Sunday, April 20, 2014

5 Reasons You Don't Want to Make Clothing - (and why I will try to change your mind!)

As I was working on making a skirt for myself yesterday I began thinking of all the reasons many of us don't want to make our own clothes anymore.  And just to be clear, this is the first garment I have made for myself in many years!  So I know all of the excuses, and have used them myself many times.  But as I thought and sewed I realized that many of my excuses were simply that - excuses.  So I thought I would share them with you and see what you think, and if you might re-consider sewing something new to wear.

Reason Number One: Pattern Sizing is totally weird.  This is my number one stumbling block.  I wear a size 12 pants.  I can walk into about any store, pick up a size 12 pair of pants and they will fit fairly well.  If I made myself a pair of size 12 pants from a commercial pattern, I would not be able to even get them up over my thighs!  I have never found a reliable reason for this size difference, but to choose a pattern size you actually need to know your correct measurements.  I always go with the measurement for my waist since that seems the most out of synch with the rest of the measurements.  You can easily take the garment in if it is too large, but you can't add more if it's too tight!  For my skirt I decided to make the largest size because that was closest to my waist measurement.  Size 22!  What?  Pattern sizes are definitely way different, so just don't think about it too much.  They do not resemble ready to wear in any form, so you just have to get over it and not think about the large numbers.  (In the end I took in the waist and could have made the size 20 easily.  I marked the pattern so I would remember next time I make this skirt)

Reason Number Two:  I don't understand the instructions.  Yes, pattern instructions can be hard to understand.  Most patterns are written assuming that you have a basic, if not higher, level of understanding.  Luckily, most patterns do have a glossary of terms, and if you still don't get it - try google!  Call a friend, or a mom, aunt, or other person who sews.  Don't let it stump you, be persistent and you can figure it out.  I've been sewing since I was little and I get confused, too, sometimes.  So don't let it be a block for you, there are ways to figure it out and you can do this!

Reason Number Three:  I can buy the same thing at ____ for less!  Oh boy, I can relate to this one as well.  I made a simple A-line skirt.  I spent $15.00 for the fabric, $6.00 for the lining, $2.00 for thread, plus a zipper and interfacing.  That's probably about $25.00 just for the materials.  Once you factor in the time spent, my skirt is probably worth about $60.00.  Yes, I might be able to find a skirt for less than that if I go shopping - but it would not fit me just right.  It would probably be made out of cheaper material, not lined and would not last through several years of use.  And, knowing me, I would spend an entire afternoon shopping for said skirt anyway, and I'd rather spend my time sewing than shopping :)  I have never found the perfect skirt in the first store I shopped in - and mostly when I shop for clothing I come home without anything at all!

Reason Number Four:  I'm going to spend money on fabric, and all my time, and it is still not going to fit right.  I have had this happen.  But, face it - when you are buying ready made, is it going to fit perfectly?  Generally, you either don't purchase an item that doesn't fit right, or you pay to have it altered (or alter it yourself).  At least if you are making it, you have opportunities to tweak the fit before you finish.  If you are really concerned about the fit, you can always make a trial version in muslin to double check how it is going to work.  Just remember, if you are making yourself clothing, you can make it to perfectly fit if you put in the effort!  If you just make it from the pattern without ever measuring or trying your project on, you are quite likely to end up with an item that does not fit perfectly - so make sure you measure and fit as you go!

Reason Number Five:  I don't want it to look home-made.  So what is wrong with that?  Just kidding...I have experienced what you are thinking.  Sloppy home-made.  Imperfectly made home-made.  But, what about hand made?  Custom tailored hand made?  One of a kind, just for you, unique hand made?  How to achieve that special look?  Press as you go.  Trim seams properly, trim threads.  Match your thread (and zipper) to your project.  The details.  Seriously, it truly is the small details that elevate your project from just home-made to hand crafted special.  Don't just whip your way through your project, but put a little special effort in to elevate the look from just ok, to absolutely awesome!

I hope my musings will help you think about why you might avoid making yourself something uniquely yours to wear.  You might have fun, and you will definitely create something that is special!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

WIP Wednesday - Satin Binding

I am smack dab in the middle of prom season, so not as much quilting going on as I would like, but I did get to finish up a project for a nice lady.  Now, I know that some people will shake their head over her choice of finishes, but it is her quilt, and she can have it finished how she likes....there are plenty of old tops that will be hand quilted and carefully bound in vintage muslin.  But this one, it has a lively pink satin binding and a pretty floral back to go with it!

As you can see this top has quite a few age spots....the piecing is ok - not perfectly flat, but I find that not many old tops really are!  Many of them are quite lumpy and the extra fabric definitely needs "quilted out"!  This one had a very interesting finish on the sides.  Instead of having the jagged ins and outs, this quilter pieced arcs of feedsack (you could even still faintly see the printing on some of the pieces!) set into the sides.  Ingenious!  This is the only quilt I have ever seen done this way.

I sewed the pretty pink satin on with a wide zig-zag and mitered the corners nicely.  This will be a neat blanket to snuggle under when it's finished - I hope she uses pink to do the ties as well.

I had already planned to post about this quilt and how I liked the non-traditional finish and was really affirmed in the choice when I read this article - All Inclusive.  I think it's time all of us quilters stopped turning up our noses at each other's choices in quilting and learn to embrace the fact that there are so many ways to do what we love, and we all just need to support each other in our choices!  This quilt is in no way diminished by finishing it in this manner.  It elevates it from being just a top on the closet shelf and allows it to be used and enjoyed.  Which is really why it was made....after all, no one makes a Grandmothers Flower Garden because it is the only shape you can use to make something useful out of those scraps!  Someone had fun making something pretty out of fabric.  She spent time cutting out those hexagons and piecing them together because she enjoyed the process!  And now someone else is going to enjoy being able to actually use it for a snuggle blanket - it just makes me smile to think about it :)  I hope if I don't get to finish making all of my tops into quilts that one of my kids or grandkids will feel free to finish them however they desire and USE them!!

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

WIP Wednesday - April Showers and Glamping Table Runners

After a busy couple of weeks we are ready to get back into a more "normal" routine around here.  Which means going out and walking and running, watching a bit of TV to catch up on our DVR'd shows and making regular meals...I was content eating leftovers all week while DH was away, but he kind of likes to have a nice meal now and then!  I did manage to finish two new table runners over the weekend and got them quilted this week - they are both from patterns I have available for sale, I just wanted some updated samples to show them off!

This first one uses my Cobblestones Pattern.  So easy to make, and a great way to show off a charm pack with some planned randomness!  I used April Showers by Bonnie and Camille.  I really love their look, very retro with lovely colors.  I figured it would be an appropriate choice for this pattern, and it surely was!  I quilted this with a pretty green thread in a design I learned in the Craftsy class by Angela Walters on quilting Negative Spaces.  It's fun to do something new and not in my usual mode, and I think it is lovely.  The thread is Essentials thread, so it's a little heavier and lays nicely on top of the quilt allowing the quilting to pop just a bit.  Cotton batting, and a pretty gingham binding.  The backing I found in my stash -Lilies of the valley on a blue background.  Perfect!

For the second table runner I used my Windmills Pattern and a Glamping Charm Pack.  This line is by Mary Jane Butters for Moda.  It's also a retro looking print (guess that's my happy place right now!).  Lots of blues and pinks and cute little vintage campers.  The focus prints feature little blips of print, my favorite is Camp Like a Girl!  That really sums up the idea of Glamping doesn't it?  Fun stuff!  I quilted this with a creamy white Essentials thread and I did the same quilting I've done previously on samples of this runner.  Swirls in the white and pinweels and straight lines in the border.  I used a pink shot cotton on the back and was not really thrilled with it.  It's lovely and soft, and would be perfect for a snuggle quilt, but I like a little more body in my runner backings.  I found a pretty aqua for the border and used up the last bit from my stash - yeah!

Here is the top from my March UFO Challenge.  I was going to quilt it as is, but it may be starting a new life as the center of a special quilt I was asked to make.  I just have to find out if cats will be good on this project and I will be off and running turning this into a lap quilt instead of a wall hanging.

For April my UFO project will Blue and Yellow round robin.  This one will take a bit of thinking to decide what I want to do with it.  Right now the quilt measures 60 inches square.  The original concept was to make this into a curtain for the closet in my sewing room.  I don't want to do that, it's a little too bold for that and I would have have to either make a roman shade out of it or cut in into two panels and I don't want to do that either!  I might just quilt this one and call it finished.  We'll see.  

As usual, check in at the Quiltsy Team blog for more WIP's by some of the best quilters on Etsy :)  I'm off to the quilt shop for work....I'll be cutting some strips for jelly rolls today, fun!