Tuesday, July 29, 2008


The good thing about our podcasts not being on any sort of schedule whatsoever is that sometimes you get one sooner than you expect. (If, indeed, you expect them at all.) I went to Baltimore over the weekend where Cidell took hundreds of photographs of me and cooked dinner while I took a nap. If she was trying to offer positive reinforcement for my visit it definitely worked!

We spent all night in the sewing room, but took a little time to make a podcast. You can download it here. We're trying to figure out how to get it on iTunes, but I have no idea how. There are a few seconds of silence at the beginning (we didn't know how to start with both of us there!) so don't worry, you're not malfunctioning.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Goddess Dress

The white dress for summer has been everywhere this year and I wanted to get in on the action. When I found a cotton/rayon jersey remnant at G Street for about $7, I snatched it right up. When I got home I put it immediately in the wash and hung it up to dry. I wanted to wear the dress that night so while it was still damp I cut and sewed it and ended up with this (fabulous photo courtesy of Cidell):

Lurve. I got many compliments on it at the birthday party I attended.

It is Vogue 8386, with modifications. The most obvious modification is the twisted, knotted straps. I made this dress the day after the Fourth of July (that would be the fifth of July), very much inspired by one of the other party guests on the rooftop I viewing DC's fireworks display from. It didn't hurt that she was around 6 feet tall, willowy, gorgeous, *and* sweet, but I really loved her jersey dress with twisted straps. I'd seen that detail a few times and always liked it, so I decided to give it a go. I lengthened the front strap about an inch in cutting (the back straps I merely forgot to lengthen), because I thought the twist would take up a lot of length. Wrong-o! I actually wore it the first time with the straps only twisted and the left and right bodice hand sewn together for a couple of inches to cover the subject but I just wasn't happy with it, so I took it apart and knotted the straps to take out the extra length. LOVE the way the knot looks. I lowered the back neck about three inches so the twists would look right, but really it could have used another three inches. The back neck on that pattern is grotesque.

Rather than follow Vogue's directions, which are of the "sew front and back bodice units, sew linings to front and back units, join at shoulder seam, slipstitch opening closed" variety I used the technique for BWOF 09-2007-121. It's easier *and* results in a cleaner finish! (Click on pics for larger images.)

First, sew the shoulder and center back seams of both your fashion and linings. Here I self lined so the fabrics are the same. Your side seams are not yet sewn.

Next, place your fashion and lining fabrics right sides together. Sew at the neck and armscye seams. Side seams still not sewn.

Trim your seam allowances and turn your bodice right side out by reaching through the strap tunnel from the back and pulling the fronts through. I narrowed the straps so it was a pretty tight squeeze to pull it through and I used my loop turner. I bought it from Joann during my last run there with a car because notions were 50% off. It is not necessarily an improvement over the safety pin method I've been using for years because the clasp is ridiculously fussy (and I think mine may be defective because there is no way the clasp will actually latch on mine), but once I finally snagged the fabric it was easy to pull it through with only a little finessing.

Now twist and/or knot your straps. Knot first, if you're doing it. You have to twist an even number of times so that your front and back end up in the same orientation, a duh thing that took me a few tries to figure out. Make sure you twist both sides the same number of times and in complementary directions. I did both my twists outward.

Finally it's time to sew the side seams. Match up the lower armscye seams of the bodice and lining fabrics, and sew the side seams as one continuous seam.

I did a few more mods. I turned the center front gather on the skirt into tiny pleats:

And I lined the skirt because white jersey is pretty freaking sheer. I cut and sewed a skirt lining identical to the skirt fashion fabric but an inch shorter. After the bodice and skirt were sewn together, I sewed the lining to the seam allowance Basically, you pin the skirt and the skirt lining right sides together, and the bodice gets sandwiched in between:

This will be my entry in the knit contest, so I need to get moving on updating the review! All the photos are here.

Now that I finally have photos from a marathon photo shoot I foisted on Cidell I have a ton of stuff to review. You can sneak peek the photos on my flickr; they are great! (Having everything to do with the photographer and none to do with the model, I assure you.)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Tablecloth Dress

Last year I went to Greece. It was fantastic. I never ran across any fabric stores, but I did go to the flea market in Athens and bargain for some tablecloths, a rectangle white one with Battenburg type lace and a round blue one with appliques. I am not sure what I'll do with the white one (maybe duvet cover...if I were ever to buy a duvet) but the blue one was definitely crying out to be a skirt. I eventually decided on a shirtdress--a classic white blouse paired with the full circle skirt. When I made my Dior blouse, I knew I'd found my pattern.

Well, ta da!


I love it! I normally stick with 20s-40s, as I do not have the figure to wear 50s fashions, but this bobby soxer look is ok by me. I wore it to work on Monday, though, and got zero comments, which is kind of unusual. So maybe it's weird and grotesque. Whatev. I think it's an awesome souvenir.

Here's how you do it.

1. Make a blouse unit. Leave one side seam open for several inches from the bottom for a zipper. I used the left side, because then I can use my more dextrous right hand to operate the zip. I planned to press the waist seam down toward the skirt because of my white blouse and darker colored skirt (didn't want seam allowance show-through), so I hemmed the blouse unit toward the outside. I tacked the placket pieces together at the bottom.

2. Find and mark the center of your circular tablecloth by carefully folding into fourths.

3. Calculate how large of an opening you need in the skirt. First, measure the lower edge of your blouse. This gives your needed circumference (but see my note on seam allowance below!). The formula for the circumference of a circle is 2πr. So let's say your lower blouse edge is 30 inches, and remember that π is 3.14.


However, be smarter than me. I cut my circle out with a radius of 4.77 (well, the equivalent for whatever my measurement was), not thinking about seam allowances. Doh! So you actually want your cut circumference to be at a radius 1/2 inch (or your preferred seam allowance) smaller than your lower blouse edge circumference so that your seam line is at a radius of 4.77. So for purposes of this exercise, you should mark and cut at a radius of 4.27. My skirt opening was a little larger than my blouse and I had to fudge using easing to get it together.

4. Mark your radii. I used a quilting ruler, placed it at the center dot, and measured outward every couple of inches. (Here's the complete marked circle.)

5. Now you need to mark a zip opening. My buttons are fully functional, but I didn't want to continue them on the skirt so it needed a side zip to open up the waist. I chose a spot where I wouldn't have to cut through any embroidery. I totally lucked out because this placed the large motifs at CF, CB, and sides. Sheer luck. You could get all fancy and calculate how far down you need the zip to go to make sure it will go over your hips, but I just brought it down about 5 inches or so and figured it would be good (I purposely made the waist pretty huge so I wasn't worried).

6. Cut out your circle, and slit down your zip opening.

7. Immediately staystitch around your waist opening, and then sew skirt and blouse together.

8. To make sure my waist seam matched up perfectly (which it does!), I first sewed one side of my invisible zip in place, and then hand basted the other side before machine sewing. I am really lazy about hand basting and I don't really know why, because I don't mind doing it and it doesn't take but a minute. This convinced me that I should do it more often. I finished the bottom of the cut edge basically by making a small dart that tapered to nothing. Normally for a circle skirt I just cut one edge all the way down to avoid having a bubble at the bottom of the zip, but I didn't want to cut through any embroidery--which, from what I can tell, was all done by hand!

And you're done! Since the tablecloth is already finished, no need to hem. I'm not in love with the length of this one, but I tried various ideas for shortening the skirt (without losing the gorgeous scalloped hem binding) and nothing worked. I think my best hope is a giant floofy petticoat, which I'm not sure I could pull off at work. But I would love to have a giant floofy petticoat, you know, just in case.

All the photos are here, and I will eventually get a chance to update the pattern review.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

That's a Ugly Dress!

I've done so much stash confessing lately that you all probably think I've stopped sewing to give myself more time to buy fabric. This is not the case! Though my current stash yardage in/out count on PR is a bruising 88 in/44 out (ouch!), I actually have been sewing up a storm and have many projects backlogged to review and many more in the pipeline. Of course, the pipeline often turns into a pipe dream, but hope springs eternal and all that.

One project up for this weekend is my Ugly Dress (its new official name). In our recent podcast, Cidell asked me about some of the remarks I get on the street about my clothes. I have what might charitably be called a "distinctive" fashion sense (Retro Fantasy, babay!). I think a lot of people enjoy seeing my clothes, but others are not impressed, and because I'm dressed in such a noticeable way what I'm wearing becomes public property for commentary. I accept that.

I am sure, given the size of my stash, that it will shock you to learn I sometimes have a hard time letting go of things. One of the things I haven't let go of was the dress I made for my 21st birthday in *gulp* 1995, and wore to my college graduation in '96. It's a calf length dress, which has been out of fashion for the past 13 years, but now the long dress is back. I busted it out a while back and enjoyed the nostalgia of wearing this dress that has so many memories for me. I called it my "Juliet" dress when I made it, because it made me feel like a romatic heroine. I used to wear it with a straw hat. Anyway, I was walking home from work and a girl on a front stoop yelled at me, "That's a ugly dress!" I yelled back at her, "Thank you" and kept walking.

**UPDATE**Cidell photographed the dress during our photography extravaganza, so here it is:

I went back through my pattern stash and was relieved to find I still have it! Because everything comes back, there's not point in getting rid of any but the really ugly patterns.

I've already got it cut out of some of my G Street bargain fabric, but I screwed up the front bodice a bit. The black stripes are really, really wide so there are only a few areas in the print the bodice could be cut from where it wouldn't just be solid black. I love the left bodice, and how it matches up with the print on the front skirt. This is the original right bodice I cut. I love the motif on this, but I was concentrating so much on placing it so it wouldn't be right at the center of the boob that I didn't pay attention to the angle. So with this combo, rather than coming together in a V (the whole reason I cut the bodice on the bias), the stripes run parallel:

Unfortunately, I didn't have any scraps with that motif left. I cut out a new one. This one has the stripes coming toward each other in a V pattern, but I think the balance of black and white is off. There's too much black for how white the right side of the skirt is. There really aren't any more suitable scraps, though I'll probably look through them one more time.

What do you think?

**Legal Disclaimer**Participation in the solicitation process is for entertainment purposes only. The Slapdash Sewist is not bound by public opinion. The Slapdash Sewist has been known to make up her mind by soliciting opinions and doing the exact opposite. The Slapdash Sewist assumes no liability for suggestions not followed. Void where prohibited. Available only while supplies last. This offer expires in three days. Opinions provided after expiration will be even more irrelevant than opinions provided before expiration, as the dress will should be sewn this weekend. Thank you for playing. Have a nice day.**

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Stashoholism Confessional: Way Overboard Edition

I gave up my car on July 6, and I used this as an excuse to go nutty buying fabric. Of course, half of that fabric was purchased online, the whole point of which is that it does not require the use of a car, but we'll put that aside for now. And it also doesn't account for the shopping I did last Saturday after I had given up the car. But we'll also put that aside. I would say that I wouldn't buy any more fabric for a long time, but I already made an order from FFC for more of the yellow twill because I bought only a snippet and had no idea I would LOVE it so much. But after that....oh, who am I kidding.

Last Hurrah With the Car G Street Fabrics Extravaganza:

G Street Fabrics, 7/5/08

The brown stripe will be gender-neutral reuseable grocery bags for friends who are getting married (they are cut out but not sewn); the green stripe will be a 3/4 or long sleeve blouse for cold weather; the blue print remnant will be Simplicity 4589, with the upper band being white; the textured white will be a pencil skirt, and also a collar for a navy and white version of Vogue 8408; the off-white knit print will be a new half slip and also just to have; and the white cotton/rayon jersey knit is already a sexy goddess version of Vogue 8386, which I apparently never reviewed even though I took all the pictures months and months ago. Huh. I will probably enter the white dress in the knit contest because it doesn't look like I'll have time to do anything else before the end of July. Incidentally, I LOVE the cotton/rayon knit. This was a remnant, meaning it must have come from a bolt at some point. And yet, I couldn't find any cotton/rayon knits on bolts anywhere. I am always looking for the perfect jersey knit. I find the 100% cotton available to us in fabric stores is generally too heavy and bulky to do the stuff that RTW does with cotton jersey. Hmph.

First Internet Fabric Purchase of the Year, from Fashion Fabrics Club:

Fashion Fabrics Club, 6/08

These stretch cotton twills are for a Mondrian dress project. The white is also the base for a dress overlaid with silk chiffon in a white, black, and yellow floral print, based on Simplicity 4224, which was my very first pattern review! The strapless underdress is done. The quality of these fabrics is sensational. If you're looking for a sturdy dress-weight white, look no further. And at $5.25/yd, they are a steal! I love the golden yellow so much I want to make a shrug out of it, to go with various things I have planned (including said chiffon overlay dress, possibly the Mondrian dress, the maxi-dress out of one of the G Street prints below), but I only ordered 3/4 yard because the yellow will only be for pockets on the Mondrian dress. So I ordered another 1 1/2 yds. And since the shipping is flat rate up to 5 yards *and* the ITY prints have now gone on sale for $3.95 I ordered a couple more of those.

I also have given myself permission to buy just about any knit print that catches my fancy; this is one stash category that is *always* used up. So I stocked up on ITY prints at $4.75/yd. Some are better quality than others. The black/white/yellow graphic print in particular is so thin that I probably would not have bought it had I fondled it in the store, while the black with off white wispy circles is a nice heavy weight for Fall. I was a little trepidatious about the described "metallic" gold in the red/black/gray, but it's pretty unobtrusive (though definitely there). I mean, metallics TOTALLY have their place in my wardrobe, but that print is otherwise chic and grown up, and I thought metallic gold an odd choice to toss in. All in all, though, I'm quite pleased.

Fashion Fabrics Club, 6/08

Fashion Fabrics Club, 6/08

I was a little annoyed with myself after I ordered the blue and pink, because I thought they were the same print in different colorways, and then I'd feel weird wearing both garments. I was so pleased to find they weren't! One of them will be BWOF 05-2008-121. If it's pink, the bands will either be hot pink or blue; if it's blue, the bands will be black. I really can't decide. My top choice is pink with blue bands, BUT I don't love the blue fabric. It's a perfect color match, but while I loved the matte eyelet texture of it in my BWOF 04-2008-128 that I wore in Paris, I don't like the texture for the pink. I want something equally sleek and with a bit of sheen to the main fashion fabric. I'll try to post photos of the options at some point.

G Street Outing With Friends:

G Street Fabrics, 7/13/08

The wool skirt length is just a black; they are normally $6 but were 30% off and I really couldn't pass up a wool skirt length for $4.50; the red polka dots falls under my unlimited knit print stash allowance; the silk has already been turned into a wrap skirt to go with my orange polka dot blouse out of my Vietnam fabric and McCall 5426 (wore it to work yesterday and was complimented in the staff meeting); and the black, white, and yellow cotton print will be a maxi dress (yes, Cidell, you have finally worn me down) out of the pattern I made my college graduation dress from--of "That's a ugly dress!" fame. Something about the giant stripes really drew me in, and a print that big can only be used on a maxi dress.

Total damage: *gulp* 33 yards.

Buying fabric is way too easy. Once my FFC order arrives I am fasting for a while. I need to decide the parameters of it. I'll be in Chicago this weekend, but luckily it will be a very quick visit for bridal festivities and I can't even think about trying to make it to Vogue Fabrics. Right? Please tell me it's way out of the way and nowhere near an EL stop. Please.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Tabbouliatiki Salad--The Turbo Charged Love Child of Tabbouleh and Greek Salad

Tabbouliatiki Salad

I am a vegetarian, but I pretty much hate salad. I know this sounds like a contradiction, but consider: whenever there is no actual vegetarian food, people say, "You can have a salad!" By salad they mean 15 calories worth of iceberg lettuce. This is not a meal, people. So I embittered toward all salad. Also, I don't really like lettuce. I mean, I'll eat $10/pound micrograins watered with the tears of virgins and tended by sacred goats (which makes me sound like a hipster, I admit), but your average iceberg or romaine does not turn me on.

When I went to Greece, I wasn't sure what to expect by way of food. Because of the whole vegetarian thing, generally when I travel food is more necessary caloric sustenance than a part of the experience (Scandinavian countries, I'm looking at you), but Greece was an absolute revelation. It was the best food I've eaten in my life, ever.

Classic Greek salad is called "Horiatiki," which literally means "Village Salad." I guess it has its origins as a simple, humble food. It is still simply prepared, but humble is not the word. According to a placemat at one restaurant we ate at (and aren't placemats the best source of culinary history?), horiatiki probably started out as simply a slab of feta topped with a bit of sliced red onion, sprinkled with herbs, and drizzled with olive oil. It evolved to include a few more ingredients, but only a few. Classic Greek salad contains only cucumber, tomato, onion, and feta, dressed with olive oil and a few herbs. Some places may toss in a couple extra ingredients, like sweet peppers, bell peppers, olives, or capers, but no more than that. The best part about Greek salad? NO LETTUCE.

This week I went to the farmer's market with no inspiration for what I wanted to make for lunch this week. I am cheap and I enjoy my own cooking so I bring my lunch to work every day, making a big old something on Sunday and eating it throughout the week. I ran into a friend at the market and she described a Greek salad she had made and it all became clear. Greek salad alone isn't going to be enough to fill me up, but what if I combined it with tabbouleh? And added some chickpeas for more protein and fiber? The answer is delicious.

Tabbouliatiki Salad

Drain and rinse:
1 can chickpeas
2-3 cloves garlic and add to chickpeas along with
Zest of 1 lemon
Drizzle with:
1/4 cup olive oil.
Stir and let sit for the flavors to meld.

In another bowl, reconstitute 1 cup bulghur wheat according to package directions, except before measuring out your water put into the measuring cup:
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Then fill the measuring cup the rest of the way with the necessary amount of water, and pour over the bulghur. Soak until the liquid is absorbed.

Meanwhile, chop
1 bunch fresh parsley (I prefer flat leaf)
1-2 sweet and/or bell peppers
1/2 red onion
2 cucumbers
1 pint grape tomatoes, or 3 full size tomatoes
1 small handful fresh mint leaves
8 oz feta cheese (can use fat free)
1 Tbsp capers (optional; not chopped)

Mix all ingredients together. Add cracked pepper and salt to taste, drizzle with more olive oil if needed.


I also got a pint of raspberries, because my gmail had randomly suggested this Salt-Kissed Buttermilk Cake recipe to me. I love buttermilk and had some in the fridge that needed to be used, and I love salty-sweet, so I had to try it. The Whole Foods didn't have whole wheat pastry flour (how I miss Austin's Central Market that had whole wheat pastry flour in bulk!) so I used 1 cup all purpose white flour and 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour. I didn't have any coarse sugar, so for sprinkling on top I used 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar (made by putting a vanilla bean in a jar with some sugar and letting it sit). For the salt topping I used coarse sea salt. I am not good at photographing baked goods; trust that the cake tasted better than it looks. The flavors are very simple and the lemon zest really stands out. Next time, though, I'll sprinkle some cinnamon on top for a little bit of kick.

Salty Sweet Cake


There is much sewing to discuss and even more stashing to confess, but food is so much easier to photograph than I am!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Sewing Glossary: Fabric Basics

As with any art form that has developed over centuries (really millenia--people have always been clothed!), sewing has its own vocabulary. This includes specialized words for fabric concepts.

Grain: The grain of fabric runs down the length of it.

Crossgrain: The crossgrain runs along the width of the fabric. Most fabric manufactured for home sewing is 44, 45, 58, or 60 inches wide. For simplicity, usually fabric is referred to as either 45 or 60 inches wide, regardless of actual width (as long as actual width is within a few inches). Patterns will tell you how much fabric you need for both 45 and 60 widths, There is an exception for patterns that give the length needed for only for 60 wide; these patterns have large pieces that won't fit on 45 wide and you must look for 60 wide fabric. Some bridal and home dec fabrics are manufactured in 108 inch widths.

Bias: The bias runs at a 45 degree angle to the grain. Cutting fabric on the bias gives a bit of stretch to woven fabrics and results in a garment that skims the body beautifully. Madeleine Vionnet (see photo at right, and if you want more visit this fantastic article) debuted the use of bias on a large scale in the 1920s. It requires care not to stretch the fabric during construction. Generally, you should staystitch any piece cut on the bias immediately after cutting it. Even on garments cut on the grain, staystitching is usually recommended for necklines, because the curved neckline is partly on the bias and can get stretched out of shape. Bias stretches unevenly, so items made on the bias have to hang for at least 24 hours to allow the hem to stretch; the hem is then cut off even and sewn. I'm not going to lie to you, I am intimidated by bias projects.

NOTE ON HOW TO FIND THE GRAIN OF YOUR FABRIC: You may have been to a fabric store where they don't cut your fabric off the bolt, but make a small cut in the selvage and then rip it. This can be done with most woven natural fibers, and is an excellent way to find the grain of your fabric is it will rip along a single thread. Then all you have to do is line up your selvages and your ripped edge and you have grain. In lightweight fabrics like silk chiffon you can clip into your selvage and pull on a thread to find the grain; once you've pulled your thread you can cut along it to make it a little easier. Unfortunately, I don't know any tricks for jerseys or artificial fibers. It just involves a lot of patience. Match up your cut edges and selvages and then smooth out your fold. If there are ripples or wrinkles, your fabric was not cut on grain (this will be about 97% of the time) and you need to keep smoothing until the fabric lays flat between selvage and fold. Your top and bottom cut edges will not match up.

Selvage (sometimes spelled Selvedge): The crossgrain is bounded on both sides by the selvage, which runs the length of the grain. In other words, it's the manufacturer-finished sides of the fabric (i.e., not the cut edges from when the fabric store cut off your length from the bolt). Fabric is manufactured not to unravel along the selvage; for those without a serger, like me, when you can find a way to use the selvage edge in your project you have saved yourself some zigzagging trouble because it doesn't need to be finished. In some projects, you can use cut selvages as stabilization (I used selvage cut from my corduroy fashion fabric to reinforce the pockets of my coat against getting baggy, as I put my hands in the pockets when it's cold). Generally, when cutting out fabric the selvages are folded together.

Fold: Since most patterns are symmetric and therefore have two identical sides, pieces are generally cut out from a double layer of fabric so that you can save time by cutting out both halves at once. The selvages are layered together and opposite them is the fold. In making the fold, you want to make sure you are "on grain," that is, that you have folded along the same thread all the way down. This is especially important if you're working in stripes or plaids--but being reasonably on grain is always important because if you're not on grain your pieces will be slightly bias, which will affect all sorts of things. (If you are working with a particularly fussy print/stripe/plaid, it is often worth the hassle of cutting in a single layer.)

Nap: For a fabric with a texture, nap is the direction the fabric lays. When you're petting velvet, it's smooth in the nap direction. If you have a fabric with nap, it is important that you cut out all the pieces going the same direction, as napped fabrics absorb the light differently from different directions and it will be quite obvious if your naps don't match. Even for fabrics without a nap, I like to cut out all my pieces going in the same direction if at all possible just in case the sheen is slightly different in a non-obvious way.

Right Side: The right side of fabric is the outside, the side that will show when the garment is completed.

Wrong Side: The wrong side of fabric is the inside. Some fabrics' right and wrong sides are not noticeably different, particularly stretch jerseys. When working with fabric like this, I often mark the wrong side with a chalked "W" to make sure I sew all the pieces together properly. Otherwise, I could end up with two left sides. To decide which is the right and which the wrong side? If they look the same to you, it doesn't really matter. Some knits curl toward the right side, but honestly there is no platonic ideal right/wrong side and your project won't be ruined if you choose "incorrectly." At some point it's just personal preference. So flip a coin or choose some other arbitrary decisionmaking method--but you must be consistent once you've decided what's right and what's wrong!

Sewing Glossary, or What I Learned from Teaching

People are often telling me that they want to learn how to sew and (depending on how much I like them) I volunteer to teach them. Several months ago a friend of mine called to see if I was free on a Saturday night because her husband wanted the house to himself for fight night and she was being kicked out. Though she is one of my few friends who also enjoys dancing (I love to go dancing) I wasn't in the mood to go to a loud bar. This particular friend is an admitted workaholic and while we were on the phone she was telling me that taking all three days of a three day weekend off left her at a loss for what to do with all that time. I said she needed a hobby, and maybe I should teach her jewelrymaking. She said she'd rather learn sewing. I then had a duh moment--we should use our Saturday night for sewing lessons.

That Saturday night we went to the fabric store. Normally, the first sewing lesson I give is a skirt that is a rectangle with an elastic waist. Even this simplest of projects takes 3-4 hours. She said she had made a skirt in her distant past. She has a full bust, a challenge with which I am not familiar, to say the least but one that makes buying Ready to Wear as challenging as my small bust. I wanted us to start on a princess seam T-shirt, if such a thing exists.

I made the mistake of letting her look in the Vogue book. She found Vogue 8422, a fairly complicated wrap top, and said, "This one says 'Very Easy.'" I did not adequately convey that Vogue "Very Easy" and real-life "Very Easy" are nowhere near the same thing and in a moment of weakness agreed to do the pattern. This project would take me about 2 1/2 to 3 hours to sew up, so I figured it would take us five or six. Well, I learned my lesson. Four sessions and twenty hours of sewing later (and this does not count the 2 1/2 hours of cutting) we had a top. Unfortunately, because the project was so complicated, I didn't so much teach her as tell her what to do. She sewed all the seams, but the construction was difficult enough that I couldn't really impart a lot of information as we went along. From now on, easy elastic waist skirt it is!

And there is so much information to impart! I forget how complicated sewing is until I try to explain a concept, and then realize it references other concepts, which reference yet more concepts. So I got the idea to do a sewing glossary. I'm sure this has been done many times, but it might be fun to do. Maybe I'll make it required reading for when I give sewing lessons.

The other thing I'm considering as a pre-requisite for sewing lessons with me is a requirement to come over and observe me working on a project. I learned by osmosis--I watched my mom sewing from the time I was a baby until I just naturally picked it up. I still got a lot of help from her on early projects, but there were a lot of details she didn't have to teach me. The biggie I've noticed in giving recent lessons to people who have never sewn is simply how to hold the fabric while it's going through the machine. The natural instinct is to use the left hand to pull from behind the foot and it's really hard to break people of this habit so that they guide from the front. Maybe if they had observed proper form (well, as close as I come to proper) for a couple of hours the hand placement would make more sense.

I'll tag all the entries with "Sewing Glossary" so they'll be easy to find.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

New Podcast!

Cidell and I finally had the chance to do a podcast! We were behind on BWOF issues, so in this one we discuss both June and the July issue we got today. I am always hoping to get mine a day early so I can gloat, but it rarely happens. `-) The projects I discussed are McCall 5246 and Vogue 8386, pictures to come...eventually. You can download the podcast to your mp3 player for portability here.


Did you notice my new tag cloud? I love it! Way back in the beginning days of the internet I actually knew enough html to code simple web pages. The code has gotten a lot more complicated, but a generous cybercitizen has done the coding for you. The directions are easy to follow and worked on the first try. He even tells you how to do custom colors!


In the podcast I reveal the reason I wasn't at the Baltimore meetup--I was hanging out with other internet friends. They are also crafty but not all of them sew, so I did a little lesson on how to make a simple skirt. Amber documented the process in photos and made up a great post for her blog. Check it out!