Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011, I’m a Little Sad to See You Go…

But I’m so looking forward to 2012! Already, most of Christmas has been packed away for next year. Only the stockings are waiting and I thought I'd share this one with you. My paternal grandmother made it, back in the fifties, for my doll. Somehow, the wool felt has survived all these years. Doesn’t it make you smile?

Christmas here was fun but there weren’t any sewn presents this year – no, not even for the dog. He did get shoes, purchased from Tuesday Morning. Watching him adjust to the new additions caused deep belly laughs for everyone. Best $9.00 spent ever…

Though not planned, 2011 saw me attending my own denim sewing school. I really did benefit from sewing with the same fabric over and over and over again. Another bonus: sewing pants no longer intimidates me.

About mid-year, my sewing mojo took a hit. It wasn’t totally lost and it has since returned (somewhat), but I sure am taking my time completing things. I’m not one to set a weekly or monthly sewing quota and I'm not going to start now. I will continue to let productivity be driven by my interests along with the need to clothe myself. No explanations, excuses, or apologies. It is what it is.

However, if it is any consolation, if I'm not sewing, there is a good chance I am reading about sewing (mostly blogs). And, sometimes I find myself on eBay looking at old sewing machines. I even bought one a few months ago. Just haven’t had time to clean it up, much less blog about it. It is a Singer 301A, the long bed version. Like my 403A, it has a slant shank and that means they can share presser feet. The condition is pretty good, especially when you consider it was made about the same time as my doll’s Christmas stocking. It came with its original little carrying case and will therefore become my traveling machine.

I wish you a Happy New Year!

See ya on the flip side!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Again with Burda 02-2007-129

Recently, I haven’t had large chunks of sewing time. I grab ten minutes here, twenty there and I really just wanted to sew something without any style or fit challenges. As it was, it took about two weeks to complete this pair of jeans. Using a pattern that already had the kinks worked out was golden.

Burda 02-2007-129

The waist is good: not too high, not too low. I can’t say that the front pockets are total perfection but they ain’t bad either…and big enough to actually be useful.

I did change up the back pockets as I really liked the shape and size of the pockets (from Burda 8059) I’d sewn on my recent Burda 7284 jeans. I felt this pocket pattern deserved to go another round.  My trusty Clover pocket curve template made quick work of the corners.

I was able to enjoy sewing. Mindlessly. Yes, check out the zipper topstitching. I’d forgotten to topstitch the seam before sewing in the zipper. No seam ripper was going to spoil my fun and so I just did the best I could after the fact…

I have spent the past several months figuring out how to sew myself pants. Next, I want to tackle the classic shirt. Thanks to the BML (Bernina My Label) software, I do possess a shirt pattern that fits (see this posting).  There truly isn’t a need to chase other patterns. And, even if there were, I already possess several; enough that I should be forbidden from buying any more…

My BML shirt pattern works but could be tweaked. The most obvious issue is the sleeve cap - there is a bit more ease than necessary on the back. Common sense tells me to take scissors to the pattern, even out the cap and see what happens.

I sewed lots of denim in 2011. May 2012 be the year of the shirt…

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My 70s Jeans

Apparently, walking away from the belt loops was the right thing to do as I had no problems with them this afternoon and it took but a few minutes for the Bernina to finish the job. What a difference a few days makes.

I knew the jeans were going to be low-cut when I saw how short the zipper extension was on the pattern front. That should have been a warning. No, it was a warning but one I ignored.

The jeans fit well, but I definitely will be wearing them with a belt. I want to be certain that I’m not going to lose them. It is all about confidence my friends…

The style is interesting in that there aren’t any side seams. For shaping, though, there are waist darts on the sides. Besides not having side seams, there aren’t any pockets either - front or back. Nevertheless, I wanted pockets and so chose the pocket pattern from Burda 8059 (minus the flap). For placement, I lined up the edge of the pocket to the side dart and guessed on distance from the waist. I think it works.

Front pockets from Burda 8059

These jeans look like something I would have worn in high school and for that, I like them very much. I only wish I had added an inch or so of height to the waistband...

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Once I got started, it took about two hours (probably less) to put this together. I like the smaller size so much better. The proportions look right and I’m going to retrace the Burda jacket pattern (08-2008-127) before moving forward.

Burda 08-2011-138

The fabric is the same as the first version – a stretch rayon from And, like the first, I skipped the back opening. The only thing done differently, other than the size, was fusing interfacing to the sleeve binding. Oh, I did add a bit to the neckband at the shoulders (see my last post).

Along with this top, I had intended to complete my new jeans today. It shouldn't have been any problem as they are finished except for attaching the belt loops. However, my plans changed after I broke three jeans needles (new, straight from the package!) right in a row. I can’t fault the machine, nor am I putting too much gas on the pedal. I’m simply requiring those needles to go through many, many layers of heavy fabric. After this, I’m ready to find a pair of safety goggles…

Tell me, would a size 18 needle work any better?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Excuses, Excuses...

Since I last posted, I’ve cut out the resized Burda top and it has gone no further. A last minute Halloween costume (a classic witch) pushed it aside. I needed a costume to wear to the office. Yes, to the office – all day.

I cannot blame the costume alone for my sewing lapses. After work, by the time I’ve fought my way home through rush hour, I’m ready for comfy clothes and dinner. Then, it is easy to call it a day. Not a problem as I could get up early the next morning and sew. However, I don’t, and the days go by…

I just haven’t been protecting my sewing time as well as I could. One reason, I finally bought myself a “smarty pants” phone (a Samsung Galaxy S II) and have had to learn how to use it. I’m an old BlackBerry enthusiast and was a bit apprehensive about the switch. It is fine. Well, more than fine (I love it!) and I’m not looking back…

I’ve also had to do some vehicle maintenance – new brakes. Blah.

And, last week I had my share of sinus/sore throat/earache troubles. Not bad enough to where I wanted to visit the doctor, but lots of cough drops, acetaminophen and hot tea were involved. I’m feeling much better, thanks for asking…

On the happy side, I took in the UT/Kansas game. A fun, fun day!

And, I was able to cut out another pair of jeans using Burda 7284. Nearly complete and the opposite of “mom” jeans, this pair will require a belt and that means belt loops. I’ll show them to you once I’ve figured out what kind of belt loops I want to make.

Have a good week…and sew something already!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tammy’s New Lunch Bag

It took all day for me to put my new lunch bag together yet not one bit of the construction was difficult. I started after breakfast and had expected to be done well before noon. Somehow cooking, laundry and other chores kept getting in the way.

I found the pattern in a library book: Bag Boutique – Making Fabulous Purses & Totes written by Amy Barickman. This is the Donna Bag. There is only one pattern piece given; the rest are measurements. The shape looks very similar to the In-Style SuitcaseBag pattern by Indygo Junction.

Upholstery weight fabric (preferably an odd color and/or pattern) was my first choice. However, there wasn’t any on the shelf so I ended up choosing from the denim/pocket lining scraps basket. And this time, I think I really am at the end of the cat fabric as I had to piece the bottom gusset. For the interfacing, I was finally able to use up all of the small bits I’d been too frugal to pitch. I found some cotton batting and used that for interlining. I really hoped to use metal rings for the handles but I had only two that matched and needed four. Instead, I cut longer strips, securing them to the bag with topstitching and rivets. Another pattern change: a pocket added to the front.

The bag still needs a piece of plastic to lay in the bottom for support. Since I used things that were already here, it makes sense to avoid having to purchase the plastic. I’m thinking a plastic milk jug just might be the answer – even if it has to be pieced. I could make it a little slip cover and no one would be the wiser. Well, except us…

This is a good, simple bag. One could go a hundred ways with this pattern and they would all be right.

My bag could benefit from binding the interior seams (I serged them) and the use of a heftier interfacing (though this isn't bad). I’m fairly happy with how it turned out and I won’t have any qualms about tossing it into the washer and dryer.

The resized Burda blouse is next.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sorta/Kinda Stuck

I have several projects in the works, but can't seem to get past the pattern tracing on any of them. It is all because of the last Burda blouse. I've pretty much decided that I'm sewing the wrong shirt/top/blouse size. Well, that blouse fits, but it could be a size smaller and still work just fine.

And, even though the jacket pattern looked okay on the dress form, I haven't sewn the muslin yet. I want to try the blouse pattern again, in the next size down, and see if that works. If it does, I'll retrace the jacket pattern in a smaller size and go from there.

It took forever for me to realize that by starting with a smaller sized pants pattern I could eliminate having to make so many pattern adjustments. Here I am again - same song, second verse. One would think this awareness would encourage me. After all, this is the first time in my life I've had pants in my closet that actually fit!

In the mornings, I head out the door with lunch bag in hand. It carries my breakfast, the coffee cup I’ll use for the day and a mid-day snack. The bag is starting to look sad and it is time to plan the replacement. My first thought is it would be less expensive to purchase one and I've been shopping online but haven’t found anything interesting. I don’t mind sewing the new one, but that heavy interfacing is pricey stuff! I’m looking for one that is age appropriate and yet slightly quirky. Other than the thick interfacing, I bet I have everything necessary, including a pattern.  Could I substitute a layer or two of batting and some kind of plastic insert for the bottom?

The temps have dropped slightly – enough that I can almost think about sewing long sleeves!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Burda 08-2011-138

I used the “new to me” Activa140 to sew this top. As hoped, it did just fine. However, I will not be switching it out for the 930 Record. The 930 is my solid tank and has the undisputed #1 spot here.

As is my custom, I ignored the Burda instructions and put the top together as I pleased. The buttons and loops at the back were skipped. First, I didn’t want to spend time sewing details on a top that might not work; also, I don’t think I’d be comfortable with that back neck opening. The top is cut longer in the back and I love the ¾ sleeves! The sleeve bands are a nice touch. I didn’t interface them but next time I might - I’ll see how they do. Also, I will bring in the neck yokes at the shoulders to ensure bra strap coverage.

The fabric came from – a stretch rayon. The color makes me smile.

Make it a great week!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Didn’t Need It/Couldn’t Leave It

By now, no doubt, you think I’m a sewing blog sluggard. It is partly true but I’m still blaming the weather.

I love to go to restaurants at lunchtime, but I’m avoiding them as a little mid-day walking gets me through the afternoon better than a heavy lunch. Occasionally I will go - I’m not a recluse after all.

Last week, as part of my move/don’t sit lunch, I took myself to a “new to me” thrift store. On the way out, I spotted a yellowed plastic box that promised to be a sewing machine cover. My attention was focused, and I admit I was entertained, with the large number of curled price stickers all over it. The corners couldn’t stick due to the cobwebs and the dust…To me, the little red and yellow stickers looked like birds in flight.  I studied them, looking for a pattern. I decided there wasn’t one – someone had just had fun with a pricing gun.

Curiousity got me when my eyes made it to the top of the cover and read “Bernina.” I had to lift it.  Underneath, the machine was white – not yellowed like the stickered cover. I plugged it in, the screen lit up and when I pressed the foot pedal, the needle started moving up and down. I took that as a good sign.

Now, you know that I really do not need another machine. And, you have to agree that just because it powered up doesn’t guarantee that it won’t need expensive repairs. Yet I couldn’t walk away. A quick check to see if the bobbin case was there (it was) and a glance at the accessories: only a zipper foot, an appliqué foot (?), and a few other bits. Nope, no manual and no little table but still I grabbed it up and made a beeline for the register.

My sewing time this week has been spent on getting acquainted with this machine, a Bernina Activa 140. I downloaded and printed a manual. Sewing on scraps has been trouble free. I haven’t been able to find much information about it, other than it is (was?) on Bernina’s low end of quilting machines. The machine and accessories were fairly dirt free, but I gave them a thorough cleaning anyhow. It appears to have been cared for and I found only a small amount of purple fuzz around the feed dogs. The cover? Well, after vacuuming inside and out, it ended up in the tub. Looks so much better, but I don’t know what can be done about the yellowed plastic and scuff marks. Any clues?

Ok, ready to take it for a test drive…

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ottobre “Mom” Jeans, a Jacket and More

Seems like forever since I last blogged, but it really has only been a few weeks. My routine has been predictably boring and once I have taken care of the requirements of the day, there's not much energy left for sewing. It is just too easy to substitute a glass of iced tea and a sliver of Key lime pie.

I did finish the Ottobre “mom” jeans. The pockets were embroidered with randomly dialed stitches…nothing planned at all. To help tie the front and back together, I continued the embroidery onto the front of the jeans. Even though they are not my favorite pair, they do fit and I’ve already worn them to the office and put them through the washer and dryer. This is how they look straight from the dryer.

I traced the pattern for an unlined jacket, Burda 08-2008-127, and pinned it on the dress form to get a rough idea of how it would fit. It has stayed there for two weeks. With the heat, it is not pleasant to think about trying on anything long-sleeved.  There is, however, a piece of mystery brownish black/gold brocade that is a wonderful candidate for the pattern.

Burda 08-2008-127

The downside: due to the loose weave, the fabric will need to be block fused and then underlined. Also, bound buttonholes would be best. I’m thinking that this is a bigger investment than I am willing to make with an unproved pattern. And, since there is still plenty of denim, I’m gonna try it out with that (no block fusing/no underlining required).

While tracing the jacket pattern, I went ahead and traced a top pattern, Burda Style 08-2011-138. I like that the front and back hemlines are different. The buttons on the back add a nice detail, but I’m betting they are more decorative than functional and so will pass on them for now.

Burda Style 08-2011-138

Jalie 2806, a  top pattern purchased months ago, has patiently waited on the sewing table. It promises to be a basic and versatile style for me. Problem is, I can’t decide what size. Overlaying my BML (Bernina My Label) t-shirt pattern, it looks like my size incorporates three different pattern sizes. I keep stalling as I don’t want to waste my time or my fabric with a poor sizing choice. Purely illogical as I have a $1.00/yard knit that is perfect for testing; not much to lose if it doesn’t work.

Julie - Thank for your shirt pattern suggestion (Silhouettes Classic Blouse, #600). I have several projects in the works but hope to order this soon.

Jared - You recently asked about my sewing machine and the denim I’m using. Most of my sewing (including the denim projects) is done on a Bernina 930 Record and the denim came from Safe Denim. And yes, it is holding up. The fabric is wonderful!

Okay, off for another glass of iced tea (decaf – it is late after all)…Happy sewing!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ottobre's Every-Woman’s Pant - Finished

I finished the Ottobre cropped pants and have already worn them. Here is what they look like after two trips through the washer and dryer. Perfect for summer and I’m happy to have them.

From various reviews, I anticipated that the Ottobre fit would be more generous than Burda’s but I can't say that I notice a difference. The pants work and that has given me a green light to try other Ottobre pants patterns.

I still haven’t decided what to do about new shirt patterns but somehow I have to get it in gear soon. Motivation? Well, the tops currently in my closet are starting to look sad and I can’t find anything in ready-to-wear that fits. One would think that would be motivation enough…

I want to skip the trial and error part of fitting yet I know it has to happen.  So, in the meantime, I’ll just keep sewing pants and throw in a few TNT shirts until I can get inspired (or truly desperate).

I have traced and cut out the 5-pocket Ottobre Woman jeans (05-2007-10). I love the back pockets with the buttoned flaps but will be sewing the patch pocket for this first attempt with the new pattern. The waist looks a bit high – like edging into “mom” jeans territory but I’m going to sew “as is” for this round.

Ottobre Woman 05-2007-10

That’s all that’s new in my sewing world, though I have been spending a lot of time on eBay looking at old Pfaff’s, Bernina’s and Vikings. I don’t need anymore machines but I sure enjoy seeing what is out there.

Enjoy your week!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Every-Woman’s Pant - Ottobre 05-2008-16

Number 15 from the denim roll is slowing coming along. I’d traced the pattern and cut the denim last weekend. It sat by the machines, untouched, all week. This was after spending my sewing time the previous week pulling shirt and t-shirt patterns out of the file and comparing them to my BML (Bernina My Label) patterns. The comparisons made me understand why I bothered with BML. Many women that sew require a FBA (full bust adjustment). Well, I need a FBA too. However, my FBA is a full belly adjustment. To have a shirt fit, I have to do a full belly adjustment along with changing the sleeve length and shortening the shoulder to underarm distance. In addition, I often add length to the hem. A longer hem is a generally a preference and not a fitting matter.

Usually, I just straighten out the side seams and that will give me the extra fabric I need. The sleeve length is easy too – just a horizontal tuck in the sleeve pattern. More tucks for the front and back armholes and the sleeve cap. Not a big deal. Nevertheless, none of the new patterns I looked at were compelling enough to get me to make the necessary changes. Each time the overlapped patterns showed me what needed to be done, I simply folded the patterns and put them back into their respective envelopes.

Discouraged, I took myself to the San Marcos PremiumOutlets. I visited several stores and tried on many shirts. I came away with a new pair of shoes, a wallet and a renewed understanding of why I sew my own clothes.

I finally know what I have to do to a pants pattern to get it to fit. I want that same confidence with the shirts I produce. I have sewn several shirts that fit and I wear them often, but from my jeans sewing experience, I know that sewing one after another can work out my fitting issues.

While I’m getting my mind set to tackle shirts/tops, I have been sewing albeit at a sluggish pace. The Ottobre Every-Woman’s Pant (05-2008-16) is nearly complete. I added some back pockets (from Lekala 5742) and deleted the front waistband extension. Initially, I had included the extension but it just looked weird.

The waistband is yet to be finished: topstitching, belt loops, button/buttonhole and rivets.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Cropped Jeans with Hem Bands – Burda 7669

The growing t-shirt provided many laughs but hasn’t done much to encourage me to sew more tops. No, not much time or fabric was invested and my ego wasn’t damaged, yet I haven’t felt like giving the pattern another try. Eventually, I will - I just need to find some other knit fabric first. Cotton knits are what I’ve been looking for but I’m not coming across many that aren’t printed with little hearts, puppies or trucks.

Consequently, no new tops to tell of…however, I did sew some denim. I made myself another pair of cropped jeans using Burda 7669. The hem bands are what got my attention and this time I didn’t deviate too far from the line drawing. I left off the belt loops, topstitched a bit more, and added some rivets. I also sewed twill tape into the pocket seam to keep the bias-cut pocket from stretching out. The lighting I had to work with was terrible and the photo above is the best photo produced. The details don't show up very well but I figured it was better than no photo...

The new cutting mat, by the way, is wonderful and I wish I’d gotten it sooner. I didn’t because it is just too easy to buy sewing things I don’t really need and with little space, I work hard at keeping non-essentials away. In spite of this, I want to use my sewing time wisely and if there is a tool available that will speed things up and/or help produce better looking garments – well, I’m willing to do some rearranging.

My goal for this coming week is to sew a comfortable summer-weight top. Fabric? Makes no difference - as long as it isn’t matte jersey…

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Tammy and the Growing T-Shirt

What with the new job and the heat, I haven’t felt much like sewing this week. Still, I was able to put this t-shirt together. The pattern is Simplicity 3571, view A. I shortened the sleeve and also lowered the center front neckline about an inch and a half.

The fabric is a matte jersey from Being only $3/yd., I wasn’t expecting much but neither the serger nor the coverstitch wanted anything to do with it. To deal with the skipped and loose stitches, I changed out needle types and sizes, trying out everything in the drawer. Absolutely no improvement in stitch quality came of my attempts, even with tension adjustments thrown in. I finally just sewed the thing up and didn’t look back.

Once completed, I took it to the laundry room for a visit with the steamer. Before my eyes, as soon as the steam met the fabric, the shirt began to grow! I’d never seen that happen before. Have you? The bottom of the armhole is now well on its way to the waist. I’m going to leave it on the dress form for a few days just to see what happens. Maybe it’s gonna turn into a dress…

In other news, I finally bought myself a cutting mat - the big one that they have at JoAnn’s. I used a half-off coupon so it was really quite reasonable. I knew from measuring my little fold-out cutting table that the mat was going to be too long but that didn’t stop me from getting it anyway. I used it, full-length hanging over the edges of the table, to cut out this t-shirt. It didn’t work very well and half-way through I took the scissors to the mat. I know, I was shocked too at my treatment of the brand new mat, though it was the right thing to do. It is now the perfect length and might just fit between the filing cabinet and the wall when I’m not using it.

Yeah, it has been an odd week…