Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Living On the Dark Side

We in Dartmouth live life to the fullest. After all, you never know when a flock of geese will cross the street at the corner crosswalk to get to the greener grass on the other side. This is not the first time I've waited, and waited, and waited for the parade to pass.

I had a busy weekend. Retirement is the best!  First I made an excellent birchbark basket. It's excellent because the instructor really prepped all the hard stuff and make it all soooo easy (excellence nothing to do with me). I'm used to having to cut down the tree first, peel the tree, gnaw on the tree roots, etc. He made it a very relaxed and lovely day. DH used it today to pick lettuce.

Then we were at a car rally event on Sunday. It was a perfect day and I even got onion rings WITH my french fries. I love a flexible menu. 

But Monday was heavenly. I finished a new wallet and went to my first corset class. 

First, the wallet. It's the second in the Sew Sweetness pattern and it is just a bit more challenging than the first. As a series, these three patterns work well to build confidence and skills. I like the external phone pocket and the cash pockets. I used binding on the edges instead of  sewing the front and back together and flipping them inside out. I used a really stiff interfacing and turning the wallet inside out would not have happened. When your machine has all those decorative stitches and you need to topstitch everywhere, why would you go with a straight stitch? Have some fun!

Now, about corset class. It was 3 hours of mad measuring and calculating. We are drafting a Victorian corset from scratch and it was intense. I was off to the hardware store this morning for giant zip ties.  Now I just need to pick fabric. We will not be making a muslin. Shall I say that again? We will NOT be making a muslin - it goes direct to distribution. The pressure! However we do get to design in how much less waist we want. When have you ever had that opportunity? 

Today I forged on in my ADHD frenzy and finally put together a jewelry bag with my circular attachment. It is too cute for words! Here it is. I'll be posting a tutorial soon. Again, I went a bit wild with the decorative stitches. Why not?

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

A Purse!

Well, sort of. It's the first wallet from this pattern from Sew Sweetness. I made the last wallet before, but this month I want to do all three. Yah Purse Palooza! (click on the Purse Palooza button on my blog for lots of purse paloozling)) The first wallet was not what I thought it was.

It was much more! I didn't realize it had a zippered pocket on the back of a card holding side. That's so practical! The pattern is meant to be easy, but I found it a bit tricky, mostly because I didn't realize that there was a pocket, and then there seems to be an ambiguous thing with how the packet should end up - at least for me. Now, the instructions were excellent. I just needed another picture that showed that pocket finished. Also when the pocket is inserted between the two outer layers it seems to be free to go right or left. Many men would say 'Make up your mind! You'll be more comfortable.' I'll have to make a decision for next time and sew it down, so it isn't floppy when I unzip the pocket.

Of course those who know me are now emailing with "Did you read the directions?" They know me so well. I did too! Many times! That's how I figured out there was a pocket in the first place.

But don't get me wrong. I love this pattern. It's well designed and practical. I know the last wallet in the trio is excellent, so I'm looking forward to number 2.

One more comment before I leave the pattern. The pattern creates card pockets by cutting a single layer of fabric and turning down the top edge 1/4" and stitching. I prefer to cut the fabric so I can fold it in half, interface to the fold and use it double. No top stitching. It looks neater to me and the edge is straight. However I'm open to new things, so I'm really trying to stick to directions. I'll do that on wallet #2. This one has folded edges.  I'm weak.

Now, about my continuing search for the essential sewing machine features. Tonight I had to wind bobbins. The bobbin winder works on its own, like magic. When you put the bobbin in place a menu pops up. You can select the speed and then press go. It stops on its own. Love the speed control! I like my bobbins wound tenderly, stress free (me and them). Especially important when you are dealing with specialty threads. I also like the start/stop - no having to hold your foot down. I'd say this is a contender for my list of useful (but not critical) features. 

Then I had to topstitch some wallet pocket edges for wallet #2. As you pick your stitch the machine tells you what foot to use and if you need stabilizer. I never remember to change feet, and for the stitches I chose I needed to turn off IDT (dual feed). It makes sense when you see the needle moving in every direction, but without the foot change prompting I would have messed up.  Also I had used a fusible interfacing so I assumed I didn't need stabilizer. I was wrong! So all these little menu reminders are excellent. 

When I started to sew without stabilizer the fabric jerked around on me and the stitch was not spaced properly. I stuck some examining room paper under and that worked perfectly. However I have been told not to use it as it doesn't tear away cleanly. M is correct, and as soon as the right stuff comes into the store I'm getting some. It's cheap and cheerful. In this case the trapped paper bits will be out of sight.

I use decorative stitches for a lot of my topstitching. Try it. Every machine has some sort of wiggly stitches. It just adds a little something when a straight line isn't essential, but a stitched line is needed.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Biting The Bullet

Today I tidied my sewing room a bit, and made a huge commitment. I packed my faithful Pfaff 2048 away to the spear (correct spelling!) room. I have been turning to it rather than acclimating to the Pfaff Creative Vision I have on loan right now. I like the familiar. Learning curves take time. Well, I want to see what the CV has to offer, and that won't happen by ignoring it.

Right off the bat there are some slight annoyances. It doesn't take the same needles as the 2048 and I have a wonderful collection of Schmetz on hand. I have some of the required Inspira needles, but not a full complement, and I like to have my things ready at hand. The CV also takes a different bobbin. Now I need to work on that collection as well. It's a minor issue, but when I step out of my comfort zone I will grasp at any straw as I whine my way back. At least all my precious feet will fit.

I have the CV set up on a table on the other side of the room. The 2048 was inset in a countertop and surrounded by all the things you need at hand. The CV won't fit in the hole meant for the 2048, so I set up on a table on the other side of the room. I really love having my machine set into a counter with flat table support surrounding it. This puts the CV at a disadvantage. I will give it some time, but I may have to look at expansion possibilities over in countertop land.

Now, about the spear room. When we moved many years ago we bought 'used' boxes from our moving company and did our own packing. One of the boxes was labelled spear room, and after we got through the whole discussion on what that meant - we decided our spare room would be spear room forever more. I'm still looking for a spear, in case the box really meant what it said. You never know, and it would look nice up on the wall I'm sure.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Nesting and Gift Giving

Fall is here. The weather is occasionally nippy and the days are shortening. My garden has a 'done' look. At times like this my mind goes all nesty (spell check wants to change that to nasty) on me.

I started obsessively going through my yarn stash and the knitting needles are out. I have a scarf and a neck warmer done and I'm full tilt into a cute little shrug. All that amazing yarn I've picked up at various sales is meeting its destiny. Yah! The pompom scarf is an inch thick. The pompoms knit and lay on both sides. Plush!

Now, all these things are for Christmas presents. I make up a drawer full of things and then let the chosen pick what they like - or not, doesn't matter to me. This takes all the pressure off me regarding matching the perfect present to the recipient. I like to make things. Why take away the pleasure of that with the perceived pressure from the recipient? I also never worry about any of them getting a preview via this blog. None of them read my blog, ungrateful wretches.

And if one of them does, that lucky person may make the appropriate sucking up noises if they see something they like. One year I did that. I sent them all a picture of what was up for grabs and the best suck up emails got first choice. It was an interesting year! Giving should be fun. Make it so!


I've also completed a baby quilt for the nephew's latest bun in the oven. It gave me a chance to try out the prairie pointer tool and pinwheels and echo quilting. This quilting is starting to be more of a big deal. I am no longer content with stitch in the ditch. If fact, I don't even like the way it looks anymore. I can never stay in the ditch (it's the car driver in me) and I don't like those resultant wobbly lines.

I've never made prairie points before and was a bit doubtful that a (rather expensive) metal triangle was worth the money and fuss. So I tried making points without it first. You just don't get crisp, even points without it, and you do burn a lot of fingers. It really is much faster, accurate and totally worth the money, if you need to make more than a few points. From the baby's point of view, she/he now has something to play with and munch on in a pinch. I'm so thoughtful!

For those who don't know what a prairie point is, those triangle things are separate stand alone insertions, like little flaps. I will do a page on this quilt elsewhere in the blog soon. Please note - the triangles are all supposed to be heading in the clockwise direction. Oops. I knew that.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Me in Grey Pinstripes

I just finished this dress. I used a lovely grey pinstriped wool knit I got in Montreal this summer. The fabric has hardly aged a bit!

Again, I tried to follow the directions. Now, I've made Tilton dresses before. I was looking forward to it, and I'm very pleased with the way the dress turned out. It fits well (No thanks to the pattern there. I used a previously fitted T-shirt pattern from Jalie to set things up).

Knits curl. This dress has no hemlines or finished edges at all, and these edges need more thought and attention than the pattern suggests, methinks, as it suggests almost nothing. I found the least curly direction of stretch and cut straight across that to be the bottom edge of every tier. Only wear time will tell if that works.

The pattern has the bottom tier going the opposite way to all the rest. This is said in the instructions to be a way to stabilize the bottom edge. I didn't like the stripes taking off in a vertical direction. Every version I have seen in other blogs look a bit weird when they did that. It takes away a bit of balance, and I need to balance my top and bottom edges. I don't want a really skinny part down around my knees. I like how mine turned out.

I had been warned that this style ends up draping your body with many layers (thanks C!), and this can be a bit like an oven. Indeed you have a layer underneath from top to bottom and then layers sewn, overlapping to that base layer. Up to 3 layers. Hot! I also had that wool to think about next to my skin. I used a black satin tricot with the satin side facing in. It gives me a slip type lining. There's no need to use the same knit for that under layer. I'm surprised they don't suggest a tricot or stretch lining. You do need to be aware of stretch and matching inner and outer fabrics, but if both are fairly stable and you run some tests, you should be able to manage.

I also stitched the bottom hems together (tricot and knit) so the hem doesn't slip down. They are cut to be identical lengths, and you know that will never stay put. I used a tiny zigzag 1 cm from the bottom, and it's invisible. I did the same thing to the sleeves to give that edge some weight. As the sleeves were not lined, I used a 3 cm strip of tricot inside the bottom edge.

I was worried the sleeve armhole seam would be scratchy. I dug out a roll of stretchy tricot (Seams Great) that's meant to wrap seams as a finish. I've used it for easing in sleeves, but found it flimsy and fiddly to work with. Well, as it was meant to bind a seam I tried it. It actually goes on very well if you don't pull on it. You just lay half of it under the edge to be covered, and the other side rolls to the front on it's own. I zigzagged it in place and the seam is lovely and soft.

I don't like wide standard neck finishes. This called for a sewn on binding. The wool is a bit beefy, and I tested it out as the pattern calls for standard stitch, flip, stitch in the ditch. It looked like a tootsie roll. I stitched the neck binding right sides to the front, trimmed the seam allowance right down and flipped it to make a tiny, tight edge. Then I stitched in the ditch and slit the edge to release tension. I used the blind hem stitch so it stitches in the ditch and then makes a little wrap stitch around the collar edge. Very nice. You always have tension when you stitch in the ditch.  Why don't directions mention this?

 How do you like my new tags? They are woven and beautiful! They were under a buck each, and I think it's high time I had some. I may get a cheaper and different version for my more relaxed items. It's good to have more the 1 line. Karl has several, after all!

Here I am in my dress. Aren't I just the cat's meow?

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Purse Palooza

I have always loved purses, and Sew Sweetness is having a Purse Palooza this month. Check it out. They review 2 patterns each day, and have tons of give aways! I just need to make purses this month. They're getting me all inspired. I have dug out scrumptious wools and leathers, and lots of inspiration pictures. Now, I just need to get some of these quilts bundled up.

I was off to the Apple store today for phone lessons (not sure I like that new operating system yet). I met 6 other wonderful women, all with newer phones than mine. In fact I believe the oldest person there had the newest phone, and then it trickled down to me. It's amazing what we all use our phones for, and how practical our needs were. Other people messing with your phone seemed to be a common problem. Those with children seemed most put upon. So glad I didn't go that route.

Then I window shopped. I took my birthday watch to the Fossil store to see it's relatives, none of which had price tags. People! Really! So pretentious. I felt like a Facebook page there. The sales clerks 'liked' my glasses, my jacket and everything I touched. Purses seem to be very classic and unadorned this year. A delightful change. I just want to touch them all. Banana Republic had wonderful classic and wearable designs. It's well worth a look if you want to wear something that feels so nice, or if you are looking for sewing inspirations. Sew Lady Sew was there, sporting offspring and grand offspring. She was aglow with maternal pride. She should be. Until I noticed the sprout I had that daughter pegged for the non maternal type. She was beautifully put together and most composed. Most young mothers I see look like - well, young mothers. Actually, it was hard not to notice the sprout, as she was whizzed into viewing position by the proud grandmama. I don't know which one was cuter.

DH is sporting a new Tardis mug for his birthday. Although it says on the box it is official merchandise, I have trouble believing the Doctor approved anything that isn't dishwasher safe. We also went to see the new Rush movie. It's excellent. Although it is a car movie the 2 characters were the heart of the movie. Ron Howard does a lovely movie I think.

I love reading blogs and follow people or products I like. It gives you so much to think about and I learn things I'd never know about otherwise. If there is a contest to enter, I like to roll the dice. Well, I won! Clover Needlecraft (they also make my beloved yoyo makers) had an 'Upgrade your Stuff' contest and I scored a lovely pair of scissors in a leather sheath. They are the type that cut perfectly right down to the end. I tried them on buttonholes and they were lovely. I keep them in the sheath for protection for those sharp little points. Everyone deserves the best tools and should treat them well. Isn't that a lesson we all wish we had learned so much earlier? I wouldn't have wasted so much time and money trying to 'make do' with what I had instead of honouring the craft and getting what I needed. My husband's garage has good tools. I should too.

So I love my contest scissors, but they also threw in a Nancy Zieman pattern template for tablet totes and proper stiffener for building one. It's thin, light and tough. Looks like it will work very well. I'll be into that before Christmas. Everyone seems to have tablets now. I started another trend! Ipad owes it all to me!