Thursday, January 16, 2020

Hola, San Diego!

This is a very good pattern from the Sewing Workshop - the San Diego top, tunic and jacket.

I just finished a black and white top, so now I've made the top twice and the jacket twice. This is an older TSW pattern that was re-issued in the last couple of years. The new issue includes the original jacket, as well as a newly drafted top and tunic. Here are some things I love about it:

  • Forward shoulder seam
  • Front placket 
  • Front pleat
  • Face-framing cut-on collar that can stand up in the back, or not.

I now require a forward-shoulder adjustment and have to remind myself over and over again of this. But with this fairly dramatic forward shoulder design, I can get away without that modification. I do have to be careful to mark the shoulder seam dot on the sleeve pattern so that I don't insert it incorrectly. 

The front placket, as drafted, is a bit low and needs at least one button to stay in closed. By simply top-stitching a box, instead of an L shape on the placket, it still slips over my head and is high enough for my comfort.

The sleeves, as drafted, are too short for my tastes. I like a 3/4 length sleeve that can be rolled up. So I simply lengthened it a few inches, and created a cut-on facing to allow me to roll the sleeves without showing the underside of this fabric.

Speaking of this fabric, isn't it fun? I purchased it from a local fabric store, Top Stitch Studio, last year. It is a lovely soft blouse-weight cotton, easy to sew, comfortable to wear, and wrinkles do not show. I briefly considered trying to match the pattern. I don't think there's any need to get carried away in this case. The print is random-looking and the faces change direction, so I probably didn't even need to cut it *with nap.* 

The design is nearly invisible with this busy print. The first San Diego top I made shows the structure of the top more clearly. It is made from another great piece of fabric, a soft medium weight linen-silk blend. I added a special button to bring up the neckline a bit.

The pattern envelope also contains the older OOP jacket version. 

My first jacket version was made from a rough weave of cotton and linen. I did not line it, using faux flat felled seams to finish the interior. I grab this jacket often when I need a light layer, even when it's just a little too cool indoors.

I had great fun, drafting a 2 piece (3 on one side due to fabric limitations) sleeve, adding cuffs and button loops.

The next version I made was very nearly a wadder. The outer fabric is a beefy wool, quite scratchy but great for cold weather. I started out intending to use a precious leather for the facings to protect my neck from the rough wool. The leather was way softer than I expected it to be and I had no depth of experience with leather, so I created lots of ugly folds and creases. That part is buried somewhere in deep stash. Ultimately I used black silk duplioni. As usual, this wonderful fabric is easy to sew and feels great up against my neckline.

Because my goal was outer wear, I made the wool one a little larger, interlined with cotton flannel, and lined with a fun silk print. It is a great layer for very cold days. We are having unseasonably warm winter weather right now, but I expect bitter cold is on the way.

I think I'll make this pattern again. The jacket has interesting possibilities as a vest, or even a longer coat. And I'm still thinking about the tunic too. I like the uneven hem, don't you?

Friday, January 10, 2020

Getting Unstuck

It happens, even, and maybe especially, after a super fast first make of the year. I start something that seems pretty straight-forward, and then it becomes a project. My evil twin keeps telling me to just throw it in the trash can. But my other evil twin - the persistent (read, stubborn) side - wins and I keep plodding along.

Almost 3 years ago now, I made some red wool pants. Now I have made and worn and felt good in red pants many times. But these were not good. I felt like a huge red flag. I do not think I ever wore them outside of my house.

And at some point, I dismantled them. It's a deep rich shade of red with blue undertones. My stash contained the pieces of the pants, plus the remnants. It was just enough to make a vest, I thought.

I chose a very old pattern from the Sewing Workshop - the Mimosa. The pattern includes fitted pants and an Asian-styled wrap top. I made the top many times years ago and the pants at least once. I've been meaning to pull it out again and so decided it would make a fun vest.

The two main pieces fit nicely on the deconstructed pants and the band came out of the remnants. I had to re-cut the armscye to accommodate tops and shirts.  And I decided to make a two-piece band so that I would not have wool right against my neck. The back side of the band is silk shantung. This is not only easier on my neck but provides a nice stabilizing effect too.

The silk looks lighter in the picture than it is IRL. It's very close to the color of the wool.
I found two lining remnants to use for the lining. The back lining is a gray Bemberg ambiance and the fronts are lined with a fun silk print.

Things were moving along nicely until I noticed a tear near the hem on one front, and two tears on the other front.

My first reaction was to add pockets to each front. But that looked odd, given the location of the tears. After seeing a beautiful red dress on Instagram, I was inspired to applique circles over the tears, adding a 3rd at the back neckline.

Sue Stoney's upcycled wool shawls
I played around with several circle sizes and finally decided on this, first lining with the silk shantung. Later, I removed the silk for less bulk.

My next little challenge was how to handle the lining at the intersection of the front band and the front hem. This is where a bit of slack is often built into a lined jacket. I'm not 100% happy with the result,

but then I'm not 100% happy with this vest.

It's too short - at least for this gray tee shirt.

I don't think the silhouette is very flattering.

I have picked out way too many stitches on this little piece.

I had thought I'd add meandering red sashiko stitching to it. But I won't, at least now. It's time to move on.

Monday, January 6, 2020

First Make of the Year

My first make of the year happened fast, even for me. I finished it the evening of January 1!

It was a very easy make. I spent more time figuring out what to make than I did actually making it. I'm still not sure I made the right decision. But this is most definitely one of those cases where Finished is Better than Perfect.

Looks like a tablecloth here!
It started when a sweet friend at church said she had something to show me. A friend of hers had brought her a length of fabric from Viet Nam and she didn't know what to do with it, so she wanted me to "make something." And pay me. Not that payment does much to motivate me these days.

Instead of saying no, I said I'd think about it. And I took it home. Bad idea. Now it was too late to say no. Really. So I said to her, how about a scarf? Or a tote? Or a top? She said, you choose - you know best.

This piece of fabric is, shall we say, unusual. It is pretty clearly hand-woven and prone to massive raveling. I initially thought it must be cotton, but a burn test confirmed polyester. It makes me a little sad to think that some hard-working artisan had to use such materials to hand-weave this piece. The weave itself is quite lovely with a striped effect on either end, and pure plaid in the center.

It was 36" wide and almost 2 yards long, too small for many projects I initially visualized. I finally managed a hack of the Sewing Workshop Hudson top, view A.

Even so, I did not have enough for that cowl collar. I redrafted the neckline, applying a favorite facing technique. I used a red linen remnant for the neckline and sleeve hem facings.

I tried it on, just to see. I really don't mind sending it off to its rightful owner.

I'm delivering it tonight and I have no idea at all what to charge. Another good reason to avoid these situations!

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Roaring into the Twenties

My intention is to record my every sewing activity here, but somehow December has almost disappeared with no entry at all. In fact I did very little sewing during December. There is just too much going on to set aside significant times for sewing. So I worked on small, mainly mindless projects in the sewing room.

There were a few UFOs finished including these placemats, plus napkins that don't really match. It was one of those projects I jumped on and then lost interest in, once it became repetitive. That's why I'm not a prolific quilter. The napkins were made from remnants of a previous project. Teresa Daily gifted me some of her wonderful hand-dyes and I made a CLD jacket.

The placemats were constructed from the remnants of a lengthened Cottage shirt (TSW). I originally bought the fabric (from TSW) thinking they'd make wonderful placements and then got distracted by garment sewing. So I was only able to manage 4 placemats.

Actually each placemat is a little quilt. I used the quilt facing technique I learned in a class I took from Cindy Grisdela back in May. I really like the frameless effect.

Making rope bowls is a soothing activity for me. I made these 3 as a gift to take to newly married nephews in Austin.

And then I needed more soothing, so I made this one for myself. I almost have one for every season!

Then DDIL admired an old naked rope bowl during a visit. That was all the encouragement I needed to make a few of those. Here is hers:

This one was intended for DD2.


And I couldn't leave out DD1 either, but I failed to capture a picture of it. It was really lovely, so simple. Trust me.

There was a request for a flannel pillow case in the Starwars porg theme, by one grandson. This led to a small Joann's Fabrics debacle. 

On a generous day, I am no fan of Joann's. I know that I am lucky to have better fabric stores nearby and so I don't malign anyone who is a fan. I dislike their stupid coupon schemes and the quality of their fabrics. But they have a monopoly on licensed fabrics, so I really had no choice but to shop there.

In order to limit my time inside Joanns, my work-around was to shop online at Joanns. This seemed to allow me to select my fabrics online, let them find the bolts and cut it, and then I would pick up the fabric in the store.

I received an email telling me that my order was received, but to wait until I received the next email telling me it was ready for pick-up. And then, crickets. Meanwhile my CC was charged. After a week, I called the store and was informed that my order had been cancelled because I did not pick it up. The CC charge was not reversed, of course. 

A manager did try to be helpful by finding the bolts, cutting it and setting it aside for my immediate pick-up. But when I arrived, a different manager wanted to charge me for the fabrics. My husband wanted me to just grab it and run, but I'm not that brave so I waited them out. They tried to reach the website humans and failed. After waiting and waiting, they finally gave up and let me leave with the fabric, saying "It's not that I'm taking your word for it. I'm just tired of waiting on the phone." Yes, a completely missed opportunity for them to display a modicum of customer service.

My final gift-making attempt was almost as snake-bit as the porg adventure. But by now I was taking it all in stride. The youngest grandson wanted me to make him a Power Ranger's costume and I did briefly consider making him one. Every time we saw him, or talked on the phone, he reminded me that I was making him a Power Rangers costume. So I bought one for him at Walmart.

My work-around for this request was PJs in the Paw Patrol theme, also large in his world. Unfortunately I was not paying attention and made a Sewing 101 mistake. I don't think he noticed, do you?

Despite these slightly challenging sewing activities, I had the best Christmas. We had some tiny visitors - a cat family my granddaughter is fostering. They were out of town for a few days and I got to cat-sit. It was fantastic!

And then, my youngest son, my baby, made a surprise visit. The six of us were together - what could be better?!?

Daughter Summer, son Paul (surprise!), hubs Jim, daughter Julie, me, son Mel
And so as the twenties roar into the world, I am grateful for so many things - family, hands that sew, time to sew, and, of course, you, because you're reading this! I hope you have a creative 2020!