Romance is not Dead

When your husband asks, "How did the ironing go today?" you might think that the romance has gone up in a hot puff of steam, but you would be mistaken...stick with me, it'll make sense, at least in Sewphie world.

I decided to change my ironing board cover.  I know, BIG decision, but, as you can see from the picture, one that was way over due.

As I was getting ready to head out and find an extra-wide cover (not easy to find and part of the reason the totally gross current cover had to last so long), I had a flash of brilliance, or at least a blast from the past.  I have wanted an "ironing table" since I used one at my first costume shop gig XX years ago. (that's a really long time ago)  A table big and sturdy enough to handle lots of yardage without wobbling or folding up on itself (or 'down' in the case of an ironing board), a table that doesn't go to an obnoxious point at the end so that there is a series of 'v-shaped' wrinkly spots along one selvage, a table...I could see the fuzzy edged vignette in my head, like a dream sequence in a sitcom...sigh!

OK...no cover....new plan, a whole new table!  

I headed to Loews, where all respectable DIY projects start.  I should have taken pictures of the blank stares I got as I tried to rope the sales folks into my project with my unbridled enthusiasm and the exuberant arm waving that accompanied my description of the "ironing table" concept.  But once they got on board (no pun intended) there were lots of suggestions and creative ideas.

I headed home with a 6 foot pantry shelving unit, a 22" X 54" piece of particle board, some metal straps and a staple gun.  The shelving unit supports came in 3 foot increments, which put the top of my table at the perfect height (for me).  I covered my board with 2 layers of wool coating (one bright purple and a second more subdued rusty tweed) and covered the whole thing again in a heavy cotton drill, strapped it to the top shelf and...Bob's your uncle...ironing table!!!

It is with a wee bit of embarrassment that I tell you how dang excited I am about my new table.  I suppose waiting XX years for it made it that much sweeter.  But, my dear husband recognized the momentousness of the occasion as soon as I dragged him into the workroom to show him my day's accomplishment.  So when he came home the next day and asked, "How did the ironing go today?" he wasn't patronizing me - he was giving me the chance to bust out in pride and joy all over again - what a sweetie.  So you see, Romance is not Dead.


Vested Interest

So here we go...maiden voyage of "Trial Balloons."
First:  What's the funny name about?

A Trial Balloon is a test to see if an idea is worth developing…

The term first came into use in 1782 when the Montgolfier brothers were working out the kinks of their hot air balloon idea.  After several farm animals made it back safely from their trial balloon ride, the brothers decided to try a manned flight.  Voila!  The rest, as they say, is history.

I sew.  So my “Trial Balloons” take the form of muslins, or mock-ups.  As I am developing a pattern idea, I might send up several trial balloons before I actually make the pattern in the precious “real fabric” that has undoubtedly spent several years aging to perfection in my fabric stash.  (I considered naming my blog “Mock-ups” or “Frock-ups” but those trial balloons didn’t fly!)

So “Trial Balloons” it is!

As I thought about keeping a journal  (a.k.a. this blog) of my workroom forays, I decided that trial balloons happen in all kinds of ways in my life…sewing, knitting, recipes, travel plans… I figure it allows for not only the ideas that take off, but those that frequently crash and burn as well. 

I will let you decide if this serves as inspiration or a cautionary tale.  The plan is to enjoy the ride…sans farm animals.

I decided that I would make the first 'official' post on Trial Balloons in honor of my sons, who helped me get started with this journal of sorts.  They have been patiently waiting for me to actually send something out into the ether of the inter-web  (they have also promised to help when I get overwhelmed with technology, right guys?)

My eldest son has decided that vests are way cool and has gotten a bit of a reputation at work as the 'vest-guy.'  He happens to be very (very) tall and finding ready-to-wear vests that get anywhere near his waist (i.e. waistcoats) is a lost cause.  Being the exceptionally great Mom that I am, I have created a pattern that fits him and have whipped up a few extra-tall vests to help him maintain his fashion rep.  I like to add 'flashy' backs and linings and my son has been willing to indulge me in this.  I thought I might get props for 'ways-to-embarrass-your-children,' but he seems OK with it, so far.

The tan vest is a beautiful wool and camel hair blend (thanks to my friends at Fabrications,http://www.fabricationsonline.com/) with a cotton damask back and silk lining. The striped vest is a coat weight wool (great for east coast winters) with a black denim back and cotton lining.

When my son was around at Christmas time we picked out some spring combinations and I made a natural colored linen version for him for his birthday. (February!)

I learned to 'bag a vest' when I was working at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis eons ago.  It's a great way to get a professional tailored finish and I thought I would try to show you how it's done.  This may be a bit ambitious for a first post, but hey, Trial Balloons!  The natural color linen, dark lining and entertaining lion print should make it easy to see what's going on, I hope.

Front facing and lining pieces

 1.  I like to create center front and hem facings for the vest fronts to make the edges nice and clean and more substantial for making buttonholes.  Many patterns don't include these, but they are easy to draft from the front pattern pieces.

2.  Prepare the fronts with pockets, if you like.  Prepare the front facing/lining assemblies.  With RST (right sides together) stitch the fronts to the facing/linings, leaving the side and shoulder seams unstitched.  Trim, turn and press the fronts.  Prepare the back, I like a waist belt, and the back lining pieces.

Pieces ready for 'bagging'

 3.  With RST, seam vest fronts to vest back at side and shoulder seams, catching all layers.

I like to leave a split at the side hem.

5.  Make a 'vest sandwich.'  Sandwich the fronts between the back and the back lining, with the right sides of the backs facing each other. (the fronts are the 'filling' of the sandwich) 
Tuck the front points into the sandwich bag and pin the backs together all the way around.
Stitch the 'bag' together being careful to catch the fronts only at the shoulders and side seams.  Leave a 4" opening in one side seam for turning.  Check to see that nothing is caught up in the seams before the next step....you'll thank me...

Vest 'Bag'

Opening for turning the vest

Stitched Bag o' vest
 6.  Trim everything!  Ruthlessly!

 7.  Pull the fronts through the side seam opening, press and slip stitch.
Yeah, vest!