C’est Fini

Well, the first sketch in someone else’s book is now finished and sent off to the next artist, about a month ahead of schedule.

And this has allowed me to go back to my own personal perpetual sketchbook and get back to work there. This is my first image that adds to something from the previous year since I started about this time last year. There are some lengthy gaps in the year, but I’ll make a real effort to put something in every gap this year. It will be interesting to see if the gaps tend to want to occur in the same places each year.

And here’s the real magic if this kind of work: when I opened the book and saw that mantis sketch from this time last year I remembered everything about the day the boys and I discovered the mantis on our pickle ball net and took photos:

I posed him (Her? Who but another mantis knows for sure?) on a lichen-covered branch I’d collected over at the coast. My journal, my rules. No true naturalist would unite 2 finds collected at such distances from one another in both space and time, but it made for a much nicer image. Style over substance? Sure, but the nature journal police are not welcome here:

Yellow Star-thistle is a noxious invasive weed, but I can’t resist wanting to draw those spiky thorns. This specimen was collected on my morning walk around the River Nine sewage treatment plant last Monday. As Mom used to say: there’s the effluent of the affluent. She did have a way with a phrase.

The other project finished this week was Isabel “Izzy” the doll and her blue jammies. This is a joint project with Penelope.

All in all, a productive week.

Best. Pants. Ever.

For some time I’ve been looking for a good pull-on pant pattern for woven fabrics in both crop and full length styles.  Lots of people on PatternReview love the Pietra Pants because they have a flat front, ingenious and capacious pockets plus both wide and narrow leg options.  So I tried the Pietra:

And you see the style is appealing, but the fit on me was completely wrong.  While the pants were a little snug getting over my hips, once on, I couldn’t keep them up at the waist.  They sagged, they bagged, they were essentially unwearable.  I decided it was due to my curvy waist-to-hip ratio.  These pants look great on people with straight figures, but on pears or hourglasses, they don’t work as well.  So next I decided to try the Sew House Seven Free Range Slacks.  

It was summer when I first tried these pants with some random blend washable linen-look fabric from stash.  These immediately became my favorite summer crops:

Since I rarely tuck tops in, the full elastic waist is not usually an issue, but even if it shows, I think the depth of the waistband gives it a little better look than a standard elastic waist pant.

  The pockets are handy and just wide and deep enough to accommodate my phone in its case in a pinch.  I’d rather not carry that beast in my pocket, but sometimes you must.  Another attraction of these pants for me is the high waist.  Pants are always more flattering and more comfortable on me if they have a high waist.  I’ve struggled for decades with the low-rise pants dominance.  

Nice pants.  I wore them constantly the rest of that summer and then as winter approached, I went looking for some fabrics in stash to make some warmer versions.  This wool fabric was the first:

The straight leg version is great too.  I have since made these pants in lightweight denim, linen/cotton blends, and wool blends in both the wide and straight leg versions.  These are my happy pants for both wearing and sewing.  The sizing is true to the envelope measurements and closer to ready-to-wear standards than the usual Big 4 pattern sizing, if a little on the short side.  I’ve added about an inch to the inseam for full length pants and don’t roll a cuff. 

The instructions are clear and thorough.  I could make a pair of these in a day if needed, but I usually do it over 2 days, cutting and making the pockets on the first day and doing the rest of the sewing on the next day.  As the title indicates: Best. Pants. Ever.

Smooth as Silk

DGS number 4 has some itchy skin/eczema and needs to have his hands covered while he’s sleeping to prevent him from scratching. So we have covered the ends of the sleeves of his onesies in silk backed with cotton. Sleep peacefully baby boy!

Origami Mask

In the diy Face Mask Category, the Àplat Origami Face Mask, is a clear winner. They are fast and easy to make, don’t require a nose wire to get a good fit, don’t shift around when you talk and, at least on me, have a little air gap in front that makes breathing easier while still fitting close to the face on the sides.

You do see a little gap back by the ear, but that is okay because over the cheekbone and down the side of the face the fabric is touching my face all the way. In the side view I’ve circled the area that sits close and touches my face:

You certainly could try to make a little dart there for a better fit, but I don’t think that’s necessary.

Here’s my nicely pressed collection:

So far. I intend to make a few more to coordinate with colors I wear frequently and just because these are fun and easy to make. Btw, the pressing helps the masks fit better and look nice and tidy stacked in a drawer, all pressed and ready to go. Pressing with a hot iron also further sanitizes the masks after washing and drying.

Sewing for the Baby Boomlet

The babies are arriving here and there and so I’ve been sewing baby things like burp cloths and these little tunics/dresses:

May I just say that Brindille and Twig has the best patterns going for baby clothes that fit and are practical? This is their angled dress, second and third iterations.

  • It’s still fun to sew for the boys as well. These panels for a play mat were an irresistible find at a quilt shop I visited recently. If I had it to do again, I’d make 4 separate mini mats that could be reconfigured in various ways, but doing it this way has produced the desired effects:
    • When the boys play with it, there is room for both of them.
    • It doesn’t scoot around or get wrinkled, but lays flat and stays in place.

    This was prior to quilting and binding, but you get the idea. Here is my new setup for free-motion quilting using rulers. This is a huge step forward in quilting on a home machine.

    Another reason for making 4 smaller quilts is that they would have been much easier to maneuver on my machine with its small harp area. It felt like wrestling with a bear at some points during the process.

    Now it’s time to sew a few things for myself for this summer. I’ve got white thread in my serger and coverstitch machines so I think I’ll make up some things that will not require rethreading. Lazy-girl sewing!

    Sewing for the Train Gang

    IMG_1443

    This t-shirt project is an experiment in 3 ways:

    First, it is impossible to find decent t-shirt fabric at local fabric stores so I bought a Men’s XXL T-shirt at Target, washed it, ironed it and cut out these 2 t-shirts, happily using the hems where possible. The only hem I had to sew today was the bottom of the smaller shirt. Plus I re-used the ribbing at the neck on the smaller shirt. So, an experimental fabric source.

    The patterns were traced from the Kwik Sew book, Sewing for Toddlers. Yes, this book is wildly outdated, but the patterns are basics and toddlers generally don’t care if their clothes are up-to-the-minute stylish, they want simplicity and comfort. And trains. I traced the T1 size for DGS2 and the T3 size for Big Brother but used the T4 length. My experience with these patterns is that they run a little wide, but nothing like the usual Big 4 patterns for kids and babies. The shirts look about right, but they haven’t been tried on yet. So, experimental patterns.

    About the trains. We were wandering through Beverly’s Fabrics a while back after an unsuccessful hunt for zippers for the fleece jackets that are all finished except the closures and suddenly this rack of embroidered appliqués appeared many aisles removed from the sewing area. Full stop, back the train up and choose one for the upcoming t-shirt project…ooh, they have TRAINS. I wasn’t looking forward to sewing these appliqués on so imagine my delight when I took a closer look today and realized they were IRON-ON. Sweet. They seem well adhered, but who knows how they will wash. I suspect they will curl and pull away and eventually fall off. But babies and toddlers do not wear their clothes for long. So, experimental appliqués.

    Tomorrow I deliver them and we see how they fit and find out if there will be more in the pipeline. I am considering using Men’s XXL t-shirts for fabric to make my own tees.

    Motivation

    2016 Sewing for Children Contest
    And I downloaded a Brindille and Twig Romper pattern, have got snaps and a snap setter on the way and have had the Mickey Mouse fabric on hand for some time, should be enough to make the romper for Ryan and a Tee for Logan. In order to comply with the rules of the contest I can’t start actually sewing on this project until August 1st which is still a week away, but I’ve got plenty to keep me busy until then. My current goal is to finish the white jacket my wardrobe so desperately needs and which has been in progress for 2 months before I begin sewing for the boys.

    What have I been doing for 2 months when I should be able to finish this in under a week you ask? Finishing up another project with an actual deadline, that drawing of Lemon Boy Cucumbers.

    Serger Thread Storage


    You can buy these Closet Maid over-the-door organizers at Target as of 7-2016. Aisle C-41 in my Tarhet. Are the aisle numbers consistent from one Target to the next? 

    Serger cones fit perfectly in this pitifully easy to assemble and install rack. Lots of them. And who has a serger and doesn’t have lots of cones of thread? This is not my original idea. I found it on the forums of Patternreview.com while desperately searching for ways to organize my sewing room. I am merely passing it on. Paying it forward if you will. It’s a great idea, so thanks to the original poster, whoever you are.

    Updated to add that the serger cones fall over so it’s best to store them lying down and they fit fine that way too.

    Mind games I play with myself…

    So I went shopping for fabric recently in the L.A. Garment District and bought several promising new pieces of fabric for summer sewing. But I promised myself I would sew up ALL of the fabric I had purchased last year at this time in L.A. before I embarked upon the exciting new fabric. The last 2 pieces were a swimsuit fabric I bought to make a tennis skirt (easily and quickly done) and this double sided plaid cotton stuff that looked for all the world like it would make a lovely shirt when I bought it, but I was having doubts. Then I washed the fabric and it turned into crinkle gauze. My recent default position for using up difficult fabric is to make sleep/lounge wear out of it if at all possible. Robes, nightgowns, pajamas, etc. This has worked for me several times and once again voilá, I have some VERY comfortable and versatile pajamas. I can wear the bottoms with an athletic top that I rarely wear to the gym anymore but still has plenty of life. I can wear the top with some plain shorts if I find/buy/make some one day. I can wear the set together. I’m so glad I made these happy-go-lucky, devil-may-care jammies with sort-of almost mostly matching plaids in the important places rather than sweating bullets trying to really match this impossible shifting plaid for a serious garment like a shirt! Besides which, who is wearing hot pink plaid shirts these days anyway? Here they are:

    Would have matched that plaid had I known it was going to show through the reverse side of this fabric.

    Would have matched that plaid had I known it was going to show through the reverse side of this fabric.

    Simplicity 3696 pants

    Jalie 2787

     

    Here we are stash-busting with fabric AND pattern today. I’ve had this fabric and pattern in their respective stashes for a long time. The fabric is a tissue thin knit but surprisingly firm given how sheer it is. The only thing preventing this from being a see-through shirt is the ink of the print and the overlay design on the front. Definitely a cami is in order when wearing this top since there are no overlays on the back. I made my usual size T in Jalie knit tops and it is snug, but not unwearable. If I made it again I would size up if the knit was similar. For a stretchier knit, I would sew the size T again.

    One comment on the design: the layer under the crossover portion is not stitched to anything at the top, this makes the design suitable for nursing, but I felt that the elastic that is stretched across the top of the piece before stitching it to the side seams could be a bit shorter to prevent possible sagging. I’m not convinced it’s going to hold up, but don’t want to risk tacking it to the under layer because I fear that would be unsightly.

    Another comment on the instructions: they are not clear on step 6, figure 8, pre-sewing the partial side seams. Here is where you create the over/underlap and they make no mention of how it’s accomplished. It’s not hard, but neither is it obvious until you think about it. I had to pick out my first side seam attempt because I left a layer out. There are 3 layers going in to this partial side seam, the back, the underarm portion of one top front and the side (lower) portion of the OTHER top front. It’s not until the next step you finally add the bottom front, which is attached only at the side seams and then you can serge everything for a clean finish. They don’t say it, but you are basically basting the upper tops and then the front to the back with zig-zag stitching before making a final (optional, really) pass with the serger to clean finish everything. Here’s a picture of the front from the inside prior to the final pass with the serger, note that you can see more layers on the right side:

    Jalie2787-1b

    This is a first for me: I am going to leave this top un-hemmed. I can see why RTW is doing this more these days with the very lightweight knits. The fabric resists hemming, wanting to curl and puckering when stitched. I could fuss with the settings on my coverstitch machine in the hope of getting a more successful hem, but I really want to move on and am not sure how much I’m really going to wear this top, so I think I’ll just roll with it. Literally.