Thursday, January 19, 2017

May We Never Forget Our History

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Emma Lazarus 

at the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty

Sunday, November 15, 2015

New(ish) Addition to the Sewing Room Herd

Excuse me while I dust the cobwebs off my blog.  Cough, cough.

. . . .

Okay, I'm back.

While I have a variety of items sewn over the last 10 months or so that I really want to show you (as well as many plans for new projects in the works), I'm going to start off with the purchase that has been helping me create lovely things in the sewing studio lately.  Last January when I received my tax refund, I decided to buy myself a gift.  Something I'd been looking at for awhile, but hadn't felt like I should spend the money on.  Something I thought maybe I didn't really need, but would love to have.  It turns out, however, that I really did need it after all.

Meet my new(ish) Juki TL2000Qi.  She's a beauty.

Ash was almost as excited as I was when she arrived and insisted on helping her move in.

She came with her own accessories . . . 

And her own bed . . . 

And her own bed clothes . . . .

She seemed to be at home almost right away . . .

She took right over and insisted on immediately doing the quilting on the quilt I had been making for my best friend.  The quilt that had been sitting for 2 years with the layers pinned together but not quilted because none of my other machines were willing to complete the task.  Juki jumped right in, with no qualms or hesitations, and powered right through that quilt.  She was very patient with my rusty free-motion quilting skills.  However, she did ask me several times why, when I hadn't quilted for years, I decided to jump back into it with a queen-sized bed quilt instead of a nice small wall hanging.  I just gritted my teeth and said "I love you Juki."  

Juki is a straight-stitch only machine, but does beautiful free-motion work as well.  She's very fast and couldn't care less about getting speeding tickets.  We have been working together on all sorts of projects and seem to have developed a very strong bond with each other.  Although, being straight-stitch only, she cannot do every task.  So she has agreed to be part of the sewing studio team and doesn't get upset when I turn to the serger or my Rocketeer (Singer 500A) to help us out.  We all make beautiful music together.

I don't have a local dealer for Juki, so I purchased her new online from Amazon (three cheers for Amazon Prime--talk about instant gratification!!).  It's been about 10 months and we've had no problems so far.  I love this machine!!!

On a smaller herd animal level, I also acquired this little cutie from Marcy Tilton.

I guess that's all for now.  I hope to be back soon with discussion of some recent (and not so recent) projects.  In the meantime, although this post is probably already too photo-heavy, I'll leave you with some snaps of the completed quilt I made for my friend.

I think Bear's Paw is my favorite traditional quilt block!  Take care all and see you soon!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Biting the Photographic Bullet

At the outset, I would like to thank each of you who left a comment on my last post, as well as those who may have read and sent positive thoughts without a written comment.  Your thoughts, sympathies and good wishes were (and still are) extremely helpful in getting through a difficult period.  It is hard and unreal to think that Mom is no longer here to talk with, ask questions of and share with--especially with regard to our love of sewing, both garment and quilting, which Mom handed down to both me and my sister.  Although I find that I often still have those conversations with her in my head while I am going about things.  I must say also that it was rather heartwarming to know that I was missed in the blogosphere.  And then I went and disappeared again.  sigh.

Now, where were we?  I believe I last left you with a photo of the fabrics I had pulled from the collection to use in a summer 6-PAC grouping of garments a la Stitcher's Guild.  I did get five out of the six pieces completed (I just never felt the need for the lightweight jacket and stalled out on that one) and found them to be quite perfect to wear this summer.  But when it came down to writing a post on the garments, I kept putting it off.  And putting it off.  And putting it off.  Why?

Because one of the pieces is a pair of pants.

We all know that things can look lovely on a dress form.  But then we all think to ourselves "yes, beautiful, but how does it fit?  What does it look like on you?"  You can only show others the fit and flattery (or not) of a garment by showing how it really looks on you.  This is most especially true with pants.  So, I've decided I just need to bite the bullet and start photographing myself wearing some of the garments I make.

This is difficult for me.  I am a large person.  At least, larger than I would like to be.  Nothing brings that home to me more than seeing myself in a photograph.  But you can't just pin a pair of pants to the front of a dress form or hang them on a hanger and expect anyone to be able to see what they are or how they look, or be able to determine if this is a pattern they might like to try out themselves.  And, to me, that's part of my purpose in blogging about what I make--to encourage others to try the patterns I find so fun to make and wear.  So here we go.  Biting the photographic bullet.

Let's start off slow with dress form pictures of the tops and skirt.  The skirt is just my basic straight skirt--a tube of fabric; one seam with a slit opening in the lower seam and an elastic waist.  With only one seam, the slit can be worn to either the side or the back.  This is a natural colored linen.

The first top is OOP Vogue 8582, the Marcy Tilton top with the side drape.  On this one, I cut it with the drape on both sides, but folded the corner of the pattern down, so that the drape is at a lower angle than the original 90 degrees.  The fabric is a gorgeous rayon/lycra knit from Marcy Tilton.

Hopefully, in this photo you can see what I did with the pattern.  The pattern piece on top is the original design lines, with the drape cut to the side at pretty much a 90 degree angle from the side seam.  The bottom pattern piece shows how I simply folded down the upper corner of the drape to achieve the lower angle.  I really like this look!

The second top is McCalls 6566, view C, made in a rayon batik from  This loose, drapey look may not be the most flattering to me, but this makes such a cool and comfortable summer top that I kind of don't care.  It's hard to see the design detail in this fabric, but I love the slightly gathered lower panel in the back.

The third top is my pattern-morph of the bottom of Vogue 1261 with the top of the StyleArc Adele Top.  For this top I used a oatmeal colored rayon/lycra knit I found at JoAnns.  The color was perfect, but the knit was a little thin to use single layer as a top without showing the world pretty much everything.  So I double layered the front and back body, cutting the upper layer a couple of inches shorter.  The sleeves are single layer.  I love this look.  Unfortunately, the fabric developed a little bit of waviness in stitching the lower hems which didn't want to press out nicely.  Instead of taking the time to rip it out, thereby thoroughly exercising the more colorful side of my vocabulary, I have chosen to like the way it looks with the waviness.  It's a design detail.  Work with me.

This is how I wore this top to work one day with a pair of Cutting Line Designs Easy, Ageless, Cool pants (not part of the intended 6-PAC).

Apparently I need to remember to smile when taking photos.

The pants I made for the 6-PAC were Cutting Line Designs Discover Something Novel pattern, using the same natural linen as the above skirt.  

Love these pants!  They are fun to sew, fun to wear and extremely comfortable.  And it's like Louise Cutting designed this crotch curve just for me.

The back of these pants hang pretty well for me.

I added pockets to the side seams because I am lost without pockets to put my keys in.  I forgot to take a close-up of the pocket detail.

It's a little difficult to see, but I'm very proud of how straight and centered that side seam is!

And one last one with the Vogue 8582.

So.  There it is.  That's me.  I guess that wasn't so bad after all.

I will be doing a more thorough post on the Discover Something Novel pants--I have made several pairs because I love them so much.  And this weekend I made the new Marcy Tilton skirt--love love! So I'll do a post on that and on the latest Lynn Mizono dress that I also finished up this weekend.  Plus several items from previous times that I still want to post about.  That all should keep me busy for awhile.  

So what have you all been up to?

Sunday, June 29, 2014

It's Been Awhile

Wow.  It's been a long first part of the year.  I haven't sewn a thing for months except for a bit of mending.  Somewhere around the first of the year, my Sewing Mojo packed up its bags and left me.  I didn't hear a word from it for most of winter and spring.  Not even a postcard.  It did, however, leave behind its sibling to care for me and mend my wounds.  The Fabric Acquisition Mojo.  It has been a steady companion for the last six months.  The only times I've been near the sewing studio have been to throw fabric into it.

But then, I haven't been feeling well for awhile either.  So I've had no energy or interest in doing much of anything lately.

And then my Mom died.  Two weeks ago.  Saturday, June 14, 2014.  The most fabulous, talented, beautiful, supportive person I've ever known.  There isn't a person she's met that doesn't say she had an important impact on them.  I know I was--and will continue to be--extremely fortunate to have had this woman for my mother and my friend.  She showed me nearly every day how to be a better human being.  I can only thank her by going forward and being that better human being.

If you have continued reading this far, I should at least give you some sewing content as a thank you. This was about the last project I finished before the Mojo took a hike this winter.  I was testing this Katherine Tilton pattern as a possibility for a bigger project I have in mind.  In the end, I decided the pattern won't work for the project, but I am happy with the jacket I got.

I used a cotton fabric I've had on the shelves for a few years.  Black with red and white striping.  I took several inches of width out of the pattern through the body and cut the bottom panels opposite to the body to play with the stripes.  I may well make this pattern again--it's a nice little jacket and an easy sew.  But next time I would completely face the bottom panel, rather than just a small hem.  I think it would give a nicer weight and finish to the bottom of the jacket.

I like the red buttons.  They seem happy.

Now I need to get back to the living part of life, rather than just existing, as I have been.  I've been feeling better lately and have more energy.  The Sewing Mojo and I have been negotiating a return to the studio.  The acquired fabric piles have been washed, ironed and folded neatly.  Ready for any whim that may come.

I have decided to start back in the studio by sewing a summer six-PAC per the Stitcher's Guild sew-a-long that is the brainchild of Elizabeth.  I have chosen an assortment of fabrics in a neutral/natural color theme, because I need the basics.  Shown below, from the top moving clockwise, is a feather print rayon  batik from (for a top), a natural 100% linen from JoAnns (skirt or pants), an ivory with light brown specks rayon knit from JoAnns (top), a textured ivory/taupe tweedy linen from (probably) (lightweight jacket), a printed tone-on-tone woven from Marcy Tilton of some blend that I can't recall (some sort of shirt), and an RPL woven from EmmaOneSock (pants).  In the middle is a lovely print rayon/lycra knit from Marcy Tilton for another top.  I will be using mostly all patterns I have used before, so the reporting on the sewing may be less than interesting.  But I am looking forward to the project.

I am sure, however, that after all this light neutral sewing I will be needing some color in my world.  These below were an early birthday present from My Guy.

So, I'm thinking something red!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Vogue 8499 Marcy Tilton Skirt (Number 3)

I've had this piece of quilting cotton on my shelves for several years now.  It's a print of zebras done in black, white and brown.  I believe I found it at   I just love the graphic quality of the print and it has that quirky factor that touches my funny bone.  I purchased 3 yards because I knew I wanted to make a garment out of it rather than getting just a small piece for the quilting stash.  (Yes, I have a quilting stash too.  Sigh.)  But I could never decide on the perfect pattern to use with it, so it has been sitting there a long time.  

Until about three weeks ago when it suddenly shouted at me that it wanted to be a Marcy Tilton skirt.  Specifically, Vogue 8499.

So I obeyed.

Oh. My. Gosh.  I love this skirt.  It turned out just as I envisioned.  Just as the fabric told me it would look in this pattern.

This really is one of my favorite skirt patterns.  The bell shape is very flattering and very fun to wear.  The pockets enhance the interesting shape of the skirt and add a fun element.  It's difficult to see in this print, but I chose to use buttons at the top of the pockets, rather than the recommended zippers.

It may be a little out there, but I have a feeling that I will be wearing this skirt a lot.  The cotton fabric will be nice to wear in the summer months, but it also will be quite wearable in all but the coldest times of the rest of the year, worn with tights and boots.  

This skirt just makes me happy!  (And I love the zebra noses!)

ETA:  I have posted about two previous versions of this skirt HERE and HERE.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

McCall's 6566 and The Sewing Workshop E-Dress/Skirt

Wow, it's October already.  And we've already had snow here (meaning here in town, not just up in the mountains, although the town snow melted off pretty quickly).  And I've still got summer projects to blog about.

A few more pieces that I managed to accomplish this summer included a couple of tops from McCall's  6566:

I bought this pattern because, while the tops are really very simple, there are some design/style lines tossed in that added a little interest.  I also liked that the fabric recommendations included both knits and wovens, thus expanding the possibilities.

I started with View C, which is a dolman-sleeved top with a plain front and a gathered inset at the lower back.  I thought it looked like a good possibility for the type of loose, airy tops I like to wear in the summer.    I don't seem to have a picture of the first version I made, which ended up being much too large through the body and too wide in the neckline.  I wear that version for casual weekend wear, but it's much too sloppy-fitting to wear to work.  For the second version, I went down a size.  I also then offset the center front and back pattern pieces about a half of an inch past the fold of the fabric when cutting, which effectively reduced the circumference of the neckline by two inches and took a little more out of the width of the body as well.  This gave me just what I wanted for a loose-fitting, but not overwhelming, top.  This version I made out of another of the rayon challis I've gotten from  

I love how this top turned out and I wore it quite a bit this summer.  I know I will be making more next summer.

I also wanted to try View D, which has a cross-over back inset.  I used a rayon knit for this one.  When looking at the pattern pieces, I appeared to me that the cross-over back might be lower and more revealing that what I wanted, so I raised the angle of back neckline a bit.  The pattern piece is show in the photo below.  The curved red line is the original pattern line.    I cut starting about an inch and a half above that line at the side back seam, gradually blending back to the original line.

This pretty much worked, but I will raise the back even more next time I make this one.  It's still a little lower than I would like--okay for weekend wear, but it doesn't feel appropriate for work.  I'll also go down a size over all for the next one, as this turned out a little oversized, and probably raise/narrow the neckline in front as well.  But, really, I think I like the pattern and it could be fun to play with--color blocking, combining multiple prints, stripes changing direction, etc.  My fabric had a tie-dye effect that I could run in different directions.

Here's the back view:

Another pattern I finally got around to making this summer was the Sewing Workshop's E-Dress/Skirt.  This is a downloaded pattern from the SW website.  

I'm not really a dress person, but I love a good skirt.  And now I'm kicking myself for not getting to this one sooner than I did.  This skirt has simple lines, but I love how the bottom band is shaped so as to give the skirt a bit of a lantern shape.  I made my first version out of a green rayon/poly/lycra woven (no idea where I got this fabric from--it's been sitting on the shelves for awhile).

Once I knew I was happy (excited, really) with the fit and look of the pattern, I pulled a charcoal gray pinstripe 100% linen out of the pile of summer "Chosen Ones" fabrics.  

The bottom band on this skirt is another opportunity to play with fabric.  I've been thinking about some embellishment or fabric manipulation ideas for other versions of this. 

This SW E-Skirt pattern will be a regular TNT in the skirt pattern rotation for me.  I've got a couple planned for my fall/winter sewing and I think this skirt could be a real workhorse garment in anyone's wardrobe!  

I've started sewing for fall and winter.  Around here the last couple of years we seem to be getting less and less fall, more and more winter.  It makes me want to sew coats and jackets!