Tag Archives: sewing

B6206: “Almost no one dances sober, unless they happen to be insane” (Dancing Dress #2)

It went like this:

Oh my god is Andrea *smiling*?
Oh my god is Andrea *smiling*?

I wanted to make another V1353 out of this spectacular linen.

I wanted to sew it on the cross grain so that the stripes would run horizontally along the pleated skirt.

I was 20cm short of enough fabric to lay out the skirt pieces in that direction.

I hmmmed. I hawwed. Do I lay it out on the grain? Or no? Cross grain is better. Right? I could go back to the store and get more–I could order more online–but then if there’s a postal strike god knows when it will show up–going downtown for 0.5m of fabric seems silly but it’s the only place I’ll find it–I’ll go downtown.

I went downtown.

I got my 0.5m of linen.

And 6 cuts that I had no intention of buying but couldn’t resist: three bamboo jersey prints for dresses, three tissue-weight rayon jerseys for t-shirts. Did I need them? Define “need.” OK, no, I didn’t need them. But I knew I wasn’t going to see a print like this again:

That flower is about 3' high
That flower is about 3′ high

…plus I need to bulk up my dancing wardrobe. Right? Obviously.

I rifled through the pattern stash looking for something that would accommodate a print this large in one unbroken piece. B6206 did the trick, though even after purchasing four repeats I only had enough to get an unbroken flower on the front, thanks to the width of the hem and the narrowness between the flowers. So the back is not as nice, but that’s ok since I don’t see the back.

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The Side. Plus a bit of the chopped off Back.

The selvedge was so cool I used it as the hem and altered the shape of the hemline and the waist to keep the length relatively even. It’s a bit handkerchiefy even so, but not much, and very worth it for that lovely pink border at the bottom.

It is a super simple pattern, works up very quickly and goes together beautifully. I did my standard pattern adjustments and the whole thing was bang-on. Notches matched up. Neck band was just the right size for the opening. Armholes a smidge gapey in front but nothing anyone can see. Back neckline lies perfectly flat. I did have to sew up the back waist seam about 3/4″ in the middle thanks to that short-waisted thing, but once I did it was just right. I didn’t do the recommended elastic casing–I just sewed clear elastic to the serged seam on the inside and then tacked it up at the waist. It worked though.

The one caveat I have is the length of the skirt. I knocked an inch or so off the pattern piece to account for using the selvedge, and as noted I brought the back up 3/4″–and I’m nearly 5’8″. Even so, the skirt hits the top of my feet when I’m in flats.

The pattern is just four pieces plus the neck band–there’s no darts and nothing fussy so it goes together very quickly. I haven’t seen any reviews of this one yet, which seems unfair, so here you go: if you’re looking for a basic jersey dress pattern that works well without needing major alterations or fixes, highly recommend.

V1353: People Think She’s a Hell-Raiser *

Thanks to the Golden Age of Introversion Online, I can trust that you will all know what I mean when I say that I am an introvert.

I score well into the 90s on any test measuring that trait. Go ahead, throw one at me: it’ll spit back a result roughly stating “you never leave your house, do you?”

Q: When you go to a party, do you …
A: [interrupts] A party? Are you out of your mind?

Q: When approaching a group of strangers …
A: [interrupts] Strangers. Oh god. Is hyperventilating an option?

You get the idea. An instinctual horror overtakes me at the idea of being in crowds, particularly crowds of people I don’t know, and especially particularly crowds of people I don’t know with whom I am expected to interact.

This made it extra fun when I got to organize public meetings for angry crowds of people I didn’t know with whom I was expected to interact, but that’s a story for another time.

I am also a bit of a goody two-shoes.

People are generally surprised when they hear me swear for the first time, having assumed that I would never do such a thing. I’ve never been drunk. The closest I’ve been to smoking is picking cigarette butts off the ground and putting them in the garbage. I’m a professional tree-hugger by trade and I tend to sign up for volunteering activities well beyond my time and mental resource capacities. I got straight As. And I’m one of those unfortunate people who tends not to consider that lying is an option when being asked a direct question until after I’ve answered it truthfully. My main hobbies are sewing and reading, for the love of god. Sewing and reading. Put a bonnet on my head and slap me back in 1850, why don’t you.

~~~~~!!***!!~~~~~Magical Relatives Barrier~~~~~!!***!!~~~~~

In fact, my reputation for goody-two-shoes-ness was so complete that druggy friends in highschool would use me as their mule. (“Can you hang on to this for me until third period? Thanks. Oh my god. Do my eyes look fucked? My eyes look fucked, don’t they? No one’s going to check your bag you look too innocent.”) (And they were right–no one ever checked my bag.)

But I did have one minor vice.

Using friends’ fake ID to sneak into nightclubs underage and go dancing.

(American friends, the legal age here is 19. So this was strictly a highschool endeavour as back then we all graduated at 19.)

Possibly alone amongst all of my nightclub-sneaking acquaintance, I’d go the bar and get a water and spend the night dancing. Because it was fun, and all-ages clubs were spectacularly lame–empty and boring, populated by the sad dregs of young people without fake IDs and older men with young-people fetishes. Ew. Sure the real thing was filled with letches with a blood alcohol level so high they didn’t even know they weren’t maintaining eye contact, not to mention the smoke that would take two showers to get out of your hair. The music was loud and the dance floor was packed.

~~~~~!!***!!~~~~~end Magical Relatives Barrier~~~~~!!***!!~~~~~

Then I decided to do something super-smart and get married at a ridiculously young age to a guy who promised he loved dancing too and we would go out dancing all the time–and after the wedding ceremony reneged (on that and a pile of other things which shall remain nameless). And my friends stopped having so much fun at bars, and I had a kid, and the kid needed a fair bit of extra help, and then my friends had kids, and one thing let to another and almost 20 years passed without dancing, barring the odd wedding.

(Sometimes being a grown-up just sucks.)

Then my Dad got sick and family dysfunction exploded into new shrapnel-laden patterns and Frances’s hips got worse and we were told she would need reconstruction surgery and I decided that this would be the absolute perfect time to just go out dancing with strangers.

It even involved a bit of lalochezia, a la:

“Oh my god this is such fucking bullshit. This year is a bullshit monkey that can suck on an elephant’s balls I am so sick of this. No embroidery in the world is going to distract me from this overwhelming mountain of fucking bullshit and its bullshit spawn. Either I am going to punch this year in the fucking face or I am going out.”

I went out. I found a meet-up group for dancing lessons and just showed up in a room of strangers and started learning the bachata. I did not even know what the bachata was. Now I do. It’s a 4-step latin dance. There has also been some swing dancing, involving a lot of spinning, which is fun, even when I trip over my feet and/or fall over. If no one gets a concussion or loses a limb, I count it a success. (The secret to happiness is often having a low bar.)

As a result, almost every free weekend night for the past month-plus has been taken up with dancing. With strangers and near-strangers. It has been a very effective distraction.

My one issue being:

An almost complete lack of going-out clothes.

I don’t buy clothes anymore and everything I’ve made myself for the past few years, that one dress excepted which yes has now actually seen the outside of the house, has been either for work or for casual wear. I’m not even sure what counts as dancing-wear for the 40-something set. (Going shopping for some brings to mind that scene from Sisters–you know the one.)

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So when I haven’t been out dancing, I have been home sewing clothes for dancing. My poor neglected pile of library books remains noticeably un-shrunk.

Which brings me, at incredibly long last, to V1353:

(Andrea’s Prologues! Now 10% longer, with added swearing!)

Whew.

Here is the first try:

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Photos taken on my way out the door for a salsa lesson. Why on earth do I look so terrified here?

The fabric is a mid-weight linen/rayon blend bought last year at Fabricland, lined with a poly/rayon that I’ve decided I really like as it is mostly rayon and not at all slippery, unlike bemberg. Easy to sew with, presses beautifully, dirt cheap.

This is a test version, so I made a few obvious adjustments to the pattern–grading between a 14 at the waist and an 18 at the hips and bust, then adding another inch at the bust to the side front piece, plus an extra 1/2″ to the shoulders–but otherwise left it alone to see how it would work up. The instructions were clear and worked well, all the notches matched, and it mostly fit.

The Back.
The Back.

I do recommend basting the shoulders together quickly before adding the lining to see how it fits. A few more changes at that point:

1. removed 1″ from each centre back seam, tapering to 1/4″ at the waist, to stop it from gaping. I could have taken out a smidge more and will for version #2.
2. Took in side seams at the waist about 1″ (1/4″ per piece). Will take in a bit more from the next version. The bodice is quite loose.
3. Need to take out some at the armscye between the front and side front pieces–a bit too gapey. Also need to lengthen the front piece on the next version as it’s just a bit too high to hit the waist properly in the front. Since technically it isn’t supposed to hit my waist at all this isn’t a pattern error–but thanks to being bizarrely short-waisted, it does hit my waist in the back and I’d rather lengthen the front to match than shorten the back.

Then hours upon hours of hand-sewing to finish internal seams plus the saddle-stitching, which is a nice touch but does take forever.

The Side.
The Side. Backyard notably short on Hell to be raised, but apparently a lovely plastic bag I failed to notice before taking photos. Woops.

I love it, and have a fabric and lining all picked out for version #2–this brilliantly fabulous lightweight linen which just screams dancing dress. (For sure it does not scream business suit or casual summer shorts.)

Photo from the Marcy Tilton fabrics website, but fabric bought downtown at Leo’s Textiles.

I’ve yet to see any bad versions of this pattern on the interwebz, so it seems a pretty safe bet and like it suits a variety of body sizes and types. I’ve noticed that for those who posted their tweaks and fixes as part of their review, taking an inch out of the top of the back centre seam on each side seems like a consistent alteration, so be warned.

Who knew I would finally have a valid excuse to sew up a bunch of dresses?

~~~~~

*I don’t think they do, actually. But bonus points if you recognize the source of the quote.

The Water Day Declaration and The Swearsuit

Frances: Tomorrow is Water Day.

Me: Water Day? What’s that?

Frances: We’ll spend a couple of periods doing water games and things.

Me: Oh! That sounds like fun.

Frances: Yeah, so I’ll need you to finish that swimsuit for me.

[pause]

Me: And you couldn’t have shared this with me before?

Frances: Well, I could have, but I forgot.


So.

I made a swimsuit.

swearsuit-7

Of a fashion.

The pattern came from the summer 2015 issue of Ottobre–the one piece, with modifications for fit. The fabric was a mystery blend on discount from Fabricland, bought to make a cheap experimental version before the “real” one.

The pattern was fantastic, which I’ve come to expect from Ottobre; the fabric was fine; the whole thing sewed up well and I was pretty gobsmacked at how well the modifications worked. Frances hasn’t had a swimsuit that fits well for many years–the ones in the stores do not work for her at all, which is why I was making one in the first place.

I made a few tweaks to the cut of the legs, and that’s where it stood until the Water Day Declaration. All I had left to do was the hemming.

Instructions: “Sew 1/4″ clear elastic to the openings, then turn to the inside and coverstitch.”

1/4″ clear elastic sewn to the openings: check. Took maybe 25 minutes.

Coverstitch: …

… Houston, we have a problem.

swearsuit-4

The looper stitches were a disaster. Nothing caught. The second line of stitching completely unraveled at the first touch on the two hems I first sewed, leaving little blue loops in the inside and an incredibly snug first line of stitching that had to be ripped out, one by one, taking forever.

Now, one of the things I love about having friends who sew, is when they share gems like this on social media (this one courtesy of Laura):

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This gives you a pretty good idea of what it was like in my dining room that night. Only more colourful. There may have been hitting of the coverstitch machine (I hear that helps).

I undid the stitches; reset the threads; the lower looper unthreaded itself and I’d go a whole seam without stitches. Or none of the second line of stitching would catch at all and I’d have a really ugly line of chainstitches.

I spent more time ripping out the fucked-up coverstitches than I had spent to that point making the suit in its entirety.

Eventually, I picked up the machine and removed it to the laundry room before I gave in to the mounting impulse to toss it into the backyard. (Dew also helps, I’ve been told.)

Ripped out all the stitches again, thus stretching out the spandex along the edges something fierce, and hemmed it using the zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine.

Took 25 minutes. And it doesn’t look as nice as it would have if it had been coverstitched properly, but since proper cover-stitching was clearly impossible, it looks a hell of a lot better than the available alternatives.

Of course, with the hems all stretched out from the repeated sew-and-rip, I had to perform emergency tweaks to the seams to tug them back in a bit. No idea if it worked or not as Frances was asleep by that point (swearing at and pounding sewing machines helps children fall asleep–try it!) and she had to bring it to school the next morning. Since then it’s also accompanied her on a camping trip, but I still haven’t seen her wearing it; she says it’s “fine.” She is 12. These days, everything is “fine.”

Also, my coverstitch machine is likely going to be taking a trip back to the dealer, accompanied by some strong words, to see if they can figure out what in god’s name is wrong with the damned looper.

Burda

Remember that sheath dress I made a while back?

It didn’t work out. The flowers didn’t make it through the first wash, and when I removed them, I was confronted with the inescapable reality that the neckline had stretched out during sewing and could not be repaired.

Sad but true.

Happily: I had enough of that lovely silk-linen fabric left over to make a decent skirt. And here it is.

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It’s the first ever garment I’ve made from a Burda magazine. Yes, I got a subscription. Alone out of all of my tech-loving sewmies, I hate pdf downloads. I hate buying them, I hate printing them, I hate worrying about the scale, I hate taping them together, I hate cutting them out once they’ve been taped, and I hate trying to store them afterwards. I would rather trace out a grayscale labyrinthian pattern sheet any day, if it saves me from the horror of the pdf download.

(I said horror, and I’ll say it again if I want to. Horror. See? I’ll keep it up, too, if I have to.)

It’s skirt 101A from the 3/2016 issue. It’s got a deep box pleat in the front, and is otherwise a simple a-line shape. And it’s got a cool extra-wide hem band at the bottom, which gives it a bit more weight and body.

101-032016-m_large

Technically, it also has welt pockets, but I opted to omit those. I can hardly imagine how I would have botched the whole thing if I’d attempted to put them in, with my focus being what it is at the moment.

I drafted a lining for it as the silk-linen is loosely woven and a bit translucent on its own. You wouldn’t think so, since it’s not thin, but it is. The zipper is supposed to go on the side, but I put it on the back, and I used a wooden button at the waistband for the closure.

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The Side, with extra helpings of linen wrinkles. I did so iron it. I would also like to thank Nikon for making me look as if I have a sunburn in this photograph. I was actually sporting my typical winter pallor.

It was entirely unexceptional and unexciting. The pattern went together nicely and everything fit. The skirt is comfortable and just different enough to be worth making. The fabric is lovely and I enjoy petting it every time–silk linen! All the waxy stiffness of linen somehow combined with the softness and sheen of silk. It’s a technological miracle.

winner of the slow fashion olympics

Years ago–really–I started this skirt.

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No I’m so fascinated, please tell me more!

I bought the linen, cut out the pieces, dyed the trim with cochineal, in 2014.

I thought about embroidering it.

Then I sewed it up.

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The Back, with bow. You can see the shadow of the insertion stitches on my legs. ! You can also see a metric fuckton of wrinkles. Ugh, linen.

Thinking about embroidering it took about two years.

Continue reading winner of the slow fashion olympics

V8997 NO BOYS ALLOWED

I made a thing.

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Yet another make of V8997–this one colour-blocked, per the advice of FaceBook. And pegged a bit at the bottom, which would have helped the other one a lot, too.

Dear Readers–

I wish I could say the return to garment sewing was a triumphant and unvarnished success.

I guess I could say that, but it would be a lie.

The truth is, I made so many mistakes cutting out the pieces, I have enough cut pieces to make a second dress. It wouldn’t fit, nor would it cover my bra straps, but it would be a complete garment.

Continue reading V8997 NO BOYS ALLOWED

Rectangles in Suede (sort of)

I don’t post for months, and then when I do, I go ahead and post a Scout.

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A Scout.

Surely you’ve seen three million Scouts already.

And now you’ve seen one more!

This was a shirt inspired by a fabric–a very light, double-sided faux suede with a lot of stretch and a lot of drape. I spent a lot of time looking at suede shirts, real and fake, on the internet (probably more time than I spent actually making the shirt), and decided that I liked the look of loose, boxy tops more than button-up shirts for this fabric.

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I didn’t have a single loose, boxy top pattern–how is that possible?–so I picked up the Scout and altered it to be even looser and more boxy, primarily by dropping the armscye and lengthening and widening the sleeve. There’s clearly no concern about fitting with something like this, so as long as the shoulders were in the right place, and the bust wasn’t snug, I considered it a success.

For something so basic, it’s been getting a ton of wear, usually on casual Fridays in the office.

As a matter of fact, this is pretty much exactly how I look on casual Fridays.
As a matter of fact, this is pretty much exactly how I look on casual Fridays.

This is exactly three rectangles joined at the shoulder. But that’s what I wanted, so I’m counting it as a success.

This is Not a Stowe

The Market Tote bag as made up in the book. Yes ok, theirs is prettier. But I like my owls. See in link: http://www.chroniclebooks.com/blog/2011/06/23/in-praise-of-totes/

This is the Market Tote bag from 1, 2, 3, Sew. I made two, a stash-busting project to use up the laminated owl-print cotton I bought years ago to make bags, and then didn’t.

The book contains 33 projects, most with full-size paper patterns included. And the Market Tote bag is better than the Stowe.

For one thing, it’s fully lined. And for another, the contrasting panels make for a more interesting design.

Because it’s lined, should you want to add interior pockets, you can do so without the stitching showing through to the outside. It’s also tougher. The book recommends burlap and cotton outers with a canvas lining, but I imagine you could use about any kind of fabric you like, so long as either the lining or the outer fabric is canvas-weight. Regardless, it’s two fabric thicknesses, which is nice and durable.

On these, in addition to the laminated cotton used on the outer bottom, I used a medium-weight linen in a coordinating colour for the top, and lined it with a heavy canvas. They are sturdy, tough bags that carry a lot of groceries. And because the bottom is laminated, I can put these on the ground if I need to.

Also, Simba approves. Or maybe he just smells the port.
Also, Simba approves. Or maybe he just smells the pork.

The instructions are fairly clear and the bag sews up quickly. The only downside–and I imagine this would apply to a bag with any similar profile, including the Stowe–is that it uses up a lot of fabric. Most tote bags are made out of an assemblage of rectangles, which means you can jigsaw the pattern pieces around on the fabric to get the best fit and stretch the fabric farther. When the handle is cut on to the bag with all the swoopy curves and such, you can’t do this. It uses a surprising yardage and the leftovers are odd shapes that are difficult to use for other projects.

The other downside is that the lining piece appears to me to be a bit longer than the exterior. Double-check before you sew them together to make sure you won’t have lining puddling in the bottom of the bag, just in case. 1, 2, 3, Sew does have issues with their projects in measurements of pieces, so I’d recommend double-checking before cutting and/or sewing, just to be on the safe side. I’ve identified a few others in my GoodReads review.

From this book, in addition to the Market Tote bag, I’ve made the pencil holder (x4), plaid coasters (x approx. 12), doodle bag, lunch sack (x2), and lawn cosmetic bag, with plans to make up the mouse pincushion someday. Technically I’ve also used the other zippered pouch pattern, but it’s the same as any other zippered pouch pattern pattern you’d find anywhere, so we won’t count that one. $25 for the book on-line, divided by 7, is about $4 per pattern.

$4 Cdn. Not US $18.

I think I can handle being hopelessly uncool, under the circumstances.

The Hoard

My fabric stash and I recently had a chat about the Meaning of Life. It was impromptu–all right, it was an intervention. She cornered me in my den and threatened me with death by asphyxiation under a mountain of cotton.

An early Purge Pile
An early Purge Pile, plus a Frances

She is not enormous by First World standards, which is to say that if it were all sewn up, I could clothe an extended family, but not a village. Still, when seen in those terms, it is clearly excessive.


Stash: Please tell me you are not adding to me today.

Me: What? No, no … just these two fat quarters for that quilt I’m planning, and this metre of cream bamboo jersey Frances has been asking for.

Stash. You are adding to me today.

Me: Well, ok, but such a small purchase hardly counts.

Stash: Look at me.

Me: I am looking at you. I’m trying to find a place to put these.

Stash: Get your hands off me, back up a few paces, and look.

I did.

The three large storage bins in the closet were full: of scraps for muslins, large pieces of specialty fabrics like faux fur and chennille, and various kinds of battings. The three hanging storage units were also full: of quilting cottons, shirtings, wools, corduroy, silks. Pieces of suede and leather covered the top of the dresser. The green storage bin for Christmas fabrics was not entirely full, but close. The closet shelf was stacked with linings.

The spare office chair was piled high with impulse summer purchases. And worse, the floor–Dear Readers, the floor had three large fabric piles; pieces that there was no closet, bin or chair room for.

Me: Well, I admit that this is a little bigger than it needs to be.

Stash: A little?

Me: But I have plans for all of it. It’ll all get used.

Stash: I’m sure by sometime in 2043, most of it will have been used for something. But you have pieces of fabric in me that you have been keeping for  particular projects for fifteen years.

These quilted coasters have been made partially from coordinating cottons bought because they looked pretty together.
These quilted coasters have been made partially from coordinating cottons bought because they looked pretty together. The reverse is scraps from a cotton robe project.

Me: I’ll get to it!

It sighed. I swear to god. Large piles of fabric can be remarkably expressive when they want to be.

Stash: Listen–you have a problem. It’s like you’re a dragon or something …

Me: This will be interesting.

Stash: … only you hoard fabric instead of gold and gems. Like one of those survivalists who turns their bank accounts into gold bars, only you’re fixated on fabric.  If the global economy collapses next year, at least you and your daughter will be well-clothed! Or like you are anticipating the zombie apocalypse and you think you are going to beat them off with homemade shirts. The world is going to hell, but that’s all right, because you’re equipped to construct a 20-foot-high wall of security blankets.

Me: Are you done?

Stash. Yes. I am done. I am DONE. Done with endless growth at the expense of other goals and priorities. Where the hell are you going to put your daughter’s new desk with this mess? Hmm? And you want to add more?

Underneath the coasters are appliqued tea-towels-in-progress. The white waffle fabric was bought for tea towels I don't even know how many years ago. I also bought red linen for tea towels, scraps here included for the appliques on the white--I bought that red fabric two houses ago. And have carried it with me ever since. Sad.
Underneath the coasters are appliqued tea-towels-in-progress. The white waffle fabric was bought for tea towels I don’t even know how many years ago. I also bought red linen for tea towels, scraps here included for the appliques on the white–I bought that red fabric two houses ago. And have carried it with me ever since. Sad.

Me: I think you’re catastrophizing a little bit.

Stash: You have no need for new clothes and enough clothing fabric to construct an entire new wardrobe for all four seasons. You’ve needed to replace your bicycle for three years, but you can’t because your money ends up all being invested in the fibres market.

Me: I see your point. A stash diet may be in order.

Stash: This goes beyond the need for a minor diet. It’s time to stop. Just stop.

[pause]

Me, meekly: Until when?

Stash: Until I can fit comfortably in the closet with room to add new fabrics.

The laminated cotton on the bottom part of this bag was bought--to make bags with--two years ago. But then it was never time to make bags because there were always clothes to make instead.
The laminated cotton on the bottom part of this bag was bought–to make bags with–two years ago. But then it was never time to make bags because there were always clothes to make instead. The cotton on top of the bag was bought to coordinate with a pink-and-green print I have since given away.

Me: But what if there’s a really good sale and I …

Stash: NO!


So here we are. I’m a little frightened of what she might do to me if I fail to comply.

I pulled enough fabric out of the stash to get rid of the floor piles, and moved it down to the dining table. I then started a list of things that could be made out of it:

  • Heavy-duty tote bags (at least two, pictured above)
  • Outdoor seating cushions
  • Book tote bags (at least one)
  • Mid-weight patchwork tote bags (at least two, pictured below)
  • Approximately 8 appliqued tea towels (some pictured above)
  • Quilted coasters in a quantity yet to be specified but sure to be terrifying (12 so far, pictured above)
  • Regular coasters, in potentially an even greater quantity
  • A dish cloth
  • Little stuffed christmas trees (not that I need more xmas decorations–but anyway)
  • At least one tea cozy, and probably more (pictured below)
  • Zippered pouches
  • Storage boxes/baskets
  • Patchwork and applique cushion covers (at least two)
  • Yet Another Button Up Shirt
  • Yet Another Drapey Jersey Shirt (you haven’t seen the first one yet, but just take my word for it)
  • Fleece pants muslin for Frances
  • Potentially some dolls or stuffed toys
Mid-weight patchwork tote bags. The prints used for the patchwork were all so adorable, and what's a fat quarter between friends? The pink linen forming the bulk of the bag was bought to make a purse with. After making two large patchwork tote bags, I still have more than enough left for the purse.
Mid-weight patchwork tote bags. The prints used for the patchwork were all so adorable, and what’s a fat quarter between friends? The pink linen forming the bulk of the bag was bought to make a purse with. After making two large patchwork tote bags, I still have more than enough left for the purse.

I’ve been cutting, sewing and pressing furiously. The stack of in-progress and completed projects is growing. The purge pile, alas, has yet to appear noticeably smaller, and there is a substantial pile of fabric still to be put into a project. It is rather depressing as well as embarrassing. How the hell did it get this out of control?

So questions for you, to further impose of those of you kind enough to have actually read this whole thing:

1. Do you any of you know of any legitimate organizations with legitimate needs for these? I’m not a big fan of the “let’s give our garbage to Deserving Unfortunates and pretend it’s charity” trend. It’s crazy making for me when people try to foist their crap on me and act like they’re doing me a favour, and I can’t imagine that this would be different if I were poor. (Do you want this elliptical machine? It’s totally fine except a ball bearing broke. You’d have to get it fixed. I know you already have an elliptical machine that is better than this one and that works, but still, I think this would be a really great deal for you! No? How about this broken TV?) Please believe me when I say that sick children do not want a handmade teddy bear from a stranger, hospitalized children do not feel better when they put their heads on pillowcases made from quilting cotton, and third-world children probably do not need garish and overly-flounced party dresses made by a well-intentioned lady with an overgrown fabric stash. In all these cases, cash donations to relevant organizations are much more welcome and actually helpful to the populations in question.

Tea Cozy the First
Tea Cozy the First. Tula Pink fabric bought to make an apron for a friend many years ago. I ended up with an extra metre of fabric, and of course I couldn’t let it go…

However, if anyone knows of people actually asking for relevant donations, I’d be happy to do so. (By which I mean, just to be 100% clear, not organizations that are asking for these donations without having consulted with the target populations to get their input on what would be really useful and helpful, but organizations where the targeted population has, of their own accord, asked for the items in question.) (In other words, I don’t want to transform my stash problem into someone else’s problem.)

2. Are there project types I’m overlooking? I can only make so many tote bags and coasters. I mean, I could make hundreds if I had to, but what on earth am I going to do with them all?

3. No, I am not going to sell them.

4. However if any of this sounds like something any of you might like, and you don’t live too far away, I’d happily give you one (or more). And if you actually want part of my godforsaken (and mouthy) stash, that might be arranged. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, though. It has opinions.

StyleArc Katherine pants v. 2.0: alpaca flannel

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Sorry about the super boring pictures right now. We’ve entered cold-and-dark season in these parts and my brain is just not cooperating with me on finding exciting photo opportunities.

At the 2013 fall Creativ(e!) Festival, I circled round the alpaca at the Sultan’s Fine Fabrics booth like a dieter around the desert table at a holiday party.

I really shouldn’t … but it was so nice … but so expensive! and unnecessary! … but soft and warm and lovely … oh, but too much, and I’d regret it later … but how often does an opportunity to buy alpaca fabric come along? and how much would I regret it if I didn’t take the opportunity?

And so on, and on, all day, as I wandered into the booth, felt up the alpaca, wandered away again to look at other less expensive things, wandered back, ad (near) infinitum.

I took the plunge. They offered me a “special deal” of about $115/yard, if memory serves. I bought 1 1/2 yards, enough to make a skirt.

And then I didn’t make the skirt.

I never wear skirts in the fall and winter, I reasoned. To use the alpaca for a skirt would be to waste it. Wouldn’t it be better to make pants? But then did I buy enough for pants? And should I use the stripes on the right side, or the reverse? Or should it be a skirt? But I’d never wear a skirt. Pants, then. But what kind of pants?

Two years, it took me. Two years.

To be decided largely by impulse after making up the wool Katherine pants and deciding that I loved them.

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I do, too. They’re comfortable, stylish, work-appropriate, have great pockets, and go together well. The basic modifications I used in the wool version worked very well and made for warm, comfortable pants that can be worn to work all winter and look like I bought them in a nice store.

(O/T: I went shopping for an afternoon during my impromptu vacation. I looked in all the stores, Dear Readers. The cheap stores, the mid-range stores, the young-professional stores, the middle-aged stores, the old-lady stores, the one-percenter stores. Everything was fucking polyester.

Let me rephrase, as that is giving me some unfortunate mental images: No x-rated behaviours involving oil-based synthetic fibres were going on in any stores. Everything was made out of fucking polyester. It felt cheap and plasticy and yet somehow it cost a fortune. Apparently not buying myself clothing for a few years threw me right out of the mindset of being able to appreciate what’s on offer at your standard suburban shopping mall. $100 for an acrylic cardigan. $95 for a poly t-shirt. I was outraged. In a very western, first-world kind of way.)

Anyway, on to the pattern review and construction notes:

In this version I fixed a few of the issues from the wool ones, and made some aesthetic changes:

1. Fixed the lining around the front fly.

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I had no instructions for this in any of my books and it’s not included in the otherwise-excellent Craftsy pants-class by David Coffin, but I was able to find a good how-to in a Threads article from 2011. Highly recommended. It works like a charm, but only if the underlap is narrower than the overlap top-stitched to the pants front. This is not the case in the Katherine pattern, so I left the underlap on the inside instead of tucking it in to the lining, and catch-stitched it down on the bottom. (If this is something you want to address in your own Katherine pants, I would suggest widening the overlap piece. I found it pretty narrow.)

I also changed the underlap pattern piece. Instead of one piece of self-fabric folded in half, stitched and flipped, and then attached to the zipper (as one does), I cut it in half lengthwise and added a seam allowance, made the top piece from the self fabric and the bottom piece from the lining. The side that was sewn over the zipper tape was lined up with the selvedge on both pieces so there’s no risk of fraying.

By the way, if you too are attempting to line the Katherine pants and want to know how I made the front lining piece, I just traced all three of the front pattern pieces onto tracing paper, lining them up along the stitching lines, and turning the resulting front princess seam into a tuck (the back dart was also tuck-ified). This version I lined all the way down; the wool ones I lined to the knee.

In order to help hold the lining in place, the bartacks on the pockets and at the bottom of the front fly went through all layers.

This version is much neater than the wool one.

2. The waistband on this version was lined with muslin.

The original wool pants used wool on both the outside and inside of the waistband, but I wanted to do something a little different here. The flannel, as thick as it was, was soft and I feared a bit malleable for a waistband, even interfaced. I wasn’t sure it would hold up over time. But the bemberg would be too slippery to hold still when worn with a shirt tucked in. Also I polled my lovely friends on IG and FB and they told me that stable cotton would be what they would do, so:

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It’s a good, solid muslin, never washed so still very stiff and starchy. I’ve got no plans on introducing these pants to water in any form at any point ever, so I think the lack of pre-shrinking will be ok. I added interfacing scraps at the centre front overlap so it would hold up even better with closures. And then I used a long 1″ strip cut from the selvedge of the rayon to wrap around the bottom edge so I would have to worry about flipping it under to sew it down; just stitch on the ditch on the right side and catch the inner waistband, finishing already complete.

When everything else was done, I did a bit of catch-stitching to hold the bottom edge of the inner waistband down, but just along the seams so it wouldn’t restrict the ability of the tucks to expand.

And then I added an overly-precious cross-stitched sewing machine motif at the centre back of the inner waistband as kind of an “I made this” label. Not for any reason really, but if you’re going all out to make a pair of literal fancy-pants from a piece of alpaca you’ve been hoarding for years, why not spend the extra hour on a bit of unnecessary cross-stitch?

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3. And we’re still on the subject of the waistband…

It’s got a double-closure: hook-and-eye on the outside, and a button on the inside, to keep everything extra flat and tidy. My buttonhole foot resolutely refused to stitch a buttonhole on the inside waistband with all of that bulk in the seams, so I did a bound buttonhole. Yes, I did. Mostly by hand, too. It was so small that it was mostly easier to just do it by hand than it would have been to use the machine.

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And the button and hook were sewn on just to the inner waistband, before it was stitched down, so that there would be no stitches visible on the outside.

4. The pants were serged for construction. I know, I know. But I wanted a seam that would hold up for the long haul under the lining (which was also serged).

5. I used the pockets instructions from David Coffin’s Craftsy class and used Liberty lawn scraps. Good and sturdy, very light, hopefully won’t wear out, and with the lining I wasn’t worried about the sticky factor. It makes for very big pockets, but they work well for my insulin pump and I like them.

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In case you can’t tell, I love these pants. Now my only problem is going to be working up the courage to wear them in the winter when the sidewalks have been salted. I am already shuddering.