Saturday, March 29, 2014

March Garment Made!

 Yes, I managed to make a top this week.  I have made one of these before:

If you want more details about this top, please click here.  If you just want to know what pattern I used, it was Kwik Sew 3766, a nice easy to sew, basic tee shirt. 

I had scraps left over from the first top, and I thought with a judicious juggling I would be able to eek out another top.  I don't like keeping scraps, they tend to take up as much space as the original piece and you invariably don't go back to them.  And, I like black and white tops, so I thought a second would not go astray.  I did manage a second top, only I had to make the three quarter length sleeves, which I rather like

The fabric is really nice in real life, but I am afraid is just strobing and looking grey in the photos. 

It's a poly cotton mix, quite a good quality, which I found at Spotlight.  Occasionally you can strike it lucky at Spotlight.  It was not cheap, but as I managed to eke out two tops, I think the price sort of worked out more reasonably when spread over two garments.

I added a band to the sleeves and the hem to finish the top.  I have learnt that this is quite a good way to hem knits.  It looks clean and neat.  I thought I had made this method up, then I found out the Sew-A-Holic uses a similar technique in the Renfrew top.  I must get the pattern to see what they say about this technique.  Still, I was pretty pleased with my problem solving skills :).

I decided to take photographs outside today - I hoped they would be clearer than my indoor poor light pictures.  They are not much clearer, but they do look nicer.

Here goes, sort of a front view first:

Then a back view:

These are self timed shots - it would be lovely to have a photographer on hand and proper lighting. But for now it's just me, a Canon PowerShot A480, and a stool as a tripod:

And hope for the best with self timed shots! The things we do to get our blog photos :)

Happy sewing everyone,

Sarah Liz

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Getting Back into the Swing of Things

Before I start this post, I would like to thank you all for your wonderful, insightful and supportive comments that you left on my last post.  I am humbled to be part of a such a talented sewing community - everyone of you, as well as sewing, have amazing stories of your own to tell.  Once again, Thank you for your love and support.

Of course I am feeling a little tired and flat - that is to be expected, but I am slowly picking up the sewing again.  I had planned to make a second black and white t-shirt for the March Make a Garment a Month Challenge.  I'll cut this tonight.   The fabric is in the centre of the picture above.

This year I decided to learn to sew knits, so I have pulled out two pieces of pre-shrunk jersey in berry and purple - these colours seem to be in at the moment.  I'm not influenced by the colours being on trend - they happen to be colours that suit me, so it makes sense to wear them, in fashion or not :).


My DH is very nice and while grateful to me for helping sort things out, feels a little upset too.  So when I said I thought some stash therapy would not go astray, he said, get as much as you like.  I didn't quite do that - mainly because our local store, good old Spotlight, doesn't have an inspiring selection of fabrics. 

I did find some knits that were on sale - and as knits are my current learning project in sewing, I purchased some of these.  They were job lots, and Spotlight has no idea what they are - so they label them Polyester and Nylon.  Well, I could tell by the feel that the knits I purchased were not as labelled.  A burn test at home revealed that they had a natural fibre in the content.  So I was pleased with my astute awareness of textile content - feel alone can tell you quite a bit about the content.  A natural fibre will always feel a little warmer  after holding it in your hand for a while.  Synthetics don't.

I had a lovely little desk delivered to my home recently - it was in one of the rooms at the building where the practice used to be.  A lovely oak desk.

I'm thrilled, because now I have a place to lay out patterns, do drawing or tracing, and cutting out - and I can leave it there.  This is a vast improvement on trying to clear things away off the big table so we can eat :).  The drawers are an added bonus - places to keep pens, glue, rulers and all sorts of miscellany.

And this is a view into my sewing space - we live in an old house, with a nice wide passage that has serves no purpose.  It used to have archives stored in it, but I wondered why they had the good light and why I didn't.  So the archives were relocated and I adopted the passage.  It's cosy and absolutely filled with sewing paraphanalia.  While I love some of the wonderful studios that some sewers have, I'm just grateful to have a nice dedicated space that I can call my sewing own.

Do you have a sewing space of your own?  If not, how do you make a little space to sew?  Some people have fold up tables and cupboards, some sew on the kitchen table.  What amazes me is that we sewers always find a way to sew, whatever the constraints.

Do look after yourselves, wherever you are,

Sarah Liz

Friday, March 21, 2014

A little update and a lot of news...

Recently I made a little black and white knit  top using Kwik Sew 3766 - you can find the top here.

Prior to making that, I made a trial garment in cotton jersey.  I just didn't have time to blog about it.

This is the pattern, for those of you who already have seen the black and white top, and don't want to look at it again.  

It is a lovely simple top to make.  For this variation I used a cotton interlock, a very stable knit.  I cut size S but I really should cut a little large for this type of knit - it doesn't have quite the stretch factor recommended by the pattern.  On the other hand, the fabric was easy to sew,  and I didn't have any problems with needles, skipping stitches or any of the other delights that seem to happen with knits.

I made the hem deeper - 2 inches instead of 1 inch, because I rather like that look, and also because I needed to make the top shorter.  I also used a little cuff at the wrists instead of a hem, because I liked the look of it - it sort of adds a slight sporty touch.

Now for the personal bit - don't worry, it isn't that personal just the news that I will be back in the Blogosphere soon.

Why - because I can't do it all.

Some of you know that I was going to start a Fourth Year in a Psychology degree this year.  I did, but I also had a lot on my work plate. 

And I like to do things properly.  And I like to manage my deadlines well.  And I was not going to be able to do anything well.  I don't mean perfection, but just competence, mastery and enjoyment of the task at hand.

Anne was right - I had to deprioritise something.   So I am going to drop an activity for the time being and restructure a few things.  The story so far:

When I did the first part of the degree (3 years) I was supporting my husband in a fairly traditional way.  This worked - he is a very busy General Physician (if you are in the USA, and Internist, specialist in internal medicine).  It does mean he needs total support, because his work is very demanding.  Also, you  have to be aware that the profession is not good at work/life balance, especially in the old school training he had.  So I factor that in, and make sure I am available to listen and so on.  And tried to make myself adaptable with my interests so we could do things together when we could organise it.

Then he had a bout of ill health.  His number one staff member of 15 years decided this was time to leave.  ( remember years ago working for a Doctor - I was a Registered Nurse once upon a long time ago - and he became ill - and my response was, don't worry, I'll look after things that are needed - like cancelling patients and so on).    The the other lady who had been there 18 years decided it was a good time to leave as well.  So he was in a pickle. He thought he could do the book work and as he is nearer retirement than he was, he would get the typing done by a transcription service, and have a part time receptionist.  I said how are you going to find time to do the bookwork, surely it is not that hard, I'll do it.

Silly me.  Things had changed a lot.  The BAS.  Yuk.  A huge accounting program to learn.  Zero knowledge.

And also lots of accounts to do from hospitals.  A huge backlog.  I took one look - and volunteered.  Silly me.  Still, I do like to get order in things, and I do like to eat :)

Then there is the general management - I seem to be doing that too.

So I have sort of become, as someone recently commented, the backbone.

Then there is the scanning project...

And the account backlog from the recent move and the tidying up of the old premises.

Then the getting new stationary, yellow pages etc etc.

What I have found is that I actually can't work for John, run the house entirely,  and study as well. So I made the difficult decision on Tuesday, after speaking to the academic advisor, to withdraw for now.

My husband was upset, but can see quite clearly, as can I, that I only had time for the bookkeeping  and that we need to get a system in place so I can just manage things and do the bookkeeping.  The the practice can support me, instead of me supporting it.  He always says I contribute my bit and more.

So it looks as though this year I am going to get a system going for the accounts, the filing problems, and the big scanning project.  For those of you that don't know what that is, we have to keep records, and we have a lot - a small room full, that all have to go onto digital storage before retirement, otherwise you have to keep a storage facility somewhere - and nothing can be disposed of until death, and after probate.   So I think the problem needs to be sorted out now, not when I am 90.  My husband is always amused at my pragmatic approach :).

I know I have made the right decision.  I do not need in any sense a further qualification - my first career was as a Registered Nurse, the I did a Bachelor of Arts (Honours 1), then I lectured in Television Studies, then I moved when I married John and could not get appropriate work.  So I started the Psychology degree.  Lots of twists and turns, but that is all part of the rich tapestry of life.

By the way, my husband is a very nice, very kind man, so that makes the decision easier.

And the plus side of this???? I'll be able to do a bit of sewing and blogging again. And no, this decision wasn't me trying to rationalise my decision :).  I have missed you all though :)

This weekend we have to clear out the old premises.  Then I will get on with making the second little black and white knit top which is my March garment of the month.

Sarah Liz

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Your Comments and My Sewing...

Hello Everyone,

First of all, I would like to thank you all for your lovely comments last Sunday - I really appreciated them, but have been so stowed under the last week or so I had no time to reply individually - as you know, usually I do.  Thank you all for your well wishes with my study..

Which sort of intersects with this post.  I have found the first two weeks particularly heavy going - this is always the case after a break from study.  I have to work really hard at Statistics, and usually decide about day 1,  that I will withdraw.  Then I take a deep breath and say to myself, head down and get on with it.

Then there is the Research Ethics - we have a residential school in April, so there is going to be quite a lot of work to do.

So, I have reverted to student ways - t-shirts and pants.  I decided I needed to spruce these up a bit, so I did a little bit of sewing every day and came up with three little scarves.  Total time about one hour, done in small bouts.

The first is a little infinity scarf made out of polycotton.  I thought it would be too stiff, but it actually makes a nice casual cowl.  And if I am looking tired and washed out, it is because I am :)

The  second little cowl is made out of of a viscose knit (which I found as a very cheap remnant piece of 35 cms)  with lots of stretch and drape. I thought it would add a flash of colour, which I crave at the moment but don't have time to remedy other than this way.    I made this little infinity just a bit shorter than the black and white scarf. 

And the third scarf is made using the leftovers of the viscose knit - it's a sort of multi twisted infinity.  I liked this chunkier twisted look - it looks better in real life, but the picture gives some idea.

And note to self - must do something about the student appearance - I tend to look quite bedraggled! Oh well, things will settle soon (I hope).

And then I can think about making some tops in a more flattering colour than black - then I might look a little more alive again (even if I don't feel like it :)).

I do hope your sewing week gave you lots of satisfaction,

Sarah Liz