Saturday, August 11, 2012

Iron, I Love You

I always hated ironing, but since I've started sewing, I find it both enjoyable and relaxing. I have a lot more crisp cotton in my life, and I enjoy making an item that is freshly laundered look freshly laundered. (Confession, I'm terrible about hanging the laundry once it dries.) Turns out ironing is even better than pinning when sewing. I can measure as I go and make sure things are nice and even. If I iron correctly, I don't have to pin. If I don't have to pin, I don't have to worry about stabbing myself or about remembering to take out the pins. Yay, iron!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Finally, Success!

It's been one of two things. Either I haven't sewn because it's so bloody hot that a work day in this heat rendered me a damp lump, or the sewing machine was still being evil. Evil! I decided that with this break in the heat, I'd give it yet another go. Same snarls. For some reason, I decided to look at the bobbin. Turns out it had somehow come out of its track. Slid it back in and voila! Everything is back to yes.

Since I only had a little bit to go on my simple skirt, I was able to finish it tonight. While the charm pack skirts used elastic waistbands, I had instructions for that skirt. This one I made from a scrap with my own made up pattern. (The pattern is a rectangle. Top secret!!!) With 1" elastic for the waistband, I allowed myself 1.25" for the waistband casing. However, I failed to consider that my zig-zag stitch is .25" wide. No wiggle room! I just couldn't get my waistband finished without a mess so I picked the whole thing apart (after four attempts to plow through). As you can see, it's not the best fit -- tight in the thighs, baggy in the waist. Although, I do feel I learned some things about the way fabric lays on the body, namely, I'm way too curvy to start with such straight hems. Next step: A-line.

Skills acquired: elastic waistband

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Rack'em Frack'em $@#(!

For the first time in two months, I was able to sew. I ironed out the hem of a poorly thought-out first attempt at a skirt waistband, adjusted it, and started sewing. Everything was going smoothly, when halfway through the bobbin thread started to pull through the top. Mind you, the thickness of the fabric hadn't changed from the first half of the waistband. Nothing at all had changed. I tightened the setting from 4 to 5 and it got worse. At this point I realized it had been so long since I'd sewn that I'd forgotten how to trouble shoot; that was an emotional blow. So I got out my book, learned that it needed to be loosened, and so set the tension to 3. Giant snarl. I set it back to 4. Giant snarl. 4 again. Bobbin thread pulling through. WHAT THE HECK, SEWING MACHINE!?! YOU CANNOT HAVE OPPOSITE PROBLEMS AT THE SAME SETTING!!!!

By this time, I'd picked the waistband out at least four times. I wanted to scream, throw my sewing machine off a bridge, and punch a bear in the face.

Between this and my utterly disastrous attempt at a berry tart yesterday, this weekend is the opposite of domestic bliss.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Life Gets in Life's Way

It's his fault. I haven't sewn for a month because we got a new bunny, Java. Trouble is, Java and Mocha, the rabbit we've had for two years, don't get along. This means that they have to be closely watched when they're having their separate play times so they don't start nipping each other through the cage bars.

It's a cute, cuddly problem, but I have three skirts downstairs in various states of creation. A weekend wherein I'm not the primary bun-sitter would be nice.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I'm Too Ambitious

Since we're talking about sewing beyond my skill.
Arg! It's always something. Last time it was the fray of doom. That's in check now, but I seem to have reached beyond my grasp. Instead of putting waist pleats in this new shirt-skirt like I did with the previous one, I broke out my rockin' French curve and made some hips. It went quickly and well until it didn't.

Problem #1: My markers aren't unmarking. I got a pair of those markers that you can mark and wash away. Only, they're not washing away! No matter how much I wipe, I just end up moving a blue line around my skirt. GRR!

Problem #2: Part of the beauty of turning a men's shirt into a skirt is that some of the work is already done. The button holes are stitched. The buttons are attached. The hem and side seams are finished. Oh, yeah, the seams. I sort of undid that with my brilliant French curve hippy work. Nice. I literally spent half and hour reading up on seams to figure out how to finish these seams.

Problem #3: The answer is a mock French seam. To do a mock French seam, I need to iron my current seam flat. Uh, it's already curved. That happens when you use a French curve. To proceed, I need a tailor's ham -- a 3D ironing board.

Problem #4: I removed some cuff buttons to replace them for visual interest. I removed the wrong buttons. Now I have to sew them back on.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fray of DOOM!

I'd already made the awesome lower half of my next men's-shirt-upcycled-into-a-skirt and was about to start on the waistband when I noticed this:
That is the fray of doom, people! It's right on the cuff, the top of the waist band.

I had planned on listing this skirt on Etsy and I was especially excited about it being a larger size (34 inch waist) because Etsy is full of tiny people. I'm sure I can stop the damage with fray check and fusible webbing, but I can't make the wear disappear. So do I not list it? Do I note that as an upcycled item there is regular wear to the fabric?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Upcycled Men's Shirt

Skills acquired: pleating, using hem tape

I made a skirt! This is the finished product of my upcycled men's skirt. I'm particularly proud of the pleating. I finished the hem at the waist with hem tape, a substance I will wax poetic about in the future.

It's a pretty simple design, so I'm trying to think of ways to jazz it up. Contrasting waistbands, upgrading buttons, piping, ruffles. When I have more, I'll list them on Etsy!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Men's Shirt Into a Skirt

In November I bought an armful of men's shirts to turn into skirts. This project got shoved aside for Christmas, but after the recent passing of my snuggle bunny, I needed something light to distract me.

I want to maybe get more creative with some of these shirts, but the blue pattern is busy enough that I was okay sticking with a simple design. Using this tutorial for the rough idea, I sat down with some Law & Order: Criminal Intent and my seam ripper. I decided to start with the blue patterned shirt. The first step is to remove the cuffs...I hate these cuffs. They were triple stitched onto the sleeves. I was ripping them out for at least two episodes. For comparison, I removed the entire sleeve of the polka dot shirt in 15 minutes.

Sewing the waistband went rather well. I consulted some of my books, chanted "I can do this! I am awesome!" In 30 minutes, I had a beautiful waistband...that was backwards. Frustrated, I abandoned my project for the night.

The next night, I fixed the waistband and pinned the skirt in place. I felt I couldn't finished the edged and get it properly pinned, so I'm going to get some hem tape to make things neat. Finished pictures in a couple days!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Darn It!

It's been a terrible week, so I'm catching up on my hand sewing while I distract myself with TV. I really hate hand sewing, but any sewing at all is good right now. Plus, I feel empowered to save my socks. I will darn them to salvation!

On the list of items to fix (aside from socks), sewing buttons back on jackets, darning some studded cashmere Michael Kors arm warmers I bought for a steal because of a hole, and picking apart a men's shirt for a later project.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Where Am I?

I haven't posted in a month because I've been busy covering Fashion Week (a misnomer as it's really four major fashion cities showing one after another) for Fashion Me Fabulous. Because of this, I haven't been able to spend time sewing. This season's been a little interesting since I've taken up sewing. I noticed the seams more than ever. I cared about the fabrics and draping more. Poorly cut pants made me more nervous to try them.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Book Review: The Sewing Bible

Details: The Sewing Bible by Ruth Singer, $23.10 on Amazon.

Pros: Stitch By Stitch assumes your fabric is cotton or some other easy material, but The Sewing Bible lists other options for neat hems and seams if you're using a more difficult fabric like tweed or silk. Likewise, if you want to make some nice clothes without linings, this book will teach you how to finish your seams and hems professionally.

Where The Sewing Bible excels is the middle section regarding embellishments. She gives a nice primer on everything from pleats, beading, smocking, frogs, applique, quilting, pintucks and more.

Cons: Singer thinks too highly of hand sewing. It's all fine and good to know these techniques, but telling the reader to slip stitch a hem that could be done on machine is silly.

Some of the tutorials really won't do anything to improve your sewing skills, and they aren't structured to build skills like those in Stitch By Stitch.

Summary: Stitch By Stitch will teach you how to sew, but The Sewing Bible can spin you off from there. I would not recommend it as a catch-all primer, however.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

More Aprons and More!

I made two more aprons. One is pretty much exactly what I made my nephew, and the other is for a baby.
This was my first commissioned work, which brings me to the drumroll section of this post...


Introducing, The Hare and The Pear! This is my Etsy shop. Bookmark it! Hopefully I'll have a few things in it each month.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Place Of Her Own

Since April, I've been sewing on the dining table. Well, to be honest, most of those days my machine sat unloved on the dining table while I glared at it. As my sewing paraphernalia grew, it took up more and more space until we were eating dinner on the couch each night. My fabric was spread around the house, my tools were usually out of reach, and bunny fur was getting everywhere.
My mannequin lived by the bookcase, make a creepy silhouette in the window.
No more! For Christmas, dear darling hubby got me the Expedit desk from Ikea. It's a pretty sweet sewing station. It's wide enough for my sewing machine and ironing board. Like most Ikea goods, it's modular and you can add new cubbies or buy door and drawer units to change the functionality. He set it up in the basement in an area we'd painted and carpeted. It's very comfy and well-lit.
Yes, I hung tulle form the ceiling.
What looks like cardboard tubes under my mannequin is really postal paper for patterns.
I have all my tools and fabric organized and at hand. No more searching for my scissors or seam gauge. My sewing box, which doubles as my pin cushion, is both out of the way and easy to get to. I don't have to walk to another room to get a book to reference. I know exactly what fabric and threads I have. My bobbins and fasteners are tucked away in drawers. So tidy!
Books and pins at hand!
These wooden boxes can from my parent's business. It's special to me to be able to reuse them.
Cotton waiting to be transformed into clothing.
We had an ornate card table in that space, so now it's my cutting station. My mat's a little large for the table. If I don't get a new table, I'll paint this one white.
I need to make some curtains to add to the hominess and subtract from the basementness. I like the white and brown, but I want to add touches of pink to make it like a cute French chocolate shop. And if you happen to be someone who sleeps in this area when you visit, fear not. There's still plenty of room for an air mattress.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Appliqued Robots

Skills acquired: applique, using fusible and non-fusible interfacing, dull needle identification

Meet my first applique.This was done on a toddler's tee shirt. I tried a variety of stitches on scraps first, and liked the zig-zags best. I know that will mean a little fraying, but that's okay. The button belly is happy.

I had black fusible interfacing and white non-fusible, so I had to use the non-fusible. (I've since stocked up on fusible.) I'm not sure if it was the best thing to use. It felt stiff, but that is sort of the point.

This is what I was putting on a onesie when my machine punched a hole in it. I had one antennae and the face left to do. That's all! The repair shop said they should have my machine ready by Monday. I miss it so much!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Blast You, Machine!

I've learned a hard lesson about dull needles. Of course, I should have checked it before over six months had passed. I was on the last few stitches of a onesie I was appliqueing for Christmas when my machine ate it! It needed to go in for servicing anyway as tension settings no longer seem to matter. I knocked it up to eight at one point but it was still crazy loose.