Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Diversions ...

After 48 hours of refereeing Hamster Boy (the child formerly known as Elder Monkey) and the other Monkey, I needed this afternoon of fiddling in the workshop. What made it a bit more special is that the Monkey spent it with me. The last time I was at Wal-Mart, I picked up a beginning sewing kit. Despite the photo on the box, the purse is actually a really bright bubblegum pink. The age is supposed to be 8 and up, but I figured this was a good opportunity to have a mother-daughter activity, so I bought it anyway.

It is a cute little kit, although I am not sure if an 8 y.o. would wear it as I think it is the perfect size for the Monkey. The kit comes with everything you need: a real ravelly boucle fabric and a bad poly stable velour knit for the lining, fancy buttons and a feather boa for embellishment, and a rope for the strap. Thread, snaps and pins were also included. The instructions were written well for an 8 y.o. to follow, but the Monkey can't read yet, so I ignored them for the most part! I did the cutting and pressing and sat her on my lap while sewing. That way she could help feed the fabric through and help me sew. The only changes were to interface the boucle for stability and to zigzag the boa vice whip stitching it. The way she plays with it, it needs the extra strength! Here is my burgeoning seamstress with her pooch pouch:

Of the 10 fitting photos I took while fiddling with dragons, she is in the corner of about 8, intently sewing on her buttons while watching TV in the shop. She loves little moments like this afternoon, as do I, to tell the truth. Many a time I would watch my mother sew clothes for me as I played on the floor. Many a time I wished that she would sit me on her lap and "help" her sew. Unfortunately, her fear of a needle going through a finger proved stronger than my cutie factor ... but she made up for it when I was a teen and she passed on all she knew then! I hope that this little project will ease her jealousy over the Rodent a bit.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Knowing when to stop ...

I have been fiddling with the back of the Dragon Pants off and on for a while now, waiting to see if I can achieve a nice fall in the back. The problem? Some vertical fullness directly below the crotch curve that was not correctable by a horizontal dart alone. What I have done is to deepen the pant side of the yoke seamline at CB by 5/8". I also deepened the CB seam below the corner point of that seam (this "curve" is an almost right angle). I also narrowed the inner leg piece at the center leg seamline, but I think that needs to be set back to normal as it gives a bit of a pinched look at that seam. Good thing I have not trimmed anything! What I am left with is this:

What I see is more wrinkles at the bottom of the curve. Will this be cured by clipping the seam? Do I need to raise that yoke seam more yet and add depth to the yoke to rid myself of that wedgie feeling? In other patterns, I have had to make the dart about 1", maybe that is what this needs to remove that little bit. OF course all this means that I need to add a smidge to the s.a. @ the s.s. for comfort in addition to the removal of the vertical front dart. The standard front vertical dart is included in the shaping of that seamline, so I removed it by reducing the s.a., straightening the seamline to allow me to zip the pant.

Could I have finally have found a standard adjustment for any pant pattern? A 1" horizontal dart and a really deep crotch curve at its base. OR am I just being obsessive in my search for nice fitting pants? And finally, which fabric in the stash will finally end up as a dragon?
Relaxed and fluid Pants, designed for medium to light weight fabrics like washed silk, rip-stop nylon or even panne velvet...think drapey!
I have some lightweight wool in a chocolate brown that was on tap but I wonder if that will do. It might just be a bit too lightweight.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


We finally managed to convince the Pilot to allow a Pet. Elder monkey's next door neighbour playmate has been asked by his parents to remove the Hamster. The Boy has too much work and activities to take proper care of the Hamster. Elder Monkey dearly wants a pet and is motivated to earn his Pet Care badge at Cub Scouts. The hold out has been the Pilot. Having done 2 moves with a feline, he is hesitant to move again with an animal. He also didn't think that the house can handle one. But a reasonable discussion about trial period of 3 months (equal to the time required for the badge) and the fact that this is the perfect opportunity for Elder Monkey to prove he is responsible enough to have a pet, turned the Pilot around.

The Hamster arrived today. Monkey spent yesterday and this morning reading online about hamsters. Most of the afternoon he has been in his bedroom reading and watching/playing with the hamster, now christened SCRUFFY. I will post a pic tomorrow while the Monkeys are at school.

Step one to my real goal of a Beagle dog!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Biggest Birthday Wish is Really Small

Get your kleenex out people! This is a tear jerker ... I was sent this last night by a fellow Scout leader.

There is a 7 year old boy at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (located here in Ottawa, my home town), who is battling cancer. He has said that he would like to get a lot of birthday cards. He actually said that he would like to get the world record for the most amount of birthday cards. At the age of 7, I am sure that he did not realize that the record is 33 million cards. I am not the type of person who gets involved with chain letters and this will probably be the only thing like it that I would do, but something about Shane's story touched me. I would ask that everyone who receives this email, send a card to Shane (You can mail it to KISS FM...follow the link that I have included in this email for the address). Quite a few of you that are on my email list are involved in Scouting or Guiding. I would ask that you bring this to your groups and use it as a craft idea. This is something that the youth may enjoy, and I am sure that it would be something that Shane would enjoy!

I would also ask that you pass this message on to fellow Scouters, Guiders and Co-Workers. Let's try to get this message all across Canada if we can. Shane turns 8 in May. You can meet Shane by checking out his profile by following the link I have provided.

105.3 KISS FM The radio station has a mailing address that you can send cards to. They will take them to CHEO (the hospital) to Shane.

TLP Foundation

This is the ultimate Hallmark moment my friends. I ask that you read and then pass it on to any other Scout leader or Guide leader you know or even to any school class that would be interested in helping Shane achieve his goal. Thanks so much!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

TAG # 4

HAH! I found another blog to tag ... one that I didn't know existed! Connie B. TAG!!!
seamingly simple

This should be lots of fun! I am adding her to my blog roll. We roomed together for the CSNF in Toronto a couple of years back and had lots of fun! We are talking about doing PR weekend in NYC this fall together as well.

Monday, January 22, 2007

I am so not good at TAG!

I have not been doing well in cyberspace today ... my tag links have not been put in correctly .. thanks to The Stitchery for all the tech assistance. I have now tested the links and they now work. So, your patience has been rewarded!

I am only going to TAG 4 people as I am running out of blogs that have not already been tagged!

ilove trim
Sue Vite

Let's see what comes out of this!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

I'm back!

I have not been hiding in my sewing room nor have I been avoiding the tag game, honest. I just spent the past 48 hours at the first part of a training session for leaders with Scouts Canada. The course is the advanced leaders course and has leaders from all sections (age groups). It was a very intense and busy weekend and I am not sure that I fully understand all that I have absorbed as there was so much information given out and so much done. Definitely learning by doing as we made emergency shelters in the snowy woods, had a formal campfire in the snow in -20 (C) temps on a night so clear that we all spent an extra hour freezing while just looking at the sky without any interference from lamps and buildings.

I was taught so many actions songs and chants by a set of twin 18 yo leaders in training that my head is spinning. These two boys are the walking poster children for Scouts. They have been in since they were 5 and have grown up in the organization and their enthusiasm is so very infectious! They were a joy to be around I can't wait till the next round in April to see them again and to learn more even though I am exhausted from late nights, eating too much food and laughing way too hard!

I think I have made up my mind about who to tag. I am just trying to make sure I do it right (and check to make sure that my "victims" have not already been tagged already!) So beware all of you ... you might be next!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I've Been Tagged!

Diva Mary Beth has tagged The Needle! Man, now I have to think about what to say about myself and how to put my personal self out there for all to see!

Here’s how it works:

1. someone tags you, (thanks MB!)
2. you post five things about yourself that you haven’t already mentioned on your blog (seeing as I haven't posted much other than this job and sewing this give some lots of leeway!)
3. you tag 5 people you’d like to know more about (that will take some thought ... I know of 2 off hand, but will have to think about who else to tag as I don't follow many personal blogs right now)

OK, five things that you don't know about me ...

1. I am the youngest of 4 girl children and have no brothers, making my upbringing a hot house of estrogen combined with German stubborness (Mom) and good old Army thinking as Dad was a Sergeant Major in the Canadian military. This background lead me to a uniform early in life as I joined the Air Cadet system and discovered I really thrived in this environment. So, off I went to Military College (think a Canadian version of West Point, only we have all three branches of our military in one College rather split into Army, Navy and Air Force). I loved that too, but found out the hard way I am not an engineer. Turns out that loving theory isn't enough, you have to be able to apply it and do lots of higher math. Not my strong point. So, combine that with an injury and I left the College after one year, but stayed in the military and received my Officer's Commission in the Military Police. At 19 I was handed a badge, rank on my shoulders and told "you are now a leader of men" abd qualified to be the Head of Security on a base. Scary isn't it? After 8 years of that life I had an inkling to actually live in the same province as the Pilot (especially after the wedding!) so I semi-retired and took command of a Reserve Unit in his location. We had to re-learn how to love together ...

2. Fast forward a few years and we are posted again. I decide to hang up the uniform for good to avoid future separation (you know that will come back to haunt me) and go back to school to get that degree I started back in the Military College. I go in with the intention of avoiding law and all things legal as I want something new. What chooses my interest? The first prof of my first day shows a slide of a map that shows Antarctica on the top. Confuses the kiddies in the classroom. Finally somebody speaks up, "Sir, I think your slide is upside down". Response? "Who says that North has to be up? What natural law is there that says it must be so? Naming north as up was an arbitrary decision by an individual." My interest was highly peaked ... and anthropology became my passion. Moving around so much in my life exposed me to many things, so this is perfect for me! Combining it with ancient history, religious and native studies made for a wonderful 3 years of reading and writing of papers. I wanted to get my Masters, but the first monkey arrived first. And a posting for the Pilot.

3. My "retirement" dream is to own a bookstore. The Pilot thinks it would be great and we laugh about throwing in a sewing lounge as well. If we make it a 3 floor enterprise we can have a communal wood shop on the ground floor, the books on the main floor and the sewing rooms upstairs. Gonna be a big building but will combine all of our passions in one. The only stickler is where ... we are from opposite sides of the country so we both differ on where will be better to live!

4. I miss the ocean. I spent a large portion of my teenage years living on the shore of Nova Scotia and really miss the smell of salt air and the on shore breezes ... that is one thing that both the Pilot and I agree on. We need to see water when we settle down. One of my favorite escapes was to go to the beach, sit on a rock and just watch the waves ... so soothing and a great way to reduce stress.

5. I am in love with a dog at the local Humane Society but can't bring him home. We don't want to have a pet while we still are moving every few years. The dog is a beagle cross named Snoopy. Perfect for walking along the beach ...

Now, who to tag next ... difficult as I don't like to do things like this to people who don't like to participate in such things. And my blog exposure is still narrow. So, who to send it to ... I think I will have to sleep on that part. Ponder it while I get groceries!

Careers revisited

I just had an interesting chat with the manager of the club I had interviewed for. While I did not get the administrator position, she would like me to consider becoming a personal trainer at the club. I would be trained and certified by them before being let loose on the floor, but she thinks my personal skills and experience would be of better use outside of a "solitary office". Another concern was the fact that I was honest about the fact that I will not be here for more than 2 years due to the Pilot's military career path. The other candidate was avail for longer. Valid concern for a management position and one that has kept me from applying to a number of different jobs.

So, given that the club GM wants me on staff in some capacity, I have to consider if I want to follow her suggestion. She wants me to apply to be a "membership ambassador" which is no more than a glorified tour guide who shows the members how to use the equipment and gives tours to prospective members and to do some shifts in the child care room as well to give me exposure to the company as I complete the personal training program. She will be recommending me to the Fitness Director as well. To be honest the prospect of doing the child care on a employment basis does not appeal to me even though it means I can bring younger monkey to work with me. As for becoming a personal trainer in this club would also involve sales targets, and I don't think that sales and fitness should mix. But it is portable ...

Another factor to consider is the reactions of the monkeys (not to mention the Pilot) to this whole idea of Mom working outside the home this year. We had always agreed that I would stay home till the kids are both in school full time (next year). The monkeys, younger one especially, are not keen on this. The elder is concerned that he will lose morning playground time to walk the younger to class each morning. The younger, being only 5, is upset at losing the big hello hugs when I pick her up at school. She is really acting out this week. She actually said that right now "I am her normal Mom" until I start work. All I wanted was to take on half days to give me some extra $ to pay off some bills. I figured I would be able to work till school is out and I would be clear, but she is not ready for this. Time to look for other solutions. Maybe I can set up some in house sewing lessons? Actively publish myself for custom sewing work as well? It is another option ...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

There Be Dragons ...

I have started the next HP project. The Wong Sing Jones Dragon Cargo Pants are one the table and the muslin is half done. I likes this pant due to the lines of the leg. This pattern also has that right angle crotch curve that has received rave reviews. I want to see how that fits my shape. I have two different pants from WOF patterns that also had 2 piece legs and the fit were wonderful. This pattern has an additional horizontal cut below the knee and the casual back and cargo pockets. It is also meant for lighter weight fabrics. I just happen to have a lightweight brown wool gab in the stash from a Fabric Mart mystery bundle that I think would be perfect for this pattern, especially if I could find just the right teal colour for the top stitching.

So far, I have I cut out the size 16 without any changes. The last HP pant I did was the Skinny Jean and the 16 GG had room for me to play with, so this should be the same. For this first muslin I am using a mystery wool blend from my mother's stash. It is a heathered stone wash denim blue. As this is a muslin, I have not pre-treated the fabric. I am interested in the fit, so if it turns out to be wearable, then I have to hope it does not shrink too much. And hope it softens up a lot!

The instructions on this pattern are great. The sequencing is easy and there are no surprises. The zip application is slightly different from what I have done before. Unlike the Betzina method, there is no cut on extension or fly shield. You sew these on. The application of the extension to the leg and then stitch the zip to the extension and topstitch. Then you apply the zip to the shield and then the shield to the leg. As I was doing this, it seemed to be the reverse of what I am used to doing. I also had to rip part of the topstitching out to get a good seamline on the zipper and shield. I will add a cut on extension and insert the zipper using the Betzina method. Much easier for me. And I am going to topstitch using my regular foot vice the zipper foot as mentioned in Threads recently.

The pants are assembled and the first try on has occurred. If I had already lost the 25 pounds I am working on, the fit would be perfect! However, these are for now, so no photos will be posted. I can't close the zipper, so I have two options ahead of me. For the purposes of this muslin, I can let out the seams above the crotch area. I am going to start with the CB and the s.s. and see how that goes for the back and then open up the centre seam on the front legs. If I go down to 3/8" s.a. that will give me 2 1/2" extra to work with. Another option is to re-cut the front pieces only and straighten out the CF seamline. Right now it is one big dart. Putting it on-grain would give me another 2" as well. That would be less work to accomplish and I have extra fabric ... and lots of spare zips. So I think I will remove the front leg pieces and recut on grain and see if that will do it. When I attached the waistband, I stitched each piece to the leg and then sewed the s.s. and CB, so removing the band is not a problem. It is machine basted anyway.

Even with this little speedbump, I think that I will have the quickest pair of pants out of the envelope ever! Not even the Peggy Sagers pants were this easy to fit. So far they legs fall really nicely in the back. If the Razor Sharps and the Everyday Pants fit like this, I may never have to buy another pant pattern ... dare I hope?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Jalie Redux or Thanks Kathleen Cheetham!

What a day! Mid January and the thaw is over ... not that we really froze to begin with up here. IT has been hard to believe that I live on the same latitude as Moscow! We got about 4 inches of snow today. Not much, but enough to make people really silly when driving! Even so, I was only 10 minutes late for the second interview only to find out they were expecting a phone call asking to delay. Really? And how serious a candidate would I be if I had to do that considering it was only 4"? And considering that I learned to drive in this type of weather on the Atlantic seaboard?

The interview went well, I got very good vibes off of this as I did not see any others being interviewed, unlike last week. Not to mention that they were going to call me tonight with the results. But I am out this evening with Scouts, so they have to wait till tomorrow to tell me!

What did I wear, curious divas want to know? Hee hee ... nothing new I am afraid. Headache last night stopped me from doing anything more. So, the cardigan topped a RTW silk knit top in a nice teal worn over my Jalie pants. As I noted in my review of these pants, there were some fitting issues that needed addressing. I have since altered them a bit. A few issues back in Threads there was an article by Kathleen Cheetham on altering the back of RTW or already completed pants. I immediately thought of these pants and decided that this was a way to fix my back problem. So, here is the before shot:

What I did was to remove the excess by pinning a horizontal tuck along the widest part of the back, tapering to nothing at the s.s.. Measuring the tuck (about 2 1/2" YIKES), I then lowered the waistband the same amount, cutting off the extra fabric. I will alter the pattern to reflect the change in the back pattern piece. I also made the vertical adjustment, pinning out a 5/8" vertical tuck from the bottom of the crotch area to the knee. As per the article, I then removed this amount from the back inseam only, tapering to nothing at the knee area. That I have to do this is not a surprise to me as I had originally added a bit extra to the crotch points and I think this is only removing that excess. I still have to hitch the pants up a smidge (as I am doing in the photo), but doing any further changes at this weight will result in a sever wedgie! So, I will live with the slight excess until I drop a few more pounds. Here is the much improved after shot:

Now the debate is whether or not I use the same size next time! I seem to have taken a lot out doing these fixes. Is it worth starting over again when I know how to fix this size? The other thing I have noticed is that the waistband placement needs to be lowered at the s.s. as it has a curved appearance right now. Something else to do in the next version! I think I will stick with this size for now. Maybe when a few more pounds come off I will downsize (pun fully intended!) And yes, that is the HP Cherry Blossom coat in the background, resting on Mindy. I still haven't hemmed it. You have to be in the mood for handwork, you know? And awake, too!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Bo Ho Cardigan - finished

I finished the cardigan last night, so I am set for tomorrow. The Pilot heads back tonight, so I should be able to hem the coat and have that finished off for the snow expected tomorrow! I chose to make the ties out of self fabric, but to use what I declared to be the "wrong" side out. This gives a subtle but nice contrast effect, I think. I have some fabric left, maybe enough to make a pullover for the younger Monkey. She tried to explain that she wants a top that wraps. My little fashionista to be ...

I was really pleasantly surprised by this pattern. The one review I had read made it seem like it was a horrible pattern. I found it to be totally opposite. Even though this is a totally wearable muslin, I would love to have this in a wonderful wool knit to snuggle down in the cold weather. The only thing I will change in this is to either widen the collar a bit or use the binding to give some extra width. And maybe add a button to it to secure the fronts a bit better than the ties.

Next HP up ... Dragon Cargo pants! Those will happen after I hem that coat tonight!

To do list ...

Well, so far I have managed to get the Sportive Suit jacket and the Lacy Wrap Cardigan finished. The Cherry Blossom Coat only needs to be hemmed. Last night I was too tired to do it. But I may get at it tonight as I watch television.

I have one more job interview to go tomorrow afternoon, and will wear the cardigan over a silk knit mock Turtle and my Jalie pants. If I get the position, I will have to sew up a storm to provide myself with a wardrobe for a casual workplace. So, what to do next?

As I am managing to lose some weight, I need to either alter pants or make new ones. I have lots of fabrics that are suitable for this work environment, so I can easily make new ones. I think the next pair will be the HP Dragon Cargo Pants (minus the dragon embroidery on the leg) in a nice wool gabardine from fabricmart. I may also make up another pair of Jalie pants in black brushed twill. I have some brown ottoman (like an unbrushed twill) from Ressy that may become the Everyday Pants. Depends on how it washes up.

For tops, I need a number of them. The first one will be a twist top with a cut on sleeve from WOF in a white cotton interlock. Followed closely by the twist Turtleneck proposed by Diva Phyllis. After that I need to make some shirts and blouses for myself. I have potentially only 2 weeks to get myself the beginnings of a working wardrobe. First one that didn't involve a uniform ... and I get to sew up a storm while the Pilot is away during the week.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


The Pilot is off to Europe next month for a week as part of his current training. We'll leave the envy out of this post (or at least try to, anyway). While he doesn't need a suit, he would like a blazer to go with his trousers. The double breasted ones from his existing suits, he feels, are too dressy. So, we went shopping and came home very empty handed. The last time he needed something like this, it was his formal uniform, which is always custom made anyway. Today's shopping trip ended up being a futile exercise. If it wasn't too tight in the shoulders, it was way too big around the lower torso. He looked almost like he was wearing a sack. So, we will try on his suits and hopefully they still fit in the upper body.

Diva els wrote of a vintage Simplicity book on sewing menswear recently. I found a copy on eBay, but I am wondering if this book is what I need to solve this problem. He is an inverted V in his body shape. How do you fit that so that there is room above but not too much below? I took a look at some Vogue patterns and found this pattern. It appears to have a nice stance and some shaping to it. I also like the fact that there are pants there as well. Who knows, now that I have my own pants pretty well fit, maybe I can tear more hair out fitting him in one! But first I would have to actually get him that promised shirt!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

More on HP Sizing

I have been teasing Trudy and Jeremy at Hot patterns that they had sneaked over the border and stole my bodice sloper. The fact that their most recent patterns fit so well without any alterations was a very pleasant surprise to me, somebody who usually has to add a Big Old Dart for the twins. Seeing as all the projects to date have been under the old sizing system, I asked them what, if any, changes were made in the new combined system. Turns out I was right, the GG 16 is the base size from which the rest evolved! This is Trudy's response:
"when we did the new multisize range, we combined all the sizes into one...but this won't affect you because our 'base' size (eg the one smack in the middle of the sizes) is the 16...by which I mean that the GG 16 and the multisize 16 are the same, with just minor differences from pattern to pattern to allow for the style details....basically this means that as far as you are concerned, it shouldn't matter whether you use the GG 16 or the multisize 16, they are the same! There are very minor differences at the upper & lower end of the size ranges, but we're talking 1/4" here or there across the shoulders for instance, nothing too drastic."

Wrt the coat, she also helped on the cuff problem. The sleeves must really have lengthened a lot due to the bias cut as the contrast is meant to be a cuff extension not a contrast. Again, Trudy:
"the cuffs are basically an extra 'add-on' to the bottom of the sleeves...so you join the sleeves to the cuffs, then just treat this sleeve/cuff combo as a sleeve...so if you need to adjust the sleeve length, you'd remove any extra from the bottom edge of the sleeve (or, if you wish, half the extra from the bottom edge of the sleeve, half from top edge of the cuff) then just join them together and you're good to go. You don't have a turn-back cuff on these sleeves."
The illustration does not show the double cuff detail, and I think I like the idea of just sewing a contrast cuff. So, I am off to severely reduce the length of the sleeve and then construct the cuff in the normal fashion with the contrast on top. That way the edges are all enclosed nicely.

The second interview has been rescheduled for Monday. One of the managers is unavailable until then. More time to sew ... maybe a pair of Dragon Cargo pants and a twist turtleneck to go with it? And topped off by the Cherry Blossom coat!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

HP Bo Ho Deluxe Lacy Wrap Cardigan

Thanks to the second job interview, I am getting more of my HP patterns done in a short period of time! I managed to get the bodice and collar of the HP cardigan cut and put together. I am using a very lightweight sweater knit bought on sale with Christmas money from the MIL, so this is one of her gifts to me. Again this is intended to be a very wearable muslin as I have yet to find just the right knit for this sweater, but I do need something for Friday. I like the shawl collar and the slight double breasted styling, although I am not a ribbon and lace person, so that will be modified!

Once again, I cut out the GG 16 and just went with it as is. So far this has worked for me. While the cardigan is not as double breasted on me as the model, I think I like it a little less overlapped anyway for my figure. But, the pattern still seems to have enough give, especially with only 3/8" s.a. that are allowed.

The pattern is intended for "cut and sew knits", sweatshirt fleece and stretchy rib knits. The one review I have seen of this pattern argued that this pattern is better designed for wovens due to the requirement to interface the collar facing. Apparently when she did it, the bodice was too stiff. In the making of my coat and now this cardigan, I read up on shawl collars. Threads magazine (Jan 2004) recommends that to maintain the look of the jacket, you fuse the front of the jacket and even put a second layer above the roll line. That would make a knit cardigan very heavy. As the fabric I chose has a boucle look to it, but is very lightweight, I decided to go ahead and interface anyway. I used a lightweight fusi knit for the facings and also for the area above the roll line of the bodice. I also reinforced the dart in the bodice with a second strip of interfacing to support the dart. I always fuse a scrap to the shoulders, but this time, I extended it to the back neck seamline as well as stay stitching. I have no illusions about this fabric, but I want it to look good for Friday! So far, my choices seem to be working. The fusi-knit is lightweight enough that it provides support but does not overpower the fabric or the lie of the collar.

So far, the instruction in this pattern are extremely well written. They follow a logical sequence and are easy to understand for me. I recommend reading them thoroughly before you sew as they have a unique treatment for the attaching the shawl collar facing. Trudy has you pin the facing on, RS together but not stitch along the edge. You only stitch the bottom to the hemline. After you flip, you attach the facing by binding the edges together. The binding shown on the collar actually encloses the raw edges. Included in the instructions are guidelines for making your own binding. For this version, I did not bind, but stitched them RS together and then across the hemline and then flipped. I also stitched in the ditch at the CB neck seam and also at the shoulder to anchor the neck facings. Because of the boucle effect, I may even top stitch the collar facing's interior edge as well. The stitches will be hidden in the texture of the fabric.

All I have left to do is to do the sleeves, the ties, the s.s. and the hem. I may use the diff feed on the serger and attempt a lettuce hem for the sleeves. After all, I do have another day ...maybe I can get the HP Dragon Cargo pants started as I try to figure out those cuffs on the coat!

Call backs and cuffs ....

Thanks for all the good wishes regarding the interview yesterday. I got a phone call tonight to schedule the second interview with the rest of the management team of the Fitness Centre. Looks like Friday I will have that second interview. What am I going to throw together now that I have an extra night to plan? Can't wear the same jacket twice in one week. At least, not the same fabric one ... I will have to examine the pattern file and see what I have that will be fast. I have a Silhouette pattern for a jacket that I can do easily. They usually fit without any alterations. Or, I pull out the HP Cardigan resting in the wait pile. I can put together a wearable muslin with fabric in the stash. I seem to have good luck with the GG sizing, so let's see if it works as well as the others!

For some reason I can't get the cuffs right on this Cherry Blossom coat. After talking with Kay Y. and Mary Beth today, I think that the problem is one of my own making. The problem is that the sleeve, without the cuff, is the perfect length for me. When I add the cuff, it needs folding back to lie correctly. This happened in the muslin as well, and as the fold back equalled the cuff width perfectly, I assumed that meant the cuff and the contrast panel would be folded back onto the sleeve. Therein lies my problem. When I stitch the contrast cuff to the cuff facing and then fold it back, I have way too many layers at the hemline. The problem is, the instructions are a bit dodgy so I have been puzzling and ripping for 2 days to figure this out.

It wasn't until after I had coffee with Kay this a.m. that I came to the conclusion that my assumption is most likely faulty. I think the fold was sheer coincidence and the extra length is due to the bias cut of the jacket sleeves. So, I sent Trudy an e-mail to see if I am right before I cut on the line that I have marked on the sleeve. I am so close to having this coat done that I am frustrated beyond belief! I can't carry on until I know ... and once cut, I can't put it back!

I have commented before that the HP patterns always assume some skill and should not be taken lightly. But (how I hate that word ...) this pattern's instructions are muddled to say the least. I couldn't figure the sequence given for construction. It was not logical to say the least. So, I read them to look for unique things that I need to be aware of and then I went on my own. Which I tend to do more often as I progress in my sewing. I usually follow the same routine: assemble the fronts, the backs, attach the sleeves, collars and cuffs. Repeat for the lining and then take a deep breath and hope that I have the lining done right and that I won't see s.a. after I attach the lining. Yup, I saw the s.a. last night and had to frog stitch the lining and redo it so that the lining was silk out after I bag it as opposed to fleece out! That is one reason why I don't call myself an advanced sewer. Until I can do that easily, I am staying intermediate! Another reason to make another jacket tonight and tomorrow!

Cross your fingers on Friday and stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Late Night Creations

Last night I burned a bit of midnight oil trying to throw something to wear to last minute job interview. Diva MB and I were talking and we agreed that the HP Sportive Skirt Suit Jacket would be perfect for the occasion as the interview was for an admin job at a local fitness centre. She didn't think I was serious when I mused about whether it would be possible to put it together in two hours or less. If it was possible, I had a new jacket for the interview. If not, I would at least have
a muslin done for when I am ready to cut the stretch velvet assigned to it from the stash. Win win, right?

The pattern has the same basic design as the HP Cherry Blossom coat currently co-habiting the workshop. Two piece raglan sleeves cut on the bias give the sleeves and the shoulder a very nice line. They curve so nicely over my sloped shoulders and flare out at the wrist. At least they would have, had I enough fabric in the chosen piece to do a full length sleeve! I was short fabric, so I shortened the sleeves to elbow length. I omitted the lining as speed was the goal here, and this was intended to be a tres casual jacket anyway. I like the shorter length sleeve. It gives a bit of a vintage feel to the jacket and also allows me to wear this jacket in the warmer weather as well. I will use the full length sleeve on the velvet as I don't usually wear black stretch velvet in warmer weather! I did not use the hoodie version of this jacket as I am not a hood person unless it is outerwear. Living in a climate where you usually have to wear a parka with a hood, having another hood underneath is not comfortable to me.

As this pattern is in the older sizing system, you should know that I do NOT sew the much complained about Slinky size range. I am very definitely a Glamour Girl. The princess seaming is very generously cut in the side pieces, making a flattering front for somebody with the shape to fit them! I cut out a 16, larger than my usual 14 as I wanted to be able to take in seams rather than have to add. As this was a (hopefully) fast muslin, I wanted to see if I could get away without my usual FBA. What are the chances, considering I usually have to add 2-3" across the front for the Girls? I held my breath and cut the 16 in the pattern. I pinned it to Mindy and it appeared like it would work even though I did not use a stretch fabric. So, I took another deep breath (and a huge sip of caffeine) and cut the fabric.

The fit was divine! It did not need any alterations at all. It has enough ease that I could easily wear a sweater underneath (assuming I had LS), so I could probably use 1" s.a. to make a closer fit next time, especially since I am going to use a stretch velvet. This makes me sad that HP discontinued the older range of sizes, but considering the large number of problems with the Slinky range, I can see why they did it. I wonder if the GG is the basis from which they graded to the Slinky and Curvy ranges?

I used the serger for this entire project, except for the facings and applying the collar and zipper. I used a Riri zipper that I bought from Londa's. Originally intended for a denim jacket, the zipper has multi-coloured teeth. This zipper really makes the jacket, I think. The colours really pop against the green in a way that I don't think they would have against the denim. Diva Ann once mentionned that the choice of a closure can drastically affect the finished garment. I have to agree with this. This zipper really jazzes this green jacket up.

I am most definitely sewing this again after the Cherry Blossom coat is done later tonight. I see this in the stretch velvet and even in a wool or denim with some piping on the raglan seaming. This pattern has replaced the McCall's pattern languishing in the stash in a similar style but for the sleeves. After the velvet is done, I see making a pair of pants to go with them. I have some nice red gabardine that I may finally get the courage up to sew into pants. Then I just need the guts to wear red pants! Being the product of a conservative mother, the thought of red pants has me doing a bit of an irrational twitch ... but that is another post altogether!

Friday, January 05, 2007

But it was a gift ....

Well, I went to the chain fabric store and searched for faux suede. I fond some, but it wasn't on sale, and I really only needed about a length of 6" at full width to allow for practice runs. So, I went to the remnant and clearance sale table and found some really nice velvet in a chocolate brown. That will complement the wool nicely, I think. The browns are close enough for the purposes of buttonholes. And it was on sale, too! Into the basket it went ... along with a nice blue sweater knit that 2 metres left and a nice burgundy textured knit as well. Perfect for the first round of the "twisted turtleneck", I think! I may have to line it, though. The Pilot says it is a bit see through. I think I have enough black interlock to underline the bodice at least ... I know I am supposed to be shopping the stash, but this stuff can't count as it was a gift. That's right, a gift. The MIL gave me a $25 GC for Fabricland (our national chain) and I had to spend it, right? No choice there or I risk offending the DMIL.

I don't need any more patterns right now as my last HP order has arrived. 6 more patterns for the table! Most of which can be done with stash fabric! Which ones? Razor Sharp pants, the Everyday Pants, the Bollywood dress for the Pilot's grad in the summer, one of the last Kensington Jackets, and the 2 classic shirts (princess and plain although the actual names escape me at the moment). That makes a lot of HP's to sew up in the next while. Sounds like a resolution to me! The only one I will make ... to sew up as many of the HP patterns in the stash as I can in the next 3-6 months. That should take me to the spring offering, don't you think?

Still on the subject of gifts, in their quest for ever more roast chicken, the two men in my life conspired together this Christmas and bought me not one, but 2 beer can chicken stands. Their philosophy being that now I can roast 2 birds at once in the oven and they can have more crunchy, spiced skin. Now, this type of cooking is not really well known to me, although I hear it is a big thing in some areas of the US. So, while I was fabric shopping, the Pilot and the monkeys went next door to the grocery store (yup, cruel world, isn't it? fabric and food in one location!) and bought a chicken. We came home and the Pilot did his duty, drinking half a can of beer so that we could use the rest for the bird. Messy way of cooking, I must say. Splatter ervywhere, although that could be the bird's fault. Very fatty bird. The result was ultra moist meat, but a messy oven. The skin wasn't as roasted as I would have liked either ... too much steam from the beer perhaps? Advice would be welcome from those more experienced in this ...

Twist Tops

I was just over visiting the Sewing Divas blog. Diva Phyllis showed some wonderful examples of how that famous twist top has evolved from a simple V neck. She showed a photo of a twist top turtleneck. That's right, a turtleneck with style. I was thinking of how the construction of this woudl be fairly easy to accomplish. Phyllis pointed out the CF seamlines already that makes this possible, so I won't repeat it here. But this is a nice compromise for this top. There is still the fashionable twist, but there is no underbust band like in the WOF version. The girls don't need that type of accentuation, thanks! The V neck alone is usually sufficient ... But I like the option of the T-Neck a lot. And why stop there? Why not a jewel neckline instead?

There was a similar mod to the twist top a year or so ago by ">Mlle Laura over at Pattern Review. In her version, she eliminated the underbust band and converted the upper bodice into 2 pieces. I loved that version and had planned on making it this season. The only thing holding me back was the deep V neck. I am getting tired of it even though I know it is a flattering look for me. Variety is the spice of life after all! So, thanks to Phyllis and Macy's, I am going to have that T-neck for the winter! Ressy is bringing in some new samples of sweater knit as well ... coincidence or fate?

It also reminds my of a OOP DKNY pattern for a woven top. If I were to take an existing Turtleneck pattern and copy the placement of the bodice slit, then I would have the top from Macy's. I also think that I should revisit the DKNY top. I do love the top, even though it is a bit sung thanks to a gaff in taking it in. If I did so, I would add buttons to the placket and shape the lower bodice a bit more to avoid the maternity look it can give due to its loose fit. I dropping in on Darrell on Wednesday ... maybe I will look at his shirting samples and see what calls my name. I see this in a nice crisp white or even a nice balanced blue or maybe even a fine red stripe if placed correctly.

How NOT to plan Bound buttonholes (or why not to clean the cutting table so fast!)

First of all, my shop is not usually a mess. Yes, I have a "muslin" pile under the cutting table. I have bags of trims and ribbing in the closet on the floor but only because I have yet to determine where to hang them in the shop's new configuration. The work tables are clear but for the projects on hand. But this week, I made a big boo boo. I cleaned the fabric scraps from the Cherry Blossom coat off the table and cut out the contrast cuffs form the last remnant. I then tossed the scraps. Totally forgetting that I was planning bound buttonholes for the coat. Now I have no fabric with which to do them.

I have no more of the wool and do not want to delay any longer in getting this done. So, I am off to the local fabric chain (not Darrell's, that comes on Wednesday) to see what I can find for the buttonholes. Maybe I can get some nice faux suede in navy, brown, or black. Good thing I have a GC from Christmas ...