Friday, December 31, 2010
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Thank you so much to Carla, Mamafitz, Faye, Alison, Sarah, Mary, Katherine, Shannon, Elaina, Summerset and Cindy for talking back to my confession a couple of weeks ago! I brought up UFOs (unfinished objects) and asked about other peoples’ experiences with this sewing room plague…
Turns out – you guys are SAINTS! The overwhelming response (7 out of 11 commenters) was “No, I don’t really have many (or any) UFOs.”
Even among the other 4, it doesn’t appear to be a huge problem for anyone. Sarah does well with her made-from-scratch clothes, and only piles up UFOs in her mending/alteration/refashion pile. Elaina has some periodically – especially if it’s something that’s not urgent – but often doesn’t have any. Shannon does have some, but says that she eventually finishes at least 50% of them, even the long term projects like quilts. And Cindy used to have some, but now has an ingenious method for keeping herself on the straight and narrow.
Among the majority who don’t have UFOs, there were two strategies consistently mentioned. The first was just plain old self-discipline. Many people simply don’t let themselves start a new project until they finish the current one. The second was a philosophy that I’m going to adopt – if a project loses its attraction, many people are willing to toss it. They don’t let it establish a stranglehold in the sewing room and cast a pall of obligation and guilt over them.
In retrospect, that makes a lot of sense – most of us sew out of love of the craft – if you aren’t gaining anything (either a beautiful garment or a learning experience), why waste precious time on a project? Not only are you guys saints, you are also pretty darned smart! ;)
Katherine did bring up an alternative to the UFO – the USO (un-started object) – pattern & fabric sitting together, just waiting to be the chosen one. I have half a dozen USOs myself… (Sigh…)
Finally, Cindy’s scheme for avoiding UFOs – you didn’t think I wasn’t going to tell you what it is, did you? She picked up a half dozen baskets at the dollar store and puts all of the supplies for one project in each basket. Her rule – she is not allowed to start a new project until she finishes one basket project.
Okay, there’s still a heavy dose of self-discipline needed for that plan – but I think I could work within that system.
Thanks again to everyone who took the time to answer – who knew that wise saints could rock like that?
I hope everyone had a WONDERFUL Christmas full of family and love – and maybe one or two goodies for your sewing room! ;)
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
if no birds sang there except those that sang best.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
- She figured that anyone smart enough to buy her book was too smart to buy this type of "fabric"
- She didn't want to waste 2 whole pages of her book for the phrase "Put down that bolt and back away slowly..."
- Her book only covers fabric, dummy!
- All of the above
Friday, December 17, 2010
Of course, if I'm not crazy about the fabric, that means I didn't pick it out and I'm not sewing for me - it's for someone else... Or that it's a (non-wearable) muslin that I'm doing for practice before cutting into the real fabric.
So, how about you? Do you have many UFOs in your sewing room? What factors lead to you start a project, and then not finish it?
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Thank you so much to Trudy, Carla, Elaina, Rose, Cindy, Faye, Mary, Patsijean, Katherine, Lynne, Ivalyn, Julie and Mamafitz for talking back to my confession last week! I confessed that I haven’t watched any sewing DVDs (or tapes) and asked if others enjoyed them and had any recommendations.
On the general topic of sewing videos, there were 9 “yes!” votes and 4 “eh, not so much…” votes.
The most frequently called out series was the Palmer/Pletsch Fit for Real People series, with 4 votes.
And guess what tied for second place (3 votes each) with Nancy Zieman’s shows?
That caught me by surprise – you guys are much hipper than I am! (As proven by my use of the word “hip”)
The following four DVDs were each called out by two people:
And the following DVDs were each called out once:
(Note that the person who called out the Connie Crawford DVD was actually not recommending it – she felt like it was poorly produced.)
Finally, Elaina gave a shout-out to Project Runway – her favorite sewing show! ;)
Thanks again to everyone who took the time to answer! I’m going to go hit Netflix and see how many of these I can rent! ;)
Photo credit: Usako
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
What's at the top of my queue these days is a week in bed!
I am just wiped out from work travel and trying to get ready for the holidays...
I hope you are all staying on top of things and not going too crazy. :)
When am I possibly going to have the time to spend a week in bed? I don't know, but I'll get to it. It's in my queue... ;)
Photo credit: Fern R
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
We went with Ana this weekend to her church's celebration of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico's Virgin Mary. It was a wonderful afternoon that started with beautifully costumed ancient Mexican music and dance.
They played drums, a wooden flute, and blew notes through some kind of seashell!
Even the children participated, playing maracas.
Next up was a reenactment of the story of Juan Diego and the Virgin of Guadalupe. Juan Diego was a peasant, and the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared to him in a vision and asked that a church be built in her honor.
Unfortunately, the Bishop did not believe that the Virgin Mary had appeared to a lowly peasant, and demanded proof. (Or else, he threatened, he would speed away in his Dodge Ram pickup truck - seen parked just behind his desk. The environment was not ideal for picture taking...)
When Juan Diego asked the Virgin of Guadalupe to provide him with evidence, she directed him to a group of blooming flowers, even though this took place during the dead of winter.
Juan Diego collected up the flowers in his shirt and took them to show the Bishop and his monks.
Lo and behold, when he opened his shirt to show the flowers, the image of the Virgin Mary had been imprinted on his shirt.
Then everyone believed, apologized for doubting Juan Diego, and built the church where the fabric with the Virgin's image was displayed.
After the play, there was more dancing - this time a more modern dance, that reminded me of American square dancing.
My favorites were the youngest dancers - who clearly had a blast!
Being friends with Ana yielded some privileges - such as the right to pose for a picture with Juan Diego!
Scott got to try on some traditional Mexican clothes.
And what party would be complete without a pinata?
It was a great afternoon!
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
I recently got this DVD in the mail from the publisher of Sew News. I didn't order it - it's one of those promotions - if you like it, send us money and we'll keep sending you more every few months. Keep only the ones you like and return the rest (remember those late night Time Life infomercials?).
Anyways, it occurred to me that I don't actually have any sewing DVDs and I haven't ever watched any... Up until now, I have just relied on books - and that's kind of odd, because sewing is a process and so ideally suited to a "show" format...
So, do you watch sewing DVDs? Do you have a library of them? Any particular ones you recommend? Any ones you don't recommend? I'm really looking forward to reading everyone's advice on this one! :)
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Three people called out a gift that I bet everyone single one of us would love to have - more time to sew! And Cindy actually has a plan to get it - for her Christmas gift, she asked her family to chip in and help with the household chores, giving her some more free time!
While I'm not REALLY sewing any Christmas presents this year, my 2 nieces DID pick out patterns and fabric for outfits when they visited in July, and given that I've finished one outfit, I am going to try really hard to get the other one completed too (before our annual pilgrimage up to the great white north).
My older niece picked out a sparkly lilac polyestor for this blouse. The pattern is part of Simplicity's Project Runway Series - have you sewn with a pattern out of this series? I'm not crazy about it - I think they would be quite confusing for beginners - with all the little optional modules of instructions...
So, I'm on the 2nd of 3 back-to-back business trips, so I have no idea how I'm going to fit this in... But I'm going to try! It's in the queue...
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
and suddenly you're not "professional" anymore.
Don't get your hopes up - there was no mooning at our ESL class Christmas party. This deficit of bare bottoms can probably be traced back to the lack of alcohol. Something about the setting (St. Joseph's Catholic Church) suggested to me that the party probably should not be a "kegger". ;)
But we did have lots of decorations and an unbelievably delicious spread of homemade food:
While none of our 3 male students were able to attend, all 8 female students came (we picked up 2 new ones near the end of the semester) and we took the opportunity to take a class picture.
Many brought family members and luckily I was prepared with a collection of coloring books, crayons, a jigsaw puzzle and assorted card games (Old Maid, Go Fish, Uno, etc.) So even the kids had a good time!
I was surprised and amazingly happy to receive my first "teacher's gifts" - you know, the mug that says "World's Best Teacher", etc. I'm sure that the joy wears off once you've been teaching a few years and have a cupboard full of them - but that first time was pretty nice. :)
Now we have a month off - time for me to get busy preparing for the next semester!
I hope all YOUR Christmas parties go well, full moon or not... ;)
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Well, it's been crazy around here, but this weekend I did manage to squeeze in a few minutes to finish up Scott's RV Hawaiian shirt.
Whether or not it will panic the cat is an open question, as the cat in question (Oliver) is still absorbed with his self-imposed task of stripping every single ornament off the Christmas tree... (The two trains surrendered days ago.) Remind me - there is research out there that says that having a pet LOWERS blood pressure? Really?
I hope your weekend was 100% holiday joy and 0% holiday stress! :)
Friday, December 3, 2010
Of course, my favorite gift is always a gift certificate to JoAnn's. ;)
How about you? What are you hoping that "Santa" will bring for your sewing room this year? Anything too big to fit in a stocking? ;)
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Thank you so much to Faye, Patsijean, Mary, Sarah, Mamafitz, Katherine, Carla, Gwen, Cindy and Summerset for talking back to my confession last week. Some of my TNT patterns are getting pretty worn, and I asked how others deal with this issue.
By far and away, tracing pre-printed patterns onto something else (so that the originals can be preserved) was the most popular solution, with 9 out of 10 people mentioning it.
The only other proposal was to reinforce the existing pattern with cheap, light weight interfacing - 2 people called that out.
And Katherine doesn't worry much about preserving patterns, because her motto is: "So many patterns, so little time..." ;)
The variety in the answers came on the topic of what to use for tracing.
The most commonly given option was some form of official tracing paper - such as Swedish tracing paper (2 votes), PatternEaseTM (1 vote) and pattern making paper (1 vote).
(Note how you can buy ANYTHING from amazon.com these days - pretty soon you'll be able to adopt an orphan or find a mail-order husband through that site...)
Two people also called out tissue paper. Sarah gave a bonus hint for using the tissue paper - she uses different colors to trace off different sizes of the same pattern, making it easy to keep the pieces organized.
On the slightly more unusual side, Cindy uses rolls of that medical exam paper that most of us are familiar with in a different capacity - sitting on in a doctor's office! And Patsijean uses 4 mill plastic sheeting that she gets from a local hardware store. She says she can get 10' x 100' rolls for about $42.
Thank you again to everyone who took the time and trouble to answer! I see some potential additions to my Christmas wish list in this post... ;)
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Overall, most people replied that yes, they (at least sometimes) make (at least some of) their Christmas presents. We only had one "no, never" vote across all of the commenters. However, many people did mention that making gifts does take a lot of time and can be stressful. Katherine, for example, perfectly described my experience, in that what seems like a good idea for the first one or two iterations of a gift, becomes much more tedious and "what was I thinking?" by the time you are working on the ninth or tenth one... ;)
And Lois used to make a lot more of her gifts until her DH pointed out how much time it was taking up and how stressed it was making her during the holiday season.
But, despite the definite challenges, most people still make at least some of their gifts. Sewing for family, called out 7 times, was definitely more common than sewing for co-workers and friends (only called out twice).
So, what do people sew for Christmas gifts? There were some clothes items mentioned - Cindy does Christmas pajamas for her whole family, Julia and Patsijean make clothes for their grandchildren, and Patsijean and Tasia are making clothes for the men in their lives this year. But I was surprised by the large variety of other gifts that people have made: items mentioned included lots of home decor items like throw pillows and pot holders, purses and assorted tote bags, Christmas stockings, cases for everything from pencils to eye glasses, covers for composition books, dolls, felt games - you name it, someone has made it! :)
Finally, there were a couple of gifts mentioned where the object itself was secondary to the nature of the gift - these are gifts of memories. Cindy makes a new 12-block lap blanket for her Mom each year, and each block has a recent picture of the grandchildren on it.
And Julia's plan for this year inspired my choice of a photo for this post. She is thinking about taking fabric scraps from all the outfits she has made for her grandchildren in the past and using them to make Christmas tree ornaments. The wall hanging in my photo was a gift to me from one of my sewing students - who took scraps from all the outfits we made together during our lessons and created a tree for me... Talk about a gift of happy memories! :)
Store-bought or hand-made - the important thing about our gifts is that they show how we feel about our friends and family. If we can find a way to combine that with our love of sewing, without getting too stressed out, that's great. But if not, that's fine too. It's amazing how often this holiday that is supposed to be about sharing joy can turn stressful. I hope everyone is able to enjoy their holiday this year! :)
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Lesson learned last class: It turns out that it doesn't matter if you are 5 or 50 - being tricked at "Simon Says" is funny!
Monday, November 29, 2010
No sewing over the weekend - instead we got started on creating our most glorious mess...
The Christmas tree.
The Christmas village.
And, most importantly to grown-up boys everywhere...
The Christmas train.
Friday, November 26, 2010
How do you protect your TNT patterns?
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
My grandfather used to wear flannel shirts all the time. After he passed away, my grandmother started wearing his shirts to feel close to him. Eventually his shirts started wearing out, but by then she had grown used to always putting on a flannel shirt over her top. So, flannel shirts became the perfect gift for her.
Of course, I started sewing them for her. She grew up with people who sewed clothes without patterns, so she didn't think twice about telling me all the alterations she wanted to the fit. At the time, I hadn't ever ventured far from a pattern, and this is the first project that I ever attempted significant (to me at the time) modifications.
I merged a "small" at the shoulders with a "medium" at the waist and shortened the sleeves.
Okay, now those don't seem like such major modifications, but at the time I felt like I was teetering on the brink of an unknown abyss! ;)
Anyways, I'm still kind of proud of the fact that my hand made shirts fit her perfectly, and she has all store-bought ones sent out for alterations.
Over the years I've made her at least half a dozen of these shirts, and she told me recently that they are all wearing out and she needs a new one.
Her feelings on color are as highly specified as her feelings on fit - she wants red in her shirts and she wears them over navy blue pants. I've long ago run through all of the appropriate offerings at my local Joann's and have started perusing online fabric shops.
I recently found the "flannel" pictured above and promptly ordered some. The colors are perfect! Unfortunately, the fabric itself is thinner than I would have liked... Oh well, it can be a summer top for her...
I'm going to try to visit her in January (because there is no place on earth more inviting in January than central Missouri!) and want to have this ready to take with me. Of course, I'm not sure when I'll get to it, but, don't worry, I will! It's in the queue... :)
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
As you may remember, I put together a CD of 14 songs and made up worksheets with the lyrics for all of those songs. Every other week we learn a song and a significant portion of those classes is devoted to having the students work in small groups to translate the lyrics into Spanish (their native language).
It turned out to be a bit more "telling" than "helping" - but we can work on that... ;)
Monday, November 22, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Most of the weekend was devoted to Thanksgiving preparations, but I did squeeze in some time to start on the trailer shirt for Scott (aka DH). I used this TNT Hawaiian shirt pattern:
One of the fun steps (for me) in making these colorful, patterned shirts is setting up a good pocket image. This time I aligned the front shirt pattern piece on the fabric such that the bright yellow VW bus would be nicely centered on the pocket.
When setting the pocket, I only had to be careful to align the wheel of the brown trailer in the upper right corner...
It was a pleasant surprise to discover that the size of the shirt and the size of the images fell into place such that the trailers are going to be lined up down the front of the shirt:
I'd like to take credit for that one, but the truth is that I just got lucky! ;)
Well, I didn't get much further than the front facings, pocket and shoulder seams - but it's a quick pattern and I should easily be able to finish it up next weekend.
I hope you had a wonderful sewing weekend and, to those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you are looking forward to the holiday! :)
Friday, November 19, 2010
For at least the last five years I've made (sewn, for the most part) Christmas gifts for my friends at work. The gifts that I can remember were:
- pencil holders
- dish towels (hand woven)
As you may remember, the hand woven dish towels - while they came out really well!- were a bit of a disaster, in that I didn't finish them until around May (almost 6 months late for Christmas). Thus, this year I will be taking a break from hand made gifts and buying something for all my friends at work in a store...
Now, whether they will be disappointed or relieved is something known only to them... ;)
How about you? Do you make any of your Christmas gifts? What kinds of things do you make and for whom? Are there people in your life who really appreciate the love and time that goes into each one of your creations?
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Thank you so much to Mamafitz, Kristine, Angela, Summerset, Becky, Faye, Kelley, CarlaF, Sharon, Sarah & Tasia for talking back to my confession last week! I asked about grading seams and which layer you should trim shortest – or if it didn’t matter.
So, we did have a couple of folks who are a bit laissez-faire about grading seams – we got 2 votes for the “never or rarely do it” category and 1 vote on the “when I do it, I just wing it” category.
But most people converged upon 3 guidelines, with the most popular one being this:
1. The layer that will be closest to the public side of the garment should be left the longest.
Five people agreed that this is (at least usually) the right way to do it.
The two other rules-of-thumb that were presented (by 2 people each) were:
2. Trim the thickest layer (usually the interfaced layer) to be the shortest.
3. If you will be edgestitching or making a flat felled seam, make sure that the longest layer is able to trap all of the shorter layers inside (or underneath).
Summerset addressed the issue of “does it matter?” She doesn’t grade every seam, but advises that it does make a difference if you have multiple, thick layers of fabric coming together in a single seam.
Finally, as for the “how” to grade seams, Faye and Sharon gave this tip: Apparently you can just hold your scissors at an angle as you trim (or use appliqué scissors) and the seam comes out automatically graded. :)
Thanks again to everyone who took the time and effort to respond! You guys rock! :)
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Another pattern that called to me from the November issue of BurdaStyle - this dress. I like how the tucks in the bodice open into pleats in the skirt. I can see making it up in a warmer fabric and wearing it during the time that passes for "winter" in Florida. ;)
No appropriate fabric in my stash - looks like I'll have to go fabric shopping... Darn it... ;)
If I'm going to make it in something warm then I should get to it soon. In any event, I'll get to it - it's in the queue. :)