Sunday, October 31, 2010

a little shirt progress

Several of you asked what pattern I am using.  I am using a frankenpattern based mostly on a Burda World of Fashion shirt.   I morphed the design details from the Burda pattern to my TNT shirt pattern.  My first TNT's came from copying RTW.  And of course, I have posted often about how much I love pattern making software (Bernina My Label).  Getting a commercial pattern to fit me is time consuming and not always successful, but I am still learning about fit.

I started copying RTW when I was a teenager.  It was as simple as taking a seam ripper to an old pair of pants that fit well.  As I carefully deconstructed the pants, it was easy to see how they had been put together, so no instructions were really necessary.  Pants from commercial patterns never fit, so I just made do with my TNT pants pattern.  I was pretty lazy, too.  I seldom added pockets or other details.  I had better things to do with my time (a teenager always does, right?)

About five years ago, when I really got back into sewing, I wanted shirts that fit better in the shoulders.
I had several much-loved shirts from Eddie Bauer that were worn out, so I tackled one with the seam ripper.  Once it was taken apart, it didn't really seem that hard to use it as a pattern.  I cut new fabric and sewed it together the same way Eddie Bauer did.  Over time, the fit has been improved by several teachers and I have even learned how to make changes to the pattern myself.

I just sew.  I don't really look at instructions.  I guess this is why I can have the TV on while I am sewing.  Fortunately, there is no TV in the room with my cutting table.  That part does require concentration.

So!  This method of sewing seems fast.  Of course, it is a very plain shirt, but for now, that is fine.
The sleeve placket pattern came out of David Page Coffin's book.  I lost my old placket pattern pieces.
And this happened.  LOL.  I had to make another collar and try again.

I finished the collar & collar stand in one session, the sleeves and plackets in one session and the bodice in one session.  Next, I'll put the collar on the bodice, then I will set in the sleeves.  Buttons, buttonholes and a hem, and it's a shirt!

I already know I want stiffer interfacing in the collar stand for the next go-round.  And I have yet to see how my alterations turned out, but so far, it's looking pretty good.  Once I have this all figured out, I will start cutting and sewing in multiples.  I'll take some detail photos to show you how I do it.

At this point, I just have my way of sewing shirts.  I enjoyed reading Coffin's book and got lots of great tips that I will incorporate in my sewing.  But I am not really up for changing the way I do things.  At some point you say to yourself, "this is what's comfortable for me".

Oh - one more author mention- I got my Claire Schaeffer DVD!  I watched the first DVD in one sitting and oh I enjoyed it very much!  It's all about hand-sewing.  She wears a needle holder around her neck (like a handyman wears a tool belt).  That way she has all her various needles handy.  I might think about doing that.  I learned so much and I'd like to incorporate more hand-sewing in my work.

OK, this is feeling a lot like an entry into my diary or something.  The weather was pretty and we took a 4-mile walk.   The end.

And thanks to all of you who de-lurked and commented on my last post.  It will be fun to send this fabric off to one of you.  And Mary Nanna, I post things to South Korea all the time.  Flat rate shipping is really not too horribly expensive.  I know how to pack it tight into the smallest possible space!

Cheers, all!

Friday, October 29, 2010

The White (thread) Shirt Project & FABRIC GIVE-AWAY

The Fabric GIVE-AWAY is now closed.  Thanks for reading!
translation: The White (thread) Shirt Project
I love Barbara's idea of sewing ten white shirts and using the process to perfect fit, try new design details and fill in the wardrobe.  And it would be a great idea to buy 15 yards of perfect white shirting fabric and just do it.
Have you ever noticed that every new project requires orientation to the fabric?  You need to think about needle and thread selection and stitch length.  What type of interfacing will work best?  How does the hand affect the fit?  And let's face it, sewing a woven cotton shirting is easy.  So, there is some built-in efficiency in this idea of sewing ten shirts.
Still.  That's a lot of shirts!  
I have started.

There are 2 pieces of white fabric on my shelves and a few more shirtings that will use white thread.  My goal is to sew a bunch of shirts using white thread.  Shirt #1 is cut.  The fusing is done and there are 3 piles ready for the needle: 
  • sleeves, plackets and cuffs
  • collar and collar stand
  • bodice front, bodice back and yoke
I tend to sew shirts in that order.  It's nice to add the collar to the bodice, then insert sleeves.  The shirt comes together so fast in the final steps.
There is plenty left for another shirt - do you want it?
This is a high quality cotton shirting from Michael's.  When I am finished with my shirt, I will mail this remaining piece (almost 3 yards - 45" wide) to a randomly selected reader.  Postage is on me and I will mail internationally.  Just leave a comment to this post if you would like to be included.  I'll pick the name when I have finished this shirt which should be within a week.

Yes, I have ulterior motives.  I am sewing down that stash!

Happy Friday

Sunday, October 24, 2010

AH HA! A better fitting shirt coming right up.

Barbara has blogged about sewing 10 white shirts and I've been thinking about sewing at least one white shirt myself.  Ten white shirts would not go unworn, that's for sure.

One thing that was slowing me down was  the issue of fit.  Oh yes. FIT - again.  My shirts feel too big on me.  But when I look hard, I can't imagine making them any smaller in the bust, waist or hips.  So I tried on one of my favorites and realized it needs an adjustment in the shoulder area.  I could see it using mirrors to view my back, but I could not reach it to play with it.

I put the shirt on my dress form, pinned out the area with excess.  I tried it on again, and YES, this adjustment will help me.  I'll adjust the back and the sleeve.  Shirts, here I come!

Well, that's pretty much it for the weekend, eh?  I can't wait for Howie to get home.  He went up to Boston to share a little birthday love with his son who is (I canNOT believe this) a senior in college.  Where has the time gone??  I can remember when Howie and I realized we would have at least one kid in college for 10 years and wondered how we would survive.  And now, here we are fast approaching 2011.  
Where was I?  Digressing, yes ... so I have taken advantage of all this time to myself.  I cleaned the cat boxes the way I like to do it.  I washed some of the dishes wrong and I bet I have accidentally hidden some things from Howie.  He is one of those people who remember where things go and he always puts them in the same place.  I think it's kind of boring to do it like that. 

Can you tell, I need him to come home and talk to me!!  A whole weekend of just me and the cats- I missed him!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A couple of finished objects

In August, we spent some time at the beach.  We had only one rainy day and, of course, I spent that day  sewing.  I started on a black swimsuit that was to have this hot-pink inner support.  This entire thing is made from powernet.  I am not expert in sewing ling erie (I have purposely spelled the word that way, so as to avoid unnecessary hits). I forgot one crucial step - I did not trim the seam allowances on the cups before top-stitching and so it looks ridiculous on!  Total opposite of a nice smooth look.  Oh well, it was fun to sew.
It is actually very comfortable and it was good sewing practice.  I wear it sometimes for exercise.  Being so rudely reminded of my inexperience, I decided to practice again and this time, I used some luxurious fabric that was gifted to me by Sigrid quite a while back.  They have such wonderful quality in the Netherlands.
I used the Pin-up Girls Classic #1230 pattern from Bramakers Supply in Canada.  Just for fun, I put it on my dress form.  This is a good way to illustrate how the dress form compares to a real body:
The dress form is an idealized & unrealistic version of me.  Where I am squishy (and human) it is completely unyielding and firm.  So it is a good tool for fitting regular clothing that should cover my body like a shell.  Like a chocolate covered ice cream bar.  (Where did that come from?  I think I am getting a little too fond of my ice cream.)

And of course, my gray coat!  I finished it.  I did not add any more topstitching because there would have been places where it would have been imperfect and that just won't do.  Better to leave it as is.  I used much simpler buttons than the gorgeous ones I showed in a recent post.  They really stood out and I decided I did not want the buttons to stand out.

There was one thing I neglected to check at the muslin stage and that was button placement and how that related to the hem.  If I'd known, I'd have made the coat longer so that the 5 buttons would look right.  But, to me, there was something a little unpleasing about this length with the placement of the buttons, so I decided to use very simple buttons that would recede into the gray of the wool.  

This will replace a gray coat I made a couple of years ago that was almost this exact same fabric.  I found myself wearing it constantly because this gray goes with everything I wear.  But this one fits better.  Oh, yay!  Yes, I am totally happy with this coat!

Now what to sew next?  I really don't know.  I've been thinking of a crisp white shirt.  Ling erie is calling me, too.  Hmmmm......

Thank you all so much for your support while I sewed the coat.  This was the biggest project I have taken on for myself and having you cheering me on helped A LOT.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Coat Lining - In

Wow, I am almost finished!  Buttons and maybe a little more top-stitching and I can wear this coat.
Here is what I did today:

So that's it for now.  The weather is just about perfect to start wearing it soon.  I already want to make another coat, but I think I will hold off and wear this one for a while to see how I like the interfacing and everything I did.  I really like the Lady Grey coat that everyone is sewing now and I have just the right fabric for it.
Or maybe ... ?
It's nice to have a little lull between projects to dream about what's next.
How about you?  Did you sew this weekend?  Hope everyone had a nice one.
Happy Sewing!

Friday, October 8, 2010

refreshing the sewing room

When I was growing up, I was envious that my brother could ignore his surroundings and practice guitar all day.  Then he went out at night and played in a band.  It seemed to me that he knew how to live the dream.
I, on the other hand, could not relax enough to practice my violin unless my bedroom was clean.  Frankly, the smell of his room prevented me from entering.  A glance in that direction was enough to confirm my suspician that things like old meals, worn clothing & homework were layered in a somehat chronological order.

Now that I am grown up, I embrace my way and I am living the dream. 
Because I took off a whole week from work to organize my sewing room.  And as soon as I have everything where I want it, I can get back to creating.  yay!
Here is where I stand right now:
Built storage unit "Besta" by IKEA and all of my books, magazines, etc are in one place.  yay.

The guest room was painted white.  The pink lost its charm after DD grew up and flew the coop.

Custom dress form picked up in New Jersey.  Love it already!

New ceiling fan WITH lights.  I'll miss the c.1984 shiny brass version :/
These window face south, and, directly into the master bedroom of our neighbors.  Privacy and light control are always an issue.  I saw a picture of a quilt in a window on Anna Maria Horner's blog.  Now I am dangerously inspired to start piecing a quilt so I can make a window shade.  For now, this blue print feels happy. 
All I need to do is remove the layer of mess so I can get back to sewing.

I am loving a white background with pops of color. 
 I think I will be back in business by the end of the day.  I am reminded, once again, that I have ludicrous expectations of what can be accomplished within any given amount of time.  But, I've had fun.  I enjoy the organizing and the clean-up just as much as the work I'll do in this space.

How about you?   Do you sew and create without obsessing about organization?  This urge to organize does not necessarily occur in artistic types, does it?  LOL, oh well!  It's how I'm made.

Have a great weekend!
Aim high! 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Button Love and Fun in the Sun

For my winter coat, I bought these buttons from Etsy seller The Trim Buyer:
I highly recommend The Trim Buyer - the buttons are beautiful and seem to be very nice quality and they were only $6 for 5 buttons!  And they arrived so fast. 

While I was supposed to be at home finishing my coat, I was out galavanting around.  I've really gotten into bike-riding lately.  It feels so good on a crisp fall day to get all warmed up on the inside and feel the chill on your skin.  And we have lots of hiking /biking trails in the area.  We rode for an hour from Kensington to Bethesda to eat food at Taste of Bethesda.  There were bands playing and, I had to help out.  What I mean by that is- you know; someone has to get the party started.  Many years ago, I played in bands and I know the band members really want folks to dance and have fun.  So, what with all my Zumba training, you know, I can rise to the challenge.  Oh, I may not have mentioned that I bought the Zumba DVD's and I've twisted Howie's arm into it, and he does the Zumba me sometimes.

After being all helpful to the band and everything, we wandered some more and found out, "Hey Governor O'Malley is here!".   And he has a Secret Service buddy with him - can you pick out the Secret Service guy? :)
 Now, I did get a little worked up.  About 10 years ago, I was working downtown and one of my co-workers had a MAJOR crush on him (he was the mayor of Baltimore at that time).  So, in her honor, I made the fool of myself and posed for a picture with him.  What I did not know was he knew it and he turned around and posed right along with me!
Oh yes, people!  Whoop it up! Of course there were these people standing around talking about public policy and issues and whatnot.  But I did not let that dampen my spirits!!

Then we decided to ride home on real roads with cars and everything because I was feeling confident.  Conveniently, there was a nice bike shop and I bought a helmet.  Woo hoo!  I am a bicyclist now!

Next week is big time fun for me.  I have taken off the whole week to clean out my sewing room, get organized and welcome my Wolf Dress Form into my studio.  The coat is 95% finished so I'll wrap that up, too.  Not sure what my next project will be ....  but I am sure it will be something good!

I hope you are having some fun!
*Happy Sewing*