Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Our tree

Lorenzo's new favorite spot

Handmade ornament for Cate






Christmas in California!

Happy Holidays to all!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Reflections on being a beginning sewist, indie pattern companies, and product support

Life got in the way a little and prevented me from moving forward on the Red Velvet Sewalong for awhile, but I'm happy to say I've completed through Day 5--Hooray!  This means I've:
Hey, I figured out how to do a three stitch zig-zag!

  • done the Deep Bust Adjustment and added longer sleeves to the bodice
  • cut out my fabric
  • stabilized and sewed my shoulder seams
  • attached the facing and topstitched it to the bodice
I wasn't totally happy with my topstitching, at first, and was considering ripping it out, but then I looked at it again the next day and decided it was fine.  The fabric crept a little on the top as I was stitching, which made it look a little skewed.  But, then I decided it didn't look bad (and certainly not bad enough to keep me from wearing it), so I decided to move on.  In the videos accompanying the sewalong, Steph shows how she uses steam a seam on that part which I'm sure keeps the fabric from creeping.  I didn't have any, so I didn't do that step.  Next time, I will (I haven't even finished this dress and I'm already planning another one!).

My mom was visiting last week and I showed her the pattern and we talked about the price difference between indie patterns and buying a Big 4 pattern from Joann's.  It's true that indie patterns are much more expensive than what you would pay for, say, a Simplicity dress pattern.  I like supporting small businesses (especially those owned by women), and I recognize that a higher price is something that goes along with buying from a small business.  Not everyone has an interest in going out of their way to support small businesses, though, and some prefer to save money on buying their patterns and spend it on more expensive fabric instead and I can appreciate that point of view.

BUT.

You are never, ever going to get the sort of product support on a Big 4 pattern that you can get on an indie pattern in general and on the Cake patterns in particular.  Never.  Maybe, if you are an experienced sewist, that doesn't make much of a difference to you, but if you are a beginner, well, the videos accompanying the sewalong are worth the price of the pattern all by themselves.  And, on top of that, you can upload images of your project to the flickr Sewalong group and if you are having a problem, the designer herself will help you sort it out.  Frankly, this is pure gold, and this is what my mother and I ended up talking about.

I am quite lucky in that:  1) my mother is quite good at sewing, and 2) when I decided to learn to sew and bought a machine, my mother helped me make a dress from start to finish.  This meant that I learned a whole bunch of very basic things right at the very beginning and had enough confidence (and knowledge) to make a few skirts and kid's clothes on my own.  I'm also unlucky in that my mother lives half a continent away and so, after that initial lesson, I was mostly on my own.  That's where the product support, sewalongs, etc. come in.  

I know I'm not alone in this.  There's a large number of beginning sewists who have nobody nearby to help them learn to sew and improve their sewing.  Maybe they don't live near family or if they do, nobody in their family sews.  The online sewing community has been instrumental in helping people in those circumstances, and sewalongs (led by the pattern designer or another experienced sewist) are invaluable.  I'm very grateful that they exist and I hope to join more sewalongs in the future!



Sunday, November 10, 2013

RV Sewalong--Getting ready

Hot Date 

In preparation for the sewalong, I took my measurements and then roughly cut out the pattern pieces I'm going to be using from the pattern paper and ironed them.  It appears as though I will need to do a Deep Bust Alteration since there is 3 5/8 inches of difference between my bodice length and the pattern piece length!

Tomorrow, I plan on tracing the pattern pieces in addition to whatever we need to do for the sewalong.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Sewing Along

I've signed up for the Red Velvet Sewalong!


Red Velvet Sewalong Esme House 

Cake patterns is hosting a sewalong for the new Red Velvet pattern.  They've divided everyone into three houses (I'm in Esme) based on the names of the models on the pattern envelope.  There's a points system and a prize and a Flikr group and all sorts of stuff.

This is the first pattern sewalong I've done and I'm super excited about it.  I'm hoping that the 30 minutes a day of sewing during the sewalong turns into 30 minutes a day of sewing after the sewalong, too.  The sewalong will give me some accountability in that you get points by showing progress pix and for finishing an object (a Red Velvet dress or clutch or Espresso leggings).  This is going to be a good time to start the sewalong, too.  My husband, John, will be home on the 11th for Veteran's day so I'll be able to work on some of the Espresso leggings before the actual sewing starts for the Red Velvet dress (Day 1 is getting all of your materials together and choosing size and fabric).  On Sat., the 16th, John will be leaving town and my mom will be flying in.  Mom sewed many of my clothes when I was little so it will be great having another sewist around during the sewalong--she can help me figure things out if I get stuck.  :)

Monday, November 04, 2013

Ginger #2



 I finished my second Ginger skirt.

Pattern:  Ginger from Colette
Fabric:  Cotton stretch sateen from Joann's
Notions:  1 invisible zipper and a grossgrain ribbon for trim at the bottom
Modifications:  Used a contour waistband pattern piece I made for my first Ginger, raised the hem a few inches, and added some ribbon as trim.

Actually, I finished it quite some time ago.  I was going to add some ribbon to the waistband and it's been hanging in my closet with the ribbon pinned to it.  Sunday morning, I was desperate for some clean clothes so I pulled all of the pins out and put it on.  Perhaps I'll add the ribbon sometime in the future.

Part of the reason this skirt has been hanging in my closet without being either finished or worn is that it didn't fit right.  I gained weight in between making my first Ginger and the second and so the waistband was too tight to wear a little below my natural waist like I wanted, instead it sat at my waist.  And, because I raised the hem, it was too short when it was sitting at my natural waist.  So, it sat in my closet, waiting for me to either take out the hem and lengthen it or give it away.

My experience with this skirt is one of the things that prompted me to start exercising and start eating better. It wasn't a long time between the time I finished my first Ginger and my second and yet I had still gained enough weight in that time for the skirt to not fit right (the 1st Ginger was longer so even though it sat higher on my waist that I would have liked, it didn't seem too short).  I've been steadily gaining around 5 lbs a year for the past 10 years.  This is not something I wanted to continue!  So, I've been eating twice as many fruits and veggies as I had been, drinking three times as much water (seriously, I was terribly dehydrated before!), and watching my portion sizes.  Now this skirt fits like I want it to!

Obligatory self-portrait in the mirror
Question:  does modeling your finished projects ever get any easier, or does it always feel awkward?  I always feel like a bit of a dork having my husband take random photos of me.  I'm not a center of attention kind of person.  I've heard having a tripod and a remote helps but I only have a point and shoot camera.  I can get a tripod for it, but not a remote, and the timer gets old real fast.  Any suggestions?

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Tuxedo kitty!


I wrote a nice long post about finishing up Cate's costume, but blogger ate it.  I don't have the heart to write it all out again right now, but I wanted to show you the pix from Halloween.




More details soon!



Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Getting down to the wire

[source]
Well, I got the t-shirt cut out last night, so I'm sewing it tonight.  I confess to doing a few things that I would normally consider rather shoddy practice in order to have it done in time.  First, I didn't pre-wash the fabric.  I realize that I run the risk that it will shrink in the wash but, really, at this point I don't much care if she is able to wear it past Halloween.  Second, there are a few things I would probably rip out and do over if I wasn't on a deadline.  There are a couple of little unintentional tucks in the tops of the sleeves which I would normally try to eliminate by ripping out that small area and redoing the stitching there.  I did some top-stitching around the collar to help hold down the seam allowance on the neck band and it is quite visibly uneven in one particular spot (because I used black thread all the way around the neck, even on the white fabric of the front).  I haven't finished the side seams or done the hem yet, but I will also likely not be too fussed if they turn out less than A quality work.

So, here's an update on the costume:

  • Collar:  Not started
  • Tail: needs to be sewn to an elastic band
  • Shirt:  needs side seams and hem sewn
  • Ears:  complete
  • Leggings:  purchased
  • Make up:  need to buy black eyeliner to draw a few whiskers and give her a little black nose
I guess I had better get back to work!