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Archive for March, 2012

You’re Never Too Decrepit

March 30th, 2012 8 comments

. . .  to get off the couch.  Really!  You might just need to experiment (even if it’s for years) to find the thing you love.

Today I did  my first long solo ride of the year:  22.43 miles.  Whoo-hoo!

Sadly, if I’d just ridden 2.57 more miles, I would have done a “quarter century”.  Next time!

Afterward, I came home and did my regular exercises:  Ralf Hennig’s Four Way Burn — it’s a perfect program for uncoordinated, exercise-phobic people. It doesn’t seem hard at all, but, gradually, over time, very interesting changes occur.

After four months of Ralf’s program, my muscles work together in ways I’d never dreamed they could.  Roughly 20 pleasurable minutes every other day, folks, and it’ll change your life.  (Ralf’s book is hard to find, but you can get it on Amazon for practically nothing.)

I’ve always looked kind of trim, but that didn’t mean I was healthy.  A year ago I thought walking up and down stairs was “exercise”.  Now I’m flexible and almost fit.  Who wudda guessed it?

Categories: Adventure/Travel Tags:

Burda Polo Triplet

March 29th, 2012 No comments

I’ve been away, and working on several projects of various kinds that aren’t yet finished, but one thing I did manage to do before I left was to knock off a couple more of my favorite tops, from BurdaStyle’s 09/2010 issue, pattern number 121.  These make up incredibly fast, and wear sooooo comfortably!

I used the cotton/poly/spandex cord mentioned in this post, but carefully examined each bolt so that I didn’t end up with the fade stripe on the fabric I took home.  (It took trips to three different JoAnn stores to find bolts without the fade issue!).  These three are a dark purple, gray, and black — great basic colors.  This “winter” has been so warm that I probably won’t be wearing them again until next fall, but they’re ready to go when the weather turns cool again.

By the way, there are more Minoru Jackets up on my round-up post today.  Take a look, and see what people have done with Tasia’s fantastic pattern!  (Scroll to the bottom to see the newest additions.)

Categories: Tops Tags:

Minoru Jacket Around The World

March 9th, 2012 32 comments

More Minoru Jackets! Scroll to the bottom to see (updated 17 March) (and again on March 20)

Two more (September 5); Scroll to the bottom to see.

Ever wanted to make outerwear, but didn’t know where to start?  Sewaholic’s Minoru  jacket is spectacular for inspiration.  Don’t believe me?  Look at all the different variations people have made over the last few months since the pattern was released.  It’s a wonderfully drafted pattern, and within the reach of advanced beginners.   I love, love, love this pattern!

Click on associated links to go to each sewist’s blog to get all the goods on the Minoru choices each made.

Here’s mine (USA), to start things off, of purple corduroy with a red floral lining and added external pockets.  I made many small changes and added a few features; you can read the details beginning here:

KristenMakes (UK) a perfect country coat, updating a traditional classic with corduroy elbow patches and collar facing, and adding a flannel lining:

Damselfly’s Delights (Canada) put a batik lining in her Minoru, and added  inseam pockets:

four square walls (USA) Andrea B’s version is tweed, with a bold lining, and cute pockets from remnants (this is where I got my own pocket inspiration):

Sophia Sews (USA), with re-drafted lower front, vertical pockets (take a look; they are incredibly RTW!), and zebra lining:

Savory Stitches (USA) used a bold cotton print with dark gray rayon lining:

Beau Baby (USA) made hers in bright orange denim, with a print contrast (she lined the hood, but otherwise made the pattern exactly as designed):

Sew I Think I Can Sew (Canada) made hers with a splashy floral cotton lining and side seam pockets:

Did you make that? (UK) Minoru, the luxury version, made with camel wool and a silk lining:

JuliaBobbin (Australia) proves that  luxe doesn’t have to be silk, with a gilt skull and crossbones lining, and a whimsical button on the pocket:

Nikol, of Hubbahubbadingdong (USA), made her Minoru of scarlet velvet (re-purposed curtains!  you go, girl!) with a golden silky lining:

Sewly a Harpist (USA) went for iridescent polka dots and a pink lining:

Stitch and Witter (UK) made hers of gray corduroy with royal and white polka dot lining:

My Own Inspiration (Australia) is charcoal marle gabardine with a nifty cotton lining, and welt pockets:

biblioblog’s (USA) is of uncut rust cord and leopard lining (go peek — it’s wonderful):

SewMentalMama (Ireland) made hers waterproof (click the link for great advice on waterproofing), of bright coated cotton, and put the hood on the outside, using hook and loop tape at the bottom of the collar, instead of pulling the hood through a zipper (she also shortened the jacket above the waist):

How good is that? (Australia) added additional zipper pockets to her Minorou; check her blog for tips (great idea for travel!):


MalleQ (Denmark) made  Minarou the Parka  with a faux fur-trimmed hood, faux fur lining, thinsulate for warmth, and hot pink zipper trim:

Rocket Sews (Australia) did a serious job of making proper outerwear of her Minoru, with waterproofing, reflective piping, welt  pockets with flap, hood toggles, and a zipper underlay (she also chose to leave the cuffs off):

The Traveling Seamstress (USA) denim made chic, with coordinating cozy plaid flannel lining:

Needles and Haystacks (Ireland) choose a gray and rust print corduroy with a polka dot lining, and made a cuff-less version without the hood:

Nette (Germany) made her Minoru of camel-colored linen, and added a cotton floral lining:

It’s a Sewing Life (USA) used raincoat fabric, added side pockets, and decided against the interior pockets:

Alison Rea Mason (Canada) went for bright red with a metallic zipper (and says she’s ordered fabric to make another Minoru):

Sew Fearless (USA) made hers in a rich, blackberry corduroy, with a matching zipper, and a marvelous striped lining (you can just see a hint here):

sew make believe (UK) used cotton drill with piping down the front, a striped lining, and in-seam pockets:

Sew Well (USA) made this smashing version, and has a pocket tutorial on her blog, as well:

bubala’s (Australia) Minoru is denim, with a flash polka dot lining, and glorious topstitching:

Wendy, of west 38th (USA) made a canvas hooded raincoat with a great cloud lining, and a zipped interior pocket:

PepperTreeRoad (Australia) made hers in crisp red and white, and added in-seam pockets:

Last (for now), but by  no means least, is Miss Jackson’s version (Japan) which also goes all the way to parka, made in grey, with faux fur trim, plaid lining, faux-flapped pockets, strapped cuffs, and a buttoned flap over the zipper:

More arriving!  I added this latest batch on 17 March.

Here’s Christina’s from this, that, the other thing (USA).  Hers is tan, with Kelly green zippers (for the side pockets, too!), a subdued plaid lining, and Kelly green rayon bemberg sleeve linings:

From Mama Pluis (The Netherlands), a raspberry version with a tiny floral print lining (made with a hood but without pockets):

VickikateMakes (UK) a version in waterproofed cotton canvas (using NikWax), and with the body lined in an argyle cotton flannel, and (whoo-hoo!) reflective zippers.  (She also did an FBA, and shortened the torso and sleeves)::

La Petite Chouette (Canada) made her Minoru jacket of red polyester, with a a polka dot lining (black mini dots on white)

New additions, March 20:

From Steph A, at escapades in sewing (Canada), a Minoru with super polka dots lining (or maybe they are bubbles?  glorious, in any case!).  The fiber is a micropolyester/cotton blend, and the lining is quilting cotton; sleeves and collar are lined in black Bemberg; lined hood and side seam pockets:

From Stitch me Softly (UK), red cotton twill with a brushed plaid lining, side seam pockets, and no hood:


LEC’s Miscellany (USA) made hers out of red wool crepe, with a joyous starburst (or are they chrysanthemums?)  lining of quilting cotton, and metal zippers:

scuffsan (Sweden) used nylon for the exterior, for water repellency, a floral cotton for the lining, and black polyester in the sleeves to make it easy to get the jacket on and off.  She added outside welt pockets, using a bit of lining for a cute touch beneath the flaps:

Tasia does not recommend plaids for this pattern, but take a look at what Pauline of Dessine-moi un bouton (France) did, using a subtle wool plaid (she calls this her “Sherlock Minoru”) and gold Bemberg lining:

Added March 29

Susan (USA), of Knitters Delight finished her Minoru.  It’s got a hood, and a gorgeous abstract lining (you might have to look for an earlier post to get a good look a the lining.) She made side seam pockets, and pleated the neck instead of gathers.  She’s also planning her next Minoru:

Adrienne (Canada), of All Style and All Substance, made hers of black oil cloth.  She calls it the “Catwoman” Minoru — whoo-hoo!  Check her blog for tips on working with the fabric; she skipped the cuffs as an accommodation to the material.  Adrienne made her Minoru in one weekend!

CherryPix (USA) made hers of black twill, lined with poly polka dots with a gingham lining for the hood and collar:

Lindsay Pindsay’s (USA) Minoru is gray twill with a bright yellow and black lining, slippery fabric in the sleeves, an unlined hood, and side seam pockets:

Annabellebumps (USA) chose pink cotton twill with a pink and green mini-print lining, and a two-way front xipper:

Sew Brusnwick (Australia) wanted a light summer jacket, and used a “pale pink/beige/mauve” cotton and metal (!) crinkle fabric with a Japanese cotton lining:

Suzy (UK) of Suzy Patterns used Leopard fleece, with a pale yellow poly lining. She kept her Minoru simple, skipping the hood and inside pockets when she made this cozy (and sexy!) version:

Two more, from Susanna (Sweden).  Here’s the first, in a vibrant red (Susanna’s lining, in keeping with Minoru tradition, is excellent — go to her blog to see it):

Susanna’s latest Minoru is this mixed print version. Love the way these prints pop!

This is my inspiration archive — I know I’ll be making another Minoru!  I hope all these marvelous jackets inspire others, too.

Got a Minoru you’d like added to the list?  Leave a comment, and I’ll put it in the post with a link to your blog.

These examples don’t include Tasia’s pattern testers:  Click over to Sewaholic and search on Minoru to see even more brilliant jackets.

Categories: Jackets Tags:

Ten Minute Skirt (Almost)

March 9th, 2012 6 comments

Rhonda, of Rhonda’s Creative Life, posts a free pattern — instructions, really — nearly every Friday.  In the midst of making my Minoru, I wanted something I could knock off fast, and call “finished”.  This skirt was perfect:  It’s made of eight bandanas sewn together, and required no hemming at all.

(If buying really cheap bandanas, as I did, check the hems carefully.  Many will be sewn badly, but you’ll be able to find eight that are fine.  Trust me.)  Here’s a (lopsided) close up of the lower skirt:

It’s pinned to my duct tape dummy; unfortunately, it and I are no longer the same size.  Or maybe that’s a good thing?  Anyway, there’s a new DDD in my future — just not now.

Stitch the bandanas according to Rhonda’s instructions, add a casing for elastic, and wear it.  What could be easier? And what could be better for those long hot days of summer than a weightless, airy skirt?

Rhonda’s skirt is stunning — she found, and used, much more wonderful bandanas than I turned up:

Kind of puts mine to shame, doesn’t it?  There’s the rub:  I had a terrible time trying to find bandanas that 1) didn’t scream “bandana” and 2) weren’t pink camo or covered in skulls.  Also, I was only willing to spend one dollar each for this trial run.

With Rhonda’s eye, though, and a little more dedication to finding the right thing, just imagine what you could do!

Shams, of Communing With Fabric, has a tablecloth skirt tutorial that is similarly wonderful, though different.  It’s on my list, too, but finding an appropriate tablecloth has proven difficult.  I want a plaid, and I’m picky about my plaids.

Categories: Skirts Tags:

My Minoru Jacket

March 5th, 2012 13 comments

It’s finished!  I wore it out today, and I loooove this garment!  It’s everything I hoped it would be, and next year I plan to make an actual parka from the pattern.  Here’s the front view, with the hood inside the collar (my poor dummy is a bit tipsy, and I generally forget this when I take pictures — please forgive us both):

As designed, the Minoru has no pockets.  I added very large exterior pockets (and a floating pocket on the inside,  too).  There’s no way I was ever going to adapt to a jacket with no outside pockets.  Mine are too big, probably, and  I had to reduce the size of the hem because the pockets interfered with the top-stitching.   (My jacket is about an  inch longer than the pattern should have been.)  This length is prefect on me, though, and I’ll keep it for the next one.

The fabric is a dark purple corduroy from JoAnn’s (with no apparent flaws!), and the lining is a print poly from stash.  I’ve had it for a long time, and have no idea where it came from originally.  Why did I buy it?  No clue at all.  But, hey, my new jacket counts as stash-busting, so I’m not complaining.

Here’s the back view, with the hood rolled into the collar:

I worried about those shoulder gathers, suspecting that they might be bulky, or look frumpy, once the jacket was made up.  They don’t; not on mine,  nor on any of the others I’ve seen.  Tasia did something clever in the back, too:  The gathers don’t extend all the way across the center back.  As  a result, there’s no extra emphasis there.  Nice if you’re round-shouldered!

Here’s the front view, with the collar open:

The pattern calls for an unlined hood, and that might be fine, but, for me, part of the fun of this jacket was the wacky lining, and, anyway, the thought of a single layer of corduroy for a hood just didn’t hold any appeal at all.  The hood is over-sized — really over-sized  — so some people might want to alter that.  I love the Jedi look,  though, so I left it as-is.

All of my knock-around jackets have shock cords so that the waist can be cinched, but, no matter what, when I wear them, they still look like chunky rectangles.  I LOVE that the Minoru has a defined waist!  Although Sewaholic’s patterns are designed for the pear-shaped woman, there was so much ease in the bust of this size 10 that I was able to make it without an FBA.  The hip is really roomy, but since I wanted to add a pocket for my wallet in the “skirt”, that worked in my favor, too.

I added the red shock cord and toggles (details below).   I’m  not sure how you’d get the hood to stay up without them, but this was also a great chance to use some colorful hardware I had lying around.

Here’s a glimpse of the inside of the jacket:

The corduroy pocket above is part of the pattern; I added a floating pocket, large enough for my wallet, to the other side of the jacket, below a small pocket identical to this one (details  below).  I was hoping this would be a “no bag, just throw it on” kind of coat, and that has worked out perfectly, thanks to my additional pockets.

The most critical things you need to know about this pattern:

~ This jacket uses a ton of thread.  I bought two 500m spools of Gutermann Sew-All, and there’s not much thread left.   I don’t even remember how many bobbins I wound.

~ The pattern illustration shows the jacket zipper level with the bottom edge of the jacket.  You’ll need a longer zipper if you want that look; the instructions are for a zipper that stops well short of the hem.

~ I love me some long sleeves, but the Minoru’s are gorilla long.  Normally, I add sleeve length; not in this case.  I shortened these sleeves.  Check before you cut.

~ If you follow the pattern directions for the collar, the interfacing on the lining side (or on the wrong side of your fabric, if you don’t interface) will show when you wear the hood out.  If you don’t want that look,  you’ll need to line both sides of the collar.  Allow enough lining; the collar’s big.

~ The hood itself is humongous.  If you intend to line it, plan for that when you buy your lining material.

~ As designed, the pattern has no pockets.  If you want  them, plan for them when you buy your fabric, unless you choose to add in-seam, hidden pockets.

I made a lot of modifications to my jacket, but not to the pattern itself  (other than adding the exterior pockets).  Below are some of the details, followed by a list of all the changes I made.

Instead of making a self-fabric loop, I used a piece of flat cord.  I use loops to hang my jackets all the time, so I wanted something super-sturdy, and also something thin enough to slip onto small hooks:

This type of braid is hard to find.  Sometimes it’s available at office supply stores, attached to identification sleeves meant for use by people attending business meetings, and sometimes it’s attached to really, really bad hooks or “charms” meant for use as key chains (think any junk store like Walmart, Kmart, dollar stores).  I stock up when I see them, as I frequently have use for the braid.

The seam line in the center back, above, isn’t  in the pattern.  It’s  the pleat I added to the lining for wearing ease.

For the hood, I added elastic shock cord (red!) threaded through a tiny, interfaced, button hole.  The bead at the end keeps the compression toggle from sliding off..

Where did I find the toggle?  I always check the clearance bins in electronics departments — they are a treasure trove of dumped cords, hardware, etc., for iPods and the like. This particular toggle is from a set of six different colors which came with matching cords.  The set was a dollar, which made this perfect little piece a real bargain, even if I never use the several fluorescent colors that came with it!

Apart from all the extras I can’t help but add, there was one serious blip in the design of the pattern.  If you follow the pattern instructions, but choose to interface the collar facing, this is what you’ll see when the hood is pulled out, and not on your head:

Uuuuugly, non?  That’s interfacing looking at you.  Too bad I didn’t think this out before I sewed the lining to the jacket. When I realized what was going on,  I hadn’t done the final turn, so I cut another collar piece of my (fortunately very thin) lining, and hand-tacked it in place.  The final topstitching will hold it where it belongs, but this is sooooo the wrong way to do this.  Add the lining to the inner collar when you add the interfacing.  It’s much better that way.

Here’s the zippered, internal, floating pocket I added to hold my wallet.  It’s supported by an interfaced corduroy band (sorry about the pins — at this point I hadn’t attached the small pockets that are part of the pattern:)

This pocket really is symmetrical.  I don’t know what’s up with the rumple!   The pocket just floats inside the coat, easily accessible, but totally secure.

Here’s the list of changes I made to the Minoru pattern:

~ Shortened the loooong sleeves (if you do this, remember to alter the lining, too)

~ Added a shock-cord drawstring, and toggles, to the hood

~ Customized the interior pockets to conform to the way I use them (sewed the included interior pockets a bit larger  than the pattern piece, and made a floating, zipped pocket in the lining).  I can’t remember if the pattern calls for two small interior pockets, or one.  I made one one each side.

~ Replaced the self-fabric neck loop (cute!) with a more practical one made of nylon braid (I use these loops a lot)

~ Added a center back pleat to the lining for wearing ease (I goofed this up, and made it too narrow)

~ Added biiiig exterior pockets

~ Added a loop inside each exterior  pocket to secure keys, subway passes, etc.

~ Used a two-way separating zipper.  When I sit down, to drive, for example, the last thing I want is my coat bunching up around my hips.

~ Altered the too-long zipper I had to buy to get the length I wanted

~ Took the zipper to the lower edge of the jacket, since it can be opened from either end

~ Raised the waist elastic by about 2.25 cm

~ Took a smaller hem because my big pockets turned out to be tooo big!

The sew-along, my first, was kind of a bust.  It started in mid-January, and was supposed to conclude about a month later — a nice leisurely pace.  It still wasn’t finished when I posted this, on March 5, and Sewaholic’s Tasia has indicated it will finish around mid-March.   I probably won’t do a sew-along again — for me, the point was to maintain some sort of momentum, and this one didn’t meet that goal very well.  Although I started late, waiting for the next installment got very frustrating.  Tasia’s directions are excellent, though, and her tutorial (start here with step #1) should be a perfect supplement to the generally more spare pattern directions.  I’ll add a link to it once the sew-along is over.

Pocket details here:  Exterior Pockets for the Minoru

Various pocket options here: Minoru Pockets

Shortening the zipper here:  Minoru Zip

Related:  Minoru Sew-Along

Buy the Minoru Pattern here (I don’t get a cut!  It’s a great pattern, though, and you should own it!)

Categories: Coats/Capes/Wraps, Jackets Tags:

Minoru Zip

March 4th, 2012 4 comments

I couldn’t find a 28-inch (or 30-inch, for that matter) jacket zipper  in dark red for my Minoru jacket, so I bought a much-too-long one in New York, and shortened it myself.  Generally speaking, nylon/plastic zippers are pretty easy to shorten; just chop them off, and tuck the cut edge into the seam, or whatever finish you’re using.  That leaves a bulge at the top, but it works .  .  . sort of.

My jacket zipper needed a stop at the top, but I didn’t want that bump, so  I experimented using a left-over piece from the zipper I cut to fit for for the Minoru hood.

First, I cut the teeth off the top of the zipper to the length I wanted:

(This is the sample zip; on the one I actually used you’d see the plastic bar at the top that serves as the zipper stop if it were unaltered.)

A daub of Fray Check, or the equivalent, is probably a good idea right where the cut ends.  I didn’t do that on this experimental piece.

That gave me the right size, but no way to keep the pull from sliding off when the jacket was zipped up.  After experimenting a bit, I discovered that this worked as a zipper stop:

That’s a tiny seed bead, in a matching color,  hand-sewn to the wrong side of the zipper, between the teeth.  It doesn’t show on the front, but it prevents the zipper pull from flying off at the top of the jacket..

The excess tape, above the zipper teeth, just goes into the seam allowance, the way an unaltered zipper would.  The cut area has been thoroughly Fray Checked, for extra security, though virtually all of the cut bits will be in the seam.

Neat and tidy, no?

Categories: Jackets Tags:

In My Drawers

March 3rd, 2012 8 comments

Sadly, this isn’t a post about knickers.  It’s about kitchen drawers.  Our kitchen cabinets are classic metal cabinets, installed in 1952.  Though they show a few of the ravages of time, we love them.  Call me crazy, but I much prefer them to modern wooden cabinets.

However, there are occasional issues.  For instance, the drawer fronts are held on by tabs that have been bent onto the sides, and melded in place.

Over time, the upper tabs on our most-used drawer separated, leaving a gap at the top of the front panel.  You can see it in the faint red circle above. (That printed stuff?  Ancient contact paper.  It will never come off, but fortunately it’s plastic, and scrubs clean.)

Using my trusty Dremel, I was able to drill a hole in each side of the drawer, and another one on the back side of the front.  A girl’s best friend is her Dremel!

The dark spot in the red circle is a hole on the  interior side of the drawer front; it’s the same shape as the tab that is supposed to be holding the drawer together.   It’s also the trick that allowed me to do a proper fix on the drawer.

Using long tweezers, I was able to insert a nut behind each of the holes I’d drilled on the drawer fronts.  I then placed an angle bracket in each corner, holding a hidden nut behind the bolt as I screwed it in place.

That’s all there was to it.

Categories: Home, Misc Tags: