Nov 252014
 

In my effort to perfect the neckband, I have made recently about 6 iterations of the Jalie 2805 t-shirt, albeit some not finished. The neckbands failed on all of them.

dickey

I am so committed, however, that not only did I use a fabric I hated and had been planning to throw out, I then took the excess and cut out just enough to have a neckline so I could practice the neckband. It’s like a yucky little polyester ITY dickey. And I plopped it in the trash right after taking this photo.

I wish I could say it got better every time, but it doesn’t. But I keep trying. As Kenneth D. King said, “you should expect to destroy several acres of fabric before you get good.”

Nov 222014
 

Not necessarily rational, as I’ve recently made — at least to some degree — 6 iterations of the T-shirt I’d want this for (Jalie 2805) and had trouble with the neckband every time. What’s worse is that they haven’t gotten progressively better. And I still have a few fabrics to go through if I want to keep trying this pattern.

But what if I do perfect the neck band, and this gorgeous thing is sold out when I’m ready for it? Plus, at the same time I could order the solid color rayon-lycra blend I want in sky for the neckband for one of the partly-finished pieces. Then again, I could just sew through what I have, and be done with it. It’s not as though I need any gorgeous designer-looking pieces, even if I could hope to achieve them one day. Grrr…. I think I actually did a decent job on one a few years ago. Wish I could recall what I did differently.

Well, I’ll give it a few days…. See how the next neckband comes out, and whether this stuff is still available…

French scrapbook montageEOS

Nov 122014
 

Head in HandsSo I was working on my third iteration of Jalie 2805 of the past week — yes I was bored and I have tons of fabric and none of them are very good.

Anyway, I did something boneheaded. Twice in a row. (Now that I think about it, I did something similarly boneheaded with one of the others… also twice in a row.)

Rather than say it’s just because my brain is broken, I’ll cling to the notion that this was an honest mistake: after all, as sewists, we are used to looking at the insides/”wrong” sides of the fabric, so our seams don’t show. “Pin and sew right sides together,” right?

Well, I had completed all my seams and turned my top right-side out to try it on, then topstitched a sleeve. Unfortunately, I had neglected to turn it back inside-out first, so turned up the wrong side of the fabric to the right side and blithely top-stitched. Ugh. Felt pretty foolish. Luckily — in this instance, at least —  I have short arms, and had only cut off a moderate amount from the sleeves before the initial topstitching. Anyway, I cut off the sewn bit and shortened the other sleeve to match (roughly, since this is still considered a “wearable muslin.”) Why not pick it out instead? I had topstitched with a triple-stitch and had no hopes of unpicking it without ruining the fabric and what’s left of my sanity). So at worst, this shirt will have what they call “bracelet sleeves.”

But wait, there’s more! Right after I did the sleeves properly, I somehow made the same mistake on the hem as I’d made on the first sleeve. I got halfway through it before realizing my mistake, and again, had no hopes of unpicking my firmly entrenched stitches. So I cut off the bottom front, which is the part I’d stitched, and wondered if I could get away with keeping the back a little longer. Well, I briefly entertained the idea of getting out my set of French curves and attempting to “do it right,” but these rayon lycra knits are so finicky. Either that, or I’m doing something wrong, but I did not see any scenario in which anything close to perfection could happen. I hadn’t been working that way from the beginning, and I wouldn’t have really known what to do.  And besides, the messy look is in, right? At least it was last year, judging by some of the slouchy looks I recall of J Crew’s so-called “perfect fit tee.” So I did my quick-best, and we’ll see.

I am still not sure the neckband wouldn’t benefit from topstitching, but don’t want to press my luck — it’s barely OK as it is. So I’ll wash it and wear it once first, and see what happens. If the inside edges keep popping out and showing their ugly parts, maybe I’ll try topstitching it. I could certainly use the practice. But I could probably use some guidance too. Just too lost to even formulate my questions yet, if you know what I mean.

Nov 102014
 

Anonymous_light_bulbOne of my many sewing-related bugaboos is sewing the neckband on a t-shirt. I’ve actually done it twice pretty well, but that was years ago. Recent trials were unseemly. Not that I tried very hard, but it seems that all the effort in the world still might yield tucks where I don’t want them. And even removing basting stitches seems to be an effort with the stretch knits I’ve been using.

Anyway, I did a Google search, and started watching a  random video tutorial on attaching neckbands to T-shirts. I didn’t watch the whole thing, and I won’t follow all the instructions because I am still inclined to use the neckband pattern piece provided with the pattern. However, she made it look so easy to lay out the neckline that it gave me an idea: I think I have been putting on the neckband after sewing the sleeves and side seams, and it dawned on me while watching this that it could be much easier to attach the neckband right after the shoulder seams, and before the rest of the seams.  Should make it much  easier to find the “quarter marks” and pin everything, I would think. So I will try that next.

Epilogue: Well, maybe it was easier that way, but the neckband is still going terribly. I followed Jalie’s instructions of only using two pins and hoped for the best, and it did not go well. At least the basting was not too hard to unpick, but something went wrong somewhere… I’m so annoyed I’m not sure what I did in what order, but in any case, I unpicked the basting stitches. Then maybe I made some more mistakes… and put the mess aside to think about tomorrow. I zig-zagged the edges at some point, and think I even did a smaller, final (oops) stitch after that, thinking I could magically fix the little glitches left after the zigzagging. Ha. Yeah, right.

This time I have not even cut out the sleeves yet, because it was getting fussy trying to to eke out what I needed out of my small pieces of fabric, and I figured I’d toss the project if the neckline failed. Again, not my favorite piece of fabric, of course. But at least I have killed some time and some stash…✁

Sewing badly…

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Nov 052014
 

 

maggie london tee

Did I mention I’m a beginner and I haven’t sewn in a while?

If the goal was merely to get back in my sewing room and do stuff, then it was a resounding success. The garment itself? Not so much.

That’s OK. I’ll try not to be too depressed at the reminders that some knits are curly and hard to work with. I’ll try not to get depressed over the reminder that attaching the neckband is not nearly as easy as they make out (just 2 pins, really???), especially when one is reckless about it.

I’ll try to benefit from the experience, e.g., the fact that I had to cut the neckband at least three times because the first TWO times I sewed it right sides together. DUH.

I’ll try not to get upset about how hard it is to unpick stitches when things go wrong (no, I did not try to unpick the neckband, which was zigzagged, and would have been madness. This was a different part). And I’ll make an extra effort not to have to unpick stitches in thin lycra-blend knits.

OK, I had already ruined the garment before attaching the neckband, so I decided to see how little effort I could get away with… Live and learn, right?

I’ll consider it a muslin, because after all, I have changed shape and size since the last time I used this pattern (the famous

Topstitching would help, but since the shirt was ruined anyway, I didn't bother

Topstitching would help, but since the shirt was ruined anyway, I didn’t bother

Jalie 2805 t-shirt pattern). Plus I had already poked a hole in it trying to pick out some stitches, which is probably why I was so cavalier about the crazy way I put the neckband on (which, btw, not only requires more than 2 pins, IMHO, but some top-stitching as well, also in my equally oh-so-humble opinion. Unless I’m just doing it wrong).

It was also a good reminder to be careful backstitching (or avoid when possible) on stretch jersey…. tends to get eaten by machine.

I’ll also consider it an opportunity to practice my finishing skills: I never did get the double cuff stitching right last time. I’ll spend time with it this time (note after the fact: oops, no I didn’t), even though with the way the neckband is, I probably won’t even be wearing this thing around the house. Well, good, then. It’s really a practice piece now… and one less item in my overgrown stash. Ahem.

Oh, and as if I hadn’t had enough Three Stooges moments, I really shone when winding the bobbin yesterday. I did get out the manual and try to read the instructions, but got bored in an instant. As a result, I left out a crucial step and now there is a lot of thread wound under the bobbin seat, or whatever it’s called, and I don’t know how or if that will ever come off. I did have a loose end and was patiently unwinding it, but I guess my patience may have worn out or the piece broke on its own. In any case, knock wood, but the bobbin seemed to wind OK after that anyway.

Needless to say, this was not  my favorite piece of fabric, and not a look I might even want to wear in public. I know better than that ;) So…. practice, practice, practice. I do wonder how I’ll get the neckline right. Perhaps I’ll read some more reviews on PatternReview; I know there is at least one reviewer who mentioned a better way, and that was years ago, so maybe there are more by now.

Since the garment was ruined anyway, I practiced my twin needle skills: bad.  In, fact, just sewing the hem with a single needle was messy enough. Stupid curl made it hard to measure all the way around, and the sewing itself was ridiculous. I don’t like topstitching knits, or at least not ones with lycra. Maybe it is time for some research. Maybe I need to look into the “banded hem and cuffs” approach.

Wow.

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Sep 142014
 

silkpanel_paisley

Thankfully, I have no need for this, because it’s as pricey as it is…. “wow.” I could totally envision a kimono or robe or nightie or… and no, I am not shilling on purpose. I just think it’s gorge.

Not even sure why I am looking at that site. I have waaay too much fabric, and am not even sewing these days (long story). Besides, silk? I’ve sworn off dry cleaning.

 

Feb 202014
 

I have plenty of sewing projects queued up, but unfortunately I’m still in no condition to tackle them.

So in the interim, I’m screwing around on the web and shopping a bit too much. These are not what I was looking for, but they certainly caught my eye:

Screen Shot six inch cavalli heels

Not that it’s relevant, but the size equivalencies for these shoes do not even account for my size. Huh? 36= US 6, 37= US 7? That doesn’t seem right at all, but maybe Cavalli wasn’t banking on many picky petite customers… That, or whoever wrote the size equivalencies was wearing a pair of these, and concentrating too hard on trying not to topple over.

I pointed out the lack of 6 1/2′s to DH. His reply: “Meh. It’s not as though you’d be going for comfort in these anyway.”

He also noted that, for the price, one could buy two iPad minis (one for each foot, of course). (For the purposes of full disclosure, why, yes! He does own Apple stock.)

Me, I’d skip both the masochistic shoes and the gratuitous iPads, and let the hypothetical spare $893 ride for a bit…

OTOH, a week or so ago, when I was toying with the idea of spending my unexpected birthday money on something ridiculously out of our price range, I had my eye on these, among other things:


I’ve never actually tried this brand, but I like what I’ve seen online so far.

Sep 092013
 

Since I haven’t been sewing, I ordered a bunch of lounge clothing from Victoria’s Secret.

Included was a pair of Long Jane pajamas:

Screen shot long janes

Cute, right? That’s the model, btw, not me.

Unfortunately, either I chose the wrong size, or the waistband is just ridiculously wide. I suspect it’s a little of each. At any rate, because I neglected to try on the PJs before washing them, it’s my error, so I’m not going to return them. Besides, I’d like to see how they fare over time (aside from the waistband, which is hopeless). Maybe I can try a pair of a smaller size later on.

So, I thought I’d try to remove the waistband and either shorten it or replace it altogether. I knew it wouldn’t be easy with all the stitching. But boy, what a mess. A seam ripper just won’t do. The thermal knit fabric is stretching and shredding a little, I think.

I’m thinking of cutting the waistband off. I don’t know whether the elastic could be salvaged if it’s cut, but I have more. I might also have some fabric suitable for a new waistband covering. But I’ll wait til tomorrow (at least — no hurry) when there is more light, and maybe reevaluate. Maybe I’ll even ask the gals at PatternReview.com for input.

Surprisingly, the pants might actually be high enough in the rise to be salvageable after the inevitable loss of the seam allowance during the removal process.

Or there’s the trash, but they were a little pricey for that, and I actually have the time to experiment before resorting to that.

A dress?

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Aug 142013
 

I’m not stashing fabric these days, but it’s still fun to look. This new arrival at Emma One Sock almost makes me wish I still wore dresses… and sewed better, or at least faster… and didn’t have a backlog of fabric and projects. Oh heck, I haven’t touched my sewing machine in far too long.

Purely hypothetical then, but I think it might look pretty groovy as a long- or elbow-sleeve minidress. Would have to be lined, of course.

Otherwise, the print is far too large for me, so a top is out. And my mini-dress days are long since over (she thought, primly). ✁

Sew recklessly

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Jul 252013
 

Weaned on environmentalism, I have historically had trouble throwing things away. While this type of thinking has its merits, it has also hindered me. Late in life, I am learning to compromise. I do try to be careful about what I acquire and how I dispose of it, but not to the point of paralysis.

I had been thinking that as soon as I am able, I should start sewing through my stash with reckless abandon. After all, I need practice, and I have a lot of fabric I don’t love. Who knows? Maybe if I chuck them in the Goodwill bin, some of my practice projects will actually find a loving home one day. In any case, the fabric is not doing anyone any good aging in the closet, and it’s making me anxious.

So it was encouraging to run across this quote from Kenneth D. King:

perfectionism is a disease, and a form of fear! When learning the craft of sewing … you should expect to destroy several acres of fabric before you get good.