as compared to writing one), and they generally referred to receiving educational and inspirational benefits.

Lindsay specifically addressed the topic of waning enthusiasm, and suggested that it's not unusual to go through cycles of being first more and then less gung-ho on blogging. She recharges by taking breaks periodically and keeps a stash of around 10 draft post ideas ready to go at any time!

A couple of people specifically talked about having a regularly scheduled system of posting. I think it's both a blessing and a curse - I started my system because I figured that I wouldn't keep up my blogging without one, but sometimes it feels more like a master than a servant... ;)

Thanks again to everyone who took the time to share their thoughts on blogging! You've definitely given me a lot to think about, as always! :)

Photo credit: freeparking

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

In the Queue Wednesday

There's been a dramatic upheaval in my queue, and a relative newcomer has pushed its way to the top! Yes, this hip skirt pattern (purchased just last month at the Sewing & Quilt Expo) decided that it would NOT languish for months, politely waiting its turn, and forced me to go fabric shopping over the weekend.

(To be fair, it had a partner in crime - a Joann's gift certificate given to me by my friend for the alterations I did to her bridesmaid dress.)

I decided to make the two-layer, full-circle version of this skirt. (In fact, after browsing the bolts, I decided to make TWO two-layer, full-circle skirts, but I'll save one for next week!)

And so, without further adieu, here is the first set of fabric:
I'm going to make the outer layer in the primarily blue fabric with large flowers, and the under layer in the primarily brown fabric. I think it's going to be adorable!

Don't worry, you'll be seeing this soon! It's at the top of my queue! :)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Weekend Project: Of Excess

Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.

William Somerset Maugham

Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.

Oscar Wilde

If there ever was a time for TWO quotations, it would be when the theme was "excess"... ;)

Apparently, not only do I have Terry Pratchett's Monks of Cool on my side for this jacket, William Somerset Maugham and Oscar Wilde would also approve! Yes, the fake pink fur jacket is just about complete! All I have left to do are the buttons and buttonholes...

Hopefully I can finish one evening this week, after work... :)

Another update - the side panels on the bridesmaid dress are finished, and they seem to do the job satisfactorily. I was lucky that the dress fit around the top of the bodice, so that I didn't have to take it completely apart! When her arms are down, the panels aren't even noticeable. When her arms are up, they don't look bad...

I made the two side panels the same size, and one of them (but not the other) had to be taken in a bit. If sewing teaches you one thing, it's that people are not perfectly symmetrical! ;)

Gwen asked me how I enjoyed the work (she has a lot of experience doing alterations). It was an interesting challenge and I'm content with how it came out. For now, however, I think I'll stick with the occasional favor for a friend and leave the majority of the alterations to the professionals! ;)

Parting Shot: Sammy, whom I told is a dead ringer for Cole's Corner's cat Cowin, enjoys the sweet afterglow of a catnip roll in the morning sunshine...

You know that he's about to bring all that catnip into the house and spread it around our carpet, sofa and bed, don't you? ;)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Confession

Sometimes my motivation to keep blogging wanes... Do you ever feel that way? What keeps you blogging? How do you "recharge" when the energy just isn't there?

Photo credit: chaosinjune

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to Beth Conky, Gwen, Cindy, Elaina, CarlaF, Ivalyn, LoisK, NancyK, Faye Lewis, Alison, Towanda, Summerset, Meredithp and Mamafitz for talking back to my confession last Friday! I confessed that I don't always put in stay stitching.

The verdict is in and the jury ruled in favor of stay stitching!
  • Ten people reported always or almost always stay stitching.
  • Three people commented that it did depend a bit on the type of fabric, and emphasized the importance of stay stitching unstable and/or stretchy fabrics.
  • Four mentioned experiencing negative repurcussions from not stay stitching.
  • And four mentioned using other techniques to stabilize fabric (either in conjunction with or instead of stay stitching) - specifically stay tape and knit interfacing.

LoisK pointed out that, in order for stay stitching to be able to do its job, you need to do it first - before handling the fabric a lot (putting in darts, etc.)

While not everyone reported stay stitching regularly, it seems that everyone pays attention to her fabric and takes steps to stabilize it when necessary. NancyK remarked that she read that Kathleen Fasanella recommends using fusible interfacing to stabilize instead of stay stitching. This might be the post NancyK was referring to here.

This is a good lesson learned for me! Thanks again to everyone who took the time and effort to share your knowledge, experience and practices! :)

Photo credit: steakpinball

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

In the Queue Wednesday

I got my first edition of Burda World of Fashion! (My husband got me a subscription for Christmas.)

I haven't made anything from it yet, but I'm thinking of making this dress my first project:

I picked it for a couple of reasons. One, of course, I think that it's cute. But also because it is this issue's featured "Sewing Course" - so the instructions are more fleshed out.

That seemed like a good place to start my introduction to BWOF. Of course, I have no idea when - but, don't worry, I'll get to it. It's in my queue... ;)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Weekend Project: Accommodations

He alone is wise who can accommodate himself to all contingencies of life; but the fool contends, and struggles like a swimmer against the stream.
-- Proverb Quotes

I figure "alterations" are a lot like the "accommodations" of the wise man mentioned above. So, I exercised my wisdom this weekend by inserting side panels into my friend's bridesmaid dress.

I've actually only attached the panels (cut from the matching shawl) along one edge. Tomorrow we'll have a fitting and I'll figure out exactly where to attach the other edge.

I've also added elastic on one end of the waist stay. I'll put on a few "eyes" (for the "hook") at different points along the elastic, increasing the odds that she'll have a good fit.

I'll try to have more pictures for you soon. How about you? Have you done any accommodation lately? :)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Confession

Okay, back to a "real" confession - I don't always put in stay-stitching before I begin constructing my garments. :(

I am pretty good about stay-stitching curves that need to be clipped immediately, but I sometimes skip necklines and just attach the collar to the "naked" edge.

How about you? Are you a faithful stay-stitcher? Have you ever experienced any negative consequences from not stay-stitching?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to Wendy, CarlaF, Webfrau, Faye Lewis, Gwen, Beth Conky, Mamafitz, LoisK, Gaylen and Sarah for talking back to my confession last Friday! I asked what people love most about sewing.

Interestingly, the most commonly mentioned favorite bits were the beginning and ending parts of the sewing process:
  • up front - shopping for the fabric & patterns (including fabric fondling!), dreaming and planning (11 votes)

  • at the end - having the finished product come out as planned and fit (5 votes)
Of course, lots of middle bits were called out too - tracing / altering the pattern, pressing and/or ironing, draping, researching and learning new techniques, making all the little decisions throughout the process that culminate in the final garment being uniquely and completely yours. :)

And some people included things that are associated with sewing, but not actual steps - for example, Faye mentioned how much she enjoys just being in her sewing room (me too!) and Sarah captured these things very eloquently, "...the camraderie of sewing with people, and the peach that comes from sewing alone... getting bit by the bug that just makes you want to plan and sew for hours on end... and having the time to do it." I couldn't have said it better myself! ;)

BTW, Wendy correctly identified the windows in my photo as windows from B&J in New York City! :)

Thanks again to everyone who took the time and effort to talk back! :)

Photo credit: Anta

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

In the Queue Wednesday

In honor of tax day, I thought I'd provide an accounting of my queue projects over the last year. So, yesterday I reviewed all of my Wednesday posts.

I discovered some room for "creative accounting" in the counting process, and (after some consideration) I typically chose to err on the side of more rather than less. So, for example, I counted each of the five pencil rolls that I made for my friends for Christmas as one item (for a total of 5 projects) and I treated the 12 potholders that I made for my Grandmother as 6 projects, because they were given out in pairs.

That being explained, here are some results:

I mentioned 62 projects in my Wednesday posts over the last year, and I have completed 60% (37) of those projects and still have 40% (25) languishing in my queue.

Of those 62 projects, 26% (16) were for me and 74% (46) were for other people.

Of the 16 projects for me, I have completed 38% (6) and still need to get to 63% (10).

Of the 46 projects for other people, I have completed 67% (31) and still need to get to 33% (15).

Bottom line: I had a pretty good year, with a net production of 37 items, and I think I should be getting a refund of projects for me! ;)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Weekend Project: Further Fuschia

The Monks of Cool, whose tiny and exclusive monastery is hidden in a really cool and laid-back valley in the lower Ramtops, have a passing-out test for a novice. He is taken into a room full of all types of clothing and asked: Yo, my son, which of these is the most stylish thing to wear? And the correct answer is: Hey, whatever I select.
-- from "Lords and Ladies"
-- by Terry Pratchett

And what Monk of Cool wouldn't select a fuschia fake-fur jacket?

Yes, I've made some progress on my niece's jacket this weekend. The instructions for the yoke lining were a bit new to me, so I photographed the steps. After attaching the front lining pieces along the front edges, the instructions had me attach the outer layers at the shoulder seams and sides. Then it had me complete and attach the collar:

On the inside, you can see that the lining is attached in the front...

But not in back...

Next, the instructions had me open out the lining and connect the front and back lining pieces along the shoulder seams.

Then I folded the lining onto the jacket fabric - right sides together - and stitched along the neck edge.

Trim the curves and flip it right side out - ta da! Front (inside) view:

Back (inside) view:

The last step was to flip up the lower edges of the yoke lining and stitch them to the main fabric. Again - front (inside) view:

And back:

Of course, all of those pictures are with the jacket inside-out. Turn it right-side out, and there is only the slightest hint of the colorful flowered fabric lining! ;)

I'm getting close to finishing now - only the sleeves, hem, buttons & buttonholes are left. After this, a top for my other niece - also bright pink (stretch with sequins!) and a cool fake leopard fur trim! ;)

At this rate, I may make it into the Monks of Cool "Hall of Fame"! ;)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Confession

Last Fall I shared my least favorite aspect of sewing (pinning & cutting), but I haven't talked about my favorite part(s) yet. That's partly because I love pretty much everything else about it! But, if I had to be specific, I'd say that there are a few steps/stages in the process that stand out:

For example, I love shopping for fabric and patterns! ;)

I love it when I'm struggling with a new construction method and it suddenly clicks in my head and I understand how all the pieces and steps go together to create the final version.

During the actual construction of the garment, there's an intermediate stage (after preliminary steps like stay stitching and assembling separate bits like the collar, but before you start working on the finishing details like buttonholes & hems) where it transforms from separate flat pieces of fabric to the three dimensional garment - I love that bit!

And, of course, the final product - whether it's wearing it myself or seeing someone else wear it - that gives me a great feeling of satisfaction and happiness. :)

So, what about you? What is/are your favorite bit(s) about sewing?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to Gwen, Summerset, Joannely and Amelia for talking back to my confession last Friday! I described a rather crazy project that I have taken on for a friend, and asked if other people had any crazy project stories of their own to share.

It looks like most of the funniest stories have come from doing alterations. Both Gwen and Amelia have had clients who didn't want to provide measurements! Gwen had a client who wanted her to hem a coat so that it would fall to 13 inches above the floor, but couldn't understand why he should have to put it on for her to measure that! And Amelia had a client who wanted an apron for her niece, but was only prepared to divulge that the niece was a "big girl"... Yikes!

Joannely does bridal alterations for a living, and she reported having clients who fall in love with one design detail of a wedding dress and so they buy it, even if it's as much as SIX SIZES too small! In addition to adding side panels, she sometimes switches out the back zipper for lacing - I wish I had thought of that option...

And it sounds like Summerset has a TON of good stories - including making a Star Trek costume, salvaging a comforter that had been partially chewed up by a pet dog and trying to turn a silver prom dress into a wedding gown. Apparently, however, many of these are memories that she'd just as soon forget... It's probably funnier to hear about than to actually have to live (and sew) through! ;)

I bet there are a lot of other great stories out there too - if you'd like to add yours to the comments in this post, I'll provide an update next week.

Thanks again to everyone for sharing their wonderful stories with us all! :)

Photo credit: Falashad

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

In the Queue Wednesday

This is the second of the two new dresses that I bought recently, and which I would like to copy in my own sewing:
I was initially attracted to the fabric - I would never have picked this style out for myself. But, now that I've worn it, I think it is relatively flattering to my body type & size.

The fabric is medium weight and has a bit of stretch to it too.

The only thing I'd definitely drop is the side zipper in the skirt section of this dress. It seems to be pointless as it doesn't come up as high as the bottom of the neck opening, and thus even when both are fully open, there is a constriction in the middle of the dress that I have to squeeze through... Am I missing something?

So, like the other RTW dress that I want to copy, this is also quite low on my list - and sadly even those things on the top of my list are languishing these days due to lack of sewing time... :(

But, don't worry, I'll get to it someday - it's in the queue...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Monday Morning Quarterback

Sigh, yet another sewing-less weekend... :(

This time, the IRS is to blame. As I am without sewing-related content, I shall pass along these tax related quotations - I hope you enjoy them!

Isn't it appropriate that the month of the tax begins with April Fool's Day and ends with cries of "May Day!"?
-- Rob Knauerhase

The avoidance of taxes is the only intellectual pursuit that carries any reward.
-- John Maynard Keynes

The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the least amount of hissing.
-- Jean-Baptiste Colbert

I'm proud to be paying taxes in the United States. The only thing is—I could be just as proud for half the money.
-- Arthur Godfrey

I just filled out my income tax forms. Who says you can't get killed by a blank?
-- Milton Berle

The hardest thing to understand in the world is the income tax.
-- Albert Einstein

Friday, April 3, 2009

Friday Confession

I've undertaken a pretty crazy project. A friend of mine is going to be a bridesmaid in a wedding in a couple of weeks. She had to order her dress last Fall. Not surprisingly, when it showed up six months later, the fit wasn't perfect... Following Murphy's Law, this particular dress has been discontinued! She asked if I could fix it for her.

Unfortunately, it's too SMALL around the bust and midriff, not too large. (I'd feel a lot more confident of my ability to tighten it up around the back zipper.) Still, she's a very good friend, and she isn't asking for a couture fix - she just wants something that will stay on (and allow oxygen to her brain) during the ceremony and reception. So I said I'd do my best. ;)

I decided to add the extra fabric to the side seams, so that the extra seam lines are mostly covered by her arms. She said I could cut up the matching shawl to make the panels to be inserted. As you can see above, I'm still carefully seam-ripping my way through the fabric, the lining, and the two layers of inner corsette (plus boning).

My plan is to sew the panel along one edge of the open seam and then fit it to her and close up the other edge of the open seam. Once I have the fit right on the outer layer, I'll do all the inner layers accordingly. Part of me knows that it's a crazy project to take on, but part of me is kind of jazzed by the challenge. I'll definitely let you know how it comes out! :)

So, how about you? What's the craziest project you ever took on? How did it come out? I'd love to hear your stories! :)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to Sarah, Mamafitz, Susan, Gwen, Elaina, Lindsay T, MeredithP, Faye Lewis, Vicki, Amelia, Summerset, Becky and Jennifer for talking back to my "confession" last Friday! I admitted that I love Project Runway...

So, I doubt you'll be surprised to hear that 12 out of 13 respondents also enjoy watching the show, no one reported not liking it, and only one person has yet to see it. Not everyone watches it in real time - about one third of the commenters reported watching it after the fact, either with DVR, on DVDs or on youtube.

Only two people addressed whether or not they are able to predict who is going to win, and they split down the middle, with one "yes" and one "no".

As for wanting to be on the show, four people would NOT want to be on the show, and two people are up for the challenge. Summerset, in particular, said that she would love to try it, and if you've ever visited her blog, I'm sure you'll agree with me that she would kick some serious haute couture butt! ;)

I also learned that both Canada and Australia have their own versions of the show. I'm going to check those out on youtube, to help tide me over until Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum are back on the air - which, according to this article, may be soon!

Thanks again to everyone for taking the time to "talk back"! :)

Image credit: Chris Glass

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

In the Queue Wednesday

My second pattern purchase from the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo in Tampa - the "hip skirt" by Favorite Things. This looks so comfortable and yet feminine to me - I can't wait to try it! :)