I’m finally starting to feel settled in New Jersey. I’ve been on the job for three weeks; we finally have a sofa and storage pieces; I have become familiar with the bus and train systems of New Jersey (sort of…Newark Penn Station is confusing still, with all the different places that have similar names where passengers need to wait for the bus). Last weekend, I felt settled enough to do something just for me—take a sewing lesson.
I decided to work on pants in this lesson. I’d tried fitting these Vogue trousers before, in a different sewing class in SC, but I then gained a lot of weight, which made all the fitting moot. The lesson I had last weekend was at the New York Sewing Center, located in the Garment District. The instructor was awesome. She was patient and didn’t talk to me like I was a kid (an issue I have had in other sewing classes in other cities). I made a huge amount of progress in two hours, getting the pockets, inseams, and side seams sewn. I plan on sewing the crotch and attaching the waistband before going back to work on fitting. I suspect I need more room for my butt, less of a curve on the hips, and less length overall, due to me being a shorty. I’m really looking forward to my next lesson!
I sewed New Look 6053 again. This time, I used a fabric from my stash–an African wax print that I bought in a fabric warehouse somewhere in San Francisco last summer. Since I am in the process of moving, I did not have the chance to take modeled photos for the blog; those will come later. (Edited to add a photo of the skirt on me. Photo was taken quickly by my husband, so please excuse the slipper socks and stuff in the background!)
I believe I sewed a size 18, although I probably should have gone down to a 16, due to losing weight. I used yellow ready-made bias binding to finish the edges of the facing, and I understitched the facing to help keep it in place. I used dark blue ready-made bias binding to finish the hem. This was much faster than easing in the hem to do a double-fold hem.
I used Kathleen Fasanella’s method of inserting a centered zipper. I like this method because it is fast, neat, and does not require hand sewing. I had a bit of confusion with the Pfaff zipper foot because it doesn’t look at all like the zipper feet I’m used to (see a picture of it here and compare it to a Brother zipper foot). I was basically like, “How do?” I put it on backwards at first. After looking at the manual (which I should have done first), I put it on the correct way. I then sewed the zipper on backwards, unpicked it, and sewed it on the correct way.
Even with the zipper hiccups, I went from cut to sew to finished within two sessions spread over two days. I would estimate that I spent four hours on this, which would make it my fastest item yet. I wanted to have it completed for the Black Panther release date, so I would have it ready to wear when we go to the movies.
I’m also proud of myself for sewing from my stash. One piece out!
I find myself suddenly with time to sew. I’ve also decided to track what I do better, since I like seeing other sewists’ charts and graphs at the end of the year. I hope you’ll be seeing more of me here. I cut out Simplicity 1059 out of a secondhand silk sari a few weeks ago and haven’t sewed a stitch yet; this will be the first thing I work on in 2018. I like the easy silhouette and how the shape allows a fabric print to take center stage.
This year has been a busy one, with lots of travel and lots of work. I changed my diet right around Memorial Day weekend; now, I cook multiple times a week and have to plan my menu around my nutritional requirements. I wanted to sew. I filled that want with buying fabric and patterns and with reading sewing blogs–with accumulating rather than doing. When I did sew, most of what I made didn’t turn out well. I stopped sewing when I started losing weight, since I realized that my measurements were rapidly changing.
Today, my husband helped me with organizing my sewing room. We’d tackled the other rooms in the house over the holiday weekend, but none were as fraught for me as the sewing room was. We still haven’t finished going through everything. The amount of stuff I have is ridiculous for my sewing pace.
So, my sewing resolution will be to use what I have: patterns, fabric, interfacing, zippers, other fastenings, bias tape, and so on. No more buying fabric until I have used what I have. This is a multi-year goal.
After we move next month, I will work on pairing each fabric length with a pattern and with matching notions from the stash. Then, I will work on scheduling out each project. I am successful at work when I plan ahead, follow a schedule, and document my progress; I should be successful at home if I apply the same principles. My husband enjoys project management and wants to build me a project/interactive spreadsheet of some sort to track my progress and use of my stash. I’m interested in seeing the data from that as well. I’m also interested in applying project management principles to something I have total control over.
I have other goals that I want to meet this year:
Meeting new people and making friends in the town we are moving to
Personal Improvement Goal
Improving my Spanish vocabulary and strengthening my knowledge and use of the complex verb tenses by taking advanced classes or going to language exchange meetups
Professional Development Goal
Learning how to use Adobe Technical Communication Suite programs, probably by taking classes (this can be on-going and go into 2019)
I’m trying to not give myself too much to do because that’s how I got into this fabric panic in the first place. I give myself too much to do and then I do nothing because I am overwhelmed.
I made Simplicity 1062, View C again. The last time I made it, I used a size Large and a rayon knit; this time, I used a size Medium and a mystery poly knit. I got the fabric on a shopping trip with my mother-in-law at Fabric Warehouse in Rahway, NJ.
I used the serger to sew all of the bands, and I used a zig-zag stitch to secure the hem. This was really easy and quick to make, and I like how it feels in a thicker knit. I also like how the longer back hem covers the gap that can appear when you bend over while wearing jeans. I would definitely sew this up a third time!
Just so you know, this pattern includes about 8 inches of ease in the body, but the arm bands are snug.
Hello there! I’ve been sewing rather slowly. My old Brother sewing machine decided that it likes to eat knits, even when I’m using the walking foot. I now have a Pfaff (with the IDT!) that my husband kindly got me for my birthday. It handles ITY knits like a champ! I’m excited about it.
I started both of these items about 25 lbs. ago, and it shows–they’re both rather too big for me know. I know I’ll still wear them on the weekend, though, as long as I can without them falling off.
I’ve made the Cation Designs Dolman Tee before. I love it for work because it comes off as elegant and it also has sleeves, which are necessary in a chilly office environment. This one is made of an ITY I got while shopping with my mother-in-law at the Fabric Warehouse in Rahway, NJ. It is a size XL; next time I sew it, I will use a L or M.
The McCalls 3830 skirt is made of a rayon/linen blend. I think I got that at Joann’s, as I couldn’t find plain linen in dark colors online at the time I was shopping for it, for some reason. I like the hand of the fabric. The skirt is the shortest view with no back vent and I believe I used a size 18 or 20. I should use a 16 next time, I think, and also take a little off the side seam curve, as my hips are not as curvy as the pattern is. I am closer to success with this pattern!
I love the idea of #sewmystashseptember. My stash has gotten uncomfortably large from all these shopping trips while traveling and little gifts to myself when I am feeling blah and uninspired. Now it is time for me to make these lengths of cloth into clothes I love.
I am interested in going at it from a capsule + purpose perspective: travel capsule (quick-drying, anti-wrinkling, stretch, chic for tourist photographs); casual Fridays/weekends capsule (structured, but not TOO structured, colorful), and work capsule (basic, dark colors, opaque, full coverage). I wonder how I can fit my stash in there.
My grandmother used to buy me complete outfits whenever we did back to school or vacation shopping. I remember getting coordinated shorts and tops sets with matching socks and a coordinating cardigan (and maybe matching hair bows and barrettes too) when we prepared for our first vacation together to Seattle. So much pink! I would like to approach my sewing this way too: for every top, there must be a bottom, and every bottom must have a top. That doesn’t mean a 1:1 ratio, as many tops can match a bottom. However, the styles and shapes must go together. That’s something for me to think about as I approach the stash.
How do you approach building a wardrobe and managing your resources?
I decided to join in on #sewmystashseptember, an initiative started by Jo of Stuff Jo Has Made. I have rather a lot of fabric–about eight standard cubes’ worth of fabric–and I put myself on a fabric-buying ban after I came back from my last visit to my in-laws, where I bought a lot of fabric. I have a few things on my agenda. To finish:
See & Sew apron started in August
Deer & Doe Plantain in white jersey, a refashion from a terrible New Look dress I made
Simplicity Sew Simple A1636 rayon challis dress started a couple of weeks ago; here is a version I made previously:
On my list of things to make:
McCalls 6654 flared skirt for my friend from stash ponte
Halloween costume (this is ambitious, but I bought the materials earlier this year)–generic Sailor Scout (Simplicity 2072) (I am inspired by my friends who are in Krewe du Moon)
A skirt out of one of the many suitings and twills I bought when I first learned to sew and thought I would make a bevy of work skirts
A top to go with that skirt of out of one of the many knits I have bought on my adventures to Fabric Warehouse in Rahway, NJ
I’ve been thinking about how my grandmother used to shop for me when I was a kid and teenager. She would buy my clothes in outfits–an equal number of bottoms and tops, and they had to go together in style. As an adult, thrifting and sales guided my shopping habits, so none of my clothes matched. I need to work on this. I’m now in the mid-level part of my career and I just can’t look disheveled at work. I want to be taken seriously and I know image is a part of that.
I mentioned before I have been working on losing weight. I’ve dropped about two clothing sizes so far–it’s hard to tell due to variation in clothing sizes–and I will drop one to two more before I hit the weight that counts as technically not overweight for my height. This has been a nightmare in terms of getting dressed every day for work. I feel so flappy and Golden-Girls-ish in my big clothes. I have been buying stopgap clothes because there is no way I can sew fast enough to keep up with my needs. To circle back to what I was talking about earlier, I am trying to buy classic, base-uniform basics that are the sort of shapes that can carry me through a few pounds loss. I can jazz these up with accessories or toppers later. So far, I have for work:
A black faux-wrap cotton dress, knit
A black pleated sleeveless dress, stretch woven
A black and white polka dot wrap dress with circle skirt, knit
A navy blue pencil skirt, woven and lined
A black pencil skirt, stretch woven
Black cropped pants, stretch woven
The same tops and cardigans as I was wearing before (so flappy!)
I continue to wear my too-big clothes for casual wear, since I really don’t go out. I think that I don’t fit either of the suits I have (one brown tweed and one black, both skirt suits), but I’d rather wait to make that investment until I am at a stable weight. Suits are so expensive!
I’m really concerned that Irma will take a turn and come to Charleston. Tonight, my husband and I will make a plan for us and the cats. I feel so bad for those who suffered from Hurricane Harvey. I am scared for those in the Caribbean and in Florida who are enduring Irma. The hurricane looks monstrous on the map.
I experienced the Katrina aftermath in New Orleans and I understand how horrible it can be. My family evacuated ahead of time with very little, thinking we would be going home in a few days, but we didn’t. We lost everything. Those in Houston will be dealing with the emotional and physical fallout from this for YEARS. I also feel bad for the New Orleanians who evacuated to Houston for Katrina, settled there, and then had to weather the storm in place there. I know old high school classmates who went through some harrowing days there, with their kids with them this time, twelve years later. How terrible. Please consider donating to help those in need. Charity Navigator is a good place to start with choosing where to donate. A hot meal or fresh, clean clothes to wear really makes a difference in helping to make people feel normal again. I know I was (and am) thankful to the places of worship, charities, and communities in Little Rock, Arkansas that helped me and my family to get right after the storm.
But I’ve been thinking about sewing a lot. It is comforting during this time of unrest in the US. I like to mentally plan all of the stages of a project, from matching fabric to a pattern to how the project fits together.
I haven’t actually had the energy to actually sew lately, though. The last few items that I’ve made have been duds; some of them I didn’t even have the energy to complete after realizing that they wouldn’t fit at all (I’m looking at you, Simplicity shorts). All these misfires have been discouraging. Normally, I would forge ahead and try again, but I’ve been rather down, so I’ve been dragging.
As I mentioned before, I’ve been working on losing weight for the past couple of months. This is for health reasons; all of my doctors have noted my weight and told me to lose it over the past four years. Unfortunately, all I’ve done is gain weight over the past four years. After suffering increasing joint pain, I decided to seek assistance, so I’ve been following a plan set by a doctor and have succeeded in losing some weight. I will continue to work on losing weight over the next few months, until I am no longer overweight. I know this has to be a permanent lifestyle change, so I am adjusting my outlook accordingly.
I’ve been changing sizes with every passing month. That also makes sewing a challenge for me right now. Plus, since I have gotten older, my body has become overall shaped differently. I still have a big derriere and thighs, as well as narrow sloping forward shoulders, but I now have a thicker waist too. I have to learn how to adjust for these things so that I feel less awkward in my clothes.
I’ve been wishing that more people would post in their blogs, as I love reading about others’ project details, but it occurred to me that I am not giving what I am getting. I feel badly about this. I want to share; I want to be as productive as others are; however, I am tired and uncertain. I’ve been reading books more as a way to escape.
How have you dealt with a changing body? Does stress make you turn to your handmade hobbies more, or do you deal with it in other ways?
Originally, I’d started out trying to make the shorts pattern (View E) included in Simplicity 2258. However, when it came to the basting and trying on stage, I realized there was not enough room in the seat to actually cover my whole bottom. There was, however, a lot of room around my upper thighs. 😦
So, I decided to try the shorter skirt pattern (View C) included in the packet, with a wedge added at the top back to accommodate the length I need to cover my bottom. I think it’s cute!
I particularly like the way the pockets are formed. They are one-piece pockets, where you fold over the fabric to make the pocket bag. Topstitching them keeps things neat. (My topstitching is not particularly neat here.) I like the curvature of the pocket opening as well.
I used a chambray from Joann’s, with Gutermann thread. I think I chose the size 20. This pattern uses very little fabric, even in the larger size range–1 5/8 yards of wide fabric. I would say, by that measure, that it is an economical sew.
By the time I was finished making it, I’d lost some weight, so now I need to adjust the elastic so that it stays up. The pattern has a good amount of ease as well.