6.17.2021

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!



















4.22.2021

Time Flies, and So Do Snowbirds!

 It's time for this snowbird to migrate back to the northern nest.  It hardly seems like that should be true, but we have been here for 5 months and it is getting dang hot and spring is springing back in Michigan, so off we fly!  Both of us have had our vaccines so traveling this time doesn't feel quite as scary.  

I feel like I have accomplished quite a bit this season (what snowbirds call "winter" wherever they land.).  When I arrived in November with my sewing machines and a nervous cat I wasn't sure I would actually get much sewing done at all.  But with the help of the USPS, FedEx and Amazon, I managed to get myself set up quite nicely in my lofty sewing space and completed several fun projects.  


I wanted to finish up a couple of things before shutting down the Southern Most sewing space.  A knitting project that I started when we first arrived back in November and a 'house dress' made from a cotton beach towel that I found at the local farmers' market.  Kind of on two ends of the spectrum...a fuzzy warm sweater and a loose 'touch as little as possible' dress!  Both ended up being practically zero waste projects as well.  

The idea of 'zero waste' has been interesting to me since I am in a brand new space.  I'm not sure I want to fill it up with boxes of small scrappy bits.  Being more conscious about what I am really using and what I am just stashing away is easier with a clean slate in front of me.  My penchant for having 'almost enough' fabric is actually serving me well in my quest for zero waste.  It does require a bit more head scratching and engineering somersaults, but that's fun too.  But I digress....

If I had kept all of the stitches that I knitted on this sweater I would have about three sweaters! I kept starting and unknitting and trying again and unknitting, I just couldn't figure out the gauge or the style.  To look at the finished product you wouldn't think it would have been such a trial.  I think I just got worn out and needed to get it off the needles before the yarn was worn out too.  I do like it at the end of the day, but it was a wandering road to the finish line!  I can't even imagine putting it on right now, it is close to 90 degrees!!!  But when I started it in November it seemed like just the right thing for January evenings, so next season I think it will get some wear. (I think I will be ready to see it again by then, too)




...and this is what was left!  Whew!

My last project of this first season is a dress that I imagined for the hot days we are having right now.  I wanted something that touched as few body parts as possible!  I started with an old sheet and cut out a piece the same size as the towel I bought at the market.  I draped and folded it until it more or less was a dress shape and then transferred the idea to the towel.  I used the cutouts that I made for the armholes and neck to make the pockets and used a scrap of linen to make bias for the edges.  It literally touches my shoulders and that's it!  It is definitely not a going out of the house dress, but it sure is comfortable in April in Key West.





I love 😍the gigantic pocketses!!!


It's still early days in this new snowbird life style, but so far so good....see you back in Michigan!




4.18.2021

Spot On for April!

 I'm on the third month of my white shirt challenge and it's April and it's getting pretty warm in Key West.  It's definitely T-shirt weather!

This white shirt starts with two T-shirts.  I found some really light and really soft T's at the Gap store.  I got a white one and an ivory one in the largest size they had so I would have maximum jersey real estate to work with.  My plan was to do a 'slow' sew' project ala Natalie Chanin.  I love her embroidered garments with the all over designs, I just don't have the stamina for them and it was already mid April, I certainly wasn't going to get anything terribly elaborate finished in two weeks!  

I carefully took apart the shirts thinking I might want to use the ribbings.  I cut two fronts and two backs out of the white and one front and one back out of the ivory.  


For one side of the shirt I layered the two colors and stitched my design through them and then cut away the interior of the shapes.   On the other side I appliqued the design onto a single layer.  I wasn't sure how well the concept was going to work because the two fabrics were really close in shade.  Once I got it together I think the idea became apparent.  

Because I was using circles, I was particularly careful about the placement of the design, especially on the fronts.😏 I cut out a bunch of paper circles and scattered them around to make sure I liked it before I started stitching.


I used a double running stitch to make the center, side and shoulder seams.  I was standing in front of the mirror pondering what to do to finish the edges and decided I WAS finished.  I left them raw.  The fabrics are so light weight I was afraid that too much stitching on the edges would just make them droopy.  I also like that they echo the raw edges of the appliques.



I was half thinking this would be a 'car project' for the drive back to Michigan, but now I'll have to come up with something else.  I'm glad I have it to wear right now...it is nice and cool!  




That's the April installment, a white on white tank top....now on to May!







4.10.2021

Hello Lounge Lizard!

 I finally succumbed!  I have been trying desperately to hold onto some semblance of publicly acceptable clothing, maybe thinking that I might suddenly need to go somewhere!? πŸ˜† But when I saw the latest pattern introduction from Closet Core I dove straight into the "loungewear" pool.  Who was I kidding anyway!  I have been wearing the same yoga pants and tank top  everyday and frankly, could use some newer, nicer versions.  So when I saw they were available, AND in a sale bundle, I ordered them up!  I had also ordered a few yards of a really nice light weight fleece from Emma One Sock a few weeks ago with nothing planned for it, and thought it would be perfect for the hoodie and joggers.  (Joggers is the new name for what I wore in high school and called "sweatpants," much cuter name and allows an old lady to feel cool and with it! or 'dope'?!)


Since most patterns that I have used need quite a bit of manipulating to get the fit right for my body, my usual first step is to make a 'trial balloon' hoping it will be a wearable muslin.  More often it becomes a chopped up mess of alterations.  I didn't have another piece of fleece to play around with so I decided I would just go for it and if I needed to get more fabric, well, I knew where it had come from!  

I checked out the pattern measurements and figured I would make a size 10 for the joggers and, because the sweatshirt was pretty generously sized, a size 8 for the top.  I did add my normal 3" to the length of the sleeves and the pants, but other than that I cut them straight out of the envelop, with my fingers tightly crossed.  

I realized as I was laying out the pattern pieces that, if I was very miserly, I might just be able to get the shorts cut out as well.  Challenge accepted!  I think I spent longer wiggling pieces around than I did sewing them up!  But, with a few other adjustments, I managed to get the hoodie, the joggers AND the shorts!  How...?

I had already decided I wanted to add a ribbing to the edge of the hood.  The pattern suggests turning the edge under, but I thought a ribbing would give it a bit of tension to keep it from falling too open.  I was thinking I would just use a strip of the fleece, but now that I was in conservation mode, I went looking around for something else to use.  The only thing I had on hand was a slate gray knit, but it looked great with the fleece.  Once I introduced the second fabric I used it for the waistband of the shorts and trimmed the pockets of the hoodie and the shorts so it became a "design detail." (if you do something 3 times it's a design detail not a mistake!)  I also cut the pocket bags out of a light weight linen.  It actually worked really well.  It reduced the bulk of the pockets and stabilized them at the same time.  I reduced the pocket bulk some more on the shorts  by only making the back pocket bag and stitching it through the outside of the fronts.  And finally, I ended up piecing the back yoke of the hoodie.  I knew I would have to piece somewhere and figured the yoke would be under the hood most of the time.  I lined the yoke with a piece of an old T-shirt to keep all the seams from being too irritating across my shoulders.  As I was panning and making all these fussy maneuvers I kept thinking, "this is a lot of work for something that might end up a chopped up mess!"  


The piecing on the yoke is hard to see from the outside, which was kind of the point!



Well, you can see by the lack of in-progress pictures that I got carried away...again...and forgot to take one photo.  But, I did manage a few of the completed garments, which worked out to be amazing!  I am more than pleased and surprised at how well they fit and look.  I didn't even have to adjust the crotch curve!!!





Whoa!  Where'd those crazy yellow duck shoes come from?!

Now I am wondering why it took me so long to embrace the loungewear trend...but I think there will be more lounge lizarding in my future.   And some more Closet Core patterns as well. πŸ˜‰





4.04.2021

A Tisket a Tasket an Egg Collecting Basket!

It's Easter and I made an egg basket!  Well, I made an egg basket and then Easter happened.  The two events only coincided  accidentally.

Here's the deal...my son and his girlfriend have a flock.  Of chickens!  And they lay lots of eggs that need to be collected. (the chickens, not my son and his GF.)   "Girlfriend's" birthday is at the end of March.  I always struggle with what to do for GF's.  I love them, but they are not easy to gift.  I worry about being too personal, or not personal enough, or too old fashion...anyway, this year I think I nailed it!  

The flock is an important aspect of their lives and I thought something to help with them would be enjoyed and useful.  I have seen wire egg baskets and thought I could come up with a fabric version that would do.  I did get side track by considering an egg gathering apron.  I saw a little girl with an apron with a bunch of pockets across the front and that seemed like a good solution until I realized that you have to transfer the eggs out of the pockets before taking off the apron.  That means you actually have to 'collect' the eggs twice!  Not very efficient.  So back to the basket...

I figured the pockets were a good idea to keep the eggs from bumping into each other, but what size?  I got out some dish towels and eggs and started to engineer my basket... don't they look cozy?


Once I had the pocket size I created a "pattern" that would have an inner and an outer circle of 6 pockets in each circle.  There is also space in the middle of the pocket circles in case the flock is extra productive!

My next stop was my neighborhood fabric store...I love that!  I collected some too cute chicken fabric, some plastic canvas stuff and strapping.  I had some quilt batting in the cupboard.  I wasn't exactly sure what I might need, but I figured there was an egg basket in there somewhere.



I got very caught up in the process, as I often do when engineering a bag, and forgot to take any pictures.  Suffice it to say, that there was a fair amount of growling and gnashing of teeth before the final version emerged..

I put the canvas in the outer circle and batting in the inner one.  The stiffness helped keep the pockets from collapsing into each other and the batting pads the eggs so they stay intact.

I am very pleased with the end product and have heard from the "flock-keepers" that it works really well.  I hope there won't be requests for another one, because I have no idea how to do it again!  This is definitely a "one-of-a-kind" egg basket!









3.22.2021

Color Blocking with White

 When I decided to challenge myself at the end of February to make a white shirt once a month I thought four weeks between shirts would be plenty....Wow....I can't believe how quickly the four weeks slipped by.  I'm going to have to pay attention and not waste any of my weeks.  It's easy to say, "I'll do it next week."  But when you only have four, you can't push it off too many times!

I did have to wait for my white fabrics to arrive, so I couldn't get too much of a jump on March.  I ordered several versions of white fabric from "Gorgeous Fabrics."  I had a hard time choosing, there were lots of lovely pieces, but in the end I restrained myself a bit and picked out four to get me started.  The fabric came right away, it was lovingly packed in tissue and plastic to keep it white, and Ann from the store sent me a very nice thank you email which I thought was extra special.  I felt a bit bad about unwrapping them and shoving them unceremoniously into the washing machine.

Here's what I got...

The bottom right hand corner is an ivory rayon twill.  It has lots of body and I already have an idea for how I want to use it.

Next to that is a soft cotton batiste.  It is very fine and sheer, almost a voile.  It is more lofty than the rayon and has a matte finish.

Next, a silk organza.  I really wasn't thinking about using it for the challenge, but I needed a new press cloth so I ordered it up to help get to the 'free shipping' level!  It might find its way into one of the shirts, we'll see.

The luscious stuff next to the organza is a silk georgette heavily embellished with tropical leaf embroidery.  I was afraid it might be stiff, but it is wonderfully soft and drapy...I'm going to have to think hard about what to do with this one.  Maybe just look at it!

And finally a great handkerchief linen.  It washed up beautifully, as did the batiste and the rayon, and has that telltale crumple that screams "I'm linen."


As I pondered what to do for my March project, I realized that it is the detail that distinguishes a white shirt.  It would be easy to end up with a whole closet of the same shirt.  With that thought in mind I, decided to use both the linen and the batiste.  If they were two different colors I would say that I was going to 'color block' them to add interest to my shirt, but I'm not sure what you call it when all the fabrics are the same color?  Anyway, that was the concept I was going for.



I chose my cut-on-sleeve, pull-over top as a starting point.  I made the yoke seam before cutting out the pattern which gave me nice clean edges to work with.  Because the batiste was so sheer, the seams became a focal point.  I spent a lot of time measuring and folding to get them relatively the same width.  I was planning to use a twin needle to do the top stitching, but the zigzag that is created with the bobbin thread actually showed through the sheer seams, so I ended up doing double rows of single needle stitching to finish the seams.  The neck is finished with a bias facing of the batiste and I added linen cuffs to finish the sleeves.


I am very happy with my "color-blocked" white shirt.  I think the two fabrics are great together and the seam detail gives it some interest.  I think I will enjoy wearing this one.  No rest for the wicked...on to April!