Saturday, July 4, 2015

Hand Cast

Sweet William from the PFM.

Today's post is totally not sewing related, but creative in another way and I thought it might be interesting to share.

Last week I participated in a work retreat at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ.    We knew there would also be a group activity, but didn't know what it would be.  We were told we should bring something to fit in the palm of our hand to be used for inspiration.    At this point I was thinking we would be in teams and sketch amongst the sculptures, maybe a la Project Runway when they go to a park/museum/natural setting and sketch.    I was totally wrong.  We were going to cast our hands.

The idea was to hold something small in our hands and then leave it in the mold so that the resulting cast would be holding it,  but I didn't trust my object (a plumeria hair clip from Hawaii) to hold up to the treatment.  I didn't trust my ring either, so I took it off and put it on my other hand.  Knowing what I know now, I wish I had left my ring on!

They gave us green aprons, a bucket, and name tags for our buckets.  First we mixed the material for the mold in a little bucket in an up-and-down motion; we were told this is the same material dentists use to make molds of teeth. Then we plunged our hands into the bucket; whatever gesture you made with your hand, you had to hold the gesture for 3 minutes while the mold set, like I'm doing above.
After 3 minutes, and making sure the material felt firm from the top, you then wiggled your fingers a bit.  I could feel the material separating from my skin, and then I was able to pull my hand out.  Above is the aerial view of the bucket after removing my hand.

We then mixed, er, maybe it was plaster of paris?  with water, kind of like mixing cake batter...mix round and round til it's totally smooth while not introducing a lot of air bubbles.

Poured that mixture into the bucket and tamped the bucket several times to get the cake batter to really fill up the mold.

Then we went for our tour of the grounds and when we came back, we extracted our cast from the mold.
On the left of the picture you can see some of the material that I cut away using a razor. It felt very spongey and quite cold.  And then there was the cast of my hand!  I am making the "shaka" sign, aka "hang loose" in Hawaii.  I couldn't get the full wingspan I normally get on the shaka because the bucket wasn't wide enough for that.  But you can see the detail of my hand pretty well, the lines in my fingers, though it looks like I have a wart, which I don't--I will see if I can sandpaper that off. I should have taken a picture from the other side too, but it's currently on my desk at work and I am at home.  Next week I'll take a picture from the other side and post it here.

I would love love love to do this activity again, to try posing my hand in different positions.  One of my coworkers had the "thumbs up", another held her hand like a claw so she could use it as a ring holder, and I think it would be pretty neat to do the "OK" sign.  I would also let my hand be in a more natural state and cast it.   I googled it and there are plenty of kits online; maybe an activity for my vacation week?

I have been sewing!  Sneak peek of upcoming posts...I currently have gingham fever.
20150703_172356 \
Lots and lots of gingham fever...

So, have you ever cast your hand?  If yes, what gesture did you make?
Do you have gingham fever too??

Be well!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

McCall's 6256: NYC subway zipper pouch, again

I wanted to give a special gift to Gina, one of my #mmmay15 work photographers.  I felt she had gone "above and beyond" and is leaving to move on to other things.  I rarely sew for others but felt this gift was perfect for her as she has spent a lot of time in NYC.


I've made this zipper pouch before, in the large and small sizes, laminated and non-laminated, and even in non-NYC fabric.  For this version, I chose the small, non-laminated size.  You can see all my posts referencing the various versions of this zipper pouch here.

I am still on the fence about the best way to fussy cut the front.  The word "Manhattan" is not centered over the orange and blue subway lines.    This time I centered the front over the subway lines but then Manhattan is off center.  Previously I have centered it over Manhattan but then the subway lines are off center.    I'm on the fence about which version is better.  Definitely a first world sewing problem.

This time I added a grosgrain ribbon to the zipper tab.  I think velosewer did that with hers.  It's a nice touch.
I used a 9" metal YKK zipper from SIL Thread in NYC.
I also used wonder tape for temporarily attaching the zipper tabs before stitching them down.
The zipper tabs were fussy cut featuring the two main ways I have gotten into the city...the bus (above) and the train (below).

Other versions were lined in green denim; this version was lined in pink duck cloth.

I also used Fashion Sewing Supply sew-in medium weight interfacing in between the layers.  FSS medium weight fusible interfacing is fused to the outer layer too.  The duck cloth and all that interfacing makes the bag quite sturdy and it stands up on its own.

I added the "Party" label.  I am running out of labels with fun words on them but I have ordered some of my own custom labels which should arrive soon.

Gina loved it and let out a little silent scream when she opened her present. I forgot to tell her that she can tuck the tabs in if she prefers.

You've seen me use this fabric for interior zipper pockets on tote bags and backpacks. I'm thinking of making a full-on tote bag using this fabric.  It seems like it would be fun.  Guess that means I better order more from The City Quilter as this fabric has I am running out of it.  Cotton version is here.   Laminate version is here.

Black-eyed susans at the PFM are back, yay!

Be well!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Simplicity 1283: Modified Chevron MimiG Shirt

S1283 top + NL6843 skirt
Thanks to everyone for your comments on my last post about the Ups and Downs of Chevrons.  I enjoyed them all and replied to each one.  I especially loved Kossiwa's idea about trying out a sample on paper or with scraps--usually I make samples of everything first but this time I just dived right in, like any enthusiastic beginner!
S1283 top + NL6843 skirt
Front view

Side view

s1283 top and pants
Here it is with the pants from the same pattern.  I love these pants and wear them SO much!

s1283 top and pants
Back with the pants
Back with the skirt
S1283 top + pants
With my gray Jalie shrug
My favorite pic of this outfit, even if it's not hanging straight at the bottom of the shirt.
Inside out

Changes I made:
  1. Sleeveless and collarless
  2. Cut the armholes inward for a less boxy armhole shape
  3. Bound the arm and neckholes with strips of black ITY fabric. Originally I was going to bind with the black on the outside, but it was not turning out how I wanted to so I folded it over the binding to the inside and stitched down.
  4. Lengthened the shirt by a few inches
  5. cut the front straight across instead of  with a curve
  6. Serged the raw edge of the hem and used a twin double needle to finish.
  7. Also I think I cut the 16 to begin with and then wound up at probably a 14 or maybe even a 12 with the side seams.
  8. No zipper, though it is a bit challenging to get it on and off.
I would like to make the shirt again, as intended, with a collar and sleeves, but probably not in a stripe.  I have some textured fabric from Kashi that might be fun for experimentation.  The collar definitely needs a stable fabric to look good, in my opinion.  I had a version of this with a collar but it was way too floppy and blah looking.

Thanks to Tomasa, Anna Christina and ATP for their input as I sewed up this shirt!
I leave you with flowers from the PFM.

Be well! 

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Ups and Downs of Chevrons


I had never chevroned, nor wanted to chevron, til I saw this pattern, Simplicity 1283:

Notice that the chevron is pointing DOWN on Mimi's shirt (foreshadowing).
How hard could it be?  (more foreshadowing)
Cut it on the bias, use the walking foot, and it'll be fine! (even more foreshadowing)

So how did THIS happen????

The chevron is pointing UP and I wanted it to be DOWN like it is on the pattern envelope.

Signal huge, heaving sigh.

Let's go to the line drawing.

Yes, the instructions are upside down, but it's easier to see the chevron with pattern piece #1 (the front of the top) with the directions turned this way.

Note the fold and the selvages.

If your fabric stripes are going horizontally across, from selvage to selvage, then look at what happens, above.  The chevrons will point UP.

Another way to state this is, regardless of fold/selvage, the chevron will be UP if the pattern grain line is perpendicular to the stripes.
If your fabric strips are vertical, from cut edge to cut edge, then the chevrons will be DOWN, as above.
Another way to state this is, regardless of fold/selvage, the chevron will be DOWN if the pattern grain line is parallel to the stripes.

So I had to cut it out again (with very limited fabric remaining) to get the chevrons to be DOWN:

To wrap my head around it, I drew on my traced pattern piece:
S1283 top
The black lines  on the edge are when the pattern grain line (that diagonal line in the middle) is perpendicular to the stripes.

The red lines  on the edge are when the pattern grain line is parallel.

(The dotted red line is the pattern grain line).
S1283 top

I generally cut single layer anyway, but with stripes, it's a must. Do you see the camoflauged piece??

I wound up having to cut it out a total of three times:
1.  First time chevrons up.
2.  Second time, chevrons down, but then I decided to cut the armhole in (as a sleeveless, because I was fearing too many stripes and also running out of fabric).  However, when I did that, it was cut in too low and deep on the front.  (Signal another huge, heaving sigh).
3.  Third time, with not much fabric remaining, I got it right.  Chevrons down, armhole cut in, not too low or deep.
S1283 top

It's done!  More pix, and modelled,  tmw or later in the week!

Have you ever chevroned before?  If yes, how did it go???  Do you prefer your chevrons up or down?

Be well!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Conclusion of Me Made May 2015

Day 30: Peonies from the Princeton Farmers Market and a lined, cotton eyelet NL 6843 skirt.


  • Day 26:  The dress I wear when I need to look nice
  • Most days:  I used my B6072 backpack.


  • Love that NL 6922 dress--need to make more. 
  • Another rusty object
  • Bonus Day 26 at the gym, tank.


  • Day 29: Love this top and skirt combo; never wore them together before but love!
  • Day 31:  I should wear that skirt more often.
  • It was a fun month with no me-made repeats. 
  • I made new friends through Twitter.  
  • @SewSimplicity rocks on twitter--they love to favorite and retweet, and I was even their #SimplicityTweetoftheDay a few times!  I love the enthusiasm and interaction with pattern companies.
  • I enjoyed finding new sculptures on campus for backdrops.
  • I rediscovered some outfits, found some new combinations and want to sew up some of the dresses again.
Thank you to all my photographers the entire month:  Ellen, Sara, Diane, Paula, Tomasa, and especially to The Other Ellen and Gina who took the majority of photos for the month!  Gold stars to you all!

Be well!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The middle of Me-Made-May 2015 #mmmay15

Now that we're approaching the end of May, I figured I better get my act together and post my pix for days 13-25 of Me-Made-May 2015 before they pile up too much.
New Look dresses....
  • I don't think that brown dress is so pointy in real life--it was sooooo windy that day....that was the best shot of the bunch and my photographer that day had to lend me her sunglasses to use as a headband to control the poof...
  • I love the purple with the scarf collar.
  • The gray dress with the points is not a favorite of mine--I don't like the skirt.  Am tempted to remove the skirt and make the front just straight without pleating.

Simplicity / New Look / And a PR pattern

  • Definitely want to make more of those pants and maybe the top again too
  • Love that skirt--you can't see the crosshatch pattern but I just love it
  • Love the turquoise New Look dress--I made it in three colors that summer--will wear one of the other colors again soon.

Three pix for one outfit

  • It was really cold suddenly last Thursday.  Perfect day to wear my quilted panel dress and my corduroy jacket.  That quilted dress is like wearing armor.

Vogue and McCalls dresses  (and my fabric stash in the middle) + Jalie shrugs

  • You would laugh if you could see the rest of that sculpture
  • There's most of my fabric stash!
  • Love that teal dress and shrug
  • I've worn that gray shrug almost every day since I've made it.  or, at least it feels that way.

Gym bonuses

  • I really love the day 18 top and skirt combo.  I really want to make a dress out of that stretch lace.
  • Day 20 tank:  the underlayer needs to be stretchier so that it is smoother
  • Definitely want to make more of each skort, though I would put the dark color on the sides next time instead of the lighter color.
How's it going with your Me-Made-May?  Are you suffering from photo fatigue yet?  Just 6 more days to go (including today!)

Be well!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Back in the saddle: Jalie 3246 in teal sweater knit

I finally sewed again on May 17.  The last time I sewed was on April 21, so it was great to be back at the machine again!!

It was mid-80's this past Sunday and steamy in my sewing room, so why not sew up a sweater knit shrug?

I knew it was going to cool down this week, and ever since I made the Vogue 1351 dress last fall I wanted a matching cardigan / shrug / sweater.
After loving Jalie 3246, and wearing it almost every day, I decided it was a great way to get back in the saddle again.

It's perfect for when you need to add sleeves to an outfit
"Just add sleeves!"
Sleeves completely down

This time I added a ribbon so I can hang the shrug in my gym locker...and also to serve as a second visual cue to wear it right side up! (Yes, the collar is much wider than the back band, but I have worn the gray one upside down, uhmmmmmm....)

Dressform pix:


The only thing I forgot to mention the last time I sewed this up is that it was the first Jalie pattern I traced where the lines were in color!
That's the shawl collar piece above.  The color coding made a BIG difference as far as ease of tracing.  Thanks Jalie for that HUGE improvement!

There's a three day weekend coming up for those of us in the US, and I plan to hit the sewing machine about you, wherever you are?

Be well!!!!