Saturday, February 21, 2009

Houston, we have a problem.

In all my sewing days (all 300 or so of them), I've never had a pokey dart.

Until now.

I'm showing the rear dart, but all of them are poking at least slightly.

And the problem is that it's in suede.

and it's already been topstitched.

And frankly, I'm afraid to go in and start messing with it.

Everything seemed fine when it was flat, but as soon as I connected the seams (this skirt has one long horizontalish seam that spirals around) and pulled it on... well- let's just say I know my butt is in need of a few laps, but it's not got corners yet. And the muslin was soooooooo perfect.

So I'm stalled. I have a good idea of how to fix it, thanks to the PR boards again, but I'm not too eager. I have doubts as to my ability to pull this off :( And my machine is not happy. I tried to use the Trusty White from my mom to do the seams in the suede, but it didn't even break the surface. My Viking D1 is proving to be as tough as it is pretty, but as all tough girls know, the tough need a break.


In the eternal search for the AB bag fabric, I did come across some neat buttons that I would like to use for purse feet:

But no fabric yet. To be honest, I've read so much about the difficulties of the thick home dec fabric in the Weekender that I'm thinking I might just beef up some lightweight fabric with interfacing and go with it. I promised my machine a break after the leather, and I can't really find any home dec that I like. I'm thinking silk shantung. In chartreuse. With a baby blue liner.

or maybe I've just been looking at this dress (on PR) too long.


I'm thinking about stash organization. Have you seen this flickr site?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The best just got better!

sorry there's a big ol' packing sticker in the middle, but I often favor laziness efficiency and figured I didn't need to dig the box out and turn it.

I found this cover your ears, j bigayss box o' polyfill when I was cleaning out the sewing room today. Oh yes. I could lose a small moon/space station in that room amongst the clutter. I immediately thought of The Slapdash Sewist's recent post on dressforms. This fiberfill is what I used to fill both of my forms *you can check the forms out over there on the righthand column under Things I Do*.

I had a coupon for a bigbox craft store and was grasping at straws for what to fill my form with. I grabbed this box, figuring it was about twice as big as my torso, so I could afford to mess up. It ended up being really good stuff to use, very easy to fit into cracks and crevices. Funny thing about this fiberfill is that it expands. We're talking 3rd trimester expansion. Put it this way, after I filled the first dressform, there was so much polyfill oozing out that I couldn't close the box again! I filled 2 dressforms out of this box, and could easily do 5 more - which is absolutely not going to happen. I've got scars from the last one. I'm hanging up the duct tape and getting a professional form. someday. (all suggestions on that subject are welcome :).

So what's a girl to do with a here it is again bigayss box o' polyfill? Say it together, folks!

Give it away!

I'm figuring I can just package it up somehow and ship it out to whomever might be wanting some for the cost of shipping. It weighs almost nothing, so you do the math. Just drop me an email. I'm sure somebody out there is working on a neck donut right about now!

Here is the muslin for that Burda skirt. OMG I need to start running. I had to add an inch to my usual waistband length. Hurry up, warm weather!

I'm prepping the leather for tracing as soon as I can see my cutting table again. cleaning. right. that's what I was doing.

Check this out

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

I'm just not that into you

This McCall's 5657 started off so well.

I was pleased with the way the bodice was going in the intial rendering, and the fact that it came together rather quickly was a plus. After I attached the 5 (!) panels of ruffled skirt... well, it kind of lost me. Maybe it's because I know spring isn't right around the corner. Or maybe I know I need to get to the gym more before I'd ever even wear it in public. At any rate, I've cast off the strappy poppy dress and moved on to bigger and better things.

Leather :)

I have juuuuuust enough of this forest green suede for the BWOF 08-12-118 skirt.

The suede has a beautiful silky softness that makes you want to rub your cheek against it. The piece measures about 50" square, and I got it for only $25 during the Philly get together last November. It's so light and drapey, I love it. I'll need to find a funky contrasting remnant for the waistband, because I definitely don't have enough for that.

Still no AB bag fabric. I got all the interfacing at the BigBox sale this weekend, and I had two rolls of clearance home dec on the table to be cut... but I chickened out. I actually stopped her just as she opened the shears. I'm just not sure what I want the bags to look like. Do I want a funky print? Do I want sophisticated black? Do I want red? (don't I always?)

Speaking of red, Happy Love Day all ;)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Queen Mother - A sewing backstory

Sometimes, almost as striking as the woman herself, can be the way others are transformed in her presence. Can you feel the goose flesh tingling in the photographer? Clearly, he reveres this woman.

That's my grandmother, Pell. Pell. Isn't that the coolest nickname? It's a blend of hers and my grandfather's names, christened WAY before the Brangelinas and Bennifers of the world spawned. I always thought it sounded so avant garde, like Wallis Simpson.

And, yes, the photographer (my grandfather) reveres her. Everyone does. She just has that royal thing about her. Feminine, yet fierce. She does only what she wants to, and those around her are only too happy to help her reality along.

Remember when Rudy checked for scuffs on her shoes because Whitley raised an eyebrow at her foot tapping? "The true mark of a lady is a clean heel". That was me with my grandmother. I watched elbows, tilted my chin up, generally tried to emulate the grace I found oozing out of this woman. In the fourth grade, my grandmother gave me handwriting lessons, and I was geeked beyond happy. And yes, it's quite lovely to this day, thank you. She taught us how to greet dinner guests properly. She also taught us the importance of being free-spirited. Only last year she burned her leg on my dad's motorcycle when she jumped on it in her golf shorts and keds. Like I said... fierce.

And like all fierce women- she sews. I've only been witness to some of her later projects, but they are exquisite. I've only recently gotten up the courage to ask her if she'd pass along any sewing stuff she may have stashed. I always love reading about other blogger's history pieces, like Karen's deep stash fabric. My grandmother made this dress for my daughter, the collar is lace from her wedding veil.

Sewing was always a strange thing to me- aside from my dad's uniform patches, I didn't see a sewing machine around my house. And sadly, it never occurred to me that sewing could be learned. I figured it was like math, you either knew it or you didn't. I'd heard the legendary stories of my grandmother's sewing. During a vacation at their house when I was about 11, I asked my grandmother if she would make me a dress. She replied that we would make the dress. I knew better than to show any sign of disappointment, but I really doubted my ability to make this a real dress. I'd seen the machine in her sewing room as I lurked from the doorway- she'd never let me touch that thing.

I remember looking for a pattern. I was all about the fabric. I just wanted to pick the prettiest fabric, and I recall my grandmother guiding me toward a little rack. Now I realize she must have been steering me away from some silky prints or some difficult chiffon I would have naturally been drawn to. I picked a pink and purple teeny floral printed quilting cotton. The dress pattern had buttons all the way up the back, with a low scoop neck, full skirt, and cap sleeves. I wish I had pictures. I can see it so vividly. I also remember grandmother's expression at seeing all those buttons. Now I have a better idea on that, too.

And not only did she let me use the machine, I pretty much remember doing the whole dress by myself. I couldn't believe she was letting me use this stuff! The serrated tracing wheel (won't it cut through?) and the seam ripper amazed me. And the dress was actually nice. But when I got home from vacation, it was back to real life, and sewing was never a part of it.

This two week period was lost in the recesses of my mind, only slightly nagging me when I went shopping looking for the perfect *fill in the blank*, and came home disappointed, wishing that I could make my own. Finally, 20 years after the dress with the buttons down the back, I remembered that I could.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Something in my subconscious is trying to blend me in with my background.

I didn't find any home dec for the bags at Jomar, but since I'd already dished out bridge toll, I figured I'd grab a $1 remnant. In the sea of remnants, this 2 yds of knit hooked me.

I tried to coerce this floral satin into being a coordinating liner for my AB bags instead of something with a circle skirt.

The satin turned out to have a very nicely structured stretch. *sigh* The satin won. The AB fabric search continues, and the satin will become this image of girlishness:


which also happened to have caught the eye of a certain 11 year-old.

I do have 5 yards of the poppy print...


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Check this out

I had to do a "did I just read that right?" head shake.

So close, yet sew far away.

That's the view from where I spend most of my time. It calls to me. *sigh*

9 years ago, I'd glance wistfully over at my toddling daughter, and she'd look up from her little toys and wave. Today, the toddling son- well, let's just say as I type this he is straddling my lap, manipulating the skin around my cheeks with his fingers, and smashing Lucky Charms into the keyboard with his toes. Add in negative nap (that's something akin to negative ease, if you get me), and that means I cross the threshold into the sewing room rarely.

I do, however, get to spend a ton of time thinking about sewing and doing kidsafe activities. Enter the crayons.
I thought the idea for the personalized croquis in Sew Stylish spring 08 was brilliant. Unfortunately the picture I copied didn't have feet. Make sure you get the feet- the whole outline is essential in establishing nice garment proportions.

I'm going to play with this for a few days, but already I'm getting an idea that I should avoid certain lines. I also like the idea of using a pattern sketch to "try on" the dress before you commit.


I loaded up the kid with waffle fries and headed into JoAnn for some snooping in the home dec fabrics to use in the Amy Butler bags. I peruse them only slightly more frequently than the quilting cottons, which is next to never, so I was a bit lost at first. I did manage to find a couple of combinations that caught my eye, but I'm not in love yet.

Oooooo I can't wait to get started on them :)

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Sewing Gods work in mysterious ways.

A pipe broke in my basement last night. No water today.

No dishes.
No laundry.
No cleaning the bathroom.

:) oh yeah! Sew baby!

The willy nilly quilt blocking I started has evolved into an actual design.

In between dealing with the water thing ("Is it on yet?" "No!" "How about now?" "NO!" I swear I was ready to charge him a helper's fee) I got some more blocks stitched up. I don't really know how big it will end up because I've not considered the borders yet, but the block on the paper is 36" x 36" and I think I'll piece 4 of those together. Again, all suggestions welcomed. Maybe I'll do this for a Mother's Day present...

I'm beginning to see why people get into quilting. Put on an ipod and you can really zone just zipping out those 1/4" straight lines.


And Etta James is going to have to come and open up a can of whoop-ass on me, because I belted out At Last at the top of my lungs when the mailman came by today!!

If you and I have had a face-to-face conversation in the past year, then you know I've been in agony waiting to make a Betty Shopper. I searched high and low, but time after time, shop after shop- no Betty Shopper. Sure I could have just gone online, but I really dislike internet shopping unless I absolutely know I'm getting a kickin' deal. I waited for the stars to align, and Pattern Review came through once again! I didn't even read the whole email before I clicked over and snagged these three. I could really use the Weekender and a weekend babysitter and I just adore that Sophia! I might coordinate the three and feel all princessy :) Hurry up, President's Day Sales!!!
I'm borrowing my mom's takes-a-lickin'-keeps-on-tickin' White tomorrow. I love that thing. It rolled end-over-end down a rocky cliff and landed in a knee-deep mud puddle, cracked the case and all- still works fine. I don't think the needle has ever been changed. I'm going to use it for the Amy Butler bags and this leather skirt on my UFO list.

no lingerie.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Why men shouldn't design pattern instruction sheets

... so he can remember which one I am?

I was trying to get started on the camisole in this McCall's 5651, but I'm so darn distracted by Paris and Nicky smiling up at me every three steps that I need a breather.
I mean, really. Who at McCall's fell in love with these girls' faces, and why am I being subjected to their glazed adoration? That has testosterone written all over it.

By the book

Quote of the day:

"Oh, you've got to be kidding me. This is what you people do!!!!!! "

That was my initial reaction upon flipping through Singer's "The Complete Photo Guide to Sewing" which I never would have purchased if I realized 1/2 of it was taken up with home dec stuff. You see folks, I am a self taught sewist. After reading this book, I don't even think I could call myself "self taught". Because I never bothered to look up any proper methods. I've never even looked at a sewing reference book aside from some Threads magazines- and I always figured their complexly intricate methods were some kind of insider couture practice. It's a good thing the big 4 now assume we are all sew dumb, because I think the pattern instructions are where I've learned most of what I know - aside from bugging Karen.

According to this book, I've not even been pinning my fabric properly! It's a wonder anything I've made is wearable! At least now I know why I keep losing the buttons on my velour jacket :) So much to know, so little brain space left...


January Review (aka: the one dress I finished)

That's right folks- one. I don't count Boopina's because she did the bulk of it herself.

Simplicity 2724

I finally posted the review, and I keep thinking of little things that I should have mentioned. Like the ruffling on my dress doesn't look quite as ruffly as the pattern pic. That might be the fabric, though, because the muslin (left) was ok.

And I wasn't crazy about the zipper placement. Maybe it was just too long. I don't think it helped the bellishness of the skirt. Then again, after reading the Singer bible, it might have just been my technique ;)


It's February, and I still owe you a sewing backstory, a jacket with $8 buttons, and some accountability.

But I'm going to go sew lingerie now.
Spread the love :)