Spur-of-the-Moment Sewing

You know how sometimes you see a fabric and it just grabs you? That’s what happened to me with this.

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It’s a wide-stripe cotton seersucker I found at Hobby Lobby, and there was less than a yard left on the bolt. I’ve never seen a seersucker with such a wide stripe! It hurts my brain when I try to figure out how to weave it.

Like much of the world right now, I’ve been working from home a lot recently. One of the up sides of this is that if I decide to cut out a new shirt in the middle of the day I can do it on my lunch break. That’s totally normal behaviour, right?

I used a Dolman Sleeve shirt I currently own and love as a pattern template. The front and back are the exact same pattern piece except for the neckline. I used the full length and width of the fabric, and only have a few square inches of fabric leftover! For the construction I used a mixture of machine and hand sewing. The seams were done with the machine, and the finishing was done by hand. I do love a tidy felled seam!

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When the construction was done I tweaked the sleeves and neckline, then finished the edges with bias tape. The bias tape was sewn onto the right side of the garment by machine, then felled down on the inside by hand. The shirt hem didn’t need any finishing since it is the fabric selvage.

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Tadah! This was a super quick project! I made it over 3 days, working on it for odd minutes here and an hour there. It was a pleasant mixture of hand and machine sewing. The fabric is delightful – I love the colours and the texture. The only thing I’m not sure about is the boxy silhouette.

P.S. This is yet another make that pairs so nicely with my cream jean shorts. I swear they go with everything, and I wear them all the time! Wearing clothes I’ve made myself is the best!

Words to Think On

A few years ago I was introduced to the idea of selecting a word of the year instead of, or in concert with, new year’s resolutions. I like how this is rather less specific than, say, a resolution to lose 10 pounds or start exercising every day. It is harder to gauge progress using this method, but it is also harder to feel like a failure when you still weigh the same in December and stopped going to the gym in February.

In 2019 the word I chose for myself was Enough. I chose this word because it could mean a lot of things – good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, but also, rest because you’ve done enough. Reminding myself of these concepts helped me when I felt anxious about myself or like I was always behind or nothing I did was good. One afternoon I sat down and did a small embroidery of this word – something decorative to remind me of my goal. This embroidery should have been very simple by rights, but it turns out I don’t know when to stop. I thought about taking some of the colours out, but I decided that with all its imperfections, it was still good enough.

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This year, the word I chose was balance. I chose it before the Coronavirus pandemic took over the world, and while I didn’t have the pandemic in mind when I chose my word, I have found it to be very appropriate to what is going on. It’s hard to find balance when you’re not supposed to leave your house or see people. This word has been a reminder to me that even though right now I’m working at home, I don’t have to work all the time. And that getting some rest, or even relaxing and not working on a project, is part of the balance of life, too.

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How do you find balance in these strange times we live in?

 

Hexagons

I was introduced to English Paper Piecing a little while ago. For those of you who are not familiar with it, English Paper Piecing (EPP) is a quilting method that uses pre-cut pieces of paper as a template to make sure your fabric pieces are sewn together perfectly. It helps you avoid wonky edges and crooked lines.

When I first ran into it, I thought it sounded like a lot of fuss and bother, but it was rather pretty. I followed the hashtag on Instagram so I could see more beautiful pictures of this art form.

Friends, if your goal is to avoid starting a new project or hobby, following a related hashtag is not the way to keep yourself out of trouble. I resisted the lure of a new, shiny craft for quite a while, but I finally crumbled after my birthday.

I went to JoAnn’s and bought some fabric and some templates. I fussy-cut out a bunch of hexagons. I basted each bit of fabric around a template, and whip stitched them together. I was hooked.

What started as a quick project to see if I liked the craft has now become a plan for a full-blown quilt. Send help. And more templates.

Check that Box!

Hey Friends, February is almost over, but I have to show you one more thing I made before March hits us.

Will you just look at it? I am quite pleased with how it came out. Well, mostly….

The pattern is Very Easy Vogue V9151.v9151

According to my measurements (and my common sense) I made a size Medium. I don’t know why, but every time I measure myself for a commercial pattern the size I measure for ends up being quite a bit too big for me, so now I default to 1 size smaller. In this case I think I may have been able to go down another size. The fabric is a cotton/poly shirting I found at Hobby Lobby. I think it really makes the garment come alive.

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Since I was working with a check pattern I took extra care to line up the seams so everything flowed well together. In order to avoid a clunky look I cut the center front and upper back panels on the bias. Since cutting on the bias uses extra fabric I did have to piece the center front panel, but the check pattern does a fantastic job hiding the pieced bit. I have to feel for it to figure out where it is!

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I sewed most of the construction seams on my friend’s sewing machine, but the collar and the sleeves were sewn in by hand. I also finished all the seams and hems by hand, and I must say, I’m quite pleased with the low profile of the finishing work (even though it did take longer than serging or top stitching by machine)!

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The only change I made was to widen the hips a little bit. The pattern rather bizarrely tapered in toward the hips, and since I wanted to be able to actually wear the shirt, I cut the seam line straight down. Even so I wish there was a little more room in the hips or that there was a slit or a curved hem, or even that the shirt was a little shorter. It’s just not quite right. Also, the way the sleeves are set in cause the neck of the shirt to rise in front and fall in back – which is rather annoying, but just as well since the front slit is rather lower than I prefer to wear.

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All in all, it’s pretty good for a first draft, and it’s wearable and pretty. If I make this pattern again I think I’ll go down another size and possibly cut the front all as 1 piece. There’s really no reason to cut it as 3 pieces (other than visual interest). I’m also thinking about adding a little waist/hip/hem shaping, but that’s a discussion for another day. For now I leave you with my hand-finished seams. Enjoy.

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Make Do and Mend

Historically clothes were often remade. But somewhere along the way clothes became cheap and thus disposable and we stopped remaking them. Well, we also stopped making clothes (that’s a discussion for another day) and thus we lost the skills to make (or remake or mend) clothes.

The other day my husband ripped the elbow of his dress shirt. He has done this before and it always pains me to throw out an otherwise perfect shirt. This time I had an idea: why not use his shirt to make a shirt for me?

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I laid the shirt out, cut off the sleeves and up the side seams, laid my pattern out (I’m using the Wiksten tank), and cut out the pieces. I was in a bit of a conundrum about the bias binding until I remembered the perfectly good sleeves (well, one of them was perfectly good, and the other very nearly so). Using the sleeves as bias tape also reduced my waste. cut

I pinned and sewed and ironed and sewed some more, and here is what I came up with:

I made some modifications to the pattern because of what I had to work with:

  1. The shirt is a little less full at the bottom than the pattern (because my husband is a skinny man). It still fits very comfortably.
  2. The last time I made the Wiksten tank I really didn’t enjoy turning up the hem. Since I was working with a shirt that already had been hemmed I kept the existing hem (even though it was a little different in shape from the pattern).
  3. The neck is a little higher – partly because I feel more comfortable with a higher neck, partly because I wanted a button at the very top of the shirt.
  4. The neck and arm holes are simply sewn over with bias tape instead of being turned under.
  5. I moved the pocket to the right hip area (and it’s a man-sized pocket so it fits ALL THE THINGS).

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I feel so pretty and comfortable in this shirt! And I can wear it with jeans or coloured pants. And the pocket! Did I mention the pocket? I love pockets.

What would I do differently? Well, I somehow messed up the shoulder/back neck so it doesn’t hang well in the back. I need to raise the whole back panel. And I think I will end up putting in some bust darts because the arm holes are a little wide for my taste.

All in all I like it. Would I do it again? Maybe.

In Progress

My Fibonacci blanket is getting too big to cart around. Thusly, I have barely looked at it recently. This square is going to be done soon, though.

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My Crochet shawl continues apace. As a knitter this is surprisingly easy to work on and I am enchanted with the play of light and colour in these two yarns.

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My Pink Floyd socks are close to being finished. I have a few more inches left on the foot and then the toe and afterthought heel. I’m hoping to finish them this weekend.

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And here’s a sneak peek of a project I’m just about finished with! I can’t wait to tell you more about it next week! (Look, it has a pocket!!!)

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The Joy of Finishing

Ah, the joy of (finally) finishing something! Starting new things is always fun, but I tend to start lots of big projects and the middle always becomes a bit of a joyless slog (well, as joyless as crafting can be). I always forget how quickly sewing goes compared to knitting!

On Thursday I printed (and taped) the pattern for the Wiksten tank. Due to a problem with the printing size I had to do some math to make sure my shirt would fit. After mathing it was time to lay out fabric and cut. Scary! Eeek! Cutting was accomplished, I pinned, matched thread, and began sewing. The pattern is very clearly written with excellent photo instructions, and it has french seams. I adore french seams for the tidiness inside the garment. Thursday night I finished the basic construction of the garment.

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Friday and Saturday I worked on all the edges and bindings. I think the finishing actually took longer than the construction, though all in all the shirt took me about 6 hours – and that is hand sewing. This thing is seriously fast, people!

I love it. Go buy the pattern and make your own, because this one is mine and I’m not sharing. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go make 20 more.