Tag Archive | garment

Bad Habits – Cutting Corners And Skipping Steps

'Gee, I don't know. Can I see this in another mirror?'

I did something that I have not done in at least 15 years. I went to the store, picked out 6 pairs of denim pants in my size, took them to the fitting room, tried each pair on, selected the pair that had the most acceptable fit of the six, then purchased that pair of pants. This experience got me thinking about several things.

First, why was I buying Ready To Wear (RTW) pants?

As you can tell from the recent slow down in the frequency of my blog posts, life happens, and the only sewing that I have been able to do recently is a little mending here and there. Thankfully I knew quite awhile ago just when these life changes were coming.

life-change-aheadBecause of that I took the precious little sewing time that I still had left to make myself a couple of new pairs of work pants, but I did not get a pair of casual denim pants made before my time ran out. At the time, this was fine. It was still summer, and I was wearing shorts on my days off, but it’s starting to get colder now, and I need long pants to wear most days. Because of this I had to make a decision, either quickly whip up a pair of denim pants cutting as many corners as possible to save time, or to head to the store to  purchase a pair of denim pants. I choose the later.

My  first thought when I decided to purchase a pair of pants instead of making them was the famous minion refrain ”WWHHAATTT?!?” “You’re a seamstress! You have the tools, the fabric, and the notions! Get your butt in there and sew yourself a new pair of pants!”

'I knew there was part of the pattern missing!'

But, with the very little time that I had available to make the pants, I would have had to cut every corner possible to get them done in time. I would not have washed and pre-shrunk the fabric. I would not have finished the seams properly or completely, and I wouldn’t hem the pants to the proper length either. I would have just rolled the hem under and hope that it stayed with a quick ironing or a big safety pin.

This lead my next thought to be, “Is this really the way you want to sew something? Do you want to do a poor sewing job just to get the item done in the time you have available?” The answer was easy for me. No! I did not want to wear a pair of pants that were sewn that way!

deadlines-1p2cpw7There was a time long ago when I first started sewing that I sewed only for the end result, regardless of how poor of a job that I did. When I first started sewing, my mom, who is a advanced and skilled seamstress, trying to encourage me, would say, “Oh, it should only take 30 minutes for you to make that t-shirt”, or “You’ll have that dress whipped up in an hour.” She was trying to let me know that sewing was fun, quick and easy and, in no time at all that I would have a finished wearable item.

But, I misinterpreted my mom words at the time! I made sewing a timed event. When it took me 2 days instead of 2 hours to sew something, I figured I was a failure and that I was doing something wrong, so to compensate I would try to sew the item too quickly, cut corners, and skip steps to complete the project in the allotted time.

02d0fcf10d4a027a72e27973cf29abc7My goal was only to get the item finished in the proper amount of time. When I finally figured out that every sewing project did not have a deadline, and that I could take the time that I needed to complete a project properly, I enjoyed sewing a lot more. Sewing became fun and I began to enjoy the process, plus my finished items were of a much higher quality and they wore a lot better.

Another reason that I was willing to cut corners and skip steps to get the finished item completed quickly, was that when I was first starting to sew I grew tired and bored of a project. I just wanted it to be done and over with so that I could start on another project. I would often say “I should really unpick this and sew this again, but I’m not going to. I will just do better on the next project.” I quickly learned that when I did this, I was not pleased with the finished item, and I was not enjoying the sewing process at all because I knew I could have sewn it better.

SLIGHTLY Irregular Designer Jeans.

So, when it came to going back to poor sewing habits just to complete a pair of pants, I decided that I would rather use the little time I had to carefully sew a few seams on a current project, or thoughtfully plan a future project, or, if I just needed to sew,  I would just make a baby sleeper or two. For a needed pair of pants though, I would just see what the Ready To Wear world had available for me instead. I would leave the poor sewing in my past.

Hopefully, life will change again soon, and I will have more sewing time available to me in the future!

Until then, sew forth and enjoy the process on!

Why I Sew Kid’s Clothes

IMG_0016“So, how many children do you have?” I am frequently asked.

“None” is my reply.

This of course always leads to the next question, when the conversation is about sewing, “Then why do you make so many clothes for kid’s?”

Its a reasonable question and I will give you 3 good reasons why I sew so many kid’s clothes even though I have no children to wear them.

P1030369The first reason is my casual style, and that of the husband’s. I wear mainly shirts and pants/shorts. I basically wear 3 styles of shirts. A t-shirt, a collarless v-neck shirt (a baseball shirt) and a collared camp shirt. I don’t wear dresses or skirts regularly.

P1030399The husband wears tab front knit shirts and on the rare occasion a button down the front shirt both with pants and shorts.

So, over the years I have sewn many shirts and pants for both myself and the husband and I have our basic sloper patterns for these items fine tuned to perfection.

Over the years, I have varied the basic slopers with small changes to the designs, but basically it is still the same pattern I have sewn for us for years now.

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So given this, how could I learn any new sewing techniques and expand my sewing skills by just making these same tried and true patterns over and over again?

How could I learn different seam finishes? How could I learn about sewing with different fabric varieties like fur and pleather?

DSCN0533Why would I waste my fabric and my time to make myself a dress or skirt that I would seldom if ever wear just to learn sewing skills and techniques like gathers, pleats and linings?

There are no pockets on my shirts or the husbands shirts, so where would I learn to make different pocket styles?

There is no bias tape used in the construction of our clothes, so where would I learn to make and sew items with bias tape?

 

The answer to many of these questions for me is by sewing clothes for children of course!

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It has been my experience that kid’s are very forgiving when it come to their clothes.

They don’t care if the fit isn’t quite right. As long as the colors and designs are fun, they are willing to wear the item.

So, while I have been learning some great new techniques and skills while making the children’s clothes, even if it isn’t perfect in the end, I still have a usable item that a child will love to wear.

DSCN4123Plus, just how many shirts can I and the husband have with Snoopy or Mickey Mouse on them? I have so many fun embroidery designs and fabrics for fun kid’s clothes that I would probably never be able to use if I didn’t sew for children.

And how could I not sew and embroider up some of these great items for some children to wear and enjoy?

 

Reason number 2 is practice. You could also think of this as making mini muslins.

I wouldDSCN3413 like to make me a spring/fall polar fleece jacket. I want it to have a collar, a zipper, multiple pockets, and for the jacket to be fully lined. I have already purchased the fabric that I want this jacket made from and I have a basic jacket pattern to use as a guide to sew this jacket for myself.

But, I felt that I was lacking in the skills to sew this jacket. Skills that I need to be comfortable and confident using such as working with polar fleece, sewing pockets, inserting a zipper, and lining a jacket without a pattern.

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To remedy this lack of skills, I started out by making some smaller kid’s jackets and vests. I could learn and practice the skills that I needed to make my jacket by practicing first on the kid’s jackets.

I would waste less fabric if it turned out all wrong and I could repeat the skills that I needed to by practicing them first on the kid’s jackets.

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If you are a reader of my blog, you know that is exactly what I have been sewing recently.

I have made several kid’s jackets and vests. And in the process I have learned how to finish fleece seams, and I have learned to sew several different pocket styles, patch pockets, side seam pockets, welt pockets and others. I have practiced inserting zippers and sewing different collar styles.

And, more importantly, I have learned how to line an unlined jacket without using a pattern.

DSCN3898I now feel much more confident about cutting into my expensive fabric to make my jacket and in my ability to successfully sew my jacket together now that I have made all of these kid’s jackets and vests first.

In fact, I only have just a couple of more sewing skills that I want to practice and perfect on a couple of more kid’s jackets before I will finally be ready to make my jackets.

So stay tuned later this fall, as I might just be wearing a stylish new jacket (or two or three)!

Reason number 3 that I sew children’s clothes is that sewing clothes for kid’s is really FUN!

P1030564P1030560I enjoy sewing! A LOT! I really enjoy focusing my time and attention into the creative process and completing a functioning and fun item for someone to wear.

It does not matter if that item is for me, the husband, the house, the garage, or a kid, I (for the most part) enjoy the steps of making that item.

Plus, I enjoy learning. I learn from each sewing project that I make.

And, yes, sometimes what I learn and learn again, is patience!

As I mentioned in reason number 1, I have a lot of fun fabrics and embroidery designs that neither I nor the husband is ever going to wear, so for me anyway, it is just fun to sew and embroidery these fabrics and designs into clothes for children to wear.

DSCN3537DSCN3986As I mentioned in reason number 2, I made the kid’s jackets to learn and to practice the skills that I needed to make my jacket in the future, but each of the kid’s jackets or vests was very fun to design and to sew.

I learned from each project and for the most part I was pleased with what I made and what I learned in making them.

In other words, I really enjoyed the journey, from start to finish.

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Lastly, I really love to make something from nothing. I love to take the scraps from mine or the husband’s shirt and to make something from them for a child.

 

In doing so I feel like I am cheating or beating the odds somehow. I was able to take something that was useless, scraps that I could not use to make something for myself or the husband from, and was able to make a functioning, useful item from them.

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DSCN0389This is extra fun to do when I get to stretch my skills by using my creative process to make the scraps work in almost any situation.

So, that in very long form is my answer to question of “Why do you sew so many kid’s clothes?”.

With this complex of an answer to a simple question, you’re now probably afraid to ask any other questions, but don’t be.

In my own way, I will give you an answer that might be longer than expected, but enjoyable to hear.

Until then, sew forth and ask away!

Look WHOO’s Here For Thanksgiving!

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As I made my list this year of the many things that I am thankful for, I decided to include my fabric stash in the list.

YES! I am VERY thankful for my fabric stash!

Like a fine wine, it is a place for my fabric to age and rest until it is time to be sewn into something wonderful. It seems that the fabric I buy HAS to spend a certain amount of time in the stash to age and breath before I can use it.

That was not true for this fabric though…

Joann’s had a doorbuster sale on holiday fabric. At 60% off, how could I not buy some? Sitting on the doorbuster deal shelf was this cute Thanksgiving owl printed fabric. When I saw it, I knew I wanted a shirt made from it. So, I bought enough fabric to make me a typical shirt with it. Off I went straight home with it to the sewing room, bypassing the stash completely.

DSCN3819I pushed all of my other sewing projects aside and got started on my new Thanksgiving shirt straight away!

This was a very odd feeling for me…

Here I was ready to prep and cut this fabric within hours of purchasing it, and it had not yet spent its allotted time in the stash to properly breath and age. I blame the recently made Snoopy shirt for this reckless use of fabric on my part. After cutting and sewing such a precious fabric as the snoopy fabric, why not try using another recently purchased fabric?

I started the construction process by pre-washing the fabric and I am so happy that I did not skip this step.

This fabric shrank. A LOT!

DSCN3820I could still get my shirt from it but there would be little to no scraps remaining when I was done. After washing and ironing the fabric, I pulled out my collarless button front basic sloper pattern and the cutting process started.

Knowing that I had just enough fabric to make this shirt, I tried to cut carefully, but I did not cut carefully enough. I cut two right facings, and I did not have enough fabric left to cut a left facing. Since the facing on this shirt will not be seen, I thought about making the facings from a different fabric, but as I fiddled with the scraps of this fabric that was left, I determined I could cut the left facing from the scraps if I put a seam across the middle of the facing. Once again, since the facings will not be seen, I decided to try the seamed facings first. If it looked bad or was bulky or messed with the buttons or buttonholes, I could always cut out some new facings from a different fabric.

DSCN3821So with that, I began the process of sewing it into a finished garment.

The sewing of this shirt went smoothly. I have made this basic sloper many times without problems. When the shirt was completed, you would not have known that I had to piece the left facing together. The seam did not add any bulk to the front of shirt and it is in between the third and fourth button so no one will know it is there but me.

IMG_2870The shirt wore great as I gobbled down turkey, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie in it on Thanksgiving Day.

The shirt is very comfortable and I have received a few compliments on it.

So with that I will add one more thing I am thankful for this Thanksgiving. I am thankful to have a fun Thanksgiving shirt for one of my favorite holidays. I am also thankful that I did not make this fabric spend a year or two in the stash before sewing it up into this shirt.

I have wore it all month long now and with November nearly over, I can’t wait for next year just so I can wear it again!

Until then, sew forth and gobble till ya wobble on!

To Live and Buy in LA

IMG_1659I Love LA!

The lights, the beaches, the entertainment, the movie stars, the glamor, the shopping! Oh yes the shopping!

Of course it was shopping in the fashion and garment district that in LA that I loved the most!

I recently journeyed to Los Angeles, CA to attend the 56th Annual Grammy Awards show and the Grammy’s Tribute to the Beatles show, and then the next day the husband took me to the LA Fashion/Garment district (LAFD) to do some fabric shopping. Wow! I was in heaven! Even with as many times that I have been to LA over the years, I just hadn’t previously made the time to go and see the downtown LA fashion district. I had done a little research before I went on where I wanted to go and what I wanted to see, so I had some idea of what I was in for, but it was still very overwhelming. The beautiful rolls of fur, satin, silk and lace that lined the streets in every direction for as far as the eye could see made my mouth drool and my head spin like a top. My creative mind swirled with idea after idea. I was ready to shop, ready to buy and ready to create something ASAP!

IMG_0002-1From my research I knew I wanted to go to Michael Levine’s, so I decided to start there. It was a fun store but it was a little disappointing to me from what I had heard about it. It was a nice fabric store and the prices were reasonable. You could find pretty much any sewing item you needed. But, for a bargain hunter/stash collector, this was not the place for me. So I next made my way across the street, and headed for Michael Levine’s Loft.

IMG_1715On my way to the Loft, I stopped at a shop that had $0.99/yd satins displayed outside. I needed some of these satins for some current projects that I was working on. And while I was purchasing several yards of several different pieces, I found a fabulous knit for the husband a shirt but I did not want to pay the $7/yd even though it was a big name designer fabric. The shop owner said he would go down to $6/yd and I’m sure I could have got him down to $5/yd, but I just could not pay that price for fabric to stash in the closet, so I past on this fabric and I am glad I did. Because in the LAFD you just never know what you might find if you look hard enough!

IMG_1722We made our way into the Loft, and I was in bargain paradise. All fabric at the Loft was in big card board boxes and you have to dumpster dive to see what there is. All the fabric in the Loft is sold by the pound for $2.50/lb. I dived right in to see what treasures I could find but after several boxes, I could see that the husband, although being a real trouper, was starting to waver, so I decided I was done. At least I thought I was until I just happened upon a scrap piece of the the $7/yd designer knit fabric from the other store.

Now the hunt was on!

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Even the husband got involved in the hunt at this point. After digging though several more boxes and finding a couple more scraps, and it was still not enough to make the husband a shirt, we decided to call it quits on the hunt. But as we started to leave, the husband spied the desired fabric in another box, and this was a big piece of more than 2 yards in length that would be enough for him a shirt. I ran and grabbed the scrap pieces, which were about 3/4 yd each, plus some snowman lace and some black satin lace for lining, and headed for the scales to check out. I now have a little over 3 lbs of fabric, about 7 yards in total for just $7.50! Or just slightly more than the price of 1 yard of the same fabric from the store down the street. I was so excited! Not only was I going to get a shirt for the husband, but I would still have plenty of scraps for all kinds of kid’s clothes, as well as the snowman lace and lining, which was so light that it was practically free!

IMG_1718After leaving the Loft we continued to make our way down the street, and as we did I touched so many different gorgeous fabrics along the way, especially fur in styles and colors I had never seen before. I had already purchased way more fabric than I needed, because I really didn’t need any, so I started to bemoan the storage of my purchases. Why had I picked up that snowman lace? What P1040004was I going to do with it besides have it live in a box?

But then the husband said, “Why don’t you put it over some velvet and make a Christmas dress for the little neighbor girl.” I don’t know if he had this brilliant idea before seeing the next store, or if the idea came to him beforehand, but the next store had some beautiful crushed velvet for $1.99/yd. I promptly purchased what they had left on a roll of black. This is going to be a beautiful Christmas dress for the little neighbor girl. I just need to get it made now, in between my other projects and before next Christmas rolls around.

IMG_1731At this point both I and the husband were getting tired, and the purchases that the husband was being a dear and carrying around seemed to be getting heavy. And even though we had only been on one street so far today, and only in a fraction of the many stores we had walked past, we were ready to call it quits, or at least that’s what I thought until I saw the next store with nothing but notions. As made our way across the street to go and see what the notion store had, we passed a shop selling fleece so of course I just had to stop there too.

Outside the fleece shop they were displaying all of the different sporting teams fleeces, so we stopped in really quick just to see what they had. The salesman told us it was $10/yd for the fleece. That was not a bad price for licensed prints. He then mentioned that inside, the fleeces, although not licensed prints, were $6/yd. That was a great price so I had to step in just to see. The entire wall was covered with rolls of fleece 4 and 5 rolls deep. There were so many different prints, dogs and baseballs and monkeys and princesses. I started to pick out everything that I wanted and then I stopped. $6/yd was a great price but was more than I wanted to pay for fabric just to live in the stash. Seeing that he was losing a sale, the salesman piped up that if I would purchase 20 yards of any print, he would sell it to me for just $2/yd.

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What?!? $2/yd?!? SOLD!

As I began to pick out all the different prints I wanted, I happened to glance over at the husband and saw a tear in his eye. He did not want to tell me no, but he was not sure how I was going to get 200 yards of fleece home or where in the stash 200 yards of fleece was going to live. And he was right. I really, really, really did not need any more fleece! I have barely sewn up any of the fleece that I already own and so I put the rolls of fleece back and we headed towards the notion store once again.

The notion store was great, full of thousands of buttons and threads and zippers and lace. I was very unprepared to shop at this store though. I have white zippers for sleepers but did I need pink or blue or yellow? I need separating zippers but what sizes and what colors? I use three buttons on every shirt I make for the husband but what color or size would I need next? What color of thread do I need for my next project? What is my next project? My head was still spinning and I was feeling faint. So, I purchased some various buttons in sizes and colors that I use often and we left.

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Finally totally exhausted we headed back to the car, but not without a stop for a world famous LA Bacon Dog on the way! If you haven’t ever had one, it’s a bacon wrapped hot dog with grilled peppers and onions usually cooked on a cookie sheet on top of a shopping cart scattered everywhere throughout LA’s downtown street corners.

In the end I had a wonderful first time shopping at LA’s garment district. And I plan to return there again some day soon. I can already hear the monkey fleece calling me back!

And… ACTION!

I see where patterns are on sale again at Joanns and now that I have worn both of the shirts I made from my new Connie Crawford Butterick patterns, I thought I would report on the wearable muslins I ended up making from the patterns and how the garments/muslins are performing.

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B5503

The golden shirt I made from pattern B5503 is very loose and very comfortable and the fabric is so soft. It is a pleasure to wear but I do feel like I have a pup tent on sometimes. Even with cutting so much off the the length and width, it is still huge. This keeps me from wearing it to work or out to dinner but it has became one of my favorite hang around the house shirts. For some reason I’ve gotten tons of comments from people when wearing it about how much they love it so it must look ok on. As I said before, if and when I make this pattern again, I will use my basic sloper as the start and just use the design ideas from the pattern to spice up the shirt a little.

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B5583

The princess seams of pattern B5583 are wearing well. The first time I wore the shirt I was very self conscious of the princess seams. Would the princess seams show off my rolls that I so carefully try to hide? But, the more compliments I got on the shirt the better I felt about the way it looked. There are a couple of things that I will definitely change on the next shirt from this pattern. First, the front facings will be cut smaller. With such large front facings, I feel like the shirt has a steel breast plate in the front. The large facings make the front heavy and hot when wearing. Sitting becomes an issue too as thebreast plate bulges as you take a seat. Cutting down the facings next time will make this shirt a more comfortable fit. Next, for me the arms eye needs to be deeper. I feel a slight constriction when I reach in this shirt. This is an easy fix for the next shirt and it will make it easier to fit the sleeve in as well.  The final change is to take some of the fullness out of the back princess seams at the hem. I will need to give this some study before I make the cut on the next shirt. I may need that fullness to sit down in it.

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Embroidery

As far as embroidery designs go, check out the monorail design on the husband’s new shirt. Ooo, doesn’t he look sharp? It seems to be wearing very well and everyone including him seems to love it.