I know, I know… I have been MIA for many months now. To be honest. my mind has been elsewhere and I have been incubating some new (non-sewing) creations. I haven’t really sewn much at all, but I have been very busy making things. Here’s a pictorial rundown of what I have made since November.
I’ve taken up knitting again. It started up with a rush job to knit Jack a hat on our way to Aspen for a ski trip. I ended up making four hats from the same pattern I found on Ravelry. Here are a couple pics…
The hats got my knitting mojo fired up, so I thought I’d try my hand at knitting socks. I’ve a lot to learn about stripe matching though. :/ Here are Jack’s “weekend” socks (he won’t wear them to school).
And I have already started another pair for a friend. Here’s the first sock. I’m already 3.5 inches into the second sock now.
I took a Mosaics class and made a few different projects for it.
Right now I’m working on a large scale project, a 3×6 ft mosaic patio table for my parents’ house. Here is a picture of the center medallion in progress. I hope to finish the table in the next couple of weeks.
I’ve even turned Jack on to mosaics. We made a sun catcher glass on glass mosaic for his nanny back in NYC. It’s her birthday this week.
So my big news is that I will be teaching at my local community center starting in April. I will teach a nine week sewing class to 1st – 5th graders and in June I will be teaching a sewing camp for a week. I’m very excited about teaching and am so happy that our community center is such a great place for the kids to go to after school and that they have so many great programs for the kids. I’ve already planned our projects/syllabus and can’t wait to teach!
My little sewing student that I have been teaching privately will be joining me for the class. Here are some of her latest projects:
Last night I made some bibs for one of the teachers at Jack’s school who is expecting his first child this week. Since he’s a science teacher and runs our Lego Robotics program, I thought space themed fabrics were a propos!
I have been so busy with my class and life that I have not been reading many sewing blogs lately. I miss you guys! I hope you are all well.
Oh boy! I haven’t done a pattern review in a while. I guess I’ve been using a lot of TNT patterns lately. I am really excited about this pattern, so read on to find out why. But first a little background on how this skirt came to be… Last year I pinned a MaxMara skirt to my LFN Style Pinterest board. I instantly fell in love with this skirt. I loved the color-blocking and chic simplicity of the skirt.
I knew instantly I could recreate it using double knits instead of wovens. AND, I had the perfect pattern in my stash to try. Enter: McCall’s 6654. And now for the pattern review.
Pattern Description: Misses’ Skirts in 7 lengths. Semi-fitted or loose-fitting skirts have elasticized waistband (waist down), and narrow hem.
Pattern Sizing: 6-14. I originally placed the pattern pieces about 1 3/8 inches away from the folded edge, because I thought the size 14 would be too small. Boy, was I wrong. I ended up cutting off all that I added and using smaller seam allowances for the sz 14.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? I think I made mine a little less body con, but yes, I think it does look like the picture.
Were the instructions easy to follow? I didn’t really need them, but they were definitely easy to follow.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
- This pattern was perfect for my skirt and for double knits
- Super easy to sew
- Loved the instructions for sewing on the waistband.
- The skirt front and back are not that fitted at the waist when you sew them together. I thought that it might be too big. But you stretch the waist band (which is smaller than the circumference of the skirt pieces) as you sew after you match up all the centers, side seams and notches. This nips in the waist of the skirt and distributes the fullness of the skirt where you need it. It looks flat and skims the body, but you definitely have all the ease you need. Ingenious! I’ve always sized up a woven straight skirt pattern for this kind of thing, but sizing up doesn’t handle the waist ease and waistband awesomeness of this pattern which was designed for knits.
- The waistband is sewn together with a hole in the CB seam. Then you fold it over wrong sides together. They say to baste it, but then you can’t stretch the areas you need to stretch, so I recommend skipping that part. I just pinned it to the top of the skirt and serged it together, stretching where I needed to. Once you have the elastic in the casing, just hand sew the hole close. Easy!
Fabric used: Double knits for all three pieces.
Pattern changes or design changes made: I added color blocking to mimic my inspiration skirt. I just guesstimated the proportions and added the necessary seam allowances. I sewed the color blocking of the front and back of the skirt first, pressed the seams, and then sewed the front to the back before added the waistband and hem. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!
Any problems encountered while sewing this pattern? Not unless you count the sizing gaffe I made at first. Very easy sew!
How long did it take you to make it really? Hmmm… Probably about 3 hours including cutting. It would have been shorter had I not color blocked.
Which sewing machine(s) did you use for construction? I used my serger for all the seams. I would have used my Husqvarna for a blind hem, but it didn’t like the double knit fabric and the stitches never caught the fabric. So then I just used the coverstitch for the hem. It looks more sporty rather than invisible, but I didn’t feel like futzing with it. I had an event to wear it to that night, so I just went with the path of least resistance.
Will you sew it again or recommend it to others? Definitely!!! This pattern is a keeper.
Conclusion: Great skirt pattern. Love that waist band treatment and how the ease is eased in. You can’t go wrong with this pattern.
And here’s how I wore it to the party!
Happy sewing everyone!
Hey sewing peeps!
In sewing news around here, I mean besides Halloween costumes and the such, I have started to teach a kindergartener how to sew. How cute is that?
She is very interested in learning. Before our first lesson she had already cut and glued together her first dress. When her mom showed me a picture, I couldn’t believe how well she cut out the dress. The neck hole and arm holes were perfect. She has a very intuitive sense of turning a 2D fabric into a 3D shape. I was very impressed.
For our first lesson, I taught her how to thread a machine and to sew on straight lines and curvy lines and how to pivot with the needle down. Then we made a fleece pillow and sleeping bag for her Barbie. She was a little afraid of the needle on the machine and kept her hands way far away, but she is getting more brave with each lesson.
For our second lesson, we made a reversible a-line skirt for her doll. She used her new skill of pivoting the fabric while the needle was down.
Then for our 3rd and 4th lesson, we made a skirt to complement her doll’s skirt with the same fabrics but different pattern, an elasticized waist gathered skirt in two layers. She was so pleased to put on her new skirt when we finished it today. It fit perfectly and fell at just the right point under her knees. SO CUTE!!!! I hope she shows off her new skirt tomorrow at school.
Initially, I thought that maybe she was too young to teach at 6 years old, but she is very motivated, has an intense interest and is a great student. She soaks up the information and retains it from week to week. She is getting much braver with the machine too. I’m so pleased with her progress.
Now I have to figure out what we’ll make for her next lesson. I better get a whole curriculum together!
Are you sick of Halloween pictures yet? Well, I have the reveal of the costume I made for the daughter of a friend and my own last minute costume as well as my son’s store-bought costume. So I humbly beg for your forgiveness for the lateness of this post with regards to the holiday, already long since passed.
Now I know there are two kinds of Halloween people out there: the die-hard make your own costumes with lots of forethought or last minute throw it together types AND the store-bought costume people. I am definitely in the latter camp. Since I’m such a slow sewer and have to over-think every decision, sewing a costume to be worn once or twice at the most is almost galling. However, I can totally see the benefits of making a costume yourself. It’s unique, you’ve put in the effort and it’s creative.
When Alex asked me to make her costume the week before Halloween, I couldn’t say no. She had such a sweet, hopeful smile on her face. She showed me the picture of what she wanted and I knew instantly that I could make it since it was so simple. This is Wendy from the anime cartoon, Fairy Tail.
I immediately started to brainstorm on how I could make this costume. I played with ideas in my head for days. I formulated a plan and asked the cutting lady at Yardage Town if she thought I was on the right track. She did. Phew! My idea was to make a tube for the bodice with elastic at the top to hold it up, and to add a circle skirt or a-line skirt at the bottom. When I was searching for circle skirt tutorials on-line, I stumbled across a 1/4 circle skirt. A 1/4 circle skirt???? I had never heard of that before. I had heard of the full and half circle skirts, but never the 1/4 one. When I saw an example of one, I thought, “That’s it!” It’s the exact same drape and flare of the source photo. And so, using just Alex’s measurements, I made the dress with an extra long bodice and extra long skirt so that I could change the length on the bodice and skirt to taste. The only thing I didn’t know was how much ease to calculate in. I ended up using 1 inch negative ease, but with my fabric, a cotton double-knit, it was a little on the tight side. Alex said she didn’t mind and at least that prevented any wardrobe malfunctions from happening, right? Due to using an order of construction that was not quite right, I had to hand sew all the ribbons on. Oh well, live and learn.
Here is the dress on a hanger and on Alex (photo used with permission).
Doesn’t she look great? I can’t believe I was able to pull this off. Phew!
And just for balance, here’s Jack’s store-bought costume. He’s a golden ninja.
And I decided at the last minute to make my costume. Make, not sew. My costume was completely sourced from Home Depot purchases: duct tape, wood dowels, spray paint and twine. I was a marionette doll. It was a little unwieldy, but effective.
We had a blast at Halloween and I hope you did too!
On another note…. I want to thank you all for your kind and thoughtful comments on my last post about being an artist. I am proud of that essay. I am proud to say I am an artist, whatever that means and whatever connotations it has. It helps me to frame my life and what I want to do next. We all need a plan in life, even if we change it up occasionally. I had a wonderful meeting yesterday with a local designer and she gave me some really great advice. She was both realistic and optimistic — two qualities not often associated together. I left our meeting with a blueprint to follow and feeling energized like I have never felt before.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!
Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. For the last two years actually. About life, next steps, what I want to be when I grow up. You know, the big picture. I have been many things already… An opera singer, a voice teacher, a corporate worker bee, a serial hobbyist, a mother. I have been itching to get back into the workforce again. I need to be busy. I need to make money. But what kind of job/career/business should I do? That has been the million dollar question.
When I left singing as a career, the decision was relatively simple and painless, as I had been forced to shed that identity towards the end of my career (read more about that here). Do I miss it? Yes, sometimes, but not in the way you might think. I do not miss practicing, auditioning, or even singing itself, but I miss the collaboration of it. The singing with an orchestra or pianist, and singing with other performers. I loved teaching, but I can’t really make a living wage doing it. I have been there and done that with working in Corporate America and don’t really want to go back to that, but what is there besides that? Sewing doesn’t pay either, at least when you’re slow like I am or don’t really have any design skills to speak of. And we all know how well motherhood pays.
So what’s left?
I wish I had an answer. But I don’t. What can I do? What path can I take? Over the last two years I’ve done a lot of ruminating and have discovered a thing or two. One question that keeps coming up for me is, “Can I be an artist?” I’m sure at this point you’re all thinking to yourself, is she serious? Artists don’t make any money. And this leads to the more important question, “Am I an artist?”
When I was a singer, I never thought of myself as an artist. Other musicians were, but not me. I was just a singer. I didn’t write the music, I only sang it. I didn’t even give myself credit for interpreting it. I was not an artist. I have a friend, a fellow singer I met at Northwestern, whom I admire very much. Shannon can sing, play piano, paint, draw, sculpt, and she even made a gorgeous koi mosaic tabletop. She can do anything and everything well and beautifully. I think she is the most talented person. She is an artist, in the truest sense of the word. But not me. Back then, I couldn’t draw or paint I thought. I never even tried. I couldn’t and still can’t play an instrument except for sing. I wasn’t that talented.
But when I look back on the life I’ve led thus far, I notice a pattern. I have been making stuff my entire life. I’ve made music. I’ve made mosaics. I made Jack. I’ve made clothes. And I’ve even painted. I’m quite proud of my subway lady painting.
20 years ago, I would have said, definitively, that I would never be able to paint a face. It was too hard, too detailed. But I have. And while it doesn’t look exactly like the source photograph, it does look like a real face of a real person. I can scarcely believe it. Every time I look at it, I can hardly believe I painted it myself. I’m not saying it should be on a museum wall. I’m just saying it’s not a sadly lopsided unrecognizable slop of a face.
But what is an artist? What does it mean to be an artist? I’m constantly thinking about projects, whether it’s the mosaic table I’m planning right now or the impromptu Halloween costume I’ve been asked to make or what my next painting subject will be. I am constantly creating in my head. My head is filled with next projects. I want to make stuff. I don’t care what medium it is, I just want to make something.
I’ve never thought of myself as an artist because I’ve never thought of myself as being creative. When people tell me I am creative, even today, I demur and say, “Oh no, not really.” But what if being an artist or being creative isn’t only about talent? What if it is about the urge to create. What if it is about the willingness to show up and do the work, the process of creating. Well, if that’s the case, then I am an artist. I have a constant urge to create, every day. I may not create something or finish something every day, but I am thinking about it or puzzling out the small obstacles that crop up on the road of creativity. It’s taken me 30 years to realize that I am an artist, much less feel comfortable saying I am one. I will leave the question as to why it’s so hard for me to admit it for another time. Right now, I just have to figure out how to make a living as an artist. Anyone have any suggestions?
Hi, my name is Elizabeth. I’m an artist and I make stuff.
So what are you? Are you an artist too?