Thursday, April 30, 2009

What size buttons?

I didn't get to the machine tonight, but I did get to have coffee with a friend, go to acupuncture, and write a letter to the editor - so, even though there was no sewing, I did have a productive evening.  I did, however, do a little (and I mean little) sewing research.  One thing that BWOF never does is give you and indication of what size buttons to use.  "Well, use any size you want!" you might say.  But, there really is a "right" size to use.  I couldn't remember what the formula was, but I know that when the buttons are too big or small, or too far away or close to the edge of the garment, something doesn't look quite right.  

So, as I was "dining" on a chicken teriyaki bowl with a plastic fork (I hate plastic utensils, but don't seem to mind with a rice bowl for some weird reason), I decided to look it up in my Readers Digest Sewing book.  I have decided that I need to use my sewing books more, because when I was looking up the button information, I came across this cool zipper with trim idea.  I think it looks retro 60s and would be fun to put in the front of an A-line dress.  Anyway, every time I open up one of my sewing books, I always get inspiration and ideas.
So, back to the button information. 

 Readers Digest says, "The space between button position line and finished edge of garment must... always measure from three-quarters to the full diameter of the button."  So, working in reverse, I measured the distance between the CF line and the fold line of the facing.  This distance is 3/4".  That means that my button needs to be between 3/4" and 1"  If I want to use a smaller button, I really need to move the fold line closer to the CF.  If I want to use a bigger button, I would need to move it farther away.  This is good to know because when I make the same  blouse in the burnout cotton, I have some beautiful buttons that I want to use, but they are probably only 1/2" or maybe even smaller.  I will want to reduce the distance between CF and fold on the pattern piece before I cut.  Now, to find some buttons for THIS version...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Blouse progress

I had forgotten how much I love all the little details of BWOF.  This blouse is going together easily and I'm almost finished!  I basted in one sleeve, and now I realize that I will need to narrow the shoulders at least 1/2 inch.  As it is, I cut this blouse 2 sizes smaller in the shoulder than anywhere else.  I think everything else fits OK.  I'm done sewing for this evening, so I'll work on it tomorrow night hopefully.

And I'm really getting frustrated with Blogger.  For some reason, I can no longer control the size of images.  No matter what size I choose in the upload window, I still get extra large when bringing the picture in from Picassa.  If I bring it in from my computer, I can change the size, but then you can't click on it to make it larger.  ARghhhh!!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Up Next

Today after work I traced, altered and cut out a pattern for this BWOF blouse from June 2006.  I'm actually making a "trial run" out of a cotton calico.  Today it was supposed to be hot, but I was cold all day and just decided that I need more shirts with sleeves!  I'm making this in a beautiful white swiss cotton burnout for the summer mini wardrobe if this one turns out well.

I had to laugh when I read Carolyn's post about matching prints because the fabric I'm using, which I thought was a random calico, actually has a pattern to it that should be matched.  I was too lazy to cut out my pieces one at a time, so probably nothing will match on this one!  Also, with darts like the ones on the front of this and the curved seams, you can almost never get plaid-like designs to line up.  That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

Well, I heard on the news tonight that they have one positive case of swine flu in the city I live it.  This is (not) great news since being a teacher, I'm exposed to sick kids all the time.  In fact, I had 6 kids out yesterday!  3 of them came back today and told me they were sick.  I think I may have to stop hugging my kids each morning until after this epidemic subsides.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Aubergine blouse - finished!

Well, it's not as cute as I had hoped it would be, but it's OK. I think everything turned out well on it and the fit is fine except for the upper back. I already took the front and the back in at the neck edge, and shortened the elastic on the sleeves, but the sleeves still want to fall off my shoulders. I guess I will have to put in some kind of lingerie stays to keep my bra straps from showing, but I'm lazy about doing stuff like that.

Next up, I have a temporary plan for the spring and the mini wardrobe contest at Pattern Review. Birgitta helped me pick out some of these combinations when I was at her house a few months ago, so I'd really like to get started on this. I'm adding in a dress because this dress has been on my wish list for a couple of years now. I can wear the dress with either blouse over it to make it look like a skirt or the blouse to be more like a jacket. these are the kind of clothes I will need this spring and summer. I'm not sure yet on the pattern for the white blouse but this is what I've picked so far. The white fabric for the blouse is absolutely gorgeous swiss cotton that Birgitta and I got in LA. I've been looking for the perfect thing to make with it and this blouse/top may be it. It is a burnout cotton and the raised design is very intricate. The color looks off in the photo, but it is a nice soft white.YOu'll need to click on the picture to actually see it I think

And now for a blogger question.  why is it that usually in the "compose" mode I can grab the corner of a picture and change the size, yet sometimes (like on my last couple of posts) it does not work?? I don't think I'm doing anything different.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I haven't made sleeves like this before

From Summer 09
About a month ago a made a muslin for Simplicity 2697, but didn't get any farther with it.  I tried it on again this weekend and made a few more tweaks to it.  This blouse is put together differently than I would have thought, so in that respect, it is somewhat of a challenge.  I was really drawn to the full sleeves, so I am making the collared neckline with the full,   unbanded sleeves.

The pattern has a series of darts across the hemline and the directions have you cut triangles in the center of the darts. The fabric I'm using is a poly/silk blend and it really ravels (I don't know what's up with the ravelly fabric lately) Anyway, I am using french seams on the blouse and did not want to leave raw edges on the sleeves. I had read once about making darts like a french seam and actually tried it on a blouse once, although I don't remember which one. So, I decided to do the darts on this sleeve in the same way. It takes twice as long, since you sew each dart twice, but it gives a nice finish

The pattern has you sew the underarm seam and then sew on bias tape around the hem. It made a lot more sense to me to sew the bias tape on flat, then sew the underarm seam, turn up the bias tape and stitch it down

I think this will be a cute blouse when it is finished, but I think it will take me a couple of more days of sewing to finish it.

Now I just need a trip to Maui!

I finished the pants and I definitely have some pros and cons on these.  None of which have anything to do with the pattern!  First of all, this was terrible fabric.  I bought this fabric from FSG over a year ago (maybe 2) with high hopes.  It feels very nice, especially for a polyester fabric.  It has a loose weave, which I imagine will allow it to breathe better.  I did prewash the fabric, and it came out beautifully.  However, the problems started with the layout.  It was almost impossible to keep this fabric straight on grain, even though it has a very visible grainline and weave.  I think the loose weave just makes it very unstable.  The other problem was that it ravelled terribly, even from just moving the cut pieces to another table.  I had to serge all of the pieces' outside edges before I even began to sew anything.  I didn't do this to the pockets though and now wish I had.

I am going to make these again out of a different fabric and try to tweak the pattern a little more.  Add a tiny bit in the butt and more than a tiny bit to the front thigh.  The length that I added to raise the waist I ended up taking out again at the end, so the pattern stands pretty good as is for me.  still though, I really want to get a GOOD fit on these.  

I'm not so sure Im in love with the inseam pockets because they leave an outline on the front of the pants.  Next time I would use lining fabric for these.

This pattern has two darts in the front and I need to do something with them.  (easier to change darts than to get my stomach flatter!)  Anyway, There seems to be some pooching in the front, so I'm not sure if I need to eliminate one of the darts or make the darts longer.  I'm going to have to work on this a little bit.

Also, next time, I will make the legs wider.  These are OK, but I think I would like a wider leg more.  

Changes I made to the pattern:  I added 1.25 inches to the length and I have short legs!  Also, because I made the waist smaller, I had to change the waistband.  Then, with additional fitting, none of the lines on the waistband lined up with the pants.  That's OK because it is just a straight waistband.  However, I ended up with a little bit longer under tab, so I put a button and buttonhole there to hold it down.
Again, I hate this fabric and it shows every little lump and bump.  I probably should have underlined them.  In fact, this fabric is VERY much like the fabric I used for these yellow pants, which I only paid a couple dollars a yard for on the JoAnns clearance table.  The green fabric was 5 times more expensive!  It also snags easily.

Fortunately, I will always wear these pants with a blouse tucked out, so the baggy front won't show.  All in all, I like this pattern and it's worth making again.  The good thing for me is that I didn't have to adjust the crotch curve!  The fly zipper application was different than I've used before.  Next time I would probably use the method I usually use, which is the one in Sandra Betzina's Power Sewing.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wow - I'm surprised

One thing I know I need to do, but always balk at, is making a muslin. I just want to get right to it. But, with pants, they never seem to fit right, so a muslin is always in order. One of my goals this year is to find a great fitting pants pattern.

Around Christmas, I heard an interview with Connie Crawford on the Sew Forth Now podcast. For some reason that I don't remember now, it inspired me to buy this pattern. I have had it in my stash for quite some time. I kind of got disinterested in making them since most of Connies patterns are designed for plus and plus plus size women. I didn't want to have to mess around with the fit (like I ever have the opportunity to NOT mess around with fit on pants!) Anyway, I'd remembered that the instructions sounded simple and so did the fit advice. I made a muslin cutting straight from my hip size. I did taper in to my waist size at the waist, and added 1 inch to the top as the pattern suggested. I made up the muslin and couldn't believe it, they fit perfectly! Well, as perfectly as a muslin can. I marked my waist line on the muslin and then adjusted the pattern accordingly. I don't know why I always hate to make the muslin. It didn't take very long since I already had muslin on hand, marked with a marker directly on the fabric and cut with a rotary cutter. I need to get a better attitude about muslins!

Anyway, I'm very pleased with the fit and am going to cut out the pants tonight. I did try on the muslin again this afternoon just to be sure and am pretty happy with the fit. I'm surprised I did not have to make any adjustments to the crotch curve, inner thigh, or darts. I MAY let out the crotch curve just 1/4 inch at the butt because the muslin was a bit snug there. I've had some green "travel linen" from FSG in my stash that needs to be used, so they will be the first pair of pants from this pattern. They are the perfect compliment for the blouse I made last weekend.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Uganda Week 2

The second week in Uganda was spent mostly in Villages. We traveled through Jinja (more on that later) and then arrived in Kayunga. We stayed at a hotel in Kayunga and drove into smaller villages during the day. The first Village we went to was Busaana. I have seen this village name spelled several different ways on maps and signs, but this is the spelling that was used in the village itself. This little gir stole our hearts and was the first one to greet me in the village. She could not have been more than four or five at the most. She was a tiny little thing, and her job was to carry around this baby on her back. I think the baby weighed about as much as she did. Even with baby in tow, she knelt down on the ground and bowed down to greet us. This was probably the one thing that really surprised me. Later that week, several village women greeted us in the same fashion. (without the baby.) We went to Busaana several different times and I attended church there on that Sunday. Church is pretty much an all day event, but on this day, we took about 20 people down to the Nile in the afternoon for Baptism. Many people came and witnessed this baptism. In Busaana there is a small church and a school behind the church.

Many of the villages have the school and church connected. In Uganda, all school is paid by the parents. Even in the public schools, parents have to pay. This is the original school building. There are 3 rooms with dirt floors and benches. The walls are brick and are open below the ceiling.

This is the newer building at the school. There were 2 rooms with dirt floors. The wall only goes part way up inbetween the classrooms, so you hear everything going on in the other room. Again, I did not see any books in the schools. We saw lots of whole group response, and choral reading, but no discussions. Students have one break at lunch.

Originally, we were going to do more sewing in Busaana. for some reason, they changed the location to another village named Kasana. Unfortunately, there was no where to sew in the other village, no tables available, and a lack of women who would be able to follow the project from beginning to end. We had to make a decision about what to do at that point and decided to scrap the sewing project for week 2. I'm hoping to go back next year and work on some smaller projects such as skirts that can be completed in one session. I think this will be more appropriate and useful for the women of these communities. Also, I will hope to have treadle machines to use, since these are more readily available in Uganda and the availability of electricity is unpredictable. I have to say I was not really disappointed to scrap the sewing project at that point because I knew that making choir robes was too big of a project and would not be completed since we had only 3 days to be in Busaana and Kasana. This was actually a blessing for all of us, because it freed up some time for us so that on the last Thursday we could go on a safari - which I will write about in another post.
I absolutely loved going into the villages. After spending a week in the slums of Kampala, it was so nice to see beautiful scenery and clean air. Most of the people in the villages did not speak English, but we had translators most of the time. We had an opportunity to go into the village and talk to people in their homes and invite them to an event at the church. Many of the women we saw were outside preparing or cooking food in outdoor "kitchens"

We had a rainstorm come in, and it just burst open on us. One lady invited us into her home and we waited there until the storm passed. Her home was a small (probably 8 foot square) room with one bed and some wooden folding chairs.

Another woman we met was surrounded by many children. We found out that many of the adults in the village die of HIV or other illnesses, leaving children with no parents. Other adults in the village will feed these children, but no one can afford to clothe them, so often, these are the naked children that you see. Many of the children in the villages and slums of the city have worms and thier bellies stick out very far.
In a way, it was very difficult to go into the villages. It's like spitting into the ocean - the needs are so great and there is so little we can do. One woman asked me if we could take a couple of her children because she just did not have the means to take care of them. It was heartbreaking, and I would just love to take home a handful of children, but things just don't work that simply. there is such a great need for the many many orphahs, yet it is very difficult to adopt a child in Uganda.
Another problem they are having in Uganda is the presence of witchcraft. Although there are numerous Christian churches everywhere, people are going to church on Sunday and the witchdoctor on Monday. There were numerous articles in the papers while we were there about the problems they are having trying to control the incidences of human sacrifice. There is still a lot of work to be done there.
Even though it was discouraging at times to know how little we could do to help these people, it was very humbling to know how grateful they were just to have our presence there. Everyone thanked us profusely just for coming to visit their village, talk with them, and encourage them and their pastors. Most of the people we saw seemed happy most of the time, even though they have such desparate situations.

I loved going out to the villages and meeting the people. The women and children were all curious about us and very generous to share what little they had with us. And of course, everyone wanted to have their picture taken.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I'm Home!

A glimpse of Kampala:

Well, there's nothing I can say that can truly explain how my trip was to Africa. It was, at the least, amazing. The trip was basically divided into two weeks, so today I will tell you a little bit about week 1. (The picture above is in nacacero market, where we went to buy fabric)

After almost 30 hours of travel, we finally landed at Entebbee Airport near Kampala. We finally got to our "home" around midnight on Sunday. Kampala is a large city and we stayed right on the edge of the slums. I did not take any pictures in the slums themselves, because I felt like I would be invading their privacy. There were dirt alley and walkways that wove their way between row after row of small one room cement, brick, or wood buildings. Most only had a curtain and no door. I'm sure thier were no bathrooms in these rooms because the rooms themselves were nothing more than a six to eight foot square. Sometimes as many as 10 people would live in one of these little rooms. The ground was littered with trash, and after the rain, everything is a slippery mudslick. The homes there do not have running water, so everyone uses Gerry-cans to go to the pump or spigot to get water. In the slums there are people and goats everywhere - at all hours of the day or night. The home I stayed in was right on the edge of the slums, and we did having running water and an indoor toilet. There was no hot water heater though. We were living large compared to the other homes around. Just above the slums there were other homes similar to the one I stayed in.

There were lots of children everywhere, and they loved to have their picture taken. Everywhere we went, they would yell out "Mzungu! Mzungu!" which means "white person" Many of these children have never seen white people, so they stared at us wherever we went.

I did not take any pictures of the living quarters, but to give you an idea, here is the inside of one of the school rooms at a private school near where we stayed.

This is a picture of the path to the "hotel" where the rest of our team stayed. The hotel itself was fine, but the surroundings left a lot to be desired. It was good to stay here and see what it was really like. The missionary family that we stayed with has 3 kids and they do go to school there. The school they go to is larger than the one pictured above and a little nicer. However, in all the schools we visited, none of the schools had any books of any kind. Students have something like composition books, and the teacher writes the lessons on the board and the students copy everything down. School is from 7 am until 5pm. Children start school at age 3 and enter "baby class" After baby class they go to "top class". These two classes only go until noon - still, a 5 hour day with no recesses.

The first day there we got started on making robes right away. About 5 or 6 ladies showed up and we started cutting everything out. they all left at lunch time and I had no idea if they would come back or not. But sure enough, after lunch, they all returned ready to work. Each day was like this with seemingly a different group of women each day. There were a few that were consistent from beginning to end and it was great to get to know a little about them. A couple of the women taught me how to use the treadle machine. We had many machine problems and ended up buying another machine halfway through the week.
You can see a woman with a sewing machine in this picture. I believe this is the same woman that came over and helped us get the treadle to work in the first place.

By the end of the week, only one robe was finished, but many were almost finished and a few of the ladies will be coming back to the home to work on them in the weeks to come. Hopefully, Loring (the resident missionary) will also be able to start a womens bible study with these ladies. I am praying for this to happen.

Here is Precilla in her finished robe.