Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The column dress

This is last year’s make.  It was an experiment.  The fabric was “inherited”.  The colour – a rather boring cross between navy and dark grey (and a bit of brown?).  Could be part wool.  Could be who knows what.  Sent it through the washer and dryer.  It survived, though it did become a little fuzzy/pilly.  For an experiment and for every day wear it would do.  As for a pattern, I opted to just lengthen Butterick 5948 (OP?).  The inspiration were various column-type dresses that I had seen on various sites.  It’s very comfortable.  (It’s a sack, for heaven’s sake!)  It’s warm.  It can be layered over a turtle neck, a t-shirt or whatever.  No closures – just a placket to make it easy to pull over my head.
  Facings on the outside.  The sleeves were a bit wide, so I opted to just fold the hem, put in a buttonhole and button. 
 Absolutely needed pockets.  They’re just one-layer in-seam pockets that were stitched down through the top layer. 
 Decided on a shirt-tail hem.  And then there was the issue of some sort of reinforcement at the stress points, i.e. top and bottom of pockets, as well as the top of the shirt tail.  Bar tacks would have been just too boring.  Stitched arrowheads weren’t looking right with the thread options that I had.  Came up with these little triangles of a cotton print that I stitched down by hand. 
  It’s somehow satisfying to have some hand sewing to do to finish up a project.  Overall, the experiment worked quite well.  Very comfortable (did I say that already?).  Very wearable for every day.  On the down side – it wrinkles, picks up dog hair as well as any lint brush (is there such a thing as dog-hair-proof fabric?)  Do I need another variation on this theme?  Perhaps.  Perhaps not.  I still haven’t decided whether it’s worth sacrificing “good” fabric for a similar dress.
Bad face day and the dress isn't hanging smoothly - oh well.
 One more attempt at self-photography, because as bad as it is, you then don’t have to imagine how I look in it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Two bags

Not much sewing has been going on around here, probably going back to August.  First I injured my hand.  I was right in the middle of sewing samples for my Fall classes.  Somehow I did manage to finish up the most important things and the rest were pulled from my closet.  (My daughter’s brilliant idea.)  Injured hand being my right (I think there was a minor fracture, but why waste time going to emergency – it still needed time to heal, and I didn’t need anyone to tell me that), I took it as an excuse to do minimal anything – well, not really.  Then it was October and time to get ready for the church bazaar.  No time to sew, though I did manage a few little cosmetic bags for the sale.  As I was recuperating from October, my mother’s accident happened, then the funeral and all the rest of the busyness that follows and when the end of November came, I realized that I hadn’t sewn a thing that month.  There are projects on the go that could be finished, but for some reason that just wasn’t motivation enough to get me to sit down in front of the sewing machine.  I needed something to ease myself back into things.  An easy project.  Rhonda and Cenetta came to the rescue. 
Cenetta’s clutch purses appeared first, and I gave them a lot of thought.  I don’t have any immediate need for a clutch purse.  Then came Rhonda’s tote bag post.  That made me sit up and take notice.  I needed a tote bag rather desperately.  The last one I had was taken over by my mother.  She always carried a tote – put her purse inside and still had room to “tote” around far too many things.  But every time I made her a tote, she would give it away to someone who “desperately” needed a bag to carry something.  I got angry and said that I would not make any more totes for her.  The next time I saw her getting ready to go somewhere or other, trying to put something into a plastic grocery bag to take along, I relented and handed her my tote.  Thus it became her tote.  I made do with carrying armloads of stuff to classes, promising myself a new tote.  Mum’s tote is now available for use, but after the accident it’s dirty, and I’m still pondering whether to try to clean it and use it, or just toss it.  Rhonda’s tote bag started me thinking that a tote would be easy to make, just the thing to get me back in front of the sewing machine. And so I continued to convince myself until Sunday evening when I finally dove into the project.  I didn’t finish on Sunday night, but I got a good start, and on Monday it was done.
two bags
There were some tough decisions to make.  I had fabric – leftovers from my Renfrew coat (still to be shown here).  It’s a heavy polyester twill with a bit of stretch and some plasticky foiling.  From a distance it looks like leather.  One down.  Started digging for a lining.  Found leftovers from a quilted jacket that I made years ago.  What was I saving it for?  Another jacket? No fusible batting.  Well, I had buckram.  Buckram would do to make a nice stiff tote.  Found 4 matching D-rings.  Found a magnetic snap of some sort.Ready to sew.
These are a little weird.  They are enclosed in some sort of plastic, which then gets sewn to the wrong side of the lining.  Not a very strong magnet once they're sewn in, with two layers of fabric between the actual magnets.  They'll do in this case.
I made a few changes from the instructions (aside from the changes in materials).  I wanted a wider bottom, so instead of measuring down 2 inches from the corner when boxing the corners, I measured down 3 inches, which gave me 6 inches across the bottom.  Because I used buckram for stiffening, I wasn’t too keen on sewing inside out then pulling things right side out.  Buckram is very stiff.  Instead, I made up the outside of the bag and the lining separately, folded down the half inch at the top on both, inserted the lining and edge stitched all the way around.  The handles (obviously) were made from the same fabric.  I started with about a 30 inch length, pinned the handle in place, put it on my shoulder and shortened it to where it was comfortable to carry.
Once the tote was done, with fabric left over and still lying around on the cutting table, I convinced myself that I really needed to just whip up Cenetta’s clutch. 
I made the one with the pocket on the back
Lining was an easier find this time – not so large a piece needed.  
Once again I didn’t have the right fusible felt, but I managed to round up some pieces of something of a similar weight, which I had to piece, then zigzagged them to the edges of the outer fabric, just so they wouldn’t shift around during sewing. 
I finished the handle by wrapping a strip of taffeta around the join to cover the raw edges.
I thought the clutch looked somehow unfinished as I was snapping pictures.  The zipper tab looked naked.  So while I was doing other things, I kept thinking of some sort of beads and what to do with them, and then I came across these beads on a string in the top drawer of the front hall chest. 
It pays to put things away in drawers, because you never know what you might find in there.  I have no idea where these came from, or what they were possibly attached to previously, but I do remember popping them in the drawer for lack of a better place to put them.  Anyway, I do think that they do the trick quite well here.  Just the thing to finish off the pull.  (And one less piece of “junk” lying around.)
Luck would have it that there was a lonely black zipper of some odd length that needed a place to go.
So – thank-you Rhonda and Cenetta for lighting the fire under me.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Life gets in the way

Once again, life managed to throw a few curve balls.  I was determined to get in a blog post before November came to an end, but somehow I just couldn’t manage that.  Back up to October.  My trusty old dinosaur of a computer finally died.  It took a few weeks of research, angst, etc., etc., to make the decision of what would be the replacement.   You have to realize – the old computer was about 15 years old.  It served us well.  I am just not used to running out and buying replacement technology at the drop of a hat.  It was a very stressful few weeks.  (How can I survive without my e-mail??  Blog reading??   Etc., etc.)  Then there was the whole process of adjustment to new everything.  Buttons in the wrong places.  Oh – and of course whatever (newer) photographs I had were on the old computer.  My cousin assures me that he can recover all my files, but that requires taking the dinosaur’s pieces to my cousin’s house, and that just hasn’t happened as yet.   On the plus side – turns out this new Office programme has a template for blogs.  So here’s hoping that this makes blogging a whole lot easier/less stressful.  (I was always rather nervous of typing into “space”.

I’ve had other things to deal with.  My mother passed away very suddenly at the beginning of November, and I’ve had (and still have) an inordinate amount of “stuff” to do.  Blogging just seemed to get pushed to the very back of the list.  I’ve been sorting, tossing, shredding mountains of paper.  Sorting “stuff”.  Because Mum lived with me, all of this wreaked havoc on the house.  The smart thing seemed to be to just deal with all of this and then tackle the normal cleaning and putting back everything to whatever goes for normal around here.  So here it is December, and I really do need to try for some semblance of “normal”.  One day at a time is all that one can do.
On that note – new pictures of new (or not so new) makes not yet having happened…  This is what I was up to several weeks ago…
One of the staff at our local branch library decided to set up a sewing machine, so that whoever so wished could play around on it.  Week after week I saw this machine sitting there with one lonely piece of fabric.  More and more stitching was building up on this now rather tattered piece of cloth.   So I dared to ask – just how much interest there was in stitching.  Apparently, quite a few people were trying out their hand at stitching.   Hm – sounds rather boring – everyone stitching on this one “rag”.  Let me make it a tad more interesting…
I stitched up a very simple bag,

 made up an instruction booklet,

cut a stack of rectangles, marked them,

added a handful of ribbons and cords for drawstrings (and thread, of course) and delivered them to the library.
Apparently quite a few bags have been made (some have been kindly gifted to the staff).  There’s a special ed class that comes into the library once a week, who have a fun time with this project.  Now I’m thinking that some Christmas stockings would be in order for some stitching fun, but I doubt my ability to deliver at this time.
An hour (OK – perhaps two) of my time, and a whole lot of little people (and perhaps not-so-little people) have a try at sewing something “useful”.  Bonus – I cleared out some scraps of fabric and other stuff that weren’t going anywhere anytime soon.