Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Simplicity 1314: What would you do??? Vote now!

This is the closest I will ever get to making my own "textile"...
20140910_221629

I want to make this dress in time for the ASE...Simplicity 1314
20140910_222932
For that "contrast" center front panel, instead of leather or faux leather I wanted to use a quilted fabric.  I got the idea from Suzanne, who used quilted sweatshirt fabric for the center panel of one of her two dresses.

But I don't have time to go find/buy quilted fabric and matching fabric for the non-center front panel.
And using stash fabric is a GREAT thing.
So I whipped up those samples above.

Question 1:  What do you think is better?The 1" or the 1/2" scale (I think 1/2")

Question 2:  Should I make it in turquoise or in black?  
(the whole dress would be made out of the same fabric, it's just that I would quilt the center front panel as in the first pic above. Should the whole dress be black, or should the whole dress be turquoise?)

Vote now!!!
(p.s. I loved your comments from my last post--I swear I will reply to them in the next 24 hours. Or maybe even right now!). Update: I replied to all your comments in the last post--thank you for them.

Be well!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

me and Swatch at Mood
Me and Swatch at Mood, during Pattern Review weekend 2012 in NYC.  I'm wearing NL 6071, my favorite knit dress of all time.

So today I am doing something I've never done before, which is to participate in a blog tour.   This one is called the Around the World Blog Hop.  I was invited by Kathy of Running with Rocket.  I first met Kathy online when she started frequently commenting on my blog.   She flies airplanes and sews amazing bags (check out her amazing VW bag), and shares her garden too.  She is one of my sewing cheerleaders, meaning she has commented on almost every post I have ever written, since she discovered my blog.  Thanks Kathy for cheering me on!

Here's a bit about myself and the answers to the 4 questions of this hop...

About myself.
I have a predominantly male first name, Kyle.  I get junk mail addressed to Mr. Kyle, I am questioned about my identity on a periodic basis ("You can't be Kyle" is the general sentiment) and often people decide my name is better off as Kylie.  But it's Kyle.  Really.  I'm not making it up.

I am a life-long Jersey Girl (except for college at Bryn Mawr, where I graduated with a BA in chemistry).  I worked for 8 years at Rutgers University for the RCSB Protein Data Bank, and when I left I was the Lead Biochemical Information Specialist.  I have been working at Princeton University for almost 8 years in the Office of Research and Project Administration, and am currently an ERA Manager (Electronic Research Administration, not Equal Rights Amendment, though that would be pretty cool too).  I  manage parts of a few software applications (COS Pivot for finding grant opportunities, Coeus for tracking grant proposals, and PeopleSoft Grants for tracking grant awards).  By "manage", I mean I test software improvements and upgrades, train users on how to use the software, write end-user documentation and run the help desk for my areas of responsibility.  It is challenging work and never, ever boring.

I also love taking group fitness classes at the Princeton Fitness and Wellness Center.

I practice Mindfulness Meditation, with a weekly group in Princeton and on my own.

And I love to sew, when it's not frustrating the hell out of me.

I am primarily a garment seamster, though sometimes I sew bags and the occasional zipper pouch or winter hat.
Vogue 1351 DONE!
My favorite woven dress, Vogue 1351, sewn summer 2013
New Look  view E: cat bag done!
New Look bag from summer 2013
McCall's 6256 view C done!
Zipper pouch from 2013


What am I currently working on?

I'm going to the American Sewing Expo (my 5th year in a row) and want to wear something new when I visit the Simplicity booth.  Somehow I fell out of making Simplicity / New Look garments (except my favorite skirt), but I want to get back into sewing them more--the New Looks generally fit me well and the Cynthia Rowley patterns are adorbs.  So today I started working on New Look 6071.  I've made this one once before in brown double knit and it became my favorite knit dress of all time (see first photo in this post!).  5 hours in, and here's where it currently stands on Izzy:


New Look 6071 in progress
I probably have 4 more hours to go but so far so good!

I'm also working on this pair of UW:

Who doesn't need yellow and white UW?
It just needs a bow front and center and it'll be done!  I started sewing my own UW using ATP's "sew your own undies" tutorial and have not looked back.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Wow, that sounds like a lofty question.  The best I can come up with is that since the end of 2012 I hand stitch my own tags or embroider my name directly into the garments I make.  It's like a painter signing her work.  Later I included the date too.
20140901_152754
Here's an example.  I haven't blogged the above yet; just finished it Labor Day weekend.  Will most likely blog it next weekend.

J Stern Design jeans DONE!
Here's the first time I embroidered my name--on my very first pair of jeans, November 2012.
and here's what I embroidered into my favorite woven dress of all time:
V1351 done
Why do I create what I do?
I think creating is in my blood.  My maternal grandmother Eileen was a HUGE crafter.  She was a Boy Scouts Den Mother and came up with all the crafts the boys made--she received the Silver Fawn from the BSA.  When I was little she gave me all her craft supplies, and I think that got me into it.  Gluing popsicle sticks, glitter, beads, tassels, doll heads, all sorts of supplies.  She also did some hand sewing, making little pins and the like.

When I was ~12 my mom showed me how to use her Singer sewing machine.   She hated sewing but she knew how to use the machine.  I sewed on it every single summer from ~12 until 18, when I got my Baby Lock, which I then sewed on til 2012 (half my life with that machine!) and got my Brother Project Runway machine.  I also have a secondhand serger given to me by a former coworker.  

In my teens I was an avid cross-stitcher, and in 2002 I got a certificate of floral design.

I crafted and sewed on and off til 2006, when I really got back into sewing.  Project Runway became popular then, and it totally hooked me.

I sewed things without much regard to, um, quality, finishing or fit til 2011, when I attended my second Pattern Review weekend in Chicago.  My first PR weekend, I was a babe in the woods and just taking it all in.  But the second year, I was totally blown away by the amazing things people sewed.  I vowed then to up my game and became more particular about my sewing, more discriminating.  It has not been easy.  Sewing and fitting can be soooo frustrating!!!   I just want to sew, not press, not master my serger, not learn to fit myself, just sew, but the reality is that sewing is pressing, fitting and learning the machines.   Last year I thought about giving up sewing entirely, I was that frustrated with fitting.  But creating is in my blood....and I love sewing dresses that fit better than what I can buy in the store, when I can get the dress to fit!

How does my creative process work?
Ha ha ha, it goes something like this:
  • See garment on someone's blog/Pattern Review gallery.  Covet pattern/garment intensely.
  • Buy pattern immediately online or with next pattern sale.
  • Pattern sits in my pattern stash for months/years
  • Finally I make a muslin
  • I sew the real deal, maybe learning a new technique or two along the way.
  • Then I get frustrated with fitting--why is it not turning out like the muslin?  Or get frustrated with machinery--Why is my serger misbehaving?  Why why why?  
  • Spend way longer than I probably should futzing over various large and minor details.
  • Contemplate why I'm such a slow seamster.
  • I get over myself.
  • Photo shoot + blog it.
  • On to the next.

Conclusion
I hope you've enjoyed this little tour, and me giving away more personal information about myself than I ever given in the history of my blog.  :)

Next up on the blog tour
I'm passing the baton to two of my sweet sewing blog friends to keep the tour going, so look for them next Monday:

Vanessa of Sew Filled to the Brim.  I don't remember how I first met Vanessa online, but we've been reading each other's blogs for a long time.  She is currently participating in the Goodbye Valentino RTW clothing fast and is on a fitting journey of her own--making a shirt sloper.  She is also currently making her first pair of jeans!  We were able to meet in person in 2012 in Atlanta, which was pretty awesome.

Lynn of You Sew Girl!  I met Lynn in real life before I ever read her blog--she was manning the PR booth at the ASE in 2010 when I stopped by.  She recognized me from my blog or my PR reviews.  I've been reading her blog since then.  Lynn's idea of a sewing palate cleanser is to sew a pair of jeans (mine is to sew a pair of UW).  She sews amazing jackets too.  Lynn should write a blog called You Throw Girl! because she throws pottery when she's not sewing.

Be well!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

New Look 6843 as a stretch lace skirt


New Look 6843 as a purple knit
I have a lot to say about this simple skirt.

New Look 6843 as a purple knit

It's my favorite woven skirt pattern, NL 6843, the A-line version, modified for stretch fabrics by folding out the darts.   This is my second time making a knit skirt from that pattern; my first try (which I wear quite a lot) is here.

The fabric is a stretch lace from Joann's that I bought last summer with every intention of sewing a gym tank, latching on to my enthusiasm from making my first tank, but never did.  The scale seemed a bit large for that and maybe a little OTT for the gym.  On my first day of vacation last month, I rediscovered this fabric and decided that it was appropriate for a skirt.

Ever since I took the PR class "Understanding Knit Fabrics", I cut 4" squares and wash and dry them to see how much shrinkage occurs.  I had only bought 3/4 of a yard, though, and it did shrink a bit...so I really needed that 4" square back!!

Here's how I pieced the fabric, which meant that little 4" section does not have a selvedge, it's just a raw edge, but who is going to notice?
New Look 6843 as a purple knit

I used elastic from Pamela's Patterns, first zig zagging it to the upper edge and then serging it.
New Look 6843 as a purple knit
I like how it creates the effect  that I'm wearing a belt.

I underlined the stretch lace with free fabric that was in our PR Weekend Austin 2014 goodie bags.  Truthfully, it wasn't in my goodie bag, but ATP gave me hers--and it was a perfect match for this lace.
New Look 6843 as a purple knit

I was quite upset?  ashamed? of this cutting mishap (while cutting out the underlining--not a serger mishap):
New Look 6843 as a purple knit
I mean, it just looks terrible.  I tried to think of ways to hide it and ultimately settled on this solution:

New Look 6843 as a purple knit
I cut Pamela's Patterns elastic down to 5/8" wide strip (it doesn't fray--she advertises how you can cut it down to the width you want), and then hand embroidered my name and date on it. The floss is actually a light purple to match the outside flowers, but it looks white in the photo.
I serged the ends of the elastic and then sewed it on.


New Look 6843 as a purple knit
Now, doesn't that look intentional?  Off-center, but intentional?

Not only does it hide the cutting mishap, it stretches as I wear it (because it's elastic too--unlike a woven label or woven ribbon that would not have stretched), AND it also serves as a way for me to hang my skirt in my gym locker.  Yes!  Good things arising from the bad and all that.

I made the shirt in these photos too; I copied a RTW shirt and fully expected to write a loving post on how wonderful copying garments is, but it didn't come out as I expected.  The fit is not that great and now that I look at the RTW shirt, the fit on it isn't so good either.  But I *love* the fabric itself--I bought it at TexStyles at PR Weekend Austin 2014.

Here's how I wore it to work, with a RTW cardi:
New Look 6843 as a purple knit
Posing next to a giant-sized poke weed that has purple pokey things that coordinate with my skirt.



NL 6843 as a purple knit
Here's a side view
NL 6843 as a purple knit

And here it is without the RTW cardi on. Yeah, the fit on the shirt is not good.
NL 6843 as a purple knit
The shirt fit is really not good, but the skirt is decent.
Actually when I wear the shirt with the cardi, the cardi pushes the too-wide neckline down into the start of a cowl and it doesn't look too bad--and the cardi hides all the drag lines.

NL 6843 as a purple knit
My model pose, ha ha.
One of my coworkers said she thought it was a dress, not a shirt with a separate skirt.
NL 6843 as a purple knit
The end. (ha ha ha ha ha ha, I crack myself up)

I just noticed, it looks like the flowers are not centered on the back, but they are--the skirt must be wore a little off center in the photo, hmmm...

So that was the last complete garment I made on my vacay--I started another garment which I finished last weekend and LOVE.  Wait til you see it, you'll love it too.

Be well!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Another tank for the gym: black and turquoise Simplicity 9776-ish

Black and Turquoise gym tank Simplicity 9776-ish
So this is the other gym tank I made last week on my vacation.

It's Simplicity 9776 again, modified to use FOE as I learned in the PR class "More Knits" last summer.
Black and Turquoise gym tank Simplicity 9776-ish
Both the stretch lace and the turquoise knit I used for underlining came from Michael Levine Loft in LA during my November trip with Rachel and Janette.  This lace only stretches crosswise.  The overall effect is the lace looks more refined somehow, but the top is less stretchy overall.  The FOE is from Pacific Trimming from MPB Day this year.
Black and Turquoise gym tank Simplicity 9776-ish
My serger really hacked up the inside of my black and white tank.  I was wondering, do I need to replace the blade?  Break down and buy a serger that threads itself and adjusts its own tension?  I wound up serging really slowly this time and I also, cough cough, read the manual.  It turns out my serger manual has a chart with the suggested settings for each tension disk as well as recommendations for the differential feed.  Ahem--a better place to start than what I had been doing--trial and error and getting massively frustrated.  For this tank, the right settings were: 5  5  4  3.5 with DF = N
no hacking here

Black and Turquoise gym tank Simplicity 9776-ish
I used this stretch lace trim to finish the bottom edge with a zig zag stitch.  That was because I couldn't use the selvedge because the stretchiness really was crosswise. On my black and white tank, the direction with the most stretchiness was lengthwise, so I could cut it using the selvege as the bottom edge.
Black and Turquoise gym tank Simplicity 9776-ish
I wore it at the gym to boogietone on Monday night, but I got to class just as it was starting, and my sewing cheerleader Sara wasn't there, so no comments were made.  Overall I think the lining inside the top should be a little smaller than the lace itself.
Black and Turquoise gym tank Simplicity 9776-ish
Black and Turquoise gym tank Simplicity 9776-ish
I made 2 and a half more things during my vacation....so still more to show you!  I am especially excited about the dress that is half finished.  I really want to finish it this weekend.
Smokey the cat
Here is a gratuitous cat picture of the stray my dad is feeding.  Due to the cat's coloring, I suspect this cat is a tortie female, but I don't know...the cat definitely has tortitude!  The cat is a bit skittish and only wants to be on the back porch for a short while.

Be well!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Black shirt + cat shirt = cat gym shirt refashion

Cat shirt refashion

Thanks for all your comments about my black and white stretch lace tank for the gym.  I like that I've inspired some readers to try making some gym tanks of their own.  Why not look good while working out--and in your own-sewn tanks?     (I won't make gym pants, it's too easy to buy the Everlast ones at Sears and they fit me well.  I have been having trouble finding gym skirts, though, so I might need to make one....or just see if Marshall's has any.)

Oh, and about my red Vogue dress--I wore it today for the third time and I definitely need to do something about the armholes/bust.  I left room so I could make the bust area wider, though this will require a bit of finesse with my bound armholes.  It feels a bit risky but I think I can redo what I undo if necessary.  Fixing it will make me feel more confident while wearing it.

Soooo...I bought myself this cat shirt (above)  for the gym, for Christmas in 2012, from an etsy seller.  It was one of those "unisex" shirts; i.e. boxy and shapeless, but I loved the graphic. (If the seller had women's fit, I would have bought it.)

I thought I'd "take it in a bit" to make it less boxy and more shapely.  I took it in too much by, ahem, cutting it first, and because I had cut it, there was no going back.  I reported it like this on my blog.  Here's the visual:
t-shirt refashion
I was super frustrated.  It was supposed to be an easy refashion and I messed it up.
But I still loved the cat graphic.  Into the magic closet it went.

Soooo...18 months later I decided "I can do this".

I bought a t-shirt from JCP.
I cut out the cat face.
Cat shirt refashion

I pressed the cat face and the shirt with my Elna press.
I'm still loving my Elna press, btw.
And I still don't know who I am, doing all this pressing.  I press everything, even patterns, like you're supposed to, I know, but I was not much of a rules follower when it came to sewing.

Ok, back to the point.
I taped the cat face to the shirt.  I know I could have done this in a multitude of other ways but I was feeling confident.
Cat shirt refashion

I then sewed the face to the shirt with black thread.

I pressed again.  I know.  I also know the edges will curl with the first washing, but that's ok.  I wasn't going for applique here.  It will look fine with curled edges.  (I got that idea from a RTW gym shirt that has a frog on it, and frog's mouth is a piece of fabric stitched on, raw edges ablaze with wild unfinished abandon).

Now it looks like this:
Cat shirt refashion
And it looks like this on Izzy:
Cat shirt refashion

And it looks like this on me:

Cat shirt refashion

I went to the gym 4x last week during vacay (and made 2 tanks + this refashion) so I could have worn it before this post but I had not taken the pictures yet.  This means I have no classmate reactions, but I don't know if anyone will say anything about this. And I really wanted to take the pictures before wearing it--you know what I mean?  So I think this will be worn to balletone on Wednesday (on Monday I will wear a new lacey tank to boogietone--I plan to blog about it on Monday night).  Fingers crossed.


Cat shirt refashion
yes
Cat shirt refashion
Crazy shot of the day

pink WF hibiscus
The pink Whole Foods hibiscus is in bloom today.  Aloha!!!

Be well!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

B&W gym tank, Simplicity 9776-ish

Simplicity 9776-ish

Thanks for your comments about the red dress, I really enjoyed reading them.  (Rose, I enjoyed how you called it "Kyle Red".  I think red and turquoise (separately, not together) are my best colors and I need to sew with them more.)  I wore the dress again today and I really enjoyed wearing it.  Definitely want to make it again, but need to cut the armholes deeper for sure.  It's a little too tight under the arms.

Soooo....I'm on vacay this week.  Is there anything more glorious than a summer vacation???   On Saturday I made this tank as I wanted some new gym wear.  I made my first tank for the gym last summer after taking "More Knits", a PR online class, where a tiny little tank was sewn to teach us how to sew FOE.   I was hooked, but I had no other pieces of stretch lace at the time.  Since then I've bought a few pieces of stretch lace, ahem.  And I've worn that tank almost once a week for the past year!  The lace is looking a bit worn but I'll keep wearing it til it disintegrates.

Simplicity 9776-ish
For my new tank, both fabrics (stretch lace and white knit underlining) are from Stitched Fabrics, purchased during PR weekend Austin earlier this year.  The FOE is from Pacific Trimming, purchased during MPB Day this year.  Yes, items that have been in stash less than 4 months, yahoo!!!
close up of black stretch lace with white knit underlining
Closeup shot of the black stretch lace with white knit underlining

I cut the tank on the cross grain, which was the stretchiest direction, and also allowed me to take advantage of the selvedge to use it as the bottom edge.
Simplicity 9776-ish

I wore it to 5pm boogietone today (basically 45 minutes of club, latin and other styles of dancing, you can choose the intensity but I usually go for it) and it held up well.  I feel like I could sew it a bit tighter for a closer fit, like it's slightly too loose, but I'll wear it a few more times before making that final determination.  My gym friend Sara, who continues to be a huge sewing cheerleader of mine, really loved it.


Simplicity 9776-ish
I also feel like it could be a bit lower on my chest, or maybe the tank should be shorter?  Something about the proportion doesn't seem quite right.  However, another one of my classmates asked me if I've lost weight (I haven't), so something must be right about this top.

Simplicity 9776-ish
I think I'm continually amazed at how slow I am at sewing.  I'm thinking "this will take me one hour" and I think it was almost 4 (includes everything from tracing the pattern onto swedish tracing paper so I could cut it single layer to serger rethreading to final press--yes, I pressed the seams of a stretch lace tank top and yes it made a difference!)

Simplicity 9776-ish

I basted it first  with a narrow zig zag on my sewing machine then serged the interior seams, then used the zig zag stitch on the FOE as I learned in the PR "More Knits" class.   There are no loving pictures of the inside of this tank as my serger really hacked it up; I have since figured out the correct settings (more on that in my next post about the next tank I made).

Simplicity 9776-ish
This picture is a riot.
hibsicus 8/21/14

I didn't get to plant any flowers this year, but I did manage to use a gift card from my friend Meg to buy two hibiscus plants from that famous nursery, Whole Foods.  Here is one of them, which bloomed with flowers that were sometimes orange and sometimes red.   The other one will bloom either tmw or Saturday and I'll get a picture of it as it's pink.

God-cat owner Christine wanted to know what's up with the soap in the pot.  It's Irish Spring and is initially quite fragrant--it deters the deer from eating the hibiscus which are delicious.  Deer don't like strong scents, or so says the internet, and it seems to work.

Be well!