Another Auld Lang Syne

Now that all the packages have been delivered and opened I can share some of the Christmas sewing that I have been doing...

I had such fun making a little linen romper for my new great niece.  I made it a few sizes bigger than she is now because I remember that when my kids were babies I received lots of things that were newborn size up to about three months and then all of a sudden....nothing!  I also figured it would be easier to work in the bigger size!!!  Luckily she lives in L.A. so I didn't have to worry about which season of the year she will end up fitting into it.

I was careful to steer clear of pink and totally fell in love with a soft aqua linen.   It's a bit hard to see, but the selvedge of the linen has a single red thread and I wanted to incorporate it in the design.  I ran it along the lower edge of the bodice.   I am very pleased with the end result. I love the way the twill tape works for the straps and the hat was just too cute to resist!

Last year I made an oiled cotton canvas jacket for my "baby" and he was very excited about it.  Living in London, it is the perfect fabric for rainy, damp days.  I decided that since I knew the pattern  (Merchant and Mills Foreman) was the right size I would try another version for this Christmas.  I chose a bonded wool thinking I would not need to line it.  About half way through I realized that a lining would make it a much nicer finished garment so I ended up basically making two coats and fitting them together.  A bit of a puzzle, but OK in the end.


I used a nice heavy weight lining and it gives the jacket a nice hang.  So glad I added it.

The trim of the coat is a really, really soft supple leather that was the perfect match for the wool.  (Oh the things that come out of my stash closet!)  I tested a bunch of different buttonholes and settled on a leather bound version.  I think I spent more time on those buttonholes than the rest of the coat!

The pockets were fun to figure out.  I don't think patch pockets are the most comfortable pockets to actually put your hands into but they are useful for 'stuff.'  I added inseam pockets for hand warming.

The under collar is a wool jersey that really worked well to help shape the leather collar.  I'm going to remember that combo.

...AND, it fit just right!  Even when I am working with a pattern that I know has worked in the past I worry about the fit.  Different fabrics can change the fit, so when I got these pictures I breathed a sigh of relief.  Yeah!

We stopped in Captiva for Christmas with lots of my family before heading to Key West for the month of January.  I wanted to figure out something that I could make a bunch of, something that was 'gender neutral' and something that I could pack and would be easy for the recipients to pack as well. I ended up making a whole passel of little fabric 'buckets.'  I have one that I use for bread and chips.  It's just the right size and it folds up nicely into a drawer when it's not full.  Again my stash was full of great choices!  I really didn't plan that it would be a stash busting project...just worked out that way!

I didn't actually count how many I ended up making.   I kept pulling out fabrics that would work and thought, "Well, just one more!"  I think I ended up with about 2 dozen.  I still have some fabrics that I like, so I may make another batch when I get home in February!

It makes me feel old when I hear myself saying, "I can't believe another year is coming to an end!"  BUT, I can't believe another year is coming to an end!!!!!!   I already have some fun sewing adventures planned for 2020, so I am looking forward to the New Year.  Sending these little notes and stories out into the universe often feels a bit self absorbed.  I'm never sure if anyone will see them...so thank you for letting me share and commenting when something catches your fancy.  I love the virtual connections.  Thanks for coming along and wishing you your own sewing adventures in 2020.


Ho,Ho, Holidays!

It's here!  Another December. 

As a kid I remember thinking that December was the longest month of the year...it felt like Christmas would never get here.  But now it just sneaks up on me and flies by before I can catch my breath.  I think this year feels even faster since Thanksgiving was so late in November.

I hosted one of my favorite holiday 'traditions' on Friday afternoon to kick off the season.  (I think it's fair to call it a tradition now that it has happened for several years.)  My sewing friends all come to my house for a 'luncheon.'  It feels a bit old fashioned and I like that.  They indulge my once a year "Martha Stewart-ish" leanings and we all enjoy a lovely afternoon together eating and chatting. This year the menu included French onion soup in bread bowls, a salad and Triple Chocolate Raspberry Trifle.  (Rule: if it's not chocolate, it's not dessert!)

I usually try to get a photo of the group but this year I was so engrossed I didn't remember until everyone was on their way home.  I did take a quick shot of the table before we started so that will have to do.

I make some kind of Christmas ornament to decorate each place setting and this year I made fabric Christmas trees.  For the table I used them to hold the utensils, but when they get done hanging on trees, they are little scissor holders that can be used to pack scissors and other sewing tools when you are off on a sewing retreat.

I did have my wits about me when I was making them and managed to take some progress photos.  Here's how I made them....

The pattern is basically and 8 X 10  rectangle with 3 bound edges and a couple of folds sewn in place.  I used my bias binding foot which makes a lovely 3/8" bound edge.  I love that thing!  I rounded the corners to make binding easier...


I left a tail of the binding to make a hanging loop....


The raw edge of the rectangle is fold to the inside so it doesn't show....


I secured the last fold by stitching-in-the-ditch next to the binding...


The "Christmas Tree Lot!"


I really love the chance to fuss over my sewing girls.  They are such a gift in my life and most of the time would not sit still for much 'fussing.'  I am grateful that they let me do it at least this one time each year!  Happy Holidays to all of them and to all of you who read along and indulge my sewing adventures!  Cheers!


P.S. More Backpacks!!!

As promised....

Back in September a group of sewing buddies got together to make backpacks.  We spent one VERY long day and finally the group mutinied, cried "uncle" and said they would come back for a second day to finish up the project.  I was super proud that they really hung in there through a whole bunch of zippers and pockets, but it really is more than a one day sew. ....to be continued....

Three of the "packers" were planning trips before the second round sewing day was scheduled, so we had an 'emergency' sewing session to get their packs ready for the road.

This color blocked version is made with nylon ripstop in bright, happy colors.  It turned out great and weighs almost nothing!

This canvas pack has a darling butterfly lining.  (and yes, the bottom of the pack did get finished!)

The maker of this pack never shies away from a challenge.  She quilted several pieces of her pack before sewing them together.  I think she only went through one package of heavy duty needles!!!

...on another fine day later in October....The Bag Ladies got back together to finish their backpacks. I am very pleased to say that everyone went home wearing a newly minted pack!  Each one was perfectly suited to its maker and ready for lots of travels.

These lovely periwinkle and purple packs are made with water proof raincoat fabric.  It's light weight and keeps everything inside nice and dry!


Two more rainwear packs...this time in tailored navy with fun aqua straps and a classic "LBP"  (little black pack!)

This pack uses the same nylon print throughout which is lovely, however!...its' owner has the dubious honor of "most unsewing during the workshop!"  Because all the pieces were the same, sometimes the wrong ones ended up getting sewn together....oops!  Note for future packs, choose different fabrics!  I am very proud that even with all the ripping, the pack turned out beautifully and the maker is recovering nicely.  
She hasn't, however, committed to making another pack at this point.😏

"Hey, did we show up at the party with the same backpack?!"

...not quite...here we have another version of the "LBP" and a great mid century modern bark cloth print with cool rose gold colored zippers.  One of our crew arranged to have all the zippers and hardware for the workshop made into kits.  We used wonderful zippers and buckles from Sallie Tomato.  If you need bag making supplies this is a great website.  The zippers, particularly are excellent and come in a wonderful selection of colors.

I also finished my workshop pack...I had one that I was using to demonstrate with and I didn't want to be the only one who didn't finish her backpack....I really love the hardware on this one.  I got it at the Farm and Family in the horse bridle department!!!!  It also has an additional side pocket for sunglasses.  I don't think the group would have sat still for one more pocket! 😡

It was a challenging couple of sewing days, but everyone stuck with it and the results are terrific!  All the packs are different, but the one thing that everyone agreed on was what fun it is to sew together.  We just don't do it often enough!  I can't wait to see where all of these packs go.....to be continued....


Knitting Season Comes Early

It's here!!!!!   ⛄⛄⛄⛄⛄😩 I'm not ready!  My Japanese Maple wasn't ready either.....
it seems to be holding onto its leaves just to spite the weather Gods!  I love the defiance!

When the snow shows up the knitting needles come out.  I love sitting and watching the snow from the coziness of my living room.  (not so happy about going out and struggling through it!)  I make a fire, a cup of tea, and snuggle in and knitting just seems to be the thing to do.

I have been learning a new cast on.  I have been using a 'long tail' cast on since I started knitting...I didn't even really know there were actually dozens of cast ons that I could be doing.  A knitting friend showed me her new favorite book and I was smitten! 

I went right to Amazon and got my own copy (delivered super speedy the next day!)  It has all kinds of great cast ons AND bind offs, again, I never knew!  The instructions are great and accompanied by very clear photos.  And if I get really stuck I just head over to You Tube and somebody has made a video.  I am having fun!

The project I am working on right now is a 'left overs' project.  I have several different yarns all not quite enough for anything on their own, but gang them all up and BAM, a sweater....I hope! 

There is a lovely alpaca yarn that was hand spun by a friend for my birthday.  It is kind of a dark caramel color.  Then there are a few balls of a grey alpaca, no clue when or how they ended up in my stash.  And to make up the yardage, a couple of balls of black alpaca.  I must have been on an alpaca kick at some point. 

I really loved my recent project (here) that was worked in one by one stripes in the round.  I thought the caramel and grey alpaca would look super together.  I started with a tubular cast on, 😝in black and then started knitting stripes.  It sounds so easy when I say it like that.  Actually, I think I wore out the yarn knitting and un-knitting it to get the cast on right!!!!  I finally think I have it and when it's right, it looks simply marvelous and it is really stretchy!

I have no idea if I have enough yarn to get an entire sweater, I may be back scrounging in my stash for yet another orphaned alpaca before it's all said and done.  For now, I am enjoying the stripes.

I did finish a couple of knitting projects in time for "sweater weather."  Again, both of them are alpaca!  I guess I'm just a sucker for the soft, soft softness of the little critters.  The first project is a sweater that I actually followed a pattern! 😳  Yes, I downloaded a pattern from Ravelry and followed the instructions as written...mostly!😏  You can see the pattern HERE.  It's called Clara and it was the really cool bands that I fell in love with when I saw it.  (and the slouchy, oversized fit, and the fact that it goes down in the back over the tush....well, you know, pretty much everything about it!)  The whole thing is knitted or picked up and knit so when you get to the end you are done!  I love that!  And I love my sweater.  It is as cozy as the critters that donated the fiber!


(my attempt at and 'arty' sweater photo...)

The second project is one that I saw at my local yarn haunt and the only way I could get the yarn was to buy the 'kit'...so I bought the kit.  It was a ball of green/black alpaca (of course) and a pattern for a darned cute floppy hat.  

I tried out my new favorite tubular cast on, and I only had to do it twice!  Progress!  The hat was very straight forward, but it was knit on size 3, yes you heard that right, size 3 needles!  Yikes!  It was like knitting with toothpicks!  But the resulting hat is wonderful!  It is light weight and really warm.  A new favorite for sure.  And it looks stunning with the Wingspan scarf I knit a few years ago.


So knitting season is off and running.  I usually run out of steam just before I finish the second sleeve, so we'll see how it goes.  Maybe since we got our first dump of snow on Halloween!!!!#%*^# the knitting season will be extended this year and I'll get all the way through a whole sweater!


A Little Bit of Fall Color

Like all of the seasons this year, Fall has been a bit different.  By this time in most years we would be enjoying blazing red maples and golden oaks in every direction.  But things are staying pretty green and I'm thinking we may just go from green to bare on the first blustery day.

I did get the chance to take in some fall color on our recent road trip around Lake Huron.  Our color timing was perfect  as we rounded the north end of the lake in Ontario.  Crisp mornings, sunny afternoons, a bit of rain just to remind us that winter is just around the corner.  It was just the break I needed and really got me in the mood for fall.  And fall sewing.

I'm never sure which is my favorite...'wool season' or 'linen season.'  I guess it depends which end of winter I am sitting at!  But right now I am all about the wool.  For several years now I have been saying that I need to make a new travel jacket.  I have a Michael Kors black wool knit jacket that I have worn for years when I travel.  It is just the right length, just the right weight, I can sleep in it on the plane and then wear it out to a fancy restaurant...it just works!  However, it is starting to show the years and the miles.  I realized that I will keep on wearing it unless there is something to take its place.  I'm heading out to Sonoma for Thanksgiving so I decided that now was the time to get 'er done!

It wasn't that hard to find a candidate in my stash.  I collect wool jerseys the way quilters collect fat quarters, so I had plenty of options.  I chose a bottle green wool jersey that is quite heavy.  I hoped that it would give me the tailored look that my old jacket has without having to add much structure.  I had made the Merchant and Mills Ottoline (read about it here) jacket earlier this year out of an Italian linen and really loved the style and fit.  With a few tweaks I knew I could make it work for the travel jacket I had in mind.  Because I had such a specific idea in my head I was a bit nervous about whether I would end up with what I wanted or end up disappointed and still wearing my old black jacket.  But I am happy to say that it turned out just great!  I am so pleased with it.


First Ottoline on the left...second Ottoline on the right.  There is a family resemblance!

I did start with the Ottoline, but made quite a few changes.  I put a zipper instead of buttons.  I didn't even consider trying to put button holes in the heavy jersey.  I covered the zipper tape and the collar seam with a narrow Petersham ribbon to finish the inside since the jacket is unlined.  I used snaps at the cuffs and vents, again to avoid button holes!  I lengthened the jacket to just cover my tushy, which is one of the things I like about my old jacket.  The pockets have a round corner and a square corner and I added little brass rivets for fun.  And there is a little baby 'pocket' on the back yoke.  I used a lighter weight wool to line the yoke so it wouldn't get too bulky.


I can't wait to try it out on my trip to California.  I think it will be just the ticket!

While I was in the travel mode I decided to try and make a version of my go to travel shirt.  I have a whole drawerful of Smartwool quarter zip shirts that have become the only shirts I pack anymore.  Again, perfect weight, go wherever I want to go and so easy to wash and dry on the road.

For my shirt I found an absolutely gorgeous cranberry colored jersey.  Again I was nervous that I wouldn't get what was in my head, but the sewing Gods were watching out for me and it is just what I I had in mind.  Two for two...it was a good couple of sewing days!

Most of my Smartwool shirts have exposed zippers, but the only zipper I had that matched was an invisible one, so that's what I used.  I had to put a seam in the center front to accommodate the zipper and I really like the finished look.

I'm pretty proud of the matching job I did at the center front collar seam and I didn't even get one of those annoying dimples at the bottom of my invisible zipper!

I had such great success with my two new travel pieces that I am working on a third...it's a dress that I think I can wear as a jumper with the shirt...we'll see if the sewing Gods hang in there!  They do say three's a charm!  Even if the dress crashes and burns, I am ready to roll with my Smartwool quarter zip and my wool jersey jacket.  Bring on the TSA!