Friday, November 27, 2009

Weekend Project: A Pocket Full of Rye

"When one has much to put into them, a day has a hundred pockets."

--Friedrich Nietzsche

Every once in a while someone at work asks me to do some small sewing favor. It's rare enough, and it is often a new (and hence interesting) experience, so I don't mind. Last week, a friend asked if I'd repair the bottom of the pockets on her husband's favorite pair of shorts. Both front pockets had frayed open at the bottom:

At first I thought I'd just serge them closed, but upon reflection I decided that using bias tape might make the new seams more secure against future fraying. I probably should have done it like binding on a quilt (with the binding showing on both sides), but I've never been good at that... :(

So, I did it like a hem. I folded the tape in half and pinned it with the raw edges along the bottom of the pocket.

After sewing it on, I folded it over and sewed it again, with a box for extra sturdiness. I did make a small clip where the bottom of the pocket met the side of the pants, to allow it to fold cleanly. I hope that clip doesn't become a weak point.

What do you think? Was this a good idea? Will it be a strong repair? Would you have done something differently if it had been your project?

So, I also spent a bit of time this weekend working on my next batch of kitchen towel Christmas gifts. This set is not waffle weave - it's a flat fabric. I think these are beautiful colors!

This is the first project that I've warped correctly the first time, and did not have to redo a single threading! Yay! :)

Preparing the loom takes me several days, but once the loom is warped, the weaving goes quickly!

Finally, an Oliver update. We're giving him free run of the house 24/7 now and he loves it! He thinks he is a "big cat" just like Sammy and Milly. His kitten food is still in the guest bathroom, along with his kitten litter box - but when we feed the big cats he runs into the kitchen all excited and tries to eat out of their bowls. And, of course, he has started using their big litter box - even though he has to practically scale the side to get in! ;)

Milly shows no signs of warming up to him (although as long as he stays clear of her, she lets him alone). Sammy, on the other hand, wants to play with Oliver. What is funny is that neither of them seems to know exactly how to go about it. One will make a playful move toward the other, and then they will both look a little alarmed and separate. But it's definitely progress!

Parting shot: Oliver in a rare moment of quiet.

PS - I'm generally trying to keep my blog and our fledgling business separate, but Christine and I will be taking advantage of the Sew, Mama, Sew audience and participating in their Holiday Give-Away this week. So, instead of an "In the Queue Wednesday" post, on 2 December I'll announce a give-away of a set of the "How Much Fabric?" Reference Cards. I hope many of you will sign-up! And make sure you check out all the other wonderful give-aways that will be announced on the Sew, Mama, Sew blog! :)

Giving Thanks for Talking Back

Oliver wanted to help me say "Thank you!" to Meredith, Lisa Laree, Cindy, Cole's Corner, Gwen, Summerset, Julia, BConky, Elaina and Becky for talking back to my confession last Friday! :)
I confessed that we had allowed ourselves to be adopted by Oliver, and asked for stories of how your furry, four-legged friends had come into your lives.

What I got back was ten wonderful stories of people opening up their hearts and homes (sometimes, perhaps, a bit reluctantly at first) and getting back years of companionship, laughter and joy, with a dash of aggravation mixed in for good measure! ;)

There's no way I can do justice to those stories in this post - if a furry creature has ever made a home in your heart, then you'll want to read the originals! (here)

And to all a good night.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

In the Queue Wednesday

Thank you to everyone for your well wishes! I'm doing a bit better - although not 100% yet... It sounds like some kind of nasty bug has been doing the rounds - my holiday wish is that it by-passes all of you and your families for the rest of this season.

My queue has been over-run with Thanksgiving cooking plans. Turkey, stuffing, ham, sweet potatoes, deviled eggs, dilled green beans, etc. - the whole shebang! This is my favorite holiday and favorite meal of the whole year!

How about you? What are your plans for the holiday? I hope your day is filled with good food and the joy and laughter of being with family and good friends! :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Weekend Project: Holding the Bed Down

Not exactly what I had planned, but sometimes you don't have a choice... :(

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Confession

We have done something very, very foolish...

Yes, our household has a new member. I would like to introduce you to Oliver.

"Why?" you ask.

Funny, that is exactly what Sammy and Milly (the long-term feline residents of the house) are asking - only in a more dramatically aggrieved tone of voice - "Why?!?! What did we ever do to deserve this?!?! How could you?!?!"

What can I say? A neighbor found him in the street, abandoned, starving and flea infested. And we are suckers. And our vet has another car payment in the bank. ;)

Four days later, feeling safe in his new home, flea-less and with a full belly, he is proving to be head-strong, feisty and affectionate.

You'll be seeing him again - probably tangled up in my weaving yarn! ;)

In the meantime, how about you? Any "sucker" stories for me? :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to Gwen, Carla, Cindy, Shannon, Tamara and Elaina for talking back last week! I asked about people's experiences with sewing for charity.

As busy as we all are, pretty much everyone has done at least a little charitable sewing. And I learned about a ton of opportunities! Here are some of the causes that were mentioned:

The 100 Skirt Project - a blogger named Charity started a project to sew 100 pairs of coordinated skirts and tops to send to an orphanage in Central America. The project is over now, but the story and pictures are heartwarming!

Project Linus - Make blankets for children in need.

Craft Hope - Make blankets, onesies, booties, cloth dolls and burp cloths for children in need all around the world.

Ronald McDonald House - Make quilts and pillowcases for families staying here and for their hospitalized children.

Compassion Pregnancy - Make onesies and blankets for newborns.

ASG Charities - Gwen mentioned that most sewing organizations regularly sponsor a cause, and I fouond this set of causes on the ASG website:

Other ideas included wheelchair caddies for veterans, bibs for nursing home residents, sewing for local homeless shelters. And Cindy pointed out that there are other ways to use our love of sewing to help others, including things like providing volunteer sewing lessons.

Lots and lots of great ideas for charitable sewing in 2010! If people want to send me more, I'll set up a section of links on my side column as a resource. Thanks again, everyone for taking the time to share your favorite causes! :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

In the Queue Wednesday

Have you noticed how the internet is organized into little clusters of inter-linked sites? For example, most of the blogs that I read link to (and read) each other. It's as if we form one little neighborhood and we all are (pretty much) familiar with our neighbors in this particular community.

But there are other pockets of sewing-related blogs and sites out there that are highly inter-connected, but don't happen to link to our neighborhood and we, for the most part, aren't linked into them.

You think you know the "internet sewing world", and then you stumble onto one of those other clusters and realize that there's another whole inter-connected sewing community that is new to you...

So, this happened to me recently, when I came across the blog entitled "The Scientific Seamstress". With my penchant for crunching and summarizing numbers, you can probably guess why this title appealed to me! ;)

Carla designs her own patterns, and the newest addition to my queue is her adult sized Easy Fit Pants pattern:

This is an elastic waist, "one seam" pants pattern (actually 2, of course - crotch and inner leg - but no outer side seam) for a comfortable, wide leg fit. Carla is known for her detailed and well-illustrated instructions, so I'm looking forward to seeing those for myself. This pattern also features an equal front and back rise - I'm curious to see how that works.

I'm sure it will come as no surprise to ANYONE that I chose bright and busy, heart-themed pink flannel for the pants, with a contrasting (yet still heart-themed) brown flannel for the cuff:

These will be pajama bottoms, just for lounging around the house. Don't worry, my husband can take all that pink cuteness - by now he is used to it! ;)

I'm not sure exactly when, but don't worry, I'll get to these... They're in the queue! :)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Weekend Project: Imperfection by Design?

You grow up the day you have your first real laugh - at yourself.

--Ethel Barrymore

Do you know the Greek myth of Arachne? She was a very skilled weaver and grew so arrogant that she challenged the goddess Athena to a weaving competition. As you can imagine, this doesn't go well for Arachne. You didn't want to annoy those Greek gods, and Arachne ended up a spider. And the lesson that some drew from this story is that no project should ever be done perfectly, but some small imperfection should always be deliberately included to avoid drawing the negative attention of the gods.

The thing I like about this story, is that it offers a good explanation for those little mistakes that always pop up in my projects! Oh, I did that on purpose... That's my story and I'm sticking to it! ;)

So, now that I have properly prepared you for an update on my weaving... ;)

I had a day off this week (Veteran's Day) and put the time towards my Christmas project of weaving kitchen towels. I finished warping the 402 threads, with only one serious threading mistake that had to be fixed.

And two minor mistakes, of the type that can be excu... ooops, I mean, explained, by Arachne's story. Here's one of them - see where two sea green threads line up together, instead of alternating like they should?

The kit is supposed to make 3 towels, one each of the colors blue, white and purple. I started with the blue weft:

After I finished the blue towel, I added a few "shots" of a thick white yarn, to separate the first towel from the second.

And then I started the second towel, with white weft.

Once the loom was fully warped, the weaving itself went quickly! :)


On a completely different "note"...

Would you like to hear the most beautiful love song ever written? My husband just wrote it for me. On the right side column look for his music player and click on the song "Your Voice Singing". It's just short of 2.5 minutes long. Here are the lyrics to read along as he sings:

When there's no breeze to stir the heather,

When you can hear the falling of a feather,

When you can hear a lone grasshopper springing,

I hear the sound of your voice singing.

When hurricanes send waves a-bashing

And lightening skies send thunder crashing

Though sirens wail and bells be ringing,

I hear the sound of your voice singing.

Through all the miles I've put behind me,

Your song has never failed to find me,

And when I to my last breath be clinging,

I'll hear the sound of your voice singing.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Confession

Remember those UNICEF trick-or-treat boxes we used to take around on Halloween when we were kids? Do they still do that anywhere? We certainly haven't had any kids come to our house with these boxes in the 23 years that we've been in Florida...

Speaking of charity, today's confession/question is about charitable sewing. I have done a little bit. I made 50 flannel pillowcases for an organization that takes gift baskets to children in the hospital. That project was a lot of fun! When else do you get an excuse to buy 50 different adorable flannel prints? And the pillowcases sewed up so quickly and easily.

I have also started sewing for "Sew Much Comfort", an organization that makes special clothing for vets - clothing that has velcro closures along a side for ease in putting on and taking off over casts and braces, etc. But I am woefully behind in sewing for them. I have a stack of flannel plaids sitting in my sewing room waiting to be turned into pajama bottoms... :(

Hmmm... Now that I think of it, seems like all of my charitable sewing has revolved around flannel... That's kind of odd, isn't it? ;)

So, how about you? Do you, or have you done, charitable sewing? If so, I'd love to hear about your causes and your projects! :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to Gwen, Wendy, Kristine, Amelia, Mamafitz, Lois, Cindy, Faye, Carla, Alison, Uta, Summerset, Goodworks1 and Elaina for talking back to my confession last week! I asked about people’s experiences with tissue fitting.

So, I think it's fair to say that tissue fitting is not THE most popular fitting method out there. ;) A couple of folks reported never having tried it, half a dozen said that they aren't fans and rarely (if ever) do it, and three people reported feeling that it was a useful skill in their repertoire, to accomplish certain objectives and in combination with other fitting methods.

The most commonly called out alternative fitting methods were, not surprisingly, flat pattern alterations (often in conjunction with a sloper or TNT pattern) and making a muslin.

People brought up 4 main concerns with tissue fitting - the primary one being that the tissue paper can easily rip and/or disintegrate (5 commenters). Also mentioned were the facts that tissue paper doesn't drape or move like fabric (2), it's difficult to tissue fit yourself (2) and you can't easily do patterns that call for knits or lycra (1).

On the "pro" side, several people like tissue fitting (or at least holding up tissue pattern pieces to a body) to get a quick feel for overall sizing. Cindy, for example, uses it to convince her students that they really do need to use the size that she is recommending! Goodworks1 uses it to estimate the bust point adjustment she's going to need to make to a pattern, and Lois uses it for patterns that don't easily compare (in flat form) to a sloper, such as a pattern with pleats.

Elaina is the strongest proponent of tissue fitting. She offered some work-arounds for the cons, like fitting to your dress form instead of to your own body. The idea of hers that I found most intriguing was that she doesn't pin the tissue pieces together - rather she pins each separately to a close fitting garment that she can slip on and off. She also recommended the book Modern Pattern Design by H. Pepin as a good source of fitting methods. (By the way, I found an online version of that book - here.)

Thanks again to everyone who commented! I learn so much from you all! :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In the Queue Wednesday

Another Christmas gift / weaving project in my queue... Most people asked for waffle weave towels, but a couple of friends loved the colors in these kitchen tea towels. It's another kit from Halcyon Yarn and this one makes 8 towels. The amount of time it takes me to warp (thread or prepare) my loom is ridiculously long compared to the amount of time it takes me to weave a couple of towels (kind of like using the serger!), so I like the one-warp-to-eight-towels ratio of this kit! ;)

Well, I can't guarantee that they'll be done before 25 December, but don't worry, I'll get to them... They're in the queue! ;)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Weekend Project: Halfsie

The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.
--Stephen R. Covey

As promised, a post with actual sewing content! I followed Mr. Covey's advice and started working on the onesie for my friend Susan's baby boy (due after the New Year). Despite the title of this post, I'm actually more than half-way done.

I think I already mentioned that the two fronts are not symmetrical - here is a shot of the right front (which will tuck inside):

And here is a shot of the left front, which will wrap around on the outside:

There were several pattern pieces for little strips of fabric, not cut on the bias, for edging around the legs:

Here I have the facing pinned onto the garment (right sides together). This is the seam that is giving me grief, as my wooly nylon thread keeps breaking every time I try to serge it... :(

There's a cute little tab snap to hold the right front together on the inside:

Other than the thread breaking repeatedly on that one seam, this has been a fun pattern to put together. I had to walk away from the serger for an hour or so, or one of us was going down... (No guarantees on which one, however, as that machine is darn tough!)

If I can get that seam done without any more interruptions, there is maybe 30 minutes left of sewing to do. I think I'll make this pattern again!

I hope you had a good sewing weekend! :)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Confession

So, I have never tried tissue fitting.

How about you? Have you tried it? Do you like it? Why or why not? If you don't do tissue fitting, what method do you use to ensure the fit of a garment?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to Christine, Julia, Mamafitz, Gwen, Elaina, Uta, Cindy, Summerset, Becky and Sandy for talking back to my confession last Friday! With Halloween almost upon us, I asked about costume making experiences...

So, do we do costumes? Oh my goodness, do we do costumes!

Of course, there were LOTS of children's costumes mentioned, like Mamafitz's superhero son pictured here:

For children's costumes, people called out:

ANIMALS - like a giraffe, monkey, fish, starfish, ladybug, turtle, dragon, dog, cat, Hello Kitty, one-eyed one-horned flying purple people eater, Quack and a bionic bunny!

CHARACTERS - like Pocahontas, Sacagawea, Pippi Longstocking, Nancy Drew, Indiana Jones, Flintstones and the little boy from "Where the Wild Things Are".

Check out the amazing Sharpay (from High School Musical) costume that Sandy made for her niece here and Cindy's very own Ghost Buster and Twilight character here (scroll down to see)!

TRADITIONAL - like a princess, fairy, witch, angel, mermaid, sleeping beauty, jester, cowgirl, cheerleader, Spiderman, Zorro, pirate, and ninja.

Check out more of Mamafitz's great costumes over the years - doctor, archer (NOT Robin Hood), and Caesar and Uta made this wonderful witch costume without using a pattern!

And there were some odds and ends, like a pumpkin, a flower in a pot, a shrimp sushi, an Egyptian and a spooky dead bride.

At the same time, I was surprised by how many people reported making costumes for themselves – for costume parties (such as New Year’s Eve parties), carnivals and renaissance fairs. Summerset, for example, has made herself a German maiden costume and a Barbie costume!

Here is a picture of one of Becky's many beautiful Lord of the Rings inspired costumes!

Check out some of her other costumes:
an angel, Eowyn #1, Eowyn #2, pirate, dark fairy and the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz.

Some of my favorite stories were about the pairs of costumes – Cindy & her husband, for example, have gone to parties dressed as a pregnant nun and a priest! And Elaina and her son do paired-themed costumes whenever they attend a comic book convention – recently they were King Cactuar and Lulu from the Final Fantasy videogame. Isn't that cool?

All in all, only a couple of people reported waning enthusiasm for making costumes – Christine pointed out that commercial costumes are readily available and inexpensive these days and Gwen seems to have developed costume-overload last year while gluing red sequins onto an Elvis costume...

Of course, I’ve heard that happened to a lot of his actual tailors. ;)

Thanks again, to everyone for your wonderful stories and pictures!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

In the Queue Wednesday

This is the last of my fabric finds from my Missouri trip in October. It's probably some polyestor blend, and I think it will make great dress slacks for work. I'm going to draft my own pants pattern, following the instructions in the January 2008 issue of Threads magazine. I've done this before, and the results showed promise. The one thing I want to change is to make the circumference around my ankles wider - the pair I made before were a bit too narrow-legged for my taste.

So, the pretty flowy skirt fabric that I showed you last week is calling to me more loudly than these dress pants, but don't worry, I'll get to them. They're in the queue... :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Weekend Project: From Rehearsal to Performance

Her one chocolate today and it was a damn artificial damn pink-and-white damn sickly damn stupid nougat!
Well, no one could be expected to believe that counted.
--Terry Pratchett, Thief of Time

My apologies for the language. I picked this quote because I thought you might like some help with the Halloween candy! ;)

This week I pulled my practice kitchen towel off the loom and started warping a "real" one. The waffle pattern formed amazingly nicely!

As you weave, you continually wrap the completed weaving around a beam on the front of the loom. Thus, you never see more than a few inches of the fabric. It's easy to lose track of how much you have woven. For example, it appears that I accidentally went a little overboard with my practice towel...

And that's just HALF of it! ;)

Oh well, I'll know better for the real towels... Speaking of which, I spent most of the weekend preparing for the next set of towels. They will also be waffle weave, but in the combination of colors called "Sea Glass":

I'm about 1/3 of the way getting the 402 threads individually through the heddles (hanging needles).

There's no doubt that preparing the loom takes (me) much longer than the actual weaving!

I promise, cross my heart, that next weekend I'll have some SEWING progres and pictures for you!

I hope you had a wonderful weekend!