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.