Sewing, Knitting, Dogs

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.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Donated Shawl

 I work at a big 4 accounting firm.  Every year we do a gianormous United Way Fund drive.  The first year I was there - the OMP's EA (yep, we talk like that at work!) sent an email asking for donations for the United Way Raffle.  I didn't realize it was only for the partners.  That first year - I donated a blanket that I had made to sample circle shawls for The Princess' Wedding Shawl.  It earned $100 for United Way!  I was happy.

This year - I decided to knit a mystery shawl pattern.  This one is Through the Loops Mystery Shawl '14 - I loved the 2013 mystery shawl and figured I couldn't go wrong with this one.

Strange knitting fact about me - sometimes, I only need to knit the object - I don't need to end up with it.  I can count on one hand the number of finished knits I wanted to keep.  This one was half-way there.  I will make one for myself at some point.  

The yarn is Anzula's Nebula.  I think the name is called "Sand".  I actually waited until I found out who won it to make it.  I had bought this colorway, but I was really looking for a light grey.  I ordered some yarn called elephant online and let the winner decide which color they wanted.
Nebula is amazing yarn - it's wool with a lurex thread running through it to add sparkle.  It's soft and easy to knit with and blocks beautifully.  This shawl earned $275 for United Way and the yarn was right around $50 - not too bad.  Most likely - next year I'll donate something to the raffle as well - it's a good thing.  The young lady who won this made a point of showing me she was wearing it to the holiday party.  I think she mostly wears it in that trendy, bunched up, scarf-life way that the young kids do - but it looks great like that as well!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Closet of Broken Dreams

It's Done!  I've touched every single piece of fabric in the sewing space and moved it on the new shelves!  I think I love it.  there a 3 of the gorilla type shelves in the closet in what is currently the never used workout room in the basement.  it will be better when the workout equipment is gone!  

There are 4 usable shelves in each unit - the top shelves is too close to the top of the door frame to be able to get to it and store stuff on it.   For the most part - I mixed the tonal prints - striped, polka dots, tonal prints in with the solid colors and sorted by color.  I also mixed the solid knits with the wovens.  There are some exceptions.

On the shelves - from top left to bottom right the fabric is:  White, tan, black, grey, blue, brown,
Top center:  Special fabric, challis, cotton sateen, red, pink green, lining fabrics and yarn
Top Right:  dress weight cotton prints, dress weight knit prints, quilting cottons, sweater yarn stash.

Those are my 'special' fabrics and there are truly only 2 that are too special to use.  a 4 yard length of Liberty and an amazing navy blue lace - I paid more per yard for that fabric than I did for the silk for my MOB dress!  They are special - because they are scary.  Will I sew them up - sure - some day!  Are they replaceable if I muck it up?  Absolutely!  

Are you wondering about the title of this post?  As I was touching and refolding most of this fabric, I was remembering what I bought it for.  The liberty - a shirt dress; the navy lace - a Lily P sheath dress knock off.  I wasn't a vague - oh this will make a lovely dress, but, rather - I remember buying this to make Elisalex, or M6696 or another wrap dress.  and most of them haven't been made.  

I was amazed by the number of skirt lengths of wool I have and how few blouse lengths of anything I have.  

Next up - to move the old fabric cupboards out of the basement and into the garage and rearrange the furniture again - putting the cutting table under the light and the yarn cupboard under the floating shelves.  The ironing board is going under the window and the desk with the machines will jut out into the room facing the tv and sliding glass door.  It will be so much nicer to be able to see what I'm looking for quickly.  I won't need to pull bunches of fabric and put it on top of the cutting table where it overwhelms.  This should work great!  

Monday, February 16, 2015

Another Holiday Dress Fail

Last year, I made a dress that I had planned to wear to my office holiday party.  JB (bless him) thought it was too short - so I called it a fail and made a different dress to wear to the party.  

This year's holiday dress is a fail for similar reasons.  When I saw Mrs. Hughes' Jenny Lee Dress back in November - I wanted it hard!  I had the pattern - Simplicity 1459 - in my stash.  In fact, it was in a bag of patterns that I had rotated out to mail away.  I pulled that sucker back out quick.  Within a couple days - I received an email from where there fabrics with metallic were on sale.  Game on!!

I ordered 6 yards of this fantastic red and silver cotton and got the end of the bolt!  I set about to make the dress.  I traced the bodice and made a muslin - I really wanted the long sleeve.  - had bust gaping and couldn't move my arm.  So I made some changes and made muslin #2 - still couldn't move my arm.  HUH?  I've never had this be an issue before.  Did a few more things which still weren't right and then went back to the original pattern (this is why I trace!), traced a new bodice, did a small sway back adjustment and a small full bust adjustment - made one more muslin and I could move my arm in the short sleeve s I carried on!

Working under a bit of a time constraint - trying to get done for Christmas was not my friend.  Especially when I decided that JB needed a new shirt at the same time.  I would put about an hour in the evening working on both projects.  I did not make the self-imposed Christmas deadline - so figured I'd aim for our anniversary (it was 20 this year!) and missed that because of a stupid mistake.

See that lovely collar?  Yea - you need to trace the sewing lines, not just sew around the seamlines following the cut line.  And when you do that - don't go forward trimming and grading and pressing the seams.  And don't carry forward with putting it on the bodice.  It's wrong - stop while you are ahead!  So, when what I really wanted to do was chuck it - I carried it on the bus and ripped the collar from the facing and bodice and fixed it!

Then I set it aside to finish JB's shirt.  When I got back to working on my dress - I was posting photos on InstaGram as I went.  It wasn't until I had made beautiful buttonholes and cut them open that I realized my mistake!  The good news is most people won't notice.  Unless you are Maris who commented on the instagram post of the buttonholes - 'Girls are always "right" and boys are "left" out!'  {I'm totally stitching that and framing it for my sewing space!}

But other than issues caused by user error and timing - this dress is a win!  I love this dress.  I feel fancy wearing it!

The hem looks uneven in these photos - but I swear it's not.  I'm also standing on a slope in the yard.

I think my favorite feature is the pockets I put in.  There is a pocket in front of the side zipper!  The cotton is soft and drapey.  I've worn it twice since I finished it - once to go see Dirty Dancing live and just this past weekend on Valentine's day - I mean when else can you wear a glittery red dress?

I'm hoping next year's Holiday dress won't have any fail in it at all!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

And Now for Something Different

Way back in October - I posted a picture on Instagram (i have no idea how y'all get your instagram pics into blog posts and visa versa) of book covers that I wanted to remember because they looked interesting.  Mary (IdleFancy) commented and said to read the Kristan Higgins books - she said read them all!  So I did.  I read all of The Blue Heron series - out of order! - and really enjoyed them. 

I read a few other books in there as well.  Gotta tell you - I like my reading to be an escape.  I especially enjoy a story where I feel like I can relate to the characters or they have enough depth that you feel like you know them.  I don't want my reading to be heavy or feel like I need to struggle to get through a book.  Since JB gifted me a nook for Christmas several years ago - there are weekends when I knit and read - because I can balance a book (Nook) on my knee and turn pages while still being able to knit.  It's a good thing.  

Then in January - I ran out of books in my reader library that really grabbed my attention.  So I reached out to Mary and asked her what she would recommend.  She sent a long, lovely detailed email back with several book and author recommendations.   

Mary had recently read Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.  So - I bought it, downloaded it and read it in a weekend !  I did work on knitting a cardigan at the same time.  It was a great book and I really enjoyed it.  

The only downside - in my personal opinion - to e-books is that they are expensive.  And you can't loan them to friends.  Because I loved this book so much I want to read the rest of them, even though I read them out of order.  SEP says they stand alone, but she's made a family tree in case you want to read them in order anyway.  But - because of all of those factors - I actually walked over to the public library on my lunch one day last week and got a library card!  Free books will soon be mine!!

After finishing Call Me Irresistible, I opened all i ever wanted by Kristan Higgins and loved it!  Even on days I can sit on the bus - I was reading.  

I have long wanted to find a book club, the opportunity to read and discuss books and characters with people who like the same type books.   There is a book club at my office - but they read how to personal growth books - not my style.   Sharing emails with Mary about books was a lovely - finding out we liked the same types of books and can get so involved in the stories.  I started wondering if it would be possible to have a 'virtual' book club with the gals who sew (and anyone else) who might be interested.  The problem is - how would we have discussions?  

So - tell me, are you a reader?  Do you like to read this type of book?  Do you have any ideas on making a virtual book club work?  And would you be willing to play along?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Where the SewJo Went

I've been giving this quite a bit of thought and I've figured out where my desire to sew went.  It's hiding under a huge pile of UFOs.  Thankfully - they aren't flying.  So - what's got me so overwhelmed and how do I get past it?
half and 3/4 circle skirts
for The Musical One

Circles for The Princess
1. Circle skirt project.  I started this for a couple of reasons.  a.  I wanted a good visual of the different circle skirt options and b.  thought it would make a good CSC post.  At this point - I have 5 of 6 circle skirts made.  I ruined the full circle skirt for The Musial One when I put the zipper in.  All skirts need hems.

2.  Hubby's anniversary shirt.  I bought 3 lengths of fun, conversation prints to make JB bowling style shirts last summer.  The first one was to have been done for the Bridal Showerl last August (but I didn't have enough fabric to pattern match and had to order more).  In the midst of my crazy Christmas Crafting I cut out 1 shirt for JB and have been slowly sewing it up.  Stalled because I'm past the deadline - hoping to finish in time for him to wear to see Dirty Dancing at the end of the month.  Were I'm at now?  needs sleeve hems, buttonholes & buttons. 

I spent an hour tonight after dinner and before right now working on this shirt.  The pattern match is pretty good across the front, but not perfect.  It's horrible at the sides and what do you do across the sleeves?  Seriously?!  Anyway - all it needs now is buttons and buttonholes.  I have a few choices - what do you all think?  From left to right:  Taupe (I think my preference); 2 hole black; 4 hole black; 2 hole wood, 4 hole bleached wood.

3.  My Christmas dress.  I was heavily influenced by Tanya and her lovely dresses.  Then I got an email from with 'sparkly' material.  I cannot turn away from sparkles (apparently, I'm turning into a crow in my old age!).  I had the pattern already.  Where I'm at and why am I stalled?  See #2 above - past the holidays, but again, might be appropriate to wear at the end of the month.  Stalled because I didn't read the directions and did the collar wrong - which has since been fixed. So much left to do:  set in sleeves, buttons, buttonholes, add skirt, add side zipper; hem.  About 3 hours of work.  I'm shocked by how much and at the same time, rather amazed at how little I can get done in 60 minutes.  But I guess every seam I get done is one less to do, right?

4.  Machine Embroidered (Late) Holiday Gifts.  anytime you add late.  Stalled because my computer stopped talking to my dongle.  Have to take computer to sewing machine dealer to figure it out.  Think my dongle is corrupt - don't want to deal with it.

5. I have 5 other dresses and a top cut out.  Stalled because - well because.  For me - anytime something is pre-cut and I don't get to it right away it hangs over my head and makes me feel guilty!  I get to the point where I don't want to make them up - don't care if they ever become clothes in my closet.  The guilt stops me from walking into the room. But some of these dresses I really, really want to wear - the color blocked dress is there and a lovely fallish printed corduroy Odette, a myrtle and a boucle sheath dress.  

So - do you know what makes your SewJo go missing?  

Monday, January 05, 2015

Last Dress of 2014

This is the last dress I made in 2014 - although it wasn't the last thing that I made in 2014.  If you follow me on instagram, you saw my holiday to make list - this was one of the 'for me' items and the only one I got completed.  

The pattern is McCalls 6713 - but I made changes to the pattern.  The funny thing is - Angie sent me the same pattern as part of the Curvy Sewing Collective Secret Santa - Thanks Angie!!  

The fabric is an ITY that I bought from Fabric Mart and it screamed Pretty Woman to me.  It got made up quick!

So - I mentioned that I made changes to the pattern.  What where they you ask?  

First - this is not the first time I've made this dress.  I have 3 other versions in my closet, although only one has the hip flounce thing.  The first version I made I retraced the skirt front using the center front line as a cut on fold line.  I used that skirt piece for this version.  I lengthened the skirt by 2" and I think the length is quite nice.  

I added pockets.  The only thing I ever put in my pockets is my hands  - but how did I live without them?

Final - doing it my own way change?  I cut two of the underlap bodice piece.

When sewing it up - I pleated the front shoulder excess into the shoulder seam rather than gathering it.  In the other versions - the shoulders feel bulky.  I like this.  Also - because I only used the underlap pattern piece, the sides are pleated into the side seams.  I also cut this version a size smaller than previous versions.  

It looks like it might be a bit too tight in these photos, but it's not and I'm not self-conscious while wearing it.   

Finally - for Nessa - Posterior for  Posterity.  

Final thoughts - I really like this dress.  It feels grown up and classy (please don't burst my bubble if it doesn't look this way!).  The skirt has just enough fullness to be really swishy, but I don't really have to worry about a wardrobe malfunction and the crossed bodice lays flat against me.  

It's nice to think about how I wanted something to look and then to make it happen!  

Feels good to be blogging again - I keep saying that - and then just fall right back out of it.  I'll try to do better in 2015!  Happy New Year everyone.