Friday, March 30, 2012

Sew Biz in Radford, VA

Okay, it's another fabric store review.  It's been a very busy and stressful couple of weeks and I figured that I needed (and deserved) the break!  Apparently, I felt like I needed (?) and deserved (?) more fabric, too.  Three pieces came home with me on this trip. 

Some members of our local guild will be making a trip to Sew Biz next month, but since I can't and I had to be down that way anyway (sort of), I figured I'd head over and check it out.  It's probably been 12 years, more or less, since I've been here.  It's changed some in that time, adding more quilting fabrics and carrying much less dress and heirloom fabrics.  Still, it's jam packed with fabric, really interesting patterns for small projects, notions, some very interesting threads including silk thread, and other assorted paraphernalia.  I enjoyed browsing and here's what I bought:

Cotton knit.  It's teal and aqua.  While it was being cut, I looked up and saw the beads hanging on the wall behind the cutting table and thought aha!  They match!  Must have!  I'm hoping for a quick and easy top embellished with time consuming beading so I can be slow making this....

I don't know why one of my spots decided to do this when I photographed these, but she did. I've been taking fabric pictures on the living room floor lately and she's never bothered them. But, this time, she thought she needed to. Between that and lots of licking of my face, it was rather difficult to take pics!

Zuzu helping with photographs.  Standing on the fabric is always useful and helpful.

Zuzu wears a harness rather than a collar because she had to have a biopsy on her neck earlier this year.  Thankfully, it was nothing serious!  And, it turned out we liked the harness for her.  Who knew?

Well, here are better photos of the fabrics.  These are rayon batiks.  Again.  I bought one when I was at Ragtime Fabrics.  I liked the color selection at Sew Biz a lot better, so I bought two because I really, really need new summer tops!  Sewing bias tops doesn't take much time at all--it's practically instant gratification except for hemming since it has to hang to do its bias stretch thing.  The prices at Sew Biz were pretty similar to Ragtime Fabrics, a little more for one piece and the same for the other.

Blue rayon batik.  There's not a lot of pattern going on here, but I liked that.  Variety is good.

Greeny/blue rayon batik.
And weird of weird, while I was driving home I glanced down and realized the background on the greeny one matches the blue one.   It's hard to tell that in the picture.   So perhaps this will become a casual outfit rather than 2 tops?  Time will tell.

In conclusion, Sew Biz was fun to browse because it has lots of things to see even though it's mostly quilting.  It has an upstairs which is where I found the rayon batiks.  That's also where they have a small selection of heirloom and smocking supplies which was very nice to see.  They offer a lot of classes (they gave me a schedule) which looked pretty good--I think it's on their web site, too.  It reminded me a lot of Ragtime Fabrics but with more quilting and no home dec.  Really, I think the little stretch of Virginia where I live does have some very nice fabric stores!  All the ones I've been to lately and posted about have been delightful to visit!


So today and tomorrow, as a sigh of relief that the last two weeks are over, I plan to skip school (one of the beauties of homeschooling!), sew, plant, hike, and eat pizza and watch a movie.  Ever tried grilled pizza?  It's good weather for it, so we might have that tonight!  We mostly always make our own and the only hard part about grilled pizzas are that you have to move fast on the grilling!  Thankfully, I don't do that part!  haha!

(If you are interested in our methods for grilling  pizza, we don't really follow the sauce or topping suggestions at Fine Cooking.  Instead, we do our own and use the dough recipe (adding some whole wheat flour to the recipe) and the technique described in Issue #66.  Another tip, less is more on a grilled pizza!  Otherwise, you might have grilling issues.  Certainly, the flavor is more delicious with less on each pizza, too.  Obviously, I cook way more than I sew!)

The plants!  Some phlox for the deer to eat...or hopefully not.  They are deer resistant, so I really hope they pass these by.  They just seem to eat everything around here, even things they aren't supposed to like :(

My current sewing project.  It's McCall's 6469 and it's slow going with the elastic just below the shoulder seams, the floppy fabric, and the dark color--really hard to mark it so I can see so I've used painter's tape and thread markings, but that doesn't take care of everything :(
There we are!  If the above shirt pattern gives me too much more grief, I think I will set it aside and work on either my rayon or knit tops.  I need those whereas the McCall's pattern is long sleeved and in this weather, it's not something I need right now.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Les Fabriques in Charlottesville, VA

Okay, so even though it doesn't seem like I'm sewing at least I'm visiting fabric stores.  I think you can find everything in the world on the internet, but I truly think it's really, really hard to find fabric stores????  I don't know why?  Lately, when we travel, I've tried to find fabric stores to shop and it's hard to find them.  Hence the reviews here.  Maybe they will help someone.  Anyway, our local ASG chapter makes a monthly trip to Les Fabriques in Charlottesville, VA.  If you're in the area, I encourage you to check out their store and their class offerings.  Wonderful for all of it!  So, here's what we did and what I bought while there!

Les Fabriques offers a monthly hands-on class for us, which anyone can attend.  They cost $10 and are worth every penny!  Plus, you get 10% off any purchases while you're there (except clearance stuff which is fair).  This month, we couched silk ribbon onto silk dupioni fabric.  We had small rectangles of pre-embroidered silk dupioni--I have to say that I would never have thought about using pre-embroidered fabric to put yet more embroidery on, but it totally rocks!  Our supplies included rayon thread for the couching, needles, and pearls--some were vintage and cut from necklaces!--and small gold beads.  Our instructor had taken her finished panel and created the most lovely, unique purse with it.  I wish I had taken a picture of it....!  Boo that I didn't because it was stunning.  I would love to try and recreate it with my panel when it's done and I've found some coordinating silk dupioni for the bag.

Not done yet, but I think it will be pretty!

After our class, we browsed the store.  I found 2 pieces of fabric, which doesn't really satisfy my mantra:  Do not add to stash!  However, it is really hard to hold to that when you are with sewing buddies and your creative juices are flowing! 

Blue cotton/lycra for a quick summer top for me!

Light blue silk because it was in the bargain bin at $4.99 per yard.  Nearly 2 yards here, so it was hard to resist this! 

I love going to Les Fabriques.  They carry upscale fabrics and notions, have beautiful displays, lots of good lighting, and a big, open store.  They even have some vintage items interspersed with the fabrics, which are fun to browse.  Who can resist thumbing through vintage sewing patterns?!

While I haven't posted about my sewing recently, I have made an effort to sew almost daily.  Some days I just get a seam pinned and some days I get 2 whole seams sewn!  Slow, like a turtle, but steady.  Eventually, I will have something to show you!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ragtime Fabrics in Harrisonburg, VA

A Review of Ragtime Fabrics:

I think you have to be a certain personality to enjoy shopping here.  Don't get me wrong; there's a great assortment of fabric and trims, but this store is seriously cluttered.  I wish I'd taken a picture of it--lots of fabric in a space not quite big enough to comfortably hold it all! 

Now, the flip side to the large quantity of fabric is that there's plenty to see and choose!  They have everything:  home dec, quilting cottons, silks, denim, wools, and rayon batiks! 

Rayon batiks are hard to find around here, so despite trying not to add to my stash I really wanted at least one of these to make another Bias Top. Quick, easy, and great to wear for summer so it's hard to go wrong with it!

Plus they have lots of the usual polyester stuff you might find at a chain store. As I was leaving, I noticed some fabulous looking trims, but just didn't have the mental energy to look more at them--it's just hard to notice everything here. 

Another downside to Ragtime Fabrics--some of the fabrics don't have their content listed so sometimes it's a guess.  On the other hand, their prices are pretty good.  My batik was about 20% to 30% less than I can find other places.  I also considered an interesting reversible denim piece but couldn't think of what I'd make so you'd see both sides.  They had several wools that I thought about  for my Couture Dress, but in the interest of stash control I didn't buy them since I already have a silk in stash for it. 

So, is it worth the trip?  Most definitely!  Just allow plenty of time to browse with maybe a break so you can absorb everything.  It looks like this month they have an anniversary sale so it's a good time to visit!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mini Bow Tucks Bags

In my efforts to make my sewing room neater and more efficient, I felt compelled to deal with my piles.  It's amazing what does pile up in my sewing room:  mending, fabric acquisitions, UFO's, patterns, odds and ends....

Here's one pile:

It's sitting on a sunny window seat hence the bright spot.  One pair of slacks which needs a zipper repair and 2 mini-bow tucks bags, cut out and ready to assemble.

So, rather than sew up the top that I started cutting out in January, I opted to deal with my pile.  Most of the other piles are gone or shoved into a closet so at least I have the appearance of orderliness.  These Mini Bow Tucks bags were originally intended as Christmas gifts, but due to lack of recipient enthusiasm I lost sewing enthusiasm and decided I didn't feel like making anything for anybody any more.  haha  I've made a couple of these bags before (here and here) and they are relatively quick and very easy to put together (except for the quilting part--just my opinion, but I hate that part!).

I used a double button, layering a smaller red button on top of the large navy blue button since it matched better than anything else I had....

The above version is sewn per the pattern instructions for the handle length which is really short.  The next one, I made longer handles which does distort the proportions but fits better over the shoulder.

And, finally one tip about these bags.  Instead of using the tag board or cardboard stuff they suggest for inserting into the bottom to keep the structure, I use plastic needlepoint canvas and cut it to size.  It's washable by hand and easy to cut and insert.  A fellow ASG member told me about that and it was a great suggestion!

Now, while I don't feel like giving these bags away as gifts, I will probably donate them to our ASG fundraiser in November.  We're having a silent auction of handmade items.  Seems like a great opportunity to do some Christmas shopping!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Craftsy Class

I signed up for my first class after hearing about them from a friend.  I hadn't heard much at all about Craftsy, but I have to say that I'm really lovin' it!  I am taking Susan Khalje's class, The Couture Dress.  At the national ASG conference in Atlanta in 2012, I took Susan's Little Black Dress class.  I thoroughly enjoyed that and learned quite a bit.  This is similar, but has lots more detail.  Plus, one huge advantage is being able to view the videos as often as you want and take notes online while you're watching it.  It's the greatest, neatest thing!  You can also ask questions and Susan responds quickly (a day or less).  It's interactive so that others can chime in with questions and answers of their own.  For an online class format, it is wonderful.  So much better in terms of format than any other online format that I've taken.

Optimally, I should be sewing along with the videos, but one of the super nice things about these classes is that I can work at my own pace and the videos and q&a are always available to me!  If I need to stop working on this and want to pick back up in five years or so, I can do that and it's all still available to me!  How great is that?  Anyway, there is one pattern that you get with the class fee which I will use for my dress.  Susan also makes four other suggestions for patterns.  I have a fellow ASG member who has opted to use one of the other four. 

Here's the pattern that you get with your fee, mailed to you from Vogue.  Mine came really fast!

Class pattern

An alternative class pattern suggestion
Altogether, there are 3 of us locally who are taking this class and we hope to work together to keep us motivated and help each other with fitting!  There's also the fun factor of getting together with sewing friends! 

After signing up for this class and watching a video segment or two, Kenneth King had a class appear, Jean-ius!, so I bought that one, too.  Besides, Craftsy sent me a half off offer for signing up for my first class.  How could I resist?  It's a great deal, plus I can start this one later...after I make my couture dress! 

I still have another project that I'm working on and haven't really delved into this one yet, so more later!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Another Intermission

As we did last year, we made another batch of tie dyed t-shirts for our family's annual trip to Walt Disney World.  This year, we tied our own shirts except for the hidden Mickeys on these (last year, dh did it all).    My dh is good at them, so he put one or more on each shirt.  Oldest dd got one mailed to her while we were gone as a surprise. 

After last year's faded dye look, I emailed Dharma Trading and asked about handling tie dye in a front loading washing machine.  They answered that the only thing to do differently would be to do a brief soak in very hot water in the sink using Synthrapol, then washing in the machine per the directions on a very long cycle.  Well, I guess I really wanted to NOT have the faded look again so I must've used a lot more dye in the dye soak.  These are really dark and unless the tied places were super tight, the dye bled through.  Needless to say, dh wins the prize in tying tightly...and irritatingly.  He had his wrapped around 2 PVC pipes which I don't even want to think about because let's just say that I had dye all over the kitchen with that set up!

Here they are:

From top left:  oldest dd, dh, youngest dd
Bottom: ds, mine--it had some embroidery on it which didn't dye but looks kinda neat that way.
For those who don't know and are interested, you can read more about hidden Mickeys here.