Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Confession

So, I haven't gotten into the sewing room for a while... :(

I've got a ton of projects in there waiting for me - some for myself and some for others - and some for others that I should have finished months ago! For a while, I've been telling myself that there'll be no buying of new projects until I make a big dent in my existing projects...

But recently I slipped and bought 2 new patterns (for myself) - and then I used a Joann's gift certificate to buy some fabric for those patterns - and suddenly I find myself motivated again. Just using 10 minutes here and 15 minutes there, I've printed and assembled and cut the fabric for BOTH patterns! And I'm excited about getting into my sewing room to make them both!

It seems like I needed something new to get me going again...

So, how about you? When you are busy and tired and somehow just aren't finding (or making) the time to get into your sewing room, is there something in particular that gives you the kick-in-the-butt that you need to get back in there? A special type of project? Sewing for yourself or someone else? A deadline? A TNT or a stretch goal? Or does this never happen to you?

Photo credit: shirokazan

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to Lynne, Linda, Faye, Lori, Patsijean, Mamafitz, Sarah, Corrine, Anne, Mary, Debbie, Claire and Gwen for talking back to my confession several weeks ago. I asked how people feel about the free arm feature of a sewing machine.

We had a somewhat bell-like distribution of responses. There were 3 dislikes, 7 middle of the road votes (some "can-go-either-way"s and some "good for small tubes, but that's about it"s), and 3 loves.

I learned something interesting from the dislike votes - I've never had a sewing machine that sits down into a table, so I didn't realize how nice it could be to have a really large flat base for your fabric to lay across. But this (the lack of surface support under the fabric) was the main reason that some people don't really like the free arm.

Lynne gave another reason to dislike the free arm machine - she explained that the needle sits further back, reducing visibility (as compared to an in-table machine.) She finds that it is challenging for her sewing students.

As I said earlier, we had a few people on the other extreme - who love it and use it a lot - and then the majority of the commenters either didn't have a strong opinion or use the free arm just for limited situations (mostly sewing together narrow tubes).

Everyone did agree, however, on the best way to sew narrow tubes together when you don't have a free arm - it is: sew from the INSIDE, not the outside. Mamafitz sent me a link to one of her pictures, illustrating what they mean:

It's funny - when I looked at this picture I realized that, in fact, I do it the wrong way! So, I may keep using the free arm on my sewing machine for sewing 2 columns together, but I really appreciate this advice for my serger, because it doesn't have a free arm. You can bet that I'll be trying this out soon! ;)

Thanks again to everyone who took the time to leave a comment! As always, I love to read your stories and I learn something every time! :)

PS - I'm sorry I've been falling behind on my posts. In addition to general busyness, I've been feeling under the weather, with sinus/sore throat/coughing stuff. But I'm starting to feel better and will try to get back on schedule ASAP. :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cool Chart Tuesday

This is so true - isn't it?

Well, at least I HOPE it's true! And you'll see why this weekend... (Here's a hint: think Goldie Hawn, Laugh-In and flower children...)

Image credit: 9GAG

Sunday, September 25, 2011

They're Here!

The Baby & Toddler set of The Original "How Much Fabric?" Reference Cards have finally arrived from the card printers!

This set has 1 card for all baby clothes (newborn - 18 months), and then 6 cards for toddlers - one each for dresses, skirts, tops, pants, coats/jackets and nightwear. The toddler cards cover sizes 1 - 6.

And they fit perfectly into the library card catalog that I found on the liquidation auction site, GovDeals. (You know, the perfect place to go for used parking meters, fork lifts and cranes...)

Isn't this the perfect storage solution AND a beautiful piece of furniture?

So, this makes 4 sets available - women's clothes, women's plus sizes, men's clothes and babies & toddlers. Only one set left to go (children - sizes 7 - 16) and I'm about half-way done entering all of those patterns into spreadsheets. My goal is to have this last set out in time for Christmas.

I've also set up a Facebook page with a store front and I'm trying to figure out how to embed "Like" buttons into things (email messages, this blog, the gwynhug website, etc.) I'd really appreciate it if you would swing by here and Like my page! Thanks! :)

I hope you are having a wonderful sewing weekend! :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to Gwen, Carla, Mary and Sarah for talking back to my confession last week! I asked if your experience sewing has changed the way you look at clothes and fashion and, if so, how. Gwen reported that she has always sewn, so she doesn’t really have a “pre-sewing” comparison point. But everyone else answered with a resounding, “Yes!”

For me, the impact falls into two main categories. First, when I see an outfit that I like, I am much more likely now to analyze it into separate features and think about how it could be made. Sarah called out this post-sewing change too. Pre-sewing, I just formed a global impression of, “Oooh, how pretty!” ;)

Sarah and I also agreed on another impact – post-sewing, both of us are less likely to buy things that would be easy to make or are cheaply / poorly made. I never used to look at the inside of an OTR (off the rack) garment before deciding whether or not to purchase it – now, I always do!

But the impact that was most frequently called out across all of the commenters was actually an increased ability to assess fit. Sarah and Mary both say that, through sewing, they have learned how to assess a garment’s fit on themselves and others. Along those same lines, Carla says that her sewing experience has improved her ability to recognize body types and the styles and colors that are flattering on her.

All of these comments reflect a deeper understanding of the relationship between clothes and the human body – I don’t think I’ve gotten there yet… Hopefully someday!

Finally, Sarah reported that she has gained the ability to look beyond a garment’s current state and figure out if she can work with it to create something that she will love. (She does a lot of repurposing of thrift store clothing.) Another visual skill that I have yet to master…

Thanks again everyone! You’ve given me a lot to think about, and I’m going to try to consciously focus on improving some of those visual skills that you have called out! :)

Photo credit: Esquire

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In the Queue Wednesday

And here is the pattern that I had to buy from You Can Make This, to keep the Patricia Tunic pattern company in the shopping cart... ;)

This is called the Rebecca Shift Dress - another JP/CC collaboration. If I can get a version to fit me, it should be perfect for work. Again, I think it's going to be fun to pick out the fabric for this dress.

Maybe these purchases will motivate me to force some time into my schedule for sewing... I sure hope so! In any event, no more pattern buying for me until I make something! ;)

I'm really looking forward to making this dress... It's in the queue. :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cool Chart Tuesday

I know that some people are interested in selling what they sew and others aren't. But I bet everyone would be at least a little interested in knowing what it's like - how easy is it to sell stuff (on etsy, for example) and how much money could a person make...

Well, this infographic doesn't provide all the answers, but it does track one person's crocheting for three months. Uloni tracked how long she spent crocheting items, how long each item sat in her etsy store before being sold, and where in the world it was sent. It's pretty cool to think of someone in a foreign country paying for and wearing your stuff, isn't it?

None of this would be possible without the internet - even though I lived through it (not that it's over), I still sometimes have trouble conceiving of how much the internet has changed our world...

Original site: the etsy blog

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Confession

In the years P.D.E. (pre-digital era), my husband and I were seriously into amateur photography - camera club members, home darkroom, the whole bit... One night at a camera club meeting, a friend commented that it was her fascination with natural light that drew her to photography. I thought about it for a minute and realized that it had worked backwards for me - it wasn't until I got into photography that I really started noticing and appreciating natural light.

So, what about you and sewing? Has your involvement with sewing changed something about the way that you look at the world? Do you look at clothes and fashions, for example, differently? Or was there something that you saw in the world that drew you to sewing? Or maybe, a little bit of both?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I'm so sorry, but I'm on a business trip and I'm not going to be able to get my "Talk Back Thursday" post up today. I promise that I'll catch up over the weekend!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

In the Queue Wednesday

Okay, this is really bad, but it's like I'm substituting buying sewing projects for being able to sew... :(

I rarely even look at the fliers that clutter up my email inbox every day, but I opened one recently (from You Can Make This) and found myself enchanted by this tunic pattern... To be fair, I have had good experiences with other Jennifer Paganelli and Carla Crim collaborations. Their reversible Carly Bubble Romper is my favorite baby gift...

Anyways, next thing I knew, the tunic pattern was in my shopping cart (along with something else - it looked so lonely there all by itself!) and I was checking out...

I love the rectangular yoke and bell sleeves. I'm looking forward to picking out fabric for it and sewing it up! It should be perfect for what we call "winter" here in Florida. ;)

A promise to myself - I'm going to get back into my sewing room and make this top! It's in the queue...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cool Chart Tuesday

This is a little off-topic, but I found this interesting breakdown about bloggers - I found several bits surprising.

Would you have guessed that:
  • 40% of bloggers have advanced degrees?
  • 50% are between 35 and 54 years old?
  • 25% earn over $100,000 per year?
And how many blogs are out there? Over a year ago (when this infographic was created) it was estimated that there were almost 150,000,000 blogs! Yikes!

I'd love to see an infographic like this for sewing blogs - I bet the male/female proportion would be different! (among other things...) Anybody got a lot of free time on their hands? ;)

Original site: flowtown

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Morning Quarterback

You owe it to everyone you love (including yourself)
to find pockets of tranquility in your busy world.
~ Unknown

I've been complaining (okay, maybe even "whining") a lot about being too busy to get into the sewing room, but I haven't said much about what's filling my time... Here are a few quick updates:

Update #1 - We started up with our dancing lessons again. We had 3 lessons this summer with one studio in town. Then the instructor didn't show for our 4th lesson and didn't return any calls or emails, so we went ahead and tried a new studio. This instructor is much more particular technically, and it looks like we are going to have to unlearn a bunch of bad habits that our previous instructor let us get away with... (Thank goodness it was only 3 lessons, right?)

Speaking of our previous instructor, did I tell you about the unusual experience that we had with him? I was googling his name to look for reviews of his teaching and discovered... his MUG SHOT! Yup, he was a convicted felon... (possession of stolen property) That's a bit unsettling, isn't it?

So far, no mug shots of our current instructor have turned up. Fingers crossed! ;)

If we keep this up, maybe I can go beyond circle skirts and make some fun dancing dresses...

Update #2 - My ESL class has started up. I was so happy to see 4 of my students from last year show up for the intermediate class this year. This being my second year, I felt so much more comfortable and confident for our first class.

I did an assessment (with items in both Spanish and English) and was able to speak individually with each student for a few minutes - enough to get a reasonable sense of their starting levels. And my new class of 10 beginners looks to be an excellent group! I'm already planning to increase the difficulty of some of my exercises and push people a little bit harder than I did last year. I think I can do it without stressing anybody out.

I'll start putting up "Tuesday Torch Story" posts about my class in a couple of weeks - I have a few more cool charts ready to go first...

Update #3 - You know how sometimes you wish you had some parking meters, a crane, a polygraph and a used ambulance just laying around? Well, I have discovered a website where you can purchase just these types of things! It's and it's an auction site where places liquidate used items. In addition to the aforementioned items, I found a school selling a batch of used sewing machines (unfortunately, they are gone now) and in the Richmond, VA someone is auctioning off PALLETS of bolts of fabric (listed under Arts & Crafts -- auction ends Wednesday)! Check it out - it's amazing the things you can buy!

I'm bidding on something - keep you fingers crossed that I get it! If I do, there will be photos in the future! ;)

Well, that's about it for me for now... Oh - I know that I owe you all a "Talk Back Thursday" post from last week - I'm so sorry I didn't get it up on schedule and I WILL get it up for you soon!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Confession

So, this week's confession is another thing that I'm probably not as good about as I should be - it's my sewing scissors - while I am very good about never using them for cutting paper, I have never had them sharpened... :(

How about you? Do you get your scissors sharpened regularly? If so, how often? And do you do it yourself or do you have it done somewhere? I see that my local Joann's sometimes has a sign up for free sharpening - do you take advantage of those events? What do you recommend?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

In the Queue Wednesday

It feels like the last time I was in my sewing room was in the Stone Age! :(

At this point, I just hope I can remember how to thread my machine... You see, my model didn't come with the handy-dandy auto-threading avian accessory featured in illustration above. ;)

I don't care WHAT I work on next - I just want to have some time to sew...

I'll get to it - I hope! It's in the queue...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Cool Chart Tuesday

Today's "cool chart" may be a trip down memory lane for some of you - does anyone remember 4H?

My sister and I were members for several years - as farm girls, we did modules on horses and goats. One year we even took our ponies to the state fair. During the competition in the ring, our ponies, separated by several other horses and ponies in the line, spent the entire time whinnying back and forth to each other. We were so embarrassed! Apparently NONE of us were seasoned show veterans... ;)

Anyways, I stumbled on a 4H sewing module - take a look at the skills that young people are expected to demonstrate. Are there any skills that you think are missing from this list? How would you do against this list? (Personally, I plead the fifth...)

Here's a link to the original source: click here.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Weekend Project: Celebrating 29

Baby we're a work in progress
and our palette is still wet.
Better get a bigger canvas,
we ain't seen our best days yet...

Lyrics from "Making It Up As We Go" by Scott Campbell

This weekend my husband and I celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary. After all these years, we are kind of hit-and-miss on the gifts. Some years we go in together and get something that we both want for the house, some years we get each other real gifts, and other years we just enjoy a nice dinner and exchange cards.

This year we had agreed to skip the gifts, but I still wanted to do something special to commemorate the occasion. He sets the bar pretty high on the thoughtfulness index - he writes me love songs! (See lyrics above.)

In comparison, I was feeling pretty helpless - I can't write songs or poetry or anything like that... But then inspiration struck! And here is the gift that I made for my husband for our 29th wedding anniversary - a memory book:

I started with a pseudo-classic-leather-bound book-like box from Pier One Imports:

It could be a cigar case, couldn't it?

But I had something different in mind to fill it up! I got some clear labels (1 x 2 5/8 inch) that can be run through my computer printer and I printed up 29 of them with a collection of memories from our years together:

Then I affixed the labels to colorful lightweight cardstock tags - found in the scrapbooking section of my local Michael's store:

Finally, I tied a thin ribbon loop through each tag hole:

Voila! The perfect anniversary gift - a Memory Book! Guaranteed to lead to hours of happy reminiscing together...

What kind of memories did I include? Everything from:

  • the smallest details like the song that was playing on the car radio as we drove home from our first date 31 years ago ("Longer Than" by Dan Fogelberg)
  • to silly things like the license plate bingo cards he made up for us while we were driving from Florida to Illinois one time (his card included states like Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Alabama, etc. and my card included states like Alaska, Hawaii, New Mexico, California, etc. - he won, go figure!)
  • to embarrassing things like the time I made him take me to my first (and last) X-Rated movie - and then made him take me out of the theater 10 minutes after it started!
  • to some of our hiking and camping and rock climbing adventures (one of which involved Africanized killer bees!)
  • to our first home computer in the early 1980s - a Commodore Vic-20 with an amazing 5K of RAM !!
I can't think of a better way to celebrate an anniversary than by remembering the many moments that made up your years together... :)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday Confession

Sometimes I joke about the limited features on my sewing machine - but it has one feature that I absolutely love - I can remove part of the bed, which leaves only a narrow extension that fits inside of cuffs, etc. for all but small children's clothes. (I am pretty sure that this is referred to as a "free arm", but I could be wrong on that...)

I love this and use it all the time - probably even when I don't really need it, such as in the photo above. ;)

I wouldn't buy a sewing machine without this feature and it constantly drives me crazy that my serger doesn't do it.

So, how about you? Does your machine have this feature? Is it important to you? If you don't use it, do you have any tips for sewing in columns such as pant hems and sleeve cuffs?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to Shannon, Judidarling, Webfrau, Clarie, Shannon Hillinger, Dressed2atee, Katherine, Debbie, Mary, Patsijean, CarlaF, Mamafitz, Linda T, Becky and Summerset for talking back to my confession last week! The topic was sewing machine speed settings – what controls people have and how they use them.

First, with regards to what controls people have on their machines, here is the breakdown from least common to most common:

Two (2) people have machines with 3 speed levels – throwing in a “medium” setting.

Four (4) people reported that they regularly use a machine that, like mine, has 2 settings – one slower and one faster (although different machines label them differently).

Five (5) people have machines with a slider control – so that you can make small adjustments to the machine’s top speed when the pedal is “to the metal”. ;)

What caught me by surprise was the most frequently called out answer – SIX (6) people regularly sew on machines that only provide the foot pedal to control the speed – no additional button, switch or slider to modify the impact of pressing on that pedal.

Now, how do people use this option?

Well, amongst those that can change the speed setting, the most typical strategy – reported by 9 people – is to use the fastest setting as a default, and slow things down under special circumstances. Here is a list of the examples of times when people prefer to use the slow setting:

When working with inexperienced sewers (including children & students) – 4 mentions

Any time you need to increase control and/or precision – 3 mentions

Free motion quilting – 3 mentions

Top- or edge- stitching – 2 mentions

Tricky bits like curves and corners – 2 mentions

Attaching rows and rows of sequins without breaking the needle! - 1 mention

Of course, not everyone is comfortable with the highest speed setting. Three people like to keep their machine around medium speed normally, and three people reported that they rarely (or even never) use the fastest setting. Machine embroidery and long, straight seams were called out as special circumstances that do justify the fastest setting.

I also picked up a tidbit of information that is new to me. Shannon mentioned that her machine has a start/stop button and she doesn’t even need to use her foot pedal if she doesn’t want to. Does anyone have this, use it and like it? That seems really weird to me – I can’t imagine sewing without the foot pedal. Of course, I drive manual transmission too… ;)

And Katherine had a suggestion regarding topics for my Friday Confessions – that I make sure that everyone realizes that I would be delighted to hear your suggestions for topics that you would like to see addressed! So, please, if you ever find yourself wondering what other people think about something sewing-related, shoot me an email ( or leave a comment on one of my posts, and I’ll write it up one Friday – giving you credit, of course! :)

Thanks again to everyone who left a comment! You guys rock! :)

Photo credit: Joanne at Today We Made