Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March 24: Review Follow Up

Apparently the lack of actual markings on the sleeve isn't a big deal to the author, which baffles me a bit, since there were two comments (mine and another woman's) mentioning it. Heather provided a nice "further illustration" to show how to do the sleeve top, but she never said, "Yeah, we didn't put anything there and then made it sound like we had! Sorry that I made you unfold that #$#@$!!!! road map of a pattern THREE TIMES to look for what did not exist. My bad."

BUT I have bought more sale fabric (1.99/yard, baby) to try again, and will stop by my LFS, Sewing by the Sea, for tracing material and lighter yarn and needles. I'd be happy to have an actual garment at the end of this, but it's kind of fun going into the process thinking, "Maybe, maybe not." Freeing, kind of!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

March 22: Heather Ross's Weekend Sewing Review

I bought this gorgeous book when I went up to Elder's swim meet in Bangor and happened to have a matching Border's gift certificate for 30% off. I'd seen reviews and information and thought it might be a great way to get me out of my usual "I need color!" state in late winter without starting another quilt, which might take me another 6 years to finish. So I bought it.

Yesterday I decided to make the summer blouse: discount fabric, so it only cost $4.59. My kind of risk! I liked the material, though, and hoped I'd have a kicky new top. And. . . . I don't really, but I do have some ideas. First, I need more pattern tracing material (note to self). And I can't figure out if one of my pieces is missing key gathering instructions, or if I just can't see them in the forest of overlapping pattern pieces. Thirdly, I didn't have enough material, though I followed the instructions for the amount, so I ended up using more of my stash to make the sleeves. Fourthly, I couldn't quite figure out the directions for bias-taping the neckline, and I ended up thinking I'd done it "differently" (aka wrong). Fifth, the shirt ended up about 2" too short for me. Sixth, the sleeves are a little bindingly narrow in the upper arm. SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO: the upshot is that

1. I am not discouraged! At all, really. I deliberately set out to try this out, and see what worked and what didn't. Since the bust measurement for a medium was spot on for me with a sports bra, I thought I might be pushing it, but I decided to start more fitted since I often err on the side of bagginess. Clearly, I would like larger armholes, wider sleeves, and a longer length, but the rest seemed right.

2. I feel like I'm learning a lot. For example, I did put in gathering rows (which always reminds me of making nightgowns when I was little), but then the differential between the sleeve and the armhole was so minor that I smoothed most of it out! My neck placket was nearly flawless, which made me proud, though I did run into trouble sewing the bias edging down around the neckline. If this were a keeper, I'd deal with each hiccup. As it is, I learned from each one. The weakest link was the illustration of exactly how we were supposed to deal with the bias tape, and I could've taken out my first attempt, which resulted in an exposed ridge of tape outside, and done a hidden inner one instead. BOTH finish the neck, and if I'd taken the time to make bias tape from my own material, I might even have preferred my solution. Bright pink, though. . . not so much.

I also know that if I use lighter material (I was aiming for a nice bridge shirt from late March -- May so I used quilting cotton, and then ended up using some gorgeous batik for the arms), I will want a smaller needle (like an 11) and finer thread. My lovely Pfaff handled it fine--no bunching or puckering--but I could just tell it was almost a miss. I might also be drawn into buying a middle-width bias tape maker, as I do think it would be pretty to have that matching lining flash--or, if I go with my first method, show!

3. I did it in about 4 hours, with Greta Schaachi reading Persuasion all the while (except when I was really poring over the neck taping part). Though I did have a little pouting spell when I tried it on with one sleeve done and realized I would probably not be wearing it, after DH's lovely pizza dinner I regained enough oomph to remind myself that I was investigating and, as my friend Darcy says, "it's all good". At this point I need to hand sew the placket, attach a loop and a button (the whole "make a loop" thing seemed way too complex to bother with; I'm going for elastic string with a flower button), remove my basting from the sleeve tops, and hem sleeves (which came out plenty long; I did use the large length) and bottom (that would be a rolled thin hem! Belly shots are dangerously close). But I did put everything away and get my study clean again, which is pretty good time.

So, overall: I like the book. I will use it again (maybe next weekend, in fact), and my sense is that my lessons of this weekend will result in a successful sewing venture! I would caution a newbie seamstress/sewer that some of the details are tricky, and I'd recommend a low cost, low expectation trial run for starters. My final overall evaluation of the book is that I wish there were more pockets in the garments, especially the pajama pants, and I do wish that there was a single non-wrap skirt pattern: something like the Barcelona skirt from Amy Butler or the standard Boden skirt that they offer every season. However: I'm glad I've got the book, and it looks like I might get through till daffodil and leaf season without starting a quilt! Thank you, Heather Ross!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mar. 14: Habby, habby. . .

When he was about 3, my younger son used to walk around saying "Habby habby habby habby" to himself when he was in an especially good mood. Today, as I lie on the couch and consider that
--Elder is NOT on his computer or in a snit but instead working on an art project, occasionally making silly jokes, and being generally pleasant;
--Younger has really done the lion's share of FINISHING a foolishly hard and poorly cut puzzle after 6 weeks of its possession of our counter and is lying next to me, reading;
--today was warm and sunny, truly a Spring day (despite the probably 12" of snow still remaining);
--I FINISHED JESSE'S SWEATER in my pink study while listening to Greta Schaachi (?) read Persuasion, a heavenly way to do it--and it looks good and I think will fit!
--Younger, Zeus and I went for a 45 min walk by the hospital on this lovely day and met nice people and dogs and got some sun;
--thereafter we went to Morton's Moo and Younger shared his gift certificate with me, saying, "You do plenty of nice things for me, Mom!"
--I am reading Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Shuttle, which I am enjoying. . . . .

I am realizing that I am pretty darn "habby, habby, habby" myself today!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Mar. 2: MONDAY SNOW DAY #2!!!

This one was lovely too. . . We planned ahead a bit and went out to b'fast at a little place we can walk to, and the boys were up earlier than I was (!!) so it all got underway quite smoothly. We got about 8" of snow and then about 3" of sleet, and it was cold (teens) all day. I feel a little bit like, "Okay, fine, that's great--now let's start melting!" However, this week is due to be chilly, so I doubt my wishes will be heeded.

BH was a great shoveler today; Ken called to see if we needed his snowblower, which was incredibly thoughtful; Younger and I made lovely ginger shortbread cookies; we watched "How to Make an American Quilt" which was okay, and I did a LOT of knitting--all in all, a real keeper. But we never get to, do we?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Mar. 1: Making Up and Closing Off

Well, it's after swim/church/shopping/lunch/browsing and I am casting my eyes back over February and considering my goal of blogging daily during that month--which I pretty much did (similar to my Lenten vow of renouncing chococlate: last night in one of my wakeful stretches, I suddenly realized that I had had a lovely piece of very chocolate cake at Friday's Beth Benefit Lunch--without a thought!). It was fun, but I certainly don't think 1. I will become a famous blogger like the Yarn Harlot or Yarn Storm; 2. that my entries were very well developed or thought out or even edited, in fact. Often I seized the moment and just spit out the words, 3. that anyone will probably read them, unless I send a few folk the link, but I'm not sure I even want to, because, frankly: how interesting are they?

So, for March: I may pick the goal of practicing my banjo every day (I did that one month last year) with an eye to rejuvenating my interest in it, even without regular lessons. That goal might also cut down on my computer-glued time, which does NOT need enhancement. However, March tends to be a somewhat chaotic and sometimes frantic month, so I may give myself a break on that and change that goal to April. We'll see.

When I do have time to write, I would like to write about the unsexiness/lack of thrill in being financially responsible, despite its amazing returns, and then maybe return to a more indepth discussion about my love of audiobooks.

We shall see. BUT: mission for February accomplished. Thar she blows!