Monday, January 01, 2018

My Craft Room Sewing table

I haven't done much knitting or sewing since September—I have been reading instead.

And this past week, I have been fighting the flu—and working on a new (really new, not just a recycled new to me) sewing table... This is the first part of some planned improvements. The table came completed unassembled. The package came with a hundred or so screws and bolts and over a dozen pieces to put together. It was, I guess a four hour job—but working while not feeling well turned it into a 5 day job!

Part 1—replacing the old kitchen/dinette table with a proper sewing table DONE!

Here is my new sewing table (pristine ) The center insert can be easily lowered or raised to be use as a sewing table (as is) or with the center raised, a cutting or crafting table.

I am MOSTLY pleased with the table—The “drawers” are fabric and only supported at the edge—and almost useless, the are not strong enough to hold a pair of sewing shears—I plan to hang my shears—but. I think I have an idea that will work to improve the situation—I need something flat, thin and strong—(and cheap!) I think that I can cut slats to support the “drawers” from vertical blind slats. Slats will over more support to the bottom of the draws--(I might even use some crazy glue to make them sort of permanent. One great advantage of living in a multifamily building is the “Recycling” room is actually a great source of recycled material! I 'll keep an eye out, and hopefully find some soon.

Some features I do LIKE--
1—I have routed the machine cords UNDER the table with the use of some Velcro zip ties. Tidier to start. When the center is lowered (as it will be for sewing) the power cords are handy to plug in. When the center is raised, the power cord to the machine will be secure neatly under the table

2-- The flat surface make it possible to clamp on the work light. It holds a U shaped florescent bulb—It is not a OTT brand fixture, but I replaced the standard bulb with an OTT brand one—so it has great lighting. (the previous dinette type table had an apron and it wasn't possible to mount the light.)

3—The size and shape—the dinette table was oval, wider and shorter. This table fits up against the wall, with the leaf, is 60 inches long (vs 45) and 23 inches wide (vs 30) The rounded corners of the old table contributed to things falling off the edges—this is less likely to happen now. A better shape and size.

4--The ability to vary the height is great—It makes sewing easier –My sewing machine came with the extended bed and now this bed is at table level making a HUGE work surface. My machine can be packed away, and the center lifted, and I will have nice craft table for painting or beading or jewelry making (with great light!) That is the machine cover tucked under the table.

I like that the little plastic set of drawers fits below the left side extension, and that my little waste can fits under the drawers. on the right.

Part 2 (still to come—and soon) Will be be hanging some stuff. The cork/magnetic white board combo, and some spool racks, shears, and my yard (really a meter) stick will be the first things to be hung—all with 3M command hangers--Organizing the wall space will put my tools right where I need them. The extension cord/power strips will be mounted too There will be a floating shelf, too I tried to install it last summer, but I messed up. My walls (even the interior ones) are not plaster but cement—and hanging anything is a major PITA. These improvements won't take much time or effort—but I haven't decided on the exact placement for all these things—so it might take a week or two to get them done.

There are other improvements to come—I needs some bins for fabric storage—and other stuff-- But I am happy the table is put together and ready to be used! I might even repaint the entire room—I have a lot of work to do—but I am happy with this start.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Some On Going Projects

Back in May, when I started my sewing spree, I spent some time in the evening knitting up a semi secret project—namely, yards and yards of knit cotton edging.. I finished sometime in June. Now finally, I am sewing the edging onto pillow cases and sheeting.

image of cream white sheet and knit edging
Pillow case and top sheet edged
One set of bed linens (or should I say cottons?) ended up with lace edging on the hem of the top sheet, as well as on the hems of the pillow cases. The other set, just has lace trim on the pillowcases. I love this kind of luxury touch--my DD thinks it is a total waste of time! She claims no one under the age of 60 would be interested. She might well be right.

I also made up 4 sets of “bonus” pillowcases—these will be embroidered—I like these nice little touches (well not the past few days when I have been engaged in attaching the lace to the hems!) even if they are out of style.  

Attaching the lace to the sheeting is slow and boring. Not helped by being a bit sick. Last week, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I helped out my DD—One, then other,  twin came down with a cold like virus. Both girls had mild fevers, were cranky, (headachy) and had upset stomachs--(which generated lots of laundry.) I provided some relief—mostly simple babysitting while my DD got laundry and other projects done.

I ended up exhausted—the NY area had a mild heat wave—with 90° temps, (not horrible, since at least 2 days had somewhat lower humidity) but it never cooled down—76° or warmer at night. So I didn't sleep well, and missed my afternoon naps. I tried to recover on Saturday—but by Sunday, it was clear to me, I had caught what ever it was the girls had.

I was so sick Sunday to Monday night—high fever, headaches, and muscle cramps...So sever, that I was uncomfortable all day Monday. I felt like I overdid it.. tender arms, and tender abdominals, too. I missed being sick to my stomach—but only because I hardly ate anything. I could complain more and provide more (TMI) —but I won't. I am over the worst of it –sleeping away most of Monday helped.

Feeling a bit better today, I am continuing to do bits and pieces of sewing too—all sort of hand stuff—replacing buttons, and stuff. I have all sorts of chores to do—laundry, shopping and the like..The laundry is all sorted and ready to go, the shopping lists (yes, plural) are ready to go too. Now I just need to get going! 

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Final Project—for Now.

Along the lines of “the best laid plans of mice and men” Life interfered—I didn't post this yesterday, and I didn't have an hour to finish it..and I won't have the time today either... So it will be finished, and the mending done, when life settles down.

This is the last project—a quick little mu-mu dress. Not a tent like mu-mu, just a bit loose and simple.  It is not really finished—I want to add a bit of elastic at the back and two ties (to tie in front) but that will take less than hour. I already have the ties made, and the casing ready to go..

It's a pretty little thing to wear to the pool—the front has a zipper making it easy to step into, or out of. It has, of course 2 side seam pockets. The basis for this little dress is the top I made in the beginning of July,  which was also in blue—but a totally different print. With an added ruffled tier to lengthen it and some other small changes.    I also made a wider bias band for the neckline--(and I like it better than the narrow one!) But all in all simple, almost shapeless.. Easy to sew, easy to wear.

It will be a “better” house dress after the summer—good for wearing around the house, and even good enough to wear when doing laundry-- It is loose enough to admit a T-shirt underneath—so come the cold days of winter, with a long sleeved T worn under it, will make it suitable to wear then, too.

Nothing very special, cheap as they come (under $10 for the whole thing—including the zipper and elastic) but pretty enough.

While I should be putting my sewing machine away—I won't—Not quite yet. I still have 2 or 3 things that need a spot of mending... and I intend to get them done. But no big projects.. just a seam that has a broken thread repaired, and the like. If I just spend an hour a day, I will have all the final mending projects done in a week.

I have already done a whole lot of mending.. and cleaning up (2 “waste can” sized bags of scraps, and threads and wrappers from zippers, and card stock from buttons) –but there is more to do—Not sewing, but stuff to do in the sewing room—including some organizing.

Soon, I will have some photos of pillow cases (Part 1) finished, and pillow cases Part 2—ready to be started...

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

The End of the Month

The last Saturday of sewing—for a while, at least.

The skirt and vest
 The grey skirt is finished. I made a quick little summer dress too. It's not completely finished, but it will before the end of the month(Monday) That's enough for now. I have been busy sewing since May –3 months of making clothes! Some matching sets, and some coordinating sets, and some simple additions.

A trio of Tee's to match.
I have culled clothes that were old, worn, stained and really other wise unfit. My closet is neater, (and prettier) I still have plans for new hangers. 

 Before I moved into this apartment, I painted. The living room and dining room and entry were all professionally painted. At the same time, I bought some very cheap paints—Top quality paints that had been custom colored, and then returned to the store—to paint the closets. The color choices were close (but not perfect) matches—but the inside of the closets went from dry, cracked, dull and dirty white, to pretty.

My purple foyer has a huge walk in closet—Painted a periwinkle blue (more of the same was used in my bedroom closet) really changed it form drab to cheerful. Periwinkle is quite purple, it was a almost a pastel shade, and besides, the inside of a closet doesn't really have to match the room. The walk in Linen/utility closet in the Sunny yellow computer room end up with a marigold yellow interior--(and toffee brown shelves.) I only had a quart of the yellow—and another quart of the toffee brown. All the closets got spiffed up (patched and spackled) and with a new coat of paint, (and a  week to dry). While I was at it,   I polished all the closet poles with butchers wax—designed for hard wood floors. So when I moved in—I had cheerful pretty closets with slick, smooth poles, to hang my clothes in.

The finishing touch was, I bought a whole lot of hangers—all matching. OK, so the entry closet(coat and raincoats) got a mix matched set of left overs, but my clothes closets look nice and neat with all matching hangers.

Now, some 17 years later, those plastic hangers are breaking.  The heads snap off, the lower bar snaps—sometimes in two, (and can be temporally saved with some duct tape,) sometimes in 3—and the hanger is a goner. The same too with the skirt clips. many of those have broken, too.   My plan now is to head to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and to buy a box of 50 new hangers, and a few packs of skirt clip. and to once again have a neat looking organized closet. Everything will come out, the pole with get a new coat of wax and will be smooth again. The clothes I want, will be hung up, the clothes I have been on the fence about will be altered, (or chucked) and order will be totally restored!

There is no need to repaint, the 20 year old paint still looks good—But there will also be some better organization to the shelves as well as some new hooks for all the hanging stuff. A little corner of my world will be perfected--(at least for a little while.)

While I have decided to put sewing new projects on hold for a month (at least) I will end the month with getting a jumper dress and matching vest, cut and ready to go (and maybe, sneak in some sewing on some rainy day—if there are any.)

The Jumper will be a bright yellow denim—I don't intend to wear the vest with the jumper—it's just an extra one. I needed 3 yards for the jumper, and the bolt had 3.5 yards—A half yard isn't enough to make a vest (normally) but I have made this jumper before and know that I will have a lot of fabric left over. I need the LENGTH—no matter the width—and this denim is 60 inches wide, so I will have a good bit of left over fabric—the sides and even the back will be cut from this “waste”--So the vest will mostly be a bonus--especially since the extra half yard was discounted. . I love vests, and an extra one in a solid color will go with lots of things.

The final bit will be organizing the remaining fabrics and pairing them with patterns. I sort of plan to start sewing some more things come September—but there are quite a few other things already planned for the first 2 weeks in September, so I won't start in right away. I also want to invest in some better organization of my sewing stuff. I am determined to buy some spool racks and to put up some shelves and other organizing bits. Lots of plans.. Now I just have to implement them!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

My Siblings

And I, have a long history of “swapping/sharing/using” each other's things..

My first car? (Mine not my Ex'es) was my sister Geraldine's car before it was mine. But Geraldine brought it from our sister Margaret.. (who bought it new)-We've done the same with furniture, and hand bags, and so many things over the years...

What a Print!

So Sunday, —her last full day here, on her almost annual trip, (from Japan) Geraldine brought out a beautiful piece of fabric for me. It had been a gift to her. I think it was intended to be a Sarong. But it had been sewn into a wrap skirt...and un worn. Both as a sarong, and later as a wrap skirt. She been following all my sewing posts, and decided I should do something with it.

A simple kaftan
First off, I undid the hems and elastic that formed the waist band.. Next I will give it a wash and press as I continue to mull over the best use of this hand batik print fabric. It is from Noor Arfa —the print is a few years old. I am thinking about using it to make a modified kaftan—something like this—Not a overly full kaftan, just not too much shaping to the dress either..(I might tuck in a dart)—but mostly I just want to show of the beautiful print.

I want to pick up (or first, sort through my scraps!) and find a bit of navy to make shoulder and a cap sleeve—and give the sleeve and shoulders a bit of shaping, without cutting the print. Small cap sleeves will be cut in place, (not cut separately and sewn in.) I'll add underarm gussets to improve the shape and fit—These will be done in the navy, too.. I might add a whole stripe down the side in navy, too. The navy scraps (on shoulders) are bit light,  but give you a idea of my thinking (PS Geraldine--I love this idea--and if you like it too,  want the fabric back--(after I have finished construction)-Speak up now! or I will make it in my size

The sketch is sort of the idea (and so is the print pinned to the maniquin) ). Most of the rest of the fabric is the golden color you see at the edges..but there is a blue band at top and hem all the way round.
Note the notch in hem
 (visible on right side) 
Visits from my DIL (and oldest granddaughter, Beatrice) and my sister are the 2 main reasons there hasn't been much Saturday sewing. Last week, in the heat, I got a little sewing down each day—So Saturday past I got most of the yellow/grey/white vest finished. There are still some small details left to do—pressing and a few inches of hand sewing (the lining) still to do. This vest is closer to the original pattern--but--Changes include a center front zipper (vs buttons) inset pockets, and small rounded notches in the hem.  This the first time I have used these specific details--making it a unique version of this tried and true vest pattern.  

 I have a full week to finish up the grey skirt (already cut) and maybe make a yellow one too—and so  finish up the last of the sewing for the season. I really have gotten a lot done—3 dresses, 4 skirts, and 3 toppers (vests and a small jacket) a real boost to my wardrobe (and I got a lot thrown out too!, to make room for all these additions.) Plus 2 dresses for the girls--a bonus!

I'll keep myself busy in August doing some hand embroidery—Pretty pillow cases, and an embroidered patch for a jumper style dress for the fall. Some will be iron on transfer designs, one is one of my own.

As always, my plans for future sewing have grown and grown—I think I could spent every weekend of the fall (13 weekends!) and not get all the sewing I plan to do done!

For me, there will be some winter skirts, (purple and plum and grey) with a co-ordinate vest, and some denim pieces—a whole wardrobe almost! A matching skirt and top (will it be a vest or will it be a jacket?) in a denim print. A denim shirt dress, a casual denim skirt (with a fly front, and patch pockets,) and a “dressier” denim skirt. Finally at least 1 (more likely 2!) denim jumpers I already have 3 denim vests, and a sleeved vest, too, as well as 2 denim jackets (store bought), to round out the collection.  A complete "line" of denim clothing!

That's 13 pieces on my to do list—a full seasons worth of sewing–and it presumes I will finish each piece in a week! Which is possible, but not always how things work.

Meanwhile, I am keeping a eye out for some emerald green pin stripe corduroy—my granddaughter, Ms C has fallen in love with “the Corduroy Bear” --who she calls Eddy Teddy. She also loves her OshKosh coveralls--which she is rapidly out growing.  . I think she will really love a pair of bright green corduroy coveralls—so she can match Eddy Teddy. Her sister might get a dress—since she prefers dresses to pants. And both will like it if I make some matching doll clothes... See what I mean? Endless plans on project to sew....Where will I find the time?   

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sew, What's Up?

This post is more than a week overdue...

Bit and pieces! The nile green skirt—done--but it's a bit snug—I have been losing weight (oh so slowly! --about a 1 lb a month)--It might be a year at that rate before this skirt fits comfortably--(but spring comes round every year!)

Meanwhile I took a break and got some mending done... took up the sleeves of a jacket for my DD, and some other mending—lots of little things done. 

I also made 4 pairs of pillow cases, too—A bit fancy with french seams, next they will embroidered. I like to sleep with NO air conditioning. So cotton sheets and pillow cases are a must. Extra pillow cases are useful, too since I sometimes change them more often than sheets. 2 pairs of natural white cotton, 1 pair each of blue and pure white. I also got some hand knit lace trim added 2 pairs of pillow cases. Very simple projects.. but nice to have them done.  More about these (and photos) later this week.

So now that mending is done, it is time to get to work on the yellow and grey vest, and matching grey skirt. I don't think there will be much else machine sewing in August—But I will be playing with this: (image of circle maker foot)  (Work has been started on the fact, it is almost done!)

This foot has been advertised all over Face Book—and yes, it does work. I can't see it working for a full quilt; the whole piece of fabric must be rotated. Fine for a square, (that was later pieced into a quilt) or for decorating some fabric for a bodice or even a hem of a skirt. The circular flower like embroider on the hem of child’s dress, or on the lapel of casual jacket. Well lots of places. Note that is a quarter--the circles even at their largest are still pretty small.

It take some practice to get a nice result. This scrap that I practiced on shows some potential.
But—to get a really professional result, takes some practice and fine adjustments.

First: There is a need to change/adjust: pressure foot tension (increase), thread tension (decrease), stitch length, (shorter), stitch width, (wider, sometimes) needle position, (to the left--for the largest circles) Getting the adjustments just right will require some fine tuning.

2nd Depending on the fabric, some interfacing (and a hoop)wouldn't amiss,  either

3rd There are adjustment to the foot, too—to make larger and smaller circles.. and some skill to starting and ending neatly—I can see how better (embroidery) thread will help too.

Finally: There is just learning which zigzag stitch pattern created the best effect.. Some seem self evident—others are surprisingly interesting,

I can see myself using this for flower like decorations for my granddaughters dresses—in time.. my first efforts aren't bad—but I expect I will do better as I get more practiced.

Finally—a splurge! I have passed on getting a rice cooker (half the members my family has one!) since I don't cook rice often, (but I do like whole grains, and rice cookers are great for all grains, not just rice) And the same goes for slow cooker—I have managed to live with out, though at times I thought I might want on. I have owned pressure cookers—but I blew my last one up (some 20 years go!) Well just the safety button.. but-- I have considered replacing the pressure cook for years, especially once the electronic ones appeared. (It is almost impossible to blow up the electronic ones)

Now I have an Instant Pot—that serves as a rice/grain cooker, slower cooker, and pressure cooker, steamer, and more. I won't use it much in the heat of the NYC summer.. but come the fall, I am looking forward for soups and stews and other hearty meals Maybe even some old fashioned Boston brown bread—Does anyone remember that? I think its time for a revival. The Instant Pot is also a steamer, and Brown Bread is steamed.     

Sunday, July 02, 2017

The Eyes Have It

No, not a typo—A couple of things came together—1) I found grommets that I liked, 2)—I reviewed the instructions for my Crop-O-Dile grommet tool, 3)—I finished the blue top by added 10 eyelet grommets on the center front-- I have found it such a hard time to find eyelet grommets (they are sold (allegedly!) in both the fabric/craft section and the scrap booking section (the Crop-O-Dile tool is sold as a scrap booking tool) –but finding them? Forgetaboutit! I don't know if they are so popular they are hard to keep in stock, or so unpopular, they just forget to re-order when they are sold out.

So, when I did finally find some, I bought a few packs!. I have meaning to add some eyelets to a pair of sneakers, (will do!) and to a few other things (I often make small “gift bags” out of scrap cloth—they can be used and recycled (as gift bags to wrap gifts for others, or for little storage pouches—which are great for travel).  Eyelets, vs button holes, or even finished edges in seam allowances are the easiest way to add drawstrings.

While I was out looking for the grommets, I splurged and bought some machine embroidery “cotton” --a nice shiny rayon thread—just two colors, for the back pockets of the green skirt—Which is minutes away from being started. The blue print skirt is finished but for 2 things: 1) sewing down the inside waist band (this will be done stitch in the ditch style), and sewing on the flat (skirt) hook and eyes for closures.(this will be done while watching TV)

I like the skirt—but I am not sure I am sold on the front ruffle—Time will tell.  It is a pretty outfit, and the pieces are good separates--I will be able to wear each piece with other things I already own. 

I also found some pale, pearly green buttons—This was all on my shopping trip to buy interfacing (3 yds. each of lightweight and medium weight, plus some tear away for machine embroidery.)  I never buy less than 3 yards of interfacing at a time—to me it is a sewing staple. I last bought interfacing about 3 years ago—so it was time.

I am thinking of doing some machine cut away embroider (which is why I bought tear away interfacing). I am also thinking of adding some more of the shiny embroidery thread to my stores. It's not cheap. ($6 a spool) but the spools are huge. and the finished effect is very nice.   I have a few store bought tops with some cut away embroidery—and I really like the look. Well--it can wait, it will still be there next time I go to the store.

But before I start experimenting, I have a queue of sewing to do: 1) sewing up the grey and yellow skirt and vest set, already cut (except for interfacing!),  2) A Jumper dress, (or 2!), One in a color (looks like it might be a yellow, (but dusty pink might win out over the yellow)); the other,  a denim) 3) another shirt dress (in black, trimmed with red). And then, I'll take a rest, I promise!

This should take me till the end of July, I will take August off, and start up again in September with some more skirts and vest, (and more old clothes discarded!)  And by then, I'll have developed a queue for things I want to knit!

If I want to be a very good sister, I will find some more of the blue print fabric, and make a simple dress for my sister... but the print was a remnant--so.  I haven't made anything for my sister Geraldine in years--(and she commented how much she liked the print.)