Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Back to school mini wardrobe

OK, I've entered the mini wardrobe contest on PR. I am not going to stress over the dress, because I will still make it. I've decided to substitute a black wool gabardine skirt. Believe it or not, I do not have a black zip skirt and I need one! I already have the gab in my stash, and I'm sure I have something that will work for lining. Here is the storyboard.

It's just not going to work...

I would like to participate in the mini wardrobe contest at PR. This morning I decided to make my story board. THis took quite a while, especially since the pants and dress are from the July BWOF and now that the Aug issue is up, the line drawings for July are no longer up, nor are they in the archives yet. I took pictures from the magazine instead. Well, while I was doing this, I realized that my dress fabric is not going to work with my jacket. I'm so sad (boo-hoo)

I was so focused on getting a good fabric for my jacket and getting all the pieces to work together, that I totally forgot to compare the colors to my dress. From the little swatch I had, I thought the purple would work with the purple in the dress. But now that I hold the whole piece up to the dress fabric, I see that there is too much orange and that makes the purple look more violet than purple. I'm thinking it clashes with the dress fabric.

I really want to make this dress.
I really want to make this jacket. I have other fabric that I can use that will go with this dress fa bric, but not enough to make this pattern. I am committed to making this 1945 pattern since I've been avoiding it for so long. I don't know why Ive been avoiding it -- I know I will love it. I know once I make it, I will be making many more versions in different lengths, with different collars, different styling etc.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Do I have Poltergeist?

There is a lined jacket contest on PR and I have been asked to be the contest manager. I think it will be really fun. I also want to sew along with the group and have the perfect fabric in my stash. Well, I USED TO HAVE IT. I spent over 2 hours today looking for that fabric and can't find it anywhere. I had it at the beginning of summer and started to lay it out for the FSG 1945 pattern. I was short about 1/4 yard no matter how I tried to tweak it. I had ordered the fabric from Nancy Erickson and she was all out. Then, a few days later, she came across some and sold it to me. I have THAT piece, but can't find my original fabric anywhere. I opened every one of my stash boxes to see if it had been put away in the wrong box. No dice. I can't imagine what could have happened to it. It must be poltergeist. Because of course, I KNOW I last had this fabric in the dresser of my son's room. He doesn't live here any more, but sometimes comes home on weekends. I use that room to cut out fabric. I know it was there. In his dresser. In the drawer. He moved his dresser out last week. It was in a plastic bag with the pattern. I found the bag and pattern. No fabric. He never saw the fabric. Says he's never seen it in his life. They never do. Boys.
I have another fabric from Gorgeous Fabrics that I can use, but I don't have enough. Fortunately, she still has it on her website, so I'm going to order another yard tomorrow.

Monday, July 28, 2008


One of the places I like to shop is Ann Taylor Loft. It is interesting to me how they will use polyester lining in wool pants. I actually like poly lining in pants and skirts because it does not wrinkle and it is easy to take care of. You have to be sure to get "non cling" lining. I have lined a dress or two in poly, and don't find it to be as comfortable as a rayon or silk lining. I have some polyester knit dresses that I really like.

Here are a few of them.
The brown dress is made from a poly jersey from Sewing Studio. This is super comfortable and has almost a slinky feel to it.

The floral wrap dress is a Kwik Sew pattern and is made from a buttermilk fabric that I purchased from Emma One Sock. The poly in this dress makes it a little warm for summer. However, I made a tank top from the same fabric, and it is perfectly fine for summer. I think the fact that it has no sleeves makes a big difference.

This dress is the Madison Avenue Dress from Textile Studios. I also purchased the fabric from them as well. This was my first experience with working with polyester knits. This knit is not really a jersey and has very little stretch. It was still super slippery to work with, but a lot easier than jersey. I love this dress, and even though I did not match up the stripes very well on the front (well, I didn't match them at all. I didn't realize until after the dress was made that the dots were even in a striped pattern. Hey, I made this 2 years ago and I've learned a lot since then,) I still wear it a lot because it is comfortable and flattering (moreso than it looks in the picture)

I also have a number of tops that I've made from poly knits that are very comfortable.
On the other hand, I have a few things I've made from polyester that are not that comfortable. Either the fabric is not soft enough, or it doesn't breathe. I think they are making some great technological headway with synthetic fibers, but it is often hit or miss. Sometimes you don't really know how the fabric will behave until you are actually sewing or even wearing it. I have a number of gorgeous knits (yes, from Gorgeous Fabrics) that are waiting to be made into dresses. I try not to be a "fabric snob" - especially since synthetic fibers work well with my lifestyle. They are great for travel, easy to care for as a rule, and comfortable to wear - most of the time. Sometimes a polyester just does not breath and is very uncomfortable. So, I am usually hesitant to put a lot of work into something made from polyester, because if it is not comfortable, I won't wear it. And I don't want to put HOURS into something that I'm not going to wear.

Here is a great article called The Changing Face of Polyester

So, what are your feelings on polyester - terrific, or taboo? (you can use your own adjectives :-) )

I've Been Duped!

Still trying to figure out the Mystery Fabric, I decided to do a burn test. Now, I"ve never been any good at the burn test, but I figured, Why not give it a shot? I had my tweezers, fabric swatch and a match. You can see the result here.

My "high quality wool"(sales lady's words) appears to be 100% polyester!! First I looked in my More Fabric Savvy book by Sandra Betzina. It has burn test information, but a couple of the definitions were the same for different fabric types. Then I looked in Claire Shaeffer's Fabric Sewing Guide, and it has much more specific information. Here is the definition for wool: Burns slowly, self extinguishing. Smells like hair. Residue is a small, brittle black bead.

Hmmm, my fabric burned and pulled away from a big yellow flame, melted and glued itself to the paper towel underneath. Not wool.

Here is the definition for polyester: Shrinks from flame, melts and fuses, black smoke, self-extinguishing. Sweet smell. Hard black or brown bead.
Yep, it's polyester. I didn't smell anything (everyone in the valley has sinus problems) and the goey stuff turned to hard plastic when cool. Yes, I'd say we have polyester here.

I was of course, hoping for wool. Well, it feels like wool, drapes beautifully and has the added benefit of wash and dry. I'll have to make it into something and see how it wears. The only problem I have with polyester is that it makes me perspire more. It doesn't seem to bother me as much in pants or skirts, so I'll have to figure out what I'm going to do with this now.

My curiosity was up, so I tried a few other fabrics with known content to see how they responded. I also had another cut of "silky wool" which is what the blue fabric was supposed to be. This one had a different effect. It burned quickly, kind of sizzled and flickered in the flame, left a gray ash, did not burn itself out. The residue was a black bead, but it was crushable. I think this one is a blend. Maybe wool and silk or another synethetic fiber. It did not burn as quickly as the cotton sample I had. Blends are hard to tell. Here are some of the indicators

flame sputters - silk, acrylic
crushable black bead - silk
brittle black bead - wool,
hard, brittle charcoal - acetate
but, silk burns slowly and is self extinguishing. This did not fit those categories

not self extinguishing - acetate, triacetate, acrylic,

This may be a good part acrylic because here's the definition: burns rapidly, hot flame, sputters and smokes, not self-extinguishing. Smells like hot vinegar. Crisp, black mass. Some of the definitions are confusing to me. Like, what is the difference between brittle black bead, brittle charcoal, crushable black bead, and brittle black mass?

I think the trick to the burn test is doing a lot of practice pieces on fabrics that you are sure of the content. Also, maybe I should have used a bigger piece of fabric. Mine were a little under one square inch.

Friday, July 25, 2008

New Blouse- S2938

This is what I did this morning instead of going to the grocery store. The thing I love about princess style seaming is that it is so much easier to get a FBA than with darts! Well, at least I think so. I use a combination of methods so this is how I do it.

First of all, I usually start with a 10 because it fits my upper bust measurement and it's the right size for my shoulders. As we all know, mainstream patterns are cut for a B cup - I think I last saw that in highschool. No wonder it was so easy to sew then! Anyway, you need to adjust for width first. There are a couple of ways to do this, but I like to use pivot and slide. This works especially well if you have sleeves because you do not need to change the sleeve. I will show how to do that in another post, since I don't have pictures. You can also see this method in Nancy Zeiman's book Fitting Finesse. I do mine a little opposite since I put the tracing paper on top, rather than underneath. The easier, quicker way to do it, which works great if you don't have sleeves, is to just follow the armscye seam out farther to the size you need. That's what I should have done on this one, because I need the armhole a little deeper in the front. OK, width problem solved, step 2.

This is the easy part. Cut the side front pattern 1" below the armscye seam from the front seam to the side seam, but not through it. Then, spread the pattern 1/2" for each cup size above a B. Spread it at the seam line, not the cutting line. So, for a D, you would spread it 1". Draw on the new curve on the cutting line either freehand or using a curved ruler. Now, with the side of your tape measure, measure the length of the line you just drew. It will should be a little bit longer that the amount you spread it. Using this measurement, spread the center front pattern piece the same amount. Make sure you are spreading it at the same place as you spread the side, by lining up the neckline or arm seam, depending on which kind of princess seam you have.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mystery Fabric

As I look at the date of my last post, I can see that I have definitely been remiss about posting to my blog! Part of that is because I haven't been making anything new, but more about that in a bit.

Today I had to drive my son up to Fresno. Now it's about a 45 -60 minute drive, not to mention the price of gas. But, it is my son. And... there is a Hancock's in Fresno! I love Hancocks because it is the only fabric store in the area besides Jo Anns and quilt shops. I usually find a few things that I like at Hancocks, and today was no exception. Actually, I would have liked to have picked up a few more things, but I am really trying to pair down my stash, but it seems it keeps growing! Anyway, they had 3 big tables with everything 50% off. First, I found this poly/rayon blend linen-look. Hot Patterns is having their 3 for 2 sale this month and one of the patterns I bought is the Indespensible Dress. I think this fabric will work well, but they didn't have enough as the pattern called for. I think it will be fine because I am going to make it either sleeveless or with short sleeves. ( I also got the infamous Cosmopolitan Dress and the Riviera Pennant Blouse patterns.)

OK, here's the mystery:
I picked up this fabric and the bolt says 100% silky wool. The fabric has beautiful drape and is very soft. It feels like wool. But look at what is embroidered on the selvedge! "Donegal Linen Ireland" THis fabric does not feel like linen. I carried it around in the store and it was warm. It must be wool. Maybe its a "second" because they embroidered the wrong thing on the selvedge? Well, I don't know, but it was marked 5.95 a yard and I got it for 50% off of that! I bought all that was on the bolt, which was just under 3.5 yards. I should probably do a burn test, but I can never figure that thing out anyway. I 'll probably just cut a swatch and wash it and see what happens.

Another benefit of going to Fresno is Quilters Paradise. Actually, it's in Clovis, but, same thing. Even if you are not a quilter, they have a fabulous selection of wonderful cottons. Some of them have the silkiest hands. I love cotton clothing because it's so much cooler and comfortable to wear - plus easy to take care of. Although I love silk, it's just not all that practical for the classroom. I have to be able to throw most of my clothes into the wash, so cotton makes the grade for most of my warm-weather clothes.

Speaking of which, today I started making Simplicity 2938. I am making the blouse out of a cotton print I got when I was in Hawaii. This blouse is just the cutest simplest thing. I wanted to make a muslin, but was all out. I didn't have any "trash" fabric that I wanted to use. Then I remembered that I had some old sheets from my dad's house that I was going to give to my daughter. She never took them, so guess what?? That's right, I cut one of them up. I tell you what, though, sheets are not the best thing to do a muslin with. They are so tightly woven that it's hard to stick the pins in it! On the other hand, they don't ravel very much, so that's good. Well, I made the muslin for the top (ink marks on it, some seams sewn inside out) and it fits great. I've been wearing that dumb thing all evening! Anyway, my blouse should be finished tomorrow, so I'll be posting it then.

What I have been working on is finishing my quilt. I have all of the blocks sewn together and all I have left to do is the borders. I've changed my mind a couple of times on how I'm going to do them, so it's taking me a little longer than I wanted it to - but I think I'm really going to like how it will turn out.

As it turns out, I never used the pinwheel blocks in the quilt because I didn't like the background fabric. I'm sure they'll find their way into something else!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

BWOF dress finished

Yesterday my birthday did not start out the best, but ended on a good note. The day began with the dog throwing up at 4 am and me stepping in it. That kind of set the tone for the day! I had a migraine most of the day, so I did not finish my dress. I didn't even notice until this morning that I had sewn the two fronts and backs together at the shoulder seams instead of sewing the front TO the back. I even lined it that way!! I keep telling myself "never sew when you have a headache," but apparently, I don't listen to myself. Anyway, there were numerous things like that throughout the day, and I didn't even want to go out to dinner when it got to be that time, but I'm really glad I did because we had a good time. One of Andy's colleagues and her husband took care of Dobby when we were in Hawaii, so we offered to take them out to dinner as a thank you. As it turned out, the only night that seemed to work for all of us was last night. I'm glad it did, because I really had fun. We went to a local favorite called "Fugazzis". The have really great food and kind of an artsy atmosphere. The way the building is painted inside makes me think of Henri Matisse. I had seared ahi tuna, and Andy had the pecan crusted halibut. Both were really good. This was dessert:

It was really good, but very rich and sweet. All four of us split it, and we still didn't finish it!

This morning I got up and fixed the shoulder problem on my dress and finished it. I will wear it to church tomorrow. I am on one of the worship teams at our church, and it is our turn to sing tomorrow. I'm really liking this dress. I did put the zipper in the side. I don't really need it to get the dress on, but it sure makes taking it off a lot easier!

Thanks so much to all of you who sent me birthday greetings! When I was growing up, birthdays were always really special. We got to choose what we wanted for dinner (I always chose pizza, which we only had about one or two times a year in those days), what kind of cake we wanted, and there were always little things that made it special. When you become an adult, people don't always make such a fuss over your birthday. My brothers are great and always call me on my birthday and I did have a couple of dear friends call, and that made my day too.

Some of you found the most awesome cake pictures!!! I will have to download some of them and make an album just to share. But there were two sewing related cakes that I will post. The first one came from StacySews. This is from a website called The Pink Cake Box. If you have the time, go to their website and check out the many beautiful and unusual cakes. It amazes me what people can do with frosting!

This one was sent to me by Marilyn B. It is from a website called Collette's Cakes. She has some creative and funky cakes on her site... I also got pictures of many other cakes including a pinata cake and a toilet! I'm a sucker for fondant frosting cakes, but I've never actually had one. I do think they look amazing though!

Friday, July 11, 2008

It's Time for a New Dress!

I haven't made a dress in a long time, and I love a dress. So, it's time to make one. Also, today is my birthday, and I want to finish this dress to wear out to dinner tonight.

I'm making dress 118 from the June 08 BWOF. Their website has the July mag up, but June is not yet in the archives. I didn't think I would have a link for you, but then I remembered to check the German site, and here it is. The interesting thing about this dress is the waist treatment. The first thing you do is make two very long "buttonholes". THese are for the tie to go through. Then you gather the CF at the upper edge, and above and below the tie openings. Next, you make pleats at the neck and at the waist. These are stitched down. I'm really liking the way this looks, even though it is kind of hard to tell from the picture. The fabric is a cotton lawn that I got at Fabric Fabric at WCPR weekend. I love how soft it is, but when I washed it, it got really creased and wrinkled, although they ironed out pretty easily. Last year I made a shirt out of Japanese cotton lawn, and it is one of the best fabrics I've ever used. It is 100% cotton, but it never needs ironing and is always smooth. I wish all cotton would behave like that! Anyway, this dress looks like it will be pretty easy, and I think I've got the most time consuming part done. The dress calls for a side zipper, but I don't think I will need it. I will baste the side seam first and see if I can get it on without one first. I really don't like the feel of a side zipper in soft fabrics.

Oh, and yes, the pool is looking better now. It was 107 yesterday, and may be hotter today. I'll probably go take a dip as soon as I finish this post!

Birthday Challenge - since today is my birthday, I'm sending you a challenge. Find a picture of great looking birthday cake and send it to me at nwinning at gmail dot com. It can be pretty, funny, silly, whatever. I love to look at pictures of cakes so it will be fun to see what you come up with. In a few days, I'll post my favorites. Have a great day!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A Few More Blocks

So, nothing seems to be easy in life these days. I wonder if it really would be good to have someone else make all important decisions for you and just be able to go with whatever has been decided. But no, life does not work that way. Decisions must always be made. Tough decisions. Decisions that affect the lives of other people. As a parent and a daughter, I have come to be in charge of all of the decisions. Thankfully I have a husband and family who support my decisions. I just wish I knew what the right ones were. Life is never as easy as we think it should be.

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On a brighter note, I have squeezed in a little time for sewing. I will be 3 weeks behind in my quilting class - missing 3 out of 6 classes. Oh well, I've learned while I've been there, and am trying to figure out a lot on my own. this week I finished 2 more sets of 4 blocks. I have lots of mistakes in my blocks, but I still think they look pretty good for a beginner. I hope I actually finish this quilt.

I really want to get back to some garment sewing. I have a couple of dresses that I want to make, plus I'm supposed to be working on my coat for the "Great Coat Sew-Along" Hmph - it's kind of hard to think about making a coat when it's 105 degrees outside. That's right - it was 105 today and it's supposed to be hotter tomorrow.

Well, here's a little off-topic tidbit: we've been having an ongoing battle with our pool since before we even went to Hawaii.

We have been battling our pool for over a month now. Believe it or not, this sudsy swamp is what our pool has looked like for the last couple of weeks! Last year we switched to a non-chlorine water system and were really happy with it. This year we got a new pump and filter. For some reason our water got out of whack and we could not get it under control. Part of the problem was an overdose of sanitizer. Every time we'd turn on the filter, our pool would get covered with a white foam and it smelled. The water was green. After dumping over $300 in chemicals into it trying to get it back in shape, we finally decided to drain it.

Now it is back to clean and clear and I'm so thankful to be able to get in it. (I'll have to take a picture tomorrow - it's dark out right now.) The worse part of 105 days is the fact that it does not cool down much at night. When it is still 85-90 at midnight, it's really hard to sleep. I'm having enough hot flashes of my own without adding that to it!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

No more of this!

Well, I stepped on the scale this morning, and am glad to say I only gained 3 pounds while in Hawaii - which is less than usual. This, my friends, is Hula Pie (I didn't take this picture) Believe me, this pix doesn't even begin to show how BIG this piece of pie is, how good it is, or what a pig I made of myself eating it! Actually, I split it with Andy, but I ate more if it than he did. It was worth every bite!