Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2009 Sewing Goals

I've enjoyed reading everyone's end-of-year wraps up and goals met/not met, so I thought it would be fun to set some goals for myself for 2009.

1. Participate in at least one sewing contest. I tried to enter one of these last summer, but apparently you have to be a member for 3 months before you can do so.

2. Make more day-to-day wear. In the past I've sewn mostly dressy/lined garments because those are the most expensive in the stores. I got a good start on this during the past 6 months.

3. Learn how to sew a nice pair of pants. Now I have made pants in the past, but have never been happy with the fit. I was resolved to make everything but pants for the past few years, however, there are several pants patterns I want to try this coming year.

4. Make more casual dresses - either knits or garments without linings that are easily washed.

5. Make at least one of the coats I planned for the 2008/2009 winter. With my new machine and the great coat buttonholes it makes, I really have no excuse.

6. Continue learning/perfecting my knitting skills. Complete at least one knitted garment every 2 months.

I guess I'll start small and see if I can get these all met. I was going to do a post about my favorites from this past year, but without my usual computer, I can't call up any of the saved pictures. Oh well.

I hope you all have a very Happy New Year!!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Butterick 5283 - Green floral knit top

*Our Mac is in the shop so I'm having to use a very ancient Dell laptop to do this post. The screen resolution of this computer is so poor, I could have a huge piece of pepper in my teeth and not be able to see it. Please excuse any glaring flaws...

Here's my newest top, as promised. It has a cute front twist and is made from Ity Jersey knit. I accidentally cut it a little small. It's not super tight, just a bit more form fitting then I usually wear. I do love it, though. This is the first garment made on my new sewing machine. I had so much fun making it.

Here's the back. This design is very simple.

Close up of the front twist:
(This design creates a large space under the twist and above the bottom bodice, right in the cleavage. I slip-stitch it closed. The twist would be cuter if it weren't stitched down, so if I make this again, I'll have to figure out how to close that space up.)

This is the inside twist. I decided to hand-stitch the facings over the front seam, instead of catching the front and the facing together in the seam, per the instructions. I think it looks neater this way, and really takes very little time.

I used french seams for the sides and arms, and covered the armhole seams with bias tape.

Here you can see the back neckline, which is finished with bias tape. This is part of the design, and creates a smooth finish without the bulk of a facing.

I actually bought this pattern for view D, but don't like the dropped shoulders. I couldn't figure out how to make them into regular shoulders - will have to cut it out with the dropped shoulders, sew it up, then try the top on to determine where to cut. But that seamed like a lot of work, and I really wanted to try out my new machine, so I went with view B. I do plan to make D in the near future, though.

Oh, I just have to show you my fabric steal. Jo-Ann's was having a half price sale on all their clearance decorator fabrics. Sometimes these can be used for fashion fabrics, so I started looking around. This is a 100% silk with embroidered flowers that retailed for $49.99 a yard. It was marked down to $12/yard, so I got it for $6/yard!!! I think it's just beautiful and am going to save it for something really special.

Up next is the jacket from this post. I've finished tracing the pattern, and am going to start cutting it out tonight.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Check this out!

Thanks to all of you who gave me such helpful advice about purchasing a new sewing machine. I decided to go to a few machine shops and try out what they had to offer. The sales lady at the first shop told me what price her machines started off at, and I should have run out of the store then and there. Not exactly in my price range. But for some reason I stayed and let her give me a demo of her Brothers and Berninas. I loved them, but they were super pricey. I then went to another store that sold Singer and Viking. That sales lady didn't even want to show me the Singers because she thought the Vikings were so much better. And they were fine, but paled in comparison to what I saw at the first shop. Then I went home and talked it over with Justin, and looked at the machine reviews on Pattern Review, and thought and thought. I returned to the first shop.

Introducing my new baby - the Brother NX-450.

This is quite a machine. It has a ton of features that I won't go into here. I have a lot to learn. But I LOVE it. It was definitely and investment and I know I'll get my money's worth over the next few decades. Here's the pre-programmed stitches:

I should have a knit shirt completed and posted tomorrow. Goodbye for now!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Help! My machine has bit the dust!

My machine is dead. The turning wheel on the right side has been getting harder and harder to turn. Now it has stopped all together. I tried to take the cover off to maybe oil it but I seriously would never be able to get it back together. Oh, and did I mention I was finishing my sister's Christmas present when this came to a head? Serves me right for waiting until the last minute...

Anyway, my current machine was a gift and I have no idea where to go to find a good deal. There's always the local fabric store but I'm sure I could get a better price online. Amazon has a good looking Singer - Confidence 7470, for under $400. Does anyone have this machine and like it? Is that a good price? Where do I buy feet that don't come with the machine? Aaaa! I need help! Any suggestions would be very appreciated.

Oh, Merry Christmas too!!!

***Edited to add that I currently have a New Home 2022, which was put out by Brother. It's about 9 years old and is very loud. I've been meaning to replace it for awhile, but I've been intimidated because I don't know what to buy as far as brands, price, where to get one, etc. ***

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Okay, about Butterick 5277...

Yesterday I posted about my failed Christmas dress from Butterick 5277, and I've gotten some feedback thanking me for the heads-up about this pattern being a dud.

Please do not misunderstand, I don't think there's any major flaws to it. If you loved it before my post about it, make it! I still think it's really pretty. The reasons mine bombed are that I didn't understand the fitting around the bust/sleeves and I choose the wrong fabric. I totally think were I to try it again, I would be successful. However, I did throw it away because a. it was lethargic to get rid of it after all my frustration, and b. I know myself. Were I to put it back in my pattern drawer I would always remember all the problems and I would never get around to making it again. You can think of it as a superstition of sorts. Once cursed, always cursed with that particular pattern, or something like that.

Here are my suggestions for successfully making this pattern:
1. The top must be fitted. I cut mine too big and had major gaping at the sleeves. The result was not pretty and displayed my undergarments.
2. Crape-back satin isn't the best choice of fabrics, in my opinion. It is too thin for this simple little sheath.
3. The underarm seams really need to be interfaced. Probably the neck as well if making views A or B.
4. If making view C and you want your collar to stand up like the drawing, interfacing needs to be added unless you are using a stiff fabric.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Blah - Two wadders in a row

Wow, this hasn't happened to me in awhile. And grrrr, I am SO IRRITATED!

Here's the blouse I was making, Vogue 2912. It's the bottom right view. The top of the bodice has pleats across the front. That tie looks a little 80's but I loved it anyway. I knew I needed something silky and slinky so the tie would hang correctly. Now I remember why charmeuse is not my favorite fabric to work with.

But the fabric actually wasn't the problem, it was the unfortunate location of the 4th button. Although a bit hard to tell from this picture, it makes the bodice cave in right under the bust. Had I the insight to place the buttonhole below the horizontal seam, all would have been fine. But I cannot fix this unless I take the entire blouse apart and recut that front piece. We are talking hours of work. And I have tried placing snaps here and there with no change in outcome.

Up next is this cute Butterick 5277, the black view with high collar.

Oh my gosh, this dress was a nightmare. I made it in a crape-backed satin in bright red for the Christmas candlelight service at church. Stupid fabric. You have to use a squirt bottle to get a crisp ironed seam but the water leaves marks from time to time. The pattern calls for zero interfacing, although it certainly needs some along the armhole sleeve seams (which I added because it was stretching out there.) And that collar could definitely benefit from interfacing, since it in no way resembles the standing collar on the pattern envelope. I spray starched the heck out of it to get some firmness. Still droopy. Which I really could have lived with were it not for the awful fit issues I was having. Gaping here, wrinkles there. I worked and worked and worked on the fitting. I'm D-O-N-E with it. I'll have no new dress for Christmas.

Close-up of the droopy collar:

And oh, yes, I bought the perfect shoes to wear with it. Guess I'll have to make another red dress. But not out of crape-backed satin, and not with this awful pattern. It's going in the trash, along with the dress after I salvage the zipper.

I'm feeling rather bah-humbugged about the whole last 2 weeks of sewing. But I am excited about Christmas, so I'm going to walk away from my sewing machine and spend time with my family until after the holiday.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

New Simplicity patterns!

Finally, some new patterns to report. Check out the new Simplicity line here. I'm basically seeing more of the same of last spring and summer: blousy dresses and tops, maternity-looking tops, and pleated skirts. These aren't bad looks, I've just seen them before.

I've decided to start wearing more dresses this summer instead of my boring denim capris, so I was happy to see this pattern:

Some of these views are a bit young for me. I like the dress on the top, second from the left (on the blacklines below). Maybe without the bodice pleats and the tie and belt loops going all the way around.

These pants look promising:

They also have a really cute goddess-length dress that I think might be popular. Problem is, I don't like long skirts on my body, so I'll pass on it. What do you people think of this new spread?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Butterick 3525 - Sheer animal print blouse

Here's a cute blouse to match my new skirt. Like my belt? It is nice from the front, but not from the back (too tight - makes the skirt bunch, and the leather is longer on one side then the other). I found this at Dillard's in the clearance rack, but they didn't have my size. So I then drove to two other stores until I found it. Now I have to return it. Grrrr. Okay, back to the blouse.

I love sheers but have a hard time finding patterns to make them up in. Since this fabric has a black background, I was able to use black interfacing at the collar, front placket, and cuffs.

I took it in on the sides for a more fitted look. But oops, I took it in too much, so had to remove the back darts.

I love these cuffs. They're what drew me to this pattern.

Here's a close-up of the front button placket:

This design has the collar and collar-stand as one piece. I am not fond of this element because the collar flops off to the sides. I had to really starch the heck out of it to get the collar to stay in place. I'll not be doing that again.

I used french seams for the sides and sleeves. The hem was a simple 5/8" double turn under.

Instead of my usual bias tape finish at the armholes, I opted to just trim it to 3/8" and zig-zag. I didn't want black bias tape showing through at the armpits.

Here's the pattern. I've had it for awhile so now it's OOP. This is one of those patterns I've made over and over. But because of the collar-stand issue it's going into retirement.

Here's my little Daniel wanting to join in on the photo-shoot. He wasn't dressed yet and it was a little chilly so we told him he'd have to get some clothes on before he could come outside. He came back wearing this "outfit".

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pink mock-turtleneck tube vest

Here it is, just in time for Christmas... my latest sweater! What?! Doesn't everybody want a sleeveless pink sweater to wear for the holidays? When I started this 2 months ago, I was making it to wear under a short sleeve jacket for fall. Well, fall passed me by quickly and I didn't like it under the jacket after all. I really love it, though perhaps won't get much of a chance to wear it for a few months or so. But you never know. I'm living in south Texas and there have been years I've worn shorts on Christmas. Okay, quit blabbing and show the pictures already:

This is the 'Perfect Periwinkle Turtleneck Tube Vest' from Fitted Knits. I used 6 balls of Universal Yarn's Panda 100% Bamboo yarn, and I used every bit of that. This would have been done way sooner were it not for my troubles with lifted increases. I knitted and frogged the front and back several times, and then went to the local yarn store for help. I was doing it correctly, but for some reason was getting huge holes only one one side. Very frustrating! I ended up doing M1L and M1R instead of the lifted increases. Then all that ribbing on the bottom got super boring. I finally just powered through it to get it finished.

I'm SO proud (relieved) of how well it fits!

I did start a new knitting project, Knit and Tonic's Fab-Classic, in that brown yarn from this sweater vest. However, with my slow rate of completing projects, I guess you can expect to see that in two months. Darn my pokeyness!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

BWOF 12-2008-118 - Black wool skirt

Here's my new skirt! Hurray, something for me!! Okay, so this was totally not on my radar to make. I surprisingly did not own a black skirt, but really wasn't feeling the need for one either. And then I got the December magazine in the mail and fell completely in love with this design. I had all the materials in my stash so didn't have to buy anything. And what do you know? With this one little addition I suddenly have 3 new outfits!

Here's the back. It's looking like a nice black blob, right? Don't worry, the next few pictures are in full sun so you can see the details.

Let's start with the black-line drawing so you can see exactly what is going on here. I've scanned it for you because Burda never puts the drawings of the back on their website. Grrr, that's a pet peeve.


Side one:
(Notice the slight amount of bulk at the waistline. This is why I always plan to wear this with a belt. Even the model in the magazine picture has one on.)

Side two:


Zipper closing:

Inside picture of lining:

Magazine picture:
I've decided I need to find a cute wide belt like this one.
And what is up with this pose? She's covering the lines of the skirt with her clutch. Sometimes the pictures they choose to show off their designs leave me scratching my head.

Well, this practically flew off my machine. And I even had some fit issues since it's my first BWOF bottom. I'm done with all the costumes and am back to garment sewing!!! I am making a few Christmas gifts, though, but will have to wait until after the holiday to post pictures of those.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

BWOF 11-2008-103B - Brown print knit top

Well, I finally finished it! When did I start this knit shirt, 2 weeks ago?! I am intimidated by Burda World of Fashion no more. They seem to be putting at least one fashionable knit top in each magazine these days. I need knit tops, so that makes me happy.

They do like low necklines, though, so I'm sporting a cami. I used another busy print. At first I thought I'd made a mistake, but now I really like it. I paid special attention while cutting this out that one of those bulls-eyes did not end up in a bad location.

Here's the back:
I changed up the inside construction a bit. I doubled the front top pieces to create a lining instead of the self facing the instructions call for, and slip-stitched it under the bust and at the shoulder seams. The front neck was stabilized with a single layer of bias tape so it didn't stretch and gap there. I think this must have cinched it up a little, since my top doesn't look as low as the one on the model.

Bias tape was used at the back neckline and to cover the arm seams. Here you can also see where the top front "lining" was slip-stitched to the shoulder.

I used french seams at the sides and arms:

Here's the magazine picture. The one with long sleeves doesn't show the details, so I'm posting the short sleeve view.

Okay, I've really got to make some jackets and coats now. Hopefully I'll soon be able to return to regular sewing. Have a happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Ask and ye shall receive!

Thank you to everyone who wrote in with helpful hints about my glitter dot fabric fiasco. You people had a ton of good advice. You are not going to believe what actually solved my problem!

I had figured out right after I posted that the residue left on the machine needle was what was causing the skipped stitches. It came off with Goo-Gone and would sew perfectly for about 4 inches. Problem was, I had to clean it off after every 4 inches and that was taking forever. Then I checked out, that Dawn suggested, and one of their solutions was to use a silicone lubricant on the needle. Hmmm, don't have that, do have machine oil that is suppose to be clear and stainless. And what do you know, it worked! So now I put a drop on my needle (with the aid of the telescoping spout which came with the bottle) every 12 inches or so, and it sews up beautifully!

Here's the mystery, though. The blue dance skirt was actually the third one I made using the same fabric! I had absolutely zero problems with the first two. That was the reason for my extreme frustration. I could not figure out what had changed from the second to the third. Nothing had. So why my machine suddenly decided it didn't like sewing on confetti dot fabric, I guess I'll never know.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Dear Confetti Dot Fabric...

I have decided that we can no longer be friends. You are a mean, mean fabric. You leave weird residue on my machine needle:

Your dots pop off and stick to my iron no matter how low a setting I put it on, but I must press you to get a crisp hemline.

And worst of all, machine stitches skip so much on you, it is driving me insane!!!

You made me so frustrated yesterday, I cried all my eye makeup off and contemplated throwing my machine out the window. Then I borrowed a friend's machine, thinking mine was broken, and am having the same issues! (Although I now realize that I really really want a new machine for Christmas.) You make a very pretty dance skirt, but you are not worth all the sweat and tears. And were it not for the fact that I already bought yards and yards of you for my church's Christmas musical, you would be in the trash can.

I hope we never meet again!

Amanda S.

Seriously, does anybody have any tips for working with this stuff? I have tried just about everything: adjusting the tension up and down, sewing on the opposite side of the fabric, stretching the fabric, switching machines. I have 6 more dance skirts to make and don't want to make myself completely crazy. Thanks!