Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sewing Project #1 T-Shirt

This morning I realized that I am completely delusional.

I am not a seamstress.  I am a clothing project parts hoarder.  These 6 tubs and the wire drawers in the photo represent about 70% of the items I have accumulated over the past 20 years with the intent to sew clothing for myself.

 Last summer I committed to making some clothing for myself and realized that my adult curvy self needs a "muslin" test drive of patterns before I sew the real deal.  This version shows that I seem to be able to fix waist/hip sizing, but not torso.

 My previous attempts at sewing for myself were either when I was a stick thin teen, or maternity clothes.  I am SO out of my comfort zone, it isn't funny.

I was able to fine tune the dress above to a tank style dress pictured here.  I apparently have no shots of the upper body section that was only so-so.

Enough's today.

I decided to make a basic, perfect T-shirt.
Butterick 5215.

I had a couple yards of thrift store Looney Toon fabric that seemed perfect for a trial.

I was foolishly optimistic as the pattern sizing perfectly described me as a "large".  Bust 40-41 (my measurements with the help of Victoria's Secret projection equipment), waist 31-32 (pretty close...depending on the day), and hip 41-42.

I was also encouraged by a pattern that actually showed body curves.

I was excited about using the same fabric as a bias binding neck treatment since, as a quilter, I'm a pro at bias bindings. I thought the print would look weird so I dashed to the fabric store for some plain black.

I did think that the proportion seemed a bit small.  But I did commit to following directions exactly (not one of my normal skills).
Some might argue that I have a big head.

But I'm pretty sure no one else's noggin would fit in this 17" opening.   Even after I popped the stitches in an attempt to get it over my head, I was not successful.

The fact that it was a good proportion for my moderate sized bicept may be a clue.

I pulled out several of my ready to wear t-shirts to compare.  Even the most modest option shows far more space.
I cut out the 3/8 wide binding.

I split the difference between the 2 ready to wear options and drew a new neckline.

As a point of interest, the original back bias strip was 17".  The replacement bias piece was 24".

Here's the fixed neckline.

I had not yet added the hems on the sleeves and bodice when this pic was taken ( I was taking advantage of  a moment when a photographer was available.)

It doesn't look bad, but it is super-duper tight.

I was very careful about keeping any character from being centered on a nipple.  That could be bad.
The circles are pretty well balanced down the center.

I would totally wear this T, but it would be more comfortable about 1/2" bigger.

LOVE how this pic makes me look like a supermodel.
Although this is a knit, it had very little flexibility.

Often times a knit fabric will give you a "give" ratio.
Sewing pros need to weigh in to teach me the appropriate lingo.
This knit was pretty tight.  10" only gave 2" of flex.
The  ready to wear samples in my closet give 5" for every 10".

Think sports-bra....I have some mono-boob action happening here.

Mostly a good fit.

And here we are with the arm and bottom hems done.

My standard T will need more length fore sure.

This ate up FAR more time than I expected.  But time well spent if I figure out the ULTIMATE T-shirt pattern.

And this is my first installment in the sewing commitment posts.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Biker's Shop Hop

We are safely back from the distance round of the Treasure Shop Hop.    This hop takes some commitment. We drove 500 miles to hit 7 of the 12 shops.  There is actually a shorter route, but it would involve freeway and not the winding back road from Vale to Baker.

I bought new bungie cords and packed my rain gear.   The prediction was cold and scattered showers.  We got lucky on the rain and got all excited when it was 42 degrees (F) this morning instead of 32.

I started planning this trip in January because I knew of at least 4 women in our motorcycle club were also quilters.  And my quilter friend Sara was looking forward to making it her birthday gift to go.

Turns out none of those people made it and it was me and 5 bikers who were just looking for an excuse to ride.

We had to start with vocabulary lessons.
Shop Hop = Poker Run
Fat Quarter = bandana sized piece of fabric
Notions = stuff you need to turn fabric into other things
Novelty prints = fabrics with cartoon images (like motorcycles)
Batik = fabric that is dyed with a wax relief instead of printed with ink. (That you should buy for your friend Margie)
Flannel = fuzzy fabric for wiping plexiglass

Dragon was "all in".  He wanted to learn the lexicon and play by the rules.  Even woozie with hunger, he staggered forth to get his passport stamped.  If he wins the grand prize...birthday girl Sara gets the prize.

You might be surprised how much fabric can fit in saddle bags.  Of course, it does help that it was so freaking cold that I was wearing all the extra sets of clothing that I brought (except maybe the underwear).

Some great door prizes this year!  3 fat 1/8ths of batik  from Huckleberry patches (they had other cute fabrics as well).

Stich & Snip has a kit for a portable thread catcher.  But more importantly each kit has a fat quarter.

And remember...I got 3 bonus sets from my hubby and friends.   I may never shop hop with other quilters again.
  Free stuff can backfire though.  The cute little charm packets inspired me to buy a couple yards of that floral and paisley fabric (1/2 price) at Quilts Plus in Halfway.

I love that shop in Halfway, but usually because the batik selection is so good.  I've bought some good stuff in the clearance section so headed there first.
Remember how much I loved the Sun & Stars quilt?  There are more yellow/grey quilts in my future. I cleared the bolts on the 2 fabrics on the right.
I don't often buy prints any more.  But when I do, this is what sucks me in.  And it's lime green.  And half price.  Bolt empty.

I'm also working on making some quilts for guys.  I absolutely LOVE these clearance fabrics.  More empty bolts.
Those got me thinking about several quilts I had in mind using black, white and X (x= red, lime, magenta....hmmmm does this count as using Algebra in the real world?)

Used my (and my biker's) 10% off to add to the black/white stash at Stich & Snip.  Which was really funny because she asked me why I wasn't buying any batiks. (Apparently they remember me as the Biker Batik Babe)
But Granny's Attic has some new batiks in.  Of course I'm just assuming that they are new since every other batik in my favorite colors within a 300 mile radius looks familiar.

Red batiks are SOOOO hard to find.  These were at the Charm Shack.

And I have this new idea for a quilt.
A pinup girl tattoo applique.

So I picked up potential skin tones.

That was my weekend.
Did you do anything interesting
that required leather and/or motorcycles?

Monday, April 15, 2013


I've been working on another star quilt.  This one was inspired by the Bursting Star from The Charming Needle. 

I had to redraft the concept to use the 4 fat quarters of "TooMuchery" by Helen Dardik that I got as a prize last year from the shop hop.

I ran into several challenges that in retrospect, I could have resolved other ways. But I don't dislike any of it enough to unsew anything.

It is 52" square right now.  Thinking that I'll add a 6" grey strip all around and it'll make a nice lap size quilt.

The Sun & Stars quilt is finished.

I'm still a beginner when it comes to free motion quilting.  I took advantage of the variety of spaces to practice lots of different designs.

I love how Green Fairy Quilts combines fills and geometric shapes.  This was my attempt at that style.

I used the walking foot and some pre-programmed stitches on the right.

I copied the square squiggle from the fabric on the lower left, which turned out pretty cute.

I am not very good at feathers, but did this random sized version for practice.

I LOVE the fabric I found for the binding.  The background is actually cream rather than white, but I loved it enough to overlook this detail.  I really like a medium sized, multicolor, print fabric for a binding.

Do you remember how I had to piece together a bunch of scraps to make those filler pieces?  I used multiple fills hoping it would make it look more intentional.

Oh, and did I tell you that after I went to all that trouble, after the quilt was finished, I found 4 yards of the same grey in the garage?   Oy.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday Miscalleny

I'm going to throw out some random things that have made me smile this week.

You know how much I like dragonflies right? 
This tattoo is so freaking cool. 
Eyeball as big as a belly button.
Kind of makes me want one.
But it would probably hurt.

I declared Friday "Margarita Friday" and showed up at work with a bag full of these for my coworkers to take home at 5pm.

Went on a ride Saturday.  Unfortunately one of our friends broke down, literally in the middle of nowhere.  With the wind blowing like mad.  But we had a great time hanging out before and after the breakdown.

My daughter had been purging her room and I ended up with all kinds of things in the "studio" that I need to make room for.  Spent most of the morning making room.  Look how organized it all looks now.

I really need to let go of the scrapbooking stuff.  That's the entire right stack and upper shelf.  I added some stuff to the 2 left stacks and pulled in some empty bins from the garage. 

 Which brings me to my newest commitment. 

I have been secretly lurking on clothing sewing blogs for a couple years. Although I loved sewing clothes for my girls when they were little, I have never been very successful sewing for myself.  When I was a teen ( 5'9" and 130#) I sewed all the time for myself since I couldn't find clothes that fit a tall skinny body.  Being tall and skinny following a pattern worked.  

I am now 5'10" and 160-170# with some lovely curves.  Suddenly all those "adjustment" are necessary. 
So, long story short.  I am going to join the sewing challenge at  Although the goal is to sew-instead-of-buy my goal is to sew all the crazy @$# n#$^&t that I intended to sew. 

Just warning you as I may have to split my time between sewing / quilting / applique.  

Saturday, April 6, 2013

UK Sewing

To get my seam allowances to go the right way, I've been sewing  by lining up on the opposite side of the presser foot than normal.  Which makes me this how they sew in the UK?


I was sewing away on my chartreuse & puce flying goose quilt when suddenly I remembered that I had this yardage that I'd been saving for the back of a pine tree themed quilt.  I suspect that these are really fir branches and the pine cones are wrong.....but can I get away with pretending that it's spruce? That way my quilt can be the Puce 'Treuse Goose with Spruce.   Now if only I had a nephew named Bruce to give it to.