Monday, June 9, 2014

The Sewing Athlete (otherwise known as The Sewing Marathon)

I have been feeling the heat with the return of our summer temperatures, and haven't got a lot of clothing in my current wardrobe that makes me feel chic.  My summer wardrobe is looking a bit...ahem...weathered and worn.

Another problem is that I have been feeling quite crowded with the overflow of stash fabric that is spilling out of its (already very large) storage area, and I think it was even affecting how often I wanted to be in my sewing space.  I mean, who wants to sit in sewing bliss and turn around and suddenly feel like they're going to be snowed under in an avalanche of fabric??  So...after a few weeks of moving things around, looking into bins, tidying, purging old fabrics (what on Earth was I thinking when I purchased this??!!), and of course planning, I finally got down to sewing.  And sewing I did!!!

I got A LOT of sewing accomplished yesterday.  I have a couple of tricks to get so much done in a short period of time:

1.  I used a couple of TNT (tried and true) patterns - in this case the Loes Hinse Perfect Tee and the Loes Hinse Garbo Jacket.  Loes' patterns are made for speed!  And, all the fitting adjustments have been tested out beforehand, so I don't need to fiddle with it when I'm cutting and sewing.

2.  I group all my cutting time - I spent a few hours on Sunday morning cutting a large number of tops and cardigans (umm...I stopped counting at 10).  I use my kitchen table as my cutting table - I have bed risers that I place under the feet to raise it to a more comfortable level for me, and I have to haul all my cutting supplies, patterns and fabrics up from L'Atelier to do this.  Grouping blocks of time for cutting is more efficient.  And, I also find that most of the time I'm too tired (and braindead) to cut after work, but sewing something simple can be done almost on auto-pilot, which results in me sewing more regularly in the evenings.

3. When I am sewing, I group all my sewing projects by thread colour - in this case you will see all my FOs (finished objects) used cream coloured thread - both on the serger and the sewing machine.  The next batch is going to be all black thread.

4.  I plan on an allotted period of time to sew.  And only sew.  Phone calls, text messages, social media and emails can wait, no internet forays for anything (!).  I spent Saturday doing chores and even prepping meals so that I didn't have to do any of those things on Sunday.  My meals on Sunday were heat and serve, or already chopped veggies for salads.

5.  I try to have all the notions I need in order to complete the project readily available (i.e. no searching for something - I get sidetracked easily, so all the searching is done beforehand).  In this case, all I needed was interfacing which I purchase by the bolt and have readily accessible in my studio.  I haven't finished the buttonholes for the cardigans, because I need to buy the buttons tonight on my way home for work.  But, I've gone through the black sweaters I have already cut out to buy those buttons tonight too.  If I run out of something when I'm sewing, or if I come across something I need, I add it to the list for my next visit to the fabric shop.

6.  I make sure my sewing machine and serger are cleaned, oiled and ready to go before a marathon sewing session.

7.  I rarely use pins, unless I'm trying to really be particular about matching something, like stripes, plaids or seams.  All those striped tees?  I matched the stripes in the sleeve area by pinning the sleeves into the armhole in a couple of places, but for the centre back seams and side seams, I sewed carefully, but didn't use pins.  Most of the matching should be done when you're cutting, which will make the sewing much easier.

8.  I stay hydrated with a spill proof water bottle and take a few breaks here and there to avoid cramping up or repetitive strain injuries.  But, I limit my breaks and make sure I get back to the sewing machine as soon as possible!  It sounds funny, but eating regularly and healthy foods also helps you stay alert and focused.  Kind of like an athlete!

9.  Set up your workspace so it flows.  My sewing machine is next to my serger - I scoot back and forth on my wheeled chair.  My pressing area is directly behind my sewing space, so I just have to swivel around on my chair to press.   I have an iron with an automatic shut off that drives me crazy, but when I remember, I try to "tip" it quickly soon before I need to press (i.e. before the next seam I will sew), so that it is hot and ready to go when I need it.

10.  One other major thing that helps me get so much accomplished is that I don't have anyone else at home when I'm sewing.  No interruptions, no chatting, just pure sewing enjoyment!  I also listen to an audiobook or music rather than having the TV on, so I don't get distracted by looking up to see what's going on.

11.  Of course, sewing with a plan always helps too.  Then I don't spend time making a bunch of orphans that cannot be worn because they don't go with anything else.  In this case, you will see my capsule consists of cream, metallics (both gold and silver), black and grey.

So...without further ado...Here's what I accomplished yesterday:

LH Garbo Jacket, "cardiganized" and lengthened
Fabric is fine sweater knit in gold metallic and cream
Close up of LH Garbo Cardigan with modified neckline
The front and back facings are eliminated, and a self fabric strip
is used to trim the neckline

Matching LH Perfect Tee with jewel neckline and elbow length sleeves

LH Perfect Tee with scooped vee neck and cap sleeves
Fabric is cream stretch lace

LH Perfect Tee with scooped vee neck and cap sleeves
Fabric is cream rayon lycra jersey

Another LH Perfect Tee with scooped vee neck and cap sleeves
I find this style very flattering on me ;)
Fabric is a very fine slubbed rayon knit

Yup...another LH Perfect Tee with scooped vee neck and cap sleeves
Fabric is a fine cotton/linen jersey cream knit with a light grey stripe

LH Garbo Jacket - cardgianized with a turn and stitch neckline
Fabric is a very fine sweater knit in animal print
LH Perfect Tee with scooped vee neck and elbow length sleeves out of matching sweater knit

LH Garbo Jacket, cardiganized with self trim at neckline, long version
Fabric is a sweater knit, but more dense than the previous
ones shown above

LH Perfect Tee with jewel neckline and cap sleeves which have been lengthened
The body has also been lengthened to wear like a mini dress (over leggings or even a bathing suit)...

...or scrunched up at hip (to wear over pants or a skirt)
Fabric is a lightweight cotton/linen jersey knit

LH Perfect Tee with jewel neck and lengthened cap sleeves
Fabric is a lightweight cotton/linen jersey knit
And yes, all these were cut and sewn yesterday.  I started cutting around 9:30 am, and quit sewing around 9 pm.  I haven't sewn the buttons or buttonholes onto the cardigan yet (need to hit Fabricland tonight on my way home), but the rest are completely done - and all sewn by machine.

I believe all of these fabrics have come from a variety of Fabriclands (Canadian chain fabric store) in Central and Southern Ontario.  I travel quite a bit for work and as I know that different Fabriclands carry slightly different stock, I like to stop in other locations when I can.

Like I mentioned above, the next batch will be using black thread.  I've got quite a number of tops and cardigans cut in greys and blacks, with one cardigan already in progress that I started this morning while waiting for the dog to come back inside.

I'm well on my way to having a great new summer wardrobe!


  1. Love your items. I've made several LH tops for myself but recently I've made about 4 for my 25yo DGD. I have the new princess sleeveless top to trace and made - forgot the name!!
    Marciae from SG

  2. I am waiting for a few LH patterns to arrive.... is this how its done???
    Hope I am as productive

  3. Looking good. I need to develop a plan. MMM left my closet rather anemic.