Friday, July 12, 2019

One More Before I Go


That's what happens every time I plan a trip and the accompanying wardrobe. I keep sewing and sewing, thinking I'll finally make the perfect wardrobe. And then, like Dorothy, I end up right where I started with all the clothes I will ever need, and more.

H and I made her one top for her Paris wardrobe.
This trip has been many years in planning - Paris with the grandgirls. I told them that I'd take them to Paris when the youngest was 10. And that is now. I terribly excited to show them Paris and watch them take it in. They are 15, 13, and 10. The 15-year-old has been to London with her parents, but the younger ones have never left the country. Their mothers and aunt were invited too, so there are 8 of us. High adventure for us all!

The 13-year-old is ready for Bonjour in her hand-crafted top!
My last minute finishes are a tee shirt and pants. But I've decided to leave the pants behind due to packing limitations.

Vogue 9063 with West End pants 
I do love the tee shirt. I used an old Vogue pattern I've used twice before with woven fabrics. It's a bit of a sleeper pattern, I think. A pull-on boat-neck style with a lower front band that can be a separate pattern piece or not.


I omitted the neck facings, opting for a bias binding instead. I should have made the sleeves 3/4 length but I'll roll them. The lower front panel is intended to be a separate piece with a matched facing. I overlapped the front and the front band to cut as one. Then I created a band facing on the bias and flipped it the the front.


For next time, I should remember that knits are really good for travel. I forget about them because I don't like sewing them - they wiggle all around and never look as neat as a cotton or linen woven fabric. And they are not as cool as woven cotton tops. As long as it's not hot like Atlanta, they are golden for packing and travel wear though.


This black and white rayon (I think) knit came from Louise Cutting's booth at Expo, as rare as hen's teeth in her booth. I do love a black and white stripe. To me, it says Bonjour!


The pants are black linen-rayon with lovely drape. I used the Picasso pants from the Sewing Workshop. It came down to choosing between these and my West End culottes. The culottes won.

Vogue 9063 with the left-behind Picasso pants. now I'm having second thoughts!
I may be able to close my suitcase without sitting on it. Just barely.


So jusqu'à demain et bon couture! I hope you're having a loving July wherever you are.


Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Never Say Never



I never wear shorts. Well, almost never. I own one pair of RTW shorts that I wear for walks, hikes, bike rides, rowing machine. Having this one pair of shorts allowed me to avoid making shorts because I do not feel all that comfortable in them.

Truly Terrible RTW shorts
After chaperoning 11 teens in Belize for a week, I have decided to come clean and admit that I wear shorts. There are simply times when shorts make sense. And these old RTWs are quite terrible.
So I made a pair of shorts.


I chose Fit For Art Eureka! pants as the starting point. These are narrow cut pants and so cannot be simply cut off. I think I tried that once and, of course, the results were not good.

Luckily I remembered that Carrie of Fit For Art had done a post on pants-to-shorts once upon a time. I was a little confused about part of it and posted a reply to her blog post. She not only replied on her blog but sent me an email message to make sure I was clear. Thanks so much, Carrie!

The fabric I chose is a linen-rayon blend purchased from the Sewing Workshop. I made a pair of culottes out this fabric and I love the feel and drape of it.

For mine, I first measured the outer seam of the awful RTW shorts, as these were the only reference point I had. I knew I wanted my new shorts to be longer so I added 7 inches to the RTW shorts outer seam.

Then I measured the outer seam of the front piece and the back piece, and folded the leg up so that my new shorts would be long enough, adding some for SA and hem. You can see in the picture the chalk lines I drew for the shorts. Evidently I'm not committed enough to making shorts that I think I need to create new tissue for them!



Based on Carrie's post and additional notes, I knew I needed to reshape the outer seam. Starting at the widest hip point, I dropped a vertical line to my proposed hem line. This added 1.25" to the width at the bottom. I added 1.25" to width at the inseam too, curving it back into the original curve near the crotch. I made the same changes to both the front and back pieces.

So that these would be a bit tailored, I added a fly to the center front of my shorts. Sandra Betzina's book is my go-to on this technique.



Then I decided to get fancy. I thought that perhaps a contour waistband would be quite comfortable, and, really, shouldn't the zipper extend into it? I could not quite conjure it in my imagination but felt confident it would all work out.

First zipper insertion, extending zipper into the contour waistband.
Creating the contour waistband was pretty easy. I created one that finishes at less than 2" in depth.

Extending the zipper into the waistband worked great on the narrow side of the fly front.
I watched several YouTube videos looking for a guide to installing the fly front zipper and extending the zip into the waistband. Nothing. There were several on adding a fly front, and there were several on extending the zipper into a waistband, but none on the combination of the two.

With unreasonable optimism I pushed ahead anyway. First I constructed the front darts. Then I added the front waistbands to each front. Then I installed the fly front zipper. All was swell.

But when I added the waistband facings, I realized that the facing would cover the top of the zipper due to the overlap created on a fly extension. To be honest, I did not realize it right away. I fiddled quite a lot. And let it rest overnight.

Nothing worked so I ripped out the portion of the zipper extending into the waistband. But that made the zipper too short. After an hour or so of picking black thread from black fabric, I was ready to install another zipper.

Second zipper insertion.
Sandra Betzina offers helpful advice on using a too-long zipper in this fly application. The stop goes at the bottom and the excess is cut off after it has been caught in the waistband. This creates a fairly flat transition.

Words were said, but in the end, I'm glad I ripped the first zipper out. I would've been unhappy with a too short zipper.

before the buttonhole fiasco
After that, things proceeded smoothly until I got ready to install a buttonhole in the contour waistband. My Bermina makes gorgeous automatic buttonholes. That's why I bought it. But it is finicky if there is any bump. That tiny zipper extension was just enough to cause it to get stuck.


So more words, more picking black thread out of black fabric.

Next I used the manual buttonhole - which is also darned good - and it worked just great!


I'm quite pleased with these shorts and will wear them proudly when the occasion calls for it.

easy machine hem
I should be careful when I say never. I used to say I'd never go on a zip line. And then I did.


But never again.


I'm serious this time.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

A Few Finishes

I've been away from my work bench quite a lot lately. When that happens, I like to tidy things up and this means finishing UFOs. There is something about finishing and liking the result that gives me inspiration for my next project.



In one case, I'm running in circles. I made this black linen Urban Tunic as a dress a couple of years ago. First I wore it as a jumper in order to avoid bare arms. Adding that white tee shirt seemed to help.


The following year I thought that adding sleeves would magically convert it into my favorite LBD.


Nope. When I wore it, I felt like a big black blob. So I removed said sleeves and I'm back to where I started. It's hot here so maybe my vanity over my floppy arms will lose out to the practicality of a sleeveless dress.


Or maybe I need to pull out that white tee shirt again. Or cut it off and make it a tunic. Or...

Go figure.
My second finish is a TnT pattern made up in textured cotton shirting in black. It's my much-altered version of the MixIt Top from the Sewing Workshop. I've made so many changes to it that I feel like it's almost my design!


It has a shaped facing that is stitched in place, creating a little neckline styling. This means it slips over my head.


I always enjoy pulling out remnants from other projects and incorporating them into new projects. In this case, I used a remnant of fabulous Japanese cotton. I do not get how it is woven but it has a different design on each side. And it is not printed. I don't get it but I love it.


One side of the Japanese piece reads striped, the other reads as little groups of hash-marks (cut on the bias here)

I used the bias version to finish the lower hem. I finished the sleeves with simple cuffs. I kind of like it with my green linen Fit for Art Eureka pants.


My favorite finish is this 17x22 inch art quilt. It makes me inordinately happy.


I started it in a class with Cindy Grisdela. I've long admired her work and was so happy to take classes from her. We brought our own fabrics and created improv designs informed by her aesthetic.


Cindy uses quilt cottons but my fabrics are from my stash - so silk, linen, and cotton. Some of them are cross-dyed. The colors change depending upon the light.



I finished the edges with a facing. It's frame-less and (I hope) more art than quilt. I cut a piece of burnt orange radiance (silk and cotton sateen) to the exact size of my squared-up quilt. Then I sewed them right sides together. I made a slit in the back, trimmed the corners and turned it right side out. Then I free-form cut the edges of the facing for a fun design in the back. The edges were turned under and stitched like hand applique.



I also took a free motion quilting class from Cindy. I love her beautiful machine quilting. But after I finished the piecing on mine, I felt a powerful need to hand quilt it. I used a 2-ply, 12 weight cotton thread from Aurofil. Now I see why people rave about Aurofil. Even after many hours of stitching, I was sad to finish. I have some travel coming up quickly. I think I need another project with hand-quilting, really, sashiko.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Dye Removal

In a recent post, I mentioned a white blouse that had been ruined by bleeding red dye from another garment in the wash. It left pink splotches in various places on the shirt. I tried spot remover. Then I tried washing it with a dye catcher. Neither worked. I figured I would just dye it.



Ah, but you, dear readers, saved the white shirt!


There were several good suggestions. The first one I tried worked. I'm so pleased.



Barb made a winning suggestion and pointed me to a site with more detail. Thanks, Barb!



It's a tip from the quilting world. I soaked my blouse in very hot water with some Dawn dish washing detergent and left it overnight. When I pulled it out, all the dye was gone! I washed it with some sheets to remove any remaining detergent and it is perfect. Or as perfect as it ever was.

Barb pointed me to details on this here.

There were some other worthy suggestions. I had planned to try each one, but no need.

beckster suggested Rite Dye Remover and fadanista suggested a soda ash soak.

Thanks to you all! Sewers are the best.

West End Revisited

The first time I made these pants I was not happy with the look. I felt dumpy in them so it almost didn't matter how they really looked. Not to be defeated so easily, I made them into a skirt. I never wore that skirt and it disappeared at some point. Then I made them in linen and liked them better, mostly because I raised the hemline.


Just realized that they are culottes, not pants. I shortened them by 4 inches and poof - culottes. In my mind. If I had known they were culottes, I might have liked them better.


I like them now, at least this particular pair. I made them in a black rayon-linen blend (not Brussels Washer - more rayon than linen). It was easy to sew and I really like the fit quite a lot. The fabric has just enough drape to suit this pattern, I think.


Since this is the summer of dresses for me, I'll wear culottes too.


And the pockets are sooooo cute.


I think I'll make them again, maybe full length in silk. I think that would work!

I've also been packing for a mission trip to Belize (a.k.a. British Honduras from my youth). I am one of 4 chaperones for eleven 15- and 16-year-olds. I'm a little nervous, as I am more of a grandmother figure. But I pride myself on being low-maintenance. This trip should test that myth belief. I figured that out when I read that we are to bring our own sheets and towels and we must be able to climb and carry all our belongings. Oh my!

I may take these culottes. They are certainly comfortable and shouldn't be as hot as long pants will be. I have packed a pair of shorts, but, oh, my - shorts. Necessity dictates I wear them.

Using up some nervous energy, I made 3 bags yesterday.


This is going to be my watercolor and sketching bag. It's made of a stiff cotton canvas and trimmed with some selvage gifted to me at a sewing retreat.


I lined it with some quilt cotton.

Or this one might be my watercolor and sketching bag. It's made from a piece of fabric I free-motion quilted in a class - I need lots more practice. I had to hide some of the big goofs with little patches.


I also made a weight-less nylon back pack. Although this nylon is not waterproof, I'm hoping it'll dry quickly. It's the rainy season in Belize.



So here goes nothing!