Friday, April 30, 2010

Simplicity Pattern 4273

One of my dogs had to undergo eye surgery on Wednesday for an ulcer on her cornea. Normally an outside dog, she is confined to the kitchen for two weeks. To get her used to being in the house and get the healing started, my husband and I will be taking off work for the next week to tend to her. I decided to use this opportunity to sew. Since I have several events scheduled over the summer and absolutely nothing to wear, I thought the four days that I am home would be a good time to try some of the patterns that I have accumulated over the years. I began with Simplicity pattern 4273.

Now the biggest problem that I have had sewing for myself is fitting patterns. Twenty years ago when we first moved to Texas, I was a perfect pattern size 10. All fitting required was shortening the length. A year or so ago, I was a perfect size 12 (and still am with knit patterns). Again, all I did to make clothes fit was shorten the length. Now, well I am bigger than a 12. Size 14 in Simplicity pattern 4273 fit perfectly. I have to say, I was not happy about the size change, but my measurements speak for themselves, and if I want to make wearable clothing not rag bag donations, I have to get over it and sew the size that fits. So that is what I am doing.

The second thing that I hate about sewing is trialing the pattern in muslin. For some reason, that seems like such a waste of time and fabric. I began this session by using old knit material that I have had for years. If the pattern does not work, I am not really out anything since this was fairly inexpensive material to begin with. Also, if the pattern fits, I have a sample that is useful rather than useless.

I began with the blouse option. For me, the center front needed some adjustment so the top did not look so baggy and my cleavage not so apparent. I took in 1/2", which on the subsequent dress that I made was a perfect adjustment. The dress was a lengthened version of the top, and I used a lilac single knit that I have had for years. I like to press my creations as I go, so when I am finished sewing, I could put the outfit on and walk out the door. So, by the time I was ready to hem, I know if the fit is right, and I get a feel if I would really wear the outfit or not. This one is a keeper!!

Sewing time was a couple of hours each, due to my pressing and seam finishes. In the top, I stitched the seam, then stitched again 1/4" from the first stitching and trimmed off the excess. I chose this option, though it is one a seldom use, because the fabric did not ravel or run. Since the color is a hot pink, I did not have enough thread to use the serger, and in the past I have serged the seams with gray thread, I really don't like that look in a top. With the dress, I did use the serger, because the wrong side was light, nearly white in color and white thread was already in the serger.

I have not decided if I will make the jacket or not. I have a pink linen look that would be beautiful with the lavendar dress. However, the material is very limited, and I am not sure if my pattern would fit what I have. I could leave off the pockets since I don't use jacket pockets anyway, but I am not convinced if this is the best use of my material. I will wait and think on it. No real rush at this time.

I love the tulip skirt in this pattern, but have not tried it yet. When I do, I want to make something that would go with my hot pink top.

I will add pictures later. I took some with my phone, but don't have the USB connector with me to allow me to download them. Will have to wait until Monday when I go back to work to make the transfer.

I am tempted to make another dress, but I really don't wear dresses much. I think another top would be a better use of my time and provide me with a new addition to my work assortment. I do think that I will copy the front and back pieces to interfacing that I can use as pattern pieces. This way, I have separate blouse and dress pattern pieces and don't have to keep cutting them apart then re-taping.

Well, time to get back to sewing.

The vet did call to check on Trixie this morning, and I did take her back to his office for a re-check. Unfortunately, she lost the contact lens that was placed as a protection for the surgical site and had to undergo more surgery. He reassures me that she is doing fine, and I will be picking her up after 4. I know that I probably sound crazy worrying so much about a 9-year-old dog, but she and her sister have become our kids since our own children have grown and moved on. Besides, she has been my loyal friend all these years--always happy to see me and never comments about my weight or any other topic that I am sensitive about. (She doesn't care if my pattern is a 14.) I know that these are the latter years of her life, and my husband and I are as devoted to her care now as when she was young. We can't help every dog out there, but we sure can give a good home to the ones that we do have.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

So many patterns; so little time.

OK, so I got up early this morning and decided that I would get a jump on my new wardrobe. First, though I had to mop the kitchen floor because the little dots that develop overnight when we are asleep were driving me crazy! I have thoroughly convinced myself that the garden gnome comes in during the night and drips gnome juice all over my floor, because when I ask my husband what happened and who made the floor so dirty, it isn't him. Now, I have a habit of losing things, but I am far from forgetful. Drips on the floor I would definitely remember. So, it has to be the garden gnome. Maybe he conspires with the two dogs . . . .

After the floor was mopped, I cooked dinner. Tried a new recipe for pulled chicken cooked in the pressure cooker. The pressure cooker is my new found love. I just had to have one two years ago and fortunately had a coupon to Linens and Things (before they went out of business). I purchased the thing on sale and with a coupon!! (Woo! Hoo!) but was afraid to use it. I remember horror stories from my grandma about women who were horribly burned with the thing exploded. Worse yet, they ended up cleaning chicken off the ceiling for months! So I could not get the courage to cook with the lid on--though I did use it as a large saucepan, which is really silly because that makes it the most expensive saucepan in my kitchen--possibly the entire neighborhood. Anyway, thanks to my wonderful friend, Janice, who cured me of my fears over the phone. Now, I use it religiously and love the way I can make a major meal in an hour or less.

Once dinner was cooked, it was time to walk. Sunday has been designated as my Big Walk day, so I headed out for a 5 mile walk through the neighborhood. Today has been a beautiful day with puffy white clouds in an endless blue sky. My walk would have been perfect if there were curbside bathrooms in residential areas. I scurried home with my knees locked together, refusing to sneeze for fear of a flood of epic proportions. Thank goodness, I made it home and the first bathroom is just on the other side of the garage door. My architect was a genius!

Walking made me sweaty, so a quick shower was in order. Unfortunately, the warm water on tired muscles resulted in delusions for napping. To quiet the urge, I stretched out on the bed and talked on the phone for an hour. I must admit, though, I do feel energized and ready to go.

So my dilemma: what do I want to sew? I have a trip coming up in June that I need new clothes for and would love to wear items that I have made. I sit here and look at the pattern stash and become overwhelmed. I have such cute possibilites to choose from. Maybe I should start with the fabric that I want to use and work backward to an appropriate pattern.

My fabric stash is almost as bad as my pattern stash. I have leopard silky, Hawaiian print, cotton, knit, camouflage, spandex, denim, and suiting. OK, back to what do I need?

Graduation is in 3 weeks, and I have a summer dress that will work fine. I need to purchase shoes (the satin pink slippers with the rhinestone flower that I bought to go with the dress is just a bit over the top for such a serious occasion), but that can wait until next weekend when I am getting my hair cut and styled, too. So, nothing to sew for graduation.

That brings me back to two places: work and the pending trip. I have a gorgeous cotton knit that would make a lovely summer tank top-style dress. I cannot remember when I washed this fabric. I think I did that in the fall when I was going to make long sleeved t-shirts. Just to be sure, I will run the fabric through the washer first.

OK, choice is made. Off to wash and cut out I go. Isn't sewing fun?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

My Blog

Well, here I am, blogging. I have toyed with the idea for some time. Now, I have decided to take the leap. I wanted to share some of the joys (and frustrations) that I experience from sewing. I found several other blogs online and enjoyed their musings, that I wanted to become part of the process, too. So here I am, blogging.

I began sewing when I was 8 years old. My grandmother, who never purchased a pattern in her life, taught me to sew on an old Singer sewing machine. I remember to this day my first project: a blue cotton dress with set-in sleeves. The first time I wore it, the right sleeve came loose. When I got home, I realized that I had basted but forgot to sew the sleeve a second time. Even though I had a slightly embarrassing moment, I was hooked to sewing. Thus began the many adventures and misadventures that I have had in more than 40 years behind the wheel.

When my children were small, I did my most sewing. I made all their clothes from birth through high school. Last month when my youngest daughter came home for a visit, she pulled out all the old prom and Band Banquet dresses and tried them on. She was thrilled that they still fit. We laughed about all the stories connected with each dress. If was a fabulous mother-daughter bonding time that would never have occurred if I did not sew.

Now, I am in a new phase of my life. In a few weeks I will graduate with my master's degree and begin a new phase in my life. In this future professional capacity, I will need to dress differently. I have decided to sew my new wardrobe and share this experience with anyone who may be interested. I don't know if I will be successful or not, but I am willing to try. One fact is certain, I have a closet full of fabric that must be used.

With those details in place, let the sewing begin!