Tuesday, March 31, 2009

NY Trip: The Loot

Here are some pictures of some of the stuff I bought. They are in no particular order. I washed everything before I thought to photograph it. So, try to look past the wrinkles.

I picked up all of the hardware and the synthetic leather I will need to make this bag.

I might be a sewing tool junkie. I restrained myself and bought only these. I'm really excited about the SimFlex for buttonhole spacing.

Some of the buttons and trim I bought. Clockwise from the top: pink sequins possibly for neckline trim on a tunic, buttons for a wool coat, dragonfly buttons for daughter's Wallaby sweater, elastic trim for daughter's T-shirt, black fold-over elastic (never tried this before), brown buttons - bought just because I liked them.

The Preacher gets the most exciting things from the trip - collar stays and white cotton jersey for T-shirts.

I wanted a green spring coat. I ended up with two pieces in exactly the same color because after purchasing the first I thought it wasn't heavy enough. So, I found something heavier in a different store and it turned out to be the exact same color. I'm not sure if I'll use it for the lining (a little boring?) or do something else with it. The buttons match better than the picture shows.
Some raspberry corduroy for my girls and silk chiffon for me.

A linen plaid for a shirt dress for me.

Three cotton shirtings (L-R): white stretch poplin, lavendar and white stripe, white-on-white textured stripe.

Black quilted nylon, cotton print (for lining), zipper and patent leather piping for a vest.

Three knit basics for me: green bamboo jersey, oatmeal rayon interlock, black rayon jersey. All sooooo nice!

Three T-shirt knits for the kiddos.

Black wool and silk charmeuse (for lining) for pants. Sewing with silk charmeuse will be a first for me.

The fabric in the middle was already in my stash. I wanted to make a jacket out of it, but needed something to wear with it. I purchased the linen on the left to make a skirt. The silk on the right is for the jacket lining. I'm not too sure about the buttons yet. This fabric was really difficult to match.

Pink patchwork, cotton/lycra jersey and trims for a spring skirt and top for older daughter.

I'm excited to sew with these fabrics. Sewing with great fabric is such a pleasure. I'm already dreaming of pressing those cotton shirtings. And the knits are even softer and nicer after washing. Okay, enough blogging. I think I'm going to go cut something out.
Note: I changed the some of the comments settings since I hear there were some problems with that. Hopefully the changes help....

Monday, March 30, 2009

Veni, Vedi, Vici: The Garment District of NYC

Okay, well maybe I didn’t conquer but I certainly came and saw. If I had conquered, there would be no reason to return, now would there?

I traveled to NY with my mom last week. We were there for about three days. The first 1.5 were spent seeing the city with the usual tourist activities (Lady Liberty, WTC, show on Broadway, double-decker bus tour, etc). The second 1.5 were spent in the garment district shopping for fabric, trim, buttons, notions, etc. I thought that was a pretty good balance!

We spent most of our time on 37th, 38th, and 39th Streets between 7th and 8th Avenue. We shopped up one side of the street, down the other side and then brought our purchases back to the hotel (fabric is heavy). This took us an entire day. The number of stores and selection of fabric is unbelievable. Until this trip I had sewn up more yards than I had added to the stash for 2009. I think I’ll “forget” about tracking that for the rest of the year. I just added 48.5 yards to the stash. That’s a lot of sewing. But I’m not worried. I have yet to meet a pile of fabric I couldn’t sew my way out of.

Large button and needle and garment worker statue at information kiosk in garment district.

I found Lindsay T’s reviews of stores in the garment district very helpful. The fabric stores I liked the best: Chic Fabrics, Metro Textiles, AK Fabrics. I found these stores had fabrics that worked with my lifestyle (casual, washable) and budget. If we had more time I would have really liked to see stores like Mood Fabrics, Rosen and Chaddick, B&J Fabrics, etc. It’s good to save something for next time, right? The fabrics in some of the stores did make me wish I needed a ball gown, but I just don’t. Bummer.

And then there were all the button and trim stores. I might have liked these better than the fabric ones. It was amazing to see all these possibilities in one place! I’ll never look at the button wall in my local fabric store the same. My favorite by far was Pacific Trimming. I could have spent an entire day in just that one store. I suspect I would feel the same about M&J Trimming, but we only had a few minutes to spend in there before heading back to catch a shuttle.

The garment district was everything I was hoping it would be. Now I have to decide what to sew first!

Next post: the loot!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Why Sewing is Better...

Last week I mentioned that I didn’t have any knitting project at all in the works. Yesterday I dug my yarn stash out of a very dusty and dirty corner of the storage room (so excited about getting settled at home again soon) along with some pattern books and ideas. I spent too much time today trying to match yarn to pattern and found this to be a pretty frustrating pursuit.

Compared my level of sewing experience, I am quite a newbie knitter. But it seems to me that unless you choose the pattern first and then buy the yarn specified in the amount specified it is really complicated to find something more involved than a scarf to knit. The issue of guage is the biggest hurdle. I have a lot of yarn (thanks to my MIL!) and a lot of patterns, but when I find a yarn that matches the gauge in the pattern I find that I don’t have enough of the yarn, or it is the wrong color (“boy colors” vs. “girl colors” are a big deal for my little kids) or the pattern requires circular needles and I only have straight in that size, etc. The list could go on….

Of course I could just stick to scarves, small bags, dish cloths, and that sort of thing but I get bored with small things quickly and how many knitted scarves or bags do you really need? I really like knitting sweaters for my kids and there were a few minutes today where I thought designing something myself was the only way to go. That thought only lasted a few minutes. I’m really a long way from being able to do that.

At long last, I did make a decent match. I’ve knit the “The Wonderful Wallaby” before, for my son. It’s a great pattern – knit in the round and the only finishing happens under the arms with about six stitches to graft. The end result looks like a hooded sweatshirt, but it is a sweater.

The yarn I’m using is Lion Brand CottonEase. I’m not too excited about the color. It’s very…um…pistachio-y. But, the sweater will be for my younger daughter and she’d be cute as can be wearing a paper bag. So, I think it will be okay.

It feels good to have something on the needles again, but I was reminded of the many reasons why sewing will always be my first love.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Necessary Sewing

My most recent work has been a long way from exciting. I really don’t like home decorating sewing very much. I find it is usually a lot of long, straight and really boring seams put in a lot of fabric with a lot of pressing. Handling all that fabric gets cumbersome. This type of sewing feels like a chore to me. The fact that I don’t think I have much of a gift for decorating probably adds to my lack of enthusiasm. However, sometimes it is necessary. And now is one of those times.

I made a valence for the girls’ bedroom out of this fabric:

And a curtain for a bathroom out of this (cream-y colored cotton gause):

Pictures of them up and in place would probably be more exciting, but they won’t go up until we move back in.

So, it wasn’t so bad once I did it, but I’ve had this fabric since November and have just been putting it off since then. I do have a couple more curtains to do, but I don’t have that fabric with me.

I also did some sewing for the girls’ group at our church. They need these “flags” for a liturgical dance sometime in the fall. Thankfully, serging around the edges is sufficient because there are about 40 of them and the fabric is not at all nice to work with. I have a lot more of these to do.

Now I likely won’t be sewing again until the end of March. There just won’t be time with cleaning, moving, and unpacking. And then I’ll be in NYC for a few days. Have I mentioned that I’m excited about that?!? So, there won’t be any posting here for awhile, but I will be back!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sling Bag

I’m going on a trip to NYC with my mom in approximately 2 weeks. Well, let's make that exactly 16 days. I am so, So, SO excited about this trip. Of course the thing I am most excited about is fabric shopping in the garment district. We’ll see some other things, too but the fabric shopping part is what I have spent the most time thinking about and preparing for. We’ll be getting around mostly by foot while we’re there and I needed a good bag to tote the essentials around.

I did have a few criteria for this bag. It needed to be…
…something I could make quickly and easily (I do still have 16 days, but those 16 days include a move back into our newly renovated – and beautiful – home. These are busy days).
…a messenger-style bag that crossed from one shoulder to the opposite hip (I want it to be secure and have hands entirely free to touch all that fabric. No straps sliding down off my shoulder).
…big enough to fit a binder in (the binder will hold all of the garment district related info that I want to have with me: swatches, pattern spec sheets, store reviews, maps, etc).
…an easily accessible pattern. No ordering anything online and waiting for it to be shipped to me.

A bit of research online led me to the Lula Louise blog with a great pattern and instructions for a reversible shoulder bag.

Here’s my version:

I increased the length of the strap by 6” so that it would easily work across my body and I would still be able to get things in and out of it while wearing it. (I’m tall). I tapered the strap by 1” (1/2” on each side). I added a magnetic snap as a closure and included two pockets on the inside. So, my bag isn’t reversible, but I’m okay with that.

One of the pockets is flat and the other has pleats so that it can hold something larger. I cut them both on the bias just to make it a little interesting (and maybe so that I wouldn’t have to match the plaids).

Both fabrics are from the home decorating department of Fabricland. I like the feel of the outer fabric – strong and substantial, but not stiff. The lining fabric was right next to the outer one on the table at the store. I could have found a better match if I had looked more, but with two unhappy kids with me in the store, this was “good enough.” *sigh* The outer fabric didn’t want to press well at all. Grrrr. The topstitching around most of the bag keeps it nice and flat, but the bottom of the bag looks like I didn’t press it at all. I couldn’t topstitch it because of the gathers at the ends. This is the only part of the bag that I don’t like.

New York, here I come!! Coming soon…some “necessary sewing.” Bleh.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Entrelac Scarf

This scarf has been on the needles for way too long. I started it before Christmas and just finished it last week. By far most of it was completed during Christmas travels, but then I ran out of yarn. I purchased it from my LYS and they did have more, but after I bought two more balls I think I lost a lot of momentum. I’ve been spending more time sewing and just didn’t have much desire to knit.

This is the second time I’ve knit this scarf (Danica from Knitty.com). The first time was for the Preacher, done in grey. Of course, I cannot find a picture of it on my computer at all now. Fitting...that is pretty much how this day is going. Anyway...

The technique that results in the basketweave look is called “entrelac.” I really like this technique. I made a felted bag like this a couple of years ago. It looks much more complicated than it is. If you can knit, purl, increase, decrease and pick up stitches you can do this. Trying to explain how it works is more than I can really manage without confusing you, but if you are interested The Yarnpath has a good tutorial.

The yarn in this scarf is Lana Grossa’s Cool Wool 2000. This was a fabulous yarn to work with. It was smooth and stretchy and felt so nice sliding through my hands. I’d love to make a whole sweater with it. Unfortunately it is a little more expensive than I can afford to make a whole sweater out of. Bummer.

The brown and green combination is my current favorite. Hopefully it still is next year because it is now starting to feel like spring and I don’t think I’ll be wearing this until next fall. But, I’m certainly not complaining about spring rapidly approaching! By the time the weather cools off again I will have forgotten about the scarf and it will be a pleasant surprise.

Now I have nothing – absolutely nothing (!) on needles. I frogged a scarf that was nearly finished because I didn’t really like it, it was riddled with mistakes and I wasn’t going to have enough yarn to make it as long as I would like. I haven’t ripped out something that far along before. Strange feeling. The last time I worked on it was during the summer, so I didn’t really feel the pain of all that lost time and “work.”

But, being without a project in the works doesn’t feel good to me. Irresponsible, almost. What if I find myself watching TV or being a passenger in the car for more than half an hour? I’m just supposed to have idle hands?!? Yikes. I have a decent size yarn stash, so I just have to do the work of matching yarn to pattern. Stay tuned…

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

An Apron and Apple Pie

When it comes to describing myself as a cook, I’m not really sure what to say. I’m not outstanding or adventurous or creative or passionate. Nor am I inept or awful at it. What I do know is that I am a messy cook. It’s unusual for me not to spill or splatter something on myself. So, I wear an apron. And I thought it was time for a new apron.

I like the colors in this fabric very much, but the pattern is just too much to be worn in a garment and be taken seriously (IMO). I wasn’t interested in a quilt or a bag, so it seemed a good candidate for an apron. I didn’t have a pattern for an apron and didn’t think I really needed one. A very basic apron was all I was looking for (not even a pocket) so I just measured on myself where I wanted the top to be and the waist and the hem. I did the same with widths at the top and waist. These measurements were transferred to pattern paper, I added hem allowances and made the appropriate size rectangles for the neck loop and waist ties.

Construction was simple: finish the neck loop and waist ties, hem the apron sides (catching the waist ties), hem the bottom, and hem the top (catching the neck loop).

Now every once in awhile I get an urge for an apple pie. I think the urge is just as much about making the pie as tasting it. Perhaps the apron provoked this urge, but yesterday was an “apple pie day”. The kids “helped” me. They really only like the part with the apple peeler thing.

We made two pies – one to eat and one for the freezer. With help from the kids and the usual “interruptions” when they weren’t helping, the project took most of the day. Still worth it…

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Jalie 2788 - Twist top

I love the fit of this top. I’ve made it before with short, puff sleeves for summer. So, other than the sleeves, I had this all traced off and ready to go. From absolute start (pulling the fabric out of a box) to finish, this took less than four hours.

I did change the back a bit. The pattern piece for the back is scooped out at the neck and has two ties. I wasn’t so sure about that, so I just raised the back neckline to a height I thought looked reasonable.

The fabric is really stretchy and rather slippery. I was pretty frustrated with it at a couple of points in the process. The neckline was troublesome. But, the 4-way stretch makes it comfortable to wear. However, it won’t be warm. I think I’ll probably wear this with a sweater over it. Covering up a few of the dots might not be so bad.

The twist on the front of the top looks more complicated than it is. The picture above is what it looks like before assembly. The short part on the upper right is the shoulder seam, the neckline and CF seam come down the right side. The “J” on the left is where the twist happens. You line up the two ends of the “J” and sew the edges together up to ¾” from the fold that results. The other front piece gets pulled through this hole and then is sewn the same way. Then the CF seam is sewn from the twist to the bottom. Voila!

The pattern includes the piece for the modesty panel. I’ve “drafted” these for other tops, but it is nice to be able to just trace it off. The V-neck is quite low otherwise, but it does stay close to the body. I stabilized the neckline with clear elastic.

If you haven’t tried a Jalie pattern before, I think you should. They come in an incredible range of sizes – 27 for this one! I make tops for my four-year-old daughter and myself from the same pattern. The pieces are printed on durable white paper and need to be traced before using. I usually mark the line for the size I am using with a marker or highlighter so that I can follow it easier when tracing onto the pattern tissue.

Oh, and Jalie comes from Canada. Pretty nice, eh?