Archive | April 2017

March Spending: Modest Progress

Income

Library take-home pay: $1771.47

Interest: $3.02

Trivia income: $35

Support: $786

Refund from Children’s Hospital: $466.72

Colorado tax refund: $481

Shopping return: $74.27

Total income: $3617.48

Spending

ATM fees: $2.50 (reimbursable)

Rent: $1072.79

Household items: $20.81

Laundry: $40

Renter’s insurance (quarterly): $33.50

XCel (electric): $18.47

Ting: $24.52

Comcast: $9.95

Groceries: $320.03

Wine: $6.47

Oil change plus car wash: $82.44 (Evidently my car runs on synthetic oil and this is very expensive)

Gas: $46.12

Parking: $3

Miscellaneous kids (allowances plus a field trip): $40

Occasional after-school care: $68

Adult health spending: $189.44 (asthma medicine–OUCH)

Restaurants: $28.46

Coffee and donuts: $42.36

Adult clothes and sewing notions for making adult clothes: $124.20

Haircut, hiking poles, something from Target, and other miscellany: $147.59

Child care punch card at the gym: $15

Cat supplies: $27.45

Total spending: $2363.10

Analysis

This was another windfall month, and I both bolstered some savings/spending categories (setting aside money to refresh work wardrobe, for instance) and set aside some money for investing. I would like to point out that my spending, though not particularly restrained, was under my “regular” income.

Groceries continue to get away from me. I drank only one bottle of wine all month but apparently spent an unreasonable amount of money on coffee and donuts.

My paychecks have dipped a little because I have more money going into my HSA, which I am trying to grow as an investment vehicle but which doubles as an emergency fund.

So, not an exciting month, but everything on track. I still need a better-paying job. While I see places I can trim a little, let’s be honest: My spending is killer low. The income side is where the improvement is needed. Especially as I would like to be less dependent on support from the XFP.

How was your March?

I’m Learning Patternmaking: My First Sloper

I’m much too cheap to buy patterns, even on clearance. I have made a couple of skirts using patterns from library books–they are printed on thick book-type paper, as opposed to the thinner sort of pattern paper, and one traces them. (Freezer paper is excellent for this purpose.) My first foray into making a skirt without a pattern ended badly–the muslin was wildly unflattering.

Nevertheless, I persisted. I wasn’t that happy with the skirts I had made from patterns. They are fully lined with no waistband, and the lining never even came close to lining up with the outside. They also don’t really have enough volume to accommodate pockets. (I used The Essential A-line: Make 17 Flirty Skirts from 1 Basic Pattern, and I still think it can be a good starting place. I wear the skirts regularly, I just think I can do better.)

For my next project, I chose the book Skirt-a-Day Sewing, which I had rejected before as being too difficult. I think I’m ready now. This one offers 28 different skirt designs and walks the reader through how to take measurements, draft a basic pattern, and then alter it for each specific design. So the final result is prescribed and the instructions are very specific… but there is no pattern to cut out or trace.


Another one that I looked at is How to Make Sewing Patterns. This was a little too much like drinking from a fire hose for my current needs. The many complicated measurements that it prescribes probably won’t improve my results until my skills catch up–at which point I might find it very helpful. And it offers only a little design guidance.

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My first pattern. I was trying to “true” the darts. I still don’t understand this part and am not sure it’s important.

Guys, I’m having a lot of fun! All the measuring and drawing has been an enjoyable challenge and has really improved my understanding of garment construction.

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Yes, this is me, in my spectacularly messy bathroom, trying on my fitting shell while also wearing a pajama top and taking a selfie. This is not the glamorous part of fashion design.

So far, I have gotten as far as making a basic sloper–basically a fitting shell. Next, the book suggests making a second sloper that is specific to the basic type of skirt (flared, in this case). Since flaring the skirt involves “slashing and spreading” the pattern I made from my measurements, I think that’s worth the four dollars of muslin. (Maybe gingham would have been better but I couldn’t bring myself to pay seven dollars for two yards’ worth.)

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“Slash and spread”–not as violent as it sounds.

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My makeshift hip curve. I found it did not match my actual curve well.

I could have gotten away without buying anything, and at first I did. Some people say you can draw the curved hip portion of a side seam using a dinner plate, but I tried that and it wasn’t even close to the right shape. Which makes sense, because hips are not actually circular. So for a while, I used a downloaded hip curve ruler, which I pasted to a Cheerios box for stiffening and cut out. That worked OK. But I decided to go ahead and buy a flexible curve ruler (about $10, bought with Amazon reward points).

Skirt-A-Day prescribed a hip curve, but I thought the flexible curve, recommended in Make Sewing Patterns, would be more versatile. I guess time will tell.

Onward with the second sloper!

What are you making lately? How are the results?