Monday, October 28, 2013

McCall's 9682 (1969), second time around

The original skirt I made from this pattern has earned itself heavy use by being the most comfortable and stylish skirt I've vet made, so a new take on an old favorite was overdue.

I shortened the hem on this one to accommodate limited yardage (not the 1st time-- this is what I often do because I LOVE vintage fabric), and kept my original pattern mod of expanding the waistband an inch. Otherwise it's pretty much the same.

Vintage patterns really strike my fancy, especially when I find ways to honor their original intent when I create them. Like its predecessor, this skirt features a solid metal zip from the endless grab bag of goodwill reclaimed supplies. 

I finished all my edges with the serger/overlocker (thanks mom for the equipment!) and think it's more durable than the seam biding that has frayed off the edges of my other skirt.

While I originally thought this was a stiff, treated cotton it must actually be a poly/cotton blend. My iron said so. Note to self, burn test everything!

I thought I could get away without interfacing the waistband but it looked horrid, and was rather annoying to take apart after I'd topstitched. I knew better but just REALLY wanted to cheat.  I treated the skirt to a blind hem, courtesy of a simple setting on my machine and made sure to reposition those pockets that were originally sewn upside down. OOPS. Someday I'll stop making silly mistakes.

Easy peasy. A happy skirt into the rotation, though no finished product pictures. Happy sewing!

Sewing the Anna Dress in wool

The social media universe is an interesting place to be. My world has expanded and I've found many interesting people (some of my best) this way, and along the path I've picked up numerous sewing feeds.

The Anna Dress came to me this way --from following seamstresses on Instagram that posted pretty pictures of By Hand London projects. When the independent pattern company announced their sew along I hopped on board, promptly spending too much money on delicious silk. Of course, then I was too scared to use it. And then autumn ushered in Portland's rainy days and I felt far more interested in wool.

I traced the pattern weeks ago (US size 4) and on Wednesday I finally knocked out a muslin for fitting. I'm a fair pear in body shape and find this design very flattering -- skimming and flaring in all the right places. Thursday I walked my dog to goodwill and found this fabulous vintage green wool for only $4.99, and when I came home I got to cutting, then overlocked all my pieces to prep for sewing.

I added an inch to the waist, grading down to the hips, and then worried it wouldn't be quite enough ease and sewed the side seams of the dress at 3/8" instead of 5/8". Once the final dress was constructed I worried it was too much ease but it seems just right for the office. I've already had numerous compliments, and the comfort and fit rival my other favorite dress-- my denim Hawthorn by Colette Patterns. I anticipate sewing this pattern again and again!

This was a birthday gift to myself and 28 in wool feels pretty fantastic. My boyfriend took me pumpkin picking and we had loads of fun (and calories-- good thing I had room).

Sewing thoughts: my first invisible zipper, this scared me. I used my overlock stitching as a guide for zipper placement and basted it on before I actually stitched. My local bernina store doesn't stock old-style feet, so I sewed this up with a regular zipper foot and am SO pleased. It's so invisible that a coworker asked how I got into the dress!

I did two rows of stitching on the arm holes, and same for the narrow hem I chose-- wanted to keep the length. I turned a 1/4" pressed, and turned and pressed a 1/4" again, then stitched. 

The dress asked for a lining so I bought enough rayon in orange to make it work, but then decide to rush and finish it without. A slip does fine, and I don't mind wool against my skin. 

Happy sewing!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sewing Hawthorn 1026 by Colette Patterns

ALERT: I stopped blogging because my life got REALLY FREAKING EXCITING. Sorry about that. I moved to Portland. I became immersed in vintage fabric and sewing pattern beauty. I met this amazing guy that swept me off my feet. I biked my butt off for pedalpalooza. I adopted a St. Bernard that weighs as much as I do. HE IS HUGE. And I started a new job in Human Services that is pretty awesome. Moving forward... (with a delay of many months)

This pattern was just too good to be true-- a shirtwaist dress with a semi-circle skirt, an opportunity to test a pattern before release, a pattern name that happened to be the neighborhood I'd just moved to after relocating to PDX from Seattle, and a pattern number that matches my birthday.

 I WIN!!!!!! They must have made this one just for me.

I love the way the skirt swings and twirls when I walk, dance, play, etc. My friend Emily gave (read: gives) me a hard for wearing this dress too many days per week, but this is the article of clothing that I feel best in. I took the time to try and get the fit right (sewed my first muslin!) and found that I fell somewhere between size 0 and 2 in this pattern size range. I graded from 0 at the bust to 2 at the waist and had to increase the armscye dept, but otherwise this pattern fit like a charm.

Sewing details? Easy breezy. Colette Patterns have in-depth and some of the best instructions/illustrations for sewing and assembly-- their work is geared toward the burgeoning seamstress and encourages us to learn new techniques or perfect simple things like topstitching. My biggest struggle with this dress is silly in retrospect, but that armscye binding nearly brought me tears. Mind you, this was pre-pattern release and I haven't seen how the instructions have changed, but I read and re-read and read again to no avail. I watched youtube videos. I looked at other books. I was like WHY THE FRACK* IS THIS SO HARD FOR ME?

At the time this was happening the Laurel sewalong (with its many amazing prizes) was taunting me-- I knew I didn't have time to try and slam TWO dresses out. Moving across state lines was hard and I had to hurry and unpack my sewing goods to get going on Hawthorn, and then I broke down and gave up. I just couldn't finish those FREAKING ARMHOLES.And those buttons TAKE FOREVER. I'm just learning to love hand-sewing so don't get mad at me.

 Fast forward: I cheated on my commitment to Hawthorn by just taking a little peak at what Laurel had to offer. I wasn't ACTUALLY cheating, there was no other sewing taking its place, but just a look ya know? That little booklet of extras? That won't hurt anyone.

IT'S A MIRACLE. Therein lies the answers for one struggling with bias binding! ITS EASY! Just read the tutorial in the free booklet of extras and don't be an idiot! SEE! A pretty red contrast binding.

Project details: A lightweight denim that I bought from goodwill for under $10, and this dress didn't even use half the yardage. Vintage/reclaimed bone buttons. If you look closely, each of these buttons is different and they all appear to have been made by hand. Contrast bias binding for the armscye. Hand-stitched hem. And top-stitching/edge-stitching that is less than perfect because the tension on my machine was EFFED.

Good news, I had my machine serviced at Modern Domestic and got it back just in time to start my next pattern testing project. Weee! I'll show you that pretty piece in one week... once the next pattern is released. :)

*Note: random Battlestar Galactica reference

Friday, June 21, 2013

Dog love.

Brucey is coming home! After much time and effort and wishing and waiting, the pieces have come together and the dog I've been hoping to rescue will finally get out of his situation. Update-- HOMECOMING DATE IS JUNE 30th!!! EEEEK!!!. My landlord has agreed to let him live with me for now, and my housemate and I are looking for permanent dog-friendly housing in Portland (they're selling our current house). I've worked really hard on developing a friendly, honest relationship with the dog's owners and they've finally agreed to let him go (but of course, not without some $), and I intend to give Brucey his forever home. The last step is getting all of our needed supplies/services.

Brucey (might give him a new name since he doesn't really know his given name, Brewski...) has lived on a 6 foot chain his entire life. He will need a LOT of time, attention, love and patience while he learns manners like no jumping, and is house trained. Because of the neglect he's been dealt, Brucey will need general vet care and likely encounter some long-term issues with bones/joints/muscles resulting from his lack of exercise during the time of such rapid growth. He's only 15 months old and has plenty of time to learn how to be good, healthy dog.

On the immediate need/cost list, Brucey will be seeing a groomer (his owners don't clean up his feces), will need a GIANT crate (he's 160+ pounds, unknown for sure), will have to pay his way out of his current situation-- the terms of our agreement, will need an appropriate leash/harness system, vet care, pet deposits for our housing, toys, treats, food, serious poop bags, etc. Depending on his ability to cope with crate training while I'm at work, he may need occasional visits to doggie day care. I may need to invest in formal dog training. I definitely need some books.

If you have any of these things to share with me or would be interested in contributing a small donation to a dog love fund for Brucey, I would be immensely appreciative. And Brucey will be too. Adopting/rescuing a dog is expensive. Adopting a dog that hasn't had the care they would get from a shelter makes it even more expensive.

This little boy is about to find his forever home and my life is about to change. I've been pursuing this since February and I've finally convinced his owners to let him go. My heart is full. Cheers to the next ~10 years.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Sometimes it's important for me to pause.

I have food, and I'll be able to get food if I need it. This means I don't know true hunger and I'm thankful.

I have family. When I'm lonely, excited, goofy, confused, happy, have unanswered questions, or want feedback, my family is there.

I have love. Friends that care, parents that are involved even though they live 700 miles. People in my life that give honest affection, will join me on a simple walk or for tea, and sometimes tell me what I don't want to hear. That last bit can be hard but I really appreciate it.

Dogs. They're awesome.

Hobbies turned skills that are ever growing. Capable hands, how lucky!

Employment. By no means extravagant, but I'm relatively stable and this is good.

Knowledge, and access to education.

Sensory experiences. Last month I could smell the sweet flowers lining the streets of Portland. I can admire the faded colors of a vintage textile. I taste the sweet tartness of lemon juice on my salad and the smooth flavor of olive oil on my popcorn. I feel the soft fibers in the garment I'm knitting, and feel peace when a hand is rested on my back.

I have relatively good health. It's hard to complain about mild maladies when I remember how grateful I am to ride my bicycle every day, to wake and greet the day feeling alive and with energy, to feel sore muscles from games played with friends.

Life, how charming.

Friday, May 24, 2013

A New Year, the Same Old Me.

*My unpublished reflection on 2012 that was written in January, an annual tradition. I guess it stayed unpublished because 2013 has continued to be a challenging year of finding out what life means/holds right now. I got stuck.

Every January I like to take a moment to reflect on the past year and remember what those 365 days contained, and some years are more impressive (see here, and here) than others. 2011 was the year of canning and I was sure that 2012 would be the year of sewing, but somehow 2012 became the year of finding out what defines me.

The year started off fast-- I was still busy being productive and having loads of fun. My mom and sisters came to visit Seattle in March and the four of us went to the Sewing & Stitchery Expo where I learned some helpful tips from sewing pros, shopped for sewing supplies like fabric and patterns, and built my sewing inspiration for the upcoming year. I canned and cooked a lot, knitted scarves and hats, spun yarn and sewed numerous blouses for myself. I quit my full time non-profit job in the human services sector in March and spent the following six months working very hard as an intern on an organic farm. I fell in love with vegetables, experienced what felt like a true pacific northwest summer, made friends with customers at the farmers market, and ate salad almost every day.

In the realm of cooking and eating food...

  • We canned tuna in a class with Slow Food Seattle.
  • We brewed ginger beer.
  • I cried when I accidentally/prematurely/unknowingly killed the clams we dug for my first time.
  • I gathered stinging nettle and made nettle pesto, served with the 2nd batch of clams and homemade pasta w/ eggs from the farm.
  • We canned strawberry jam.
  • Canned a bunch of things that never made the blog including pickled asparagus, pickled carrots (my favorite!), multiple batches of pickled green beans, pickled cauliflower (where I earned my first stitches), fig preserves, canned peaches, and probably other things I'm forgetting now.
  • I learned to slaughter chickens-- both a hen and rooster. 
  • The farm owner shot three wild rabbits for me over the course of the summer, and I taught myself to gut and skin rabbits. This was intense... and altered my understanding of meat forever. I'm very thankful.
  • I cooked a lot. Every day on the farm I ate multiple home cooked meals. I learned to love broccoli (nutribud is the most delicious variety).
And in the peak of summer when I was eager to travel, have fun, and celebrate life, I found myself nursing a broken heart. Life throws us curve balls, but I'm learning about what really makes me happy. This is process, learning we who I am and where I'm going.

Life is always changing.

The internet is filled with overexposure. You know what I'm talking about-- pictures of weekends that were too much fun, old livejournal pages where someone somewhere poured their lonely heart out for their virtual friends to observe from a safe distance, news that isn't really news except that we latch onto the most shocking, senseless, inane bullshit and promote its importance. And this kind of overexposure in the vast land of cyberspace is part of what keeps me from using this blog with any regularity-- what value do my words hold in this context? Why do I feel motivated to put this information (thoughts, emotions, experiences, projects, etc) into a sea already full of other information?

This space was once a home for creative writing. This space was once a home from documenting creative endeavors. This space once was a safety net when I felt like I didn't have people with whom I could share life's exciting, heartbreaking, or otherwise boring minutia; but the older I get, the more I realize the internet is as lonely and empty as the life I sometimes live and using this as a reassurance that my life is REALLY FUCKING COOL hasn't felt right lately. I've been busy. I've been lonely. I have fun. I'm making things, exploring, learning, and trying to immerse myself in experience... because for whatever reason I've been in my head WAY too much. 2012-2013 has been hard and different and not cohesive at all. I don't know where I'm going or what I'm doing but I do know that my new home and my new life hold limitless potential. I'm more confused than ever about my life and more sure than ever about who I am and the kind of woman I want to be.

Cheers to the second half of 2013. Portland, let's make this awesome.