Thursday, March 25, 2010

Advice for new sew-ers

From contributing editor of one of my favourite sewing magazine, Threads magazine: (emphasis mine in bold)

Threads: Do you have any advice for people just starting to explore sewing and/or design?
Kenneth: With my teaching and writing, I’ve been fortunate to meet a lot of nice people. I’m often asked for advice for people who are just embarking on the journey called exploring sewing and design. If I were to say one thing and only one thing, it’s this: perfectionism is a disease, and a form of fear!
When learning the craft of sewing (which I believe is absolutely necessary in order to know what’s possible when designing), you should expect to destroy several acres of fabric before you get good. This is an acquired skill which can only be perfected by means of repetition—practicing over and over, learning from mistakes, learning when you can save something, and when you need to cut your losses and start over.
If you are afraid to make a mistake, afraid to ruin some fabric, or afraid to waste some time, you won’t ever get really good at this craft. It’s the dues you pay for becoming proficient.
However, if you are willing to charge forward, cut into that fabric, try something different, and risk making a mistake, there will come one day when you realize that you’re sewing without that knot of worry in the pit of your stomach, and the process effortlessly glides along.

And that, in a nutshell, sums up my fears of "charging forward" to date. I am afraid; to ruin fabric, to waste fabric ( that I have already paid for, and so in reality, it is already "wasted" unless I DO SOMETHING WITH IT.

So there you go..."acres of fabric" here I come ...

In other news, Threads has also recently begun a video series, for new sew-ers, free, called Teach yourself to sew that is worth a look at for those who are really new, and not so new.

We have all been sick with the flu the last week and one half, and I am trying to organise my sewing room, so not much sewing as such. Soon, insha'Allah.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mini Wardrobe Contest March 2010

I am the contest manager for one of the march contests on Pattern Review, the mini wardrobe contest. 

The rules are simple. 4 garments, to form at least 4 distinct outfits in a month. It can be for anyone, not just the self. And there are one or two women intending to sew more than one wardrobe (one for self, and one for another). 

The boards have been buzzing with excitement and plans of the intended participants, along with confusion over some issues, including, most notably, a storyboard. 

What is a storyboard? A visual of the participant's intended choice of patterns and fabrics to make the composite wardrobe. That way, everyone knows what is being talked about. 

I am new to sewing and even newer to storyboards, and after a while, my response of "I am not sure, I have never done this before..." began to annoy even me. What kind of contest manager would not know the basics of what they were "managing", and if that involves storyboards, should I not know at least the basics about it? 

So I began looking. PR has some helpful tutorials and information about storyboards, but the best place, by far, is Angie's Quality Time blog. Not only does she cover making a storyboard using for PCs, but she also added a later tute for Mac users like me, using Preview. 

As a contest manager, I cannot actually participate in the contest, obviously, but some have been known to sew along, and while I do not think my speed is anywhere near that stage as yet I had a little bit of fun (and frustration) putting together a rough composite of a mini wardrobe I would make my 4 year old daughter, had I the time and ability. The materials and patterns are a bit haphazard, and I do not necessarily own them, having taken many of the patterns and prints off online shops, but, after a little help from my husband, this is what I ended up with: 

It is late here, after midnight, and so I am calling it quits here. 

What I tend to see a lot of, on storyboards, is layering of fabric, patterns, line illustrations, which is ok, nothing wrong with that. For me, personally, I like seeing the fabric of choice filling the line illustration, to be able to better visualise if it will work. So, while I would have liked to have played a bit more with the layering effect, I am fairly happy with this for now. 

Phew. Now, if people don't quite know what to do, or how to do it as far as this stuff goes, I can feel a bit more confident about pointing them in the right direction! 

In other news, my son has been keeping me up late, and so I have been grumpy and generally TIRED. And that does not motivate me to sew. Or cut. Or trace. So my pile of stuff to sew is sitting, waiting patiently. 

And in yet other news,  this is the latest addition to my sewing adventures. A semi industrial blind hemmer. 

Kobe. Made in Japan. 

Did I need it? Probably not. Did I want it? Yes. 
I have been dallying over it for about six months now, and hedging. In Australia, they retail for just over $1000. Way too much for me. 
But, being short (5'3), I am forver altering pants and dresses when I buy them. And when my husband dresses in his religious garb, which is most of the time, he needs the length/ hems taken up to just above his ankle. Alteration costs money that adds up after a while, but more importantly, they never seem to do a good enough job. 
So, I talked to my husband, and he says what he always says, subHanallah. "Get it if you think you will use it." 
I would not have, except I got an exceptional deal on it, even with the cost of shipping. And so I bit the bullet. 

Now to figure out how to work it so I can hem some clothes....

Friday, March 12, 2010

Waste Free Lunch Bag - PR Handbag Contest march 2010

My kids totally love their little bags. I don't know how much "lunch" use they will get out of them. They seem to be using them primarily as handbags while playing house and whatever else little girls get up to.

It is a nice size for adults too, if you can edit the pockets and contents somewhat.

Here is the layout, of the lining, on cotton batting:

The divider is the large fabric piece on the left, which becomes incorporated into the final side seams. The fabric to the right, is the pocket.

Here is the lining, turned out, with the bottle holder facing the photo, just before I inserted this into the fabric/ outer layer.

This is the other side of the lining layer, with the pocket folded into the divider, which is what you can see here.

Fully lined on the inside. Velcro for closures. Next time, I might consider using a waterproof lining, such as PUL, especially if it is intended for kids, to make it "mess proof"
Finished product, 9.5 inches by 9 inches when full.
I can see I will be making more of these in the near future!!! What little girl does not like bags, especially bags made especially for her? The one on the left is my first (wonky) attempt. The second attempt went together seamlessly, with no unpicking or anything. Muslins may well be a good idea!

All up, from cutting to construction, it took me about 2 hours to put this together. It is a nice pattern, I am sure it could be self drafted by someone more experienced, but that would not be me:-)

The only initial pain was making the templates, since the instructions have you cut them out on the fabric and interfacing. Being the pedant that I am, I decided to make my own templates for repeated use using my sew-in interfacing, so I have standard sized templates to make more of these with.

My first PR contest entered. alHamdulillah. So pleased. Not even hoping to win by a long shot (unless it is the random draw winner), but so happy to have just done this!

Full review at pattern review

Waste Free Lunch Bag - Attempt #2

So much for 30 minutes a day...

Still, I managed to finish the second version of this in just 2 hours once I actually found the time to get to it. 

My younger daughter is perfectly happy with her imperfect version, but this version, which I intend to enter in the Pattern  handbag contest, will go to the older daughter. 

I'll take better photos and do a review tomorrow, but it is after midnight, and I am just happy it is done, my first (lined) bag ever! 

The colours look rather washed out, but I think that is because of the night lighting. I shall try again tomorrow. 

My first bag ever, and lined at that. Who would have thought? 

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Waste Free Lunch Bag - Attempt #1

Well, that did not go quite as well as I had planned.

I am planning to enter the handbag challenge/ contest over on Pattern Review which is a 15 day contest, with my first ever attempt at a bag of any sort.

I decided to go with the Waste Free Lunch Bag pattern I bought off You Can Make This, intending to make lunch bags for my girls for the co-operative pre school some friends and I have going.

All was going well; my girls picked out the fabric, and I began making the template, cutting out fabric, interfacing etc.

Even my 8 month old, who has been unsettled of late, has been behaving himself tonight, and so I have found myself in "the zone", and almost done at 1 am...until I attempted to sew the lining, with the divider, and pockets etc to the side seam, and left out the divider...aaaaaaaagh.

Back to the drawing board, except it is late and my exhaustion is suddenly upon me...and I just can't face unpicking at the moment.

How dumb can I be? Really?

Khayr insha'Allah. It's all good.

Tomorrow, if my husband can mind the kids for a couple of hours before he goes to work (yes, he works saturdays too), I might be able to unpick and work some more.

For the subsequent attempts, I had intended to fuse and cut out my pieces tomorrow evening, and to take them with me to work on sunday, along with my SM, so that if  I have a quiet shift, I might be able to set up and sew...we'll see what happens. My husband is really excited about my sewing, and entering this contest, purely for the enjoyment of it.

I like that.