Monday, July 18, 2011

My Sewing Paradise

The past week I've wanted to absorb as much as I can about fabrics. To this end, I watched Katrina Walker's and Pati Palmer's DVD Will This Fabric Work For You? and began reading Claire Shaeffer's Fabric Sewing Guide.

I now have a better understanding of why that thightly woven cotton-Lycra blend was so hard to ease and ended up with puckers at the neckline. I still don't know how to avoid the puckers, other than by not using tightly woven fabric on garments that require easing one part into another. Maybe what's needed is a walking foot for the sewing machine. But it may be more a matter of technique than tools. I'm not sure.

When I began sewing seven months ago, I made a deal with myself that I would buy a nice new sewing machine if I were still enjoying sewing after a year. I still have five months to go before I can start looking at new sewing machines. But the deal I struck with myself didn't say anything about sergers. I very much want to work more with stretchy fabrics and knits, and it didn't make sense not to have the proper tools. 

After doing some research on various brands and models of sergers, I chose the Baby Lock Enlighten. What sold me on it was the Extradordinaire (TM) looper threading system. The purchase entitles me to free training, so other than practicing threading the machine and reading the manual, I haven't used the serger yet. The owner of the shop, who will be my instructor, is out of town this week, so I can't do the training until next week.

Katrina Walker made a comment on the Frabrics DVD that sewing is very Zen-like. This resonated with me, as I had had the same thought. My sewing room is like a bit of paradise. It is very plain, with no special furniture designed for sewing. But it has openings in all 4 walls that let in lots of light. The afternoon sunlight is especially nice, shining through the trees to the west of the herb garden.

My cutting surface is a sheet of  heavy manilla paper I spread out on the floor when I'm cutting fabric and roll up when I'm not. This is actually  a good thing for more reasons than the large surface area. One of my goals when I started sewing was to exercise my brain by learning something new. Sitting on the floor provides a different sort of exercise. That's my Border Collie, Rufus, in the foreground. He's such an intelligent dog, I didn't even have to tell him not to walk on my fabric when I'm cutting it out on the floor.

I've reached a rather exciting point in my sewing studies. I'm ready to make something to wear to a special occassion. My nephew's wedding is at the end of the month. Making a dress for a wedding at this early stage  is not quite as audacious as it might sound. If the dress doesn't come out the way I hope, I have something else I can wear. 

I'm planning to make Vogue 1237, using a yellow silk dupioni fabric with slightly different colors in the warp and weft, so it looks irredescent. The publisher claims that the patter is easy. We shall see ... easy is a step up from Very Easy. But the instructions look easy to follow. One clever feature of the design is that the button holes are built into the seamlines of the jacket. 

The yellow I've chosen is paler than that on the pattern envelope. Some fashion experts say that people with gray hair should not wear yellow. But it's always been my favorite color from the time I was a small child. So sunny and bright. What the heck. If the Queen of England can wear yellow to her grandson's wedding, I can wear yellow to my nephew's. I've already pinned on the pattern, and it fits me nicely except that it will need to take up the shoulder seams a bit. I'm putting off starting to sew, because when I looked up silk dupioni in the Pattern Review knowledge base, the author recommended using underlining to keep the silk from ripping out at the seams. So I've ordered some white silk organza. I'll be using Ambiance Bemberg rayon for the lining. With all that lovely fabric, I'll be very unhappy if I mess it up. But since another of my sewing goals is to have clothes made from beautiful fabrics, I have to take the plunge some time. 

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