Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hashtag Sewing

Its a strange thing that's happened recently. See, once upon a time I said I had no interest in Twitter. Even the lovely Neil Gaiman fans couldn't entice me to be active on it and then along came my sew-sistas (I just made that up). While blogging is wonderful for the sharing of more complex ideas sometimes I just want to shout "LOOK AT THIS AWESOME DEAL I GOT ON FABRIC!".  The majority of the people in my life pat me on the head and say "That's nice dear".

You know what I'm talking about, right? We're a special breed of enthusiasts that most people just don't "get", even some of the others in the maker community, I'm betting. I love that technology allows like-minded people to find their own across the globe, it really is an amazing thing.

So thanks to twitter I now have coat sewing buddies and a #sewingdare to finally make my Lady Grey coat that I wanted to make almost two years ago. It probably won't be finished until next winter, but I'm OK with that. I will have a lovely new coat to help make the darker days of winter seem better. The idea this year is to get faster at sewing the things I know how to make and overcoming the fear of mistakes on new skills. I have a lot of holes in my wardrobe to fill, too. Work basics, mostly. And jeans.

In other news I decided that I do not have the time to teach class this year. I'm finally on a day schedule and realizing just how much I miss my family. I'm also taking care of some health issues I've been trying to ignore for a while. What I'm trying to say is that, instead of resolutions, this year is going to be about getting myself back in balance.

And on that note, I leave you with one of the more beautiful videos I've seen in a while:

Monday, January 21, 2013

Community Supported Agriculture

This post is not really about sewing, so you can skip this if that's really all you're here for.  However, if you've been around before you know I go on tangents, so there's that.

Chickens let loose on fallow field, those are onions. Mmmm.

This post is about Community Supported Agriculture or CSA's, and I am a member of one. Its a family run farm named "Spreading Oaks" about 20 miles from my house, even further out of the city (Atlanta) than myself. I first met them at one of the local farmers' markets and they won my loyalty with their personable demeanor. The wife is also a science teacher, so she had my heart there too. They sell produce, free range eggs, and grass fed beef, all of which I have photographic evidence of here.


  They had their first annual "meet and greet" on the farm this past Saturday. They talked about what will be grown this year, which is exciting, because they are adding more herbs and fruits.  I wish I had brought my DSLR with me because the property is just beautiful.  I did get permission to come back in the spring when things are starting to grow and bloom, and I'm looking forward to bringing you photos of that venture. One of the things our meet and greet  did remind me of is that farming is hard work. It takes a special sort of dedication to coax things to grow out of the ground, to keep back pests, and hope the weather cooperates.  Part of being a member is sharing in that risk, too. Of course there's the ethical and environmental benefits of being a member too, which I admit is part of the appeal.

The horse and miniature donkey. They were a hit with the kids. The horse wasn't so happy with Simon after he tried to feed him onions. *giggle*

Much like those of us that sew, its another way of being subversive. I think it takes a while for ideas to sink into a society, ideas of fairness, equality, and environmentalism. I've gone the activist knocking-on-doors route and while it was OK for a short period of time its exhausting, and often annoying to other people. Perhaps this is why I've never liked the idea of prosthelytizing. Instead, I find I'd rather take the way of being an ordinary person living by example. We don't have to change everything at once, but take small steps toward the path of balance. By doing something beneficial as if its completely ordinary the idea spreads. I'm sure this applies to many things.

Next post will be about my current project, honest.  If you made it this far thanks for reading my stream of thought.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Power of Image

This talk by Cameron Russell has been making the rounds in my social media feed.  I've watched it numerous times and each time I think "This is so true".  She talks about how her life is made easier because she won a genetic lottery that plays into a legacy of "what is considered beautiful". It has very little to do with who she is,but how she looks. She expresses that she considers this unfair to many and that she is ultimately very insecure about how she looks.

I found her honesty to be not only refreshing, but it reaffirmed something I have already encountered my entire life.  Many women that fit into the model of current beauty standards are very insecure. In a way, I think this is part of that same legacy of the industry of beauty and fashion; women who are insecure in themselves are more likely to spend money on trying to make themselves "better".  Which is where I bring this back to sewing.

If you think of it in light of current social mores, sewing our own clothes is subversive. We take back  control of our own bodies by making things that fit us and fit our lifestyle. Or our fantasy world, which is the case for those of us that love cosplay and dress up.  But I digress.

When people say its not really cheaper to sew your own clothes I explain that its not exactly about the cost. I mean, it is, when you have expensive taste, but its when you think about how clothes fit and our relationship to our bodies, and in turn, ourselves, that the benefits really come to light. I believe this is why so many sewists will say "Ever since I started making my own clothes I find I'm more confident in my life and happier with my body".  We're breaking the cycle of a negative feedback loop that is advertisement, and that is a good thing.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Pinning Inspiration

The whole reason my thought train is going down this path is because of Sarai's post about the insidious nature of "stuff" on Pinterest. And I totally get what she is saying, the wanting of pretty things can get under your skin.  Seeing all the beautifully decorated houses can make you feel like the worst house cleaner in the world (at least it does me, but a friend who cleans for a living assures me its not as bad as I think it is).

But Pinterest can be a pretty useful tool for inspiration. A while back I said that my moodboard was a song. A song called "The Land of Green Ginger".  And taking a non-literal route for clothing inspiration I've created this mood board and here are some of my favorite images from it. Some of them even inspired specific outfits out of my stash. I'll post more of those as the month progresses.  OH, and one last thing.  I finally start a day shift next week for the first time since Mom passed away. 

Color in the winter, muted pastels against the snow is what this makes me think of.

Source: via Lady on Pinterest

Otherworldly structure imposed on nature.

Source: via Lady on Pinterest

Nature has beautiful brown earth tones, makes me think of trousers.

Source: via Lady on Pinterest

Honestly, this one just speaks for itself.

Source: via Lady on Pinterest

Turquoise. That's all.

Pink and black, fast becoming one of my favorite combinations.

Source: via Lady on Pinterest

Gates. Man-made structures surrounded by the soon-to-take-over greenery of a garden, like barely contained chaos.

Wow, I had no idea that was going to be so hard to decide on. I challenge y'all to make a mood board with non-literal inspiration and share it in the comments below, or on your blog.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Philosophical Fabric Stash Question

If you are an avid sewist of any sort, you probably have a stash of fabric.  I've been thinking about mine, particularly since I've been completely unable to make any resolutions about not buying fabric and sticking to them. The only thing I can say is I'm trying to buy with purpose. So far its working... kinda.

In any case, I'm working on a cataloging project here soon and some of the fabric I've had for years. How long does a piece of fabric have to be in one's stash before the monetary value doesn't even count toward "price of garment made"? Its easy when someone gives it to you, or you inherit it, like I have, from relatives. Fabric cost is zero, unless you count space.

So, that's it really, after what time period do you consider the price of the fabric originally no longer factors into the "cost" of your garment?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Candy Plaid Dress

The description on Fabric Mart's site used words like "blueberry" and "strawberry" to describe this plaid. Its colorful, its lovely, its almost impossible to be sad while wearing it. I've pretty much written everything I can about this dress, so here's photos!

Some stats:
Time to make: Oh, given fitting about 40 hours, but a second one with no pattern matching would probably take about 10 or so.
Cost: The fabric and lining together set me back about 24 dollars.  For a silk dupioni fashion fabric and rayon lining. Notions were from my stash.
Make Again? Yes!

Check out that pattern matching.  I totally rule!

What's that, its not lined up on the side skirt but still looks right? How does that even happen?

This dress would totally rock a crinoline, too, but since its for work, that'd be kinda obnoxious.

Check out my matching belt! I used fabric cut on the bias with Sunni's Stella Kit. These are totally awesome, go buy some!

I decided not to do a hidden zipper. This fabric is so loud, how'd you notice anyway? Also, I'm proud of my belt loops.

And with a twirl and clicking of heals I say have a good day! I hope this cheers you as much as it did me.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Simply Complex - A Process Post

As I was working on this obnoxious plaid confection, I applied all of the knowledge of bodice fitting I've gained so far. It was hard because its just me, and trying to explain how to properly pin out wrinkles, place darts, and so on and so forth, to either of the men living in my house is, well, akin to explaining where the g-spot is.  I used a combination of full length mirror and camera with tripod. But before that I did a great deal of measuring of the flat patterns and made the adjustments I thought were needed first. The big issues were:

1)Large Arms
2)Rounded Shoulders
3)Full Bust

Now, all of these adjustments I've done before on a basic style bodice and an armhole princess seam. I had not done it on a two-piece raglan sleeve and a bodice with neckline and waist darts.

Full Bust

The very first thing I did was trace off a size 20 minus the seam allowance and then do a three inch (total, 1.5 inch pictured here, since it would equal 3" with both sides there) Full Bust Adjustment*. There are many many tutorials out there on how to do a Y-shaped FBA, and in this case I used the principle of moving darts (Here's a good diagram that explains that) to make the change, then close up the side dart and split the difference between the top and bottom dart.

Here's the front sleeve and adjustments made.  The thing about raglan sleeves is they usually have a dart at the shoulder if they are one piece, or effectively with a two piece sleeve as there is a curve, much like with a princess seam. Trying to move the seam line forward for rounded shoulders proved to be challenging. It was a bit of trial and error.

I swear I had made one of these with notes on the photo, but I can't find it.  In fact, it looks like I lost half my  carefully done photos and now I'm sad.  I will share what I do have, however, and try to go from memory.

Obviously, I had to do a bit of dart adjustment.  The waistline darts in the front needed to be shortened and curved in a bit to match my natural shape. I also gave myself a 1/4 inch more roof all around after pinching a dead dart in the back. Upon looking at some of these photos I realize that my right shoulder and hip are slightly higher than my left. This must be from my back injury as that is the side I normally favor (due to the nerve damage from my spinal injury/surgery my right leg will give out on me or cramp up, usually when very tired and often without warning). When I can finally convince (read: enable) a couple friends to sew more and be my fitting buddy, I will probably have a right/left pattern pieces in the future. The wrinkles with the back-fat are not noticeable in the fashion fabric, lining, and skirt weight pulling down the bodice. This is a good thing. Ok, more photos.

Ah, ok, here is the notes on muslin number one.  I didn't note it on the photo how I moved the neckline darts, see the second photo down from here.  

You can also see I actually pinched out a bunch of width in the waistline.  I did this for the first muslin, but then added in a 1/8 inch for each side seam, for a total of 1/2 an inch all around. It ended up being the perfect amount.

Here I show how I ended up re-drawing the sleeve shoulder darts. This was also to keep the neckline from gaping and to prevent bra-strap showing. This is still a slight problem but fixable if I wear the right bra. In the next one I make I'm going to add a second neckline dart.   I kept the width for the bottom of the sleeves, which was lengthened 1 inch from the original to hide some of the jiggly.

Here is the aforementioned moving of neckline dart.  As I said, I'm going to add a second dart. Really, I'm going to add 1/4 inch to this one and then split it into two darts. That would give ma a total of another 1/2 inch taken in at the neckline and successfully give me regular bra strap coverage.

Though I don't have a photo of it, I did add an inch to the waistline of the skirt and to the length.  I marked the hem by measuring 24" from the waistline, then sewed lace hem tap to the bottom and trimmed. Also, I pinked the seam allowances. I did to a second row of stitching in the bodice seams for strength and then pinked.  This is a dry-clean only dress so I'm not terribly worried about fraying.  As for finishing the hem, I did a blind stitch by hand for the fashion fabric and a rolled hem on the serger for the lining.

That's all I can think of at the moment. Felicity is suppose to help me take photos in the morning, so hopefully I'll have those edited and up this week. Let me know if you have any questions! Hope your week is going well.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

It Is Done

Vogue 8701
And by "IT" I mean 2012 and my latest dress.  Happy New Year,  we shall see what it has in store for us. I must admit that I've been doing a great deal of inner reflection lately*. And doing a lot of it while hand stitching on this dress.  I have a very long process post and a photo shoot of me in it to do, for sure.  However, since I've been so quiet recently I just wanted to show you what I've been working on.

Vogue 8701 View B, with a slight lengthening of the sleeve. I also added belt loops and made a matching belt. Its a silk dupioni I got on sale from Fabric Mart Fabrics for a steal. Its the bestest most obnoxious plaid ever and while it looks shiny in all the photos, its not really in real life. I'm totally wearing it to work.

I actually put a lot of my work in progress up on Instagram, but as I already stated I am planning on giving you more in depth on what I had to do to get it to fit.  Mom once told me that the simplest looking designs are the hardest to make look good.  Mom was very wise.

*A lot of it has to do with work and blogging about my sewing. I work in the I.T. industry and sewing is a completely mystifying hobby to most of my coworkers. Because I managed to teach ONE class before I had to do a lot of damage control for friends I've had multiple people at work ask "So are you going into business for yourself now?".  Trying to explain to them that making the kind of money I do in I.T. would be almost impossible and I'm not exactly in a position to strike out on my own on a hope and a whim was frustrating. My husband pointed out that its a way that men (and I mostly work with men) compliment you, by pointing out that you are good enough at said skill to be marketable.

But anywho, all that to say that I've been trying to find a way continue my education for work and have the skill apply to both blogging and my "day" job.  Can't really go into more detail than that, other than 2013 is going to be a very interesting year. Hopefully a good interesting. Wish me luck!