Friday, September 15, 2017

Video addiction

First and foremost - thank-you for all the lovely comments about my bag.  I didn't have a chance to reply to each one, but ...  I do appreciate them.  I thought of this as a bag for travel, but since I have no plans for travel in the near future, and I couldn't wait to try out all those wonderful pockets, so the bag is now in daily use.  Each pocket has its purpose.

My latest sewing addiction is watching videos from SilhouettePatterns on YouTube.  (I have to do something while I eat!)  And my favourite content is ideas for variations on one pattern.  Some I like.  Some I don’t like.  Doesn’t matter.  I have bought a few Silhouette Patterns over the years – none of which have yet been so much as taken out of their packages.  That detail aside, Peggy’s enthusiasm makes me want to run to the sewing room and start cutting up patterns and fabric to quickly zip up my version of whatever Peggy just made.  Usually this doesn’t happen, because there’s already a project underway in the sewing room which really does need to be completed before anything new hits the cutting table.  Nevertheless, a few items have been influenced by Peggy.

Late winter/early spring I came across some very fine weight wool (and something) knit.  First came the “normal” tops – one colour – one pattern. 

And then there were all these scraps that were just too big to throw away, too precious to turn into swiffer rags.  Some slicing and dicing of my knit tunic pattern resulted in a two-colour tunic.

More recently Peggy added a flounce to a top.  Well, I needed one too!  Hers had a kangaroo pocket.  Mine doesn’t. I also acquired some folded elastic, and again, à la Peggy I sewed it down flat along the centre and used the same elastic to wrap around the neck edge.  The edge of the flounce is just a narrow hem on the serger using woolly nylon thread.   (Elastic would have been too bulky here, I think.)

I may dream of lovely embroideries and old-fashioned details to add some interest to my clothes, but sometimes an easy detail – like using two fabrics together or adding a simple flounce is all that’s needed to take a t-shirt from dull to a little bit more interesting.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Mini Professional Tote

 It only took a few years, but I have finally made myself a Mini Professional Tote.  I had admired the (original) larger version of this design, but when I saw it made up, I decided that it was just too large for me.  Then came the mini version, and this was definitely something that I could see as a convenient bag for travel.  Then I waffled.  That's a lot of work for a bag!  My idea of a bag is something that I can put together in a few hours at most, not days.  But all those convenient pockets were definitely tempting.  Although dozens of pieces of a complicated design for a coat or dress don't scare me one bit, for some reason, I find dozens of little square and rectangular pieces for pockets and parts of a bag rather daunting.  Nevertheless, after much deliberation, I finally acquired the pattern, the fabric, and all the other bits and bobs required.  And then all of this sat for, oh, a few years.  At the beginning of summer I finally decided it was definitely time.
The fabric I chose was an ombre batik.  Dark at one selvage, gradually getting lighter towards the other.  I had (I thought) more than enough fabric to place all the outside bits on the very dark end of the fabric, and the lining on the light end.  Good thing that I didn't start cutting until I planned my placement, because it was soon obvious that there was not enough "dark" for all the pieces that I wanted at that end.  After much juggling around, I finally did manage to fit all the pieces on the fabric.  It's just that I had envisioned the outside pockets to be much darker, but had to be content with  the way things turned out.  I only had a few small scraps of the batik left at the end.  I had no batik left for the handles, but I think that was a good thing, because the contrast dark brown handles (heavy cotton twill) look a whole lot better than more batik would have.
For once I actually had to read the (excellent) instructions very carefully, working one step at a time.  Too much information at once proved confusing for the brain.  I have a bad habit of barely skimming instructions for clothing construction, then ignoring them completely.  Here I had to pay attention, and keep track of all my little numbered pieces.  It was certainly worth the effort.  I'm still not quite sure that I'm in love with my choice of fabric, but I love the design of the bag.  All those pockets...  I'm even thinking that perhaps another tote might be a possibility - perhaps in a lightweight fake suede...(?) 
Too close of a close-up?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The dress the dog ate

Just in case you've read my sad tale in the latest issue of Threads Magazine (Issue 192/August/September 2017) about my doggie eating the wedding dress, I thought you might like to see some pictures of the actual dress.  OK - so I don't have pictures of the destruction done.  I wasn't "into" taking pictures back then, and I probably wouldn't have wanted to remind myself of the disaster.  But I did borrow the dress to take some pictures of the "fixes".  At the time, I was so sure that my patches were oh, so obvious to the whole world.  So many years later, I had to really, really look to find my patches.  Guess I didn't do so bad a job.


The edge of this shoulder was totally shredded.

This sleeve was also a chewed up mess.  It required extra embroidery to cover up the edges of the patches, and that in turn required extra embroidery on the other sleeve so that they would match.

What really did allow me to make the "patches", was the fact that the skirt had to be shortened.  The tulle layer of the skirt being somewhat A-line, I was able to salvage some of the skirt trim to use as patches elsewhere.

The dress did sustain some damage during the wedding.  (All that delicate tulle was not meant for dancing with wild abandon.)  And since I did borrow it for my pictures, I suppose I'll be nice and fix it as best as possible, in case they decide to have the dress cleaned and boxed.

So there you have it.  And now for the culprit in this tale of woe ...

Surprisingly innocent-looking.  He's been gone to the big dog park in the sky for well over a year, but I still miss him terribly.  I was amazed that the artist who drew the cartoon picture for the magazine got the essence of my "puppy" so right.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

More Class Samples

At the rate I'm going here, summer will be over before I finish posting my summer class samples.  So without further ado ...

Instead of the usual pyjama pants class, this summer we're calling them shorts.  We're using different patterns for the class, but these were made from Kwik Sew 3793.  Yup, I managed to use some of that Canada Day fabric.  And yes, these will be sent off to my son once they've done their duty showing off at the store.

Yet another class for beginners - summer tops.  Kwik Sew has this same style in all sizes from Misses (K3610) to Girls (K3768) to Toddlers (K3934).  I used a quilting cotton.  Sewing up the tie as the pattern instructs would just make for a thick mess, so I substituted a length of ribbon.  Much less work, and it does the job just as well.  (Slides through that casing much more easily.)  I had thought to make this for myself, but luckily had second thoughts.  I'd look ridiculous trying to pull off this look.  I know two sisters who will look adorable in these tops ... and they're due for presents.

Last but not least ... a tunic class.  We sell Kwik Sew patterns at the shop, so the pattern choices had to come from there.  Mine is (as the previous one you saw) Kwik Sew 3161.  This is my final version.  (Stay tuned - there's another version that came in between.)  And since the linen/cotton mix was too plain - I had to add some embellishment.

I've bee feeling guilty about not yet answering a question in Comments from a while back.  Here goes.  The question posed by Audrey was, essentially, whether I am reimbursed for my samples.  The answer is no, at least in my experience.  Samples are the responsibility of the teacher. Because I imagine that seeing new and (hopefully) appealing samples will entice people to sign up for classes, I put a lot of effort into these items.  I also try to plan things so that these samples will eventually end up in my wardrobe or be used as gifts.  I also don't feel comfortable hanging up items for show that have been worn, so every time I churn out new stuff.  I do wonder how others handle this situation.  If anyone has any brilliant ideas to make my life easier - please do let me know.  I'm already dreading the sewing marathon in August, getting ready for classes starting in September.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Happy Canada Day!

I am no quilter ... have I mentioned this before?  But with Canada's Sesquicentennial, all sorts of Canada-themed fabrics started showing up at the sewing shop.  For some unknown reason I had to join in the "fun".

One of the collections had a fabric with Canadian trivia questions (and answers) printed all over.  I thought this would make an interesting wall hanging for my son.  Unfortunately, whoever designed this fabric most probably had no intention of all 47 (I think it was 47) questions staying in one block to actually be read.  Hence the rather odd shape of the middle piece.  I nearly went crazy making sure that I didn't chop off anything important.

Among the questions of historical and geographic importance there is also such important information as: "Q.7.  What type of shop does Canada have per capita, more than anywhere else?  A. 7.  Doughnut."  We certainly have our priorities straight.

The questions fabric was hand stitched to the red fabric.  Things started going a bit wonky at some point.  Never mind - we're going for the "rustic look".  By some miracle I did manage to finish by the beginning of the week and Canada Post actually managed to deliver yesterday.  This will be hanging at Smugglers Smokehouse in Penticton, B.C.

There will be no more attempts at quilt-making for a very long time.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Boring Beige or Khaki?

Usually I have a game plan of what to sew at the beginning of every season. That plan is not one that I necessarily stick to, because, you know - new fabrics and/or ideas pop up spontaneously.  There are always far too many projects in the list than one body can possibly accomplish.  But there is a plan.

This year I just couldn't even muster an iota of enthusiasm for summer sewing. The weather is, well, cold.  There have been a few spurts of heat, but generally, there is no great need for real "summer" clothes.  But since I have to keep sewing, because that's just part of my life, and samples for classes, etc. aside, I'm just going to dip into my fabric stash and see where that takes me.

First "lucky" piece was a rough weave cotton with an embroidered border.  Yes, it's boring beige.  Oh, wait - let's call it khaki, which then makes this "on trend".  Oh how I loved that fabric when I bought it!  It was supposed to be a skirt.  That skirt never happened.  If I loved this fabric so much - then why, oh why has it been shifted around for so many years?  At this point I have plenty of skirts, and I could do with a few more pairs of pants.  So...

Not too much fabric to play around with.  I used my self-drafted pants pattern and widened the legs.  (Sure-fire way to get a decent fit!)  I just hope that this shorter length won't look too odd a few years down the line.

Of course there were leftovers.  Not much, but just enough to squeeze out a top.  (KwikSew 2976 - OOP).  The back needed a seam.  Having recently "rediscovered" my flat-felling foot, which makes an absolute breeze of that particular seam treatment, I decided to put it to good use.  Makes for a nice smooth inside.

And for a bit of redemption from "terribly boring beige" - black piping around the neck and black buttons.

Not enough fabric left to make the bias strips needed to finish off the neck and armhole edges, and that's where some quilting cotton came in handy.  And the easiest part of this top - the hem.  I just left the selvage as is.  

One major bonus of this outfit - it's easy enough to pull a sweater over it to keep warm!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Clutch Bag(s)

I needed a really easy bag for a beginners class.  One that could be done in one evening by even the slowest sewer.  No zippers.  (Some people manage to take well over an hour messing with a zipper ... and we don't have time for that.)  There is a magnetic clasp which requires poking holes in fabric, but that's still a lot easier than a zipper.  (More on that later... )  Rounded corners ... because they're easier to poke out and make pretty than square corners, at least in my opinion.  The wrist strap is just a piece of grosgrain ribbon.  

We'll be cutting kits for this one ... just so there's no messing around with measurements and scissors and the like.  Just follow instructions and sew.  A finished project at the end of class gives the needed sense of accomplishment.(?)

Now a class sample has to be exactly what the students can expect to produce in class.  And you know that there will be - uh - alterations in the works when this bag comes home after doing duty as a sample.  Lovely as the batik is, it's just crying out for some beading to make this an "evening" bag. And then there's the wrist strap ... Seemed like the easiest option for class.  I happen to prefer a shoulder strap.

Imagine a party ... and you have a glass of something in one hand, and you need your other hand for snagging something to munch off a tray that's passing by, or you just need your hand(s) for talking, or for giving a friend a one-armed hug (while not spilling the drink that the other hand is holding!).  Well, just which hand (wrist) is this clutch supposed to be hanging off?

So much easier to hang the elegant clutch on one's shoulder, thus freeing up both hands for whatever other purpose you may need them for, while still having all the "stuff" you need right at your hip.  Enough said. ..

And you know that I couldn't just make a bag and call it a day.  There had to be a prototype ... from scraps left over from my geisha jacket.

This one got the shoulder strap treatment ... for which I had to punch holes!  I'm still not particularly adept at hammering in these pesky eyelets, but at least they're staying in place and looking decent on the outside.

And I managed to goof with the placement of the magnetic snap.  Poked holes in the wrong side of the flap.  Just goes to show that one really does need to pay attention when doing serious damage to work in progress.  And I couldn't just toss the whole thing and start over, because I love this fabric ... and there's not much of it left ... and then there's all the time I'd put into it already ...  So I added even more work by hand stitching a strip of coordinating fabric to cover up my mistake.
Now I just need a party for this bag to get an outing!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Summer tunic

Finally we have warm weather!  In March I started dreaming summer outfits.  (That's about the time I am thoroughly disgusted with layers of warm woolies.)  In April I was still confident that I would finish all of my "winter projects".  Not so.  Left some UFO's for the Fall.  With house guests coming in May, there were certain home dec projects that needed to happen.  Some even included fabric.  There was some emergency wedding sewing.  Not much time for me sewing.  But that suited me just fine, because I was in the deepest of dumps in regards to wardrobe.  The weather was cold and rainy, and it seemed that there would be no end to wearing winter woolies.  With this lack of cooperation from the weather, I was not particularly motivated to sew anything new for summer.
Regardless ... samples for summer classes are due by the end of the month.  Summer classes need to be easy, and I thought a tunic would be just the ticket for teaching some fitting.

I've had this pattern for quite some time.  I made it once - years ago.  For some reason I remembered it being too tight in the armholes.  "Muslin" time.  OK - making a muslin from a patterned fabric that needs some degree of matching is not the most brilliant idea.  Really?  Judging by what was in the pattern envelope, I had previously cut an XS.  So I cut a S.  Because I'm just so smart, I decided to forego basting the seams and actually stitched at the regular stitch length and serged all the seams before trying on.  I must like to give myself a lot of extra work.  My memory was obviously wrong.  The tunic was huge.  I scaled back down to the XS, made an adjustment in the shoulders, ripped and restitched.  Now everything fits. So this is tunic No. 1.

There is tunic No. 2 - made "just because" - yet to be photographed.  The actual sample that will be hanging in the store is still in progress.

And just because I didn't want to bundle up the leftover fabric for future use, I made a skirt to match.  Now as I look at this two-piece "dress" combination, I rather doubt that I'll actually wear these two together.  A bit "much" in my opinion.  But the skirt and a solid top should be all right.  The tunic can go over black jeans or white jeans... which would mean that I would need to sew said pair of white jeans, and who knows if that will ever happen.
I  am the most unphotogenic person in the world, but just to prove that what I sew actually does fit me - here's a few snaps of "what I wore to-day".

Friday, February 24, 2017

Class samples

No matter that I start thinking about samples for classes some months in advance, and even begin sewing them well in advance, the last month before they are due to be hung in the store is an insanely mad rush of sewing.  Definitely not my favourite way to sew!  I did get everything done.  All hung and ready for inspection by potential students during open house at the store.  (I’m also the “monkey” that gets to climb the ladder and hang on thin air to hang the quilts.  Sometimes it just does not pay to be skinny and agile!)  With all the hurry, I didn’t have time to take pictures as things were made, and then it took a little while to get over to the store with my camera.  Lighting is a little iffy, but I think, for the most part, the pictures turned out not too badly.  Here goes…

The ever popular pyjama pants class has now morphed into a full pyjama.  The logic was, that after two weeks and one pair of pants, students haven’t really learned that much.  Better to sew more, and even learn to sew buttonholes (for some reason that’s of great interest to people!) and really put some mileage on that sewing machine.  Now the class is five sessions.  It’s working much better … I think.  I’m always game for an upgrade in the pj department.   These are a cotton jacquard.  They looked a little bland, so I added some ribbon and even popped into the store at one point to embroider the daffodil for the pocket.

As always, there’s a class on t-shirts and cardigans (based on patterns from the Pamela’s Patterns collection) and a class on simple skirts.  This go-around there’s a class on fitting your top.  It’s always a bit of a challenge to dress the mannequins – planned outfits and all that.  We (I) also have a class on Spring jackets – student’s choice of the Sewaholic Minoru or the Closet Case Kelly.

The skirt fabric was a knit remnant that I thought to use for a cap-sleeved top.  Upon some serious thought, I decided that it would be too heavy and icky (how else to describe this fabric?) to wear as a blouse in summer – the only time I’d be wearing a cap-sleeved top.  And so it became a skirt.  Not enough length for me, hence the black insert.
The cardigan is also a remnant – some seriously weird knit fabric.  So incredibly badly behaved that I ended up having to stabilize every single seam.  But I love it!  Don’t know how practical this will be.   The top layer seems to want to grow snags just from being looked at.
And the blouse underneath is the Oakridge by Sewaholic – minus the tie.  I even made a belt!  It cannot be said that don’t think these outfits through.  (LOL)

Notice the distinct lack of snaps on the Kelly Anorak?  This was the last item being sewn.  I was in a rush. (And that’s never a good thing when tackling something new-to-me, and trying to actually follow instructions, because students will be asking questions about said instructions.)  I managed to hammer on the eyelets for the cord.  I even watched some Youtube instructions about eyelets and snaps.  It looked so easy.  So why were my snaps not snapping shut?  Luckily I purchased far more than I actually needed.  I started with samples on scrap.  I was making an absolute mess.  Either the parts weren’t sticking together, or they stayed together and wouldn’t snap.  I would quite happily make a whole line-up of bound buttonholes than put in these snaps.  I must be hammering wrong!  (Is that possible?)  For now my jacket is snapless.  I do intend to practise some more and I’m sure that eventually I will conquer the hammering of snaps.  If anyone has any tips on snap installation – I would be very happy to know.
I did some extra edgestitching on the pocket flap.
I did cheat a little this time around.

This whole outfit was made for the previous lot of classes.  Granted, the jacket hung over a different t-shirt and pants – and that would be because I had a pants class – but not this time around.  This Minoru is a very lightweight wool.  To me it has the feel of a jacket for Fall, so I was in no great hurry to bring it home.
And then there are the kids’ classes.  I taught them a number of years back.  Then it was someone else’s turn.  Now it’s my turn once again.  Luckily I have a goddaughter, who also has a sister – two young ladies who are quite happy to add these pieces to their closets once the classes are done.  Lucky me to have someone to sew these for!  Otherwise it would have been a rather pointless and boring exercise. 

The cardigan was to be made from a sweatshirt the girls brought from home.  I went looking for one in the stores.  Do you know how difficult it is to find a plain girl’s sweatshirt these days???  I almost gave up.  Obviously I did find one and then had a lot of fun dressing it up – nothing too elaborate, but still…

During March break we’ll be sewing “twirly skirts” and t-shirts. 
 And in April it’ll be a crossbody bag with zippers.  (This is my version of learning by repetition.  I think that after putting in 3 zippers they should finally get it.)  This pattern, by the way, is from the Husqvarna website.  I modified it a little bit – there’s actual embroidery involved in the original.  Mine just has some fancy stitches in fancy thread – anything to get people sewing in straight lines!   And then we come to May, and the project is a little dress from Kwik Sew.
Can you tell we're ready for Canada's 150th with that wreath hanging next to the dress?
I remember many adult versions of something very similar gracing many a blog last summer.  Hopefully the girls will enjoy making and wearing this.  I think that it’s adorable!  (There's a version in toddler sizes too, if you're interested.)  We’ve already had one complaint – “… but my daughter doesn’t wear skirts and dresses…”.  For the kids’ classes I do not do alternate patterns.  That would be absolute chaos.  My answer to the complainer would have been – “it’s about time she started wearing skirts and dresses!”  All right, I’d never ever actually say that out loud, because we’re always polite to the customers, but I do wonder how a girl could not want to wear a skirt and look pretty.  Besides – that circle skirt is just so much fun!

I do wonder if I’m excluding any boys from these classes by coming up with girly things.  Anything too generic, and there is no interest in taking the class.  Not that we’ve had any requests from boys for classes – but you never know.  And I’m not so sure that at this age (10 – 11) any single boy would want to sit with a class of girls and learn to sew.