Settling the Sewing

Well, that was chaotic! And a bit of a disaster. The Mechanic and I moved into our new apartment, only to discover that it has a fatal flaw: a low, sustained, throbbing noise, apparently from a mechanical closet that backs up to one side of our apartment. It’s like having a very large idling truck right next to your bed. So after we got everything more or less settled, we realized we can’t sleep with that noise, so we swapped bedrooms – now our bed is in the larger bedroom, further from the noise, while our craft equipment is crammed into the smaller room next to the loud noise. I guess when the sewing machine is going, maybe I won’t hear it? I’m not sure what we are going to do but at least we can’t hear it as loudly in the larger bedroom.  : (

Poor little Gaston has had a hard time settling into the new place. I’m not sure how the noise is affecting him, but the other night we woke up to him frantically thumping (a warning or distress noise for rabbits), and came out to find him running around the living room – somehow he busted out of his pen! He goes back and forth between content and unhappy. I’m unhappy at the idea that our noise apartment is bothering him. The low drumming bothers us, how can it not bother him?

I returned from New Orleans to find some fabric orders waiting for me. One was polar fleece for new rabbit blankets, but the other two were exciting. One was the Charley Harper Western Birds quilting cotton I ordered months ago from – this new collection was delayed forever and I was thrilled to learn it was finally shipping. However….. the print is MUCH larger than I was expecting. I was thinking the birds were about an inch, inch and a half, perfect for a small print blouse. But no – they are huge!

Not really blouse fabric. Now what do I do with it?!

The other fabrics I ordered after seeing an Instagram sewing friend make a fabulous dress with one. You know me and florals – I can’t resist them! I ordered this wildflower print rayon from Blackbird Fabrics in both the black and the white. I think I know what I want to make with the black, but the white I will save for next summer.

SO lovely! (spotted in the corner – the polar fleece for bunnies)

All the fall clothing is beginning to appear now, even though we probably have three more months of warm weather. I’m amused to see that several companies have denim shirt dresses prominently displayed.

I like the denim button front dress I made last year but I don’t love it, so I’m considering making another one. Maybe something a bit more bike friendly, ie, with a fuller skirt. Although I did bike to friends’ wedding anniversary cocktail party in my bug-bejeweled Victoria Beckham for Target Little Black Dress last weekend – who needs to drive when going to a party?! (PS – Spanx help more than just sucking in one’s tummy! If one needed to, that is… )

I spotted this blouse in Target:

Love this!

It gives me some flashbacks to my childhood and Laura Ashley and my obsession with the Little House on the Prairie books (NOT the TV show), which I loved. The fabric is fun, the polka dotted piping is fun, and obviously you can see where I’d put reflective piping. I just need to find a pattern for this – anyone know of a close match?

I’m anxious to get back to sewing but the sewing space is barely set up. I decided to use the setting up process as a good time to prioritize stuff, sort out fabric scraps, decided if I really need my paper fashion scrap books, etc. Then I need to register for the “Getting to know your sewing machine” classes at the store where I purchased my new Husqvarna Viking. Although I’ve made several things since I bought it, I’m sure I’ll learn a ton from the classes, so I need to do that. But by then, it will be mid-September. I guess I need to start my fall and winter projects, and put the rest of my summer things away for a while. I think I need to sew faster!

My half of the craft room – same stuff, almost the same floor plan.

UFOs in June

I’m back! Did you have a relaxing Memorial Day weekend? A friend from New York visited and The Mechanic was in Phoenix visiting his friend, so we each got alot of socializing in! My friend and I visited Mount Vernon (by boat from Old Town Alexandria, which I recommend – it was so relaxing!), National Harbor, the Tanger Outlet mall at National Harbor, and the new MGM casino. I’d never been to National Harbor, right across the Potomac in Maryland, and it was so easy to get to from the King Street Metro station – a quick NH2 Metrobus ride across the bridge. We had a blast and shopped perhaps a bit too much. I did fulfill a long-time sartorial goal by purchasing a Diane von Furstenberg dress at Memorial Day weekend sales steal prices. It’s not one of her iconic wrap dresses but it’s pretty amazing and I can’t wait to wear it.

And now it’s June. I have use-or-lose PTO to burn by the end of the month, so I’m going to use up most of it with some mini sewing staycations. All this unexpected time off means I should to focus on finishing up my UFOs – also known as unfinished sewing projects. Technically I only have one UFO, since I already wrapped up a few over the past weekend. I made a quickie tee shirt with the happy floral striped Art Gallery knit, shortened the lining of a skirt that I made too long, and finally added the waistband to my wedding skirt. I still need to redo the waistband on my 1940s inspired trousers, too.

I ended up using the same satin from the train to make the waistband, which actually turned out pretty badly. Thank goodness a much more talented seamstress friend did the zipper and hem! Where will I wear this? Who knows!

My one true UFO is this pair of red chambray pants that I cut out last year. The idea was for them to also be a wearable muslin, but the complicated zipper fly has prevented me from tackling them. And by complicated, I mean more than a one-weekend sewing project. I really need to get these done, but honestly, being lazy with both my diet and with my workouts lately means that I’m not the size I’d like to be for pants. I’d like to put these off a bit more. At least until I’ve gotten my BodyPump gym class groove back and feel a bit less squishy.

Someday, pants, someday….

Other things I need to finish before I jump into new projects include two dresses, pants and a blouse, all of which were supposed to be done by now.

Of course, I have that gorgeous fabric I bought in London, and then I just got this fabulous denim lace from Marcy Tilton….NO!

Focus, focus….

Some of these things should be fairly simple, so hopefully I can have one mad, frantic weekend of knocking those things out quickly. Because I think that denim lace will make a perfect summer work dress, and I need it now!

Time to just grin and bear it, and sew up this stuff before I can move on. Anyone else ever force themselves to get long-neglected UFOs completed? At least wearing my makes encourages me to want to get more done. I wore my new tee shirt and denim skirt with the reflective yoke last Saturday when The Mechanic and I went biking along the C&O Canal. Perfect and inspiring!



…Oh Look, Something Floral!

I am determined to get these pants made before the end of July! My wearable muslin, something that I can use to help perfect the fit of this pattern, and still be able to wear out of the house. I got all the pieces cut out (has anyone ever wondered about the logic in how these tissue paper pieces are folded?!) and…. Simplicity Pants…oh look, something floral!

FloralIt’s terrible. I can’t focus on “basics” because I’m so easily distracted by floral prints.

There I was, innocently ordering white fabric to make simple summer tops, when this lovely floral knit forced its way into my shopping cart. Seriously, I’ve been wanting it *forever* and seeing it made up in Straight Stitch Designs’ Greenwood tank, well, I finally could resist no longer. (By the way, sorry for copying you, Kimberly!)

Now I just need to tape the pieces together and see if I can follow the lines...

Now I just need to tape the pieces together and see if I can follow the lines…

I need another floral print summer top like I need blah blah blah….

I do, however, need a basic white top, so I decided to get a simple white cotton pique and make another V-neck peplum top (I altered the original Very Easy Vogue 8815 top three years ago and prefer the lower neckline), with some reflective piping on the hem of the peplum. Although I’m not a fan of white tops, I need something simple that I can wear with my print pants and skirts, and the pique has a nice bit of texture and body that I think should do well with this top.

Pique Peplum

Pique Peplum

While hunting for appropriate white fabrics, I found this fun geometric eyelet that I think I will make up into a simple drawstring waist tank top. I don’t have a pattern for this, not one that I is exactly what I’m looking for, so I might just make something up. But it rather begs to be a sort of a Victorian camisole, doesn’t it? Well, a modern Victorian, at least!EyeletI’ve been looking for a while for a pattern that is simple enough for what I want, so I’m hoping someone here in the sewing blogesphere will know just the thing. Here are some examples of what I’m looking for:

I have found some patterns that are headed in the right direction, but now that I’ve only ordered 1.5 yards, I don’t want anything too complicated. And you know me, lazy stitcher! I want it to be easy.

So I’m open to suggestions. I am also open to the fact that this could be a winter sewing project for next summer. I do still want to finish my wearable muslin pants!



The Reflective Wear-to-Work Challenge

I was so excited by mountain biking that I forgot all about my most recent two sewing projects! And since they prompted me to challenge myself, I think I need to share all this with you.

First of all, I finished both the satiny pajama pants and the #@$%^% gray silky top I was struggling with. As it turned out, I am very happy with both of them.

Silkie PJ pants with reflective piping down each leg.

Silky PJ pants with reflective piping down each leg.

Blouse reflecting, and in it's Clark Kent state (that is, not reflecting)

Blouse reflecting, and in it’s Clark Kent state (that is, not reflecting)

Wearing the blouse to work!

Wearing the blouse to work!

Now that The Mechanic works a “normal” schedule, it’s easier to get him out the door to take a picture of me in my sewing projects in the morning. This means I can have everything photographed! Although our limited time means you’ll get really tired of the same spot in front of our apartment….

Actually, what prompted my Reflective Work Wear Challenge was the realization that I have actually made quite a few things in the last few years. So I decided to see how many days in a row I could wear something I’ve made. Week One was all four days, and I think I can get through another 2 weeks! It’s of course weather dependent, and although I have other reflective clothing, it’s not stuff I have made, so that doesn’t count either. And much of it will depend on my work schedule – I’m not sure it’s exactly client meeting-friendly. But I’ll see – that’s the point of a challenge, right?!

So this is the outcome of Week One:

You can also see everything else on me and my bike that are reflective!

You can also see everything else on me and my bike that are reflective!

I’ll sum up, in case you can’t tell in the photos. From Top Left: the shoulders on the dress are reflective purple material and are lit up in the photo; the stripes on the edge of the skirt are iron-on reflective grosgrain (available at JoAnn Fabrics); the gray tux stripe is edged with the reflective piping (the red Cole Haan oxfords show up white with the flash on); and the waist and neckline of the blue peplum top are reflective (as are the silver Cole Haan loafers).

I counted two skirts, three dresses, four tops, one blazer (trimmed, not sewn), and two pairs of pants, total, not including the pants I’m starting and the sweatshirt that is the next project. So I can stretch out a while still! One of the tops is a cooler weather sweatshirt, so I hope to get a few cool days in soon to wear it.

I also made myself a reflective sash yesterday, to replace the wonderful reversible obi sash I lost in Sacramento last November. So with that additional accessory, I have at least one more outfit – I have the cutest dress with which it looks great. So I have eight or nine days to go! Stay tuned to see what comes this week. I’ll be interested in feedback, favorite pieces or looks, etc., so take notes!

My new reflective sash. Not reversible and not very wide, but I love the color and the print it's lined with.

My new reflective sash. Not reversible and not very wide, but I love the color and the print it’s lined with.

Sewing Project, Part 1

It’s been several years since I’ve pulled out the sewing machine and the serger, but I’ve publicly sworn to make a bicycling skirt to wear on Bike to Work Day, so I guess I’d better get to it!

Because I believe in bicycle-friendly clothing that can be worn in an office (business casual, not a casual office where everyone wears jeans every day), I’ve thought of several items that can cover both categories. Some of them are highly complicated, and I won’t be tackling any time soon. But a knee-length, half-circle skirt in a subtle print and color, with some coordinated trim that happens to be reflective, seems like an easy place to start.

I mentally designed something, then went to the local JoAnn Fabrics to buy what I needed. Alas, the print I wanted wasn’t in the store, so I bought something else. Fabric, the pattern (Vogue 8295), thread, a zipper, interfacing, and a fourth of the trim I need came to almost $70! That is more than I would pay for a ready-made skirt, and I haven’t even begun to calculate the time it takes me to make it. Today I had to order the rest of the trim, which was another $38 with shipping and tax – yikes! So my $100 (so far) skirt had better be cool when it is done! This is always the problem with sewing – whatever I’ve made frequently does not turn out the way it looks in my head.

I cut out the fabric at work tonight, because the work table in our resource area is the perfect cutting table – tall and wide.  The big boss walked past me on her way out and laughed – “I knew I’d find you here cutting something out one day!” At least she’s supportive!

Stay tuned – I only have a few days to get this skirt made. It seems fairly easy, but I know from experience that “easy” never is. But I really want to wear it on Bike to Work Day, so I have my work cut out for me. Literally.