Wednesday, May 30, 2007

You win some and you lose some ...

First off, to any hockey fans in and of California, I hope you treat your goalie like gold! That guy has a talent for snatching pucks like Tretiak! He is truly amazing ... That is the loss part of tonight's post.

The winning portion is the raglan sleeve princess T I've been working on. I dug out some white 4 way stretch interlock and did up muslin #1 and stitched with 3/8" s.a. as I had started with a vintage size 12 pattern and wanted to make sure I would have enough room, even with the stretch factor happening. I also did a small FBA (for me anyway) of 1", which I eased in. I lopped off the collar pieces using the facings as a guide and I think it worked out OK for the muslin. I need to put it on Mindy and adjust the neckline for shape a bit more, though. Tonight, all I did was serge the edge and then use some FOE from the stash. I then did a contrast zig zag over the seamline for a bit of styling. I also topstitched the seamlines in a contrast thread.

The verdict? I can use the full 5/8" s.a. at the s.s and the shoulder seam in interlock. Otherwise, I think I will keep to the 3/8" in the bodice to accomodate the decreased stretch in the PD I will be using. This design is a winner! I hope that tomorrow I can post photos and maybe even a review over at PR ...

I know I am way behind on my photo postings, but I have been busy downloading my photos from Yahoo and then uploading them to Picasa. I haven't even touched my reviews over at PR yet ... that will be a long process. It would be easier if I could print out a list of all my reviews (not my catalogue) so that I could mark off which ones I had actually re-linked. My catalogue is also way out of date. I really don't use it much, so it can't help me in this effort without many hours of cross checking with my file cabinet.

This weekend Monkey Girl turns 6. It is also a weekend Beaver Camp to celebrate the Centennial. So, she gets her birthday at Camp and I don't have to bake a cake for another week, which is when she has her party (while Hamster Boy is off at his Cub camp with the Pilot). Only 30 more days till he comes home for good ... yikes! I better get to Bollywood soon!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Frustration Fix ...

What does one do when your favoured hockey team is losing it's first game in the final series of the Stanley Cup? You sew. But not client work, that is just forecasting ripstitching! So, I started to unpack some TNT patterns for easy T's, but could not find anything that matched my need to let out all that frustration. I love my princess T shirt, but that still wasn't doing it for me. What I wanted was a nice princess lined T with a raglan sleeve. This is something I have been thinking about for a long time, but hadn't been sure of just how to accomplish it. Do I start with the raglan or the princess? Do I start from scratch with a T shirt?

I pulled out my Helen Joseph Armstrong pattern drafting book and went at it. There are wonderful explanations of how to take a bodice with a bust and waist dart and make it into a princess line. So, I went into the stash and pulled out a vintage pattern that I recently bought. It had the requisite raglan sleeves and the two darts required to start with, so the morphing would be less than if I had to draft the raglan after. Following the Armstrong directions, I drafted the princess lines, making it an armhole princess pattern.

As I was winning with this process, my team ended up losing the game. We'll spot you this one game, Anaheim ... for Walt's sake. (I'll leave the debate about what he'd think about owning a hockey team for other boards!) You played well, just watch the stick action behind the play ... it'll get you in trouble someday!

Tomorrow morning I finish off the Flower Girl dress and then fool around some more with the pattern. It has a collar that is cut on with the sleeve front, very interesting! The fact that this is intending to be a T shirt means that the collar needs to come off somehow. That can be for Wednesday's game!

Go Sens Go! If only I could edit the Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck "Wabbit Season-Duck Season" sound clips to be Sens Season-Duck Season ...

Monday, May 28, 2007

Client Updates...

It has been a while since I had time to sit and post. Life has been getting in my workshop time lately. The sun has come out big time and the bulbs arrived, so the daylight hours has been taken up with planting! The Canadian May long weekend has come and gone along with our annual trip to the zoo. One thing about being a family that moves a lot, you make some neat traditions. One of ours is that on the May long weekend, we go to a zoo. This year, we joined the Pilot at a hotel and then went to the zoo. We also had a night with my sister on the way as a means of avoiding serious road traffic.

The Flower Girl dress has been started. I drafted a facing for the neckline as the fabric is hefty enough to go without. The facing is on, the shoulder seams are done and the 2 piece sleeves are hemmed and lined up for gathering. I always take a break at this point in the sleeve. Makes for less ripstitching, I find!

I am ignoring the guide sheets for the most part, only referring to them for the match point on the sleeves. Rather than setting in the sleeve, I am going to put it in flat once I have them gathered. Then I can sew up the s.s. so much easier. Another change is to attach the gathered skirt in pieces. I am gathering the back to the separate back pieces and doing the same for the front. I did this for the muslin and made sure to keep the s.a. clear of gathers for the s.s. stitching and it worked out fine. It also makes putting the zipper in flat a lot easier. I am once again using an invisible zipper. One more thing I learned from the muslin was that I have to keep the bodice/skirt seamline free from gathering at the CB as well as 5/8" into the garment for ease of zipping.

The first batch of nylon has arrived for the salon capes and I will get at those by tomorrow night, I hope. I have been confirmed for 4 capes in total and no aprons. Those will be easy to do. I examined a lot of capes in use and saw that they are edged with either a narrow hem or with bias binding. I think I will go without the binding. I do have to go buy some snap tape, though, for the necklines.

Once these are done, I will have the table cleared for Bollywood ...

Monday, May 21, 2007


No, I am not going to talk about snoop shopping or sewing projects by those I admire. Today is about the ability to keep going when the going is tough. I see my dear friend MB fighting her cancer with grace and humour. I see another friend who is re-defining herself after unforseen changes to her life with a smile on her face and with a renewed confidence. A close friend who lives in the same city as me is fighting to drop over 50 pounds through exercise and eating right. Ressy, the Evil Fabric Queen herself, is living with diabetes and now has another lifestyle adjustment to make as she tries to eliminate gluten from her diet among other things.
I have been a part time single mother for the last year (38 more sleeps ...) as the Pilot commuted from his post to home on weekends whenever he could.

We all have a personal battle of some type to go through in our lives. We all manage to do it. We get our support from online message boards, blogs of similar minded people, e-mails and phone calls. No matter how that support comes, I am glad it is there. Reading that Ressy was using the Dreadmill at her hotel made me go into the exercise room at my hotel over the weekend instead of lounging in/beside the pool while the kids splashed away. Knowing that my friends are eating well had me make better choices at the restaurants we ate at all weekend. Knowing I had to check in with Shallon when I got home made me second guess a lot of things ... there is not much you can hide from your best friend/massage therapist!

Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks to all of you whom I check in with, whose sites I lurk and for all those e-mails I read. I just wanted to let you all know that it does make a difference.

Tomorrow I post sewing, honest! I will be starting the Flower Girl Dress tonight after the Monkeys are in bed and should finish tomorrow afternoon. I just have to get a zipper and some trim for the bodice. The Pilot has said to stop working on the shirt to focus on my dress and paid projects. Little did he know I already had ... then he reminded me that there is a garden ceremony as well. DOH! Another dress to make ...

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Bollywood, the Beginning ...

I took the Pilot to Darrell's today. I managed to baste in a sleeve and a cuff as well as the collar before we went. It made for a long night and an early morning, but it was worth it. The shirt got the stamp of approval from Darrell wrt fit. He gave some advice for hem lengths on formal vs casual shirts that the Pilot actually listened to as well. Turns out that he now likes having shirts untucked ... after almost 20 years, he has surprised me! We then looked at the shirting selections (with me hiding the price tags) so that I have my limits of colours. Bold stripes are out and don't even mention pink (although with his colouring, he certainly could pull it off!) but he will take some patterns in his shirts, thank you very much! I now have permission to mass produce shirts in both casual and more formal fabrics as much as I want. His new post will require civilian business attire for Fridays so come July, he will need them!

While I was there, Darrell slipped me a bag with my fabrics, lining, thread (some silk and some Poly/cotton) and a zipper. The fabric is even more luscious than the sample. I will try to match it to pantone cards and take a photo later on. We are not letting the Pilot see what is happening, you see. I want a complete surprise on his part. As for this Blog, when I mention my sewing site, my Techno Peasant hubby thinks I am referring to either Pattern Review or Stitcher's guild. He is blissfully unaware of Newman's Needle as anything other than my business name!

Re. the shirt, I have to re-cut the right front panel as it had a little mishap with the serger, it decided that it needed to be up close and personal when I was trimming the neckline seam. I have a nick about 1/4" that is butting up to the placket seam. Good thing I have enough to re cut that panel and then redo. Now I just have to rip all that stitching ... good thing to do while watching the hockey game tomorrow ... GO SENS GO!

Now. The dress. I have taken the instructions out and given them a glance. They are written well enough, but I think I need to see the pieces they are talking about to make them click in the brain. Aside from the lining being called the mount, there appears to be side and front/back panels. That is a surprise at that doesn't show in the drawing. Also, the only review I have seen doesn't mention it either. So, I think that the only way to go forward from here is to take the pattern out and start cutting pieces. I have to decide if I am going to choose a 14 or a 12 in this. When I made the Patchoulli, I cut and sewed a muslin of the bodice without any changes to guage fit and then hacked and slashed from there. I will do the same thing with this one.

Can't wait to see what that envelope holds!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Flower Girl Update

Well, the "muslin" is done but for hemming. The sleeves were a bit of a pain ... Lining a tulip sleeve and then gathering the overlapped cap made for a lot of fabric! So, I think I will not line the final dress. This is for a July wedding, so I think lining would be too much for this little girl. The final fabric is a heavier weight cotton so the lining is not really needed anyway. I will have to draft a facing for the neckline but that is not very hard.

A personal pat on the back wrt to the pattern grading ... the pattern in the proper size arrived yesterday in the mail. When I compared my re-draft to the actual size 4, I was very happy to see that except for minute differences in the armscye curve, I managed to get it right! Very nice to know that my technique worked!

The Pilot's shirt is all cut out. The shirting that MB sent is beautiful to work with except for that border print! Very subtle, but made for a challenge wrt layout! I finally decided to use that border for the front placket and the cuffs. I would have liked to have had it at the CB, but that would have required a seam and that is not on! I also cut the yoke, collar and stand on the bias. The Pilot needs that extra curve in those areas, I think. I took the time to match the stripes on the yoke and the pocket. I want this one to be wearable for him. He needs a few good shirts and if this one will fit then I can work on one for him for the grad dinner after the Dress is done. There is no hope of getting the Dress muslin done for tomorrow as I have a Scout meeting tonight and I have lots of coins to roll from all those almonds the kids sold! So, after Hamster Boy comes home I have to run out to the dollar store to get wrappers.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Confessions of a Confused Sewer ...

I finished the final alterations to the Dragon version #2 the other night. Even though I took in that back leg seam, they still bag out on me. I am NOT HAPPY! They look not too bad until I take the digi camera shot of the back. Then I can see all the wrinkles. Ick. It wasn't until I read the latest Threads issue that I had a lightbulb moment. This pattern needs drapey fabric. For me, that meant something lightweight. The article by Linda Lee on choosing pant fabrics for drape showed that I was really wrong about drape. I think that I actually need something heavier in weight but not hand to carry off the extra ease in these pants. I think the fabrics I have been using are too crisp despite their lightweight. So, seeing as I don't have anything in the stash that will suit this pattern, it has to go on an extended hiatus. Dragon hibernation if you will ...

On the other hand, I do have lots to keep me busy. The Flower Girl muslin is 50% done. I should have it to hem stage by supper. That way I can arrange a fitting for it later in the week. Tomorrow will be the Pilot's shirt second muslin. This one will be sewn up in some lovely shirting given to me by Mary Beth over at The Stitchery (sending lots of virtual hugs, MB!). I need to have that done quickly as we have a fitting on Wednesday with Darrell. Also, I want to have a muslin of the bodice of the Bollywood Dress done for he same day. That way I can get Darrell's help if I need it without a second trip downtown. I pick up the fabric Wednesday as it has arrived. He promised to have the lining and silk thread to match when I get there. I love that man!

My other clients have given the thumbs up on the field test of the rip stop nylon for the salon capes, so I can go ahead and start with those once the Flower Girl is fitted and approved. Those capes can be whipped up in a day, I think. I just have to wait for the fabric to arrive ...

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Fabrics ...

The Closet is responsible, not me. It convinced me that I did not have enough summer weight tops and next to nil lighter colours for spring. I needed simple tops. I have the TNT patterns, but not the knits to make them up. So I went off to wazoodle to buy a couple of grab bags. As I live in a humid climate, I asked for 2 bags of wicking knits. Last summer I loved what I got, so I was looking forward to what Lee Ann would select. There were some repeats from last year in the blues and the soft yellow, but I got a orangey colour and a lavender as well as a nice steel blue with a hint of green, a khaki green, a chocolate brown and a nice black as well. I am pretty sure I can make a wardrobe of knit tops from that! The orange will be coord with the brown as will that blue green. The lavender will become a nightie, I think, for Monkey Girl. She might even like the orange. Hamster Boy refused with a "What are you thinking" look. I had to try ... I also picked up a nice textured white poly knit that is better in person than online.

News from Darrell ...

Yesterday I received a wonderful e-mail from my friend Darrell Thomas. Starting next month, he will be holding a "Stitch and Bitch" session at the shop. The idea being that the first 30 minutes will be discussions of any personal projects on the go and an opportunity to get help, then there may be a technique or two demonstrated and then the monthly creative challenge will be presented. The idea is to get us all sewing something unique. The example given was to sew up a skirt with a certain number of vertical and horizontal seams by the next meeting. There may also be charity projects the odd month as well. I can't wait! There are so many of us who love to sew and get together, so we take classes, even though we already have a certain skill, just for the community touch. We don't have the ASG up here, so this will certainly fill a niche!

Now all I have to do is wait till June 13th ...

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Daily Dragon Update #4

Well, I managed to redo the crotch curve tonight. I was not a fan of how it was lying, so I took out the Silhouette pant sloper and compared. It was identical up to about 2 inches from the inseam. The HP curve was higher than the proven Silhouette one, so I lopped it off IAW proven pants. I then clipped the crotch curve, took in the inseam and the s.s. to the full 5/8" s.a. as they were too baggy. A big improvement, but there is still too much fullness at the back seam where the side and back panels meet. This is as far as I am going. When I pinch out the fullness, the pants are beautiful, so I think this fabric is still not right. I think it really needs something fluid.

I did some playing on the Flower girl dress pattern today. I really wanted to try my hands at grading a pattern, so I traced off the bodice pieces with all sizes (6-8) and markings. I then connected corner points, notches and dots and extended the lines inward. I then measured the lines for the existing sizes to see if there was a set distance. Where there was, I continued the distance inwards, using my curve when I needed to blend lines, specifically in the neckline and sleeve areas. The skirt was easier as the only difference was in the hem length, so that was a simple change. Tomorrow, I do the tulip sleeves. That requires fresh eyes. By tomorrow afternoon, I will be able to start a muslin to check the fit. I think I will do the first one with 3/8" s.a. to allow for growing room and "just in case".

I apologize for the lack of photos of late, but I have been sewing after the kids are in bed as I have been spending my days in the garden. This late night sewing is taking its toll, but the weather is so nice, I had to get the garden done. I only have to help Monkey Girl with her first flower garden and then I am done for a couple of weeks, anyway. That is when the new bulbs arrive! There is one more patch in the front bed, but that needs to have the backfill of gravel passed off as soil to be removed and put under the front step to shore it up. That needs the Pilot. He wants to do lots of "puttering" next week while he is home, so I see major work in his future ... I am even "renting" him out to a neighbour who wants to replace their fence. But please don't hold your breath, in case life gets in my way!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

No Dragon Tonight ...

Nothing to report on the dragon's today. I skipped last night as it was Scout night. Today, while I should have been in the workshop, I made an executive decision and went into the garden instead. Last night, we had a special evening, as the older children all moved up a level. So, I said goodbye to 5 Beavers as they moved up to Cubs Scouts. Sad, but exciting at the same time. One of the boys started with me 2 years ago and he was crying for the first month as he couldn't participate in any of the games due to a broken arm. He was so unsure of himself for that time ... this year he is a very aware young boy who has loads of confidence! He is definitely ready for the Cub Pack!

Another event of note, last night I invested as a member of the 1st Gilwell Scout Group. That is the troop begun by the founder of Scouting, Lord Baden Powell. Members of the Gilwell Group have all completed Advanced Leader Training and have earned the right to wear the Gilwell neckerchief and one set of wooden beads on their necker. Those beads go back to the original beads handed out by BP himself. While the original African beads are long gone, the replicas carry the same meaning. Achieving this during the Centennial Anniversary of Scouting in Canada is even more special to me. An added bonus, my mentor had invited all the members of my training course to come and see me get my beads! I am the first one in our section to finish and get the beads. I was told last night that one of the youth that was also on course with me has finished his requirements now and will soon be getting his beads. I will be there to see him as he was for me!

The Garden got some more needed attention today. As we have been in the house now for a little over a year, I am now making the garden mine vice the previous owner's. Gone are the foundation platings that were taking over the front patio. The rose that was attacking people as they walked by it has been moved to harass the lilac in the backyard instead. The sassy Spirea has been relocated from the lilac corner to the front bed where it is now surrounded by some lavender to replace what the local felines killed last year. I also bought a pot with 3 Columbines in it. I divided them up and put them in the front bed where one of the foundation plants had been. I have found many of the lilies that I was sure were killed off last year due to their poor showing, were starting to grow again. I found this out as I was turning the soil and accidentally dug many of them up. Will have to see which ones actually make it now ...I also bought some Iris for the back bed.

Tomorrow I will plant some other shade perennials in the back bed. I am looking for some variety back there and now that the apple tree is gone I have room! To be fair, it wasn't really a tree. More like a tall sapling. It was only about 7-8' tall, but it wasn't very healthy. The roots were in full shade, the trunk was thin and at a bad angle. I managed to pull it out with very little loosening of the roots. That sassy Spirea had more of a root ball than the apple tree! and don't get me started on the roots of that rose ... it looked like something out of Harry Potter! That was the hardest job so far!

Once the kids are settled in bed, I will take the Rodent to the workshop for its nightly exercise. It will roll around the floor in it's ball for about an hour before it wants to go back to the cage to eat and play. By then Hamster Boy will be asleep and the wheel won't bother him. The plan tonight, seeing as I avoided the client work in daylight, is to trace off the flower girl dress pattern and then work on measuring and sizing down where needed. I had some really good measurements taken by the mother, so I have lots to work with. My experience has shown so far that there is not much difference between the sizes width wise, but I will have to see. I will do up a calico muslin to check fit. That way she will get 2 dresses out of this. That reminds me ... I have to do up a contract for the clients before I get too far ahead!

I am off to locate my old price list ... if memory serves, I did a flat rate per garment type for kids and did hourly for adults as they require more fitting. See you later ...