Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Murphy's Law

So. Due to Christmas, my broken hand, and a general lack of motivation, I am only now ready to cut out the pieces for my dress. And, as Murphy's Law would predict, I can't find one of my pattern pieces. I think I may have left it in my dorm room, which is locked until the winter break is over. What I am missing is piece 8, the skirt back. If someone out there who has S2498 would kindly scan & email that one piece (smgjic [at] hotmail [dot] com), or describe it so I can re-draft it (it doesn't appear to be much different from 6), or something, it would be so much appreciated. I really don't want to have to go out and buy a new pattern--they're so expensive! ( I am making view D.)

Have I mentioned how glad I am I have a backup dress?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Free patterns!

Homespun Threads is making her patterns available for free! All she's asking is that you follow her blog and spread the word. I don't know how long this will last, so if you are interested, now's the time!

Also, a very merry and blessed Christmas to all of you!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

This could make things difficult

By things, I mean sewing my dress for the inaugural ball, which is in five weeks. And by this, I mean this:
Yes, I broke my hand. I don't even have a cool story, either. I was sledding down a hill last Thursday instead of studying for final exams. There wasn't very much snow on the ground, and I got my ring finger caught on something on the ground and yanked sideways. I broke my fourth metacarpal and will be in a cast for about four weeks.

Luckily, I broke my left hand, which means I'm not totally helpless. However, sewing is really a two-handed job. I ripped my muslin apart and used the pieces as guides for new pattern pieces to cut out for the real dress. The entire process of turning a muslined pattern piece into a new one usually takes five or ten minutes per piece. With this cast, it takes forty-five. I'm not giving up on this dress just yet, but I do expect this project to be not nearly as fun as I had originally been thinking!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Alterations on S2498

Well, even if I'm not sewing the dress until Christmas break, I did do some alterations on my bodice muslin a few weekends ago. I have never understood how people who haven't other people to help them fit manage to fit anything. (On the other hand, I am so asymmetrical that a dressmaker's dummy just can't cut it. Perhaps if I were regularly shaped, or at least symmetrical, I could fit my own clothes.) Anyway, this was an interesting fitting, since the person who was helping me, my sister Teresa, doesn't really sew very much. So she had less practice at knowing how to fix various problems. It worked quite well, though. I made a good deal of alterations:

This picture is not the greatest, and I apologize for that. The first thing I (or rather, we) did was to shorten the shoulder straps of the bodice. (For the record, I'm going with the terms bodice and bodice overlay. Hopefully that isn't too confusing.) They were a good two or three inches too long--I'm not sure if that's a pattern error or what.

I also took in the shoulder seams. Because of the way my shoulders are shaped, the arm hole is the right size, but the neck is too big. So we tapered the shoulder seam on both sides. You can see the new line of the shoulder--it's right where the line of safety pins is:

The third alteration was to fix the fact that the front neck edge of the bodice gapped. Again, we tapered. I'll just move this piece when I cut it out for real, since it's cut on the fold:
The last two alterations I did I haven't got pictures of, although you can see one of them in the first picture. I took in the underarm seam on the right side of the bodice overlay. It makes me extremely nervous that I only had to take it in on one side, because I don't think I'm that asymmetrical. However, there will most certainly be another fitting over Christmas break, so I'm not terribly fussed. The other alteration I did was to add 5/8" to each side of the center back seam. It certainly seems counter intuitive to be taking width out of the front and adding width in the back, but since my shoulders are somewhat rounded, that really did have to happen. Of course, since that changes the width of the waist seam too, I will have to alter the skirt pieces a bit, but that shouldn't take more than about 30 seconds.

I'm hoping that I will stay close enough to the shape I am now that I won't really have to re-alter these pattern pieces come Christmastime. We shall see. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Good news, bad news

Well. This is an unexpected turn of events. The presidential inauguration has been postponed, because the chancellor of Catholic University, Archbishop Wuerl, is being made a cardinal. I think this is great news, but it means that the inauguration, and hence the inaugural ball, won't be taking place until late January (not December, sorry!). This is, of course, a shame, because it means I no longer have any motivation to sew for the rest of this semester! On the other hand, it takes a lot of the pressure off. The next week is going to be extremely busy, with multiple important tests and papers, and it will be nice to not have to worry about sewing.

I did do the fitting of the dress last Saturday, and I have an upcoming post about the bodice alterations I made. We'll see if these alterations are still good enough come January, or if I'll have gained enough of the freshman 15 that I will have to start over with my alterations! I hope that doesn't happen, though.

Friday, October 15, 2010

This is probably a terrible idea

...but I've picked my next sewing project. And it's not one of the ones I already had on my list. It's something new. In very slightly more than a month, there is going to be a formal ball to celebrate the inauguration of the new CUA president. I want to sew myself my dress. I'm thinking to make Simplicity 2498. I would make the version shown in blue. I'm thinking, though, that I would like it in black taffeta, with some sort of pink accent. I'm wondering if there's any way to change that bow in the front to a bright pink sash. Or maybe just make the bow pink and wear a pink necklace? I'm really not sure--what do you all think? I'd love your opinions, and preferably as soon as possible, since I only have a month! Other pattern or color suggestions are welcome as well.

(Don't worry, I have every intention of having a back-up dress. I am realistic enough to know that I may well not have the time for this project.)

Monday, September 20, 2010

I want to knit...

So, I'm starting my third week of college now. Still no sewing, but I've figured out why. Sewing on a machine isn't social. It makes noise (especially if you have a machine like mine), you're usually facing away from people, and you can't look at them. It's also not portable and takes a fair amount of concentration.

You know what does none of that? Knitting. It's easy and doesn't take your eyes, if you pick the right stitch pattern. It's essentially silent, it's extremely portable, and you can sit wherever you want and look at whatever you like.

I want to knit. I used to be a knitter--freshman through junior year of high school I knitted nearly constantly. I knitted while reading, watching movies, studying, you name it, I had a project going. Mostly I knitted baby hats for a local hospital. I logged over nine hundred hours knitting those suckers. Then came carpal tunnel, or something similar. The last stitch I knitted was two weeks before Easter of junior year. I can honestly say I've mostly gotten over it, but there really is a little hole in my life, and sewing can't fill it. There's nothing quite like knitting.

The temptation to take knitting up again has never been stronger. My wrists have been so much better over the past few months--they now only hurt after several hours of writing, chopping, typing, or whatever. I've switched back from thick kindergartner pencils to regular mechanical pencils, and I'm able to write with ball point pens again. I just know, though, that I'll wreck my wrists again if I start knitting. Someone talk me down from this ledge!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Old project

I don't think I have free time any more, but while I'm trying to figure it out, I'll post some old projects of mine. I do go through these sewing slumps, and I haven't figured out a way to motivate myself back into sewing--I just have to let nature take its course.

This dress I sewed myself last summer. The shoulders are slightly large, but it fits fairly well overall, and since it's not a terribly fitted style, it doesn't look too bad.

I apologize; this photo is terrible. However, it's ten thirty, and I have less than no desire to go and change for the purpose of taking an (equally awkward) photo in the mirror on the back of my closet door. I should have another picture of me in this dress somewhere, as I wear it fairly often. I'll try and see if I can dig one up.

What I find intriguing about this dress is that it is far and away the piece of clothing I own that gets me the most compliments. I've never thought of it as particularly attractive or particularly flattering, but everyone else on the planet seems to love it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Contest and update

I haven't even touched my sewing machine since I got to college. This campus is full of fun things to do, and my classes are turning out to be more work than I expected. For example, this week (the second week of school) I have two quizzes and two short papers due. I haven't had much unscheduled time, and what I have had has generally been spent with friends. (Yes, I have friends already. It's very nice.)

I thought that I would share a picture of my side of my dorm room:

This was taken before I really started living in it, of course, so there are now stacks of books and binders and papers all over my desk. I have managed to keep the floor relatively clear, though, at least so far.

In vaguely sewing-related news, have you seen Shabby Apple's Design Contest? It looks interesting. Since I am not in any way, shape, or form a pattern maker, does anyone know roughly how much it would cost to get a pattern made?

I am hoping to pick up my sewing again soon, but I can't promise anything, as I don't foresee the workload getting much lighter.

Friday, August 27, 2010

When it's just not worth it

There are some things that are not worth the trouble it takes to sew them, in my opinion. For example, this shirt I bought recently with my aunt:

Don't get me wrong, I love this shirt! I would cheerfully have many more like it. But it looks like a headache to sew. In case you can't see cleary in the photo, the shirt has bubble sleeves with elastic in them, a shirred bodice, and a neck edge that is made out of a fabric shirred in a wave-like pattern. The idea of trying to get all those lines of shirring parallel and then sewing all the pieces together is quite daunting, at least to me. And given that I can buy the shirt for $15, it's a no-brainer. Since it's so stretchy, the fit issues that drove me to get into sewing clothes don't apply.

Other things I'm reluctant to sew include things with lots of buttonholes, like shirtdresses or button-down shirts. I find it extremely difficult to make buttonholes look presentable.

What are things that you'd rather buy than sew?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Jalie 2908--finished!

At long last, not only are the Jalie 2908 jeans finished, but I have photos of them! The photos are pretty bad, but given that I took them with a broken camera in a rush in a sketchy motel in Indiana, they could be a lot worse!

The front:
Yes, Teresa usually stands on one foot and one side of a foot. And then she complains that her shoes fall apart. :P

The back:
This is a slightly odd angle. But it's all I've got, and you can see that I got the pockets on evenly, which is what I wanted to show off. And look! Both feet are on the ground at the same time!

Action shot:
I suppose this isn't very much action, but it's hard to think of anything else to be done in that motel. Jump on the beds?

The pocket lining:
This photo is blurry, but I didn't notice it at the time, and given that the jeans and their owner were left behind in Indiana, this is what you will have to live with until fall break in October!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sorry all!

I have been very productive, I just haven't been sewing. Our youth group (well, part of it) spent a week in Delaware with Habitat for Humanity. We took a house from this:

to this: You can't see too well on the photos, but what we did is finish the decking on one side of the house (it's a duplex), and raise the walls for the second floor on the other side. It's not quite as much as we had hoped to get done, but we did run into a good many snags along the way.

Many of us also tried out new things. For me, those were sawing with a circular saw while standing on scaffolding, and nailing from the top of a high ladder:
That's me in the black T-shirt and white hard hat in the top left.

I also tried out what it might be like to die early. We took off work early one day and went to the beach, where a friend and I got caught by the waves and had a very hard time getting back to shore. Physically, we are both recovered (me) or recovering (him), but neither of us likes to look at pictures of waves or the beach, and as a matter of fact, when I went to see Inception last night, I had to get someone to hold my hand during those beach scenes. I think it will be a while before I go to the beach again.

It is getting to crunch time for getting ready for college. I honestly don't forsee much sewing, and I'm sorry about that.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sewing machine troubles

So, sadly, I think it is time to admit something I've been trying to deny for quite a while. I think the timing on my sewing machine is off, and I think it may be time to take it in for a tune-up of some sort. The issue may not be timing exactly, but something is definitely wrong with this poor machine.

Exhibit A:
See those brown scratches around the hole where the needles goes in? I am pretty darn sure that those are scratches from where the needle scrapes the faceplate (is that what it's called?) instead of going into the hole cleanly. There were some of those scratches when I got the machine, but there are now more of them, and my needles do go dull pretty quickly.

Exhibit B:
This picture is much harder to see, because my camera doesn't do very good close-ups, but inside that red box is a little dark line. That dark line is a dent. That dent is new. I think the needle dented the bobbin case.

Now, I have several questions for you. First of all, does this seem like a timing issue to anyone else? My sewing machine has been getting crankier and crankier, and it also started working much more poorly after the trip back from Montreal (which may have been a bad idea, in retrospect). If you don't think it's a timing issue, what might it be?

And, the main question: Do I have any hope of fixing this myself? The affordable machine repair shop in the area closed, and I am looking at a bill of $90 just to look at the thing from the only other store in the area that I know of. I don't think I have any local readers, but any suggestions for a sewing machine repair shop in the DC area would be gratefully appreciated, especially if they're cheap. But, again, if I have any hope of fixing this myself, please let me know!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Busy, but done

Well, I managed to finish Teresa's jeans yesterday, and, of course, I have no photo. And I am going out of town in less than two hours. I feel safe saying this publicly, since it is just me and Teresa leaving, and there will still be six blue belts and a purple belt and a shotgun left behind to guard the house. Haha.

So yeah. I have no photo (except I will say that they look quite a lot like the photo on the Jalie website; I'm quite pleased), and very little chance of getting a photo before I leave, since I'm not quite all the way packed. But the waistband fits quite well, and I am quite satisfied! If I get a chance, I'lll write another post and schedule it for some time this week, but I make no promises. I'm well aware that I'm falling down on both the sewing and blogging front, and for that I apologize!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


About two weeks ago, I won a pattern from The Long and Winding Bobbin. It arrived in the mail today, and I must say I was very pleasantly surprised. Not by the pattern--it was lovely, but I knew what it was already, since I entered for it. No, I was surprised by the lovely packaging. If I had done this giveaway, or any other giveaway for that matter, I would have put the pattern in a mailing envelope, scribbled an address on, and thrown in into the mailbox. But no. The package was addressed in lovely clear handwriting:

Sorry I cut the address off. I don't feel like posting my entire address on the internet for all the world to see!

When I opened up the package, I found (stuck between two layers of cardboard so it wouldn't get crushed) a package wrapped in red tissue paper with a sticker on it. Mind blown! (Please note that the bottom left corner was torn by my abortive efforts to open the package. It was not like that when it arrived.)

And oh yes, there was a pattern inside. Here is a picture of it:

I just love the version with the bow in front!

July wrap-up: I fail

Okay, until I came to wrote this post, I had had no idea of the extent of my slacker-ness. I knew that I had done very little sewing this month, but you know how many things I finished? None. I mended a sheet for my grandfather, which took about five minutes and hardly counts at all.

I have no idea how to get back started up with sewing. I think I need to get my rear in gear and find those needed supplies, and then just make myself sew a little every day. If I'm not sewing when I move into college, I'll be less likely to sew while I'm there. Besides, I'm on a major deadline here, and I have several things that really should get finished now. Or very close to now.

Gack. Send prayers, or good wishes, or whatever you like. :P

Saturday, July 31, 2010

This post is not about sewing

Because I haven't done any. Yes, you understood me correctly. Since my last post on Wednesday, I have no sewed a stitch. I have not oiled a machine, threaded a needle, or even looked at fabric longer than 30 seconds. I have been busy with another subject, one as dear to my heart as sewing, and slightly more urgent and expensive:


I have been trying to buy my schoolbooks for next semester with a minimum of work and money paid out. This has actually been going fairly well, as many of my books are nerd books and generally not that expensive (St. Augustine's Confessions for $8 new? Check.) I shudder for all you poor math and science people--my math textbook costs $150. Needless to say, I haven't bought it yet and am working on alternatives. For anyone who may find themselves in similar straits, or for anyone who just likes getting cheap books, I will pass on Bookfinder. This site searches bookselling places, such as Alibris,, Amazon, Amazon Marketplace, and more that I had never even heard of. And the prices it lists include shipping! This may be my new favorite website.

I hope to finish buying books (except maybe that evil math book) by Monday, and then hopefully some sewing will return--madcap panic rush sewing, as Teresa leaves for ND very very soon, and an entire week is taken away by a Habitat for Humanity trip.

(If you read this whole post, then you may like books enough to want to check out this book giveaway. And yes, I admit, I do get an extra entry for linking to it, but it actually did fit with the rest of this post.)

Oh, and one more random thing: Happy anniversary to my parents, who as of yesterday have been married for 22 happy years. :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Some progress,..but mostly not

So here's the thing. Everything is waiting on something else.

Teresa's coat fits okay, as I said earlier. However, I think the main fit problem is not the coat, it's Teresa. Her shoulders are very different heights. I have decided to use shoulder pads of two different thicknesses. So I have to wait for the other shoulder pad to come in the mail, as JoAnn's doesn't sell anything thinner than the ones I've got. (And I have to order them before they can come in the mail. Ahem.) The pictures I have are very poor, as the pattern is so busy that they coat looks weird and shapeless. It looks much much better in person.

Teresa's first pair of jeans are waiting on the hem. This means they are waiting on Teresa and me to both be free at the same time. This sounds easier than it actually is, because Teresa has an out-of-town visitor visiting her, and they are usually away doing touristy things. And I am tired, and I hate hemming, so I am perhaps not as pressuring as I could be.

Teresa's second pair of jeans, which I cut out a few days ago, is waiting on top-stitching thread. We have decided to go ahead with the rainbow top-stitching, but I am not sure where to get that locally, and am resistant to paying shipping on a spool of thread. I also have never actually top-stitched anything properly--how many yards of thread per pair of pants do you need, roughly?

I am sure you are wondering where the "some progress" part comes in. You probably have forgotten all about this sewing machine. Well, I sort of had, too. But today I dragged it out onto the front porch and cleaned it with some lamp oil. It seems to work much better. At any rate the wheel turns more nicely. I am going to let it dry overnight, then oil it and give it a test run. It would be super convenient to have a second machine set up for the top-stitching. (Um. That assumes I can get it upstairs and fit it into my bedroom. Maybe not.)

I may start a fourth project while I am waiting for the various things I am waiting for. This sewing is getting me down--in fact, I'm starting to worry that I may not be able to finish these things in time for Teresa to take them with her when she leaves.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Almost done (finally)!

Well, after much procrastinating and putting-off, I am nearly done with Teresa's J2908 jeans! I decided that it was simply not worth the effort to try and fix the disastrous waistband that the pattern came with. (For those who are not familiar with this pattern, it calls for a waistband made out of a rectangle of fabric. I don't think I know any member of the female sex over the age of 12 who can wear a one-inch wide straight waistband and not have it gap.) I decided to draft a curved waistband. It worked fairly well:

It's slightly uneven, and I'm not quite sure why, but I don't suppose it will really matter. Teresa tends to go for function over form, and she never tucks her shirts in, so not only does she not care, but no one will ever see anyway. On the last pair of pants I made with this pattern, the zipper showed whenever you moved, so I overlapped the edges of the fly a good bit more than the pattern called for. I didn't measure, I just eyeballed it. The zipper is hidden now, which I like--I think an exposed zipper on pants always looks like they're pulling and too tight.

I will admit that although I'm nor a huge fan of this pattern because of the aforementioned waistband issues, I do like the pockets very much. Teresa's pockets are lined with cute cotton, which I will post a picture of when I post a picture of them after they've been hemmed. I want to wash and dry them again before I hem them, though, just in case!

I also have been working on the coat I am making for Teresa out of this fabric. I made a muslin yesterday, and it fits fairly well, but I will have to do some significant alterations on the lower back because of her scoliosis. This was to be expected, though, and the coat does fit much better than I had feared. I will post before and after pictures of the muslin soon, although the fit is hard to see with the print I chose.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Musings on Modesty

As Peter puts it, "it's modesty week on the blogs!" And while I am certainly not as high-profile as Peter or Gertie or Sal, I did feel like sharing my thoughts, because this is a topic I have thought about a lot.

(Disclaimer: I am a Catholic with traditional sensibilities. I do not intend to preach in this post, or in any other post for that matter, but do be aware that what I will say does come from a religious perspective. You've been warned.)

To start off with, Gertie linked to this study, which I didn't find nearly as horrifying as some of the commenters did. A lot of commenters, particularly women, seemed to view this study as the religious patriarchy trying to oppress women. This study really didn't seem oppressive to me. Take this quote from the study overview page: "We're not telling you what to wear -- we're just telling you what we, as guys, have to guard against." To me, this study is more about providing information, and less about forcing women and girls to wear something ugly or burka-like. If I know what guys find difficult to deal with, this study can, at least theoretically, give me some information I might find helpful. (It's probably worth noting that although I found it interesting, I can't see myself changing anything about the way I dress based on it.)

However, me wanting to dress in a way that makes it easier for guys to not lust after me presupposes something, and that something is charity. Or kindness, or concern for others, or whatever you like to call it. If I dress is an immodest manner, is it my fault if someone reacts inappropriately? Not really--we all have free will and are responsible for our own actions. But at the same time, if I offer a recovering alcoholic a glass of beer and he falls off the wagon, I did help to cause that. Yes, it was his choice, but I could have been more sensitive. In the same way, while men obviously have the choice to look and whistle and imagine, or not, we can help them by dressing in a modest manner.

Being empowered does not mean that we should be selfish all the time. Peter said, "It seems many of us, scarred by the battles for equality perhaps, are loathe to admit doing something partly for others' pleasure, as if we were in some way contributing to our own objectification." In the same vein, I would suggest that the battle for equality has caused this division that is causing many of these problems, this attitude of "it's his problem, let him deal with it!" or "it's her body that's causing all the problems anyway--not my fault!" What would happen if both sexes changed their attitude and realized that objectification of a person, whether he be man or woman, is a serious problem, and one best dealt with by co-operation between the sexes? What we all dressed modestly, did our best to keep our thoughts under control, and took responsibility for our own actions?

I am very firm on the topic that modesty should be a two-way street, but at the same time I think that rules based on inches are hard to apply, arbitrary, and don't even work a lot of the time. Personally, I am a fan of the guideline that if you would be uncomfortable with someone of the opposite sex touching your bare skin in a certain place, that skin should be covered. (I don't remember where I heard it, though--if I stole it from you, please let me know so I can give you the proper credit!) I like this rule because it allows for personal comfort, while still providing a semi-objective standard. This rule doesn't work for everyone, but it's good for most people. There are obviously scenarios in which this rule can't be applied (bathing suits come instantly to mind), but for regular day-to-day wear, I like it very much.

I should probably add (and then I will finally shut up) that I am not at all a fan of the fashion police. I may think what you're wearing is beyond tacky or horribly skanky, but when you get right down to it, we all have to make our own choices, and forcing people to comply with our ideas of what is modest and what isn't is a very sticky issue. There are very few people, if any, who get up in the morning and think, "Hmm. What is the worst outfit I have in my closet to wear today?" Most people are trying to look nice most of the time. Depending on the circumstances, it may be appropriate to offer advice ("Dear sister, are you aware I can see right through your skirt? You may want to try a slip with that."), but going around judging strangers for what they are wearing only causes negative feelings and more divisions.

Anyway, I have given my opinion pretty strongly here, I think, but don't let that scare you away from jumping in. Agree? Disagree? A little of each?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

International fabric shopping

I was on vacation recently, visiting family in Montreal. I had the opportunity to go check out the fabric district. Sadly, I did not have a camera--I forgot it at home, and my cell phone only works inside the United States. I used this post from the Selfish Seamstress for recommendations for where to go. I had clear goals in mind: I wanted knits to make simple dresses and/or shirts out of, and I was hoping to score some cheap windbreaker fabric for Teresa's coat.

Did I ever accomplish my goals! I scored slightly over 3 meters of this lovely gray knit, which was on a clearance table for $1.98/meter.

I bought 3 more meters of this stripe, which I love and the rest of my family isn't so fond of, for $5/meter.

Those two fabrics came from different stores, and I don't remember the name of either store. I'm sorry. I also got windbreaker fabric! It's blue with adorable polka dots. I wish it were a fabric I could make a dress out of! This was quite reasonable too, at $5/meter. I do remember which store that came from, I think--it was called St. Hubert or something along those lines. And it was enormous and on a corner. Sadly, I haven't got a photo of the windbreaker fabric. It came home from Montreal in a box of books (I did much more book acquiring than fabric acquiring) under the back seat, and my mother has requested that the books stay in the car until such time as we have the ability to deal with them well. And apparently shoving the box under my bed (there is no free shelf space in my room at all) does not count as dealing well.

While I was doing this shopping, I got a chance to try out my loser French. I realized as soon as I climbed on the metro that I should have looked up some of the phrases you never learn in French class, but are oh so useful for fabric shopping--"Is this dry-clean only?" "Can you tell me whether you sell any cotton knits?" "Can you tell me how much this costs? (Okay, so I probably learned and promptly forgot that last one. Ahem.) I did know how to say a few things in French, and I would say I spoke English in only about half the stores. Which I consider pretty good. My greatest success was the time I asked for three meters, and the lady at the cutting counter said that there were slightly more than three meters, and I had to buy it all. And I understood her!

My greatest failure was when I walked into a different store and the man behind the cutting counter said something utterly unintelligible. I gave him what I assume was a very blank look and said, "Pardon?" He slowly repeated himself: "Comment ca va?"* Oops. I hastily racked my brains for how adverbs worked and triumphantly replied, "Bien!" He laughed and said, "You speak more English than French, eh?"

*This means "How's it going?"

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My fabric organization scheme

I told you I would tell you how I keep track of my fabric, and now I will. I have a somewhat odd way to organize my fabric, but I think it is quite practical. Nearly every piece of fabric I own has its own index card. (Exceptions are small scraps and my quilting cottons.)

On this index card is written information I think I will find useful--the type of fabric, how much I have of it, where it came from and when I got it, and pattern ideas I have for it. (You may notice that this fabric, did, in fact, turn into NL 6807.) I also cut out a little bit of the fabric, from the selvage where possible, and glue that to the card.

I have many of these cards. Actually, I'm a bit behind on creating them for my more recent fabric acquisitions--I should really get on that.

Now, why do I have these cards? Why don't I just put my fabric in see-through boxes? It's because I am going to be living on a college campus next year. I don't forsee having space to bring all my fabric, nor do I necessarily want to make a trip back home every time I want a new piece of fabric. This simplifies my life a lot--I can look at my cards, decide what fabric I want, and (here comes the really cool part) give the card to my father, who works at Catholic University. He can take it home with him, and bring me the fabric the next day he comes in! This saves me time and money, as he would travel home and back to work anyway. But it also saves him time, because I don't have to explain to him what piece of fabric I want exactly. He can just match and grab. (My father is hardly clueless when it comes to sewing, but I still doubt that "the checked shirting" would be enough information for him. It certainly wouldn't be for me!)

I have all my cards in a box specially designed for holding index cards. I have little dividers in there, which divide my cards into the three divisions of fancy fabrics, knits, and wovens. In other words, they match the divisions of the actual fabrics.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Vintage patterns for sale

Zo at So, Zo is moving, and she's getting rid of some vintage patterns. She's going to use the money they sell for to ship (or help ship) her other sewing supplies to her new house. Most of them seem to come in a 36" bust. These patterns are cheap, too--one pound each, plus postage. Hop on over and see if there's one you like!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I was tagged!

Andrea of Invisible Flower tagged me in an 8 question questionnaire. Here are my answers:

1) What outfit from a movie would you love to re-create?
I would love to recreate one of Scarlett O'Hara's dresses from Gone With the Wind, something like what this person has done. Honestly, the only reason I haven't tried is that I would have no place to wear it! Well, and the expense.

2) Tell us about your sewing spot/room. What is your favorite thing about it?
My sewing spot is a table in my bedroom. I can't really pick a favorite thing about's very small and cramped. I suppose I like the fact that it's right underneath the window. It will soon be changing, though, when I move into a college dorm room. Hopefully it will be slightly less cramped. And hopefully my room mate doesn't mind scraps of fabric on the floor!

3) Where did you learn to sew? Who taught you?
I learned to sew in Germany. My mother taught me to handsew when I was four. I dropped it, picked it up again around 8 or 9, sewing with a machine this time, dropped it again, and then picked it up for good (at least so far) in the summer before 11th grade. I should find the doll's quilt I started in my first fit of enthusiasm and post a picture of it.

4) If you could have dinner with one person from the past, who would it be?
This is a difficult question, a very difficult question. I think I would have to go with Jesus, for obvious reasons, Thomas Aquinas, because he is an awesome philosopher, or my grandmother, because she died before I really got a chance to know her.

5) What/Who inspires you?
This is another hard question. I am inspired by many different things. As far as sewing related inspirations go, I am primarily inspired by looking at the things other seamstresses have sewed, or by flipping through catalogs. Occasionally I will be inspired by something in a store, but I don't spend that much time in real stores any more.

6) What will always make you laugh?
Funny things that my little siblings say. My friends can also usually make me laugh.

7) What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
I have trouble with ice cream. It tends to give me a stomachache. When possible, I opt for sorbet. But honestly, in my book, nothing beats chocolate-chip cookie dough ice cream.

8) What is something you would like us to know about you that you have never shared on your blog?
Um. Hm. Sewing related? I am a terrible cheater. I skip any step I think I can do without. This means I skip almost all basting, a great deal of ironing, and anything else I think I can get away with. This is probably a fault that will come back to bite me some day. Being impatient and lazy is a terrible combination.

Now, rather than tagging anyone specifically, I'm tagging anyone who would like to participate. That way, no one gets put on the spot and no one gets excluded. (And it saves me the trouble of having to look back through old posts and make sure I don't tag someone who already did this....)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Fabric storage

Or, finally she posts a picture or two!

I'll admit it--my fabric storage is a mess. In theory, it's organized, but in practice, it's sort of shoved into boxes. I have my fabric separated into four categories. One is wovens suitable for clothes, one is knits, one is quilting cottons, and one is "fancy" fabrics--velvet, lace, and so on.

This is my box of wovens:

Yes, it's a cardboard box. Actually, it's my serger's box! Since I took this picture, I have improved things a little bit. My dressmaker's dummy no longer lives on top of the box. However, I still have everything jammed in the box where I can't see it. (This is not quite as bad as it sounds, and a future post on how I keep track of what fabric I have will explain why.) And yes, it's ugly and impractical.

Here you can see my fancy fabrics, which are the three piles on the left, and my knits, which is the one small pile on the right (with the blue striped fabric on top). This may have to be changed, as I bought 7 more yards of thickish knits (which I still have to photograph and blog about) a few days ago. The striped box on the shelf above is full of my serger cones. And some spare elastic.
This is the box I keep my quilting cottons in. I actually like this storage idea. This is a shoe rack that my mother didn't want. The cottons are roughly sorted by color, and I have some notions in there too, in those purple boxes. I have a jar of empty spools and a jar of buttons there too, as well as a bag of scraps and my sister's knitting needle binder. And my other sister's Mardi Gras beads.
So yes, this is a mess. It's not that well organized, and it really really unattractive. However, I have two severely limiting factors. One is money. The shelves I have are the shelves I've got to work with. The other is space. I forget if I have posted a picture of my bedroom/sewing room, but it is small. Think college dorm room size. I simple haven't room for another shelf or some super-organizer.

That said, if anyone has any ideas, send them my way! These disheveled piles of fabric (because honestly, that's what these are) are starting to weigh down on me.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I have an excuse this time!

It's not a good excuse, but at least I have one. It is WAY too hot to sew. Even the thought of turning on an extra light bulb makes me want to pass out. Yesterday, with the humidity factored in, it felt like it was 110 degrees. Gack! (For those of you not on the East coast, all of us East Coasters are suffering under an extreme heat wave which has been breaking records all up and down the coast.) I hate hate hate the heat. I intend to move to Northern Canada some day and live in the Arctic with the polar bears. (Okay, maybe not quite that extreme....)

I have only been doing tiny bits of sewing in fits and starts, and am actually nearly done the Jalie 2908 jeans for Teresa. I suspect, though, that with this heat, the couple of hours I have left will take all week. *sigh*

Monday, July 5, 2010

Where have all the sleeves gone?

I was messing around on Polyvore today, and I figured out why it is that I so very rarely buy dresses off the rack. Besides the fit issues, I mean. Most dresses haven't got sleeves anymore! When did that happen? I'm used to summer dresses being sleeveless, but it seems to me that now all the dresses are sleeveless, with a significant number being strapless.

Strapless is out of the question. As my grandmother said to my mother, and could just as well have said to me, "You can't wear a strapless dress! You have nothing to hold it up!" I have tried on strapless dresses before....not happening. Besides, I honestly don't really like the way most strapless dresses look. I find wide expanses of skin to be not at all attractive, no matter how nicely tended the skin may be.

Sleeveless...meh. I haven't got a huge moral issue with sleeveless dresses or anything like that. Nor do I dislike the genre of sleeveless as much as I dislike the genre of strapless. I have a couple of sleeveless dresses and shirts. I just greatly prefer that my clothing have sleeves, or at least something that will approximate the look of a sleeve.

I guess this is why I sew. In theory, I can make my dresses look like anything I want! Assuming that is, I can find a pattern that's close enough to the ideal to alter. Easier said than done. For example, I can't find sewing patterns that look like this or like this.

I guess I need to learn to draft. Hmm. I don't think drafting lessons and poor college student budget usually coincide, do they?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Fourth!

Yes, I get to post about both holidays...this is the greatest advantage of having dual citizenship. You get twice as much cake!

O! say can you see by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Apparently a test that they use to see if someone is a terrorist sometimes is to ask him to sing the Star Spangled Banner. If he knows and sings all four verses, chances are good that he's not an American! Such a shame--the other verses are so nice.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Museum meet-ups?

If you are free on the 29th of August and are near (or willing to get yourself near Nashville), or free on the 24th of July and near NYC, you'll want to check out this post by Gertie.

I am not anywhere near Nashville, and I am only near NYC in a very extended sense of the word (read: a Chinatown bus trip away), plus I have plans already for both of those days, so I won't be at either meet-up. If you go, be sure and post pictures!

I have been doing almost no sewing this past week or so. I always lose my mojo in the summer, but it's really bad this year. I hope to do just a little bit of sewing today, but I said that yesterday as well.

In a completely non-sewing related note, I have gotten my roommate for next year at college. We've exchanged some emails, and I'm pretty sure we're going to get along well. Hooray!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Canada Day!

Well, today is Canada Day!

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Retro wrap dress

So here's the deal. I'm pretty sure that I will have sporadic internet access for most of the summer. I am even more sure that sewing will be sporadic at best. After all, you can access the internet from most anywhere there's a computer, and sew from hardly anywhere, if you don't handsew. In order to not let this blog fall completely by the wayside, I will be posting about projects I've already completed.

Today's project is B4790. [Hey look, it's on sale!] I made this dress last summer, and I really love it. It was extremely easy to sew up.

If you don't like edging things with bias tape, I think I'd recommend against this dress, though. Pretty much every edge except the bottom hem is finished with bias tape. The other caveat I'd add is that though the dress has a nice full skirt, it's really not something you can be active in. I find the snaps have a tendency to pop open if I pick up a large package or a small child. Perhaps I should stick in a hook and eye or two in between the snaps.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Strong and tough?

There's an extremely interesting post called Strong and Tough up at Already Pretty. This quote really spoke to me:

"People have told me all my life that I’m strong. Because I went to college far from home, because I quit all the jobs that made me miserable, because I asked for what I felt I deserved. But I never quite bought it. To me, strength is cultivated, intentional, definite. I felt like I could deal with catastrophe and challenge, but only because I have an excellent autopilot setting: I don’t even THINK about it, I just deal. Is that strength? It sure never felt like it."

(There's supposed to be a way to put this as a quote, however, it doesn't seem to be working today.)

Replace "I went to college far from home, because I quit all the jobs that made me miserable, because I asked for what I felt I deserved" with slightly different things, and I could have written that. I wonder if all "strong" people just have a really good autopilot setting?

Physically, I know I have more upper body strength than most girls my age. I can fake a push-up well enough that my karate teacher doesn't call me out most days, I can do crunches and leg-lifts and chin-ups. However, I was still mildly surprised this past week to discover that lifting suitcases to overhead racks was something I could do quite well and most of my girlfriends couldn't. Maybe I am strong after all, at least physically?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A thought on being small

I have very narrow shoulders and a small bust. I have children's shirts that are too large in the shoulders. A shirt I bought from the little boys' department, which fits me well in the shoulders, is one size bigger than the shirts my ten year old brother wears.

This has its advantages, as I can (or at least can try to) shop in both the kids' and grownups' departments.

However, it also has its disadvantages. Because my arms are so long compared to my shoulder width, I generally have to choose between proper shoulder/bust size and proper sleeve length. That boys' shirt I mentioned, for example, doesn't even begin to cover my wrists. I wear the sleeves pushed up as half-sleeves. Another disadvantage is that I can't express any dissatisfaction with my body without someone shrieking that I'm so tiny and I should shut up.

I have heard over and over that people want to look like me. I don't understand it, really. I think that being my size actually makes buying clothing harder, not easier, than if you're more normally sized. For all the yelping about teeny models, there aren't any clothes out there to fit skinny people. Or if there are, I haven't found them. And if your clothes don't fit, it's very hard to look nice. Hence why I sew.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Hmm. Over in this post at Like Mother, Like Daughter, Mrs. Lawler mentions that it's not a good idea to keep thread out in the air and light. This is a problem for me! This is my thread storage:

(Don't worry, I actually do have more thread than this. The rack is pretty much full.) I love my thread rack. It's convenient, tidy, and I also think it's adorable!

I have experimented with many different ways of storing thread. I tried the keeping-it-in-a-box thing, and that didn't work. I have a lazy personality. The best way for my stuff to be tidy is if it's easier (or at least not harder) to put things away properly as it is to dump them someplace random. When my thread belonged in a box, it spent all its time on my sewing table. It's truly terrible that I won't get up and walk across my (tiny!) bedroom to put my thread away, but I won't. So the thread rack stays--thread which isn't put away is still being exposed to the air, and this way it looks tidy at least.

Really I suppose what I'm wondering is how much of a problem this even is. After something is finished, it doesn't get kept in a box. I'm torn between thinking that this is a bit of paranoia designed by the Rubbermaid company (ok, just kidding) and thinking that I'm just trying to rationalize my thread rack. I guess it doesn't really matter, since I love my thread rack so much. I've never had any major thread problems, so I'll stick with what I've got. But now I'm curious--how do you store your thread? Had you heard of this problem?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

New dress

Okay, this post is not about sewing. But it is about my new dress that I ordered a few weeks ago. I'm a sucker for shirtdresses, and this one was on sale *and* I had a coupon code. It came in the mail while we were on vacation, and I like it so much I thought I'd post about it. After all, fashion is tangentially related to sewing, right?

This is the photo from the Lands' End website, zoomed in a bit. Isn't this dress awesome? I wore it to church today. I thought it looked a bit sober with the black sash, so I replaced the sash with a white scarf with black Chinese characters on it. I must say, I think this makes a slightly better Spring/Fall dress than a summer dress. It's 67% cotton/28% polyester/5% spandex, which is a bit hot in black, especially walking along sunny roads to church. But hey, it worked.

This dress is a bit looser on me than on the model. It looks better on her than it does on me, but I knew this was likely to happen, and it still looks fine (I think so, anyway). I have such narrow shoulders that RTW clothes are always looser on me. And of course, my shoulders are different heights anyway.

My favorite thing about this dress is that it has pockets! I have very few dresses with pockets, but I'm a bit of a pocket addict.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I spent the last week camping without electricity. Since I hand sew as little as possible, I didn't get any sewing done at all. I did bring an embroidery project, but it was just too dirty and muddy and rainy and wet to think about bringing out something that couldn't be thrown in the washing machine.

I am leaving again next Sunday (this I don't mind announcing in advance, as the house will still be occupied), and between then and now we have a graduation party to prepare for and a houseguest coming. In other words, I think it is semi unlikely that I will be doing much sewing. Sorry. I will try to schedule some posts for next week, though.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Musings on dressing nicely

I've often felt like I have to choose between ease and comfort and looking nice. If I thought I could pull it off, I'd wear my nicest clothes every day. The reason I don't? There are a couple.

The first is that not all of them are practical. Canoeing and portaging in a muddy river while wearing a long skirt? Not really possible or practical. I've played soccer in a short skort and ballet flats, and while it is possible, I wouldn't recommend it.

The second issue is that I often feel like I stick out if I wear nicer clothes. If, for example, I wear a skirt to the youth group I regularly attend, I stick out. A couple of girls wear skirts occasionally, but they're usually much shorter than the ones I wear. I also tend to prefer dresses to skirts, and somehow a dress tends to look nicer than a skirt.

The third issue, and I think the major one, is comfort and ease. Let's face it, if you wake up late and you have a lot of work to do, I would bet your first thought isn't Hmm, let's see what awesome outfit I can pull together. If you're anything like me, it's Hmm, where's a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt? I hear that this problem can be avoided somewhat by laying out tomorrow's clothes before you go to bed, but I never remember to actually do that. My love of dresses actually helps me out a bit here--it's much easier to pull on a dress than to find a skirt and shirt that match in both color and style.

I think the way to fix this problem is to go gradually. It's not like I want to be dressed drastically nicely. I'd just like to be a step up from jeans and a T-shirt. I've started buying and making nicer clothes. T-shirts from the craft store are cheap, yes, but they're not good quality, they're not very flattering on me, and they don't look very nice. I am also planning to make a few knit dresses, so I'll be able to pull one over my head and run to class or wherever. If most of my clothes are nice, it's harder to wear something not-nice.
I also wore some nicer clothes last week, to see if I did, in fact, stick out. If I did, no one mentioned it. In fact, the only comments I got on my clothing were two compliments (on different days and different dresses). This makes me feel much more confident about wearing nicer clothes. I think I pay much more attention to myself than other people do. :P

As far as practicality goes, I think I use that mostly as a cop-out, honestly. It's not like I'm likely to need to take a canoe trip without warning. Most things I do can be done in skirts easily, or with a very little practice. The only things that come to mind that you really can't do properly or safely in a skirt are heavy construction and the aforementioned canoe trip. Some things, like bike riding, are harder, but still not that difficult--the key is to wear a wide skirt and make sure you're sitting on the back of the skirt so it doesn't drag on the wheel.

(Please, let me add here that I don't think wearing jeans and a T-shirt is sloppy or lazy. I feel not-at-my-best when I wear that kind of clothes, and I tend to dress down when I'm feeling lazy. That's why I would like to dress more nicely. This post and the comments about clothes in it apply to me. I do not think the less of you if you wear jeans and T-shirts and sweatshirts.)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I follow the crowd... I've joined the Trench Sew Along! This is a community blog on Wordpress, and I'll be posting there under the name of sophiemiriam, because Wordpress does not allow capital letters in their usernames. This really bothers me, but what can't be cured must be endured, so I will just have to suck it up.

I currently have a post pending over there. I *think* that whoever set up the blog has to okay all the posts for them to go through, but I'm not 100% sure about that. Hopefully I'm not supposed to do anything to make it go through. (Can you tell I'm used to Blogger? Haha.)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Playing catch-up

(Apologies in advance for any typos in this post. My keyboard is not behaving--my "n" key and my "u" key and my spacebar are all sticking. Sorry!)

I finished my Jalie 2908 stretch poplin jeans. They're okay. The hips fit well (after literally an hour tweaking the fit), but the waistband doesn't. It fits perfectly at the bottom and then gaps out at the top. This can be fixed with some tucks or darts in the front of the waistband, I think. However, what really bugs me about the waistband is that it looks like it's way too tight, even though it isn't. Partly, I think this is the zipper, which is weirdly put in, but it's also the button, which is very crooked for some reason. Oh well. At the risk of sounding lazy, I probably won't lose too much sleep over this, since my shirts cover my waistband anyway. This picture shows how the waistband manages to gap out and look too tight at the same time:

Teresa's first pair is coming along nicely. In an effort to make the waistband look less tight, I overlapped the front edges over the zipper more. See?
Hmm, that picture stinks. Maybe you don't see. Oh well.

My favorite part of Teresa's jeans is the pocket lining. I cut it out of some blue button fabric which would have been cute without the fabric's history. What makes the fabric special, though, is that our mother sewed Teresa a pair of shorts out of the same fabric when she was little. I was so pleased when I found the scraps. Now Teresa will have a pair of jeans that reminds her simultaneously of me and of Mama.

In something sort of sewing related, I won a blog giveaway! Andrea from Invisible Flower was giving away a skirt. I got it in the mail yesterday, and it fits very nicely. She also threw in four patterns, all of which I love! Thank you, Andrea! I doubt I can take a photo of the skirt that looks better than the one she took, so I'll just link to the giveaway post. Isn't it pretty?

Oh, and last but not least--I actually have a good excuse for my lack of posts recently:

Friday, June 4, 2010

Thoughts on clothes

I'm trying to organize my clothes and plan for college. This isn't really sewing related, but tangentially it is.

I have three pairs of pants, namely one pair of jeans, one pair of black twill pants, and one pair of black poplin pants. I have one pair of shorts, which I wear once a year for cleaning out our pond. I also have a pair of "work jeans" with paint marks and glue on them, and a pair or two of sweat pants. I also have my karate gi pants.

I am really lacking in the shirts department, I know. About a year ago, I realized I barely had any shirts. My stunningly creative way of dealing with this problem was to go to the craft store and buy several T-shirts. Yes, those uni-sex shapeless things that are basically dyed undershirts. We all have our problems. Mine are my shirts.

I have a lot of skirts, but many of them don't really work for day-to-day wear. The ones that do are a black knit ankle-length skirt (that can double as a dress), a white and black skirt that hits just below the knee, a blue linen skirt about the same length, a blue corduroy skort, and (for the days I really feel like pushing the envelope) a floor-length knit skirt made out of pink, purple, black, and white squares cut from T-shirts. (Examples of skirts that aren't day-to-day wear include a long black velvet sheath skirt.)

Meh. (I've been saying that a lot lately.) A lot of my sweaters are getting old. I could probably use a few more of them.

I have nice dresses. I really do. I have three dresses I can wear on a fairly normal day--a flowered sleeveless one, the Simplicity 6699 I just finished, and a brown shirt dress from Kohl's, which is shorter than most of my other skirts and is therefore a bit more casual than the other two. I also just ordered another dress from Lands' End. (The thought of sewing that many buttonholes gave me a headache.)

I have a pair of black ballet flats, two pairs of slides (black and brown), a pair of workboots (which double as hiking boots, canoeing boots, and anything-else-that-might-get-messy boots), and one pair of knee-high boots, which are brown. Because of some undiagnosed walking abnormality, I rip every shoe I wear to pieces. For real--I think my longest lasting shoe since I went through puberty has been one year. Because of this problem, combined with my strictly limited budget, I have to wear cheap shoes. (Yes, I have tested--the high price/quality shoes fall apart just as fast as the cheap ones.)

Other clothes:
I'm pretty sure I have more fancy clothes that a college student really needs. I have more pajamas than anyone needs. I have a bathing suit, a bathrobe, many hats, and I'm blanking on other categories. Except underwear, but I feel no need to discuss my underwear on the internet.

So why am I posting this? Because it's your turn to chime in. What do you think I need to buy, or, if you think I can make it, do you have any pattern recommendations? This question is directed at anyone with an opinion--you do not have to have gone to college. It would be immensely hypocritical of me to limit opinion-giving to only those people who know what they are talking about, after all! So, ready, set, opine away!

(Now watch this post not get any comments at all..... :P)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

May wrap-up

In May, I finished six sewing projects. The first one was A's prom dress. I'm still on the look out for photos of it in action, by the way. I feel a bit cheater-ish, counting this as one of May's projects, since I did the vast majority of the work in April, but I figure it all evens out in the end, especially since I have a project that was done 98% in May which I'll count as part of the June wrap-up.

The second project was pajamas for B. I drafted this pattern myself, and it turned out pretty well.

The third project was Simplicity 2690. Since I posted about this, I took the shoulder seams in a bit, which makes the shirt less floppy. Next time I think I'll just cut a 6 in the bust.

Fourth was New Look 6807. I am quite pleased with this shirt and will probably make it again at some point.

Fifth was pajamas for B's doll. Sigh. Let's say they eventually worked out and leave it at that.

Last but not least was my seersucker dress from New Look 6699. I like this dress a whole lot. I think I should have made the center front a little bit narrower, but it's okay. I may well wear this dress to my graduation party.

This wasn't a great month, but I did knock several projects off my to-do list. I'm pretty sure I added a good deal more, though. Oh well.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Me-Made May is over!

Well, it's June 1st, and Me-Made May is officially over. Call me a loser, but I don't feel like I learned anything. Well, I know that I haven't sewn myself anything close to an entire wardrobe. Does that count?

For those who wish to participate in this type of thing, Zo at So, Zo (the crator of Me-Made May) has created Self-Stitched September. (Quite honestly, this much planning ahead scares me. September? That's in, like, four months!) I may or may not participate--to a great extent, this will depend on my classes and schedule next year.

I've been doing a little sewing, but not much at all. I had no idea how much of my sewing was prompted by my music audio course I was taking last year. I need to find an audiobook or something to get myself going. I hope to finally finish my jeans today.

Also coming up is an inventory of all my clothes. Start thinking about what clothes you think a college student needs, because I will be asking for your opinion! I also fully expect that the answer will be "more of everything!" as that tends to be my mother's response.

Since all of my last posts have been pictureless, I'll post a picture of the garden. This is actually a picture from last year, but plants look the same, right? The first picture is Swiss chard, the second is a tomato flower, and I'm pretty sure the last one is a pepper of some sort. Or maybe it's a bean. I actually have no idea. The leaves look like bean leaves, but I don't recall flowers like that on the beans. Oh well.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

How irritating

Well, I got Teresa to try on the wearable muslin I made for the J2908 jeans. Sadly, they're a little bit too tight for her, so it won't be quite as easy as I had hoped to whip up two pairs of jeans for her. That's okay, though, because I really do want them to fit right.

In non-sewing related news, our garden is coming along nicely. We have peppers, tomatoes, basil, oregano, Swiss chard, beets, mint, lavender, thyme, sage, a few leeks, and I think there's something else, but I forget what. Also, Teresa and I have been granted permission to take the canoe out alone on the Patuxent River. Also, I am officially a high school graduate. In other words, although I haven't been sewing much, life around here is good.

Friday, May 28, 2010

I'm just not feeling it

Sorry guys. I know I've been falling down on the sewing and blogging front. I'm exhausted, my next sewing step is hemming pants (shudder) and quite frankly, my current sewing project isn't that interesting. I've been working on the Jalie 2908 jeans pattern. There are rave reviews of this pattern all over the blogosphere, but honestly, I'm not feeling it. After sewing up my wearable muslin, I had to alter essentially everything except the legs. I altered the crotch seam and the waistband. My last pair of pants, one from Burda Young Style, didn't need nearly that much alteration. In fact, I made them before I learned to alter, and all I did was put some buttonhole elastic in the waistband. The hips fit fine. I am extremely tempted to frankenpattern the Jalie legs (which have a much nicer shape) onto the Burda hips and waist. Of course, this will take a little bit more alteration, because the Jalie jeans call for a stretch denim and the Burda doesn't, but I think it's probably less effort overall.

I feel like the Jalie pattern is just a little bit big around the hips and it might fit if I could make it a size smaller, but there's a pretty large gap between the R (which I cut out) and the Q. The difference in the hip measurement is around 2.5 inches, I think. That would be too small, I think.

Have any of my readers ever sewn pants? Got any tips to pass on? My first pair of pants worked so well, but my second was a total disaster, and now this third pair isn't working very well either. Why do I always run into problems when I try to branch out? *sigh*

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I'll take that as a compliment...

Yesterday, we had door to door salesmen come and try to sell us "high-quality, extremely cheap" meat, which was still far far more expensive than what we usually buy. TH wanted to know, once they had gone, why we didn't buy the meat, if it would normally cost $250 and they were selling it for $140. I used the analogy of clothing stores--a pair of jeans which is on sale at J. Crew, for example, is still way way more expensive than a pair of jeans at Kohl's, and if you can only afford clothes from Kohl's, it doesn't make sense to buy the "cheap" jeans from J. Crew. I then added that I actually did have one pair of pants from J. Crew, but that I'd gotten them from a thrift store. He asked, "Oh, are those the ones you're wearing?"

I was actually wearing a pair of jeans I made myself. Now, I can't *really* take it as a compliment, since the kid's never been in J. Crew, or any other high end store, and knows nothing about fashion. ("Oh, come on, this is church appropriate--the hole is really small!") But hey, I've never had anything I've made compared to anything as expensive as J. Crew, so I'll go with it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I've joined Sew Retro

Those of you who read Sew Retro, look for posts by me! I've joined their list of contributing members. My introductory post is here. If you don't read Sew Retro, I would recommend that you start now. This is a fantastic blog. Anyone can post, as little or as often as they like--it just has to be about retro sewing. Some people (like me) are occasional dabblers in vintage patterns, and others are astoundingly talented seamstresses who wear vintage fashion on a day-to-day basis.

In my own sewing related news, I haven't been sewing much lately. I am in the last week of school, with only one essay left, but I have some videos (history lecture videos, not just for fun videos) to catch up on. And while I am not terribly weak, I do draw the line at dragging my sewing table downstairs to the study every day and then back upstairs again. So instead of sewing, I've been working on an embroidery kit I was given for my 12th birthday or something which I *cough*stillhaven'tfinished*cough*.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Finished dress photos!

So, here are the photos of the finished dress on me. Photos are courtesy of my little sister H. Please excuse the background--our back yard is primarily functional, and as such, I had a choice between the basketball hoop, the trampoline, the vegetable garden, the compost heap, or the chainlink fence and the neighbor's yard.

First of all, a full length shot:

Next photo shows the slight fitting issue that I didn't notice until it was too late: the bodice front is slightly too wide, and it wrinkles and gaps a little bit if I don't stand perfectly straight:

You can also see the tiny pucker in the front of the skirt, but that was just a little tuck I accidentally sewed in there and didn't fix--it's hardly noticeable in real life, due to the busy print.

I'm very glad I underlined the skirt. I really did it for modesty reasons, but I love the slight stiffness the skirt has. It doesn't spin terribly well, since it's not very full, but H did manage to get a pretty good spin photo, which I will post because of my obsession with spinning photos.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I'm done!

Well, my goodness. Hand picking zippers is a pain in the rear! New Look 6699 has turned out beautifully, though. I haven't got any pictures, as I only finished it recently, but it really looks just the same as it does in this post. I am really looking forward to bringing this dress on vacation this year, since seersucker travels pretty well. I'm especially looking forward to wearing it at Princeton. I think it will fit in nicely with the gorgeous buildings there.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

New Look 6699

I'm almost done! I have half the hem and the zipper to do. I decided to hand-pick the zipper, as I have trouble with invisible zippers. I think my zipper foot is a bit too wide--it does say on the instructions that you need their special zipper foot for a proper zipper installation.

This dress is quite fitted, and it's making me realize how pathetic my dress maker's dummy is. It's wider than I am in the shoulders and bust, which is where I have most of my fitting issues. Plus it doesn't have a stand, so I have to awkwardly prop it against the wall, which is bad for taking photos of things with skirts. (Case in point: photo to the left.) However, I don't know that getting a replacement is practical either. I figured out today that my shoulders are different heights. Getting a dummy that reflected that would mean getting a custom made one, which is far out of my budget. I've been toying with the idea of making a duct tape dummy, but I'm not convinced I could do a good job of that.

I didn't alter this pattern much at all. I cut my usual mish mash of an 8 at the bust, a 10 at the waist, and a 12 at the hips. I took a little width out of the upper back while installing the zipper to make the fit tighter, but I think I may have deviated from the pattern to do that--the pattern envelope calls for three inches of ease, which I thought didn't look so nice with this style.

The bodice of this dress is interestingly constructed. There aren't any bust darts or anything like that, just the gathers you can see in the photo on the right. This works quite well for someone like me, but I think someone with a fuller bust than I might have an issue with the pattern as drafted. I'm quite sure this isn't drafted for the standard B cup, anyway.

Also, just because it's funny, I'm showing you a picture that shows how slanted the neck of this dress is on my dummy. I find it highly amusing that I never noticed how off my shoulders were from each other before. Sewing has taught me so much about how incredibly oddly shaped I am!

I think this dress is just bordering on the too childish. I think the print combined with the ruffles is pushing the envelope a bit. While I don't have a problem with "childish" clothing, being an 18 year old who regularly gets pegged as being somewhere between the ages of 12 and 15 has its disadvantages, so I try to stay away from outfits that make me look even younger than I am. The skirt (which you can't see properly in any of the photos) is a nice classic A-line which rescues the dress from being all together childish, though. On the whole, I'm very pleased with this dress, and barring any disasters in the zipper and the hem, I'm pretty sure this will become a wardrobe staple.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Quick update

It's late, and I'm tired, so today's update will be quick.

I am still working on NL 6699, and it's coming along nicely. So far I've found a slight error in the pattern--there are instructions for putting a slit in the back of the M skirt, but the necessary marking aren't on the pattern piece and the line drawings don't show a slit. So I skipped it. It's easier without it anyway.

I am racking my brains right now to come up with some hand sewing projects, since I will be out of town a lot this summer. (Habitat trip, philosophy camp, two family vacations, and a trip to drop my sister off at college. Yikes!) I can't think of one that will take a long time and still be compact, though, so I may just bring some embroidery. Anyone have any suggestions?