Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Post-Sandy, Post-Birthday, On-Halloween Update

Pirate on Halloween
Yarrr mateys!  I don't think I ever blogged my pirate costume?  I sewed it pre-blog in 2007.  It's Simplicity 3677.  I made the shirt, vest, pants, and shoe covers so it would look like I'm wearing boots.  Hat, sword, belt were purchased.  I struggled making the pirate jacket and gave up; then it turned out to be too warm to wear it anyway that day.  Picture above taken on 10/31/07 in Myrtle Beach, SC. 

 Greetings from central NJ, near Princeton!
Last year it snowed on my birthday, this year there was Sandy.  Highlights:
  • My power went out on Monday night at 6:30pm and came back on yesterday at 10am, thank you PSEG!  I feel SO lucky and grateful. 
  • Monday night I cut out the fit muslin pattern for my jeans class by flashlight...also cut out a sample (much like the one I did in the ASE class) also by flashlight.
  • I slept on the sofa bed in the living room because I was afraid the trees on the ridge out back would fall onto my bedroom.  It felt like camping in my living room.  
  • One tree fell in the side yard, broken at its base
  • Hal (my roomba) woke me up when the power came back on.  What a cheery way to announce the power is back on!
  • Twitter on my smart phone was my friend til 5am when my cell battery died.  I tried charging it in my car the next morning but the internet and texting didn't really work.  Voicemail didn't start working til last night.
  • My parents, who live about 10 min from the Jersey coastline, have been without power since 5:30pm Monday night. They lost 6 trees including one that split in half and another that is blocking their front door.
  • I have been unable to call my parents since yesterday morning.  Dialing their number always returns a busy signal.
  • Princeton has been closed since Monday.  I'll find out this afternoon if I have to report back to work tmw or not.
  • There is a boatload of traffic driving through my neighborhood, which makes me think a detour was set up.
  • Halloween has been rescheduled in NJ.
Sorry, there's like 3 posts in one....
Here is the front of jeans fit muslin #1:
 Muslin #1
and here is the back of fit muslin #1:
 Muslin #1
If you want to see me wearing fit muslin #1, you have to pay for the class and go to the class gallery. There's no way those pix are seeing the light of day anywhere else.

On Monday I made lemon chicken orzo soup for my birthday. I was feeling all relaxed and creative taking pix:
Lemon chicken orzo soup in progress
Parsley from my garden, complete with rain from Sandy
Lemon chicken orzo soup in progress
I love my lemon squeezer!

A cup of orzo:
Lemon chicken orzo soup in progress
And that's lunch!
Lemon chicken orzo soup done!
So my birthday wish is for everyone without power and gas to have it restored quickly!!! Phone service too!   And to quickly dry out...

Be well!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Perspective on Burda Style 7253

Thank you for your sympathetic comments on my last post. (JuliaRu, if I had a way to directly contact you, I would have because your sweet comment made me feel SO much better.)

I was distraught and I have since calmed down, waaay down.

To answer your questions, the fabric is a "linen look" blend of non-natural fibers. I don't like wearing natural fibers generally because they wrinkle easily and I hate looking like a wrinkled mess, especially after carefully ironing a garment only to look like I'm wearing something that was last seen balled up in a corner. But it was probably a combo of that (as several suggested) and the fabric being cut off grain like Gwen suggested.

Anyway, I decided to wear the dress to work today and guess what, now I like it!

So here I am, just awakened....before work...
Burda Style 7253 view A done (morning)
And here it is after wearing it all day:

Burda Style 7253 view A done (after wearing at work all day)

So there are horizontal wrinkles across the skirt part of the dress, from sitting down, which runs into the pucker situation on the side seams. Somehow this now makes it all ok, like it's just normal wear. Even if the side seam wasn't puckered, the wrinkles would be there no matter what--it's the nature of this kind of pegged skirt design.

So I have made peace with this design.

Side view after wearing all day:
Burda Style 7253 view A done (after wearing at work all day)
Back view:
Burda Style 7253 view A done (after wearing at work all day)
But yes, Summer Flies, that button *is* the bomb:
Burda Style 7253

Ok, so based on your advice, I am going to buy the regular ham, ham stand and seam roll from Stitch Nerd. Excitement fills the air!!!

No one is going to take the jeans class on Pattern with me?? Sniff.

Cookies anyone? I made them tonight, Nestle Toll House chocolate chip with walnuts from scratch. YUM!   The ones in the bags will be distributed at my meditation group tomorrow.  The big container is a thank you for my chiropractor.

Velosewer thanks for baking with me via twitter!  It was fun!
First batch of cookies for the fall season 2012
Ok, I feel better now!!
Be well!!

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Burda Style 7253 is pretty much done.  I can't imagine working any more on this dress than I have already, though I *hate* this puckering on the skirt of both seams  and don't know how to get rid of it.  It wasn't there when I sewed the seam and pressed, but when I serged the raw edges the puckering appeared (because I was at minimal seam allowances there--sigh).

 I undid the serging and seam and pressed and stabilized with interfacing and lowered the tension and sewed again and pressed again and serged and for gawd's sake I even starched it and the puckering is *still* there.

Burda Style 7253
Honestly I can't spend anymore time on this dress which I have had to undo and redo every single seam of it 3 times or more.

This dress has made me question why I sew.
Burda Style 7253

But the band isn't so bad and I love that rose:

Burda Style 7253
Here's the pattern envelope:
Burda Style 7253

So my questions are:
  • Why is the puckering happening? 
  • Will it drive me crazy when I wear it?
  • Will other people notice the puckering?
  •  I currently do not own a tailor's ham.  Several of you pointed me to Stitch Nerd for cute custom-made hams.  What type of ham should I get?  
    • regular ham?
    • contoured ham?
    • extra large ham?
  • Should I get a seam roll AND the ham stand too?
  • Will you join me for the Blue Prints to Blue Jeans class on Pattern Review?  The first chat is Oct 29 but if you buy the class now, the lessons are already up!
I leave you with flowers.  My favorite flower farmer was done for the season so I had to buy sunflowers from another stand.  The zinnias are left over from last week.  (Gwen, I made vegan minestrone soup tonight but did not take pix!  Maybe during the week??)

Princeton Farmer's Mkt Flowers
Be well!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Asterisk Pillow in All Its Glory

hello asterisk pillow!
The Asterisk Pillow, Casa Kyle

I met Leslie last year at PR Day Austin 2011.  When she introduced herself to folks, she would say, "I'm Leslie--the Other Leslie in Austin".  The Other Leslie in Austin has a delightful blog called The Seasoned Homemaker.    It turns out Leslie teaches sewing in Austin as well as living there.  This summer she posted a series of tutorials on pillows that were really a broad education in the basics of sewing.  I have been sewing since age 12 and learned things in the tutorials I only recently learned or started doing in the past few years or never even tried at that point (like French seams).    She is serious about her tutes, and they are spot-on.  Detailed instructions, with pix, no stone goes unturned in her tutorials. 

I saw her ampersand pillow tutorial and had to have it.  (Wouldn't it be cute for an engagement photo? Couple sits on couch holding the pillow between them?)
By the time I got around to making it, I changed it to an asterisk. 
I used Leslie's piping tutorial to make piping for the second time in my life.  The first time is here.  It really is easy to make your own piping.

Then came time for the asterisk.  I had saved some asterisk templates from my reverse applique phase (one attempt is here).   But none of them were large enough for the pillow.  I had planned on going to Staples and getting one of them enlarged but I didn't.  So I had to enlarge it the old fashioned way, using a technique I learned in high school art class.

I got out some graph paper (a notepad left over from my old job)....and traced around the two templates I had. 

How I enlarged an asterisk template
Why I felt the need to autograph this "piece of work", I don't know.

And then I traced it on the "grid interfacing-type-stuff" which is used for tracing patterns. The grid there is 1x1 inch. So the larger of my asterisk templates would produce a 14x14" asterisk--perfect for a 16x16" pillow.  But I wound up folding it into quarters and cutting....which is why it doesn't really follow the lines I drew...
asterisk template
The turquoise fabric I used is uplostery fabric remnant that has been in my stash for ages.
I used heat and bond on the turquoise fabric.
Then I cut out the asterisk using my rotary cutter.
Then I fused it onto the pillow front.
asterisk heat and bonded on
Then I stitched it onto pillow. I used a zig zag stitch set at stitch width 3 and stitch length, er, it was probably 1? I can't remember, it was last weekend. But I played with some samples first to get the stitching to be what I wanted. I guess my note to myself for next time is to stitch OVER the raw edge and onto the base fabric a little bit, so that the raw edge gets completely covered.  You can see I didn't always get the entire raw edge covered so it's fraying a little.
using a zig zag stitch with small stitch length
And then it looked like this:
asterisk now sewn on (front)
and on the back it looked like this:
asterisk now sewn on (back)
So I got to use my Kai needle craft scissors, with double curved blades. I bought these at the ASE and OMG how did I live without them? They are AMAZING. Look at how easily you can snip off threads when the blade is curved doubly?  You can get really close to the fabric without contorting your hand or the need these scissors in your life!
demonstrating the Kai needlecraft scissors N5130 double curved blades
Also you can see this is one of my samples where I was trying to figure out stitch length for the applique; and also practicing that tight curve.  And I threw some piping on top so you can see the piping I made.

At that point I finished up the pillow as per her tutorials (a combo of the envelope pillow and the piping tutorials).

Asterisk pillow
Here it is on my living room couch
asterisk pillow on my couch
My living room decor is Hawaiian-style.  I feel like the asterisk could also be vaguely flower-esque.
my living room
If I make this pillow again, I will enlarge both back pieces so there is more of an overlap.  My pillow is kind of bursting out the back, but I think that's probably due to operator error or deviations (using larger seam allowances, and larger widths for finishing the exposed edges of the back of the pillow (the "envelope" part where the pillow is inserted).  I might sew in snaps back there or buttons/buttonholes.

The other pillows on the red couch are from Pier One, but the pillow on the ivory chair is one I made in 2009. It's the Amy Butler Mum Pillow, which I blogged about in several posts, the last of which is here. The free pattern for it is here on Amy's site.

It always looked a little flaccid in the corners so I used some stuffing to fill it out last weekend--MUCH better.
Amy Butler Mum pillow, restuffed
I have always adored the pillow--it makes me smile.
Amy Butler Mum pillow, restuffed
So here is a teaser for what I'm working on now:
Burda Style 7253 in progress
It's Burda Style 7253.
That rose button is just pinned on for the photos.
Burda Style 7253 in progress
Look at how nice and even the gathers are on one side but not the other. Hmmm...I will have to play with that. I used my serger for gathering, but I was paying more attention to getting the band width right, and not as much about the gathers, when sewing the band to the dress front.  I'm still tweaking the fit, and have to bind armholes and sew the back kickpleat and hem.

Here are the Princeton Farmers Market flowers from 3 weeks ago. I have bought pretty much the same bunches the last two weeks too, they are very similar! I think this might have been the last week for the flowers as it hit 32F on Friday night. (then today it was 75F....)
Princeton Farmer's Market Flowers
I love their vibrant colors! These are zinnias and have become my go-to flower after the end of the black eyed susans. I especially love the green ones (just one in this photo).

Last weekend I harvested the remaining 3 mini-pumpkins (gourds). So I harvested 7 total and gave 3 away.
Pumpkin Family Portrait picture day:  pumpkins A (2 months), M (21 days), and J (1 month)
And finally, I decided to start cooking again. Here's my dinner tonight:
chicken noodle soup
Chicken noodle soup, made with parsley from my garden.  I felt proud of my "knife skills" tonight.  Chopping used to take ages and now it's relatively fast.  Improvement, progress, yes!

So thank you to the Other Leslie in Austin for posting such great tutorials, and for encouraging general sewing improvement all around!   By the way, right now she is doing a 31 day series of tutorials on embroidery machines, if you're interested.

By the way, if you're on Blogger, could you please check your stats and see if they have disappeared?  All my stats for page views/sources/etc seem to have been reset today back to 0????    Why?  How?  I don't know???  I don't know who to write to about it?  I liked my stats!  At least my blog still exists, and the comments are still there....  OK, I just googled "blogger stats reset" and it happened to everyone with a blogger blog...I'm not the only one...phew!

Be well!!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

American Sewing Expo 2012 recap

This was my third year at the American Sewing Expo in Novi, Michigan.  Where else can you...
  • meet independent designers and sewing personalities like Angela Wolf, Gertie Hirch, and Jennifer Stern, in one place?
  • meet a woman whose job title is "Project Manager for Zippers and Fabric Crafts"  (What a cool job title!)
  • meet-up with women (shopping, eating, chatting) who follow your blog on a regular basis?
  • meet the instructors of online classes you've taken?
  • take hands-on classes on ultra-cool, brand new sewing machines to learn new techniques?
  • buy hard-to-find notions like stretch twin needles in-person and buy patterns from the designers themselves??
  • meet the producer of It's Sew Easy and be asked if you want to be on tv!

I also want to say, the expo is way more fun when you have someone to share it with.  I need to say a great big thank you to Bonnie for being my partner-in-crime during the hands-on classes, fashion shows and several meals.  You rock, and definitely the expo was more fun overall because of you!

Also, after taking those hands-on classes I may need to upgrade my sewing machine.  Mine is a $300 Baby Lock circa 1994.  I had NO IDEA that machines will cut threads for you, put the thread in the fabric for you and lift it out afterward, allow you to set precise stitch lengths and widths, allow you to change to a zipper foot without having to unscrew the presser foot, etc etc etc.  A whole new world has appeared before my eyes!

The expo began on Friday but I couldn't fly out on Thursday due to other commitments.  So I missed the first day. While I was at the airport Friday morning, Bonnie texted me to say she had already arrived at the expo and purchased her first item!

I drove directly from the airport to Haberman Fabrics in Royal Oak.  They always have a big booth at the expo but I wanted to check out their store.

back entrance to Haberman Fabrics, Royal Oak, MI

It is gorgeous inside. Clean, well-lit, spacious, well-organized. Not too big, not too small, not overwhelming. In a way, it felt like the best of what you can find in the NYC garment district (fabric and notions) in one store. They also have neat quotes on their walls.
Haberman Fabrics interior
This gives you an idea of just how spacious the place is:
Haberman Fabrics interior
When I arrived, a tour bus group was there. I didn't ask but assumed they were the Canadians who were heading to the expo (I learned the next day that I was right!).

I bought these lovelies (all knits except one buttery piece of rayon suiting) and had them shipped back home:
fabric I bought at Haberman!
I am really excited about that piece on the bottom; wait til you see what I have planned for it!

Then it was time to drive through the evening rush to check into the hotel, change, and drive to the ASDP Fashion Show. I texted Bonnie to let her know she wouldn't recognize me because I would be in wovens!
me and Bonnie after the ASDP fashion show
My outfit:  shirt:  simplicity 2892.   skirt:  new look 6103
Bonnie scoped out the best seats for us, a trend which continued during the weekend.  I'm really sorry I didn't say hi to Rhonda from Schmetz--I assumed she'd have a booth at the expo and we could chat later.  I was wrong!

The next morning I introduced myself to Jennifer Stern. She taught the online PR "break your serger out of the box" class this summer and I was able to tell her in person how much I enjoyed the class and that I am using my serger now!
me and Jennifer Stern, my online serger teacher
My dress:  Butterick 5559

Then I headed over to the blogger meetup where I met Gertie!
me with Gertie and her new book
and also met Allison of Welcome to My Home. She reads my blog! Yay!
me with Allison
Some neat things about the blogger meetup: learning that Cupcake Goddess is now A Fashionable Stitch, the Coats and Clark thread people have a blog, and one of the women who works at Coats and Clark has "Project Manager for Zippers and Fabric Crafts" as her title. What a cool title!

There were exhibits on the expo floor. I just love the category for this; "Most Successful Pocket".
Isn't this coat goregeous? I think it was designed by Joi Mahon.
Around lunchtime Bonnie and I went to the Amazing Seams class where I stitched a flat felled seam and also French seams for the first time in my life. We also did Hong Kong finish, which I have previously done. I was hoping to learn how to sew lace hem tape to a hem but no dice.
in the Amazing Seams class
Bonnie and I went to the Passion for Fashion show where we had GREAT seats once again. (Passion for Fashion is like Project Runway at the expo...contestants are given $100, have to buy all materials off the expo floor and don't know the theme until the contest starts Friday morning.  They sew on the expo floor with everyone passing by!)
Passion for Fashion show
All outfits were on display the next day; here is the winner (the theme was about insects.) the winner of Passion for Fashion

I skipped a seminar class Sunday morning to do some shopping (loved how velosewer tweeted back at me that she would have done the same thing!).   There were particular booths I wanted to hit up and it was NOW OR NEVER.
First was to buy Gertie's book--she even signed it for me.
me with Gertie and her book
Next was Angela Wolf in her booth. She has a new line of her very own patterns which I'm so excited about! I picked up her t-shirt pattern. Was also excited that she had samples in the booth so I know which size to start with, yay!
me with Angela Wolf in her booth
My dress:  Butterick 5638

It was there that she introduced me to the producer of It's Sew Easy. So what do you think, should I try to be on tv???

I think next was Kai Scissors where I got a pair of embroidery scissors, which I think I will write about as part of my next post.

Then I hit up the Vogue Fabrics booth. The Vogue booth was much smaller compared to the last two years and in a different location. Mainly they had cut fabrics and not a lot on rolls. They did have plenty of luscious Sophia double knit--someday I will buy it!
Vogue Fabrics sophia double knit colors...
I also ran into Juliette Kimes...who I had last seen at her ranch during PR Weekend Austin 2011. We had a nice chat about her donkeys!
me withJuliette Kimes
Then I had lunch with Lynnelle and Momma Askey. I really enjoyed seeing them again, and we had a really nice conversation.  Lynnelle made her entire outfit, including her jeans!
me with Momma Askey and Lynnelle
Then it was time for Jennifer Stern's jeans class--3 hours, hands-on, where I sewed my first ever jeans front pocket and first ever front fly! I noticed Bonnie was taking pictures of each step so I started taking pictures too--what a great idea--to try to cement this words and pictures....
Jennifer Stern's jeans class
Bonnie sewing away....

I was SO excited that my sample resembled jeans!  Jennifer was a fantastic teacher--the pace of the class was great, I didn't feel rushed or bored, and most importantly, I "got it".
me and my sample from the Jeans class!
It's blurry, but it turned out Elnora from PR weekend Chicago 2010 was in the row behind Bonnie and me at the jeans class!
Me, Bonnie and Elnora from PR weekend Chicago 2011
Then it was time to say goodbye to Bonnie. I headed over to Jennifer's booth to get her jeans pattern. I was able to try on samples in her booth, and she wrote down the pattern alterations I would need to get the jeans to fit, yay!
So, look at all the goodies:
All the goodies from the ASE
I also bought this fabric from the SewkeysE booth, brown with brown and coppery glittery sparkles!!
gorgeously sparkly fabric I bought
So if you ever have the chance to attend the ASE, go for it!
I finished the pillow this weekend--but that will be in another post...

Be well!