Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Yet more picture-less rambling from me

I finally got to start on my pants, and it's going rather well, I think.

So far, I've done the following:

- Cut the pants and the lining out. Incidentally, could a step be more tedious? I used to think sewing darts was my least favorite sewing thing. But I've now decided - nothing is more painful than cutting. And cutting lining? Ugh, ugh, ugh.
- Sew the back darts on both the fashion fabric and the lining.
- Get the side-front pockets in. (I skipped back welt pockets, since this iteration is mostly a trial, and also because I'm a little tiny scared of welt pockets.)
- Get the fly front done, and attach the lining at the fly front. (The lining w/fly front bit I've mostly figured out by trial and error, looking at all my RTW pants for clues on how it's done. I've yet to see a tutorial for this - dear readers, does one exist?)
- Sew the outside leg seams of the pants.

Basically, I think I have the following steps left:

- Sew inside leg seams
- Sew center seam
- Attach waistband (thankfully, already cut out and interfaced)
- Attach inside waistband (cut out, but I need to add bias binding to the bottom bit)
- Hem pants
- Hem lining

Looking at that, I'd say I'm about 66% done? The bit about attaching the center seam around the fly front area is always tricky to me - and I always get a wrinkle there. Which is always lovely - everyone wants a wrinkle right at their crotch, no? But the rest is relatively simple.

I own David Coffin's pants book, and I've looked through it in bits and pieces at various times. For this version, I took one critical bit of advice from him - I skipped trying to figure out which Vogue/Simplicity/Burda size would fit me (the answer, from previous iterations seems to be - (d) none of the above), and just ripped apart an old RTW pair that fits me pretty well.

Ripping apart an existing (serged) pair of pants was a bit of a pain in the ass, but you learn so much from the process. So far, in my RTW pants, I've discovered:

- 1/4 inch seams throughout
- no side seams on the waistband - there's a join at the center back, and obviously the center front is buttoned/fastened, but the left and right waistbands are cut as one piece. No extra bulk at the side as a result.
- different patterns for fashion fabric right and left waistbands, and different patterns for the lining right and left waistbands.
- to minimize bulk at the center front, the waistband is folded back on itself, and the lining join happens at a spot that isn't the center front. (I reread that sentence - ridiculously unclear. I'll take a construction photo to illustrate when I'm at that step.)

As a tangential aside - there seems to be a bit of prevailing wisdom on some 'sewing expert' blogs that RTW is crap, and hand-sewing hems, hand-basting and hand-anything else is the way to go. I couldn't disagree more. I would love to get the kind of consistency and efficiency in my sewing that RTW produces on a regular basis.

Anyway. I've bravely not tried on my pants so far, since I used a pattern that 'should' work. Tonight - I should get far enough with sewing this that I can try it on, and let's see? I'll either throw another tantrum, or be over-the-moon happy.

Friday, January 27, 2012

In which I throw a tantrum

Ok, I didn't actually throw a tantrum, but wow, did I come close.

So, last night - I'm all ready to sew. I serge my lining seams, I fully construct the lining, and I'm at that final bit, where I attach the lining and the dress together, and voila! I'd be done. I couldn't have had, at that time, much more than 1.5 hours of work.

Before I did that final step though, I decided to try it on - hadn't done that since the zipper was properly inserted, and figured I needed a quick sanity-check fitting.

And of course, my zipper stuck.

It's hopelessly stuck. For no reason whatsoever, as far as I can tell. In the process of tugging at it in sheer annoyance, I've broken bits of it as well. My only recourse right now is to rip the zipper out and replace it. (Of course, I didn't have a zipper in stash for this. Because that would have been easy, wouldn't it?)

If I had remembered to breathe deeply and strive for perspective, I would have noted that this has never happened to me in 4 years of sewing - and I was overdue for a stuck zipper.

I didn't get quite that zen - but I did refrain from flinging things across the room. And then I promptly packed up the project into a little bag, and I'm now going to hide this till I can bear to look at it again. Let's try maybe the middle of February.

I needed two episodes of Doctor Who to help me calm down. Once that had happened, I was able to work on my pants pattern. More on this soon...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I'm late, I'm late...

Stalled before I even started, dear Readers.

Let me explain. (You know you are going to hear an excuse when a post starts out that way, don't you?)

I went out Monday night for my mom's birthday, Tuesday night for trivia (a weekly thing) and a friend was over for dinner last night. Which means that I haven't really had very much time to sew.

And then there's my sewing table. It is covered in stupid crap from the stupid lined dress I've been making since December. If I put the unfinished bits of that dress away, I might never, ever finish it.

So, I decided that I'd finish the dress first, and then make pants. Which might have worked in a regular week, but not so this week, I just am not at home enough.

Tonight - I have a free night. I'm going to try to finish the dress. It'll probably take the full evening, but it'll be worth it.

Friday, I'm out again. If I wake up early Saturday, I'll have a few hours to sew, but I have plans again from 3pm for the rest of the evening. Sunday, I might get 3 hours to sew, but that will be all.

Overwhelming conclusion? No pants this week.

Unless, of course, a miracle happens, and I magically find more time than I think I have. Let's hope for that, shall we?

Monday, January 23, 2012

A black & tan shirt (modified BWOF 02-2011-114) & deorphaning a skirt

I finished this little shirt a while back - cut it out over Christmas, finished it in early January, but I kept postponing taking a photo - I was hoping for daylight, outside photos. Finally, in the end, I just gave up - inside photos are boring, but I'm not going outside in short sleeves for the sake of my art...

This shirt was made with a modified BWOF 02-2011-114 pattern. Basically, I eliminated the horizontal seam in the front and back, and and cut both front pieces as one piece, and both back pieces as one piece. I also eliminated the short sleeves, and just hemmed out the cut-on sleeve instead.

I love this fabric. I bought it when shopping with Connie, Claire and Sue over the summer. This was exactly what I'd envisioned when I bought the fabric - but, such is the backlog of projects that it took 6 months for me to make a 1-dot BWOF pattern. Sigh.

Now - the de-orphaning. I've had this cream skirt in my wardrobe for a few years - but I've never worn it very much - mostly because the only top that suggests itself is a cream, which I'm afraid I'll spill things on, or a black, which is super-boring. As I was standing in front of my closet though, I had a bit of a brain-wave - what if I pair the stripes with the plaid?

Dear readers, I'm a pretty safe and boring dresser - this was almost crazy-talk for me. But, oddly enough, it works. And a co-worker even mentioned she really liked my outfit, so, bonus all around. Perhaps the skirt will get worn more often now.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

SWAP 2012 - a plan to get it done

Dear readers, as you saw in my post yesterday, I'm easily distracted. If I'm to complete my 2012 SWAP (and I do! I need wardrobe basics!), I needed a PLAN.

So, I pulled out Excel, filled in the weeks, and made a plan. I'm already done with my two blouses (I think...), so up next would be two pairs of pants.

I've allocated the entire month of February to work on my raincoat - simply because I think it will be the most challenging thing I've made - both in terms of complexity, and in terms of sheer fuss. In addition, I don't have a pattern for this. Any suggestions? I've 4 years of past Burda issues to look through, and I could snoop shop RTW for this as well.

In March, my feeling is that I'm going to be sick of major projects, so March is about the easy quick wins. Skirts, t-shirts and a hoodie.

And I'll finish with another complex project, a lined suit jacket in April.

Which is, on paper, a good mix between long meaningful projects (which I should do more of) and quick instant-gratification projects (which I do all the time.)

In general, I'm a great planner but am terrible at follow-through. I'm counting on you, dear Readers. If you see me talk about some sewing that isn't on the plan - call me out, will you?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

January goals, a WIP, and more...

At the start of the month, I wrote down two sewing goals, along with how long it would take to complete these goals.

1. Sew a pair of pants (5 hours)
2. Finish (10 hours)

 - Cream t-shirt,
 - Lace t-shirt
 - Grey and pink blouse, 
 - Orange dress, 
 - Black t-shirt 

I'm actually doing pretty ok on the goals - I've finished a few of the projects I cut out over the holidays, and I've identified fabric for pants.

The problem though, is while I'm trying to stay focused on the goals, there's a zillion little voices in my head, trying to distract me. Some of these:

- A woolen black dress would be such a wardrobe basic - I'd wear it every single week. 

- If I make my cream suede skirt, I'd be able to match my grey and pink blouse to it. And then I'd actually have a finished SWAP outfit.

- Look how cute Robin's hoodie is - I want to make myself one!

- My niece just had a baby boy. Should I make a baby quilt? 

- What about this half-finished black and white dress that's taking up all the space on the dining table? I should finish it before I cut out a new project, no? But then again, it doesn't fit, and I need to lose weight. Yuck*. 

- Atleast in 2012, I should make something from each Burda. 

- How do I not have cute sleeping clothes when I know how to sew? I should fix this!

- Should I participate in the Sew Weekly sewing challenge? 

Anyway, as you can see, there are a billion thoughts swirling around, preventing me from getting anything done.

Last night, one of those deviant thoughts took center stage.

- What about this half-finished black and white dress that's taking up all the space on the dining table? I should finish it before I cut out a new project, no? But then again, it doesn't fit, and I need to lose weight. Yuck*. 

This dress has been sitting on my table forever for the last 6 weeks. I've been procrastinating on this for multiple reasons - (1)The fabric is very, very ravelly, and it needed serger involvement, which in turn required getting the serger out of the box, (2) it's a lined woolen-ish dress, and therefore has a lot of steps, and (3) at first try-on, it is sausage-in-a-casing tight. Ugh. Anyway - just because of the room it's taking up, I'd like to get it done this month, even if I'll have to wait a while to wear it.

Last night, I worked on setting in the sleeves. In the main dress, I still have to get the zipper in. The lining isn't constructed at all, and then of course, I'll have to integrate the two. I really just need to get it done - I use my dining table both to sew on and to cut on, and with the serger out and the sewing machine out, I haven't been able to get anything cut out. (And eating - forget about it. I eat on the couch in front of the TV. Bad Reethi.)

*Which is a good lead-in to a rant. I went to my gym last night after a few months of not going. My gym used to be a nice independent gym - but sometime in November, it got taken over by a big-box gym. I've a bit of an irrational dislike for this big-box gym, and added onto my natural avoidance of the gym anyway, I just haven't made it in. Still, last evening, I gave myself a stern lecture and headed there - but it was a zoo! None of the machines were free - it was super crowded, and I'd have to stand next to someone working out to stake my place out for a machine. Yuck.

So, I don't know how I'm going to handle this. Evidently, this is the new normal - the gym is a zoo between 5pm and 7.45pm. I'll have to either wake up and go in the morning (who am I kidding?) or work out at 10pm (assuming I haven't been out in the evening.) The most obvious time to work out - when I get out of work - seems to be the most obvious time for everyone else to work out as well. Maybe I should work out at lunch instead. (I'm lucky, both work and the gym are 5 minutes away from home, making this option possible.)

Monday, January 16, 2012

A third version of BWOF 06-2011-106

Dear readers, it's cold in Toronto. As a result, there will be boring indoor pictures on the blog until further notice. Sigh. I guess a trip to the Allen Conservatory is in order.

I cut this shirt out on vacation in Myrtle Beach, but needed the serger to finish edges, so it didn't get finished until last night. I could have sworn I was being careful cutting it out, but somehow, I've managed to place a flower on my breast. Ah well, atleast it wasn't a pink flower.

I bought this fabric in April with a gift certificate my friend Anna gave me for my birthday. (What a fun gift!) The last top I made with Anna's gift certificate, I've worn constantly - I'm hoping the same will be the case for this top.

Previous versions of this pattern are here and here. 3 versions in the last month? Why, yes. It's a great pattern, and really easy. Highly recommend.

Parting shot - cooking:

There's a new eatery in my neighborhood that specializes in grilled cheese sandwiches. $7-$10 for a grilled cheese sandwich. Yikes! I love grilled cheese sandwiches, but that's ridiculous.

I had some leftover grated radish mixed with masala and green chili (a paratha stuffing), and as a grilled cheese experiment, I added it to my grilled cheese sandwich. Along with some onion and tomato slices. It was delicious. But then again, is there anything you can add to a grilled cheese sandwich that will make it less tasty? I think not.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Two very spoiled cats

Dear readers, I think I've stated it before, but my mother is a little crazy loves her children's pets very much. Little Biscuit is very, very spoiled, for example.

Well, it isn't just Biscuit. For Christmas, she decided to make the three cats (my one cat, and my brother's two cats) quilts for Christmas. Ahem. The two boys got blue quilts, my little bear gets a pink one.

Of course, my mother is ambitious, but also crazy busy. So, the tops got done, but that's it. Quilting was delegated to me. Sigh. Not exactly fun sewing, but I put my dutiful daughter face on, and did it. (Also, slightly self-centered reason - I've found that practice is actually useful when machine quilting. This was low-pressure practice - the cats don't actually care how good the quilting is.)

Keshav's cats are better behaved than my little devil. In my house, a quilt has just to be laid out, and Biscuit is lying on it in a matter of instants. Keshav's cats though needed treats to be convinced these were for them.

I'm not sure if they decided which quilt belonged to which cat though. They might be still fighting over it.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Winter Orange Dress

How many patterns does one really need, dear Readers? I took about 4 patterns to Myrtle Beach, and it seemed plenty enough. I must rethink the 4 boxes of patterns I have, not to mention the many back issues of BWOF.

This dress was very simple - it is my BWOF boatneck top, 02-2009-108 on top, with a simple pleated rectangle as a skirt.

After sewing it, I tried it on - it was way too long, and it looked a little Amish-ish, - not quite the look I was going for. I shortened - rather ruthlessly. Right now, I think it's a bit too short, but since it's a winter dress, designed to be worn with tights, no real harm done, I guess.

The fabric is something I found in a Myrtle Beach WalMart (one of those few WalMarts that still has fabric) - it's a sweater knit. It was super-cheap, I think I paid $2.00 a yard for it, which makes this a $4 dress. (I'm happy about the $4, but happier still that I've already used both of the pieces of fabric I bought at Myrtle Beach.)

Sunday, January 01, 2012

The results of half-assed packing

Dear readers, you might ask - "Why are you wearing a half-finished shirt on the beach?"

Ahem. When you live in Toronto, and decide to head south for the Christmas holidays, there's a certain insouciance associated with the packing. You pack a couple of pants, a sweater, and a couple of tops, and then you are done.

And so, when I had to go to the beach, I looked among my clothes, and realized I had no layering clothes. And I *needed* layers. Hence, I pulled out my half-finished shirt, layered it over a navy blue henley, tossed a jacket over, and consented to leave the warmth of the car. :)

Shirt details - A nice basic - BWOF 02-2009-108, previously made here. I've still to finish the neck, arms and hem the thing. Either tonight, or when I get back home.