Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Monday, May 30, 2011
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Friday, May 27, 2011
Thursday, May 26, 2011
While most people gave good advice on this one, I was relieved to learn that I’m not totally alone. Two other commenters also have trouble remembering which piece should go against the feed dogs…
So, here’s what I got out of the comments (please correct me if I’ve misinterpreted anything!):
Basically, the feed dogs move the layer of fabric that they are touching just a bit faster than the top layer. So, in general, if you put the longer layer on the bottom, the feed dogs will help make it even out with the shorter layer.
Here are the times when people use them:
In general, put the longer piece of fabric against the feed dogs (5 votes)
Put the weaker grainline against the feed dogs (1 vote)
When attaching a waist band to a skirt or pair of pants, put the main garment piece on the bottom and the waist band on top (1 vote)
Put the back shoulder seam against the feed dogs (1 vote)
(I never realized that back shoulders are supposed to be longer than front shoulders; I always just thought that I didn’t cut them precisely enough!)
Good for princess seams and sleeve caps – the more sharply curved piece is the longer piece (1 vote)
Now, the feed dog feedback wasn’t 100% positive. ;)
Nicole, for example, always puts the minky fabric on top, away from the feed dogs, or else they stretch it out of shape.
Mamafitz and Debbie sometimes like to keep the more sharply curved piece (like the sleeve cap) on top, so that they can see exactly what is going on as they sew and take steps to correct any minor glitches before they become major problems.
Shannon doesn’t feel like the feed dog effect is such a big deal on the sewing machine – she only really pays attention to it on her serger, which moves much more quickly and thus is more difficult to make those small easing adjustments by hand.
Katherine sometimes feels like she has to fight the effect of the feed dogs – especially on long, straight seams – and she does this by either holding the fabric taut or by using her machine’s walking foot.
And Carla prefers the method of sewing princess seams that is explained by Kenneth King in this article.
And Elaina is so pregnant that right now she just doesn’t care. Oh, I’m sorry, Elaina! :(
Thanks again to everyone who left a comment! With all your help, I actually think I’ll be able to remember this now! :)
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
The success story – two of my students completed the first mission of the ESL Challenge Course! Each went to the local post office and purchased a postcard stamp (29 cents), on her own, speaking only in English. I had each woman pose for a picture with her evidence (postcard, stamp and receipt) in front of a (plastic) “red curtain” backdrop. I used my portable photo printer to print their pictures on the spot and post them on the bulletin board. They seemed pretty happy and proud. I ceremoniously gave them Mission #2 packets. Two other students reported that they plan to complete Mission #1 this coming week. Yay! :)
It felt pretty happy and exciting – a nice counterpoint to the other major event – a student broke down in tears because she felt overwhelmed. (Interestingly, it was one of the ones who had completed the first mission.) All year long I’ve felt pressure from the Board of Directors to quit allowing and using Spanish in class and insisting that it all be in English. Up through March I was mixing the 2 languages liberally. This summer, I decided to try to switch to exclusively using English. It looks like it was too big of a jump – one of my better students became distraught by not understanding enough of what I was saying and began crying. We spent the last 15 minutes or so of class dealing with this. Other students commiserated and expressed similar feelings. We all tried to say encouraging things, etc.
I understand that learning a second language is a difficult task and some frustration is unavoidable. But I don’t believe that anyone is learning at her best when she is driven to tears. I’m going to scale it back a little bit – try to remember to speak more slowly, allow some Spanish, etc. I’m also going to look for activities to help everyone practice their listening skills…
When I got home that night, my husband (a college professor) asked how my class had gone. I said it had gone poorly because I had “made” one of my students cry. He said his day had been worse – he had made 4 students cry! At first I didn’t believe him, but it turns out that it was true. He is also the undergraduate advisor for his department and that particular day 4 students had been in his office crying because, after failing a pre-requisite course in the Spring semester, they had been dropped from their summer classes… So, I guess it could have been worse…
Anyways, we also had something happen that I thought was very surprising and funny. For their reading homework, I had them read some advice columns from the newspaper. With one of the letters, I did not include the columnist’s answer. Instead, I asked them to imagine how they would respond. Briefly, a woman wrote in complaining about her boyfriend. Apparently he asked her for her idea of a perfect romantic evening. She told him. A few weeks later he “surprised” her by doing everything on her list – down to the last detail, exactly as she had described. She was complaining about his lack of creativity.
I asked the first student for her advice and she said that this woman should leave this boyfriend because he was no good! What!?!?! It was my opinion that the woman was being unreasonable. I think that men are often straightforward creatures – when you tell them what you want, they take it at face value and try to give it to you. So, I took a quick poll. The 3 American women in the room (me & 2 volunteer aides) all said that it was the woman’s fault. All 5 of my Hispanic students said that it was the man’s fault. I concluded that Hispanic women must have higher expectations for their men than American women do… ;)
So, I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me, trying to ease this transition for my students… Wish me luck.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Friday, May 20, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Thank you so much to Mary, Judidarling, Mamafitz, Lisa Laree, Summerset, Shannon and Patsijean for talking back to my confession last week. I asked about the methods that people use to attach sleeves to garments. In particular, I was curious about the differences between addding the sleeve in the "flat" fabric stage (before sewing up any side seams) versus closing up the shirt and sleeve individually first, before inserting the sleeve in the "round".
Finally, thank you to all the reassuring comments about my impending mid-life crisis. :)
Photo of sleeves that don't need to be attached: My tattoo designs
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
As we do fewer scripted grammar lessons and more open discussion in our ESL class, I learn more and more about my students.
One of my students is convinced that they are real, because she SAW a UFO, over 20 years ago, in her home country of Nicaragua! It was in the late evening and the sky was growing dark. She was walking across a field with her young son. The sky suddenly lit up and 3 huge objects with brillant lights raced by overhead. She and her son were terrified.
- Evolution - eh, not so much.
- Aliens walking among us - absolutely! ;)
Sunday, May 15, 2011
I figured that I might need to modify the armholes a bit to fit these revised sleeves, so I took the same commercial pattern and overlaid it on my RTW copied pattern and, again, sketched a mid-way line:
Once the fabric was cut with my revised pattern, this knit top serged together in a heartbeat. My order of construction was: shoulder seams, sleeves, side seams (including underarm seams) and then coverstitch hems.
I always have a hard time getting my fabric edge to line up nicely with my coverstitch. This time I tried basting a guideline first:
I turned the fabric along the guideline as I fed it through my machine.
The result is okay - possibly better than my usual results, but still far from the perfection that I see on other blogs... :(
So, here are some comparison shots of attempt #1 and attempt #1. Blogger flipped this first picture and I can't figure out how to get it flipped back. But it's my first version - notice the wavy collar and the practically straight line from shoulder through sleeve...
Saturday, May 14, 2011
When I first started sewing, I definitely preferred the flat method. Now I'm getting less particular. It seems like the open & flat method is easiest for shallow sleeve caps and the tube insertion method is easier for steep sleeve caps. Also, obviously, the tube insertion method is best if you are adding any gathers to the sleeve...
What about you? Do you have a preference? If so, which and why? If you have a preference, is it strong enough that you use it, even when the instructions describe a different method?
Friday, May 13, 2011
Thank you so much to Carla, Mamafitz, Sarah, Katherine, Sarah, Debbie, Lisa Laree and Shannon for talking back to my confession last week! I asked if people diligently followed the sewing instructions that direct us to do a seam twice – first basting and then, immediately afterwards, stitching.
It sounds like most people do at least some basting. Only 1 person replied “never” and one other replied “rarely.”
As for when to baste, I got the impression that the commenters rely more heavily on their judgment than the pattern instructions. The most commonly mentioned reasons to baste were:
- “tricky bits” that might not line up (2 votes)
- to check the fit of a garment before committing to small stitches or the serger (2 votes)
- pleats (2 votes)
Other circumstances for basting first, each called out by one person, included: stay stitching knits, gathering, curvy seams, trim, straps, invisible zippers and expensive or fragile fabric.
Interestingly, the topic of basting sleeves brought up the most discussion.
Three people reported that they never baste their sleeves. They seem to rely on a combination of heavy pinning (and thanks to Carla for a link to this tutorial! - ) and/or attaching them flat (before the side seams have been sewn up) and trimming any excess fabric at the edges.
Some will do ease stitching to set in a puffy sleeve – although Mamafitz does her ease stitching with a regular length stitch. When Lisa Laree is feeling the pull of perfectionism, she’ll baste 2 rows of ease stitches into each puffy sleeve and adjust each row separately! Now that is attention to detail!
Finally, a couple of people reported that, while they don’t baste their sleeves, they do stitch them twice to reinforce them. Sarah E. stitches two seams – one at 5/8ths of an inch and the other at ¼. Shannon doesn’t go all the way around a sleeve twice, but she does reinforce several inches of the underarm seam with a second row of stitches. (And she does the same for crotch seams.)
Thanks again to everyone who took the time to comment! I learn so much from all your advice and experience! :)
Photo – in honor of Sarah, who does about half her basting by hand! – from:http://www.squidoo.com/handstitchingtechniques
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Here is a classic pinstripe lightweight suiting material that is just crying out to be made into dress trousers suitable for work.
I'd like to keep trying to draft my own pants pattern from this Threads article (January 2008):
I got close last time - the main change I'd like to make is to have the pants stay wide, instead of narrowing so much.
Oh, beautiful fabric, don't give up on me! I'll get to you someday... You're in the queue. :)
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Tonight we'll play again and I'll pass out the envelopes for the first mission of our ESL Challenge Course.
I've been searching for more reading assignments. For next week I have them reading a couple of classic Ann Landers columns - and then trying their hand at answering a letter. I can't wait to see what they come up with. ;)
After that, I think I'll have a short biography of Mother Teresa and maybe a story or two from the Panchatantra - a collection of Indian fables originally written in Sanskrit!
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Friday, May 6, 2011
But it occurred to me that we have something similar in our sewing instructions. Certain seams - such as when you are inserting sleeves - often call for two passes with the machine - a row of basting followed immediately by a row of stitching.
My confession - I rarely do this. Basically, I only do it when I am doubtful of my ability to get a good fit (no puckers, etc.) the first time.
So, how about you? How often do you do the row of basting first, before the regular stitches? When do you do it? If you don't do it, why not? Does anyone know the reasoning behind these instructions?
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
And here is more beautiful fabric, just sitting in my sewing room and waiting for me... I even have the lining on hand!
The print is gauzy and, despite its appearance on my computer monitor, is gray-hued, not brown...
I think it will make a lovely skirt - hopefully a cross between romantic and professional enough for work. I don't have a pattern in mind yet...
It almost hurts sometimes, to see all these projects that I so badly want to get to, and to watch the days and weeks slip through my fingers...
But, I promise myself as I slowly fold it back up and replace it in my project bin, I will get to this someday. It's in the queue...