Monday, February 27, 2012

Sweet as Honey Pedicure Socks Reveal!

This week I'm in Los Angeles for work. I arrived this afternoon. And I was walking around - I know, I know, no one walks in LA, it really is true, but there I was - and I passed a yarn shop not too far from my hotel.

Sorry about the glare!

And I realized that all this time I've been knitting socks and scarves, I could have been knitting lingerie for myself! LOL But since those patterns aren't on their website, I guess I'll just have to content myself with socks.

Here is my latest pair! Ta-da!

Sweet As Honey Pedi-socks on ugly as sin runners feet
I had originally started a sock pattern called "Spiral Galaxy", but it was kind of boring to knit and I didn't love how it looked, at least not in my orange yarn.

So, keeping the same cute ruffle cuff, I ripped the rest of the stitches out and did a pattern called "Buzz" instead. It's a cute honeycomb kind of pattern. Sweet, don't you think?  And I finished the sock off with a "pedicure toe". Basically this is just a ribbed knit cuff that allows your toes to peek out.

I did what is called a short row heel (not sure why). It came out ok, but not perfect. The stitches are a little loose and I'm not sure how to tighten them up for next time.

Anyway, I'm away from my sewing machine while traveling for work and trying to fill my spare time with more knitting. So, expect my next pair of socks - a pretty purple number - in the not-too-distant future.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Leather Jacket: My Next Big Project!

For those of you who enjoyed following me through my Lady Grey Coat sewing last winter, my garden party dress in the spring, and my Red Project Dress in the late summer, you'll be happy to know that my next big project is about to take off. For those of you who I bored to tears with multiple muslins, tips and tutorials that I found useful during fitting and sewing, and thoughts on the gadgets that came in handy, well, I guess I'll see you in a month or so for the final reveal. hee hee

So, I've decided the time is right for the leather jacket that I first mentioned in January. Loads of other sewists have been doing great projects with leather or faux leather recently. And, ever since I received the July 2010 edition of BurdaStyle, I've had a crush on this jacket.

BurdaStyle 07/2010 -#118

Does that happen to you? You find yourself returning to a certain pattern in your mind, or flipping to the directions every so often just to peruse them? Or am I weird that way? Anyway, I've had this pattern on the brain for a while. I think the style is pretty unique and eye catching. And, well, we all know how I like that kind of thing.

There is a second variation on this jacket - #119  - that Burda sewed up in a navy blue wool.

BurdaStyle 07/2010 #119

I plan to do a bit of a mash up of the two patterns - the collar of #119 (ie: one piece lapel rather than pieced), the zipper closure and non-cuffed sleeves from #118, and I'm on the fence about the peplum.

At this point, muslin 1.0 is cut, but not yet marked or sewn. I'm using up some of the ugliest denim known to man for this muslin. Seriously, the right side is dark green camo with pink and turquoise roses strewn about for good measure. I'm using the plain brown wrong side. I bought it to use as muslin for jeans, but then I found RTW jeans that fit really well. So it's been an eyesore in my stash for about 2 years. My goal for muslin 1.0 is simply to work out any fitting issues and see if I prefer the peplum or the straight back.

Fugly, no?

Here's what I'm doing/pondering so far:
  • Which sewing machine to use - my Viking (I have a handy rolling foot for sticky fabrics) vs my granny's old workhorse (better on bulk)? I may end up sewing on the Viking and top stitching on granny's. Only testing will tell. 
  • Reading up on good tips for sewing on leather - Lindsay T, Gorgeous Ann, the Sewing Lawyer and Kbenco have all done great posts on working with leather or leather jackets specifically. If you've got any tips or suggestions for further research, please suggest!
  • Whether to use all leather, or make the jacket leather on the front, but a sturdy double knit in the back. This would keep costs down and may make fitting a bit easier and more forgiving.
  • Zippers - I'm wondering if I can forgo the sleeve zippers. I think the jacket might be a bit more sleek without them.  

Have you sewn on  leather or another tricky fabric? Feel free to share!  And stay tuned since this is likely to be just the first of several posts about this project! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

PR Weekend in my Hometown!

It seems like I'm out of town every time there are other sewists visiting NYC.  But not this time! Not only is PR weekend in my hometown (yay New York!), but it's also on a weekend that I can make (double yay!)!  I've already registered.

Now, I just have to plan what to wear. (Seriously, I'm already having fits of angst about it. And May can really go either way in NY - it could be deliciously summery or cold and damp.)

I hope to meet some of you there! Holler if you're in! I shall grill you about what you plan to wear at a later date. ;-)

Deets are here if you didn't get the email.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cute Purse from Left Over Scraps!

First, thank you everyone for the compliments on my color blocked dress! For some reason, I've always liked a green and purple color combo. So, it was fun to put them together in one dress.

So, today's news! When I finished up the diaper bag for my excellent friend, Dr Kiang, I was left with a whole bunch of scraps of ripstop that I really didn't want. And as I thought back to my sister Calliope's diaper bag carrying days, I remembered that she was always either trying to deal with carrying a diaper bag plus a purse OR digging through the depths of her diaper bag to try to find her wallet, keys, lipstick, etc.

So, I had a little brainstorm: why not make a cute matching clutch purse that can be clipped into the diaper bag or carried separately?

Enter Vogue 8527, which is now on clearance at the Vogue website. I picked version D and it sewed up pretty quickly and easily. The only change I madewas to add a tab with a D ring on it so that it could be clipped into the diaper bag.

There's not much to add other than I think it's a cute little bag that's large enough for the essentials.

This weekend I'm visiting with Dr K to deliver the bag and meet her new little guy for the first time. (Yay!  Auntie Clio gets some baby time!) Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Color Block Dress Reveal!

Ta-da! Version #2 of the Burda Cover Dress! This time color blocked.

The only fitting change from the first version is that I made the front collar slightly narrower. Oh! And also, I figured out how the sleeves were supposed to be attached. Or at least I figured out a better way of attaching them. Whether it was how Burda intended, I have no idea. Either way, this version is much less messy on the inside.

For some reason, Phin thinks the way the color blocking looks on the back is very cool. The bright colors and color blocking trends seem to be going strong, so I'm probably going to wear this dress a whole lot this spring. In fact, I'm wearing it today for a post-V-day dinner out with Phin.

Oh, and by the way, this double knit feels really nice to wear! And it sewed up beautifully. Thanks to Faye for singing it's praises!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Update: Not One, But Two Great V-Day Sewing Deals!

It's a very sweet day to be a sewist!

Just to sweeten up your Valentine's Day, first M&J Trimming in NY's Garment District is offering a $30-worth-of-trimming-for-$15 deal over at Living Social (a Groupon competitor). You know I bought one!

Just click here if you want to do the same! The deal runs for 2 more days. It doesn't seem to specify whether or not you can use it on-line, so buyer beware.

Next, Mood is offering 15% off fashion fabrics today and tomorrow when you shop on-line! Just use the coupon code: V-Day2012.

Wishing you all sequin-studded, be-ribboned and feather-fringed love this Valentine's Day! It may be a Hallmark holiday, but is there really ever a bad time for letting the people in your life know how loved and appreciated they are?  I think not. My fantastic Phin is making cassoulet for dinner and I'll be serving up fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies for dessert.  I hope your plans are equally gooey!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Inner Workings: Interfacing

noun \-ˌfā-siŋ\
fabric sewn between the facing and the outside of a garment (as in a collar or cuff) for stiffening and shape retention

You've probably noticed that I've been giving a lot of thought to the underpinnings of my sewing lately - the hardware and unseen inner workings of things.

Back in August when I was struggling to insert the zipper in my jumpsuit, someone suggested that I interface the zipper area. I did, and the zipper went in like a dream. This is now my standard operating procedure. Around that same point in time, I came across this post at Fashion Incubator. The gist is that home sewists don't utilize interfacing in their garments nearly enough. It changed my thinking on interfacing entirely.

Upper back piece of my color block dress, interfaced at the shoulders and sleeve seam.

Earlier in my sewing life, I interfaced only when and where a pattern called for it. And my earlier experiences were not very positive. I didn't know the benefits of interfacing or what good interfacing was. Needless to say  I had trouble fusing and working with the cheap stuff that was sold to me at the local craft store, and the results were not good.

But, the first time I used really nice quality interfacing, the difference was marked and I was sold. Good quality interfacing fuses smoothly and quickly (none of this holding the iron on it for 10-20 seconds nonsense that can leave you with scorched fabric), doesn't distort the fabric or drape, and adds strength and stability to the garment. For me, good interfacing is worth the extra money. I've also come to appreciate how much interfacing makes things like zipper insertion easier, how it extends the life of a garment at the areas that tend to wear, like hems, buttonholes, zippers, hooks-and-eyes, etc. I also like how it can keep a knit garment from stretching and distorting over time, particularly at the neckline.

So, I finished sewing up my second version of the Burda Cover Dress last night (reveal of this color-blocked dress on Thurday). I used two different interfacings - weft strips for the shoulders and where the sleeves would attached (ie: where the garment should not stretch) and tricot for the facings, for the sleeve bands and at the hem.

Re-doing the hem of version 1

I was so pleased with how the hem came out - how stable and basically invisible it was that I ripped out the hem of my first version of the dress, which I had been unhappy with. I interfaced it and re-sewed it by hand last night. It's so much better now!  Much less visible.

Anyway, are you a fan of interfacing or do you use it only as a pattern calls for it? Do you have a preferred brand or supplier?  What are your thoughts?

Update: After puu's comment - feel free to weigh in on sew-in interfacing and organza used as underlining or interfacing. I used organza as a sew-in underling for the fabulous red dress I finished in September. And for a fancy dress I think it is the way to go. I loved it.  And I've also used sew-in interfacing. Sew in hair canvas was fantastic for interfacing my Lady Grey coat, but I tend to have a rough time with the sew-in stuff in general because it tends to shift while you machine baste it in and I don't always have time for hand basting.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

(Too Cool to Be a) Diaper Bag Reveal

Admit it: if I didn't tell you that this was a diaper bag, you'd never know. Right?

This is my third version of Butterick 4560 (version 1 here and 2 here). The good thing about this bag is that it has loads of pockets both inside and out; the annoying thing about this bag is how many pockets you have to sew.  ha ha ha 

The last time I made this bag was 2+ years ago, and my skills have come a long way since. So, the real adventure with this version was working with ripstop, particularly with quilted ripstop. I had to seal the cut edges of the ripstop, which is not aptly named, with a flame so that it wouldn't ravel. This pretty much rules out trimming seam allowances once they are sewn. The quilted layer of ripstop and the layer of hair canvas I used to make the bag extra sturdy made for a lot of bulk at the seams which I couldn't trim and could only lightly press with a cool iron. Plus, sewing so many layers of bulk was a challenge for my sewing machine; I got a scary message saying "main motor overload" at a few points. But thanks to my rolling foot and a few different needles, sewing went pretty smoothly overall.

Bag with matching changing pad.

As I mentioned earlier, I've come around to using a lot more hardware in my sewing. I definitely think it makes a better, more durable and functional bag. At the very least, this bag has an adjustable strap, unlike the pattern. The way I figured out how to construct the strap using webbing, D-rings, swivel clasps and a slider was to look at a RTW laptop bag that I own. And a little experimentation. 

The only other construction note is that to get a sturdy, but flexible, bottom, I sandwiched 3 layers of artist's plastic canvas between the shell and lining.  This gives some stability to the bottom of the bag without making it rigid.

I couldn't resist taking a few "action shots" of the bag and changing pad with my Cabbage Patch Preemie, Burt Adan, as a model.

Phin prevailed on me to delete the nudie shots of Burt being changed. he he he

Here you can see the magenta insides of the bag and the magnetic snaps on the front.

Really, it was fun to put so much hardware to use. I hope my friend loves her bag and feels like the hip, urban mom she is when she uses it!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Technology Part 2 and a Few Sew-y Things

First, a big thanks to all of you who chimed in on Friday's technology post. It seems like, to a greater or lesser degree we're all in the same boat. So, here's my take on things.

Well, I decided to put my tax return toward a few upgrades. My phone and camera were nearing the ends of their lifespans; both have been repaired more than once. So, I'm now the owner of a very clever phone. Really, this makes a lot of sense given how much I travel for work. I'll be able to get email on the go and also blog from the road. And if yesterday's post is any indication, it takes very not bad pictures! That said, I'll be replacing my camera, too. Phin has narrowed it down to 2 or 3 choices and will be buying shortly.

Sigh. I am not a Mac user, and there are days when I feel like Apple has all the cool toys (Skitch, GIMP...). My next computer will be a Mac. But for now I'm going to have to figure out which photo editor I want to use and also sort out my Flickr situation. I'll let you know how it goes with the photo editors. Once I 1-have a new camera and 2-figure out what photo editor to use, I'll try to add a pretty banner to my blog.

That www thing 
PR vs BS - Sometimes it's nice to know that we agree, in general.  It seems like we all think PatternReview is a great resource. I visit PR whenever I'm planning a project and want to get the low-down on a pattern I'm considering. We also seem to agree on BurdaStyle being, um, frustrating. Honestly, the two things that really kill me are that people don't say what pattern they used and that people sell clothing. In both cases, I find myself clicking on a project to see what pattern was used only to get either no answer or learn that it's basically an advertisement for their clothing/sewing business. Moving forward I think I'll only add Burda projects there, and mostly stick with PR. 

Pinterest. Ah, Pinterest. We're all addicted, it seems. Here's where you can find me:

Tumblr. Some of us thought we needed it, but no one seems to know why. Nuf said. LOL

And some Sew-y tThings
Did anyone else catch that McCall's has acquired KwikSew Patterns? You can now buy KS patterns on the BMV website. I haven't really used very many KS patterns so don't really have an opinion, although my very first garment - an elastic waist a-line skirt - was KwikSew.   Do you have any thoughts or experience with KS patterns?

Also, I wanted to sing the praises of Fashion Sewing Supply. After reading the tip that Pam posted on her blog about using fusible weft interfacing as stay tape, I decided to give it a try.  So, I ordered a bunch of weft which arrived on Friday.  Not only does the tip work out beautifully and easily, but in my order there was a note saying that, since the interfacing would be going on sale soon, they had cut my order extra generously. How's that for customer service?

OK, I'm done with the housekeeping posts. Next up will be the finished diaper bag reveal, my colorblock dress and new knit socks! Stay tuned!

(PS - Update at 4:25pm - Would you believe that about 30 minutes after posting this, my computer was infected with something called a blaster worm? Technology. Sheesh. Clearly my desk ninja did not do his job.)

Monday, February 6, 2012

My new phone might be smarter than me...

And it's got a camera. And a Blogger App.

Ninjas guard my desk

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Technology and It's Discontents: Sewing, Blogging and Life with a StupidPhone

I am not a technology person by nature. I'm not an early adopter. I like to repair things, rather than upgrading or replacing them. My phone is not "smart" in any way. In fact, it's rather stupid. I like the natural order of things in which I'm the smart one in the relationship. 

My phone has a low IQ

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't hate technology. I love Kermit (my little green ipod), my noise cancellation earbuds, and my sewing machine, which is computerized. I love blogging and the blogosphere (that's all of you). But I simply am not into technology or the latest internet wonder. I don't tweet and I have no idea what's trending at the moment. 

Then, a few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a friend who is a photographer about using social media to expand her business. And I resolved to pull myself together, too, and polish things up a bit in my digital life - hardware, software, the works. (Update: My blog is for fun only. I have ZERO interest in actually profiting from it.)

Upgrading my technology.

Since that conversation, the flash in my camera has died (it's not worth fixing and I've been planning to get a better camera, anyway), Picnik has sent me an email saying they are closing and I will have to transfer or risk losing my photos, and I've joined Tumblr and Pinterest, but have no clue what to do with either. In fact, I'm not sure what Tumblr is for or how to navigate it, and it irritates me that I can't seem to figure out if it's possible to re-order the pins on a Pinterest board. I think I have two Flickr accounts because remembering log-ins is an issue.

I've been trying to be better at visiting and updating/reviewing my projects at PatternReview, BurdaStyle and Ravelry.  I had always basically ignored BurdaStyle and now the creative director there is leaving because of "structural changes" to come. I'm not sure what that means for users.

Oh, and don't even get me started on a banner for my blog. I've been wanting to do something nice for the top of my blog for aeons. I just have no idea what or how to do it.

I'm not an early adopter.

So, you see, I'm not really doing all that well on this resolution. Sigh. And I'm feeling rather weighed down by it all and not sure how any of it can or can't help my digital life. Or whether some of these things aren't just time drains that keep me from doing things in my actual life - like sewing and baking. Anyway, please feel fee to weigh in on any of the following, whether you blog or not:
  • Photo editors and tools - which do you use/prefer/loathe with burning itch?
  • PatternReview, BurdaStyle and Ravelry (for knitters) - love em? hate em? use them for different purposes? 
  • Tumblr - please illuminate me. Why is it I thought this was something I needed? Do I need it? 
  • Pinterest - I kinda like this idea since I'm forever forgetting where I saw that something cool. Do you pin? Let me know where to find you. And if you know how to reorder a board. 
  • What hardware, software or digital tools do you find most helpful for your sewing/blogging/crafting digital life?