Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Turning inward

It's a cold, cold day here. 14 degrees Fahrenheit this morning. So it's a good day to turn inward.

Speaking of turning in, it's high time I upgraded my sleepwear. For someone who makes almost all her own clothes, my PJs are shameful. Ripped t shirts purchased at the thrift store, old knit pants, and so on. So...

First up is this kimono constructed from an old favorite, folkwear pattern 112, Japanese Field Clothing. I've used the kimono pattern many times now, and the pants a few times. I like the clever pants construction that makes use of strictly rectangular fabric pieces. But I love the kimono pattern with its graceful simplicity.

The kimono is also made from rectangles - two sleeve rectangles, one front/back rectangle, and one long skinny rectangle for the front band/collar. There is almost no waste in cutting this out. The exception is the keyhole cut made to create a neckline.

I had barely enough of this wonderful linen piece to construct a size L men's kimono. In fact, you can see above where I had to piece the long skinny front band. I also had to use a  light weight cotton fabric to face the sleeve hems and the main body hem.

I enjoy hand-finishing the raw edges of the seams, mostly while watching the news that is almost never enjoyable.

This linen was left over from a larger piece I purchased from a local designer who was cleaning out her stash several years ago. I made and wear a shirt out of it, also from a folkwear pattern, the Egyptian shirt. That too, is a very cool pattern. If you like making simple ethnic clothing, then folkwear is a great place to shop.

Another pattern from folkwear useful for PJs is what they call the Mexican dress. It is similar to those Mexican dresses many of us purchased for a song across the border in Texas during the 70's. I still have one of mine and this pattern is not exactly right. Someday I may redraft it to match mine.

This one is made from the cotton I used to face the kimono. It's a very light weight cotton with a dobby weave that I purchased from Vogue fabrics at a sewing expo. It is not a particularly fine piece of cloth but is soft and good for PJs.

The sleeves seem much larger in this pattern than they are in my old dress, but that's fine for my old wings, I think. They do kind-of stick out when I wear this so that I look like I might take flight.

The sleeves are quite lovely other than that. The underarm seam involves a Y seam that comes together perfectly.

It definitely needs some embroidery to look like the old-style Mexican dresses.

I also just completed a PJ set made with 2 Sewing Workshop patterns - the Eureka for the top and the Hudson for the pants. These are made from a super soft cotton knit that I purchased from the Martha Pullen booth at Expo.

It is sad that I did not purchase enough to make full length pants.

I hope you are finding time to create every day!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Inside Out Chateau Jacket

One day DC and I were out shopping the thrift and consignment stores and I spotted a bed set. It included two pillow shams and a 90x90 spread. And it has two interesting sides. Score!

So of course I bought it and cut it up. Because that is what I do, right? Cut up pretty textiles.

This is my third Chateau jacket, a pattern from the Sewing Workshop. I think it's my favorite. I love the white wool one but I'm so afraid of soiling it that I rarely wear it! I do believe I'll get the most wear out of this one. 

The Chateau lends itself it a large interesting print as there are only two pattern pieces plus a back facing. It is intended for non-raveling fabric and raw edges. I was able to use two corners of the bedspread for the fronts and a another finished edge for the back.

I think that the embroidery stitch used on the edges of the bedspread is the chevron stitch.
The Chateau pattern also includes instructions for binding the edges which is what I did. I had a cross-dyed cotton remnant in purple and orange. Just right for this crazy print.

It's not really a print. Rather it is large machine-stitched patchwork on very light weight cotton that is then hand-stitched to a heavier burnt orange back. The two layers are secured with hand sashiko done in stripes of cream, blue and orange thread. The edges are folded to the inside and hand-stitched together using a chevron stitch.

The stripes are wonky, as you can see in the pic of the markings for my welt pocket opening.
The first time I finished it, I realized that I liked the inside much better than the outside.

I am quite fond of the subtle pattern of the stripes of big stitches. But then I am partial to visible sashiko. I hand-finished the raw edges of seam allowances (SAs) in the following way:

  1. pressed the SAs open.
  2. trimmed out some of the bulk
  3. folded the raw edges under, and
  4. fell-stitched the SAs open along the folded edge.

The finishing on the seam allowances accents the lines of the Chateau jacket:

I even like the exposed back facing.

As originally planned, the outside sort of wears me instead of the other way around. I sought advice from a number of sewing friends and came up with a fix that I like. It is now completely reversible though I will no doubt wear the orange side out the most.

In order to have functioning pockets on both sides, I kept the original patch pockets on the wild side and created single-welt pockets on the burnt orange side. The patch pocket works as a pocket bag for the burnt orange side.

Here's how I created the pockets: I removed the original patch pockets. Then I added a single welt pocket opening to the orange side. I omitted the pocket bag. Next I re-sewed the patch pockets in place. So on the wild side, they are standard patch pockets; on the burnt orange side I have welt pockets.

I used an older Sew Confident tutorial to make the single welt pocket openings. It is very clear and easy to follow. This is available through the 2015 subscription to Sew Confident or as an individual tutorial found here.

This is not great fabric. I've already discovered a frayed place just above one of the patch pockets. That's OK. I'll add a boro patch and be even more pleased with it!

So which side would you wear?

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Real Man's Shirt

I love making shirts.

I even have a shirts tab on this blog, though I've not updated it in a while. I find all the details fascinating from the button plackets on the sleeves to the double row of top-stitching on the cuff. The latter is especially fun since the double row shows on the outside, but not the inside!

I guess I qualify as a sewing nerd when it comes to shirts.

Though I've made many a shirt for myself and a few for the grandboys, I had never made a regular man's shirt until last month. My guy wanted a shirt to match one the 2 year old grandson wears. We all looked high and low for a similar shirt with no luck. The obvious solution was for me to make one for each of them.

Now I knew DH would discourage me from this project, so I kept it under wraps until Christmas. This was both good and bad. The down side to such a surprise is that I could not take his measurements. The next best thing was to use one of his many existing RTW shirts. The man loves shirts and has more than a few.

Men's patterns are not plentiful so that was a challenge too. I wanted a shirt pattern with ALL of the conventional men's details. Vogue 9220 comes pretty darned close. It has the button plackets on the sleeves and the instructions are quite clear. It has a yoke and forward shoulders. It comes in three views - standard, slim fit and formal wear.

The sizing is not conventional for men's shirts from RTW. I was really hoping it would be sized by neck size and sleeve length like DH's shirts. But I guess it makes sense that the sizes are listed by chest size, as that is a good place to start fitting.

Comparing his RTW shirt with the pattern tissue, I chose size 40, standard fit. Sleeve length was easy to adjust. The neck size seemed about right.

The fabric is a lovely cotton shirting from Gail K. With a plaid or stripe, I like cutting the top yoke in two pieces with a center back seam. This allows me to create a solid line where the yoke joins each front. It also creates a chevron in the back.

Plaids are such fun, especially on a man's shirt, because there are great places for bias.

The little guy's shirt was made with an OOP Ottobre pattern.

It was child's play compared to my guy's shirt. Some of the conventional details were missing from the pattern including the yoke and the sleeve placket. I think that's OK for a  two-year-old.

In the end my guy's shirt is too tight and the little guy's shirt is a bit large. But they were sweet to pose for the picture anyway.

By the time I remake DH's shirt, the little guy will have grown into his. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Review of Gift-Making December

Or, why I haven't blogged in over a month.

Where did December go? Well, it flew by me. For the past month, I've been focused on making and buying presents for family members. The truth is that it was not all fun in 2017. And this was a monster of my own making, so-to-speak.

Next year, there will be few handmade gifts. I promise. I do love the idea of handmade gifts but I obsess over it. I don't think that fits with the spirit of giving. So unless it is zen sewing and gives me selfish pleasure, I must step back and allow time to breathe and enjoy the joy.

Here are the gifts I made, and honestly, some really were fun.

This jacket was requested by my granddaughter. It's made using Kwik Sew 3818, a medium-weight wool and lined with a medium-weight silk-cotton blend. I blogged about it here so I won't rehash it, But isn't she cute in it?

Next up were two robes. These were also by request. And they were so simple to make using Simplicity 1562, now probably out-of-print.

They are both made from polyester fleece, so easy to sew. The owls on white background is for my 8 year old granddaughter; the Clemson-themed robe is for my 11 year old grandson. The Clemson version was a HUGE success. He almost wore it into a movie theater. The owl version will be used too but did not garner great enthusiasm.

The last requested gift was this super-simple pillow case for a youth-sized pillow:

Here it is in its first use with 2-year-old grandson:

Now a sensible person would have stopped there. Those were requested and so pretty much guaranteed to please. I did not stop. Next I made these two (2!) patchwork pillows for another 11 year old grandson and his 13 year old brother (who wears glasses like these). They have two dogs of this breed.

If they look simple, then please, please look again. They took FOREVER to piece. Each contains half-square triangles no larger than 1 inch. Yikes! What was I thinking?

The pillows finish at standard bed-pillow size. I put a zipper in the back to allow for machine washing. When the 11-year-old opened it, he said, "Oh, look! A pillow." And he proceeded to unzip it and remove the pillow. Hmmm...

And then I could have stopped, yes? But for a long time now, I've had this great idea. My husband wanted a shirt to match one that the 2 year old had. Such a shirt simply did not exist. So I made each of them a shirt using this lovely cotton shirting from Gail K in Atlanta.

It took some research to find a man's shirt with most of the conventional details. I settled on Vogue 9220. Then I took measurements from one of my husband's shirts and tried very hard to make them match. In the end his was a bit too tight and the little one is too big. Of course, too big is not a problem with a two-year-old, so now I'm thinking about ways to remake the one for DH. Or maybe not.

The little one is from one of my old Ottobre magazines. I have used and used those patterns making many things for grandchildren with the enclosed patterns. I must say that was joyful to make.

I should probably write a separate blog on DH's shirt. I learned a lot about the fit of a man's shirt and I should document it before I forget.

As I reflect on making gifts this past month, I realize that the simplest were perhaps the most joyful to make. There's a lesson there.

So that was my December. I'm so glad it's January now.