Word of the Day!

Word of the Day

Friday, November 30, 2007

Tip Day

On one of the blogs I regularly visit, The Happiness Project, "Every Wednesday is Tip Day". Well, it's not Wednesday, and I don't know if I'll make this a regular feature, but here is a tip I have found useful. I thought it up myself, although I'm sure others have come up with this too.

I hate trying to get patterns back into the pattern envelopes. They never go back right, and if you have to get them out later during the sewing process for reference (because oh, say, you forgot to mark some vital little dot or accidentally ripped your thread marker out thinking it was a stray piece of thread, not that I would ever do that, of course) it's a big pain, especially if it is one of those patterns that has six or seven different views and a host of little pieces to sort through.

So what I've started doing is putting the pieces for the particular view I'm working on into a ziploc bag, and labeling it with the pattern number and some personal identifier that will help me know which pattern it is (Brandon's shirt, for example). Especially on patterns that I plan to use often or have modified in some way, this simplifies my life and prevents frustration.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Christmas Spirit

I am definitely in the Christmas spirit now, which is a good thing, because I'm making a lot of my presents, and I was just terribly unmotivated for awhile. I haven't got my tree up, but that should happen pretty soon.

I can't show one of the things I made, because it is a gift and I don't want to spoil anyone's Christmas, but I finished this apron using some of the Christmas fabric I bought, and I think it is adorable. The pattern is this one that I got at Hobby Lobby in a 99 cents sale. Yay! It's very simple to make (especially since I omitted the piping that is called for). The ties are made from double-fold bias tape.

Not sure whether I will keep this or use it in a gift exchange. I think I have enough fabric to make another one, but would have to buy more bias tape.

I'm looking forward to trying out some of the other apron patterns, too.

During my absence...

Last week was a busy week. We did a lot of driving. See, Brandon and I finally got to go to Ruidoso and Carlsbad Caverns, as we've been planning to for a couple of months now. Finally all the farm work was out of the way.

Then we had Thanksgiving at his grandparents, and the day after Thanksgiving we went to Texline for a meal with my family (my grandmother and aunt on my dad's side, my parents, and my brother and sister). I ate enough turkey and ham to last me for a month or two. The big news of the week was that my sister, who is expecting, had the sonogram to determine the sex of the baby, and it will be a little boy. So expect little overalls and things in the near future. We are all very excited. It will be the first grandchild for my parents, and my first nephew.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Shiny Object!

This is probably my favorite thing that I've bought off of Etsy. It's from Keys and Memories, and is made from a vintage typewriter key.

Being a writer, I like that it is made from a piece of vintage writing equipment. And it goes well with tee-shirt and jeans, so I actually get to wear it.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Hat

Here is the completed hat, which I gave to my husband yesterday. I was up late the night before finishing it, and in a hurry. I didn't want to look up pattern with the decrease rows that I usually do, so I winged it, and it turned out kind of funny-looking. But it is warm, and Brandon doesn't mind, so I will leave it as is.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Things I wish pattern companies still did...

Sometimes sewing with vintage patterns is easier to me than sewing with modern patterns. For one, most of them come one size to an envelope, which makes cutting them out a lot simpler process (so you don't accidentally cut on the wrong size line), and eliminates my worries that I might get fat and need the pattern in a larger size, so maybe I should try to preserve the larger sizes somehow so I can use them later. The only foolproof way to do this is to trace all of the pattern pieces onto tissue paper, which is a lot of trouble to go through, and so I usually don't do it, and then I feel guilty because I am throwing all those sizes away.

Also, I wish pattern companies still included a miniature picture on the back of the envelope showing all of the pattern pieces, or at least mentioned how many pattern pieces were in the pattern, so that I don't open it up and start looking at the instructions, and freak out because there are about 19 little fussy pieces. At least I could be prepared. Maybe they are afraid that someone will look at little pattern piece pictures and figure out how to draft their own without buying the pattern, but people that highly motivated not to spend money on a pattern are probably not going to buy your pattern anyway.

But what I really, truly wish most of all was that pattern companies still sold their patterns for fifty cents.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Secret Agent Hat

The hat is coming along, but perhaps not as fast as it needs to...I just realized I have five days, and two or three of them we'll be travelling. I better get cracking.

Today I have dedicated to brainstorming for titles for my novel. For some reason, this is coming really hard for me on this one. Nothing sounds right, I don't even have a working title. Yesterday I hit 175 pages (61,130 words), woo hoo! I think it isn't going to wrap up as quickly as I previously thought, though.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Sewing with Knits, Part 3 - Trials, Tribulations, and Triumph

I sewed the sleeve seams and hemmed them, no problems. Then I went to put the sleeves on, and in the instructions, either they don't expect that you will need to sew gathering stitches across the top of the sleeve cap, or they just left that part out. So I tried it without gathering stitches, and just stretched the knit to fit. It worked okay, but the sleeves are a little funky. I'm not sure if it was sewing them up that way, or the fact that the material is not cut on the grain.

When I went to try the shirt on, the neck hole is very small. I can barely get it over my head.

As I was sewing the hem, over halfway through with it, I ran over one of the pins. I've done this before, and bent pins and broke needles, but never quite so spectacularly. The pin was jammed way down in the plate of the machine. When I pulled it out, it left a big hole in the fabric. Well, big is a relative term. I could probably fit my pinky through it. I put a little patch over it and called it good, though. If it had been on a project that had gone perfectly up until that point, I would have been more upset, but this shirt has so many other issues that it is low on my scale of concern.

Basically, as the shirt turned out, I will wear it, but if I am going to make the pattern again there will have to be some major changes. For one, the neck hole is too small and needs enlarged. For two, although I cut the pattern to my size given my measurements according to the chart on the back, the shoulders are about a half inch too narrow on each side, making the shirt pull and stretch oddly around the shoulders and neck. And people, my shoulders are not that broad. This is not a normal problem for me. I have had fit issues with New Look patterns in the past, only in the other direction - the pattern was way too huge for me, even on the smallest size.

I like the idea of making my own tee shirts. Tee shirts are truly a wardrobe staple for me, and I love this sort of long sleeved close fitting tee in the winter for layering. So I'm disappointed that this pattern will take so much tweaking to work (since I cut on the smallest size and can't now cut out the next size up, which might fit better). I know, I could just go out and buy a pattern from a more reliable pattern company, and eventually I might, but I will probably first try to tweak this one to work, since I'm (A) cheap and (B) get a perverse enjoyment out of making patterns work that originally did not work for me.

In case anyone is wondering, I am going along quite well with my writing, keeping up my daily page counts. :)

Sewing With Knits, Part 2

The second day of progress on this shirt (which was actually two days ago because I am lazy about blogging these things) went fairly smoothly, thanks in part to my dear husband, who oiled my sewing machine and tinkered with it so that it ran a lot smoother than before. I don't have a real "knit stitch" on my machine, so I used a narrow zig-zag and then trimmed the seam to 1/4" and overcast the raw edges together. I like the nice finished seams it made. I really want a serger for Christmas, though. Does anyone have serger recommendations?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Shirt - Cutting Out

I started on a long sleeve tee from the teacup fabric. When I prewashed the fabric I found out why it was $1 a yard. The washing and drying made obvious the fact that the printed teacups are not on the grain. It was such a pain to cut out, since I wanted the teacup "stripes" to look sort of straight. I pinned the fabric to the carpet and laid the pieces out all weird and slanted. I couldn't for the life of me get the stripes to go evenly across a fold for the front piece, which is supposed to be cut on the fold, so I had to make a second half out of leftover tissue paper and cobble the halves together.

The pattern is a New Look pattern I've had for three or four years. My mom bought it for me while I was in Ecuador and I had just bought a sewing machine. They don't have patterns in Ecuador. All of the women who sew clothing have learned pattern drafting, which is commonly taught in what we would call vocational high schools. I didn't use the pattern, though, because I didn't want to sew with knits. Instead, I carried it back home with me after Peace Corps and it sat in a drawer. I tried to sell it on Ebay (with two other patterns) and got no takers. But finally it is coming in handy. I did lengthen the torso of the shirt by two inches, as I am not fond of lifting my arms and having my tummy on display.

It took forever, and made me really really wish I had gotten some NORMAL fabric for my first try at sewing with knits. I think this pattern would have been a snap to cut out, otherwise. Not a lot of pieces, and not a lot of notches and circles to mark. The print still turned out a little wonky, not straight across all the pieces as I had hoped. But I think it will all work out now. It's just a sort of wearable muslin, an experiment, anyway, to see how I like both the pattern and sewing with knits in general.

The best tip for cutting out knits that I got out of my Vogue Sewing book was to pin the pieces to the wrong side of the fabric and cut them out. That way they curl less. And it's true. I cut the neck piece out on the right side, and it curled like crazy. I'm not sure why that is, exactly.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Secret Super Power

My husband and I watch a lot of old movies (we just subscribed to Netflix, and it has definitely enabled this behavior). I used to watch old movies, and not really notice the clothing much, unless it was really out there, but since I've gotten into vintage fashion (since maybe a year or two ago now) I've found I can place a movie by decade based on the clothes the women are wearing. I guess it doesn't sound that impressive, but the last 3 movies we watched, my husband and I would have discussions that go basically like this:

Me: When was this movie made?
Him: Oh, it's from the 60's, I think (or 70's, or 80's or whatever the case may be)
Me: No, it can't be. It looks like it's from the 50's to me. (or 60's or whatever)
Him: No, I don't think it's that old.
Me: That dress is classic 50's.
Him: (picks up the DVD jacket and looks at it) Huh. 1954.

It's not really a useful skill, actually. And I swear I don't do it to look like a know-it-all, although as I write that conversation out, it seems like it. It's just that Brandon isn't really tuned into the fashion details that date a movie for me. I also spend an inordinate amount of time during movies trying to figure out if I've seen patterns similar to the dresses I like, and if I haven't, how I could recreate certain collar details (and it usually is collar details I'm fixating on, for some reason). Even in the Wizard of Oz I do that, and I had watched it probably a hundred times before without really caring about the specific details of Dorthy's dress. (Oh, and there is a costume pattern for it put out by McCalls or someone, but the blouse is considerably simpler than the blouse Dorthy is actually wearing in the movie.)

We watched The Rear Window last night. It's a fifties movie with Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. I'm sure I'm not saying anything groundbreaking when I say Hitchcock really knew his stuff when it came to creating suspense. And he didn't have to resort to a lot of pyrotechnics and ridiculous plot twists to do it. Although I do question the intelligence of the main character in the final confrontation scene. You're telling me in that whole apartment, the best weapon he could come up with is his camera?
I went fabric shopping yesterday. I was supposed to be shopping for some fabric for Christmas gifts, but what I bought was for me. There was a big fat bolt of the stuff for $1 a yard at Wal-Mart, and I've been thinking I want to try sewing with a knit, and it's been sitting there all alone for awhile, calling to me, and nobody wants it, and it has teacups, for goodness sake. I couldn't help myself. I think I'll make a simple long-sleeve tee to start with.

I have a strange attraction to certain odd fabrics. Like there is a flannel at that same Wal-Mart, blue and white checked like a tablecloth, with ants printed on it. And if it were anything but flannel, I'd already have bought it, and made a nice circular skirt for wearing on picnics in the summer (this is what I tell myself I would wear it for, anyway). But a nice circular skirt in flannel is going to be way to hot for summer, and the print is not a winter print at all. So I haven't bought it.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


I didn't realize it had been so long since I blogged. And it's not like I've been overwhelmingly busy, I just let it slip. So easy to do.

This is November, and I sort of wish I were doing NaNoWriMo. I thought about it, back a couple of months ago, when I thought that the novel I am working on would be done (at least, the 1st draft would be done) by now. But I stalled out on that novel-in-progress for a month and more, and I'm not going to start something new, or I'll never finish it. Instead, I am devoting November to finishing my novel-in-progress (which doesn't even have a working title). I'm on page 163. That is way longer than anything I've written before. I'm quite proud of myself, actually. I set myself a goal of two pages a day (except Sundays. I give myself Sundays off.)

Yesterday, I started a top-secret knitting project. Well, I'm going to post pics here, but my husband is under strict orders not to check this blog until after his birthday. I got out the knitting books (yup, that's pretty much my whole knitting library right there) and looked at patterns and tried some swatches, and cast on stitches for a hat. A black hat, how boring, but at least it isn't ALL going to be in k2, p2 rib, as many of my hats end up being. I tried the brioche stitch from Knitting Without Tears, and it didn't work out for me, so I'm going to use a variation of a pattern from the Vogue Stitchionary. You know, everyone raves about Knitting Without Tears, and its one of the big knitting classics, but I have barely used it. I just don't like the patterns much. I don't knit many sweaters, anyway. Actually, I've knit only one sweater, and have another in progress, delayed since last winter.

This is the first thing I've knit for Brandon. While we were dating, I thought about it, but I have experienced the Curse (albeit with a hat, and not a sweater) firsthand, so I didn't risk it.

The yarn is a Caron acrylic I've had leftover from a project my sophmore year of college (when I still crocheted, and hadn't learned to knit). It's very soft. I'm using a two strands held together, for warmth and so it knits up more quickly.

While I was looking at hat patterns online (I don't have a very large knitting library because so much can be found online) I found this blog, Kody May Knits. She knits A LOT of hats, and posts the patterns for free online (personal use only). If you're into funky hats (and some are very classic and pretty, as well) you might check it out.