Friday, December 26, 2014

Merry Christmas Sewing

Hello! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and is enjoying some Merry Christmas long weekend sewing! I got to work on my Gingers yesterday and on Christmas Eve. I have the zip in. But I broke a needle yesterday on my industrial straight stitch and although I found all the pieces my stitches were a mess after that. I'm still working on it. Sheesh! After finally getting my Juki industrial overlock working (it was used and missing a part so it kept breaking thread), now this. One step forward, two steps back. Ha! I hope I didn't mess up the timing somehow by breaking a needle. I don't even know how I'd know? But still, I'm getting to sew, sort of!

Here are two of my Boston Terriers in a very happy Christmas picture from a couple of years ago. I especially like the look on Larry's face (he's on the right)!

Merry Christmas weekend everyone! 


Friday, December 19, 2014

Not Me-Made But Still A Score!

It may seem like I've quit sewing since I've been away from my blog for so long. But oh no! First of all our embroidery business has still been crazy busy with Christmas right around the corner and we've been working tons. I'd love to be amazed at all the people who wait until the last minute to decide they would like something embroidered for Christmas. But I can't because that's soooo something I would do! One year right after Mr. SmileDogstitches and I were first married, we did all of our Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve! No kidding. These people are still a week out, so really I guess they're early shoppers! Nonetheless, we have been quite busy trying to squeeze in all the special orders with our regular business.

Also, my Gingers. Ah...let me just say that I probably won't attempt to make pants again without doing all of the measuring ON the pattern before I cut my fabric and baste my pieces together. You see, in the past when I would sew (no pants!), I would sew something together and if it didn't fit I would just take in the sides until it did. You can only imagine how beautifully everything fit. I think the only proper fitting I ever did was in an armscye that threatened to slice my arm off slowly throughout the day. But now that I'm "taking it up a notch" I want to do it right, short of making muslins (although I've learned to never say never). So after basting my Gingers and finding that the legs were huge and the waist a bit too big, I'm doing more work on them. I have recut the waist and back yolk pieces and taken in the legs quite a bit. We'll see where I end up!

Okay, so every now and then I like to go thrifting. In fact, I have a hard time buying retail these days. Not too long ago I scored this felted wool Gap jacket at Goodwill for $4.50! I thought it would be great to embroider my business logo on (which oddly enough looks almost exactly like my blog'd that happen?!). 

We also did the back. I didn't know Mr. SmileDogstitches was going to put the phone number on it. At first I thought wow, weird. "So hey, call me, k?" But it is my business number, not my personal number and it's much easier to jot that down than a website address. We only have one area code in our entire state so it's only 7 quick numbers. :) 

So back to finishing my Gingers. I was hoping to be finished by Thanksgiving. I wonder if I'll be finished by Christmas! New Year's? I have lots of other things I want to sew, especially when I visit everyone's blogs! But these are a great learning experience for me.

I hope you're all ready for Christmas! Hard to believe it's less than a week away!

Til later,


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Vintage Simplicity Pattern Video & Ginger Jeans Progress

After hemming and hawing and reading everything I could get my hands on about fit and grading, etc., etc., I finally cut out my Ginger jeans. I'm a size smaller in my waist than in my hips, but not being a pants expert, I didn't know how/where to grade. I was terrified I would ruin these jeans! I'm someone who likes to have all of the information before I jump in. I kind of wish I were more a fly by the seat of my pants kinda gal. But nope. I'm a planner. My in-laws will call at 7am on a Saturday morning with, "Let's go to breakfast. Meet you there in 40 minutes." That just sends me into a frenzy although since they've moved here I'm getting more used to it. Luckily I'm a super early riser! Anyway...after all that research what did I do? Cut the size for my hips anyway! I'm making the lower rise ones so maybe I won't have to make as many adjustments. Maybe. I've also never cut without pinning before. Did I overdo with the weights? :)

I've also had a few bumps in the road. My industrial Juki overlock kept breaking one of the needle threads. Over and over. I don't know if you've ever been blessed with the oodles of information in an industrial machine's manual but yikes! Not so helpful, which thankfully I knew going in. Not that it made it any easier! After lots of Googling (what did we do before the internet?) and trying to look at the pics in my manual, the mechanically-inclined Mr. SmileDogstitches and I (not so mechanically inclined) discovered mine is missing a piece. It's used but soooooo much quieter than any of my home overlocks have ever been...thank you Servo motor! After a bazillion calls back and forth with the place we got it from, which is in Los Angeles, the part finally arrived yesterday. Fingers crossed! Of course I could use my "Little Brother" but... 

Then as I was getting ready to fuse my interfacing I DROPPED my gravity feed iron on right on this big metal piece of something that goes on one of our industrial embroidery machines and was left behind in our move out to our studio. Obviously not an important working piece! There's nothing else on the floor in my entire sewing room (which I just moved back into) except that and a small plastic trash can. My iron got some sort of grease on it and a NICK on the edge which I (meaning Mr. SmileDogstitches) will need to grind smooth. I tried to clean it like I have before with a Bounce sheet and that made it worse. Hello Google. I used Magic Erasers. They got the grease spot and almost got all the gunk off from the Bounce sheet that was supposed to clean it. Then I got talked into some jean needles at a newer, local sewing machine repair shop and the heads were too large to fit into my industrial. And I don't give up easily! "Must be me," I thought. But they do fit in my Singer Slant-O-Matic. And I got a slew of needles with my machine so I really am covered. I just thought since I got some for my Singer I might as well try!

I was hoping/planning to have my jeans finished by Thanksgiving so I could wear them and my in-laws would oooooh and awwww over what miraculous work I do. Yeah well. Soon!

We also got in 50 more Air Force chef coats that needed to be embroidered by today so the military kitchen staff and base Colonels could serve the military personnel at our local base for Thanksgiving tomorrow. So although that's great for business, that rush job has taken up some of my planned sewing time.

In the meantime I leave you with this great vintage 1948 Simplicity Pattern for Smartness video that I saw over on I love it!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the US!

Til later,


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Hump Jumper Vintage Video

Now I promise my blog will be full of me made clothes soon, but not until I finish my Ginger Jeans. In the meantime I keep stumbling upon all of this cool stuff I just can't keep to myself! Well, actually I found the story about Lillian Weber in the embroidery business trade magazine, Stitches I subscribe to. So I was "working" at the time. It's not like I spend all my time online looking at nifty sewing blogs, sites, stories and YouTube videos! 

I wasn't going to get a Hump Jumper and figured if I needed something I would use folded denim or cardboard as others have mentioned. But after seeing this I think I just might, only because I love this "vintage" video. 

I only wish I had the confidence to post stuff of me back in the 80's. Ha! How about you? Do you put it all out there so to speak? Well, some of you were children or not even born yet but I graduated high school in 1980 and was still fighting my curly hair back then. Some days I won. Other days, especially if I was near the ocean...well, those are the days I wouldn't want documented on today's social media sites, which is why I get to approve all postings to my timeline on Facebook. I have way too many generous friends from high school who love posting old pics, bless their sweet hearts! Of course some I allow because they are just too fun. Others should be burned. Sooooo happy my mother isn't on Facebook. I've seen what parents post of their kids! 

Til later,


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Celebrate the Victories!

As I work furiously at 52 years old on completing one pair of Ginger Jeans by the week of Thanksgiving, Lillian Weber sews a dress a day at 99 years old! She will be celebrating her 100th birthday in May and plans to have sewn 1,000 dresses by then. And she's not stopping there. 

Have you heard of this amazing woman? She sews for a charity called Little Dresses for Africa, a Christian nonprofit distributing the dresses to impoverished young girls. More than 2.5 million dresses have been collected by the nonprofit and have been sent to 47 countries in Africa as well as Haiti, Honduras, Thailand and Mexico.

What do you hope to be doing when you're 99? Do you still plan to be sewing? I sure hope my fingers and my brain allow me to sew if I make it to 99! And ride. As a cyclist I meet a variety of people of all ages when I'm out riding. A few weeks ago one chilly morning I came up on a man who I decided to ride with for a bit, if he'd have me. Meet Ron:

Ron is 75 and in addition to being a veteran, he has ridden over 4,000 miles this year and has completed 3 bike tours nationwide. Wow! And like Lillian, he's not done yet either. We only did about 5 of our miles together as he had started earlier and he had to turn around since he had a 3 hour ride planned for the next morning! I asked if we could take a picture for my Facebook page and he said sure and then asked, "Is this a selfie?" Cute, eh? I'm the worst person in the world at selfies. Apparently so is Ron, as he tried too. After about 7 failed attempts I asked if I could take a picture of him. He said he thought he'd be famous now. I haven't seen him since but I did see a man who I thought was him and I waved like a maniac and as I passed him on the other side of the road I realized it wasn't him. Do you ever do that? Oy! He happily waved back and probably thought, "What a kook!" I look forward to riding with Ron again.

I'll wrap up finally with this lovely bit from Heather's blog at Closet Case Files:

"I think far too many of us are intimidated to make pants because we are focused on achieving “perfection”. Perfection is a dangerous goal. This is a lesson I am learning personally as well as in my sewing practice, since I am one of those type-A control-freaks who struggles with letting go. When you are only satisfied by perfection, you are bound to be disappointed again and again; perfection is so rarely achieved. Life, sewing, all of it, is a process. We learn something new along each step of the journey, and I truly believe that getting tripped up by the flaws, rather than celebrating the victories, takes the fun out of making."

If only I could go back to 30, or 40 and put this into practice. But it's never too late. I wouldn't have had the fabulous opportunity to ride with Ron if I wasn't changing my ways. I would have simply waved and passed him up in favor of a faster ride, because you know you're really super cool if you can pass a 75 year old...who can most likely out ride me mileage-wise anyway! 

Celebrate the victories!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Fabric & Fits Over Fit

We have this great Meals on Wheels thrift store in town that is run by these amazing volunteers. I got these awesome clogs for $2 that I wear all the time! I mean, they're really not even the most comfortable things in the world but for some reason I love them. A lot. This is huge for me because I'm kind of a germaphobe (or is it germophobe?). But the weird thing is, I've been buying oodles of "returned" cycling clothes and other outdoor stuff at Sierra Trading Post (we're regulars) for years in their "Thirds" department and that doesn't bother me. But what's the diff between STP Thirds and a thrift shop really? I'm still not good with all shoes at thrift stores but...

ANYWAY...MOW has so much fabric. It's usually $2- $5 for 2-4 yards. And then, to top it off, it's always 50% off of that! So I figure if I like it I'll whip up something quick with it. If it's just so/so or a type of fabric I think I need to learn to work with, I'll bring it home and practice or use it for test fabric for our embroidery business. If it's nice but I don't love it I'll leave it for someone else. I don't buy a ton of it because I want to buy specific fabric for specific projects and I get overwhelmed if I have too much (I donated a bunch to Goodwill a couple of years ago) but now that I hardly have ANY...except for enough fleece to make a farm full of life-sized fleece animals...I feel like I need a bit of stash for a snowstorm. How about you? Do you keep a stash or do you only buy what you need for a specific project? Would you ever purchase fabric from a thrift store? Here's my ALREADY WASHED haul from a couple of MOW visits.

Oh...and what about those books?! I've accumulated those over the years but have never mastered the fit issues I have. I can be 2 different sizes from bust to hips but I don't know how to alter the pattern. I think it might have something to do with not spending the time with the books and DVD above. What's your favorite method? I'd love to know! Do you find it difficult or not so bad once you get the hang of it? 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Let the Fun Begin!

Hello and welcome to my first-ever blog post! Scarrrrry. I'm a self-taught sewist (with a couple of kind women who helped on a project along the way) and have remained at what I would consider a high-functioning beginner or failure-to-launch intermediate. I can fake it through something I don't completely understand but I've also been known to throw an entire UFO in the trash! Okay, maybe that only happened once. And don't ask me about grading or fitting. You don't wanna know. Now I'm ready to move on up and sew for real!

I decided to blog because all of you bloggers are so inspirational to me. I learn so much and I hope that someday somebody can learn from me. In the meantime, feel free to give me constructive criticism. I can can't can totally take it! I'm like a sponge. The world is my oyster. Yup.

I left my full-time, crazy busy job at the end of June running a non-credit program and wildly successful (if I do say so!) kids' camps at a community college to focus on a commercial embroidery business my husband and I started in January, SmileDog Embroidery. We named it after one of our Boston Terriers, Digby, who is always smiling. We have 3 rescued Bostons (including Stretch who is deaf and super naughty which is completely our fault) and a rescued Rottweiler. We have a studio on our property so I get to work from home and couldn't be happier! Here are the four of them:

And here's Stretch. Now do you see why he's so naughty? You try telling him no. He wanted to be picked up for pictures too. That worked. And you think those ears would pick up some sound, but nope!

While trying to repair a chewed up dog bed and fighting with my Janome 1600P QC, Mr. SmileDogstitches decided we should get an industrial sewing machine. We fell in love! He started looking to replace all of my machines with industrials asking, "Do you need one of these? How about one of these?" I'm sorry, come again? Of course!! I LOVE sewing on industrials. I do have a Singer Sling-O-Matic for buttonholes and zigzag, even though I could have purchased a zigzag foot for one of my straight stitch machines. I like having one "home" sewing machine on hand. Here is my current sewing setup although some machines are moving location to another room soon. 

And here is my Singer Sling-O-Matic. I don't typically name my machines but I think this looks like it's from the Jetsons' era so I named her Penelope Jane. Penelope after the sweet woman who previously owned her and Jane for obvious Jetson reasons. Penelope (the woman) is deaf and I think she was quite amused with the sign language I've taught Stretch. Or not. 

My first "big" project as I jump back in and try to turn it up a notch is going to be the Ginger Jeans from Closet Case Files. I'm going to join the sewalong starting next week and yes, I'm terrified! But I'm also excited! Gosh, I hope they turn out looking like something wearable.

I try not to take myself too seriously and I like to say that "happiness is an inside job" and I think you'll see that once you see my creations. So stay tuned!