Saturday, December 27, 2014


Corduroy: corde du roi, fabric of the king, dating back to the 18th century.

pure comfort

To me it is like comfort food. It is the fabric I reach for when the weather turns cold.

And brown corduroy? It doesn't get any better than that.

The back is longer than the front.

Louise Cutting's latest pattern - Just My Style - arrived in my mail box yesterday and I like it. I did not make this yesterday though. Louise shared proofs with me when I attended the Ann Williamson workshop that Louise hosted in October. There were no instructions, just pattern pieces.

great shoulder
Even without the instructions, it was a fun make. And it is different from her other pull-over tops.

The armscye is low like many of her drop-shouldered patterns. The key difference is that the shoulder seam sits right at the shoulder. I really like this and find it more flattering than a drop shoulder.

The theme is pockets, and who doesn't love a few cool pockets? View A calls for one large pocket on the lower portion of the front, and two overlapping smaller pockets in the chest area. I decided to put my second small pocket on the opposite sleeve, rather than overlapping the two. That overlapping look is quite charming when different fabrics are used. My goal was a simple shirt that I could wear with almost anything.

The pattern calls for a self-fabric bias trim at the neckline. Even though my fabric is baby whale corduroy, I didn't want to make binding with it. Instead I used a remnant of cotton batik on the neckline and to create cuffs on the sleeves.

And of course, I added a little sashiko. The neckline is outlined and the cuffs are sewn down with the sashiko stitch. Or kantha stitch. Or running stitch. This reminds me that I am still dreaming about making a garment quilted with this stitch, kantha-style. That will be a long-term project, not a quick make like this.


I think that this pattern may become a TNT. And I look forward to making it again with all of the excellent instructions that are in the CLD patterns. Oh, and view B is completely different. Another two-fer from Louise!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

make merry

Wrapping gifts - it always give me pleasure.

Box bags for DIL1 and GD1

Happy New Year
5x7 for Fiber Art Fusion exchange
Linen, Beads, Pearl Cotton threads

Electronics bag for DD2

Portfolio, also for DD2

iPad case for DD1 plus a bag for the cords

More nesting box bags for DIL2
Bath robes for three amigos (cousins)
Left to right: Peter Pan, Wizard, Hello Kitty

Whew! Done. 

Wishing you an artful and happy holiday.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

You may know her, too

Challenges are like a red flag to me. If it's something in or near my wheel house, then I simply cannot resist. And, if it is a challenge from my rather small fiber art group, then I'm obligated.

And yet, as soon as I start on the challenge, I start to freeze up.  It starts in my head and works its way down to my finger tips. I begin to believe that I am a most uncreative being.

Part of my mind dismisses this. After all, I do truly believe that we are all creative. I believe that we were created to be creative. Uncreative is not even a real word.

And yet, that voice starts in on me...

That's too easy.
That's so predictable.
That is ugly.

The voice just goes on and on, if I don't rein her in. Maybe playing with some fabric helps?

Another solution is to just make something. Anything. Maybe that is why I so enjoyed making these easy bath robes for the grands. OTOH, I truly did think about them and how sweet they are as I assembled these little garments.

Yet another solution is make something with potential to be artistic. Maybe try a technique that intrigues. Yes, that is when she is most vocal, most articulate, most destructive.

I'm thinking a more effective solution is to shush her and move on. That is what I am doing today.


OK, I feel better now. How about you? Do you know your inner critic as well as I do?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Two Easy Robes

Simple and relaxing. That is the kind of sewing I enjoy at this time of year. Simplicity 1562 was just right.

The pattern envelope contains patterns for children, teens and adults. It is a classic design with the shawl collar, belt in carriers, and patch pockets.

A grandson and a granddaughter selected their own fabric at JoAnn's. Can you tell? I washed both pieces of fleece and set them aside so I could dread sewing it a little while.

Honestly this fleece was a pleasure to sew. It's fluffy so I used pattern weights, instead of pins for cutting it out. I did learn to never, ever again cut it with the rotary cutter. Something about the depth of the pile and texture - it sank into the surface of my cutting mat and scarred it a little.

Sewing fleece is such a breeze - I had forgotten. Of course, it does not ravel, so no need to finish edges. I haven't hemmed these robes and yet they look finished, I think. I'm waiting for the grands to try them on before hemming.

There were parts of the pattern instructions that were inappropriate for fleece. For example, the neckline/collar seam is to be finished by turning the raw edge of the upper collar under and slip-stitching it in place along the back neckline. I used the old stitch-in-the-ditch technique to stitch the upper and under collars in place along the back neckline seam. The thread completely disappeared into the pile.

There were parts of the instructions that cried out to be ignored. The instructions for creating the belt were surprising. You are instructed to sew across both short ends and down the long edge, leaving an opening large enough to turn the belt right side out.

Seriously, there must be a gazillion ways to turn a tube that are easier than this.

This time I sewed the long edges together, attached a large safety pin to one end and turned it inside out easily. And with this fleece, there was no need to finish the short ends anyway. I made the belt carriers in the same way.

Barbara at sewing on the edge has just posted her concern about patterns with overly-complex instructions that have a low probability of success for the new sewer. And the new sewer may not know of other ways. Barbara is threatening to write a book. I hope she does. I will want it on my shelf. I have a hunch she knows LOTS of the cool tricks.

Because these bath robes were so simple, I decided to fussy-cut the patch pockets so that the pattern would match. I'm fairly certain this detail will go unnoticed by the grands but it's nice to have at least a small challenge. It's the simple things that make me happy.

The black pockets with stars were a little frustrating until I realized I had flipped the fabric. Hello Kitty was easy-peasy to match. And Hello, Kitty makes me smile.

The pattern has virtually no finishing details and leaves the facing flopping around in the front. This was easily fixed by machine-stitching the facing to the fronts along the facing edges. And I like that extra vertical line.

This pattern is actually pretty well drafted, I think. I will buy it again and keep the tissue intact. It is a classic bath robe. Not exciting, but so, so comfy and useful.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Gracious Lady

One of the first times I met Ruta, she was seated next to me in my first class with ASG Atlanta. Marsha McClintock was teaching a class using her Portlandia pattern, an interesting and fun pattern for a hooded coat.

We introduced ourselves and I learned that Ruta was president of ASG Atlanta. I learned this in the quiet way that Ruta had about her.

Later I learned that she was a retired researcher with a PhD from Berkeley, a veteran, mother, grandmother, wife. Much later I learned these things about Ruta.

Ruta's clothing aesthetic and construction is legendary. But I did not learn that the first time I met her either.

Here is just one example of her work. As a member of  Association of Sewing and Design Professionals, she created a half-scale reproduction of this Vionnet gown. Hers is featured in Threads.

Ruta accomplished these and many other things after retiring.

Her own clothes were impeccable and she always looked pulled together, yet entirely relaxed and cheerful.

She continued even after her diagnosis of ALS. Almost a year ago, she was interviewed for City-Wide Couture here in Atlanta. We were treated to a review of her sewing journey. In addition to many of her sewing admirers, her husband attended the interview and a granddaughter modeled her clothes.

One garment of hers has special meaning for me. The two of us were browsing in Louise Cutting's booth at a sewing expo. Ruta spotted this fabric first.

This is a beefy hand-painted cotton. It was expensive. Ruta hesitated. We talked about it. Finally I told her that if she did NOT buy it, then I would. She promptly bought the rest of the bolt! So for a long time, I teased her about stealing that fabric from me. And that's the way I remember it.

Of course, only Ruta could have done it justice, selecting this distinctive Geoffrey Beene design from Vogue patterns.

Notice how she used some of the hand-painted cotton on the hem portion over the hips because it shows when you move. The lining is a perfect color of Bemberg Ambiance. 

The beautifully finished cuffs, the careful placement of fabric in the triangular insert in the back - it was all carefully and artfully composed. Finally she chose a special closure.

A dear mutual friend of ours told her husband a bit of the story of this fabric recently. He then gave the jacket to me. Thank you, Roger. Thank you, Lorraine. Thank you, Ruta.

What a treasure. It is now hanging in my sewing room, reminding me of Ruta. And I miss you, gracious lady.

Dr. Ruta Jonavic Wilk

Monday, December 1, 2014

Before and After: Butterick 5891 - the Jacket

Recently Dixie of With Needle and Brush described three versions of Butterick 5891 and made the case for mining one pattern to achieve different looks.

Dixie created 3 very different tops/jackets from the jacket portion of this pattern. Each one is artful and totally Dixie.

I have made the vest/top portion of this pattern a few times, but have made the jacket only once. And I wear that jacket every chance I get.

Sometimes, I like to return to finished projects and make adjustments. And sometimes this goes very badly but this time, I like the result.

Buttons and pockets are always a good thing.

Before adding buttons and pockets

I added pockets with buttons and some closure buttons. I was surprised to see how it changed the look of the jacket to add that top closure.

The fabric is a Brussels washer shot in black and ivory. It is cotton and rayon and more beefy than other Brussels washers I've sewn with. This one was purchased from Waechters right before they closed.

And now I really, really want to make this again, perhaps in something appropriate to the cold weather we are having. Because this jacket is asymmetrical, it has extra possibilities with the neckline. I also wonder how it would be as a vest, longer maybe. Lined. Two left sides. Two right sides.

Butterick 5891 is a great pattern to make over and over again, Dixie. (Hope you don't mind me copying.)

Butterick 5891 is on sale for $3.19 over at Club BMV, in case you need this pattern.