Sunday, February 4, 2018

Maker's Tote Bag

Binding my new tote
My latest project is a Maker's Tote Bag by Noodlehead, made during a class in the newest quilt shop here in Loveland, called Stitches.   I recently upgraded my embroidery software so I just had to add a design to the out pocket.
I made the large size
Once I saw this pattern and the sample bag I knew I had to make it. This bag has so many pockets it will be so useful.
Gusseted inside pocket
It has a gusseted inside pocket, interfaced and edge stitched to form a nice clean gusset. 
Inside slip pocket
 The is also an inside slip pocket. Our teacher had us mark each piece with a label, so we wouldn't mix pieces up, but I did anyway. I had to take out the pocket and put the correct one in. And that was after I reinforced the top edges with bar tacks.
Outside pocket
Here is the outside pocket, the one with the monogram. I sewed the right side of the inside layer to the wrong side of the pocket, so you can see the interfacing instead of the peachy pink fabric. Oh well, I'm not about to redo it. I can live with this mistake.
Outside zippered pocket
The outside zippered pocket was a challenge to get sewn in as I didn't trim the interfacing from the seams around the zipper as I should have. One of the other students decided to under stitch the lining to seam allowance before installing the zipper, just like you would on a garment facing. Brilliant idea! It looked very nice.
Clipping the binding in place
Not only did I have to clip the binding in place (those wonder clip are marvelous, aren't they?) I had to baste the binding to the bag just to get it sewn properly.
Magnet closures instead of a zipper
The pattern calls for a large separating zipper, but I decided to use three sets of strong magnets. They hold the two sides in place nicely.

The finished bag!
Here it is! I've already brought it to a stitcher's lunch yesterday and it received rave reviews. The bag is constructed with lots of interfacing to give it strength and stability. Soft and Stable is used for the outer portion, Decor Bond for the side gussets, and Pellon SF 101 for all the pockets and the straps. It is really well designed and I plan to get a lot of use out of it. The only thing I would do differently is to use a darker color for the two C's in the monogram. This shade is just a bit hard to see. After it was finished I took it outside and sprayed the outside thoroughly with Scotch Guard. I hope to keep it clean for a long time then I'll have it dry cleaned.

While I was going through my stash to find fabrics for this bag that actually coordinated, I came upon an interesting discovery. I could not find four fabrics for this bag, only three. That means my stash is slowly depleting down to manageable levels. I'm actually quite proud of myself.

Happy Stitching!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Marcy Tilton Skirt Vogue 9283

First Finish for 2018!
Here it is, my first finish for 2018, Marcy Tilton for Vogue 9283. I sometimes refer to this skirt as the one from you-know-where, but I can't blame it all on the pattern. This past year I've sewn a few Marcy Tilton patterns, as they often have very interesting details.
Sorry I cut off the pattern number
The pattern calls for moderate stretch knits (35% cross grain) such as Ponte, Jersey, Knit Jacquard. I chose two bamboo fabrics from Elfriede's Fine Fabrics in Boulder, Colorado. The store is an hour's drive away, and is the closest fabric store other than the big chain store. The fabric is a four way stretch, which just about drove me crazy, as I'm not used to sewing with knits.
Non matching pattern pieces
This pattern has seven pattern pieces, but I used only six. Pattern piece 1 is for two pockets that are positioned inside the skirt at the front waist towards the side. As there was no way I would grope inside the front of the skirt while out in public, I omitted the pockets. What an odd design.

Here's the other thing that was very frustrating. All the seams were labeled with letters, see the two "G" seams on the pattern pieces above. However, there is no way in the world that the notches match up. Assuming the large squares on the right need to match, the notches are way off as you look to the left of the square. The "I" seams didn't match either. Luckily I encountered this fairly early on in the construction, and then I started basting the seams together. I also had to mark the seams with a piece of paper with the letter marked on it. I had been sewing the seams using the wobble stitch on my sewing machine, and saved all the overlocking for the end. I wanted to make sure the skirt went together properly before committing myself with the overlocker.
Wonky corner seam (top left)
With six pattern pieces this pattern has some odd seaming. On the top left corner of this photo, there is a corner seam, and another on the opposite side of the skirt.
Y-seam on the front
The front of the skirt has a Y seam, which is actually pretty easy.  Look at all the colors in the print! 
Typical odd seam
 Here is another odd seam, somewhere down in the back of the skirt.
My not so perfect overlocking
After the skirt was finished, I tried it on and it fit! Only then did I take it to the overlocker to completely sew the skirt together and finish the seams. With practice I should get better.
Wonderful Japanese elastic!
The nice thing about going to a really good fabric store is that the owner and employees understand garment construction and look for and stock good products. This is an extremely soft and lovely elastic from Japan that sews in beautifully. I measured the elastic to fit, pinned it to the top of the skirt, and used the overlocker to sew it to the top seam. I then turned the elastic to the inside and topstitched it in place with a zig zag stitch. This is by far the best way to insert elastic that I've found, but it does need to be the right size and you can't adjust it after sewing it in.

I bought some orange knit fabric to match the orange in the skirt, but have yet to make it. The nice thing about the skirt is that there are many opportunities for coordinating tops and jackets. I haven't worn this yet as it is fairly light in weight and it is January here in Colorado with snow on the ground.

See my review on Pattern Review!

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Welcome 2018!

Hello everyone!  It's been a whole year since I've blogged, and I'm really ashamed of myself for falling down on the job. I have no excuse, except that we watch our grandson all day and granddaughter after school, so we are pretty busy.  We also get them up and the older one off to school so we have fairly long days. Plus, having a two year old around means that not much gets done.

I have sewn quite a bit over the last year, and hope to sew even more in 2018. There is a wonderful blog called Goodbye Valentino that is hosting a ready to wear fast for the whole year. I've signed up, so no clothes buying for me this year.  I don't have serious plans, other than the following.
  1. Charity sewing: Tote bags for a women's shelter, I hope to make six over the next few days.
  2. At least one knit top to coordinate with an awful-to-make skirt I just finished and will blog about soon. 
  3. Finish two quilts, and maybe start (and finish) another. Mr CS and I have decided that we just don't have enough quilts around here. 
  4. A wardrobe for a short cruise to come in May-June. 
  5. A nice dress for the SAGA convention in September. I'm now on the Board of Directors so that gives me an extra incentive to look nice. 
Back in 2016 I purchased a Pfaff 4.0 Coverlock during a Black Friday sale, and have spent quite a bit of time learning its capabilities. Last October I took a three day "Serger Boot Camp" which gave me so much confidence in threading and using it. During the class we used Babylock 8 thread sergers, quite a bit more advanced than my 5 thread Pfaff, but the class was still valuable. We learned a great deal about which stitches to use for different applications. Of course Babylocks are a breeze to thread with the air threading system, and now the newest model even threads the needles. But at a price tag of over $10,000, I think I can thread my own serger. 

I plan to document some of the clothes I made last year, along with my new items. Stay tuned and Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

First Finish for 2017

Brand new PJ's
The first project for 2017 is finished, two pair of PJ's for my granddaughter. These are the only photos, as my granddaughter took them home yesterday and wore the pink pair to bed. I put piping on the pink, but not the blue.

You can tell I forgot to bring the fabric with me when I picked out buttons. If I had remembered, they just might match the fabric. Oh well, she loves them.

This fabric is from Chadwick Heirlooms and is absolutely lovely to sew on. For her first two pair I used Joann's fabric and I can really see the difference. The Joann's fabric is thicker and ravels more easily but the Chadwick is softer and finer, and presses beautifully.

Next project: pants! I've lost enough weight (25 lbs now) that nothing I own fits me. I have a big pile for Goodwill and am literally down to one pair of jeans, one old pair of brown slacks, and some baggy sweats and yoga pants.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

My new toy!
I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas and are having a Happy New Year. I'm recovering from last night's celebrations (ironing fabric while watching Twilight Zone) by watching the episode "Once Upon a Time" with Buster Keaton. It's hilarious.

I got a wonderful Christmas present this year, a Pfaff Coverlock 4.0. Actually, I got it during the Black Friday sales, so I've been using it for a month now, and already have had to empty the fabric catcher. Once I took the Jean-ius Craftsy class I realized that it would be a real help to my sewing efforts.

I know I haven't posted in quite a while and I do have a good reason. My daughter started a new job shortly before Thanksgiving and commutes to Denver each day. So we go to her house each morning, get the kids up and the older one off to school, then bring the toddler home, pick the older one up from school, monitor homework, feed them dinner and keep entertained. Her parents don't pick them up until after 6:30, so we are pretty exhausted by the end of the day. At least she can drive with her husband, who also works in Denver.

Great PJ pattern, I might make some for myself
I've done some sewing lately, and will post about it as I can. Right now, I'm working on two pair of PJ's for my granddaughter, as the ones I made in 2014 and 2013 are half way to her knees. I used the same pattern, Simplicity 2771, and even the same size. I just added 5 inches (13 cm) to the legs, and 2 inches (5 cm) to the bodice and sleeves.

Serged seam allowances
I've stitched the seams on the sewing machine, serged the edges, then topstitched the seams. I'm not ready to sew the entire garment on the serger.

Beautiful topstitched seam
My serger lessons begin on January 27, and run for three sessions. I was able to thread it on the third try, so I'm pretty happy about that. I was originally a bit nervous about the difficulty of threading it, but I finally realized that I've written more complicated procedures in past jobs. So I figured that I could handle it, and I have. Of course, I've only threaded it once, and only used the four thread overlock stitch. But I'm looking forward to trying the other stitches.

I'm trying to formulate plans for 2017, and will publish them later in the week. In the meantime, Happy Stitching in this New Year!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Jean-ius Craftsy Class

Dear Readers, I'm finally winding down from a flurry of sewing and traveling. After the SAGA convention I went to Boise for a weekend, then to Los Angeles for a wedding. Now I'm home and can catch my breath.

Very old Ralph Lauren jeans
I just finished sewing my first pair of jeans, from taking the Jean-ius class on Craftsy. The class, taught by Kenneth D King, focuses on copying your favorite pair of well fitting jeans. In the class, Prof King has you draft a pattern from existing jeans by marking grain lines and seams, tracing onto silk organza, then again onto paper. After making a muslin, you transfer corrections to the paper and make the jeans from the corrected pattern. He assumes you are using a well loved and fitted pair, but mine were so old and stretched out, I had trouble with the grain lines. As a result, they are slightly off grain, but more about that later.

I fitted the muslin by taking many photos of myself, making the changes, then taking more photos. This isn't ideal, but as I don't have a fitting partner, it's all I can do. Also, I used cotton twill for the muslin, and a heathery grey stretch denim for the jeans. So I fitted the muslin a bit snug and hoped for the best.

The pocket placement could be just a bit better
I can't figure out how I managed to place these pockets a bit off, as I did use one pattern piece for the back and marked the placement at the same time. But no one will be examining my rear end closely so it's not too bad. The construction details that Prof King uses are nicely detailed.

Self faced pockets
Instead of folding the top edge of the pocket over twice and stitching, as on most jeans, Prof King has you finish the edge, fold one, and topstitch. This give a smoother pocket and looks great. In the class, he demonstrates two finishes, a zig zag and trim, and a serged edge. Several times he assures the viewers that a zig zag edge is a perfectly acceptable finish. Which is good, as I don't have a serger. Here I used one of the edge finish stitches available on my machine.

Front closeup
 No belt loops or rivets on these. I don't intend to ever wear them with a top tucked in, so I didn't bother. I'm pleased with the zipper placket, it was so gratifying to make it and have it come out correctly. I did put the watch pocket in, just for fun. I'm sure I won't ever use it.

Quilting cotton pocket bag
 I used a scrap of quilting cotton for the pocket bag. The class comes with a pdf of instructions to drafting a pocket bag and I wish I would have used it instead of copying the too small bag on the jeans. Lesson learned.

Back seam finishes
On the back center seam and yoke seams, I used the plain zig zag for the finish. And you know what? I think it looks fine.

Nice, tidy hem finish
I love his hem finish, similar to the back pocket. Mark the hem, trim and finish to 1/2 inch (15 cm), then topstitch 3/8 inch (10 cm) from the bottom. Nice and smooth. I love it. This is another of the edge finishes available on my machine.

Hmm, should have pulled them up a bit and stopped moving
Here's the front view.  Sorry for the blur in the photo. I had it on a 3 second timer instead of 10 seconds. On the left front pocket you can see a tiny line of the pocket bag, I'll have to do a better job of turning. 

A little baggy, but so comfortable!
Here is the rear view. There are a couple of bubbles around the yoke that I hope to fix in the next pair. I'll also have to work on the drag lines lower down. These actually fit better than the original jeans, and are more comfortable than the sweat pants I'm wearing now. All in all, I'm very happy with this class and recommend it to anyone who wants to copy a pair of jeans. 

A couple of things to note: Don't use an old stretched out pair as I did. It's impossible to get the graininess straight. The side seams on this pair rotate a bit to the front, a sure sign of being off grain. But I think I will transfer the fit details to a commercial pattern I have and see if that works.  Prof King assumes you know how to hem the jeans and put in button holes, so this isn't a class for a complete newbie. But it is pretty detailed. 

I definitely recommend trying to find some inexpensive stretch fabric if you are making stretch jeans. I have some black stretch and blue non stretch denim to make two more pair, so I'll consider these my wearable muslin for the stretch fabric. If you take a Craftsy class, be sure to read all the questions and answers before sewing. And do this for the entire class. I didn't and missed a great tip about staying the waistband of stretch denim so it doesn't stretch out further with wear. If I lose more weight and have to replace the waistband, I'll definitely stay it. 

I have a lot more to share with you about other projects and hope to post more in the coming weeks. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Post Convention Blues

Needle holder, needle, and little clamps
The SAGA Convention in Hampton, Virginia, is over, and most attendees have packed and are off to home. I am staying over tonight as my flight to Denver is Monday morning. I had a wonderful time, meeting old friends and making new ones. Being in Northern Colorado, I'm a bit isolated from all of my stitching friends back in California, so it was nice to reconnect with them and those that I only see at Conventions. Several of the local chapters provide table favors with the meals, so this post will be show you what useful things we received. The theme for this Convention was "Anchored in SAGA" as it was held in Hampton, Virginia, on the East Coast. One of the chapters digitized the logo and embroidered it on felt to create needle books. There were also quilt clamps and a very large needle for making very large bullions.

Smocking Plates
We were given smocking plates at three meals.

Luggage handle cushion, coaster, visor tissue holder
 Little sewn items: a luggage handle cushion with room for address information inside an acrylic window, a coaster in nautical theme fabric, and a tissue holder with elastic so it can be stretched over a car visor.

Organza pressing cloth, pleat counter, wax
 The organza pressing cloth was actually a door prize I won (the only thing, alas), a very handy pleat counter and wax for sewing threads. I use a lot of wax so this will be handy.

Don't forget the beer!
No, this wasn't a table favor. One of the ladies didn't manage to drink the beer she bought, so I'm bringing it home for Mr CS. I'm sure he will love it. He's been babysitting since I left on Monday so will be glad to get a bit of relief. 

I took four different classes all on embroidery, and I will blog separately about each one, which I hope will make me complete them. So, more to come!

Oops, one last thing. Follow this link to the SAGA Smock Along FB page. The mayor of Hampton showed up to visit the Convention. He actually knew what pleating was and posed in front of the Wee Care gowns. What a guy!