Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Happy Joyous

First, since this will be my last post of the year, I want to wish everyone Happy Holidays!

Next, you may have noticed an absence of postings lately. (Well, at least I hope you noticed — lol!) All I can say is I just haven't been in the mood. For anything. Hahaha!

My Marine son's visit during his leave was wonderful. We spent a lot of time together and, of course, it went far too quickly. On December 7, he started combat training in North Carolina, where he's been sleeping nearly outside without heat. It's been in the 20s there at night. So, in other words, my Florida boy has been freezing his you-know-what off. ;-)

There's very little communication while they're training, not even the snail mail letters like from boot camp. But they do have their cellphones and sometimes get to make a quick call as a reward or if given a little free time. I was thrilled to get a 5-minute call last Thursday. I was even more thrilled to learn that his group is being given on-base liberty for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day — a rarity for this stage of training. So, you know where I'll be heading on 12/23. Yep, an 11-hour drive to Camp Geiger, North Carolina. We got another, longer, call from him on Saturday and although he's still freezing, he's having a pretty good time shooting and blowing things up every day, just for fun … er, I mean, TRAINING. ;-)

My younger son is going with me on the Road Trip. My husband is staying behind to care for the dogs. So I will actually have both sons for Christmas. This will probably be the last time for a few years, if not forever. They do grow up and leave the nest, and the military life ahead for my older son will be unpredictable at best. Excuse me while I grab my tissues. Again. ;-)

I've spent all weekend making hundreds of Christmas cookies, which I'll be bagging up to take with me, and then handing out to Marines without family visiting them. That's helped to put me more in the Christmas spirit. Knowing I'll have both of my boys for the holiday has helped a lot too. ;-)

The sewing mojo has been conspicuously absent, until today. I don't spend much time on Pattern Review anymore, but I happened to catch this thread this morning, where Vibek is looking for a pattern for this jacket she saw at Nordstrom's:

A suggestion for Kwik Sew 3764 was given, and I'm going to shamelessly copy Vibek and Nordstrom's, when I get back from North Carolina. I've already ordered the pattern (and one more!) and I have the perfect fabric in the stash.

This also ties into the Gigi/Carolyn inspired A Jacket a Month sew-along going on at Stitcher's Guild. I know I won't sew 12 jackets, but 4 or 5 would not hurt my wardrobe at all. Plus, I really liked having a head start on my winter wardrobe from all the sewing ahead of time I did for my trip to Parris Island. There's a lot to be said for planning ahead. Especially during a cold snap last week here in Florida.

So, Vibek, if you're reading, thank you. I owe the return of the mojo to you. But I'm not going to hurry it — I still have lots to do before I leave on Thursday.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Home on Leave

We're home with our new Marine! Our trip was good, and Family Day and Graduation were fun. After the Private was dismissed, we drove up to my mom's in Virginia for Thanksgiving. We left Virginia Saturday and arrived back in Florida in the wee hours of Sunday morning. The Marine passed out in the car at 9 PM, being used to getting up at 0400 and to bed at 2100.

I was *very* sick the week before we left and had a relapse in SC the day before Family Day, but I made it. I never did have any pie on Thanksgiving — that's how sick I was. lol But my son made up for me. I've never seen him eat SO much and SO fast. And he hasn't stopped yet.

Apart from being an eating machine, he is exactly the same young man who left for Parris Island 3 months ago. Which is good. Many teenagers do change at boot camp, but Tyler is older and already had the Marine persona and values, so I wasn't really expecting major changes.

He did great and says boot camp was easier than he thought it would be, even fun sometimes. He earned the highest rating of Expert on the rifle range (you can see his badge above), and excelled at all physical and written tests. We're very proud of him!

I'll be scarce for the next week as I catch up with both my son and work. Being down for the count for two weeks has left me with a big pile. The sewing room will gather dust for a while longer.

The Marine will be off again on December 7 for his combat training in North Carolina for a month, then he'll be off to his first school in Pensacola and somewhere else for the next school, the location of which he'll find out after he's through the first school. We won't be seeing much of him for the next few years, but at least he will have his cell phone and laptop back.

I'll leave you with this photo taken at my mom's. He's not entirely pressed out or wearing his ribbon and badge, but we *had* to see him in his Dress Blues. ;-)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Ready to Pack

The Family Day tee is done and as of today I have a new pair of RTW jeans that fit, so next up will be packing. I don't think I'm going to make a new Sunshine Top unless I get a wild hair tomorrow, but I may toss an old one into the suitcase "just in case." ;-)

I ordered tees for the whole family from a great Mom & Pop internet store ( and since they do their own screen printing, I was able to request that the design on mine be printed a few inches lower than normal to make it easier for me to lay my pattern on top and not have to worry about cutting off the design. I've usually had to fudge things a little when I've remade football tees in the past.

Here's the Before:

And the After:

I think it came out perfect!

I re-used the ribbing from the tee instead of binding the neckline. It was the perfect length for my new vee-ish neckline. Karma.

This is the tee under the jacket. I'll be wearing this and the new jeans for Family Day on 11/23. Notice how the jacket collar and flaps match the color of the Drill Instructor cover (that's hat in civilian-speak) on the tee. Karma again.

I also bought a little "jewelry" to wear on the jacket, and probably everything else I wear that week.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Kwik Sew 3369: Finished

Finally! It's actually been mostly done for a few days, but I had to make a trip to Joann's for more coverable buttons before I could finish it all the way. I lucked out — it was Buy 1 Get 1 Free on the Notions wall, where these buttons are in this store. I even remembered at the last minute I still needed a drawcord for my fleece jacket and got that too.

There are pockets in two of the front princess seams. You can sorta see them if you look hard. Look for the bartacks. (These photos can also be enlarged if you click on them.)

Back view:

I was sweating it out on the last of the topstitching thread because I have no way to buy more of this exact brand/color since it was part of a free bunch of thread I received a few years ago when I complained to Maxilock about some defective serger cones. Yes, it really is this shade of green, but it looks neutral on the red.

Luckily, I realized early on that it was going to be close and switched to a non-matching bobbin color on the seaming that's covered by the lining on the wrong side.

One thing I was not so lucky about — forgetting to interface the hem when lining and jacket were still separate. There was no getting around it because the hem wanted to curl the tiniest little bit, so I had to bite the bullet and go back inside the jacket/lining so I could fuse some interfacing to the hem allowance. But it made all the difference and the hem is great now. Doing the right thing is usually the right thing. ;-)

Tomorrow, I'll be working on re-making my Parris Island Family Day tee, and then I'll be done with the trip clothes, I think. But I still might cave and make myself a new Sunshine Top. How can I travel without any of those? ;-)

Just about a week to go before we leave. All of a sudden, it seems like the time flew. Was it really almost 3 months ago that I was a blubbering fool? It almost seems like yesterday.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

To all who've served, Thank You.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy Birthday!

235 years old today — Semper Fidelis!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cleared for Take-off

It looks like he was doing all the work in this photo, but we actually shared equally. I needed his brute strength to get the lug nuts and wheels off, and to break the initial grip of the bolts on the calipers. I'm sure I could've done it, but why strain when he was right there! He was amazed at how easy it was. Of course then I had to throw in an "I told you so." ;-)

We were done in an hour. I think we would've spent more time shuttling the car to/from a repair shop. We definitely would've spent a ton more money, and been "advised" to spend more. And we wouldn't have had such a fun (yes, fun!) mother-son bonding morning.

Kidding aside, if you have a jack, stands, a socket wrench, a big C clamp (for pushing the caliper pistons back into the casing) and a teenaged boy/strong person for the grunt work, anyone can replace brake pads. Sheesh, brakes pads are a no-brainer compared to Burda WOF instructions! Only a few years ago I probably wouldn't have ever considered doing this job until I was sort of forced into being a brake assistant by my older son. At that point, I realized just how easy it is to replace the major brake parts and how ripped off you are at brake shops. Seriously ripped off. At the very least, inspect your calipers and rotors yourself from time to time before you go into a shop. You can see them without taking the wheel off. A little education could save you hundreds in repairs you don't actually need because those brake shops love to scare you into thinking you need the whole shebang when you don't. Still don't believe how easy it is? Check out this video.

Side note: That little green chair in the photo? Playskool circa 1983. Best money ever spent. We bought a new table and 2 chairs set when the boys were little, which was used all the time back then and we're still using the chairs for odd things like this. It's amazing how useful a tiny chair can be.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Kwik Sew 3369: Progress Report

This was just thrown onto Zillie for the pic so it's looking kind of messy and frumpy at the moment. I had hoped to be finished this weekend, but other errands and chores conspired against me. I don't have too much more to do, though. The 2-piece sleeves are joined and topstitched but still laying on the cutting table. The lining and collar are done too. I just need to attach them all and do the buttons/buttonholes. The jacket sleeves are the red print. What you're seeing above is the lining.

For the pocket flaps and collar, I used this faux seude. I'm going to cover buttons in 2 sizes with the faux seude, for the flaps and front closure. I think. It might be too much going down the front of the jacket so I reserve the right to change my mind on that. Plan B will be to cover the front buttons with the print.

I ended up using two different threads for topstitching. On the jacket itself, I'm using a light green, which reads neutral on the print but is light enough that the topstitching actually shows. But that thread actually reads as green on the faux seude. So, for the flaps and collar, I used a medium gray. Both are upholstery threads.

With all this topstitching, I have to again sing the praises of having a separate mechanical machine set up as a topstitching station. This will be the first jacket I've topstitched since acquiring my vintage Vikings. What makes me extra happy is because topstitching shows on both sides at once on a jacket (where the lapel flips over), for once I don't have to worry about what the underside will look like since I can use the upholstery thread in the bobbin too. (Whew, that was a bad sentence!) I think I'm as happy with the old Vikings as I am with my coverstitch machine. And, trust me, that's saying a lot!

We leave for Parris Island in less than 2 weeks, so it's time to step it up! Our Family Day tees arrived on Saturday, which means after the jacket, I'll be re-making mine into a female shaped tee. Two weeks, people! Two weeks, until I see my son again. Wooooo!!

But before I pick up on either of those projects, I'll be replacing the brake pads on my car today with Son #2. Son #1 is usually my mechanic for maintenance jobs like this, but he's otherwise occupied at boot camp. However, all his tools are still in the garage, and I've done brakes before with him. They aren't hard, just dirty. New brake pads cost $20 and about 1-2 hours. Replacement at a chain shop is at least $100 before tax and hidden fees. You do the math. I'd rather take my savings on our trip. I just hope I'm not eating my words tomorrow and I'm glad I haven't had my manicure yet. ;-)

Friday, November 5, 2010


I expected to have a progress post this past Monday after a weekend of sewing my red denim jacket. As you know by now, that didn't happen. Instead, my employer went off and decided to merge with another company last week and I ended up working about 35 hours in lieu of sewing. But it's finally calming down a bit and so I started working on the jacket tonight.

Here's a refresher:

I've cut out all the denim pieces. Tomorrow, I'll cut out the lining. And then, fingers crossed, I'll be able to sew it up over the weekend. I swear, I'm not going to check my email lest work try to sneak into my plans. I already have something like 546 messages in my Inbox already. No lie.

During a work break over the weekend, I caved and ordered some RTW jeans which arrived today. I shouldn't have bothered. They are HUGE, and I can't believe I was actually contemplating altering them, for a minute. I also ordered some shoes and was sent the wrong size. So that order was a bust all around. Sigh. Everything will be packed up and returned tomorrow. I'm debating whether to go down 3 sizes in the jeans and try again. Yes, they are that big. Thank you vanity sizing. I ordered by measurements and not size number and they were still off that much. Pffft. Can you tell I'm PO'd? I don't have time for this!

Speaking of time, it's down to 18 days now until I see my son in South Carolina. I won't say the time has flown because it mostly hasn't. But it did start picking up once we were past the halfway point and I did finally stop crying at the drop of a hat. LOL

And here's something from the Really Odd Coincidences Department. My best friend from high school and I keep in touch via phone and email intermittently. We haven't actually seen each in person in a very long time due to distance and family obligations when our kids were younger. Well, we hooked up again after my son had left for boot camp. Turns out hers (a few years older than mine) was already there. It also turns out he had a few minor medical issues (broken hand, gall bladder) that kept him in the Medical Platoon for two extra months (as if 13 weeks isn't bad enough!). But the best part? It turns out he was released from Medical two days ago and picked up by my son's company. I don't know yet if they're in the same platoon. But even if not, it means they are graduating the SAME DAY and we'll be seeing each other in South Carolina. You can't make up a story like that!

Keep Delta Company in your thoughts November 15-17 as that's when they'll be doing "The Crucible," the hardest part of Marine basic training. They will get only 2-1/2 MREs (Meals, Ready to Eat) the whole time, at best 4 hours sleep a night, will have many planned obstacles to overcome, and will end up marching a total of about 48 miles with full packs on their backs. Once they complete that, they will have a private Eagle, Globe & Anchor ceremony with their Drill Instructors and will then officially be Marines. Family Day and Graduation will be the next week and because of the Thanksgiving holiday, the ceremony will be on a Wednesday instead of Friday and they'll get 2 extra days of leave, which thrills me to no end!

And one last thing: Mondo was ROBBED!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"Why are we sewers our own worst critics??"

KMQ: "Debbie I agree with you...your ensemble looks like much so that if you ship it to me I'll wear it and kick the crap out of anybody that says I ain't the sh*@. LOL. I think your outfit looks just perfect. Why are we sewers our own worst critics??"

I promise, I'm not singling you out as a bad thing, KMQ. I got your meaning and giggled. But your last statement had me scratching my head a little.

Was I being my own worst critic? If so, I didn't mean to be. I point out sewing flaws only on this blog, not in real life. Trust me, I'm not one of those people who gets a compliment and then follows it up with a self-deprecating sidenote. I say "Thank you" and smile.

But KMQ's comment made me think I should explain that I point out sewing flaws here so that maybe others can avoid them or learn from them, or even just simply relate. Sewing is solitary and sometimes it's nice to know we're not alone in our joys or our oopsies.

For instance, the pattern matching being a little bit off across the front of the fleece jacket? I can live with it. Really. I promise, it's not going to bug me every time I look at it. I know (as another commenter said) I'll either be in motion when wearing this in real life or it will be unzipped. I know probably no one will even notice anyway, least of all mention it. But do I wish it was a perfect match? Yes, I do. I'm happier when I don't make mistakes. I think that's normal. I admit that I can be a little OCD about fixing mistakes if something is fixable. But if it's not, or I'm out of fabric or time, oh well. Move on, next project. I've also learned that as a finished garment ages, I stop noticing my mistakes and enjoy the creation as a whole.

So, by my pointing out that I forgot to figure in the zipper when matching the print, I was hoping we could all learn something, and by typing it out, that *I* might remember for the next time. My memory works better if I've made a note somewhere, even if I never look at that note again.

That's all.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

McCall's 5981 - Finished

It's done, and I like it better now with some sleeves although I'm still hating the mismatch across the front. Sigh. Hopefully, I can wear it open most of the time until I get over it.

I also like it better with the edge of the collar gathered up a little so it's not hanging over the shoulders. Note to self: Buy real cording, the fleece scrap as cord ain't cutting it. ;-) With the collar gathered like this, it's not quite so linebacker-y. I like the similar oversized collar on the Vogue cardigan, but in fleece like this jacket, a big collar is also a very thick collar.

(Once again, the colors are all wrong. The fleece is black just like the pants, but in the photo it's quite washed out looking, which makes the print pop more than it does in real life. Ah well. Please use your imagination.)

If it happens to get really cold, I can also rearrange the collar like this:

Fleece sticks to itself so the collar will stay like this without any fasteners, but maybe I will think about some sort of a more secure button & elastic loop at a later time. I do wish the neckline was higher without the collar arranged upward. If I were to make this again, I would definitely raise it. It's pretty to look at as drafted, but quite impractical if you need to stay warm and don't have a scarf handy.

Oh, the other stupid part of this pattern? The collar is a big rectangle, but you're told to cut it as two pieces and seam it at what will be center back. Pffft. I cut mine on the fold and eliminated a step and a bulky seam that would only get in the way when attaching collar to neckline.

I'm not sure what's up next. I may start the red floral denim jacket or I may start on a new nightgown. Probably the jacket, since it will take longer and I can always bring "old" PJs if I run out of time.

Actually, what should be up next is a bit of vacuuming in the sewing room. The floor is barely visible through the thread snips and fabric scraps. ;-)

Monday, October 25, 2010

McCall's 5981 Progress Report

(The print is MUCH more subdued than it looks here and the colors are a bit off. It's always a crap shoot as to what the digicam will do to a fabric.)

Ah, the joys of pattern alterations. I was spoiled sewing all those already-altered TNTs recently. Yesterday was spent finishing up the B/W top from last weekend and then cutting out the jacket pattern and doing an FBA. I did not make a muslin. It's fleece. It's stretchy. And if it somehow fits horribly, I'm indifferent enough that I'll probably just toss it. The fleece has been in the stash for years and years and it's good to finally use it up.

So far, it's coming along OK, but I'm not quite thrilled. The neckline is too low, as you can see with the B/W top I left on Zillie underneath. I don't think I'll have time to go to a Plan B, so I'll just have to suck it up and hope that it's not cold enough to need to zip it up. (No wonder the pattern envelope shows a turtleneck worn underneath.) I also feel kind of linebacker-ish with all that gathered collar. It's a lot of collar. But I'll keep plugging ahead because I have been known to change my mind. ;-) And at this point, all that's left are the sleeves and hems and then I can make a final judgment.

My pattern matching across the front is so-so. The exposed zipper chops it up and I didn't allow for that. If there was no zipper, the motifs would abut and match great. Oh well.

The pattern itself goes together well and everything seems to match up fine. But the instructions have got to be the WORST I have ever seen for a fleece jacket, or knits in general. Things such as fusing interfacing to the facings (you can't press polarfleece on high heat), easing and setting in sleeves in the round, and setting in the zipper in a way I can't even begin to explain except to say that you are somehow supposed to leave the front facing unsewn between the top/collar edge and the hem allowance and then kind of stick the zipper in and fold/press the fabric and facing around it. WTF! Crack smoking writers for sure on this one. If I remember, I'll share the instructions in a later post so you all can have a good laugh too.

I omitted the patch pockets because I didn't want a big wad of fleece hem allowances at my hips. Instead, I added single-layer pocket bags behind the fronts and made sideseam openings. Just like the green Vogue cardigan I recently made. So much like it, in fact, that i just stole those pattern pieces and used them. ;-)

Living in Florida, I don't sew a lot of polarfleece — although I should, judging by the abundant stock at the local Joann's. ;-) It really is such an enjoyable fabric to sew with though, so maybe I should do more fleece gifts. Fleece projects always seem to go fast and minor mistakes are easily hidden in the pile. Not that I've made any.

On another subject, my son is down to his last 30 days of boot camp and I can hardly wait to see him! He's doing very well, his spirits remain high, and we continue to receive lots of letters from him. Those letters are the highlight of my day when they come and stalking the mailman has become the daily routine. I am so glad he's turned out to be a good letter-writer (my son, not the mailman!).

Have a good week!

Monday, October 18, 2010

A TNT Tops Weekend

Another productive weekend, and I'm done with sewing tops for my trip. Well, I may decide to sew one solid, but we'll see how that fits in when I'm done with everything else. I was tempted to stray into new pattern-land, but then I came to my senses and remembered I'm on a deadline so I just kept plugging away with the TNTs.

First up is Jalie 2806. Nothing too exciting here. The print will go with all the pants I'm bringing (jeans, brown, green, and black). I borrowed belled long sleeves from an Ottobre pattern (not my TNT below) and finished them with an elastic casing so I can push them up when I feel smothered — which is always in long-sleeved tops.

Next, I stole the flounce from this Butterick 5493 and …

… morphed it onto my all-time TNT tee, the Ottobre Woman 05/2007.

The print doesn't thrill me but it will work with all 4 pants, and it will be fine for just lazing around at my mom's or in the car.

I also added a second flounce, which is just a duplicated and shortened version of the original from the Butterick pattern. I was also going to fully bind the neckline (w/o CS machine, due to bulk) but before I turned it, I decided I liked it unturned and floppy. It goes with the flounces. I finished the edges of it and the flounces with a wide 3-thread stitch on my serger. I'll revisit those flounces with another fabric/top in the near future. This top also got the belled Ottobre sleeves with an elastic wrist casing.

Finally, a TNT from the past that I wore to death a few years ago. I decided it was time to bring it back. (Mostly because it's so fast to sew!) Kwik Sew 3378, the twist front top.

Technically, this top will only go with my jeans and my black velour pants. But really, it's just black and white (neutral) so I can wear it with the green pants too. The tie is maybe too long, but I'm toying with the idea of adding a buckle (a la the Jalie tie top), if I can find the one I know I have around here somewhere. If not, I may shorten it or I may just tie it in a bow. I also haven't finished the sleeve hems yet. I'm deciding if I want to add a vented cuff to them or just straight hem them. I don't usually wear black or black/white, so this one is a deviation for me. I love the fabric though, so I'm sure I'll wear it a lot, which is why it got 3/4 sleeves for Florida.

It's hard to see the twist in these photos, but it's there.

Next up is a fleece jacket. I'll be using a mostly black fleece, which has been sitting it the stash for a LONG time because it is black. But since I'm bringing the black pants, it's now or never for it. It will also match the green pants (and jeans, of course).

After the fleece, then the red floral denim jacket. And maybe a new nightgown if I have time.

I'm probably overpacking since I'll have access to laundry at my mom's, but the range of possible temperatures for the end of November is really cramping my "pack light" self-directive. I will need layer options in case I end up freezing my butt off and I will also take one already-made short-sleeved top (probably the HP Sunshine top) in case it's actually warm. I'll just wash and wear it and the USMC tee every day if I have to. LOL!

So, let me recap what I think I'm bringing:

4 pairs of pants
4-5 long-sleeved tops
1 short-sleeved top
1 USMC tee
1 nightgown (to be made)
1 long-ish cardigan
1 brown zip-up jacket
1 fleece jacket (in the car, not suitcase)
1 denim jacket
socks, undies
black flats
brown flats

Is that too much for a week? Remember, I will be wearing one of the combos for the drives so not quite everything is going into the suitcase. I wanted to bring my HP Riviera jacket and another top, but I've talked myself out of those because that IS too much. What am I forgetting?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Burda Plus Magazine 02-2008 #404, and more

I'm feeling productive this morning as I actually did everything I had planned for the sewing room this weekend. That doesn't happen too often.

First, I finished up the fiddly tasks, which included hemming the sleeves of the Vogue cardigan, adding hem facings to my brown pants to finally finish the edges, and adding back pockets to the green pants that match the Vogue cardigan.

Next up, I cut out and sewed this top:

The pattern is from the February 2008 issue of Burda Plus magazine, design #404. I've made this top two times before so it's a TNT, but this is my first one with long sleeves. The first time I made this, the final pattern was morphed between the Burda pattern and my TNT Ottobre 02/2007 tees. Ottobre fits me better in the armhole and has better knit sleeves drafts. Burda's sleevecaps for knits are always way too high.

You can't see much detail in my photo, but the neckline is shirred with elastic thread. The line drawing below shows that better.

Finally, last night I cut another Jalie 2806 (the scoopneck waterfall top), with sleeves borrowed from another Ottobre top. The fabric for this is a print which will go with my brown and green pants, plus a pair of RTW black velour pants I've decided I'm taking on the trip. I hope to work on this top in bits and pieces during the week.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bread Buddy Tutorial

I know you've all long forgotten been waiting impatiently for the tutorial. It's finally up at Moda Bake Shop, here.

Moda Bake Shop

I never realized the scorn I'd receive about some of the bread that comes into this house, and it looks like the comments (OK, only one so far) followed me to Moda Bake Shop too. The shame!! lol

I was supposed to have Fat Quarters from Moda to offer as a giveaway in conjunction with the MBS posting, but they seem to have been lost in the mail. I've been assured that at some point I will have them and I will offer them up to my readers at that time … and again open myself up to more bread flames. ;-)

Enjoy. (Or not.)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Vogue 8546 Finished

Well, almost finished. I still need to hem the sleeves but I'm out of the thread I was using so I need to go get more first.

The fabric underneath is just that — fabric. But it will become a top to take along on the trip. It has greens which match this cardigan (jacket?) and the matching pants perfectly. I've been hoarding this piece for years, but its time has come.

I opted for a lazy fast & easy closure method. I sewed ties to the inside fronts and called it done. The "lapels" of the jacket hide where they're attached and they don't show when worn open, even with movement. I really only want something to hold the fronts together on a windy day so I don't take off into the clouds. These ties will do the trick and won't get in the way on other days.

I finished the entire edge with a 2-thread stitch on my serger. Because it's unlined and the reverse side shows as the lapels, there's really no way to turn under a hem and not have the wrong side show somewhere. The edging thread looks shiny in the photos, but it's not. It's just plain sewing thread, nothing fancy. There's a lot of distance to cover and I had to do two passes because my serger decided to mess up on one section for no reason at all. Stupid serger. ;-) (This is why I ran out of thread before I could hem the sleeves.) But everything happens for a reason since I actually like the edge better with the second pass.

The hood is not elegant at all, both in how it lays on the finished garment and how it's sewn. I think I'd like to make this pattern again but I will definitely be turning the hood into a flat collar before I do. Even when I manually lay it all nice, there's still a big weird fold in the middle.

But truthfully, unless I have a valet dressing me, it will never lay that nice and will look like this mess instead. Good thing I don't have to look at my rear view.

As you can see, I did manage to eek out the pattern onto the green fabric. My less-than-2 yards was considerably less than what the pattern calls for. I did have to shorten the cardigan to make it fit on the fabric, but only 1/2" by just folding the pattern up at the bottom. But since I didn't turn a hem, I gained that length back anyway.

I also had to cut the pocket bags from another fabric. You can see it peeking out when I pull on the pocket. But I do have to pull for it to be obvious that there's a non-matching fabric in there. So, no big deal at all. No one else will ever notice. (My topstitching looks horrible here, but it's a weird camera angle and I swear it's even.) And, of course, I had no fabric left for a self-belt, but I wasn't planning to make one anyway.

Overall, I like this cardigan a lot. It reminds me of a favorite coat I had in the '80s, which had a throw-over-your-shoulder cape/cowl kind of thing. I loved that coat.

Someone mentioned in the comments that they were unsure if this would be flattering to larger busts. I think it's very flattering, because those lapels totally hide what's underneath and the big vee shape makes one's eyes follow that and not rest on the bust area. One day, I'll be photo-ready and get a pic of me wearing this. No promises as to exactly when that will be. ;-)

Next up will be some tops for the trip, but I haven't decided what pattern & fabric combos yet.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Vogue 8546 Muslin

First, this is just a muslin. I don't care how many readers may be inclined to say they love it but this horrible shiny purple polyester fabric will not be leaving the house. Ever. I mean it. ;-) But it does make a good test fabric for the pattern because the hand and stretch are similar to the good stuff.

Overall, so far, so good. I cut the pattern blending between shoulder and hip sizes as usual and then cut the ugly fabric without any other alteration to get a starting point. I also wanted to see how it all goes together before I'm working on the real thing, because it's not lined and the back side of the hood seam is what shows per the pattern. All seam allowances are topstitched like a faux welt seam would be so it's not like there would be loose seam allowances flapping around.

I totally screwed up when sewing the sleeves though and ended up with seam allowances on the outside. Hah! Good thing this was a test or I'd have a lot of ripping to do. Serves me right for only half paying attention. But I did decide that I can sew just the hood seam opposite of the instructions and end up with the better side showing. Realistically, I'm just not going to be using the hood that much (ever?) and if I do, it means the weather is horrible and no one is going to be looking at my hood seam. ;-) I'd rather have the nicer part showing when the hood is down.

As to fit, I'm happy to say that it's pretty darn good. Which tells me this pattern has a LOT of ease. I need to add some more room at the back hip (a/k/a my butt), but other than that, no other alterations are needed. There's plenty of bust room and the center fronts do meet. The sleeves fit in both length and width over a long-sleeved top. Bust and waist levels seem to be good. It's a raglan and my square shoulders don't seem to be an issue — I lifted the collar/hood to check, but it would hide any problems if there was something to hide.

I am going to shorten it all around about 3 inches but only because I'm squeezing this onto a finite piece of fabric and if I don't shorten it, it won't fit. I'm still not 100% sure my fabric is big enough. I think I need to lay it all out and pin it while on the floor to be sure. Fingers crossed, because I really want to make this from the green fabric, not the brown.

The last issue is a closure. The pattern calls for a belt. I don't want a self-fabric or purchased belt because I'm not going to wear this closed very often and I don't have enough fabric for a self-belt anyway. But if it's windy, I will have fabric blowing all over so I think I need something. I'm thinking a couple of well-placed buttons and loops and/or hidden ties will do the trick. We'll see if I can come up with a solution without expending too much brain power. I am trying to get *something* finished for my trip after all and brain power takes time.

So now I'm off to fight the masses so I can restock the food pantry and after that, I'll pick up on this project again. The sewing part is easy. I just need to spend some quality time with my cutting and marking.

Friday, October 1, 2010


OK, so the mostly-finished jeans are out due to a fabric deficiency. I haven't tried any washing additives, but I might, so I haven't tossed them yet. But this wrench in my plans got me to re-evaluate what I already have and think about a new direction.

I still want jeans, but I'm not desperate so I'll put those on the back burner for the moment. I always have the Turkey Pants if needed and it will be Thanksgiving after all. ;-)

I've decided these green doubleknit HP Marrakesh pants are definitely going on the trip. They fit well, look nice, and are comfortable. The ginger colored Riviera jacket you can see peeking at the edges might be going on the trip too. Depends on what I actually get made from my new plan and what goes with what when I'm done.

I still have enough of the green doubleknit left to make a simple jacket or vest, so I'm going to do that. These pants will also go with the red floral print I've picked for the denim jacket (which is still on my list, just a little further down at the moment).

My main goal right now is to be able to look nicer than jeans and a tee shirt but still pack sensibly and, as much as possible, to avoid garments that need ironing. We'll be packed pretty tight in the car once we get my son's gear loaded in. So, I'm going to try to stick to mostly knits, without looking like I'm wearing sweat pants. ;-) I'll probably plan on repeat outfits since we'll have access to my mom's laundry room and that will allow me to pack/make less.

I also have these brown doubleknit pants made from one of my TNT pants patterns. They're cool weather favorites so I think they'll be going too, but I need to add some length to them because right now, they aren't hemmed and are just raw-edged. That's OK for around home, but not for a trip. I still have some of this fabric too, so I'll probably just face the hems or add a band. I should have done this already, but was just too complacent.

The jacket is good to go, but I think I'd rather have something a little nicer/newer (this jacket saw a LOT of wear last year — I'm tired of it) and so I may also make a jacket or cardigan out of the leftovers.

What I do need is some long-sleeved tops. It shouldn't be that cold in SC at the end of November, but it will definitely be long-sleeve weather for me and I don't have many in the closet. I'll pull out TNT patterns and knit prints for those tops.

Easy jacket patterns I'm thinking about, which hopefully will not require much in the way of alterations:

Vogue 8546

McCall's 5981

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

If It's Not One Thing, It's Another

This is where I left the jeans Sunday evening. Yesterday, I had to deal with a computer virus I picked up somewhere/somehow Sunday night so I didn't get back to the sewing room until today.

The jeans are mostly done. All I need to do is finish and sew on the back pockets, do the waistband button/buttonhole, and hem them.

But I think I'm going to ditch them before I get to all of that.

Why, you ask? Well, even though I prewashed this denim in hot temps at least three times, my hands are turning dark blue with even the slightest touch on the denim. I really don't want to put up with that and I'm pretty sure 20 more washes won't cure it. Vinegar and/or salt is an old wives' tale which won't fix this. So, it looks like these were the muslin for my pattern changes. Which worked, BTW — they fit exactly how I like my jeans to fit (yes, tummy wrinkles and all).

Back to the cutting table. At this rate, I may be wearing my old PJs to my son's graduation. ;-)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A New Day

The sun is shining here — both figuratively and literally — and there's actual sewing action in the sewing room. You should be able to tell by the photo above which garment called the loudest.

All Hail Ye Tried N True!!

Let's do a comparison, shall we?

Last weekend: Unfold, cut and press never-used Burda jeans pattern. Cut out and sew muslin. Stare in the mirror. Remove muslin, go downstairs and watch football for a while. Back upstairs. Put muslin back on. Stare in mirror again. Make pattern adjustments. Cut out and sew next muslin. Stare in the mirror. Close down sewing room for the week and go watch football and Mad Men. Do some laundry. Go to bed.

This weekend: Try on last weekend's muslin #2. Fold up pattern, both muslins, and set aside. Try on slightly too-small years-old jeans from TNT jeans pattern. Try on capris from same jeans pattern. Try on 2-3 other pants/capris from 2nd TNT pattern. Write whiney blog entry. ;-) Get out TNT jeans pattern. Trace front and back pieces. Slash/spread to add 3/8" to each piece (1-1/2" total addition to width). Trace/adjust pocket pieces & waistband. Cut *denim.* Set up Viking 6010 for topstitching. Sew pockets, fly, darts. Go to bed. Wake up. Check blogs and emails. Baste inseams, outseams and crotch. Try on. Take pic of fly for blog. Write blog entry, and get ready to go finish the perfectly fitting jeans.

See any differences? ;-)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fickle, Tired & Lazy

It's been a long and busy work week and I'm tired. Next week promises to be more of the same. Not too much happens in the sewing room when work is like this. Sigh. I think I used to have more stamina. I know part of the "fatigue" is being a little depressed (not clinically, so no advice for doctors or drugs please) with my son gone at basic training. I miss him. It's normal. I'll get over it. But in the meantime, it makes me feel even more sluggish. And then couple that with the monthly hormonal week and well, it has not been pretty. ;-)

So, what does this all really mean? It means I haven't progressed further than initial alterations and a second muslin on the "new" Burda jeans pattern from the last post. It means that I'm re-thinking whether I want to spend the time to get this pattern into shape or just set it aside and pull out a TNT. (The Burda pattern is promising, but it will take a little more fiddling.) It means I'm not in the mood for fiddling and if I am only going to be sewing on weekends for a while, I will end up running out of time before making the things I want to take with me to my son's graduation. It means I realized I do actually have some decent full-length pants hanging in the closet that I forgot about and do I really need new jeans at all? (Yes! I always "need" new jeans! LOL!)

So, I'm in the midst of rethinking and trying on stuff from my closet. Anything made with my old stand-by TNT pants patterns still fit the best. I think I should heed the signs. However, I may just start on the jacket instead and let the pants issue simmer a little longer. But because I *am* feeling quite fickle, who knows what will happen in the sewing room this weekend. Hopefully, I'll progress on something and not just overthink things per my usual tendency. Being excited about a project will actually give me more energy, so I need to come up with a plan that ignites a bigger spark.

* * * * *

But my son *is* doing great. His letters are arriving with wonderful regularity and he's still got his sense of humor and positive outlook. I love his letters! He's doing well with all the tasks at hand, both mentally and physically. He's now moving into Phase II and has seen the newest recruits to arrive and bumble their way through what he was watching, which made him realize how far he's come already. We are so proud of him!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Planning Ahead

I don't usually think about sewing cool weather clothes until, well, at least December when it finally starts to cool off around here. But we will be in Parris Island SC for my son's graduation from boot camp at the end of the November and if I don't want to freeze my butt off, I need to get cracking now. My cool weather wardrobe is severely lacking.

(Yes, I know the temps are low-60s during the day there at that time, but that IS cold to me. Plus, we'll be at the base at Oh Dark Thirty on Family Day the day before graduation to watch the Motivational Run and temps will definitely be below 60 at that time of day/night. Brrr!)

My son's training company color is red. I've read that most families will dress in the appropriate colors for their recruits' company. I don't have or wear a lot of red so nothing I have will go with a red tee shirt underneath (which I'll purchase). But I did manage to find this piece in the stash, which will be perfect for another make of Kwik Sew 3369. You can see my previous version here.

But before I start that, I'm going to try out this Burda jeans pattern. I've had it my stash for a LONG time and with all the TNTs I've been sewing lately, the sewing mojo wants a little more challenge. I may eat those words, I know. But I need to do something since I seem to have outgrown most of my other "good" jeans. Hrmpf.

I wish I could wear the Jalie jeans pattern that everyone and their dog has made. But it just isn't made for the body I have and even though I could make the pattern fit, it still won't flatter. See that girl in the red top on the Burda envelope? See her chunky thighs, especially at the knee? That's me, my body type — which is definitely not the Jalie jeans body type. I'm hopeful this pattern is true to the photo.

So that's what I'm working on today during football games — first a muslin for the Burda jeans without any alterations to get a starting point. And then I'll work on the alterations that I'm sure will be coming.

After the jeans and jacket, I have plans for a couple more "winter" items because after graduation we'll be going up to my mom's at the Virginia shore for Thanksgiving. Hopefully, I can stay on course and get these things made that I've had in the cue for at least two years now. I want to pack light, but I still will need some warmer tees and other pants (read: stretchy!) for Turkey day. Worst case is I'll just wear my "Turkey pants" from a couple of years ago but I'm really hoping I can get to the wonderful brown velour that's been biding its time.