Wednesday, December 25, 2013

My Five Blessings as a Sewist

Gillian at Crafting a Crafting a Rainbow does a fun Top Five link-fest each year, where sewists share their hits, misses, reflections, inspirations and goals for the year. As a new blogger, I don't have enough photos of my hits and misses to share. I was laying in bed last night, though, counting my blessings, among them my blessings as a sewist. So, for what it's worth, here they are:

1) My standards are not very high
By this I don't mean I don't care. I do care. I enjoy putting a pattern, some fabric, and the sweat of my brow together to come up with something that I enjoy wearing. What I mean is: if that seam isn't quite straight, or there's a bit of pucker from easing in the sleeve - eh, big deal. It's still wearable. I still like the color or the feel of the fabric and it will keep me from getting arrested for indecent exposure. I end up liking most of the things I sew at least as much as I liked most of the things I bought, back in the days when I was a recreational shopper.

2) I live in a place where low standards are AOK
Santa Cruz is a central coast beach town which is home to a campus of the University of California. Between the students, the tourists, the retirees and the vagabonds of the road, this is a community that appreciates a wide range of attire. Board shorts and flip flops are considered appropriate dress for dinner out and a movie. No one is going to raise an eyebrow if I'm grocery shopping while wearing a shirt dress that looks like something Timmy's mother would have worn on Lassie Come Home. Here's an example of an outfit you might see downtown in Santa Cruz:

The Great Morgani - a fabulous sewist as well as a fabulous musician

3)  I live in the same city as Hart's Fabric
Cottons in hundreds of adorable prints: they've got 'em.  Two inch wide elastic: it's there, in two colors. Horsehair braid: multiple widths available. Organic knits? Raw silk? Lace? Voile? All at your fingertips. Along with some of the nicest sewing ladies around.

4) The Man is supportive of my sewing hobby
He's amazingly tolerant of my piles of fabric stacked about the house, clumps of threads hanging from the upholstery and the occasional pin where no pin should be. I don't have a dedicated sewing space, so I tend to spread out.

Even better, no matter how many times I try something on in progress and ask him what he thinks, he says something like, "Wow, Sweetie, that looks great! Nice color."

5) I'm retired, so I can spend as much time as I like on sewing
Well, technically I'm working two days a week. But I always tell people it's much nicer working two days a week and having five days off than it is working five days a week and having two days off. Much better for my sewing productivity too!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas in The City

The Man and I just got back from a lovely weekend in San Francisco. We went up to see The Nutcracker and to enjoy the city in all its holiday bustle and cheer. The big tree was set up under the rotunda in Nieman Marcus, and there were huge groups of people cooing at the puppies and kittens (courtesy of the SPCA) in the windows at Macy's.

Even the cable cars sported seasonal decorations.

Best of all, sewist + San Francicso = Britex!

It's so easy to get overwhelmed at Britex. I have a two-pronged strategy. First prong: I try to go in with a mission in mind so that I don't end up wandering about fondling fabric and then leaving with empty arms. This trip, I decided I wanted to get material to replace a few pairs of pants that had finally bit the big one.

Prong two of my Britex strategy: try to go on a weekday. We went on Friday afternoon, which meant that the place was not as mobbed as it can be on Saturday. I was able to collar one of the nicest fabric ladies ever, who advised me on suitable fabric for pants.

Two pairs of pants and a blouse to be.
My prizes: two lengths of twill. One is a nice blue-gray and the other is a kind of an olive-y green. I also got a yard of rayon challis to make some kind of blouse out of. I seem to buy from a pretty small color palette - mainly greens and blues, with the occasional brown or burgundy thrown in. I don't consciously plan it that way, it just seems to happen. Maybe it means I'll have an easier time coordinating my wardrobe?

While we were shopping around town we kept seeing groups of 20-something folks dressed as Santas. We started out spotting a couple here and a couple there. Then it was groups of 5 or 7. It was cute at first and then it started getting a little creepy. We finally asked someone what was up. Turns out there's an event called SantaCon, where people dress up like Santa and then cruise from bar to bar, sampling the holiday cheer.

Next year we'll have to remember to bring a hat!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Kirsten Tee Three Ways

I love the Kirsten Kimono Tee pattern from Maria Denmark. It's the perfect light layer to wear under a cardigan or jacket. You can sew one up in about an hour (or less if you're faster than me). It's almost sleeveless but not quite, so you can feel cool and stylish but keep your shoulders covered. It takes just one yard of knit fabric, leaving enough leftovers to cobble together a pair of undies if you're so inclined. The boat neck is flattering yet modest And did I mention it's free?

I had a little Kirsten sewing frenzy week before last. My friend Lisa and I had a fabulous birthday weekend at The Claremont in Berkeley. To further my diabolical plan to suck her into sewing, we stopped by Stone Mountain & Daughter and I made her advise me on Minoru fabric as well as some knits for Kirsten tees. And sure enough, she left with some knit for a Kirsten of her own.

It's interesting to sew the same pattern several times in a row. For one thing, I was getting pretty darn efficient by the time I got to Kirsten #3. For another, you can really see how different fabrics behave. The top Kirsten is in a heftier and not very stretchy fabric. Think of a men's tee. Kirsten #2 is in a lighter and stretchier knit, and Kirsten #3 below is in the lightest, drapiest knit of them all.

I'm trying to get better at picking the right fabric for the job, and knowing how to manage their properties when I work with them. I had to tweak the neckband length for these babies, based on my guess of how much bounce and recovery they'd have. I didn't do too bad, if I do say so myself.

Practice, practice, practice! And how nice to end up with three new wardrobe staples at the end of it all!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

My Minoru

I finished my Minoru jacket last week and I've been wearing it every day since. That's why it looks a little rumpled on Mini Me here.

Jaunty Mini Me
Pattern Description – from the pattern envelope

The Minoru Jacket is a zip-front weekend jacket with a secret hood hidden inside the wide collar! If you prefer, skip the hood and let the dramatic collar be the focus. Flattering raglan sleeves are comfortable and easy-to-sew, and the elastic waistline creates a slim, curve-hugging silhouette.
No need to choose between having a hood OR a cute collar. The hood is tucked away in the wide, roomy collar, ready for when you need it, but stays hidden when you don’t! The collar looks great done up or left open. The jacket is fully lined, with interior patch pockets to stash your cards and keys safely and out of sight.

Pattern Sizing
0-18. I cut a 10 at the bust, an 8 at the waist and a 0 at the hips. Tasia designs for a pear- shaped figure and I’m more of a brick. I find that if I cut according to Tasia's measurement chart, Sewaholic patterns work out just fine for me though.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes!
Were the instructions easy to follow?
I’m adding my voice to the many singing the praises of this Sewaholic pattern. I'm amazed that I was able to turn out something so comfortable that looks so nicely made. It's true what they say: the instructions are clear, the online sew along by Tasia is great and the FO is very satisfying.

Despite the wealth of information available to me, I managed to confuse myself about how to attach the collar to the jacket. I emailed Sewaholic and Caroline kindly answered right back and set me straight. Try that with Vogue or Butterick!
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

The elastic band in the back, besides giving you a bit of shape, keeps everything sungged up and warm as toast. We’ve been having an unusual cold snap here on the Central Coast – down to 28 degrees last Wednesday. If I tuck a scarf or cowl around my neck and zip up that roomy collar I’m good to go. Can’t think of any dislikes!
From the back, with the collar flipped up.
Inside pocket at work - there's one on the other side too.
Fabric Used
I used a blue-grey twill and lined it with flannel. I got the fabric at Stone Mountain and Daughter, and the color advice from my friend Lisa. I needed a fabric that would repel dog hair, or at least not invite it to come on in and set a spell. We have an 80 pound Great Pyrenees who has a coat like a cross between a polar bear and an angora rabbit. And she sheds like there’s no tomorrow. The twill gets a little fuzzy, but I can more or less brush things off and look presentable.
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
80 percent of my outings these days are dog walks. What with cell phone, keys, dog treats, sunglasses, flashlight (or the poop-a-scope as my friend Kent calls it), and other necessities, I need pockets and I need a lot of them. I included the two inside pockets as designed by Tasia. And I added side seam pockets because I’m loaded down like a pack mule when I go out. It was an easy thing to do, thanks to the tutorial that Amy kindly posted over at Sew Well.
I’d highly recommend Minoru to others and I’m thinking about a version with a hood. Maybe in something water repellant?
Minoru in the wild

Monday, December 9, 2013

La Fred sans Sleeves

Garment post #2!

This is the La Fred Europa blouse without sleeves. Mini Me doesn't have arms, so it doesn't look quite the same on her, but you get the idea. This is not exactly seasonal sewing, but here on the Central Coast it can get up into the 70s in December, so who knows, I could be sporting this little number soon. It's cute and comfy with a skirt or jeans, and it has an all-in-one neck and arm facing so there is no flipping out. Gotta love that!

It's made from a cotton that I got a Stone Mountain and Daughter in Berkeley several years ago. It's chocolate brown with a little tone-on-tone circle pattern. I think it was Japanese. It has a feel that's almost like a light bark cloth. Above is my attempt at a closeup...

If you notice a few new widgets around the blog it's because I had a meeting with my web design consultant yesterday. A friend once told me that if you're hiring technical help, under no circumstances consider anyone over the age of 15. My guy, Aaron, is 12. I'm hoping I can keep him for at least another year, or until he gets tired of working for cupcakes.

Friday, December 6, 2013

La Fred

Well, well! My first garment post! This is a blouse I made a few weeks ago from a La Fred pattern. I really like the square neck. I got this fabric at a very cute fabric store in Haley, Idaho while on vacation with The Man. I love the the colors, but I admit it does feel a little clown-like when I'm wearing it. I find I'm often attracted to fabric that's Bad For Me, pattern-wise.

It's cotton and feels nice and substantial, and quite soft on the skin.

I love getting fabric or patterns while on vacation. I remember the trip while I'm sewing the garment, and then every time I wear it.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hello world!

Here's my first post. Let's see if I can come up with enough content to keep this thing going!

I've recently begun sewing again after a 20 year hiatus and as part of that adventure I've discovered the wonderful world of sewing blogs. There is a gold mine of information out there, people!

Sewing can be a lonely hobby. Unless you're an accomplished hand sewer, you're tethered to your machine. Plus you need your iron and ironing board, scissors, thread, ham, and all the other doodads that make for a successful FO.

I'm lucky enough to have a friend nearby who also likes to sew, so I'm not as lonesome as I might be, but I'd like to broaden my circle of people who might actually like to talk about sewing.