Saturday, February 24, 2007


[I wrote this yesterday...] Da da, it's my birthday! Da dum, it's my birthday! And my Mum is getting BETter! It's been a tough 6 weeks but things look like they are finally moving in the right direction.
So about my birthday - I've only been thinking about getting a dressmaker's dummy for about 30 years and today I got one.
my new dummy
My Dad is here for the day and since he has a car, we drove to the Fabricland where I wondered if I'd have to order a dummy. But no! Not only did they have lots in stock, they were 40% off just until tomorrow for members only. Woot!
my new dummy
It's not fancy but I am really looking forward to finally using a dummy for more than just fitting. I might even, eventually, sign up for that pattern making class at the college where I teach. It's part of a larger program but they might let me take just the one course.
my new dummy
She's a nice pink colour and she's as small as this size gets - unfortunately, when I get upstairs to the sanctity of my sewing room, I'm going to have to crank open those dials almost all the way for this size. However, I have been going to the gym - it's one of the main things that has helped during Mum's problem - and I have actually lost an entire pound. Yes, I did say "one pound". When I was 20 I weighed 25 pounds less than what I weigh today at age 49. Not horrible and I call it my "survivor fat" - if I fell off a boat tomorrow, I'd be able to live for a while on it - but I'd still like to be a little lankier than I am now. Never mind. Que sera, sera and all that.
my new dummy

Monday, February 12, 2007

2 shirts finished

Where does the time go? Mum is doing better - thanks to all who have commented and sent their prayers. She is awake and starting to show frustration, which is a sign that she wants to get OUT of hospital and we are all cheered by that. But as "What About Bob" said, it's baby steps to the elevator.

In the meantime, I finally made it to the Fabricland for shirt buttons and got enough for both the striped shirt and the camp shirt. I made all the buttonholes on Friday and sewed 17 buttons on Friday night while watching tv. Therefore, I was ready on Saturday morning to wear the striped shirt to visit Mum.
striped shirt
She had bought me the fabric one day when we were both at the store together. In the photo, I am also wearing the very first jean jacket I made from that Vogue pattern I use all the time - it is a lightweight cotton twill. When I got to the hospital, I pulled up my gown (she is in isolation) and flashed her my bright clothes and told her that the shirt was made from the fabric she bought me. She totally reacted and formed a face that went "ooh, ah!" and so I was thrilled (she can't talk due to a tracheotomy).
camp shirt
I only took a photo of the other shirt before I did the buttons but here it is anyway. Now I only have to make three buttonholes on the grey suit jacket and I'm done all those UFOs and can start on something new. DressADay has inspired me to start "sewing with a purpose" or SWAP. The second link is to the page where SWAP is described and the root url of that page is a woman who sells fabric in Nova Scotia. She has a contest and I won't be ready to enter it this year but maybe next year. In any event however, it's all about not just sewing this and then that with no direction. (That's a heckva sentence, sorry.) I have two lengths of twill - one in a mid blue and the other a kelly green - that could form the basis for the two solid colours part of SWAP. And a couple of weeks ago, I was actually inspired to give away about a half dozen skirts I never wear (waistbands too small) and dress pants I'd bought from Sears and now never wear (same problem) so I actually have an inch or so of open space in my closet. I have to do the same with the blouses I have that are polyester and therefore don't work well with my body chemistry. I have to stick to cotton and rayon.

Anyway, I now have to go study project management - I'm taking a course in it at the dame college where I teach. They offered it for cheap to staff but I am finding it interesting and it is possible it could add to my resume. I'm going to do some proper planning for my SWAP but I'm also going to give myself the "out" to sew something else from my stash, just for fun. What was really interesting was that when I went to buy the buttons, I walked around for about 10 minutes with a remnant bolt of some nice 100% cotton for another camp shirt but in the end, I put it back and didn't buy it because it wouldn't necessarily have gone with anything else in my wardrobe. You CAN teach an old dog new tricks!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Continuing with the Camp Shirt

Happily, Mum has started to regain consciousness! We have toe wiggling on command! I'm so looking forward to seeing her this weekend. By then, she'll be way past toes and into eyebrow raising I hope. I thank everybody out there who is wishing her well or praying for her.

In the meantime, I'm making that camp shirt.
front facing
The pattern calls for front facings. I have learned the hard way that if I spend a little time finishing the raw edge, I won't get fraying threads later on after I wash it. I iron on the interfacing and then iron down the free edge. Next, I sew it down with a zigzag stitch.
facing edges
Sometimes, I use a straight stitch but the zigzag looked okay on this busy print. I know no one sees the inside or wrong side of one of my shirts but me, but still, I like the inside finishing to look nice.
pocket placement
You can't see them in the photo but I marked the four corners of where the pocket goes with blue chalk. Then I put pins in so I'll be able to see the dots on the outside or right side when I turn over the left front piece. In the photo, I haven't ironed down the dart yet either.
pocket piece
Next, I take a piece of uncut fabric and line up the stripes with the front piece where the pocket is going to go. Then I put the pocket pattern piece on the fabric so it lines up (vertically) with the pocket markings. I usually cut out the pocket piece with pinking shears so I don't have to otherwise finish the raw edges once they are folded to the inside. Check out a store-bought man's shirt and you will see that the raw edges of the pocket are not finished either.
pocket prelim
With the pocket itself, first I iron over a little fold of the top raw edge and sew it down. Then I sew the top, right sides together as the instructions indicate, along the sides at the top and turn it right side out.
pocket corners
Then I iron down the top and continue down the sides and across the bottom, to make the pocket look finished. At this point, I also sew down the top fold so that you see one line of stitching on the right side. There are two lines of stitching on the inside of the pocket top because I have already sewed down the little fold. It's over-kill I know but I tell you, my pockets never come apart! :)
pocket corner
Once I have the folds all ironed, I unfold the bottom corners and turn them into mitered corners. Again, who cares? But I do because I think it makes them neater.
pocket outside
There's that darned yellow cast to the photos again. I think that happens when the flash doesn't go off. Anyway, when it came time for me to place the pocket on the front for sewing, that's when I noticed that, as cleverly as I had lined up the stripes vertically, I had neglected to notice the horizontal pattern! And the pocket therefore doesn't match the shirt front exactly. I could have just made another pocket. But I didn't. And so I decided to rationalize that I like it better this way, where the pocket doesn't entirely disappear into the shirt front. And the reason I did that was because I didn't notice the horizontal issue until after I had sewed the pocket to the shirt. sigh.