Planning mode

I know it’s been a couple of weeks since I posted, and I didn’t want to let it go much longer, because … well, because I am making an effort to post to the blog at least a couple of times a month this year. And my silence hasn’t been because I’m not doing anything, because I am. It’s more because I’m trying to come up with a viable sewing plan that will give me some flexibility and some much needed clothing for the near term. I’ve found that right now, I’m not really in the mood to quilt, and I’ve realized that feeling is what usually drives me to look for another creative outlet, and before I know it, I haven’t touched a sewing machine for months. I don’t want that to happen again, because I firmly feel that every time you pull away from something for an extended period of time, you lose “muscle memory” and your craft suffers for it. I experienced this extensively during my four year hiatus from sewing, from 2007 through 2011, and I still haven’t fully recovered all of my skills, confidence and positive attitude about sewing (by “positive attitude” I mean the idea that I can make just about anything; I was a fearless quilter prior to my break, but I’ve been somewhat paralyzed with the fear of “messing up” a quilt since I returned to the craft). But I digress … Thus the reason for venturing into the land of Garment Sewing, a place where I have feared to tread for most of my sewing career, until recently.

A couple of months ago, I started working on McCall’s 6084 …

McCall's 6084

I’ll post a photo of the finished product and a review soon, but suffice it to say for now that it is one of my absolute favorite garments, and I really do love it. It’s far from perfect, and I want to perfect it, but it’s super comfortable and I wear it often (in fact, I’m wearing it right now). I am planning to make at least one more of these, possibly two, because I think you can never have too many cardigans, and if I buy fabric on sale, it’s way cheaper than buying a ready-made cardigan. And, I can make them in whatever colors I want, instead of being stuck with the colors the stores carry, which for plus size is most often either boring black or some garish color I couldn’t possibly pull off. Don’t get me wrong – I love black, and it’s a great basic. But seriously, how many black cardigans can one girl have?

Next on my radar screen is another version of Butterick B5215, in a smaller size, of course. You might remember that I made this t-shirt a few weeks ago, and it turned out to be much bigger than I really wanted it to be. I have traced off the smaller size and I’m gearing up to make it again. I really want to perfect this one, because I want a simple, good t-shirt pattern. Again, the current colors in the stores for tees just do not flatter me at all. When I was out looking for tees a couple of weeks ago, I found purple (which is fine), hot pink, pee green, some bright yellow color, and a bunch of pastels. I don’t do pastels as a general rule, and the other colors look terrible on me. Heck, I can’t even find a basic WHITE tee! And for some reason, most t-shirts these days are made out of fabric you could read a newspaper through, if you could actually find a newspaper to read. That might be fine for some teen or 20-something, but I prefer a little more coverage – I guess I must be getting old, but I want a t-shirt that’s actually thick enough to not see my bra through!

Another pattern I’m going to make is McCall’s M6802, which is another cardigan.

McCall's 6802

I like the style of this, and I hope it translates well to the larger sizes. I have it almost completely traced off – I’m just missing one piece and it will be done. I have a very soft rayon jersey knit I want to use for this, in camel. I think it’s going to be fabulous.

I also have a Butterick pattern I picked up recently – B5300 – it’s a nice basic blouse. I picked it up recently when I saw someone on Pattern Review talking about it, and I fell in love with it. Fortunately, someone else tipped me off that it was discontinued, so I managed to snag the very last copy of it that my local Joann’s had in their drawer. I have a polyester poplin (I thought poplin was a cotton type material, and I have confirmed that with a couple of other sewists, but … whatever) in both Ivory and Navy to make this one …

B5300

And finally, I need some new casual/comfy pants to wear around the house, so I have M4261 in queue …

M4261

I may also try the long sleeve tee and the jacket as well, but I haven’t decided  yet.

Of course, all these ideas are just that – ideas. I reserve the right to change how, when, or why the garments are made. ;-) My luck, and as slowly as I sew, this little bit might take me through the end of the year to get done, but I really hope it doesn’t!

Do you like Green Eggs and Ham?

As a very small kid, Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss was my absolute favorite book. I still have a lot of nostalgia when it comes to the book, and when we had a baby shower for my daughter in May, I included the book as the greeting card in the package. A package including a a Dr. Seuss Cat in the Hat quilt  I made. So, yeah … I’ve always liked Dr. Seuss, but Green Eggs and Ham was always my favorite. So when I saw the Green Eggs and Ham fabric that was put out a couple of years ago by Robert Kaufman, I didn’t even have to think about whether or not I wanted it. I just bought it without even really thinking about it. When I posted the photo of the fabric on Facebook, my former co-worker and old friend Julie decided she had to have it, too, and she ordered a quilt to be made for her brother for Christmas. She was a little late picking it up, but she finally did get it, just before Christmas. I didn’t want to post final photos of it until she had it in her hands, so now I feel comfortable showing you what the finished product looks like.

Green Eggs & Ham Quilt, Completed

Green Eggs & Ham Quilt, Completed

I really could not be happier with the way it turned out, and as I was working on it, this became one of my favorite quilts. Most of the fabric is from the Kaufman collection, but the solid fabric is a Kona cotton and I think it really makes the panels pop. Julie wanted the fabric I used in the border to be the primary fabric, but I didn’t want it to be too busy, so I used it in the border, obviously, and the backing …

The back of the Green Eggs & Ham quilt

The back of the Green Eggs & Ham quilt

 

Yep, I had to piece a little bit in there because I didn’t have quite enough fabric, but I was ok with that, and hopefully Julie was, too. At the time, this was the “most quilted” quilt I’ve ever done. I used star patterns I bought from Embroidery Library to quilt it. There are different stars along the border and the sashing than there is in the panels, but I didn’t get a close up of those.

Stars were used for quilting

Stars were used for quilting

 

You can sort of see them here …

More stars!

More stars!

I’m not going to lie – it was REALLY hard to let this one go. I was so happy with it, I really wanted to keep it for myself. Of course, I didn’t … but I wanted to!

Butterick B5215 – A Pattern Review … of sorts

This weekend, I managed to do something I haven’t ever done – I started and completed a garment! Sure, it was a t-shirt, but it was made by ME, and I got it done in just two days. I am totally psyched. I chose Butterick B5215, view B …

Butterick B5215

This is supposed to be a semi-fitted t-shirt. And I am very proud of the t-shirt I made, even though it’s way too big …

Butterick B5215 Black

 

When I tried it on after it was done, it was more of a tunic than a t-shirt, and I couldn’t figure out why. This isn’t the first t-shirt I’ve made from this pattern – I’ve also made view A, fitted, and view C, unfitted. View A fits perfectly, even though my tummy really isn’t cut out for a fitted tee, so to speak. It was the first one I made, so I thought, “Well, maybe view C will look better.” I was expecting a tee along the lines of a unisex t-shirt, sort of boxy and not all that flattering. I was looking for just a standard t-shirt. It was huge. I felt like I needed to put on leg warmers and start dancing to “What a feeling.” It just hung off of me. I was so disgusted with it, I didn’t even finish the neck binding (more on that in a bit). It’s still sitting in a plastic project box, propping open the guest bedroom door.

So when I finished view B and put it on, and it looks like it should have been labeled “tunic” instead of tee, I thought something was wrong with the pattern. So I went off to PatternReview.com to look for  reviews on this pattern. I knew there would be some, because it’s a very popular t-shirt over there. And sure enough, it looks like a t-shirt on everyone else. I couldn’t figure it out. Then when I was cleaning up and putting away the pattern, I happened to glance at the back of the pattern and I realized what I’d done. I made a 2XL, because that’s often the size t-shirt I need in ready to wear (RTW) just to fit over my chest. But in this particular pattern, a 2XL is the equivalent of a 26W-28W RTW! That’s why the shirt doesn’t fit. In this pattern, I need to make an XXL, which is what I did with view A. I think most people can see why that was confusing. I didn’t even realize that there was an XXL on the multi-sized pattern. I thought it was a XL. I suspect that’s also what happened with view C. So if you make this pattern, be really careful about the sizing, particularly if you wear a size 18W through 24W in RTW.

But still, the pattern went together pretty well. The only thing I don’t like about it – and that has killed my efforts every. single. time. I’ve made it, is the neck binding. On view A, I gave up and just folded the raw edge in and stitched it down. It isn’t great, but it’s ok. I can, at least, wear the shirt outside of the house. On view C, as I said earlier, I gave up on it, but I might pull it out and try to finish it a different way just to say it’s done. And on view B, this shirt, I followed the directions on the pattern exactly. It looks stretched out to me, floppy and too heavy. So I’m definitely going to find a better way to finish the neck on this one. My mom gave me a couple of tips, and I found a couple of tips on the internet that I’m going to try next time.

And even though this shirt is way too big, it is super comfortable, except for that floppy-ish neckline. So I’m probably going to wear it as a tunic. Surprisingly, there isn’t that much difference in the sizing in the shoulders between the XXL and the 2XL, so it’s a little big there but not horrible. I could put a belt on (if I wore belts, which I don’t) and it would be really cute with jeans.

If I had to grade the pattern, I’d give it a B-. The weird sizing thing aside, the problems with the neckline are just annoying. But despite the fact I’ve made this shirt three times and so far none of them have turned out perfect, I just cannot make myself give up. I’m going to give view B (and maybe view C) another chance sometime really soon. I mean, once I get this one right, who wouldn’t want custom-made t-shirts?!

Almost Ashamed

Wow. This has been a very unproductive year for me in the sewing realm! I feel as if I should turn in my sewing badge and walk home and unplug my machines. This is just completely unacceptable, and I have to do better.

There isn’t anything to review for 2014, really. I made the Green Eggs & Ham quilt, which I have yet to post finished photos of, but that’s because the owner only just picked it up on Saturday. I finished a quilt for my daughter, which also hasn’t been posted because it’s a Christmas gift, so I’ll put that one up on Christmas day. I made a shirt – again, no photos, so I need to do that. And a cardigan, but it hasn’t been hemmed, so I need to finish it. The baby quilt for my grandson, that was finished, thank goodness, because COME ON! How many unfinished projects can a girl have?  Umm … well, probably more than you can imagine and more than I want to count.

I did manage to get the Snoopy/Marilyn quilt completed. I think Sarah liked it, so that’s one that’s done and loved.

Wow. Four quilts and one garment completed. That’s just ridiculous.

I’ve started a quilting journal, where I can track projects that I finish, as well as those that are in various stages of construction, projects I want to do, and the time I spend on each one. I know that seems sort of weird for a hobby, but I think that keeping track of such things will give me a better idea of how I’m spending my time, and whether or not I’m actually making progress. I mean, at last count I had something like 10 or 12 projects that are in various stages – from completed quilt tops all the way down to a few pieces I’ve cut out. I know that for some, just working on the hobby is enough to make them happy, but I get my greatest joy from actually completing a project. And I’m not sure what the purpose is of doing something but never finishing it.

So, even though I’ve said in the past that my plans usually go to hell in no time, I feel like a plan is required to take back control of my sewing time and productivity. I’m not going to set specific deadlines on myself, but I am going to make a list of all the projects I have and their current state in my quilting journal. I’ll set up pages in the journal for each project to track progress, reasons why I’m not working on it (don’t like it, need some component I’m missing, etc), and what I’m planning or using to complete the project – this one is big, because I have a tendency to forget things like threads I’m using or want to use, designs for quilting patterns, and things like that.

I’m instituting a 30 minute a day sewing period. I’ve talked about it before and I did it for a while, and it worked out great; that’s how I finished my daughter’s quilt. But then I let it fall by the wayside, and I need to take control again. I’ve set up a place in my quilting journal where I can mark off the days that I actually accomplish this task, and I like marking things off lists. :-D

I have to make 2015 a more productive year if only because I hate seeing all my wonderful investments in machines, fabrics and threads sit around waiting for me to return.

This is going to be painful …

I have a great job, and I’m very happy and thankful to have it. Particularly right now, when my company is laying off thousands of people around the globe, I’ve got no complaints at all. But today I found out that after more than three years of working mostly at home, I’m going to need to be back in the office, it looks like probably four days a week if not the full five. That’s not SO bad, because you know, people and socializing and stuff. But when I heard the news, my heart sank a little bit because I was picturing my closet. You know, a closet with very few clothes for career wear, because over the last few years I haven’t really needed much, and so when my already older clothing wore out, I didn’t really think about replacing it because who needs a bunch of slacks & dressy blouses when they’re in the office once, maybe twice a week?

Good strategy, huh?

So I went up to my closet and took stock. Two pairs of slacks, a few blouses (that I’ve worn so often, I feel like they’re second skins), a single pair of work-type shoes. Ummm …. yeah. Great.

Since I need to start going back to the office most days of the week on MONDAY, I knew I wouldn’t be able to really make any clothing before I needed them. So I headed out to pick up a few things, and I’ll admit, I got some good deals – a couple pair of slacks, a few shirts and a cardigan for $160. But they’re so … generic. So … boring. So … lacking in style. But you know, at least it keeps me from going to work sans clothing. I hear they frown on that in the office these days.

I’m a plus size, and I’m not much of a garment sewist, but I’ve got to make an effort to make myself some clothes, because everything I saw today was just … eh. You know that feeling? You walk in to a store and you see some clothes and they’re ok, but nothing special, and you don’t hate them but you don’t love them. Eh. I haven’t worn skirts in ages because … well, because I’m not a thin girl, and … chub rub and all that, but I’m thinking that a couple skirts might be fairly simple and fast to turn out because I’m NOT a fast garment sewist. I can whip up a queen size quilt top in a day and a half, but a garment of any type? We’re talking a week, at least. Maybe longer, if I’m just not feeling it.

Frankly, I’m not terribly worried about fitting right now. I’m more concerned about construction and making sure I can actually put it together without too much hassle. Sure, fitting is important, but so is a garment I can wear. As I go along, I’m sure I’ll start working on fit more, but for now, it’s about garments that I can wear that don’t look terrible. I don’t care that others might judge me for that; they don’t have to agree with me. But I’m pretty sure that four pairs of slacks and eight tops will get pretty boring in short order, and I don’t really want to pay more money for clothes that are just … eh.

This is going to be painful, but in the long run, it will be worth it. Right?

Right???

At least, I hope it’s worth it …

The best laid plans of mice and men …

And apparently, women who sew. I really don’t know why I make plans when it comes to sewing, because the reality is, I never live up to those plans. Life gets in the way, or I get sick (as I am now, with a cold), or I just get sidetracked.

I didn’t get my cardigan finished in September; it still needs to be hemmed, and hemmed it will be – eventually. Instead, I got busy with the Green Eggs and Ham quilt, getting it quilted and starting the binding. I have one side bound, and almost all the quilting done, but once I was finished with all the “planned” quilting, I spread out the quilt and took a look at it and realized that it needs more quilting. There isn’t much that really needs to be done, but I do intend to do it and finish binding the quilt. It was my plan to do that this week, and then both Chris and Travis got sick on Monday, with different ailments, if you can believe it. I was feeling pretty smug about the fact that I wasn’t sick and then yesterday I got hit with a very light version of Chris’s stomach bug, and this morning I woke up with Travis’s cold. So I guess the last laugh is on me. Ha. Ha. Ha. But I digress.

I really need to finish up the quilt, because I need to get it to Julie, and I have other things I want to get done before the holidays. Namely, I have a wall hanging I’m supposed to do for Christmas Eve, a challenge that my mom presented me with last year. I know she’s been working on hers, but while I’ve given mine some thought, I haven’t actually started on it. She’s totally gonna kick my ass in this challenge, I can feel it already. And of course, I want to hem the cardigan. And I have about 12 quilts in various stages of production that I would like to finish, not to mention a couple I would love to start. So yeah … I have a list of things to do.

But every time I make a specific plan about what I want to accomplish and when, it doesn’t get done. I don’t know if it’s the inner rebel in me, or if I am just so disorganized or if I simply waste too much time, but I don’t seem to be able to focus enough energy on sewing and quilting in the average week to finish the things I want to do. I’m not sure why this is the case, because for years, I spent a LOT of time quilting each week, every night after work when the kids went to bed, and on weekends. I think I’ve learned my lesson, and I’m not going to set specific goals for finishing things or getting things done anymore. I have a different plan now.

Instead of setting goals of finishing this, or making that, I’m going to just set a goal to sew for a while every day. Right now, my goal is to spend at least 15 minutes each day sewing. That doesn’t mean that I’ll spend 15 minutes looking at patterns online, or reading Pattern Review, or that I’ll spend 15 minutes looking at fabric to decide what I want to make out of it. That’s 15 minutes laying out a pattern to be cut out, or 15 minutes of actual sewing at the machine. Or even 15 minutes cutting thread off a quilt project (I have several threads that need to be trimmed off Green Eggs).  Nope, not that either. I can do that while I’m watching tv with Chris. I want this 15 minutes to be in the pursuit of actually making something.

In a week or two, depending on how the 15 minutes a day goes, I’ll up my goal to 30 minutes a day. My ultimate goal will be at least an hour a day of sewing, with the option to do more as time permits. There will be days I spend an hour sewing, a few where I get in 30 minutes, and hopefully some where I can get several hours in during a session. I will be keeping track of my sewing time, because how else will I know if I’m making progress toward my goal? The main thing is to sew more often.

And with that, I guess it’s time to get upstairs and see what I can get done today. Hopefully, I can get more than 15 minutes in, but if I don’t, I’ll be happy to actually get just the 15 minutes.

Happy sewing, everyone!

The Weekend Approaches

And trust me, I’m counting the minutes until it arrives! No real plans, but I’m sure I will find something to do. And if I know me, I’m pretty sure it’s going to involve fabric.

Speaking of fabric, I finally finished my button down shirt. It was actually done on the first day of this month, so I’m not counting it as my challenge garment, but it is done. There were some problems, as I posted about before, but overall I’m pretty happy with it – definitely happy enough to wear it outside of the house. No photos yet, but I’ll try to get some this weekend and post them. I have also made good progress on my cardigan, despite some issues with trying to put the shoulder seams together. All that’s left on it is to hem it and it’s good to go. I’m hoping to get that done this weekend as well. It would have been done by now but I’m running short of thread, so I’ve been procrastinating about going to buy some more. I’ve learned from the experience that in the future, I will only buy the large spools of thread, not the smaller ones. It’s really amazing how fast the thread runs out!

As I was procrastinating on the hemming this week, I was also considering what I want to make next. That’s when I realized that I really don’t have a plan for my sewing and … I think I need one. I don’t want to make a ton of clothing right now, because I’m losing weight. At the very least, I want to make a few items that I can wear as I lose several pounds, so nothing too form fitting or fitted. I can probably alter items as I lose weight, but they can be altered only so far. With that in mind, I’ve come up with the following plan …

2 pairs of neutral colored slacks, with waistbands and zipper closures and belt loops

2 loose fitting cardigans in navy blue and red (I think)

3 fitted t-shirts (although I said nothing fitted earlier, I do believe that fitted tees are fine, because if they are looser as I lose weight, I doubt anyone will notice overmuch)

2 work blouses

2 bras

3 pairs of panties

1 jacket/coat

Obviously, it’s going to take me some time to get all that sewn up, and I will likely not work on it continuously, so the list may change slightly. And this doesn’t include the list of stuff for others in the family – I owe my son a hoodie and I want to try making some boxer briefs for my husband. But I really would like to make all of the things on the above list over time because I think it’s going to give me some great experience and a wonderful wardrobe. And now that I have a plan, I’m even more excited to get started on my next garment!

While I’ve been working on my garment making plans, I’ve also been working on the Green Eggs & Ham quilt for Julie. Currently, I’m doing the embroidery on it that will act as the quilting, and I have to admit that I love this quilt a little more every time I look at it. It’s going to be hard to let this one go, so I am going to have to make myself one after all! I mean, really … what child of the 60’s or 70’s wouldn’t LOVE this quilt?

Green Eggs & Ham, getting quilted!

Green Eggs & Ham, getting quilted!