Monday, March 30, 2020

Sewing Linen, Covid Garment #3


Linen is my absolute favorite fabric to sew and probably to  wear as well. Before I can explain  my favorite method for its construction I really need to explain how best to wear linen. There are a few caveats. 

To really get the most out of a linen garment both financially and stylistically it helps to follow a few tips. 

* Linen needs to be washed at least three times before cutting and sewing. It can take bleach but really shouldn't ever need it. It thrives on the hottest of water. 

* Linen garments, to be fully enjoyed, should be totally washable in the machine and dryable in your dryer. I have owned linen garments I've made, jackets, pants, tops and pajamas (wonderful, by the way) that I have worn for over ten years and they looked great till they could go no more, all washed and dried  over and over. 


* If you take your linens out of the machine just a hair shy of total dryness and if they are constructed the way I tell below, you should be able to shake them out, put them on a hanger and an wear them about 15 minutes later. I very rarely iron these clothes. They get a bubbly "boutique" look. You know, the bubbly casual look you pay for five times more than you should in the beach town boutiques on vakay. Just shake those bubbles out and rock on!

*To be able to have your garments  take this sort of  maintenance means starting with medium weight linens, nothing see thru. This weight rarely requires a lining for modesty. 

* Grey linens are generally not the best quality fibers. Go for colors or whites and light beiges with Irish linens being worth the expense. Remember, you will wear these garments over and over for years and years. Cost per wear, remember?

*Because of their longevity, your design choices are best in simple classic looks. It is also better for the construction and maintenance as well. 

*Garments with a fair amount of ease will work better for you over the years as weight fluctuates. 

*Solids will give you the longest and most wear time.  Just thinking about the investment side of good linen and how prints can be trendy.



After I finished my last two projects, I was sort of bumbling in the shadows of covid19 wondering what to do next. I decided to work on something I needed. I need sleeveless summer tops. I don't like knit tanks, just simple tops that pull over and are woven. I decided to draft my own. I really enjoyed that. I had some nice scraps of white medium weight linen that would be perfect. Unfortunately, it wasn't. I was missing about 1 inch of fabric to get in just one of the shoulder straps. I bumbled around some more and realized I had plenty of smaller  pieces to make a yoke of sorts in the front bodice. It worked fine. I committed it all to permanent paper and now have a new top pattern for summer, one that I can use with or without the yoke.  I like it. 

The above photo shows you how I like to sew linen  to get it to last me decades. I apologize for the all white photo and I did try to squeeze out as much contrast as I could. If you click it to another screen I think you will be able to see it better. 

*I choose simple designs.

* I don't line any thing made with this type of linen and I very rarely use a facing. If I do use a facing it is stitched down on the edge and an intentional part of the design. 

* EVERY seam is machine stitched, pressed as sewn, pressed to the side, and then serged together. The seam is then topstitched an 1/8th of an inch away from the original seam and then a 1/4 inch away from that topstitching, on top of the serging. It gives the look of a felled seam, is very strong and secure and it  holds up to years of machine washing. 

* The entire garment is clean finished within and without. On this top I used a lightweight cotton voile in a French fold bias finish for the armholes and neckline. On the side seams I carefully banged them where needed on cement with a hammer to reduce the bulk in the seam. I only needed to do one spot at the top of one side seam. Having all the edges enclosed and serged and topstitched makes for one tough garment. 



As in all sewing, there are various ways to sew, treat and wear/enjoy linen. It is just so versatile, comfortable in the heat, classy (I hope), and just a delight to sew and wear. As you plan your summer wardrobe and as we dream of days when we can get out in the summer sun, think of investing in some good medium weight linen and making yourself some pieces with simple design lines. They will bring you years of comfort and joy. Covid #4 is a skirt, another original, not pattern.......................Bunny

Friday, March 27, 2020

The "Eked Out Vest" New Look 6397

Do you like show tunes? My Fair Lady? Think "I'm in love, I'm in love, I'm in love with a wonderful vest!" I thought this came out with everything I want a vest to be, sophisticated, comfy cuddly, great fabric, and a bit unique without being to artsy fartsy .  The entire time I was working on the linen jacket I just made with New Look 6397, for the trip that may never happen, I kept eyeing this vest, View D, on that pattern. I knew I had a bunch of wool boucle left from making Vogue 1642. Could there possibly be enough? It ate away at me the whole time I was sewing linen. Above is the result of my obsession and I love it, LOVE IT. 



I have to tell you, this is the most I have been dressed up in a couple weeks. I am sure you are dealing with the same. It felt good. I do hope there is more to come and soon.  I will be using some abbreviations in this post and here they are. The first use will be written out.
HKS - Honk Kong seams
SAs - Seam allowances
CS - Catch Stitch
FS - Fell Stitch



Fabric:


I knew I had a fair amount of wool boucle left over from my sweater top, Vogue 1642.  Would it be enough? This fabric had a lot of texture and I did some piecing that never even showed by matching those diagonal lines of loops and a bit of careful sewing in between.   I wanted to  underline the vest and do Hong Kong seams throughout. Let me pick out my HKS fabric and then I will go buy the lining. I like my HKS to have some interest, either a vivid print or high contrast or such. I dug around and found two 60 inch pieces of this very beautiful sheer.  I have no idea what it is or where it came from. It was too drapey to be organza or organdy and too bouncy to be chiffon or georgette, but wow it was gorgeous. It was just plain taupe on the wrong side but when the light hit it right it had foiled brush strokes of all sorts of colors. Well, that would be the HKS. I went out to JAs, a while after I was mandated home due to Covid19 , and bought some anti static lining. I know it wasn't Bemberg but I wanted to get started right away and had used this lining fabric before with fairly positive results. 

Once home, I realized my two pieces of sheer were really quite big. Do I dare think I can get a complete lining out of those two strips? and the HKS? With only the addition of a center back seam in the lining it was easy peasy. By by cheap stuff that I really didn't want anyway. The entire vest would be underlined with the sheer and the HKS would be the sheer as well. Thrills all around! 

Pattern:


 Above you can see View D. My only modification was to eliminate the roll of the shawl collar and have the collar band instead just be flat and plain. That works better with my skinny neck. In my previous adventure with this pattern I cut the width of the collar band down an inch as a petite adjustment. Here I went for it. I did not do any changes or alterations whatsoever to the pattern this time. The collar width is as the pattern specifies and even the length of the vest is as dictated. I am so not a hi lo person for hems but this was not too exaggerated and I actually really like where the length falls front and back. It hides my booty in the back and adds length to my legs in the front. Maybe a convert here? So, no adjustments anywhere and I love it. 

Construction:



You know how sewists will tell you they hate putting in buttonholes or they hate cutting out or whatever...... I don't hate anything about sewing but I do live in mortal fear of one thing. I am deathly fearful of the hem that gets pulled up by a lining and does not hang nice and flat. I have seen beautifully made suits and at the end they are hemmed and that lining just comes up short and pulls and the hem curls under and it is awful. My biggest sewing fear, really. I was extra careful this wasn't going to happen here. Each piece had a layer of sheer  for the underlining and I knew there was no room for error or it would pull the soft boucle and give me night terrors. 






First I had to play with my fabric to get a piece large enough for the back bodice which was pretty wide. I was able to do a French seam down the middle and it all fit on fine. HOWEVER. this fabric was very challenging. It did not have the big bounce back of poly organzas but it was a little bouncy. It was also a lot slippery, not a good combo. I also wanted to get some ease into the pieces so there would not be that nasty pull up on the hem. That would need horizontal as well as vertical ease. I did this by first seaming the center back of the lining. Then I pressed and laid the fabric on grain on top of the cut back bodice. I pinned and pushed, sort of shoving the fabric towards the center of the piece and forcing ease into the garment. That is why as you look at it the lining looks so wavy. 

After I was happy with the fabric I "shoved" in  I pinned it all over the edges and center back. After that I diagonal basted everything down. It seems like there was a lot of ease from these maneuvers but much disappeared as I worked on the garment and just the right amount of ease seemed to be left. I proceeded to treat the front bodice pieces the same, shoved, pinned and basted.  It was very easy to put together after this. Newbies, take note. It took me DECADES to see the value of hand basting. It saves time, really. I'd rather be basting than using a seam ripper any day! Now I use the technique all the time.  

On this garment I decided to do the HKS as I went along. Here are some specific details from the construction. 



The HKS were definitely a challenge here but they were a must do with this very ravel prone fabric. They were miserable to pull off. The bouncy sheer just would not agree to wrap around the edge, never mind wrap nicely. I was getting frustrated. Then I decided to ignore tradition and try a zigzag stitch and it worked. It looked awesome and for some reason held down the sheer nicely as I went along. I did it right on top of the sheer and not into wool. I had wide SAs behind that were caught into the stitching and it gave a really nice tight finish. I will definitely use this zigzag HKS technique again, particularly for unruly thin fabrics that don't want to cooperate with wrapping around. 



One of the things I love about this vest was the ease of finishing. Look at the brilliance of the armhole finish. I did something just a bit different from the pattern because of the HKS.  While the side seam was raw and completely open I did the HKS from hem to hem, all the way around, over the shoulder seam. The hem was still raw. The pattern then has you sew up the side seam from hem to the armhole and simply press in the edge around the armhole and hem, so very easy and such a clean finish. I used a fell stitch to finish my armhole edges and the seam underneath is free. 

Like in the linen jacket I veered on the collar band also. I pressed in the edges of the collar band that would be on the lining side. I stitched my collar band to the FRONT of the bodice and turned it in. The seams were graded and and the inner side of the band was fell stitched down as you see above, a much cleaner, professional look, and frankly easier, IMO, than the pattern instructions. I did put a lot of handwork in here, but I considered it TV work and I enjoyed doing it. Much of this could have been topstitched and would have looked good on other fabrics. 



I love this pic because it shows the fell stitch collar, the HKS, the beautiful lining, the antique jet button, and the catch stitch embroidery. 



When I was all done I found the vest "well made" but not very exciting. It just all sort of blended together on the outside and needed an accent of sorts. I experimented with a few embroidery stitches. The nubby texture of the wool really conflicted with my efforts but a catch stitch with heavy embroidery thread worked best. I put it on the hem bands of the pockets and around one edge of the collar band, just enough. 



I still felt the vest needed some sort of focal point. I had not planned on a button but this antique jet lovely, a gift from a dear departed friend, was just the ticket. The photos don't do it justice. It really sparkles and is the perfect accent. For now I simply connected the two sides of the collar band with a safety pin underneath. If I decide to keep it there, I will make it more permanent. It really is lovely. 

In Conclusion:


leftovers!

I think I managed to "Eke Out" this vest. I do absolute love it.  It is all a winter vest should be, in my opinion. The pattern is so easy, so versatile and I can't recommend it enough. 


************
I hope you are all well in this time of challenge. Once in a while I may write some thoughts on my own experiences as the feelings are strong. I understand if you care to scroll by or share your own. There will be lots more sewing posts as I am now officially off till May 4th.  I wish you all the best, stay safe and be well.................Bunny

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Design your own perfect pockets, lined !



I have started working on a vest, View D, from the same pattern I just used for my linen jacket, New Look 6397. The hi/lo hem version I am making does not sport any pockets and I definitely wanted them. Even if they did, I wanted a traditional patch pocket with a curved bottom so it was time to make my own.  I got my design tools out and here is how I went about it. 

First I found some graph paper and measured out the proposed size of the pocket, no seam allowances. I added at the top an inch and a quarter extra for a hem band that would be turned to the inside. Its top edge would be meeting the lining with a seam.  I cut it out and used a bottle to get a nice curve on the two bottom corners. I folded the paper in half lining up the squares to get it perfectly even.  I cut it out while folded so that everything was perfectly symmetrical. I then  took double stick tape and glued the graph paper pattern to some oak tag to make a permanent template. You will need this thickness for this process so don't skip the oak tag. 

Next, pin two squares of fashion fabric, right sides together. Make sure your grains are the same and the pattern mirrors and or matches as needed. You can see my fabric has a distinct diagonal pattern. I made sure it matched the bodice of the garment before going any further. You will need squares large enough to add seam allowances. Pin them on the outside edges.

Take your template and apply double stick tape to the back. Place it on grain on your squares and press down in place. Let's go to the machine. 


If you have an edge stitching foot, it really helps here.  Set your machine at a basting stitch. I used 4.0. Starting at the top, sew all around your template right at the edge of the oaktag. Do not sew across the top of the pocket. When done take out your pins, pull off your template, and you will have this. 


I know, you are thinking, "is she lining the pocket with more wool?" No, just trust me here. 


Next you will trim the excess to a 5/8ths seam allowance and notch your curves. Press the seams open.  


Now you will turn your pocket right side out and give it a good solid press on all those seams.  Leave it to totally cool and dry.  Seems like you pressed it more than needed, right? Once again, trust me. 


 When it is cool and dry, reach inside and give a snip to your stitching. pull out the basting and separate into two pockets. Press again lightly. Camera angle makes these look uneven. They are not. 



Add a strip of interfacing to your top hem band, fold it over and steam the hem  into place.  


We are now ready to go into the lining. Top stitch your pocket at this point also. It can be done later as well but I did mine now a quarter inch away, as it was unraveling so quickly. 

This is an interesting method I learned from a Nancy Zieman program years ago. Thank you, Nancy, once again, for all you've taught me.  It is a bit counter intuitive but easy and a great tool for  your sewing tool chest. 



Cut out two blocks of lining fabric, about a half inch all around larger than your pockets. They can be short on the bottom because what you see above is pinned to the hem band edge and that will be coming down and inch and a quarter. They must be larger. Stitch them across at the hem band with a 1/4 inch seam allowance STARTING IN  A 1/4 INCH AND ENDING A 1/4 INCH from the end of the pockets, not the lining.  Do not sew this seam from the edge or end it at the edge of the pocket, very important. 





Press and turn the hem band and fold toward the wrong side as done above. Pin the pocket securely to the lining. Take your ruler and a pen, pencil or marker of sorts and draw all around the pocket right up close to the edge. Cut about a quarter inch away from that. 




This is further along in the process above but you see what you end up with. The lining has the outline  of the pocket drawn on  and excess fabric a quarter inch or so away has been trimmed. No need for perfection in cutting here, just some space. 



The next thing you want to do is lay out your bodice pieces matching  and using a ruler or two to locate exactly where you want your pockets to go. Be aware of future seam lines you need to sew as well as hem depths. Line up your pockets and pin the top edges in place. Flip the pockets  up and line up the linings below. Double check for straight lines with your ruler. Remember, those lines you drew on the linings were the exact outline of the pockets. Pin or baste those linings securely in place. You will ONLY sew around the sides and bottom. Now you will go to the machine. Arrange your presser foot so your stitching line is 3/8ths inch inside of the drawn line. In other words you will be stitching the lining pocket smaller than the drawn line on the lining by 3/8ths of an inch. Do not sew the hem band seam allowance down. LIFT UP the seam allowance of the hem band and start sewing there, under the hem band seam, NOT ACROSS THE HEM BAND. When done, sew the hem band sides down up to the hem band seam allowance. Let that little hem band seam allowance float. Use a smaller stitch in the hem band sides for extra security on the top of the pocket. Now to the ironing board.



You will iron all lining seam allowances toward the center of the  pocket. They have not been ironed in yet in the pic above.This is why you need them free at the junction of the pocket and lining. Just press them all in, no need to trim or fuss and it will keep your lining stronger. Now just flip down your pocket. The lining disappears! Look inside your pocket. There it is all pretty and finished! You can either top stitch some  more, blind stitch on the machine, or hand stitch  the outer pocket into place now. I chose to hand stitch as I wanted to watch a bit of TV. You can see a bit of my earlier top stitch but the fabric camouflages that pretty much. All done here and easy peasy, just a matter of following the steps.



With my fabric it is hard to even tell that my pocket is perfectly symmetrical, but it is. It looks lovely in person despite playing a game of camo on the dress form! My next post will be on the vest itself which has been fun to make and a challenge of my own making! More to come........Bunny



Monday, March 16, 2020

I desperately need to sew



Last month I had a glorious birthday. I reveled in reaching a milestone and felt so good about it. I was older, lively and proud! Today I know that milestone is the cutoff for getting a ventilator should I come down with complications from covid19. While I totally get that, it is sobering. I have not had  extended anxiety levels like this in  forever. I imagine many of you out there feel the same. 

My husband and I are out of work, with pay, until April 3rd, all to be reviewed at that time. We all know this won't be gone by then. We are very thankful our company is paying us. While we have funds we can access, many of our co workers are not in that position and live from paycheck to paycheck. I am so glad they won't go down financially. Many are young families.

I am also not feeling confident in the way I have seen our federal government first ignore, belittle, and now literally tell us to relax and spend money. I am infuriated at their focus on finance, as if that will whisk away a germ whose droplets are so tiny they can hang in the air space for a few hours and still go down the sinuses of any they can find. I am sickened by the total lack of empathy by  leadership for American citizens who are scared, who may go broke, who won't be able to pay rent, whose kids might not get meals, who will be sick, some fatally, who won't be able to have real funerals, real weddings, real bar mitzvahs, real Christenings, baby showers, glorious celebrations at wonderful venues like I  had last month, or even sitting at the side of their dying family members. Yes, I want someone who gives a shit in charge. 


And so I desperately need to sew and I am. I spent hours in my cave yesterday, podcasts and music playing, hands moving over fabrics as I make discoveries and create. It takes me away. It is my solace, my peace bringer, my visit to the psychiatrist. I don't call my studio my cave for nothing. When in there, I am surrounded by my world, one of colors, textures, paints, stencils, magical machines, tools, and all sorts of mental miracle workers. It is quiet. It is warm. It envelopes me. It saves me.

God bless you all in these difficult times. Stay  safe, stay in touch and may you find your cave.....Bunny

Saturday, March 14, 2020

New Look 6397, Luv it!



This is a FABULOUS pattern. Why? Well, if you buy it in the right size it should fit most figures right out of the envelope with no further  adjustments. It is also very easy to sew and would be great for beginners with just a few garments under their belts. I love it's versatility as well, as you will soon see.




Pattern:

This is New Look 6397, a shawl collared jacket with the options of  big pockets extending across the bodice,  hi/lo and/or shaped hems and fold back sleeves. I took some design liberties with my version as , unlike most reviewers on PR, my version was for the summer and would function as a light topper. Recommended fabrics such as fleece and wools indicate the intended winter use for this jacket but don't let that fool you. You can make a lighter weight version just fine. Based on reviews, I think the lighter weight version actually looks better. I do think that is because the wrong size may have been cut by some reviewers who do reference the largeness. This pattern requires some flat pattern measuring before cutting. It is large as it is a jacket so there is a lot of ease there. A summer topper won't have sweaters and turtlenecks underneath so won't need all that ease. I made the smallest size, a 6, and the bust and hip were 40 and a 1/2 inches. As a jacket that worked out perfectly for me but flat pattern measure for yourself before cutting or make a muslin as some jackets I have seen appear too large.




The sleeves are dropped and require no easing, so very simple  for newer sewists and the shawl collar application is quite simple as well, merely a long strip going from hem, around the neck and to the opposite hem.  The pattern has it folded around the neck to give the shawl affect. For myself, I have a long neck, I preferred it just used as a band.

Fabrics and Notions: 




This is made mostly from my favorite summer fabric, Kaufmann Essex Linen, a yarn dyed combo of linen and cotton. It has that glow of yarn dyeds which I love. The periwinkle is an Irish linen I had left from a dress I made last summer and you can see here, beautiful fabric. For the Hong Kong seams I used a rayon challis. I will be referring to the Hong Kong seams hence forward as HK seams.

Since these were very ravelly fabrics I didn't want to serge them with a neutral color or spend time changing thread colors on the serger.  I chose to topstitch with a triple zigzag using matching threads. A word about thread: on yarn dyed fabrics it can be a challenge to get the right thread color. The green fabric is really a rather dark green warp and a lemon yellow weft and this combo gives a lively chartreuse effect. I've learned with yarn dyeds you have to pick a color somewhere in the middle. 
Using either of the actual colors in the fabric will give you an odd polka dot effect to  any topstitching that you will regret. BTDT. Trust me, it will look awful. Go for a middle ground here and it will look its best. You can see the topstitching on the pocket edge is pretty much invisible. I chose this medium olive green.

Construction:

I made two fit alterations.


* The first change was strictly personal taste. Since this was a warm weather topper I cut 4 inches off the length of the jacket and it  was a more flattering length as well for me. Out of the envelope, the length would have cut  me perfectly in half, not good.

* The second alteration was to the shawl collar. I won't be using it as a shawl collar but more as a band.  I made the band the 9 inch width the pattern gives you with various strips of my chosen fabrics. I tried it on and it just didn't work. I am narrow of torso and the width of the band was just too much. I  reduced the collar band by one inch and it was a major improvement,  much more to my scale and I'm happy. I am sure you can see the difference. I would recommend this reduction for anyone of petite stature., reduce the band width by an inch.



The first thing I did on this pattern was the pockets. I added a bit of piping in the orange fabric and folded a band to the outside at the top of the pocket to hem it off. The pocket runs across the full width of the bodice and is roomy. I did not care for the way it is hemmed at the bottom which you can see in the pattern envelope pic.  If I made this style pocket again on this jacket I would run the pocket all the way to the hem of the jacket, and  hem it right in with  the jacket hem. It would be a much cleaner look. 




All of the seams are Hong Kong. I find with HK seams, you really have to do some thinking and planning before you start sewing that first stitch in order to get the best finish. Seams intersect and can be several layers. This is why I very rarely do all the HK seams at once before starting to sew. This jacket is a perfect case. The intersection of the dropped sleeve and it's armscye and the side seam took some thought in the end it was neatly finished. When I did the sleeves I used bands of color and the bottom band was a folded piece of the periwinkle linen, therefore no hem. I did the HK seams and now what? I needed a neat finish at the hemline but no hem, just a fold. Luckily I hadn't cut off the HK seams yet and had enough to press and tuck under the seam allowance of the sleeve. I then put in a few tiny fell stitches to secure the SA to the sleeve and all was  neat. I learned a lesson. Don't cut the ends of your HK Seams until you know exactly where they will go after the seam is sewn together.



For the hem I did a facing with a HK seam at the top and ditch stitched that in.

In the pic above you can see the inside of the band. Here is where I once again veered from the pattern but it was personal choice. The pattern had the bodice seams and band seams, inner and outer, all sewn together and then finished with suggested overlocking or finish of choice. It just all looked too  bulky to me. I put in the band so the exterior band was sewn on the bodice first. The seams were graded and understitched which you can't see here. The interior side of the band had it's seam pressed under and I then hand stitched it to the seam so the understitching is hidden but works its purpose. It's neat, has little bulk and looks nice from the inside as you can see above. 





The last variation from the pattern was the addition of a sash. I've never been a fan of open jackets. I have no idea why. I like sashing and belting them. I made a sash that finished at 1 1/4 inches wide.  When I make a sash I like to find the middle and add a pretty rigid interfacing to the center 18 inches of the belt. In this case I used Decor Bond which you can see fused inside above. This interfaced area will sit at my back waist and go to the side seam. It keeps the sash upright and in place and neat looking. I am sure this is how I will wear it most of the time, probably with some white linen pants. The sash was topstitched about an 1/8th of an inch from the edge.

In Conclusion:


I really think this is a wonderful pattern, so very easy to sew and easy to fit. Kimonos are so on trend now to and so versatile in our wardrobes. I guarantee if you make this once you will make this again and again. I have just finished this topper and this morning cut out my next project. I will be doing View D, the shaped hem vest, out of wool boucle and a really interesting lining. It will be underlined with HK seams and patch pockets. Told you I loved this pattern!!!  Highly recommend!

Stay safe from Corona everyone. You are all in my thoughts and prayers and may your quarantines be filled with sewing and healthy hours.........Bunny




Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Ouch!


This is what it looks like  when you are so into your sewing that you can't be bothered to  go upstairs to the bathroom and clean your cut and get a bandaid. It's just a nick from the rotary cutter as I was waving one hand and not paying attention with the other. Bled a fair amount but not bad. I did get it cleaned up eventually and all is fine today. Wouldn't any sewist do it this way first? 


I've been working on my linen jacket , which has no lining. I decided to use Hong Kong seams. I also decided to finish the sleeve with a band  that was on the fold and therefore a double layer of linen. Now what do I do about those seam allowances? Luckily I left the strips of bias long and when it came time to finish up the HK seam allowances, I trimmed them a bit to reduce bulk and then just tucked them under. I did some tiny hand stitches around the bottom and corner and tadah, everybody's happy! More to come..............Bunny.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

A Milestone Month! and New Look 6397



February can be tough for me. Isn't it for most people? It is the depths of winter with it's icey claws gripping us and keeping us from getting that Vitamin D that restores our souls. I look out the window and occasional snow storms share their white beauty but in between there is nothing uglier than dirty snow with its dead branches and muddy surface reminding us of February's awful seeming endlessness.

For me, however, February has extra depths to plumb. It's my dear Dad's birthday, a brilliant, handsome engineer and father to a tribe of eight children. He was everything a devoted, loving, respectful husband could be to his wife and set a high bar for every man his daughters would ever meet. He was so kind to me and so encouraging. I miss him so and his  February birthday points that out sometimes with pain as deep as the icy snow drifts outside.

Then there is my Valentine's Day, such a lovely fun holiday. I always called it my double dip holiday because my birthday was the day after. I lucked out on that one, at least until the past few years. My mom, who I miss so deeply, passed away on my birthday. February strikes again! I do think part of my February dread is the anticipation. Once I am through each of these dates, I feel "safe" again. It's hard for me to celebrate my birthday on that day but we are good at workarounds here. 

We do have some great February news here! I had my own big milestone in February. I had a milestone birthday, the big one. I can hardly get the words out of my mouth so I just call it my Milestone Birthday. I am seventy years old, friends, seventy!!! I sure don't feel it. My daughters, in their wisdom, planned a wonderful evening to celebrate on none of those aforementioned dates. I couldn't have asked for a more special and lovely celebration. We had our own private room at what is rated New Hampshire's best restaurant, very high end,  and their reputation is well deserved. The Hanover Street Chop House delivered in every way with service and a memorable meal that would be hard to equal anywhere. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect evening. I was surrounded by my family and close friends and it was all so lovely. There were gifts and some wise gift givers even gave me fabric money!!! How great and wise was that?

Now that I have reached this age, I think it is great. I have awesome health. What's a few headaches? But I am blessed with none of the usual affiliated issues of aging and am so thankful for that. My great grandmother lived to 102 in the pre antibiotic world and my grandmother until 97. Fingers crossed here for a healthy and mindful dotage! February also just saw me spend 11 of its days with Influenza B but I am over it with no repercussions, yay! You do not want this and I pray none of you get it, not fun! But I have rebounded and the future is looking good and I can't wait for warmer weather and my garden.

I have already had one shopping trip for fabric this week. I have been craving some Essex linen to make a light topper to bring on our vacation this summer. Having had my fill of winter, it is time to sew for summer and we will be going on vakay to the Azores, so sew I must. I did my shopping at that wonderful local quilt shop that has some really lovely garment fabrics, Quilted Threads, and I honed in on the Essex linens but there were some exquisite Japanese garment weight fabrics there as well, to die for! They gave a bit of a heavy winter vibe so I stayed away, but they were gorgeous.


I will be making View B of this pattern with a few changes, as usual. The sleeves will be shorter and have a contrast band.  I cut four inches of the length of the bodice. The pockets will have some piping and the shawl band will have assorted blocks of  color, all in Essex linen, my favorite summer fabric. I do love that View C vest and have some plans for that. I also  have some lovely rayon challis that would make a great skirt to go with this, or a cami, we'll see. 


The predominant color of the jacket is the green, not a great color on me, but I am hoping the accent colors will help. Besides, it's summer and just a throw on topper so I am going with what I like and this combo worked really well in the store. Hubs say I will get lost in the rain forest and they will never find me.

This quilt shop is a big one and has a selection of "quilting" notions you can't believe. Garment sewists really need to check these things out because I don't see them being marketed to us. I picked up this little gem and can see using it for underlining and also in applique and art pieces.

It has this tiny injection type needle to apply the fusible substance to where ever you want it and then you just press. I can see a lot of uses for this and precision is definitely the right description.


My other purchase, total impulse buy, was this wild and crazy variegated thread from Mettler. We'll see what creativity this spurs. I need to stare at it for a while! Quilt shops have incredible thread selections.

I did finish  my blanket skirt and I love wearing it. It is a real staple and I hope to get some pics up soon. I'm  just a little worn from this flu but  will be coming up  with a review. My little skirt is quite warm and works great with the fleece tights and puffer coat.

Pic below is just after I blew out my seven candles. I am so happy to be alive, healthy, blessed with a passion, sewing, and a family that is incredible. I have lifelong friends who helped me celebrate and they are treasures. I treasure you as well, my dear readers  and thanks for following me all these years. Let's hope for many more together. I have a lot left in me to sew and miles of yardage before I sleep,  to paraphrase Robert Frost, miles to sew before I sleep......................Bunny


Thursday, January 23, 2020

Want to come up and see my sketchings?

After I finished the boucle top my studio was a disaster, despite picking up every day when I am done. I took a whole day to recover from the boucle episode but just kept going, and going, and going,,,,,,,,,,3 days later my whole den of  Sewing Zen was reorganized and I was happy. Once again, I knew where everything was and now it was time to move forward.




In my cleaning I discovered a sketch pad I really thought was blank. I opened it to find all sorts of drawings I did back in the late 80s and 90s. It was really fun to review them. There was a lot of patchwork, fringe, just all sorts of over the top surface embellishment. I still like them today but would probably tone them down a tad, a big tad! Those were the days of 60-80 hour work weeks and if I couldn't make my ideas in fabric, at least I could draw them out on paper. After going down memory lane, I  took a pledge to start sketching again. These days I seem to go from brain directly to fabric cutting. Back then I enjoyed putting what was in my head down on paper first. Then,  when I did have time to shop and sew, reviewing my pad was like reaching into a toy box and deciding what special toy I would play with  that day. I am definitely going to sketch more.



This is the blanket skirt I am working on. It is Simplicity 2655.  It has 6 gores and a deep waist yoke that goes from upper hip to high waist, at least it will when I am done with it. I am using View E, bottom left.


It is SHORT but will be worn with my fleece leggings and boots, hopefully a good look.  The center front gore  will be quilted with diagonal blocks. There will be a border of just meandering scrolls sort of  around all of  the hem. My own input is making it a wraparound skirt and doing the center front panel asymmetrical.  The pattern uses a zipper.


 It will be  underlined with cotton flannel. This little skirt needs to provide some warmth! This blanket skirt is  a bit of an oxymoron with its short length and cashmere/flannel fibers. Their primary function,however, is to allow the decent wearing of leggings without exposing our divine lady bits to the entire world. I think it's a great concept and have seen many in our climate wearing these.  Some look like short little "puffer" versions and others look like short little heavy sweaters. Many are just heavy fabric skirts, like this will be.



I really lucked out here with the fabric. In my organizing frenzy, I found a BIG piece of black cashmere that was left over from making my cashmere coat a few seasons back. You can just see the glow. It is so yummy.  Score!  I had no idea I had this big piece of cashmere hanging around. The underlining is 100% cotton flannel, the better to keep my booty warm.  It's going together pretty quickly so hopefully I will have more for you soon   We have a lot planned this weekend and I was hoping to wear it but won't happen. I want to savor the process. Everything on this should be easy.   



I've gotten a big positive bunch of compliments on the Vogue top. Thank you to all for your kind thoughts. It was a challenge but that was a lot of my own making do to my choice to not follow the pattern as written. But isn't that what patterns are about? Inspiration and guidance? Heck, this blanket skirt isn't going to be like the Simplicity pattern either! .......Bunny
P.S. Did you catch the date on the sketch below? Upper left.


Sewing Linen, Covid Garment #3

Linen is my absolute favorite fabric to sew and probably to  wear as well. Before I can explain  my favorite method for its construction...