Sunday, November 20, 2011

Little by little

Well, Friday night turned out to be not at all what I had expected.  DH pulled a muscle in his back at the gym, so I offered to make him a rice-filled heating pad.  Then I ended up dipping about five dozen potato candy balls in chocolate and prepping an apple pie for our church's holiday fair, which was held today.  I thought I might squeeze in a bit more sewing after I got home from my morning shift at the fair's bake table, but DD asked for a heating pad for *herself* and, since she was such a big helper at the fair, I acquiesced. She went bike riding with her daddy after lunch, and while they were gone, I took a nap.  So much for my Friday Night Sew In.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Friday Night Sew In - November 18, 2011

I'm in.  (Click on the Friday Night Sew In button at right for more info.)

I have a boatload of projects that need finishing: a broken zipper to replace in my husband's favorite windbreaker, a Halloween costume to mend, several pairs of pants, leggings and skirts cut out for DD that I need to sew up. And at least a dozen UFOs for myself.  Let's see how many I can get through this Friday night. 

Friday would have been my mom's 77th birthday.  Thanks, Mom, for teaching me how to knit and sew, for making me all those groovy 70's clothes (man, was I a dork!), for buying me fabric for project after project that didn't quite work out (but taught me plenty), and especially for not freaking out (well, too much, anyway) when I carved my name into your sewing machine cabinet with a safety pin.  I miss you!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Year end review (just for laughs)

OK, time to review all my (cough, cough) lofty sewing goals for the year and see what (if anything) I actually accomplished.  Here they are:
  •  Organize my sewing space - and keep it that way!
I reconfigured my bedroom storage closet so I have a lot more shelving, and that helps.  But my sewing table is a continual struggle to keep neat and tidy.
  • Sew every day, even if it's only for a few minutes
Nope.  But I look at my sewing stuff every day...
  • Make muslins more often
I'm definitely doing this, with mixed results.  I expect that now that I have slopers that fit me, I'll have a lot more success in the future.
  • Finish at least one garment per month 
How about every other month?
  • Finish my daughter's Halloween costume by mid-October
This one doesn't count, because I couldn't get her to decide what she wanted to be until we were on vacation to Seattle in late October.  She went as a bunny rabbit, wearing a costume made from a large bath sheet with a bunny hood on it (gift from her great Aunt Sally, not sewn by me).
  • Spend less time READING/BLOGGING about sewing/knitting, and more time sewing/knitting 
Um....yeah...about that one...
  • Figure out some way to make money sewing, or teaching sewing - and DO IT!
I *did* this - I've talked with the director of my daughter's school, and if I can get my stuff together, I may be teaching some afterschool kids' classes, or even some evening classes for adults in 2011.
  • Sew more clothes for my daughter 
I'm definitely sewing more for her, probably 2/3 of my finished items were for her.
  • Stop buying mass-produced crap clothing (including thrift store stuff that doesn't fit well); buy local/handmade products whenever possible 
I'm still shopping at Goodwill, but for things I can refashion.  Mostly for my daughter, though.
  • Make myself a great fitting:
    • woven blouse
    • winter coat
    • pair of jeans
    • bra
The blouse and coat are now within striking distance.  The jeans and bra will have to wait until 2011, I think.
    • Work on improving my skills and learn how to:
      • insert an invisible zipper
      • sew on Slinky knit so it doesn't look like crap
      • use some of the tools/notions I haven't used much (or at all)
      • make great buttonholes 
    I've given up on the Slinky knit sewing, mostly because I don't really love the fabric.  But I've practiced quite a few zippers and buttonholes this year, and I think I have greatly improved my skill in those areas.

    Though it wasn't on my list, my big achievement was taking the moulage workshop with Kenneth King this year.  I am really looking forward to working with my slopers to create the best fitting clothes I've ever made. (Stay tuned for my 2011 sewing goals...)

      Thursday, December 2, 2010

      My body is freakishly deformed

      OK, so I'm exaggerating - a lot.  But after having taken Kenneth King's Moulage workshop the first weekend of November, I had some major "OMG" moments.  And I got to hang out with a bunch of great women, too, like EleanorSews from (and, yes, red really *is* her color!). AND, I got to sleep in that extra hour when Daylight Saving Time ended. What more could you ask for?

      The lovely EleanorSews, hard at work drafting her moulage
      The most interesting thing I took away from the workshop was the realization that even though I had surgery to correct my spinal curvature when I was 16, I'm still pretty crooked. Which helps explain the numerous wadders and countless hours of frustration I've had when sewing for myself.

      A little background:  My lower spinal curve (the more significant one) was so extreme prior to my operation that I could drop a plumb line from my waist down my left leg without any bulging out at the hip.  My right side had an extremely high, jutting hip bone, which made pants fitting (with my then-teenage fitting skills) pretty much impossible. I also had a curvature in my upper spine, but it was not severe enough to require surgery (or maybe it wasn't back then, I'll give my doctor the benefit of the doubt). After I had the surgery, in which seven vertebrae were fused together, I found myself with matching hip curves.  (Well, not exactly *right* after the surgery...there was that pesky seven months I spent in a body cast - but I digress...)

      Fast forward to the moulage workshop in November 2010.  I already knew what my "problem" areas were going into the workshop:  lower right shoulder, long arms and thick waist/high hip curve. (And let's not forget The Girls.) 

      Photo taken just before Kenneth started fitting me. I wish I'd thought to
      take one afterward so you could see how much better it fit, but I
      couldn't wait to take it off.  He's a very funny guy, and a really great teacher.

      Remember that upper spinal curve that didn't get straightened out? Turns out my entire upper body is tilted to the right, like a living Leaning Tower of Pisa.  Not so much that anyone would notice unless I pointed it out (my head seems to be level atop my neck), but my center front angles slightly off to the right side (as if I'm leaning over slightly sideways) *above* the waist, while my CF is nearly perpendicular to the floor from the waist down. It was completely obvious during the fitting process, when Kenneth pinned out wedge-shaped darts across the front and back of the moulage at the waist and above my bust.

      For years, I've been taking up extra fabric (about 5/8") on my right shoulder seam, and tapering to nothing at the neckline.  It wasn't great, but was better than nothing at all, or so I thought.  (Silly, silly woman.)  Here's another place I've been screwing up when fitting myself all these years:  when I pinned out excess fabric in a muslin, I would adjust things so I removed the same amount of fabric on both the right and left side, even though (in hindsight) I was pinning out wedges that tapered to nothing on the left side of my body.  I just assumed I needed to take the same amount out on each side, and that I must have done something wrong while pinning out the excess fabric.  Like I said, silly woman.

      I felt badly for my partner, Loreen, because my moulage looked not-so-hot before Kenneth started pinning and marking it up. ("It's my *body* that's the problem, not your measuring skills!").  Actually I felt badly for her, having me as her partner - I was nervous, and went too fast, rather significantly mismeasuring her back shoulder width, which caused things to be off quite a bit during the drafting process.  (Sorry 'bout that!)  Fortunately, everything was tidied up during the fitting process.

      Kenneth King fitting my moulage.

      Once I got out of the moulage (and was able to breathe again!), I set to work transferring the markings to the flat pattern. Because of my asymmetry, I had to draft a full front (left and right sides on one piece, rather than one half laid out on the fold) as well as separate left and right back pattern pieces. It didn't take long before I was *completely* overwhelmed by the task, but Kenneth came over and went to work. He is *insanely* quick, and accurate as all get out. Nevertheless, he had to spend a great deal of time on mine.  (I definitely got my money's worth from this workshop!) 

      Kenneth demonstrating how to draft the moulage. 

      This newfound insight about my body does not bode well for any future sewing involving stripes or plaids, although Kenneth did make a point of telling me how to deal with it:  Use the higher side shoulder line and the lower side armhole depth on *both* sides, and pad the lower shoulder to fill it out to match the higher one.  This way the stripes or plaid patterns will look the same on both sides, and I will appear to be balanced and symmetrical.

      Since I had to make separate right and left sides for the front and back, I wasn't able to finish drafting all the slopers before the end of the workshop (we were shown how to add wearing ease to the moulage to draft slopers for a blouse/dress, a jacket and a coat).  Since I got home, I've been able to transfer my moulage to oaktag, and I've drafted the blouse/dress sloper.  I'm hoping to get some time to sew a dress before Christmas (I am dying to make a sheath dress that FINALLY FITS!), but if not, I'll be taking my sewing machine along on our trip to Sugarloaf at the end of the month (my husband and daughter are the skiers in the family; me, not so much).  I'm also going to sew up my moulage using some heavy denim to make a dress form.  Woot!

      Thursday, October 14, 2010

      The Dirty Dozen

      Here they are:

      Blue fleece jacket, black knit top, Pucci-style
      print (from Gorgeous Fabrics) top
      Brown and white sleeveless dress, brown
      rayon cardiwrap, brown pants
      3/4 of 3/4 length sleeve top (work in
      progress), shown w/brown pants
      Mesh top, DKNY black jeans
      OK, there's a few things missing.  You'll just have to imagine a pair of blue jeans, an apple-green long sleeve fleece pullover, and a long-sleeve scoop neck t-shirt with a muted gray-green print and a sprinkling of copper studs.  The battery in the camera died before I could capture them all, and it will be at least several hours before they are recharged again.

      Wednesday, October 13, 2010

      Two in one day - possibly a new record!

      I bet you're thinking I finished sewing two items today.  But you would be wrong, dear reader.  So wrong.

      Tonight, after posting my 12-piece wardrobe plan for the "Express Checkout" experiment earlier in the day, I pulled together all the pieces to photograph them so I could show you the clothes. The black Slinky knit tank top (from Chico's via Goodwill many years ago) was balled up on the floor next to the laundry basket, and when I picked it up, I saw that it had holes.  Puppy-teeth-shaped holes. Sigh...

      Guess I'll take that top AND the torn linen/cotton jeans:

      off my list.  (Dammit.)

      Let me introduce my *new* top, a black knit draped neck top with 3/4 length sleeves:

      I'm hanging all the remaining pieces up nice and high in my closet.  And keeping the door closed.

      "Express Checkout" Experiment

      I'm going to take a shot at Duchesse's "Express Checkout" experiment beginning this Saturday.  Basically, I'm going to see if I can limit myself to 12 items of clothing for an entire month.  (There is no limit on accessories, such as scarves, shoes, jewelry, etc.)  Since I will be traveling a good chunk of the time the experiment is running, I'm starting with my travel wardrobe and adding a few items. 

      My 12 items include:

      1. Black DKNY Soho jeans 
      2. Indigo Slouch brand linen/cotton jeans  Michael Kors indigo jeans (The Slouch jeans split down the front four hours after I posted this!  Seriously, I just heard/felt a little rrrrrip! and looked down to see a two-inch tear a couple inches beside the button fly.  WTF? I really liked these $4.49 Goodwill jeans, too...)
      3. Brown rayon/poly/lycra blend pants (I reserve the option to swap these out for another pair of pants if I finish them before Nov. 14.

      4. Long sleeve cotton t-shirt
      5. Black tank top
      6. Nylon mesh print long sleeve top
      7. Brown/gray print 3/4 sleeve top (which is not yet finished!!!!)
      8. Pucci print top

      9. Brown rayon cardiwrap
      10. Green fleece pullover
      11. Royal blue fleece jacket

      12. Sleeveless brown & off-white Lily dress

      I'm not going to count outerwear in my 12 items as Duchesse is; if I did, there would be 14 items (a plum wool car coat from LL Bean and a North Face rain jacket).  I may not even take all of it on my trip (11 days), since I will have access to a washer and dryer most of the time we are away. It will be interesting to me to see if/how the same 12 items work in the Pacific Northwest and northern New England at this time of year.

      My plan is to take pictures each day (I'll probably post a bunch when I get back, so you'll have to wait until the end of this month to see them). I don't think limiting my wardrobe this way is going to be particularly difficult, since I am one of those people who wears 20% of their wardrobe 80% (or probably closer to 90%) of the time.

      But wish me luck, anyway!