Beginner’s Mind

Well, so much for posting more often. I missed the entire month of July! It was kind of tedious actually so you didn’t miss much. Hot, dry, no sewing, a lot of reading digital books on my iPad from the library, hardly any social media participation at all. I did go for more x-rays on my foot and a visit with the foot specialist clinic. I saw 2 doctors, a physiotherapist and a pedorthist and I have to go back for more x-rays and the doc again later this week. It’s been nearly 6 weeks since The Misstep and it has cost me over $800 in equipment purchases including Francine the Boot, Harley the knee scooter (which I no longer need), heel lifts, a carbon fibre sole plate, rocker-soled running shoes and a pair of walking poles. The only items I didn’t have to pay for are the crutches which I couldn’t use anyway! At least here in British Columbia I don’t have to pay for the Emergency treatment, x-rays or the clinic appointments which are paid for by my provincial medical insurance. I guess things could be worse, huh?

Anyway, I do love my poles and I plan to use them even after my foot has healed. They give me a lot more stability on our uneven sidewalks and trails and also exercise more of my upper body. Here I am with them and wearing my Blundstone boots for the first time post-break, with the stiff plate inside to restrict my foot bending too much.

Finally got the Blunnies on!

I was so happy that I managed to walk all the way to the farmers market, a 3 kilometre round trip! I’ve also been walking some in my expensive running shoes but I usually need to rest my foot later in the day and am still sleeping with Francine. (Ugh. So much fun in the heat!) The Hoka shoes have really thick soles which, when worn on my good left foot, helps balance the height of The Boot so I don’t need any other compensation.

Hoka One One Bondi 7 in black, of course.

I’m not a huge fan of running shoes but these are reasonably acceptable. At least they don’t have ugly logos and white soles. I really hate white-soled shoes! They aren’t as comfortable on my princess feet as one might suppose however. Even though these are wide width, they pinch my baby toes a little but at the same time the heel counter is too loose. I ended up tying a heel lock with the laces (also called a runner’s tie or lock lacing) which helps. My foot still hurts somewhat on and off so I’m being careful while still exercising it and yet trying to get back a little closer to normal function. I’ll find out where we’re at when I see the doctor again on Friday.

So enough about the foot! What else can I tell you? Oh yeah, Beginner Mind. I’ve been trying to learn how to do punch needle embroidery. In all my years of playing with thread/yarn/string doing every craft technique I could get my hands on, I’ve never tried punch needle. Probably because I didn’t want to make twee little pictures that hang on the wall! However recently I saw a few examples that seemed more attractive to me, perhaps to make a pillow or bag or something similar. I didn’t want to pay a huge amount of money for a punch needle tool just in case I didn’t like it, but I also didn’t want a really cheap one that would be frustrating to use. So I compromised with a medium-priced Rico Designs adjustable needle from my local shop, Maiwa Handprints. I had to make a large enough order from them anyway that I could get free shipping since I can’t walk to the store yet to pick things up so I just added the needle in to that. I wasn’t about to buy anything else for this new craft so I just raided the stash for fabric, hoop and threads to try.

Hah! It’s harder than I expected! Even though the theory is really simple, just poke-poke-poke, there are details that aren’t immediately obvious. I watched a lot of YouTube videos. I modified my cheap embroidery hoop by wrapping bias tape around it so the fabric wouldn’t slip. The fabric was a scrap of linen-like mystery stuff with a fairly coarse weave but it’s just barely coarse enough to allow the largest needle tip to pierce it. I experimented with threads and tips. It’s finally getting a little easier and I’m making less “bloops”.

Needle punch embroidery with the good side up.

But you work from the back side of the cloth.

Working side up with all my wonky stitches!

It takes practice! Which is where the Beginner’s Mind comes in. You can see where I started with loops way too far apart and very wobbly. Closer together looks much better and each different combination of thread type and needle tip size needs different spacing too. I learned to make my outlines really close so they show up better. Every time you change a colour or run out of thread you have to use a long wire threader to re-thread the needle. I also played with loop heights for different effects. It’s like a really teensy hooked rug!

Speaking of which, rug hooking is something I have done in the past and I really enjoy and we definitely use the few rugs I’ve made. There is a larger version of punch needle where you can use a much bigger tool and bulky yarns or wool strips to make rugs that look very similar to rug hooking. The difference is that instead of pulling up loops with a hook from the front, you’re poking them in from back of the cloth. Again you need a frame or hoop to hold the fabric taut while you work. Thom and I have been going to make a proper frame with gripper strips for years but it never happened. Yet. I even have a 40″ length of gripper strip which turned out not to be enough for what I wanted. I may be ready now to buy another length and get to it. I have all the other equipment and I need a new rug or two for our bedroom (and I don’t want to weave them) so why not? Maybe working teensy has inspired me to re-assess my options? We’ll see.

Meanwhile I just plan to play some more with my wee practice piece, leaving most of the mistakes in so I can see any progress I make in technique. Incidentally it’s really easy (almost too easy!) to frog punch needle. Just pull the thread out. Zzziiipppp… Scrape over the holes in the cloth with your fingernail or the tip of the needle and go again. Surprisingly I haven’t been tempted to buy any books on punch needle embroidery. I’ve made do with online info and experimenting on my own. I would always want to use my own designs anyway. It’s not hard to draw on the back of the fabric with a pencil. And then it’s just a matter of colouring it in with loops. I do like the look of pile areas with plain fabric areas showing as well so I might try a project using that.

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”

May-Bee

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?

The Back 40 (Feet not Acres)

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!

Sculthorpe Pants

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.

Canyon 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.

Pona Insides

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.

Shown Seated

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!

And last but not least I finished one more garment this month, the Lichen Duster from Sew Liberated.

Lichen Duster
Lichen Duster Back

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 2020 Recap

A few of my favourite makes

Yes, it’s already halfway through January and I haven’t done a final tally of my makes from last year. Now that that government south of us is sorted and we can all breathe easier I feel a little more willing to look backward again. Plus I finally finished writing up my project notes that I hadn’t touched since August so it’s all fresh in my mind. Drum-roll please! In 2020, I completed:

  • 26 garments sewn or refashioned
  • 1 seam roll and a plethora of masks made
  • 6 items knitted
  • 2 skeins spun
  • 6 tea towels woven
  • 5 fabrics dyed
Knits

I only made a couple of things for Thom. And after I put the photos together I realised that the green Jeds were actually completed this year, not 2020! I did cut them out in December anyway. And both pairs of socks above are his. He has enough pieces now that he can dress completely in wife-mades, except for his undies! (Maybe I should remedy that. Or not.)

Thom’s new clothes
3 bralettes and some of the many masks

I completely lost track of how many masks I’ve made although they were only for Thom, his mom and me. Unlike many other sewists I was slow off the mark and didn’t make any for giving away. However I think it will continue to be needful to wear face coverings for quite awhile still, at least until everyone is vaccinated and so-called “herd immunity” kicks in. So pretty much for most of the rest of 2021, I figure. Currently in my province you can’t get on a bus or ferry, shop in a store, go to a medical appointment, get your hair cut or enter a mall without a mask on. At least mine are more fun to wear than the generic paper disposables! Who knew a year ago that they would become perhaps literally a life-saver?

In the end I did complete some UFOs but there’s still several left over. I have a pile of knits cut out and ready to sew. I was threading up the machines for the green ones but I’m stalling. It’s a lightweight stretchy beast and I’m a little nervous about sewing it. Just DO IT! Also I’m finally back to knitting on a pair of socks that’s been hanging around half-done since 2019. And I was actually dreaming about spinning last night so maybe there’s hope that I will finally complete the sweater quantity project that I started forever ago. Only another 2 skeins to go, I think. And then they all get popped into a dyepot. That would be fun for a change! I haven’t spun at all for nearly a year. I also have a weaving draft and yarns all picked out for another round of towels. But there it all sits. Sad and forlorn.

Some soul-searching has me concluding that perhaps I’ve been somewhat reluctant to start new projects because I don’t actually need anything right now. Unlike some people however it’s not because I dress differently when mostly staying home! This is my normal life. Comfy practical clothes for gardening, walking, working in the craft studio, doing housework, cooking – all the usual stuff. Really, the only things I really do miss these days is getting together with family and eating out (particularly foods that don’t do so well as take-out like sushi, dosas, dim sum, yam fries with chipotle mayo…yum…). Oh, and running away to the beach or the desert in our van. Okay, enough of that, damselfly. No use whining about it. Nearly everyone is in a similar situation.

The good news is that I didn’t buy very much in the way of craft supplies all year, instead I was digging deeply into what I already have. I managed to use only stash fabrics and buttons but needed some more thread and of course a few PDF patterns that I couldn’t resist. What I did go a little spendy on were my new sewing and coverstitch machines but so far in the few months I’ve had them they’ve gotten plenty of use so definitely happy with those purchases. I also bought extra essentials like wonder tape, clips, a stitch ripper and more bobbins. I still have a ridiculous amount of fabric left though a lot of it is pretty ancient (some is over 20 years old!) and not particularly wonderful. It’s a challenge to find the best use for it and to make sure it will be something that actually gets worn. One day though I’m going to reward myself for my good reduce/reuse/recycle behaviour and buy something really special to sew! But that can wait for now.

Looking forward. I’m hopeful. I’ve already bought my garden seeds for this coming season!

Happy Year of the Ox!

Hmmm…nearly two months of dead silence. Not that I didn’t think of writing a bunch of posts in my head but never actually sat down to do it! What’s with that? I’d blame the Pandemic but that’s such a cliché these days, isn’t it? Dunno. Let’s just carry on from here, shall we?

I did finish a few things whilst I wasn’t blogging. Some new face coverings using a different pattern, this one from the Japanese Sewing Books website called the Contoured 3D Face Mask.

Yet more face masks

These ones seem to be more comfortable than the venerable Dhurata Davies pattern. Instead of ties or elastics I used narrow crosswise strips of nylon/spandex fabric pulled into a tube. They are softer than elastic on your ears and easier to get on and off than ties. I also discovered that my glasses fog up badly in the cold but wearing them over the mask as far down on my nose as possible helps. Somehow it leaves more space for evaporation of the moisture. Or something. I also interfaced the lining on these with some crappy lightweight non-woven fusible and I think it not only gives them a stiffer shape to help them keep away from my mouth but perhaps adds a bit of extra germ filtering. There are several sizes: L fits me well, XXL fits the Bearded One, and M fits his tiny mom.

Mom’s masks

I’ve lost track of how many masks I’ve made so far (not gazillions like some sewists though!) but I’m sure we’re still going to need these things for the foreseeable future. It’s a challenge choosing scraps from the stash and even though these have a little more sewing they’re actually very easy and entertaining to make. We have enough for now anyway. Moving right along.

I got plenty of good opportunities to use my new sewing machines while the Janome was in the shop. I made quite a few t-shirts and a couple of pairs of leggings but don’t have any great photos to show. They’re boring light grey, dark grey and brown! The coverstitch machine does have a bit of a learning curve though the threading is easy. Much easier than a serger anyway. Luckily if it goes wonky the stitches are easy-peasy to pull out when you start from the end of the seam. I got lots of practice with it on the tees and I still haven’t finished sewing all the ones I cut out last autumn.

I did finally finish sewing the Grainline Felix dress that I started way back in 2018. I ended up having to do some fixing to make it fit properly – the reason I got annoyed with it in the first place. Sitting in the Naughty Corner for a long while gave me some patience and perspective and now I really love it!

Felix Dress

Unfortunately I nicked the bodice with the serger which is something I’ve only done less than a handful of times in the decades since I’ve owned one. Grrr…

Holey Crap!

I repaired it with Fray-Chek and a piece of fusible interfacing on the back. This rayon/poly fabric frays a lot though so it’s not invisible. Sigh. Now I have no excuse to save this dress for good! I can wear the heck out of it. Heh.

The rest of this fabric was calling me to use it up so I cut out a Tessuti Helga Shirt from the leftover piece. I made some changes since the silver grey test version that I made last year, adding a collar and pockets and reducing the fullness of the sleeve cap. I also lengthened it an inch. Much better!

Helga Shirt

The pockets are not large but will at least hold a phone or hankie. I quite like the collar.

Self-Drafted Collar

It lies so much nicer than the original band collar, which I discovered has too much curve in it. Again I added 5 smaller buttons rather than 4 big ones because that’s what was available in stash.

One last sewing project finished is the Allspice Apron from Hey June, offered as a free pattern download. I printed out a size M which turned out to be too skimpy on my current rotund shape so I slashed from hem to armhole and added 4″ to the width. I also raised the underarm a little for more coverage and raised the pocket height (maybe a little too far but hey, Team T-Rex Arms here). I had a great time deciding which fabric to use for the million miles of bias tape needed to finish the mobius-like edges, ending up with a bright batik.

Apron Binding
Apron Front
Apron Back

Don’t know whether the straps are going to stay put on my slippery sloping shoulders but only time will tell. The pattern just fit and used up most of a vintage cotton tablecloth that is such a dark navy that I actually thought it was black! This apron is a bit of a challenge to get into but I think it will get used a lot. Next time however I might use the larger side pockets from the York Pinafore since I love them the best.

So I forgot to mention that I rescued Janny the Janome HD5000 machine from the shop in December but all of the above were sewn using my new Brother cs6000i machine. I really love BeeBee! I’m becoming very enamoured of some of the computerised sewing machine’s tricks. I had fun using the walking foot (included!) on the knits and the buttonhole and button feet on the Helga Shirt. It was even fine with sewing the heavier cotton crepe of the apron, though I had some issues with the bartacks I tried to make on the pocket. That was just a bit much for the poor thing and it wouldn’t feed properly on the thick folded top edges. The centre bartack was passable however because that area hadn’t as many layers. I wouldn’t want to sew heavy denim or upholstery on this little guy though.

I have so many machines now that I had trouble keeping track of what needles were in what machine so I made a very quick-and-dirty needle chart out of a piece of closed-cell foam.

Needle Organiser

These are all used needles that still (hopefully) have some life left in them. The 4 button pins correspond to my 4 machines, one colour for each. I put a pin in the chart to show what needle(s) are currently in that machine. It also helps me to remember what size and type the needles these spare ones are since they don’t all have colour-coded markings. I really should make a better version of this organiser but this one works okay for now. I pinned it to the cork board on the wall right behind the sewing machines.

Well. I was going to count up my 2020 makes for the year but this is already getting rather long. So for now here’s saying a very firm good-bye to 2020 and wishing everyone a much better 2021! Stay safe and healthy and keep on keeping on. Hopefully it won’t be so long until I post again. Hopefully…