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! 😉

Advertisements

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.

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!

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?!

My Personal Challenge

As I posted last time, one of my goals is to get better at making clothing. I still don’t have the revised pattern piece, but I did email them again this morning to ask about it and to point out that there is also not a notch for one side of the sleeve. I’m about to pack it all up and take it to my Mom’s to see if she can help me get it finished. I’m not happy about this because I was really hoping to have it finished by now!

Anyway, back to my original reason for posting. My goal is to get better at making clothing, both for myself and my husband. So I’m setting myself a challenge – one new garment completed each month from September until the end of 2015. I hope to complete more than one a month, but right now, that’s my goal. One garment each month. It doesn’t have to be for me, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. But it does need to be completed by the last day of the month. 

My garment for September will be a semi-fitted t-shirt for myself. I made the fitted version of Butterick B5215 back in the spring, and at first thought it didn’t fit well and that there were problems with the neck line (there ARE problems with the neck line, but I’ll save that story for another time). Well, it does fit very well, it’s really comfortable and I can conquer the issues with the neck line. In fact, once I put the shirt on the right way, the neck was perfectly fine. I’m going to try the semi-fitted version of the same pattern, and I’ll be starting it this weekend (and hopefully finishing it, too, which means my challenge will start in August, not September). I have plans to make either four or five of these shirts for myself, so it might be a couple months of t-shirt sewing in various colors. I will do a post on the fitted version as soon as I can get a photo of myself wearing it, and share my struggles with the neck at that time. 

Another thing I’m seriously considering doing is to take a fitting class with Craftsy, because I want to learn how to draft my own patterns, and I think proper fit is the first step in that process, not to mention that even when my measurements are the same as the information on the pattern envelopes, I don’t always get a good fit. I have found that in some cases, I could have made at least a full size smaller than the envelope indicated. I think learning how to get a good fit is also important when one starts to branch off into independent the pattern maker’s offerings, not because they aren’t as good as the Big 4 (Simplicity, McCall’s, Butterick and Vogue), but because I can pick up the Big 4 on sale sometimes for as little as $1 each, and the independents cost about $16 on average for a pattern. I’ve been a little wary of indie patterns because a lot of them are downloads, where you print them out on regular paper and then tape them all together. I’m not interested in yet another step in trying to make a garment – I want to pull the pattern out of an envelope, trace it off and GO. I would never use a pattern that I taped together to make a garment, so that would mean I would have to print it out, tape it together and then trace it. No thanks … I’m not that interested in anything an indie has come out with to go through all those steps. Heck, for that, I can learn to draft or modify patterns myself, which is why I’m considering the Craftsy class.

At any rate, my sewing plans this weekend are to maybe finish my button down shirt, if revised pattern pieces come from Butterick, and if not, I’ll start work on a t-shirt. I’d like to make a tee that I then put some embroidery on, but I’m going to make this first one to check for proper fit first. Then, if it works out like I think it will, I will make another one to embroider on. 🙂

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Frustration Abounds!

One of my goals is to improve my garment sewing capabilities. I would probably rate myself as an intermediate quilter, but my sewing skills can best be described as … intermediate beginner? Is that even a term? I can sew a set in sleeve, but I’ve never done buttonholes till recently. I’ve never done a zipper. But I can make a pair of pants or shorts with elastic in the waist in about 30 minutes. Then again, who wants nothing but elastic waisted garments?

So, in an effort to step up my game, I’m making a serious effort to make myself some clothing. And in that spirit, I went to Hancock Fabrics with my mom and I chose Butterick B6070. It’s a very cute, allegedly simple button down shirt. See?

Butterick B6070

Butterick B6070

Now, I’m not exactly a small girl – that’s one of the reasons why I want to improve my sewing skills. Clothing for plus size often looks like a tent – it’s shapeless and the fabrics are more often than not just terrible. But that’s a post for another day. I chose this pattern because it was graded – or scaled to size – for plus size and I thought it could be a good basic top. It has a hidden placket, which I thought would further expand my skills, a collar with a collar band, and buttons. It’s really cute, isn’t it?

Things were going along swimmingly, and I was really enjoying the process of making the top. I traced off my pattern in my size, cut it out, pinned it to fabric that I got from my mom (I’m not sure if it’s considered “vintage” but it was bought before I graduated high school in 1986!), and cut it out. I was careful to mark all the notches and dots and everything. It was going great – until I got to the collar and collar band. I called my mom for advice, because I’ve never done one before, and she walked me through how to do it. And I got started on it, but I never got any further than sewing the collar pieces to each other and turning them right side out. You see, there are no NOTCHES on the collar to match to the collar band. The instruction sheet very clearly says to match the notches and other markings, but they don’t exist. 

So I got on the internet (the trusty internet, where I can find almost anything) and I sent an email to Butterick and explained the problem. I did neglect to mention I was using the plus size pattern, so when the reply came back that the notches were definitely on the pattern and I must have just missed them, I went up to my studio and took photos of the pattern pieces in question and emailed them back. The girl apologized and said she would have the pattern piece regraded and sent to me. That was yesterday. It’s been more than 24 hours and I’ve not heard back from them. But I figured, you know, they’re probably busy, and I don’t HAVE to put the collar in before I do the sleeves, because I wasn’t really following the instructions anyway. When it comes to sleeves and side seams, I never do them like the pattern says, because I think it’s a stupid way to do set-in sleeves. I did learn SOMETHING from my mom, after all. LOL

So today, after work, I went back up to my studio and started to inset the sleeve. Only guess what’s missing … a NOTCH!! Now I’m a little perturbed, because they have missed at least two notches that I know of … though, hopefully, there aren’t any more missing, because there really aren’t many pattern pieces left. But seriously, TWO sets of notches missing on a single pattern?? You can bet I’m not happy. I can set a sleeve, no problem, but with no notches? Well … Maybe I can do it, but it won’t be easy. 

And so, that’s why my frustration is out of control tonight. I am SO CLOSE to having this shirt done. I’ve got to put in the collar, put in the sleeves and put on the buttons. Hem it, and it’s done. But I can’t do any of that right now because the NOTCHES ARE MISSING!!

Sorry for yelling, but seriously … what does Butterick have against transferring all of the notches to the plus size patterns?