Monday, February 27, 2012

3. Boxy Blouse - McCall's 4632

A surprise project that wasn't even on my plan, but I had the fabric and it was SO easy.

Pattern: McCall's 4632 (1989)

Pattern Description: Loose, geometric top with gathered shoulder detail. Made View F.
Pattern Sizing: Medium (sizes 14 and 16)

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing it? Yes, it did.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, very much.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? It has a simple shape, yet is still interesting and was an extremely easy and fast sew.

Fabric Used: Oyster pearl -colored twill with a slight sheen and matching thread, both from my stash (age unknown).

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: The only problem with this top is that it was too long and too wide. The width makes sense because this 1989 pattern calls for 1/2" shoulder pads, which I did not use. I ended up taking two inches off the length and two inches from EACH side, four inches total off the width. All of the seam allowances were finished because this fabric shed like crazy.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes! I will definitely make this in some silkier and lighter fabrics. I will probably also make it into a dress.

A Shabd top and two by Hound Designs
Conclusion: I have a top that resembles my inspiration pics (made of finer and drapier fabrics) but not one penny was spent.

Images: my own photos (3), Shabd, Hound Design (2)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Department of Education, Get Your Act Together!

It has been a while since I wrote here about my on-going college experience. I am in my last semester and May 12, 2012 will be a momentous day for me, but that's not what I'm writing about now.

The Department of Education has made changes to how I pay one of my school loans and it is causing trouble. For weeks I thought the frustration was just mine, but now I know it is affecting many and it needs to stop.

The issue: The Department of Education (DOE) made a business decision and handed over their management of the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan program to an outside private company and they were not prepared. No official notice was sent from the website I had been using for almost a decade about the change, instead the new companies contacted me by email instructing me to now make my payments to them. Fishy!

The site I was automatically transferred to from the former official site was the Direct Loan Servicing Center, a private company. To log into their system I had to first create a new user name and password. Call me surprised when I get in and see the most basic of websites. I was sure I had just been had. Then I tried to access my payment history...they don't have it. WTF! How am I supposed to trust them if they didn't even get the archived data from the first company. At this point I was convinced I had been caught by a phishing scheme.

Luckily, I've found official confirmation that this was the right site, but I'm not happy and I am not alone. Note that there are 719 comments under that article and the majority are negative.

The other company that contacted me was Fedloan Servicing. They did the right thing and mailed me information that showed a connection to the Dept. of Ed and shows awareness of my past payments. They are also listed by the National Student Loan Data System as the guaranty for two of my loans and their website looks legit.

Department of Education, get it together, ok? You are dealing with the finances of people who came to you for help. Show due respect.

Update: Currently the Direct Loan Servicing Center (myedaccount) won't allow me to access my 1098-E form so I can complete my 2011 taxes. All of the PDF files are damaged. I tried to call them yesterday to get the info over the phone and their phone system was on the blitz, first it was cutting in and out and then it dropped all my subsequent calls. My email to them received a general response saying someone would contact me. I'll keep you updated on when that happens.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Frustration Breeds Craftiness

Frustrated about my delayed sewing project this weekend, I just moved on to another project.

Like many, I have become obsessed with Pinterest and have been pinning things like crazy. I noticed a few people have created so-called "Made From Pinterest" groups, where they hope to actually follow through on their inspiration pins. Well, I went and made one of my pin projects real.

As seen in my Pinterest and Flicker pools:

Sally J Shim tutorial, Oslo necklace by Le voyage creatif

My versions

Though this kind of necklace is REALLY easy to make and I had the materials for a few months, I still dragged my feet. You see, I really wanted to make a necklace like these but couldn't figure out how to approximate the fired enamel look of the beads. Well, since I had enough beads to do that project later, I instead decided to try the natural look.

The final is made of two strands of 1/8" black satin ribbon while the practice one is made of inferior white twine (the ends frayed badly). Both necklaces used the same decorative metal beads and wooden ones in three different sizes from Ben Franklin.

The making is SO EASY, but I did refer to this tutorial by Sally J. Shim.

Images: Sally J Shim , Le voyage creatif, my own scans

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Early Wardrobe Glitch Revealed (Updated)

That didn't take long did it?

Saturday, I was starting on one of the 12 In 2012 projects. As I lay out the pattern pieces I realized I was running out of fabric. I have had this particular fabric paired with this pattern, New Look 6836, for years! The red fabric had been purchased for something else and a few years ago I realized I'd rather use it for this top, a replacement for that similar Built By Wendy Simplicity pattern that caused some fitting problems on the sewing blogs. For all this time, I assumed I made sure I had enough fabric to switch patterns. Well...I didn't!

Pattern substitutions as of 2.22.2012

So, with this example in mind, I am measuring all of my fabric to see exactly how much I have of each. Unfortunately, that means my plan above might need to be changed. I think I have a replacement for the red fabric but I'm moving onto another project on the board in the mean time. Luckily, my most recent fabrics are still paired with their original projects and should be fine.

Update: It wasn't as bad as I thought. I can still make that project with some alterations, notably the length and width of the sleeves. Best of all, my other fabrics DO match or exceed the yardage needed for each project. Whew!! There have been some pattern choice changes and substitutions but for other reasons besides not having enough fabric.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Handmade Wardrobe Solutions

On my last post, commenters Faye and Elaray made a point that by looking at those garments I could figure out my style; however, that only applies to my handmade clothes. Unfortunately, they do not represent a complete analysis of my style, that you can find on my Pinterest. If I had the means and the time I would love to own more elaborate, colorful, and detailed clothing. However, I'm just not willing to put in the time to make those sorts of items, nor have I the means to afford the quality of materials I would love to use. But, isn't that the case for us all?

12 in 2012 plan in progress* click image to see bigger
I am now participating in Su Sews So-So's 12 In 2012 project. In the last two years I have made an average of 8 garments a year. Well, this year I'm pushing that to 12 total. I also decided that I'm not going to tell you what is coming up next or try to stick to a rigid plan (like I could?!)

However, I am showing you an overview of the twelve-plus projects I would LIKE to finish this year. I will post about them as they are completed. One project you have already seen and two are in slow progress.

Best thing (or worse)? All of this fabric (including the non-assigned ones at the bottom) is already in my stash! **As you can imagine, this means NO new fabric for quite a while.

Those fabrics shown at the bottom of my 2012 plan represent the other fabrics in my stash of which I have enough yardage to make something. There is thin-wale black corduroy, cream twill, deep purple linen, a slightly iridescent cross-weave linen in green and lilac, a blue Flea Market Fancy floral, a lilac jacquard and a pale green satin brocade. One of these days, I'll find projects for these.

Surprisingly, this whole plan falls in perfectly with a recent post on Coletterie, where Sarai writes about ways to use the fabric that you already own. I am following ideas 1, 2, 4, and 5 and trying to initiate #3.

*No, I haven't bought that new Vogue 8787 pattern yet. It looks promising but I'm waiting to see some reviews on first, so those two fabrics/dresses are still on back burner.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Handmade Wardrobe Overview

The past few years haven't really been that bad sewing-wise. Well, not as bad as I thought. Here are the things I have made (AND still wearing) in the past three years. Not bad. Let's see what these twenty-three pieces can tell me about what I sew for myself.

Eight Handmade Tops Eight tops

Eight Handmade Dresses Eight dresses

Six Skirts Or Shorts Six skirts or shorts

Simplicity 2560-2 One topper

One thing, I rarely make buttonholes and here's proof, the only item to have them is the red vintage Butterick top that buttons up the back. Also there are only five zippers among all twenty-three garments! I seem to prefer elastic, belts, wide neck openings, and stretch fabrics as opposed to conventional fasteners. Therefore, my wardrobe primarily consists of slip-over-the-head tops and dresses. Imagine if you couldn't use any buttons or zippers as fastenings? Well, it would be no problem for me.

My favorite colors (or the colors available to me locally at Hancock and Jo-Ann) are purple, red, and neutrals of black, grey, off-white, and brown. I also like to use patterns, but I have to be crazy about them and they must include favorite colors like red, purple, and orange.

The pattern breakdown reveals which pattern companies I like to work with and that offer things I'd wear: Simplicity for five items, Butterick has four, New Look and Colette Patterns supplied three each, McCalls and the Built By Wendy Sew U book two each, and Vogue, Pattern Runway, BurdaStyle, and SewStylish magazine are all represented with one each.

The groups also show what is missing from my wardrobe, well at least, my handmade wardrobe.

Looking at my wardrobe, it would seem I don't like setting in sleeves. All of my tops and dresses are either sleeveless or the sleeves are cut-on or raglan. I don't think I even have a pattern for a simple collarless top pattern with set-in sleeves. It seems raglan-sleeved Simplicity 3835 has been my go-to top pattern. I guess I need to franken-pattern something together.

I need more knit tops, hopefully in multi-color stripes so they can go with almost any skirt or pant in my wardrobe. However, good striped fabrics are NOT to be found locally, I will have to order those online.

In the last ten years, I have not sewn pants. In high school I had no problem with them and made at least five pairs, some from pretty intricate Vogue designer patterns. However, now I seem to be timid about them even though I definitely need more, some structured, some loose and in prints and colors that are not black. I never used to worry much about the fit (especially not the cr*tch) until this past year living vicariously through the trials of other sewists.

It also wouldn't hurt to have more skirts, in a variety of styles and lengths. These I also want in colorful prints, stripes, and checks, not solids.

Next post I will reveal what I mean to do about this.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Retro From Head To Toes

Seychelles Footwear, for all the retro loving girls out there. I've known of this company for years, seen their name around, but never really checked out their shoe collections. Since I mentioned them in my post about the costumes of the Muppet Movie I had to find the link to their site. What I found was a great collection of modern and gorgeous vintage-inspired shoes whose prices range from $70 to $130*, which is much cheaper than similar styles from Anthropologie. Because I prefer vintage style here are my favorites from their latest collection:

Backspace Hamburg


All Dressed Up

Images: Seychelles Shoes
* Their boots price in the $120 to $330 range.