Monthly Archives: March 2009

“The project that would not end,” or “How I hate chiffon”

UGH.  That’s all I have to say. UGH.

Instead of delusions of grandeur, I have delusions of sewing.  How on earth did I think that I could hand sew 25 chiffon scraps to a chiffon scarf in one evening?  Do they sell reality pills at all?  Because I need a prescription.  Bad!

I honestly don’t mind hand sewing.  It is relaxing, as some others in the sewing blogosphere have mentioned.  However, I do mind how frakking long it takes.  OMG!  I think I only sewed about 4 or five of those scraps on in three hours and halfway through that miniscule am0unt I had to start using an embroidery loop for greater control. 

I don’t mean for this blog to be a constant negative rant, but my learning curve is really frustrating me.  The funny thing is though, that I am not feeling frustrated as I do the different steps.  It’s afterwards when I’m thinking about how the project’s going or blogging about it.  I am quite methodical and dare I say, patient (?!) when actually in the thick of things.  I am well known to friends and family to be lacking in the virtue of patience, so it is quite ironic to say I am patient when sewing. 

How I wish I could use my sewing machine for this project.  :sigh: 

Well, let me leave you with a few shots of my in process hand sewing and a pic of the original inspiration piece, Victoria’s scarf.

fabric scrap with hand stitching

fabric scrap with hand stitching

Scarf with some scraps hand sewn

Scarf with some scraps hand sewn

The gorgeous original scarf

The gorgeous original scarf

My scarf is shorter in length and skinnier.  The fabric scraps on my scarf are wider, more widely placed and more wavy than the original scarf.  And I haven’t frayed the scraps yet. Not sure if I like my version as much as the RTW scarf.  I’ll have to think on this…

Hand sewing anyone?

This past weekend I had two small, not so ambitious goals:

  1. Continue working on my spring/summer top sew along by buying the necessary notions and start sewing up the muslin that I had already cut out,
  2. Sew up a birthday gift for Jack’s nanny in a quick, easy/breezy sewing session.

Number 2 just makes me laugh and laugh now.  Copying my friend Victoria’s scarf has just about done in this sewing beginner.  Let me tell you, chiffon and I, we are SOOOO not best friends.  I tried sample after sample of my fabric trying to serge a rolled hem.  It was very unevenly covered and the needle didn’t always catch the fabric, so there were areas that weren’t finished for about an inch at a time.  I posted questions on Pattern Review in the Beginner’s Forum.   One person suggested I use Sulky water soluble stabilizer and another suggested that I needed more foot pressure.  I didn’t have Sulky, so I tried tracing paper, but the edge was a little stiff.  Then I got the idea to try kleenex.  I had two types on hand, one that was more papery in texture and another that was really soft and felt like.  After trying both of them, I liked the softer one better.  The rolled hem was much more pliable and similar to the chiffon in drape.  Who knew there were more uses for kleenex other than blowing your nose!?  Here’s a pic of the fabric running through the serger with kleenex underneath…rolled-hem-w-tissue1
I practiced a few more times and then felt confident enough to try it on my scarf. 

Here’s the finished edge.  finished-rolled-hemThe coverage is fine, the hem is rolled and I have a scarf!  (please ignore the fact that I used the selvedge; I thought it was edgier that way, seriously).  When you see the finished scarf, you’ll understand why I made that design choice.  At least, I hope you do.  hmmm… 

So the rolled hem was completed at 11pm last night after 2.5 hours of attempts, and that’s not even including the time spent on it on Saturday night!!!  Then I switched to the sewing machine to attach the fabric scraps and thought I could be finished with the scarf by midnight the latest, no problem.  MWAHAHAHAHAHAH! 

Of course that didn’t happen.  I gave up at 12:30am with only 1.5 of the 25 scraps sewn on.  My sewing machine (Singer 5160) just does not like chiffon.  I guess great minds think alike.  I fiddled with the tension.  I rethreaded a million times.  I tried first kleenex and then tracing paper underneath.  All to no avail.  I don’t have any pictures of this stage as I was not thinking about taking pictures, but rather about just getting the stupid little chiffon scraps on the stupid little chiffon scarf.  The experts at Pattern Review suggested stabilizer again, a single hole throat plate, or a walking foot.  I don’t have a walking foot or a single hole throat plate.  So, what to do?   Thinking…  Thinking… 

How about I don’t use the sewing machine at all?  How about I just hand sew the scraps to the scarf?  :chorus of angels singing:  So guess what I am going to be doing tonight while watching Heros and 24? 

Happy hand sewing everyone!

New York City Sewing & Fabric Shopping Meetup Group!

I don’t think I mentioned this before, but I became a member of the New York City Sewing and Fabric Shopping Meetup group sometime last fall.  I haven’t been able to make any previous meetings, but I went to my first meetup yesterday and had a blast.  A special thanks to my best friend Cayce for babysitting Jack so I could do so.  Wendy of West 38th hosts the group and I love her blog.  She makes the most beautiful clothes for her nieces and nephew as well as herself.  She was wearing the most fabulous skirt with what looked like pintucks, but were actually constructed using twin needles (if I heard her correctly).  So cool. 

We went to a bunch of fabric stores that are open on Sundays (not many of them are) and shopped.  I bought 3 yds of some gauzy cotton with a mod brown and tan circles pattern on white with some flocking — very cute and for only $7/yd.  We also went to M&J Trimming too, but I didn’t need anything there really.  Then Mica from Sewnista in the Making and I took off and visited my local store, P&S Fabrics, for notions for me and some basic fabric for her.  I thought I would be the only person who would bother to trek down there, but apparently I’m not!   I met some really great people, all in various stages of their sewing careers, beginners to experts.  We shared tips, new techniques, places to shop and I found out about the classes at FIT.  Apparently, being a NY resident gives me a significant discount and the classes are supposed to be awesome.  I might have to investigate that. 

The notions I bought were for my spring/summer blouse project I’m working on for the sew along so I could whip up the muslin.  I forgot that P&S closes Friday afternoons for the Jewish Sabbath, so I walked there for nothing on Friday night after work.  😦  The single fold bias tape I bought confuses me.  It says it’s single fold and yet there are two folds.  How does that work???  I will post a picture of my fun new fabric later tonight.  I didn’t have time to do so yesterday, but that’s a tale for another post…


So my coworker Victoria has the most amazing wardrobe and looks stunning every day.  She also knits and used to sew.  Oh and she’s pretty cool too.  Well this week she came traipsing in with the most amazing scarf.  Now I’m not talking of a winter scarf here, but more of an accessory kind of scarf.  You know, like the kind French women wear so wonderfully and oh so casually.  Maybe Victoria is French and she hasn’t told me yet.  Hmmm… 

Anyway, back to the scarf.    Darn!  I should have taken a picture of it; my written description of it will surely pale in comparison to the beautiful thing that it is in real life.  It’s a chiffon print with a rolled edge hem all around.  Now to the “beautifulest” part:  it has wavy strips of the same fabric sewn with a single line of stitching all down the width of the scarf (meaning perpendicular to the length).  The edges of the strips are left unfinished to fringe as they will.  It’s such an ephemeral look.  I have been plotting to steal it thinking about copying it for myself the past few days.  I have some chiffon in the stash that would be lovely as a scarf.

chiffon-and-silk2Either the one on the left or right will do, but I’m thinking I’ll probably use the one on the left. 

AND, I have another emergency gift to give this weekend.  So guess who’s gonna get this scarf now.  NOT ME, but Jack’s nanny.  People who know me, know that birthdays tend to sneak up on me even when I know when they are.  Anne’s birthday is this Saturday, and I know she likes to dress up for church and she likes handmade things, so what would be the perfect gift?  But this beautiful beautiful handmade scarf of course.  I will have to make one for me someday too.  

So this little scarf project is going to interrupt my Hot Patterns Spring top for tonight.  But I am stopping by my local fabric/notions store on my way home to buy the supplies I need to finish up the muslin this weekend.   Hopefully, I will read the directions again and this time they will magically make sense to me.

Happy weekend sewing!

The girl just can’t read directions *shaking her head*

HP101 was supposed to be a super easy pattern for me to jumpstart my beginner sewing frenzy, but already I’m stumped!!!  I thought after reading all of the sewing blogs in my reader for these many long months (almost a year now) and two classes, I would be able to read a sewing pattern.  Sheesh! 

In my own defense, I don’t have all the requisite materials for this pattern, like single fold bias tape or the elastic yet.  And I thought I should be able to understand reading the directions without them in front of me, but it’s like reading Greek.   Here they are, the directions, in all their glorious obfuscation…


Is it just as confusing to you as it is to me???  Am I just word problem challenged?  How am I supposed to sew if I can’t read directions?  I don’t want to need handholding all the time (thank you Victoria for your patience in explaining  to me the most mundane things about sewing).  I am so frustrated with this aspect of my learning curve.  Can you imagine me trying to figure out a Burda pattern?  Everybody on PR keeps talking about how Burda’s instructions suck.  So I guess I just blew money on my subscription there.  *discouraged*

Question for you all out there in sewing land:  Can I substitute FOE (fold over elastic) for the bias tape/elastic part of this blouse?  Which would look less becky home-ecky?  From my limited understanding of the instructions, it would seem that the bias tape shows on the fashion fabric side, does that look nice?  I thought bias tape was more of an innard kind of thing (do you like my technical lingo?)  😉

On a more positive note, I did cut out my muslin last night.  I just have to pick up some single fold bias tape and elastic and I can start working on this again on Friday night.  Tonight and tomorrow night I have outings planned.  This is going to be a slow process for me as I am a working single parent and still have some sort of a life (ok, I only have a knitting group on Thursday nights, but I am counting that as a life), so I can only devote a few evenings here and there to sewing. 

Until later, happy sewing!

Breaking News: Spring Top Week Sew Along!

Guess what???  Made by Rae started a Spring Top Week Sew Along and I’m joining! 

Can’t wait to get home tonight and start my muslin. 🙂


Houston, we have a pattern!

Last night I spent a delicious evening eating wonderful food prepared by my sister, drinking a great chardonnay with the most incredible nose, and watching 24 with said sister…  All while tracing out my springy/summery blouse!  At the last minute, I changed my mind and decided to go with Hot Patterns 101 instead of the other two choices.

HP 101 No Sweat Easy Sew Bubblelicious Top and Skirts

HP 101 No Sweat Easy Sew Bubblelicious Top and Skirts

This looks like a super easy top.  I won’t have to worry too much about fitting since it’s such a loose top.  There are only three pattern pieces (four if you count the sleeves twice) and two notches to match up.  I traced the size 12.  It looks like I”m between Hot Pattern’s sizes 12 and 14, but since it’s loose fitting, I went with the smaller size. 

So tonight I am going to cut out the muslin and see where that takes me.

Happy sewing!