Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Bizarre fabric deserves a bizarre pattern

Both this fabric and pattern were inherited from Gwen's stash. I like to think that she intended for the two of them to go together. Some people might think this fabric is ugly. Here's a close up so you can judge for yourself.

I wore this to Starbucks and noticed this gal couldn't keep her eyed off it. I was thinking how stylish I looked and she was thinking damn, that lady's got a lot of cats!!

The pattern is the Sewing Workshop's Deja Vu Wrap

It is cut from one big Moby Dick looking piece with extra parts for the pockets and binding. 

The instructions have mark you the pattern with 5 different colored tailors tacks. You would seriously get lost without them. It seams like it took longer to cut out than to sew it. I made a size small. I took it to a sewing group meeting where a bunch of the ladies tried it on & everyone liked it. At least, they said they did!

I would make this again if the right fabric came along.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Catching Up

I've got a lot of catching up to do, so lets get started...
When I made these next few garments I had decided to try something new: make things that go together!! I know, what a concept!

I still use and love my homemade iPhone app for organizing my fabric and patterns, but once in a while I like to take all my fabric out to look at it and then re-fold it  I made some coordinated piles then tricked my husband into choosing one. Sure enough, he chose my least favorite, but fate is fate and you shouldn't mess with it. I'm not a huge fan of the green, and why I had so much of it I didn't know. Oh wait, I could see they were mostly from the free table or the thrift store. I knew I didn't buy that fabric!

I started with this heavy four way stretch olive green jersey from the Salvation Army. I envisioned something classic like a St. John or Butte Knit suit. I was going to use Simplicity 2154, but some evil demon made me go with McCalls 6708. It was a total wadder!!! Then I did what I always do with patterns that don't work out: I threw it out! Why try to fix it when I've got 300 other patterns I could be spending my time with?

Instead of Jackie Kennedy....

I got Jackie Gleeson.

I din't get my suit but I did make a skirt from my TNT knit skirt pattern Butterick 5539. Because of the weight and stretch of the fabric (which is what was probably behind it making such a horrible cardigan) the skirt gets longer and longer when you wear it, which is okay since it's getting colder and darker everyday.

Next, I revisited the Textile Studio Santa Monica Tee. I thought I didn't like raglan sleeves but I guess I was wrong about that. I really like this pattern. Its quick to sew up and doesn't require the fiddly application of a neckband. (Ditto for The Textile Studio's Monaco Tee.) The first fabric is a cotton interlock from the free table. I think the pattern runs a bit small in the body although the sleeves are too wide for my taste. After a bit of tweaking, I'll be putting this in my Pattern Hall of Fame right next to the Textile Studio's Monaco Tee.

Naturally, I made another one. This one is an ITY knit I got last summer at Haberman Fabrics. I was a bit short on the yardage so I pieced the sleeves by adding cuffs. I like it better than the other one!

My final green garment is is so incredible it deserves its own blog post. Get ready!!

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Four Week Migraine

I did do some sewing about a month ago, took some photos and wrote a draft blog post . That's as far as I got before I got the headache from hell. Actually, I had been having week long headaches and dizziness all summer and had been working with my doctor for a solution to them. He put me on a medication to prevent migraines but it didn't work. Then I got the worst headache ever. And it just kept getting worse. I was in a lot of pain and very worried. My blood pressure was ridiculous. I went to the ER, then spent a couple days in the hospital. Thankfully the CT scan was clear. I didn't want to see, hear or smell anything and I couldn't think straight. I couldn't tolerate the second medication but the third one seems okay so far. It's to prevent future attacks. I've spent a lot of time on the couch, more and more of it in the upright position everyday. I still have a bit of headache and dizziness and will still need to get an MRI to be on the safe side. I'm determined to not spend the whole day on the couch--I have over one hundred unread blog posts to catch up on!
So what caused this? Our old friend: Mrs. Menopause. Seems that if you had severe migraines in your teens and twenties they can come roaring back when you enter peri-menopause. So as I skipped along all through my 30s and 40s with maybe two migraines a year, counting down the months until my periods would be over, I had no idea what I had in store.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Everything I've sewn in the last month, almost

It seems like I have done in the sewing room this last month is sit on my butt and watch HGTV. I just haven't felt as motivated as usual, but even so I did manage a few things. 

More Drapes!

The painting in the living room is complete and so are the drapes. One thing my husband and I agree on is this: we love the drapes but hate the paint! The wall color in these pictures makes it look even more like a banana peel than it really is. It's going to have to be repainted--the sooner the better!!

The saw drapes made like this at JCPenney. They are genius! I love how they look and they were so, so easy to make. They have tab tops with the tab sewn into the hem at the top, not the top edge. I used strapping for the tabs since I didn't have extra self fabric for them. I had measured so well, there was only and inch and a half of fabric left over after making four panels. 

The tabs gather on the rod and create soft pleats. 

The Final Installment: the Big Skirt Project

There was a little bit of summer left when I started this but none left when I finished it. I was suffering from skirt burnout and wanted to get that last skirt done. Okay, Rhonda, I love your style and sincerely admire your pattern making skills. But just so everyone knows, beware of trying this with a woven fabric! Of course most of the problem may lie in the fact that it's too short.

I didn't even bother changing into a top that went with it.
It does go with banana wall though. 

I played around a bit with it and think it actually looked better on backwards. What with having no butt and all, I can wear my skirts either way. Darts are no obstacle to me.

I cut the flying-nun-hip-wings off. I think that left the stripe in an awkward place so maybe I'll wear it in the spring, maybe I won't.

A Creepy Muslin!

I made a muslin of this top and really liked it except I used a creepy knit from the free table. It was a bit tight due to the lack of stretch in the fabric. I think was Jet Set from JoAnn's. Totally unnatural, and I don't necessarily dislike unnatural, but this stuff would leave scratches if you used it for a dust rag. I like the pattern and will be putting it on my short list.

A Little Something and a Lot of Shifty

This is another muslin. It's the A Little Somethin' Jacket from CNT patterns. The fabric is a shifty chiffon from one of my favorite places: the free table. I used a lot of spray starch as I wasworking on this one. It's a cute jacket but already too lightweight for this time of year, plus I have nothing that really goes with it, so I don't imagine it will get much use. 

Thanks, Jan

 A Really Big Project

I have been working on a big, fun, exciting project for the Designer III group. I have completed the machine sewing and have quite a bit of handwork left to do on it before I can reveal it on the 23rd.

In the meantime, I have a plan and have something new started in the sewing room. I'm excited to have that excited feeling back.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

More Drapes

I am happy to report the dining room drapes and painting are done!! This is the first set of proper drapes I have ever made and I'm pretty proud of myself.

I found this project a bit stressful in the beginning.  I measured and checked my numbers six times before I took scissors to the fabric! The actual sewing wasn't difficult but rather tedious. So was the pressing. There was a lot of steam on an already hot weekend. 
I used a pleater tape, along with drapery pins and drapery rings. You can't see any of that but I know it's there. I found the most important thing when making drapes is this: whatever you do, right or wrong, you have to do exactly the same each time. Fortunately, this room only requires a pair!

The fabric is a Waverly print from fabric.com., crafted with pride in the U.S.A., according to the selvedge. The print is called "Small Talk" and is so appropriate considering the numbers of goldfinches who frequent our feeder. 

On to the living room....

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Sewing Straight

I realized that the last three projects I have worked on were all sewn in straight lines! This is the latest. Although I sew garments with home dec fabric a fair amount, I have not really done much home dec sewing. In the past, I have made some pretty crappy curtains I wasn't very proud of, but I am very proud of these. I measured and got the repeats perfect on all six windows! I did measure and mark four times before I got the scissors out. Pretty good for a newbie.

Daytime, back lit
The room I made these for is a dressing room with a vanity. In addition to doing our makeup, my daughter and I also keep our jewelry and accessories in it. It has windows on three sides, so we sometimes felt like we were in a fishbowl, especially like when a guy was cutting a tree down next door! Hey there, guy with a chainsaw! It fells a lot more private now.

The main reason I wanted to re-do this room was so that I could move my beading supplies out of my sewing room. My husband let me have the old childhood desk his dad made for him. You can just see the edge of it on the lower left. The desk has lots of storage for my bead horde and tools.

Nighttime with artificial light.

I hung these tie backs up to store necklaces. Its a good solution for keeping everything tangle free and easy to find.

The room is now a cozy, peaceful place for beading, reading and drawing. This weekend we are doing a lot of painting in the house and I have five more windows to sew for, so I don't think I'll be able to spend too much time in there just yet!

Friday, August 22, 2014

I'm so nice

I made my husband 14 new dish towels! 

The solid green ones are pique. When I inherited the fabric from Gwen it was white. I dyed it with regular old Rit dye in apple green. It was a dismal dull dirty blue green almost like hospital scrubs, only uglier. If I ever saw an apple that color I would not eat it!  I over dyed it with lemon yellow. It became exactly the color I hoped for in the first place. I left the selvedges on and simply serged the other edges. 

The chinoiserie print are 100 percent linen home dec samples from the free table. They are tea towel weight and perfect for covering bread dough. I made fancy mitered corner hems on these.

My husband looks very handsome with a dish towel in in hand!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Well, that didn't work!

I got these tanks from Landsend. I like that their tops never fade or shrink, but even though they are petites, I thought they were a bit long on me. I have no explanation for why I bought the striped one at all!! 

I thought I could save some time by hemming them with my cover stitch machine using clear thread. Ha! Ha! No cooperation whatsoever. I could never get clear thread to work properly in my regular machine, so I really don't know what kind of insanity let me to think would work in the cover stitch.

After an hours' frustration, I came to my senses and did it the hard way--re-threading for each color--which, of course, was really the easy way after all.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Big Skirt Project: Part Nine

I had these three small pieces of fabric in my stash, acquired at different times, but none of them were big enough to do anything with alone. So I combined them.  Tertium Quid!

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Big Skirt Project: Part 8

For version eight of my skirt, I added  angled princess seams.  

The fabric in the center is home dec. I'm  not sure where or when I acquired it, but I'm sure it was free. It was only 14 inches wide so I created this pattern to accommodate the narrow width. The gingham part is a bed sheet. One things about sheets--they do not wrinkle! I had been wearing this sitting in a car all day before I took these photos. 

You can see I very carefully matched the pattern in back. The zipper is in the center back. 

Two more to go!

Sunday, August 10, 2014


I've had two weeks off work, a birthday and a weekend away but did not sew a single thing. I did acquire a few things:

One piece of fabric has goats! I always wanted a goat until my sister in law got two Nigerian goats. They were as cute as can be until they jumped on top of my Mini Cooper! Now I stick to goat cheese (or fabric). The buttons and buckles were unbelievably inexpensive--so I couldn't resist.  I'm not really a belt wearer, but I thought the buckles might make interesting jewelry.

I also made this table top. It had been on my to-do list for two years:

So what did I do on my vacation--if I didn't sew? A bunch of stuff around the house. We took down the dining room wallpaper. Two layers. It was a quite a chore. But  nothing compared to the excruciating process of James Mason and I agreeing on the new wall color and fabric for drapes.

In the meantime, I have started on another room. It was once a sitting room, then art studio where my husband used to work (we're both illustrators and work digitally now). Several years ago, he built me a beautiful vanity in it. Its a nice sunny room with windows on three sides. I decided to move my jewelry crafting operation  there from my sewing room in the basement. The way it was, I could sew or I could bead, but I couldn't do both at the same time. I gave the chair that was in the room to a friend. The next day she confided in me that it had never occurred to her before, but she now realizes she also needs a beading room! I have appropriated a desk from my husband and I'll be making new drapes. I bet it gets done before the dining room.

Today, I am going to be spending some quality time in the sewing room. We've missed each other.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Big Skirt Project, Part 7: The Most Expensive Fabric I Own

The pillar makes me look taller, right?

The wrap skirt I just made from a sheet was in preparation for using this fabric. It is the iconic Merrimekko Unikko printed cotton. This design is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary; you can get some yourself for only 53 dollars a yard, plus shipping. I did not pay quite that much. I got it from the clearance section at Haberman Fabrics. I was actually one of the pieces that used to hang in their front window.

I drafted the pattern so I could do the least cutting-up of the print; there are no side seams and the facings is cut on as one piece well. I left the printed selvage on the inside in case an archaeologist finds this skirt some day.

I apologize for the wrinkles. It was really hot day & I was in the car with  "leather" seats all day. Thanks to my daughter for standing in for my broken tripod!

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Big Skirt Project, Parts 4,5 and 6

4. Puffy, Pastel, Polyester Perfection
I'm pretty sure this was previously a prom dress. It was a maxi length, halter topped, sized zero thrift store oddity I bought because the fabric is just that fascinating. Its been hanging around my sewing room at least five years waiting to hatch into a beautiful new butterfly. I reused both the original lining and zipper.

5. Wrap skirt
I used the same pattern (McCalls 3830) to create a wrap skirt variation. I lapped the side seams and converted the top of the side seam to a dart, added an overlap and rounded the corners. I cut a test out of an old sheet and liked it so much I went ahead and finished it. I used bias I made from the leftovers of a shirt from a few years ago. I love wrap shirts, but not with ties (I'm not a shirt tucker-inner) so used buttons. I have a really special piece of fabric that will be perfect for this.

6. Pink with Mysterious Spots
The only variation on this one was putting a lining in it.. That, and I must have stretched the petersham a bit because it's a little tight in the waist. I was contemplating fixing that until I got it out of the dryer and saw the mysterious spots on it. I'll wash it again and if they don't come out, out it goes. Just because I made it doesn't mean I'm married to it!

More to come!

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Big Skirt Project Parts 2 and 3

In a recent post, I mentioned the skirt I was wearing was part of The Big Skirt Project. Let me tell you about it.
I wear skirts ninety-five per cent of the time. I made a drawer full of knit skirts last summer. They are all solids though. I wanted some prints too. And I wanted them to be as easy to make as the knit ones. Also, I wanted to use up a bunch of half yard pieces of wovens I had in my hoard. (Yes, I am short!) So, I ordered 10 yards of petersham ribbon from Vogue. I am using the same pattern for all of them: McCalls 3830 with variations.

1. Mid-Century Modern. The first one is the pattern right out of the envelope (except for fitting changes). It has a faced waistband, center back seam and centered back zipper.

2. Floral Linen. This is a lovely heavy linen home dec sample. For this version I changed the zipper from center back to a lapped side zipper, used the petersham ribbon in place of the facing and added slits at the sides seams. I'm pretty straight up and down so a lapped zipper at the side is really easy for me. I don't really need to shape the petersham much either.

3. Bright White Denim.  This is white bull denim from JoAnn's. I was surprised how soft it was after I washed it. It has an old thrifted metal zipper inserted in a welt opening at the center back. (No center back seam)

Stay tuned...there's more to come!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Watch Japanese Zoo Animals Distress Denim for Designer Jeans Fundraiser

Here's one way to distress denim


Scroll down to the bottom of the article for a video of the animals at work.

I wonder how much those jeans are going to go for!

Friday, July 4, 2014

I am City Girl

And I love my city.

James Mason and I decided it would be a nice day for a more special photo shoot than my normal driveway shots so we headed downtown to a beautiful parkway resurected from an abandoned railway bed.

How did she get up there in those shoes?

I got a little dirt on the coat scampering up onto a dirty ledge.

An extension of the parkway still under construction.

A beautiful day, only slightly too hot for a jacket.

The fabric collage on this coat is an homage to both the architecture here and the abundant, beautiful art on it. Graffiti is an art!!!

Do you recognize the locale of the photos? Or the buildings represented on the coat?

I used one of my TNT patterns for the coat: Burda 7638. It looks like a real dog on the envelope, but I see it as a blank canvas. The collage fabrics are the ones I showed in the post. I laid this out in adobe illustrator using a jpeg of the fabric as a fill to kind of get and idea of what I wanted. I then created a black and white line drawing of the file and used it to trace out the shapes on wonder under.

The design evolved a bit as I worked on it. I ended up not using all the fabrics. After I fused everything down, I stitched all over it with gold thread using my cover stitch machine. I hated how it looked, so I picked it all out. Only took me 6 hours or so!!

I then decided to do free motion stitching on it with black thread. I am a newbie to that art. It was not easy. Somehow, I wasn't getting the free motion part of free motion. I consulted with  DIII and you tube. A pair of gardening gloves and some silicon spray got everything moving along smoothly! The stitching was a lot of fun and only took one evening.

I finished it with these excellent welts for the pockets.

Sorry for the dirt!
I lied, its not finished. No closure yet. I'm leaning toward snaps, but I have until fall to figure that out.

I really, really, really enjoyed the whole process of making this jacket!

(The top I'm wearing is the Textile Studio Monaco shell and the skirt....well, the skirt is part of The Big Skirt Project. I'll tell you about it later.)

Finally, a big fireworks and loud explosions welcome to all my new followers, and to Rhonda. I am so flattered by all your lovely comments.