Monday, April 23, 2012

initial impressions - gravity feed iron

First, a little background:
Rowenta DG-580 Steam Generator
March 28, 2007 - March 16, 2012
Rest in Peace
When I birthday-gifted this Rowenta to myself, I thought it would last a good long time.  Little did I know that its reputation wasn't the best and some folks got only two-three years of use.  Mine operated well for almost five years.

This object, some sort of tool located from within the garage by my husband,
served as the water tank knob after the original broke . 
The situation deteriorated.  Steam is not supposed to come out of the iron like that.   
I loved that iron!  It was not perfect - far from it.  It loved to spit and hiss, but I just held it vertically and shot steam until the hose cleared, and then it worked fine.  That iron would have made a great weapon.

At first I tried to get by with something less expensive.  I had used cheap irons before, with decent results, but the leaking was unacceptable.  I don't know - maybe it was defective, so I returned it.
I am not mentioning any names, but I did not like this iron.
Then came the big debate - what to buy?  Good steam generators are so expensive.  And how long would it last?

You already know the answer - I went with a gravity feed iron.  Based on user reviews, this is the Cadillac of irons, the Naomoto HYS-58.  I got mine from Cleaners Supply which has a great price, a fair amount of information on their website and nice people who answer the phone.

This angle shows how the water supply hose and the cord are joined with little plastic rings.
Nice cutting board, too, eh?  My husband gave me that when we were dating.  Little did he know how it I would use it.
This is pressing table (which my husband built for me right after we got married - he was catching on.)
What do I think of this iron?  I should be loving it.  But truth be told, the iron and I are getting off to a slow start together.  I am still getting used to it.  It's heavy.  The cord and hose combination felt very awkward at first, but I am used to that now; I barely notice it, so that is fine.  One concern I have is that it makes the room very warm.  I suppose the steam generator was insulated and that's why I never noticed much heat from it.

The pointy tip is great and I'd hate to go back to a rounded tip.  Ironing shirts is a breeze and the results are beautiful. And it is fast!  It heats up in just a few minutes (the steam generator took 10 minutes) and there is no need to iron back and forth, because wrinkles disappear on the first pass.

Assembly was simple, but I admit I didn't get it right on the first try.  Installing the hook in the ceiling was very easy.  I used a plant hook with a toggle bolt.  If I had it to do again, I'd buy a lighter iron.  This one is over 5 pounds, and it just feels heavy.   It still seems odd to set it right down on a thin rubber mat, too.  I am not sure the wood cutting board it the right thing, either, so let me know if you think I should try something else.

I guess it's just hard to say goodbye to a good friend like the Rowenta!

In sewing-related news, I turned a t-shirt into a tank top:
This was a gift from my husband who has me completely figured out now.
It was too small as a t-shirt, so I chopped off the sleeves and finished the edges with clear elastic tape and the overlock stitch on my sewing machine.
This will be a great top to wear to Zumba!
Happy sewing!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

a fluttery cover-up for summer

You may have noticed I seldom sew a muslin mockup.  Instead, I rely on the pattern adjustments made during the tissue-fitting stage and plow ahead.  I cut enough pieces to get started, and start sewing.  I consider the first garment a test and make adjustments to subsequent versions.
detail of French seam on sleeve
I tell you this, to explain how and why I got derailed from the original design of this BWOF 05-2008-128 overshirt.  
{*cough* ... sewing a muslin 
would have taught me 
just as much as I learned
 from this garment, 
but let's carry on, 
shall we?}

Working backwards - let's talk about the sleeves.  In place of the original design, I substituted a long straight sleeve that can be rolled up, so I sewed a French seam.  I want it to look nice with rolled up sleeves.

The fabric is so lightweight and sheer that the rolled sleeves stay in place without any little straps and buttons.
I used my basic (and much simpler sleeve) instead of altering the sleeve on this pattern. That's because this pattern turned out to be a one-time-event.   I needed to finish it, and move on.
Too bad I didn't use French seams throughout the whole garment.
Can you see the serged edge through the front of the fabric?
That's why I didn't do any top-stitching on the sleeveheads.
It would have only emphasized the serged finish.
 (I had to doctor the color on this photo to capture the effect).   
I am a little disappointed that I don't have this pattern worked out for repeat use, because it is so darn cute:
Burda World of Fashion 05-2008-128
But I do have a wearable garment, so it's not a total loss.

Now - to address the whole muslin concept - if I had sewn a muslin mockup, I could have worked through the issues and solved each one.  I could have gotten this pattern to work.  But the main difficulty was the shaping in the bust area.  I was able to fiddle with it and make it work, but I didn't really understand what I did enough to transfer it back to the paper pattern.  So that's that.

Next up: PUNT!
There's not much time left to finish my SWAP so I procured yards and yards of solid black and solid white knit fabrics.  I'll be churning out some TNT patterns in the time remaining.

And we all know it, right? - those basic garments will get worn to death.  But hey, then I can get back to sewing the fun colorful stuff, knowing I have plenty of basics in the bag.

You can never have too many basics.
I like to get dressed fast in the mornings.

More to come!!

Friday, April 13, 2012

overshirt for summer

I need to share this with you:


Here is what I am sewing now- an overshirt:

burda world of fashion 05-2008-128

too big.
I added a princess seam in the back,
to mimic the princess seam in the front,
and I reduced the size of the armscye.
you are looking at a very sloped shoulder seam.

I'll probably be back soon to show you the final garment.  Oh, how I love the thought of adding this to my arsenal of patterns.  Why have I waited so long?  I really want to wear this soon!

The pattern is from the plus size range (size 44).  I have sewn a size 44 before (non-plus-size).  I expected them to be the same draft, but now I wonder - have you sewn from both and did you find them similar or the same?

It's such a cute pattern:

Thank you Chuck Close, for telling your story.  You make the world a bigger and better place.

And readers, have a great weekend!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

overshirts and capris

Inspiration sprouted from the fertile soil of frustration. 
[That sentence made me feel pretty poetic - but insincere, because I was not really all that frustrated.]
{but on a blog, anything goes, right?}
Th outfit on the left is what I want to wear this summer,
no offense to Princess Caroline. (she looks very nice, too).
To finish off my SWAP, I had been considering capri pants sewn from colorful prints in my stash, but all of them were just a little too lightweight or sheer for the task.  I had not been thinking about overshirts.  The image above, found in the newspaper this morning, caught my eye.  Doesn't a sheer overshirt look great over the white column? White capris, white tank tops and fabulous wedge sandals look like a super plan for my summer wardrobe.

Surely I will find a great pattern for an overshirt in this treasure trove of patterns.

With newfound fitting success under my belt (the bodice alterations applied to the Style Arc patterns) I feel a little more confident choosing a pattern from my collection of European pattern magazines.   Besides, I need patterns NOW and cannot be held up by the whole it-takes-time-for-patterns-to-arrive-from-Australia situation.

One of the main things I have learned from SWAP 2012 is the importance of embracing a color palette.  I embrace black and white.  These colors make me feel comfortable.  Brights make me feel good, and prints are good in small doses.  The next time I read "all those black dresses are so boring!" I will remember that for me, black is awesome and I love it.  

That's all for now, folks!

Friday, April 6, 2012

SWAP countdown

I intend to complete the eleven garments that qualify for the SWAP contest on Stitchers Guild.  You may recall the rules:
Choose any seven garments from the list.  From those seven, choose four to make twice for a total of 11 garments that will work together:

Button-up Shirt with collar: previously sewn white shirt (1)
Blouse [has a closure, collar optional]
T-Shirt [knit topAlice tops, Cowl tops (2)
Trousers: Linda Pants (2)
Shorts or Capri Pants
Skirt: Susan skirt (1)
Jacket: Abby cardi (2)
Overcoat or Raincoat
Bathing Suit and Coverup

8 down and 3 to go, as of April 6:

Photos on Flickr: Abby cardigan
Thinking about.....
  • Need to add 2 more unique items, what should I sew?
    1. a little black dress in lightweight cotton voile - shirtwaist style inspired by Sunni 
    2. how about some shorts or capris for summer- it would be fast and easy to sew 2 pairs.
    3. I want to sew Style Arc's new Robin Top as soon as it arrives - in white cotton pique
    4. jeans
  • I could sew a 2nd skirt (in black, of course)
    • Can add one more item that was sewn prior to January 1. 
    • There are 4 more weekends in April.   
    • I can do it.

    pattern alterations on the front - knit tops

    When I sewed the Pleated Pia knit top, I wanted to raise the neckline.  Here is how I did it:

    Draw a vertical line at center front and a horizontal line at the base of the armscye.
    Slice and move the neckline detail, using tape to attach extra paper to the pattern,
    The lines provide guidance to keep pieces aligned.
    Smooth out the new neckline - mark new stitching line and new cutting line.

    Want more? I've had a few requests to post more fitting details, so here is how I approach fitting the front of the bodice.   I narrowed the width of the upper bodice, lowered the bust point, and did a slight full bust adjustment (FBA).

    By the way, before tackling the front alterations, I fitted the back (here) on the cardigan.  I don't reinvent the wheel every time I sew a new pattern.   I refer to my tried and true (TNT) patterns and leverage previous work whenever I can.    

    Altering the front
    Evaluate: take measurements of the pattern and take measurements of my body.
    Deciding what to measure is driven by the design.  When faced with a poor fit, it's good to think in terms of all these different measurements to find the variances and get into some specific problem-solving.

    The pattern measurements that matter to me (size Aussie 12) are:
    1. Base of armscye, from one side seam to the other is 21"(53cm)
    2. Middle of armscye, from edge of sleeve, is 15"(38cm)
    3. Across shoulders, from sleeve cap to sleeve cap, is 15.5" (39cm)
    My body measurements are different, as follows:
    1. Base of armscye is narrower by 2.5" (6.4cm)
    2. Middle of armscye is narrower by 2.5" (6.4cm)
    3. Across shoulders is about the same.
    On the left is what the pattern - on the right is my body.
    The red lines indicate new armscye shape.

    This analysis reveals that my shoulders are not too narrow.   It is the chest (measurements 1. and 2.) that are narrower than the pattern.  In addition, the bust point on the pattern needs to be lowered.

    Here are the pattern adjustments to Style Arc's Alice top I sewed recently:

     Step 1. Draw lines to identify center front and base of armscye.

    Step 2. Narrow the chest.  Cut along the horizontal line and cut the center front line above that.
    Overlap the center front to reduce width by 2.5" or 6.4cm.
    This also has the effect of narrowing the neckline and raising the neckline.
    Furthermore, the armscye is enlarged by performing this adjustment,
    and that triggers the need for an adjustment to the sleeve.
    Note that the lengths of the shoulder seams remain the same.
    Step 3. Add length below the base of the armscye.
    This lowers the bust point.   Normally, I'll also make a full bust adjustment, but
    adding to the side seams is good enough in this design.

    I get a little faster each time.  I think I understand the characteristics of my body now.  I am super happy to wear clothes that fit.  Overall, yes, it is worth the trouble.  In my world, comfort and vanity go hand in hand.

    The good news is that sewing the top is faster than making the pattern alterations, and now I have a couple new TNT knit top patterns.
    What am I doing on the computer?  I need to go and sew more of these tops!  I have a SWAP to finish!

    How about you?  Do you make more alterations?
    Fewer alterations?
    And how do you feel about it?
    Are you nervous about my SWAP?

    *** update ....

    Monday, April 2, 2012

    the rare tunic

    Thank you for all the nice comments lately on my latest tops and my pattern alteration posts.  I am so glad you read them, and it certainly helps me to share my thought process and methods.

    I don't sew tunics often, because the length feels awkward to me.  It seemed a good idea to try again; maybe I will like a tunic if I give it another try. Here is my version of the Style Arc Pleated Pia Top:

    I raised the neckline to make it peek-proof.
    I might make it even longer next time.  After I've worn this
    for a while, I'll know whether there are more tunics in my future.

    Guess I  could add a center back seam
    so I can do a sway back adjustment (to reduce
    the folds at waistline).   On the other hand,
    maybe good enough is good enough.

    As I altered the pattern, I did not take a lot of photos because I had a mild cold & lacked the energy for a full-blown alteration tutorial.  I'll do it on another top soon.  The fabric is a rayon knit jersey.  I bought this piece at Mood Fabrics in NYC.  It tested my patience (I find the slippery flimsiness a challenge) but it is a joy to wear.

    *** oh!  The doorbell just rang!  My new gravity feed iron is here!!  I have been using the cheapest iron I could find (only $7.99!)  after my steam generator iron recently died.  ***

    Today is my favorite type of vacation day.  I accrue enough vacation days that I can take the occasional off for errands and chores.  It is a luxury to play housewife for the day.

    Hope your day has a touch of luxury, too.

    Sunday, April 1, 2012

    Robin Top

    I like knowing my life is completely and totally unique.  Lots of people went out to enjoy a spring day today.  Around the world, there must have been many who stopped at a cafe for brunch.  Some looked at email on their smart-phones while waiting for the waiter to bring the bill.   I was just one of many, many people enjoying my Sunday, in a very predictable and universally enjoyable way.

    And then the unexpected happened.

    How many people viewed the Style Arc Newsletter, only to see that a pattern company on the other side of the world had designed and named a pattern for them?  Can you squeal like an excited little cute baby pig, because I know I can!

    And how did this happen, you may wonder?  Well, it was a very simple chain of events.  I found myself hoping that Style Arc would eventually design a simple top with short sleeves.  In fact, I had something very specific in mind, based on a top I'd tried on in a shop.  Clearly, it does not fit, but that is why I sew.

    The idea came to me suddenly, and without delay, I sent these photos to Chloe & team and I (politely) asked if they might design a top like this.

    Boom!  Ka-boom!  Sha-BAM!

    I am sure you share my glee, and for that I am so grateful.  It will be very difficult for me to explain this to PIRLWHDS (people in real life who don't sew) but, I know, I can count on you.  You get it.  This is Fun City.

    In other news, I've sewn a little, but have no photos.  I've been sick with a cold and putt-putting through the day-to-day mandatory life activities.    My energy should be picking up in days to come and I'll be back with more ...

    Happy Sewing!