Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th (and Emery #7)

I realized I had a red, white and blue Emery that I hadn't posted: what better day to do it than US Independence day, aka 4th of July!

I don't usually go for red and blue together, but I really like this combo:  I think it's the way the specific shades or red and blue play off each other, plus how the white in the print provides some balance. It's from the West Indies collection by Jennifer Paganelli, and I believe it's called "Matilda".  It's from a few years ago -- I got mine on eBay.

Seven dresses in, what more can I really say about this pattern?   Other than I still like it a lot:  there are two (aaaaaalmost three) more of them completed since this one.    Have I mentioned that it's a fine twirling dress?  Good amount of movement, no real danger of indecent exposure.

It seems weird to have so many of the same dress, but I already bought multiples of favorite clothes, and my personal style doesn't really change from year to year.   And hey, Steve Jobs wore the same black turtleneck every day and everyone thinks he's a genius.  ;)  

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Strange Fruit Pacific Moon

Today is schmeebot's birthday!

From me she gets a skirt.  What a surprise.  

Perhaps it even looks familiar.  I used this fabric to make her a skirt earlier this year.  But for that one, I used only the green fronds.  Here I used (mostly) white ones.   I couldn't get as nice a match across the back seam. (Though I probably could have done a little bit better at matching the brown stemmy part -- oops.)

v1 -- we call this one "Leaf"
Why is this one called "Strange Fruit"?  Look inside:

It reminds me of an oddball watermelon.  I also added a label -- finally managed to catch these in stock at Sublime Stitching.   There wasn't truly any #%&!?* involved in the making of this skirt, but I think the label is funny, so there.

Happy birthday schmee!   At least I mailed your gift on your birthday ...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

When flowers attack (and a woeful tale)

I've been into big-ass flowers lately -- the bigger the better.  These here flowers certainly qualify.

This is the same skirt I've been making, just a touch shorter because the width of the fabric demanded it.  I did try a little pocket mod on this skirt, though.  I just happened to have a green scrap that matched the green flowers (and what is up with green flowers, anyway?) perfectly.  To make the tulip-y shape of the pocket, I simply attached the front pocket with a curved seam instead of simply sewing along the seam line.  The back part of the pocket gets sewn as normal, and when they are sewn together you can see the pocket back in the cut-out.  The only difficult part is that you cannot press the front pocket seam flat after you attach it to the front skirt piece.

Sad to say, the yoke facing does not match as perfectly as the pocket fabric.  A first world problem if there ever was one, I know.

This may be my favorite skirt so far.  I know I say that a lot, but that doesn't make it less true!  The simple switch-up on the pocket is fun, and I should remember to try stuff like this more often.
I wore this skirt to work last week with The Brown Cardigan of All-Matching-ness.  Seriously, I have since been going out of my way to not make garments that match this cardigan, with only partial success.

The skirt has a fairly satisfactory twirl rating, too.

Finally, my tale of woe. My serger ... it sergeth no more.  I spent hours on Sunday threading and re-threading, but no luck.  I've had it for five years, give or take, and nary a service in all that time, so maybe it's simply on strike.  Either way, it's off for an extended vacation at the sewing center tomorrow.

That would leave me sergerless.  Or would it?  

It's funny how I used to do all my sewing sans serger, and thought nothing of it.  Even when I bought the serger, I thought it would be mostly for knits.    But now I finish all my seams with it, and the serged edge makes a rolled hem super easy.  (I should probably try out the rolled hem setting though ... never crossed my mind before this post!)   I didn't like the idea of going back to French seams or unfinished edges, even just for a few weeks.

After 24 hours of pondering a sergerless life (for any duration!) I decided a "backup serger" was in order.  Given that I have nine or so "backup" sewing machines, this probably isn't such a surprising conclusion.    Anyhow, a Brother 1034D was duly ordered and I am anxiously awaiting its arrival.   I don't expect it to replace my original serger (a Janome MyLock 634D ... why do serger numbers end in "D"?).  But the Brother seems surprisingly well-loved, given its price, so I am hoping it will be a good stand-in, and maybe could become a dedicated rolled hem machine when the Janome returns home hale and healthy?    Once I've used the Brother for a bit I'll try to post some thoughts on how they compare.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Emery #6: Strange Submarines (and Emery #2 at long last)

Say hello to Emery #6!  

Worn to work with an aqua hoodie exactly the same color as the print -- I love me some matchy-matchy, I confess.

And look what is hiding in this fantastic print?  Submarines and mermaid tails!   This fabric is from Tula Pink's Saltwater collection.  I love this design for both its intricate detail and subtle cleverness. I wore this Emery to work last week and I wouldn't be surprised if nobody noticed the submarines hiding in the design.   Somehow it makes me think of steampunk, which is not a bad association.

Somehow this one came out a touch longer in the back than in the front in at both waist seam and hem.  I'm wondering if it's a screw-up in hand-sewing the bodice lining at the waist.  Possibly I turned under too much of the lining in front and it's pulling things up a bit?  However, it doesn't seem noticeable in photos and I forgot about it after I quit scrutinizing the dress.  Maybe its just the typical hyper-criticism reserved for hand-made items .... because I could have made it perfect, suddenly it becomes an obligation.  Sigh.  Given my lack of enthusiasm for hand-sewing (Emery #8 is waiting for some already!)  I will try to forget I noticed any irregularity: seems the easiest way to go by far.

Obligatory dress form shots.  The lining is pale aqua Imperial batiste -- it matches the print.

And here's Emery #2 at long last -- Lindy Leaf Emery.  Facings are leftover Lindy Leaf in another colorway, from this project.

Lindy Leaf is a little looser than the Emerys that came after it, and I need to try it on again to see if I'd be willing to wear it to work.

I did some jumping around while my husband was kindly taking my photos.  While most of those shots are total crap,  they really proved to me just how well this pattern fits -- better than any dress I've ever had in my life.   That's hard to beat!

And check out how green the yard is!  I hope it stays this way all summer.  Last summer was lawn-watering hell, just trying to keep everything from turning brown.  That said, I'm loving having a big suburban yard after 20 years of urban living, watering or no.

The feeling around here is still very much yay Emery!  

Monday, June 9, 2014

Garden skirt

I'm still on a skirt kick.   This one's the same as the sunspot skirt, just with side-seam pockets.   I looove this fabric!   Beautiful and also a very nice quality lawn: it hardly wrinkled after a long day at work!  This one's from High Fashion Fabric in downtown Houston, and I've been hoarding it for a few years.

The pattern match-up in the back isn't perfect but will do at a glance.   Lining and yoke follow the usual protocols.

Wore it with my trusty gold cardigan a week ago.  On a very humid morning:  the camera lens fogged over!  Let's call it an artistic effect.  We can say the same about what my bangs are doing -- ew.  

I've been wearing stuff I've made to work a lot more recently.   I think it's finally nailing fit on a few patterns, and realizing that I really like the same simple shape.  For me, color and print is where the fun is at.   So I may not be sewing many wild and crazy new designs, but I'm finally making stuff I can count on liking and wearing, which is a bigger win for me.  At least right now.   The downside is that I am running out of hangers ...

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Sunspot skirt

I've taken a quick break from Emerizing to make a few new skirts.  I think I've just about got my "perfect skirt" formula down -- really a matter of getting the waistband just right, since I like full, not fitted skirts.

Thanks to my husband's help (and a newfound interest in wearing my makes to work as soon as they're done), I'm also doing a bit better at documenting my finished items in use.  This is from last Friday early in the wee hours.  I had to leave the house at 7 freaking a.m. that day, so ironically there wasn't much sun to illuminate the ol' sunspot skirt.  Many of the photos came out blurry as a result.

Smiling and foot-gazing just like a JC Penney catalog model.
I'm liking the slightly longer length I hemmed this at.  It's actually the same skirt (modified from vintage Butterick 6075) that I use on my version of the Emery, modified to have front pockets (what's the technical term?) instead of side-seam pockets.  Just because.  The fabric's an inexpensive cotton lawn and I've had it long enough to forget where it came from.    (So when I say "inexpensive" you know I am talking about quality, not price.)

This was sewn with Mrs. Williams the Featherweight, as was several other of my recent projects.  So, the zip came out a bit crappy because I don't have a good zipper foot for this machine.  I put this one in with the regular straight stitch foot and it came out better than the one I used the low-shank zipper foot on.   The zipper foot I have is rigid, and this seems to make it impossible to get over any kind of seam, and what zipper doesn't cross a seam?  Ugh.  I could adjust my foot pressure but it's good for everything else and who wants t fiddle with that every time the zipper foot comes out?   I've seen zipper feet that are hinged ... need to hunt one down I guess.  OK, end rant.  :)  Other than this zipper thing Mrs. Williams' company continues to be a pleasure.

The facing's quilting cotton.  The fact that it coordinates so well pleases me -- the scrap bin gods smiled on this project I guess.  The lining's the usual Imperial poly/cotton batiste.

Have a great weekend everybody!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Anniversary Emery

Say hello to Emery #5, aka The Anniversary Emery.  Since I decided to make it in honor of our 20th wedding anniversary (now almost a month past!) I asked my husband to help pick the fabric.  Then began to waffle, second-guessing his choice and proposing alternatives.  But he was not to be swayed, and he was right, this was a good choice.

Naturally the dog and I have both managed to look like goofballs.  And I look like I am trying to meld with the jasmine on the fence.  But in more urban settings this dress stands out nicely, I promise.  I wore it for one of our anniversary dinners (we had several, because what the hey).

Not much to add on the making of, at least that I can remember anyhow given that it was done a month ago.  Looking at these pictures I did decide that the bodice might be a hair too long in front, even though it doesn't feel long.  So I shortened it ever so slightly for Emerys 6 and 7.  Otherwise the slight bodice looseness is intentional -- yay for a little easy, easy ease.

By the way, 20th anniversaries are awesome.  We originally thought we'd travel somewhere nice to mark the occasion, but decided to take a week to just spend time together and work on some home improvement projects that would make our daily lives better instead.  That worked out well.

OK, side 'n' back views and we're outta here.  Have a good evening, or a great day or fantastic wherever you're at in the celestial cycle.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Mrs. Williams' triumphant return

We're all rained in here on this holiday Monday (Memorial Day in the US) -- prefect day for sewing, and that's what I'm up today.   I finished up a dress yesterday (Emery #7) and am currently working on a skirt that I hope to be wearing to work next week.    But today's topic is not those sewing projects, but rather what sewed them.  That would be the Mrs. Williams referenced in the title of this post.  Here she is:

... also a sneak peek at Emery #7
Mrs. Williams is a 1947 Singer Featherweight gifted to me by my Aunt Dora while I was visiting over the Thanksgiving holidays.   (Aunt Dora has about as many vintage sewing machines as I do, but used her formidable "thrifting fu" to acquire her lovely collection for a fraction of what I've paid.)   Mrs. Williams was one of three featherweights in my aunt's collection -- they all have names taken from their previous owners.  This is how we know Mrs. Williams' name:

A service tag, from The Singer Company in the Cumberland Mall in Atlanta.  Wikipedia tells me that the Cumberland Mall opened in 1973, but no luck finding out when Singer was a tenant there.  Since the other information wasn't filled in, it's anyone's guess when the service took place or what was done.

I sewed a few projects with Mrs. Williams around Christmas time, after doing some basic cleaning and oiling, but it became clear that she had some thread stuck under the bobbin case:  periodically the thread would get snarled up and I'd have to stop and pull everything out.   Also, while the tension was "good enough" I couldn't seem to get the perfect balance.   Other than these things, Mrs. Williams was working pretty well, but I decided to get her serviced, rather than try figure out how to fix these issues myself (chicken).  However, I dragged my feet on actually taking her in -- my local service center will work on anything, new or old, but their turnaround time is at least a month.   Even though I have other machines to use (9 of them ...) I hate to leave my machines at the shop for that long.

A "before" shot that attempts to show off her pretty faceplate.
Then I noticed an ad in our local newspaper (as I was putting it in the bottom of the birdcage lol) for "Kimberly's Junk in the Trunk",  a local antiques store specializing in vintage Singer sewing machines, both sales and repair.  I checked the place out the next time I had a chance, and ended up bringing Mrs. Williams back there for service.  They told me the turn-around time is usually two weeks, but they had her ready in one.   And not only did they fix and clean every aspect of the machine (and provided a detailed list of everything that was done ... it was a lot!),  they also cleaned and polished the case, and fixed the original screwdriver that was with the machine (it was bent).   Now I am glad that I was too chicken to take things apart myself: no way would I have done this good a job.

It's nice to have Mrs. Williams back home and in tip-top shape, because she's become one of my favorite sewing machines.  Definitely different to sew with than my modern Janome, or even my 70s Kenmore 1931, which I also use a lot.  Someday I'm going to have to work up a big spreadsheet comparing my collection and what they're like to sew with ... but I wonder, is much of sewing machine enjoyment subjective?

I also gave away my Kenmore 1320 last weekend, to someone who is just getting started with sewing.   So, one machine in, one out, and hopefully good sewing karma for everyone!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

California Houses Pacific Moon

Couldn't resist making another Pacific Moon!  Since the doubled fabric experiment seems to have been a success, I wanted to try it with a quilting fabric.  Because if that works ... the door to whole universes of fabric possibility have been officially thrown open and who knows what might happen.

schmeebot liked the "Mod Houses" fabric I used for Emery #4, and I had barely a yard left over, enough to make a PacMoon and not much else.  I had to cut the pocket back pieces upside down, but the thing got done.  Pattern matching was out of the question, but I think it looks okay.  The print is also slightly off-grain, but that's not too noticeable either.  

To make the skirt the heavier weight that schmee prefers for hiking, I put a layer of white Kona cotton underneath.  Apparently the two fabrics together form a formidable opponent, because it made my serger cry like a little baby.  And by that, I mean both needles broke instantly and the blade couldn't cut it.  (To be fair, I have not changed my blade in ... well, ever. Maybe it's time?)  I ended up finishing the edges with zig-zag stitch on the regular machine, which is clearly made of sterner stuff than the serger since it had no complaints whatsoever.

I associate this style of house with California, perhaps because they look so darn good with the landscape.  Also, schmee is a structural engineer.  So clearly this fabric needed to be a Pacific Moon.  Anyhow, long story short (since this is PacMoon #26, after all) I really like the way this came out.   

On an unrelated note, the jasmine on my backyard fence is blooming and it smells awesome.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Emery #4: Deer Dreaming

Still no photos taken of Emery #2 ... it's deep undercover on a secret mission and cannot be recalled.   Uh, or maybe it's in my closet, but kind of wrinkled and I'm not in the mood for press and photograph it.  Not when I could be sewing Emery #7 instead!

Meanwhile, here is Emery the fourth, which is a rather psychedelic number featuring deer.  The fabric is "Oh Deer!" by MoMo.

The fit of this one is the same as for Emery #3, Mod Houses, but somehow this one looks a bit loose in the lower bodice.  It is actually, if anything, slightly tighter, and I'm not sure I want form-fitting anyhow:  I like taking deep breaths, eating, etc.    Perhaps the problem is that the front bodice is slightly too long?

Check out my awesome totally accidental pattern matching on the back.  I cut the back bodice pieces along the selvedges and it just worked out.  Hooray blind chance.  Too bad that in real life it will always be under a cardigan!

I promised (threatened?) to list the modifications I made to the bodice pieces.  (I used the skirt from another pattern.)  Here goes:

  • Increased bodice length 1 1/4"
  • Doubled width of back upper darts, and made them about 1/2" longer
  • Made the front and back lower bodice darts 1/4" longer
  • Used the size 0 bust darts, but shortened them about 3/8" (I made the size 4 otherwise)
  • took a 1/8" deeper seam allowance on the shoulder seam at the neck, tapering to nothing at the shoulder
  • Pinched out about an inch or so from the front upper bodice, tapering to nothing at the bottom
  • Took out 1/4" at the armhole on the side of the front bodice, tapering to nothing at the bottom
  • Adjusted armholes for a sleeveless version by making them 1/2" shallower, like so:

Cribbed this adjustment from vintage Butterick 6570.

... and probably some other stuff that I forgot.  I'm also sewing the side seams at 3/4" rather than 5/8".  All this for a pattern that had a pretty promising fit out of the envelope!  This may be why I like to stick with a good pattern once I find it.

OK final gratuitous shot with dog (though it's not his best).  Emerys (Emeries?)  5 and 6 have been completed in the time it's taken to get around to posting this, and #7 is on the horizon.   My photo editing situation has also improved, so expect to see photos taken with something other than iPhone and lots of gratuitous post-processing in future posts.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Double trouble Pacific Moon

schmeebot has received her Pacific Moons, so it's safe to reveal the "surprise" entry in the collection!  It's challenging to find good PacMoon fabric:  schmee wears these skirts hiking on windy Southern California hillsides (Or are they mountainsides?  Living in Houston I would hardly know the difference!)  Anyhow, we all know that wind + skirt = danger, so heavier materials are best.  Ikea always delivers, but it's nice to have other options.  

Hancock's had a 50 percent off sale on this super-bright-and-cheerful twill.  I spotted it, got excited ... and realized it wasn't quite beefy enough.  Bummer.  But I didn't want to give it up, and decided it was time to try a double-layered skirt.

This first attempt is orange with pink inside. Yep, the pockets are nice and deep:  schmee puts water bottles and such into them while hiking.  The cotton twill layers "grab" each other well, and behave as one.  I cut them separately, but otherwise treated them the same as I would have a single layer.  I didn't double the pockets and waistband, and I think that worked.  If it washes and wears well, expect to see more fun color combos in the near future!

The yoke facing was some leftover fabric from Emery #4.  Which I guess I still need to post ... soon!   I had to cut pieces sideways and upside down to get them to fit, but I did manage to get a deer with a bird on his butt on the back yoke.  Sometimes it's the little things.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Pacific Moons, Spring Edition

Time for a new batch of Pacific Moons -- I've just finished up four more for schmeebot.  Looking back, I made her just one in December last year.  And I had to go back to May to find the batch made before that!  I can't believe I let her go without new Moons for so long.

Easter sewing FTW.

schmeebot told me recently that I had made her 21 Pacific Moons so far, that makes the ones I just finished 22 through 25.  I'll show you 22, 23, and 24 now, but I'm going to hold off on revealing 25 until after schmeebot has received it.  I tried a little experiment on it.  I think it worked, but it is really for the wearer to judge.  Plus ... 25!  I have never sewn 25 of anything before, so the quarter-centennial of Pacific Moons should have its own moment in the ... moonlight I guess.

For these three, there were no new tricks up my sleeve, so there's nothing to add with regard to the making.  They're all Ikea home decor fabric, with quilting cotton yoke and pocket facings.  (Well, one has home dec fabric pocket facings ... didn't have a good mostly-white scrap handy.)

First up ... "Onion Rings".  I think Ikea intended flowers but that is what they look like to me.  Bee fabric I've used before for the waistband facing, and I got my rings matched across the back seam.  Go me.

Next up, "Moose in Love".   We've been calling the fabric that since it was acquired last year.  For the record this does appear to be two female moose,  However, I still maintain that they are in love.   Pattern match across the back not so good this time, but the design is so busy it's hard to notice.  There are words on the inside ... the fabric's called "thesaurus" and it was on clearance at I guess people don't like to build their vocabularies while they sew.

And finally, "Leaf".  No cute name for this one.   I did have fun with the layout though.  schmeebot says this one is her favorite of the three.  No picture of the inner fabric because at the time I took the picture I hadn't sewed it down yet, but it's the same ladybugs fabric I used on the blue skirt I made in December.  How boring, but it worked best out of what I had.

For those who celebrate, Happy Easter!    I love the colors of Easter, and the opportunity to celebrate Spring.  Which has finally arrived, it seems.   We dyed eggs in the backyard, while the dog begged us to go back inside.  Some dog.