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!

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!

August Recap

In August, I decided I would challenge myself to make one garment a month, and though the challenge isn’t to start until this month (September), I came very close to having a garment done in August. I think I would have had it done, or at least close, if not for a problem I ran in to last night. I was serging the side and underarm seams last night and … I don’t know, my serger just went nuts. It was working beautifully and then all of a sudden, threads started to break and I broke a needle (NO clue how THAT happened). And now, I’m concerned that my shirt may be completely ruined. 😦  I had already re-threaded the machine like half a dozen times before the needle broke, and I’m not even sure where the broken part went (to be fair, I haven’t looked for it yet either). So today, I’ll get back in the studio, try to fix the machine and then try to salvage my shirt. I’m going to be VERY unhappy if my shirt is ruined because of this. It really makes me want to not use the serger anymore. /sigh

But, onward and upward. Today, whether I get the serger fixed or not, I’m going to finish cutting out my cardigan, and hopefully get it put together. The pattern instructions say that it can be made in an hour (ha. ha. hahahahahahahaha!), but not being a strong sewist, I’m pretty sure it will take me longer.

Other projects I have planned for future sewing include a coat for myself, a hoodie for my son, several t-shirts for me, and an attempt at a t-shirt for my husband. He’s a pretty big guy, so making a t-shirt for him will be a challenge, but I’m willing to try. Also, I bought some beautiful navy blue ponte knit this weekend that I want to use to make either some slacks for work, or maybe even a dress.

I also dyed a piece of fabric the other day using an ice-dye method that I just loved. It was so freakin’ easy … I’ll post some photos and directions on the process soon (my very first tutorial, perhaps?). This was a test piece to find out how it worked, and to prepare fabric for my first ever landscape quilt. I’ve always wanted to do one but never have had the confidence to jump in. Well, I guess something broke loose because now it’s pretty high on the priority list to just try it out.

In other news, there may be some decorating posts from me in the not too distant future, as I have decided on a new theme for my living area. I’m currently in the paint testing stage, and I’ve got my color chosen. Chris says it’s not a color at all, because it’s far too light to see a difference in it and the primer currently on the walls. I have decided to go with an off white or cream color for the living area because I don’t want to have to repaint again in a few years because I am tired of the color. This way, I can change themes and colors and decor without having to change the walls too. I really despise painting, so why not make it as easy as possible to avoid doing it again for as long as possible? I mean, I paint my walls a color and then in a couple of years, I’m tired of that color. The only color I currently have in my house that I don’t hate is a very light grey in the front room. It is so light, in fact, most people don’t realize it’s grey; they all think it’s an off white!

Well, I’m off to try to salvage the shirt now; wish me luck!