Saturday, February 27, 2021

Grainline Tamarack: What the World Needs Now


Hello! Hope that wherever you are, you're doing very, very well. It's hard not to feel cautiously optimistic these days with the vaccine becoming more readily available and spring on its way here in the Northern Hemisphere.  

I'm super excited to finally get to blog my brand spanking new project: the sewing world-famous Tamarack Jacket by Grainline Studio. How did Jen of Grainline know way back in 2017 that the world would need to wrap itself in a quilt right now? 

I actually don't sew a lot of Grainline patterns, mainly because they're drafted for B-cup, but I've always liked the aesthetic. And now that they've extended their sizing, I just may have to give the  Scout Tee a try. I love basics, and it looks infinitely hackable. Also, the extended pattern is offered in PAPER! Being relegated to PDF-only in the larger sizes is one of my pet peeves. 

Okay, so about this jacket...where do I start? I think I started working on it a little over a month ago. It doesn't take nearly that long to make, but I was still figuring out what exactly I wanted to do for the quilting, color scheme, and gathering scraps. I took my time, working on Saturday and Sunday evenings while working on pottery projects during the day.  I made two purchases after Christmas that inadvertently helped me figure out my jacket gameplan: 501 Rotary-Cut Quilt Blocks, by Judy Hopkins, and a 12.5 square quilting ruler.  The book has measurements for each block in 6 different sizes. The possibilities! The ruler just makes it easier and faster to cut multiple squares rather than the cardboard templates I'm used to making. I went for a classic Sawtooth Star in the 12-inch size. Once I had figured out the colors for my star, everything else started to fall into place. 

Okay, onto fabric: I shopped my stash and used some of the lovely black linen I bought from Elisabeth Suzann last year. The inside is pieced out of the same blue scraps I used for my star, as well as some black linen scraps. For the sleeves, I used a black and white, geometric-patterned silk (pictured below) that was smooth enough to slide my arms into easily. I also like that the triangles reminded me of quilting motifs. 

Speaking of quilting motifs, one of my favorite details is something I don't think many people will notice. I incorporated 6-inch sawtooth stars in the patch pockets. I made them all black, though, because I wanted it to be a subtle way to repeat the star on the back. It's also a great way to use up some of the smaller, odd-size scraps. I'm additionally glad that I kept it subtle because piecing small scraps of linen is a pain, and they're not my best work. But, hey, they're still cute!

As far as the pattern goes it is top-notch, and I benefited from four years of it being a popular pattern and took advice from many sewing bloggers. For example, I opted out of welt pockets as that was a common caveat.  I ended up really liking my oversized patch pockets much better. They are deep and comfy, and I don't have pocket bags flapping around on the inside.  I also strayed from the directions in that I quilted blocks of fabric and then cut my pattern pieces from the blocks. The instructions have you quilt the individual pieces but I'm not good enough at quilting to maintain accuracy that way. I ended up having to unpick some of the quilted scraps to piece together my pockets and reduced fabric waste that way.  

And here's an "action shot" of me loving life in my Tamarack. It's great to wear for a walk after work. The large pockets make it unnecessary to carry a purse, and it's warm enough when the wind picks up and the sun begins to set. Now I just need a dog for the perfect after-work walk. I would keep my jacket by the door, next to a leash and poop bags, and be ready to go. Sigh, now I'm wishing I had a dog. 

Here are a few more sizing details and notes.

  • Size 18, Version B which includes an overlapping placket for buttons or snaps, although I didn't add any closures. 
  • No FBA and no muslin. I was really rolling the dice there. I looked at SewManju's version for sizing and sewed a straight size 18 but added 1/2 inch to the sides of the front and back and to the sleeve sides.
  • As usual, I shortened the sleeves by an inch. I have them rolled up for my pictures, but that's just because I like the look of the contrasting cuffs. 
  • I shortened the back to be the same as the front. Overall, I like the sizing. It's roomy enough for outerwear, but it doesn't swim on me. The only thing I would change if I ever made a second version is to do a narrow shoulder adjustment. The shoulders are just a teensy bit too wide. 
  • The pattern calls for several yards of bias tape which you can make yourself. I enjoy making bias tape for smaller projects but five yards--aw, hell no! Black is easy enough to match and the stiffness of store-bought tape isn't such an issue for a structured jacket. 
  • ETA: I forgot to mention that I changed the angle of the neckline to be more of V shape. I thought that would be more flattering for my curvy frame. To do this, I simply folded down the corner of the neckline on the front pattern piece. 
So I think I've said everything I can think of about my new jacket. If you can't tell by my review, I really love it. It's cozy but not sloppy, with some nice customization that makes it feels special.

Thanks for reading! Be well. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Suki Robe: Mrs. Roper's Technicolor Dreamcoat


Hello! Feels like forever since I last blogged. Hope all is well in your world right now.  

Glad I'm finally getting around to documenting my Suki robe, by Helen's Closet, because I'm particularly proud of it. Also, isn't loungewear perfect for the current state of the world? Not only because we're all staying home all the time, but also because wearing a lovely robe feels like an act of self-care--like giving yourself a facial or lighting candles. 

I love an opportunity to combine fabrics, but it can be tricky to pair the right ones. You have to consider color, obviously, but also substrate, weight, and proportion. I've had some disappointing results, but THIS I truly love. And since it's a robe, how fortunate that I get to wear it every day!

Let's talk about the fabric first: The multi-colored fabric is a very fine quality linen from Britex, and the striped fabric is a lovely linen gauze from Britex. Finally, the black waist tie, neck, and sleeve bands are the last of my linen/cotton crinkled fabric leftover from a pair of Emersons I made for a 2018 vacation in France. I bought the fancy linen around five years ago, and I think it's still one of the priciest pieces of fabric I've bought--maybe around fifty dollars a yard, I can't remember exactly. Usual story: I had a gift certificate and it just jumped out at me. How could it not? It's got a bazillion colors! But since it was so pricey, I only bought a yard, which doesn't yield a whole lot of options. I'm glad that I waited and didn't make a simple short-sleeve top like the Seamwork Bo or CCP Pietra because then it would have been just everyday clothes, not special. The striped linen is like its soul mate; they go so well together with the stripes operating like a neutral to combat all the stylized floral, patterned craziness, the Mrs. Roper caftan look. 

Okay, now can we talk more about mixing prints? I was nervous about cutting into my fancy linen and then getting it terribly wrong, so I opted to keep it simple. I also looked at sewists who do a lot of patchwork like this amazing designer @aluma_handmade and tried to analyze what I thought was effective. Finally, since I love sketching project ideas with Procreate, I traced over the illustration from the pattern packet to see where I wanted the prints to fall. 

Because I had had some large pieces of both prints, I didn't break up the pattern pieces too much. I knew I wanted the bodice fabric/pattern to stay intact and extend past my waist to my low hip--kind of like a vintage bathing suit. I also knew I wanted to extend the bodice pattern past the shoulder to the top part of the sleeves, which was easy enough. Just fold back to where you want and add the 1/2 inch seam allowance. I thought this would lend more of an elegant sweep to the sleeve. The pattern is so crazy, I never worried about pattern matching. I just tried to avoid "flower boob" in my placement, which you can see a bit of but thankfully only on one side. 

Okay, here are just a few more details, and then I promise to stop gushing about my robe. :)
  • Size: the largest, I think XXL. I did not have the resized/curvy version. I don't know if that's available to folks who purchased before the update, but I don't have access to printing out patterns now that I'm WFH anyway. I made up version B--AKA, the shorter version--but it ended up a wee bit longer because I added a section. So now it's more like version A. 
  • Fit: While there is full coverage, it's not a super voluminous robe. Of course, the fit might have been different had I sewn up the curvy reboot. 
  • This robe has lots of nice, practical details like the hanging loop, the inner tie for modesty, and the waist ties stitched into the back. Speaking of waist ties, I did lengthen them by a whopping 8 inches both for the look of a long tie and because I'm thick waisted. 
  • Every single join is french seamed. Even the inline pockets! I used this tutorial from the Foldline.
  • I preferred the look of the collar extended to the bottom instead of squaring off. There's a tutorial on Helen's website for this. 
  • Linen is really just the most magical fabric. I'm used to thick terry robes, so I was worried this wouldn't hold up getting out of the shower, but it's plenty absorbent. And, bonus, unlike my terry robe, I can fit this in my suitcase...whenever I can take an actual trip somewhere...
So that's all I can think of to say about my Suki robe. So glad I finally got around to making this fun pattern and sewing up this pretty fabric. 

Finally, since I never got around to posting my Top/Bottom Five, 2020 being what it was, I chose my Top Nine on Instagram. Here, in no particular order, are my favorite 2020 makes. 

Quilted Pillow cover for my bed; a linen Wiksten; an improv quilt top; pottery apron from old jeans; a brown linen Zadie jumpsuit; pinched ceramic dishes; a wall quilt to remind me of Lake Tahoe, one of my favorite places in the world; some hand-formed ceramic vases; my favorite hand formed bowl (AKA, my popcorn bowl)

Here's another pic of my Tahoe quilt that shows the whole thing. It's made entirely of scraps from my garment sewing projects, including a knit (albeit a very stable one) for the night sky. I'm definitely committed to more scrappy projects like this for 2021.

Well, like so many, I'm pretty happy to see the back end of 2020. Here's hoping that 2021 will bring us all much-needed healing and hope. Take care and stay healthy, fellow makers!

Monday, November 23, 2020

A Little Sewing but Mostly Pottery


Hello! Hope all is well in your world. As my blog title indicates, I've been doing lots of making but not so much sewing. I'll run through the sewing part first. 

Except for a few pairs of underwear, this is pretty much it. Notice a theme here? Working from home, there just isn't much point to dressing up or making new clothes.  All I ever wear is sweats anyway, and I've even been known to work in my pjs occasionally. As a result, those are the only clothes that are wearing out. The oven mitts were a thank you gift for a friend who helped me set up my ceramic studio. 

Here's a quick rundown (clockwise from top):

  1. First, we have the perennial favorite Bombazine Mitts. If you've never made these before, I recommend heading straight over to the Bombazine site and downloading this FREE pattern. It's such a great scrapbuster and opportunity to practice quilting. I love giving these as hostess gifts. Remember dinner parties? We're always thrashing our mitts around here, so I'm going to try to squeeze in another pair for myself before the major Thanksgiving cooking this week. 
  2. After six years, I finally made another pair of Hudson Pants by True Bias. I had to dig way back into the Duckndam archives to find my sewing notes. Basically, if you're short like me (5'2"), primarily in the legs, be prepared to wack off some length. I shortened the leg by 4.5 inches. Fabric is a WONDERFUL french terry from Stonemountain Fabrics. 
  3. Yet another pair of Carolyn PJs by Closet Core Patterns. Another SBC favorite. This is my 3rd set, and I always forget how involved this project is. The best tip ever: Someone on instagram said they made the top first to get the labor-intensive part out to the way. Why did I never think of that?  Here are my original sewing notes.  Adjustments are the same. The only difference is that I made my bias tape (not piping) from scraps instead of using store-bought and avoided the buttonholes entirely by sewing the buttons through since the top just slips over my head. Fabric is a swiss dot from Fabric Outlet that was already in my stash. 
  4. An improv quilted pillow top from lots of linen scraps. I really do love improv quilting, mostly because I hate any kind of math. It's just a simple envelope pillow cover. And even after making this pillow and my mitts, I STILL have a few bits of linen left. Crazy.
So that's my sewing for the past few months in a nutshell. Like I said, no place to go and no need for new clothes. Instead, I've spent a lot of time watching pottery videos on Youtube (lots of ceramics teachers on lockdown), learning new skills, and making pots. 

I took a couple of ceramics classes a few years back and always intended to take more, but then I would get busy with work. The timing was never quite right. Honestly, if we hadn't been quarantined, I probably wouldn't have set up a studio and taken the step of purchasing a kiln, although I'm glad I did. I've really needed something to take my mind off the pandemic. Also, the election was hell. So much ugliness and dishonesty. I don't get into politics very much here, but, yeah, I hate Trump. He's horrible. Anyway, working with clay has been very therapeutic in a way that sewing hasn't. Perhaps because of the type of sewer I am--i.e., not challenging myself too much--it's easier to sew on autopilot. With ceramics, there's so much to learn and seemingly limitless possibilities. It reminds me of when I first started sewing and wanted to learn how to do everything. I go to bed at night thinking about all the things I want to try to make with clay. 

Here are some of the things I've been making. I'm only handbuilding right now--not sure yet if I want to buy a wheel.  Lots of first-time efforts, lots of overly-heavy bowls and vases. ;)

Clockwise from top left:
  1. A wonky planter made for Beej and my first go at wax resist. Glaze is Amaco Umber float. I'm currently working on a couple more using this technique and pattern. 
  2. My first glaze fire was to test tiles. I decided to use shapes and turn them into a wall hanging. My idea is that I can easily swap out the shapes and change it up whenever I feel like it. 
  3. This bowl was formed at the base by pinching, followed by coils for height. Inside glaze is beautiful (Amaco Toasted Sage); outside, meh (Iron Luster, I think. quite transparent brown).
  4. These two vases were made by attaching two hump molds (an old Ikea bowl). I love their round, chubby shape. The little one is glazed with Amaco Turquoise Float, but it's a bit flat.  The larger version was underglazed in red, carved and textured with a bath scrubby, and glazed with Amaco Deep Firebrick. I'm actually not all that thrilled with the Amaco glazes, but I had bought a set and have been experimenting. 
Here are my favorites so far. 

 The top is another hump mold with a stem added. Glaze is Amaco Blue Stone, which is my favorite of the Amaco Potter's Choice collection.  Bottom two are pinched dishes with a gorgeous Speckled Coral by Western. They turned out delicate but also surprisingly sturdy. I love pinching. I've actually started to keep a ball of clay next to my computer for when I get stressed with work (or bored in a meeting, lol). I find it really soothing. 

So there you go-- a little sewing but mostly pottery. There will be more ceramics posting. Funny, I haven't discovered an online potter community in the blogosphere quite yet. Lots on Instagram but mostly professionals. I'm looking forward to learning more. Right now, I'm just feeling my way around, trying new techniques like carving (scgraffito), underglazes, etc. I would like to find a direction and just pursue it instead of all the dabbling--my pots all look so different!--but maybe that will come in time. 

Are there any sewists out there who also make pots? I've been following Jasika's pottery journey with great interest. Anyone else out there I should know about? Or any recommended pottery blogs? Have you discovered any new interests during this strange and unique year?

Thanks so much for reading. (I know it was a lot!) I've got more to say about ceramics, but I think I'll hold off for another time. This was a long one. 

Stay healthy and safe, stay home, take care!        

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

2020 Summer Recap

Hey there. I just realized recently that I never blogged once this summer. Because I like to look back at my makes and memories, I'm going to post a catch-up of some things I made over the summer. There are a couple of items to be blogged later that I'd like to get modeling pics of because I know that's helpful, particularly for curvy/plus sewists like me. But I'm going to wait until after my cut and color on Oct. 3rd. Seriously, my hair looks like ass since it's grown out so much, and it was kinda the only thing that was making me feel cute. 

Like most, I spent the summer socially distancing and staying at home or very close to it. However, we did take a week off in August and rented a cabin at Lake Tahoe which was wonderfully peaceful. 

That's where I took this instagrammish (#quiltsinthewild) pic of my most recent improv quilt top. I loved working on this, the whole process of sorting through fabric colors, making sketches, and revising as I went along. I'm also really proud that it's made entirely out of linen scraps from various garment sewing projects. I still have to quilt this, but since my friends had to postpone their wedding plans, I have some time to procrastinate. By the way, Beej is the best insta-husband ever for getting up on that rock to hold up my quilt. 

Speaking of Beej, we celebrated our 12-year wedding anniversary this summer. To my utter delight, I discovered that year 12 is linen. Score! The pattern is the Men's Tropical Shirt by Wardrobe By Me, which I've blogged about here if you would like more details. I like this pattern because it fits him straight out of the envelope and suits his casual style. The fabric is 100% linen from Elizabeth Suzann. The pocket patch is the Eye of Agamotto--a Dr. Strange thing that he already had in his vast collection of comic book memorabilia. His geek-friends thought it was pretty cool. 

And to no one's surprise ever, I made myself some underpants. These are the Frankie Pants from Evie La Luve, which are my current fave. Not too big, not too small, and they don't ride up or migrate south. They also don't use very much fabric. I managed to get four pairs out of one decent-sized scrap (less than a yard) of bamboo rayon. Admittedly, that's a lot of stripy underwear for one person. I'm slowly chiseling away at the three bins of fabric scraps I blogged about here

And speaking of using up scraps, I made this denim apron from a couple of pairs of jeans and a scrap of dark denim in my bin. This was a lot of fun to make and solved the conundrum of what to do with stretch denim.  It's a cafe apron that doubles over in the back. I could almost get away with wearing it as a dress but wouldn't dare because...middle age. I made this for my latest obsession, ceramics. We got rid of our car earlier this year, which left lots of room in the garage to set up a pottery and enameling studio. Happy to say that this apron is already smeared with clay. 

So that's most of what I've been up to lately. Bummed about the state of the world but trying to keep my spirits up at home by making things and exploring interests. I hope you had a great or at least peaceful and interesting summer. Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 29, 2020

Calder Pants Party

Hello! I hope everyone is doing well and staying healthy. I've mostly emerged from my funk, although, of course, some days are easier than others. I know the situation is different for everyone, but it seems to me that it gets to everyone sooner or later. I try to remain positive and grateful.

So, Cashmerette Calder Pants. Yay! To begin with, I thought that offering the pdf with the purchase of the printed pattern during COVID was a brilliant marketing move. I'm kind of surprised more pattern designers didn't offer that. I almost always choose printed over pdf, but I definitely didn't want to wait indefinitely to sew up some pants.

I love a pair of wide-legged pants, particularly when the bottom really looks wide, as opposed to some other wide-legged styles that just go straight down like a long, wide rectangle.

They're super comfortable and, had I made them in a solid, they would get even more wear. I like the stripes, but I can't wait to make some in black and blue. I quickly sewed through my solids at the beginning of quarantine. Receiving packages at home is problematic, so this is forcing me to sew through the stash which is a good thing. This is a lightweight denim purchased at Fabric Outlet on a whim. Nice and easy to sew. 

Damn, my hair is getting long. My next haircut is scheduled for July 17th, which means I'm going to have to get creative with barrettes to avoid looking like a Beatle.

The second go at a pattern is always fun, isn't it? It goes so fast. Even faster here since I left off the pockets (not enough fabric). These are what I like to call lounge pants--for lounging around the house which is pretty much all I do these days. I made them in a rayon challis from Fabric Outlet. Another bottom-of-the-stash fabric that I had forgotten about.

Now, on to the deets:

  • Size 18. Mods: 2" off the hem. I may do an inch less next time just because I like the look of a deep hem. Shortened rise by 1/2" but need to shorten a bit more. The pockets hang a tiny bit low. The waist is a bit loose, but not enough to go down a size. I'll definitely shorten the elastic about 3/4" next time.
  • These are very similar to True Bias's Emerson pants, except the pockets are different. I think I like the Emerson pockets better, but I like the sizing and fit of the Calders better. 
  • I'm still not very good at sewing down elastic. And I'm also confused about the best way. The Calder instructions are very precise, even advising on the stitch length of a zigzag stitch. The Emersons don't have you sew the elastic down at all, which means it can twist up in the wash. The CCP Pietra pants have you stitch down the elastic with a straight stitch. What's the best way?  

So there you have it. A fun, easy pattern that yields a nice result. Perfect for a pants party.

Thank you for reading and stay healthy!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Counting My Blessings...Most of the Time

Hey there. Hope everyone is hanging in there during this stressful and scary time. I was just re-reading my last post and noting how much more positive I was in mid-March. Things were fine for the first five weeks but then they got really difficult. With the abrupt transition of Beej and I both adjusting to working from home in a one-bedroom apartment, some health issues cropping up since my immune system was down, and just a general sense of malaise with all the death and sickness and economic hardship in the news... I won't lie; I had a few panic attacks. Fortunately, I'm starting to feel better. I realize now that my not wanting to complain because some have it so much worse off led me to an unhealthy form of comparison. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what you have or don't have, we're all entitled to feel scared and anxious during times like these. 

So what does all this have to do with sewing? Not much, I guess. At first, I sewed like crazy to distract myself. By not commuting, I had gained an extra two hours a day, which seemed like a gift. I had all sorts of plans, but now I don't feel like sewing at all. It's okay. It will come back, and it's not like I'm in need of a lot of clothes--particularly since I can't go anywhere. In the meantime, I thought I'd share some sewing that I did work on, as well as some UFOs. 

To begin, there's the Fu Mask (seen above) by I'm super annoyed at the mixed messaging on masks at the onset of the pandemic and that's all I'm gonna say about that. Mainly I've just been making masks for close friends and family. I like the Fu mask because it's fitted at the sides and comfortable to wear. 

I had fun playing with my scraps to make these birthday gifts. Improv quilting is SO fun, and it feels special that they're one-of-a-kind.

I'm almost finished with this Rhett jacket by Seamwork. This is heavy cotton denim, so I'm a little nervous about how the buttonholes will go. I love the style and think it will be great to wear almost all year round. 

I'm also half-way finished with a Paper Theory Olya Shirt and Cashmerette Calder pants. I was super jazzed to work on all of these projects and I probably will be again. For now, they're just waiting for me to feel a little better, which is fine. 

I sincerely hope that everyone is staying healthy. Remember to take care of yourself! 

Sunday, March 22, 2020

WFH Wardrobe: Lane Raglan Caftan-Tunic Thingy

Hi Everyone. I hope you're all managing through the current global pandemic. It's been a long, weird week, and, at least here in the U.S., it's far from over. All week I've been feeling grateful for so many things--my health, being holed up with my wonderful husband and best friend in the world, the fact that I can easily and seamlessly work from home--but also specifically for the practice of sewing, which gives me something to focus on when I'm feeling anxious. And since I've been under a mandated shelter-in-place rule, I am doubly grateful that I'm already kind of an introvert with lots of creative, indoor hobbies and a very healthy fabric stash.  

We got the word last Friday at work about WFH before the shelter-in-place mandate, so I had already been dreaming about a hoodie sweatshirt dress and was thinking about different patterns. See my Procreate sketch below. 

I was considering the Seamwork Rudy, Seamwork Skipper member exclusive, or the Hey June Handmade Lane Raglan. They all had features I liked, but in the end laziness won out since I already owned a paper version of the Lane Raglan. No printing, no taping.  

As you can see from the finished version on Eva, I ended up with less of a cocoon shape, which was intentional. I decided that a giant hoodie might look too, well, giant  and sloppy if it was loose all over. My final version is semi-fitted with high slits up the sides for easy mobility AND comfort. I plan to wear with capris length leggings or bike shorts, so the high slits won't be a problem. 

My apartment can get pretty drafty, so I opted for thumbholes in the wristbands. 

Without further ado, here are the deets:
  • Fabric is Organic Cotton Spandex Knit II  in navy from Stonemountain and Daughter fabrics. It costs $20.50 per yard and is nice and thick and totally worth it. I have enough left over for a pair of leggings or bike shorts. 
  • Hey June Handmade gets bonus points for offering an optional larger cup size bodice. 
  • Size 1X with the following mods: lengthened at the straight hem line 12.75  inches; shortened sleeves by 2.5 inches, which turned out to be the perfect length--not too long and bunched, not too sort so that the sleeves stretch when I move. Dumb luck or an educated guess based on past mods.  
  • Going forward, I should always shorten my hoods. Just like I have shorter arms and legs, likewise I have a shorter neck. 
  • Just happened to have some leftover cording in my stash from making knitting project bags
  • The thumbhole wrist band instructions were comprehensive but still a brain bender. I found it easiest to just play with the bands until it made sense to me. 
  • The Lane raglan doesn't come with a kangaroo pocket, so I used the Seamwork Rudy. My printer's not working so I just eyeballed it based on the drawing of the pattern piece. 
  • I didn't plan to have the side slits. If I'd planned it, I would have extended out the slit part a bit so that I could fold it under.

I love that feeling when you have an idea to make something and it turns out even better than you imagined. I think this would be super cosy for international flights...whenever flying becomes an option again.

So that's the latest. I've been sewing like crazy because of all the anxiety-inducing news so I hope to have more completed projects to share soon. 

Please, please take care of yourself! Stay home and away from others as much as possible and wash those hands.