Friday, May 27, 2016

Sewing Updates

Hi!  As an intro to this post on my sewing goings on, I thought I'd throw in this one of me a few days ago.  I was having a good hair day.  I thought it would also make it a bit more personal, as I know some of my new quilting friends are reading my sewing blog for the first time.  :)
 I feel like I have a half dozen projects on the go right now.  But really, I only have four.  This is one of them.  I signed up for the McCall's Shirtdress Sew-a-long because this particular pattern has been on my wish list for quite a while, and I thought it would be fun to follow along.  As of right now, I'm lagging behind a bit, because I got distracted by something new and shiny.  LOL.  But I have my paper pattern pieces cut out, and that's the first step.  Soon, I will do a muslin and check for fit.
 The fun thing about this is, that with the shirtdress sewalong, and my new quilt group that I've joined (more on that shortly), I am now part of two private Facebook groups.  I gotta say, it has made Facebook fun again!  The top of my newsfeed is now full of fun sewing stuff, and I've been commenting and posting on both sites.
 Which brings me to the bright and shiny distraction from my shirtdress.  I have been following Love Shack Quilts for a few weeks now, since I was introduced to it by one of my new quilting friends I made at the quilting retreat in February.  She was telling me about these mystery quilt projects that she got through this private Facebook group, and you didn't know what your quilt would look like at the end, and you learned new and exciting things about quilting, like random colours and values and neat quilting tricks.  
 So, I caved in and joined.  The private group is Prairie Quilt Militia, and one of the projects that caught my attention on their roster was the Ugly Duckling quilt.  The idea is to dig out all the weird, ugly, mismatched, and otherwise 'what do I do with this?' fabrics and put them all together to make something unique and wonderful.  I knew I had a crapload of weird things in my stash, but as I started pulling out fabrics, I was pleasantly surprised at how much funky bright stuff I had, and it soon became apparent that my Ugly Duckling quilt would be really fun and bright and funky.  These 3 photos show all the fabrics I picked out.
 I bought this orange camouflage a year or two ago, with intentions of using it for the back of a quilt.  It absolutely suits this quilt.  I am a sucker for camo, and this is one of many different camo fabrics that I've hoarded collected over the years.  It's not quite big enough to cover the whole back of the quilt (which will be 96"x96" when finished), but I will creatively piece it with something equally funky until it's big enough.
 This was my original inspiration for the entire lineup of Ugly Duckling fabrics that I chose.  I bought 2 metres of this a long time ago, and I think I intended to make a shirt out of it, but I never really felt like that was the right choice.  So, Ugly Duckling, here I come!  The instructions say you need about 2 metres of fabric for the border and the binding, and I have no idea what that will look like, but I hope that this works.
 So, I eagerly started cutting pieces for Step 1.
 I did, however, decide to buy fabric for my background fabric, in a dark colour, to make all these brights just pop.  So, I cut out all the pieces I could, and waited for my chance to go fabric shopping.
Squirell!  I mean, another distraction!  My first attempt to find said fabric was at Fabricland, and I went into the store knowing full well that I probably wouldn't find what I was looking for, especially since I would need 7 metres.  So, instead, I got a pattern on sale that was on my wish list, and I got some turquoise plaid flannel for a new pair of jammy pants for yours truly.  :)
 The next day, I finally got my chance.  I went to Quiltessential in St. Albert, and looked for my background fabric.  I originally had the idea of a black background, to offset the bright colours.  And I was later inspired to find a black on black, because I liked the idea of texture.  I kinda had the image in my head of what I wanted.  And I found it, but it wasn't black.  This fabric is steel blue.  It has an amazing texture.  
 This is what it looks like beside my brights.  It's quite dark.  I really love it.  And the more I look at it, the more I see that it has a denim vibe to it, which is totally appropriate because denim + bright colours = totally me.  It's even better than black, and isn't that the way things are supposed to work out?  Better in the end?
 While I was there, I found a seam gauge, because in the instructions, Sharon stresses the importance of a perfect scant 1/4" seam, so that all the pieces fit properly together, especially the log cabin blocks.
 When I got my fabric home, I diligently pre washed it in hot water, threw it in the dryer, and then pressed it all and rolled in onto a bolt.  In the meantime, while I patiently waited, I made a couple of pinwheel blocks to test out my skill with triangles.  This quilt is my first time working with triangles.  My first attempt was made with thin broadcloth, and I was really happy with how sharp my points turned out, but I stretched my squares out of shape, and they didn't lay flat.
I made my second block out of higher quality quilting cottons, and was more careful.  I paid close attention to which edge of the triangle was bias, and I finger pressed the seam flat, and then carefully pressed.  It turned out much better.  And, I am so inspired by that sewing fabric (which I have a few metres of) that I might just make myself a pinwheel quilt with the sewing fabric as the white, and use a bunch of bright colours.  But, that's for another day.  Inspiration never quits, does it?
 Anyways, the conclusion of my story is that I finally got my background pieces cut out, and assembled the Step 1 blocks.  I finished them this afternoon.  Aren't they cute?
 I sewed them together entirely randomly, and I love the unexpected combinations.
 I am so thrilled with how this looks so far, and I can't wait to jump into Step 2!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

McCall's 4659 - V-neck sleeveless top with asymmetrical ruffle

I'm on a roll, people!  This is my second garment in as many weeks.  I'm really hoping this roll keeps rolling.  It's starting to be fun again!  

My serger is in the hospital, so I've been trying to think of projects I can make with wovens, specifically tops, because if I make pants or skirts, I would really like to have my serger.

I dug out this old pattern.  I feel like it's from the 90's, but alas, it's merely from 2004.  Still, it's rocking that ruffles/roses vibe that we had going on back then with all the long full skirts and slouchy hats.
 I decided to make view A, without the lace.  When I make stuff with girly details, I like to use only one of those details, so I don't get overwhelmed by frou frou.  Fluffy girly stuff isn't really my style, but I've been stepping outside the box lately, so this kinda fits it with that.
 I checked the finished garment measurements, and it looked like it would fit me perfectly across the bust.  I measured from the shoulder to the bust point, and decided to add an inch of length to the top of the shoulder seams.  Turns out I didn't need to.  It fit perfectly.  But it's always easier to make it longer to start with and then take it in if needed.
 I made my muslin in a very drapey stretch cotton from the depths of my stash.  This stuff has been around, let me tell you.  We pinned this to an ironing board at one time, and it had stains and burn marks on it.  I just cut around it.
 The front piece, especially, fit really well.  The bust darts and armhole shaping are perfect.  But in this fabric, I thought the neckline was rather gaping, so I adjusted it.  In my final fabric, it would have been fine.  Funny how every fabric is different.
 The back was a little more challenging.  I didn't like the way the shoulders were falling off, so I opted to draft a regular neckline.  I also took out a 1" swayback tuck and added a centre back seam.  And, you can't tell by these pictures because I only have it pinned on the side with one pin, but when I had it pinned all the way up, I could tell that I needed to let out about 3" at my muffin top area, which sat right below the bottom seam of the bust darts.
 This is the adjustment I made to the neckline.  It would have been fine the way it was.
 So, technically, aside from this little adjustment on the lower side seam of my front piece, the entire front was perfect right out of the envelope.
 These are the changes I made to the back.  Swayback tuck, let out side seam, add centre back seam, draft regular neckline.
This was the fabric I chose.  The yellow is very bright.  I bought this years ago hoping to make a cute A-line skirt out of it, but I wasn't really feeling it.  This isn't really my kind of print either, so again, I'm stepping out of the box.  But I knew it was a lovely drapey fabric, and I had just enough.
 It was just a tiny bit short, so I wasn't able to lay my fabric out like they suggested; I had to do the whole thing in one layer.  Which totally worked, cuz I'm a puzzle master.  But that's the second project in a row that I've cut in a single layer.  Next time, I'm hoping for normal double folded fabric!
I had to decide how to finish my seams.  This wasn't like the cotton I worked with last time, and I had a lot of flounces sewn to the bottom, and I wanted them to be pressed down.  So, I figured out how to do a serger copycat by trimming my seams to about 1/4" and then zigzagging them.  Worked like a hot damn, except I really miss how the serger cuts off all the pesky little threads.  Sigh.  First world problems.
I tried it on as soon as I had the side seams and the shoulders sewn to check for fit.  Perfection!
 I have maybe an inch or so of ease around my muffin top/waist area, and it's the perfect amount to skim over and hang really nice.  And I use the term muffin top with utmost affection.  I have no issues with my body, and now that I'm a full size 18, my patterns are fitting me wonderfully.  It's hard to describe.  With 16's, I fiddled a lot more with length in the shoulder/bust area.  Now everything seems to sit right where it should.  
 I put in a centred zipper at the back instead of the side seam zipper they suggested.  I will avoid side seam zippers at all costs.  This is way more comfy.  Plus, I had a perfect black zipper in my massive zipper stash.  Yay!
 The back, which I sorta feel is like a reverse mullet, is a little bit short.  Yes, I shortened it by 1" from the swayback tuck, but the waist seam is sitting perfectly straight on me.  And the swayback tuck turned out perfect, by the way.  I love it!  Anyways, next time I make this, I will add 2" to the back flounce, and taper it to the side seams, and then it hopefully won't look like it's scooping up.
 After another couple hours of finishing the neckline, armholes, and hem, it's done!  Isn't it pretty on the hanger?
I did the neckline with the bias binding they suggested.  The front is sewn in a V before you attach it, and it worked really well.  The only problem I had was that in some spots, I had less than 1/4" left to stitch down, and it was tricky.  Next time I will sew it in a 1/2" seam allowance so that I have more like 3/8" to turn and stitch down.  Otherwise it is perfect; it sits really nice.  But in this picture you can see that the original neckline would look more proportional.  This one seems a bit small now.  Oh well.  Live and learn!  They design them like that for a reason, and I'm slowly learning to trust that.
At the last minute, I decided I didn't want to bother sewing the bias binding to the armholes.  It adds at least 4 extra layers of fabric.  So, I stitched at 5/8" all the way around, trimmed to 1/4", zigzagged, and then turned it under and topstitched.  Worked wonderfully.  
I'm so pleased with how well the bust and armholes sit.  No wrinkling or anything weird happening.  That's a big success in my books.  I finished the hem of the flounce with a rolled hem.  I do mine the way they taught me in college.  Stitch at 1/2", turn on that line and stitch at 1/8", then trim that really close, and then turn that and stitch it all down.  Takes time, but it's always accurate, and always looks nice.
This thing is so comfy to wear!  It's 100% polyester, but I'm okay with that because it doesn't have sleeves.  It feels really breezy.

And of course, I had to thrown in a sassy pose, just for fun.
The armholes at the back look a little wide, but I'm really happy with them just the way they are.  I'm always tempted to change things and make them 'my way'.  Sometimes it's pleasantly surprising to just trust the pattern and go with it.  
I love how the back fits.  The centre back seam is a straight line, except for the 1" swayback tuck, which gives it just a tiny bit of curve.  With 2" added to the flounce next time, it will be perfect.
I had to do a swirly skirt photo.  I took advantage of the 10 frames my iPhone shoots when you do a selfie with the timer.  This was the neatest picture.  It really shows off how drapey this fabric is.  I love this top!  I'm thrilled with how well it fits.  
Project by project, my mojo is being restored to its former levels.  It's interesting how long it's taking me to look at sewing as a fun hobby and not as work.  I'm still leaning heavily on the work side, but every time I finish something, I get more and more of that spark back.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Sewing Room Revamp - The Beginnings of Change

My sewing room has been the same for the past 7 years.  Wow.  No wonder I need a change!
I threw this one in because it was among a bunch of selfies that I took while procrastinating from doing actual work, and I thought it was cute.  I had a blast going back through all my photos to pick things for this post.
I love this zigzag ironing board cover.  I found it at Winners.  And by the looks of this, at one time, I managed to get a decent chunk of my fabric stash neatly stacked in this shelf.  It didn't stay that nice for long, let me tell you.
This is another part of my stash, and has been my arch nemesis for far too long.
These shots are from 2011, and things have not improved much, until the past few months when I finally started decluttering.
Can you even see my serger?  LOL
And this little pile of goodies eventually morphed so badly that they squeezed the ironing board out of its spot and it had to get set up in the bathroom.
Looks familiar.  In almost every shot of my sewing room, I see this.
And, just for fun, one terrifying glimpse into the closet of shame.  I will get to this eventually.
Last June, I decluttered my desks, and they actually looked pretty good, and maintained this look fairly well for the past year.  But don't look under the desk!
Here are a couple of pairs of jammy pants I was sewing before Christmas.  It shows the pile in the corner.  See, I bought a whole bunch of clear boxes to fit into my IKEA shelf, and I fit almost my whole fabric stash into them, but then I had no room to put them, so they've been sitting like that for several months.
And, to lighten the mood, a couple of gratuitous cat photos.  This is Lucky.
He's been around for 5 years or so, and he's really fun to have around.  Not quite as snuggly as Digit, but he's very entertaining.
Here is me back in February, and you can see behind me that the pile just keeps growing, up and out.  Something must be done!
So, the time has come to start the revamp project.  First step, remove the giant Expedit desk.  This involved a whole lotta decluttering to get to this point.
I got to use my new drill.  I love power tools.  Several years of upholstery will do that to a girl.  :)
The first thing I did was to build my new shelf to put on top of my existing shelf, to give me 8 cubes of new space.
 Then I built my new sewing desk.  
 It succinctly holds two machines, and there's lots of storage in the drawers.  When I finish rearranging the room, this desk will go right in front of the window.  I can't wait!
Shelf revamp: Before.
 Shelf revamp: After.  There is still a bit more fiddling to do.  There are two more clear boxes to put in the second to bottom shelf (and the stuff in the shelves all has to go somewhere else), and I have some new containers to organize some of my crap up in the top two shelves.
And look!  The corner is bare!
 But look over here!  There's still a whole crapload of stuff that just got displaced.  Ah, decluttering.  So much fun.
 See, my shelf isn't as organized as it used to be many moons ago.  But I cleaned it up a fair bit since I took this photo.
 Another kitty picture to lighten the mood!  Decluttering sucks!  Haha.
 One of my favourite features of my sewing room is the evening sun.  It is so pretty in here after supper.  And it's looking rather tidy in here!  There is no junk piled up on the bed.
My latest sewing project.  And showing how little things creep into all the nooks and crannies.  They're like gremlins!
This is what my corner looks like today.  My goal is to get rid of all this stuff somehow (including the bookshelf), because I need this space to be completely empty so I can rearrange the room and finally get the table into an empty spot, not right in front of the bed, in the middle of the room, blocking the bathroom door.
Speaking of the table in the middle of the room, here is another huge accomplishment!  I emptied all 6 of these tubs, and had a brainwave to fill them with specific categories of fabric.  Yeah, and here I thought I could get my entire stash into the IKEA shelf and not have to have bins under the table.  Bahahaha.  Nope.  I guess I've got a lot of sewing to do!  Anyways, now that these are organized, it looks pretty decent.  This task alone probably took somewhere between 3 and 5 hours over two days.  I should get a gold star just for this.
So, all that finagling was a big pain the butt, and now I am taking a break, and hoping that my revamping mojo comes back soon so that I can tackle the crap in the corner, probably tackle the closet of shame, cuz I'm gonna need to use a lot of that space, and then I can finally rearrange the room.  It's going to be amazing.  I'm even getting a peg board, and I have dreams of building a quilt board for one of the walls.  But I'm super excited to finally get this far.  It's been a long time coming, and it feels really good.