New Year, New (Vague) Goals, and New Toys (aka A Massive Pile of Word-Vomit)

WARNING: What follows here is a very wordy post with a few pictures.

Hello, and Happy New Year!!!

I hope you all had a wonderful (and safe!) New Year’s–2014 feels like it sort of flew by, doesn’t it?!? I’m very glad that the big holiday season is over and am looking forward to getting back to my normal routine starting tomorrow. These last two weeks have been draining, despite the short respite from work; I figured I’d feel well-rested after a little time off, but I just feel exhausted! Too much socializing, probably–your pal Mads is not a social creature.

I thought about doing a year-end round up (albeit a late one) but realized that I think I only completed 6 FO’s in 2014 and that’s not really great fodder for a recap list, is it? (All but one of my FO’s for 2014 are blogged somewhere around here…hopefully an official FO post for the last one is upcoming.) I do have some general goals for the new year ahead though, so I thought I might as well log those for posterity and my more masochistic internet acquaintances. šŸ˜‰

*ahem* GOALS AND SHIT, by Mads:

In 2015, I’d like to spend more time in my sewing space. Sewing or not, I just need to be in there working at my hobby in any way that makes a difference! I would also like to do a better job of sewing things that I need; I made things I really like in 2014, but I made none of the things I could really use. Blouses and tops are #1 on the “need” list. Pants are probably #2. Skirts are okay too, since my wardrobe is generally lacking in the separates department. In 2015, I would like to do a (much, much!!!) better job of restraining my shopping for fabric and, to a lesser extent, patterns. I have way more material than I could sew up in a year, and I need to just knock it off. I’m going to work especially hard on this particular goal; if it’s the only one I really achieve, I’ll be very happy! My final goal for 2015 is to invest in a dress form. I’m not holding out much hope for this one, but it sure would be nice!!


I do not remember what my goals for myself were for last year, apart from one: sew one garment per month. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL.


That didn’t even come close to happening, and I’m okay with that. I work 7 days per week and am kind of being ground into dust by my punishing schedule (which will ease up in May, when I take an indefinite leave of absence from my vintage job in order to rest and spend more time with my family and enjoy my hobbies) so I’m not going to be hard on myself about meeting an arbitrary goal that I set in advance. I’m not really interested in setting a goal of “make X number of things in X amount of time” for 2015; I just want to spend time in my sewing area, even if all I accomplish is cleaning or organizing. Speaking of my sewing area, it’s about to get interesting in there because…

New (to me) sewing cabinet!

New (to me) sewing cabinet! Also, a Tycho.

…I got a new toy! The original machine from this cabinet–a Bernina Record 830–is not present, but that’s okay. I only wanted this piece for the storage and workspace options. The dimensions of the opening should allow me to use it with my machine without an issue. Here’s what she can do:

77" of horizontal workspace!

77″ of horizontal workspace!

Storage for feet AND thread

Storage for feet AND thread (please excuse the cat hair…)

I’m hoping that this cabinet will allow me to move permanently from the dining table in terms of my machine setup. I plan to continue working out of our dining room and to keep my cutting station on the big table, but this will free up at least 2 seats worth of space there so that we can sit down and eat if we want. (This came up during the holidays, when I had to clear off two places at the table so we could sit down and eat our fucking roast turkey breast that I spent every 15 minutes for approx. 4 hours basting!) But until I can move things around all over the house (wish I was kidding about that…), this sewing cabinet is hanging out in our living room and won’t be used just yet. The cabinet dates to about the 1980s. It’s not the greatest thing in the world or the most state-of-the-art (the machine lift is the kind that tips over as opposed to an electric straight up and down lift) but for $40, it is a great piece of starter sewing furniture.

I have other exciting sewing news, too: I just put a down-payment on a brand new machine!!!!!!! (This made me very excited and also very nauseous.)

Janome Horizon Memory Craft 8200QC (image courtesy of Janome)

Janome Horizon Memory Craft 8200QC (image courtesy of Janome)

After what happened with Tom’s Cooper backpack and my Magnolia, I decided it was time to start thinking about a machine upgrade. I want to be able to sew jeans, coats, more bags, and whatever the fuck else I decide I want to make and not have to worry about whether or not my machine can handle it. I initially thought I’d end up with a Pfaff (the Ambition 1.0) but decided that I wanted to give the quilt shop who donated my Magnolia as the grand prize in that raffle over a year ago a chance to get my business as a paying customer. I was absolutely awed by the Horizon Memory Craft 8200. Awed. The presser foot lifts up extra-high, the motor is much stronger than my machine’s, the harp is much bigger, and it comes equipped with many more features than I am used to having. It also has the AccuFeed system, which is the entire reason I even demo’d a Pfaff. I had planned to test the Janome 6600, but it lacks the free-arm capability that I have come to rely upon for sleeves and necklines and other such tasks, so I didn’t even sit down at that one. I vastly preferred the 8200 to the Pfaff I tried out; the price point is higher, of course, but I’m getting enough additional functionality over my current machine AND the Pfaff I considered that I know I won’t outgrow this one for a very, very long time. I also don’t have the learning curve with the 8200 that I would have had with the Pfaff, since I am used to Janome’s layout and all that jazz. After considering all those things, I cast my vote (i.e., dollars) in favor of the 8200.

I was able to get the 8200 for only 57% of MSRP, but that was still WAYYYYYYYY more than I had anticipated spending. Which is why it’s on layaway. šŸ˜€ The quilt shop offers no-cost, take-as-long-as-you-fucking-want layaway, so it was a no-brainer to do it that way. I’m beyond anxious to bring that machine home (as I’m sure many of you understand) but I also need to be a good adult, so I’m doing what I can, when I can on that. And yes, I made sure the dimensions of the cabinet will accommodate the new machine! *insert happy dance here*

Next up in the “New Shit at The ‘Mads’ House” department, there’s this:

New skirt--vintage Simplicity 1281 strikes again!

New skirt–vintage Simplicity 1281 strikes again!

Handpicked lapped zip

Handpicked lapped zip + linen close-up

Apologies for the wrinkles–this linen is some of the worst fabric I’ve ever worked with but this skirt has already been worn 4 times since I finished it on xmas eve, and I haven’t pressed it after its most recent jaunt. This is the aforementioned unblogged FO from 2014, and it is most definitely worthy of its own nice-looking post, complete with unwrinkled photos. This is my third version of vintage Simplicity 1281; I took this one to mid-thigh and left off the suspenders. The material is a great weight for this pattern, but apart from probably making a Cooper bag for myself, I will not be using it for anythingĀ else regardless of how much extra yardage I have left over. It has beenĀ that much of a pain in my ass.

So there you have it: my very vague goals for 2015, and an update on what the actual fuck has been going on in these parts since my last post. I’m excited to share another year of occasional successes, shockingly frequent mishaps, and somewhat regularly scheduled programming (aka unintelligible ramblings) with all of you–thanks so much for reading this junk! ā¤

Mads vs. Glazed Linen, Round 2

Good Morning!

Thanks to a planned cut-back in my hours at my second job and a well-timed wife-less outing on the part of my spouse, I was able to venture into my sewing area last night. (Well, let me amendĀ that: I was able to venture into my sewing area to WORK rather than just add new patterns or fabric or someone else’s circa-1950s UFOs to my sewing area and then back away slowly…)

My original plan was to start a muslin of my much-beloved vintage pants pattern, which I have never gotten around to messing with since it came to me many months ago. But then it occurred to me that I had never gone back to the black glazed linen version of vintage Simplicity 1281 that I’d tried to make a while ago, and I felt guilty and blah blah blah. So after about 5 minutes of frantic digging and hunting, I found the rest of the linen and started ironing. (I. FUCKING. HATE. IRONING.)

I wasĀ really careful when cutting this time–didn’t want any stupid mistakes like the last time I attempted this project, or the time before that…

After cutting 4 measly pieces of fabric, it is clear to me that I 1) need to lift more weights or 2) need a new blade for my rotary cutter, because I had to basically retrace my cuts for theĀ whole first piece and then make sure I pressed really hard for the last 3. I mean, this linen is beefy, but this seemed unnecessary.

I sometimes (okay, often) wonder what the fuck I was thinking when I made past decisions. I think I ordered 4 yards of this linen, which is about 60″ wide. My original plans for it were a sheath dress (thank hell I decided against that…) or a pencil skirt and jacket, neither of which would have required nearly that much yardage (thanks, acquired sewing knowledge!). So not only have I now cut 2 skirts out of this stuff, here is what is STILL LEFT OVER:

One actual fuck-ton of linen, coming right up...

One actual fuck-ton of linen, coming right up…

Plenty for a jacket, so I guess that part of my original n00bĀ plan will come to fruition. And once that is done, I am probably setting the remaining bits of this fabric on fire because I am just over it and its abundance and its linen-y-ness. OVER. IT.

In interesting (well, to *me*, anyway) sewing developments, that joke above about other people’s vintage UFOs wasn’t a joke at all. A lady brought lots of her mother’s hand-made vintage clothes to the shop a couple weeks ago, and her mother was very excited to learn that we all sew; her daughter returned with piles of sewing patterns and several unfinished projects in tow. Most of the patterns were circa-1970s but I did take a few home. The UFOs were all from the 50’s, and were wool. Very finely made, even in their incomplete states. I was given custody of the UFOs, and they’re hanging out until I feel brave/stupid/worthy enough to attempt to finish them. Apparently my house is now the Mads Home for Wayward Sewing Bits and Bobs…

Anyway, this skirt will be the first item of winter sewing for me this season–have any of you (in the Northern Hemisphere) started winter projects? Or are you just cuddling your winter-weight fabrics for warmth?

And Suddenly, The Wild Beast of Ambition Appears!

I’ve been MIA online lately due to a busy meatspace schedule, but here’s an update!

You may remember me flapping my gums about this pattern a few months ago:


Vintage Simplicity 1281

I never got around to starting on this one like I meant to, having gotten distracted by other projects. BUT! Not only have I finally gotten this pattern out of the envelope, I’ve actually started sewing it in my fashion fabric. BEHOLD!


It’s inside-out and not fully ironed, but you get the idea!

I’m really excited about this project right now. Mostly because we’ve been drafted for family photos next weekend, and our instructions are to wear black and/or grey, plus an accent color. The other instruction was to keep it casual. These restrictions pretty much left me with jeans (I’ve even got a pair in grey!) and a black jumper, but I refuse to be photographed in those things (I only wear skinny jeans, and am not comfortable having every outline of my lower body photographed, and the black jumper rides up the moment I move in it, plus is too big in the tummy region). Naturally, this created a bit of a problem for me in terms of wardrobe. And then I remembered this pattern and fabric, and I decided I would wear this–just as soon as I finished making it, anyway.Ā 

This is a serious time-crunch project: I decided to make it on Monday this week, and the photos are happening next weekend. But given how much progress I’ve made after just one sewing session, I’m feeling optimistic. My obstacles will be a lapped zipper (UGH UGH UGH) and making sure the straps are an appropriate length. I need to cut about 3-4″ off of the bottom of the skirt as is before hemming, because I do not want a long skirt. It’s hanging up for now to let the bias grain stretch; don’t want to ruin all my hard work by not doing this step!

I’m curious, y’all: what’s the tightest deadline you’ve ever given yourself for a start-to-finish sewing project? Did you get it done in time? Were you happy with the finished result?

Up next in the “Mads” House: finishing vintage Butterick 7131

I’m trying to get motivated to finish a project that’s been sitting around my dining room for over 2 months, but I just can’t focus! I keep getting distracted by other ideas. It may be partly due to the fact that the dress I’m working on is a Fall kind of thing, which means that wearing it now isn’t really a great idea. (Ohio gets gross in the summer, and this thing has long sleeves!) But here are a few pictures of it as-is, because why not? =)


Front view; please forgive the gross Keds!


Going to have to take about 4 inches off the hem on this one!

The pattern is a vintage Butterick–7131, to be exact. This was my first attempt at anything other than hemming a RTW dress, and it has a lot of beginner mistakes. First, and most importantly, I absolutely did not select a good fabric for the dress. It’s the exact same stuff that I used for my Hawthorn but in a different color; it’s an amazing fabric but is too light for this pattern. (If you’re so inclined, you can check out the fabric here. It comes in damn near every color, and it’s a dream to work with! I’ve got three more colors of it in my stash–2 future blouses and 1 future dress!) Second, I was too excited or stupid (or both) to be careful when pinning and sewing, and some of the darts are sewn down in the wrong direction. One of the side seams is slightly off from the waist to the skirt, the zipper could have been picked closer to the teeth, and so on and so on. The neckline is also a little uneven, and I did not do the facings at all because I couldn’t figure them out to save my life. So the entire neckline has been an exercise in improvisation. Using the experience gained from my Sorbetto adventure, I’ll be doing an exposed bias facing to finish it off. Hopefully I can even it up a bit as I go. I attempted to put this dress on Alice yesterday, only to have the top of the side seam pop a little bit. I don’t struggle to get the dress over my own head, so I’m not sure what’s wrong. Alice may not survive her probationary period if this keeps up!

I’ve already got my next project planned, I think: vintage Simplicity 1281, View 2, minus the ribbon embellishments and random saddle piece bridging the two straps. I’ll be making it short, too–that’s way too much skirt for me! We’re going mid-thigh up in here. šŸ˜‰


Suspenders are always a good choice

I’ve got a great bottom-weight cotton twillĀ from Gorgeous Fabrics for this project, and can’t wait to start it. I’ll have to see how I do with letting the hem hang overnight–another first!

What are you all working on at the moment? Clearing out your summer queue for Fall sewing, perhaps? I know that my head is positively swimming with ideas, but I seem to have no time to make anything! My immediate goal is to get the bias binding pinned around the wrong side of the neckline on the Butterick dress. Baby steps, right?