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Friday, December 25, 2015

Sewing and Life Lessons

Working on my first jacket.  Lots of pieces, lining.  It's complicated.  So far, I've had to rip out more seams than I can count, craft some new pieces because of some accidental hacking and construction errors.  It's two steps forward, one step back.  Almost literally, except I'm not actually walking (please refer to excellent rant on the use of the word 'literally' in The Imperfectionists by Tom Somebody, page reference to follow, if I'm reminded.)

And it occurred to me that ripping a seam out of my jacket is a lot like getting a divorce.  I could leave the error and wear an ill-fitting jacket/marriage, or I could rip it out, with the pain and added time required to put it back together again.  But when it's reconstructed, it will fit so beautifully that I'll be glad I took the extra time. 

And so I am the woman who rips seams until she gets it right. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Pruning The Pepper Tree

Look, I haven't published anything since October.  I actually have been sewing.  Just feel like I'd be blogging to say 'see, look what I've done; isn't it cool?'--which is a bit strange and needy.  I do that kind of stuff on Facebook.  Friend me and I'll prove it.

So I have a new idea for blogging--you know how I've become obsessed with tree pruning?  (I can hear you all the way from Washington, Oregon, and Texas with your resounding 'yes's!!!!)

Well, I'm going to do a blog on my tree pruning experiments.  So if I only post photos once a month--which is likely--I'll still have a blog and I'll still be showing what I've created.  But with a different twist.  Maybe you'll be tempted to prune some trees along with me?  In 25 years, you can post your before and after pictures on my site.  Fun!!!!!!! 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Hairbands: Making Use of Remnants While Cleaning Up Your Ponytail

That's right, my blog is NOT dead!!!!  My sewing machine has been calling to me and projects are waiting.  Last night a pillow case--not blog-worthy; today, hairbands--totally blog-worthy.  Motivated by hair that is just not-quite-long-enough for a ponytail, I decided it was time for some new hairbands to pull in those pesky strays.  Hunting through my remnants, I found these candidates: 

Start by measuring the circumference of your head.  Mine's 20 inches; so I estimated that 16 inches would get me from behind one ear to behind the other, joined by a piece of elastic outta keep the band on snugly and attractively.  Then I cut these rectangles that were roughly 16" x 4".

Next step, iron right sides together lengthwise and sew raw edges together with approx 1/4" seam allowance.  I like to use pinking shears to trim the seams allowances and prevent fraying, but it's probably not necessary given that these seams will be inside the finished band.

Press the seams open.

Pull one end of the tube through the other to make them right-side out.  My preferred method is pinning a safety pin on one end then working it through the tube. 

Iron them again, folding the raw edges inside about 1/2" at each end. 

 Cut 3-4" long elastic pieces (whatever width elastic you prefer) and tuck into one end of the hairband. 

Stitch 1/8" from the edge around the entire hairband beginning by sewing the edge with the elastic.  When you come to the other short edge, tuck in the other end of the elastic, being sure that it's not twisted.  Back stitch a couple times at the beginning and end of your journey, of course; and back stitch over the elastic for good measure.  

 Et voila!

 Here's what the band looks like from the back.  Please ignore the dirty hair. 

And, yes, these are selfies while I'm in the driver's seat of my car.  But I promise I was at a redlight.  Multi-tasking. 

The idea on these hairbands is not mine, and, if you're reading this blog and remember that you actually gave me this idea, I will insert your name here, Friend.  And maybe give you one of these babies. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Bikini Time!

I'm stoked to be heading off to Mexico next weekend for a much anticipated, ever so needed vacation.  And also excited to have a reason to buy lycra (on sale at Fabric Outlet on Mission) and whip up a swimsuit. 

I used Burda Style's Jessica pattern, rated 'novice', and could not believe how easy the whole thing was.  I doubt I ever buy a swimsuit again.  Plus, this fabric is super smooth and soft. 

A couple edits--

I added a lining, a Nike performance knit.  Just serged around the edges to hold them together then followed the pattern as directed. 
And I made strings out of the fabric by cutting 1 1/2" wide swaths, sewing them together length-wise, then pushing them inside out with this handy Spiderman pencil.  Chopsticks also work well. 

Other than serging the lining on, I just used my regular machine and a zig zag stitch.  Voila!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Easy With a Twist: Cloth Napkins With Mitered Corners

Cloth napkins--cute up your meals while being environmentally conscientious (okay, less paper waste anyway; water is still being used for laundering unless you just never wash them. . . . )  And, best of all, they're a relatively easy sewing project.  This fabric is, of course, Lotta Jansdotter again; I'm obsessed. 
I like my napkins 20" square or thereabouts, which means 21" x 21" if you're using a half inch seam allowance.  This is a great time to throw out the ruler and test your eyeballing-it abilities.  Your iron, ironing board, sewing machine, and scissors are all you really need.  And a seam guide if you want to keep things neat.
You can go the quick and dirty route of a double-folded hem all around--overlapping the corners.  Or, if you want to fancy things up a bit, consider trying out a mitered corner (pictured above).  This technique is beautifully illustrated in The Sewing Bible by Ruth Singer

Here's my mitering breakdown:

1.  Iron a double-folded hem.

2.  Do it again.  (And if you want to stop here, just sew a line all around as close to the edge of the fold as you can.)
3.  Fold down a corner like you're dog-earring the page of a book. Iron. [Picture of this step to be uploaded in the next day or two.]

4.  Now, open the corner back up and fold the two adjacent sides together.  See the nifty little line that you made in #3? 

5.  Sew right on that line.  Trim the seam allowance to just about an eighth of an inch from the hem.

6.  Open it up, push the point out, and now sew down the seam as close to the folded edge as possible.  Et voila!!!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Minimal Sewing Project: Scarves (and Best YouTube Vid Ev)

Here's another idea gleaned from Simple Modern Sewing by Shufu To Seikatsu Sha--whip up a simple scarf from a small square of fabric.  You really only need a quarter of a yard so use up leftovers or, be like me, and buy small amounts of fabric just for this purpose.

I typically go for wool (top-left and bottom pics) or double-sided cotton (middle-right) as it's super easy to put a single stitch along the cut sides and let the edges fray.  If you use the full width of the fabric, the selvage can be kept at the ends--no stitching needed on those sides.  
If you're more proficient with rolled hems and whatnot, this would also work great with softer fabrics like silk and so on.  Something for me to aspire to. . . . 

Okay, so tucked in randomly (thanks for reading this far) is my gift to you!  A link to 25 Ways to Wear a Scarf by Wendy's Lookbook.  Best YouTube video ever, in my humble opinion.

And, here's date night at Bar Agricole.  Yummy food and cocktails marred only by not-so-super service. I wear this scarf every chance I get.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Japanese Sewing Books Obsession Part 2: Shufu To Seikatsu Sha's Simple Modern Sewing

Doh!  Over a week since my last post!  Well, I tried my hand at Zo's hipster panties and learned a ton but wasn't pleased with the results.  But more on that later because I haven't given up on undies--I have ideas. . . .

 So this seems like an opportune time to return to my ongoing obsession with Japanese sewing books.  Just as I was discovering this genre, my sister-in-law, Debbie, and most ardent sewing supporter, gave me Simple Modern Sewing by Shufu To Seikatsu Sha as a Christmas present.

Initially, I have to admit, I wasn't so sure that I was going to be into it (apologies to Auntie Deb).  The clothes really are very basic.  But, one after another, as I've tried the patterns, I've gained an appreciation for the clarity of the instructions and the wearability of the clothes.  Here's what I've executed so far:

And here's my rendition--
I particularly love it with a skinny belt, my navy blue pencil skirt, black tights and black ankle booties.  I need to figure out what I'm doing with it now that it's summer and I'm not wearing my ankle booties so much.  

I chose two different fabrics that worked together and used french seams to bring the panel together in the front.  The book recommended a double-sided fabric, and I can only imagine that would be even better.  All in all, I have nothing to add to the instructions.  It worked out beautifully and was easy.  

Next one up, 1b:
The pattern called for 'wool gauze'.  I'm sure that would be fantastic.  I used cotton and have been wearing it over a brown long-sleeved t-shirt with rolled-up jeans and sandals or sneaks.
Somehow, it feels a little Princess Leia-ish.  My only real problem with it is the color choice.  Beige does nothing for a fair-skinned white-y (sp?).  Luckily, the brown bias-tape, courtesy of my mother-in-law's recent antique sewing donation, breaks up the beigi-ness.  

And, for now, finally, these pants: 
I'm totally into 4b, the cropped option.  As I may have mentioned before, and will again, my first (elastic-waisted) pants attempt, in the 8th grade, was a miserable failure.  These were a phenomenal success--at least, in my eyes.  I wear them every chance I get.  And have them in two different fabrics--one a random plaid linen from Fabrix on Clement and the other a cotton Marc Jacobs print from the Smuggler's Daughter.  Modeled, linen; followed by Marc Jacobs.

They're awesome for both work and play.  The pocket even fits an iPhone.  Though I wouldn't run around as it might bounce out.  Maybe a button next time. . . .

Until next weekend, adieu!