Category Archives: sewing

Progress note – week 1

One week down and what a nice week it’s been! I’ve realized that making the commitment to spend at least two hours in the studio on my days off means I’m prioritizing sewing and claying over other things. It’s a good thing. It feels very luxurious somehow.

Sewing
I’ve sewn up 3.25yds this week (running total 9.25yds), adding two dresses and a skirt to my tiny work wardrobe.

Dresses

The dresses are from my TNT sleeveless sheath (M6355). They take me three hours from flat fabric to finished dress. The skirt pattern is also a TNT one, adapted from M6355 to approximate the idea of Pamela’s Magic Pencil Skirt. It is not an A-line skirt, despite looking like one in this picture. From the hip down, it’s cut exactly the same as the two dresses. I think it’s the elastic that’s distorting the look on the hanger.

Skirt

Please excuse the hanger pictures. I won’t even entertain taking pictures of these pieces on me until the outdoor temperatures are in a reasonable range (below freezing for days on end does not qualify in my book).

Both fabrics are ponte. The black one came from Michael’s Fabrics and the heathered dark gray from Emmaonesock. It’s hard to tell the difference in this picture but in real life the difference is obvious. I didn’t make a skirt in the gray because I thought the fabric might make a nice jacket too. So I’m keeping the remaining 1.75yds for that. I hope these fabrics wear well and don’t seat out. They are wonderful to sew and the perfect weight – not too light, not too heavy.

Polymer
I recently moved my clay table into the sewing studio so now my hobbies share one space. This is a good thing. Having two separate spaces wasn’t working well for me. I still have some work to do with reorganizing storage to accommodate clay supplies, tools, and binders full of tutorials. This week I tackled scrap clay and organized it nicely in a plastic box. Then I made four bracelet bases using up some of it. I’ll sand them tonight. The plan for the next few weeks is to work on the techniques in Dan Cormier’s online class Single Slice Mokume – probably lots of samples, different color combinations, and maybe even a finished piece here and there. We’ll see how that goes.

And that’s all I have right now.

See you soon!

Goodbye 2017, hello 2018!

Happy New Year and may it be filled with beautiful fabrics, soft yarns that never tangle, and pliable polymer clay!

Last year, taking on a full-time job meant limited creative time/energy. With a part-time schedule, this year should be more relaxed and I have several goals/intentions for it.

  • I plan to average at least an hour a day in the studio – so on my days off I will spend at least an hour sewing and at least an hour working with polymer.
  • I’d like to sew up at least 50 yds of fabric this year. New purchases count in this so it won’t be all existing stash.
  • I need dresses and jackets and a lot more red in my wardrobe. I also have a pretty decent SWAP plan, not quite finished but getting there. So I intend to fill those holes and follow the plan, and make coordinating jewelry to go with the new pieces, and share it all here with you.
  • I have some fabrics that I really like but am reluctant to cut. I’m not sure why. But the point is, I’m going to make an effort to push through the block and sew up at least a few of them.

Winter PJs

I have decided that my creative year starts Dec 26 and runs through next Christmas Day. I have made a good first step in the 50yd challenge already with these two pairs of PJs (lounge pants, really) in two different cotton flannels from the same collection. Snowflakes are for DH, snowmen are mine. We’re wearing them right now, in happily coordinated bliss.

See you soon!

Fitting the Tabula Rasa Jacket

Right after posting my preliminary SWAP plan last time, I discovered the Tabula Rasa Jacket by Fit for Art Patterns. It had been on my radar since earlier this year but only when I came across some neckline variations did I start seeing this pattern as something I could actually wear. I immediately ordered the main pattern, the Rain or Shine variations, and the Band and Pockets variations directly from the company. The package arrived in two days and I got to work on fitting it. Following the fitting instructions in the pattern, I used size Small, with the AB front. Knowing that I prefer a jewel neckline, I used the jewel neck template from the Rain or Shine variations right off the bat.

Tabula Rasa Jacket

Flat pattern alteration:
On comparison with a well-fitting top, I adjusted the shoulder slope first. The front was fine out of the envelope, the back needed a ¾” low neck base alteration – this corrects the shoulder slope and starts shortening the back (mine is very short and erect). Then I cut the muslin and sewed it using the included ⅝” seam allowances and 1½” hem allowances.

Alterations in the muslin stage:

  1. cut off ½” from FRONT hem only to correct the original patternwork (on walking out the pattern, the front is ½” longer below the notch and there is no reason to ease this in so I just cut it off).
  2. shorten FRONT, BACK, and SIDE 3″ at the hem to bring the jacket to the high hip, which is my best jacket length.
  3. shorten BACK 2″ evenly across the at the upper HBL to correct the balance, continuing the alteration into the SLEEVE, tapering to nothing at the hem (in patternwork, this was actually done as 1⅜” alteration at the back and ⅝” alteration at the front, both tapering to nothing at the hem – the split is because I ended up moving the shoulder seam forward).
  4. shorten SLEEVE 1½” at the hem to bring it to my preferred wrist length.
  5. take in FRONT, BACK, and SIDE ¼” at the waist, tapering to nothing at bust and lower HBL. This takes out 2″ total from the waist circumference.
  6. move up bust dart ¾”.
  7. move shoulder seam ⅝” forward, move notch on the sleeve accordingly.
  8. raise neckline 2″ at CB, lower neckline ⅝” at CF, redraw pleasing curve (the jewel neckline out of the envelope is more of a closely-fitting slightly curve V-neck, and much too deep in the back so I knew this would need attention).

Adding a bust dart:
At this point, I got as far as I could with the muslin and it was time to cut regular fabric. I could have made another muslin but I wanted to wear this to work to see if it would be comfortable all day. I knew there would likely be other alterations but I figured they’d be minor. I used a long-time resident of the fabric stash – a dark fuchsia wool/poly crepe with a lovely drape. No lining as I wanted this to be quick. This wearable prototype was quite comfortable, but showed that the CF needed another ½” of length. I compared the original AB and CD fronts and didn’t like the discrepancies so I figured I’d adjust the pattern piece I already knew – so I added a ½” of length to it and darted it out in a second dart. The bust dart of the AB front is meant to point at the bust apex, in the two-dart CD front the darts are just below and just above the bust line. I angled both of mine a ¼” toward the bust line.

Narrowing the waist:
Then I made another muslin because I thought I could narrow the waist a little bit more and I didn’t want to guess. I took in the FRONT, BACK, and SIDE ¼” at the waist and hem, tapering to nothing at bust HBL. This reduced the waist circumference another 2″ for a really lovely and comfortable fit.

Fixing the sleeve:
When I was sewing this second muslin, I decided to take out the bit of ease in the sleeve. On walking out the sleeve cap/armhole seam, there was ½” of ease. I took that out ¼” at each notch, taking the alteration all the way down to the hem for a very slightly narrower sleeve.

I have not had time to take pictures of the muslins or the wearable prototype so those might come later. For now, I wanted a record of the changes I made, in case I lose the piece of paper where I wrote them all as I went.

See you soon!

SWAP 2018 – planning

I wasn’t going to participate in SWAP (Sewing with a Plan) this season. Between too much going on, sewing mojo on vacation, and inspiration pictures pulling me in too many different directions at once, I didn’t feel like planning a wardrobe to fit arbitrary rules that may not fit my lifestyle.

And then the rules came out. They are delightfully simple and they sent my sewing imagination soaring. This is the gist:

You’re making a collection of 11 garments to be worn as outfits of at least two pieces that work for your personal style.

  1. Choose two neutral colors (at least 3 garments each)
  2. Add one accent color and two prints OR two accent colors and one print (at least 1 garment each)
  3. Remaining two garments may be made from any one or combination of your neutrals, accent(s) and/or print(s)
  4. Each garment must work with a minimum of two outfits

Here is my preliminary plan:

Wardrobe plan - WIP

It’s not quite finished – it’s missing a piece. Something in light gray. I’m not sure if this will be a dress or another top. We’ll see.

*****

Here’s something that caught my eye now as I was looking at the rules: “Multiple styles of pants, tops, jacket/cardigan, dresses, accessories, etc are made from the limited color/print palette. New seasons bring new items that work with some of the garments from prior seasons. Your goal is to create a collection that looks like it belongs together and that you can easily add new pieces to in the future.” When I sewed a SWAP wardrobe in early 2016, I used just three patterns and a bunch of different fabrics. I think the idea here is the opposite – choose just a few fabrics and go to town on patterns. Hmm, something to chew on. I may rethink the whole thing yet.

And that’s all I have today. See you soon!

Back on track

Between dropping down to a part-time schedule at work and my husband’s return from the year-long assignment in Korea, my life has finally gotten back to a normal, reasonable pace. And I got back to running. And cooking. And all the other fun things that come with normal life. Like planning a SWAP, hehe. These are my SWAP fabrics. Full plan to come.

SWAP colors/fabrics

These last few months have been a bit of a hell on wheels because spending a year apart is tough, and the stressful job and crazy traffic didn’t help things. So now I’m taking care of myself, slowly easing into my creative groove. In the polymer studio, it’s mostly about rearranging tools and looking at previously made pieces. It feels like forever ago that I touched raw clay. Here is a look at the bracelets I made this year:

Polymer clay bracelets - 2017

And here is a yellow and black set I made to go with this gorgeous scarf. I also dyed the cardigan to match because I thought it would be easier than trying to find matching RTW. The dye is Rit Lemon Yellow, the kind that comes in a bottle. I followed the instructions on Rit’s website, including adding the salt in the dye bath and then following up with dye fixative afterwards. I found the dyeing process surprisingly easy and the resulting color nice and even.

Yellow and black jewelry set

Somewhere along the line this summer I decided to experiment with mica shift. It’s an interesting technique that I’d like to explore further. First, I tried it with Kato and I have this set to show you:

Red jewelry set - mica shift

And some samples of other colors, this time in Premo:

Mica shift samples

And that’s all I have for now. Actually, not quite because I do have a knitting WIP but no picture of it right now so that will come later. See you soon!

Checking in again

Hi again!

So I haven’t been posting in the last few months because what was supposed to be a part-time job turned into a full-time one just a few days after I started. It was a lot of information to take in and a major lifestyle change, and the stress of all that coupled with the long daily drive back and forth meant that I’ve had very little time or energy left for creating, let alone blogging. I am still here though, and while my posts will likely be sporadic in the next two months, they will get more regular once I go part-time in October.

All that housekeeping out of the way, let’s look at what I’ve been making. Because I wasn’t exactly idle, as it turns out (to my own surprise). I have made a bunch of bracelets and experimented with fun techniques – I have yet to take pictures of them so those will come later. Also, I joined the summer 6-PAC and made a bunch of things: 5 tops, a dress, and a cardigan jacket. And two pieces I didn’t think to photograph, mostly because I’ve been wearing them to work a lot and they completely slipped my mind.

Summer 6-PAC - tops

All of these tops are cut from Jalie 3352, the dolman top. The red ones in 11oz. rayon jersey from Emmaonesock have the original neckline without changes (I think). The light gray is a cotton knit from Nancy Erickson and has the most wonderful hand. The darker gray is a mostly-cotton jersey from Fabricmart – that one will be given away because it was doing some shrinking as I sewed it, and I only noticed it at the end. Both of these gray tops have a 3/4″ neckband, which was my attempt to see if I like the closer neckline (yes!) and if I like the neckband finish (not really). The cute polka dot is a cotton jersey from Marcy Tilton and it’s such a happy, smile-inducing fabric. For this top, I just closed up the neckline by the same 3/4″ and then clean-finished it by turning the allowance under and coverstitching. I like this neckline the best. Next time, I want to try a boat neckline to bring it up closer to the collar bone – I had accidentally put on one top the wrong way, with the back in front, and I liked the effect.

Summer 6-PAC - dress and cardigan

The dress is drafted from Sure-Fit Designs Shirt Kit. I just lengthened it to dress length, took in the side seams some to accommodate the sleeveless design and the curve of my waist, and added the bias-cut collar. Oh, and the hemline goes in a slight A-line, which is comfortable, but I think I prefer a straighter silhouette. I made it in a lovely black Brussels Washer from Fabric.com – it is such a pleasure to sew and wear. Warning: it does seat out some so not your best bet for a formal anything. I cut the neckline fairly wide and the collar doesn’t play well with most of my cardigans but I do have a few RTW ones that work so the dress is not an orphan.

The cardigan jacket is from my old PMB pattern (from 2002 or 2003, yikes!). I narrowed the shoulder slightly with a corresponding sleeve cap adjustment, curved the front neckline where it meets center front, and added 8″ to the length. There is no closure and the front edges meet but do not overlap. The fabric is an acrylic/wool/poly boucle bought from Fabricmart several years ago. It’s nicely warm, and super easy to sew. I enjoy wearing it and there’s more in the stash for another, shorter version.

And that’s pretty much all I have right now. Thank you if you’re still reading, and see you soon!

Red wool top with brooch

Before I made the teal jeans, I was still on the red kick from earlier this year. And I made this red top. It was the first piece of my winter 6-PAC for which I never made a real plan. I vaguely remember thinking about three tops and three skirts, but this red top is as far as I got before switching gears to sewing jeans.

Red wool top

Lately I’ve been noticing trim and piping and similar details on my inspiration garments. And I have equally been noticing their very obvious absence in my own closet. The red top was my first step towards remedying this. The pattern is my TNT M6355 again and the fabric is a fabulous wool doubleknit from Michael’s Fabrics (years ago) that sews like a dream. I used black foldover elastic for the sleeve hems and neckline. It looked pretty “trimmy” already compared to my usual creations but when I put it on, it seemed to want more. I played with one of my samples, and I think small black-trimmed pockets would have been perfect, you know, Chanel-style. Except, this is not a jacket, but a pullover top. So no pockets, thank you. Instead, I thought, how about a brooch?

Red wool top - closeup

And so I made one with polymer clay. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted but I knew it should be mostly black. So I made the dome and then fairly randomly poked it with a small stylus. It was meant to be a sample to try the back-fill technique so I wasn’t going for any particular pattern. After curing, I back-filled the holes with white polymer, and cured again. After sanding, the surface is smooth and solid. I really like it. And it adds the touch of black that the red top needed.

Skirt fabrics

Above are the three fabrics for skirts. I figure since these fabrics are the outfit star kind, they can be worn with solid-colored turtlenecks all winter. All three are from Marcy Tilton. Only a yard of each, enough for a skirt. They’ve been sitting on the shelf, patiently waiting for me to realize once again that I can have a fitted top or a dartless one, but that fitted and dartless is really not in the cards for my body shape. Well, they’re up next, hehe.

Happy sewing!

Teal jeans with embroidery and bling

I’ve been waiting to post about these jeans, hoping to get better pictures. Alas, between the rain and cold weather, I haven’t been able to get outside to take pictures so we’ll have to do with these indoor ones.

Teal jeans 1

Two years ago, I made a pair of jeans that was meant to serve as a wearable prototype. I had wanted to make a few more pairs but then life happened, and the planned jeans did not materialize. Until now. A few weeks ago, I finally picked up the pattern, Angela Wolf’s Angel Bootcut (AW 4200). I used the altered version from the prototype because it fit well enough, and added two refinements – one for fit, the other for style:

  • a 1/2″ flat seat adjustment, using Ann Rowley’s instructions, to eliminate at least some of the wrinkling on the back of the legs;
  • an adjustment to the width at the hem, tapering to the knee, to make the hem circumference 19″ so they can be worn with heels.

Teal jeans 2

The fabric is a stretchy denim from Emmaonesock. It’s 65% cotton, 32% polyester, and 3% spandex. It feels very cottony and comfortable, and doesn’t seat out. At least not noticeably.

Teal jeans - back closeup

I’ve been wanting to use this bubbly embroidery design set ever since I bought it last year. I thought the back pockets of these jeans were the perfect canvas for it. I combined three smaller designs in the software, and then played with them a bit so that each pocket is a little different. I had fun getting back into machine embroidery. Note for future: remember that 24 minutes of actual embroidery stitching time will easily mean several hours of work total.

The crystals took longer to put on than I had anticipated but it was easy work and fun to watch the designs come to life. This is the first time I’ve worn bling on my butt and I wasn’t entirely sure about it at first, but once I put them on, I loved them immediately.

Teal jeans - front closeup

I considered contrast stitching but it wasn’t right for this project. Instead, I topstitched tone-on-tone. The stitching is visible, but not in-your-face. The pockets, fly shield, and inside waistband are cut from a coordinating quilting cotton.

Teal jeans - zipper DIY

I didn’t have a coordinating zipper. I had white (too light) and navy (too dark). So I improvised with Sharpies, hehe. Blue and green make a decent teal together, don’t they? On one side, I only needed to color the 1/8″ or so that shows next to the teeth, on the reverse I colored the whole width of the tape because it can be seen when the fly is open. Not that it’s a common sight, ha! but I wanted to make it as close to perfection as I could.

I needed a refresher on sewing jeans so I used Angela Wolf’s jeans class on Craftsy. I’d watch a lesson, then sew that part. Then I’d watch another lesson and follow up with a sewing session. It was nice because the process is divided into manageable chunks, each of which is a visible progress towards the finish. Very satisfying.

I’ve been wearing these jeans quite a bit and love them. The fit is just right, the fabric comfortable, and now I want to clone them in other colors.

And that’s all I have about these jeans for now. If you have questions or compliments, please write them in the comments.

See you soon!

Back in the swing of things

For a person who values stability, I move an awful lot. At the end of September, we made our second major move this year and I’m just now starting to feel like things might return to some semblance of normalcy soon. Sewing has kept me sane (knitting too but lately I’ve been mostly sewing). Here’s how my new sewing studio looked after the movers left:

Sewing room before

And here’s how it looks now:

Sewing room after - view 1

It looked much like this just a few days after the movers left the hot mess you saw in the first picture because I cannot stand moving boxes. So I usually unpack everything in the first week. I had to wait another week or two to have my fabric closet delivered so at that point there were still seven large boxes of fabric in the room. But they sat along one wall and the rest of the studio was usable.

Sewing room after - view 2

I really like sewing in this room. It gets a lot of indirect light most of the day – the bay window faces north. The other two windows face east so they bring in lovely morning sunshine for a couple of hours every day. It feels comfortable to work in here although now that the temperature has dropped outside, I’m noticing a cold draft on my feet. I may need some thick socks or something. It is definitely the coolest room in the house, which is kinda nice because I can have the iron on all day without the room getting too warm.

The first thing I sewed after the move was an apron. I used to have several. Somehow they have all disappeared over the years and moves. And so a new apron was in order.

Apron

Pretty cool, eh? It was a panel I bought at the local quilting store. Easy-peasy. I lined it with a coordinating spiderweb print to make it reversible.

I have other sewing bits to share with you so those will follow in the next post or two.

See you soon!

Where did the time go?

It seems like just yesterday I was telling you about my beginnings with polymer clay and here we are two months later. Where did the time go? Did it go by fast for you too? We’ve been getting ready for the move next month, including a “recon” trip to the Washington, D.C. area so we’ll have some idea of what’s where when we get there. We visited Michael’s Fabrics which is always fun, found a couple of fabulous quilt stores and a yarn store within easy driving distance, and definitely decided to live on base instead of on the economy.

Then there was another trip, a totaled car (hail damage, no one injured, thankfully), and lots of sewing. A bit of the kind that produces wearable garments and a lot of the muslin kind. Real muslin. The kind that you wouldn’t want to be seen dead in it. Although my husband did mention it might be a good color for a pair of pants for me, so maybe I’ll keep that in mind.

Sure-Fit Designs 3-kit combo

Anyway, the many muslins were because I bought the Sure-Fit Designs 3-kit combo. It includes the dress kit, the pants kit, and the shirt kit. I’ll be reviewing them in detail as I work through them this fall. If you have this system and are starting to work with it, or if you’re considering buying it, my initial advice to you is this:

  1. Measure carefully. Like two or three times. At least. And check that you’re not measuring your “mirror posture” but how you really stand.
  2. Don’t try this when your weight is dropping fast because you decided to cut out refined sugar and processed foods right before you ordered the kit. (ahem!)

My summer 6-PAC turned out to be just 5 pieces – the red tops and white skirt you saw, and then I added a black skirt in Sophia knit and a light yellow rayon jersey top. All five pieces got quite a bit of wear and I’ve been really pleased with them. I’ve also made a bunch of PJs for both me and my husband. My most recent makes are a pair of black cotton pants and a long-sleeved top – in preparation for fall, I suppose. And fall sewing, or sewing plans, will be the subject of the next post because I really need to put some pictures together first. Not just for you, but so I have a good visual representation of what’s going on with my wardrobe. Or a checklist. Or something. Because I don’t think I can keep it all in my head and deal with this move at the same time.

See you soon!

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