Friday, November 29, 2013

Knitting By Booklight

We had a power outage last night. Five hours quite nicely timed. I had just finished sewing for the day and had gone upstairs, rolled two skeins of yarn into balls, and started knitting a new scarf. With nothing else to do, I got quite a lot done. The outage started out more isolated, got larger, and then was over. It was weird to be sitting in the dark when right outside our living room window the street light was on and you could see the lights of the city. This didn't last. The street light eventually went dark along with some more of the neighbors across the street.

That blue light is an LED book light. I put candles all around the room but the light wasn't strong enough for me to work with and propping a flashlight up is complicated and then I thought about clipping...

... the book light to the pole lamp behind the couch and that worked fabulously. Not that we get a lot of power outages in this area, this our first major one in two years, but I think I'll pick up a few more of those and... VBG... restock the candles.

Pre-outage, I worked on my grandson's coat. The thread color of the embroidery was perfect. I drew a line on the pattern across the yoke and square to the grain line, folded the pattern on the line, and matched it up to the letters, secured the tissue at the top, unfolded the pattern, pined the rest of the piece, and then cut out the entire piece. It worked well. The letters are centered and straight.

There's no official pattern for this coat. It's frankepatterned from bits and pieces of several patterns that were also drafted into smaller pieces. When I'm doing that kind of work, I check and double check my math and sometimes I'm right and sometimes I make a mistake. The zipper fit in perfectly - YES YES - and the bottom band was 1 1/4" too short and had to be re-cut. Depending what light you look at the coat in, it looks like I have the wrong side of the fabric or the nap running the wrong way. Sigh... oh well. It is what it is.

When I got to this stage with the double rows of turquoise embroidery at the zipper, I decided to use a zipper shield instead of a placket. It was too cute to hide.

After basting the shield in place, it was secured with the double rows of top stitching on the left side. Below, the band was cut double the width and then folded to the inside and secured by stitching in the ditch. I'll hand stitch the lining in place after I fix the sleeve.

When I made the prototype (minus band which is why I didn't know that measurement was off) I used a sleeve pattern with a shallow sleeve cap and then, when I switched from making a leather coat to this melton cloth one, I decided to use the sleeve and armhole from a Simplicity pattern with a nicer cap shape. It was traced, cut out, and stitched in when Carrie - a blog reader - forwarded me a link to the pattern a couple days ago asking if I'd seen it. I said yes, but be careful, I can't remember what the reviews say but the sleeve is either too long or too short. Yes... well... I wish I'd remembered that before I cut it out.

I reread the reviews and it's too short so I compared the sleeve length I had to a few other patterns and determined that I needed to add 1 1/4" so I'll add a cuff and that should work and go well with the bottom band. It's just a bit more fussy but that's okay. There's the cuff and then the lining and then the collar and I'm done. HOWEVER...

... today is really busy and I'm not sure if I'll have time on the weekend to finish and my daughter and grandson are coming on Monday. I don't want to rush and I don't want to show it to her until it's completely finished so there might be another break in completing it. My daughter and son-in-law just bought a townhouse and get possession on the 20th of January - yes, wasn't that nicely timed so that Mom had eleven days to paint before they moved in - so I'll be going there for two weeks and can deliver it then... meaning you might have to wait to see the finished project until the end of January. We'll see.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - LED book lights, electricity

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Gardom Pillow

It seems like I should write some kind of gift alert only I'd be shocked if either of my sons even remembers that I write a blog never mind the address so I doubt the recipient will see this. On the other hand, my daughter does read the blog and that's good since this is the only way she'll see the gift. They are celebrating their first Christmas together with baby in their own home which I think is fabulous even though it's not here. However... just in case... Kyle... stop reading... you'll spoil the surprise.... oh.... duh... the title probably gave it away. Sigh... oh well... as you know, I'm not really the secretive kind although, as I told one friend, you'd be surprised what I don't say.

A few days ago when I was discussing the weather with my cousin as all good Canadians do, I tried to describe how the sun was shining under the clouds down the valley. It's this layer of fluffy grey with a bright light underneath that makes the river shine silver. Very pretty for gloomy weather. Yesterday, I managed to capture it so I thought you might like to see as well. This is the view from my living room and studio.

The Gardom pillow started with a sweatshirt my son bought when he worked at the bible camp as a councilor. It's a very high end cotton and has a lovely durable feel. On the front, I cut the panel as wide as possible and then cut as high up from the logo to the neckline as I could and an equal distance below. The pillow form is 13" x 20" so I then trimmed the width to 21" for half inch seam allowances. I thought a rectangle would be fun, a little bit different, and would fit in the armchair in his room but also be great for cuddling naps... which twenty-year-old men still have... actually twenty-year-olds seem to sleep a lot ! ! ! 

On the back, I cut off the neckline and the bottom ribbing and then trimmed the width to 21" and marked the two holes with an X so I could avoid them. I needed a finished length of 26" plus 1" seam allowance for each seam. From the edge to the line by the first X was 8 3/4". I cut the strip there, finished the edge with serging, and attached a black zipper and then I took the edge farthest from the second X and attached it to the zipper going in the opposite direction. And then...

... I stitched the zipper section to the logo section and measured 27" (26" finished + 1" for the seam allowance) from the cut edge and marked where to make the second cut. As you can see...

... it just nicely missed the second hole. If it hadn't, I'd have added another seam and hidden the hole within it. I still had the two sleeves and the hood to work with so lack of fabric wasn't an issue. The pillow tube has two seams and the zipper. I used black thread to top stitch the seams 1/4" away and to stitch the zipper.

Here's a detail of the seam. When the around portion of the tube was finished, I folded it right sides together and centered the zipper against the logo panel. That meant the two seams are each 1 3/4" from the "edge" and both show every so slightly on the curve of the front.

Finished, it's a very cuddly pillow made from a refashioned sweatshirt. He's not expecting this. He knows I'm making pajama pants for his brother and I measured his waist too so he may be expecting those. I had wanted to make a Koos inspired...

... men's shirt for him except when I showed him the picture above, he didn't like them... which totally shocked me... because this is so his style. Perhaps it was the blurry picture... or the inability to see it in a "me" version. I may have to make one just to make one and see if he likes it but later, after Christmas. I have a few other things to sew first. The embroidery store called yesterday and the lining for my grandson's coat is ready earlier than I expected and perfectly timed for me to work on that next. YES YES

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - yesterday, I drove half an hour out of town to deliver a gift to a friend. I wasn't sure if she'd be home or if she'd be working (which she was, in her home based business) so I included a note of explanation - an apology - in case I had to leave the gift on her doorstep. I over-reacted to something she said a couple years ago and then life got messy with the cancer scare and the move and we've been out of touch since. I've missed her and wanted to say I'm sorry. When I arrived, pre-note, pre-gift, she gave me a big hug and said she'd been thinking about me a lot lately and had missed me and then she phoned after her client left and we had a good chat and set a lunch date for the week after next. I'm so glad I went.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Perfect Goldilock Thread

A friend asked me some interesting questions yesterday about the skirt to cardigan project - How do you feel about the piece now that it is done? What did you learn from it and where do you think you will go next? There's a much longer answer however, some of the aspects I enjoyed were the organic way in which it grew, the slow sewing, the step-by-step process without knowing the end result, and the curved flowing lines and hand stitching. Although the end is known, this Koos skirt has similar elements.

The front is composed of the upper yoke, the lower skirt, and the applique. The placement lines for the strings are drawn on each pattern piece. When I placed those over each other, the lines did not match - unless I'm seeing things again - or not seeing as the case may be - but I really did try to line them up. So... not that I wanted to be matchy matchy but the lines on piece seven, the applique, most closely resembled the position of the strings on the pattern envelope so I followed those by layering the original pattern piece over the sewn applique and then pinning along the placement lines and folding back the tissue and marking with chalk.

The strings are 5/8" strips of a cotton, 1 x 1, rib knit. The pattern calls for 3/4" strips which I think look too big and 1/2" seemed too small so I settled for this size. The edges are raw. I cut the strips with a rotary cutter so they're neat and even. In the image above, they are pinned in place. I hung the piece on the design wall so I could stare at it for a while and be sure I liked the placement.

The strings are hanging longer than needed. I chalked where the end should and cut off the excess once the main section was stitched in place eliminating the need to work with thin points of stretchy fabric.

Sorry this picture is blurry. I had three choices of basting thread - a grey, a grey-blue, and a bright blue. One was too light. One was too bright. And the other was the perfect - LOL - Goldilock thread. It was the same way with the fabric for the strings. I tried several different ones and the black was the best but too dark so I chose a lighter thread to stitch them in place with and to brighten and define them better.

I used the grey-blue embroidery cotton and a running stitch with very faint echoes of Alabama Chanin. I've admired her work for a long time and while this is definitely not in the same league, it was fun to experiment with and I'll learn to do by doing so good and enough.

Here's where the three strings overlap and you can see the cut channels in the applique underneath and the brown plaid peaking through. VERY fun. The front of the skirt is finished and I'm ready to start sewing the pieces together. Not today though. Today, I'm going to work on my son's pillow  since he's at work and I want it to be a surprise. 

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - the enjoyment of slow sewing, patting a project

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hip Unfriendly Garments

Yesterday was one of those moving like a turtle kind of days where I didn't get a lot done. What makes days like those? Why on one day can we do a million errands and sew a complete garment and on another day we're fiddling around and can barely get the pattern traced? I'm going to say it was the weather. In Canada, where we have weather, and talk about it all the time, the weather gets blamed for whatever can't be understood. It works.

Earlier this month, Shams posted Mixed Print Challenge - Koos Style. If you haven't already seen her skirt, she did an amazing job - like usual. Her work is very inspiring, a blend of great fit, technical skill, and creativity, exactly the direction I'm working toward. This skirt in particular has been on my sew list for the last year after seeing a Koos original in Marcy & Katherine's talk at Sew Expo. I've seen a few pieces of Koos' work lately and they've been a part of my learning about the quality of fabric and what it can do for a pattern/garment.

I bought the pattern in an OOP sale and was able to get the first two size ranges but not the last one... the one my hips fall into... only it didn't matter because there is so much ease in Koos' garments that you'll typically need to go down sizes - four in my case. The waist of the size 12 gave me 3 1/2" of ease so I traced that size, overlapped the side seam, measured the ease at hip level, and it was over sixty inches. LOL - this should be enough.

There are three fabrics - a main black print shown on the pattern envelope, a white print, and then an applique piece for center front. It wasn't until I started reading the pattern that I even realized there was an applique piece and that it was "treated". I just thought there were three fabrics plus the top fabric. Sigh.... guess I should put my glasses on.

Right about the time Shams posted, there was a sale on in the bargain center and I bought several pieces of wool suiting fabric for $2.50 a meter because it struck me that suiting fabric would put an interesting twist on this garment and since the idea was tickling, why not try it. The brown plaid bottom of the pile above has both a gold metallic and a silver metallic thread in it that makes for interesting contrast. It paired well with a black and tan plaid and a flocked knit. Briefly. When I saw...

... how the pieces went together and that I would need to match piece eleven on three sides to piece twelve, I substituted the darker black plaid in this second picture to save my sanity. I hate matching plaids at the best of times but definitely not on three sides. I can live with not matching this piece.

In the instructions, the applique piece is cut on the bias, lain over the joined front section, and channel stitched every half inch. I completely missed this direction because I had it in my head that they were going to do it differently. Isn't it strange how we can not see something because we think it's entirely different, even though it's there in black and white. I actually wrote Shams and asked about it and she had to point out that yes, the instructions are there. Duh.

The technique reminds me of making chenille for quilting. The point of cutting on the bias is to get soft edges that will ruffle but not fray. Since I was using a knit, I cut it out with the loops running up and down. Can you see the jagged edge in the picture above? That edge...

... gets even more jagged as you start cutting up the channels. NEXT TIME - I would cut to but not through the edge and I might finish the edges in some way such as stitching 1/8" away or zigzagging over so that they're still soft but there isn't this issue of flappy ends. To solve this problem, I did zigzag down the two long sides. The flocked fabric is gorgeous and piled together the fabrics worked. Sewn? I'm not so sure but I'm pushing onward.

While I'm relieved that there's enough hip room and the garment has a reasonable chance of fitting me, I planned to go ahead and sew it any way. Sewing is how I relax, distress, entertain myself, and so on. It's fun but not when you get too caught up in over thinking the details which I can do if I'm not careful. Lately, I've been making my best choices and then focusing on the enjoyment factor. It's muslining of a sort. I have the fun of sewing, can evaluate the finished garment, can sew a second one if I like what I see, and can sell/give away what doesn't work. My friend Caroline, whose body type is the opposite of mine, gets a lot of my hip unfriendly garments like the Sandra Betzina skirt.

My grandson sent me a letter yesterday saying how excited he is to come visit next week and told me all about the foods he's eating so I could go grocery shopping. He sent along this picture of the two of us taken in October when Grandma was really quite tired and even so, how fun. I'm looking forward to more snuggles.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a plan and a place of peace and calm around creativity

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Road Trip

My family moved to Kamloops when I was eight. Since then, I've moved around town a lot but I've never moved to a completely new town. It's something I'd like to experience and seems like it would be a grand adventure although I know in reality that it's more of a huge adjustment and quite lonely at times. I still want to try it.

On Saturday, I took a road trip to Revelstoke to visit my friend Francine. She moved there in the middle of October for her husband's new job and they're renting a small, out dated, really could use renovating but is typically rented out as a ski chalet, unit until they find a house to buy. Those owners are SO LUCKY because...

... Francine is not only a professional painter, she has an incredibly sense of style and design and in the past three weeks has been painting and updating and improving the space just so she can live there. It's still an ugly little rental unit on the outside but on the inside, it's already gorgeous and she's not quite finished. VERY inspiring.

At lunch, we discussed how Francine grew up. They lived on a farm miles outside of town in rural Quebec and yet decorating magazines came to take pictures of their home. Her Mom was an amazing decorator, had impeccable dress style, and was a fabulous cook. That describes Francine as well. I've always thought that when you're the second or third generation of a certain way of being that it's much easier to assimilate a way of life. There are many things I didn't learn growing up that I'm trying to learn now like being an artist or learning to cook more varied cuisine. It's harder but not impossible.

Revelstoke is about 2 1/2 hours away. The highway winds past lakes and through mountains and the drive is beautiful especially when the sun is shining and it's not snowing or raining... which is wasn't on Saturday... which was perfect.

This sign made me laugh. It's just on the outskirts of Kamloops as you're heading east. I love driving and especially by myself. When I get in the car and head down the road, I'm the only person I have to please and I revel in the freedom and irresponsibility. In my knitting and thinking time last week, I looked at the different choices I can make to have a bigger and fuller life. Getting out more was one. Love these confirmations.

Another conversation Francine and I had was about being widowed which might seem strange but I think it's one of those conversations that goes along with our age, menopause, and other realities of life. Francine knows two women who have been widowed, one a long time ago and one more recently. The first woman has remained stuck in the past and nothing in the present engages her. She's spent half her adult life miserable. The second woman grieved for a time and then redecorated her home, is taking workshops to learn new skills, has traveled to locations where she doesn't speak the language, and is interacting on a broader scale. We decided we wanted to be more like the second woman however, we're both introverts so at the same time we're thankful to have an art form that engages us.

Revelstoke does NOT have a fabric store. Obviously, there's no way I could live there - LOL - but Francine doesn't sew, she paints walls and fabulous paintings and the first thing she checked for was an art store. They do have one of those. The nearest fabric store is in Salmon Arm, about an hour away back toward Kamloops. On the trip home, I had half an hour before they closed. The piece above is knit, black and white, and paisley. It's darn near perfect.

In this stack, the fabric below the paisley is a linen, rayon, spandex blend and below that is a piece of grey wool suiting and below that is a black and grey striped dupioni and below that is a piece of black melton cloth that used to have a swirling black on black design only it washed out. I bought the linen blend and the melton cloth in Kamloops at the sale on Friday and my friend Patti gave me the dupioni so only the grey and the paisley came from Salmon Arm. LOL - I did only have half an hour.

Yesterday, I worked on the pajama pants for my oldest son. They're finished except for the elastic. I also started on a gift for my youngest son turning one of his favorite sweatshirts that no longer fits into a pillow. While I'm picking up elastic for the pants, I'll check for a larger, rectangular pillow form and see how big this pillow could be - LOL. He's a lounging young man, this should work and will - I hope - be a good surprise because he thinks the sweatshirt went to the second hand store.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - safe travels

Friday, November 22, 2013

Don't Be A Didn't Do

For anyone who is going through a stressful situation, I heartily recommend knitting. Not only can you stab away at the stitches when you want to, after the stress has leveled out there is something both calming and therapeutic about pulling loops through loops.  It's not about making anything specific or beautiful. It's simply about providing a resting place for tension while the hands are busy and the mind resolves.

The weather has turned cold. Yesterday, I ignored most everything and spent the day curled up on the studio couch knitting and thinking about many of the thoughts in today's posting. It's not at all about sewing and contains spiritual content and might - I'm sorry - be considered preachy but these are some things that I feel strongly about so if non sewing, spiritual, and possibly preachy is not your thing, please take a minute to admire my adorable grandson before clicking away. See, he's sitting on the quilt that Grandma made from the refashioned quilt originally made for his Mom. VERY fun.

Every morning I go to Starbucks to study, journal, and pray on paper. I'm there for about an hour and spend half of that time focused on studying creativity and half on spirituality. I've worked my way through a variety of books and have been amazed and grateful at how God has provided answers in advance to questions I didn't know I was going to ask. When life went topsy turvy a few weeks ago, my study shifted to match at exactly that time and when I finished the study, the next one, which I'd already purchased, was exactly what I needed.

I'm reading When God Doesn't Make Sense by Dr. James Dobson, a man of integrity who I greatly admire. I bought the book without previewing it simply because it caught my eye and he was the author. It's about knowing that God can do that thing that we wish he would do only he isn't and why. Is it me? Doesn't he love me? Aren't I worthy? Doesn't he care? Dr. Dobson refers to this as the betrayal barrier and says it's the point at which many people abandon their faith because they have a false impression of God and what he can and what he will do.

The part I read yesterday contained a quote by scientist Stephen Hawking - If you are disabled, you should pour your energies into those areas where you are not handicapped. You should concentrate on what you can do well, and not mourn over what you cannot do. And it is very important not to give in to self-pity. If you're disabled and you feel sorry for yourself, then no one is going to have much to do with you. A physically handicapped person certainly cannot afford to be psychologically handicapped as well.

While most of us are not disabled like Stephen is, it occurred to me that we are all disabled in some way - that there are things in our lives that happen, that feel imposed on us, that we would really rather not deal with, and yet we have no choice. Those things are in essence our disability and looked at from that perspective, Stephen's advice makes excellent sense. Our choices are to focus on what we don't have and can't do and risk slipping into a wallowing pity party no one wants to attend or to focus on what we do have and can do and make our own lives richer.

The painting above is of a friend and I and was painted by her daughter for my birthday. This particular friend is going through a very difficult time dealing with the differing - and not complimentary in any way - illnesses of her aging parents. She's a mess and I'm very concerned about her and have spent as much time as she's able to take away from them to go for coffee, have her over for dinner, and talk. And as I told her, it's not that I want her to be going through this experience but I am thankful to be able to invest my energy in supporting and encouraging her and to focus less on feeling sorry for myself. As perky and annoying as that advice can be, it is true that we can often help ourselves by helping someone else.

We're instructed to help carry one another's burdens. I've been thinking a lot about what does that mean in reality as opposed to theory and had the opportunity to discuss it with one of the ministers - Dave - from our church the other day. I asked him to tell me what that looked like and he answered with the giving of requests and when I said no, tell me about the answering of requests, he struggled and offered things like making a meal or giving money. Practical. Easy. Things that are quickly over and done with.

These things do not go unappreciated but what about the less practical tasks like sitting with and through a hard situation, over a long, extended and emotional period, and then picking up the fragile pieces and helping to put them back together? The subjective, emotional, messy tasks where there are no easy answers. Ah, he said. In my opinion - and he agreed - being too busy, having poor money management, and an unwillingness to ask the hard questions and do the tough stuff are fabulous devil tools that are preventing the church - as in those who believe - from being as amazing as it can be.

I haven't gone to church - the building - in eighteen months. I got tired of walking in and out when it didn't matter whether I was there or not. There is nothing worse than being lonely in a crowd, especially in a church. That no one has phoned since substantiates my point and the odd time that I've run into someone from church, they say something along the lines of haven't seen you lately but they do not ask WHY haven't I seen you lately. I wonder are they making an observation or asking a question? Why is the important question. It's the one that makes mattering.

Not everyone is like me and inclined to study for an hour a day or if they are, not everyone has the option to do so and not everyone has a "church" in their friends who will continue to support them building or not. In that way, I am lucky and even so - in my opinion - there are many hurt souls who have abandoned or are desperately trying to hang on to their faith in the face of this not mattering. We've become such a shallow culture that even the church is becoming all surface and no depth.

Dave - the minister - told me that he'd thought of me several times over the past eighteen months but hadn't phoned. I asked him if I was a hard person - as in hard to deal with - and he said no but you're intense and then apologized as if intense was a bad thing. When I asked him if I was intimidating, he said yes, but that that was not about me, it was about him to which I replied yes, but those are my consequences. When he allows himself to be intimidated by whatever it is in me that he feels is lacking in him, to the point that he cannot make the call that God is prompting him to make, it's not him that loses. It's me who didn't get the call, me who didn't feel seen, me who wasn't missed, me who didn't matter, me who wasn't encouraged. That might sound like self-pity. It's not. I'm simply using myself as an example because I'm not alone. That's the reality for many people and it is not at all what God had in mind. When he puts someone on our mind, he wants us to make the call.

My friend and I were comparing her situation with her parents to mine. There are similarities and we have a great deal of empathy for what each other is going through. We agreed that it's like you are drowning and there is a crowd of people on the shore of which a huge portion have turned away and are not paying attention. A few are talking out of the sides of their partially covered mouths while pointing. A few others are throwing life preservers your way only they fall short of the mark and you're left still drowning because these are not actually life preservers; they are cover my butt and now I can run in the opposite direction statements like you're so strong, you can handle this... or I'm praying for you and some good souls are but most don't mean it or... God never gives us more than we can handle so you'll be okay. Let me tell you from experience that NO ONE going through a tough situation wants to hear that verse and just to clarify, that's not actually what it says. It says we will go through tough situations, we will not be able to handle them, and we will need to turn to God. And guess what? We who are listening to his voice are God's hands and feet on earth. If someone is on your mind, there's a reason.

A hurting person wants to be seen and acknowledged. They don't want to be alone and abandoned. They want someone to hug them, tell them yes this hurts, and yes it's shitty, and I'm sorry and even I don't know what to say, and then just sit and be still. They do not want a gazillion solutions shoveled their way. This is not the time for solutions. This is the time for sympathy and hopefully empathy. If the problem could be solved easily in two minutes flat, the hurting individual would have thought about it by now. They didn't suddenly turn stupid.

AND... we are to do something when God asks us to do something.

When my husband was first ill years ago, one of his friends came to visit and as he was leaving he asked me to let him know if I needed anything. Poor man. His timing was off. I was exhausted. My husband was just about to go to a very expensive, private clinic in the United States and I did not know if he'd be coming back alive. I was staying home for months, alone with those worries and three young children, a lot of responsibilities, and no income and this friend wanted me to call him. I said no.

I said don't ask me to be responsible for you helping me. Don't ask me to be the vulnerable one and have to ask when you might say no. If you are paying your bills and you think about me. God is telling you I have bills. If you are buying groceries and you think about me, God is telling you I need groceries. If your kids are going to an event that costs money and you think about me, God is telling you that my kids are going to the same event and it's going to cost me money. I told him it's your responsibility to listen and do what God is asking you to do and not mine to have to ask. He was taken aback but he thought about what I was saying and then he replied that I was right and went on to help me in surprising and thoughtful ways I will never forget over the next few months.

Some times it is our job to ask but mostly it's our job to listen. All of us - me included - have ignored a niggling. We've been too busy or afraid or we didn't want to do that task or the emotions seemed too much or whatever our response was but the bottom line is that when God puts a need on our mind, we are meant to pick up the phone, write the email, pay the bill, buy the groceries, babysit the child, hug the wounded, sit with the lonely, do the task. That tangible action is supporting and encouraging; it is bearing one another's burdens and it gives a completely different message than telling someone I was thinking about you but didn't have time to call or I was thinking about you but didn't have time to write.

If you're going through a difficult time and want a sad laugh, track those didn't do messages and hopefully you'll be encouraged by the many hearts God knocked on to meet your need. Don't be a didn't do. Life is about relationships - with God, with yourself, with others. Part of life's journey is supporting and encouraging one another. Make the call.

And this ends my little sermon, climbing down off my soap box, thanks for listening

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - love and support

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Little Boy Playable

When I started sewing the leather coat, I didn't like the way the fabric performed especially around the armhole. It puckered and showed creases and looked like it wouldn't have much longevity so I changed my mind... again... and bought something called kashmir coating that is 80% polyester and 20% rayon and feels like a melton cloth only is more washable.

It's black which meant the zipper I planned to use with the bronze teeth and tab was not the best match. There are three or four different options for bronze teeth. With silver teeth, the only option was the ring. For an exposed zipper that might work but I'm contemplating whether I want the zipper exposed with a shield underneath or hidden with a placket over top. I want it to be comfortable, and little boy playable. Which do you think would work best?

With the original leather version, when I topstitched the underarm seam, I got the zipper foot and needle stuck and had to tug to remove the garment. I think that's when the hole occurred. This time, I removed the needle and presser foot each time to slide the pile of fabric out without damage and it worked great. The top stitching is turquoise and seems just right - fun but not feminine.

In the end, I made inseam pockets, no zipper. My mind wasn't up to new challenges so instead I enjoyed a job well done. I like how neat it is and the bemberg lining is sturdy enough for little hands and rocks and other fantastic finds. Do you find yourself "patting" your work and admiring when you've done a job well done? I think that's so important - to celebrate our skills and be thankful for them because each one took time and investment to develop and each now enables us on new adventures. I love how sewing is cumulative and continues to grow and develop.

My oldest son asked for new pajama pants for Christmas. I rarely sew for other people but this seems to be a gift that is appreciated so they're fun to make only the pattern has gone missing... which is really strange since I always put them back in the same place... and I'm sure it'll show up as soon as I finish the pajama pants... but since that's after as opposed to before I bought McCall's 4244 - a man's pattern - not a the whole family pattern - and not a misses, men's, teen's and dog pattern. That made me laugh.

Aryck is extremely conservative and told me to pick the fabric. The choice narrows considerably when you're shopping for flannel for a man plus I refuse to complicate pajamas by matching plaids BUT... I'm sure he'll be pleased to know that I resisted the hot pink and the lime green I so desperately wanted to buy - LOL - and settled for these stripes. I'm still deciding which two but definitely the purple for that fun little artist inside of him that's dancing up and down eager to get out. He wants a desk with lights in it that changes color ! ! !

I'm not sure if I'll start on the pajamas today. Probably, because I can't finish the coat until I take the lining in and have my grandson's name and date of birth embroidered on it.... in turquoise... now that I've finally decided this version is working. When I had the coat in the fabric store yesterday, it was voted so... SO... cute. That works.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - an answer, not one we expected, not one I like, difficult.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Get Out Of Town

Quite a few years ago , I took a speakers workshop with Florence and Marita Littauer. It was fabulous. They have a duh, of course kind of way of pulling and presenting materials that once learned, transfers itself to many different tasks. I came away from the event energized and far more educated about myself. In particular, I thought I was already a pretty good speaker only, in reality, and in comparison to the skills of others in the workshop, I was just a beginner.

Two years ago, I went to the Design Outside the Lines workshop with Marcy Tilton and Diane Ericson. It was fabulous. These women understand the creative process and are able to share it in a yes, I can do that too kind of way. The workshop was full of women who love to do what I love to do which was an usual and delightful experience for me. I came away excited and enthused, ready to do the work. AND...

... I came away with the realization that I wasn't as creative as I thought I was. I've talked about this before, about how up until then I'd been head of the class and rarely exposed to people who were more creative than I am. It's a paradigm shift when that happens and I've thought about this a lot since and my conclusion is, it's good to be a beginner. I want more experiences like that because when I surround myself with the work of people who are more creative than I am and when I get the opportunity to spend time with people who excel at being creative, I am inspired to dig deeper within myself. I think that's an important realization when you've lived in the same small town for forty-four years. If you want to grow in new and different ways, you need to get out of town.  

And then there's balance, something we're always seeking and rarely sustain. When I apply the concept of balance to the creative process, there's something energizing, stretching, and challenging about taking my fashion sewing in new directions and there's something comforting and sustainable about directions already taken. While I enjoyed sewing the coat, I'm not sure the energy and intensity of working on a garment like that would be sustainable garment after garment. In fact, I don't think it is. I think it needs interruptions of the comforting kind like this skirt. It's Burda 8213 and was the source of the paisley knit scraps used in the coat. It's wonderfully comfortable, easy to wear, and has beautiful weight and drape even though it isn't the best of quality fabric. I bought it because it has a paisley print that I'm forever drawn to just as I am to this style of skirt and to black and to soft and to.... Knowing what we're drawn to is the counterpoint to what excites and challenges us. Both are important.

Recently, Howard and I were talking about bucket lists and the things we'd like to do. At the time, neither of us had a very long list and both of us had a mental list. I think I should starting writing things down. Since our talk, I've thought of other things that should be on the list, thing I've thought of off and on for years like taking a modeling class. When I started blogging is when I started to think about modeling classes which means almost ten years ago already. I'm extremely self conscious having my picture taken and would love to learn how to walk and hold myself and how to move freely and feel more comfortable in front of the camera. Sourcing this picture, I learned that older models are all the thing. You never know - LOL - perhaps I have another career ! ! !  Not really, I just think learning how to model would be fun and provide a confidence that would benefit me in so many ways. I'd also like...

... to have a really good make-over with an artist who knows what they're doing, someone who can not only look at my face and know the best way to show it to advantage but someone who can do that while keeping in mind my personality and how I want to project myself while pushing me to be a little bit more and - at the same time - teaching me those skills so I can duplicate the look. I don't want much do I... oh... and affordable would be nice too ! ! ! ! !

I think perhaps modeling and make-up might be attainable with another item(s) on my list - to visit the garment districts in San Francisco, New York, and Toronto. These seem like the kinds of places  outside of my little town where I could learn this skills and stretch and challenge and grow myself and at the same time learn more about who I am and what's important to me. That has been an interesting counter-balance to the challenge.

Each time I'm exposed to something new, I have to evaluate on some level how it relates to me and how I want to live my life. With sewing fashions, in the last few years I have seen some incredibly well sewn garments that challenge my technical skills and I've seen some fabulously creative garments that challenge my artistic skills and I've looked at garments I would actually wear and garments I'd enjoy the challenge of sewing but would never wear. Right now, I'm thinking about where those two meet and what that means to my 2014 goal.
What about you? Do you have a bucket list? Is it written down? Would you like to share anything from your list?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - the challenge to grow, a love of learning

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Do It Right

If you're going to do it, do it right sounds like something a mother would say in the middle of one of those you need to do better lectures... and it is... and it's also a great approach to creativity especially when you're working in a step-by-step process like I was with this coat. This first choice is not always the best choice.

The black waistband was 2" wide. My math must have been off - plus my eyesight - the day I sewed that on because my intention was for it to be about an inch wide. I vaguely recollect intending to trim it down later only I'd already sewn the skirt on before I remembered. Adding a strip of the paisley softened the chunky look of the thick black and blended the upper and lower sections of the coat.

My goal all along was for a soft, cardigan-ish like sweater-coat. When I added the stretch woven lining, it completely changed the feel of the garment to one I didn't like so I replaced that lining with one sewn from the polka dot knit and used the selvage to finish the bottom hem. It has a soft, flannel-like finish.

The original button band was too wavy. I wanted it to lay flatter and felt it needed more definition between the green squares and the paisley fabric. It was faster to make a new band than to pick the original one apart. You can see the start of the new one underneath. With interfacing, it lay much nicer. I used 1/8" strips of silk dupioni with zigzag stitching on top to separate the green and paisley and bias strips to wrap the edge. You can see that further down.

Originally, I wanted lime button holes with black buttons. There wasn't a thread in my extensive stash that worked well and in the end I used black thread only...

... black over lime is not usually dense enough to cover the way I'd like it to. I colored in the spaces with black felt pen.

There were no new frontiers conquered with the collar. It's a plain collar, the same fabric as the skirt with serging and lime-green zigzag around the edges which brings the skirt theme upward and helps to blend the elements. The under collar is the polka dot knit and the collar band is the black and grey check. I attached the collar the wrong way around the first time. It would have folded to the inside. BUT...

... in the end, it was done and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. THANK YOU so much for the comments. I wore the coat out yesterday and was stopped several times so it definitely attracts attention which was fun and a nice reward for all the work.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - sew slowing, fun projects