Be-Laboring a Long-Sleeved Swimsuit

Almost Labor Day with a semi-remnant project for the beach or pool.

Semi-remnant because although I bought a big length of what they call “fashion fabric” to experiment with, I did snag a remnant for the swim suit lining:

power mesh

Power mesh remnant from JoAnn’s

Sunburn is not the happy-go-lucky inconvenience it was in our childhoods; now it’s being recognized as a precursor of deadly, disfiguring skin cancer. My dermatologist says that you need to wear sunblock if you’re going from the house to the car in your driveway. Rash guard shirts or other cover-ups are becoming required swimwear, as you can see on several sites: Lands End, Orange Blossom Brand

My DD, who’s endured many punishing sunburns in her lifetime, expressed a desire to have a swim suit with some serious coverage. Not sure if she likes the loud flashy fabric I chose, but this is what I came up with:

long-sleeve swimsuit

long-sleeve swimsuit

At first, I had planned to incorporate a bra into the long-sleeved swimsuit, because (by amazing coincidence) I found just a bra top on sale at the Lands End web site for a cheap deal. Her size is not one you find every day, so I snapped it up.

swim suit top

bargain top

At some point in the project, I decided not to sew the bra into the shirt, in case she didn’t like the fabric, or in case she wanted to wear the swim suit top as just a shirt. For now, if she wants, she can wear it under the shirt and we’ll see if any adjustments to the fit need to be made.

Here’s a <a href=”http://Written_8_27_15%2C_7_36_AM“>breakdown of where the pattern pieces came from. Not sure if that link is going to work; I tried using Penultimate and it’s all different than it used to be 😦 Major learning curve and still didn’t get it to do what it used to do so easily: save a sketch into your photos.

But if the link doesn’t work, I used part of 3 different Jalie patterns for this project; the top and sleeves from a leotard pattern, the midriff from a tankini pattern, and the bottom from a swim suit pattern.

Have a great rest-of-the-summer and save your skin!

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Project Remnant Redo’s Muse

room

office, oasis, studio, space, with cat

This week’s WordPress photo challenge is “Muse.” My muse is most often Grayzie the cat, sleeping there in the chair. I take more pictures of him than anything else, mostly because he’s so darn a-muse-ing. But hey, as far as muses go, this recent redo to my sewing room/home office has provided lots of creative inspiration.

I don’t have a “before” pic to show you, and if I did I might not post it because I don’t want to see it later as a Hoarder’s Worst Nightmare …

But it is a remnant redo project, too. My old desk, which was attached to the armoire there on the right, stretched to the corner then right-angled in an L shape along the back wall. That window on the right wall was almost completely blocked by the back of the desk, which had a shelf unit for CD’s, storage of all sorts. On top of the desk shelf were stacks of books, and baskets on top, which went almost all the way to the top of the window.

Proponents of feng shui might say that you should never have your desk facing the back of the room, you should have it situated so that when you are seated at your desk, you can see the door when someone comes in. But notice, there is a sunburst mirror on the wall, so that when I’m seated at the desk I can check the mirror and see if someone is sneaking up on me through the doorway. Plus, I can open the blinds and see the beautiful neighborhood while I’m working, which gives me a new sense of expansion, as if I’m part of the outside world as well as operating inside my cave of creativity. The best of both worlds…

The desk had a nice faux-granite top that was hard and sturdy. But the rest of it was particle-board with a paper-thin veneer on top, and when I moved it here, it didn’t survive the trip very well. Many of the bolts that held it together got jostled and ripped out chunks of particle board, so DH had to rig it with many shims and clamps and such. I actually worked at the desk for over a year, with a big pipe-clamp stretched across my keyboard from the window to the end of the armoire. If I ever had to open the armoire to retrieve something, my keyboard tray would fall to the floor with a loud, agonizing crash.

What I added:

3 filing cabinets

shelf even with top of armoire, moved plastic file boxes to this shelf

a new store-bought keyboard tray (hasn’t been installed yet)

new plastic chair mat

new ink for printer that has been spewing out documents in shades of pink lately

3 shelves and brackets on back wall (some of the brackets we already had)

white spray-painted cans on lower back shelf (cans were former Christmas gifts of popcorn or cookies or butter-rum life-savers)

corner shelf DH put together from desk remnants and spray-painted white

a new Clear Sounds phone DH got me from FTRI

 

In some ways it’s like a kindergarten classroom*, with “stations” for each activity: sewing, cutting, serging, embroidery, quilting, drawing, painting, photography, jewelry-making, knitting, other crafts, writing, the volunteer work that I do, genealogy, processing mail.

*This thought is distilled from my memories of a couple of organizational books by Julie Morganstern.

There’s a bookcase over to the right of the armoire, now filled about half and half with fabric and books. Why have books stacked up all over when they could be in the bookcase where they belong?

Grayzie loves the new redo. He has plenty of serene new surfaces to lie down on, and when he gets bored he can jump up to the serger table and mangle all the thread paths for a fun activity. And how quick can my hand travel across the room to his furry neck? J/K, he’s my muse.

Reviewing The Diamond Machine

sewing machine Designer Diamond

Husqvarna Viking Designer Diamond

Do you also love machines? My DH is an engineer, and he’s ALL ABOUT machines of every description. I was at one time in my life a mechanical draftsman, and I loved taking things apart and drawing all the parts. I don’t do that with my sewing machine, but I don’t mind talking about the machine, its quirks, and what I like and don’t like about it. So I’m back to participate in Sew Mama Sew’s

Sewing Machine Reviews

What brand and model do you have? I traded my Husqvarna Viking Ruby up for a Designer Diamond near the end of last year (2014).

How long have you had it? I’ve had it since the end of October 2014.

How much does that machine cost (approximately)? Roughly the Kelley Blue Book Value of a 7 year old Cadillac CTS.

What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)? Quilting, machine embroidery, apparel, fleece, swimwear, bags, anything I can.

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get? At least once a week, sometimes every day

Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name? Love it. I learn new things all the time. I started with Husqvarna Viking’s embroidery-capable Topaz model, traded up to a Ruby, now to a Diamond. I think my experiences with the previous models were excellent preparation for my current usability of top-of-the-line Diamond. It has so much more help available online and through the machine’s onboard computer screen. The shop I bought it from offers free, in-depth training classes for buyers of this model and others.

What features does your machine have that work well for you? One big difference is that during machine embroidery, using the Sensor-Q foot is recommended. It’s included with the Diamond purchase, whereas I had bought it separately for my Ruby, but I only used it for quilting, not embroidery. I’ve had great success using it for machine embroidery, although it isn’t compatible with many of the embroidery hoops I already bought separately when I had the Ruby and Topaz, because the Sensor Q-foot has a big area around the needle and can bump into the corners of the hoop and throw off the design.

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine? The pre-wound bobbins I had stockpiled when I had my Ruby, don’t work as well on the Diamond. I keep getting a message “Bobbin thread low” and when I check, it’s nowhere near low. I have better luck with cheap pre-wound Coats and Clark bobbins that are wound on paper spools that didn’t work at all on the Ruby, although they are the same size bobbins.

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why? Yes, because it is awesome. It will take me a whole lifetime to discover all the awesome things it can do.

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine? Price, customer reviews, customer service record of the vendor, availability of training if you need it, availability of service/repairs.

Do you have a dream machine? Yes, this one.

Bonus: Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped it on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper?, Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.!)? We want to hear it!

I thought about doing the ultimate trade-up but I was worried, considering the much greater cost. Would it be worth it? What about all the negative reviews I’d seen? What about the experience I had with the lesser model, the engine needing to be replaced, the long wait for the parts coming in? Then I got an email saying if I wanted to trade up, I could get a $500 rebate if I acted before the end of October. I thought, well, surely, I could get a decent trade-in value and the purchase price could be defrayed a lot…I did get a very good trade-in value. I checked around with several other dealers, both near and far, and found that while some aspects of the deal were near the same, different dealers can give you very significant discounts over others! I ended up going to the same dealer I bought the first two machines (and a serger) from. It pays to have a good relationship with your local dealer, I think. As for the negative reviews I’ve read, I think that because I’ve worked with the Topaz and Ruby, I am fairly well experienced as a user of Husqvarna Viking sewing machines so many of the quirks aren’t new to me and I’ve probably encountered and fixed many of them prior to owning this machine.

P.S. I thought I was going to add this to the Sewing Machine Review post from Sew Mama Sew; however, the link-ups were closed. If Sew Mama does a new Review for 2015 I’ll add it then.

So Much to Blog About

Been doing the Blogging 101 Course, trying to do new things for the new year…however, the assignments seem to be just the same as the ones for this course last year. I remember doing the same things…like this one, trying out 3 new themes.

Since I did that last year, I’ll just skip it for 2015. As I recall, during the assignment last year, I accidentally changed to a theme that they wanted me to pay for. I didn’t sign up to blog on a platform that would end up costing me money! Free I like!

Meanwhile, I finished a sewing project (duh, yup, almost forgot, this is a sewing blog!)

I worked on some uniforms for my favorite non-profit organization, Plenitud PR. The uniforms consist of shirts that have the staff workers’ names embroidered on the fronts and a mandala-shaped logo patch sewn on the backs.

logo patch

logo patch

Once I got used to my new machine and lined up all the shirts and their 3 different tasks to do in assembly-line fashion, it got better and better. I got great directions and suggestions from some of the staff, which helped a lot. Among us, we decided that black would be a good thread color for the text embroidery on the fronts, except for a couple of shirts that were very dark-colored. Carson liked the Clarendon font best of the 3 text fonts that were right on the sewing machine without having to download anything extra, so we went with that. All the shirts were different, so I hooped most of them with a 100 x 100 cm hoop (a few had large pockets that were tricky to hoop around: a 150 x 150 hoop worked for them). In some of the practice runs, a few problems cropped up, like major bird-nesting underneath, causing some of the text letters to come out crooked or stunted in shape. So when starting the embroidery directly onto the shirts, I took every precaution. One or two tear-away stabilizer sheets went underneath, and water-soluble stabilizer (Sulky Solvy) went on top of each embroidery. I made sure to use the recommended sensor Q-foot that really bears down and flattens the area all around the needle, rather than the simpler R-foot I always used with my previous machines. The hoops for Husqvarna Viking sewing machines have marks inside at north, south, east and west (former mapper; for all others think up, down, right, left) so you can mark on the fabric with chalk or a temporary marking pen where they intersect, and that’s where you want the center point of your finished embroidery to fall. Some hoops have a plastic insert that has a little hole in the center, making it even more easy to line up the position of your embroidery. The machine comes with a bunch of little metal clips to put on the hoops, but I hate to use them; they tend to pop off and fly through the sewing room and get lost.

One shirt had a very large sectioned and zippered pocket right under where I wanted to embroider the name. At this point in the project, I felt like I’d seen every monkey wrench that could have possibly been thrown, so to head off any trouble, my idea was to fold down the top of the inner pocket and secure it with sticky-backed stabilizer so it wouldn’t flip up during embroidery and get trapped in the domain of an out-of-control bird-nest jungle.

machine embroidery sticky stabilizer

Sticky stabilizing possible bird-nest area

I tried this first with some Pellon sticky-back stabilizer. Unfortunately, this had been in my stash for a few years and the sticky back wasn’t very sticky at all. Luckily enough, some Sulky sticky-back stabilizer, also in my stash for a few years, worked like a charm.

machine embroidery stabilizer

Sulky is the superior sticky-back

How about you, do you have any new projects for the new year so far?

Remnants and Tween Skirts

Tweens, some may already know, are those girls who fall into the size range (as interpreted by the sewing pattern industry) of eight to sixteen. I discovered this when I looked at this cute pattern:

pattern

New Look pattern, sized for tweens

I thought the tee-shirt top, with its contrasting colors made up of small pieces of jersey knits, would adapt very well to remnant sewing, and I began foraging around the stash to find some suitable fabric options. But I actually had the skirts all thought out before I got to the remnant-project tops.

box-pleat skirt

gator colors

This skirt, not made from a remnant, but trimmed with orange satin ribbon leftover from another project, is the box-pleated view D in the pattern. A few weeks ago Joann’s had a sale of 4 t-shirts for $10, and I snagged a bright orange day-glow t-shirt (matchy-matchy with the ribbon trim) that can be worn with the skirt.

View C, a little flarey but without pleats (and thus ten times easier to assemble and sew) was also not made from a remnant, but the fabric was also a downgrade because of this glaring gouge it had in it:

hole in fabric

Yikes! a major flaw

Cute fabric + unsightly hole = discount for mama (heh, heh, heh…)

I had this great idea to put a fox’s head on the shirt instead of the Swarovski crystal star on the front of the pattern. But I also developed a reluctance to apply the crystals to this shirt. I decided to go to Plan B and put an appliqué on it. This one is called “peeking fox” and I found it at Embroidery Library, on sale, of course.

appliqué machine embroidery

applique

I foraged in the box of potential quilt scraps, and of course, I found any number of little fabric treasures that would do nicely. The granddaughter had been consulted prior about the color of t-shirt fabric she would prefer to go with the skirt, and out of pink and black, she chose the black (yes!)
Vilene bias tape

Sleeve seams sewn over Vilene bias tape

The remnant for the black t-shirt is rather slinky and I could imagine all kinds of stretching going on, hems not acting right, puckering behind my back, and to counteract that I stabilized the sleeve seams with Vilene bias tape, and all the hems with Emma Seabrooke’s Sew KeysE knit stay tape.
knit stay tape

knit stay tape

Hopefully that sew-and-sew will do right.

t-shirt and skirt set

t-shirt and skirt set

top and skirt

version 2

Tweaking a Travel Bag with Remnants

Sometimes I like to take off at the spur of the moment and pack a few clothes, not a whole big suitcase full.

travel bag

my old travel bag; it’s seen better days

This is my old travel bag. The side zipper is busted, and I’ve been pinning it together with big safety pins. I held it by the hangers that stick out the hole in the top: not too easy on the hands. But it did fold up triple and it could be bunched up and carried in a bundle.

Butterick pattern for travel bags

The pattern I (loosely) used to make a new one

I searched to find a pattern for a new bag, and I found this one right in my own pattern stash.

The outcome of any of my projects depends greatly on the fabric I have on hand. I would never, ever, consider making a travel bag like one in this pattern, and go out and buy brand new pre-quilted fabric at full cost. I had three rolls of pre-quilted fabric remnants in the stash, however, they were three different colors: brown, beige, and off-white. After letting the idea swirl around in my head for a long time, I figured I’d make a tri-toned travel bag.

Funnily enough, both of the largest-size remnants, the brown and the beige, were the exact same length, and it wasn’t the full length called for in the pattern. I saw two options: 1) make the bag shorter or 2) add a piece to the length of both pieces. The bag in the pattern had 3 large zippered pockets on the outside of the front piece. The back piece had a 48-inch zipper down the center of it.

I chose to add the two smaller pockets to the inside of the bag, and the larger pocket that stretched across the width of the front piece, to the front. That kept me from exercising option #2, because I didn’t have enough of the brown fabric to add to the length after I made the wide pocket. I also chose to make the front pocket after I started embroidering a motif on the front and realized I was putting it on upside-down. I stopped the embroidery and re-did it on the pocket, right-side up, then sewed the pocket to the front.

The bag in the pattern had side pieces that were 5 inches wide. I chose to add 3-inch sides to my bag because I didn’t want a big hefty cumbersome boxy bag, and I also didn’t have enough fabric to make it that thickness.

loop

turning the loop

I needed to make a loop for hanging the bag from a hook. This involved sewing a tube and turning it, which you may know is the utter worst thing I ever do in my entire sewing repertoire. To avoid making and turning more long tubes for the handles, I used a length of brown woven strap for the handles.

bag in progress

WIP

The pattern called for making a bias binding for the edges of the bag. I had 3 packages of blue denim bias binding that I got on a clearance sale; I hoped that would be enough. I darn sure didn’t want to make my own bias tape.

bias tape

Clearance bias tape

bias tape edging

binding the edges with double fold bias tape

Because I knew I wanted to use denim blue bias tape on a brown and beige bag, I wanted to find an embroidery motif that had some blue and beige in it to sort-of pull all the colors together (I hoped!)

tree embroidery motif

World Tree Embroidery Motif

When I saw this embroidered tree motif in green, it just looked like a tree. But when I used light blue for the leaves and beige for the branches and trunk, I realized the leaves of the tree make up a world map. Appropriate for a world traveller, huh?

back of bag

zip side

front of bag

front side, with pocket

folded travel bag

Finished and ready to go

Spending Memorial Day weekend watching war movies. Our prior generations saw it, lived it, we don’t want to forget it!

SHHHH! a remnant Quiet Book!

Fabric remnants: what do you do with all of them?

I made some Quiet Books for three of the youngest grandkids.

cloth books

Quiet Books

I did happen to find a pattern in the pattern stash.

Rather generic-lookin', isn't it?

Rather generic-lookin’, isn’t it?

I decided to change mine up from the one in the pattern. I made the pages out of a big length of muslin I had on hand. I used some of the ideas, changed some of them, and added some completely off-beat ones. [Hi Bob! 🐱 ]

cloth book

Tying and buttoning

cloth book

Pages from a book

cloth book

Zip up the corn

cloth book

One finished

cloth book

Walk the dog

cloth books

(Velcro bird sitting on candy eggs)

Hmmm, Cadbury eggs and it can be sort of an Easter treat…

Using up remnants, not just of fabric but remnants of notions, too: ribbon, zippers, buttons, fibers. They look a little bit goofy, but I had fun. I hope the little ones have some fun with them!

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