Chop shops and awards and sewalongs, oh my!

Monster post alert!

First up: I got sewing goodies for my birthday!  A rotary cutter, a mat, this pattern to make my own ironing aids, a straight edge for cutting and grainline measuring (all things I tend to borrow from my mom on a regular basis)…and of course, those two pieces of fabric. They’re both knits–the green is a rayon jersey, and the blue is made from hemp! They were given to me to make with this one Butterick pattern I recently picked up for a convertible jersey dress you’re supposed to be able to make 6 ways. All of the solid knits in my stash were a quarter-yard short of the necessary yardage, and I looked at the layout and there was no way around it. (Of course, now that I have fabric, I cannot find the pattern anywhere. How annoying is that?)

In preparation for my impending return to a more regular work schedule, I spent about 5 hours cutting things out in the basement yesterday, and only got through 2 things in my bagged-up pile (plus a super-quickie project to work on while sewing with a friend on Friday). It was just a day where there were lots of delays. Like the first knit top I cut out, I didn’t have quite enough fabric in the piece I’d originally pulled from the stash for it to work with the layout, so I had to swap it out for an entirely different one. And then I had to trace a pattern out of BurdaStyle. Which happened to be for a fully lined jacket. And then I discovered this….

Look at the flaws on this corduroy! I didn’t see it in the store because the piece was pre-cut and folded, and it was only along one selvedge. But there were quite a few of those worn, bleached-looking spots, and that definitely made my layout more complex. I ended up cutting the interior peplum out of the lining instead of the corduroy like it called for (which I’d imagine would probably work better anyway, given the weight difference in the fabrics with pleats, I’ll have to piece together the inside facing, and on the inside collar facing bit, I had to allow one of those spots inside the piece anyway.)

I’m hoping to maybe get one more thing cut out today, possibly 2, so I have a good base for starting back at work and still fitting sewing in. But in the meantime, I have some bloggy business to take care of, so here we go…

First off, I got an award from the lovely Hana at Marmota’s Dress Diaries!

 The award is for blogs that you enjoy that have less than 200 followers (and actually, I was surprised to read on hers how many I do have! I never pay attention to my own stats, truthfully.) So since I’m supposed to pass this on to 5 people, here are my picks (based on what Google sidebars told me about follower numbers):

1. Alessa at Farbenfreude. She always makes such lovely, well-constructed things, and it’s interesting to read the tidbits about her life in Germany. I’m also still completely in awe (and slightly jealous) of her “My Handmade Closet” page, since all of my attempts to construct something similar here have been an epic formatting fail so far.

2. Gail at My Fabrication. She’s one of the most frequent commenters here, which I so appreciate! She’s also great at finding wonderful fabric prints, and putting together a wardrobe that works with her “boho to the boardroom” aesthetic. (Also, her top banner picture of the moment just makes me laugh so much!)

3. Helena at Crafting My Own Style. She puts a lot of thought into making things that will fit and flatter and fill the gaps in her wardrobe, while balancing a life that includes a young kid. (Having lots of friends who have young kids makes me really impressed with anyone who can keep the creativity going while having one of those to take care of!)

4. Juliette at Sewing and Style Den. Her clothes are always so fashion-forward, and she does some great posts about fashion in general, as well as some good reviews of things like Burda magazine patterns.

5. Ginger at Ginger Makes. She’s newer to sewing, but puts together some great stuff! And since she’s also a knitter (as many of my sewing blogger friends seem to be) and has more experience with that, I enjoy seeing what she makes there. Gives newer-knitter me some inspiration!

Second order of business: I’ve decided to take on a new project. I actually found out about this loosely-organized “Check The Technique” sewalong through Alessa and Ginger awhile back, and was definitely pondering it. My recent adventures in jacket tailoring convinced me that I need to sign up for this one, because even though I think I can do a fairly good job on a lot of things, there’s always room for improvement. And with no deadlines or specific projects in mind, I can focus on the sewing techniques that I want to learn. I borrowed the list from Alessa, with a few modifications–vintage sewing isn’t really my thing, so there are a few things on the original list that I don’t really feel a need to learn, like “grading a vintage pattern”. I’d much rather focus on some fitting techniques for modern stuff. Also, there’s several things on here that I’ve played around with before, but I don’t feel like I really know how to do them yet, or it’s been awhile and I’d like a refresher course. So, without further ado, here’s my version of Check That Technique!

Things I just don’t know how to do that I want to learn:

  • Bound Buttonhole (attempted once, but with epic fail results)
  • Facing a shirt or dress (amending this to drafting a facing for that, as I’ve sewn facings quite often!)   
  • Faced hem
  • Scalloped Edge
  • Shirring 
  • Waist stay
  • Making and using a croquis (my addition, and this project is in the works atm….)
  • Making and using a pattern sloper (my addition)
  • Fitting adjustments: FBA (attempted here, but if my last attempt on that pattern was an indication, I failed….and then there was this, so clearly I don’t get it yet), that hip-to-waist thing (my addition)
  • Tailoring stuff: pad-stitching, hair canvas (my addition)
  • Bag-lining a jacket (my addition)

Things I’ve tried before that I want to improve on:  (with links to relevant projects)

  • Boning (haven’t done this one since, oh, before I started my blog)
  • Front Fly (my nemesis!)
  • Blind hem (it just always seems to show, dangit!)
  • Pintucks  (done here, but that was on a knit and I’ve never done it on a woven)
  • Inter-/Underlining a garment (done here, here and here, but I still feel like I need work here)
  • Making bias binding 
  • Welt pockets (because, you know, that)
  • Zipper: hand picked, lapped, invisible (I’ve done all 3 multiple times, but being comfortable with sewing zippers just seems to be that thing that eludes me! I still have to read the directions every time I sew an invisible one, and I’ve done it at least 20 times now!)
  • Getting the tension right on my serger (my addition)
  • Altering a pattern for design details (my addition, and one I’ve done a couple of times, but it only works out about half the time–I’m thinking of this one, which was less than stellar)
  • Regular stitched buttonholes (my addition– the automatic buttonhole sizer on my machine hasn’t worked since I had to replace the buttonhole foot that I broke, and I’ve been having trouble getting them consistent since.)
  • Seam Finishes: Bound, Faced (not even sure what this is!), Flat-felled
  • Sew Leather (or faux leather) (since the last time I tried was a disaster)
  • Sew Jeans (which I’m hoping the Craftsy class I got for my birthday will help with)
  • Ruching (because I kind of feel like I should get it looking better in the front than this or this)
  • Installing eyelets and rivets (my addition, because of this headache)
  • hemming sheer fabrics (my addition, and one example)
  • Adding a lining when it doesn’t call for one (my addition, since it always seems to complicate things. Like here. And here. And especially here.)
  • Sleeve vents (hopefully easier than this, the next time)
  • Fabric Dyeing, since it seems to be a hit-or-miss thing for me so far.

Been there, done that, got the shirt. (Or dress. Or skirt. Or whatever.)
(Note: I’m not saying there isn’t room to improve, just that I’m fairly confident in my ability to execute these well!)

  • Lining a dress (check, check and check)
  • Making a belt (check)
  • Making a fabric covered button (check)
  • Pockets: patch pockets (check), inset pockets (check)
  • Piping (check and check)
  • Finishes: Hong-Kong (check and check), Mock Flat-felled (check with waterproofing!), Serged (check on lots of things, but let’s use this as an example)
  • Sew pants (after last summer, I’m feeling much better about these!)
  • Sewing a shirt: collar & collar stand, (check) cuffs (check), placket (also check, though this technique does need some work)
  • Rolled hem (check)
  • Raglan Sleeve (check and check), kimono sleeve (check, even though I altered it later for practicality reasons)
  • Collar: mandarin collar (check and check), notched collar (check)
  • Matching fabric (stripes, or more stripes, or plaids-check)

Thank you for bearing with me during this super-long post, and have a lovely, creativity-filled day!


4 thoughts on “Chop shops and awards and sewalongs, oh my!

  1. Good luck working your way through the list. I always keep a few techniques in mind when I am sewing but I am nowhere near as organized as you seem to be. I do make goals each year but they are much more general. Last year I focused on seam finishes(no serger) and my clothing looks and wears so much better.


  2. Thanks for the shout-out, girl! And I loved reading your “Check the Technique” list! It's super fun to see what you want to learn and I'm looking forward to hearing about your experiences with new techniques!


  3. Why thank you Becky, I appreciate being appreciated! My list of what I need to learn to do well includes fly front trousers, welt pockets (check but I am no expert)and an FWA (fat waist adjustment) – a common sewing technique amongst we over 50s.


  4. Lots of stuff in this post! Yay for the birthday presents! I still don't have a rotary cutter and mat, I bet they're incredibly useful! And the fabrics look very pretty! Also, thanks for the award! (It's one that originated in Germany, btw – I think – “Liebster”=favorite (or dearest, actually, depending on the context). :D)

    Good “check the technique” list! I really like reading those, you added quite a few things that I hadn't actually thought of. Do keep us updated of your progress!


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