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.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Petite Peg Legs

For most of my life I had no female children in my orbit. I have a son and three wonderful nephews. My local extended family has sons but no daughters. My closest friend with children has two boys; they feel like my nephews too. Yep, the kids in my life have pretty much been all male.

Then this year I went from zero to sixty in the girl baby department. I have a beautiful new granddaughter, there are two new granddaughters in my extended family and one of my best friends is about to become the grandmother of a female. At last I can knit and sew girl stuff! So, with the holidays coming up, I decided to pump out some Peg Legs.

This is the free Petite Peg Legs pattern from Patterns for Pirates. As they're baby-sized, there are only 4 pages to print out and tape together. One pattern piece, plus a waistband, and very good instructions. I made 5 pairs in about 2 hours, start to finish.

The pattern includes 6 sizes, from preemie to 12 months, and I made 3 of them.

The little roses are the 3 month size. they're for the girl baby who isn't quite born yet. Currently, her mother is tapping her watch and and telling her to please get on with it.

The pink cactus ones are the 6 month size, made from the leftovers of this dress. Cactus are kind of a thing for her big brother, so how could I not grab some pink cactus jersey for her when I saw it at Stone Mountain Daughter?

The little frogs are the 9 month size. The grandmother of this girl baby has a major thing for frogs. When I saw the fabric, I just had to.

The leggings were simple and streamlined to put together. By the 5th pair I was getting pretty darn good at it. There's no elastic in the waistband, which I really like. First, who likes to fiddle with elastic? And second, it seems like it will be more comfortable for a baby to wear.

Will these leggings fit an actual baby of any age whatsoever? Heck if I know; I don't have one available for a fitting. They look reasonable though, and reports on the pattern are good, so I'm feeling like I'm ahead of the game for holiday gift giving.

While I was snagging this pattern I also downloaded the free adult version. I doubt that a woman of my years should be wearing leggings in public, but if it's as user-friendly as this baby version I'd like to make a pair or two just for lounging in front of the fire on crisp winter evenings.

My pattern review is on here.

Thursday, November 29, 2018


Way back in March of 2015 I made a pair of sweat pants to wear in a martial arts class I was taking at the time. I've always thought of them as my Bagua Pants. I'm not doing the bagua class anymore, but I have worn the sweat pants quite a bit. So often, in fact, that they've gotten pretty beat up. I've been meaning to make another pair for a while now, so the last time I was poking around at Hart's I bought myself a couple hunks of jersey and I made two at once.

The pattern is Burdastyle 03/2014 #112 (Workout Pants). They're supposed to be drawstring pants, but I know by now that drawstrings don't work for me. I just used some 1/2 inch elastic instead.

They come up to my waist, even though they look lower in the picture above. That's partly because I have my hands in the (very nice) pockets and partly because I like my elastic loose.

Closeup of very nice pockets
Besides good pockets, these pants have an ankle cuff. The sweatpants of my youth had elastic at the ankles. As someone with sturdy, peasant ankles I always found that elastic kind of annoying. These cuffs are snug enough to keep out drafts but loose enough to be very comfortable. They're also just right to keep my pant leg pulled up out of bicycle-chain reach when I'm out for a bike ride.

I'm really ridiculously happy with these pants. The jersey is just substantial enough to make them ideal for a chilly morning. Considering how quick and easy they are to make, I have no idea why it took me so long.

I may be just fooling myself, but I think they're a little more presentable than your basic Mervyn's sweats. Not that I'd wear them out to dinner and a movie, though in Santa Cruz the dress code would certainly allow it. I think they're fine for gyming and grocery shopping, and for lounging around the house. Since I'm now retired, those happen to be my primary activities. Wardrobe sorted!

My original pattern review is on here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018


My friend, Janet, gifted me with a beautiful skein of Shalimar DK yarn in a color called Sea Glass. For some months I kept it stashed with my other single skeins of fingering weight yarn, periodically taking it out to pet and admire.

I just loved the color, but what to do with it? Socks were a possibility with that yardage, but I hated to hide that sea blue inside a pair of shoes.

Then, while trolling around Ravelry late one night, I fell into the rabbit hole which is westknits. That guy! He has more fun with color than practically anyone. And so many of his patterns are just perfect for mixing a bunch of lovely one-skein fingering weight yarns. Of which I have a pretty hefty collection, on account of I can't resist them.

His Daybreak pattern looked like a good bet for someone who is dipping a toe into playing with colors. You can go crazy, as have many of the 6986 knitters who have posted their Daybreaks on Ravelry. Or you can timidly use just two colors and see where it takes you. Like me.

I used a skein of Madeline Tosh Sock in the color Whiskey Barrel for my contrast. It's hard to see from the photos but this brown has flashes of blue winking in and out.

I thought I'd be able to knock out a size Large, but I didn't have quite enough of the Whiskey Barrel. But the size Medium is plenty big enough for me.

I'm new to shawl knitting. This one starts small at the back of the neck and grows exponentially as you knit your way out. Gee, those last rows seem to go on forever. Maybe a bit boring, but also soothing. This is a great project for social knitting, or TV watching.

I'm also new to shawl wearing. I think this is a nice shape and size. Those long corners keep the thing put when you drape them over your shoulders, and the fingering weight means the shawl is light enough to scrunch up at the collar of your jacket if you're wearing it out on a blustery day.

I might need to rest up a bit before I dive into another shawl, but it will be fun to review my sock yarn stash and play with some colors for another Daybreak. Or, if I'm brave enough, maybe a Rockefeller.

My Ravelry project notes are here.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Burdastyle Summer Jacket

I must be on a kimono sleeve kick. Or maybe these are really batwing sleeves, because they get narrower at the cuff? Anyway, there have been several patterns in my last few Burdastyle magazines that I mean to try, and this is the one I chose to do first. Burda describes it as a sweatshirt fabric jacket and that's just what it is.

I think it came out pretty well, though if we were having a "who wore it best" contest, the Burdastyle model would beat me by a furlong.

Here's the line drawing. It's pattern #119 in the the August, 2018 issue

This is one of the quickest, easiest patterns I've ever had the pleasure to sew. It's a 3-seams-and-you're-done kind of pattern. The edges are all finished by turning and stitching. Burda suggested a twin needle, but I used one of the decorative stitches on my machine. My Babylock has a billion decorative stitches that I almost never use, so when I see a chance to play around with them, I like to take it.

Side view
There are pleats in front and in back, which moves the shoulders close to Gloria Swanson territory. They give it a little more swagger than your garden variety sweatshirt.

Back view
You can see how batwing-ed those sleeves are from this back view. I have a small collection of light layers to pull on when I'm chilly in the house of an evening. OK, maybe it's a fairly large collection, but many of them have snugger sleeves. This baby is loose enough to fit pretty much anything as an underlayer, so I think it will have it's place in my winter evening wardrobe.

I used a cotton sweatshirt fabric with a snuggly inside layer. It feels light but toasty and I hope it will stand up to spaghetti sauce and frequent washing. If not, I won't feel too bad because I can zip up another one in no time flat. This is truly a quick and easy sew.

My pattern review is on here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Vintage Vogue

I cut into one of my vintage patterns. This is a Vogue American Designer pattern from 1987. The designer in question was Calvin Klein. I found this puppy in an antique/junk store in White Salmon, Washington while on vacation a few years ago.

Here's the pattern envelope. It's kind of cute that the little hand-written note on the front reads "Blue cotton blouse," and I actually went ahead and sewed it up in some blue cotton with woven dotted stripes. Other than the penciled note on the front, it looks like this pattern was never opened.

Here's the line drawing. I made view B, with the long, cut-on kimono sleeves and the standing collar.

I fiddled around with the cutting layout for quite a while. I had two yards of 45 inch cotton to play around with and those cut-on sleeves took up quite a lot of space. I got there in the end by shortening the sleeves about 2 inches. Luckily, my arms are about 2 inches shorter than Calvin designed for, so I'm good. If you look at that envelope photo there was definitely some slouchy sleeve action going on.

This is one of those old school patterns that just includes one size. That size was an 8, which expects me to have a 30.5 inch bust, a 23 inch waist and 32.5 inch hips. None of which I have had since I was myself 8. It looked like the pattern included a bunch of ease, though, so I forged ahead.

Side slits on view
I ended up adding some slits in the hem to keep the blouse from hanging up on my not-32.5 inch hips. Things still want to bunch up in back a bit anyway. Next time I'll add some extra around the bottom.

Back view
I was tempted to add some waist shaping to the center back and side seams. Otherwise this top is very much straight-up-and down. But for a first go, I'm happy enough with the fit as is.

Calvin finished the sleeves with a slit and facing. I'm supposed to have made a lovely thread loop, but I used a piece of elastic. I might lose the elastic and just tack the cuff together, since I can't see myself turning the cuffs back, but I'll test-wear the top a few times before I make any changes.

I love this cuff because it didn't require me to sew a sleeve placket. Sleeve plackets are my most problematic construction task.

Here's a parting photo with the collar raised around the neck, as it is on the pattern envelope. I'll probably wear the collar turned back to make a small shawl collar. Though I kind of like the standing collar too, now that I look at it. That might be the ticket if I make this up in something a bit more glam and drapey.

My pattern review is on here.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Brindille & Twig Onesie

My granddaughter's due date just got bumped 10 days closer, which means I might meet her in two days (gulp!). Still enough time to make a little something to take down south with me, right?

I fell hard for this pattern when I saw it in an email from Brindillle & Twig. That little skirt was just so cute! Guess I'm still all in on the girly sewing.

Brindille & Twig Bodysuit Dress
The Grandson's theme was cactus. I've made him cactus quilts and cactus hats and cactus shorts and cactus shirts. I've also knitted him a barrel cactus and a saguaro. I guess I went a little overboard. Maybe that's why the kids told me they don't really have a theme for Baby #2.

But it just so happened that I came across this cactus print knit in a pink colorway. And it also just so happened that I had used the same print in green to make the Grandson a shirt and a pair of sweatpants.

I just couldn't stop myself.

Skirt seam finishes to the outside, rather than against the kid's skin
I like Brindille & Twig patterns. The styles are cute but practical and they include finishing techniques that are quite nice. This pattern, for example, has you attach the skirt in such a way that the seam is on the outside, hidden away under the gathering, rather than inside against the baby's skin.

I also liked the way they tell you to apply the binding for the edges. It was pretty easy to do and came out nice and neat. The instructions were good, though I had to read through them a few times to grok some of the sewing origami.

The kids live in Southern California, so they have no need for warm clothes. No knitting of little hats or sweaters for me. They do put The Grandson in a lot of onesies, so I hope they'll get some use out of this little number.

This is a fun pattern with a pretty cute result. If you're not into the skirt action, you could easily leave it off and make a nice, basic onesie. Seems like a lot of my friends are graduating to Grandma these days, so I'm sure I'll be using this pattern again.

My pattern review is on here.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Shirtmaker's Express, Version 2.0

 Another birthday, another flannel shirt. The Man ended up wearing last year's model quite a bit. He uses it like a light jacket over a tee shirt. Just enough warmth for those chilly evenings when the fog comes in. I went through the details in this post, so I won't repeat myself here. Only just to say, this is a nice pattern for a fitted men's shirt. If you're worried about taking on a project like this, I highly recommend Janet Pray's Craftsy class, Sew Better, Sew Faster. She uses this pattern and walks you through everything.

Front view
One thing I learned about men's shirts from watching the class is that a guy does not like the wrong side of the fabric to look different from the right side. The wrong side will show when a guy leaves the collar unbuttoned, as most right thinking men do when they aren't wearing a tie. My first version of this shirt did use a flannel with a visually distinct wrong side.

Side view
I think The Man is happier with this fabric, which is the same on both sides. The downside is that I did have to pay some attention while sewing, so as not to put anything together backwards.

I used 4 yards of flannel that I got some time ago at Joann's. I did my best to match the plaid, so I used up every scrap.

Back view
Here's the back view. The pattern includes optional back darts to give a bit of shaping. I consider them mandatory, because The Man likes a slim fit.

Here's a close up of the pocket, which has been enlarged slightly to accommodate a Mont Blanc number 8 safety pen.

And here's how my guy likes to wear it; unbuttoned over a tee shirt with the cuffs turned up.

I'm thinking I have the annual birthday present sorted with this pattern. Next time, maybe a corduroy.

My pattern review is on here.