Getting Things Sewn Turns 2

Readers,

Yesterday, February 16, meant that another year has gone by and Getting Things Sewn is 2.Two_candles_Happy_bday_0267 (460x386)

In Getting Things Sewn’s second year, the grand total of things I got sewn was…

Zero!

You heard right. Zero.

I did make progress, however.

Let’s take a walk down Sewing Blog Memory Lane and see what has happened since last February 16:

After Jack and I decided to sell our house in Minneapolis, Minnesota and move to Columbus, Ohio I planned my new sewing-space-to-be by zones instead of defaulting to one big storage space.

I got ready for packing and moving by reading a stack of books on decluttering,IMG_5147 (460x345) and learned how to plan my wardrobe reading the newly published Looking Good…Every Day.IMG_5148 (345x460)

I got a good start on a 1959 Vogue jacket, taming ravelly fabric and testing the collar piece

I trimmed closely to the zigzagging without trimming it away.

I trimmed closely to the zigzagging without trimming it away.

and making samples of bound buttonholes

Will it fit comfortably?

Will it fit comfortably?

and the pocket

The pocket is pinned to the front, aligning the stitching box with the one I traced onto the front.

The pocket is pinned to the front, aligning the stitching box with the one I traced onto the front.

before I closed down my basement sewing domain.

I learned about a fabulous trade journal, American Fabrics, that was the highlight of my field trip to the American Craft Council’s library

The hope and optimism of postwar America.

The hope and optimism of postwar America.

(although the corgis did steal my heart).

Penny and Loretta, office dogs and unofficial mascots of the American Craft Council, greeted me.

Penny and Loretta, office dogs and unofficial mascots of the American Craft Council, greeted me.

Our advice columnist, Miss GTS, told a desperate reader how to pack up her UFO to finish later.

Miss GTS says "An UnFinished Object doesn't have to be an UnFun Object!"

Miss GTS says “An UnFinished Object doesn’t have to be an UnFun Object!”

Inventing an intuitive, easy, and painless system, I edited my pattern stash

Duplicates other patterns. ditto, too much design ease, not my style.

Duplicates other patterns. ditto, too much design ease, not my style.

and reported the results.

Weighing in at a slender 5 lbs 4 oz

Weighing in at a slender 5 lbs 4 oz

I went to the Textile Center’s Fabric Garage Sale and bought gorgeous yardage

This was only the beginning.

This was only the beginning.

to pair with my growing collection of vintage buttons.

These translucent buttons seem right for this lighter-weight linen.

These translucent buttons seem right for this lighter-weight linen.

Jack and I bought a house in Columbus

With Kelly, our great real estate agent.

With Kelly, our great real estate agent.

and put our house in Minneapolis on the market.

The cottage is for sale!

The cottage is for sale!

I made a field trip to Lancaster, Ohio to see a show of costumes designed by Edith Head,

A clip from The Big Clock showing Maureen O'Sullivan in her suit with the fetching faux bow.

A clip from The Big Clock showing Maureen O’Sullivan in her suit with the fetching faux bow.

and returned to meet the old girl herself.

Who would have thought?

Who would have thought?

I made a field trip to New York to participate in Peter Lappin’s annual Male Pattern Boldness Day. Peter gets the credit (or blame?) for inspiring me to start my own blog.

I set up my sewing room in our new home, making a floor plan with zones.

Moving paper is easier than moving tables!

Moving paper is easier than moving tables!

With a sewing room, but no sewing community developed yet, I wondered what it would take for me to make progress.

A sewing blogger must wear many hats.

A sewing blogger must wear many hats.

It continued to be clear that I need fitting and pattern-altering help from an expert, and I found one teaching classes at Columbus’s Cultural Arts Center.

Columbus, Ohio's Cultural Arts Center offers classes in painting, metal work, and much more.

Columbus, Ohio’s Cultural Arts Center offers classes in painting, metal work, and much more.

As a bonus, I’ve gotten to meet wonderful classmates who are fast becoming sewing friends.

I continued to want to make beautiful jackets and coats, but more than ever I wanted to make the process enjoyable and not only the result. When I learned about a brand new DVD set about tailoring, I ordered it right away.IMG_6704 (288x460)

Watching Smart Tailoring, I thought it would be both instructive and fun to sew jackets following Kenneth King’s “old school” and “new school methods.” I am gathering my materials

Tailoring canvas and a June Tailor board for jacket-making

Tailoring canvas and a June Tailor board for jacket-making

and tools

 These tailor point scissors are indispensable.

These tailor point scissors are indispensable.

and am about to do the pattern work for my first “old school” jacket.

As I look back over Getting Things Sewn’s second year, I see the predictable disruptions of househunting, house-selling, packing, moving, and settling in. But I also see a very promising beginning to my new local sewing community. I am finding people to say “Wow!” to where I live and online. I’ve come to see that’s essential to building and maintaining my momentum.

I am also finding people to say “How?” to–experts who can inform and nudge me to build my fund of knowledge and experience.

Zero things sewn wasn’t exactly what I had in mind for year 2.

But as for year 3 I’m off to a great start. IMG_6373 (460x308) (2)

If you ask me, there’s nowhere to go but up.

In the elevator of Columbus's great LeVeque Tower, built 1927.

In the elevator of Columbus’s great LeVeque Tower, built 1927.

(Thanks to Cynthia DeGrand for candles photo.)

Setting Up My New Sewing Room

Readers,

My sewing room, occupying the largest bedroom in Jack’s and my new home in Columbus, Ohio, is about 90 percent set up now.  It was fairly easy to plan the layout, and fun, as well.

With my mannequin, Ginger, in our new home.

With my mannequin, Ginger, in our new home.

From my little desk I merely have to turn around to bask in the morning light streaming in from two directions. This morning I’m enjoying a clear blue sky and the last bright leaves of fall.

From my second-floor perch I have been enjoying a spectacular fall in our neighborhood.

From my second-floor perch I have been enjoying a spectacular fall in our neighborhood.

Then, without leaving my chair, I can roll a short distance to my sewing library and survey titles without bending or squinting.

To retrieve a book or magazine I can just roll to my right.

To retrieve a book or magazine I can just roll to my right.

Pulling my pattern catalog from the shelf, I can swivel half a turn to a work table to page through it.

From pattern illustration...

From pattern illustration…

If I think, “Hmm–what fabrics would look great with that pattern?” in no more than an instant I’m unfurling yardage and scattering buttons over it.

...to fabric and buttons pulled from the shelves in the blink of an eye.

…to fabric and buttons pulled from the shelves in the blink of an eye.

From my other chair I can stitch and then swivel to the ironing board to press open a seam–or stand and use my new steamer.

I can lower the ironing board to press while sitting. More often, I press standing.

I can lower the ironing board to press while sitting. More often, I press standing.

As you can tell, I’m thoroughly enjoying the new headquarters of Getting Things Sewn. I am really glad we made a sizeable sewing space a high priority in our house hunt.

However, it took imagination, a leap of faith, and lots of work to transform this into a room I love being in.

Like the rest of the house, my future sewing room was dingy, drab, and smelled like an ashtray.

Like the rest of the house, my future sewing room was dingy, drab, and smelled like an ashtray.

At first, the entire house smelled like a giant ashtray. Everything was in desperate need of freshening up.

The imitation wood-grain Contact paper dated from the 1960s or '70s, probably. Out!

The imitation wood-grain Contact paper in the closet dated from the 1960s or ’70s, probably. Out!

Much of the oak flooring was covered with decades-old carpet underlaid with disintegrating padding.

Pulling up carpet released fibers into the air.

Pulling up carpet released fibers into the air.

Rolling up the last of the carpet, which was at least 30 years old, I think.

Rolling up the last of the carpet, which was at least 30 years old, I think.

Goodbye carpet, and good riddance!

Goodbye carpet, and good riddance!

Removing the crumbling padding revealed oak flooring in decent shape.

Removing the crumbling padding revealed oak flooring in decent shape.

The windows were covered with cheap, unattractive blinds and valances. All the walls were dingy.

These valances and blinds must go!

These valances and blinds must go!

A month and a half before the moving van came, Cynthia (my sister, photographer and now neighbor) and I pulled out the ratty old carpet and padding and pried out hundreds of carpet staples . Jack flew down from Minnesota for a long weekend to paint the whole upstairs, plus the living room, with a potent primer called Kilz.

In one long weekend Jack primed the whole upstairs plus living room. Then he flew back to Minnesota to finish teaching and sell our house.

In one long weekend Jack primed the whole upstairs plus living room. Then he flew back to Minnesota to finish teaching and sell our house.

We had the floors refinished, and they turned out gorgeous!

We had the floors professionally refinished.

We had the floors professionally refinished.

The final coat: wet...

The final coat: wet…

...and then dry and lustrous. The room was beginning to be beautiful.

…and then dry and lustrous. The room was beginning to be beautiful.

July 10, Jack and the moving van both arrived from Minneapolis. Reunited at last!

July 10: the moving van arrived.

July 10: the moving van arrived.

And then we opened lots and lots of boxes.

All our possessions arrived safe and sound, including my fabrics, which had been in the garage for 3 months.

All our possessions arrived safe and sound, including my fabrics, which had been in the garage for 3 months.

Messy!

Messy!

And before we got settled in, we had the exterior walls insulated to save on energy costs in the years to come. There was never going to be a better time to have this done, but waiting for the insulation guys to finish the job required a boatload of patience.

Holes were cut into the exterior walls and insulation blown in.

Holes were cut into the exterior walls and insulation blown in. Then the holes were filled.

All the filled holes had to be sanded and primed. Lots of fun!

All the filled holes had to be sanded and primed. Lots of fun!

As soon as the insulation job was done, Jack set immediately to work painting the sewing room so I could execute my grand plan. It was a fun puzzle to solve. I had learned so much from planning the basement sewing domain in our previous home in Minneapolis, creating a zone for each activity.

Before: an unsightly closet.

Before: an unsightly closet.

After: neat and clean!

After: neat and clean!

The room measurements were 17 feet by 13 feet. I measured my bookcases, metal shelving units, work tables, desk and printer stand, rolling chairs, the ironing board, steamer, and even the base of my mannequin, Ginger–anything that would take up space. On a large sheet of graph paper from Cynthia I laid out the locations of doors, electrical outlets, and windows.

The floor plan.

The floor plan.

From a colorful old file folder I cut out scale representations of all these sewing furnishings and started moving them around my graphed-out room. It was immensely satisfying to do this.

I imagined how much more I would enjoy my sewing room if only I positioned my fabrics to be easily seen from the hallway.  So that decided where I would put my metal shelving units for storing fabrics and buttons.

We set up the metal shelves where we could enjoy seeing the fabrics whenever passing through the hallway.

We set up the metal shelves where we could enjoy seeing the fabrics whenever passing through the hallway. The rest of the arrangement fell into place.

I cut heavy adhesive felt to size to protect our new floors from being damaged by the metal shelves.

I cut heavy adhesive felt to size to protect our new floors from being damaged by the metal shelves.

Then I assigned the rest of the zones I needed: places for writing and planning; consulting my sewing library; cutting and stitching, pressing and steaming; photographing garments on the mannequin, and closet storage.

Writing, planning, and sewing reference along this wall.

Writing, planning, and sewing reference along this wall.

When I first saw how close together my work tables, shelves, chairs and pressing equipment were on my graph, my heart sank. I thought I wouldn’t have enough room to do my work. Then I realized that 90 percent of the time I’d be in here by myself and wouldn’t need much clearance. Plus, I could find this smaller space to be  more efficient than my other, larger space.

In my previous sewing space my most frequently used tools were hung on pegboard or stored in a wide, shallow box on a work table. They were easy to see but often just out of reach, on the other side of a table. Over the years the minutes I spent walking around a table to reach for a hemming gauge or pair of shears resulted not only in lost hours but lost concentration.

I repurposed Elfa file carts to hold frequently used sewing tools, my patterns, and pressing equipment. They fit right under the work tables.

I repurposed Elfa file carts to hold frequently used sewing tools, my patterns, and pressing equipment. They fit right under the work tables.

In a moment of inspiration I saw using our Elfa file carts more profitably to store my sewing tools than our papers. I have filled one with pressing tools and the other with sewing gadgets and my patterns. The carts roll to wherever I need them and stow handily under the work tables.

The Ikea file cart has three drawers, space for hanging files, and enough surface to open a book. It’s awaiting its work assignment.

Someday I'll go through the clippings in that box and organize them in this Ikea file cart.

Someday I’ll go through the clippings in that box and organize them in this Ikea file cart.

My baker’s cart, which holds unfinished projects (and anything else, these days), fits perfectly in the closet. That was lucky. I also use the closet for interfacings, wearable-test fabrics, muslins, threads, notions, rolls of paper, and the serger.

The rolling baker's rack, which holds unfinished projects, fits perfectly into the closet.

The rolling baker’s rack, which holds unfinished projects, fits perfectly into the closet.

The baker's rack rolls out for easy access.

The baker’s rack rolls out for easy access.

The closet stores muslins, sewing project problems, interfacings, fabrics for wearable tests...

The closet stores muslins, sewing project problems, interfacings, fabrics for wearable tests…

...notions, rolls of paper, the tripod, the sewing machine cover, a couple of pillows to recover, and the serger.

…notions, rolls of paper, the tripod, the sewing machine cover, a couple of pillows to recover, and the serger.

What’s left to do?

  • Improving the lighting. I’m making do with a couple of clip-on utility lamps and a five-headed goose-neck floor lamp from Home Depot until I make a plan.
  • Decorating! This room is functional, but it needs personality! Fashion clippings! Swatches! I used a neutral paint color for photography, but I want color, pattern, texture on my bulletin boards.
  • After a seven month hiatus, SEWING!

    The stage is set.

    The stage is set.

Getting Things Sewn is Getting a New Home

Readers,

Last week Jack and I bought a house in Columbus, Ohio that will be the new home of Getting Things Sewn!

With Kelly Myers, the world's most wonderful real estate agent.

With Kelly Myers, the world’s most wonderful real estate agent.

Built in 1958, with the same owners from 1959 to 2013, the house is structurally sound but needs updating. Carpets need to be ripped out and floors assessed for refinishing, and all the walls need paint, just for starters. Everything needs refreshing.

Assisting me in this first round of improvements will be my sister, photographer–and neighbor–Cynthia DeGrand, who will be just two minutes’ walk away!

Our creative spaces being so close together–my sewing space and Cynthia’s photo studio–means wonderful new opportunities to experiment with the subject matter and images for this blog. I have often had ideas for posts but didn’t have the imagination or technical expertise to create the images. Meanwhile, Cynthia has had ideas for composition or modeling, but I was not in Columbus often enough for her to experiment with and perfect even a tenth of those ideas.

With the 764 miles between us reduced to a tenth of a mile, we can easily experiment with indoor shoots, location shoots, documenting sewing processes, and more.

This 13- by 17-foot bedroom enjoys natural light and more warmth than my basement sewing space. (The carpet and window treatments are going.)

This 13- by 17-foot bedroom enjoys natural light and more warmth than my basement sewing space. (The carpet and window treatments are going.)

I will also experiment with designing my new sewing space–or spaces. In Minneapolis I devised a pretty satisfying basement sewing domain, which I wrote about in 2013. In Columbus I will start over in a 13- by 17-foot bedroom, possibly using part of the sizable basement for cutting tables.

I have new local sewing resources to discover: people, classes, supplies, collections, and events, which is exciting, but I also want to keep in touch with the sewing community I cultivated in Minneapolis.

For the last few weeks I’ve been decluttering, packing, cleaning, and painting (lot of painting) in preparation for selling our Minneapolis house. While Jack manages the selling, I’ll fly ahead to Columbus to get some repairs and improvements underway. They will be so much easier to do before the moving van arrives.

I have been impatiently waiting for the day I could say Getting Things Sewn is getting a new home. At last I can. I will be testing everything I’ve learned so far about creating sewing spaces and cultivating new sewing ties and look forward to recording my new adventures.

Goodbye, old sewing space!

Goodbye, old sewing space!

 

 

 

From the Fabric and Button Stashes: New Pairings

Readers,

What would bring out the best qualities in my latest finds?

What would bring out the best qualities in my latest finds?

Among the ridiculously wonderful simple pleasures in my life as a sewer is seeing how my latest acquisitions go together with what’s in my stashes.

These buttons, from a Spitalfields vintage fair in London, work nicely with this Italian linen-rayon.

These buttons, from a Spitalfields vintage fair in London, work nicely with this Italian linen-rayon.

This is often how my projects now start out. I may see a winning combination of a pattern and a fabric. Later (as in minutes, hours, or years) I may see a richer relationship with additional fabrics or with buttons that seem to have been made for each other.

Another option.

Another option.

Many times I’ve had a fabric in my stash that appealed to me and yet didn’t have the right complements to bring out its best qualities, so it remained unsewn. I’ve wondered whether I made a mistake keeping that fabric.

But then, how about these?

But then, how about these?

Then at sales in Minneapolis, like the Textile Center sale, or the Guthrie Theater costume department sale last fall, or at vintage fashion fairs I’ve attended in London, I may discover offbeat finds that partner beautifully with that “orphan” piece. I discover new (to me) relationships of color and texture.

I cut a slit just large enough to be a pretend buttonhole for a closer look.

I cut a slit just large enough to be a pretend buttonhole for a closer look.

Working out these design puzzles is very absorbing. I only wish I were much, much better at it.

This pair says "Summer suit!"  Do I have just the right three-button jacket pattern?

This pairing says “Summer suit!” Do I have just the right three-button jacket pattern?

When I got back from The World’s Largest Textile Garage Sale just over a week ago, I spread out my fabric purchases and started pulling buttons to try with them.

For comparison, another choice.

For comparison, another choice.

Here are some possibilities. Several look very promising.

How would this chunky button look with this chunky tweed?

How would this chunky button look with this chunky tweed?

Maybe, maybe not.

Maybe, maybe not. Not a first choice.

How about this?

How about this?

Closer, I think.

Closer, I think.

Another try.

Another try.

A contender.

A contender.

Just for fun. There are blue flecks in the tweed. Would these blue buttons work, or are they too much?

Just for fun. There are blue flecks in the tweed. Would these blue buttons work, or are they too much? They deserve to be out in the world, not on a card forever.

There are better choices for this button.

There are better choices for this button.

A possibility.

A possibility.

I so want to put this mid-'40s buckle on something. But is this linen the right home?

I so want to put this mid-’40s buckle on something. But is this linen the right home?

Can't wait to find these buttons their perfect little piece of real estate. What could it be?

Can’t wait to find these buttons their perfect little piece of real estate. What could it be?

Black rounds edged in white, in two sizes. Big ones for the front closure, smaller for pocket trim?

Black rounds edged in white, in two sizes. Big ones for the front closure, smaller for pocket trim?

Monochromatic choices.

Monochromatic choices.

These translucent buttons seem right for this lighter-weight linen.

These translucent buttons seem right for this lighter-weight linen.

This orange button and its eight mates have been languishing on the wrong-color fabric for years. This is a much better combo.

This orange button and its eight mates have been languishing on the wrong-color fabric for years. This is a much better combo.

Project: Vogue 4036, Jacket (1959), part 1

Readers,

Every time I look at this large-collared, boxy little late ’50s jacket the word “demure” comes to mind, and I don’t know why. Demure is not a style I’m after. There’s just something about that collar.

Dressed for lunch at the Chintz Room at the Lazarus department store, Columbus, Ohio, 1959. I hear the chicken salad is excellent.

Dressed for lunch at the Chintz Room at the Lazarus department store, Columbus, Ohio, 1959. I hear the chicken salad is excellent.

Here’s another word that pops into my head about this jacket: “suburban.” That’s a 1950s suburb I’m thinking of. Again, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the easier fit–not the early or mid-1950s closely fitted silhouette with the more formal feel–paired with that easier hat. This jacket looks just right for a midweek lunch out at a finer department store. After a morning of shopping, of course.

This plaid is more vivid in person than this photo conveys.

This plaid is more vivid in person than this photo conveys.

I have no ambitions to sew outfits for midweek lunches at finer department stores, and yet I’m so curious about this jacket that I’m going to give it a go. It may be that this sassy greenish yellow and bittersweet chocolate plaid wool blend just cried out to be made into Vogue 4036, for the sheer contrariness of it.  I’m curious whether “demure” will go right out the window when this plaid sashays in. I would hope so.

I realized recently that this jacket my mom made–I’m guessing it also dates from the late ’50s–bears more than a passing resemblance to Vogue 4036. It’s boxy, and has a prominent collar, and is made up in a very undemure plaid. I love this plaid.

A jacket my mom made, probably in the late '50s.

A jacket my mom made, probably in the late ’50s.

I don’t recall this jacket, but maybe I do have some residual memory of it lodged deep somewhere.

This jacket has princess seams, which I like. Maybe I can track down the pattern.

This jacket has princess seams, which I like. Maybe I can track down the pattern.

I have enjoyed the skirt I made up in this fabric. Would a matching jacket be too much?

I wear this skirt with a very textured, bracelet-length sleeved sweater from Banana Republic.

I wear this skirt with a very textured, bracelet-length sleeved sweater from Banana Republic.

And then, that collar shape. Would it look smart on me, or…hopelessly demure? I’m not getting enough feedback from my muslin to tell.

Is this collar a good one for me? My muslin didn't answer this question.

Is this collar a good one for me? My muslin didn’t answer this question.

Why don’t I just cut out the collar from the plaid and try that first? If the shape, texture and colors look fine, I’ll go ahead and cut the fronts. How do they look with the collar? Too busy–or good? I have high-contrast coloring that might handle this amount of color and pattern fine.

I bought these vintage buttons in Greenwich, England. Would they work well?

I bought these vintage buttons in Greenwich, England. Would they work well?

It may sound perfectly sensible to you, and you may have already been doing this for years, but I’ve never thought of cutting only a few pieces of a pattern to try. It’s the trap of either-or thinking: either my fabric stays intact but never used, or it’s hacked up and misused.

There is another way, I have to remind myself. If I don’t like how the collar looks, or how this much pattern looks next to my face, I would still have yardage to use for a different application. I like that.

A bit hard to make out the lines of this jacket from the illustration. It has set-in sleeves, center back seam, and a vent. (I'm eliminating the vent.)

A bit hard to make out the lines of this jacket from the illustration. It has set-in two-piece sleeves, a center back seam, and a vent. (I’m eliminating the vent.)

One of my sewing teacher Edith’s sayings is “Don’t commit before you have to.” She was actually referring to making a slashed pocket in a jacket front, but her point can be more widely applied. Don’t take an irreversible course as long as you can have the option to reverse.

Test small before testing big.

That sounds just right.

From my mom's reipe clippings: the famous chicken salad from the Chintz Room at Lazarus.

From my mom’s reipe clippings: the famous chicken salad from the Chintz Room at Lazarus. Love that “gay trim of red apple paring”!