Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Four B's

SarahLizSewStyle wrote - As you say, if you just knuckle down to it, it is not really that difficult. It's the idea of dedicating lots of time to a very boring and tedious job that is difficult.

Most sewist probably do find making a fitting shell boring and tedious. It's similar to a muslin but needs to be very accurate because you are a developing a base to measure or design with but there's not actually a lot of time involved. I've spent less than ten hours on this project so far and most likely one more version will do the trick. I've spent more time on projects that didn't fit properly, which is the point of the process - upping my success ratio.

Plus... I find the whole process fascinating. I've always loved puzzles and a fitting shell is simply a three dimensional version with the challenge of getting it correct. I get sucked right in and have to figure "it" out... which is why... LOL... I'm sewing in my sleep I'm sure. Another reader described me as a dog with a bone at one point. That made me laugh. Yes... BUT... wait until you see what I do with this.

When I was talking to my daughter yesterday, she said it doesn't look very good on you. That made me laugh too. Fitting shells do not look good.  They are not pretty and not terribly sensitive of your ego. So far, the biggest new learning has been the slope of my shoulders and that they slope differently and may need to be dealt with individually otherwise I've confirmed the four B's - small b--bs, a wide butt, a narrow back, and a belly.... which I really dislike... and will begin working to get rid of... but I hear that's hard to do at my age. Darn!

I don't need a sway back adjustment. The excess fabric is due to my narrow back. In the first picture, I pinned out a 3/4" tuck (nicer on my left side) which means I can adjust the tissue by eliminating the shoulder dart and narrowing the back waist dart. The dotted line in the image above is the...

... stitching line from Butterick 5678. Since it's the most successful blouse I've sewn, I compared the armholes as a starting point. Peggy Sagers says to find the sleeve that fits and use that armhole. Sarah Veblen says to shape the perfect armhole and then find the sleeve that fits. I'm doing a combo of the two.

The smaller cup size made a tremendous difference. You still see a few wrinkles from the bust point because I let out one of the waist darts in the skirt and narrowed the waist dart on the bodice to compensate for my belly. That left part of the bodice dart unaccounted for so I'll rotate the rest to the side dart. Right now, it's a wrinkle.

This time, I left the neck seam allowance on, clipped to the line, and determined if it's the right depth for my neck. It is. I should have stay stitched the edge because now I'm wondering about those folds but I'll wait until the sleeves are on to determine if they mean anything.

Peggy Sagers is constantly saying in her videos to know your numbers. She means the numbers on the French curve for your armhole, hip line, neckline, center front and center back widths, and so on. It's really good, stop re-inventing the wheel, advice and I'm starting to learn some of mine. The numbers are measured along or between stitching lines. My hip curve is 11 at the hip line to 2 1/4 at the waist. I've been consistently drawing that shape and it makes it easy every time I alter anything to do with the hip. I'm looking forward to knowing my armhole numbers. 

I pinned the sleeve in place around the bottom of the armhole just past the notches on each side. This allowed me to let the sleeve cap drop so that the bicep line was level and then I could measure the missing amount. I used the sleeve pattern from the last version of Butterick 5678 and it's 1 1/4" too short which is - ironically - the difference between it and the fitting shell sleeve. The good thing about that number is that I don't need to draft a new sleeve. I'll use the one from the fitting shell.

Before I do any more sewing, I'll make all the changes to the pattern tissue and take some notes because we're leaving very early tomorrow morning to go visit our daughter and son-in-law for the weekend. I don't want to forget what I did and have to start over when I get home on Tuesday.

Even though they're adults, I'm feel bad leaving the "boys" home alone at Easter so we're having corn chowder (a family favourite) with chocolate eggs for dinner tonight and barbequed steak (a guy favourite) with chocolate bunnies when we get back so if we mentally stretch the weekend a couple more days, I've spent the holiday with all my children and that is, in my opinion, the perfect holiday plus... if I get my work done quickly this morning... I may have time later today to start on the next shell.

I'm not taking my computer with me so I'll post again Tuesday or Wednesday, hopefully with good fitting news.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - progress

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fitting In My Sleep

Apparently, I've watched too many fitting videos. I've been dreaming about fitting in my sleep for the past several nights in that half awake, half asleep type of dreaming that feels like you've been awake all night. I could use a "real" sleep. LOL - maybe when the muslin is done. It's coming along great only I can't show you everything I discovered yesterday because in the process of evaluation, I slashed and cut the muslin from a variety of angles, mostly in the front. It's indecent.

Other than that I'm leaning forward in the picture above - and I really hope that's my picture taking and not my regular posture - the back appears to fit quite well BUT... look at the wrinkles above the waist and the long pulls falling from each hip. Those point to something. The trick is to figure out what. A quick guess on the back would be that it's too long but remember I'm working from the shoulders down and I know that the center back length is correct so it's an issue below the waist.

It's not that the waist is too tight because there's actually a bit too much ease through the side seam for a sloper however, that's last thing I'll fix after I know for sure that I don't need the ease any more.


When you're making so many changes, it's easy for the pattern to become untrue. This line let's me know how much to add to the skirt at the side seams and where to merge the line back into the waist to correct the tissue.

If you could see a full image of the front, you'd see slashes from the bust to hip points and pinned tucks at the bust line. The pins point to too much ease through the bust line while the spread between the slashes makes it appear as if the size of the waist is too small. Since those two don't go together and because there is also too much ease through the side seam, I knew that increasing the waist size wasn't the answer. I will test a smaller cup size on the next version though.

Following the wrinkles can be quite a journey. The key thing I learned from my recent studies was how important it is to work methodically from the top down because as you fix an issue, others may appear or may resolve themselves. Knowing what is already correct helps you to analyze what to do next. I know that my lengths are correct. I know that I have sufficient circumference through the shoulders, bust, and waist. I know that I have enough circumference through the hips BUT...

... it's the distribution that matters in this case. Those folds I showed you earlier. They indicate a need for more hip width through the back. When I slashed the back, between the darts and the side seam, from hem to waistline, the garment settled into place, the side seam hung straight, a hip wedge opened up, and a fold appeared in the front. Conclusion: there's not enough hip width in the back and too much in the front. SO far...

... I've determined my shoulder slope
... I've determined my shoulder width
... I've determined my shoulder to bust length
... I've determined my bust to waist length
... I've determined my waist to hip length
... I have sufficient circumference
... the bodice is too wide at the bust point so
... I'm about to try a smaller cup size and a...
... redistribution of hip circumference.
... and then evaluate the need or not for a sway back adjustment
... and then the sleeves

The sleeves aren't sewn in yet because it's important that the entire garment fits well before I stitch them. That way, any issues that develop can be determined to be as a result of the sleeve and I can deal with them step-by-step from the shoulder to the wrist. So far I've managed to do all of this by myself, so it is possible - LOL - even the pictures AND it really isn't taking very long. Be prepared to make several muslins. Today, I'll clean up and true the pattern, make the new adjustments, and sew a fourth version. At this point, I'm fine tuning and not making major decisions.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - motivation, patience & persistence

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Multiple Muslin Mentors

While the studio work was being done, I spent some time studying better fit keeping in mind my goal to simplify the process. I studied Pati Palmer's, Sandra Betzina's, Sarah Veblen's, Peggy Sager's, and Lynda Maynard's techniques in particular and have combined tips from my multiple muslin mentors to develop a system that works for me. In the end, I want a sloper of my shape to compare to patterns to make any necessary adjustments up front and increase my success ratio. Both Lynda and Peggy illustrate this process and it makes so much sense. Why keep re-inventing the wheel. Let's get to the good stuff faster.

I also want to fit myself by myself and have realized that all I need is one person - me - because I know exactly what I want to accomplish and I'm the only one I can count on being around when I need me. While there's a little more taking the muslin on and off using the self-fitting process, that's okay because I eventually get exactly where I'm going with a lot less frustration than I've experienced trying to explain to someone else what I want. Surprisingly - LOL - they haven't watched all the videos I've watched or read all the books I've read.

On Sunday, I watched Lynda Maynard's Craftsy course Sew The Perfect Fit. It's fabulous and clearly illustrates the process of fitting the garment. If you're wondering how to go about making a muslin, I highly recommend this course only - LOL - I do a few things differently.

Lynda uses Vogue 8766, view D, with a fitted bodice, waist seam, darted skirt, and set in sleeve. Any pattern like that will work. Vogue 8766 is a multi-sized pattern and yet in the demo a singular size was cut. That made absolutely no sense to me because it's much easier to fit when there is enough circumference to begin with. I used the Butterick 5627 fitting shell for my upper body because it comes with cup sizes, is already drafted with 1" seams, and clearly marks the different fitting lines and options. I merged it with...

... the fitted skirt in McCall's 3830 because I needed a lot more hip width than the singular bodice size provided. Working this way made things a lot easier as did...

... using a zipper. Most of the fitting instructions I've read say not to use a zipper and to instead pin yourself into the garment. That's really hard to do by yourself and incredibly fiddly if you're taking it on and off repetitively. What I do instead is stitch the left and right, front and back, skirt and bodice sections together and then seam them at the middle. Then I pin the shoulder seams, put the garment on over my head, pin the underarm seam, and make any adjustments necessary to the shoulder to bust, bust to waist, and waist to hip lengths. I stitch those tucks by machine, press them, and then baste a zipper down center front so I can get in and out. It doesn't have to be pretty. It just needs to work. After that, I pin fit the side seams.

As you can see, I also cut off the seam allowance at the neckline - and the hem allowances - as they get in the way so what's the point. With the first bodice, I needed a 1" adjustment to the center front and center back length. On one of the videos, it said to begin adjusting with the back because it's much easier to see what you need there without the interference of the bust line. I could feel the extra fabric in the back and see in the front that I needed to adjust the bust level so I pinned the tuck in the front and then...

... pinned it in the back. In both cases, I pinned through the armhole because I wanted to determine if I should be making the adjustment above or below the armhole. Do you see those pushed down wrinkles at the back underarm and how the drawn line bends downward at the side? Those both indicate that the armhole is too high so in the second muslin I made the 1" adjustment below the armhole to confirm that positioning and at the same time moved the bust point back down 1/2" and took the other 1/2" out between the bust and waist. At one point, I worked on the bodice and the skirt separately. This is optional but I found it helpful.

You can see that my lines are drawn with felt pen. Apparently that's a no-no and will compromise the integrity of the muslin except it was never stated HOW and without an explanation that makes sense, it seems to me that a lightly drawn felt line is easier to see and quicker to make and no less intrusive than a stitched line. I've used it for years and it works so good and enough although...

... I learned a new way to mark the lines with tracing paper and a wheel. After cutting out the pattern piece, roll the wheel across the lines with the tracing paper underneath marking the under side of the bottom layer and then...

... take off the pattern tissue, put in a few stabilizing pins, turn the fabric over, and trace over the lines you just drew marking the opposite side. After tracing, I then drew with felt pen over those lines as they were quite faint.

As you can see, my fabric is somewhat wrinkly. Some instructors are very particular about how pristine the muslin fabric is. I could have pressed this image first but really I smoothed the fabric before cutting out the pieces and pinned securely. The fit is more likely to be affected by what I ate for breakfast and which undergarments I'm wearing than these slight wrinkles... which are now pressed out.

The Butterick fitting shell pattern comes with three options for shoulder lines. The narrowest one fit my shoulder perfectly although I squared out the shoulder line by 3/8". My right shoulder seems to be more sloped than my left. I'm not sure if I'm going to worry about that or not in the future but for the purposes of this sloper, I'm ignoring it.

In her webcasts, Peggy often comments that there is no anatomical mark on the body that designates the side seam or the shoulder seam... which there isn't... but she doesn't say how you know where to put that seam. With the underarm seam, I'm guessing that you put it where it looks pleasing and balanced however, with the shoulder seam Lynda mentions in the Craftsy course that the shoulder seam is not supposed to be visible at eye level from the back or the front. If you can see it from the front, it's too far forward and if you can see it from the back, it's too far to the back. That's helpful and could be applied to the sides seam. If you can see it from the front...

In this image, you can see how much I increased the waist to merge with my hip size. This creates a winged out look to the side seam so I decreased the size of the original dart by....

... cutting up the center of the dart and over to a hinge at the side seam. Then I moved the tissue the other way overlapping and decreasing the original dart to half the size while transferring the other half to the side seam to create a better line.

The bottom is filled in and the new narrower shape of the dart is redrawn. It's orange. There are a lot of lines on this tissue. It's rather messy but I'm ready to test the final version with 5/8" as opposed to 1" seam lines and once everything has been confirmed, I'll redraw a neater sloper on card stock for repeated use.

The last time I made a muslin, I hired a seamstress to help me and we ended up pinning this and pinning that and there were way more adjustments than I have determined in this process working by myself. As instructed by all the mentors, I started at the top making sure the shoulder slope was correct and then moved down to the bust point, the waist, and the hips. I'm about to put the sleeves in and perhaps that will change things but at this point, the only alterations I've made are to square the shoulders, shorten CF and CB by 1", and add sufficient circumference for my pear shaped figure. That's minimal. Apparently, I've been over-working things. You think ! ! ! ! LOL

In Sarah Veblen's book The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting, she writes on page 86, step 2, to Note that the back of the arm is crushing or pushing down on the fabric at the back armhole. This indicates that the back of the garment is too wide and that the back armhole needs to be clipped. Another way to conceptualize this is that the back armhole seam is not in the correct place, but needs to be farther in on the garment.

I have never read that description in another book nor seen a picture but that is exactly the issue I've been having behind the armhole and the solution is the solution I'd worked out. It doesn't seem to be present in the fitting shell but if it is once the sleeves are in, I know what the solution is. Once I draw that adjustment into my sloper and then use it to adjust other patterns, I can stop dealing with this issue.

In a recent posting, Kristen asked how many muslins do you have in you? VBG - as many as it takes because it's time well worth the benefits of taking that information forward to future garments BUT... I don't want to be making the same discoveries over and over. This fitting shell is work up front. The benefit will be the information and the sloper that makes every other project more successful right from the beginning. Peggy illustrates this in Success From The Start and Lynda in her book DeMystifying Fit.

After watching all the videos, I've worked on the actual muslin in two sewing sessions so far - probably not more than six hours. Today will be the third session and this should be the last version and the one from which I can develop my templates.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - multiple muslin mentors and combined wisdom

Monday, March 25, 2013

Keeping The Surprise

When we were house hunting, our goal was to minimize work and maximize play so we shopped with eventual retirement and personal entertainment in mind looking for a level entry unit with enough square footage to live comfortably, spaces for our children and future grandchildren to visit, a den for Howard, a studio for me, and way less yard work - plus a double garage - which narrowed the possibilities significantly since most condos in our area have single garages.

We moved here a year ago this past weekend and as you know, it's been an interesting move. Howard was happy right away. He was so done with the yard and loves coming home from work to dinner and relaxation. For me, the little garden in the front is just enough to be pretty without overwhelming and the house is easy to maintain and even so, the move has been hard because my studio space wasn't what I was used to nor what we'd planned for. I spend the majority of my time in the studio. It needs to be a good fit. It wasn't. If you've been reading the blog for the last year, you know that I've moved spaces three times - actually - make that four because...

...a week ago, we did it again only the painting, shelves, doors, and a few other things weren't finished yet so I've spent a week keeping the surprise. The French doors just went up yesterday and it's WONDERFUL. Here's what happened...

In February, I was happily working in the studio with the blinds nicely tipped for privacy while enjoying the sunshine when my neighbour walked by and waved. That was so nice of him but it meant the blinds were not actually nicely tipped for privacy and that whenever I'd thought I was invisible, I was actually quite visible which is why...

... shortly after when I needed a good cry, I sat on the floor in the dark because if I turned the lights on, I would have had to close the blinds and closing the blinds would have made me feel trapped and trapped and crying are not a good combo. Howard thought that was both hilariously funny and not good at all so we had a state of our union discussion and decided that a studio was more important than a family room and shuffled everything around again.

It sounds like I'm constantly gushing about my husband lately but I am so thankful that he was willing to redistribute funds from another goal to finish this space for me and that he and his friend Dave and our boys were willing to move and set up my studio yet, still, once again. I baked a big batch of butter tarts for them even though it's not December ! ! ! 

Now the guest room is where the guest room was supposed to be, Howard's den is where Howard's den was supposed to be, and my studio is where my studio was supposed to be - with a few changes - like a stash closet, doors, and vinyl flooring. The room is 12' x 20' with a jog out of the one end by the exterior door which I'll paint purple like the closet doors once the weather warms up. Things will be coming in and out through that door occasionally and any time we barbeque, it's on the deck just outside BUT...

... that's a small inconvenience for such a wonderful space. I've spent a lot of time this past week on my curl-up couch and it is so fabulous to have that resting place in the studio again.

This is the view from the couch. Perfect for studing, journal writing, knitting, reading, and even a good cry if needed - VBG. There are still more things to finish but they're little and it's functional now. I'm looking forward to putting up art work, and settling in further and I'm REALLY looking forward to sewing.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a studio that feels like home

Friday, March 22, 2013

Favourite Crayon Colors

When you were little, did you love to color? I did. I still do. There's nothing like a fresh set of paints or a new box of crayons to ignite the artist. On this page, Crayola lists America's top fifty colors and the personality traits associated with each. I am such a sucker for these personality tests. I love how they always have an element of the truth in them. I chose my three favourite crayon colors from the front page and then clicked through to the descriptions and here's what they said...

The personality traits of plum are highly creative, spiritual, and introspective. Purple is the most abundant color in nature and many colors are named after purple flowers. Plum - although it was called Royalty on the paint chip - is the color I painted the exterior doors and the Adirondack chairs at my previous home. That first summer, I was thrilled to see that the paint color exactly matched the color of the Liatris which must be why I love that flower so much. Plum is a color I can actually wear as opposed to...

... my all time favourite - lime - which is called Woodland Green on the paint chip and was the color of the walls in my previous studio. Lime is associated with positiveness, success, and energy. In stained glass, the color green represents hope and victory over ignorance and symbolizes happiness and youth. Sounds like a great color to have around especially for a self-directed, life-long learner.

You can see both plum and lime in the textile piece over the dark blue couch in my previous living room. This dark shade of blue is my third favourite color and is associated with confidence, strength, peace, contentment, and security. I was intrigued to read that blue is viewed as a protective color and that in the southeastern and southwestern United States doors are often painted blue to ward off evil spirits. Interesting.

While I was painting trim yesterday, I thought a lot about Seraphinalina's comment that she finds it wonderful to hear me talk so positively about my husband. He's certainly not perfect and neither am I and we've both had moments when even though we love each other, we weren't too much in like. You can't be married as long as we've been without having a few thoughts about whether you're staying or leaving and we've both admitted to that but for me, it comes down to commitment to a man I can respect. Howard is loyal, responsible, reliable, hard working, loving, encouraging, supportive, dependable and numerous other positive characteristics that I completely appreciate especially when they are aimed at me.

When I hear some women talk about their husbands or the situations in which they live, it's like they are owned by another person and not allowed to develop their interests or their fullest potential or even to function independently. And I encourage them to develop a backbone and show some self respect. Many (not all) women are in those situations because they are afraid to rock the boat but this is our one and precious life. I'm not spending mine being anyone but me. I don't ask permission to move furniture, paint walls, cut my hair, or wear certain clothes all of which I've known women to have to ask permission for. I know one woman whose husband chooses her entire wardrobe and tells her what to wear when they go out ! ! ! ! and when I was a hairdresser, it was very common for a woman to say she wanted to cut her hair a certain way only her husband wouldn't let her.

I cut my hair - or not - depending on what I want to do with my hair and I sew my wardrobe - in my studio - and I have always had a studio. It's a priority for me and it's a priority for Howard. If it wasn't a priority for him, he would be forcing me to change from the woman he wanted to marry and that doesn't make sense. If you didn't want me, why'd you ask? I was talking to a woman a few weeks ago who recently built a 3,600 square foot house for just her and her husband. They have a massive master bedroom with a humongous bathroom, an in-door gym, a pool table, a shuffleboard table, a media room below the double garage, two guest rooms, and a study but apparently there is no room for a studio even though she loves to sew. It is beyond my comprehension to build a home, especially one that large, for only two people, that doesn't include a studio and if I tried to Howard would stop me because Myrna without a studio would make everyone's life miserable.

Howard has the garage and a den. He's introverted and once he realized how important a space of his own was, we've included it in every move. He has a motorcycle, musical instruments, and extensive computer equipment. He's heavily involved in a ministry in Guatemala where I won't be going but I certainly support him in the work he does there and while he doesn't have a clue about sewing, he makes sure I attend workshops and that I have the equipment and supplies I need. He's been ill for almost twenty years. He's in constant pain and has extreme stiffness throughout his body and rarely complains and is thrilled with each new birthday because he never expected to see forty, never mind fifty, never mind that he'll be fifty-five this year.

What I'm trying to say is that we both feel that what the other loves is important and we encourage that interest as opposed to try to eliminate it as some couples do. We have a high level of respect for each other that gets us through the tougher times. He treats me like I walk on water and sometimes that's not good for me because a person shouldn't get everything they want. Believe it or not, that has been one of our arguments BUT... I appreciate that he works hard every day to support our life together and treats me with courtesy - like EVERY time we go out together, he opens the car door for me.

I'm often asked why I "allow" him to ride a motorcycle and my only comment is that we've agreed when he can't put his foot down, time's up. Taking his bike away would be like taking my sewing machine away. Not going to happen. Besides, I don't own him. I don't allow or not allow him to do anything just as he doesn't allow or not allow me to do anything. People do not own people. I cannot relate to staying with a man you do not respect and who doesn't respect you enough to support your individuality and interests and especially a man who believes you exist to make his life easier as opposed to mutually supporting each other. Love does not squash the other person.

Some men I know expect their wife to be up at three or four in the morning to make their breakfast and pack their lunch after packing their suitcase so they can head off on a trip. Why do those women get up? My take on that is make your own breakfast, make your own lunch, pack your own suitcase, you're an adult and I am not a slave. I feel the same way about my children. My job is not to do everything for them. My job is to raise them up to be self supporting, independent adults. I wasn't put on earth to make everyone else's life easier at the expense of my own. Besides, love gives you a hug and a kiss and says don't get up, you need your rest, I'll see you when I get back. At least, the man I love says that.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - color

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Let's Not Call It Beige

One day last fall I woke up, rolled over, looked at the clock, and burst into tears. It was 5:50 a.m. and my first thought was what the (insert nasty word) am I going to do all day. My second thought was we've got a problem. That was the day that all the overlapping back to back crap of the year piled so high that it overwhelmed me and that was also the day that I started the often difficult way out of that mess. I'd had enough.

We bought our house a year ago this coming weekend. There was already a lot going on in both our lives which probably contributed to this being one of the toughest moves I've ever made. In the past, when I've heard people complain about moving, I couldn't understand what they were talking about. I found moving easy but now, I get it. If all moves were like this, once would have been enough only our moves haven't been difficult since we've moved eleven times in thirty-three years. But this last time... just let me say that we're here for a while. I am so not wanting to go through that again any time soon... with soon feeling like oh... about twenty years.

God does not always rescue us out of a painful season. He does not always give us what we so desperately want when we want it. The experience of sorrow in no way diminishes the joy of living. Rather, it enhances it. It makes us more alive in the moment, more aware, more present – to all facets of life.

Jesus is urging us now to care for ourselves, to watch over our hearts. The world needs your (my) beauty. That is why you are here. Your heart and your beauty are something to be treasured and nourished. And it takes time. Every gardener knows this – a garden’s beauty does not diminish with age; rather it takes years for it to become all that it can become. True beauty comes from a depth of soul that can only be attained through living many years well.
- from Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge

This morning, I woke up to blowing snow with several inches already accumulated on the ground. Earlier in the week I noticed lily shoots in the front garden and paused to celebrate that life is so much calmer, more grounded, and purposeful this spring than last. I read the quote above in my study last week. Remember that beauty is defined in this book as soul beauty emanating from the inside out and encompassing the whole.  When I read those words, it was like God was saying directly to me - enough, no more running around, no fretting, no trying to control the world or right wrongs, no worrying about work or money or what might or what might not happen. All I want you to do is rest, nurture yourself, and support and encourage yourself to your best. Go create. Go do what you do. What a gift to simply rest and trust that what needs to come about will come about. What a gift to have a husband who agrees and isn't pressuring me to be someone I'm not or someone I'm not willing to be or capable of at the moment. YES !

We've been working hard on the downstairs of our house for the past few weeks although the work has to be done in phases for the least amount of disruption since there are no extra spaces in which to store stuff other than the laundry room. A laundry room's worth is how we're phasing the work with finishing the laundry being the last phase.

The previous owners made the access to the downstairs bathroom off the bedroom which was great for our son and not so great for anyone else so we're in the process of changing the access to come off the hall. The image above is the view as you turn right at the bottom of the stairs and enter the hallway. The door knob on the left is for the door that closes the hallway off from the stairwell. In phase two, it will be removed and the new door to the bathroom will be directly to the left once you enter the hallway. The new door to our son's room is now directly ahead. Since his room is actually through the door and to the left, I've ordered a frosted French door so that light will still come into the hallway while maintaining privacy. The set-back opening is his new closet. The old one will become part of the bathroom. Since taking this picture, I've painted the closet and bedroom wall (currently green at right) a shade of purple called Mystic Grape. It's wonderful to have a child who loves color as much as I do. Either today or tomorrow, the closet organizers, closet doors, and bedroom door should go up.

If you turn right at the bottom of the stairs, there's a hallway that runs down toward the laundry room, storage closets, and my husband's den plus there's another large room at the front off to the left where you can just see the raw edge of the wood which will be covered with another set of frosted French doors, again to let light into the hallway. In this image, the wall on the right is painted green and is reflecting on the Gentle Cream color of the wall on the left which is really a buttery, very pale, yellow - so let's not call it beige - as my children are trying to do - while teasing me mercilessly since I don't do beige. My plan is to paint all the walls in the hallway cream so it looks brighter and larger and then paint the doors either different colors or the green that the wall currently is and then use the wall space as a family gallery.

In Captivating, Stasi tells the story of John going off to spend some time alone and asking God to reveal himself in a special way. He's sitting on a rock studying the water when a whale jumps directly in front of him - a whale that should not be in that obscure, remote area and especially not at that time of year. Stasi then asks God for her own whale and discovers a gorgeous, purple-orange starfish when she's out for a walk. She pauses to thank God for a gift so custom tailored to her and then walks around the corner to find a cove full of starfish.

Naturally after reading that, and especially after the year from hell, I asked God for a "whale" of my own. On Tuesday, I found this extra deep laundry sink at the second hand store for $25.00 and taps for $10.00 including the copper lines to hook up the water. I went there after visiting three different building supply stores so I know that retail it would have been at least $275 for the sink alone. That's definitely a tailored to Myrna whale since I'm eager to get set up for dyeing and painting. AND then...

... an iron too - a steam generating iron. Mine broke early in January and if you were reading my blog back then you know that we are in the process of recovering from five major financial set-backs in a two week period. Buying a steam generating iron just wasn't in the budget so I've been making do with my very yucky, barely steams, I really don't like it, back-up model and then out of the blue a friend asked me if I knew of anyone who would want this iron because it was too heavy for her. YES YES YES - ME ME ME

Today, I'll start painting closet doors and trim. I'll probably do that again tomorrow and then pack up the paint supplies and that's it for a while. I'm getting itchy to be back in the studio. I want to finish the waistband on the zebra skirt, sew the Marcy pants, and start on that jumper.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - tailored to Myrna whales

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Pattern Collection

Not much sewing is getting done this week. I'm working on projects around the house and cleaning and painting which means it's mostly mental sewing HOWEVER... last night I watched the webcast on fitting jeans. It reminded me of our conversation a few weeks ago after looking at that link of all the different women wearing jeans. This one is really interesting in how Peggy adds a wedge to the back for the longer back length and makes tucks that take out those wrinkles under the butt. The woman modelled does not have a flat derriere but it is talked about and you can clearly see how the inset would become a dart for the opposite problem. By the time I was finished watching, I wanted to try another pair of jeans. LOL - next week there should be more actual sewing but there's a long list ahead of a pair of jeans.

There's also less room in the stash closet already. No... VBG... I didn't buy more fabric. I moved the sewing machine case, my travel table, and six boxes of business and writing related information that were being stored in another area of the house. I'll need to sort through them and decide what stays and what goes when I have more time but until then, I don't like to ooze. I prefer to have everything in one room plus filling up some of those open shelves makes them a lot less dangerous.

One drawer in the filing cabinet was empty and the other was only half full while the pattern drawer was stuffed to overflowing so I switched them. Like the stash closet, this frees up more space so I'll need to be careful not to shop my heart out and instead appreciate the ease with which I can pull out and put back the patterns. It was wonderful to sort them by category again. The top drawer has all the larger, Vogue envelopes as well as children's, nightwear, accessory, and fitting patterns and two muslins that may be taken forward at some point.

The bottom drawer has skirts, pants, jackets, dresses, and tops. Every time I sort through the pattern collection, I'm surprised by a) how many coat and jacket patterns I have (an entire row) since I never wear jackets and haven't sewn a coat in years and b) patterns I can't remember buying or why I bought them. I know some were purchased because I saw a fabulous interpretation of the design on another blog but where? I don't have that information written down although a search at might turn up what I need. I remind myself to look at the line drawings because often they make the pattern far more approachable.

Here are a few of that sparked some creative thinking...

This vintage pattern - V8767 - calls for silk crepe, satin, lightweight woolens, or linen - basically light and drapey fabrics. I really like the princess seam with gathers under the bust and the peplum-ish shape BUT... it's a jacket. What are the odds ? ? ? I've been debating it in a knit for a more cardigan like garment. I think that would look great.

With this pattern - V8588 - I like both the t-shirt and the pants. One of the women I worked with at Fabricland - when I worked there - had sewn them out of a very bright loud print. They looked great but not for me. I like the version in black.

The shape of View A - top right in blue - of this McCall's M6515 pant pattern is very flattering on my figure type and so is the shape of the fuchsia pair. They are wide leg without being really wide legged and - appear to - still have shaping through the hips.

McCall's 6654 is a basic, easy, knit skirt and reminded me of the Magic Pencil Skirt. It's drafted with two variations in a total of seven lengths. View A, the shortest pencil version, takes .60 meters of fabric which makes it perfect for remnants and a knit skirt is such an easy garment to wear. As an aside - I wish BMV would include a picture of the pattern envelope in the available images on their pages. Many times that image is missing and I prefer it to store in my digital files. 

This jumper - McCall's 6396 - is the pattern most likely to get sewn first. Lengthened with tights and a co-ordinating top with 3/4 sleeves, it would be a great summer outfit and perfect for the DOL workshop. It sounds ridiculous to say this since the workshop is near the end of June but I'm starting to feel like I'm running out of time to get my "wardrobe" sewn since I have at least two possibly three trips planned to visit my daughter and son-in-law and then our grand baby as soon as he/she is huggable plus they are coming to visit us the weekend before I leave SO... I'm concentrating on sewing complete outfits as opposed to individual garments. That's helping although my shifting weight is not. It's shifting but not very quickly which could be great for losing it permanently but is not so great for developing a wardrobe. Oh well. What is, is and...

... I have a lot of patterns to consider while waiting. Have you found any surprises in your pattern collection lately? What were they?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - better organization of patterns and files

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Creative View

Yesterday morning some very nice young men arrived at 9:00 and installed wire shelving into the freshly painted stash closet. Instead of straight across the back, it's in a U shape which adds five shelves with a total of 11.25 linear feet on the left side and four shelves with a total of 9 liner feet on the right side.

Once the fabric was put back in, this was the messy pile of left overs to be sorted - the bits and pieces of do I need them, will I use them, what will I make with them, and should I keep these, bits. They had enough potential so I kept them.

It's wonderful to go through your stash and look at every piece of fabric and remember why you bought it, or where, at what event, in what city, and what you'd planned to create. Some pieces are just for speculation; some just for fun. Others were bought with a purpose. The doors should go back on tomorrow. Until then, every time I walk by I admire the creative view.

This is my DOL workshop pile. The fabric on the bottom was in the bargain center at Fabricland and had a blue-ish white bleach spot on it. Perfect. Now I know the base. The purple is similar. The white and black pieces are linen. All four are to play with surface design techniques which are my main goal this year only you can't paint and stamp and stencil the whole time so I need to pack other projects along. Not too much. I want to spend more time this year taking notes, recording details, and gather inspiration than sewing. I can sew when I get back home.

That said... I'm inspired by this textile piece by Diane Ericsson and - as you know - part of me really wants to explore jewelry BUT another part of me thinks that may be unrealistic if I'm already learning new paint processes. Even so, I may throw a small bag of supplies into my suitcase just in case plus I'll have a scarf along to knit plus a TNT pattern on the off chance that some of my fabric turns into something sewable and maybe another piece of fabric in case it doesn't BUT... mostly... if I do sew... I'm debating working on lingerie. Bras and panties would be so easy to sew in-between lectures and playing with paints and wouldn't they be fun in a painted/stenciled/stamped fabric as a souvenir of my trip. The best thing is that all of these options are small. The supply list encourages us to think from the perspective of less is more.

That philosophy even applies to the stash closet. Less boxes, more shelves, better organization, less clutter, more room for fabric. YEAH! I'll attempt to keep the empty shelves open and available until I get back from the workshop because I want to save any shopping until after and then shop based on what I learned and how I was inspired.

How often do you clean your studio? I clean mine at least twice a year going through every box, basket, drawer, shelf, closet, and cupboard which means I touch every piece of fabric, look at every pattern, and go through my books among other things. With the fabric, I found some pieces I'd forgotten about which is just as good as getting new fabric in the mail. The whole process is energizing. I come away with all kinds of ideas and my studio is freshened, organized, and opened up. For me, when the studio is cluttered and messy and every storage spot is crammed full, it doesn't promote creativity. When there are open spaces and it's easy to pull things out and put them back, it creates flow and energy, both of which are always welcome.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - new shelving