Monday, September 27, 2010

The Beauty That is My Sewing Machine

I realized some time ago that I was definitely not taking full advantage of my MemoryCraft machine, and actually started feeling a little guilty every time I used it to baste my muslin or sew in a zipper. Sitting in front of me was a MemoryCraft Professional Embroidery machine, and I'd never embroidered a stitch.

Yesterday, I rectified that problem. My sister's brother-in-law and his wife are expecting and due in November, so I decided to make them some booties and bibs. I made four pairs of 3seam booties yesterday (very easy) and the beginnings of four bibs - the bibs being the exciting part.

(My box o'booties)

I played around with doing multiple images on one bib in these

I'm not sure I used the right kind of stabilizer. I was planning to use a lightweight interfacing to leave in permanently since it's on a very lightweight broadcloth, but only had medium so gave that a try. There are some wrinkles, but I'm not sure if it's because I had such a hard time getting the fabric taught in the hoop, the stabilizer, or something else completely. Thoughts?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Double, Double, Toil, and Trouble

Halloween is right around the corner, so I'm starting on costumes. Last year we had a last minute scramble to come up with something fun for the Halloween dance and decided to plan this year's that night also. So while dancing around Regent Ballroom as Erik and Christine from Phantom of the Opera...

(Daniel had the mask and everything, but had to take it off so
he could navigate the traveling dances)

...we were deciding that this year we would go as Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and The Lady in Green (Cyd Charisse) from Singin' in the Rain.

Singin' in the Rain is probably my absolute all-time favorite movie, and the Broadway Melody dream sequence is one of my favorite scenes. The music is fun, the costumes are great, and the cheesy over-acting makes me smile. Daniel hates watching this movie with me because I recite every line and sing along with every song...but it just makes me happy. I can think of nothing better than to spend a fun night dancing as "them." I only hope we do their memories justice.

Daniel's costume is pretty easy - he owns khaki pants, I've finished all but the buttons on a bright yellow vest for him, I'm ready to make the pink tie, and he'll have to make due with a white shirt because I'm not making him a yellow/white striped shirt for one-time use.

My costume will be my very first draping project. I'm just using some Kona Cotton so I don't have to worry about funny stretching draping with knits, but I still don't really know what I'm doing. And, as I'm not known internationally for my fabulous gams, I'll be lending a little more coverage to the dress :) I need to buy some pretty sequined spangles to adorn the dress with (and make a matching choker), and still need a zipper....but I'm ready to start planning!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

And We're Off!!

The Lady Grey Sew Along started this week and we're currently at our muslin/fitting stage. Thankful that I could save some money by using some old drapery fabric from Mom's stash, I set out to make my muslin. As I said before, this if the first time I've ever followed this golden rule of sewing, but I'm definitely seeing the benefit already.

I finished mine Friday evening and put the pictures up on our Flickr pool to get feedback as I am 100% new to coats and tailoring. At first look, I was thrilled (remember that the collar and lapel have the seam allowances showing, so they'll be smaller by 5/8" all around). I was also a little thrown by the incredibly uncomfortable sleeves. That is, until I realized that there was a left sleeve and a right sleeve (would have been helpful for them to mention that), and I definitely had them in backwards, which is why they look so crumply.

Then I turned around...

I knew the fit was close, but couldn't quite figure out what was going wrong across the back. So, I waited and checked for feedback every hour or so until I saw the suggestions that the coat was a little long in the waist, which makes perfect sense as I am child-sized :) I brought it up about 1/2" all the way around to test the theory and was delighted with the result. As I had additional suggestions to try some light shoulder pads to help with the extra space across the shoulders but still allow free movement, I tacked in some 1/4" shoulder pads. I also took the time to switch the sleeves and was pleased to find that that was precisely the problem. Once I had those turned up to the planned 3/4 length, they didn't even look so overpowering on my little arms, either.

(Those are excited little fists because all the changes worked, FYI)

I am so glad I decided to do the sew along now that I'm into it, and I definitely think it was a worth-while splurge. The feedback from more experienced sewists has been invaluable (and we all know I would never have done the muslin otherwise), and it's so fun to see what fabrics, etc everyone else is working with! AND, it doesn't hurt that through this I've connected with another little sewist in IL who is also 4'11 :) Maybe I'm not so strange afterall...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bundle Up!

I love it! It's cooling down, the leaves are changing, the sun feels nice and warm rather than like a high intensity heat gun. I don't know if you can feel it, but I sure can and I'm loving it! Of course, this means the next step is BRRR, which I could probably skip. And, as we all know, with BRRR comes blankets!

A friend approached me last week about making a blanket for her mom's birthday present. Of course, I was flattered and agreed immediately (I actually agreed to making something before she told me what it was...bad plan, I know). I've spent the last week learning how to do free-motion quilting, or stippling, and practicing a LOT. My practice blanket is a baby blanket for someone in the family. I only did enough to practice the stippling before I put that on hold and attacked the one for my friend since it has a deadline.

I pinned the backing to the rug instead of taping it to my floor...

I pinned out the layers every 2-3 inches starting in the center...

Then hand-basted some lines and started quilting! I did one column before moving on to my friend's (as you can see, I had a LOT of help)...

And if you look at the square directly above her, you can see some of my quilting...

That blanket is just light-ish cotton. The one for my friend is flannel, making it a little trickier. I am almost finished. I need to tied off the thread ends, possibly add a little stitching, and add the binding. What do you think?? Not too shabby for my first try?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Meet Ann

Yes, she's finally finished (well, except for the stand). After many grueling hours of labor, we can welcome Ann to the world. Since I replaced my middle name with my maiden name when I got married, I decided to name her Ann to remind myself of where I was when I started sewing. I know, I'm so sappy.

I spent yesterday afternoon covering her in some fleshy stretch nylon - not fun - and pinning it down where it doesn't quite follow the curves. Daniel is planning to build a base for her so we can attach her to one of our lighter tripods we have around the house. Then she'll be adjustable!!

Can't wait to start using her!!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Fully aware that complaints have been flying around about all my pictures being of my projects on hangars, I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather this weekend and rectify the problem!

I grabbed Daniel and we spent Saturday afternoon in a park doing a little photoshoot...and I got to re-educate myself on the skirt-under-dress-etc changing technique as I changed either standing outside of my car of in the backseat :) Enjoy!

Simplicity 2501 and my upcycled skirt

Brocade Skirt (and Ann Taylor LOFT shirt)

(I was annoyed with the wind...stupid Midwest)
(Note: that gorgeous necklace was handmade by Andromeda's Charms)

Butterick 5354 and Denim Skirt

Needless to say, we had a great time! Hope you enjoy the shots!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010


As you may recall from my black linen pants, button holes were somewhat problematic for me. Luckily Daniel (isn't he wonderful?) stumbled upon a bizarre presser foot, asked me what it was, and we discovered together that I had an automatic button hole foot. All I had to do was figure out how to use it... Turns out, all you need is a project and you can figure out anything (because you have to!). I found some great white swiss dot fabric in the stash I rescued from my mom and decided to make a great button down shirt and I had a pattern that I'd been itching to use (Simplicity 2501) since it comes with patterns for cup sizes A-D. I greatly appreciate someone else doing the adjusting!! I wasted no time diving into that project and made myself view B. Everything went very smoothly and I love my finished product! My only complaint would be the fact that you can see the facing so much through the shirt since it's so thin. Not sure how I should have done it instead? Regardless, I'm very happy with it and already wore it when I worked out of our corporate office in Chicago a couple weeks ago!

Pretty, pretty button holes!!

I also decided to thank Daniel for all of his support by actually making him something. I know, I'm as sweet as they come. I decided a shirt sounded far less daunting than pants, so I started with Simplicity 4760 view B for him. I've never thought of Daniel as anything but big. He's 6', average build, size 13 shoe. Obviously he's not a giant, but I'm 4'11", average build, size 6.5 shoe. When I can put someone else's shoes on over my shoes, they are huge in my head. Needless to say, I found it counter intuitive to be using the second smallest size pattern (he's a medium) for him, especially since my size 12/14 is frequently the biggest of the sizes grouped together.

Here's the nearly finished product. All I need to do is finish off the thread ends and tack down the facing at the shoulder seams and he's one shirt richer! Granted, it may be the only shirt he ever gets since he wasted no time dropping the "it looks a little country-western with those pointy things on the shoulders" even though he helped pick out the pattern...maybe he'll make it up to me by going to Hancocks with me this weekend :)

Again with the lovely button holes!!
The fabric looks a little grey here, but it is the dark green from the first picture.

Perhaps I can also guilt him into a photoshoot this weekend...

Lady Grey Sew Along

I am getting more and more antsy every time I think about starting the sew along, and even have a little countdown going in my head. It's almost here! I'm pretty sure I have everything I'll be needing for the project, with the exception of the button and I might have to buy more interfacing. Want to see my fabric choices?

For my outer I chose a medium brown stretch moleskin (loved the machine wash/machine dry aspect!). I ordered some stretch moleskin in bone to make a cover for our futon and loved the feel of it so much that I decided that's what I wanted to use. From there, I just had to choose the shade.

I really wanted to have a fun lining and had two on that I couldn't choose between. One was just so much fun that I ordered it even though I wasn't convinced it would match the outer, and the other was the pictured navy/floral satin charmeuse. I definitely like both, but this one was a little more tame than I was hoping for; ultimately it was decided that matching was the most important :)

This definitely won't end up a statement coat, but I thought it wise to play it safe on my first try...and I'm not quite sure I'm ready for one just yet anyway.

We start the muslin next week and I'm a little embarrassed to say this will be my first time making one. I always run head first into the project (which is probably why I have some adorable disappointments in my pile), but I am committed to following the rules 100% with this project!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sewing Double Update

I know it's been quite some time since we started this process, but we've only made a little headway. We let the form dry to be sure it was really cured before we started filling it with expanding spray insulation (smart, right? We have our moments).

This weekend we taped the two halves together and got to work. I read somewhere to spray the inside with cooking spray or coat it with vaseline so the foam doesn't stick to it. We tried cooking spray and vegetable oil (unfortunately, no vaseline on hand), but they just soaked into the plaster. We considered Crisco, but I can't for the life of me remember why that was vetoed. We moved on figuring we'd come up with something :)

We set the form upside down in a 5 gallon bucket, propped up along the sides with boards and started filling. We did all of one can first, but it didn't expand as much as we expected. Then we decided to do layers, let them dry and expand some, then add another so we weren't weighing anything down as they expanded. It worked.

After 3 cans of the regular Great Stuff and 2 of the window kind, the foam is set and we're just contemplating the removal. Our plan is to just wet down the plaster and wash it off.

From the outside it seems to have held fairly well, aside from the spreading at the "seams" right around the bustline. I'll just measure and shave off whatever is extra.

My plan now is to buy some ribbed knit or tricot (something stretchy at least) in a flesh tone to cover it with. No clashing purple for my dressform :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Happy National Sewing Month!!

September is National Sewing Month, started by the American Home Sewing & Craft Association and President Regan in 1982, and continued today by the joint efforts of the American Sewing Guild and the Sewing & Craft Alliance, helps to remind all home sewists of the joys of sewing while spreading the word to the rest.

Each year they host a contest, and this year is no different...except that I plan to enter for the fun of it. This year is the 2010 National Sewing Month "Accessorize Your Life" Contest - can you guess what I'm entering?

If you spend some time browsing the site, there are some projects to participate in. Whatever you do, take some time out of your schedule to sew something and share sewing with someone new.

Happy sewing!