Tuesday, December 30, 2008

End-of-the Year Ramblings

I've been getting my sewing goals for 2009 organized, but am reflecting on things I've done in 2008. Bear with me--New Year's Eve has started a day early in my house from a bottle of wine that was opened on Christmas Eve ;). I apologize in advance for a possibly muddled post.

Anyway, my sewing goal for 2008 was to sew--a lot! I accomplished that. I don't think I took any Patternreview classes, just applied what I've learned in classes I took the previous three years, many of which were on fitting or applicable to fitting theory (thinking of the dressform class). I haven't posted my sewing goals yet for next year but I've been thinking about and fine tuning them.

One thing I have noticed during 2008 is that I have relied heavily on blogs and my blog feeds for my daily sewing "fix". For a while, I would visit PR and check out virtually every review on garments and some on accessories. These days, hardly at all. Unfortunately, I'm busier, PR is growing exponentially, and the discovery of blog feeds has me keeping up with a projects from the infancy of the idea/concept stage to the finished garment. I find I like the story, the nuances of the project, the progression of the garment, the personality of the blogger--it reveals a much bigger "picture" than of just a review alone. I do check out the message boards on a daily basis, but rarely check out the daily gallery anymore. Is anyone else like this? Unfortunately, I do miss a lot of good sewing reviews, but there is only so much time in a day.

Blog posts are easily "digestable". We given a project in pieces many times. Step by step, with bloggers highlighting the fitting issues, special techniques, or problems they have faced. I have posted this before and will reiterate, their posts are an invitation to their homes to join them on their daily/weekly sewing adventures. And for that I appreciate it. Sewing is an adventure, a journey. I'm constantly learning something new from other bloggers and/or PR members.

This is just one of my many sewing thoughts for the day. On the actual sewing front, I cut the patch pockets for my son's jeans. I'd like to get them finished up by tomorrow. Lindsay also posted an insightful comment--it might be prudent to check out the store flyers--a pea coat for my daughter might be had at a great price. Oh...it's the proverbial Catch-22. I like her to see me sewing, get her excited about the process (maybe light a spark for the future in the deep recesses of her brain), have a smashing coat to her specs but it all comes at a price. Literally and figuratively. I can tell you I want a blue/black wool coat (the Paron's wool in my stash), with black leather welt pockets, and the special buttons I picked up at Pacific Trims. She just says, "I want a pea coat." Nothing specific. So maybe we should just look for a RTW one as she's not looking for anything special. "Special" would require ME sewing it. I'll wait a while longer and see where this issue is headed.

That blue/black wool coat I just mentioned with specifics IS a coat (for me) in progress. I would like to get the interlining done by the weekend. There are a couple of other coats in the planning stages. During the Fall I purchased the Vogue Pattern magazine, and there was an excellent article on coats. Made me think maybe I should have used Thinsulate, but I'll use what I have on hand which is the flannel. Time to pare down the stash!

Right now I'm ready to turn off one of the movies we rented tonight--Leatherheads. None of us like it, and we're a football/baseball kind of family. Everyone else went to bed, and the only thing keeping me up is this post. Certainly not the movie. BTW, has anyone rented the movie, "The Visitor"? I have to pick up some movies for the New Year's Eve tomorrow and Ghost Town and Eagle Eye will proably not be available tomorrow. So I'm on the lookout for good movies. They can be out of the mainstream, but I want quality flicks. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated.

One good thing is Penn State made it the Rose Bowl, rather than the Toilet Bowl this year ;) ! I'm looking forward to seeing them play.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The KISS Jacket

As in the Keep-It-Simple-Stupid Jacket.

In November, I started making the Green Pepper Oregon Jacket for DS#1, pictured at left. He okayed it for me, so I went ahead and ordered all the notions. Not once, but twice since I lost a stopper for the drawstring.

There are a lot of little notions that go along with the jacket. First, it is lined so I needed the lining fabric. Then I needed two sizes of velcro, the separating zipper, a zipper for the inner lining pocket, the shock cord, and the little stopper-ma-jigs.

While making it, I found out that I simply couldn't do the cargo pockets with 300 weight Polarfleece. It wasn't working. Sewing through up to 4 layers of this weight is do-able. 6-8 is not. My machine doesn't cooperate with all those layers of that weight. I spent my sewing time for one day doing some really nice cargo pockets, lined and with velcro closures. But sewing them to the jacket proved impossible. @*(#(*@(*#(!#@! So I changed them to patch pockets with a day's available sewing time wasted. Moral of the story--there's a reason why Polarfleece (300 weight I might add) is not a recommended fabric on the pattern. Then I got to the zipper guards. No, that wouldn't work either with the fleece. Omitted! Ditto with the tucks and cuffs. Simple sleeve hems work well and the conversion went fine.

So tonight I get the lining all done and am ready to put in the shock cord and DS#1 says, "I like it just the way it is. I don't want any drawstrings!" Okay. The jacket was done at that point. He made it easy for me, and expensive too. I put all the extra notions in the pattern envelope. DH will get one in the future at some point. So here's the finished jacket with no drawstring hood or waist.

I should have known--KISS! My boys aren't that fussy. They don't appreciate the details. The lining is really nice--a zippered, welt-style pocket on one side and a velcro patch pocket on the other. Things he'll never use. But it's done and he's happy so I'm happy. Now I have to finish up DS#2's jeans I started a month ago and set aside to work on scarves.

Speaking of jackets, an interesting thing happened today while in the van with my daughters. DD#1 asks if she can wear my black wool pea coat to the movies tonight with her friends. I say, "What?!?! You want to wear *MY* coat???" (Said with much surprise by her fuddy-duddy mother.) She replied, "Yes! I really like that coat and I want one just like it."

"Huh?" Since when has my daughter wanted a pea coat? I told her I'm working on coats in January, and she'd like me to make one for her. Of course, here's the kicker as she never wants something easy..."I'd like it in plaid." Okay, so now I actually have to plan and think about things LOL. She can never choose simple solids. And she says, "And I want a lining." Fine, I wouldn't make a coat without lining it anyway. And...(I'm sure there will be more requests for her "simple pea coat".)

I'm off to locate a pattern for the pea coat. If anyone has any suggestions (for a trendy almost 17-year old), please let me know.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Phat Kat Christmas Bag of Goodies

What's inside the Phat Kat Christmas basket this year?

I just mentioned in a previous post that it was a lean year. I always request a lean year and never got one until this year. DH always says, "I won't buy you anything big..." and then! I open up the credit card statement to find a big price tag LOL. Last year, some of the things he bought me included a big external hard drive and a wireless mouse and keyboard. Truthfully, I don't want a wireless mouse and keyboard. Dead batteries drive me insane and our Dish remote eats them up. I can't be bothered with my batteries dying on my mouse and keyboard so both ended up on his computer.

It's a funny thing how the sales were SO good before Christmas, followed by some even deeper cuts afterward. So this year I pitched the idea to DH about Christmas giving for the kids on December 25th, then maybe we (just DH and I) could exchange gifts on Orthodox Christmas the first week in January. Something definitely "small" monetarily speaking. He has Ukranian blood running through his veins so these plans would be appropriate.

Anyway, I did get a couple of gifts:

From my mom and dad: Kitchen towels and $100, an anniversary gift (money) but I haven't opened the card yet.

From myself ;): Pre-Christmas housecleaning yielded three surprises--2 pairs of long-lost scissors and seam gauge. They've finally come home! Those notions sprout legs you know.

DS#2: a multicolored beaded bracelet purchased at the school's holiday shoppe.

That's enough for me. It was a very happy Christmas filled with good food and family. And that's what makes every holiday special.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

My Christmas Present (Sewing Related)!

First and foremost, Merry Christmas to all my Christian friends. A belated Hannukah to my Jewish friends.

This morning, I received a wonderful Christmas present. It wasn't a material item, but rather a great tidbit of info from (I believe it was a pattern review) PR. One poster mentioned lowering the pressure foot before threading to engage the tension discs, or something like that. It has absolutely never occurred to me, nor have I ever heard anything about lowering the foot in relation to the tension discs in my 30+ years of sewing!

However, I tried that out today on my embroidery machine, the one that I was discussing tension "headaches" several days ago. Sure enough, lowering the presser foot before threading made the difference. I could feel the thread engaged in the disc when threading with the foot lowered. A sure WOW moment by such a random comment which has proved immensely helpful to me--kind of like an unexpected Christmas present. My closeup vision is still holding so I don't use the machine's needle threader. Maybe that is why? I think the foot has to be lowered before using the needle threader. Most people probably use it, and I currently don't.

So that was my present. It's a leaner Christmas this year and I stayed right on budget. DH and I didn't exchange gifts so that kept the costs down. And what do I really need anyway? There are always wants, but the needs are very few, if any.

Overall, it was a very nice Christmas. Other than the fact that I was "blessed" with a cold brought home by DS#1 who gave it to me and DS#2. We're coughing/sneezing, our noses are stuffed, and our eyes feel like slits with heavy lids. And with that thought, this is one household that is very ready for bed!

Hope you all had a very nice Christmas day!

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Bit of Heaven on Earth!

Isn't this such a wonderful sight?!?!

My youngest is working on his rice warmer cover. He made the cover and the rice bag as a present for his teacher. He picked out the monogram font and thread color which I did for him, I cut the fabric, but he used the serger to make the bag cover and rice bag and was quite proud of himself! He serged the edges of the inner rice warmer bag, but I had to do the topstitching on my sewing machine to seal it up. He wouldn't be able to maneuver the bag with the rice inside.
Here's the finished front. DD#2 picked out the fabric from Walmart for him, and he loved it.
The finished back with the rice warmer shown:
He also made a gigantic posterboard Christmas card for her.
Today I did a dance and wanted to give a party! (The dance as per Tamara's suggestion :) .) The last of the scarves are done and will be given to the recipients tomorrow. Here's the last batch:I'm so glad it's over as it seemed like it took forever. The total was close to 20 at my last count.
Ah...I'm SO ready for bed.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Last-Minute Details

The last scarf will be embroidered today! I think I've been working on them for two weeks straight so I can't wait until they're done. DD#2 started her gift giving last Thursday. They had a snow day Friday so she'll have to wait until tomorrow to give out the rest.

I went to Sears yesterday to pick up some tractor chains and went to Walmart. You would NEVER be able to tell the economy is in the dump and retailer sales are down. Every single checkout was open with lines that were so long it was incredible. I'm not used to just-before-Christmas shopping though. We waited about a half hour before reaching the register. Think I caught up on my celebrity reading/fashion info in People, Ok, and every other grocery line mag you can think of while in line.

Today the schedule is sewing, bathroom cleaning, gym time, and the kids cleaning their rooms. Gotta get ready for Christmas Eve.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Pulled in All Directions!

About 4 weeks ago I was having a conversation with my DS#2's dentist. She's a young mom of two, and we were talking about our daily lives. She said, "I go home, have a zillion things to do and can't even pick out which one to start!" Oh....I know how that feels. When the list is so long, which one do you pick first?

That's how I feel right now. Compounding that problem is that we had a little snowstorm yesterday. I bought a nice, new 24 HP garden tractor last June and bought the plow attachment to go with it for winter. Unfortunately, I didn't buy the chains at the time--didn't know if I would need them. Well, you should have seen DH and me removing the mower attachment, putting together the snow blade, then installing it on the tractor. I'm pretty logical, follow the instructions in the manual almost to a T. DH can usually figure out what to do but lacks patience. We were working with limited daylight hours, not always having the right tools, etc., it takes a while to get these things done and lots of interruptions in the process. So we're starting and bickering about things and I say to him, "YOU'RE the engineer! Can't you figure this out???" His response, "I failed Mechanical Drafting because I never went to class!" His degree is ChemE, not MechE LOL! You know, the only high school class I ever failed was sewing! Too busy wearing my garments to hand them in for a grade. What a great match we make, huh ;) .

However, we finally get it together and everything works fine. The snow is piling up as we're putting the finishing parts together yesterday, then he takes it out to plow. It works pretty good, but let's just say I need to get chains pronto. He kept getting stuck, then in typical man style, he doesn't listen to his wife. I told him let's just push it out. After a half hour of him trying to maneuver this big garden tractor with no chains, he finally listened to me. We'd stop the tractor, push it out, then get it going again. The job took twice as long but it's far better than aching backs for two days.

That took most of the morning and early afternoon. Around 3 we came in to start dinner and I worked on two scarves, one was a present to my daughter's pitching coach. I monogrammed the one end, and embroidered, "No. 1 Pitching Coach" on the other end. DD#2 had a lesson this morning so I was able to give it to her along with a gift card. Really, four scarves could have been completed but I kept having embroidery machine tension issues. It seem like the upper tension changes during the stitchout. I'll set it to a good tension, then my machine will make noise and I'll find the tension is really tight. Other times the machine will jam because the tension became non-existent. Those machine tension issues became one major tension headache for me. I was happy to go to bed. And I'm getting the upper tension loopies from time to time again. Really frustrating!

Let's see how my machine is today. Hopefully it will be a better embroidery day.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Finished Christmas Presents Part II

Ah...more than half the scarves are ready to get a new home! Here they are. They're made out of two layers of Wazoodle Microfleece. The ends are fringed and above the fringing on one end is the school name and mascot (blocked out for the obvious reason) with the sport of choice below it. The other end has the name of the girl and the graduation year.

One end...
The othe end...

Tomorrow I put the finishing touches on 3 more and cut out 6 more scarves to make.

Another pleasant thing happened today. I was at my friend's house giving her sewing lessons and she finished her second project. I'm teaching her the new concepts for the third project, which will be a draft dodger. That's what she wanted to make.

Here was her first project (pillowcases). I told her she could topstitch the band for a more professional, RTW look which she did.:

Second project (baby burp cloth with interlining)

An on-her-own project of a matching pillow for her pillowcases:

After finishing her first project (two pillowcases), she went ahead and made a matching pillow with ruffle simply by studying the design of one she had on her bed. See how she pleated the ruffle? Such a nice touch. As a side note, I taught her how to gather (instead of using pleats) and she was so excited about it. She's seeing the possibilities :) ! She just asked me today about continuing lessons after our first set of 5. That's a definite, of course.

That's all for now. It's very late and the pre-Christmas rush has me exhausted.

Finished Christmas Presents Part I

Here are my finished wall hangings for our Godchildren. Two will go to one (DH and I are both Godparents for our one niece, and one to our other niece as DH is her Godfather. I absolutely cannot remember who her Godmother is though.

On the back, I embroidered their names and the year. Pics of the scarves are forthcoming.

The blue fabric print was from Walmart and the embroidery designs were further embellished with Hot-fix crystals for a little holiday "bling". More later, it's a busy day.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

What Is Your Christmas Style?

I'm finishing up (the total went up!) 15 embroidered scarves over the next few days. They're the ones that are Christmas presents for my daughters' friends.

Concurrently working on Christmas wall hangings for gifts. Usually I buy religious-themed ornaments for my Godchildren but have been disappointed with the lack of ornate, fancy ornaments as of late. I've always purchased Hallmark ones, but the past few years have been a disappointment in the Nativity, Mary and Jesus, etc., Christmas-themed ones.

So using a coupon code w/sale from Embroidery Library, I purchased 5 new embroidery designs to make the gifts, rather than buy them. Which got me to thinking about the holiday designs I like. My taste is geared toward religious-based or victorian style designs. I bought two Christmas tree designs, one of the Nativity, one of Mary and Jesus, and another one of Christmas bells in a Victorian style. I was so mad I forgot to purchase a Hannukah design for my friend who is Jewish. I'll have to go back and find one just for her.

What I don't like are the "cute-sy" styles--Christmas mice or teddy bears, kid themes, Rudolph or Santa ones. Probably because there is already so much commercialism in Christmas, I tend to go the other route.

FINALLY, I'm getting in the Christmas groove. The butter is sitting on my counter to make cookies, the Christmas tree has been up since Black Friday, and I just finished taking down the rest of the Thanksgiving decorations. Tomorrow it is supposed to be warmer so I'll put them in storage and bring out the rest of the Christmas decorations. Even watched It's a Wonderful Life last night. I still have to take the annual Christmas pic of my kids in front of the tree though. That's like 5-minutes of torture, bribery, and threats LOL. I can hear it now: "Get off me...you're too close...you're breath stinks...why are you acting so dumb?...sit still so we can get this over with... Then they shoot out of the family room once I announce I have enough pics to choose from. Ah...the reasons why we haven't done professional family portraits in maybe 7 or 8 years? Doing it at home prevents 2 hours of parental insanity.

Right now it's wonderfully quiet. My oldest is in her room taking a nap (high school dance followed by a sleepover at her friend's house last night), my other daughter and both boys are down at the batting cages. So what's a mom to do? Turn on some Christmas music, fire up the sewing and embroidery machines, and bask in the holiday spirit!

Sure hope your afternoon is just as wonderful :) !

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Home...safe and sound.

I took my machine in today, and now it's back home. I took my stitch samples on various fabrics in today along with my machine. Their test samples right in front of me were perfect. So what's the deal?

I've been using the new dual duty Coats&Clark a lot, probably for about a year. I purchased a lot of spools in black, white, and beige when they were on sale at Hancock's a while back. Come to think of it, that's about how long I've been having tension issues. My machine doesn't seem to like that new thread. I thought it would be better, as in "new and improved". Well, maybe it is, but not for my machine. They highly recommended Mettler. Same price as the Coats&Clark with my lifetime dealer discount. I know C&C is not a recommended brand for serious sewers, but it has always worked for me in the past. Doesn't seem to be anymore with the new spools.

So, I bought several rolls of Mettler. So far, so good. I need to get another 6 years out of this machine :) .

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I'm bummed!

I picked up my machine today. Yeah! I was very excited about it. The stitch sample produced at the store looked good. I got home, set everything up, ran some samples and could not duplicate the results. :(

The good thing is there are no skipped stitches on my samples. The bad thing is my machine is still having some major upper tension issues. My thread tension ranges from 0-9. The 1 setting is the only setting producing an adequate straight and zigzag stitch. I'm using a brand new size 12 needle out of the pack on a decent weight cotton and linen blend--double thickness of fabric. The thread is no more than a year old--top thread is purple Gutterman, bottom is the new Dual Duty Coats&Clark in black. Ditto with other stitches like a sample decorative and knit stitch. A tension of 4 should produce adequate results for all 4 stitch samples. It's one of the reasons I took my machine in in the first place. Unless the roads are bad, it's going back tomorrow.

I'm majorly bummed about this. I have work to do!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Quick Updates

My sewing machine isn't ready :( .

The 6th scarf has been embroidered.

Maybe will get my coat interlining cut out today.

Freezing my buns off 'cuz Baby, it's C-c-c-cold Outside. Weather.com indicates 13 degrees at 7:15 a.m. For my metric friends, that translation is 32F degrees is freezing...it's way below that.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Moment to Relax

We all need them. I'm stealing one this morning. Staying home and not going to church this morning. It snowed last night and I just don't feel like dealing with snow on my van this morning. I was at church all day yesterday for my oldest son's Confirmation retreat too. I'm just plain tired. Last night I embroidered my 6th scarf and working on Nos. 7 and 8 today. Calling Pocono Sew and Vac later on to see if my sewing machine is ready to be picked up. (It's been 7 days, but who's counting...I AM!!!)

Yesterday I even made a chore list for the other kids to be done before coming home from the retreat. Here's a funny, and maybe not so funny story. I don't require my kids to do a whole lot of chores, that will probably be a bad thing in the long run. Between Sports, playing instruments, and maintaining High Honor Roll grades, that takes up a good chunk of timee. However, yesterday I was not going to come home to a sink full of dishes, a dirty kitchen table, and dirty bedrooms.

On to talk about IQ's. I know what my kid's IQ's are. They're high enough that they should make Distinquished Honor Roll every marking period. No excuses. However, I don't place much value on a stupid numerical IQ (and I'm a former teacher). It's simply an indicator of academic "potential". I know kids that have high physical/athletic "IQ's", high social "IQ's", high compassion "IQ's" and those don't get measured and perhaps they should. I especially admire people with high social and compassion IQ's but I don't want to digress at this point from my household story, which is a mockery of the academic IQ number.

DD#2 was given the task of loading the dishwasher and cooking sausage, the Jimmy Dean fat roll. So she rinses off the dishes, loads them into the dishwasher and starts the washer. She's so proud of herself. However, I had to go to the store after the retreat and knew we didn't have any dishwasher detergent left. So I asked her, "What did you use for detergent???" She said, "I have to use detergent in the dishwasher?" DUH! Yes, you do! Don't you have to put laundry detergent in the clothes washer??? "Oh, I didn't know that!" No, dear, you didn't.

That conversation took place after the sausage incident. I wrote on the chore sheet to cook the sausage with a little water in the pan. Well she cut the sausage roll up into cute little slices and covered (and I mean COVERED) the sausage slices in water. Those little slices were drowning! I walk in the front door and my husband says, "Your daughter is having issues with the sausage!" What kind of issues can one have while cooking sausage? Well she does indeed have issues. Here's the joke. The girl has a genius-level IQ. The same girl that once used a 1/4 cup of salt in a batch of fudge instead of using a 1/4 teaspoon.

So much for IQ. Like I said, it's an indicator of academic potential. Doesn't mean one is actually smart LOL. I don't tell my kids what their IQ's are because it's kind of a meaningless number for me. It doesn't factor in desire, motivation, and compassion--traits I highly admire. So next time she presses me for it, I will tell her it's a zero! Most kids her age know that detergent goes in the dishwasher and how to cook sausage.

'Nuff said.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Things We Do for Love.

Here's my daughter with her jacket on last night right after I finished the first hooping for the tennis racquets. Before bed, I had time to do the bottom text with her positions on the team for the last two years.

Fast forward to this morning...what's worse than picking out a knit stitch with dark thread on a dark knit fabric? Picking out a big, white embroidered letter on a knit jacket and avoiding getting a hole while doing it.

DD#1 couldn't have her school name embroidered on her jacket on two lines. It had to be emblazoned across her upper back on one line. Think rehooping. It's a knit. And a RTW jacket with seams all over the place. Not the easiest thing to hoop by any means. It had to centered right above the tennis racquets, and be look straight with the text below the racquets. That's four different hoopings. I'm no embroidery expert so it was a challenge.

The rehooping of the second half of the school name was VERY difficult! If any of her friend's want the same, they can have it with one caveat. It will cost $25 or $30, and the school name has to be on two lines.

Do you think she'll appreciate it her custom embroidered jacket? Well, as much as a 16-year old can. When she asks me to sew or embroider things, she always picks the ones that take a lot of time. And they have to be done "yesterday". DH said, "She's not going to appreciate it." So it's the things we do for love. Sans appreciation. At least it's done, she's thrilled, and it's another embroidery task under my belt. With each design, it's getting a little more intuitive with the fabric, stabilizer, etc. Along the way, I developed an easier way, IMO, to align continuous letters. I'll try to post a tutorial on it when I get the time. Although I'm sure someone has already thought of it already.

In other news, yesterday I went to a Dalco Home Sew seminar at Pocono Sew and Vac. It was interesting. I was pretty much surrounded by a decent number of quilters, but that's a typical disappointment. I sure would love to change that. But the info was good and I picked up a few nice tips. It was $10 and the store gave a $10 credit when it was over. That seemed like a pretty good deal to me.
Working on Christmas gifts now. No, Kim, I didn't get my machine back (sniffle, sniffle). Not yet. Just working on embroidery but that is good. It's keeping me from thinking about missing my machine. Off to work.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Pass the Official Stupid Stamp Please.

And stamp that baby on my forehead. :(

I felt incredibly stupid an hour ago. I've been doing a decent amount of embroidery lately and kept having a recurring problem--occasional looping on the top, breaking upper thread (shredding near the needle), and the thread jamming on the end of the spindle. It's been happening for months and changing the thread tension was not working. Changing the needle and needle types wasn't working. Ditto with the thread, it's fairly new anyway. I was almost ready to post the question about what to do about the spindle jamming, then a huge lightbulb went off, and I felt I had a brain the size of a pea.

The problem was likely the spool was placed in the wrong direction on my machine! I never thought about there being a right and wrong way. Here's the "wrong" way (according to my embroidery stitchouts). Notice how the top of the spool is pointing to the left:

All my problems were solved by flipping the thread as in the pic below:

Probably less friction, less hiccupping. And a lot less headaches.

Here's what I was working on when I had the lightbulb moment. It was a RTW Adidas jacket for DD#1. Her teammates paid $54 for a jacket with their name and a tiny tennis racquets on the front--a group team order. We bought her jacket online for $42, and she will have full embroidery on the back as well as the front embroidery. The name of her school is at the top (not shown), the tennis racquets in the middle, followed by the years and positions (my hand covering that) played on the tennis team. She is SO excited about this! I have suddenly become *important*. Amazing. Like Mom can actually do something useful and purposeful and...COOL.

This is the sample embroidery placement, minus the school name above the tennis racquets:

This is the same child that decided she wanted an embroidered scarf like her sister. I'll have to post a pic of the scarf tomorrow. After poo-pooing the idea of a homemade scarf with custom embroidery, she saw the finished product and demanded, "When are you making me one??? I want one!" Suddenly the scarf is now tres chic. I do think it's rather cute myself ;) . And for as much as she turns her nose up at my sewing machine, she was rather annoyed I didn't have it yesterday. She wants to take in her side seams of her tennis t-shirt so it is fitted to her curves.

Also, today was the day I started giving my friend sewing lessons. It went so well, and she is a quick study. Next week, she will be starting her first project, matching pillowcases. I gave her some homework to work on this week in preparation for it.

Tomorrow...work on the jacket embroidery. DD#1 wants it "yesterday".

All those comments, ladies, makes a good case for backup! Maybe a free, dependable machine will come my way. That would be nice.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Anxiety, Sure to be Followed by Full-Fledged Withdrawal

Today I stopped in a Pocono Sew and Vac to pick up some basting spray. I have to work on DD#1's Adidas jacket with some embroidery. Since I knew I was headed there after her dentist appt., I made the hard, VERY HARD, decision to take my sewing machine in to be serviced. (Bear in mind, I don't have a second sewing machine to hold me over!). I've been dreading this day, however, it is absolutely necessary. My upper tension disk is not working right (probably a lot of built-up lint), I'm getting some skipped stitches with straight, stretch, and zigzag stitches and it's no wonder really. I asked the store clerk, "When did I buy my machine?" She checked the computer and said, "2003." Ohh...has it been that long???

Can you believe I have never taken in my machine to be serviced? I wanted to at times because we all know a yearly checkup is the right thing to do, but parting with my machine is like taking off my right arm. It's constantly being used too. But I felt it had to go in today. I can do a lot of cutting and embroidery over the next week.

I felt anxious leaving it there. And I felt anxious at home. Give me two days and I'll be suffering from withdrawal symptoms for sure. Cranky, edgey, and irritable. You know that feeling when you think you've momentarily lost your purse? That's what I have when I see my sewing machine is not its proper place. So I have to keep busy and try not to think about it.

Now, if you read my blog post from yesterday about my son's Oregon jacket, you will know that I thought Green Pepper sent me the wrong zipper. It was a 2-way separating zipper (for some reason I didn't think it separated completely. When I called them today, they said that is what is recommended for the jacket. If the top pull is pulled all the way down, it separates like a normal jacket zipper. However, if the zipper is pulled back up to the top, the bottom zipper can be pulled up to allow for sitting room or a little fresh air. I didn't realize that! In fact, it was kind of neat. A new thing I learned about outdoor-wear zippers today as I've always used the standard, one-way separating zipper. The bad thing now is I can't sew the zipper on! I don't have a machine for a week...(Not thinking about it, not thinking about it, not thinking about it.)

Now I'm off to get started on some embroidery research.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ugh! A Temporary UFO

A few things with my son's Green Pepper Oregon jacket...here it is in a temporary UFO state.

First off, I was doubting the fleece thinking it wasn't right for the project. Gut instinct: Don't use it. But I did. So I'm thinking to myself, "Gosh, this is thick Polarfleece!" It was a nice piece from my Malden Mills mammoth remnant bag I purchased several years ago. There are pleats in the sleeves and the front outside pockets are cargo pockets with a nice, big center pleat. After sewing one of the cargo pockets, I went into my daughters' room to check some Polarfleece remnants in their closet. Yes! It is 300 weight... My machine doesn't handle 6-8 layers of 300 weight fleece well at all. Even a size 16 needle is having issues over the ultra thick layers.

On Friday I made the cargo pockets. Saturday I tried to sew the cargo pockets to the jacket. No way. It wasn't working. It is next to impossible to get straight topstitching with my machine on so many layers, and I simply won't accept that "homemade" look. What to do? Toss the cargo pockets (yeah, it hurt after all that work, sewing the velcro strips on, lining the darn thing, etc). I made patch pockets instead.

Then I had DS#1 try on the jacket. The sleeves were fine without the cuffs. The width was fine too without pleating the sleeve at the bottom. So I will have simple sleeves, no pleats. Another design change made for the fabric used.

Next up, the zipper. Forget the zipper guards. It's just not going to work with the fabric layers. So I changed the style to a center zip. I chalk mark my front where I want the zipper and take the zipper out of my supply pack. Green Pepper sent me the WRONG ZIPPER--ARGHHH!!! It's a separating zipper all right. Only it's 2-way. I specifically asked about the 28" black separating zipper for the Oregon jacket. I didn't see that size for the type of zipper needed for the jacket on their website brochure. So I'll call tomorrow for a new one. In addition, I lost one of the 45 cent cord toggles so I'll have to get that too.

The jacket now sits about 2/3's finished on my couch. The lining has been stored inside the jacket. Darn. I was really hoping to finish this jacket by tomorrow, and it's not going to happen now. It's an unfinished, temporary UFO. So I'll wait and work on Christmas presents for the girls friends and embroidery for DD#1's new jacket. Maybe clean out my sewing machine too. It's a lint-ey mess inside.

Thanks, fellow bloggers, for your comments on my last post. That sewing level stuff bothers me like an itch I can't scratch.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Feel the Fear...Wait! What Fear???

These are just some sewing thoughts brewing in my head. After reading a few different threads over at Patternreview, it got me to thinking (I can already hear my wonderful DH saying, "Oh no..." ; LOL ) There are always those threads where people ask, "What skills do you think one should have to rate themselves Beginner, Adv. Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and Expert?" Truly, I think it is a matter of perspective, not necessarily skills per se.

My own view of what determines those levels will vary greatly from someone else's view. I call myself an Intermediate level sewer because there is ALWAYS something to learn. Always new machines with new bells and whistles. Always new notions coming out to use, and new fabrics to be used. My classification is based not on what I know, but how I feel in the vast world of sewing. Technically, I can do and have done many techniques of what people consider "Advanced". But do I feel advanced? No. I'm always humbled by the works of others when I get that feeling like I'm doing real well. There are always many sewing moments where I say to myself, "Wow! I never thought of doing it that way."

What has been on my mind lately is a thread about an Advanced Beginner doing welt pockets. But this same issue applies to bound buttonholes, bagging a lining, or other sewing tasks perceived as difficult (aka "advanced"). Why do people think these things are hard? Technically, they are very easy. IMO, (using a bound buttonhole as an example) one just needs to perfect a straight stitching line, be as accurate with measuring as possible, and have the right tools (like great scissors that can cut right to the point), have good instructions, etc. to get the job done.

In this respect, I find the Internet has done many beginning sewers a disservice. There are simply too many people categorizing specific sewing activities as Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. In addition, the "fear" factor has become standard, almost a "rite of passage", for techniques some consider advanced. Gotta thank the Internet for that. Personally, I think a good Advanced Beginner can learn how to do a neat and tidy welt pocket rather easily with the right tools and the ability of precise, straight stitching. That is simply practice. And no fear!

I bagged several linings as a newbie sewer. I started doing some serious sewing in 8th grade and by 10th grade was working on blazers with bagged linings. I never thought about them being hard. What I did think was, "Is this really going to work when I turn it right side out?" And amazingly it did! I didn't have the Internet, didn't have any sewing books, didn't have a mother to rely on for sewing info (my mother did not sew other than fixing a hem or sewing on a button). One of my older sisters did sew and was very good, however, she simply wasn't around much as she was 6 years old than me. She was away at college while I was working on blazers. The only thing I did have to help me was good directions from a Big 4 pattern. And everything turned out fine. My only disgust with most of my sewing projects was using my mother's piece-o-sh** machine that she rarely used, never had serviced, and was about 15-20 years old.

Nothing seemed to hard for me. Consider it naivete. Or maybe simply youth. There's something to be said for make-it-work sewing. There were no classifications in my little sewing world of "Beginner", "Intermediate", or "Advanced" and for that I'm grateful. Imagine the things I would have passed over simply because I would have categorized myself as a Beginner sewer when I was in 10th grade.

The Internet does much good. There's so much knowledge out there and it has improved my sewing skills tremendously because of it. At the same time it is discouraging. Not for me, but for others. I want to shake people when they feel something is hard or might be hard. They had to hear it was hard from somewhere. I want to scream at them, "Try It! It's not as hard as you think!!! In fact, it's kind of easy."

I think for the first time, I realized that I do not like sewing classifications, and I'm thinking of removing mine. It's almost like a hold-up label for some folks, like if you're an Adv. Beginner you can't do welt pockets. Which is entirely untrue. So I'm mulling it over. Sometimes classifications are good, but when it promotes fear or self doubt and possibly holds back a sewer from working on a project, that's when I want to do away with them. Let's see where I am in a week with this thought. Although I'm leaning toward removing my classification.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Quick Jacket Update

DS#1's Oregon jacket is moving right along. I was working on the front cargo pockets today and almost have them finished. I tell you--the fleece is ultra thick and a royal pain to stitch. So many layers that it makes my machine balk. Between the seam allowances (yes trimmed!) and fabric, there are up to 6-8 layers of fleece in certain places. If stitching them on proves an almost impossible task, I'll consider leaving them off and creating side seam pockets. Once I get the cargo pockets on, the rest of the assembly should be a piece of cake.

This issue is my own doing. I knew I'd have this problem as fleece is not a recommended fabric for this pattern. Sometimes it is better to leave certain things off due to fabric differences so I'll see tomorrow how the pockets go. And how determined I feel to make it work.

With all the time I'm investing in this jacket, the dreaded phrase, "I don't know if I like it" haunts me. If my son says that when he tries it on, he's in his room for a month! ;)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day!

My tummy has expanded! It is FULL!!! And for the first time we didn't have any family visit, nor did we have to travel anywhere. This is my mom and dad's "year off" and they went to Florida for Thanksgiving. My MIL went to Florida as well. The day was very relaxing except for DS#2 having stomach "issues" today. His demeanor is absolutely fine, but his tummy is not cooperating today.

My son was sitting next to DH this morning as I was getting ready to go to the gym. Just as I walk by the couch, DS#2 runs to get up and vomits right on my shirt and the floor (okay--carpet :( !!!). Can you believe it??? I don't care if he gets sick on the kitchen floor, but not my carpet. My shirt? Oh well, that's easy to change. Anyway...other than that it was fine. He was so upset about it though. I put the turkey in the oven, went to the gym, then went to buy him some ginger ale. I raced home to set up the dessert table for our 11 a.m. dessert buffet.

And on the dessert table:

  • Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie
  • Chocolate Cream Pie
  • Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie
  • Blueberry Pie
  • Pumpkin Roll

Three hours later...our menu for the day:

  • Turkey, of course, with gravy and Stuffing
  • Mashed potatoes and Sweet Potato Puff
  • Corn and Green Bean Casserole
  • Artichoke Spinach Dip with Bread Rolls
  • Cranberry Sauce and Salad

Thanksgiving is a huge day for me with cooking and baking. I don't get much of a reprieve because of DS#1's food allergy. So all the desserts need to be homemade, as well as most of the main menu items. It's also my favorite holiday. The only holiday where we simply enjoy eating. No mention of presents, no rushing, nothing hectic, just enjoying each other.

Since we are home all day, I'm working on doing a review of the nightpants/sweatpants I've made over the past two months. They are all done and I'm putting the pattern away. Finally. I love the pattern, Simplicity , as it is so useful. It is really a nightpants/lounge pants pattern for wovens, but I used it for sweatpants too and narrowed the legs so they weren't as wide. Here's the pic of the pattern:

Bear in mind, DD#2 picked up the Junior-sized pattern by accident. But it actually worked out quite well for both of us.

Here are the nightpants I made for DD#2 which didn't fit her. They became mine :) .

Then I made another pair for myself and DD#2 out of the green, astroturf fleece. I showed her wearing her pair a few days ago, but here are mine:

Here's the back view. I really like that back. No baggy butt or major wrinkles. I used Joyce Murphy's Body Space method on the green pair and cut the crotch curve to match my flexible curve ruler after checking what my crotch curve should be. I have a pants draft that needs to be stitched up using the same method. It's ready to go, I just have too little time to get started on the pants right now.

Then I made three pairs of sweatpants for her. She is too busy to model them so I had to put them on. She likes her waistband low in the front so pardon my belly button. (I will admit photo surgery on my belly button LOL. It is simply not suitable in it's natural form and will provide NO viewing pleasure. A little smudging with the smudge tool and my belly button returns to it's pre-baby smoothness and shape.)

Here's the grey and red pairs:

Here's the black pair--no embroidery on those and she can't find them right now. But here they are on the couch:

Last but not least, here is a product I discovered at Pocono Sew and Vac. I was having some issues with fabric show-through on my embroidery letters on the pants. The ever-knowledgeable staff recommended this black vinyl which is placed on top of the fabric while it is stitching. It is then torn off, much like tearaway stabilizer. I also used it on the design that Mary digitized for me. It comes in different colors, but the ones available at the store are black and white. They offered to order me the right color, but I used the black because I was short on time with the Chinese Auction quilt. But the vinyl also came in very handy with the pants letters.

The other embroidery tip I learned while doing the pants was something I learned from Embroidery Library. I applied Washaway Wonder Tape to the sides of the upper hoop. I placed my fabric (with chalk-marked centering lines) underneath the upper hoop aligning the chalk lines with the centering guides on the upper hoop. I pressed down onto the fabric firmly so the Wonder Tape on the four sides of the upper hoop adhered to the fabric. When I pressed this down into the lower hoop, there was no shifting of the fabric. Best thing about this method? The Wonder Tape washes away. It is supposedly good for 5 or 6 hoopings, but I found it to be effective only two times with the fleece. That's okay. Stick the plastic hoop under the faucet and wash away the adhesive for the next time.

That's all for now. I'm working on finishing a post I started several days ago but it's not done yet. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy whatever your plans are for Black Friday.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pre-Thanksgiving Sewing

Tonight I finished up the jacket lining for DS#1's Green Pepper Oregon Jacket. Here it is on the couch:

This is absolutely a terrific jacket pattern! The instructions are so wonderfully written, the kind that makes you wish all patterns were written this way. Very detailed and leaves nothing to the imagination. The only thing I don't like about this project is that my son will not appreciate all the little pattern details like the ones shown in the photo above--the velcro pocket on the left and the zippered pocket on the right. And that's in the lining! Really, I should have left those out. I will be absolutely amazed if he ever uses them. DH, on the other hand, would appreciate those things. I will be making this jacket again for him, so I guess all these little details will make me prepared for his when I get to it.

Also, while doing the velcro pocket on the front lining piece, I really discovered how much I love Washaway Wonder Tape. I used it to attach the velcro pieces in an exact position on the lining which made stitching them to the fabric so easy. No shifting, no fussy-ness. Really very pleasant and that's how sewing should be :) . Here is a pick of the marked position (in light pencil) where the velcro should be placed. The Wonder Tape was just applied to the back of the velcro, ready for the strip to be removed to adhere it onto the jacket front. Wonder Tape is exactly that--a wonder! I just love that stuff.

Now I have to mix the creme filling for my pumpkin roll. To all my US sewing cohorts--Happy Thanksgiving. Eat, drink, and be merry! And spend a whole bunch of time sewing this weekend instead of shopping ;) .

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Oh. My. Gosh!

This is my Oh My Gosh news for the day. Newsflash from an email from Pocono Sew and Vac:

Pocono Sew & Vac


Our Biggest Sales Event of the Year
Friday, November 28th
We'll be open from 7 AM to 7 PM
With Discounts From
20% off to as high as 80% off!!!


Special Holiday Deals Just for You!
For our Super Sales Event we'll have many items on SALE!

All OTT LITE LAMPS - On Sale - Great Gift Ideas
Floriani Embroidery Thread - 50% Off - All In-Stock 7-am-1-pm
FABRICS - All In-Stock - 1000 Bolts 30% Off - 200 Bolts 50% Off
VACUUMS - 25% to 50% Off MSRP
VAC BAGS - Buy 1 Get 1 FREE (Same Type)
VAC BELTS - Buy 1 Get 1 FREE (Same Type - Limit 4 Each)
CENTRAL VAC PACKAGES - $100 Off - For Existing Homes
HOOVER - DIRT DEVIL - EUREKA - $65 Limited Supply Values to $149
AIR PURIFIERS - Lowest Prices of the Year
SOLAR COMFORT HEATERS - We're Cheaper Than the Web

All Items Limited To In-Stock Only


Big note here! I would be remiss if I didn't post this information. This is absolutely a must-visit place if you are in the Poconos or surrounding area on Black Friday. It is located on Main Street in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, just off of Rt. 80. The traffic will likely be horrible, but it's worth it for a visit to this top-notch dealer. I just might have to rethink my plans--Ursula's store, then Pocono Sew and Vac. For some of those sale prices, it would be SO worth it!

Also, good news! I just picked up my first official sewing student. We begin next week. Today I'll be working on the course outline to match the course syllabus for her so she'll know what the plans are for the class and the materials needed for the first sewing session.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Just a Bit of Time

I don't have very much time this morning to post, but I'll do what I can. Thanksgiving week is upon us here in the US, and I have to start making my pie crusts today. I'm particularly annoyed because I forgot to buy the foil pie tins and every store is probably out. The upside to this (which is also a downside) is that I might have to go out and buy pie pans. That will be way more expensive than the foil, disposable tins; however, in the long run I'll never have to buy the disposable ones again.

Last night I went to a ladies' night out church "dinner". My friend invited me and it was lovely--just desserts and appetizers were served. Every attendee brought a dish along with a bottle. The lucky ones were able to have their hubbies drive them to and from. My friend who invited me was my sorority sister in college and my DH joked, "She's not getting a keg???" No, she has graduated to wine LOL. There were endless bottles of white and red wine at every table. It was a semi-formal event with appetizers served first, followed by a church prayer service for about half hour, then we returned to the church hall for dessert. It was a really nice event.

I wore the Textile Studio Madison Avenue dress below to the Ladies' night out event. It was a UFO for the longest time because I accidentally pressed the CF seam and got an imprint. Then I had to embellish it to cover up that mistake which took about 9 mos. Embellish, run out, embellish, run out, finally finished. Each one applied by hand--it took forever! Every time I ran out of crystals, I'd order more. Then they would arrive and I wouldn't be in my creative groove for a while. Anyway, I really love the dress, but something about it has been bothering me and I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Finally, right before leaving last night, it dawned on me what I needed to do. Here's the dress:

And here's what needs to be done below. I drew a pic of the silhouette of the way it now looks on the left. For it to be more flattering on me, I need to nip in the side seams in the mid thigh area to look like the illustration on the right. I'll work on that sometime this week. This is such a lovely holiday dress and I want to love wearing it, not just like wearing it. Didn't have my suck-it-in shapewear on either last night and a dress like this begs for it. I had to suck it in myself with no help from spandex. I was terribly disappointed with my new Hanes Smooth Illusions pantyhose. Years ago they made them in ultra smoothing tightness. They are not that way now and it was a waste of $9 for those hose.

Moving on, here's the pile of notions, fabric, and lining for my oldest son's jacket. I started separating the pieces while watching TV on Friday night, but quickly realized that I need to do this at the kitchen table with no background noise. There are left and right fabric pieces, left and right lining pieces, and I don't want to screw up making two lefts and no rights. That is something I hope to get started with today while the kids are at school. It is perfectly quiet right now,l and the kerosene heater is providing some wonderful super toasty warmth. The kids love when I fire it up on cold, get-ready-for-school mornings. We just hauled it up from the basement family room this weekend just for that purpose.

Okay, now I have to face the day.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Just Another Day

Strange and unexpected things happen to me all the time.

Take that waistband elastic I bought at Ursula's store 2 or 3 days ago. It sprouted feet and walked away. Didn't like my messy house I guess. So this afternoon I headed up to her store again to my another roll of elastic. I need it NOW. Unfinished projects on the couch at this time of year are certainly not needed, nor wanted. The last pair of DD#2's sweatpants are waiting for elastic and they're done. Last night I did all the embroidery and rehooping for the large vertical design down the leg. First time I've had to do that was this week on the red and grey pairs. I found a great hooping tip and a nice topping idea that I'll share when I review the pants.

With all the embroidery I'm doing lately, DH says I should purchase Embird Studio. Wow! I surely never expected him to say that! The poor man always feels neglected because of my sewing. However, even he can see the advantages of having digitizing software, thanks to Mary :) !

Tonight I begin working on DS#1's Oregon jacket. The jacket, lining, and interfacing are all cut out and marked. Now it's time to get down to business with it. It has maybe 10 pieces, and it's been a long time since I've made anything over 7 or 8 pieces. I'll probably have to think a little when making the jacket.

When I cut out the jacket, I've decided on my 2009 Sewing Resolution: Down and Dirty Sewing! There's a vintage Vogue suit pattern that's been in my stash for two years. Ditto with Vintage jacket and dress. I'm going back to "thinking woman's sewing". Back to blazers, suits, and the more complicated garments. Part of this is attributed to my teaching sewing at Ursula's store so I need to refresh my memory of some of the more advanced sewing skills necessary for these patterns.

Speaking of Ursula, don't forget! If anyone is in the Poconos on Black Friday, Ursula is having a 40% off sale--ALL fabrics. Only fabrics. It's the once-ever sale. Her website is:


Maybe I'll see you there!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Moving Right Along

The nightpants are done, both mine and DD#2's. Here is DD#2 modeling hers:

These are those "astroturf" fleece pants. But oh how comfy and warm they are!!! Her legs look short and kind of stumpy in this pic, but trust me, she has at least a 34" inseam on the legs.

Here are two pairs of sweatshirt fleece sweatpants that are finished (the red ones and the black ones). The red ones have the softball team logo on them, with the team name and the word "SOFTBALL" vertically placed on the left pant leg. (She likes them! :) ). I ordered the sweatshirt fleece from SewZannes Fabrics, and we were both happy with it. We examined the fiber content on a RTW pair of her softball sweatpants and the fabric from SewZannes is virtually identical to her RTW ones. About the same weight too.

Her last pair, the grey ones in the pic, are waiting for embroidery. That's what I was working on tonight--a sample stitchout. The grey pair will be the school team mascot with the logo and the word "SOFTBALL" stitched vertically down the leg, the same type of style as the red pair. The jeans are DS#2's. He's been patiently waiting for more jeans, and I had to size up from his jeans sloper to account for growth. This is his wearable muslin pair. He has to try them on again but wasn't in the mood tonight. I need to determine exactly where he wants his waistline before attaching the patch pockets to the backside.

Here's my embroidery machine getting a workout on the stitch sample for the grey sweatpants. Unfortunately, once I got to the word part of the stitch sample, the embroidery machine bugged out. Must be something wrong with the design but the machine locked up again and again when I tried to advance to the last thread color change for the words. It was okay, and I was able to finish the sample be creating a separate design with just the words to finish it up.

And who did a wonderful job tonight organizing my embroidery threads and clipping the wayward thread tails? DS#2, of course. He is very meticulous and organized. He was also very thrilled to organize my thread box! What a guy!!

And last, but not least, here's that RTW top I had to fix for DD#2's Field Hockey banquet. I took off the bottom band, stitched the CF seam below the empire waist band (it was open and not appropriate for a girl her age), and has the lace insert I created at the V for a modesty panel. For a girl who lives in sweatpants and sport pants every day of the school year, this style is quite a change for her. She didn't complain about it one bit either. Do I detect a hint of change? That's fine if it doesn't include boys LOL. Her fashion style (well, lack of it) is a 180 from her fashion diva older sister. She's into the sporty look, definitely not the runway styles.

And now I'm off to bed! Things have been really cooking here, and I'm really tired. The downside of being so busy is that I'm so far behind in blog reading. I'm hoping to catch up with it this weekend.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sewing like a Mad Woman!

That's what I've been doing--sewing and cutting like there's no tomorrow. No pics yet though. Unfortunately. Both night pants are done--mine and DD#2's. Last night I finished DD#2's red, sweatshirt fleece sweatpants with the team embroidery logo and name down the side of the left leg. (Shoutout to Mary on this! Thanks, Mary!! That team logo is really coming in handy. Over the weekend I embroidered a RTW AC Moore t-shirt with the team logo too :) . ) I'm really doing a lot more embroidery lately, and the girls seem to be very interested in this. DD#2 wants "personalized" sweatpants and her name embroidered on a sports jacket I just bought her. DD#1 chose not to buy the team jacket for $54 and plans on going to our local sporting goods store to pick out a style and have me do the embroidery on the front, which is two crisscrossed tennis rackets with her name and graduation year.

The embroidery is going okay. I'm learning a lot while doing it. Which stabilizer is working better, adjusting the tensions just right, finding what works and what doesn't. My only pet peeve is when my thread gets caught on the spindle and/or the end of the sewing spool of my embroidery machine. It just might be the brand of sewing spools I'm using which lends itself to this, but it's a pain in the a$$. It jams up in the area and the thread won't feed, which results in the bobbin threads pulling up tight, then about 30 seconds later the machine beeps and stops.

Today I'll whip up one more pair of sweatshirt fleece sweatpants in black for DD#2. This one will be quick because she doesn't want embroidery on the black ones. The grey ones (planned for tomorrow) will have her school name/mascot on the left leg with "SOFTBALL" going down the side. This should satisfy her demand for more sweatpants :) . There are no complaints about baggy crotch/back seat and too short legs either. She usually has to roll over the waist two or three times to bring the crotch up, then the pants are woefully short. She gets her 34" inseam, short crotch depth, lower front made to order!

So...today's plans after the gym:
  1. Cut out the black sweatpants and sew them up.
  2. Cut out two pairs of denim jeans for DS#2
  3. Cut out the interfacing for DS#1's Oregon Jacket.
  4. Cut out a sample scarf for Christmas present sewing.
  5. Work on the softball embroidery design.
  6. Write out detailed lesson plans for my Beginner Sewing I class.

My scissors and rotary cutter are going to be smokin'!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Great news!

The Chinese Auction quilt went to a good home :) . The father of one of the 14U parents bought it off the grandmother who won it for $40. I'm VERY happy about that.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

One Down.

One pair of lounge pants down, one more to go. DD#2 tried on my pair and I'll make minor pattern tweaks to her liking. She likes her front waistband low and a little more room in the upper thigh. I'm doing something right--she said, "You made those pants in a day?" :) . Try 4 hours on and off between making dinner, picking up her sister, doing dishes, etc. That's pretty good for this slow sewer. The secret? Shhhh! I used my serger whenever I could. She doesn't understand that though. I'll let her be impressed with my "speedy sewing".

DD#1 and DH were less than impressed with the fabric LOL. One of them commented, "It looks like astroturf." It kind of does. The loopy/curly green fleece does indeed look like artifical turf. But it sure is SOFT! I'm wearing them right now and am thinking of making a lounge top to go with the pants for cold winter nights.

Maybe some pics tomorrow. DD#2's pair should be able to be whipped up in no time too.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Finished, Still Breathing, with Elation and Disappointment.

What a weekend! I finished the Chinese Auction quilt at 10 p.m. on Saturday night. Sunday morning before church I finished up the rice warmers. The baskets were filled and off we went to the Chinese Auction/Basket Bingo. We left at 11:45 and didn't get back home until 7 p.m. I've never really been a Bingo person, and DD#2 found out she isn't either. After 20 games of Bingo, 4 Special Bingo games, Door Prizes, and Chinese Auction, she was SO ready to head home! It's funny how one can do nothing but sit, and be bored and hungry. Not that I should have been hungry, but boredom builds an appetite. And it's tiring being bored for so long. We were exhausted when we left. But, it's for a good cause so that's okay.

Mary did SUCH a wonderful job digitizing the softball logo for the quilt! THANK YOU, MARY!!! It really made the quilt so special. Less than 5 minutes after I put the basket on the table with the back logo/names/numbers showing, one of the 14U players ran up to another 14U player and asked, "Did you see that quilt???" It created quite a buzz, and the girls were thrilled with the pics inside. Lots of tickets were dropped into the container for "The 14U Basket". I was so happy that people liked it and was hoping one of the 14U girls would give it a good home. That's the elation part.

Here's the front of the quilt:

And here's the back. I REALLY wanted to show the full logo to show what a great job Mary did, but had to blackout the team name :

This the closeup of the back:

Here's the disappointment. The 14U basket was won by a grandmother of a 16U girl! What is she going to do with a quilt that doesn't have her granddaughter on it, features none of the girls on the 16U team? I just hope it doesn't end up in some rubbermaid tote destined for Good Will. It was meant to be a keepsake quilt for a 14U girl. Guess Grandma was NOT wearing her glasses. Or maybe she was like my mom thinking, "Oh...I thought it was your team." Oh well, what can you do? It happens and we move on. I'm hoping she gives it to a 14U parent, or maybe one of the 14U parents bought it off her. And then there's that 14U tote with the 14U pic on the back LOL. It is what it is. But the rice warmers are good. What woman does not have cold hands? Most women I know have them, including myself.

This was the project that came straight from the old noggin. I knew what I wanted and went to work. The pictures on the front were placed under a "picture window". Same principle as a bound buttonhole without the lips. That was my intention so the fleece edges would be raised around the picture, kind of like a window frame. Since there were two layers of fleece, I didn't use batting. That would have made it too thick IMO. I applied woven, cotton muslin on the back of each front square to act as a stabilizer to prevent stretching. My must-have tools for this project? Basting spray and a walking foot--definitely. No headaches and quick sewing. The two finished sides were stitched together with the ends fringed.

Overall, I was really pleased with the quilt. Truly, I'm not a quilter. My heart is not in it. But it was a nice project to do for the auction and I'm glad I did it. My motivator for this quilt? Cindy at Patternreview did a lovely t-shirt quilt for her BIL. Here is a picture of her quilt. She answered some questions for me which got my brain thinking on methods I wanted to use for this softball quilt. Her quilt was lovely and inspiring.

So now I'm taking a breather. My family is hoping for some good, home-cooked meals with that big project done, and I'm back to garment and accessory sewing. See the jumble below?

That blue and grey microfleece fabrics are for my daughters' friend's Christmas presents and the green, curly fleece is destined to become night pants for my daughter and me. That was the fabric.com fleece I was thinking about sending back. It's so darn soft inside that the decision was made to keep it. This pic doesn't even include DS#1's jacket either.

That's all for now. I have to get some sleep.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Racing Against the Clock!

Today I begin that race! My quilt has to be done by Saturday night. Tomorrow I go and get the baskets for the Chinese Auction. I'm going to go to my sewing dealer this morning to get some necessary supplies first thing this morning, even before going to the gym.

I would SO much like to thank Mary! I was interested in getting a design digitized for my quilt. It would have cost me $62, and that's over 1/3 the price of Embird Studio so that was a "no thanks" kind of deal. I'd rather put that money toward the purchase but can't buy Studio right now. Anyway, Mary stepped in and offered to digitize it for me. That was so kind of her, and she emailed me the design last night. It is AWESOME!!! I'd LOVE to share it with you all, but it is a searchable, official organization. When the quilt is done, I'll show you as much as I possibly can of it. I stitched it out last night and finished it up this morning. Other than not having enough basting spray and the right stabilizer (which I'm purchasing today), the stitchout is absolutely perfect for my fleece quilt. Some lucky winner is going to be very warm and happy with early Spring softball tournaments. We bloggers are "sew" lucky to have such kind and wonderful cyber sewing friends. I was mentioning to DH that my cyber sewing friends are so much nicer than some of my "real world" friends (thinking about the latest incident I posted about the other day). This is really true because I've actually met several people in our blogging world at PR Weekend NYC the past two years, and they are just as nice as could be, always offering help and advice. We sewists are just a different kind of breed :) .

On DS#1's jacket news, I ordered all the necessary notions for the Oregon jacket from The Green Pepper. It will be more of a lightweight jacket with Polarfleece for the outer shell and the hi-count nylon tafetta for the lining. The phone rep told me I could skip the needlepunch because the fleece should have enough body in it. Come to think of it, I'll need to add WonderTape for the zipper to my must-buy notions list this morning. Once I finish the quilt, my next high priority project will be this jacket. I'll probably sew the jacket concurrently with sewing DD#2's sweatpants.

More later, I have to get ready for my busy day!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Chinese Auction Quilt Part 1

Here is the front, semi finished. DD#2 convinced me to add the girls names in the white blocks. Working on that tomorrow because my test embroidery is done. So far, it meets her "Seal of Approval". I cut out the center square of the back. That will have the name of the team and possibly the full names and numbers of each girl on the 14U softball roster.

An hour ago I emailed the team logo to find out how much it would cost to digitize it. Just wondering, because I highly doubt a turnaround time of two days, probably impossible. The quilt has to be ready by Saturday night so I can assemble the basket.

The back squares must be assembled tomorrow, and I'll need to get at least two squares of embroidery names done on the front. At this point, I have to stay on task. There is no time that can be wasted.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Change of Heart

Dawn left a comment and I reread her pattern review on her son's Green Pepper Oregon jacket. So I'm thinking the fleece with some type of thin lining will work rather well for the Oregon jacket. What a change of heart from this morning! I really like the style of this jacket, and he liked it too. Yes, Keely, I do have a KS hoodie pattern! Duh! Yeah, I wasn't thinking about using the hoodie and cutting up the middle. That would be easier than drafting a hood! ETA--Yes, Mary ! I did use basting spray :) . Great minds think alike LOL.

However, I really want to sew this Oregon jacket. Originally, this pattern was purchased for my husband. As for when, who knows! He's been mentioning that he needs a new jacket, and I never sew anything for him anymore. The last jacket I made for him 4 years ago is looking very worn out. Even if the smallest size is big for DS#1, that's okay. He'll likely be going through his growth spurt soon and will fit into it for all of 6 months maybe? You know how fast they grow once they start. At least DS#2 would be able to use it eventually. The joy of having pairs :) .

And the material for these jackets??? Several years ago, Malden Mills was selling remnant bags. On the advice of one of my sewing friends, I bought the largest bag. She said it would be as big as my couch and she wasn't kidding! For a mere $75 I got 30+ yards (at least) of great quality fleece in perfect colors--burn red, royal blue, black, light blue, and tons of grey. Most were 200 weight, one or two pieces 300, the light blue was 100. There is STILL some left over so that is what I'm using for the jackets.

I did get some things accomplished today but had to go out to Ursula's store to buy some lace for the insert on DD#2's low-cut halter. I hemmed her skirt, then made the insert. She has to try the top on again for correct placement of the insert. She needs a halter bra for her top and it pains me to have to buy a bra she'll wear once. This girl wears sports bras year round so having to spend a minimum of $15 on a bra just kills me. She's the one who hates all things tight and itchy. Imagine having to deal with a halter bra that goes around the back of one's neck! She's going to go crazy LOL. She'll pick out the most comfortable one to the tune of $30 I'm sure.

So for that insert, I rarely sew with lace and was thinking of easy ways to sew the bias tape on the lace. What I did was create a template of a slightly curved neckline with freezer paper and adhered the freezer paper to the lace with an iron on a low setting. Here's my starting point:

Sorry, that's a bad, blurry pic. Next up, I pinned the black bias tape to the other side of the lace and stitched them together. That's shown here:

In my next bad pic, I started picking away the freezer paper from the seamline very carefully. I pressed my fingernail (what there is of it) just over the edge of the seamline and pulled it off like a perforation. I should have used a smaller stitch length as that would have made it easier. I usually set my stitch length to 3.0 for most projects--it's simply my preference. The freezer paper from both sides of the seamline was removed.

Then I turned the bias tape over and topstitched everything into place as shown here:
Now the lace inset sits on my dressform. DD#2 has to try on the top so I can adjust the placement for stitching. I'll take a pic of it tomorrow.

Using the freezer paper made things so easy. It temporarily stabilized the entire piece of lace and I was able to carefully pull it off when finished. It eliminated all the negatives of dealing with this potentially shifty, stretchy, fussy fabric.

I also started stitching my fleece quilt squares together but was halted by running out of cotton muslin which I'm using for the stabilizer/backing for each square. This necessitated running out to Ursula's store for 4 yards of cotton muslin. I won't need all 4 yards for this project, but want to have the muslin around for other things. Here's the quilt starting to shape up:

Speaking of which, Ursula is planning on having a Black Friday sale at her store with all fabric (fabric only) being 40% off!!! If anyone is planning on vacationing in the Poconos during Thanksgiving, please visit Ursula's store! You can find some gems there. She will help you coordinate fabrics and is very experienced with them as well as pattern design and draping. Here is the website for her store:


Scroll down for the directions and phone number for her store. You can tell her Kat sent you :) !

Not Finding What You Need!

Darn! It's really frustrating!!! I posted a question a day or so ago at Patternreview about needing a boys jacket pattern with a hood. It HAS to have a hood unlike DS#2 who didn't want a hood. DS#1 MUST have one, or so he says.

I can't find anything on-line. I was hoping to hit the Butterick sale at Joann's this weekend, but it's shaping up to be busy so it's a lack of time issue at this point. Looking through my stash, I do have The Green Pepper's Men's Oregon Jacket packet. DS#1 is 12 so I could make him the smallest size. However, fleece is his fabric of choice and, after reading over the pattern instructions and fabric recommendations, I don't think fleece is a good option.

So, back to the pattern drafting board. Why I'm so resistant to drafting a simple little hood I don't know. But that is what I'm going to do. Use the boy's McCall's jacket pattern I just made for DS#2 and morph the KS pullover neckline and hood onto the pattern.

Do you know why I'm so against this? Because my brain is tired! I've been doing so much thinking and planning lately that I just want to do mindless, yet enjoyable, sewing. Creating an easy, nice-looking garment which requires virtually no thought. That's what I want to do. Oh well, we don't always get what we want. So pattern drafting it is.

Today's sewing focus for this Saturday, November 1, will be creating a backing for my quilt squares and sewing the squares together. Sunday will be for measuring and sewing the sashing (is that what it is called?), then early next week will be the quilt batting (if I even need it--this is fleece material I'm working on), and attaching the backing. The other focus is finishing up DD#2's skirt for the banquet tomorrow.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy To Sew!

Last weekend DD#2 had to go shopping to buy an outfit for her Field Hockey banquet. It's at a somewhat fancy restaurant at a major tourist attraction in our area. She spent 1 1/2 hours (long sigh) trying on around 15 dresses/top and finally settled on a black duro-style halter top with a banded hem. It was about $30 and made out of a thin black lycra knit.

Get home. She didn't like the banded hem and asked me to take it off! I did that last night. Found out the front "skirt" portion of the top is actually two pieces of fabric. It has a slit right down the middle. That's fine for an 18-year old, but not a 14-year old. So I butted the fabric edges together and zigzaged with a matching thread. Looks fine.

Can't find a skirt. My mom gave me a long, velvet tube skirt about 3 or 4 years ago. She tried it on--snug at the hips for her. Too long anyway and it has a sparkly applique on the front of the skirt near the bottom hem. So I cut the skirt to an above-the-knee length and cut the applique in strips. I asked her if she would like me unstitch the side seams and add the sparkly applique sections going down both side seams, kind of like a tuxedo effect. She liked that idea and it will give her extra hip room. Today she'll try on the top with skirt so I can figure out the exact hemline for her.

After all this, I'm happy to sew. She is hard to please and has a hard to fit/flatter figure. I have one daughter who has a perfect, lean model hourglass figure and another who has a fuller, athletic rectangular figure with a short waist and long legs. The latter is VERY hard to fit at times. Did I mention she doesn't like anything itchy or tight? That complicates things even more. If she would have given me ample time, I would have made a dress just for her.

I'll have to post the revamped outfit later today when I can take pics.

On to my projects...Susan asked:

"Ooops...I forgot to ask you something. What are you using on top of your fleece when you embroider your design"

Susan, I don't know yet ;) . I do have some toppers for embroidery in my stabilizer section and will read my book for what I will use. Last time I embroidered on fleece was over a year ago and I think I used the water-soluble stabilizer. Will let you know when I get to that point. I have to finish my fleece quilt for the softball Chinese Auction basket. I'm about halfway done at this point and will be embroidering on this quilt so actually, I'll be embroidering on fleece even before the Christmas-gift scarves. I really have to get my thoughts together on this.

Today I will go back and check my to-do list from a week or two ago. The totes, purple top, and rice warmers are done. The quilt is being worked on, but I still must get going with the interlining for my coat. I bought the Vogue Patterns magazine at the grocery store last month because it specifically talked about coats, interlinings, linings, and appropriate interfacings. Sure wish I would have Thinsulate for this coat, but I'm just using some flannel as the interlining. Perhaps I'll have time to pull the black flannel out of my stash today and give it a good pressing (at least it got washed!). But it IS Halloween and the kids have been disappointed that the Fall decorations are still not up yet. It's not very motivating when the house is a mess and my sewing projects are everywhere you look.

So much to do, so little time!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Finished Top and Other Things

Today I finished the wrap top for Simplicity 4074. Hmmm...a few things about this top. The fabric...it sucks! Rarely do I use that word, but I hate the purple polyester matte jersey from Joann's purchased about 2 years ago. It doesn't hold a press, don't know why I bought it (it's not a particularly attractive color on me as it is too dark), and it just doesn't feel that nice. Kind of a flimsy feel. I like my knits to feel "substantial" for lack of a better word. It's flimsy enough to show wrinkles where there might not be in another type of knit fabric.

Here's the finished front which still needs another pressing. I'm kind of at a why-bother stage with that because it won't hold a press.

Here's a pic of the back. It doesn't look too bad on my dress form but...

...when it's on me I get the dreaded "X" draglines that look like this on a muslin suit I made a while back shown here:

I know why this happens. A CB seam doesn't work for me at all. My spine is fairly straight. My curves are my chicken bone shoulder blades going into my small curvy back. I would do just fine without a CB seam BUT WITH princess seams. Or a CB seam AND princess seams. Just not a CB seam alone. The more I curve a CB seam to the small of my back, the more pronounced the X draglines become. I see a bit of this on my purple top. So when I make this again (will likely be a dress), I will create princess seams for the back and possibly eliminate the CB seam.

Another thing about this top. I did my usual alterations and used a 10 (neck/shoulders) morphing to a 14 from upper bust down. Surprise, surprise! This dress runs large IMO. I had a lot of excess fabric from the front princess seam at the upper bust area to my full bust and had to take the princess seams in 3/4" on both sides. This has never happened to me before! I will even need to remove some fabric from the front armhole area on the bodice too. There's just way too much--another first for me. Even the model in the solid color dress appears to have a little too much. The model in the print fabric doesn't seam to have it but she's not standing straight. The arm is up which is pulling the fabric up and back. At least I'm getting the same wrinkles as she is on the dress front though. No more, no less.

Thankfully this is just a muslin top in crummy polyester. It's just "okay".

Here's some good news. I received my Wazoodle order of blue and grey microfleece. This fabric will become monogrammed scarves for my daughters' friends for Christmas presents. Last year it was monogrammed pillowcases, this year the scarves.

The fleece feels so good today! The upper tier of the Poconos received up to 18" of snow! We received nothing. Just wet flakes with no accumulation. Days like this make me want to pull out my Green Pepper pullover pattern and whip up some cozy fleece tops.

Okay, I'm being bumped from the computer now. Anyway, I have to fix a RTW top for DD#2 for a Field Hockey banquet on Sunday.