Saturday, October 23, 2021

Geraline K James and Shalini Arguilera

 Geraline K James and Shalini Arguilera,

I am trying to get in contact with you regarding cosplay commissions from several years ago to wrap up accounts. If you see this message, could you please PM me? I need to get a long over due refund to you.

(If you know either of this people, please pass the message along! I'd really love to make things right.)

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Confessions: Fabric Shopping during Covid19

I survived for two months on what I could order online, but I finally got to the point where I couldn't hold off any longer. I had to go to JoAnn's. There are just some things you cannot get online for one reason or another.

The whole trip was kind of insane and I thought I'd share my experience in case anyone else was thinking about going. Here's what you should know.

In my area, about half of the stores are closed except for curbside pick-up. Curbside pick-up is taking forever. I waited two weeks and in the end, they cancelled my order because by the time the employees got around to my number, my requested fabric was out of stock.

Of the stores that ARE open, they have limited hours and are only allowing a few customers in at a time. My chosen store was open from 11am-5pm and allowed 15 customers in at a time. (And this is a BIG store, not one of the little ones).

I arrived shortly after 11am. The store had been open about ten minutes and there were 25 people in line.

It took me an hour until I was able to get into the store.

Now I was prepared for this. I had a full battery on my phone, I'd left my baby at home, and I had a water bottle. But I wish I'd also brought a folding chair and a laptop or book because by the end of the trip, my fibromyalgia had flared up majorly.

When I got into the store, there were still about 20 people in line behind me. When I emerged, an hour and a half later, there were 10 people in line.

There were sanitizing wipes by the carts, so I was able to sanitize my cart and hands right away, although I think they were wiping down the carts after every customer anyhow. There were signs everywhere asking people to stay six feet apart. I did my best to comply with this, although it was sometimes pretty tricky. Most of the customers were congregated around the fabric area.

I wish I had picked up my cutting counter ticket right away, but I didn't know how long it was going to take. Consequently, I ended up having to wait quite awhile. I didn't realize how many people were getting big cutting orders done, slowing things down. But I should have expected it. After all, I was picking up a lot of stuff for myself, AND getting items for some other friends and family to save them a trip.

As I expected, the cotton fabric was VERY picked over. I've never seen the quilting fabric section so bare, not even during Black Friday. There was more licensed fabric left than I expected, and the home decor department was pretty normal. There were a few other shortages in some areas, like notions, but for the most part the rest of the store seemed to have a normal stock of everything.

In my store, I don't believe any of the employees were wearing masks. However, they did keep their distance, and at the cutting counters there were tables set in front of the counters to maximize the distance between the customers and the employees cutting the fabric. This was actually pretty nice because I could get my fabric all laid out and move very quickly. I wouldn't mind if they kept those tables around!

To my surprise, they DID have elastic that you could purchase by the yard at the cutting counter. They didn't have a limit on how much you could get. Since my online elastic order is STILL on a boat in the Pacific, I did pick up 15 yards at JoAnn's.

At the checkouts, there were plexiglass screens in front of the cashiers, and they wiped down the counters in between each customer.

This is a very difficult time to be a JoAnn's employee. The company has made some missteps in how they've handled the situation, and there remains a lot of controversy about whether they should be open at all. If you find that you do need to go yourself, I recommend being as patient as you possibly can with every part of the process, and making sure to thank the employees no matter how grumpy they might seem. I know that they do NOT get paid very well, and like any retail, it's tough being on your feet all day. I was truly tremendously grateful to each person working there.

The last two months have taught me in so many ways not to take things for granted. Even though so much was difficult and different about the shopping experience, I was so thankful that I had a chance to get the things that I needed for myself and others.

Finally, I know there is a lot of debate right now about what all of us should be doing on any level. Please don't bring that debate here. I intend this to be an informative post of facts, in hopes that it might make you life easier, if such a shopping trip becomes important to you, even if it's just to save you a wasted trip to a store with an hour-long line.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

No Pattern Baby Dress

Confession: I was really really close to abandoning this blog. Not because I've stopped sewing, but because I now have a mini-seamstress-to-be (I hope!) in the house, and I barely have time to sew, much less photograph and write about it! 

However, I have been having a TON of fun making clothes for her and I've been delighted by how easy and low stress baby sewing is. I'd really love to empower more people to try their hand at sewing up some fun things for their kids, so I decided to get a blog post out right now, while so many of us are cooped up at home. 

This tutorial is designed for an intermediate sewer who already knows some basics. The entire project uses a zig-zag stitch on a regular home sewing machine. 

My daughter is currently wearing 12-month clothes, and I made this dress entirely out of a size medium camisole from Maurices. A smaller or larger child could get more or less of a garment, or you could also use a t-shirt, especially if you want a 100% cotton garment (camisoles often have polyester in them). 

The reason I start with an existing shirt rather than fabric yardage is a) most of us have shirts around that we or our spouses have grown out of, and b) you can utilize the hems on these shirts so that you'd don't need to break out a twin needle. Technically you CAN hem knits with a zigzag stitch, but it doesn't look great. 

What you'll need:

Sewing machine (ballpoint needle is optional but not necessary)
marking pencil
shirt/camisole to cut up
a knit shirt in your child's desired size to use for pattern

Disclaimer: I was working REALLY fast--I did the entire project and photos during one nap. In the interest of getting this post done, I've opted NOT to edit the photos. However, I think it's all very clear. 

The 1st step you'll be taking is to trace around your child's shirt to create a pattern. I recommend using your child's next size so you have a big of wiggle room if you make a mistake. Use a shirt with a neckhole that is already big enough to go over your child's head WITHOUT using any snaps or zippers. 

Unfortunately I was working with an existing pattern tracing, so I don't have photos of this step. But it's literally just tracing, and because you are using a knit fabric, there is plenty of forgiving wiggle room.

 My camisole!

I measured up from the hem as high as I wanted the dress skirt to be, then I cut it off.

My bodice pattern was too short, so I estimated some extra length in it. Line this up on the center fold of the t-shirt. You should be cutting through four layers of fabric.

Your front and back pieces will look a LITTLE different. The front neckline dips a little lower, and the front armholes cut in a bit further.

You should have some scrap pieces that look kind of like this. OR, if you are using a t-shirt, you can cut down the sleeves on that.

To figure out the size of your sleeve, measure the armhole on the bodice.

Then measure out this on the top of the sleeve. You can use your child's original shirt as a template here. This piece is cut on a fold. You will need two of them.

If you are using a t-shirt and cutting down those sleeves, make sure to cut it out so that the original sleeve hems remain the new sleeve hems and save you that step later on.

Here is one sleeve, still folded in half. Length is totally up to you. I only had enough fabric to make elbow-length sleeves.

 You should have a leftover pair of scraps that are long and strippy.

Measure the bodice neck...

Then cut two rectangles that are slightly shorter than the neck circumference...

...and about an inch wide.

You should now have 7 pieces that look like the above, including any lace you saved from the camisole neckline.

If you used a camisole, save those straps!

 Take off the findings if applicable and set aside.

Now you are going to sew the shoulder seams.

Match the thread as best you can. I didn't have any teal thread of this subtle hue, so I went with gray. Gray thread is a seamstress's secret weapon for these occasions!

Set your machine to a small zigzag stitch. I set my width and length both just under 2.

Sew across the shoulder seams, right sides together.

You must use a zigzag stitch because the zigzag has enough give in it that the knit fabric can stretch without breaking the stitches.

Now take the two long rectangle pieces. Sew the short ends together, right sides together.

Double the sides over and iron.

Pin this circle into the neckline, matching raw edges, lining up the side seams, and spacing the material evenly. The collar circle will be slightly smaller than the bodice neckline and you will need to stretch it slightly as you sew. If you've never sewn with knits before, have patience and be aware that you may end up doing this step twice.

Stitch slowly and carefully!

Take it off the machine and iron it down.

As you iron the neckline down, it should suddenly look quite...professional! You might have a giddy moment of "oh my, did I just make that???"

Next we will be finishing the sleeves! I used the straps from the camisole and will show you my method below. However, if you have enough fabric left over, you can also finish the sleeve hems the way you did the neckline hem. Or, of course, if you know how to use a twin needle, you can just do a hem that way.

And if you cut them down from t-shirt sleeves, then this step is already complete.

Cut two camisole strap stripes just a bit shorter than the sleeve edges.

Lay the camisole straps along the right side of the fabric, then secure in back with whip stitches. You can use large whip stitches, or tiny ones. Up to you!

Flip it over and you've got a pretty spiffy edge.

Now, right sides together, line up the bodice and sleeve armholes, matching centers and edges. You may need to stretch slightly as you sew.

Pin in place. Always pin before sewing! I am super experienced so I don't always pin, but I highly recommend doing so as it saves much frustration.

Sew carefully. Because you are sewing two curves together, the fabric will want to pucker. Pause often to smooth out the puckers. Pull ever so slightly on the fabric as you sew.

Once done, you can open up the bodice and press the sleeves. Here you can see one sleeve pressed and one still lumpy. What a difference it makes!

It is now time to sew the edges of the sleeve and bodice.

On baby clothes, you can do this in one long seam. (On adult clothes, these seams are usually completely prior to hemming and attaching sleeve and bodice, but the circles are too small to achieve this on baby clothes.)

Start at the sleeve hem, matching the edges up VERY carefully. Sew down to the bottom of the bodice, matching the armhole join on both sides.

Once sewn, clip the corners at the sleeve hem so that they don't poke out.

Your bodice side should now look like this.

Turn it right side out and admire your work! The hardest parts are done!

Now you are going to fold both your bodice and your skirt piece into 8ths.

Taper the skirt, leaving just a little more fabric in the skirt than in the bodice to allow for seam allowances. Cut ONLY until the edge of the lace, tapering out as you go.

Your skirt should now be a weird looking piece with four offshoots like this.

But now you are going to sew up those sides again!

Match up the top hems and sew down to the lace, tapering off into a nice dart at the end.

Teeny tiny dart at the end!

Turn it right side out and iron and it looks like a proper skirt.

Use pins or a fabric pencil to mark the exact center of each skirt panel and the center of the bodice hem front and back. Line up the center of your skirt panels with the markings on the bodice, and the side seams. This will result in a panel perfectly centered in the front and back of your dress.

Sew the waist seams together, stretching ever so slightly if necessary, right sides together.

Turn right side out and iron. If you have no additional lace, this is it! Your dress is done!

If you have any lace, line it up across the bodice, just covering the waist seam.

Pin in place carefully.

Here you will need to increase your zigzag slightly, to about 2.5 in both length and height.

You will zigzag down right on the top of the lace. Go slowly and do not let the fabric bunch or distort. sew slightly in from the lace edge (not right on the edge. This will mask your stitches better).

IF you have raw lace edges at the side seams, stitch those down too.

And voila! The dress is done! Now pull it on your wiggling toddler and try to get a few pictures of your masterpiece. If you share on instagram, please tag me so I can see your results! @seamstressconfessions