Thursday, April 29, 2010

What was that about the best laid plans?

Yesterday, we discovered that our washing machine is broken. It had been used for our family of 9 for the past 12 or 13 years--well done, good and faithful servant! But now it is refusing to spin, not only after the rinse cycle, but also after the wash cycle. So all clothes washed in the washer would come out soapy and wet. In other words, we haven't got a washing machine for the time being. We are already in the process of selecting and buying a new washing machine, but for now, we are stuck with the clothes we have clean already.

Now, I was planning to wash and dry my me-made jeans today. They're a major staple of my wardrobe. Without a washing machine, it may be very hard for me to actually wear something hand made every day. I'm a bit worried that I will run out of things I've made! I'll still try, but we'll have to see.

On a positive note, I made a good deal of progress on the prom dress this morning and during the Habs/Caps game last night.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The best laid plans....

Yes, I know, I just posted a list of what the next order of business after the prom dress will be. But I'm changing it. My sister Teresa needs a coat that will block the wind for her to take to Notre Dame with her next year, so I'm going to make her this coat. I'm not sure what collar I'll use yet. While I was browsing coats on the McCall's website, I saw this lovely coat. The green version, with the belt and rose, is to die for, isn't it? I need a lighter coat to wear in the spring and fall anyway, so I decided to get some fabric for this coat along with my seersucker and the fabric for my brother B's PJs.

Well, although seersucker was 50% off at JoAnn's, I really didn't see anything that I felt like buying. Even 50% off, it was still pretty expensive by my (admittedly cheapskate) standards. Besides, most of the prints were quite young-looking, and as an 18 year old who looks like a 14 year old on a good day, I think that wearing a print suitable for a 12 year old would be a bad, bad idea. So I didn't get any seersucker. For my coat, though, I found this lovely fabric, which is a light/medium weight linen:
Isn't it gorgeous? I wish I had taken a picture of it drying on the line--the effect of four and a half yards of it is wonderful. I found pink and black buttons that match quite well.

As an aside, I must say that I was greatly surprised when I checked the size chart on the coat pattern. Apparently I should cut myself a 4, the smallest size in the envelope. I'm generally used to cutting a 10 or a 12 in the Simplicity patterns I inherited from my grandmother. Have McCall's patterns been vanity sized much more than other brands, or have all new patterns fallen victim to vanity sizing? I loved being "large enough" by pattern sizing that it was easy to find patterns for me. Many of the McCall's patterns on the website now don't seem to come in anything smaller than an 8.

For B's pajamas, we bought this animal print:
This is most certainly not what I would have chosen, as it's stiffer than I would like. I am not a fan of animal prints, either. However, this was pretty much the only patterned knit in the whole store that wasn't pink or pastel. Is there really no market for 8 year old boy fabric? I didn't find a PJ pattern I liked, so I think I'll create my own. There are plenty of free shorts patterns out there, and I can trace a T-shirt he likes for the top. I also need to figure out how to make binding for the neck edge, but I know I've seen a tutorial for that somewhere on the internet.

On an unrelated note, I added up how much fabric I have. The total came to slightly over 68 yards, but that includes some remnants and other pieces of fabric that aren't even close to full width. On the whole, I'm okay with that total, although I personally find a stash intimidating rather than inspiring and would like to sew it down some.

Me Made May

I have decided to officially join in with So Zo's Me Made May. Because I haven't got that many casual clothes that I sewed myself, I think I will do the "lite version" and attempt to wear one handmade piece of clothing every day. I am pretty sure that this means I'll be wearing store-bought tops and handmade bottoms, because I don't think I've ever sewed a shirt. Hmm, maybe I should get on that!

I probably won't post what I'm wearing every day, but maybe once a week or so I'll do a round up of what I've been wearing. We'll see.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tidy Tuesday


I have a terrible time keeping my sewing area tidy. I tend to put things down wherever it is most convenient to put them. Add this to the fact that I have little storage and a small room, and things get crowded and messy quickly. I have decided to post a photo of my sewing table once a week in an effort to motivate me to keep it tidy.

I did not really tidy anything up before I took this picture. Usually, though, my current project is sitting on top of my serger. Since this one is the secret prom dress, I took that off and put it on my bed.

If I feel like tidying my sewing area up before taking a picture, I will do so. After all, the point of this is to motivate me to keep my area clean. I wanted today's photo as a default setting, so to speak.

So, without further ado, my sewing table:


Pretty bad, isn't it? You can see, among other things, my water bottle, my hair brush, a tube of mascara, my mp3 player, a pair of work gloves, a bottle of bubble solution, and a ton of other stuff that even I'm not sure what it is. *sigh* My sewing area really is my weakest point.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Pattern organization


I haven't got very many patterns, but most of the ones I do have are vintage and battered. (I realize I'm making myself out to look like a liar with this picture, in which one pattern is brand spanking new and the other is battered, but not very old at all. These patterns aren't typical!) I keep my patterns in two Ikea boxes on a shelf in my room. I have them sorted by category--dresses, skirts, shirts, pants, children's patterns, doll clothes patterns, and accessories. In the white box, I have the first pattern in each category upright to make it easy to see where each category ends. The blue box is too narrow to hold a pattern sideways, so all the patterns in there are upright.

When I decided to sort my patterns out like this, I had trouble originally. A lot of my patterns fit into more than one category, like my Very Easy Vogue 8562 that I mentioned in this post. This pattern is a dress as well as a jacket. I was initially attracted to this pattern for the dress, so I put it into the dresses section and put a photocopy of the pattern envelope into the shirts section, with a note that the actual pattern could be found among the dresses. I did the same thing with all my other patterns, putting them into whichever category I thought I would be most likely to use them as.

Inside the sections, my patterns aren't organized. I have a terrible time remembering pattern numbers, so organizing them by pattern number wouldn't really help, unless I saw a pattern on the internet or in the store and wanted to know if I had it already. But that doesn't happen very often. Besides, I only have about 50 or maybe 75 patterns--it doesn't take that long to pull out all my dresses, say, and flip through them.

As I get more patterns, I'll have to figure something else out, but for now, this works for me!

My serger

Here's my serger, pictured with the blind hem foot my twin sister Teresa gave me last year:

This is a Brother 1034D serger. I got it for free from a friend of my mother's. Someone had thought it was a sewing machine and given it to her daughter, or something. I don't really remember the story in great detail. But I do know it ended with this serger being handed on to me. Technically, it belongs to the entire family, but I use it most and I have already obtained permission to take it to college. So I call it mine.

I will be the first to admit that I don't really know what all this machine can do. I mostly use it for serging my seam allowances on clothes I think will unravel. It is supposed to be able to do a blind hem as well. It probably can, but I have been having a hard time figuring out how exactly it should work. I have the right foot and I think the right settings, but it hasn't worked out quite right yet.

I must admit, I thought I would use a serger more than I actually do. It's a pain to set up, due to the many threads, and although I do try to keep it threaded, it's not that unusual for the machine to unthread itself, at least partially.

My other sewing machine


This is my second sewing machine, a Janome New Home 663. It came to me through FreeCycle, just like the last one. The difference, of course, is that this one works properly. Sadly, its functions are very limited. It can do a straight stitch and a Christmas tree stitch. It should have pattern cams to enable it to do more things, but they had been lost by the time I got the machine, and I haven't found any on eBay or anywhere else on the web.

I like this machine a lot--it's a workhorse. It can sew through multiple layers of denim, which was very handy for sewing jeans. It does have a bit of what I call an attitude problem, meaning that sometimes it just won't sew properly, and I haven't ever been able to figure out any rhyme or reason to when it will and won't sew. Luckily it works most of the time, and when it doesn't, I find the best cure is simply to leave it alone for an hour or two.

In case you're wondering, the machine was threaded with nylon thread when I took a picture of it. I had been sewing white tulle, and I thought nylon thread would be better than white.

My newest sewing machine

I thought I'd do a post about each of my sewing machines. Let me brag for a minute--I have two sewing machines and a serger, and I paid a grand total of $0.00 for the three of them. My two machines came from FreeCycle, and my serger was given to me by a friend of my mother's.

The sewing machine I will introduce to you today is an old Sears Kenmore I just got on Friday. It *cough*doesn'tactuallyworkproperly*cough*, but I have high hopes that all it needs is a deep cleaning. This afternoon I plan to go out to CVS and buy some cleaning solvent.

One of the things I love about this machine is the table it came on. The table is a desk with a flip-top lid, and the sewing machine folds down inside and is covered with the lid. So the table can be a desk, as well as a sewing machine table.

If I buy the right accessories, which seem to be easily available off eBay, this machine is capable of doing a stretch stitch and a zigzag stitch, as well as sewing buttonholes. My other machine needs attachments which I can't find anywhere for these things. That's why I got this machine. It will broaden my sewing capabilities greatly--for example, I tend to avoid things with more than one buttonhole.(Of course, this assumes I can get the machine working properly....)

Enough words! How about some photos:




My apologies for the horrible photo quality. The machine and table are too heavy for me to carry upstairs alone, and as a result they are sitting in the living room, where the lighting is quite poor after sunset, when these photos were taken.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What I'm planning next

I am currently working on sewing a prom dress with a friend. She wanted a prom dress that was $350 or thereabouts in stores, so we found a pattern similar enough and modified it a bit. Now, because prom dresses are generally secrets, or so I am told, I'm not planning to post any pictures of it until the prom is over. So while I'm working on the prom dress, which promises to take a while, I'll probably post about old sewing projects.

For now, though, I'll tell you about some of the dresses I'm planning for after the prom dress.

1. A seersucker dress. I'm planning on using New Look 6699, using options I, J, N, and M. In other words, ruffled straps, smooth front, wide skirt, and sash. Except I'm not 100% sure yet about the sash. Any opinions on whether seersucker with a sash would look odd?

2. A dress, probably made out of a fun cotton print, from a pattern I inherited from my grandmother. The pattern is a vintage Very Easy Vogue, but I forget the number. There are 108 Very Easy Vogue patterns on the Vintage Pattern Wiki, and I just don't feel like trying to scroll through all of them. Next time I go upstairs I'll check.

3. A dress without a pattern. I'm just going to shirr across the top section to make a bodice, and then add straps of some sort. Probably ruffly straps, for modesty's sake--no one in this house is a big fan of bare shoulders.

Those are my three main dresses planned. I've also promised my brother to make him a pair of pajamas for summer and I have the pattern pieces all altered and cut out for a black princess seamed dress. I also have fabric and patterns for two knit tops and a button-down shirt. In other words, I have enough sewing to keep me busy all summer!

Hello and Welcome!

Hi there, and welcome to my blog! A few words before I actually start posting projects:

1. I thought I should explain the title. Fil is French for thread. A means (or can mean) of. Sewphie should be obvious--if not, my first name is Sophie, and I replaced the So with Sew. The entire title makes up the word "philosophy," and anyone who knows me knows I love philosophy. All credit for the blog name goes to my beloved mother, who thought it up. People who know me are probably wondering why there is French in the title, when I speak German and Latin better. The answer is quite simply that I liked the puns.

2. This is a general warning: If you are looking for a blog where close attention is paid to detail and things are done with great care, this is not the right blog. The two phrases I utter most often while sewing are "Oops!" and "Oh well--good enough." My objective when I sew is to make things I enjoy wearing, and I find I can do that without them being perfect. This means I don't fix things that I don't think people will notice. It also means I skip about 90% of the basting!
Same also goes for readers who think that people should be taught to sew correctly, whatever sewing correctly means. Most of my sewing abilities stem from the fact that I am good at following directions. I was taught a little bit of sewing by my mother and then I just decided to branch out. In other words, I sew in a slapdash manner. The majority of my projects have worked out fairly well so far, I think:And yes, I am aware that last sweater is knitted. But I knit (or used to--I don't knit anymore) in much the same slapdash manner I sew in. Plus I thought the picture was cute.