Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Old Chairs/New Chairs

This is a before picture of our dining room chairs. Not too bad. But not really nice either.

This is a scan of the fabric I used to re-cover the chairs. I am absolutely in LOVE with this fabric. I may make a bag out of the leftovers. I'd really like a skirt or a jumper but its pretty heavy stuff.

I'd never recovered a chair before but I found lots of help online. Instructables.com was particularly helpful. Actually, MD was the most help of all.

MD carefully removed one of the old panels for me so that I could use it as a pattern. The old fabric was made of PLASTIC. I tried to iron it flat so that it would be easier to cut the new fabric around it and it melted onto my iron. Even on the lowest setting, it still melted. Look at how dirty and gross the old seat covers were! (...and this is despite regular steam cleanings!)

MD ripped the old fabric off the rest of the seats using a pair of plyers. It would have taken me forever to get the old fabric off. Hooray for brute strength! When he was done, I tapped the old stapels down with a hammer and got ready to stretch the fabric.

MD also just happened to take a furniture class (and learned how to stretch a canvas) at art school, so he knew exactly how to stretch the fabric so that it came out even all the way around. He stretched and I got to fire the staple gun, which was super fun.

After a liberal spraying of Scotch Guard and an overnight drying session, we have (practically) new dining room chairs!

Much smarter, don't you think?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


A quickie is exactly what I need. I am dying to make something, despite my pledge to not sew anything new until my past projects are all posted.

A quickie is also all I would have time for, if I was going to make something new. My sister, who lives in another city 50 miles away, has been sleeping in the sewing room a few nights a week while she finishes her dental hygienist degree at the community college near my house. That means my happy crafty place is occupied a great deal of the time, leaving only weekends to sew.

Weekends, sadly, are not made for fun, despite what Debbie Deb might think. In my world, weekends are made for doing all the stuff you avoided during the week. I would have had time to sew this weekend, but my parents are coming to visit and I have laundry to do and grocery shopping and banking and social obligations... See?

So this quickie will have to wait. But its on my list as a pattern I should try soon, despite the fact that I have trouble wearing these 60s shifty things. Too much boob and too much hip, I think. I am a little too curvy for the average Twiggy shift.

The slashed neck should help reduce the hugeness of my boobs. I think if I made the skirt a bit more a-line, as someone has drawn on the green version, it should help balance out my hips. If I can't figure out how to redraft it, I might go for godets a la Les Demoiselles de Rochefort. Maybe. If I ever have time to sew again.

I will! I will! I will! Right?

Monday, September 15, 2008

...and more leopard...

I had some brown broadcloth leftover from the skirt I made for this dress. And whaddaya know? I still have more leopard print.


I decided to make this dress (View 3). I used the leftover broadcloth for the bodice and the leftover leopard is the skirt.

Cutting was easier than I thought it would be. I had exactly enough brown for the top with no leftovers except for a few small scraps. I love that. Using up all my fabric is a goal. Having little quarter yard chunks lying around drives me crazy. It’s too much fabric to just throw out, but there’s no point in keeping it either unless I start making quilts. I’m a lot less interested in quilts than I am in clothes.

I tried to cut the skirt out of the leopard in such a way that I’d have a large continuous piece of fabric left. I wanted to be able to have enough left over that I could make something out of it. Maybe a pair of (tiny) hot shorts or a small purse? I did pretty well and had a relatively big chunk left over.

The problem is – I very stupidly cut the skirt out against the nap. UGH. So dumb. But I decided to use it anyway. If I spend that much time cutting it out, I’m using it. Gods of “correct” sewing be damned. The up-side is, the fabric doesn’t seem to relax and stretch out as much when cut this way so maybe everything will be all right. Maybe it will wear funny, but I hope not.

The Husqvarna gave me all kinds of problems during skirt construction, but I’m sure it was all my fault. I confused the stitch length knob with the tension knob. Even though I realized what I’d done, after I corrected the knobs I still had major problems. I kept getting big loopy stitches on the back side of the fabric. Maybe the problem was that it was eight million degrees in the sewing room? Now that the weather has returned to normal (cold, foggy) the sewing machine is behaving again. Strange.

All in all, this project wasn’t too hard. I only had to sew everything together ONE TIME! Wooo! The skirt is fine despite the nap running in the wrong direction and for once I was able to convince a kick pleat to behave. Usually, I give up and stitch the pleat closed but shockingly, it worked this time!

The bodice didn’t fight me too much. I neglected to cut out the fusible web for the neck facings. This ended up making the process take a little longer since I started piecing it together before I realized the fused interfacing was missing.

As usual, the zipper was a total nightmare. I don’t yet have a zipper foot for the Viking (it’s on my list!) and for some reason the Singer decided to completely rebel. It kept jamming up and creating big balls of string on the back side of the stitches. I know I’m doing something wrong, but I have no idea what.

I went back to the Viking and put the zipper in using the regular foot. It mostly worked, but the stitching is VERY wavy and I ended up sewing through the zipper in a few places, AGAIN!

I got the zipper in, but it was a wreck. Not only had I sewn through the zipper in several places, but I’d managed to sew the skirt fabric over the zipper preventing it from moving at all. NOW I had to rip it out and start over. I was SO upset and angry. You’d think I’d learn, but I get so impatient that I just plunge ahead instead of thinking things through.

Instead of throwing the whole thing out the window, I took a break. When I’d calmed down, I came back and ripped out the bad stitches and re-did them. It still looks kind of awful. I can’t see how bad it looks, because it’s on my back so I’m pretending there’s nothing wrong with it. It zips now, and that’s good enough, but it sure is ugly.

The dress is cute, though. I don’t even mind the puffy gathers at the hips.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Are the 80s Vintage?

Check out this skirt pattern from 1980. I am not really into 80s fashion. My favorite period of style is from 1958-1962. You know, the new look is easing up, teenagers are becoming major consumers, but we haven't quite gotten to hippie/space age/Carnaby Street style yet. Ahhh...lovely.

But I saw this and had an idea.

I have a very simple a-line skirt pattern from 1950. Its too small, which is sad because I love it so.

Every time I lose a pound or two, I make a new version. And then I gain that pound back and I can't wear it anymore. I've remade it a bunch of times and it always eventually ends up in the Goodwill pile once I decide that it will never fit again. Then I loose an inch in my waist and stitch it up a new version. For which I then become to fat. Its a sad and ugly cycle.

So anyway, my lovely Vogue A-line from the 50s is about the same shape as this skirt from the 80s. (Look at View C.) Its two pieces instead of four gores, but I think it should hang the same way, more or less. I also like that I can make two fuller versions with the same pattern. If this works, I'll have died and gone to skirt heaven.