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Category Archives: Sewing

Scenes of Summer

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20180708_194819Recently I looked back at past posts and pics from July in years past. I felt a little sad to see that July used to be filled with bountiful blooms and harvests from the garden. I do have lovely flowers still, but we haven’t gotten our garden mojo back since removing the raised beds. I planted two tomato plants, a small thing of chives, and a small thing of basil. And that’s it.  We have not been successful in keeping the new chickens away from this area so I guess it’s good that we didn’t pinch back to promote a bushy tomato plant and they have inadvertently grown insanely tall. The chickens won’t be able to eat the tomatoes that are 5 feet off the ground!20180708_175651
Speaking of the chickens, the young ones are doing great. They are so domesticated-they hang out by the back door, are unafraid of the dog, and come running for treats when they see you.


The two white hens (Beezus and Ramona) are so docile and completely content to be held.20180708_195812


Blanc Tee Sleepshirt

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Part of the Joann’s fabric spending spree included picking up a few yards of an adorable knit fabric-grey with cacti all over it. Surely I could whip up some kind of pjs for me and Tabby with this? Knits are problematic for me. They can pucker, I don’t have a serger (should I be asking for one for Christmas so I can overlock my seams and whip up knits with confidence??), etc. However I figured it was worth a shot for sleepwear because even if hems roll and things look a little unfinished, as long it’s soft and comfortable it’s a win.20180712_162819

I did a little browsing through my IG and saw that @MellySews had done a tutorial for turning a Blank Slate Patterns pattern (the Blanc Tee) into a sleepshirt. Spoiler alert: just make it longer! The pattern was available as a free download. I had it all set a couple weeks ago and then, well, life. But this afternoon, in a funk, I decided to get to it and tape those pieces together and cut out my pieces and stitch it. It’s literally just a front and back sewn together, sleeves hemmed, bottom hemmed, and neckline use bias binding. Easy! I ended up lengthening my pieces 9″ instead of the recommended 5″ and found it to be the perfect length for me. I did, for once, take my measurements and consider following the tips for a “perfect fit”, but since my measurements had part of me at almost a 1x and part at a L, I just decided to a leap of faith for an XL and I feel it worked out just fine.

For the side hem I decided to make it have a little slit, which I like and was easy to do. 20180712_162455For the neckline I used some green bias binding I found in a drawer. It was the thicker kind (double fold), so maybe a bit excessive, but I think it came out nicely. 20180712_162611


Perhaps the best thing I did was look in my sewing machine manual and read the suggested kind of needle to use and take out that one and use it. I don’t know if it’s because I used the knit needle or it was a brand new needle, but it sure did stitch nicely.

Photos are by Tabby and bleah! I do not like them of me! However, just admire that fabric, won’t you? I feel ready to make myself a whole bunch of these. 20180712_162359

Ogden Cami: Take Two

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I spent the morning making an Ogden cami again, but with much less desirable results. I’m feeling frumpy and grumpy about the whole thing. I did make the adjustment to make one size smaller, and yet somehow the top is too big and loose (Tabby:”Maybe next time you could work on making it so that when you bend over you don’t see everything.” Thanks, Tab.) Also the lining literally only comes to mid-breast. That can’t be right. So I’m left with something that seems ill fitting at best and inappropriate at worst. I’m wondering if there’s any way to fix this? I guess that’s my frustration with garment sewing: sometimes I feel pretty good at it, but when it doesn’t work I’m just stymied at how to get a better fit. 

Things that did go well: I used a gauze fabric that I picked up a couple weeks ago, for the express purpose of trying out this type of fabric. I’ve seen ever so many people sewing tops and dresses in lovely chic gauze fabrics that I really wanted to try it out for myself. This isn’t the  suggested ideal fabric for this top, but that actually doesn’t seem to be an issue-it’s a bit of a floaty design to start with (and on this 100 degree heat wave day, floaty tops seem ideal.) So, I do think the fabric is pretty and it was fairly easy to work with. And I did a good job of understitching the seam allowance to the lining. And I did finish my seams with zigzagging.

I had intended to widen the straps because good grief I don’t seem to have a bra that hides under this top well at all. But I forgot about that when I cut out the pattern piece to the exact size.  I think I need to adjust the straps and make them shorter, as well. It won’t look as nice because it’s all sewed up and seams neatly hidden, but I think I’ll have to pick it out and then shorten the strap and top stitch it in (which will add to the home sewn look I’m trying to avoid.)

When I got to the hem I was afraid it would be too short if I folded over twice so I decided to use an old favorite trick here: rooting around in my drawers for vintage seam tape and sewing that on. The only old seam tape I could find was iron on. Generally I don’t like to use things like this where basically you’re gluing the seam down. Also, who knows how old this glue is and if it even still works? So I did iron it on, but then followed that with a stitched seam as well.

So overall, today’s sewing, while it allowed me to check off one of my projects..

…didn’t have the result I really wanted. I guess I need to figure out if this is something I can salvage or if I should just use my leftover fabric to make a different tank top. Either way, I’d better figure out this pattern a bit better before I cut into my fancy Rifle Paper Co. fabric. Perhaps part of my problem is when I sew I am very eager to get to the end. To admire the end result. To take a picture. Even to write this part! And I always always feel like I should be able to sew more quickly than I do. Perhaps if I just acknowledged up front that it can take a long time to even make a tank top, that would help.

All Aboard the Kimono Bandwagon

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As I mentioned before the top of my to-sew list included a camisole and a kimono. I’m crazy for this kimono trend I’m seeing everywhere-IG, Anthropologie, and in person.  Only question? Which pattern to make? I was torn between the overwhelmingly popular suki kimono (#sukikimono) I saw all over IG, another one, and the kimono I made a few years ago from Seams to Me. Ultimately I decided that how different could they all be and to just try to make a silky day kimono from my previous bathrobe kimono I’ve made. I mean, really, it seems like the main differences are belt loops/sash and intention.
As noted from my Ogden cami experience I found sewing with silky fabric very challenging. Even cutting a perfectly straight line seems difficult!
I used a fabric I got from Joann’s that is white with a multicolored pattern all over it, which features sparrows and some botanical stuff. I had some construction difficulties, which was puzzling since I’ve made this twice before without trouble. It all worked out ok, though. I made the sleeves a bit shorter than on my regular bathrobe. Despite that, and despite reading a note that said when I made it for the bathrobe I had to cut off so much, I still ended up having to cute off something like 10 inches.  I made this shorter than the bathrobe version, too.
I couldn’t wait to put it together as an outfit and see what I thought.

I wore it with jeans and a tanktop and think it made a good outfit! We went to the movies this afternoon and it was a good movie going outfit.  Easy, breezy! Tabby and I had fun doing a photo shoot and even though I didn’t love how it looked in pictures (though felt fully confident when out and about in it), I adore these pictures she took of me and Willow!:

I’m definitely looking forward to making another in the beautiful dark navy Art Gallery fabric.

All Aboard the Ogden Cami Bandwagon!

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During May my following of #memademay on Instagram led me to following #ogdencami and #sukikimono as well because clearly the two biggest items that seemingly everyone has been making this year are those two items. Did I need to jump on the bandwagon and make them as well? Probably. And probably using Rifle Paper Co. fabric as everyone else did and I had to have it too. I finally got around to purchasing and downloading the pattern for the cami, deciding to make the kimono from the pattern I already have, and ordered 2 yards of gorgeous Rifle Paper Co fabric and 3 yards (which I suspect will be too much) of also gorgeous Art Gallery fabric. Both of these fabrics are silky rayon challis, a fabric I don’t have much experience with and was apprehensive about. While I waited for my fabric to arrive we took a trip to a festival and drove past Joann’s, so I made us stop on the way home so I could see about purchasing some slightly less expensive fabric to try out these things in. Success! I bought a lovely silky large scale shades of blue floral for the cami and a multicolored pattern for the kimono.

The cami is 4 pieces and I saw someone on IG saying how much they loved whipping up this top because they could do it in HALF AN HOUR. I call shenanigans. That person clearly: had a stash of fabric on hand, has a sewing space that is clean and not obstructed by the recycling and people’s shoes and crap on the floor, has a place to lay out and cut out fabric, and has the pattern already sized and in the right pieces. I did not have that and so this took me a few hours and a couple days. First the tedium of the pdf pattern: trim the pages, tape together, trace the pieces on tissue paper, cut out the pieces. I took a stab at the size, which is always a gamble. I went with a 16 on this one and think that the next one I will do the 14 because it’s a flowy top, but my finished result was a bit too loose and low. Oh, the 1/2 hour person-also how on earth can she pin said pattern pieces onto the slippery fabric with any sort of speed?? After doing that and cutting I was finally ready to sew. I took the time to zigzag my raw edges. I’m very pleased with my even spaghetti straps. I stayed up late to finish this just so I could wear it to work before school let out and I’m so glad I did. Finished!20180621_072151 I wore it with another me made item: the high waisted teal linen skirt. These worked perfectly together. For work I wore this with a sweater (for one thing my bra straps were bigger than the thin top straps and also the back dips very low).IMG_20180621_073315_219
Tabby admired it and said that the thing that really made it look like it came from a store is the fabric, and I agree. I like this top and think it will look great with the white jeans (which I bought specifically to wear with another memade top.) I’m excited to move on to the kimono tomorrow and then this top again in the precious Rifle fabric! I don’t have a lot of construction or close up pics, just these hasty ones taken before school.

Me Made May

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#MeMadeMay has probably been around for a while, but I only discovered it on Instagram a few weeks ago. And basically all month long I’ve been loving following that hashtag and seeing all the things people have sewn for themselves. Now, these are people who are able to wear something they made every single day in May, which is not where I’m at. But I have found it very inspiring and been pinning patterns and fabrics like crazy, culminating with a trip to Joann’s to purchase a pattern I followed on IG and liked. I also felt inspired and determined to start sewing up fabrics I bought a couple years ago. This really was the kick in the pants I needed. First up, finally sewing this beautiful hot pink voile with dandelion fluff print. I decided to go with a sleeveless top I’ve made before (that one piece wearable that I cut out into three pieces.) For this version I made sure to make it long enough, opted to not tie the back (so it’s pretty blousy and full, but I like that), and I knew that in the past I’ve found it too low cut so I tried to fix that. Lovely enough to wear to work!
Oh, and even before that I got back into the sewing groove by trying a pattern I had printed out two years ago and then never used. I was unsure about this pattern and just wanted to get sewing, so I opted to use fabric on hand that I had enough of, which in this case was a novelty print of dressforms. Perhaps a lighter cotton (like a lawn) would make this voluminous peasant top a little more flowy. And I think the neckline is way too open, but overall, worn over some fitted jeans (the top is so big it definitely needs a slimmer bottom) I think this is perfectly fine to wear on the weekend.

The pattern I picked up at Joann’s was a New Look 6434. I was attracted to the big ruffle at the bottom of the sleeve! When I saw someone wearing this top in a black and white gingham I thought that I would try it in some fabric that I bought a few years ago for apron making-a black and white gingham with red cherry print that I think is adorable.

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Note the beautiful new Gingher scissors I got for my birthday. They just whisper to the fabric and it cuts!

I was pleased to find that it was a really nice quality fabric that had a little stretch to it. The pattern calls for one button in the back and I just happened upon these vintage black buttons in my drawer-I knew it would be perfect. I had some sizing issues with this. My main hurdle when sewing clothes for myself is that I’m afraid things won’t fit.  For this pattern I was afraid my arms wouldn’t fit.  I took my measurements and according to them I would need to cut out the size 20-22. In a store I would buy a size 12, so I felt conflicted. I ended up cutting out the biggest size. I tried on the front and the darts were in a terribly wrong place. So I needed to figure out where to put new darts. With some fiddling here and there it all turned out ok. I will definitely make this again, though I think I will aim for a way to marry big sleeves and a slimmer torso cut. True confession-I was so excited to finish and model this that I haven’t finished any of the seams! I’m going to go back in and do it.

Who knows? Maybe for MeMadeMay2019 I’ll be able to participate and wear something every day that I have made! next up I’m going to tackle some dresses!

Spring Peeps

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2018-03-14 17.42.49Peep! Peep! We’re rebuilding our flock! After being down to 8 chickens, 3 of whom are roosters, and 2 of whom are 5 year old hens, we decided that this spring we would get chicks, preferably sexed ones. Last week we got a dozen female hens from our local farm and garden co-op. It’s still so cold in the garage that we’ve got them under their lamp, in the big metal trough, inside the house. They are adorable and I immediately made them pose for festive Easter scenes.

The next day I brought in Gordon to participate in some chick and bunny Easter photos, but he was really not into it. He was more excited and curious about being on the dining table.

I’m excited about the varieties we got, including a couple of Easter eggers, so we’ll have blue-green eggs eventually. And there’s also a California Grey, which is apparently a cross breed that will be like a Plymouth Barred Rock. And some gorgeous Golden Laced Wyandottes. Don’t die little chickies!

Speaking of Gordon, he has spring fever. Since the loss of Tree Bird last year me mostly plays with his ball when he’s feeling frisky. Yesterday I saw that he had turned his intentions toward one of the roosters. He was super persistent-poor rooster!

Despite a lackluster start to the winter and a weird 60 degree day several weeks ago, we seem to be hit by hard winter now, just as it’s leaving. We had a rainy nor’easter, followed by a snowy nor’easter one week later. Our house fared pretty well-just one giant tree limb down at the edge of the yard and assorted smaller branches.  Many in our area were not so lucky-lots of trees down. And, since it’s taken me a few days to finish this post, here we are on March 21 with yet another snow day and another nor’easter.

Presently it’s just gently snowing and I’m sure everyone is thinking “we could have just had an early dismissal today but instead we’re going to end up losing spring break days!” Apparently it is going to become treacherous within a few hours, though. I’m determined to do a lot of sewing today. We have yet to figure out our garden plans for this year, but at least I do know we have plenty of lovely crocuses coming up, which we can see intermittently when the snow is not on them!

The other big spring event was my mom’s birthday. That’s usually chronicled here with a lovely spring dinner, but in this case it was a big number–#75! So we had a big deal celebration. My brother Ben came out from Denver, and my brother Tim came down from Vermont with his family. It was so great to be all together and see them. On Mom’s actual birthday, a Sunday, we had a fancy brunch out at the Grain House, which is where Paul and I had our wedding. It was a really wonderful day. Happy birthday, Mom!2018-03-04 13.05.38