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Friday, October 31, 2014

I'll Bee Sewing...

After watching a few episodes of "The Great British Sewing Bee" generously recorded by a colleague in London, I decided to join Pattern Review's version of it.
The Great Pattern Review Sewing Bee
To challenge myself a bit more, I've decided I will use my new machine which I'm not very familiar with.
I am confident I'll have the supplies needed (I could probably supply ALL the participants and not even notice anything was gone.)

I have to admit, I'm mainly interested in the Eilliot Berman gift certificate. Not because the other prizes aren't awesome (they really are), but I now have more machines that I need (I had move my backup overlock off the counter to make room for the Babylock). Okay, NEED may be too strong a work--I already had more than I need. I just bought the Reliable Sensor iron, and LOVE it. It steams like crazy when you pick it up and stops as soon as you put it down and has an auto-off override. Yep, no more shaking your iron to turn it back on since that auto-off feature seams to be timed perfectly to shut off right before you need your iron again. Seriously, did some evil designer do a test?: sew a seam, press open, pin to next garment piece, sew seam, return to iron: yep, the iron just turned off--that's the exact right timing.

Anyway, good luck to everyone who enters!


Monday, October 27, 2014

Say "Hello" to My Little Friend

Okay, she's not really little. She's actually pretty big. I'm talking about the BabyLock Melody that arrived today, compliments of BabyLock USA. I took a few photos of the un-boxing before I got her set up for a test drive.

 This is the underside of the quilt table. I love that the presser foot knee lift snaps into place here.

You can see this is not a small machine, and it weighs a decent amount (which makes me think there may be some metal parts in there!)

 It came with quite a few accessories, including a walking foot. I wound a bobbin, tried a few stitches, the auto cutter and knee presser foot lifter, and changed the language to French. :)
It makes a very nice stitch and is really quiet. Now I just need to figure out what all the buttons do.

I think Melly and I have some great times ahead if I can just figure out where to put her....

Many thanks to the judges of this year's ASDP Threads Challenge for selecting my suit as a winner, and to BabyLock for donating such fabulous machines to all the winners!


Thursday, October 23, 2014

It's been awhile...

I always promised myself that I'll be better about blogging when I'm 'in country', but then I get back and life takes over. Dogs want to be fed, the house needs to be cleaned (at least once a month) and my husband expects me to listen to him sometimes...and that's on top of knitting, reading, sewing and all the other stuff I try to do on a regular basis. Oh, and the full time job.

I have been knitting and sewing since we got back in April, but most of it was for the annual challenge for the Association of Sewing Professionals (ASDP) put on by Threads magazine. This year was "Rethinking the Power Suit". These challenges are blind-judged, so I couldn't share anything about what I was doing--the fabric, the techniques, the finishes--anything that might give away which entries were mine.
As much as I'm enjoying knitting, it really has become a problem for my sewing. I sit down in the living room thinking "I'll just do a few rows." Then I get a cup of coffee, find something interesting (enough) on the tv, and then the dogs join me. 3 hours later I haven't gotten to my shop and no sewing has gotten done.

I submitted 3 entries this year:

"It's Not What You Think"
Knitted herringbone sweater in Hikoo by Kenzie(wool, nylon, angora, alpaca, silk) in color Kale with a front zip and seed stitch peplum.
Full leg Italian wool trouser with self fabric loops and shell buttons down the side seam that expose a silk charmeuse panel when open.

"M'en Fiche" (I don't care)
Faux fur cropped jacket with leather waistband
High-waisted sequin skirt with chiffon band at hem
I finished the jacket enough to show it in the fashion show, but my relationship with the skirt fell apart at the last minute and she stayed home. She wasn't fit to see any of my sewing friends in any case. We'll start therapy next week to try and work things out.

"Going Places"
Silk Denim jacket over-dyed with Pecan brown acid dye. Double princess seams front and back, a wide back vent, waistband and tab peplum. Lined with charmeuse and hand top-stitched with 2 colors of jeans thread.
Printed ITY knit dress with draped neckline and elastic belting waistband

I was really happy with the first and third entries, but left "M'en Fiche" to finish at the 11th hour. Entries were due by midnight, and that last one was time stamped 11:55. The one I spent the most time on by far was "Going Places" and it was the one I was the happiest with overall. So I wasn't surprise that the other 2 were not selected as finalists. But "Going Places" was selected! If you know anything about the caliber of the men and women who are and have been members of ASDP(formerly PACC), you know how high the bar is for these challenges.

I know my skills have improved over the 9 years I've been a member, and it isn't just the classes I've taken at every conference, or the projects I've done for clients, myself and for the challenges I've entered. It's also from the conversations I've had or observed with other members, in person at conferences(sometimes other places) and on the discussion list, and by example with the amazing work my fellow members do and share with the rest of us. I've been inspired, challenged and encouraged by the most talented group of people I know.

I was still shocked when my name was called this year as a winner. They created a category (which they often do depending on the challenge and entries each year), "Best Suited for Travel". This especially thrilled me, since every decision I made for this outfit was geared towards it being a travel suit. The silk I used for the jacket is warm, lightweight, acts as a wind-breaker and dries quickly. The tabbed peplum moves around the body while sitting and moving so it doesn't bind or bunch up. The wide back vent allows the wearer to raise her arms in front of her--to grab her bag or work on a laptop. The knit of the dress is comfortable, forgiving and never wrinkles, and the attached belting means you can be fully dressed in about 15 seconds.

I'd love to share photos, but Threads now has first right to publish, so you'll just have to wait until the Spring when all the winners garments are featured (tentatively issue 178).

I'll get some photos of M'en Fiche over the weekend.