Friday, December 4, 2009

Moving right along.

Phew! Done with posting reviews of the last few items I sewed. Now I can move on to the next thing that's blocking my creativity:Yes, it's time to deal with the mess. The scary thing is that this is the traditional living room space (as opposed to the "family room" a little further in the house). That means this is the first thing people see when they walk in the front door. The last time my brother-in-law was here, he and my hubby touched on it - and all I overheard was something along the lines of "[SewShy] has a lot of cr*p". Well, it may be that to them, but it's a room full of potential to me, so hmph. I do need to organize though. I have an Ikea wishlist... but have to make do for now.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

PR backlog

I realized recently that I haven't been good about writing pattern reviews on the PR site for the garments I've created. Since I'm not sewing, I figured I can at least make progress by writing my reviews, so I'll try to get those done this weekend.
In the meantime - my usual filler - nail pics. I've had this combo on since Thursday night, and it's really stayed put!
(Please bear with the cell phone pictures. I'm just not ready to purchase a new camera yet...)
Sation "Plaza Plum" + Sally Hansen "Star Crossed"

Nice and sparkly in the sunlight. I always keep my colors super shiny with my favorite quick dry topcoat - "Out the Door" from my local Sally beauty supply store. There are people who swear by Seche Vite, but this one dries faster - I actually compared recently.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pattern for the cowl neck top

I dug up the pattern I used for the top mentioned in the last post. It's Butterick 3344, now out of print:

I'm back!

To blogging, that is. I went home to Nigeria for two weeks in early October. Most of the trip was good, but it was overshadowed by Delta's employees taking my carry-on luggage on the second flight, and taking it off the plane at the wrong airport. By the time I got it back (4 days later), their employees in either Dakar(most likely) or Abuja had gone through it and stolen money, my camera, and my gold jewelry. Very sad, very frustrating. This was on the way to Nigeria, so not a good thing for the start of a trip. Anyway, I don't want to speak more on that since it makes me very upset.
I've been back for a few weeks now, but just was not in the mood to blog (or sew even!). During that time, my hubby got strep throat, and a week and a half later (last Thursday) I also got it. Mine was caught just in time, however, so I didn't have to suffer like he did - he had been misdiagnosed as having the flu, and suffered fevers, chills, and the painful throat for over a week before being properly diagnosed and put on an antibiotic. Poor sweetie...

Bits and pieces... I did purchase some fabric while with my parents. I had planned to buy much more, but there was no electricity for the bulk of the day my Mom and I went fabric shopping. Unfortunately the owners of the one stall where she said there was a lot of great fabric had run out of petrol (gasoline) and so could not run their generator to provide electricity for their lights. Bummer. So below is a picture of the six fabrics I got.

This past weekend, I wanted to sew. However, my sewing area is a mess and I just didn't feel like tidying up or figuring out where everything should go. The previous weekend I had pulled out an unfinished project - a cowl neck blouse that I'd had hanging on the rack for over a year because it was too big. I finally got it finished on Sunday morning and wore it to church. I can't remember the pattern specifics (see it's been THAT long!), but will post once I do.

Of course, I couldn't leave the (still) unfinished jacket there, so I threw it on over the blouse. Here is the full ensemble. I still have to topstitch the edges and put buttons on, but I figured it's wearable either way.2/3 of my Sunday outfit made by me... a really nice feeling!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

UFO revisited

Remember this jacket? It's been worn by my dress form for months now as you can see here, but I took a look at it again on Saturday morning. Yes, I've gained back all the weight I lost last year, so I won't be able to button it, but aside from that, it still looks decent enough to wear. I had put in shoulder pads, which remedied my sloping shoulder issue a little.

So... I decided I wanted to put patch pockets on underneath the otherwise useless flaps. This meant re-opening the lining, which I did. That's accomplished, so the next steps are to close off the lining opening, do some topstitching, and add the buttons and buttonholes. I'm determined to wear it this fall. Hopefully will have pictures before the weekend.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

"Skirting" the issue

A skirt is easy to make, you just need two measurements, right? WRONG. VERY WRONG!
Maybe that's true for some people, but definitely not for those who have curves in all dimensions. Case in point - consider my skirt muslin:
See how that side seam is crooked and the skirt hikes up in the back? This is a problem I have with all RTW skirts - and why I hardly ever wear them anymore. So you can see, if I can conquer the fit, I can fill a HUGE void in my wardrobe. I'm especially frustrated with this because I'm going home to visit my parents next month, and it's still more socially acceptable to wear skirts there. At this rate, however, I won't have a single skirt to take back with me.

I know the problems. I have a protruding stomach and protruding rear end. I also don't have enough "hippage" to match the curve of the side seam from waist to hip - something I have no clue how to remedy, and is an issue on the pants pattern I'm working with as well.
I don't look too amused do I? Honestly, I'm so frustrated, I feel like ripping the muslin to shreds. I have this same problem with A-line skirts. A long time ago I made two, and I just made the seam dip lower in the back so it "looked" level from far away. However, like this one, the side seam was angled backwards.
Okay, talking about it has made me upset again. I want to cry because I have soooo much fabric just waiting for me to crack the fitting code. I have so many garments in my mind, but reality is just too cruel.

More on my next dilemma - the evasive pants pattern - later.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Brian Sews

Gold, Tanya, Sherril, Aminat:
Thank you SO much for your encouragement! You're right, I should dust myself off and work on something easy to build my confidence back up. I'm thinking of pulling Simplicity 3789 back out and creating another top or two. It will be a while, as I have a busy few evenings ahead and will probably not be able to sew until Sunday.

In other news...
I'd like to introduce Brian. Some of you know him as RocketBoy (now BrianSews) from PatternReview. I recently discovered that BRIAN HAS A BLOG! On it he shares a lot of great information, video demos, great machines, and a refreshing perspective on sewing. I find his blog especially fun to read because he's one of the few people who fearlessly approached (and conquered) sewing denim jeans! He is planning to start a weekly sewing show on his blog. Please check him out if you have a chance.

Off to sleep for me now...

Monday, September 7, 2009


Nothing new to show. Not that I haven't been sewing - on the contrary I've produced two skirt muslins and one pair of shorts. None of them fit properly. I'm despairing because it takes me so long just to work up a muslin...
So, I'm discouraged. I'll eventually post pictures of my non-fitting items, but right now am feeling too miserable to do so.
Huge sigh... where to go from here?

Monday, August 17, 2009

What I've been up to...

Where have I been? Out of town part of the time. I was a bridesmaid at a friend's wedding in Houston. Although we had a lot to do and didn't get enough sleep, we had an amazing time. These are friends from way back in our grade school days in Nigeria - some I've known since 1st grade. It was our first time being all together since we graduated high school - 14 years ago! Here I am on bridesmaid duty (pic taken by a friend on fb)I've been back from Houston for a week now though, so what else have I been up to? Working on this pattern Burda 8755. I received it in a batch of 4 Burda patterns from an ebay purchase. It's a pair of pants with a seam down each back leg that ends in a vent.
In the quest to make this a pattern I can use over and over, I decided to take some time making alterations. First I made the pattern as-is. It ended up tight, with a huge chunk of gaposis in the back waist. My junk definitely did not fit in that trunk.

Sooo... I graded up about a size and a half, and then armed with Nancy Zieman's Pattern Fitting With Confidence, I made the following changes:
- Lengthened the crotch
- Decreased the waist width
My next muslin (long shorts to conserve fabric) was right on with the fit (as in - I forgot to add wearing ease!), but the crotch length in the front was too long. This meant I then had to
-Shorten the crotch by moving length from the front crotch area to the back waistline.
- Add to the side seams for wearing ease

The result follows:

This was made with fabric I was gifted by a PatternReview member from whom I purchased some BWOF magazines. I added cording to the side seams and to the waistline. In hindsight I should have added it to the bottom waistband seam instead since it can't really be seen.
The fit in the back looks decent, and I really like the fact that the seams in the back serve as the darts that would otherwise have been there. I do still have to work on the front crotch length as indicated in this close-up. There is just too much fabric there. After making that adjustment, I may also need to increase the length and width of the front waist darts.
This is the first time I've put so much work into a pattern! I'm hoping it will be easier going forward. I'm a little disappointed that I'm still not quite there, but the light at the end of the tunnel is that once I get the fit right, this will be a fabulous TNT pattern, and I can just change the shape of the legs as I desire.
I already have some khaki-colored twill and some black "Rodeo" bottomweight fabric washed and lined up for two pairs of shorts once I've got the fit right. Then I'll try some pants in lightweight denim.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

BWOF 05/2009 dress 131 - Finished

I finished this dress tonight (and have to go to bed soon), so the pictures are not complete. Here's a peek at the finished garment.I've been really bad at putting up reviews on patternreview, so I need to get round to that sometime. I made this in a size 46.

BWOF 05/2009 dress 131

I completed the muslin for this dress last week. Here are some quick pictures I took.
The only real change I wanted to make was to raise the neckline at the center front by about 1 inch. I also planned to have the straps fasten a little lower on the bodice.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Next project

Before I go on, I want to thank all of those who took a moment to comment on my last (first) dress project. I really appreciate the encouragement and suggestions! The dress made its debut at church two weeks ago. In spite of the fit issues, I felt very comfortable in it, and can't wait to make another one! I also really liked the lining in the Kona cotton muslin fabric. The muslin itself wrinkles easily, but does a great job of keeping the outer fabric from wrinkling. This dress helped to to realize the importance of that concept.

This past Sunday, it seemed like all the ladies were wearing sleeveless cotton dresses like mine. I guess I was one week ahead of that trend! I will have to work on the pattern some more to perfect the fit, but for now I wanted to try another simple dress. I chose the dress pattern from the May 2009 Burda World of Fashion (Dress 131)
As you can see, it's a simple dress. The muslin was completed yesterday and fits relatively well. The only change I will be making is to redraft the V of the front neckline so it is not as low. I will post a picture of the muslin as soon as I get a chance to do so! Hopefully I'll be able to start on the actual dress tomorrow evening.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Out of town

I've been quiet lately because I'm out of town for a conference in Boston. Hopefully will sew another dress or a top this weekend...

Monday, July 6, 2009

My first dress! Simplicity 4118

I made my first dress this weekend - which is so exciting for me! The pattern is Simplicity 4118, a Threads pattern.

(still needs hemming) I made minimal changes to the pattern, and actually did make a muslin first. I can see if I make this again I will have to do at least the following:
1. Swayback adjustment
2. Use the original side seam allowances and blend to a larger size in the hips.
3. Figure out how to keep the top of the center back seam (see below) from sticking out.

I used a cotton print from Joann and lined it with Kona cotton muslin. It's very comfortable...

I also used an invisible zipper, so I had to change the construction steps a little. It was surprisingly easy, although I still didn't get it quite even at the top.

I'm ready to try another dress pattern. This one will probably get hemmed and worn - in spite of the fitting issues. It took me a day and a half to make, but the instructions were pretty good, and great for a first dress.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Almost finished...

I recently joined the American Sewing Guild, and have attended two of the neighborhood group meetings for my area. My group is made up of some wonderful ladies, all with a plethora of skills. Our last meeting was a UFO (unfinished object) challenge, where we were supposed to bring in something we had finally finished the week before.
Well, it's still not finished, but it was pretty close, so I brought in the Simplicity 3628 jacket. Here are pictures taken during the meeting (thanks Peggy!).

What's left? The hem and buttons/buttonholes...

Friday, June 19, 2009

A little progress

I've been procrastinating on my current jacket because I absolutely LOATHE putting sleeves in. Here is what is done so far. I messed up the binding on the corners of the collar, so I have to figure out how to fix it without having to take take the collar off completely...
I also realized (after stitching a pattern into the sleeve hems, of course) that the sleeves should probably be much shorter than they currently are.

Honestly, I'm sewing a lot in my head - I have a closet full of summery cotton blouses and fabulously fitting pants and jeans already(in my mind) - if I could just make that a reality...

It was a busy day at work yesterday and I wanted something quick and easy to work on. I have been into making my own earrings lately, so I decided to make a bracelet to match a pair of earrings I made recently. Well, 4 bracelets and two pairs of earring later:
I already had the top left and bottom right earrings made, but everything else was started and finished this evening. I'm still an amateur, obviously, but it's so amazing how easily and cheaply some jewelry can be made. All the beads are glass or polished stone. I had fun!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Memorial day, more nails, and new project.

Memorial day weekend was gorgeous. My in-laws came over on the Saturday of the weekend, and we spent most of the day like this...
That's my mother-in-law and my niece - faces blurred for privacy, of course. The water felt awesome!

Next I give you... more nailpolish pictures! I know, I know, this is getting ridiculous. But hey, I'm just starting to get my sewing mojo back, so there will be a finished project soon.

Sation - "18K gold", covered by Sally Hansen "Gold Star"

Sally Girl - "Pea-body" - an exact match to a ring I got at Laila Rowe a few months ago. These are cute polishes in mini-bottles for 99 cents (89 if you have a Sally card) and are great for trying out colors you wouldn't normally wear.

On the sewing front: I had a jacket cut out for a few weeks and finally started working on it Monday night. Of course, after such a long sewing hiatus, I had to do something wrong, right? I sewed the wrong two pieces of the front together. If you notice, one side has the blue line running the length of the grain, and the other doesn't. Sigh...
More on this jacket - and the piping dilemma on the collar - later!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

It works :)

I sat down and cleaned up the new machine this afternoon. It was actually quite clean already, just very dusty on the back - which means it was probably stored away for a long time. I also temporarily moved the knee pedal to the floor since my legs are too long to fit under the table. I plan to get some risers later today so the machine can sit higher. Then I'll put the pedal back to the knee position.
Then I tried it out - adjusting the tension, trying out a buttonhole, trying out a few cams. It works beautifully. It's so interesting to see cams make the same stitches that are now automatic in modern machines. I also was amazed at just how quiet this machine is. It has an engine and belt, so I expected it to sound like an industrial, but no way! I'll probably give the machine some oiling before I use it properly. Nice! Now I just have to figure out what to sew next. I have a short sleeve jacket cut out. We'll see if I get to it this weekend.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Since I'm not sewing, more nailpolish

I didn't sew. So what else is new? Here are pictures of polish I had on this last week, however. I'm trying China Glaze for the first time because they have a lot of non-standard colors I'm attracted to. I tried the colors "Recycle"(gray) " and Shower Together" (blue) . Love the colors, but neither seemed to stay on as long as the Sation brand that I've recently been using.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Yummy color - I just HAD to post it

After today's house cleaning, my old nail polish was barely hanging on. I decided to paint my nails while I looked through the new sewing machine manual. Now, as much as I love nail polish, I didn't really plan to start posting about it (I've been reading alot of polish blogs lately though!), but I stumbled on a color I just have to share. I decided to dig into my stash of nail polish because I'm trying to wear all my old polishes so I can decide which ones work for me and which I should give away.

Enter Revlon Street Wear. The color I picked is called "Drab", which I think is pretty descriptive. I've had this bottle for... hmmm... probably 8 or 9 years? Surprisingly enough, the back of the bottle says "Formaldehyde and Toluene free". I was surprised at this, because it seems some of the more popular (aka salon laquers) nail polishes only started leaving these ingredients out in the past couple of years. I guess Revlon was ahead of the game.
Anyway, I digress. As soon as I put the first coat on, I was wowed. It's a gorgeous color that immediately made me feel like putting on my hubby's old army jacket just so I could wear something to match my nails! Silly, I know, but the color is a rich creme that is just delicious to look at. Looks like I won't be giving this one away!


Today was "get some of that housework you've been slacking on done" day. Once I was finished with the cleaning I had planned for the day, I went to the Salvation Army store to drop off some books, shoes, and pants (the latter two brand new, so hopefully they'll make someone really happy!)
Well, you know how it is. You drop your donations behind the store and then, naturally, you go in to take a peek at what they've got for sale.
I've been needing a little lamp on a tall dresser I have, and here are two beauties I found!!

When I tried them in the store, I couldn't figure out where the knobs were, so I assumed there were none and the bulbs had gone out. In spite of that, I couldn't resist the price - $2.99 each - so I figured they'd just be pretty display items if they didn't work.

Well, I just tried them at home and realized they're the kind of lamps you tap to turn on - and they're three-way. I have a lamp like this already, but it's more modern. I was so excited about having these with the same feature, I called my hubby to show him (not a small feat, as he was watching a movie and very much into it). His response? "Oh, of course, my mother has a lamp like that, didn't you know?" Well duh, if I did I wouldn't have dragged you away from your movie, would I? Tee hee...

I'm actually thinking since I got a "pair" (they're similar enough to call them that) I think I'll use them in the guest room instead - and move the one lamp I have in there to the spot where I needed one on my dresser. Problem solved!

Okay, so of course I saved the best for last. What else did I stumble into? I was perusing the furniture and stumbled into a curious looking little desk. It looked so plain, I was intrigued. Well guess what it turned out to be?! A sewing machine!!! You should have seen me, I looked around to make sure no one else had seen it first. And it was donated just yesterday too! Now, I don't need another sewing machine. I already have two and one serger. But come on, could you have resisted? I couldn't. You know why? The price was right. How much was it, you ask?

Breathe.... Look at her... she needs a dusting, but she works!

It's a Montgomery Ward - Model number URR 1839. I have no idea if it's any good, but the light came on and it ran when I pushed the knee pedal. It also came with a box of cams, the manual, two feet, six bobbins, and some screwdrivers. The strange thing is, when I was browsing the store prior to this discovery, I saw a box of cams in the "bric brac" area, and was a little sad, thinking someone had a machine somewhere that could use them, but they had been orphaned.
It turns out it was the same brand! I went back after finding the machine and grabbed that box in addition to the one included with the machine.
Well, off I go to clean up my thrift store finds (see what can happen when you go in to donate stuff you don't use?) It's amazing, because I'd been meaning to go drop off that stuff for months, and finally got a chance to drive over today... Yaaay!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Finally done... good grief...

I found that even though I have a lot of other projects in my mind, I just couldn't get to any of them until I finished the jacket I had been working on in March.

Yesterday I decided to just get it over with so as to clear my creative palette. (Of course, there's still my MIL's jacket that isn't finished). This project has just been around too long. I finished everything except the buttons, buttonholes, and whatever top stitching I decide to do.

Here are the pictures of the almost complete (In my mind, complete) jacket. I don't like how it looks on me - especially since I've gained weight since the last time showed it, so the dress form will model for me. The last pic just gives a glimpse of the lining.

I'll finish up what's left... sometime. No rush, since I won't be wearing it anytime soon.

Now I need to tidy up my sewing space and table before I can think of my next project (I've been wanting to make a dress - especially in my Nigerian fabric). I bought some muslin on Friday and hopefully can start on a test garment tonight - if I don't get lazy, that is.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I don't think I'm going to make it

The "1 pattern many looks" contest deadline that is. Reason? I think my sewing mojo decided to stay and enjoy New York City for a little longer. Every time I walk past the dress form with my incomplete jacket on it, I just don't feel anything. And to think I'm supposed to complete two jackets by the 31st. Sigh...
I had a great time in the city last week though!! It was so refreshing to be with my friends - we all went to the same school in Nigeria from elementary through high school, so we have quite a bit of history together. It was great being around people who share the same values, cultural upbringing, and past experiences. I miss them so!
Unlike me, my favorite bloggers are sewing, so I've got plenty of inspiration! Maybe my sewing mojo will take the red-eye back to California this weekend.

Monday, March 16, 2009


I didn't finish my jacket and can't work on it now because I'm on the other side of the country... Not going to be doing any fabric or notion-related shopping either because I'm here to hang out with my friends from grade through high school. Fun!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Jacket progress

Rounding third base... I still have to sew the lining sleeves onto the lining bodice, then attach the lining and facing to the jacket. I can do that in one night, right? Hopefully I'll have it complete tomorrrow night. Here is the jacket shell on me. This fabric shows me better where I need to work on fitting issues, but I'm so excited - I like it! I like the color against my skin, I really like the subtle yellow stripes in the fabric... now I can go to sleep smiling. Here are the quick pics I took. Not trying to look pretty - I've been up since 4am and it's 10:13pm now. Off to bed.