Monday, December 29, 2014

Well, next up......

Despite my better judgement and because I haven't done particularly well in these contests I'm entering another one anyway. Why might you ask?

Well there is the fabulous cotton trench fabric I have from Michael's Fabrics and some really nice wool plaid flannel from Mood. I made a trench a few years ago and I really love it but it is definitely a trench for Spring. I want one for Winter so that's why I got the wool flannel - for a lining. I knocked a few other projects out in the mean time (pictures to come) and have been wanting to do this one for a while so I figured why not? It will mimic (to a point anyway) a $2000 Burberry I've always drooled over (not literally of course).

Right now I'm embroidering some tissue boxes for the lake house but this starts on the first  and because the house is closed for the Winter I have no excuse for not finishing this. Frankly

I do need some inspiration. My favorite sewing instructor, my Mom, passed away early December but she loved to see what I was making right up to the end, even after her sewing days were over.

At the lake I have her sewing box. Even in assisted living she was hemming skirts and pants to help friends save money. Now that's inspiration!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sewing room luxury - sewing themed coasters!

I've been looking high and low for sewing themed coasters for my sewing rooms. Alas, none exist. Well, step in my creative side......make my own!

First I had to find blanks. I found these lucite coater blanks with cork backing at All Stitch Embroidery designs. I need to remember this group - they are in Baltimore and I got these in one day with regular shipping.

I then went looking for sewing themed embroidery designs. I really like Emblibrary because they have interesting designs and they are quite reasonable. I bought the Creative Filigree Design pack and picked out the four designs that I deemed most appropriate designs. 

I gave my B780 it's first embroidery workout doing these. Wow is that machine fast!

This was the result:

I made a set for the Virgina sewing room and a set for the Pennsyvania Sewing room. So now the coaster stones with the robins can go back to the living room!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

My new machine and it's Gristmill cabinet!

Since it came out I'm been interested in a Bernina B780. It has everything I want in a machine but the size is huge and I knew it would not fit in my Rockler cabinet. I really like machines in cabinets as they get used more than machines in the closet. I also hesitated initially as there were issues with the 7 series machine. It's now been out for two years so I decided this was the time!

In our house in Virgina if something comes in, something must leave. The organizer I kept my television on is now at the Pocono house and the totally shot chair went out in the trash.

I called Pocono Sew and Vac in Stroudsburg and asked if they took trades. They gave me a great price for the machine, a great trade in for my Artista 630 and terrific financing AND even had it in stock. No way I was not getting it. Between that and my Babylock Coverstitch BLCS2 they are fast becoming my favorite dealer.

At the start it was on my Roberts table with the extended table on it. I made my Deer and Doe Pavot jacket on this machine and it did wonderfully with the thick wool with the dual feed engaged. When I made my denim/leather jacket it was set up for topstitching and the Bernina B580 was set up for piecing the jacket. The topstitching was absolutely perfect!

So enter the cabinet. As my dear Father in Law Jim passed away last August I have to find another place to get a cabinet. I've heard wonderful things about the Gristmill Collection of sewing machine cabinets. I contacted them and told them what I had and received information on what they recommended. I realize the cabinets suggested were too big for my space so I called Jason at Gristmill and we talked about what would work for the space I had. He proposed a Mini+ extended enough to accommidate the B780 and with an electric lift because of the height and weight of the machine. I requested shaker style and a color that would coordinate with the Rockler.

When it was built he called to confirm the stain color. Then several weeks later I was notified the cabinet was ready! 

We decided, since we are less than three hours from Bethal, PA, we would drive up to get it. It fit quite well in the back of my Prius (back seats down of course) and Jason and Colin got the cabinet in the car. We stopped at Wolf's Diner in Dillsburg, PA on the way home. It's a good basic diner, totally recommend!

This is what it looks like closed:

And this is what it looks like open with machine:

This, along with the B580 are the absolute dream team of machines for me!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Deer and Doe Pavot Jacket

As before mentioned I received this pattern as a gift for participating in the Pattern Review Wardrobe Contest. It was a really fun contest and putting things together and photographing them was part of the fun too. I think Colin would agree to that.

I decided as one of the pieces for the Natural Fabrics Contest I would use it to make a Winter coat. This pattern is unlined and made to be mid season but I've pretty much got mid season covered and for Winter I wanted something new.

My fabric came from Gorgeous Fabrics. I got some very nice brown coat weight wool and some black Bemberg lining for it. The buttons were from G Street Fabrics.  I definitely recommend Gorgeous Fabrics - the fabric got here very quickly and it is wonderful to work with.

My first observation when I was doing the muslin of the pattern is that French women are obviously not like 5'8" me. I had to drop the bust point down 1 1/2" and also drop the waist 1". Because I was making it to go over Winter jackets and sweaters I used the largest size, 46, and added 1" of ease to it as well. This fabrics was pretty beefy and definitely benefited by the additional ease.


I came to terms with the Peter Pan collar although I had to think about the first. Not exactly my style but it works on this coat. I also decided the puffy sleeve affect wasn't me and really wasn't this fabric. I made the sleeve as a basic set in with a fairly thin shoulder pad.

I also drafted the lining using the skirt pattern, the bodice and taking into account the facings. That worked quite well.

I found these very cool buttons at G Street Fabrics:

This was my first project on my new Bernina B780. It followed me home a few weeks ago and although it's cabinet isn't here yet I have it set up on Roberts sewing table I bought for machines not in cabinets and it's worked out pretty well in the interim. I can't get over how much the dual feed feature helped on this thick wool! It also made some really nice buttonholes. Having this machine and my B580 as my two main machines is truly a dream combination.

The fact I got both of these jackets done in the month of October feels much like a win already -
so - bring on the Surprise Sewing Bee!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The iconic jean jacket - Denim and Leather edition

I've done this pattern several times but I thought why not do this for the Pattern Review Natural Fabrics contest? This pattern is a basic jean's jacket.  I know there are several patterns out there for this but I have the program for it and decided to use that. A quick muslin confirmed the fit.

The denim, leather and very interesting lining material came from Gorgeous Fabrics. The denim is some really high quality black denim and the leather is glove soft. I did interface the leather with Pro Weft Supreme Medium-Weight Fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply. I can't say enough about this interfacing! It doesn't need to be preshrunken and it fuses beautifully. 

For the front I used the leather on the yoke. On the back I used it on the yoke as well as the strip in the back. I also did the cuffs with it.

The jeans thread came from Wawak as well as the buttons. A word about this thread from Wawak. It came in a very huge cone - I think enough for me and maybe a few generations after me. But the price was good. The gray thread looks pretty striking against the black leather and denim.

To fuse the interfacing to the leather I used a cool iron without the steam. It took to the underside very easily. I do have a shoe on my iron so I didn't need a press cloth.

I set up the Bernina B580 with black thread for the denim and leather construction. I put a leather needle in and used the very interesting leather foot - it sort of looks like it's on one training wheel:

I threaded the B780 up for topstitching. I used the jeans thread with a denim needle and put all purpose thread in the bobbin. I used the jeans dual feed foot with the dual feed engaged and it did a wonderful job on topstitch both the denim and the leather.

I did create a lining out of a really interesting looking cotton fabric. I thought it was a pretty nice touch to inside. I didn't flat fell the seams because it was lined.The other modification I made was to make the rounded collar more pointed. Just more my style.

I'm glad I finished before Fall totally set in as it's the perfect weight for that season.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Contests, contests.....

I did okay with the T shirt contest but didn't win. I don't mind that because I've got a bunch of new clothes to wear that I wouldn't have had otherwise. As a matter of fact I wore the long sleeved dress to work yesterday. I'm finding some of the T shirts work pretty well with the clothes I made for the wardrobe contest. And my jacket for the outerwear contest is getting a lot of use right now.

Right now I'm working on the natural fabrics contest. I've all but finished the Deer and Doe jacket but I'm making it for Winter as opposed to mid season as suggested.. Currently it just needs the buttonholes cut and the buttons put on. I made a LOT of alterations and modifications and I'll get pictures up shortly. I've acquired a Bernina B780 and it makes really great buttonholes.

The other piece I'm making is a denim and leather jacket. It's a Bernina My Label pattern (not stopping using it until it doesn't work anymore) and I'm doing some tweaks but for the most part it's going to be right on the mark. I'm loving the fact I have my B580 set up for the leather part and the B780 set up for the denim.

Next up is a contest that's sort of like the Great British Sewing Bee. The first week will have a challenge where we get one week to make whatever is announced. Someone will win, some will get eliminated. It goes on in this format for two more weeks then after the last week's challenge the grand winner is named. The teasers make it look like the prizes could be interesting and if I every felt a Project Runway feeling coming on this is it!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Entries for the T Shirt Contest!

The title of this one is T Shirts for All Seasons.

Like the Wardrobe Contest I decided to take the approach to do the most intricate shirts first and go towards the easiest. That almost worked. Turns out number three was the most time consuming as it's the first time I worked with Bernina Design Works. The Crystal Works was a breeze but the Paint Works had a bit of a learning curve. The good thing was I had a lot of white knit fabric from a recent Michael's Fabrics bundle so I did have the opportunity to play a bit. Now I feel I've got it and there will be no stopping me in the future!

I based this on the Bernina My Label T shirt pattern that has served me quite well. The one big modification I did was a full bust adjustment. I've never thought that to be needed before but it made a big difference in the way the front lays. I used Louise Cutting's technique from her Threads Insiders Industry Techniques #4. It's also on the Thread's Insider site which I find very handy when I don't have the disc with me. This is a really good series for a more experience sewist as it goes through some very useful techniques. Not really beginner level though.

Well here is the first one:

I got some rather thin yellow rayon knit in the bundle and since yellow is not an everyday color for me I though beach coverup! Our PA house is across the street from the lake so I'm not particularly comfortable walking around in just my swimsuit. I took my basic T, lengthened it, put a V neck on it and shortened the sleeves. I could not resist embroidering the silly crab on the hem. Of course I had to take the picture at the lake on Cyber Seas.

For the next one I lengthened the shirt, made it with slits on the side, made it sleeveless and added the embroidery from Bernina's Tuscan Garden collection using the Mega Hoop on my Bernina 630. This was another fabric from my Michael's Fabrics bundle. This one was a little beefier. I thought this was a good Summer dress and something that can be dressed up or down.

The third one was the basic shirt but I embellished the sleeves with Paint works and Crystal Works. This had to be done on my B580 as it's the only machine I've got that's capable of using this program. The collections was Bernina's Loop-D-Loop which I thought looked like fun.

The Edding pens that came with Paint Works ran out pretty fast so I bought a whole bunch of Tuskineko pens in all kinds of colors from Amazon. They came highly recommended from the Design Works Yahoo group. I then punched the template for the crystals using the Crystal Works program and made four sets, 2 each for the sleeves. It was a lot of fun and I can see wanting to use this more in the future!

The forth one was a basic T with the neck scooped a bit and out of the fabulous nicely heavy wool knit from Mood. I'm not wishing Summer away so quickly but this is going to a nice sweater for when the weather gets colder.

The fifth one also fell out of my sequence on complexity idea. I was going to see if I had time for this at the end - the requirement was four but I shot for six. This cotton knit fabric came from G Street and it's a nice substantial weight. I took one of the curved rulers I got with my pattern design kit from Wawak and made the curves using the ruler. I then faced them and trimmed the facing down. My nice new Babylock cover stitch did a very good job of following the curves to cover. Then I used some very small black buttons to tack the sleeves together. The neck on this one was scooped a bit as well.

Here's the sixth one. I didn't get the cashmere knit fabric from Mood in time so into the stash I went. I found this wild knit fabric I got from the G Street remnant pile years ago and I though dress! I can always use a casual dress! I lengthened the shirt but 12 inches and "ruched" the sleeves a bit. For the ruching I zigzaged over the round elastic and then pulled it tighter. Voila! Instant ruching!

So I made it! Six shirts this quickly makes a very busy month. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

And the suspense is over - my Patternreview Wardrobe Contest surprise!

Okay, so the suspense is over. All or at least most of us got our surprises from the wardrobe contest. I
couldn't be happier! This is what I got:

I've come to the conclusion that I want to sew either self drafted, computer drafted, magazine patterns (Burda, Bernina Inspirations), book patterns (Collette and  Quadrille Publishing  for example) or independent patterns. In other words not the big 4 right now. The independents can be pricey but the companies are run by some very creative people.

Deer and Doe is a french company owned by Eleonore Klein  and ever since I've read about them I've wanted to try one of their patterns. So this was a wonderful surprise! These patterns are created and printed in France on recycled paper so that works for the Prius driving tree hugger in me.

So after I'm finished with the T shirt marathon I've been on (on number 6 right now) this will be my next project. After all I can always use another nice fall jacket!

This is the link to their site: Deer and Doe Patterns

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Okay I didn't win but....

That wardrobe challenge was a lot of fun! Well I did okay, for a second run at this anyway. There were lots of impressive collections with some really ambitious pieces. I felt the shirt and skirts were ambitious enough for me. After all full time job, house and Mom in PA and quality time with  Husband and the pets. But I was very pleased with the collection I came up with so that's a win in my book!

Because there were so many of us (35 of us) we were rewarded for participation. After the overseas crowd has gotten their surprise I'll say what it is but I will say I was really pleased to see we were acknowledged!

I saw the envelope in the mail coming through the door after work. Well, of course Minnie had to go out for her walk, then she needed dinner and of course Elvis and Bailey the parrots wanted their afternoon treat. The whole time I was walking Minnie (the sniffer) I kept saying "c'mon, c'mon aren't you hungry?"

Anyway, I'm now deep in the T Shirt contest  - this challenge is to take one tried and true T shirt pattern and make 4 to 6 things with it. So far I've got a beach coverup and a sleeveless T shirt dress and am currently working on a white T shirt with what looks like doodling on the sleeves. I'm using the Bernina Designworks suite - first painting and they perhaps adding crystals. All in all fun to play with.

The first two are going to PA with me this weekend so I can get some creative shots by the lake. I would have done that last time but timing didn't work out. And frankly the  Occoquan River made a pretty good backdrop!

To be continued.....

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Pattern Review Mini Wardrobe Contest - Anchor's Away!

Nothing like a challenge to inspire one. Well I decided to enter the Pattern Review Mini-Wardrobe contest. The idea is to make five pieces that can be combined into six outfits. I've never tried sewing with a plan for more that maybe three pieces before so I thought this was a really good time to challenge myself. I chose some very tried and true patterns from Bernina My Label.

What I chose was:

A sort of camp like shirt made out of the anchor fabric I found at Grey's Fabric and Notions on a recent trip to Boston. This was based on the My Label tailored shirt but without the vertical darts with the sleeves widened and cuffed. I also put a pleat in the center back. I could not resist the buttons I found at G street for this:

A black T shirt but in a really nice knit and with 3/4 sleeves - perfect for summer air conditioned DC area offices. The fabric was knit with a light terry underside which feels great.

Same T shirt pattern with white but with a boat neck and slightly ruched sleeves. This fabric came in a bundle from Michael's Fabrics.

A skirt made of a khaki colored cotton twill. This has side pockets sort of like jean pockets and a fly front. I kept the original slit in the back per the pattern. The fun part was making belt loops with my newly aquired Baby Lock cover stitch machine.  That fun little machine also made short work of the two knit tops.

The last was a nautical inspired skirt using the same basic pattern of the khaki skirt but with a faux flap on the front, welt pocket on the back and invisible zipper as the real closure. The flap was actually two shallow pockets just about big enough to put buttonholes and then buttons on the under portion. I also kept the slit in this skirt as well. This is made of denim and once again, could not resist the buttons I found at G Street:

I wanted a water backdrop for the pictures but I also needed a place to change. I realized that the town of Occoquan which is literally just down the street had a visiter center. I asked the nice guy in there if I could leave the clothes there and use the lady's room to change. He said of course!

The first was the combo of the khaki skirt and black tee:

Then I put on the anchor shirt over the khaki skirt:

After that it was the white shirt with the khaki skirt:

The over to the naval inspired skirt, first with the white shirt:

Then with the black shirt:

Then with the black shirt and anchor shirt over it. And the goofy captain's hat I found on Amazon:

So there are all six! This contest has a lot of fiece competition but the real winning felling was I actually finished and have quite a few pieces of new wearable clothes!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Great British sewing Bee Anorak

This was a recent entry in a Pattern Review contest for outerwear and although I didn't do well compared to all the trenches that entered I wanted to do this jacket anyway.

 If anyone watched the Great British Sewing Bee you will know it takes home sewists and has them compete in challenges. It's not like Project Runway as the drama and egos do not abound. Also no big prizes - a dressform trophy and bragging rights. They also show lessons on how things are done. Each episode has three timed challenges: A pattern they have to follow, then a remodel of an existing garment, then a bigger more creative challenge.One contestant gets eliminated at the end of the show.

This was the book from Season 2. The book on the series had a lot of the patterns used on the show. Quadrille Publishing has a link for the Pattern download.   I'd rather trace then tape so I got the book. It's actually a pretty good book. It comes ith five full sheets of traceable patterns. Also I found the technique for the heat tape there. Amazon has the book here.

So this is what the front looks like:

And here is the back:

Believe it or not on this jacket they were given 3 hours! Needless to say it took a lot more for me! It's actually a men's jacket but I didn't see any reason I couldn't make it for me. I did size it up so I can wear a sweatshirt under it. I found all the fabrics at Seattle Fabrics and got the zipper from G Street Fabrics as they are nice enough to shorten as needed. 

For the heat tape I sewed the wrong sides together and trimmed so the tape is right side. I then opened the seam and ironed it. I positioned the tape over the seam put tissue paper on it like I was using a pressing cloth. The first round I tacked it, the I repositioned the paper and went over it again. I repeated until it was firmly bound.

I wasn't lined but I created a lining because the fabric I used for the jacket, although waterproof is very thin and frankly it would have looked very unfinished otherwise:

I think in the future I would like to make it in another color, perhaps put our boat name on it and maybe add a hood. Hmmmm, red with black tape and ribbing next time? As soon as I finish the whole other bunch of projects I want to do!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Fun with baseball caps!

Wow, I've been away from this too long! Life gets really complicated sometimes. Well, I'm back!

We, last year, found a nice little 20 ft Chaparral bow rider for our PA house. We went looking for a nice used one found one we could afford at Capri Marina on Lake Wallenpaupack. Since we finally acquired a boat slip we decided we needed a boat! Our lake is 13 miles long, has 52 miles of shoreline and three pretty good restaurants on it. We've decided our car does not know where to find lunch when the boat is in the water!

Here it is on the very crisp May day we first launched it. And of course it was a bit of challenge to figure out  how to tie it up!
With the sunny Pocono weather I decided we needed some baseball caps. I designed a logo using Cooper Black type for the back of the boat and also found some key chains (float-able!) we could get with the logo on. I found there was  hoop insert for the oval hoop for my Bernina B580 and of course had to have it. The trick to hooping this was to get the hat really flat. I found staples helped quite a bit. We could get very reasonably priced hats on Amazon. So this is what the result was:

Needless to say we now also have sweatshirts and jackets with this logo!