November 28, 2010

Now why didn't I do this a year ago?

As it turns out, I had a rather crafty Thanksgiving weekend. My family has the same routine every year--on Thursday, we go to my dad's parents, and on Saturday we go to my mom's parents. My dad's side is a lot smaller/quieter, so I brought a box of beads and such with me and spent most of the non-eating time making earrings for the craft fair. My original plan was to do the same yesterday, but we also have a yearly tradition of decorating gingerbread houses (though now that the cousins are basically all adults, it's just the girls that do it) and my gingerbread house was, shall we say, a little involved. So I did that the whole time instead. As for Friday, my friend Nicole came over and we had a pillow-making party! She's making some as gifts for her nieces and nephew, and I've had some stuff sitting around for well over a year to make some for my ongoing room decorating project. We both had a rather productive afternoon...and I have to say that after that jacket, it was SO good to have a quick project!

So here's my finished results. The green is a kind of faux silk-looking weave, and the velvet is my salvage from that total fail of a wrap that I was planning on wearing to my brother's wedding last fall. After all, hand-dyed silk velvet is way too yummy to just throw out. (Even if it did turn out to be a huge pain to cut out, since it kept shifting every which way.)

I'm happy with the trim on it, too--that was leftover from a minor shirt embellishment/refashion from a couple of years ago. Adds a little more interest to the fabric. (And just ignore the lumpy look of the bolster pillow-- I was having trouble getting it to stuff evenly.)

I know the velvet in particular is not going to stay this pristine-looking--but I don't believe in pillows for decoration only, and fully plan on using them to shove under my head while I'm reading and such. And I think it'll be cool to see how it changes as it crushes.


I also ended up getting an early Christmas present from my parents...
Meet Donna 2.0! The old one served me well, but it did have its limits. And fell over a lot, since the base was rather unstable. And was constantly tilting to one side. So since a big overall goal for my sewing these days is improving my fitting skills, having one that stays still is a plus. And I think this one will be a little nicer to pin into than duct tape! I'm just getting started on figuring out the measurements-- I know I'm going to have to do some padding for sure, because Donna's a good bit flatter in certain areas than I am! But hopefully I can have all that sorted by the end of the month.

In the meantime, I started the new jeans muslin tonight. And I have the backs of play capes embroidered and ready to go. And craft fair jewelry, of course. So hopefully, despite having a much fuller workload this week than last, I'll find some time for crafting!

November 24, 2010

In response to a Blogger fail

Overall, I do like Blogger. But the one feature I wish it had, or if it does I don't know it, is the ability to respond directly to a comment like you get on Wordpress or LiveJournal. So here's a 2-in-1. Gail asked what I'd be wearing yesterday's completed project with, and Anoriell requested a pic of it on me. So here's the visual answer to you both. The answer to Gail's question: khakis, boots, and a brown tank top beneath the jacket in order to compensate for the combination of a shorter jacket and avoid any wardrobe malfunctions due to gaps between the snaps.

 

And then here's the closeup. Raising the neckline was definitely a good move, because this is perfect.

(Sorry for bad lighting-- I took this after I got done work at 8 tonight, so I had to use the flash. I also apparently need to work on my self-photography skills, because the jacket in the first one is blurred, but the pants are not. And this was with a tripod!)

But anyway, there it is. And I think I finished it just in time, because it doesn't look like it's going to be warm enough for perpetually-cold me to wear it again anytime soon. But it worked for today.

November 22, 2010

Floral Fantasy jacket-- DONE!

Whew....I've literally spent hours over the last several days trying to get this thing done. And, as of about 10 minutes ago, it finally is. And since I'm too impatient to wait for natural lighting tomorrow, here it is.

Along with a brief review of the pattern, which was #113 from the March 2007 issue of Burda. I made quite a few changes to this-- I raised the neckline and added about an inch and a half in length to the hem, I had to tweak the sleeves quite a bit to keep them from getting all gathered (I learned while making the BurdaStyle book jacket that suedecloth-like material does NOT want to gather, and when I made the muslin it was going kind of puffy anyway, which I didn't want.) I ditched the cuff in favor of regular 3/4 sleeves. And in the end, instead of fiddling with bound buttonholes on such a textured fabric, I ended up using giant snaps to close it, with the buttons being purely for decoration. (Part of what took so long, since I had to sew each closure 3 times!)

And, of course, the Hong Kong seams. But I think the finished result was worth it. (Just don't expect me to sew anything with them again any time soon.)



A closeup of the neckline (I had to completely wing the notched neckline, because I couldn't make sense of the directions at all, but it worked)

And the buttons. See how perfectly they go with the jacket? I couldn't pass them up!

I'm not 100% happy with the fit of it. Despite my tweaks, it still feels like it's a bit tight across the shoulders. Not "I can't move" tight, and I can still raise my arms to flute level just fine, but if I was trying to reach in front of me there would be some definite pulling. And I don't think this is a jacket I'd make again, because it's such a unique style. But this one's been on my list for quite awhile, so I'm happy that it's done! And it looks pretty good on me too, I think, even if the fit's not perfect.

November 17, 2010

The other thing I've been up to

Progress on the flowery jacket is happening...I got the sleeves sewn together and am in the process of doing the Hong Kong seams. The facing is in. After bouncing some ideas off of my mom, I've decided that the buttons are going to be just for show and the actual closure is going to be snaps, since the embroidery is going to make any buttonholes hard. That, and I was checking the instructions in one of my sewing technique books, and it recommended no less than an inch long for a bound buttonhole. And of course the buttons I have, which match the style perfectly, are only 3/4", so that won't work. I was planning on wearing this over a camisole anyway, so there should be no wardrobe malfunctions with the snaps.

But I haven't just been sewing...
I've also been sneaking in lots of jewelry making, since the craft fair is less than a month away. Eek! This is my box of all of my finished ones so far.... I counted them up this morning, and as of now, I have 47 pairs of earrings, 7 bracelets and 28 1/2 necklaces. (The half being one I started last night, and finally realized around 12:30 that I needed to go to bed when it was literally right around the halfway mark.) It sounds like a lot of earrings especially, but in typical fashion for me, a lot of the necklaces and earrings were made as a set.

So now I'm getting to the point where I have a couple of very important things to figure out--how to package things up (nicely, but as cheaply as possible!), how much more I should make (I've never done this before, so I honestly have no clue, though I'm thinking a few more bracelets would be good), and most importantly, how the heck to price these things! I've been doing some research, and it seems like the standard pricing formula is cost of materials + labor time x 2. Or even x3. The thing is, I'm looking at some of these things and thinking that there's no way people would pay those prices! And while I have an Etsy shop somewhat set up and am planning on putting whatever I don't sell in there (I know, I know, worst time of year to open a shop), it would be nice to at least sell something while I'm at the fair. At least I have some things figured out-- I have printable business cards, and I was able to come up with a design for the Etsy banner and all based on that. I also have some ideas for how to do the actual packaging, which will also allow me to use up some of my cardstock and such. I just have to sit down and actually do it.

I am working on taking pictures of everything. But rather than spam this blog up, and since I'm going to be attempting to make this an ongoing thing, I actually started a separate blog for the jewelry I'm making to try and sell. All I have up there so far are about 8 pairs of earrings, but I'm hoping to get everything else up soon. (And figure out how to make these sound appealing without being cheesy--writing's always come somewhat easily for me, but trying to sell yourself or your product through it is a lot harder!)

This is a bit scary/intimidating, putting stuff I've made out there to sell. My main motivation at this point is that I've decided that part of the proceeds are going to be donated--I'd known all along that if I was going to do something like this, I wanted it to be for a good cause. It all clicked at the end of the summer, when I found out at church that my friends who lost their daughter last July are starting up a non-profit organization to build an orphanage in Haiti. And since I helped her mom with making some of the bracelets to give to her friends in her memory, it seemed fitting to do this to help support them. So I'll just have to trust that if God wants this to happen, some of the jewelry is actually going to sell! (And the stashbusting is definitely a nice side effect.)

November 12, 2010

It's brilliant, brilliant, brilliant I tell you! Genius, I say!

Ok, I'm done channeling Yzma now. But I did potentially come up with a solution for my question of what fabric to use for that black dress that I want to make that could make my life a whole lot easier. (And my wallet even happier.) It's so simple that I can't believe I didn't think of it before: a silk-cotton blend. That would get me the sheen and luxury look of the silk, but with the ease of washing and wearing of the cotton. Plus since that would be a woven, it would make it a lot easier for me to muslin and play around with all of those couture techniques that I've been dying to try ever since I got that Claire Schaeffer book awhile back. (That, and I still can't figure out how my chosen pattern can possibly work for both a non-stretch silk crepe and a stretchy silk jersey. Especially without those back straps stretching out of shape. And I'm a bit stumped on the idea of a fully lined knit dress...)

So now it's just figuring out where to shop. The pattern calls for silk crepe-back satin, silk crepe, or silk jersey. I've found a couple of options so far.
  • Fabric.com has a 55% cotton/45% silk poplin, that it describes as lightweight and with a soft hand. So that might have the drape that I need to pull off that ruching. I'll have to get a swatch to see.
  • I found a 52% silk/48% cotton satin at Thai Silks. They also have a 60% cotton/40% silk sateen. But the website doesn't say anything about the hand or the weight, and I'm having a little trouble telling if I can buy specific swatches off of them. I'll need to contact them and ask, I suppose
  • I tried looking at Gorgeous Fabrics, but all they had was a navy color. Which won't really work for if I needed to wear it for a concert where everyone else is wearing black. So then I checked out Mood and found that they have a 40% cotton/60% silk voile. But according to the fabric guidebook I got back in the spring (also by Claire Schaeffer-- I think I'm a fan), that's kind of a sheerish fabric....not quite what I had in mind.
So those are my options so far. And did I mention that all of these except for the Mood voile are around half the price of the best-priced silk jersey that I've found by this point? Which I'm pretty sure was the $30-a-yard stuff at Mood. Wasn't too thrilled at the idea of paying $90+ for dress materials....so if I go this route, I can afford lining!

So now I just need to muslin and figure out how much, exactly, I need. But first order of business is to get back on that jacket and see if I can figure out how the heck to make bound buttonholes...I have a strong feeling that the usual thread-stitched ones are not going to cut it on the textured embroidery. Especially considering that my buttonhole foot is kind of busted. (And then second order of business is going to be a pair of pj pants, because after this jacket, I'm going to need something quick and easy!)

November 10, 2010

sewing at a snail's pace

So what I said about the Hong Kong finish meaning this jacket would take me three times as long to sew was a bit inaccurate. It's actually turning out to be five times as long, because I have to sew every seam five times! So after working on it for the past week, the current status of my jacket is that I have the front, back, side and shoulder seams done. That's it. :-P Though I am happy with how the finish is turning out. And it turns out that it's a good thing I'm doing a bound seam, because for suedecloth, this fabric frays an awful lot!


See?

The other thing that's taking a good bit of time with this is that I'm actually undoing the textured embroidery on the facings. It's not hard to take that cording off, just a bit time-consuming. But since the nature of this jacket is going to make it be worn more like a shirt, more likely than not, I figured it would be more comfortable against my skin that way. And I still get a bit of the "print" from the lines that stay embedded in the fabric after removing the cording. I kind of like the look of it, actually. Subtle.

Another challenge with this jacket is that for some reason, this fabric does NOT want to press right. I don't know if it's because the Hong Kong finish means I didn't clip a single seam, but they are not lying flat. At all. I even tried turning the heat on the iron up all the way (with a pressing cloth so I didn't melt the fabric), and it's still got a bit of an "I didn't bother to iron this at all" look. That bugs me, but I'm not sure what else to do with it.

I'm hoping I can make some good progress on this tomorrow--things are a bit slow at the garden center in November, and as a result, my hours got cut back even more. So the only day I was scheduled this week was yesterday, and that means I've got some extra time on my hands tomorrow. One thing I have done that's helped is that my sewing machine is currently sitting right next to my computer. So that means I can skim through emails or blog posts while I pin seams, and makes my time somewhat doubly productive. (Or slows both down, but I feel better about doing something else while I'm sitting in front of the computer. Plus then I can just sew for ten minutes here or there where I normally wouldn't.)  I've also decided that my next sewing project is going to be a quick job, to make up for this one!

But I'm hoping it turns out well. It'll ease the pain somewhat of how boring the Burda magazine has gotten. Seriously-- there was nothing in it that I liked this month. Everything was just so shapeless and blah, and I was highly unimpressed. And the one jacket that I sort of liked, it was really nothing that I haven't seen before, and there were no standout details to instantly put it on my must-sew list like the jacket I'm currently making. At least the debate is settled on whether I'm going to renew my subscription once it runs out--not happening. If I like something enough, I'll just buy the individual issues at Barnes & Noble, or download individual patterns from the website.

On a somewhat random note, apparently my last post was my 500th and I missed it. I should probably do something about that. But it's going to have to wait....I just haven't had a chance to think of any cool giveaways or anything yet. And I have to run, because I'm going to a concert tonight and am supposed to leave to meet my bestie...um, now.

November 3, 2010

Experiments in seam finishes

Check it out-- my first Hong Kong seams! I'd decided that I wanted to leave the Burda jacket that I'm currently working on unlined--with the style it's in, it's the sort of jacket that can never really be worn over another shirt (at least one that's showing above the neckline), and so I'm making it with the intent of wearing it more as a buttoned-up shirt of sorts. But I wanted a nice finish inside, since it would be showing. And this seemed like a practical one, since it would help tack down the embroidered cords that go off the edges.

So far, I've discovered that it's working better to move the needle over a notch closer to the edge of the foot-- I like the more narrow seam finish better.  And I'm finally getting to use up some fabric--I cut the bias strips from fabric left over from the charmeuse dress of fail. (The pieces were too large to toss, but not quite enough to make any other garment out of. Unless I do some crazy draping experiment with a camisle...But bias strips work too, and at least this fabric is good for something. I like the look of it quite a bit so far, and am trying to ignore the fact that this jacket is going to take 3 times the amount of sewing time it would otherwise.

In other news, I've been working quite a bit lately on upping my inventory for the craft fair--worked on that basically all day on Saturday. Just over a month to go, yikes!