Monday, January 12, 2009

My Sewing Back Story (in bullet points)

(Well, I couldn't get the bullet thing to work but you get the idea.) Here ya' go Lindsay!
Pre-sewing years
My mom sewed clothes for the four of us kids (two boys, two girls) like a mad woman. Just about everything we wore, and she wore, came from her sewing machine!
Sometime around 3rd/4th grade
I remember making my first dress that I LOVED! It was a sleeveless a-line dress in white pique with navy epaulets and gold buttons. I don’t remember anything about actually making it.
4th/5th grade
My mom and a friend taught a 4-H sewing class to my sister, me, and maybe 2 other girls. My first garment entered into the fair was a cotton knit (boy that dates me – it was cotton because lycra wasn’t around yet!) halter bikini. I remember the judges being rather embarrassed, and giggling when there were supposed to examine how it fit me. They basically looked at a seam finish and said, “Ah, okay that’s good.”
Jr. High-HS
I sewed as many clothes as I could and prided myself on wearing items that I knew no one else would have. (The complete opposite of my – at the time – painfully shy personality.) Never took a sewing class.
I LOVED this outfit! I made an exact copy of the red dress, with matching panties so that the undies wouldn't show. I remember this style be called a sizzler - the style where a dress is so short you had to wear something underneath to cover up the undies! Doesn't anyone else remember that?

The classic baby-doll dress/top.

(the original "Big Honkin' Pants" mine were just like the red, wide-bell pair.)


Started out with a minor in Home Ec. – textiles until I found out that I’d have to attend an extra semester to meet the Home Ec. Requirements. Took my first formal sewing class of which I remember three things: 1. My mom said, watch out, now you’re going to have to learn how to sew the “real” way, 2. Two classmates (twin sisters) whose mom was a home ec. teacher asked me to sew the gathers in their projects because they couldn’t get them to look right, 3. The instructor said the rule was to make the buttonholes in the same thread color as the button. I was making a red and white nightgown where the red heart buttons would be on the white front panel. I didn’t want people to notice the buttonholes, just the buttons so I made the buttonholes in white. The instructor never mentioned it.
First Years of Teaching
I have an income! I can actually afford to buy clothes instead of make them! What a concept! I take advantage of it for awhile.
The Minneapolis Years (80’s-90’s)
I started working at Northwest Fabrics – such a fun time we had! Eventually started a custom bridal sewing business part-time. Was a member and eventually president of the Professional Sewing Association (PSA, which I understand from Sharon is no longer around). Attended many Sewing Expo workshops with Patti Palmer, Kathleen Spike, Bobbi Carr, Margaret Islander and discovered a whole new way of sewing. Took pattern drafting and alteration classes from Laverne Bell, and the MCAD (Mpls. College of Art and Design), and beading from Kenneth King. (Have you seen the movie “Raising Arizona”? In my sewing life, these were “the garden years”.)
My favorite bow blouse.

The best summer play dress ever!

I confess, the outfit I made from this pattern was exactly like the floral outfit except in shades of rose/pink, and I wore it proudly :)

Mid 90’s
Move back to Cleveland to get master’s degree.
Gradually get back into my sewing routine – cut it out on Thurs. and Fri., sew all weekend, wear the new clothes that week. Until, I met my husband. Skreeeeeech my sewing life has to make room for a social life. Then my sewing life has to make room for kids, and some strange body that I have no interest in dealing with.
2005 Discover PR
Was shopping for a new machine, got the info I wanted and forgot about it. Am still sewing but nothing like what I was used to.
2007 RE-Discover PR
My sewing renaissance begins!

Happy Sewing to all!
fyi - time to post about 2-1/2 hours. Yikes, The homework will never get done tonight!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Day In The Life...

This morning my DD was the last one to wake up, last one to get dressed, and last one to get in the car all because she didn’t have anything to wear – she’s 7. The drawer for tops was full of tops, the drawer for bottoms was full of bottoms. This is a frequent problem that has yet to be resolved. Most of the problems are with the bottoms, and fall into one of these categories:
  • there aren’t tights to match the outfit
  • the elastic on the knit pants isn’t tight enough – she owns them but refuses to wear jeans or pants of any woven fabric, even if they sparkle
  • these pants feel like there are a thousand stitches against my legs – I finally discovered that the pants she referred to were made out of some french terry where the loopy weave is on the inside
  • the skirts are too dressy – what? I thought it was just the dresses that were too dressy?

What am I to do with this child?

Before Christmas I finally placed an order with Fabric Fairy. And look at this. What girly girl wouldn’t just to drool over this package of fabric?? I proceeded to make one pair of pink pants, a floral/patchwork top, and a psychedelic dress both from Burda 9627. In addition, I’d already made two skirts from McCall’s 5169 paired with purchased T’s and tights. (I don’t have pictures, but will share a quick video of her fashion show on Christmas day.) Today all those clothes were dirty, waiting to be washed. And, they haven’t really passed the real-world test yet, just the “I’ll wear it for the fashion show at grandma’s house” test.

I’ve never made an issue about how she puts together an outfit. It’s not worth the argument. And eventually her peer’s will take care of that. But when there’s a closet and dresser full of clothes and she doesn’t have anything to wear because it doesn’t “feel” right? Iyieeyiee (sp?)

Her final outfit was a white peasant blouse with dark purple embroidered flowers, an aqua and brown cotton geometric print skirt with a ruffle, black leggings, bright purple socks, and brown shoes with pink flowers. When we kissed goodbye she didn’t have a care in the world! I’m very sorry I don’t have a picture to share.

Feel free to offer advice or just share your stories!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Thou Wilt Sew a Welt

Of course now that I’m getting used to being home and all our celebrations are over (we also have an anniversary and birthday during the holidays), it’s time to go back to work!

So, I thought I’d end all the celebrations with a tutorial on welt pockets. I’ve noticed this is a 2009 goal for many fellow seamsters and I’ve wanted to do this since before I started blogging. Now that I’ve been around the www sewing scene for a while, I’ve seen a couple of tutorials (Kay Y, Adrianna ) that show basically the same/similar method so I didn’t feel it was necessary to do another one. But today I changed my mind! Not because I think it’s better than the others, but because 1. I haven’t seen anyone show it exactly this way, 2. when I used to use it (before my sewing draught) my pockets were consistently as perfect as I could ever hope, and 3. I haven’t made one for years and I needed to know if I still could. Here’s the teaser, just to make it interesting I decided to make the welts 1/8”.

At one point I timed myself and I could whip up one of these in 10 minutes. I used it on my “coat of many colors” for the pockets and (I think) for the bound buttonholes. I learned this method from a sewing colleague that learned it from a Palmer/Pletsch workshop over 12 years ago. The difference between this and the other methods is that it uses graph paper as a stitching guide. For this sample I used 1/8” graph paper which could also be used for ¼” welts. Hope this helps some of you overcome your welt fears – I know that’s what it did for me!

Welt Pocket Tutorial (Clicking on the word "main" will stop the slideshow and give you a chance to get a closer look at the pictures.)

Write more soon!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Last Garment of 2008 and ramblings

And I do mean I was sewing the buttons on while my husband waited so we could go out for dinner! (You can click on the PR list if you want to ready the sewing details.)
This is part of my SWAP, which I am sewing for but I kinda keep forgetting that there's a plan and a contest to go with these garments. I was a little nervous about using this fabric - it's a little flashier than I'm used to. But I love the way it turned out, especially the sleeves! They're nice and long and puffy. It's this vintage pattern. I've got more to say about vintage patterns, but I'll add that later when I finish the post I started about 2 weeks ago!

Sewing Wrap Up - I have no idea how many things I made this year! I didn't review everything, I didn't blog about everything, and I didn't make a single list (ahhhh!) about my sewing. Last night I casually tried counting by looking in closets and came up with 32 for me and 11 for DD, but that's just the winter stuff that caught my eye. Whatever the count, it was a good sewing year!

Resolutions - I made a fine list of sewing resolutions last year. I'm not a resolutions person, I mean, I've never made New Year's resolutions ever! And, if I could find the list I'd share it with you! LOL I know it's on my computer somewhere because I was checking it this summer and was surprised because I'd completed most of the items. The only resolution I can think of for this year (sewing or otherwise) is to try and balance everything better. I absolutely love my new job (now teaching HS band instead of random music courses like beg. strings, keyboard/composition, choir, etc.) but it is more time and energy consuming than what I've been doing for the past 2-3 years. That has thrown everything else out of whack! And I miss blogging! Every time I make something, I'm blogging about it - in my head - but it never quite makes it to the computer. Sigh. I haven't even organized my fall/winter wardrobe like I promised at the end of this post!

That's all for now. I'm already a day late posting this! Happy New Year to all!

P.S. - How much time do you guys spend contributing to your blog? I mean how much time would you say it takes for you to complete one post w/pix and links?