March 14, 2014

Vogue 8670

Yet again, I needed something easy to break up working on the steampunk costume. This is a new pattern to me, and according to Vogue it is a "close-fitting, straight, below hip top". It's a pretty basic raglan sleeve tee pattern.  I made view C, which has a scrunchy turtleneck collar and long sleeves.  Of course, the weather is starting to warm up finally, but I'll get a little wear out of it yet.

This is also a stashbusting project. For financial reasons, I'm sewing completely from stash, and it's very likely I can sew all year with what I have right now.  This particular fabric was a tube knit that just barely fit all the pattern pieces, so there are no leftover chunks to figure out what to do with.  It's also a lot heavier and nicer than the crappy polyester knits I usually use, so I know I'll get a lot of wear out of it.

For doing absolutely no pattern adjustments whatsoever, I got really lucky with the fit on this.  Esepcially after looking at the pictures, I can see that the fit is definitely much looser than intended (considering the neck is supposed to be a regular turtleneck, not a funnel) but it works for me.  Big 4 sizing strikes again, but now I at least have a starting point, and I love that it's nice and long out of the envelope.

I'd like to say that after this, I'm going to power through and finish the steampunk coat without any other projects in between, but I think at this point that would just be dishonest.  I'll try to work on it some more (have I mentioned lately how much I hate gathers?), but I've already got another few easy projects stewing as possible things to cut out next.  Actually finishing this is such good motivation, I'd rather run through a bunch of fun easy projects and enjoy myself than tackle something crazy complicated and get stuck.
All that was left of the fabric after cutting - I'd call that stash-busted!

March 4, 2014

Real Life Hits Home...

Fair warning: this post is only tangentially sewing related.

My boyfriend got laid off yesterday, out of the blue.  This still leaves us better off than many people (and thank goodness we just got tax returns), but the grad student salary is designed to barely support one person, let alone two people and two cats. He has a lot of good experience on his resume now, but there still just aren't that many jobs out there.  I have faith that he'll do whatever he needs to do to keep us going, but it hurts my heart to see him so stressed out when this was no fault of his.

Of course, this obviously means no spending money on anything except necessities, which of course includes fabric.  Hopefully necessity proves to be the mother of invention and I come up with some beauties from the stash that I wouldn't have otherwise created.  I've got about $5 left on a JoAnn's gift card from Christmas, and that's my sewing budget for the foreseeable future.

Luckily, this has really put things in perspective for me about what is really important.  If it came down to it, I'd sell all my sewing supplies in a hot second to keep everybody warm and fed (and warm is not cheap this winter!). As much as we drool over huge fabric stashes and fancy machines, there are things that are far more important, and once we get back on our feet, I think I'll be diverting some of my sewing budget to provide for those that don't have the basics.  It's amazing what a little perspective can do.

Besides, I wouldn't be a real twenty-something if I didn't have to exist on ramen for a while, right? Right. :) Hope everybody's staying warm!

January 16, 2014

Renfrew #4

I think this is my fourth Renfrew, and I'm pretty sure I've finally gotten this pattern out of my system.  I love the way the side seams are drawn, and the ease of the band finish on hem and sleeves, but to really make it my best t-shirt pattern, I need a serious FBA and a couple inches of length in the torso.  I might go back and play around with my altered Kwik Sew pattern instead.

Of course my photographer didn't tell me that the hem band was flipped up.  Geez.
    I hadn't tried the 3/4 length sleeve on this pattern yet, and I'm not thrilled with where it sits on me. It's more like a 1/2 sleeve.  I also don't know why I keep trying to do the V neckline on terribly flimsy crappy polyester knits.  One day, I will use up all the crappy fabric I have and will be able to buy beautiful cotton jersey or something that will actually stand up to making a nice V.  I almost scrapped this project with how the neckline turned out, but I remembered what Lladybird said about finishing every project, so I soldiered on.  Once it was all put together, I decided it wasn't quite as hideous as I thought, though it is still a pretty flimsy material.

  Regardless, it filled the role of letting me finish something easy to cleanse my palette and get me ready to go for Round 2 with the Steampunk Monstrosity.  This is how it looks right now (the white part is the stuffed bra on the dressform :)

It looks like a lot of progress, but I'm only on step 16 of 32!  I may need another easy project before that's done...I'm thinking another Simplicity 1888 skirt?  Better get the BF cutting it out! ;)  (I swear, I don't use him as a cutting slave.  He really is nice enough to offer so that he can enable me to do something that I love in the limited free time I have....I'm a lucky girl.)

I also may have wasted a little bit of time playing around with this bad boy...

That is a Janome Harmony 2049 that I found in a box by the dumpster a week or so ago.  It looks like someone lovingly disassembled it (this picture is after I got the main part of the plastic casing put back together) and saved all the screws and everything, then just gave up on it.  It turns on, but the needle doesn't go through a full range of motion.  I'll probably give it my best shot to get it working, then decide if I want to invest the time to send it in to get fixed.  According to Pattern Review, these are a solid basic machine, and depending on what's wrong, it would still probably cost less to get it fixed than it would to buy a new backup machine.  I hear good things about Janome machines, so we shall see.

Halfway through January with one piece of clothing completed is a good place to be. The more I sew, the better I feel about everything else, which makes me want to sew more. Here's to more sewing!

January 11, 2014

"I Just Can't Quit You"

So remember the part where a while I said I wasn't blogging anymore because I didn't have enough time and I really couldn't invest the emotional energy to do this?  Well, forget I said that.

What's changed? A few things.  For one, I've more or less got my head back on straight.  I'll be honest, the last few months of 2013, I was in a really bad place mentally.  Grad school is more a test of grit and drive than anything else, and I was dismally failing.  Even after I came back from going home for Christmas, the first day back felt like my own personal circle of hell.  I decided I couldn't live this way, and actively changed my outlook, and so far it seems to be working.  Things that would have sent me into a days-long downward spiral a few months ago can be looked at more objectively, and I can really choose to be okay with them.

The new year is full of inspiration for everyone, of course, so I've really gotten back on the sewing horse hardcore.  I'm really trying to follow the tips that Lauren lays out in this post, and in combination with all the things I've learned lately on how to trick yourself into forming good habits, I've done some amount of sewing every day of 2014 so far (No, this may not be a big deal for some people, but it is for me.)  The thing that surprised me was that the more I force myself to sew, the more I want to sew.  The more I want to sew, the more I want to share it.  Even when I wasn't blogging, I share things on Craftster, and I'm also the leader of the sewing guild on HabitRPG, but it's just not the same.  As I was working, I was also thinking about what I want to share, or document for myself for next time, and I was sad when I realized I wasn't going to be able to do that.

So moving forward, what's going to be on here?  Whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like it.  I'm relearning how to take control of my life instead of letting my circumstances control me, so if I am only able to publish once every two months, that is okay.  If I keep up my current sewing rate, there will definitely be more finished items to share than in previous years.  I have the additional motivation of knowing I will be moving sometime in 2015, so I really need to sew up some of my stash!

I've got two things currently in progress on my sewing desk: the Simplicity 2172 steampunk coat, which is easily the most complex thing I've ever sewn, and yet another Renfrew top, which I'm using to break up the larger coat project as I need to.  I'm not giving myself any deadline to complete them, but I'm guessing you'll be seeing something before the end of January.  But if not, it's all good. :)  Happy sewing!

October 28, 2013

Doing the smart thing.

This is just a quick one, guys.

Life is getting fast up in here.  Within about a year and a half, I'll hopefully be graduating with my Ph.D., which means now is crunch time.

Crunch time means maybe enough time for sewing, but definitely not enough time for blogging.

For now.

Thank you to everyone who has read or commented on anything I've put up here over the last few years, and you're really the only reason I'm announcing this "indefinite hiatus" as opposed to just letting things fade into oblivion.  Hopefully a little bit of the time I'll save can be devoted to commenting more, and keeping up with all of you, instead of stressing out about what I'm going to post when I have nothing to show.

Yes, I know there are people who only post once a month and are perfectly happy with that.  I'm finding I'm not one of them.  Maybe I'll be able to get back to it and really dig my teeth in down the line, but when I know that this blank white space is up here and unfilled, it's a nagging voice at the back of my head that I really don't need right now.

My sanity thanks you.

I'll still keep up on Craftster (fishstix43, hit me up with a PM) and the email address associated with this blog will still forward to my inbox, if you want to get a hold of me.

But for now, I'm out, yo.  Peace. :)

October 15, 2013

Five Months Later....

So...... these are the pants that would not die.  I took forever to cut the main fabric, then another couple months til I managed to cut the lining, pocket bags and interfacing, and even longer to actually sew any pieces together.  I honestly don't know what my blockage was with these, but I just could. not. get. motivated.  It could be because they're about as basic a garment as you can get - plain khaki trousers - or because I felt guilty about skipping the welt pockets (just couldn't be bothered when I wasn't sure I'd even like the cut of the pants).  For whatever reason, these would not move, and that held up everything else. Usually by the time I get something cut out (the part I hate), I'm so excited to get to the good part (the actual sewing) that I'm on a roll, but not with this one.

Were the results worth the wait? I think so!

They fit! For a first run, I'm pretty happy with the finishing on the outside - I'm especially proud of the fly front.  What I would improve on next time would be the inside.  If you're faint of heart, look away now....

Yikes.  The biggest problem here was that I misunderstood the waistband instructions.  When done correctly, the lining part of the waistband will cover most of the messy insides in here.  It's functional this way (with a few extra tacks to keep some things in place) but it is ugly.  The other thing I'm not 100% satisfied with the back fit.  There's a little bit of lumpiness and it's a little bit crooked, but again, functional. My fabric choice was definitely sub-par, as they don't really have enough heft to keep from wrinkling, but I knew that going in. All in all, these will make perfectly good lab pants, and they definitely have enough room to fit long johns underneath during the winter.

For the next go-round, I've got grey bottomweight fabric that I believe I got from a Craftster swap.  I'll obviously do the waistband correctly, try to further tweak the back, and maybe narrow the legs just a smidge.  We'll see if I get up the gumption to do the welt pockets this time.  Before that, I've got Simplicity 2192 already cut out from when I was going to make it for GenCon (maybe I'll finish before Halloween?) and a Renfrew, because I know I'll need some quick and easy projects in between the stages of that coat.  It's almost 40 steps, I believe, according to the pattern instructions.  It's a big 'un, but it's already cut out, so I need to get it finished and out of my way before I start anything new.  The excitement of planning fall garments will hopefully spur me on to knock it out quickly.  Here's hoping, anyway.

September 17, 2013

Not Dead, Just Busy...

And in the vein of this post, I'm not apologizing for it.  Just sharing.

So since the last time I've posted, here's what went down:
  • 2 weddings
  • 4 glorious days of GenCon
  • Presenting my work at the American Chemical Society national meeting
  • One department picnic successfully organized
  • Made a game-winning play in said department picnic softball tournament
  • Surprised my 4-year-old niece at school
  • Met my now 4-week-old niece!
     In the midst of all this, I maintained my normal 70 hour workweek, picked up another hobby I don't need (the Pokemon trading card game) and just generally ran out of steam for sewing.  However, I started catching up on all the sewing blogs about a week ago, and lo and behold the mojo is back!  As of this weekend, my sewing area is cleaned off (since it's right inside the door, "stuff" accumulates on the table unless I'm actively using it), and my Thurlows only need the waistband and a hem.  Unfortunately a few pieces seem to have disappeared, so this may require some re-cutting of lining bits.  But it's progress.

     Moving forward, I am also going to try really hard to only keep one project on the go at any given time.  At work, I am constantly saying how I have to keep my lab bench organized and everything well-labeled because I am too scatterbrained to keep track of what is where in my head.  The same needs to go for my sewing table, and it's too hard to do that when I've got more than one thing going.  This should also lead to completed projects in a more timely manner, if I'm not starting ten things and never finishing any.  In theory, anyway.  I'll leave you with the most exciting sewing development in my sewing room lately.

The iron situation has now gone from this....

To this!

 It's got heft!  And efficient steam production!  And doesn't leak all over everything!  It's no gravity feed, but it's a significant step up.  Better iron=better looking final projects=more motivation to sew.  More soon!

P.S.  So happy that sweater weather is back!  I hate winter, but I love sweaters!