Sunday, October 30, 2011

Weekend Project: Number Crunching

In God we trust. All others must bring data.
~ W. Edwards Deming

No sewing for me this weekend - I spent the majority of my time in front of my computer, typing in numbers from the backs of sewing patterns for children.

The process to create a set of The Original "How Much Fabric?" Reference Cards goes like this:

  • Christine and I scour the internet for sewing patterns and print out the images of the envelopes' fronts and backs.
  • We divvy up the printouts and type the tables into spreadsheets, which have lots of formulas going on in the background.
  • Once we get enough patterns to establish a stable average number for every size, we copy the tables into PowerPoint slides and look up representative examples of patterns that require the minimum, average and maximum amounts of fabric for each type of garment.
  • We paste those images into the PowerPoint file as well and then ship the whole thing off to our graphic artist, Beth.
  • She creates the artwork - putting our numbers into nicely formatted tables and creating sketches of the representative patterns that we provided to her.
  • Once we approve the artwork she emails the files off to the card printers and they work up proofs for us.
  • Once we approve the proofs, they print the cards for us and punch holes in the upper left hand corner of each card.
  • When the cards are delivered to my house, we hand check each one to make sure it's a good print, collate them into sets and slide a ring (like a key ring) into each set.

One thing that this process really illustrates for me is the uneven production of patterns across sizes. We easily found over 200 top patterns for children's sizes 7 & 8, 175 patterns for size 10, 160 patterns for size 12 and 138 patterns for size 14.

Guess how many for size 16?


Yup - just 25 of those patterns went up to size 16.

Of course, for children it's probably not so bad, because by that time they may be fitting into adult patterns. But we had the same experience with women's plus sized patterns - we had a very hard time finding enough patterns to establish stable averages. It was really frustrating.

Anyways, I had hoped to get all of the materials to Beth by the end of September, so I'm already a month late. :(

But this weekend I was able to get her the materials for 3 of the cards (dresses, pants & tops) and I should be done with the other 3 cards (jackets, skirts & pajamas) within the week.

So, we should still be able to have our LAST set ready for Christmas! Yay!

And I can turn my attention to my Christmas sewing plans... :)

I hope you had a great sewing weekend! To those suffering from early winter weather - I'm thinking of you and hoping that life gets back to normal soon!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Confession

I was caught by surprise, recently, by a "look how far I've come!" moment with my sewing. I was making a dress for a young friend and was able to adjust my method of construction to adapt to the fact that I wasn't going to line it.

And suddenly I remembered an experience that I had early in my sewing, when I treated each set of pattern instructions as if they had been carved on Stone Tablets by a Divine Hand and couldn't even imagine trying to do anything different on my own... A woman at the fabric cutting table at my local Walmart kept trying to convince me that I could make a particular dress pattern without lining it and I grew frustrated when she wouldn't accept the fact that - maybe SHE could make it without lining it, but I couldn't.

And now I can. I'm not sure when it happened. I don't remember any particular moment - no ceremony, no sky opening up with trumpeting angels, nothing... It just kind of sneaked up on me. But I used to be in the group that couldn't, and now, somehow, I'm in the group that can.

So, how about you? Have you had any moments like this? Times when you suddenly realized - Hey! I really have learned a lot! I really am better at sewing than I used to be! I'd love to hear your stories! :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to Eileen, Carla, Anne, Sarah, Debbie, Gwen, Mary, Patsijean, Marie, Linda & Sarah for talking back to my confession last week! I asked if people were sewing any Christmas presents and the answers came from all points along the spectrum. ;)

Carla and Gwen came down firmly on the "no way!" side - with Carla saying (with a smile) "You can't make me!" and Gwen explaining that she finds it too stressful. I do agree that the last thing anyone needs is to have more stress associated with either your hobby or the holidays...

Taking an "intermediate" (i.e., reasonable) stance, 5 people reported that they do sew individual gifts for specific people, when appropriate. Anne, for example, has had requests for a lined bathrobe and soft pants for a niece and nephew respectively, and a doctor costume for the same nephew. Patsijean is making a set of camp shirts in jewel tones for a good friend. Marie is making her Mom an apron and Linda is making lap quilts for her parents.

Get this - Linda actually started her projects in May! Now THAT is being on top of things! And I was proud of myself for having a plan in place before the end of October... ;)

Sarah makes jewelry - necklaces and earrings - for the people in her life that she knows will appreciate and wear them - not an "en mass" project by any means - but (I think) more than 1 or 2.

At the other extreme, there was a substantial contingent reporting a history of making and/or plans for this year to make group gifts - a large number of the same item, in different fabrics - to be distributed to friends and/or family. Eileen is making potholders, Sarah hopes to make Bible covers, Marie has done coin purses, aprons and tissue holders in the past.

Patsijean is doing singlet shopping bags - that's a picture of one above - and you can read about it and see more pictures and useful links here and here. A friend in my office did that for co-workers one year and it was a huge hit! I use mine all the time. :)

Linda thinks she has just come up with a great mass gift idea, but she won't share just yet... I'm really looking forward to hearing about it! I'm starting to run low on ideas...

Finally, a couple of folks haven't really started thinking about Christmas just yet. I can relate - I just started thinking about it a week ago...

Thanks again to everyone who took the time to leave a comment! Best wishes with your sewing plans - whether they are for Christmas gifts or not. :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In the Queue Wednesday

Okay, here's what I'm thinking of making for my friends and co-workers for Christmas (at least 9 people, maybe more) - matching, insulated kitchen carrying cases - one for a bottle of wine and one for a casserole dish.

One of the reasons I think that this gift will be well-received (for the most part) is that we regularly have potlucks at work and most everyone brings in delicious home-made dishes! Plus, many folks are also "into" wine. So, it may not be perfect for everyone, but it should work.

Of course, each person's set will be made from different fabric - either I'll choose designs and colors that I think they'll like OR I may even let them choose the fabric... Still thinking about that.

The internet has tons of free patterns for both of these items. I did some browsing and the patterns (pictured above) that I like best (so far) are these:

If you know of other patterns to recommend, please let me know. :)

Well, another project with a deadline - for now, at least, I'd better order the insul-brite insulation... Don't worry, I'll get to them! They're in the queue. ;)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday's Torch Story

There are toys for all ages.
~French proverb

Sometimes I think that part of the reason that I enjoy teaching my ESL class so much is the fun of going overboard with my "props". ;)

For example, I got the idea to model this week's activity on the game show, Family Feud. So, clearly a trip to Home Depot and Staples was in order...

What?!? Have people raise their hands when they know the answer?!? Keep score on the black board?!? Are you kidding?!?

OF COURSE we need bells for them to ring when they know the answer and OF COURSE we need a super cool pegboard score board system! ;)

The topic is comparisons - Shaquille O'Neal (famous basketball player) is taller than Einstein; Einstein is more intelligent than Shaquille O'Neal - that kind of thing.

I've got this software (another prop!) that lets me design electronic spinners and I'll set 3 up - two with names of famous people and one with adjectives. For each turn, I'll "spin" all 3 spinners and my students will have to say a grammatically correct sentence comparing the 2 designated people with respect to the designated adjective.

The main objective is to get them to distinguish between those cases when they can add "er" to the end of the adjective (basically, short adjectives with only 1 syllable) and those cases when they need to put the word "more" in front of the adjective (adjectives with 3 or more syllables.) Adjectives with 2 syllables are just a nuisance. ;)

Comparisons get a little more complicated in writing - because there are rules like "change the terminal 'y' to an 'i' before adding 'er' (pretty -> prettier)" and "if the word ends in 'consonant-vowel-consonant' then double the last consonant before adding 'er' (big -> bigger)". But, when you are speaking, people can't tell if you are spelling it correctly or not! ;)

Anyways, I haven't quite sorted out how I want to handle the accuracy of the sentences. For example, if a student says "Willie Shoemaker (a famous jockey) is taller than Shaquille O'Neal" is it fine because it's correct grammatically?

Of course, I'll try to use people they know. Last year I used characters from a famous Hispanic sitcom, El Chavo del Ocho and that seemed to work pretty well.

So, I'll be dragging my props off to class soon, and I'll let you know how our version of "Family Feud" goes! Wish me luck! :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Weekend Project: The Prettiest Girls...

I believe happy girls are the prettiest girls.
~ Audrey Hepburn

This is why I sew for girls and why I always let them choose the pattern and the fabrics - even if their choices are ... um ... well, let's say, unusual. My sewing skills are average and the clothes that I make are adequate. But when a little girl puts on something that is EXACTLY what she wanted, the glow of her happiness outshines any of the flaws in my sewing...

So, I crammed over the weekend to make this dress for my friend Carolyn, for her baptism. She wanted the short version, with a short sleeved jacket.

She picked a white, satin polyester fabric - and a white lace overlay for the jacket - and a white tulle with sparkles overlay for the dress itself.

I didn't have time to follow the proper hand-basted underlining approach to create fabric sandwiches of the satin and the overlays, so I used a walking foot and machine basted the pieces together.

(Note that I only use a walking foot because you guys explained it to me and recommended it on one of my Friday Confessions. And I really like it!)

I hadn't realized that the pattern called for a lining, and I didn't have lining material readily available - so I adjusted the instructions and made it without a lining. The only place it really mattered was along the top of the bodice.

The instructions called for me to align the pieces like this:

dress - right side up
band - right side up
strap - upside down

(You couldn't have seen anything with all the white fabrics, so I'm illustrating it with scraps.)

Then, once you laid the lining over top of everything, sewed it on and flipped it to the inside, no raw edges would show along the top.

Given that I didn't have a lining, I aligned the pieces like this:

dress - upside down
strap - right side up
band - upside down

Then, once I flipped the band over to the front, everything was right side up in the front and no raw edges were showing. (The band was doubled over so that there wasn't a raw edge along its bottom.)

Does that make sense? Anyways, I was kind of proud that I was able to reason out how to do it. And it sparked a memory. Maybe the second dress I made 9 years ago when I first got a sewing machine - the pattern called for a lining and I was shopping at (brace yourself) Walmart for a lining fabric. The woman at the cutting table looked at my pattern and pronounced, "Oh, you don't need to line that pattern." I tried to explain that I didn't know enough about sewing to diverge from the instructions that much, but she didn't get it. She just kept saying that I didn't need to line the dress.

And now, here I am - able to adjust a pattern so that I don't need to line it if I don't want to.

Oh, and I dealt with the unlined jacket by using bias tape around the edge - another thing I learned from you guys in one of my Friday Confessions!

The dress was a tiny bit big, but Carolyn absolutely loved it! :)

Without further ado, here are some pictures from after the baptism ceremony. Carolyn is the young girl in the white dress.

I'm not the best seamstress in the world - not even close! But it doesn't matter - it's still worth sewing for people. Because it makes them happy. And happy girls are the prettiest girls. :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Confession

So, the LAST thing I should be thinking about is more sewing projects, but my mind is wandering to projects that I might make as Christmas gifts for my friends and co-workers... I have a couple of ideas, which I'll show you soon. ;)

But first, I wanted to ask - what about you? Will you be making any Christmas presents this year? If so, what and for whom? And, have you started yet? I'm looking forward to hearing about your holiday sewing plans!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to Lisa Laree, Carla, Marie, Claire, Debbie, Linda, Barb, Gwen, Anotheryarn, Becky & Summerset for talking back to my confession last week! I asked about your experiences with people commenting on and/or asking about the clothes that you are wearing.

So, who asks us, “Did you make that?” Well, almost everyone (9 out of 11) reported that they are usually asked by someone who already knows that they sew – a friend or family member. (Although, at the other extreme, Summerset reported that her friends and family just take it for granted that she has pretty much sewn her whole wardrobe, and thus they rarely ask…) Only 3 people reported that they get asked by distant acquaintances or strangers.

And, almost everyone (9 out of 11) reported that they generally take the question as a compliment and feel good when they are asked – regardless of whether they are wearing one of their own creations or something RTW. Certainly no one reported feeling offended by the question, but sometimes Mary feels a bit caught off-guard and embarrassed, and Anotheryarn remembered a time when a stranger asked if she had made her skirt and then did not follow up with a compliment, and so she was never quite sure how to take it. (I’ve had that happen too – it is disconcerting.)

There were two other popular refrains echoing through the comments. The first, brought up by 4 people, was that many people who don’t sew are not able to tell the difference between RTW and handmade. They don’t know what to look for and sometimes don’t even recognize the differences between well-made and poorly-made garments. Barb, for example, reported that her sewing experience has taught her to notice and be critical of lots of details, such as puckers, mismatched seams, etc.

The other theme, also brought up by 4 people, was how amused and/or surprised they were by the reactions that they get when people find out that they are wearing something that they made – apparently many people are amazed by the idea! (Possibly getting the cat face pictured above.) Debbie has even met people in Joann’s – in line to have fabric cut! – who are shocked by the fact that she is wearing her own creations. Okay, here’s one place where the idea should NOT be coming out of left field…

Becky, on the other hand, has the opposite experience – her friends know she sews and so they are more surprised if she tells them that she bought something in the store! ;)

Finally, Lisa Laree called out a reaction that she gets – and that she finds quite annoying – when people find out that she makes her own clothes. Apparently some people take it for granted that, if she sews, well of course she’d just love to sew (or mend!) something for them too… Yikes! Thank goodness I don’t run into that situation too often!

Thanks again to everyone who took the time to leave a comment! I love reading your stories! :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In the Queue Wednesday

Brandon's shirt is done. Carolyn's dress is the next frantic project in my queue - to be done by this coming Saturday afternoon. Yikes!

She asked for the shorter dress and the short sleeved jacket. And she picked a charming, perfect-for-a-nine-year-old, combination of (a) a white satin polyester for the foundation of both pieces, (b) a white-with-sparkles net overlay for the dress and (c) a white lace overlay for the short sleeved jacket. It's going to be unique and she's going to look beautiful in it! :)

Again, I'll try to get pictures for you this weekend.

Don't worry - I'll get this done! It's at the top of my queue. ;)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday's Torch Story

A man's character may be used by the adjectives which he habitually uses in conversation.
~Mark Twain

My ESL class is going very well so far! My students are amazing - they are so motivated and on-the-ball and just basically really nice people. As for me, I think I've got a better rhythm going this year. Each class begins with this sequence of 4 activities:

1. Quiz on the vocabulary words that they were assigned for homework the previous week. The quiz usually has around 24 items - half individual words and half simple sentences - half asking them to translate from Spanish to English and the other half vice versa.

2. Pronunciation Activity - I focus on two easily confused phonemes (ex. the /t/ sound and the /th/ sound). We practice them individually and then practice distinguishing them.

3. "Five English Words You Already Know" - our 5 cognates and 1 false cognate activity.

4. The Idiom of the Week.

This usually takes about 45 minutes, leaving 45 minutes for our main activity.

Last week our topic was adjectives and rather than simply giving them a list of common adjectives, I asked them to think of 5 adjectives describing 5 people in their families.

To prevent everyone from using the easy adjectives, like "My mother is nice. My father is intelligent. My brother is tall." etc., I made it a competition to come up with the most unique adjectives.

My winner described the people in her family as:

far sighted

Other adjectives that we got included:

skeletal (yikes!)

Not a bad set of adjectives to be able to habitually use in conversation, huh? ;)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Weekend Project: Some Things You've Taught Me

A man only learns in two ways, one by reading,
and the other by association with smarter people.
~ Will Rogers

I was thrown into a bit of a panic last week, when Ana informed me that Carolyn and Brandon's baptism ceremony - anticipated for summer of 2012 - was, in fact, scheduled for next Saturday (October 22nd). I had promised to make them outfits for the occasion, and thought that it would be a fun leisurely project to be started sometime next spring.

Instead, it has turned into a bit of a mad gallop, with a looming deadline nipping at my heels...

This weekend I made a muslin of Carolyn's dress and finished Brandon's shirt. As I sewed, I noted many of the little (and some not so little) things that I do differently, thanks to the comments and feedback that I get from you guys!

For example, based on your advice, I got some glass head IBC straight pins - and I love them!

I also regularly switch my needle position (left or right of center) to do top stitching - like around the pockets on Brandon's shirt.

And this time, I actually remembered a tip that Mamafitz gave me about applying interfacing to a facing.

Well, to be fair, I usually remember her tip - right after I iron on the interfacing and it is too late to follow it. ;)

This time I remembered it ahead of time. Instead of directly ironing the interfacing onto the fabric facing, I align the pieces (fabric & fusible interfacing) right sides together and stitched around two sides - the two sides that would normally have to be finished in some way.

Then I trimmed and clipped the corner.

Finally I turned them so that they were wrong sides together.

And finished it up by ironing on the fusible interfacing. This way, I didn't have to finish those two edges.

Didn't it come out nicely? Thanks, Mamafitz! I really like this method and plan to use it often!

So, Brandon picked out a very soft and drapey white fabric. He also asked for short sleeves. I was worried that this wouldn't be acceptable for a baptism, but Ana thought that it would be okay. He also picked out a bit of a cowboy pattern - with a pointy yoke. It isn't the most formal shirt in the world, but it should be super comfortable and I hope he really likes it just because it is what he asked for.

There is one way in which I did mess up - and I'm pretty annoyed at myself. His measurements were too large for the largest boy size that came with the pattern, and too small for the smallest man size. I went on the theory that it's easier to make something smaller than it is to make it bigger, and started by cutting out the smallest man size.

While that hypothesis may be true most of the time, I have now learned one glaring exception - the armscye. A larger shirt has a larger armscye and making that smaller would require adding fabric, not subtracting it. :(

So, I was able to take in the shoulders and take in the sides and shorten the shirt - but the armscyes are too large. :(

Here's hoping that it doesn't turn out to be a big deal for Brandon.

Here's a close-up, where you can see the herringbone weave pattern in the fabric.

I'll try to get pictures of Brandon and Carolyn in their baptism finery next weekend. Now, it's back to the sewing room for work on Carolyn's dress! ;)

I hope you all had wonderful sewing-filled weekends! :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Confession

"Ooh! I love this robe - did you make it yourself?"

First, I'd like to thank everyone for all the kind comments about my flower-power tunic. :)

I have worn it out in public twice now, and, it might be my imagination, but I think that people are actually more friendly than usual to me when I wear it.

Of course, there are several possible reasons for this. My preferred option is that seeing that silly frenzy of pink flowers puts people in a happy mood. ;)

Alternative explanations include:

1. Wearing it puts me in an exceptionally happy mood, and people are responding positively to my mood (not my outfit).

2. They are delighted to have something so ridiculous break the monotony of their day and are thinking to themselves, "Wait until I tell my friends about THIS!"

3. They are suspicious of my sanity and humoring me in the hopes that I don't go off the deep end right in front of them...

I guess we'll never know for sure. ;)

In any event, this leads me to a thought and some questions. I am sometimes asked, mainly by people who know that I sew, if I have made something that I am wearing. This generally makes me feel good - even though my sewing skills pale when compared to those of many of the bloggers that I read, I still feel happy that I can sew well enough to produce wearable garments.

But I know that a question like this can be taken in one of two ways. It can, for example, indicate that an outfit looks amateurish.

So, my questions - do you get this question? If so, from whom? Friends and family only, or also acquaintances and even strangers? Can people reliably distinguish the clothes that you make from the clothes that you buy? How does it make you feel when you get this question? Happy? Proud? Concerned? Disappointed? Annoyed?

Photo credit: Auction item on ebay

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to Sarah, Mamafitz, BConky, Anne, Webfrau, Mary, Carla, Wendy, Katherine, Gwen, Summerset, Linda and Kathy for talking back to my confession about sharpening scissors! I'm guilty of neglecting this chore, and asked how others deal with dull scissors.

First off, people were pretty evenly split between (a) I never have sharpened my scissors and (b) I sharpen them whenever they seem to need it.

Many of the people who don't have their scissors sharpened, reported that they usually use a rotary cutter instead of scissors, and they do change those blades regularly.

And two people admitted that they are more likely to replace dull scissors than sharpen them.

Where/how do people get their scissors sharpened? Most called out a sewing machine shop, but other suggestions were: Joann's, the scissor booth at the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo, and a surgical supply shop.

Two people did warn that having your scissors sharpened can mess them up, if the person doesn't know what he or she is doing.

Three people reported that they deal with dull scissors at home - 2 use the Fiskar scissor sharpener (although Linda isn't that happy with it) and Webfrau has a pair of Wiltshire scissors with a self-sharpening case. I had never heard of that before - how cool!

One last tip - several people keep multiple pairs of scissors on hand, save the good ones for the expensive fabric and let the old ones retire from the sewing room and start a second career cutting paper. Although, Mamafitz did point out that paper, cotton and linen are all forms of cellulose fiber, so she figures, if you use your scissors to cut one, why not the others too?

Thanks again to everyone for taking the time to leave a comment! And - yay! - I'm actually caught up on all my Talk Back Thursday posts! :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Talk Back Thursday (Yes, I know what day it is...)

Thank you so much to Faye, Mary, Gwen, Sarah, Patsijean, Katherine, Linda and Becky for talking back to my recent confession! I confessed that, despite a sewing room full of projects waiting for my attention, it took a new purchase to kick start my sewing, and asked how others get their mojo back when it flags...

And what did I learn? Well, first of all, the desire to sew does seem to flag periodically for almost everyone. Seven out of 9 commenters responded that they do have dry spells in their sewing. The exceptions were Linda - who has more of an issue finishing projects, but is pretty much always up for starting something new! - and Becky - who is more likely to lose her motivation for other activities, like knitting.

Why does it happen? I didn't specifically ask this question and so not many people addressed it, but there were two explanations offered. For Patsijean, it can be caused by having too many projects and not knowing where to start. For Becky, having a project not work out the way she had expected can put a temporary dent in her enthusiasm to get back into the sewing room. I can definitely relate to both of those situations!

How do people become recharged? Well, we have as many suggestions as we do commenters! Interestingly, there was only one idea that (sort of) came up twice - both Sarah and Katherine suggested that organizing-your-supplies / cleaning-your-sewing-room could help get you back on track. (Hence today's illustration - although I'm not sure how much good that broom is going to do Snow White as long as all those animals keep roaming around her kitchen...) Katherine apologized for the suggestion, saying that she knows that we don't want to hear this, but I think they're right - this certainly has worked for me in the past.

Faye searches for inspiration anywhere she can find it and Gwen often gets her inspiration from the other sewists in her sewing clubs.

Sarah has been motivated by (a) finishing up quick projects, (b) taking on a big project like a 6PAC, and (c) learning a new skill like drafting.

Mary also reports that it's never the same twice - sometimes her mojo comes back naturally and sometimes she guilts herself into getting back into the swing of things.

Finally, on those rare ocasions when Becky gets discouraged, she finds that permitting herself to take a short break is often all she needs to get her enthusiasm back.

Thanks again to everyone who took the time to leave a comment and share a little bit about your sewing lives! These are a lot of good suggestions that I'm going to keep in mind for the next time my sewing needs a jump-start!

Image credit: Paragon Fine Art

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesday's Torch Story

If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.
~ Tom Watson

That quote could easily be referring to sewing, but this time I happen to be talking about my ESL class. My second year of teaching English as a Second Language to Hispanic adults started up in early September. I was really excited about it - looking forward to improving on everything I tried last year.

What I didn't expect was the jump in enrollment - I have more than double the number of students from last year!

(Before you think that this is some reflection of my teaching, you should know that the Board of Directors launched a big campaign to draw in new students this year.)

I generally feel more confident than I did last year and I do think I'm doing a better job - but I have to say, looking out over 17 or 18 students and trying to make sure that each one is with me is very intense!

One issue that I'm still facing is the range in educational backgrounds. Just like last year, I have students with college degrees (earned in Spanish) and at least one student who is completely illiterate - she doesn't even know the Spanish alphabet.

So, in addition to the regular activities for each class session, I'm putting together easier exercises for my weaker students and supplemental activities for my stronger students (to fill the time when they finish the regular activities earlier than expected).

I found this cool book called "Take it to Your Seat: Vocabulary Centers" that has everything that you need to create a series of themed folders - each containing an activity that students can do alone or in pairs, at their desks.

The themes include things like antonyms, synonyms, suffixes, prefixes, etc. The book contains everything you need to make each folder - including a title page, a page of instructions, some kind of puzzle or game to play, a worksheet and an answer key to the work sheet.

I got all the pages laminated, cut out all the pieces, photocopied the worksheets and assembled all of the folders today. I'm excited to see what my students think of them. :)

As for Tom Watson's thought, let's hope that I'm increasing my success rate this year and NOT doubling my failures... ;)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

In the Queue Wednesday

While I'm generally not a big fan of making a fuss over my birthday, I must admit that there is one thing I love - getting gift certificates to fabric stores! I used just such a birthday gift certificate to to buy my first ever piece of Liberty of London fabric - this lawn print:

As soon as I saw it, I pictured a short, puffy sleeved blouse with a rounded collar - one that I could wear to brighten up a subdued business suit. I didn't have a pattern, so I had to estimate how much to buy. I really didn't want to overbuy, because it was $33 a yard! Yikes!

So, I used my "How Much Fabric?" reference cards to estimate what I'd need for that particular blouse, and bought 1.5 yards. Then, over the weekend, I went pattern shopping. Look what I found:

It is exactly the blouse that I had been picturing in my mind! And guess how much fabric my size calls for? 1 3/8ths yard. Just 1/8 yard less than I bought! How's that for excellent?

As expensive as the fabric was, I think I'm going to start by making a muslin. But don't worry, I'll get to this! I'm back sewing again, and it's in my queue... :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cool Chart Tuesday

My recent digression into 70's "fashion" reminded me of this infographic relating fashion and music through the decades. Notice that it captures how "beats per minute" change over time too (the y-axis).

Which of the styles represented here do you like? Which have you worn? Which have you sewn? Do you associate clothes with music? Is there any correspondence on this chart between the music that you like and the clothing styles that you like?

Photo credit: Meghan D'Mello

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Weekend Project: And The Rains Came...

To meet an old friend in a distant country is like the delight of rain after a long drought.
~ Chinese proverb

What a happy weekend! After 2 months of drought, I was finally reunited with my sewing machine! The inspiration for this reunion - a new project. I made the Patricia Tunic:

The pattern comes with 2 sleeve patterns - a bell sleeve and a straight sleeve (which can be made to many different lengths.) You can also choose to have add a contrasting yoke and/or cuffs. Interestingly, these are made simply by cutting out the facing pieces in a different fabric and sewing them on the outside, instead of on the inside, of the garment.

I decided to make a tunic with bell sleeves and contrasting yoke & sleeve cuffs.

One of the things that I like about the detailed and precise instructions, is that the pattern pieces have many lines indicating different lengths (for both the sleeves and the tunic itself) and you also get these illustrations showing how far down each will fall, depending upon your height:

Isn't that cool? These charts turned out to be spot-on accurate for me.

Okay, now some photos of my tunic - remember how I warned you that it would be Goldie Hawn ala Laugh In? Well, I wasn't exaggerating - brace yourself!

We'll start slowly - here is the end of a bell sleeve with the contrasting cuff:

Can you handle more? Here's a shot of the contrasting yoke:

If you are still with me (brave soul!) here is my tunic - in all its full glory:

You can't say I didn't warn you! ;)

I know it's crazy, but for some reason I really love it. The side slits are quite high (it really is a tunic), so I have to wear something - shorts, leggings, a blue jean skirt - underneath.

Anyways, it was wonderful to have the machine humming under my fingers again and I love my new tunic! It was just the perfect weekend! :)

I hope you had a wonderful sewing weekend too!