Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Through the heddles...
Threading complete! The old threads can be cut off now.
Winding the new threads around the back beam:
New threads tied onto the front apron rod for winding around the front beam (as I weave):
Here I've woven in a "header", made up of panty-hose and a thick yarn, to even out all of the warp threads:
Friday, March 26, 2010
A couple of weeks ago, when I asked about clipping threads after sewing each seam, several people said that they had learned this lesson years ago from a Home Economics teacher. That got me to wondering how everyone learned to sew.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
I asked if people cut out or trace the pattern tissue from the Big 4 pattern companies (Simplicity, Butterick, McCalls and Vogue).
Personally, I cut those patterns, and 7 of the 26 commenters do too. Six of them don’t think twice about cutting because they only buy their patterns on those extreme sales ($0.99 or $1.99) – so they can easily buy another one if they end up wanting another size. A few others mentioned that they feel comfortable cutting because they rarely need another size – either they generally only sew for themselves and theirs sizes are stable or they have so many projects in their queues that they rarely make anything more than once! And, of course, there is always the “impatience” factor… ;)
On the other hand, 9 of the 26 commenters report that they trace. The most common reason given for tracing is the need to make a lot of alterations to a pattern. And some folks are losing weight, so they don’t know what size they’ll want to make the next time around. As for just re-buying the same pattern the next time it’s on sale, a couple of folks pointed out that it can be a gamble, as patterns are discontinued.
And, of course, we had the “it depends” responses – 6 of them, to be exact. The main “it depends” factors are expense, size and potential future use. A couple of folks cut the cheaper patterns and trace the expensive ones. Several folks cut if they want the largest size on the pattern, but trace if they want one of the smaller sizes. Some folks cut once if they know they are only going to use it once, but trace if they anticipate re-use.
Note that “re-use” can play out in two different ways – re-use with a different size and re-use with the same size. It’s obvious that if you trace one size from a pattern, you can later trace a different size. But some people trace even when they expect to re-use the same size over and over again, because tracing paper is generally sturdier than the original pattern tissue paper. On the other hand, some people, like Linda, adhere fusible interfacing to tissue paper pattern pieces to make them sturdy enough for multiple re-use.
Finally, 4 people had a very creative alternative. Summerset, Lady Jenn, Julia and Elaina cut the largest size in every pattern (making sure to include all of the sizes in those places where the smaller sizes stick out beyond the larger sizes) and then fold the tissue paper to whichever size they want to cut at the time! Very clever! :)
Thanks again to everyone who took the time to respond! :)
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Today was her second time to come over to sew. The first time, we used a Big 4 pants pattern and some of my remnant fabric to adjust the pattern to a size and style that suits her. Around the waist she fit into the size 8, but she has no hips, slender legs and is short, so we made quite a few adjustments.
Last week was her first time using an electric sewing machine, and today was her first time using a serger. The fabric she had picked out ravelled quite easily, so we used an overlock stitch.
And here's the back view.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Last weekend Ana wanted to use one of my patterns for baby clothes. The problem was that I had already cut out the 3-6 month size, and she wanted to make the 9-12 month size. So we had to extrapolate to create the larger sized pattern pieces.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Well, last week's confession was a bit of a dud. I asked about clipping threads at the end of each seam and whether people do it after each sewing seam, at the end of a project, or just any old time. It seems that no one thinks about this much, or really cares...
Ha! Just kidding!
I got TWENTY-TWO responses - the only other Friday Confession that has elicited so many comments was Cindy's guest question about using the seam ripper. So, thank you SO much to Lois K, Patsijean, Mamafitz, Eword10, Summerset, Linda, Julie, Becky, Cindy, Shannon, Alison, Debbie, Karima, Gwen, Mary, Faye, Aminat, Tamara, Carla F, Claire S, Shannon AND Elaina for "talking back" to my confession! (Phew!)
First of all, many people pointed out that the answer depends on whether we’re talking about a sewing machine seam or a serged seam. So, let’s deal with sewing machine seams first.
Of the 22 people who responded, only 2 people responded that they really don’t have a system, and just trim their threads whenever they feel like it.
Fifteen (almost three-quarters) consistently trim the threads of each seam as soon as that seam is completed. The “whys” that these folks gave can be divided into three categories. Two people explain this habit as a legacy from their junior high school home ec teachers (see all you teachers out there – you DO make a difference!) Three people pointed out potential problems with leaving hanging threads to a final step, such as having those threads get caught up in the machine’s feed dogs and/or not being able to find them all at the end. And 9 people (add me to this category to make it 10) basically said it was a personality thing – it would drive them crazy, too OCD, Virgo, etc.
The remaining five people don’t trim after sewing each seam, but do have some kind of system for deciding when to trim. Tamara trims when the threads start becoming a nuisance. For Shannon Hillinger, it depends on how “important” the garment is – a fancy dress or gift for someone else gets a more consistent trim-every-seam-as-you-go treatment than some weekend-lounge-around-the-house t-shirt or shorts. Julie and Mary use an assembly-line (or chain piecing) approach to sewing that involves sewing many seams in one continuous stream and postponing trimming until the sewn pieces need to be cut apart, ironed and cross-seams sewn. Julie learned about this technique to save time from the Palmer/Pletsch book, Painless Sewing. Linda also thinks in terms of time management during her sewing, and she does all her trimming at once, at the end of the project.
Oh, it seems that I’m a bit behind technologically - several people mentioned how much they love the newer sewing machines that trim the threads at the end of each seam automatically. I didn’t realize that there were machines that could do that – sounds cool. :)
Next, on to sergers. Several people pointed out that, if you trim the threads too close to the end of a serged seam, it is likely to unravel. And, not surprisingly, a bunch of people, including Mamafitz, Summerset, Cindy, Faye and Claire S., had solutions to that particular problem! In general, the recommendations were as follows:
Thanks again for all the comments - astrological and otherwise! (BTW, I'm a Virgo too!) You guys rock! :)
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
First, the winner of my 400th post give-away - a $50 gift certificate to Kiva - is (drum roll, please):
Cole will be able to review a number of individuals in third-world countries who have their own small businesses and add her $50 in with many other people to support a loan to whomever she chooses. (I generally go with seamstresses - but that's just me.) Once that loan is paid back, Cole can put the money towards something special for her own sewing room!
Cole, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I wish I could give a Kiva gift certificate to everyone who commented. I can't do that today, but I'll have another Kiva gift certificate give-away for my 500th post (in about 6 months), so stick around and try again! :)
Next, my TWO YEAR Blog Birthday give-away! I've been thinking about what to do for several weeks and I finally got an idea based on one of my recent Friday Confessions. I asked about experiences with different types of fabric. The fabric that had the most votes for "Oooh, I'd really like to work with this!" was, not surprisingly, silk.
So, for this TWO year anniversary, I will be giving away TWO $50 gift certificates to Thai Silks!
Note that, while I like the symmetry of my 2nd anniversary and 2 give-away winners, this is one pattern that I can NOT promise to maintain over time! ;)
If you would like the opportunity to win a $50 gift certificate to Thai Silks (is that a trick question?), then leave a comment with your name. The give-away will be open for a week, and I'll announce the winners next Wednesday. Good luck to everyone!
And most of all, thank you to everyone for your support over these last two years - I wouldn't still be here without you! :)
Sunday, March 14, 2010
While I mostly worked with Ana on her stuff, I did do a little bit on my peasant-hippie-flower-power blouse. Remember that I put on the neckline binding and then decided that it hung too low and took off the binding and took up the shoulder seams?
Well, I decided that it was still a little bit lower than I was comfortable with and so I took off part of the neck binding again and am in the process of increasing the gathering around the front center - hoping that will take up just enough extra for modesty's sake.
I hated taking the neck binding off again, but I decided that I want to wear this blouse, and I won't if it hangs too low, and there's no point in making it at all if I end up with something that I don't wear! So, it was out with the seam ripper... ;)
I also worked on the sleeves. It has drawstring sleeves, using ties made out of the same fabric as the blouse as the "drawstrings". The pattern uses 2 buttonholes to pass the tie through on each sleeve:
I basted in one sleeve - but I think I'm going to pull it out and re-do it, to even out the gathering around the shoulder.
Here's a side view of the sleeve.
Friday, March 12, 2010
So, I was sewing with a friend the other day, and I noticed that she didn't trim the thread tails after sewing each seam. I asked her about it, and she said that she waits and does them all when the project is finished.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Sunday, March 7, 2010
When I cut these 4 towels off the loom, I left the the excess yarn threaded, to make threading my next set of towels faster.
And I also measured out the 402, 4-yard lengths of the new yarns. Here's a sneak peak at the next color scheme:
In case you are not skilled at reading a cat's eyes, I will translate for you. Milly is communicating this message: "I am going to kill you tonight in your sleep."
Friday, March 5, 2010
Well, I'm still mining Sandra Betzina's book, More Fabric Savvy, for information and she has a page that describes how to use a burn test to identify a number of different fabric fibers. My confession - I've never set a piece of fabric on fire - at least, not on purpose... ;)
How about you? Have you ever tried doing a burn test (or some other test) to identify the fiber content of a piece of mystery fabric? If so, did it work? Did you set off any smoke alarms? Do you think it's a useful skill to have in any sewist's repertoire?
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Thank you so much to Kristine, Cindy, Julia, Elaina, Amy, Becky, Shannon, Gwen, Mamafitz, Uta, CarlaF and Tamara for talking back to my confession last Friday! I asked about people’s experiences with the wide variety of different fabrics that are available…
As usual, I was blown away by the amount of experience that many of you have! As a group, these commenters could give Sandra Betzina a run for her money! ;)
First of all, about half a dozen commenters reported that they have worked with just about every type of material that is available – from “soup to nuts” (we need our own variation of that saying – any ideas?)
In order to report out on the more specific comments, I made some rough groupings.
The least-liked fabric category contains what I think of as highly artificial, man-made materials, such as gore-tex, metallic fabrics, neoprene, plastic, sequined lycra and vinyl. Nine people said that they have tried one or more materials in this category and nine people said that they did NOT enjoy the experience. A “perfect” record! ;)
Another not-very-popular category contained sheer fabrics – chiffon and georgette. The only two people who called these fabrics out by name also said that, while they may be beautiful, they are not the most fun to work with...
As you might guess, the most commonly used and the most liked fabric family contained what I think of as natural fibers – cottons, wools, blends, suede and fur. Eight people called out having experience with fabrics in this category and three more would like to work with fur and/or suede in the future. Most of the comments on these fabrics were positive. In fact, the only negative comments included the fact that fur can be messy when cut and some people have an itchy skin reaction to wool. Julia really likes lambs wool, as it doesn’t have to be hemmed and it can be sewn with the seams exposed for a neat look. Gwen likes the way she can mold and shape natural fibers.
Heavier-weight natural materials, such as corduroy, denim and leather were also reasonably well-liked, although it sounds like leather can be difficult to work with if your machine isn’t up to it.
The category with the most “I want to try this!” votes would be the silks – including dupioni, shantung and hemp/silk blends. Three people called out experience with silks, all three of those people reported enjoying working with silk and three more people called out wanting to gain more experience with silk.
Polyester satins and other “slippery” fabrics, however, didn’t fare as well – neither of the two people who mentioned this type of fabric were very complimentary…
While “slippery” wasn’t popular, “stretchy” fared better – not many people mentioned knits explicitly, but the few who did seem to like both the rayon and polyester knits.
Last, but not least, the category that everyone has been waiting for - materials starting with the letter “V”: Velvet got one thumbs up and one thumbs down and the combination of velveteen and taffeta got a BIG thumbs down from Julia, who complained that one crawls, while the other slips. Her advice: stay away!
Finally, two people said that their focus is not really on fabric types. Elaina looks at the drape and weight of a fabric, and decides whether or not it will achieve the effect she wants, without being overly concerned about the exact fiber content. And CarlaF is focused on honing her fitting skills with the more traditional natural fibers – more exotic fabrics will come later for her.
Thanks again to everyone who took the time to tell me your fabric stories! I love reading them! :)
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
In addition to some fabric for another baby outfit, I also picked up a pattern for me at the Sewing Expo. No fabric yet... That just means a fun shopping trip is in my future! ;)
This Lotus Cami is my first Amy Butler pattern. I checked PatternReview.com, but this pattern hasn't been reviewed yet. If you have used this pattern, or actually any Amy Butler pattern, I'd love to hear what you think!
Given that I'm currently working on a blouse for me, this project will have to wait until I make something for somebody else. But, don't worry, I'll get to it. It's in my queue. :)