Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I guess I do sew a lot

The film canister I use for old* needles is quite full and my bobbin holder displays a rainbow of thread colors from past projects. I guess I do sew a lot.

Right now I'm working on Jalie polo shirt #2 in the pink rayon. Laying out the fabric for cutting was a real annoyance. The fabric is stretchy and I don't have the benefit of a print to help me lay it out straight. The knit on this fabric is very tiny but eventually I was able to use my fingers to find a fold along the straight of grain. I was dismayed to see that it was cut off grain and feared that I wouldn't have enough fabric for the 3/4 length sleeves. However I managed to squeeze them in. I have all the pieces cut, the collar and placket pieces are interfaced and I've begun work on the stitching the front placket. Yeah, progress!

But no more work on the shirt until after Labor Day weekend. Tonight I need to can the pears we picked off our tree before they all go bad and tomorrow night I need to pack and tidy up the house in preparation for our mini-vacation. We're headed to a B&B in Mendocino this weekend. Ahhhhh. Relaxation. I'll be sure to bring some knitting to enjoy on the porch with a view of the ocean.

*You're supposed to change the needle with every project or after so many hours (10-12 I think) of sewing, but I cheat a little and stretch the use to sometimes 2-3 projects, depending on the type of needle and the project. This idea of changing the needle is relatively new I think and probably encouraged by Schmetz, a major needle manufacturer. There are plenty of sewers who keep the same needle in the machine for years, and I'm sure they don't realize that it's probably dull and causing skipped stitches. It's probably a bit overkill to change it so often but needles are relatively cheap, especially when you take advantage of the periodic 50% off notion sales at the chain fabric stores.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Speak to me

My fabric speaks to me. Does yours? Mine tells me what it wants to be. Last night I looked through some of my fabric stash for fabric to make a second Jalie polo shirt. I remembered that I had stashed some fabric in the blanket chest in our bedroom and was dismayed surprised to find some that I'd forgotten about, including a pale pink stretchy knit. I'm embarrassed to say that I don't remember where it came from. Probably emmaonesock. This fabric spoke to me right away that it must be the next polo shirt. And I think it will be nice. It's a pale pink, a very ballerina pink, and I think that if I made a simple t-shirt from it it would look too lost against my skin. It needs the collar and neckline of the polo shirt, so a polo shirt it shall be.

Then another fabric from this batch of blanket chest stash spoke to me. It's a light blue sweater knit with a chenille feel to it. This fabric said it needed to be Kwik Sew 3155. The only problem is that this pattern calls for a knit with at least 25% stretch and although this is a sweater knit, it has essentially no stretch. I looked through all of my Burda WOF patterns (I keep a notebook of the pages with the line drawings) to find something else that would work but this fabric persisted. It must be KS3155. Ok. But now I will have to figure out if I need to make adjustments to the pattern to make up for the lack of stretch.

Update to above posting...

Funny...I thought I might have blogged about the blue knit fabric when I bought it and it turns I did. And what did I have in mind to make with it at the time? Yup, the hoodie from Kwik Sew 3155. I guess it spoke to me even then.

And the pink knit mystery is solved. I checked my old email and found an emmaonesock order that listed the purchase of the stretchy baby pink fabric (yes, I'm a bit obsessive about keeping old emails about the fabric I bought). But I wish now I hadn't found it. It's a bit of an ouch. Turns out the pink knit is a rayon lycra for which I paid $18/yard. I bought 1 1/4 yards but it now measures out as less (which means my sleeves will again be elbow length and not 3/4). Either I was shorted a bit (possible, it's happened on other fabrics I ordered from them) or it shrank when I washed it (also possible and probably what happened- I washed it on warm and dried it too). It was purchased, along with some other rayons knits of the same price, during a terrible fabric-buying weakness.

But I can afford it and I shouldn't deny myself nice fabrics. Plus the $18/yard fabric is far better off being made into a garment I might be able to wear than forgotten at the bottom of a blanket chest. If the cost bothers me that much I guess I can figure that it balances the $2.77 I spent on the fabric for the first Jalie polo shirt, right? Besides, I'm not sewing to save money - I sew to save myself the annoyance of shopping for clothing only to see ugly fabrics sewn sometimes badly into things that I could make myself...for a lot less (ok, so money does factor into it a little). But the real reason I sew is because I enjoy finding a fabric that catches my eye and then listening to the fabric tell me what it wants to be. I enjoy turning the fabric into something to wear and I like that there's only one like it in the world!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Finished projects

Drum roll...I finally finished the Jalie shirt! Yes! The world's slowest (and pickiest) sewer has stitched the last stitch on the shirt. I finished it in time to wear to a BBQ Saturday night. No, I wasn't sewing the hem on the way to the party, but I did stay up until 2:30 am the night before party (guess that would be the morning of the party). Fortunately I could sleep in, although I did have to get up around 6:30 to feed the cats or risk being "whined" into total awakeness.

I'm pleased with the results and will definitely make a few more. I posted a review of the pattern on patternreview.

(click for larger)

And while I'm posting pictures, here's the Kwik Sew skirt I finished earlier this summer. Here's my review on patternreview. I was waiting to make the New Look 6952 blouse to go with it, but since I'm having fit issues with this pattern, I may not get to this anytime soon.

(click for larger)

So now that the endless Jalie shirt is done, I have my entire stash "yelling" at me with project ideas. Well, not the entire stash. Now that it's the last week in August, the spring and summer fabrics are going to have to wait. Not a problem - I have plenty of sweater knits, wools and autumn-colored fabrics to consider. But I think I will move on to a second Jalie 2562 right away before I forget how to consider incorporating Georgene's suggestions for improving the fit and before I forget how to make the darn thing and repeat the same mistakes. Now the only problem is deciding which fabric to use.

Friday, August 26, 2005

It's the idea of it

I have many hobbies and many interests. My interests outnumber my actual hobbies and that's probably a good thing that they are just thoughts and I haven't turned them into hobbies. Yet. It's so tempting to try something new. In some cases it may just be the idea of the new hobby that interests me because I don't have time or space for the hobbies I actually do. My main hobby-time right now is spent on sewing and knitting, with sewing far exceeding knitting in terms of actual projects completed and stash and supplies for new projects. But knitting and the other hobbies are close behind. I consider a hobby anything I do, have tried and want to do again, and especially hobbies for which I've bought equipment and supplies. I'm not saying I'm good at any of them and I certainly don't have ongoing projects for most of my hobbies, but I try. Here's the list:

  • sewing: clothing, quilts, home dec, doll clothes and toys
  • knitting: hand and machine
  • crochet (I tried it and in addition to my knitting yarn stash, I have crochet cotton to make lace)
  • embroidery: hand and machine (including making computer digitized designs)
  • needlepoint
  • cross stitch
  • scrapbooking
  • rubber stamps (for greeting cards and scrapbook)
  • computer art (primarily for greeting cards)
  • jewelry making
  • stenciling
  • general art: watercolor, acrylics, colored pencil, paper collage
  • dollhouse miniatures
  • polymer clay (ok, not quite a hobby...yet, but I purchased a multi-color pack of Sculpey intending to try it out)
  • fabric painting (ok, also not quite a hobby yet but I have all the materials on hand to do it)
  • photography
  • gardening
  • home improvement (we're talking redoing the kitchen ourselves kind of stuff)
  • woodworking (most is in conjunction with home improvement but I learned to use the scroll saw at 9 years old and inherited most of my dad's and grandfather's machinery)
And if that's not enough, these are the things I've thought about doing:
  • weaving (very tempted after seeing some gorgeous woven scarves)
  • bobbin lacemaking
  • stained glass
  • screen printing (isn't this a nifty kit?)
  • pottery
  • candlemaking
  • soapmaking

I know I'm going to be coming back to this post to update it because everytime I go to post it I come up with yet another hobby or wanna-be hobby.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


I cut out and stitched up the new collar last night. That's it. That's the extent of my progress on the Jalie shirt. I haven't even sewn it on the shirt yet. Some of the time was spent cutting out and ironing on the new interfacing . Woohoo. Such progress. At this rate I'll finish the shirt sometime in mid-September.

But to be fair, I do work a full time job and my husband and I stayed a bit later at work last night than usual. Plus we stopped at Costco-land on the way home to replenish our supply of fruit, pretzels (BIG bag), and milk. Lots of fruit. And a pair of pants that turned out not to fit. I hate that Costco doesn't have dressing rooms. I hate that Dockers' sizes are not consistent. But I like being able to pick up a pair of pants, some sneakers, or a package of underwear while doing my routine food shopping. And sometimes they fit. I know I have plenty of fabric and patterns to make my own pants and underwear (not the sneakers of course) but I'm a slooooooow sewer. If I relied on my sewing to supply all my clothes, well, let's just say it's a good thing I don't.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Why it's good to read the instructions, part II

This time I needed to take my own advice. I sewed the collar pieces together perfectly, with nice points and beautiful top stitching. And then when I was attaching the collar piece to the collar stand with 1 cm seam allowances I realized my error. This pattern uses 1/4 inch seam allowances. $*&#(~! Yes, the difference is only about 1/8 inch but this adds up and the result is that the collar would sit back from the front edge of the shirt by a bit more than it's supposed to. Would anyone notice? Would it bother me? Could I salvage another collar out of the remaining scraps of fabric? I don't know that anyone would notice, but yes, it would bother me and yes, I could squeeze another collar out of the scraps. Barely. I have just enough for one collar piece. I can seam the other collar piece that goes underneath and unless we return to the 80's fashion of wearing our polo shirt collars up (blech!) then I'm ok.

Other than the collar fiasco, the shirt is coming along. I didn't push and finish it before the BABES get together (obviously) but I did get enough done so that I could bring it along and get opinions on the fit. The shirt fits OK, but I had weird gathers on either side, right under my arms. Thankfully, Georgene, our ever helpful expert with loads of experience in patternmaking, was on hand to help. She realized right away that I had too much fabric under the arm and needed to take it up at the shoulder seams. I certainly did not see that and would have not figured it out on my own. But I'll have to remember that for next time because it's not bad enough to try to redo. I also enlisted Georgene's help with the New Look blouse but I received an F for not having put the sleeves in my muslin. Lesson learned - you need the sleeves in order to get the fit correct. She did say that I was pretty close with the rest of the fit and thought that the vertical drag lines I had in my sleeveless muslin would probably go away once the sleeves were in. Perhaps after I finish the Jalie shirt I'll turn my attention back to this blouse.

The BABES get together was a lot of fun. Tamtay took some pictures, which are posted on her blog. We started the day by sharing some recent sewing accomplishments. Georgene brought some RTW sweater sets that she beautifully embellished with trim, ribbon and beads. She has such a good eye for this! LisaM wore her gorgeous knit dress from a New Look pattern. Neefer showed off her terrific Asian-themed top with handmade frogs, which she says are easy to make (hmmm, I'll have to try that). I modeled my white Burda jacket (which I was so glad I brought because the fog makes SF quite chilly!). After some fitting help from Georgene and some nibbling on munchy-food, the swapping began. I lightened my fabric stash by transferring about 9 yards to sewing friends. Then we went shopping. I was good and only brought home 2 1/2 yards of some aubergine colored stretch crepe that I bought at Discount Fabrics and some buttons I bought at Mendels.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Why it's good to read the instructions first

I'm usually very good about reading instructions. In fact I drive my husband nuts with my insistence on reading and following recipes to a "T." Thankfully I did stop and read the instructions on the Jalie 2562 pattern before I got too far. I discovered that Jalie identifies the right side and wrong side of the fabric opposite of what I'm used to from other pattern companies. Usually a dark color is used for right side and white is used for the wrong side. But apparently this Canadian pattern company wants to be different. Fortunately no harm was done and it only cost me time with the seam ripper. As a result I didn't get as far along on this shirt as I'd hoped. I was sorta, kinda hoping to have it done to wear on Sunday to my BABES get together but with my super slow sewing ('cause I take time out to read those instructions!), I don't think that's going to happen. And I'm not going to push it. Although it's nice to wear something I made to a sewing-group meeting, it's not a requirement.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I need a new shirt

I'm not in the mood to tackle the fitting woes of the New Look blouse but I do want to sew and I want a new top. And I need to use up some fabric...which is a whole other problem! So I ventured into sewing room #2 the guest room and looked through the pile of stash fabrics that I haven't yet swatched and boxed up. I found a piece of knit that said make me into a shirt. It's only a one yard piece but I have in mind to make Jalie 2562. I really want to make the 3/4 length sleeve version (version B) but I only have a yard of fabric, so I'm going to try to squeeze a little bit more length on the sleeves in version A. I traced the pattern and hopefully tonight I will find some time to cut it out. And hopefully it will fit. I'm not too worried because I made the Jalie 2005 T-shirt last year and this is a knit. Knits are forgiving.

But sewing may take a back seat to other activities tonight. First on the agenda tonight is discarding the old metal shed. Thank goodness our friends have a dumpster right now because they are moving (boo hoo!) and are letting us have some space in it. The shed came with the house and although it's very handy extra space, which is essential when you don't have a basement (why oh why don't they build basements in California?), it was time for it to go. Problem #1: the shed is 4 feet wide and the space on the side of the house is 6 feet wide. Problem #2: the doors didn't close right any more. Problem #3: it was getting rusty. Problem #4: it had no floor and just sat on bare concrete - just a welcome invitation for all things critter. While our trailer is loaned out to other friends who are also moving (we do shower, I swear), my boxes and boxes and boxes of fabric are stacked in the garage. If they are not already in the way, then they will be soon. But putting the boxes of fabric in the bare-floored shed wasn't a good idea. Because of the critters. We plan to replace the metal shed with a skinnier one made of plastic and with a floor in hopes that it will be impervious to rain and critters and still provide some storage.

The other activities for this evening are to continue gathering and pricing garage sale stuff. Our friends with the dumpster are also having a garage sale this Saturday. At first I thought about adding a few items to their sale, but then it grew into bringing my own table and helping with the sale. Fortunately we agreed to make it a short sale: 8-12. It'll be good to get some stuff out of the house. Starting with my old dishes. I was also amazed at what stuff I had stashed in my cupboards that I don't use anymore. What doesn't sell will go to Goodwill but if I make a few dollars I plan to buy some more pieces of my new dishes.

Out with the old:

and in with the new:

But no fabric or patterns at the sale. If I have any to part with I'll be lugging them up to SF to the BABES (Bay Area Bash Expressly for Sewists) get-together on Sunday. I will have to show maximum restraint however since we're planning to go to Mendels and Discount Fabrics in the Haight.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

In the news

I am always happy to read articles in the newspaper related to sewing (even when most of them are for quilting). Imagine my surprise when the front page of the business section of our local paper highlighted a local seamstress who makes period costumes. Here's the link, although you may need to sign up to read it (hint: try to get a login and password you can use without going through the whole annoying process of giving out your name, email, etc. to yet another online site). She's probably going to get loads of business as a result of the article but it sounds like she's busy enough already making around 50 costumes a year. I once, very briefly thought about sewing ice skating costumes and by chance a co-worker (and friend) who skates at the rink I do does make costumes on the side. But I couldn't put up with the clients and I'm no where good enough to make other people's clothing anyway. As it turns out my friend doesn't sew much for herself. I guess that's what can happen when you turn your hobby into a business.

Monday, August 08, 2005

"Around the house" pants

I finished these pants a few weeks ago but just now got around to taking a picture of them (by the way, in case you're wondering, the cool wavy mirror is from IKEA). The pants are really comfy and are great for hot summer nights. I used a loose-weave cotton I picked up from Fabrix in San Francisco. The pattern is #103 from the February 2003 issue of Burda magazine. I posted a review on, although there really wasn't much to say about this pattern except that it's easy to make.

Saturday, August 06, 2005



Finally - the pictures from Lambtown last weekend:

Hot sheep in wooly coats. It was only about 100 degrees out there!

Hot sheep in wooly coats

This Kiwi could really shear a sheep! He beat the local guy.

Getting a haircut

And what do you get from shearing a lot of sheep? If I had this much wool, I could make a lot of sweaters...and hats...and scarves...and socks...

I want all this wool!

And then it was time for all the naked sheep to go home.

Naked sheep going home

But here is one last pretty, chocolate-y sheep:

Chocolate sheep

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Jerome has clothes now

Here is Jerome in his stripey shirt.

Monday, August 01, 2005

One out of two ain't bad

Well we made it to the sheep show but not the car race.

It was very hot on Saturday for Lambtown but we had a good time. The sheep were a hoot to watch and I was impressed by the skill of the shearers. It was also fun to watch the border collies do their thing - boy those dogs seem to love to work. The vendor part was a mix between usual fair-fare and fiber. It was interesting to watch the spinning and the wheels they sell are gorgeous, but I have no interest in adding another hobby to my already too long list. Well, maybe weaving. I was in love with the beautiful woven scarves and blankets.

We had pretty much already made up our minds Saturday night that we wouldn't go to the car race. Being that this was the first year for this race, there were too many unknowns: would there be too many people to see anything, would we be able to see anything anyway, would it be too hot (temps were forecasted in the 90's), did we want to pay $90 for the ability to stand in the hot sun for hours? I also knew that we'd be constantly comparing it to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This race was less than 2 hours long and probably wouldn't give us time to get to different parts of the track to see the race from different angles, something we were able to do during the 24 hour race in Le Mans. So we watched it on TV in the relative cool of our ceiling fan. And I'm glad. The race was more of a parade since the course was too tight to let cars pass. If the driver's car didn't disintegrate going over the trolley tracks (yes, the tracks ran right through the course - twice!) , his pit crew worked fast and furious, and he avoided the concrete walls, then he placed pretty much in the order he started in. Sebastien Bourdais started first, pretty much stayed first (except for a few cars who "pitted" later) and finished first. Exciting.

But enough about car races, this is supposed to be a sewing, knitting and crafting blog! I've been working on a sock monkey for the July Month of Softies. With a blog site title of "Monkeyroom", how could I not participate?

Here is my sock monkey Jerome. Ella wanted to get in on the photoshoot too. But that's okay because she's a little monkey too.

I made him from a couple of child-size socks so that he'd be a bit smaller. I used instructions from a sock monkey kit I have, but they are similar to the instructions on this site. Jerome's hat is made from a sock and I have almost completed a matching sweater. The stitch size in socks make them perfectly sized for doll sweaters too, which is where I got the idea.