Follow by Email

Saturday, October 27, 2012


One of the problems when dealing with UFOs is the person who finishes the garment has no idea what the person who started it was thinking - even if it's the same person!

While working on a discarded project, it becomes increasing clear that the person who started the stupid thing was right Out to Lunch. What on earth were they doing??? No wonder the thing ended up in the UFO pile. 

Other questions arise such as: Which pattern was used? Were there any construction instructions? Where is the rest of the fabric? What happened to the notions? And, worst of all, why isn't this working?!?

It's like trying to construct a jigsaw puzzle with your teeth - because you're hands are tied behind your back. The pieces may end up chewed and soggy, but the good bit is they flatten back out real nice when you beat them with your forehead.

I decided to start with something easy (ha!) and finish two black-and-white t-shirts I'd cut out and partially sewn at a guild sew-in a couple of years ago. At the time, I figured I could finish them both in that session (double ha!).

The flowered one was almost complete - only the hems were left. I'd planned to coverstitch both shirts when I finished the striped one.

As I worked on the striped shirt, the vague recollection of struggling with the sleeves on the flowered shirt popped to mind. Once again, I realized the sleeve cap was a good 1cm smaller in circumference than the armscye. As with the first shirt, I used the stretchiness of the fabric to compensate, but the stripes ended up a little wonky.

Flower Power and Jailbird have left the UFO pile
Then I noticed the hemline. The stripes were slightly off on it, too. Obviously I'd cut on the fold - both sides at once - instead of as a single layer, which is the way striped fabric should be cut. I was close to finishing, so I continued.

Now that they're done, I can't say that I'm thrilled with either one. While I like the fabrics - especially the flowers - the fit is off. And here's the really weird part - the fit of the striped shirt is worse than the flowered one, even though they were cut at the same time from the same pattern. The shoulders on the striped shirt slide towards the back more.

Is it because the striped fabric was slightly off grain? Or is it the difference between the two knit fabrics (flower - poly/lycra, stripe - cotton/lycra)? 

At any rate, time to celebrate this (flawed) victory. Two t-shirts have officially exited the UFO pile. Alas, many still to follow.

What about you? Any UFO sightings around your sewing area?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

UFO Sightings

Pile of UFOs on and beside the Singer table.
See the basket below? It may get filled....
This is the pile of UFOs (unfinished objects) I found yesterday while shovelling out my sewing room. <sigh> So many. So many!

How I loathe UFOs. There's usually a very good reason for abandoning a project. The Big 3 are: 1) fitting problem, 2) construction problem or 3) something more urgent/enticing came along. Often it's 1 or 2, and then 3 appears, so I tuck the offending garment away.

I'm determined to work my way through the stack. Either the garment will be finished or it will be tossed. None will be left half-done. The trick is to figure out how to clear the pile without  tossing them all out (bad) or losing my mind (worse).

Cleaning up my sewing sanctuary took all day yesterday. I went overboard and tackled the pattern storage problem too, culling a few.

Cutting table (as uncluttered as it gets)
Here's the end result.
Other sewing area. This Singer is the treadle
twin to the one with the stack of UFOs

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Buzz Killer

For me, this is the worst sewing buzz killer:

Yep, that's my sewing table. Messy isn't it? And that's just the table! There is stuff piled on every surface. Mounds of it. I'm too embarrassed to show it all. Let's just say, that's the cleanest part of the room. I'll let you imagine the rest.

The problem is I love all things sewing. Fabric. Patterns. Thread, Trims. Elastics. Magazines. This much passion requires diligent organization. Or else the above happens.

In my defence, we've been doing a big kitchen renovation. (Yay!) Stuff was dumped in the sewing room that shouldn't have been. (Boo!) Worst of all, I didn't organize the things that did belong in there. (Double boo!)

Things piled up. Newly purchased stuff. Half-finished projects. Patterns under consideration and the fabrics that might go with them. 

In spite of the chaos, I really, really wanted to sew, so I decided to ignore it. I shifted stuff around, clearing whichever surface I needed at the moment. As you can imagine, mixing the piles like that added to the disorganization. If there'd been any order before, it was gone after the scoop-and-dump of quickly cleared surfaces.

Being creative in a messy space is difficult for me. It distracts me, kills my sewing mojo. Although it's a terrible waste of perfectly good sewing time, I have to conquer the chaos. I have to organize that mess.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Making a Splash

Kwik Sew 3153, which was almost a UFO
Summer officially ended a month ago, and I just finished my swimsuit. <sigh> Let's pretend I'm really, really early for next year's beach weather. Besides, it's so gorgeous, I have to forgive myself for being pokey. The end result was worth the wait!

I used Kwik Sew 3153. It's a tank-style suit, with a shelf bra and a back band with a hook closure. I traced the medium, my standard Kwik Sew size, and lengthened the bodice by an inch below the waist. Next time, I'm going to flatten the front leg curve a little so it follows the curve of my leg crease instead of curving up in the torso. Small detail.

I'm also going to widen the back band a tad. It's a bit skimpy and, I feel, out of proportion with my broad linebacker's back. I know most people like skimpy backs for tanning, but as I usually just burn, the tanning appeal is lost on me.

The fabric is a nylon-lycra knit bought at Ann's Fabric Shop in Hamilton, Ontario. (If you're in the Niagara region, check out this store! I never leave there without a bulging bag of material.)

As you can see from the photos, the print is a bold mix of blue and green swirling lines. My chief concern, when cutting it out, was that none of those lines swirl into my crotch.

I cut the front on the fold and - you guessed it! - the underside had a misplaced swirl. Disappointing but no big deal as I had more fabric. So I cut out the front again, using the first one as the pattern (after double-checking the swirl positions). Success! The first cut piece then became the full-front lining.

Powernet shelf bra continues into back band.
Foam cup inserts
For the shelf bra, I used flesh-colored powernet, the fabric used in bras. It's not as stretchy as the swimsuit fabric, which is the reason I used it. I don't need "the girls" bouncing all over the place, or worse, sagging. Powernet lets me keep my bosom where I want it. The back band is also lined with powernet.

Some people use powernet for front and back linings. The power in powernet smooths bumps and slims bulges. It acts, in essence, like built-in Spanx. However, that figure control comes with a cost - the swimsuit is much warmer (as in hot!) and the feeling of all-torso compression gets to most people within an hour or two. So I voted no to the powernet lining, even though my figure could use the help.

In the shelf bra, I inserted foam cups. They add shape (remember the compressing power of powernet) and offer protection from cold-water show through of the twin peaks.

I used 3/8"/1cm chlorine-friendly swimsuit elastic along the outer edges as the 1/4" didn't feel substantial enough. This lyrca print has a lot of built-in oomph, and I felt the narrower elastic would lose the battle of who's in control.

The straps are also lined in powernet to control their stretchiness, and each outside edge is finished with elastic. (The pattern has one strip of elastic going up the middle, with both edges turned over it.) My straps still stretch but they don't sag, even after swimming. Plus they're a tad wider which is more in proportion with my broad shoulders.

Blurry photo of 3-thread coverstitch finishing
All elasticised edges were stitched with a 3-thread coverstitch. This looked fabulous - especially on the straps - and was easy-peasy until I had to attach the straps to the back band and add the back fastening. Then it all went south.... To be fair, it was finished garment piece being sewn to finished garment piece, so there were a lot of layers of print fabric, powernet, and elastic. More than one needle broke, and more than one curse was uttered. These final stitches were sewn with my regular sewing machine, slowly and carefully, but still a needle broke.

It's a cute pattern, easy to sew. It's comfy, has great coverage. Next time I'll use a 2-thread coverstitch for finishing as there are fewer needles to break. I'm thrilled it's done; this poor swimsuit had been buried in my UFO (unfinished objects) pile for several months.