For Me??? I Shouldn’t Have! :) and Weekly Photo Challenge: Warmth

I did a minuscule amount of holiday sewing, mostly for me. Why me?

1) I’m not offended getting a homemade gift 🙂
2) If I mess it up, I totally understand.
3) I, as giver, will not be hurt if I see that the givee (also me) has re-gifted the item to another person or institution.
4) I can chalk it up to experience.
5) I can chalk it up to having a bad day.
6) If it doesn’t fit, I can ask my daughter if she wants it. Also, she likes weird styles and things anyway.
7) If I’m going to spend a lot of time making something, at least I know I will appreciate that.

Star Trek fleece blanket

warm Star Trek fleece lap blanket

As you may know, I like to knit while watching TV at night. Of course I have other lap quilts and blankets, but this one, my gift to me, is special. Why special?

1) It’s fleece, very warm and fuzzy (my other usual TV-watching lap quilts aren’t fleece)
2) It has a TV show theme, ideal for…watching TV
3) I like to think it is the Original Star Trek. Actually, it obviously is the Star Trek animated series, which I like to think is based on the original Star Trek: William Shatner as Captain Kirk, Leonard Nimoy as Spock, etc. I love the new actors too…but the old school series shaped me into the adult I am.
4) It fits the area of me as curled up on the loveseat upon which I perch to watch TV and knit.
5) The fabric was a remnant, so 50% off the regular price.

Marcy Tilton Vogue V8497

Remnant Marcy Tilton top

Next is the remnant top I made for myself.

Vogue pattern

pattern

top

top

The pattern shows this Marcy Tilton Wearable Art top, three views, all made in a solid-color medium-stretch knit. My expectations from the pattern photo did not lead me to the top I created from this pattern. Why?

1) I used two remnants that have greater than medium-stretch quality. And for the neck band, I used a rib-knit, not a piece of the overall fabric. The two remnants I used have the same colors, but vastly different patterns. I wanted to make the fronts and backs half of each fabric, but I couldn’t because the back pattern pieces are longer than the front, and the fabric I used for the front wasn’t long enough.
2) The picture on the front of the pattern appeared to have the z-shaped seams lapped under. According to the directions, the seams are just sewn, leaving the edges on the top piece exposed to the elements. So after wearing, washing, etc., these unfinished seams will curl up. Also, according to the instructions, the neckband is only sewn on the bottom edge to the neck of the garment, leaving the top edge to fray, curl up, whatever. I didn’t like the look of it on my rib-knit band, so I sewed the top edge of the neckband down onto the bottom edge.
3) I do like the look on the pattern envelope, so I may decide to sew a solid-color top according to the directions some other time.

Meanwhile, other quirks I noticed with this pattern:

1) The directions tell you to glue the seams together with spray-on fusible adhesive prior to sewing or top-stitching. Why? It can’t be just to affix the seams together and keep them from moving while sewing, because you’re also directed to pin them together as well. And you’re still directed to stay-stitch the neckline, and to reinforce the shoulder seams by stitching them on top of a piece of tricot interfacing. I think the idea is that the knit fabric won’t stretch during sewing and therefore pucker, if it’s glued together.
2) I didn’t enjoy using the spray-on adhesive: it’s extremely messy and irritating to the skin around my fingernails when I’m trying to position the hems, etc. But I have to admit that the hems didn’t pucker, they stayed flat as could be, and I was able to use a nice top-stitch, and not the usually-called for serger cover-stitch hems. (Good because I hate to re-thread the serger).

spray adhesive

gunky spray adhesive

Speaking of hand-made, my friend Aura is fabulous at making beaded jewelry. Here are some examples of earrings she has made recently:

beaded earrings

Aura’s beaded earrings

Hope everyone is still basking in the light and warmth of happy holidays! For more Weekly Photo Challenge: Warmth ping here.

Summer Clothes, one from a Remnant

Subtitled: More clothes I’ve Made for Myself that I Wouldn’t Be Caught Dead Wearing…

🙂 Confession: I’m not the greatest seamstress in the world. One reason why is that I don’t get enough practice. And I’m very dyslexic when it comes to reading pattern instructions. I can read a line of instructions over and over again, and still not get it. I can grasp the idea if I have a picture to look at. Some patterns leave a lot out, either in the picture or the text. Perhaps early Alzheimers? No, I’ve always had this problem with sewing…

Maybe this goes back to my traumatic years as a junior-high home ec student. I think our teacher, poor Miz Thomas, retired or went into the nursing home after our class graduated. She certainly had a nervous tic and gritted her teeth all the time when we were on deck. But that wasn’t solely our fault; her daughter, Lucretia (I’m not making this up) was getting married and so she wanted us to go through all the trousseau-building exercises a debutante could possibly undertake in the late sixties/early seventies, along with dear sweet Lucretia, and to do it all up in style. We had to choose ourselves a silver, china, and crystal pattern for our own virtual registry. Miz Thomas did not like that I chose black crystal goblets from the Lenox catalog. From then on, she saw me as The Devil. The A-line skirt I made in class (well, to be honest, my mom finished it because I was totally inept) was one of the best articles of clothing I’ve ever owned. I chose the color (fire-engine red) and the fabric (a bottom-weight cotton blend that maybe had to be ironed a little?) and it fit me perfectly. Thus began my career of thinking up great things to sew. But unfortunately, my best-laid plans often (always?) fell short of perfection. Sigh.

Here is the remnant that started the Summer 2014 sewing binge:

denim remnant

stretch denim remnant

It’s a 2-yard, 60-inch-wide piece of stretch denim I got at a yard sale YEARS ago that was held in a retirees mobile home park. Retiree=hence, the very organized packaging in a labeled zip-lock bag. I needed to use stretch denim for this project, #113 trousers from Burda Spring 2014 magazine.
Burda trousers

Burda 113 Trousers

I finished them pretty quick, and they turned out fantastic except…they don’t fit me in the waist. I don’t know if I misinterpreted the sizing, if I gained way, way too much weight on my recent road trip, or if I neglected to add seam allowance (I thought it was supposed to be included in Burda’s printed patterns?)
trousers

Burda trousers

This is the blouse, or rather tunic (because it’s longer) I chose to make to match the remnant trousers. I bought the fabric at Joann’s (not a remnant) thinking I wanted some more feminine casual wear, rather than my usual sweat-hoggian t-shirts and cargo-shorts. The pattern is view A of Simplicity 2254.

tunic

Simplicity tunic

This also didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped. 😥 For the hem, I used my Blind Hem Foot. The results are less than perfect but with the busyness of the fabric pattern, you don’t see the blips too much.

And then there was this other outfit, also bought the fabric at Joann’s, a beautiful peach stretch cotton sateen for the pants, Burda 144 trousers, and a stretchy knit jersey coordinating print for the top, Very Easy Vogue V8534.

top & trousers

top & trousers

These pants fit very well, anyway. Stretchy, great length, taper in the legs, pretty color. Not sure about the top; it fits well but it makes me look like Shamu…I do have a back-up semi-sweat-hoggian tee-shirt that will also serve…

I snapped this of a woman passing by in Charleston when we were there…nice to see women in lovely summer dresses at work, out to lunch, walking around town…so feminine, so “Southern Living”…but for me to wear a dress somewhere casual other than church, doubtful!

Charleston

fleeting glimpse of Charleston woman passing by

OK, so I fixed the waistline: there were 4 rather large darts, so I re-made them each a bit smaller and added a piece of denim to the waistband, making it a few inches wider. The piping is a day-glo orange, I guess it looks white with the flash.

Burda trousers

finished trousers with piping

Attempted Betzina; I’ve seen better

For this week’s project I tried some (drum roll) fashion sewing for me. You go into the project imagining the final result will look good on you when you wear it. 🙂

The remnant to be used consists of a collection of notions left over from prior projects.

Old, old elastic and twill tapeThe 1/4″ elastic is quite old. The twill tape is from the year 2000. The fabric, I must admit, is newer and not purchased as remnants, although I bought a fixed amount and then didn’t have enough to make the project in long sleeves, so I settled for the short-sleeve top. The fabric is Dryflex high performance knit in 90% polyester and 10% lycra. My idea was to make some workout clothes.

I was seduced by a Vogue pattern sale to buy V1197, a “Today’s Fit by Sandra Betzina” design. I had never before tried the “Today’s Fit” line-up. Betzina offers a different sizing chart than the mainstream pattern companies, but I still can’t pigeonhole my dimensions into one of her sizes A to J. So, fitting was necessary. She has lots of instructions about how to alter the pattern. Hers is a very friendly narrative included in the pattern, although I am still too much of a novice to readily grasp a lot of it, and so the seam ripper and I became great friends during this project. From what I see on the blogs, lots of people who sew make a mock-up in a cheap fabric first, to see if it fits and if not, figure out what they must do to alter it. Once you get some patterns you like, just keep using them. Provided you stay the same size and shape, ha ha ha ha.

I discovered that Dryflex knit does not make a great medium-sized cowl neck with interfacing. Should have left off the interfacing and left it to drape as best it could. Also, the fabric did not take to Steam A Seam II iron-on hem tape, which she recommends using for all the hemming. And, I bought a taping/elastic foot for my serger to do the waistband, but it didn’t work ($30 down the drain). The double-needle hemming with woolly nylon thread in the bobbin was a total disaster. The waistband is about 2″ too big, although I promise I used my “true” waist measurement. Maybe the older elastic was a little too stretchy?

I’m glad that I did this;  it is undoubtedly part of the acre of cloth that Kenneth King (see the Threads web site) says one must destroy before they can get good at sewing and designing.

The microsuede project #2

I chose Marcy Tilton Wearable Art Vogue pattern V8599 to make the vest.  I know, my mom always told me, “Use Simplicity! The name, Simplicity says it all!” In my defense, the back of the pattern envelope said EASY/FACILE. At different points in the project, it hit me that “facile” rhymes with “imbecile” –but anyway, if this pattern is easy, I shudder to think of what

Vogue pattern

the advanced ones have in store.  Another bad thing–I got a pattern in a smaller size than I wear, because they didn’t have my size.  No matter, I figured I would make it for someone. Someone small. I only had 2/3 yard of the microsuede, not enough to make a vest for even the smallest of persons, so I needed to add some contrasting fabric. I chose a black rayon-type (don’t know, really) silky material with a raised rose-pattern all through it, which has been languishing in my fabric stash for years. Beautiful, but as Poison sang, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” and this fabric turned out to be no exception to the rule. Its cut ends wanted to ravel quickly, and it seemed to “grow” in length as I stitched it. Definitely a contrast to the microsuede, which was firm and very crisp.

The contrasting back

The pattern has LOTS of darts in the front and back. Pretty, and useful to add shape, but not such a great feature if you want to machine embroider on the front of the vest. Oh, that green velvet that you see on the back vent in the picture of the back? I thought it was black velvet. It looked black until I sewed it on there, then it was unmistakably green. And do you see the seam on the back of the vest, it’s got a Hong Kong finish! Method given in the pattern instruction! Those are little designer details you get in a Vogue pattern. I was exultant until I Hong-Kong-finished one of the facings on the wrong edge and had to cut it off when I graded the seam allowance. Sigh.

Machine embroidering

I decided to use 2 embroidery designs that came with my machine, a hummingbird and a flower vine. I always check in the Sulky Secrets to Successful Embroidery book to see what sort of stabilizers, size needles, etc. the authors recommend. They usually have a great write-up with pictures and explanations that I can use. However, I happened to put some sticky stabilizer in the hoop backwards, and forgot to score it and remove it. That turned out to be BAD news for the first motif. I ended up changing needles about 4 times, and the thread broke about 20 times.

Putting this fabric in the hoop was all right to do. You’d think it would get hoop burn, but no. The microsuede is very iron-able. Any wrinkles, etc., iron right out. Yay! But embroidering on top of multiple darts or seams is not recommended: skipped stitches, etc.

the garment is about 5 inches smaller than my mannequin

Hong Kong finished inner facings

view from hanger with scarf

If I knew someone who had a waistline measurement of 25″ or less, I might ask if the person wanted this, with or without the buttons I bought to put on.

Overall, it was a worthwhile project! Had I not purchased this pattern on sale at JoAnn’s for $3.99, the retail cost would have been $27.50. The microsuede would have been $21.99 per yard, but as you know, it was a remnant and therefore was half price. So including the fabric, fusible interfacing, thread, etc., I probably spent about $25 making this vest. As for the experience, worth it to me!  I like this quote by Kenneth D. King from the Threads web site:

“When learning the craft of sewing (which I believe is absolutely necessary in order to know what’s possible when designing), you should expect to destroy several acres of fabric before you get good. This is an acquired skill which can only be perfected by means of repetition—practicing over and over, learning from mistakes, learning when you can save something, and when you need to cut your losses and start over. If you are afraid to make a mistake, afraid to ruin some fabric, or afraid to waste some time, you won’t ever get really good at this craft. It’s the dues you pay for becoming proficient.

However, if you are willing to charge forward, cut into that fabric, try something different, and risk making a mistake, there will come one day when you realize that you’re sewing without that knot of worry in the pit of your stomach, and the process effortlessly glides along.”

view from the ironing board

The microsuede remnant

2/3 yard sage green microsuede

The remnant to be reworked is a 2/3 yard piece of microsuede, originally priced at $21.99 per yard. I was very conflicted about working with this piece of material because it is expensive, and I’ve never really worked with this type of cloth before. I had an idea in my head to make a vest, gilet, waistcoat, whatever people name the wardrobe item that, I feel, is going to be a popular item this fall. Since I saw the movie Inception and  Ellen Page’s character’s “vests and scarves look” (although panned viciously by fashion critics), I thought it might be a great look for fall and winter.

My questions about the fabric kept me dragging my feet on this project. Why is this fabric so expensive?  I looked up microfiber fabrics on the Internet, and found some fascinating info on the famous, patented flagship microsuede, Ultrasuede, made by Toray –the subtitle on its website heading is “Innovations in Chemistry.”  My husband, who majored in chemical engineering, says the words “micro” and “ultra” refer to units of measurement, and when I looked up “microfiber” in Wikipedia, voila:

Microfiber is a fiber with less than 1 denier per filament. (Denier is a measure of linear density and is commonly used to describe the size of a fiber or filament. Nine thousand meters of a 1-denier fiber weigh one gram.)

Some microsuedes are described as 100% polyester.  Some descriptions of Ultrasuede say it is part polyester and part non-fibrous polyurethane (the chemical engineering major says polyester and polyurethane are two different things). So, microsuede is a man-made fiber; will we incur the disdain of the sustainability people if we wear it? Even His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is asking, via an article in the September 2010 Vogue–the American issue–if people will consider “natural fiber” such as wool, which “is renewable, it has a far smaller environmental footprint and is far less flammable than man-made fibers, and it is fully recyclable.” All I could say, after reading that article by Prince Charles, was “Wow, the Prince of Wales cares about what we wear?”

Clotilde devotes an entire section of her book Sew Smart to sewing with faux leather, and gives a wealth of information and tips; I ultra-recommend it.

I tried to find Ultrasuede at the local fabric store, but it was not to be had. The closest (to me) purveyor of Ultrasuede appears to be in Lakeland, and the closest online source looks to be in North Carolina. I checked a few web sites and found the patented Ultrasuede on sale for anywhere from $37 per yard to $84 per yard. Yikes!  Which brings me back again to the trepidation I’m feeling about working with expensive fabric. What if I mess it up? Wait a minute, I’m who I am, and it’s practically a given that I will make mistakes sewing. Now that I’m almost through with this project, I can tell you I made some doozie mistakes on this vest, which I agonize over in the next post.

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