Thursday, December 31, 2009


Squeaking in one last post for 2009.
Sneak peeks at what I did today:
fixed droopy cowl neck from my "fail" post by folding over the collar (ok, this is really from yesterday but I took the pic tonight). Now it's more like a neat boat neck.

folded over floppy cowl neck equals happy camper

Made wearable muslin yoga pants--has a nifty yoke-waistband thing. By "wearable" I mean, worn in the comfort of my own home. I never think heathered light gray is all that flattering but I shockingly made a muslin this time using crummy fabric I didn't care about before cutting into my precious $10 a yard double knit. I think it will look much better in chocolate brown.
yoga style pants wearable muslin
I actually made a sway back adjustment. I took a picture of my rear but really, have no guts to post it. Also, this pattern shockingly thinks that the pants will hold themselves up against gravity, so I added elastic to the waistband. I'll blog the pattern number later.

This is a disaster shirt from 2008 that I never finished. I might have a before photo of it lurking around somewhere. Probably 8 months ago I ripped out the bad collar and have been thinking about what to do with it from time to time. Tonight I actually sewed up the sides and hemmed the armholes and edge of the shirt. This is where it's heading: ruffle-land.
ruffles:  I'm workin' on it

It's almost 2010 here. At 8pm I didn't think I'd stay awake past 9 and somehow I've inadvertently stayed up. Hmmmm.

Happy New Year! And happy blue moon!

4 day weekend!

Gingerbread house at Sea Girt
Gingerbread house at Sea Girt--and a warning!

So excited for my 4 day weekend. It started with a 3pm closing at work yesterday, a trip to Joanns with a gift card I got for Christmas, and the gym. I've been doing my cardio classes since Nov and last week I went back to toning. It's been great to do toning again so I can strengthen my back and my knees. I feel a lot of muscle soreness, but it's just that--soreness, not pain, which will go away as I get stronger. I'm still looking forward to the day when I don't feel any back pain at all.

Later I was pairing my patterns to my fabric which was a lot of fun. I'm still not sure yet what I will sew this weekend, but I have a lot of ideas. I even rescued an epic fail shirt last night, all by folding over the collar! But that will wait for another post. I want to do some reading and some house tidying this weekend.

My dad and I went for a walk on Sea Girt Boardwalk on 12/27. At first there was some sand on the boardwalk, but not too bad:

But in some sections the sand was really piled up and there was a path to get through it.
sandy pile up at Sea Girt

More sand

Here are the goof-off shots
Dad looks out to the beach

Shadows of our former selves
me and my dad

Here I'm a reindeer:
Now I'm a reindeer

Dad walking away
Dad and shadow shot first

Me walking away
Me walking away

I haven't looked outside yet but it snowed overnight!!! I can hear the snow plow. And I got email from my parents saying it snowed.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

What I've learned about sewing in 2009

Sea Girt 12/26/2009
It was cold, rainy and wet at Sea Girt today.
(The black thing? That's my umbrella.)
So I couldn't take a walk. Maybe tomorrow.

So by now you've read my posts about my Epic Fails and Epic Wins. There might be even an "Epic Lukewarm" post coming up. But for now I'd like to share what I learned about sewing this year.

1. Use a cutting mat on a table to cut out fabric. I had to change my cutting style due to my back issues. The mat, which was a Giftmas gift from Pete's parents, is in three section and fits almost exactly on my dining room table. It's really fantastic. Great for measuring and cutting straight lines, and of course my back thanks me too whenever I cut out anything. My previous style was to cut things out hunched over on the floor.

2. Keep those scissors sharp! I never did learn how to use the rotary blade, but I did get my sewing scissors sharpened for the first time in probably 15 years, which makes cutting a lot easier!

3. When sewing with knits, base shirt sizing on the finished pattern measurements at the bust. Pretty much I match my bust measurement to the finished pattern measurement. Antoinette taught me that. I'm still trying to figure out the right measurement for wovens.

4. Mary Nanna blogged about a technique for sewing in sleeves without using gathering stitches. I've only made one woven shirt with set in sleeves since reading that post. I used the technique, and it worked!

5. Speaking of gathering stitches, I had become lazy and was only using one row of gathers instead of two (for things like gathers at the front of a nightgown). Using two rows of gathers really makes a difference--the gathers are much more evenly distributed and easier to handle. I even hear some folks use three rows, but I'm not about to get all crazy.

6. Before I start sewing a garment, I figure out the correct sewing tension on my sewing machine using scraps from the garment fabric. That saves me so much frustration!

7. While reading comments on the Selfish Seamstress blog, I learned that ironing hems really does seem to fix any inherent wonkiness, especially on knit fabric.

8. Mary Nanna also taught me that, to eliminate puckering on collars, collars should be sewn from the center back seam to the front, instead of one continuous line from front to front.

9. I now really consider the fabric I'm using before I start working with it. I've said it before, but I hate wrinkling so I really shouldn't use 100% cotton wovens!

10. No more side zippers (never look flattering, never install properly), no more stand collars (OK, I learned that in 2008), and no more cheapy scratchy knit fabric. I also don't think I should buy any more flannel for a long, long time--I've got plenty in my stash.

So, what did you learn sewing this year??

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

EPIC WIN: My 2009 Sewing Favorites

Almost two weeks ago I blogged about my 2009 Sewing Disasters. Today it's time for a positive spin with my 2009 retrospective on my sewing wins!

Let's start the show!

I think it's a tie for my two favorite garments of the year.

1. First up is my white jacket:
Simplicity 2558, finished
I fell in love with the embroidered fabric at JoAnn's, ignored it for a shopping trip or two, finally succumbed to it even though the fabric is impractically white. I whipped up a coat in a weekend-ish.

I'm not loving them hem, but I was very proud of the bias taped interior finish. You know I must be, because I never showed the interior of a garment before, have I? I added pockets the following weekend because the lack of pockets was driving me insane.
Interior pocket Simplicity 2558

I also added the loop for hanging up the coat in my gym locker:

loop for hanging up my coat Simplicity 2558

I also love these buttons (though the jacket actually snaps shut):
Simplicity 2558 snaps with fake out buttons

I wore it everyday until the temp dropped to the 30's.

2. This is a tie for #1, essentially. It was my first attempt at piping something, and I absolutely fell in love with the technique!

Full length view of Simplicity 3696 view F
I wore it all winter. And now I'm wearing it again on weekends. Plus I finally got to use stash fabric that's upwards of 12 years old!
Simplicity 3696 view F.  Isn't that piping sharp?

3. So once I started piping, I couldn't stop, with this nightgown and bathrobe set!
I wore the bathrobe every weekend during the summer.
view E of New Look 6443 view A

Overall, I think it's pretty cool.
Front of New Look 6443 view A
I also made the nightgown again, this time in a black print with red piping:
New Look 6443  view A version 2.0  in progress

I actually never wore this nightgown, though (yes I can hear you all gasping!)
New Look 6443  view A version 2.0 in progress

4. I was doing physical therapy when I made this pillow (I mean, not during therapy itself). I told the therapist that I sew, and when she asked what I was making, she sort of scoffed at the idea of a pillow, like pillows are so easy. But this was more complicated than what I think she had in mind:
Boom!  It's done with the pillow form inside. Amy Butler snow mum pillow.
At the time, I believe I blogged that it's one of those projects best done slowly, a bit at a time. There's no instant gratification with a pillow like this.
I really should fill out the corners with some stuffing (it's currently stuffed with a pillowform).

I look at it everyday on my Ikea chair and it makes me smile.
doesn't it look so nice??

5. I just adore this cowl neck shirt. I made it again this year, this time in gray. It was worn quite frequently, along with the original pink version.
New Look 6807 in gray!
The ties on the back are just adorable.
New Look 6807, super cute ties in back

6. I only made this 2 weekends ago, but it is destined to become a shirt I wear frequently. I was unsure of the overall look, but I wore it to work and felt very comfy in it. The fabric is just delightful and soft!!
Butterick 5101 in new light

7. I was pretty happy with this shirt that looks more like a jacket once the puckering collar issue was resolved. I wear it about once a week. I rediscovered the joy of princess seaming.
Close up of New Look 6815, no puckering!
I never should have washed it, though. It was kind of brutal to the fabric.

8. I'm very fond of this Built by Wendy shirt, especially now that I've worked the sizing of the biceps out! I think the ties are adorable!
Simplicity 3835, view B with view C's elasticized neckline, ironed.

9. I really love the pleating of this neckline!
Simplicity 2892, view B, without sleeves

10. And I like my little giftmas gift to myself: this red nightgown. I've worn it quite a lot lately.
Simplicity 3696, full view, done

So that's it for my 2009 epic wins! I think my next "epic" post will be about what I learned about sewing this year. :)

So it was a lot funnier to write about failures than the wins...Good night!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mission cookie: complete! Plus ties for New Look 6729

I have a fire burning in the fireplace, and Santa just came by on the back of a firetruck, so the party's in full swing over here. Let's start the show!

The tree on the left has 75 LED solar lights; the tree on the right has 100 (one set of 25 is a dud...). I love the eerie glow of the lights through the snow.
both trees with lights!  love the eerie glow through the snow

Antoinette, I'm jealous of your Texas weather right now! A foot of snow greeted me by my front door this morning. 2 feet had drifted up against the passenger side of my car (the snow came up to my knees over there!) I like the shadows here:
shadows in the snow

I cleared off my car and shoveled out half the back of the car; my neighbor Bruce said I shouldn't be shoveling and shoveled out the rest of the car. Since today was Project Cookie day, I gave him a stack of cookies to say thanks! Since the snow is the powdery type, I probably could have shoveled it all myself. But I was grateful for his help (and if it was the wet type of snow good for making snowballs, I doubt I could have shoveled it at all--too difficult for my back).

I wound up making three batches of Toll House chocolate chip walnut cookies from scratch today. Here's what part of what the haul looks like:
a whole slew of cookies!

In all I have 4 rectangle containers with 18 cookies each, 1 small black round container with 12 cookies, 7 nut containers with 6 cookies each, 2 more nut containers with about 10 cookies each, and 2 BIG round containers with my disaster batch (more on that later).

So round labels look better on round containers, but I'm not going to make rectangular tags for rectangular containers now! (The black containers with clear lids are from Olives where I buy lunch sometimes. They write the price of the lunch on the lid with sharpie marker, but that comes off with soap and water!).

And here's a side view. For the cookie exchange, it's 6 cookies per person, so they don't go to the top:
side view of cookies

And here's a whole bag full ready for deployment:
bag o' cookies ready for deployment!

Needless to say, I have plenty of nut containers left over. Plenty. and a bunch of Olives containers too.

My confession is my second batch of cookies was my disaster batch because I realized that I hadn't put the flour and baking soda in until after I already stirred in the morsels and nuts. Ha ha ha ha ha! So the cookies come out looking a bit weird, like maybe they are oatmeal instead of chocolate chip. They still taste the same. I'm not giving those away as gifts, though. Here's what they look like:

big container of cookies

And in other news, you can see what I did to make the ties on New Look 6729 a bit more interesting (somewhat parallel rows):
ties on new look 6729

Good night!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

New Look 6729, now in turquoise

Gingerbread cookies from Michele!
Home made from scratch gingerbread cookies from Michele--thanks, Michele!

Thanks everyone for the comments about the cookie labels/tags! I'm feeling quite smug about them myself. I will make the cookies tomorrow (Sunday) though the exchange has now been moved to Tuesday. There's just no way I'm going to work all day Monday, go to the gym and then come home and bake cookies. No way, no how.

Anyway, there are all sorts of free clipart and photos on the microsoft website, which I use at work in my presentations and documentation. Just type clipart in the search box at the home page. I've been using their free clipart and photos ever since a colleague of mine introduced me to it. I don't know if it makes my users laugh, but it makes me laugh.

I read two blog postings today about hoarding. Well, here are the nut containers I've been hoarding at work since January. Spot the non-nut container in this photo:
Mostly plastic nut container collection (spot the non-nut container!)

For the nut containers, there are two sizes: small and large:
small nut container (left).  large nut container (right)

I also have a variety of plastic food takeout containers that could work as well.

The snow is certainly flying. It sounds like it's the kind of powdery snow, not the wet, good-for-snowballs kind. Periodically I hear it hit the window.

So today I made New Look 6729, which I had made a year ago. Apparently I never blogged it, but here's the version from last December:
Detail of New Look 6729, view A

This time I made it two sizes smaller (the 12) and the ties are shorter (due to lack of fabric issues) and the neckline is not as wide. And now it's in turquoise instead of dark berry fabric.

The Batman shot:
New Look 6729 Batman shot

The front view:
New Look 6729  front

The back with Dolman sleeve action, plus you can see how the ties criss-cross in back:
New Look 6729 back (dolman sleeve)

The side view (slight sway back: I've got it!). Plus I really wanted to keep that light bulb in the shot for some reason...
New Look 6729 side

So maybe I should have only gone down one size instead of two, as it might be too small in the chest? least this time the sleeves are wide enough in the bicep area. I'm thinking of doing minimal seam allowances on the first version in the bicep area as that somewhat annoys me when I wear the shirt. There's also some fraying issues I would like to resolve with the older version. :)

So, what do you think about it?

Good night!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thursday night craft: Cookie labels

So next week we're having our cookie exchange at work, which involves making 6 cookies per person, putting them into a bag, labelling them with the recipe, and then in a few months we'll all receive a million cookies in the mail.

Oh wait, that's chain letters.

So after watching Addicted to Plastic early in the year, I decided I would start saving my "disposable" plastic containers and see if I could reuse them for other purposes. I eat a lot of nuts each week which come in, ta-da, plastic containers. I now seem to have a bazillion of the containers. The containers have labels on the lid, the sides of the container, and/or the bottom. These containers would be perfect, I think, for the cookie exchange, and for those who are receiving cookies from me as a gift.

I just adore our wedding fonts, which are Wendy and Century Gothic, and adore the freebie clipart from (Pete bought the Wendy font this summer and installed it on my computers; Century Gothic comes with Office.) I saved snowflake clipart from Here's the result of the merge of ideas:

Extra close up cookie tag & lid

I wrote up the text and arranged the snowflake clipart in powerpoint. I drew a circle to help me frame the work and give me a guide for when I cut the tags with scallop scissors.

I had some heavy paper leftover from a project from like 9 years ago. I only had one sheet of forest green but the other colors don't look too bad...
cookie labels at a distance

The idea is I will tape the label to the top of the lid, and will use up the containers that have no labels on their sides first. It doesn't matter if there's a label on the bottom since the cookies will hide that.

Cookie labels close up

These tags turned out even better than I imagined. There's a lot to be said for printing black text on colored paper. It's not color printing, but I think it looks mighty fine! I could imagine making gift tags this way as well.

So that was a nice project for a Thursday night. I'll make the cookies on Sunday.

Good night!