Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Accomplishments & 2011 Goals

As 2010 comes to a close, I thought it would be worthwhile for me to look back & see how much I've grown as a seamstress. Here are the projects I've completed.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Crepe Progress...

I got my fashion fabric cut out yesterday. It took me forever to iron the 10 yard of fabric (fashion & underlining) And have I mentioned how much I hate the cutting phase?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Style & This Stay at Home Mom

Being a stay at home mom entails many challenges. Quite possibly the least of which is what to wear. I find myself more & more confused as how to dress lately. I'm 24, but while most 24 year olds are just finishing college & partying, I'm a mother of two. The fact that the garments in the juniors department typically fit me better than those in the women's department only complicates matters.

After having kids, my day to day activities shifted from those requiring slacks & blouses to garments that are more suited for, well, getting stained by various fluids. Which is ok. I love what I'm dong now. But I find myself in a wardrobe rut.

I've never felt compelled to follow fashion trends. I've always been more of a jeans & t-shirt type of gal. I mean, sure, I like to look nice, but I've never put an abundance of thought (or money) into my wardrobe. I wouldn't be caught in my pajama pants in public (unless it is an absolute crisis) but I don't go all out on a day to day basis.

Sewing & fashion trends seem to go hand in hand & I must admit, I do find it interesting. I'd like to have a style. To branch out from jeans & a t-shirt to maybe trousers & a blouse. And then there is always accessories. I appreciate a well accessorized outfit...I just don't know where to start.

So, I snatched up this book for $7 on From the preview on Amazon, it seems that the author points you to your own inspiration & what you are drawn to rather than touting his designs or what the current trends dictate. Should make for interesting reading at the very least.

How about you? Is fashion something you struggle with? Care about? Do you feel like you have your own style?

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Newest Addition to my Sewing Nook

It all started with a Craigslist ad. (Doesn't it always??) I don't know why, but last week I caught my husband perusing the sewing machine ads. Now, I don't need a new sewing machine. The one I "have" is actually my mom's that she's letting me borrow. She's had for 20 years or so (too old to be new, too new to be vintage) & uses is mostly for mending. Now aside from producing the most inconsistent buttonholes imaginable, the ol' Singer 3214 does alright. I've learned her quirks & together we've created some pretty cool stuff.

Anyway, Austin found this ad for a used Brother for $150. It was right in my price range & seemed to have all the functions I wanted. I did a little research, though & found that they sold for about $10 more brand new. I had just figured that the kind of machine I wanted would cost triple that. So I did some more research. Turns out that Brother I had been looking at was made with plastic innards. And the reviews were very hit or miss. So, my search continued.

I ended up stumbling across the Kenmore 19110. It was computerized (which I wasn't sure I wanted), had all the functions I was looking for (and then some) and the price was about right. I did more research & found that it had good reviews. It is also actually made by Janome. After hemming & hawing, I finally ordered it one Wednesday. I never got an order confirmation, so I wasn't sure if it had went through or not, but during the process the delivery date was between 12/29 & 1/5.

Imagine my shock & surprise on Thursday when I looked out the window & saw the UPS lady carrying this:

I haven't got to do a lot with her, just a few test seams (still not at the actual sewing part of the Crepe) but I really like it. I'll write up a more thorough review after I've actually put her to the test. :)

What kind of machine do you have? Are you happy with it?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Crepe Muslin #4

Ah. Crepe muslin numero cuatro. Also to be known henceforth as my limit. I'm calling it. Final Answer. Leaving well enough alone, as they say. I'm very sick of darts. :)

A few days ago I got a really insightful comment. It had some how got filtered into my junk mail folder, but I caught it. I'm going to go ahead & just copy it here.

Jenna, I've just read about your muslins backwards and I hope you don't mind me saying but your first muslin of the front looks the best. This design with the cut-on sleeves is tricky and not really meant to be so form fitting.... If you notice in this muslin you have no shoulder wrinkles/creases as you do in the later ones. In fact the sleeves look perfect in muslin one. Beware over-fitting. If I were you, I would go back to the original muslin and just make a few changes to the back to eliminate some width and length as Vanessa above said. Good luck!

At first I thought it was crazy. No way was I going backwards. But once I looked at the pictures, I saw she was right. My first muslin was the best (as for the front, anyway.) Possibly even better than muslin #4. I'm going to be tweaking muslin #4 before I cut out my fashion fabric, but I won't be doing a whole separate muslin.

Muslin #4

Muslin #1

I went back to my first muslin & took in 1/4" from the side seams. I shortened & curved the waist darts. I also took an inch from the shoulders (which was way too much, I can barely get my arm through. LOL).

As for the back, I simply lengthened the darts by 1.5 inches. One of the gals from the flikr group said it worked well for her so I figured I' d try it.

After writing this post & agonizing over the pictures, I've made up my mind. :) Here are the alterations I will be making form the original pattern:
  • Take side seams in 1/4 inch
  • Take shoulders up 1/2 inch
  • Shorten waist darts by 1 1/2 inches
  • Curve waist darts
In all honesty, I think the fit (silhouette) is better when the waist darts go right up to my apex, but, I think it draws attention to, well, my apex. And I'd just rather not go there.

Now to get myself geared up to hand baste the underlining to the fashion fabric. Sigh.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Muslin 3: Upclose & Personal

The first time I put on my 3rd muslin I was incredibly irritated. For some reason, I expected it to be just right. Which makes no sense because I didn't do some alterations that I knew I should have. But I wanted to nail down the darts first. Which I did. Sort of.

Like I mentioned before, there is a wrinkle above my waist darts, right at my apex. Not good. Also, I am blown away by the amount of wrinkles at the shoulders. That being said, though:
Look familiar?? Yep. These diagrams are from Fit For Real People & they depict what sloping & broad shoulders would look like. I know from my body graph that I have both. Hence the wrinkles. Right? Gosh. I sure hope so. Because I think I'm going to have to fix that next. Which makes me nervous because, since these are cut on sleeves, the sloping alteration requires that the sleeves be cut off. *Shudder*

Onto the back. Mmm. Shoulder wrinkles present & accounted for. In this picture I had my husband do some tucking, but I think I'll ignore that until I get the shoulder issues fixed. So, all in all...3 muslins down. Minimum of 1 more to go. Sigh. At least I'll be able to give the darts another go & decide definitively if the wrinkles are there to stay & what needs to be done to evict them.

Muslin Update

Muslin 2 was a complete & utter disaster; much worse than muslin 1. However, I whipped up Musilin 3 last night & it shows promise.

Muslin #2: AKA: The Hot Mess

I had botched the waist & bust darts on muslin 2. I chose to completely cut out the bust dart & move it down, thinking (incorrectly) that using that method would be more accurate. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. On muslin 3 I simply redrew the point & kept the dart legs & it turned out much better.

I also chose to curve the waist darts on muslin 3 & had much better results. I do have an odd wrinkle right above my left waist dart. I'm not really sure if that's just me being bad at darts or if it is a fitting issue. I did not have that problem in the 1st muslin, so could it be that the wrinkle was caused by shortening the darts? I just don't know.

I now realize that I may have made a major mistake in altering the front before the back. Nothing to be done about it now. :) As for the back, it's quite baggy. I am hoping that simply tucking will be the solution. We shall see. Muslin 3 pictures to come.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Muslin #2 Plan of Attack

When we went to visit my in laws the other day, I took my muslin along to get some insight from my mother in law on the fit. I was mostly concerned about the shoulders & the disastrous back.

She thought that everything would kind of solve itself once the skirt was attached to the bodice, weighing it down. Now, I know I don't know much, but I wasn't sold. The other thing she mentioned was that the shoulders were sitting funny because the 'seam allowance' was sitting funny. Once you clip it, you should get a different hang. That did make sense.

So last night I clipped & ironed the seam allowances back & got a completely different result. It did not, however, 'fix' any issues. :) The sleeves now fall off my shoulders & (of course) the bodice is shorter-but I think it still fits into the ok range. I may change my mind, & add some length though.

Then I set about tucking & found that I was only grabbing fabric vertically. Can you tuck vertically? I wondered. It took me a few minutes to realize that I could just take in the side seams. So that's what I did. First I took in a half inch from each side & the front fit significantly better. But the back did wrap far enough (I had my husband secure the back, and when I asked him if it went past the dart, he confirmed that it did. Not really sure what happened there, but it certainly did not.) So I changed it to 1/4" & had the same results. Better front, worse back. Which is weird to me, because in my original pictures, it looks like the back is too big.

Since it was late-ish last night when I did all this, I wrote down my "findings" in case I forgot. So, this is my plan. For today. Hopefully the kiddos nap.

You can click to make it bigger, but here's what it says (numbers in parenthesis refer to page number in FFRP):
  • Taking side seams in 1/4" on each side resulted in a much better front fit but made back too small.
  • What if I took width from the front but not back? Start @ 1/4"
Plan of Attack Muslin #2
  • Move bust darts (134)
  • Shorten waist darts (134)
  • Take in front side seams
  • Sloping Alteration
  • Take in additional ?

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Very Own Body Graph

Up until fitting my Crepe, I found the idea of a body graph (recommended by the book Fit for Real People) to be overkill. First off, the need for butcher paper put me off (of course, I've since thought of a ton of things you can use instead: Swedish Tracing paper, wax paper, freezer paper, the reverse side of wrapping paper...the list goes on & on).

When I fitted my muslin, I was sure that there is something up with my shoulders. But I wasn't sure what (other than they were uneven, but that isn't too big of a deal according to FFRP). Which lead me to doing my own body graph. I recruited DH to do the majority of the work ;) it turned out pretty well. And it was quite easy considering the insight that it gave.

It took me quite a bit of digging through FFRP (comparing my proportions to the "ideal" proportions) to get it all figured out, but now that it's done, I think I've got it down.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Crepe Fabric & 1st Muslin

My fabric arrived today & for better or worse, it is exactly what I expected.

I finished my muslin for the Crepe & already I can say that I am very happy about my decision to sew along. This is already turning out to be a great learning experience.

I'm pretty excited about the way it fits. I'd say that aside from the waist darts it's pretty wearable.

Amy mentioned that her bust darts are too high, & mine are too (according to FFRP they should point to the apex), but Patty's darts look to be a little high, too. Maybe that's how this design is intended.

Also, the waist darts are waaay too high. They go all the way to my apex, so I'll be shortening those, probably by an inch or so & that should be an easy fix.

There are wrinkles in the shoulder area, partially from uneven shoulders, I'd say. My right shoulder is visibly lower than my left (funny, never noticed it before) and also, it looks like my left hip is lower (gee, it's almost as if I've been carrying a baby on my hip for the last 2 years)

Back to my shoulders, though. The vertical wrinkles may indicate that my shoulders are narrow? Or could it be drag lines from sloping shoulders?

The back looks a little...disastrous. I'm going to have to look into that more. I may also try it on again & see if maybe the fabric was pinned wrong. As far as the wrinkles go, perhaps it is due to a broad back? (Is it possible to have narrow shoulders & a broad back??)

So, there it is. Being the "in training" seamstress that I am; any and all advice, suggestions, thoughts & comments are warmly welcomed.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Fabric Envy

My fabric isn't even here yet & I'm beginning to doubt my choice for the Crepe Sew Along. How's that for indecisive?

I mean, it's fine. It'll get the job done. I do like the color. But, the girls on the Flikr group have picked some gorgeous fabrics. Mine is pretty plain. Granted, yard for yard they cost about twice as much as the fabric I picked out (you get what you pay for??). Speaking of which. The fabric I ordered is now on sale. For $2.99 a yard. Now I find that just plum irritating.

Alas, I'll be sticking with the turquoise, and if I end up absolutely falling in love with this dress, well, I'll just whip one up in a more expensive fabric ;) And, come to think of it, this color would look beautiful on my red-headed sister. :) And she's about my size.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Crepe Pattern

The Crepe pattern was waiting for me at the post office yesterday. They shipped it on Thursday, and since they're are only one state away, I have a sneaky suspicion that it arrived on Saturday. No matter.

The packaging itself is just sweet. As I have heard, the instructions are a little booklet, with a vintage feel. I'd like to share what the 'Getting Started' page says:

The best advice for sewing is to relax, take your time, and enjoy the process of creating something just for you. Remember the old sewing adage: Measure twice, cut once.

At first glance, the cutting layouts intimidate me a bit. For one, I've never used so much fabric in one project, also, it seems that there are a lot of pieces. If I had to guess, I'd say the most pattern pieces I've ever used on one thing is 5. Maybe 6.

Aside from that, the construction appears very straight forward. I'm looking forward to diving in.

My fabric is scheduled to arrive on Friday & though I did order some muslin, I had planned on using an old sheet for this project muslin. I got the pattern traced, and the muslin cut out & thread traced yesterday. And, if anybody is curious I cut out a size 0 (according to my upper bust measurement). Which was just bizarre for me. I've just gotten used to being a 10 in pattern sizes :)

I was really curious about the darts. I've never used them in a project & I don't think any of my current RTW wardrobe consists of them either. I mean, I understand them in theory, but just hadn't seen them put into practice. So, I went ahead & pinned the darts in my front bodice & what do you know, my fabric grew boobs. It became three dimensional. Just like that.

Other than that, I'm hoping that I have thread to match my fabric, but if not, I'll just pay my mother in law a visit & raid her stash. :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Training Another Seamstress

It seems that I'm inspiring others to sew. Which, I must say, is pretty darn cool. A friend of mine has mentioned sewing her own skirt. I, being the sewing addict that I am, encouraged her to do so. I also encouraged (ok, begged) her to call me if she needed any help. I'm no expert, but I've come leaps & bounds in my sewing.

I got the call Friday night. She was hoping I could come over. Her exact words were "I'm trying to read the pattern, and it's like it is in a foreign language." Boy have I been there. So I fed the baby, put her to bed, kissed my husband goodbye & off I went.

It was too cute. She had her pattern laid out (not cut or anything), but was stuck on which diagram she needed. Fortunately, I had anticipated this would be the case, so I had packed up my book Sew Everything Workshop & my 1995 edition of the Reader's Digest Guide to Sewing (I also happen to have the 70's edition). We talked about pre-washing her fabric, grading her pattern up, RTW sizes vs. pattern sizes, selvages, stay-stitching, lions & tigers & bears, oh my!

The whole scene was so familiar. I remember being shocked at how little time I spent actually sewing versus cutting, pressing & pinning. She also mentioned that she'd hoped to have the skirt done by Monday. I couldn't help it. I laughed. It was so me a few months ago. When I set out to start sewing, I was so naive that I didn't know how naive I was. :)

Anyway, I left her with the assignment of pre-washing her fabric & reading Sew Everything Workshop, starting with Chapter 4: Layout & Cutting. I also encouraged her to read through the pattern & look up the words she didn't know in the books I left her with.

She knows the basics of her machine, & has been mending & altering RTW for a few years now, but starting a project from scratch is...well, you know. I made sure to mention that I didn't even know how to thread my machine when I started. And then it was her turn to laugh at me. :) I think that gave her a confidence boost.

I'm very excited at the prospect helping someone else find a love for sewing.

Beautiful Blogger Award

I am so excited & honored to have been nominated by Heather over at Sewing on Pins. I love reading the Beautiful Blogger Award posts & I'm excited to share my own. The rules are simple: List 10 things about yourself (harder than it sounds!) and pass the award on (which is kinda tough, since a good many of the blogs I read have already been awarded). Here goes. I warn you now, this will probably contain a lot of motherhood related things. :)

1. Prior to becoming a Stay at Home Mom, I worked for 3 years as a loan officer & loved it. I never intended to go into the financial field, but started out as a teller & within 6 months my supervisors were 'grooming' me for the banker position. I loved it. And maybe someday I'll go back. Maybe.

2. I love books. When I wanted to start sewing, that's the first thing I did. Bought books. When I was single & thought I needed a puppy-I bought a book. And promptly decided that a puppy was SO out of my league. Unfortunately, my town's library is really, really lame but I do use Paperback Swap occasionally. I rarely re-read my fiction books, but I have been known to read The Outsiders & The Prince of Tides numerous times.

3. I don't celebrate Christmas, birthdays, Easter, Halloween...anything, really. As a Christian I find the pagan roots to these holidays inappropriate & have chosen not to participate in them :). I do observe the Memorial of Christ's death, as Jesus commanded at Luke 22:19

Shawn & I moments after his birth

4. I gave birth to both my babies naturally. I was terrified of going through a C section & research indicates that many forms of pain relief increase the risk of one, so I hoped to do without it, and it's a good thing because I was already dilated to a 9 by the time I got to the hospital with my son. There wasn't time for any meds by then. And, yes. I do think I deserve a medal. I think they should be standard protocol for all women who just gave birth--no matter the form.

5. I've lived in the same town my whole life. It's a teeny, tiny town. Population 1730 as of 2000. It's the kind of place where people still smile & say hello when you pass them on the street. As a teenager, I swore I would leave & never come back. But now, it really is a good place to raise my children.

6. When I was 17 I spent 3 weeks traveling Europe as a Student Ambassador for People to People. I saw the Eiffel Tower, Michelangelo's David, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Sistine Chapel, the Roman Colosseum, the Louvre (including Mona Lisa), and some really, really hot Sicilian guys. Mmmmm.

7. My babies are 19 months apart in age. My son Shawn was born in November of 2008 & Laila arrived in June 2010. I was still breastfeeding Shawn (not exclusively, though, he was definitely eating solids regularly by then) when I got pregnant with Laila. I love having them so close in age; already they are inseparable. But, wow. My body needs a break from cooking & sustaining little lives. :)

8. I also enjoy digital scrap booking. I've been doing that for about a year, after giving up on paper scrapping. Doing a layout on paper took me forever & I hated pasting things down out of fear that I'd want to change it. Digi scrapping is much less pressure. :)
I (shamefully) have done very few pages since I started sewing, but I really enjoy it. (You can click on my layouts to take you to my gallery, where you can read the journaling)

9. Ooh. Here's a good one. (This '10 things' is tough!) My best friend (since the 6th grade!) & I married brothers. Yes. We are now sisters-in-law. She lives 15 minutes away & her youngest boy & my oldest boy are only 7 weeks apart in age! That's them up above--back when they were little & oh so sweet & cuddly. Sigh. Now they are simultaneously entering the "terrible twos"

10. I am a multi-tasker and a planner to a fault. It seems like I am never focused on one single thing. When I'm working on one project--I'm planning the next 3 (at least). It gets completely overwhelming & is not conducive to enjoying the moment. It is something I'm working on. :)

And now, for nominations. This was hard because (as I said) so many have already been awarded. But, here are my 2 nominations!!

Sewing By the Book has proved to be an excellent resource!! Amy reviews books, talks colorways, shares projects, her sewing space, how to make your very own, custom dress form...well, check it out for yourself! Amy, I can't wait to get to know you better!!

And also, Mikhaela at Polka Dot Overload. She's been blogging for awhile, but I just discovered her recently. She's another talented seamstress who even sewed herself some maternity clothes (and she knits!! Amazing!) Oh, and our baby girls were born within days of each other. How cool is that?!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Complete x2: Kwik Sew 3693

I actually finished sewing View B of Kwik Sew 3693 quite awhile ago. And yet, it never really got finished. Allow me to explain.

I was so, so proud of myself for getting it put together with minimal issues. So, naturally, I tried it on after I finished the hem. Therein lies the problem. See, I never really took it back off to add the pockets. And since it wasn't officially finished, I put off posting/reviewing it. But, since the fleece I used is super cheap, it has started pilling, and I've nixed the idea of adding the pockets (though they would come in handy, I'm sure).

Here's View A. I'm even more proud of this one. And it is completely done. I made this with the intent to wear it over my warmer weather dresses (having been pregnant or just given birth the last 2 winters, I'm short on non-maternity winter wear).

And though this pattern recommends using firm knits, I think it turned out great with my slinky knit. I sewed a size S and I like the fit. It is very comfortable. I think I could have done ok with an extra small, with the amount of stretch this particular fabric offers. The Hatchi Stretch Rayon Blend Jersey Knit Ivory (what a mouthful!) is pretty fragile & loosely woven, so I was a little concerned that I was going to snag it with my fingernail or something during production. But it survived intact. It also survived it's first two washings.

For the hem I used a twin needle (for the first time!! Woot!) And had no issues whatsoever with it. I didn't have to adjust the tension or anything. I did use what looks like serger thread in my bobbin. I had more issues getting the tension right with my serger, though. For some reason (if anyone has serger insight, feel free to clue me in) when I was overcasting the edges, the fabric tended to gather. After some fiddling, it got better. But for the life of me I'm not really sure what fixed it, as I tried so many things. :)

This pattern--both views--comes together incredibly fast & I highly, highly recommend it. For me, it was perfect for my first knit projects. I do wish that View B had a closure, but one reviewer on PR added a zipper, & I had originally intended to do the same, but, like I said, it never really got finished. :)

Yesterday I bit the bullet and ordered fabric for the Crepe Sew Along. After analyzing my (admittedly small) shoe stash, I decided to go with the turquoise Voile, since I already have brown boots & heels that will go with it. That, and the cardigan I just made will look really great as a topper. :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Gertie's Crepe Sew Along

As disappointed as I am to have dropped out of the Endless Combos contest, doing so has opened up the opportunity to Sew Along with Gertie as she tackles the Colette Crepe dress pattern. I haven't fully decided to participate, but geeze, it seems like a great opportunity to learn some new techniques while getting my hand held along the way. Gertie has scheduled the Sew Along to start on the 6th, which gives me about a week to get my pattern & fabric. It probably won't matter to much if I start out a day or two behind (surely I'll fall behind at some point).

There are downsides. The primary one being cost. The pattern is $19.40 including shipping & minus 20% off with Gertie's coupon code. Now maybe I'm cheap, but I've never spent more than $1.99 on a commercial pattern. However, Colette patterns are well known for their in depth instructions.

Also, being a wrap dress, it requires a lot of fabric. Over four yards. For each the shell & the underlining. But, I love me some fabric. So I've done some shopping. Here are my options.

First up is a really pretty Red Swiss Dot from It occurs to me that I don't have a red dress. And I got to thinking that maybe every girl should have one. Now, doesn't have red batiste, but does, so I could order the underlining from there. Of course, that means paying separate shipping. does have ivory underlining, but since the Swiss dot is semi sheer, I don't really want to 'tone down' the red. I figure if I'm gonna go for it, then it's gotta be red all the way. :)

Next up are a couple voiles. The first one is pink with white dots. Pretty cute, but the description says that the dots are painted on. For some reason I envision them flaking off with time. Would that be accurate or am I just imagining things?

And lastly, a turquoise voile. I really like this color. I'd get ivory or white underlining for this one & the pink. Also, I'm going to do the tie in the same fabric, so I don't have to worry about choosing a contrasting fabric.

So, what do you think? Red, pink with white dots or turquoise?? I find myself leaning toward the red, but I don't know. The other two seem to be more versatile.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Muslin Epiphany

Almost 2 weeks into the Endless Combinations contest & I don't have a wearable garment. Sure, my straight skirt is salvageable, but right now I just don't have the motivation to 'fix' it. And my cardigan is nearly done. I just might be able to whip out 4 garments before the deadline. But, without doing musins of the patterns, it is quite a gamble.

In fact, I've had an epiphany. Sewing garments sans muslins is like buying RTW without trying on (which I've done plenty of--and regretted it). Sure, you might get lucky & have a well fitting, nice looking top, or you may have the RTW equivalent of a wadder. Now, if you've purchased that particular brand & style of garment, then, well, you're probably ok foregoing the fitting rooms. But if not, well, be sure to hold on to your receipt.

And yet that is exactly what I was planning on doing. I've never even sewn myself a (fitted) top before & I was just gonna jump in & do it. Sure, the key to sewing (like everything else) is balance. You won't conquer new techniques unless you try them. At the same time, though, why set myself up for disappointment by skipping such a simple step? Needless to say, I've decided that muslins are the way to go. At least for now. Until I get some direction in fitting & such.

Do you regularly sew muslins? Did you when you were first starting out?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Valuable Lessons Learned....

Well, I finished my straight skirt. Sort of. It still needs hemmed. But the zipper went in beautifully, if I do say so myself. Not perfect. But darn good. However. When I put the skirt on after I attached the facing, the fabric at my hips bubbles out. It didn't before adding the facing. Although, admittedly, I could have been focusing on the zipper so much as to neglect the side seams.

I took them in a bit, along the whole side seams & they still bubble. More so at my right hip than my left. I think it is salvageable, but I've put it aside for the time begin & started with my cardigan.

Whether or not this skirt turns out "wearable" I have learned some valuable lessons:
  • How to do a vented skirt
  • How to attach a centered zipper (I've done one before, but in all honesty, I literally just threw the zipper in. I didn't' even baste it--the horror)
  • How to add a facing
  • The importance of a muslin
I'd like to expound up on the last one. Muslins. I've never done one before because I've only ever done baby/kid clothes. And everyone says you should do one (whether everyone actually does them is a whole 'nother thing).

Something I realized is that muslins do more than just help you figure out fitting. You get to practice the techniques that your garment will require. You get to see if the garment is going to flatter. I can't look at muslins as a waste of time, but rather an investment. I am probably going to aim for 'wearable' muslins, though. Using clearance fabrics. Of course, I didn't muslin any of the patterns for the Endless Combinations patterns so now I have to decide whether to forge a head, results be darned or...drop out. :( I'd hate to give up, but the whole goal of entering this contest was to make wearable clothing. Decisions, decisions.

I've started on my cardigan & since I've already made this pattern, I figure it will come together quite quickly. I'm planning on using a twin needle on my sewing machine for the hems & I think that will slow me up some since I've never done it before & this fabric is much slinkier than the fleece I used before. But that's ok. I'm forging ahead. How else am I going to learn if I stay only within my comfort zone?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Completed Project: Toddler Dress Coat

**Caution: Super Long Post Ahead**

I am so excited to finally show this to you guys. I finished it about a week ago, but was holding out to get pictures of Shawn in it. Well, Shawn is being less than cooperative. So, here it is, sans adorable model. I worked on it for about 3 weeks (not daily) & I cannot even begin to tell you how proud of myself I am.

When I started this project, I knew it was going to be worn often. I knew it needed to be hardy. I also needed it to look nice. It is, after all, a dress coat. Before I began it, I promised myself that I was going to take my time with it. If there was a seam I could do better, I would rip it out & do it over (and over & over, if necessary). I wouldn't take shortcuts. If I felt myself rushing, I would take a break. I would iron each seam. Before I took any major steps I would sleep on it & come back to it. And I did. I stuck to all those things. Which is part of the reason it took so long to complete. But it was worth it.

I got the pattern from an Etsy shop called DMK Easy Wear. I was surprised when I received it. The instructions & diagrams were computer drafted. This was the first pattern I had bought from Etsy that didn't have actual photos. And you know what? I like it. Very professional. Very easy to decipher. The actual construction of this coat was beautifully easy. Everything made sense & no steps were left out.

This pattern also left a lot of room to make 'personal preference' changes. After putting the lining on my little guy, I decided I wanted a straighter silhouette, so I took in the side seams, tapering out just a bit at the bottom. I also chose to hem it about an inch. Now, on the lining I made these adjustments after cutting out & sewing the pieces. So, before making the outer coat, I decided I would adjust the pattern pieces before cutting my fabric. After all was said & done, the outer coat was a little bigger in the back pieces. And I even figured out why. :) See, when I took in the side seams on the lining, I was taking fabric from both the back & the side piece. When I altered the pattern only, I took in only from just the back piece. It was an easy fix, but I took my sweet time fixing it.

Having never done it before, I did get confused when it came to attaching the lining to the coat at the sleeve ends. I convo'd Karen (the pattern maker) & she directed me to this tutorial. It was very helpful, and I have a feeling that I'll be using it often. So, I got the lining attached & went to turn the coat right side out, put my arm through the hole & sure enough, something was amiss. I panicked a bit thinking maybe I sewed the arm in backwards, but realized that if that were the case the other sleeve would be wrong too. Turns out I just twisted the sleeve lining when I was sewing it to the coat. Easy fix.

See the hand-stitching? No? Good. It's for the best.

I had to do some hand-stitching on the hem to close the opening used to turn the coat right sides out. You'll be glad to know that my slip stitch has improved but once again, it wasn't good enough. So, I used transparent thread. It wasn't the funnest thing to work with--it's just like fishing line--but the end result is....well...invisible. Exactly what I needed. When my mom gave it to me out of her stash I didn't think I'd ever find a use for it. Now, it seems, the possibilities are endless.

Then came the buttons. My sewing machine makes the ugliest, most inconsistent buttonholes. They would not do. I had initially decided to hand stitch them. Can't be that hard, right? Wrong (duh. I can't even do a slip-stitch pretty.). Turns out I'm even more inconsistent than my machine. So, I did them "manually" on the sewing machine. I referenced the Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, but didn't like the way the bar-tacks were turning out. I practiced a good 20 buttonholes. In the end, I did a very short straight stitch &I liked the results well enough.

Buttons were also a a challenge. It was surprisingly difficult to find just plain ol' brown jacket buttons. So, I grabbed a button cover kit from JoAnn & used left over fabric to cover them. Looks great. Speaking of fabric, the outer shell is a brown minky. Soft & warm without being bulky. The combination of a bulky coat & a car seat is such a hassle, and more importantly, not safe. The lining is a cotton shirting I got from my MILs fabric stash (which I refer to as my Fabric Library) I initially wanted something fun, but nothing really struck my fancy at Joann, so I went for "nice" instead of "fun" and I really love the results.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Endless Combinations: The Fabrics

I received the fabrics I ordered on Thursday & they are all exactly what I had in mind. :) My contest plan has changed a bit. I decided to nix the dress-the fabric I want to use for it is just too slinky. I fully intend to use it, though, once I'm a little more comfortable with knits. So, instead I'm tentatively planning on sewing up another skirt (out of that gorgeous berry tweed) and/or another top. I'm playing that part by ear.

One of the fabrics I ordered is a crinkle gauze (the hot pink pictured above) & I was planning on using Simplicity 3750 but I've decided against it. The fabric is a bit see through & sometimes I have a hard time wearing a scoop neck cami under square necklines. Anyway, I think I'm going to pick up Simplicity 2892 instead.

Today I'm hoping to cut out my fabric for the straight skirt & cardigan. I considered attempting to do all my cutting before I started stitching, but I find the cutting part of sewing so tedious, I thought it better to do a bit at a time.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Endless Combinations: The Patterns

Here's what I have planned:

Straight Skirt (View C) from McCalls 3830 . I ordered a gray polyester suiting. Of course, I didn't take notice that it was polyester until after I ordered it. It's scheduled to arrive via UPS tomorrow. Hopefully it will work. If not, I'll start the contest off with a different garment & there should be time left in the contest to get a more suitable fabric.

Cardigan (View A) from Kwik Sew 3693. This will be a "topper" that will match everything else that I sew. I've done view B & loved how quickly it comes together.

Knit Dress (View C) from McCalls 5974. This will be a good one (I hope) since it already has the alterations on it. I'm also completely in love with the fabric I picked out for it. I may chicken out though, and use the funky print that I posted here because I just adore this fabric & I don't want to ruin it. We'll see where my confidence level is when I get to this piece. :)

Knit Top from Simplicity 4076. (View E). This pattern has gotten rave reviews on PR. I'm envisioning it in a deep purple, but I do have a few other options.

Tunic top from Simplicity 3750 (View A). This will be a bonus if I get to it. I anticipate a few fitting issues, but we'll see.

I also have Jalie 2794 on the way so I could use that, too.

All of these patterns have gotten really great reviews over on PR. I've also checked & they've also been rated "Easy & Great for Beginners" or "Highly Recommended" I am a little concerned that 3 of the 4 main pieces are knits, But I'm really determined to be able to use knit fabric so this will be a good opportunity to jump in.

I'm relieved to see that there are a couple others who are as new as I am to the whole 'garment sewing' scene. It makes me feel less crazy. :) I'm also glad to see lots of advanced sewers participating & I fully intend to take advantage of their knowledge & experience. :)

Stay tuned. This should be interesting.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Newest additions to my stash...

The first 6 yards of my new "stash" have arrived. And, I must say, they are quite lovely. I heard on PR that Fashionista Fabrics had some great deals in their Clearance section & decided to check it out. I don't think I had ever even been to their site before, but I instantly found 3 fabrics that I needed wanted. Two knits & a fabulous Tweed. I quickly ordered 2 yards of each.

First up, we have a white knit with black flower designs. This print is actually very large. Quite possibly too large for a top. But, having nothing to lose, I think I will use it as a muslin & I'll be happy if it turns out wearable. :)

Next, a funky knit. Again, the scale of this print is larger than I expected, so it will probably become a dress rather than a top like I had originally thought. This is much busy-er (busier?? More busy? AH, my mommy brain can't handle it. You know what I mean.) than what I typically wear, but I like it. It's fun. And fresh. And different.

And now, for the finale. Gosh. I'm SO excited about this one. Ready? A beautiful Acrylic Tweed. Whatever that means. (Ha. I wish I were kidding) titled "French Mulberry". All I know is that the colors are awesome. Fun but not outrageous. And very versatile.

She's dreaming of someday becoming a skirt. Paired with a custom made coordinating top. Or two.

I must mention how great Fashionista Fabrics was to work with. I ordered my beauties Tuesday afternoon & received it on Thursday. I thought maybe they were located nearby in the Pacific Northwest. But no. The return address is Michigan. So shipping was lightning fast. They shipped via USPS priority mail in a flat rate box. I highly recommend them. And, in case you were wondering, it looks like all 3 of these fabrics are still in stock. In case you were wondering. ;)

I almost forgot. I also received my Swedish Tracing paper which I ordered Monday. Looks like great stuff. I'll keep you updated. :)


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Non-Stasher No Longer....

Oh boy. I just added up all the fabric yardage that is on it's way to me. And, lemme just say. My days of not having a fabric stash are over. Finite. Gone.

Granted, I have very specific plans (and patterns) for each yard. I do. Never mind the fact that I have never sewn any of these patterns so whether or not they will work out for their intended purposes is anybody's guess.

They were all on sale. All but 3 yards (out of the 19 total. NINETEEN. GOODNESS. Somebody stop me) Total amount spent....$114 including shipping. That's about $6 a yard. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I guess it's pretty good if it's all quality stuff. Time will tell. There goes my 'housewife' allowance* for the next little while.

Ten of those yards are specifically for the Endless Combinations contest. The rest? Well, Fashionista Fabrics has some really great items on clearance. I decided it would be a good time to try them out--even if shipping did cost me an extra $10. I have some tweed, wool suitings, cotton gauze, and a bunch of knits coming. Looks like I'm going to have to learn to sew knits. :)

Also en route to yours truly is a roll of Swedish Tracing Paper. Since this stuff is sewable, I'm hoping it will cut down on my need for muslins in some cases. But if not I'll be glad to have something more durable to trace my patterns onto.

I will have to make one trip to Joann before the contest starts, I think to get my notions. And then there is preparing the fabric & tracing my patterns. And reading through the instructions. And then I'll be ready. I'm so excited to get started.

*For the record--this is my term for it, not my husband's. I handle the finances so in theory I could spend as much I want & get away with it. But that's just not my style. :)

Prepping for my first contest...

Photo courtesy of Hartlee Industries

I have been sewing. Really. I have. Three pairs of pj pants as a matter of fact. Two for my son & one pair for my mom.
And right now I'm working on a project that I'll be really excited to share. If I ever find the right buttons for it. :)
Right now my biggest sewing focus is the Endless Combinations contest on PR. It starts November 14 & runs for a month, so that gives me time to prepare & implement a plan.
The goal of the contest is to make a minimum of 4 garments that all coordinate with something else. Unlike a wardrobe contest, they don't all have to match eachother, but you should have no orphan pieces at the end. I'm pretty excited aobut it. A little anxious simply becuase I've only actually sewed one of the patterns I'm planning on using (Kwik Sew 3693-view A this time). But, really, considering that I've only sewn 2 garments for myself (one of which was lounge pants) that's to be expected. I don't know if I'll be able to do 4 garments in a month, but I'm going to give it a go. :)
Anyway, I'm excited. It will be a great way for me to broaden my sewing horizons & (hopefully) create some wearable outfits.
Have you ever joined a contest? Wanna join along with me? You can find the official thread here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Complete! Simplicity 2572

Alright! My first official project using a Big 4 pattern. It turned out well, could have been better but I wanted Laila to wear it to our weekend assembly, so I was on a time constraint. I took one week to do the jumper, hoodie & diaper cover. Looking back, I'm a little surprised I finished it, because I know that I even took a couple days off from sewing.

The jumper went together pretty easily, the neck & armholes are bound by bias tape, which was a challenge, just because baby neck & armholes are so tiny. I even did my first zipper.

I sewed size XS which is rated for 1-3 months & 7-13 lbs. The hoodie has some room to grown, but the's a little short. Which is understandable since it is a jumper, not a dress & Laila is pretty long. Comparing it to a RTW size 0-3 months shows that they are just about identical.

The hoodie was a real challenge--in a good way. Mostly. There is a place or 2 that I caught some of the jacket in the seam when I was attaching the hood, but I didn't re-do it simply because I knew it would become a wadder if I tore out one more seam. And Laila would likely grow out of it before I even got the ambition to fix it. So, I left well enough alone. And no one has been the wiser. In fact, people seem shocked that I made the outfit. I just love it when that happens.

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