Saturday, December 10, 2011

Getting Back in the Swing of Things

Well I'm four weeks post-op and my knee is finallly starting to feel better. Physical therapy is helping but it's very hard work. In another four weeks I'll probably be fully mobile and have my strength back. I can't sit for extended periods because it's bad to have my leg bent for long periods and it's uncomfortable.

I'm easing back into sewing. I started by sewing three pairs of panties this week. It felt good to get back to my favorite thing.

I just need to pop these in the wash so that the elastic will draw in. Every time I sew a knit dress, I immediately cut as many pairs of panties out as possible out of the scraps. I use one pin to keep pieces together and then I drop them into a Sterilite container that I've reserved. When it's time to sew, half of the work is already done.  After all, you can never have too many undergarments. Can you??

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What day is today?

  • I'm losing track of what day it is.
  • Friday will be three weeks since my knee surgery.
  • I haven't had on makeup or decent clothes in as long.
  • It's getting better but I am so over feeling like my knee is in a vise.
  • I think the pharmacists, the doctors and too many other people are a little too concerned that I might get addicted to painkillers.
  • After all I did just have major surgery!
  • Don't they know that I'll never get addicted to anything that takes away from my sewing addiction?
  • I'm just saying.
  • I'm starting to want to sew but it's still a little to uncomfortable to sit with my leg under my sewing table.
  • Not only that, I'm not supposed to be in a sitting position too long.
  • TV Evangelist Pat Robertson has to be on crack.
  • He doesn't know what "mac & cheese" is?
  • You old fart you know what it is and it's not a "black thing."
  • If you really don't know what it is, it's time to pass the reigns to someone else.
  • FYI black folks call it "macaroni & cheese" so you tell me where "mac & cheese" came from?
  • Don't get mad. Somebody needed to say it.
  • Note to self--sewing this weekend!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thursday Thoughts 11/17/11

If you are squeamish at all, don't continue reading. This picture was taken earlier in the Fall.
  • One week post-op!
  • Knee, leg, thigh all hurts like hell.
  • Maybe I didn't have replacement surgery after all.
  • I think my leg got run over by a truck!
  • I used to think I was Superwoman.
  • I now know better.
  • If my sewing machine wasn't in the shop and I wasn't on bloodthinners...I still wouldn't be sewing.
  • Who wouldv'e thunk walking up or down 9 stairs would be such a chore?
  • The only thing I really want to get out of bed for is physical therapy and bathroom activities.
  • Sometimes you really do just need to do nothing.
  • I'm rather enjoying it.
  • I could enjoy it more without the pain!
I'll leave you all with a few pictures of my've been warned!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'm home!

I was released from the hospital Sunday. It should have been great day but Saturday night my mom tripped in the garage and had to spend several hours in the ER at the same hospital I was in. She wound up chipping four teeth and breaking one rib. Add to that the pharmacy wouldn't fill my prescription for pain medication and the surgery totally brought back my maralgiaparasthetica symptoms. Tonight I'll dig out my TENS equipment to help me manage the pain.
I can't do any sewing or paper crafting because I'm on blood thinners for nine more days and can't risk cutting myself.

Physical therapy has been going really well. They say I have a high pain tolerance. Really? Quite a bit of swelling has gone down now and I can barely move my knee at all! So much for pain tolerance.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thursday Thoughts 11/10/11

  • Tomorrow is my knee surgery...wish me luck!
  • Mammogram came back no cancer. Yea.
  • Problem is that the saroma is back.
  • WTH
  • Didn't I have surgery in March to combat that?
  • Whatever.
  • I always say don't stress over the things you have no control over.
  • I love Burn Notice.
  • WTH
  • The Duggars are expecting their 20th child.
  • I'm surprised it doesn't just fall right out.
  • What is holding in?
  • You know what I mean.
  • I took my machine in to have it serviced since I won't be doing any sewing for a while.
  • Although they know I bought it there, they won't service it under the warranty because I didn't have my receipt with me.
  • That's a bunch of crap.
  • Got home and couldn't find the receipt.
  • I found the receipt for two machines I bought in the early '80s but not for the one I bought last year.
  • Oh hell.
  • I'll keep you all posted.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fight Like A Girl

I'm sure my postings are going to become sporadic for a while, but I'll still be around. I've been spending so much time on my papercrafting blog, I'm Black Martha, I'm neglecting this one.
This month is Breast Cancer Awareness month. As you all know I am a 2 year survivor. My cancer is in remission or at least I think it is. More on that later. Every time I see or hear "Fight like a girl," I cringe. To me "fighting like a girl" evokes visions of scratching, biting, kicking, and hair pulling. Frankly I find it insulting and belittling. What I'd rather see is "Fight like Ali" or "Fight like Mayweather" or "Fight like ________," Frazier, Holmes, Thomas"Hitman" Hearns, Evander Holyfield, or even the ear-biting, tatooed face, Mike Tyson. Any of the great's name could be placed in the blank. Can you tell I'm a boxing fan? I want cancer to be fought with some ass-kicking, punch-throwing, raw power. I'm talking rope-a-doping, butterfly-floating, and bee-stinging all against breast cancer. Fight like a girl just doesn't work for me. I just had to get that off my chest.

Is my cancer in remisson? Right now I'm not sure. I finally talked the orthopedic surgeon into doing my knee replacement surgery although he would still like mr to try and wait 6 years! WTF. Is he crazy? I'm already bone-to-bone on one knee with only a sliver of cartilege left on the other. So the surgery is scheduled for November 11th. The problem is that I have to get the okay from my PCP to have the surgery done. Lately I've had lots of disccomfort in my right breast and I just feel like something is wrong. Although their are no symptoms associated with BC, I am having all the same issues I had when my cancer was first diagnosed. I've been talking to my husband about it and he says I'm justing coming down with a cold. I hope he's right. The only other thing could be that I'm having the same fluid buildup that I've had in the past. I can only hope. For now I'll just have to sit and wait and hope that the phone doesn't ring with the dreaded news.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Simplicity 2284 in Fleece

I finally finished this jacket. I've had the fleece since last season but couldn't settle on what to do with it. I'm really loving Cheetah print these days and decided to try to do something with the fleece that wouldn't be so casual. I think the very nature of fleece tends to make it casual.

I've sewn Simplicity 2284 before and decided it would be a good choice because of the princess seams. I pressed the princess open and topstitched on both sides of the seam. The only other changes I made were to eliminate the center back seam and to eliminate the facings and lining. I bound the edges with a braided binding that I found at Haberman Fabrics in Royal Oak MI...62 miles away.

The only problem was that I only bought three yards. Surely three yards would be enough to bind the entire jacket and sleeve. What was I drinking.  I was about a foot short on the binding. Luckily my husband was working well south of Haberman's and was able to take a small detour and pick some more up. Whatta man. Next up is a LBD out of Simplicity 2648. I have to have something to wear with it...don't I.

Friday, October 14, 2011

What I'm working on

I'm still working on the fleece animal print jacket. I should have been finished but I needed foldover binding. I broke down and drove 62 miles to Haberman Fabrics in Royal Oak, Michigan to spend $6 for what I needed. And "no", that is not all I got. I couldn't possible drive all that way and not pick up a few extra things. I bought a few bra-making supplies but that was it.

Can you believe this picture? That is an entire sheet of Bounty paper towel covered in my blood. I was serging the sleeve seam on my fleece jacket. What happened next happened so fast all I know is my Kai thread snips slid off my sewing table and before they made contact with the floor, they made contact with my leg. It's looked like I was bleeding to death. The entire lower outside of my ankle and foot were covered in blood. I was bleeding all over the floor and the first thing I grabbed was that paper towel. It was laying on the top of the trash so I hope I don't wide up with the "heebee geebees." Talk about a freak acciden!. The cut only looks to be about 1/8" long but boy did it scare me. It took a few minutes for me to realize I needed to elevate my leg to help stop the bleeding.

I'm sure you all know this is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Make sure you are doing monthly self-exams and if you haven't already, call and schedule your yearly mammogram. I won't be able to participate in any of the Breast Cancer walks this year (bum knee) but I'm still doing my part. I'm making cards to give to a local women's clinic. If you'd like to see some of what I've been up to lately, visit my card blog at I'm Black Martha.

'Til next time!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I'm still here

I can't believe I haven't blogged in over a week. I haven't done a lot of sewing but some. I'm currently working on a  Simplicity jacket pattern that I'm making out of fleece. I need to find the perfect binding to be able to finish it.

I had a failed attempt at another bra using a different pattern. My technique wasn't the problem...the fit was. I've learned that there is no standard for bra patterns. Each designer decides what size to call them just like in RTW garments. I made the mistake of trying a different pattern and it was a disaster. I hate that you really don't know whether the bra will fit or not until you are finished. Part of the problem is I'm not trusting my own instincts because bra-making is so new to me. Yes, the cups looked too large before I started but I didn't trust myself enough to try a smaller size. I know that if you have the greatest stretch going vertical and put something heavy in it, it will stretch more. Again, a trust issue. I'm going to keep at it because the two bras that I've made since the workshop are the most comfortable I've ever worn. BTW did you know that the average bra size is now 36DD? That's right.

I'm on my laptop because once again my desktop is in for repair--yep, another nasty virus. I love my laptop for laying in bed and goofing around on the internet but when I need to be productive, I want my desktop. I had to go to the bank yesterday and frankly I didn't even know how to conduct my transaction. I've always handled my bills online!

While doing laundry Wednesday morning around 4 a.m., I heard what I thought was someone breaking into the house. Picture me running into the laundry room with morning breath, sans wig, makeup, shoes and wearing ratty old pj's, wielding a 9 mm, shouting freeze mutha*#@*%* to the washer and dryer! Is that funny or what?? Called my husband at work to inform him that I would be going against his wishes and getting a new washer and dryer and a cooktop and if he didn't like it he could get the "F" out. I didn't say the word...I actually said "F." It seems he knew the shell of the washing machine had broken away from the frame. He knew but failed to tell me. The darn thing is a relic from about 15 years ago and I don't know why he was trying to hang onto it. Needless to say, my new appliances are being delivered today!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Vogue 1220

Pattern Description:
Loose-fitting, mid-knee length dress has shawl pleated collar, partial waistline seam, pleats, side slant pockets, princess seams in bodice back, back darts, short sleeves turn back cuffs, stitched hem facing, right fly front button closure and tie belt.
Pattern Sizing:
8-22. I cut a 16 through the neck and shoulders gradually out to size 20 at the hips.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
I think it does. Do you?

Were the instructions easy to follow?
The instructions were pretty good but steps 12-14 totally confused me. I made it work but thank goodness I my belt covered it up.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I didn't have any dislikes with the style. I love the pockets and the shawl collar.
Fabric Used:
I think it's a stretch twill
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I'm not sure I needed to but I didn't want to use the design ease in lieu of an FBA so I made a 1" FBA. Doing so was quite tricky.
I cut the pattern apart at the underarm mark to add a sideseam and a dart. I divided the dart between the sideseam and the collar and making four pleats instead of three. Then added an extra pleat to the waist making three instead of two.

I also made a 3/4" wide back adjustment.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I'd love to sew this again in denim.

All-in-all this dress went together quite easily and any issues I had were operator error!
BTW the dress looks a little rumpled because these pictures were taken after a long day at work!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cheetah on the prowl

Finally. Pictures of Vogue 8685. I only had 1 yard of the ITY cheetah print and wanted to save it for just the right project. Was this the right project or what? The black is Ponte from JoAnns. I thought I might need a cheetah print purse to pull off this look but actually, I think this bag makes the outfit really pop.

Initally I underlined the bodice only, as I thought the weight of the skirt would necessitiate it. Wrong. The skirt needed it to. Having already attached the unlined skirt to the bodice, I laid the midriff, yoke and skirt pieced together and cut out a lining. Then I slip stitched the lining to the bodice/midriff seam. Next I stitched over the previous top stitching and voila`.

I didn't have enough of the nude colored lining; I had to settle for the off white. I like the lining because it gives the dress a more covered feel. In a dress as form-fitting as this one, it is easy to feel as if all of your imperfections will be seen. The husband absolutely loves this dress and I think with a black cardigan, this  could be a year-round dress.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A few bra photos

I'm sure you thought you were going to see me sans such luck. I didn't want anybody to go blind. Here's a few photos of my finished bra on a mannequin.

BTW these are the pictures of the bra I drafted!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bra success

My bra saga is over. Just as I thought, I was able to draft a pattern from the two patterns that didn't work. It fits perfectly. I also realized the instructions are missing some very important tips! I'm glad I made one so soon after the workshop because everything was still so fresh in my mind. I was able recall and record most of  what was left out of the instructions. I'm already working on a fourth bra! I don't necessarily need more clothes but you can never have too many bras.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My bra saga continues

Anne did indeed draft another bra pattern for me but I'm wondering if the redraft was some cruel joke or what. The redraft is not too small, but rather a single cup will fit on my head like a beanie. Now, I am beyond pissed off. I wasted more of my precious time and supplies. I am really wondering if she actually knows how to "custom-fit" a bra. Can I be the only one this has happened to or are my expectations too high or my fit too complicated? If I'd been fitting people for and sewing bras for 25 years, I'd hope there wouldn't be a challenge I couldn't conquer. I guess this time I made my seam allowances too narrow? WTF!!

When my neighbor dropped the pattern off she commented that her bra didn't fit as well as she expected and that she would work on tweaking the pattern. I'm sorry, for $175 I expected my bra to be a near perfect fit the first time around. It's not as if you can salvage or alter an ill-fitting bra. This experience has totally soured me on hands-on classes. There was a little too much emphasis on "it's in my book" ($30 extra) and too much time spent with students that did not have enough sewing experience to even be attempting to make something as complicated as a bra. I'd say that less than half of the class finished even though we ran over by an hour and a half.

One good thing has come from this experience. I now have a bra pattern that is too small and one that is too large. I'd say I'm knowledgeable enough to be able to draft a nearly perfect fitting bra pattern from the two.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Lend me your ear. What do you think?

I spent the last two days in hands-on classes at the American Sewing Expo. The first was a Designer Jeans class with Angela Wolf while the second was a bra-making class with Anne St Clair. This post is about the bra-making class. The class cost $98 and the supply kit was $75. I was required to send in my ribcage measurement, full and upper bust measurements as well as requiring an in-person fitting the day before complete with bras to try on in the size she chose. Sewing machines were provided. There were about 40 students w/varying degrees of sewing experience and three instructors. I think each student was given a bra pattern based on the shape of their breast.  We were each given a "custom-fitted" bra pattern. The emphasis is on "custom-fitted."
Initially we were guided through the beginning stages of bra construction from layout, cutting, and width of seam allowances to actual sewing. We were expected to wait for the go ahead to the next step. At times there was quite a bit of waiting and later I abandoned "getting the okay" and followed the pattern instructions. When I finally tried my bra on to adjust the straps, they don't have "hardware" because it's "custom-fitted," to my dismay, it didn't fit. It was too small! The bra cups were about one size too small! WTF??? My $200 "custom-fit" bra was too small. I didn't measure myself, or "custom-fit" my own bra. Anne did. Her response was that it fit better than the one I had worn in and that my seams were not 1/4" but 3/8" instead. Oh I see, it's my fault the bra doesn't fit! I've been sewing for about 44 years and I know the difference between 1/4 and 3/8. If each seam has to be an exact 1/4 with no variation, none of the bras should fit anyone sewing them! The center front of mine was about two fingers away from my body. "Custom-fit" my ass. In her defense, she did offer to redraft my pattern. I think it's the least she could do.
It was my intention to make another bra as soon as I got home while the construction was still fresh in my mind. Couldn't do that. I had a bra that made me look like I had two pairs of breasts and wouldn't be wearing under any circumstances. Janet Grimsbey her assistant said she too thought I needed a larger cut size. Ann suggested I wear my ill-fitting bra on weekends or donate it to a women's shelter! Other than being steaming mad at Anne's accusing the poor fit to my seam allowances, I was also out of the supplies for one bra. She just didn't get it. I didn't think what I was asking for was unreasonable. I spent my entire day working on a "custom-fitted" bra that didn't fit and I'd used part of my supplies in doing so. After a rather heated exchange Anne begrudgely gave me another bra kit but while trying to find one she stomped and threw things around in a very child-like manner. I was disappointed to say the least. The situation should have been handled totally differently with her taking the blame for the faulty pattern drafting and offering replacement supplies.
I still don't have my redrafted pattern but a neighbor that was in the class offered to pick it up and deliver it to me later today. I hope it works this time. I did learn how to construct a bra so the class was not a total failure but it might be if the replacement pattern doesn't fit either. My advice to anyone that take a bra making class from Anne, or anyone else for that matter, make sure that you sew your bra to the "try-on" stage before leaving the class. Otherwise, you make be stuck with a bra that doesn't fit and that you don't know how to adjust.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Dior Dress

This is my latest version, version #4, of Vogue 1179. I call it the Dior Dress because when I look at the fabric I see D's, I's and O's. I order the fabric from a couple of months ago. The only changes I made were to shorten it one inch. Because I cut the fabric on the crosswise grain, it hung a little longer than I liked so I removed the hem and shortened it one ince. I did keep the same 4" hem as directed by the instructions. My husband likes it but wondered why I was still sewing summer garments. I told him it was a transition piece! I was too lazy to get dress to take photos but they are forthcoming!

I've nearly finished with Vogue 1220. Hopefully I'll review it before the week is out.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Thursday Thoughts 9/15/2011

I know it's really Friday morning but this is my blog and I can do what I want! LOL
  • I've been 54 for 30 days.
  • I've been on a sewing terror this week!
  • I finished Vogue 8685.
  • Started and finished another version of Vogue 1179.
  • Made alterations to Vogue 1260.
  • Cut V1260 out in a Mocha-colored stretch Twill
  • I seem to be stuck on Vogue patterns.
  • I stayed in my sewing room so long on Tuesday I felt like I was working in a sweat shop!
  • My back is still hurting.
  • Bowling season has started.
  • Yes, I'm bowling--two leagues.
  • Yes, it's hurting my knee.
  • No, I don't think I can make it through the entire season.
  • Yes, I hope I can have the knee replacement at the beginning of 2012.
  • Movies and books about climbing Mt. Everest fascinate me.
  • I just finished reading the Help.
  • Loved it! (singing)
  • Right now I'm laying in bed with my laptop on my lap watching Soul Men with Samuel Jackson and the late Bernie Mac.
  • It's hee-larious!
  • Might be funnier if they weren't bleeping out all the curse words!
  • Guess I don't need to be hearing that kind of language anyway.
So what's going on in your neck of the woods?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I should be finished but...

I'd like to thank all of my followers and especially those that leave comments. I appreciate you and don't think I thank you all often enough.
I'm still working on Vogue 8685. I should be finished but now that the side seams are sewn, I've decided it probably needs a lining. Gosh I can be so flighty sometimes. I decided to underline the bodice (ITY knit) because the it is lighter weight than the skirt (ponte).

After I tried it on I decide that I probably should line the skirt too. On the one hand I might not to have a control garment if I lined it but on the other hand it might be quite warm in warmer weather. Hmmm. What do you think?

Like the previous version I omitted the zipper as it's easy to get on and off without one. It's coming out just as envisioned and if I must say so myself I do look HOT in it. How do I know? The husband was giving me goo-goo eyes when I tried it on. He wasn't feeling it at all when I had it pinned to my dressform. He doesn't quite have the vision he thinks he does.

When paired with these shoes...WOW! My husband says these are stripper shoes but agreed that they look great with the dress. Hey strippers need love too! I'm flattered that he thinks I look good enough to be a stripper. LOL. I just have to make sure to stay off my feet the day before I wear them so that they don't bother my knee. Gotta go now and figure out how to go about inserting the lining.

Y'all come back now...ya hear!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

What I'm working on

I'm working on another version of Vogue 8685. I only had about one yard of this animal print fabric and was waiting for the right project. I have shoes that match! This is what I have so far. Stay tuned for the finale.