Monday, July 30, 2012

au revoir Tallia

while i was stalking craigslist for bookshelves, i came across this dress form…

for only $10! so i snatched it up. and by "snatched it up" i mean i harassed the lady via email and then drove to another town to pick it up. the lady told me the measurements beforehand, but i thought i could make it work. i thought wrong. she's adjustable. but at her smallest, she's still too large! argh!! Her bust is 39" at the smallest. mine is not.

here she is from the side. she doesn't have a stand but there is a place where you could screw one in. so right now she's just relaxing in my sewing space, not doing any work at all! lazy Tallia! i've started calling her Tallia because it says "taille" around her waist. which i've now figured out…

so Tallia will be going back on craigslist. and i'll have to keep looking. $10 was too good to be true. (but i did find 3 great bookcases at a steal!) 

do you have a dress form you love? tell me about it! 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

so i started this… and it needs some help

Last night I took a class on sewing with knits and we needed to have a pattern ready for the class, so I picked this McCall's…

I wanted to do the shorter dress. First time sewing with knits, less fabric wasted if it turns into a disaster… (Although I hate to throw a project out, so I probably wouldn't waste the fabric, I'd rework it into something somehow) Here's the knit fabric I bought…

It's a kind of a green/gray/taupe-y color with cream/white cherry blossoms that could also look like paint splatter maybe? I don't know. I mainly wanted to make sure it wasn't too thin or sheer that it would be see through. This is a good weight and has a nice stretch, but now I'm thinking it would've been better to pick something more fluid and drapey.

I added an inch to the neckline because when I held up the pattern I wasn't sure if it would be too low and I could always cut it down later if it's too high.

I'm cutting the fabric on the floor. That's just how i roll. No I'm not using a rotary cutter on my hardwood floors. Somewhere I have a self-healing cutting mat that i used for mounting projects in college. I was hoping I'd find it instead of having to go buy a new one. Those big ones are pretty pricey when I checked a store. I could probably use some pattern weights as well. Right now i'm using my husband's books. 

Here it is cut out. This is the back piece. Just 2 pieces and I intended to cut bias strips to bind the neck and arm holes instead of doing a double turn like the instructions said. Although with a knit, the strips don't have to be cut on the bias because of the stretch, right? I pinned the front to the back, wrong sides out and very carefully pulled it on to test out the fit. This was kind of stupid, but i'm a novice so forgive me. Safety pins would've been better or i should've just basted the thing. It was very pokey with all those needles. yep, stupid. it fit in the hips, but the top was too big. and then there was this awful pooling of fabric above my butt. So the top needs to be taken in a size or 2 and then graded out to the bottom. I took photos and then deleted them because i couldn't bring myself to post those. And then i checked the waist on the pattern and it's a good 2 inches above my natural waist, so I should've lengthened it. Long torso here. never did like 1 piece bathing suits for that reason.

it was late so i didn't get to fix it. and when i got to class the next day, i decided to start on something simple so that i could actually get to work during the class time. i used a solid blue knit and cut out a simple skirt from a pattern our teacher had. I'll get back to fixing the dress after i finish the skirt. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

so i sewed this… and it's finished!

So this top was finished before i started the blog (which is very recent if you're just tuning in), but i hadn't taken any photos. This is my first project (i'm not counting the sewing projects i did as a kid), so be kind! Actually i can take the critique, so go ahead, because it will help me learn! This fabric has been hanging around waiting for me to make something out of it. It's a large piece, so I can probably still cut a dress out of it. I think my aunt & uncle gave it to me; they always find unique gifts. Not sure why they decided to give it to me because i wasn't sewing at the time. Maybe they thought it would be good for me to wrap around myself and attend a toga party. (which it would have been perfect for and I actually did attend a toga party in college, but just used a plain sheet. drat, a missed opportunity there!)

Sorry about the flash on the ruler. As you can see, it's a batik with a zigzaggy pattern. This is also before i acquired the huge pattern stash (see my pervious post). So with a mass of fabric, a brand new sewing machine, and a total lack of patterns, I decided to just copy a shirt i already own for the pattern shape. Side note: I was very impressed with myself when i picked out blue thread that matched almost perfectly when i was at the store and did not have the fabric with me. The bias tape which was also purchased was a pretty good match as well. So here's the shirt i traced…

I love the embroidery on it. It's from Banana Republic. I like their fit, it works for me, although this top is on the looser side. But I like looser tops with fitted bottoms (and vice versa). I laid the shirt down and traced the front and the back. Then I folded each of those in half so that they would by symmetrical if my tracing wasn't perfect. I added 5/8" for a seam allowance and cut it out on the fold. I used french seams on the sides after i saw so many blog postings of fabulous looking insides using french seams. I used bias tape for the neckband and armholes - first time and i think it turned out ok. On the bottom hem, I zigzagged the edge and then folded it up and stitched. This was before I discovered my overlock foot, which makes zigzagging the edges so much easier! Here you can see the inside seam and the bottom hem…

Here's the inside of the top so that you can see the bias tape…

Here's a close up of the neckline, right side up…

And here's the full view…

I actually did wear this to work (with a cardigan because the AC is freezing). No one said "Oh my gosh, your homemade shirt looks horrific!" So that's a plus. I also didn't bring it up, and I'm behind a computer screen all day, so… (I did wash and iron it before taking these photos.) I think it would look cute with these pair of shorts that i own…

(One day i will sew my own shorts. But not today, or tomorrow…) So there it is, my first project, a sleeveless top.  Where is the photo of me modeling it, you say? Sorry! I will do better next time! I took these photos late last night and it just didn't happen. I'll try to take a photo next time I wear it. The top could use some bust darts, but I didn't know how to do those at the time. And I omitted the shirring at the neckline that the BR top had - trying to keep it simple for a first project. 

So does it look wearable? like it? hate it? suggestions? What was the first project you did and how did it turn out? If you blogged about it, leave me a link - I'd love to check them out!

Monday, July 23, 2012

plethora o' patterns

I stalk craigslist like it's my job. i just bought a new desk for me and another one for the husband. and over the weekend i scored 3 bookcases, and then used the money i saved to buy 2 dressers from world market (again) that were more expensive. i also happened to find a posting where a lady was selling her entire pattern stash! what good fortune for me!

She even threw in the leopard tote bag for free. There are a few patterns that are too small, a few that are too big and a few that are CRAZY. I'll post some photos of the best ones later. Here's a peak inside the bag, so you can see how deep it is…

I'd love to do a pattern swap or pyramid or something if enough people wanted to participate. I also would love to pass on some of the crazy patterns that i would never attempt to sew, because i'm sure some of you would be able to transform them into something amazing! There's one that has 80's sleeves and it reminds me of the scene in Napoleon Dynamite where he's at prom… "I like your sleeves. They're real big." Can you rock big sleeves? I cannot.

So I'm excited by all of the possibilities, some of the shirt dresses look promising and timeless. It was also really neat to talk to the woman who gave away (well, sold for cheap) the patterns. (Thank you Donna-Lee!) She and her husband were selling all of their possessions to go live on a boat and just sail around. I admire their sense of adventure. I'm not that brave. Let's see if I'm brave enough to tackle some of these vintage (or not-so-vintage) patterns!

Friday, July 20, 2012

oh brother

I had the idea that i wanted to take some sewing classes last february. I called the local colleges and the art institute nearby to see if they had any classes for non-degree seeking students (i already have a BA in another field). and then in march i got engaged (YAY) and then put all of my nonexistent free time into wedding planning. and now the wedding is over, we were married in April. (and it was beautiful!) so i decided to start looking into sewing classes again. …when i was little i used to sew complete outfits (little felt shoes and hats included) for my favorite stuffed animals. i think i once cut up one of my nightgowns to use the blue floral fabric to make an outfit for my stuffed rabbit, what a great idea… 

i had been hoping for a sewing machine this past christmas or my birthday, but no luck. As a wedding gift my grandmother wrote me a check and in the space where it said "for" she wrote "sewing machine."She had also talked about it with her sister (my great aunt), who also wrote me a check as a wedding gift that said "sewing machine" under the spot that said "for." The wedding was the last time I got to see my great aunt, she passed away recently.   I followed their wishes and put the 2 checks toward buying a sewing machine. and i think it will always remind me of both of them.

Here it is! It's a Brother XR-7700. I got it on sale at costo. I think it will be a good starter. There's a photo of a dog on the right side, who came up with that idea? it says you can put a photo of something else there. it's like a little frame. kind of cheesy. i could put a little picture of tim gunn in there with a quote bubble saying "make it work." ha. did you catch last night's project runway? i did! husband said he was not going to watch this time because he did not want to get caught up in another one of my shows (so you think you can dance, etc.) he was going to sit and read. he totally watched it all. 

where was i? so i have my new sewing machine. and i bought a new desk off craigslist for it. still working on arranging the space. but here it is so far.

This is in our middle bedroom, where i also have my old computer and my elliptical and the closet is full of paint and canvases. Soon it will be full of fabric too, i'm sure. I painted the walls blue. it was dark wood paneling. heavy duty primer and 3 coats of paint did the trick. the moulding was also dark brown and i painted that white. it looks a million times better. i came across the curtains long after i had finished painting and the blue matches perfectly. they're from world market and i LOVE them.

so fun. i have my sewing machine all set up and i found a new store not to far from me that has sewing classes! yay! I've already taken one class, and now i'm in the middle of a multi-week class. it's great fun. i also love how now when my mind wanders i start thinking about sewing projects; whereas i used to just stress about work stuff. Does that happen to you?

Hope you have a great weekend and can fit in some sewing time! I'm going to try to!

Thursday, July 19, 2012


I've started this Simplicity 3799 mostly because it says "easy-to-so". This is the third project I've started since I purchased my sewing machine at the end of May. I'll go back and post on the other two later.
Simplicity 3799
I'm doing the dress and I cut a Medium. The pattern only includes M, L, XL, XXL. Maybe I should've attempted to grade it in and come up with a small size. We'll see. I'm worried it's going to end up looking like this on me:

I've sewed up the side seams and figured out how to use my overlock foot, which i used to finish the edges inside the side seams and pressed them open. I did french seams on my first project, but since this looked like I might need to take it in, I thought the french seams might be more difficult to take in? Not sure. And i'm not making a muslin. this fabric was pretty cheap, so it could be a muslin, but i don't think i'll make this again afterward because I like my dresses to have a defined waist. i guess i could belt it. i don't really wear belts much. or I could add in a waist band or something, but then it would need a zipper. right now this is a pull over style. Here's the fabric:

I've also finished the armholes. Not sure if I did it exactly right, but it works. Bias strips were made out of the fabric.

The neckband part is next, so i had to run back to the store to buy some fusible interfacing. So that will be up next. Although in the meantime I started ANOTHER project. I generally like to start something and finish it before starting something else. I never read 2 books at one time. But I will watch tv while eating dinner and also reading a magazine. Do you have more than 1 project going on?

(I've also tried to be more active in commenting on all of the blogs I read. You all have some very impressive work! Happy sewing!)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

official first post, ha

So the first post was supposed to be about the books I've been reading to get started sewing. That's right I planned out the first post, but I got a little off track. Ok so i finally visited our county library and got a library card. why did this take me so long? it's free, it's pretty convenient, they have a million books on a million topics and they are very easy going on their check-out policies. the sweet ladies at the desk said i could check out as many books as i wanted, which to me meant as many as i could carry, which turned out to be 4. i'm not very strong evidently. and you can have them for about a month and then just go online and renew them for another month (which i just did). I think they only let you renew twice before you have to go back and return them and get new ones? doesn't matter, your library probably has different policies. but, YAY for public libraries! that's right, Libraries, you just got some free advertisement. i'm pro libraries and pro bloglovin. i'm also pro these 4 books:

Sewing Techniques & Patterns by Marie-Noëlle Bayard
SewBasic from the Editors of Threads Magazine
Sewing Basics by Wendy Gardiner
The Dressmaker's Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques by Lynda Maynard

I'm also pro because adding photos was a snap. Can you read the titles and authors from those photos? Maybe i should caption them. done. you're wondering what i'm doing reading that last book as a beginner, but it had great photos and there is actually a ton of good info in there. so those were my picks. not saying you have to go out and buy those, but if they're at your local library, they're a good pick. Any must-have books on your list?

here goes…

So here goes, first post. I was searching online for some tutorials on finishing seams and found a few sewing blogs. And then a million blogs later, I realized there is quite an online sewing community. It was neat to see what people were sewing in…London…New Zealand… So many blogs. I happened upon the bloglovin website. I don't think I would've kept up with so many blogs otherwise. You enter what blogs you want to follow in the site and then the site keeps track and shows on one page when each blog has a new post. Yay, I can clear out all of those bookmarks and it saves time. So there ya go, Bloglovin, I just gave you some free advertisement.

Anyway, so I decided to start my own blog. I've blogged before in the past, somewhere in cyberspace there is a german blog i had to do in college. It's all auf deutsch. If I ever found it now I wonder if I'd understand half of what i wrote. With this blog I hope it doesn't become abandoned and lost in cyberspace. But no promises. I want to keep track of my sewing progress and hopefully gain some insights and advice from fellow bloggers along the way.

I'm going to try to just type and not go back and re-read and edit. That's difficult for me. I'm a little OCD. Ok so I may try to fix typos, but no restructuring paragraphs allowed. this is not an english paper. thank goodness. and thanks for reading.