Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Waiting for Inspiration

I have been doing very little sewing, this is in large part due to my hectic work schedule. I have been working some much and long hours that by the time I get home from work I am tapped out. It's sort of making me depressed to be honest....I am feeling uninspired. Hopefully, when we get passed this looming deadline at the shop I will be less burnt out and able to devote some mental space to being creative.

I very rarely start projects and don't finish them, or start one and then start another...but right now I have two projects just sort of languishing and I am creeping dangerously close to giving up on them. One of said projects is a pair of shorts, and I don't feel too guilty about abandoning it because basically I don't like the fabric. It just occured to me that I lost interest in that project because I don't like the was this fabric I got in a bargain bin long ago and you know it was just not meant to be shorts. The good news is that I practiced a new technique for finishing seams, at least I got something out of it. I encased one edge in the other, I really like this finish and plan to use it again in the future. However, I still don't like the shorts so I am going to abandon them.

What I am really feeling guilty about is a particular blouse I have started, I knew right off it would be difficult. Using Chiffon is usually a nightmare, but I have successfully worked with it on two other occasions so I wasn't too worried. But I am having a hell of a time and last night I got so disgusted that I folded everything up and set it aside because I just didn't have it in me to do battle with it. I have barely even started it too, not a good place to be in and feeling ready to chuck it out the window. Thinking about it some more I realize I am just not in the best place, considering my work load and other life commitments, to be undertaking super complex projects. My patience is in short supply, I don't want to give up on it since it looks so amazing in my mind but I think I am just going to set it aside for the time being and re-evaluate my plan. I would hate to have wasted that fabric, while it wasn't a huge investment in that the 2 yards cost me $15.00 (I got it when a local fabric store was closing last year), I love it and the thought of wasting it makes me sort of sad. There aren't really any pictures to share of this barely begun project, hopefully it will get to a point where there will be something to share.

On another note, I did go on a sort of Vogue sewing pattern buying frenzy recently, here are my acquisitions:

I think I'll start feeling more creatively ambition once my time and mind aren't being commandeered by work so much. I think I will need to ease back in with something simple and easy. What about you? Do you ever find yourself creatively apathetic or so busy that you can't get creative? 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Some Tentative Plans

I love making plans...never mind that they might not ever be set into motion or completed,  there is nothing as exciting as making sewing plans. I get so caught up in the the detailed planning of a project, the actual execution can sort of take a back seat.

Anyway, I have been spurred into a flurry of planning and pattern & fabric procuring in recent days by my getting wind of the That's Sew Cinematic Sew Along being hosted by Rhinestones & Telephones, My happy Sewing Place, Meg The Grand, Delfinelise & Veronica Darling. The scope of the sew along is to create garments inspired by costumes on the Silver Screen both big and small.

I knew I wanted to take part and I had just the thing for it, but first some back story which I'll make quick. I acquired Vogue's New Book For Better Sewing, I was online at the right time and I snapped it up for a pittance of what they usually go for I think the person might not have quite realized what they had or they just wanted to get rid of it. So I snapped it up; I thought acquiring the book would be the battle, turns out getting the patterns is the real war. I have been able to get 2 of the patterns. "The Raglan Sleeve Coat" Vogue# 3431 and  "The Late Day, Short Sheath Dress" Vogue # 3385 which relates to my sew along plans.

Vogue #3385
I have not one black dress in my wardrobe, not one LBD...I've heard somewhere that this is like a wardrobe staple. I think the sheath dress will be a perfect base on which to create a LBD a la Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's...the famous Givenchy LBD she wears is long so mine will not be that but I want it to be reflective of that understated elegance that the dress evokes; simple, clean, sophisticated. I am excited to use my Vogue book and pattern to create it. However, I have tons of ideas for this Sew Along and I am trying to get them organized. When I do I will a more detailed post.



Thursday, March 1, 2012

Practicing "Couture Sewing Techniques"

I love Claire Shaeffer's book "Couture Sewing Techniques" and I really try and use some of the techniques that she espouses on my own projects.

I am applying two such techniques to finish my Summer Dress, making a button loop and a rolled hem. The button loop turned out to be pretty simple, since I only had to make one it wasn't too bad but it could be pretty labor intensive if making many.

I used the fabric that I made the straps and belt out of, since it is cut on the bias there is a lot of stretch allowing it to accommodate the size of the button quite well.  

Biased Button Loop & Vintage Button
I used a button I found in a jar of buttons that I had bought at a thrift shop, I really like the texturing and find it interesting. Clair Shaeffer suggests that the width of the loop should be 1/8"...I tried this but I could not turn it for the life of me so I ended up doubling the size and going with 1/4". I think it works fine for this application but finer loops would be more appropriate for a row of them, like the type seen on the back of a wedding dress.

The other technique I am attempting to use is the rolled hem...this is taking FOREVER! I am sure with practice it'll speed up but it took me like 1-1.5 hours to finish a 6" long section. I like how it looks though, from the outside anyway. The inside could look a lot better but no one hits the bull's eye with the first arrow, right?

A Rolled Hem
 Ms. Shaeffer recommends slightly moistening your fingertips while rolling to achieve a tighter roll. I had to use copious amounts of "moisture" to get the fabric to cooperate even in a remotely attractive way but even still I couldn't get the roll nearly as tight as illustrated in the book.

Not great but it'll do...
When using this technique you must use a line of basting stitches to trace the hem line and then stitch a row of tight machine stitches an 1/8" below the hem line. That row of stitches should be encased in the roll, I am obviously not a very good roller, even with all my liberal use of "moisture" as you can see that line of stitches is far from being encased.

I enjoying trying out her techniques and improving my skills that way. I really sew for the "art" of it; obviously I don't sew clothes because it's cheaper than buying them, in fact I could go out and buy clothes for cheaper. I just enjoy the discipline and the techniques and the materials and the ability to "design" some what. It is really satisfying seeing all my hard work, blood, sweat and tears (literally sometimes, lol) come together into something I can proudly wear about. There is nothing better than being able to respond to a compliment by saying, "I made it" and watching people's is nice to be appreciated for something and recognized as a part of that elite group of people that can actually construct a garment. I mean what we do is pretty cool and difficult, not everyone can do it. Likewise, most people don't think about what goes into making an article of clothing so when they find out that you made something it can force them to think of something they take for granted in a different light and appreciate the skill that must be involved. I have been thinking a lot about my motives for sewing and my related goals lately.

I have asked myself, why am I doing this? I have determined that I am doing it because it brings me joy and makes me happy. Because I work in a technical field (industrial manufacturing & engineering) within a male dominated industry and I have very little occasion to put my creativity to use. My days are spent herding cats, male cats, toward the completion of complex packaging systems. I have to herd them up, down and all around to avoid all the problems that pop up that could potentially derail us, wrong parts, broken tools, project scope changes, priority shifts, design modifications, the list of problems to solve and fires to put out is endless and it all takes place in a shop environment, which is loud, cold, dirty and greasy.  There is absolutely nothing beautiful or aesthetically pleasing about it and I spend as much as 50-55 hrs a week up in here. Sewing is a perfect creative outlet for me, so completely opposite from my professional life; soft, quiet, lovely, vibrant and I can do it whichever way I like and as slowly as I like. I am jealous with my time during the week, I spend a lot of time at work being with people and talking to people all day so when I'm  at home I like to partake in solitary quiet activities, sewing and playing my harp. 

For me and my purposes it is fun to try out all the over detailed, ridiculously painstaking couture type techniques, I have the luxury of not needing to finish a garment on a deadline and I live alone. Anyway, I've just been thinking about this a bit lately. I am going to begin undertaking a "project" to further expand my sewing technique arsenal and to refine the techniques I already am comfortable with. I want to not only sew but I want to sew well, like Gertie or Debi or Tilly any one of the other lovely ladies I follow online and hope that their awesomeness might seep through the internet and rub off on me...I finally realized this is not likely to happen so I might as well actively do something to acquire these skills. I am still sort of formulating this "project" and will be speaking on it pretty soon.

Anyway, I'm almost done with my dress.



Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fun w/Hair Canvas

Hair Canvas is one of my favorite sewing notions, it is also one of the most expensive items I use when the price per width is taken into account. It's cost does make me very circumspect when deciding what projects to use it with. It creates the most beautiful rolls on hems, lapels, arm scythes, necklines...basically wherever there is a break or an edge it can be used to interface that seam and create lovely results. I know this to be true with the sew in but I am not familiar with the fusible so I can't attest to that so much.

Sew In Hair Canvas
My first intro to Hair Canvas sort of sprung up from the Herringbone Jacket, I was doing a lot of research both on line and in books about tailoring and I kept running across reference to Hair Canvas. I read a lot of good things so I went down to my local independent sewing store and bought some to use in this jacket. I fell in love and have never looked back.

Jacket Back
In the Herringbone project I used it for the Front, Back, Hem and Sleeve Hems. Claire Shaeffer, in her book Couture Sewing Techniques Revised & Updated, puts forth techniques for interfacing most areas where there will be a facing or a hem, like the arm scythe, neckline, sleeve hem and hem and often she suggests using hair canvas as an ideal option for doing this. I have been getting in the habit of using this technique in at least one place on every project, though I don't always use hair canvas...I'd go broke.
Makes a nice softly rolled hem line, as shown on the Birds of a Feather Dress
The Hair Canvas is really proving to work just as well with lighter weight fabrics as it does with wools as you can see I used it to hem the Birds of a Feather Dress.   Depending on how you the interfaced are to moveant  or as required by the shape of the area to be interfaced the canvas can be cut on the bias, on grain or even crosswise. These will all result in a different roll or fold and can be used to prevent stretching or to assist in movement, as a mean to manipulate the fit and drape of the garment. For example, a jacket back is usually cut on the bias since this area is subject to the strain of our shoulders and backs moving and shifting while the front is not as much and can be cut on grain to help hold the shape better and to prevent distortion. I actually think there is more to this than my little musing but it is how I understand it.

I almost used it to interface my facings for the Summer Dress but it was going to require a lot for the back and being on a budget I decided against it (even though I had enough in my stash). A decision I am sort of regretting. I think it would have made for a much better over all effect.The Summer Dress pattern calls for small strap. I originally cut them out of the main fabric and used the same interfacing I used for the facing. I got them all sewn up on Tuesday night, upon turning them out to the outside I realized what a mess they were. All distorted and just Fugly in general, I ended up deciding to re cut them but out of the fabric I used for the bias tape and the Sash, it is more substantial and would be a nice contrast, adding visual interest.

Much Better
The results have been a thousand times all I have to do is attach them to the dress, interface the arm scythe (an idea compliments of Miss. Shaeffer), finish the hem, sew on the button hole and loop, finish the sash....actually there's more to do than I realized!

The moral of this ramble is really to just espouse the awesomeness and versatility of Hair Canvas and maybe encourage others to take the plunge and try it, even if only for a change of pace.

Happy Sewing,


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Summer Dress

This may be the fastest project I have ever endeavored. I am almost done and I started it last Thursday evening. It is really simple, I bought the pattern for $1.00 when Joann's was having one of there $1.00 pattern days, and I used something I have had in my stash for about a year and all the necessary notions and accoutrements I used from whatever I had in stock. I am trying to be a budget seamstress right now, so far so good.

I am making the version in the top left corner, Version "D"
This pattern has been really easy so far, my main issues are fabric related. It is some type of unidentifiable material, not natural but synthetic. I had bought it because it has a really nice feel to it and was totally on sale. It is so slippery that it goes off grain really easily when I am trying to sew it and becomes distorted. The facings look not that great because I had to sew this slippery, shifty material onto a rigid interfacing. I learned that fusible and synthetics sometime backfire so I used sew in but I think was to rigid, I probably should have used something softer.

It looks a little bit like a sack at this point
I made the bias tape using the continuous bias tape method and a tape marker. The bias tape is the same material I will use for the sash belt and the straps. I am not going to use a zipper in the back but leave it open and use a button and loop at the top to fasten it.

Inside Facings
This has also been my first experience with side seam pockets, they weren't as bad as I thought. 

 I am interested in making it again but the long version, I like Maxi Dresses.

I hope to be finished in the next day or two, I'll keep you posted!