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Friday, December 28, 2007

First Serger Project

Christmas day, I was too tired to even think about messing with my serger, knowing that it was going to require intensive concentration and use of the manual. So I put it off, and didn't actually mess with the thinkg until Wednesday night. And I wasn't very sucessful then, either, but Brandon figured out the problem, and so yesterday, I was rarin' to go and MAKE SOMETHING with it. (You will have to excuse my photo. My lovely assistant is driving the truck today and so wasn't handy to take pictures)

A month or so ago I bought a size medium men's long sleeved polo shirt at a thrift store with the intention of cutting it up to use the fabric for a long-sleeved tee from the New Look 6160 pattern, with some adjustments, since I didn't like the fit of the first one. I hadn't gotten around to it, though, and figured it was a nice, low-risk first project for the serger, since it was a simple pattern and I wouldn't cry if I messed up the fabric. It's a strange houndstoothy sort of plaid, which I like, yet think is ugly. Kind of like troll dolls. Anyway, there are some challenges inherent in cutting out a pattern from fabric that you have an extremely limited amount of, which is why the sleeves are 3/4 length. I guess I should have bought a size large or extra-large. It is also why the neckband is black fleece leftover from Brandon's shirt jacket. But I actually like the effect.

The changes I made besides sleeve length were to add about an inch to the circumference of the garment, since the original was too narrow for me in the shoulders. Then I changed the neckline and made it lower and wider since the first one I made barely fits over my head. Because I wasn't sure what length to make the neckband for the new neckline, first I made one too short, and then one too long, which I didn't realize until after it was applied, and that's why the neckline has a slight cowl effect.

I serged all the major seams, and only used the sewing machine to top stitch the neckline and hem and baste in the sleeves (Another pitfall of creating from existing garments with no extra fabric, I cut two left sleeves out, and there was no fabric left to fix the mistake. Luckily, you can barely tell. The right and left sleeve of the pattern aren't that different.)

Overall I think it went pretty well, although I think this shirt will mostly be worn around the house. I like the looser fit, since I added about an inch to the circumference, and the serger makes narrower seam allowances, so that added a little room, as well.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Does a chocolate covered cherry count as a serving of fruit?

Christmas is over, and it went very well for us. Brandon and i made a quick trip to Texline and celebrated Christmas on Christmas eve at my parents' house, with my brother and my sister and her husband. The insulated shirt jacket went over well, and my mom liked the Christmas table runner I made for her (pic at left). I'm so excited to finally get to post pictures of all the things I've been working on for the last month or so.

Christmas morning we had Brandon's parents, maternal grandparents, and his brother and sister over for brunch. His mom brought muffins, his grandmother brought spiced cider, and I made a breakfast casserole, fruit and yogurt parfaits, and pecan praline biscuits.

I got a serger! I've been wanting one for quite awhile. I will also have to be buying a new sewing machine sometime soon, since my old Kenmore barely made it though the Christmas projects. The stitch length randomly varies itself, and the tension is wacky.

Brandon loves the shirt jacket I made for him. Thanks to it being the second one, I think it turned out better. I had Brandon try Ty's on several times to assess fit and such, so I tweaked it a bit to suit Brandon, putting in side seam pockets (he thought Ty's should have had them, and the first thing Ty did when he put it on was stick his hands where the pockets would have been) and putting a drawstring on the hood (there are two views for the pattern, one with a collar, one with hood. Brandon got the hooded version, since he likes to have his ears covered.). Of course there was the inevitable "monkey arms" alteration. I am planning a post to detail these changes.

Brandon's grandmothers both liked the potholders I made for them. As you can see, the teacup pattern abounded this Christmas. I really like it, which isn't surprising since I collect teacups. I am toying with the idea of making a teacup quilt for myself, although it is a very big project, and would have to be some time down the road.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Is Wal-Mart Cheaper than Sewing Your Own? (Ty, Don't Read This)

I figure there is about a .0001 % chance that my little brother reads my blog about sewing, so it is safe to post his Christmas present. But if I am wrong, Tyrel, don't read this! Or I will give it to Brandon, and you will get a lump of coal.

I have heard lots of women say that they don't sew (anymore) because it's just cheaper to buy clothes at Wal-Mart. Is it?

I'd say yes and no. Sometimes, if you get fabric and patterns on sale or at a thrift store, it's cheaper to sew your own. I've made dresses that cost $2. I bought four yards of fabric at a thrift store for fifty cents, and if you use vintage patterns found at a thrift store, patterns can be 10 cents apiece, as opposed to the $8 or so that they cost new and not on sale.

But sometimes you can't find these wonderful deals, or you are making something like the shirt jacket that I made my brother for Christmas. Which, being lined, required somewhere along the lines of six yards of fabric. Which I did buy on sale. I bought the pattern, which is out of print, off of E-bay, so it cost a more than ten cents. All in all, I'd say materials cost around $20. The cost of the pattern can be spread out among the many projects I hope to make from it. While I was slaving over this shirt jacket (and believe me, I got to be good friends with my seam ripper) I saw that similar items (insulated flannel shirt jackets) cost around $15 at Wal-Mart.

The thing about Wal-Mart, though, is that the quality of the clothing is low. My husband has one of those cheap shirt jackets, and it falls apart a little more each time it is washed. And the cloth that I made Ty's shirt out of is moleskin, not the flannel that they make the shirts at Wal-Mart out of. And moleskin shirts cost a bit more than $15. Also, gray and black is a color combination that I believe Ty is fond of. I just did a google search for men's moleskin shirt jackets, and they all cost more than I spent on materials (from $25 for an unlined one, to $90 and considerably higher), and only one came in that color combination. Oh yeah, and Ty has monkey arms, so off the rack shirts in "his size" don't usually have long enough sleeves to suit him.

So sometimes, what you have to take into consideration is not, "Is it cheaper than Wal-Mart?" but "Is it cheaper than items OF SIMILAR QUALITY and the same material?" and "Can I find it in the colors/size/style that I want?"

Okay, stepping off the soap box now.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Warm Winter Coats

Being warm in the winter is something that I think a lot of people take for granted. There are a lot of people who have a hard time achieving that, though, partly because winter coats can be very expensive. If you know of a coat drive in your area, I encourage you to contribute to it. Go through your closets for gently used coats.

I volunteer once or twice a week at a clothing pantry (Is that the right word? Like a food pantry gives away food, we give away clothes) and we are always in need of children's coats (at least this time of year). There are a lot of thin jackets, but few heavy coats. Also men's coats. I assume this is because men buy fewer coats and wear them out before getting new ones.

If you don't have any gently used coats, it's a great idea to check out the Salvation Army or other thrift stores and buy some to donate. I've found a nice kid's parka for $1 once, and today I bought several coats for around $4 apiece.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Christmas Inspirations!

Glory Gifts, a shop on Etsy, has some really cute Christmas things in her shop. My favorites are these mini stockings, which come in several colors. Obviously they are handmade with lots of love!