Saturday, November 30, 2013

New Look 6225 -- Sweatshirt Dress

A while back I saw this dress (at least I think it's a dress, it may be a tunic) by Philip Lim on pinterest and thought how I would love to wear that.  (I know, that may not be what you were thinking, but to each his own, okay;).  Sewing is changing the way I think about clothes.  Instead of thinking "Where can I find this?" "Can I afford this?" or "Will this fit me?" I think "Maybe I could make this."  That starts the wheels rolling, and I think about what fabric and patterns I could use.

There are not many dress patterns with raglan sleeves, so I decided to use New Look 6225, view D, which is a raglan top pattern with cap sleeves, and just extend the lines of the top down to my knees (one of the few times having a relatively straight figure is to my advantage).   I made a size 14, and added one inch to the side seams, tapering out from the underarm.  I also lowered the neckline in the front by 3 inches.  Because I was being a little experimental, I basted the side seams first to check the fit.  I found out that this is a good practice:  the fit check is much more accurate than just using pins, and if it needs to be fixed, basted seams are MUCH easier to unpick.  For the fabric I used a cozy charcoal sweatshirt fleece from Joann Fabric that has no stretch, which worked out since New Look 6225 is drafted for wovens.
I know this dress is a little 'out there', but I've worn it to an art gallery opening already, and it's very comfortable while being a little edgy.  I do wonder if I am on my way to 'crazy old lady' status; on the other hand, I have always loved that poem "When I Am Old I Shall Wear Purple,"  so I guess I'm okay with that. Life is too short to take oneself seriously all the time:)

Usually I am not a fan of asymmetrical hemlines, but I felt in this case it was necessary to add a little 'oomph.'  Instead of cutting each pattern piece on the slant (I was getting a headache trying to make sure each side was correct), I made the dress a normal length, then tried it on and marked where I wanted the hem to go on each side.  I then chopped it off, leaving enough fabric to turn up the hem.  (One note here:  I wish I had made the dress longer and given myself more room to work with, because the differential between one side and the other needs to be greater than I anticipated for it to have the right effect.)

This is not the most flattering view of my backside, but honesty in blogging and all that;)

The shoulders were unpleasantly constricting after the sleeves were sewn in.  I unpicked them -- every project needs a little seam ripper action;) -- and resewed them with a 3/8"  instead of a 5/8" seam allowance.  The sleeves are two pieces with a center top seam, so that gave me another inch of room (4 seams at 1/4" increase), which was helpful.  I'm not very experienced with raglan sleeves, so I'm not sure why the shoulders turned out too tight, and there may be a better way to fix this problem, but for now it worked.  I added a little interest to the sleeves by binding them and leaving the raw edges exposed.  I also added a binding to the neckline and topstitched the raglan seams.

Also I finally figured out how to mount my camera on a tripod and take photos of myself using a timer.  (I looked on the good old internet and downloaded a very helpful manual for my camera -- much more extensive than the booklet that came with it!).  I need a lot more practice with picture quality and height, etc. but not bad for my first try.
Of course, I did get photo-bombed by my furry friends:
(Note:  my little dog Penny, who has appeared on my blog before, disappeared under sad circumstances early last summer.  We got Luna, the little dog on the left, this fall from a rescue shelter.  Angus is our Australian Shepherd.)

I also got photo-bombed by my husband and older son, who hammed it up and danced grotesquely for the camera.  But those photos are certainly not fit for public consumption;)

Lessons from this dress:
It's fun (and possible) to copy -- or loosely adapt -- ideas from pinterest or other inspirational sites
A top pattern can be turned into a dress pattern
Basting seams is worth the extra time -- they are so much easier to unpick, and they allow me to check the fit before I permanently commit to it
I can take pictures of myself when necessary

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Simplicity A1738 -- Turquoise Waterfall Jacket

In October I experienced some computer issues that kept me from being able to put photos on my blog.  Also, access to my laptop has become more limited as my high schoolers need to use it for some of their schoolwork.  That, combined with overwhelmed feelings on my part, led to an unplanned blog hiatus.  And like with most things, once you get out of the habit, it's hard to start back again.

However, I did continue to sew a little.  I love the title of Barbara's blog, sewing on the edge, because it conveys what is probably the reality for most people -- I fit sewing (or any other creative endeavor) around the edges of my days, in spare moments here and there.  So, back in late September/early October, in the midst of everything else, I made this waterfall jacket (I think that's what you call it, anyway).

I have Lynne of Wonderfully Made to thank for it.  She made this beautiful version and then had a give away of the pattern (it's now out of print) and I won!!!
Not only did she send me the pattern, but also this cute zippered pouch.

It's lined with wipe-off fabric and would make a fantastic cosmetics pouch, but right now I am using it as my camera bag, which I needed more.  I love it -- thank you so much, Lynne!
I was very surprised to win her giveaway, and also I was very intimidated (Lynne's version is gorgeous!).  It was the beginning of our very hot summer, so it took me until autumn to feel like I could actually make a jacket and also to decide on fabric.  I ended up using some turquoise cotton interlock fabric I had purchased from Golden D'or back in February.  I have a brown knit jacket made of similar material so I hoped this would work, even though the recommended fabrics were fleece (!) and suedecloth.

I cut my usual 14 in the shoulders and added a little to the side seams.  Now there are some things I wish I'd done differently.  I think I should have gone down a size to accommodate my more stretchy fabric.  The cotton interlock is a little too floppy.  I ended up top-stitching around the edges of the entire jacket to give the seams a little more structure.  I did not use knit stay tape on the seams, and I really wish I had.  But, it is very comfortable and I love the color.  A tab adds interest across the back:

And one more sort of goofy view of me, however you can see the jacket pretty good.  The sleeves are long, but I usually wear them pushed up.
I am much more a jacket person than a cardigan person.  I am thinking of making another one of these, only next time out of suedecloth, which would give it a whole different look.  Lately I have noticed some really cool suedecloth at both my local Joann Fabrics and Hancocks which could work.

It is wonderful to be inspired and encouraged by friends on line.  I have "met" so many generous, nice people, and Lynne is one.  Finally, Lynne, I have finished my jacket!  Thank you so much!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Under Pressure

Chemical Weathering of Limestone
Inside this mason jar a limestone rock is soaking in vinegar and is slowly disintegrating.  The rock started out much larger and very smooth.  (This is an example of "chemical weathering" for those of you who don't have a student in general science this year;)  I have been observing this rock disintegrate for several weeks now because it is sitting on the windowsill above my kitchen sink.

On the other end of the windowsill is a different mason jar filled with dirt, sand, gravel, and water.  After jostling the mess around for a day or so, the contents of the jar were left to settle and over time they settled into distinct layers.  Most of the sand is on the bottom, then a layer of gravel and dirt, then a layer of light sediment, with fairly clear water on top.
The Laying Down of Sediments
Sitting nearby on the counter is a bowl, which used to contain a big square of pristine steel wool. The steel wool has been transformed into its current state by nothing more dramatic than soaking in household vinegar for a few weeks (just like the limestone rock, a victim of "chemical weathering").
Chemical Weathering of Steel Wool
There was a time I tried to keep fresh flowers on my windowsill, and hopefully that time will come again.  But right now science experiments surround me, and in some sense they serve as metaphors for what is going on internally as well.  A lot of weathering, a lot of rubbing away of sharp points, a lot of transforming.

This fall has been a time of pressure in my home.  Five teenagers/young adults in the house is a lot of food and laundry to keep up with, but just as importantly, it is a lot of conversations.  Conflict resolution conversations, talking-someone-off-the-cliff conversations, listening-to-venting conversations, reassuring conversations, attempts-to-motivate conversations, crisis-avoiding conversations, temper-cooling conversations, faith-building conversations, asking-(and hearing)-questions conversations, late-late-night conversations, late-late-night-waiting-for-the-last-person-to-make-it-home praying conversations.

This has also been a time of increased academic pressure as everyone has more homework, more papers to get done, more decisions about the future to make, etc.  And some students are more motivated than others.....

Financial pressure has also increased this year, a combination of poor planning with some unforeseen and unavoidable expenses.

Plus, I am at the age where I am starting to have health pressures, both my husband and I have parental (our parents) worries, and there is not any one standing in line to buffer any of it's just us.  I have felt very squeeeeeezed.......why?  Well, I need a lot more wisdom, discernment, patience, hope, discipline, authority, energy, frugality, creativity, encouragement, perspective, endurance and love than I've got.

I think I have unconsciously been living my life under the delusion that things will get easier when (substitute whatever) happens, when a new decade arrives. That is not how it works (at least so far as I can tell).  Every season has its good  parts and every season has its hard parts.  Also, everybody's story is different; we don't all have the same burdens, nor the same joys.  It does me no good to compare my story to yours -- I am called to live MY story, and it may require different things from me than yours does from you.

Which brings me back to the limestone rock.  There is another way that limestone rock can change.  If, deep in the earth, it is subjected to intense heat and pressure over a long period of time, it can be transformed, or metamorphosed,  into marble, through a process called 'recrystallization.'  I am hoping that all this pressure will have this good result in me (and everyone else in my family), that the character of Christ is being formed in us.  It is certainly not something that can be seen on a day-to-day basis, but I hope to one day look back and think wow...the Lord has done something beautiful with all of these messy lives.

On my windowsill is one more science experiment:  a bowl of crystals that were formed by dissolving alum powder in water (you can get directions here).  Not quite diamonds and not quite marble, they still are incredibly beautiful. The same God who has power to change things on a molecular level has the power to change people on a spiritual level, bringing forth beauty and order and love and peace and perseverance -- all the fruits of the Spirit -- from people who once walked in darkness.
Alum Crystals
Squished behind all the science experiments on my windowsill is an index-card stand.  For a long, long time the only verse written there has been John 16:33.  Every time I would think about changing it, I would think No, I still need that verse.  I finally feel like I can add another verse, one that has been hanging around my thoughts for awhile, to remind me that God is able to do so much MORE than all that we ask or think:

"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.  Amen" -- Ephesians 3:20-21 (KJV)