Shake It Up

First, let me start off by apologizing for the quality of the pictures this time around. Caffeine and cameras (especially on macro setting) don’t mix. Reference

Progress is being made on the socks:

Socks in progress

The second Taiga sock is started with the color progression matching that of the first sock (after rewinding the ball.) The Pro Natura sock is about to get the heel done on it (I think. I have to measure first, which means finding my tape measure, which is somewhere in the vicinity of my sewing machine.)

And here is one of Mr. Penney’s birthday presents from me:

 Mr. Penney’s B-day present

It is merino yarn to make a sweater (I will be doing the knitting, not Mr. Penney.) It is dyed with natural dyes by my friend Juanita. She, and a few other members of the Warped Weavers, have a booth (or tent) at the MSWF, and while there this year, I was constantly asking Mr. Penney what colors he was attracted to. Finally, he came across the red and the green here and said that this is what he liked. Unfortunately, the actually skeins that he chose were part alpaca, which I have no problem with, but give Mr. Penney unpleasant flashbacks. (A blog entry for another time.)

I went back to Juanita’s tent the next day and found that she had the same colors in 100% merino, so I picked  up all that she had in those colors, plus some neutrals so help separate the complementary colors some. I am thinking that this might be a zip front, argyle sweater; but I will have to consult with Mr. Penney, as he is the one that will be wearing it.

And, as promised, here is Bogey’s new bedding:

Bogey’s new bedding

It figures that this is the one really clear picture, being that there is dog hair all over the thing. Granted, it is no great shakes, as far as sewing skills go, but I did do French seams to avoid fraying everywhere; and it is my first time sewing in a zipper. I am trying to work up my skills to the point that I will be able to make myself a dress shirt. (The curtains aren’t really that hard to do, since it is all straight lines. It is just a matter of awkwardness with all of the material lying there.)

After: Dining room curtains

Woohoo! Another item off of Mr. Penney’s list. (Mr. Penney is quite the keeper of lists, which is, admittedly, helpful in getting things done.)

Here are the curtains for the dining room, photos courtesy of the better photographer of the two of us:

Dining room curtains - full shot Left curtain Right curtain Tieback detail Fabric detail

These are considered relaxed rod pocket curtains. I used the same reference books to make these as I did for the living room curtains. Since these were the curtains that I initially started out on before figuring out that they were not going to be full enough, I had quite a bit of ripping out to do before I could start sewing again. I also had the task of matching up the pattern that runs along the stripe, which gave me a little pause as I was joining the fabric widths using french seams. It all came through in the end.

 Mr. Penney likes them as well, but insists that we will be buying the curtains for the rest of the house….

After: Living room curtains

Well, one down, one to go.

Living room curtains

I finished up the living room curtains last week. Now that they are done, there is quite the sense of relief. Originally, I was just going to make rod pocket curtains, but Mr. Penney originally requested tab tops. After some consideration, I went with the tab tops because I thought it would help bring down the formality of the fabric used.

I used the instructions for two different books to figure out how to make these. The first book is Sewing for the Home. It was really the only one that I needed to make these; but I got the second book, The Complete Photo Guide to Curtains and Draperies: Do-It-Yourself Window Treatments, because I thought it would help Mr. Penney visualize what I was trying to do. I am not sure that it did. In any case, he is also pleased with the result; and that is all that matters.

I must say, that after doing these, this is not something that I will feel the urge to do again. I wouldn’t shy away from it if I thought it was the only way to get the curtains that I want, but can’t say that the experience was a whole lot of fun for me. Dealing with all of that fabric at once is kind of a pain. Maybe I just need more practice, which I will be getting with the dining room curtains, that I am currently ripping out the seams from.

Work in progress: So what about those curtains

Well, things have not quite gone as planned. I made the first set of curtains for the dining room; but after I made them, both Mr. Penney and I were not satisfied with them. They just weren’t as full as they should be.

So, before I went off to make those for the living room, I called up Alexander Blank Fabrics and asked whether it was possible to get the same dyelot for the decorator fabrics that I bought from them. To my amazement, the answer was, “We can try.” It turns out they keep a record of these things just for these kind of events.

It turns out though that the original source for the fabrics (RM Coco) did not have anymore. I didn’t realize that our choices in fabric were so popular!

But all was not lost. The purchasing agent for ABF went through all of their other books for their other providers and found matches for my fabrics from other vendors. She order cuttings so that I could compare them to what I already have, and “Presto!” we have more fabric for the drapes. I really can’t say enough good things about Alexander Blank Fabrics at this point because of the service that they have shown me. I would recommend them to anybody, without reservation.

I just ordered the additional fabric, so while I am waiting for that to arrive, I am sewing the linings for the living room curtains and about to rip out the hems from the dining room curtains so that I can start over. Can’t say that I am looking forward to ripping out the hems, but I believe we will be happier in the long run if I just go by our original vision for the rooms.

Before: Making curtains

Dining room before curtains

Living room before curtains

This is one of the my big projects, making curtains for the living room and dining room. I just got the fabrics last week from Alexander Blank. They are very helpful there, pulling out books of swatches for me to look through and answering any questions that I have about making the curtains. I hope to have both rooms done by the end of the month. Wish me luck!

What I got for Christmas

Merry Christmas to me

Ooooooh! Aaaaaah!

This is what Mr. Penney got me for Christmas (among other things.) Ain’t he sweet!

I did a fair amount of research on this before buying. When I originally asked for a sewing machine for Christmas, I did not anticipate the price we were going to pay for one. I figured a simple sewing machine that was in the $200 range would be it, but nooooooo. Because one of the main reasons that I wanted the machine was to sew hems in warp-face rugs, the machine need to be able to go through dense layers of fabric that the machines in that price range just could not handle. Believe me, I tried all of the machines at Sears, and not one of them could go through the sample weaving that I brought with me to each store. So I narrowed my search to these brands: Viking, Bernina, and Pfaff.

Of those, I chose the Pfaff Select 1538. One of the main reasons why I selected this machine was for the IDT, which is the equivalent of a built in walking foot, but without all of the bulk that a separate walking foot has. It also helps that the last few times that I sewed was on my mom’s Pfaff, so I was accustomed to its operation. We got a great price on it from Sew Unique. The people who work there really have a passion for what they do, which was actually a bigger decider in where the purchase was made.

I have made two things with the sewing machine and have had no problems whatsoever with it, though I don’t feel qualified yet to give a full review of it. If you are looking for some good reviews on sewing machines, I would recommend Pattern Review. Most of the reviews are user contributed, and some go into great detail. After reading through a number for each manufacturer, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect from each brand.

Soon, I will publish the examples of this beginning seamster’s (???) work.