Thursday, August 23, 2012

Living with working

Generally speaking, this is a technical blog.  I keep my personal baggage out of it.  Today I'm going to break that guideline a little bit.

I have a big project on the table with a "due date" of October 26th.  There are six to eight garments to be made, three of which are pretty complicated.  To get through it, I need to have a plan of attack.  It also needs to be a plan that is reasonable; I definitely think work is doable, but I've had issues with managing my time and getting things done.

At the end of last year, I was pretty bogged down; I decided to make a plan.  It was, for all intensive purposes, a self-curriculum to refresh and build my tailoring, patternmaking and design skills back to at minimum what they were when I left design school.  That plan was perhaps TOO structured.  I didn't follow through on it.  In fact, I didn't do much of anything for several months into the new year, including sewing.

I started seeing a therapist.  Five months later, I left treatment with her with a few really valuable takeaways. 

(More behind the cut!)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Steampunk Orange: Laughing Moon California Pants (Part 2)

Okay, so I grossly underestimated this pattern.  I expected it to be doable in 15 hours of sewing time - and it might be the second time through the pattern, but I've been working on these evenings and weekends for five days and I haven't even gotten the inseam in yet.  I am not a particularly fast sewist, I admit, but still.  Including making a quick muslin and planning for a simple modification, it took me about ten workroom hours just to get the pattern tissues prepared and my fashion fabric cut out.

Commercially available patterns - the kind you buy at the fabric store - are rated  by how many pieces they have in the pattern compared to how many pieces are in a block for that type of garment.  A pants block has just two pieces; my favorite jeans pattern has eight pieces and is rated by the company as "easy".  Really, getting a good fit for jeans should make it more like an "average" pattern.  The Laughing Moon pants pattern has 22 pieces and includes a couple of kind of tricky things to construct.  Unlike most patterns, many of the interfacings have their own pattern pieces.

It has set-in pockets on the front (like jeans) and double welt pockets in the back; it also features a crotch gusset, an elaborate button fly, a fit gusset and split waistband at the back; the waistband has a separate lining and a curtain facing.  A lot of these are things that you only find on pretty high-end menswear these days.

Double welt pockets with bartacks at the end.  I know, hard to see because it's white on white.
More after the cut!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Steampunk Orange: Laughing Moon California Pants (Part 1)

I've tabled my bustle skirt project for two weeks while I prep up something to take to GearCon.  I leave for the con in just nine days and have a shirt, a vest, and a pair of pants to make for it.

I am using a commercially available pattern for these pants - the Laughing Moon Mercantile California Pants pattern.  Because of this (paired with a need for expediency), I'm not going to take a lot of pictures or go through the step-by step; the goal is to complete the project and offer a fair review of the pattern.  There will definitely be some documentation of the modifications I am making.

The pant is a historically correct pattern, and the pattern comes with separate pieces for four different cuts including a ladies' fit.  That said, I'm not making the womens' pattern because I am a closer fit, measurement-wise, to one of the mens' fits.  The pattern's rather complicated, with 23 separate pieces, including facings and interfacings.  So far I'm pretty impressed with the pattern's quality, and the instructions are pretty good.

That's a big stack of tissue pieces.
Additionally, I will be altering the outseam to turn the plain pant leg into a jodpur.  This will be sewn in white duck and paired up with a shirt with detachable collar and Teasdale from Lastwear, also in white.  Spats, cane, black bowler.  Might we be up to a melanky bit of the old ultra-steampunkery, O my droogs?  Perhaps.

I made a muslin of the pant without going into all the details of the elaborate fly.  The fit is excellent.  The goal is to get the parts all cut out tonight so I can start sewing up tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bernina 830 Record

I am a terrible, terrible slacker.  Well okay, I'm not, but I've been involved in a bunch of other stuff and haven't worked on a lot of projects.  I've  been a bit scattered and haven't had a lot of focus on making stuff.

Well, now I'm down to the wire to get a project done and I've barely started.  That's the BEST way to get stuff done, right?

I do have some photos from what I got done earlier and will be taking more as I really get rolling.  There is a change in the photo quality mid-stream as my old, cheap camera gave up the ghost; I've replaced it with a new one.  It's nothing fancy, still just a point and shoot type thing, but it means I have no excuse for not working because I can't record what I'm doing.

Before I dive into a big project, I'm finishing up some little ones.  For both my small stuff and the large project ahead, I've set up my home machine.  I'll be needing zigzag stitching in a few places and will be making lots of buttonholes. My machine is old, simple and totally awesome.  I was gifted a Bernina 830 Record when I graduated from WWU in 2001; my aunt had purchased it new in 1977 and rarely used it, so passed it on to accompany the Pfaff Hobbylock 4842 that my parents had bought for me.  Both of these machines are still in great working condition and see regular use, although I've used the industrial for the vast majority of my sewing since I bought it.

This thing came with a jillion feet and a table (which I'm not using right now due to space constraints in my flat).
Bernina 830's are still in high demand; they are reliable, sturdy, and available for a long time so a lot of people had them and learned on them.  There are several on eBay and the local Craigslist right now for a minimum of $400.  I regularly thank my aunt for it, it's been a joy to have and it makes a pretty darned good buttonhole.  It's even better when I've got it's table set up, but I just don't have the room.