Sunday, January 22, 2017

Life is Stranger than Fiction

Some of you have been asking how my house is coming along.  While I wanted my next post to be sewing related, alas, it is not obviously.  I had a little bit of a setback.  A few days after the project was completed and we received the Certificate of Occupancy (a document from the town saying that the house has been inspected and it is safe to live in), a pipe burst.  Of course, we were not yet living in the house when this pipe burst so I believe it was spewing water for a day or two before my husband and I discovered it.

The weekend of December 18 got very very cold so the pipes froze.  You prevent pipes from freezing by making sure the house is heated but what we didn't know is that the newly installed heating unit had a defective part so the heat never came on.  So the pipes froze and upon thawing, a pipe burst.

On the left, pipe burst from second floor.  The water flowed from the second floor through my living space all the way down to the crawlspace beneath the house on the right
This discovery was quite a traumatic experience.  I remember my husband and I opening the front door and hearing what sounded like the Niagara Falls inside the house.  The look of panic on my husband's face!  I started shaking like a leaf.  My husband ran downstairs and turned the water main off.  The amount of damage was extensive.  We had to get many walls torn down, dry the wood, and put new walls back up and paint.

I remember going back to my temporary home that day feeling numb.  I believe I sat in the living room for about 1 1/2 hours just staring into space unable to speak or do anything.  Looking back now, it is almost comical.  We go through all this trouble to raise the house to prevent flooding, but the house floods anyway but from the inside.  Go Figure!

Luckily, our contractor started working on repairs immediately.  Fast forward...the damaged pipe has been repaired.  The defective part in the heating unit has been replaced.  We have heat in the house and the repairs have been completed. The repairs left an enormous amount of drywall dust all over so I have been spending the weekends cleaning.  We have plans to move back to the house the end of January so I will be taking a few days off during the week to pack.

We will be back home soon - yay!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What an Honor!

Rhonda Buss, author of the blog, Rhonda's Creative Life, has a weekly column called The Wednesday Showcase in which she features fellow sewing bloggers.  I am so happy to say that Rhonda has featured me and my blog in her fabulous column.  You can read it by clicking here.

Rhonda is a true professional.  Check out her blog and you will see the impeccable workmanship of her garments.  She writes for Sew News magazine and is currently pursuing the Master Sewing and Design Certification by the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals.

In addition to beautiful garments, she also shares many delicious recipes and inspirational quotes.  It is a blog full of all sorts of eye candy and valuable information so do check it out!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sewing Plans and the House

Hello All!  It's been quite a while since I have posted.  I have been focused on the house plus I have had a spell of very long days at work.  While I enjoy my temporary home, it has lengthened my commute quite a bit.  Sometimes it takes me 2 hours one way!  I get home rather late and quite tired so I have had little time for sewing.

Regardless, I do have sewing plans.  Whether I can achieve them in the near future remains to be seen.  I purchased this lovely cotton print knit at NY Elegant Fabrics.  I like the autumnal colors as well as the "dusty" look it has.  I really love how it looks against the charcoal grey corduroy I purchased at Mood Fabrics in NYC.

I have already sewn up the printed knit jersey into a long-sleeved crew neck top.  Nothing fancy. The charcoal grey fabric is absolutely beautiful.  It is a medium weight fine wale corduroy, very soft and it feels luxurious.  I want to make a pair of jean style corduroy pants out of this fabric.  However, I have decided to make a muslin first.  I have a light grey medium weight corduroy in my stash that I am using as a muslin.  If it comes out reasonably well (I hope), maybe it can be a wearable muslin.

Since I had a long 5 day weekend for Thanksgiving, I was able to draft the pant pattern and cut it out in the muslin fabric.  Back to the routine tomorrow, though, so I don't know when I will pick this up again.

I have very little spare time during the week and the time I do have I spend reviewing and preparing paperwork and answering emails regarding the house.  As I said in a previous post, I am the recipient of grant money from the State of NJ for homeowners who suffered property damage due to Hurricane Sandy.  The grant covers part of the cost for elevating the house.  Of course, it brings with it quite a lot of paperwork that needs to be reviewed and submitted within certain deadlines.   

On the left, papers filed.  On the right, papers to be filed.
The weekends I spend doing chores and running errands as well as visiting the job site and recording the week's progress.  The contractor is close to finishing up.  I am working with the power company so that the gas meters can be installed.  There's still quite a few odds and ends but we are close to finishing....just in time for the holidays!  So I foresee lots of cleaning up and packing while in the midst of Christmas I don't know when I will get sewing again - bummer.

Regardless, for those of you celebrating the upcoming holidays, I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season.

Happy Sewing!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

An Interesting Print, Laziness and Fold Over Elastic

Recently, I purchased a printed rayon knit fabric from Mood Fabrics in NYC on MPB day in August. I was drawn to the fabric because of the colors and the print.  The print looks like various photographic images of city scenes.  After I purchased it, I didn't like it because it seemed dark and somber.  Determined not to have wasted my money, I cut out and sewed this self-drafted top so now I like the fabric again.  It's unique and it fits well.

This is a print requiring thought and planning as to where certain images would be placed.  However, feelings of laziness set in, probably because I was not feeling too excited about the fabric at the time,  and I was going to cut it on the double.  Luckily, I had gotten together with a dear sewing friend who urged me to cut it single layer so I could plan where the images would go.  It took less than 5 minutes to copy the pattern so that I had both the left and right sides in one pattern piece for the front.  I am so glad she intervened!

Below is a closeup of the fabric:

You can see buildings, cobblestone streets, people walking along a sidewalk, rain falling.  Could you imagine if I had the images of people walking across my sizable chest or a red blotch?  Not good!  Crisis averted.

Before working on this top, I had seen a blog post by Anne Whalley about a beautiful dress she had made where she finished the neckline edge with fold over elastic.  I loved it.  I also had seen what a great job Kyle from Vacuuming the Lawn had done with a lace tank and skirt set she made where she used fold over elastic to finish the tank's neckline and make the straps.  I decided to give it a try.

Since this was my first time using fold over elastic, I relied heavily on my old stand by:  hand basting.  Below are the steps I followed.  I am sure there are those of you out there who can apply this with no or very little basting (practice makes perfect) but this is what worked for me for now.

As you can see from the photo below, the fold over elastic has an indentation along the middle where you fold it.  Once you fold it, one side is actually slightly larger than the other side.  This is so you can place the larger side underneath the fashion fabric and the smaller side on top, so that when you topstitch it on top, the stitching catches the larger side underneath.

1.  I placed the raw edge of the fabric on top of the larger side of the elastic with the raw edge meeting the indentation.

2.  I then hand basted it in place.  I pulled the elastic just a bit as I was basting -- this is important so that the elastic will lay flat against your body.  As I basted, I also made sure to feel and check with my fingers that the bottom side of the elastic did not shift and remained larger than the top.  Below you can see the ripples caused by stretching the elastic which will not show when you put on the garment (as long as you didn't stretch too much).

3.  I then folded the remaining elastic over to the right side and basted again.

4.  I then topstitched it close to the edge on the right side and removed all of the basting.  You can see below how the stitching caught the elastic at the bottom.

I am very pleased with this new-to-me neckline finish.  It was the first time I used it but it won't be my last!

Happy Sewing!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

A Firm Footing

Continuing from the previous post, there has been some progress on the house I am happy to say but I am eager for the house to finally be attached to the foundation.  Last weekend, I was rather worried after hearing news reports that Hurricane Hermine was making its way up the East Coast.  It would be a tropical storm by the time it would get to the New York / New Jersey area but with very strong wind gusts.  My house is up in mid-air just resting on beams, not attached to anything.  I had terrible visions of my house getting knocked off those beams.  Thank goodness that storm veered off course...whew!

So in this picture, you can see how much of the foundation has been built up thus far:

Hundreds of cinder blocks were used...

They started by creating footings:

Onto which the foundation would be built:

The house will have 6 supporting beams underneath which you see are being built here (the columns of cinder blocks):

The workers have completed most of the foundation and are now building wooden plates onto which the house will be attached to the foundation.  You can see the wooden planks on the top edge of the foundation:

So hopefully within the next week or two, my house will finally be attached to the foundation.  I will breathe a little easier when that happens!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Lift off! We have lift off!

This post is totally unrelated to sewing.  I have not been sewing the past few weeks.  My sewing mojo has been gone.  Kaput.  I have been completely absent from the blogosphere the past few weeks as well.  But there is good house is being elevated and I had to temporarily move to a new location!

I live in a neighborhood in Northern New Jersey which was severely impacted by several storms.  My house suffered extensive damage during a N'oreaster in 2007; Hurricane Irene in 2011; and finally, Hurricane Sandy in 2012.  It was a traumatic experience each time, with the next storm worse than the previous one.

A program became available in the State of New Jersey for homeowners who suffered extensive damage during Hurricane Sandy so I applied and was accepted to receive assistance in elevating my home.  I feel so lucky to have been accepted and am extremely grateful.  It is a project that is costing six figures and the state will not pay 100% of the cost but what we are receiving is very helpful.  My husband and I decided to bite the bullet and go for it.  We want to be out of harm's way; the flood insurance premiums will decrease dramatically and the value of our home will go up.  All good things worth the temporary hassles and headaches.

Elevating a house is quite a daunting task.  It takes about 4 to 6 to 8 months to elevate a house and you cannot live in the house while this work is being done so we had to pack up and move.

So here's the house as it currently sits in mid-air!  Amazing, isn't it?!!

Here you see one of the workers guiding an iron beam through sections of the partially demolished foundation which will go underneath the house to help support it:

This is what the house looks like underneath.  The house was lifted a few inches every hour using these giant hydraulic jacks (that's what I call them anyway).  Then wooden supports were built underneath the iron beams so as to support the house while it is suspended in air:

Side view of the house.  There used to be a covered deck here (boo hoo):

My house will no longer have a basement.  That underground cavity will be filled in to ground level.  I will then have the space in between the house and the ground that can be used for storage.  However, I would only store items that I would be able to bring up next time we are threatened with another dangerous storm. 

More to come...

Saturday, July 23, 2016

A Simple Skirt

Since I am working on creating slopers for pattern-making, I have been sewing up simple basic pieces to test the slopers which actually are turning out to be quite versatile since I can combine them with many garments already in my wardrobe.  In this case, I had left over fabric from my white pants, enough to make a simple straight skirt.

Self drafted skirt.  The top is Vogue 1247 (out of print) in silk crepe de chine.
As with my pants, I decided not to add pockets so as to avoid them from showing through to the right side.  I also used the same waistband technique I used for my white pants where I cut the facing 1 1/2 inches wide, folded under 1/4 inch and topstitched.  This results in a clean waistband finish that looks like a countered waistband.  I think this will be my waistband technique go forward for white or light colored pants and skirts.  I inserted an invisible zipper at center back.

The beauty with pattern-making is that once you have a sloper that fits you, just about any pattern you draft from that sloper will fit nicely.  You only need to tweak the garment to account for fabric variables.

I used hem tape at the hem for a nice polished touch.  

I believe this ensemble is one of my most comfortable for those hot summer days.  

Happy sewing!