Monthly Archives: February 2010

Distracted

After my last few muslin travesties, my mojo has disappeared.  And on top of that the Olympics have been grabbing my attention every evening.  I have SWAG (ala Selfish Seamstress) to sew, but even that has not spurred me to sew.  Also my parents are visiting as well, so even more distractions. 

So I am here to say I am not here.  Please stay tuned, I’ll be back. 

I promise!

I hope your sewing mojo is in full force.

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Sizing – Argh!

Last night I sewed up another muslin of another New Look pattern, #6807, in “my” size (16).  This sucker was 3 maybe 4 sizes too big!!!!  How can New Look’s sizing be that kind of variable from pattern to pattern.  That is just insane!  Thank the gods I didn’t use any good fabric.  I used the really icky dots fabric as my knit muslin. 

This is what it’s supposed to look like:

New Look 6807

And this is what it looks like on me:

 

YUCKORAMA!!!  Apologies for the blurry bathroom pic.

I am stepping away from my work wardrobe TNT project and sewing some birthday presents (don’t get mad at me Selfish Seamstress) for my nieces and nephew.  I need a break from crappy pattern sizing.

Hoping you have a better sewing weekend than me!

Thea saves the day

I am a little late in writing this post about my lesson last week, but better late than never.  And a warning – this is a long post.

If you will recall I had made two muslins recently that required either a trash can or resuscitation,  The grandma skirt and the knit top from hell.  That post generated the most comments I have ever received for any one post.  I was overwhelmed by all of the kind words and moral support you provided as well as for all of the good ideas.  Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and for putting up with my whining about my weight and pattern sizes.  I’d like to highlight some of the comments:

Faye shared: “I am in the SAME boat … I still need clothes so I sew for where I am now, and will when I do lose the weight, I’ll sew for where I am then.”  I know you’re right, that I should sew for the body I have now, but I don’t want to.  *stamping foot like a toddler in the middle of a temper tantrum*  My urge to sew is negatively correlated to how out of shape I am, unfortunately.  Ugh! 

Sue suggested: “… none of us are going to fit into any clothing/pattern without some tweaking.”  As I shared with Karen on the phone the other night, I stupidly assumed that, after the sz 14 turned out to be too small, of course the sz 16 would be just right and would require no tweaking at all.  WRONG!

Robin mentioned: “I have TNT patterns that I use over and over.  When I want a new style, I work out a frankenpattern, rather than try to sew a muslin from a commercial pattern.”  I haven’t been sewing (i.e., producing) long enough to have any TNT patterns yet.  In fact, muslining the Simplicity skirt was my first attempt to find a TNT pencil skirt (post on TNT’s still in the works).  Read on further in this post, however, for more progress on this front.

Hatty pointed out: “Oh and another thing — what’s in your construction queue — that Burda cardi/jacket thing — that’s a definite no-no unless you are feeling devastatingly attractive and tall and willowy.”  OMG!  You’re right!  I am taking that out of the queue pronto.  Thanks for saving me from some more frumpy angst!

Helen bravely brought up: “You know, underneath all the stuff about your size there is that disturbing comment about ‘not expecting to date’ for some time, which we are all politely ignoring because it is so worrying.”  You are right too Helen, I should not feel that I have to be skinny to date, but while I understand that, I still can’t feel motivation to date when I don’t feel good about myself.  It’s a little bit of a catch 22.  But hopefully, after somehow working in working out again, I will feel better about myself and feel the urge to get out into the fray again.  The problem is, though, as a single parent, it’s hard to find time to work out without having to pay a babysitter to do so.  I can do it, but it’s a tricky business, can be expensive and you have to be extremely motivated work it into your schedule.

JC asked: “Did you enjoy your sew fast sew easy class?  Yes, I did.  I wrote a couple of posts about the projects I worked on in that class where I detail what I learned.  Check them out!  I highly recommend their classes.  However, one of the reasons I have Thea as my teacher now is that she comes to my apartment so I don’t have to pay babysitting on top of the class fee.

Now back to my muslin disasters…  I showed them to Thea and we went to work on them.  For the skirt, Simplicity 2452, I just needed to nip in at the hips and down the sides of the skirt a 1/4 inch on each side seam as the waist was fine.  When it was pinned to the correct size, the skirt looked exactly the way I wanted it to look: fitted but not too fitted.  It was the pencil skirt I have been searching for; the grandma skirt had disappeared.  Yeah!  I used the french curve ruler to redraw the pattern taking it in a 1/4 inch.  It was pretty easy actually.  See my adjusted pattern below.  So this could be my TNT pencil skirt pattern.  I am going to finish up this skirt even though the more I work with the fabric, the more I dislike it and I’m going to add a lining.  I want to see how it looks all finished to be sure I like this skirt pattern before I cut into any of my nice suiting fabrics.  I don’t want to make any more “muslins” for this pattern if I can help it.  🙂

2452 pencil skirt hip alteration

I haven’t finished the skirt so no pictures yet.  Be patient dear readers. 

Next I tried on the knit top for Thea and she thought it looked just fine on me.  She thought the pulling/wrinkles on the bust were part of the drape and didn’t bother her at all.  She liked the top.  I looked at it again with kinder eyes and just may agree.  Although I am waffling on it since I still feel self conscious about my thick middle section.  Thea said we could add a little more to the side seams on the front pattern piece under the arms for more room for the bust and see what happens.  I think I may try that in my ugly dots knit fabric.  Again, I don’t want to waste any of my nice knits on another muslin.  While Thea was there, I sewed on one of the sleeves and I had my first experience of too much sleeve cap ease.  New Look requires you to gather the sleeve cap before inserting the sleeve.  Ridiculous!  It’s a pattern for a knit fabric people!  How about just drafting a knit sleeve cap that fits into the armscye?  Brilliant idea.  Now let’s do that from now on.  I asked Thea to redraw the sleeve cap as I hadn’t a clue as to how to do that.  I’ll try it out the new sleeve along with the new front pattern piece on my next iteration of this top. 

6901 altered sleeve pattern piece

crappy sleeve insertion due to excess sleeve cap

lovely drape front -- best feature of the top

I thought I could salvage this top by removing the back neck facing and finishing it in another fashion, but I can’t remove the facing for the life of me.  It’s on there but good.  I could only get two inches unattached.  I am admitting defeat with this iteration.

the gosh durned stubborn back facing

The reason why I am working so hard to make this top and skirt work is simple.  TNT’s people.  I need ’em.  I want ’em.  They’re worth the effort, the tweaking.  Once I get these two patterns working for me for how I look now, (*sigh*) I can start ramping up the wardrobe factory production because I need a lot more work clothes.  A lot.  I am sick and tired of what’s in the rotation. I want some variety and more of it.  And I want it NOW!!!  And to be truthful, it isn’t hard to make these patterns work for me and my body.  The changes are simple and easy, so it’s not like I am redrafting the pattern.  I just became easily discouraged at first.  I was focusing on the wrong thing, my body, not the fit of the pattern.  Not that I shouldn’t get in shape or anything, but I can and will sew for the body I have now.  It will take time and much effort to get back to where I want to be, shape-wise, and I am going to need to clothe myself in the interim.  So I better get cracking!

So I am going to do a little poll with New Look 6901.  I will show you a picture of me wearing the top and you let me know via the poll what you think.  Deal?

Oh and I almost forgot!  Thea also looked at my alhambra clover fabric that was printed off-grain.  She thinks it just needs a  better pressing than I gave it previously and it should be fine.  Wow!  I can’t tell you how relieved I was.  However, I think I need a little time off from this fabric for a while before I reattempt cutting it again.  We need a break from each other. 

Happy tweaking everyone!

Meet my new friends and fabrics

Yesterday I had the pleasure to meet up with several NY Pattern Review members for a PR shopping day in the garment district.  A huge thank you to my sister for taking care of my son so I could enjoy a whole day fondling fabrics and the company of like-minded people.  Eight sewists showed up: Catherine, Emory, Cynthia, Ann, Sarah, Mikhaela, Peter and the two Elizabeths (one of them being myself).  Peter was a hoot and it was great to finally meet one of the 2-3 men from PR.  Unfortunately, his identical cousin Cathy was not able to make it to our gathering.  We had wide-ranging sewing experience between us all, from one person who was only one month into her sewing journey to one who teaches sewing. 

The crew at Greenberg & Hammer

We met up at Greenberg & Hammer to shop their notions and moved on from there to Metro Textiles, H&M Fabrics, Ebad Fabrics, Botani Buttons and Modeani Fabrics (the store that is continually going out of business apparently for years).   All new places to me except for Metro Textiles.

At Greenberg I bought some embroidery floss for 25¢/piece and tailor’s crayon.  Crayon, not chalk.  Elizabeth, the other one (3rd from the right of the people standing in the picture above), swore by the tailor’s crayons.  Haven’t tried it out yet though.  From Botani, I bought some embroidery scissors, and several styles of buttons for my nieces’ projects I have planned soon (more info on that in an upcoming post) and a big ole bag o’ buttons.  I don’t have much of a button stash, so when I see bags of them, I just buy them. 

Buttons, floss and more...

I bought the most fabric from Kashi at Metro Textiles.  A few knits, some remnants…  Sarah turned me on to the remnant bin at Kashi’s.  I didn’t know he had one before this and I’ve been going there for over a year now.  Sweet!  I have two border prints which will be dresses some day, a Missoni-like sweater knit that will be a tank and cardigan set, a black and white knit remnant which will be a top, and heavy flannelly like denim-like (those are my technical terms, not Kashi’s) fabric which could be a pencil skirt and some boy’s pants.  Oh, I also bought my first plaid.  I like that it’s not your typical plaid; it has a pink stripe in it.  I only bought a yard, but now think I should have bought some more because of the matching necessity.  Oh well, live and learn.  Here are some pics of my new stash and of all of us crammed into Kashi’s store.

Shopping at Metro Textiles

 

After taking a lunch break, we hit up H&M fabrics, both of them, Ebad and Modeani.  I bought the following stuff…  From H&M I got this beautiful blue ombre knit for which I have no idea what I am going to make.  I also bought the black linen with embroidered silver circles from Modeani.  From Ebad I bought four yards of black cotton batiste for a steal at $4/yd.  I’ll use that to line the linen for a sheath dress.  Yum!  Here are the pics…

I tried to shop with a plan, but plans go out the window when you don’t see what you’re looking for.  Regardless, I am very happy with my purchases and I had a great time with new friends.  Double whammy of goodness!

I received some really great comments on my last post which I would like to address more deeply.  But you’ll have to wait until next time!

Happy sewing!

Muslin Hell

I am in muslin hell.  I made muslins for Simplicity 2452 and New Look 6901 over the last two weeks.  I hate them.  And no I don’t have pictures.  I would die of shame if you saw pictures.  Not flattering is the kindest term I can come up with to describe the awfulness that is the state of these muslins. 

Simplicity 2452

Let’s start the discussion with Simplicity 2452.  I first made this skirt in a size 14 in true muslin.  Choosing the size 14 was an exercise in futility wishful thinking.  I know sizes are just numbers, but folks, I really have a hard time swallowing the fact that I am a size 16.  Ok, so moving on, I choked back the tears accepted my “true” size and did another test run of this skirt in size 16 with some fabric of which I am not enamored.  I originally bought this stretch cotton for my Sew Fast Sew Easy class to make an elasticized waist skirt.  It’s a heavier weight (read: stiff — could stand up on it’s on) with Jacquard like stripes in an irregular pattern.  It’s easy to work with but the hand is not pleasant, think 70’s polyester blend.  Of course it doesn’t even enter my mind at this point that the size 16 wouldn’t fit, so I didn’t baste the side seams, I just sewed them at the regular stitch length (2.5 on my machine).  I hand basted the zipper in and tried it on. 

All I needed to complete the picture was a cane; I looked like I was at least 20 yrs older than I am.  What the?!?!??!?  It fit fine at the waist, but from the hips and down past the thighs, it was poufy (for lack of a better word).  Now I have to fit this size 16 to my apparently rectangular fat shape.  Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?  Have I done it yet?  NO!  Do I feel inclined to do it?  NO!  Will it be done? Maybe.  I don’t know.  We’ll see if and when I feel less bitter about this skirt. 

New Look 6901

Now for the New Look 6901 muslin…  I made view A the drape neck top in the pretty purple rain dress remnant as my muslin.  This time I “knew” to make the size 16.  First let me say that the New Look directions are great!  I understood every one of the steps.  The drafting is great too.  So let me tell you how I managed to screw up this simple top royally.  I got all fancy and decided to use my serger for the construction (not just the seam finishing).  The serger was not a good choice for attaching the back neckband facing.  Ask me how I know.  Then I proceeded to completely stretch the back neck out of all recognition by topstitching the facing after serging it.  It looks like hell.  The drape on the front, however, is beautiful.  After serging the side seams closed, I tried on my top.  Let me point out first though, before putting the top on, it looked ginormous in my hands.  Like triple XL ginormous.  I was scared it would be too big.  However, I didn’t realize how scared I should have been, because it fit.  For the most part.  It fit in the waist and shoulders.  Where it did not fit was in the bust.  Now, I am not of the opinion that I am overly well endowed in that region.  I would say that I am a little bigger than average.  I wear a C cup.  That’s it.  No FFF cups here.  Well that top was straining in the bust area with no less than three bust wrinkles.  And the drape?  The drape was draped BEHIND the bust wrinkles.   BEHIND!!!!  What the hell is up with that??  How is that even physically possible?  I can’t wrap my head around it.  And in case you’re wondering, the overall look of the top on me?  Reminiscent of women who wear clothes that are too young for their age.  I’m not that old people!!!!  

I knew I had gained some weight the last two years, but I must be suffering from some sort of delusion major body dysmorphia where I think I’m thinner than I actually am.  I have this picture in my mind of how I looked in 1997 and I’ve kind of frozen myself there in that year.  OMG, that’s thirteen years ago!  I thought it was only 5 yrs ago.  Time just flies after you turn 30 I guess.  Since I’ve had Jack, I’ve had this thought paradigm floating around my head that I can’t date right now.  Who wants to date a woman with a toddler, or who hasn’t lost the baby weight or gained more weight as if she had another baby but didn’t have another?  I can’t afford the babysitting costs required by having a social life.  So in my mind why should I bother losing weight or getting into shape again if I have no social life anyway.  What I hadn’t realized was just how much weight I have gained.  It’s shocking to me.  I guess these last two muslins have really made me look at myself in the mirror.  You know how you can look, but not really see?  That’s what I have been doing with mirrors since Jack was born, looking but not seeing.  Looking enough to put my make up on in the morning or do my hair, but not seeing the additional weight in all its glory.  

The funny thing is, I think back to when I was thin and dating and I distinctly remember thinking I was not thin.  Not fat, but not thin either.  It’s amazing how one’s perspective can be so skewed.  Now I know that I was thin then.  And now I see that I am not thin now.  *sigh*  

I have to start working out.  There’s just no hiding that fact anymore.  Even if dating is not in my near future, I still need to feel good about myself.  *double sigh*  Ok, I will stop writing TMI and get back to sewing.  I am not trying to be all self pitying right now, I am just sharing my sewing journey and a major part of sewing is being realistic about your measurements and sewing for the body you have now, not what you wish you had.  Am I making sense? 

Not sure what I am going to work on next, but probably New Look 6807. 

New Look 6807

Hope everyone else has a better sewing week than me.

Knit Top Patterns

In my last post, Drunk Printing, I mentioned that I was searching for a good knit top pattern to make some tops for my work wardrobe.  One sure way to punch up the volume in your work wardrobe is to have a variety of tops to wear with suits.  Confession time: for each suit I own, I really only have one dedicated top to wear with that suit.  So if you’ve seen me wear my brown suit, you’ve seen me wear my ice blue top from Ann Taylor with it pretty much all the time.  It’s time to change things up a bit, don’t you think?

I did some research on PatternReview.com today to find out what different people thought about some of the Simplicity/New Look/Jalie knit top patterns.  I started with those pattern companies for the following reasons…

  1. Because Victoria told me to use Simplicity patterns no less that 3,456,217 times and in bold capital letters no less. (And also, they do tend to have really good directions.)
  2. New Look: because, darn! they’re cheap.
  3. Jalie: because Dawn loves them and I keep hearing how great they are with knit patterns.

After completing my research I came up with the following choices and purchased them from PatternReview because they were cheaper there:

New Look 6807

I like the top the model is wearing the best for under suits.  Super cute.  Second runner-up would be view B or E, but to be honest with you I can’t tell what the difference is between the two.  This pattern is my favorite. 

New Look 6901

Next up is this little cowl neck number.  I loves me a cowl neck.  But as Trena pointed out in the comments of the last post, they sometimes don’t work well under suits.  I’ll have to mull that one over for a while. 

New Look 6940

And the final New Look pattern is this cute knot top.  Love it.

Jalie 2806

I looked at all of Jalie’s offerings and really liked this one.  I have never used Jalie before, so I bought only one pattern to try them out.  Dawn likes them and she’s made some really cute clothes with their patterns, so I thought I’d give them a whirl. 

Of course, after I made this purchase, I saw all the suggestions made in the comments to my last post.  Robin suggested Simplicity 4095 but I am just not feeling crossover tops right now.  Still it’s a pretty top and a good suggestion.  Sue suggested Butterick 5354 which I loved and will definitely buy sometime soon.  Trena suggested Butterick 5283 and Burda 7866.  I liked both of them, so they’re going on my sometime soon list too.

And Marie-Christine wanted to be sure to warn me against making the badly printed fabric into curtains.  Apparently she spoke from experience.  Marie-Christine, I consider myself warned and will not do so!   😉

I am very happy with my pattern choices (current and future) and already feel the warm glow of a great wardrobe descending onto my being.  I can’t wait to receive my new patterns and start the work wardrobe manufacturing pronto. 

Happy sewing everyone!

Drunk Printing

So this is what I think happened… 

Guy printing stretch cotton: “Whoa, maybe I had a few too many at lunch today.” Unprinted Stretch Cotton: “Step away from me pal!”

Alhambra Clover Print Design: “We like the straight grain, only the straight grain dude!” 

Guy: “This looks ok, maybe no one will notice.” 

Fabric store owner who shall remain nameless: “Maybe no one will notice.” 

Me: “ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” 

lame hand drawn graphic

 

Thank you all for your supportive comments about my recent discovery of some badly printed fabric that I bought way back in 2008.  My fabric was not only printed off grain, but it begins to skew in the middle of the pattern ever so slightly.  Enough that there is no way to match the print at all, no matter what method is used.  See my “graphic” above for my expert visual illustration of this problem (the writing tablet lines are the straight grain of my fabric, the green lines are the pattern printed on my fabric).  I’ve tried cutting in single layers, I’ve tried matching it up on different parts of my 3 yd cut.  I’ve tried inverting the pattern piece. All to no avail.  I have officially given up on this fabric.  Sigh.  I really love the alhambra clover pattern too.  double sigh. 

By the way, I am trying to make Simplicity 2452, a pencil skirt.  I hope it will become my TNT pencil skirt, but that’s a discussion for another post.  

Simplicity 2452

 

What I’m trying to say is that this is all it took to stop my sewing mojo in it’s tracks for a couple of days.  Last night, in a fit of determination and before Jack went to bed and my closet of sewing stuff/stash was inaccessible for the evening, I looked at all of my fabric for a suitable stand in fabric to learn print matching at seams.  Unfortunately, I have a bad case of good-fabric-itis and don’t want to cut into any of those fabrics yet.  So I resorted to some slightly icky black (subtly striped) fabric left over from my class at Sew Fast Sew Easy.  It’s a stretch cotton.  I wanted to attempt matching the stripes using the Selfish Seamstress’ discovery of the easiest way to match stripes/plaids.  I think my stripes were too irregular and too subtle for this method, but I still recommend it as it looks like it works.    However, I also looked at my patterns for a good knit top pattern to make some tops for my suits.  I don’t have a lot of work appropriate separates and desperately need to grow my wardrobe.  However, after perusing my pattern stash and all of my Burda’s, I couldn’t find anything!!!!  My parameters were easy, work appropriate and attractive.  Can I tell you that it seemed like I was asking too much?  If the pattern was easy, it was shapeless and fugly.  If the pattern was attractive it looked to difficult.  I want knock out a few of these with my printed knits, not spend two weeks on one top.  

If anyone has any pattern suggestions for cute knit top, I am all ears. 

Tonight I am going to attempt S2452 with my slightly icky fabric.  I will consider it my 2nd muslin (the first muslin story is part of the TNT post to come).  

Happy sewing everyone!