Tuesday, February 26, 2008

My New Best Friend

I have had this little goodie in my stockpile ever since I purchased David Coffin's book Shirtmaking. I have tried a few times to figure out how to use it and been totally stymied. You all know I am making that BWOF shirt for the blouse-making class. Well, I decided that flat felled seams would look great on this shirt, so today, after much running around and emotion, I decided to do some seam practice. I tried my felling foot. No luck. I tried a few other methods I had read and they all looked less than perfect. I finally decided to pull Shirtmakingoff the shelf and do a little studying. After reading the section on felled seams a couple of times (I guess I'm a slow student) it finally clicked. I tried it out a few times and was pleased with the result EVERY TIME! I love my felling foot. I will be felling all over the place now! I'm so excited, I even made a little tutorial on how to make a flat-felled seam. I hope it inspires you!

Monday, February 25, 2008


Just wanted to let you know that I have updated my SWAP blog and noted the changes I'm making.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Getting to the blouse

I spent most of my day today working on my blouse muslin. After transferring the changes from my first muslin onto the pattern pieces, and then sewing it up, I can see that I still have some issues. First of all , the front is just too tight. I think I made the mistake somewhere in the front facing. Oh well, I'm adding 1" to each of the fronts, near the CF, and that should take care of it. I also sewed in the sleeves this time, and they were way to tight. So, I took one of the sleeves and added a 1" strip of fabric right down the middle and that seemed to take care of it. I'm pretty satisfied with the fit now, and so I cut out the fabric today. I've decided to use a light green cotton oxford cloth that I picked up at JoAnns. I really like the feel of this fabric and may buy some more in a different color. I re-read my lessons from the Build a Better Blouse class (I'm WAY behind) and did sew the collar. At last I feel like I finally have something done!

I also made a pair of pants this weekend. It is from an old Simplicity OOP pattern. I don't have any pictures, but I just wanted some simple pull on pants and this was the only pattern I had. I checked the ease using Sandra Betzina's Fast Fit book, and found that I could get by cutting out at 14 instead of my usual 16 for my big ol 40" hips. Well, I should have cut the 12 because I ended up taking them in about an inch on each side seam and I cut off almost 2" from the top of the waist! They look OK, but the fit isn't the greatest. That's OK, they're comfortable and definitely wearable. It's not like I'm going to be tucking in any shirts with these!

I think I've been on a pattern buying spree lately. First I ordered 2 patterns from Hot Patterns, which came yesterday in the mail

I have been wanting to make a pair of jeans, so these might be the ones. And I remember body suits from my highschool days. I loved them then, I think I would love them now. I hate when shirts work their way up where they don't belong. I don't know how I'll like the boy short leg cut, but we'll see.

THen, JoAnns had their Vogue Patterns sale. I decided to buy a few.

I think I got another one too, but I can't remember which one it was. I think another of the Claire Shaeffer jackets.

Now - to actually get some sewing done. I've been pretty busy (and preoccupied) trying to get things taken care of for my dad. He is getting worse and is seeing things that are not there. We took him to the doctor, and he told my dad that he cannot live alone anymore. I don't know if it really sunk in, but my brother and I are taking him to look at some assisted living places on Tuesday. We also are going to the welfare office (that should pretty much eat up our day) to get him signed up for Medical. Don't even get me started on the welfare office! Does it make sense to wait in line in that place for a couple of hours just to get some forms that you will then have to take home, fill out, and then return to wait for more hours upon hours to turn them in????!!! Well, they open at 7:30 am. I plan on being there at 7:00!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sleeveless blouse Collar Tips

Collar Here are some tips on the collar. First of all, make sure that you cut the collar on the fold - on the bias. I didn't understand the fold and cut 2. Fortunately I had enough fabric left over to do it again.
First of all, there is a notch about 1-2" away from the left shoulder seam on the front of the bodice. clip this all the way to the seamline and turn it under from the clip to the shoulder. I turned it under 2x to have a clean finished edge. Stitch this down. You now have a very small section of the neck finished.
Mark the CF, CB, #2(shoulder seam) and fold marks on the collar piece. Pin the collar onto the neck (just one side of the collar) right sides together, matching CF and CB. You should have a short end left over on the front, and a long end left over on the back. Fold these ends on the lengthwise fold and stitch the short end and the under part right sides together to finish off these "ties". Now, fold under the seam allowance of the unattached part of the collar, and pin it to the inside of the neck edge, enclosing all the raw edges. Stitch this down close to the edge. Now everything should look finished except that you have two ends sticking out over the left shoulder.

If this picture won't enlarge, try this link

On the short end, fold the finished edge back to the inside on the fold line that you marked earlier. sew along the edge creating something like a casing. The other end of the tie will go through this "tube" Take a needle and double thread and make a running stitch down the middle of this casing on the underside only. Pull your stitches tight to gather up this inside of the casing. tie a knot to hold it in. Insert the other end of the tie through this loop that you just made.
If you are making this top and have any questions, please feel free to PM me. I didn't take any pictures while I was doing this because I didn't think it would show up well on my fabric. It really helped me to make a mock-up on scrap fabric to figure this out.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sleeveless blouse - finished

I wanted a quick and easy project. This blouse is rated 1.5 dots, which on burda's rating scale, is fairly easy. What was I thinking? Actually, after I finally figured out what in the world they were doing with this tie (it only took me about 2 hours - I'm not kidding - to figure it out) then it was fairly easy. Oh, that and the fact that I made the opening on the RIGHT instead of the LEFT, so I had to keep switching that in my head when reading the directions. It took longer than I had thought, but I really like the results. If you want to make this top, you may want to check the armholes. They are a little small. Not enough that I'm going to rip them out and do it again, just a little tight.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Here We Go Again - BWOF 3/07 blouse

Obviously, I just do not have a normal body. I'm having all kinds of fit issues again. As you can see in these pix, there are some definite areas of concern.

Some fixes I did on my own. I moved the shoulder seam 1/2 in toward the front and that seemed to help. I also realized I needed to move the bust point down about 1/2 inch. I had already cut a 36 at the shoulder, 38 under the arm tapering to a 40 at the waist and 42 at the hip. I did not raise or lower the waist.

Thankfully, I am taking Shannon Giffords blouse class on PR and she has given me some good suggestions. First of all, I lowered the shoulder 1/2" for a sloping shoulder. Next, I did the dart change, only changing the point of the dart and angling down from the original side seam markings. Shannon suggested that lowering the entire dart would make the bust look lower and I have had this experience (on the dreaded dress)
Next, I took a 1" tuck all the way around the bodice at the elbow to see if this would improve the proportions. I think it has made a good difference.

I have sent pix to Shannon and am hoping to get "further instructions" tomorrow. This class is not a fit class at all, so I really appreciate her expert advice. She is always so helpful and a great teacher. If you ever get the opportunity, I would recommend taking a class from her.

Tonight PR had an "expert chat" with Aimee of Betsy Ross Patterns. That was interesting and fun. It's great to see people who have put their dreams into reality. Sometimes making fairly good money is not such a good thing. It makes you feel "stuck" in your job. I got into teaching because I really love it. I still do. Too bad "teaching" is so little of what I do. Actually, I am teaching all day long, but I really have no choice over what I teach, or even how I teach it to a certain degree. Our days are practically scripted for us (and are literally scripted in some areas.) Our districts "motto" is Children First. It should be "test scores first" or "Federal money first" or "Administrative upgrades" first. I even know some teachers who have cut the "children first" off of their name tags because of the frustrations of all we are asked to do that has so little to do with the true education of children. Teachiing is almost NOTHING about why I got into it about 25 years ago. It is discouraging. I would really like a change, but I feel stuck because of the money. It's not even the money, but moreso the benefits. Health insurance in particular. My husband has pretty good benefits, but they do not cover me or the kids. Just one visit to the emergency room will give you a quick lesson in why insurance is essential. I have had some great improvements in my health lately (I have rheumatoid arthritis and have recently been able to get OFF of the chemotherapy that I have been on for the past couple of years - Yay!) but even simple things like viruses, medications, asthma, can add up to big medical bills. I'm really thankful that I have good insurance and I intend to make sure that I keep it!

Tomorrow I have the day off. I'm hoping to get some sewing done!! I'm doing TERRIBLY on my fabric diet. It's almost a lost cause (not giving up and still keeping track.) I bought six yards of fabric when I went in to JoAnns today plus I bought a partial bolt of tracing material, about 11 yards. Everything was on sale, so I didn't even use my coupon. I also bought about 5 spools of thread.

Here are the fabrics I bought. The pink one is a lighter weight brocade. The green is a pale lime colored poly silky. It is almost like a chiffon, but a little heavier and opaque. The black and white print is called a crinkle chiffon, but really it is more like a georgette in that it is also more opaque than chiffon, but still fairly sheer. I'm going to make the tie neck blouse from the Feb issue of BWOF in either the green or B&W, or both!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Your basic blouse

You would think that a basic blouse/shirt, would be easy to find. I'm taking the build a better blouse class and we need a blouse pattern with button front, long sleeves and cuffs, collar and band, darts or princess seams. There are a number of changes we are doing to the pattern, mainly on the collar and cuffs. I have a lot of blouse patterns, but most of them do not have a band with the collar. Some do not have a collar at all. I do not want to go out and buy another pattern.

Originally, I was going to use the blouse pattern that I've made before from the Sew U book. As I got everything out to check all the pieces, I remembered that seam allowances were kind of mixed up. She has some seams with 1/2" some with 3/8" and some with 1/4" Some of those changes could have been mine, but I can't remember. I can't seem to find the information in the book. I didn't mark the seamlines on all the pattern pieces, so I'm not sure. I would probably have to reread the whole book, or retrace all the pattern pieces. The original pattern pieces do not show the seam allowances either, so I guess I'd be back to reading the whole book again. Not going to do that. I decided to make the above BWOF blouse instead. It is from the March 2007 issue. It meets all the requirements for the class and the PR wardrobe contest. I haven't decided what I'm going to make it out of yet, because I want it to work with both wardrobe plans. I may go ahead and make it out of a plain white broadcloth, or I also have some B&W striped shirting, but I'm not sure I'll have enough. BWOF patterns always call for wide fabric, and most cotton fabrics in my area are sold in 45" widths. I also have a poly/silk blend that I may use.

I traced the pattern this morning and am going to try to make a basic (AKA not wearable) muslin later today just to check the fit. I hope I like this pattern because it would be a good basic shirt pattern that could handle a lot of changes.

I finally got my February BWOF in the mail this week, and there are A LOT of things I like: Here are some of the line drawings of my favorites.

There are quite a few others, too. I even like the coat that everyone says looks like a bathrobe. It really is cute, but the flowers in the girls hair make it look like she's wearing curlers. But look at the lines of the coat. Check out all that topstitching on the hem and sleeves. I think this pattern has a lot of potential. It also would take a lot of altering - it is for petites and I'm 5'6. I was checking out the BWOF size charts and I would have to alter the bust to shoulder, waist to bust, back waist, shoulder to elbow, and waist to hem. I probably wouldn't have to alter the sleeves since I have short arms. Maybe ...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Thanks so much for all of your prayers and kind thoughts. Today was difficult. We also found out that at this point there is nothing we can do. We have to see an attorney. We have to get conservatorship. We looked at several assisted living situations. We visited my dad and listened to his wild stories. We made him mad by asking him not to drive his scooter on the highway. It was a difficult day. But God is good. We have peace (or at least a degree of it.) We got a lot of answers even though we can't take any action yet. We had a good day with Dad. We were both there to support each other. We shared tears. So it was not a horrible day. There are still more difficult days to come. But God will be there with us, guiding us and directing us. We know we are doing the right thing and we are thankful that we have each other to get us through this. Thank you so much for your prayers and support. It really means a lot to me.

I'm dreading today

Today I have off and I'm not sick. I was really hoping to do some more sewing today since the first lessons are now posted for the build a better blouse class. No, that's not what I'm doing today.

My dad is going downhill fast. He is having hallucinations. He lives about 45 minutes away in the foothills and is driving his motorized scooter down the highway. His neighbor is going crazy trying to help him/worrying about him. It is time for my dad to no longer live alone. He thinks everything is fine and that he should be able to stay in his own house. We wanted him to come live with us, but it is even beyond that now. I don't think he should be left alone during the day and both my brother and I work full time. We are going to have to find a place for him and he is not going to want to go there. This is not going to be a good day. I am praying for strength and wisdom.

Finally a little sewing done

I finished a few things this weekend. The black pants that have been waiting for a hem ever since I lost my shoe (found it - in the box, on the shelf where it belonged - no wonder...)

and the striped shirt. I'm not totally happy with the striped shirt. It has more ease than I like for a Tshirt, but I'm not sure I dislike it enough to take out the hem and the sleeve hems and tighten it up. I washed it, and that helped a little. Knits tend to stretch out when you're working on them.

I do like the look of the contrast binding on this one.

I also (almost) finished the green gabardine pants, but they are still waiting for a hem. That fabric really frays terribly, so I wish I would have finished all of the raw edges better. I did serge the side seams and most of the pocket area, but I wish I would have done the under laps of the pockets before I sewed them. I think it will get pretty ravelly. I think I want to make Nancy Erkicson's pant's liner to wear under these. I've never made it before, but I did purchase some ambiance a while back to make it. I may have to pull that pattern out this week.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Too much stash?

And I thought I had a stash problem...

Timmel SWAP

for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to keep a separate blog for the Timmel SWAP. Well, it does keep everything together, but then, none of my regular readers go there because it's not part of my regular blog. Now that I'm doing PR wardrobe contest and the SWAP, I do have some overlapping pieces. I could have just used the same plan for both, but NO, I had to make them different. At least I do have 4 garments that will be the same for both. The black skirt, black pants, striped top, and white blouse will do double duty.

I finally found my missing shoe (in the box on the shelf where it belonged - no wonder I couldn't find it)but still need to hem those pants. I've been sick all week and just can't seem to get better. It would be nice, since I'm home, if I felt well enough to sew. Today I felt well enough to go to the store to buy juice. That wiped me out for the rest of the day and I stayed in bed until about an hour ago. Actually I am still in bed, but at least I am sitting up with my laptop.

Maybe tomorrow I'll be able to sneak over to the sewing machine for an hour or two.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

PR wardrobe contest and Indygo Junction Bag

Yes, I'm a glutton for punishment, so in addition to the Timmel Swap, I have entered the Pattern Review Wardrobe contest. The rules for this contest state that you must have 4 tops, 4 bottoms, either a jacket or a dress, and an accessory. I'm planning on using a few things from the Timmel SWAP on both (black skirt, pants, striped top and white blouse) but everything else will be different. Here is my storyboard

I've already made the skirt and pants, and today I made the handbag.

I was looking for something different to use as an accessory. Even though I have several different handbag patterns, I kind of wanted to do something like this. The pattern is simple, but it has NO POCKETS. What's up with that? Well, fortunately, I've made a few bags before, so I know how to add them. This is what I did

First, cut a rectangle 2-3" high and the length of your pocket. Draw a line down the middle the size of your zipper. Place the rectangle RST with the lining (or outside of bag, depending on where you want the pocket.) Stitch around this line to form a rectangle. Cut down the center of the rectangle and then into the corners so that you have a slit that looks like this >-------<. Now turn the facing you have just made to the inside so that it looks like this:

Now, just lay your zipper under the opening and stitch all the way around it with a zipper foot. I used steam a seam to hold my zipper in place instead of pins

Next, cut your pocket bag the width of the facing and as long as you need to go from the top of the facing, down to the bottom, and back up to the bottom of the facing. Sew the pocket bag to the top and bottom of the facing, RST

Now, lay the fabric flat, press, and stitch down the sides.(pull the main part of the bag out of the way.

That's pretty much it. I did one zippered opening in the bag itself and one in the lining. I also added open pockets insside and out. The pattern said to use muslin as an interfacing, but I thought the bag would be too floppy, so I used fusible fleece instead. I like the way it turned out.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Thank you

Thank you for everyone's kind words about our poor little Tobey. I do miss him dearly. We don't think he suffered and really don't know what happened. I noticed he was missing Saturday afternoon when he wasn't crawling all over my cutting table while I was working (he gave whole new definition to the term "pattern weights") We found him the next morning outside in the rain and he just looked like he was sleeping. Tobey was actually my daughter's kitty, so this has been really hard on her too.

Well, yesterday I sent home about 4-5 kids sick, and now I'm home sick - again. I think I'll go to the walk-in clinic and see if I can get some antibiotics. I did get some sewing done on Saturday and made a pair of pants. I haven't hemmed them yet because I can't find one of my shoes. How can one shoe be in the closet and not the other? I must find those shoes since they are my favorite mid-heel and they don't hurt my feet!

Sunday, February 03, 2008


Today I lost my good buddy Tobey. He was such a good little cat. He was always there to inspect every bit of my sewing (It's really hard to cut out around a swishing tail.) He was also very playful. He loved to play soccer with hair rubberbands, and his favorite game was "fetch". He'd bring a rubberband and throw it in my lap (Or most often, on my pillow at 2 a.m.) and want me to throw it for him. Thus the game would begin. Tobey used to like me to carry him wrapped around my neck, like a fur collar. I would say that he was my favorite fashion accessory. He was only 3 years old. I'm so sad.