Friday, November 30, 2012

Inspired By

My jeans were getting shorter and it wasn't due to heat since they're washed in cold water and hung to dry. I'd fluffed up and the denim needed to stretch a further distance which raised the hem. Yesterday, I put on my tear them off in ten minutes because they're way too tight pair and wore them all day. YEAH! I'm not sure what happened because I certainly haven't done anything different but whatever it was, it works for me! I have no desire to either gain or lose weight. I'd prefer to stay the size of my pattern collection - especially the ones I've already sewn - and - LOL - a little defluffing gets me back there.

In October, I bought a high quality, very stable, grey knit in the bargain center. It was such a fabulous find that even the woman cutting my fabric wanted some. At home, when I washed it, a stripe appeared. What a surprise. That's never happened before. The image above is of the right side. The reverse has a more subtle stripe. That's the side I decided to use for my next version of the Vogue 1312 dress although considering I've changed the front bodice, the back bodice, the neckline shape, the sleeve, the sleeve width, the sleeve length, the shape of the skirt pieces, and the order of construction, it's more inspired by Vogue 1312 and not exactly like it.

With a knit, I didn't need as much ease in the bodice and took each side seam in 3/8" at the underarm or an additional 1 1/4" in total and...

... eliminated the zipper - LOL - even though I'd already made all the changes to use one. It's not a problem to get it over my head or put it back in. When I next use a woven, everything will have been worked out in advance. This is good since I'm sure I'll sew this again. It's a very fun dress.

The sleeves are from my T & T pattern developed from New Look 6735. With a knit, it made sense to use this pattern since it's already tested. Just the skirt is left to finish. If all goes well, photos of the finished dress next week.

Some weeks are good, some definitely not, and some are absolutely wonderful. This week has been like that. Absolutely wonderful. I've met new people, learned new things, spent time with family and friends including looking at an ultrasound picture of my not yet hugable grandbaby, had yummy food, defluffed into my tighter jeans, and this dress is one of those projects that flows together nicely and is a joy to work on. I should probably buy a lottery ticket.

And yet - even as I enjoy my amazing week - I am aware that in contrast a friend is having one of the worst weeks of her life with the loss of her youngest sister. Life is like that. It ebbs and flows. What's so incredibly difficult today eventually gives way to joy. Thank God. Life reminds us to celebrate - to laugh, to cry, to be grateful, to say thank you and I love you more often.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - my wonderful week

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Silk Scarves

Yesterday, I was invited to learn how to make silk scarves with transferred dyes which was just perfect because - as you know -  I love learning new things.

We made three - two predominately red and one predominately blue. You can see a bit of the yellow wall behind at far left and the drop cloths in-between. Aren't the colors gorgeous?

The dyes are transferred from cut up bits of silk ties. We used five different ties with each scarf but that's an arbitrary number. You can use as many or as few as you'd like. I learned two methods. With the one above, the silk blank is underneath, the tie bits in the middle, and a drop cloth is placed over top. With the one below...

... the drop cloth is on the bottom, the ties bits in the middle, and the silk blank over top. The blanks we used were 8" x 72". Other sizes are available. They came from Dharma Trading.

Once the layers are in place, they are rolled tightly together. My friend used bamboo skewers to start the roll. I used 1/4" doweling. We discovered that it's better to start rolling right at rather than on to the edge of the silk blank to avoid the bubbling you see in the picture. 

The skewers (doweling) are removed once the roll is tied together and before processing the dyes.

Here the scarves are rinsed and hanging up to dry after which they'll be heat set with a steam iron. The three scarves are in front and the three drop cloths behind. It was a relatively quick and not at all messy process that could easily be applied to other projects. I've done some work with transfer dyes in the past but not much. This was good learning.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - new and transferable techniques

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Toe Up

If you've looked at the comments recently, you may have noticed something new - I can reply directly. YEAH. That certainly makes for better communication. Thanks to Kristin for helping me figure out what to do. I would never have known it was the embedded option to look for.

My first goal yesterday was to get the second sock started and be a toe up in the process before knit night. Once it's finished, I'll bind them both off using the method that Ann linked to and maybe the one that LornaJay mentioned too - one of each to compare results. I learned about a third one at knit night although it sounded way more complicated so I'll try these two first.

My second goal was to redraft the Vogue 1312 skirt ready to cut out. The original plan looks like this. Center front and center back are cut on fold and seamed at the sides. The lower skirt panels are joined into a tube and then sewn to the upper skirt. It makes for some tricky corners. If you followed Sham's tutorial, you'd sew the lower panels to the upper ones first and then stitch the corners. That works better in my opinion. The corners are nicer. 

Sorry for the less than beautiful drawings. With this plan, center back is seamed to allow for a zipper and the lower skirt piece is joined to the upper skirt forming one piece instead of two that are seamed. The waist is divided on the diagonal to the corner of the points and then down to the hem which is pegged to help push the (now slightly curved) points out further.

In the drawing, the side pieces are drafted with a side seam. They could be cut on fold however, this is a heavy skirt and I wanted the stability of the side seam plus the ability to peg it just slightly. I'd vary that option depending on the fabric. The only thing left to check before cutting out is where the seams on the skirt meet the seams on the bodice. If they're close enough to look like a mistake, I'll need to make some adjustments. Ideally they'd match or be way off. We'll see.

Ironically, it was last November when Shams wrote the tutorial for the Tablecloth Skirt. I made three at that time and altered the seams on one of them very similar to what I'm describing here. Apparently I thought it was a good idea then and I think it's a good idea now. Both times, I've been intrigued by playing with the puzzle. The skirt didn't look the greatest on me. There was too much fabric around the waist. Added to the bodice, it's far more flattering although in more of a fun than a flirty way. My husband likes it. My daughter thinks I have more attractive outfits - LOL.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - that I know enough about pattern drafting to make this work while wishing I knew more - an opportunity to learn.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Same Three Inches

Like most of us, I multi-task in many areas of life only not with sewing or knitting. With those, I - almost always because even I detour occasionally - work on one project at a time from start to finish. This monogamous method was my goal one New Year's Eve twenty some years ago after looking around the sewing room and seeing stacks of projects cut out and going nowhere. It has served me well. As strange as it sounds, I'm far more productive working this way although you might say I've gone from being under-engaged in each project to being over-engaged. 

I enjoy projects that capture my mind, ones that have me thinking differently. The dress shown yesterday is like that. I've been mentally sorting through the process, redrafting the pieces, rearranging the sewing order, and coming to conclusions that will make it to paper soon. LOVE THAT. These socks - not so engaging. Once you've memorized the pattern, it's more a matter of knitting from toe to cuff... without mistakes... which is far simpler said than done.

I am absolutely positive that I've knit the same three inches so many times there should be two pairs finished by now. Last night after dinner, I put my jammies on, curled up by the fire, and determined to finish one and start the other before knit night tonight.

The pattern is called Dead Simple Lace Socks from the book Socks From The Toe Up. Each sock finishes with 1" of ribbing only how do you know when you're 1" from the end of the yarn. I guessed - wrong - and after the inch there was still a lot of yarn left so I unravelled the ribbing tying a knot at each end, measured that distance, unrolled the rest of the ball, measured off a distance for casting off and tied a knot, measured the ribbing distance and tied a knot, rerolled the ball, and went back to knitting pattern until I got to the first knot. It worked.

The markers tell me what to do when so I can - hopefully - transfer that information to the second sock. These two tell me to knit six extra plain rows on the toe before starting the pattern.

The third one tells how far up to start the heel which ended up being in exactly the right place although the sock itself is slightly too big. A little snugger would be preferable so I'll learn how to adjust for sizing next as I already knit the smallest size in the pattern.

The final marker indicates where the ribbing started only - as you can see - I need to redo the cast off. The edging is too tight and prevents the sock from being pulled up all the way. Perhaps there's a special sock casting off method. I'll ask the ladies tonight. Right now, I'm celebrating actually finishing one sock - LOL.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - meeting someone new who seems to love creativity as much as I do and in a similar way. VERY fun!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Weekend Sewing

Saturday morning, when I read the list of things Carolyn planned to sew over the weekend, I thought I should at least be able to finish a dress. In fabric. No more muslin. And then on Sunday morning I read the list of things she'd already completed and was ever so thankful it wasn't a competition. I'd have lost - LOL - but...

... I'm still a winner. I finished a real dress. Sort of. I'd call it more of a wearable muslin. The list of things that went wrong is extensive as is the list of discoveries made which balances out to good. The fabric turned out to be more plaid of a plaid than I thought it was - read required better pattern matching than given - with a nap that wanted to press down white and flat - read hopefully the wash improves this - but all in all I like it enough to...

... make further alterations and sew it again. The reviews alternated between I could pull it over my head and call 911 to get me out of this. My recommendation - to preserve your hair, your neck, and your chiropractic bill whichever is more important to you - is to move the zipper to center back. It's easy enough to do and an invisible zipper will preserve the style lines just fine. After I'd squiggled my way in and out a million fitting times, I redid the back otherwise the hope of me actually wearing the dress was low.

The only suitable zipper in stash was not an invisible one so I used Marcy Tilton's method for sewing a centered zipper from V8499. It's easier than any other method learned previously and works fabulously. I'd be interested in how she sews a lapped zipper. Hopefully that info is somewhere in one of her patterns that I already own. Above are the illustrations and...

... here are the instructions. You baste the opening closed, press open, place the opened zipper face down against the seam line and baste to the seam allowance only, close the zipper and lay flat basting the opposite side through all layers, turn and top stitch from the right side, remove basting, and you're finished.

The dress - Vogue 1312 - has the same look to the bottom as the Tablecloth Skirt that was so popular on Communing With Fabric. The skirt developed from the dress BUT... if you read Sham's tutorial, it makes FAR better sense than the instructions in the envelope. It's a simple matter of measuring the pattern pieces and transferring the numbers to use her method.

I think the ideal way to approach it would be a blending of Sham's technique with the pattern pieces with the method used with Marcy's V8499 skirt where the bottom is already joined to the upper skirt with a curve and ...

... the pieces are hemmed and then seamed from waist to bottom with the points formed by the shape of the seam. On this skirt, the points are lower down but the theory would be the same no matter what level they were at. Along with the other changes, I'm thinking about redrafting with this shape although when you change the front bodice, the back bodice, the sleeves, and then the skirt, you're no longer making the dress ! ! !

Here's how it looked at the I like it, it has potential stage. The bodice front and back is Vogue 8743 for a more flattering fit. The waistline is lower  than the Vogue 1312 pattern for a less pregnant look - about 1" above my waist. The upper skirt is the drafted length. The lower skirt is shorter by 2" with a 1" hem. I let the waist out 1 1/4". Next time I'll take it back in. OH... and in the end... I used the one size up, one cup size down, and a 1/2" narrow back adjustment for the best fit. Now to make the additional changes and try again.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a wearable muslin

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Path Of Least Adjustment

One of my neighbours is a print maker. Yesterday we toured the co-operative studio she shares with a group of women. It was neat, well organized, fully functioning, and truly a co-operative which is something that's very hard to come by. I was so excited for her. We came back here after and explored my studio before comparing art forms over chocolate cake and coffee - a delightful visit.

Virtually no-one fits into an exact pattern size, especially as we age, which means that almost everyone is making some pattern adjustments. I enjoy sewing muslins. The fabric isn't precious, the sewing is quick, and I can pin, cut, slash, write on, and do whatever it takes to learn what I want to learn and then take that learning forward. My goal is to fit a flattering garment while determining the path of least adjustment. That often means challenging what you think is true.

One size up didn't solve any issues and - in fact - made them worse especially the drag lines around the armhole. Consulting the fitting books, these seemed to indicate a narrow shoulder adjustment which led to pondering which would be better - choosing a size for my upper bust and adjusting for narrow shoulders... OR... choosing a size for my narrow shoulders and making a full bust adjustment. Most fitting books recommend the first choice however in this case the last one would be easier because of the multisized pattern including cup sizing. I can go down a dress size and up a cup size no problem. I measured the difference between sizes and pinned the armhole up 1/2" and the shoulder point in 1/4". The fit appears to be much smoother so this morning I'll sew another muslin cutting a size smaller through the shoulder and armhole and then out to my regular underarm and waist sizes and if that works, it's time for real fabric and if it doesn't I'll be back to exploring ideas ! ! !  

The bodice is frankenpatterned using the back from Vogue 1312, the front from Vogue 8743 and the sleeve from Simplicity 2217, a combination that provides the best fit and a sleeve with a higher cap that sits nicely on the shoulder point. The Vogue 1312 sleeve has a flat cap that pulls down at the shoulder and has a more limited range of motion for me.

Years ago, I took a workshop with a pattern drafter who layered the pieces of a simple shirt from each of the major pattern companies and illustrated how they were all developed from the same basic block. It opened my eyes to the possibilities of frankenpatterning. If a garment has a similar fit, it's very easy to interchange the parts with only minor fine-tuning.

I sew muslins from whatever fabric and thread bits are left over. You can see that the bodice above has an extra center front seam to fit two scraps together. It's sewn in an assortment of thread colors from nearly empty spools and bobbins although it's surprising how much thread is actually left on a spool when you think it's almost finished.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - theories to try and to learn from

Thursday, November 22, 2012

South Of Pine

My friend and I spent the day talking sewing without any one's eyes glazing over or rolling back. It was great. She helped me with the hem on the refashioned sweater and I picked up more snaps so it's a lot closer to finished.

Within easy walking distance of her house is South Of Pine Street Fashions, a high end clothing boutique. She knows the owner - Shella - quite well and we were encouraged to have a good look around and try things on and I was allowed to take pictures. YEAH ! Snoop shopping is always better with pictures.

The shop is on the main floor of an older house with the sale items on the front porch. While we were looking through those, Shella popped her head out and asked to make us a latte. A lovely touch.

With the grey day, it was hard to get a detailed picture of this dress. It's made from a soft knit and has similar lines to Vogue 1312 although the dress has better shaping for my figure than the pattern, especially through the waist and hips. It is perhaps closer to...

... Vogue 1234, another pattern on my sew list.  The back of the Vogue 1312 pattern envelope is marked appropriate for triangle and hourglass figure types. On the website, it is marked appropriate for hourglass types only. Doesn't matter. I've been dressing myself long enough to know that...

... extra fabric around my hips is not my best fashion choice and I'm old enough to not care in this instance. The design is fun. I want to try it. You never know. BUT... just to hedge my bets... I'll keep working on an alternate bodice with a better chance of flattering. Good and enough.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - It's Thanksgiving in the United States. In Canada, we celebrated in October. No matter the day, even in these tough times, we have so much to be grateful for. My world is a mostly safe and peaceful place.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Quest For The Perfect Substitute Bodice

The phrase up a size is not one we necessarily embrace, not because of what a number might say about us but because of what a number might say about now compared to before however - as we already know - the number is not the whole story. Up a size may have absolutely nothing to do with whether we've been fluffing up lately and everything to do with the fit of the garment. Since clothes that fit flatter and clothes that cling don't, it's worth considering.

The description for Vogue 1312 reads pullover dress has close-fitting, self-lined bodice, raised waist, seamed skirt, stitched hem and invisible side zipper. In my dictionary, close-fitting is synonymous with make-a-muslin and occasionally with go-up-a-size. Looking at the line drawing, it's easy to see that any full bust adjustment - which I'd need - is going to result in large side darts and the last thing needed with this dress is excess fabric hanging off the bust. Without waist definition, there isn't a hope it will flatter my figure. The other option is a combination of side and waist darts which would be more flattering and I'd rather sew a princess seam however - just in case - I made a muslin of the V1312 bodice and - as expected - it needed an FBA and - as expected - the resulting darts were large. I muslined V8743 instead, just the bodice.

I've made this dress before in a linen and in a stable knit only the alterations I'm using now have changed. I've sewn two muslins so far. The first fit well through the bust but felt too tight generally so, just in case, I decided to go up a size and see how that felt. The pattern comes with cup sizing. Assuming the bust fit well, remember that when you go up a size, you go down a cup because a 12D is a 14C is a 16B is a 18A.

The back seams of V8743 curve significantly. Most of that will get pinned out because my back is narrow.

Like this. Before tracing and sewing the size up, I compared the pattern pieces. Center back was the same in all sizes and the extra width was in the side back whereas center front was 1/2" wider and the side front was identical in width.

What's surprising is that the waist of the smaller size fit better. It could be because it was higher up on the body - or not. I've learned over my sewing years (thirty-eight) that just because the pattern size implies that it is larger or smaller does not necessarily mean that it actually is or that it is larger or smaller in the area where you need it to be.

Once when I was developing a T-shirt from a New Look pattern, I opted to buy a second pattern and when I compared the SAME SIZE of the newly purchased pattern with the previous one, they didn't match at all - significantly - not just slightly - which goes to show that it's just a number, just a piece of paper, and we work with what's in front of us to get the look we want to get.

I may make several more muslins in my quest for the perfect substitute bodice. I find muslins an inexpensive way to gather information and make changes before going on to the real thing.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a visit with a sewing friend

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Just Ask

The thought occurred that by deleting seven hundred and ninety-nine posts it is possible - and I hope probable because otherwise I was nattering on about nothing - that information was deleted you valued. While there's an equally high probability that I'll repeat myself at some point in the future, if you'd like me to get to that topic sooner, just ask and I'll see what I can do.

The sweater refashion is done except for the hem and three of the six snaps. All the snaps left in stash are silver and that won't work so I'll pick up more later. I would like help with the hem and will pack the sweater in my visiting bag for Wednesday and ask my friend.

The back is shaped with elastic inside a casing made from a section of the original ribbing with the same flounced edge used on the front. Once the sweater is completely finished, I'll post the entire before and after story.

I just started reading Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience - Steps Toward Enhancing the Quality of Life by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. It's a book best read in small sections so yesterday bounced back and forth between reading and sewing. Not a typical how-to book, it illustrates why if you choose to process experiences differently you will have more positive outcomes and through example motivates in that direction, although that description doesn't really do it justice. When I'm further along I can - hopefully - condense it better. A friend lent it to me. I may need to buy my own copy as it reads like one I'll want to lend.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - my newly sharpened scissors cut like amazing 

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Re-Introduction

It seemed appropriate to re-introduce myself and create some sort of about page although that leads to the interesting question of what about myself do I want to share?

All of us have roles and we are all more than those titles suggest. Even so, I'm a wife, the mother of three adult children, a mother-in-law, and a grandmother although baby won't make a hugable appearance until next spring. After thirty plus years, my husband still treats me like I walk on water and by now he knows that I surely don't. At the same time as I'm fiercely protective, I'm learning to bite my tongue and to allow my children to live their own lives, their own way. I've learned to stand back and observe instead of organize and instigate and I'm incredibly proud of the wonderful people they've become and thankful every day that I like and love them as much as they appear to like and love me. It's a wonderful blessing.

Friendships are important in an equal and different way. I believe that most everything else in life is wrapping paper and that the relationships are the gift, what truly matters. For me, friendship is a serious commitment. If I am your friend, I am there to laugh in the good times, cry in the tough times, and weather the distance. It takes a tremendous amount for me to end a relationship.

A relationship that - IMHO - gets far too little attention from most women is their relationship with themselves. I have never believed that it's the woman's job to facilitate everyone else having a wonderful life at the expense of her own. My goals, ambitions, desires, and interests are equally important and the space to develop them is what re-energizes me and allows me to be a better wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, friend.....

The relationship that is core to all others is my one with God, my faith. I rarely talk religion and bible pounding is not my style. Even so, my faith will be visible in direct and less direct ways because it's central to who I am although you'll discover that I'm rarely rigid and far from typical in how I live it out. I recently read a sentence along the lines that the longer we live the less religion is about rules and the more it is about relationship. Yes.

Like most, I have tried all sorts of art forms over the years and always come back to fabric. It's how I breathe. When I was younger, I sewed everything from lingerie to outerwear and then took a long detour in other directions returning to fashion sewing full time in 2010. The first time around I sewed fashions mostly from patterns in a paint-by-number-ish way. This time around I am more interested in being adventureous and in exploring details - often labour intensive - perhaps even eye glazingly so. For the sweater above, I stitched the fabric with a double needle to create evenly spaced pin tucks before cutting out and sewing together the pieces. It can get tedious but I learn a LOT and then I share what I learned.

I love to learn and my explorations tend to be deep. I'll study all the different methods before deciding on which one to embrace fully or which one to use when. Sewing and knitting are my primary creative outlets although I don't knit nearly as much as I sew. Right now I'm knitting socks, from the toe up, on two circular needles, one at a time, because after an intensive sock study that's the way that works for me.

Someone recently told me that I am innately a teacher. That will definitely show. I was thankful for her comment. It's such a gift when people share the qualities in you that they enjoy. The same person said that she loved how honest I am - VERY.  Several years ago, I did a study about our living legacies, how we are perceived when we leave home or work or ultimately life. As part of the study I was to ask people what the first five words were that came to mind when they heard my name. If you were really brave, you asked not only your family and friends but people who barely knew you or people you didn't click so well with. The point of the process was to determine if you were living the life you wanted to live and leaving the legacy you wanted to leave. Some of the words shared were reliable, responsible, hard working, loyal, artistic, creative, colorful, embraces change, committed, supportive, intelligent, caring, sharing, and funny although that last one may be hard to pick up on since my wit is dry beyond dry relying heavily on tone. My goal is to be all that and more, to be the best me I can be.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - honesty

Sunday, November 18, 2012

800: Rip & Shred

When I journal, I pour out my heart on the page and then rip it out, shred it, and repeat starting each subsequent journal session with a clean page full of potential. The process is a wonderfully therapeutic one from which I emerge energized, capable, and more confident. 

As the date of the 800th posting neared it became increasingly clear to me that it was time to rip out the blog pages, shred them, and shift into a different state of being. The blog is not ending. The blog as it was has served its purpose and now it is changing in some yet unknown way. All the pages from before have ceased to exist and all the pages to come have yet to be written.

The edge of the unknown can be a scary place. It can also be one that is filled with potential and possibility and energy - like walking along a lush garden path that curves into the distance. What's around the corner is undiscovered even as it appears fresh and enticing, alive, a call to adventure. To be fully engaged in exploring what is to come, I choose to let go of what was.

I am grateful to each of you who has shared my journey so far and hope that you will stay to explore new paths with me. Perhaps it will only be the personal and internal shift of energy and focus that I feel. Perhaps it will be more externally obvious. Time will tell. Right now feels like the right time for this change and that is enough. I am enough - still me, still sewing, still knitting, still creating art, still writing, still encouraging, still supporting - but more than anyone else supporting me to my best.

We had a good giggle when Vogue put out these pictures last fall and yet V1312 resonates with me. It reminds me of when I was a young girl, running around in the dark playing tag with my friends, standing hands on thighs daring them to catch me if you can. It's a confident, fun loving, strong, energized, out to meet the world head on pose and that's how I feel - like a confident, fun loving, strong, energized woman eagerly moving forward toward the wonderful brush strokes of color that are coming my way. Perhaps it's time to sew that dress and buy me some killer heels! YES YES

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - new beginnings