Category Archives: sewing

More gardening and sewing

We picked up a pair of planters for the porch. One of the planters is overflowing with strawberries, and I’m looking forward to enjoying a few of the hanging fruits. I think it’s amazing that plants will grow with just a little encouragement, and who knows, maybe I’ll get to experience the joys of being a locavore.

The bitter melon seeds (ampalaya) my mom sent me from the Philippines have germinated (and to think I’d given up on those seeds!), and seven or eight of them are working on putting out their first leaves. When they grow a bit bigger, we’ll move them near the fence. We’ll probably have to put in some cold-weather protection towards the end of the growing season, but it’ll be worth a try. I was pleasantly surprised to find bitter melon seeds at a local supermarket, actually. Might not be a bad source in the future.

W- helped me make a duct tape dress form, whom I have named Matilda. Oddly enough, it seems to be a common name for dress forms. ;) I made a quarter-circle skirt (thank you, high-school geometry teacher!) with a bold black/white/red print, which I’ve hung on Matilda so that I can hem the skirt tomorrow. I thought about adding fancy details like a yoke, but I figured I’d keep it simple for starters.

It’s interesting exploring these non-computer things… =)

Sewing, or on soldiering on

It’s amazing what a difference a hemline makes.

I hand-basted most of the hem so that I could ease it to lie flat. I ran out of thread three-fourths of the way through. I really wanted to sew it already, so I didn’t bother with the remaining quarter. After I trimmed the excess material, I hemmed it with my sewing machine, and I put it on.

And I’m happy with it!

Maybe it’s just that I’ve had more time to get used to the idea of the dress. It’s blue (not one of my usual colors) and has a somewhat dropped waist (not one of my usual silhouettes). My seams are still crooked, and I haven’t yet bothered to put the hook-and-eye above the zipper.

But it’s a dress, and it’s mine. =)

I tied the ribbon around my waist and dashed upstairs to show W- and J- before W- tucked J- into bed. Both of them cheered as I twirled around. I had told J- the pot story after dinner, and it was–well–fitting that I follow it up with an unexpectedly happy twist. I had been prepared for the possibility that this was going to be Just One Of Those Attempts (like the gray wool jumper I have to figure out how to tweak), but the dress actually makes me smile.

Must be the exceedingly cheerful glittery butterfly print. ;)

Pictures tomorrow or Sunday. I’ll ask W- to take them when there’s light out.

ANYWAY, on to the next dress, which will be my first experiment with borders…

I’ve been thinking about taking classes, but class fees can buy a lot of fabric. =) Maybe I can sit in on some classes to see what they’re like first. Anyway, I’m happy and I’m learning a lot.

On soldiering on: I’ve noticed that if I keep sewing, the project often turns out better than I thought it would be during the process. Red jacket, this dress… Lesson learned: sometimes I just need to keep soldiering on until the big picture reveals itself!

Sewing: Of sewing more dresses and making more pots

After I sewed the zipper on the Vogue 8020 dress I made using the butterfly blue fabric from Fabricland, I checked the fit in the mirror. I was beginning to think that the dropped waistline that hovered about my hip wasn’t the best place to put it. I tried smoothing my crooked seams, but they refused to behave. The more I looked at the dress, the more I noticed all the little things I needed to fix.

Then my happy-do defense mechanism kicked in, and I realized I was letting myself do negative self-talk. I focused on the positives instead. The dress was wearable, the fabric was pretty, and my friends would let me get away with amateur creations. =) It was my first time to make a dress with princess seams or a dropped waist, and I was happy about how the princess seams in the bodice turned out. And the blue ribbon was a nice touch, although other accents might be more practical in a house with two cats.

I told W-, “Sewing is good practice in celebrating the small wins.”

He said, “Everyone starts somewhere.”

I said, “It’s all about throwing more pots.” I started telling him the story. It turned out that he already knew the story. But you might not yet, so here it is:

There’s a story about a pottery teacher who divided the class into two groups. A student in one group would be graded based on the quality of one pot that they turned in at the end of the semester, while a student in the other group would be graded based on the sheer number of all the pots submitted throughout the semester. At the end of the semester, students in the second group–those measured only on quantity–had produced better pots than those who had focused on quality. In the process of creating a large number of pots, the second group had learned from their mistakes, while the first group had been paralyzed by endless theorizing about what a perfect pot would be.

Go ahead. Make mistakes and learn from them.

Here’s pot #4:

V8020 in butterfly blue

I’m going to hem this dress, and then I’m going to practice straight and curved seams on some scrap cloth, and then I’m going to work on that white embroidered-border dress. I’m going to fill my wardrobe with clothes I’ve made. Over time, the quality of those clothes will just get better and better.

Thinking about the next summer dress I’m going to make

I’m trying to decide what to do with this pretty embroidered-border linen I picked up from Fabricland. J- thinks I should make it into a dress.  I think I’ll reuse the princess-seamed V-neck bodice from Vogue 8020, because that actually fits me (hooray!). Instead of continuing the seams into the skirt, I’ll just gather the skirt. I’ll need to either line the dress or wear a camisole and slip.

It’s either that, or try to figure out how to sew two rectangles to each other in a way that makes sense… <laugh>

Making things; Vogue 8020

I’ve been writing a lot about sewing lately, which might surprise you if you came to this blog for tips on Emacs or Drupal. =) It’s the way my life works–I focus on things, but the set of things I focus on evolves over time. I still have lots to write about Drupal, social networking, and virtual assistance, but I have to confess I haven’t been tweaking my .emacs lately! =)

Anyway, sewing. I enjoy picking fabrics and imagining what to do with them, and then convincing the fabric to look like a reasonable facsimile of my intended result. For example, I picked up 5 meters of the adorable blue fabric below (100% cotton; the white flowers are glittery), and I’ve been making a dress following Vogue’s V8020 pattern (also pictured below). I’ve made it with a V neckline instead of a rounded neckline (yay options!), and the only things I need to do to make it wearable are to sew in the zipper and fix the hems.

And then I’ll have a pretty dress to wear at my get-together this Saturday. =) Sure, the seams are a little crooked and puffy, but I made the dress, and I’ll just get better and better with each thing I make.

The fabric’s also available in pink, but I thought that might be too jeune fille. I sound five years old, and I don’t need to look it. Blue takes a bit of that edge off, and the simple, non-frilly lines of the pattern further modify the effect of the print.

New this time: diligently marking all seamlines, making a princess-seamed top whose fit I actually like, making the first dress I like. This will be my first time to use ribbons, too!

Putting together an inspiration board

I asked one of my assistants to track down envelope images for the sewing patterns I have, and to send them all back to me with the pattern number as the filename. Then I created a large image using the free photo-editing program The Gimp, and I opened all the files as layers. Using my ever-so-wonderful Cintiq 12 WX, I moved the pictures around to organize them by type. I circled the patterns that I was happy with and crossed out the ones I tried and didn’t like as much, and then I added some more notes.

The result:
[Harrumph, I’ve lost my original inspiration_board.jpg].

Some patterns are missing, but I can fix that next time. =) Must make room!