Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What? No sewing?

Alas, the sewing has taken a back seat this week. I do have some mending I really need to get done, and my plan was to have both MIL shirts done by Sunday- so there will still be some stitchery by the weekend. In the meantime, I thought I'd let you know why there's minimal sewing going on and then treat you to a wildly delicious recipe I've recently discovered.

The reason for the lack of sewing is that I'm exhausted. Completely W.I.P.E.D. O.U.T. I have decided that this is the year to run my first (sprint distance) triathlon. I've been thinking about it for several years, but this is it and I'm letting everyone know so that wimping out is not an option. The big day is six months away because I'm not in great shape now, but look out September 13th, here I come!

This is the first week of training and so far I have run 6.23 miles, biked 9 miles and swam a measly 300 yards (6ish + 4 + 600 to go). I have been not so good about keeping in shape so far this year so my body is screaming in protest this week, but I am adjusting pretty quickly so I expect I'll be back in full swing by next week.

In the meantime, I recently discovered a recipe for bagels. It is so much simpler than I would ever have guessed and has yielded perfect bagels three times so far which makes it a TNT in my kitchen. Hubby has been in a breakfast rut (all of his adult life) and only wants 2 fried eggs and 2 pieces of toast every single day. Every. Single. Day. Until now! Now he only wants bagels during the week, what a testament! We dip the bagels into a mix of parmasean cheese and garlic powder before baking them... mmmmmmm. Here's the link to the recipe! He says it's as easy as baking a loaf of bread, but I say it's easier because it's too simple a dough even for my trusty bread machine! They take about an hour and a half from start to finish.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A learning experience

I'm making progress on my MIL's shirts, I'm mostly through the first one which is the solid pink. I've opted for 3/4 length sleeves on that one and short sleeves on the stripey one. I think what I'll do to settle the collar issue is make up a self collar in two pieces for a chevron effect and then make up a white one and decide what I think when the top is nearly done.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a learning experience with you. I almost never make a pattern as it was intended. I'm always making some kind of design change or combining this part with that part to come up with a hybrid. Because of this I would really love to learn to draft patterns myself and have been working on that. I've made several attempts at drafting my own patterns, sometimes from scratch and sometimes from BurdaStyle patterns (which I downloaded when they were free, it still annoys me that they're $4 each now).

To kick my drafting attempts up a notch I had decided that I would try to draft a polo shirt for my MIL. I used a BurdaStyle tank top pattern for the base and drafted sleeves (with instructions from Shirtmaking) and then also drafted a front placket based on the sleeve placket from Shirtmaking. This worked fairly well. Somehow I was off several inches on the collar when it came time to put that on, I'm not sure if that was a measurement failure since I am not great at math or if it was a failure to stay stitch the collar. Maybe it was a combination. (The photo is blurry because my photographer is impatient and doesn't believe in re-doing blurry photos...)

From Grillo Originals

From Grillo Originals

The part that kept me up at night was the part where the placket met the collar. On the RTW shirts I analyzed the collar comes halfway into the placket and the placket is about 1.5-2 inches wide. I couldn't work out how all the seams were finished or in what order everything was made. It made me COMPLETELY NUTS for about a week. Finally I wound up with a workable version only to realize that I had inserted the placket crooked. Ugh. I used snaps instead of buttons too because I didn't interface the placket and was not looking forward to digging the flimsy knit out of my sewing machine. I liked the snaps, I will probably do that again sometime. I'll try not to repeat the crooked placket though.

Here's what I wound up doing at the collar/placket junction. Not the neatest finish, but not that different from RTW.

From Grillo Originals

I wore the shirt a couple of times, but as it turns out the crooked placket is irritating. I'm thinking I'll cut the shirt either into a tank top or into a little polo for my friend's daughter (she wears a 2T so it would probably fit!)

Anyway, chalk that one up to a learning experience. Someday I will get to a point in my abilities where I can just dream something up and more or less make it. For now even the failures bring me some enjoyment so I'll just continue trucking along.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter! And a shirt

Here's the finished shirt- it was BWOF 04-2009-105. I have to say, I'm not impressed. Not that I expected this to be perfect, I'm not sure what my fitting issue is with shirts, but it is certainly not better with the alterations I made.

This shirt didn't have much of a chance from the beginning anyway, seeing how it had no darts. What's with that anyway? No darts? I see that it fit the super slender boyish bodied model in the magazine, but anyone with curves or a chest shouldn't go with this style I don't think. I also don't like the sleeve cap height they've got on this pattern. I was thinking it was pretty extreme when I was tracing it but didn't fix it. I should have.

I made some unsuccessful alterations- I added the darts from my last Vogue dress... which worked in the front, not in the back. I also made a forward shoulder adjustment and an arm flab adjustment and a full bust adjustment.... none of which fixed the fact that I can't reach forward in this shirt without popping seams. Please pipe up if you have any idea what causes this tightness- Hubby says I look like I'm doing a dance in this photo so you have to click through to it. It's super tight across my back about where my bra strap goes. I have my arms up as high as I can reach in the shirt.

I did get compliments on this at Easter dinner, so I guess it's not too terrible. Here are the photos (I did iron it before I left, what a pain it was!)

From Grillo Originals

From Grillo Originals

Overall I think this will be a wadder. I wore it, it was okay, but it was a BEAR to iron and I don't really like it. I do like the color, luckily I have more of the sheet I made it out of. I think I'll try something else with it next.

One funny thing is that the shirt was almost six inches longer than this to begin with, so I went to trim it and.... oops, too short! So I had to finish it with bias binding and it was still too short. I got so mad when I realized what I had done that Hubby made me go for a run to cool off! Ha! It worked, but it didn't fix the shirt.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


I finished my Jalie top. I LOVE IT! It is absolutely fabulous. I had fun putting it together and I wore it yesterday only to discover that it is the most comfy top I have in my clost. Here's the review I put up on PR.

I am definitely planning several more versions of this top. The first two of course being for my MIL for Mother's Day. I think I've decided I'll put a white collar and placket on the pink striped one because I can't find a solid to match. What do you think? Here are the fabrics again.

From Grillo Originals

The solid pink one will just be plain and solid. The stripey one is the one I'm going back and forth on. I don't think a striped collar would look good. But maybe?

Here is a photo of the prototype on me. I really love this pattern. I think I'll be making several more of these and then I'll modify it into a t-shirt pattern too, I need more of those and this fits SO WELL when it's on!
From Grillo Originals

So... for the rest of today I've got to go take the pup to get her staples out and then I need to finish my Easter top! All it needs is darts and a hem, so I think it should be a quick fix. Hopefully I'll post on that this afternoon.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My First Jalie

I broke down and bought Jalie 2562 to make my MIL's Mother's Day polos. I had drafted a polo but it didn't really turn out quite how I wanted it to. More on that some other day (if I ever get around to tweaking it, otherwise it's frustratingly close to what I wanted, just not quite there.) I read such good things about this Jalie on that I'm really excited to be making it. Here's the fabric I picked out for the prototype (I'm making her the same size I wear, but with a bigger FBA for her- so I'm getting the prototype.)

From Grillo Originals

Isn't this fabric cool? I love it! I was so excited when I found it. Here's my only Jalie beef so far though, the pattern in size V (size I'm making) calls for 1 yard in view A and another 5/8 in contrasting fabric. It wasn't really clear whether the 5/8 needed to be added to the 1 yard for an all matching shirt or what, so I got 2 yards because while too little fabric is never good, too much fabric can sometimes bring happy surprises. Just for the record though, this laid out in EXACTLY a yard. So perfectly exact it was crazy. So it looks like I'm getting another shirt out of this print too- sweet!

So far I've only cut out the shirt and made the placket. I saw some reviews that made it sound like the placket was a real PIA, but I've got to say I didn't have any problems with it at all. Maybe it's all those dress shirts I've been making, but it's going together like a dream so far. The fabric is a little tricky because it's SO stretchy, but it's super soft and pretty so I've got no complaints. My plan is to wear this to work on casual Friday, so hopefully you'll get to see finished photos then!

And one for me

I've got two projects going this week. Both are looking promising. First there's BWOF 04-2009-105 which is a somewhat unexciting button up blouse. Which I was excited about because I've been looking for one of those. I can't find a RTW button up shirt that fits me comfortably for anything, I've always got gaposis in the front and super tight across the shoulder blades in the back, so if I stand perfectly still with my arms by my side, they look good and that's it. So, with all these shirts I've been making for Hubby, I was anxious to find a pattern I can make for me. It's almost done. I hate the term "wearable muslin" because I think if you're going to make a muslin, do it right and if you're going to make a garment, do it right. This though, kinda fits into that category- I prefer to call it a prototype though. It's made out of a sheet I bought on clearance at Linens N Things when they were going out of business so I have more of this fabric and won't be heartbroken if it doesn't work out- I also took really careful measurements of the shirt that does kinda fit me better than most and altered and copied where the pattern needed altering and copying. So I suppose I have a wearable muslin. If it turns out wearable. Here it is so far.

From Grillo Originals
Sooooo wrinkly! Ha! But I like the fabric (despite the fact that it's a nightmare to iron). I did a FBA and now it fits fine in the bust, but like a tent in the waist. This pattern has no darts and I went back and forth about altering to add them, in the end I've decided to take in the sides a bit and add front and back princess seam darts. I have no idea what those kinds of darts are called, but I'm hoping you'll get the idea. I think I'll copy the darts from my Vogue dress because those worked well.

From Grillo Originals
I also changed the placket and cuffs. I used my favorite book, Shirtmaking for the patterns. I like how they came out, I'm getting really good at plackets!

From Grillo Originals
Here's my lazy part, I actually copied this from my RTW shirt that I copied some of the other details from. The seams are sewn and then serged about 1/8" away from the seam. Huh. The fabric is so thick I didn't think the flat felled seams were necessary for it to look nice. They're such a pain in the butt too! So this is a lazy shirt, but it doesn't really look that way when it's on.

From Grillo Originals

Here's the no darts part. If anyone has good advice for how to add successful darts, I'm trying to make this into a TNT pattern so alteration tips are very welcome! Also, does anyone else have the problem of shirts being so tight across the shoulder blades? The shirt falls in all the right places with my arms down (I'll show pics soon- this is half of my Easter outfit) but when I put them out in front of me it's crazy tight back there. I don't know if I really like pleats in the back of ladies' shirts, but I'm afraid that's what I'll have to resort to! Is there some other alteration I'm missing? The armsyce seems to fit well so I don't think it's that.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Organization is Awesome

Organization is awesome, but so incredibly difficult! Last weekend once we knew what was wrong with Shaya but while she was still recovering from surgery at the animal hospital I managed to finally attack my sewing room. I didn't take before pictures because I didn't want the evidence to exist. Here's the short version of how it got so bad:

When we first moved to Colorado from Georgia I was working from home, so this room was my office. I'm in the publishing industry, so my office was crammed full of the magazines my company published along with all of our competitors' magazines (gotta keep track of the competition!) and all kinds of homeless wires and computer paraphanalia. ugh. That was August 2007. In January 2008 I got an office outside the house because I cannot handle working from home. I have no idea how people do it. I'm awed by anyone who can because holy shnikies it is so much more difficult than it sounds! Anyway, that's when the office/sewing room took a turn for the worst because then it became dumping grounds for anything homeless in the house. Double ugh. Then came the serger (last Christmas)- the only real table and area that made sense was my desk in my office because my two machines and I were no longer welcome at the kitchen table for long periods of time. As much as I had good intentions of organizing my newfound sewing haven, every time I went in there I just got so distracted by all the potential projects calling my name that I couldn't resist! So it got worse before it got better. Pins in the long carpet made it a minefield because somehow I figured those really invisible pins without the colored globes on them would be a better bet, scraps of fabric strayed everywhere, one pattern here, one over there, you get the idea. It was a nightmare.

So while I don't have any before pictures for you, I do have after pictures of my new extra happy place, complete with a table I can use to trace off patterns instead of using the island in the kitchen which gets my Hubby almost as happy as me! Now the trick is just to keep it this way. Honestly though, this is the first time I've had a real sewing studio and it makes me so happy now that it's all finished that I can't imagine letting it lapse into the sad place it was before.

Sewing table with both machines.

Fabrics hanging in the closet without doors- I refuse to iron pre-treated fabric before its purpose is known and its project is started so they look messy, but at least I can find everything I want or need!

Layout and tracing table which also works for cutting the smaller stuff.

Ironing station with two irons just in case one isn't doing the trick- ha!

And what sewing room is complete without one of these? This is Rodi (pronounced roadie), my other slavic named pet. Rodi is Americanized shortened from Rodya (Pronounced "ROAD-yah")which is the nickname for Razkalnikov who is a crazy character from Crime and Punishment. Rodi was a crazy little kitten so I decided to name him after someone equally as crazy.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What a doozy!

I owe several posts here, the most notable being of the first "Little Dresses Sewing Group" meeting. I still haven't taken photos of the finished dresses (much less mailed them where they need to go) but I've got ONE HECK OF AN EXCUSE!

Here's my pup, her name is Shaya which is short for "Bolshaya" which means "big" in Russian. Yes, I am a serious slavofile loving all things slavic and more specifically Russian. Anyway, she's adorable and sweet and 4 years old.

Awww! She's usually quite spunky but she started to slow down the Sunday after the Little Dresses group meeting. We went to the vet, but no answers really, just some home remedy ideas and a big bill. Ugh. Well, I won't get into the gory details, but last Friday afternoon (almost a week later) it became extremely apparent that something was extremely wrong with her and it was getting worse, not better. Back to the vet we went, and straight to the emergency after hours clinic we were sent. They didn't really have any ideas at first either- until they did an ultrasound and determined that her spleen had twisted (What?!) even the vet said this is unbelievably rare, leave it to Shaya to explore new territory.

So long story short, Shaya is now sans spleen. She seems happy enough, despite the fact that her massive stapled up incision makes my skin crawl with empathy pain- she doesn't seem to mind a bit. I'm positive she feels better than she has for the last couple of weeks. So there's my long winded excuse for not posting over the last two weeks.

In other news, I actually did get some sewing done over the weekend, and I organized my sewing room (you would have to know me well to realize what an unbelievable accomplishment that is- ha!). The sewing project is almost done, when it is completely done I'll post a review, but so far it is turning out well. It will be a pair of shorts for Hubby who is in desperate need of new shorts. The pattern seems to be maybe out of print, but they're the exact same shorts from Simplicity 5581 which I wish was out when I bought the pattern initially because in that same trip, I bought a shirt pattern exactly like the one now included- ha! Anyway, they're turning out great but a little tight. I did my best to outsmart the big 4 sizing while not having Hubby on hand to measure directly. All things considered, at least I came out close enough that they'll be worn. I think they'll wind up TNT, but I can tell you there won't be that many versions with all the pockets included.

Well, off I go now. Hubby's best friend is coming to visit today and I've got to go make some last minute preparations before he gets here. Poor guy is coming from the UK and has just spent a few days in Miami so unfortunately I think the snowstorms we're supposed to get while he's here will be a major disappointment! I am hoping he checked a weather report so he packed sufficient clothing!