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I am a mother, a grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Thursday, February 21, 2019

Butterick 6251

I had to laugh when I read my last post.

I realize that you probably looked at it and thought "Babs is sleeping under a bridge. Oh god that woman."

Really, no need to worry, this was a legitimate RV camping place, just happens that the spots at one end are under the entrance to a huge overpass. 

When you rv down this time of the winter so many places en route just aren't open so you take what you can get when you need it.

At any rate we have landed in the wonderful McKinney State Park just outside of Austin, Texas, where we have one son. For the next month or so this is what my sewing room looks like. We have a real long extension cord and I can set up the ironing board next to the rv and just plug in the iron to an outside plug.

Perfect arrangement.

I will be setting up there shortly with the Rocketeer, a couple of projects I pre-cut at home, and a can of wasp spray. 

The wasp spray is in case I have another coyote circle the table like I did last year. They really are pretty attractive, smooth moving animals, and I don't mind them looking at me, it's the looking through me to another world part I don't really like.

Apart from the coyote issue this is a lovely place to sew. I am looking forward to it after nearly six days on the road.

The campsite has also provided me with a nice backdrop to a project I finished up while we drove - sort of camping sweater coat thing made up in some really thick cotton sweatshirt type fleece.

Here I am with Daisy who is keep an eye out for things that move in the bush

You know how sometimes you make a project and you think it will be great, and it actually turns out kind of not great?

Well in my estimation for every 10 or those you occasionally pull off a low-expectations-going-in project that you really like a lot.

This sweater coat was one of those.

The pattern I used was Butterick 6251  I got so long ago I don't remember getting it. The main attraction of this pattern for me was the shawl collar. Coming from a cold climate and possessing a scrawny neck I have never met a shawl collar I didn't like.

The reason I like this coat so much is probably the fabric. It has sort of a confetti thing going on, a clear knit on one side and a really, really thick fluffy side on the other:

I am completely crazy about this fabric and would get more in other colours if I could. 

Which reminds me to contact Angry Ballerina Fabrics where I got it - one of a number of cool knit little fabric online stores (often with an interesting ranges of weight in solids) we have in Canada. You know my US readers with the dollar it is, it would make sense to look at some of these sources, mostly run by young momenterpreneurs.  Blackbird is probably the most familiar of these companies, but I have also been really happy with fabric from Fabric Snob, Mint Lily Fabrics, L'oiseau fabrics, and Fabric Crush. 

There are other sources too, but these are just the ones I have ordered from. And of course I am on all the Facebook groups for each vendor which means I am able to sit in my bed in the morning with my coffee and order fabric before I am even up or can change my mind.

Back to this project.

I ended up doing a fair bit of hand sewing on this one, which was fine with me as I had 2,300 miles to kill to get here.

First off I followed the pattern instructions and topstitched on the pockets. In the light of day through the window of the rv it became clear to me that topstitching was not a good idea in such thick and bouncy fabric. That hard line of machine stitches just sort of violated the hand of the fabric and cheapened it a bit, as much as you can cheapen a camping coat made out of sweatshirt fleece.

As a result, and since I had some time on my hands which never ever happens at home, I unpicked the pockets and slipstitched them back on with some reinforcing backstitching done into the seam allowances from the wrong side. This is how they looked after I did that:

I also had a dilemma over closures. 

One of the great mysteries of life as we know it know to me is this current idea that a cardigan for any season but the summer makes sense to be closureless.

I mean really. 

Think about it. 

An open, no button attached cardigan might make sense for wearing in the office in one of those places that always have the AC turned onto super, super high, but for any other time when you put on a cardigan you are doing so because you are cold. 

And to stay warm you would want to button it up.

So why not build the cardigan to be able to do it? Why make an article of clothing that you need to keep you warm with a built in draft down the middle of it?

Since I am on a rant let me continue.

I have recently being looking at Aran sweater cardigan patterns on Ravelry. An amazing number of them look like the one worn by this knitter in the home page today:

What do you notice here? 

First there is a lot of serious knitting gone on. This is no make-it-in-a-weekend project.

Second this person obviously has a sweater on because she is cold. She looks cold to me.

Third the only way she can keep warm in this item, that undoubtedly cost her $200 in yarn and four years to make, is to grab it with two hands and wrap it around her. 

I know this look. 

It is the national costume worn by Canadian woman who dash out with a sweater on over their flannelette nightgowns, and in their boots, to get the car started so it will be warm when they have to drive the kids to school.

The problem of course in using your hands as closures is how would you do anything else? Like what if you have to scrape the ice off the windshield? Or grab that dumb cat and bring it in? Or use your phone to call your husband and have a discussion because he said he would put gas in the car but forgot?

Why not put a few buttons on that cardigan?

Where did this no closure movement come from?

Is there a world shortage of buttons going on that you all forgot to tell me about?

So all this means this coat thing I made has snaps.

After having determined that machine stitched on pockets defiled the integrity of my sweatshirt fleece of course I couldn't make machine buttonholes.

So instead I sewed on some nice big snaps I got a while ago in Botani in NYC. 

 These look pretty sharp IMO but to make them work securely you have to stitch them right through the facing which makes a little right side dimple in the fabric, which you can see better here:

I am OK with that but maybe not everyone would be.

Out of interest my T-shirt is the Favourite Tee by Patterns for Pirates and the pants are Stylearc's Margaret pants. Despite going through considerable angst about making wide leg pants because they are fashionable I really wonder if they suit me. In fact I might be shortening the pairs of wide pantsI have made to 3-4" at least above the ankle. Otherwise I think they swamp me. I think the Margaret's are just about right for my legs.

It will be interesting what else I decide to make while I am here in Texas. I have been so, so busy at home this fall and winter. I really intend on letting myself float a bit while I am here. 

Pretty sure it is time for some of that.


Anonymous said...

I did actually have that sleeping under the bridge thought with the last post, also thought of trolls, perhaps not a problem in Tennessee.

Coyotes could be a problem for Miss Daisy, I would think.

Anxious to hear how the body work asymmetry consultation goes! I think that was a Texas thing?


bbarna said...

My daughter and I just had that discussion about cardigans. I made her one that had no buttons and I haven't heard the end of it. I have purchased a new pattern so the next one will have buttons. Love the jacket. If you have no luck at the store that you purchased it from , Fabricland has tons labeled sweater knit. Looks very much the same, only in darker colours. I also like to support the smaller Canadian online stores. Have fun sewing in the park.
Barb from Prince George

Linda W said...

“It is the national costume worn by Canadian woman who dash out with a sweater on over their flannelette nightgowns, and in their boots, to get the car started so it will be warm when they have to drive the kids to school.”

Hahaha!! I’m from Michigan and I know what you mean. I’ve been cold since October and there’s no end yet in sight. Having buttons on a cardigan means I might get away with one less layer underneath.

Best wishes, enjoy your trip!

Sarah Wale said...

I envy your outdoor sewing room - so tranquil.

Edge to edge cardigans sound good but, as you say, aren't really fulfilling their proper function. I have a beautiful 3/4 l3ngth heavy, cream Aran knit coat and couldn't think why I never wore it until I realised that was the reason. Unfortunately the edge-to-edge thing is just that and there is no overlap for making buttons and buttonholes, or your idea of snazzy press studs so I bought an open-ended zipper and now I wear it all winter. I didn't make the zipper the full length of the coat as it would have been a bit clingy over my imperfectly-proportioned posterior (I am not tall and am of 'comfortable' buildwith the top from the notch at )so I got one that was for a long hoodie (28"/71cm) and it worked well placed the base of my throat down to hip level. Keeps the bod warm and still allows movement and sitting.
I like your pants' legs the way you have them from the Margaret pattern. To be honest, I have yet to meet the woman who looks good in wide legged pants, except for someone tall and thin wearing silky, very wide palazzo pants in the evening ... and even then a swishy skirt would have looked even better!
Keep on blogging!

Moosiemoose said...

Love your camp coat. That fabric looks so fun and cozy. So true about the open cardigans. Carolyn at Diary of a Sewing Fanatic was just blogging about the same issue. What makes even less sense to me are the coat patterns without closures. And even if warmth isn't the issue they still flap about as you walk. Put a button on it!! Enjoy your time in Austin! Jean

Leigh said...

Amen on the no buttons! What ARE they thinking??? There are actually COAT patterns like this too. Ugh. Why? And yes you CAN redraw the fronts to accommodate buttons, but why should I have to? I think they do it to RTW so that they can skip facings and buttons and increase profit. I think patterns do it because they can sell more "easy" patterns and for some reason people think buttons and facings are hard.

SewRuthie said...

I have realised this winter that I like my indoor layer to have a front fastening and pockets, preferably pockets which zip so things don't fall out. I've also made lots of things which have a belt to hold the fronts closed but that still leaves a cold patch on the sternum!
The open fronts do make a central line which can be slimming, but a placket or zip could serve a similar vertical visual cue and be warmer.

Kathy Zachry said...

Barb, if your pants are wide-legged then the world is flat! They look like just-right trouser legs to me. It does feel funny to wear “normal” pants when we’re so used to skinny jeans and leggings, doesn’t it. You look sharp -better than I ever looked when we rv’ed. Love your coat! Do you like or hate this new”coatigan” word (mashup of coat and cardigan.) To me, if it’s a short coat it’s a jacket, and if it’s a long sweater, it’s a long sweater.

Have fun in Texas! Kathy

beckster said...

I actually like cardigans without buttons to wear in the house in the winter. They generally hang better, and when I sit down, they don't bunch up. However, I never wear them outside, that's crazyville! I love your pants. I was going to ask tyou what pattern you used. I am not, repeat not, going to wear wide-legged pants. I am 68 years old, and fashion be damned. (can I say that here?) I couldn't think of another way to say to get my point across. Fashion dictates so many nutty things, like 4 inch stilettos, and I refuse to buckle under to their whims to increase their profit margins. Besides, I think they are frumpy looking. Love your sewing set-up! Yes, relax, after all the stress you have been under. You certainly deserve it.

VeraS said...

I know that those of us who post about the no-closures issue are a self-selecting group, of which I am one! - but WHY are there so many patterns for sweaters/sweater-coats/coatigans/coats with no closures?? I don't get it.

Part of my issue is I am well-endowed (thanks grandma) and I really, really dislike any over-thing - sweater or coat - flapping around my girls as if they're attracting attention. Um, NO. Just no.

Lately I've seen so many lovely long cardigan patterns but as soon as I see they are open in the center I'm off to find another pattern.

So thank you for an entertaining (as usual) post and for highlighting the lack-of-closures dilemma. If only everything were so easy!

Unknown said...

I have to speak up for the open cardigan - i think they are brilliant for moderate climates - they let you breathe. But for cold weather, I agree they are kind of worthless.

Also, your description of a coyote’s stare is about as spot on as I’ve ever seen! Used to live in Austin myself, cant say I miss it that much though.

MissRosieLynn said...

Living in Southern California, unbuttoned cardigans usually are fine...until this year. Snowed in Los Angeles this past week for the first time ever, so closed up outerwear is a must at those temps. I don’t have much of a tolerance for the cold. I really like the fabric and style you chose. It has a happy vibe.

I love you flypaper posts. Reminds me of my flying thoughts as I go to sleep at night. And yes, the comment about parking under an overpass gave me a smile and a “Huh?” moment?

Thank you for sharing you sewing and life with us.

Carol Lee said...

The image of your outdoor sewing room reminds me of a writing workshop I attended years ago in northern Wisconsin. I camped out all week in an RV park. The first evening, I borrowed a long extension cord from the park owners, plugged in my electric typewriter and sat at the picnic table outside my tent typing away! Good memories!