Monday, May 23, 2011

Cleaning Out

Sewing is a hobby that involves a lot of stuff. Unlike knitting or crochet, where you just require the wool and needles or hook, with sewing you need lots of tools, plus space for cutting out. And, as most sewers find, you will have a lot of fabrics in the stash, plus patterns, and perhaps books as well.

One of my collections (amongst many) are Burda magazines. I even have some dating back to the year 1991 - that is 20 years worth of magazines! Not that I have all issues, but some years - from 2000 to 2010, I do have all twelve issues plus the Burda Plus issues as well.

This is one magazine that I am unable to throw out. Probably because of the patterns that come with each issue, it means that I would be throwing out the equivalent of a drawer of patterns with each magazine. Also, I am amazed at how Burdas don't seem to date.

As I was sorting through the piles, I was surprised to see covers that were very attractive and that I thought I had just looked at yesterday, only to be surprised to see the issue was from 2001 or 2002.

When I had my sewing business (Timmel Fabric online fabric sales), I had subscriptions to several magazines and could justify them by the fact that they were a business expense. But that is not so anymore. And this past year, I actually canceled my Burda subscription as I couldn't justify the price for the number of times I use them. The truth is - I have not used them enough, not nearly enough.

True, my favourite jean jacket is from Burda 2007 and my all-time favourite pant pattern is from an issue ten years ago. Plus capris, plus a jean skirt, and a linen dress that I have made three times.

But Burda has changed. Gone are the number of patterns they give, plus the marvellous editorial from Aenne Burda, and the clothes are geared towards a very young trendy working woman, not a matronly retired grandmother.

So, now the mags have all been sorted and piled by year, in order from the earliest to the latest, and placed on four shelves where they are easy to get to.

And this afternoon, I will finish a pair of pants from a Burda catalogue pattern. They really are well-drafted and timeless; if you have never tried a Burda, give it a shot - they may just become your favourite pattern company.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Grandchildren Photos

I have been away for about ten days, traveling with my husband to Maine and then on to Ontario to visit our daughter Elena and her family.
Some photos of the grandchildren:

After a short visit with Elena's family, Nick headed out to do some work and he took the dog. He is a professor of geology and in the summers, he goes out into the field, mapping rock outcrops in Ontario. Algonquin Park, which is a huge national park, has never been mapped for its rocks and it is Nick's intention to get this done before he retires. I flew on to Fredericton, where I spent two days, as I had been asked to be the keynote speaker at their March for Life rally this past Thursday. I got much more out of this event than I gave to it, and I was grateful to meet the wonderful New Brunswick people who welcomed me. We were fortunate to have a break from all the rainy weather and the sun actually came out and shone and it felt warm. You have to know the Maritime provinces to realise that is something we relish when it comes - sun and warmth - all too infrequent, I'm afraid.

No sewing done these past two weeks, but I have been knitting. And in Maine, I visited a delightful little yarn shop in Orono. It is Fiberphilia, a lovely shop and the lady working there was very helpful. Although I learned to knit as a teen, I haven't really done much for years and the new yarns are a mystery to me. She helped me pick out a lovely purple wool for a simple sweater I saw in the Vogue knitting magazine.

This shouldn't be too hard, it is all garter stitch done on circular needles (which surprised me) but what really attracted me to the pattern was the basketweave ribbing.

My husband remarked that I always have some knitting on the go, but he never sees a completed sweater. That's true, and the reason is that they always turn out way too big. Either my tension or the wrong yarn, but they are massive and for some reason, I can't judge this as I knit. With sewing, I know how to measure and alter the pattern, but somehow knitting and the fit escapes me. But I like to have something to do with my hands while watching a movie (Nick and I never watch TV, just interesting British serials) so I make about one sweater per year. And when I sew it up, I find it massive so I give it away.

Which is why I never say I will knit a sweater for anyone, because then they would simply be disappointed. This way, someone gets a sweater that they weren't expecting. Not that I make a lot, but there have been a couple of garments donated to a larger person.

Hopefully, this new one will fit as the lady in the store assured me the yarn was the right one for the gauge indicated in the pattern.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Jacket #4 Complete

I am pleased with this simple little jacket. It is easy to make and, in the right fabric, this pattern is a valuable addition to the wardrobe. In fact, I have plans to make it again in a black lightweight linen as I have two summer dresses that would benefit from a little black jacket.

Would I recommend the pattern? definitely.
Will I make it again? I already have plans for another one.
Did it look like the pattern picture? Yes, and it was easy to fit with almost no alterations. It ran true to the measurements on the pattern envelope.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Skirt and Jacket Progress

The skirt is from Kwik Sew 2956, an old favourite in my pattern stash, for a 6-fore skirt that is miles too long for me. I had previously folded out 2" on this pattern, and took another 1" out, but it is still long. I am probably going to chop off 3" from the bottom (skirts are definitely shorter these days than in previous years) but I will wait until the jacket is finished so that I can check the skirt length with the jacket that I will wear with it most often. The fabric is a linen/rayon blend that washes well. It is still a little stiff but I know it will soften with wear and washing and will become a favourite skirt.

The jacket is Simplicity 2227, a pattern that caught my eye when I fell for the 5 Simplicity patterns for $5 a couple of weeks ago at Fabricville. The fabric is a tencel denim from the stash. I have made a skirt from this fabric before, as well as capris, and it is a beautiful fabric to work with and to wear. Not all tencels are equal; this one is great.

The only alteration I made to the pattern was to use Sandra Betzina's method for reducing shoulder width. She advises tracing off the original shoulder and armscye, then placing it on top of the pattern, bringing the end of the shoulder line to where you want it to be, and lining up the side seams of the two patterns. This brings the bottom of the armhole up, but keeps the armhole the exact same size so that the sleeve is not affected. I find dropped shoulders look really sloppy on me and this should correct that issue.

I don't tend to use a lot of sewing gadgets, but this one by the Clover company has certainly proved invaluable. It is a corner presser, and it really helps to get nice rounded corners on pockets, flaps, collars, etc. You place the correct shape on your piece and then wrap the seam allowances over, holding them in place with the little corner gripper. Then press the heck out of them. After pressing, you can trim the seam allowances down and press again. This sure saves your fingers from the steam.

The last thing I want to share is a tip I got from Jan Bones, a sewing instructor I met probably a dozen years ago in Toronto. Her website is Sewing Lingerie and Jan is an instructor, pattern maker, and lingerie expert. She had a little booklet called Pockets that was available in the lecture I attended at the Toronto Needlework Show.
She had a great tip for sewing patch pockets on garments and getting the positioning correct. Pin one pocket in place and check that it is correct. Then place the second pocket on top of the first pocket, right sides together, then place the garment piece for the second pocket on top of the pocket, and pin through that piece and the pocket. Then lift the garment piece off, and the second pocket should be in the identical place on this piece as the first pocket is on the other side. Sometimes, I have measured, double checked with the pattern and still something looks off. This method is a further check to be sure that your patch pockets will be symmetrical.

This jacket is very simple to sew, and the pockets and flaps are probably the hardest bit. So it should be fairly quick sewing from here on, and I hope to have this outfit ready to take with me when we go to Maine and then on to Ontario for the grandchilden's First Communion on May 15.