Sunday, January 30, 2011

Enabler Alert!

Maxi-Lock 3000yds

Got a serger? How about a coverstitch? Maxi-Lock Thread is on sale at Atlanta Thread & Company, but only until Midnight TONITE! (The coupon code is "maxi-jan-2011" at checkout).

At $1.75, I stocked up on a few colors I didn't have, and grabbed a few spools I needed.  For $6 shipping, it's worth it, getting a much, much, much better color selection that Joann's and not having to deal with going out in the cold snow and waiting in a long line (have I mentioned my great unhappiness with JA's lately?)!

Here are all the colors available (I love this feature, makes my life so much easier than trying to guess what color "Lauren" is)! It's so much better than the black, white, red, and blue that is typically stocked at a store.

They also have a fabulous selection of many other sewing supplies.  I also ordered about a dozen zippers of various size and color. The prices are amazing and the color selection is wonderful. I took inventory of my upcoming projects and ordered accordingly.  Less then $1.50 for a full size invisible? Count me in! With my order, the shopping came out to be less than a quarter (25 cents) per item, which is still considerably less than what I'd pay at JA's.

Have fun! And if you didn't catch the notice in time, no big deal.  Their regular price is $1.85/spool!
(Note: I am not affiliated with Atlanta Thread, but think we sewists need to look out for each other!)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Love and Hate (Mostly LOVE)

-The fabrics both came from Gorgeous Fabrics and were wonderful to work with.  Exactly the right weight for each pattern!  It looks like both sold out, but I'm sure Ann has others that are equally awesome!
Butterick 5555
-The style and fit of the top.  The neckline "bib" (especially with the plaid on the bias) has a great shape, and the gathers underneath are just the right amount.  It's got the right amount of roominess for a tunic, but without the "maternity" look.  (Although, if you're pregnant, this top would totally work for you!)
-The sleeves are a great length, and again... just the right amount of gathers, so as to not be too "poofy". I'm also happy with my decision to place the cuffs on the bias, which a small (but cute) detail.
-The idea of leggings (and the comfort), but I'm not sure yet where I'm going to wear these...
-This is such a nicer alternative to jeans and a t-shirt! Whether worn with my boots...

or my booties...

I'm feeling very trendy and youthful in this outfit!

I matched the plaid at the side seam!
Hate: (Such a strong word... how about "dislike"?)
-The squareness of the hem on the shirt is really bugging me.  With leggings, it just seems so "blocky" to me.  I was going to gather the bottom 2-3" of the side hem to give it some shape, but DH said it looked fine the way it was.  I trust his opinion, so I left it alone.
-The pattern instructions on the application of the collar were very weird.  Not that I needed them, but I always check them out. It showed a finished neck edge, but if you're applying a collar, why bother? I don't get it... but I did it my way and it was just fine.
McCall's 6173
-The leggings pattern runs so BIG (and long)! The envelope said that my measurements were a "Large", but holy moly...  Um, pattern makers?  Leggings are supposed to be tight.  No ease.  I took them in again, and again, and again.  If any of you want this pattern, I cut it on the "L" lines, and I think it would fit a RTW 14/16 just right, even if you're a "Tall" (I took 6" off the length)! If I can get a smaller size on sale this weekend, I will put this one up for grabs!

All in all, I'm very happy with the entire outfit, and am ready to make more like it!  I'd love to find a nice stretchy denim looking knit to see if I could knock-off some "jeggings". Jean-leggings? Jeggings.  I didn't make it up, it's already out there, I swear!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Beating the Bias

Butterick 5555 is one of my current projects.  I've got a few in various stages right now, it actually helps me stay productive.  I'll explain in a little while...
This tunic is super cute, and when I saw the perfect cotton plaid shirting at Gorgeous Fabrics, it all came together.  I've got leggings (McCall's 6173) in black to wear with it, and realized that I wanted to place the plaid on the bias for the bib and cuffs.  The 2 yards of 60" wide left me enough room to do it, even after matching the plaid on the side seams.  But, bias can be tricky, and I wanted to make sure that it stayed put (not stretching/warping/distortion causing me to go MAD).
The first thing I was mindful of was the U-shaped dip in the bib.  As I cut the pattern paper, I decided to not cut "into" that U, that it was be easier to maintain the shape and keep the bias true if I waited to cut that out.
Fusible interfacing was applied to the cuffs, collar band, and bib, locking the size of the pattern pieces in and keeping the bias from stretching it out of shape.
Then I cut the "U" out of the bib... and breathed a sigh of relief.  I am really excited to put this entire outfit together!
Bo is feeling tropical these days, modeling my wearable muslin of the 1950's sundress for the Vintage Sew Along.  I need to attach the yokes, and line it (the voile is on the way), but I really love how this is coming together.  You can see that the fit is perfect, and although it's not an ideal dress for Michigan in January, it will be ideal for our tropical vacation this spring! Can hardly wait...
I found the perfect red polka dot cotton for this, but really wanted to make sure the fit was right.  Lucky me, now I'll have 2 really cute dresses for spring/summer!

As for the numerous projects, having things in various stages makes it easier for me to fit sewing into my schedule.  I can cut paper patterns upstairs, sometimes cut fabric, and definitely do pinning up there.  My machines stay downstairs, along with the iron, so depending on what I feel like doing (inserting a zipper, pressing fabric, cutting a pattern), I have a project in a similar phase of construction.  As I was taking the pics tonite of the top, my mom's angel clock started chiming.  If I never told you before, this clock was a gift to my mom from my brother, but he gave it to me when she died, since my kids love watching the angels "dance".  It chimes all different songs every half-hour, the doors open, and the angels come out.  It makes me smile when it does, like having my mom in my sewing room with me.  Thought I'd share it with you, too.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

McCall's 6159

This dress is View B, in a size 7.  The pattern also includes leggings, a vest, and a blouse.
Little Miss Princess (soon to be known as "Drama Queen"), picked out the fabric a few trips to Joann's ago.  It's a nice cotton twill, and the perfect weight for this dress (especially for winter).  I'm not surprised that is roomier than the "cartoon" picture on the envelope, but that's fine since it extends the life of the garment!
Not a lot to tell, it was pretty straight-forward easy to make.  I've finally overcome my fear of collars, so it went together quickly.  As I was cutting the fabric, it occurred to me that she will prefer the sleeves always rolled up, and that there was no need to install the regular cuff closure.  So, I left it off, serged the edge,  and turned up and extra deep amount.  I folded over the cuff (to make it look rolled-up), and stitched the sleeve seam closed that way.  Faster construction and easier for her to dress herself is a win-win in my book!
The belt was purchased at Meijer for a different outfit, and the headband we made months ago is a perfect match, too.  She likes it belted (so do I), and mentioned that she will wear tights or leggings with it.  This dress will get worn lots, so I may make it again, since it was a great project!
Sassy thing, isn't she? ;)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Great Timing (?)

The February Burdastyle Magazine was in my mailbox yesterday, and it is FULL of stuff I want to make! But, alas... imagine my surprise at finding the childrens section dedicated to First Communion wear!  Pretty dresses, and a boy's suit, too!

Modell Photo

Almost makes me want to second guess my Vogue pattern choice!  But, I will stick to my guns, and remember that all of these dresses would be equally adorable in a pretty cotton print!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Communion Dress Muslin

When I'm sewing for myself or my daughter, I really prefer to do "wearable" muslins, so I dug in the stash, and found the perfect fabric for this trial run.  It's the oldest fabric in my stash, a blue cotton from the early 90s. I bought it to make myself a dress, and never got around to it.  It's got a pretty tonal intermitten stitched design, and is a great weight for spring.  (Easter in Michigan can be snowy, you never know...)
I cut the size 7, which fits her perfectly in the waist.  My fitting concerns are:
1.  The length is about 5" more than where I'd like it to be.  No big surprise, she's petite.  Always has been, always will be.  This fitting issue is easily remedied, so no worries on this one.
2.  The waist is perfect.  Not too tight, not too roomy.  This falls in the "plus/bonus/celebrate" column.
3.  The chest is a tad bit roomy. When I pin out about 1/4", it's perfect.
4.  Will she grow in the next 3 months?
5.  If this is going to be a "family heirloom", should I do a perfect fit, or leave room for the future generation?

Unpinned bodice: Too roomy? I think so.
Pinned bodice.  Will it still fit in April?
Unpinned, Side View
With 5" pinned up to the desired length.  Ignore the socks.
I spread out the train on the worktable and placed the pattern pieces on it, with the 5" removal line marked.  There is plenty of space, so I'm not too worried about having enough fabric.  But, I am having some issues thinking through the details of the lace appliques and trim.  The front of the train has plenty of space for me to cut the front and side front pieces.
Thank God I covered the pool table!
Front pieces, lots of space, no problem!
I'm really attached to the idea of placing the large center back applique on the center back of her dress, keeping the seam intact, and moving her zipper to the side (under the arm).  Pattern placement says this is do-able, but introduced a new concern.  Will there be enough room beneath it for the beaded hem lace applique?  Will it be too much?  Should I eliminate one of the trims (big center back motif or hem lace)?  Another option would be to cut everything out of solid satin, then recreate the motif at center back using a couple of the smaller lace motifs combined. 
Back pieces, large CB motif featured below right.
My last issue (complaint) is the removal of the lace trim from the hem of the train.  I'm thinking that the right way to do it is to carefully remove the stitches and pull it away from the satin.  I'm very tempted to cut the trim off the satin, very close to the edge of the motif, and save myself some sanity.  But of course, there is the quick way... and then the right way!
Wrong side of hem with stitching of trim.  Yikes!
I will continue to think on this for a few days, and start removing the trim along the hem in the mean time.

In other news... yesterday I ran into Joann's for what may be the last time ever for fabric.  I just needed 2 linings, but also ended up grabbing some ribbon and flannel (kids need pj's, what can I say?).  The cutting line was a mile long, but we waited it out.  Then headed over to the register line... and that was 2 miles long.  I spent twice as much time in there just waiting, not shopping.  It's been that way for the last few months, and I'm pretty much fed up.  There are enough decent priced, quality fabric resources online, I'd rather spend the hour in my sewing room than in the stupid line waiting! Here's the 4 pairs of finished pj pants.  I'm getting pretty darn quick with these!
Parting Shot:  Little Man had to get into the picture action, too... so, he jumped up on the hemming block and posed with his new "warrior toys".  Such a tough guy...

Sunday, January 16, 2011


I don't do much quilting, I just don't have the patience for it.  When the urge (or need) strikes, I reach for a strip piecing pattern.  It's quick, it's easy, and I like it.  No brainer sewing, sometimes you just need it.  6 of the 7 quilts I've sewn have been strip pieced.  The 8th one (later this year, for my son) will be strip pieced, too!
The fabric and pattern were purchased while we were camping in June 2009, in East Tawas.  It was all bought with this exact intention, a quilt of patriotic, Navy, and Fire Fighting fabrics for DH.  The pattern is "Strip Stacks" from G.E. Designs, which has quite a selection of strip quilts.  I whipped up the top of the quilt the weekend before Christmas, and completed the "layering" part of it today, with the batting and binding and all.  I will still add some actual "quilting", I'm just letting the ideas marinate while I decide how to best use those empty white spaces.
We've got stars, stripes, anchors, rope knots, fire trucks, maltese crosses... the only fabric the store didn't have was a motorcycle print!  This one is a lap sized quilt, for the couch at home or the recliner at the fire station.  My next quilt will be more of the fire dept. theme, too.  Little Man's room is decorated that way, and when he was a baby, his crib sheet had that motif.  I'll be cutting his crib sheet, and joining it with other fabrics to make a twin-size quilt for his big boy bed.  I did one for my daughter, using her old butterfly crib sheets, and it turned out great.  Something she'll have forever, from when she was a baby.  All together now... awwwwwww.....

In other news, the muslin of the Communion dress is done, and fits perfectly.  Just a few inches off the hem, so we're ready to dive into the real fabric.  I'll post pics of the muslin and details of my plan later this week. 

Lastly, tomorrow is my 37th birthday.  I'm lucky enough to have the day off work, so I'm looking forward to spending the day relaxing! Hope you all also have a great day!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Here, There, Everywhere

That's where I've been in my sewing room... working on stuff here, there, and everywhere!
Here: Excited that my dressform arrived so quickly, so DH and I assembled her that night! Thank goodness for YouTube, because she didn't come with any instructions, and that's where we found the video showing how to assemble her!  I took some quilt batting and wrapped her waist and hips to match my measurements, which works great and didn't cost me a dime! Grabbed an old bra (of the right size) and filled it up to match my bust measurement, so now... she's matches me perfectly! And as I lose weight, I can unwrap the batting to slim her down.  (Bonus: my kids have had hours of fun with the big empty box. Sitting in it, drawing on it, standing it up... look, it's a boat!  It's an elevator!  It's a balance beam!)

I will say that seeing yourself first-hand is a very eye-opening experience.  Once I had her figure matching mine I thought, "Whoa.  Am I really that size?" (Or, "Man! Are my boobs really that big?") I'll just say that Bo has been a big "motivator" for me on the diet and exercise front this week!

There: Got lots of loose ends tied up in the sewing space in the last few days, with the end of the embroidered sweatshirts and a sweatervest that a colleague ordered.  I wore mine to work, and she loved it, asking if I could make her one in blues and purples.  I searched high and low for a lightweight, drapey sweaterknit in those colors, and found this one at Emma One Sock.  Having never ordered from her before, I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was wonderful.  Wish I had ordered twice as much to make one for myself!

It's the Vogue "Sandra Betzina" pattern (1124), and here is my version from about the fall of 2009.
It only takes a few hours to make, is basically a big rectangle with holes for arms, and requires zero fitting.  Perfect to make for someone else and earn some "fun money" while I'm at it!

Everywhere:  I made up my "wearable muslin" for the Vintage Sew Along and learned a couple of things.
1.  Don't grab coral linen in the winter.  It makes you yearn for spring very, very badly.
2.  Winging it through a vintage pattern is very, very different from winging it through a modern pattern.

The fit is nearly good, just about an inch too big in the waist.  But, boy oh boy, it is way too long! The picture above is with the hem allowance pinned up and it's still a few inches too long.  I've decided to shelf this just for a little while, since spring is a ways off and hopefully by then, Bo and I will be a closer match (without the batting)!  Seems silly to take it in twice, especially when the pocket placement will be effected.
Next Up:  The communion dress muslin needs to be made up, as I'm sure it will be April before I know it.  I've been playing with my train, strategizing the placement of the lace motifs, and decided that I want the big one on the center back to also be placed on the center back of her dress.  There's already a seam there, so I'm thinking I'll be able to open it up and place the zipper there still.  We'll see...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Just Checking In...

I've have lots of sewing to do, so I can't waste any time! A very quick update:

1.  My dress form arrived Friday (purchased on ebay Tuesday, shipped from New Jersey) and she is AWESOME! I ordered a size 10, thinking that there is absolutely no way in my lifetime that I will ever be smaller than 36 - 27 - 37.  I am currently 39 - 31 - 43, so I'm ordering the Fabulous Fit padding kit today.

2.  She isn't named yet. Thanks for the suggestions, but I'm debating between "Veroninica" and "Bo".  Veronica, as in the "Archie" comic book character, who is the best friend of Betty, and who is described as, "tall, slender and attractive with long black hair. Veronica favors expensive, up-to-the-minute fashion" by wikipedia.  Don't ask me how it popped into my head, but it did.
She's cute, and I have long dark hair with those bangs.  Youthful forever? I'll take it.

"Bo" is because my dress form is perfect 10.  Ten.  Get it? The movie, "Ten", with Bo Derek.

But, I'm not a blond, and I don't have cornrows, and if I ever look that good in a swimsuit, I most certainly won't be a size 10!
Bo Derek is a 10
But, I do have to say, the woman is timeless.  She was 23 when the movie was shot in 1979, and here she is now, 31 years later at the age of 54.

I want to look this good at 54!  I'm turning 37 in a week, and that feels old already!  Which leads me to...

3. My muscles and bones are aching and creaking today.  With an upcoming tropical trip, I'm back on the fitness bandwagon again, and worked out extra hard yesterday.  2 lbs gone, so maybe I'll have a pic like Bo's to post in a few months! I'm looking at the "Couch to 5k" program, so we'll see...

Ok, so I'm headed downstairs to finish the sweatshirt orders, take pics of my "Vintage Sew Along" skirt, and get one other "paying job" out of the way.  Catch you later!  So much for a quick and brief post...