Sunday, June 24, 2012

Colette Patterns Embroidery Project

I woke up yesterday completely INSPIRED.  Yes, in all caps.  It had been a rough week at work followed by a rougher Friday night at home and I had gone to bed completely exhausted and over it.  I woke up before 8:00 on Saturday morning with sewing on my mind--I had to get going.  It was one of those forceful, you must do this now feelings, and I had to give in.

I've really been exploring hand embroidery lately (by "exploring," I mean, doing what I want and not always doing it correctly, because I'm too lazy to learn) and, despite the two dresses I have cut out and ready to sew, I've been focused on hand embroidery.  I can do it while watching TV and I'm not all bent over my sewing machine until 1 AM because of it.  It's relaxing.  Even though I love love love to sew, sometimes you need a change of pace!

Anyway, so I woke up yesterday knowing what my next project would be: embroidered versions of all the Colette patterns I own.  I think I own eight, plus the book, and most have line drawings on the front cover (except Chantilly, which is still the old watercolor version).  Line drawings are perfect for embroidery.  Why hadn't I considered this before?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Big Ol' Fail

Let's talk about failure.  I've seen a lot of it lately.

Sometimes I wonder if I bring this onto myself by diving head-first into so many projects--at any given time, I have at least one embroidery project and one sewing project going simultaneously, but more often than not, I have even more.  My attention is always very divided, and I think that's just how I work; I have to multi-task at my day job, so I'm used to splitting my time and priorities and making sure everything gets done on time.  While there's usually no deadline for my personal projects, I get bored if they linger too long.

Naturally, because I'm a bit all over the place, so is my work.  However, I can normally hide that or just push through so I don't have as many challenges.  I'm not saying my work is perfect; the opposite is true, because my thread and bobbin rarely match at the end of a project, my invisible zippers never align at the top, and my buttonholes are a crazy-ass mess.  But I can hide things with a pretty fabric or a cardigan thrown over and no one notices.

This past weekend, however, the fails started rolling in, and apparently, they're sticking around for a while.

I cut out a ton of the Michelle Patterns Basic Wallets a couple months ago.  I could use a fat quarter for each and the only notion besides thread and interfacing was some magnetic snaps.  I thought it sounded great and easy and I'd be able to sell them quickly.

I finally sat down to make these Friday afternoon.  I used a heavyweight fusible interfacing, I Googled how to insert the magnetic snaps, and I was off.  Except they all look like shit.

Those are just a few of the ones I made.  As you can see, a couple are wonky and none have wonderful topstitching.  I'm guessing this is because I used a magnetic snap instead of Velcro, which I thought would be a great substitute but apparently not.  So now I'm sitting on all these crappy little wallets that will never sell.  What a waste of fabric!

I also have been trying to work through my stash, so I set out to cut two Simplicity 2209s from a couple prints I've had.  I've made this dress before, I think the fit is great, and it works really well for the office.  I cut out the first one from a Denyse Schmidt Hope Valley print--a navy basketweave which will translate well with tights and a sweater in the winter.  I also have been itching to use my Anna Maria Horner Summer Totem print I picked up from Cinnamon's in Jacksonville last Christmas.  It's so summery and bright--I was afraid the print would be too much, but I got a lot of support on Instagram, so I stopped hesitating and just did it.  I laid everything out twice, making sure I'd be able to fit both bodice pieces and both skirt pieces (I could finish the bodice with bias tape if I needed to).  I still don't know what happened, but when it came time to cut the skirts, this was in my way:

Kind of a crap picture, but I was over it.  That's the top of the front bodice, taking about four inches of room off the skirt fabric.  Well, that's just fantastic.  It was already a tight squeeze, and being a one-way directional, this just wasn't going to happen.

Do I scrap it or keep going?  I couldn't decide.  I think I spent 30 minutes folding and re-folding, moving the pieces around, shortening the skirt--just trying to make it work.  It wasn't happening.  My plan had failed and I felt like an idiot. 

In the end, I ordered another yard from Hawthorne Threads--that should be enough for one of the skirt pieces and I'll cut the other one out of the messed up fabric.  

It's just so frustrating to have high hopes and big plans and see them crash right in front of you.  I'm certainly no stranger to this kind of heartbreak, but it's still disappointing each and every time.  You always think you've learned!

How do you deal with your failures?  And is that too harsh of a word?  I wanted to use "challenges" but let's keep it real, folks.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Weekend Crafting

There are some weekends I feel super productive, and some weekends I don't.  Sometimes I can make a dress or two, sew and upload a few things for my Etsy shop, and bake a really good cake.  And then sometimes I'm all over the damn place and I wake up on Monday morning with just a couple small projects and nothing really to show for my weekend.

This was an unproductive weekend.

I'm at the point with sewing and embroidering where I want to make and do everything.  My walls would be embroidered over a French seam if it were possible.  But this point is really overwhelming because I can't pick just one thing to make.  I have a lot of different projects cut out--a Cambie dress, a dress for the shop, lots of little bags--but why work on those when I can do something new?  I have to really force myself to sit down, take a second and finish up a WIP before they take over my sewing space.

I did do a few good things this weekend, such as:

More Elizabeth Hartman Perfect Zip Bags!  I started embroidering these while I was in Beaufort, and I bought all the fabric at Tabby. The scissor bag uses two Momo Half Moon Modern prints (the inside is orange polka dots) and a stitched design from Sublime Stitching's Craftopia pattern.  That's my new embroidery bag, which works out really well; for example, I wasn't quite finished with a project last night, so I put it (in the hoop), the floss and the needle all in the bag and zipped it up!  No little Eleanor paws will find that project!

The other bag uses two Stof prints and a Craftopia pattern as well.  This isn't a great picture, but you can kinda see the yarn ball in the bottom corner, which I thought was too cute with the sheep.  This is a knitting bag for my mom, which means that, officially, the holiday season has begun--this is the first Christmas gift of 2012.  Holy moly.  I want to make her an embroidery bag as well, but I think I'm going to wait for the new Aneela Hoey line Sew Stitchy, which you can see here.

I also got some embroidery done!  Are these macarons cute or what?  Even if Nick kept calling them hamburgers.  What a jerk.  Anyway, this is the Sweet Treats pattern package from Wild Olive, which can be found here.  This was incredibly easy to stitch; I used a backstitch for the macarons and the faces are cheater knots--I kind of just little little stitches to make them look like circles and knots.

These definitely aren't perfect, but I don't even care.  They're so cheery!

Hey guy!

What'd you make this weekend?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Why Everyone Needs a Hobby

I no longer read fashion magazines, but once upon a time they were my drug of choice.  Eight times a month I'd score, devouring each magazine until there was nothing left of it.  I knew all the fashion spreads, the latest beauty trends.  I knew what celebrities liked to do with their time off.  I lived for Glamour, Cosmo, Vogue, Elle.

But as I got older, I realized fashion magazines run the same articles over and over: how to please your man, how to lose three pounds, I escaped my abusive boyfriend using a paper clip and a text message.  One can only read these articles so many times before predicting the end and realizing one has wasted another $4.00 on a magazine.So I stopped reading them.

I think it also helped that I stopped reading these magazines right around the time I was developing actual hobbies: sewing, cooking, baking.  These magazines never talked about anything I was actually interested in, but rather focused on going out, drinking, what to do with your girlfriends and how to attract a man--four topics I don't have any need for in my life.  I started to feel as if these magazines were no longer meant for my eyes, and honestly, it wasn't offensive.  It was just time to move on.

Last year, though, I did start reading, because I'd loved Jane magazine, and it also seemed much more diverse than Slate or the Huffington Post.  The writers were real and weren't afraid of being a little harsh or un-ladylike.  I've been a big supported, sending emails to my friends and commenting when I felt the need.  I really enjoyed it!  After being ousted by so many women's magazines, it felt wonderful to read an article and actually agree with what the writer was saying, and not feel like I wasn't being the right kind of woman because I had a differing opinion.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hand Embroidery Wish List

Man, I have been so into hand embroidery lately.  I've never taken a class, but I owned Sublime Stitching once upon a time (like...ten years ago?  Eight years ago?  Whatever) and taught myself from there.  My mom even had the tea towels I made her on display when we were in Beaufort last month!  Moms are the best.

But, I gave it up once I started my last two years at Flagler, because I was a full-time student and working full-time.  Busy schedules just don't allow for crafting!  I actually didn't become interested again until last year.  I don't know what sparked it in me--boredom, maybe, or the need to spend more money--but I picked up some floss and a hoop and some patterns and just went to town.  And by "went to town," I mean, "started an apron and never finished."  Oh well.  Maybe I'll finish it in time for this fall?  Probably not.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Project 14: The Truffle Dress

I saw on a blog recently a quote: Done is better than perfect.  I think this dress really embodies that saying.

The sad thing is, I was so ambitious and so ready for this.  I've been holding onto this voile for months, knowing I'd make this dress with it.  I bought nice batiste lining from G Street.  I even cut out the pieces to make sure the stripes matched.  This has been planned and replanned.  Maybe that's its fatal flaw?  Perhaps I didn't plan for the failure.

And honestly, I think I'm being harsh when I say failure.  Does it fit?  Yes.  Does the zipper work?  Yes, and it's invisible, which is always a plus.  But I built this dress up in my head and of course it didn't work once it was done.  I put the pattern on a pedestal.


Pattern Description
Sleeve dress with darts, bodice lining and invisible zipper.  Pattern also called for a ruffle at waist.

Pattern Sizing
0-18.  I cut an 8 for the bodice and a 10 for the skirt.

Did it look like the drawing on the envelope when you were done with it?
I suppose, though I omitted the ruffle.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Well.  I followed the instructions, but still effed up majorly.  Once the invisible zipper was in and I'd sewn the side seams, I realized my straps were both twisted.  I had to rip out the side and shoulder seams in the bodice, try to restitch that mess correctly, and fix it.  Well, needless to say the shoulders are a hot mess because of it.  Oh, and then once I tried it on, I realized the shoulders were way too big, and I had to make them another 5/8" shorter.  (Really, they could've gone to 3/4", but I was so over it.)

What did you particularly like or dislike about this pattern?
The darts were my worst enemy.  Seriously, the first hour of sewing was just darts.  Now, I did add in a skirt lining, so that was an additional four darts.  But damn, I'd rather have gathering, and I hate gathering.

Also, at some point I could remember thinking, This looks easy enough!  Oh, how I came to regret those words...

Fabric Used
Anna Maria Horner voile.  I hoarded this stuff after buying it on sale at Del Ray Fabrics this past January.  It's really lovely, too, but the whole time I was sewing I worried about it.  I didn't want to have to toss it!

Oh, and I used a light blue batiste for the lining.


Pattern changes or alterations made
I didn't do the waist ruffle thing--I'm just not into that, and I didn't have enough fabric.  After the botched straps I kinda just went with it and figured no one would ever be close enough to see my stitching, so that just was messy.  Oh, and for the life of me I couldn't figure out the Colette instructions on attaching the lining to the zipper, so that was improvised too.

Would you sew it again?
Probably not.  It exhausted me.

Don't hype the pattern up--you'll only let yourself down.  Don't drink coffee at 9 AM and then stop eating until dinner--your anxiety will heighten.  Don't let your new machine get the best of you, and don't get annoyed with your mom--she's only trying to help.

So I'm exhausted from this, and then making dinner and a strawberry cake for dessert...I'd like my next project to just be simple.  Brainless.  Something I know I'll do well with because this was just too much.

What'd you sew over the weekend?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Projects for Friends

I don't really have too many girlfriends, nor do I have a close community of friends who sew--it's pretty much me and my mom, though my female relatives pretty much all sew.  Regardless, I'm not someone who has that community supporting me: I don't attending guild meetings or bees, and there isn't a LQS in DC to greet me with open arms.  Nothing in DC greets me with open arms.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Project 13: The Juliet Tunic

I need to get back on track with this to-do list!  The vacation set me back, and though I've been sewing, I've definitely focused on smaller, (more) instant gratification projects.  I love me some garment sewing, but a broken machine and a 600-mile road trip aren't the most forgiving situations.


We had a crazy storm yesterday that lasted hours.  I think the tornado warnings started around 2:30 and it finally ended when we went to bed right before midnight.  There were flash floods, rotation clouds, warnings, blah blah blah.  After I finished up my work, I decided to get to cutting.  I have a new machine that's barely broken in--okay, side note, it's my mom's machine from 2001, but it's new to me--and I have a stash that just keeps building.  Time to get to work!

So, I bring you...

The Juliet Tunic.

Pattern Description
Empire-waist sleeveless shirt in three lengths; this is the tunic length with a 1/2" hem.

Pattern Sizing
XXS - XL.  I went with medium.

Did it look like the drawing on the envelope when you were done with it?
Yes!  Well, they aren't drawings, the front is a picture of all different variations, but I think it's pretty true to the examples.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
While yes, they are technically easy to follow, they are confusing as hell in formatting.  This is a Serendipity Studio pattern, so there are bazillions of customizations to be made.  However, instead of bulletpointing these instructions (for waist ties, applique, what have you), they're just thrown in there with everything else.  It's a pretty basic pattern, but I pity the fool who chooses this for her first from-pattern garment.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I've decided I hate gathering around the neckline.  I love the effect under the bust, but around the neckline is just horrendous.

Fabric used
Denyse Schmidt Flea Market Fancy...again.  I told you, I'm a crazy person!

Pattern changes or alterations made
Serendipity Studio can get really out there with all the customizations, so I suppose I'm boring for sticking to the basic pattern.  I'm fine with that.  Oh, I used a 7" invisible zipper because I didn't have a 22".  I didn't have an issue with it, though.

Would you sew it again?
Meh.  Maybe!

Sorry for the crappy picture that shows my armhole facing.  I'm bad at this still.

So I promise I am getting back on track.  I have a bunch of fabric in the washers right now, including lining for my Colette Truffle.  That's next, I think.  It's June and I feel like I should be so much further along--gah!
Images by Freepik