Sew – who has time to sew?

Sew – who has time to sew?

cutting roof felt is like sewing right?

Life has been a little too busy to sew for the last month or so. I was lucky enough to travel to Germany, Slovenia and Iceland for beer drinking, biking and backpacking so all I did during that time was think about the subject on those long uphills.

Now that I’m back and it is officially summer here it is back to those DIY home improvement projects. This time re roofing some storage sheds. I won’t know if we were successful until the rainy season starts again but it felt good to try something new.

Measuring and cutting felt and piecing together shingles felt like sewing. I was utilizing those same skills. Different muscles – same skills.

As a bonus I got to customize an old t shirt by slashing a v neck and tearing off the sleeves to turn it into something I thought a professional roofer might wear. What do you think?

What sorts of DIY projects do you enjoy?

Cutting mats

Last fall I went to the quilt show (even though I don’t quilt- quilting seems slower even than garment making) in Puyallup. I had been looking for a new sewing machine and knew there would be several styles there to test. I browsed all the booths and the exhibitors had more time to spend with me than they would at the big spring sewing show. This meant I had time to ask at the booth with the cutting mats whether people used them for garments as well. It was my assumption that they were used for quilting and intricate small cuts. As I learned they are used for garment cutting. The sales rep demonstrated and then allowed me to test. Very fun and no effort to cut with a rotary cutter on a mat. I bit the bullet and spent the $100 plus dollars to get a large mat, a mini travel mat, a ruler, a cutter and a healer.

I haven’t yet figured out how all the rulers connect with each other but I am loving cutting with my mat. It is designed to roll up so I can just stand it up without rolling behind my sewing cabinet. I put it on my sewing cutting table and I have a typical garment cut out in 5 minutes. Here is the company I purchased from. Big Mat

They even have some videos to review the use of the rulers although I would have benefited from having them more plainly labled and they end abruptly so I am not sure if I missed something.

I also have some wonderful Gingher shears that I bought when I was in sewing/patternmaking classes at Seattle Central Community College. I prefer the rotary cutter and mat. My wrists tend to hurt if I have been doing certain activities like bike riding and I can still cut without pain using the rotary.

Who would have guessed. Ask and you shall learn. What have you learned in the last couple months that you can share with us?

 

The bike bag

The bike bag

I have your typical bike bags (purchased for me by my husband) but I wanted something more- something with a little more style and that could be used on and off the bike, had a spot for maps and that didn’t require a trip to the fabric store.

I ended up with this.

The fabric came from some wool overcoats I bought at Goodwill a couple years ago. I was trying to felt wool by throwing it in a hot wash and dryer. A wool sweater felted very well but I haven’t yet done anything with it. The coats shrank and the fabric is not ravelly after the process. It was quite a time consuming process pulling the coat pieces apart.

Wool coat with pieces pulled apart

At the time I wasn’t sure what I would do with them but over the last few months I have decided to try bags. I made this red one from this stash.

Red bag from used wool coat

I loved the idea of using the coats button tab as my fastener because of both how it looked AND the fact that I hadn’t yet figured out the buttonholer on my machine.

As a side note in the future I will be looking at the Goodwill pound store outlet first because the actual coats were on the spendy side at $10 to $15 each.

This bag started out floppy and I wanted it stiffer because I believed that would result in a cuter bag both on and off the bike. I took an empty vinegar jug and cut out the end pieces in this stiff plastic. I then ended up also using vinyl as an inner liner with a thin blue decorative lining.. I am also hoping it will keep the inner contents a bit drier. Can’t wait to try it out. – not the wet part but the riding with it part.

What do you think? Would you use this bag? My husband’s answer was a resounding no but I bet he changes his mind when he sees it in action.

 

ASG Spring Fling

At first I hesitated. The “spring fling” was the day after we got back from a three week trip. Didn’t I need to stay home and catch up? Then I remembered – Catch up for what? I am on a 2 year leave of absence. I can schedule what feel like frivolous things back to back.

I also wasn’t a member of ASG – The American Sewing Guild. 

But a sewing meetup acquaintance had sent me a link to their spring fling and I was trying to learn more and meet new people to see what sorts of opportunities open up. So this wasn’t even really frivolous. I signed up and I am glad I did. I even became an ASG member and hope to attend some local meetings.

Even though I don’t look too happy about it (not sure why – probably tired) the day started off with me realizing this was the perfect place to wear my Michigan dress. And I was right. It was one of the best parts of the event to see what others made for themselves and wore. I even had a young woman (20’s) tell her mom she needed to figure out how to make one. Sewing can be a solitary hobby so it is wonderful to meet others and see what they are doing.

I am happier than I look

I was happy to discover coffee and a mix of healthy and tasty snacks to fuel us up for the day. The event had four speakers who were all well informed, poised and good at giving presentations.

The day began with a presentation where I learned about textile basics, how they are made and where to learn more.

Next up was a hilarious and reality based presentation about padding out a dressform to be your body double.

A former costume maker shared her  embellished wardrobe and brought some beautiful reference books on details. One was on sleeve details and I must say I NEVER imagined there could be so many variations on sleeves, their cuffs etc.

The final presentation was on Draping and  the speaker did an impressive job of thoroughly explaining the process as she draped a bodice with neck detail.

The event was fun. I learned a lot and I won one of the door prizes. What more could you ask for? Do you belong to any online or offline sewing groups? What do you enjoy most about them? How could they improve?

 

 

Focus

This post was started two hours ago and I am just now starting the first sentence. So not only am I having trouble figuring out what to focus on, I am having trouble focusing on what I choose. Since I started I decided to have lunch, manage my airbnb listing and put the laundry in. Now I am back and I promise myself to focus till I finish.

My original thought on focus was that I feel scattered in almost all areas. It is true I have created some priorities: Health through nutritious eating and exercise, learning and travel. It has become obvious to me that outside these priorities I am having trouble deciding what is most important and also how to integrate other interests into these main focuses. I want to do it all!

OR am I using my lack of focus as an excuse for lack of forward movement OR I am sabotaging myself so I don’t “succeed” – whatever that may mean to me OR I just need anxiety in my life.

I say that I want to learn and practice my sewing skills and share them through this blog and sewing meetups. In reality I am so busy traveling, trying to stay in shape and learning about how to share my skills that I am lucky if I find a day a week to sew. Plus now that I have free time I have not said no to many social opportunities.

Then there is the problem of what should I be making? There are so many things I want to try and then there is the looming reality of a trip coming up that involves hiking and biking. And wanting my slopers to be perfect before I use them to create new things for myself. I am back to some of my old habits that lead to less focus.

Spurred on by those distracting % off coupons from fabric stores I decided I needed to go out and get fabric to make a new hiking/biking skirt, two pair of outdoor pants that don’t look like outdoor pants and a couple t shirts that will dry quick and have pockets! And a bike bag to carry misc in on the trip.

My latest shiny objects

Here is my latest pile. 2 yards of fabric in each of 5 colors. Two meant for tops and 3 meant for skirts or pants appropriate for outdoor adventure travel.

I have limited time before the trip. Writing is helping me focus. I am going to make a hiking/biking skirt and a shirt with pockets and a small handlebar bag. Stay tuned. I already am getting unfocused by some more travel opportunities in my inbox.

How do you focus on priorities – or even decide what they are? If you are reading this blog is it helpful or another way to procrastinate?

Trippin and Travelin

Trippin and Travelin

I have been reading about the ten by ten challenge and packing and decided to try it for an rv trip to see our daughter graduate. The total trip time is fourteen days and my closet is ½ of a space the size of a couch cushion plus a drawer the size of a silverware drawer. In addition to traveling clothes I need something to jog in, hike in and bike in so I will be cheating on the 10 x 10 by not including these things nor all the various shoes needed to perform these activities. I am however doubling up on jackets for biking and hiking. Phew.

I chose 2 jackets (including my latest purple london cardi and reversible strip/knit combo, 2 bottoms, 1 dress (for the graduation), 2 pair of shoes and 3 short sleeve or sleeveless tops. I chose a combination of grey, blue and purple. My latest favorite jewelry combination is a pair of silver chain loop earrings, my looped circle silver necklace and a watch with a silver band and coral and turquoise. It all goes together well no matter which items I put on. Fortunately the mirror is small too.

Two for one jacket

A week in and so far so good. There is not a lot of variety day to day but getting dressed is quick and easy. Which is good because there is a lot of time behind the wheel and not much time to waste figuring out what to wear.

How do you deal with packing for trips?

Three jackets

Three jackets

This week I went through fabrics I bought last summer and have never gotten around to using. One of them was a reversible mid weight knit with a lovely smooth texture that is perfect for a jacket.  Since it is a reversible fabric I needed a simple pattern where I would not need to make too many seams. I briefly considered finishing my bodice sloper I started and then making a pattern from there but I am in the mood for a faster process than that right now. Instead I went through patterns I had and found a McCalls pattern that I had picked up at a thrift store.

McCalls 4093

I made the first version as directed to make sure I liked the style on me. I loved the color of this woven fabric I picked up at Goodwill. I had a button I had picked up maybe 25 years ago in Canada that is made from arbutus.  I added patch pockets on the outside and I am happy with the results. It is quite a roomy jacket so I need to make sure to wear it with slim fit bottoms or a pencil skirt.  This process helped me see and think about what I would need to do to make it out of reversible fabric.

To make the test garment I pulled a knit out of my stash (I love the color of it but it doesn’t love me) that had a similar stretch to my final fabric.

I took the extra step of tracing the size I wanted off the tissue paper pattern so I could use all the sizes available later if I wanted.

Tracing paper to trace the size I want

I chose a size down from the size I used in the woven because the knit would make it even roomier than the first jacket. This exercise stretched my brain as I tried to make it look good from both sides. I used a flat fell seam so it would look finished from both sides. This also required me to sew my seams as straight as I could to keep it all neat looking. The pockets were a puzzle. I felt patch pockets on both sides would be too bulky so I made a welt on one side that went through into the pocket on the other side. This knit was not thick enough to leave the edge unfinished so I added a narrow stand up collar at the neck and bound the front edge.  The finished product is a bit clunky but it helped me think out the steps to make the final jacket.

Testing Testing

The final product! I narrowed the welt and made it a little higher because the other one almost felt like I was dropping whatever I put in the patch pocket out through the welt on the other side.

I smoothed out any jagged cuts I had on the unfinished front edges and hems and left them as is. Added one of my favorite vintage buttons and I now have a reversible jacket in one of my basic colors that I look forward to wearing!

Have you tried creating a reversible garment lately?

Pack bag

We are planning a short hiking trip in Iceland which means I need to take my beloved Deuter backpack on an airplane. When my daughter took her brand new one away to Europe the first plane trip destroyed the bottom. With that in mind I have had it on my list to create a canvas bag for my pack. I had some leftover canvas type fabric I used for Roman shades in our last house. I had already taken a lot of it and turned it into laundry size bags I had intended to use for carrying plant waste between client offices (but came up with a much lighter option).  I took one of the bags and pushed the pack in.

bag with pack in it. It was too short.

I took another one of the bags and sewed it to the first one. Now the entire unit was too long.

Bags sewn together are too long

So I cut off about 15″ and cut a hole for a zipper. I had a long separating zipper (probably 26″) in my zipper stash that was a perfect fit.  I added two straps that I made by folding a 4″ rectangle in so the sides met in the middle and then folding it in half to either side of the zipper. The photo below shows me adding a reinforcement piece to attach the straps to.

Adding straps

I put the pack in the bag and discovered it was still a little too long so I added one more strap with D rings that could hold the excess fabric if it is needed. I was too lazy to fully load my pack and test the canvas bag so I wanted to keep a little extra room in case it is needed.

This was a fun project for me as it is the first large bag I have tried to make. It required that I think about the stresses and strains of air travel as well as trying to make it easier for a baggage handler to move my pack around. I look forward to testing it out and will let you know if my beloved Deuter survived.

Have you made a large bag yet? Please share!

Londi cardi

This is the drawing of the London Cardi pattern from Lori Anne patterns

As you may know I have been experimenting with making my own patterns. I have been stuck for a while trying to get the pants and bodice I drafted to be perfect (I know perfection isn’t always great). It has been draining. So I looked through my fabric stash and patterns the other day and found a winey purple knit that should be perfect with this london cardi pattern. I wanted to sew and not have to think.

Already I have skipped too many steps that I may regret later.

  1. I didn’t trace the pattern off. This means I can only use it for this size once. If it turns out fabulous I may regret this.
  2. I chose the size 16 because I couldn’t bear to go up to an 18. (ps this is the advantage to making my own patterns – I only have to think about measurements not the stigma of sizes – a ridiculous mental block on my part).
  3. I didn’t measure the pattern against my actual body nor even hold it up. I am sensing that it may be shorter than I would like – hopefully there aren’t other issues as well.

Time to go down and start sewing – face these fears.

Lori Anne designs her jackets with several pieces to put together and an easy pocket detail that I always love to sew.

The triangle on the left though took me a few extra minutes to put in place because I didn’t mark the notches (that I’m sure must have been there) before I cut out the pattern. I rotated it every which way until I finally got it lined up so the side front was the same length as the side back.

Tricky triangle on the left

The jacket did turn out much shorter than I envisioned from the pattern drawing and next time I will try to figure out how to make it longer without messing up the great lines at the bottom.

Finished jacket – shorter than I envisioned

But the back is a great length

In the end I got lucky with all the shortcuts I took. Are there any sewing shortcuts you have taken that you have regretted later?

Dad’s Shirt

You  may have gathered that I find myself more and more interested in re-creating and utilizing what is around me.  My husband recently quit working in an office and was purging his closet. He had a dress shirt that was a beautiful shade of orange and in spite of repeated wearings still had fabric in fabulous shape. My mother who loved to shop and buy Christmas presents had given it to him many years ago. I decided to try to turn it into a summer top for my daughter who is graduating from her Master’s program May 12.

When she was home at Thanksgiving I made her suffer through a duct tape wrap so I could make a dress form of her to utilize in trying to sew for someone besides myself. We used the instructions we found here at Offbeat bride. At one point the fume from the duct tape got to her and she over heated so I had to do some of it while she was laying down. It is a little off shape and quickly getting battered but I don’t think she is going to let me do it again. The first item I made was a peplum top that turned out to be too large. Hoping to alter that shirt when I see her next.

My first step was to pin my proposed seams on the shirt while it was on the form. I decided to make it sleeveless, leave the buttons and get rid of the collar.

Pinned seams

Next I did  a rough cut 1/2″ away from my pins (to create a 1/2″ seam allowance). I did this while it was still on the form.

Dad’s shirt with cuts made

I then took it off the form, refined the side seams and sewed it up. I cut facing for the armholes and neck from the sleeves. Here is the finished product. If she lets me and it looks good, I will share the completed project on her!

“Dad’s shirt” is complete

Last night I was catching up on my blog reading and found this post about how to turn Dad’s shirt into a dress for a much younger daughter. Super cute.

What have you done with Dad’s old shirt?