Sunday, April 27, 2008

Organizing my Burda magazines...and not sewing

I've been cleaning up and organizing and not sewing. Now I think I'm just finding excuses to delay sewing and facing the UFOs. The sewing table is just about cleaned up and instead of finishing the Burda jacket, I organized my Burda magazines. I like to remove the pattern inserts and store them in plastic cd "crates" - they fit perfectly on-end.

Then I copy the pages with the line drawings (double sided) and store them in a notebook. I try to keep up with the issues but was surprised to find a year's worth of "un-organized Burdas." Yesterday I went one step further. I often flip through the notebook of line drawings first to find patterns to make, and then pull the magazine when I need to, but I can't tell whether a pattern is for woven or knits. So I decided to annotate the copied page of line drawings with "K" for knits, "S" for stretch woven, and "So" for stretch fabric optional. I was surprised how many pants and skirt patterns called for stretch fabrics. The problem is I have a lot of Burdas...going back to 1999. I only annotated back to 2007 yesterday but I can tell that this will be yet another way to delay doing any actual sewing.

I also didn't get to any sewing yesterday because the yard needed work. I tackled the very weedy back yard yesterday and pulled up A LOT of weeds - mostly grassy weeds, dandelions, and mallow. I find it quite funny that the Latin name for mallow is "Malva neglecta" - as in "you neglect your garden, you get mallow." I'm hoping to get some of the raised beds cleared of the now-bolted lettuce and cilantro and put in the summer crops. Yes, it's warm here already - in the 80's. My winter experiment of snap peas, broccoli, and cabbage did pretty well. We enjoyed lots of peas, a little broccoli (it bolted with the first warm spell), and some heads of cabbage. This year I'm looking at planting tomatoes, squash, peppers, corn and a few other things. Nothing too fancy.

It looks like it's going to be a good year for the fruit trees too. The plum is full of little green ones, the apricot looks better than last year, there are lots of little cherries (the birds will be happy) and the peach trees will need some serious thinning. A little pear tree we trellised on an espalier is also showing lots of little fruit. The only tree not fairing well is the almond and that is due to Mr. Squirrel who stole the young nuts before we had a chance to net the tree, which didn't stop him from stripping the tree last year so I guess we needn't have bothered. I'm not sure what we can do to prevent Mr. Squirrel from eating all of the nuts. The tree is in the front yard, so I don't really want to build some huge defense system.

Maybe I'll actually get to some sewing today. Imagine that! It's rather hot out this afternoon and my muscles are sore from all the weed-pulling. Ah, but there's laundry to do. But at least the day is mine to enjoy. A song came on the radio that made me recall my college days, when a beautiful Sunday afternoon meant pulling out the books and tackling my homework. Yuck. As much as I miss those years of youth, I am glad not to have to study anymore!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I couldn't help myself

I bought more fabric. But in my defense, it was 1) basic solid black and brown fabrics, which I find my stash is lacking (I seem to collect a lot of prints) and 2) it was 50% off. I stopped by Hancock Fabrics on the way home from work last night to delay joining the freeway traffic and also because they had McCall and Vogue patterns on sale. I was greeted with huge signs announcing a "Construction Sale" and lots of yellow 50% off signs atop the fabric aisles. I ignored the fabric (at first) and checked out the patterns, which were not 50% off but just the regular sale price, which is still really good. Since I'd just bought a bunch of Vogue patterns, I couldn't really find anything that I needed to have. McCalls didn't have much either but I did pick up McCalls 5591, which I didn't have but mentioned in one of my recent posts about making a basic, black skirt. But then I couldn't just go to the checkout and purchase one pattern, noooooo. I had to browse the fabric.

I ended up buying some black rayon and brown rayon and some solid brown ITY polyester stretch. The rayons will (hopefully one day) become skirts and with the ITY fabric, I hope to make this Burda top from the January issue of Burda World of Fasion. Because of the long ties, the top takes more than 2 yards of stretch fabric and I usually by only 1 1/2 to 2 yards to make a top. This is the dilemma of buying fabric without a specific project - sometimes you don't have enough and sometimes you don't have the right fabric.

I was also relieved to find that the construction sale was because the Hancocks store is remodeling and not closing. I asked the woman cutting my fabric and she said she's been asked that 25 times a day. We both joked that they need signs that say "no, we're not closing!" This Hancocks store is not the one closest to my house - there is one about a mile away. I'm always afraid that closer store will shut down. They survived when their only neighbor, Kmart, closed and Kohl's remodeled and moved into the adjoining structure. But the Hancocks store is looking rather ragged these days and I'm worried. I'm lucky to have multiple Joanns and Hancocks to choose from but I suppose that's the trade-off of living in a highly populated area.

Friday, April 25, 2008

My book of inspiration

I like to subscribe to fashion magazines to get ideas and inspiration. When I page through them I rip out pictures of garments that appeal to me or show detail and design ideas I'd like to copy. I've been filling the bottom drawer of my nightstand with these tear sheets and it was about time I did something with them because they can't inspire me tucked away in a dark, nightstand drawer. So the other night I gathered up the sheets and got scissors and glue stick and added the images to my "book of inspiration." It's just a report binder with blank pages (paper from some mega-scrapbook paper collection I never got around to using). Nothing fancy. I'm not too arty about it either and don't decorate the pages or the cover. But that's me. Sometimes I'll scribble a note about what caught my eye but usually the design detail is obvious so I don't bother.

Here's a page from the book:


Monday, April 14, 2008

I just want to make a black skirt

First of all, it's nice to know I'm not alone in my Stash Anxiety. Thanks Keely, Lady be Good and Carole for your comments.

I'm confronting my Stash Anxiety by trying to plan out more of a wardrobe instead of just grabbing a pattern and some fabric, because there are just too many patterns and too many fabric choices. So I decided that I would finish two UFOs and make a few things to go with them.

One of the UFOs is a multi-tiered skirt that I cut out but never sewed up. I bought the fabric in Paris in July 2006 and cut out the pieces a month or so later but then fall came and the project was put aside. Then I realized that the multi-tiered skirt was passé and the skirt sank further into the depths of UFO-dom. But I don't want to waste the fabric and I am not a fashion slave and will pretty much wear what I want, so the skirt is going to get finished. Hooray! The fabric for the skirt is on the left of the picture below. I haven't yet picked out what top(s) I will make to go with it. I think I bought the burnt orange fabric to go with it, with the plan to make a jacket, but I'm not sure about that now.

Travel Fabric


The other UFO is the jacket I started in November that has somehow become sidelined. Here's the sneak peek picture (sorry it's kind of dark):




I decided to make a black skirt to go with it so I shopped my stash to see what I had. Unfortunately I have more prints than solids and much more brown than black, but I did find three choices:

  1. Silk with a vertical stripe that's fairly subtle

  2. Medium weight cotton/lycra purchased from Christine Jonson's fabrics

  3. Linen/rayon blend

Although I did make a black twill skirt last fall, I decided that I wanted something with a little more fullness and not so casual. I've narrowed it down to this one, using the silk:


or a skirt with pleats using the linen/rayon. I don't have the pattern below but I have a similar one from Onion (1038) (no picture to show but you can go to shoponion.com to see it) and I've also come across similar looks in my big stash of Burda WOF.

But which one to make? I think the first skirt would be really pretty but the silk is a little impractical to wear to my work, were Crocs and shorts are common attire. Also, I'm not sure how the stripes in the fabric would work out. The skirt has godets, which may look odd with the stripes. Or maybe it'll look great. I don't know. The second skirt is a little more practical but the pleats may make my big hips look even bigger and a pleated skirt would look pretty dressy too. The Onion pattern has pleats on the left and right but not in the middle, which I think may make me look wider. The third alternative, is to go buy some lightweight black gauze and make skirt #1. It would be comfortable, easy to care for, and not too dressy. But oh no...BUY MORE FABRIC? That is what I want to avoid!

Friday, April 11, 2008

SABLE

Stash Amassed Beyond Life Expectancy


I didn't coin the phrase - I'm not sure who did but I've seen it applied to both fabric and yarn. I'm afraid this applies to my fabric stash and maybe my yarn but definitely my fabric. I once again went through the task of swatching, folding, and storing away the mountain of fabric that somehow appeared on the guest bed over the last year or so. The problem is that to do so required more big, plastic containers because my fabric buying far outweighs my sewing. The good news is that I have curtailed my fabric buying. Although it may seem obvious, I guess I didn't really comprehend that each piece of fabric I was buying represented a project. And each project involves selecting a pattern, often tracing the pattern off, cutting the pattern pieces apart, sometimes sewing a muslin, usually alterations to the pattern, cutting out the fabric, construction, and finishing. And of course my projects don't tend to be simple or easy. Unless the fabric is really fabulous on its own, I don't want to just sew up a plain top or skirt. And even when it seems like a straight forward project, I take way more time than I should because I'm a perfectionist. So you see my dilemma. More projects than I can get to.

The other dilemma is that I don't want my stash to become full of dated fabric, so I really should use it before it does. I sewed a little in the 80's and once had a crazy idea to sew up a bunch of "easy" short sleeved, simple blouses to wear to work. I went to the fabric store and bought 5 or 6 pieces of fabric and that's as far as I ever got. Because in addition to being a perfectionist, or maybe because I am one, I am also a procrastinator. The fabric never became anything and only got moved around from apartment to apartment. When I recently came across the fabrics I was amused at how 80's the fabric looked and felt (most of it was polyester). I was also amused at how I only needed 1 yard of fabric to make a blouse for my(much skinnier)self 20 years ago.

I could also say that I have SA. Stash Anxiety. There are so many projects I want to do that I don't know which one to start on. Do I finish the skirt I cut out last summer even though the style (multi-tiered gypsy type skirt) is not really in, but the fabric was purchased in Paris and I don't want it to go to waste? Which of the many "easy-to-sew", summer tops should I make from the Simplicity, McCalls, and Butterick patterns I have? Pattern stash anxiety! Why do I still buy more patterns when I get the Burda magazine? Why can't I find the motivation to finish the jacket I started a few months ago? Why haven't I made a nice pair of pants? Thinking about it all makes my head and stomach hurt. This is supposed to be a fun hobby!

Last summer I sewed up a small, coordinating wardrobe before my trip to Paris. I think my "Paris with a Plan" take on the SWAP concept (Sewing with a Plan) was successful and I'd like to try something similar. I don't have any big trips on the horizon, but I think I should try to put together a few items that will go together and concentrate on those. Perhaps I should incorporate the UFOs to get them out of the way. Ok, feeling better already.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Getting rid of stuff

Thank goodness for eBay. I can get rid of stuff that's doing nothing for me but taking up space and I can make a few bucks off it to...well, to buy more stuff...that will take up space. But hopefully it'll be better stuff and deserving of the space in our small house.

I have some auctions up right now but I'm fairly certain no one reading this blog is interested. Nothing is sewing or knitting related. I'm unloading over five years worth of old Omni magazines and two years of Star and Sky magazine. See, I knew you weren't interested. Well, if you are, here's the link and I'm sorry I didn't offer them here first. They are magazines from the late 70's and early 80's, back when I was interested in astronomy. Oh, I'm still interested in astronomy but I guess not like I once was. It's too much like work now. I kept the magazines all these years kind of by accident because they were in my parent's basement until I rediscovered them about 4 years ago. I carted them out here to my house with the intention of selling them on eBay because I have the premier issue of both magazines and thought someone might be interested in them. And someone is! I have bids! Well, on some of them anyway.

I hope the sales go well and I don't get a difficult buyer. The last time I sold anything was a few years ago when I got rid of my old Pfaltzgraff dishes. eBay makes it really easy to list things and Paypal makes the transaction of money easy but I still find the shipping part the hardest. Especially with fragile items. I had one dish break in shipping and the buyer was nice about it. He sent me a photo of the broken dish and I refunded him what he'd paid for it. I think we were both just sad it broke. He'd bought other pieces and I packed everything together, but not well enough for the post office to play football with the box. Fortunately magazines aren't breakable! Just heavy.

If this sale goes well, I'll be looking to clear out more stuff. I often donate things to the thrift store, but sometimes I feel there are items that should be matched with the right person and an online auction can find that person. Like these magazines. I doubt the thrift store would even take them.

And in case you're wondering, I might list some yarn on eBay. I have some listed for sale on ravelry but I don't think anyone's even looked at it. As for sewing stuff, I use the classifieds in patternreview and give a heads up here. That reminds me, I have a serger I'm not using...

Friday, April 04, 2008

Patterns, patterns, patterns

Joanns is having a Vogue pattern sale today through Sunday, but since I have to work 12 hours on Saturday and 10 hours on Sunday to support a test (bleh), today was pretty much my only day to get over there. There were some patterns I really wanted to get, so I stopped on my way to work this morning to increase my chances of getting them. Here were my picks:

I like the simple, retro look of V1043 . It could be real cute in a summery print.




V1048 seems to be a very popular choice among the sewing blogger community. I like it too.




V8489 is also a popular choice. I think this would look good on many figures and I think Vogue thought so too because it's one of their rare patterns that goes up to size 24.




I'd love to make creative t-shirts like Marcy Tilton. Maybe with V8497 I can.




V8499 is a bit of a risk. I dress somewhat conservatively but I think these pants could be a nice alternative to my usual jeans or sweatpants to create a casual, summer look. However, I don't think I'd wear them to work (nor would I wear sweatpants to work either!)




I like the simple lines of V8503 and I think v-necks are most flattering on me.




I don't need a handbag right now but I like the shapes of the bags in V8506.


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Works in progress

I'm in the midst of a hectic work week but I found a minute to grab some photos to show you some of my projects. Alas, no sewing but here are some knitting and weaving (yes!) projects:

Cashmere Lace Scarf

Cashmere lace

This is my current project. I consider this my first real lace project. I've done some lace patterns on a tank top and on socks but this is the first on in laceweight yarn. It looks kind of lumpy now but when it's blocked to lie flat, it should look lovely. The yarn is Belisa Cashmere and I purchased it at Stitches 2007 from Belisa Cashmere. They're an Australian company. It's a very easy lace stitch I think. It repeats every 10 stitches in the row and every 6 rows. I put a lifeline in, which is just a piece of thick thread that is threaded through each stitch at the end of the 6th row. This way if I mess up and can't easily fix it, I can just rip back to the lifeline, which will be holding the stitches and then I just reinsert the knitting needle. I've done this once so far! When I started I also used stitch markers to mark the stitch repeats across the row, but it turns out their well marked by a single column of stockinette so I just look for this and count to make sure I have 10 stitches.

Blue Socks

Socks almost done

These are 98% done (more than what's shown in the picture) and for some reason I just haven't finished them. If spinnity is reading this she's probably rolling her eyes and saying "just finish them already!" I like the yarn and I like the way they've turned out. I think I just haven't finished them because it will take some thinking to figure out where I left off. And I'd rather knit lace right now.

Weaving

My first weaving

This is my very first weaving project. It's fairly loosely woven because my thread is thinner than it should be for the size heddle (the slatted piece on the upper left of the picture, which keeps the warp yarns spaced properly). But it's just practice and my first weaving. It might be a table runner when I finish it and if that's the case then the cats will add their hair to it anyway.

I bought the loom, a Schacht Flip, back in August at a store closing sale. I was interested in getting a loom but hadn't researched it yet when this one came available. I'm happy with it although it does have limitations. I can only do basic weave on it although there are ways to do more patterns. I bought two back issues of Handwoven magazine off eBay that contain specific instruction for Rigid Heddle looms on how to weave with two heddles and how to change a pattern to work for a heddle. There's also the book by Betty Lin Davenport called "Textures and Patterns for the Rigid Heddle Loom" but it's out of print. There was one on eBay last week, but it is so sought after that it sold for $57. I've thought about trying to get the book from the library and photocopying it. Apparently the author is selling photocopies of the book too but even better, someone on Ravelry reportedly contacted the author and she says a new edition is coming out. Woohoo!