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Dowager on a Converted Tote Bag

September 27th, 2020 2 comments

I spied an odd canvas tote at the Freer Gallery several years ago. It was just black canvas, but the (rather nicely done) print on the front was Philip Evergood’s Dowager in a Wheelchair. (Yes, the name’s not his original one.)  The painting is in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, where I’m afraid I still haven’t seen it.

Although Evergood called his inspiration “tragic“, I loved the indomitably of his subject; the (intended) evocation of vulnerability in a privileged person, and the vibrancy of New York life (Evergood says it’s Madison Avenue, and it clearly is the Upper East Side, right?) crashing all around the dowager and her ghostly, younger, attendant.

I didn’t need a tote bag, so I converted it to a backpack so that I could easily transport my Cricket rigid heddle loom.

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Categories: Bags, Weaving Tags:

Scooter Handlebar Bag

September 21st, 2020 No comments

Sometimes — that is, some non-Covid time — when I’m in a city — looking at you, Washington, New York, and various other smaller, sidewalk-enhanced locations — I like to have a small (non-electric) scooter with me. This is especially nice in summer in Washington, where it’s often possible to work around pedestrian routes, and where the humidity and heat are only enhanced by zipping through summer on wheels.

But my little scooter needed a bag. Topo Designs makes a great bike bag, and I really, really wanted to buy theirs, but it’s way too big for my scooter, so I took inspiration from their slightly kooky triangle shape and made my own.

That strap is actually a bright bold red. Sadly, I’m someone who sews,
not someone who actually knows how to use a camera phone.

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Categories: 2020, Bags, Covid Tags:

V1642 Sweatshirting Done Differently

September 14th, 2020 No comments

It makes very little sense, even in ordinary times, for me to wear anything other than sweatshirts at home. I live with a herd of cats, all of whom have highly functional claws, and with whom I interact all the time. Sweatshirts can take that kind of heat.  But sweatshirts are b-o-r-i-n-g.

When I saw this pattern, though, I was chuffed.

It didn’t hurt a bit when I went out to buy it, eons ago, and one of my favorite people at my local store asked me if I’d seen this new release — “I saw that, and I knew it was YOU!” he said. He was so right!

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Categories: 2020, Tops Tags:

Maywood Totepack

July 26th, 2020 No comments

It’s literally been years since I posted here, but now, in the middle of Pandemic 2020, there’s been time to clean things up and re-start. And what better post to begin anew with than Klum House‘s Maywood Totepack? It might be coffee time — this is a loooong post!

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Categories: 2020, Bags, Covid Tags:

Kwik Sew 3463: Skinny Pocket Version

March 17th, 2014 No comments

This post marks the beginning of “historic” posts from 2014, before I took a long break from blogging:

Once I’d made one tunic, I made another and then another, each time varying the pockets and and the neck bands.

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This is the second of four:  Pink isn’t really my thing, but I can’t seem to resist stripes, and this was a lovely, soft, cotton knit.

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The pockets, in this case, are skinny and vertical, just wide enough to put a hand into, and they’re set perpendicular to the main stripes.  I didn’t want my stitches to conflict with the stripes on the fabric, so I carefully attached the pockets by sewing along one of the skinny white stripes.

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That gave the pocket attachment a much more deliberate look, and also made the white topstitching look more organic than it would have if run across the pink stretch.

Instead of making a neck band, I faced the neck edge with a strip of fabric, cut crosswise and then turned under.

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I didn’t have a coverstitch machine when I made this, and you can see that I had some trouble making consistently-sized stitches on the second (lower) row.  Stitching near the bulk of the seamline is much more consistent.

The seamline between the facing and the tunic is to the right in the photo below; that strip is the facing, turned inside.  I like this finish better than simply turning the edge of the garment in and stitching; the facing strip gives a little more substance, and a more finished look.

Because I didn’t have the extra width of the band called for by the pattern, my neckline is larger and lower than the one designed by Kwik Sew.  Next time, I’d alter the pattern so that mine doesn’t turn out this wide.

The Kwik Sew pattern is excellent; I did change up the shape of the skirt to make it flare in an “A” shape.   Construction is really simple .  .  .

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.  .  .  but skinny-stripe matching less so.  I was really annoyed that these weren’t perfect, but perfection is hard to find!

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I hope this isn’t one of the huge number of Kwik Sew patterns Big Pattern kills — it’s fun and versatile, and a great stepping stone for playing around with various decorative elements.

See different versions of this pattern:

Color-Blocked Tunic with Hidden Pocket

Categories: Tops Tags:

Color-Blocked Tunic with Hidden Pocket

February 27th, 2014 2 comments

(This is a “catch-up” post from long before now.)

The past few year has just evaporated for me, with lots and lots going on that kept me far from my sewing room.  I’m looking forward to spending a lot more time there in the future than I have lately.

But first, I have a backlog of posts that have yet to make it to the interwebs.  First up, the Parade of Tunics. In my new-found devotion to being comfortable at all costs, I adapted this Kwik Sew pattern:

An elongated tunic like this just doesn’t do anything for me, so I flared the skirt, and then worked up a muslin. I’m in love with the idea of wearing PJs all the time, and apparently want to be able to go out so clad, too.  My plan was to make a tried-and-true pattern I could use for all seasons, with variations.

The muslin has a geometric panel, and (my favorite feature) a hidden pocket:

Miss Bedelia, nude as she is under the tunic, is not the best model for knits, since her wire frame protrudes distractingly, but I’m loving using her, and she’s the only dummy I have at the moment who is my size.

To make the panel, I traced the pattern, cut, slashed, and added seam allowances as required.  Easy-peasy, really.  I added an invisible zipper to the seam, with access to the hidden pocket:

I used an embroidered twill for the pocket.  It’s covered in bees, which is amusing, but the fabric is really too stiff to be discreet, so it’s a bit bulkier than it should be.

Hey, this was a muslin, so why not?  I’m not crazy about this particular tunic, but it’s still a lot of fun to wear, and if a tee shirt can’t be fun, what good is it?

The solid contrasting colors don’t send me, but this was also an exercise in stash-busting, so I’m dealing with it.

Kwik Sew patterns have always been sort of the step-children of the pattern world, and quite under-rated, I think.  I’ve always found them to be utterly reliable, and great starting points for exercising some imagination.  I was saddened to learn that Big Pattern has bought Kwik Sew, and the inevitable degeneration has begun:  No more lovely heavy pattern paper, a greatly pared-down catalog, and, soon, I presume, extinction.

Categories: Tops Tags:

Simplicity 1775: Cape

February 23rd, 2014 4 comments

This is one of those patterns with two numbers.  Here’s 1775, with a cluttered, uninteresting envelope graphic

and here’s 0311, with the trendy buffalo plaid, and the silly accessories marginalized

I made my cape out of PUL, the laminate that JoAnn sells in their strange little diapering department.  PUL is a polyurethane laminate; in this case, it’s probably bonded to polyester; the fabric itself is a knit.

Instead of making the tie, I shortened and interfaced the belt, added wide hook-and-loop fastening, and used two over-sized buttons as a faux closure. The belt’s a little loose here; it’s a very nice feature, though, and gives the cape a slim line.

The length and proportions were right for me.  I wanted the cape to cover my tush, so that I could wear leggings with it. Tall people might want to alter that — the length is the same for all sizes, and if it’s just right for 5’2″ me, it may be far too short for average height, or taller, people.

The pattern calls for a lining, but I wanted this cape to be as light as possible, to make stowing it in a bag easy. To finish it, I turned the edges, and coverstitched:

The white laminate leaves the impression of a lining, and the coverstitch makes it all look deliberate.

I thought that the PUL would be difficult to work with; it wasn’t, except for turning the belt casing. In that case, the material tended to cling to itself. Folding and stitching could have solved that problem, but, as the belt is wide, I was able to turn it by keeping at it, patiently.

Pinning is a bad idea when sewing PUL, though theoretically possible if you stick to the seam allowances, as you must when sewing leather or leather-like synthetics. For the hem, I used binder clips:

These are “smalls” and “minis”, which I used liberally, to make sure the hem curves stayed in place.

This method worked perfectly, and the clips left no marks. I found this container at the office supply store, which lets me keep the clips sorted by size, and minimized the mess while working with them:

The pattern has some nice features: the facing pieces have only two sizes, so it’s actually possible to see the cutting lines; the ink on the tissue pattern is dark, and very easy to see and use (unlike the very pale inks sometimes encountered with the rest of the big four companies); and there’s an extra, appreciated, touch to the design — belt loops in the back:

The belt circles around the back, goes through the loops, and then into two “buttonholes”, along the torso, then out two more “buttonholes” in the front. This holds the cape close to the body, making it much easier to wear than an unrestrained cape. The sides are wide, enough, though, that my arms don’t feel too constrained while wearing it.

The PUL material is somewhat breathable, but we’re not talking Gore-Tex here. It is light and flexible, which made it a good choice for a cape that will spend much of its life folded, only to be brought out in an emergency. The pattern called for topstitching all around the bottom edges of the facing, but the PUL was  not going to cooperate with that, so I settled for edgestitching around the neckline.

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In another concession to the fabric, I didn’t do machine-made buttonholes; instead I faced (and interfaced) rectangular, buttonhole-sized cuts in the material, turned the facing, and edgestitched all around. It’s a cleaner look, and should wear better.

The inside facing just floats; that works fine in this material.

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I wasn’t brave enough to do the same for the button at the neck edge, though (or for those on the belt). At the neck, I simply made an ordinary buttonhole. I doubt it will wear as well, but dealing with all the layers of cape, interfacing, seam junctions, and facing was just too daunting.

There’s a separate hood pattern included, but it’s basically a rectangle, and I wasn’t tempted to make it. If I want a hood, I’ll draft one myself, or I’ll look for one with shaping.  An over-sized rectangle isn’t very pleasant to wear, or manage, in rain.

Printing two envelopes is kind of a waste of ink, isn’t it? And/or effort? And using two numbers is confusing, isn’t it, especially if you’re looking for reviews . . .

Categories: Coats/Capes/Wraps Tags:

Vogue 8407: Boarding Pass Case

February 18th, 2014 4 comments

I’ve been meaning to make a boarding pass case for  me and one for Mr. Noile for quite a while.  Now that both our passports have RFID chips, I decided the time had come.

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There’s really nothing to drafting one of these things; it’s essentially a set of pockets on a string.  I had this pattern in my stash from years ago, though, so I started with it.  Then I changed it up as needed for my own requirements. Here is side 1:

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(Bad photo:  The case is squared properly, honest!)  I used dupioni silk to keep the case as light as possible.  My boarding pass cases go through TSA in the same clear plastic bag as my personal electronics, so I used the brightest colors possible to ensure that I can track the packet easily as it goes through the screening process.

The pattern called for cardboard as a interior reinforcement, but that strikes me as really unwise, since there’s nothing much worse than rotting cardboard inside anything one depends on for travel, and getting wet sometimes happens.  Instead, I cut support pieces from the thinnest quilting template plastic I could find, then rounded the corners slightly so that they would not cut through the silk.

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Because RFID chips broadcast to anyone with a reader — that would be anyone who’s interested, not just your friendly snoopy government — I wrapped foil around the templates.  Aluminium blocks the radio frequency. Commercial pass cases are available that theoretically have the same protections, but tend to be bulky, heavy, and expensive.    Here’s a snippet from CNN describing the effect:

Wrapping your passport in aluminum foil actually works. It is called a “Faraday Cage,” and it’s the same thing that protects you from the microwaves as you watch your popcorn pop. The foil blocks electromagnetic waves so a nearby chip reader can’t force your passport chip to perk up and say “howdy.”

Accordingly, I cut heavy-duty aluminium foil to size

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and wrapped the templates.  I lined all of the pockets with foil, since many credit cards now also come chipped, which makes them vulnerable to remote ID theft,  too.

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This pattern is another one of Vogue’s failures: There are lots and lots of small rectangular pattern pieces which Vogue (or whomever) has avoided labeling, even though there is plenty of space to do so.  I transferred the information, but, come on, that was a pain, and why was it even necessary?

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Really, Vogue?  You couldn’t be bothered?

The pocket edges are meant to be bound;  here are two very unhelpful pattern pieces for the binding, which, bizarrely,  don’t even have the pattern piece numbers printed on them.  That information is on the swath of otherwise blank tissue paper proximate to these pieces.

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Instead of binding the edges, which would have been a huge pain in the silk, I ended up reinforcing the pocket tops with narrow grosgrain ribbon.  We’ll see how that holds up.

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This project was sewn on my vintage travel machine:  a Kenmore 1030.   That’s the zipper foot above, doing double duty as an edge stitcher.  I hadn’t sewn on this machine in a while, and was reminded all over again what a excellent little powerhorse it is.

The pattern calls for an around-the-neck ribbon.  That’s cute, but a lousy idea for something worn while travelling, and the instructions didn’t provide for any length adjustment, which might matter depending on how, and over what, you wear the case. bc-cl

I used round cord — nicer against the neck — and added a cord-lock so that I could control the length.  I strung a  bead — a really ugly plastic bead! — onto the cord to keep the toggle from sliding off the end.

Most, if not all, of the pockets in the pattern are open.  That’s not a very good idea, either, in my opinion.  I prefer to ensure that crucial documents and cards — not to mention currency — are locked down, so I added zippers to two pockets, and hook-and-loop fasteners to a third.

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Above is side 2.   The shadows on the red pocket are dips in light caused by two sew-on hook-and-loop fasteners inside the pocket. The ridge on the right is a pen sleeve; that’s a nice touch.  I’ll keep a small notebook or a few index cards in the pocket next to it, since the ability to jot a note is a fine one to exploit when on the run.

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I did leave one large pocket open on  side 1 for quick access to a boarding pass.  And I made one other change:  The lower front pocket on this side — the bright blue one here — is meant to have a clear window into which you can pop your ID.

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Since the whole world doesn’t need to know who I am, or where I’m from, or what my address is, and since I travel on a passport rather than with a driving license, I made this pocket opaque.  And I added a zipper, so that anything in it can be safely contained.  I stitched grosgrain ribbon along the zipper edges for support, and for a cleaner-looking finish.

Since this project is essentially just stacked rectangles, it would be an easy one to draft yourself, and not much more trouble than figuring out where Vogue has hidden the many unlabelled pattern pieces on the tissue.  That’s the route I’d have taken if I hadn’t already owned the pattern.

All that’s required is to figure out what pockets you want, stitch them to each backing piece (front and back), put the right sides together, add a neck string, stitch around the main pieces, turn and close up the opening.  As I wasn’t much of a fan of the instructions in general (cardboard support, ribbon neck tape, open pockets, failure to label pattern pieces)  I’d give this pattern the rare “D” grade — barely passing.

Categories: Accessories, Adventure/Travel Tags:

Vogue 8854: My Kind of Sweats

February 5th, 2014 4 comments

This is the second time I’ve made this tunic.  The first go-round was an experiment:  Could I get a decent-looking top out of some men’s sweatshirts?  The answer was “yes”, and now there’s no stopping me!

btnVogue 8854 is turning out to be my best friend:  gotta love this collar  and the great excuse for featuring a single favorite button!  That’s a skinny grosgrain loop around the button, below, which make a quick, no-turn, closure.  I do double the ribbon, though, for durability, and stitch along the edges before sewing it in place.

btnbtnI mostly sleep-walked through making this one, and made a massive number of mistakes, all of which I was able to fix, more or less. Paying attention counts, but so does recovering when one hasn’t . . . and sweatshirting, thank goodness, is the most forgiving of fabrics, providing, of course, you rip out stitches with great patience.

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I managed to get the stuff that counts most, righ.  And I remembered the small details, like the edge-stitching on the shoulder.  That  helps define the seams, and keeps them from looking sloppy-sweatshirt-puffy.

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This iteration was cut from just two men’s sweatshirts — one XL, I think, and one XXL, for the length.  There doesn’t seem to be much increase in length as the sizes go up, so I wasn’t tempted to buy anything larger.

v8854Love this pattern!  The changes I made included sloping the shoulder to fit my own better, enlarging the front pocket, lining the front pocket, adding cuffs using ribbing from the source sweatshirts, using grosgrain instead of self-fabric for the button loop, and eliminating the shirt-tail detailing from the hem.

Categories: Tops Tags:

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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