Cutting mats

Last fall I went to the quilt show (even though I don’t quilt- quilting seems slower even than garment making) in Puyallup. I had been looking for a new sewing machine and knew there would be several styles there to test. I browsed all the booths and the exhibitors had more time to spend with me than they would at the big spring sewing show. This meant I had time to ask at the booth with the cutting mats whether people used them for garments as well. It was my assumption that they were used for quilting and intricate small cuts. As I learned they are used for garment cutting. The sales rep demonstrated and then allowed me to test. Very fun and no effort to cut with a rotary cutter on a mat. I bit the bullet and spent the $100 plus dollars to get a large mat, a mini travel mat, a ruler, a cutter and a healer.

I haven’t yet figured out how all the rulers connect with each other but I am loving cutting with my mat. It is designed to roll up so I can just stand it up without rolling behind my sewing cabinet. I put it on my sewing cutting table and I have a typical garment cut out in 5 minutes. Here is the company I purchased from. Big Mat

They even have some videos to review the use of the rulers although I would have benefited from having them more plainly labled and they end abruptly so I am not sure if I missed something.

I also have some wonderful Gingher shears that I bought when I was in sewing/patternmaking classes at Seattle Central Community College. I prefer the rotary cutter and mat. My wrists tend to hurt if I have been doing certain activities like bike riding and I can still cut without pain using the rotary.

Who would have guessed. Ask and you shall learn. What have you learned in the last couple months that you can share with us?

 

The bike bag

The bike bag

I have your typical bike bags (purchased for me by my husband) but I wanted something more- something with a little more style and that could be used on and off the bike, had a spot for maps and that didn’t require a trip to the fabric store.

I ended up with this.

The fabric came from some wool overcoats I bought at Goodwill a couple years ago. I was trying to felt wool by throwing it in a hot wash and dryer. A wool sweater felted very well but I haven’t yet done anything with it. The coats shrank and the fabric is not ravelly after the process. It was quite a time consuming process pulling the coat pieces apart.

Wool coat with pieces pulled apart

At the time I wasn’t sure what I would do with them but over the last few months I have decided to try bags. I made this red one from this stash.

Red bag from used wool coat

I loved the idea of using the coats button tab as my fastener because of both how it looked AND the fact that I hadn’t yet figured out the buttonholer on my machine.

As a side note in the future I will be looking at the Goodwill pound store outlet first because the actual coats were on the spendy side at $10 to $15 each.

This bag started out floppy and I wanted it stiffer because I believed that would result in a cuter bag both on and off the bike. I took an empty vinegar jug and cut out the end pieces in this stiff plastic. I then ended up also using vinyl as an inner liner with a thin blue decorative lining.. I am also hoping it will keep the inner contents a bit drier. Can’t wait to try it out. – not the wet part but the riding with it part.

What do you think? Would you use this bag? My husband’s answer was a resounding no but I bet he changes his mind when he sees it in action.

 

ASG Spring Fling

At first I hesitated. The “spring fling” was the day after we got back from a three week trip. Didn’t I need to stay home and catch up? Then I remembered – Catch up for what? I am on a 2 year leave of absence. I can schedule what feel like frivolous things back to back.

I also wasn’t a member of ASG – The American Sewing Guild. 

But a sewing meetup acquaintance had sent me a link to their spring fling and I was trying to learn more and meet new people to see what sorts of opportunities open up. So this wasn’t even really frivolous. I signed up and I am glad I did. I even became an ASG member and hope to attend some local meetings.

Even though I don’t look too happy about it (not sure why – probably tired) the day started off with me realizing this was the perfect place to wear my Michigan dress. And I was right. It was one of the best parts of the event to see what others made for themselves and wore. I even had a young woman (20’s) tell her mom she needed to figure out how to make one. Sewing can be a solitary hobby so it is wonderful to meet others and see what they are doing.

I am happier than I look

I was happy to discover coffee and a mix of healthy and tasty snacks to fuel us up for the day. The event had four speakers who were all well informed, poised and good at giving presentations.

The day began with a presentation where I learned about textile basics, how they are made and where to learn more.

Next up was a hilarious and reality based presentation about padding out a dressform to be your body double.

A former costume maker shared her  embellished wardrobe and brought some beautiful reference books on details. One was on sleeve details and I must say I NEVER imagined there could be so many variations on sleeves, their cuffs etc.

The final presentation was on Draping and  the speaker did an impressive job of thoroughly explaining the process as she draped a bodice with neck detail.

The event was fun. I learned a lot and I won one of the door prizes. What more could you ask for? Do you belong to any online or offline sewing groups? What do you enjoy most about them? How could they improve?

 

 

Focus

This post was started two hours ago and I am just now starting the first sentence. So not only am I having trouble figuring out what to focus on, I am having trouble focusing on what I choose. Since I started I decided to have lunch, manage my airbnb listing and put the laundry in. Now I am back and I promise myself to focus till I finish.

My original thought on focus was that I feel scattered in almost all areas. It is true I have created some priorities: Health through nutritious eating and exercise, learning and travel. It has become obvious to me that outside these priorities I am having trouble deciding what is most important and also how to integrate other interests into these main focuses. I want to do it all!

OR am I using my lack of focus as an excuse for lack of forward movement OR I am sabotaging myself so I don’t “succeed” – whatever that may mean to me OR I just need anxiety in my life.

I say that I want to learn and practice my sewing skills and share them through this blog and sewing meetups. In reality I am so busy traveling, trying to stay in shape and learning about how to share my skills that I am lucky if I find a day a week to sew. Plus now that I have free time I have not said no to many social opportunities.

Then there is the problem of what should I be making? There are so many things I want to try and then there is the looming reality of a trip coming up that involves hiking and biking. And wanting my slopers to be perfect before I use them to create new things for myself. I am back to some of my old habits that lead to less focus.

Spurred on by those distracting % off coupons from fabric stores I decided I needed to go out and get fabric to make a new hiking/biking skirt, two pair of outdoor pants that don’t look like outdoor pants and a couple t shirts that will dry quick and have pockets! And a bike bag to carry misc in on the trip.

My latest shiny objects

Here is my latest pile. 2 yards of fabric in each of 5 colors. Two meant for tops and 3 meant for skirts or pants appropriate for outdoor adventure travel.

I have limited time before the trip. Writing is helping me focus. I am going to make a hiking/biking skirt and a shirt with pockets and a small handlebar bag. Stay tuned. I already am getting unfocused by some more travel opportunities in my inbox.

How do you focus on priorities – or even decide what they are? If you are reading this blog is it helpful or another way to procrastinate?

Trippin and Travelin

Trippin and Travelin

I have been reading about the ten by ten challenge and packing and decided to try it for an rv trip to see our daughter graduate. The total trip time is fourteen days and my closet is ½ of a space the size of a couch cushion plus a drawer the size of a silverware drawer. In addition to traveling clothes I need something to jog in, hike in and bike in so I will be cheating on the 10 x 10 by not including these things nor all the various shoes needed to perform these activities. I am however doubling up on jackets for biking and hiking. Phew.

I chose 2 jackets (including my latest purple london cardi and reversible strip/knit combo, 2 bottoms, 1 dress (for the graduation), 2 pair of shoes and 3 short sleeve or sleeveless tops. I chose a combination of grey, blue and purple. My latest favorite jewelry combination is a pair of silver chain loop earrings, my looped circle silver necklace and a watch with a silver band and coral and turquoise. It all goes together well no matter which items I put on. Fortunately the mirror is small too.

Two for one jacket

A week in and so far so good. There is not a lot of variety day to day but getting dressed is quick and easy. Which is good because there is a lot of time behind the wheel and not much time to waste figuring out what to wear.

How do you deal with packing for trips?