Thursday, July 23, 2009

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to BConky, Shannon, Annie, Ivalyn, Uta, Gwen, Cindy, Sue, Becky, Summerset and Sarah for talking back to last week's question! Gwen of All My Seams asked what colors everyone likes to wear and why.

People split pretty evenly on whether or not they align themselves with a published color system. About half of the commenters referred to the Color Me Beautiful System (with 1 Summer, 5 Autumns and 1 Winter). The other half stressed variety - basing their color choices on their current mood or job, or the season. A few people talked about how their color preferences have changed over time.

The thing that was true across the board was that people know what they like and are passionate about color! :)

As far as specific colors go, pink didn't fare so well in the tally, but I was intrigued by how many people called out red as making them feel powerful, energetic and happy. I may have to give it a try and put on some red when I'm anticipating a challenging day...

Thanks again, everyone! As always, I loved reading your stories!

So, I won't be posting for a couple of weeks - I'll miss you and look forward to being back. In the meantime, happy sewing to everyone!

Photo credit: kalandrakas

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

In the Queue Wednesday

This week's queue has a different kind of project - packing for our summer vacation! We're off to Kamas, Utah for some rock climbing in the Uinta Range.

After tomorrow's "Talk Back Thursday" post, I'll be "off the air" for the next couple of weeks, but I'll have a surprise for you shortly after I get back, and I haven't forgotten about the "How Much Fabric?" tops table that I promised everyone!

Don't worry, I'll get to it! It's in the queue... ;)

Photo credit: Muffet

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Confession

I don't know about you, but I've really been enjoying the guest questions that have been running here for the last month or so. Of course, it's nice to get a break from having to come up with my own "confession" each week. But more than that, there have been some really interesting questions that have brought out a lot of wonderful stories and useful information!

Today's guest question is from Gwen of All My Seams. Gwen would like to know about your choice of colors - what do you wear and why?

I'd like to add to her question by asking about schemes - do you subscribe to any particular scheme for finding your best colors? For example, do you use the season scheme where people are classified as being either a Spring, Summer, Winter or Fall?

Personally, pink I like pink warm pink and bright pink colors. ;)

How about you? We'd love to hear how you think about colors and color schemes! :)

Photo credit: tiny_packages

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to Cindy, Shannon, Summerset, Meredith, Lois K, Elaina and Pamela D for sharing their stories with me and Cindy last week! Cindy asked to hear stories about the oldest pieces of fabric that people have in their stashes. I really recommend that you read these stories first hand (here) - they are very cool!

I'll try to tempt you with just a few details... The fabric ages ranged from 20 years old to 90 years old! The stories carried wonderful memories of special ocasions (like a wedding), adventures (such as a young Navy wife in Sicily), special places of the kind that are getting more and more scarce these days (an independent fabric store, a local fabric mill), and, most of all, special people in our lives (family and friends)!

Most of those pieces of fabric are still waiting for just the right pattern - but Cindy used her fabric to make an earth day project - grocery bags. You can see her tutorial for this project on her blog, Learn2SewFlorida, here.

Reading the stories reminded me that sewing is more than just the clothes that we make - it colors our whole lives.

Thank you to everyone for the wonderful stories! :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

In the Queue Wednesday

As I mentioned last week, my two nieces came to visit for the Fourth of July, and number one of their wish list was a trip to Joann's so that they could pick out new outfits for me to make for them. The 8-year-old actually asked for a repeat of a pattern that I've made for her before. She calls this her wedding dress:

Because, after all, an 8-year-old can never have too many wedding dresses! ;)

This time she picked a shiny pink satin and a sparkly pink tulle:

The first time we went for the traditional white... Here she models it (pre-hemmed):

Not sure exactly when, but don't worry, I'll get to it. It's in the queue! ;)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Weekend Project: Oldest "Fabric" in Stash

Remember that the most valuable antiques are dear old friends.

~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

On Friday, Cindy of Learn2SewFlorida posed a guest question. She asked to hear stories about the oldest pieces of fabric in people's stashes. So far, we've heard some wonderful stories and if you haven't read the comments to that post yet, I highly recommend it! (You can read the stories here.)

So, I've only been sewing for 9 years, and I don't really have any special stories of long-term residents in my stash. But I remembered that I do have a very special textile-based treasure that has been with me for about 30 years. A dear friend in high school made a peasant blouse for me and decorated it with beautiful needlework of her own design...

Needless to say, this blouse will be with me for the rest of my life. Beyond the undeniable beauty of the handiwork, the beauty of her friendship shines strong and powerful. :)

If you have a wonderful story to go with the oldest piece of fabric in your stash, please share it with me and Cindy in the comments to my Friday post. If you'd rather share it on your blog with photos, then let me know and I'll add a link in my "Talk Back Thursday" post next week.

Happy Sewing to everyone! :)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Confession

Today's guest question is from Cindy of Learn2SewFlorida. She would like to know more about your stash. In particular, she asked if you would tell about the oldest piece of fabric in your stash and the story behind it. I need to think about this one. But I'll add my story to the comments too. In the meantime, we're both looking forward to reading yours! :)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to Lisa Laree, Shannon, Mamafitz, Faye Lewis, Gwen, Uta, Cindy, Elaina, CarlaF, Karima and Sarah for talking back last Friday! It was another guest question, and Gwen asked how people feel about natural versus synthetic fabrics.

Many of the people who expressed a strong preference voted for natural fibers, such as linen, silk, wool, cashmere, cotton, rayon and bamboo, over synthetic fibers. The most commonly cited advantages included: easier to sew, easier to press, breathable and cooler in hot weather. Uta also pointed out that natural fibers are “greener” and age better than synthetics.

But it wasn’t a completely one-sided chorus. Several people appreciate blends – such as a touch of polyester or lycra with cotton – and others pointed out that there are certain types of clothes that pretty much require synthetics, such as bathing suits. A couple of “pros” to synthetics were called out as well – such as being wrinkle resistant and coming in a wide variety of colors and prints.

Finally, there were a few folks who don’t have a strong preference either way. For example, Cindy enjoys working with all kinds of fabrics, CarlaF will buy a fabric if she likes the way it feels, looks and it seems easy to work with, regardless of the content, and Elaina keeps an eye out for bargains.

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

Photo credit: net_efekt

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

In the Queue Wednesday

How do I let myself get talked into these things? My mother-in-law and her two great-granddaughters just spent a few days with us, and practically the first words out of the girls' mouths when I saw them was, "Aunt Gwen! Can we go to the fabric store?"

The older one, 12, picked the same pattern that we made together last summer - the top featured on the left of this Simplicity pattern:

Last year she and I made it together in a stiff cotton - pink with angels and sparkles. (She also made the shorts that she's wearing in this picture!)

This year she selected a bright blue polyester with sparkles. We got quite a bit of it done over the weekend...

All I have left to do is add the trim - a strip of silver sequins along the bodice. Not sure how I'm going to attach it - I'm afraid the machine needle will shatter the sequins. :(

Next week I'll show you what the 8-year-old picked out. I haven't started that yet...but, don't worry, I'll get to it. It's in the queue! ;)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Weekend Project: Fabric Scraps and Fireworks

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.

~Abraham Lincoln

Happy (American) Independence Day! Our house was full of people to celebrate, and I accidentally discovered a wonderful way to use up your fabric scraps. All it requires is a couple of 8-year old girls and about 5 pounds of fiberfil! Mix thoroughly with a sewing machine and... voila!

Pillows! Lots and lots of pillows! (Note: a key component of this plan involves sending the pillows home with the girls at the end of the day!)

And here we are enjoying the fireworks from the best seat in the house:

I hope you and your family had a wonderful weekend! :)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Friday Confession

This week we have another guest question from Gwen of All My Seams. Gwen would like to know your opinions on natural fibers vs. synthetics; specifically, which you prefer to use and what you think are the major pros and cons of each.

Once again, I can match her question with a bit of a confession. As you have probably noticed, my sewing isn't very sophisticated - sundresses and Hawaiian shirts tend to use a lot of cotton prints! ;)

When I made Susan's wedding dress, I did insist on real silk instead of something man-made. (I was allowed to insist, because as part of our wedding gift to them we bought the fabric.) Interestingly, as an engineer she was a bit "put out" by my insistence that natural is better than man-made. That caught me by surprise!

I did just take my nieces (12 & 8) to Joann's and we ended up with a lot of polyesters from their Casa Collection - you know, shiny, sparkly and slippery! Yikes! (Thank goodness I have a serger!)

So, how about you? What do you like to sew with and why? Will you use most anything or are you more discriminating? Gwen and I are looking forward to learning what you think! :)

Photo credit: Sukanto Debnath

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to BConky, Cause, Donna, Elaina, Lindsay T, Mamafitz, Summerset, Gwen, Elizabeth, Kathy, Cindy and Claire S for talking back to me and Kathy! Kathy asked when people are able to fit their sewing into their lives.

I think the best overall summary is that EVERYONE is BUSY and each person does the best she can to find those moments that fit into her life... Some prefer sewing in the mornings and tend to make mistakes if they try to do too much sewing in the evenings. Others only sew at night, because they are interrupted too much during the day. Some prefer weekends, while others primarily sew during the week.

Cause described the system that she uses to space her sewing out over 30-45 minute blocks of time that she can fit into her evenings after work. She has figured out how to divide the whole process of sewing a single garment into stages (kind of like "bite-sized chunks"). If you are struggling to find a way to fit sewing into your life, check out her system (here)!

This reminds me of a tip that I read once for those times when you are splitting your sewing across multiple sessions. The author recommended that you always end one session by doing all the prep work for the next session. For example, even if you don't have time to start sewing in your current session, take the time to fill the bobbin and thread the machine. Similarly, if you don't have time to sew the hem, at least mark it and/or pin it up. The idea is that, if the prep work is done, it'll be easier to get up and running and be productive during your next session. In addition, the author argued that if the prep work is already done, you'll be less likely to procrastinate picking up your project again! Does anyone do this? (I try to.) What do you think?

So, back to your answers to Kathy's question, I guess it just goes to show that sewing is our passion and no matter how busy we are, we find a way to do the things that we love! :)

Thanks again, everyone! :)

Photo credit: John-Morgan

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Questions and Answers

The most important questions in life can never be answered by anyone except oneself.
--John Fowles

Luckily, I've recently been asked a few slightly-less-important questions that I CAN answer for you. ;)

On my most recent "How Much Fabric?" series table (dresses), Kathy asked for the pattern number for the Vogue (full-skirted) shirtdress (that needs the maximum yardage in 45 in width fabric).

Answer: It is Vogue 8577.

NancyK asked what I do for a living.

Answer: Somehow I don't think it will come as a surprise to anyone to learn that I crunch numbers for a living. More specifically, I am a Psychological Researcher and I design experiments, collect and analyze data, and write reports. My area of interest is the effective use of technology in education and training.

Someone (anonymous) asked why I don't have sizes smaller than 6 in my table, and in particular she needs help for size 2.

Answer: Very few of the hundreds and hundreds of patterns that I have found so far include size 4, and NONE of them include size 2. I haven't included the size 4 numbers because there were so few patterns that I don't trust the data to be representative. For example, in the dress table, where the size 12 average is based on 344 patterns, I only had 35 size 4 patterns. I'm sorry - all I can suggest is to use the size 6 figures (and have a little extra fabric) or only buy fabric when you have a specific pattern in your hand.

NancyK also mentioned that she finds estimating for dresses a lot more difficult than estimating for pants, because of the wide variety of types of dress styles.

Response: You're not kidding! I was really blown away by the variety in styles and fabric requirements while I was populating the dress table! In fact, I put more than twice as many patterns into this table as any of the others, just to try to deal with that variability (to make the averages stable).

The only perfect solution, of course, is to have the actual pattern that you plan to make in your hand when you purchase the fabric. My main table is most helpful if you have a concrete idea of the style that you plan to make. If you're fuzzy on that, then I hope that my "safety margin" table will help by letting you know the impact of adding different amounts to the average (say 1/2 yard versus 1 yard).

Speaking of variability, I'm expecting a similar challenge with the tops table, so it may take another week before I get it up. Sorry for the delay and thanks for your patience!

Thanks so much for your comments and your encouragement! This has turned into a big project and it means a lot to hear from you! :)

Photo credit: tj scenes