Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looking Forward to 2015

I knitted everyone a modified slouchy hat for the holidays. It took me about three to four days to finish each hat. The last one was completed on Christmas Eve. Here's a picture of my family wearing them on Christmas day. I have yet to knit mine...sigh. That's it for 2014 knitting folks!

I decided that this new year will not be filled with a long list of resolutions. I am tired of pointing out the obvious over and over again. Let's be done with all that silliness shall we?

But a bit of early Spring cleaning is in order. I'm going to make room in my closet and get rid of everything that is ill-fitting and uncomfortable. This includes donating those handmade pieces that I never liked but held onto because I made them. I'm also done with fancy dresses, unless I'm making them for educational purposes. They just don't get worn enough. I go to maybe two fancy parties or less a year, and I don't expect that number to grow anytime soon.

So what's in store for 2015? I'm getting ready for the Edwardian Ball. I have two weeks to measure, cut, and sew two outfits (me and hubby) for this event. I'm leaning toward an Asian Steampunk mash-up. But there's got to be a corset somewhere! Yes...but...I decided that I don't like wearing them, so I may make a comfy "fake" corset to keep me from feeling claustrophobic. Stay tuned...

I'll be going back to the tried-and-true sewing of 2014. Smocks, smocks, and more smocks! I freaking love them. It's like wearing cute scrubs to work, but not. It's a good substitute for a lab coat, because lab coats are too warm (even though they make me look all doctorey...doctorey is not a real word...I stole it from one of my patients who commented on how "doctorey" I looked one day at work).

Fourth quarter SMOCKPALOOZA sewing...

Kokka cotton smock from one of my Japanese pattern books. This is a remake.
Instead of seam binding the neckline, I just added elastic, and it's SUPAH comfy!

Another remake also using Kokka cotton fabric. This one turned out really big, and looks maternity.
I have not worn it yet, because I'm still debating if I want to look preggers or not at work.

Rayon Challis Smock Dress. I lengthened the smock top into a dress. This is the most
comfortable dress ever...and according to my daughter, looks a bit like a hospital gown.
Eh...what does she know about smocks anyway.

Too big again...but I cut the right size for my bust. It was technically a muslin...using some fabric
I got from FABMO. So there's always the possibility of a second, smaller version.
I might be moving at the end of 2015 so clearing out clutter is not going to end after Spring. It's going to be stressful working down my stash. But I have some incentive now to cut into all those beautiful silk pieces I bought from Hong Kong. I picked up a bunch of polyester charmeuse to serve as muslin pieces for the silk-intended projects. My family will be getting some handmade pieces in 2015. I'm cutting back on selfish sewing because my closet can't take it anymore.

Remember how proud I was at having six sewing machines? Here's a question...if I only had room for one sewing machine, and one serger, which one would I choose? What are your machines of choice if there was a fire, and you could only save two?

Happy 2015 sewing everyone!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Trying Out Style Arc

I have a new crush on Style Arc patterns. I picked up four (one was free) over the Summer, and finally dug into them the past couple of weeks. In my pursuit for more comfortable work clothes, I cut into the Peta pants pattern first, and made two pairs. The first was a wearable muslin in a stretch navy jersey, and then a second pair in black ponte. Both sewed up really well, but the pockets were too shallow in the muslin, so I sewed them up, and skipped it on the ponte. (I have a master pocket pattern I downloaded for free from one of the BurdaStyle patterns, and use it for whenever I want a an inserted pocket.) This basic elastic pant pattern can be made into sweats, dressy-casual, and even pajama pants. I didn't take any photos, but here is the pattern. I made mine without the drawstring ankles. There's not a lot of ease, so keep that in mind if you want something loose. I recommend stretch fabrics always. Hips are narrow, which I love, but maybe not so good comfy for others.

After getting my fill of the Peta pants, I started on the muslin for the Carly Jumpsuit. This would be my second jumpsuit. (The first was made from a McCall's pattern out of bright striped terry cloth, and turned into shorts for a swimsuit cover-up. It ended up being too big all over and unflattering. I'm looking for someone to gift that jumpsuit to.)

Crazy me...but I decided to use some crushed velvet I picked up on sale at Harts Fabrics. Crazy because I've never sewn with velvet before. I decided that it wasn't that bad...BUT...I really needed to adjust the ease in the pattern, meaning, I needed to make it slightly bigger to allow for thicker fabric. Notice the welt pockets? I skipped those in velvet, but might attempt it on the next version which will be in rayon. I might get really ambitious and draft up some sleeves too.

Here is my muslin pinned to my dressform. I can't fit pants on the form. I could not get a really good photo, and no matter what angle, the velvet looks like colors from dachshund. But it's really a nice dark chocolate. Without the added ease, it feels and looks a bit small. Sigh. But wearable I guess. Someone a size smaller than me would love this jumpsuit. The suggested fabric for this pattern is a light, drapey rayon or the like.

My favorite thing about Style Arc Patterns is the paper. No weak tissue! Instead, sturdy white paper that's easy to read and stable for cutting. What makes the patterns really unique is how they are designed for industrial sewing like ready-to-wear and not necessarily home sewing. I got one size and not multiple sizes into one pattern. I was disappointed at first, but given that cutting and sewing is now more precise, I really don't mind the trade off. All the elastic casing, bias binding strips, and other little pieces just fit. No frills, no stress. Love it. 

Digging into a complex designer pattern requires some long Zen hours. My brain can't wrap itself around those projects often (my last being that linen bubble dress which caused me lots of undue stress). When I was in school, the design philosophy was "keep it simple." The simpler the design, the simpler the pattern, the simpler the pattern the faster the cutting and sewing, and more profits. Style Arc patterns (so far) seem well-executed for my sewing personality.  

With Christmas in less than a week, things are getting pretty nuts around my house. I have the week off (YAH!), but only to give me more time to knit and sew...but my big cut off is this Sunday afternoon when I pick up my eldest son from the airport.  

Until we sew again...Happy Holidays everyone!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Oh...That Darn Vest!

I'm glad that my last post were of beautiful knitted garments by Louisa Harding. It's a great way to leave one's blog for nearly three months.  Who's going to be sick of looking at Ms. Harding's handiwork?  Not me.  Speaking of her patterns, remember that vest I've been knitting?  Well I finally finished it. It is mostly the same as the pattern, except I decided to make it longer, but I forgot to buy more yarn. I ran out of yarn for the neck and armholes and substituted it with some scrap ivory cashmere I had lying around. The knitted the neckline, but then I started to run out of my scrap yarn, and decided that crocheting a trim into the armhole would use less yarn. EXCEPT, I don't really know how to crochet. So I just made something up based on what little I do know, and came up with this final product. (It's amazing how my brain works when I'm desperate to finish something.)

I wore this yesterday to lunch with a turtleneck, and it actually looked better on me than the dressform. Now, that's a first. It is a bit potato-sacky-like I know. I did have a lot of problems with sizing from the pattern, requiring me to restart the pattern several times. Argh!

I think the crochet turned out okay, but it's not stiff enough to keep the armhole from turning in. Sigh.
I'm still self-reflecting when it comes to all my crafting, and I'll probably never stop. I've learned a few things about myself this past month:
  • I don't like making muslins out of muslin. I'd rather use an inexpensive fabric, and if it turns out, I already have something finished! (But if I have to do major marking, I still use standard muslin.)
  • I love bias taping garments, and have considered dyeing my own silk bias tape, especially now that I discovered Dharma Trading Company.  But did you sewists who are not quilters know that Liberty of London has its own line of bias tape? But sadly, buying a strip of Liberty London is just as expensive at about $8-10 a yard. So I've decided to pass for now.
  • I have always loved rayon challis, and to my surprise, it's mostly I bought some really inexpensive challis from Denver Fabrics, almost at the price of muslin, and I'm just going to make things out of that yardage for a while (but be warned that Rayon Challis is much stretchy and slippery). Also, polyester is much more sophisticated than back in the 70s, and a polyester charmeuse is a decent substitute for silk when making a muslin, and drapes a whole heck of a lot better. 
  • I have never liked wearing skirts with waistbands, which is why I love bias tape, and my new goal is to make waistbands out of the grosgrain ribbon I bought in Hong Kong. 
  • I have always loved Sashiko quilting, and I'm not even a quilter
So what else have I been doing with my time? If you've read this far down on my blog, I might as well share that I've been setting up my acupuncture clinic, and putting my sewing skills to good use. For the past year I've been studying to take the board exam, and passed in September, and then my life got super busy, and my fashion sewing was put on the back burner.

I did made reversible flannel blankets for my treatment table with matching pillowcases. I couldn't find exactly what I needed at the store, and flannel sheets were too big and too thin, so I made them myself. I quilted the two pieces of flannel together to add weight, and just serged the edges. I didn't bother to bind them to save time and money. I picked two balanced colors but made one side more girly, and the other more generic...but I don't think my patients really care about which side they're using. I just prefer the contrast. I really like these blankets, and might make some for myself and use them on the couch.

All the fabric was on sale at Joann's.

I also made two curtains for a section of the bookshelf (sorry no photos). The curtains hide all my gear and keeps the room looking tidy. I love spring curtain rods for this purpose.  Then there was a trip to Michael's to purchase actual craft supplies, for a custom sign for my treatment room door (the other side is identical, and reads: "Healing in Session." The fabric were scraps from FABM

Happy crafting!