Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Grocery Totes...

It seems like grocery totes are the easiest thing to make. You can go simple, as I did, or complex, which I can't really see a point in doing! I wanted to make it simple, so I thought about making a pattern myself. I have a Trader Joe's tote I bought there, and I thought I would just copy it. I drew a pattern, more or less the size of the side, and then did two sizes - one of the totes is larger than the others. I used a fabric shower curtain I found at the nice resale shop here in town, and cut out three totes. Of course you need two sides and then four strap pieces for each tote. I chose to make my straps the other way on my totes, which allows more ease of carrying I think. You could put them where ever you please. You sew the straps together, and then turn to the right side. I thought using double fabric for the strap would add some strength as well. I finished all the straps first, and then attached them to the bag after I turned down the top of the bag twice to make a nice little finished edge. I sewed double seams on all the sides and the bottom and I reinforced the straps and the bottom, making faux flat felled seams. This adds a bit of strength. On the first grocery run, I found that the store baggers were familiar with people coming in with their own bags, but the cashier was amazed that I made three of mine! She seemed to think the idea was right up there with the light bulb! I didn't really think so myself, but I let her admire my skills. HA! I might make a few more, as I have enough for a couple more out of that one piece of fabric. It has sort of a plasticized backing. Not too thick, but enough to give the fabric a bit of body. They are working fine for our routine weekly grocery trips. Easier to carry than plastic bags, and more ecological. Try making your own bags, you'll like it! Your main problem with these bags will be remembering to take them with you when you leave the house.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My Sewing Space...

Now it's the next day! Here is a morning shot with the light from the windows. And another as well! I share my space with books in bookcases, various oddments I have accumulated over the years, lots of pictures, filing cabinet, large desk, computer and peripherals, shoes, sweaters, and a lot of knickknacks I didn't mean to collect. I guess I like chickens...But I also like sewing machines, so for the first time ever, I have double furniture. Yes, two rows on two walls in here. Sigh. I cut out my patterns on the dining room table, and this is what we call the den. Mainly my den of course. My desk, my sewing, my books, mixed in with family magazine, books and file cabinet. Also the lifetime collection of family photos except for the ones I have all over the house as well. And stored. It is amazing how many pictures you just have to have around to give your den that homey feeling! I find drawers and organization help immensely with sewing in this room. I don't tend to have a stash, so one set of drawers is mainly fabric, and some fabric is on a chair as well. I like to sew it down to a minimal level, but lately I haven't sewed as fast as bought it would appear.Perhaps someday there will be an empty room in which I can just have a sewing room, but in a way this room is where I can hear the house and the family, and still be cooped up in my den, a retreat from the maelstrom of family life, yet close enough to get into the maelstrom should that be my wish.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Lutterloh and Burda...

I compared the curves on the two patterns I have, and the drafting on the two patterns is almost the same. I love both patterns. The Burda pants I have made are the most comfy pants I have ever made, and I have high hopes for the Lutterloh pants as well. The first ones I made are a bit tight. Measurements that are dead accurate are critical. I have a pair of black pants ready to go, and have just not sat down to sew them, but will update here when I do.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Shoes...aren't they about apparel?

Excuse a foray into shoes. I mean what good is sewing our nifty wearing apparel if we don't have fashionable shoes as well? I have been strictly tire-tread clogs for so long now. And one pair of dressy shoes for emergencies. This past weekend I happened into the Danform shoe store near me, and these babies actually fit my feet. Lovely brown tone, nice studs, great heel; they are from Ecco shoes. Nothing usually does fit, it's a width situation. And then, lo and behold two more pair fit? Could I leave two pairs that fit there and only buy one? No. I could not. So I bought the red pair here only in a dark tobacco brown, and they are Børn shoes. So comfy, all padded inside, just the hint of a back on them, and good for a bit less casual working shoe than my usual clogs with the no-nonsense sole. I've worn each pair now for a whole day, still the feet are fine. Happy happy...joy joy. Then there's that third pair...but they were felt clogs...must not...must not...

Friday, November 14, 2008

A bit of a quiet time...

Lutterloh pants are in the works, cut out and ready to be sewn when I get to it. Black material of unknown content, but I think it is a cotton/rayon blend. The fabric was in my mother's stash in 1997 when she passed away, and I have waited to find a suitable pattern. There is also enough to make a jewel neck top to match, but I haven't decided on a pattern yet. I want this to be a semi-dressy outfit for those very few occasions when I want to look a bit dressy. The top pattern in this photo will be a princess shirt, and I do have fabric for this.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Lutterloh Vest and Pants...

The vest and pants are done, pressed and already worn! The reviews are up on PatternReview. The pants pattern will need tweaking, and in fact I have already drafted another Lutterloh pattern for pants which is a few years old. This time I want to do a few more alterations. In these first three garments I wanted to do them more or less "as was" to see how the Lutterloh system worked. They turned out rather well, so I am going to press on with more tweaking in the next couple of patterns. I have a princess blouse drafted and that other pair of pants. Meanwhile I have two cuts of lovely rayon for skirts, so I will be looking for a skirt pattern, and all of a sudden I want to make a couple of dresses, so that search is on too! I think it's been many years since I have wanted another dress. We don't wear them often here. But all of a sudden...:) Is it that Fall is here, and the sewing area is a cozy place to spend my time? I bought a new seam ripper over the last weekend, and another bunch of really nice hand sewing sharps with large eyes. Made a trip to Joann's. I go there about twice a year. They had buttons on sale! 50% off! WOW. I got a lot of various colors and textures. Ferreted them away for some garments that in the future they will adorn gracefully. A variety of colors. The new seam ripper is the indicator that I will be doing more sewing! More sewing = more ripping!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Viking Sew On Foot Fun...

I didn't extol the virtues of my Viking Button Sew On Foot in yesterday's post?! What was I thinking? To save me time and energy, I will point you to the best place to learn all about that foot! I agree wholeheartedly with Debbie Cook about this foot, and she has done such a tremendous job of blogging it. I never before sewed buttons on with the machine because I never thought it would be better than by hand or would save any time. But Sunday I just whizzed through sewing on five buttons. Great foot - worth every penny!
In other developments, I have finished the Lutterloh vest. It needs a good pressing, and tonight I'll do that. It will just be a cute little accessory over beige, cream and white, or a very mellow pink turtleneck. I think might also add three buttons and of course buttonholes. The vest won't add much warmth. I am going to make another one in a more Vermonty warmth since winter is coming on sooner than I want to think about.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Lutterloh Shirt complete...

Here's the shirt, reviewed over on PR, and I like it! Here is a bit of the collar, showing the stand/collar as one piece rather than the two pieces of pattern and fabric the pattern indicated. That's one piece too much for me to bother with. The pieces of this pattern fit together so well. The collar was a perfect fit, and the rest of the garment went together well. The sleeves are a bit puffy for me, but I like the shirt. I did five buttonholes and five plain white buttons. My Viking sensor buttonhole foot decided to go off on its own and just do whatever length it wanted half way through a couple of buttonholes, so I switched to the regular foot, and used the memory feature for the last two. If I cannot count on that glitzy sensor foot, I won't use it at all any more, as the regular foot is actually easier. The shirt is a little large in the shoulders, but the next time I make a Lutterloh I will make my usual shoulder adjustment, using the shoulder template from Shannon Gifford's class on bodice muslin making. That template is extremely handy! Now I am working on getting the vest binding on, and that's going nicely. The pants just need hemming, and then they will be done as well. So - two more Lutterloh reviews this week I hope. :) Juliette on PR reviewed the Lutterloh pajamas she made a few weeks ago, and they look warm and fuzzy. Maybe I will make some winter warm nightwear. Those of us interested in Lutterloh are hoping that some other people will review a few more patterns each month, thus raising awareness and interest in the system. With computerized pattern software as popular as it is becoming, many people probably would rather buy one of those systems. They are, in my opinion, both too time consuming and too expensive to think about. I wouldn't want to bother with printing and having to assemble all those pieces of regular printer paper. Think of the bills for paper and ink! Lutterloh just needs paper, markers and your little patterns. Of course, I will make copies of the ones I use because I don't want to put little pin holes in my actual patterns!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Yes, I am still sewing...

Lutterloh is this month's theme. I have been working on my Lutterloh online class. Three garments are not finished, but pretty far along. The fitting issue is that the pants should have been a bit larger. This was caused not by Lutterloh, but by my use of the wrong numbers when drafting the pants. I am going to draft another pattern soon and give it another shot with a better measure. You have to be careful and measure really carefully with the patterns. Honestly might be another way to put it. ;) However, the pants fit, and I am very happy with the fit as well. They are cut rather like Burda pants are, which is a great Euro-fit in the most important places. The vest is a bit snug as well. I am going to try a full figured pattern, but I think this vest will be cute over a nice knit top, and I am going to make another Ottobre top out of some ecru fabric I bought from Gorgeous Things. The shirt is on the way to finality, but has a collar and facing to finish and the hems. Progress report to be continued.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Quilt 15 years old and the top is finished...

My Flying Geese Quilt is becoming a reality. it is an old fashioned use up those remnants quilt, and I can see some garment bits in there. I love that. Although the quilt is now 15 years since inception and the first square, the top is finally finished with the piecing and the sashing on the edges. It is a very odd shape. Extremely long and not that wide! It turns out to be 67" wide and 115" long! Backing and batting and tying come next. I hope to make this this winter's project. HHmmm...did I forget to mention the binding? I think I did. I have cotton from my mother's stash (that I inherited) which is the fabric I will use for bias binding. It is the dark version of the sashing fabric. So the sashing and the binding are a reverse effect. The tying and the binding are a long hand done project. I have bound one quilt in the past and found it wasn't so difficult, merely time consuming. And a good excuse to sit and watch the telly on those colder winter nights.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ottobre tee time again!

Thinking about using up the left over fabric from my last tee, and remembering that I had bought a remnant of the same stuff on a recent visit to the fabric store, I thought about making the little guys jammies. but looking at the yardage I found there wasn't nearly enough. But, there was enough to make another tee! This time around with Ottobre Woman 2-2007 pattern 2 I raised the neckline over an inch and a half. I really like a higher neckline than I had been making. I cut the fabric yesterday and began to sew right away. Finished the complete garment today, hem, sleeve hems, and neckline. I used self-bias binding, and that really made a nice neckline. I have used this pattern so much. Ottobre does clothing for real people. Each issue has at least several things I could conceive of making. I haven't made anything but the tee so far though.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Burda dress is finished...

And a lovely dress it is! The instructions for the neckline binding were new to me, and it worked out very well. Burda has a few different ways of doing things. The dress fits perfectly. The fabric is a very light batiste, and that required some careful handling. This was my second Burda pattern. The first was the pants pattern reviewed at PatternReview.com. Both patterns have impressed me by their excellent drafting. The pieces actually fit together like they should. This hasn't always been the case with my big 4 patterns. the only alteration we did was to petite this pattern between shoulders and mid-armhole. The great part of this dress is the bias sections of the skirt and the back skirt. It hangs so very nicely, and the bodice fits so well with its four tucks. I will certainly do another Burda or two.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Pfaff 1199 comes home...

Many years ago at the same time I got my Pfaff 1222E, my mother-in-law got her Pfaff 1199. We inherited it a few years ago, but the search for a foot pedal took a long long time. Finally we got that, and then there was the hospitalization for a complete checkup and a new gear or two. Finally she is home again and sewing smoothly and beautifully. There isn't a lot of information on this model on the web yet, and the manual isn't readily available. We have the manual for the 1222E and the same threading and bobbin arrangement are common in this era of Pfaffs so that's no problem. She joins our little family of sewing machines, and has a cosy nest in her fantastically 1970s ORANGE retro case under my sewing table. You can see the fabulous case. YES, though made of metal, she is a COMPACT machine. Weighs a good bit more than my heavier Viking platinum, but way less than my 1222E. :) For her day she was a lean mean sewing machine! And spectacularly groovy in her case!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Just a Catchup...

Added a few more great links to sewing blogs...so much talent and fun out there! Yes, I have been working on the sewing too! How's this for a shirt? In the planning...the fabric is cotton medallions from Gorgeous Fabrics. So, my sewing blog seems to have overtaken the regular blog now. MORE TIME...more time is really needed in the day. To whom do I send the petition for the 35 hour day?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Burda dress...and Lutterloh

The Burda summer dress is coming along well. I did two muslins, the first didn't fit, being just a tad small. Believe me a tiny mini-person could make a dress out of this. So I cut a size larger, whizzed up the muslin and it was a GO. Now I am half way through the finished garment, and Burda is wonderful. The pieces really match, the bodice darting is so very clever on this pattern. You sew the darts, but then when the bodice is sewed and the band is applied to the neckline, you release the darts and they become tucks. Very nicely done.

First I read the boards on PR, and there was mention of the Lutterloh System. I had seen this some years ago, but didn't even want to concentrate on how it might work, it looked far to complex. Now, from a different perspective, I see that I would love to try it. I priced it out on the Lutterloh U.S. site and on the Lutterloh NZ site. Then I searched eBay. Old sets go on eBay for upwards of 50-100+ for fairly recent (with in the last 20 years?) sets, and the vintage sets go for a lot more. So - wasting time today I looked once again at Google. I had Googled the heck out if it over the weekend, and never saw HSN. Well, today there it was. HSN has it! And at a far lower price than even the Lutterloh website. I bit. Now lets see if I can do it!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Summer dress project...

Beginning right to fit a dress for my daughter. First the shoulder muslin, then the shoulder template out of poster board so that it keeps well, then the alteration of the pattern. We are using Burda 7798 and a lovely pink/white fabric from Gorgeous Fabrics - the Sew Sweet Cotton. I haven't gotten to the altering the pattern step yet, but that's next. The shoulder template will make the shoulders of the smallest size just a bit smaller. then the petite adjustment and the muslin. Keep tuned for more!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Vermont Quilt Festival 2008 visited...

With a couple of intrepid friends, I took on the Vermont Quilt Festival. You do have to be intrepid because after you schlep around the two large buildings of the Champlain Valley Exhibition, visit vendors, enjoy a bit of quilt admiring, and look at all the sewing machines, you suddenly realize you need to sit down. By that time everyone else has had the same realization, and all the seats are taken. So, you keep going. I picked up a bargain on last year's Quilt Festival tote (I was there last year!), and on a beginner sewing book aimed at the kids, but FUN! After seeing the demo for the Miracle Ironing Board Cover, (actually, we saw it at least twice), all three of us bought a cover. There was a press of determined quilting ladies slowly constricting the area of the demo, and the phrase wait your turn was apparently an unknown concept to several women. After waiting patiently like the good Vermonter she is, one of my friends finally got her cover, and we escaped the mob, dragged our aching feet out of the show and headed out to lunch. Any more than half a day and I would need a week to recuperate! As it is, my feet are nothing but foci of pain!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Quilt in its fifteenth year...

When I was 9 or so my grandmother and my mother taught me to do a simple square patch quilt. Some years later...in 1993, I began a somewhat ambitious project - I decided to make a large flying geese quilt for my first real quilt. Calculating the number of pieces now is a good reason never to have started! I modified a pattern from one of the quilt magazines and onward I trod. I cut and sewed some pieces, then put it away. I took it up again every few years. Then this year I decided to finish all the strips. The strips are the length of the quilt top, and there is a wider strip in the center, and there will be sashing around the outside edges, then binding after the quilt is assembled. I am not sure that this won't be in the running for the most ugly quilt, and certainly the technique can be critiqued by the real quilters, but this is a traditional quilt. There are pieces from old garments I had in my teens. Material I brought from my mother's stash after she passed away is in this quilt. I did buy some of the fabric in it, but most was intended for some project and I used the left-overs for piecing. The Flying Geese pattern is my favorite of all quilt patterns. I could make them one after the other as far as piecing goes, but I don't think I will make another quilt any time soon. Surely not a large one. This one will probably be another year in the finishing. Right now though I feel like finishing it this summer! I am able to have my Pfaff 1222E up and running as my quilting machine now, dedicated to that purpose as long as I want it to be while my other machine sews other projects. That's fun. Having a machine just for the quilt is a blessing.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Notes on added links and my pictures...

I added a couple links on the right to blogs which are of real interest (as are ALL the links over there or I wouldn't put them there...). Today I added Quality Time and mediatinker. Both sites have some tutorials and both are a lot of FUN. To mediatinker I linked to her creative link, but the whole site is fascinating. Not all sewing - in fact mostly NOT sewing, but eclectic and interesting.

As to the pictures you see on this blog, they may or may not be directly related to the content. If I am talking about a project, they will definitely be related, otherwise I tend to eclecticism myself (the model today is wearing his GramJammies!).

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Some nifty aprons....free patterns

White Sewing Machine Company published a pretty little booklet back in the mists of time with aprons and apron patterns. Dorothy's Aprons & Handmade Memories offers the pages from this booklet as scans which you can download and print free. What a lovely booklet it is! I love the Mardi Gras pattern, and may even attempt to make it! Have a look, and while you're there, look at the lovely work Dorothy's does!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Projects accomplished and Deco Fun...

I finished the Ottobre 2-2007 top in turquoise, with deco top stitching, and I also finished the rayon silky fabric skirt in brown with leafy jade print.These pieces are part of my Summer 2008 Wardrobe plan, and I reviewed them tonight as well on PR. I don't think I will do a wardrobe this way again because the cross-posting involved on PR to link each to the wardrobe plan is too much. It is a lot of time that can be used in other ways. Just a review of all pieces individually will be my future way to go and a plan for myself that I can have here on the blog, but not trounce to death having to cross post time and time again! The top stitching was really fun. Trying out all the stitch banks to see which deco stitch I wanted was both experimental and fascinating. They can be mirrored side to side or top to bottom, and they can be combined. In the end I went for the simple stitch #11 in stitch back 3 on my platinum. The viking certainly frees you up to concentrate on the sewing. I used four presser feet on this top alone! Edge stitching foot, Left edge stitching foot, Presser foot A and Presser foot B.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Vermont Quilt Festival...

Once again it is time for the Vermont Quilt Festival! End of this month, June 26th through June 29th, and SUCH FUN! I go to make the rounds of the sewing machine vendors and see all the machines, just to look and admire all the features. There are so many nice sewing machines out there now. I try to stay away from the fabrics because I don't quilt! As to the quilts themselves, they are works of art. Although there are some traditional quilts there of course, most of the quilts today are art works, art quilts, art with fabric. I haven't the patience for the precise work they take, and I would feel trapped into a project that size. My mother was a master quilter, and I know what dedication and work it takes, and how much quilters love their avocation. The Festival is well worth the time and money to visit, even if you don't quilt. It's nice to be there under cover when you're a garment sewer!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Delicate alteration...

I was asked to shorten the shoulder straps of a lovely white summer dress. The material is an extremely light white cotton batiste and the straps are wider in the front, gathering into the back strap as they meet at the shoulder (rather like the dress Marilyn Monroe has on on that famous picture of the air vent!). I had to take out the incredibly tiny hemming on each side of the straps, then cut the straps off at the shoulder, press, run gathering lines on the front and sew the new seam between the gather lines as I gathered.Then redo the side tiny hem along the edges.

I have to tell you I was nervous about this. There was no room for error on my part. I planned ahead: I used the straight stitch foot for the gathering and seaming, I used a #10 sharp needle, I used the regular zig-zag foot for the edging so I could see what I was doing, and I used regular tissue paper as a stabilizer on the gathering stitches and the seam itself.I think it took me as long to finish this as it would have to zip up a tee (not counting the finishing edges on the tee). I did this all on the Kenmore 19233, which behaved marvelously, and only had a minute or two of impatience with me when I managed to break a needle - you guessed it - when I forgot to change to the zig-zag foot fast enough. Thankfully, the machine, the dress, and I are all fine, and so is the straight stitch foot!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bobbins...storing bobbins...

After waiting for these bobbins for several weeks after reading about them on Sue Houseman's blog
I even looked for them on a recent trip to Seattle! After I came home with none from there, I tried my local Viking shop again and there they were! They are just a pretty as I thought they'd be. it's not like I needed more bobbins, and to tell you the truth my favorite Viking bobbin color is still the green, but now I have plenty of bobbins and some color on the subject!The winning feature of the new bobbins is also that there are twice a many in a bag for much the same price! 20 instead of 10! that's a good deal. Now I need a really innovative and clever way to store bobbins. After much searching, I found that Artbin makes bobbin boxes, and Joann's has them online, so I ordered four to try them out. There is no perfect bobbin storage. The rings are awkward to find a place for in my system of drawers, so I hope the boxes will work out.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Wardrobe sewing...in progress...

This is the plan. My first SWAP, yet it is not a pure SWAP because I won't be able to wear every top with every bottom. The jacket should go with everything though, as will a brown cord jacket I made a few years ago, and a top or two already finished. The skirts are going to be McCall's 4657, which I used in Making a Skirt Muslin taught by Shannon Gifford on PatternReview.com, and adjusted throughout the class. However, the skirt pattern is much changed. I do a sew, flip and sew elastic waist and make it more A-line than the fitted skirt in McCall's 4657. The tops are Ottobre Woman 2-2007, and the pants are Burda 2614, and the jacket (probably modified some) will be Kwik Sew 3531. This past long weekend, I finished a print skirt, the first one on the top row. The blouse last on the top row has been reviewed on PR, and the link to my reviews is over on the right. The pants on the middle bottom row are finished, and they are another color from the same pattern as the Burda mud green pants reviewed already and on the link on the right. I have cut out the blue pants bottom last, and they are the same Burda pants. I just bought gorgeous fabric from Gorgeous Fabrics! A lovely ecru for the ecru top, the ecru jacket fabric, and a lovely print of tan, ecru, and pale jade blue-green. The print is not allocated to a pattern yet. I am caught between wanting to make it a jacket and wanting to make it a skirt, and will probably do the skirt. As full a skirt as I can make it. As slow as I sew, I still hope this wardrobe comes to fruition this summer!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Pointy Kitty has a nice day...

Today while I was at work, Pointy Kitty found the door and hopped outside in the sun! The massive amounts of cat food were like manna to his little pointy soul. Then he frolicked in the grass among the tulips...a fine day. Good thing my daughter was there to take his picture having such a good time. Sometimes a less serious sewing adventure works to lighten the spirit!