Friday, February 26, 2021

Fortuna Joggers in Blue

 Looks like I am finally over my sewing funk. After sewing nothing to speak of for several months, I've turned out two tops, a sweatshirt, and two pairs of pants in the last week. Most of these are re-makes of patterns I've used before. Nothing like a TNT or two to help dig you out of a sewing slump. 

This is my first waltz with this pattern though; the Fortuna Joggers from Sew Beautiful, by Kennis Wong. Kennis Wong is the mastermind behind Itch to Stitch. I've used a bunch of her patterns over the years and I've enjoyed them all, so when the book came out I ordered a copy.


I've been wanting to make a couple new pairs of sweat pants for a while now. My original versions were from a Burdastyle pattern from March, 2014. Wow, that means those sweats served me well for six years. 

The Fortuna Joggers are a sleeker, hipper style. Kind of a stretch for me, but I was feeling a little frisky.

I used a cotton jersey I ordered from Cali Fabrics. The thing about ordering fabric online is I can't really judge the weight until I open the package. This jersey is really too light for a pair of pants, but it is soft and comfy to wear, so I'll enjoy these joggers until they snag on something and die.

The cut is narrower than my Burda pattern, that's for sure. I had done some flat pattern measuring, so I knew that going into the project, but the fit is close enough that I felt a little indecent when I first tried them on for size. They're definitely growing on me now that I've worn them. They'll be primo for bike riding; no worries that my pants hem will get hung up in the chain.

One of my favorite parts of the pattern is the pockets. I don't know what this style is called. Instead of having a front pocket facing, the back pocket piece is sewn to the front leg piece around the inside edge. It makes a pocket that won't be folding up funny or turning into a wrinkled mess in the laundry. 

The top of the pocket is finished with a strip of woven fabric, which stabilizes the edge very nicely. It's also a chance to have fun choosing a scrap of coordinating cotton from the quilting remains.

Here's a hands-in-pockets photo for you.

My only alteration was to shorten the legs a couple of inches. Once I'd committed to a size and made that change to the pattern pieces the joggers were very quick and straightforward to sew. 

I'm planning on making another pair of these babies ASAP, so I can finally say good-bye to my baggy old sweats.

I'm also eyeing several of the other eight patterns in this book. Specifically the the Mornington dress, the Palermo blouse and the Orosi scarf-neck top. And I've already traced out the Taktsang dolman wrap, but it turned out I didn't have quite enough of my sweater knit to squeeze it out. Those dolman sleeves, man. They always take more fabric than you imagine they will.

My pattern review is on PatternReview.com here.





Tuesday, January 26, 2021

High Neck Tee

 I've been in the midst of a creativity slump for the last month. I suspect Covid fatigue is to blame. The Man and I have gone back to hard-core shelter in place practices, as it sounds like the little buggers are everywhere. We decided we'd feel really dumb if we went and got infected now, just as there's a vaccine available.

So I made myself a deal: I'd trace a simple pattern and haul out the machine and get moving. I worked. It did make me feel better and now I have a new top.

This is Top 121 from the December, 2020 issue of Burdastyle, and it's about as straightforward as a knit top can be. 

This is the photo from the magazine. It's hard to tell with her hair, but it has raglan sleeves and a bit of a high neck. Not quite a turtleneck. More like a half-turtleneck. It's been chilly enough here on the Central Coast that a high necked tee sounded pretty good to me.


I used a mystery knit that I picked up at BackStitch in Nevada City many years ago. I'm pretty sure it's rayon, because once I pre-washed it became basically pudding in fabric form. Soft and comfortable, but no structure whatsoever.


I made zero changes to the pattern. I could make it a little shorter next time; I'm 5 foot 2, for reference purposes. But I kind of like it hip-length like this. 


The sleeves are long enough to just cover my elbows. I'm not sure what to call that. They're too short to be 3/4 length but too long to be short. I kind of like them as they are though.

I was a little worried the neck would be too small to fit over my head, which is astonishingly large for someone my size. I can pop it on just fine though, except I do need to take off my glasses first. Also, note to self, stick to stretchy knits for this top.

Top 120 in this issue uses the same pattern pieces but has a full-on turtleneck. I think I'll go the whole nine yards with my next version.

If you're in the market for a high-neck raglan top with a loose but not boxy fit, I recommend this one. My pattern review is on PatternReview.com here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Santa's Coming

 I just finished a rare commissioned knitting project. My only commissioned knitting project, actually.

It's a stocking for my granddaughter, Margot. She's two, so she's calling herself Gogo. Lucky for me, because I would have had a hard time fitting all 6 letters of her full name onto 28 stitches of sock real estate. 

I used this free pattern, which I liked quite a lot. It's written clearly and it uses a fold-over cuff. The double thickness at the top makes the sock feel more sturdy, and it covers the messy tails left from knitting the name at the top. 

It also uses an "afterthought heel." I'd always wanted to try one of those. 

It produces a sock which is nice and roomy. As I explained to The Man, who never had a Christmas stocking, bigger is definitely better.

Here's a view of the guts, to show what I mean.

I used Encore acrylic yarn. I always have some of that sitting around. It feels pretty nice, comes in tons of colors and is machine washable. Good for items that are going into the hands of children.

My Ravelry notes show that it took me about a week to turn this baby out. A lot of that time was spent figuring out my chart to knit Margot's name at the top. Otherwise, it's a quick and enjoyable knit.

My Ravelry notes, if you're interested, are here.


Monday, November 23, 2020

Holiday Trolls

2020 has been one heck of a year. Normally, I'd be making little tchotchkes to wrap up for my loved ones, but it's probably going to be a big year for online gifting for me. Which some of my family and friends may be a bit relieved by, to be honest. 

But the kids are stuck with a handmade gift, whether they want one or not. 

I had an assortment of leftover Encore yarn, the remains of presents from holidays past. While meandering through Ravelry, I came upon a pretty darn cute free hat pattern called Troll. It uses worsted weight yarn, which Encore is. And trolls happen to be something that the grandkids will associate with me. 

One of my pandemic projects was to build a little fairy house in the yard. I didn't have any spare fairies to populate the house, but I did find a 10-pack of trolls on Amazon for $9.99. 

So there they are! The kids have seen them several times via FaceTime, and once in person, on the funnest weekend ever.

The layout even includes a troll gold mine, with a little ore cart and some gold nuggets. My neighbor is a very creative person. She got sucked into the project with me, so a lot of the cuter elements are thanks to her. Thanks, Mary!

The first hat is baby-sized, for my new great niece Jeanne. Jeanne is a girl who can really rock the gray.

The next three hats are toddler-sized. The red and black number is for my great nephew Zeke. 

The blue and gray is for my grandson, Miles. He's three.

And the sparkly blue is for my two-year-old granddaughter, Margot. 

It's anybody's guess if these hats will fit an actual kid. They're too small for me, which is probably a good sign.

The pattern was clearly written and very quick to work up. I'm trying to think of more toddlers who need a troll hat so I can make another. These four kids live in southern California, so they'll probably wear the hats once a year, when the temps drop into the low 60s.

If you need a quick gift for a kid, I recommend this pattern. My Ravelry notes are here.


Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Dog Quilt is Done

 When I finished my anvil quilt, I thought I might have one more silhouette quilt in me. Also, there's one bed in the house that does not yet have a foot-of-the-bed quilt, and it's the room that my grandchildren stay in when they come to visit. I am a dog fan, so I thought I'd try a dog silhouette quilt for the kids to snuggle under while they're here. Luckily for me, my friend Jessica had just made a dog silhouette quilt so she had already tracked down all the dog shapes on the internet and printed them out. All I needed was dog fabric and my sewing machine.


I used the down-and-dirty appliqué technique from the Craftsy class, Cute Quilt As You Go Monsters. It's a fun process, and pretty easy too. Kind of like coloring with bits of fabric. 

Back of quilt shot

The only part of the project that's kind of fiddly is stitching around the outside of the appliqué pieces. My tip, if you should try this (and I think you should because it's lots of fun) is to pick subjects that have smooth outlines. Line anvils. Things that are shaggy or spiky are kind of a pain to stitch around. The Scottie was a bit of a trial, and I just gave up on the Maltese.

Well, for fun, here are a few of my favorite dogs:

The Tea Cup Chihuahua, a tribute to Jessica's dog, Peabody. He weighs 3 pounds but his spirit is mighty.


The Giant Schnauzer. Not too bad to stitch around, except for his chin whiskers.


The Scottie. Enough said about his shagginess.


The Great Pyrenees. What a wonderful breed. We have had two; Zoe, the dog of my heart, and now Maeve, who is also a dear. Great Pyrenees are huge and hairy but they're super calm and they love everyone. Well, except for squirrels that are trying to get over the fence into the back yard.


The Dalmatian. It was finding this fabric that made me pull the trigger to make this quilt in the first place.


The Corgi. Because, the Queen Mum. Also because my friend Aaron has always wanted a Corgi. 


The Golden Retriever, for all the outstanding Golden's that I've known, including my beloved Brandy, who was the puppy who grew up with my son and nephews.


And, last but not least, the Black Labrador, for my friend Carole's ball-loving River. 


Actually, every dog I've ever met is a good dog. 


My pattern review is on PatternReview.com here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Peppermint Magazine Pocket Skirt

 We're having an unusually warm fall here on the Central Coast. It's been in the 80s, which is not so great for our wildfire situation. It does mean that I can continue to enjoy breezy skirts and tank tops for a bit longer though.


This example is the free Pocket Skirt from Peppermint Magazine, designed by Paper Theory.


Pretty cute design, right? And very straightforward to make up. 


I used a lightweight chambray. Probably too lightweight for a skirt; I'm just waiting for it to snag on a splinter. 


I love the pockets, of course, and I also like the high waist. The pattern calls for 1.5 inch wide elastic, which (miracle!) I had in my findings stash. The waist is stable enough that I can actually carry my phone in one of those pockets without the skirt riding down my hips. 


I also love the midi length. Well, it's really more like tea length on me. The skirt is slightly A-line, so you get some fullness at the hem, but it's not so full that it trips me up when I'm vacuuming or walking up stairs while carrying something. Altogether very nice, and just the thing to be wearing while eating a popsicle on the back porch on a hot October afternoon.


My pattern review is on PatternReview.com here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Grow Pots Galore

I've dipped my toe into the world of vegetable gardening. Now that we live in pandemic times we've tried to limit our grocery shopping to once a week. This has been a big change, since we were used to stopping by the store once a day. We've been thrust into the world of meal planning and larder stocking.

The thing we miss the most from the before times is quick access to fresh vegetables. So I fired up the old raised bed that The Man and I built probably 15 years ago. We were doing quite well in the salad department until the gophers figured a way past our wire containment system. 



This is a sad little kale plant being sucked down into a gopher hole. They started out taking a plant or two every so often. Then their appetites seemed to ramp up and now they're polishing off more than we are.


So here's my answer: the fabric grow pot. 

I've sewn up two of them now, both sized broad but shallow. They're intended for lettuces and they seem to be working well. I baby them with water and fertilizer so I can fit a lot of lettuces into one bag. We get the cut-and-come-again types so we can harvest a side salad pretty much every day, once they find their legs.

They're super quick and easy to sew up. I used some cheap synthetic felt I got off Amazon. I've discovered you can also use weed blocking landscape fabric, which is cheap and easy to pick up at your hardware or garden store. The felt is kind of cheerful though.


But the felt is also a little stretchy, so I thought I'd try sewing something along the top edge to help the bag hold its shape. Twine might have been nice, only we didn't have any twine. So I cut a strip off an old curtain that I'd been saving in my toile stash. And since I was sewing the edging on anyway I figured, why not handles? 

I don't think my extra finishing details made much difference, to be honest. The improved version doesn't seem much squarer than my prototype, but the lettuces don't seem to care. 

My tip would be, don't get any fancier than you want to. It's basically a bag of dirt, after all.

But if you did want to get a little fancy, you could make some pretty cute felt pots for little succulents, or maybe herbs to give to a friend. Then it would make sense to do a neat top edging with some bright cotton scraps.

In the background is my prototype pot with some leggy lettuce. I harvested all this and planted a new crop right after taking these photos. 

These two grow bags will probably keep us in salads for a while, considering there are only two of us. In the meantime I'll figure out what to do with our raised bed. I'm thinking rebuild with galvanized steel and cement blocks. Take that, gophers!

My pattern review, such as it is, is on PatternReview.com here.