Sunday, March 29, 2015

Redrafted to be something I would do and wear

The only pattern piece from Simplicity 1463 that made the final cut is the front. It did get bisected by the zipper. Next time I will change the shoulder as well, so there will not be anything left of the original pattern. I don't know why, but it is hard for me to use anyone else's patterns. I have always been that way. When I sewed for myself in High School, I always added my own touch. I took Natalie Chanin's class on Craftsy last week. I think I may be only one of thousands of people who love her hand embellished knits and think "I will never take the time to do that." BUT... if I could do it by machine, then yes, I can see myself making it happen. I highly recommend the class. Natalie's teaching is fabulous. Her work is inspirational. She makes stencils by hand, uses them to paint the fabric, and then hand sews around the stencils. I drew my designs on with a green sharpie and used my machine back stitch. What I did on my machine in a few hours would have been weeks or months in the making by hand. The result would be more valuable and elegant, but I just wanted the fun of stitching and cutting. I think the back is a little overkill, so next time I will be a little more subtle in my design. Is this a technique you would like to try? If you have done any reverse applique, I would love to see it. Show me over on facebook. Friend me, Cherie Killilea.

Simplicity 1463 My own private What Not to Wear Episode

This is my muslin. It is always good to have extra fabric if for nothing more than trying out a new pattern. You can see from my notes why I am not modeling this one. I chose Simplicity 1463 because it was listed as one of the top 10 patterns of 2014 by Pattern Review. It appealed to me because it looked cool and comfortable. I am a sucker for raglan sleeves and V-necks are good for me. I also wanted something with at least one part on which I could practice my Alabama Chanin techniques.  I was skeptical about the "V" shaped hem in front and back, but that was easy to cut off. I did try it on with the original hem and it made my thighs appear 3 times larger than actual. In the back, the upward curve of the yoke makes it look like I must be hauling something heavy in front - wearing a baby, maybe. Then I turn around and the front is pretty billowy too, so you think, yes, she is hauling a baby but it's on the inside. Just what every woman wants. I thought I could salvage the pattern with a few design changes. Listed in order of difficulty.
#1 Raise and straighten the hem
#2 Add a zipper in front to open up the front and wear as a layer over a tank top, automatically slimming.
#3 Change the back yoke to point down in center back.
#4 Draft a new lower back to allow some fullness but without the gathers.
#5 Draft elbow length normal sleeves instead of the butterflies.
In the end, the only pattern piece I actually used was the front, and that was changed because I added the center front zipper.
In my next post, I will show you the final version, talk more about the class with Natalie Chanin, and officially review Simplicity 1463.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Easiest Peach Cobbler Recipe

Starting from a Betty Crocker recipe, I made some changes and turned out this quick and easy cobbler with minimal clean up. It made a great breakfast. This recipe will serve 2 or 3 for breakfast. If you are serving it for dessert, plan on this much for 4 people. If you want to double the recipe, use 2 bread pans and make them individually.
Into an ungreased breadpan,
add 1/2 cup biscuit mix
and 1/2 cup milk
and 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg.
Mix them together in the pan.
Drain a 15 ounce can of sliced peaches, and add them to the pan, distributing evenly.
Sprinkle 1.5 Tablespoons chopped pecans over the peaches.
Sprinkle 1/4 cup packed brown sugar over everything.
Pour 1/4 cup melted butter over all.
Bake for 30 minutes in a 375 degree oven.
Serve warm in bowls.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Reading and Writing

I like to read what my high school aged kids are reading in school. Some of it is revisiting classics I read at their age, like To Kill a Mockingbird and Brave New World. Then there are those that I missed or weren't classics yet maybe, like The Power of One: A Novel and The Things They Carried. I love that my kids are reading and talking about important things like racism, individuality, and war.  I love my Kindle Fire for the instant gratification of buying a book from home.
Reading is one of the things that fuels me for the creative work that I do. I recently finished a great book by a local author The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac. The author, Sharma Shields, said she wrote 3 drafts to get to the final book. That encourages me. It makes me think of one of the games we used to play at Comedy Sportz. You improvise a scene and when the whistle blows, you have to change the last line you said. We usually find that the 3rd time is the charm. Shields takes her novel in some crazy directions that I imagine came from that kind of improvization. I look forward to trying it in my next creative writing session.  I am not good at book reviews because I do not want to give anything away, but if you do not read The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac, you will soon find yourself in a room with well read people all giddy about the book and you will feel like an alien. Another great read that none of your friends will have read, so you can be a trail blazer, is the play Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang. It won the Tony for the best play of 2013, so maybe some of your Tony-er friends saw it.
I do write more than sewing patterns. I will be in the cast of a little show in Spokane called Listen to Your Mother. We read things we have written about motherhood. It is on Mother's Day. You can read about the show and see the other cities here: LTYM . If you have a city near you, I highly recommend making Listen to Your Mother a yearly tradition. The website has videos of past talks. This was my reading in 2011. This year, my topic is serious. I will post the story here after the show and before the video is available.
Disclaimer: When I post links to things that I like they are sometimes affiliate links which pay me a small commission on purchases. I never pretend to like something in order to promote it. I just think it makes sense to collect 20 cents here and there when I am posting a link for your convenience anyway. If you have a blog, you should look at this book Amazon Associates: 7 Steps to Earning $2,000 per Month through the Amazon Affiliate Program in Less than 20 Hours a Week! (Amazon Associates - Amazon Associates ... for Beginners - Niche Website - Amazon). To be clear, I have not read that one, but I probably should. I earned a whopping $27 last year in the program, LOL.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Learning from people, a richer, more personal experience

In a way, I am one of those people who long for the way things used to be. When you wanted to learn something, you had to find someone who knew what they were doing and was willing to teach you. My mom was a great sewing teacher, and she was probably a great cooking teacher too, judging from my sister's prowess in the kitchen. Unfortunately, I was not her best culinary student.  You could always tell when I made the salad, they said, because every tomato, every cucumber, every onion was a different size and shape.  This is why I am so head-over-heels in love with Craftsy cooking classes. They literally bring me into the kitchen to spend time with people who love to cook and who love to teach all of the little tricks and secrets that make perfect results. (I can even cut veges into uniform sizes and shapes now - my mom will be so proud.)  If you are like me, and you feel like you have a pretty good handle on sewing, but your kitchen skills could use some honing. Here are some free Craftsy cooking classes for you to try. If you haven't experienced Craftsy yet, I think you will find it takes you back to a time when we all learned from people in a richer way than you can on you tube.

I took the Asian Wrap and Roll class on Wednesday night, and Thursday night we had an amazing, hands-on, everyone helps, feast. The Vietnamese salad wraps are my favorite, and the peanut sauce recipe (which Gabrielle made) is the best I have ever tasted.  Caleb is happy we know how to make our own sushi now too. I truly enjoyed spending time with the instructor, Jaden Hair, in the kitchen. To be able to turn around and teach all of this to my own kids the next evening was priceless.

If the kitchen is your area of strength, and you really need more help with the sewing, I have some fun freebies for you too. A free pillow sewing guide - you will find the link for free sewing classes there too. The classes really do give you that experience of being in the studio with the instructor and getting to know them as you learn.  I love that you can ask questions and interact with the instructors.
Craftsy's motto is, Learn it, Make it!  I am happy to be a part of that. I hope you will be too.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Scaling down to illustrate the pattern

Recently, one of the Facebook groups to which I belong had a conversation about pattern illustrations. I was very surprised to learn that most of the gals in that particular group of garment sewing PDF pattern lovers prefer photographs over drawings. I was about to put out my Infinigan pattern with drawings. Instead, I opted for photos. What made it possible was printing my pattern at 1/2 size and making the mini version photographing as I went. Getting the whole garment in each shot was easy and no one would know the difference. I have frequently made half sized bags to try out ideas faster and with less fabric. I never thought to make a half sized garment, but now I am hooked. I will be doing this more to play with design ideas and then to photograph pattern instructions.  You can see my mini sweater pinned on the bulletin board above and next to 8.5 x 11 paper. When you print a pattern 1/2 size, you are really getting about 1/4 because it cuts the length by 1/2 and the width by half. It is not a substitute for grading. This wasn't made to fit anyone. Babies certainly don't have the same proportions as adults, so don't think about printing PDF patterns at 50% to make them for your little ones, LOL. Here is the infinity cardigan pattern listing. If you got the free tutorial you will notice that the pattern is vastly different. The tutorial version is really a hack, but the full pattern is a proper garment.  I can't wait to see the versions other people are making right now. The photos show 3 of the sweaters I have made. You know it's quick and easy if I make 4 or 5 of something without turning it over to Alice.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Next up, the infinity cardigan

I should call it the infinigan sweater. I have 2 lovely models waiting for their sweaters made of 2 lovely fabrics I bought at Girl Charlie, but I thought I should make another one for myself first to solidify the pattern. I am glad I did. This is vastly different from my free tutorial version. The tutorial gives you an idea of how my thought process works, but the pattern will be a fully realized sewing pattern that has pattern pieces and instructions and sizes.
This infinigan fits me, so it's pretty baggy on my model sized dress form.
The 3 fabrics shown came in a bundle from Marcy Tilton. It's the Chloe bundle. There is enough fabric left over for me to make a tank top for under the infinigan in the sleeve fabric. When I get that done, I will model it for you. Watch for the pattern release as soon as I can coordinate with my models - I am shooting for the end of this month.