Monthly Archives: May 2009

Darting around

Day 3 of Kenneth King’s Moulage Class

Apologies, but I have no pictures yet of the muslin sloper; I’ve been crazy busy with the quilt in the evenings.  I promise I will post them this weekend.  PROMISE!  I had been waiting to write about my classes until I had the pictures, but thought you might want to hear about the classes even without the pics.  So here goes…

Last week in the 3rd class with Kenneth King, we sewed up our muslin slopers.  It was another fantastic class.  Kenneth is a wonderful teacher.  He explains things very well and in small digestible pieces.  He’s a natural.  Very patient, no condescension, and he makes everything look so effortless and easy.  Ok, enough of the sunshine already.  😉

I sewed darts for the first time.  Mr. King assumed we all had done this before, but when he found out most of us had not (ok, I’m just talking about me here), he just stopped and showed us.  I didn’t even know how to pin the dart properly to prep for sewing.  The method was very interesting to this humble beginner:  You pin the top of the dart and then the bottom.  Then you manipulate the fabric with your fingers to get the lines of the dart lined up and pin the heck out of it.  Remember, one side of the dart is curved and the other is not.  Then you take it to the sewing machine and voilá.  Another technique he mentioned is that when you approach the end of the dart when sewing it closed, one should get as close to the edge of the fold as possible and switch to a really small stitch length.  I had problems with the accuracy of my darts in terms of how close to the edge I was able to get and how close to the end point I sewed, but for my first darts ever, I’m not complaining!

We sewed the outer seam, then the inseam and then got ready to sew the crotch seam.  Mr. King showed us a neat trick for this part.  We turned both legs right side out and lined them up next to each other.  Then you grab both legs together and pull them through one leg.  Presto, you have your crotch seam ready to sew (well not pinned yet), right sides together.  Very cool.  We pinned the back of the crotch seam to part way up the front (to leave it open for the zipper insertion) and sewed the seam. 

I managed to just finish this part before class ended.  Our homework was to baste in a zipper for our fittings at the next class.   But, as you know, I have been working on the quilt pretty steadily, so I didn’t have a chance to baste in the zipper until this Wednesday.  And of course, forgot the zipper at home, so I had to bust kiester down to the garment district at lunch, buy a zipper and get back to work.  I basted it in at my desk right before class.  Phew!  Just under the wire.  And can I crow just a bit and say that my zipper looked great?  I can?  Thanks!  It looked great!  Sorry I don’t have a pic to show you right now, but be patient, I’ll post it soon.

Interesting tidbit: While we were busily sewing, Mr. King shared some great stories and lessons learned.  We were talking about making our own clothes and he mentioned that you should never make ALL of your clothes.  He said his teacher Simone’s advice was to always have some RTW in your wardrobe, otherwise you run the risk of looking too homemade and granola-y.   Mr. King suggested always purchasing your jeans, for instance.

Originally, I was going to write about both classes in one post, but it was just ginormous in length, so I am cutting them into two posts. 

Quilt update: I am going to borrow Summerset’s parting shot here.  I fiddled around with the decorative stitches on my Viking Emerald 183 to figure out if I want to use one of them to sew on the binding.  Here are some samples:

 stars chevrons and exes

diamonds and indian zigzags

I am partial to the stars and the indian like chevrons.  What do you think? 

Also, I’ve decided to hand embroider the baby’s name and birth info as I do NOT like the built in alphabet on this machine.  You can’t change the size of the letters (at least as far as I can tell) and it’s hard to keep the letters straight, not to mention they’re too small.  

Happy sewing everyone!

The Finish Line — a poll

I posted the picture of my sashiko rocket on Facebook and my sister checked it out.  It’s in the same album as my other sewing pictures and she saw the picture of the top I made for Katie in February.  She commented on both pictures, but for Katie’s top she asked when Katie was going to receive it.  Yeah, I know, it’s been three months since I finished sewing that top, but there were some finishing tasks that I wanted to complete before giving it to Katie, like sewing down the zipper at the sides (it’s not a lined top), adding the hook and eye, sewing a binding on the seam that joins the halter top to the body of the top so that it does not scratch Katie’s torso and last but not least, sew on my “handmade by elizabeth” tag.  All are minor details, but for some reason, not as satisfying to me as actually sewing the pieces of the garment together.

So it seems that I have a dislike of “finishing” in sewing just like I do in knitting.  By finishing, I mean all the little niggling details that will finish off a garment so that you can wear it comfortably and that make it look nicer on the inside, like seam binding or adding hooks and eyes.  For knitting, that means weaving in the ends of the yarn, seaming the pieces together, adding buttons, etc.  I just loathe those parts of knitting, and now I do with sewing too.  I want the magic parts only, the parts where a two dimensional piece of fabric suddenly becomes a wearable three dimensional garment. 

It’s not that I don’t want my clothes to look nice on the inside, I do.  But, that’s not what gets me excited to sew.  So poor Katie’s top languished in mostly done status for months.  It’s a size 3 T which in theory should fit for at least a year, but it looks pretty small right now.  Hopefully my sister will let me know if it fits or not soon.  I crept upstairs to her floor last night and left the top (all finished, inside and out!)  hanging on her door knob.

So let’s do a poll!  What kind of a sewist/person are you?  Do you love doing all the finishing details on your projects, or do you just slap it together to wear it the same day?  Answer the poll and we’ll find out!

Please note that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with pinking shears.  I have a gorgeous high end vintage skirt that has pinking on the seam allowances.  I just know that it’s fast.  And I wish I were more of perfectionist.  Part of my problem is that I don’t have enough sewing experience  to know when to add different finishing touches in regards to the order of construction.  Or even if I have to add larger SA’s to accommodate french seams and the like. 

And as for the long awaited post on Day 3 of my class with Kenneth King, I might have to post that with Day 4 as I have yet to take a picture of the sloper before the fitting class.  I hope to do so tonight.  I also have to baste in the zipper.  But both will have to wait until after I see Star Trek for the second time!!!  A trekkie has to have her priorities!  My friend Andrea has graciously come to the rescue of this poor single parent and is babysitting Jack for me tonight in exchange for some baked goods.  I am paying a buttload in babysitting $$$ this month to take the class, so I can’t really justify paying one just to see a movie, but this isn’t just any movie.  Anyway, Andrea is making my day, my month, my year!  Thanks Andrea!!!

Sneak peek!

Apologies for the lack of posting, but Jack and I are having an amazing weekend together.  🙂

We’ve gone on two bike rides,  been to birthday parties, went to the park, had brunch, Uncle Todd make Coque au vin and there’s still the rest of today for adventures! 

But I thought I’d post a quick pic of the quilt in process.  It’s going along well, not fast, but definitely not slow either.  I am enjoying the sashiko embroidery quite a bit.  I was thinking of attaching the binding with a decorative stitch.  What do you think?

Here’s a snap of the rocket in sashiko…

rocket sashiko 2

Hope you’re having a great Memorial Day weekend!

Project Updates

Woobie Quilt

Last night, I ironed both the top and backing fabrics for the woobie and straightened both so they were on grain.  I sprayed adhesive on the backing and adhered the batting and then repeated with the top fabric.  There was a lot of adjusting so that everything was sandwiched just right and on grain.  After that, I hand basted the fabric sandwich together to further stabilize the layers and minimize as much movement/slippage as possible.  Tonight I am going to machine quilt a diamond pattern from the middle out to the sides of the quilt.  Then I will hand quilt the rockets and planets using sashiko thread and needles.  I am hoping that employing the sashiko style of embroidery will speed up the hand quilting process.  I’ll let you know how that goes.  😉  Wow, there are so many steps in this process and I’m not even piecing the top of this quilt.  This is just crazy involved.  I am reserving judgement until it’s all done to see if this is something I like to do and ever repeat again.  Another thing I have discovered is that there are design decisions at every.  step.  of.  the.  process.  for quilting, going way beyond just picking fabrics and choosing the piecing design, like:

  • Do you want the quilting thread to “show” on the top of the quilt or the bottom?  What color thread?  Do you want variegated?
  • Do you hand or machine quilt?  Or both?
  • What kind of binding?
  • How thick of a batting do you want?
  • What design are you going to use for the quilting?
  • Etc.

I have a new-found respect for Mom now and how intricate and finely designed her quilts are.  WOW!  I will definitely treasure them always.


Whisper Cardigan

I am almost done with the first section of the sweater.  Progress is slow as I only knit on my commute to/from work.  The first section consists of the right arm to the top portion of the back to the left arm, with a beautiful vertical stitch effect of gathering at the CB.  It measures about 36 inches across, sleeve to sleeve.  The next section to be worked is the collar and waist part. 

Here’s a couple pics of my shrug thus far…  It was hard to get the whole thing in one picture without sacrificing details.


Bell Sleeve

Bell Sleeve

Vertical gathering at CB

Vertical gathering at CB


I promise the next post will definitely be about my moulage class with Kenneth King, day 3.  I have to take a picture of my sloper muslin for you first.

Happy sewing and knitting!

This quilting thing is complicated!

What is up with how complicated quilting is?  I”m not even piecing the top of this woobie and I am already running into design issues.  How do I quilt this sucker?  My mom suggested using machine stitched straight lines and then adding handstitched rockets inbetween.  I’ve been drawing different layouts, but it either looks to sparse or if it looks good, it will be the next ice age before I finish hand quilting this woobie and the poor kid will be a grandfather.

After work today, I am going to stop by the City Quilter for advice and supplies.  I just found out this woobie will be needed soon — fingers crossed — so I have to get cracking this weekend.  I need matching thread, cotton batting, and something called “Magic Sizing” (according to my mom this is a quilting necessity). 

I know, I know… you’re shaking your head at my too ambitious plans.  But we’ll see.   Never say never.  Here’s a stencil I found for a rocket:

space ship

Wish me luck tonight and this weekend!  Stay tuned for a post about Day 3 of my moulage class w/ Kenneth King.

I *heart* PatternReview!

If you don’t already know, I have been going through a sewing crisis of late.  My beginneritis began with the clown top and continued with delusions of Burda.  At the insistence  of continued pleas from my friend Victoria and Heather, I started researching Simplicity and Kwik-Sew patterns.  I looked for patterns I liked and then looked them up on Pattern Review to see if people liked them.  Truth be told, I actually did this 3 times, each turn taking a few hours, but lost the first two lists (maybe they ended up where all the lost socks go?).  But the third time was the charm and I came out with a list of 11 possibles to purchase.  I’d list them and their pretty pictures here if I had the time, but alas, I don’t right now. 

There’s just one itty bitty problem though…  Each pattern is on average $10, making the total purchase around $110.  Well, I’m spoiled by all the sales that “McVoguerick” (McCalls/Vogue/Butterick patterns) has and I certainly don’t want to pay that much.  So I posted last night on PatternReview to see if anyone knew of any online sales for Simplicity patterns.  By this morning I had no less than 6 offers from people willing to go to Joann’s this weekend (they’re having a 5/$5 sale on Simplicity this weekend), buy my patterns and mail them to me.  Can you believe that????  That’s amazing!  I was absolutely floored by everyone’s generosity of time and spirit!

Kisha on PatternReview said she lived in the NY metro area and was going to be meeting up with Karen in NYC in the beginning of June.  She said she would buy the patterns this weekend and I could meet up with them both then.  I can’t wait.  I’ve already met Karen at a previous PR meetup in the city last year when she wore her fabulous leather jacket.  Speaking of PR meet ups, PR had their annual weekend in Seattle this past weekend. I am so jealous of all who could attend.  From the pictures posted on Facebook, it looks like a lot of fun was had by all.  I hope I can go one year, maybe when Jack is a little older. 

Ok, I can’t resist.  I will leave you with one picture of one of the patterns that I hope Kisha will find this weekend.

Simplicity 2648

Simplicity 2648

Happy sewing everyone!

Pint-sized art apron

First an update:

No, I haven’t started the woobie (corrected spelling thanks to Kate!) yet.  I have to order some stencils for the quilting part.  Since there is no piecing for this project, I am going straight to the quilting.   I had a talk with the quilt expert (Mom) last night and she advised to quilt first in straight lines going in the same direction as the pinstripes on the flannel and then fill in with shapes that pertain to the print of the cotton, which is rockets and planets.  So there will be some internet searching today to find some stencils for that part of the project.

Now back to this post’s topic:

Jack and I went to a birthday party for a gorgeous little girl named Mia this past weekend.  She is only a month older than Jack, so I am fairly certain that she would be into the same kinds of things as he is at this stage.  Right now, Jack can’t get enough of finger painting, so I thought I’d get her some paints and make her a little something to go with it, kind of a themed birthday present.  Her mom, Tanya,  and I are friends and belong to the same knitting group in our neighborhood.  Tanya also sews and made Jack the cutest little stuffed animal for his birthday last year.  So I knew she’d like the little arts and crafts apron I made for Mia. 

This would have been a really quick and easy project had I remembered how to do it.  I had made aprons for all the women in my family two years ago as Christmas gifts (given with awesome cookbooks of course), but this was before I even knew I wanted to take up sewing and I had a friend helping me then.  So the order of construction was completely forgotten*.  At the time, the aprons seemed an extraordinarily simple project.  And they are, if you are a reasonably intelligent person.  Unfortunately, I am not. 

I spent a total of 3.5 hours on this project when it should have taken one at the most and made two wadders before I finished the gift.  But who’s counting???  *You might be thinking to yourself, “what order of construction?” since there no sleeves to set in on an apron.  Well, here’s my warning to you when you make your apron:  Don’t forget to add the straps into your seam allowances!  And in case you’re wondering, yes, that’s what I forgot to do on Wadder #2.  It was a mighty fine apron if you didn’t need it to wrap around your waist or hang around your neck.  I attempted to add the straps after the fact, but it just wasn’t pretty.  And let’s not talk about how I forgot that one should stitch the seam all the way around in one go, rather than iron one side and stitch, iron the next side and stitch, etc.  It was a horrendous mess!  Oh and Wadder #1?  Well, there was a slip up with the rotary cutter. Thank God my finger wasn’t in its path!

Wadders #1 and #2 took me until 11pm on Friday to make.  The party was at 10am on Saturday.  There was a moment there when I was going to just chuck the whole project.  But I thought, what’s another hour less of sleep going to hurt?  I pushed on and I’m glad I did.  I was done by midnight!  Here’s version #3 in all it’s cuteness (if I do say so myself):

mias apron

Here it is shown with the original inspiration on loan from my niece, Katie.

Mine and original

And here is a detail of how I sewed the straps into the seam allowance.

detail on straps and seam

I used hem tape ribbon for the straps and neck loop.  It’s all I had on hand and didn’t have time to make self fabric straps.  Also, I liked the black accents with this print.  Another bonus was that it’s soft for a little girl’s delicate skin!

Check out this for a beautiful wedding dress that a groom made for his bride!!!

Happy sewing everyone!

By special request

One of my close friends recently had a very premature baby.  He’s doing pretty well considering how early he was born, and we have lots of people holding him in their thoughts for his continued good progress.  In preparation for his homecoming, his mom asked that I make him a wooby (spelling???).  Her first son has one and she wanted one made for the latest addition to her family.  Fair’s fair, right? 

I don’t have any experience in wooby making, but I will give it a try.  Having never seen one before, I asked her for an exact description.  She said that it was a soft cotton on one side and flannel on the other with batting inbetween and quilted.  There is no binding.  The dimensions are 36″ by 54″.   I have never quilted before, so this project will definitely challenge me.  I want to make this as simply as possible to ensure a quality outcome, but still have it be beautiful. 

If you’ll recall, I have the perfect fabric for a little boy.  Shall we take a look at it again?  Oh thank you for saying yes! 

Jack's fabric's with orange cotton lining

Jack's fabric's with orange cotton lining

I am going to use the rockets print.  Isn’t that so cute?!?  I bought a really cute orange striped flannel from recently and it goes perfectly with the rockets cotton. 



I’m so excited.  I think I already have batting from when my mom worked on a quilt at my apt a couple of years ago.  I will have to see I have enough of it though.  I think I will use the flannel to create a simple binding too.  And I will embroider his name and birthdate on it too!  I have those options on my Viking Emerald 183.  Ooooh, I have so many ideas right now,  I can’t wait.  Maybe I’ll start this tonight!

My only question is, what kind of design should I do for the quilting???  Any suggestions?  A rocket shape?  Is that too complicated?  Free form?  a grid?  Help people!  I know that when my mom quilts, she tries to incoporate the theme of the quilt into the actual quilting.  *sigh*  Uh oh, I feel beginneritis coming on again…

Well anyway, happy sewing everyone!

Day 2 — Moulage Class with Kenneth King

My apologies for not writing this sooner, but yesterday was just too full a day. 

Wow, I am just digging this class.  I am so excited to see each stage and to see the sloper take shape.  It feels like magic.  It’s like when you see a photo as it develops in the chemicals.  Suddenly a shape, a figure, just appears out of nowhere.  Now if only my thighs weren’t so scarily large.  😉 

We finished the front pattern piece and here’s the funny thing, drew the back piece right on top of the front pattern piece.  Because all of the measurements refer back to each other and the system of points and axes (plural of axis) are also referential, it makes sense to put both pattern pieces on the same piece of paper.  So cool!  The back pattern piece went together much more quickly than the front. 

Two things of note:

  1. When we added our darts, Mr. King instructed us to make the inner side (towards the center) of the dart a straight line and the outer side of the dart to be curved inwards.  I didn’t exactly catch the reasoning behind this, but will ask again at the next class.  I thought it was important to mention here.
  2. My pelvic tilt is quite significant:  2 1/2 inches different from back to front.  When incorporating this in the sloper, Mr. Kind said that I should only put a 1 1/2 inch difference and that we’d tweak it in the muslin fitting.  I will be interested to see how much tweaking we’ll need to do here.  And who knew I was so crooked!?

The next stage was to transfer the patterns to fresh sheets of paper.  The class syllabus had asked us to bring kraft paper to draw our patterns on, but I only had pattern tissue at home, so that’s what I brought.  And boy was I glad that I had it for this stage, because all I had to do was trace it out.  No need for the tracing wheel and carbon paper.  Whoopee!  I was done in minutes while everyone was arduously using their wheels.  *patting myself on the back*  The only downside to the pattern tissue is that it’s more delicate than kraft paper.  So, at some point, I may want to transfer my sloper pattern to a more durable paper.   However, my extra time meant more conversation time with Kenneth King!  He has some great stories and a wonderful sense of humor. 

Once we had our pattern pieces traced, Mr. King showed us how to check our crotch curve.  He layed my pattern pieces over each other.  You could see how the crotch curve needed some tweaking, otherwise you would have a very painful seam there.  Here’s a drawing of how he smoothed out the curves (it’s a very basic drawing made with a hard to use pc program, so please don’t laugh).  The red line is end result for the crotch curve.curve

And here are pics of the patterns as they stand now, after Mr. King smoothed the crotch curve.

top pant sloper fronttop pant sloper backfront and back pant slopers

It’s very hard to photograph tracing paper I’ve found, so these are the best pictures I could get.  (Please ignore the toes in the bottom right.)

Next week, we are going to cut out the muslin and start sewing it up!  And then, we’ll make fitting adjustments if needed.  Ok, who am I kidding, we’ll probably have a lot of tweaking to do.   But how amazing is it that I will have a pants sloper? 

Can’t wait!!!

Please give Hope for Kai


Kai is a little boy who lives in my neighborhood in Lower Manhattan.  He is only 5 years old and has been diagnosed with leukemia.  Kai needs a bone marrow transplant to live.  He needs it now, yesterday even. 

The great news is that you can help save his life just by registering to be a bone marrow donor.  If you’re not a match for Kai, you may be for someone else.   You could be hero to Kai, to someone, to me, to everyone by doing one small thing…  Please consider registering to be a bone marrow donor.  It’s just a simple test, swabbing your mouth.  And then, if you’re a match, it’s just a simple out-patient procedure to donate bone marrow I know you haven’t even thought about (thanks to Patti Digh for pointing that out). 

Please give Hope for Kai!