The Apron

img_4939

I met Jerri at a show in the fall. She was working for a vendor at one of the high school FFA shows I did, and she was interested in getting some embroidery done for Christmas gifts. So, I did an apron and chef’s hat for her middle granddaughter, and bags for all three of her granddaughters. I also did some bags for her daughter and daughters in law, and when I delivered them a week or two before Christmas, she asked if I could do an apron for one of her daughters in law. I said I would be delighted.

It hasn’t exactly been a delight …

I used See & Sew pattern B5125, and the pattern states, “YES! It’s EASY” so like a sucker, I fell for that. And honestly, it SHOULD be easy, but the directions were sort of stupid. The part about attaching the flounce was fine, but the binding around the neck and arms? Stupid. The directions made it appear as though a raw edge would be the product of constructing this area, which was ludicrous, and it wasn’t reflected in the photograph on the pattern envelope. Being a quilter, I decided to do it more or less the same way I bind a quilt, though I had already cut the pattern pieces out and felt obliged to use them. I could explain how I managed this, but suffice it to say, it sucked. Next time I decide to make a pattern like this, I will instead cut and make wide bias tape and use it to bind the appropriate area.

I had originally hoped to have the apron done in three days, but that didn’t happen because of the problems I had with the binding. I spent a lot of time, and tried a lot of options, before I landed on one that I thought would be the best way to finish this particular piece, and I’m fairly happy with the way it turned out, though next time I’ll be better prepared and have a solid game plan. I ran in to further problems with the pocket, which was not part of the original apron View A. I took the pocket from View B, and cut out two of them. On one, I monogrammed it as the customer requested, and then I sewed the two together to make the pocket appear to be lined. Overall, I’m pretty happy with the apron, even though it took far longer than I expected, due to design issues, the holidays and my daughter landing in the hospital for several days. At any rate, the apron is on its way to it’s new owner, and I am on to the next project … more on that on Wednesday.

It needs to be said …

I agree with Tim Gunn. Recently, he commented on women’s fashion and how designers need to step up to the plate and start designing clothing for women who aren’t a size 2. He said that the average American woman these days is a size 16 to 18, but really there is no one trying to design clothing for these women. And that’s crazy, considering that women in the “plus size” range spend more money on clothing than their thinner counterparts!

You can watch his comments here.

As you probably know, I fall in to the “plus size” category. Depending on the clothing and where they come from, I may wear an 18 – 24 in tops and a 20-24 in bottoms. That alone should give us some pause – there is a FOUR SIZE differential in my shirts and a THREE SIZE differential in bottoms! Even at my absolute thinnest, I’m a size 10, not a size 2 or 4. Anything below a size 10 and I start to look anorexic (no joke; it’s really pitiful looking). Granted, as it is right now, I need to lose weight – there’s absolutely NO denying that. And I’ve been working on doing just that. But I couldn’t agree with Tim Gunn more. Designers need to stop ignoring a third of the population (and more than half of women) and step up their game.

Thing is – and this would really piss off designers – I don’t think they know HOW to design for a woman who isn’t a size 2. I don’t think that most of these designers have what it takes to design clothing for real women instead of the imaginary women that are in their heads. I’m not in to body shaming, and I don’t want this post to turn in to that, But if we can be honest for just one moment – how many women do you see on the street that look like a runway model? On an average day, do  you see women who look like they can wear a 00 jeans? I’m not saying they don’t exist, and I’m not saying that every woman who can wear a very small size is anorexic. Some women are just naturally very small, and kudos to them. But why can’t fashion designers accept, if not embrace, the attitude of Viva la Difference? Why must they insist on cutting off their sizing at size 10 (and a lot of them do just that)? 
A while back, I saw an advertisement for clothing that trumpeted the arrival of “plus size” clothing at a boutique. The “plus size” in question was a size 12. SIZE 12!!! The last time I wore a size 12 was before I got pregnant with my daughter, and trust me, I looked good. I looked so good, I was practically beating men off with a stick (ok, maybe not all the time, but sometimes that was true). No one accused me of being fat or plus sized back then. I had curves. But I still had trouble finding clothing that fit well even back then. If it was big enough for my hips, my waist just swam. If it was big enough for my boobs, it hung off me elsewhere.
I know that the days of custom fit clothing are in the past for most of us, but wouldn’t it be nice to walk in to a store and be able to find clothing that at least got close? Now that my biggest fitting issue isn’t, “Will the buttons gape at my breast apex?” I find that clothing shopping is depressing. Clothing for women who are larger than a size 12 looks terrible. It’s not stylish, it’s not flattering. It’s depressing, drab and disgusting.
Tim Gunn said that designers say they don’t like making clothes for plus size women because it’s too hard, and one woman who’s a size 16 is different from another size 16 woman. My response to that is, DUH! You can’t tell me for one moment that all size sixes are the same. It’s a cop out, and it’s ridiculous. No two women of the same size are exactly alike, regardless of what size that might be, so why do we accept such stupid, insulting comments from designers?
I don’t really have an answer to how to fix this problem, but I see more and more women learning to sew so that they can fit their bodies.  So maybe that IS the answer – we have to start voting with our dollars, and stop spending money in places that aren’t willing to stock a wider range of sizes.

This Studio!

Most of the time, I love my studio. It is my happy place, my escape, my wonderful corner of the world. Well, it used to be all those things. These days, it’s more like a dumping grounds for anything business related. And I have to tell you that I’m more than a little sick of it. I lost my design wall to bookcases for storage of soap related items. We dump everything in there when we come back from shows because a) we cannot get into the garage right now; b) it’s right at the front door; and c) where the heck else are we going to put it?! At least some of this will be alleviated if we can ever get the garage door fixed (it broke in like, I don’t know … March?), but until then …  I’ve added a couple more bookcases to hold stuff for business, one of which is still in my studio, but hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. And until I’m making enough from the business to move to a store front, this is my life.

But I’m doing my level best to get it cleaned up this week, because I have this overwhelming desire to SEW. I want to finish the Star Wars quilt, and I want to make myself some clothes, and it would be nice to get started on some holiday items. I feel like I’m drowning in work and school right now, and I NEED the release sewing provides, but right now, this is what I’m dealing with at my sewing cabinet …

I'm embarrassed to even share this, but here it is, in all its glory.

I’m embarrassed to even share this, but here it is, in all its glory.

That’s probably the worst of it, but I also have this cedar chest that my parents gave me when I graduated high school that’s sitting right in front of my cutting table, waiting to go upstairs. However, I can’t take it up there just yet because there’s an old tv stand where the chest is going to go. But I can’t clean that up because … oh, let’s not even get into how bad my master bedroom is right now. Let’s just say that it’s a good thing I’m not planning to move any time soon, because I assure you … it would not be happening this year!

Anyway, in between making soap, cleaning and trying to keep up with this insane tax course I’m taking at school, I’m making a list of things I want to make myself for the Fall. So far, this is what I have on the list …

B5300 McCall's 6084 B6070

Also, this new McCall’s pattern looks super easy and fast to make …

McCall's 7432

McCall’s 7432

I would maybe be interested in something from Simplicity, but how would I know, considering how horrible their new website is?! Someone should tell them to fix it (oh wait, I HAVE).

I’m also interested in some skirts – I hear the hemlines are going to be longer this Fall – and some pants. I haven’t worn dresses or skirts in many years, but lately I’ve been wearing some skorts I purchased and I LOVE them. I love how cool they are, and how comfortable they are. And since it rarely gets that cold here in the Houston area, I figure I can get decent wear out of a couple of dresses and skirts pretty much all year long.

So, that is my goal – clean up the studio so I can maybe try to recapture some of my sanity. It works like that, right? Right?? Oh, please tell me I’m right! 😉

Butterick B5300 Step 1

Tape measure

I was in a small business seminar all day on Saturday, but all I could think about on the way home was getting a start on my muslin of Butterick B5300. After chatting with Chris for a while about our day, I got him to agree to help me take some measurements that I could use to compare to the pattern. After checking the pattern, I found that the only measurements included on the envelope are bust, waist, hips and bicep. So I pulled out the tape measure and grabbed a pen and paper, and we got started. I will be checking the back length on the muslin, because I am long-waisted and I was a bit irritated that the back length wasn’t included on the pattern envelope; this is often a place where I need to make adjustments, so I will be keeping an eye on it throughout the fitting process.

I started with my upper bust, because I have read that one can achieve better fit results if they use the upper bust measurement instead of the full bust measurement to choose a pattern like a blouse or dress. According to my upper bust measurement, I was in the 18-20 range. Next, we took my full bust measurement, more to determine what sort of full bust adjustment (FBA) I might need, then we took the waist, hips and right bicep. My hip and bicep measurements gave me the 22-24 size range, but the waist was more like a 28 range. My suspicion is that if I use the 28 through the waist, it might be a little bit too big, but I’m going to go ahead when I trace the pattern and use the 18-20 in the shoulders, then taper out to the largest size as I move down to my waist. I’ll leave it at the larger size for the hips as well. I have a feeling that the silhouette that will be created by this will make me look like I’m wearing a maternity blouse, and that it might be too large, but I’m going to try it and see. The reason why I have doubts is that I followed the pattern measurements for Butterick B6070 through the waist and it’s quite large.

What all of this really tells me is that I need to lose weight, but I already knew that.

What it also says is that pattern companies, much like ready to wear designers, don’t take into account trouble spots and try to help camouflage or otherwise attempt to draw attention away from them. To combat the too-large stomach area, I’ll need to come up with something that will draw the eye upward toward the neckline.

I’d like to see a silhouette more like a loose-fitting t-shirt through the waistline, because I like my fit to be a little closer to the body than what most blouse patterns seem to be these days. So if I don’t like the way this looks, that might be my next modification – to bring the waist and hips closer to my body, but not so close it’s uncomfortable when I sit.

By Monday afternoon, I hope to have the pattern drawn off and ready to lay out on some muslin. We’ll see where it goes from there.

I may be a nerd

But at least I’m an organized nerd.

IMG_1306

With three machines, all different brands, I had to come up with a way to keep up with the feet, bits and pieces for each one of them. So I went to the sporting goods store to find something, and I came up with these boxes. They are shallow, which is perfect for machine feet, screws, and other small pieces. Right now, I’m using Plano series 3600 & 3700 stowaway boxes, and I have to say that I prefer the larger 3700 series for this purpose. Eventually, I’ll switch all of the machines over to the bigger box size, but right now only the Pfaff Creative 4.5 accessories are stored in the 3700.

In other news, I will be starting a new project on Monday. I am going to start the muslin process for this blouse. B5300

My plan is to combine the bodice from view C with the sleeves from view A. I would like it to be slightly fitted, but my primary concern is making sure it fits through the bust apex and the stomach. I have a stomach that’s too large, and it’s a bit of a challenge to find blouses that fit both my upper chest and my stomach and avoiding the gaping apex. I don’t do a lot of shopping because … well, I actually hate shopping for clothing; it’s never been one of my favorite things to do. But I did make a swing through Macy’s women’s department, and noticed that the big color this year is coral. And denim seems to be big, too, but right now I’m focused on the coral thing. I will need to hunt up some coral colored fabric, but I have some time, and I’m not sure that I even want to make this particular top in coral, but I digress. What I really need right now is a good white button down blouse, which seems to be impossible to find.

I will be utilizing Nancy Zieman’s book, Pattern Fitting with Confidence to help me make the adjustments to my pattern. I may also be referring to the Craftsy course , Fitting Solo by Linda Lee. I found it to be very informative when I watched it but I haven’t had a chance to use the knowledge I gained from the course. Fortunately for me, both of these sources follow very similar processes.

I will post photos and information on my progress next week. 😀

Better late than never

On New Year’s Eve, I posted about making weekly goals that I want to accomplish. While I didn’t accomplish much on that list, I did manage to do a fair amount of sewing during the week. I am happy to be able to report that the binding for the fleece jacket is 3/4 done. I am hoping to get it finished by tomorrow night; I would be working on it right now, but there is a wicked western sun coming through the window right where I would be sitting to sew, so I’m waiting for it to go down. Clearly, I need to replace the non-functional Venetian blinds at that window with something that actually works.

In other news, this followed me home last Tuesday …

My new toy, which somehow managed to just follow me home ...

My new toy, which somehow managed to just follow me home …

It wasn’t in the plan to buy a new machine; I had stopped by to take a look at what they had to offer, because the one year anniversary of my Viking Opal 690Q purchase is approaching, and I had until that date to trade it in and get the full purchase price credited toward another new machine, at MSRP. Now, I’ve been watching the machines since I bought the Opal, and let me tell you that it’s not always the best idea to trade in a machine against MSRP, because many times, new machines are marked down more than the amount the trade would give you. And that would have been no different with this machine. In fact, I got an outstanding deal on this machine, paying about half MSRP. It was a machine used at the Houston Quilt Show back in November for classes, but this machine had almost no time on it. It came with the small embroidery unit, which is still a very generous 10″ x 6″-ish size. Down the road, I might just upgrade to the large unit, which has an embroidery area bigger than 14″ square.

This is the machine I’ve been using the do the binding on the fleece jacket, and I will say that I’m thoroughly impressed with the IDT on this machine. Attaching the binding has been a much easier process than I was anticipating on the other two machines I have, and I am very happy with this purchase. But I have to tell you, that really wasn’t the case when I first brought it home. In fact, I wasn’t sure what I was doing the whole time I was making the purchase. When I got it home, I let it sit in the middle of the studio for a while before I unpacked it. Then I let it sit on the table for a few days before I used it. Oh, I ran a couple of sample lines of stitching on a scrap piece of fabric to be sure it would at least do that, but I didn’t actually use it until Friday. And from that first line of stitching, I knew that I would love this machine. But until then, I was pretty much freaking out, which is why very little was done on my list last week – I just couldn’t keep my mind on anything but trying to figure out what I’d do if this machine turned out to be a mistake (my dealer doesn’t allow returns). I’m very happy to report that it isn’t a mistake. Yay!

I will do a full review of this machine once I’ve had it for a while and used it, but right now I will say that I foresee this being my go-to machine for difficult fabrics. The IDT is making the fleece a breeze, so I imagine it will have similar results on other difficult fabrics. The Opal didn’t do so hot on the fleece; the Brother did fine, but the Pfaff just sang. I can’t wait to really put this machine through it’s paces and see what she can do!

Stay tuned … 🙂

Weekend Quilting

After my last post about the lack of completions I had in 2015, I set right to work to make sure I don’t have that same end to 2016. I really am quite serious about improving my skills and my completions this year, both in quilting and garment sewing. If I have the time, I might add in some home decor as well, but for now, I need to get some quilts finished. I realized earlier today that if I were to finish every one of the quilts I have that are at least partially completed this year, I would have Christmas gifts for just about everyone I would need a gift for in 2016. That’s really sort of sad when you think about it, but I’m determined to turn it in to a positive.

Anyway, I got right to work on Fatquartershop.com’s Wishes quilt from 2014. I know, I know, it’s a little late. But I had nine of the twelve blocks completed, so I figured it was as good a place as any to start, and I think it’s going to be a really pretty quilt when it’s done. Here is my block …

Block 10 of Wishes Quilt - Idaho Beauty

Block 10 of Wishes Quilt – Idaho Beauty

If I were to do it again, I would use at least one yellow-based fabric. When I was selecting fabrics for this block, originally that was my intention. But when looking at the fabrics together, this selection was more pleasing to the eye. However, once it was all together, I could see that it lacked contrast. Also, before anyone mentions it, yes, some of my points were cut off. I don’t really know how that happened, because everything measures out correctly, but here we are – cut off points. By the time I discovered it, I wasn’t going to take it all apart to figure out why the points were cut off, and as Leah Day has said many times, done is better than perfect. And since my goal this year is Done … well, at least this block is just that.

One dark moment in this otherwise happy accomplishment – I used Mary Ellen’s Best Press for the first time ever on this block. I picked it up at Joann’s because it was on sale, and I’d read rave reviews about it. I thought that with all the points and intersecting seams, the Best Press might be just what I needed to keep the seams as flat as possible. Unfortunately, I experienced some yellowing on the white fabric.

Discoloration due to use of Mary Ellen's Best Press

Discoloration due to use of Mary Ellen’s Best Press

I am really hoping that when I wash the final quilt, this discoloration will come out. If it doesn’t, I’m going to be one very unhappy quilter.

Now that this block is done, I have plans to get my fleece jacket completed today. I played around with embroidering some designs on the binding, but I decided against it in the end. I am just not adept enough at putting designs together in a long, continuous line, but it’s given me something else I need to work on. Instead, I went back to the fabric store and purchased more Kona black cotton fabric to do the binding. Even though it will be plain, at least it will be done, and I can try something a little more fancy next time. The fabric is in the dryer now, so hopefully I can get this one completed today.

Once that’s done, I think I will do the last two blocks in the Wishes quilt. When I bought the black fabric for the fleece jacket, I also bought some fabric for the sashing on this quilt. I am going a different way, and it’s a bit of a leap of faith, but I’m excited to see how it turns out, so this quilt might be moving to the front burner.

Have a wonderful Sunday doing what you love best!