Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Christmas in July?!

Every year I decide that I'm going to start Christmas earlier and earlier to meet the demands of my family, despite my views on the whole thing. Well this year I started two weeks ago. Ornaments are well underway on my embroidery machine, embroidered gift bags are being sewn together, and garlands and lace are tossed out on the floor. It’s a bit of a mess down here; I've been forced to keep most of the mess contained to my bedroom due to the bathroom being gutted. I probably have close to 100 meters of organza in a laundry basket for these ornaments, it squishes nice and you really wouldn’t' believe its 100 meters. Its enough to do 1000 big ornaments, I'm giving sets of 15 to friends, family and co-workers, and there’s enough left over afterwards to sell. Things will slow down this week as I figure out my agenda and how long certain things take to make, and I'm running out of WSS.

For Christmas, for the bulk of the gifts they're getting, 15 ornaments, a jar of home made vanilla (to be started in mid august), and some folding reusable shopping bags; most places here are charging for bags.

On top of this are the gifts for my immediate family and friends. My sister is getting her wolf quilt, my boyfriend is getting some dress shirts, and my best friend, hopefully is getting her NBC quilt. I'm not to sure on what to do for my parents yet.

I'm glad I'm starting now as I’ve also got two small crib quilts for my cousin’s baby and a bunch of receiving blankets for her. It gets rid of a bunch of flannel just hanging around from years ago that I bought just because they were cute.

I'm trying to sew/paint for 5-8 hours a day where permitted (work has some funny shifts), as it’s the only way to get stuff done, and with deadlines approaching, I have to get more motivated than I have been. I've brought home over 200 meters of bargain centre fabric from work in the past two weeks, most of it organza’s for my ornaments (organza is so useless to me during the rest of the year I never keep it around), a bunch of brushed twill for winter pants, tonnes of taffeta for bag linings, some cotton voiles for dresses, nice stripped shirting for boyfriend’s shirts, wool coatings, and a bunch of drapey materials for skirts. All of it just being tossed into the bargain centre because of inventory. I love it, great materials at an insane price.

I'm STILL working on my portfolio, I have about 6 weeks-8 weeks to get it finished, then physically drive it in to Calgary for review. Deadline is October 1st. My goal is to get a bunch of this Christmas stuff done this week, cleaned up enough or organized to be pulled back out at a later date, and then pull out all my paints once again. I can paint in my room while my embroidery machine is running; acrylics are less messy than pastels so it should all work out in the end.

Today I'm planning on finishing some quick skirts up from fabric I bought in the bargain centre this weekend. McCall’s patterns: 5431, 5056, 4783. I've made all of these patterns many times and they take about 1 to1.5 hours each. I'm also going to cut out McCall’s 6084, its a fast cardigan pattern, I might not get to it today, but Thursday for sure and Butterick4520, again its a fast pattern, but I’m opting for a satin type material so it will take about 2-2.5 hours. I'm also itching to cut out Simplicity 2774 in view E. I'm more confident with knits know and I think i can tackle this one. I won’t be able to touch this one until Friday morning however, but if it’s cut out I can just hit the machine first thing. I also cut out a vintage (early 70's) Simplicity knit dress. Next week my hours at work go back to normal and sewing up some very quick knit tops will be added to the list.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Vogue Dress 8489

Carbon copy from Pattern Review; will change later.

Pattern Description:
MISSES' DRESS: Mid-knee or mid-calf dress with fitted bodice, has self-faced neck band and midriff, sleeve variations and center back zipper. A: contrast neck band and midriff. D: contrast neck band, sleeve bands and midriff. I made view A.
Pattern Sizing: B5(8-10-12-14-16), GG(18-20-22-24) I cut a size 10 and sewed between the 8/10. Always cut the larger size and adjust from there.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes.
Were the instructions easy to follow? The instructions were relatively easy to follow, there are a few sections were it was easier to view the picture or disregard the instructions completely. These sections were in regards to the contrasting areas of the midriff and neckline.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? The zipper. It's a knit dress. As I mentioned there were a few chunks of the instructions I didn't like as well. If you are a busty person or have larger shoulders I would defiantly use the zipper, I did not, have no bust and am very petite. The dress slides over my head with no problems.
Fabric Used: A polyester blend jersey from Fabricland. The fabric was purchased after I bought some really 80's inspired shoes in teal and magenta. This leopard print in teal was MADE for those shoes.
Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: Omitted the zipper. Because the waistband and neckline ARE interfaced if you are anything over an A cup you may want to put the zipper in. Omitting the zipper made sewing the back a lot easier, less seams to play with.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I'm definitely sewing this dress again. It fits so well. Because of the zipper placement in the dress if I sewed a true size 10 instead of a hack between an 8/10 I might be able to get away with it in a chiffon or a matte jersey that has less or no stretch than the 4-way I used. Knowing me I'm stubborn enough to try it at least once.
Conclusion: I love this dress, it matches my shoes so well and it's a fun dress to wear to work or out for dinner. It's a modern dress with some flair. I'm making it again and very soon.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Embroidery, Updates, Mayhem and More

I have no word processor on this computer at the moment, so spelling and gramer mistakes will be rampent and things will be mostly point-form style again.

Somehow more fabric has been coming home with me lately. In the past few days I have totalled 60.85 metres of fabric, quilting cottons on extreme discounts and some canvas' for bags and totes. To date I have brought home 211.90 metres of fabric and none of it seems to be leaving the house. I've failed on my one resolution I beleive. I havent' been sewing too much, trying to get more artistic projects finished and into my portfolio. I am in dire need of work clothing and some nice summer dress' and skirts. After Sunday I get another 3 days to work on some projects and hopefully finish some.

I have a total of 11 embroidery designs stitched out and ready for bags, just need to finish putting them all together. Once finished I will be selling them to recoup some of my costs. Bags will cost about $30 CAD. I have a box of 112 colours coming from ontario's Designs by Sick to enhance my embroidering. I'm runing out of stitch patterns to use as i lack some pretty key colours.

I have come up with an idea that may help more with my portfolio. Aside from making embroidery designs I'm in serious need of more peices to include for entrance to ACAD. "Quilting art" if the first one works out may be the answer to a few of my troubles. For starters it uses up some of my exponentially growing stash. I swear the fabric breeds if left long enough. The problem though is the projects are large and often quite messy if I bust out the fabric dyes, stencils, paints, yarn and other embelishments. Solution: Pray for very very nice warm weather.

As for acutally painting, i have started a few but am not capable of leaving things out to dry or set due to the lack of space. At "Powerama" I took quite a few new shots of the cars and have been wanting to paint them but have had to look for other sourses of creativity to fill my portfolo. I do require a lot of traditional peices and can't keep this up. I need 12 more peices before October 1, 2010. Taking into account that I am required to physically drop my portfolio off it gives me 20 weeks to finish 12 peices. 1 Traditional is half way finished, a pastel painting. I still need some acutal acrylics and watercolours. 2 quilting art peices are planned, both lap quilt sized for sanity's sake. I have 1 solid entry with my AMCA logo design/stitch pattern. This still leaves me with 9 or 10 peices to compleate.

Aside from the 2 art quilts planned I have 3 traditional ones planned. Two baby quilts for my cousin in California and one for my sister. The quilt for my sister is cut out and ready to go and once finished (full queen sized) will eliminate 10-12 metres of fabric from my stash.

In other news i've lost my camera charger. I'm borrowing my fathers camera for now to keep taking photos of the designs i'm doing and the final products. I have no clue where it went to but I really do need to find it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Extra Time and Easily Side Tracked: a very brief update as to what’s being going on since December.

1. Working with the Juki, having a few troubles with the threading of the machine, twists, and poor button holes. Will be working with it over the next few weeks on simple projects and scrap to work out the kinks and bugs as well as practice. Sews through heavy denims, cords, canvas, tarping and more. Seems to have a few troubles with lighter weight materials such as quilting cottons.
2. Wardrobe completions: Working towards adding new clothing to my boring wardrobe, many new skirts especially Marfy will find their way into my closet. UFO’s are a major target and several items have been finished.
3. Working with Knits. Pulled out the old Babylock serger to work with knits during the Olympics. Still need practice but knits are no longer as scary as they once were, several knit tops and dresses are among the new wardrobe projects for summer.
4. Quilting: Have completed the top portion to a baby quilt started in December, it is the second quilt I have ever made and will soon be the first to free motion on either the Juki or Jenome. Two quilts are in the immediate future one for my sister which needs to be completed for May 15th, it is a full queen size, second is another UFO from 2 years ago for my nephew.
5. Embroidery projects: I have started designing my own embroidery. These take a great deal of time and are of great use to my ACAD portfolio. I plan on doing a lot of embroidery over the next few months and aim to try and squish in some supplemental income through small items like embroidered tote bags. I will post images of the first design digitized as well as the smaller projects associated with it.
6. Painting: I’ve acquired a vast number of “Pan Pastels” over the past few months and have prepped canvas ready for the acrylics, with the summer now here its time to go outside and paint. My room has been shifted around and may soon accommodate a drafting/drawing table so that the computer doesn’t get torn down every time I wish to use pastels or paint. I have over 60 gesso’d canvas’ and have been brushing up on my colour theory and watercolour techniques.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Janome 6600 and Juki HZL-F600

Many people have been asking how the Juki F600 (new kid on the block) compares to the Janome 6600 (established) in the way of sewing and features. Both are jammed packed with a number of features and over the course of a few weeks to months I will be putting both machines through their passes. I have owned the Janome 6600 since April of 2009 and have used it quite extensively. I have not however used any of the decorative stitches and for the purpose of this comparison will be.

I’ve noticed that many people are doing practice stitches on scrap fabrics which do give a great benchmark for how a machine functions, but practice stitches on scrap are not the purpose of these machines. They’re for quilting, garment making, home d├ęcor and many other projects people can think of. They’re designed to handle soft chiffons and silk as well as they do layers of denim and leather. So my goal in this comparison is to show you how they perform not only on scrap fabric but in practical applications. This is a multi week process, be patient. I have unlimited time now to sew since being laid off from work. So I will be making actual garments and quilts to emphasize how they function. I will be using fabric from chiffon to denim and weights in between. The aim is to break both down as much as possible to give those who are looking at either machine a comprehensive comparison.

First up is a comparison of the equipment and accessories that came with the machines. Both have a different set that comes with the machine and it may be necessary to purchase other feet. Standard feet included with the Juki HZL line are: Standard (zigzag), over-casting foot, buttonhole presser foot, manual buttonhole, overcastting foot, blind stitch, and zipper foot.
Exclusive feet for the Juki F600 are: Walking foot, Patchwork foot, open toe foot, free motion quilt foot, edge sewing foot, and smooth presser foot.

The Janome 6600 has its walking foot build right in, called the Accu-feed. Its function is similar to the Pfaff’s IDT but is wider and has more surface space. It is an attachment all in its own and works independently from the regular or standard feet. Included with it are: Standard (zigzag), overcastting, rolled hem 1/8”, quarter inch, over edge, zipper, satin stitch, blind hem, cording, automatic button hole, basting/darning/free-motion, open toe satin stitch and the Accu-feed foot.

Both machines come with bobbins, 4 needles, quilt bar, thread stops for small and large spools, seem ripper, t-key for removing screws, and knee press.

I pulled out both sets of feet which are photographed for you to examine, the standard number included on the 6600 is 14, but I count 13 unless the quilt bar counts as a foot. While I was photographing these feet I decided to pull the shank off of my Janome and test it on the Juki feet. They are interchangeable. This is great news for those that do not have a Juki dealer nearby where they can pick up Juki brand accessories. Personally this is a great discovery as I am planning on leaving the Accu-feed foot down on the 6600 permanently once this comparison is finished. Here are the pictures of this discovery.

Both of these machines are computerized and therefore use plastic bobbins. While photographing them for comparison purposes I noticed they too are interchangeable. This is good news as I have tonnes of Janome bobbins around the house. It will save me quite the expense using what I already have and don’t’ need more of.

At first glance the manuals stick out like a sore thumb. The Juki manual being the larger of the two, there are a few reasons for this. One is that the image format is larger requiring more pages to show what the Janome manual does on one page and two it has more in it. The Juki machine manual has basic sewing instructions for “zippers”, “shearing”, and “pin-tucks”. The Janome manual includes instructions for “zippers”. I’ll be going over the manuals a bit at a time as I get to each different feature on both machines. But this is a general overview. The Juki manual is 102 pages the Janome is 92 pages.

Similar features on both machines are: Knee lift, thread cutters, drop in bobbin, needle left or right, stitch length, needle up/down, start/stop button, twin needle capabilities and free motion. I’m sure that these machines have a bunch of other similar features but from comparing the manuals this is what I could find. If I find more they will be addressed later.

One major difference when flipping through the manual is that the Juki has no defined modes. The Janome has three modes which break down the stitches. I’ll start with the Janome since its method is familiar and common on other machines. Mode one is the basic stitches, that includes the straight stitch, lock stitch, and zigzag. Mode two is the quilting and patchwork stitches. I am personally not familiar with these stitches. Mode three is the utility and decorative stitches. Button holes and overlocking stitches are included here. The F600 has four methods for choosing patterns.
1. is the direct patterns, similar to mode one.
2. is “123” or numerical. This allows the user to enter the stitch pattern number directly. Ex. Decorative stitch is labelled “65” choose “123” button and type in “65” the design will be recalled.
3. is “abc” for monogramming, the numbers correlate to letters of the alphabet which are displayed on the number pad.
4. is ‘one point’. I actually do not understand how this method works and will explain it better once I’ve physically tried it out. There are no mode changes and trying to remember which mode your stitches are in with the F600.

That is about as far as I can go for the moment without physically setting the machine up and it will be Monday December 21, 2009, before I will have time to do so. The biggest differences are going to be how it actually sews, and both machines will have their strengths and weaknesses. Dimensions will be posted once the machine is set up, I don’t think the ones I have are accurate and want to take them again.

NOTE: Images are coming; I need to find my camera cable to transfer them.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Resolutions Already!

As 2009 draws to a close with Christmas being about a week away its time to start thinking of those dreaded New Year’s resolutions. I rarely ever make any as I just don’t seem to follow them or use them as a guide line for what I want to accomplish in the year 2010. But this is what I’ve come up with; they’re simple, streamlined and somewhat attainable.
1. Keep sewing space organized and tidy so that it can be used whenever by either my mother or I. This includes finding a spot for the Juki F600 that is currently sitting under my desk.
2. Sew 10+ metres of fabric per month, for a combined goal of 120 metres by December 2010. Try to bring in less than goal of new fabric.
3. Sew more from pattern books such as La Mia Boutique and Burda.
4. Clean out UFO's and try to finish off 2 for every new item started. Try to keep new item and UFO's coordinated, if UFO was never finished due to nothing matching.
5. Finish Halloween costume in time for Halloween.
6. Add embroidery to more projects if appropriate.
7. Learn how to digitize better and create embroidery designs.
8. Make more dresses and skirts
9. Start silk-screening and hand dying fabrics.
10. Quilt more

Friday, November 27, 2009

Christmas Ornaments and other Mishaps

It’s been a while since I’ve updated, too long really, I have been far too busy getting sick this month to get much done. I have however begun work on a pile of Christmas ornaments that I need to make for the 19th of December and beyond. I worked out that I need about 60+ of these little ornaments which at a running time of 25 minutes each a few days of nonstop work. I try to set the embroidery machine up on weekends when my boyfriend is over playing video games, but lately that not been the case, I’ve spent my nights and weekends sleeping to fight off the flu. I do however have a decent pile started, but 50 or more to finish. I bought 4 large King cones of Robison-Anton rayon embroidery thread for this project in evergreen, gold, red and white, the king cones last longer and are more economical than the mini-kings.
The project idea was borrowed from Embroidery Library. Its two layers of organza and one layer of water soluble stabilizer with a design embroidered onto the organza. This was sort of the first time I did a large scale project with my embroidery machine in its new home, so it was quite exciting. My mother even came down to see it up and running permanently.

Designs shown are from embroidery library as well, they’re the set of Symbol Snowflakes.

I also tried another embroidery design, this time on sweatshirt fleece. I’d like to put this one on some hoodies for my sister and I. We both love playing Dungeons and Dragons so this design speaks greatly to us. I think it’s a lot smarter and intelligent than some of the other d20 designs and slogans out there. Unfortunately the tension on my machine was to high when testing this out, but it’s a good thing I stitched the full design out or I would not have seen how much It needed adjusting, the larger “mistakes” are further in the design. It’s a good test; I love how it looks stitched out and how it will once the tension mistake has been corrected. This design is from Urban Threads.

The other project I have been working on is Burda 108-7-07, which are skinny jeans, in a dark navy blue. I actually discovered while trying them on that the denim is very slightly elastine, maybe 2% at the most, it’s slight, but they’re going to fit very well. There has been a few mishaps as these are my first pair of jeans but, I’m pleased with how they’re turning out even if has meant getting creative with my sewing skills. They’re about half done and I expect that I shall be finishing them up right away before I tackle my boyfriends western style shirt for the holidays.

Tonight is cutting out squares for a quilt or working on the jeans. I ran out of embroidery needles and need to pick some up before I can continue with the ornaments.