Saturday, September 23, 2017

Stylerc's Besharl jacket

I am guilty of many things.

Eating all the chocolate chips in the cupboard before I make the cookies and then surprising myself because the bag is empty.

That's one.

Going in a business trip with a computer case that actually contained a small sewing machine, rather than my laptop which I had left at the office. A prop for escaping after dinner events - because I had "work" to do.

Another one I did a lot when I worked for politicians.

Leaving clothes to be mended untouched for years even when I really, really loved the person who was waiting for that zipper to be replaced.

I am doing that one right now but would rather not think about it.

But most of all I am guilty of delusions of sewing grandeur.

Case in point is some raw silk I got some time ago to make a jacket. 

My intention was to underline it for stability and line it for practicality and do bound buttonholes because that was what would work best.

The problem is that increasingly, structured clothes, although a worthy use of a good sewer's time. make little sense for my increasingly unstructured life.

So I decided to do something unusual for me and be realistic about what this fabric should become. I decided to go with the silk's characteristics - drapey and mobile - rather than tactically trying to counteract it.

I decided to save time.

I decided to sew easy.

Which led me to consider this pattern, part of my current quest for a multi-purpose over everything type jacket pattern (if you have any leads for this campaign please let me know):


This is Stylearc's Besharl jacket and apparently can be made in wovens and knits. 

Of course my fabric was woven so I widened the arm bands about an inch, in case I needed the ease in a non stretchy fabric. I also straightened out the shoulder slope a bit because my own shoulders are very square but apart from that made it as is.

During construction I also sewed tape along the front edges where the bands attach, just along the seam lines. I wanted to balance the baggy look I know this jacket will acquire pretty soon because that's what this fabric wants to do. I thought taping would help the front hold the line.

I also interfaced the sleeve bands and the hem with fusible knit interfacing but did not interface the band, which is doubled, because I could tell it would have to gather around the neck a bit and I wanted to let that happen.

Here are the shots.

Of course I have to say I am aware that my photography is never optimum.

We try but our photographic department fits these pictures in around other jobs. Today that included bashing a hole in the tile in the bathroom wall as part of a get the hot water tap to stop dripping job.

I have to tell you when you pull a man out of the bathroom when he has a hammer to a wall, your first pictures look like this:



Moving on here are better shots taken after a marital consult, with various attempts at lighting:




Of course this fabric is going to droop pretty quickly, and I am going to snag it even sooner, but I have to say I am really pleased with this pattern and with the jacket overall.

One post first wearing change I made though was to go back in and sew a chain to the top of the hem allowance to help keep the whole thing from riding up and to help it hang. This technique really works and is something I often do in unlined and knit jackets if they are longer.

You can thank Coco Chanel for this little trick:



So that's one interesting project done this week, several more on the production line as we speak, or at least I write.

In the near future however I am definitely going to come back to this pattern, next time as specified in a knit.

There is real potential here.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Birthday girl Jalies

My oldest granddaughter Scarlett turned 8 over the weekend. She loves clothes and her mom, my daughter, said she wanted cardigans.

So I made her two from some Jalie patterns I have used to make adult garments. I used her body measurements picked a size and added about an inch in length because she is a member of this family and therefore tall.

The one thing I have learned about sewing for children is just how important feel is. The fabric has to be soft or at least cozy or they won't wear it. It is interesting to me that adults try to numb the tactile sense but in the end pick favourite clothes the same way - for how they feel on us.

Raise your hand if your go-to clothes are soft, or breathable, or somehow just comfy?

Interesting how despite this we shop for fabric by colour or if it matches what the pattern calls for not body feel. Worth turning this thought over in our heads I think.

Back on topic.

The first cardigan I made was the Cocoon cardigan 

This is a wrap yourself up in it cardigan without any closures.  I made it in some nice fleece that was very soft, like Minky, on both sides.

Here it is on the birthday girl:



I triple needle cover hemmed around the band/hem with the looper side out after I had serged the band on with my new Juki cover stitch machine (BTW I highly, highly recommend Sew/Sewing & Embroidery Warehouse in Winnipeg if you are looking for a serious real deal on a Juki machine- no affiliate link BTW just another one of my own bossy opinions of which I have many, all of them my own).

I felt very proud of myself for how RTW the cover hemming looked.

This was a house type cardigan and for going out to school etc. I made a second cardigan that was quite different. I used a stretch cotton knit velvet  to make this one from Helene cardigan pattern in a knit Scarlett had been eyeing the last time we went fabric shopping together. The Helene has notoriously narrow sleeves from the elbow to the wrist but because Scarlett is skinny and the fabric so stretchy I didn't change the pattern for her. However note that when I make one of these for myself I always add to the sleeve width from the midpoint down- about an extra inch by the time the sleeve makes it to the wrist.

Again I also added an inch to the length:



Oh to be eight and so excited at a family dinner birthday party!

And how nice to have an eight-year-old in my life.

Scarlett's sister Heidi has her birthday in two weeks and I will be making at least one similar cardigan for her and another top, customized to her lifestyle. When these pictures were taken Heidi was out the back with her uncle shooting beer cans off a fence with nerf gun, she's less the flower crown type, so I am going to have to come up with some patterns that reflect her feisty little personality.

And I am going to be making some replacement pyjama bottoms for their little brother Billy since he apparently cut diamond shapes into the last ones I made up with some scissors.

Always something interesting going on around here. Just another one of your picture perfect blog families of course, but they are mine and I love real sewing for their real lives.



Saturday, September 16, 2017

In celebration of National Sewing Month

To mark September, national sewing month, I have contributed a small sewing project/gift to the C & T site.

Here is a picture of the final project:


And here is a link to the complete how-to's.

Such a fun project.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Baby gift sewing

Last week one of my nieces had her first baby. Alma is a most beautiful baby and after a slow entry into the world has pretty much delighted everyone.

Being long distance on this one I decided to make a baby gift. And being a practical sort of person I decided they most needed a diaper bag with many pockets and a changing pad thingy.

I found just the patterns I was looking for at Peekaboo, a nice company that does a good job with cool family patterns and accessories. 

Here are the patterns I used:



Both patterns were very easy to sew- the diaper changing clutch is one you can file away in the Insta Gift folder.

I used a denim for the exterior fabric and some laminated cotton for the inside. I interfaced all external pieces with a fusible woven and then added a fusible fleece on top of that for support, and in the case of the clutch, so the baby wouldn't be laying right on a hard surface.

I definitely have to make up a few of these clutches to have around for emergency showers or surprise babies. 

It was fun to sew something different!

Inside view of the bag, various open pockets, a key fob, a zippered pocket, and a magnetic closure

The set and although they are made of the exact same fabric they seem to look like they are not here. Interesting.

The clutch opened up with a pocket for diapers and wipes. I would probably turn this around if I was changing someone and lay their head on the pocket.

The clutch closed - even if you don't get involved in the whole diaper bag thing this clutch alone is pretty handy.

Side view of the bag showing one outside pocket and how the interfacing combo holds the whole thing up.

The other side with a different pocket, note all pocket tops are piped for support.





Sunday, September 10, 2017

Flypaper thoughts early change of season edition


  • It happened two weeks ago
  • That morning when it had that taste of fall in the morning
  • That definite marker of the change of season
  • As usual I am not ready for this
  • Looks like another year that the to-do sewing list for 2002 will be getting pushed forward
  • Fall sewing doesn't mean what it once did
  • Where are the piles of corduroy or wool flannel
  • When was the last time you sewed wool flannel
  • I have some ready to go actually
  • Ready to be cut out since the fall to-do list of 2002
  • Last night Miss Daisy got under a bush and shot out like a bullet
  • Her little back was covered in wasps
  • Poor thing she must have found a nest
  • I pulled as many as I could off and then she ran into the house
  • My husband has one of those bee sting allergy things
  • So I yelled grab your Epipen and go into the bathroom and close the door
  • Got them all with the fly swatter and Windex
  • Do you know that Windex is excellent for stopping wasps in their mid air tracks 
  • So they fall to the ground and then you can swat them?
  • Well now you know
  • Daisy ran up and down the hall all night apparently stuck in a flight groove of fight or flight
  • Glad that passed
  • What I want to know now is where did this idea of selling fabric by the half yard come from?
  • Just when you think you have finally scored a bargain you multiply by two
  • How does this all make buying fabric a good thing
  • What's next?
  • A house for $200,000 for the half house?
  • Bananas for 15 cents per half banana with 8 halves in a bunch?
  • I have a joke with my middle grandchild, the literal one
  • When I want her to do something and she isn't going along with me and asks why
  •  I say because I say so and I am the boss of the world
  • This makes her crazy and she always shouts at me you are not the boss of the world
  • God is
  • Every time
  • Hard to argue with that one
  • However
  • Well there are a couple of things I am going to institute in the off chance I ever become temporal boss of the world
  • In addition to fabric sold only in full yards and meters
  • Here we go
  • All industrial designers are strapped to chairs and forced to watch videos of real people trying to make their stuff work
  • Grandmothers trying to install car seats in cars for instance
  • Or trying to open one of those strollers with one hand that require the strength of Charles Atlas and a Phd in Engineering to figure out
  • I would also fund research into the development of an eyeliner pencil that would sharpen without the sharpened point falling right off first time you used it until you have sharpened it down to about the last an inch and a half
  • I would bring back sewing in the school curriculum so we stop producing people who think it makes sense to pay $20 to have a hem restitched in plastic thread
  • BTW I once knew I person who ran a tailor shop who had a customer bring in a dress to have the label cut out of the inside back neck
  • No word of a lie
  • And I would ban the manufacture and sale of non woven fusible interfacing, particularly the kind that bubbles
  • I would legislate that someone would start manufacturing Viyella again
  • I would add three inches to the waist measurement of all Big Four sewing patterns
  • I would make university tuition free based on marks and merit
  • I need more students who think for themselves and fewer who let other people think for them
  • I would prescribe Bollywood dance movies for those who worry too much
  • And rhubarb pie to anyone feeling down
  • I would put a dog on every couch 
  • And a sewing machine back in every hall closet
  • And bring back saddle shoes
  • If I were the boss of the world

Friday, September 8, 2017

Nancy Zeiman

I have just finished three days pre back-to-school with the kids and was all set to sit down and do a catch-up post on my own sewing.

Then I got a McCalls email with a link to Nancy Zeiman's farewell message. I have tried to post the link but every time I do my computer gets hung up - probably nancysnotions.com is crashing with so many hits.

Nancy Zeiman's cancer has returned and there is nothing more they can do. After I read this I had no heart to write about myself and went to bed. I didn't sleep very well.

Nancy Zeiman is amazing. Her show Sewing with Nancy was a highpoint of my sewing life when my kids were small.

In those days there were few opportunities to connect with other sewers or to learn new techniques. Her show, once a week, and books borrowed from the library were about it.

My children learned early on that when Sewing with Nancy was on PBS if it didn't require the police or an ambulance it could wait. Mom was busy.

Nancy rationalized sewing with calm steady instructions and new ways of doing things that you simply couldn't read in the pattern guide sheets. 

Wrapped corners, pinning and marking in quarters for knit necklines, speed tailoring - her tips have been so deeply integrated into my sewing that in some ways I no longer know where she begins and I leave off.

If you are a new sewer let me tell you past episodes of Sewing with Nancy are worth searching out. You will learn so much.

One of the highpoint of my stay-at-home life then was when I sent in a sewing idea of my own and she read it on her show. They sent me a copy of one of her books too. I remember picking it up at the post office with three small children standing beside me while I unwrapped it. "Does this mean you are famous?" they asked me. 

To those guys Nancy on TV was a giant, and to me too.

I once met Nancy Zeiman.

I was at a sewing show having lunch between classes. A beautiful woman approached our table with a tray. "Hello. Can I join you?" she said. When she sat down she introduced herself "Hi, I'm Nancy."

As if we didn't know.

I wonder about how many women in how many living rooms or family rooms in the basement once a week felt they had a friend who shared their love of sewing like they did, and I did, when we watched her sew on TV.

I wonder how many other women, so busy with other things all day long, all week long, looked for this one half hour to focus on their own real interest. How many of you waited for Sewing with Nancy like I did?

Nancy and I are now old enough to know that life isn't fair. Some stuff happens you just can't do anything about.

We are also old enough to know that the connections you make with other people, and those who shared themselves with you, are all that really matter.

And Nancy Zeiman connected. 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Off on a tangent

I don't know if anyone else ever goes through this with their sewing, but out of the blue I have got myself on this underwear sewing thing.

It's like as a sewer you find yourself caught up on sort of a private craze, thinking about it, sewing it, spending way too much time internet shopping, or just internet window shopping about it, and then after a while you feel you have enough and move back to sensible sewing or onto something else.

The thing is you are never sure where these sewing obsession things come from or why they started. 

Maybe someone else's blog post, maybe a morning you decide you have a wardrobe gap, maybe just some more of sewer's optimism - you know that lovely delusional feeling that you have far more time to sew than you actually have.

In my case it might have been golfing in hot weather or not wanting to wear one of my good purchased bras to sweat it out on the stationary bike (something I do use on rainy days providing there is a good series on Netflix - have you seen Offspring from Australia - great show).

I am sure the need to have cotton underwear free of any kind of synthetic might have set me off.

At any rate this mania started with the cotton underpants and moved onto sports bras for some reason.

I have been working on three different sports bra patterns and over the next few days will do some show and tell.

In the meantime tell me, does the idea of an out of the blue sewing craze make sense to you?

What have your own detours and tangents been and what do you think sets this kind of sewing binge off?

I am pretty interested to hear if it is just me who gets these sewing fevers or not.