Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Bryer Skirt by Liz Haywood

I first saw this skirt on Fadanista's blog, and I really liked it. Her version is made from a lovely corduroy and it looks like it would be perfect for striding across the moors in sturdy boots and a warm shawl. I didn't have any corduroy, and here on the Central Coast we are lacking in moors. But I did have a hunk of inky blue linen so I decided to go for it.

This is the Bryer skirt, from Liz Haywood. She's a zero waste designer who lives in South Australia. I've been intrigued by the idea of zero waste but many of the garments produced just don't ring my bell. I really liked the looks of this skirt though. The darts at the hem give it an interesting shape, and I liked the idea of a couple of big pockets sandwiched in the closures. 

The process felt like an adventure. I must have shifted my pattern pieces around for 20 minutes before something clicked. Here's the layout I ended up with. The front and back of the skirt are identical, and the rectangular-ish pieces in the corners are the pockets. Looks like I had juuust the right amount of fabric, doesn't it?

Actually, I had a small hunk left, which I needed for the waistband. So I guess my particular skirt isn't really zero waste, but I came pretty close.

I went for the long version because of the whole moor-striding fantasy, and I like it. We're still in flip-flop weather but once winter comes I think it will look nice with a pair of boots and maybe a chunky cropped sweater up top.

There are 8 darts around the hem of the skirt which gives it a rectangular vibe, kind of like one of those tablecloth skirts. I wish I were cool enough to post a video, because it looks nice as you move in it. 

The construction was very straightforward, except for inserting those pockets into the closures at the waist. I got it done but I'm not convinced I got it done correctly. They are, indeed, nice and big though.

My linen is a bit sheer in the light, so I should probably wear a slip with this. I'll try to think of it as a petticoat (see moor-striding fantasy above). 

My pattern review is on PatternReview.com here.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Toaster Sweater

We've had an unusually chilly, foggy spring and summer here on the Central Coast and my small stable of sweatshirts has been getting a real workout. I was out on a sewing shopping spree with my friend Jessica and I decided to finally pop for the Toaster Sweater pattern by Sew House Seven. Kind of wish I'd picked it up earlier because I like it a lot.

I opted to make sweater number 1, which has a sort of a funnel neck and a slimmer cut than sweater number 2. 

Super simple to put together. It has raglan sleeves, and the bands at cuff and waist are nice and wide and easy to attach. The collar was a snap too, but beware, it takes a sizable chunk of fabric.

I used a cotton sweatshirt fleece from knitfabric.com in a color they call pickle. Which is pretty much what it looks like. I always keep an eye peeled for sweatshirt fleece while fabric shopping, but it's surprisingly hard to track down. This site has quite a few, in nice colors and even some cute prints. 

If the weather keeps up this way I could do with another of these. I'd like to have seven sweatshirts, one for each day of the week. Now that I've found a fabric source I can make that happen.

We usually get a spell of Indian summer heat at the end of September, but so far it's not on the horizon. Maybe it's El Niño?

My pattern review is on PatternReview.com here.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Itch to Stitch Nosara Shirt

We're entering the dog days of summer here on the Central Coast. For us that means daytime temps in the 80s and evenings in the high 50s, which is nothing to you hardy folks from the mid-West. But we are delicate flowers, so I've been mining my collection of cool, loose cotton tops.

My newest contender is the Nosara Shirt by Itch to Stitch, made up here in a light cotton seersucker in a white/purple stripe from Cali Fabrics.

From the Itch to Stitch website, the Nosara features:

  • Options for cup sizes
  • Standard collar with collar stand
  • Integrated dolman sleeves
  • Front buttoned
  • Back yoke with back pleats
  • High-low shirttail hem
  • Designed for non-stretch, lightweight woven fabric

I opted to trace out a size 4 in a B cup. I thought about doing the size 6, but I checked the finished garment measurements and figured the ease in a size 4 would suit me just fine. And I think that was right, though a size up would be nice too. The extra air-flow might be just the ticket on those hotter days.

The construction of this top is nice and straightforward, and the instructions are great. Somehow I don't have many tops with the high-low hem thing going on, and I like it. This one's not too extreme, just enough to discreetly cover the butt.

You can't tell from the photos, but I cut the back yoke with the seersucker stripes going horizontally to emphasize that design element. 

Overall, a fun and stress-free sew with a very wearable result. 

I'd be happy to have another of these in my closet, and I have 2 yards of a grey and periwinkle checked shirting that's just asking to be cut out. 

My pattern review is on PatternReview.com here.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Leaf Blankets

My grandchildren are going to be gaining two new cousins in October. Their Uncle Benny is going to be having a baby boy, and their Aunt Charlene is going to be having a baby girl. Neither sibling knew the other was expecting until they both made announcements at Charlene's 40th birthday party. It was a riotous celebration, for sure.

I was poking around for ideas for baby shower presents when another sewist turned me on to the Leaf Blanket patterns at Twig and Tale. Could there be anything cuter than a little baby having tummy time on top of an enormous quilted leaf? I don't think so.

I popped for the Tropical Leaf Bundle, which gave me patterns for six tropical leaves in sizes ranging from mug rug to 46 inches long. I decided to trace out a size Small for each pending bundle of joy. I made the Elephant Ear for Baby Boy and the Lily Pad for Baby Girl.

The Elephant Ear in size Small is 35 inches long. Roomy enough for a baby to lounge on comfortably.

The pattern includes leaf veins that you can quilt.

I decided to make one side of my leaves in a vaguely organic color and to use a cute kid print for the underside.

That way when Baby Boy has graduated to tummy time he can enjoy looking at a bunch of cute animals doing yoga.

The size Small Lily Pad is 33 inches in diameter. Baby Girl can pretend she's drifting down the Nile.

And if she gets tired of green, she has a flotilla of jellyfish on the flip side to keep her entertained.

Or she can lie sideways and pretend she's atop a polka dotted pac man.

These little blankets were very satisfying and straightforward to make. Not to mention quick; I probably had both of them done in 3 or 4 hours. Might have been even quicker if I hadn't had to take a few recesses for other tasks.

Twig and Tale has leaf pattern bundles for a variety of ecological zones. If you're more of a Maple person, there's a North American bundle for you, and they've got Australia, New Zealand and Europe covered too.

If you have any kids in your life, or if you just want a set of cute placemats or coasters, this pattern is great.

My pattern review is on PatternReview.com here.

Twig and Tale Fairy Wings

 My great niece is turning 3 next Sunday. I made her a shark puppet for Christmas last year, which was reportedly a hit, so I thought I'd try for another hand made toy.

These are the Woodland Sprite Wings from Twig and Tale. In this first picture they're perched on a lily pad baby blanket.

Here they are held up by moi, so you can get a sense of the size. I made the Small, which is intended for kids aged 1 - 3. When I don't have the kid right in front of me I find I can no longer judge how big a 3-year old is, but I think this will work for Jeanne for a little while anyway.

Here's a close-up of the public side. The wings are stiffened with some heavy-duty interfacing on both front and back and also some sew-in interfacing on the front. They feel pretty sturdy. I'm not a pro at working with those types of materials, but the instructions were good so I was able to muscle my way through.

The appliqués can be cut from little scraps of whatever you like. I used a fuse-able adhesive to position them and then zig-zagged around the edges to hold them on permanently (I hope). 

Here's the underside. The kid is meant to slide their arms through the elastic straps and then flit about the house like a sprite. The stiffened line down the middle, which the designer calls a spine, is supposed to keep the wings at attention, and also give them a little bit of movement. I haven't seen them on an actual kid but I'm pretty convinced they'll operate as intended. 

My great niece is a cute little nubbins who dances around like a fairy even without any wings. I'm hoping she'll get a kick out of these.

My pattern review is on PatternReview.com here.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Yet Another Diva Bag

This is the bag that I've used exclusively for decades. I got the pattern at the Pajaro Valley Quilt Show many years ago. I love it. I think it's what one would call a "bucket bag." It sort of folds in half so you can sling the straps over your shoulder. When you unfold it, it unzips to reveal a cavernous interior. It easily holds the many, many items I seem to need to carry with me everywhere, and there's room to add a bottle of water, a sandwich, The Man's glasses and probably also a watermelon. 


There is a small pocket between the straps on side #1. It's just the right size to hold my phone so I don't have to dig around to answer it when on the prowl. It could also hold a bottle of water, or a baby bottle. I think this pattern was originally designed as a diaper bag.

There's a larger pocket on side #2. I keep my keys in there. Always. That way I'm not one of those people who keep asking their spouse, "Honey, did you see what I did with my keys?" 

This is probably at least my 8th iteration of this pattern. I've made it from bark cloth, quilting cotton and remnants of upholstery. This version is upholstery fabric, bought for $2 a yard at Crossroads Fabrics in Watsonville (sadly closed now). 

I've had mixed results with upholstery. Some varieties look strong but the surface starts to pill or shred surprisingly quickly. Which makes me glad I didn't choose 30 yards to recover my living room set. This one was a little hefty to manipulate but it feels like it will last.

Here it is unfolded but still zipped up. One thing I love about this pattern is that you can put one strap over each shoulder and wear it like a backpack. Sometimes it's nice to be able to redistribute the weight when you've been out and about for the day.

And here it is unzipped. Tons of room in there, and the opening is nice and big so it's easy to find what I'm looking for. I usually add a few inner pockets too, for stashing a tin of mints or my cowgirl mirror. 

I used an on-sale quilting cotton for the lining. I read somewhere that it's good to use a light-colored fabric to line a purse. It might get dirty-looking sooner but it makes it easier to see what you have in there.

My last version was made from barkcloth and it lasted for almost 5 years. I interfaced the outer fabric, which probably helped. No interfacing in my new version, which saved me some cutting time. 

RIP old friend

My pattern review is on PatternReview.com here. And you can get the pattern from the designer, Lynndi Enright, at The Stars Aligned Studio.

Monday, June 12, 2023

Nina Lee Carnaby Dress

I had a couple of weddings to attend this summer. While there are a few dresses in my closet that would have worked just fine for a wedding, these were pretty special events. One was for my nephew and the other was for the son of one of my oldest friends. And I have to admit that when I tried on some of my possible choices, they felt a wee bit tight (curse you Covid pounds, will you never leave me?). So I set out to sew a comfortable dress suitable for an aging wedding attendee. 

Nina Lee Carnaby Dress

I settled on the Carnaby Dress, from Nina Lee. Which is actually a shift-style mini-dress. Hem it to hit mid-thigh and pop it on a leggy young gal and it looks right out of the swinging 60s. Lengthen in to below the knee and dress me in it and it looks much more sober. Like it could work with pumps and a pill-box hat.

Except I don't have pumps or a pill-box hat, and I used a piece of batik that a friend's mother had brought back from Indonesia several decades ago. So maybe it's a bit in between swinging and sober.

I had just 2 yards of 45 inch wide fabric with a wide border at the bottom and narrow borders up both selvedges. The pattern layout was a bear, but I think I got there in the end. I used the bottom border for the skirt pieces, which I modified into one long rectangle so I could use the entire width of the fabric.

I put the seam at center back, so fewer pattern matching woes at the sides!

That stripe up the center back is because I had to use about half of each selvedge border to get those pattern pieces to fit. I'm trying to think of it as a feature, not a bug. 

The batik wedding took place yesterday. The bride and groom rode us out into the redwoods on an old steam train out of Roaring Camp. It was a bit overcast and chilly. We've been having a pretty cold spring and summer here on the Central Coast. We went from May Gray to June Gloom and we expect to head right on into Fogust. With my linen Moss Jacket and a large shawl, my wedding dress worked just fine though.

The ceremony took place in the center of a grove of redwoods. Closest thing to a natural cathedral ever. 

The other wedding was at a park in San Francisco and it deserved its own dress. This version of the Carnaby Dress is in medium weight linen from the FabricsStore in a color called Wild Cherry. Nice to sew and nice to wear but it wrinkled like there was no tomorrow. It's the nature of the beast.

My pattern review is at PatternReview.com here.