Monday, December 28, 2009

Sugar Doll

Tracey from I'm Just Your Average Mom who is also Strasfamily on Pattern Review has just nominated me for the Fabulous Sugar Doll Blogger Award. Please visit Tracey's blog as her blog is new and she has lots to share. To receive this award I'm supposed to tell ten interesting things about myself. Not sure I'm interesting enough to come up with ten, but here goes:

1. You already know that I have a twin sister, but what you don't know is that I hate being a twin. I would have loved to be an only child. Growing up I never had my own identity. In fact I didn't even have my own name. I was called twin, or one of the twins. I married an only child and I have an only child. I think they are so lucky not to have had to share anything or anyone.

2. I don't like cell phones and I wish I didn't need to have one. I do have to acknowledge that very few people have the number. That way I can just use it for MY convenience.

3. I don't color my hair. My son helps me pluck the same 8 gray ones that keep coming back. It's easy since the gray ones stand out against my very dark brown hair. I hope that I'm in my 70's like my Dad before I get enough gray hair to matter.

4. I've been on some kind of diet since high school, and I wasn't fat back then. In fact, I wasn't ever overweight until after I gave birth to my son. It's all his fault. BTW, I've lost over 20 pounds now. Only a ton more to go.

5. I made a lot of my clothes in high school and sewed for my friends and older sister as well. Today I hate to sew for other people. I fear that they won't like it or that they will think I did a bad job. Probably an unrealistic fear, but I can't help myself.

6. I'm a card carrying member of the Chickasaw Nation, which is one of the five civilized tribes. According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, I'm 5/32 Chickasaw, but that doesn't include the Cherokee blood. The records of that heritage was lost along the way and was never recorded on the Dawes Rolls. So in reality, I'm more like a quarter American Indian.

7. I grew up in Southern California but was born in Kingman, Arizona. I wasn't raised around my native people so I don't have any Indian culture to speak of. That's why I jump at any chance to visit Oklahoma where the Chickasaw were placed after the march down the Trail of Tears and where my Dad's family live.

8. I didn't graduate from college until one month before my 30th birthday. I have a degree in Communications and specializing in Public Relations. I worked in Public Relations for a small hospital for five years until my son was born. Becoming a substitute teacher was a way I could work and spend the time I needed to with my special needs child.

9. Before getting my degree I worked in various jobs, first as a secretary/stenographer for the Los Angeles County Planning Department, then as a secretary for General Dynamics. I also worked as a legal secretary and an office manager while I was attending college.

10. I used to be a party animal. Happy hour? I'm there. Invite me to a party, I'm the last to leave. No party tonight, then I'd get one started. However, since giving birth to my son 15 years ago I now almost never drink. I don't go to happy hour and I don't usually go to parties. It has everything to do with keeping me safe so that I can be there to take care of my son. If I do drink, it's one glass of wine at home and then I promptly fall asleep.

Now it's my turn to pass this award to 10 very deserving blogs.

Amy at Quixotic Pixels who makes the most fantastic projects both sewing and knitting.
Angie A. at Quality Time who is also a teacher and has the best sense of humor.
Trena at The Slapdash Sewist who sews the most fantastic dresses and shares her trips traveling around the world.
Nancy at Encue Creations who sews a lot of great looking garments for herself.
Linda at Danville Girl Sewing Diary who also sews a lot for herself and shares the most wonderful hints to help make me a better sewist.
Nkem at Sew Shy who is working hard on getting her garments to fit. It's exciting to see how her garments are coming along.
Deepika at Curtains to Coats who is the founder of She doesn't have a lot of time to blog but is dedicated to sewing at least one garment a month. She also shares lovely pictures whenever she returns from her travels.
Shams at Communing With Fabric who has been trying out some French patterns. This is a new-to-me blog but I've really been enjoying her style.
Gigi at Gigi Sews has been helping me sew better for nearly 8 years. Her blog is full of wonderful garments and helpful hints.

I really hope you visit all these wonderful blogs. They are some terrific women who all have a love of sewing and a desire to share what they do with others.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

It's a Red Eye

While visiting my Mother-in-law, I asked her if I could take a look at the Singer machine that she wants me to have. This machine belonged to her grandmother and she remembers her mom using it. She uses it as a side table now but would love for me to take it so she could buy more bookcases. Wouldn't it be a great addition to my sewing studio whenever my partner and I get it started?

I was so excited to see that it was a red-eye! Unfortunately, it no longer has it's treadle pedal or belt wheel. Her mother had it motorized. Does anyone know if I could just replace those parts or do I have to find a whole new base?

I'm sure it will be much easier to use with the motor, but I would love to have had it in its original condition. I do really love that it has a light.

The machine is in pretty good shape and it still works. At least the hand wheel turned by hand for me. I didn't plug it in to try it. I'm sure all the oil will need to be replaced.

As for how old it is, I'm having a hard time figuring it out. It looks to me like the serial number above reads 760331. I didn't look at it closely when I was with the machine in person, unfortunately. I don't see a decimal point in the picture, but it is a bit fuzzy. According the Singer website, that would date the machine to 1871. However by my research, the Red Eye decals weren't being used until 1910. So my dear friends, can you help me figure out the correct date?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I want to wish you all a very merry day today. I hope Santa brought you all everything you wanted. I had a wonderful Christmas Eve with my family coming to my house. My twin sister Carrol (Carrol and Sherril, isn't that cute?) got here late because she works retail at Sears, but everyone else came including my Dad, sister Susan, her two sons, Matthew and Jeremy, Jeremy's wife Carrie and their two kids Logan and Rhianna. And of course, my husband Bob and son Steven.

Probably the sweetest gift I got was from Steven. I know he saved his allowance to get it for me. He bought me a $14 gift certificate from JoAnn's. I think with the 50% discount off thread, 40% off rotary cutter blades, and some $3.99 Vogue Patterns along with the 10% coupon from the sales ad and my ASG 10% discount, I will be able to parlay the $14 into a really great shopping day. In 2010 I'm committing to not buying any fabric or patterns. Of course, there will be times when I need a notion or two, but I'm cutting way back on spending this next year so this may be my last big hurrah for awhile.

I asked Bob for a new bathroom scale. Nothing was wrong with the old scale except that it wasn't digital and the numbers were getting really hard to read, especially if I couldn't put my hands on my glasses first thing in the morning. This one measures to the tenth as well as has a large digital readout. This morning it showed almost exactly the same weight as my old scale, so I'm keeping my ticker updated with the new scale from now on. I'm down 20 pounds but I won't change the ticker until Monday, my weigh-in day.

My family draws names every year where we list items we want and need. This year my Dad got me. We're supposed to keep to a $50 limit, but Dad is a most generous Santa and got me just what I wanted.

A new analog wrist watch with a leather band and date window. I love it!

And a radiant heater for my sewing room. I get up hours and hours before the rest of the family and I hate to heat the whole house. With this I can heat only the sewing room and save lots of money. It's keeping me toasty right now.

I have lots of plans to sew next week since I'm off from work. My first project will be the Hot Pattern's Metropolitan Tie Me Down Top. Debbie Cook just finished a wonderful version of this pattern and of course I had to have one too.

I also want to make up this new pattern from Amy Butler. This is exactly the type of purse I wish I could buy. The size is great and I love the side pocket. I plan to put a few pockets on the inside as well.

For those of you who celebrate some holiday other than Christmas, I hope you have a joyous time on your special day. Today we are going to spend the day with Bob's mom, Arlene. It's through the valley and over the Santa Susana Mountains to Grandmother's house we go.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Everything's Groovy

I haven't shared this with very many people unless you've been reading the Sewing As A Business Forum on Patternreview, but I'm going to start teaching people how to sew. My friend, Stephanie, the one I went to New York and Italy with, and I will be developing a business plan to open a sewing studio. But neither one of us can wait until we have the studio open. We've decided to start teaching at the City Parks and Recreation. Stephanie used to work in the Rec department while going to college and has kept in touch with the people who work there. After getting some advice from our Fashion Design college professor, we went straight to the City and got ourselves signed up to teach three classes in January. The classes will run for four weeks for three hours each session and be open to ages 10 through adult. The classes we will be teaching includes a basic beginner class where we will teach students how to sew a tote bag and an apron. We will be teaching this class on both an afternoon and a Saturday once a week. Then the next month, we will teach an advanced beginner class with some PJ pants and a collarless robe as the projects and another beginning sewing class. Then, after the Saturday class we will hold a two-hour sewing workshop where people can come in and work on their own projects while we hold their hand or help them with fitting.

The goal is to fine tune our teaching techniques and learn what people want to learn how to do. That way when our studio is open, we will be able to target our classes around the needs of our customers. We will also be building a client base and hopefully, a following. Hopefully we can save all the money we earn while teaching for the City to help open up a real studio of our own.

I spent today making a sample of the tote bag we will be teaching. I think this one should be on display at the teen center instead of the senior center, although some of those seniors probably remember the 70's quite fondly. I know I do.

It's just your standard bag cut on the fold and the sides stitched up. Then the corners are stitched across to form a box bottom. The bag measures 13 X 13 X 6 which is a good size for shopping. It wasn't too big to maneuver under the pressure foot either. I finished the side seams with a french seam since I didn't want people to be disappointed with the zigzag finish. Also, it gives the bag more of a quality feel to it.

I had the fabric already in the stash, of course. You can't tell much, but both the red and the yellow fabrics have lurex threads in them and have quite a bit of shine. I wanted to embellish the pockets so that people can see what they can do after they learn the basics. We won't be teaching these embellishment techniques, but if they want us to, we will see about teaching embellishment techniques at a later date.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving's Over, Whew!

I have a lot to be thankful for. I have a husband who loves me and respects the things I want to do. I have a child with a disability who has overcome any problems the disability caused and is a happy child who loves his parents. My mom has been gone from us for three years now, but I'm so proud of my dad and all he's done with his life since losing his wife of 53 years and am thankful I still have him. My twin sis has left her self-destructive husband and is thankfully living happily nearby. I'm thankful for my older sister, her son and his family too. I love them all so much. Notice it's the people in my life I'm thankful for. This includes you, my sewing friends. For you I am thankful.

My blog started out as a sewing blog, and for the most part, I've kept it strictly to sewing. However, now I need to take a slight tangent at times. I toyed with the idea of starting another blog to journal my weight loss. I would have done it too, except the idea of setting up another blog just seemed too daunting. Also, I already have you my friends ready to cheer me on as I do my best to become a stronger, yet smaller, woman. I hope you'll indulge me these tangents on weight loss. But don't worry, I will still blog about all the new pattern alterations I'll be doing to fit the new stronger, smaller me.

As of this morning, I've lost 15 pounds. You'll see that I haven't updated my ticker yet because my official weigh-in is on Mondays. That's more weight gone in five weeks than I've ever been able to lose on Weight Watchers in twice that time and I've done WW several times in my life. The best part is I'm not hungry or craving sweets and carbs. Yesterday was Thanksgiving and I can't believe how easy low-carb was. I ate till I was full on very low-carb salad, green beans, and broccoli with a tiny spoonful of corn and was very satisfied. I had bought meatless chicken drumsticks but forgot to cook them. While everyone else was eating pie, I ate my almonds and diet swiss miss cocoa for dessert. I did have one little cherry from the pie, but found it way too sweet. It feels good not to have any regrets. I enjoyed my entire family so much yesterday, that the food was only a small part of the day. And yes, I was the cook except for the turkey which my dad cooked. I had to have everyone else taste the gravy and dressing for seasonings. That was fun getting other people into the kitchen with me.

I hope you all had an equally enjoyable day. My next blog entry will be about sewing, I promise!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Look What I Found!

My mojo is back! I guess all I had to do was whine to you all. After looking at the patterns again, I decided to buckle down and get some sewing done. I just moved my cutting mat to the kitchen table and got to work. I had some extra help with holding down the pattern pieces.

Chrissy is on the left and Becky is on the right. They are about two months old and such curious devils. We are really enjoying having babies in the house. It's been about 30 years since I've had a kitten.

I decided to do a quick knit muslin of Simplicity 2619. I used a shiny poly/lycra knit that I would never wear out of the house, even though I love the color. It was also hard to photograph. I finally found the right camera settings so that there wasn't weird color shifts where the fabric shined.

First off, it's way too low for my taste. I'll have to raise it at the center front two inches so that I can wear it to work. I had added a big belly alteration that needs to be removed. You can see I have it pinned out in the photo. It also needs some more length at center front on the bodice. I have it tugged down for the camera. I should have tugged the sides down. The elastic I put in the bodice seam is just a tad too tight.

My fake FBA worked, but since it left the center front too short, I'll add about half the FBA length to the CF. The armhole is also too big. I think that's why I have the fold over the bust. I've pinned in a sloping shoulder adjustment, but I don't think that's the right alteration. It's is pulling at the shoulder slightly with this change.

It's not a very big bust fold so I don't think I'll need to rotate the excess into the bust gathers. I think I'll first just shorten the armhole and see how that goes. From the side you can see that it doesn't give me the maternity top look and that makes me happy. The sleeves do need to be narrowed toward the hem and I think I'll loose the flounce.

I added a wedge to go over my full hips and I think that alteration works great on the back. Since I'm so short waisted, I shorted the pattern at the waist by two inches. It looks like I may need to add that back to the hem since this muslin isn't hemmed yet and I feel it could be a bit longer.

I'm also debating weather I want to put the facing on the outside like the pattern has you do. I know it's just a design feature to give it that duro look. I believe that the duro look is over. I'm thinking some nice decorative buttons down center front would look much better.

What do you think? Is this a style I should even be trying? Is it too young? Too maternity? All wrong for a short fat girl? How about a leopard print? Or should I keep it to a solid color? I guess my mojo isn't quite back yet because I don't usually question myself like this.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What's Wrong With Me?

I don't know what's wrong with me. I haven't been motivated to sit down and sew lately. I think about sewing, I buy sewing stuff like patterns and trims. I'm just not sewing. Ever since I had my Nephew and his family stay with me for two weeks, I haven't been able to get going again. Maybe it's the fact that my cutting table is covered with stuff I need to put away. Maybe it's that I'm working out how to make low-carb a part of the rest of my life. Maybe it's that I want so badly not to be this size any longer. Maybe it's that my sewing room is feeling cramped with stuff that I don't know what to do with. Maybe it's all these things and more.

Here are some new patterns I just bought and plan to sew just as soon as my mojo returns. Some of the images are quite large so you will need to click on them to see the whole image.

This is Simplicity 2619. I don't think this one will look very good on me. But it's a style I really like. I tried to make this style once before and I don't think it looked very good and it wasn't very comfortable.

I got a lot of compliments on the review of this blouse, but I never did finish it and I think I just threw it away or donated it. I think I'll try the style again in a knit with the new pattern. Maybe it was the band under the bust I didn't like. I guess I'll have to do a muslin to know for sure.

I like View A and View C. I don't know how well those pockets and pleats will look over my big belly and the collar would have to be downsized. I have some black and white houndstooth that would look good in this pattern so I may get to this one before the end of the year. It's just that the last jacket I made took three muslins and a lot of time. However, the jacket was really worth it in the end.

I love this little jacket. I also like that it has a princess seam over the bust which is quite flattering on me. I have some really nice printed stretch moleskin that would be perfect for this pattern. The moleskin has a slick back side that would mean I wouldn't need a lining. This one could be doable in the next few weeks. I also really like the darted shell. I don't have a woven pattern for a shell.

I just love the cardigan with the collar. It looks like a shawl collar but it isn't. It has a sewn collar attached with a facing. I'm not sure how that would work in real life, but I like it in theory. I'm still pondering this one. You know I have a fondness for twin sweater sets and this could be my next one. People will probably start to talk if I make one more from my other two patterns.

I hope you noticed my little runner at the top of my blog. Feel free to encourage me to keep at it. I think I'm doing really great. It's been just over three weeks and I'm down 10 pounds already. I'm expecting another big loss this week. I haven't even been tempted to cheat. Not having my blood sugar plummet has been reward enough. That and finally getting enough sleep. If I were going to cheat, it would have been today. My co-workers brought in a chips, lasagna, and a cake since one of them are retiring. I just ignored it all and ate my fake chicken and vegetables with Alfredo sauce. Yum!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ahh, Sewing Again.

It was nice to sit down in front of my sewing machine again. I missed it. After making about a dozen garments over the summer, I took a break from sewing. That doesn't mean I wasn't thinking about sewing, I was. I traced out a couple of things which I may or may not get sewn and rearranged my fabrics in several different combinations while thinking about the next mini-wardrobe I plan to sew.

The top I finished is a knock-off from a Coldwater Creek top that I blogged about in my last post. I think it came out pretty close. I did manage to make the neckline almost too low and will have to alter that next time I make up this pattern. Click on the photos to get a closer look.

To make the v-neckline, I made a facing, then marked the shape I wanted. Since this is a poly jersey, I decided not to interface the facing since I wanted it to have all the movement and stretch of the rest of the top.

Once I trimmed the v-neck stitching, turned it and gave it a good press, I laid the inset on top of the facing and using my coverstitch machine, stitched around the edge of the V and around the edge of the facing, securing the inset. A glue stick came in very handy for this part of the project.

I'm not an expert cover stitcher by any means, and the corners could use some work, but I think it turned out pretty nicely. The only real problem was at the bottom of the V where one of my coverstitch needles fell off the blouse and stitched only on the inset. I don't mind my sewing mistakes nearly as much as I used to and this one is so minor that I decided to just leave it.

I like this top a lot and will probably make a few more, with a more appropriate neckline, of course.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Where Am I?

I'm still alive, in case you were wondering. I've just been preoccupied with life. Really, lots of things have been going on, except no sewing. I think I did so much sewing over the summer that I don't have a need to sew at the moment. That doesn't mean I don't want to sew because I do. In fact, I think I'll sew up a top today that I cut out last spring. It's a pattern that I designed using my TNT t-shirt pattern and copying this Coldwater Creek top.

I hope I can remember how I planned to sew it together. My sewing room is a mess so I'm going to have to clean up first. Since I didn't get any work today and there is a holiday tomorrow, I'm sure I can get it done.

Another thing that has me preoccupied of late is my weight. Remember this post last January about weight loss? Last January I had decided that it was time to finally lose the weight. So what happened? I gained 10 pounds this year. I've been doing some real soul searching and decided that low calorie, low fat diets don't work for me. I've been on them off and on for years and years. And I've been getting fatter and fatter because of it. After running into a friend at an ASG meeting and seeing how much weight she has lost, I decided to try something new.

The Metabolism Miracle is a book by Diane Kress that extols the virtues of a low carb diet. As a vegetarian I have always shunned these types of diets including Atkins and The South Beach diet. However, this author makes some very valid points about excluding carbs from my diet. The most important being that my body doesn't process sugar well any longer. I'm hypoglycemic which causes me to eat way too often and always high carb foods that cause me to crave more high carb foods. This is a pre-diabetic symptom and that's a place I really don't want to go.

Since I started following the Metabolism Miracle eating plan, the hypoglycemia has totally gone away and more importantly, I'm sleeping again. I haven't had more than five hours of sleep in about five years. After the first three days on this eating plan, I can hardly stay awake after 10 p.m. and I am getting 8 hours of sleep regularly. I'm even dreaming again! What a difference getting a full nights sleep makes in my attitude toward life. I also lost 10 pounds in first two weeks. Who knew that was possible? OK, I'm sure it was all water, but still, it feels great not to be all bloated and puffy.

Because I don't eat dead animals (nor live ones!) I am depending upon soy, wheat protein, and lots of Morningstar Farms and Boca products for my protein source. I'm having to learn how to cook all over again like I did when I stopped eating meat. For now I'm not eating potatoes, rice, legumes, breads of any kind, and all fruit. Some of these high carb foods will be reintroduced back into my meal plans later, after my body gets used to not being flooded with all the sugar they introduce into my body. This meal plan puts the body into ketosis, which according to research, is what burns body fat. And I'm all about burning the body fat at the moment.

As I lose weight, I'm going to be facing a new challenge. Altering my patterns to fit the new smaller, fitter body that I'm expecting. That's a challenge I'm looking forward to.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Thank you everyone for the nice words about my blue ribbon jacket. I need to pull the pattern out and make more for fall and winter. I won't get this one back until October so having one I can wear before that might be a good idea, that is if the weather ever cools down.

I haven't been doing any sewing for myself lately. Don't ask me what I've been doing because I don't feel like I'm doing anything. It was so darn hot around here, just staying cool was the order of the day. With the California State budget being in such a crisis, getting work has become very difficult. I'm a long-term substitute middle school teacher and my bread and butter was long-term assignments and subbing for teachers in training sessions. Most all training sessions have been canceled for the school year and teachers are afraid to go out for a long-term because they're worried they'll lose their jobs if there is a drop in enrollment. That means in the last month since school started, I've worked a total of six days. The bad part is that the unemployment office denied my claim saying that I had reasonable assurance that I would return to work when the summer recess was over. Well, I didn't and now I'm in limbo waiting for my appeal to this decision.

Meanwhile, my nephew's wife needs a new wardrobe and she fits the clothes I've sewn for myself pretty well. She thinks they fit wonderfully. Of course, she is used to the horrible fit of RTW. Since I have the time and the patterns, she has been coming over and I've been helping her learn to use patterns and cut out her new wardrobe. We aren't using any new top patterns, just using my TNTs. She also fits my TNT pants patterns, just things fit a bit differently but in a good way. She did pick out a gaucho pants pattern that I've never used. She fills the legs in my pants and with her larger bust and smaller back, tops fit well too. Next I get to help her learn how to sew the new wardrobe. She doesn't have a serger or a coverstitch machine so most of the sewing will be done at my house with her 2 year old underfoot. Good thing I love the little darling because when she leaves, my house looks like a tornado hit.

I was sewing like mad on my stash and haven't finished my SWAP yet, but I don't have anywhere to wear my new clothes and it isn't the right season yet for them anyway. So, I think putting my personal sewing aside and spend time working with her on her wardrobe is a better use of my free time. I'll be posting pictures and sharing her success with you all because I know you'll want to see all her fab new wardrobe using my patterns.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Blue Ribbon!

I only entered the one garment into the Los Angeles County Fair this year. I paid to enter three things but I didn't get anything else done that I'd planned on. It was so exciting to visit the fair and find a blue ribbon on my jacket. You may remember the trials and tribulations, including 4 muslins that it took to get the jacket to fit just right. Then I added the embroidery thread around the edges to make the design lines pop. All the fabric used on the jacket was stashed materials. I really took my time with this jacket. It's nice when your work is recognized. I had some pretty steep competition too, so the blue ribbon means just that more to me. Congratulations to my friends and fellow sewists that entered and won a ribbon. I can't wait to go back and look at each and every item on display. That'll have to wait for a day when I can go by myself. I don't want anyone rushing me through when I need to study and admire each and every item. Then I can come back and copy all my favorites!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sewing Day

It's been hot here. 104 yesterday and maybe a few degrees less today. To make matters worse there are fires in several areas around Southern Califorina, one less than 25 miles away. Needless to say the air quality stinks and no one wants to go outside. It was a good day to stay inside and sit in front of my tiny window air conditioner and sew.

This is my TNT jeans pattern sewn in dark navy stretch denim. I hemmed them a bit too long since denim usually shrinks after sewing, even though I wash and dry the fabric on hot four times before cutting the pattern out. I decided to sew the corduroy pants after I finish these. I thought it would just take too long to get finished if I made them at the same time. If you haven't noticed I like to get garments finished quickly. In fact, I like to sit down and sew until I can try the project on. After that, depending on how it fits, I may continue until it's done, or I may take a break if I have to tweak the fit. These jeans fit every step of the way. That's the great thing about TNT patterns.

This pattern is an evolution of this capris pattern from the Burda Plus WOF Spring 2004 pattern magazine. I've since lengthened them and changed the pocket and leg shape. These jeans are very comfortable and because it's a traced pattern, I can always go back to the original and start over if I ever finally decide to lose weight. After seeing the photos, I've become very motivated to do something.

Tomorrow I'll start on the corduroy pants. I need some opinions. Do you think I should discontinue to topstitch the yoke. I think it gives me a horizontal line right where I don't need it, but it's traditional on jeans. What do you think? Sorry the photo doesn't show more details. In consideration of my readers, I thought a small picture was appropriate because some things just need to be covered. In fact, maybe the topstitching doesn't even matter since I always wear my tops untucked. It's tucked in the photos to show details and fit of the jeans.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

SWAP Progress

To date I've completed five of my 11 garments. I really like a few of the pieces, especially the white blouse. I've never finished a SWAP before, but I've started more than a few in my lifetime.

The colors I picked out were navy, burgundy and white. These are colors that look good on me and I had almost all of them in my stash.

The first garment I made was this silk knit tie-neck Coldwater Creek knock-off top. I drafted the pattern from my TNT KS 2900. I've made this pattern four times now, but I don't think I'm ready to retire it quite yet.

I tried out a new pattern for the moleskin pants. It has a wider leg than I'm used to and I probably made them too long at least for these shoes. I may go back and alter them, but I may not. They won't be my first pick in the wardrobe, but they do work with everything else and several other things already in the closet.

The white blouse is my favorite of all the pieces so far. It's made from the TNT pattern I talked about in my last blog post. The fabric is a beautiful embroidered cotton. The embroidery puckered up the fabric and completely eliminated the need for ironing. I used white Kona cotton for the facing and didn't use any interfacing since the Kona cotton is so much heavier than the fashion fabric. I must have 200 buttons in my stash, but none of them would work for this blouse. Since I'm trying to not spend any money right now, I decided to buy the 90 cent a card buttons from Joann's. I think the plain buttons look good with this highly decorated fabric. Sorry I haven't washed out the buttonhole marks yet.

I don't have a long sleeve pattern for this blouse so I took the puffed sleeve pattern, folded out 3" from the center and cut it out adding length and narrowing toward the hem as I cut. I did have to true the cap after I cut it out. After sewing the sleeves in and hemming them, I discovered I didn't narrow the hem enough. To fix this, I just added two buttons folding out two inches which made a cute little pleat. The buttons are sewn on top of the fabric, no buttonholes were necessary. I really like the way these turned out. I must draft a real pattern for the long sleeve for next time I use this pattern.

The last two garments I've finished are the twin sweater set. For the top I used KS 2900, which is the same pattern used for the blue tie-neck top. Because the poly/rayon/lycra Sophia knit doesn't have any stretch in length and very little in the width, I added a dart and 1/2" to the side seams. I should have added more than the 1/2" to the sleeves as they are just a tiny bit too narrow. In this picture I have a decorative stitch on the neckline where I just folded the edge over. But, as you can see, the neckline was gaping some and even more with the cardigan. So today I spend about 3 hours unpicking the stiches and put on a binding. The binding mostly eliminated the gaping. I was afraid to pull it too tight which would have caused puckers. So, I'm going to live with the slight gape.

The cardigan is another pattern that I've sewn before. It's New Look 6735 which was a Best Pattern for 2008 on I shortened it two inches, but I'm only 5'1" tall. I didn't want to look like a little girl wearing her mom's clothes. I had to also buy new buttons for the cardigan. I'm beginning to think it's a waste for me to have a button stash. I never can find the right button in my collection.

There you have it. My Fall 2009 Sewing with a Plan so far. I have the denim jeans and the corduroy pants already cut out. Since my sub job for tomorrow was canceled, I'll probably work on them. I can't decide if I want to sew them separately, or in assembly line fashion. I'm using the same pattern for both and they are the same color, just different fabrications. I'm hoping the corduroy is more dressy than the denim but just as comfortable. This is a casual wardrobe, so both will fit right in.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

TNT Anyone?

I've been thinking a lot about TNT patterns, or Tried and True patterns. I have a tendency to reuse patterns a great deal. I know other sewists do this too, like Carolyn. I don't think I'd enjoy sewing as much as I do if I didn't have TNT patterns. They are like old friends. You may not call on them regularly, but when you need them, you know they'll be there for you. However, lately I've been depending on them a whole lot. I don't see anything wrong with it either. How many of us wear the same clothes over and over again because it just fits right? Like it was made specifically for you and sewn in the most wonderful fabrics. That's what a TNT pattern can do for you every time you visit the sewing machine, if you want.

New patterns are like meeting new people. You may hit it off right away, but then again, you may not like each other at all. Your personalities can work together if you don't spend much time together, but they won't be there for you when you really need a friend. New patterns have to be altered, for me more than once. It takes a lot of work to get a pattern to the TNT phase and many patterns, actually most patterns, just don't make it to this stage.

Lately, I've been getting a lot of mileage from Burda Plus WOF Spring 08 #418.

This pattern was one that took some hard work on my part to get it to the TNT stage. The one thing it had going for it was that it was a plus half size pattern. Patterns made for short AND fat people are far and few between. The original pattern looked nothing like the blouse I've been using it for.

Of course I made a muslin for it. As you can see, it had some problems. First of all, who thought it was a good idea to put this very high neck on a short fat women? Most of us don't have the long elegant neck of the tall model in their fashion photo. Some of us don't even have a neck. I cut the neckline down so that I could add a collar if I wanted to. As you can see in the composite picture, I made one blouse with a rounded convertible collar and one blouse with a collar and collar stand with the classic button band. Other changes I've made to this pattern was to round the bottom center front for a nice look since I don't tuck in my blouses. I've also changed up the sleeves. Only the top right and lower left blouses have the same sleeve. For the red blouse and the white blouse I used the same puffed sleeve and folded out the puff and added length.

There are still so many ways I can change up this pattern. The only down side to this pattern is that it has so many seams. The back has a center back seam and two princess seams for a total of 6 seams. The front and back princess seams work great for fitting purposes, but these seams also break up the print on any large motif fabric I may want to use. For that reason, I'm still searching for the perfect darted blouse pattern.

I highly recommend that you consider working on getting some TNT patterns. It doesn't have to look like you're sewing with the same pattern over and over again. People will think you're brilliant at fitting, which of course, you are. Making design changes aren't as hard as they look. You might want to pick up a few books on pattern drafting or take a class or two. It's really a lot of fun and look how your wardrobe can grow!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Poisoned Apple

Did you know that tomatoes are a member of the nightshade family? No? I didn't either. The reason I bring this up is because these type of plants are know to be toxic. While several members are actually eatable, like potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes, they may cause problems in some individuals. Tomatoes are know to cause inflammation in the joints of those with arthritis. I have arthritis and unfortunately I've been in a lot of pain lately from eating so many delicious homegrown tomatoes. I've been eating two or three every day for the last few weeks. Someone has to as my four plants are overflowing with big beautiful fruits. So much so that I'm thinking about canning some this weekend.

The only thing I got sewn this week was my burgundy suede cloth pants. I'm not crazy about them because the leg is much wider than I'm used to. It feels all floppy around my leg and I made them too long. The pattern is Kwik Sew 2720.

My muslin fit so much better in the back. I may have hiked the one side up a bit high when I put them on because they don't really fit as badly as the picture, which still isn't the fit I like. the hem is really even too, but doesn't look that way in the photo. Also, I think I hemmed them too long because they drape over my shoe ruining the line of the pants. But they do that in the artistic rendering on the cover of the pattern as well. Overall, the pants will fit in my SWAP and I'm sure I can wear them in rotation with the other garments in this wardrobe. They just won't be my favorites.

I'm going to try to cool it with the tomatoes so I can go back to sewing like a mad woman again. I'm still not working so I hate to waste this time at home when I could be working on my SWAP for Fall.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

First SWAP Garment Done

I did it, finished garment number 1. Only 10 more to go. This has to be the prettiest top I've made in a very long time. I drafted it from my TNT t-shirt pattern, KS 2900. I've reviewed the re-drafted pattern before. It's made with a silk stretch lace knit that I purchased probably 10 years ago. I think I found it at a sewing expo booth being sold by either Peggy Sagers or Cynthia Guffery. It's a frosted light blue with a navy blue under the design. Hard to describe but beautiful in person. I think the reason I hadn't used this fabric before now is because I didn't have enough to cut it out correctly. I think it was only 36" wide. It should have been cut in one direction since light plays on the frosted part and the design is one way. However, since I didn't have enough fabric, I had to cut with the front and back going two different directions. I think only someone who studied the print in the right light with my arms up would notice. The silk feels very different than cotton or rayon knit.

I've already got the next garment mostly done. It's the burgundy stretch moleskin slacks. I just need to find someone to help me get the hem length right and finish with the waistband. The third garment is all cut out and waiting for me. It will be the white long sleeved top. However, tomorrow I'll be visiting the Huntington Library with my family and MIL so I may not get any sewing done.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Fall 2009 SWAP - I Think I Can Do It

I have failed at more SWAP wardrobes than diets. Well, not really but it seems like it sometimes. In case you're new around here, SWAP means Sewing With A Plan. Lynn Cook of Australian Stitches Magazine advocates it as a terrific way to plan your sewing in an efficient manner so as to get a coordinated wardrobe that can be mixed and matched creating many different looks with only 11 garments.

If you click on the above photo, you can see what each of the fabrics will be sewn as. I don't have much white and navy in my closet, but I think they are OK colors on me. I only had to buy three of the fabrics, the rest I already had. I probably could have gotten away without buying two of the fabrics, but I really needed the denim. I must have sewn up my larger pieces of stretch denim already. I only have capris or skirt lengths left on the shelf. Since I'm sewing for fall, I decided to go with long pants.

I don't plan on making the SWAP exactly like the directions since I will be using some more complicated patterns than is suggested. Also, I don't wear skirts to work much after the first few weeks of school when the temperature starts to drop below 90 degrees. I'm more of a pants and blouse or knit top kind of girl.

I'm currently working on a muslin for the Shapely Blouse from Singer Perfect Plus: Sew a Mix and Match Wardrobe for Plus and Petite Plus Sizes. The book comes with four patterns, a jacket, a blouse, a skirt, and some pants. The book suggests you use these four patterns to make a mix and match (SWAP) wardrobe. I like the blouse and jacket, but I don't need the skirt and I already have TNT pants patterns.

I obviously need to do some altering on this pattern, but it's pretty close right out of the envelope. The only changes you see on the muslin is 1/2" added at the hips and I pivoted the back hip 1" away from the fold line for more high hip space. The back armholes seemed large, but I think if I pleat at the armhole and taper to zero at center back, I can do the petite adjustment and a full round back alterations at the same time. The bust darts are almost too high, I may fix this, I may not. I also need to eliminate the drag lines pointing to my bust.

I don't like the neckline shape on the blouse. It's too long and narrow, I 'd like it to be wider around my neck. That means a redraft. Also, it is way too short for me. I think it probably hits where it's supposed to on me since I'm 5'1" and the patterns are designed for a petite body length. I just like my tops longer to cover the belly. I think two inches should do it.

I wonder how long it will take me to sew up 11 garments. I really hope I finish these garments in time for Fall. I also hope I didn't donate all my navy shoes.