Saturday, December 3, 2011

Field trip: Stitches Seattle

I really like supporting local business.  There aren't too many indie fabric stores any more; most of us have to buy our yardage at Jo-Ann's and the like.  There are a few places out there, though - Seattle hosts a couple of neat little independent stores, plus a local chain.  I went to visit one of them today.

I was planning on making a Pinkerton from beginning to end today, but was feeling a bit stir-crazy and decided to visit Stitches.  It's the closest fabric store to home; I walked.  It's a little less than a mile from my flat.

Right next to Babeland.
For a small, in-city storefront, they have a pretty well rounded inventory.  The selection of fabric is small, but most of it is very nice quality; not as nice as Nancy's, but a cut above the big chain stores' stuff.  I refrained from buying anything, but I was sorely tempted by a number of things.  They had some awesome quilting-weight cottons, and a small selection of organic cotton and bamboo.  They have a full selection of  notions, some of which you won't find at Jo-Ann's.

There are a few classes, starting with very basic sewing and progressing through more intermediate level projects.  They also have knitting classes; the gal at the counter said their class space is small and the classes are limited to about four people.  I consider that a good thing as teaching craft skills really takes a decent amount of one-on-one attention, which is difficult in larger groups.

If you're near Broadway, stop by.  Shop local, Seattle!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pinkertons: Assembling the parts

The final part of making these vests is joining together all the parts. I got through most of that tonight, though I will have to wrap up tomorrow.  I underestimated how much gold topstitch thread I had and need to get another spool or I'd have at least finished the armscye bindings tonight.  I got enough done to show how I'm doing it, though.  I'll also have to do the buttonholes and buttons later; it's a little late to be pulling out the other machine and especially late to  be hammering on stud buttons.

All the parts sewn together, and the armhole bound.
First I put the lining, shell, and collar together.  The curved neckline edge is one of the few places I routinely use pins - it's pretty curvy and there are a lot of layers to get together.  There is a notch in the collar at points where it should line up with the center back seam and the shoulder seam; additionally there is a notch on the body pieces  where the edge of the collar aligns.

(Pictures and more beyond the cut!)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pinkertons: Lining

I just spent the last two hours assembling the lining for the Pinkerton vest.  It shouldn't take quite that long, but taking the time to photograph each step takes up a certain amount of time.  I have to move the table towards the machines and drag the chair to the west side of the room for each photograph of the full tabletop.

The lining parts all laid out, including the Lastwear tags.
 The process is pretty much exactly like sewing the shell, except that you also have to stitch all those little fiddly bits of facing onto the lining pieces.  And instead of welt pockets, I had tags to sew in.  (That's one of the nice things about sewing for a company - Lastwear provided everything including their very nice ribbon tags.)

(More behind the cut!)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pets and Pinkertons

I got started on the Pinkerton vest this week.  I've had a few other obligations (day job, settling in, et cetera) so it's taken me a while to get rolling and then a little longer to get a post up.  I will note that I had a big, big distraction come along - I now have a couple of helpers around the sewing room:

Hello kitty!
Hello other kitty!

The pictures don't do these little guys any justice.  Black cats are tough to photograph, and Chichi (up top there) is particularly difficult to photograph as he just plain doesn't like it.  He is also totally obsessed with eating thread, so I now have to be pretty careful around the sewing room - I can't leave the machines threaded, or leave trimmings laying about, and need to keep spools and bobbins stored away.  Chi's the only cat I know who isn't terrified of the vacuum cleaner.  He's not scared of the Mercury, either.

I promise I won't talk about my cats too much, although you might see them again - they DO like to hang out with me as I work, and I'll  be making some kitty beds for them eventually here.

And back to the Lastwear project - Pinkertons!  I've assembled the shell of one of the vests, and have new workroom photos to share from the process.

(More below the cut...)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Equipment fail!

I scheduled time to work on the Pinkerton vest on Tuesday evening.  I realized that I'd need to practice making welt pockets (it's been years since I've done them) and cut a piece of canvas drill to match the welt pieces and pocket  bags.  That was also to serve as a test sew for the straight stitch machine.  The Mercury failed the test.  I burnt up most of my scheduled time trying to get it to form a stitch.

I'm not terribly mechanically minded, so when I stopped by the Lastwear house yesterday I asked Thom if he could help or recommend a repairman.  He's supposed to be by later.  If he can't help get the machine going, I'll a) get the contact number for his repair guy and b) set up my Bernina.

I've rescheduled the time I had set aside for today to tomorrow and also have some time on Sunday afternoon blocked out to keep the project timeline at least close to on track.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pinkertons: Preview

I am so excited to finally get rolling on this project that I just couldn't wait.  I pulled the parts to assemble a vest and laid them out.

Not pictured:  me laughing giddily in the sewing room at 10 PM.
The parts are laid out in columns.  They are:  collar, welt, pocket bag; side front, side front lining, side front hem facing; center fronts; center back, center back lining, center back hem facing; side back, side back lining, side back hem facing; tags.  There is one additional part - the armhole bindings.  They're just long, skinny strips that get folded around the raw edges of the armhole, so not having them on the table isn't going to put my gentle readers at a loss.

I haven't ordered the heavyweight thread they use at the factory yet, so I'll be piecing with regular sewing thread and topstitching with gold jeans thread.  I thought it would look snappy on the green canvas and help with visibility, since all the vest cuts I got were dark colors.  (The others are black and chocolate brown.)

Depending on how much I get done at a sitting, I will post the work on this vest in several posts over the next week.  Next up - sewing the shell.  I have time set aside for this on Tuesday evening and I can hardly wait.

New space

I've just moved to a new apartment and my goal was to have my workspace set up and ready to work by the first of November.  I'm on target for that, with just a little bit of work left to do.

I know y'all are dying to see the new place.  Here you go:

There is enough space to walk around the cutting table.  It's a little close there in the back corner, but c'est la vie.
More behind the cut....

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Interlude: White Bird (Part 2)

Well, I wrapped up the wings tonight.  I should have done them on Sunday, but I got distracted - plus I wanted a little input from an observer.  I invited my mother over to snap pictures and consult on how to finish the edges.

One thing to note here... the scale is maybe a little hard to determine in these pictures.  I'm a big girl, both in dress size and height; it may not be really clear, but the wingspan is about nine feet.  Here they are, before we trimmed the edges:

Red Bull did not give me these wings.

(See them trimmed behind the cut!)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Interlude: White Bird

Between larger projects, I am taking time to make a quick costume at the request of my cousin.  She has asked me to make a bird costume to be used at one of her band's performances.

I drew up a quick sketch for her, which she signed off on:

(continued behind the cut)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Upcoming project: Pinkerton vests

In the midst of several other errands, I stopped off to pick up the final parts to assemble some sample vests.  I'll be working on samples and one-offs for Lastwear, starting with the men's vest.  Thom and Lyssa have provided cut parts for several vests to give the pattern a go, and gave the green light to document the process of making the vests.  This works out nicely both for me and for them, as part of the concept for the company is that their clothing is open-source.  In theory this means anyone can download their patterns and make their own - or use it as a launching point for something new.  The patterns aren't actually available yet, but I expect someone truly interested in obtaining a copy could get one if they asked nicely enough.

I'll be putting together one Pinkerton vest on its own, and then assembly-lining a couple more; expect the same kind of photo documentation you saw on the jacket and ticking-stripe corset.  A certain amount of sewing know-how is expected, and I won't be slowing down much to explain the differences between production and commercially available patterns, or on the sort of thing a production sewer would be expected to know.  I will try to recognize those things and provide links to outside tutorials, but if you are following along and don't understand something I encourage you to comment so that I can make sure the instructions I'm providing are adequate.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Art for next project

I've chosen a Turkish theme for SteamCon costumes this upcoming year.  I have a couple of starter sketches, but am not totally satisfied with the designs.  My goal is to have the designs finalized by the 15th of July; given that the female design took me about three hours and has not  been colored, that's a tall order.  I can do it!

Want to see my sketches?  (behind the  cut!)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Workspace Revamp

When I moved into this apartment, my mother expressed concern that there would be nowhere to relax.  I told her it didn't matter, that I'd be able to find somewhere to lounge when the desire to do so came over me.  However, I did a little creative arrangement to make space for a micro-living room.  It consisted of a set of shelves with my ancient, tiny TV (a remnant of my dorm room) and an ugly but remarkably comfortable gold recliner, purchased from Goodwill for $20 or so.  To do so, my sewing space was a little bit crowded and became more so when I brought in the Mercury.

On a whim, I priced out dress forms online one afternoon.  I found a decent one on Amazon, and the seller includes an arm up to a size 12.  I really would have preferred to buy even larger; the "usual" size for a pro dress form is an 8, but I'd really like to be working in the plus range.  Not only did sizes over 12 not include the arm, there was a significant price jump - so if I was going to buy, it would be the 12.  I'm a size 22 myself, but that's OK, I can cope with that.   The real issue was whether or not to get rid of the gold chair and give up my "living room."

I asked my friends.  I consulted my boyfriend.  I checked my bank balance.  I ordered the dress form.

If you didn't know what I meant by "arm" before, you do now.
(more after the cut)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Gearing up again.

I'm lousy about updating.... but that's in part because I've been lousy about doing anything.  Well, hey, I'm getting things moving in the sewing room again.  I'm working on slopers, starting with a basic bodice draft that will get graded and altered.  I'll follow that with a full torso, and then with a skirt block.

Also, I'm doing a bit of rearranging in the sewing studio as I've ordered a dress form.  I'll post pictures later.

That's all for now.  I'll be posting more regularly as I begin the research and sketches for SteamCon III, though.  See you all around!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wrapup: Part 3, Overall Experience

Okay, so here's what y'all have been waiting for:

An old friend and I at SteamConII - thanks, Karen, for snapping the photo!
This picture is pretty much the only one I wound up with of my completed outfit. I've added it to the Gallery.

Overall I think my costume came out very well, but lacked accessories - which are pretty critical to the Steampunk look!  I would have done well to have found gunbelts, and some jewelry.  The boots and hat are great, and the handbag was fine; you can't see the star on the front flap, but it's a remnant from another project that has stuck around because it's just plain good.

The convention was a great time.  It was totally worth all the effort.

I started out with a time-boxing experiment... that fell quickly to the wayside.  Why?  Because Pomodoro takes itself too seriously, and isn't as well suited to every task as its creator claims.  It would be useless for customer service (where you cannot control your interruptions) but also turns out to be useless for time spent in creative thought processes, as entering "right brain" space can take most of a time unit and the breaks bust you out of it with very little time spent in that thought mode.  When actually sewing, a 25 minute time box with a 5 minute break did not work well either; working at the cutting table or the machines is much more physical than a desk type job and trying to use the "official" pomodoro time made for aching backs, physical exhaustion, and not enough of a refresher.

Also, learning the skills taught by the technique takes more practice than I managed to give it.  That's right, practice.  So I will make another stab at it, but will bring what I learned to the table.  When drawing, I'll use a longer time block and also a longer break; when sewing I'll use a somewhat shorter time block with a bit longer break.  But I will continue to try to master the technique and fine tune it to my use, because I did also find it advantageous in a lot of ways.

When I was doing it, the task lists did make me think about the complexity and method of my work, and it did also teach me a lot about how much time it really takes to get work done.  Making the lists made me prioritize and think ahead about how to work efficiently.  Additionally, some of the skills given in the Pomodoro Technique book for avoiding distraction are very effective, whether or not you are using time-boxing.  With practice and adjustment, I expect the technique will become an even more valuable tool.

What's next?  Well, I'm already dabbling on a couple of projects.  I need to set a priority on them and pick one to complete.  I am working on drafting some slopers, and would like to complete the shirtfront and hat wrap up the green Victorian gown pictured in the Gallery.  I am already considering what to produce for SteamCon III; it's "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea" theme is very appealing and I've got a lot of concepts rattling around waiting development.

And there's this blog.  I found that I needed to post after EVERY work session or it got to be onerous; I hate catch-up work, and it's tough to remember what exactly I did if I wait.  However, right now I am back at the beginning stages of the creative process as opposed to in full-swing on a workroom project, so I will probably post a little less.  I am aiming for once a week and have set aside some time on my calendar on Fridays to come and go through what I've been working on during the previous week.

See you Friday!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Wrapup: Part 2B, the Jacket (continued) and Skirt

When my mother came by one more time to fit the jacket sleeve, we discovered that it was too long.  Also, the attempt to make a placket at the midline seam was a fail.  We folded it up and I decided to scrap the placket altogether.  We also adjusted the length of the jacket.

The sleeve with fail placket.
After adjusting the length of both sleeve and jacket body.
With the fit finalized, it was time to start preparing the denim and putting the parts together.

More behind the cut....

Wrapup: Part 2, the Jacket

I made a short post about cutting the muslin for the jacket and showed a pic or two of it... but never really wrote it up.  The process for it was MUCH less involved than the corset; it was built on a commercial pattern and only the sleeve took serious alteration.  The collar and body are as is, except for a major crop job and the addition of a yoke, which replaced the back neck facing.

I started by making up the jacket in my size - the largest in the package - and sewing it sans facings and with only one sleeve.  I invited my mother over help check its fit, and found it to be quite satisfactory with just a very minor adjustment to the armhole at the shoulder.  Mom kept saying it looked like a lab coat, and wouldn't accept  the idea that it was just because it was made out of white muslin.  That changed when I cropped the jacket by hacking it off with shears just below the lengthen/shorten line.

Simplicity 2344 mocked up in muslin, cropped
More behind the cut....

Monday, January 3, 2011

Wrapup: Part 1, the Corset

I can see now that it'll be worth it to split the remaining blog work on this project into two parts.  The previous entries have ALL been about the corset, so I will finish it.  I"ll write up the jacket in a separate entry; it was easier as it didn't take such elaborate fitting, and was built on a commercial pattern.  I'll also write a post summing up the experience and looking forward.  It's a new year, with much to be done.

I had to go back and look at what the last post was.  It's been ages - for which I apologize, gentle readers.  (I'll go into what went wrong with that in the wrap post.)  Last I left you, I had constructed the back panels and joined all the pieces.  What I didn't have for you was the pictures, or the critique of that work.  Well, better late than never!

The front looks good.....
More behind the cut....