Internet Highlights

Today I’m rounding up my favorite bits from the interwebs this week, things that I’ve found interesting, useful or simply entertaining.

  • I’ve been looking recently at the Carme Blouse by Pauline Alice. At first I was wondering if it was a bit too stiff looking for me but this swiss dot version is absolutely lovely. I even have some swiss dot that I bought for a project I decided not to do. That’ll definitely be going on my project list.
  • I’ve made a couple different bags that I use as luggage, but it’s been a while since I made them and my skills have definitely improved so I’ve been thinking about making a new bag for some of the traveling that I will do this summer. The Cargo Duffle by Noodlehead has been on my list and this version from Coconut Robot that I found yesterday has inspired all sort of plans and modifications.
  • When my real sewing adventures began about two years ago, quilting was what I thought I’d stick with. I’ve moved on from there but am still inspired by the modern quilting movement. There’s something so satisfying about older blocks remade in the bright, vibrant quilting cottons now available. An instagram photo led me to sotosewn and I’ve been enjoying looking at her quilts.

Selfish Sewing Week

Technically last week was Selfish Sewing Week but I had a midterm, class, reading to do, all those school shananigans and then we were away over the weekend. I did manage to get some sewing done but since this week is spring break for me (meaning I’m just working full time instead of working and going to school) I’m calling this Selfish Sewing Week. Not that I really need one. I spent some time last week writing a list of all the garments I’ve made, it’s on my Makes page if you’re interested in perusing, and realized that 13 of the 18 garments I made last year were for me. I’m not pointing that out because it’s a bad thing, simply to say that I’m pretty sure every week is Selfish Sewing Week for me.

Last week I made a Sutton Blouse, did some work on the Natalie Top I started ages ago, and worked on some pattern alterations for my Ginger Jeans.

I’m really on the fence about the Sutton Blouse. I thought the seersucker would be so nice and airy, a perfect late spring/summer shirt but the seersucker is just not draping the way I wanted or expected it to. That, combined with the pattern being intentionally boxy, and the voile that I used for the contrast yoke draping so much more than the seersucker, means it’s just looking a little off. It’s finished now, just needs threads clipped and a final press. I’ve been forcing myself to finish it because otherwise it’ll just sit in my sewing cabinet making me feel guilty every time I start a new project. Hopefully once it’s totally done, and I’ve tried it on with a more summery bottom I’ll like it more.

Unfortunately the Natalie Top I’ve been working on is also not feeling totally awesome right now. I started it quite a while ago, not totally sure when but it was definitely in 2015. I was a bit skeptical about the pattern, not feeling totally sure that the front placket/pleat dealio was really for me. But because it came in the Indiesew Fall Collection I felt I should try it at some point. At some point in January I was surfing through the blogs I follow and I came across Teresa’s Natalie Top and realized how much I loved her version and that I had the exact same fabric. I’d seen her version last fall when the collection came out but when I saw it again and realized I could make it without needing to buy anything I was pumped. This seems to be a bit of a trend for me. I’m checking out sewing blogs over coffee on Saturday or Sunday morning and decide I have to, absolutely have to, make a version of an awesome make I saw on someone’s blog. It means I am not thoroughly thinking through how much I like the garment for me, whether I would really wear it, or whether the fabric is right. I think if I could break this habit and do a better job of psyching myself up for the projects I’ve already planned I would be infinitely more productive. And probably lacking in UFOs, which would be a miracle.

Anyway, long story short I got the pattern and the fabric cut out and was zipping along. The only modification I made was to lengthen it, perhaps 5 inches, I can’t remember right now, and give it a shirttail hem so that I could wear it as a tunic. This may be where I went wrong. I think I could look good in tunics, and I like the idea of them, but there something I’m just starting to explore fashion-wise so perhaps making one from a shirt pattern I wasn’t 300% sure I liked was poor planning. So I was cranking it out but then I was having a really hard time sewing the plackets/pleats at the front so that they met really evenly. I finally finished what I thought then was an okay job. (Definitely wasn’t upon more recent inspection.) I tried it on after that and was just not excited at all.  After deciding to just finish it up and make a decision on it later, I managed to sew on a sleeve inside out. So I ripped the sleeve out, folded it up and in a slightly more adult way said something like, “oh let’s just forget it,” which was 2 year-old Hannah’s favorite phrase.

Last weekend I was grabbing a few projects that I was hoping to finish up during our trip to Vermont and I grabbed my Natalie top along with my Sutton. I got my sleeves pinned in correctly and sewed those. But the front pleat was still really bugging me. I ripped that out and I’m thinking now that I really just need to hand baste it. When I was pinning it I was either sewing too close too the pleat or too far from it. I’m also bugged by my topstitching right at the top corners of the pleats. I’ve ripped out one of those and I’m going to try that again. At this point I just need to fix the front pleats to my satisfaction and then figure out whether I’m keeping the tunic length or axing it. Then a hem and some buttons and buttonholes on the sleeve button tab. Not too far away but I’m going to have to keep pushing myself to not toss it in the back of the cabinet.

One last quick project update. I’ve been wanting to recover my ironing board for a while now. The padding is basically disintegrating and the cover has water stains all over it. On Monday I was at the store and noticed a nice think pad intended for ironing board covers. I tossed that in the cart along with some cheap but adorable fabric and that night I banged out a cover. Nothing terribly impressive but it’s been on my mind for a long time and it’s nice to have it finished.

That’s my Selfish Sewing Week for now. Hopefully it’ll be a productive week!

Helpful Links for Upcoming Projects

I’ve been totally lacking in free time at home recently so I haven’t made as much progress as I’d like on the projects I’ve outlined. But I have been spending some time (at work and commuting to and from work) looking out for tips and tricks that will help me customize projects. Things like different pockets for my Archer, in whatever form it may take and petite adjustments for my Ginger jeans.

I’m also swimming in ideas for customizing my Minoru jacket. Sewing this jacket will certainly be the most involved project I’ve taken on so far and perhaps I shouldn’t be using that as the reason to pull out all the bells and whistles. But instead I’m feeling like, if I’m going to tackle a big project and put so much time and energy into it, it might as well be a jacket that has all the details I’m looking for. I’ll be making a muslin to check fit, and the construction doesn’t really involve that many things I haven’t done before. So I’m going big. I still haven’t decided on inseam pockets vs patch pockets vs welt pockets. I’ve been contemplating replacing the neck gathering with pleats or darts, and I think I’m definitely going to be adding a fifth placket piece to lay under the zipper and keep the cold zipper from my skin and the top of it from rubbing uncomfortably against my chin.

I’ve also just generally been lurking on the sew-along pages for all of the projects I’ve got planned. The Minoru, Archer, and Ginger sew-alongs are all over so I’m really just using those as tips. But the Felicity Dress sew-along is just getting started and I’m hoping to actually participate in that. She’s planning a pretty long sew-along schedule so I may end up finishing early but I enjoy the detailed instructions that come with this sort of thing.

Internet Highlights

Today I’m rounding up my favorite bits from the interwebs this week, things that I’ve found interesting, useful or simply entertaining.

  • Jen’s review over on Grainline Studio of the Fabric for Fashion books definitely caught my eye. This set of books (sold separately) includes Fabric for Fashion: The Complete Guide and Fabric for Fashion: The Swatch Book. While I’d love to own both some day, the swatch book is going straight to my birthday list. One thing I certainly miss out on by being a self-taught seamstress instead of a school-taught one is all the instruction about different fabrics and that’s something I’d really like to know more about.
  • I’m loving the shirt length versions of the Marianne Dress that Amber over at Fancy Tiger Crafts made for Selfish Sewing Week. I’ve got a few single yards of jersey that I could definitely throw together to make some super cute tops.
  • I can’t even handle how fantastic this Minoru jacket it. Purple is totally my color, the sheen on the fabric is gorgeous, and Birgitte has added some awesome details.
  • This post on Sew Mama Sew about printing your PDFs at a copy shop caught me at just the right time. I’m definitely a PDF pattern over printed pattern kind of gal. As much as I don’t enjoy all the printing, cutting, and taping, I like not having to trace patterns and I like knowing that I can always just print something out again. But I balked a bit when I saw how many pages I’d have to print out for the Minoru jacket I’ve got planned. 61 pages feels like an awful lot of cutting and taping, especially when I already feel like I don’t have enough sewing time. I’ve got to do a little investigating to find the right place to print my patterns but depending on the pricing I may start doing that regularly with all the patterns that offer a copy shop version. This article certainly gave me the info I need to check out this option.

Trouble Getting Started

Despite having mountains of fabric and piles of pdf patterns I haven’t been getting much sewing done recently. There are three reasons that I have identified for why I often struggle with getting started on projects.

  • My sewing space is less than ideal. I cut, iron, and sew on the table in our living room/dining room. Things can’t stay set up indefinitely because it’s also the space where we eat and do schoolwork. And the cat has a death wish and likes to eat just about everything, so fabric and thread really have to be put away. This means that every sewing session I have to set up both machines and the ironing board. All of the little tools and the cutting mat need to be unpacked. Then everything gets packed away at the end. It’s hard to take advantage of small bits of time to sew because I end up spending so much of it preparing to or cleaning up from sewing.
  • I get nervous about whether my sewing abilities will do justice to a pattern or fabric I really like. I know the only way to get past this stumbling block is to keep sewing and to do a better job of making muslins particularly when a pattern has techniques I haven’t practiced much.
  • The biggest problem though is that I just have so many ideas that I often can’t decide what to work on first. I know that not starting any projects because I have so many is clearly not the way to get all of them done, but it’s a stumbling block.

The first point I can’t do much about, the plan is to find a place with a permanent sewing area for me when we move in the next eighteen months or so. Other than that I just need to keep making it work. I know what I need to do to solve the second point: practice, patience, more practice, more patience. The third point is the one I can do the most about. And I have a plan.


Why this, why now?

For Christmas 2012 I received my sewing machine and spent the next year trying out quilting and accessory sewing. For Christmas 2013 I received a serger after a few months of being to try garment sewing. I’d say I’ve been seriously interested in constructing my own handmade wardrobe for about a year now. But I’ve resisted starting a sewing blog for several reasons.

  1. Does the world need another sewing blog? Is there really anything new I can put out into the sewing blogosphere?
  2. I’m really busy. I’ve been much more interested in spending the time I have sewing garments instead of talking about sewing garments.
  3. If I have a blog, I want a blog that looks really good. Without having much expertise or money to spend I’m not sure I’m capable of creating the look I really want.
  4. Is my sewing good enough that I’m confident showing it off to the world? I don’t expect crowds to flock to this space anytime soon but I still want the work I’m showing off to look good and (hopefully) accurately reflect my abilities.

Now that I’ve listed the reasons not to start a blog, here’s why I’ve decided to start one now.

  1.  Who cares if I don’t have brilliant new insights or techniques to share with the world. I’m thinking about this space as a way to document for myself the work I’ve made, the lessons I’ve learned, the progress I’ve made and will hopefully continue to make, and yes, the mistakes.
  2. I’m sharing this because I know how much I like reading about other people’s sewing adventures. It’s possible that no one will ever want to read about my sewing adventures, but it seems unlikely.
  3. Now that I’ve been sewing fairly regularly for two years I’ve gotten decent enough that I work faster than I probably should be. I think I’m probably an early intermediate seamstress at this point but I think I’m capable of much more if I can slow myself down. Because my sewing time is fairly limited it’s hard to spend three or four chunks of sewing time on one project because that can end up spanning several weeks. I like finishing garments. I do really like the process too and I would like to learn to slow down, perhaps make fewer things but make things that look professional and that I really feel comfortable replacing my store-bought clothing with. My hope is that if I’m trying to more closely document my process I will learn to recognize the places where I need to slow down and really focus on the details and “the right way” to do things.
  4. No one’s blog and no one’s sewing was perfect to begin with. There are plenty of blogs that started out as basic pages written by someone who wasn’t a great seamstress and just wanted to keep track of projects that have since turned into professional sites filled with patterns, tutorials and expertly crafted projects. I’m not sure that I’m interested in writing patterns or making this my job but who knows what will come.

So here’s my goal. At least a post a week that includes photos or info about the projects I’ve been working on, the things I’ve finished or the sewing plans I have. If I succeed at doing that for a while maybe it’ll become more.