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The skull fabric is from Britex in San Francisco
Hello again!

  It's been a while since I posted, but I have not been completely idle.  Getting through that winter was indeed rough, though!  I left off with the knit attempt, where I was making a chevron pieced shirt out of striped fabric.  Although I loved the design on paper, as it came together, I liked it less and less.  Ever happen to you?  I meticulously lined up each stripe, which did come out great, but in the end, it just looked over designed, and perhaps costumey.  I learned a good deal about the importance of basting, as well as which basting glue works the best (I like the "Glue Stick" style, made for fabrics.  Easy to apply and sticks great!)  So with the ideas of "meticulous" and NOT "costumey", I went for a more simple and elegant approach with my next project: a skirt.

I used a tried and true ("TAT", if you're down with sewing lingo!) skirt pattern (don't recall the exact name/number, will get it soon!) I bought some muted green suiting fabric from Habermans, and used brown piping for accents in the seams.  It's a fairly straight forward patterns, simple, and I've done it twice before, but for some reason it took 3 months to finish.  So two days ago, I gritted my teeth and got it done!  My sticking point is always zippers.  No matter how many pins, basting, stich witchery, etc. I use, somehow it always comes out wonky.  Especially if there's a facing piece in there.  The pattern calls for the fabric and facing to be treated like one fabric, and folded and attached to the zipper, but I wanted it to look "cleaner", so I tucked it between.  Not sure if it's cleaner but at least it works!  There's a joke in IT which I enjoy, it's a play off the DOS XXXs commercial, with the "most interesting man".  It reads "I don't always test my code, but when I do, I do it in production".  So true for me, with code, and with sewing projects!  I wore the skirt yesterday to work, and didn't notice until I went to the restroom that the zipper in back wasn't as long as I thought it was, and there was about two inches of basting stiches between the bottom of the zipper and the actual seam that held the back closed.  Needless to say, there was a slight wardrobe malfunction!  I don't think anyone noticed, but will have to add some more stiches and release a rev 2.00 before it goes out again.  Also, I meant to blind hem the bottom, but was desperate to finish, so I just did a regular seam.  There's the unsightly ridge on the bottom now, might fold that under one more time and blind stich it as well.

Other side projects: More blankets!  Kids really love the heavy minky blankets I had made, but with summer, I needed to find some lighter weight versions (Munchkins huddling in heavy winter blankets when it's 90 degrees is quite a sight!)  JoAnns to the rescue, I found some Princess and Super Hero lightweight minkys.  One yard for Ian and 1.5 for Alex, then each folded in half, came to the perfect size for both.  For the blanket binding, I found that measuring and sewing the corners first worked and looked better than the sew-as-you-go corners.  Have firm pressure on both sides of the fabric from the needle also made it feed better.

Coming up:  Quick alteration project, I got an Old Navy dress during their $15 dollar dress sale.  It's black and white striped knit, and is just a little too short.  It's also a tank dress, and I would need to wear a sweater over it to wear to work.  So, I'm going to attempt to add some color blocking elements by adding a 2 inch strip of red fabric to the shoulder strips to flush out the shoulders, and about 4 inches to the bottom.  I'm going to put the new fabric below the dress fabric, and then sew along the seam line already in the dress.  Hopefully that will make it look "layered", and the stich lines won't show.  Fingers crossed!

Push the Envelope: Last year the Novi Sewing Expo had a contest - they sent the participants three sewing notions that they had to incorporate into a project, no limits.  We had a month to complete it, and last year we received 3 spools of thread and a 7 inch chunky red zipper.  Last year I made a skirt (same pattern as the one I just finished!) with layered fabric on the edges (rolled hemmed each with the puffy thread they sent) that gradually increased in size on the way down.  The center panel was a crazy pink swirly pattern, that I tried to embroider with pink thread they sent.  I drafted some front pockets, and separated the zipper and used it as piping around the edges of the pocket.  It was a lot of look with all the colors, but I loved it!  It didn't win the contest, but they did choose it (amongst others) to go on tour across the country so the sponsors could use it to showcase uses for their products.  Cool!  This year we're doing it again, the theme is "pockets".  We haven't gotten our materials yet, but should be in any day.  Due date is August 1st.  I plan to make a pocketed wall hanging that you can put kid's artwork/school papers in.  (Fridge is getting crowded!)  Each pocket will be 12" by 12", so that portrait or landscape papers will fit, and will have clear vinyl for the front.  For a background, a piece of scrapbook paper will fit perfectly, and that way you can change the border easily.  The hanging will be 3 squares by 2 squares (just over 2' by 3')  I planned to do it more landscape than portrait, but might change my mind.  Will make one edge, either top or side, extra long to write the kids names (embroider with satin stitch).  Hopefully they give us good stuff to make this happen!

Afterwards - I'm still hooked on knits, I'd like to try to get back into that.  My coverlock machine is getting dusty!  I'd like to try a twin needle on my new Brother sewing machine as well, too, see if that's decent on knits. 

Also, as a general thing, I'd love to find a grommet setter that actually makes clean set grommets.  Every one I've tried, be it hammer and setter, or the pliers, bends the heck out of the grommet and looks terrible.  I love the look of grommets (or any hardware for that matter!) so I'd really love to be able to incorporate them more.  I'm hoping there's a magical solution at the Sewing Expo this year.  If I get impatient, I'll go on-line, but might be tricky if I can't get a live demo.  Any ideas are most welcome, too!

Back to the Grind...

   Well, Christmas is over and we all somehow managed to get through it in one piece.  I got many good projects completed, but had to scale back a few things to meet all the holiday deadlines that always sneak up.  The "Alex" Bag came out great, the roller foot really did the trick.  Pictures are coming!  The stitching got a little wonky where the fabric was extra thick.  I tried to treat the industrial grade vinyl as if it was regular fabric, and the top  double-fold binding was 4 or more layers thick in most spots.  Single-fold, next time!  The leather/jean needle did do the trick, though, and even with all the heavy punishment, it never broke.  I also used binder clips to hold the vinyl pieces together, which worked great.  Word of caution, they do leave a little indent in the vinyl, especially when there's a lot of layers, so try to keep them in the seam allowances.  For the lining, I found some fun Hawaiian print that I got in Florida a few years back, and I think it complemented the look quite well.  Definitely "Girly"!  She's only used it a few times so far, but I think it's durability has really shown itself already. 
  I did actually get to make two out of the four round pillows as well.  I went for a mitered look, which came out ok.  I tried fabric glue stick to try to line the stripes up, which did work pretty well.  I did one with and without, and the one with I had an easier time construction.  It did leave a little residue on the fabric, but didn't destroy or gum up the needle, so a little wash should take care of it.  I had a hard time with the very middle alignment, I'm guessing it's a fairly common thing, and is why people tend to put a button in the middle (to cover it up!)  Next time, I'll try to place a wider strip in the center, and make sure the first stripe to line up is at least an inch from center, that should help. 
  Napkins - bah, who needs em?  (ie.  didn't have enough time to finish!) 
Oh, that right, I did make a blanket for Ian.  Pretty simple, but I did use to layers of minky fabric, which made putting the blanket binding on a really chore.  The fabric was so think and slippery, the binding want to shift, and I couldn't get the stitching to catch both sides just right.  I have this problem a lot, and would love if someone could share some tips or tricks!  I didn't get a chance to do any vests, but I found a Black Friday sale at Carters: Vest for kids - $5 each!  So I braved the hustle and bustle and got the kids as many as I could get in their sizes.  Whew!

  On to NEW things!

  So, as promised, I'm back into knits.  I made a mock up of the long sleeve t-shirt (Burda 1234) with some augments to fit my size.  Tapered the hips out, and the waist in a bit.  The underarms aren't perfect, they stuck out a bit, not sure if that's the pattern, or if it's because I serged the side seams and sleeve seam in one line, and the demarcation got a lost a bit.  Will try to machine sew that little corner next time, see if it brings it in better.  Also had to lengthen it about 2 inches.  All in all I was happy with the pattern.  So, not I'm working on a "real" shirt.  Taking inspiration from the Xmas pillows, I'm going to try to do stripes again, and hope like crazy they line up!  I have a blue/tan/black striped fabric from JoAnn, polyester blend.  Stripes are bout 1 inch wide.  I've taken my dear sweet time designing it and planning where each stripe will match on each piece, and I plan to try basting them together before stitching/serging.  Still not sure what to do for the neck band.  Solid black?  A band that perpendicular to the stripes?  Two-piece bias band, mitered in the front center?  Cowl?  I'll finish the shirt and reassess, see how crazy (or not) the stripes are before deciding. 

  Not sure exactly where to go after this shirt.  A few ideas:
1.) Go through the mountain of old clothes I've stashed see if there's something I could upcycle using this pattern.
2.) Another shirt with some different design elements.  Stripes in different places, draping, godets, gathers, etc.
3.) Skirts?  Maybe will wait until it's closer to Spring, otherwise might just be wishful thinking!