Tuesday, July 10, 2012


I have been trying to charge ahead and sew projects and not worry too much about whether or not they are perfect. I have a tendency to overthink, to want to get everything just right, but that results in constantly running to the bookshelf or the Internet to look up a technique again, or no sewing happening at all because I don't feel confident, or never cutting into the "good" fabric because it might get ruined.

My new mantra - A completed article of clothing with some errors is GOOD. Can't be worse than ready-to-wear. (That is so true!)

So my latest project, nearly done, is a pair of shorts! The Sweet Shorts from Pattern Runway. I am making them in linen that I have had sitting around for a long time. At this point, they are done except for the hem bands. I made welt pockets! I put in an invisible zipper! I adjusted them to fit my shape! (Well, they have turned out a little big, but I tend to like my clothing loose anyways.) Here's a not-very-good photo. Feel free to gasp in awe at those awesome pockets! That clean finish!

(I'm going to have to work on my photo skills.) However, I am very proud of these shorts, and I hope I don't mess them up on this final step. I did manage to use the wrong pattern piece to make the welt pockets, cut the wrong pieces out for the front pockets several times, and sewed them together backwards - yet I didn't give up!

I have been trying to do a little sewing each evening after work. It means that I make more progress, and I feel more free to do something fun on a Saturday rather than wanting a block of time for creative projects. However, after a long day at work I am tired and fuzzy-headed, so I make a lot of mistakes and take a long time figuring out the instructions. And I pick out a lot of seams after sewing them wrong. These instructions were definitely not easy to follow, and I have now marked them up heavily for the next time I make some. The fit on these is fantastic, the styling is nice, and the pockets really work. I might make up another pair right away, while I still remember the details, and might follow the suggestion of another maker who was contemplating lengthening the legs to turn them into trousers.

The Helper Is At It Again

Guess who showed up in the midst of the latest sewing project?

Wouldn't you know, I set down the shorts for a few minutes only, and Sasha the cat had plenty of other comfy places to sleep, but she chose to stretch out right on top of my project! I decided that was my cue to take a break.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hand Sewing Project Completed

The hand sewing project was completed. It took a long time, doing it bit by bit, but it was done a long time ago ... I just haven't been writing anything on this blog! So I think I have a lot of updates to share!

The Zebra! Isn't he cute?

Not my own design; I used the tutorial here: http://nuno-runo.blogspot.com/2010/04/zebra.html   I have an elephant in the works, but like the zebra, it is not moving along quickly. It would be done much faster if I just worked only on that project, but I always have to have about ten things going at once.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hand Sewing

In between costume construction, I've tried to get a little hand sewing done. Once again, the Little Helper has to be in on it.

Mainly, though, because my vision is currently kind of messed up, I can't do this kind of sewing for long. Bummer.

Sewing the Genie

We spent three weeks at it, broke a sewing machine, and made lots of modifications, but DD summed it up well when she said, "This was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be, but I've learned so much!"

I agreed. The pattern really was much more complicated than I had anticipated, and it just didn't lend itself to the shortcuts that I had thought we could do. But it was fun working on it with DD, and she was justifiably proud of the end result!

 Here is the completed costume, minus the hat and veil. It was constructed out of hot pink costume satin with overlays of light pink organza. Gathering the organza for the sleeves and the bust overlay was a trying experience! The edges fray terribly, and the fabric is so crisp that it resists any gathers or pleats. Nonetheless, we fought through it and completed those parts.

The bodice and waistband are lined. I was going to skip this, but it became clear that lining was going to be the best way to contain the fraying edges of the organza and satin. I dipped into my stash of recycled fabrics from thrifted clothes, and so it is lined with purple silk! DD reports that it is soft and nice against the skin.

We modified the embellishments substantially: There are multiple overlays on the trousers asked for by the pattern, but we only added one on each leg. The bodice calls for fringe trim at the bottom, which would have been nice, but we didn't find anything suitable and just left it off.

We added a strip of sparkly fabric between the upper and lower sections of the bodice, and after it was all constructed, sewed on the gold sequin trim. Instead of making shoulder straps from the satin, we used ribbon.

The pattern calls for buttons to close the top and a zipper on the trousers, but we made velcro closures. Not sure if that really saved any time, though; I had to concoct a facing for the velcro in the trousers.

I liked the way this project was able to use up some of the trim in my stash! Glad to see it adding sparkle to this.

She made a lovely genie!

Halloween Wrap-up

I am long overdue reporting on the genie costume, how the sewing went, and Halloween in general. Here is the genie, flitting by:

The costume was fabulous, and the weather cooperated enough that she was able to wear it (with long underwear beneath the trousers!) with only a coat draped over her shoulders while walking. A complete report on the construction will follow in another post. It took a long time, perhaps because of the continued assistance of our eager helper:
Her penchant for pulling out pins was not helpful.

Finishing details were delayed in the week before Halloween because of the necessity of creating this monster:

The skeleton creature had to be ready in time to appear in the school's Haunted Hallway during the Halloween festival. I made the mask out of papier mache, made the hood out of a thrifted black skirt, and supplied some black sweats, also thrifted. It was topped off with an old graduation robe, probably one of the handiest garments to keep in your dress-up closet. Reports were that the skeleton terrified every single kid who came through the hall!

We then hung it on a lamp in the living room, where it continued to terrify us, especially late at night ...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Winter is Icumen In*

It has been a long and productive season for the garden. On Monday I was pulling out the tomato plants, having harvested the last of the green tomatoes (on October 24! a new record!!) and was then about to pull out the zinnias, which were looking pretty weary, when a freshly hatched monarch butterfly flew up. Its wings were still crinkled and fat, not yet fully dried out and hardened for flight. How could I take the flowers away when there were still new butterflies needing food? And when I looked at the broccoli that I had allowed to go to flower, there were bees huddling among the yellow blossoms. So I left it all.
But last night the temperature dropped to 24 degrees. We had a light frost in early October, but that only caused a few sensitive leaves to turn brown. This freeze has killed everything. And it's about time. Soon there will be snow, and the plants needed to stop growing and prepare themselves for winter. So today I will finally be pulling out the rest of the garden plants and putting the garden to bed.

Early this morning as the air began to warm, all the maple leaves that were still hanging on to the trees let go and fluttered to the frosty ground, their final connection to the tree severed by the freezing temperature.

*Ezra Pound's parody of the traditional English round "Sumer is Icumen In"