Sunday, May 15, 2011

New Fabric, New Ideas, and stuff!!!

I’m still plodding along on the Jacket, and it looks like I should have it finished by next weekend. All going well! Thank God!! I am really starting to become fed up with this jacket… so many pieces! I’ll blog about this in another post.

In the meantime, I did a few other things to keep my spirits up. The April newsletter from Darrell Thomas mentioned a sale, so off I went and picked up a few nice fabrics that will make some great pieces for my core wardrobe. The dark fabric is actually a very dark navy wool suiting, it has gorgeous drape. There’s plenty for a good skirt here. Then there’s an off-white silk charmeuse (what can I say, it’s just Heavenly!) and a very sheer cotton (you can easily see the serged edge - for prewashing - underneath) that should make a nice basic white blouse with a silk camisole underneath of course. Finally there’s the cotton home decor seashell print that’s just fun! I thought it could make a cool shift for going to the pool/beach and hanging around in the garden with the kids this summer.

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Right after I got home, giddy with this new fabric, I got out some pieces from my little stash to start dreaming about what I could do. I put some together just to see: the fine jersey print fabric is the leftover of a Burda dress I made last summer, and is enough for a top, the dark navy is a light-weight stretch cotton sateen from C&M, which should be enough for a slim skirt, and the light beige is a stretch cotton twill from Wazoodle that I got 4 years ago in a free grab pack! I’ll make some capris with this, there’s loads.

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Then there’s this bundle! Two of the fabrics I also got in the same free grab pack from Wazoodle: the print is a cotton stretch sateen and the black is a poly stretch twill. I’ll make another jacket with the print, the same as the one I’m working on now but with 3/4 sleeves, and some capris with the black. The green and turquoise fabrics are lovely cotton double knits that I also bought from Wazoodle 4 years ago, and will make simple T-shirts or sleeveless tops, not sure yet. I thought I’d line the jacket with the white poly satin, but I’m not sure now, maybe just a partial lining.

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I also popped in to C&M Textiles to see if I could find a lining fabric for my denim jacket, and came away with a fun satin polyester in a giraffe print, brown spots on pale blue. It’s really fun, but it doesn’t go with the denim; so it’s now part of the stash.

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Two other things found their way back home with me: a Clover chalk pencil and a magnetic pin holder (in all my years sewing, I’ve never had one, and I love it!) The chalk pencil has a wheel and is so easy to use. Only thing is that the lines rub out easily, so it would be best for short-lived uses. I tried it on the denim in the pic below.

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Then I heard about Fabricland’s 50% off sale (that was a week or so ago), so I went to scope out the offerings on the day that H was over at my friend’s house for the rest of the day after Nursery school. For the first time in ages, I walked around the fabrics at the front of the store and found some really nice stuff. Talk about being pleasantly surprised! I’ll have to go back this week for some cotton/silk that is just dreamy, it’ll be wonderful for a summer tunic.

So, I went back the next day with my Mum, and got the poly/satin shown below, which has lovely blue/pink/orange colours and looks great with the blue denim of the jacket. I’ve since got the lining assembled, and should have it in the jacket by end of Wednesday. But I also ended up getting some gorgeous fabric for a skirt suit and camisole; it won’t be part of the core wardrobe, but it will be a great outfit for dressing up.

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The mauve fabric is made up of large strands of fibres, and ravels like crazy. I’ll have to sew this with fusible strips in all the seams as Sherry suggests in this post. The satin is polyester, and a bit heavier than what I would like I think, but it coordinates SO fantastically.

One last thing: I found a new fabric shop in my neighbourhood, Paula’s Sewing Basket on Bank St. near Walkley. I thought I’d seen her before and only realized where it was when I got home! Anyway, she’s got loads of beautiful stuff, and all natural fibres. I’ll be heading back her way for sure!!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Burda Jacket Update

Update on the Burda jacket I’m making in Sherry’s RTW Tailoring Sewalong: after trying it on many times, and making many adjustments, it still feels a bit too snug. I later let out the side seams and lower back seams again, then almost started to make another adjustment for narrow neck but changed my mind; anything more and it would start to really look like a Frankenstein jacket muslin!! The back and sleeves should have had the adjustments done *before* sewing the muslin…oh, well! *sigh*

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So, I started tracing out the next size up and incorporated all the adjustments I made on this muslin. I’m going to make the neck a bit narrower too, as it seems to gape at the sides and back. Then *hopefully* I’ll be able to get to cutting the fabric by mid-week. Fingers crossed!!!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Jeans are done!

Yes it’s true! I’ve finally finished the Jalie jeans I began to make in the PR Blue Print to Blue Jeans with Jennifer Stern last November. They’ve actually been sitting for the last 3 months awaiting the final touches: button & buttonhole, rivets.

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The Greist buttonholer that I got last week did a pretty good job of the buttonhole, but I had to do a bit of fiddling as it tended to jump around on the waistband and I had to rip out the first attempt (and this was after making half a dozen tests on the first/scrapped waistband). It turns out that the fabric needs to be of the same thickness on both sides of the buttonhole plate, otherwise it can’t get a firm hold.

The problem was that the waistband seam is much thicker than the top edge of the waistband. To compensate, I basted some folded denim scraps just on the top portion of the waistband to match the thickness of the waistband seam. That was better, but it still slipped a bit. Then I put strips of double-sided sticky foam tape along the top and bottom of where the buttonhole would be; this helped to literally stick the fabric to the bottom of the buttonholer, and so no more slippage. (I see now that it would have been a lot more helpful to include photos of this!)

For a first attempt, they’re wearable, but I think I’ll have to just wear them in the summer as they are a bit short!! During the muslin fittings and many adjustments, I took out quite a bit of fabric just under the butt, however I forgot to add it back to the lower leg…live and learn! LOL I’m definitely making these again, and a few more tweaks should do the trick.

Oh, here’s a close-up of the first pocket (the 2nd is a mirror image, and was a bit neater!)

Jeans back pocket

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Greist Automatic Buttonholer arrives!

It’s like Christmas!!! I had to stop myself from jumping up and down when my husband walked in the door with the mail; on top of the pile was a small brown paper parcel, roughly assembled, but intact. My Greist buttonholer, all the way from the UK!

While sewing my jeans last November/December in Jennifer Stern’s Blue Jeans class on PR (by the way it’s on again now, starting this week) I thought it would be nice to make a keyhole buttonhole on them, but my Bernina 910 only has the plain 5 step buttonholer. One day, as I was perusing on PR, I stumbled upon a blog post that was all about automatic buttonhole attachments. Eventually I began to search on eBay, OK it was about a month ago, and found a style #1 Greist (apparently this style/model is compatible with most imported sewing machines, like Bernina) in the UK starting at BP 2.99. What a bargain, I thought, so why is nobody else bidding on this? Maybe the shipping costs, but who cares! It was the only one of this particular style at the time.

At first I was a little hesitant because it didn’t include the instruction manual, but I needn't have worried as after just a little searching online I found this page for Greist buttonhole attachment instructions.

This is it, as it came in the box (left) and once I’d dismantled it (right):

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It wouldn’t work at first, totally seized up. Of course I only discovered that after I’d attached it to my machine, and had to remove the plastic cover; I remembered another Bernina user had the same problem.

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There was one part in particular that would not budge at all. In the pic below, the arm by the red arrow wouldn’t move and so it couldn’t turn the ratcheted wheel to its right, which moves the adjustment lever positioned in the cam…it’s easier to see it than explain it! And there was a lot of white flaky stuff around many parts, which I guessed must be just old oil/grease and decades of dust. A lot of little oil over every part I could imagine that might move (the instructions in the link above include how/where to do this), and it started to shift again.

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The instruction page at the link above mentions that you don’t really need to put the Greist cover plate on, and in fact it doesn’t even fit on the Bernina. As long as the feed-dogs are lowered it’s fine. This is the first test run, front and back, and I’m really happy with it so far:

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As I was doing all this I watched Brian’s videos Exploring Buttonhole attachments, which are great. It sure is a lot faster if you can see something in action. In his part 1 video he mentions that the Greist was available with 5, 7 or 9 cams, but mine only came with 4, the smallest is missing I suppose. I wonder if cams in different sizes from other models are interchangeable?

Now I might just finish my jeans before making the alterations on my first muslin in Sherry’s RTW Tailoring Sewalong. They’ve been waiting a long time.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Getting into sewing mode…

Having a definite plan sure got me moving! My sewing room hadn’t seen much action since my jeans, which should be complete in the near future when my eBay purchase arrives – more on that in a bit. In the meantime, things sort of got left there, on the table, the ironing board, and before I knew it there was no room to do anything.

So, one night after I decided on the RTW Tailoring Sewalong, I dived right in, in my usual kamikaze way, and spent several hours decluttering and reorganizing the sewing room. The layout is working so much better now, and placing the ironing board right beside the sewing machines makes so much sense (I read that tip somewhere, don’t remember where though.)


It’s still a little bit cramped, but it’s really workable. Eventually I’ll put in a clothes rod (in a little nook that’s not visible in the photos) to hang up all the UFOs ongoing projects. The peg board has been in my sewing room for over a year, but I’ve not figured out how to really use it yet, I guess I’ll just have to start! But one day I will do the ultimate: build a work table with storage underneath. That would be absolutely fantastic!!!

And now I’m ready to get cracking on my jacket! I changed my mind on the patterns, I’ve decided on Burda 02/2011 #109, but without the ribbon edging.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Jackets for the RTW Sewalong

I’ve been poring over the pattern collections to find a classic jacket, and narrowed it down to these 4:

McCall's 6172

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Vogue 8333

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Jalie 2559

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Burda 04/2010 #126

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I ended up buying the McCall’s pattern this week as Fabricland are having a sale on their patterns, 2 for $7.00. Wow! I also got the pattern that I want to make the classic white blouse from, McCall’s 5433.

The McCall’s would be good, I think, as it’s a Palmer/Pletsch pattern and it got good reviews on PR. The Vogue looks beautiful, but I feel a little intimidated by it. The Jalie looks nice too, I might make that one day too. I like the simple lines of the Burda, but the sleeve caps look weird; one PR reviewer said she used the sleeve pattern from another jacket so it sits on the shoulder instead of sticking out.

I’ll have to make up my mind fast and get a muslin started. My jeans muslin took about 2-3 weeks to get sorted out, and the jacket will probably take as long if I’m not on the ball.

When I popped into Darrell Thomas’ to get my March Burda I took a quick look at the wools they had. Oh my, I’m not sure if I can justify $50-$60/m, but it’s so nice. I looked at the cottons too, but there’s not much choice. I’ll have to scout out some more shops, but Ottawa is pretty lean when it comes to good fabric shops!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Busy but quiet!

I'm back! It's been quiet for a while on the blog, but I have been doing some sewing. Last November I started the Jeans class on PR with Jennifer Sterns, and it was fantastic. I managed to get the jeans finished up to the point of the buttonhole, but my sewing machine doesn't do keyhole buttonholes. Then one day while reading on PR I read about Greist buttonholers and started searching on eBay this weekend to see if I can get one.
That last top I made is still on a hanger, and it'll probably stay there forever for a while. I'm not super happy with it (yep, it's the fabric!), and need something else to inspire me. The recent Burda Style magazines haven't lifted my mood much either, and the last Burda turtlenecks I made now seem a bit droopier than I want (again, the fabric choice probably wasn't the best).
Lately, the idea of going back to work is beginning to take shape. When our 2nd son was born almost 4 years ago I said that I would like to go back to work when he starts school, but I'd rather do something part-time; unfortunately I'm not sure how many part-time jobs exist in software development! I'd love to work again for my last employer but they were hit hard by the recession and are still quite a ways from having enough work for me. And then it dawned on me that I'll have to start all over again...I'd have to totally revamp my resume, research companies and jobs and do interviews again. Not my favourite thing, as I was fortunate enough to have landed my last 5 jobs through referrals.

With all this on my mind, I realized that I will need new work clothes, and specifically something to wear to an interview! Then it clicked, the main reason I’ve been in the doldrums is that I didn’t have a plan. So, I searched the book store and found a book, Fashion for Dummies, then hit the library and got out a bunch of books on the same topic, primarily putting together a core/basic wardrobe. The skirt pattern in the Feb Burda looks promising, #107.


Then I read Sherry's blog and her new RTW Tailoring Sewalong couldn't have been better timed! I just need to decide on the pattern and get the muslin started. I'm not worried about the fabric, I'll find something for sure at Darrell Thomas or C&M. This is just what I needed, I'm feeling inspired, and best of all I've got a plan started for making the core wardrobe that will keep me busy and focussed for a couple of months. All my ideas are going in an Office OneNote document, it's such a neat tool for saving all kinds of things: thoughts, links and pics.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Burda 08-2009-114 Top, or just a muslin!

Back in October I made this top…or rather a muslin for the top. It’s a pretty simple top, a nice variation on the standard T-shirt, with raglan sleeves and an invisible back zipper.


I wore it once, but I kept tugging up at the shoulders to adjust the front so I hung it back up in my sewing room! Even though I had to make some large alterations for my petite frame and forward neck tilt, it still needs some tweaks.

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On the left, as it is right now. The front piece is lined, as per the pattern, but it’s too heavy. On the right, I’ve pinched out a good inch at the neck line on each sleeve seam, which brings the front up. Better.

But now that I look at the picture, the pattern seems a bit…busy!! When I bought the fabric I wasn’t totally sure about it. The large circles didn’t seem that bad when I was cutting out the fabric! When my Mum saw it hanging up last week she said “You’re not going to wear that are you?” !!! Hmm, maybe not. Anyone else have any opinions?