Sunday, March 3, 2019

Lander Pants

Whew! We're just coming off a rush of travel and house guests. All very fun, but it's cut into my sewing and blogging time. So, better late than never, here are some pictures from the Make the Lander Pants class that I took back in February with my friend, Jessica.

The finished Lander Pants
The class took place at Hello Stitch sewing studio in Berkeley, CA., We had a blast.

I should have taken more photos, but the day was such a blur of activity that I didn't think of it until we were heading out in the evening.

The studio space is large and light and there are plenty of tables and equipment and space. The class was capped at 7 people (if I remember right), so we all got a fair share of our teacher's time. That teacher was Beth Gavin, who blogs at SunnyGal Studio. She kept us on point. Pretty much everyone walked out with a close-to-complete pair of pants, even though some of us were changing up the construction by subbing zip flys for the buttons and slash pockets for the patches. It's fun to see a bunch of different people sewing up the same pattern. Gives you great ideas for next time.

Since we were making a 70 mile drive to attend the class, we decided to treat ourselves to a Girl's Night Out in Berkeley. We stayed at a very cute AirBnB just a mile from the class location. Too bad the weather was rainy, or we would have taken advantage of the garden table to sip our morning coffee.

Cute garden
Cute living room with french doors
All in all a very fun get away. There's nothing like social sewing.

So, on to the pants. I've been a bit smitten with this pattern ever since it first came out. It's totally got the zeitgeist of the pants of my youth. Which, I admit, was in the 70's. We used to buy those pants at the Army Navy Surplus store on University Avenue in Berkeley. They came in blue denim and railroad denim. Gee, I loved those pants. And, thanks to the wonders of sewing, I can wear them once again!

Side view
I used Santa Cruz Twill from Hart's. The pattern called for almost 3 yards. Since I'm a short person, I think I have enough left for a skirt.

Back view. I think I had more butt in the 70's
I made the full-on button-front fly and patch pocket version and I like them a lot. They're comfortable  to wear and straightforward to sew. I also love the pockets.

Here's a button fly closeup. The top is a Kirsten Kimono Tee made from cactus fabric that turns out to be a good color match for these pants.

The only change I'll make next time is to swap out the straight waistband for a curved one. The straight band gapes a bit on me, even though I am pretty darn straight myself.

I've already bought some railroad stripe denim to make myself another pair of these pants. Now all I need to relive my high school days is a chambray work shirt and some hiking boots.

My pattern review is on here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Holiday Sewing

Why, yes, I am still finishing up some of my holiday gift sewing. How about you?

Here it is: a set of six placemats, with napkins, for The Man. I'd made him placemats for his birthday some years ago. It was probably not the most exciting birthday gift he'd ever received, but we have used them enough that they've started to look pretty beat up.

I made those original placemats at my sister's house so the he could be thrilled and surprised when he opened the package. This time I made them at home so he could hear me cussing and ripping. As I'd told my nephews all those years ago, if you grow up to have a girlfriend who makes you placemats for your birthday, what do you say? "Wow, now I know how much you must love me because placemats are a big pain in the ass to make."

I stole the idea for the pattern from a booklet called Magic Inch Quilts that I got at Back Porch Fabrics in Pacific Grove. I was there to admire a quilt display with a couple of friends. One of the quilts from this book was hanging on the wall and I thought it looked very nice; colorful and happy and moderne.

The book is only 25 pages long. It explains the "magic inch" technique and then gives you some quilt patterns to practice its use. The patterns are all pretty cute, I think:

Cute quilt one

Cute quilt two
To deploy the "magic inch," you start with a fabric block of your chosen dimensions. I cut six blocks sized 8 inches by 15 inches. Then you cut a bunch of one inch strips in contrasting fabrics.

Then you slice up your fabric block and insert those one inch strips in whatever fashion tickles your fancy. I did slightly wonky stripes.

Since you are inserting a one inch strip of fabric and subtracting four 1/4 inch seam allowances, the measurements of your original block stay the same. Magic!

The technique is straightforward and it feels very improvisational and happy-go-lucky, but you have to be accurate with your cutting and seaming. And with your pressing and fabric handling, so that your little bitty strips don't get torqued. As with most quilting, precision counts. Otherwise Bad Things can happen.

Cleverly, I gave myself some insurance by cutting my blocks at 8 x 15 when I wanted a finished size of 7.5 x 14.5. A couple of those blocks just barely trued up at the end.

I don't think I have the skills or the patience to make a bed-sized quilt featuring this technique, but it was fun to try. It might also be fun to play around with as an embellishment for garment sewing.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Burdastyle Twisted Tee

I've noticed my eye being drawn to twisted tees lately. I made this one back in February of 2018. It's a french terry; warm enough that I didn't wear it much during the summer and fall, but I did wear it on our recent trip to Tahoe and was reminded how much I like it.

Here's this year's twisted tee:

This year's twisted tee, BS 01-2019-113
And here's last year's twisted tee:

Last year's twisted tee, BS 02-2018-107
So, why not just make up last year's pattern again? Well, here's the line drawing:

BS 02-2018-107
The cut of the neckline is a bit...extreme. It drapes nicely enough when I'm wearing it, but it doesn't fit like a normal tee-shirt neck, that's for sure. It's hard to really see this from the line drawing, but there are only two pattern pieces here; a front and a back. The sleeves are cut on and that left sleeve wraps up around from the back pattern piece. It was confusing as heck to sew together, and it was no fun to cut out either. The cutting layout used even more fabric than I imagined it would.

In contrast, here's 01-2019-113:
BS 01-2019-113
The neckline is more like your garden-variety tee, and the sleeves have their own pattern piece. Hey-hey, I thought. Should be easier to put together, and take less fabric to boot. Like a regular tee, but with that je ne sais qui that explains why I need yet another knit top in my shirt drawer.

When I got it done and tried it on, I wasn't best pleased with it. The reason should have been apparent from the magazine photos, and probably also from the line drawing. With this tee, the folds drooped down around my hips instead of defining my (admittedly imaginary) waist.

When I laid last year's tee over this year's tee, the curve on the left sides was pretty much the same, but the curve on the right side, which creates those drapey folds, was much shallower.

Last year's tee is on top, showing the more extreme shape.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? So I pinned the curvier seam onto this year's tee and re-sewed that side.

I had to fudge the underarm area, because the sleeves are a different cut. I think it pretty much worked though. I also shortened about three inches at the hem. I like the fit a lot more now. In fact, I like it enough that I think I'll use this pattern again.

I tried to transfer the changes back to the pattern. We'll see how well that works out for me.

Side view
I used a Laguna jersey for this version. I have a hunk of navy and white knit in an abstract floral print that's been lurking in the fabric closet. I think I'll cut into that for my next try.

back view
I think I'll try a sleeveless version with that fabric. Well, "sleeveless" will look more like short sleeved, since the shoulders are so dropped. It might make a cute summer top.

I think I'll also try to corral that bateau neckline. It's wide enough that it wants to slip down off my left shoulder. Which would have been cute 40 years ago, but not so much now. The fact that it's my left shoulder that gets exposed probably says I could fiddle with the shaping at that right underarm. Maybe I'll throw this top onto Mini Me and see if I can drape it into submission.

My pattern review is on here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

High Waist Undies

I'm not sure why it took me so long to trace out this pattern and give me-made undies a serious try. This is Jalie 2568. I bought it about two years ago, based on positive reviews on PatternReview. I've tried a couple other underwear patterns and they were fine, but this one looked like it would hit all the high points for me.

My go-to RTW undies were the Victoria's Secret High Leg Briefs. I liked the fit. The waist fell pretty much where mine did. They're usually on sale, so I could get 5 pairs for $25, and they have a nice store in San Francisco. Once a year, I'd stock up. 

Then, as happens all too often as one ages, things began to change. Waistlines on garments began to drop. Low rise jeans got super popular. And my High Leg Briefs morphed into Low Rise Briefs. That means that the waistline elastic cuts right across my hip fluff, resulting in Visible Panty Lines when I wear knit dresses and skirts. Plus, this style started to get harder to find. Victoria's Secret is now all about the thongs and the boy shorts and the Brazilian hipsters. 

So I sat down one day last week and cut myself out a few pairs of Jalie 2568. I'm now a true believer. 

Cute camisole too!

They're very quick to sew up. The legs really don't require elastic edging to stay in place. And, once I added a couple inches to the rise, they really do come up to my waist. The fit is great; I don't notice I'm wearing them even when I try to concentrate on them. I want a drawer full.

I used a brushed cotton lycra blend that I got at Hart's. The purple roses are scraps from my Brasov top and the teal roses I bought special for this project. I got a yard of the teal roses for $9, so I can make these undies for cheaper than Victoria's Secret. Especially if you factor in a trip to San Francisco. 

I complicated the construction by trying to enclose the crotch seam as described in a great tutorial by Very Purple Person. Even though I pre-pinned and thought I had it right for the first pair, I screwed it up and ended up with my crotch lining on the outside of my undies. Ripped it out and did it again. 

On the second pair I was certain sure I had everything done correctly, so I sewed it up. And I did have it done correctly, but I'd sewn the crotch lining to the rear leg opening. Doh! Ripped it out and did it again. But, by George, I'm sure I've got it now and subsequent pairs will be right first time, every time.

These undies, along with the Seamwork Florence and the Ohhh Lulu Hyacinth, will take care of my lingerie drawer from now on. Game on!

My pattern review is on here.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

New Bag

ETA: The designer is still in business! You can contact Lynndi Enright at or

I found the pattern for this bag at the Pajaro Valley Quilt Association Show years ago. Maybe decades ago. Ever since I sewed my first version, it's been the only purse for me.

I'm the kind of person who develops a relationship with a purse. I come to know its little quirks, where all its little pocket are, and in which one my keys belong.

This bag has a big pocket on one end, which is the perfect spot to stash my keys. I put them in there as soon as I'm done using them. I am, therefore, not one of those people who wanders around the house saying, "Honey, have you seen my car key?"

The other end has a smaller pocket that works just right for my iPhone. It's easily accessible, and it lives there all by itself, so it doesn't get scratched. I used to have an occasional phone-sliding-out problem, but now I have a phone cover that's just a little bit grippy, so it stays put perfectly.

The shape is what you'd probably call a bucket bag. When it's folded for carrying on my shoulder, it's pretty compact, but I'm here to tell you I can fit all of my usual crappola, plus a bottle of chardonnay in there with no trouble.

Here's a view of my usual crappola. I often wonder how guys can get along with just pockets. I must really need all this stuff, because I go through my bag to get rid of heavy things on a weekly basis, but I end up putting all of it back.

Here's a shot of it on my shoulder, so you can see the relative size.

And here it is opened out. Surprisingly roomy, right? Plus, you can sling the straps over your shoulders to wear the bag like a backpack. That's quite a treat for a tired back.

I used a bark cloth in blue and black that I got at Hart's Fabric. Looks like the print is called Paradise and the color is Blue. This is a sturdier fabric than I used for my last version of this bag, and I used a firmer interfacing to boot. Note to self for next time: I interfaced the body of the bag, and the outside pockets, but I didn't interface the straps this time. The straps are folded 4 layers thick and the bark cloth was heavy enough that I didn't want to wrestle that extra bulk through my machine. Time will tell if my straps buckle prematurely.

I can see from my old blog entries that these bags typically last me a couple of years before they kick the bucket (nyuk nyuk; get it, bucket bag?). That's two years of daily use, as I'm not the kind of person who moves stuff from one bag to another.

The pattern is straightforward to put together, but, like most bags, there are a lot of different pieces. Lots of pockets, a bunch of lining pieces, and interfacing for most of it. I'm always relieved to be done with a bag project. It sure pays back on time spent though!

Sadly, I haven't been able to find any current contact information for this pattern. The original website is here. My original review of this pattern is on here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Blue Velvet

 I'm going to be joining The Man and his brother at Lake Tahoe this Christmas. If we're lucky, we'll drive up on a clear, sunny day and snow will start softly falling once we've checked into the hotel. If we're not, someone is going to have to put chains on the car. Wish us good fortune...

As we'll be dining out on Christmas Eve and for Christmas dinner, I decided I'd try to make myself a somewhat glam but also warm and comfy holiday dress.

I recently made myself a new V-Neck Tee from a pattern by Christine Johnson and I was reminded how much I like the neckline in front and the neck-hugging collar in back. Then I saw this midnight blue stretch velvet at Hart's, and all I could think of was a knee length V-Neck Tee in midnight blue. At $12.99 a yard, it was cheap enough that I gave it a whirl, even though I've never sewn with fabric with a nap like this before.

I wouldn't call it a walk in the park, but it wasn't as gnarly as I thought it might be. The fabric crept against itself a bit, but it wasn't too bad. I didn't even need to break out the walking foot.

The front panels that make up the V-neck on this top are doubled, which means that I have 4 layers of nappy stretch velvet down at the hem in the front. I hand sewed a catch stitch hem to keep it in place. It didn't work great, but it passes the galloping horse test. As The Man pointed out, it's all the way down by my knees. Who's going to notice that?

Looks like I could use a couple darts in the back, but I plan to be seated and eating huge dinners most of the time I'm wearing this dress. What the waiters don't know won't hurt them.

Instead of just cutting the skirt straight down from the tunic length I pinned on the knit pencil skirt from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual. That made the skirt a little bit pegged, which I kind of like. Everything stretches enough so I can walk without any trouble. But I won't want to be climbing into any jacked up pick up trucks.

I thought I might need a good bit of fabric because; long sleeves and knee length, so I got three yards. This fabric is 60 inches wide, though, so I had enough left over to make a Tilly and the Buttons Coco from the remnants.

And I still have a big enough piece left that I've set it aside to make a Hyacinth bra.

My pattern review is on here.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Holiday Sewing

Need a quick gift for a green-minded friend? May I suggest re-usable produce bags?

They're kind of cute, right? Like lingerie for your fruits and veggies.

I took the idea from Heather Lou at Closet Case Patterns.  She has a lovely, clear tutorial on how to sew these up, and what materials work best. I don't have a serger, so I made mine on my sewing machine. French seamed, of course. I haven't road tested them extensively, but they seem pretty sturdy.

I used a polyester tulle that I got at Joanne's for something like 5 bucks a yard. I figured polyester is light, tough and washable. Probably even machine washable. But maybe not machine dry-able. I thought the checkers at the market would appreciate that the bags are see-through, so they won't need to slow their roll to figure out what's inside.

I was a bit worried my Babylock would freak, trying to sew something that's mainly air, but it didn't even stutter.

I'm a knitter, so I have a closet full of yarn stash to poke thorough for draw strings. I used two colors of cotton and one dark green linen. I'm hoping the drawstrings wash and wear as well as the bags do.

I made 18 of them in a couple of hours. After the first half dozen, I was whipping them out pretty quick. Still, they're fiddly enough to sew that I've decided not to go into the reusable produce bag business. Cutting them out was the worst part. That tulle was something like 60 inches wide and it stuck to every chip in my fingernails. It felt like trying to lay out an enormous spider web.

I'm happy with the way they turned out though. I think I'll even make a few for me, once the hurly-burly of the holidays is behind me.