December 31, 2008

Goals for the year?

It is December 31--the last day of the Endless Combinations Sew along...and time to review last year's goals, and renew/change a few of my own. In the spirit of the many bloggers in blogland and elsewhere, I thought I would put down some ramblings about my goals for 2009.

1. To see the floor of the sewing room by the end of 2009--this means much more stash sewing than stash accumulation! I'm thinking 10 out for every yard in, but that might be too high a goal. Maybe empying at least 2 bolts a month??

2. To play more with different techniques and things. One new technique a month should be good.
My current list of things to try includes:
  • using the computer programs I have, like EQ6 and Wild Ginger (assorted programs!)
  • drafting using the CAD program on Wild Ginger
  • exploring EQ6 applique (there is a ducky quilt in there for my youngest, just waiting to be created, I am sure--and I have the book)
  • using the embroidery machine!
  • trying out different fibre techniques like cutwork, fibre etching, and thread painting (on garments, and on quilts)
  • exploring dying fabric
  • spinning (hmm--another way to accumulate stash....maybe not such a good idea)
  • creating different styles of dolls, with different jointing techniques and armatures
3. To balance the budget! (Self explanatory, I think).

4. To exercise regularly. I really liked the idea that another blogger had: for every hour of moving the body, I can spend $10 on my fibre hobbies. Since I belong to the gym, this shouldn't be hard to do--but....we will see.

I think this year should focus more on process than production. Last year--I accumulated and I produced! I accumulated lots of different 'techniques' books to play with, and I sewed a lot of fabric. This year, I want to play while I produce. Or, at least, attempt to play while I produce.

Stash I come.

December 30, 2008

The year in review:

As I review 2008, I realized something. This blog really isn't about knitting (or at least, not just knitting), or about sewing, or about doll making. It is about all of those things put together--the explorations of a fibre fashionista. So, in honour of reality, I have edited my blog name.

2008 was the year of change.

On the sewing front:

1. I completed the very last Timmel Swap! This was a huge 'stick to it' project for me. Not everything has stood the test of time, but more of it has than not. I still wear the black pants, and white shirt every month.

2. I won the stash contest at PR in July--with a lot of sewing. 151 m fabric sewn in two months. Lots of garb, lots of clothes. Not a lot of blogging.

3. I upgraded to PMB4, and got a good pair of pants in two mock-ups--this is a record. I have made many pairs of pants since then.

4. I did an entire year of 'stash diet'--and got very close to parity. Not quite under, but very close. Still aiming to see the sewing room floor, but not by 2009 at the rate I'm going. It is better, though.

5. I learned to make 'interior button jointed' dolls. Love Judy Ward doll patterns!

6. I completed the 'Inspired by' Contest and made a Kohr-inspired dress, using a whole number of new sewing techniques.

7. I managed my first contest on PR--the endless combinations contest. This one finishes in two days. I learned a lot, and hopefully will be able to manage another one in the future.

8. I completed 19 garments (so far) in my endless combinations sew along. Each of them included a challenge--a new pattern, a new/challenging fabric, or a new embellishment technique. Although the actual contest will finish in two days, my sew along will probably not finish until March. This kind of sewing is really inspiring to me, and has helped me really stretch my sewing muscles. A few of my garments will become foundation garments for my Artisan's Square Swap.

On the home front:

1. My oldest ran for the first time since she broke her femur (a year ago Thanksgiving) in May. She had a non-contact fragility fracture, and most of this year has been physiotherapy and doctor's appointments. She has been cleared (at least temporarily) of osteoporosis, but there remains a possibility she will develop early onset osteo, so swimming and gym are in all of our immediate futures. She no longer needs a cane, and mostly doesn't walk with a limp. 'May Musical Madness' (our church music celebration) was the first time I saw her run since the accident.

2. My youngest started grade 8, turned 13, and got braces and a boyfriend. Can we say: teenager?

3. I began to focus on developing really good classroom management skills, something that will hopefully reduce my stress level at work, and make it possible for me to continue the job with glee for another 25 years. I completed two courses this summer, as well.

4. Music: Piano, choirs, and organ lessons became my 'out of school parenting' life. It is kind of like being a hockey mom, without all the other parents to chatter with at the arena (or drive for you when you are tired). Three nights a week we are out of the house at lessons or choirs.

5. My husband finished his CGA and officially received his designation in March, after 5 years in school. I think he has more degrees than I have, now. LOL.

6. My oldest started grade 12, and is making plans for the rest of her life--hopefully Ontario College of Art and Design will be in her future, as that is where her talents and skills lie.

7. Nicole, not Patricia, was in a play--not just one play, but two plays! This is a major role reversal. Patricia was back stage for one of those plays; I also did some costume polishing and costume work for the local little theatre.

8. The Ringing Link, our national bell choir conference, occured in June--and was a huge success. My husband was part of the planning committee for the last two years, and it was a relief to get to the end. Both Lloyd and Nicole attended. The next one--all four of us will attend. Yes, I have been talked into adding another 'hobby'. It is a family thing--everyone, but me, plays handbells in my family.

All in all, it was a very full year!

December 16, 2008

Finally, A Knitting Post

It has been a while since I shared a pattern, so here is a stash buster for Christmas, with three options.

Stash Buster Throw, Baby Blanket or Prayer Shawl.

modified garter block stitch
stitch multiple of 6+3 sts

Easy version (easy to knit, harder to keep track of pattern, but I prefer this one).
row 1 and all right side rows: knit all stitches
row 2, 4, 6: *k3, p3* end k3
row 8, 10, 12: *p3, k3* end p3.
End pattern at row 6 to create garter stitch blocks at all corners.

Harder version (easier to keep track of pattern, lots of purl stitches!)
row 1, and all wrong side rows: purl all stitches
row 2, 4, 6: *p3, k3* end p3
row 8, 10, 12: *k3, p3* end K3.
End pattern at row 6 to create garter stitch blocks at all corners.

What you actually need:
32" long (or longer) circular needle, 8-11mm--guage is not important for this project, but mine was roughly 2 sts to the inch using four strands of wool and 9mm needles.
Lots of ends, small balls or single balls of worsted weight or sports weight wool, in a similar colour family (ie--all reds, all blues, blues and greens, tans/whites/browns). This throw works best if the yarns include at least 2 fancier yarns like eyelash or metalics, but, to be honest, anything goes.

For a prayer shawl
(roughly 20x60")
Cast on 99 stitches, using 3 strands of worsted weight or four strands of sports weight (or 2 worsted and two sports weight). Knit rows 1-12 four times, and then rows 1-6 once. You should end up with four and a half repeats of pattern (as in 5 garter stitch blocks across the short end of the shawl). As you finish with one yarn, tie on a new ball and knit in the ends as you go on the wrong side of the shawl. Since the balls rarely finish all together at one spot, this creates a lovely gradient of pattern across the shawl end to end.

Integrated Fringe:
If you wish to also have a fringe on both ends, as you come to an end, create a long loop (about 9 to 10 inches long) of all four strands of wool, and knot the loop close to the needle. Continue knitting. This is an ideal point to introduce any new wools if you care about too many ends.


roughly 45 by 68"
Cast on 111 stitches with four strands of sports weight yarn (or two worsted and two sports weight). Knit rows 1-12 nine times, and rows 1-6 once (10 garter stitch blocks across shorter end), creating an integrated fringe on each end as you knit.

Baby Blanket:
Cast on 63 sts using 4 strands of sports weight yarn and 8mm needles. Knit in pattern until desired length (square), or 10 and a half repeats of pattern. Make and attach long wool tassels on each corner of blanket. I like to use four strands of variagated baby wool, of the stuff with the silky thread through it to make this blanket. It is really soft and cushy, and a relatively quick knit. 4 jumbo balls will make one afghan.

December 14, 2008


Three bodies and limbs done for the dolls--ready for stuffing.

4 to go.

Getting there.

December 9, 2008

Choices for Christmas

Most of the girls are getting dolls for Christmas. To be more specific, this doll for Christmas, the Judy Ward's teaching doll. It makes a really nice doll, the girls loved them, and so these are high on the list.

The boys will get variations of one of these dolls from Carolee Creations

But, for my oldest, I'm thinking something more adult. Either Savanah, by Judy Ward,
or this very cool Penny Doll pattern called Claire

I'm torn--both are pretty, but Claire is just too cool for words with the jointing.

What colour are you?

Ok, I did it, for fun, and this was the result:

What Color Green Are You?

You Are Teal Green
You are a one of a kind, original person. There's no one even close to being like you.
Expressive and creative, you have a knack for making the impossible possible.
While you are a bit offbeat, you don't scare people away with your quirks.
Your warm personality nicely counteracts and strange habits you may have.

December 8, 2008

Creating a Wardrobe with challenge

Swap has started (check it out on Artisan's square). I am thrilled Stitcher's guild is continuing with the Swap Contest tradition, started by Timmel fabrics (no longer in business, sadly). Each year, Timmel would have a Swap contest and add a twist. One year it was to include a reversible garment. Last year it was to create 3 different garments from one wardrobe pattern (that one was Hard! I was surprised how hard). This year, you have 6 months to make 11 garments: 6 tops, 4 bottoms and a jacket. (No dresses this year, unless it works as a top). Everything has to work together, and the jacket has to go with it all. This year's twist: your clothes have to fit your life and your body, as it is right now. Think: a week in the life of....

My challenge isn't to create a wardrobe in 6 months (LOL!!). One year, I made a full swap wardrobe, including embroidery, in 48 hours. 6 months is almost too long for me. My challenge is to get out of the 'really easy and fast to sew' box that I've lived in all my life, and try to include some more interesting and different techniques and ideas in my swap sewing. I am an intermediate sewer. I can do some more advanced techniques, but I don't enjoy the couture hand sewing that often goes with Advanced sewing. Now, my challenge is to stop making everything the same, and to try something new. And since I want to see the sewing room floor by 2009, it is time to sew.

I have a pattern stash that nearly fills a pattern drawer unit. I have an embroidery machine--and a whole bunch of discs. And a lot of threads. And, all the stabilizer I need. I have shiva sticks, and have only used them once. When I won the stash sewing contest, I got some really interesting items that I need to use, including fibre etch. I have a number of different computer programs, including a quilting program that is fascinating. I have design imagination, and sewing pattern drafting knowledge. But, when do I actually force myself to go through the process of using it all? When have I experimented with all this new stuff? When have I worked my way through making it all work together lately?

So, my personal challenge with endless combinations and swap this year is this: to use a new technique, a new patterns, or new and challenging fabrics with each garment I sew.

Endless combinations review on Pattern Review

Endless Combinations Sew Along

I am currently moderating the Endless combinations contest on pattern review. Anyone who knows me knows that this means I won't be able to win the contest. It was a big choice to give up on the chance to win, but without a moderator, the contest doesn't run. So, I offered to moderate, started a sew along to satisfy my sewing urges, and I am stash reducing as we speak. All told, I believe I'm up to 14 items so far--and I haven't changed the serger to white (or red) yet. I am aiming to see the floor of the sewing room before 2009. My conservative estimate for sewing is about 60m to go before it will all fit onto my industrial shelves.

Hmm, 60m, less than 20 days!?

Ok, realistically, probably not going to happen--but, I am going to make a valiant attempt anyway.

For those who haven't heard of Endless combinations, it kind of works like this: sew one thing. Sew something that goes with it. Sew something else that goes with one of those two items (or both!). And just keep sewing . And sewing, and sewing, and sewing....

October 13, 2008

Making it actually fit you

Sewing, like knitting, is sometimes a real adventure in fitting. Even if your sewing is impeccable, if the garment doesn't fit you, it doesn't look good. A simple thing like fabric stretch and hand can really compound the issue. I'm sure we have all gone through this scenario--like the pants in this fabric, but in this other one, they bag to my knees.

Christine Johnson, a knitwear pattern designer, has actually produced a handy little page to help with this problem, based on ease and stretch of fabric. After thinking these things through, you pick your pattern size (or, adjust up and down if you are working with your own tnt wonders) based on the final fabric measurements to give you the ease, and fit, you desire. Check it out:

Perfect sizing worksheet

October 4, 2008

Grocery Bags galore

Have you ever wanted to have a bunch of reusable bags, but didn't want to advertise for a store? Sewing Pattern Review sponsored a grocery bag contest--which I didn't even enter--but it inspired me to post some neat links for making grocery bags.
You can check out the contest entries here:
grocery bag contest gallery

Sewing Links to check out:
There are a lot of different types of bags and links posited on the net. I gathered some of the more common ones here, sorted into basic shapes.

1. Just like the plastic grocery bags:
If you like the plain old 'just like the store's plastic bag' here are two tutorials, and a pattern.
This one gives you the pattern:
Indistructables grocery bags

This one uses a plastic bag to make the pattern:
Lunch bag based on plastic grocery sac

Burdastyle has a free pattern, similar to the traditional plastic bag, without the pleat at the bottom. You need a free membership to download the pattern, but after that you can play play play:

2. More like the paper bags:
This is a larger, traditional style carry bag. There is no seam on the bottom, and the cut outs along the fold provide the gusset. Handles are added to the top, or you can use other stuff you have around. I have an old, free, pattern from McCalls (probably given away in the early 80's) for a bag very similar to this one.

Here is another traditional style bag by creative thimble, with long reinforcing handles:

This bag pattern includes the traditional 'New Englander's Contrast bottom', my preference for the cottage.

This tutorial provides a very similar style bag, but with integrated, square cut out handles, that are reinforced by the extra fabric.

A number of patterns use actual paper bags as their pattern base. Sadly, some people like to take other people's work, and attempt to copyright it as their own. If you are basing your bag on a paper bag from the store, the pattern should not be your copyright--the shape was developed by someone else. Don't, for heaven's sake, use a paper bag from the store and then threaten litigation if someone else posts something similar (check out Jan Andrea's bag, and you will understand my vent). Many very smart people have posted versions of this bag. The person who developed the original grocery sac should really get the credit for this, now traditional, shape.

bag 1
bag 2
bag 3

3. And now, for some different shapes:

Check out this curved base grocery bag, with the comfort handles:

Or, this one, with a circular base from the Selvedge magazine by the Linnet Co.

Or this absolutely gorgeous quilter's Schlep bag, that is like a puzzle, done in squares:

Or this one, which is kind of like a grocery sac, with the handles turned:

And, the ultimate--a grocery bag, crocheted from recycled 'yarn' made from plastic grocery bags.

September 28, 2008

What inspires you to knit or sew?

Why do we create? What inspires each of us to knit or sew, or even to write about it to the world? As my daughter is beginning her AQ course in painting, and possibly in scultpture, too, I am wondering about the creative process. What is it that keeps us going, beyond all odds, to actually finish a project? I think there is something inate about being a creator--that spirit that says to create is simply part of each of us. Some express it in words, some in music, some in the gift of hospitality, or in interior decorating, or collecting dolls or computers. Some express it in fibre--knitting, sewing, sculpture, embroidery, cross stitch, all of them are expressive arts. Some of us express it in costume, either wardrobe or stage costume. Some in quilts. But I think that the spirit to create is always present.

At the moment, however, mine has been stretched out, and is not enthused about much of anything.

To try and jumpstart my mojo, I joined the PR Pattern stash contest. This one is a 'make any pattern from your stash' (one point per new pattern) contest that runs until the end of October. I know I won't win. I think I got 'sewed out' this summer, so I am just trying to get myself back into the sewing mojo by joining. I would be happy with myself if I made just two patterns from my extensive stash. My only problem, however, is that I have to pick something to start with, and I have too many choices.

In my head, I understand that good art, like good costumes, start with a basic underlying structure, and that the structure frees the artist to become very creative. Form follows function, in a sense. Perhaps this is why 'wardrobe planning' is so seductive--it is sewing within a structure of colour and shape, for the reality of your lifestyle (or the lifestyle that you wish you had!). But, right now, my planning is a jumble of patterns in a bucket, with no underlying structure to help me focus. Pick a new pattern doesn't seem to be enough structure for me--there are too many things that would work.

Maybe that is why the 'progressive wardrobe' idea is calling me. This will be the next contest in PR , and it will run November and December. From what I understand it will work like this: make something, and then make something else that works with it. And keep going. The person with the most items made that work together at the end of two months wins. Well, actually, everyone wins because you end up with a wardrobe that works together when you do this. Somehow, this approach to sewing appeals to me right now, the organic planning of making things work together, progressively. Pick a pattern or two that will work with the insane stash in the basement. Work with only a few colours. Make each new item work with at least one item from the wardrobe (new or previously made). And just sew for the fun of it.

August 23, 2008

Thoughts on Sewing a Wardrobe

It is that time again--back to school time. I'm thinking about sewing a wardrobe (of course), but I wonder if I want to change my look a little as I go back to school. So, I was looking though old things and links and came across a few really good ones, that I thought I could pass along.

This magazine is fun to read, although it (sadly) isn't published very often. The pdf to look at is the first one on the list: Possibilities (a wardrobe for a trip). They work through a trip wardrobe, from idea to final pictures, using all Loes Hinse patterns, of course. I don't have an opinion on the patterns; I haven't tried them yet. But the concept is well thought through, and they discuss 'sewing challenges' like making patterns work with not quite enough fabric. The clothes are dressy casual, more in keeping with my lifestyle as a teacher. The concept is well executed. All the magazines are worth a look, but this one really stood out as 'good for a beginner' to start with, so they can see a wardrobe sewn from idea to conception.

Some of Diana's ideas in Wardrobe Magic are pretty standard, as far as wardrobe planning goes, but they are practical and well worked thorugh. She does go into 'dressing for your life' using a good planning model in wardrobe magic. I thought it was a good book.

Her Business Wear Magic e-book, however, is worth its weight in gold. It is the only book I have ever seen that discusses how different types of jobs have different types of wardrobe needs, and how to plan a capsule wardrobe for the different types and levels of jobs. It really hit the spot for me. As much as I love suits, I don't wear them in my job. They aren't appropriate at all for my job, unless I'm going to an interview. This was the first place I had ever seen a practical approach to wardrobe planning for someone not in an office. As well, when my computer died, taking everything into the great beyond including the ebooks I had just purchased, Diana kindly allowed me to re-download, something I totally appreciated at the time (and still do).

Summer sewing

It is a week before school starts, and I have to wonder where the summer actually went. Well--into a course or two (special education 1, and a really great classroom management course by Harry Wong, that is available on line here: which I am almost done).

That would be most of my summer (if not all of it). Except, I sewed a lot of stuff this summer. I actally won the 'Stash Contest' at Sewing Pattern Review, which was fun. The contest was to sew as much fabric from your stash as you could in 2 months (June1 to July 31). I sewed 151 m, not counting 3 suits, in that time. It was fun but challenging. My computer also died, and was replaced in that time, which was not fun. Particularly as all the pictures for the contest were on the computer at the time.

DD2 is modeling a 'fairy skirt' from the Fairy Skirts workshop we ran at Faeryfest Guelph 2008--we made 100 kits of various fabric, and had 21 kits left at the end of the weekend. Each skirt took 1 yard of elastic, and 8-12 triangles of fabric. Parents and children sat on the lawn around the tent and threaded assorted fabrics onto their elastic, and they looked beautiful.

I also made garb. Lots of Garb. Garb for 2 men, and 3 ladies for Pirate Fest 2008, and faires and capes (3 of us). Here is Patricia modeling her underdress and skirt for Pirate Fest 2008. The skirt is two lengths of fabric. The sides are sewn together up to about 8 inches from the top. The front and the back are then pleated onto separate ribbon waistbands that tie around the waist (first back and then front). The cream 'dress' is a period ladies undershirt that I made from a great tutorial pdf, that I found here:

I made 3 of them, and plan to make more. The third one was challenging, as I got down to the end of my cotton fabrics and we had to deconstruct a roman toga to get enough fabric for the third one. This would be an ideal gift nightgown, actually--it is totally adjustable, and essentially one size fits all. I made a mistake on the third one, and used the full 45" width of fabric for the body, and it worked really well. So, I am not sure I would cut any fabric down to 36" wide again.

My niece came to visit, and we used up almost every piece of tulle I had in the house making three 'no sew' tutus. These were totally wonderful, and aren't hard to make. I got the idea for them here: but I essentially just made them up as I went. It took the three of us one whole morning (and a lot of strips of tulle about the width of my hand, 4" wide) and a waistband of elastic to get this result:

Patricia discovered quickly that the fairy skirt was cute over top of the tutu. She even thought it made a great fairly cape around her neck.

To finish off the sewing, I also did skirts. The plan was to make three skirts, one for each girl and one for the younger sister of my niece, but I miscalculated a lot, and only ended up with two skirts, one of which barely went on my niece's size 0 hips! I used an e-book from you can make this to start:

The little one is the skirt I made following the instructions; the longer one is the one I made trying to 'upsize' the skirt instructions. Not quite the same look, but it is very fun. It fits me, and she loves it. I'm going to try again, this week.

I would recommend any of CarlaC Dolly's e-books. I have 3 now, and they are very clearly layed out, and the results are fantastic. I love her instructions, and I really wish they came bigger than a size 8!

Other than that, I didn't do a thing all summer.

Last, but not least, I started cloth doll making. I have made dolls before. I sold Raggedy Anns when I was a teenager. But I got interested in some cloth doll making when I saw a link for a totally cloth ball jointed doll by Judy Ward. Check it out here:

But my skill is nowhere near this doll yet, so I started with her Teaching Doll pattern here: . The doll is very cute when finished, and was a popular gift. Here is the first 'body'. Check it out--it has ears!

January 23, 2008

Tshirt nauseum....

I am whining. I now don't like making muslins. I don't like it when they don't fit, and I don't like it when I don't like what I see in the photograph, even when I think it is close enough in real life.
I gave up on my PMB t shirt pattern. I couldn't make it fit. I tried. Really, I tried--but the side seams are too straight and the non-dart fit is just terrible on me. I drafted it with 1" of ease, and took out 4" total at the bust before I gave up, and switched to a different pattern. I've had this problem before--not often, but often enough that I get frustrated with the program, and switch to something else. Usually, it gets 'closer' than this, though. Not perfect (perfect is a pipe dream--I would actually settle for a more shaped side seam, however). To be totally fair, I did not use Curves to draft the tshirt pattern--and I probably would have gotten better results if I had started there because it does start with a more shaped side seam. But, honestly. As close as this is, it is just not good enough. I feel frumpy in this--and considering that this is muslin number 5 (or, was it 6?), that is not good enough. It does get all my stash sewn, but not one of those muslins is actually wearable in real life. I even made a slightly see through one that, well, someone else will be happy wearing.
So, I switched to a different pattern. A free, downloadable pattern from Burdastyle( the Lydia pattern, which is a basic, long sleeved tshirt with a scooped neck with facing. I cut it a lot smaller on the shoulders (a 38) and a 42 on the sideseams. I shorted it a lot--the standard petite changes, including above the armhole. The first muslin was pretty close, except it was about an inch too wide all the way down the front. I used it to mark neckline choices. The second muslin was wearable, and became a (now missing in action) mock turtleneck tshirt. It was really stretchy fabric, though, not really a good muslin kind of fabric, but it is comfortable and I like wearing it. It was one of those 'I need to make something wearable' desperation pieces.
This is a picture of muslin number 3, made of a definitely NOT stretchy knit. It has no give whatsoever, but it was in the stash, and I am using up the stash. This picture of the front without sleeves or facings or hem is a lot better than the pink one. I still need a sway back adjustment, and some more hem leveling (mostly in the back), but this is a lot better than anything I got from my pmb pattern, sad to say.
Still, I don't like the process of muslins, particularly when you don't have any more muslin, and are on a 'sewing diet'. On the good side, I now have 5 empty cardboard bolts. At this rate, I will sew down the piles around the shelves by March Break. I have a couple of tshirts that fit well enough to wear in public. Not perfect, but close enough. And, this is close enough that I can sew some of the other fabric that I want for my Swap, after a couple of more muslins. But, I hate muslins. My black bag for Salvation Army is getting full.
Maybe, just maybe, I will get a few tshirts that I like out of this course. I finished this one into a scoop neck, cap sleeved tshirt for working out in. It fits well enough for that. I figure another two or three muslins will do it. But, I am tired of making muslins that are not even suitable for the black bag of doom! Eventually, I will be making up some doubled front tshirts for my Timmel Swap, when I finally get a pattern that I am happy with. I have a couple of nice strech laces that could use two layers in in the front and back. I also plan to make a nice crossover top that ties on one side from another stash fabric. I have plans. But, my plans did not include making 14 muslins before I got a good enough tshirt pattern! Ugh.

January 19, 2008

New Year's resolution--what resolution?

I had this bright idea that I would stop buying fabric and start sewing more, and so reduce my stash. Well, the sewing is happening, but the not buying--I laugh in my direction. (My husband does not.) I lasted 19 days. Today, I came home with 6 m pink linen/cotton that matches my swirl print dress, a wild purple/teal/grey/black knit for a cross-over top, a pink and white stretch gingham that matches the pink linen, and the rest of the bolt of the the navy stretch to complete my navy suit. I have worn those pants a lot, and really want to have a proper jacket to go with them.

On the good side, I am sewing more. This week, I sewed 12 head kerchiefs for my daughter's pirate party, a few more corn bag covers, and 6 t shirt muslins for my t shirt course. So, I am sewing some of it up, and you can almost put the fabric away on the shelves (which is really the objective of the exercise). I sewed up two fancied up duvet-type quilts, from my thinsulate stash, and a lot of fabric. That used up at least 14 m of fabric, since I made some matching pillow cases for the duvets.

Patterns, though, are my downfall. I purchased 7 new patterns last night. That and the half price of the clearance price on the Fabricland sale for members day. I only spent $38 for my four pieces of fabric, so it was worth the trip, because I think I now have everything I need for my wardrobe. Not that you ever really have enough fabric for your wardrobe. But, I do want to actually be able to sew it up, and put it all away, too.

One of the patterns I purchased was this Vogue:

I'm thinking that this might be the jacket for my Swap, in the pink linen, underlined with pink batiste. Not sure, but I really like the jacket, and I have lots of those buckles in my stash.

The next challenge: to see if I can actually go three weeks without shopping at all. Maybe then I will really get some sewing done.

January 14, 2008

Swap Part 1--The Wardrobe pattern bits

I decided to sew the wardrobe pattern pieces first, to get them out of the way since they would require the most fitting. Here are some pictures:

Top 1: Black bathing suit lycra print, with some glow in the dark grey that is barely visible in the picture. My copious stash is visible in the background, bolted and sorted by person/colour group.

The black sparkle top is a Swap wardrobe 'extra' at this point--it is a painted on sparkle slinky that is really comfortable to wear. I wore it to a party on Saturday night, with the pants and a sweater. Comfortable, and pretty. I may wimp and use the sweater as my 'bought' piece, since it works with everything so far. We will see.

The dress is a wild print, edged in my black stretch lace that is becoming my 'domino' element. The black and white top has it, too, around the neck.

The black slinky pants are done, but in need of more than a hanger shot. They turned into a frankenpattern more than anything else. I made the pattern into a one seam pant with no side seams, since the fabric was slinky, and it is just too easy to get the shrinkage issue in the seams of slinky. The bolt of teal on the bottom of the image is the next fabric I am thinking of using, along with plum purple, black crepe, white slinky and white stretch lace.

Last: a tip about hemming the dress:
The Jalie crossover top pattern suggests hemming knits by folding in the traditional hem manner, and then stitching it using a wide and long zigzag stitch that just barely goes into the folded edge. I honestly thought they were pulling my leg--but I tried it, and it looks great, my machine doesn't stretch out the hem on slinky fabrics. On my Bernina, I set the stitch width to just over 3, and put the needle position to the far right hand side, stitching barely into the fold of the fabric. With a perfectly matching thread, you really cannot see the hem. Cool. I always wanted to know a better way to hem slinky.

January 13, 2008

New Year's Resolutions, and SWAP

I've been doing more sewing than knitting for the last month or 'sew'. The Timmel SWAP has started, and I've been preparing , and now sewing, for that since about the middle of December. Eleven garments (1 jacket, 4 bottoms, 4 tops, 2 dresses) cut and sewn between January 1 and April 11. Then, pictures have to be taken and submitted. There is a possible prize, but everyone who makes it to the finish wins a pattern--that is my goal right now. Well, that and a finished wardrobe that actually works for my lifestyle, and my colouring.

Some links to check out about the SWAP concept:
SWAP sewing information from Timmel
The article that stared it all
More wardrobing articles

The actual sewing doesn't stress me out as much as the story board plan and the final pictures. Story boards are supposed to keep you focused on the task at hand, producing a wardrobe that works well together in colour, fabric and shape. These ladies have developed the story board to a fine art, using photo-shop and other programs to make beautifully intricate boards. They are posted to admire here. I've planned and changed at least 4 versions of my wardrobe, but I am slowly but surely sewing something, so hopefully by the end of February, I will have a more settled plan of attack. The more low tech board appeals to me right now: fabric swatches, patterns and hanging jewelry, pictures of shoes and handbags that go with the swap, etc. pinned onto a plain cork board. At this point, I would get too involved in the planning, and not spend enough time just sewing. With 9 weeks to go, that could be a problem.

There is always a twist to make SWAP more challenging. This year's twist (making 3 different garments from one 'wardrobe type' pattern) did stress me out (thus the 4 versions problem) until I found this Maggie London pattern from Butterick. I waffled about a lot of other patterns, but this one is cute, current, and works with my body shape and current lifestyle, always a plus. Dressier wash and wear is good.

So far, I have made the top, dress, and kind of morphed the pants pattern into a one seam version. It took a bit of work to make it look flattering below the knot. There is a lot of extra fabric in the 'knot' portion of the top and dress that give you this belly pouch if it isn't removed. You can see it, slightly, on the model, but it is pretty clear in the line drawings. I took the extra fabric out. It took a couple of muslins to get the fit right, but once it is, you can just sit and sew. I think the pattern is worth working at to get it right, particularly since it does come in a wide size range, and larger ladies have challenges finding great patterns like this, but others might find the process of multiple muslins frustrating.

What is making SWAP more challenging is that I have decided to use STASH. In fact, I have gone on a fabric buying semi-moratorium. I had to go on a moratorium, since I'm having trouble walking in the sewing room. I have to sew 10 items before I can spend $20 on anything sewing related. My husband suggested that I use the ratio of $1/m fabric used up (which I might actually try, we will see). I'm hanging out for $2/m, which is the cheapest replacement cost, but the point is really to use what I have with is copious. Overflowing beyond reason. I refuse to count up the number of meters of fabric I actually have; other sewers do not have rolls of lining hanging around, and each of those rolls has more than 100 m lining on them. So, no counting until I can actually see the shelves, not the piles in front of the shelves. This means I have to use up the piles lying around the room, which is good. The other part of this moratorium is that every 3rd garment or item has to be for someone else. I sew a lot for me--this is forcing me to share the wealth.

I'm also taking the 'Build a better T-Shirt course' on Sewing pattern Review. I will be able to use the variations from my t-shirt in my wardrobe, when I get something that fits. I used all my muslin up yesterday trying to get my 'pre-T-shirt muslin' to fit correctly; I went through 5 m of fabric on just muslins, yesterday. Now I'm working on fabric 'bits' that might work for the pattern, but they aren't muslin. I think I have a 'woven t-shirt muslin' that works that I can post to the class board (or at least, this muslin is a lot closer than the first 4 versions, anyway). But, it isn't really getting my SWAP sewing done.