May 30, 2009

Summer Wardrobe, part 1: Mission accomplished.

And as I type that title, I keep hearing it in Kronk's voice after he dumps Kuzko-as-a-llama off the waterfall....without the shoulder angel... now I kind of want to watch The Emperor's New Groove again!

Anyway, look, I have jeans! And they (mostly) fit! In retrospect, this probably wasn't the most brilliant shirt to wear for the photos, because it looks like the jeans are extending up my sides. Ouch. But you get the idea. There are some weird fit issues that I haven't figured out how to resolve yet... need to tweak the pattern some. But for a first pair of jeans, I think they're pretty good, and they still fit better than most of the jeans I own!

And now, on to some of the details...
The waistband/pockets/carriers. Don't like: There is a little bit of gapping around the waistband. And I'm not really sure why it's flaring out at the top. I think to resolve it, I may need to shorten it a bit, or make the rise a bit lower. Leaning towards the latter, since a lot of it seems to be with the yoke in the back. Either that, or I need to recut the pattern altogether and try it as a contoured waistband. And the rivets were a bit of a pain...my dad ended up having to teach me how to nail them in. You can't really see it from here, but on my first two attempts (on this side), the rivet nail actually pierced through the rivet! The rest of them look better, but that's because I'm not the one who nailed them in. :P However, I do like the way the topstitching turned out. The double-topstitching on the carriers was due to the fact that the first row didn't quite catch the serger stitches and it wouldn't have stayed completely flat, but I like the look of it.


Sorry for the butt-shot. This was the best I could do, holding the camera behind me to take the shot. You can see that there's a little bit of fitting weirdness in the back too, but again, it's still better than most of what I have! Guess I need to work on that muslin a bit. I really, really like the way the back pockets turned out, though.

So, in conclusion, while I haven't reached fitting nirvana yet, I think I'm off to a good start, and would be willing to make a second pair. After all, I still need to get that perfect fit!



No pictures yet, but I started a side sewing project today before I finished the jeans, since the weather was perfect for it... making a new set of seat covers for my car. The ones I have in there are completely faded and threadbare and just not looking good. (I make them out of beach towels, and got these last summer, but didn't have time to sew it up.) No actual sewing done on it yet, as it's currently a mass of safety-pinned towel, and I need to trim the seams down and then use it as a pattern for the second seat. (The reason the weather was important was I have to actually sit in the car and cut and pin it around, like a slipcover.)

Also made this week: a "wristy resty thingy", as I dubbed it one night when I was really tired. :P Unfortunately, I'm having a slightly worse phase of carpal tunnel again, mostly induced by a few slow days at the garden center where I spent the whole day working on spreadsheets and stuff instead of ringing things up. Since the keyboard just sits on the counter, I wanted to try and make it a little more ergonomic for me. I basically just took a piece of a long fabric sample I got for free, cut it in half, sewed it into a tube with one end shut, dumped half a bag of the cheapest rice I could find at Acme into it, and sewed it back up. Tried it one day at work so far, and I think maybe it did help a little... hard to tell when they're off in the first place. I made this on Tuesday night.

Finally, another project in the works: it was decided this week that this fall, when my brother moves into the apartment that he'll be sharing with his fiancee after the wedding, I'm going to move into his bedroom. It's bigger than mine by several square feet. My current bedroom is going to be turned into a guest room/teaching space for me, at least until I can afford my own place. So that means that some redecorating is on the horizon. I'm excited about the chance to make some stuff for that, and very excited that I'll be able to have a room large enough that I can have a real desk for my computer! (Right now, my setup is that the monitor sits on this little curved IKEA stool, the actual computer sits underneath it, and the keyboard sits on my lap while the mouse sits on the bed next to me. And I wonder why I have carpal tunnel flareups!) I do need to try to figure out an affordable way to reconfigure the closet, and will probably have to enlist my dad to help me build some bookshelves. I have a lot of books. Right now they're on these fake wooden shelves resting on brackets that screw into the wall...what I've always had. And I've never liked them. So I want an actual bookcase!

May 23, 2009

the jewelry organizer, in progress

I'm glad I was finally able to get this started, since I'd been saying for years that I needed to do this! And it's pretty obvious why...

Yes, this is what my jewelry collection currently looks like. Scary, isn't it? It's frustrating-- not only does it make it impossibly difficult to get the necklaces out that I want, or to find a matching pair of earrings, but I've also had a lot of jewelry that I've broken from having to store them in the two boxes like this and then trying to get them out. And conventional jewelry boxes just don't cut it for me--not enough slots or pegs!.

I've never really been a fancy jewelry girl. I'll gladly take a funky beaded piece of jewelry over an expensive precious gemstone any day. (Ok, I'll make an exception for semiprecious--they often come in the form of funky beads! And two of my favorite necklaces in my collection are moonstone and green amber, respectively.) Honestly, if I ever manage to get engaged, I don't even want a diamond ring. It's just not me--everybody does it, and I like color. (That, and watching Blood Diamond pretty much killed any desire I'd have to own one.) I guess it also helps that I can make the funky beaded jewelry myself! But of course that means I ended up with a lot of it.

Anyway, I finally finished the first "page" of my new jewelry organizer, and here's the pics.
Nothing fancy-- just two rectangles of pieced-together muslin with pockets sewn on, and another strip of muslin sewn on the side with buttonholes to put the rings through. The rings themselves are just cheap binder rings from Staples. I'm going to make a book "cover" at some point with something I can fold over the top to keep those first couple of rows of jewelry in.
And here's the close-up. I'm sorting the necklaces and their matching earrings in the same pocket. I'm going to have a lot of earrings that don't have matching necklaces, and I'm still trying to figure out what exactly to do with them-- I've had an idea in my mind for some time now for an earring tree, but I'll have to see if I can make it work. (Meaning I need to find some wire sturdy enough to build it from, but pliable enough that I can actually bend it.) But I think this is a pretty good start-- I was able to fit nine necklaces on each side! I won't get that many with all the pages, since I'll need to make some with larger pockets for larger pendants or beads. It looks very homemade, but I'm ok with that-- it's kind of charming, I think, and I like the idea that I'm able to use up muslin scraps and mostly used-up spools of thread and bobbins that I'd otherwise be throwing out. (The thread on the bobbins, anyway.) Plus that will make it really easy to keep adding to it-- I'm sure I'm going to have to keep making muslins for garments!

May 20, 2009

Muslins, muslins everywhere...

...and not a finished garment to show for it! Yet.

I cut out muslins for 3 different things in my mini-wardrobe on Saturday-- the jeans 2.0, my pair of shorts, and the bodice for the maxi-dress I wanted to make. (And since I had to find a knit for the dress, that means I'm using up another piece of stash! Ha!) Spent some more time on Saturday sewing the dress "muslin", and worked on tweaking it again this morning-- no band today, so I had a couple hours to sew!

And, well, I'm not sure this dress is going to be happening as originally planned. I'd already raised the neckline a bit, and the front part of the bodice fits really, really well. The midriff part had to be taken in about an inch and a half on each side (which I did after taking these pics), but I'd expected that.

Also expected was that I'd have a bit of trouble with the back, due to the elastic. (And, I'm pretty sure, reading some Pattern Review articles on it.)
I just wasn't expecting this much trouble...good thing I'm wearing the camisole here, because the back is definitely sagging below my bra! And this is with a mere 3 inches or so of fabric sewn to the bottom. I shudder to think of what an entire maxi-dress skirt would do. After these photos, I lopped off about an inch of the elastic (minus seams) and several inches off the back side pieces. Still was sagging. I'm really doubtful that I can modify this enough to support an entire maxi-dress skirt, even with building in a bra. So I'm thinking what I may end up doing instead is to use what's left of the knit and the stuff I got to make the built-in bra to just turn this into a halter top. Would be good for July 4th, if it doesn't clash with my hair too much. And then for the dress, go with a slightly more bra-friendly pattern from my stash. (I'm thinking the bottom right-hand corner with the big print view. At any rate, will make it a faster sewing job, which I kind of need right now. And though I usually don't pay much attention to it, I think the maxi-dress trend is supposed to have passed.)

No pictures of it, but I did sew the jeans muslin 2.0 together. Took some tweaking, probably due to my slightly oddball pattern drafting (masking tape on newsprint), but I'm glad I allowed 1" seams. Taking those down to 5/8" made it fit just about perfectly. The yoke is still a bit off and gapping in the back (and on the sides a bit), but it's close enough that I think I may just cut it like this and then tweak it in the actual denim so I can make it work with any additional thickness.

Also done over the weekend: Using some scraps from that muslin to finish the first section of my much-needed jewelry organizer. I've got 18 necklaces in it so far (9 per side), and it looks like it's going to work pretty well. I'll try to get pics soon.

Also also done over the weekend: I spent Friday afternoon playing with my bamboo scraps and dummy to see what I could come up with for that top. So this is what I currently have pinned to my dummy. The straps are just twisted up scraps that I pinned on to determine what sort of straps-- they won't stay that rough.

Honestly, at this point, I'm kind of torn. I like the concept of it. But there's that tiny nagging part of my brain that wonders if wearing something that looked like this out in public would give off too much of a Tinkerbell vibe?

I guess it would also partially depend on if it would actually fit. There would be a zipper involved, but it would be hard to bring that past the waist at all with this skirt action going on...makes me wonder if I'd even be able to get it on!

So, it stays pinned to my dummy while I ponder all of this.

So I have absolutely nothing that I have to do on Sunday, other than go to church. My evening Bible study and flute orchestra rehearsals are both cancelled due to the holiday weekend. So my plan is to try and get the actual denim for the jeans cut out on Friday or Saturday (we'll see, since I have plans for both evenings!) I'm hoping that my mom will let me borrow one of her extra machines (yes, she has more than one), and that I can find a place to set those up along with my serger so that I can just go assembly-line style--I forget whose blog I read it on (sorry!) but I remember reading something about someone who made a pair of jeans and used two machines so she could just keep the topstitching thread in one and the actual sewing thread in another and not have to keep stopping to rethread the machine. Which is pretty brilliant, I think. If I can do that, and if the fly zipper doesn't give me too much trouble, in theory, I might be able to get these jeans done by the unofficial start of summer!

May 15, 2009

Do I really want to make this list?

(Note as of 5/31: Editing this as I go so I can track what's been done.)

Lots of stuff that needs to get done over the next few months. At least in the sewing department-- this is not even counting any scrapbook stuff (of which I should probably have some more pages ready to assemble by the end of June, since I'll be doing a weekend trip with my two crochet-happy friends, and even though we'll be at the beach, I'm sure the evenings will involve some form of movies and crafting!), or making any jewelry (which I haven't really been able to do for awhile, and still need to sort through my wildly disorganized stash).

Stuff that needs to get done before the end of the summer:
  • The jeans (which I'm currently working on the muslin for, and is for the mini-wardrobe)
  • The blue gauze shirt (for the mini-wardrobe)
  • The ivory knit BWOF shirt (also mini-wardrobe)
  • The print McCall's knit top (mini-wardrobe)
  • The print maxi-dress (mini-wardrobe, and will require a partial muslin for the bodice)
  • khaki shorts (mini-wardrobe, and will require a muslin)
  • sew up the seams on my crochet piece for the shrug thing (mini-wardrobe)
  • Weekender bag from stash fabric (preferably by the end of June so I can use it for said beach trip)
  • curtains for Bethany (long-overdue birthday present, which hopefully we'll get together soon to pick fabric)
  • possibly two kiddie capes (which will be a paid job!)
  • A skirt from my Spoonflower sunflower fabric
Stuff that needs to get done for the fall:
  • The dress for my brother's wedding (which will need a muslin, and which I'm considering changing again by making a flowier skirt to go with the BWOF dress top. She specifically cited Lothlorien as part of the inspiration for her dress, and I'm always more than happy to go with a Lord of the Rings-flow! Would probably work better with the charmeuse anyway.)
  • A shower and possibly a wedding gift for my brother and his fiancee. (And possibly a birthday present for her too, since both of their birthdays are between now and the wedding. I told her I wanted to get her something practical, since they need pretty much everything for their first place. My brother already said he wants cash.)
  • The BWOF 3/07 jacket from that brown embroidered suedecloth (if possible)
  • Probably a pair or two of pants. I'm sadly lacking in pants that both fit and are long enough to really look good with my boots.
Stuff that doesn't need to get done, but that I would like to if at all possible:
  • A pair of summer pajamas, from stash fabric
  • A BWOF blouse from some royal blue crinkly satin that I have
  • Something from this crinkly embroidered teal that I've had sitting around for a year and a half
I probably should have started this several months ago because I desperately need it:
  • That jewelry organizer. Though I can probably work that in as I go. My jewelry stash is an unusable tangled mess!
Good thing I have some weekends coming up where I can stay home for all or part of the day...

May 13, 2009

Summer Wardrobe, part 2 (and an update on part 1)


Well, here it is-- the first completed project in my "Hippie Beach Party" mini-wardrobe! I finished this up on Sunday with a trim off the bottom and a machine-done blind hem, but didn't have a chance to take a picture until today due to work busyness.

As a recap: I made this using my tried-and-true Simplicity 7229, though I lengthened the skirt several inches to make it ankle-length instead of that weird mid-calf. I used this bamboo from Fabric.com, which isn't really as dark as that looks-- it's kind of between that and the rusty brown it looks like in this picture. (When all is said and done, I'm going to have to take some pics of the full wardrobe in natural light for sure!) The results surprised me a little-- both times when I made this skirt before, it was in a much stiffer fabric (a linen and an embroidered twill). The bamboo is much drapier, and as a result, it's much clingier around my hips and thighs. Gives it kind of a mermaid silhouette when I'm wearing it. So not quite hippie, but I guess that fits the beach party part, at least, right?

The jeans update: I'm starting from scratch, kind of. I took a different pair of jeans last night that I realized would work better (not quite as tight and no stretch, and a higher rise) and did the masking tape thing again to make a new pattern. Right now, I have it laid directly on some muslin, which is not cut yet, but am thinking I will lay it on some paper first instead so I can figure out the grainlines and such. But not right now... Lost season finale time, and I can't sew and watch that!

May 9, 2009

Happy sewing day!!

After all of the business going on with me lately, it was so nice to just have a day to do nothing but sewing-related things! (Ok, sewing and laundry-related things. But technically, I sewed some of the things in said laundry, so it counts, right?)

So after taking a look at the denim that I have for the actual jeans, I realized that the flowery denim I've been making the muslin out of is probably too heavy to get an actual idea. So I'm going to make a new muslin out of actual muslin (and then once it's all figured out, transfer it to the flowery denim to use it for the pattern so I don't waste the fabric! Since I can use the muslin for other things.) But I didn't have enough muslin on hand. So what I ended up doing today was making the skirt for my mini-wardrobe in almost its entirety (since it's bias-cut, I have to let it hang before I can do the hem). Then I ran out to JoAnn's with my mom so I could get some muslin, the ribbon for the drawstring, and some trim for another mini-wardrobe component--she needed some stuff there too. (And I ran into my high school flute teacher and her daughter while we were there, which was a pleasant surprise!)

Finished as much of the sewing on the skirt as I could do-- no pics until it's hemmed. And then I started working on this-- I had some rather large pieces of the bamboo fabric left, since the skirt was only four pieces and cut on the bias. So I'm trying my hand at using the leftovers to do some draped designing. This is what I have so far for the front, pinned on the dummy-- I'm hoping to add some lacing to the front center to give it a bit of a corset look. I'm giving it a rest for the night while I think about the dart placement-- I'm leaning towards the bust dart (left) rather than the full-front dart (bottom) because it seems to be laying on the side better.
I'm also hoping to take advantage of the bias-cut lines from the skirt and make the bottom more assymetric--when I had a bunch of it pinned onto the dummy, it looked cool. But we'll see how it is after I get it more pieced together. And this is not going to be strapless-- I'm wanting this to be a more casual top, so there will be straps added! Anyway, I'm hoping I can get it worked out so it looks good, because I like the idea that I can possibly use almost the entire piece of fabric!

May 7, 2009

Mother's Day! and The Fashion Show, 1.1

As I've mentioned on here before, to support my music career habit, I also work part-time at a garden center. So this year for Mother's Day, I told my mom I'd fill her deck planters. (And use my employee discount! And, ok, see if a year of ringing up plants has made my thumb any greener.) So this is what I did after work this afternoon. Not exactly crafty, but sort of creative, right?

She just replaced the busted-up tannish planters with some bright turquoise ones. My mom loves bright colors, and she's also fond of daisy-type plants, so when I saw these orange gerbera daisies at work, I knew they'd be perfect. (Guess that one semester of art-majoring was good for something-- at least I know my color wheel!) I'd asked the annual-perennial manager for advice, and she said the daisies would stay about the same height, but the rest would get taller. So I filled in with some alyssum (the white flowers) and some portulaca (the funky-looking leaves around the side, which are supposed to be a mix of colors and spill over the edge. I remember we used to have those in the garden when I was a kid, and I thought they were pretty cool-- I liked the colors and the spiky leaves!)

Also added one of these-- Mom stopped in at the garden center today while I was at work to pick up some veggie plants, and I'd told her about them before and how insanely cute they are. (They're metal silhouette shapes of fairies on toadstools. In this case, dancing.)

And to continue my garden experiment, I got all excited when I went to work yesterday to discover that we'd gotten in some sunflower plants! Sunflowers are pretty much my all-time favorite flower, and so I couldn't resist taking one of these cute little dwarf plants home for myself. And so after I finished Mom's, I made myself a planter of sorts-- used a leftover cheap plastic perennial pot from Dad's landscaping purchases last year that was in the shed, and put the leftover portulacas around the edge. (I'd overestimated the number of plants I would need to fill the planters-- didn't do so bad on the portulacas, since there were only six plants left at the end, but I have five whole packs of the alyssum left! I hope I can figure out where to put them, because I feel kind of dumb having bought a full flat of 8 when I only needed 3 packs! And that was with probably cramming in more than I should have!)

Anyway, my mom liked it, and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens as more of them bloom.

In other news, being in Project Runway withdrawal until the summer, figured I'd check out Bravo's new take on it, The Fashion Show, which premiered last night. So here's my thoughts...

It really was pretty much a copy of PR, with just a few differences. Still sponsored by a fashion magazine (Harpers' Bazaar instead of Elle), sponsored by the same hair product company (Tresseme), still the elimination challenges, runway shows, and overly dramatic contestants.

What I liked, compared to PR, was the opening "mini-challenge". Rather than jump right into the main challenge, to start things off, they gave the contestants an hour to make a little black dress out of a basic black t-shirt. So, being a multiple-time pledge-signer in Wardrobe Refashion, I was quite happy to see reconstruction on tv! They used that as a basis for choosing the team leaders for the opening challenge, which was a team one (design 5 looks based around one must-have item. Note to designers: M.C. Hammer pants are not, and never where, a must-have item.)

What I didn't like, compared to PR, is the pace felt very rushed. Probably due to having that mini-challenge. I didn't really get a feel for the design process as they were making their final projects (or the mini-challenge, for that matter), particularly when it came to the mid-episode design critique-- I like when Tim Gunn comes in and advises the contestants about how they can improve their design, what's risky, etc. Probably because I'm watching this as a fashion sewer. My other quibble is a small one-- Isaach Mizrahi's "Bye, darlin'" parting shot just doesn't quite work quite as well as Heidi Klum's "Auf Wiedersehen." Then again, there's nothing like the German language to make everything sound so harsh and final. (And I can say that, because I took German in high school for four years, and used to be fairly fluent in it!)

So I'll keep watching it-- I'm interested to see how it goes, and it'll tide me over. But I'm still looking forward to PR coming back!

(Also, just one note to contestants of both shows, prompted by a comment made by Haven last night: So you think you can design, but you hate to sew. Why, then, would you put yourself on a show where sewing is a major part of the m.o.? Especially if lack of sewing ability = poor execution = auf'ed? Drives me nuts when they say that!)

May 6, 2009

More jeans experiments and a fail day

Spent the night watching Lost and covering the legs of my imperfect-but-basically-best-fitting jeans with masking tape, in order to give myself some idea of what needs to be done to make this pattern work.
This isn't a perfect estimate. I wasn't exactly sure where to place the tape on the back leg (in the middle), and I have no idea if either one is on-grain. (I did have a bit more of a reference on the front leg-- tried to line it up with the fly-front topstitching. And this was just done seam-to-seam-- no seam allowances on the masking tape part. It looks like the yoke starts higher up on my thrifted jeans than the pattern, too. (Which is kind of scary, considering that these jeans are my absolute limit of low-rise!) And the jeans have a touch of stretch, while this denim (and, I'm pretty sure, the denim I'm using for the real version), do not. And therefore, I'll have to leave myself a bit of extra wiggle room. Still...it looks like it needs to come in quite a bit to get a good flare shape, particularly on the inner legs. So I'll have to play around with that a bit and see what I can come up with. I'm thinking I may re-cut the yoke in the back too, if I can figure out how much wider to make it. Good thing I have some leftover denim from this!

Not attempting anything like that tonight though, because this has been a day of domestic fail for me.

Example 1: I'm pretty much out of food stored in the family freezer for me to grab out and reheat on busy teaching nights. So I had the idea that, since my workday gets started later today, I'd do one of those cook all day in the crockpot meals. Found a recipe in my slow cooker cookbook for beef and lentils, which looked a lot healthier than most in there (lots of reliance on condensed cream-of-whatever soup and powdered onion soup mix and fake Velveeta cheese and the like). Plus it had the added bonus of being relatively cheap. So I bought the stuff we didn't have on hand last night, prepped it this morning, everything came together quickly and yummy-smelling. Turned the crockpot on low, left it while I went to teach band and my flute lessons for the afternoon, and then scooped out a plateful for dinner. It tasted pretty good, though I was surprised that it was only room temperature when I'd had the heat on all day. Turns out, I didn't. I forgot to plug the stupid thing in. And left a crockpot full of ground beef (which had been cooked in a skillet, but still!) out on the counter for about eight hours. >_< So I ended up having to toss out what was left, because I wasn't sure it was safe to eat. (Though I'm kind of regretting that now, since it's been several hours since dinner and I feel fine, and I ate the whole plateful.)

Example 2: I was looking up some bands on eMusic.com to see if they were available for me to check out, and marking off on a list whether they were. Had to run out in the middle for an errand, and when I came back, I discovered I left the pen cap off. And that there are now several rather visible ink blotches on my denim blanket, which I keep on the foot of the bed for stuff like when I'm eating meals in front of the compy. On the bright side, I'm glad it was the blanket, because otherwise it would have been on the quilt that my mom made that's underneath! And the blotches are on end pieces, so worst case scenario, I can replace 2 squares. But still.

May 5, 2009

Executive Decisions

Since weekend camping and the usual crazy Monday/Tuesday work schedule has left me unable to sew, I've spent the time pondering sewing instead. And here's the conclusions I've come to...

1. The dress for my brother's wedding. After several suggestions that I might be better off getting a heavier fabric for that dress pattern, I've decided to go with the simpler BWOF pattern over the Vogue one. I have to admit I've been a little nervous about that lightweight charmeuse holding up to all the ruching. But since that fabric was a bit of a splurge for me, I want to use it! Apart from that, I'm also thinking that a) a simpler pattern might be better in terms of sewing time, since I've been kind of limited this spring and I have this summer wardrobe I want to make (and still hoping to fit in some quickie projects on the side), and b) this dress has cap sleeves, vs. the Vogue pattern's spaghetti straps, which might be much better for an outdoor wedding. Even though it's now settled on the beginning of October, the weather here can be rather unpredictable that time of year-- anywhere from Indian summer to time to break out the sweaters! Plus I think it'll look better with a wrap than the more heavily ruched dress would, and with my propensity to get cold...

As for the Vogue pattern, I'd still like to try it out sometime. But I'm thinking I might use that for a little black dress. Since every girl is supposed to have one, right? And being a musician, I can never have too much funky black.

2. The jeans. After spending some more time on Thursday playing around with a bunch of pins to see if I could get a better fit on the leg, I've decided that to simplify things, I'm just going to use the old masking-tape-on-the-ready-to-wear trick and tweak the pattern from there. So after trying on my three best-fitting pairs of jeans this afternoon, I've decided which one I'm going to use. I will need to make a couple of changes-- the pockets are crappy little tiny things that I can only shove my fingertips in, and the rise is lower than I'd prefer (I only bought them because they fit so well otherwise and I do tend to wear longer shirts when possible.) But hopefully this will at least give me an idea of the shape to work with.