So much for New Year’s Resolutions

I promised myself that I would blog twice a month, and this is my first blog of 2017! Oh well, I’ve been sewing so I need to catch up. As a blogging warm up this will be short, but at least I’m here typing away. img_0158

For Christmas I made this messenger bag for my husband. When we are on trips he has always handed me his iPad to carry. My purse became so heavy sometimes he had to carry it!img_0160

I thought it would be fun to take an old mens jacket to make him a bag. My BSF not only had an old sport coat, she had a black leather skirt and  only needed half the material. I made a box out of very heavy stabilizer (1/8″ thick) so the iPad can sit up and not be damaged when placed under a seat. The best part is now he carries my iPad in addition to his, so my load is much lighter! He uses the pocket for the cords.  img_0163

I returned the scraps to my BSF and Debra made two more bags using two pockets on one bag and the sleeve detail for the other.img_0017img_0018

Don’t you think they are fabulous? I think 3 items from one old sport coat is pretty great. My husband is never giving away an old jacket again!img_0016

Soft Coat

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I had bought this fabulous woven ombre stripe from The Smuggler’s Daughter. It’s attractive on both sides so an unlined jacket seemed a good fit.

I think most of us looked right past Butterick B6244 with the incredibly plain dress, but the coat caught my eye. There are many similar patterns out there, but I liked that the shoulders were fit and despite all of the fabric it looked slimming on the model. The bonus is when you find that there is actually a dart under the draped collar. There are just 3 pattern pieces, which made matching stripes easy, however I had only ordered 4 repeats (less than 4 yards) of the fabric. After close inspection I discovered that there was absolutely no nap and the stripes were symmetrical so the back is cut one direction and the front is opposite! After laying out the front and back pattern pieces and matching the stripes I still had some fabric left, but the sleeve stripes wouldn’t match, or they would be too short.

b6244-jacket-orange-stripe_2Knowing that there is always a solution I cut out and stitched together the body of the coat. Then I draped the fabric at the arms and decided that it looks even better with the stripe running down the arm. I love that the inside seam is orange against tan. I’m so glad I didn’t have enough fabric! By cutting the sleeves cross grain I gained enough scraps to make two perfectly matched patch pockets lined in a different fabric.b6244-jacket-orange-stripe

The best part of this project is how well it fits into my existing wardrobe. Buying fabric I love and then finding the perfect pattern seems to be a good way for me to sew. The patterns are out there or you can alter them, but finding fabric you love is much more difficult.b6244-jacket-orange-stripe_3

The One with the Built-in Scarf

 

scarf-topI’ve been sewing but in such small periods of time that I never had time to photograph and blog. It’s amazing how much can be accomplished with an hour or two here and there, but I find it very inefficient. Each time I have to review what last happened with the project before proceeding to the next step. The holidays are coming up and I need to switch gears to gift giving projects, but for now I’ll try and catch up on what has been on my sewing machine for the last month, and it’s going to take a few photo sessions and blogs to cover it!scarf-top_2

I fell for view B from V1516 by Tom and Linda Platt. I call it “the one with the built-in scarf”. With all of those edges there’s a lot of finishing, but I think it is very pretty and dressy, but still comfortable. I can’t remember where I bought the main fabric (money’s on MarcyTilton.com), but it’s probably a rayon crepe. It pre-washed beautifully, but I will be gentle with it now that it’s sewn up. The wool and silk floral layer is from a beautiful scarf I bought during the Taos retreat, with the intention of cutting it up for yardage.

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I’m pretty proud of the edge finishes. I buy bias ribbon from Dharmatrading.com and then throw it in the batch whenever I’m dyeing fabric. It comes in handy for anything from wrapping presents for special people to using it for edges like a Hong Kong seam or the hem finish.

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I’m wearing pants that don’t quite match, but I have enough fabric left to make a pair of pants as soon as I decide which pattern to use. I’m thinking of going back to my pants sloper to make a classic trouser pattern. The Craftsy class covers the modifications, but I need to get the sloper out and follow that chapter. Sounds simple, but we’ll see when I get time to do that. The top and soft pants would make a lovely holiday outfit.

Last Shirt of Summer

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This is a pattern with a surprise in the back! When will they learn to use the front of the envelope to show us all the features of a pattern? Imagine my surprise when looking at the line drawing and discovering this cool back option. This is McCalls 7094 and I love wearing it!Split-back-shirt-M7094_1

Wearing this is light and breezy, but with enough of an overlap so that skin never shows. There was already a plan to use two different prints of rayon crepe from Marcy Tilton. I didn’t have enough fabric to make this back option, but adding a bit of rayon batik from my stash for the smaller elements, and simplifying the sleeve, solved the problem.Split-back-shirt-M7094_3I’m ready to start making fall clothes, my favorite time of the year, but next summer I think I will come back to this pattern with a light linen and maybe some hand stitched details, or some machine embroidery along the placket. It’s nice to think that around March I may already have a project!

BTW My cat Ichi is proud to be on the 2017 Calendar of Fort Collins Cat Rescue. Thanks for your votes!

Vote for my Cat!

Zatoichi-FranzenI entered my cat Zatoichi (Ichi for short) for a spot in the calendar of Fort Collins Cat Rescue our wonderful local cat shelter where she came from. She’s now one of the 30 finalists and would dearly love to be a Miss September (or January…) and help the shelter. Please go to www.fccrsnc.org and vote for my cat before September 12th!

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Back to sewing. Here is my version of the new Marcy Tilton top from Vogue 9193. My every day dressing consists of a pair of knit pants and a top. If I go out of the house I like to add a cool jacket/coat or poncho. Most pants are fairly neutral so that leaves the tops to carry the interesting details. This pattern has lots of promise for both dressy, and an everyday wear piece that has some style. The addition of a pocket makes it function even better than most patterns.

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The sample photos are sewn with a single fabric, but the line drawings inspired me to try multiple fabrics. After cutting it out in three colors it just didn’t look balanced. The additional gold bands and neck seemed to pull the whole piece together. After sewing it all up I decided to add the stencil pattern to the front.

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I’m already wearing this a lot, but I do think I will make another design change in the future. The top has a subtle angled bottom band, and sometimes it simply feels odd. The change could be to make the angle steeper and more obvious. However, if I continue with the Mondrian styled piecing it’s possible the top would look better being simpler and straight. Or should I leave it alone?

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It’s a great top and I’ll try the pants some time and let you know how they fit. I’m at Diane Ericson’s Design Outside the Lines in Taos this week having a wonderful sewing adventure with my BSF. Don’t forget to vote for my cat Zatoichi!

My Last Hand Knit?

Kiba-LightArghhh! I have carpal tunnel issues no doubt aggravated by my avid knitting! One handed typing is pretty slow, so this will be a very short post. I do love this vest by Marianne Isager. Both the shape and the color just make me smiled wish for fall weather. The kit came from Tutto, based in Santa Fe, who had a booth at the recent Interweave yarn fest here in Colorado. The yummy Alpaca and Silk Mohair yarns are held together throughout the piece.Kiba-Light_8

The pattern is a little unusual in that Isager has you count rows for length rather than knit for so many inches, claiming that it will all work out in the blocking. After doing a bit of math it seemed my vest was coming up way too short, so I decided to knit to the calculated length. This seemed to work well for me, but I had to keep an eye on all stitch counts after that. Let’s just say this pattern isn’t a good choice for a beginning knitter unless they get gauge in width and height. Intermediate knitters wouldn’t have a problem making adjustments. Isn’t the back pretty?Kiba-Light_7

Physical therapy starts in a week! I have finished sewing two tops so there will be sewing project posts soon….

Poppy Embroideries

My spring coat is finally finished! While it’s too late for spring, I hope that by wearing it in fall the feeling of summer will be extended a bit. This was a big project!     2016-07-03-11.53.22-8I decided to copy an old favorite unlined coat. I always pull it out between seasons because the single ply of wool is the perfect weight, but it’s grey and looks a little blah in spring. However, the oversized fit gives enough room for anything from dolman sleeves to another layer beneath. To celebrate spring, I wanted embroidered poppies around the hem of the coat. I looked all over for the set of embroideries I evisioned in my mind, but to no avail. Just as I was giving up, my neighbor’s poppies began to bloom! I have software. I can draw. YES, I can do this!

The first step was to take some snapshots of her poppies. I wanted red poppies and some were golden, but as long as the values are there you can change the color later.PoppyBThe second step was to simplify the photograph into a line drawn cartoon. This needed to be done since the number of embroidery threads used should be kept down to a reasonable number. I have a single thread embroidery machine, so I need to rethread for each color and the final embroideries have about 14 colors.   drawing-webThe third step is to scan the freehand cartoon and open it up as a layer in a drawing program like Adobe Illustrator, then complete a vector drawing. The embroidery software I purchased from Husqvarna Viking has a drawing module that is fairly simple to use, but I’m used to the feature rich Illustrator. This part takes awhile, at least for me. I spent time fussing around with the composition by moving the flowers, changing their sizes and even moving flowers from one photo to another to balance. There are three separate embroideries on the coat plus some small designs for the buttons and the collar.      poppies1_042316 I make all of this sound very straightforward but the truth is I’d never attempted such a complex project, and most steps had to be done more than once. The good thing is that I continued to find faster ways to accomplish my goals. Next time should be much more efficient!

After the drawing is done the embroidery software takes over. The basics of the software are incredibly easy. Just point your mouse to an area and the software will fill that area with the embroidery pattern of your choice! Of course, that wasn’t good enough for me…I wanted shading, and the stitches to change direction on the petals, and satin stitch on the stems, and different weights of black outline. You get the picture, I basically nerded out for hours, and here are the final stitch outs before I put them on my coat.

I didn’t want the back of the embroidery to show inside the coat, and I was running out of fabric! I found a length that was uneven along the top and almost the width of the bottom hem. I then let this found shape lead me to the placement of the embroideries and the curve of the pocket. I like letting the fabric make decisions for me, and I think the pockets came out better than the straight ones that I’d planned. If you look closely you can see the bottom hem is actually two layers.2016-07-03-11.55.24-19

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I also designed matching embroidered buttons!2016-07-03-11.50.53-2

For the asymmetrical collar, I copied a few of the previously designed poppies and had them land in the corners. Now all I have to do is wait for some cooler weather!

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Have Scissor will Travel

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This project started with a fail by me. For my BSF’s birthday, I made a holder for sewing tools that hung around the neck. Luckily I put a few nice tools in it because the holder was useless! A few weeks later Debra suggested that we design aprons that would hold our tools, and that sounded like a great idea (and helped me save face).

We got together with a pile of fabrics, some inspiration photos and started planning. She wanted one to tie, and I wanted one I could just slip on. We made some paper templates and were soon cutting into fabric. The good news is BSF-Debra actually came over with her finished apron so you get to see both!

This is her apron with the cool textured denim and accents of lime green including a fabulous piece of green leather. I used my machine to embroider her logo that her husband had designed for her.

_O0A1068 Debra-logo

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It functions the best of the two aprons, and if you decide to make one, follow her lead in putting the tools center front so the apron hangs evenly. The other advantage is room for two pockets for hands. She found the badge reel that we are both using to hold a pair of small scissors. The front pocket holds large scissors, marking pen and pencil, measurement gauge, and a seam ripper. She has also tied on a 36” tape. Needle and thread can be pinned on the flap at the top.  Honestly, what more do you need?

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We are both constantly amazed that we can start out with the same idea and end up with completely different looks. I wanted to have some asymmetry to mine, but unfortunately at a slight loss of function. However, other than leaving my large scissor out of the pocket most of the time, mine is a pleasure to wear.

2016-07-03 11.47.06Since I like to embroider with my machine, I digitized a drawing of my tomato pincushion and placed the embroidery on my shoulder to hold pins. The dot fabric has some free-motion embroidery and I added some color to the black fabric with the help of some Diane Ericson stencils. The linen cat fabric came from Elfriede’s Fabrics and the crow is also from a Diane Ericson stencil.2016-07-03 11.44.37

Both of us love our aprons and it’s such a relief to not be constantly hunting for tools! Happy sewing!

Caftan to Beat the Heat

A number of months ago I promised to spend more time on explaining process of making a new piece. Well, admittedly I had a lot going on, but it took months to finish this caftan! The linen Moulin Rouge fabric from Marcy Tilton was the initial inspiration and it just got crazy from there. How difficult can it be to make a caftan? Who needs a pattern? Or so I thought when beginning this piece that turned out quite complex.
Moulin-Rouge-Caftan_3The other linen pieces come from my stash and were made into a rectangle of pieced fabric that I then draped on Roxanne. Cool, this is going to be easy! caftan-drapingThe back panel also needed to have a mix of fabrics so I decided to make a diagonal slice on the patchwork piece to make a wedge for the back. This seemed like a great idea and here is the back panel on the floor. However, all the angles started getting confusing on such a large project. caftan-fabric-pieceA shirt would have been much easier to manipulate, but I persevered adding more black linen until I had back and front rectangles to form the caftan. After sewing the shoulders it was time to look at the neck. It’s difficult to see, but I’m intrigued with this idea of a turned rectangle to form an asymmetrical neck. The shoulder seam is the black to black seam starting on the lower left hand side of the photo. The other shoulder continues diagonally across the rectangle to the upper the right hand side of the photo. Unfortunately, in the end the neck was too big, and I’m not a big fan of my bra straps showing. I played around with the neck later and came up with a solution, but I would love to perfect this idea in another project.

caftan-neck-detailSo at this point the project looks cool on Roxanne so I try it on. It looks terrible on me!!! Too much fabric…we’re talking full size tent, and it’s heavy! Time to start chopping! Moulin-Rouge-CaftanI decide that instead of a classic rectangular caftan that I will just cut into the sides forming sleeves as you can see in this photo of the back.caftan-pocket-detailThis reduced the bulk by about half so I decided to focus on a pocket. I’m very fond of how the pocket came out. However at that point the caftan still fit poorly. The photo below is after all the tweaking, and you can see I lost a little of the pocket opening when I took more out of the sides.Moulin-Rouge-Caftan_1

Finally, I start gathering up the front to give the garment some definition at my waist. It’s starting to look much better, so I take it over to my BSF to help me perfect the final folds while wearing the piece. I found a nice little fabric bit in my stash painted by Miles Frode and used it to integrate the intersections of the folds. Moulin-Rouge-Caftan_2You can also see how I resolved the neck. Hopefully it looks intentional…The outfit is fun, I will wear it and most of all I enjoyed the process and learned a lot!

I hope to finish my summer coat this week now that the temperatures are in the 80’s to 90’s and I don’t need it! Early fall will also be perfect for a light wool coat, so no harm done. I’m starting to catch up with my UFO projects and hope to start something completely new next week.

 

Summer Top

First of all, let me thank all of you for the kind words about my dad. The sewing community is so thoughtful and encouraging, and you all cheered me up more than you imagine.BlueGreen-LawnI’m back to sewing and blogging! Summer always poses wardrobe difficulties since fall is my favorite season in both colors and weight of fabrics. I’m determined to have a summer wardrobe one of these years, but while I started planning summer sewing in February, life got in the way. I have a spring coat that I’m still working on, but it’s a long slow project that I’m savoring so it’ll get done sometime soon. Hint: machine embroidery is involved.

In the meantime I made this self-drafted (from RTW) pattern that has promise for the second iteration. Not that this is a wadder, but the cotton lawn I used doesn’t have the right weight or drape. The shirt needs something like a rayon that is less airy. In addition I will make the shirt about 2″ longer next time.

BlueGreen-Lawn_2Isn’t this an interesting idea? The front basically ends up on the bias at the placket. Drafting this pattern was difficult, since the original shirt kept shifting around. This front idea is what I wanted to capture and beyond that, I made quite a few detail changes from the original.BlueGreen-Lawn_1 I may add some false buttons on the placket. I usually sew plackets up even on RTW that I’ve purchased. I’m just more comfortable knowing I don’t have to watch out for gaposis at the bust!The back pleat adds to the airiness of this top, which you barely feel while wearing. I find it slightly disconcerting and as I said before a little more weight to the fabric will feel better. I am wearing this “muslin” but I think there is great potential in the future. The body pattern is only two pieces so there is room for fabric play. Hope I have time this summer to make another!
BlueGreen-Lawn_3The back pleat adds to the airiness of this top, which you barely feel while wearing. I find it slightly disconcerting and as I said before a little more weight to the fabric will feel and look better. I’m wearing this “muslin” but there is great potential future iterations. The body pattern is only two pieces so there is room for fabric play. Hope I have time this summer to make another!