Spring Cleaning

I hate cleaning, HATE it. So I’m not one of those people who every year around this time has a big spring cleaning frenzy. But this year, I’m having one of those “throw out everything!” tantrums that I’d previously only heard about. First stop on that is my sewing room. It feels so good to throw away a bunch of scraps and trash that have been cluttering the space for a long time, but at the same time it does feel a bit wasteful to just toss most of it in the trash. I don’t have a textile recycling center near me though, so everything that isn’t a quilting cotton (to one of the quilt stores) or a yardage (to the DAV) is going in the trash. I considered listing some of it for sale on etsy or just IG, but meh. There’s not enough of it to bother with, so it will be easier to just donate it. Things are starting to come together in the sewing room, but it’s a bit of a slog to get through it. I’m determined to finish before I quit and start doing the sewing that I’m suddenly excited about again (seriously, I had hoped that cleaning would help, but I had doubts. Now I don’t.)

Outside of the sewing room is a bunch of clothes and such from the boys–previously, I had kept all my eldest’s clothes to give to the youngest, but I’m quickly learning that the 7.5 year spread is too far for things that have elastic in them. I don’t mind changing out some of the elastic, but honestly, I’d rather just pass it on to someone who can use it now. It’s also nearly time for clearing out some of the outgrown toys–keep a few in a tote labeled for future grandkids, and donate the rest. The boys play with very few toys, I don’t know why I need to keep them all. I’m struggling with whether to let them choose the toys they want to keep, or if I should just do it while they are gone some weekend and hope they don’t notice (they absolutely will–this is just the lie I tell myself.)

I briefly contemplated having a garage sale, but I’m not sure if it’s worth it. It seems like a lot of work for not a lot of benefit, and I’m not sure we really have enough stuff to justify it.

Anyway, it took me forever, but here is the finished results of on and off for like 3 weeks. Now I should probably take care of all the rest of the house I neglected in favor of this one room. Wish me luck…

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But I’ve got the biggest sleeves of them all!

With apologies to AC/DC for my lame ripoff of their song. (It’s so awesome and classy, you’re welcome! 😉 )

So I have a project today that was 1) a long time in the making for several reasons and 2) has been done for a while, but I never got pictures of it because I kept forgetting until it was in the dirty clothes pile.

So a couple of months ago, I was trolling through the Lekala website, like you do, when I spotted this:

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I thought it was adorable, and I had to have it. So I used one of my credits and bought it. At the time, I was motivated, so I even printed and assembled it. Except, I’m really not a fan of boat necklines, so I thought I’d add a V-neckline to it, which I did on the fly without thinking it through, as you I do.

So I made a facing, cut out my pieces, and went merrily on my way. Except…you really can’t just draw a V in a boat neckline without it looking a bit weird in the final product. You need to make some other alterations as well, so plan accordingly. I didn’t, so I had to recut mine. Thankfully, the lady at the fabric store took pity on me (it was out of stock, so she brought me some from her personal stash, and yes I paid her for it, but she didn’t have to sell it to me, she’s just awesome for doing so. Sewing people really are the best people. 🙂 )

So I recut the front (and the back since I had a whole extra yard), in the original boatneck because a gal can only stand so much fail, and stitched it together. It was going pretty darn well until I got to the sleeves. I couldn’t wrap my brain around them. I tried basting them in several configurations, but they all were either too tight for my arm or too big for the armscye. So I put it down for a while, got busy with work stuff, came back to it and kind of forgot what I had tried–well, you get the idea. So finally I took to instagram and asked for help.

It turns out that one of the people that I happened to tag on my photo appears to be a Lekala employee that I follow. I don’t read Russian, so I kind of just assumed she was just a super fan, but thanks to Google translate and what I’m guessing was Microsoft Paint, she had me up and running in no time. And I just hope my clumsy attempt at thanking her (also via google translate) worked like it was supposed to. Anyone else ever wonder just what exactly is getting spit out the other side when you have zero grasp of the language?

Anyway, so yeah. I was super excited about this project when I first tried it on, but then a couple of things happened. 1) my husband mentioned that I should have used a fabric with a non-white back. So now I’m super self conscious about it when I wear it. 2) I love the sleeves, as long as I’m not doing anything. Standing around looking cute is fine–trying to cook dinner? Potential fire hazard. Trying to eat dinner? Only if you want to drag your sleeve through your salad. And it fits awkwardly in a coat. Basically, it’s so incredibly impractical. But cute, so I’m wearing it anyway. 😉

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*Sigh* first world problems.

SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder. Do you get it? Before this year, I’d have said no, but this year was different. Our winter was brutal, and while I’m used to our winters being cold and miserable, this year was just worse–colder, windier, drier…even if the sun was out it was almost an angry sun, not a comforting one. I’m not usually a “talk about my mood/feelings kind of person”, so obviously I didn’t get any official diagnosis, but I’m pretty sure that I had SAD. I think/hope it’s starting to go away now, but I can’t wait until it starts to warm up again. I don’t even care if it’s sunny, in fact I’d prefer if it was rainy (we need rain so bad!!), I am just tired of cold and wind.

Anyone else get SAD over the winter? How do you deal with it? All I know is that I never want to be this tired, angry, sad, miserable, and unmotived to do anything or interact with anyone ever again.

Upgraded!

I finally quit whining and decided to do something about my old sewing machine that I’ve always ranged from “meh” to extremely frustrated with.

Meet my new Juki DX7!

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I will admit that I didn’t really research this machine, but I researched it’s predecessor/sister/whatever the F-600 to death. I’m pretty sure I read every. single. review on the internet for the F-600. There were maybe a handful of negative reviews and everyone else highly recommended it. So when I saw there was a newer version that seemed as though it was pretty similar, I decided to just go for it–I didn’t even test drive it in person. And if you know me, this is pretty much the opposite of how I do anything.

We’re off to a slow start, because it’s a significantly more computerized machine than I’m used to, but I’m impressed with the power this thing has. The first thing I sewed with it is some jeans hems, and it fed through like it was quilting cotton–didn’t even hiccup over the bulky seams! My Pfaff couldn’t do that on it’s best day.

The buttons on it are a bit awkwardly located from what I’m used to, and the stitch selections are also a bit weird (seriously, a smartphone style hard touch screen would be awesome), but thankfully, most of the stitches you’ll use regularly are on the 9-key pad. I’m also trying to get used to the machine wanting me to use the up/down presser foot button after it cuts the thread instead of being able to use the lever just any time I want. It has a lever, but sometimes it doesn’t do anything. It sounds like a tiny thing as I type it, but this is a huge adjustment for me. The thread cutter feature though? That is the. BOMB. Seriously, I love it. I also love the needle threader that works every time! Even when it was new my Pfaff only worked like 25% of the time. And the lights! So much light under this machine, I feel like I’ve been freed from the dark ages!

The one thing that made me hesitate to buy any machine that wasn’t a Pfaff was the lack of IDT (or paying a fortune for that option on other brands), but so far the box feed has been just as good. And, this machine has something that Pfaff doesn’t offer on a similarly priced machine–presser foot pressure adjustments. If you’ve never had this feature, you may not realize how much better this makes your sewing experience, but trust me, it really should be a standard feature on every machine at every price point. Period.

So far I like it, even though I’m still working my way through the niggles. I’ll try to remember to do an update after I’ve had it a while and share how I feel about it by then. I certainly wouldn’t turn anyone away from it, especially if they are used to a more heavily computerized machine already. If you are coming from a low tech or mechanical machine, the curve might be steep.

Things That Tick Me Off Thursday

Why is it that everything I like/love is quickly discontinued? It’s like I have a curse–if I like it, there’s a good chance it’s either already discontinued and I don’t know it yet or it will be soon. Everything from flooring to clothing, if I like it, it’s a death knell. 😦

The most recent to hit this curse was my favorite brand of jeans. Yeah, they were cheap and didn’t fit quite as nicely as I would have liked (not enough coverage over the butt, a perennial problem for me), but they were cheap and good enough if I cinched them with a belt. Now I’m facing a dilemma–make my own? Or go do the shop of shame* for new ones?

*The shop of shame is that feeling you get when not a single pair of jeans fit and you leave the store crying and empty handed or with a pair of jeans that is less than ideal, but at least you aren’t naked. I know I’m not the only one who has been there!

If I go the make my own route, where do fellow sewists find nice quality stretch denim in a variety of colors? I’d like to find one “brand” that is nice and then be able to get it over and over. I bought some Kauffman 20% stretch stuff a while back to make the Jalie Eleonore, but I haven’t used it yet because it’s so terribly thin. Denim shouldn’t be something you have the possibility of VPL with!

The Mrs. Frizzle Dress aka Lekala 4437

Whoa! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I feel like I should apologize, but then, I’ve always been more of a social media lurker than a participant anyway. Plus, there hasn’t been a ton of sewing going on here, until I needed a dress for a wedding we went to a couple of weeks ago. Coincidentally, that’s why I’m here today. 😉

I’ve had my eye on Lekala 4437 for quite a while, at least since Hila made hers last winter. Her version is gorgeous and she looks fantastic in it. I’m not sure I pulled it off quite as well, but I really like how it turned out, just the same.

Now you may be wondering how it became the Mrs. Frizzle dress, since I don’t tend to name my clothes. My husband named it. He saw the fabric that I made it in and thought it looked like something Mrs. Frizzle would wear on a trip into space, and it stuck. I’m taking it as a compliment. 😉

Galaxy Fabric

What do you think? Does it look like something Mrs. Frizzle would make a dress out of?

The fabric came from a small local store that has a pretty reasonable sized selection of fabric, notions, sewing machines, and the ubiquitous quilting stuff. I went in with absolutely no idea what I was looking for, and within about 5 minutes I spotted this amazing space-themed ponte (ish?) fabric and knew it was going to be mine. So I picked up 2 yards.

BUT.

Then I had to go back and get another yard and a half because my pattern tetris game was so strong I outsmarted myself. I failed to leave enough room for the circle skirts. D’oh! Fortunately, I really like the fabric, because I think I have enough to make a sweatshirt out of it. So, that’s sort of a win, right? And I had the black in my stash already, so that’s definitely a win. 🙂

Aside from overthinking the collar and goofing up on the cutting, this pattern went together like a dream. Not the PDF, mind you, (I’m never printing on legal paper again!), but the pattern sewed up flawlessly. Speaking of knits, I had to take it in by about 5″ because of the ease included (apparently they expect you to make this from a woven?!), and I could have taken it in a smidgen more, but I was worried about the seamlines not matching up if I went any farther. Oh, and I guess I had to redo the sleeves–the late night sewing gremlins got me the night before the wedding. I swear I read the instructions, and what they said made no sense, but I did it anyway. Except it was wrong, so I ripped the sleeves off the next day (the day of the wedding–right before the 3 hour road trip there 🙄 ), cut new ones, and sewed them on the way that made the most sense to me. Let’s just say that it didn’t involve the recommended bias tape. 😉

So while it sounds like a lot of issues, it really wasn’t too bad and they were mostly my own fault. I managed to sew this thing up in a day, which is pretty fast for me! Bonus, I got quite a few compliments on it at the wedding too, can’t beat that! If you hover, you should be able to see the captions, and as always, click to enlarge!

Well, that’s all for this post, catch you on the flip side!

They let me guest post…!?!

Over at the Sewcialists blog I posted about a few of the bloggers that inspire me in preparation for August’s Tribute Month. If you aren’t already following them, go check it out!

https://sewcialists.wordpress.com/

Things that tick me off Thursday

Another Thursday, another peeve. Today I’m bitching about the post office. Not the people at our tiny local office–they’re fantastic–but the postal system in general. These are probably pretty universal, so even if you don’t deal with the US postal service, you can probably relate by inserting your local variation here.

  • What part of DO NOT BEND is so hard to understand? Does it need to be in French? (I got an envelope from Canada that said it in French and English and it was actually heeded–but several in English only have been bent all to hell).
  • Why such a long lunch break? What if lunch is the only time I have to get my package mailed? What is so wrong with doing a lunch rotation like everyone else does? Does the post office think they’re employees are speshul?
  • And why does it close so early? If I had an 8-5 job, I have no idea how I’d ever utilize the postal system, since they are closed during lunch AND THEY GO HOME EARLY!! What?! Maybe it’s different at the larger hubs in bigger cities, but I’ve never lived in one of those.
  • Oh wait. I suppose if I worked I could try to squeeze it in during the couple of hours they’re open on Saturday with everyone else. I’d just have to hope that my spot in line reached the counter before closing time. Because when they say they close at 11, they MEAN they close at 11. Maybe I should camp outside like those crazy people do on Black Friday?
  • And why is it so hard to work with their counterparts in other countries? I send a package of patterns to Canada and I have to fill out some “valuation” form, I can’t track it, and it takes an age.
  • Why do they leave packages on my porch when it’s raining?! I’d rather try my hand at picking it up from the office to collect it than hope that whatever I ordered is safely waterproofed inside a melting cardboard box…
  • And lest you think I’m just mad at the USPS, I have similar issues–especially re: rainy days with FedEx and UPS. 😡

Gah! Get it together postal service!

A fail in three parts

But first, a bit of backstory. I made view A of S1589 a long time ago and it has slowly gotten shorter and tighter with every wash, and then it started fraying. I kind of love it though, so I wanted to try it again. But I remembered that I took a lot of excess out of the pattern back when, so I decided to start with the size 14 instead of the 16, (since I know that shrinking in the wash isn’t the only reason it’s tighter now…oops!). So I happily traced off both views thinking that view B was also pretty cute. So cute in fact, that I decided to try it first.

ACT I

I should have traced off the 12. Even though the pattern pieces were similar in width to the blue muumuu, and I used similar fabric, for whatever reason it’s just not as flattering. Possibly because there is even less shaping and no darts? Maybe because the back is so much wider since it has that split? I don’t know. It also ended up being longer than needed (this is my fault, I added about 3″ to make damn sure it never showed my belly), and it’s REALLY wide at the hips–which would be great if I needed to smuggle an entire snackbar into a movie theater, buuuuut no.

ACT II

Why I bought this particular floral is beyond me. Was I drunk? Because this is the coyote ugly of fabric, and it doesn’t flatter my coloring at all. When will I ever learn to stay away from pastel colors?! And while the floral pattern is just OK in flat fabric, I don’t like it in shirt form.

ACT III

Not only did I buy a spectacularly unflattering and homely fabric, I didn’t buy enough of it to make anything! I ended up cutting one of the back pieces on the cross grain because I was desperate to see what it would look like. Which is crap. Absolute crap that doesn’t even look good on the mannequin. Argh!

Lessons learned?

  • Quit buying fabric without a project in mind.
  • Quit buying Joann’s rayons (did I mention this fabric had snags and holes?! 😡 Just like the blue from the blue muumuu. Grrr!!) It’s not like they are a “bargain”!
  • Ignore all sizing instructions *except* the finished garment measurements. With the exception of Lekala and maybe Burda, the size charts seem off.
  • No more pastels–they make me look like a corpse!

Making in May Roundup

My calendar tells me that somehow May is over and June has begun. When I was a kid, my parents used to talk about how the time just went by so fast; I thought they were crazy, because as a kid it just seemed to drag. Guess they weren’t so crazy after all–or at least not about that. 😜

My goal was to sew up at least 4 new shirts. I failed, but here is what I did manage to accomplish.

  • Made up burp rags and bibs for my future niece (she’s still “cooking”, thank goodness, although my sister says she is welcome to come anytime–a feeling every pregnant woman can relate to!) I wish I had gotten pictures of the finished versions, but I forgot. I did get pics of the fabrics I used though, so hopefully that’s an acceptable substitute!

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    I didn’t use the crescent moon fabric, just the others.

  • A “test” version of Lekala 4562, which has been worn basically as soon as it has come out of the wash every time. The question isn’t “if” I’ll be making another, it’s “how soon?”
  • Another kind of tester version of Lekala 4420, which I don’t like near as much as the first version, and much less than the blue muumuu. I took out the neck pleats and turned them into a bust dart, but I’m not sure it worked quite right. And I really wish I would have narrowed up the shoulders, because it’s got a weird dropped sleeve sleeveless vibe going on. Totally my fault though, because I was planning to put the sleeves from 4562 on it until the absolute last second. However, the pocket I put on it is perfect, and will be replacing the useless flap on the next version of 4562, because pockets are cuter and can be useful for small “treasures” Scotch picks up on our walks.

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    It’s also slightly tighter than I’d like, not constrictive, just not quite as loose and flowy as it should be.

  • I managed to get 7(!) pairs of undies stitched up only to stall out when it came time to apply the elastic because I didn’t have enough matching elastics for the job. I’m hoping to finish them soon. It will be nice to not have hol(e)y underwear again, LOL!

In related news, I’ve got a pretty good sized order of stretchy denim and navy twill winging it’s way to me for making up some Jalie Elenore’s and some Burda shorts. I thought at first I’d maybe just try to find some shorts at a thrift store, but all the cute ones I found weren’t in my size and I got tired of digging. Kudos for those of you who have the patience to thrift shop–if the sizes aren’t grouped together, I wear out quickly.