Sunday, January 3, 2021

Here's To A New Happy Year - Welcome 2021 and Good Riddance to 2020

 Like many people, I'm glad to see the end of 2020. The last eighteen months have been filed with unending stress, loss and grief. I'm grateful that God has kept me thru all of the storms that came my way.  

I've learned a few things along this journey. Grief is a jealous. It doesn't care where you are when it decides it wants control, doesn't care who you are with and doesn't care if it's presence is disruptive or embrassing. It doesn't care if it makes others around you uncomfortable or sad. At times, it owns your soul despite your best efforts to keep it under control. 

There are a couple of thoughts and quotes that helped me survive last year. I read a quote on Facebook  that said grief is love that has no place to go. I decided to turn grief into love for my grands. One of my co-worker's husband told her that there is no better place to be than with God. I take comfort that Sam and Crissy are with God and all of the other people that preceded them. They are free from all earthly concerns. I still feel married. I miss his earthly presence but he is always with me. Sam would not want me to be sad. When I think about him in heaven, I picture him talking to everyone around. He is not in pain or suffering. He is free. 

At the end of the year, I realized that I spent the last year stuck in my comfort zone mainly thanks to Covid. My original plan was to learn how to be single again (I hate the word widow because it feels so negative).  I had planned to learn how to go places by myself and to do new things. Covid blew that plan to bits. Covid reduced life to basic routines, go to work,  back home with rare side trips to Walmart. The thing I miss the most is going out to restaurants. When this is over, I'm having a personal restaurant week.

I'm glad to have a hobby that kept me focused. Sewing kept me busy. I've sewn a lot. I didn't  write anything about it. At the end of 2019, I re-arranged my sewing and cutting rooms to be more functional. I kept editing and moving things around until it felt right.  I sewed a lot but I didn't measure what I used. If I guess I probably sewed well over 100 yards and most of it came from the stash. I found that there was something really satisfying when a piece of fabric that had been sitting on the shelf turns into a garment. I just cut out a bunch of projects and all of the fabric came from the stash. Of course, I still bought more fabric. Fabric Mart & Metro Textiles were my main fabric sources. Not only did I buy fabric, I bought notions. I love Amazon boxes. Now when I look around, I realized that I have everything that I need to make garments w/o running to the store. 

The stash is big enough that I can look at fabric sites and don't feel the need to buy fabric. I did become more discriminating in what I bought. This year, I will think even harder before I hit the purchase button. 

I decided to set some loose and I mean really, really loose goals for next year

  1. Finish the 2021 SWAP at Stitcher's Guild, I'm good at starting but fail miserably at finishing. I have the bulk of my garments cut out and stored in plastic bags. 
  2. Learn some new techniques such as welt pockets and tailoring a jacket or coat
  3. Sew from the stash. See if I can make some empty spots on the shelves
  4. Use the Cricut and the embroidery machine. I didn't have the mental energy last year to learn them.
  5. Make a suit. 
I have one jacket that is almost finished that I will blog about after I add snaps and take pictures. 

Here's to a Happy New Year. 

Sunday, January 12, 2020

SWAP 2020 - Wild Ginger Cardigan

One of my goals this year is to keep a better record of what I make. I sewed a lot last year but didn't make any notes. Sometimes, I wished I had something to reference about a garment. I have set some goals for this year:
  1. Shop from the stash. I do own a lot of nice fabric. I won't say that I will not buy fabric because I love boxes of fabric waiting for me when I get home. Im going to support my local fabric shop - A Fabric Place. I love this store because of the customer service.
  2. Sew more. I decided to participate in the 2020 SWAP at Stitcher's Guild . Every year, I start but never finish or finish on time. I did finish last year but it took me a long time. My color scheme this year starts with black, white, and red fabrics. I picked black and white since I have a shelving unit filled with 5 shelves of black and white fabrics. Not everything that I sew will fit into the SWAP. Three of the first garments that I cut out are animal prints and not part of the SWAP. I will be adding other colors as the urge hits. 
I'm going to work on documenting what I make especially since I discovered the Microsoft snipping tool works with Wild Ginger. I cut out a bunch of projects ove the last week and finished today.
I am more productive if I have stuff ready to sew. Altering patterns and cutting out fabric are not my favorite parts of sewing.  All of the machines got threaded with black thread today. Everything is organized and ready to go. My current dilemma is where to work on a muslin for a jacket or start working on my long black cardigan. 

I love sweaters that can wrap around my body. Two of the SWAP garments much coordinate with everything else. This sweater will coordinate with everything else. The fabric is a thick black knit that has been in the fabric collection for at least two years.  This is a picture of the pattern image. 

 I'm adding this picture so I know what settings I used in case I need to make changes.
After writing this I think that cardigan wins as the next project to meet the sewing machine. The only thing that I have to think about is how to finish the edges. 

2020 Here's looking forward to a great year

The house we live in is an older rowhouse. The bedrooms either are missing a closet or they are too small for clothes storage. When we move in, we decided to take one small bedroom and make it a combined clothes closet and fabric storage area. It has worked well for many years except when the shelf fell off the wall. After that incident, I bought new closet shelving units from Amazon that work really well. All of my hanging clothes are organized by type and color. This made the room function even better. 

My sewing room is small but worked very well. I managed to have a full size cutting table against one wall. I always missed being able to walk around the table. At the end of the year, I decided to rearrange my sewing room and fabric storage area. I decided to move the fabric storage to the sewing room and move the cutting table to the closet room. This turned out to be a bigger project that I imagined. MY OCD tendencies got on my own nerves. I got frustrated because one project lead to another and sometimes I had to wait for someone to help me. In the end it turned out to be a great decision. I got everything organized and have successfully cut out a few projects. It got even better when I remembered that I could watch tv on my tablet. Hoorah

New cutting area. These are two Sullivan tables from Joann's which are fully extended. Everything is organized and has a home. Scissors and rotary cutters are up on the wall away from little fingers. My notion storage cabinet is under the table and bags of interfacing are stored on the floor at the top of the table. On either side of the table are 3 drawer carts filled with lining fabric. I enjoy cutting out fabric now that this area is finished.  On the table is a roll of the paper used in new homes to protect  floors. I use it to protect my cutting boards when I'm tracing patterns or gluing together my PMB patterns.

For the sewing room, Amazon to the rescue. I bought new shelving units. I miss-measured the shorter shelving units so I had to remove a shelf that I had planned to keep.  While we were putting up the shelves, my helper cut her hand and ended up having to get stitches. This is the first time that I have stored my fabric collection in this sewing room. After I loaded all of the fabric on the shelves, I lost the desire to buy more fabric. I wasn't sure if I would like it since the room is so small. Turns out that I like it better than I thought. DM was excited when she saw the revised room because she taught me to sew. She thinks that this is all of my stash. I didn't tell her about the bins in the basement, lol.
Recovering the dress form was my first project. I renamed her Sam in honor of my late husband. She is wearing one of his shirts right now. The print on the shoulder is a failed dress that was turned into a skirt. It just needs elastic added to the waistband. 
The sewing area is still the same, except for the new floor.  I decluttered and it feels better visually. As I get older, I realized that clutter makes me feel out of sorts. The middle shelf will now hold family pictures instead of a bunch of sewing stuff. Reminder, I need to get more frames.

This is were the grands hang out when they want to spend time with me. 
I've set some goals that year. The major goal is to enjoy my grands. They are great kids who are funny and bring me a lot of joy.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

My Dollars Count

I read Carolyn's post about the pattern designers defending their refusals to make patterns for the plus size community. I started out trying to add a comment to her post but it turned into a post here. I'm at a point in my life where it is easy to support my sewing habits. I spend my money where I feel valued. I read the comments on SBCC’s IG account from designers defending their position and I’m going to call it BS. I had to stop reading the comments because it is frustrating and offensive to be dismissed because I wear a size larger than 18.
There is well-documented research that plus size women are willing to spend money on clothing. ModCloth is an example, they made $18,000 at their beginning. They are now grossing $150 million. They are so successful that Walmart purchased them in 2017.  Lane Bryant, Eloquii, Avenue and others are examples of successful companies catering to plus size market demands.  I read an article that Modcloth’s plus size customers account for 8% of their customer base but outspend the traditional size customers by 7%.   
Hot Patterns and Cashmerette are two successful small pattern companies that cater to the plus size community. If companies are trying to say that the market is not there to support their R&D, again I’m going to call it BS. If you only want to market your product to the smaller sizes then be honest. No one has issues with niche marketing but be honest about it.  You can’t complain about the size of your business if you are not working to meet market demands.  It is disrespectful to be happy when sewists post about grading up their patterns but complain about the work of developing plus size slopers.

Sewing is not an inexpensive journey when you are plus size, I use more fabric and notions that others. I know that this is the price that I pay to make my own clothing. It is frustrating to look at the size range for a pattern and know that it needs more grading that I’m willing to do with my limited sewing time. I use a computer drafting program but sometimes I don't want to design a pattern. More and more, I’m buying Lekala patterns because I can find patterns that fit my lifestyle. I don’t have a problem with making changes to get the fit that I want and need. Even with Lekala patterns, I have to make a few adjustments. 
Sometimes, I find Indie patterns frustrating because the focus seems to be more casual garments. I'm looking for patterns that I can use for work clothes. I want patterns that challenge my skills and that is not easy to find.
Learning to fit patterns is an ongoing education. LaSewista just posted a two-part series about fitting  Standards of Fit. She pulled together some great information and resources that I can learn from as I continue to learn about fitting. 

Needless to say, I'm going to spend my money where I feel valued and buy patterns that cater to my needs. 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

2019 - Welcome To My World, Happy New Year

Last April, I was getting ready to go on a cruise and decided that I didn't want to wear black. I didn't want to look like I was going to a funeral on a Carribean cruise. I went searching through the stash and the blue fabrics won and blue became one of my core colors. I sewed a lot during the summer but have slowed down over the last few months. I wore a lot of the me-made garments and loved what I made. The biggest disappointment was the denim knit fabric from Mood. I made multiple garments using this fabric and it started pilling as soon as I finished sewing the group. Everything is packed away waiting for warm weather. 

Stitcher's Guild 2019 SWAP has started. One of my goal for this year is to complete a collection. You are required to use two neutral colors. I picked blue and red. The other garments can consist of 1-5 accent colors. I suck at sticking to a plan so I decided to make a group of coordinating garments. At the end of the challenge, I'll try to pick out a cohesive collection that meets the rules.

Christine Jonson Pick One, Sew Two posted a wardrobe building concept that didn't make me feel intimidated. You start with one garment and sew two coordinating garments. She has a PDF document that you can use to plan your group. Instead of starting with a garment, I decided to start with blue silk for a blouse. When I went to cut it out, I found a stain so it has to be pre-washed again. I cut out a long sleeve turtleneck and a cardigan from a navy blue modal knit that's been in the stash for a few months. Yesterday, I cut out a 10 gore knee length skirt for a muslin. I used PMB to draft all of the patterns. 

I have a stretch navy blue wool crepe suiting that I bought for the swap. Most of the fabrics that I need will be coming from the stash except for the inspiration fabric.  There were a few things that I needed to start sewing. I found my stretch lining at A Fabric Place last weekend.  The other stuff that I needed was elastic from FSS and thread from Wawak.  The only thing that I missed ordering was seam binding. I still need to check to see if I need anything for the red group. 

One requirement was to pick a print that spoke to you for your inspiration. I looked for a couple of weeks before I found what I was looking for. I found quite a few fabrics and pictures that inspired me but all of them were too dark. My focus is a spring/summer collection so I wanted a lighter print for my inspiration.  I finally found a print at that spoke to me. This is a knit that I will use for a blouse. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

2018 Sewing Projects - first quarter

I'm participating in the 2018 SWAP which is in progress at Stitcher's Guild. When I should have been sewing SWAP garments, I was fixated on sewing coordinating garments.   My favorite garments so far are a top from Lekala 4633  and Louise Cuttings Relax a Little Skirt which is OOP.

The fabric came from Metro Textiles. Tee sponsors a trip every year and I basically lose my mind and buy a bunch of fabric.  Each year I have the fabric mailed home. It's not that expensive. I'm not dragging a bunch of fabric around NYC. That would be exhausting and keep me from having room to carry around more fabric.

The fabric is a medium weight knit and was a joy to sew. I thought I only had enough fabric to make the skirt but I had a big scrap left. I got creative and cut the top on the cross-grain. This made me a happy woman. One of my goals is to use the entire piece of fabric and not return leftovers to the stash. Scraps are donated to a fellow ASG member.

Lekala 46333 needed a few changes -  narrow shoulder adjustment, rounded back adjustment and I had to raise the neckline. It is too low for work. I've made 4 versions out of this pattern. I need to remember to add 1/2 inch to the center front. I'm going to add cap sleeves to the next version. I hope that this is going to become a TNT pattern. 

The skirt is an easy sew because the directions are excellent. Louise Cutting has the best directions for her patterns. I've made this skirt several times. I've lost weight and the first skirt is too big. It is in the giveaway pile. The second skirt is part of the swap. I plan to make a lot of skirts out of this pattern. It works great for skirts for work when I don't want to wear pantyhose.

I have managed to finish 5 swap garments using a black ponte knit from FM. 3 bottoms are done - slim leg pants, pencil skirt and RAL skirt. 2 sleeveless tops are done - one from Lekala 4633 and one PMB draft. Everything needs a trip through the washing machine and dryer before I can take pictures. Hopefully, this will get done next weekend.

I'm currently working on two skirts from a black floral print from Another pencil skirt from PMB. The pattern for the second skirt comes from Pam Howard and it is called the Flirt skirt. It has a fishtail hem. The pattern matched across the back seam until I had to remove 2 inches. I have a few more garments that I need to add to the blog. Another goal this year is to document my sewing on this blog.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Back to Blogging - Updated Sewing Room

Ejvc started a thread about fixing up your sewing room for the month of September on Stitchers Guild. This year August was devoted to getting ready for September - Pimp Up Your Sewing Room projects. I was reading the thread and realized that I wasn't sewing much because I was dissatisfied with the sewing room. It was cluttered and disorganized. I'm a little OCD about certain things and stuff sitting around in my room makes me out of sorts. I decided that I need to clean, re-organize and fix up my sewing room. I've been working on the room in bits and pieces and I think I'm finally done.

I started in August by getting rid of a lot of stuff that I was holding onto just in case. I haven't missed one thing I tossed or donated. By organized the threads and buying a parts cabinet, I was able to get rid of three storage containers that sat under the table. The printer was originally in the bedroom but printing did not work when DH was sleep. I had to buy a new laptop when DGS knocked over a glass of water and fried my old laptop. The Janome 500e is my latest toy. DH and DS talked me into buying it. I need to sell the 300e. We just never bonded.

This is the long table holding the Janome babies. The embroidery machine and the coverstitch. Under and to the right of the table are containers whch hold way, way too many patterns.

There is a shelf above the table which holds the sewing threads, coloring books, markers and other small stuff. The small containers came from Walmart. I found a couple in the store and tried to order them online. I ended up sending DH to a store and he bought all that they had. The containers were out of stock the last time that I tried to find them. I have six empty ones left. DH made me a happy woman. There is a strip of LED lights under the shelf. 
I ordered the 6-quart containers for the serger thread from Walmart on-line. Each color has a separate container. Next to the serger threads are my books and magazines. 

To the right of the long sewing table is the pressing area.
I bought some new pressing tools - shoulder stands and point presser from Gaylen and Jay. They have a B&B in PA that I hope to visit soon. 

The flat point presser came from Angela Wolf but I don't see it on her website now. A new gravity feed iron joined the club. All of these purchases forced me to get the shelves organized above the ironing table. I had stuff stuck in baskets and bins. It was frustrating. The white magazine holders helped get the paper off the tables. I have a small basket that holds the pressing cloths. The three drawer cabinet holds strips of tricot interfacing in different widths. Cup hooks under the shelf hold scissors, thread nippers, and clamps  

To the left of the long table is a short table that holds the sewing machine and serger.

I tried to have live plants but this is the only one that has survived. You would think that I learned my lesson when I killed my husband's cactus plants several years ago. The window gets great morning light.

To the left of this table is the cutting table. These is where it gets interesting.
One night I decided to put some pattern boxes on a shelf. The next morning, the shelf was hanging off the wall and everything was on the floor. There are big holes in the wall. Plus I lost important storage space. I was devasted. These are lathe and plaster walls. I realized that the plaster is separating from the lathe and the entire wall needs to be replaced. In the middle of the winter, there is no way that I'm going to let them tear up my sewing room. I had some red paper that contractors use to cover new floors. I glued two sheets together and then used mod podge to cover them with old pattern paper. At the end of the table are two containers with interfacing and the other two hold WIP. Everything that I need to draft, alter and cut out patterns is in this area. The only thing that I need to add is some Crayola washable markers. On the shelf above the door is the light colored interfacing. 
I had to be creative when figuring out how to store my scissors to keep them out of the hands of a very busy two-year-old DGS. He carries the ottoman around the room to climb so he can touch stuff. Plus the magazine holder was from the stash. The scissors that everyone can use is on the top. Everything else is off limits especially my Kai scissors. My favorite cutting tool is the Kai rotary cutter. 
Under the cutting table is a store display cabinet that holds
various notions and trims. I found the cabinet on Craigslist several years ago. I need to find a specialty glass company so I can replace the cardboard. In the meantime, I'll cover the cardboard with something attractive.

Everything is organized. Each sewing machine has a pair of scissors and a magnetic pincushion. Everythin that I need is within reach. Each notion has a permanent home. At the beginning, I had to forced myself to always but stuff back when I'm finished. Now it is a habit. I can clean the room in fifteen minutes.  My sewing mojo came back as the room became more organized. When I sit down in this room, I feel calm, peaceful and relaxed. My sewing mojo came back from vacation as the room became more organized. I'm done.