Buggin' Out

It is slowly starting to be spring like...it has been a very long drawn out winter which may be part of why I am 'sick and tired!

I have been struggling with an 'end of winter' bug.  It doesn't seem to want to move on and I am really for it to clear out!  I have so many fun projects that I want to get to, but have no energy to tackle them.  

I did want to support my local ASG chapter (that's American Sewing Guild!) so I rallied for a few hours over the weekend to create a few pieces for a special competition.

The deal is, the National ASG organization sponsored a competition to create a fabric featuring the ASG logo.  The second part of the challenge is for local ASG members to use the fabric to create whatever they want, and the guild who sends in the most items based on how many members you have, is the winner.  The prize is that National ASG will send a national sewing educator to your local guild to do a program!  Kind of a cool deal for our little chapter.  I wanted to help boost our chances, so I took my 1/2 yard of logo fabric and tried to get as many things as possible!  I still have a tiny piece left, but I think I stretched it about as far as I could.  Here are my pieces....

These little pouches are made with Lazy Girl Patterns' Sweetpea Pods pattern.  They are great or little things that always end up in the bottom of your pocketbook!

I made one of my little earring envelopes for traveling.  The logo fit just right.

I used another Lazy Girl Pattern, The Becca Bag for this piece.  I love these for collecting my projects.  I have several with my 'in progress' knitting that I take on my trips.

This is my own pattern.  I think it will be great for sewing retreats, but would also be a good toiletry bag for traveling.  I like the clear pockets.

I couldn't not make some kind of garment... I used my favorite woven T-shirt pattern to make this color blocked shirt.  I wasn't sure when I was making it if I would actually want to wear it, but it turned out pretty cute.  The blue is so not in my normal color palette, so I'm not sure what I will wear with it....we'll see.

I think this may be my favorite little piece.  So simple and yet so useful!  I'd make a bunch more, but it was actually kind of a lot of work!!!!

...And finally....another useful item....

So there you have it!  My 1/2 yard of ASG logo fabric.  It would be really fun to win, but even so, it was a nice distraction from my 'ugly bug' and I have several things that I think will actually be used.  Already a winner!


Knitting Homework

Every so often I have to catch up on my knitting.  I take my knitting on trips because it's portable, easy to pick up and put down and keeps me occupied while waiting, riding, training, planing.  But there comes a time in the life of each project that makes it no longer a travel project.  Sometimes it gets too big, sometimes there are fussy bits that require counting or some other version of paying attention, that are not conducive for airport lounges.  When that happens the project gets moved into 'The Pile' and another project gets started.  You can probably see what happens after awhile.  I have to take care of The Pile before I forget what I was doing.  Sometimes finishing a project becomes 'frogging' a project because I can't figure out where I left off, or I just don't care anymore!  

Last week I tackled The Pile, which had two mostly finished summer weight sweaters in it.  

The first project was a 'leftovers' sweater.  I had several skeins of linen and cotton yarns in various shades of natural and off white that were leftover from other projects or purchased because they were just too lovely to pass up.  I decided to make them into a stripy oversized T-shirt.  

I am happy with the resulting T-shirt, it has a very drapy hand and hangs close to the body so it doesn't look too oversized when it's worn...but, I now have several 'nibbins' (as a knitting friend calls them) of various linen and cotton yarns.  I think I will call it good!

The other project was one that I started while I was in Key West this winter.  There is a cute little fabric/yarn shop that really needed me to patronize it and I obliged by buying a yarn that was lengths of several different yarns strung together.  When it is worked it makes blocks of the different textures and colors.

The plan was to knit two long pieces about 12 inches wide and sew them together to make a V-neck top.  Pretty simple idea.  I realized after knitting the first ball (I had 2) that it was going to be a wee bit on the short side.  Of course there wasn't a third ball of yarn, and the yarn was several different yarns anyway so I picked another yarn and added it into the mix to get the length I needed.  I also used it to finish the edges and sew the pieces together.  It ended up being way more complicated than I planned, but it worked out in the end.

I still have an alpaca sweater that has become way too big for traveling and have started a cotton cardigan that has jumped the queue because I am way more excited about cotton right now than alpaca, so it won't be too long before The Pile will need tending again.  Until then, I'll be looking for some fun destinations to get my knitting done!


Stress Busting Shirtdress

Last week was very stressful.  Since retiring I haven't had a lot of 'very stressful' to contend with, so it really wiped me out!   As I have done all my life, I headed to my sewing room.  Sewing has always been my version of therapy.  A good project completely takes over my thoughts and pushes other stuff out of the way for a minute.  It's like a little vacation for my brain.  And last week I needed a really consuming project!!!!

I have been seeing shirt dresses and in particular, denim shirt dresses all over the place this spring.  They look cool (temperature and otherwise) and easy to wear and I want one!  I had hunted up a light weight very dark washed denim with a hint of stretch to make my version of a denim shirt dress.   I decided it would be the perfect 'therapy project' for last week.

I knew I wanted lots of fun topstitching on the dress.  A bunch of precise topstitching seemed like just the ticket for distracting my monkey brain for awhile!  It requires full focus and engineering the order of seaming to get the right overlaps is a thought consuming puzzle.  Excellent!

I started with my current favorite vest pattern, see it here and here.  I like the shape and it works well with more structured fabrics.  I washed the heck out of the denim to soften it up a bit and to avoid turning my fingers blue as I worked with it.

I had been clipping pages from the gazillion catalogues that show up in my mailbox, of denim and shirt dresses as inspiration.  Plenty of decisions to keep me focused!

I decided:
  • sleeveless
  • back shoulder yoke with center pleat
  • waist seam on the front
  • side pockets
  • collar with collar band 
  • shirttail hem in front, straight in back
  • and snaps

There would be more deciding along the way, but these got me started.

When I got the side pockets sewn, with 3 rows of topstitching and was ready to sew the front skirt to the front bodice...I realized that the dress needed to come down in size by about 2 inches!!  Arg!  

Normally that would be a simple fix by taking bigger side seams.  I decided that taking out the pockets was NOT an option, so the front skirt got a nice little center pleat!  

I knew there would be more decisions along the way!

As predicted, the topstitching was excellent therapy and actually got a bit out of control!

I used a scrap of a Liberty of London fabric that my husband had gotten for me on a trip to the UK, for the inside back yoke.  The light cotton lawn kept the yoke from getting too heavy and added a little surprise on the inside.

I like to use double thread to add heft to topstitching.  I had almost two full spools of thread when I started which I thought would be plenty.  This is what I had left when I finished!  Whew!

The week didn't get noticeably less stressful, but the dress did the trick!  As I worked on it I felt the familiar sense of calm that sewing can give me and the sense of losing track of time.  I know some people go for a run, or eat a package of Oreos, or hit pillows with wiffle bats...for me it's getting lost in a place where I feel confident, and creative and safe.  AND...I get a new dress!  I'm looking forward to wearing it on a lovely, stress-free summer afternoon.  Ohmmmmmmmmmm..........