July 27, 2015

Kimono Tee

I did another muslin out of a brown cotton-poly for the kimono tee. Deciding it was good enough (except for lengthening the sleeves again and curving the hem) I moved onto the fashion fabric and completely forgot to take into account how much less stretchy it is than the muslin. It turned out slightly tight in the hips (not uncomfortable, just didn't look the best). Fortunately I fixed that with some side vents. Otherwise I really like the way this turned out! The fabric is much nicer so I think the whole thing hangs better. For some reason my curved hems are turning out not so curved when on my body. I suppose my own curves straighten out the hem curve so I'll just need to draft it more dramatically next time. Also, I matched those stripes like a boss! So proud of myself (first time sewing with stripes). Going to move on to wovens for a while then the next tee is going to be Hey June's raglan or Union St. I hear great things about those patterns and I think the cut on sleeve is just not as flattering on me as set in or raglan. Also there is some kiddo sewing coming up (finally! deadlines are arriving so I've got to get it together). My plan right now for my own clothing is to turn that black double gauze from
Imagine Gnats into Made By Rae's Washi blouse (sleeveless version) and the purple rayon challis in to True Bias's Sutton blouse (if I can squeeze it out of my short yardage. A woven tank if not).

The Wearable Aurora Muslins

This is one of my (kind of) wearable Aurora muslins. The first is from an adorable fabric with no recovery. Why do they even sell these fabrics? Sigh.
This one is sewn straight from the pattern. I just graded between three different sizes for the bust, waist, and hips. I ended up taking out a LOT of width in the hem. Then after I wore it I took out even more and when I re-hemmed it that time the sewing machine revolted and ate the fabric 3 times (!)
once with tragic results so I'll have a small darn in the back. It is tight at the armholes, the shoulder straps are too wide set, and it's out of a fabric that doesn't wear well so it's going to be a pajama top.

For the second version (picture coming soon) I scooped out some of the armhole at the bottom and the front (too binding in the first version) and moved the straps in so they're closer to my neck. I think I could go even closer to get them exactly where I like them. Also, it needs a sway back adjustment but it's good enough that I cut it out in a few inexpensive pieces of jersey I had. Obviously I need more upper back width but I didn't notice until I took a picture of the rear. Doh! I will do a third version with closer straps and a sway back and see if I can get it perfect but after sewing it so many times (there was a totally failed muslin in between 1 and 2) I'm kind of bored and want to move on. The second one is from the cotton-poly heart knit I got last month. It's ok fabric but not great. Cute but a doesn't breath that well and it's recovery is not bad but not great.

Next on the sewing machine is Maria Denmark's free t shirt with cut on sleeves (or kimono sleeves as they say these days). The first version was totally wrong for me so I changed the shape and size of the neckline, lengthened the sleeves slightly and did a sway back adjustment (and I think I took in the side seams at the bust and sleeves because it didn't have negative ease like it was supposed to). The neck was way too small after that but I was able to cut it down and make what I thought was a wearable muslin. However, I forgot to add back the length when I did the sway back adjustment so it was way short in the back. In order to make it an actual wearable muslin I decided to put a slit in the back so the shortness serves a purpose and with one thing and another that did not work out. The neckband is wonky (partly because I just got sloppy with my work and partly because I'm bad at v-necks but they're my favorite to wear so I keep trying). Also I need to lengthen the sleeves on the next version because I like the length before they are hemmed. And then there is my machine which hates all stretch stitches. I can not make them work for love nor money. Especially the twin needle hem. I've tried adjusting everything in all combos but I can't get the bobbin thread to do the zigzag that makes it a stretchy stitch. Can I just get a cover stitch machine?! The most reliable thing to do is just sew a zigzag but I don't like the way that looks. Once I do another muslin for this shirt I'm going to sew it in final fabric and then move on...

...to Holyburn in this crazy crane fabric (quilting cotton) I've had for years. I never mind taping together digital patterns but this is such a large one it's making me rethink that. It's taking forever!

July 26, 2015

There was a sale...

... at Imagine Gnats. A really good sale. And there was some purple rayon challis. In spite of my aversion to synthetics I decided to give rayon challis a try because I keep reading, from all the sewing bloggers I follow, that it is awesome. They say it has great drape, sews well, and breaths well. I'm 
purple rayon challis and black double gauze
skeptical about the breathing (these bloggers are not in coastal Texas in the summer) but Imagine Gnats had an offer I couldn't refuse so I bought out the last 1.5 yards of purple (it was the last but now the website says there is more) and I'm going to give it a try. It's not a super expensive experiment and it might end up adding to my options and that is a plus. If I love it then I am immediately buying this rayon challis from Indie Sew. I am in love with that print!

Anyhow, I also got some black double gauze. I've been wanting to try double gauze for a while.  Some pin dot indigo chambray for a pair of shorts (and I am equally in love with the wrong side of this fabric!) and charcoal jersey with thin gold stripes (for a t-shirt).
pin dot indigo chambray

the "wrong side"
So, I keep not blogging my makes because I can't seem to find toddler free time to take pictures and also I take bad photographs. Not because I'm not beautiful :-) but because I freeze up in what my husband calls "the rictus" (defined as a fixed grimace or grin, so very apt) and somehow I turn out looking like a chipmunk every time. This is not what I see in the mirror. I've been thinking about ways to eliminate my face from the equation since that is where the problem is. I considered masks, which could be fun, or a large floppy hat rakishly tilted with giant sunglasses. I'll probably just crop the photo. There are a few good pictures of me out there but they tend to be un-posed with my son (so maybe I should have the toddler with me in pictures?).

And, I'm considering ditching blogger and going with something else. Not imminent but watch this space. 

June 27, 2015

Fermented Pickles

A little more detail about those pickles in Monday's post...

I prefer fermented pickles to vinegar pickles any day of the week. This summer I have a really great batch going. It's pretty simple to do. I learned from Sandor Katz, both in person and from his book Wild Fermentation (I really recommend it). I make my pickles in a half gallon mason jar with a jam jar inserted in the top to hold down the vegetables. You can also buy various kinds of ceramic pickle weights but for my set up the mason jars work great. 

I start with a salt water brine (use filtered water if you can), freshly picked cucumbers (blossom ends trimmed off) and green beans from the garden, garlic from the store, and a few grape leaves from the wild vines out back (helps keep things crisp). I clean all that, put it in the crock with the brine, cover it and let it sit on the kitchen counter for a few days. It usually takes about 4 days to get going at which point I put it in the fridge to slow down fermentation. Now that my brine is filled with microorganisms a fresh batch of cucumbers only takes a day and a half to 2 days (my kitchen is at about 80 degrees) to ferment before I put it away. Soooo good. I make sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickled carrots in the fall the same way.

Read Sandor's book and give fermentation a try. I bet you'll be addicted too.

June 26, 2015


  • I've always thought that this "meat is the worst thing for global warming" idea is bunk. The Radical Homemaker breaks it down really well.  
  • I started reading a few historical sewing blogs and even though it's not something I'm going to sew, I love their enthusiasm! And it is interesting. American Duchess is one of them.
  • Lining, underlining, interfacing, facing... so much to learn!
  • You know those gorgeous blown glass beverage dispensers? I've always wanted one (not that I have room to store it or a reason to use it, but maybe one day) but they always have these cheap plastic spigots which turns me off. However stainless steel spigots are available to replace them!

June 25, 2015

The New Sewing Space

I lost my sewing room and instead I have a nook. It's one of the closets in our bedroom. The original plan was to move my sewing space into the living room, and there was plenty of room for that, but then I realized that being able to shut the door and be by myself and work on a project, even while other people are in the house, is ESSENTIAL to my mental health. Especially during the weeks when, for various reasons, I don't get my usual alone time breaks where everyone is gone, I need to be able to take an hour here or there to pretend I'm alone :-)

We're still going to make a hinged, drop down, counter height cutting table that lives on the wall of the living room so I can take advantage of toddler free time to do some garment cutting out. I'm still using the same work table as before so I can technically still cut things out but anything longer than these tanks I've been working on went from difficult to nearly impossible in this new cramped space.

Still, I'm liking it just fine and I'm loving our new, toddler free room! And the living room has turned back into a comfortable, uncrowded family space, which is nice (all the toys are now in his room). And all that moving around of furniture and stuff means that we finally got around to consolidating our things after many years of slowly clearing out. Suddenly we have a lot more space in the house because things are compactly and sensibly organized.

In other news, Small apparently grew a lot in the last week because suddenly none of his shorts fit! I had a stash of the next size up from a few swaps on Swap Mamas so we were able to get some out of there. However they're all super long. We've always known Small was built along the lines of a refrigerator. Not chubby any more... as I type this I'm looking at him reading on the couch and I can see all his ribs. But he is a barrel shaped dude. So now I have a bunch of shorts to hem and sewing shorts for him just moved to the top of the sewing queue!

Here are some pics of my new sewing nook:

 There is a lot in there but it works. I'm still loving my rolling sewing cart. It lives to the right and I can slide it out when necessary either to get to stuff on the lower shelves or to find a paper pattern which live rolled up in a trash can in the corner. The light is just a paper light lamp kit slipped through an antique ceiling fan light shade and then wrapped around the curtain rod.

 There is a large shelf up top which holds boxes of various things, not necessarily sewing related, and a narrow shelf under that for all the tins and cups of supplies. Here are my tins and bucket of buttons, my tape (I use mostly digital patterns) and my stapler (which I also use all the time with digital patterns). Below is a picture of more of the narrow shelf with colored pencils, sharpening stones, thumb tacks and the buttons I use for thumb tacks, various pallet knives, brushes, etc. and then some of my mom's old drafting tools from architecture school.

 All my various rulers live on a nail in the door frame. Also some odds and ends on hooks. To the left is a giant roll of cotton-hemp plain weave cloth I use in my etsy shop. Hanging from the curtain rod (curtains instead of doors on these closets) are the Swedish tracing paper patterns clipped together with the clip type curtain rings and then hung there.

On the clothes rod to the right, over my rolling cart, is my queue. I have the prepped fabric draped over hangers. The pattern or instructions are clipped with a binder clip which has a string loop through the handles. That hangs off the hook end of the hanger. If I get my act more together in the future, I'll attach all the necessary notions as well. At the moment I'm just searching for and/or buying notions as each project arrives at the top of my list.

June 24, 2015

New Fabrics

There was a sale on knits and since I just made a successful wearable muslin for Aurora (Seamwork Magazine issue no. 7) and also a less than wearable muslin for Maria Denmark's kimono tee I needed some inexpensive knits to muslin up some more stuff. Of course I also ordered some 1 yard chunks for more Auroras... I love this pattern!

My wearable muslin is from a knit with a great pattern but horrible recovery so it grows as I wear it through the day. I decided for the next version I needed to lower the armholes a tad and take out some
of the width in the hem (like, 3 inches!). Also I want to reposition the shoulder straps so they are closer to my neck. I really prefer tank straps that way. I'll need to reshape the yoke in order to make that happen but I think I can hack it. That will be wearable (hopefully) muslin no. 2.

I got a rayon silk jersey because I wanted to try it out. It's rather thin and slinky but it does feel lovely. I'm not sure that it will work as a t-shirt (on me) but maybe something drapey like a loose cardigan. I also got some cotton-poly open sweater knit. Not sure what I'll do with that either. Probably a cardi but maybe some kind of double layered skirt? For real warmth and layering I always wear wool cardis. They are cooler in warm weather and warmer in the cold (than cotton of the same weight) so they're great at transitioning between indoor and outdoor temperatures or as the temperature goes up during the day. However for those times when I need something to just basically cover my shoulders and upper arms (when a tank might not be appropriate or I want to dress something up) then I use the thin lacy sweater knits, etc.

One yard of a red striped pattern on dark blue. Not a pattern I'm usually into but it was way on sale and I'm willing to try new things.

A darkish green spandex cotton knit for a t-shirt. It's more army green than I wanted but it's ok.

White hearts on dark blue for a second Aurora. At this point I have 10 tanks or so, 2 of which are me-made and all but one of them are black or dark blue. I really have to switch it up. Of course now that I've found Aurora I'm going to make a million and ditch the ill fitting RTW tanks so new colors should be coming.

And heathered brown cotton blend jersey. It's not as soft as the heathered teal cotton blend I got last month but it's not too bad. It's mostly for muslins anyhow although if one turns out wearable this is certainly a color I would wear.

I also got some linen swatches.

I have this problem that, because I'm always reading about sewing, I am constantly getting new ideas and getting excited about new fabrics. I originally wrote linen off because it has a tendency to grow. That would be problematic for pants or a fitted dress but for a loose summer top (and that is what I'm into right now) it's kind of ok. After all, I'm wearing that growing Aurora tank and I'm not pissed at it by the end of the day! I've been trying to find some fabric with both drape and heft. So I got these lovely swatches. The dark purple is Kaufman Washer Linen, a rayon-linen blend that is highly recommended by a blogger I read. The indigo is Kaufman Essex Linen, a cotton-linen blend. It doesn't have that much drape so I'm less crazy about it. The Aloe and the Beet fabrics are pure European linen. They also have less drape although I think more than the Essex. The striped fabric is a cotton-linen blend with tons of drape and a super soft hand. I looooove it and will make a tank out of it soon. I'm thinking about making a longish tank based on Megan Nielsen's Eucalypt tank and dress but hacked to provide more shape.

For the less drapey linens I'm going to try this salt water soak from Onawa Designs to see if I can't soften them up. I know she says it can fade colors but testing is what swatches are for!

Either way, I have made a rule that I'm not allowed to buy more fabric until I sew up my pattern assigned fabric stash... unless one of the fabrics I want is on major sale, or I go fabric shopping with my mom, or I visit Stitch Lab again. But I'm really going to try hard. Now that our room swap is done and I have my new sewing space put back together and more time (especially if it keeps raining and I can't work in the garden) I think the sewing will get done.

linings for the capes
In the queue is:

- the adorable Forest Path Cape by Oliver + S for 2 of Small's friends out of the super-on-sale wool hounds tooth coating I got this fall.
- Colette's newest patter (Aster) which I got super excited about late one night and bought during the pre-sale. The moss colored shot cloth I keep switching project plans with is currently scheduled for that.
- Sewaholic's Hollyburn skirt which I'm going to make up in a crane printed quilting cotton I've had for a while.
- Aberdeen and Sydney are also in the cue, both made up in some fabric I already had but didn't know what to sew into.
- And there is going to be a quick and simple bag with a very old short piece of grey something or other and that half yard of orange print fabric I bought a a few months ago.
- Also I have the floral rayon linen for the Betsy skirt, a length of black spandex jersey with great recovery, probably for a wiggle skirt, and a few shorter lengths to mock up some woven tanks with until I find one I love.

fabric for Small's car shirt
- Car shirt and car shorts I promised Small (also Oliver + S patterns).

When I have sewn all that I am allowed to buy new fabric!

Oh, and I also need to make some black-out curtains for both bedrooms and some cafe curtains for one of them.