My next project – my wardrobe

When I was a kid, my mother made nearly all my clothing, except for jeans and undergarments. I remember falling asleep to the sound of her sewing machine nearly every night, while she made something for one of us to wear. But I have never really been a fashion sewist. Until now.

Why would a woman start sewing garments for herself when she is nearly 45? Well for one thing, I really miss the unique clothing I had growing up. No one else had anything like I wore, and while back then I wasn’t very appreciative of being different, these days I am ready to embrace something that isn’t off the rack. Secondly, I’m not the easiest person to fit – my measurements are not really “normal” I guess. Even when I was much smaller, I wasn’t really a size 8 or 10 or 12. My size depended on the cut, the fabric, the designer … Nothing has changed in the last 20 years. I’m still not one size all over. And finally, I hate today’s fashions. Either they are made for girls, not women, or they are made for senior citizens, not younger middle aged women. Apparently, designers think women only come in “Hollywood starlet” or “Driving Miss Daisy” … When I do manage to find a style I like, the fabrics are horrible. Or the price is ridiculous. Or more often, the construction is crap. I’m sorry, but nothing annoys me more than having to sew up seams that didn’t get caught when the garment was constructed – and it happens far more often than you’d think.

All of these complaints have led me to one conclusion – I must start sewing my own clothing and stop worrying about whether or not it will be perfect. As time goes on, my technique will improve. Heck, I’m investing in two, yes two, new sewing machines this year (maybe three, if I can talk Chris into a new serger), so it’s definitely time to put them to use for more than just quilting. Hey, quilting is and always will be my first sewing love, but I hear there’s this thing about running around town naked, and how that’s frowned upon. And I don’t want anyone to burn out their retinas because they saw me sans clothing!

My first projects are going to be easy, simple garments that will likely be useful during spring and summer months, since winter is nearly over here in Houston. I’ve not had more than three pairs of shorts at a time, and all of current ones at least five years old, in ages. So that’s my first thing – some simple shorts for the upcoming Houston hell … err, summer (I’ve been told it only feels like hell). I’ll post pattern reviews, and comments, and maybe even some cries for help. But mostly, I’m going to sew. Some of my posts here may not be more than just pictures. Some of them might be $*(@&%()* … I do have a temper, you know. But I hope you’ll join me for this adventure, because I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a heck of an adventure. 🙂

February has been crazy!

After posting a record breaking (for me) 11 times in January, I just disappeared, didn’t I? I’m sorry about that. Things got crazy busy for me – I spent last week in London for work, which meant that the week before I spent getting ready to go. But I’m back now and I’m here to tell you about what’s happening on other fronts for me!

First of all, I’ve taken to baking our own bread. It’s light, it’s fluffy, it’s so darn good, I can’t imagine why I didn’t start doing this sooner. Actually, I DO know – I could never find the right sandwich loaf, but I finally found it, and it is awesome. The recipe is from King Arthur’s flour, and it is by far the best loaf of bread I’ve ever baked – and I’ve baked many! You can find the recipe here … I highly recommend it. I double the recipe (don’t add any more yeast, but increase the salt by half) and it turns out wonderful every time.

The second development is that I’ve been looking at sewing machines and have just about decided on the Pfaff Creative Performance. Of course, if someone else has a rockin’ deal on a wide throat machine when I get ready to buy next month, that might change. But I’m loving the CP right now like you wouldn’t believe. It does quilting in the hoop, it’s an embroidery machine and it has a standard 9mm stitch width. You can also buy the embroidery unit separate from the machine, so the purchase can be broken into two separate transactions. My current plan is to buy the embroidery unit with the machine, but it’s nice to know that if my finances won’t allow that, I can save up the money for the embroidery unit while still enjoying the machine. I don’t mind telling you the fact that this machine is purple doesn’t hurt either! 😉

And the third thing is … with the idea of spending so much money on a sewing machine, I have decided it’s time to expand my sewing horizons into fashion and home decor. I have done some fashion sewing in the past – mostly for the kids when they were small, and all of it extremely easy. What I haven’t ever tried before – but seriously something I need to master – is a zipper. So, I have decided that I need some sewing classes, either online or in person. I signed up this week for my very first sewing class – Sewing Studio through Craftsy. I got a great deal because I signed up during a promotional special for President’s Day – I think I paid only $15 for the class. Don’t worry if you’re interested though, they run specials fairly often. Just sign up for their newsletter and you can get notifications on reduced prices all the time. Once I got enrolled in the class,  I found out there’s a book that is needed, called S.E.W. Sew Everything Workshop. I was lucky and found it at my local Barnes & Noble, but you can order it through Craftsy, Amazon or a number of other booksellers. I know that people were complaining about needing to buy the book, but my feeling is, you can never have too many reference books, and it does offer 10 patterns that can be altered to fit even plus size (the author is great; she was offering to help folks alter the pattern in the class!). So far I’ve only watched the first two lessons on making the envelope pillow, and tonight I plan to actually try my hand at it. I will pull some fabric from my stash (I have a few 16″ pillow forms, so I think I can get away with using a fat quarter), and I keep muslin (for the back) on hand all the time. The first two lessons have already taught me things I didn’t know – like how to make a french seam. That lesson will be very useful now that I don’t have a serger (I sold it last summer, like an idiot).

When I have my pillow completed, I’ll post a photo! Oh, and after I bake some bread this afternoon, I’ll post a photo of that too. 😉

Domestically yours,

Jill