Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Winter White

I admire winter white especially during the cold months when nature is in stark relief. I see these gorgeous winter white wool coats. I even bought one when I moved from Texas to New Jersey. Winter white does me no favors with my coloring but it is appealing. For this reason, I am really enjoying looking at this clothesline bowl that I made yesterday.

Lynn in my Fiber Art Fusion group did a lesson on this technique a year or so ago. I obediently bought the clothesline but never did anything with it, until yesterday.

Now if you are looking for something mindless and calming, making a clothesline bowl may be just the balm. I found it to be both mesmerizing and even a little exciting. And some days you just have to make something, anything. This filled the need for a quick and satisfying make.

Armed with $6 worth of Household Essentials cotton clothesline and off-white thread, I started. First I hand-sewed the initial teeny-tiny spiral. Even so the first rounds were a little tricky. Then it became zen. One hundred feet of clothesline later, this is what I have:

Lynn wrapped hers in beautiful cotton batik strips. Gorgeous. You know how rich those cotton batik colors can be.

For now, I will stay with winter white. It might be fun to dip it in a dye bath. I wonder if it would take the color.

If you would like a lovely and inspiring tutorial, see this one at Flossie Teacakes.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Collared Peony

Several readers have asked about adding a collar to the Sewing Workshop's Peony vest. The last two times I have used this pattern, I have added a fairly simple collar.

The first one was the denim vest, which is a work-in-progress, but I wear it. Using Susan Brubaker Knapp's idea, I am filling it with seed stitch, leaving negative space in the shape of various creatures.


I walked my measuring tape around the neckline and added an inch or two. I then cut a straight-of-grain rectangle 6 inches wide X the measured length.


First I stay-stitched the neckline and clipped to the neckline across the back. Then I placed one long edge of the collar on the neckline and sewed right side to right side, 1/2 inch seam allowance. Then I folded the ends of the collar, right sides together, and sewed even with the center fronts of the vest, trimmed and turned. Lastly I turned the remaining raw edge of the collar under about 1/2 inch and slip-stitched in place.

The second one was the black wool-cashmere.


Again I measured the neckline, this time more carefully so that I could put in a seam at the shoulder line. There was no remnant large enough for the entire collar. I was able to cut the fronts along the selvage. This piece was cut 3 inches wide.


 Again, I stay-stitched the neckline but I did not need to clip around the back with this fabric, and with single-layer construction, I wanted to avoid any clips. I chalked in a 3/8 inch overlap on the neckline. Then I layered the collar seam allowance over the neckline (wrong side of collar to right side of vest) and stitched down the middle of the layer.

For a little added stability, I stay-stitched around the raw edge of the black collar.

Another option would be to use one of the clever collars from the Sewing Workshop's Now and Zen pattern. One of those is an open-ended tube collar and the other is a double collar. Each has a clever finish that encloses the raw edges of the seam attaching collar to body.

So many options!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Bento Bag

This is one I spotted on Pinterest, I think. It is by Pascale of Between the Lines blog. I like the puzzle-like construction.

I see that the bag is all over the internet and there are at least two tutorials. Here is the second one, the one that suggests boxing the corners. I like that too.

The image of it drew me in.

Pascale used a small piece of leather to gather in the two sides of the straps. I used some of the lining.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Peony Vest

It was first issued by The Sewing Workshop in an envelope with a second vest, the Poppy. I made both when they first came out. Only the Peony is still available from TSW, now as a download. It is such a nice basic pattern so that makes sense to me.

The Peony Vest is a sweet and simple canvas. There are a number of interesting and pretty versions in the Sewing Workshop online gallery. It is such a good layering piece.

It is composed of 3 primary pattern pieces - the back, the right front and the left front. I have made it twice now with two right fronts and an added collar. I like it very much.

The first was in denim and I am still adding stitch to it. The most recent one is made from a fabulous piece of black wool-cashmere, the same piece I used to make the Sydney jacket. I'm still glad I didn't sacrifice it to my near-disaster with that jacket.

This was so simple and so satisfying. I may decide to add some stitch to it later but I look forward to wearing it right away. It is so soft - perfect for this cold weather we're having.

The collar had to be pieced in order to use the ragged selvage as its edge. There is always room on a remnant to cut a pocket so I did, a patch pocket with a flap. So easy with fabric that does not ravel.

With the Sydney still fresh on my mind, I was not overly ambitious with this project. The process was very satisfying and I cannot wait to wear it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Sydney Wrap

First, many thanks to readers of my blog who offered sympathy, suggestions and perspective on my Sydney jacket.  Special thanks to Helen near Sydney and Colleen from Tessiti.

I have finished. Hooray!

mine, finished.

Leather trim was an interesting option.  But...
  • I have limited knowledge of sewing leather.
  • Though at times, I fly without a net, the previous mistakes made me cautious.
  • There is probably a great way to make lapped 3/16th inch seams with leather, but I don't know it.*
  • I was able to cut the new piece from my wool/cashmere scraps with just one splice.
two remnants lapped

Here you can see how much I relied on pins to insure a decent lapped seam.

The rest of the construction was easy, fun, and I am happy with the result. The only change I made was to top stitch all of the hems

such sweet pockets tho mine are a bit small
I look forward to wearing it. The low tonight will be about 26F (-3C) so it should feel great.
It is done and I am glad to move on.

the back: not too bad

Yep. It's a wrap.

* tape or glue, maybe.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Saving Sydney

Still playing with fabric beads. See a great tutorial here

If you read my last blog posting, you know that I made a mess out of the lovely Sydney jacket using a fabulous piece of wool and cashmere. To stay calm, I am still making these fabric beads. They are a little addictive. Last night I created the bracelet by weaving them together with a bias tube from a thrifted tie.

But I can be a bit stubborn so I am working thru some fixes for my Sydney Jacket.

First up:

The incorrect pattern piece for the back (and the cut piece of cashmere/wool) is quite a bit smaller than the correct pattern piece, as you can see below. It makes sense to me to slide the poorly cut piece down flush with the lower hem and create a new piece that frames it and becomes the correct size for the back.

I traced the difference between my incorrect version of the back pattern piece and the correct pattern piece, creating a corresponding new pattern piece (adding the 3/8 inch overlap):

It is an oddly shaped piece and, of course, I do not have anything that size in my remnants. Despite this, I proceeded to cut the new pattern piece out of old quilt cotton and put the jacket muslin/toile together. Here is how the sewn back looks in this test piece:

And here is how it looks as a complete muslin/toile with the frame or insertion. I do not have plans to highlight this inserted piece in the final jacket but it is helpful to see how it looks in this high contrast cotton.

So far, so good.

Now I have a major decision to make. This oddly shaped piece will not fit on any remnant I have. Even if I rob the Peony vest pieces, I will have to piece them in order to create the new insertion piece. And I'm not ready to sacrifice the Peony vest, as it may turn out to be a favorite item to wear.

You may recall that while my reptilian brain was in charge, I noticed that I had enough fabric to cut out a vest AND a jacket. So I did so without considering the possibility of catastrophe.

My next step is to see if there is ANY way to piece the remnants into something like this insertion piece.

Alternatively I have been hording saving a beautiful piece of soft black leather, also purchased at Gail K. I'm wondering if it might look cool to add a leather insertion. I could add some other leather accents to the front. The down side is that I have almost no experience with leather so I will definitely be doing my research first!

Stay tuned, if you can stand it!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Mid-Course Muslin

Don't sew like I do.

Make the muslin BEFORE you cut into the most expensive piece of fabric you have ever purchased.

For a while now, I have been looking forward to making the Sydney Jacket by Tessuti in Australia. It came out during their 2015 cold season, my hot summer, and I have been plotting and planning ever since. It is a download so there is no expensive postage. I have had good luck with their patterns and there are several reviews of the Sydney Jacket on Pattern Review indicating that it is an easy make.

I found the perfect fabric at Gail K - a lustrous blend of wool and cashmere. It is perhaps the most wonderful piece of fabric I have ever sewn. It's not really the most expensive piece I have sewn. It is the second most expensive piece I have ever sewn. The first was the alter frontal I made for my church using $200/yard fabric from overseas. Now, that was a nail-biter.

So I downloaded the pattern from Tessuti, printed it on my home printer, taped everything together, and traced a size medium onto pattern tissue. I read the instructions several times before beginning. I waited for the holidays to end. Then I very carefully laid out my fabric.

The pattern pieces fit easily onto my delicious fabric. In fact there was enough space to cut out a vest using the Peony vest from the Sewing Workshop, So I did it. Wonderful! A two-fer.

I carefully sewed samples of overlapped seams. They only overlap by 3/8 inch so I wanted to make sure I could do so accurately. A little chalk and slow sewing made it an easy process. Such fun!

Bernina's foot #13 is perfect for sewing a seam at 3/16 inch.
Oh, and the pockets on this jacket. Fabulous! Raw edge with edge-stitching around the opening.

But then I encountered a small problem. After sewing the sleeve panel to each side of the back, I attempted to sew on the yoke. It simply did not fit. Though this fabric is pliable, I knew that it would gather if I forced the issue.

After much gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair and getting moral support from BSF and emailing Tessuti (it was the middle of the night in Australia at the time), I took a deep breath. Now at this point it was clear, even to me, that I should have made a muslin (or toile). So I stopped everything to cut out a muslin.

This confirmed that I had the sleeve panel placed incorrectly. A couple of properly placed notches surely would have saved me from this difficulty. Here is the correct way to place the sleeve panel:

I continued to work on the muslin and prepared to sew the side-seams. Easy, right? But wait - those did not line up either. The difference between the front and back side seams was about 2 inches!

But OK. I had already made a mistake with the oddly-shaped sleeve panel. I became convinced that there was something mysterious and origami-like involved in this side-seam. Or maybe, just maybe, I had made a more serious mistake, this time in cutting. Nah.

I placed the pattern tissue on the front and back pieces of fabric. Check. Then I placed the pattern tissue back on the printed paper. Check. Then I measured the back and the front on the printed paper. They were indeed very different sizes.

Still convinced I was dealing with a clever, intricate side seam, I once again contacted Tessuti. I even contacted a PR reviewer asking if she would send pictures of the finished side seam, thinking that would solve my problem. Thank you, Helen, for your thoughtful and sweet reply!

Tessuti sent me a picture of a finished side seam - by now the sun was up in Australia.

Horrors - it was a perfectly normal side seam.

Next step was to reprint the pattern, this time at my local Kinko's as they can print each page on wide printers without the potential for taping things incorrectly. I measured the helpful little 10 cm square on the spot, and determined that it printed as intended.

Once home, I laid everything out and learned (you knew this was coming) that my printer had printed page one correctly and page two incorrectly.

You can see in the picture that my cut piece of yummy wool/cashmere is woefully too small.


So, maybe my favorite fabric store, Gail K, still had that fabric in stock. I needed less a yard! I was prepared to throw that much money at the problem. I raced down there breathless. The owner was very patient, pulling out a ba-zillion different pieces of black wool but, alas, no luck.

I tried to self-sooth by purchasing pretty shirting while there and headed home.



As I neared my home, I saw flashing blue lights and then 2 smushed cars. I saw one driver's expression as I slowly passed. Now that woman was having a bad day. Not me. Not by a long-shot.

I headed back into my sewing space and carefully rolled together all the pieces to the Sydney, and the pieces to the Peony vest, and the tiny remnants of the yummy fabric. I gently placed it where I cannot quite see any of it.

Now I have some ideas. But I have calmed the limbic portion of my brain enough to know that I need a break.

And it's only fabric.

Right now I am making fabric beads. How about you?

Sunday, January 10, 2016


This top comes from the Now half of the Sewing Workshop's Now and Zen pattern.

Above you can see it before I added buttonholes and buttons. I always try to take a few pictures before adding buttonholes. That way, if I completely wreck it, I have a picture of it before disaster struck. I have a buttonhole phobia.


I really like this collar. It has a Downton Abbey feel to it, I think. The distinctive characteristic of each shirt in this pattern is the collar. The Now collar is rolled and attached to the shirt in a burrito style. The longer edges of the collar are completely enclosed via top-stitching. This technique is used also in the Zen shirt which has a double collar.

This is the shorter shirt provided in this pattern, a little too short, I think. So I added 3 inches to its length and 3 inch side vents. I also added the sweet little pocket from TSW's Florence pattern. Lastly I narrowed the sleeves to 11.5 inches. I liked the effect of narrowing the sleeves on my recent make of the Hudson top.

It is a very simple make. I was inspired to make it after receiving my copy of the January issue of Sew Confident. In this issue, Linda Lee's associate Kathy describes a number of variations she has tried with this basic pattern. I cannot wait to try the one that employs a double layer of knits with exposed seams.

This is your basic blank canvas. My fabric is a cross-dyed silk, or maybe a blend, in black and iridescent blue. It reads navy but has interesting shadows and a sheen. I purchased it from Laura Murray as a 3 yard bundle. It washes beautifully, though I may dry-clean it in order to maintain this rich color.

It is also a very forgiving fabric to sew. I placed the pocket poorly and had to unstitch it. None of the original stitching shows! As Mama always said, it's all about the fabric.

Now I have some delicious remnants to incorporate into other pieces. Since I was enjoying this fabric, I stayed with it and made a simple envelope purse.

The straps are bias tubes from a thrifted neck tie.

It is definitely winter where I am so I will need to wear a cami or other undershirt for now. As I sit enjoying a fire, I think I am ready to make a coat.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

First Sewing Project of the Year!

Hooray! I made something.

Actually I have been sewing quite a lot. Instead of making things, I've been repairing things. That can be very settling after a chaotic, yet fun, holiday season. I will post about that later.

My first fresh make is the Hudson top from The Sewing Workshop.

The Hudson top is a great place to use a large scale fabric design This is some black and white cotton Ikat purchased at my favorite local store, Gail K. With these simple lines, it was easy to match the large pattern. And the fabric proved to be wonderful to cut, sew and wear. French seams were a breeze.

The Hudson top was featured in a recent issue of Sew Confident, Linda Lee's online subscription newsletter. I hesitate to call it a newsletter because it is chocked full of detailed information, often concerning variations on The Sewing Workshop patterns. Beautifully illustrated it is such fun to receive each issue. This is my new sewing addiction.

The issue featuring the Hudson top focused on using tissue knits. I will try that later. But I noticed that one adjustment was to narrow the sleeves. I am very glad that I made that change. It is easier to roll the sleeves and push them up on my arms. Otherwise I made no changes to the pattern.

I really like it. With the cowl collar cut on the bias, it easily slips over my head. Both sides of the collar show so it is good that this Ikat is basically reversible.

And the shape is right too. It's one of those post-holidays times when I realize I've been indulging in way too many rich foods. And that is another addiction.

So, what are you sewing?