Sunday, March 25, 2018

Madison Square

If it's March, it must be Sewing Camp. I had such a good time last year that I signed up for another three days of yakking and creative fervor in the Sewing Shack.

Most of the Sewing Shack crew are quilters, many of them very accomplished indeed (like Karen, a.k.a. the Capitola Quilter). I figured I'd bring a quilting project to work on so I could take advantage of their willingness to share their expertise with a noob like me.

Plus, I had promised The Man that I'd make him a "foot of the bed" quilt as a Christmas present. Yes, that would be last Christmas. So it was time for me to get to piecing. One of The Man's favorite artists is Hundertwasser. My aim was to come up with a quilt that was Hundertwasser-ish, which I think this kind of is.
The Man modeling the quilt
I used a pattern called Madison Square that I bought at The Stitching' Post in Sisters, Oregon while we were on vacation last summer. It wasn't until I started copying links for this post that I realized the pattern designer, Jean Wells, is the owner of the store. If you find yourself anywhere within a 50 mile radius of Sisters, stop by The Stitching' Post for a dose of inspiration. They have a yarn side and a fabric side.

I really enjoyed working with the pattern for this quilt. You end up getting a bunch of information about working with color, modern quilting and generally just loosening up and having fun with fabric.


I'm normally timid when combining colors or patterns. Improvisation is not my forte. I tend to like clear direction. This pattern was ideal for someone like me. It's kind of hilarious, really, the way she gently nudges you into loosening up. Before I knew it, I was just grabbing strips from a pile of fabric and going to town. Too long? Whack it shorter. Too short? Slap another piece on the end. It's all good!

She starts the instructions by talking you through choosing your fabrics, including a nice dose of color theory.

Then she has you cut long strips in three widths. I started out with my strips organized by color and width, but after 15 minutes of grabbing and sewing it looked like a rainbow snake had given birth on my work table.

Many, many fabric snakes
You can be happy-go-lucky for most of this project but precision still counts. Jean Wells urges you to hack your starting strips into parallelograms and join them up all catty-wumpus, but she has you true things up a key points so that you can join everything together in the end without driving yourself crazy.


I started the quilt on March 9 and finished it yesterday, March 24. It would have been quicker but I took a 10 day time out for a hellish sinus infection someplace in the middle there. Considering the last quilt I gifted to The Man took 5 years to complete, this was hella quick.

A very nice quilting lady at sewing camp showed me how to attach my walking foot (thanks, Michelle!), so I tried doing some machine quilting. It went surprisingly well! It was also surprisingly quick. I was all done with that part in a couple of hours, including a lunch break.

I did a little bit of hand quilting inside the colored squares. My hand quilting skills could use some major help. The machine quilting looks a thousand times better.

Binding shot
The pattern had you use scraps of your piecing fabric for the binding. That meant I didn't join the binding strips with bias seams, but it worked out just fine. I really like that narrow slice of color at the edge.

I used a fabric that looked like a topographical map for the backing. Nothing fancy there.

Peek of the backing
This quilt is supposed to sit at the foot of the bed, waiting to be pulled up as needed on especially chilly nights. We gave it a trial run last night and it worked out great.


I think I might have one more quilt in me. We could use a queen size one for the guest bedroom upstairs. I need a cooling-off period first though.

My pattern review is on PatternReview.com here

Monday, February 26, 2018

Cactus Shorts

My grandson has a cactus theme going on in his life. His bedroom features cactus lamps, cactus murals, cactus fairy lights and cactus pillows. Plus, his loving grandma has sewn him a cactus-rich wardrobe. Here's the latest item:


Cactus Shorts!
I kept it a bit more subtle than my usual. The shorts are a neutral navy twill with a tasteful saguaro patch on the left leg.


The pattern is the free Sunny Day Shorts from Oliver & S. I highly recommend the pattern. You can download a huge size range in two pdfs, one from 6 months to 4, the other from 5 to 12. I figure I've got the kid's shorts needs covered until he enters high school. It's a very straightforward pattern. If you're after pockets or ruffles or other bells and whistles, you'd be on your own. But this is a nice blank slate; you could do a lot of fun things with it. Plus: free!

Cactus closeup
I was lucky enough to find a packet of 6 cactus patches at a local gardening store. I plan to trickle them into his wardrobe one by one.

The Man has suggested that the kid may not like cacti. It's hard to know until he starts talking. Until then, it'll be all cactus, all the time!

My pattern review is on PatternReview.com here.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Raglan Man Tee

My friend, Jessica, is the kind of person who can hop into the Goodwill and emerge with 6 cashmere sweaters, a piece of Waterford crystal and a handful of vintage patterns. Luckily for her friends, she happily shares her good fortune.

I have a basic, set in sleeve tee pattern I've made a few times for The Man. It's cobbled together from a free Burdastyle pattern modified with tracings of his favorite store-bought tees. I've been wanting to try a raglan tee pattern for him and, wouldn't you know, Jessica turned up a vintage Stretch-and-Sew pattern that fills that bill.

Front view
And for 79 cents too.



According to the envelope this pattern dates from 1967. Though this guy looks like he's edging into the 70's.

70's dude with dark glasses
The Man has a few criteria for tee shirts, as follows:
  • close fit
  • high crew neck - no v-necks please!
  • long enough to stay tucked in to a pair of jeans
  • and a pocket that can hold a slew of vintage fountain pens
Side view
This pattern ticked all the boxes with the exception of the pocket, but that was easy enough to add.

Pocket with a heavy load of Mont Blancs
You know, I've never seen a men's raglan tee that has a pocket and I'm not sure why that's the case. I thought it might be because the pocket would interfere with the raglan sleeve seam, but that didn't end up being a problem.

This pattern should fill all my male raglan tee needs. It has a long sleeve version, a turtle neck version and instructions to split it up the front and make a cardigan.

My pattern review is on PatternReview.com here.

And here's the Kirsten Kimono Tee I scrapped together from the remnants from my Trapezoid Top. My favorite tee pattern. I just love it.


Thursday, February 1, 2018

Trapezoid Top

You know those off-kilter tee shirts that pop up every so often in Burdastyle magazine? Well, they finally sucked me into making one of them. This is top #107 from the February, 2018 issue.



And here's the line drawing below.

BS 02-2018-#107


It really is as wonky as it looks. But I think I kind of like it.

Side view showing the long side
There are only two pattern pieces - front and back. The neckline is just turned and stitched, so there isn't even a neckband to put on. In fact, the sewing part of the project was a total walk in the park.


The pattern tracing, on the other hand, was a challenge. Maybe my eyes are getting worse in my old age, but I had a heck of a time following the lines on this one. True, the pattern pieces are large and oddly shaped. In fact, they're so large Burda has laid each piece out in two chunks that you need to tape together at the end.

But once the tracing and cutting are done, you just zip up four seams and Bob's your uncle.

Side view showing the short side
I used a light weight french terry in a color called "charcoal" that I found at Hart's. I originally bought it planning to make a tee shirt for The Man, but once I got it home all I could see was this trapezoid top. Sorry, honey. Yet he still volunteered to do my photo shoot this morning. He's a sweetie.



The style is a bit edgy for this beach town gal, but I feel I should stretch myself every now and again. The terry makes it feel like a cozy sweatshirt, but maybe with more of an urban vibe. During my test-wearing session it felt comfortable and pretty much stayed put, once I fluffed my neckline into shape.

I think I'll get some use out of it! And I did go back to get another piece of this fabric for The Man.

My pattern review is on PatternReview.com here.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Flannel Blouse

Back in mid-December I took a little wander through the Anthropologie in Carmel, looking for scented candles. While sniffing the various options, I happened to notice a rack of plaid flannel shirts that didn't look like plaid flannel shirts. They were more like blouses that happened to be made of flannel. It was a cold and windy day outside; I had a vision of a nice, soft, warm flannel blouse that could be my very own.


The idea stuck with me, so I made a visit to Hart's to check out their wares. I found this Robert Kaufman mammoth flannel in a color way called Turquoise Surf. It spoke to me, so I grabbed a couple of yards and got to work.



I used Burdastyle 06/2011 #104, a top I've made a few times before. I like this top because it makes it easy to finesse pattern matching. The design lines are very simple and there are no darts. Burda uses a few gathers at the shoulder instead.


I cut the cuffs on the bias to avoid plaid matching there. I would have cut the button band on the bias too, but I didn't have enough fabric. When I was standing at the cutting table two yards seemed like plenty to make me a top. But I forgot to notice that this fabric is 44 inches wide, which is narrower than I'm used to. Doh! I tried to match up the horizontal lines at least, and I don't think it came out too bad.


I kind of wish I'd interfaced the cuff pieces. I decided to skip interfacing altogether, because two layers of flannel seemed like it was about as thick as I could deal with. I think it's just fine for the button band, but those bias cut cuffs warped a bit with handling. It passes the galloping horse test, though, so I'm not too fussed.


This is my second flannel shirt, along with my flannel Archer. I've been loving them. Winter on the Central Coast can feel even colder in the house than it does outside. A flannel shirt is just the thing to take the edge off.

My pattern review is on PatternReview.com here.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Button Front Fly

I made these pants partly for scientific purposes. I've never sewn a button front fly before. Actually, I haven't worn a button front fly since my old shrink-to-fit Levi 501s in high school. This pattern is in the December, 2017 issue of Burdastyle. Even though you can't see the buttons in either of the photos of the pants, I was intrigued.

Front view
I had my doubts while sewing, and I had to stretch my visual thinking to figure out how to put that danged fly together. Now that they're done, I like 'em!

Here's the line drawing from Burdastyle. They show them with a cropped leg and a flounce at the ankle.

Burdastyle December, 2017 #101
As a woman in her 60s, I feel I need to be sparing in my use of flounce so I decided to omit those. And as a short person, I think cropped trousers make me look even stumpier, so I lengthened them 6 inches. I'm 5'3";  if you're a long-legged gal and you want ankle length you may want to tack on even more.
Side view
I planned to add pockets, which Burdastyle doesn't include. I dug up an inseam pocket from another pants pattern; cut them out and everything. Then I decided I couldn't be bothered after all. Next time, I'll go for it though.

The fabric is a lightweight railroad strip denim that I got at Cool Cottons in Portland a couple years ago. Once I got it home the fabric seemed a little too heavy for a top and a little too light for a pair of pants. I think it works OK for this style though.


I'm actually surprised how well I like these pants. I test wore them to a party yesterday and they felt very comfortable. Add some pockets and this could become a go-to pants pattern for me.

My pattern review is on PatternReview.com here.

Happy echeveria

And here's a happy, somewhat seasonally colored echeveria in my planter on the porch. Succulents seem to really like this planter. This guy looks like he's going to bust out the sides and take over the yard.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Another Jalie Drop Pocket Cardigan

Back in September of 2015 I made myself a Jalie Drop Pocket Cardigan. I really liked that cardigan. It was a neutral gray, so it went with most of my wardrobe. It was fairly slim fitting but also long, so it managed to feel trim and slouchy at the same time. Plus it had those nice, deep pockets.

Then I left it hanging on the back of a chair in the Pearl Bakery in Portland, Oregon. I didn't realize that I must have done that until we were on the train, heading home. Goodby, beloved cardigan.

It's not like I don't have other cardigans. Between knitting and sewing, I have plenty of toppers to keep me warm. Still, none of them really filled that tender, empty spot inside left by my Jalie 3248.

So I made another one.

Front view
 I used a marled, navy blue sweater knit that I got while browsing the aisles at Hart's. They still have this fabric in some other colors, including a nice cranberry. It's light but warm, and it washed up nicely too. Into the washer and dryer with no special handling and it came out looking just like it did when I bought it.

The pattern is kind of a fabric hog because the front is cut double; one outer layer and one lining layer. The construction is nice. You can have some fun with different fabrics for the lining, which would show on the pockets, and you end up with a clean finish on the inside. The sewing is pretty much a breeze. Except for those pockets.

Close up of pocket
They kick my butt every time. Even though I've made the darn pattern before, I still sewed one pocket backwards. And when I did get the first pocket put together correctly, it took me another 20 minutes to puzzle through how to set up the second pocket.

The instructions are good. It's my spacial perception that's at fault. It's worth the trouble, though, because I do love these pockets so.


The fit is pretty slim, though the cardigan is cut fairly long. Especially for someone who is 5'3", like me.



The sleeves are slim fitting. Jalie says: "The sleeve is fitted and designed to be worn over a sleeveless top or dress." It works for me over a short sleeve tee shirt, but I wouldn't want to wear anything more bulky than that underneath.


Here on the Central Coast it's just what's needed for most of our weather. We consider anything below 65 degrees to be downright nippy.

Jalie 3248 has 18 reviews on Pattern.Review.com and most of us give it a lot of love. My review is here.