30 May 2011

29 May 2011

13.5 Yads & Counting...

I've been quite productive in the sewing room this month. Given that my sewjo was hiding out in the garage all winter, I'm quite pleased to announce that I sewed 13.5 yards of fabric so far this month! For the sewaholic, this feat might seem minimal at best. For me, it's a big deal. You see, my sewjo regularly takes vacations without me and it's oftentimes hard to get it back.This month, however, my sewjo has been on fi-ya!

So far, I made:
  • five activewear tops (6 yards)
  • hoodie (2 yards)
  • yoga pants (1.5 yards)
  • jeans (2 yards)
  • stretch woven top (2 yards)
Thanks to encouragement from Faye, I also finally finished Vogue 1036. I put the jacket on with a pair of jeans and really like it now. I've decided not to add snaps because (a) I don't have any, and (b) it is time to be over with this jacket! It's been hanging around my sewing room since late March and I have to move on. There's no more room in Area 51.

I'm halfway through completing the Beignet skirt from Colette Patterns. The outer shell is done; I have to assemble the lining, attach the facings, and work buttonholes. If I work hard enough, I can get this done before the end of the month and add the yardage to my totals.

What I really need is pictures. I've been getting by with self photos in the mirror, but the lighting isn't all that great. I have a camera and tripod, but I can never seem to get the right angle or height.

How do you take photos of yourself in your sewn garments?


28 May 2011

Activewear for the Trip

My sewjo was finally rejuvenated by an inability to find long-sleeved tops for my trip to The Netherlands. After searching local clothing stores for days, I decided I would make the tops myself. I dug around the stash and found 1.5 yards each of a lavender and red cotton lycra. I also had 1.5 yards of a dark purple cotton double knit. I cut Jalie 965 out of each fabric and sewed them up on my serger. When I tried on the red top, the bicep area was too tight - uncomfortably tight. Faced with one week left before the trip, I had to think quickly about how to fix this. I didn't have enough fabric to cut larger sleeves and I didn't have time to order/find any more fabric. Then it hit me! I read an article (Flatlock for Fashion by Pamela Leggett) in the current issue (#155) of Threads about using the serger to flatlock seams. I sliced the sleeve from hem to sleeve cap and attached a 2-inch strip of fabric using the flatlock stitch. I used regular serger thread in the loopers and a thick wool-like yarn in the left needle.

This adjustment was quick and easy to make. The extra time invested in unpicking the sleeves, cutting the 2" strip of fabric, and making the flat lock stitch was well worth it. The sleeves are now very comfortable and roomy.

I would have followed the same procedure on the lavender cotton knit, but I ran into another, more pressing problem! Upon visiting REI and chatting with one of the associates, I learned that cotton wasn't the best fiber choice for biking and that I should use a synthetic fiber instead. (&$*^@!) My preoccupation with warmth clouded rational judgment about fiber functionality! Cotton does not wick away moisture and thus will feel very wet against the skin. If it's cold outside, then wearing a wet shirt will certainly not help keep me warm. D'oh! This conversation took place on Tuesday afternoon, 3 May and I was scheduled to leave on Friday, 6 May. Sure, REI had a bunch of polyester tops (mostly short-sleeved), but at $30 each, that was not an option. I already dropped $$ on some padded bike shorts and a rain jacket and STILL needed to get rain pants.

I didn't have time to run around town, again, and search for something that I was not likely to find. So after class that day, I rushed home and cut out three short sleeved tops out of some polyester microfiber high performance knit that I had on hand.

While the tops serged up quickly, it took me no less than three attempts on EACH top to get that damn neckband attached decently. On the third attempt of the third top, it finally occurred to me what the problem was. To insert the neckband in the round, you're supposed to divide it into quarters - marking the center front, center back, and shoulders with pins.

Then, stretch the band to fit the neckline at each of these places. This wouldn't have been a problem if the distance between the shoulders along the front was the same as the distance between the shoulders along the back. I kept getting these tight pulls on the front and thus found it extremely difficult to attach the band. So I moved the pins marking the shoulders back about an inch (or so) to allow more length along the front.

To finish the tops, I used my coverstitch machine on the bottom hems and shaped the side seams a bit. I would have coverstitched the sleeves but I didn't have time.

To add to the activewear collection, I also made a pair of yoga pants (Kwik Sew 3115) and a hoodie out of black sweatshirt cotton (Kwik Sew 3667). In all, the tops worked out well. They provided the necessary comfort and function I needed on the trip. Now that I know I can easily and relatively quickly make activewear, I don't think I will ever buy it again!

My May sewing mojo has been in overdrive. So far, I've made activewear, a pair jeans, a woven top (gasp), and am almost finished with a skirt. Details coming soon!


19 May 2011

Good Reason for Bad Blogging

I have a good reason, really. I do. I was out of town biking in Holland in the beginning of May. You may have read on the blogs of Miss Celie's Pants or the Slapdash Sewist about a bike trip in The Netherlands. I went on that trip, too. Although this wasn't my first time to The Netherlands, I really got to see lots of the country on this trip.

The purpose of the trip was to encourage biking and that we did! Our group biked roughly 30 miles per day beginning in Amsterdam and traveling to various cities in the provinces of North & South Holland. Our route included Haarlem, Leiden, The Hague, Delft, Rotterdam, Nieuwport, and back to Amsterdam. We rode bikes during the day and lodged on a boat, the Liza Marleen, during the evening. The boat sailed from town to town each day, mooring in time for dinner at 6.30p. For some reason, I completely misunderstood how the 'bike & barge' was supposed to go. Originally, I thought we would ride on the boat to each city and then bike around it. Yeah, that wasn't right at all. LOL Upon re-reading (okay... carefully reading for the first time all of) the information that was sent, it clearly states that we would bike from town to town. I blame the oversight...on...um...the weather. Yeah. That's it.

Speaking of the weather...it was perfect for biking! Even though I am *always* cold, I found that with enough layers, I was quite comfortable. The temperature hovered between 60 and 70 degrees and the sun shined wonderfully on most days - so much so that my face is nicely tanned. We did have a bit of rain on Tuesday (fourth day), but it didn't last long at all. The wind, however, is not to be reckoned with! The Netherlands is generally flat, but the wind can be a beast - especially when riding against it.

It was nice to meet up with sewing friends from Europe. I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting Sigrid, Marta, Joana, Hilde (all from Holland), and Sheila (from Belgium). How cool is that? Having referred to Sigrid's tutorials on MANY occasions, it was so nice to meet her in person.

I could go on and on about the trip and maybe I will in future posts. I made several observations during the trip:
  1. Time seemed to stop or move very slowly every day. This was a weird but welcomed (and much needed) sensation.
  2. Biking in Holland is a way of life and means of regular transportation. It was mentioned that Holland doesn't have drivers and cyclists. It has cyclists who also drive cars. That mentality makes all the difference when it comes sharing the road with a car. After a while, I felt comfortable riding along side of a car.
  3. I surprised myself by biking approximately 30 miles for several straight days. During the Rotterdam trek, I developed a monster migraine and had to retire to the boat early. I also didn't bike on Friday, the last day of the tour.
  4. Padded bike shorts are more hype than help. Surely there has to be some sort of padding for the "sits-bone."
  5. Having completed the trip, I am more encouraged to bike. I've done the NYC 5-Borough bike tour twice and for recreation locally. Now, I will look into more biking adventures and ride more often around town.
Below are some pictures, with comments, from the trip. Enjoy!

I had center row 62 (that's 4 consecutive seats) all to myself!
Best. Flight. Ever.

Day 1. The hoodie is Kwik Sew 3667.

Renee, me, Trena at our first stop between Amsterdam and Haarlem

He makes and wears clogs. So cool!

I must have these!

Hmm...should I visit the bakery or distillery?
Hint: He's not a baker.
Cognac + Gin + Rum = Conjum Likeur and a bottle that safely made it back home!

They're a little big...


Stroopwafle maker at Keukenhof Botanical Gardens

I don't remember where this was taken!

We visited the beach on the ride between Leiden and The Hague.
Can you tell where the sky ends and ocean begins?
Just beautiful.

Working a hand-crank sewing machine inside a windmill at Kinderdijk
(I didn't know folks lived in the mills.)

An evening of tea and friends in Nieuwport
From L-R: Joana, me, Sigrid, Marta, Hilde, Renee, Trena

Kantje Boord!

Taking a picture of Sigrid taking a picture!

Wall of lycra at Kantje Boord

This was my dinner at a vegetarian restaurant on the final day in Amsterdam.
There's salad, beans, and poppy-encrusted quiche.

On the sewing front, I managed to make five tops and a pair of yoga pants for the trip. I also completed my third pair of jeans (not in time for the trip) and have begun work on a new top. I hope to blog about them soon!

Be well!


01 May 2011

Good Intentions & Update

March Intentions

I had good intentions. Really, I did. But I should know by now that I cannot actively participate in any timed sewing challenge - especially if timing is short and during exams. Despite not entering any garments in the contest, I did manage to complete a tank top and cardigan and nearly complete the vogue jacket (1036) and a skirt.

The jacket just needs the sleeve facings and snaps on the front. That's it. It's so simple to complete this garment, but I just can't bring myself to do it. Part of the reason is because I'm not too thrilled of how it looks on me. When I made the mock-up, I liked it a lot. But now, having sewed it, I'm not so sure I like it. My friends Melody, Stephanie, and Therisa think it looks okay.

April Intentions

At the end of April, Faye started a 15-day all-tops sewing challenge. The idea was to sew as many tops as possible from 1 Apr to 15 Apr. The challenge was then followed by a 15-day all-bottoms sewing change to run from 16 Apr to 30 Apr. Again with the intentions... I thought this would be a great way to sew up some quick tops for spring. I began good by starting two tops: Burda 7866 and Jalie 965. I really like the Burda pattern, however the fabric I used is a little too festive for me. I don't even know why I bought it.

I'm so close to finishing this too. See the neckline facing? All I need to do is stitch it down and then do the hems. Sigh. I have to admit that when I am not feeling a garment, it does not get done. Sadly, this line of thinking has created my local version of Area 51:

Yes, you are looking at a closet full of UFOs. This picture was taken a couple of years ago and more aliens have landed since then. =/

What's next?

After finding my sew-jo hiding out in the garage, I dragged it into the sewing room a few days ago and began work on my third pair of jeans. So far, the garment is coming along nicely - if you don't count putting in the zipper BACKWARDS and subsequently wasting more than an hour trying to turn the tab around and picking out a shitload of stitches. I managed to fix the waistband issue I had on the last two pair (details forthcoming), but I have to cut a new pair of waistbands because the center front isn't long enough. Where's the "eyeroll" emoticon when you need it?

Long-sleeved knit tops...
I know it's spring somewhere, but I need long-sleeved knit tops. Whatareyagonnado?

Spring/Summer sewing...
I have some events coming up and I want to wear nice new clothes! I have a focus with specific patterns and fabric and I'm excited to begin working on them. More on this later.

Well, it's actually not raining outside (gasp!), so I think I'll go for a walk.



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