Monday, September 13, 2010

Monkey Girl Jacket Update

This is a quick update on the progress of the current projects on the table.  The table currently has two jackets on the go, one is mine, the other belongs to Monkey Girl.  I have set up my Mom's old machine (now Moneky Girl's) on the table back to back with mine.  That way we can work at the same time on our jackets.  We are both using hte same thread colours right now, so that makes it easier for me to help her out.

As I believe in learning by doing, she is doing the majority of the work on her own.  She cut  and prepped the pattern while I cut the fabric (that is due to her height not being quite up to reaching across the table and me not wanting her touching the Kais!).  She pins the pieces together as she goes through the pattern, learning about how the pieces match up.  She then stitches them together (reminding herself to backstitch) and tried her best to keep the seam allowance as close to 5/8" as she can (there is a masking tape line on the machine for her to follow).  She now knows how to properly press the seams flat using my iron.  Yes, Darrell, she even uses the clapper!  The top stitching, button holes and collar I am doing for her but I think I will let her do the sleeve insertino as it is on the flat this time around.  She may even do the cuffs as well.  So far the bodice and the back is complete and stitched at the shoulders.  I have to do the topstitching there and then we are off to assemble the sleeves.  We have the collar and cuffs put together but not attached yet.  She has stitched, trimmed, pressed and turned and then pressed again.

She wants a navy blue topstich for a real subtle contrast to the black.  At least it would have been subtle had I not let her loose on Darrell's button wall last weekend!  My Monkey took one look at the variety and went for BLING!  Not just any bling, mind you, oh no, my darling diva went directly to the designer buttons!  Of course, I have to admit, Darrell did have a lot to do with it!  It was great fun as she tried the various buttons styles on her Wal Mart remnant fabric.  She loved the Fendi buttons and almost went for major crystals and rhinstone flowers until we had to reign her in with a reminder that this will still be worn on the playground.  Designer bling is too good for the playground.  That was a close call but very fun to watch!

The next thing she did was to head directly for Darrell's silk samples.  She fell in love with those from the first time in his shop.  After fondling those for a bit, she went over to the display of garment Darrell has on sale.  He chooses fabrics from his supply and then sews a number of his own designs as inspiration for his customer base.  This way we can visualize what a garment will look like in a certain fabric.  She fell in love with a couple of tops and proceeded to talk ME into buying one for her.  The drama that ensued as she tried the various sizes on was quite hilarious!  Darrell and I agree, there are some serious DIVA tendencies emerging in her personality!  Will she be the next generation Sewing Diva?  We will have to wait and see if she can bring her skill level up to THE Sewing Divas ... until then, I am not quite sure what to call her ... Monkey Girl is still there but there are occasional flashes of something bigger that I cannot quite identify.

One unforseen effect of teaching her how to sew, is that I have to reduce the directions to the most basic points.  In teaching her how to do a project like this one, there are few shortcuts.  Each step needs to be read , discussed and understood before we go on.  She sees how things are put together step by step.  This has slowed my sewing down somewhat, but I think that is a good thing for me.  I am now looking at the details again as I stop my sewing to help her with her next step.  I find myself explaining things to her.  It has brought me back to why I started to sew in the first place.  I like the construction of the garments.  I love taking flat fabric and turning into a 3Dimensional object.  I love that she sees what I see.  The potential in every piece of cloth ... expecially the silks, right Darrell?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

changes ...

School is now in session for the kids.  Dino boy had minor stomach cramps last night; not sure if it was nerves, excitement or both.  I think it was the latter. You see, he started Jr High today.  Grade 7.  Wow.  Not only is he only one inch shorter than I am (YIKES HE IS ONLY 12), he is now at a combined jr/sr high.  He gets up with his father and goes out the door at almost the same time.  He will be home before anybody else in the afternoons.  He is growing up (literally!).  He is maturing in so many ways but still believes in embracing his inner child.  He still wants a toy for Christmas, even if it is a small one.  Just because it is Christmas and that needs a toy.  I think that this change needs a new name.  Dino Boy who used to grab his little dino toys and leave them in my bathtub or shower is no more.  In his place?  RUGBY GUY.  This is more appropriate now.  His new self confidence and height has earned him the new moniker, I think.

Monkey Girl is about to head off to school as well.  This is her first year without Rugby Guy at the same school.  She will be going alone now.  What that means is that I won't let her leave quite so early as there is no early supervision at the school without big brother along.  She is turning into a bit of a girlie girl, with her talk of clothes, earrings and her new summer obsession - nail polish. I like seeing these glimpses young woman she has the potential of becomming.  Monkey Girl will need to change soon, too, I think.  But not yet.  I am not quite ready for that.  Let me have my little girl for a little bit longer ... even if she is as proportionally as tall as her brother!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Labour Day Project

So, what are you doing this Labour Day?  As was my practice years ago, I spent it sewing.  Saturday I took off and went shopping with Monkey Girl.  We spend a lot of time discussing body image and fashion vs trends as we shop.  We try on everything just for the object lessons.  We try not to laugh too loudly at what we affectionately label "CALL CLINTON moments" after her favorite show "What Not To Wear".  I like these times together.  She is growing up so fast and so tall that I need to have these discussions more often as she is soon to be out of the little girl sizes ( a feat she reached in her shoe size already!).

I think I may have mentionned in one of my posts last year that I have my mother's original SINGER machine now.  We gave it to Monkey GIRL FOR Christmas last year with the promise that I would teach her to sew.  The majority of what she wants to sew are knit projects, which that machine will not handle well.  So, we are trying something different instead. She is making a jean style jacket.  We are doing it in tandem, meaning that we have two machines on the same table with both of us working on jacket patterns.  I am finishing a UFO (another HP project - the HP Sportive Skirt Suit Jacket).  Hers is KS 3136.  We are using a black peachskin fabric from Wal Mart for her first project. This is a great project for us to do together.  It has many smaller straight seams which will allow her to get used to the machine as well as pinning, pressing and stitching.  I have marked out the 5/8" seamline with masking tape on the machine bed, and am marking the seamline on the fabric for her as well. She cut and prepped the pattern on her own, and I cut the fabric and interfacing as required.  She sews the seams, we press together and then I top stitch for her.  We are lucky that we are both sewing the same colour fabric right now!

It is going really well!  Her first seam had to be ripstitched, as she wanted to try to stitch it without a line to follow.  She was a bit upset until I told her the story of my first Home Ec project do-over (the night before it was due in!).  She laughed and started to rip as she kept giggling!  We have the back assembled and have the fronts half done.  We are at the stage of putting the chest pockets on.  We will see how far we get tonight.  She won't be wearing it to school this week, anyway. I promised her a trip to the Button Wall of Fame at Darrell's so that she can choose the buttons.  Yup, the buttons will cost more than the jacket, but seeing the pride will be worth it!  It is a neat feeling, seeing her across the table working on a project at the same time.  Who says that sewing has to be solitary?

On my end, I have the body of the lining assembled, leaving the facings only to be attached.  I am working on assembling the body of the jacket as well.  I am using a black pinwhaled bamboo corduroy with an ambiance lining in a navy blue.  The skirt was completed before the sewing drought started and was the last actual project completed before the Big Sulk started.  I made this up in a cheap knit 3 years ago for an interview for the job I now have.  Now, I am getting around to making the actual as the cheapness of the muslin is now showing.  I took the rainbow zipper off the muslin and am using that in the jacket.  I was originally going to use a rhinestone zip but think I may use that in another project instead.

So, this Labour Day, I engaged in a Labour of Love.  I have started my 9 year old on a journey of sewing for herself.  The feeling I get in sharing my space with her is so deep that I cannot find the words.  I remember sitting at my mother's knee playing in the button box and wanting to sit on her lap and sew.  I can't remember ever doing that, but I always wanted to.  I played in her sewing room all the time when she worked on the various projects.  Now Monkey Girl gets to work with me.  As a new sewer emerges in the family, I am rediscovering the basics through the teaching process.  I am rediscovering the love of the build and the satisfaction of the final product.  May you all be so lucky as to be able to pass on your skills and love to a new generation ... I now know that my grandmother's thimble will be well loved and used by another young girl as she begins her wardrobe build!

Challenge Complete!

The dress is done and I even have photos ready to post!

The project was the HP Plain & Simple T SHIRT DRESS (See here for pattern link) (not to be confused with the P&S Shirt Dress of a previous pattern release!). I chose it as it was an easy style to make and wear for Sunday Mass or for those days when I just don't want to wear pants.  This should have been an easy project as it is basically a longer version of a Polo shirt with a hidden button placket with the addition of a self tie belt.  Designed for good quality knits, it ws perfect for a stash project as I have a good supply on hand.

HP designs are not for the beginner.  Trudy has said that from the day she launched her line.  She assumes a certain amount of knowledge in her sewer.  I am not a beginner.  I would say that at my peak two years ago, I was close to being advanced, and had I not stopped sewing, I would have gotten there (and will get there)with the completion of that tailored blazer I started with Darrell.  Rebooting a lapsed sewing brain with a hidden placket on a pattern that has minimal instructions and drawings was probably not my best choice.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I will admit that the hidden placekt part of the patten really didn't register until I was too forgone in the cutting to stop.  It was at that point that I started the book searches and the internet searches to try to find help.  The first incarnation of the placket had me following the directions, but I must have missed something.  The placket did not lie flat.  It could have been something as simple as me using a knit that was a bit too bulky when layered three times.  Maybe I missed a step somewhere.  After all, I have made so many of these tops, that I confess I really didn't give that in depth of a look at the instructions.... ahem.  yup.  got cured of that real quick on this project!

So, I recut the bodice out of the remaining fabric and started over.  I thought that I could modify David P Coffin's placket design to include a hiddne placket and use that method instead.  Works in theory and in the paper mock up.  Once put into practice, however, there was just too much fabric at the bottom of the placket.  I just didn't like it.  So, I tossed the whole thing in the fabric scrap bin and went to bed.  I do my best redesign work as I am in bed at night while the Pilot is snoring.

Inspiration struck two nights later. I went downstairs and grabbed the pieces and scraps and cut out the offending placket.  I cut it on the line where a shoulder princess seam would lie (or thereabouts) and took it down below the placket bottom.  I then took some black fabric and pinned it in as a cowl neck inset.  I liked it a lot!  Then I thought the black migh tbe a bit too dark for late summer early fall, so I grabbed some scraps of the original fabric and played.  I took the piece I cut out and laid it in half on it's CF.  Then I traced the bottom of it and then rotated the piece to the left to allow for the cowl neck.  There is my new pattern piece.  I cut it out and then added it in.  Love it!  It does not have as much cowl as the original drape and the inset is also a bit wider, but I am happy with it all the same.  Rather than tying the belt, I found a belt buckle that matches colour wise and simply thread it through.  I may eventually sew the buckle on and shorten it.  For now, I like the way it lies flat on a body that is not so flat anymore.  I did have to take the dress in a bit on the side seams, but that is because I added some in the cutting phase "just in case".  The only thing I haven't improved on yet, but plan on doing, is to shape the CB seam below the yoke.  It is straight.  I am not.  It needs some shaping to rid me of the extra fabric at the back.

So, here it is.  The inset could have been a tad bit wider to allow for the twins as I see some stretching there, but that can be eliminated by wearing a different bra as well.  There is too much fluff at the hips (both on me and the dress) so I think any future renditions will need a bit more flare at that point to make it more flattering.  Will I sew this again?  Maybe.  I may try a different pattern version as I have one in an older WOF mag that I haven't tried.  I am trying to use as many new patterns in the stash as I can for now.  I may just use one of my TNT polo patterns instead and add a more A Line skirt to it. Will have to wait and see!

Sorry for the photo layout, I am still getting used to the laptop buttons and the lack of a mouse.  Give me time ....  My collarless version of the P&S T Shirt Dress: