Monday, July 25, 2011

A whole new home, in less than 7 days!

It has been a whirlwind week! Last Monday, we decided we needed to move. This was due to a whole host of issues, but the deciding factor was that James has decided to go back to college and work on getting his degree. None of the colleges in our small coastal town offered computer courses, so it was back to the big city! Well, near a big city anyway. :)

We decided to see what the rental market looked like, so on Tuesday we hopped in the car and drove 3 hours to Albany, Or., with rental list and phone numbers in hand. We liked 2 places, and so we applied to both. Surprisingly, Wednesday morning, the place we liked best called and said we were approved (that was FAST!)
We went ahead and put in our 30 day notice at the current place. The landlord said if we moved before the 1st of August, we wouldn't have to pay any money for next month pro-rated at ALL! So that saved us about $350 if we moved within a week or so.

Thursday we came back to Albany and signed all the paperwork and payed the move-in fees and got our keys, and reserved a U-haul for Saturday. Friday we packed the whole house, it was near nonstop packing all day until bedtime.
Saturday my dad came up in the morning, and helped load the U-haul. He couldn't stay for the unloading though, so we drove the 3+ hours to Albany, got here around 5 pm, and James and I unloaded everything ourselves Saturday evening. Poor Liz was bored stiff during the loading, and miserably hot in the car with me on the drive down, but she got to go and play outside in the new fenced yard while we unloaded, so that helped. :)
We got most of the house unpacked and put away Saturday by about midnight, and I went to bed. Sunday, we unpacked everything else, and James even got all the pictures hung up. Today, we took the U-haul back, and got all of the utilities transferred and set up. What a week!!!

And so, please take a brief tour with me of our new place. First, Liz's room:

I managed to finish sewing up some lovely curtains last night as well. My friend Jillian had sent these to me mostly sewn up. I just had to even them out in size, finish the edges, and hem the bottoms. We don't have a curtain rod yet, but will get one this week sometime.
I like them so much, I'm trying to figure out how to get curtains for the living room, now. They really improve the look of a room.

Next up, our room. It's pretty sparse, since we don't spend much time in there. I think we need a few posters, just so it doesn't look so much like a monastic cell, lol.

We do have the most gorgeous closets, though. Mirrored, and 2 full closets! No more fighting for closet space. :)

Honestly, these pictures make the living room look downright cluttered, but it is so open and spacious! There is a good 6 feet of empty room between the TV (not pictured, it is off to the left) and the couch. And for the first time in ages, all of our books have are on a bookshelf, and all of my Disney figurines are out. James made his little nook in the corner, books and computer ready for college!

Oh, and let us not forget...the gas fireplace. Not that we'll need it anytime soon, lol, but this winter, I know it'll be a wonderful thing. :)

Looking at our decor, I realize we are a bit eclectic. Also not pictured are the large medieval paintings and the beautiful tapestry of Ireland, but you can see we have some Asian influence, and quite a lot of celtic and medieval, with a touch of Africa (the drums) and even a bit of Native American, with a sprinkling of Disney, lol.

And for the first time since we were married, we have a real dining area! So our nice but tiny dining table has a place. Of course, I was sewing on it the night before, but it cleans up easily and quickly for dinner.

Clearly, this will serve not only as dining room but as my sewing area, as well as a play area for Liz. She loves her toy kitchen, so she can play there while I sew.
I am happy to have my 1954 antique dress form out on display, as well as in a great place for actual sewing use and for pictures. The sliding glass door gives great light, and there is a LOT of room on the dining floor for laying out and cutting. Not a true sewing room, but it'll work well.

We do need some dining chairs though, for when I'm NOT sewing in here, but that'll come after the washer/dryer. :)
Oh and look, we have a ceiling fan!

There is a mirrored closet in the hallway with the water heater tucked back inside it, but someone installed shelves on the right half. Since there is a linen closet with plenty of space inside the bathroom itself, I actually got this closet to unpack and organize (sort of) my fabric and other sewing things!

So this is all of my fabric stash, it's pretty decent. The 7 largest pieces are sheets, but they are all nice ones (except one which will be used as muslin). I also have 8 pillowcases in there, which I can use as accents or smaller things for Liz. A large portion of the nicer fabrics here were gifts to me from my mother in law, and from 2 other very generous people who have become good on-line friends. :)

As I organized everything by color, I realized I have almost as much blue fabric as all the other colors (baring whites/browns/tans, which I also have a lot of) combined. As you can see the red, orange, yellow and pink is all stacked together, with only 1 or 2 pieces of each of those colors. I guess it's pretty clear my color preference leans towards the blue/green purple end of the spectrum.

At any rate, I also got my notions, iron, all my sewing books, crochet box, and my patterns (in the file box on the lower left), all in the same space. I have never had everything unpacked and easy to get at and go through. I love it already!!

I sort of skipped over the kitchen, but it is big and lovely. Lots of storage, tons of counter space, and a stove that I'm guessing is as old as I am! lol. It's a GE, and it works great, I think it is at least 30 years old, and it adds character to the place. I love old stoves, I do not know why.
Last but most certainly not least, here is the little fenced yard. It isn't huge, but it's big enough for plenty of plants, and outdoor dining. The cat just LOVES the chance to get outside. James made sure there were no cracks he could ninja through, so it is nice and safe. Also, Liz is enjoying having a place to go outside and play. Another thing on our list, an outdoor toy for Liz. For now though, it a nice place to sit in the evening when the heat starts to die down.

There are a lot of trees all around the condo's, so the entire area is very shaded all day long. It's such a beautiful neighborhood. There is a nice children's park close-by, a grade school, and not too far away a whole host of shopping. You have no idea having lived on the coast for years, having a Safeway and a variety of other shops (including a large Jo-anns!)just 2 miles away is amazing! :D

Well, it's been a rough, busy week. but we really love our new place. It really feels more like a home instead of just a crummy apartment. I hope we get to stay here through all of James' schooling. I hope my disability benefits aren't cut next week. :/ I'm scared and elated, and basically exhausted. Time for a few days rest, then back to sewing. Next up, one of the nicest fabrics I've ever sewn, the turquoise brocade dress for Liz.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Picking flowers....on the way to a Star Trek Convention?

Have you ever sewn something that you really like, but that looks nothing like you expected it to?
I just finished making Simplicity 3588 for my daughter, out of the same -nightmare to work with- pale gold poly charmeuse as I made my beaded top.

Most people make their little girl's clothing bright and colorful with pretty prints. And I usually do too! I have a beautiful turquoise and lavender brocade sitting ready to make a second version of this dress. But, I wanted to do a trial run before cutting the brocade, and my daughter begged me to make her first dress out of this fabric. I think she likes it so much because it is so shiny and soft, it feels like liquid gold, very fluid to the touch, nice on the skin.

So I took her to Jo-anns with me and let her pick out the buttons. I also decided to add the black piping around the collar and bodice, as in view B of this pattern, to give the pale fabric a little definition. The interesting result of this seems to me that she looks a bit like she's going to a Star Trek Convention. :D Lt. Liz reporting for duty!

Of course, she thinks it looks like a Kung Fu dress (and so does daddy!)
When we went outside to pick flowers and take pictures, it was very windy. Ahh, the Oregon coast....

Anyway, since she just loves Avatar, the Last Airbender (the cartoon series, not the movie), she decided to show me how she was Air Bending the wind! lol

Ah, I remember what it was like to pretend to have super powers. And to have such an imagination. :)

As usual, she just adores having her picture taken. I hate to admit it, but lately she's been watching re-runs of Project Runway with me (I sincerely hope she never wants to be a model! but I love the clothes on that show.) She decided to show me her "project runway" pose, which was pretty good!

On a side note, I spent the last of my sewing allowance for this month to buy her those black dress shoes. Amazing that she didn't own any! Her only dress shoes are Dorothy Gale red. I was so lucky, Payless shoes was having a big sale, so I got these cute little shoes, normally 14.99 for only 4.49! Now that's a good shoe bargain. :)
Liz really likes the shoes and the dress, and I had a hard time getting her to take them off to eat when we got back inside for snack time. She didn't even want to go inside, it was such a beautiful day out today. But after about an hour of picking flowers and taking pictures, and just walking around the neighborhood, she was getting hungry. So finally, we went back in to have some fresh strawberries and milk.

In conclusion, I love this pattern. It was difficult to sew this fabric (haha, understatement of the year! It was like trying to sew with wet eels. Pins people. The key is lot and LOTS of pins!!), and the pattern itself isn't for beginners either. In the end it was really worth it, though.
Certainly, the dress is a bit...monochrome, but it will be a nice school dress for the fall, I think. Pretty, but not too showy. Oh, and I adore the bell sleeves with the little gather near the bicep! Very good design element.

I may or may not enter this into the Sewing for Children Contest on PR. I have at least 2 more things I want to sew for Liz, and instead of many entries and hoping for the random prize, I'd really like to put up my best entry and see if I can actually get some votes! It would be nice to make something really, really nice and see it come in the top 5. :)

I think this pattern will be one I make and remake many times as she grows, as it will look just as nice on a 6 or an 8 year old. So this one is a keeper for sure!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The devil is in the details!

Oh, the weather has been beautiful the last few days! So we've been out a bit more than usual, which means less sewing time. It's a good trade though, I want to enjoy what little sun we get!

I started on my One Pattern Many Looks contest project this week. I posted the fabrics and beads I had in mind a few weeks ago, and I decided to start on the metalic silky charmeuse fabric. I have quite a lot of it, so I could recut a piece if something went wrong. I'm glad I chose to use this fabric first!

Reading a lot of the previous reviews of McCalls 5388, it is repeatedly noted that this pattern runs VERY large. The common recommendation is to go down 3 full sizes and ALSO pinch another inch or so out of the yoke. I was a bit skeptical of this, especially after looking at the finished garment measurements. I'm a 36 bust and usually cut a 12, which meant I should cut a 6. The finished measurement on the size 6 was 41", that's not a lot of ease for a "loose" top. I went ahead and cut the top at a 6, basted it together, and found it was indeed a tad more snug than what I'd find comfortable. I set it aside for about a week, not even sure now if I liked the style, and finished my picnic shirt instead.

It was sitting on my sewing form this whole time, and the color, texture and drape of the fabric and pattern were so pretty, I really wanted to salvage it. I tested it with minimal seam allowance (1/4" most places, 1/8" sleeves), and the fit was quite good! What a pleasant surprise.

With that all worked out, I went ahead and started laying out a design for the beadwork. I decided early on to use a celtic knot design, something that I could curve and taper off near the shoulders. I settled pretty quickly onto a design. Here it is finished.

I realized the fabric was far too lightweight to hold the extensive beadwork I planned, so I dug out some interfacing I had from Jo-anns from their 1/2 off remnant bin marked "featherweight". Let me tell you, it isn't light or featherweight, it is clearly a medium weight interfacing, and made the yoke a tad stiff. Still, I had nothing else, and it wasn't bad, so I proceeded.

To create the design, I first drew it right on my traced pattern piece. Then I laid that over the interfaced yoke, and transferred it to the best of my ability right onto the interfacing. I have to say the interfacing made a great guide to follow while actually beading!
Having never actually beaded directly onto fabric before, I had some advice and a quick lesson from a friend. She told me to go 2 or 3 beads forward, then stitch backward 1 or 2 beads. Since my beads are a size larger than standard seed beads, I only did 2 at a time, and I went back through both on every stitch, so this was a LOT of hand sewing. I took me about 8 or 10 hours total, and although my beading is slightly uneven in places, I am pleased with the finished look. It's something I'd like to try more of in the future.

I thought this fabric would look pretty bad with a machine sewn hem, so I attempted my first real hand rolled hems. I did both sleeves, as well as the bottom hem. This took me another 5 hours of hand sewing.

Although it is very labor intensive, I think all the hand sewing is really worth it. The way the hem hangs looks good and natural, not stiff or flat like I was afraid it would if machine sewn.

Here are a couple of shots showing the finished garment, inside and out. I would like to point out that I used french seams, despite my narrow seam allowance. This meant 1/8" seams, trimmed to 1/16" and then another 1/8" for the finished seam (total = 1/4"). I NEVER used the foot petal while sewing this top, what little of it is machine sewn is all hand cranked, since I was using such small seam allowances. I also carefully topstitched the neck opening, which gives the top an almost quilted look.

I was a bit desperate and pinked the armhole seam, but I am still very proud of how the top looks inside-out. Since the beading is all on the front yoke, the yoke facing covers it. And the hems just look neat :) I think this top is really fun and creative, something I can wear out daytime or evenings, a bit dressy, but also a tad rock-n-roll.

Sadly, I think this will be "dry clean only"! lol

Next, I wanted to make my black and white version.

I had the most interesting remnant with a bit of boarder print on it. It is very drapey, but there wasn't enough of it to make a full top. It was about the size of my coffee table.

I had to cut creatively to get the top out of this. I had just enough left in the middle to use for the bias strips I planned on using.

I think the sleeves are a bit too puffy with the elastic in them. I prefer the way they hang and feel on the gold beaded top. If I make this again, I'll leave out the elastic.
I am very glad I used the black bias strips on the neckline, and for the elastic casing on the sleeves. It gives the top a lot more definition.

I'm happy that I found a good use for this pretty piece of boarder fabric. :D

I hope to get some pictures of myself wearing both of these sometime later this week, and I'll add those as soon as I get them taken.

I may make this top one or possibly even 2 more times for the contest. I have a purple knit jersey I think would work well with some fabric flowers near the shoulder. I also have some sky blue striped fabric I think might look interesting with ruffles on the hem, sleeves, and center of the yoke with some buttons. The problem I'm having is that I'm not sure how much I actually like the look of these 2 tops wearing them. They are very loose, and have no waist definition, and I'm afraid they look a bit like maternity wear. I am going to wear them both out and about a few times in the next week before I decide if I'm going to make more or not.

Until next time, happy sewing everyone!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Perfect picnic shirt

Well, I've just finished sewing up McCall's 6035 for the second time, this time view D. I like this one even more than my first try (view B). The fabric is this pretty green checked cotton, very nice shirting material. I've had it in my stash for probably close to 2 years.

The sleeve pieces are a very unusual shape, kind of like J's. But I love the finished sleeve. It's very cute, but still long enough to be warm, and the ties aren't too long or ridiculous.

I was about 9" short of the required fabric yardage, so I had to be very creative in cutting the sleeve back pieces. I also didn't have enough fabric to cut the ties, so I used a green floral print that I thought matched pretty well.

I had to size the lower half of the pattern up a bit, and the fit seems pretty good, not too snug, not baggy.

I am so happy I made this, it really was perfect for a picnic! I came close to putting this off yet again, but I'm really glad I took the time. I'm now trying to decide if others of my stash fabric are appropriate to make another one!

I think the buttons I found were really a cute addition. Pale yellow flowers. I didn't add the top button on the collar, as the buttons came in packages of 3, so it was easier to buy 6 than 7 (as the pattern uses).

I got this sewn up on the 3rd, so I actually got to wear it to the 4th of July picnic our friends had. We had a really great time. Their DD's birthday is the 4th, and their second child the 14th, so they combined it into a big birthday bash plus fireworks. Loads of fun! Liz had a really wonderful time, well we all did really. It was quite a long day, we didn't get home until 9. We didn't go see the big fireworks on the waterfront, Liz was just too worn out. I'm sure she'll be big enough to go next year. :)
Here is Liz with her friend Yana, and the little sister, Indigo. They all look so serious in this shot, but it was the only pic I got with all 3 of them in it. Maybe they were just serious about those hot dogs they were about to eat! lol