Sunday, February 27, 2011

Weekend Project: Gosh Dart It!

Principle #1: A dart can be transferred to any location around the pattern's outline from a designated pivot point without affecting the size or fit of the garment.
~ Helen Joseph-Armstrong

I didn't have time to do any real sewing this weekend, but I did enjoy some quality time studying Helen Joseph-Armstrong's book "Patternmaking for Fashion Design." I love looking at the pictures that show the relationship between the flat pattern piece and the garment.

So, I thought you might enjoy it too and am including this page on skirt darts. Aren't they cool? I'm not sure that I'd ever wear one from the bottom row, but I really like seeing how they are created. :)

I hope you all had wonderful weekends and feel at least semi-ready for the start of a new work week! If you haven't already, don't forget to sign up for my 600th post give-away. :)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Celebration

Woo hoo! This is my 600th1 post!

And you know what that means, don't you? It's give-away time!

Despite the amount of time I've had to think about this2, I don't have any inspired ideas for the give-away. So, how about this - if you win, YOU get to pick your gift.

I will give away a $60 gift certificate (in honor of 600 posts) to the online sewing-related store of your choice. :)

To participate, just leave a comment and tell me which store you'd choose if your name is selected. Entries will be accepted until midnight next Wednesday. I'll announce the winner next Thursday.

Good luck to everyone!

1 Okay, it's really 601, but I didn't realize it was 600 yesterday... ;)
2 Approximately 10 minutes.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to Carla, Lisa Laree, Alison, Faye, Elaina, Summerset, Katherine, Gwen and Claire for talking back to my confession last week! I "confessed" that my decision to buy one pattern versus another is sometimes influenced by the methods of construction used in the patterns and asked if others consider this too.

And the Reader's Digest Condensed Version of the answers:


Yup, looks like I'm on my own on this one. ;)

And not only did everyone say "no", everyone generally agreed on the reason why not. Basically, people aren't that worried about the construction method detailed in pattern instructions because, if they don't like it, they don't follow it. Between their experience and information available in books and on the internet, they don't have to follow the instructions that come with a pattern if they don't like them.

Here are a sampling of the more specific comments:

Lisa Laree will draft new pattern pieces, like pockets and facings, in order to use her preferred construction methods.

Faye worked out her own method for assembling a jacket collar and lapel that she much prefers over the method typically presented in patterns.

Elaina, Summerset and Gwen rarely follow the pattern instructions anyways, so their buying decisions certainly aren't influenced by those instructions.

Katherine explained what does draw her to one pattern versus another - it is the proportions and design lines of the garment. She looks at the fit on the models pictured on the pattern envelope and, of course, she reads the reviews on! :)

Thanks again to everyone who left a comment! As always, you have given me a lot to think about! :)

Photo credit: frielp

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

In the Queue Wednesday

Still working my way through projects that are just hanging around my sewing room waiting on me... ;)

As you know my fashion sensibilities (such as they are) are sometimes taken aback by the outfits that my nieces periodically ask me to sew for them. This project is one of those times.

I've had this glitter-festooned faux fur sitting in my sewing room for about 9 months. My youngest niece, a 10 year old, is confident that this will make the perfect mini-skirt for her. (Note that a single body measurement will still suffice for bust, waist and hips for her patterns.)

We actually drafted this pattern from scratch last summer - if you can call it drafting. It's a simple, elastic waist skirt. (It would be an A-line pattern, if she hadn't insisted that it be so short.)

I guess I've been dragging my feet about getting to it because there is nothing about either the fabric or the pattern that I find interesting or appealing. But it shouldn't take an hour, start to finish - so it's pretty lame that I haven't done it yet.

I promise, I will get to it! It's in the queue...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Talk Back Tuesday

I'm sorry I didn't get my "Talk Back" post up last Thursday. It seems like life has been rampaging out of control recently... Sigh. :(

Anyways, without further ado:

Thank you so much to Mamafitz, Sarah, Elaina, Julia, Gwen, Debbie, Summerset, Patsijean and Mary for talking back to my confession! I showed the pattern illustrations for 2 methods of attaching a single-piece collar (no stand) and asked if people prefer one over the other.

You know how usually we get answers that span the range of possibilities? Sadly (for me!), all of the commenters agreed this time on 1 thing - no one prefers the method of attaching a collar that I like.

Don't worry, I'll try to survive. ;)

So, the votes lined up like this:

Five people preferred the method that uses the front shirt facing to cover a portion of the collar seams.

Two people don't care and can do either method equally well.

Two people generally don't do single-piece collars - they prefer patterns with collar stands.

And two people pointed us to tutorials for alternative methods of attaching collars. :)

Patsijean pointed us to Gigi's tutorial: here.

Mary pointed us to April's tutorial: here. The picture above comes from April's tutorial.

The tutorials look excellent! You guys have inspired me to move out of my comfort zone and try to expand my repertoire of collar techniques. :)

Oh, before I wrap this up, quick question. Remember when we were talking about sewing gloves? Several people mentioned specific patterns - one from Vogue and one from Simplicity. Sarah would like to know the actual pattern numbers, if it's not too much trouble. Thanks! :)

Thanks again to everyone who took the time to leave a comment. As always, I learn so much from you all! :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Weekend Project: My Bundles of Love

Peace, to have meaning for many who have only known suffering in both peace and war,
must be translated into bread or rice, shelter, health and education,
as well as freedom and human dignity.

~ Ralph Johnson Bunche

Okay, Ralph doesn't explicitly mention "fabric" in his list, but I think it's clearly implied... ;)

My recently rediscovered Joann's gift card and I went shopping to build 2 "Iraqi Bundles of Love" this weekend! Sadly, the gift card ran out of steam long before I did! ;)

About the only things that I know are that the Iraqi people is that green is a very popular color and that they are frugal (at least by current necessity, if not by nature) and will make good use of anything and everything that we send.

Building a couple of bundles with those "guidelines" seemed like a pretty unconstrained task and I drifted aimlessly around the store for a while - picking things up and them putting them back down again somewhat randomly.

Then, inspiration struck. I decided to make 2 themed bundles - one for baby clothes for a little girl and one for baby clothes for a little boy.

With this plan, I decided to put 3 pieces of fabric in each bundle - a stretch knit, a flannel and a cotton print. And, when it comes to baby clothes, you don't need much fabric, so I got a yard of each.

For each bundle I also added a package of color-coordinated buttons, 2 spools of color-coordinated thread and a package of snap tape. (I threw some pink ric-rac into the baby girl bundle, pictured above.)

Oh, I also added black & white spools of thread and zippers into each bundle - those are staples that everyone should have on hand!

Here (above) I am preparing to wrap the baby girl bundle in the stretch knit fabric.

And here it is, tied with a ribbon, and ready to go into the large, flat rate mail box. I was actually able to get both of my bundles into the same box - so that saves on shipping.

While buying fabric for myself is perhaps my favorite shopping activity, buying fabric for someone else is also pretty fun! I hope some woman opens this bundle and feels as happy and excited about sewing with the supplies as I feel each time I start a new project! :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Confession

I mentioned last week that I have seen two different ways to install a collar and have a strong preference for one. In fact, my preference is so strong that I look at instructions before buying a new shirt pattern to see which method it uses - and the answer influences my buying decision. For example, if I see a separate facing piece (like in the illustration above), I will often put the pattern back and keep looking for an alternative - something that looks the same when finished, but is constructed differently.

So, how about you? Do you look at the construction details when choosing a pattern and does that influence you to buy one pattern over another one? If so, what aspects of a pattern's construction influence whether or not you'll buy it? Do you prefer patterns that teach you new construction techniques? Are there approaches that you avoid? Ones that you love?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In the Queue Wednesday

A different kind of queue project this week - MAJ La Flamme is starting up his IBOL (Iraqi Bundles of Love) project again. You can read all about it here. The bottom line is that, if you'll send him a bundle of fabric, thread, buttons, zippers, etc., he'll make sure that it gets into the hands of an Iraqi woman who can put all of those materials to good use (and wouldn't have access to them otherwise.)

Recently I was cleaning out my purse and stumbled upon a $25 gift card to Joann's that I had somehow forgotten about. (Can you believe it? I know I was shocked!)

This weekend I'll put it to good use - filling up a large, flat rate USPS box ($12.50 postage) with all the sewing goodness that I can fit! Anyone want to join me?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday's Torch Story

There are ties between us, all men and women living on the earth...
...we are bound together in our desire to see the world become
a place in which our children can grow free and strong
~ James Taylor (Shed A Little Light)

One of our discussion questions coming up in my ESL class has to do with important lessons to teach a child. I decided to informally coordinate the songs that we are learning during these weeks around the topic of parents and children. This week we worked on "Forever Young" (the Rod Stewart version - in case the picture didn't give it away.)

The lyrics proved to be a bit of a challenge, as they are contain a number of figurative phrases. Some examples:

...when you finally fly away, I'll be hoping that I served you well

...whatever road you choose, I'm right behind you, win or lose

I wasn't sure how many of these figures of speech in English are also figures of speech in Spanish. For example, do they speak in Spanish of children "leaving the nest" and "flying away"?

The song also contains the golden rule ("And do unto others, as you'd have done to you"), and I thought that would be an easy one, but Ana said that the golden rule in Mexico is phrased in the negative - don't do anything to others that you would not want them to do to you.

I'm not sure those are actually equivalent - what do you think?

One funny moment came when we were trying to discuss the phrase "Build a stairway to heaven, with a prince or a vagabond."

I asked what message Rod was trying to give his child.

Maria Milagros suggested the advice that, if you have your choice, it would be better to go with the prince.

While I have to admit that I can see her point, I think that Rod was perhaps suggesting something different - that it was what was in your heart that matters, not how much money you have.

Of course, given his probable bank account, that's easy for him to say! ;)

We'll bookend this "section" of the class with another Father/Son song - Harry Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle." Most of the song is a pretty concrete story that I think should be easy to understand. But the refrain with the nursery rhyme references is going to take a bit of pre-planning on my part... Maybe I'll give them an illustrated handout with the relevant nursery rhymes ahead of time.

On the grammar front, we're still working on conjugating regular verbs - I'm sure you're just dying to hear all about that! ;)

Next week, I promise! :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Weekend Project: Yet Another Birthday Boy!

The secret of staying young is to live honestly,
eat slowly, and lie about your age.
~Lucille Ball

Sadly, no sewing this weekend... :(

But we did get to spend some time this afternoon helping celebrate Ana's boyfriend's birthday.

He's still in his 20's, so Lucille Ball's advice would be wasted on him. ;)

He had cake and received some birthday presents (all blue shirts, interestingly enough.)

Most of all, I think he had a good time. :)

I hope you had a wonderful weekend! And I hope that someone out there got enough extra sewing time in to make up for me... ;)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Confession

So far, I have experience with two different methods of attaching a simple (i.e., one piece, no stand) collar. The method illustrated above uses the collar to hide the raw edges of the center front facing.

The method below uses the center front facing to hide the raw edges of the collar.

I prefer the first method - although that could be just because I have more experience with it and can get it to work out nicely pretty much every time. I haven't used the second method as often, so it still feels awkward and doesn't always come out looking good.

How about you? Have you used both methods? Are there other methods that you have used as well? Do you have a preference? If so, what is it and why do you like it? I'm looking forward to hearing about your experiences "being collared." ;)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to Julia, Becky, Mamafitz, Cole's Corner, Summerset, Gwen, Dana, Elaina, Patsijean and BConky for talking back to my confession last week! I was actually passing along a question from Gwen, who (after our discussion about sewing footwear) wondered if people had experiences (and/or interest in) sewing gloves.

So, it turns out that gloves did not fare as well as footwear. While 4 people reported knitting gloves and/or mittens, when it comes to sewing them, we only had 1 person with a (relatively) lot of experience sewing gloves.

There were 6 votes for "nope, never", 2 people with some experience sewing mittens, and 1 person who has sewn a pair of handwarmers.

In addition to there not being a lot of folks who already have experience, sewing gloves didn't seem to interest that many people as a future project. My bet is that not many of us have occasions to wear really fancy gloves. Several people called out hand size as being an issue. On the plus side, Gwen thinks it would be fun to embellish them. :)

Interestingly, 4 people reported owning a Vogue pattern to make gloves. (Of course, I don't know if they all own the same pattern or not.) The only other pattern mentioned was a Simplicity pattern, and that was mentioned by Dana, the commenter with the most glove-making experience.

She made about 6 pairs for a fabric store display a while ago. Now her daughter uses them to play dress up. More recently, she has re-made the pattern for herself a few times, but hasn't ever worn them in public. She says they aren't really that fun to make, even though they don't take a lot of time.

Personally, I was intrigued by the construction of the glove and the use of gussets, but I doubt that I'll ever make a pair. I'm just not a glove person. Heck, I only put on pantyhose under extreme duress! ;)

Thanks again to everyone who commented! You guys are the best! :)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

In the Queue Wednesday

Today brings you a bonus, non-Friday confession: I've been bad...

I was trying to resist buying more patterns and/or fabric until I made a big dent on the projects that are sitting and waiting for me in my sewing room.

But I swung by Joann's for some buttons and this pattern had been made up in a cute knit fabric and was on display:

I couldn't resist - it looked so comfortable and cute on the headless mannequin (who is significantly younger and thinner than I am).

It has pockets and a side zipper.

Next thing I knew, it was in my shopping basket. I think I blacked out or something - maybe I can argue temporary insanity?

Hey, at least I didn't go looking for matching fabric (although the fact that my husband was waiting in the car while I just "dashed in for buttons" may have had something to do with that.)

So, this project won't be able to shove it's way to the front of the line, but don't worry, I'll get to it. It's in the queue...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tuesday's Torch Story

You must stick to your convictions, but be ready to abandon your assumptions.
~ Denis Waitley

Our discussion question this week was about animals - if you were an animal, what type of animal would you like to be and why?

Modesta would like to be a dog, because they don't have to work and all they do is eat and sleep.

Enriquetta would like to be a butterfly, because they are pretty and can fly.

Irma would like to be a turtle, because they move slowly, can swim, live a long time and every turtle has it's own house.

And Reina explained that she is very happy to be a human, but if she HAD to be an animal, she would be a dove, because doves symbolize peace.

The one sad thing about breaking my class into small groups for the discussion question activity, is that I only get to hear the answers from some of the students... ;)


I did get to use my new toy - the programmable, interactive spinners - for a regular verb conjugation activity. At the last minute, I scaled back and only did 2 tenses - simple past (add "ed" to the end of the verb) and simple future (add the word "will" in front of the verb). That turned out to be a good decision - it was plenty challenging enough for my students.

I picked those tenses, instead of the simple present tense, because the present-tense conjugation of regular verbs requires a change for the third person (he, she & it) only - you have to add an "s" to the end of the verb. That seemed a bit more complicated.

I'll review the past & future tenses next week and then add present tense to the activity next week.

You know, one of my guiding principles in teaching this class is to try to make as many connections as possible between the new language (English) and the language that they already know (Spanish). So, for example, I gave a simple definition of verbs (action words) and then reminded them that verbs are words that change, depending on WHO is doing them and WHEN they are being done - and I gave a couple of examples in Spanish.

Finally, I "reminded" them that Spanish has both regular and irregular verbs, and that this is true in English too - and that we would only be talking about regular verbs in that lesson.

I was so proud of myself for building all those bridges between the new material in my lesson and things that (I thought) they already knew and understood...

Until after class, when I was talking with Ana, and I discovered that she had no idea what I meant by "regular and irregular" verbs in Spanish. And she is easily in the top 25% of my class, with regards to both her ability and the amount of formal education that she has completed in her home country.

I still think that my basic plan is a good one, but it looks like I'm going to have to be more on guard against making too many assumptions...

Photo credit: jimwhiteheaducsc

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Weekend Project: Some Sewing and a Celebration

Animals are such agreeable friends -
they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.
~ George Eliot

Well, life is still pretty out-of-control around here, but I did manage to squeeze in a few minutes and get started on a project. It's a shirt for a little boy. I used a pattern I've had floating around in my sewing room for about 8 years.

Like my husband's favorite Hawaiian shirt pattern, the front piece incorporates a fold-over facing. But this one only folds over once (so you need to finish the edges) and it folds as far back as the shoulder seam. (More on this later.)

I love the fabric - it is a boldly colored print full of fun animal families:

I haven't finished it yet - I just had time to do the neckline stay stitching, finish the facing edges, add the pocket and the shoulder seams.

As always, the pockets are my favorite part of these shirts - here's the image I picked for this pocket:

And who will be the recipient of this shirt?

Happy 1st Birthday to a very special boy! :)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday Confession

Last week's discussion about sewing footwear (slippers, etc.) inspired Gwen to ask about gloves. Personally, I've never sewn (or even thought about sewing) gloves or mittens. But I did just find this cool photo tutorial on sewing gloves.

So, how about you? Anybody tried gloves? If so, I'd love to hear about it! If not, do you think you might someday?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to Carla, Sarah, BConky, Cole's Corner, Mamafitz, Elaina, Patsijean, Gwen and Summerset for talking back to my confession last week! I confessed that I've never put much thought into trying to sew any kind of footwear until my friend Ana started making baby booties (and they turned out to be a big hit!) and asked about other people's experiences.

As is often the case, we got pretty much all possible answers, including "love it!", "can take it or leave it", "never even thought about it" and "it's not for me."

Nicole of Cole's Corner was the most enthusiastic, and you can see why in the picture above - she makes the most adorable baby shoes! (See the full outfit on her blog, here.) BConky (Nicole's Mom) also makes great footwear for her grandbabies - check out these cowgirl boots!

Altogether, 6 people reported experience sewing footwear - 4 of them specified for children and 2 of them specified for adults. And a couple others have knit or crocheted slippers - but not sewn them.

Sarah says that the most difficult part of sewing slippers is to get each one of the pair to have the exact same shape when you stitch the curves.

On the adult side, Elaina has made vintage slippers, called scuffs. I hadn't heard of these and after googling around a bit, found this "pattern" to make a pair from washcloths (or hand towels, maybe).

Might be a fun intro-to-sewing afternoon project with young girls (especially with brightly colored washcloths!).

Thanks again to everyone who took the time to leave a comment! :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

In the Queue Wednesday

Another project just sitting in my sewing room and waiting on me is this Burda pattern magazine professional blouse:

And I have the perfect pink pinstripe fabric:

In fact, I've even started a muslin version of this pattern, because I don't want to make a mistake with this fabric - it was a bit expensive. (Plus, it's pink!)

I think one problem was that I got bored with the muslin - the fabric is a poor quality, icky color cotton. It was really not fun to work with it and it was a bit difficult to keep motivated.

I need to just suck it up and finish the muslin (at least enough to establish the right fit) - because I know I'll love the real blouse!

I don't know when, but I'll get to it. It's in the queue... :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tuesday's Torch Story

Seeks painted trifles and fantastic toys
and eagerly pursues imaginary joys.
~ Mark Akenside

I have a new toy and I am ridiculously happy with it! It is educational software that allows me to create interactive spinners. I can select the number of pie pieces on each spinner and create whatever labels I want. Above you can see the first activity I created - for a practice drill on conjugating regular verbs. One spinner selects the pronoun, one the verb and one the tense.

I was SO excited to unveil it this week, but then on class night we had a bad storm with a tornado watch and almost no one showed up. Oh well, next week...

Overall, I think it's going to be an excellent prop for lots of exercises and activities! It's so cool! ;)

In general, the semester is off to a good start. Basically all of my students have returned and I've picked up some new ones too. While not everyone comes every single week, I now have about 15 serious students.

Our first small group discussion went pretty well. I had assigned the question before the holidays - I asked people to be prepared to talk about their favorite family holiday traditions. I sat with my weakest students and our "discussion" focused on the holiday dinner. Most of them were able to mention several of the foods that they have during the big holiday meal and to tell me how many people attend this meal. We also touched on who did the cooking (or, at least, how many helped with the cooking) and whether or not they used recipes or were able to cook without recipes.

I think this is going to be a very powerful activity and I know that I need to make it a priority each week. Other than that, we chugging along. We're in the middle of several lessons on verbs and the song we learned last week was "Turn, turn, turn: To everything there is a season" by the Byrds - the lyrics are taken from the book of Ecclesiastics (Bible) and are just chock full of verbs! ;)

So, next week I'll get to try out my spinners! I'll let you know how it goes. :)