First jam!

The before ingredients.

The bounty at the farm down the street isn’t quite ready yet, but luckily Whole Foods had a special on strawberries that I couldn’t resist.  Strawberries, rhubarb (and maybe some Pliny the Elder) jumped into my basket so I had to come home and make a jar of jam.  As usual, one pound of fruit, lowish sugar (scant 1/2c) and no added pectin (except for juice and rind of one lemon) makes one yummy jam.  This strawberry rhubarb is my favorite since it’s nice and tangy.  I may have to make some bread to complement the jam.  Whole Foods seems to have made a lot of work for me!

Hopefully I’ll have a ridiculous franken-patterned dress to share soon.  I should clarify, the dress isn’t ridiculous but the fabric is a novelty print that I couldn’t resist.  Barring any boo boos, it should be done soon.

The delicious after.

ABCs of A-lines

I am wearing my super cute sewing glasses so I can’t see a damn thing unless it’s 12″ in front of me. Srsly.

It’s a black, A-line skirt with pockets.  As exciting as say, a ballgown?  Nah, but this will get more wear.

I’ve made a version of Sewaholic’s Hollyburn skirt, this one in a tropical weight wool.  I changed the pattern a wee bit to suit my prejudices.  I don’t like waistbands, but rather like a teenage boy, want my garments hanging off my waist.  I shall not subject the world to knee knockin’, boxer short showin’ but I still don’t like a waistband.  Ok, back on track, I left off the waistband and drafted a facing.  I also added a lining since this wool is quite light (and see through) and split the pocket piece so the pocket facing could be made from a lighter fabric (lining in this case).

The zipper is one I purchased in NYC the other day and went in like a dream.  The zipper tape on this zip is much lighter than the zips from Joann (Coats and Clark) so the zipper is truly invisible.  It also helps that this spongy fabric hides stitches like an 8 year old hides her Halloween candy from her siblings.

This is actually an easy sewing project, despite it taking me weeks to finish.  The downside of only sewing for a few minutes at a time whenever you can find a moment, is that thing take an age.  That doesn’t mean I don’t have my eye on a dress pattern for my next project, which will be dependent upon finding a stashed fabric that will work.  Stashbusting in progess!

Pattern Review here.

The inside story: facing with lining attached at center back.

Well that’s a first

How close are your garters?

Something odd happened with the creation of my latest sweater.  My gauge is too small.  That never happens to me since I’m the loosest knitter west of the Mississippi.

I knit a swatch with the called for needle size (usually I go down one or two needle sizes) and it seemed fine, but as we know – SWATCHES LIE.  I cast on with the called for needles and begin knitting secure in my gauge swatch knowledge.  As I’m knitting a little puff of a doubt creeps into my head with its manta “it’s too small…it’s too small”.  So I look at the pictures of the finished garment and indeed my garter ridges are rather closer together than the pattern illustration.  I count my row gauge and it’s too tight.  SWATCHES LIE!

So I shall rip this little bit and begin with a needle TWO sizes bigger and see what happens.  Is Mercury in retrograde again, because that shit messed me up last time too?

And just because I like the picture, here are the blossom drifts I like to think of as snow in my neighborhood.

Pink blossom snow!

What I didn’t buy

When you see the button sculpture you know you’re in the right place! Love that!

I was good.  Very good.  I was sent to NYC (for work) on Monday on my reserve days for an overnight.  Without boring you too much, 3 days a month I’m “on call” and the notice to go can be minimal (two hours).  So I was sent to NYC and had a long enough layover that we stay in town (rather than the airport hotels for short nights – which is much more usual!).

When faced with a bit of time in NY I like to go down to the garment district and buy fabric.  Who wouldn’t?  But this past week I’ve been reorganizing my fabric stash and ended up donating a great many bits and pieces I’d never realistically use.  In the face of that, buying more fabric that didn’t have a specific project in mind was a bad idea, not to mention a waste of money.

Going forward I’d like to keep the stash of fabric and yarn to a minimum because I find that when I buy fabric/yarn with no specific pattern or use, it ends up languishing in the big plastic bins in the garage.  If I buy a fabric with a pattern in mind, it gets used.  So it only makes sense to buy fabric when I’ve selected a pattern I’d like to make up.  Get me, how mature am I?!

Since my next project will probably be a Hollyburn skirt in some wool crepe that I’ve preshrunk using this method, I ended up buying 14 zippers.  That may seem like a bunch but they’re much cheaper and better quality than the C&C crap at Joann’s.  So 14 invisible zippers of various sizes was my haul!  Not too sexy or exciting, but I did paw the gorgeous Liberty cotton lawn prints at B&J Fabrics before deciding that I wasn’t ready to pull that particular trigger.  Plus I love all the prints and choosing would have been agonizing.  Plus-plus it’s $37/yard so it’s good to be sure.  I shall certainly buy some Liberty as my shirt skills have come along nicely, but in time.

So I shall sew from the stash for a few more projects and the warm, sunny weather is putting me in the mood for cotton dresses.  Luckily I’ve got fabric for that.  Quite a bit.  Now to find a pattern and time!

Springing forward one skirt at a time

Flowers in the garden.

In an effort to spring-ify my life out of the winter doldrums, I thought I’d begin at the sewing machine.  I’ve got to clean out the house to make room for a visitor who will be staying for months, and that motivated me to look to the stash when project pondering.

I’d bought rather too much fabric in New York a few months ago, all with no master plan.  Much of it turned out to be floral and two pieces are border prints and one is a borderline border print.  Confession time:  I’ve never worked with border prints before and kind of had to go with my best judgement regarding pattern placement.

Burda 7652:  It’s out of print, so here’s the line drawing.

Lack of knowledge aside, I wanted to use some very vintage looking cotton floral border print from B&J Fabrics (which is an amazing store btw).  My thought was some pleats and A-line.  A fully pleated cotton skirt on the cross grain wouldn’t be the most flattering so I found Burda 7652 (out of print so there’s the line drawing for your edification) marinating in my stash.  It’s an A-line skirt silhouette with sewn down front pleats, plain A-line back and a yoke.  That yoke and sewn pleat look should minimize the damage I’ve caused my tummy from the latest batch of Lemon Yogurt Cake with icing, which makes for a tasty breakfast (and lunch and linner).

Can you see the flowers peeking out at the waistband?

Fabric-wise I didn’t have enough fabric to make the front faux sewn placket (which is kind of weird anyway since it’s not functional if you sew it up their way) so I folded the pattern at the center front and just placed that on the fold and pretended like it was supposed to be that way.  That worked fine.  I also had to turn the back pattern pieces off grain to make the florals be at the same level at the side seams.  That made the side and center back seams off grain and more unstable (read wobbly).

The top of the yoke has a few flowers peeking out, but the print made it impossible to get the yoke plain black.  It looks kind of cute so I’ll pretend I meant for it to be that way.  A jaunty hint of flowers peeking out!

Other than remove the faux front placket, I made the skirt as written.  The pattern is excellent, as one would expect of a Burda pattern.  There is no excessive ease to account for so you can just measure yourself and make the right size with a minimum of fuss.   I stabilized the top of yoke and pocket openings with stay tape (via Sandra Betzina’s tips).  I used plain black voile for the pocket lining and yoke facings and HAND SEWED it to the yoke.  Turns out that Pam Howard’s “The Classic Tailored Shirt” has converted me to a bit of hand sewing.  That and getting “sewing glasses” from the eye doctor.  My insurance pays for glasses every other year but I didn’t need new ones (for driving) this year so I asked about close sewing work and the awesome doc said “no problem”.  So I’ve got sewing glasses that work just great for close work, but make me queasy when looking at anything else.  Well, there you go.

So spring is here in my skirt, a riot of flowers that I can only imagine in a garden since we have no water to grow such things.  Isn’t it ironic that most of you are buried under mounds of snow and we have water restrictions?  If only we could balance that a bit.  Next up I’ve planned another skirt, and to be different it’s black and A-line.  Hey, I know what I like and wear!  Plus I’ve got to use up some stash before April!

Pleat detail.

The peacocks have arrived

More peacocks are needed here.

After little 15 minute bursts of sewing, I’ve finally finished the peacock edition of Granville shirt by Sewaholic.  I’d rather stalled on any kind of crafty activity but managed to talk myself into little bursts of sewing to move Granville along.

My lack of crafty energy has nothing to do with the pattern or my liking of the shirt, but winter doldrums exist even when you don’t have winter.  I guess.  I do know that little bits of sewing every so often managed to get this shirt done and my crafty thoughts whirring.

What you see here is Granville constructed by the techniques from Craftsy’s “The Classic Tailored Shirt” class.  I made this shirt following Pam Howard’s instructions and success!  Pam can calmly talk you through anything and should probably be a UN negotiator based on teaching the collar and stand lesson.  Seriously not hard folks.

Best view of peacock mutations brought about by shoddy pattern placement.

The Granville pattern fit me well out of the box with the exception of the sleeve length.  I have long monkey arms, I know that from all I learned in pattern making classes using standard measurements.  I usually add at least 1″ to long sleeve patterns to compensate for the previously mentioned monkey-like tendencies.  Not so here.  These sleeves are seriously too long and it did not occur to me to check that.  So Granvillians beware, measure those arms and adjust.

Yes, those sleeves are rather too long. Will have to roll them up on this go round – must remember to alter the pattern.

Other than too long sleeves, this shirt was easy and fit well.  I only changed the cuff pattern because I think I messed up the tower sleeve placket insertion and the pattern cuffs were too big.  Those instructions were meager and Pam doesn’t cover that in her class.  Next time I’m doing it Pam’s way and skipping the tower placket.  The fit in body and across the shoulders is good and I shall use Granville as a jumping off shirt point for future makes.

All in all a good pattern, a great class and more peacocks would have been better.

Sprung forward

You know these are my absolute favorite! Cherry blossoms are soooo early this year. Thanks drought!

Well there’s not much craftiness here.  What there is here is spring.  Massively, obviously SPRING.  Now I know just about everywhere else this is not the case.  Most places I travel, people are trying to hang in there for spring.  So for your pleasure, here spring at my house.

The first tulips of Tulipwatch 2015!

The only crafty bits around here are my sadly neglected peacock shirt parts.  I did sew the back together and managed to cut the peacocks in such a way that they look like mutant Chernobyl peacocks that just happen to be conjoined twins.  Oh well, keep on moving.

Conjoined, mutant peacock twins anyone?

Stay warm friends!

Is that a peacock in your pocket?

Just hanging out with the peacocks.

I thought I’d try Sewaholic’s new pattern, Granville Shirt which is a fitted button front collared shirt.  I rooted around the stash and came up with some beautiful cotton fabric that is rather oddly printed with peacocks. The peacocks are cute but I really don’t remember buying it, or even why I bought 3 yards of it, but there it was begging to used to test out a new pattern.

I was a little careful to place the pattern pieces so that I didn’t end up with a peacock on each boob.  They’re rib level, so that should be fine.  In order not to take forever in sewing this up, I am trying to make a point to sew a little bit every day I’m home.

So today, I took my fifteen minutes and sewed on the pocket.  I made sure I matched the pattern and watched Pam Howard’s “The Classic Tailored Shirt” lesson on pocket sewing while doing it.  Not bad right?  It’s relatively unobtrusive.  The eye just goes to that darn peacock doesn’t it?  But why three yards?

Thirty day shirt

Yay! It’s finally done!  Too bad I’m having an awkward hair-growing-out day.  Life.

No, it really shouldn’t take very long to make this shirt but I managed to make this project last over a month.  That was mostly due to not working on it, so my bad.

This shirt is Bruyere from Deer & Doe Patterns.  It’s essentially a convertible collared shirt with cuffs and waist yoke band.  I bought my pattern copy from Stonemountain and Daughter in Berkeley (California) but I’ve also purchased patterns from their website in France and they come remarkably quickly through that route also.  The fabric is a very high quality cotton lawn purchased from Stonemountain’s half price section so it was perfect to test out a new pattern with.

Since I’d no idea how this blouse would fit out of the box I opted to just make my size (according to the measurement chart) and see what happened.  Turns out it fits just great with no alterations.  The bust darts are in the right place, I can close it over the boobs, the sleeves are long enough and it goes over my butt.  Yay.I wanted to use the shirtmaking techniques I’d learned in Pam Howard’s “The Classic Tailored Shirt” Craftsy class (which is freaking awesome for those interested in such things).  I flat felled all the seams and tried to sew it up in a similar order to her class technique, but this shirt is not the same animal so I had to stop and think about procedure every now and then.  I may make a few changes on the next version, but that’s going to require a bit of thought.  There are a few more sewing details that I’ll put in my PatternReview for those not as into sewing shirts as I am at the moment.So I made a completely wearable muslin test of a new pattern.  I’d like to make another in dark or dotted chambray, but I fear if I then wear it with jeans I’ll be wearing that old Canadian tuxedo look that I’d find hard to pull off.

So stay tuned for more shirtmaking – as least that’s the plan for today.

Did you know…

(R) Doo-dad from my sewing machine foot box that tightens screws with the black pointy end. (L) Sewing machine bulb that is kaput.

My mind has been blown by something small that I’m sure you all will be like “no shit”.  I had no idea.  Seriously.

Did you know that the grey handle of that doo-dad shoves onto the blown sewing machine light bulb so you can unscrew it?  I had to g**gle “how to change a Bernina bulb” to find out that this tool has two uses.

Now what will take longer is to wait for my bulbs to arrive from their ebay seller, since my local shop is an hour away.

This also prompted me to pull out the machine’s manual and I saw that I had TWO bulbs (which have been burned out for yonks btw).  I got to use my tool twice today (how’s that for mad search hits for a light bulb post?).

I’m sewing and knitting so perhaps I’ll soon have something interesting to share, other than light bulb moments.

Tool with bulb insitu.