Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A Very Simple Sew

Since I've been visiting my daughter and her family for the past ten days, I haven't been sewing BUT... while my friend Caroline was visiting... and before I left on this trip... and along with the Jessica purse... I finished a t-shirt - Butterick 6136 - which looks significantly shorter on the model than on my dress form.

The finished length is 27" and my typical length is 23". A difference of four inches is quite substantial but I decided to try it anyway and see if it was tunic-able. It feels way too long so I contemplated sewing an underdress with lace edging similar to the pictures I show at the end of this posting until...

... I saw this picture of me wearing it and, slightly messy hair aside, those stripes aren't working for me so... no dress. Instead, I'll sew a pair of black pj pants to go with and this will become another pajama top. And then I'll try this tunic length in another fabric with the under-dress as well as shorten the pattern and sew it again as a t-shirt. It's a great design and a very simple sew.


While she was here, Caroline bought a fabulous black knit top. I took some pictures of the details. I liked that it was pieced using the same fabric which was a current them in ready-to-wear. The right front has a curved seam leading into a pocket with a top band, a gathered pouch, and some leather fringes hanging from the button. The left front is pieced with an overlay and has an overlapped and top stitched princess seam. It's simple and copy-able.

In another store, I saw this dress that combines parts of a sweater with yardage. The under-dress has several layers of what appears to be lace only they are pieces of knitting. The yoke, those beige curves at the sides, and the cuffs are parts of a sweater. I love the idea. I have a sweater from the thrift store that would be a good starting point and plenty of yarn for the knitting. This could be another project for achieving my goal of combine knitting and yardage.

My holiday is over and tomorrow it's back to work in the studio. I did a lot of knitting while I was away and a lot of imaginary sewing and - now - I certainly have a lot of ideas that I'm looking forward to creating.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - pajama muslins and new top ideas

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Jessica Purse

My everyday purse is a basic black, practical, easily organized, simple purse. It has clean lines, architecture, and a powerful lining much like my preferred garments combined with a statement necklace. I have more purses in all sorts of colors and shapes but the everyday one is the one I use all the time.

My daughter prefers purses with patterns like zebra print and bling like studs and snaps. Her favourite one was so badly worn that I literally took it away from her for fear she'd keep using it. I promised to make her another one. And then things got in the way. And it took me longer than I'd intended BUT... I finished the prototype before coming to visit and now she can try it out, see what she thinks, and choose her own fabric for the "real" version.


An aspect that is quite difficult - and more so because I live in a small town - is finding hardware. I found two purses at the thrift store that I bought purely for the hardware. One had six buckles and four D-rings and the other had four buckles and two very firm straps that could be recovered. They were $1.25 each. One plain, ordinary, nothing too fancy, buckle at the fabric store was $3.50. NICE savings.

For the prototype, I chose a black and grey leather-ish looking fabric that is 97% polyester and 3% spandex. The stretch ended up being a bit of a problem but I did manage to work with it. Here it is finished and I'm quite pleased with how close it is to the original.

The snaps from the fabric stores were totally useless IMHO, definitely not the kind of quality I would have wanted even if they'd managed to snap closed... which they didn't... so I ended up adding a button. I debated a buttonhole only when I called Jessica to ask her how often she unsnapped the side to fully open the bag she said, it unsnapped? Hmm... I think that means never - VBG. The button works perfectly.

Where I had trouble with the stretch was along the zipper edge. I sewed the zipper in four times. The first time, the two edges were different lengths. The second time, they were far too ripply and looked really cheap. The third time, I fused non-stretch interfacing along the edge and sewed the zipper in perfectly... sort of... unless you count that it was upside-down. The four time worked great.

I slip stitched the top of the lining to the stitching line of the zipper so that it would be evenly space along the top and then...

... top stitched from the lining side using pink thread on the top and black thread in the bobbin. Because of how I'd placed the lining, the second row of stitching on the front was parallel to the first.

The zipper is two way so no matter how she throws the purse over her shoulder, it'll be easy to open which is really good when you have two small children and not a lot of time for fussing. I couldn't find buckles the correct size for the straps I'd already made which taught me to gather the hardware first although I did get the straps through the largest D-rings I could find in a mostly smooth way. I'd intended to finish them with glitzy buttons only after I'd sewn two on, I thought they looked cheap and crafty in a bad way and my friend Caroline - who was visiting - agreed so I took them off. I have silver studs for the real version.

All in all, I think the Jessica Purse turned out great. Since it's a prototype, I'll be making another one and usually the second one is easier. That's good.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - snuggling grandbabies

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

All Is Lost

Your success came from God and from inside you - what God put inside you, how he gifted you, the opportunities he put in front of you, and what you have developed: your heart, your mind, your soul, your strength, your talents, your energy - all of which are still there.

The quote above is from Henry Cloud's book Never Go Back. It's full of practical, every day, common - but somehow uncommon - advice that makes life so much easier when we truly grasp it. In the quote above, he's talking to a client who is facing being downsized out of a job he'd worked particularly hard to get, was good at, and loved. The client sees everything as lost. Henry is explaining that all the reasons he got that job in the first place still exist and will move with him to whatever comes next. It resonated. I remember that all is lost feeling and how overwhelming it was when I lost a job I loved. It was as if I'd worked so hard, for so long, and all for nothing. Those overwhelming feelings made me reluctant to try again and yet there's another point in that paragraph, the phrase and what you have developed.  It reminds me to keep growing my skills and sharing them and to keep looking for the opportunities that will be put in front of me.

In our last coaching session, Diane asked me to take the best of the pendants I'd made, compare it to my (current) favourite necklace, and look at the differences. Right away, I can see that one is open and the other tightly closed, one is dull and the other reflective, one is more three dimensional and the other more two dimensional. It's interesting learning and leads to the question of is it possible for me to achieve with fabric what I like in jewelry and if so, how? Right now, I'm taking a break from jewelry and focusing on clothing but it's an interesting question to ponder.

I sewed a second version of Butterick 5925, this time focusing on the pockets and seam lines. I raised the hemline on the pocket 1 1/2" so that the double rows of stitching on the pocket hems and the t-shirt hem would create a design element. I top stitched the side seams for the same reason. Even though I had fused, turned, pressed, and pinned the hemline, it didn't lay flat. There are ripples, there and along the side seams. I'm not happy with the results but even if the t-shirt can't be rescued, the fabric can and can become something else. The "all is not lost" aspect of refashioning is a wonderful thing.


When I was at the thrift store the other day, I found a second sweater in the same color as the one I'd pulled apart the week before. Since this "new" sweater had the same small cable pattern that was so complicated, I knew for a fact that I wouldn't be unraveling it but I bought it anyway because I am working on learning how to successfully combine yardage and knitting into one garment. This is a fabulous starting point, especially for the $2.50 total. I've already spent 7 1/2 hours pulling the one sweater apart. That's $0.33 a hour in entertainment time and going down! ! ! LOVE THAT. There are so many ways to entertain ourselves with creativity that are energizing and inexpensive. Even if what I end up with is not at all wearable, this is cheap entertainment, less expensive than going out for coffee, to a movie, for dinner, to lunch with a friend, or even reading a book.

I'm working on a prototype of my daughter's favourite purse. I have the zipper and handles to add and the lining to tack inside and it's finished. The fabric I'm using has a some stretch and that's creating issues. I won't do that again. This version won't have all the bling of the original because I don't want to spend that much time - or money - until I know that she likes how it turned out. The two way zipper was $26 but luckily 40% off this past weekend and even that price is okay if she loves it so much that she wears it out like the one I'm copying. I stole the original away for fear she'd keep using it - VBG - since it is far more tattered than this picture shows.

I'm making progress on the vest. I'm using a purple merino wool and silk combination yarn that I bought YEARS ago when I'd just returned to knitting. I can't remember what I paid for it but I do remember it was significantly reduced and that I couldn't figure out how many balls to buy so I bought them all - 32 in total. Without the sleeves, I'll use about fifteen on this project and if I add the sleeves, even more. Suddenly thirty-two doesn't look so unreasonable even if it was a "panic" purchase.

I bought two other sweaters at the thrift store - both beige. I want to over-dye them a more Myrna color and then work forward into a refashioned garment. But not right now. I'm busy until the end of the month. I have a friend visiting this week and then I'm off to snuggle my grandbabies and their parents. YES YES.


Last night, I cut out a version of Butterick 6136. I really like the princess seams and flattering lines of this t-shirt. The fabric I chose had an abstract stripe on it. Yardage was tight so the stripe is vertical on center front and back and on the sleeve and horizontal on the side panels. Hopefully that works or I'll have another pajama top... which is fine. It'll all work out somehow.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - all is not lost

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Resistance & Reality

Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt. We experience it as an energy field radiating from a work-in-potential. It's a repelling force. It's negative. Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work. If you believe in God (and I do) you must declare Resistance evil, for it prevents us from achieving the life God intended when He endowed each of us with our own unique genius. - Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

One of the ways that I pretest t-shirt patterns is by sewing pajama tops. The one is from Katherine Tilton's Butterick 5925. The dots are fun and I wouldn't mind a "real" top with them but this fabric didn't have quite enough stretch so it's somewhat tight in the bicep and I was a bit more careful choosing fabric this time.

The flair comes from a godet in the side seam. In the pattern, it also has a pocket which I did sew into the pajama top but left out of this version. Next time.

The fabric is a narrow black and grey stripe. I told my husband it might make me look like an aging jail bird! It's silky and has a fair amount of drape and looks better on me than the dress form. One of my dress forms is slightly too big and one is slightly too small and I'm reluctant to redial them because I have no idea where my weight is going at the moment. Right now, the small one works better for my upper body and the larger one works better for my lower body so the perfect scenario would be to take the top of one and add it to the bottom of the other and get a better representation of my actual figure. This is the top on the wrong dress form.

The final neckline uses the selvage of the fabric. I sewed the strip on, turned it to the inside, and used a twin needle to stitch it place allowing the edge of the fabric to curve over the seam. It's very simple although...

... deciding on it wasn't. I explored different neckline options and tried this and that without too much success. I kept thinking things like too fluffy or too much contrast or too frou-frou for me which had me thinking about resistance... and reality.

Was I resisting change or was I truly tuning in to my preferred style?

The thing is, I know my style. While I want to shake it up, I'm not trying to eliminate my preference for simple, architectural shapes with clean lines. Nor do I want to stop adding colorful accessories and in particular statement necklaces. High contrast and frou-frou necklines are the statement; no necklace necessary. I am good at what I'm good at because I enjoy those things. If I want to continue enjoying them with new energy, that means creating with a version of reality that pushes the edges but doesn't burst the cage.

I'm currently knitting the blue vest above left. It's a basic rectangular shape with slits for the armholes and optional sleeves that turn it into the red coat. That rectangle is a blank canvas that could be filled in a myriad of ways both with knitting and with knit or woven fabrics. As soon as I saw the diagram, my mind was off and running with ideas for vests and at the same time still stuttering around the jewelry. It may be that making textile jewelry is not the thing for me. I'm not quite ready to say that yet but if I do, it certainly won't be from lack of trying only right now, I'm going back to sewing clothes for a while. Not only do I need some, but those ideas are tickling really Really REALLY loud. YES YES and fabric and yarn are definitely my thing.

The sweater unraveled into yarn has been knit into a triangle scarf. This scarf seems to be my fall back pattern because it's so easy for knitting in public, or while talking to a friend, or while watching TV. Right now, I'm also working on a larger scarf from black cotton that I hope to wear with some of my architectural clothes. I badly - BADLY - need some pants but that's not what's next. First I'm working on another version of the t-shirt and then it'll be the prototype of my daughter's purse.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - freedom