Tuesday Tip

If you’ve ever bought those economy sized spools of thread that just don’t quite fit on the spool pin with a doodad.

I also have a flat doodad with the same little spiky ends which would work equally well.

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New sewing room!

So I finally got the new sewing room unpacked and ready for use. I know it seems like it’s taken forever (it has to me too), but it’s actually only been sitting here for about two months. Two very busy months at that. If you’re following me on Instagram/Twitter, you’ve likely seen a sneak peek or two, but I thought I’d like to go ahead and show the full thing now that everything is put away neatly and before I started on anything that would make it messy. Vanity, I suppose. 😉

I suppose I should mention, yes, the color is very similar to the old sewing room. Not exactly the same, but pretty close. I did this for two (OK, 3) reasons: 1) I really like the color and 2) I like to stick with colors I already know I like because paint is frickin’ expensive, and 3) I hate painting, so I damn sure didn’t want to discover I hated the color and have to do it again. Except that I would have had to live with it–see #2.

Click to make them bigger–go on, I’m not trying to hide anything. 😉

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the space, the closet is much bigger than the old one and I think the room itself might be bigger. I hate the piss yellow curtains, eventually they’ll be white semi-sheer tab-tops, but for now, piss yellow it is. I love the flooring–so much prettier than the old, nasty linoleum at the old house, but we’ll see if it hides lint as well as that linoleum did. 😉 I don’t think it’s any better lit than the old sewing room though–for a basement room, the old one had amazing light (well, as long as the apple tree wasn’t loaded!). This sewing room is on the top floor, but it only has the one big north facing window, so we’ll see how it is come winter.

Oh, and a little mini tip for you: pegboard is directional. If you hang it, make sure you hang it with the proper orientation or the hooks will come off frequently and/or you might have to bend some to make them fit properly. At the old house I had it oriented the wrong way and had to bend/wrap tape around some of the hooks to get them to stay in. This time I wanted the longer bottom edge for all the danglies and while the hooks were a bit of a bugger to get in, they aren’t going to pull out every time I take something off. I didn’t know this was a thing until I flipped this one on it’s side last week.

Adventures in bodice-fitting Part 1: Shoulder Princess Seams

Since summers here can be a hot, sticky, rage-inducing hell, I’ve decided that I need more blouses. For whatever reason, a woven cotton shirt is cooler (relative term, obviously) than a t-shirt, so I wanted to make up some blouses that I could keep cool in this summer while still being semi-professional in case I should need to meet up with any of my husband’s customers. In light of that, I decided that I should try my hand at fine-tuning bodice fit, and being a fairly busty gal, I thought I could share my experience with others and help them out.

You’ve already seen the finished Burda JJ that I tweaked to fit me, but I decided that I would go ahead and show the alterations I made in case they help someone else. Plus, lots of people seem to really like the step-by-steps to go with the end result. This will be a multi-part series to save your brain from boredom overload and as I post them I will link them back and forth so you can find the one you want easily. There will also be some copy/pasting of similar steps to save me some time, so if you’re reading through and feel some deja vu, that’s why.

  • Part 1: Shoulder Princess Seams
  • Part 2: Armscye Princess Seams (with bonus conversion from darted blouse)
  • Part 3: Darted Blouse??
  • Empire Waist Edition
  1. Choose a size (I recommend tracing). I discovered that if I cut a size that was between my full bust size and my high bust size I could skip the FBA (and obviously grade in/out for waist/hips if you’d like). BUT!!!!!! You’ll want the full 5/8th seam allowances for this (at least to start with). And the reason for that is that you will be using that 5/8ths to play around with the bust fit instead of an FBA. (Note: There is a 9″ difference between my underbust and full bust measurements, if you are bigger than this, it may not work, but it’s still worth a try!) One thing to keep in mind is that if you are grading, be sure to copy the armscye portion directly from the pattern so that you don’t mess up the fit of your sleeve–you are more than welcome to grade out once you are below that as needed. Of course, if you are confident and have a lot of sleeve ease or are planning to use a larger size sleeve, you might be able to fudge this a bit.
  2. Cut out the traced pieces and the muslin.
  3. Baste the main seams together using the 5/8th seam allowance. It’s going to be tricky, but you can do it! Just go slowly and DON’T use pins–they prevent the fabric from easing. Don’t use your IDT or walking foot either for the same reason.
  4. Check your fit in the mirror and see where you want to take in/let out. For me, I wanted to take in across the front shoulders, let out over the bust, take in immediately under the bust, and leave alone through the waist/hips.
  5. Mark each area that needs changed with some chalk and make some notes (mental or on paper) about how much you want to take in/let out, remembering that you still plan to eat/chase small children/breathe/etc. whilst wearing this thing.
  6. Leaving in your old basting, re-baste your seam curving gently in/out between your marks. (This way you don’t have to worry about puckers, pinning, slippage, and all that other jazz.)
  7. Pick out your original basting stitches and check your new fit–you should be good at this point–remember, too much isn’t always better, sometimes it’s just too much. We’re not going for sausage casings here. But if you want to take in an area a bit more or perhaps didn’t quite let out enough, re-baste just those areas and check the fit again.
  8. Once you’re happy, then take your colored chalk (in a different color if at all possible) and trace down your stitches (the ones you plan to keep, obv.) so that you can pick out the stitches and see exactly where your new seamline will be.
  9. Transfer those changes to your pattern pieces, adding and subtracting seams allowances as needed or desired–nothing says you have to keep using 5/8th’s seam allowances, but if you change them, be sure to change them everywhere or otherwise make note of it or you’ll have a not-so-fun surprise in the end. Not that I would know that from experience or anything…. 😉 I just laid the tissue pieces that I had traced off over the muslin pieces and gently traced the stitching line with a pencil, added more paper where necessary, and cut off the excess paper where necessary. Your pieces will probably look deformed and you’ll question whether you are some sort of mutant, but ignore that and focus on the fact that you looked HAWT in that blouse muslin a minute ago.
  10. If you’re concerned, check the fit of the sleeves, maybe attach a collar to your muslin to try it out in case you haven’t made one before (or just in a long time), and then you’re ready for the real thing! Now sew up several blouses, because you can never have too many, and no one will have to know you used the same pattern over and over because most blouse variation is in the fabric and the sleeves. 🙂

Now I realize that looks like a lot of steps just to skip an FBA, but I found that it actually took less time than hacking into the pattern pieces using the the slash/spread method, and then still having to cut/sew a muslin. Plus, I’m just not a lover of darts, sorry, not sorry. And one of the things I really like about the Burda block (which is what this tutorial is based on) is that it has high, small armscyes which helps me avoid the weird gaping that I sometimes get there.

And if you are a more visual learner, the gallery below should help clarify some of the wordyness from above. And feel free to ask questions in the comments if I need to clarify something or made a glaring mistake (I am a tired momma, after all!) Good luck and happy sewing! 🙂

Sewing! And a little bit of everything else!

A lot has happened since I last blogged! There’s been a wedding anniversary, a milestone birthday, a sick baby, a fair amount of sewing, stuff from some awesome sewing peeps, and probably some other stuff that I’m forgetting about right now.

Birthday

I’m finally 30. At first I was a bit depressed/stressed/whatever about it, but once it got here and Scotch had an ear infection, it was pretty much just mom business as usual. And honestly, I think that may have helped with the transition. I don’t feel any different than I did the week before, I don’t suddenly have more confidence or more wrinkles, so it’s really NBD. And hubby brought me pizza and the birthday cupcakes in the picture, which we had in picnic form at the city park, so even though Scotch was sick and I had initially been nervous about the “big day”, it turned out OK. 🙂

Also since I last posted was my hubby and I’s wedding anniversary. We didn’t get to do anything fancy since it was a weeknight, but I guess that’s just how it is sometimes. We used to go on golf outings for our anniversary, and I was sad it didn’t happen this year, but I suppose it would have been a bit much to ask my MIL to watch both boys for a couple of days when Scotch is still so little. Maybe in another month or two when he starts sleeping through the night…..again. (The ear infection screwed us on him sleeping through the night, he was for all of two weeks until that happened. 😡 )

And amazing sewing peeps! Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow bought a pattern for me (whom she doesn’t know IRL) and shipped it from Canada. (It got here crazy fast too, I was kind of impressed, given how long other people say stuff takes to go between the two touching countries.) I’ve got an idea of something to send her, but I need to find someone who knows her a bit better before I send it and find out she hates it. The other amazing sewing peep is Miss E from Calico Stretch! She sent me a Burda magazine, and I seriously need to sit down and trace off something from it (or maybe I’ll just hoard it 😉 ). I’m in dire need of an entire wardrobe these days after all! I feel like I should send her something too, but I haven’t come up with anything just yet…maybe she’ll leave me some hints? 😉

And last but not least! I’ve done some sewing! I made up a bunch of bibs, but I also did some actual clothes sewing for ME!!! And not underwear!!! If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably already seen that I’ve been working on fitting/refining the JJ blouse from Burda, and I think it’s pretty close. My boobs are maybe a bit perkier than the space allotted to them would indicate (what a problem to have, LOL!) but I think it’s a really good start, and I hope to make a couple more of these for the summer, though I need to figure out some different sleeve options, because I couldn’t for the life of me fit the sleeve from the pattern into the armhole without some major reworking. Unfortunately, I only tested for size to make sure it would fit my arm, and didn’t think to see if it would fit the hole–because should I really have to? On this one I didn’t bother with pattern matching, I only had 1.5 yards, and I made a 42/44 Burda size. I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough, but actually I’ve got a pretty good sized square left, so I could have maybe tried a little harder. But it’s also kind of a strange fabric with a directional print and I’m not sure I could have matched it up anyway. It’s pretty, but I nearly sent it back because I thought that it had a printing error. I’ve since decided that was just the look it was supposed to have and I was just mistaken. It’s still pretty anyway. And even though you can’t really see it, I opted for a lime green to topstitch with. I topstitched every princess seam, the shoulder seams, and of course the collar and button placket. I even made it with real buttons! I borrowed my SIL’s cheapo Brother to sew up the buttonholes for me, and I only had to pick out one buttonhole, which compared to the nightmare that is trying them on my Pfaff, was a breeze. So anyway, if you want all the muslin and WIP shots, check out my twitter feed. There’s a bunch of them, and linking to them on here one at a time is something ain’t nobody got time for. 😉

So anyway, here’s some pics of my finished sewing projects since I last posted. 🙂

Big swaddle blankets made for donation to charity. Our church has a big box that they collect stuff for babies in to give to new mothers or any parent that is struggling. I think I’ll end up making quite a few of these because they are so stinkin’ useful!! 🙂

5 of the 8 new bibs I made for the little guy. I’m thinking he’s teething, because we were going through bibs like crazy to catch all the drool. I used a pattern from PurlBee this time, and since I don’t follow directions well, the neck opening is smaller than the pattern intended. It fits fine though, so NBD.

A quick tip I came up with that worked perfectly was to use little pieces of wondertape to hold on my buttons while I stitched them down. It worked great for putting them on by machine, might be harder to do if you put them on by hand.

Try to ignore the fact that my legs are nearly as white as my shirt...

Try to ignore the fact that my legs are nearly as white as my shirt…

Anyway, hope that all of you mothers out there are having (or did/will have) a fantastic Mother’s Day!!

Spring Cleaning Fever

It seems like everyone in the northern hemisphere is spring cleaning–probably in hopes that spring will hurry up and get here. Or maybe that’s just me. 😉 Anyway, I was cleaning the shower today and not having much luck with the much beloved method of using vinegar to break down the hard water residue, even though I went to the effort of cutting a string of paper towels in half, soaking them in the vinegar, making a “rope” that I shoved in the offending crack, and waiting patiently….no dice. Then I remembered the one thing that worked really well on my basement toilet (it doesn’t get used very often, so it gets the hard water ring)…it’s a bit unconventional, but…

 

I ran a bead of it along the crack at the bottom, crossed my fingers, and let it do it’s thing. Even though I didn’t take a before picture of the orange and mildewy ring that was in my shower, I will show you what it looked like after I let the toilet bowl cleaner sit on there for about 10 minutes, and rinsed it off.

This *used* to be the worst corner--now it's clean!

This *used* to be the worst corner–now it’s clean!

 

One thing I wanted to make sure to note for everyone is that I DID NOT use the cleaner anywhere near my metal fixtures, I don’t know how it will react with the metal in them, so better safe than sorry–unless you are looking for a good excuse to get new ones. 😉

No, Lysol didn’t suddenly sponsor a post or give me anything, I just was very happy with how this worked, and thought that maybe someone else had a similar problem. As for me, I’m caulking that crack tomorrow, I just needed to get it cleaned out good first. I wish I would have done it when we remodeled, but you live and learn, amirite?

Taggy blanket

Yesterday I was in the city to pick up some supplies for bra-making, and on my way home I spotted the new Hobby Lobby. In that instant, I knew I was going there, and I knew I was going to make a taggy blanket. I’d kept eyeing the tiny ones at Target and kept thinking for $9 I could easily make one (or two or three!) and make them in a reasonable size (does anyone else think those things are ridiculously small to be called a “blanket”?) and in whatever colors I wanted.

And by in my own colors, I mean this eye-searing matchup.

And by “whatever colors I wanted”, I meant this eye-searing matchup of orange and lime green.

Cute, no? Still not big enough to be a “blanket”, though it would probably adequately cover Scotch* in the car seat in a pinch (like when I forget a bigger blanket).

So if you are looking to make one of these for some little ones in your life, I discovered a couple of useful tips that I thought I’d share with you.

  • Don’t. Seriously. Leave this maddening fabric to the industrials that get serviced every day and factories with janitors that clean up after it. It’s like banging your head on a brick wall–it’s not fun and people start to doubt your sanity.
  • If I haven’t talked you out of it, pin the tags like this so you can place them and still see them once there sandwiched in. I just eyeballed the placement, and I think this method got me pretty close.
Pin the tags like this for easy positioning and you can see their location even when they're in place.

Can you spot my pinning error? Grrr.

  • Another tip would be to cut it with a rotary blade. And be sure to push down hard on your cutting ruler thingy–otherwise the bumps make it hard to cut straight.
  • My tags were 3″ long, I’d say that’s about the perfect length for the 3/8″ seam allowances I used.

Anyway, have fun. I know that I will be as I make the second one for laundry day backup. 😉 But they’re just so stinkin’ cute!

*P.S. I recently updated my About page if you’re wondering what Scotch is.

Quick Tip

Here’s a quickie to share a tip I came up with yesterday when I was cutting out pieces of cr0tch lining. You know how sometimes the selvedges on knits want to pull tight and make wrinkles? I used to cut the selvedge off, but then later it would be a pain to find the proper layout on my small scrappy pieces (I try to leave the selvedge on the pieces if possible.)

Here’s how you fix it.

Totally one of those smack your head epiphanies.

Totally one of those smack your head epiphanies.

Yup. Just a few little snips along the selvage and the fabric lays flat. Now if you’re wanting those selvedges to stop rolling, I can’t help you. Sorry.

Hope this helps you!

Block Drafting; a tale in several parts

I recently discovered a new website (though I don’t remember how) that has a spreadsheet that you input your measurements into to draft your own blocks. Previously, I had tried a different method that required more thinking (i.e. the calculations weren’t already determined for you to just plug in your numbers and go) but it was tricky and we didn’t get a useable product in the end (I’m sure it was from our calculations, not anything wrong with the directions). And after constantly modifying patterns to add this or that, I decided that maybe I needed to try making my own again. Looking at some of the measurements, I have several doubts about how it’s going to work, but I’m going to give it the old college try (or perhaps a bit more effort than that, I’m not so long gone from college that I’ve forgotten 😉 ).

Anyway, if you use the spreadsheet, I highly recommend you watch the accompanying videos. They are really useful (the one under the generators in the link I gave above is helpful for filling out the spreadsheet, and the one after it that pops up in the “similar videos” talks about drawing it in Illustrator, while long, is also useful.) I’m planning to do mine on paper with a pencil, but it seems to me that if you didn’t have $300+ to plunk down on Illustrator, you could probably achieve the same goal with Sketchup (non-pro version is free) or possibly even a program called Inkscape (that one is also free, but I know absolutely ZIP about it.)

Anyway, I’m off to see how this draws up, hopefully I’ll have some draft progress or even a test run before this weekend…somehow I got sucked into the vortex of March Madness, and it’s taken up a good chunk of the latter half of the past couple of weeks, and will probably do the same this week.

GO SHOCKS!!

Red, Camo, and Blue

So, I know that our flag is red, white, and blue, but sometimes I just feel like I live in the land of camo. So, I rose to the occasion. 😉

Camo undies; for whenever you want your hubby to feel like a manly hunter? Or for when you don’t feel like faking a headache? 😉

I love making my own undies. They’re just such a great way to use up scraps of random knits that you have leftover from other projects. I think I may have mentioned this before. 😉 I do have one suggestion that I learned while making these though; if you are using a thicker cotton knit, don’t double the lining–it makes it significantly harder to put on foldover elastic.

Oh! I also came up with a new technique for sewing on the fold over elastic, which saves a ton of time and futzing. Sew the elastic on flat using a narrow zig-zag, (you do this by lining up the edge of your fabric with the center fold) then sew the side seams (including the unfolded elastic), fold the elastic over, and then do the triple zig-zag. I always tried before to put my FOE in the round using just the triple zig-zag, and it was fiddly, took forever, and after washing I’d discover I’d not quite caught the fabric in a small spot. This way is much faster, and much less fussy, even with the extra set of stitches. Best of all? Minimal pinning and no missed fabric! Hooray!

I hope that helps someone with their elastic endeavors! Let me know if you absolutely can’t get it though, and I’ll try to make up another pair and get some pictures of the process. Not like I don’t plan to make up a few more pairs in the near future anyway. 😉

Plasticated

Note: No yeti were harmed in the making of this post.

Plastication complete. You know that saying about you can fix anything with duct tape or J.B. Weld? No? Well, perhaps it’s a local thing. It’s true though. You can fix pretty much anything with duct tape, and J.B. Weld pretty much covers everything else…. For example, I fixed the Shower From Hell (this really needs a glowing red font of some sort) with some plastic sheeting and duct tape. So now, when we get started, this is what we will be stepping into:

"Now we're steppin' into the twilight zone"....

Crap, now that song is stuck in my head. 🙄 Anyway, after the plastic went up, I turned on the water to check for any yeti clogging the drain. Happily, there were none. Not so happily, I am an idiot because I didn’t think about there being junk in the lines, so I had to take off the shower head and clean the filter on it while the shower ran headless for a while to clear the lines. Let this be a lesson to you. It’s less work if you just leave the darn thing off and flush the line first. Really, that goes for any fixture that hasn’t ran a month or more, just take the filter off and let it flush out the junk. After the rust and/or sand is cleared, then you can put the filter back on. And you should probably clean those filters periodically even if you are using the fixture, because that buildup is bad news for your faucets. <–Tip of the Day.