Do or Do Not

Part of me always feels like I’m running behind and the other part of me doesn’t care enough to try to catch up. I’ve read a ridiculous number of books. And not meaty informative literature either but instead they’re mostly historical romance and murder mysteries. Frivolous fluff. Like eating too many potato chips. Oh yeah, I’ve done that too. Oops.

Reading is a distraction from struggling with my current knitting projects, in particular one of which has been stalled for months. Needs to be fixed or frogged. But first I need to assess and I’m not even looking at it. I usually consider myself a knitter first before all other textile-based occupations, but recently I’ve gone days without knitting a stitch. What on earth is wrong with me?

I’m also not dyeing anything. Haven’t used any of the dye plants in my garden at all this season apart from harvesting and drying some of the Japanese indigo and saving some weld seeds. (Why the weld seeds when I have a gazillion babies that keep popping up?) I keep looking at the dye stash from years past and thinking that I have enough. Especially if I never use it! I even have a couple of things that I want to dye before summer is over. It will be next week or not at all. Wish me luck on that one.

And there’s two spinning projects, one on each wheel, that have been sitting around not progressing any further. I did have plans for the yarn but obviously I’m not feeling in a hurry. In my defense it was rather hot for spinning but even though it’s cooled down (even rained hard for most of yesterday) that hasn’t inspired me to spin either. And we won’t even mention the naked looms. Nope.

The only craft that seems to be enticing me at all is sewing. I’ve already made four dresses this month and am working on a fifth. I showed two of them in the last post so I guess number three is up next. The pattern is the Rushcutter dress from In The Folds.

Before starting to sew

This photo shows the fabric better, a purplish-brown linen. (I think! It might be a blend.) I even had the perfect zipper in the matching colour but decided that I didn’t need it. I was right too. As long as the neckline can go over my head my dresses are all loose enough in the body to not need a zip to get it on. Besides the fact that I can’t do up a back zip by myself anyhow! T-Rex arms, remember?

Debbie Double and me sharing a cup of tea

The other photos I took are rather dark and lightening them up in the photo app tends to leave them grainy. But here’s a more full-length shot anyway.

My Rushcutter Dress

I love how it fits and I didn’t even do much in the way of modification. Just cut a size E at the sleeve/yoke area and graded out to a size F at the underarm/bust. Of course I also shortened the sleeves by the usual 2″ or they would be full length. The pockets are huge and I love the little inset in the front yoke. There’s also a sleeveless version that has quite a different piece for the shoulder/back yoke with a button placket instead of calling for a zip. It also has inseam pockets and a waist tie that I won’t use. I’d like to try this variation or maybe a combo of the two views but definitely there will be more Rushcutters in my future. It’s such a perfect shape for me.

In other news the garden is winding down somewhat for the year. I replanted some of the Asian greens and lettuce which may or may not survive the slugs and insects to maturity. The arugula bolted almost immediately! The zucchini, cucumbers and beans slowed down a lot during the really hot weather but are now starting to come back a little. The tomatoes are ripening earlier than usual. I’ve got a few trays of Juliets (small paste tomatoes) in the dehydrator right now making “sun-dried” deliciousness. Sometimes I get really frustrated with the garden and other times I’m so grateful for its bounty.

Lastly, I got new hearing aids! Whoo-hoo! My audiologist gave me top marks for keeping my old ones going for over 12 years – twice as long as they were supposed to last. Probably because I was notorious for not wearing them as much as I should have. Ahem. They’ve been limping along for a couple of months anyway and are no longer repairable. It was exciting to have a good excuse to replace them! My new ones are the same brand (Oticon, a Danish company) but the technology has come along lightyears since my first pair. And naturally they’re also nearly twice as expensive! These little guys are rechargeable (no changing batteries) and have 4 programs and adjustable sound levels. Also Bluetooth so I can listen to audio directly and I even got a TV connection box too so now I can actually hear movies correctly! I haven’t actually watched TV in months because I found it so frustrating. 100% improvement. Two thumbs up!

There’s an app for my iPad (I don’t have a phone) that gives me another way to access the sound levels and programs besides the buttons on the hearing aids themselves and the separate remote control. The app also charts my usage so I can tell how much I’ve used them and on what programs. Besides the regular program, there’s one for noisy background places like a restaurant, one that will hopefully help me at my weavers’ guild meetings in an uncomfortably echoing room, and one called “comfort” that cuts everything back so I don’t feel I need to take the hearing aids off when I’m reading or doing something else quietly by myself. There’s definitely a learning curve with these bad boys though since even the comfort setting is much more powerful than my old failing hearing aids! I’m not yet used to hearing so much detail. And it’s not even cranked up to my full prescription yet. Not until October when hopefully my brain will have adjusted.

Oticon Opn S 2 miniRITE R

Don’t the in-ear domes look like wee jelly fish? Heh.

Can you see it now?

I know a lot of people are reluctant to get their hearing tested or to wear hearing aids if necessary but I really don’t understand why they should feel any embarrassment or shame. Do you feel bad if you have to wear glasses or contact lenses in order to see? It’s exactly the same thing – except the hearing devices are more complex and expensive. Here in Canada at least, hearing aids plus their batteries and repairs are even tax deductible as a medical expense which helps somewhat. (Eyeglasses are not.) Research has shown that untreated hearing loss can contribute to social isolation, cognitive decline and dementia. Sounds like some really excellent reasons to suck it up and do something about it, no? Yes!

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Woof!

We’re well into the dog days of summer here. I can tell because I feel like I should be panting with my tongue out like a dog! Hot. We spend half our lives watering the garden and the other half hunting for ways to use up all the beans and zucchini. Perhaps I planted too many but you never know how well they are going to do. Extra is better than not enough, right?

I have 6 different kinds of beans so they’re rather pretty together:

Many beans

Too bad the Burgundy ones cook up green and the speckled Dragon Tongues fade to yellow in the pot! Currently I have about 10 pounds worth in the fridge. We’re eating them as fast as we can because I won’t use them if they’re frozen or canned or pickled. Fresh is best!

So my studio has been rather steamy even with the big fan on but I have been persevering with the sewing anyway. In a switch from green I’ve been working on this brick red poly twill fabric that’s been lurking in the Deep Stash for who knows how long. I tested out the downsized version of Grainline’s Farrow dress with long sleeves.

Farrow dress with sleeves

This is a much smaller size than I made the first time and I like it much better. Not nearly so voluminous. Now I want another sleeveless one too! Putting it in the queue.

With the leftover twill I cut the outer layer of a slightly revised Sew Liberated Metamorphic Dress. The underlayer is a poly voile in a softly coordinating floral that’s probably been around since the 1980’s judging by the colours. So nice to use this stuff up finally! The bodice fits better on this one than my first attempt last year but for such a simple shape it seams hard to get right. At least it’s mostly pretty bra-friendly so I can wear it without a t-shirt underneath.

Metamorphic double layers
Flower side out

I like that there’s pockets on both layers, though I did increase the size of the outer patch pockets because they seemed a little too tiny. I’ve actually worn it with the floral side out most often even though I don’t think of myself as a flower print person.

So that’s the last of the brick red projects. Next up there’s a grey shirt. And then I’ll have to start cutting out more garments. No shortage of patterns and fabrics around here!

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Well, hello! I’ve been trying to get photos of my latest sewing but it has been very hot and I had no desire to model anything made of French terry. But needs must so I sucked it up for one garment anyway. First though, the two pieces that made a lazy flatlay:

Top and pants, not necessarily to be worn together

The top is the tunic from Love Notions La Bella Donna pattern. This version has elbow-length dolman sleeves with long cuffs and I used the bias-bound neckline from the t-shirt view. Unfortunately, this fabric isn’t very stretchy at all so the binding puckers a little but it doesn’t look too bad whilst wearing. I made the pockets a single layer underneath and top-stitched it to the tunic front so they are stable and don’t flop around as regular inseam pockets often do especially in knits. This was a pretty quick make since I’ve used this pattern before (for the snow-dyed hoodie version) and I’ve already done all my fitting changes. This one fits a little snugger however because of the thicker firmer fabric but it’s still comfy.

The cropped pants are from the pattern that I rubbed off a RTW pair and made before in grey knit. I left off the pockets this time and gave the rise another inch in height which seems more comfortable. Both of these garments have already been worn several times when we were camping on Vancouver Island so I guess they’re a good addition to the wardrobe. Yes, I laundered them first before the photo. Heh.

The last piece I made from this four-metre piece of French terry from Dressew’s bargain basement is the Robin Hoodie:

Hoodie Woman
Me, Mountain Goat?
Balance
Ta-da!

If I’m going to wear a warm hoodie dress on the hottest day of summer so far, you can bet I’m going to have fun doing it! The pattern is yet another hack of the Hey June Lane Raglan which I’ve used so often I’ve lost track of the variations. This is the first one I’ve tried with the hood and the thumb-hole cuffs (aka monkey thumbs). You can barely see them but I used tiny cord-locks on the drawstring cord that I got from our local outdoor fabrics store before it sadly closed a few years ago. Nice to find a perfect use for them. Instead of the usual kangaroo pocket I used the big pockets from the Helen’s Closet York Pinafore pattern.

So for once I’ve used all the fabric (six metres total) that I bought most recently before it sat in my stash for a couple of years…or decades. Six garments out of six metres: cap-sleeve tee (which I’m currently wearing), skimmies and leggings from the 2 metres of nylon/lycra and long-sleeved tunic, cropped pull-on pants and hoodie dress from the 4 metres of cotton French terry. At $4 per metre/garment I’d say I got my money’s worth, doncha think?

Last week when I went fabric shopping with my granddaughter I asked her to remind me that we were buying fabrics for her coat project, not for me. She was very diligent! I got nothing and she got:

Pattern and fabric for The Coat

The coat fabric is a bit soft but it’s glorious: wool and cashmere in a deep dark brown! We got that and the interfacing from Atex Designer Fabrics and the purple-brown lining from Dressew. She’s planning to make the longer ankle-length version of this princess-seamed open-front coat. Hopefully we can put enough structure into it to hold its shape without having to resort to elaborate tailoring. Neither of us are quite up for that! She’s really lucky that she’s got me and all the resources of my studio to make this big project that’s been stuck in her head for awhile. Even though she’s not-quite-15 (only a couple of weeks to her birthday!), she’s a pretty fearless sewist already. Hah, but she can’t sew unless she comes here because…I have her sewing machine! Mwa-ha-ha!! She’s gotten pretty good at taking public transit now, thank goodness. It’s about 25 kilometres from her house to ours and it takes about an hour and a half to get here. Now that’s dedication, no?

I’ll leave you this time with a photo from the walk Thom & I took today along our Vancouver harbour waterfront:

A view of Vancouver Harbour

Big Holland America cruise ship, the Westerdam, was at Canada Place over on the right there. (It’s heading to Alaska as I type.) Then we walked west toward Stanley Park, turned south and skirted Lost Lagoon, and eventually hit English Bay:

English Bay

We had lunch at the Cactus Club on the beach and then continued (well fed and lubricated with local beers) down Davie Street to the Roundhouse Skytrain Station and home. A total of nearly 10 km walk in gorgeous sunny and not too hot weather! Gotta take it while you can get it. Right?

Green Instead

Well, now that I’ve gotten brown out of my system for awhile, I’ve moved onto green. I apologise in advance that my iPad’s camera has big trouble rendering this colour correctly! It shimmers back and forth between brown, grey and a really washed out green none of which are close. Trust me that these are all a matching and evenly dyed dark olive drab.

First up, this is the Peppermint Magazine’s Button-Up Dress, a free pattern designed by Emily Hundt of In The Folds. It features armhole princess seams and a relaxed easy fit.

Button-Up Dress at the garden gate

The fabric was lurking about in my stash for a number of years, purchased on one of my trips through Portland, OR, at the Mill-End Store. It’s a lovely designer cotton sateen in a heavier weight that of course creases like the dickens. The buttons are from Dressew and are quite dreamy, like looking into a pool.

Shimmery buttons

Since there’s 10 of them quite close together down the front of this dress, I thought it was worthwhile having buttons that actually show up! The changes I made to the pattern for fit were nearly but not quite right. I need a little more bra strap coverage on the back armhole and it gaps a little back there. Also the all-in-one facings needed some remedial work to lie correctly. I probably need to redraft them if I make this pattern again. The dress is quite short, above the knee even on my 5’3″ self, so taller folk might want to lengthen it. There’s only a tiny 5/8″ hem!

So because the dress felt a little too open on the armholes, I managed to find some nylon/Lycra fabric in the exact same colour in Dressew’s bargain basement. Yay! Out of 2 metres I squeezed a cap-sleeved tee, a pair of “skimmies” (aka undershorts) and a pair of Helen’s Closet Avery Leggings. I’m always needing layering pieces and these are perfect.

Wearing the cap-sleeved tee and the skimmies under my Button-Up Dress

The first two pieces are really quick to sew and have been adapted and changed enough from the original tee and shorts/leggings patterns that I consider them my own now. The Averys are quite a lot more work to make, with the doubled yoke, crotch gusset and elastic sewn in between the layers.

Avery Leggings

I prefer the high waist but the shorter legs. This pair has legs that are even shorter than the pattern by about 2-1/2″ because I was squeezing them in to a tight amount of fabric! However, they’re still long enough on my short legs coming just above my ankle bone.

Wearing my Avery Leggings

I skimmed another wee slice out of the cuffs though because they were still a little looser than I like for my skinny ankles. It’s quite a lot cooler here today so I’m glad to be wearing them and with socks too! The high waist and doubled yoke design acts like a more comfortable version of shapewear on me, keeping the beluga blubber a little more under control than usual. Heh. Totally worth the extra effort to make them.

So now I’m busy cutting out the next pile of green sewing! This lot is a slightly lighter olive green soft cotton/lycra french terry, also from Dressew’s bargain basement. It’s a colour I have a lot of in my wardrobe and I don’t really tire of seeing it. This fabric was obviously hiding in the bargains because it’s quite off-grain even after washing and machine drying. No amount of tugging would straighten it out so I’m ignoring that issue and have 3 items all cut out and ready to sew. More green to show you soon! I’m on a roll here.

Brown, But Not Brown

Yes, here I am again! I was pressed for time yesterday and realised I’d forgotten to post my last sewing project here. This is the McCall’s 7093 raglan-sleeved tunic that I wanted to test out for a basic raglan pattern for woven fabrics. I already have my TNT Lane Raglan for knits. I’m not sure I really got the best test with the fabric I used however. It’s a rayon crinkle and I pressed it quite thoroughly before I cut it out. I’m afraid it’s going to shrinkle right back up again the next time I wash this tunic!

Pattern and fabric

The fabric is not really brown. The warp is black and the weft is rusty orange but your eye blends them together! The pattern was quite difficult to figure out the fit changes I needed to make. (Yay, Big 4.) I ended up with a size 10 at the neck/shoulders/sleeves and graded out to a 14 at the bust and somewhere out past the edge to about a size 18 at the hip. It was quite a lot more slender than I am! I also made the longer tunic version but added the pockets by lengthening them to the hem. It turned out okay.

M7093

Not fantastic but absolutely wearable. It’s light and airy and I’m sure I’ll have occasion to wear it a lot more this summer. Right now it’s actually too cool – except on those occasions when the sun peeks out and then it gets much warmer. June Gloom. Gotta love it.

The upper part fits pretty well so I know I’m going to use this pattern again, perhaps the version with the slits and/or the longer sleeves. Or maybe a completely different style from the underarms down. We’ll see. It won’t be for awhile though since I have lots of other sewing in the queue including 3 more items already cut out.

Sweatshop

Been awhile, hasn’t it? We’ve had some major family drama over the past month or so with Thom’s very elderly but very independent mom (aka Nana). She had some health issues after her knee replacement surgery (the knee is just fine though) and she’s finally back in her own home with as much care assistance as she’ll tolerate. Whew! Hopefully back to life as we know it.

So meanwhile I’ve been working on a new pile of sewing projects: prepping/fitting patterns, cutting out garments and actually sewing up one of them. But first I needed a new wrist pincushion since the old Biscornu one allowed the pins to go right through it and into my wrist! Ouch. The elastic wristband was stretched and stained too and I decided a replacement wouldn’t take long to make.

Above: perky new pincushion. Below: sad old one.
New pincushion in action

This time I got Thom to drill a 1/4″ hole in the centre of a small canning lid which I embedded in the wool stuffing. The hole allowed me to stitch the wrapping threads through the “flower” and to attach the Czech glass button and then attach the whole thing to the wrist band. But now the very sharp pins can’t go through the lid and in to me! Yay. I also covered the elastic with fabric and used Velcro to fasten it to my wrist. Much easier and more adjustable. Not too fancy but functional. I can’t sew without it!

Of course then I had to start sewing something to try it out, right? This is kind of the wrong season for a heavy jacket, even a sleeveless one, but that didn’t stop me from making one anyway. The new In The Folds Flynn Jacket called to me as a great way to use up some 20+ year old heavyweight brushed cotton twill that’s been waiting to find the right garment. I almost made yet another York Pinafore with it but I have several of those so far. The sleeveless and more fitted version of the Flynn (View B) was just the ticket and it used up almost every bit of the narrow yardage. Don’t those curved facings with hidden pockets make you just swoon?

Russet Flynn Jacket

For the bias binding I used some of a badly dyed and stamped muslin sample swatch that definitely looked much better cut into narrow 1.5″ strips. I even managed to use my 18mm bias tape maker and it actually worked well for this fabric. I often don’t bother to pre-fold bias because it’s such a hassle to get right.

Inside peek

This is such a beautifully drafted pattern although it took me about 3 days to get the fitting right. I ended up taking 1″ out of the upper body and another 1″ out of the lower body at the lengthen/shorten line. The pattern is based on a person 4″ taller than I am so I couldn’t reach the pockets! I also narrowed and sloped the shoulder (though I could have taken a bit more out of the front armhole). I had to completely re-draft the armhole facings because the originals no longer worked with my adjusted armholes. The results worked out pretty well.

I enjoyed the special attention to detail in the instructions too. For once I actually followed them to the letter! The jacket ends up completely finished inside.

Inside-out to show the bias binding

There’s lots of extra little techniques included: under-stitching, stitch-in-the-ditch, trimming the facings for smooth turn-of-cloth, 2 different bias applications. Lovely. I got great use out of my stitch-in-the-ditch foot too which really helped to do the job nicely. All-in-all this was a very satisfying project. Now I’m hoping to find the right fabric in the stash for View A, the more loosely-fitting jacket with drop-shoulders, sleeves and a box pleat in the back. I’ve already done the fitting changes on the pattern. I think it will need a lighter weight than this heavy-duty twill. The hunt is on.

Meanwhile I still have four more garments cut out and ready to sew. Yes, I’m quite the factory sweatshop here! Going with the enthusiasm while it lasts. It was even literally a sweatshop for a couple of days though now the temps have gone back down to normal. The Swamp Cooler is already in the studio for the summer and ready to go back to work when it heats up again. Moving right along…

Bright and Dark

How did it get to be June already? The weather has certainly been pretty nice here for the last couple of days. I got my zucchinis and cucumbers in the ground. Finally. The beans are all up and the peas are flowering. I haven’t quite finished cleaning up the front garden sections but making good headway on them. Thom does all the pruning, tying up and big weeding but it’s up to me, as he says, to fine-tune it by more careful weeding and planting annuals. Somehow it’s been taking much longer than usual to get to where we just have to water and watch things grow. Guess I say that every year, huh? Must be true.

Anyway, I’ve also been spending quality time in my studio (which is probably why the gardening is taking so long!) and finished all 8 of my knit garments that I had cut out before the end of May. Whew. Here’s the last three, starting with the second T-shirt from the snow-dyed cotton knit. This is the bright part.

Snow-dyed Lane Raglan

As you might recognise this is my raglan TNT, the Hey June Lane Raglan. This one has 3/4 length sleeves which are actually more like 7/8 length on me. I went back to using my walking foot on this one and it went quite a lot more smoothly than the La Bella Donna tunic in the same fabric. I also snugged up the neck binding a lot more than usual and that solved my too-loose neckline problem quite nicely. It still lies nice and flat. This top is so fast and easy to sew and I’ve managed to fit it loosely enough in the body that I feel comfortable with it as either an underlayer or on its own. I will be making more of them very soon.

Hey June Handmade has patterns (most PDF but a few also paper) for quite a few basic casual wardrobe pieces for women and children. The drafting is quite good and the instructions are excellent. There’s lots of tutorials and hacks available on the website too. The Lane Raglan is my only personal experience with Hey June but obviously I’m very pleased with this one. The original pattern goes from an XS to a 2X with a finished bust measurement of 47.5″. The included FBA pattern piece will bring that up to 49.7″ so it should fit quite a broad spectrum of bodies. I think it would be relatively easy to grade up if necessary too. As usual I’ve done a few fitting adjustments: raised the front neckline and then the whole neckline and graded out from the size L (FBA) bust to beyond the 2X at the hip. Also shortened the sleeve. I do know it’s very hackable because I’ve made T-shirts, tunics and dresses. It’s also quick and easy to sew. A perfect TNT.

Next for the dark part, we have the two pairs of leggings I made from a novelty black rayon spandex from Dressew. Here’s a close-up of the interesting fabric.

Novelty knit

The sales person at Dressew asked me what I was going to make with this when I bought it. I’m sure she hadn’t thought of leggings or tights! I am now kicking myself because I should have bought more. The weight and stretch and slink factor are perfect for underlayering. And of course black is a neutral that goes with everything. Unfortunately that was way back in January and I’m pretty sure there’s no more in the store. And since I’m on a Stash Diet until I can use up some of what I already have, I’m not going there. It’s like trying not to taste some of everything at a banquet! I have no self-control.

My first thought was I wanted to try Helen’s Closet Avery Leggings pattern with this fabric. I’ve had the pattern for awhile but hadn’t even assembled it. I had to decide on the pattern size(s) to print since Helen has layered sizes so you can print whichever one(s) you want and the rest doesn’t clutter up the printout. I went with the L and the XL but ended up using the L just as it comes. How unusual! I combined the shorter legs with the wider waistband and I really like the results. The legs below the calf are a little loose on my skinny ankles so I’ve modified the pattern for next time. Too lazy to fix this pair.

Avery Leggings

It does need to be a very stretchy fabric to wiggle on over my hips but this stuff was up for it. I like the way the doubled waistband cuts the belly jiggle down but not as restricting as shapewear. I’m somewhat leery of the enclosed 1/2″ elastic which may eventually die and not be at all easy to replace. It has 3 separate layers of stitching through it which usually doesn’t improve its longevity at all. I usually prefer to keep my waistband elastics easily adjustable and replaceable if necessary. That really contributes to keeping a garment wearable for much longer. Now it’s a contest to see whether the fabric or the elastic gives up first. We shall see.

The Averys do take a bit more fabric and more sewing since there’s 7 pieces total to assemble as compared to my TNT, the OOP Kwik Sew K2797 (from 2011), which only has 2 pieces. I used the latter for a pair of Skimmy Shorts to wear under dresses this summer to prevent chafing.

Kwik Sew 2797

I would love to have 2 more pairs of these! Sigh. Who knew this fabric would work out so well? Did I mention it was very easy to sew? Totally cooperated all the way.

So what’s next? I have lots of patterns I want to make and lots of fabric to make them with! I need another major cutting out marathon first. I’m having some trouble figuring out where to start and matching which fabric goes to which pattern. Guess I’ll just have to dive in and do it, yeah? Once it’s cut out that will be what it will be!