Pjs

Here is the fifth or sixth pair of PJs for Awesome Hubby! Improvements this time include lowering the buttonholes (which will require lengthening the rise next time, a reversal of a past alteration).

Simplicity 2451

I have made this skirt previously, and reviewed it here.

I made this skirt a second time, this time using a nice but scratchy brown wool from my stash. The wool was a much, much better fabric choice for this pattern than the khaki was. This time around this skirt is undoubtably the best thing I’ve ever made (so far).

I cut a size 12, this time keeping the skirt length “as is” on the pattern. Lacking anyone to help me with fitting, I pretty much stitched it as is. The resulting skirt sits about an inch below my bellybutton. I actually think that is where it is designed to be, but to my eye it would look better at my waist, which is much higher up (I’m short waisted).

I noticed more flaws with the instructions this time around, including neglecting to mention when to press and trim the facing before topstitching. The pattern also has you press the yoke facing up by 1/4″, but does not have an instruction to stitch that folded part down before “stitching in the ditch” to anchor the facing to the yoke. I suppose that step is left out because you are supposed to catch the hem when you sew down the facing . . . but in my case, the results were not neat and I ended up ripping and redoing.

I suggest that people who are new to sewing either have a reference book handy, or another skirt’s instructions nearby to double check this pattern’s instructions. Even if some of the directions aren’t wrong, they are not the best way IMHO to do things.

This time around, I put in an invisible zipper instead of a lapped zipper. I think it makes the skirt look dressier. I also used my coverstitch machine to do a double row of topstitching in blue on the pockets. I was going to do some on the yoke, too, but have reconsidered since the skirt sits well below my waist.

Dress Form

My sewing activity today was assembling and attempting to pad out my new dress form. I . . . think it was a success, though time will tell whether I duplicated my shape well enough to help me in my sewing.

I started with an adjustable form sold by Yamata on Amazon. The thing that has prevented me from getting an adjustable form in the past is size. I am very flat chested (30A) and short waisted (my husband measured me at 14.5″ a few years ago). Most standard-issue dress forms are for women who have B cups and 16″ back waist measurements.

The Yamata petite adjustable form, however, was described as “juvenile” in form, and has a back waist measurement of 15″, which is very close to what I am.

Here I am with the mannequin at it’s smallest size. I clearly had a lot of building up to do, for which I used the Fabulous Fit Dress Form System in Medium.

The form itself went together easily, and is simple to adjust in terms of height. The stand is, as reviewers described, a bit less sturdy than one would like, but it is good enough.

The bigger problem  is that it doesn’t hold adjustments well. Multiple times, as I worked on padding the form out, I would hear a pop and the form would lose half an inch in circumference.

Not good.

But my choices are the Yamata form or a custom-made form, and I’m not ready to spend the kind of money necessary to go custom.

Eventually, I put pieces of styrofoam in the openings in multiple places to offer additional support and relieve strain on the mechanisms. By the time I finished, I had put styrofoam at waist level, hip level, chest level, arm level, and in the shoulders.

 The Fabulous Fit system had decent instructions, and between them, my old measurements made by my husband, and new ones taken on the fly, I was able (I think) to get a good idea of what shape I am now.

Fabulous Fit was not equipped to deal with my bosom, so I ended up using one of my bras to adjust my top measurements. Not, alas, one of my old ones, because the old one didn’t hold it’s shape well enough anymore.

However, the nice thing about the Fabulous Fit system is that it can be used to deal with individual variability. In my case, I have scoliosis, which means that one side of my waist is quite indented, and the other is much straighter. I also have one hip that is higher than the other.

I was able, I think, to duplicate that asymmetry fairly well:

After getting all the pads adjusted and the top cover on my form, I quintuple-checked the main measurements (high bust, bust at the widest point, under bust, waist, hips). They all match me.

Then, I put my new skirt on the form and took a good look. I will not call the experience heartening, because I immediately saw that the fit was worse than I liked to think. However, I think the dress form is correct. I see the same fit issues that bothered me on my own body, namely that the front of the skirt is collapsing under the yoke, and the whole thing is a bit overlarge.

 

I think if I had had this dress form while I was making it, I would have gotten a better result.

My NYC Craft Room in Idle Mode

 
wp-image-1971637256jpg.jpgBehold my craft room in “idle” mode. This room started out as a hallway with two double deep closets. Probably when our apartment was built, this would have been a his-and-hers dressing room. For the first several years we lived in this apartment, one of the closets held my fabrics and yarns, the other held my cat’s litter box (private bathroom for the kitty!), and my sewing machines were set up on folding tables in the hallway.

It worked, but it was not ideal. There was little room to work,  my supplies were a pain to get to, everything got covered in dust from the kitty litter, and it just wasn’t nice to be in there working.

Two years ago, we had to gut and renovate our bathroom, so while we were having that work done we took out the double closets in our craft room.  wp-image-179644292jpg.jpg

What I was left with was an empty, windowless room of about 6′ x 8 that still had to serve as workroom, storage space, and cat-room.

Eventually, I decided to order two Sauder wardrobes. One of them is a regular storage wardrobe, while the other is their hideaway craft table. The fit nicely side-by-side, leaving just enough room in between themselves and the walls to store a drying rack and an ironing board.

I’ve also got my yarn tucked away in fabric cubes, away from the dust and curious kitty claws (very important).

wp-image-433552324jpg.jpg

Finally, since I have to have kitty’s litter box in the same room as my machines, and the dust and grit made the room unpleasant and was bad for my machines, I switched to pine pellet litter. I cannot understate how much of an improvement the pine litter is in every way. No more dust, no more grit on the floor. It is easy to sweep up any pellets that get scattered, and I no longer worry about my sewing machines getting gummed up with clay dust.

This is still a work in progress. I’m still trying to decide what the best way to store my thread and fabric is, and my patterns are uncomfortably squashed in two standing fabric organizers that are left over from a previous attempt at craft-closet organization.

`wp-image-92889596jpg.jpg

Later, I will post pictures of my craft room in “working” mode.

 

 

My Expensive Buttonholes

I absolutely love my Baby Lock Molly, but the one thing that didn’t please me was the single, automatic buttonhole. It just never seemed very nice. I know the Molly is capable of a nice buttonhole, because once the repair person demonstrated for me and it came out great . . . but somehow I never managed to duplicate his adjustments.

Not liking the buttonhole option has kept me from considering making tops that have visible buttons, which is limiting.

So I have bought a new sewing machine principally for buttonholes. Yesterday, I received my Brother 660LA, which seems to be a great machine despite it’s hot pink detailing. Right out of the box, the tension and stitch density on the buttonholes were much better than I ever got from my Molly—and this without a single adjustment, and on a single layer of muslin with no interfacing or button cording.

This machine has a lot of other features to play with, including many decorative stitches and three sets of fonts for lettering, meaning I could do some light monograming.

My little craft room is filling up with machines. It feels kind of crazy, but I love it . . . and if I’m going to be home a lot, I might as well have many things I can play with here.

Craft Room Solutions

Living in NYC, space is at a premium. Ever since I started to sew and knit, I’ve been trying to find ways to hide my machines and supplies. Whenever I start a project, I must haul out all my tools, which invariably take over our dining area/foyer and part of our living room.

It is such a hassle to store away my supplies after an hour or two of work, so all stays out.

Finally, I think I have found a solution.

It’s a craft cart on casters. I assembled it during a bout of insomnia last night and spent this evening labeling drawers and going through my disorganized bits and bobs.

My thought is that I can wheel it out each day, stationing it either by my “cutting table” or in front of the couch, or even in the office if I want to hang out with my Awesome Hubby.

To encourage me to put tools away immediately, I divided drawers by function.

They are:

  • Cutting/Pinning
  • Mending/Hemming (Tools)
  • Test Scraps (cutoffs of current project fabrics that I can use to test stitches)
  • Tracing
  • Knitting (Tools)
  • To Mend
  • To Rip/Tink
  • Muslins
  • And four “Project” drawers to store supplies for current or upcoming projects.

I could use a clip on light and some sort of hanging bucket on one side to store overlong objects like yardsticks and rolls of tracing paper. Unfortunately, I have not yet found what I need.

Suggestions on how I could make this setup better are very welcome.

Update

I found this nice drawstring bag stuffed into a drawer, and it ties neatly onto the side of my cart to store oversized items. Very useful and easy!