Not A White Shirt

 My September white shirt was planned way back in February when Threads presented the Digital Ambassadors with the 2021 Challenge Project.  Just a little hint...we were asked to pick a designer to use as inspiration for a garment/ensemble.  Stay tuned and once the challenge has been posted on the Threads website, I will share my September white shirt.  

For now, I did make an 'almost white shirt' at the end of August.  So maybe it can be the "late summer" white shirt.  I say 'almost' because it does have a few colorful accents that keeps it from being a totally white shirt.

I started with a square linen (I think, it could be a cotton linen blend) tablecloth with cute little yellow tulips embroidered in the corners.  I can't remember where it came from.  It could have been another piece from the things I got from my mother-in-law. Or I could have picked it up while trolling around in an antique shop at some point.  Regardless, it is probably 1950ish vintage and has a nice open stitched hem around the edges along with the tulips.  

I have played around with it forever.  I thought about a skirt, I tried several patterns using the tulips in strategic ways as pockets or collars, I even thought about pillow cases at some point.  I would pull it out at the beginning of the summer and put it back in the stash in September...until now.....

While I was packing up my sewing room at the end of May I came across several 1940/50ish cotton prints.  They were in those wonderful colors that I remember from my grandma's kitchen.  Just a bit off primary with pink added in for fun.  I was making piles for different quilting friends and I just couldn't figure out where they should go.   When I pulled out the tablecloth...again...this year those prints popped right to the front of my mind.  The yellows in the prints were perfect with the tulips so I started once again to play around with ideas.  It took the whole summer but I finally came up with something that I really like.  It ended up being really, really simple and kept the tablecloth mainly intact.  Maybe the simplicity is why I like so much.  Anyway, I used the prints and the tablecloth and made a "white-ish shirt."

I cut the tablecloth into thirds and used the pieces with the finished edges for the sides/sleeves of my shirt and the middle third for a vee shaped inset to hold them together.  I used the cotton quilting prints to bind the cut edges of the 'sleeve' pieces and that's it!  No hemming, no fitting, loose and flow-y, perfect for end of summer heat...I love it!

The binding on this shirt is just enough 'quilting' to remind me why I run for the hills when someone asks if I make quilts.  I love that there are people out there who do amazing, gorgeous quilts that I can admire and fawn over, but I am pretty much a one square and out gal.  Real quilters should not look too closely at my wobbly seams it will illicit scoffing and tutting!

Tablecloths from the middle of the last century are so lovely and drapey.  They seem to form around whatever you put them on...a table...shoulders!  I really enjoy reimagining them for my tablecloth-free life style.  It will get much more wear on me than it would on a table!


Scraps from the Past

 I actually made my August white shirt at the beginning of the month.  However, finishing the shirt did not auto-magically mean the blog post would be written.  So here I am cramming it into the last week...again! 

I was hoping that we would be closing up our house sometime during the month and might not have a lot of sewing room days.  My wish came true!  We have spent some long days moving the last of the furniture and "hoovering" (as my British son calls it) ...which is way easier when there is no furniture in the room!  I am very happy that  the house has sold, but there are so many emotions that have been swirling around as we have been moving and closing that chapter of our lives.  I guess it is to be expected, we have spent 25 years in this house and a lot of memories have been made.  It is a strange mix of happy-to-be-moving-into-the-new and sad-to-be-moving-out-of-the-old.  A bit of a roller coaster at times.  The one thing I know for sure is that when we do this again we are going to have 'people!'  I'm pretty confident that my back won't handle another 'self-move.'  Thank goodness for strong, young son and friends!

Anyhow...my August shirt!  I have been enjoying my linen scrap box this summer.  There was a time, in the not too distant past, when 100% linen fabrics were very difficult to come by.  Anytime I found some I hoarded it and when there were scraps, even the smallest little bits, I squirreled them away.  Now I have a significant pile-o-linen that is fun to play around with.  I started my August shirt by pulling all the white and off white scraps out of the box to see if there would be enough to squeeze out a top.

Along with the linen scraps, I encountered a piece I had gotten at an art fair awhile ago.  The artist paints mandalas using fruits and vegetables as the different rings.  I loved the work and couldn't resist the designs that she had printed onto squares of muslin.  The one done with pears seemed appropriate for late summer.

I arranged and rearranged my scraps several times and finally settled on a design that was centered on the front, but made up of asymmetric stripes on the back.  I cut all the pattern pieces on the bias so I wouldn't need to have a closing.  The v-neckline and the stretch of the bias made it possible to get in and out without any additional openings.  I also found some of the edging that I had saved from the giant tablecloth that I used for dresses last summer and used it to outline the mandala painting and the neckline.

As a mom I know it is not PC to pick "favorite children" but if I'm being a "bad mom" I would say my August shirt is now my favorite!  (of course we have a few more months this year, things may change!  How fickle!)  But as the temperatures have risen I have been pulling this top on quite often.  The bias makes it really comfortable and the linen is so cool.  It is going to be hard to top this one in September.


Is the Third Time Really a Charm?

This story starts a few years back....like, 5 years back....

I had a piece of decorator linen that was probably too big of a print to be a dress, but every now and then I get this urge to upholster myself and...well...there you go!  I made a dress!  It actually wasn't all that bad.  I cut it on the bias to give it a bit more shape and strategically placed the "too big" flowers so they didn't end up glaring out from inappropriate body parts...😲😳 

I added a tweedy linen hem to get it to maxi dress length and it was fine.  (can you hear the 'but' coming?)  BUT, I never wore it.  It was one of those garments that hung in the back of the closet and never found the right occasion.  I liked all the individual parts...the fabrics, the details, the colors, the design...but all together...meh.  

After it had hung in the closet, forlorn and forgotten for a few years, I thought maybe if it was a short dress I might actually wear it once in a while.  So I hauled it to the sewing room and whacked it off to knee length.  Obviously that was not the solution because it didn't even stay around long enough to get a picture!  I can't even remember where it ended up, but the short version didn't pass muster either.  

Fast forward to last week...

What do you suppose I found on an excursion into my linen scrap box?  Seriously?!  Yep, there was the chopped off hem!  OK, why not...I still liked the fabrics and colors and the ribbon detail I had done on the hem was quite nice. I hung it on my dress form, upside down...and doggone it if it didn't decide that it wanted to be a tank top!  Go figure.

Along with the hem I had enough scraps of the original fabric to make straps and just like that...a top!
Whether or not this third version ends up being THE ONE, it has been fun to keep reimagining it.  We'll see if the story continues....


A White Shirt for a Chilly July

 Our move to our lake house has been full of ups and downs...there are 40 steps to the front door after all!!!!...But the most frustrating thing has been our lack of reliable internet connection.  I used to love the fact that we could not be 'connected' when we were using the house for a get away.  But now that we are here full time it has been more than frustrating.  I am sitting in the coffee shop trying to get the pictures that I want to share from my phone to my computer.  It completely baffles me why pictures I took this morning are already in my photos file, but the ones I took last week are still wandering around in the cloud somewhere.  😩 It will probably take a long phone call with one of my bright spark sons to get this figured out!  Whatever....

I have been sewing and loving my new machine and my new lofty studio, the blogging and sharing have not been as seamless (pun intended!)

Let me start with my July White Shirt.  I was thinking that it would be a very light, summery number, but we have been having an unusually cool season this year.  I put the linen and lawn aside and pulled out a sport fleece and made myself a hoodie!

I can't remember if I have ever drafted a hood before?????  I must have at some point, but my memory did not help me on this one.  I incorporated the neck opening with the hood and put a 'ribbing' of the same fabric around the edge to snug it up a bit.  I waited until it was almost done before deciding whether it needed a drawstring...it didn't!  Here is the pattern piece I drafted.  It looks like a puzzle, but it worked out well.  I hope I can remember it the next time I want a hood. 😏

I also made thumb holes.  You can see how I did it in this article that I did for Threads Insider.  It's my favorite way to make thumb openings. 

So that's July...done and dusted as my British son says!

The pants in the last picture are another pair of Closet Core joggers.  I am so smitten!  I made a little cropped cardigan to go with them and, with our cool summer, I have been wearing them both...a LOT!  I hacked my woven T-shirt pattern to make the cardigan.  I think I will be doing it again, it turned out to be a great layering piece.

And finally...I am forever the optimist and made myself a very summery, eyelet romper!  This may count as my "too cute for it's own good" outfit for 2021!  I mashed together the square vest that I used for my patchwork linen top and my Merchant and Mills Eve pants.  It worked out very smoothly.  Now I just need some warm days to try it out.  

The neck edge is a bias binding turned to the inside as a facing, but leaving about a quarter of an inch unturned.  I tucked it in every half inch to make the little scalloped edge.  I used a creamy colored pearl cotton and I like the little twinkle it gives.

I am hoping that we will soon be more connected to the rest of the world and I can do a bit better at sharing my new sewing space and projects.  With all of the moving and shaking that has been going on for the past several months, I am sooooo glad that I have had a place to sew.  It has always been my "get away from it all" place and I have sure appreciated being able to tune out for a few hours now and then.  

I am also hoping that I will be making a much lighter white shirt in August....jeez!


A New Baby (Lock)

This is a quick round up of a few random projects that I used to christen my new sewing machine!  Yeah!

I have had a Brother sewing machine at our lake house for 12 years.  Because I never did much sewing here it was fine.  But as I started using it with more substantial projects in mind, it just wasn't up to the job.  Last fall I had considered a new machine for Florida, but ended up taking my Janome to have there.  While I was shopping around I realized that I have had 4 different machines over the years with the whole shebang!  Monster embroidery units that I have never even taken out of their boxes!!!!!  I didn't want to do that again.  

My advise to people when they ask me what machine they should buy is always to get what you need and a smidge more to grow into.  Know the dealer.  And know where you will have it serviced.  I finally took my own advice!  I got a really lovely Baby Lock machine...sans embroidery, from the local dealer who has a service department right here!  Isn't she a beaut!

So far I am really, really pleased with my choice.  (Can you see me taking the picture in the side panel😜?)  I have had two different Baby Lock sergers that I have loved so I didn't go in completely blind.  It is very intuitive for the way I sew, so it has been a very smooth transition.  The dealer does have owner classes that I will definitely take to get the bells and whistles figured out.  But the basics have been easy to get used to.  So what have I been practicing on...?

I had a linen bias cut dress that I liked but didn't really wear.  I scrutinized it and realized that the fabric is a bit heavy, it is a decorator print, and the sleeves were just not right.  I decided I could take them out and make the dress cooler to wear and eliminate the whole sleeve issue!  

When I looked at this picture I was horrified!!!  Had I really worn this out in public!?!  The big brown leaf with the spot in the middle in exactly the WRONG place....OMG!  I was about to scrap the whole thing!!!  When I calmed down I realized that my dress form is a bit 'perkier' than I am at this point so when I put the dress on it wasn't as much of an issue.  Whew!

I took the sleeves off...and added a bit of elastic to the back waist seam to pull it in a bit, which gives it a little more definition at the waist.  Much better.  I'm much happier with the dress and think it will come out of the closet this summer, finally.

The second project I tackled was another pair of Merchant and Mills Eve pants.  I love this pattern!  I made them in a mid weight army green linen.  I love linen!  What can I say...they are great!

I do make one major modification to the pattern when I make it...it doesn't have pockets!  What!?  Right?!  So I incorporate slant pockets and hide the opening in the left hand pocket bag.  The original pattern calls for a side seam zipper, but because the opening is hidden in the pocket, I don't even bother with a zipper.  The button at the waistband moves forward a bit and I like making it a bit of a feature.

...And the last little project in this round up is a patchy linen top.  I did mention that I love linen didn't I?
and, yes, I had all these bits and bobs of linen scraps in my stash!  I lined it with a very soft Liberty of London lawn so it is still very light weight.  

...and I love my new buttonhole foot!

Now that I have eased into a few simple projects, I will see if I can get out of second gear over the next month and try out some of the other features of my new Baby...Baby Lock!


Movin' On Up and a May White Shirt

My May white shirt is finally done!  We will ignore the fact that it was actually made in June and move on.  May was spent loading boxes and laundry baskets of stuff from our home of 25 years into the car and carting an hour to our summertime house that is now our everyday house, in preparation for selling the aforementioned 25 year home!  The run-on sentence is kind of how the whole process felt.  What are we doing today?...loading the car and carting stuff up 40 steps...what about tomorrow? ...loading the car and carting stuff up 40 steps!!!!  If you think I'm kidding about the steps...

Anyway, since my sewing stuff spent the month of May in boxes and laundry baskets I did not have a chance to make my May white shirt, so we will pretend that it happened in May and hope I can get the June installment in books before July!

Before I get to my shirt, let me show you my new sewing 'cupboard.'  As part of our move to our former summer cottage, now everyday house, I said good bye to my sewing room and moved into a large closet on the third floor.  The loft room was planned as a multipurpose room so some days it's my sewing room and other times it is the yoga studio, or an office.  So all of my sewing paraphernalia is now on wheels and rolls neatly into the closet when I finish working.  I am liking the discipline of cleaning up after a project and starting with a clean slate.  It seems to make sense in my new downsized lifestyle.

Good bye old sewing room....

Hello new sewing cupboard...everything folds and rolls...

When it's time to sew, my treetop loft becomes a lovely sewing oasis...

At the end of a project, it all folds back into the cupboard to make space for whatever comes next...

So that is where my May (ahem...June) white shirt happened!

I really liked the Closet Core patterns that I tried in March so I got them out again.  My plan was to make the sweatshirt, but with a little wiggling I managed to get a pair of shorts and a tank top as well.  I got a really lovely rayon French terry in a creamy white and a matching rib knit for the bands.  It is soooo luxurious.  It has a bit of sheen and amazing drape, I feel very special when I wear it.

The tank top is a self drafted pattern.  Basically, I cut arm holes into the sides of the circular ribbing fabric.  It was a bit of an experiment, but I am happy with the results.  I like the neckline of the tank under  the sweatshirt which has quite an open neck edge.

The patterns are quite oversized and while I like my new shirt and pants, I think I might go down a size or even two for the next go round with these patterns.  They feel a bit overwhelming!  I really like the way the pockets and side seams are done on the pants.  It was a bit of a head scratcher the first time, but once I figured it out, it was very slick.  I'm not sure how many "lounge" outfits I'm going to need now that we are coming our of Covid hibernation, but for now I am loving these cozy pieces.  ...on to June!