Friday, August 22, 2008


I actually have some willpower. Every time I get an email announcing a fabric sale at, or Gorgeousfabrics or emmaonesock, I delete it! I'm sorry merchants, but as much as I would love to buy your fabric, help your bottom line, and boost the economy, I can't. So hooray for me for having some willpower. Finally. When one of those emails shows up in my inbox, I visualize the tower of plastic bins in sewing room #2 and hit the delete button and don't look back. These bins I am talking of contain relatively new fabric and I think it's finally my breaking point of fabric buying. If they were my only bins of fabric I'd have too much, but there are bins in the closets of sewing room #1 (also known as the computer room and the office), bins in sewing room #2 (which is supposed to be a guest room), and bins in the cargo trailer in the front driveway.

These are the ways I'm combatting the stash:
  1. Sew more. I find that when I'm not sewing, I shop. When I am sewing, I realize how long it takes to use up one piece of fabric and my sewing hasn't kept up with the buying.
  2. Don't buy. fabric in > fabric out = stash. It may be simple math but it's hard not to buy. To avoid buying, I delete the sale emails, avoid buying more patterns (another stash in itself) because once I'm in the store it's hard not to look, and I visualize how big my stash already is.
  3. Use from the stash. How do I know what's in my stash? I swatch the fabric. The swatches help me from buying duplicates and also help me shop from the stash. I recently re-organized them by color and fabric type, which makes shopping the stash much easier.
  4. Give it away. We have another BABES meeting tomorrow, where I get together with sewing friends I met through the internet and ASG. One highlight of our get together is to give away or trade fabric, patterns, books, and other sewing stuff we no longer like or want. The challenge is to not come home with anything or at least less than you brought.
  5. Recycle the scraps. It's hard not to "waste" fabric but in all honesty, I will probably not use them. I have good intentions of turning the scrap into doll clothes but those projects are low on my "to-sew" list. A challenge I have is what to do with the pieces that are 1 yard or larger. Those could be turned into a matching tank top, scarf, or trim for a coordinating piece.
  6. Live with it. There are worse things in life. I do not spend money I don't have on fabric, I can still get into sewing room #2, and the bins in the cargo trailer are not the only things stored in there. I like 98% of the fabric I've bought and my only regret is that I may not sew it all. I just don't want to add (unnecessarily) to it*.
*I will allow myself an out. Just as it's not a good idea for a dieter (who's dieting for weight loss purposes) to deny him or herself a treat now and then, I will leave room for travel fabric. Travel fabric keeps me from buying stupid souvenirs because I view the fabric as a reminder of the trip and it's fun to find the unique fabric stores in town.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A loopy problem is solved!

Audrey commented on my last post and diagnosed the problem as the knit being stretched as it went through the serger and then rebounding afterward (thanks Audrey and yes, Diana Couture is the French version of the German Diana Moden). I had also done some searching on the internet for anyone discussing the same problem and as a result joined the Babylock serger group on Yahoo where I found I wasn't alone with my loopy problem. The solution to "serger loops that fall off the edge of the fabric" is to simply set the differential feed. That's it! Just by moving one notch into the "compress" direction of the differential feed, my loopy problems were solved and the stitch is just about perfect. I guess when I think of using the differential feed it's for obvious things like serging the cross-grain of a knit where it's very stretchy or going the other direction with the differential feed to intentionally make lettuce edge finishes.

On my Babylock Evolvé there's a lever that is set to "A" for wide overlock and "B" for narrow. An additional "fix" for the loop problem is to use a wide overlock but set the lever to "B". Apparently this lever controls the rate at which thread is let into the stitch. So it makes sense that a narrow stitch has less thread coming into it and I can see where using "B" for a wide stitch might help if the differential feed setting isn't enough. In my case I didn't even have to make this adjustment. My loopy problem was solved with just a simple change of the differential feed by one notch.

Last night I serged up the seams to the bolero top so all that's left is to cut out and stitch on the binding. Then it's on to the next project.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Serger frustration

Although the "French skirt" is finished, I haven't posted any pictures yet because I haven't taken any. I wanted to wait until I finished a top to go with it so that I can show the outfit and also so the dress form doesn't look half-naked with just the skirt on it.

I'm making two knit tops to go with the skirt, both out of Diana Couture. One is a simple t-shirt type that's just two pattern pieces so the sleeves are just a little extension off the shoulders and not set in. It is gathered a bit in the front with drawstring. I should take a picture of the line drawing or photo but I'm lazy. The other is a little bolero that has to go over something else. I selected a peachy type fabric for the bolero because I thought it went with the skirt by picking up the more orange-y colors of the fabric but now I'm not so sure.

The fabric for the bolero is cut out (well, except for the binding pieces, but I'll get to those). I was hoping to sew up the shoulder, side seams and sleeves last night but the serger wasn't cooperating. I don't think it was the serger though. The problem is that the looper stitches hang off the edge of the fabric, which isn't terrible, but it's not pretty. My machine, a Babylock Evolvé, is auto-tension but there is one adjustment that can be made, which I tried it but it didn't make a difference. I think the problem is that the fabric is a bit slippery. It's a "tissue-weight" polyester knit I bought at I actually like the hand of it and it's not poly-icky but my serger doesn't seem to like it. I confirmed that the serger works fine on a piece of cotton; it just doesn't like the poly knit. I consulted my vast sewing library and according to "Easy Guide to Serging Fine Fabrics" I should widen the stitch. I had started with a narrow 3-thread overlock and even with the knife edge all the way to the right, there were still little "loopies" off the edge. So I reset the machine for a wide 3-thread overlock and while there are still little "loopies" off the edge, more of the stitching is on the fabric so I guess it's better. But I'm not satisfied.

Next I'm going to try stabilizing the seam with some paper. It's worked in the past but I don't look forward to picking out the bits of paper. I suppose I could stabilize it with wash-away stabilizer or spray starch and then wash it afterward. At least I know this fabric is poly and not rayon and it can be washed!

However, the bolero and the other top will have to wait until next week. My husband comes home from his work trip today (yay!) so I'll be spending time with him and not sequestered in the sewing room. Perhaps I'll work on some knitting while we catch up on TV.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Birds and bees

This morning I fed the cats, as usual. Then I saw the hummingbird feeder was empty so I mixed up some nectar and refilled it - after hosing it down to get rid of the ants. I had neglected to keep water in the ant moat and a "thousand" ants were having a party. Then I saw the pond fish were all staring at me waiting for their meal...well it seemed like it at least, so I tossed in a handful of fish food and they gulped it up. I tend to forget about the fish because they get a lot of natural food from the pond. I had bought about 10 inexpensive feeder fish a year or so ago and thought they'd all died because we never saw them. Then last spring we suddenly saw fish in the pond. Either someone snuck in and restocked it or seven of the feeder fish hid out under the waterfall for a year. While I was standing on the patio watching the fish eat their breakfast, a hummer hovered about 2 feet from my face. I was happy to see him but a bit startled - the blur of his wings and the long, pointy beak were a little too close! I guess he wanted to drink from the feeder and I was in his way. We've had a large number of hummingbirds in our yard this year. We have lots of flowers for them to feed off of so I don't normally keep the feeder full. However last month I filled it with the leftover sugar syrup from canning peaches and since then it seems we've been the rest stop on the hummingbird migration highway.

The plants and pond in our yard attract lots of birds and bees. We've seen some HUGE carpenter bees that could pass for small hummingbirds! If there were more room in the yard, we'd probably have bee hives and maybe chickens. I'd like a goat too. And maybe rabbits. That would be fun. A lot of work though.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Good: I'm almost done with my French skirt. It's from a pattern out of the sewing magazine Diana Couture, which is in French, and the fabric is from Paris (the one on the far left in the below photo). I'm really liking the way the skirt is turning out too. I started it two years ago, right after I bought the fabric, but when summer turned to fall I put the skirt aside because it was a summer skirt. But by the next summer, the tiered-skirt style was sort of "out" and I didn't feel like finishing it. But this year I decided to complete it because I didn't want to waste the fabric and also because I've seen a few tiered skirts in the RTW ads, so it hasn't completely gone out of style.

Travel Fabric

Bad: The "house" phone is on the fritz. The display on the phone says "line in use" and there's no dial tone, only a loud, static-y electronic noise. It's affecting the DSL (slow or no internet access) and when I turned on the DISH TV there was a notice warning that we'd be charged for not being connected to a phone line or broadband. Great. We had some issues with the inside wiring, which we thought we'd cleared up but either we didn't fix it, something else is wrong, or the problem is external to the house. So no internet, which means more time for sewing, right?

Bad: I'm still not over my killer cold. It's been 2 weeks and I'm still having sinus problems.

Good: I'm feeling better than I did a week ago!

Good: The garden is producing lots of fruits and veggies. There are hummingbirds flitting around, lots of little tiny yellow birds (Lesser Goldfinch, I think) attracted to the plants that have gone to seed, and there's a Black Phoebe who seems to have chosen this as her (or his?) territory. I would too - lots of plants and a pond with moving water in it. It's a nice environment that is very much alive.

Bad: I haven't been able to keep up with the summer harvest and haven't been feeling up to cooking anything. At least our compost...and the squirrels are being fed. I do hope it's squirrels and not rats. Someone devoured all of the little yellow squashes and also sampled some cucumber and they're also nibbling on the nectarines and white peaches. I moved the squash vines up onto a trellis in hopes that will keep the developing squash out of reach. Nothing I can do about the fruit I guess.

Good: The nectarines are delicious and haven't all been sampled by the wildlife so I've been able to enjoy a few.

Good: Knitting meetup tonight! I'm going to work on my Jaywalker socks. I have some sweater finishing to do but that's too tedious for a meetup.

Bad: I ran out of yarn making a baby sweater that was supposed to only take one skein. Dilemma - do I buy more yarn to finish the collar and cuffs (the yarn is discontinued so I'll have to find something to compliment it) or do I rip it and do something else with the yarn. I don't really want to add more yarn to my stash!

Good: Overall, life it pretty great and I can't complain...even about the so-called "bad" things. But I really would like to get over this stinkin' cold!