New Sewing Space!

So, we moved house from San Francisco to Redwood City at the end of September, 2013. It was in most ways a really great improvement for us! We still don’t have restaurants we’re nuts about, but other than that, let’s see . . . more space, beautiful old building, 4 full-grown redwoods 6 feet from our windows, great neighborhood for regular running and constitutionals, 95% fewer homeless people in my every day experience, and hiking/trail running within a 20 minute drive! It’s heavenly!

IMG_5555We did have a bump or two with moving, as usual. We had a lot of issues with noise from our upstairs neighbor, whose wood floors were VERY creaky and who had movement at all hours of the night. There were various other issues, including machinery noises, that made our hoped-for haven a little less heavenly than we’d have liked.

So wouldn’t you know, when two months later the upstairs unit came available, though it took us a while to stomach the extra work, we went ahead and moved everything one floor up. We’re now on the top floor, and that is a good thing! I feel bad, though, because this apartment’s floors are MUCH creakier than the ones downstairs. No wonder they were waking us up! We never wear shoes in the house, and hope we’re not plaguing our new downstairs neighbor. IMG_5561

But in some ways my ~favorite~ part is that I have a sewing corner now! I used to cut on a 6-foot long folding table in our kitchen, and sew on the kitchen table. Now I have a permanent desk with shelves for tools, patterns, short-list fabrics, and more. And I also have a proper cutting table, albeit a foldaway. I find it’s just fine, even if it’s not super-deluxe custom. As a matter of fact, I used to hate cutting and tracing, but now I find I quite like it!

One of the things I love about it is that I’m not off in a separate room, but in a corner of our very large living room. So my husband can read or play games and I can sew, all in the same space! I like the fact that I don’t listen to as much TV this way, and when I do want to listen to something, it’s an audiobook on my ipod.

My little space is made up of an Ikea Expedit desk, a Joann’s tilting hobby table, my Fabulous Fit-ed Dritz dress form, and my sewing books on the bookshelf to the left of it all. And that’s enough for me!

Fehrtrade PB Jam Leggings: Wearable Muslin AND a New Serger!

When I heard that Melissa of Fehr Trade was putting out digital patterns for running gear, I couldn’t have been more excited! One of my favorite sewing bloggers, Melissa is also an inspiration to me in the running realm. Through her generous blogging and twitter feed, I’ve been able to watch as she’s gotten faster and changed her running style, and generally accomplished great things. So when I had the chance to up my fangirl-dom to support her new venture into patternmaking, I jumped at it.

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After a Run

Of course, this was also an opportunity to finally get some exciting spandex, supplex and powermesh (I am currently working on my first draft of the XYT top as well), and I was excited when the supplies arrived. I ordered functional but not as exciting fabrics for the first version of each, and more fun fabrics for the second. And I’m certain there will be far more than two versions—I see no reason to buy running pants at a minimum of $60 a pair when I can make more exciting ones for about $20!

When all my supplies were in and washed, I set to assembling and tracing the patterns. I was heartened that my measurements put me in the M slot, as I’m still not over cutting out a 16 in a pattern when my ready-to-wear size is 8 or 10. It’s silly, but it bugs me.

I found the patterns easy to assemble and tracing posed no problem except that I experienced some kind of brain blockage that led me to forget at least 40% of the notches. I later had to go back and trace these onto the pattern pieces, then clip the already-cut fabric.

Piecing the leg fronts and backs was easy. The notches, as soon as I got them on all the pieces as appropriate, were PERFECT. As in standing there pinning and thinking “this doesn’t look like it’s lining up right” and then sewing the seam and seeing that it’s lining up perfectly! Melissa has really thought of all the little details and what happens with a 14” seam allowance in a way that I’m not sure my brain could do.

As I began to assemble the leggings, the issues with my serger started up. I had a lot of trouble with tension, and in the end the needle tension never got to where I wanted it. After struggling with my 8 year old Huskylock 936 for two hours on Saturday, I finally threw up my hands and decided I’d have to take it for servicing the next day. Reading and research ensued, and I wasn’t all that shocked when I seriously depleted my “fun” savings account the next day and came home with a Babylock Evolution.

That’s been a dream to work with! I can switch from coverstitch to overlock several times in an hour (though in longer practice I’m sure I’ll try to group like stitching as I used to with the Huskylock), and every stitch has been perfect. I hope I find over time that this change has been worth it, but I strongly suspect I will. As I branch out into making even my own undies (prototypes coming soon!), the percentage of my own wardrobe that I am sewing is getting close to 80. Without serger struggles to deal with, I will even be able to stop succumbing to the lure of cheap t-shirts from Target.Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 8.07.13 PM

Anyhow, back to the leggings! Once I got the pants together, and before inserting the elastic at the waist, I tried them on. I was amazed! There were several issues, many of which could be chalked up to things other than the pattern:

  1. One never knows what will happen with a particular fabric’s stretch.
  2. Apparently though my middle is Size M, my legs are not. No wonder I like to wear skirts and show them off!
  3. I think, looking at Melissa’s pictures, that I like my leggings tighter than she does.

The only thing that seemed like a possible pattern . . . um, choice? is the length—I removed a good 5 inches and these still bunch at my ankles a bit (I wanted to be conservative). At least for the US I am average-height at 5’ 5.5.” I do, however, like a pretty short inseam at 29” or 30”.

But the issues were easy to remedy! I put the leggings on inside out and pinned up one leg to fit as I wanted. I measured all the pins’ locations and noted them on the pattern instructions, right on the technical drawings. Then I serged off the extra fabric on both inseam and side seam. I experimented with pinning out fabric on the inseam only (so as to preserve the perfection of my hip “swoops”) but the fit felt odd when I did that.

I then used the altered leg and the measurements to pin the other leg, and serged that one too.

Waistband elastic insertion was easy, though I did get two little tucks in the fabric from not stretching enough. I opted to leave that as-is, since I don’t anticipate running without a top that covers the waistband. Coverhemming the bottoms was likewise problem free. And then I had a pair of the loudest pants I’ve had since the early 90’s (remember Hammer time?).  🙂

I wore these to yoga at the office yesterday, which was extra expose-y because our teacher called in sick and I led the class. Before starting I did a quick check and ensured that there was no show-through. All clear! Or opaque, as the case may be.

And today I took them out for a nice 30 minute run! They performed excellently. A little toasty for me in our climate (which is admittedly currently unseasonably warm—sorry everyone else!), but true to Melissa’s word there was no scooching down of the waistband at all! Even though I think I actually cut the elastic a little too loose—what a relief.

So, that’s the story! I can’t WAIT to show you the next pair. I may cut an S or XS with an M hips/bum, depending on how that lines up with my adjusted pair. For as you can see here, truly

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So True
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But the fit is great, eh?

I hope this post wasn’t too wordy. I’ve had major blog blockage because of not having great pics of the project that came before this, and now I find I’m long-winded. But for the sake of trying to get into some kind of rhythm with this thing, I’m just going to post. Let me know in the comments if you think this level of detail is ridiculous. Thanks!