i’m moving! blogspace, that is…

okay folks… today. today! i am moving over to wordpress, with or without a glass of wine in hand. it seems pretty easy to do, wish me luck! my blog address will be the same, just wordpress instead of blogger. so, if i stop showing up in your feed you’ll know where to find me.

i have a slight lull in my sewing due to the fact that our heater went out over the past weekend and we’ve been heating our not so well insulated house with a few space heaters. now, my sewing room never had central heat (it’s a weird poorly built addition to the house) so i’ve always had a space heater to keep it warm. but due to the lack-of-heat situation i have to sacrificed my sewing room heat in order to keep our actual living space warm-ish. it was okay over the last few days when our temps made it to 50s F, but today we’re hovering in the 30s F and my hands are shivering… it may not be fixed until next week due to the freak snowstorm we had last week, dumping us with another 2 feet of snow. seriously. can we just get on to spring already? we are told that all those heater fixing people with the gas company are working in high priority regions where there was flooding and coastal erosion and such. what do i know? i just want heat!

while my sewing room is a literal icebox i have started prep work on the grainline studio archer button up. woot! i printed and taped last night, traced this morning and hope to cut my fabric today or tomorrow. that is if my hands are steady enough. this was probably the most it really needs to be precise .pdf pattern i’ve done. initially i had a bit of a problem, it seems as though my printer cuts off the top and bottom of each pattern page leaving me to guess exactly how to connect those sides of the page. i came up with a brilliant (if i do say so) solution.

since the sides of each page printed fine, i simply traced the the square that connects each page to the next, then used it as a guide to line up the edges that didn’t print. whew!

alright folks… see you on the other side!

—lisa g.


some bloggity business

there’s been loads of discussion around the blogs about how much the blogger platform stinks. i feel as though i’ve been fighting with blogger since day one, whether it’s about getting my posts formatted correctly, uploading pics, commenting (darn you captcha!), and just generally not working when i need it to. when i started this blog i wavered between blogger and word press and claimed my blog name at both spots. blogger won out because it seemed less confusing to set up and more customizable. basically i’ve regretted it ever since.

my fist blog-posted renfrew! shameful it’s
taken so long, but i figure everyone is sick
of this pattern by now.

so i’ve decided to switch over to word press at some point when i have time to deal with that and hopefully it won’t be too traumatic. i am concerned that, because this is a picture heavy blog, that those might get lost. and that would be soul crushing.

this is a nice drape-y rayon with a subtle sheen.
not great for hiding the lumps and bumps, but
it’s super soft, so i’ll deal.

regardless, i will switch and the switch will probably happen on a whim late some night after one too many glasses of wine… so if you wake up to some weird feed of mine in your reader, i’m apologizing now!

paired with my thurlows… it was only right.
i left off the sleeve and hem bands and lengthened
the hem to compensate and just cut the sleeves
where i wanted them and twin needled the hems.

also, i’m just wondering what ya’ll do with your pictures in general. i take what seems like a bazillion pics just to get one or two where i don’t look like a complete doofus. i try to make sure and delete the pics off my computer that i will definitely never use, but sometimes i’m in a hurry and think i’ll come back to it later. guess what. i never do. 

the pattern’s neck band was too long for this knit and it stuck out
all sorts of awkward. had to rip it out and redo. love that…
but now it’s nice and profesh looking.

so now i have thousands of pictures of myself in iphoto, which makes me cringe every time i open the program because i HATE having my picture taken. i’m awkward, i don’t photograph well, i’m super self-conscious, i don’t know where to put my hands, ahhh!!!!

BAM! hand-made outfit!

right now i have to upload them to picasa first in order to put them on the blog. but it… takes… forever… and they’re really hard to organize. i use flicker occasionally but only have a few pics there. i haven’t come up with a good way of storing my pics, but i really have no need to keep them for the long-term if they’re on the blog, right? i just don’t know! what do you guys do????

—lisa g.

i need opinions!!!

i’m just about to start work on the tiramisu dress but first need to vent and also ask a few opinions…

so i have some black cotton lycra from girlcharlee.com that i ordered with the intent of making a knit LBD. a while back an opportunity came up for some free tickets to attend the BSO. i ended up sending my husband because it was cold and i decided against wandering around the streets of boston late at night with two kids. i always get lost and the subway system confuses me… what can i say. i’m from the midwest—i drive places damnit. it also dawned on me that i really don’t have anything appropriate to wear. i suddenly needed a black dress. i’m of an age where i should absolutely have a black dress, but sadly don’t. so i took a gamble and ordered black knit fabric online and thank the heavens it is exactly the weight and drape i wanted.

i want to use the tiramisu pattern because it has that right mix of casual if you wear it one way, or dressy if you wear it another. i plan to eliminate the sleeve bands and just hem the sleeves, and will probably eliminate the neck bands in favor of serging some clear elastic to the inside, turning, then topstitching. i’m pretty sure i’ve seen this done with great results, though i’ll test some scraps first just to make sure.

so here’s my vent: i went with the .pdf version off craftsy partly to save money, and partly (mostly) because i’m impatient. i’ve done plenty of .pdf patterns so i know what i’m getting into there. i go to print the pattern and it’s 65 pages long. what the what?! wow. that’s a loooooot of pages. now i knew that there are multiple sizes that you customize based on upper bust and full bust measurements, but there’s no good way to print only the bodice size you need.

now, i don’t know a whole lot about putting together a .pdf pattern so i’m speaking only from the customer end here, but it would really have been helpful to separate the bodice sizes so you have the option to print only the size you need. i wasted so much paper. i also have a beef with the scaling. my 1″ square comes out to 7/8″. i had tested this with one page and worked out what percentage to print at, but for some reason when i went to print the entire pattern, it didn’t scale. so now i’m stuck with 55 pattern pages that are the wrong scale. i felt so defeated before i even laid out my pages! it was just so much to dig through. basically i’m saying: pay the extra $5 and get the paper pattern.

i figured out that the off scale essentially makes my pattern one size smaller. she notes that for a snug fit to go down a size, so this should work out okay? my fabric is really stretchy, and i’ve seen people cut out loads of room from the side and under bust seams. the SA is 1/2″ and i can sew it with 1/4″ SA just for extra insurance. this sounds reasonable, right?

okay, last question: the bodice and skirt is cut on the bias, presumably so that you can have fun with stripes. i would really prefer to eliminate the CB bodice seam and the CB and CF skirt seams and cut these pieces on the fold. since i’m using a solid, do i need to cut these pieces on the bias? i just don’t see any obvious reason to. plus i only have 2 yds of fabric so i’m not sure i’ll have quite enough for all the bias cutting.

thoughts? lay those opinions on me!!!

—lisa g.

sewing in 2013

i’ve just finished a button down shirt for the hubbs (mr. housewife?). yeah, it’s about time i begun re-working his closet. most of what he owns is either ill-fitting or worn down and threadbare. i resisted for a long time because i feel like men’s clothing demands a higher level of technical skill than women’s clothing. even though my sewing isn’t perfect, i think it’s good enough to dive in and give it a shot.

i started tracing off mccalls 6044, and as i went along i began my usual laundry list of gripes about the pattern:

faux back yoke!
no sleeve placket!
two piece sleeve?
no pleats on the back piece!
why are they skimping on these details? why? WHY!

i paid $1 for this pattern.

are the lack of “real” details in the big 4 our own fault? we’re so accustomed, at least here in the US, to buying cheap patterns that perhaps it’s just a vicious cycle. initially i thought the dumbed-down patterns were the pattern companies’ response to the fact that most people don’t know how to sew (therefore requiring simplified patterns), and most (i think) sew as a hobby, not out of necessity. yet, i can’t help but think our reluctance to pay full price for patterns is also a factor. it does take extra work to make those extra pieces. i know, because i do it regularly.

so all this brings me back to my plans and goals for 2013.

first, buy more expensive patterns. we don’t have a lot of money to throw around, and these days sewing is more of a necessity than just a diversion. i’m growing far more averse to buying cheap clothes that wear out and were potentially made under unethical conditions. did you hear about this fire a while back? i only came across the story by chance one day, it certainly didn’t make many headlines here. at this point, we simply can’t afford clothes that i can trust are ethically made, even with a “buy less/buy better” mentality. but, i can make it a point to spent a few extra bucks on nice patterns, especially those that will get multiple uses. this doesn’t mean i won’t buy big 4, i just need to complain less when i have to draft pieces to get the look i want. you get what you pay for and it’s high time i accept it.

secondly, make men’s clothing. as i stated before, his closet could really use a re-vamp. the button down shirt is a great place to start, but t-shirts, pants, and outerwear are also on the list. (i stated non-specific menswear over on dymt’s re-sew-lution jar post. doesn’t she have the greatest ideas?)

thirdly, i’ll continue to beef up my staples. my every day life is pretty casual and involves running kids here and there, the occasional playdate, volunteering at their school, sitting on the floor doing puzzles, snuggling with them for story time, and the like. i have a dreadful lack of appropriate clothing for these sorts of activities, so pants are on the list as well as tops, and probably a jacket or two. minoru! cordova! i’m looking at yooouuu!!!

lastly, i need to buckle down and sew more kidswear. it’s hard for me to spend $8 or $10 on a pair of leggings or a t-shirt when i know i can make two or three out of a $5/yd piece of knit fabric.

okay, there it is: my plan for the year and what you can expect to see on the blog. i’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s goals, and i see many people are on the “beef up the staples” bandwagon. i know that doesn’t satisfy the sewing itch for everyone, but i really do find this sort of thing fun. it is completely satisfying to reach in my closet and pull out a knit top that i’ve made or grab my hand made winter coat as i run out the door. 

i’ll be back with a real post on the afore-mentioned button down shirt once i can sneak in some pics. in the meantime, i have a portrait blouse from gertie’s book awaiting my finishing touches… here’s to an amazing 2013!

—lisa g.

what i did in 2012

so 2012 was actually a pretty big sewing year for me. i wasn’t going to bother with my final thoughts, but i realized i never posted official pics of my biggest project to date. namely, my sister’s wedding dress. in my defense, i only got the “official pics” back in november. (original posts: flower girl, wedding dress, bridesmaid)

if you’re interested, there are many more pics over on the photographer’s blog (post labeled tom + rebecca).

in 2012 i ventured into outerwear. i am so very pleased with my results on this front, and i’m itching to make more!

seersucker suit
knit blazer
winter coat
duffle coat

these were all my biggest projects. there is so much more that i made and loved in 2012, but going through and finding all the posts and links is a real pain in the buns (mega props to all you who did bother!) and i have real-time sewing to get to!

my only disappointment for the year was my inability to get all my projects onto the blog. i tried to count the number of things i made, but quit when i hit 45. i typically finish at least one item a week. problem is, my blogging (and picture taking) gets behind my sewing, then i lose interest in writing about it or plum forgot what amazing tidbit i wanted to share to begin with. i do try to make my posts worth your time reading, and i really appreciate the feedback. here’s to another great year of sewing!

—lisa g.

p.s. tomorrow is the last day to vote in the pattern review sewing for children contest. thanks for all you who voted for me!

a few thoughts on fitting

i had wanted to muslin and tweak and muslin again for my plaid dress, but time slowly got away from me so i had to streamline the process a bit. i had just picked up a copy of the palmer/pletsch “fit for real people” which goes to great lengths showing all sorts of possible fitting problems and how to tweak them out. now, you know when you have a rash or some weird ailment that you are just sure is a sign of something worse? then you google the heck out of it and come up with all sorts of possible deadly diseases and you’re convinced that you are officially knocking at death’s door? that’s kind of what this book does to you. it’s a little overwhelming and quite honestly, might be the cause of so many sewists over-fitting.

not to discredit the info, but it can be a bit much. and lest the sewing gods strike me down right here and now, i should clarify: i’m all about making clothes that fit. in fact that’s what has fueled my sewing. i know i simply do not fit one size from top to bottom and unless it’s good quality RTW (i.e. the kind i can not afford), it’s difficult to make your own alterations. if i want a fitted dress, i’m gonna have to make it myself. but, i also need to remember to leave some breathing room and not reject a make simply because maybe i should have done this or that alteration. sometimes good enough really is good enough.

[steps off soapbox]

at any rate, these gals came up with the whole “tissue fitting” idea, so i gave it a half hearted try. i don’t have a fitting buddy, and i’m not enrolled in any sewing classes, so an accurate tissue fitting is pretty difficult to do by myself. it did cue me in that perhaps my sleeve fitting problems are simply due to the dreaded “forward shoulder.” curse not having good posture all my life! thankfully, this is a super easy adjustment to make, and one i will be making from now on. after tissue fitting and making several flat pattern alterations, i made up an actual muslin. turns out (other than the forward shoulder thing) i made a few too many “fixes,” solvable by tracing out a new size. yes, tracing. cuz i do that now.

so, when i declared to all the interwebs that i was going to make a plaid dress and it was going to be awesome, that clearly came from someone who had never in fact done plaid. the envelopes always warn you to buy extra yardage for plaid-matching. did i heed the warning? no. no, i did not. in my defence, it’s in tiny print.

i spent a full hour with my fabric on my dining room cutting table puzzling out how to arrange things when i finally traced off an extra copy of each pattern piece so i could arrange and cut the entire thing as one layer. then i went back to the cutting table and spent another two or three hours arranging and matching plaids. i was determined to get this to work! ultimately i found a way with minimal compromise. initially i had the fat black stripe going down CF, but i shifted things slightly and really, it’s for the better. this is one of those uneven plaids so it isn’t symmetrical anyways. ultimately, that works out in my favor so it’s less obvious when something isn’t perfect.

to make myself feel better, i kept referring back to some online pics with way less than perfect plaid matching. that they are selling for money. i would never in my life pay for such poor matching! sewing snob? guilty!

see that? one quarter of the
fabric is upside down.

things aren’t much better here either.
look at that skirt! shameful.

[these are from modcloth.com. i seem to have lost the direct link if you’re
looking to buy a plaid dress that is poorly constructed.]

but really to top it all off, the twill weave of this fabric caused it to constantly pull off grain. not only were my pieces butted up against each other for cutting, but the whole thing kept shifting. i kept stretching and pulling, then quickly cutting my pieces before it twisted again. all in all, this dress was not the quick make i thought it would be. i had wanted to finish it before thanksgiving, but alas it was not to be. which was okay. i was able to put it aside and come back to it without a deadline. and… it might actually be finished now. and… it might actually be pretty awesome. but more on that later.

—lisa g.

what i’m working on now…

kind of had to take a breather after finishing my coat. that was intense! of course by “breather” i mean make a few simple things that don’t require much thought. i’ll get to those soon, but i’m just too excited about my next project and wanted to share.

i love plaid. maybe it’s my growing up in the grunge 90s that has solidified my love of all things plaid. i lived in oversized flannel button-downs (though why i ever thought XXL was “my size” will forever remain a mystery). that said, i’ve wanted a plaid flannel dress for as long as i can remember. since i haven’t done much winter sewing ever… now is the time! 

if you go to the source, check out the neckline treatment. it looks
like exposed bias binding with the raw edge left to fray slightly.
i have to steal that idea.

i did some online browsing and found this cute dress from j.crew. lo and behold i happen to have a nearly identical pattern in my stash (minus the weird dart at center front. who wants a CF dart?). i love the shape; it’s classic, modern, and versatile. and as it so happens, my birthday is *ahem* soon and what did i find in my mailbox, but a gift certificate to buy fabric! ah, my family knows me too well.

hopefully this will be my holiday dress for the season. not that i have many holiday occasions (and none of them are fancy, hence the plaid flannel). but, well… do i really need an excuse? i thought not! i’ve also had that nagging in the back of my head about making a well-fitted sloper from which i can devise a myriad of patterns. again, now is the time! i am even choosing to do this dress with a 3/4 length sleeve. i realize that sleeve fitting may do me in, and there is a good chance i’ll ultimately abandon the notion of having sleeves, but gosh darn it i’m gonna try. the only other sleeved dress i’ve made for myself was my colette macaron and, admittedly, the sleeves don’t fit. i can barely raise my arms in that dress. harrumph. 

mccalls 5927 has mixed reviews over on pattern review, but that doesn’t really deter me. i plan to muslin it and hopefully walk away with something that fits. it’s a single dart bodice with a high neckline and sleeve; which should make this pattern an ideal starting point. as a bonus, this pattern is already drafted for different cup sizes. score! fitting the bodice shouldn’t be too challenging. the sleeves… well let’s hope i can get that to work out. i’m super set on having a dress with sleeves.

any brilliant thoughts on sleeve fitting in a woven?

any holiday sewing plans for yourself or others? thanksgiving is only two weeks away!

lisa g.