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I Did Some Sewing! (*ahem* And Blendering..)

Simplicity 2758 Wool SkirtSimplicity 2758 Wool SkirtSo I've finally gotten some sewing done! Granted, not a lot, but it's something. Kris's company had an awards banquet on Friday, and it's been ten years he's been working there now, so we had to go. So I needed something formal-ish to wear.

So I made view B of Simplicity 2758 out of a wool suiting I got from FabricMart's $1.99/yard section and wore it with my Butterick 4609 blouse. There's something a bit off about the skirt. I think I probably shouldn't have interfaced the waistband, because it seems like the rest of the skirt had a bit of give, but the waistband didn't which gave it a weird shape. Or I should have interfaced the top of the skirt. I need some more practice with invisible zippers, too. I don't think I have the technique quite right. But overall it wasn't bad. Certainly wearable.
I hemmed it with pink topstitching thread.

I even wore heels! I picked up a pair of black Aerosoles at Marshall's that could actually be considered comfortable if not for the fact that they're heels. I'm actually rather fond of them.
Pier Scene: An in-progress pier scene I'm working on in Blender.Pier Scene: An in-progress pier scene I'm working on in Blender.
And now it's time to make excuses for not having been blogging. I'm still a tad absorbed in Blender. I've been working on some stuff for SL (although I haven't actually gotten anything up in my SL shop besides the shoes and a rigged strapless dress) but I've been doing tutorials and experimenting with lighting and materials, and playing with scenes.

The photo textures in these two scenes are from CG Textures which is what the Blender Guru was uses in a lot of his tutorials.

I'm particularly enjoying experimenting with materials. I'm loving the raytraced mirroring and transparency.
And of course cloth simulation!
The big black beast [computer] does the rendering so wonderfully and quickly! (Depending on the complexity of the scene, of course. I haven't done anything that complex yet, but the BlenderGuru has some .blend downloads to go along with tutorials that are really heavy.)
Street Scene in Blender: An in-progress street scene I'm working on in BlenderStreet Scene in Blender: An in-progress street scene I'm working on in Blender

The Continuing Saga of Simplicity 2700

Simplicity 2700 WinklesSimplicity 2700 Winkles
I am sorry, dear readers, it seems that I am cruel enough to subject you to mirror pictures of my butt. I've been trying to fiddle with the fit even though I haven't figured out the waistband yet. I'm thinking I should have used the curvy pieces instead of the regular pieces.. but it's hard to tell. While my butt isn't so flat as it seemed to be before I had any clues about how pants were supposed to fit, it's not my butt that's a fitting issue, it's my thighs. What I'm getting is those diagonal wrinkles in the back from crotch to hips. And some bagginess in the front. Of course, maybe I'm a total idiot for trying to do any fitting before figuring out the issues with the yoke.
I think what I have to do is extend lengthen the crotch curve such that there is more room in the thighs. I'll probably need to cut out entirely new pieces to get it right. I let out the side seams, which helped some, but that may just be because they're looser. I think what I really need is more room in the inner thighs.. it seems logical, anyway.
Simplicity 2700 Left Front Yoke NotchesSimplicity 2700 Left Front Yoke Notches
I started a WIP on PR for the pattern, and when I didn't get any suggestions through that, I started a thread. I got some good, logical suggestions.. or rather, suggestions that would be logical if not for the pattern. Mainly, that perhaps the pieces weren't meant to be the right size and needed to be eased in. But the notches and stay-stitching make that unlikely.

Here's a picture of the front left yoke, from both sides. With the notches lined up, the side of the yoke meets the side of the front of the pants correctly. So all of that easing would have to be happening within those four inches from notch to edge-- no way can I get a whole seam allowance by stretching non-stretch fabric over a four-inch seam.

As for the back, I think any chance of easing-in intent on the part of the drafter would have been nixed by the instruction to stay-stitch the top edge. If I was supposed to stretch it out to make the pieces fit, that would make the instruction to stay-stitch that edge to prevent stretching utterly nonsensical, right?

Simplicity 2700 In-Progress

Simplicity 2700 Inside Front In-ProgressSimplicity 2700 Inside Front In-Progress
I've been working on Simplicity 2700, the "amazing fit" pants. I'm doing them in a $1.99/yard Dockers cotton I got from FabricMart awhile ago as a mockup for eventually doing them in the lovely striped wool that is dfr's fault.

The instructions aren't bad (and I'm pretty demanding of instructions) but I do have some concerns. For one thing, the left front yoke. As you can see, all matched up, it only extends up to the edge of the fly underlap. This is a problem because the yoke has a facing, which of course requires a seam allowance.. but there doesn't seem to be an allowance.

Simplicity 2700 Back In-ProgressSimplicity 2700 Back In-ProgressThen there's the back yoke. It extends significantly beyond the main pattern pieces on the sides, and I don't see that explained anywhere. It seems that for a pair of pants that includes darts, they completely ignored the effect of the darts when drafting the yoke.
Simplicity 2700 Front In-ProgressSimplicity 2700 Front In-Progress Actually this doesn't seem all that surprising, since the main pieces have three different versions (for "slim," "regular," and "curvy" figures) but they all use the same yoke pieces. That might not explain it, though; to pick a size, the instructions say to "Measure your waist and hip (at the fullest point). [sic] Compare those measurements to the measurements on the pattern envelope." So the waist size shouldn't be different between the different versions, should it? The "curvy" pieces use two darts while the "slim" and "regular" pieces use one. (I'm using the regular pieces currently.)
So they must have neglected to account for the darts in drafting. This seems like a rather significant drafting mistake to me. It also makes me nervous. It's not explained anywhere, and I don't like to trim down pieces when I don't know why they're not the right size. It couldn't relate to the lack of a seam allowance for the end of the left front yolk, because there are notches that match up. (And because that would just be bizarre.)

So, I'm plugging along with the pattern, and hoping that it fits well, but for something that got such rave reviews, I'm certainly disappointed that there seem to be such significant errors.

I should note that this is only the second "real" pants pattern I've sewn. I've done drawstring pants and leggings, but the only other pants with pockets and a fly and all that I've done was Jalie 2908, and not many patterns can live up to that. I think I like that the fly construction method doesn't involve basting the front closed-- apparently that's a very "home sewing method."
I guess I won't really be able to develop a "true" opinion of the pattern until I've gotten far enough to get into the fitting.

Butterick 4609 Blouse, Finished. (And I Used My Buttonholer!)

I finished my with-real-cuffs blouse!Floral Rayon Challis Blouse -- FinishedFloral Rayon Challis Blouse -- Finished
I ended up using stitch witchery in the front band, but I think I actually used too much, it's stiffer than I would have liked it to be. I'll keep that in mind for next time-- and I definitely will be sewing this pattern again.

This one doesn't seem to photograph too well, but I think it's mainly the print that's responsible for that. It's a pretty print, but it's so contrasting that it's hard to make out the details of the blouse! That's not necessarily a bad thing, though, since the front is a bit strange since I overinterfaced (is "interfaced" the right word when I used stitch-witchery to make the fabric interface itself?) the front band a bit. I think the front was supposed to end up slouchier.

While others had reported that the pattern runs large, I found it to be just about right, actually a bit too small in the hips. I ended up letting out the back darts a bit, which seemed to fix the problem. I'm definitely glad that I didn't go down a size.

I'm not totally sure how I feel about the neck tie thingy. It's kinda cool, but kinda silly at the same time. It was definitely worth making, though; quick and easy, and another option for the blouse.
French CuffFrench Cuff
I'm loving the French cuffs. I was afraid they would be goofy, but I really like them. I made "cuff links" out of buttonhole thread and mystery bundle buttons.

And I finally rewired my Necchi BC! (Okay, fine, Kris did most of it.. but he's the expert!) So, with my BC rewired, I now have a low-shank machine in good working order, which means I can use my buttonholer! I got the buttonholer ages ago, thinking that since it was made specifically for Necchi, it would fit my machine.. and then realized upon getting it that it was for low-shank machines, and I use mostly high-shank. Low-shank buttonholers are cheap. High-shank buttonholers are not.

So, with my working BC and my buttonholer attachment, I was able to make nice automated pretty buttonholes! (Up to this point all of my buttonholes had been as-carefully-as-possible zigzagged.


Floral Rayon Challis Blouse with French Cuffs -- In Progress

I've been sewing, so you can't say I haven't!Butterick 4609 View C -- In ProgressButterick 4609 View C -- In Progress

I've been working on View C of Butterick 4609-- the blouse with the French cuffs. I'm doing the sash thingy too. I'm making it out of one of the "Trendy" rayon challis-es I got from FabricMart's most recent 75% off sale.

It's not done, but it's getting there. I still need to hem it and put in the buttonholes, and stabilize the front band. Well, it's not actually a front band it's a self-front-band, basically just folded over and then over again to form what would normally be the front band. It says to catch-stitch it in place. And doesn't say anything about interfacing. I used some stitch-witchery tape in between the innermost layers, I'll probably add another strip on the back. I'm not completely sure, though. I've been playing with buttonholes on scraps. Hopefully I'll pester Kris into helping me rewire my BC so I can use my actual buttonholer. But, uh, I've been saying I'm going to rewire the BC for quite awhile..

This blouse is the first time I've successfully made real cuffs! My first try was McCall's 5929 which caused a huge amount of frustration and ended up being a wadder. The Simplicity 2758 blouse I made back in December to shut dfr up only had those little narrow cuffs and not all the trappings real cuffs like the bound slit-- and the bound slit is the mind-boggling part. (Why didn't I do a post on that blouse? I wrote a review, but no blog post. I thought I wrote a post, but now all that seems to be on my site is the picture. Oh, it was probably because it was while dfr was in Florida! LOL Okay, that explains my lack of a post!
But this time I managed real cuffs! The instructions on the pattern were pretty good, and in combination with my copy of the Singer Sewing Book (1949 edition) I managed to make it work!

It looks a little awkward on my dress form. I do hope it ends up looking better on me. My dress form is slightly crooked, which makes everything look a bit awkward. Most of the reviews say that it runs a bit big, but it actually seems quite snug. I cut a 14, which should be about right, and seems to be, but it's hard to tell for sure before finishing up the buttons and all. I did use French seams, but I don't think they should have made too much of a difference.

I'm hoping to finish this one up tomorrow. Either with buttonholer-ed buttonholes or my normal unautomated machine buttonholes.

Starting to Get Organized.. A Little.

Shelf Above My DeskShelf Above My Desk Yes, the shelf is where the map of Middle Earth used to be. I haven't decided on a new home for the map yet. But I do like the shelf!

Kris has been working on building a big hutch for his desk, so I'll then be swiping the small hutch that's currently on his desk, which should further aid in my organization efforts. There is Good Reason I didn't include the desk in my picture!

Yes, I know that there's an empty peg on my thread rack. *looks pointedly at dfr*
Call it the spot for the thread currently on my thread stand. There's a little bag of normal thread spools in my drawer of serger cones, too. And of course the Brother embroidery thread is in another drawer.
(See Jilly, I TOLD you all those 110 yard spools of yours weren't an excessive quantity of thread..)

Renaissance Venetian Camicia In-Progress

Renaissance Camicia In-ProgressRenaissance Camicia In-Progress
I actually sewed something! Even though it's hot and humid and I don't want to do anything. Well, I got started, anyways. I'm following the Realm of Venus instructions for how to make a Venetian camicia. Yesterday I prewashed the white broadcloth (and typoed that to "prewished" in chat..) tore the fabric (the way it was supposed to be torn-- the instructions say so!) and sewed up the sleeves.

Then today I did the rest of the basic assembly. Put in the gussets, sewed the pieces together, ran a gathering stitch around the neck for some preliminary shaping.

Yes, I know it looks like the Simplicity 2777 night gown I made back during the stash contest. And even more like the off-white one I'd made awhile before that. But this one had no seam shaping; the shaping at the neck is done with gathering and the sleeves are rectangles with gussets.
Nightgown From Stash ContestNightgown From Stash Contest
I haven't done any finishing on the neckline, just used pulled up gathering stitches to get it looking like what it's supposed to start looking like. I'll use one of the pleating methods described on Realm of Venus for the neckline. And of course I have to hem it.

But dfr has been pesting me to sew something and put up pictures, so here's a picture of something I've sewn! Yes, I do know she's right that I should put up more sewing pictures!

Mom's Linen Tunic With Silver Embroidery (And Some Book Talk)

Mom's Linen TunicMom's Linen Tunic Mom's Linen Tunic NecklineMom's Linen Tunic Neckline Mom's Linen Tunic BackMom's Linen Tunic Back

I know, I am a bad, bad blogger and I don't post enough. But I have a good excuse! I have lots of them!

You see, first I was reading. And some of that was dfr's fault, because while I was waiting for my other Borgia books to come, I started reading Black Sun Rising, the first book of the Coldfire trilogy. (The second and third books are When True Night Falls and Crown of Shadows.) That's dfr's fault because she's the one who first told me to read In Conquest Born, which is by the same author. My mom actually ended up buying Black Sun Rising for her Kindle while she was here. I'm not sure exactly why she started reading a book I was still in the middle of! My dad got started reading This Alien Shore, another C.S. Friedman book. I'm not sure why he left it here, he seemed to be enjoying it and I was already finished with that one!

The Borgia books I was waiting for were Light on Lucrezia, The Borgia Betrayal, and The Borgia Bride.
I'd already read Madonna of the Seven Hills, which comes before Light on Lucrezia, and
Poison, which comes before The Borgia Betrayal, because those were cheaper.

And then of course I couldn't put up in-progress pictures of my mom's tunic, because then she would have seen them. So really, everything that's not a good excuse is dfr's fault!

I'm actually much happier with the tunic than I am with these pictures. My camera and computer don't seem happy about the color. It's this really beautiful, deep, vibrant turquoise, and the photos just don't do it justice. I tried adjusting the color, but I couldn't get it quite right. Any adjustments that made the fabric color more accurate gave strange hues to everything else.
The actual fabric is a bit darker and much deeper than it looks in the photos-- just a really stunning color, utterly perfect for my mom.

Turquoise and silver are her colors. She already had a beautifully matching necklace with her-- and she didn't know about the tunic until she got here!
(On a related note: our house got burglarized when I was a kid. When we got home and discovered this, we found that he'd emptied my mother's jewelery box all over the bed. And of course found nothing but silver and semi-precious stones. My mom said she actually felt bad for the guy!)

My mom seems to have the same fitting problems as I do, except even more exaggerated. I'm a lot taller, but we're a similar size, so I'd cut the same size as I do for myself. The sleeves turned out to be too narrow, although I did manage to get them fitting fairly well by letting them out a bit within the seam allowance. Her shoulders are also even narrower than mine; I fixed that by taking it in a bit around the top of the sleeve cap. I didn't unpick anything there; I just took in both the top of the sleeve cap and the edge of the shoulder. The final fit seems to be fairly good, although next time I'll probably cut the upper sleeves a bit wider.

That pleat on the back is not part of the pattern. I started doing it because the pattern actually wants the back to be cut as separate pieces, and the first time I made this tunic I didn't take the seam allowance into account when I cut the it on the fold.

I'd planned on doing a decorative stitch for the hem, but I was using the silver metallic Gutermann thread (not the same as the metallic Brother embroidery thread) which fluffs up a bit too much for real decorative stitches, and my mom liked the way the regular zigzag looked, so I ended up just just a plain old zigzag hem. My no-model-name-or-number "Heavy Duty" Taiwanese Necchi had thrown a hissy fit over the metallic thread (and protested the use of top-stitching thread too,) but the BU Mira handles it wonderfully.

Some tips for using that metallic Gutermann thread:

  • Always use a top-stitching needle.
  • Thread the needle using a needle threader, don't try to just thread it normally; It's kind fluffy and frays easily, so it's really, really hard to get all of the thread through the eye.
  • Use a Thread Stand It keeps twisting to a minimum and feeds more easily.
  • Use regular thread in the bobbin, preferably in a color that matches the fabric.

Silk Panel

Silk PanelSilk Panel Silk Panel Pattern CloseupSilk Panel Pattern Closeup Y'all know that "If Microsoft made cars" joke? Remember the line about accepting that every so often, it'll suddenly stop working and you'll have to close all of the windows and restart the car? The other night when I originally took the pictures of the panel, I was having trouble getting my computer to recognize when I plugged the memory-card-to-USB converter into my USB hub. Dunno what the problem was, but restarting the computer fixed it.

So anyway, here are the full panel and closeup views of the silk border print I've gotten in my last two mystery bundles. (I got a two-panel piece in each bundle. They were labeled as two yards, but each panel is actually about 42 inches, so each piece is about two and a third yards.)

It's definitely heavier than I'd think of for chiffon; I'm not totally sure what it is. Crepe de chine, maybe? Georgette? I don't have swatches of either of those in my fabric dictionary. I'll have to go through more of my old mailers to see what swatches I might have that haven't yet found their way to their respective fabric dictionary entries.

It's not too transparent, but I wouldn't call it opaque either. I do have some trouble gauging the sheerness of fabrics that are neither totally sheer nor totally opaque. Are there any guidelines so far as lighting and such for determine how sheer a fabric is? In the picture you can see the two horizontal lines from the glare off of the picture frame that's behind the panel. It recovers well from being pinned to the wall, too. At first I just pinned the selveges on the side, but it drapes too much not to add a pin in the center. The pin didn't seem to do any damage.

I don't know which way is up. Sense seems to dictate that the stripe would be at the bottom, which is certainly the most practical so far as making it into a garment; the horizontal line would be at the hem.
But it almost looks upside-down, doesn't it? Maybe that's because some of those sets of three wedge-thingies are green, yellow, and pink which gives them a traffic-light look. And the design has a kinda martini-glass shape to it. It's that stem-glass shape with a line sticking out the top. Although turn it upside down, and it looks like hanging lamps. Or suspended citrus wedges. Folding or feather fans? But then those sticks point out the top would bop the user in the face.
Why I'm turning a geometric fabric print into some kind of non-blobby Rorschach test, I'm not sure. It just seems like it needs an explanation.

Well, I'm sending one of the pieces to dfr, so maybe she'll be able to explain it. And figure out what it wants to be. She's the one with decent style/overall look visualization ability. My visualization ability is generally limited to spatial manipulations; rotating and flipping around shapes and such. Somehow things like imagining a fabric as a garment, or what a garment would look like in another fabric never come easily to me. There have been quite a few nice patterns that I never considered just because I wasn't fond of the way they looked in the fabric on the front of the envelope. I may be getting a tad better at that with practice, but my progress there is slow.

Copyright note: I watermark photos I upload because I took the photographs, and because images are so very easily swiped on the internet. I am posting these photos of the physical object (fabric) that I received in a mystery bundle, in order to better describe and comment on said bundle.
Obviously I did not design the fabric or the print, and as such, the copyright for the print does not belong to me. The selvedge identifies the copyright owner as Calamo Silk, Inc., which appears to be a custom silk manufacturing company.
(A word of caution about their site: It's a flash site. The sound can be turned off. As far as I can tell, the same is not true for the scrolling background. And by "scrolling background" I don't mean that it scrolls as you scroll down the page, I mean it continuously scrolls horizontally, right to left, underneath the text and everything. It's a grey-on-black world map, and while it's not initially as obtrusive as the sound, it actually started to make me motion sick after a little while.)

Fabric Dictionary

I got started on a fabric dictionary awhile ago, when I wanted a better way to reference fabrics than going through FabricMart mailers month-by-month. I used an OpenOffice book template, and then altered the layout to leave room to attach swatches and created a fairly organized mish-mosh list of fabric and fiber types. Some have definitions, some don't, which didn't seem too important since I was using it mainly for swatch organization.
I printed it out and got started started filling it with swatches from FabricMart mailers and the one sample issue of VogueFabrics' swatch club I'd gotten ages ago. (Vogue also has back issues at a discounted price, which is a great way of getting a whole bunch of swatches for cheap.) Then I added in more entries as I came across fabrics I had swatches of but that I hadn't yet put into the dictionary.

I have it divided up by fiber as the top category and then by whether it's woven or knit, so there are various fabric types that occur in more than one place. I have a separate section at the bottom for blends, although in my version, I generally put a fabric that's mainly one thing with just a bit of something else into the category of its main content.

Anyway, there was a question today in the Fabrics and More section on Pattern Review about having a reference so far as what fabric is what, so I figured I'd finally get around to posting this.

Since I put this together using OpenOffice, I'm not sure how it will look in other word processing programs. I saved it in both OpenOffice's native format and in Microsoft's .doc format, but I'm not sure to what extent all the formatting will hold. (Not totally sure why the .doc format version file is so much larger. I didn't make any changes between the two versions besides file type, so the size difference is a function of how it's saved--the content should all be the same.)

Feel free to print this out, adapt it, make changes, etc. I'd love feedback, so if you add anything or change anything or would like me to change anything (etc...) please let me know and/or send me a copy of your updated version!

(Okay, I think I fixed the permissions problem)

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