Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Finally Another Shirt

Yes, I still sew. I finally have something to show off. It took me ages to finish this because I worked on it just a little bit at a time but maybe we can talk about my lack of motivation later.

There was a bit of discussion at Anne's place about tops and tunics that don't go with anything but black jeans or black leggings so I thought I would try it with my crazy purple velveteen pants. (Shut up, they're warm and comfy.)

I'm a little uncomfortable with wearing too much purple though. Something about it says, "Crazy lady" to me. That's just me, right? So here it is with the black jeans. (Yes, I made those too.)

Yeah, that is better. (Darn it.)

Okay, the details. The pattern is New Look 6963, except for the sleeves, which are from a different pattern because this one doesn't include long sleeves. I think I like the look of the shorter version better on me but sometimes I like wearing longer shirts.

The fabric is a soft, lightweight twill from Denver Fabrics, bought a few weeks ago when it was on sale. I love it; it feels wonderful. I wasn't sure about the buttons. I was originally thinking either purple or dark green but there is an extremely limited selection of buttons available locally. No green or purple but I thought these yellow ones might be fun. I could have ordered buttons, of course, but at the time I started this I didn't want to wait for them. I am happy with the way it looks with the yellow. A little crazy maybe but it's "me".

So, my lack of motivation? The best way I can think of to explain is...

There are sewing projects I want to do and kind of need to do but, at the same time, don't want to do and I feel sort of guilty about skipping those things and working on something I really want to do so I get stalled for a while. I did start one of the need-to-do projects and then discovered I don't have all the notions I need for it. I haven't decided if I'm going to sew something else while I wait or not.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Old Sewing Machines

UPDATED: I was so wrong! See below.

Aren't these antique hand crank sewing machines beautiful?! There are a number of treadle sewing machines on the page also.

Two years ago I saw this old sewing machine outside a store in Silver Dollar City. (a theme park south of Branson, Missouri)

They have a lot of old rusty farm and household items just sitting around. It's supposed to be part of the charm of the place. Of course I had seen pictures of these before but this was the first (and so far only) one I've ever seen up close and in person. It made me sad (and actually a little shocked) that someone had just neglected it and left it to rust.

Ever since I saw that I have wished I had one of my own. I'm not going to buy one of the restored ones. It seems too self-indulgent. It's an expensive item that I don't need and I don't even have anywhere to keep and display it. But if I ever saw one un-restored but still somewhat functional for a good price I probably would not be able to resist the temptation.

UPDATE: This is NOT a hand crank machine. It's a Willcox & Gibbs electric machine. Actually a very, very interesting sewing machine. It uses only one thread, no bobbin. I so much want to try using one.

UPDATE II: Or I could still be wrong. Or even more wrong. Or I could have been right in the first place. Here is another page about Willcox & Gibbs sewing machines with more about the machines themselves and more pictures. There was a hand crank model that looked a lot like the electric model, just without the motor. There were also a number of clones so it might not be a Willcox & Gibbs machine at all. Anyway, I am increasingly fascinated with these machines.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Scrappy Inspiration

We sewing people are crazy aren't we? As I said before, I don't like a cluttered or mixed up look. I'm the matchy-matchy queen. In fact, I actually hate the term "matchy-matchy" because it suggests that there is something wrong with having everything match perfectly the way it's supposed to. [ahem] Anyway. I saw this dress in a catalog.

Not my thing, right? Definitely not my thing, but for some reason, as soon as I saw it I thought, "I could do that! I have all those scraps..." Yes, that's it, isn't it? Something to do with some of those scraps to justify keeping scraps. I was going to maybe make a quilt out of them "someday" but a dress would be faster.

The dress above is knit and most of my scraps are quilting cotton and nothing that really "goes together" like some of the pieces in the catalog dress but... well, I'm not as certain anymore. My inspiration is fading. I must be crazy to even think it. Here are just a few of my scraps, ranging in size from narrow strips to nearly half a yard.

Here's another scrap dress idea. Simple but crazy. And another. That one is a child's skirt but it could easily scale up. Oh, and here's a whole collection of patchwork skirts.

So what do you think? Is there any potential in my scrap collection and how crazy am I to be thinking of going in this direction?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Future Designer?

This mom let her 3-year-old boy pick her clothes for a week. Honestly not too bad. I've seen much worse on Anne's Wearable Wednesdays. (And we won't even talk about what we see at Walmart.)

If It Turns Out Right, It's Not Wrong

My mother taught me how to sew on a button when I was seven years old. Other than that I didn't really receive any sewing instructions from her. She told me that she had taught herself to sew. That was the way she learned best - on her own, without anyone looking over her shoulder. I suppose if I had asked how to do something she would have tried to show me but I never did. I always just assumed that one day I would simply start sewing and that's exactly how it happened.

Everything I knew about sewing before I started reading sewing blogs, I learned from watching my mom, from reading the instructions that come with patterns, and just experimenting. But I learned on the Internet that I've been doing some things wrong. For example, I had never heard of such a thing as "making a muslin". The closest I've ever come to that was using cheap fabric the first time I used a complicated-looking pattern but always with the intention of making something that I would wear. But generally, I don't even do that. I have always just plunged right in with the good fabric that I love. I never had a problem doing it that way but in the past decade or so I've started to be more careful because as I've gotten older some parts of me have expanded more than other parts which makes getting a good fit a little more complicated than it used to be.

On the other hand, there are some things I do that I thought were my own invention, and felt quite clever about, until I started reading sewing blogs and found out that nearly everyone else does that too. Still, I feel shy about showing how I do things. I imagine people out there thinking, "That is so wrong! That is so stupid! She doesn't know how to do it right," with superior smirks on their faces. Because we never really get over childhood peer pressure do we?

So that's why my tag line says "successfully doing it wrong since the 1970s". Because I do it "wrong" sometimes and "wrong" works for me, so it's not wrong.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

My Style

I often half-joke, "I don't have a style; I just wear whatever I like." I don't really think about having a "style." Defining a style and consciously sticking to it seems too limiting. So my style, if I have one, is unplanned and I like it that way. But I saw this idea on Not Dead Yet Style and I thought it might be a fun exercise, even though it won't change anything for me. It is simply to list my "likes" and "dislikes." I am going to change that a bit and frame them as "Me" and "Not Me" instead because the things I avoid are not only the things I don't like but also, in some cases, things I do like but that just don't work for me. So anyway, here we go.

A bit retro (but not always)
Florals and novelty prints
Wide variety of colors
Fitted tops/bodices
Moderately full or A-line skirts
Lace trim and rick-rack

Not Me
Menswear look
Pencil skirts
Excessively full skirts
High-low hems
Cluttered or mixed-up look

As you can see I have more in the Me list than in the Not Me. I'm sure that if I thought about it more, and wanted to go into more detail, I could come up with more for both lists but that's enough for a general overview of my style.

I am interested in seeing your Me and Not Me or Likes and Dislikes. If you would like to join the fun, post your lists on your blog and post a link in the comments or, if you don't have a blog just post your lists in the comments. I look forward to reading about your style.

UPDATE: I see that URLs don't show up as links in the comments so I'm going to post them here for your convenience.

Living in Color

Just Site Notes

Small Blogger problem - actually small but sort of huge to me: When I upload photos to Blogger they appear on my phone. (WTF, Google? I thought you said you weren't evil.) This is a problem because when the extended family gets together and we're all passing around our phones showing off pictures of kids and pets I don't want to have to explain why I have so many pictures of myself on my phone so I'm going to use Flickr for most of the photos on this blog until I figure this out. (And yes, they all know I have a blog (though they might not know about this one yet) but most of them wouldn't read it if I bribed them with money.)

Since I started this blog I have had absolutely NO spam comments so I'm wondering if I really need to moderate comments, but at the same time I'm a little worried the spammers will suddenly come out of the woodwork by the thousands if I open up comments. But I might try it. For a little bit. Maybe.

Also, I still have a lot more links to add, not only blogs but a few of my favorite stores too. I was going to say that it might take me a long time to get around to that but it's been my experience that a blogroll or links list is never really finished.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Old Friend, New Friend

I inherited my maternal grandmother's treadle sewing machine when I was 18. I had done a little sewing but this is what really kick-started my sewing life. It never occurred to me to keep it just as an antique sitting in a corner, something to set plants on, or turn it into a desk or something. (sacrilege!) It's a sewing machine! Besides that, I always liked the idea of being different, of doing something almost no one else does.

It's not pretty. It was already old and beat-up-looking when I was a small child but it sews like a dream. I have sewn everything on it from the most delicate fabrics to some really heavyweight stuff and the things it can't do, like buttonholes, I learned to do by hand. I am, frankly, quite proud of it and what it can do. I have never felt limited by it at all.

In all these years I have never had any desire to have a modern electric machine. Until recently. A couple of things caused me to change my mind. Last fall I was doing a blanket stitch to finish the seams on a pair of jeans. It's a fun stitch; I always enjoy it, but, for the first time, I started thinking, "I could get this done faster if I had a modern sewing machine."

Another thing that happened is that I got older. (Wait! Really?) When you're in your 20s and you use a treadle sewing machine, exclusively, you might be cool and a bit of a rebel, but when you're 50+ (No! That can't be right! I demand a re-count!) and you use a treadle machine, exclusively, you're just an old woman who can't handle modern technology. So I hinted that I might like a new sewing machine for Christmas and I got this one:

I like it. It has lots of nice specialty stitches, most of which I will probably never use, and it's almost as easy to use as the treadle machine. My original intention was to just use it for things like finishing seams and buttonholes but I have made one "outfit" (a set of knit pajamas) on it and I think I might always make knit garments entirely on this machine. The old machine sews knits just fine but it's nice to be able to finish the seams neatly. I tried using it once to make buttonholes. I think I will probably continue to make buttonholes by hand.

I will continue to use the old machine most of the time. I'm in the middle of making a shirt on it now. But it's nice to have the new one for certain things.