Tuesday, May 26, 2015

My Favorite Stores

I guess this is more about a favorite fabric than a favorite store but I just ordered again a few days ago so I have this one on my mind: Spandex World. I love their cotton spandex knit. It's a good medium weight with good recovery, it comes in lots of colors, and it's only $8.00 a yard. I've only ever ordered the solids but they have some lovely prints too, as well as a lot of other spandex fabrics: nylon, metallic, stretch velvet, stretch vinyl, stretch lace and more.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Stories About My Mother

Today is my mother's birthday. She would have been 82 years old today. Strangely, that doesn't seem all that old to me now. Oh... it's old but not old. It seems only as old as 62 seemed to me, oh, maybe 10 or 15 years ago. But I won't waste time talking about the unfairness of life and its shortness. (She lived to be 78)

I think I was four years old. Mom found a picture of a dress in a catalog. It was brown if I remember right. The skirt was solid brown and the bodice was gingham and it had an unusual double pocket - a solid brown pocket centered on top of a larger gingham pocket. Mom happened to have a small piece of turquoise gingham and an even smaller piece of solid yellow fabric. She proposed making for me a dress inspired by the dress in the catalog. But there was a catch. It would have to be the opposite to the dress in the catalog: gingham skirt and solid top and of course a gingham pocket on top of a larger solid pocket.

Well, this was simply unacceptable to my four-year-old self. I whined, I argued, I pouted, I argued some more and pouted some more. I can't explain it now except to say, "I was four," and it just seemed very, very wrong and the fact that there wasn't enough solid fabric to do it "right" was irrelevant. I guess I thought that my mom could do anything. She went ahead and made the dress the only way she could, gingham skirt and solid top, and once I saw it completed I liked it. I actually thought about making an adult version of this dress for myself - exactly like the one my mom made- just because she would have gotten a kick out of it but I never could find the exact right gingham.

Fast forward about six years. I was ten. We had found this great looking bright lime green pin dot fabric with a border of large pink flowers with orange centers. Mom was going to make a typical dress with a gathered skirt with the flower border around the bottom. But I had an idea. I wanted her to make a plain, straight dress, what she called a "shift", with the flowers going up and down the front, to one side. I got the feeling she thought it was a radical idea. She was not really hesitant. It was more like the idea caught her by surprise and she needed to think about it for a bit.

She did make the dress according my suggestion and we both loved it. I think of it as my first design idea, though it probably wasn't really. I have been picking out fabric and matching it to patterns for as long as I can remember so it's likely that I also had some original ideas earlier. Now... now I'm still getting ideas, making them happen, and I still never make anything without wishing I could show it off to my mom.

I had hoped to find photos of the these two dresses but I couldn't find any good ones. If I ever do I will update this.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

My Favorite Stores

Well, you see what happens when I try to do a weekly series. No excuses; I'm just going to try to get back on track. (Also, I should have some actual sewing to show off later this week.)

I have only ordered from Girl Charlee Fabrics twice (so far) but I have to include them as a favorite because they do something on their website that I have long said all online fabric stores should do. They give fabric weight in ounces per yard and the percent of stretch for stretch fabrics. I'm pretty confident that I know what I'm getting when I buy quilting cotton online but with everything else I feel like I am taking a chance and every little bit of information is helpful.

If I could ask for one improvement it would be better categorization. Have 100% cotton, cotton/spandex, cotton/poly blends, rayon blends, and so forth in separate categories instead of everything together. It's even worse with the "specialty woven fabrics" with challis, chiffon, peachskin and pretty much everything else all in one category.

I was very pleased with the knits I ordered from Girl Charlee. Many of their fabrics are made in the USA.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Just Slippers

Well, here they are, as promised. My first attempt at making shoes using the pattern from LivingDIYStyle. Trying to be positive, I'm going to say, not bad for a first try. At least you can sort of tell they're supposed to be shoes? They have a soft sole so just house slippers actually.

They do look a bit better with feet in them, I think.

The big disappointment is the serious lack of toe room. I made my usual size, 8, but I think next time I will make 8 1/2 or even 9. And I want to change the shape of the toe a bit. Another small problem: as you can see, the lining shows when they are on. (It's cotton flannel, BTW.) This isn't really a big problem with the slippers. It actually would be kind of cute if it showed evenly all the way around, but I will want to fix this on future shoes.

I made these entirely from scraps that I had on hand, except for the soles which are Shoeology soling fabric. This is very nice stuff - exactly what I've been looking for for ages for making slippers. I didn't bother with interfacing since this was just a test. I added little pieces of batting in the insole for a tiny bit of cushioning. I don't know that I would do that again, even for slippers. They need real insoles. As they are though, only a very thin insole would fit. I like my shoes nice and cushy.

I did walk around the house in them for a little while but, with the lack of toe room, I can't really call these wearable. Obviously more pattern testing and tweaking is needed. Here's one more pic.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Still Here, Still Sewing

I hate to go more than a week without posting anything so here I am even though I have nothing new to show off and nothing much to say. I am working on a little sun dress for my granddaughter but I can't finish it until this weekend when she's here.

I started on the shoes yesterday. Well, I cut them out at least. It's funny... this is something I have wanted to do for a long time but now that I have a pattern and all the materials I feel curiously reluctant to actually get started. But I will do it! I would like to say that I will have some handmade shoes to show off by the end of the week but if I say it it won't happen so I'm not saying it. These first ones are going to be just house slippers, using the sewable soling and some scraps of fabric that I already had.

It has been cold lately and I am seriously impatient for hot weather to finally get here so I can wear my summer dresses. I've got the three new ones that I've only worn for part of a day each. This weather actually sort of puts a damper on my sewing mood, at least for the kind of things that would normally be seasonally appropriate.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Chicken Dress

Have you ever made something that you love but at the same time you're disappointed with it? I decided I had to have a dress with chickens on it. Why? Why not? I found this fabric at eQuilter and instantly fell in love with it.

I used Kwik Sew 2671 a pattern I've used and modified many times. This time I eliminated the button front and made just a plain pullover dress. I also added elastic to the waist. The length is about mid-calf, my usual length, which always looks longer than that in photos.

It came out rather frumpy looking. I had a bit of trouble with the neckline. It wasn't too low or too wide but for some reason it was too open, especially when I was sitting down. I fixed that problem by making three little darts around the neckline but now it seems like there is extra fabric around the shoulder and armhole area. But I am done futzing with it. I always intended it to be just a fun everyday dress and that's what it is.

By the way, it was windy and threatening rain yesterday so I took the picture indoors in the one sort of presentable spot in my house. Today the weather has made good on yesterday's threat. It's pouring outside.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

So Much to Sew

This time of year I always feel a bit overwhelmed by all the things I want to sew. I have a dozen things that absolutely must be "the next thing." Oh, what to sew? What to sew? Should I sew this awesome new fabric that I just recently purchased or should I go into the deep stash? Or do I work on some of those garments that need altering or refashioning? (always so hard to do when there are wonderful new things to sew)

Actually, first, I need to fix a problem on the last dress I made. I would have had another new dress to show off yesterday but it needs a little tweaking. Then, I must make something for the granddaughter. She's growing so fast, as they always do. But before I even start that I'm already looking ahead to the next thing. What next? What next?

My Favorite Stores

Probably every person who sews already knows about Fabric.com but I wanted to mention it anyway because, if I am remembering correctly, it is the first online fabric store from which I ever bought fabric. There was a time when I thought I would never buy fabric online. You have to actually see it and touch it. But my local choices are extremely limited. There's the fabric department at Walmart and there's a small quilt shop, which only opened a couple of years ago. The next nearest fabric stores are about an hour's drive away. And online there is so much fabric. How could I not?

Fabric.com has a huge selection of fabric and very good prices. Their website is not one of my favorites but it's okay and shipping time is about average.