Thursday, April 18, 2013

Button, Button...

Looky what I found in a bin in our storage area of the garage. We went through everything last weekend, again, and got rid of more stuff! It feels good. I also found some stuff that I need, like these buttons.

I did a rather sobering exercise in time management the other day and have concluded that I need 48 hours in a day rather than the 24 allotted to us now! Actually, I gave myself a 15 hour waking day to carve into pieces. I figured that would allow time for a decent night's sleep which has become necessary to my health and good cheer. So, I looked at the time I had between 6 am and 9 pm to work with. Eating alone took a five hour chunk (3 meals). I cook from scratch by necessity and choice. I need to find some time saving solutions there. Any tips for a whole foods, gluten-free, vegan would be highly appreciated!

My sweet dog Twill requires a minimum of one and a half hours to walk throughout the day. There are extra minutes of cuddle time and such but those are always ongoing.
I have to paint and I would like to make a living at it. I am not looking for fame and great wealth, just a modest living. That means I need eight hours, six hours painting/drawing, and about 2 hours marketing. Those categories are flexible though. It didn't take long for me to fill up 15.5 hours a day. That did not include time for meditation, exercise, or day dreaming. Meditation will have to be part of my bedtime ritual and exercise will have to be included in the dog walks or beach hikes to paint.

There was no time available for sewing in the Monday-Friday schedule. Since sewing is necessary now, I have included a three hour slot in my Sunday schedule. That leaves about half a day a off a week to relax. Hmmm, not sure about that but it may work out.
So the point of all this is to say I will be sewing for three hours on Sundays. My top that I am working on has been at a stand still while I figured all of this out but I should be able to finish it Sunday.

In the meantime, I have three more books from my personal library to show. The first two are Lois Erickson books:
Both of these books contain creative solutions to belts and closures. I use them for inspiration and I am going to need that. I highly recommend taking a look through them if you can get your hands on them.
The last on was given to me by my grandmother. She gave it to me one Christmas when I was in college (my first bout as a science major) long before I decided to sew. I didn't appreciate it a lot when I received it but I am glad I kept it as it ended up being one of our textbooks in design school. It is a good basic sewing book that actually has a lot of good hand techniques. I believe this one is an earlier, 1976 edition. I occasionally refer back to it to refresh my memory on a particular technique. 
So, we shall see how the sewing goes on Sunday as well as the rest of the week under a new schedule.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Making Progress

Amy Butler "Liverpool" tunic top in progress
I have been getting little bits of sewing in here and there. I just have the sleeves, buttons and button holes, and the hem to do. I modified this pattern by moving the bust dart quite a while ago. I was basically just guessing on where it would fall on me, well more like an educated guess. I was pretty close. Close enough that I will continue with the top and finish it but I will modify the pattern again and get the darts just right.
I tried it on and the fit is OK but I had a huge realization, this style would have suited me better about ten years ago. Funny how that works. My tastes have changed and it took sewing this up to realize that. I am in for a long journey here. The top ties in the back and I don't like the collar. It looks too little girly on me. I have to add here, I am 5'2" and just about to turn 51. I don't want to look like a little girl.
I like the fabric which is an embroidered cotton. It may have a little rayon in there too as it is somewhat drapy and medium weight.
I am thinking I will eliminate the ties and change the collar and see if I can make the top look a little less girly on me. I probably will just move on.
This is going to take a bit of experimenting and searching until I find the styles I like and that look flattering on me. I will take a pic with me in the top when I am finished.
When I finished design school in 1992, the internet was just getting started and wasn't really mainstream yet. I was pretty burned out on sewing and pretty much put it aside. This weekend I spent some time looking around the blogosphere and boy how things have changed! As I suspected, there are plenty of wonderful blogs that explain the things I have mentioned and will be mentioning here. I like couture techniques and will be incorporating them in the garments I make. The ones that fit my lifestyle and taste.
Hmmm lifestyle, that will be a challenge as it is pretty rough hewn. Well, why shouldn't I have lovely hand sewn painting clothes? I am anticipating a lot of fun making clothes to wear for performing in with the band.
I went to our local library and browsed the new non-fiction section (usually my first stop) and I found the following sewing book:
Yep, times have changed since I last looked around in the sewing arena. I love all the changes. It is fun to see all the wonderful garments people are making these days. I really had no idea.
The book is pretty nice, well written, and the instructions seem easy to follow. I didn't find anything new for me but if you like vintage and couture techniques, this seems like a good one. I am not into vintage so much as the designs look deadly on me. The book also came with a packet of patterns which I didn't even notice when I checked it out.
I am not sure if I am going to copy any of them but I will take a look just in case!
That is all for the moment. I will keep working away and post the finished garment next.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Ready and ....Go!

Tilly and Twill
First up, here is my new dress form. Her name is Tilly which is the same name as the drawing manikin I have too. Tilly as in Tillamook. My sweet dog Twill is checking her out here. I live in the very north end of Tillamook County. Yes, the Tillamook cheese county. There is also a lighthouse out in the ocean named Terrible Tilly. It is an interesting bit of history and a great documentation on the folly of man.
Since a picture is worth a thousand words here is one of the reasons for the lighthouse name. Remember, this is a full sized lighthouse with room for a keeper and all.  It is now a columbarium (yes, I had to look that up!).
Tillamook Rock Lighthouse. Picture from
But I digress, on to my first sewing project.
I actually started working on this tunic top a while ago and decided to tie up some loose ends and pull it out to finish it. I have to back up a bit to tell the story of this garment.
In the fall of 2009, my mate and I moved to Ashland Oregon so I could attend the Ashland Academy of Art. Ashland is home to a world class Shakespeare Festival and is a pretty little city at the foot of the Siskiyou Mountains. There is also a jewel of a fabric store there called Fabric of Vision.
Even though my sewing machine was in storage during our year in Ashland and I was busy with school, I couldn't help wandering in from time to time.
They have wonderful fabric and supplies and they make up samples from the patterns and fabric they sell, like most independent fabric stores do. One day I saw a top made from this Amy Butler pattern:
Amy Butler's Liverpool pattern. Note the pressing ham behind the pattern. A thriftstore score.
Of course, I fell for the wicked marketing ploy charming sample garment and gladly purchased the pattern. The fabric I am using is not quite as crisp as the one in the picture, which is what I deliberately chose. I will have pictures of the garment in progress soon.
I did have to do some alterations to the pattern, and this was all before the recent arrival of Tilly. The top/tunic/dress has bust darts in the front. Bust darts are worthless for me. The purpose of a dart is not only to shape the garment but to release fullness over an area that needs more room, like a full bust.
Since I do not have a full bust, I don't need a bust dart and I find them unattractive. I did a little pattern manipulation and eliminated the bust dart, shifting the fullness to a waist dart. It is a neat trick and I will have to find some good illustrations to explain it for those who have never done that. It will be in another post.
While I am on the subject of darts and neat tricks here is another one I am pleased I remembered. When sewing the darts the instructions read, "Starting at the top dot (meaning top of the dart), backstitch as you begin and stitch along the marked guidelines to the center dot. Pivot slightly and continue to to stitch stopping at the bottom dot and backstitch again."
Here is what I learned in design school. Start at the "center dot" backstitch as you begin. Sew down to end dot and take the final stitch over the fabric edge. Do not backstitch. Leave thread tails, return to center dot and sew to other end, backstitching as you begin. Finish the same way. When the dart is sewn, take the long thread tails on one end and tie a square knot snug to the fabric fold, but not so tight to pucker it. Do the same for the other dart end. For single ended darts, like a bust dart, you just stitch from edge of fabric to the dart point with the stitch over the edge like above and tie the ends. Then the dart is pressed. Here is a picture that hopefully makes it a little more clear:
Sewn dart, before pressing,(from left to right) with thread tails ready to be tied.
I know this is hard to see but the dart stitches are coming from the left and ending at the point where the thread tails are. The purpose of doing this is that there is no bulk or puckers at the dart point and it lies smoothly over the body. I trim the thread ends close to the knot leaving about 1/8-1/4 inch of thread tails. I have never had a dart come out. If you are worried about that you could put a small dot of fray-check on the knot.
I had an enjoyable afternoon working on the tunic. It is storming out and the house would occasionally shudder from a strong gust of wind. All was warm and cozy in the studio with Twill curled up nearby. The ocean is roaring and the rain pounding as I write. The occasional wind gust sets the stove pipe cap to groaning as it turns in the wind.  I will have to go check out the waves tomorrow morning with an eye to painting them if the weather permits.
I will be basting in the ties and then basting the side and shoulder seams for a quick fitting. I will take a picture at this point and post it. The top has a collar and stand. I haven't sewn one of those in years.
After this project I am going back to sew some foundation garments and then work out from there.
That is it from the sewing room for now!