10.11.2018

Slipping into Halloween


....Looks pretty harmless doesn't it?  A simple slip...no big deal...just whip it up in no time!  HA!!!!!!

A couple of ideas collided this morning and the resulting thought seemed like a great solution! 

Idea 1:  I have a Clavin Klein slip that is forever old, but I love it.  It is a simple knit, single layer, nothing fancy, but it works.  I have tried to replace it on several occasions, but everything I find has some kind of heavy duty spandex body shaper thing going on...I just want a plain ol' slip, thank you.

Idea 2:  We are heading out on another adventure next week and there are several 'schmancy' dinners that will require, well something schmancy!  Because whatever I take will be folded up in a suitcase I decided a simple sweater with a lace skirt would be appropriate and wouldn't require too much besides a couple of shakes and maybe a few minutes in a steamy bathroom.

Solution!!!  Make a lace skirt (already have a piece of black chunky lace that will do nicely) AND a neutral slip to wear under it, which will act like a lining for both the skirt and the sweater.  I thought it was brilliant!

I started with the slip....

Making a copy of the CK slip was really simple, like making paper doll clothes.  I'm thinking I'll have this project wrapped up and packed by noon!  A few seam samples, yep going to need that stretch needle, here we go.  First up finish the front and back necklines.  I'll just use my handy dandy Steam a Seam and turn the edges with a twin needle, Bingo....or not....every stitch wedged the fabric further and deeper into my bobbin case.  Plan B.  How about a sheer ribbon edge, perfect...or not...the ribbon went onto the edge just fine, pressed it, ouch, the steam shriveled the ribbon to about half it's original length.  Plan C.  Use better ribbon.  Way to heavy!  Plan D.  A folded edge of the slip fabric...Ahhhhhh, but wait, did I just sew the front on the wrong way!????  Arrrg! 

I finally got the necklines finished, the right way around, and went on to tackle the straps.  I'll just skip to Plan F....1/2" tube with a twin needle stitch down the middle.  It's now 4:15 in the afternoon!!





My simple little, innocent looking slip had turned into an early Halloween scare fest!  I did every single step not just twice, but three or more times.  I had more thread in the trash than in the slip!  At some point it just became me or the slip!  It was sheer stubborn determination that finished the #@$##@! thing.  BUT, I am glad that I persevered because in the end I really am happy to finally have a simple little slip with no spandex.  AND, I have to say that I simply adore the 'bug mounting' pins from Merchant and Mills.  They were lifesaving working with slimy knits and sheer ribbons. 

By 6 pm I called it a day and decided the 'simple black lace skirt' will have to wait for another day. 🙀


9.29.2018

Fabric on Rye

I'm back from my UK travels and, gratefully back to full health!!  I was overwhelmed with the well-wishes you sent and know they played a major role in my speedy recovery.  Thank you!

I have renewed gratitude for the miracle of good health.  I know my experience was minor on the scale of health crises, but it did serve to remind me that we can't take our health for granted.  I am so happy to be enjoying mine again and just in time for my favorite autumn season.

One of the favorite things that happened on my recent journey was the conspiracy of events that took me to Rye and my new favorite fabric store...Merchant and Mills!

Before I left for the UK I had come across (on Pinterest of course) a great rumply linen jacket that screamed, "make me for fall!"  I tucked it away with a note to find out more about it when I got home...


The second nudge came when I stopped in at Liberty of London.  (always my first stop when I visit...fabric and cream tea in the same place...duh...of course it's my first stop!) 

While trolling around in the fabric and yarn departments I noticed a series of patterns that I'd not seen before.  They are based on simple working garments, but with a contemporary edge to them.  Hmmmm....another 'note to self.'



We ended our travels with a stay in Brighton where we visited with my son, his girlfriend and her family who live there.  We decided to take a day trip to Rye, an old medieval village just a bit east of Brighton.  Knowing that I like to sew, our host recommended a stop at a place she had heard of but hadn't yet visited.  Our Google map took us straight to, yep,  Merchant and Mills!!!!  It is the actual first and only store...they sell their patterns in other fabric retailers, but the fabrics and notions are only available at the store (and a few things on line...but you can't touch them on line!).

Not being a teenager, I don't often use the term, "OMG"...but...OMG!!!!!!  I was in love!!!  All the patterns, incredible hardware for bags and jackets, vintage notions (I got the finest of fine black steel pins with little gold heads, they are used to mount bug collections!) and the fabric is to die for!  Before I could even pull my drooling self together my son and my husband had both picked out patterns and fabric that they wanted and asked if I could make them.  (can you say Merry Christmas?!)   We spent the next hour and a half trying on the sample garments, picking out which colors of oiled canvas to buy and collecting a huge pile...of course they can ship to the US!



Michelle, who was a bit taken a back by our exuberance, did an excellent job keeping track of us and all the yardages (meters!).  She even agreed to a photo before we headed out to explore the rest of Rye.  (which, btw, is charming!)


I was really thrilled that our package arrived within two days of returning, I don't think I could have waited any longer.  I'm so excited to dig into the patterns and projects, especially knowing that my boys are excited about them as well.  They always appreciate when I sew for them, but the fact that they actually picked out the projects means a lot.  I have a pile of work this fall!

Seeing the store was amazing, but when I opened the DHL box the experience kept getting better...just look at the darling packages...so English!




...And of course all the wonderful treasures inside.




I have no idea how to sew oiled canvas, but stay tuned, I'm sure I can call Michelle if I get into trouble!  Cheerio!

9.03.2018

Easing into Fall


I've been laying low for the past few weeks trying to get my strength back frollowing my bout with pneumonia 😟 before we head out again for another adventure.  This time we are heading to England and renting a houseboat on the Thames River.  We have been assured that it will be easy and even with no boating experience we should do just fine.  I'm imagining an episode of Gilligan's Island!!!!  We'll see!  

While I was trying not to do very much I had some quiet days in my sewing room.  I'm not advocating a major illness, but it was a bit of a silver lining to have time to sew.  I thought I would share a quick post before I head out...

I have been eyeing a piece of decorator linen at my local Hobby Lobby.  I would check it out whenever I went in, trying to decide if it would soften up enough to make a dress.  Last week all the decorator fabrics were on sale (30% off!!! Yeah!) So I bought a couple of yards to see what would happen.  The first time in the washer and dryer a bit of the sizing washed out, a couple more rounds and it softened up really nicely and got that wonderful linen rumpled feel that I adore.

Since I had just spent a month honing my T-shirt pattern with Rhonda, I kept the ball rolling and used my favorite woven T pattern as the starting point.  When I decided that I wanted to add the collar, I measured the neckline and then measured the only piece of fabric I had left, and...it was meant to be.  It was exactly the right size, I didn't even cut it!  

Here's my first fall feeling project...I'm looking forward to a few more when I get back at the end of the month!

Bon Voyage!


8.28.2018

Week Four: A T for All!

WOW!  What a whirlwind August has been!  Not only trying to keep up with the flurry of T-shirt projects, but life took off on a bit of a tear as well!

Since the beginning of the month  I have enjoyed an "Outstanding in the Field" dinner at a fruit farm in southwest Michigan...(you can read more about this amazing event HERE.)


...Traveled to Eastern Washington State to join my nephew's wedding celebration, which took place in the small community of Mazama, that was surrounded by wildfires!  Everything was enveloped in an eerie cloud of smoke and ash.  Quite dramatic...


...Spent a short day and a half in Seattle, which was also experiencing smokey air, so we opted for the Pike Place Market and the Chihuly Gardens rather than the Space needle...

    

...went to Chicago to pick up my sister-in--law who is visiting from Italy and took in a performance of Hamilton...


...AND...contracted pneumonia, just in case I wasn't convinced that I needed to slow it down a bit!!!!



Fortunately, because I knew I had a packed up schedule at the end of the month, I worked on my final T-shirt project before the pneumonia part of the program kicked in. (and kicked my butt!)  So I do have some things to share for our final week of the woven T challenge.

A few observations about the Woven T project before I share my final week's work... Each week I have had literally dozens of ideas rolling around in my head and scribbled on scraps of paper.  I had trouble narrowing down to just one or two.  It was great!!!!  I had been in the "idea doldrums" for most of the summer so having the challenge has been a true jump start.  A boost in creative energy is always a good thing, I'm sure it will carry me right into fall sewing projects.

Rhonda's gift box of fabric was such a treat and catalyst.  It also elicited a reaction that was a total and wonderful surprise.  Each of the gifted fabrics held emotions and memories and price tags and possible projects....but not for me!  They came to me totally unencumbered!  When I pull a fabric from my own stash it comes with all the years of baggage that it has been collecting while waiting patiently for me to decide.  Often these attachments make it difficult to actually use a piece of fabric.  "It was sooo expensive...it was going to be for a wedding in 2002...my grandma gave it to me...and on, and on...."  But, the fabrics that came to me from Rhonda had no little voices whispering to me, they came as pure potential.  I could cut and stitch with abandon!  It was incredibly freeing and fun!  It made me realize how many pieces I have that could get passed along and be freed of their emotional chains and become a catalyst for someone else.  Hmmmmmm...

Thank you Rhonda for all the amazing fabrics, the reintroduction to raglan sleeves and your generous spirit.  It has been such a fun month and seeing your creations continues to inspire new possibilities.


So, on to week four, with abandon!...a "T-for-all!"  We decided we would each do whatever took our fancy for our last week.  😳  Cue the dozens of ideas!

One of the ideas that was inspired by the raglan sleeve pattern was to 'outline' all the seams.


I love using my bias binding foot because it makes a small (3/8") tidy bound edge that can actually be used for seaming.  I also had a tea towel with black and white bikes on it that had been a contender for week 1.  I toyed with adding other colors, but in the end stuck with a black and white theme. 

   

To use the binding foot, I cut 1" bias strips of black cotton that were fed through the bias binding foot along with the "edge" getting the binding.  I put the wrong-sides of the pattern pieces together and bound them together so the black binding was on the outside of my garment.  The foot folds and stitches the binding all at one time.  It's pretty slick!

   

The tricky part is figuring out which seams to do first so that all the joins get covered in binding.

  


I extended the pattern to make a T-shirt dress (since I have 3 new shirts already this month!) and added some pockets.



It's cute, it fits...and, maybe it's because I'm recovering from pneumonia, but it feels a lot like a hospital gown!  We'll see....I think it was better in my head than on the dress form.



Number two idea was way more successful in my book!  Again, the starting point was a tea towel.  A gorgeous tea towel that Rhonda had made from one of her paintings.   It was included in my fun gift box.  I apologize for the miserable color in the pictures, it was difficult to photograph, just imagine the palest of greens and vibrant purples!

I realized that I have been lusting after a Susan Eastman style T all summer and hadn't actually made one for myself.  Rhonda's painting, Susan's style...




The towel needed to be extended and the fabric had quite a bit of body, so I decided to slice it up and add linen strips to soften the hand and create the extra yardage needed for a shirt.  The purple fabric is actually over-dyed kimono fabric (echo week 2), the hand dyed colors are just perfect with the painting on the towel.

I was worried about just chopping into the towel so I made a photo copy and cut that up to try out my idea before whacking into Rhonda's lovely towel.




   

The striped result makes me think of seeing a flower garden through a picket fence.

And finally, when my sister-in-law saw the blue cotton lawn print that was also part of the infamous gift box, she loved it!  She had asked if I would be able to make her a dress like one she has that is getting a bit worn.  She continues wearing it because it is made of very light weight cotton and is perfect for sweltering late summer days.  The blue print was just the type of fabric she had been looking for...so we whipped it up!  It will definitely be comfortable when the temperatures hit 90 this week!


I used the Chelsea Raglan pattern again with selvedge edges on the sleeves and a facing at the neckline topstitched to the outside.  It's so light and easy, I may need to have one for myself.















My final 'tea recipe' is one that I learned from a friend who practices and teaches ayruvedic yoga methodologies.  Whenever things get a little too crazy this simple warm drink soothes and calms me inside and out.  This week as I have been struggling to regain my strength and rebalance after my mega-dose of antibiotics, it has been the perfect remedy.


Juice a lemon or a lime, it ends up being about 1/4 cup of juice.  Add the juice to about 2 cups of hot water along with several slices of fresh ginger.  Let it cool slightly before adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of honey, finally add a very small pinch of coconut oil.  Namaste! 🙏



8.22.2018

Week Three: Wranglin' Raglans

Please excuse the delay in posting for this week...both Rhonda and I ended up otherwise distracted on Tuesday, but back on track today....

Week Three of our Month long T-Fest is all about the raglan sleeve T.  This week Rhonda and I are both starting with the Chelsea T pattern from Fabric Store.com.  It is a free pattern that you can download and tape together, easy to do and not many pages to deal with.  Rhonda did a post about using the pattern HERE.  She also used it for her tea towel T in week one HERE.

For most people, raglan sleeves are flattering and easy to fit and sew.  But, for a broad shouldered person like moi, not so much.  There never seems to be enough fabric to fall nicely over the cap of my shoulder.   I was a bit worried when Rhonda suggested the pattern because I have kind of given up trying to get a raglan sleeve to fit me, usually opting for a set in or other type of sleeve.  But I took the challenge....

I made a 'trial balloon' of the pattern, once I got it taped together, and sure enough, I got plenty of wrinkling and pulling between my shoulders.  The front and back of the T fit OK and the length of the raglan seam was good, it was just the amount of fabric over the shoulder that was off.  To create the needed room, I did a 'fisheye' adjustment at the shoulder point, which added room without changing the length of any seams.


A second 'trial balloon' confirmed my suspicions, I did need the extra bit of fabric and once it was added, the fit was very nice.  Thank you Rhonda for nudging me into raglan sleeves!  (She is the Queen of Sleeves after all! 👸)

With my adjusted pattern in hand, I started looking around for fabric.  I liked the idea of a good old striped T-shirt.  I thought making the front and back in stripes with contrasting sleeves would be a sporty, fun look.  I found a black and white striped scarf in my drawer and liked it with a beautiful sheer gray silk crepe over it.  The scarf was  not big enough to cover the need, so I went shopping, hoping to find a black and white stripe, preferably silk, to match the drape of the sheer overlay.

I came home with several pieces, one small stripe, one dot and no silk!  I laid the gray over them, along with the striped scarf and still wanted those stripes...and silk!!!




Not giving up, I decided I would make my own stripes!  ...And here's where I got totally carried away!  It sounded like a simple idea...just make some stripes...out of silk crepe de chine...yeah?!

#!@&!!**### (no need to elaborate on that part of the process! 😬)

I did manage to get my stripes and loved them.  The black has a lovely jacquard pattern and I used the matte side of the white.  


Once I got the pieces together, I realized that the simple turned neckline finish recommended in the pattern would not work with the sheer sleeves.  Instead I cut a facing from the black silk.  I turned the outside edges, applied some fusible seam tape and laid it under the neckline on my dress form.  I steamed it to activate the fusible tape and hold it in place and then sewed the right side facing in place.  Worked like a charm!


             
So my 'sporty' striped T got a wee bit over the top and decidedly schmancy!  But I really like it!  It feels very elegant and refined and I have no idea where or when I will ever wear it!

     



Since I ended up with such a fancy T-shirt, I thought a fancy recipe would be in order....

The last time my son and his girlfriend visited she and I took a baking class together.  I'm not much of a baker, but she is very accomplished, so I was following her lead.  We made french macarons, which I love but never imagined ever making myself.  I got out the recipe and dove in!  

First the meringue:  stiff peaks


Then add the dry ingredients and fold to make batter that flows off the spoon like "slow lava"
(the dark flecks come from very finely ground Earl Grey tea. Yum!)


Use a piping bag to make a whole slew of little cookies...the paper templates under the parchment paper make the spacing easy. (hint: take the templates out before baking...and don't ask me how I know this *#!!)


       
Bake, cool...fill with yummy butter cream and enjoy!


This recipe is very similar to the one we used in the class, with the following changes:
Skip the coloring and the flavoring and add 2 teaspoons of very finely ground Earl Grey tea.  I don't care for Earl Grey when it's made into tea, but when you put it in a cookie...yummy!

Even if you never make French Macarons you will want to make this butter cream!  It is totally divine.

2 sticks unsalted, room temperature butter (oh yeah!)
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp salt

Whip it all together until smooth and creamy. 

A silk raglan sleeve T and Earl Grey Tea Macarons...totally schmancy!