Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Fit for Real People

I have this book, and it’s a pretty decent resource – if you are female. I’ll spare you a lengthy rant about how this book isn’t for real people since it excludes men. But what it does cover – for women – is useful.

The book suggests getting a roll of drawing paper, hanging a length on a wall and basically mapping/tracing out key points of your body. You use this information to better fit your sewing patterns. So for example, Kent traced my basic outline and added in dots at the top of each shoulder, under each arm pit, at each side of my waist and so on. The reason for this exercise is to see exactly where you deviate from the standard (the book calls it “ideal” and I just hate that term in reference to bodies – seriously, ideal to whom?).

Anyway, what struck me the most about those dots and lines on the paper is that I’m not very big. That doesn’t line up with my mental image of myself. I don’t mean to say I think I’m a Sherman tank or anything, because I don’t. But I consistently think I’m a lot bigger than I am. Case in point, for every exercise DVD I have that uses more than one person, I always find something I think I’m built like. I shared that with Kent one time and he was genuinely shocked because, he said, I was built nothing like that woman. But in my mind I was.

So there’s a cognitive dissonance between my internal image and the external reality. I don’t sit around thinking all day that I’m a giant woman, nothing like that. It’s just another data point for me to keep in mind.

The other point? My left shoulder is a bit lower than my right. I’m guessing all those years of carrying bags on my left shoulder or babies/kids in my left arm to keep my right hand free took a toll.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The coat that never was

I had high hopes for this pattern – Jalie’s City Coat. It’s gotten a ton of favorable reviews over at Pattern Review and I had found more confidence after completing my wool coat. But alas, there were some key differences that made for a train wreck of a sewing experience.

First, the pattern includes 27 different sizes. Yes, 27; no, I am not exaggerating. You have to find your size based on the measurements and then trace it onto your pattern paper (or artist’s paper as the case may be). Years ago, patterns used to come in one size per envelope – you picked the size you needed and made adjustments on the pattern you had. In the last 20 years or so, pattern makers have moved to multi-sizing, where you get as many as six, sometimes eight sizes per pattern. This is the first time I have ever seen that many pattern sizes on a pattern and I found that many lines to be both confusing and frustrating. I was never entirely sure I was tracing the right line. In the picture below, you can see the yoke piece at the top isn't so bad. But check out the piece toward the bottom of the photo. And there were pieces that were far, far worse with lines blurring into a lot of dark color.

Second, I couldn’t find finished measurements anywhere on the pattern to see how much ease was included. I’m prepared to admit this may be user error (as in I just didn't find them) but in the end it didn’t matter where things went wrong, just that they did go wrong. I traced and cut a U and graded to a W in the hips so that I would have enough room (at least I hoped I would).

Third – and this one is all mine – I didn’t use a stretch woven material as the pattern calls for. No, I used the lovely boucle I had used to make a bag a couple of months ago. Unfortunately, this fabric unravels like crazy so I sort of fudged a bit and cut just slightly larger than my seam allowances so that I could serge the edges. Well, that was a mistake.

There are a lot of sewists who will power on through and finish a wadder. I often do, but not this time. The entire experience was very frustrating, so much so that I’m not sure I want to try again with the right kind of material. It’s too bad, too. I have a highly rated shirt pattern from Jalie also, and I have to say this left such a bad taste in my mouth that I’m not at all motivated to try again.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Catching up

It’s been a whirlwind of activity at the Little Yellow House. We had family visit for a few days (thanks, Mom and Dad!) and Kent is in the midst of a huge project for work that requires a lot of time in Canada. He’s spent his time in Toronto and Montreal and a week or so ago, I accidentally mashed the two city names together so now we just say he’s going to Moronto.

I have put my school plans on hold for a bit – we ended up with an unexpected tax bill and while we had the money, it needs to be replaced. So I’m going to do some consulting work for a while and then later this year, I’ll reevaluate the situation and go from there.

I have been a sewing monster too. In addition to the outfits for the grandkids (which I couldn’t have completed on time without Kent’s work on the boys’ shirts), I’ve completed a dress, a top, a skirt, a pair of pants and also managed to ruin a coat. Since my photographer is in Moronto, I don’t have a way to show you anything so I won’t do a proper write up about them now.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A runner's rant

This morning, I got a bit of a later start to my run. I run on a street that goes north/south and it’s really busy, so I run on the sidewalks. This morning, I got to an intersection with stop signs for the east/west street and I could see a car just flying up the hill toward the stop sign. I was very cautious as I entered the intersection, which is a very good thing because she didn’t stop at that stop sign. She may have tapped her brakes but she hardly slowed down so forget about stopping. She also clearly didn’t see me – I had definitely seen her though, and you’d better believe I stopped. I also reached my arm out slightly and smacked her car as she sped past. That’s how close she was to me.

As you might imagine, I had a huge adrenaline dump – writing the events has taken way longer than the events themselves – so I had to walk briefly until everything calmed down again.

I will say that I am a safe runner. I wear reflective gear, I pay attention, I never listen to music or the radio when I run, and I always check traffic. I don’t want to play tag with a car – I’d lose for sure. But in return I sure wish that drivers would follow the rules of the road and pay attention to their surroundings.

This morning’s run confirmed two things for me: it’s safer for me when I run in the dark (because there's so much less traffic that early) and I miss Boston drivers who at least paid attention to runners and pedestrians.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thank you

I read a blog post last week that dovetailed with something I’d been moving toward recently. In the post, the author wrote a lovely note to the widower of a woman who’d gone to the same church as the blog author. In the note, she wrote about how much she’d liked and admired the woman. After the widower read the note, he commented that he really wished his wife could have read the note, too. The blog author ended her post with a call to speak up and say the positive things that we think about others.

This has been something I’ve tried to do for years and was sparked by a somewhat similar situation. My first husband’s family couldn’t have been more different from me that if I’d been born on a different planet. They were and are lovely people, but we invariably struggled to find common ground – all except for his uncle. Uncle Bill didn’t fit in the family either and for whatever reason, he and I clicked. Now he was much older, lived in San Francisco so it’s not like I saw him frequently, but when I did I could always relax and not have to worry about that mutual incomprehension.

A few years ago – and long after my first husband and I were divorced – I learned Bill was seriously ill and not expected to survive. I kept meaning to drop him a note and thank him, to tell him how comforting it was whenever he was around and how much I’d really enjoyed his friendship. But I never did and of course he died.

I’m on a mission to never repeat that again. You know that motto “If you see something, say something”? Well I’m changing it to something more appropriate for me. If I feel something positive, or I see you doing something really cool, I’m going to say something.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Lo how a rose e'er blooming

OK, it's not a rose. It's not even real. But it's a flower pin for the granddaughter's bolero jacket. I cobbled this together from a tutorial meant for cotton which meant I made it up as I went along. There's a pin on the back so she can pin it on and take it off and put it away from her brothers' destruco-hands.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Two and a half out of three

The verdict is in and two outfits fit just fine, while the other one has a big shirt.

But that's OK, we have time and fabric so can remake the shirt. In all fairness to us, it's really hard to sew long distance with no opportunity to fit the clothes as you go. So I'm absolutely thrilled with how these outfits turned out. And what's even better is the kids like them too. Even the little guy's shirt will be OK in the end because he will keep growing.

Here they are:

Granddaughter -- making her a little flower
pin from fabric to go on the bolero

Grandson #1 -- that face just cracks me up

Grandson #2 -- boy is he pleased with himself!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

I do not like green eggs and ham

And I don’t want to learn how to do a full bust adjustment.

There, I said it and I mean it. But I am going to have to, I know, if I want my fitted shirts to fit. I’ve nearly finished a fitted Vogue shirt and the darts just aren’t where they should be which means – duh – the fitted shirt doesn’t actually fit.

I’ve seen more than a couple tutorials on the web and honestly they just frustrate me to no end. I need a tutorial broken down into teeny tiny steps, maybe even with video, and a kind person to hold my hand and tell me this won’t hurt a bit.

I’ll just be off in corner whimpering to myself. No pictures of the mostly finished shirt, it’s really not pretty.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

If train A leaves the station . . .

Do you recall word problems from math class? Or better yet, the word problems in algebra? Making this dress was like solving a word problem for me, and Kent felt much the same about the two shirts. Here’s why:

When you sew from a pattern, the pattern pieces use standardized measurements which may or may not fit the body being sewn for and of course, you’re taking flat fabric and making a 3-D object out of it. All of our grandchildren are very slender and two are quite tall. That means adding in fabric for length without adding it anywhere else.

Since I’d made some pants for the middle grandchild, I’m pretty confident his pants will fit. But I’m no expert at fitting, so I have my fingers and toes crossed that our granddaughter’s dress fits. I added two inches in length to the bodice and then had to be extra careful to make sure that added length didn’t mess up any of the other pieces. Plus I complicated things by first fully lining the dress (hard because the two bottom bands are not seamed in the back, which complicated getting the lining inserted properly) and second, by making the little bolero out of a woven fabric instead of knit.

We will get these in the mail tomorrow, expedited to be sure, so that if there are any fixable fit issues, we can get them fixed. And if the outfits just flat don’t work, our daughter-in-law will have time to find something else.