Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Happy 2007!!!

It is now 2007! We had a quiet end to our year. The younger monkey stayed up till 9:00 pm and watched a Polly Pocket movie. The elder got to stay up till midnight, watching Jurassic Park. Even though it was a hard thing to watch him struggle to stay up, he had done his part in napping this afternoon and agreeing to sleep in, so we let him hang in there and then carried him to bed after the ball went down in Times Square. While the movies were on, I went into the shop to sew ...

Last week, I had cut with an extra 5/8" s.a. and plan on sewing a full 1". I am not going to trim in back except in the curved areas. Even though I am lining this coat, the wool is a bit ravelly, so I am going to serge the edges of the wool. I am also going to machine baste the fleece to the silk at 1/4" from the edge. I could not fit the bias sleeves in the jacket I was going to recycle. So, that jacket is going to stay in the back of the cupboard for a while. That way I can use it for other things if I need it. I managed to find enough fleece in the stash. It isn't a microfleece, but it is a 100 wt, so I think it will be OK.

I managed to baste the fleece to the silk and do the darts on the front lining. I have the back pleats pinned, but want to compare to the facing before I sew as there are no markings. The sleeves are stitched to the fronts and back and the pockets are assembled, flipped, and slipstitched. Ready to attach to the coat tomorrow after I serge the edges of the wool. I know that it will all be hidden by the lining, but I really am trying to raise my standards a bit on this project. I am taking my time and relishing working with these fabrics ...

There has been much said about the instructions in HP patterns. I am not quite intermediate, but I do have a fair amount of knowledge under my belt. The instructions state that you have to know how to sew a shawl collar but do not elaborate further. To me, that assumes that you know to reinforce the corner with interfacing and then staytitch before clipping into the corner. The only other observation is regarding some missing hash marks for matching facing pieces, but as I tend not to use them anyway, I am not too upset. The muslins went together fine without them. As others have mentioned, Trudy and Jeremy assume that you have a certain amount of either general knowledge or a good reference book. For instance, the patch pockets are lined and faced. you are told to leave a gap in the seam joining the facing to the lining and then to stitch to the pocket. You are not told to trim, clip curves or corners or flip the pocket. Common sense tells you this. I really see myself growing in confidence as I sew HP projects as I am better able to see what lies ahead and expand my skills sets. For me, sewing is a journey in relaxation. The fact that I get a wonderful piece of clothing at the end is even better!

Well, I am off to bed. The New Year is here and I have one more wonderful week with the Pilot before he heads back to school. Lots of family time and there may even be a date in there as well ... we won $100 on the lottery Friday night. That paid for pizza and donairs for supper tonight and the movies after. We may be able to get a babysitter out of it as well seeing as we have movie passes! Rather than making any resolutions, I am counting my blessings and enjoying what I have. May you do the same in the rest of this year!

After the muslins ...

Remember that red silk that wasn't? Turns out it was black and was in a totally different location than I was looking. My sleeve linings are going to be blue in the front and black in the back. Love stash scraps, don't you?

I managed to cut out the rest of the coat and the interfacing as well. I can now sit and start sewing. It will be great to be off my foot for a while. I had enough of the blue to get the entire coat cut out with the brown for the pocket and collar facings. I am going to self line the pocket with the brown wool. The Obi belt seemed really wide on me, so I cut the width back in half. I don't think I am tall enough to carry a belt that wide, although really did emphasize the waist nicely...

I hope to have some major progress to post tomorrow. The Pilot comes home tomorrow, a whole day early! Gives me butterflies even though he was just home last week. Knowing that we have him for 2 whole weeks makes this even better. That is present enough! I am lucky that he is only up the road 5 hours and not deployed, though. After 18 years of trying, he has not yet gone. I know it will come eventually. Maybe this is my year in training? I am counting my blessings ...

It hit me today that there are 5 days till Christmas and I have yet to start the little monkey's skirt, big monkey's top and anything for me (not counting the coat). The Pilot's shirt, we have agreed, can wait for Darrell. I was going to make the Trumpet skirt, but heels and I won't mix for another couple of weeks, I think. I thought I would start the HP Dragon pants and throw together a twist top ... depends on how fast the rest comes together, I think. Well, I have pulled off more in less time, so I guess I just have to get at it! Supper first then time with the kids. Once they are in bed, away I go ...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Shirts ... again!

Well, in keeping with a holiday tradition in the Newman household, I had the Pilot try on a muslin for a shirt. And once again, I have a nice fit in the back and the shoulders are an easy fix, but there is so much fluff in the front and for some reason it doesn't want to lie straight. I have decided to just stop trying to fix the KS pattern. I am going to start the muslin on the Vogue pattern instead. I hope to have that muslin done by Monday. Then I can make an appointment with Darrell for a fitting session. Maybe he can figure this out ...

I found some wonderful stretch velvet on eBay last week. A wonderful melange of browns and gold that the photo does not do justice! This will become a holiday dress and skirt for the little monkey and the HP Chilled Out Sweatsuit tunic top. I have some more of the velvet coming in a red floral pattern on black. I am not sure what that will become yet, but I am sure the little Monkey will claim some for herself. She was wandering around the family room with the fabric draped around her like a toga for a while. She is now sitting with an arm on the box it came in. I can see that this will be a fast project to sew and I will have to do my best to keep her out of it before Mass this weekend!

In the planning stage of the HP coat, I asked for and received plenty of advice regarding insulation and linings. People from all across the continent gave me help, but in the end, I needed somebody who is in the same climate as me to help out. So, I spoke to Kay, a fellow sewer in Ottawa about coats and thermal layers for our city. She just reviewed a wonderful coat on Pattern Review. I needed some advice about whether or not to actually sew in the MM thermal layer in my coat. I have it cut out and will stitch it together, but I will hold off actually putting it in between the lining and the wool. If I really need it, I will fashion it as an under vest layer. I like how Kay managed to add a front zipper to her coat and am going to shamelessly copy her closure ideas.

I managed the past two days without crutches. This morning, I managed to get a lot of shopping and driving done. I also managed to do some wrapping this while the kids were at school. The downside is that I was standing on carpeted concrete wihtou slippers. My foot is now very sore. I needed to put it up this afternoon for a while. Time to put movies on for the kids and rest! I picked up "The Devil Wears Prada" this afternoon to cut and sew by tonight. But first I have to take some Ibuprofen ... and maybe order in Chinese for supper!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

How not to get your holiday sewing done on time ...

Well, all my plans for sewing this season have fallen through the cracks. OK, fallen down the stairs ... the last one step to be specific. I am in a golden position to nothing but sewing as I have a bad foot sprain, but I can't do any standing for any period of time. There lies the problem. I have nothing cut out. Lots of time to sew, but nothing cut! No new patterns to study, no new books/mags to read (the spousal Santa should have picked up the new WOF for me, so I don't dare go pick it up. Not that I could as I can't drive right now! ARGH!!!

I think I am going to brave it for a bit anyway as I am going nuts trying to be still and keep the foot elevated. This could be a golden opportunity to get some of those Silhouette patterns done up as they usually don't need any FBA. And maybe the kids' clothes ... Elder monkey wants some of those tops that have the mock double sleeve with (gasp) a collar and younger monkey needs a new skirt to go with the cutie lace top I bought her for Christmas Day Mass. I have some black velour I can do up for that ... maybe with some red accents. I could add some godets for a really twirly skirt. Maybe I should look through my OD back issues to see what I can find. Then there are those T's for the Pilot; those can be cut and produce in a production line.

This is much better. I was dreading the fact that I can't work on the coat as that would take too much standing to cut out all at once and there would be no sewing in between. I think what I have to do is organize and multi task. I can't work on the coat until the lining is done. Ergo, I cut the lining and interfacing first with a top or two as well. When I need to elevate, I sew. When I can stand for a short period, cut tops.

The coat can be cut quickly once the lining and interlining is put together. I have enough of the main colour to use self fabric for the sleeve interlining as I don't want to use my thermal layer there. It would be too bulky and take away from the bias drape of the sleeves. I can also cut out some swatches and practice bound buttonholes on the wool. If I am satisfied with the results, I can go ahead with those. IF not, then I will do button loops and maybe hide a zipper in the overlap. I also remembered that I have some more silk charmeuse in the stash. I have some wonderful Christmas red left from a formal I made a couple of years ago. Whether or not it will be enough to line the bias sleeves, I am not sure. Will have to go digging in the cedar chest. If not, then maybe I can use it for the facings, freeing up more of the navy for the sleeves and body.

The Pilot and the monkeys are being so wonderful right now. They did the groceries this morning while I was getting my hair done. The elder monkey actually volunteered to walk his sister to school yesterday. Huge advance for him to actually volunteer to miss some playground time and be seen socially in public with her. I was so proud of him, making his own lunch and her breakfast as well. He even drew her bath for me so that I would not have to do the stairs last night as the Pilot had not arrived home yet. Whatever other things they do, as monkeys tend to go crazy quite often this time of year, I have been blessed with wonderful children. Their behaviour reinforces to me that the Pilot and I are raising them well. I think that is the best present I could ever receive ...(the gingerbread tree brought home from school by the younger monkey as a get well gift is a close second)!

The new Hot Patterns baby arrived this week. Two monkeys in their home now ... may they be as happy and blessed as I feel right now. Congratulations, Trudy, Jeremy and Gideon!


A trip into the cedar chest revealed only a beaded silk remnant, no charmeuse. So, I found some Ambience lining that was bought for some floral chiffon and will use that for the sleeves instead. Another find was some Malden Mills Windbloc microfleece. There was just enough to use as a thin thermal layer for the body of the coat. If I cannabilize a jacket that I no longer wear, I can have more for the sleeves. Having a thin layer of windbloc will be very helpful. So, tomorrow, I get to recycle fabric and a coat length zipper while I elevate my foot. When I finished digging, I managed to stand long enough to get the lining and thermal layer cut out for the body. I have enough charmeuse to cut the neckline facings as well. Tomorrow, while standing, I will cut those and the contrast neck facing and interface.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Next steps ...

The "new" serger arrived yesterday. I threw together a TNT pattern to test it out. I used a silkweight powerdry to line an unruly sweater knit in a pullover top. It is amazing how differential feed makes certain fabrics behave! This is just what I needed to get out of a bit of a sewing slump.

I just finished the lining muslin for the coat. I needed to take a short break to prep a chicken for supper. This can prevent so much hurt from happening. I am going to start cutting as soon as that bird is in the oven! I am going to start with the lining and then work my way out so that I can adjust up as I go if I need to. I don’t have enough of the silk charmeuse to do the sleeve lining, so I either have to go see Darrell or use some other fabric in the stash for the sleeve linings. Seeing as I have used my fabric budget for December already, I think I may hide the poly in the sleeves. So, I will cut the lining and facings today and then I should be able to get them interfaced and stay stitched soon. If nothing else, I will get to finish the edges of the fabrics with the new machine (any excuse to use the new one!)

The Pilot is home for an extended weekend and I am getting my hair done tomorrow and I may even do some more Christmas shopping if I get brave enough to go to Toys R Us on a Saturday ... I still need to get this year's Lego instalment for the kids. Girl Monkey is finally getting her own box so that she can stop bugging her brother!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Independance is worth it!

Even though I live in a national capital city, there aren't that many fabric stores. There are the usual Canadian chain stores (Fabricville and BouClair) and precious few indies. Darrell Thomas Textiles is one of those. His boutique is so cozy and full of fine fabrics ... and upstairs he is putting up some examples of garments made from his fabrics. After years of having people beg to purchase his samples, he is now producing items for sale as well. And his button wall, oh my! Lovely selection and his staff certainly know how to help pick buttons for your projects! I will get Darrell to order in some Italian shirting for me for the Vogue shirt. For that one, Darrell is going to help me with the fitting. I had registered and paid for a class in the fall that ended up getting cancelled, so we are going to use my credits up in custom fitting sessions for the Pilot's shirts. That way I know the fit will be right!

I am really lucky in having Darrell's little shop. While I cannot always afford the fabrics, nor would they suit my stay at home Mom lifestyle (I can't see me wearing a silk blouse to do housework or bake ... I don't live on Wisteria Lane!), I have bought some lovely wools there. I have a really nice wool sweater knit that I am fell in love with at first sight and had to have! When the ccredit card, agreed, it was a no brainer! Just the knowledge that if/when I need first hand advice or need a special piece of cloth for a garment, I can go to Darrell is so worth it! I make the trip downtown to buy good quality interfacing and linings now. I save the cahin store trips for kids wear and costumes now. I belive that I am turning into a fabric snob, although looking at my stash you might not believe it! Maybe a snob in transition?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Thinking about Shirts ...

Like my friend MB over at The Stitchery, I am also on the quest for the perfect men's shirt for the man in my life. The pilot husband is built like a line backer and loved to work out so that he can "keep up with the kids". This means his back is very well developed as is his upper chest and neck. Without knowing better, he always thought that having a shoulder seam half way to his elbow and a yoke seam below the shoulder blades made a shirt fit "right". After finding a Geoffrey Beene shirt in a thrift shop a couple of years ago, he now knows better. The shoulder seam is only slightly dropped and the sides are not so loose fitted anymore. I would still like to see him in a trimmer fit, though. Having a looser fit in the body puts about 20 pounds on him that he doesn't really have! So, I have been working off and on (more off than on with him away this year) on this for him. I told him I wanted to get him something other than the usual tool, CD, book combination for Christmas this year. He then told me "How about a nice, soft cotton shirt in a heavier weight?" Not one for a tie, but a casual wear shirt that he can wear open.

So, looks like I will get him to try on the last muslin again and see where the new starting point is. The muslin is the old standby, KS 2777. I also have Vogue 8096, recommended by my friend Darrell Thomas, owner and instructor at Darrell Thomas Textiles, here in Ottawa. He makes his shirts and they are an amazing fit! I think that all the play with KS to get the shoulder seam and neckline will be fine for a relaxed fit, casual shirt. But I really like the look of the Vogue one. Newman's Needle received a Christmas present from The Stitchery a couple of weeks ago and I think that might just become the KS shirt.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Knowing When to Stop

I was reading a thread over at SG the other day about slowing down your sewing to gain more accuracy in order to prevent mistakes. I agree with that and posted my own rule about stopping at collars, cuffs, sleeves and waistbands. When tired, these are the places most likely to require frog stitching the next day. As I attacked yet another mod in my attempt at drafting the perfect cut on hooded shawl collar for my HP coat, I realized that I need to stop. I have done 4 versions and none have worked and I am no closer to the vision in my head. However, there is snow on the ground and more coming. The temps are steadily around the freezing point and lower. I need to have this coat finished so that I can wear it. It is not yet cold enough for the down coat already in the closet, but it is getting too cold for just the Gore-Tex and a sweater.

So, last night I took the muslins and started to cut back the hood to leave just a widened shawl collar. I then made the changes to the pattern. I have tweaked the fit enough that I think it will be a good fit. I am going to finish the lining muslin tonight and then I am going to cut the windbloc interlining. If it feels right between the muslins, I will then go and start cutting the real thing.

Why wait till tonight when I had all afternoon? Because I have to design the layout of 3 pages for the in laws family calendar and I really have to finish painting the dining room. We have one wall left to do, but I can't do that one as it involves moving the china cabinet and removing all the contents ahead of time. Need to have the Pilot here for that one. What is the good of him working out at the gym and staying so buff if I can't drool over him once in a while while he works, right? So, I will start the calendar pages once I am finished here and then take them to the Posties.

When I get home, I will put on some music from Loreena MacKennit's new album. I love the blends of cultures in her music. Her music is what I imagine ancient bards used to be. When I listened to this one clip, I realized that I had not bought any of her latest albums. I have 2 or 3 already, but this one I love! I love the fusion of the eastern and western music. Sting has another track I love for the same reason ... I love his song "Desert Rose". Great sewing music, even the little monkey loves it. It "helps [her] concentrate" when she is sewing, she says.

The Pilot has another week of work away before his 2 week break, so I am going to get a late start on the holiday sewing marathon this year. Usually I get going after the second Sunday of Advent as he occupies the kids at night and I disappear into the sewing room. I have't even gone looking for fabric for the DD's dress yet, let alone started Pilot's new shirt muslin or even my own holiday clothes. Then again, if I cam going to get that HP Trumpet skirt done, I am going to need some boots to go with it ... So, which comes first, the skirt or the boots? Shoe divas, help me out here!

Some good news, although I said I was going to wait and save my money for a new serger, the need to reward myself for those casual hours and saving $ combined with the Scottish genes from my father. Last week I found a New Home 234 D serger in excellent shape on eBay. I tried real hard to not get my hopes up as I did with that Janome that I lost. But God was with me on this one. I was the only bidder and got the serger for $75 plus shipping. I had the shipping costs already in the Paypal account from selling a few back issues of WOF that I no longer wanted. Combined with the money I earned/saved, I had enough saved that the post shipping tune up will be paid for as well!

So, by next week, when I am ready to start sewing the wool and silk, I will have a differential feed serger in the shop, ready to play ... Good thigns come to those who wait. Last week, somebody else waited to the last minute and took the other machine and now I have one as well. Patience and persistance to pay off! And I paid less for this one which make sit even better in my books! This machine is not TOL, but it will last me a few more years as I get used to using 2 needles and the diff feed. Hopefully it will last a long time and I can start saving for an actual new sewing machine. That one will not be an eBay buy as I want to test drive many different brands. The German blood in me wants a Pfaff, but I really like the Huqvarnas ... lots of feet to play with. And button holes are a big issue with me. I will be doing lots of road testing on my own fabric swatches once I am able to actually go out and buy. Of course, this could happen as soon as this fall if we are posted ... I get a share of the next leftover posting $ for my workshop. The last one went to a table saw, shop vac, drill press, new drill and numerous hand tools. None of which I mind, BTW.

We have a deal, the Pilot and I. As much as he spends in his shop, I get to spend in mine. And we only count items bought brand new, not used items. So far, I am at a potential buy of about $1000 (Canadian). Now, if only I can convince him to get that chop saw ... Of course all of this has an ulterior motive. He has promised that when he removes his uniform, and we have settled into our home of choice, he will build me a custom workshop. Considering that is at least another 10 years off, I/we have lots of gear to buy to deserve the wonderful shop I am envisioning ...

Friday, December 01, 2006

Linings and facings Part 1

I needed to take some time away from the coat yesterday. I had added an extra 5/8" s.a. to account for the interlining and sewed at only 5/8". This made the coat very large and bulky even over a heavy sweater and a length of the lining fabric underneath. So, I went back and stitched a larger s.a. to make a total of 1" from the cut line on one side of the muslin. This still gives me an extra 1/2" per seam so I think I will have more than enough room now without looking like I am wearing a tent. When I sew the re-stitched side, I was much happier. I stitched the lining/facings the same way, at 1". so far so good.

I have mentioned before that there are lots of pieces to the lining for this coat. Rather than just a front, back and sleeve lining, there are also back neck facing, front and back shoulder facings and the 2 piece front facing that is also the shawl collar/hood. I have the pieces all cut out and have the facings put together and am now working on the lining. The facing pieces had no connecting marks, but they are pretty obvious since this is a raglan sleeve, matching the proper angles was easy.

I have redrafted the hood again. I am still not happy with it. Part of it is also because I did not extend the CB neckline seam enough to account for the extra s.a. I added at the 2 piece sleeves and the CB. I was forging along until I realized that I had forgotten to add the extra s.a. from the sleeve seams (cerebral rot moment ... otherwise known as sewing till almost midnight). If this hood draft does not work, I will draft a separate hood that will button onto the coat body. Or, here's a novel thought - wear a hat!

As it is now the weekend, I am not gong to do much on the coat. The Pilot is home and we are taking the Monkeys to a local Museum that we have not yet been to. Then Sunday afternoon is family portrait time followed too quickly by the Pilot leaving again.

Another thing that has me a bit bummed out is that I lost the auction on eBay for that serger. I had it up till the final minute when somebody else came in and swooped it out from under me. There was no time to counterbid. I am so disappointed. I had my hopes up when there was no activity against my bid for over a full 24 hours. Oh well, that's life on eBay, right? Make your bid and take your chances ... I guess this may be a sign that I should wait and keep saving and buy new, right? After all, I have dealers for all the brands here, all it will take is me deciding which one I want/afford. And how long I am willing to wait to get there!