Sunday, April 13, 2014

a little scissor talk...

Hey all! I don't do this often, but today I'm going to use my blog to promote something near and dear to my heart. So for those just interested in sewing, don't worry, my finished Cambie Dress will be posted soon! But for today...

As some of you may already know, aside from creating with my sewing machine and thread, I am also a visual artist, painting and printmaking at an amazing artist collective in Portland, Maine called Running With Scissors. We have over 50 artists from all different mediums under one roof, sharing resources, equitment and knowledge. Why I'm talking about this today is that Running with Scissors is doing a to raise the money needed to finish referbishing and updating out new building. With less than 48 hours to go we need to raise $3,665 to reach our goal of $25,000, and if we don't make it we don't get any of the money raised. So I invite you to check out the link below, which has a ton of information about our studio, an awesome video, and a list of amazing "thank you" gifts (including t-shirts like the one above screen printed by yours truly).

Thank you for checking it out, and back to sewing next post!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

what's rachel sewing today? a sewaholic cambie dress!

I'm finally feeling like sewing for spring! We've had, like, 4 above-freezeing days in a row! Some even with sunshine!!  So what's my first frock of spring (a term shamelessly stolen from Scruffy Badger)?  I've seen so many great Sewaholic Cambie Dresses around the web, and and for a long time now I've just have a hunch that it would be a great fitting pattern for me... so I've finally mustered up the courage to give it a try!

Oooo, floral cotton! I bought this fabric specifically with this dress in mind after seeing one of Tasia's versions here and her McCalls 7743 here.  The bodice came together very easily, and with very few adjustments. What a great patterns! I took it up at the shoulder seam by 5/8", and then shortened the bodice 1/2" before attaching the waistband. The cap sleeve is attached to the back bodice, then sewn into the front bodice once everything in constructed and fitting. I often have to short the shoulders once I have a dress fitted, so this is perfect for me! I can wait until the very last step with the zipper installed and all to fit my sleeves!

The pattern is completely lined. In the instructions it calls for you sew the entire dress and lining seperatly, then after the zipper is installed attached them at the top, right sides together then turning inside out for a clean finished. I've altered that construction just slightly so that the waistband and  lining would be stitched together for a little more stability.  I hope it doesn't mess me up down the line.

You can see how I have sewn all layers of bodice, lining and waistbands into the waistband.

But I didn't sew them together all the way to the back seam to allow me in install the invisible zipper later, after the skirt is attached. Then I will hand sew any remaining lining closed to cover all the yucky seams.
Now I need to decided on the skirt. The pattern includes a full gathered skirt (which doesn't always look flattering over my abdomen, but looks so cute with this bodice on Tasia!) and a narrow, classic A-line (more practical for day-to day maybe? But will that style look good on my figure?). Another option would be to draft a circle skirt, which I know looks great on me, but would be a lot more work, and I hate hemming a circle skirt!

Hmmmmm, what will look best... and what will work best in my wardrobe?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

new finished garments! and a marie jacket update

Good news! I have two finished garments to share today! First up... New Look 6251 in black polar fleece. This was made on my Singer and was almost finished when the foot lifter broke. I was able to finish with a little extra effort getting the fabric under the foot.

Exposed pocket zippers.
Not too bad on the zipper installation!

Doesn't look too bad... but again, the fit is not amazing. I should have shortened the pattern before I began, because there was not a lot of room alter at the hemline once the zippers were in. I did take in where the sleeve meets the shoulders by a good inch, and the side seams another 1/2 inch.

See what I mean? By no means terrible... but still not quite right. The proportions feel a little too top heavy. But it's a fairly quick and easy pattern, so I think I may be able do some easy alterations (shorten, take in the shoulders/upper back,  add an elastic or pull cord at the waist...) and whip up a take-2 pretty easily. That's what I should do... or I might try Kwik Sew 3813 :) Any thoughts?

Oh, and you notice the grey corduroy mini? It's a Grainline Moss Skirt! And this was my first make on my new Bernina. I sewed a size 8, and the only alteration was lengthening it a bit at the hem. It sits pretty low on the hips (which I don't have much of to being with!), so next time I'll take in the waistband just a smidge to feel a little more secure. Otherwise, a great pattern!

You can really see the extra fabric in the back and shoulders of the jacket in this picture. And there is a fold under the waistband on the hips.... maybe bring in the waistband?
I needed a little dose of spring, so I lined the pockets with a pretty spring floral cotton! And check out that beautiful understitching when putting the pockets together!

Notice the tuck under the waistband... is that because the waistband is a little to big and not staying up?

It was also only my second fly zipper installation, and if you think that it would be difficult to do... you'd be right. But after three tries I got it! I used a combination of the pattern instructions included, the Grainline Fly Insertion Tutorial, and I made-up my own methods at times when I was still scratching my head after reading both sets of instructions.

I also added a little extra topstiching here and there, like the back yoke, the waistband, and pockets.

And I almost forgot! You wanted to know what I did with the StyleARC Marie Jacket! Well, I got this pictures on my phone the other day:

My sister told me she loves it and it fits her even better than the jacket I was inspired by.  Funny how that extra 7 inches tall can make such a big difference...

Oh well, I'm getting closer to a perfect fitting mid-weight jacket!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

meet miss bernina

You may remember that my serger was not working, well I have good news! Mr. Sew Rachel was able to fix it! It seems that the throat plate had shifted and was blocking the needle entry, thus causing the terrifying breaking and flying needles. Yay!

But then.... my Singer broke. Boo! The part that lifts the foot was no longer lifting. Mr. Sew Rachel was not able to diagnose that one, so off to the sewing machine shop I went. And that's when I met Miss Bernina...

Some little old lady had just traded her in for a new, fancier model, but had obviously taken very good care of it. Even without any cleaning or tune up she sewed so straight and smooth and quiet! I had an impulsive moment.... and I bought it.

The following day, after a cleaning and tune-up,  here is how she came home to me in her case Not that I plan on taking her places... she's pretty much all metal, inside and out, and wicked heavy!

The previous owner kept in her beautiful shape, with all the original parts and then some. I wonder if I'll ever use a knee-operated foot-lifter...

She is a model 930, probably a brand new equivalent would be the Bernina 1008. The folks at the store (South Portland Sewing Centre - a nice family run business that services all machines in house!) stayed with me a 1/2 hour after closing to go over all her features and dials.

And did I mention her feet? They included all the feet the original owner had, which is a lot! I didn't know that Bernina feet were all labeled with a number, so I can look up exactly what every foot is for.

Look at all those bobbins!

I've already finished one garment on her and will post soon, along with an update on my StyleARC Marie Jacket. In the meantime, who wants to guess how old she is?

Monday, March 17, 2014

i love the sewing blogger community!

I want to thank you for your kind words in reply to my last post. After I hit "Publish" I thought... maybe it's not smart to blog angry. But I think its sometimes important for us bloggers to share our failures as much as our successes.

After a little thought, I think I may I found my pants fitting problem. In the original pair, I had taken in the side seams to get the perfect fit, so on my current pair I did the same. Now that I've had a little time to cool off and about it... I realize that I may have had already altered my paper pattern to reflect that alteration, and therefore ended up taking the seam in twice on my grey pair. No wonder they are too tight! So I've swallowed my pride, put on my big girl panties and ordered another 2 yards of the same grey fabric to try again. I'll get a perfect pair out of this failure after all!

My serger is still sitting without an installed needle. I have recently had it oiled, cleaned and tuned, and didn't have any issues until after I had re-threaded it with serger thread, but this is the first time changing the needle. It was my mother's machine, so I may ask her for advice. Maybe I have the wrong needle, or am installing it wrong. I'll let you know what I discover, but right now I'm still a little mad at it and am ignoring it.

So here is a little "thank you" from me to all you in the amazing, supportive sewing blog community: Parfait and Filbert in a basket! You all rock!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

elle pants disappointment

So frustrated! I was making up another pair of StyleARC's Elle Pants to wear to work, since my last pair came out so well. This time I was using a grey bengaline, bought from, with a similar stretch as my black pair. Inspired by Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow, I added back pockets to this pair. (Check out her amazing pink pair she just posted!)

But first the good...

They came together super quick this time around thanks to a little tip from Handmade Jane! Since I only have white serger thread, and threading the machine can be a pain, I have been sewing seams once on the regualr sewing machine with matching thread then finishing the raw edged on the serger. With Jane's tip I can cut out that first pass on the sewing machine! She points out that you actually only need to change one thread on the serger to match your fabric, since only one thread with actually show on the outside! Changing the first thread is way easier than the whole upper and lower loops anyway, and I just threaded it with a regular spool to match my project. Great!

And the waistband came together with no fuss at all this time around, and lays beautifully. I was feeling so good about how they were coming together!!!

The pockets are adequate, but not perfect. They ended up a little lower than they should but overall they are O.K.

Now the bad...

THEY ARE TOO TIGHT! So frustrated! The last pair fit so nice, maybe even a little ease to spare, and I don't think I did anything different this time that would have affected the sizing. Even the fabric had near similar stretch! A whole afternoon (and $20 in fabric) wasted for nothing, not even learning anything since I have no idea why they don't fit... and I really, really needed another pair of pants for work.

AND THERE'S MORE! I broke a serger needle. It's been a while since they'd been changed so no big deal... except I changed it and the new needle immeadiatly broke (and it's kinda scary when that needle goes!). Maybe I didn't tighen the screw enough... but then the third one snapped too! Mr. Sew Rachel thinks the tension must be off, but I swear it's not. So not only do I not have any pants, but I'm unable to use my serger and can't figure out why.

Sigh. I'm not sure what the goal is with sharing this discouragement. I guess we all have bad sewing days and sewing failures, I just usually can take some socalce in knowing I've learned something in the process. Maybe some time and reflection will help.

a stylearc marie jacket

I'd hinted a few posts back that I had another StyleARC pattern in the works, and here it is! The Marie Jacket! I still need to hem the sleeves but wanted to show your right away.

Looks like I installed my zipper on the wrong side... oh well!

Other bloggers have also noticed that the jacket has much more of a hi-low hem that the illustration suggests, and it's very long.  More on that later...

I used a really lovely, fairly thick, heathered charcoal grey knit from Joann Fabrics. I love this fabric! It has a metallic thread throughout, and washed, cut and sewed beautifully. The pattern calls for a snap to hold up the cowl when zipped, but I decided to try a magnetic clasp originally sold for handbags. It's a little heavier, but I think a fun detail. I was inspired by the same closure in my sister's Modcloth Jacket... in fact her jacket inspired the whole make!


I love the back seaming. I could see it done with an insteresting contrast... leather shoulder detail maybe?
Could use a little more back shaping... and sooooo long!  
When first constructed it was too big overall, so I re-set each sleeve taking out 1 1/4", took in just shy on an inch on each side seam and 1/4" in the sleeves. Still, after all that work it just wasn't very flattering.

Apparently my body no longer has a shape... well, I guess a pudgy rectangle is shape.

One, it's really long. That's not a surprise for me. The hi-low hits unflattering in the front, and completely covers my butt, and not in a cute show-it-off way. The cowl ended up bulky, with four layers when zipped of that nice, thick jersey. Even after taking things in, it doesn't fit snugly on my shoulders or waist, instead choosing to enphasize that pudgy ring between my bellybutton and lack-of-hips all the way around. (Yes, I am implying that my jacket has a mind of it's own and is choosing to hug my unflattering bits...) And maybe it's just overall too much fabric for my small frame. So I see two options, send it to my sister (same measurments, but 7" taller and a great hoursglass shape), or shorten to a bomber-style length. At that length, I would be cutting it off above the area it unflatteringly hugs, the rest of the jacket having about the same amount of ease. 

Sorry the picture it so dark! I've tucked the hem under to my hip level, where my hands are. I should have work lighter jeans!
So what should I do? Send the longer hi-low version to my sister, or alter it to a shorter bomber jacket?