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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Sewing Room Photo - a breakdown of "what's up with that mess?"

So - we shared images of our sewing rooms today - here's a map of what's up:

  1. I received a notions Christmas Tree from my niece (the 4T Chickadee) as a gift - it's full of tape measures, thread, button, and stuff - it holds a place of honour on my sewing table.
  2. I have a RTW size dressform for teaching people how to sew (so they don't mess with my body-double dressform)
  3. Giant wipe-off board with measurments for my friends, projects, family, - this rocks
  4. thrifted sewing machine that needs some attention.  Brother Walmart special, but it was cheap!
  5. My awesome Husqvarna Opal
  6. McCall's poster of patterns that comes when I order patterns online - it's currently acting as a slide for my thread scraps into the convenient garbage can (I can't reach very far while I am healing)
  7. My body double - currently named old me - I need to re build her for my post surgery body.
  8. A GIANT mirror (old sliding closet door)
  9. 27 year old Elna 4thread overlocker
  10.  Sewtionary and Betzina's Fabric Savvy
  11. 25 year old cutting mat
  12. Fuchsia!
  13. Iron (for reference)
  14. Built-in Vacuum (so handy!  the hose is on the floor)
  15. Zippers, Finishings, etc
  16. Pattern and fitting tools
  17. hanging patterns
  18. Stash Bins (there are many up there along a long shelf)
  19. Scrap bins (two wire basket cupboards)
  20. a peek at the top of my lower stash (see 34 if you can find it)
  21. under the table stash
  22. end of the table stash
  23. laundry tub stash (just kidding - that's current projects #1)
  24. Iron (for reference) on its board (aka work surface #5 - the only clear one)
  25. the serger for reference (see #9)
  26. Pattern Drawer (Lady clothes)
  27. Pattern Drawer (kids, Men, Home Dec, and PDF Instructions)
  28. the handiest little magnet cup - it's a locker tool
  29. Paper and Envelope stash
  30. Paper Trimmer (for PDFs)
  31. books
  32. cupboard of buttons and fasteners
  33. Hanging patterns
  34. lower stash
  35. UFO - duffel bag
  36. My unsolicited Christmas gift from my hubby - WINNER - seam ripper kit
Not Pictured: My Trims stash and Ironing Tools cabinet - and Current Projects #2 and #3 (on the floor in bags under the ironing board)

Fabric set aside on mini bolts

My Upper Stash

My Trims stacked up next to the mini bolts

My Husband's gift of height to my folding table

Serger thread stash in the serger table

My monitor above my sewing table - it's an old photo, there's no computer there now - I move it there when I am in a project

My brag book of stash snips

A shot of tidier times

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

My first homemade bra - a run through the Seamwork Florence

Have you ever made something into a much bigger deal than it turned out to be?
 I mean, Holy Hannah - this was easy,  EASY.  After all my hmmmming and hunhhhhing I jumped in with buying some cheaper supplies Monday night, cutting Tuesday lunch, sewing for a few minutes Tuesday Night, and finishing at lunch Wednesday,  (less than 3 hours, for sure)

It's a rough up of the pattern from the February 2015 issue of Seamwork: the Florence Bra (3006)
Now, I have some funny bra baggage going on right now, but really, I made too big a deal about this... it wasn't a risk at all!  It took no time, and the cost:
  1. I went out and bought some 6" lace for $1.15
  2.  used some $1.25/m Fold Over Elastic, and stitched it folded
  3. Paid $2.40 for some plastic bra strap thingies (loops and sliders)
  4. Used some knit lining for the side cups.
All in All, I figure: $3.85 to make a bra - and it's not bad!   When I hung it on my dressform I was a gobsmacked - I giggled.  I burst out laughing - it looks pretty damn fine (even with my experimenting with stitch length and width)!  I bragged about it to my BFF, and texted out to my DH and SIL - I put it on Instagram.  What the hell was I worried about?

I'll get hubby to fit the back seam for me tonight - and if it's right, I'll leap into making some more for practice before my kit comes from Blackbird Fabrics... if anyone is thinking about gifting me something - I'd also like to try the Watson Bra  

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Stash Busting: 2015 success, my 2016 approach

How many zippers are too many?
It's a rare apparel sewer who doesn't have at least a few projects lined up.  And stashes develop as we start rearranging the queue and the project from last Spring becomes waylaid to next spring, and eventually the toile shorts become so passe that the fabric gets packed up for "something someday".
I have been sewing (and lining up projects) since I was 16 -that's 25+ years of queue - jumping!  My fabric stash is a wonderful concoction of past intentions.   I once sewed scarves for my friends, and have a weird collection of fur fat quarters.  There's a strange collection of upholstery samples that I thought might make nice toiletry bags, and I have
upholstery samples
picked up plenty of thrift store zippers to accomplish this.
The wonder of our corner of the Internet is all the initiatives available to guide us through our sewing adventures, and I am especially comfortable with a group of sewists who are Stash Busting -all trying to put a halt to the accumulation of someday something fabrics, to reduce, reuse, recycle from our own fabric stashes.
While most of the team measures their piles of fabrics, I have a different approach to quantifying my stash busting commitment, I keep track of projects.  While my Facebook Friends in the Stash Busting Group are declaring intentions based on yardage, I have declared the following:
  • I will aim to bust my stash by committing to 48 projects that use fabric bought under a different intention. (This worked really well for me last year)
  • I hope to isolate my stash to the bins already in my sewing room, and to eliminate the queued fabric pile (the fabric that no longer has a committed project).  
  • I will sew each of the 2016 Bag of the Month and muslin 1 Seamwork pattern from each issue, or not renew my subscriptions. (Burda Style was not renewed for 2016 for exactly this reason)
  • I will enter at least 1 Pattern Review contest each month (I found this has pushed my sewing envelope, improved my stash busting success, and I enjoy the challenges) and participate in each month's theme.
  • I will prioritize my family mending and hemming.

The bins should be my stash limit
This is so just the tip of the iceberg

I'm not able to quantify my stash in a healthy way.  But I don't mind. It is organic - I accumulate through thrifting,  donations, and impulse purchasing and I  would like to work like a conservation authority: keep my stash in balance,  through healthy attrition and prudent addition.
I have improved in my impulse control as a result of the stash busting group, and the stash bust projects have been highly successful for me.  

Yay for my success in 2015, and "you go, girl!" for 2016.

Breast Surgery - preparation for and a little extra for sewists

I recently had a double mastectomy,  and I was fortunate to have reconstruction as well.  I am just starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and thought I should start jotting down my thoughts while I have this perspective. 
As I approached the surgery date I was desperate for advice on what I could do to prepare.  I didn't find much, so I dug deep.  I remembered that my cesarean surgeries immobilized me, so I signed up with a personal training program and started developing some foundation muscles.  Now, before you abandon me, understand: I am a curvy girl - I walk regularly, and over the years I have been fit several times, but I am NOT a model of healthy physical fitness.
  • I love yoga, but can't afford studio yoga. But I pulled out my mat and cds and started rebuilding my stash of tricks to combine my mindfulness with poses that focused on stretches.
  • I invested in the 6 week program offered by Tailored Training (they are an excellent, pricey
    The Bear Crawl, how hard can it be?
     Babies do it!
    gymn,  and all the staff have significant physical health training - they are kinesiologists, physical therapists, nutritionists and have the paper to back it up) and struggled my way through the first few weeks until I was able to keep up with the group training sessions.  The whole experience was great, but I couldn't afford to stay with the team... but again I built my toolbox: in particular, the Turkish Get-ups, Bear crawls (see #5 on this page), and the more nebulous skill of breaking the goal into achievable increments was a big help.
  • I reactivated my Curves membership ($10 a week I could afford! ) and hit each visit with everything I had.

So, Advice #1: no matter how soon your surgery is, do some work on your fitness toolbox.   Drop a few pounds, sure, but more importantly : get your body ready to be able to get up off the ground without using your hands.
Ok, what?  Seriously, you need to understand: your body will be compromised by the surgery, you will need to use your core and legs to do all the work.  I was so happy that I was able to use the toilet on my own, and I was able to get out of bed without asking for help.  It helped, a lot!

I sew. A lot.  But I had no idea what I needed to sew for myself to get organized  for post surgery.  In the end I did nothing.  What I wish I had known:
Advice #2: get a couple warm up suits and a front opening bra (or two) with the following features:
  • A) Pockets. 
    Pockets to hide your drains
    I had drains for several weeks, and in needed to put the bags out of sight at waist level.  I had a 2 light weight hoodie cardigans that I wore in constant rotation because the pockets were perfect.
  • B) Front openings. I couldn't lift my arms for a few days, and now if I want to dress myself, a cardigan with a zipper front is perfect.
  • C) Smooth, soft, jersey with good drape.  Reduce the risk of catching terry loops or fleece on stitches, tape, or incisions.
  • D) Elastic waisted pants.  Think bathroom with limited arm maneuverability.  (I made a few pairs of Hudson Pants - and they have pockets!!)
  • E) I needed a little bralette with a front do-up.  I missed that boat.  I am now into a light fitness top for minimal support that won't compress my armpits.
  • F) my doctor recommended putting feminine pads in my old front opening sports bras for comfort.  Go buy some cheap pads for this purpose, it's the padding and the smooth surface that works especially well, the flexible foam la-la-la core meant nothing.

"Cleansing Bottle"
Trust me.
Advice #3.  Bathroom stuff:

  • Take the stool softeners the Dr recommends. They aren't a laxative, don't worry.  They are necessary with the painkillers.  
  • Drink a lot of water. Get a water bottle with a spill - proof spout.  I have one with a trigger that opens and closes the spout. 
  • Stock Up:  Panty liners, yeast topical cream, the little squeeze bottle (the hospital provided mine) for your bits, and all the stuff you might need if you have bum issues (like hemorrhoids) be prepared so you don't have to send someone on a strange shopping trip.

#4:  Sewing addiction advice.  Get as much cutting out done ahead of time as possible.  Cutting is the most difficult of the process, the squeezing of scissors or the pressure needed to use a rotary cutter may not even be possible.  I found I had a lot of back pain from my shoulders being pulled forward by my pec muscles, and the sewing position was agony.  I did little bursts of sewing, planning, hand stitching.  If you blog, maybe concentrate on your backlog (this is why this posting exists) will keep your brain busy.  and start a pin board of things to read:  you will surf yourself to boredom in recovery.