It's about exploring and sharing my creative adventures (mostly sewing these days) ~
~those activities that sometimes obsess, usually inspire, occasionally frustrate
~and always provide a delightful maze to wander through.

Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 - What I sewed, what I learned...

I haven't made it into the sewing room to do anything of substance for...oh... 3 weeks or so now... so I decided it was time for a bit of reflection on the past year.   This was my first full year of sewing since I was a (very) young adult, and it was definitely a year filled with firsts for me - lots of lessons learned!

The tally:
6 pants
3 jackets
2 vests
4 shawls, wraps & such
3 knit tops (only THREE??   What happened there?)
3 skirts (for Mom)
4 dresses (all for others...I guess I'm still not a dress person)
2 pairs of pajamas (for Mom)
A bunch in the misc. category - belts, bibs, bags, baubles, berets....

Not really quite as productive as I had thought (but still...that's more than 2 per month, not counting all of the miscellaneous items & alterations, so not too bad, all things [aka~life] considered).  Plus, several projects were...well...PROJects!   Complicated, time-consuming, but lots of fun & definitely rewarding!

The biggest lesson learned really sank home while looking through the pictures of 2011's projects.  I realized that the items worn most have been all of the pieces in the above composite pic, made for Pattern Review's mini-wardrobe contest, and my Jalie Jeans.   Both of these filled a practical need, and the wardrobe contest made me think in terms of items that actually, well, made up a wearable, mix & match WARDROBE!   I mean, no orphans!   Who woulda thunk it?

I've been trying to pay attention to this ever since the wardrobe contest, but I do get distracted by bright shiny objects, like this one:

Definitely fun to make (although it had its challenges, to be sure) but I still need to make some items that expand its wearability factor.

There were a couple of bright shiny objects that also fit into the practical, goes-with-lots category, like this faux fur jacket - Lois Ericson's Cosmopolitan (made in January, but pre-blog, reviewed at PR):

A number of items made for others were gratifying and appreciated (*whew*)


A new TNT summer top, the Collette Sorbetto, was added to my repertoire:

And I tried my hand at silk screening (thanks to Marcy Tilton)

Other notables were a FINISHED UFO (from 2010, no less...), an introduction to the fabulous new Ausie company, Style Arc, and lots & lots of fleece, including this cute little bedjacket (which has also been getting a lot of wear)

My first Fail: (sorry Chloe)

Balanced by another Style Arc Winner 
(I still can't believe I only made THREE knit tops this year - 
I guess 2010 was the year of the knit top for me....)

A bright new table setting:

My latest obsession with ties, which promises a fair amount of creative productivity in the coming year:

And, of course, the current project (not counted above, after all, it's still a UFO).....
I hereby promise to me & the rest of the blogging world, the Koos Coat will be worked on this weekend!!!!
And by the way...this coat not only matches a whole lot of pieces that I already have, but is part of the Stitcher's Guild winter 6PAC, which means that several other matching pieces are ready to go (the 6PAC may or may not actually get finished in time, but that's beside the point...)  I really am trying to pay attention to making pieces that can be happily worn with other pieces I have, or am making.....  Really, truly, I'm learning this lesson!

Here's to lessons learned, and more importantly, remembered.   One lesson that is always with me is the value of community - I remain incredibly thankful for my online sewing community (many of whom are now a part of my 3D life) - I am so grateful for all you have given me :)  

May we all have a 2012 that is filled with abundance in many forms, and may we be blessed with lessons that help us learn, and grow, and become more of who we can be.

Happy New Year, dear sewing buddies!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

All Tied Up with a New Obsession! (or two....)

The Stuff of Life has, once again, locked the door to my sewing room, but I will be getting back to the Koos Coat soon....very soon....promise!

Meanwhile, here's a taste of my latest little obsession....ties!   Ties!  And more Ties!

Ages ago I thought a vintage men's tie would have been the perfect item for some project or other (long since finished using something else), but alas, I had none.   So I've been slowly allowing them to follow me home whenever I ran into a stray, with vague ideas floating around the brain as to what I might actually do with them....

Then I ran into this delightful post over at Rhonda's Creative Life, and quickly whipped up one of her super easy obi belts:

This was perfectly timely, since I've also been obsessing over how to make some belts I would like (and NEED!)   A few minutes of hand stitching is all it takes, and it's truly a one-size-fits-all item, depending on how you tie it together.   I wore it the day after making it, and can't wait to make more!

This really kicked the slow collecting into obsession mode, and I now brake for thrift stores - and I know which ones charge as little as $.50 and which charge as much as $19.99 (for a used tie?  Don't THINK so.....).

I have numerous sketches and ideas for other belts, necklines, handles, facings....and I might even do a variation on the old necktie skirt....we'll see.....

On another note....I need to make some clothes to wear she is.....allow me to introduce....

Matilda Joplin!

I'll have much more to say about her as I come up with appropriate girly-biker clothes.  I'm picturing skirts -or skorts- a scarf flowing in the breeze, a cloche or some creative ways to disguise a helmet...   Of course, there are always the usual, 'appropriate', biker type clothes, but this is a girly bike, and I'll definitely be getting a wicker basket for the front, and I plan on dressing to the nines for certain biking occasions!  Like, you know, going to the Farmer's Market.....

I leave you with blessings and best wishes for the release of those dark bits of the soul that might be holding you back, and as the days get longer again, here's to bringing more light and joy into all of our lives....Happy Solstice Everyone!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Koos Coat - What I've Learned So Far

Oh, how I wish there were days when I had nothing to do but sew!!!  I am making progress, but it seems rather slow...especially when I think I'll be done with a certain stage in a couple of hours, and a day later, I'm only halfway there!  But crises have been averted, and I am, once again, really happy with how it's looking :) 

I do have a few notes to make, however.

Pattern Rating    
ADVANCED  Vogue's Definition: The finest patterns featuring the best of European and American Couture. Perfect for those who like the sewing challenge of professional tailoring and fine couture techniques. Expect intricate fashion shaping, hidden construction details, couture inner construction, fine touches of hand sewing and bias draping.

I don't know about the "couture" bit, and Koos isn't known for a love of tailoring, but in my somewhat limited experience, I have to at least partially agree with the rating.  I would just rate it "Not for the faint of (sewing) heart".  I do not, by any stretch, consider myself an "Advanced" sewist, so if I can do it (and I CAN!)....well, chances are, you can too :)

Fabric Choice
This is a lesson called "Do what I say, not what I did".   
I love all of my fabrics, really, I do.   But...... (biggify for the words)
I HIGHLY recommend choosing stable fabrics, all with similar weight and hand.   For construction ease, this can really save you some angst.   Of course, if you're like me, you're going to go for the colors, textures, and variety that speak to you, and just deal with the angst anyway.   Just don't say I didn't warn you!  

Also, I recommend a relatively thin fabric for the bias strip (mine was a bit thick....of course). :::rolleyes:::  Bear in mind that, once you start flat felling the sleeves onto the coat, you'll be going over multiple layers of fabric, especially when you start crossing the bias strips!

(Note that I didn't even mention the inside fabric in the above pic, which caused most of my angst......if you saw my previous post, you already know about that....)

Sizing and Alterations
It runs large.  I started with a Medium muslin, & ended up making a Small.
I only made 2 alterations.  One was on the Sleeve length, which I shortened at the wrist end, like so:
It's an odd-shaped sleeve;
I marked the shortening line to run perpendicular to the grain line,
& then trimmed the edges to smooth them out.  
After I had the body of the coat put together, one of those niggly little back-of-the-mind voices that had been whispering to me finally made itself be heard.   Loudly.  Notice the height of the collar on this model (who almost certainly has a neck that is twice as long as mine to start with).
I was drowning beneath this collar!   It either had to be folded over, or it would create its own fold all around the center of the collar.  Not a good look!  Luckily, I was still at a stage where I could unpick the stitching & cut down the height (by over 1")...I made an 'after the fact' notation on the pattern piece:

The overall length is closer to coat than jacket (at least on my 5'4" [almost] frame), much longer at the back than at the front, but I'm fine with the length as is.   You could just trim the bottom of it off if you wanted it shorter.   Which I would probably wait to do until after you had all of the piecing could be a little tricky figuring out just how it falls until you have it to a point where you can at least pin the body of it together.

Flat-Felled Seams
I remember doing these early on in my former sewing life.
Not much though, because mostly I remember hating doing them.  
Clearly, though, it was time to change my attitude, since all of the remaining seams in this jacket need to be flat-felled.   The problem (for me) was how to deal with 4 thicknesses of wool fabric being sewn & folded (making 6 thicknesses for the topstitching...even more when you start sewing over the bias strips!)

After trimming the inside SA to a scant 1/4", I decided to trim the inside fabric of the outer SA as close as possible to the seam line.   This means I would only be folding over one thickness, instead of two (Did that make sense?)
SA on the upper side of the pic is a full 5/8"
The next layer of fabric is trimmed right next to the seam
The two fabrics on the other side of the SA are trimmed to a scant 1/4"
 For the pressing portion of the seams, I decided to use a technique I learned when working with slippery silk charmeuse.  I folded the wide seam over & pinned it in place directly on to the ironing board, using glass head pins, & poking them in at a sharp angle.

Steam & Press it into submission, then let it rest until it's cool:

The finished, top-stitched result - I'm happy with it!  

I'll leave you with a shot of the ugly truth of the scene on the inside, soon to be hidden (hopefully!) beneath the pocket.  (But don't show this picture to anyone else, OK?)

Next up:  sewing the sleeves on to the jacket, making the pocket welts, installing the pockets, and ... dare I say it ... completion!!!!