Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Year in Review

Instead of a Christmas tree, this was my ode to the holidays.

This is the first week that I've had the week between Christmas and New Year's off since 1998 and it is AMAZING.   Utter joy, I tell you.  I have taken other weeks off and not traveled, but there is something about staying home this week that is totally decadent.  Less commitments and no routine.

Happy New Year everyone!!!  Or almost-New-Year, depending on where you are located and when you read this.  It's still New Year's Eve for me as I write this.

I won't forget 2014.  It was a huge surprise when my mother suddenly passed away on April 5. One of the many lessons I learned from her death is this:  Is there something you want to tell someone, something you've never told them or haven't told them enough?  Don't assume that they know.  Tell them now.  Mom was always big on reiterating that point with me and those around her, but I had saved up items to tell her between Christmas (the last time I saw her) and Easter, but she didn't make it to Easter.

Another big event was that the huge software project I'm on at work went live on July 1 and is still stabilizing.  I'm still learning more about the software every single work day.

If you're a long time reader, you know that in Jan of 2009 my chronic back pain started, along with a variety of other health issues.  I'm happy to say that 2014 was my most pain-free year since before my chronic pain started.  Something hurts in some way every day, but it's not as intense, long lasting or as terrifying as it was in 2009.  I have many days now without any back pain at all and it is AMAZING.  Totally, utterly grateful.

Enough of all of that; let's get to my personal performance evaluation on my sewing!

Items Sewn/Stitched
Oliver + S Valentine Hearts

So that's 21 garments total, plus 1 bag, 1 pillow, 10 hearts and 6 sashiko items and the CTGBS dress.  The 2 items labelled "and a half" means I started them but have not finished them...they will be finished up in 2015.


One of my favorite "action shots" ever!  Thank you Anna Christina for taking this class with me, and taking the picture!
  • PR weekend, Austin in April (5th year in a row)
  • MPB Day, NYC in August (3rd year in a row)
  • NYC with ATP in September
  • American Sewing Expo, Michigan, in Sept (5th year in a row)
  • PR Day, NYC in November (2nd year in a row) where we toured the McCalls Pattern Company
  • Not really a meetup per-see, but I also participated in the "Around the World Blog Hop" in Sept.
New sewing tools
  • The Ikea Groland kitchen island for my Elna Press  (that press is a miracle worker and deserves its own post about how amazing it is)
  • My BabyLock Enlighten serger --with it I was able to do my first ever rolled hem on a serger.  I was serging on it again just last night and it is pure JOY to have the right tool for the job, seriously.
  • Not a tool per-see but I did redesign my blog in May so now it looks like 1995 instead of 1965 
  • I never blogged it but I am using the Nancy Zeiman sewing gauge and it is pretty nifty. It's better than the regular standard issue sewing gauge because the plastic gauge part is much longer so it makes marking hems faster for me.

Hits/Favorite Items
Maria Denmark Lotta Lady Bag
I think my very most favorite thing sewn this year is my Maria Denmark Lotta Lady bag.  It is absolutely perfect for work.  I just love it 

Maria Denmark Lotta Lady Bag

This is my favorite skirt--New Look 6843 with the darts pleated out for knits and elastic waistband sewn on that looks like a belt--I wear it at least once a week and sometimes twice a week.


I love this red Vogue 8571 dress but I don't know how to style it for winter.  

Vogue 8571

I also love this Vogue 1351 dress--I solved the "poly stretch lining clings to my tights" issue by wearing a nylon slip; problem solved.

And I love the McCalls 6559 polka dot dress too

McCall's 6559 done

And I love the "Can This Garment Be Saved" Simplicity 1609 dress--I've been wearing it pretty much once a week since I "saved" it.

Simplicity 1609
And I adore the Muppetlicious Sewaholic Renfrew.    Cute story:  On Christmas Day the neighbor who sews came over.  I told her I made the shirt I was wearing.  After, Dad said he didn't realize I had made that shirt; "it looks like something you bought in a store".  Bingo!

My third Sewaholic Renfrew:  fuzzy!
The underwear makes me pretty happy too.  I showed it to my friend who said "this really should be a bikini bottom because it deserves to be seen!" 

I am also loving stitching sashiko and want to continue with it in 2015
Olympus sashiko #240 dragonflies

Misses/Least Worn

New Look 6843 view C
This skirt; I feel like somehow the shape is not right and it's too big.  I should have made my usual A-line skirt from it but I thought the fabric was more suitable for a pencil-skirt shape.  Now I don't have any more of this fabric and I bought it years ago.   Maybe someone has it in their stash and would be willing to sell the fabric to me?

Simplicity 1314
This Simplicity dress; I spent a lot of time and effort on it but I should NOT have quilted the bottom panel.  It feels a bit like armor wearing the dress, and guess what?  All that time I spent getting that front wrinkles out of the front bottom half of the dress?  After wearing it, the wrinkles have popped up!  I wonder if they are there because the panel is much heavier than the rest of the dress?  

StyleArc cardi;  This really isn't my style.  Since I have hips, I don't need any extra fabric at my hips.  I might chop it off.  Hmm....

StyleArc Laura cardi

Looking back at last year's recap, I completed ~half of my goals.

My goals for 2015 are to sew up the denim jacket and get real about fit. Fit is still my nemesis, and by "get real"  I mean, pick a system for helping me fit my clothes, stick to it and see if it works for me.  It's not a coincidence that many of the items I made this year were remakes where I already had perfected the fit because I did not feel like dealing with fit on new garments.   I think I am going to use Joi Mahon's method this year with new patterns I sew up and see what happens.    I need to relax a bit and not get so emotional about fit.

I also want to watch more of my online class stash, but now that I am stitching sashiko, I can watch classes and stitch at the same time.

Overall evaluation
I am getting better at matching fabric to pattern and also knowing what styles look best for me.  

I still get sucked into the fitting drama of every wrinkle.  I think I need to "let go" a little more.  (Hmmmm...does that conflict with my fitting goal?)  

I still think that I should be able to sew up a shirt or dress "in a few hours" and am surprised when it takes me 20 or more.  It takes however long it takes.

I still compare myself to other bloggers who sew garment after perfect garment in the time it takes me to make just one (or none!); I have to keep reminding myself it's not a race.

One of the consultants on my work project said she understood why I was such a perfectionist on the project, because I am a perfectionist when it comes to my clothing.    Hmmm.....

My wish to you:
A happy, healthy pain-free year filled with successful stitches.
Thank you for reading and for all of your comments!!!

Be well!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Olympus Sashiko #240: Dragonflies in Hot Pink

After being pressed with the Elna press.  The directions in my sashiko book say not to press the stitching because it will flatten the stitches, but I think it looks fine.
I am totally addicted to sashiko!

I started this one on Saturday night and finished it Sunday night, while watching Mimi G's Sewing Conference DVD set.

I pressed it today with my Elna press (very first picture).
This is Olympus Sashiko #240, dragonflies.
I used Olympus thread, #21, hot pink.

The stitching is wonky and not perfect but I am giving myself a pass because I am just learning this technique.
The pattern is pre-printed on so you stitch over the printing.
I'm still figuring out the best way to hold the needle and do the stitching.  The fabric for this kit is of a much lighter weight compared to the fabric for the coasters, and I was able to get 6 to 8 stitches per pass of the needle, as opposed to 3 at a time with the coaster kit.
It is supposed to be a pillow kit....I'm not sure if I will make it into a pillow or a wall hanging or just let it be...
I loved Crafty Tokyo Momma's suggestion on my last post to make the dragonflies a different color from the grid, but I had already started stitching the dragonflies at that point.
I'd love to make an animated gif from these pix.
But flickr doesn't host animated gifs, so what is the point of making it if flickr won't host it?

Olympus Sashiko Kit #240 Dragonflies
Stitching was finished here, but the piece was not yet pressed.

Oh and I think I took all of these pictures upside down.

I have three more coasters to do (one and a half coaster kits) of the same designs  I stitched up on Thurs and Fri.  I ordered some more and different kits today online.

When I sew, it requires all my concentration for pretty much the entire process, except hand stitching labels or hand stitching linings to garments.  But with sashiko, I can watch a class and stitch at the same time.  I think I might actually get to watch some of my Craftsy and Pattern Review class stash!

Fear not, I have not abandoned sewing--I finished a tank top for the gym today.  You'll see it in the next post or two.

Be well!

p.s. For my future reference, this is the setting I used for my Elna Press while pressing sashiko:
I pressed it face down with a pressing cloth on top:
Ok, still be well!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Totally hooked on sashiko


Front of Sashiko I stitched over the last 24 hours.20141226_190510
Back. There are two ways to start and end sashiko according to the sashiko book I have. I went with the simpler method first, which is knotting.

So earlier this summer I documented my first attempt at sashiko (Japanese embroidery).

At the time I was having trouble pulling the needle through the fabric (I got out my pliers to help!) and I couldn't read the Japanese instructions that came with the kit.  I had read the general sashiko instructions in English in a book, but it just seemed like it was really difficult on my hands.

I took your suggestions:  I got sashiko thimbles (the metal one *and* the leather one, because when I try something new I go all out), I watched a sashiko youtube video, and I had the Japanese instructions translated (thank you Running with Rocket for the referral and Crafty Tokyo Mama for the translation!)

I also figured out that three or four stitches on the needle at a time is the right amount for me to pull the needle through the fabric without needing pliers!
But I need to use two thimbles, one on my middle finger which is the traditional place for the sashiko thimble and one on my thumb--I now have a tiny blister on my thumb!
I used the Olympus coaster kits, where the pattern is printed on, but used hot pink sashiko thread instead of the thread that came with the kit.
I still need to wash the printing off and iron them.
I'm thinking of framing them instead of making them into coasters.

Above is what I really want to make, the dragonfly pillow kit.   The coasters were mainly to practice the technique.  I might frame the dragonflies instead of making it into a pillow; and I'm probably going to stitch it in hot pink as well.  Running with Rocket already stitched this one up, twice (picture at the bottom of this post).  Can't wait to stitch mine up.  I will probably start mine tmw.  I also want to make a Renfrew out of a chunky sweater knit.

If you have stitched the dragonfly pattern above, did you stitch all the vertical lines first, then the horizontal lines and then the dragonflies??

Be well!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Mrs and Mrs Claus, kissing!
One of Mom's favorite Christmas decorations:  Santa kissing Mrs Claus

Hello Darlings!  Hope Santa brought you everything you wanted!
My Christmas cactus bloomed at the appropriate time this year.  Well done, cactus.  Great job!

Be well!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Cookie Break for Winter Solstice

Here, have a cookie.

Is everyone enjoying the winter solstice?
Today I baked about 200 cookies.   I'm keeping about 50 for myself (heh heh) and giving the rest away as tokens of appreciation.

It's kind of wild that mixing all of this...

Creates this...

I really am appreciative that I will be on vacation the week between Christmas and New Years, for the first time since 1998.  That is very exciting.

And yet, I wish I was off this week too.  2 weeks in a row, at the holidays.  Hmmmm....Well, you know what they say, "When you give a mouse a cookie..."

Ba-dump ump.

I haven't been in the sewing room for any weekend in December....until tonight when I started a tank for the gym.  I also rediscovered a cardigan that I sewed in March and never blogged.  I might it tmw night.   I need to plan the Christmas menu as well.

Lacy overlay for the gym tank.

I don't know why I'm pretending like I don't have to go to work tmw.  I do!
Be well!!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Comic Relief: Underwear!

Happiness is....stripey underwear that makes me smile!

Thanks for your comments on my last post about the Maria Denmark Lotta Lady Bag!  It is one of my most favorite bags ever.   At work I need to carry my laptop back and forth to another building with my notebook and it is perfect for that.

Here's a pair of UW I stitched up back in September, but never blogged.

The fabric is from PR Weekend Chicago, in some dive-like fabric store.
The elastic is from Pacific Trimming in NYC.

I use ATP's "Make Your Own Undies" tutorial whenever I make undies.  I don't enclose my elastic like she did, but rather zig-zag on my picot edge elastic RS to RS then flip it over and zig zag again from the RS.  If anyone wants pix of what I mean, let me know!

One of my friends calls this "comic relief" sewing, in between my larger projects.   It takes me about 90 minutes from cut to finish.

So, even though this was supposed to be comic relief, it had its own drama.

I had started this pair on a weekend, then got to the point where there was 20 minutes left and was too tired to finish it off.

Came home after work one night that week and thought I'd feel accomplished and finish it....
when the sewing machine ate my UW
Then this happened!!!  This has NEVER happened to be before to this extent.  Somehow the fabric/elastic got sucked down into the throat plate and I had to unscrew the plate and physically remove the fabric/elastic out.

when the sewing machine ate my UW
When I removed the bobbin casing I got to see all the lint inside.  Great opp to clean it out!
when the sewing machine ate my UW
And this is what it looked like, stuck in the throat plate
when the sewing machine ate my UW
It actually tore my elastic!!!  But I didn't have enough to cut the new piece of continuous elastic, so I had to make do with what I had.  So now one of the leg holes has two joins in it instead of one.

I put it away for a few days and then went back to it again and finished it off.
UW: boring without bow
But without a bow, the UW looks a bit....naked.
So I made my own bow, having no white bows in my bow stash.  I know from experience that making my own bow and cutting ribbon like this makes the raw edges fray after washing.  I googled to see if there was a way for me to finish the edges, but didn't like any of the suggestions....

So I used Fray Check on the edges of the cut ribbon.  The Fray Check does sort of stain the ribbon, so I cut the tails slightly longer than I wanted, dabbed on the fray check, let it dry the requisite 15 minutes, then used my rotary cutter to cut the new edge so that just the very edge of the ribbon had the fray check on it...which is hardly visible.  

I have washed and dried this UW several times now and can report that the ribbon is only fraying on the top time I might leave more of a buffer and/or make sure that the fray check really covers the whole cut edge...maybe I didn't go far enough?  Or just buy some white bows.  My local Joann's doesn't have any of the size/style I was thinking of, and Pacific Trimming didn't have any either (they had other colors but no white bows!)  I might have to buy them online then.
Princeton Christmas Tree
Here's a little holiday cheer, the Christmas Tree in Palmer Square in Princeton.  I spent last Saturday at work, and went into town to grab some dinner afterward.  Seeing the tree is always a nice treat and a great way to wrap up a productive day!

So, are you tempted to make your own undies???  Or have you already?

Be well!