Friday, February 22, 2013

Border Dispute

There are two kinds of border prints and the Vogue layout is wrong for both of them.

 There is this pretty Malaysian Batik, with an allover floral pattern and a border on one edge
There is this zebra print with giant zebras in the tall grass om one edge, and the leaves of grass on the other. These are what I will call one border prints.
There are two sided border prints, like this one:,with a border on both selvedges.
Bold Slash Border Knit - Peach/Rose/Greens on Black
These require different layout strategies.
For the one border prints, decide where you want your border: top or bottom. This will determine how you will lay out your pattern. My zebra print is directional, so I don't want upside-down zebras on my chest :bottom it is. The Malaysian batik has no up/down, so it could be either way.
Or you could get creative -who says borders have to be North or South? They could be East West, like we see on Colette's Crepe.

The pictured Vogue has a two border print, but the layout they show assumes one border. It would be incorrect for both kinds. Here's why: See above how they use a single layer, and have all of those small pieces all along the border? They are doing it wastefully. Some of those pieces are linings and won't be seen, so if you were laying them on the border you are wasting fabric. One collar, and two front yokes and one back yoke can go in the middle, as can the belt.. So one 5, two 3s and one 7 can go up in the non-border zone. Move those pockets and the front facing to a middle, non-border zone. Or use a different fabric for the pockets - who will see? I laid this arrangement out on my batik and it was 3 and 1/4 yards- a far cry from the almost 7 yards that Vogue was calling for. Now if I have a border at both sides I can move those small pieces above the big pieces on the left and save even more fabric. Maybe Vogue has an unlimited fabric budget. Most people don't Border prints are both rare and sometimes expensive, so why waste a thread of them if you don't have to? It is unfair to new sewists to give this kind of sloppy layout. They don't know. My mother drilled it into my head that wasting fabric - wasting anything for that matter - was a sin, so I am unable to waste an inch. That's why I have so many large and small scraps. But I digress. You can make this dress for much less fabric than they say. The best way to determine your fabric needs is to get the pattern, make your fitting adjustments (I always have to shorten the sleeves and the skirt), trace any extra pieces that are cut twice and then lay it out on some sample fabric and make sure you have all pieces accounted for. Then measure that, and get that much plus a little bit more, for insurance.I usually get a half yard or one yard extra. Just in case.
I hope that explained my method and please let me know if I didn't answer your question.
If only all border disputes were as easily resolved.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

On the Border

I had been waiting for the Vogues to go on sale because I wanted to solve a pattern mystery. Most experienced sewcialists know about how much fabric certain things take, so if they just happen to find themselves in the proximity of some awesome fabric, they know how much to buy. For example, I know most pants take about 2 1/2 yards, of 45 inch wide fabric, so I'd buy three yards. Or two yards for a blouse...You get the idea. So I would expect a dress like Vogue 8847 to take around 3-3 and a half yards of 45 inch wide fabric, less for 60 inches wide. Maybe a border print would take more, but not that much more. The back of the envelope said this:
Fabric widths given in inches.
SIZES 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24
45",60"*/** 57/8 57/8 6 61/4 63/8 65/8 63/4 67/87

Vogue is clearly messing with our heads, because we aren't making a ball gown here. But when I was able to read the "suggested" layout, all was revealed: They have you lay out the pieces all along the border print, even pieces that don't matter. You are using three yards or less of fabric and wasting the rest!
Lesson for the day: never trust the fabric estimates on the back of the envelope. They should be considered guidelines, or in this case, hallucinations.
Is this just one more instance of quality at the Big Pattern companies going to hell in a hand-basket? First they take the measurements off of the back of the envelope, then they tell us to use purchased bias tape to finish the necklines of silk blouses, and now this. Vogue, you're on thin ice here.

Have you ever encountered a pattern that gave such wrong-headed advice? Examples, please, and show your work.
I'm off to lay this out correctly, just to see how much it really takes.

Friday, February 15, 2013

With a Little Help From My Friends

 How do people who do not have cats sew a stitch? Their patterns are uninspected; their quilt backings neglected.
Here is  my January Scrap quilt, above. I decided if I kept waiting for the light to be better I'd never have a picture. I like it - it is very cheerful. (The scrap box is STILL FULL)

I had such a fun time making this I thought wouldn't it be wonderful if someone would just cut up all of my quilting fabric in odd size pieces and just leave them in a huge pile for me to work with..
I'm going to see if I can bring some of this piecing exuberance into my garment sewing. Mixing up my sewing genres has given me dangerous ideas.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cinnamon Valentine

Celebrate love on Valentines Day by helping the cause of marriage equality- everyone should have  the right to love and marry the love of their life.
Mr. Hunting Creek and I have been together since we were teenagers, and I can't imagine the heartbreak of not being legally able to marry the one you love.
So pop over to Colette Patterns and buy a Cinnamon. All proceeds today go marriage equality.
Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Out of Deepest Stashistan

There are things in my stash that may be older than my children, both of whom are old enough to vote.

 This vaguely Asian floral silk is from Mr. Hunting Creek's mother's stash, so who knows how old that is; Mr. Hunting Creek says he can't remember her sewing for twenty years or more. He brought it home to me after he and his sisters closed her apartment.
This pink silk rayon is from my mother's stash, bought at the Fabric Warehouse in Anaheim or Costa Mesa, California, which may or may  not still be in business. Mom and I used to go and load up on all sorts of beautiful things because it was such a good deal. I used to make dresses for her; she'd encourage this by bribing me with fabric.When you consider that I have not lived in California since 1990, then you know that this fabric has been waiting patiently to be a blouse for a long time.
I don't know exactly why I saved these two fabrics, never sewing them. I was waiting for the "perfect" pattern, I think. Of course, like Mr. Right or Godot,  unicorns, and sensible, moderate Republicans, this pattern never quite materialized. It was December when I realized that the Perfect Pattern for my Precious Fabrics was never going to appear. Like the chapter  in a Jane Austin novel when our heroine has the epiphany that she has loved the hero all along but just wasn't self aware enough to know it, I too labored under the delusion that Perfect Patterns existed.
Now I know that the right patterns were there all along; I just needed to see their potential. It's funny how just spending 20 minutes a day communing with the fabric and patterns helps me see the possibilities. It's clear that I need to work less, and spend more time goofing off in the studio.I think that would be a fun Mission Statement for my Company:"We work less, so we can spend more time with our fabric."

Take a deep breath - cutting the silks today. Just do it.

Had any epiphanies lately?


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Nothing New Added

Doesn't this new Simplicity 1659 remind you of this?:

That was the first thing that popped into my head when I saw it.
While looking at the new Simplicity patterns to see if I needed a new pattern to use for something silk, I thought, "Is everyone pregnant??" (Not that there is anything wrong with that  but doesn't everything seem kind of ...loose?) Like Simplicity 1667. Pretty, but when I asked Mr. Hunting Creek his opinion, he made a face. Not a happy face..
This might be the most unfortunate Prom Dress ever:

What's that drape thingie supposed to do? Gratuitous use of floaty fabric, it seems to me.
1661 looks like a wardrobe malfunction just waiting to happen:

Just a little breeze and oops!
The only one I could contemplate making out of my silk was 
Which only shows that I have a 1940's sensibility, or that I don't like too much fabric floating all around me.
So I didn't buy any new patterns..The new ones didn't inspire me. If I'm going to go to all the effort of making something, I like to be inspired.
I have no excuse now but to use what I already have. My silk fabric is in the prewash. (yes, you can wash silk.) I hate dry cleaning, so I wash almost everything. .
Mr. Hunting Creek was relieved that February was not "Buy some more Silk Fabric Month", when I showed him my schedule. (He doesn't care if I buy fabric but he does like to tease me about not sewing the "good stuff"..)
What are you sewing in February? Something silk and "too good to use", I hope.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Paradox of Choice

Whenever I finish a project, I always feel a letdown and a little overwhelmed. What to do next? So many choices! Admittedly this is a first world problem. I see them on Pinterest, on blogs, on fabric websites. It's enough to freeze up anyone. Of course I want to make the Perfect Choice. How freeing to realize that there is no perfect choice! The plethora of options used to give me stress and causes paralysis analysis, and I used to end up making nothing because I could make anything. This phenomenon has been amply discussed in social sciences circles. Too many choices make almost everyone unhappy. What to do? What do I make next? I decided to give myself fewer choices.
I made a list of twelve themes for my sewing/artwork. I printed the list on my printer, cut them into strips and drew them, then wrote them down: this is my year, all planned out for me. I don't have to wonder what to do next: I have no choice.

Some Silk for February
January: Sew a scrap quilt - done! (photo forthcoming when the light is better)
February: Make something out of silk
March: Use a  border print
April: Sew a Hawaiian shirt (Mr. Hunting Creek is very happy about this!)
May: Make something formal
June: Make pajamas July: Make T shirts
August: Make a Baby quilt (friends are expecting)
September: Finish something (plenty of unfinished projects to choose from)
October: Use a Vintage pattern
November:Use a new pattern

December: Make a Holiday decoration

Since February is Make Something Out of Silk Month, I did not want to be frozen with choice. I told myself that it doesn't matter what I make, just make something, preferably several somethings, all out of silk. The only rules are SILK and I have to finish.( Mr. Hunting Creek is aware of this and already drawing up a list of milestones and goalposts, heaven help me.) I read in Stumbling on Happiness that artists are happier with their work and they do better work when they do more of it, so I am adopting this policy at Studio Hunting Creek. Happy Work, Better Work, and More of it.
I have picked a couple patterns to start my Great Silk experiment: Vogue 1334 , Butterick 5816...and I'll just go on from there.

What are you making out of Silk this February? You're welcome to join my year of fewer choices. According to science, this will contribute to our Happiness. Who can resist that?