Friday, July 29, 2011

Hoarding: The ugly side to sewing

When sewing, inspirations comes from everywhere, especially yourself. I made some very nice Christmas stockings and then decided I would make a beautiful Christmas look this year. I now have 7 yards of Moda Countdown to Christmas material.

I am amazed how soft this fabric is. If I weren't a teacher terrified of being dubbed a "sweater wearer", those of you in education know. Picture the lady in mid November at the meeting in the Reindeer Christmas sweater with the jingle bell earrings and reading glasses with tiny Christmas trees on the arms. Anyway, I digress, if I weren't horribly afraid of being that person I would wear something made of this material.

How cute is this?

And with the stockings that started it all. I chose this fabric, first because I love it, but second because it matches the stockings I made pretty nicely. I also like Riley Blake's Christmas Candy line as well as a quilt using it. I can;t find the link to it anymore, but I have a pdf if you want it. I kind of want to try a quilt.

Next, I'm such a narc. If I am found sunk in the bayou it is because I named my pushers: Sergio and Wendy. I'm so ashamed.

So, you know about Sergio and how he sold me on my Anna Sui top and has left me wanting more. But you don't know about Wendy. That's right, Sew U Home Stretch's Wendy has teamed up with Sergio to sew up some knits. I am very excited to work with knits. Here comes the hoardy bit.

I was in Hancock's today (no, I didn't need anything! Get off my back!) and saw That Vogue and McCall's patterns were on sale. Picture me flipping through the books, Sergio on one shoulder and Wendy on the other pointing out all the fantastic patterns for knits and convincing me I need them all. It was ugly! Oh yeah, that's a double at the bottom of the Very Easy Beast, one for me one for Holly. I made an executive decision she needed one too!

And here is the next project on my list right now. I have seen several versions of McCall's 6069, and they all looked really cute. I got this striped knit for about $5 total. I figure if it goes well, I have an awesome dress. If it doesn't, I get to practice on a very unfortunate piece of $5 fabric.

Oh yeah, and I'm hoping three more books I ordered come today... Quit judging me!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hooray for Sergers

I am pumped! I bought myself a Juno by Janome serger at Hancock's when it was on sale a couple of weeks ago. Plus my 10% teacher's discount, that equals I got me a serger. I set up a serger class with Jenny. For $60 I got to go to her house, and spend a couple of hours with her. She gave me fabric and a binder to tape all my samples into. Little did I know it would become my Bible today! If you buy a serger, get a class with Jenny to go with it. Because today was still tough.

Remember this project? I was afraid of the flounce and all that tiny hemming, oh and the chiffon. I had convinced myself it could only be finished with a serger. Well, I didn't have any excuses anymore.

Oh, there were tears.

And cussing.

And taking a break to take the dog to get a Pawdicure to get out of the house.

And more cussing.

And maybe a few Flip Videos narrated by a hysterical me that were about to be sent to Jenny  showing the serger and asking, "Why? What did I do to deserve this? Come home from vacation, please!"

You get my drift.

Then the seas parted, and the machine began to honor me as its new master. Yeah, the tension is still a bit loopy, but it began to sew, so I made it work. Oh, and Jenny will never have to get the crazy-person e-mails. Double score!

Check me out...

The pattern was Vogue 2850. It is an Anna Sui design. I liked that it didn't have any buttons or zippers, but was a true wrap design. I bought the Robert Kaufman chiffon from They are out of my exact color, but have a couple similar colors.The chiffon was not too bad, thanks to the help of a few tips and a couple friends.

Turtle friends that is. I read that it was better to use pattern weights. Seeing as I didn't have any, and I'm too cheap to buy any, I improvised a bit. It worked for me!

I also used my awesome rolled hem feature on my new serger to use a contrasting black hem on the tie, flounce, sleeves and bottom of the shirt. That made the shirt much easier to deal with in my opinion.

This shirt is basically a sleeveless shirt, I skipped the facing and just rolled hemmed the sleeve openings, with a flounce that covers your shoulders and back.

Here is a shot of the back. It's not as exciting as the front, but you can see a bit how it is put together.

I honestly did not look at the pattern directions very much, as this shirt was pretty self explanatory. I did not use the sleeve or neck facings. I also lengthened it two inches, as that was recommended by several people on My bottom bit was much longer than the shirt top part, so I wound up chopping a bit off both of the ends. It didn't seem to effect the fit at all.

I then wore it to dinner with my friend Angie, who knew I would be wearing something I made and assumed it was my shorts. That says a lot for the shirt when a fellow seamster doesn't recognize it as a home made shirt.

Hooray for chiffon! Hooray for sergers! Hooray for the return of Project runway Thursday on Lifetime!

Life is good.

Update: That chiffon maxi from Secret Diary of a Call Girl is season four, episode 5 and 6. It is the last few minutes of 5 and first few of 6. It's not really a maxi, and it looks pretty doable.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Breaking down tasks

In special education we have a few terms we like to use:

1. Breaking down tasks - that means small instructions so brains can process large projects successfully.

Example: Only cut out the following pattern pieces when making a shirt.

2. Allowing more white space. That means getting rid of extra information, so you can focus on the task at hand.

Example: Only cut out pieces for the middle version, and since the other two version are kind of hoochy, just throw them away.

3. If, Then Statements - allows a student to understand if they complete a task then they receive a reward.

Example: If Stacie does some of her school assignments, then she can cut out her fabric for her new shirt she gets to use her new serger on.

I hate that last one!

How sewing affects me

Tilly, of Tilly and the Buttons recently posted how sewing has impacted her. She put out a request for others in the community to do the same, and the more I thought about her questions, the more I wanted to participate.

* Have you recently rediscovered your creativity? I have. I began sewing in October of last year, and I have started thinking in colors and textures again after being a drone for Old Navy or Target. Why shouldn't I be able to get exactly what I want, and if no one else can provide it, well, I'll just do it myself.

* Do you feel that taking up sewing - or another craft at home - has changed your life in some way? Sewing has changed my life. I have become part of a community larger than myself of helpful and amazing people that supports each other hobbies. I feel like I have a place to go that is just mine, beyond work or school. I can speak with people through blogging, or reading the experiences of others, but amazed now that I can walk into a fabric store and speak with anyone about what they are doing, and ask their advice on how I should do my project.

* Has it affected how you feel about yourself?  I feel so much better about myself. I am not a typically shaped person - or I take that back, I am 5'5 and a size 12...the average women is 5'4 and a size 14 according to some magazine I read. However the women in their magazine are probably a 5'9 size 0-2. I am exactly typical (maybe just a bit taller and thinner, hehehe), but I go into stores and hate the way I feel trying on clothes. I have breasts which don't always fit into shirts. I have a belly that can protrude over my waistband. I would also like to file a missing person's report on my hips and rear. I now have the ability to bypass the unrealistic expectations that are displayed all around me and create things that are made exactly for me and my perceived imperfections.  There is no more sadness at the store because I don't even have to go look what is expected of women these days. I walk out of the house feeling like a million bucks in nicely tailored clothes that were made just for me.

* Has it changed the way you interact with the world? Sewing has introduced me to a new world. I have made new friends I get to sew with, but it is more than that. I love talking to strangers about what I do, and learning from them. I have never been particularly outgoing, but now I have a voice and something to share that is worth sharing.

* How would you explain this to someone who doesn't have a creative hobby? I don't know that I could. I have friends that will say, "Oh, did you make that?" and when I reply yes I will always get the, "I know I could never do that," line. I needed something to fill my time beyond TV or Internet. I wanted to reconnect and learn an art. It has not come easily or naturally. I have had to take lessons, do research and really learn to sew. I still don't think I am great, and I continue to learn with each project I complete.To me, there has to be a want for something new or different. Creative hobbies take time and money and have a huge learning curve to start seeing nice results. Maybe I could make an analogy to a smoker. You cannot convince a smoker to quit unless they want to. When they do want to quit and share that with you, that is when you throw everything you have into helping them succeed. i feel like Creative arts are the same. You can't convince anyone to do it until they want to. Then you can share everything you have.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

She's My Cherry Pie and my return from Mexico

And by she I mean my sister in law. I made her a birthday apron before my trip, then mailed it to The Netherlands and just about died waiting for feedback. Would she love it? Would she wear it? Would she think, "Is this a comment on my home making skills?" and be hugely insulted? I always get so nervous and crazed waiting to see if someone likes a gift I have made.

I returned from Mexico and spoke with her on the phone this morning. She loved the apron! She was here during Administrative Assistant Week, and saw my past aprons and admitted she wanted one, but didn't want to ask. Friends, if you are reading this, always ask. It inflates my ego to a huge level when people like my work!

So this is the same apron I made before, but this time I used the cherry material left over from my lined Crepe and left over red fabric from my Christmas stockings. For the waistband I used the last bit of Grandma Betty's trim I used on the hem from my Hawaiian birthday skirt.

I love how this turned out. It is so girly and flirty. My SIL's house is all white to counteract all the grey days in The Netherlands, so I wanted to make her an all white apron in different fabrics, but I knew she's be afraid to wear it. As it is she claims she will only spot clean this one, and not cook in it, only serve dinner like Bree in Desperate Housewives in it. I swear you can wash it!

This apron is better made than the last ones. I really starched the edges and press to make for quicker and cleaner hems on all those ruffles. I also switched between red and white thread to make it a bit nicer. I love how the lace waist band looks.

Here is an action shot on me. I have the apron not quite centered on me, so it looks a bit crazy. That also lets my camo shorts stick out, which I know she will appreciate since she has two rough and tumble boys at home. Also, notice the fabulous blue and white pot holders back there on the fridge? That is from her awesome mother in law. I think she may need an apron too now that I think about it.

So where the heck have I been?

I have been in Paradise. Mr Thinks He Can and I went to Quintana Roo for a few days. Here I am thinking of ways to have to remain in Mexico forever. This was taken at Tulum in the Archaeological Park.

Here is a picture Mr. Thinks He Can wanted to get of me in front of this particular ruin. Weird, but wait I see why now....

Busted. He was really trying to justify taking a picture of this Iguana!

Here is a sea turtle we spotted when snorkeling in Akumal. It is so cool to be in the water with such an amazing creature.

Here are a pack? herd? bunch of coatimundi in Akumal that were eating right out of this guy's hand. They were so friendly. The babies kept jumping up and hanging off his pant legs.

On the last day, I read about this beach just north of Belize called Mahahual that was supposed to be beautiful. It was a three hour drive, but was truly the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. We could still see our toes when standing with water up to our chests. A cruise ship was docked nearby, or I bet this place would have been deserted.

It was an amazing trip. I am renewed and reinvigorated. I may even begin some fall sewing before school starts. Too bad Fall doesn't come to Houston until about October!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Anthro-Inspired Dress (So Easy, Seriously!)

Hello readers! In Stacie's absence (vacation, where she is showing off her pink beach cover up and making everyone jealous) she asked me to contribute to the blog and write about the Anthro-Inspired dress we made. First, Stacie gets credit for finding this amazing tutorial via Sarah on the Sew Weekly during embellishment week. It was so easy to follow along with and for any budding sewers out there, I would recommend this project right up there with the Simplicity skirt we made.

Also, I have to cop to buying ALL the elastic in Jo-Anns, on accident of course. Stacie and I shopped the 4th of July sale and I accidently bought the whole roll of elastic we needed for this project. My bad. I was so excited to make this dress that I went home and made 2 since the first one was so easy. Stacie followed suit and before you know it, we're obsessing over this project like we did on the Simplicity skirt a la making 4 and 5 at a time!

Here is a link to the tutorial.

The first one took me about 2 hours because I did the lace detail. The second one, without the lace detail took me about an hour and a half. I also had some machine issues when I was sewing on the elastic. I had to do some creative sewing to cover up my mistakes on the first dress, you'll notice the elastic band is smaller than the second dress, despite using elastic from the same roll. On the second dress, my machine was throwing up thread all over my stitches so I went back over it with a "decorative" stitch (zig zag was the only thing that could cover up what my machine did) which ended up working out.

Here is Stacie's creation, made with a gray seersucker material. Overall, a very cute dress that is casual but still looks good. I will definitely be making another one! I already have plans for a maxi-version with this lovely silk fabric I picked up...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Vogue tames the beast

I recently finished The Beast, my friend Holly and I slaved over this dress for probably 6 weeks and finished to mixed results. The dress had a great fit and turned out really cute with a few tweaks, but there were a couple of things that didn't translate into our dresses too well.

This is a line drawing of The Beast, or for those who have yet to try it, Vogue 1241.

Notice the front collar, It is a bit weird on. It stands a bit weird and requires some precision hand sewing to keep your chest from being totally exposed. Just below that is the dreaded loin cloth piece. That thing was a mofo to attach, and probably took two whole sewing sessions. On the back there are cute little gathers, that once put onto a human form are placed right were we just want to look like we have know, the muffin top region. So what would we change? The collar, the loin cloth and the muffin top gather sin the back.

This is from the just released Vogue patterns, Pattern 8742 to be exact. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? After I e-mailed this to Holly I got a reply that started with , "OMG, I'm pissed!" Not only does this version lose the weird neck, loin cloth and muffin top gathers, but it is carried under the Very Easy Vogue line. Nothing about the beast was "Very Easy".

Bottom line, we were pissed, but we like the sleeves. Yeah, we're suckers. Expect to see a version this fall!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Free Beach cover-up

I'm so excited about this one. This is my beach cover up to take on vacation. This is a free download from Hot Patterns available on

I used a strange fabric from Joann's. It was on sale. It is pink, and has really sheer flower spots and some sparkle embroidery. LOL, I obviously know my fabrics, right? Anyway, this was an easy pattern. I did put elastic in the waist instead of a ribbon like it calls for. I don't know if I will keep it that way or not. I also skipped the button on top just because. I don't want a lot of stuff to mess with on the beach.

The way I stand kind of makes it look like maternity ware. You can also see my elastic showing a bit. To ribbon, or not to ribbon? This is a good length.
From the side it is on OK little dress. I love the color. The dark spots are my swim suit showing through the sheer flowers woven into the fabric.
Hehe, from behind it sort of looks like a kimono.

Overall, very cute, comfortable and free pattern. I wish I had used a bit softer fabric, so it would hang better. I like it though. I didn't do any fancy finishings because I want it to dry fast. Also, in the future I may just use a casing around the whole cover up and just use elastic. It might me nice to add pockets as well. You just have to have a place for Chap-stick on the beach.

Also, this was my first time using a downloaded pattern. This is what to expect:

I had to print this twice. The first time I was trying to make the lines meet, which doesn't work out. Just make the edges of the pages meet up. Here is a close up of what that may make the pattern look like:

It does come with a handy map to show you how to lay out the pages There is some method to the madness though once you dive into it.
This is a close up of the pattern map that displays the lay out.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Christmas in July

I just took the best class ever. I have mentioned before that I learned most of my mad sewing skills from Jenny Gabriel. She still offers fun classes since Sew Crafty closed, they are just a bit further to go. Well, check out my awesome stockings!

How cute are these? They hardly take anytime at all. What an added bonus that Jenny brought her embroidery machine and personalized them for us! I actually got all these done within the class time, and that is with me wondering around chattering with everyone and begging Jenny for a serger class. (Please Jenny! Please!)

Here is a close up of my stocking. I so love it!

 Now for the guts. This stocking is basically two lining layers, I used muslin, and two outer layers. I believe I used a quilting cotton from Hancock's.

 For the toe, heel and cuff I used a thin quilters cotton. I wish I had used a bit thicker fabric, but I thought I would just practice making one in class. I didn't expect to leave with such an amazing product.
The toe and heel are just on the front, so the back of the stocking is left plain. I like both sides.
The cuff attaches to the top and is simply folded down. That's it! How easy is that? I think everyone will be getting stockings for Christmas this year. This pattern would be so easy to embellish and personalize as well.

Jenny seemed a bit amazed that the pup would need a personalized stocking, but just look at that happy customer! Too bad the house is on the market or I would set up the tree.

I can't wait for Christmas!

UPDATE: My friend Angie that took the class as well took some pictures of her stockings to share as well. I love her fabric!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Skirt fever!

I have already worn my skirt three times. Yes in two weeks. Remember, Holly and I had made Simplicity 2258 the weekend before last? Well, I made it again (and again).

I made one for my bestie Jen for her birthday. That was my first time making a garment/gift, so I wanted it to be really special. She is a bit more modest than I am, so I made her the longer version but kept the ties. She also loves Hawaiian things - like her husband! So I paid tribute to Hawaii with the material which is a shirting I found at Joann's.

This is the outside front of the skirt. I love how saturated the colors are. I think it would be great for a luau!
Since I was making this for someone else, I wanted it to be really nicely done. I used bias tape to finish the raw edge around the waist and along the bottoms of the pockets.
I also used lace hem tape, courtesy of Grandma Betty circa 1976. I know that is not how it is supposed to be used exactly, but I thought it added a nice touch.
Here is the front with the waistband untied . I think I like this view just as much.

And this solves the mystery of why everything I have is covered in dog hair. Of course she takes the best light and takes a nap in it then refuses to move. We'll just call any strays a bonus gift from the pooch.

But wait! There is more!

I just got busy this morning making yet another one. I know, the next project I have to show you is different I promise.
This is an eyelet version I made for myself without waist ties. I did line it though because the eyelet was way more shear than I anticipated. I thought my how to could help some people on this one. I put my pink skirt together per the direction until I got to the waistband.

At that point I took the lining which I made of muslin and sewed the sides and hem together. Remember you don't need to cut pockets out of this part. This is the front, and the sides just go straight up. I simply extended my cutting lines on the waist and side until they met to duplicate a front piece without pockets.
I zig zagged the edges on both the skirt and lining because neither one will be visible. No French seams here!
I then basted the two pink skirt and lining together at the waist. This kept everything together while I applied the waist band as usual.

When completes this is now my finished skirt looked inside. I made the lining shorter on purpose because it is too hot to wear extra layers here in Houston. I just didn't want anyone checking out my knickers. There are no raw edges because I put it together so the raw edges face each other.

And again, the outside. You can't even tell there is an extra layer there. Maybe when Mr. Thinks He Can gets home I will add an action shot in the skirt.