Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Still Here, Still Sewing

Oh my, it has been such a long time. For the past... something like two months, I have been working on what I started calling, "The Sewing Project From Hell." Not that it was especially difficult but things kept going wrong, entirely because I wasn't concentrating and did stupid things and that made me procrastinate. I would finish one step and then take two or three days off from sewing and then just one more little step and so on. Before that I finished a couple more of those little cotton knit cardigans and took pictures but the pictures turned out terrible and I never did get around to trying again.

Anyway, here's that project that took so long. I noticed that my husband complained a lot about the jacket he was wearing for working on the house and around the yard. The sleeves were too short, it was too warm, and so on. So I decided to make him a jacket that worked better for him. And finally, here it is.

I used an old shirt pattern and just added a lining. The outer shell is a medium-heavyweight denim. The lining is a fairly hefty flannel with satin sleeves.

I also added a couple of tabs in back that can serve as hammer loops. I sort of hate to show you this picture because my stitching is so terrible but it's functional. That's the whole point of the jacket so I'm not terribly bothered about this.

The most important thing is, he likes it and has been wearing it. I was worried about that because I have made shirts for him that he wouldn't wear and I could never figure out what was wrong with them because they were basically the same as other shirts I made that he did like. So that's another reason it was "The Sewing Project From Hell" - because the whole time I was working on it I was thinking, "Am I going to all this trouble for nothing?" But he likes it! Success!

* * * * *

Now I'm ready to make something for myself. Sort of like a reward, you know? But I decided to make some pants (trousers) and leggings for my granddaughter. I have a lot of leftover pieces of denim, twill, and cotton spandex knit that are just enough to make little person pants and it will be good to do something with those and get them out of the way.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Early Fall Top

Here's the fabric...

And here's the tunic...

It's a McCall's 9065 with the same changes as this one from last year. I love it. This olive green is one of my favorite fall colors. The fabric was just two yards from the deep stash. I was originally going to make a different kind of top but I'm really loving this pattern.

Goal: Sew fabric that I have had for 2+ years at least once a month (or 12 times this year) 9/12

(Yeah, I know... not doing so good on the using new patterns goal.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Last Dress of Summer

I really hate that summer dress season is ending but here it is. Saturday is the official first day of fall so this will be the last dress I make in summer 2018.

I Frankenpatterned the heck out of this make and I absolutely freaking love it! The bodice is based on Simplicity 1803 but with no front seam and I laid pieces from Simplicity 1882 over it to get the neckline and I used the collar from that pattern and made it just a little bit wider. The skirt is a half circle. The pockets are from a very old skirt pattern. I traced and enlarged the pocket a long time ago and I haven't seen the original pattern in ages.

I love the colors in this fabric. It can work for fall too. There are several different color choices for cardigans to go with it, none of which I currently own. Yay, more shopping. The red shoes are Clark's Cloud Steppers.

I added this lovely vintagey looking button (new, not actually vintage) and darn it; it's not straight.

I love it but I think I might look for a round button to replace it.

Now take another look at that first picture. That open rectangle to my right, on the left side of the photo... that's the window of my future sewing room, looking out on our lovely front yard. (We are planning to move the old broken down glider chair to the back porch.)

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Scalloped Skirt

It feels like ages since I blogged but, lucky you, here I am again, finally. This fabric has been in the stash for several years so this make addresses one of my goals. And I stuck with my original plan to make a skirt with a scalloped hem. In fact, the scallops are what had me procrastinating.

They're not perfect but I think I'm getting better at making scallops. Of course it has pockets - side seam - and the left pocket conceals the opening. No zipper, just a button. I forgot to take a picture of it but it's like the pocket on this denim skirt.

I did take a closeup of the fabric though - 100% cotton, black background, simple cream flowers and a little touch of pink.

This is how it will usually be seen. I never almost tuck.

I don't have very many tops that I can wear with it but that's okay. I love it with this one. (blogged here) The shoes, in case anyone's interested, are Abeo and they're awesome. Flexible, great arch support.

I haven't been wearing skirts much at all in the past few years so I'm a little concerned that I won't wear this but of course the solution to that problem is to just wear it. And I will.

Goal: Sew fabric that I have had for 2+ years at least once a month (or 12 times this year) 8/12

* * * * *

In case this is your first time here, these pictures (not including the closeup) were taken (by tripod and timer) in the house we're building. It's timber frame construction which goes a little different from conventional construction. The roof is built before the floor. And we finally have most of a sub-floor! Getting to this point feels like a really big deal. My little fur child, whom you can see in the background, loves it. She's moved in already.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Another Simple Top and August Angst

This is the other piece of fabric that I bought at the same time as this and I did the same thing with it except with a V-neck this time. (Headless shot this time because I'm feeling too lazy this morning to take 50 photos so I can maybe get one in which I'm not making a weird face.)

I love it. Like the other one, it is so comfortable.

Oh, by the way, did you want to see progress on the house? We now have floor joists, including the front porch.

It feels like things are moving along faster lately. It's starting to feel like we might actually manage to finish this crazy project.

* * * * *

This is that time of year when I go, "Nooooooo! It can't be August already! I'm not ready for summer to be over!" I like warm weather, I love wearing cool, breezy summer dresses. I haven't sewn as many dresses for myself this year as I had planned to. One reason is that I sewed a lot for my granddaughter and that's great. It's so fun to have a little girl to sew for. But there are other reasons. My closet is full! So far I can always manage to stuff one more dress or blouse or tunic into it but it's so hard to find anything in it I keep wearing the same half dozen dresses.

This summer has been weird. It was hot for a little while but we have also had a lot of days that are almost like fall. And then there's our air conditioner situation. Late last summer our central AC stopped cooling. I wanted to get it fixed one more time but my husband said no, let's just get three window air conditioners and we can donate them after we move into the new house. They work okay but they're very inconsistent. Sometimes it's 78F so I turn it down just one degree then half an hour later it will be 72F, which feels very cold to me. So I haven't been wearing my dresses as much this year, which makes me sad and not very motivated to make more.

The spare room where my cutting table is didn't get one of the air conditioners so most days it's too hot to be in except very early in the morning so I haven't been cutting as much. And that's just purely a matter of motivation. I do wake up early and I could force myself to stop wasting time in the morning and get to the cutting before it gets too hot but the main thing is the lack of motivation to make more dresses that I probably won't wear much if at all.

I did take a few things to Goodwill about a month ago. While I was going through the closet to find things I could get rid of I found a blouse that I thought I had taken to Goodwill years ago. Now the logical thing to do would have been to add it to the things going to Goodwill this time since I didn't even know I still had it but I was so surprised and happy to find it. I have actually thought about it a few times and wished I hadn't given it away so to find that I hadn't... Well, of course I kept it.

My closet in the new house will be twice as big but no doubt I will over-fill that one within a year. [sigh]

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Wearing the Tropics

It came to my attention a while back that I did not have a dress with flamingos on it; that is, I saw a dress with flamingos that another sewing blogger was showing off and had to have one myself. (I can't remember where or exactly when I saw it; it was at least a year ago.) So I took my time looking and eventually found the most awesome fabric with flamingos, big tropical flowers and leaves and even a few pineapples, and this is what I ended up with:

It's a lovely, lightweight 100% cotton. I used Simplicity 1803, view C, as the starting point for my creating because I have been fussing with these princess seams forever and have almost got them right. I eliminated the front bodice seam and used a plain skirt from a different pattern because the one in S1803 has too many seams. Who needs all those extra seams when you have a big beautiful print? I completely changed the front neckline and, as always, it has pockets and a side zipper.

Here's the back. I love these scoop backs in the summer.

I didn't even attempt pattern matching because I was a little short of fabric. In fact, I had to use a solid light blue fabric for the facings. But I really don't mind all that much. I'm not quite that OCD about matching.

This is one of the kind of dresses that make me smile all day long when I'm wearing it so here's another pic of me showing off.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Amazing Colors

A few months ago I had some less than enthusiastic thoughts about Girl Charlee fabrics. So why did I go shopping there again? Well, here's the thing. We're building a house. Now when most people say, "We're building a house," they mean, "We hired a contractor to build us a house," but we, my husband and I with occasional help from sons and brothers, are hands-on, DIY, literally building a house ourselves. And it's getting close to 100F these days so I need some more cool clothes to work in. I have plenty of old t-shirts but it is too hot for anything with any sleeve at all or a high neckline and I have only two sleeveless knit tops that I have been wearing for working on the house which is, honestly, enough but I thought it would be nice to have a couple more in case I wanted to put off doing laundry for another day or two.

Girl Charlee always has good prices on knits and given my purpose for these it doesn't really matter a lot if they come out less than presentable. The fabric I chose is a cotton/modal blend. I have had no idea what modal is but that's what Google and Wikipedia are for. It's a type of rayon. (groan) What is it with Girl Charlee and rayon? They need to rename the company Girl Rayon. But anyway, this is different. It turns out, it's a very nice, smooth, surprisingly stable, easy to sew knit.

Well, I have babbled enough. Here it is, finally.

OMG! Look at those colors! And the fit is good. It's not twisty or wonky in any way. Now I'm thinking this is way too nice for construction work. I almost exclusively wear dresses in the summer (except for working on the house or in the yard, obviously) but this would go great with a cardigan for cooler weather and there are so many colors I could pair it with.

I used a t-shirt pattern, Butterick 5215, left off the sleeves and adjusted the arm holes so they wouldn't be so gaping, and lowered the neckline. (I could have lowered it even more.) I made narrow facings for both the neckline and arm holes.

So now what am I going to wear for working on the house? Well, screw it. I'm going to go buy several modest sports bras and just work in those and cargo capris. Did I mention that it's been getting up to nearly 100F here? (It's supposed to be above 100 this weekend.)

* * * * *

BTW, the house is post frame construction, which is more tornado and earthquake resistant than conventional construction. We have both here. It might look like not much has been done since the last picture I posted of it (back in January, I think it was) but we have actually done a lot of work. Most of the work so far has been up above, on the roof and the second floor. You wouldn't believe all the little details of roof construction!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Oh look! Chickens!

Hey everyone; I used a new pattern! "New" meaning bought ages ago and never used. It's Simplicity 1459. The fabric is also some that I bought several years ago so this addresses both of my two sewing goals for 2018.

I wish you could see all the subtle background colors of the chicken fabric. The basic color is ivory but there are irregular splotches of a peachy color. That's why I chose peach colored buttons. I think it turned out pretty good for a first try. The darts are not quite in the right place but overall I'm happy with it.

I didn't have quite enough of the dark fabric for both the wide skirt border and the large collar so I made the under collar that you can't see out of the chicken fabric. Also, as you can see, I eliminated the notch. Here's a pic of the back.

I did take a couple of back pictures outside but when I uploaded them I saw that the collar was folded under. This is something I'm going to have to be aware of when I wear it. I'm tempted to tack it down but I'm afraid that might cause it to look wonky so I'm going to leave it alone.

I am definitely going to use this pattern again. I already have two, maybe three, future Simplicity 1459s in mind.

Goal: Sew fabric that I have had for 2+ years at least once a month (or 12 times this year) 7/12
Goal: Use unused patterns from my stash: 1

Monday, July 9, 2018

Little Things

I have started and completed several sewing projects in the last two weeks. I feel like I have really been accomplishing things. I will start with a couple of little things I have made for the granddaughter and I will try sometime this week to get around to photographing the two things I have made for myself.

First, this cute little dress is Simplicity 1453.

This was the first time I had used this pattern. It has a lot of little details but it wasn't difficult. I specifically wanted to make her something with cats on it and I found this adorable kitten fabric at eQuilter. The trim fabric is a subtle tumbling blocks print.

Next is this t-shirt.

This is not among my best work but considering how difficult to work with the main fabric was, it turned out better than I expected. It's very soft and drapey and kept trying to run away while I was sewing it. But it's fine for a 4-year-old's play clothes. She likes shiny things so I'm pretty sure she will love it.

* * * * *

Now it's time to start something else but I haven't decided what yet and I'm feeling sort of anxious being between projects. Maybe take a break from sewing for a couple of days; maybe do some of the altering and re-fashioning that I've been putting off; maybe grab something randomly and just get started? What do you do when you have indecisive days?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

And the bad news is now I have to order all my bras from India

NOTE: This might especially be of interest to vintage and retro fashion enthusiasts.

It was sometime in the mid 1970s, when I was a teenager, that I first saw an ad for a modern "natural" shape bra. My mom and I both agreed that we hated it. Before long though that became the normal bra shape and in one sense, I got used to it but in another sense I never did. It came to be what I expected to find and I practically forgot that bras had ever been designed any other way but I have always had a lot of trouble finding the right bra and I was always a little dissatisfied with what I ended up with, without really knowing what I wanted.

By the early 90s I had gained two dress sizes and gained one more before I settled into what seems to be my permanent size 14. (16 in pants) I went through a phase of thinking I had to wear shapeless clothes so the shape of my bra really didn't matter a whole lot. But then I discovered sewing blogs on which beautiful women of all sizes proudly show off their creations. I was inspired to find my own style.

It turns out my style is sort of a hybrid of retro and timeless. I don't go full on retro with the hair and makeup and shoes and all but I like the basic 40s - 50s style with close fitting bodices and full(ish) skirts that fall at mid-calf or a little below. Suddenly, finding the right bra was a problem again. A close fitting bodice requires just the right bra or it will never fit correctly. And so the search began.

"Retro" shaped bras do exist but my search was complicated by the fact that I was used to seamless cups and for a while was not willing to give up that feature. But I did find two seamless cup bras that were acceptable, though far from ideal.

The first one I found was a Playtex 18 Hour. That's an Amazon link but I actually bought my first one of these at Walmart. When I first tried it on I actually freaked out a little, like OMG it makes the girls look so pointy! But wait, I told myself, isn't this what you wanted? So I put clothes on over it and it made the clothes look fabulous. Best fit ever. However, there are problems with it. The pictures are not at all accurate. It comes up freakishly high in front and the back is about twice as wide as shown in the picture. I later ordered a couple of these from Amazon, thinking I was getting something different based on the pictures, and got the exact same bra I had previously purchased at Walmart. I really wish I could find that bra - the one in the pictures. Being too high in front and too thick in back is a problem for summer dresses but it also just feels weird and wrong.

Next I discovered the Playtex foam lined Cross Your Heart Bra. I knew I would not like the foam lining but I tried it anyway and it's actually almost perfect. It works under all my summer dresses, It's low enough for V-neck fronts and low scoop backs. The cup shape is something in between retro cone shaped and modern rounded. It's a shape that works well enough with all my dresses but there's that foam lining. I'm all for modesty but who wants to trap the girls in foam when it's 100F outside? Of course, like most people I'm in air conditioned spaces most of the time but three minutes outside and the bra has soaked up twice its own weight in sweat. Still, this has been my bra of choice for several years.

Finally though, a couple of months ago I decided to start the search again. And to learn to live with seams. I searched all the bras at Amazon, not just the prime eligible ones, and discovered Sona bras. Yes, that is spelled correctly - Sona with an N. The first was this Delicate Super Everyday. I was skeptical but decided to take a chance anyway because in one of the pictures it looked like it might be the right shape. And my size was available in pink!

Well, I like it and I don't. The lace is very rough and bumpy and tends to show through and it doesn't really support all that well. It's especially lacking in side support so if you have a problem with underarm boob this is not the bra for you. But it is amazingly comfortable so I decided to search for other styles in the same brand. That's when I discovered that Amazon does not want you to find Sona bras. You search for Sona and it gives you Soma. But fortunately there is a "Dammit I said SONA, show me what I asked for!" link. It doesn't really say that but it should. And I found two more that I wanted to try and ordered two of each.

The appropriately named Perfecto turned out to be The One! Ahhhhhh! [Choir of angels, ray light from Heaven] It has that perfect retro shape (I like to call it classic) excellent support even on the sides and it's cool and comfortable unlined cotton. Sadly, my size is only available in white and beige right now but it also comes in black, red, and pink in some sizes.

Finally, there is the Bee-Heart which is the weirdest bra I have ever seen. To start with, it is 100% non-stretch cotton except for short pieces of elastic in the back on each side of the fasteners. The band, the straps, everything, is non-stretch cotton. When I took it out of the package I immediately thought, "There is no way this is going to work," but it's actually more comfortable than I expected and stays in place and keeps the girls in place very well. I wore it all day yesterday and never once had the urge to rip it off and burn it. But the downside? The cups are a very weird shape even if you're looking for pointy, which they definitely are. The center (the in between cups area) forms kind of a concave curve. Like I said, weird. It doesn't look too terrible under clothes though as long as it's not something clingy.

The weird bra has inspired me though. One of the things (not the only thing) that has kept me from trying to make my own bras is the difficulty in finding the right materials. I have found online retailers that sell a limited selection of bra supplies but I've been procrastinating because, even though I buy fabric online all the time, in this case I want to be able to handle it first, especially the elastic. Bra elastic is not like other elastic. Anyway, handling and wearing that last bra, I realized I can just make one out of cotton! So my plan is to take apart one of the second Platex bras mentioned above. Although the outer cups are seamless the innermost lining has a seam so it should work as a pattern. And of course I will try other patterns.

Oh, almost forgot! Sona bras are made in and ship from India. I have to wait a little longer to get them but both times I ordered they shipped in less that 48 hours and it didn't take a terribly long time to get all the way here to Oklahoma - about two and a half weeks total. I will definitely order again.