Friday, July 11, 2014

Sewing Room Tour

Here is my new sewing room!
It is a big one...23 by 19 feet, with TWO large closets!

The sewing room is the large room over the garage, at the end of a hall...the previous owners used it as a media room.  Here is the view from the door:

Now, look to the right...there are a couple of recliners for resting, reading or viewing TV.

Beyond the chairs, my L-shaped sewing desk holds my machines and stuff.
Beyond that, there is a small table holding an iron and some cases.
I didn't clean up the room for these pictures nor did I stage things (those bras behind the serger were already there awaiting repair!), so some things just need to be overlooked! :)

Continuing to move LEFT, you see my long arm sewing machine (for quilting) in front of four windows.  Again, staging would have required that all blinds on those windows be pointed the same way.  Sigh.

There is an ironing board temporarily placed in front of the long arm...I am putting some piecing there as I finish sewing each one.
I guess I should have picked up that plastic bag in the floor, eh?

To the left of the long arm is one of the closets...the larger one.  It was a room...and I moved furniture into it.  I'll show you an inside shot in a minute

You can see my big cutting table in the foreground, covered with my latest project. 
This table divides the room into two for working and the other for not working. :)
Also, there is a chest next to the closet doors.  It is a cheap piece of furniture that I have had since I was a child...purchased at Woolco...and it has had to be glued back together more than once. 
I don't is worth the trouble

See both closets now?  The door to the left one is closed.

Beyond (to the left of) that second closet is my TV (which is across the room from the recliners) and next to it is the bathroom.
I am toying with the idea of swapping the recliners and the TV...flipping that side of the room.

Now that I have turned around, you can see out the door we came in.  
The bathroom on the right is also open to the bedroom...see the door in the hallway?  We use that room as our office.

Oh, and the dress form is not usually in the middle of the room!  I have been working on that dress.

Above is a charity quilt I am making...loaded on the long arm.
It isn't beautiful but I didn't choose the fabrics! ;)
I cut the pieces using the WINDING WAY die and my AccuQuilt GO cutter.  It was the first time to use the GO, plus, I had never made a WINDING WAY pattern before so doing it for charity takes the pressure off!

This is another shot of my sewing desk area.  The long arm is to the left, behind that ironing board covered in strata..this is the beginning of a colorful 'spool' quilt.
Here you can see the entry door...double doors.  That doorway just beyond the doors opens to a 3rd floor attic, and there is another door to the left of that one that leads to a 2nd floor sewing room is on the second floor.
I had to buy a new cutting mat for the table when we moved.  My old one disintegrated when the movers tried to touch it!  It was very old and brittle. 
Inside the larger closet, I installed some shelves over a couple of cabinets.  I have fabric in those bins...threads for the long arm are on the shelves.  On the counter sits a brand new Brother Scan  Cut that is still wrapped in plastic, awaiting my use!  in the floor beyond the green cabinet is an AccuQuilt GO die cutter.
This is the other side of that closet,  These cubbies were stored in the attic at my previous home because the sewing room walls were too short for them.  Here, they can finally be used!  They need painting their former life, they were JEANS display racks at JCPenney.
Eventually, these cubbies will be better organized but for now, my stuff is out of boxes and findable!
This is the inside of the other closet.  It has shelves on the left and back walls, but not the right wall.
This room had carpet when we bought the house, but we had it removed and had wooden flooring installed.  I love the ease of cleaning up a wood floor as opposed to carpet!
The card table was brought in for a project that has yet to even be started but like all horizontal surfaces, it is collecting more than its share of 'stuff'.
Here is the dress I am working on.  See?  The lining at the neckline is free and the pleats are being adjusted to alter the size of the neckline.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this little visit! 
Next time, perhaps I'll make tea!

Testing the upload

Here are a couple of test photos...tiny toads that are everywhere in our new yard! We call them snake bait...because we have also seen two snakes here!

I'm baaaaaaack!

Well, spank me has been a REALLY long time since I posted!
Yep, life gets busy.
We bought a new sewing room (with a house attached) and moved in December, 2013, and it is taking a while to get back into the swing of things.
I am doing some sewing, addition to a bunch of ither things. So far, we have not painted the new house...just moved our stuff in...but I am trying to decide which rooms and what colors to change first.
I'm gonna try to give a little tour of my new sewing room...i say "try" because I am doing this from the Ipad.
See? That is one of the reasons I don't post just takes SO LONG to resize each and every picture! It is far easier to post on Facebook, where the pictures upload so easily and resize automagically! But I will give it a go...!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pants these days

I was asked a question on a chat list regarding the pants pattern I am using these days. As usual, there is no short answer I can give, so I will put a few images here to illustrate the pattern creation.

I made a CROTCH TEMPLATE using Romex cable (insulated wire) and traced it onto paper and measured it, as described in the book FITTING and PATTERN ALTERATION, A Multi-Method Approach to the Art of Style Selection, Fitting, and Alteration (Second Edition) by Liechty, Rasband, and Pottberg-Steineckert.

If you don't have that book, here are a few YouTube videos that show you how to make a template and use it with your pattern.



(sorry...I am having trouble with Blogger...these links SHOULD open in a new window but on my computer, that just isn't happening!)

On that last video, Lorraine Henry talks about how, in RTW, they shorten the crotch length by 1" and add that to the back waist height. WEll, I found that is NOT good for me. That gives me the fit of RTW...pants that pull down in back! So I need to make the crotch match my template...period.


Once I knew the exact shape of my body, I could see why my previously-made pants weren’t ‘just right’. Although the FLAT back crotch shape gave me more back pants width, I could never get the actual SHAPE just right using the settings in PMB. So I finally decided to go back to just altering the pattern before printing it, as I had done back in Version 2!

I will post some pictures to demonstrate the alterations I did to the last pair. I still had to adjust the waist tilt and level after the pattern was printed, but this will give you and idea of what I am doing.

I used the ROUND back crotch but used the FLAT FRONT shape! This more nearly matched the template I had created.

Crotch Cut: Slack Cut
Front Crotch Curve: Flat
Back Crotch Curve: Round
Back Crotch: Wild Cut

Front Dart Length: 3.5
Back Dart Length: 4.75
Front Dart Position: 3
Back Dart Position: 3

As usual, I moved the sideseams forward by 0.75”.

Sideseam Movement: -0.75

Even though I needed a bit more back crotch extension, I used 0 for that setting, because the alteration I was about to do would increase that area. I DID adjust the crotch BREAKS to affect the curve shape.

Front Crotch Extension: 0
Back Crotch Extension: 0
Front Crotch Break: 0.5
Back Crotch Break: 1.5

No ease was added.

Waist Ease: 0
Hip Ease: 0
Crotch Ease: 0

Then I opened the saved pattern in the PATTERN EDITOR and made the necessary alterations to the BACK pattern.

The original pattern, created with the settings I listed above, is in BLUE.

I SELECTED everything between HIP LEVEL and KNEE LEVEL (PINK) and shifted it medially (toward the inseam) by 0.75".

Next, I selected the crotch curve and moved it downward by 0.375".

Well, duh...the instructions are written with the pictures...I really don't need to type it again!

Here you can see the BEFORE and AFTER patterns superimposed.

This alteration eliminates the poufiness on the sideseam at hip level that my straight body doesn't fill.

It adds width across the pants back at just the right level for my bum...and creates the back crotch shape that I couldn't seem to create by using the FLAT back crotch shape combined with the various tools provided within the program (PMB).

When I FLIP the original FRONT pattern, which was NOT altered, and superimpose it on this new, altered BACK pattern, you can see that the sideseam shapes are much more similar than the original patterns. Eliminating that poufiness at the side hip makes the seams more similar.

So, in a nutshell, I am back to altering the pattern instead of using the FLAT back crotch shape combined with various settings to try to make it conform to my shape. But the result was better. And the alteration was not difficult or time consuming!

Monday, October 14, 2013

I'm so glad I sew...

Today I did a bit of clothing shopping. Originally, my plan was to go to my regular sewing group which meets on Mondays, but my morning's to-do list quickly ate up my day!  When the afternoon errands put me in the vicinity of Coldwater Creek, I got sucked in.

First I make the rounds in the store, pulling things that might work and letting the ladies start a dressing room for me (they will take my choices from my arms and put them into the dressing room to await my arrival).  Once I am sure I have seen all there is to see, it is time for the try-ons.

As is usually the case, I am between sizes on most of the tops I chose.  The ladies who work there try their best to get me to go down a size...and I will humor them and try on the smaller sizes they bring...but in general, I buy the larger size.  I can sew.  I can shorten tops that are too long.  I can raise the armholes as I take in the side seams when needed.  Because almost invariably, those smaller sized garments are too tight.  Not sausage casing, but tighter than I am comfortable wearing.  I ended up with one Medium, 2 X-Larges, and the rest were Larges...and if they had had the XL tops in a Large, I would have gotten the smaller size.  But they didn't.  And I can sew.

The ladies there think I buy my clothes too big.  But I know how to sew.  I can make those clothes fit better than they did in that dressing room.  And while I am not fond of alterations, I can make these changes quicker than I could make the tops from scratch.

Plus, everything was on sale.  Big time.  Buying the fabric to make these tops would have cost more than the tops did.  Assuming I could even find these nice fabrics...

Anyway, I have a bit of sewing to do to make these tops fit me.  But I didn't just walk away with nothing, nor did I end up with clothes that are too tight.  A win.  :)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Grandma's Quilt

If you wait until you are finally READY, you will be waiting all your life...

Two years ago, I got a long arm quilting machine and A-1. A few years prior, I had purchased a Handi-Quilter Frame to use with a domestic machine and had made several quilts using that, but I was limited in the size of the quilt designs that were possible...I needed a longer throat on the machine to do larger, more sweeping designs. So, my dear husband agreed to the purchase of the larger machine.

My husband liked the idea of quilting for other people (and earning money!) but I was hesitant...firstly, I didn't have the skills yet. I would wait until I was ready. And secondly, I was NOT going to 'market' myself...if anyone ASKED me to quilt for them, I would do it, but I wasn't comfortable putting myself out there. But more importantly, I really just wanted the machine to enable me to complete the art quilts which I loved making.

I knew I would gain skills as I quilted each quilt, but as it turns out, I cannot make quilts fast enough to get as much quilting practice as I wanted! I did bring home a 'hospice' quilt from the local guild to quilt and I did an all-over design on it. But I had not done any quilts that had definite 'blocks' and sashing and borders and stuff. No traditional quilts.

Enter Grandma's quilt.

This was a flimsy top that was hand-pieced by Grandma Grace, my husband's now-deceased maternal grandmother. His sister, Julie, had it and was more than willing to let me take it home to quilt it. Grandma had used whatever fabrics were available to her in her small town...perhaps from Sears or Wal-Mart. She used muslin for the background...the kind with tiny dark bits of the cotton plant stuck in the weave...and pieced and appliqued a two-fabric Dresden plate design onto the muslin. She used a solid avocado green that is surely a poly-cotton blend, as well as a green floral print, which seems to be a cotton fabric. She also sewed a strip of the solid green to one side of each block before piecing them all together, so there is a strip of green between rows of the plates.

Well, her seam allowances varied, as did the block sizes and the widths of the solid strips. The outer edge of the quilt top was not even...some blocks jutted out more than others. Plus, Julie had washed this flimsy after bringing it home. That meant that the muslin had shrunk, but we all know that poly-cotton doesn't shrink, so the plates were a bit 'proud' of the muslin...they were blousy.

The raw edges of the poly-cotton fabric were resistant to staying turned under and wanted to 'peak out' between the hand stitches every here and there. Grandma's stitches were large, too...I wondered what kind of thread was used and how strong it was? I felt like I needed to 'nail down' every seam with my quilting!

Does it sound like I am making excuses? grin.

I have had this quilt top in my possession for nearly two years...I brought it home in the fall of 2011. I decided it was TIME to get this one done.

The quilt top came to me with several yards of the green poly-cotton, which was (we think) intended to be used as the backing for the quilt. Too bad there wasn't quite enough.

After much ironing to force the seam allowances to behave (where possible, sometimes they were sewn down in the wrong direction so could not be forced!), I finally added borders around all edges of the quilt top (borders that I cut from the green fabric) then loaded it on the frame and set to work. I bought some natural colored cotton sateen to use as the backing...120 inches wide, 320 thread count. Nicer than anything used on the top!

After basting the edges and stitching in the ditches, I came up with a design for the 'plates' and began there, although I still didn't yet see the big picture in my head. As I stitched the plates, I began to think of them as lily pads...YES! I decided to do 'frog eggs' in the long sashing strips...coupled with a wavy stitching pattern, I could perhaps disguise the mismatched widths and crooked stripes.

I used chalk to mark the quilt, giving me guidelines so I could keep all the swirls going in the same direction, as well as create' targets' for the scalloped outline that would jump on and off the edge of the, lily pads.

I began to think of this quilt as a pond...after all, it had lily pads and frog eggs!  I felt like the background stitching would need to be done in blue thread and perhaps done in a style that would give the impression of water.   Ideas were percolating...

But just before I started the blue stitching, I decided...what if...what if I put a few water lilies in there? I could do some triangular feathers at the block intersections that would a) help nail down those seams and b) break up the background stitching. So I drew out a design and added the feathered lilies...I liked the way they looked!

Too bad I hadn't thought of this design BEFORE I stitched the stripes with the wavy lines and frog eggs...I could have lessened the thread build-up that occurred. Oh well! That is why it is good to have experience...

Next, it was time to tackle the borders. I wanted to do a feather border on this one, even though it probably wasn't the BEST design for this particular quilt. But I needed the practice at doing feathers, so feathers it is!

There weren't many feathers, and by the time I felt halfway competent, I was finished.  sigh.

I did the top border and TRIED to do the side borders as I rolled each section, but didn't like the thread build-up that resulted with that method.  So I skipped the sides, did the bottom, then moved on to the blue background quilting.  Once that was finished, I took the quilt off the frame and turned it 90 degrees then reloaded it to stitch the side borders.  It made it SOOOO much easier and they looked better, too.

Once I started doing the blue background stitching, I was again reminded of my inexperience! There were areas of ballooning fabric between a few of the, lily pads.  Because the blocks were stitched together willy-nilly, the excess fabric had to be dealt with somehow!

I tried stitching closely, but that still resulting in some pleating and puckering.

So I took a needle and thread and (by hand) sewed double-ended darts at a few of the seams to tuck out the excess muslin before quilting those areas. That worked!

I started out using a darker thread to sew these temporary 'darts' then removed the thread after quilting, but it didn't take long before I realized...use matching thread and you can leave it in!  duh...

Once the quilting was finished, I cut some bias strips from the remaining green fabric and joined them together to create the binding.  After pressing it in half, I loosely wound it around an empty thread cone and put that cone on a thread holder next to my machine.  This made it so much easier to control the binding as I applied it the around the edges of the quilt.

Now all that is left to do is sew the binding down by hand on the backside...I will let Julie do that! I will take this quilt to her this weekend...I wonder if she even remembers I have it!

The blue thread I chose was very faint...not the bright teal I had originally envisioned!
Probably a better choice...

This binding on the edge looks wide, but has not been wrapped to the back yet.  It will finish much narrower...

Despite my wavy lines and frog eggs, the sashing strips ARE still crooked. 
No miracles were performed in the making of this quilt! ;)

Using colored threads in the bobbin, too, makes the back of the quilt kind of interesting.  The colors are subtle and the stitching really shows up.

 Eventually, the green binding will show on the back edges.

And, as a side note...I now have, in my possession, my FIRST CUSTOMER QUILT!
That's right...I will be quilting for someone else...on a quilt that I didn't make...for money!

I am ready.

While my skills have improved, there is still a lot of improvement needed (duh!) but the only way to get better is to DO IT! This customer knows my work and is pleased with what she has seen me do...she is delighted that I agreed to quilt for her!
And you know that makes me feel good...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Aqua Fitted Princess and Kimono

Back in April, right after the wedding, I worked a bit on fitting a knit top.  Although it wasn't perfect, the improved fit of the MOG dress had me raring to go, anxious to see if I could improve the fit of the knit garments too.

Ok, that was PART of the inspiration, but there was more.  I had fabric that was tempting me.

Last Fall, when shopping for the MOG dress, I stumbled onto some fabric at THE FABRIC SOURCE in Jackson, TN.  It was a floral printed stretch tulle.  Precut into approximately 2yd lengths, I bought 2 of them, for $5 each.  They provided instructions for a no-sew swimsuit just cut it into a big oval and cut out armholes. 

Well, also on that same trip, we stopped and did a bit of shopping at FELICIA BELLA BOUTIQUE, also in Jackson.  I had tried on a long-sleeved pullover made guessed it!...printed stretch tulle!  I didn't buy it because it was nearly $60!  But I studied it as closely as I could in this not-so-private dressing room.  I even did a bit of measuring!  It seemed to be almost a long tube with two holes in the for the body and one for the head. 

Inspired by the memory of that top, and wanting to use this fabric to get it out of my way,, I decided to start cutting.  I layed out the fabric on my table and cut what I hoped would be similar to the shape I had tried on (months ago!). 

Well, it wasn't good.  So I went to the computer and opened my PMB software!  I drafted a KIMONO pullover, then compared the patterns on screen.

As you can see, there wasn't much difference between the front and back patterns. 
Here, the front is RED.
 I decided that I would just use the BACK PATTERN...but I still didn't want to have to print it, because, after all, this was simple, right?

So I measured it!  Then I could print this diagram on one piece of paper, take it to the fabric and measure and cut.  It seemed like a good plan.
There was ONE PLACE I was having a hard time just winging it...and that was the sideseam/underarm area.  So I printed ONLY that area and placed it where the measurements dictated:

Above is the sideseam...the right edge of this paper is the cutting line.
Once I began actually plotting out my cuts, I made another change.  I LOWERED the angle of the arm by 3 inches....shown below by the dark blue line.
But after sewing this (yet again), I still wasn't happy with the way the sleeves draped.  I knew this was gonna be loose and drapey, but I didn't want it twisting!  And yes, the sleeves seemed kinda twisty.  So I ripped and reshaped the FRONT sleeve to lower the over-sleeve seam by 2" at wrist AND, I shorted that seam by 2" also.  This allowed me to ease the back seam to the front, creating fullness in back and eliminating the twisting.  Good enough! 


I hemmed the neck and lower edge, as well as the sleeves, with the coverstitch machine, turning a small hem to the backside.

Now it was time to make something to wear UNDER this!  I drafted a fairly closely fitted Princess seamed tank and cut it from some cotton interlock.  Oh dear.

Remember?  Back in the post about the ZERO EASE TORSO BLOCK, I discussed the armhole shape and how I was lowering the notch on the BACK armhole so it would coincide with my body's ah measurement...but I was NOT doing it on the front armhole because it just looked 'too scooped'.  Well, after sewing the MOG dress and realizing that the armholes were still not perfect, I decided to give it a try.  I used the AH SHAPE TOOL to lower the front notch until the distance from shoulder to notch matched the distance on my body from shoulder to the V-crease where arm meets body...look back at the HELPING MEASUREMENTS if you need further explanation.

Here is the pattern I came up with.

You can (hopefully) see how very 'J' shaped that front armhole is!  Pattern on the left, FYI.

As I said--Oh dear.

Or, rather--

OH.MAH.GAH. BECKY, Look at that armhole!

The front armhole was WAY too scooped...making this top potentially a wadder. 

The shoulder angle seemed ok, though.
Overall, it wasn't totally unfortunate.

I was SHOCKED by the back:  I think this is the first time ever that the back neck has actually come up to the bone where the back neck is supposed to come to!  I put in a pin to show where I will lower the neck to.

I liked this style and this fabric, though, knew I had to find a way to salvage this top.
Somehow I got it into my mind that I should NOT have used the E cup to draft with after all...and that I needed to shorten the whole upper front, which I could do by ripping the shoulders and cutting off the front shoulder before resewing I did.***

***later evaluation of the fit proved the front was now a tiny bit too short...that front length was needed and should NOT have been whacked off!  It was those goofy armholes making me crazy.  

Anyway, I decided that I could create some facing-like a yoke, perhaps...that could be sewn on to fill in the missing area of the F-armhole.  So I went back to the computer/drafter.

Since I had felt the need to shorten the upper front, the obvious conclusion (to me, that day) was that I had used a bust cup size that was too large (E) and should reduce it.  So I did.
***another spoiler alert!  Bad idea...but I got away with it on this top, this time.

Here you can see the NEW FRONT PATTERN (in RED) superimposed on the old pattern.  The new front is shorter at the shoulder.  The new pattern has a smaller bust dart (so the angle of the upper front is different) and the new armhole is both higher and less scooped (The back armhole is higher on the new pattern, too, but I didn't show that).
I aligned the sides to the center pieces and created 'yokes' that could be cut from the remnants I had left.
 But I needed to know WHERE to trim off the existing garment so I could sew on those yokes!  So I created and printed little 'yokes'  from the original pattern, too, and used them like templates to show me where to cut.  The upper pieces in this image are the 'cutting patterns' and the lower pieces are the new yokes to be sewn on.  you can see that, on the FRONT pattern, there will not be much cut off in the 'scooped' area!   But there WILL be quite a bit added back on, via the yoke, in that area.

And it worked!  It actually looked pretty a design element!  I had top-stitched the seams with the cover-stitch machine, so I top-stitched the new yoke seams, too.

Here is what it looked like right after sewing:


 And back--

As you can see, there is some fullness (rippling) in the back armhole that I didn't notice at the time.  I used clear elastic to stabilize the neck and armhole edges when hemming.  But it wasn't until earlier LAST WEEK that I realized WHY this might be happening. 

I was discussing a program issue with Tech Support Karen...the Dart Override tool isn't working with my numbers...and she asked my why I was enlarging the armhole by raising the shoulder with the SHOULDER HEIGHT TOOL but then trying to shorten the Front Armhole with the Dart Override.

Well, the SHOULDER HEIGHT TOOL affects both front and back patterns, but the DART OVERRIDE tool only affects the FRONT armhole (or at least, that is how it is supposed to work) by putting some of the bust dart into the armhole OR by stealing some of the front armhole to enlarge the bust dart (this is what I was trying to do).

So, even though they do two different things, it did get me thinking about the shoulder height setting and 'what if'...

Up to this point, I have been operating on the assumption that the pattern's shoulder angle was correct for me (and my square shoulders) when I raised that setting 0.5". 

But further reflection has me thinking that:
  • a) lowering the shoulder tip by 0.5" might eliminate that back ah rippling, and
  • b) I should have just lowered the F-shoulder tip in front instead of whacking off the whole front shoulder!  This was kind of a light-bulb moment.
So, for the NEXT ONE......I will NOT raise the shoulder height.  We will see how that does!
And I will go back to the E cup, which is what I should be using.  But I will NOT scoop those front armholes to force the measurements to match my body's measurements!  obviously, the front notch is NOT supposed to be an anatomical location!
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