Are you surprised? Another post so soon after the last one! What is that old damselfly up to? Well, just for starters the unbelievable high heat broke finally so I don’t feel like I’m imminently going to melt into a pile of goo! The brains work again even if the body, at least the foot, doesn’t. Things are looking up! And I have plenty of time on my hands right now. Heh.
Last post I started to (badly) show the sketch of an idea for a jumpsuit that I was thinking about making. I used a printout of my personal fashion template that I recently purchased from My Body Model an app that uses your own measurements to create a shape that more closely resembles the real you. What I especially like about it is that you can mess with the results until you are completely happy with it before you fork out any money! When you pay (there’s a system of “credits”) you have the choice of a basic PDF package of page layouts or one with more options. I just got the basic one and it works fine for the kinds of things I want to do. You also get a plain PDF file that you can use in a drawing program if you want. I prefer an excuse to buy more brush pens! Just to show you how accurate the My Body Model croquis is, here’s a comparison of my sketch from 4 years ago made from a photograph and my personal MBM template.
MBM’s feet are a little small (and I don’t have big feet!) and the hips look a little wider because the hip measurement is distributed around the whole shape rather than just in front where I carry my weight. Otherwise it looks pretty close particularly when I draw hair and glasses on her. It definitely looks better than the usual fashion croquis that makes a body ridiculously out of proportion to reality. Nobody is actually 9 heads tall, are they? If you don’t feel like you’re very good at drawing there’s lots of tutorials (both free and paid) available to learn some easy ways to put clothes on your template. I had great fun designing a jumper dress based on a York Pinafore hack for a gathered skirt version.
And when I was finished sewing, I dressed up like the sketch.
Looks pretty similar, doesn’t it? The fabric is a “100% unknown fibre“ brushed back twill in an asymmetrical plaid that’s been in my stash for eons. It’s actually quite nice feeling for a synthetic but a burn test wasn’t definitive. I’d have thought polyester but it didn’t melt away from the flame and wasn’t self-extinguishing. It seemed to react more like acrylic which I’ve only experienced as yarn. Weird. Anyway, I love the colours and I’m sure I would have used it up long ago except for the fact that it’s very lightweight and clingy. In order to foil the cling factor I decided to fully line it with some coordinating cotton/poly shirting that I had also in stash without a clue where it came from.
I used the burrito technique to line the bodice and then attached the skirts (main and lining) each to its own layer so there’s no seams visible inside. I also added in-seam pockets because…pockets. Skirt and lining were hemmed individually also and I’ve worn this a lot since I finished it. Obviously a successful make! Here’s an interior view of the bodice so you can see the topstitching and lining fabric. My new tag went nicely too don’t you think?
So you can see how being able to sketch out your ideas can be very helpful in visualizing how they will look in reality. You can “try on” garments and change the proportions or plan outfits and capsule wardrobes easily before you commit actual fabric to the project. It also allows you to look at your own body with some detachment so your judgement isn’t as laden with so much personal baggage. It’s just paper dolls! And yes, if you’re like me and loved playing with paper dolls as a kid, you can make your own personal “paper you” all ready for your wardrobes of fabulous clothes. Anyway I’m sold. I have more My Body Models to show you but right now I’ll just leave you with this Hipstamatic photo of my backyard. I got a new “lens” and “film” pack: Moab. Couldn’t resist since I’ve actually been there! I should remember to play with this app more often now that I have a better camera in Thom’s old iPhone, huh? It’s nearly impossible to take a bad shot. So artsy.
Well, I bet you thought I’d disappeared completely! I seem to be barely keeping up with one post per month these days. This time I have a couple of reasonable excuses. First is an excess of gardening: at least 2 hours or so on most days. The veggie garden was producing beautifully and the flowers and dye plants were looking really nice (except the Japanese indigo, but that’s another story). Then two forms of disaster struck at the same time.
A week ago now we were out for a walk in the lovely warm sunshine and I happened to look up at some road work that was going on the other side of the street and…stepped partly off the sidewalk into a low area of dirt, flung myself to the other side to try to keep my balance and went down. At first I just thought I’d given myself a nice new road rash on my leg. Wouldn’t be the first time! I assured the concerned women directing traffic around the equipment that I was okay. Mopped up the blood with a hankie and popped some bandaids (which I carry in my pack) on the worst of the scrapes and carried on. Limping. Pain in my twisted foot but not too bad. Yet. Walked to the bakery, walked home, did laundry, made the bed and the pain was increasing along with the bruising. Raised my foot, applied ice but not sure about whether it was just sore from the edge of my sandal or what. Decided to wait because by that point the emergency department in my favourite little hospital close to home was closed by that point.
Of course you know the story already – it just got worse overnight and by morning I couldn’t put any weight on my right foot at all! Off to hospital right after they opened at 8am. Gotta say, getting into the car was not fun. At the hospital there at least was a wheelchair! I was happy to see they were very cautious about Covid-19 protocols and even gave me a new medical-grade mask to wear. But they wouldn’t let Thom in so he waited outside. It took 3 hours in total but I got x-rayed and fitted for an air boot and crutches once they determined that yes, indeed, I broke my 5th metatarsal. Average 8 weeks non-weight-bearing healing. There goes my summer! Also broke (hah!) my 70-year record of no broken bones. Sheesh.
Unfortunately it turns out that I’m pretty much incapable of using crutches easily or safely. Not enough upper body strength especially in my hands and wrists and wobbly balance means I needed a spotter whenever I so much as tried to go to the bathroom! And I never felt secure at all. Not ideal. So several Instagram friends suggested a knee scooter which I had never even heard of before. Several months rental (if they even had one available) was more expensive than buying one brand new but Thom did some searching on Craigslist and found a used scooter nearby for half price. He immediately went out and got it for me.
Meet my new Harley! Vroom-vroom! It’s heavy enough for me to feel very comfortable, has an effective disc brake that locks and a basket so I can carry stuff. Drawbacks are that the turning radius is very wide (I guess for stability) so I end up doing lots of backing and turning or else just balancing and lifting the back end around. The wheels are nice and quiet but apparently only work well on smooth hard surfaces. Thom ran around and removed all our small area rugs to clear the runway for me. The house isn’t very big but at least the rooms and hallway aren’t too small. Except the bathroom where I have to back in! I am so grateful that we put in a couple of grab bars and got a shower seat last year. Thinking ahead.
So I bet you’re wondering what the second disaster might be? The weather! Back in the beginning of June we actually had a couple of very cool days, one of which even broke a record low for that date. Now however, we are expiring under a “heat dome”! Several days of record-busting highs and no air conditioning in our house. Ugh. Poor Thom can’t keep up with the garden watering and I can’t help. Currently at 5pm it’s 37C/98.6F (aka body temperature) outside and 30C/86F in the house on the main floor. Hottest I’ve ever seen it in the 42 years I’ve lived here! Since I can’t navigate stairs, I have no idea how hot it is in my studio. Surface-of-the-sun hot, probably. Sort of glad it’s out of temptation because I really want to work on some sewing patterns.
This one for instance:
Sorry about the sub-par photo. Gee, I haven’t blogged about the croquis from My Body Model yet, have I? Coming soon. It’s fun sketching ideas. I mean, what else do I have to amuse myself with these days?
Busy-busy! It’s been a lot of work out in the garden but it’s looking pretty darn lush out there, isn’t it?
It’s all planted now and all that’s left to do is weed, water, weed, water… Oh, and harvest! A photo of our front garden (with the flowers and shrubs, not the veggies or the dye plants) was recently featured in an article in the local weekly newspaper so I guess other people have noticed and appreciated all our hard work. (Hint: Ours is the one labelled Mount Pleasant though we’re actually a few blocks further south in Riley Park. Also I disagree strongly with the “church-going seniors” epithet. Definitely not.) Anyhow, Thom’s elbow is quite a lot better now happily although we both have to pace ourselves carefully. It’s just too enjoyable being outside in the warm sunshine pulling weeds and deadheading flowers! Here’s an excellent article on why gardening is good for you in so many ways. Just don’t be tempted to overdo it. Ask me how I know!
Please pay special notice to our new extreme fence in the above photo. Not our idea at all. This was part of a grand backyard landscaping project by our next-door neighbours and it was A Major Pain In The Patootie TM! The workmen promised faithfully to be careful of our garden but they trampled flowers, broke raspberry canes, toppled bamboo and left footprints in my cabbages and kale. There’s still wooden pallets squashed up against the bent and broken blackberry branches on the outside of our back fence. They aren’t done yet either after more than a month of running backhoes, saws and nail guns. Ugh. Our neighbours keep apologising for the delays and the mess and to be fair they did include completely finishing in the fence on our side too thinking it would look nicer for us. Just glad I’m not paying for any of it. On the upside, the workmanship is not too bad considering the lack of skills training these young guys actually get. It’ll be interesting to see the effect when their yard is finished: deck, water feature, mini-golf (not kidding!), pathways etc. Please note that theirs is actually quite a bit smaller than ours. A regular city lot. And their house is considerably bigger. No accounting for how some people spend their money I guess. Hope they will actually use their outdoor playground more than they have up until now.
On our side, we’ve been upgrading a few of our lawn and patio furnishings. For starters the slap-dash wooden hammock stand Thom made a couple of years ago is really too heavy and awkward for us. (We will not mention that I’ve already fallen off the new one, will we? Too embarrassing. Though the bruise is coming along nicely.) Plus we needed a new bistro table (on order) and another sun umbrella that we don’t have to keep moving around. We spend a lot of time in our outdoor space so why not make it a little more comfortable. I would love a comfy couch or chaise longue but feel that our plastic resin chairs are good enough. Being on a corner lot with a completely see-through fence on the public side we’ve been reluctant to spend money on fancy outdoor living rooms in case they tempt someone to take them walkabout. It’s been known to happen. Anyway, we are definitely getting prepared for a return to family gatherings. Very soon now. The two older grandbeasties are next on the list for their Covid shots in a couple of weeks. That just leaves the Littlest Grandbeastie, who at 10 hasn’t been okayed for the vaccines yet. And of course none of us, not even 93-year-old Nana, has had a second dose either. So slow.
In crafty news, I finished a couple more sewing projects. These ones are all for me-me-me. First up, the first test version of Muna and Broad’s Sculthorpe Pants. Again, Leila and Jess have created the perfect pants pattern for me. I’m already wearing these to death!
Obviously I took this photo before the cucumbers got planted. I’m encouraging them. The tomatoes are twice that size now! But I digress. I really like the lines of these tapered elastic-waisted pants with the extra side panels and the generous V-shaped pockets. It’s an opportunity for lots of topstitching and maybe opposing directional prints or colour-blocking. The fabric was the hemp canvas that I talked about dyeing teal blue with Procion in my last post. I’m wearing them here with my 4-year-old sweater (a much-modified James by Amy Miller) in oatmeal coloured yarn that I dyed with rhubarb root to this gorgeous golden yellow.
These Sculthorpes are the third M&B pants pattern I’ve tried and they needed NO mods for fit. None. I mean, really, good fitting pants are the Holy Grail for sewists, amiright? I like the way these work for me the way I like without any fuss. I’ve also tried the Glebe (wide-legged) and the Willandra (curved seam, flat-front) pants and they are also fabulous. Next I want to sew the Birchgrove (tapered, slash-pocket) pants though I don’t think I have any suitable fabric right now. The only ones I’m not likely to go for are the Noice Jeans since (unlike most people) I don’t wear jeans at all.
Muna and Broad have done really well in the short time (just over a year) that they’ve been in business. Leila in Canada does the pattern drafting and Jess in New Zealand does the web, social media etc. They create well-fitting, easy to sew garment patterns for that neglected category of sewists, the larger woman. When I bought my first pattern (Glebes) from them I was in the smallest size. Since then they’ve expanded down a couple more sizes so that it’s possible that their tops might also fit me now though I haven’t tried them, except for the Banksia Bralette which I love. This is the total opposite of most pattern lines! In bottoms my waist and hip measurements usually put me in anything from a 16 to a 20 depending on the company. M&B patterns go up to a 64″ bust and 71.5″ hip and promise that if you are larger than that, they will draft up for you. I mean, what service, eh? Who else offers that? Nobody. Obviously there was a glaring gap in the market and they filled it very nicely with easy stylish patterns and they continue to come up with new ideas. The most recent one is classic pajamas. But what works so well for me, at least, are the pants that already have all the fit mods built in: scooped crotch, tummy room, butt room (though I don’t need that so much any more), and a comfy wide elastic waist. What’s not to love?
There’s been quite a lot of controversy in the online sewing community about pattern sizing, especially in the upper ranges. There are those who will go so far as to boycott a pattern company that only caters to the usual smaller/straight/regular/whatever-euphemism-you-prefer body shape. As the owner of a non-standard body that straddles size ranges, I’m kind of reluctant to wade too far into the discussion. I don’t even know if I can call myself “fat” even though I definitely am carrying a lot of fat in my middle section. A “small fat” maybe? Who knew there were categories of “fat”? I do know that the subject is completely loaded with heavy political and emotional meaning. And for absolutely valid reasons. The public pressure put on the pattern companies in the past couple of years has definitely had some positive effects and many have expanded their ranges to include more body sizes. However, I personally feel that expecting a very small company (many indie pattern companies are only one or two people) to immediately cater to everyone of every shape and size is unrealistic. You just might have to do some of the work of fitting your own body yourself! Shockingly, even most thinner people need to make adjustments! It’s a normal part of sewing and one that I don’t think is emphasized enough. On the other hand, being able to at least start with something that is closer to your own body measurements can make a good fit so much easier to accomplish. Maybe my trouble is that I’m such a Betweenie that I see all sides of this subject and empathize with everyone?
Back to the sewing machine. My next finished garment is the cropped version of the Pona Jacket.
I’m calling this one the Canyon Jacket because the colour of the heavy linen canvas dyed in madder and cutch reminds me of the rocks of the American Southwest. (Which I totally adore and miss visiting terribly!) The fabric is another choice for this pattern from Helen’s Closet that is heavier than recommended but, like the plaid denim long jacket, turned out just fine. This one has quite a lot more drape than the denim though. I used Janny, the heavy-duty Janome machine to sew it because I remembered how much trouble I had making Thom some shorts out of another piece of this fabric (dyed a much lighter pale sand) with my late lamented Pfaff. I broke so many needles! This time I used the Janome purple-tip 90/14 cobra-head needles which, even though this application isn’t specified in the written specs, were recommended by my dealer and they worked really well. Even better than a jeans needle. I wore one out but I didn’t break any this time. And Janny didn’t have any trouble sewing through the layers, though she did make a few rude noises! The seams are finished with Hong Kong binding that I cut from a vintage floral cotton scrap from deepest stash. I think I made a dress or something about 40 years ago for my darling daughter? Can’t quite remember now but she might know. I made the bias from a 24″ square and only had a very few yards left. A good stash, or collection if you prefer, is a valuable resource.
You can see I used my new name tag which matched the fabric nicely! You can see the canvas weave structure clearly in this photo too. It’s a lot softer than it looks but still heavy enough to be warm to wear. Also a pretty good dye job if I do say so myself! (And yes, I actually wove the placemat that just shows in the top of the picture. It’s in a Summer & Winter weave though, not canvas weave. Heh.) I’m wearing the jacket with my soft green sleeveless Farrow and brown self-drafted T-shirt and leggings. Also naturally dyed handknit socks and my good old Birkies. Apparently showing garments in a seated pose is helpful for sewists who are disabled (or sewing for the disabled) to judge better how the fit works in that position.
This is a great easy to fit and easy to sew jacket that would be perfect for a more beginner level sewist. No buttonholes or set-in sleeves to worry about and as always with this company the instructions are very good. I didn’t crop the sleeves to a 3/4 length but left them long so I can turn them up. I thought that would be more versatile in styling and for extra warmth if I need it. One thing I didn’t like though are the pockets on this cropped version. They are slightly awkwardly placed and I ended up moving them more towards the centre front. But they still aren’t comfortable to put your hands into even though my ubiquitous hankie and iPhone fit fine. If/when I make another (from a lighter-weight fabric next time) I’ll experiment with pocket shapes and placements to see whether I can solve this. FYI the pockets actually hold the extra-wide front facings in place since they’re sewn through them as a last step. I like that. Floppy facings are my nemesis!
Pardon the fact that I’m not sashaying about in this swishy garment for your delectation! It’s raining and dreary and I didn’t feel like modelling. Debbie Double is my stand-in but note that she has somewhat wider shoulders than I do. (Must fix that one day!) Anyway, this fabric is the rayon/linen that I dyed in Procion on the same day that I dyed the teal hemp for the Sculthorpes. (I was on a roll.) You might be able to see the “broken” patterning that turned out when the dyes split into their component colours. It’s more accurate (at least on my screen) than my original photo last post. The fabric is one of my favourites and I’m still working on the last several yards of a 50 yard bolt I had given to me nearly 14 years ago. It’s drapey but substantial, very fun to dye, takes a very nice pressing but of course wrinkles a lot, and is super easy to sew.
This pattern was less trouble to fit than I thought it would be. I printed a combination of a 12/14/16 but ended up just going with the 12 on the upper chest and shoulders and the 14 from the underarm down. There was enough ease to still overlap a few inches on the front. I didn’t want too much fabric flapping about! I did do some fairly major modifying of the shoulder/armhole area and recut the sleeve for my droopy shoulders and skinny arms. Hmmm…that doesn’t sound very nice, does it? Swanlike shoulders and svelte arms? <Snicker!> I just traced from another pattern that I’ve already fit the way I like so that wasn’t as big a deal as it sounds. Worked very well indeed and I can still fit a reasonable layer or two underneath.
I think the pattern is quite well-drafted and reminded me of a Tilton with all the pieces that you have to assemble. Though these are at least symmetrical and fit together quite closely on the fabric when cutting out. I was somewhat annoyed with the pattern instructions however. In a bid to support more beginner sewists, there was far too much verbiage with the seam finishing and admonishments and extra cautions and…blah, blah. As a very experienced sewist I actually found it ridiculously hard to follow just what to do next. As I usually do, I had printed the instructions in booklet format and the text turned out very teeny and the illustrations not especially clear or helpful. I ended up sitting down with my magnifier lamp and underlining just the pertinent information. Also making notes in the margins as I went in case I ever want to do this again. There may be only room for one Lichen in my life however. It’s a very lovely pattern but for me it’s quite formal? Okay, not really formal but somewhat more dressy than my normal mucking-about lifestyle dictates anyway. We’ll see how much wear it actually gets.
I did have much fun doing reverse flat-fell seams everywhere I possibly could. The armscyes are finished with faux French seams which are a bit lumpy but the seam was too curved for flat-fell. I hand-stitched the back neck facing down with a catch-stitch and it looks pretty good but now I’m wondering if I need to go all the way down the very long front facings too. The jury is still out. I was going to wear it awhile before deciding if it needs it. But you know how I feel about floppy facings, right? Nemesis. Me and Lichen and a needle and thread may be spending some quality time together.
So I guess that’s enough blathering for now. It’s been fairly sunny but not too warm for days and days so it seems odd to have a full day of rain today. It was lovely to see it anyhow, saving me from having to water the garden. Unfortunately it’s a bit chilly with a high of only 15C just as my beans are all unfolding themselves from the soil. Poor babies. They’re one of the few things I actually plant directly without growing them as seedlings first. Peas are the other one. No flowers yet but I’m hopeful soon. I wait all year for fresh snap and snow peas and for fresh green (or yellow or burgundy or purple-splotched) beans. The ones in the stores are awful.
Oh and if you live where it’s going to be visible, there’s a Super Blood Flower Moon Eclipse tomorrow night! Or actually early Wednesday morning. It’s probably going to be too cloudy to see here. I’m so disappointed because we’re in the path of the full blood eclipse on the west coast. I was nearly ready to get up at Oh-Dark-Thirty to see it but meh. Rain clouds. Sad face. We caught the Super Blood Wolf Moon back in 2019 and it was amazing. Magical. Oh well, it’ll happen anyway even if I don’t get to see it! The Real Universe is like that. It goes on with or without me.
A whole month whipped past me when I wasn’t looking! How does that happen? The weather was mostly quite lovely but not exceptionally warm especially at night. I’ve been slaving away either in the garden or in the studio and reading books when I get too tired to work any more. I haven’t been especially active online and am falling way behind on social media. Oh well! This is usually the busiest time of year for me anyhow because the garden needs lots of work after the winter to get it ready for the growing season. Thom is having trouble with his elbow (possibly tennis elbow due to injury, not playing tennis!) so his level of assistance is reduced from the usual. At least my back and wrists are holding out pretty well and I’m being very careful not to overtax anything. Exercise is great but we have to be aware of doing damage to our aging bodies. It takes a lot longer to heal after 70! It used to be me with all the ouchies but recently I’ve been fine and Thom has not. It’s a tough job but somebody has got to keep things going around here.
My dye garden is all planted now.
From the foreground and following along the narrow curving bed there’s dyer’s coreopsis, marigolds, perennial coreopsis, madder, dyer’s chamomile, more madder, Japanese indigo and a couple of weld plants I left in from last year. Here’s a better look at the baby indigo.
So hopefully there will be some dyeing going on later this summer when these guys grow up. Although last week I already enjoyed a day of dyeing some fabric that I wanted to sew, but with Procion MX dyes this time instead of botanical ones.
The colours are a little off: the blue hemp canvas is a deeper teal and the murky brown rayon/linen is more saturated too. The dyes “broke” on the latter fabric for some reason. I know that I did stir it as much as I could manage with so much heavy fabric. At least I was wise enough to divide the 6 yards into 2 three-yard lengths and used two buckets but I think the plum dye has a tendency of splitting up into its component pure dye colours so the fabric came out a plummy brown patterned with bluish-grey. It’s reasonably consistent though and I quite like the effect. The hemp canvas was also 3 yards and it was heavier weight too but it dyed exceptionally evenly, but perhaps lighter than I expected. Dyeing is always an adventure and you can never really predict how it will go. All of these pieces are already cut out for garments and I’ve started to sew the teal canvas into Muna and Broad’s Willandra Pants. The rayon/linen will become a Sew Liberated Lichen Duster for me and yet another Elbe Textiles Sanders Button-Up shirt for Thom. These fabrics have been lurking about in my stash for at least 15 years and I even have enough thread, interfacing and buttons (recycled from an old shirt) for everything. So nice to use stuff up. I’m very grateful for my copious stash because I’m still trying to avoid shopping as much as possible. Even though we finally got our first Covid jabs a couple of weeks ago the local situation with the more virulent variants is quite dire. Better to be safe than sorry, right?
So I guess I never posted the last Sanders Button-Up I made, did I?
It was hard to get a perfect photo because Thom put it on right away and wore it every day for the better part of a week! Guess that means it’s a keeper, huh? The fabric is a cross-weave linen in navy and natural tan. This time I increased some of the seam allowances so I could make flat-fell seams instead of relying on serging to finish them. It worked out very well so I’ll probably be modifying the pattern accordingly. I’ve already downsized the cuffs and took off half of the 2″ that I originally lengthened the sleeves. He loves the pockets on this shirt a lot because they are nice and deep and his glasses don’t fall out. The back has a little shaping and the cute little hanging loop.
I also cut out a cropped Helen’s Closet Pona Jacket in another dyed fabric, linen canvas dyed in madder and cutch several years ago. It’s thick but drapier than the plaid denim I made my first Pona out of. Instead of the cropped sleeves I went with the longer version. I figure I can always roll them up if I want them shorter but you can’t add length that doesn’t exist. So I have a bunch of garments all cut out now and waiting for their turn at the machines.
Do you like my new orange-on-brown tags from the Dutch Label Shop? They’re very similar to my old lime-green-on-black ones but I think they will blend better with warmer coloured garments like my soon-to-be Pona jacket. I still have lots of the first ones left but it’s nice to have a new option to play with.
I’ve also finished knitting another pair of socks for Thom but they’re currently drying from their post-needle bath so you’ll have to wait for the scoop. I haven’t really had any knitting mojo lately so it’s nice to actually finish a project. They are just plain so I can read while I knit which is obviously the secret to getting it done! However, I’m becoming interested again in knitting a cowl from a really pretty skein of merino and silk from Seawall Fibres (Nova Scotia) that I bought in 2018 at Knit City.
It’s not exactly the right time of year for a cowl but who cares? It’ll probably take me until it gets cold again to finish it anyhow. More on this project when (or if) it becomes an actual project.
I will leave you with this glorious bit of hanami, aka cherry blossom appreciating, from our neighbourhood. The blossoms of the plums and cherries were very intense this year, maybe because it was still pretty cold at night. Petals are falling like pink snow now though!
For such as these I make an exception to my aversion to the colour pink!