Wednesday, May 2, 2018

It's shorts weather!

I'm thrilled to have my Pfaff 1475 CD once again! In celebration, I made a quick pair of shorts last week, using my TNT Burda pattern, modified, and a piece of deep stash cotton twill.

Nothing new, same old processes, same old fit. They are a winner and will be worn a lot over the next several months I think.  They also go quite well with the last two tees I've made.

This trio should help update my spring and summer wardrobe nicely.

Next up I'm starting a muslin for the Butterick jacket for the wedding. I'm getting a piece of what JoAnn Fabrics terms "utility fabric." It's a cotton duck, and I'll use natural. I'm not doing a lining for the muslin, but expect once completed, it can be used for a topper throughout the spring and summer and well into the fall.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

A little clarification & a quick and easy "wrap skirt."

Pictures of neck band process. Sorry I don't have one while I'm stitching the binding to the neck band as that takes two hands.

First step. Fusible bias on neck edge to stabilize.
Fusible bias along the cut neck edge of garment

Second step. Sew binding to neck edge, right sides together, slightly pulling the binding only until it just starts to cup towards you, being careful to keep edge even. This may take some practice. Don't stretch the neck edge or you'll wind up with an awful looking garment. If the fabric is 100% cotton knit, you may be able to steam it back in place, but it's generally not pretty. 
Third step. Press seam allowances up with the binding above the neck edge.

Fourth step. Take upper cut edge of binding, and fold it to meet the stitched upper edge of the neck edge with the fusible bias. Press as you go around.

Left side is the fused neck edge. Right side is the folded over bias neck binding

Fifth step. Carefully bring the folded edge of the neck binding over the neck edge of the garment, with the top edge of the bias and sewn neck edge reinforcing the top of your finished neck edge. It's kind of like having interfacing inside a piece, but with it being bias, it gives a bit of stretch. When you're doing this, use a seam gauge to be sure the outside of the binding is even, giving a professional looking neck edge.

Outside of tee with bias binding pinned in place prior to stitching in the ditch
Inside of bias binding with folded edge pinned prior to stitching in the ditch

Carefully stitch in the ditch. Press. This will give you a very professional high end neck binding with no raw edges showing. 

As I said a few posts back, I have a wedding to attend in mid June and I'm trying to figure out an outfit for grandmother of the bride. It's going to be outdoors and at least mostly casual. I have been thinking I'd make the Bootstraps #45699, which is a combination of a sleeveless shirt dress and a wrap dress. I love the look of it, but since I've never worn a wrap dress wasn't quite positive how it would work. To that end, I started with a "muslin" of the skirt portion thinking I could wear it as a swimsuit cover-up. 

I traced off the skirt pattern, added my waistband from my Burda shorts pattern, and used a "remnant" I found in the quilt shop. It's two yards, but the fabric is very wide. I think it was 106" wide! I like the skirt, although I am reminded that I don't like skirts much because of my large inner thighs that rub together. Here's a quick picture, then back to the grindstone.

I am also going to audition a sheath dress, and have the tutorial on fitting from Threads magazine January of 2014, Issue 170. I want to see which one will look the best. I also have two jacket patterns to audition. The sheath dress and one of the jackets are from Butterick #5719. I think this looks quite nice and may fit the bill. 

The jacket I'm thinking about to go with the Bootstraps pattern is one I saw in a winter white wool on someone's Artisan's Square Sewing Guild SWAP page. Don't remember whose, but it was lovely. It's Simplicity #2229, View C, only without the ties at the waist. I'll have to check the neck edge versus my dress neck edge and see if I can get them to work nicely together. 

So excited today! I just got my "new" sewing machine. For almost 20 years, I'd used a Pfaff 1475 CD, which was an amazing machine. I got talked into buying a new one, but got a middle of the line, instead of top of the line machine due to cost. I've rued the day I did that, and finally when the middle machine touch screen went out and I found out it would cost $300 plus to fix and had to be shipped to Ohio for repairs, taking a couple of weeks at least, I decided to look for another machine. 

On a retirement income, top of the line Pfaff machines are prohibitive in price, BUT I found a completely reconditioned and guaranteed 1475 CD on E-Bay for what I consider a reasonable price. It arrived yesterday evening and I'm excited to get back in and start sewing again. 

I have my next garment cut out and ready to go. It's a pair of grey cotton twill shorts using my now TNT Burda pattern. Can't wait to get them in rotation with my new tees. 

More later!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Another item for the gray grouping

My second tee for the gray grouping is also a stripe, and this time I put it together differently to add a bit of interest and flattery for a bodacious figure.

I decided to do this one with the stripes running diagonally from shoulder to opposite hem. I really like the way this one worked out.
I am finding that the prospect of teaching someone else to sew has me thinking about process and procedures much more than typically and I'm harking back to my sewing classes, teachers, "couture" sewing quests and remembering some of the ways to do things more professionally.
Again, I started with Pamela's Perfect Tee, which has been modified so many times for my body "of the moment." I love this tee as it is flattering to most women and the darts help so you don't have those folds and pleats running around on your body.
The Fabric was purchased from Marcy Tilton in mid January of 2013, so it's aged a bit in the stash. It's a rayon/lycra knit and is so soft and beautiful it almost feels like silk.
The sewing was pretty straight forward, but I adapted my neck binding technique slightly. I use the instructions from an old Stretch and Sew pattern, 326 "City Tees."
After stitching the binding to the neck edge, the instructions have you take the binding and turn it to the inside, stitch in the ditch, and then cut close to the stitching, leaving a raw edge along the stitching line.
I don't really like having that raw edge on the interior, and in my opinion, the tees don't stand up as well as they do when the raw edge is turned in and stitched inside the binding.
As you can see below, I have been having "machine issues" and in lieu of trying to stay stitch a light weight knit, I pulled out some Japanese bias cut fusible tape that I've had about forever. I fused it to the neck edge, front and back before doing anything else so my neck wouldn't stretch out of shape.
I have modified the instructions by cutting the neck edge on the bias about 1/4" wider than the instructions. I stitch the binding to the neck edge, stretching only the binding slightly until it starts to cup slightly. Once stitched, it is pressed flat, and then pressed up away from the neck edge. Then I press the raw edge of the binding even with the top of the seam allowances.
Once that is done, I fold the pressed edge to the inside to cover and slightly exceed the seam allowances, measuring the outside to be sure my binding is presenting an even neck edge. Then it it pinned in place, with my pins along the stitching line where I will stitch in the ditch.

Interior Pinned
Outside pinned

Then a stitch in the ditch, trying hard to stay in the "ditch" and you've got a great looking neckband on both the interior and the exterior.

Even though it's not official, we have reached summer around here. Temps today were in the high 90's and close to 100 degrees F. We will cool down to the high 80's over the next few days, but that still is warm! My next garment will be a pair of grey twill shorts to go with these two grey stripped tees. Fabric is out and ready to be pressed, cut and sewn.

As always, more later!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

A new collection started in grey

I'm teaching a friend to sew. She had asked if I would help her to make a few tees. No problem, right?

Imagine my surprise to find a late 50 something woman who has never made a single garment, not even the ubiquitous pillow case or apron! Instead of the hour or so I thought this would take, we're now doing "lessons." As well all know, something in a woven cotton is the best way to learn to sew.

But she still wants tees and I had helped her draft her own version of Pamela's Perfect Tee as I find it the best tee I've ever made, bar none. So I wrote out some basic instructions, (still not knowing she'd never sewn anything before) and left her with the pattern, instructions, and three pieces of fabric she purchased at Hobby Lobby. I have to say the light bulb should have gone off when she didn't know the difference between woven fabrics and knits, but I knew she'd taken a basic quilt class, so just figured she hadn't run into it before.

She had the first tee sewn together, but couldn't figure out how to do the neck or hems. That's when I got my first inkling and asked the questions. Shock and awe were my reactions. She did pretty good putting the tee together all on her own, but since she was using an old machine that was pretty messed up, I told her to take it in for servicing, and I'd finish the tee. Instead of servicing, she traded it in on another machine.

As I was finding out all of the above, I realized I needed to have her come to my house for "lessons" as I have, ahem, all of the supplies we'd both need. I did have her get some jersey needles, good quality thread, a seam gauge and some ball point pins. The rest we'll do here. BUT, she wanted to have me make a tee concurrently with her making hers so she could watch anything and everything I do. She's definitely a visual learner as she's had dyslexia quite badly her whole life and has a very difficult time reading instructions.

I agreed to make a tee with her, and we were going to get together last Sunday for our lessons. Something came up and she couldn't make it, but since I'd already cut mine out, I went ahead and put it together this week. I really like it a lot.

I love stripes, but as a voluptuous woman, horizontal stripes don't really flatter me much. As I thought about what I wanted to do, I realized I could take my Pamela's Perfect Tee as a base and combine it with my Bootstraps #42721, turn the center piece to vertical and have some nice interesting lines that would also flatter. Since the fabric is tissue thin, I also used some Japanese fusible bias along the neck edge to keep it from curling, and then cut my neck binding on the bias to alleviate the curling on it. I really like the looks of this one! 

The fabric is a fairly recent, for me, purchase coming from Mood in February of 2016. It's a heathered cotton jersey, and as I said above, light weight, which will be perfect for Southern New Mexico summers along with a pair of linen shorts. 

Now my friend will be here tomorrow, so I'm working on cutting out another striped fabric for a tee to make with her. This one is grey and white striped, a bit narrower than the stripes on this one. I'm thinking a diagonal stripe from one neck edge to the opposite hem might be very interesting. Here's a photo of the fabric, and I'll update as I get it put together.

Wishing you happy sewing this Spring!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Some utility sewing for me

Since I have a new swimsuit, I thought a new cover up was in order. I used the same pattern I did a year ago, which was my tank top with an added A-Line skirt that starts about waist level. It's an easy pull on dress with purchased double fold bias tape at the neck and armholes.

Very simple, very easy, and I used a fairly recent purchase of French terry from Stylish Fabrics (purchased in mid February) for this purpose. Their prices are very reasonable and if you can find what you want in the sale category, it's even better.

I'm trying to decide if next up is my dress muslin for my granddaughter's wedding, a one piece swimsuit, more cover ups, some tee shirts, shorts, or something else. So many thoughts, so few garments! LOL

Here's the new cover up.

I'll be back, hopefully soon with more new garments to share!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Just a quick one here

I have passed my one year anniversary of doing Aqua Aerobics and the number of times a week increased from two to three several months ago. Now I'm increasing again, and hope to do four to five days a week. I think it keeps me on my feet, and before too long, in lieu of knee replacement, I'm going to be having stem cell therapy to my both my knees, which should make a huge difference in my life.

In the meantime, I've pretty much worn out a couple of swimsuits and have been working for a bit to try to get the patterns just right so they work well for me. I'd like to have at least five swimsuits that I can mix up so they don't wear out so quickly! This one is very close, but not quite perfect yet.

I used the same Butterick pattern, #5795, and have modified it to be "my" pattern in my size. Since it's almost impossible to buy good bra cups for a larger size...the ones at Jo Ann Fabrics are not much more than about 1/8" thick and do nothing, I purchased some foam from Sew Sassy Fabrics, and used my bra pattern to get a well fitting under layer. Getting it pinned into the right place took a little work, and I finally figured out that putting the swimsuit top onto the dress form with the interior of the lining face out would enable me to get the placement right. I have a few more minimal tweaks to make, mostly to my process, and it will be perfect. Without further ado, here is the completed swimsuit worn yesterday for class.

I have several items whirling around in my brain. I need to make another swimsuit cover up, more swimsuits, more shorts as the weather is heating up, and a granddaughter is getting married the middle of June. To that end, I've got a Bootstrap pattern that I'll be making a muslin out of quite soon, as I want it to fit really well. I'm torn about the fabrics though as she's chosen Emerald Green and Burgundy as her "colors." Odd for a summer wedding, but this girl is anything but typical! LOL I am thinking about buying some raw silk from Dharma trading and dying it myself. We'll see if that happens. 

Well, that's all for now. Happy sewing!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Finally completed!

Seems like it's been way too long, but I have finally finished my third and fourth teal pieces.

I feel like Ruthie is making about a dozen to each pair of my makes. Ah, well. It's life in the slow lane at this stage of my life I guess. :-)

I made another Pamela's Perfect Tee in a dark teal cotton interlock with a matching cardigan. The cardigan is a mash up of an older version of Petite Plus Cardigan, looks like it's now OOP, and a Sure Fit Designs pattern, along with multiple alterations.

Although I've used it before, since I have completed this one, I'm making several more adjustments to get it to fit the way I want it to.

Odd picture of the tee. The darts don't stick out any farther than I do! I think the picture was taken before it was washed and pressed correctly. Interesting enough, they are both the same fabrics, so you can really see the difference the light makes in the photographs. Neither is perfect, but the picture of the cardigan is much closer to the actual color.

I am thinking the tee may be taken in just a bit at the side seams as it's roomier than I'd like at this stage. The cardigan has multiple alterations that need to be done, and I've already adjusted the pattern for the next one. I have a piece of light blue cotton interlock that will be my wearable muslin for the corrected pattern. 

I've widened the shoulders; added a bust dart; added about 5/8" to the front shoulder area; added sleeve cap height, and walked all the seams to be sure I have it about right now. Hopefully, it will be a much better fit. 

I'm a year into my Aqua Aerobics class now, and I know it's made a huge difference in my body and the way I feel. Things are moving around, tightening up, and I'm getting ready to move from three times a week to four. 

Doctors have been telling me for multiple years now, perhaps more than a decade, that I need to have knee replacement surgery. I've resisted for multiple reasons, not the least of which is the recovery time. And a strange and very compelling and overwhelming fear that I will die on the operating table if I decide on the surgery. 

A friend has a doctor in El Paso that is working in regenerative surgery, and is certified and a Fellow in stem cell replacement therapy. Bill had stage 4 cancer in his throat, and after surgery and his first bouts of chemo, they told him to get his affairs in order that he had about 6 months left. He decided the side effects of the chemo were not worth it, and looked for alternative therapies. That was last May and his Oncologist is in shock that he is now cancer free! His last appointment, he and the doctor got to talking about my knees and stem cell therapy. 

After hearing Bill talk about the wonderful results they have had with the stem cell therapy, and how much he likes his doctor, I made an appointment. Long story short, I'm having stem cell therapy on May 21. Between now and then, I want to get my body in as good of shape as possible to help with the healing process. 

I am on multiple supplements suggested by the doctor after extensive blood tests, and have a new eating plan he wants me to follow for the interim. I found out some of my current issues are genetic and he has given me some answers and hopefully things that will combat my issues. I haven't quite figured out yet how it all relates to my Weight Watchers program, but I think in many ways it is close, although there is an addition of legumes and nuts and seeds every day that I haven't been doing on Weight Watchers, and considerably less whole grains. I guess they balance each other out somehow. 

And, great news. I have a granddaughter getting married on June 16, so I'm going to be doing a dress for the wedding. I need to start the muslin about the middle of May so I have plenty of time to get that done before the wedding. I'll be using a custom Bootstraps pattern, so it should go quite smoothly. Here's a picture of the dress, and I am hoping it will be perfect for Denver in June. 

Here's what I've found about the typical weather in Denver in mid June:

"In most years, Denver averages a daily maximum temperature for June that's between 77 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (25 to 30 degrees Celsius). The minimum temperature usually falls between 51 and 55 °F (10 to 13 °C). The days at Denver warm most rapidly during June." 

I expect I will need to make a light weight jacket or duster to go along with the dress, but like Scarlett, I'll think about that tomorrow! LOL 

Seems to me that 2018 is going to be a fantastic year and will get me out of the doldrums and into full sailing ahead. Excitement is rampant around our house! 

That's all for now. More later as all the beautiful garments in my head start to make it onto my cutting table!