Sewing, Knitting, Dogs

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sew, You Want to Retreat

My view for 4 days at camp
Many of you followed my 'graming of sewing retreat or sewing camp.  A few of you expressed an interest in having a sew camp in your area.  I think there are many, many ways to do this.

learning the secret of matching the seam over the invisible zipper
If this is something you truly are interested in doing - I would encourage you to reach out to your local chapter of the ASG (American Sewing Guild).  In most locations you can 'sample' up to 2 meetings before joining.  do it!  Find out what the groups are interested in - see if you can check out their local website.  I hear lots of people saying "but they are all quilters in my location" or there really isn't anyone who sews.  check anyway - you might be surprised.

pair o' matching aprons
If most of the Neighborhood groups are truly composed of quilters - start your own neighborhood group.  Find a location - my NG meets at a local senior center for free.  Other NGs in my area meet at fabric stores, libraries and members homes.  There are no rules - do whatever you are comfortable with and then make yourself visible.

4 days of finished sewing
Once you've established a group of sewing friends - then you can find a location for a retreat.  Retreat can mean many different things - I see a bunch of Spoolettes who get together regularly and sew together.  If you can find a free location for a day of sewing - yea you!  Libraries are great for this.  

Can someone unpack me?
You'll always forget something!
After you get it all together - there are some things to think about when sewing socially.  Sometimes having a nice space to cut out is where you want to put your energy, sometimes you want to help and get help and sometimes you just want to be productive.  Figure out the best way to corral your supplies and have your projects organized.  For me - I learned that cutting garments prior to retreat, putting everything I need in a ziplock bag with the pattern makes being productive so much easier.  Grab a bag, sew it up, rinse and repeat.  Also - having portable storage for all the things you need regularly when sewing is helpful.  I have a caddy that holds marking pens, chalk, scissors, buttonhole cutter, button spacer, etc.  I just have to grab the caddy and I should have everything I need.  But I always forget something - last time it was my seam ripper!

That should get you started.  Let me know if you need any virtual help in setting up a sewing group and then organizing retreats!  Happy sewing.  

Monday, March 30, 2015

Which Came First?

The dress or the cardigan?  In reality - it was the cardigan.  Remember that shawl I knit for our United Way raffle?  I bought 2 different colors, not sure which one I would use for the shawl.  I loved this 'elephant' colorway.  The pattern is Seasons of Love which I found on Ravelry.

This sweater was a fairly quick and easy knit.  I spent an entire weekend reading a book on my iPad while knitting.  I used about 1.75 hanks of yarn and knit on US 6s and 8s.  I started the sweater on January 4th and after knitting for about 2 weeks, I decided I didn't like fabric I was creating and I ripped it out and restarted on January 17th.  I finished on February 9th.

When Carolyn was visiting - she went stash diving for a fabric to make a dress to go with the cardigan.  She wanted a grey for a tonal look - but I didn't have one. I did have this pink wool double knit.  After fighting with the lace skirt - it was time for a win - so I pulled out a dress that I had good luck, cut it out and quickly sewed it up.

I coverstitched all the bodice seams and let it hang.  The next day - I hemmed it up.

This wool is a bit scratchy and I am not a big fan.  I really need to make a full slip at some point sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Expo Wrap

 While I haven't shown you a great photo of my expo spoils or really done a blow by blow recap - I have already sewn up a piece of fabric bought at Expo - 2015.  

While standing and having fabric cut at the vogue Fabrics booth and Carolyn was visiting with Shams - I spotted this fabric that I hadn't seen before on the other side of the cutting table.  It was screaming at me - screaming - wrap dress!!  

So - I went over and grabbed the roll.  I don't remember exactly how much is was, but I think it was a special at $3 a yard and I bought 4 yards.  I still have enough left over to make a magic pencil skirt - I just have to decide if I want to make it for one of my girls, or myself.  

Since I have 7 versions of my TNT wrap dress pattern - and I seem to have a collection of wrap dress patterns - I decided it was time to try a different one.  This time I went with New Look 6301.  This is a mock wrap with a full or straight skirt option and sleeve variations.  



I did my usual - trace the bodice patterns.  I traced a straight 16 in the bodice, made no changed to the front or sleeves, but I did do my usual and took 2" of length out of the center back.  Looking at photos of the back - it still looks like there is some extra length back there.  

For the skirt - I used the same pattern piece for the front and back - I saw no reason for there to be a seam in the center back of the skirt.  I added 4" of length to the skirt at a random spot below the hip and another 2" at the bottom.

The fabric is a very spongy knit - which felt like it had a cotton content.  It was lovely to cut, press and sew.   I really liked the muted pattern on the reverse side of the fabric.  So, after consulting friends, I used the wrong side to bind the neckline and for the ties.  I also added a pieced section to the ties - I had everything cut out when Niema told me she'd made this dress and the ties were short.  

Construction was mostly done on my sewing machine, with the seams finished on the serger and then pressed open.  Although it doesn't look like it in the photos - the hem hangs even and I turned it up and pressed a 1.25" hem.  On the sleeves - I pressed the hem to the right side, stitched up and then trimmed the fabric away close to the stitching line. I did this on the sleeve hems - so the contrast was in 3 placed - neckline, sleeve hems and waist ties.  

This dress was quick to make and was easy to wear.  I paired it with black nylons and my red patent pumps.  These poor shoes are soo old - but they don't get worn very often.  Generally only with a black and white print dress - for some reason - that combo just demands red shoes!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Color Blocked Vogue

 My favorite form of social media is InstaGram.  I follow loads of people - mostly people who sew, a few dogs and both of my kids, the new "boy".  I find IG to be a fantastic way to be inspired, get instant feedback or just share something pretty.  My 'real' life is too busy for twitter and I just don't care for facebook - so, IG it is.

Way back in October - Neemie posted a photo of a beautiful dress she made inspired by a dress Carolyn had pinned.

My dress was inspired by Neemie's pin!  I literally ran out and bought the pattern and then started rooting around in my stash for fabric.  My stash does not contain a lot of solids - but that section is growing.  I've had this conversation with many people - and for me - dressed head to toe in solids I feel like a barn - like there is just so much of one color coming at you.  I know many of you disagree - that one color head to toe is slimming - but I don't feel it.  So I tend to shy away from it.

This dress started wit the print and then I added the solids - both of which came from the stash - actually nothing new was bought for this dress with the exception of the pattern - Vogue 8944 and I've now made it twice with 1 or 2 more versions playing in my head.

This dress was done - but for the hem when Carolyn arrived.  She hated the coverstitching I had added - so I picked it out on that first day.  The white and the red are both doubled as they were a bit sheer.  The sleeves are a single layer of fabric as is the skirt.  I've added pockets to this dress.  Who am I?  I used to hate pockets!!

The dress was quickly finished on Sunday morning and then we went out into the yard to take photos.  Carolyn really is an amazing coach - while I'm still amazing self-conscious - it was quick and easy to get through these photos - and it took no more time to take all of these than the 4 quick crappy photos I generally get from hubby.  All of the photos of this dress where taken by Carolyn. The real test will come when we try to get photos of the new dresses.
In Homage to Mary 


I really do like this pattern - it's quick to make and works in various fabrics.  The green scuba knit version is a bit 'stiffer' and the skirt is fuller.  This one is flirty.  I do wish the back was cut up - and I will do that in a future version - because there will be more.

Alterations between this version and the first?  I pivoted the center front of the top front piece about 1/4" off the fold line at the seam line.  I hope that make sense - I should have taken photos.  Basically, I overlapped the 2 bodice pieces at the seamlines, then marked 5/8" from the top on the upper bodice piece and then drew in a 'place on fold line' starting at 1/4" at the 5/8" mark and tapering to nothing at the waist seam.  I realize that changes the grain slightly - but I don't care - it took care of the gaping at center front that I was getting without having to adjust anything else.

Getting these 2 dresses finished with Carolyn's help, going to expo with 4 other fabulous ladies, running into others and making new friends, along with these great photos and the tips have really sparked my urge to sew.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Scary Blue Lace - Simplicity 1717

I'm gonna say it again - Posture!!
 While Carolyn was visiting the one thing she wanted to do was hang out in the sewing room and mentor my sewing skills.  I've been sewing for years - but I'm often not very confident in what I am capable of.  Based on that - I tend to make lots of simple cotton skirts and dresses and loads of knit dresses.

This lace was bought back in March 2010 - so it's been precious for 5 years.  That's long enough, right?  The first thing we did after picking the fabric from the closet - was to start digging through the patterns.  Simplicity 1717 is one of their Amazing Fit line of patterns.  I spent some time with this myself back in the 2013 and made a couple of skirts.

Step One:  Because I'd already made this skirt - I pulled an old version of it out and put it on.  It was a big snug.  It was decided that I needed to add some room - but only in the front.  It's not uncommon for your front or back half (think splitting side to side) to be bigger than the other.

Changes were made to the pattern and I cut, serged and sewed the lining together before ever cutting into the lace.  Then Carolyn pinned it to me and we took some pictures.  it fit well -- no changes.

Next up - cutting that beautiful, expensive lace.  An inch was added to the length.  I'm hoping to just trim around the lace at the hem, letting the hem match the shape of the lace.

concentrate - don't forget to breathe
Once I was getting ready to sew the lace, that's when the convo about workroom vs. pretty sewing space came up - See - I didn't have any organza in my sewing room - well, I have some pink left over from my MOB dress, but how often are you going to use pink organza, really?  We also had to shorten a zipper because I only had long invisible zippers.  While I was stalling starting the sewing - I was playing with the cut fabric and notice the selvage - Carolyn trimmed it off while I sewed darts.  The selvage was used to stabilize the seams between the skirt and the yoke as well as the zipper and center back seam below the zipper.  Organza was used to stabilize the side seams.

I put a new universal 80 needle in and shortened the stitch length to 1.5.  I sewed slowly and had the strip of selvage under the two pieces I was seaming together.  There is lots of light at the needle on my sewing machine!

Once each piece was seamed together, I pressed it open, over the seam roll, using an organza pressing cloth to protect the lace.  Then I used the clapped to set that seam.  Repeat from the right side with a lighter hand.  Next up - silk thread and catch stitching the seam allowance to the lace.  Slowly and carefully - I've been working on the project.  Taking my time and doing my best at each stage of the game.

If you follow me on InstaGram - well you know the temporary outcome of this story.  The skirt is too big!  I have walked away for now - but I will not give up!


I'll let you know soon - what happened.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Things that Carolyn Taught Me

This past weekend I had the most fantastic visitor.  For those that don't know - I know Carolyn - Diary of a Sewing Fanatic - and I have for years. We originally connected on a now defunct sewing board and the first time I went to New York (2008) - we met up, hit it off and have been fast friends ever since.  Every single time I go visit my daughter - I get together with Carolyn.

Last weekend - Carolyn had the opportunity to come to Seattle and attend the Sewing and Stitchery Expo in Puyallup.  I offered to take a day off work (oh the hardship) and offered up my spare bedroom.  I picked her up on Friday and drove straight through the city to my house.  I could have stopped at Nancy's Sewing Basket or Stitches or District Fabrics as I drove though the city, but I opted not to.  Saturday we went to Expo and Sunday we sewed!  (I have posts planned to tell about Expo and the sewing space re-do so it works for 2.)


One of the things on Carolyn's do to list was to help both me and JB with taking blog photos.  I'm sure that after last weekend - my photos will continue to improve.  Basically - the main take away - if it's uncomfortable, you're doing it right.  I have a mantra running through my head now, stand up straight, shoulders back, suck in my gut, move a little bit, smile, laugh, talk, look down, look up - don't be stiff, frowny or in a hurry.  You won't us up all the digital!

So this dress is a repeat.  You've seen it before - it's Vogue 8944 and it's made from a very spongy green scuba knit that was bought in New York at Metro Textiles after The Princess' wedding.  It was the second piece of fabric bought during that trip that's been sewn up already.



The dress had been worn, but it had a horribly gaping neckline.  I put it on to show Carolyn why it was downstairs and she took the back armholes in.  I took that in and then I put elastic in the neckline using the tip from Debbie.





I had an amazing time with Carolyn.  I can still see fault with myself in all these photos - but I had a great time taking them and they are much, much better than what I usually get.  Fashion model I am not - but now I'll hear Carolyn in my head and do better and hopefully with a few more outfits I'll start to feel more comfortable.  Thanks friend!  

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Sewing Space Redo

Close to the end of February, Carolyn sent me a text asking if I was going to Expo and if she could tag along.  Seriously!  Who would say no to Carolyn?  I had made plans to head down to Expo with Niema, Bird & Bicycle, and Melizza.  Good thing I drive a jeep!  Even if I had to rent a minivan  there was no way I was telling Carolyn no.  Since I had just finished the fabric re-org, the push was on to get the sewing furniture rearranged before Carolyn got here.  

View from the hallway - as you enter the sewing space.
2 weekends ago - JB and I found that darling little dark brown desk that the coverstitch machine is on at a garage sale and paid $30 for it.  I have serger threads in the left side drawers and the right side drawers are currently empty.  As are the plastic drawers to the right of the desk.  We picked the desk up on Saturday and moved loads of furniture the next day.  

standing at the yarn cupboard, looking out.  
The space is so much more open now.  It's easier to get to the notions.  Although it still needs work - I need to work on pattern organization.  I need to aware of loading up the shelves under the cutting table again and piling stuff (patterns, fabric, etc) on top of the cutting table. 

Looking into the space from the sliding glass door.
I'm not sure why I ever moved the cutting table from under the light.  After using the new space on Sunday with Carolyn hanging out and giving guidance and gentle prodding - I've learned a couple of things - I need a lamp by the ironing board if I'm going to be working down here after dark and I need several more garbage cans.

The sewing space is working great for 2 people to work together in it.  There are chairs for sitting and doing handwork, and chairs for sitting and visiting and directing.