Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Introducing My Newest Addition...

This, ladies (and gentlemen?) is my newest toy. She's a Huskylock 560 ED serger. Gorgeous, isn't she? Guess. What. She was free. FREE!! This poor neglected baby belongs to my mother-in-law who has a ton of sewing potential, but just doesn't have time for it right now. So, I get to borrow this until she gets back in the sewing saddle. Which, as my husband pointed out, may very well be never. :) My MIL is kind of a hobby collector.

Have I mentioned that my in-laws used to own a quilt shop? They just closed it (in order to simplify their lives) in the last couple years. And guess what. She still has at least 100 bolts of fabric left over. All for the taking. Yes, I'm very, very spoiled. It's all quilter's cotton, of course. But fabric is fabric. She's happy to see it being put to good use, and I'm thrilled to be able to use it.

Anyway, on Sunday she showed me how to use the serger & I was able to thread it on the first try. She couldn't remember how it went, so I had to depend on the 2-d illustrations in the manual. It was way easier than I thought it would be.

And I've used it! See:

My hands were shaking & my heart was pounding as I serged. But it all turned out great. It will be enclosed in bias tape so it won't be seen from the outside, which is ok. One thing about this serger is that you can use regular ol' spools of thread--you just need 4 of them. :)

I was thisclose to buying a serger on Friday because, ugh. I just can't get the hang of finishing my seam allowances with a zig zag stitch (you can see some pre-serger finishing in the picture). It's pathetic. I know.

Now I feel like she needs a name. Speaking of which, so does my sewing machine.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Wear Anywhere Yoga Pants

Sew Everything Workshop was the first sewing book I purchased. I really like it. It has enough information for the beginning seamstress without being overwhelming (which, apparently, is something that I have trouble with). I loved how it walked me through choosing patterns, fabrics, setting up my sewing space, not going overboard & getting the "gotta-have-it-all" syndrome.
I liked the writing style, friendly without being fake. Before this book, I didn't even know how to thread my sewing machine. SEW walked me through it successfully.

The patterns are both fun & functional, rated from very easy to advanced beginner. These Yoga Pants were the first (and so far, only) garment I made for myself. They were rated for the 'Easy to Intermediate beginner'. And I'm not going to lie. I love & adore them. They were easy to sew up & seem to fit pretty well. It was on them that I made my first (and second) buttonholes. As I've mentioned before, they cost me $14 to make and came together in a couple days (you know, during the kiddos' nap times & after bedtime) so it was a nearly instant gratification project.

I sewed a size small & while they are a little long-that's how I like my lounge pants. So it's perfect. I like the wide legs. I think that they need front square pockets. And I'd love to figure out a different closure option. The drawstring is very versatile, but not super "public friendly". I just wear these around the house. Then again, though, I'm usually wearing jeans or a skirt when I go out. You won't find me at Walmart in a pair of flannel PJs. Just sayin'.

I used beige linen for mine & I'd like to make a pair of black ones with white top stitching for my sister.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fit for Real People

Hmm. So, I did a bad thing & bought a new copy at Barnes & Noble of Fit for Real People (at full price $25). And I gotta say: It is way over my head. I can see how it could very well be the fit book, but yikes. I'm just not there yet.
A body map seems like a lot of work, a wealth of information, yes, but a lot of work. Also, the pictures. Oh, the pictures. They could use some updating. But that is easy enough to look past. Fitting problems are the same today as they were then.
The book also talked a lot about shoulder pads. Yeah. There will be no shoulder pads in my garments. I don't care if I do have a sloping shoulder.
That said, I'm probably going to keep it around. Becuase one can never have too many books. And down the road, when I have a few projects & fitting problems under my belt, I'm sure it will come in handy.
So, all that being said, I'm still in the market for a down & dirty fitting book. Amy mentioned Fitting Finesse in a comment (thanks Amy!!), any other recommendations?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Self Stitched September Wannabe

Ah. Self Stitched September. What a smorgasbord of inspiration. Someday I hope to be able to participate. Actually, would it count if I wore my self stitched lounge pants to bed every night? No? It's not the same? Well, ok then. I guess I'm just going to have to sit this one out.
But really, some day I would love to participate.
I realized that I'm putting off doing garments for myself out of fear of not being 'good enough.' But how am I going to learn if I'm not doing?? Don't get me wrong. I love making clothes for my living doll, Laila. And for whatever reason, I assume that whatever downfalls my clothing has will be upstaged by her cuteness (so far, so good). Do I not have the same cuteness? No need to answer. Purely hypothetical.
Anyway, it's a goal of mine. To have a wardrobe-heck, a mini wardrobe, completely made by me. Something to work towards, I suppose. But, as with any goal, there is always a first step. I suppose I should plan a 'me' project. Maybe this:

It's got good reviews. And I like both views. 'A' could be for slightly dressier occasions, while 'B' would be great for lounging. One reviewer even added a zipper. And maybe this would be a good foray into knits.

Decisions, decisions....

I had originally intended to use this fabric to sew Simplicity 2572, but, sigh, I've decided it would be much better suited for a more casual hoodie. So I found this pattern:

and I bought it. Of course I bought it. But now...I'm having second thoughts about lining up the plaids. I mean, there's no way they would line up at the sleeve (right?), but what about the trim? Maybe I could do that in a contrasting fabric, maybe a solid pink that I'm planning to do the lining from? Would it look ridiculous if it didn't line up there along the front? I just don't know. Should I just stash the plaid fabric for something else? Should I just shut up & sew? Any thoughts? What would you do?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Good deal!

I've been dying to get another sewing book (what?! I only have 2!) and I've been having trouble deciding between Reader's Digest's Guide to Sewing (a book I was too intimidated to buy before I started my adventures in sewing) or Fit for Real People. I've been stalking & found a copy of the 1995 edition of Reader's Digest Guide to Sewing for $3!!! With shipping it came to $7.44 & it was rated as a "good' copy. Heck, as long as the pages are intact & readable I'd say that's a steal! So, we'll see when it gets here, but I'm excited. There were a few of the more recent editions, but from reviews I've read the '95 edition has more information (but editions prior to that are even better)
So, I'll save Fit for Real People for next time. I have yet to sew an actual garment for myself (wait--I take that back. I sewed up the 'Wear anywhere yoga pants from the Sew Everything Workshop) and I think maybe it's because I'd like to get at least an idea of what fit issues I'll come across. Until next time...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Apron Complete!!

I finished my first apron. It turned out nicely. Next time I'll make the sweetheart neckline more pronounced, (my fault-not the pattern's-I was afraid of cutting off too much.) Also, the bodice is a bit too small for me (but I'm pretty sure that is going to be 'standard', since most patterns accommodate only up to a B cup, and after 2 kids & since I'm currently breastfeeding--well, let's just say that I see some major FBAs in my future), so I think I'll make it significantly wider. Possibly 4-5 inches.
As for the pattern-loved it. Super easy. Clear instructions. I did contact the maker of the pattern, Gretchen, and she was as sweet as could be. I loved how little fabric the pattern requires & how it uses every inch of it up. Initially, I thought the straps were a little longer than I would have liked, but I've found that I really like being able to tie the waist strap in the front. And it would have been incredibly simple to shorten them up, too. It's also very versatile. I think I'm going to make my sister's a square neckline simply because of the fabric I chose. Anyway, here's pictures. And, this is me. Sort of. My hair is usually very curly, but I got it 'did' on Tuesday. :)

See how the bodice gapes? Oh well. I'll make some adjustments next time, but this'll do. I do love the black/white/hot pink combination. Very diva-ish. Domestic diva, that is. ;)
And remember, you can buy your very own pattern here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Kylie Dress

Well. It's done. And I'm glad. I'm less than pleased with how the back of the dress looks; I had anticipated there would be some issues there, but with the placket confusion I had hoped I was wrong (Lesson learned: trust my sewing instincts, as untested as they are).
The front looks nice though & the print of the fabric is ok. As much trouble as I had with this pattern, I do think I'll give it another go, especially since it's sized all the way up to 6T. All the issues I had with it are remedied now that I've actually done them. The e-book does have one (very) misleading illustration and then there is the blatant lack of placket description, but there's no lesson like experience, so I'm hoping for a much smoother encounter the next time around.
I love the lines of this dress & I think it would look great in a special occasion fabric. Maybe even with a translucent overlay. Anyway, enough talk. Time for pictures.
The dress front:

Here's a closeup of the back wonky-ness. See how the bodice is cock-eyed? Sigh.

And TA DA! Here is my placket, which I find very functional, by the way. I just can't beleive that the instructions didn't go into the construction of it more thoroughly. Had it not been for the gals over at PR, I wouldn't have been able to figure it out. Guess that means I need another sewing book. The next time I do this dress, I'm planning on doing a tutorial on the placket since I couldn't find any.

I got a lot of compliments on the dress at meeting & I just smiled & said thank you. No need to point out it's imperfections. So, here are some lessons the Kylie pattern taught me:
  • Obviously, the placket
  • Using a slip stitch. I had never done this before & had to look it up to attach the bodice lining to the skirt. My stitches started out downright ugly, but improved significantly towards the end (not significantly enough to share pictures, however)
  • Slip stitching Velcro is the pits. Really. Had I read the instructions a little more thoroughly I would have seen that they suggested the iron on kind. Of course. Otherwise you see the stitching on the back. No problem, I now know how to slip stitch. It was more work than I anticipated, but the results are so much cleaner.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Upcoming Projects

I found this apron pattern on Etsy the other day & decided to buy it. I just couldn't resist the Sweetheart neckline. So, on my trip to Joann's I picked up some fabric to whip a couple up.
I chose a black & white print with hot pink straps for myself & a big, beautiful floral print with black straps for my sister (because of the print, I might just do a straight neckline, but I haven't made up my mind yet.) I can't wait to get started!

And for Simplicity 2572 I'm going to do View D (the hoodie) in a black & pink plaid. This will actually be my very first project from a Big 4 pattern. I gotta admit, I'm a little intimidated. :D

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Project That Started it All

Ahhh, Ruffle Butts. After I found out I was having a girl, I knew these would be a must have. It seemed to me that this would be a necessity for any baby girl. But I was a little (just a little, mind you) put off by the prices of commercial diaper covers. I mean, let's face it. They are just going to get pooped on. So, for the time being, my frugality got the best of me (that & I wasn't sure I could justify a $20 poop catcher to my husband) and I thought ruffle butts a lost cause. Anyway, shortly after that, I discovered this tutorial. And I decided that I could do it. Heck, I had a ba-jillion of those little white onesies laying around, left over from when I had my son and I know plenty of people who sew. Not to mention that poor, neglected old Kenmore sewing machine sitting out in our shed that had been given to me from a family friend. So, after a trip to the fabric store I created this (sorry about the collage--I'm still trying to figure out the secret to getting blogger to layout my pictures the way I want):

(By the way, those adorable models you see are my son Shawn & daughter Laila and yikes, what a pair of PJs Shawn has on. Expect to see more of that. )

It went together nicely & though it is far from perfect, I learned the very basics of sewing with that onesie & I'm still quite proud of it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I fought the plaket & I won. I think.

Well, the Kylie dress is back on. Thanks to the ladies at PR, I figured out the placket. Mostly. I'm not thrilled with how it turned out, but I think I may be holding a grudge :D I'm also doubting the fabric I chose, I love the print, but this dress may be better suited to something a little less busy. We'll see.
Went to Joann's yesterday & got enough goodies for 3 more projects. Two aprons, one for me & one for my sister- and a baby hoodie for my baby girl. I'll have to take pictures of my fabric & post it before I get to cutting--that is, if I ever finish the Kylie dress. I'm really trying to just work on one project at a time. I'm also not buying fabric unless I have a specific project for it. It's working so far, but if DH keeps it up, I'm going to have a huge stash by month's end. :) Did I mention his parents used to own a quilt store? And his mom still has a bedroom full of fabrics on the bolt? Oh, yes indeed. DH is not opposed to stashing :) "It's not like you're not gonna use it," he says. And he may be right. But I just feel better if everything has a plan; a purpose. For now.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Hold up...

That adorable Kylie dress I was so excited about? Yeah. I'm taking a break from it. I'm quite disappointed with the e-book instructions, most specifically the description of a placket. Being a new sewer I didn't even know what a placket was. Thanks to google, I now understand. However, I cannot seem to wrap my mind around how exactly it is supposed to go on to this dress. Or the function of it. The pictures on the pattern of the 'finished' placket look just like what it looks like before the placket. It doesn't help that the placket instructions are so sparse for this pattern that it doesn't even inform you of the fact that you need a separate piece of fabric. Very disappointing.
I should convo the seller again, but I just don't have the heart. I think instead I'll ask the ladies on Pattern Review for their imput.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Million Dollar Question...

Does sewing save money?? This is something I've been pondering the last few days. And I think the short answer is this: It can.
On my maiden I'm-going-to-give-sewing-a-try trip to Joann's, with my mom (and toddler) in tow I gasped at seeing the prices for patterns. Fourteen bucks a piece?! Yikes. My mom then told me not to expect to save money by sewing.
And at first sight, she might have been right. If you buy a pattern at full price (which I now realize is quite rare) add up the required fabrics & notions (assuming you buy a new set each project) you could likely already be spending more than what you would spend if you had gone the Ready-to-wear route. And that is without taking into account the time & effort you (lovingly) put into the project.
However, if you get your pattern for, say, $1, buy your fabric & notions on sale (which is the primary way I've shopped thus far) and sew said pattern numerous times...well then, I'd say at the end of the day you've come out ahead of the game. Not to mention you get the thrill of saying "Thanks! I made it!" when you receive a compliment on the what you're wearing.There are other things to take into consideration, too. Many sewers find that it easier to sew their own garments than it is to find RTW clothing that fits just right.
Now, for me, being a beginner I sew because I enjoy it. The entire process. I love watching scraps of fabric turn into something wearable. As of right now, sewing isn't saving me money, but really, it's not breaking the bank either. There are, without a doubt, more expensive hobbies with less return. I did make myself a great pair of lounge pants (the Wear Anywhere Yoga Pants from the Sew Everything Workshop) and though I love them, I didn't need another pair of comfy pants, but then again, who doesn't need another pair of comfy (and cute!) pants??
Let's break it down.

Pattern: $0 (it came with the Sew Everything Workshop book, which I'd say is included in my sewing start up costs, which is another list in itself)
Fabric: $10.49 (with 50% off coupon)
Drawstring: $1.58
Thread: $1.39
Grand Total: $13.46

Ok. $14 for a pair of pants that I really, really enjoy. I don't think I'd spend much less on a pair of RTW pants of this kind. I like wearing them, I liked making them & I plan on sewing this pattern again in the future. As time goes on & my skill set grows, I plan on being able to sew just about anything, and doing it well. It will be then, I think, I hope, that sewing will save me money. But if not, well, it is something that I really like doing.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Project in Progress Sneak Peak

I can't wait to get this put together and see it on my little girl! The first picture is linked to the shop on Etsy that sells this pattern. I've used on of their patterns before (the Harper dress--details to come) and let me just say that their patterns are truly wonderful! I did contact the seller at one point with a question & she was incredibly helpful & responded within minutes. She (Angi) was also kind enough to check in with me a couple days later to see how things were coming together. I will definitely be purchasing from them again. Kylie Dress PatternMichael Miller's Round About in Orchid
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