One good thing

The last few weeks have been worse than normal .  The pain has dulled every sense and dragged my disposition a bit into the dumps.

I had started to get quite grumpy about not being able to sew….but!, as I always try to find a detour to my roadblocks I think I came up with one.  If I can not get down to the sewing table and finish cutting that Ginger skirt out,  I will get my own Look Book started.

I will get pictures and textures and things that I love and and think about what are the top five things I really want in my wardrobe.  Not anything to do with a sew-along or contest, or even what someone says is the “must-have” for Fall.  Just me.  Five pieces that I really want to wear.  Then, I can pluck through my favorite fabric sites and find the perfect match for my list. If I can not move too much, I can still  imagine different dart placements and fabric pairings and take the time to organize my projects.

I may not be able to sew just yet but my mind will always work….so I must give it something to do. I will give myself a project that makes me look forward to something, keeps me occupied and maybe by the time it is done I will be ready to get those pieces cut!

Take care!  I will be back soon and share my five “must haves”!

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My Christian Dior Lace Inspired Project

So, I became obsessed with a Threads article (I think January 2013) about a Christian Dior Lace dress.

InsideDior_lgHere it is.  It really is not my typical cup of tea…in fact, I have never owned or worn a lace dress.  But for some reason, I had to make it. Claire Shaffer did an amazing job detailing all of the design issues; how the seams were overcast on the edges and it made me keep thinking “I could do that!”

I could not find any pattern whatsoever that even remotely resembled something like this.  It has a bodice, dropped waist yoke and then a 3/4 flounce.  I had no idea what I was getting into so I studied non stop for three months about pattern draping/making and drafted a muslin, that fitted nicely and had the lines and flow I wanted.  I set about understanding how to back your lace with organza and here was the start; this is my bodice INSIDE OUT so you see the back darts, the centered invisible zipper (cute, huh?, it is lace from ZPRZ I think).

dior2I got a bit ahead of myself.  Underneath all of this lace is a slip.  Two layers, one of nude chiffon and a second of black chiffon.  The mix of the two softens and serves as a slip that does not overtake the lace dress. Here are some shots of the slip.  If you are wondering why the straps look like an awful color, oddly enough this color provides the perfect camouflage and can not be seen under the dress. It is a gauze fabric from Mood.

dior4dior3aSo, the dress came together somewhat successfully, although I am sure I need more practice on the seams and attaching the “undulating” yoke and flounce! But you know what, I learned a heck of a lot and that is what we are doing this for right?  Passion, learning, and then having a finished product that we love, and at the same time see our glaring mistakes! 🙂

dior5dior6Here she is.  I think everything turned out as I wanted but I do have to mention that I meant to split the lace ruffle and sew it along the seam as the original dress was done….BUT, it is done.  BTW, it is August 7th at 2:25 p.m. and I made Top 5 in the Threads Magazine contest!! Yeah, how exciting!

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Hawthorne Sew Along

26 days after my muslin, I am finally posting a few photos of my Hawthorne, I have more on my Flickr page.

Notes on a Needle

hawthorneAfter looking at what seems like hundreds of fabric samples (and buttons!), I finally decided on a Hugo Boss shirting that is a really surprising mix of charcoal grey and dark purple.  It is a great weight and drapes well.   It looks kind of plain but when you get up close, look

 

This photo of the cuff on my 3/4 sleeve really showcases the beauty of this fabric close up and the button.  They are actually clear but pick up the colors of the pattern and I think dress it up and make it more feminine.

hawthorne cuffI did a “patch” method bound buttonhole,,,wow, a lot of work but I learned a lot from this process.  I had a copy of Threads magazine that really clearly stepped me through this special buttonhole process, this probably took me two days off and on!  My thumb looks really weird–sorry for that!

hawthorne bound buttonhole

 

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Hawthorne Sew Along

hawthorneAfter looking at what seems like hundreds of fabric samples (and buttons!), I finally decided on a Hugo Boss shirting that is a really surprising mix of charcoal grey and dark purple.  It is a great weight and drapes well.   It looks kind of plain but when you get up close, look

 

This photo of the cuff on my 3/4 sleeve really showcases the beauty of this fabric close up and the button.  They are actually clear but pick up the colors of the pattern and I think dress it up and make it more feminine.

hawthorne cuffI did a “patch” method bound buttonhole,,,wow, a lot of work but I learned a lot from this process.  I had a copy of Threads magazine that really clearly stepped me through this special buttonhole process, this probably took me two days off and on!  My thumb looks really weird–sorry for that!

hawthorne bound buttonhole

 

Here is my muslin…did not see any fitting issues but I also can not gain even one pound in July. More to come on putting this together…there are some interesting challenges with this pattern as I am doing the sleeve/placket/cuff version.

hawthorne muslin

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Life with Trigeminal Neuralgia

After five years my daughter still asks me “what is the name of your awful thing”?  She is referring to Trigeminal Neuralgia and it is awful, but it has changed my life in so many ways.  My Neuralgia began in an atypical way, when a firework came back down from space and hit my eye. Many years, surgeries, 12 MRI’s and kooky neurologists later,,,,,I am alive.  Different but alive.  This disease pulled everything I knew out from under my feet.  My job, friends, way of life–they all ended.  But I feel like that nature show that describes what happens after a forest fire.  The earth is charred, knotted and black and somehow a miracle happens and shoots of tender green struggle past the decay to find sunlight and fresh air.  Slowly but surely life begins; it looks and acts differently but it is life and it is cherished.

I struggled for years hoping the surgeries and treatments would work and I have finally realized that I can still hope for this pain to subside but I must live FULLY in the meantime.  I credit cognitive behavioral therapy, a great pain med doctor and the love and support of my family whose faces I see every time I want to quit.

I will not write often about the pain (part of CBT) but if anyone needs to chat about dealing with this, I will be happy to help.

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Happy Feet

In the hours spent looking at sewing tutorials I have read many comments about specialty feet and how afraid everyone is of using them.  I love my walking foot (for stretch fabrics) and ruffler foot (as mentioned in my “Patterns that work” post) so I wanted to share this post so that others everyone else can take advantage of these ‘happy feet!’  The photos will be showing the walking foot: here is the deal, yes they are $30-40 but if you plan on making more than 5 knit apparel pieces in your life, the foot will pay for itself in saved material and frustration (what is that worth?).

Here we go:20130618-102625.jpg

I am using a ball point needle as suggested by the many sources I researched BUT I still get puckering across grain despite adjusting tension!  What I will show you below is the installation of the WALKING FOOT.  Used by quilters to move multiple layers with ease BUT is also a gem when using a material with stretch. Why?  Because this large and (soon to be “un”) intimidating foot instantly creates a set of feed dogs on top of the material thus pulling it up and working in synch with the needle to stop those nasty puckers!

The star of today’s post:

20130618-102744.jpgThe walking foot.  I am using my fancy chopstick pointer to show you one of the two important things to know about this foot, the bracket that will wrap around your sewing machine shank and screwed on. (Do not worry, I will explain below.)  The second thing to note is the long, white piece to the right of my pointer running parallel to the foot.  This is the part that MUST be placed above the needle screw in order for this foot to work.  See, the needle screw moves up and down each and every time a stitch is sewn. This bar above  the screw is essential…it allows the foot to work in concert with the lower feed dogs and of course, the needle.

20130618-102710.jpgThis is my (horizontal shank) machine.  My regular foot has been removed.  Take your foot off and look at your machine, locate the screw and find the screwdriver key that came with your machine or a screwdriver as we need to unscrew this grey piece called the “foot holder”.

20130618-102728.jpgThis is my machine without the foot holder.  KEEP THE SCREW HANDY as we will be reusing it for the walking foot.  The first time you do this, you may ask for an extra pair of hands just to ease the comfort level but it is certainly not necessary.  Grab your foot, screwdriver and screw…..

20130618-102759.jpgOk, remember the two things that are important to installing this foot?  I am pointing (top third of photo) to the long white shank.  Hold this shank with your right hand and the bracket (first picture) with your left hand.  If it seems tight lower your needle slightly so that the needle screw is also lower and there is space for this shank.  I think this is the part that seems really awkward at first, but do not worry.  With the shank above the needle screw move the foot around to make sure the bracket is around the foot holder, see just behind my needle?  Let go of the foot with your left hand (still holding on with the right) and grab the screw.  You may need to make minor movements with the foot so that you can see the hole for the screw–it will be in between the two brackets of the walking foot, let’s look-

20130618-102815.jpgI am now screwing the foot on my machine and if you look at the top third of the right edge of the photo, you are able to see that shank above the needle screw.

I still use a ballpoint needle for knits and watch my tension but you are going to see an immediate difference.  Grab a scrap of knit, if you are a bit freaked out, put the speed on slow and just try it.  In my experience this foot transforms knits into a regular woven cotton.  Here is my test sample from above and you will notice a nice, EVEN stitch below my first try… this is the walking foot stitch!

red knit

YEAH, that’s what I am talking about!!  Happy?

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Patterns that make sense- Part Two

When I found this beautiful Versace cotton and silk blend, the pattern really took me by surprise and I thought it would be properly showcased in the dress form of Laurel by Colette.  I decided on (under) lining with a silk georgette.  Because the pattern design, I decided against sleeves.  One of the options I really liked is the small ruffle neckline but I simply could not manage to baste and gather the length necessary (it kept shredding).  So….I went on a scavenger hunt for a ruffler foot.  It is a weird, clunky foot that looks intimidating but really is not.  Just like the walking foot, the bar has to go under the horizontal needle screw.  I will do a post on this later, for now I have a pic of it on my Flikr account “notesonaneedle”.   I slipstitched the arm & neckline binding as well as the hem.  It took a bit more time but it really was worth it.ImageImage

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