Archive for October 2014

The Sandpoint Blouse

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Normalcy is creeping in -- just what I needed.  Time to sew has been limited -- double header baseball games, soccer games, and storm clean up makes for a long Saturday!   When Helena of GrayDay Patterns needed testers for her new pattern, The Sandpoint Blouse, I couldn't resist.  I saw the design in Indie Pattern contest on The Monthly Stitch.  Knit with a drapey back - subtle and surprising.  It was a perfect way to use the luscious maroon knit from Fabric Mart that I had been hoarding.  

Experiment: The Sandpoint Blouse, Size XS

Materials:
1 yard maroon knit
Serger thread (I am lazy gal at changing my serger thread so a neutral color is always on it).

 
Procedure:
This was such a pleasure to test!  Helena was organized and the only thing that stumped me was a couple of directions.  Not bad for a newbie pattern maker!  Here are a few of the reasons I gush about this pattern: First and foremost, you can sew this with your serger.   That means you can make this top in less than an afternoon and show it off that evening.  Ummmm, hello!?! Instant gratification. Second, this pattern is fabric friendly meaning you can squeeze it out of a yard of 60 inch knit (say what!?! I know, amazing!).   Third, you could get creative and squeeze it out of less and use coordinating fabric for the bands.  Fourth, the cowl neck in the back could be reversible (i.e. the cowl in the front).  I am telling you, I could go on....

The only truly pain-in-the-arse part was turning out the shoulder band (I hate this step in general since it seems to take forever and there is no easy way to do it -- or maybe I am clueless and someone can shed some light on a better way....???).  The shoulder band was handstitched to the inside of the shirt however, the option to have it lay on top is also there.   With the addition of  the band option at the waist, one can avoid a sewing machine.   


I know that I will get a lot of wear out of this because maroon is one of the colors of the university I work for and it is a perfect top to wear to sporting events especially the outdoor kind where the temperature is close to triple digits.  In Louisiana, it is hot and humid what feels like 6-7 months out of the year (A climate that this northern girl has not gotten used to yet!).  
You could easily lengthen this to a tunic and roll about with leggings and boots.  Or you could take the sides, lengthen, add a belt and voila! you have a dress.  I would like to try a drapey cozy sweater knit for an interesting fall top.
Another shot of the front and one more of the back (I can't resist!).


Happy Stitching!
Annie

 

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The Ballard Top from Straight Stitch Designs

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


This past week felt like two weeks combined.   It was exhausting but more on that after I share the newest pattern from Straight Stitch Designs:  The Ballard Top.  I was a lucky enough gal to pattern test and I am so glad.  The Ballard Top is described as business in the front and party in the back.  If you are impatient like me you can see why below....

Experiment:  Ballard Top, size 0

Materials: 
1 and 5/8 yards of pink knit
Coats and Clarks white thread

Procedure:
This is Kimberly's, of Straight Stitch Designs, second pattern.  Her first is the Ravenna top with an amazing back detail.  Hmmmm, the Ballard also has an unexpected back detail... theme or not, both designs amp up a top.  The Ballard is a knit tunic with 3/4 sleeves.
It features a gathered neckline which I adore as per my usual girly taste.  It looks like a sweet tunic from the front and then, BAM!, the peek-a-boo back catches your eye.
Subtle enough to be appropriate but oh-la-la sexy.  It is a beginner appropriate pattern.  The directions are straightforward, helpful for those who might be nervous about knits (I remember when I was terrified of knits).  Must be confident with knits especially stretching sleeve bands, waist band, and the neck band.  That really is the trickiest part of the pattern.  I used my walking foot to gather the front and hem the back pieces.  Then switched to my serger for the remainder. 
Kimberly's final pattern included a lower neckline and the sides are taken in just a smidge to give you a more sleek waist line.  I am loving this tunic with leggings and my boots. Fall -- watch out -- I am slowly preparing and building a wardrobe to wear with my cowboy boots.  

I have been dreaming up my next version ... I think I will go with contrasting waist-,sleeve-, and neck-bands while lengthening the sleeve.  I can envision wearing it out to a pumpkin patch or an outdoor patio for drinks (White Russian anyone??).  How would you make your Ballard Top? You can get a copy of this pattern at IndieSew.  Be sure to check out the Blog Tour of the Ballard Top -- these ladies rock. 
Happy Sewing!!
Annie







P.S. Below is the reason why my week was so very long!

This past week has been tiring and trying!  On October 13th, a squall line transected several states and consequently, we had a horrible storm come through northern Louisiana.  The storm ended up producing an EF2 tornado that ripped apart my neighborhood.  Luckily, it happened around 11:30 a.m. and amazingly, no one was hurt since most people were at work.   This was the view from my driveway.
The winds reached 125 miles per hour!!  Needless to say, I was without power all last week.  We had a rather large tree limb crash into our living room and now have a skylight (just teasing -- it is covered with a lovely blue tarp -- we have minimal damage compared to others)!  It is hard to describe the destruction of a tornado.  Here are a few pictures from my neighborhood.
For perspective, my family and I meandered through the neighborhood on foot since driving was impossible and biking dangerous because of downed power lines, trees, and other things.  The wind uprooted whole trees and houses were destroyed!  It was a very emotional week and such a sad sight to see all the damage.  It brought tears to my eyes as we walked.
My family is safe and for that I am truly grateful.  I had my Ballard top down a couple of weeks ago but with all the drama and no power, it took until yesterday afternoon to take pictures.  It is kind of bittersweet because the tree whose afternoon shade I used quite often (which provided perfect lighting for pictures) is gone.



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Blog Hop: Why Do I Write or Confessions of a Blogger

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The lovely Hana from Velvet Ribbon passed the blog hop onto little ole' me.  I love Hana's blog because (a.) she make beautiful things, (b.) her attention to detail is amazing,  (c.) I love reading about her construction process and (d) she lives in a exotic locale (Macau).     Thank you Hana!!

Why do I write?

I created my blog to catalog and share my sewing experiments.   Yes, experiments.  It's second nature for me to approach things with the scientific method.  Or that could be from the 4 years of university and 8 years of graduate school in which I was steeped in science.  Experiments can have good results or they can also lead to failures.  Both are valuable. 

Blogging is a heaping spoonful of awesome sauce with bacon and sprinkles.  It has connected me to a worldwide sewing community.  There are so many great seamstresses out there who blog.  I look forward to seeing their projects and hearing about what they have been doing (Thank the stars for Bloglovin -- all in one place every morning or evening!). They have provided that much needed inspiration or encouragement. I do not live a major city where there are countless people who share a similar passion.  Hell, my colleagues (and students) do not even know I blog, let alone sew.  Yea, I admit it.  I am horrible at self promotion.


What am I working on now?

I have several projects in the sewing lab right now.  I usually cut out several patterns at a time and then work on them little by little.  I have three different projects (2 dresses and a skirt) that need finishing touches (zipper, hem, or buttons, etc...) and then need to be photographed.  I have to admit that sometimes I run out of steam by the finishing touches and poof! they end up in the to-be-finished-pile. 

At this very moment, I took Friday afternoon of our Fall break to sew and blog.  I am finishing a sleeveless dress with a Dia de los Muertos print.  Must make bias binding to finish.  I am also working on a pair of trousers for my son to wear to the pumpkin patch (perfect fall photo shoot, plus we need family pictures for our New Year's card).   I also want to put together the Belcarra pdf pattern I splurged on last night.   And I am pattern testing (so exciting, huh?!).  It really sounds like a lot but all of these projects are in different stages and thus are manageable (or maybe I am just crazy and this is a lot!).

How does my blog differ from other sewing blogs?

I struggled with this question but came to the realization that my blog is not different from many other sewing blogs.  I have a unique voice and unique projects.  However, I do not want to become a slave to my blog where I feel obligated to write or sew.  I blog and sew because it is fun.  It is my stress relief.  It allows me to share.  It connects me with a community.

That being said, I would like to start a monthly series on my blog that focuses on my geeky side.  Shocking, right?  Geek Chic (should start next week) is going to feature sewing projects with a decidedly nerdy theme.  

I would like to get better at photography and update my blog theme but those are things to dream about if I had infinite time and money (which I don't so I think those will be on the burner for a while).  

How does my writing process work?
I sew, write, and blog read when my career job and my mommy work are finished.  This is mostly at night when I find the time.  In order to increase my efficiency, like my sewing, I have several blog posts I work on at once.   Sometimes a post starts with a pattern or an idea.  Other times I need to have pictures of the project complete before the words begin to drivel out.  Still other times, it is a title with a blank page.  A blank page is soooooo intimidating and it can be hard to put something down.  I constantly tell my students that one can overcome writers block if you just begin writing.  I have many first lines that are edited, deleted, changed, edited, rewritten until I hit that publish button.

When I first began blogging (Oh, how absolutely cringe-worthy those posts make me feel.  Full disclosure and caution: DO NOT READ THEM), I wrote in a more banal voice.  I don't know when it happened but I started to write as if I were vocally telling the story of the project including all the sentence fragments and commentary.  Now, my writing is peppered with all those goofy thoughts that run through my head.



There you have it.  I am passing the baton blog hop to a lady who is a wicked seamstress and makes me laugh out loud.  Amanda from Wear-A-Wyatt. 

Happy Sewing!
Annie

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Holy Guacamole Batman!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Oi! Why is planning for fall sewing so hard?  Fall is here and I still have no plans. 

Experiment:
New Look 0916, Cigarette Pants
Size 8

Materials:
2 yards Black and white cotton sateen with 3% Lycra
Coats and Clark Black thread
3/4" Elastic


Procedure:
This is a UFO that has been hovering since July.  It all started when I got googly eyes for this back and white cotton sateen fabric. It had to be a pair of pants.  I figured it would be perfect for the Monosewn TMS challenge.  I passed it up for two months because more interesting projects came along.  More likely it was out of fear.  Last time I made this pattern in was a hot mess, rather a tight mess of ill-fitted twill...navy blue nightmare.  Through deductive reasoning and hoping that a little stretch around your booty can never hurt, I decided to try again...back in July.
I gave it a whirl again.  Amazingly, the fit without the waistband was decent.  I added the waistband and went to insert the zip, when the sewing muse encouraged me to try it on again.  They were big around the waist.  What the pickle?  How can you go from being too tight with navy twill and too big with cotton sateen? ...  Oh yeah, Lycra.  I loved the fabric and did not want to give it up so I improvised.


I drafted a rectangle waistband that could hold 3/4" elastic.  I followed this tutorial by Nancy Zieman (I remember watching her on PBS eons ago!) in which your serge the elastic to the top of the waistband, fold under and stitch only at the seams.  This is in lieu of making a casing and inserting the elastic.  What is neat about this trick is that it doesn't appear to be an elastic waist.   No wrinkling or puckering as a dead-giveaway with elastic (Don't get me wrong, I was going to make a casing until I stumbled upon that tutorial.).  Now my pants are snug. And they look snappy.  I also ended up shortening the pants by two inches as they were rather long on my.
Holy guacamole Batman!  I just made a pair of pants I will wear, I can wear to work, I like to wear!  For those who have conquered this feat and at this point, if still reading, and are rolling their eyes, too bad. It's not earth shattering sewing but I am quite a happy hen!

We have baseball and soccer practices for Jules scattered throughout the week so my evenings are hectic.  This means resorting to my 30-minute sewing as soon as my son goes to bed.  This is how I sew.  Typically, Sunday evening I put a pdf pattern togehter or cut out a Big 4 pattern.  Monday is fabric cut and begin sewing.  It works wonders and by the end of the week, I usually have something made.
Still thinking about fall sewing!

Happy Buttons!
Annie

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