Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wardrobe Plan for Sensitive Skin

The PR contest has inspired me to create a new wardrobe and since I'm experiencing a terrible case of ultra sensitive skin, I thought it would be a good idea to make some softer, more comfortable things. I have lots of fabrics that'll work in my stash, but I know I'll need a couple of loosely fitted patterns for bottoms. Click on the image below for a larger view of the plan.

I'll need to stick with natural fibers, preferably cotton, silk, viscose (otherwise known as rayon), some linens and hemp fabrics if they are not rough. Lyocell (alias Tencel) will also work. Of course, look for smooth, soft, silky fabrics (Yippee! A really good excuse for buying some wonderful quality new fabrics!)
Clothing should be loosely fitted, avoiding creases and folds in the material. Rigid seams, closures, pockets and accessories should be avoided in areas where there is more pressure... like at the hips, where my skin seems to be most irritated!

Most of my fabrics were stash fabrics. And much of it is either cotton or rayon. I found a nice silk twill and hope I have enough for a dress. The only iffy fabric is that orange mesh floral... it's soft, but isn't a natural fiber. I'll line it with cotton jersey. Those two dresses are extras that I wanted to make for comfort.
I only purchased 1.5 yards of a very soft cotton denim. But I will need to pick up 2 patterns for pants/skirts. No time to draft, this time of the year gets really busy.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Back to work!

The kids are finally settling into school so I can concentrate on my sewing. Work things first, so I finished up the curtains, made a few more, and made a simple shower curtain.

Now I can do my own stuff till more work comes in... So I went to Walmart, and found this really nice white stiff fabric which would be perfect for my bathroom curtains. It would also be perfect for making blinds. I want to use if for both the shower curtain and the curtain... here's whats there now.

Actually, my DH just took down the remnant for the window since it blocks too much light and is hard to open and shut. I don't blame him... we have no neighbors in the back.

I have tons of barkcloth scraps and am sewing a strip together for a nice decorative trim for both curtains. The cutting is the most tedious part, but I hope to have it done soon.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Squeezing in work during summer vacation

All my sewing time has been dedicated to work stuff lately and I'm feeling soo deprived. I've been squeezing in an hour or two at night, after the kids are in bed, but my poor old eyes don't last very long at that hour. The assignment for the week is 3 sets of tab top curtains lined with blackout. I'm almost done with the first set. Here's my workspace today...

My own bathroom still has NO curtains, so that will be the first thing I work on when I have more sewing time. Luckily, there are no neighbors in the back. Next job will have to be for me... A NICE shower curtain and some for the window too.

Maybe when the kids go back to school there will be more time so I'll be able to work and sew a few things for home as well.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Restoring granny's old Singer

Many years ago, I saved my granny's old Singer from certain death. She had two machines sitting in her house and I wish I had saved them both, but there was no room to keep them. So I brought home the one that was in better condition. It's been sitting for a long time, covered up with a plastic tarp in my mother's patio and I'm finally going to get to work on it. After a little bit of research, I think it's a Singer 15-30 treadle machine. It has a motor that looks like it was attached, but the cabinet still has the treadle base. Here's a picture of the motor we removed.

My son has taken it apart and cleaned most of the rusted parts, but left home to test the waters of independence when he finished school. I miss him. But anyway, the machine is in parts, not on it's treadle anymore, and NOW I want to restore it so it can be used. Here's what it looks like right now.

I know... the gold decal coloring is sadly no longer gold. But the machine was in really sad shape when we got it. It looks a whole lot better, though I will definitely do more cleaning.

These parts here were NOT silver.. they were covered with a light coating of rust. You couldn't see the designs. It took a lot of work, and there are spots in the plates where the rust has corroded the metal, but the designs are still visible. I wish we had a before picture of how badly damaged these were. Just imagine them brown with barely any designs... that was before.

I took pictures of the treadle part, but they didn't seem to look right... I'll try again later. Something was a bit odd about them. However, I'm pretty sure the treadle is in decent shape and can be restored. The cabinet top might need replacement. I'll post a pic when I get a good one.

My goal is to restore it as a working machine, not a display item. It was my granny's workhorse and she did a lot of sewing so I believe it wants to be useful again. It'll take me a long time to figure out how to get it cleaned up, hooked up, and working again since this is the first time I've done anything like this. But I'm excited and hoping it'll be working again soon.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


The lady I did the curtains for sent a picture. Everytime I see the finished product I think of getting to work on mine... then of course, something else comes up. Like more curtains.

Anyway, in a previous post, I showed how I did the pattern matching. Here's the finished curtains. You can also see the pillow shams I made. I'm glad she liked them.

Oh, if you're interested in purchasing this fabric, it's called Pauhana and can be found at Barkcloth Hawaii. That design is popular and one of my favorites too.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Bias tape maker machine

I could use one of these things! Does anyone have one?

Bias tape machine

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Matching patterns

These past few weeks, I've been working on making several sets of curtains, pillow shams, and tie backs for a client. And whenever I make curtains, there's usually pattern matching to do. It's a time consuming process, but well worth the effort as the seam comes out nearly perfect every time! I remember when I tried to do it the first time, my seams were quite obviously askew. I had to redo them. Since then, I've developed a very accurate way to match the patterns. This is how I do it.

First, match the print along the selvage edges, then trim off the selvage. In this pic the selvage is that white strip in the middle.

After trimming off the selvage edge, match the print and mark along the cut edge with pins. Here's a pic with the selvage removed, and the cut edge pin marked. You can see the pin heads here..

After marking with pins, measure twice the amount of the seam allowance. Here it's 1/2" seams, so I marked 1" below the pins.
Trim off the excess along the marks.
Now it looks like it doesn't really match anymore, but remember, there's a seam allowance. Lay them right sides together, pin along your 1/2" seam and check to make sure your print matches. Sew together using the 1/2" seam allowance. Place a few pins perpendicular to the seam in places where you want to make sure the fabric won't slip.
Check, finish edges, press your seams and voila! All Pau. Can you find the seam?
Here's a closer peek...
And that's all to it. It helps if you have a large flat surface to work on. I have to do it on the floor so the fabric can be spread out, but I usually have to work with large pieces.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Moulage 2nd draft

I'm trying again. Realizing I probably made some mistakes (probably from trying to take measurements alone in the middle of the night when I was tired and without a mirror), I did a more careful set of measurements in INCHES instead of using cm.

I found a few discrepancies in my first set, mainly that the measurement for my shoulder length was only 3 1/4". I had used the 10cm measurement given by KK in his book. Also, I found out that if I relaxed my shoulders, my end of shoulder measurement was now almost 1" less, and my figure width was reduced by 3/4" as well. That'll bring the BPs up for sure!
I also figured out a better way to get my across back measurement. Rather than distorting my body while trying to hold one end of the tape measure at the start point, I wrapped the tape measure around my shoulders and back, read the starting number at the first measuring point, and the ending number, then calculated what my back width was.

Okay... so here's the NEW moulage sloper I drafted.

The hip curve is still weird. But you'll see a huge difference in the shoulder slope and bust points. I'm not so saggy after all! LOL Now, I have to sew this one up and see if it's any better...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Zee Moulage ez constructed...

Boy... mine sure looks bad. But thanks to Ada on the PR message board, I think I can make it work. Here's what it looks like now...
ACK! I have no waist! I actually do have a little bit of waistline... it just doesn't show here. My bust points are way too low (my boobs are not that close to my waistline yet), and I think the armholes are a little too tight or something. Maybe it's the shoulders...

Now in the back, I need to adjust something... I think it's the slight sway back adjustment. I may have to add a little bit more space across the back.

Here's what I plan to try (thanks Ada!). Raise the bust points up by 1 1/2", straighten out the waist/hip side seam, take a tiny pinch at the small of the back for the sway back adjustment, shorten the shoulder length by 1/2", and maybe lower the shoulder point a little bit.

I need to remember that it's supposed to look like a sausage casing. I keep thinking it's too tight! Too tight! If you have any suggestions, please comment... I'd like to get this thing right.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

McCalls Jeans Done

I added a couple more pictures to the jalie post so you can see the side and back view of those jeans too.

These are fine, but I'm not as enthused about them as I was with the Jalie jeans. There's nothing really wrong with them... but I prefer the fit of the Jalie pattern.

I used most of rocketboy's tutorial, but when it came to sewing the waistband ends, I used the standard method. Here's a pic:

And the finished waistband:It really is a nice finish... Thanks Rocketboy! You can also see how I changed the shape of the pocket lining in order to get rid of that straight line across the thigh.

Here's what I do like about these.
There was NO gaposis in the back.
The pattern is easy to find at any sewing store. I picked it up at Walmart.
If you like a very relaxed fit, these will do. I altered the legs to make them flared.
Alteration lines are already drawn in on the pattern.

What I didn't like:
The yoke doesn't slant enough in the back. I think it makes me look wider across the hip.
The back pockets are too low. This one could easily be fixed, just shift it up a bit.
The zipper installation was not as easy as the Jalie pattern.
The zipper ends lower, and I think it looks a little odd. I'd raise the bottom of the opening up by about 1" if I made it again.
The front pocket openings curve too low. I think it would look much better if it were higher. Again, an easy fix, just draft the curve a little higher.
The pocket lining is only on the front piece. The back part is all denim. Jalie has a pocket lining piece that is denim and lining. The denim only covers above the pocket opening. McCalls piece is one piece, all denim. It's a bit bulky. I cut mine to curve a bit because the bulk left a line across my thigh. Not something I'd like to emphasize.

Although this pattern is meant to help you find the perfect fit, it doesn't include fitting instructions. You need to purchase the pants fitting book for that... hmmmm...

But they did come out pretty good. I'd recommend this pattern too if you like a relaxed fit for jeans. Just make sure you compare the measurements to your favs and cut the size closest to that after measuring the pattern pieces. Don't go by the measurement charts. Here are the pics of the finished jeans.
One last thing, these are my favorite sewing tools for making jeans. I use the hammer to flatten the seams when they're too thick to sew through. And the other one? I'm sure you can figure that out.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Moulage drafting

I started working on a new moulage since my measurements have expanded :( just a little. Yes, I plan to lose that extra inch, (right...) but till then, I want something true to my current measurements so I can work on things RIGHT NOW! LOL. Anyway, here's how it looks:

Mine looks a little odd and I'm wondering if I did it correctly. See the hip curve? It's not true to my measurements. If you look closely, you can see another line that goes inwards at the half hip line, then slopes back out to the hip. THAT'S the real line. It looked so odd that I decided to just draft a regular hip curve. I'll see how it turns out in the muslin.

Also, look at that weird shoulder... My first one had the same kind of strange lack of slope. My shoulder point is about 1/2" - 3/4" higher than the first shoulder line. Is that right?

I tried doing a trial one in 1/2 scale first and ended up with the same issues. Does anyone know if this is "unusual, but normal?"

I measured twice, but had to do it alone since my DH is DIY deficient, and my 5 year old would definitely be no help here. Anyone who could've been helpful was unavailable... Wish I had a sewing partner. I guess the muslin will be next and we'll just have to see if it's right...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Jalie Jeans DONE! LOVE EM!

I love 'em so much I'm planning on doing a few more for my daughters and myself... definitely. Now... I have to find more stretch denim in my stash since I promised not to buy more fabric for a while. Either that or I have to sew more stash and make all those other projects I have fabric for. And here they are!

These fit wonderfully. If I were tall and leggy, they'd look like the picture on the pattern... but for my shape (petite and big thighed), they are very flattering! After adding the extra to the side seams for my saddlebaggy thighs, I added even more (1") for fitting insurance. I'm so glad I did because these definitely would be unflattering for my fat thighs without the extra space. I like snug jeans, but I'd rather they glide over the bulges than hug them. I also added an extra 1" at the top of the waist in case they were too low. Which I felt they were when I tried them on before applying the waistband.

Once I put the waistband on, it was fine. I love this pattern! I think if I had chosen a bigger size, and made view B, I would've had a better fit to start with.

The gaposis problem I had with the jeans. Instead of making darts, I just redid the CB seam. I think when I retrace the pattern, I'll trace a bigger size in view B and make some other adjustments to the CB seam and the yoke piece.I used Rocketboy's tutorial on waistbands (you can find it on page 31 of the jeans sew along at Patternreview), but had cut the lining on the straight grain. Next time, I'll cut on the bias. I don't mind the straight band, rather than contoured, but I would like a little more give when I eat...

And that wonderful waistband application:

I have the McCalls pattern to do. I don't know if I'll like this one... it was much shorter in the back and I don't like to have anything showing back there... ewwwww... I did make adjustments, adding more to the back crotch length. And it also has 1" extra fitting insurance, so we'll see.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Undies again

I made a couple more undies. These use the original KwikSew 2908 pattern, but I reshaped them to make them lower on the hips. I don't want them to peek out of my jeans when I make the Jalie jeans.

First I used the original size Medium Bikini cut undie pattern and redrew the waist much lower. I made sure there was enough seam allowance for my elastic waist treatment. Here's the front and back patterns I made for the low rise bikini panty.

Then I retraced again so I could use a wide stretch lace waistband. I found my attempt on the last teal ones would show when I sat down. It was a little higher than I expected... I guess because of the stretch factor. When sewing these, I measured the elastic to start where I thought they'd be on the leg, then pulled a bit tighter. I hope it works out... at least these should be no show... And that's all I'll be doing on undies, unless I find more puka undies that need replacing. Or I find more good undies fabrics in my stash.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Detour... Undies

I got a little sidetracked this week and wanted to make some new undies. I'm trying to reduce stash and I just got rid of two remnants of soft knits by cutting out 4 pairs of undies. okay... now I can buy more! muwahhahahaha!!! NOT!

There's a panty sew along on and I was inspired to make some new undies (which I've been meaning to do, thus the knit remants in my stash). I used my TNT KwikSew 2908 pattern view B. I replaced the elastic waist with some stretch lace. I like the way wide stretch lace lays flatter against my skin than a regular elastic waist. There're fewer bulges that way.

Here's two that I finished tonite... tomorrow I'll finish up the other two before getting back to my jeans. I really needed new undies, and these are so much nicer and softer than the cheap Hanes stuff I usually buy. These are tencel knit, and I think the other set are rayon knits. Sooooo soft. Plus they don't dig into my hip with that bulky elastic bump at the side seam. I made a flat seam at the back of mines.

Here's a pic of the inside. On the instruction sheet, it doesn't say to tack the crotch lining down in the front, so it's usually left unsewn. I use a small zigzag stitch and secure it, otherwise I find that it curls.

No more Hanes for me. These are a quick fix for my sewing addiction. And they always fit just right.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Jalie or McCalls jeans? Alterations to both patterns

I'm so glad Spring break is over and I can finally get back to my sewing! Now that all the kids are back in school, and my workload is still very minimal, I can work on my jeans again.

Alterations have been finished on both pattern. Here's what I did after comparing each pattern to my favorite pair of Levis.

Jalie was the same in crotch measurements, so I'll start with this one first. I wanted a little more width in the upper legs and hip and considered tracing another pattern. Instead, I just added the extra generous 1/8" to the side seam from waist tapering to the knee. Most of my baggage is unfortunately located in the outer thigh, so that's where I added the space. If you click on the pictures, you can see the addition of blue alteration lines.

I also decreased the length by chopping off 4 inches from the botton. When I measured it out, the distance from crotchline to knee was pretty close to my measurements, so I made no length changes above the knee. I also made the adjustments necessary for the yoke/pocket/waistband pieces.

McCalls alterations are a little trickier. First I retraced a size 10 since 14 seemed way to big for stretch jeans. 10 was much closer in measurements to my Levis. After lopping off 4" from the hemline, I adjusted the back crotch length, adding 1 1/2" to make it a little closer in length to my Levis. I also tapered in 3/4" on both sides at the knee to add some shaping. This alteration was tapered from 2" below the crotchline to the knee, then back out to 0 at the hem. I added a generous 1/8" to the sideseams for a little extra space at the hip to waist. Thigh measurements were actually close enough that I didn't feel I needed to make any adjustments. Again, if any adjustments affected the pocket pieces and yoke, I made those as well. Click on the pics below and you'll be able to see the blue adjustment lines.

Yippee! We're getting to the good part.

Ready.... set..... CUT!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Jalie Jeans or McCalls?

The new Jalie Stretch jeans pattern just came out and I've been wanting to sew a new pair of jeans. I had started tracing the McCalls pattern a few weeks ago, but decided to wait on cutting them out when I heard about the new Jalie pattern.

Here's a look at the front and back pieces of both patterns. If you click on the picture, you'll have a better view of the differences between the two patterns. The McCalls patterns have 1" seam allowances, but even after tracing those in, you can see a significant difference in size. This is before any alterations were done. I went with the size charts and tried to trace the one that matched my measurements closest. Jalie pattern size T matched waist and hip measurements perfectly, while McCalls size 14 pattern was within 1/2" of my waist and hip. However, after tracing the two patterns and laying the Jalie pattern on top the McCalls one, you can see there's a significant difference not only in style, but in sizing! And yes, both require STRETCH DENIM. For a minute, I thought the McCalls pattern was for non-stretch denim... but nope, it lists both regular denim and Stretch denim, and there is a stretch meter on the side of the package. Hmmm...

In comparison, the Jalie pattern is much more fitted from waist to knee. The rise is a bit lower in front, and the center front slants at a slightly greater angle. It is also much closer in angle to my favorite pair of jeans.
The CB seams on both appear to have a bigger wedge cut out than my favorite pair of jeans, though both angles are very close.

Okay. So then I compared the measurements from both patterns to my favorite pair of jeans, and because the McCalls pattern seemed way too big, I included size 10 and 12 as well... here's how they fared (Favorite jeans, area measured, Jalie, McCalls 10, McCalls 12, McCalls 14):

7 3/4" (Front crotch:) 6 3/4" , 7 3/4", 8 1/8", 8 1/4"
12 3/4" (Back crotch:) 12 3/4", 10 1/4", 10 1/2", 11 1/8"
37 3/4" ( Hip:) 37", 37", 38 1/2", 40"
23 1/4" (Thigh around crotch line:) 23 1/4", 23 1/2", 24", 25 3/4"
22 1/4" (2" below crotch line - around the saddlebag): 21 1/2", 22 1/2", 23 3/8, 24 1/2"
15" (knee): 15 1/4", 19", almost the same as size 10
17" (leg opening): 20 1/4", 19 -20" for McCalls sizes

I did NOT take into consideration basic length measurements as those can easily be adjusted. So far, Jalie seems to be closer to what I'd want to wear.

Next post: Alterations

Thursday, March 26, 2009


I spent last month sewing uniforms for the high school band and for a chorus group. What a lot of work... but now there's nothing for me to work on, just a few alterations. I wish my work was a little more steady, but I suppose these breaks give me a chance to catch my breath and work on things for my own family. And I can catch up on my housework.

Plans for this coming month (when I have slow periods):

Work on a suit for my daughter
Try out the new Jalie Jeans pattern
Make new business cards

Hopefully, the chorus group will have a picture to show so I can post it here...

HAHAHAHa I just reread my 2009 resolutions and had to laugh. Okay... lets get back on track. I'm going to put them in a list on the side of this page so I can see them every time I write a blog entry. I haven't followed it much, except for not buying more fabric and using my stash.

Monday, February 2, 2009

2008 Handmade Christmas gifts

This fabric covered box is made with a simple shoebox, some spray adhesive, and some leftover fabrics in my stash. I put in a few hair clips, a styling brush and some hair bands and gifted it to my 9 year old niece. My sister says she uses the box to carry around all kinds of other stuff, but her hair goodies are all over the bathroom. Oh well... so much for helping her get her hair things organized. I will post a How To when I make the next box. I think I will make a few to organize my own things...

Inspiration for the next gift came from a well loved toy (BunnyBuns) that my 13 year old daughter is still holding on to. This lovey was adopted from an older sister and has even been traveling to Japan.

Here's the lovey made for my niece (14 months). I hope she will love it as much as BunnyBuns. The pattern is very old and no longer available but in case you'd like to search for it on ebay, it's McCall's Craft pattern 3760. I used it many years ago in an attempt to replace old BunnyBuns. Of course, that bunny just couldn't take old BB's place and has since been donated to Goodwill.

I also made a binder cover using Pokemon fabric for my 9 year old nephew and filled it with those plastic collector card holders, but I don't have a picture. I used the same basic instructions for making a journal cover. You can find them here: Instructions for making Journal Covers
I also gave a few Journals away as gifts, as well as car seat organizers to my sibs. They are finding them very useful. And you can see them in my AirMama makeover post.

So since this year's gifts were a success, my family will be receiving more handmade gifts in 2009. And this time I will start earlier. I already have some ideas.

Traveling vest for mom
Backsaver Handbag (with organizing pockets) for my sister
Quilt for my daughter (she moved into a new apartment this year... I miss her)
Quilt with thinsulate batting for my son (he will be moving to Minnesota in a few weeks and I know I'll miss him too)

And of course, I still have to think of gifts for all the other kids in my family.... like DH.