Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Actually, There is a Better Way…

And I thank my mom! Our telephone conversations have been filled with stories about our roll of denim and the garments I’ve been making. Along the way, she has listened as I’ve whined about my unfortunate hammer skills and the resulting smashed and distorted rivets.

Her answer arrived late last night via UPS. What a simple yet ingenious gadget, not to mention incredibly kind gift! It came from Grommet Mart. You can buy additional dies to attach jeans buttons, snaps, covered buttons and, of course, grommets.

I tried it on a scrap. Simple perfection!

DD#1’s skirt is almost complete. It just needs the belt loops sewn on and then I can attach the rivets. Can’t wait!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

More Denim - Shorts and Capris

I’ve finished my shorts. This is Burda Style 05-2010-135. A Burda pattern? Yeah, I’m stunned too!
I felt the shorts needed a pocket on the back, so I printed one from the BurdaStyle Ellen #9305 pants pattern. It is a free download. Can’t speak for the rest of the Ellen pants, but the pocket design works.
Burda Style 05-2010-135
The belt loops were skipped and the leg was shortened by one inch, but you will be pleased to see that I kept the in-seam pockets. Long-time readers surely recognize this pocket lining fabric. Not much of it is left, unfortunately.
My Capris have been completed, too. Well, I call them Capris. Feel free to label them as whatever pant variant you wish. For the pattern, I used Burda Style 01-2010-136. And, because winter is over, I folded the legs of this jeans pattern up several inches before cutting the denim. The contoured waist sure doesn't look like the one on the line drawing, does it?

Burda Style 01-2010-136

The only angst, other than breaking a few needles from out of control topstitching, occurred when removing a damaged rivet. Three applications of Fray Check and all is well; a new rivet covers the wound. Granted, I'm much more confident with the hammer than when I first started attaching rivets, but there just has to be a better way of getting them on right the first time.
For the pocket embroidery, I traced the bird from Ottobre Woman 02-2007-14 onto water-soluble stabilizer (Sulky Solvy) with a fine-tipped Sharpie. Then I laid the stabilizer on top of a large scrap and machine embroidered using the Bernina's triple straight stitch. The stabilizer came away cleanly with a few pulls.  It wasn’t necessary to rinse - it just peeled away. I’ve had the stabilizer forever and I couldn’t make a good argument for saving it any longer. Sewing a bird on a pocket is reason enough, right?
Even though I didn’t read, and therefore didn’t follow, the Burda instructions for the Capris/jeans, I did go along with the pocket placement lines on the pattern. Next time I'll guess. 

Pocket placement notwithstanding, I really liked how well both of these patterns went together. It was annoying to tackle the wacky pattern sheets, but once I got past that, everything matched up. I can't complain...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Denim Skirt – Vogue 2811 (Seriously Modified)

DD#2 came home for a visit. Before, we had talked about sewing her a new denim skirt while she was here.  And, as readers of this blog know, we currently have plenty of denim so I felt that I could make that happen.

This was to be an abbreviated visit. I planned ahead and cut the skirt out before she arrived. For the pattern, I chose Vogue 2811, view B (OOP).  View A has non-working pockets (why would you bother?) and to me it looked too short to be practical. View B was about the right length but it needed front pockets and a yoke added to the back skirt piece.
Before starting on her skirt, I showed her my unfinished Burda shorts and Capris. On the Capris, I’d embroidered the bird from the Ottobre Woman 02-2007-14 stretch Capris pattern. She wanted that bird on her new skirt. What is a mama to do?
It was easy to create the back yoke. I used a French curve to draw the yoke, making sure the line intersected the bottom point of the waist dart, then cut the yoke and skirt pieces apart. I closed the dart on the yoke and added seam allowance to the bottom of the yoke. I also added seam allowance to the top of the skirt piece.

The front pockets were borrowed from DD#1’s Burda 6006 Anita jeans. The back pockets also came from the Anita jeans – but from the pocket pattern I had drawn for the Anita jeans. I simply guessed for the pocket placement. She wasn’t crazy about how high the waist was, so I removed close to an inch from the top of the waistband. It does look better.
Of course, it would have been easier to start with a pattern that already had the features she wanted, but it really didn’t take that long to make the changes. Besides, it was fun; we really didn’t know where this project was heading. The goal was to end up with a skirt that she likes. We did that and now we have a basic pattern that will be used again. DD#1 wants a denim skirt…with that bird, no less…

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Simplicity 5517 Jeans - Completed

When I started this project, I really wasn’t expecting any difficulties. After all, this wasn’t my first pair of jeans and DD#1 hadn’t run backwards when I suggested modifying the high-waisted 70’s pattern.  The changes were made easily enough and corrected the obvious fitting and style issues. So, I was stunned when I encountered the waistband problems. Frustrating, but nothing that a break and some good advice couldn't cure.
I think they turned out great. I appreciate that everything is sewn on the machine and the only handwork (button and rivets) is done with a hammer!

Everywhere I go, I now catch myself studying the details on jeans. I can’t help it. Pocket shape and placement, topstitching, embroidery, etc. It is all interesting and I stare. At home, while doing laundry, I’ll turn a pair inside out to see how they are put together. I’ve noticed that on some of our jeans the front crotch seam below the zipper is flat-felled. I haven’t been able to figure out how to make that happen with the way I sew in the zippers. A flat-felled seam would be sturdier...

By the way, I love this 12 ounce ring-spun denim.

My Burda Style Capris are almost finished and I hope to have some photos soon.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Like Butter…

Mary Nanna was so right! I put a Schmetz Jeans/Denim size 16 needle in the Bernina and that was the solution to the topstitching. Those denim needles have been in the drawer but I’ve been reluctant to use them as they cost more than regular needles.  So, the object lesson for today:

Being stingy is not going to work when it comes to topstitching denim

I am grateful that it isn’t a machine issue and I wish all of life’s problems were solved so easily…

Tomorrow, DD#1 will model her new jeans for us.

Encouraged, I cut out the Burda 01-2010-136 jeans. With the weather getting warmer, I decided they needed to be capri length.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ma’am, Step Away From the Jeans

Here is the first pair of jeans from the roll. And yes, they are incomplete.

All of the changes that were made to the original pattern, Simplicity 5517, worked until I got to the waistband. When DD #1 tried the jeans on, the center fronts of the band wouldn't match up. It was simply too small. The muslin had fit nicely. Discouraged, I let the jeans sit for a few days.

I finally asked her to try them on again and I made a new pattern piece. While making changes, I also trimmed ¼” off the top so the finished width is 1 5/8”. It fits and looks great on her.

However, topstitching that band has defeated me. Twice. The Bernina isn’t appreciative of the numerous layers on the front. Right where the zipper is, the feed dogs refuse to continue, even with encouragement and coaxing from the hand-wheel. The jeans have been set aside. Again.
I am confused as that machine plows through everything. And, there isn’t anything different with this pair...the denim isn’t any heavier, nor have I used a heavier interfacing. Same machine, same needles, same thread…

I’ll try again tomorrow.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

Beangirl nominated me for The Stylish Blogger Award. Me? I never win anything, though I will admit to trying by occasionally inserting a dollar into the Texas Lottery ticket dispenser at HEB.  Granted, this blogger award is an updated version of the chain letter, but I don’t need to send cash, nor is there a curse if I break the chain…and, I just might tell you something about myself that I otherwise wouldn’t. How bad can that be?

I always come away with a grin when I visit Beangirl's blog. Please visit if you haven't already done so.

As a recipient of the Stylish Blogger Award, I’m to reveal seven things that you would not guess about me and then nominate seven new beneficiaries. Okay, hold onto your panties:

1. Unlike Beangirl, I don’t have any tattoos. My body produced three children and all these years later, the inevitable stretch marks remain. I'm a believer that tattoos and stretch marks should not share the same body. Yet, in a way, those stretch marks are my tattoos...

2. I love simple, beautiful food (and reading about it, too). For years and years, I prepared three meals a day and even my children’s school lunch sandwiches were made with home baked bread. I shopped religiously at Central Market and Whole Foods. Thanksgiving turkeys were fresh, free range and kosher. Now my food preparation routine consists of nuking pasta or oatmeal in the microwave and simply chopping fruits and vegetables...well, at least I put them in a pretty bowl. Also in the mix is some form of protein and if I want to live large, I’ll roast a pan of veggies in the oven. When I do need to make something special, I will test several versions (with changes documented) until the recipe is perfect.

Epicurious and Savuer are preferred websites and I enjoy reading about food history. This morning, my food reading included “Dining Travelers at Home and Abroad – Favorite Recipes of Military Officers’ Wives”. This 1975 book, found at the thrift store, is a hoot!
And speaking of reading - I read everything from The WSJ to free vintage books downloaded from Google Books – on whatever subject strikes my fancy. With the advent of the Kindle, I’m not buying books like I used to. When I do go book shopping you will more likely find me at Half Price Books or visiting and picking up something quirky. Lately, I have been learning about Singer sewing machines.  If I had the room I would be collecting them, stopping at the 500A.  Oh, I would be hunting down old industrials, too.  Like the 31-15. I realize that I need to know more about electricity and basic wiring as I have a Singer 66 that should be rewired.

3. I’ve been considering going back to school to get another degree; just don’t know if the cost/benefit is worth it at my age (probably not). I have a BBA in management/international business.

4. I could not survive without my morning caffeine. I am a fan of the Breville K-cup brewer.

5. I knit backwards or so I’ve been told. I taught myself to knit many years ago using 1940’s craft books. My favorite was purchased at a flea market in Hell, Michigan. I’ve made several pairs of socks, hats, scarves, mittens and even a few sweaters. Living in San Antonio, there isn’t often the need for extra layers of warmth and cotton yarn doesn’t interest me. I love to crochet. I think I do that backwards too…
6. I’m not much of a nature girl though I do love to travel.  I have disdain for fire ants and direct sunlight. My idea of camping is staying at mid-range branded hotels.
7. Generally, other than this blog and family, I don’t often tell people that I sew. I just keep it to myself and frankly, I take it as a positive that my self-made clothes blend and aren’t theatrical. I often have to rein myself in. It would be very easy for me to return to my 1970’s sewing roots that churned out ruffled maxi dresses and bell-bottomed bib overalls. Now and then, I catch myself searching eBay and Etsy for the Jane Tise patterns I had tossed.

As a direct result of having a limited blog circle, I don’t feel that I can fairly pass this award on without insulting someone in some fashion. Therefore, if you read this and want to participate in the Stylish Blogger Award, please do. Just link back to me and pass the award onward. You have my permission to keep the chain alive.

Beangirl, thanks for including me!