Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sewing as Therapy: A Burda Style Cardigan

Some may be thinking, "does she really have anything wrong with her, because she sews so much?"   Well the answer is that sewing is good mental and physical therapy for me.    Sewing has always been a stress reliever, especially with the high stress jobs/projects I had before I retired.   So every day that I can,  my husband gets me up to the sewing room and I do the best I can, repeating the motions I've done for so long.   Today's project was Burda Style 7349, a cardigan jacket.

I saw this cotton "Tulum" knit cardigan in the Peruvian Connection's spring catalog ($159) that inspired me to try this pattern.   There are many variations of cardigans like this by Eileen Fisher and others.    I wanted to play with the dots and stripes again so I cut this out yesterday afternoon.   Styles like this enable lots of creativity and still look stylish.   This afternoon I sewed it up.    Here are some photos and there are more on the Burda Style Patterns Flickr Set.   I may pull out some ribbed knit from the stash and make another.

The pattern calls for you to cut 4 of the front top pieces and self face, but I eliminated that.   It also calls for a bias band to finish the back.    To stabilize around the neck so I used 3/8" fusible bias tape at the neck and about 9" down the front.    I also cut bias knit strips, pressed them in half and sandwiched the entire neckline between them for both a design element and to further stabilize.    I used Steam-a-Seam on both the front and back of the bias for that, and left the edges of the trim and the bottom raw.   This needs shoulder pads to look nice.   The sleeves are blind hemmed.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Loes Hinse Bianca Top

Thanks to everyone for your good wishes and continued prayers.  Your comments mean a lot to me and I need all the help I can get.   I hope the good Lord, who has looked over me and mine all these years, has other business left for me to do.

I enjoyed possibilities of the double black and white cotton knit (from MyVogueFabrics swatch service) that I used for the Sewing Workshop eShrug, so I decided to cut out (did that earlier in the week) and sew a Loes Hinse Bianca top (she calls it a sweater) using the striped side on the bias for the neckline and hem.

Sewing is a tactile endeavor, so when the feeling in the fingers can't discern the correct side for fusible interfacing,  you have to punt.    So here's what I did when I applied some soft fusible to the shoulder seams.    I used some left over pattern paper that I keep around and sandwiched the fusible and the fabric between it and pressed.  If I applied the wrong side to the fabric, the fusible would stick to the paper and not the iron, and this also protects your ironing board cover.   Turns out my guesses were good on both shoulders.    Perhaps this trick will help you keep the sticky off your iron and ironing board as well!   More about this on the Bianca Flickr Set.
Fusible applied to shoulder -- I just cut off the excess
Fabric/fusible sandwiched between paper

The Bianca pattern neckline is too high and tight for my tastes, so I cut one inch out of the neckline.  The new neckline measured 23" at the seam-line, so I cut the bias 20 inches to lay flat like this.   I doubled it, and then sewed/serged/ and then stitched in the ditch the outside, using Marcy Tilton's instructions in her Easy Guide to Sewing Tops & T-Shirts (Taunton Press) page 92.    I made the 3/4 inch sleeve version and just did a blind hem.   This top is boxy but the sleeve is fitted.

For the hem, I cut the garment with the wide hem allowance, then applied a doubled raw bias band of the knit around the bottom.   So this Bianca top is longer than one that has the wide hem.

Oh yeah I made some mistakes because of these fingers but ripped them out and happily continued.    I'm just happy I can still stand/sit/press and use the presser feet --  going through all the motions required to make a garment.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Bad News, the Good News and a Lesson

My neurologist was very concerned that I was losing ground and actually getting worse when he saw me the end of last month,  so he ordered the spinal tap that was done last Tuesday.   The tests on the spinal fluid confirmed that the Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) is chronic, and again ruled out other bad things - good news.    I can hardly walk now and the deterioration in my hands and fingers is making it more difficult to type and do things using my hands.

I wish I could start this week, but beginning Monday for four hours a day, five days in a row I will  be hooked up to intravenous high dose immunoglobin therapy.    I sure have had my share of misery these past several months.  This has a lot of side effects so it isn't going to be fun or easy, but I hope this treatment enables me to finally kick this thing.

The Lesson:  Another example of the callous behavior I've endured since I came down with all this

Just what kind of person makes fun of, and actually celebrates the health problems of someone who extended their house and hospitality to them?

This e-mail message came from a person I met and befriended a few years ago on an internet sewing board.  It was sent soon after the onset of the baffling, undiagnosed neurological problems that I described online.   At the time I was in very bad shape.  Receiving this shocked me since I had not heard from that person in almost a year.   I discussed it with my family,  and a week later I responded with some pointed questions.  Was it meant to be sent to me, or did they accidentally add my name to the reply list?   Either way,  I told her that to say things like this about me was cruel and insensitive.   Given that the individual obviously never had any class, I never got a response, apology -  nothing.   I'm not sure of the identity of others involved in this messaging,  but I have a pretty good idea.

From:     xxxxx
    Subject:     i bad
    Date:     September 7, 2010 10:01:55 PM EDT
    To:     Terri K

does this mean she not able  to run around  with that damn hand heald vacum cleaner when people are trying to watch  TV  this could be a good thing

A couple of months later the same individual merrily joined the party to disparage me, and trash my reputation on the same internet sewing (?) board.   The bullies had lots of "fun" with that.    Any excuse is a good excuse.    Doesn't take much to ignite narcissistic bullies, no matter their age, especially in an online forum.

The lesson and a word of caution -- Don't think you ever really "know" people who post on internet boards or social media.  Many of the attention seekers who play in those internet playgrounds have behavioral issues, and and are NOT always people you want to be "friends" with.   Think twice about inviting them into your house or life, no matter how witty, intellectual, caring or sweet an image they project online.   And if you think you have better friends on the internet than "in real life" - Wow !  you're definitely spending too much time online and need to get a real life.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Another eShrug

This time in a double face cotton knit I ordered from the Vogue Fabrics by Mail swatch service last summer.   The woven in design has dots on one side and stripes on the other.  I styled my own "Anthropologie" type shrug,  making french seams for the shoulders and sleeves, leaving the hem edges raw and doing a Linda Lee edge finish on the sleeve hems.   This is one of the edge finishes for knits she demonstrates at workshops and is on her Runway Finishes for Cool Edges DVD that she did with Nancy Zieman that I bought.

These easy sewing projects help me deal with all that is going on these days.   I'm sending this one to my sister in TX who carried my mother's ashes to her home town on the northwestern Kansas prairie this past weekend.   Her funeral was today.   I was unable to go and have to get a spinal tap tomorrow at the hospital.   Wish me luck.

Click on photos for detail
With all the buzz about shrugs this spring, just what is a "shrug" anyway?  I always thought a shrug was a knit that was worn around the shoulders, but looking it up, the definition of shrug (clothes - noun) is "a short cardigan for women".    So for more inspiration and ideas, I posted photos of a couple other interesting cardigans on the eShrug Flickr Set.    

These "draped cardigans" by Eileen Fisher are shrugs too.   I could use my eShrug pattern, lengthen the sleeves, and knock off any of these for a fraction of the price.   
Draped Cardigan in Precious Metal
Cascading Jacket in Striped Linen Gauze

Drape-Front Cardigan in Precious Metal Rib

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Interpreting a designer shirt-dress

I love simple but interesting styles and lines.  I consider myself a minimalist in terms of styling, and apply my KISS (keep it simple stupid) principles to keep things in balance on my small frame.

AKRIS is an  elegant and high priced designer line.   The Swiss company's garments have simple, yet creative lines, cut from the finest fabrics, using top quality construction.   I love to snoop shop AKRIS details.   I actually saw the first garment in the Spring/Summer collection, the light gray double face wool lapel dress at Neiman Marcus Last Call when I was in Atlanta for the Sewing Expo in March.   It was beautifully designed and made.  Due to the double face fabric it was very heavy.  I figured it must have been from a trunk show or a return or it wouldn't have been there.   This spring the company has been showing this shirt-dress in many advertisements.   Here's the shirt-dress on the Saks website that includes a video.

I looked at the garment and thought - the line looks so much like one of my favorite blouses, the Ebb blouse.  I liked the look and fit of it so much that I sewed 3 different blouses and also lengthened it into a dress.    The style, like the AKRIS one, is so flattering in terms of fit.    I bought that gorgeous Caroline Rose linen fabric from Louise Cutting with the intent of an elegant tunic style.   The AKRIS dress has cut-on sleeves, but I think a separate sleeve is more flattering.   I was concerned about breaking up the design, but Louise said it wouldn't matter.

My health and doctor's appointments prevented me from playing around with the design last week -- so today, imagine my delight when Linda Lee posted on the Sewing Workshop Blog that they tweaked the TNT San Diego pattern to create a tunic like this, and included a free download of the instructions on how to change the pattern!  San Diego Tunic Blog Post   That's what I'm working on this weekend.

Monday April 4 UPDATE on this project -- Yesterday morning I worked on creating the new pattern using size XS and the medium length for me.  I kept the two piece sleeve and altered it to a 14" length.   The back diagram was easy to understand as is the front left pattern diagram.

I got confused about the right front --  is the 12.5" an increase of a seam allowance (5/8") added onto the original pattern line?  Or is it added to 5 1/2" from the foldline as shown on the left front diagram?

Then I wondered how I was supposed to sew the fronts together and then where to top-stitch after hemming.   Is there top-stitching along the CF where the pleat is formed.  It looks like they stitched    horizontally where the pin in the mini folded mode is, but it's hard to tell.    What kind of hem finish is recommended?   I didn't want to end up with a wadder and thought, "if I'm confused, then many others may be too".   So I stopped and sent an e-mail to The Sewing Workshop asking the above questions.     The project is on hold until I hear from them.

 An eShrug out of novelty lace - experimenting with techniques

Before I move on to a new project,  I want to post about the eShrug I sewed using this novelty lace.  It's actually a tulle with the motifs embroidered on.   On this one,  I played around, experimenting with seams and edge finishes.   I cut off the stretchy selvedge and trimmed up the scalloping before I sewed the pieces together.    This novelty lace may have been designed for lingerie because the selvedge wanted to draw up the fabric.   I used a 3-thread serged seam for the shoulders, serged one sleeve in and then used a small zig-zag then trimmed the seam allowance.   From the outside there is no perceivable difference.   This fabric doesn't ravel so either work fine, except with the neuropathy in my hands, the zig-zag using a free arm is easier to handle.    I cut the notches into the lace since clips are too hard to see -  that worked great.    I used a rolled edge 3-thread edge with a long stitch length to finish the fronts and neck edges.    More photos and the process on the eShrug Flickr Set.