Sunday, December 31, 2006


See how nicely the pants in this ensemble hug the model's shapely legs?

Yeah, well, they had a little help.

Can you believe no one at Kwik Sew caught this before it was uploaded to their website?

So ladies, if you find yourself having trouble with pants fitting, just grab a couple of huge clamps. That seems to do the trick. ;-)

Saturday, December 30, 2006

His and Hers

My sister has great taste in gifts.

One for us.

And one for me.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Fly Topstitching

In a recent comment, Lorna asked if I used a template for the topstitching on my jeans fly. The answer is YES! Unfortunately, I can't seem to locate an internet source or even a reference for the notion(s) that I use so I don't know if it's still available. I don't remember where I bought it, but it's likely either Joann's or Nancy's Notions. I also don't know who makes it as there are no brand markings on the templates. Big lotta help I am, huh?

Still, I thought I would show you the template(s) and how I use them. If you ever see these for sale, I'd advise you to scoop them up. Also, if you're already familiar with these and know who makes them, please let me know. Edited to add: Thanks Belinda for a link to a source for these templates. You Rock!

This is the set of templates. With these two pieces, markings and measurements for 4 common fly widths are included, 3/4", 1", 1-1/4", and 1-1/2". There are also length markings on each end of the templates. I don't use those as my flys are always sized … er … on the fly. ;-) The circles are finger & thumb grips.

On the underside of each template are pointy "grabber" thingies. These hook into the center front seam gently, but strongly enough so that the template doesn't move.

This shows the template hooked onto the fold of the demo fabric. If this were an actual center front seam, the pointy grabbers would be hooked into the seam ditch. After the template is in place, I trace around the template with my chacoliner. The templates are made to be sewn around using a zipper foot, but I like tracing and just following my line. Less chance of cracking my template that way.

This is the chalk line tracing. I topstitch on this line using an open toe or a clear foot. If the fly is to have double topstitching as in the example at the top, I'll use a "toe" of the presser foot butted up next to that first stitching line for placement and my machine's needle positioning to adjust the spacing if necessary.

Since we're talking about fly topstitching templates, I thought I'd point out that zipper packaging includes a template. If you open the package carefully and then trim the bottom curve with scissors to finish the curve, you can use the back flap as a tracing template. These templates are 1-1/4" wide.

Oh, and here's a pic mentioned in a PR thread and nabbed from the Nieman Marcus website. These pants sold for $270. Is that $1 per pucker??

Mad-Dash New Top

Well, I did it. Wednesday night I quickly made a top to wear to the family outing on Thursday. And I love it! I already said that my first version of this top was my new favorite and this confirms it. I love this pattern (from Burda WOF, 06/2005 #111). Now I think this one is my new favorite.

I had to scratch my head a bit before I decided how to make this one. Not because of the pattern, but because of the fabric(s). As the photos below show, the body of top is made from two separate fabrics. The outer fabric is a very sheer, very soft mesh knit. The underlayer is a solid fleshtone nylon blend knit, with properties very similar to EmmaOneSock's buttermilks but a bit lighter-weight.

I decided to treat the two fabrics as one. My original idea was to make the outer layer "float" over the underlayer at the bottom bodice sections but, frankly, I was short on time and sewing them as one throughout the whole construction process was just quicker. It turned out really well so I'm happy with my decision. The top fabric even still "floats" over the underlayer when I move. It's a nice effect.

The photo below shows the underside of the top. Yes, I'm still with the brown serger thread. Hey, I said I was pressed for time. OK, and lazy too. ;-)

When we showed up at my mom's cousin's house today, my mom immediately started telling cousin Susan, "Debbie made that top. Isn't it pretty?" Now I hadn't seen my mom in a couple of months and she doesn't read my blog, so of course I had to ask her how she knew as soon as I walked in the door that I had made the top. Mom's answer? "Well, I know you make all of your clothes now so I figured you had made that too." LOL! Nice little backwards compliment, I think.

Here's a pic of me in the top after our return. Pardon the wrinkled pants.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Jeans, (Last) Installment #5

Here are the finished hems. Not much to them. Measure, cut, overlock, press up, and topstitch.

The jeans are done and will be worn on a family outing tomorrow. I'm hoping I can "whip up" a new top tonight. If not, I'll pull something from the drawer.

Front view (hemmed a tad long to compensate for residual shrinkage):

Waistband and re-opened pocket (and boy is my top twisted or what?):

Rear view:

Jeans, Installment #4

Next up is finishing the waistband. I pinned the facing down and tried them on again to be sure I didn't need any more adjustments.

With the final fit complete, I pressed the inside facing hem allowance up and then stitched in the ditch from the right side to tack the facing in place. The topstitching will finish the bottom edge of the extended tab.

As a side note, when doing laundry today I noticed DS' RTW pants. Or, actually, the *inside* of DS' pants. This waistband facing was turned and sewn just like mine, except a chainstitch was used on his and the button "section" of the waistband was pieced with the outside fashion fabric. I'm wondering why about the button section — is it for form or for function? I also disagree with how they made the pockets right-side out, so that when you actually look inside the pockets you are seeing the wrong side of this print. I suppose it looks better on the rack this way, but still. BTW, you can click on any photo, including this one, for a bigger version.

With the facing stitched down, topstitching and buttonholes are next.

I also topstitched the center back seam for the "jeans look."

Next, buttons. This one was sewn on by machine. The one inside had to be sewn by hand. Ugh. It also doesn't match this button, but it doesn't need to.

Nearing completion, it's time for those back pockets. I temporarily pinned them where I thought they should be and then tried on the pants and looked at my butt in the mirror. I adjusted the pockets a little after seeing where they first landed and then did the mirror check again. With placement decided, I used Wonder Tape to stick them in place while sewing.

The pockets are now topstitched, bartacked, and a little "design" using one of my machine's deco stitches was sewn at the bottom of the right-cheek pocket.

Measuring for and then sewing the hems is the only step remaining. That step has actually already been done but I've had to run some errands today and haven't had a chance to take the final pics. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Jeans, Installment #3

I sewed the back darts and decided to sew the sideseams with a regular stitch and then baste the inseams and crotch seam, a "quasi" baste. That way if the fit is as I'm expecting, I won't have to rip out the sideseam stitching. Today is a Good Sewing Day because the initial try-on tells me the jeans are going to fit. Woo hoo!

I ripped out the basting and then overlocked and topstitched the sideseams. Every little vertical line helps. ;-)

I restitched the inseams with a permanent stitch and overlocked the seam allowances. Yes, I should really start using the 5-thread capabilities of my serger but, well, I don't. Old dog and all that. Speaking of serging … have you noticed the brown serger thread for the green pants? Hey, I won't tell anyone if you don't. ;-)

The center back seam is left still unsewn at this stage because the waistband is a 2-piece contoured band with a center back seam. The pants and waistband CB seams will be sewn as one after the waistband is attached and final-fitted.

Speaking of the waistband, that's what was next. I sewed the print facings to the outer waistband pieces and pressed them flat, rolling the upper edge a bit.

Next I attached the two waistband sections to the pants waist. The center backs are still unsewn.

The center backs are now pinned and ready to be sewn. Which is my next step. I'll see you back here for Installment #4.

MythBusters, Mentos & Teenage Boys

I'm sure you've all seen one or more of these videos

The Discovery Channel show MythBusters is one of our favorite shows and today they were running a rerun in which they "tested" the Diet Coke & Mentos experiments. Silly me, I mentioned within hearing range of my sons how surprised I was that they hadn't actually tried it yet themselves, and then I went back upstairs to my sewing room.

Ten minutes later, they're back from the store and this is the set-up in the front yard:

And this is their result.

Yep. It works. ;-)

Jeans, Installment #2

A fresh start after a good night's sleep yields a fly with the zipper sewn correctly this time.

I cut a fly shield from the same cotton fabric as the pockets. I like these little pretty touches that only I will see in normal day-to-day wear. They make me happy.

Next, onto the back pockets.

I baste both pieces together, all the way around.

Then I press the seam allowances toward each pocket wrong side, remove the basting and voila! Two identical pockets with the seam allowances already pressed back.

I fused some black interfacing to the wrong side of the top fold and then overlocked the edge. The last step of back pocket prep is to topstitch across the tops. I'll set these aside until the pants are complete. I know most instructions have you sew on the pockets while the pants back is still flat, but I like to decide on placement when my butt is actually in the pants. It's easy enough to sew the pockets on when the pants are already sewn together.

Next up is basting the jeans together for an initial try-on. I'm very tempted to skip this step since theoretically I've already altered this pattern and the pants should fit, but I know if I do skip it, I'll wish I hadn't. So, the basting step wins.

* * * * *

While I'm sewing, DH has decided to install the baseboards in the foyer. After he finishes those, I'm guessing he'll be begging to go to Home Depot for more baseboard for the freshly painted upstairs landing. He's already "reminded" me that I agreed to start tearing apart the family room after Christmas. Yes, it's now officially "after Christmas," but I'm in a sewing zone so the family room won't be happening today. ;-)

Back to sewing (Jeans, Installment #1)

Christmas Day has come and gone and I was finally able to get back into the sewing room for a while tonight. On Saturday I had cut out another pair of Simplicity 4068 pants which I am again sewing as jeans. I actually like the first pair more now than when I initially finished them. But I don't like the way the stretch denim stretches too much after a day of wearing them. This time I'm trying them using a non-stretch denim, and keeping my fingers crossed.

I thought I'd take pics at each step and share those here as I progress. It might be boring, or it might be helpful. I'll leave the verdict on that up to you. ;-) I didn't get very far tonight because it was already late when I started. But progress is still progress, right?

I started by serging/overlocking the non-seam edge of the yoke piece for the pocket bag and then pressing the piece before sewing it onto the pocket fabric using a medium zig-zag over top of the serged stitching.

Next was sewing the pocket facing to the pants front. I trimmed the seam allowances with pinking shears, pressed the seam open and then pressed the facing to the inside of the pants, rolling the edge just a bit. This pic shows the pants wrong side and the front inside of the pocket-to-be.

Topstitching the pocket edge was the next step. I'm using two strands of poly sewing thread in the topstitching needle instead of topstitching-specific thread.

The next step was to serge/overlock the pocket facing and bag together along the curved bottom edge of the pocket.

I then basted the pants and pocket pieces together at the waist and hip so they will act as one piece when I'm sewing the pants together. I also basted the pocket closed so that the pocket will not distort during all the handling/trying on to come.

Next, I fused interfacing to the fly extensions and basted them together, returning to regular stitches along the front crotch curve. At this point, I'm ready to sew in the zipper. Again.

Yes, again. I had the whole dang thing sewn in, topstitched, and basting ripped out. Only then did I see that I had sewn the zipper in WRONG SIDE OUT. ARghhhhh! Obviously, I'm more tired than I realized. I gritted my teeth and ripped it all out so that when I start again tomorrow, everything is back to being ready to go.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Let there be paint

One more thing to cross of the pre-Christmas list. Trooper that he is, DH took on the job of finishing the painting in the foyer and upstairs landing/hallway and did a pretty darn good job. The dark wood trim will eventually be painted white as will the spindles on the banisters and the icky blue carpet will be taken out. But for now the ugly bare drywall is covered in a color of our choosing (that color being a nice shade of taupe which isn't showing up well in the photos). What a great Christmas present to wake up to.

One more view:

The presents are wrapped and under the tree. There's nothing to be assembled and everything is set for tomorrow's breakfast. I think the elves may get a full night's sleep tonight.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Operation Sugar Overload: Complete

Clockwise starting from the approximate 12 o'clock position:

1. Jeweled Thumbprints. Basically butter cookies with raspberry and apricot jam centers. Half are plain, half are rolled in chopped pecans.

2. Chocolate Revel Bars. Lots of semi-sweet chocolate, oatmeal dough, and chopped walnuts.

3. Lemon Square Bars. Lots of sugar, eggs, fresh lemon juice & rind.

4. Peanut Butter Chocolate Kisses. I use crunchy peanut butter instead of the creamy every recipe I've ever seen for these calls for. BTW, one of those has a Tootsie roll stuck in it. DS#1 thought he'd be funny.

5. Neopolitans, with a Christmas Flair. Usually these are brown, pink & white. The stripes are different flavors. Brown is chocolate (duh), green is mint, and the red is almond, which tastes like cherry.

6. Pecan Bars. Tastes like the classic Southern pecan pie but in bar cookie form. This made a HUGE mess on the bottom of my oven as the pecan "filling" overran the pan. Oops.

7. Sugar Cookies, with buttercream frosting. DS#2 did the decorating, can you tell?

8. Peanut Brittle in the center. One of DH's favorites so I don't expect this to last long. The recipe is really easy, completely done in the microwave, so if he twists my arm, I may be encouraged to make more. ;-)

9. Chocolate Snowswirl Fudge in the pan next to the cookie spread. The "snow" is marshmallow marbled through the chocolate, and there are chopped walnuts in there too. The pan is back in the frig setting up as this was made about 30 minutes before taking this photo.

The rest of my day will be spent wrapping a few things and then in my sewing room working on my next pair of pants, with the football games going.

Tonight the kitchen will open up again as I get tomorrow's breakfast ready to go. Tomorrow, I'll be making turkey dinner a la Thanksgiving, per DS#2's request. Can you tell that I spoil the "baby?"

Here's hoping none of you need to venture into a store today!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

And the cookies keep coming

Today's efforts:

Caught in the act!

Two more — the last — batches tomorrow. Lest you think we eat these all ourselves (tempting as it is), no. Many of these are to share with friends, neighbors, and visiting relatives.