It's the kind of task to do during mindless TV watching. I'm not sure exactly when these will all get done, but don't worry, I'll get to them. They're in the queue...
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
And here's a chain ready for transportation to the loom:
Finally, approximately one-third of the warp threaded through the reed:
In sewing news, I did hand stitch the facing around the waist band on my (very) pink skirt. I still have to secure the lace more permanently - but hope to be able to wear it to work one day this week. I hope everyone had a great weekend! :)
Friday, September 25, 2009
Today we have a guest question from Cindy, of Learn2SewFlorida. Apparently, some of her new students get discouraged when they have to use a seam ripper on a project. She thinks that their expectations might be a little bit unrealistic, but would like to hear from all of you - how often do you have to use your seam ripper? Does it come out for all of your projects? most of them? some of them? How often are you able to complete a garment without using a seam ripper a single time? (Maybe you could add in how long you've been sewing, as I know that some of you are very experienced!)
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Ripley's powerloader in "Aliens" -
just about the only tool not mentioned for the sewing room! ;)
Thank you so much to CarlaF, Cindy, Mamafitz, Towanda, Gaylen, M.Soto, Jen, Elaina, Becky, MeredithP, and Summerset for "talking back" last week! I asked what are the basic tools that should be in a sewing room, and got LOTS of excellent answers!
Between those 11 commenters, over 50 items were listed as candidate sewing room tools! In order to make sense of it all, I’ve attempted to group those items into logical clusters. As usual, within each category I will list the items in order from most mentioned to least mentioned, and give the number of people who called out each item in parentheses.
The Room Itself / Furniture
- Cutting table (5)
- Good desk / cabinet for your machine(s) (3)
- Plenty of storage space and/or storage containers (3)
- Good lighting/lamps (3)
- Dress form (3)
- Method to display fabric (Elaina mentioned using the cardboard inserts from fabric bolts from fabric stores) (2)
- Good chair (1)
- Smooth floor (1)
- Hanging board for rulers, scissors, etc. (1)
- Cork board (1)
Machines & Machine Accessories
- Sewing machine (8)
- Accessory feet for your machine (7)
- Serger (7)
- Extra machine needles (2)
- Extra bobbins (2)
- Coverstitch machine (2)
- Buttonhole attachment (1)
- Bobbin winder (1)
- Computer (1)
- Industrial sewing machine (1)
- Magnetic seam guide (1)
- Good iron (9)
- Ironing board and/or ironing mat (8)
- Pressing cloths (esp. silk organza) (4)
- Ham (4)
- Sleeve board (3)
- Point presser and/or clapper (2)
- Steam press (1)
- Dry press for interfacing (1)
- Seam stick (1)
- Manila folder to press open seams (1)
- Good scissors (9)
- Seam ripper (7)
- Cutting mat (6)
- Snips (5)
- Rotary cutter (5)
- Measuring (or seam) gauge (7)
- Measuring tape (6)
- Straight edge ruler (5)
- Yardstick (1)
- Curved ruler (1)
- Set of dressmaker’s rulers (1)
- Marking tools (chalk, paper & wheel, water soluble pens, etc.) (7)
- Embroidery thread for tailor’s marks (1)
Pins and Needles
- Pins and pin cushion (7)
- Hand needles (4)
- Magnet for finding needles on the floor (1)
- Awl /bodkin (2)
- Tracing paper (1)
- Point & tube turners (1)
- Clothes pins (1)
- Coat hangers (1)
- Hammer (for eyelets, snaps, etc.) (1)
- Plastic drop cloth (can be used for muslins, pattern drafting, etc.) (1)
- Bamboo skewers (I’m not sure what these are for – maybe to get people to tell you their actual measurements?) (1)
Possibly Most Important “Tool”:
Ultimate Dream Sewing Room:
- An unlimited budget!
Is this a great list, or what? :) There was a lot of agreement on the basics, some tools I've never heard of, and some really ingenious ideas!
Possibly the most agreed upon point was to make sure that your scissors and your iron are good quality - apparently these are not things to skimp on!
You may want to read the comments for yourself, as people elaborated more than I have been able to in this summary.
Oh, and I still want a powerloader - maybe I can tell my husband I need it for the garden...? ;)
Thanks again everyone! Have I mentioned recently that you guys rock? :)
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I did spend about 15 minutes studying the piece of paper, and I believe that I have isolated the relevant subsections and determined approximately which stage of the weaving process each is referring to... ;)
Sunday, September 20, 2009
I've seen this before and I think it's kind of a pain. Once I saw an alternative way to fold the fabric and I use this a lot now. I fold the two cut edges inward to meet in the middle. This gives me two folded edges - double the length of the folded edge that you typically get:
And here are a couple of other notes on the pattern:
I went ahead and basted the seam shut. Then I pressed the seam open and flat. I basted a guide row of stitches along each side of the center and then separated the two sides. Then I hand stitched the zipper in - one side at a time - stitching along the guide line.
So, it didn't come out perfectly, but I did like the control that I had over the placement! And it didn't really take that long. (As many of you said!) I think I'll try this again. :)
It felt so good to be sewing again! I still have to hand stitch the facing down, and attach the lace permanently (right now it's just hand basted through the center). I had to stop because I hurt my right index finger climbing yesterday, and it turns out that your right index fingers plays an important role in hand stitching - who knew? ;)
I hope everyone is having (or had) a great sewing weekend!
Friday, September 18, 2009
Last week I compared a sewing room to a kitchen pantry, and asked what supplies you stock up on. You told me that your equivalents to salt, pepper and olive oil are interfacing, elastic and thread.
This week, let's move from the kitchen to the garage - what are the basic tools that every sewing room should have? What are your equivalents to hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches and drills?
If you had a friend who just finished her first sewing class and wanted to set up her own sewing room, what are the basic tools that you would tell her to get?
And don't forget your dream sewing room - what special tool(s) will you buy when you win the lottery? ;)
Photo credit: barto
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Thank you so much to Carla F, Goodworks1, Cindy, Faye Lewis, Mamafitz, SunnyQ, Lois K, Elaina and Summerset for talking back to my confesison last week! I asked what basic supplies people keep stocked up in their sewing rooms.
Okay, seriously? Apparently I need to go shopping! ;)
Here is a list of the sewing room staples that were mentioned, ordered from most to least commonly called out, with the number of people who keep each item stocked up provided in parentheses:
- Elastic, assorted types and widths (7)
- Interfacing, assorted thicknesses (7)
- Thread, assorted colors (6)
- Zippers, assorted colors & sizes (6)
- Sewing machine needles (5)
- Hand needles (3)
- Hem tape (3)
- Muslin (3)
- Bias tape (2)
- Silk organza (2)
- Hooks & eyes / vintage hooks (2)
- Buttons (1)
- Canvas for purses (1)
- Lace & assorted trims (1)
- Lining (1)
- Snaps (1)
- Starch (1)
- Tracing paper (1)
Originally I had reported that the only thing I stock is interfacing, but reading your lists made me realize that this is not true. I also stock up on sewing machine needles, tracing paper and buttons (I buy those little packets of cheap plastic buttons in a color theme for all the Hawaiian shirts that I make for my husband!). And I stock up on magnetic purse clasps (not that I make that many purses, but none of my local stores carry them, so I need a supply on hand) and all of the supplies that I use to make chalk bags – Velcro, cord (for drawstrings), cord stops, felt and canvas for the 2 inner layers and strapping.
Photo credit: exfordy
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I fell in love with this beautiful pink cotton print fabric:
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Ever since I created the first “How Much Fabric?” table, I thought how nice it would be to have it printed on a small, sturdy plastic card that I could carry around in my purse. The more tables I made, the more I refined my ideas (like adding the Safety Margin table) and the more positive feedback I got here on my blog, the more I was convinced that I had something really useful here.
So, here is my surprise and the secret that has been keeping me busy all summer: I finally stopped staring up the steps! I teamed up with 3 friends and together we embarked on the “venture”.
- Christine and I beefed up all of the tables with even more patterns (over 2,000 in total now!) and used statistical tests to make sure that the averages were stable.
- Beth (aka MissBlackPepper of Etsy) designed beautiful cards that contained the tables and are illustrated with sketches representing examples of minimum, maximum and average clothes in each category.
- While a printer was manufacturing the cards, Susan designed and built a web site,
And here is an example of the Tops card (front and back):
Here's more about how to use them:
I am going to leave the earlier versions of the tables up on my blog. Of course, the cards are better. ;) The tables on the cards are based on many more patterns, so they are more accurate and reliable. Also, each card has a safety margin table (unlike the first two tables on my blog). The cards are sturdy and compact, convenient to carry in a purse, and they have Beth’s beautiful sketches to help you visualize what the numbers represent in terms of outfits. But, I figured you might want to refer to the blog while you are waiting for your card set to arrive in the mail! ;)
And now, without further ado, the “How Much Fabric?” Series: Tops Table!
A beautiful color catches your eye... You reach out and touch - the texture is to die for! You MUST have that fabric! But, how much should you buy? Obviously, the ideal situation is if you have the perfect pattern in your hand - it will tell you exactly how much you need. But sometimes life isn't perfect and gorgeous fabric comes into our lives before we have a pattern picked out. ;)
Well, if you think the fabric will make the perfect top, maybe this table will help. Just like with my previous skirts, pants, jacket and dress tables, I collected top patterns and entered the required fabric amounts into a spreadsheet, broken down by fabric width and top size, and calculated the following table of minimun, maximum and average fabric requirements.
Approximately 250 patterns went into this table (note that the table on the Tops card includes numbers from over 500 patterns). Which companies? Oh, the usual suspects: Simplicity, McCalls, Butterick, Vogue, Burda, Neue Mode, New Look, Hot Patterns, Kwik Sew and some BWOF magazines.
Of course, even with a table like this, you still need to have a rough idea of the type of top you might make, and you still need to estimate the amount of fabric to buy. I like the table because I feel like using it helps me start my estimating from a solid foundation.
Remember that an "average" is a number that approximates the middle value - that means that there are a lot of patterns just above it, as well as a lot of patterns just under it. So if you think you are going to make an “average” top, you should buy a little bit more than the average number listed in the table above. But how much should you add? This “Safety Margin” table should help you decide, based on how large of a safety margin YOU personally prefer! :)
Not surprisingly, the pattern requiring the minimum amount of fabric is a tank top:
Finally, here are 2 patterns illustrating tops that you can make with the maximum values of 45 inch wide fabric (first picture - view D) and of 60 inch wide fabric (second picture - both views).
Friday, September 11, 2009
Several of my cookbooks have a special section called something like "The Well Stocked Pantry" that lists the supposed "basics" that everyone should always have on hand. I got to thinking about sewing rooms the other day, and wondered if there is an analog?
Pretty much the only thing that I keep stocked in my sewing room is interfacing. I buy that in bulk. I buy all of the rest of my supplies as specific projects call for them.
How about you? Do you keep your sewing room stocked with any supplies? Is there anything that you consider a basic staple in your sewing room? Or do you buy supplies on a "just-in-time" basis, as each project calls for them? (Note: I'll ask about basic tools next week.)
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Thank you so much to Lee, CarlaF, Goodworks1, Cole's Corner, Mamafitz, Summerset, Cindy, Gwen, Claire S, Joannely, Webfrau, Faye Lewis, Elaina and Sarah for "talking back" to my confession last week. I confessed that I never put hooks and eyes into my garments.
People were very evenly split on this issue.
For example, 5 people reported never or rarely putting them in, 4 people reported putting them in sometimes (depending on the garment) and 4 people reported usually or always putting them in.
Similarly, regarding the hand stitching aspect, 5 people reported not enjoying hand stitching and 5 people reported not minding or even liking doing the hand stitching (and other little finishing details on a garment).
It doesn’t get more evenly divided than that! ;)
On the “no, thanks” side of the house, a few people took the position that it is possible, and possibly even desirable, to install your zipper or buttons right to the top of the outfit, such that a hook and eye aren’t necessary.
However, two specific situations were mentioned when a hook and eye could be a godsend – Cindy brought up strapless dresses. If the zipper breaks, the hook and eye will be the only thing standing between you and a Janet Jackson moment!
Joannely mentioned wedding dresses, and how connecting a hook and eye at the top can be a huge help when you are trying to pull up the zipper on a heavy (and tight!) gown!
Finally, a few people talked about taking the hook and eye to what I think of as a couture level. Mamafitz and Elaina mentioned that they don’t use the metal eyes – they make thread eyes by hand. (And I’m sure they are not the only ones among the commenters.) Joannely and Webfrau brought up how beautiful and special it is when the hooks are covered with thread. Both Webfrau and Sarah are reminded of their connection to earlier generations of seamstresses by these special hand stitches.
Thanks again to everyone who took the time to respond! These confessions of mine would be pretty dull if you didn’t “talk back” to me! ;)
Don’t forget to come by this weekend – I’m going to post my final table for the “How Much Fabric?” series (Tops), and I’ve got an announcement to make!
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Thank you to everyone who signed up for my 300th post give-away! A random drawing produced the winner: Aminat! Congratulations!
All I need is your email address, so that I can have the gift certificate emailed to you. Please send me an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope everyone will try again, when I have another Kiva gift certificate give-away for my 400th post! :)
And I hope everyone will stop by this weekend to see my "How Much Fabric?" Tops Table and read about my surprise!
Monday, September 7, 2009
Saturday, September 5, 2009
The email that I got from IBOL Guy said that the Iraqis love green, but don't go in for cutesy cartoon character prints. So, I picked these 2 homespun plaids (thinking that they would make nice shirts for men or boys):
Sammy, sweet and considerate as usual, was eager to help me pack the box:
I topped off my bundle with a zipper, some buttons and two spools of thread, all in the same color scheme:
Here it is - all ready to ship!
If you get a chance, take advantage of the Labor Day sales and make up your own Iraqi Bundle of Love! It'll never be easier to do something personal (rather than just sending money - not that that's a bad thing) to help another seamstress. Besides, what a great excuse to go shopping! ;)
Friday, September 4, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Thank you so much to Sew-Ann, Ivalyn, Donna, Uta, Summerset, Mary, Gwen, Elaina, Becky and Sarah for talking back to my confession last Friday!
There were also a number of comments that represented a more moderate position. Many of you do find inspiration in fashion magazines and blogs, high end catalogs and web sites. Some commenters said that they do try to keep their wardrobes at least somewhat current (or at least, as Gwen said, not be too outdated!). And a couple of people pointed out that, even if you don’t like an entire high fashion look, you can often take away a detail here or there and incorporate it into your own work in a fresh and interesting way.
I think that Uta made a very interesting point along these lines. She reminded me that fashion repeats itself (kind of like history!) and that the same basic styles are often reincarnated in different “new” trends. What this means to her is that she can often find something within a current trend that allows her to remain true to her own particular taste.
Finally, a couple of commenters do truly stay on top of the industry. Summerset, for example, has identified some designers and design houses that consistently reflect her personal style, and she follows their work. Similarly, Elaina spends at least some of her time inhabiting the fashion world – she knows some designers personally and reads industry publications, rather than the mainstream fashion magazines on the newsstands.
My favorite line came from Elaina, who said, “Style is much different from fashion” – and this leads to the theme that was common across all of the different responses. People who sew know themselves and know their styles – whether they look for those styles to be reflected in the fashion industry or not. ;)
Thanks again to everyone who took the time to respond! Your comments always get me thinking!
Photo credit: Mac Babs - Bárbara Bessa
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
I've decided to make it official - I will mark each multiple of 100 posts with a give-away of a $50 gift certificate to Kiva, a nonprofit organization that allows people to chip in small amounts of money to fund loans for people with small businesses in third world countries.
Personally, I have contributed towards 4 Kiva loans. All were to women who work as seamstresses or tailors. My first two loans have been repaid in full.
25% of my third loan, to Mariza Gonzalez (Paraguay), has been repaid so far:
My 4th loan, to Firuza Samadova (Tajikistan), is newly let, and there have not been any repayments yet:
The way the give-away works is that the winner will receive a $50 gift certificate to Kiva and will be able to review the loan requests and select the one to which she (or he) wishes to contribute. Once the loan is repaid, the winner may apply the funds towards another loan, OR remove the funds from the Kiva system and buy something special for her (or his) sewing. It will be completely up to you! :)
If you would like to be considered, just leave a comment. I'll leave the comments open for a week, and do a random drawing and announce the winner next Wednesday. Good luck! :)