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!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

On a Tear

For nearly an entire month now, I've been on a tear. A cleaning-sorting-organizing-purging tear. It started when I could not find a coat I made six years ago.

I love this cotton coat with its quilted black and white polka dot lining. It's a Marcy Tilton design, Vogue 8934. Because it is cotton, I don't usually wear it in deep winter but I reach for it during early spring or late fall. So I was dismayed when I could not put my hands on it one day when I was reaching for it.

I checked in with a couple of my kids that I have to travel to visit. The picture above was taken at the MFA in Boston while visiting my son and his family. No one has seen it.

So I decided that only thing to do was to clean closets. Surely if I systematically clean each and every closet - poof - my sweet coat will appear. And I have way too much stuff that does not get used, so this was a good opportunity to give/throw things away, Marie Kondo style, something I've needed to do for a while.

The 4th closet I cleaned was my sewing closet. It exploded, leaving an embarrassing trail through 2 bedrooms and a sitting room. After much sorting, I identified some that I thought ASG would like to include in their annual sale. It's one of those sales where I always hope my donations > my purchases.

I am not finished with the cleaning-sorting-organizing-purging tear, but I'm starting to sew again. Perhaps because of the chilling effect of cleaning out too much junk, I have not wanted to make anything from scratch. So I've been mending and modifying.

First up is stafford jacket from the Sewing Workshop, of course. Theirs includes 3/4 length sleeves and is much, much shorter than mine. Initially mine looked like this:

I have not worn it much and wondered if I'd like it better with buttons down the front. I think I do.

Then I took a look at another seldom-worn item, a Tabula Rasa (Fit for Art) vest from some really nice wool. I remember fretting over the collar band when I made it. I finished it with some coordinating linen and some stencil prints. I also added a little sashiko.

The stenciling just never suited me much. So I removed the linen band and replaced it with dark brown corduroy. It is nice to have a stash of remnants for little projects like this one. I made add a little sashiko to this one too.

As I was giving it a good press, I detected a tiny hole. Of course, I had the remnants from this project, but felt like I was taking 2 steps forward, and 3 steps back.

After taking a little break, I was ready to add a pocket. Truth-be-told, it was fun. First I cut a piece of tissue for a basic patch pocket. Then I traced primary threads from the plaid onto pattern tissue:

This made it easy to cut my pocket so as to match the plaid. I lined it with a scrap of Bemberg Ambiance lining material, cutting the lining just a little smaller than the pocket.

I'm pleased with the result.

Lastly I added a fun little pocket to one of my all-time favorite little jackets. I made it in 2013 from a Paco Peralta pattern that I ordered directly from him, may he rest in peace. It's called the coolie jacket. inside of my old (2013) Paco Peralta jacket. The jacket has side seam pockets but they are just too shallow for anything. I also mended some seams. So satisfying!

Meanwhile, I'm back to making some rope baskets. Zen sewing, for sure.

But I still haven't located that black and white coat. I hope it turns up some day!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Sapporo Coat

Oh, my. This pattern. I've had my eye on it a while. I started following #sapporocoat over on IG, and it was just a matter of time before I would buy this one and make it up.

Local fabric store and sewing studio, Topstitch, advertised a class for making this popular jacket. I couldn't sign up for the class due to travel plans, but I contacted them and purchased the pattern. This pleased me because it's a New Zealand publication and I really wanted a paper pattern, rather than a PDF.

There are many things to love about this pattern:
  • the overall lantern shape
  • the cool slanted in-seam pockets
  • the way the neckline frames the face
  • bracelet length sleeves

Since I had waited a while to purchase it, I took my time making it. I read all the 4-star reviews on PatternReview. There are lots of 5-star reviews too, but I find that 4-star reviews often reveal issues more effectively than 5-star reviews.

One of the reviews included a link to a sew-along tutorial here. That was instructive because I could see what the intent was and make changes accordingly.

The instructions included in the Sapporo Coat pattern are cute but sparse. There are many curved seams that benefit from stay-stitching, not mentioned once. In fact, my outer fabric is a very firm wool and stay-stitching was required for smooth curves.

The cut-on in-seam pockets also need stay-stitching at the corners. I wish now that I had added a little interfacing to the pocket opening. Next time.

I also under-stitched at the neckline and the sleeve hems by hand. Because my lining is flush with the edge of the sleeve hem, I also used a Susan Khalje technique for steam pressing. It seems to be mostly working, though I may add some subtle sashiko stitching to make sure nothing rolls.

This fabric is a remnant purchased from local fabric store, Gail K, several years ago. It is similar to wool crepe. The base is brown wool and there is a thicker black thread woven in creating the look of a subtle pin-stripe. Because of this novelty weave, I thought it would be wise to cut with nap. A close examination of the instructions made clear that their layout was WITHOUT nap. Glad I caught that.

A significant and documented problem is the lining. Oy.

The pattern includes a separate front lining to be attached to cut-on front facings. The back piece is the same for both the outer fabric and the lining. But they are designed so that there is ZERO slack or ease in the lining. That is, you are to cut off all the extra vertical length in the back piece and the front lining piece is woefully short. At least one reviewer noted that her back hem was already starting to curl up.

I added inches to the front and back lining pieces to provide the needed slack for a conventional lining. I also added a center back pleat to the back lining piece.

The pattern calls for using outer fabric for the lining for the sleeves. The method for attaching the lining and outer sleeves together generates a lot of bulk, as can be seen in a number of reviews and pictures on line. I ignored those instructions and constructed my lining in a traditional fashion, mirroring the jacket.

I used many techniques for jacket making learned from Pam Howard. What fun to remember taking a very challenging tailored jacket class from her!

One technique was the slick handling of vertical slack along the lower front hem, as well as bagging the jacket lining, after hand-stitching the hems. I love that technique!

My lining was also from deep stash. I think it was in a mystery bag I purchased from Marcy Tilton during her last Design Outside the Lines workshop in 2013. I was sad to discover that it is polyester. I burn tested it more than once because I really wanted it to be rayon.

It is a polyester satin and so ravels like crazy. But it has wonderful drape and feels silky. And I like the way it looks with this rich brown wool. If it makes me uncomfortable, I'll just take it out and line with rayon or silk. But for now, I'm enjoying the look of the polka dots.