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Archive for January, 2014

Pillowcase-Sham, Fungi-Edition

January 26th, 2014 4 comments

A dear relative has made her life work the pursuit and study of the mushroom.  I wanted to make her a set of silky pillowcases so that she could spend her drowsing moments with images of her favorite obsession.

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find serious mushroom prints on fabric?  Oh, sure, the cartoon mushroom is everywhere; so are psychedelic interpretations of the honorable fungi, colors and shapes distorted beyond recognition.  And fungi with elf-dwellers below: there is plenty of that.

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Fortunately, a chance stop at a vacuum cleaner/sewing machine shop fairly far from home turned up this lovely print complete with proper identifications in Latin.  I was stunned!  So was the clerk, who pointed out that I was buying the last of a whole bolt — and that the store had gotten two in.  She said she couldn’t imagine how they’d ever sell it . . . and yet, it was disappearing like mad.

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I whipped the pillowcases up in no time, but these aren’t ordinary pillow sleeves.  Although these can be used like standard pillowcases, I deliberately designed them to be used differently.

fpc-gpI dislike, intensely, this (shudder) ugly gap, in which the pillow, and its under-dressings, show through the opening.  Surely this is not how pillows are meant to be used!

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Is this not much nicer?  It’s still a light, comfy pillowcase, but how much better!  There will be no pillow slippage here — where one wakes up in the morning to discover that the pillow has wrestled itself half outside the case, seeking an unclothed domination over the bed.  There will be no uncertain moments during the night when the coarser cover of the pillow itself sullies the sleep experience.

Also, an encased pillow just looks nicer on the bed, even if under the covers.  Make sure you plan ahead, though, since you will need to cut the front side of the pillowcase longer, which will affect how much yardage to buy.  My finished flap was about five inches, plus about three-quarters turned under on its raw edge, so my front piece had to be at least that much longer than the back.*

All I did was stitch up three sides of the pillowcase (French seams, of course, for a neat finish), and hemmed the back open edge as usual.  The front edge then got a deeper hem.  Then I turned the pillowcase inside out, and folded the deeper hem against the inside front of the case.

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I then stitched along the existing seam line to hold the deep hem in place. It doesn’t show here, but I also bar-tacked at the end (within the seam allowance), rather than simply back-stitching, since the lower edge of the deep hem will be subject to unusual stress when folded over the pillow.

The pillow can be slipped inside just as usual (in the Philistine fashion!), or it can be popped into the case, with the deep hem folded over the opening, so that nothing shows but your preferred fabric.

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It was a small gift, but it bundled up quite nicely.

I admit that when I replace our current set of pillowcases, I’ll probably serge the seams, which is far less elegant, and correspondingly more efficient.  (Mr. Noile sleeps with nine pillows; do you blame me for wanting to cut the labor short?)  For a gift, though, French seams and the neatest of finished edges are the right thing.

*Thanks, commenter LindaC, for having noticed that I left this crucial bit of information out!

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Decades of Style 5006: 1950s Stole

January 22nd, 2014 6 comments

For a long time, I’ve wanted something stole-like that I could wear to spruce up basic travel outfits, and which would work as a personal wrap on a plane.  When I saw Decades of Style’s 1950s stole, I knew I had to make it.

dcstlSee that cool little arm flap on the right?  That’s what sold me!  However, as you’ll see, things didn’t turn out exactly as I expected, though the end result is very much what I wanted.

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The pattern has only four pieces — one of which is sewn to the border of a large piece.  So there’s the front, back, and the wrist flap; the only tricky part is keeping the pieces sorted out once they were cut.  I took a tip from Jillly Be’s excellent post about her own Decades of Style stoles, and marked each piece (and its right side) with tissue paper.

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This is particularly important because the pattern pieces aren’t symmetrical.  Nor is the construction intuitive, so I highly recommend not skipping this tip! Also, it’s very important to note that the main fabric is cut RIGHT side up, but the lining is cut WRONG side up; a rather critical instruction that was apparently left out of earlier printings.

My fabric is a lap robe rescued from an IKEA “as-is” bin.  (Gotta love IKEA!)  In some respects, this material is the worst possible for a stole — it’s extremely subject to pulling and forming awful loops, so I’ll have to keep my eye on it and catch them as they occur.  On the other hand, I fell in love with the fabric’s light weight, its soft texture, and the excellent tones, which will work perfectly with every color in my winter travel wardrobe.

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The flap that I was so thrilled about (so 50s!) covers an opening in a seam between the upper back and the lower back.  You’re meant to wear the stole with a wrist slipping though it.  As well as that may have worked at social events in the 1950s, when women may have delightedly posed for effect while conversing — cigarette poised in holder — at cocktail parties, that wasn’t going to fly in my life in the 21st century.  I need that arm!

 

dc-nk(Yeah, that lining hasn’t recovered from being crumpled in a packing cube.)  Jilly Be also wrote about being concerned about the wearability of this stole.  In an amazingly courageous act, Jilly added buttons and buttonholes to one side so that the wrap would stay in place.  I followed her sensible example, but sewed over-sized snaps under the buttons.  No way was I brave enough to put buttonholes in this material!

A secondary advantage of adding the closures is that it makes it much easier to figure out how to put on the stole.  That’s surprisingly difficult the first few times it’s done, but using the buttons for orientation is very helpful.  (The lining is a satin backed with cotton, for a little extra warmth and heft.)

Mr. Noile and his mother — we were visiting the parents when I sewed this up — took one look at the flap and suggested I turn the opening into a pocket.  Brilliant!

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That’s exactly what I did.  It was an after-market hatchet job, and not at all elegant, but it worked perfectly anyway.  I cut the pocket from lining material, added a zipper so that nothing would fall out (and to support that seam when the pocket was in use), and tacked it into place behind the flap by hand.

My e-reader just fits in the pocket; I wouldn’t walk around with it in my pocket, but it will be really convenient to have a safe place to stash it while traveling, since I’ll be able to put the reader down safely while briefly doing something else, like eating.  I hate using airline back-seat pockets, not only because they are probably filthy (used diapers, anyone?), but also because stashing anything there increases the chance I’ll leave it behind.

The pattern is terrific, and I highly recommend it.  Beware, though, that this is a midriff-hugging stole; the drawing is quite accurate.  It will cover your bust, but nothing below.  If I make it again (and I might, in a more durable linen), I may increase the front length.

Sizing is atypical, which you’d expect from a vintage pattern.  Following the chart, my correct size probably should have been A, but I made B instead, which was just right for my slight-ish C bust frame; size A was right for my frame, but a little tighter than I liked across the bust, and there wasn’t enough difference, otherwise, between the sizes to require alterations.

Categories: Coats/Capes/Wraps Tags: