Tag Archives: fabric

This Taffeta Is Cursed

Remember when I ordered that Casa Collection in the beautiful, discontinued Cornflower? That was late Saturday evening. There were 4 yards in stock. I ordered all of them. Today, I got this email from JoAnn:

2014-02-06-joann_taffeta_email

What the what, JoAnn? I ordered this stuff 4.5 days ago, and you’re just now discovering that it’s out of stock? Perhaps unfortunately, I also stopped in at the store and picked up the last bit they had in stock in their Red Tag clearance section (42″). What does one do with 42″ of fabric? I was going to use it to make slightly taller sections of blue on my color blocked curtains, or to make coordinating pillows, but that seems silly now.

Newest idea: White curtains with (excessively?) thin blue trim at the bottom edge.

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Taffeta Woes

What do you do when you learn that the fabric you have set your heart on is *gasp* being discontinued? Commence with the melodramatic commentary.

My curtains are RUINED! The color scheme for my living room is in shambles. The necessary monetary funds for this project continue to multiply, while my budget grows ever smaller, dimishing into a pile of NO MONEY AT ALL.

*Ahem* Now that that is done with…

I visited JoAnn Fabric on Friday, after photographing my living room furnishings, and compared my photos to several different fabrics in person. This confirmed that the Party Taffeta was not available in the right color, but made me reconsider the Casa Collection Taffeta in cornflower. I had originally thought it would be too stiff, and didn’t like any of the colors that I’d seen, but I found about a yard of cornflower in the red tag fabrics and fell in love. It looked lovely with the textiles I already have in the room, but it shifted things away from green and toward blue, just like I wanted. It made everything bright and inviting without being trendy or overly bold. I also liked the Country Classic Solids in sprig green, medium blue, and light blue (apologies for these not corresponding to colors listed online; I’m not sure which ones they are either), but I’m still pretty sure I want a taffeta for the sheen when everything else in this place is so flat.

Seeing as the fabric was available in such a small quantity, I asked the woman at the cutting counter what my options were. She was very helpful, letting me know that special orders need payment same day, so you can use coupons on them (Seriously? How did I not know this before? This is awesome!), but since the fabric was in the red tag section of the store, my best bet for a good deal would be to order online (where it was still listed as regular price) and be able to use a coupon, even if I had to pay shipping.

Next issue: Casa Collection Taffeta comes on 8 yard bolts. I need yardages that evenly divide into 4 1/2 yards. I called JoAnn’s customer service to ask about their policy regarding splitting yardages on orders that were more than one bolt (I needed 18 yards total), and, after some looking things up, discovered that Casa Collection Taffeta in cornflower is being discontinued. There were 4 yards left in the online warehouse, and if I wanted to drive an hour, I could maybe pick up the last 8 yard bolt at another JoAnn store location, but they couldn’t guarantee that the store would even have it any longer.

(See previous teeth-gnashing and anguish for my reaction here.)

So… Color blocked curtains? If I order some cobalt and white fabric as well I can do something like one of these:

curtain_mockup_light-dark-white

curtain_mockup_thindark-light-white

curtain_mockup_dark-light-white

Do I really like any of them? I’m not sure. I ordered the cornflower taffeta ($17 for 4 yards, including shipping, using a 50% off coupon), because I really love that color. Maybe it will be some pillows or a dress eventually; maybe it will go into curtains; maybe it will sit in my fabric stash for years and I’ll take it out to pet on occasion.

What do you think? Are color-blocked curtains too trendy? Will I hate myself for hacking this fabric up into 1 yard segments? Or will I love having at least  bit of it hanging in my living room?

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Creating a craft supplies nook (and generally getting settled into my new apartment)

Lately, I’ve been working to settle in to my new apartment. I moved in last month. I managed to fit all of my belongings (less the things that were at the Gentleman’s apartment from his amazingly generously letting me stay at his place while I got moved to the Cities) into a 10′ U-Haul truck. No kidding. That’s everything.

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My lovely friend and her boyfriend helped with everything from driving the truck to loading and unloading; there were an absurd number of freight elevator trips in both the storage unit building and the new apartment building. We were incredibly graceful throughout the whole process. This is how ballet dancers move things, people. I should start a moving company and charge for the show as well.

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Of course, this was in the middle of Nutcracker season, and I quickly found out that I would be performing in The Nutcracker with my new studio, despite the fact that I am “retired.” (Query: Is a professional ballet dancer ever truly retired?) My parents were in town for Nutcracker and Christmas, and being onstage with the Gentleman again was lots of fun.

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I had the rest of winter break to recover, and then the insanity started.

I am one of a handful of teachers at the studio where I am teaching now, and one of only three who are there 6 days per week. One of us three had a baby two weeks ago, and is now on maternity leave. The second (my boss) went on a surprise “babymoon” that her husband planned so they would have one last hurrah before she gives birth in April. In these past two weeks, we’ve had three snow days on top of the crazy sub situation created by maternity leave and vacation time. It has been nuts. And on top of it all, I’m still putting together my new apartment.

It’s a great place. It has some crazy columns (stay tuned for colorful plans for those), lots of kitchen storage and counter space (more than twice what I had in my old place), a huge living room, and it’s generally awesome. Here’s that amazing kitchen before I moved all my stuff in and it got all messy:

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The Gentleman helped me unpack. He was thrilled to take bubble wrap off the myriad dishes, glasses, etc. that I have.

2013-12-02-kitchen_unpacking

Now that I’m finally all moved in, my head is full of projects to make my space work. First of all, I need a dedicated craft space. I haven’t had one since I moved out of my parents’ house and had essentially a whole room in the finished basement. Obviously, that’s not happening, even in a large one bedroom apartment. My plans involve curtaining off the far wall of my living room and setting up shelving so I can pull back the curtains and have access to all of my craft supplies, or close them and have a neat and tidy space.

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Obviously, this plan does not account for the massive amount of mess that I always have everywhere (hello, dirty dishes on the kitchen island, I’m looking at you), but I’m thinking that having an epic amount of storage that I can just close the curtains on should help with that too. (I promise I won’t put dirty dishes on the storage shelves and close the curtain on them. I just may have more kitchen counter space if I’m able to dump all my sketches, paperwork, magazines, etc. somewhere else.)

In case you can’t tell, this is a HUGE wall. It’s 11′ wide, 12′ tall. For my shelving unit, I wanted something simple, sturdy, tall, and able to fill as much of the space as possible in one unit. I was originally thinking of using the wire shelves I have on hand, but they’re nowhere near big enough for this job. They’re loaded up with paper crafting supplies and sewing notions, but I still have bins stacked up in my bedroom.

On top of wanting large shelves, I quickly decided that, since I’m renting and not allowed to screw anything into the walls, it would be easiest to use the shelves to help support the curtains that will cover them. I’d originally thought to create a steel pipe curtain rod and support, but that would be ridiculously expensive. So I started looking at wire shelves that I could possibly hook a curtain rod onto. Those were just as ridiculously expensive, and none were quite the right height.

Luckily I live in a city that has an IKEA store. This configuration of Ivar shelves looked perfect. After a few weeks trying to figure out how to fit a 132 1/4″ shelving unit into a 132″ space, I remeasured and determined that the space is actually 132 3/8″ wide. Let’s hope IKEA’s listed measurements are precise!

Ivar comes up to about 8″ below the top of the cabinet over the fridge, so I’ll use a couple of extra wood uprights to help lift the curtain rod (probably a piece of electrical conduit) up to the ceiling. I’ll be making back-tab curtains that reach from ceiling to floor. For this space, that’s a lot of fabric (27 yards if it’s 54″ wide), so if anyone wants to suggest a good place to find cheap taffeta in a light teal-ish color, I’d be grateful. Current top picks are from JoAnn (although I’m not thrilled with the color choices in my favorite fabric of theirs, the Party Taffeta), Fabric.com (Softline Netherwood Taffeta, Crestmont Lustra Sateen Twill in Sky (too light?) and Teal (too dark?), Two-Tone Taffeta in Dark Teal (too bright?), and Microfiber Twill in light blue), and Mood (Bluestone Silk Taffeta which is way too expensive but my absolute favorite, and this cotton twill shirting which is likely too matte).

And, of course, as soon as I’m done with this massive storage wall and curtains thing, I’m thinking of building a bed frame. Stay tuned to see if I ever get around to that. I have sketches, so it’s promising. (Disclaimer: The previous statement was written by a perpetual dreamer who is far too in love with the planning process of any project and rarely actually finishes things.)

2014-01-28-bedframe_sketch

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Organize All the Things

My apartment is a wreck.  First up, the books.  There just isn’t enough space for all of them.  There are books on the shelves of the bookcase, books stacked on top of the bookcase, and books stacked in front of the bookcase.  There are also books sitting on my desk, books sitting on the sewing table, books next to my bed, and books all over the living room.  If I didn’t agonize over the purchase of each and every one, or keep perfect track of the books from the library, I’d swear they spawn.  The shelves are literally bowing under the weight.

The next issue is the knitting stash. It used to fit in two small under-bed storage bins, which don’t actually fit under my bed, but lived in the front closet. It spilled over into another, larger bin, which is really supposed to be for extra bedding. (In my defense, I didn’t actually buy that much more yarn.  The majority of the Great Stash Expansion of 2006 was just my liberating some of my high school era stash and Granny’s stash from my parents’ house.)

Then I got a large photo backdrop that didn’t have anywhere logical to go, so it joined the yarn and bedding. There wasn’t room for any more yarn, so my most recent additions are stacked on my desk. The extra bedding got shoved (semi-neatly) into the upper part of my bedroom closet, which meant that a large part of the fabric stash had to get removed to the living room to make room. As I got more fabric, it got stacked next to the existing pile, making an ever bigger pile in one corner of my living room. It’s also mixed in with supplies for a dress form that I haven’t gotten around to making yet; I need an assistant.

I also ran into problems when I bought my sewing machine and accessories this summer. For one thing, I drastically increased the amount of fabric that I have (see fabric pile above), and for another, the thread, seam rippers, machine needles, presser feet, bobbins, zippers, bias tape makers, pin cushions, and cutting tools exploded out from the small shelf that had previously held them. They’re currently stacked on top of the shelves in some nice boxes, and some flimsy plastic bins originally used to hold salad. A large faction have taken up residence on the sewing machine table, and don’t have anywhere else to go.

My dance clothing has always been an organizational hurdle. I have tens of leotards and pairs of tights, because I wear them in mass quantities. Then I have the wrap skirts, pants, fuzzy pants, shoes, more shoes, legwarmers, sweaters, and even more shoes. To go with these, I have a foam roller, back roller, foot roller, massage balls of varying size and density, Band-Aids, extra deodorant, industrial strength toenail clippers, baby powder, shoe deodorizers, extra pointe shoe ribbons and elastic, special needles and thread, assorted Thera-Bands, Icy-Hot, Badger Balm, ice/heat packs, and the list goes on. They currently reside in cloth bins next to the front closet, but these bins constantly get mixed up when I go digging for the particular warm-ups or shoes that I want.  They’re full to overflowing right now, even with many of the warm-ups in the laundry or in my bag at the studio.

(Yes, there is a bottle of dish soap sitting next to the dance clothing.  No, it doesn’t belong there.  It’s just taking a rest on its stressful trip home from the grocery store.  I wouldn’t want to traumatize the poor thing by forcing it out too soon.)

It’s gotten to the point that this requires action. My plan:

  1. Get under-bed bins to hold all of the yarn.  You heard me, yarn.  I said, “all.”
  2. Organize the bedding into the bins freed up by the above yarn organization.
  3. Get some wire shelves to hold the fabric stash, and a sheet or a simple cover to protect against dust.
  4. Get an over-the-door shoe organizer to hold the dance shoes and small accessories so they don’t end up falling to the bottom of the bins.  Hang it over either the front door or the closet door.  Then, spread out the large accessories and warm-ups into the bins so that I can actually find things.
  5. Get another small bookcase to hold all of the knitting/sewing/craft books to free up space on the original bookcase.
  6. Get actual bins (not flimsy, easily crushable, salad containers) to hold all of the sewing business.

Target had better get ready, because I’m a woman on a mission.  Tomorrow.  Or maybe this weekend.  But definitely before Coppélia opens.

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Distracted Knitter, Bad Sewer

Seamstress?  Sewist?  Whatever it is, the apartment is nowhere near clean enough to cut fabric in, and my Denver Fabrics order is supposed to show up tomorrow.  It’s going to be so sad to get a big box of wool and not be able to do anything with it.

The thing is, I’ve been spending too much time trying out my new knitting style.  I’m still knitting some on my fuzzy pants every evening, but I’m in love with my new way of holding yarn, so I’ve been knitting and ripping little scrap-yarn swatches over and over.  I know it’s pointless, but it’s addicting.  I’ve started to think that I need a new knitting project for all of that excess energy.  New knitting projects don’t require a clean apartment what with balls of yarn being more compact and portable than large pieces of heavy fabric that needs to be pre-washed, carefully dried, ironed or steamed, laid out, marked, cut, and basted before anything really useful happens.

You may recall that one of my current projects is a pair of mock-cabled pointe shoe covers to use as warm ups at dance.  I had bought some Knit Picks Wool of the Andes for them. When it arrived, it seemed strange that I should have so little yarn for such a big project. I then figured out what went wrong: I scrupulously calculated the necessary yardage based on a rough calculation of the gauge that I’d be using and the surface area of the completed project, but I forgot to account for the fact that I, apparently, have two feet.

(I find myself compelled to mention here that I have a degree in mathematics.  I had several very good and entertaining professors, but one of the most memorable moments was when Professor C. walked into class early and heard someone complaining about how this math course was so much harder than previous ones.  Professor C. responded, “This is not math.  Calculus?  Differential equations?  That was math.  This is mathematics.”  So here I say, I’m pretty good with mathematics.  But with math?  Not so much.)

Now, having realized this serious error in the math, I think I should use my pretty purple wool for something else.  I’m considering a beret and a pair of gloves.  I really like the Ashwyn Beret and Meret for lacy options, and the cables on Nine Dwindling Cables, Laurel, and Brambles are very pretty. Then again, the color would look nice with my Cornflower Cowl so I might do some skinny cables like those. Whatever I do, I’ll either be finding or making a matching glove pattern. I’m bad at making decisions. Feel free to tell me what to do or offer more pattern options.

(Also, am I the only one who feels like a creepy stalker type when I comment on another person’s blog?  It’s like offering unsolicited advice to a stranger on the street, but from even further away, which is somehow worse.  “Oh, hello.  I just reached through the internet to spy on you and comment on your life.  Have a nice day!”  Conversely, I love it when I get comments from random people whom I’ve never met before.  Maybe I’m just too socially awkward for this whole interacting-with-other-people thing.)

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Plaids, Linings, Buttons

I ended up ordering the cranberry, olive, pewter, and black plaid wool from Denver Fabrics to use for my winter coat.

I guess one of my goals for this year should be to perfect my plaid matching technique. I know all of the basics, but I can’t remember any project where I actually had to match plaid. I probably just read and assimilated the information from my parents’ old Vogue Sewing or Better Homes and Gardens Sewing Book. I did get pretty good at tailor’s tacks and matching darts on the dress that I made to wear to my cousin’s wedding this summer, so I think I’ll be all right.

I also bought some black lining fabric, and I’ll be using up some ugly yellow fleece as an underlining. The yellow shouldn’t show anywhere, and I need the extra warmth!

I think I’m going to be doing a slightly different collar from either version offered with the pattern, making it wider but keeping the notch, so it’ll be warm but still fall nicely. (I never look good in shawl collars.)

Then comes the question of fasteners. The pattern itself calls for buttons sewn on to the outside, and snaps used as the actual closure. I think I could live with that, but it always looks fake to have the buttons just slapped on the outside since there’s no buttonhole there, and it seems a bit silly. Besides, I have an insane fondness for bound buttonholes and was looking forward to another excuse to use them.

My options here seem to be a) sew the buttons and snaps as recommended in the pattern and take it for granted that no one other than me with notice/care, b) make bound buttonholes and sew the buttons on so that they’re functional, or c) make bound buttonholes, but close them off with scraps of fabric placed behind the buttonhole and stitch the buttons to this piece of fabric and place snaps to act as the actual closure. I’ll probably just stick with option a) since it seems like the easiest both in terms of application (I don’t have to make any bound buttonholes), ease of use (snaps are easier to do up than those silly inside buttons that I never ended up using anyway in my old coat), and the ability to change it later if I don’t like it (nothing is cut, so if I don’t like it and want to try the bound buttonholes, I can).  Plus, if I think it seems silly to sew buttons on when snaps are the real closure, where is the logic in adding fake bound buttonholes to the mix?

Another consideration: I’d like a detachable hood.  I can make a pattern for that with very little issue, but how it’s going to be attached to the coat is up for debate.  The original idea was to have it button or snap on.  If I do that, I need to keep in mind that any precipitation falling on the hood should run off the back of the coat and not down my back.  So, if I have the hood snap on the inside of the coat, I need to have a second collar layer to lie on top of the permanent collar.  Otherwise, I can have the hood attach to the outside of the coat under the collar, and the back of the collar will end up inside of the hood.  With a wider collar, this might get annoying.  Next thought:  What if I make the collar itself detachable?  I can make a wide notched collar, a narrow notched collar, and a hood, all to attach to the same snaps on the inside of the coat.  The only question here would be of structural integrity.  It seems that sewing the collar to the neck edge of the coat should add some strength to that seam, but I think I can achieve the same with facing and topstitching.  Final decision pending.

Now I just need to get my apartment perfectly clean and ready for fabric cutting (a feat in my small space, but the drop-leaf table helps, and I can use my bed if all else fails).  Then on to the muslin with shoulder and collar alterations!

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The Cowls! They Multiply!

I just finished a third cowl from the GAP-tastic Cowl pattern. I’m liking the Wool-Ease yarn, and I hope it holds up well in the wash.

Now, I’m working on a moebius cowl in the same stitch, with the same number of stitches cast on initially, but using Cat Bordhi’s Intro to Moebius Knitting cast on from Youtube. I had a skein each of the reds that I used for the first two cowls left over, so this is what I’m going to do with them.

Last but not least, I picked up two coat patterns at JoAnn’s New Year’s sale, McCall’s 5759 and Vogue 8346. (I also picked up two dress/top patterns. More on that later.)

I have this delightful dilemma where my pattern size is a 12 at the bust, 10 at the waist, and 14 at the hips. I don’t know if you’re aware, but it is exceedingly rare to find those three sizes in one envelope. On top of this, my shoulders are wide and either my shoulder blades stick out or my shoulders slope slightly forward.

I’m going to be making view B from the Vogue pattern. I’ve gotten pretty good at altering things, but I’m definitely going to be spending some time on the muslin for this. It seems pretty tailored, so getting it right is pretty important.

Now I get to find my fabric. Current choices include camel wool, red and black wool, cranberry plaid wool, and grey and black wool, all from Denver Fabrics.

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