January 28, 2012

Best Laid Plans....

So I do actually have some sewing done; I’ve only got the bottom hem left on B5644, but I ran out of matching thread.  What I do have is an accidental vintage machine acquisition.  I’d heard good things about vintage machines, but right now the budget had no room for anything like that.  Also I haven’t had anything yet that my Brother just couldn’t handle.  But there was a definite draw.  So when I saw on Swap.com someone in Madison that was just giving away a 70’s Kenmore, no strings attached, you know I was all over it.  
My new (old) Kenmore 1227

 It even came with the original manuals, and two additional feet.
I've tried sewing on it for a bit, and the stitches form just fine.  But the darn thing is so loud!  I can't tell if it's just the way it is or if it is grinding; a bit more investigation is needed. If nothing else, it's pretty to look at.  Has anyone else had experience with this series of machines? 

January 20, 2012

Amazing What Just a Little Mojo Will Do…

      After the sad discovery of the plum linen being too small for a full skirt, last night I went deep stash diving to find something else appropriate.  I found…something.  It will either turn out awesome or completely ridiculous.  The fabric was free, so nothing really lost.  Unfortunately, the new fabric hadn’t been prewashed, and all the washers were full last night.  No big deal, it happens.  But I was still home alone with a couple hours to kill.  So I just casually went to check if I had a different pattern that called for linen.  A couple hours later, I had Butterick 5644 completely cut out and ready to assemble.  I surprised even myself; the sewing bug bit me hard.
From butterick.mccall.com

      The problem with this new development is that where before I could at least attempt to keep my mind on work at work most of the time, now all I want to think about is sewing.  Grad school is very self-motivated on a day-to-day basis; no one really keeps track of anything you do until it’s to the “oh crap, I have nothing to show for the last month” point.  (I exaggerate, but only slightly.)  So if I really would rather be reading sewing blogs instead of trying to figure out exactly how a certain molecule is oriented in 3D, I can.  Or, for instance, write a blog post at work about how much I’d rather be at home sewing.  I can do that too.  Dangerous, slippery-slope territory, my friends.  But I’m enjoying the sewing bug too much to get TOO worked up about it.  Now back to that darn molecule…

January 19, 2012

Lesson Learned #1: Account for Shrinkage

      I’m sure everyone was waiting with bated breath to see if I actually hauled my tuckus out of bed for a half hour of sewing time this morning.   I'm proud to say I did, after a  slow start.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that I get to start a new series of posts on this blog called “Lesson Learned.”  This goes along with the general theme of turning mistakes into learning opportunities.  It’ll also help keep me from being so ticked about  if I can laugh at myself a little.  It’ll also be a reminder for later of just how far I’ve come.  And when I inevitably make some of the same mistakes, I can just reference “LL #7”.

     So this morning, I hopped spryly out of bed (read:rolled out of bed and groaned) and got started on my skirt.  I had cut the pattern pieces out last night, so I pressed my pattern pieces, pressed my beautiful plum colored linen, laid it all out to get ready to cut, and saw this:
The kitty rolled on it when I went to get the camera - I promise it wasn't that wrinkled before...

      That’s right, my piece of fabric had shrunk enough widthwise that I couldn’t fit the front piece on.  “No problem,” I thought.  I’ll make a center front seam and cut that way.  At which point I realized the fabric had shrunk enough lengthwise that I wouldn’t be able to do that.  I was just SOL.  I checked my immediate stash for something else appropriate (even if I couldn’t make the perfect skirt, I would still like to make one).  No luck.  I will be deep stash diving in the storage unit tonight, but if nothing comes up there, the pleated skirt will be postponed until further notice.  At which point I'm not really sure what I'll work on next.  But whatever it is, I know now that I need to end up with the amount of yardage on the envelope AFTER pretreating.  Lesson learned.

January 18, 2012

A Possible Deadline?

        First, a confession.  I spend a lot of my blog reading time being jealous of people that have fabulous places to go, and therefore a reason to make fabulous dresses.  Madison has plenty of awesome places to go, but generally I have neither the time nor money to go there. But next week is Restaurant Week, during which time the fancy restaurants offer a three course meal for $25 per person.  It’s become a  tradition among some of the chemistry girls to go every time (there’s one in the winter and one in the summer) and treat it as a fabulous night out.  This year we have reservations for the 23rd of January, which for those keeping track, is less than a week away.  Now I know that I’ve got absolutely nothing appropriate in my closet for this occasion.  I’ve had plenty of ideas of things I could sew, and yet absolutely nothing has been done about it.

        Even now, I’m deluding myself that well, maybe I could finish a skirt if I work all day Sunday….and I don’t have to muslin it…and it ends up looking good…   This mentality is really putting a cramp in my style, because I need to just go out and buy something.  I’ve established that I balk at deadlines and am not motivated by them at all.  Yet my desire for a well-fitting garment discourages me from RTW. Did anyone else hit this point during their sewing days, where you don’t have enough time/skills to sew what you want but still can’t bring yourself to buy RTW?  

       No matter what happens, it’s not like I’ll be going to dinner naked.  Something will work.  But this seems like a good reason to try an enforced sewing time. (I told you I always get suckered into some sort of New Year nonsense…)  During long tedious tasks in the lab, I’ve been making my way through the Sew Forth Now podcasts, and Lori constantly mentions how much you can get done just by getting up a half hour earlier.  I’m at my best in the mornings, and I have previously tried to get some sewing done before work.  But without designating a specific time, I end up doing things like loading the dishwasher instead.  So I now declare that 6:30 – 7 am is now sewing time, and only sewing time.  If I stick to this and start tomorrow (with a little bit of sewing at night), I might actually be able to finish my Butterick 5285 in time to wear to Restaurant Week.  If not, oh well.  Wow, I didn’t think I had this much to say today…better get back to work! 

January 11, 2012

So simple, yet so satisfying...

I know what you’re thinking.  It’s a black knit shirt (that's a little twisted in the pic-I promise those weird wrinkles aren't always there).  Whoop dee friggin’ doo.  But don’t you see?  It fits! This is the first piece of clothing I’ve made that I can really say fits!  That’s not to say there’s nothing I would change about it, but the major things are there.  No pulling across the boobage: check.  Bust darts actually pointing to the right place? Check.  For once in my life, a shirt that’s actually long enough for my freakishly long torso? Checkity check!  Since the last iteration of this top, I added yet another inch to the length, for a total of 3” from the original, kept the FBA with bust dart from the last one (is it weird to use bust darts in knits?), but moved the end of the dart down to my actual bust point.  There are only a  couple more tweaks I need to do before I can officially declare this an absolute TNT, but it is well on its way.  More importantly, my wardrobe is slowly but surely accumulating replacements for all the ratty  old t-shirts I normally wear to work.  I keep telling myself that this is the perfect time to be making less-than-perfect, learning curve clothes because they’re all going to get holes in them anyway!

Remember when I said my next project was going to be a skirt?  That was before I cleaned the pile of junk off my sewing table and realized I had all the pattern pieces cut out for Simplicity 3956, so I’m going to try to at least muslin the bodice for that before I stray to something else.  I make no guarantees, however.  It’s my hobby, I can stray if I want to….  

I’m loving reading everyone’s new goals for the New Year.  Every year I try not to get too hyped up   about New Years, because I’m a big believer in trying to improve something little every day, rather than make grand resolutions and no progress. Every year, I get suckered in.  There just is such an air of renewal that I can’t help it.  Time to get sewing!

January 7, 2012

A Small Dilemma...

So, inspired by some Project Runway watching (I just happened to start getting Season One through Netflix, AND Lifetime has full episodes of the All-Stars on their website), I got some serious mojo going and am only a few hems away from finishing the Kwik Sew 3338 that’s been on my table forever.  I’m ready to start  my next project, which I want to be Butterick 5285 in a purple linen:

The problem is, I can’t decide which (if any) would look good on me.  I originally wanted to do View D with the knife pleats, but the only pictures I’ve seen made up were on girls with no hips or tummy.  Whereas I have a 13” difference between my waist and hips.  Does anyone have experience with this style of skirt?  Would I just spread the pleats and look even worse?  I didn’t think something like View A would be good; I don’t want to add tons of fabric right at my widest point.  I didn’t really consider View B because box pleats just never excite me the way other pleats do, but if it would look better?  Or do girls like me just not get to wear full skirts?  I’m so conflicted….any advice?

January 5, 2012

A Little Light Reading...

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope everyone had a great holiday season, but as usual I’m almost relieved to be getting back to a normal routine again.  Personally, I had a fabulous holiday, complete with over a week of days off due to not going home for Thanksgiving.  So to the burning question: did I sew anything fabulous with all these days off?  Of course not!  I didn’t finish a thing.  Instead, I spent my days watching Barney and playing absurd amounts of ring-around-the rosie with my 3-year-old niece, and I don’t regret a minute of it.  Some things are more important than sewing.  

Which isn’t to say that I didn’t think about sewing at all.  Between Santa, bookstore gift cards, and the generosity of Karen of Sewing By the Seat of my Pants, I had plenty of sewing related reading to do.  Can you guess what my New Year’ s goal is? 

Now that things are settling back down a bit, I find myself really wanting to sew.  I’m at the point (finally) where my Sunday Joann’s trips have yielded a solid stack of about 5 or 6 projects for which I have at least the main fabric and the pattern, so I can at least start on all of them.  So now it's time to stop talking and start sewing!