The Seamless Pledge (Eek! Can I really do this?!)

I must be out of my mind… I’ve only created four pieces of clothing thus far on my sewing machine, but I am taking on this crazy challenge.

This fabulous graphic was created by Gillian at Crafting a Rainbow. (http://crafting-a-rainbow.tumblr.com/)

This fabulous graphic was created by Gillian at Crafting a Rainbow. (http://crafting-a-rainbow.tumblr.com/)

I first read about the pledge on Sew Exhausted‘s blog the other day and I love the idea. The pledge originated with Elena at Seamless and really seems to be catching on. The pledgee (is that a word?) promises not to buy any new clothing for the duration of their pledge. Instead, they make or buy thrifted items. I am not a big fan of thrift stores- wearing a stranger’s clothing weirds me out- but I am all for making my own clothing. Since I have enough hanging in my closet to keep me clothed and stylish for several months, I am going to woman-up and take this on. Plus, this is a great excuse to play around on my sewing machine and get good at making my own clothing.

Here goes…

I, Bridget, am taking the #seamlesspledge until June, 2013.

Yikes! Can I do this?
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A football blanket & doggy bibs: Sewing baby gifts

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A good friend of mine and fellow doctoral student is pregnant with her first baby, a little boy, due in another few months. I decided to live on the edge and try to make her baby shower gifts.

When I first bought my sewing machine, I found a really easy-to-follow tutorial to create a baby blanket in the shape of a football at Happy Together. I pinned it on Pinterest in the hopes I’d someday find an excuse to make it. Excuse found! I followed the instructions and created this:

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It wasn’t quite as simple as I’d hoped. The white fleece I purchased for the laces, was incredibly stretchy and the brown minky fabric was nearly as bad. I did some hunting online and discovered a walking foot would keep the fabric from stretching out. After calling several local sewing machine dealers, I found one store with one walking foot fitting my machine in stock. I raced across town to make the purchase. Nearly $40 later, I had the snazzy gadget and no idea how to attach it to my machine. The packaging contains zero directions and my sewing machine manual didn’t even tell me how to take the existing presser foot off. Googling ensued and after a bit, I discovered a tutorial on how to attach a walking foot. The how-to was clear and in just a few minutes, I successfully attached my walking foot and was ready to sew. Unfortunately, the white fleece was too delicate for the walking foot (it chewed it up with it’s little teeth) and I went back to Google to figure out what to do. Several blogs suggested using a spray bond on really tricky fabrics. I headed off to Joann’s and found a heat bond product for $16. Luckily, I had a 50% off coupon. The spray was a bit stinky and messy, so   I’m glad I used it on my patio rather than in my apartment. It did work pretty well. A hot iron stuck the fleece to the minky fabric securely enough for me to use my normal presser foot to sew all the white fleece onto the brown minky fabric. The walking foot worked like a dream on the minky and flannel. It took a few hours, but I was pleased with the end result.

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The underside of the blanket is lined with a pale green flannel speckled with brown and cream polka dots.

Thrilled that my walking foot worked, I decided to make the baby some quilted bibs in addition to the blanket. I picked up a bundle of puppy themed quilting squares on sale a while back with the intention of doing something small for one of my pregnant friends. I pulled out the squares and pieced them together to create two bibs.

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I found the pattern and tutorial for these bibs on Sew She Sews and thought it looked pretty simple. It was. In a little under two hours, I had two bibs. Now that I know what I’m doing, I can probably make them a lot faster.

At the shower, I was a bit nervous- I haven’t given someone a homemade gift since I was a little kid! I shouldn’t have worried. The mom-to-be seemed quite happy and her mother-in-law was very excited to show the dad-to-be the football blanket. I think my first foray into making gifts went okay.

Another friend of mine (and fellow shower attendee) announced that the blanket would look great in a University of Florida (her alma mater) themed nursery. It was a not so-subtle hint as well as a lovely compliment!

New Look 0119 progress & spring fabric

New Look 0119 Progress

“Easy!” “2-Hour” -Lies!

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Maybe an experienced seamstress can knock this skirt out in 2 hours, but a novice like me requires a lot more time to get it done. I am way more than 2 hours in and this is what I’ve produced so far:

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Sorry about the bad evening light.

It looks skirt-like, but certainly not finished.

My progress has been slow. I decided to create a wearable muslin for this project after finding lovely brown suiting fabric for about $4 a yard on sale at Joann’s. The fabric is easy to pull stitches out of and not too slinky and stretchy. Since this is only my second time using a commercial pattern and first time completing several of the sewing tasks required, I’ve been taking my time, consulting online tutorials when I get stuck and reading pertinent sections of the Colette Sewing Handbook for basic how-to’s.

Sewing this skirt has resulted in a lot of “firsts”:

  1. I created darts!
  2. I adjusted a commercial pattern to fit me.
  3. I inserted a zipper. (sort of…)
  4. I bought interfacing! (I haven’t used it yet, but will in the next step of construction.)

These “firsts” are not going smoothly.

Oh darn darts!- I created lots and lots of darts… I had a tough time sewing a straight diagonal line the first ten times and got my money’s worth out of my new seam ripper. 

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Finally- fairly straight and symmetrical darts.

The sizing was way off. I measured myself using the instructions in the Colette Sewing Handbook before purchasing the pattern. According to the measurements on the package, I should be a size 14, however, when I made up the skirt in that size it was way too big. I had to scale it down to a size 8. (Of course, this required dart removal and repositioning. Darn darts!) I also had to shorten the length as it fell unflatteringly long on my short frame.

The zipper is so far the most challenging and frustrating part of the skirt. The pattern calls for a traditional zipper with a fabric flap sewn to hide the zip. I decided to go rogue and insert an invisible zipper instead. I purchased a Coats and Clark 7 inch zip and the brand’s invisible zipper foot. Unfortunately, the zipper foot is really flimsy and doesn’t fit my machine. Initially, I thought I was doing something wrong, but after some searching online, it appears that it simply isn’t compatible with my sewing machine. I decided to try to insert the zipper with a regular zipper foot. I was able to do it, but it looks messy.

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This simply won’t do.

I hope to purchase an invisible zipper foot while I’m out running errands tomorrow so I can fix my wonky zipper and finish the skirt.  Assuming I can get a foot, I should be able to complete the skirt in the evening. I’d love to wear it to class this week.

Spring Fabric

Before I realized I had a zipper foot problem, I stopped by Joann’s to pick up some fabric for the patterns I purchased over the holiday break. I love their new Hampton Collection and purchased the following:

IMG_0437This fabric is gauzy and sheer. You can’t really see it here- there are little iridescent circles in the white stripes of the fabric that catch the light. It’s just a hit of sparkle. I don’t have a pattern in mind for this one yet, but I’m sure I’ll be able to find something soon.

IMG_0438I love this geometric print. It’s a cotton blend with just enough stiffness to the fabric to make it feel properly preppy. I’m thinking it will make a beautiful short-sleeved blouse.

IMG_0436The last fabric I purchased today is extremely simple and (dare I suggest it- boring). It’s a stretchy black jersey. I have a specific project in mind for this and I can’t wait to get started. I’ve never worked with knits, so this should be interesting…

I also took home a bias tape maker and twin needle (for the knit fabric). Sewing is getting expensive! I look forward to the day when I have all the supplies I need and only have to worry about purchasing fabric.

Since the cost of sewing is quickly adding up, I ‘ve decided that I’m not going to make any clothing purchases this spring. I’ll make whatever  garments I want and keep up with trends by making the items I would normally buy. I love to shop, so this will be a big change for me. I hope my “couture” can live up to my expectations!

Knitting progress & new patterns for 2013

Since learning the basics of knitting exactly one week ago at The Knitting Loft in D.C., I have started a scarf. Here’s my progress thus far:

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I’m pleased as punch with how it’s coming along. I purchased the yarn at The Knitting Loft with Cheryl’s help before I left D.C. and headed back home to sunny Florida. The yarn is produced by a company called Kollage Yarns and is created from recycled blue jeans. How cool is that?! Assuming it continues to come out well, I plan to give it to my boyfriend for his birthday. Fingers crossed!

In sewing news… I am back home with my machine and am excited to get started on some patterns I ordered over the holiday. I’m still on a high from the successful creation of the PJ pants and am optimistic about my next pattern experience.

I purchased four patterns and the last arrived just yesterday:

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I’m going to start with the 2-hour skirt (New Look 0119). Since the 1-hour PJ pants took me 4 1/2 hours, I’m skeptical.

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I’d like to give knits a try, so I purchased this pattern (Butterick 5789). I like view B best. I think it will be nice in the A/C. It claims to be “fast and easy.” We’ll see…

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This one is super cute (McCalls M6604). I really like the cream gauzy-sleeved top on the right. It reminds me of a Chloe top from a season or two ago.

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The last pattern is my favorite and will probably be a major challenge (Butterick B5851). I love versions A and C. I envision making this pattern at least twice, once in a formal fabric and once in a more casual and washable print to put into regular closet rotation.

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The words “fast” and “easy” are not anywhere on the envelope, so I think I will hold off on attempting this one until I have a bit more sewing experience. Maybe by 2014?

Learning something new in 2013: Knitting!

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Yesterday, I visited The Knitting Loft in DC. While trying to find fabric stores in the city (a completely pointless exercise) I discovered a handfull of yarn stores instead. Good reviews on Yelp and a website that stressed the relaxation of the knitting hobby got me curious, so I got off the metro and hiked a block or two down Pennsylvania Ave. towards the White House to The Knitting Loft.

The owner, Cheryl, was extremely helpful when I told her I was clueless and wanted to learn. She offered a private lesson on the spot and set me up with the essentials. After an hour next to her on the shop’s sofa, I was able to cast on, knit, purl, and cast off. I’m pretty impressed with myself! I created this:

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Cheryl gave me homework. She told me to practice more and pick a beginner pattern on Raverly.com to try as a first project. I broke out the knitting needles at home and practiced for a few hours. I need to work on the consistency of my stitches. I tend to knit looser near the ends of the needles than the middle.

I then picked out three free scarf patterns on Raverly to try. I’m headed back to the Loft to get Cheryl’s help on which on to attempt first. I’ll also need some help deciding what type of yarn to purchase.

I never thought I’d knit (there isn’t much call for knitted items in Florida), but why not? I’ve decided 2013 will be about learning new things!