April 5, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Last night I made it half way through the section on leather in the book I have borrowed, How to How to Sew Leather, Suede, Fur. Ok, well, I guess that is not totally true. I skipped the page on how to properly skin your deer, and prepare the hide for the tannery. I did read the rest, because I figure that even if it is gross, and I don’t like thinking about the little animals getting killed, if I am working with leather, I owe it to them to learn what happens. All my squeamishness aside, there is a lot of good information in there, though the tone of the writing is a little old school. I guess it is from 1974.
This afternoon I am off to help my friend out, so I am taking a brief break from my sew-extravaganza. As yesterday was a great day for instant gratification, I am more than happy to take a little break, and do something good for someone else, other than just making Ramon dinner, and doing the laundry—oh shoot, need to pull stuff out of the dryer before I go!
In the land of instant gratification, after finishing my knit top pattern, and trimming it out, Trina showed me how to sew it. With reinforced shoulders, and french bindings in the armholes and neckline, I am super stoked with this quick project. I am also learning that I LOVE sewing knits, even if the industrial cover-stitch machine scares the bejezus out of me.
A wool polyester blend, longer in the front, shorter on the sides, really long in the back, with flare added throughout, this little top is breezy and very, very comfortable to wear.
April 4, 2011 § 2 Comments
Six Days. The food poisoning lasted for six whole days, which was exactly half way into my spring break. Ugh. Finally, after getting the pH balance of my digestive system back in order, I was able to get back to sewing. I thought I was going to be able to dive into my Alexander McQueen projects for the entire week, alas, that was not to be the case.
Last Monday I was able to sit down with my new, and fabulous friend, Trina, who actually has a fashion degree—a real sewing, pattern making and beyond, education—but even better yet, is willing to share. In my desire to learn how to sew knits, and I have let my fear over them overtake me. Yes, I know you need different needles. Yes, I know you include only 3/8″ seam allowance, but, but, but … what about everything else in that vast, dark unknown space? Where does the dart intake go? How do you account for the stretch of the fabric, and they all seem stretchy to different degrees … Whoa is me.
With Trina as excited to teach as I am to learn, the Monday when I felt very green instead of going over a lot, we simply went over the cutting of knit fabric for a pattern, ironically, the fabric was also green. On Wednesday, I sewed an entire PJ set—very cute toddler size— all by myself, also learning how to use her industrial coverstitch machine. ACK! Not easy. She taught me some of her tips and tricks for getting seams to line up perfectly, cleaning up edges, attaching ribbed cuffs, and neckbands, and attaching elastic. The result, thumbs up from all three, Trina, her munchkin, and myself. I feel my fear subsiding.
As it is not my child, I am not showing the whole child, I feel like the duck is safe though.
On Friday we began drafting my first knit pattern. A simple top that involves some new construction techniques. As it turns out she drafts very differently, and much more efficiently than I was taught. Feeling like an indoor cat, watching a tiger catch it’s prey, I realize that my ways will be a-changin’.
In the process of making the pattern for my little knit top, Trina went over just how important it is to really analyze the photo before you begin to make the pattern. While at home over the weekend, I pulled out my Houndstooth fabric, and was just about to start making an 8-gore flared skirt pattern, based on what I remembered from this picture:
Before beginning, I could hear this little voice saying, “Maybe you should go and look at the picture again, before you begin.” After finding a high resolution image of this Fall 2009 Alexander McQueen look, I discovered that I was 100% wrong about how the skirt is made. It isn’t a flared 8-gore at all! It is a classic circle skirt! After dissecting instructions on how to pattern make a perfect circle skirt with a waist radius and the hem, within 2 hours, the entire pattern was drafted, fabric cut, and the skirt was made. The 1/4 inch rolled hem was even completed. Turns out that this is the EASIEST sewing project I have ever done. Though, my sewing skills are getting a lot better, and I think that probably had something to do with it, too. It might be a shame I had put it off for so long if I hadn’t have needed the time to figure out how to look closely at a photo.
And now for the jacket … a pattern making challenge if I ever saw one!
After the green faded from me, I decided that before diving in on the leather dress, that I had some other problems to solve. I have felt for some time that my block needed adjustments, so I began making a lot of those tedious adjustments and test fit muslin garments. As a trial and as a test I made this fun little linen, zebra print dress:
I feel like the cutting added some extra ease to the waist, and that there is a little bit of gaping in the neck. For a $12 project, and a test project at that, I really can’t complain. I am tired of making test fit muslins, so I can only assume that cheap JoAnns 100% linen is going to be making some more appearances. Now knowing what I need to fix, and thank goodness I have wheedled the problems down to very minor ones, I need to figure out how to make my shoulder pads, and then adjust my pattern according, also dropping the back to mullet levels for the leather version … Yes, I am sure I will probably do one more test fit before attempting the leather.
You only get ONE shot to get it right …
February 11, 2011 § 3 Comments
One year to the day, and even with Lady Gaga’s tribute, it is still your day. You are still missed, your vision unparalleled.
In an effort to properly honor this day, I bustled and struggled all week to get this dress done in time to wear to a fundraiser gala that my sister invited me to, which was held in San Francisco last night. Despite my lack of confidence in my sewing ability regarding the completion of this specific garment, I actually got it done, and I thought I even got it done fairly well!
Not without serious struggles, after about 60 hours worth of work and paired with my new favorite, everyday winter boots, here it is, for you:
After making my final dress for my pattern-making class last December, I felt like I had made a good start, but discovered that I still had a long-long way to go. Three completed muslins later I felt that I was ready to start the final piece. I decided to use a short-pile velvet for the red fabric, as I appreciated the drape and the way that the color compliments the print. Though, I found that once I got actually sewing it, it has a tendency to move around when paired with fabrics of alternate fiber. None-the-less, and I can’t believe I can actually say this, I did not have to rip out one single seam for this project.
One of the most difficult things for me was figuring out the proper way to angle the princess seam in at the waist, and have the red, side draped panel, fall properly. I must have drawn about 15 pattern pieces for the center front and princess side panels before getting so something that actually seemed like it would work out right. Luckily, Thunder was an excellent assistant on this project, even keeping my Bernina 450 carrying bag warm, and my new ironing board, that I am absolutely in love with, company:
The absolute hardest part was draping the velvet side panels. Not knowing exactly how to solve the problem, I made the entire dress with a huge, huge amount of extra fabric attached to the princess panels, that would just fall to the floor. I sewed them in, and then I got out my pins and sheers. Somehow or another I managed to get it onto my dress-form, which doesn’t have collapsible shoulders. I felt frustration mounting after working for over an hour at trying to figure out how to get the right shapes in the right places. Somehow still patient enough—really, I think it was fear—I didn’t cut anything. Eventually, I did the adult thing—who knew I could do that?— and decided to just leave it alone, and come back to it later.
Wednesday, the following day, withing 30 seconds of touching the panels, it came to me, I started pinning, and within one hour the panels were draped properly, and, get this, sewn!I then spent one final hour stitching the rest of the lining into the last place it needed to go, by hand. Sitting quietly doing the hand work, I have to admit, that I really felt quite proud.
The dress with the draping completed, pinned, and sewing in progress:
Many stares, and a number of “discrete” pictures later I am forced to realize, again, just how hard, weird and completely amazing it is to wear this sort of thing in public.
Lastly, also in honor and tribute to Alexander McQueen, I decided that yesterday was the day to bite the bullet and buy the pink, snake-skin printed leather I have been eying for Months (with a capital M) for this look, pattern already in progress:
December 8, 2010 § 2 Comments
First off. I would just like to inform you that Knit-fest 2010 has now begun. I know what you’re thinking, “hasn’t it already been knit-fest 2010, for, well, about a year?” I am sorry to inform you, but there has just been knitting, not knit-fest 2010. Since I have finished my final project, I am off and running on my knit projects for Christmas. There are a lot. I am getting out the pain-killers for my wrist, but it will all be worth it in the end. I am to be finishing a hat (for myself) tonight. I know, i know, I should NOT be working on a project for myself, but it is so close to being finished, and my ears get so cold when we go out for walks in the evening. Mmm, that makes me sound like an old lady?
Today my final project for my pattern making class was due. Over the past week I drafted the pattern and made two test muslin garments, the first of which I took into the sewing lab on Thursday for a test fit, and the second I took in on Monday during class. I started cutting and sewing the final garment on Monday night, and finished it yesterday.
I decided to make a piece that is a stepping stone to a McQueen dress that I am [now] working on. I have velvet hanging up, and ready to go. Sadly, I didn’t buy enough of the black and gold print, and so I’ll be headed back to the fabric store on Friday to get more of it. I hope that there is enough left. Ugh. I haven’t ever run out of the fabric that I needed before.
The pattern for the McQueen dress that I am drafting for me, not the final project, is intimidating, but working on the final has eased a lot of my worries, and my pattern for my dress is now coming right along.
The fabric that I chose for the red panels, was inexpensive, slippery and quick to unravel, making construction more time consuming and problem riddled than original planned for. After making 5 sleeves, I finally gave up, altered the pattern, to make two more that better suited the qualities, or lack there of the fabric I had chosen. I still had to make three more sleeves before I was able to construct 2 that were worth of sewing into the dress.
I am very happy with the print that I chose for the center panels. In working with the print I was able to get it to line up almost perfectly for the zipper at center back, a feat that I had never tried, and thus never accomplished before. The weight of it worked to my advantage as it provided a solid, rigid structure that the red fabric needed.
My final project, shot with iPhone camera (sorry for the crappy pic)
The inspiration, and the dress I am [trying] making for myself, now
November 18, 2010 § Leave a Comment
I feel like I have just been behind since my event in October and the the trip to Kentucky. I have fallen about 3 weeks back in my Pattern making class, luckily we haven’t had anything due, or maybe that’s a bad thing, because then I don’t have to commit to working on anything until just before the deadline.
For about a week my motivation level has been really low, and I have been feeling really glum. I only spent one afternoon in my sewing room last week, working on a skirt, only to get interrupted and then not make any more progress.
Well, yesterday, finally, I got a little dose of motivation from I don’t know where. I made great progress on a number of projects, including a lot of my school work. Next week I have two big, sewing drafting projects due, a skirt on the bias and a tailored shirt. I am ready to begin construction. I am also working on drafting my final project, which is part of my overall final for class. Additionally, I finished drafting the entire “collar” assignment, which I did miss, but you are allowed to turn in one assignment at the end of the semester if you miss it with a “coupon” that the professor gave us on the first day. I don’t like turning in things late, and for that matter, i don’t like being late. I like being on-time, and I like over-achieving. Big shocker, I know. But, can you really blame me for putting off drafting peter pan collars?
Ramon has been down for the past few days, too. He spent the weekend at the track with his s54ti. Thoroughly disappointed with its performance, even though he is very proud of the overall accomplishment, we both find ourselves at home in a bit of a funk, but at least not at each other. I think that we are both experiencing “Seasonal Affected Disorder,” where, you feel depressed because the sun is gone at 4:30 in the afternoon.
Despite the blues, I did get quite a bit of knitting done over the weekend. After she turned me onto the most well written show I have ever seen on network television (HBO and AMC aside), Friday Night Lights, which I spent the entire weekend watching and knitting—how have I never heard of this show before???—my sister came over on Sunday afternoon after spending a weekend on a break from law school homework, riding motorcycles in the Santa Cruz Mountains with our dad. A breath of fresh air it was great to hang out and I even convinced her to help me wind about 20 hanks of yarn into balls as i don’t have a swift and a yarn ball winder. Oh, wait, I do. It’s my sister.
I completed both of the blue sleeves for the McQueen Sweater dress, and just today I finished one of the two sleeves for the Lexington Sweater, and already have it stitched into the sweater bodice. I can’t wait to wear this sweater. The size 5 needles are killing my wrist but I don’t really want to take a break. I feel like I have been letting myself down on the sewing portion of Project Hallway. I think part of is the seasons changing, and part of it is the school projects, like the peter pan collars. I guess, I feel like if I am sitting in my sewing room, I should be catching up on projects for school, even though I’d much rather be working on things for myself.
Maybe I’ll feel better once I get to the actual sewing, instead of just the drafting. Why does coffee only have caffeine and not inspiration, too?
Proof that I have been doing something:
The work room looking worked from pattern- drafting, but, again, proof that I have been doing something:
October 19, 2010 § 2 Comments
I have knitter’s elbow, and wrist! I have been helping out some friends for the past few days, but there is a lot of waiting involved. My arm literally hurts from knitting. So, I have designated tonight a (k)no-knitting-(k)night. I was hoping to get some time in my sewing room, but it looks like I lack the energy and the time for that.
This weekend I finally bit the bullet and finished of my block pattern. ‘Bout Damn Time! I had been putting it off because I needed more measurements of my back, one of the things that is just about impossible to measure all on your own. Ramon has been so busy with his own project—his race-car—that he hasn’t had a spare moment either. Alas without help, I decided to go it alone. It took a solid two days, but I got it sorted, drafted, and squared. I felt that it was really holding me back not having this done, and it was. I started on some dress patterns as soon as I got the block finalized, and it is coming along nicely. A little McQueen, and a little Halloween.
On the topic of Halloween, since this is the very first time that we will actually be home over Halloween weekend, Ramon and I are getting candy, dressing-up, and carving pumpkins. We also going to a Halloween party the night before. So, we need Halloween costumes. I am knitting this for Ramon’s.
Yesterday I tried knitting this same item, and got the blue and the red in the wrong places. To my horror, it wasn’t just Ramon’s Halloween costume part, but everything I knit yesterday had to be frogged. I started knitting the lace sweater directly from the pattern published in the book, and the whole time I was thinking … this doesn’t seem right. A mere four hours in, I decided to check ravelry to see if other knitters had experienced the same problem with the pattern. They had. In-fact, there was HUGE warning on that pattern’s page, saying that the entire pattern was wrong, and it was mis-printed. Lesson learned? Always check the ravelry pattern BEFORE beginning a project to look for comments and posts about weird goings-on.
So, a cookie to anyone who can guess what Ramon is going to be for Halloween.
Due to my large quantity of on-going projects, I have limited this costume to a one-day creation adventure. Project Runway style, what am I going to be, you ask? You’ll just have to wait and see.
I was happy to see it finally start raining on Sunday. I don’t know what it is, but this year, I was very happy to see the rain come in. I like being all snuggled up inside, and I guess with so much knitting and sewing I felt like I wanted the visual cue of the season that it was time to be inside, snuggled and warm, busy as a little bee. I did decide to go out on Sunday to take advantage of the 50% off any regularly priced item coupon I had acquired from Joann’s. Buying a bolt of muslin for $1 a yard is awesome. Having the poor girl at the counter have to measure all 25 yards because the bolt has been opened, and we’re not sure if cut from, not so awesome. Sorry! After the muslin bargin bang I headed over to my local yarn shop, as I figured out how many skeins I will need for my McQueen blue sweater dress. 15. Running through the rain, I noticed Oktoberfest going on, on the main downtown street. Soggy beer and pretzels for everyone! Oh wait, those both contain wheat. Another bummer, I get to the yarn store and it is … CLOSED! Feeling bummed, but eager to get on with knitting my project I searched the farest corners of the interweb to try to find Cascade Cloud 9 in Blue (colorway 140). No dice. Not one skein. Not one. Anywhere. How can this be? I know the yarn store had quite a bit of it, so how can there be none anywhere else int he world? Oh no! And I won’t be able to make it to the store again until NEXT weekend. How can I possibly wait another week? It could all be gone by then. What if they’re already all gone? I find this yarn I love, and this yarn that is perfect for the project … oh, unnecessary anxiety attack, I feel you approaching. Damn you festival, why do you create enough cause for my yarn store to be closed?
Ramon calmly asked, in my hysterics, “Do they keep your customer information? Like, do they have a file for you?” I respond, “Yes.”
“Well, if they have you on file, they have all of your yarn purchases on file. Why don’t you call them, leave them a message, tell them what you are looking for, tell them you want to pay over the phone, and have me pick it up for you?”
Brilliant. Plan worked. The accounting lady actually went in on Sunday night to pick something up, listened to the messages, and took care of the yarn over the phone. They had all 14 (more) skeins. Knitting like a little beaver, I am almost through with the back “skirt.”
I know I say this all the time, but oh how I love yarn people.
Oh, and I couldn’t leave this out. Thunder says, “Hello, I am Thunder, and I am a laundry-basket addict. I don’t care about fur-ing up the warm clothes, I just can’t get enough of the baskets. I know I have a problem.”
October 6, 2010 § 1 Comment
So, now that I have the amazing sewing machine, I don’t have anything ready to sew. How is that possible? I think I was slacking off while the sewing machine was out of commission, and finishing knitting the in-between sweater, which, i was very excited to gift last night.
Yesterday was my sister’s birthday, and Ramon and I picked her up in San Francisco, and then went out to dinner to celebrate. I am so proud, I even informed the restaurant ahead of time, so they snag Happy Birthday to her. Hehe, oh, I am evil. The second I saw the pattern on ravelry.com of the in-between sweater, I knew my sister would love it. This project was a really good challenged and I learned a lot doing it. It was my first time to cable-knit, and it was amazingly easy, though making sure that I had the exact number of stitches wasn’t. One inch in and two inches out equals three inches of progress.
In the end it was a little big on me, and fits my sister perfectly, and even better, she likes it!
So, because I have nothing ready to sew, I drafted two skirt patterns tonight. I used the momentum from my patternmaking class and powered through them. I will make muslins, to make sure that they are going to work, as I am doing some different things in them. I don’t have the right McQueen fabric for either of them, but I am looking, and looking. Perhaps I can find what I need for these two skirts this weekend.
September 20, 2010 § 1 Comment
Speaking of learning, I am not sure that my pattern-making class is all that I had hoped for. See, I thought that pattern-making and pattern-drafting were the same thing, but I may have been confused. My pattern-making class doesn’t actually go over any actual drafting. We merely take existing, correctly made pattern block sets, trace and , cut them out, and manipulate them. Granted this is extremely useful stuff to know, I just hoped their would be a little more meet to the class, like Gaga’s dress: a big fat steak to-go hat and everything. I don’t want to learn to just manipulate, I want to make! I guess any teenage girl knows that both are useful skills. I think I missed that step. Where was I? Oh, I think I was making things.
So, maybe my having taught drafting classes at a college level before isn’t helping me either. The fact that I can get through the entire week’s worth of homework every week, in just under and hour, while everyone else is struggling to do it in 8, says something. Are my expectations to high? Am I used to the Academy of Art’s rigorous training programs? (While it might be easy to get into, it’s awfully hard to stay there). So, as Jury Duty approaches next week, followed by my upcoming contract, I may have some decisions to make.
Out of respect for Lee McQueen, and his memorial service today, I wore my McQueen brass square-toe, patten leather, pink leather bottomed pumps to class today. An act which was lost on just about everyone there, though I got, I dare say, a lot of looks. Come on fashion students!! You should be able to name the designer, name the season, and name the collection, all while knowing which other designers were influeced by THESE VERY SHOES, and what seasons they came out with their interpretations!!! Again, maybe my expectations are just too high.
Though, I am startled and surprised—in a good way—about a few of my class-mates, one in particular. She’s from the UK and is interested in making childrens’ garments. OH HOW LOVELY, and what a task. Those rolly-polly little suckers do a lot of squirming around. Seems like it would be hard to get measurements off of them, but I think that once you did, you’d be set for a least a month, or maybe three-weeks, until they grow again. My class-mate has a particular toddler sweater that she loves from J. Crew. Well, after a quick search through one of my favorite websites, ravelry.com, I came across a pattern that is quite similar, though sized for a baby, and not a child. Would be pretty simple to change, oh, and I found the book, and the pattern, on Amazon.com, too. Thank you very much “Look Inside” feature!
Ok, ok. I guess I should get cracking on the website so that I can get back to sewing. I am dieing to get two pairs of leggings drafted and made ASAP. (Insert laughing at, not with, here).
September 6, 2010 § Leave a Comment
My Baby Alpaca has been rolling in the hay. No really! As I am knitting this absolutely amazingly soft baby alpaca yarn into my McQ sweater, I have been coming across more and more tiny, short straw particles. Carefully I am pulling them out, and I am discovering that this is going to be one warm sweater. Baby Alpaca: super soft, super snuggly, super warm. The good news is that the cuffs on both arms are completed and now I am working on shaping the raglan sleeves. Then, just the cowl left. Overall the yarn is a little less structured than I was hoping, but I picked it out when I was still a very (k)newbie knitter, so I didn’t know that it was going to have a little personality of its own, but maybe that is a good thing. I am such a perfectionist, if it is not perfect, it just won’t due. This sweater isn’t going to be exactly like the picture because of the baby alpaca, but I think that that is actually OK. I think I am going to really like it anyway. I’ve worked so hard on it, I hope that I can just be proud of it when it is done.
So, even though I spent all day working on Ramon’s new work website today, I still had a sewing success at the end of the day. I drafted a pattern, which I started at 5:30, and by 8 I had the final garment sewn! Ok, let me just say that this is like the most simple project ever, and I still have some of the finishing to do (hem, binding, etc), but I went from none to done in two and a half hours! It is a very simple lightweight knit dress with a racerback, and it is made out of the most amazing bargain bin fabric ever: blue gradient snakeskin print. Oh holy hotness, I love it. I made a test garment out of some horrible burgundy knit that I have had for an eon. I again had success with Ramon’s measurement taking. I had to take into account the stretchiness of the knit, which I haven’t ever done before. I did have to do some tailoring/adjusting after it was sewn. But the more I do, and then have to fix, the more I learn. All in all, I couldn’t be happier.
Oh, and for the fist time ever, I did not have to rip out one single seam! I will post pictures of it as soon as I finish the finishing!
And lastly, as promised, pictures of the Gap Kids size large Sherpa jacket that I turned into a skirt:
My current drafting, pattern cutting, fabric cutting, sewing, and serging table: