Join me in my adventures as I write romance novels and sew vintage and contemporary fashion.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

McCalls 6557

The Writing
The writing is catching up with me. I have three chapters of my next book due on Friday and I'm still working  on revisions to the book I finished this spring. However, I do have a title for that book--Cowgirl in High Heels. I love it! I think the cover will be really fun. Anyway, sewing is slowing down because the writing is heating up. After the 27th of May, I can really cut loose on the old Kenmore.

The Sewing

Since the sewing is on hiatus and I'm still shortening my orange coat, I'm posting one of the dresses I made last spring--McCalls 6557. I liked the dress so much I made it twice. The first time I copied the cover look from the pattern, making it out of black and white polka dot cotton with a red crepe waistband--only my dots are much larger. I've never learned to look at that little scale ruler on the fabric photos when I order on line. Good thing I like large dots.

The second dress is shorter and I made it out of a lovely green and turquoise sheer fabric that is really tough. It doesn't snag or run. I lined it with turquoise cotton and whenever I wear it, people stop me to comment. The colors are happy colors.

The Art Shots
This blog post actually came about because I ordered a crinoline and my husband took some artsy shots of it with the polka dot dress. So here it is, in color and black and white.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sewing and Writing Off the Grid

My husband and I live off the grid, meaning that we generate our own power. We're only two miles from the nearest power lines, but the cost of bringing electricity in is a cool $500,000. That will buy a lot of generators. My house is modern in every way, except for that continual power thing.

We've lived this way for twenty years and soon I hope to (finally) invest in solar. In the meantime, we turn the generator on first thing in the morning, run it until around noon, then turn it off for a few hours. We turn it back on again around 4 pm and run it until 9 or 10. When we go to bed, the power goes off. There are benefits to this way of life. When the power is off, a peaceful silence settles over the house. I read a lot more. My kids grew up reading and playing in the creek. Everyone in the family is quite talented at getting around in the dark.

The biggest adjustment for me when we moved to this place was not
being able to sew whenever I wanted. I have to schedule it for when the power is on. I also have to schedule laundry, hair drying, baking, ironing, vacuuming (I rarely schedule that), etc, so the power hours can be jam packed—especially since it’s the only time I can watch TV. That means something has to go by the wayside if I want to sew. Usually it’s housework.

When the power is off, I cut out patterns, sew by hand and plan my next projects—writing and sewing. I also write, thanks to a laptop with a multi-hour battery. When the power is on, I sew and recharge both my brain and the computer battery, so that I can write some more when the power goes off.

Living off the grid isn’t for sissies. Generators break down. They need servicing. They develop mystery problems.  Once it was so cold I had to jump  start my house using our truck and jumper cables. I'm afraid of jumper cables, so this was a trial.  Also, I want to sew whenever I get the urge--a seam here, a dart there--but I can’t. When I feel like whining, though, I think of the women who sewed for centuries without benefit of electricity or a sewing machine.

This story has a happy ending, though. My son recently bought me the most beautiful treadle sewing machine. I haven’t used it yet—I’m waiting for summer break and a slightly less jam-packed schedule—but I can’t wait to be able to sew whenever I want. Who needs zigzag?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Pantone Contest Shift

The Sewing

I finished my Pantone Color Contest entry two days early! Unheard of--just ask my editor. I did that so that I had time to figure out how to review the patterns and make an entry in the contest, which is held at Sewing Pattern Review. I figured it out and this is my entry photo. Upon seeing it, my first thought was Yowza--I have to shorten that coat. It never occurred to me that I might have to shorted a 1966 pattern until I saw it with the shift. So...I'll be shortening the coat before I post its photos.

On to the shift. I decided to use McCalls 5799, the lines of which
complimented the style of the coat. I found a pale yellow crepe at Jo-Ann's to underline the sheer lemon chiffon I bought at Britex. I so love this chiffon. It's not nearly as pretty in the photos as it is in person.

I was afraid that sewing sheer fabric was going to be a nightmare, but it wasn't. I referenced the November 2006 Threads Magazine 127 (on sale here for only $3.50) and followed the techniques for seaming and hemming a sheer fabric.

To cut the fabric I placed a layer of tissue paper on the floor and laid out the fabric as a single layer. The tissue paper kept the fabric from shifting as I cut one pattern piece at a time, matching the design. I like the way the waves match up the back seams.

To make the seams, I sewed once along the seam line and then again 1/8 inch away, trimming close to the second stitching.

To hem, I sewed 1/8 inch from the raw edge, then turned it twice and stitched. Both finishes came out well.
I understitched all the edges to keep the lining from rolling out and showing.

I didn't want to mess with a zipper in chiffon/crepe for fear of waves, so I simply sewed the back center seam up to within 6 5/8 inches of the neckline and then added a button and loop closure. I'm pleased to say that I actually tried on the shift before lining it and yes, I could get into it with only a 6 inch opening. So glad I didn't pull my usual stunt of finishing the garment and then discovering the opening is too small.
And finally, I didn't line the shift in the usual way, with wrong sides of the fabrics together. The seams of the lining would have shown through, so I put the wrong side of the chiffon against the right side of the lining and finished all the lining seams with chiffon fabric to clean up the inside a bit.
And that's the end of this shifty business.