Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Prom Dress... Finished!!!

Just a tiny dart required on the bodice edge to eliminate an outside gaping, I hemmed it last night, and delivered it today. I think the bust appears bigger than reality because of the cups I stitched in between the lining and the satin. Please, also keep in mind that my dressform is not set to her measurements in this photo! I'm eager to see it on her with hair and make-up done, I know with her coloring that she will be stunning! Her boyfriend has asked if I have enough fabric to make him a matching tie, so if anyone out there has recommendations (patterns/construction), I'm all ears!!! Here is a view of the back of the bodice, the angled border piece is the one that I had to draft from scratch to accomodate the lowered center back. I learned a lot about working from the fitting muslin on this project!
Here's a view of the inside lining of the bodice. I wasn't as super neat and tidy as I could've been, but I had to gather the lining edge and tack it down at the same time. You can also see how I serged the edges of the skirt pieces and pressed them open.

Last night I was also busy knocking out a few embroidery orders. Business has been quiet lately, which has been nice for my "fun" sewing, but it's also nice to make money! I did some sweatpants and a knit cap for our baseball coach and a number of items (10!) for the Lacrosse coach. The logo below is one that I actually created myself! I absolutely love my editing software (Brother PE Design 8.0), and it takes all the pain out of the editing that clients ask for. It's paid itself off, so you know it's getting the job done!!!
One little trick that I use when when placing a logo is to take an index card, and cut it down to the dimensions of the logo. I use my small hole punch in the center and at the center of each edge. My chalk pencil marks each hole perfectly, and when the card is moved, I know exactly where to center my hoop. Ta-da!!!
Kind of hard to see (sorry), but the 5 light dots on the shirt above are the marks I'm talking about.


The May BWOF came in the mail yesterday, and it's FILLED with wonderful summery dresses and my head is spinning (and Threads came today)... that sewing ADD is popping up again! Dawn mentioned a 4 piece SWAP contest at PR, so maybe that will help keep me on task! Right now I've got a skirt nearly done, and DH put in a request for some short sleeve button downs, so we'll have to see... that denim (uncut) and dress pattern is still on my table!!!

One last thing: Have you heard about the movie "Julie, Julia" coming out in August? It stars Meryl Streep (Julia Child) and Amy Adams (Julie Powell), and is about a lady (Adams) who does a daily blog while she blogs her way through Child's cookbook. I saw a preview last night, and it made me think of how much I've enjoyed blogging about sewing and how much I've learned from all of your blogs and comments. I really appreciate your input and advice, so thanks to all of you for your help and friendship!

Parting Shot: My daughter handed me this afterschool today and said, "Happy Mother's Day!"

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Doctor, Doctor (the Sequel)!

Can you believe that there have been 2 more doctor visits in the last 2 days?
Visit 3: Little Man had a fever yesterday when I got home from work, and told me his "mouth hurt". No appetite and lots of lethargy, I knew the pediatrician was going to say... "Strep Throat." Another antibiotic, please...

Visit 4: DH has caught the bug, too. He's headed to the doctor now and knows exactly what their going to say. The fun of having sick little kids cough in your face...

As for me, I'm the healthy one here! I'm gargled with Listerine (multiple times!), taken my vitamins, and washed my hands furiously. I had the house to myself at 9pm last night, since all other occupants were sleeping (medicated and peacefully). Got the prom skirt seams all serged, so I just have to put the top and bottom together and add a zipper. I decided to serge each edge separately, just in case I need to let a seam out.

The biggest bummer of all is that it was 80 here yesterday and will be again today, but there's no fun to be had with a house full of sickos. Maybe I can catch some rays during naptime. Just keep your fingers crossed that I stay germ- and fever-free!!!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Doctor, Doctor...

Visit 1: Monday, pediatrician. "Everything looks fine, just the start of a cold."
Little Miss Princess couldn't shake the sore throat, and developed a fever, so the antibiotics were called in, and she's much improved, now that I've called off twice this week to stay home with her!
Visit 2: Wednesday, family doctor (me). "Yes, it appears to be carpal tunnel. Do these exercise, and wear this wrist brace at night when you sleep, or more if it helps."
I don't know if it's that I'm back at work and sewing less, or if the Advil and brace are really helping, but my wrist does feel better.

Yesterday, since I was home with the recovering Princess (who took a 3 1/2 hour nap!), I wore the brace and was able to complete most of the prom gown. Modifying the pattern pieces after fitting the muslin was the most time consuming, since the gown itself is pretty simple. I got the bodice all put together, and all the skirt panels, too. I need to rethread the serger (finish those long skirt seams), attach the skirt to the bodice and insert the zipper. She'll have her final fitting on Monday...
With so many seams angled on the bias (bodice front and back), I was trying to figure out when to use the selvedges as stablizer (bodice center front opening), and when I fusible interfacing would be okay (back bodice section that is low cut and attaches to skirt). So far, it looks good. I wish I could fit into it to know, so I'm hoping my dress form will be helpful in that area!
**Problem! There are 2 small stains on the skirt back (near the hem) that I didn't notice when the fabric was cut at the store, or at home! They are about an inch in length, and 1/4" wide. What should I do?? I don't want to attempt stain removal myself (and risk ruining it more 2 weeks before prom), so I think my options are...
1. Take it to the drycleaners and see if they can remove it (after I finish it)
2. Knock some $ off the price for the client if it can't be removed.
3. {Your ideas?}

The weather is supposed to be gorgeous here this weekend, so I might be manning a garage sale table in my driveway. It was the neighbor's idea, so hopefully we can unload some items that we no longer need/want. Sunday is embroidery day, since I've got 2 coaches who want some personal items tagged with their team logos, and a daycare who wants to see a sample of my services. I'm also going to be trying out a design on a bucket hat, so we'll see how that goes. Hope all of you have a wonderful and productive weekend!!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Carpal Tunnel???

For the last week, my right hand has been a pain... literally! I've woken up in the morning for 3 consecutive days with a numb/tingly hand. Not thinking much of it (maybe I slept on it?), until I experience prolonged tingling, numbness, and aching even after being up for a few hours. I did do more sewing over break than I normally do, but no hand-stitching, so I'm a little perplexed... It doesn't seem fair that something can bring me so much joy can cause such great pain AT THE SAME TIME!!!

The more people I talk to about it, many of them are saying it's carpal tunnel. Even today, my wrist is sore, and the tingling is like a vibration running through my thumb and first two fingers. I'll need to make a doctor's appointment apparently, but for now I'll make sure to keep Advil by my side! Bummer... I was so happy with how productive I've been over the last week, and now this. Getting old sucks.

Started the last leg of The Prom Dress last night. The original pattern needed a lot of altering, not just for the client's body, but also the changes she wanted to the design (lowering the back). I procrastinated, being nervous about tearing into the muslin and turning it into pattern pieces, but yesterday I finally overcame my nervousness and got the job done, transferring all the measurements and changes to the pattern and creating new pattern pieces. I got it all pinned out and half of the pieces are cut, with the other half and the lining still to do. The fabric is not a typical "prom color", it's a burnt orange/rust/copper. I'll share photos as it progresses, but keep your fingers crossed for me!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Fabric Shopping

I took a 45 minute ride yesterday to my favorite "gourmet" fabric store yesterday, Haberman Fabrics in Royal Oak, Michigan. I only get down there about twice a year, so I stocked up on some Spring/Summer selections. Hey Dawn, can you remind me how you set sewing goals for yourself, since you are so productive?

I really want to try a couple summer versions of this Simplicity top that I just worked with. In the correct size, this time! So, these two fabrics will be camis or summery tank. The print is a batiste and the solid is a silk (remnant, yay me!).

Picked up this skirt pattern for a buck last week, and love the few soft pleats (only in the front), in the shorter length (the red one on the envelope). Both of these prints will work, and the fuschia silk cami will match! Woo hoo!

This spring and summer has me attending a few dressier events: commencement, a retirement party, and my sister's wedding. I really like the (potential) fit of this Vogue pattern, so I grabbed this black and white linen/poly blend, along with a little solid black for the bands on view B. Not sure if I'll embellish the bands or not...

This gold print knit is a little different for me, but I think it will look great as view C on this McCall's pattern that I've used before and would love to do again.

I also stumbled across this gray acrylic wool that I saw the last time I was at the store and didn't purchase. At half-off, I didn't make the same mistake twice! I'll use it for the fall, maybe a jacket or a skirt...

I can't lie, I did also visit Joann's this week, but it was a waste of time. I found two prints I really liked, and used my 50% coupon. This cotton sateen is so lovely with the hints of coral around the flowers, I'm not sure if this will be another skirt (see above) or a cute sundress. I like this New Look, everytime I wear my version I get compliments so maybe the halter version would be cute.

I love this Retro Butterick '46, but have been waiting for the right fabric to come along. I like this floral rayon, I think the scale of the print is perfect for view B.

Now, I know there isn't a BWOF in the bunch (or pants!), so I'll be honest. I love the styles and the fit, but I absolutely hate tracing. That's why I haven't tried the Jalie jeans yet, and I know it's a crappy excuse. I'm sure I'll get back to it soon. And if you're wondering how much money I spent on fabric this weekend, I'll tell you this... I averaged between $10 and $15 per garment. Not bad in my book!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sewing ADD?! (aka Ooooh, something shiny, I'll chase it!)

How is it I end up making something that was not on my radar at all, and the projects that I was excited about a week ago sit in limbo? Must be sewing ADD, I just get easily distracted by all the beautiful things that you ladies in Blog Land are making. Bunny's been working with chiffon, as was Amanda... it was silk with Sommerset, and Angie made a cute short sleeve top. The weather's been gorgeous (70 yesterday, 72 today!) so I set the denim dress aside, and made myself a pretty silky top. (Sorry, the FF/photographer is unavailable, so the dressform shot will have to do!) I first reached for the chiffon, but decided to hold off and use this gorgeous cotton silk from the co-op. The color is so beautiful, and the weight is light without being airy. I picked up this Simplicity pattern a week ago for $1, and figured I could turn it out in a day (with Little Miss Princess at Kindergarten and my son still napping in the afternoon). I was right (mostly), but man did this pattern throw me some curve balls! Here's a better shot of the details of the top.
Here's my detailed review, but to make a long story short, this pattern runs big. I know, you're all shocked that a Simplicity pattern would run big, but I'm telling you, it ran HUGE. Falling off of me, could've stepped into the stinking thing, HUGE. At first I was so mad, because I absolutely loved the fabric and should've known better (make a muslin, you idiot!), but there was no way I would let this be a wadder! I made a few alterations (created a center back seam and took it in 2"), and it's much better now. It's not as amazingly fantistic as I pictured in my head, but I'm sure it will grow on me. (As soon as all of you comment on how amazingly fantastic it is! Just kidding...) I also had to adjust the shoulder elastic and eliminate the side elastic at the waist (I want to tuck it in sometimes), and I'll be adding some bra strap holders, too. I'm not pitching the pattern, I'm going to make a muslin of view D or E for summer in a 14 and see if that will fit properly! Here's the back with the added seam (pretty boring...)
My Spring Break from school is drawing to an end, and I really can't complain. I made 3 pieces, read a book (Janet Evanovich "One for the Money"), went shopping for myself, did some spring cleaning in the kids' rooms, and enjoyed beautiful weather. Now I have to bring myself to grade some papers... yuck! I think the denim dress is intimidating me, and I know there are easier garments that I could do faster. We'll see what develops, I bet another "something shiny" comes along!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spring/Summer Outfit #1

Simplicity 2677

Pattern Description: Top/Dress (with or without short, cap sleeves), shorts and pants. There are variations for color blocking on the top/dress. Pants/Shorts have elastic waist and top/dress has zipper at center back.
Pattern Sizing: 3-8. I made the 4 for my daughter (RTW 6) with slight size modifications.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Mostly, yes. I turned the pants into capri's, with a drawstring tie at the hem.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, and well illustrated.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I liked the style of the top/dress, but when I realized it was a back zipper closure, I was really irritated. In a dress I think that's fine, but what 5 yr old wants to zip her shirt in the back??? The Big 3 really need to think about their customers needs (little kids that like to dress themselves). See alterations below to see how I fixed this issue.

Fabric Used: Cotton/lycra wovens from Joann's. My daughter chose 3 prints and 3 coordinatiing solids for a spring/summer wardrobe that she can easily mix and match. This is the first of the 3 outfits.
Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
Pants: They were going to be too short for pants, so I decided to make capri's. I knew I wanted a decoration at the hem, and had a feeling I'd be taking them in, too. When I serged the inside leg seam, I serged each front side and back side edge separately, so I'd be able to press those seams open and make a casing at the hem for the tie. The fit in the waist and through the hip was a little big, so I took in 1/2" on each side, and graded up to an 1" at the calf. I took 3" off the hem to make them capri's, folded up 1" to make a casing for the drawstring tie, and used my 1/2" bias tape maker to make the ties. I cut 1" strips, pressed them through the tape maker, and folded them closed to make a long skinny drawstring, stitching them shut.
Top: When I realized the front wrap was just for show and the pattern called for a back zipper, I made some changes. I sewed the center back seam closed, and placed a hidden snap at front right and front left to keep the wrap closed. (It's hidden because I placed the snaps prior to stitching down the waistband decoration. See picture below.) I used my bias tape maker again (for the neck and armhole bindings, too) and made a loop for the tie to catch the front flap.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yeah, now that I've engineered the front to be a real wrap top, yes. I'll be making another pair of capris/shorts, and a dress (down the road). I recommend to others, it's a really cute outfit, and not a big deal if you don't care about the back zipper or want to change it.

Conclusion: Cute pattern, I wish I had traced it off, instead of cutting into it. I'll pick up another copy at the next 99 cent sale!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

I'm Short!!!

Not my height... my denim! The 2 yards I bought is just enough to eek out the dress, but not enough for the pockets and sash. I'll have to wait until Monday or Tuesday to get back to Joann's for denim, so in the meantime, I'll make Little Miss Princess and nice little springtime outfit. She picked out 3 solids (lavender, fuschia, yello) and 3 coordinating prints (2 floral, 1 plaid) for some warm weather gear the other day. It's all laundered and cut, just need to thread the needle! The first outfit is the pant (capri length) and short-sleeve top from Simplicity 2677, using the fabrics shown below. (Why won't the Simplicity website let us save the pattern pictures or at least give them their individual links?! So frustrating!)
As for me, I'm starting a new diet. I know this has nothing to do with sewing, but in way it does. I've become really frustrated with sewing well fitted garments for myself in the size that my current body demands. I know it shouldn't bother me, and that hobbies are supposed to be fun, but I can remember the days when I required a far smaller size that the one I'm cutting these days! So, I'm on Day 3 of my new project, tracking my calories, protein, fat, and carbs via the SparkPeople website. It's free, easy to use, and has so much information. I even found a group of ladies there that love to sew, and are dieting, too. Hopefully, you and I will see a healthier me start to develop as I work on this new adventure and continue to sew for myself and post new garments. If you're interested in checking out Spark People, the link is here.

Hope you are all enjoying a wonderful Easter!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Not a Standard Easter Dress...

Today is my first of 10 days off from work! No big plans, DH has to work today and Easter Sunday, and will all the family out of town, we'll just be hanging around the house, playing. Should make for a great break!I spied this dress in a catalog that came in the mail, Body Central. The styles are far too young for me, and after purchasing a cute t-shirt (safe, right?), I learned that their sizing is ridiculous. The medium (misses) t-shirt is now worn by Little Miss Princess as a nightshirt (she's 5!), but she could wear it as t-shirt (it's not that long). Just look at the length of this dress, and you'll know I could never just order this dress and wear it. So, what's girl to do? Dig in the pattern drawer, and make one that fits!

I've got 2 Simplicity Project Runway patterns that should be perfect: 2923 and 2927. Most of the dress is very, very similar to 2923, I've circled the best one below. (Oops! The catalog shows a notched collar, try that one again...)
I'll need to extend the button placket all the way to the hem, and add the pocket and seams from 2927, as shown below.
I'll have to draft my own breast pockets, belt and loops, but I'm pretty sure I can handle that! On second thought, I might not extend that button placket all the way down. I seem to remember having a dress with that feature that bugged me everytime I sat down and the placket pulled open a little. Maybe it was ill-fitting... I really like the line extending to the hem, I think it might make for an optical illusion of lengthening (and slimming???) my body.

Ideas and feedback here, please... there's time for input! The denim is washed (I picked up 2 cuts to do the Jalie Jeans Sew Along and make a pair for DD, so there's 2 yards for me, too!) and I have some errands to run before I can even cut the paper pattern with the rotary cutter. I'm going to make sure I've got all the denim supplies I need (buttons and thread), I think this will be my Easter project...

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I needed a no-brainer project, and had the knit all washed and ready for cutting. I knew exactly what to make... Butterick 4789. I've made this dress once before and it brings compliments each time I wear it. It's the one thing I've ever made that my husband really thought I bought at a store! This twist front, short sleeve, knee length dress will perfect in a couple weeks when the weather warms up and spring officially arrives. The fabric is jersey knit from Ressy's co-op, in dark brown with ivory/pink swirls. I highly recommend a swirly pattern that will camoflage the center front and back seams if you choose to make this up for yourself!
From cutting to hemming, this dress was a morning project. 2 pattern pieces (front and back) and 2 yds of fabric. Although there are center front and center back seams, there are no closures, and for work, I'll throw a camisole underneath. Here's the view of the back...

And a close-up of the twist front...
What's with the firetrucks? DH is my photographer, but stuck at work today. So we did the photo shoot at the station, since I really, really wanted to show of my success a.s.a.p.!

I've been trying to think of some "fire" , "hot" play on words, but nothings coming to mind...
I really did need a "slam-dunk" project after the jacket, and in case you're not aware, March Madness is coming to a close with our home team, the Michigan State Spartans playing in the finals tomorrow night!!! I have a niece and nephew who both attend MSU, so GO GREEN, GO WHITE!

So, please breathe a sigh of relief along with me, I'm happy again, and loving this dress!!!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

BWOF Jacket - All Zipped Up!

It is so thoroughly frustrating to spend hours making something, only to finish it, put it on, and have it be wrong. Not aesthetically wrong, but technically wrong. You can't tell, and no one knows but me (and DH), but it's annoying all the same. Was I too tired when I was working on it? Did I misread the instructions because I was hurrying to finish? All I know is that I went from super excited (Yay, it's done, it fits, it looks great!) to packing up the machine and vowing not to touch it again unless I absolutely have to. Don't worry, I'm much better now. DH reminded me that hobbies are supposed to be fun, and I have a tendency to take myself much too seriously. Having the zipper ends be 1/4" off is not the end of the world. It's called "perspective" and with a little time and reflection, I know that sewing brings me much more satisfaction than failure, so giving it up is just not an option. Sorry for the rant, but I needed to get that off my chest!

I knew the fabric was going to be pain when I first sunk the scissors into it. Lint everywhere! Used the serger to finish all seams, which eliminated all lint and fraying. I'm not sure of the technical description, but my best guess is its a crinkled poly/nylon layered outerwear (purchased from the co-op online). There's a bit of puffiness to it, which also contributed to some frustration with seams laying flat. Slightly bulky at seam intersections, but nothing terrible. No drape either, but that was okay, it's a outerwear jacket and I was more concerned with about having warmth. If I had to do over again, I would've serged the pocket edges prior to attaching them, you can see that the corners were left a little undone since I couldn't get to them afterward.

My second issue was the zipper. In retrospect, this was really where I messed up. It was a tad bit too long, and I should've trimmed it properly and taken more time carefully placing it. I have a really bad habit of cutting corners when I'm eager to finish. I didn't realize until after I had the facings all sewn down and the hem stitched closed that the left side is about 3/8" higher than the right. I didn't notice it when I tried it on, since I couldn't see the bottom of center front real closely, and I didn't zip up the jacket all the way to the top. Stupid, stupid, stupid... The bottom is worse that the top, but sorry, I'm keeping that picture under wraps!Will anyone notice, other than me? Probably not. But it's there, and I know it. Could I rip it out and fix it. Yes. Will I? Probably not. Just thinking about ripping it out makes me so mad, I want to scream. This was preventable, I'm not a beginner, and it made me feel like a failure, as my students say, an "epic failure". Part of me really wants to pack up all my sewing stuff, put it out of sight, and walk away. Everyday I see all of your awesome projects, with your fabulous fit and how you all manage to make something new almost daily... it makes me wonder if I'm doing something wrong. The truth is, I have a very full schedule, and that's all there is to it.

Third issue was the fit through the waist. From the armpits down, it was huge. It fit like maternity wear! I tapered in the sides from the armpit down, taking about 1 1/2" in at the hem. I also took another inch in at the waist from center back, tapering from between the shoulder blades to the waist, and back out to nothing at the hem.
In the end (a few hours after realizing my mistake), I'm happy with the final product. It's not perfect, but close enough for me. I have the jacket to wear to work that I wanted, and a lesson learned the hard way that (cliche warning!) a stitch in time does save nine!
Parting Shot: (I haven't done one of these in forever!)

The first quilt I ever made, I gave to my mother. It's mine now, and the kids love snuggling under it on the couch, since they fit under it! This project also has it's beginner flaws, but it's super warm (double layer of batting) and reminds me of my mom, who taught me how to sew. The print fabric that ties the colors together is all sewing notions.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Jammies and a Jacket (Project Runway Update!)

Shocked? Yeah, me too! I didn't think I'd have anything to post until the weekend! Had to stay home with Little Man, since he's not quite ready to return to daycare after the flu bug hit him Monday. He played, I sewed, we played, he slept, I sewed...
Here is the latest version (4th) of the TNT Little Miss Princess Nightgown (aka Butterick 4910). This pattern is good all year round... flannel, cotton, or like this version, flannel backed silky. I found this fabric on the clearance shelf at Joann's for $1/yd, you just can't say no to $2 jammies! At that price, I'm thinking I should've gotten a few more yards. Pooh Bear and Piglet never go out of style!

The other wonderful thing about this pattern is the variations. Short sleeve, long sleeve, short dress, long dress, pants, or shorts. Like I said, all year long! I got smart and bought second pattern, this time tracing it off so I can use it FOREVER. Or for the next 3 years...

I'm so proud of my little girl! She earned her yellow stripe belt at Tae Kwon Doe last night! Her instructor has invited all the parents to participate tomorrow night... should be fun. I think.

Project #2 has been my new spring coat. Here in Michigan, the afternoons are reaching about 60 degrees, but it's pretty chilly in the morning when I leave for work. I'm using #106 from the Dec. 08 BWOF, a 2 1/2 dotter. Pretty simple and straight-forward, (it's got great, sporty seam lines through the shoulders) but I have a couple of issues.
  • The fabric is a linty, ravelley mess. It's a black layered crinkle poly. Perfect jacket weight, but there's no drape to it. Can be a little puffy on the seams, and doesn't press flat. I've serged anything I can, so that part of the fabric issue is solved. But, the puffy factor is irritating. It's not really a problem, just takes longer to deal with, and I really don't want to look "puffy" when I'm wearing it. Got the fabric from Ressy's co-op, and I like that it's black and will go with everything.

  • The fit is really weird. I cut a 44, and it's perfect in the shoulders and chest, but gigantic through the waist. Huge like a maternity top. I could easily fit a basketball under it zipped, no kidding. BWOF describes this jacket as "short and fitted", HA!!! Luckily, the center back seam is not topstitched, so I'll just take it in there, and maybe in the side seams. I've got to fix this... one side is higher than the other on the top of the zipper. Could've sworn it was all matched up when I pinned it...
This is the first time I've ever installed a separating zipper, which wasn't bad at all. It was a pinch too long (no biggie), but it's supposed to be hidden, and the stupid puffy fabric won't neatly fold down flat. I know I can fix it, but I'm tired, so I'll hit it tomorrow... with a hammer...
ETA: Project Runway will return... to Lifetime this summer. Here's an article with details.