Threading Lightly

Adventures in amateur sewing

madame booty


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More perspiration than inspiration

madame bootyThings have been collecting a lot of dust in my sewing corner.  One of the threads in my serger actually disintegrated…I’m not sure how that happened, but I’m sure it’s not a good sign.  Every time I look over at Madame Booty (pictured above), with her undressed body, I feel sad.  The first quarter of the year is a time when I usually take on a lot of sewing projects.  But I haven’t made time for sewing lately.  A new hobby has been consuming my life right now, even in these cold winter months – running.

At the end of last year, I cut a number of projects out and had plans for some winter items that I could finish before the season was up.  Unfortunately, the actual sewing has been happening in dribs and drabs.  Currently I have been slowly piecing together a practice shirt, which I am using as a guide on a new flannel shirt.  There is a vintage-looking corduroy skirt I have been dying to start as well, but I don’t even have the thread to start the project, never mind the buttons.  The other night I struggled to sew my shirt pieces and yoke together, getting so frustrated with how out of practice I was that I almost threw my iron across the room.  Simple pattern directions didn’t seem to make sense any more.  Is sewing becoming an annoyance to me now?

Shirt Yoke

My shirt yoke struggle…after a few hours I finally got it.

While it’s true that my focus has been elsewhere, sewing is still a part of my life.  I may not be completing projects as fast as I want to. I may feel too exhausted after a long run to battle with buttonholes. But I still have my desire.  Even though my life is more perspiration than inspiration now, it doesn’t mean I am hanging up my scissors.  I will finish these shirts, even if it takes baby steps to get there.

One thing hasn’t changed – my love of writing and chronicling what is going on in my life at the moment.  I’m still writing in a new running blog: https://qmarathontraining.wordpress.com/, which is all about me training for my first marathon.  Feel free to check it out, even though it’s not about sewing or making clothes.  I hope to bring my same newbie attitude to marathon training that I’ve attempted to do with this sewing blog.  I’ll also still be here, trudging away on new-to-me sewing techniques and my contributions to the fiber arts.  I need new clothes this year, so there is no way I will be stopping!  I just really need to get those buttons…stay tuned.

 

Stay Tuned

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and I feel meh


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The year ending 2016 – a look back

Everywhere you read, 2016 was a bad year for many people.  Celebrity deaths, elections with bad outcomes, unusual weather…it is definitely a year people love to hate.  I happen to agree, as 2016 wasn’t my year either.  Losing my job caused my depression to come back, mixed with some horrible anxiety and panic attacks.  I ended my summer with an epic ankle sprain that is still giving me problems.  Even as things improved the second half of the year, there was a lot of disappointments, difficulties and stress.  These last few months have been pretty stable, but I find it more comforting to call the whole year a wash and just keep looking to 2017.  It really can’t come fast enough.

But before I say goodbye (or good riddance), I thought it might be a good idea to reflect on my makes from the past year.  At first I was afraid this might be a waste of time since it feels like I got nothing accomplished this year.  At least not as much as I wanted to.  But looking back at all the projects I did complete, I noticed that I did actually get more done than I thought.  So here is a look back on some of the most impactful projects of the year.

Greatest Sense of Accomplishment: Fleece Vest

fleece vest-front

Of all my makes, this one really surprised me with the result.  With no prior experience working with fleece and no muslin attempted, I just dove into this two-fabric garment.  My adjustment using corded elastic with an adjustable stopper instead of regular elastic at the bottom ended up working out as well. It feels so good when things you envision come together.  The only thing I wish I had been able to add is zippers on the side pockets, since this is a great feature on my store-bought vests.  Oh well, maybe next time.

Project Giving me the Most Trouble: Summer Romper

Happy romper

I am overly pleased with the end result of this piece, despite having actually finished it in the fall.  That being said, confusing pattern directions led to some frustrating nights on this one.  I didn’t have as many problems as other projects from previous years, which is probably because 2016 seems to be the year I didn’t make pants.  However, this is the first time I have made something that I’m not sure I could duplicate.  We’ll see…but having another romper isn’t a huge priority at this point anyway.

Garment That Got the Most Use: tie between Sweater Tunic & Tie-Bow Blouse

IMG_3174final sheer blouse

Both of these got a lot of use in 2016.  The sweater tunic made an appearance at a lot of casual functions and received the most compliments, while the blouse showed up at networking events and my new job.  It’s great to have homemade clothing you can wear all the time.  It makes all the effort you put in totally worth it.  Looking back at all my projects from the year, I am pleased that so many of them are in my regularly worn wardrobe.

2016 may not have been the best year overall, but it definitely produced some great outfits and really cemented some of my sewing skills.  I have slowly been improving on things – such as taking the time to make sure things fit correctly when they are finished.  There is still more improvement to be done, but that is what makes sewing a challenge!

 

Looking Forward…

I really hope 2017 lives up to everyone’s expectations as a kick-butt year.  For me, there will be some new challenges.  I have committed myself to run my first marathon next October in Chicago.  I will also be running for a charity, so this is the first time I will also be raising money for a cause while I train.  I will be running for the American Brain Tumor Association – it feels good to be able to give something back and use my love of running for the good of others.  It may be a year of change as I am thinking about moving to another part of the state.  There may even be some some international travel in the near future.  I just really hope I have the job stability to make it all happen this time.  As for sewing, my 2017 focus will be on trying to stay with current trends and stay ahead of the season with my clothing makes.  Oh, and probably some new skills and techniques thrown in.  Always be improving!

What did you like best about 2016 and what plans do you have for 2017?

and I feel meh


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Jasmine blouse: Un-anchored by last minute decisions

Pattern: Jasmine by Colette Patterns

Skills acquired:

  • Understitching

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‘Cuz the shirt has anchors on it…get it!!  With this project, I finish up the last of the fabric I bought in Scotland back in 2014.  This was a nice white cotton with cute little pink anchors on it and I believe I even got it at a discount (although still not cheap).

The blouse came together so easily.  I highly recommend this pattern, especially if you are a beginner.  A dressy looking blouse with no buttons?  No zipper? Whaat?!  But yes, because it is cut on the bias, you can pull it right over your head like any other shirt.  With no button/buttonhole matching, it makes construction a snap.  And you don’t need snaps!

When I first started on this top, I had cut all the pieces for version 2.  Since the fabric had anchors on it, I thought having a sailor look would be really cute.  I even found some really nice navy blue fabric that I had leftover from another project that seemed to work perfectly for the collar.   I liked the sleeves on this version better too.   When I started to get ready to sew, I stared at the pieces for a long time.  I couldn’t decide if I really liked the navy ties after all and worried it would end up being something I didn’t want to wear that often.  I began to imagine it as a disaster, which may seem a bit much, but there is nothing more heartbreaking than making something you dislike with fabric you fell in love with.  The more I looked at the two drawings on the cover, the more I thought the other bow was more versatile and would look nice under a nice cardigan for the winter months ahead.  I decided to switch to the longer tie version, made with the same material instead of the contrast.  Luckily most of the other pieces are the same and I had just enough anchor fabric left to cut this new bow out. I did, however, keep the sleeves from the original version.  I still liked them better and now I had sort of a hybrid between the two versions, which is kind of cool.

Familiar Tiesimg_4087

The ties on this shirt are constructed the way most are – two pieces are sewn with right sides facing and then the whole thing is turned inside out.  This tie was nice in that there was a larger section that is not sewn together at this stage, which made turning it inside out pretty simple.  It then gets sewn to the outside of the neckline and a facing is sewn over to finish this seam.  There is some hand stitching to tack down the facing which is not my favorite thing, but it’s not so bad.  I finished the facing edge by using my serger…yes, I know is the easy way out but, whatever.

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#understitch

Also, I think I have finally figured out the proper way to understitch.  I never really got this concept before, so I was just stitching things down whatever way I wanted.  But with this blouse, I read through the tutorial on the Colette website here, and took the time to do it correctly.  The trick to know is that you are actually opening the seam to stitch the seam allowance  to the inside facing – no stitching should show on the outside.  The tutorial explains it better than I ever could.

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Using this edge-stitch foot helps to keep the stitching on the correct side when understitching the seam allowance, which is underneath, to the facing.

Ain’t No Thangimg_4170

 

img_4095This top also features a loop to be sewn onto the front and I do admit having it there does make the tying the bow a bit easier and neater.  That is if I am doing it correctly.  I didn’t see instructions so I improvised at putting the bow loops through.  Sewing that tiny loop together and then having to turn it right-side out was a real project!  Luckily I have this pretty cool tool, called “that purple thang.”  It helped me push some of the material through and it was also a huge help in getting the corners neater on the ends of my tie.

 

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The loop sewn into the center of the blouse.

Off the Cuff

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At first glance, the directions for the cuff seems a little complicated.  But following them step by step, it actually was quite simple.  It helps that the directions are extremely well written and the drawings perfectly illustrate the steps.  It started with drawing where you need to stitch with a fabric pencil as shown above.  Getting that notch can be difficult to achieve when the cuff is flipped over to finish, but my purple thang helped with this as well.

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Land Ho!

This blouse was a pretty big hit with the unveiling on Facebook, so I’m quite happy with the result.  I’m amazed I can pull a non-knit top over my head so easily.  I highly recommend this pattern as a first entry into blouse making or anyone that just wants a woven top that comes together quickly and looks professional.

With a cardigan…

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From the back…

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From the side, showing off this nice bow…

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Holiday Fun

I really love it when me-made clothes have some extra fun.  Here I am wearing my plaid Dahlia dress at my company Christmas party.  It was at historic Fenway Park in Boston, so I got to meet Wally, the Red Sox mascot.

 

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Happy romper


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Ready to romp! My summer one-piece that almost didn’t happen

Pattern: McCalls 6969 (view c)McCalls 6969

Well that is a very interesting pattern number.  I only just realized this as I am writing it out.  I assure you I didn’t purchase this pattern based on that!

What can I say. It is well into November and in New England, the air definitely has a chill.  Every morning I have to scrape a layer of frost off my windshield.  Leaves have pretty much fallen off all the trees and Thanksgiving is next week.  Yikes!  What happened?

This summer brought many changes – the biggest one being a new job and a new commute to work.  I’ve also started getting more involved in my running club and have been racing and training, despite suffering from a nasty sprained ankle injury.  Somewhere in the midst of all these changes, I started a summer romper.  This was a project I have wanted to try for awhile, having bought the pattern years ago.  This summer I saw someone in an arcade wearing a romper and it rekindled my desire to make one.  Never mind the fact I probably wouldn’t wear it that often and one-pieces don’t always flatter me.  Luckily I had some rayon to burn!  As summer drew to a close and the September obligations piled up, I started to cut into my fabric and piece the body together.  Things were going okay…..

Under the collar

Here is where the directions stopped making sense – when I had to install the collar.  I re-read it several times and I still couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do, so I actually Continue reading

Tie Bow close up


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The networking blouse: or how to succeed in business by really really trying!

Pattern: Simplicity 1779 (view c)Simplicity 1779

They say that job searching is all about the networking.  Let me tell you from a diagnosed introvert, networking really sucks.  You really have to put yourself out there, totally out of your comfort zone and start conversations with complete strangers.  You have no idea if they want to talk to you or not.  Sometimes these conversations go well, sometimes they feel as painful as falling down a flight of stairs.  Making that perfect connection that furthers your career can feel like a needle in a haystack.  It’s also extremely exhausting, being “on” all the time.  When I come home after a few hours of networking, I feel almost as if I ran a marathon.  But it is important – applying for open jobs the old fashion way definitely doesn’t get the maximum result.  And getting a job can be more “who you know” than “what you know” in general.

I feel it helps to have some sort of ice breaker prepared.  Which is why last week, Continue reading


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See my vest…in textured fleece

Kwik Sew 3813Pattern: Kwik Sew K3813

Some key takeaways:

  • Wait to buy your separating zipper until you confirm the final length
  • Make sure your fabric works for the arm binding, if not you can use spandex or knit

Just as spring made its way in New England, so did the cold weather.  For a winter which saw 70 degree temperatures on Christmas Eve and only 2 snow storms, this spring sure is cold!  We had more snow storms in April than in March, and now that it is May, I can’t walk around my house without a sweatshirt.  Or a fleece….which brings me to….

I decided to make a fleece vest!  I started this a bit on the late side – as in after winter was technically over.  Glad this cold weather started up, or I would have felt completely foolish!

This was a pretty ambitious project.  I have never made anything like this before, and half-way through making the vest, I was worried I may be in over my head.  However, the results of this one are very positive!

When I first decided to make this pattern, Continue reading

hooded overshirt


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Southwestern Over-shirt: Joys in the hood

Pattern: McCalls stitch n’ save 6681M6681

Skills acquired:

  • Homemade bias tape
  • Hoods!

There comes a time in every sewist’s life when they realize they are still learning.  I’ve been killin’ it on so many projects lately (with some minor complications), I really thought I was heading up to the big leagues.  Then I had to make a hood.  I don’t know why this baffled me so much, but looking back on it, it all seems rather stupid.

First of all this pattern is labeled “easy” right on the front.  This should not have been as much of a challenge as it was.  I think some unclear writing and my own inexperience with making a hood contributed to this lesson.

Let me step back a minute on this one.  I chose this pattern because I wanted to make something else besides pajama pants with this cotton flannel I had bought when on vacation in New Mexico.  I specifically searched for patterns for flannel fabric and figured for this type of native-american-like print some sort of over-shirt would be nice.  I thought this pattern looked cute with the hood and everything so I decided to go for it.   Continue reading