Tag Archive | yard

The Sewing Studio – Part One of Sew It Begins

It’s Ready!” That’s what I declared the other day as I looked around my new sewing studio. The machines were in place and plugged in, the notions boxes were empty with the all the notions stored in their appropriate baskets, and the stash was organized. It was now time to sew. After almost a year of not sewing anything, both the husband and myself are in need of new shirts so that is where I decided to start sewing.

You may have noticed that I did not say that the new sewing room was ready for sewing to start. That is because I now have a sewing studio. Now, it is not as glamorous as it sounds. Since my sewing and crafting has now taken up three rooms in my new home, instead on just the one and one-half as in my previous home, I am calling my sewing space a studio. Plus a sewing studio sounds bigger and better and more exotic. Who wouldn’t want a whole studio for their sewing and crafting over just a room.

I started my first sewing project in my new sewing studio by going into the stash room where I found just the right fabric for me and the husband a new shirt and retrieved our basic sloper patterns for the pattern stash in the stash room. After laundering the fabric, I took the fabric to the prep and cutting room, which is also the crafting and amigurumi assembly room. Here, the fabric was ironed and the patterns cut out. Next, the pieces were carried into the sewing room where the sewing machines and notions reside and the sewing of the shirts began.

It took longer than expected to get to the point of sewing again because I decided to unpack the stash from the many boxes it has lived in for so many years. I placed the contents of all those boxes on wire racks so that the stash is fully visable and readily accessible. I gave the “unpacking of the stash boxes” a lot of thought before I started. I had my picture organizing method in place and it had served me well for many years, but as I organized the boxes in the stash room and opening some to see just exactly what was in each one, I realized that having the stash on the racks was a better way of organizing and using the fabric than the pictures. The husband helped be picked the correct size, weigh and style of racks and helped me assemble the racks. It was then my job to unpack the boxes. I had mixed emotions as I unpacked the stash boxes. My emotions ranged from glee and excitement to see all the precious pieces of fabric I possessed, to terror and fear that I might actually be a true fabric hoarder.

It is great fun to be sewing again. Sadly, I feel that my sewing skills had diminished with the time off, but happily, they seem to be coming back quickly. I am super excited to be sewing and crafting again.

Stay tune for details on the new shirts.

Until then, sew forth and sew on!

Behavioral Economics

make0016IMG_3913I stopped buying fabric remnants at Walmart a while back now because the remnants at Walmart are only discounted 20% off. When the price of fabric at Walmart used to sell for less, it seemed like the remnants with the 20% off discount was costing very little money at all. So, even if it was a little less or a little more than I needed or not quite enough for what I had in mind for that specific project, it was easy to purchase them anyway.

But, when the price of fabric went up at Walmart, the extra 20% off the remnants price just didn’t seem like it was that much of a discount. To me the remnants cost still seemed to be expensive in my mind. It made you stop, think twice and look carefully instead of just tossing the remnants in your shopping cart without much thought about the cost.

IMG_3908IMG_3909Now it does matter to me if the remnant is too little, too big, or doesn’t quite match what I had in mind. The illusion of saving more or getting a deal on the remnant pieces just isn’t there anymore, so why not get exactly what you want and need cut directly from the bolt?

Recently while doing some shopping at Walmart for items other than fabric, I ended up purchasing almost every remnant my Walmart had. Why, you might ask? Let me tell you why…

My local Walmart was prepping for it’s inventory, and I just happened to be at the right place at the right time for once. All of the remnants in the bin had been marked down to clear them out before their inventory. Most of the remnants had been marked down to a half of the 20% off price. That was about a 70% savings off the regular cost. Some of the remnants were not IMG_3910IMG_3911marked down quite by half and a few were marked down more than a half. Regardless of whether it was more or less, the remnants were a great price and I did not hesitate toss almost all of them from the bin into my cart. I think the only thing I left in the remnant bin were a couple of pieces that I definitely knew I would have no use for, like a small piece of vinyl and some cheap fleece.

I hauled my treasures home and I have had a great time sorting and matching the pieces with other fabrics in my fabric stash and creating a sewing project for each piece that I purchased. I am so excited about the remnants that I purchased that I’m not even planning on storing these remnants in the stash. Instead, I want to get them sewn up right away.

So, I guess that is my cue! I had better get busy sewing! Winter is coming…

Until then, Sew Forth and Remnant On!IMG_3917

Another Bubble – Part 3, The Buttons

DSCN0544I was very unhappy with the serged seam that I got when attaching the bodice and skirt together on this bubble top. It is bulky and heavy and did not serge well. I think it is ugly. Even after top stitching it down to the bodice, it isn’t the result that I wanted. I had wasted my time and webbing worrying about the thread of the embroidery design under the lining being uncomfortable when this serged seam is far more of a problem that the threads would be.

One reason why this seam is so awful compared to the same seam on the first bubble top is the bulk of the bodice fabric. Rather than using a thin lining fabric for the bodice, I used the same fabric for both the top fabric and the lining of the DSCN0549bodice. This fabric is heavier than a lining fabric would have been. So by the time I was ready to serge this seam together, it was four pieces of fabric thick. Unlike on the last bubble top where all four of the fabrics were thin, three of the fabrics on this top were heavier fabrics, two of which were significantly heavier. It gave me food for thought on what not to do for the next bubble top. It also gave me another reason to make a third bubble top. If I am using a heavier fabric, I may want to do the stitch in the ditch type of seam rather than the serged seam to finish this part of the top.

DSCN0540Because I did not have the expected overlap for the buttons and buttonholes, I made the buttonholes vertical. But with the bulky serged seam attaching the bodice and skirt together, I could not make the first buttonhole as close to the seam as I would have liked. So this top only got two buttons instead of three and they were not stitched where I would have liked them to be. I don’t believe the button placement will affect the wearing of this top though. I think that part will be just fine. Even more food for thought on the next bubble top though. Perhaps I need to do the buttonholes before attaching the bodice and skirt, or solve the overlap problem first and then make horizontal buttonholes.

DSCN0533This bubble top was a huge learning experience for me, just like most of my sewing projects are. This top has convinced me that another bubble top is in my sewing future. I believe there are still things to learn from this pattern. Even with the issues that I will change on the next bubble top, this top is still very cute and I think will wear well.

I hope that some little girl will enjoy wearing it!

Until next time, sew forth and bubble on!

Another Bubble – Part 2, The Skirt

DSCN0543Sewing the skirt for this top was the next step. I remembered this time that I wanted to make sure and iron the hem before I stitched the skirt to the bodice. But after doing so I quickly learned that, no, I did not want to iron the hem before I stitched it to the bodice. Ironing the seam just smashed the gathers and flattened the bubble. So, after ironing the hem, I had to try to fluff the hem enough to get the bubble back.

One thing I wanted to do better on the next bubble top was to finish the ends of the serging on the seam attaching the bodice and skirt together. Because the serging is exposed and not hidden with a stitch in the ditch seam, I wanted a clean serged edge once I was done sewing it. After doing a little internet searching, I found two techniques for finishing off serging that I wanted to try on this top.

DSCN0157The first technique started with serging a chain of thread. Then the fabric is placed under the presser foot of the serger and the chain of thread is pulled around and laid on top of the fabric between where the needles will be stitching and where the blade will be cutting. As the serger stitched, the chain laid under the loop stitches, leaving a clean starting edge. This technique worked well for the start of the serging, but it would not work well for ending the serging so that is where the second technique came in.

DSCN0159For the second finishing technique, the fabric is serged right to the end, the presser foot lifted and the fabric pulled around, flipped over and placed back under the pressure foot. The next step is to serge down the already serged seam a couple of inches and then serge off the edge. This technique left a rough edge at the end of the serging, but not where the serging is exposed at the end of the seam. This technique worked well at the end of the serging but it would not work well when the serging starts.

So, between the two techniques, I had much cleaner looking serged exposed edges when finished. I still need to practice with both techniques some more before I would say that I am proficient at using either one. And so that is yet another reason that I will be making another bubble top in the very near future.

Next up, part 3, the buttons.

Until next time, sew forth and bubble on!

 

Another Bubble – Part 1, The Bodice

DSCN0533I love fabric. I love it so much that I hate to throw away any scraps. I measure and debate way too long about my scraps before they hit the garbage can. What could I make from these scraps? Is it large enough for another project? Will I want to piece it together with another fabric later? As I contemplated the fate of the scraps from my blue shirt with white sleeves, I decided there was enough scraps of the blue print and white fabric left to make another bubble top. There was not enough for a size 6 like the last pink and white bubble top, but enough for a size 3, so I reprinted the pattern and got started.

Because it has not been so long since I made the last bubble top, I remembered the things I wanted to do differently on the next one I made. While cutting out the bodice I added 1 inch to the back pieces of the bodice so there was fabric to cross over for the buttons. I also cut a 1 inch strip of interfacing and ironed it to the back bodice pieces to give a little extra support for the buttons and buttonholes. The rest of the top was cut the same as the pattern called for.

DSCN0538Since the bodice was made from the white scraps of the sleeves of my shirt, it needed something embroidered on it. The picnic ant design from my last shirt would work great and match the red in the blue fabric. Embroidering the design became the first step in the sewing process, which was odd. Usually embroidering a design on something I make is one of the last steps in the sewing process. I did iron some webbing on the back of the design to help smooth the threads even though there is a lining for the bodice that would hide the threads. This design would be against the little girl’s chest, and I did not want bumpy thread to be uncomfortable when the top is worn.

The bodice stitched up fine. When I had finished sewing it, I laid it out on the cutting table. There was a good two inches of overlap at the buttons. What had happened? Had I mis-measured? Maybe adding a whole inch was too much? I flipped the bodice inside out and cut 1/2 inch off my added inch and restitched. Laying it out again, I now had a 1&1/2 inch overlay. What? At this point I decided that maybe I cut the first bubble top wrong and that was why there was no overlap for the buttons, or maybe the size 6 pattern line was off leaving no overlap. So, I flipped the bodice inside out again and cut off 1/2 inch more. Cutting off the extra inch also cut off my P1040331interfacing so I had to reapply more interfacing for the buttons and buttonholes. I restitched the seam and turn the bodice right side out again. Guess what! It now had no overlap. What? This was going to require more thought than I wanted to give at that moment. The bodice was the same as the first bubble top. The extra inch had been cut off. Since I wanted to keep sewing and not solve this problem at that time, I decided that another bubble top was in my future where I would address the back overlap issue. Since I could not add the cut off inch back to the bodice, I would just finish off this top the way it was. It would just have the side seam issue of the first bubble top that I had made.

Stay tuned for Part 2, the skirt.

Until next time, sew forth and bubble on!

The Bubbles, The Bubbles

P1040493Hurray! It was time again for some fun sewing. I remembered many months ago that I had purchased some girl’s dress patterns from an etsy seller. One of the patterns, the Izzy tunic, was more of a top than a dress, but it was constructed like the dresses that I had just previously made. The big difference is in the skirt. Instead of a typical gathered skirt, this skirt bubbles at the hem due to a short lining to give it a full and bouncy look. I was super excited to make this top at the time I purchased the pattern but it got pushed out of mind by other projects at the time. Now that I wanted something fun to sew, the bubble top was at the top of my to sew list.

P1040495It was not hard to pick a fabric from the stash to make this top. I had purchased this fabric many years ago at a thrift store and it has lived in the stash since then. This fabric is thin and sheer but in this case that’s a good thing. This top is fully lined and the light weight would add to the bubble effect. The only problem with this fabric was that I forgot it was just scraps and not actual yardage. Because of that, this piece of fabric would not be wide enough for the the skirt. So I debated about picking another fabric instead, but then I decided to add a center and back seam to the skirt. The print of the fabric and the gathers of the skirt would hid these seams. Besides this was just a muslin of a new pattern, and the fabric was really going to be cute made up in this pattern. Because of the lack of fabric, I had to pick a different piece for the lining of the skirt. I found a sheer white that was the same feel and weight to use for the lining.

P1040328With the cutting complete, I started to sew. Following the pattern guide, the bodice stitched together nicely. One thing I did notice though was that the front and back of the bodice matched exactly. There was no overlap in the back for the buttons. To apply the buttons, I would need to pull the back pieces across each other, pulling the side seam away from the true sides where they needed to be. I picked smaller size buttons to help minimize the amount that needed to be crossed over to make the buttons and buttonholes. When I make another one of these bubble tops, I will add 1 inch to the P1040331back bodice pieces so there is overlap for the buttons. Note to self- make a notation on the pattern to add this inch to the back pieces of the bodice. Jumping ahead, after sewing the buttonholes and buttons, I learned that a little interfacing in these spots would have been nice. Although the buttons and buttonholes stitched fine and look good, a little interfacing there to support this shear fabric through wear and tear is needed. Next note to self, add 1 inch of interfacing to the add 1 inch of fabric where the buttons and buttonholes are being sewn.

The hem was next. To get the bubble hem, the skirt fabric was simply gathered to match the lining. Another note to self -remember to iron this hem seam before sewing the skirt to the bodice. I did not and trying to iron this seam and hem later and not ruin the bubble is difficult to say the least.

P1040338When it came to the skirt. I did not like the way the pattern finished the back seam. The pattern called for a scrap of fabric to be placed on the back of the skirt, a dart stitched, cut and the scrap turned inside to complete the seam. This step reminded me of sewing slit tab front shirts. Since I already had a back seam due to the lack of fabric in the skirt, I decided to complete the back seam like the other dress I had made. I cut the lining fabric down the center back, then stitched it back together, stopping two inches before the top. I then stitched the back seam of the skirt fabric together stopping two inches before the top. After pressing and completing the hem, I matched the top of the back seams, and stitched around the open two inches to complete the back seam.

P1040489To attach the skirt to the bodice, the skirt fabric is first gathered to match the lining and then both skirt and lining are gathered to match the bodice. I used the floss method for all the gathers on this top. It works well for me. Unlike the previous dresses with the stitch in the ditch seam to complete the bodice, this pattern instructed that the both the fabric and lining of the bodice should be sewn to the skirt at the same time. This seam was then finished with the serger, pressed towards the bodice and then top stitched in place. I could have done the stitch in the ditch seam, only sewing the fabric of the bodice to the skirt, pressing the lining up to finish its edge, and then stitching in the ditch from the front catching the lining underneath, for what some would call a cleaner finish but I wanted to see how this way would turn out. It is a far simpler way of attaching the skirt and bodice and was how I was going to finish the P1040491previous dress except I thought I needed to perfect the stitch in the ditch seam. Yes, this method of attaching the skirt to the bodice was much simpler and faster and yes, has a much uglier view from the inside but I don’t believe with have any affect on the wearing of this top. I feel that this top will wear just as well with an ugly inside seam as finished stitch in the ditch seam.

With all my notes to self that I made, you know I want to make this top again. My desire to make this top again is helped by the fact that top turned out to be absolutely adorable. I can’t wait for some little girl to wear it. Even with my changes to the pattern, I know the next top will sew up much quicker and easier and will be great fun to make. I am so excited to get sewing on the next one!

Until next time, sew forth and sew 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.

IMG_1707

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.

Picture 10

Picture 9

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!