Monthly Archives: April 2009

Pictures of projects past

As promised in my Backstory post, here are pictures of my past finshed objects (FOs) and the quilt my Mom made for little Jack.  I forgot to take one picture though, but I’m sure you’ve all seen pillows before.  LOL.

First up is the quilt my Mom made in celebration of Jack’s birth.  I asked for blues and looked through various quilting sites for a pattern.  Of course I picked a really difficult one as I have absolutely no knowledge of quilting and how hard it is to do pointy piecework; now I know.  I think it’s really beautiful and Jack still asks for it to be laid down on the floor for him to play on like when he was an infant.  He has a memory like an elephant.quilt-1

Next up on the “slideshow”  are my own FOs.  So first is a picture of my now extremely dirty totebag that I made at the Purl sewing class.  I made longer straps than the pattern called for, much to my regret.  I should have left well enough alone.  😉  I chose the fabrics from Purl and love the combo for the outside/lining if I do say so myself.  Construction details included fusible interfacing for the straps and the snap area, a snap, and an interior pocket.  I also completed a zipped pencil bag, but forgot to take a picture of that.

Tote Bag Exterior

Tote Bag Exterior

Lining w/ interior pocket
Lining w/ interior pocket
Detail of snap and interior pocket

Detail of snap and interior pocket

Now we have FOs from my class at Sew Fast Sew Easy.  First on the docket is the skirt.  Construction details are stretch woven from Kashi at Metro Textile, elasticized waist, handsewn hem with hemtape,  and skirt vent fused.   Here are some pics:black-skirt

Elasticized waist interior detail

Elasticized waist interior detail

Skirt hem handsewn with hemtape

Skirt hem handsewn with hemtape

Next up is the tshirt I made in the same class.  Please excuse the mysterious stain on the front; I have no idea what that is and it won’t come out in the wash.  The collar and seams were serged, but a sewing machine was used to hem the sleeves and hem.   Not sure why since a straight sewing stitch has no give, but it’s still a great shirt to sleep in. tshirt-1


As I mentioned earlier, I forgot to take a picture of the home dec pillow which has a most excellent invisible zipper installation.  We also completed a small tote bag, but I gave it to a friend of mine, Nikki, so I don’t have any pictures of it to show you all.  Maybe Nikki (hint hint if you’re reading this) will supply the picture in the near future.  Well, that’s it for today’s show and tell. 

In sewing machine news today, I am considering buying a new sewing machine.  Any suggestions?  I am interested in a machine that is great for garment sewing.  I’m not really interested in machine embroidery at this time, so that kind of functionality is not needed.  I want a machine I can grow into, but isn’t too much for my beginner level.  Most especially, I want a machine that allows me to just sit down and sew without any troubleshooting for hours on end each and every time I use it.  The only caveat is I don’t want to spend thousands of dollars.  Is that asking too much???


One fat mess

First, some blog business before the actual post:  I haven’t uploaded pics yet to my last post.  Sorry the holiday weekend got away from me.  I promise to update it soon.

I forced myself to face my intimidation of the single fold bias tape last night.  I’ve been procrastinating thinking about the process of sewing the last week or so, hence the lack of sewing posts of late.  I’ve had the muslin cut out for about two weeks for the Spring Top sew along and it’s been glaring at me accusatorily from the dining room table ever since.  The pattern calls for single fold bias tape to make a casing for the elastic so that the neckline and hemline are elasticized.  See picture below…

HP 101 No Sweat Easy Sew Bubblelicious Top and Skirts

HP 101 No Sweat Easy Sew Bubblelicious Top and Skirts

My question is why use bias tape to encase the elastic when you could use the fabric?  I am using this pattern not only to create a top for me to wear, but also to learn to sew, to increase my skillset.  So I am going to do the muslin exactly as the pattern says to sew it.  However, I reserve the right to change it on the final fashion fabric version later (try saying that last part 10 times fast). 

Back to last night’s adventure…  I read the instructions for the bias tape attachment.  Of course they didn’t make sense at all to me until I had read them about 40 times, but who’s counting?  The first thing I notice is that they have you stitch the crease of the bias tape to the seam line (5/8 seam allowances) and then have you trim the excess seam allowance.  Why not properly size the pattern so you don’t have to trim?  Seems like an unneccessary step to me.  Can anyone tell me why?  So I obediently in a dog-like manner (no offense to dogs), pin my bias tape crease a 5/8 inch away from the edge of the muslin and go to my Singer 5160.  I have black thread in the bobbin and needle, but who cares; it’s a muslin, right?  I check my stitch and tension settings and rethread my needle just in case.  And I start to sew.  Well, except that my needle jumps to the side about 2 inches into my line of stitching.  Why you ask?  Well just take a look…one-fat-mess

That hot mess, my friends, is what my sewing machine wants to produce.  That’s what comes from the bobbin thread.  I checked my bobbin several times.  I changed the tension.  I rethreaded.  I prayed to unnamed gods.  I watched tv.  I took a sip of coke.  I had some parmesan cheese (did I mention my addiction to parmesan cheese yet?).  I rethreaded again and played with the tension for the sheer fun of it again.   And nothing worked!!!!!

Why can’t I just go to the sewing machine and sew?  Why is it I am always troubleshooting?  This might be a serious killjoy for me.  Is it the machine?  Or is it user error?  Should I get a new machine?  Is the Singer 5160 a piece of junk?  I searched on PatternReview for a review of it and couldn’t find any. 

What do the people say?


Way back in January, Lindsay of Lindsay T Sews (Again) wrote her sewing backstory and asked other sewing bloggers to tell theirs.  Well, I don’t have much of one and after reading so many blogs for so long now, my story is probably not going to compare, but here goes…

Both my grandmother on my mother’s side and my mom sewed.  My grandmother used to work at a furniture manufacturer, now defunct, Homer Brothers.  I vaguely remember them.  She sewed upholstery.  However my mom remembers that she used to sew dresses for her daughters as well.  Mom doesn’t remember how Grandma learned to sew.  Grandma didn’t sew after she retired from the factory I don’t think.  And since then, her eyesight has deteriorated from macular degeneration.  So she couldn’t sew if she wanted to now.  😦

My mother started sewing for herself, her sisters and me when I was about 3 yrs old.   She taught herself from patterns.  She said the first thing she made for me was an Easter cape.  She made prom dresses, fully lined (!), for my aunts and dresses for herself.   Mom stopped sewing when she started working full-time and when we kids started becoming a lot more active in after school activities.  However, when I was in high school, she took out the sewing machine again and made one of my prom dresses.  I still have it!  It’s a beautiful teal, watered taffeta, single shoulder strap (correct term???) full length dress.   When I was still singing for a living, much later, I used it as recital gown; it’s a timeless style.  Note to self, take picture of it tonight.  (ETA: ACK!  I can’t find the dress!!!  I must have given it away in one of my many moves in recent years.  I know I brought it with me to NY though.  SO SAD!!!)  She’s taken up quilting in the last few years and makes beautiful quilts for all the grandkids.  I will take a picture of Jack’s quilt tonight and add it to this post later. 

I came into sewing a bit sideways.  I was never interested in taking a sewing Home Ec class in Jr High or high school.  Nor did I take any interest whenever my mom sewed.  Never.  I made really bad curtains once for an apt back when I was still in Chicago (by bad, I mean that I didn’t take into account that you need more fabric when you gather the curtain).  When I moved to New York, I was making mosaics and taking classes from a mosaic artist in the city, Valerie Carmet.  Still no interest in sewing although I thought I could tackle a slipcover for my grandmother’s couch.    LOL   I bought my Singer and 12 yds of home dec fabric at that time with the intention of making the slipcover.  I made it as far as sewing 1/2 a muslin mockup and then just gave up.  I even found someone on Craig’s List who was willing to give me sewing lessons at home and helped me start the muslin, but I think that project killed my sewing enthusiasm for a while. 

I have knitted for about 6 years and have even started garment knitting (as opposed to accessories, such as scarves).  But still no interest in sewing.  Then I started reading a ton of craft blogs.  Not sure how that happened, but it did.  And then the list of blogs gradually morphed into mostly sewing blogs by sometime in 2008 (I know, I am so exact in my timing here).  I recall that the sewing blogs became a priority for me after I sewed aprons for all the women in my family for Christmas two years ago.  A friend of mine, Leslie, sewed the difficult parts held my hand throughout the process and I was very pleased with the aprons!  I wrapped them around cookbooks like wrapping paper.  I loved making those gifts.  The whole process, from picking out the fabric for each person to figuring out how to size each apron appropriately and sewing each stitch, just mesmerized me.  I was hooked.  That’s when the frenzy of sewing blog reading really reached a pitch fever.  My blog roll is so long!  I had to start using a blog reader to get me through it all each day.  LOL. 

The next step in my sewing evolution was a totebag making class at Purl.  I use my totebag every day.  I bought the fabrics there, both the lining and outer fabric.  The teacher was young, creative and she took time to answer all of our questions.  Then I took a beginner’s sewing class series called Stitch and Bitch University at Sew Fast Sew Easy.  I think it lasted 10 weeks with a class per week.  I reviewed the class on Pattern Review, so you can read the details there.  I’ve also taken some classes online with Pattern Review, Serger 101 and Techniques for Underlining, both very good! 

With all these classes under my belt, I am off to a good start.  If only I had more time to sew.  I am a slow sewer, especially if I don’t have any visual instruction.  Reading directions is challenging for me as I usually can’t visualize them well in my mind’s eye.  I usually accost my co-worker and friend, Victoria, every morning with questions on directions or sewing/knitting in general.  She’s very knowledgeable; she used to sew and still knits quite a bit.  I am working really hard to convince her she needs to get back into sewing again.  Anyway, I may not be prolific like other bloggers, but I will keep chugging along. 

My main purpose with learning to sew is to make my own clothes.  I would love to be able to sew my whole work wardrobe, including suits, but hand tailoring is a bit scary to me.  I have never even attempted pants.  I wish I could keep taking classes, but it’s expensive and the babysitting fees are killing me.  Hopefully I can teach myself like my mom did.  But I’m worried that my understanding directions “impairment” will hamper my efforts. 

I’m also not a fashionista like my friend Victoria or my fellow bloggers,  Cidell or Mica, but hopefully I will avoid making any fashion faux pas like a floral jacquard blazer or something equally horrific.  😉  I wear suits to work almost every day because it’s like wearing Garanimals as my friend Cayce calls it; you don’t have to put an outfit together.  Maybe sewing my own clothes will actually make me more fashionable?  Who knows?  Stranger things have happened. 

So, there it is, my backstory (apologies for the length).  How I came from professional singer to part-time mosaicist to humble beginner sewist.  I will add some pictures either tonight or later this weekend.  So check back!

Happy sewing everyone…

I’m not feeling it…

Folks, I’m just not feeling the Easter basket project at all.  And since Easter’s just a handful of days away, I really don’t want to pressure myself and not enjoy it.  So, I’m taking it out of the queue.  I hope I can dig up Jack’s Easter basket from last year.

Maybe next year…  Or maybe I’ll use the fabric for a little boys shirt.  Hmmm…

Happy sewing everyone.


Remember back in mid-March Lucy at My Birdhouse alerted us to a sale at  I did my civic duty and I bought some pretty Japanese prints right away, 2 yds each.  Then I waited and waited for my package.   Sadly, I just received an email from the other day informing me that they were going out of business due to the economy and that orders placed after March 17th would not be filled.   I placed mine on March 18th. 

I am so disappointed, but more importantly, how awful it is to lose a fabric store like that.  Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic talks frequently about “stimulating the economy” of online and brick-and-mortar fabric stores.  And recently, a knitting store that was convenient to my workplace shut its doors because of the economy too. 

It’s a dilemma though.  We need to save money, but will the stores still be there if everyone saves their money?  I’ve noticed a lot more sales notices from a lot of online fabric stores in my email box lately too, another sign of the times.  Haven’t you?  Desperate times call for desperate measures.

So my question to you all is:  Are you going to still support our fabric stores?  Or are you in self-preservation mode?  And please note that I don’t mean anything negative about being in self-preservation mode.   If some of us are hurting financially or anticipate a job loss, it not only smart, but prudent to save wherever you can.


So I’ve been fooling around with my blog set up. 

Just an fyi:

  • Updated my blog list to accurately include most of the blogs I follow
  • Added my machine models
  • Added links to my meetup group and the spring top sew along
  • Added a project queue
  • And just all around cleaned up some things.

I also looked up where I bought the cute brown/tan circle gauzy cotton fabric this past weekend:  Chic Fabric, 225 W 39th St.  They had a decent selection of fabrics and it was on the large side of a small store. 

Check out those blogs!  There’s amazing work going on everywhere.  So inspiring!

The eagle has landed!

Or, how I won the Battle of the Chiffon!

Well, last night I fixed an eye on my Singer 5160 and was determined to finish this scarf.  I took some more of the advice I was given on Pattern Review and cleaned out the bobbin area of my machine.  I opened the plate and, lo and behold, there were all these dust bunnies in there!  I used the handy dandy brush that came with my Singer and dusted away.  I even used a stiff piece of fabric to clean out the bobbin tension discs.  After screwing the plate back on, I took my Singer on a test drive with some chiffon scraps…

And voila!  It worked.  No more loose stitches on the bottom and no more chewing of my precious chiffon.  I couldn’t believe it.  No more hand sewing for me! 

I quickly sewed on the remaining scraps, frayed them and the scarf was done!  Here is my rendition of Victoria’s beautiful RTW scarf…

Anne's Scarf

Anne's Scarf

Scarf, end detail

Scarf, end detail

Closed up of scarf w/ frayed scraps

Closed up of scarf w/ frayed scraps


Next up in the queue is NOT going to be the spring/summer scarf, but an easter basket for Jack like this one that Liesl of Disdressed made…  I am going to use the cute planets and rockets fabric I bought from Purl recently.

Happy chiffon sewing everyone!