Yes, darlings. Pi. Π. As in math. Or maths, if you’re of the British persuasion. Maybe even Australian. I don’t know what y’all call the numbers game down there. What I do know is that blue-violet rayon + raspberry-rhubarb Petersham + 1/2 circle skirt makes for lovely sewing. And spinning. Lots and lots of spinning. Although I’ve been limping on a hurt foot since Tuesday, unable to go to boot camp or run, I HAD to whirl. In a few days I’ll even give her a jump.
I am so very glad I didn’t rush into this skirt the night before holiday. I was tempted to cut into the challis, ditching my plans for a circle skirt (no time to let it hang pre-hemming) and make a dirndl in its place. Reason got the better of me, and upon return, I set to work mocking up a 1/2 circle skirt template. Previously, I’d made a 3/4 template, yet discovered there wasn’t enough of this fabric in my stash. Which worked out lovely, if I do say so. Up until now, I’ve shied away from circle skirts, thinking they’d be rather unflattering on me. The last time I wore one was in roughly 5th grade, when I begged my mom to make me a poodle skirt and buy me saddle shoes.
Now, I’m totally sold. For me, the key is the 1/2 circle. It’s just enough fabric for flippy fun, and not too much to weigh me down. My initial plan for this fabric, if you recall, was a “short, flippy skirt”. I kept it a little modest, but will definitely be making a shorter version. However, I’ll move down to a 1/4 circle skirt then, so that simply walking down the street doesn’t give everyone I pass a piece of the pie.
These are so freaking easy to make, guys. Seriously. The hardest part is the patience required in waiting for the bias to stretch out. And then the patience required for marking an even hem. Luckily, the skirt had hung for several days by last weekend, when my mom visited. I put her to work, yes I did. Hey, it was Father’s Day!
I’m not going to bore you with another circle skirt tutorial. Here’s where I took off from. You’ll notice my lovely exposed zip, from the hoard I stole from that same mom. (I steal from her AND I put her to work. It’s okay, I repay her in foot massages.) That design element is actually a retrofit. See, I didn’t think about needing, you know, seam allowances for the center back. My math was so dead on for the waist, and I need to save room for pie, so I just did what any clever seamster does, and showed my metal (teeth).
Ages ago I’d picked up some Petersham from Sunni, and the red went into my purple Clovers. The rhubarb (plum in the shop) has been ripening for this skirt. Again, why mess with a solid tutorial? If that isn’t straightforward enough, pre-shrink your ribbon, press & stretch along lower edge, stitch to lining (in my case, silk habotai), stitch to skirt, stitch together.
If I told you I’m off to bake a pie, my nose would grow three feet. It’s too hot for that business. I love the weather, but our apartment has one window unit, in the opposite corner from the kitchen. Bake in 100°? I think I’ll pour myself a tall one. With a rhubarb swizzle. And a blueberry garnish. With one twirl for good measure.
Have a lovely weekend, and I’ll be catching up with you :) It’s the second day of summer, and I’m pretty psyched that I’ve stuck with my sewing plan pretty well so far. I’m working on the Jean-ius class now, have a swimsuit to make, the HP top and the Siren sundress (spell check really wants that to read “undress”!). I’d also like to use the pattern I draft from Jean-ius to redo my Clovers. And the red bra kit I’ve had for months. BUT…. I’ve ticked off two Renfrews, a Taffy, a motorcycle jacket, and two Simplicity dresses (one was a change of pattern from my original plan, due to the blog hop).
Don’t we all? Who isn’t in love with Amy’s style, sewing and writing? We were in our adopted hometown last week, so I felt it absolutely necessary to
stalk email the lovely keeper of the the cloth habit herself, in the hopes that she’d grace me with conversation and a coffee. And she did just that! Amy, you are so terrific! I could have chatted with you for hours. Alas, Ry had to buzz off to the airport, but he snapped a couple quick photos for us. (Don’t let the desaturated images fool ya, this gal’s got the prettiest green eyes.) I love actually getting to hear what a person sounds like, have a real conversation. Of course, there is the nail-biting question of what to wear to a sewing blogger meet up! Of course, I wore my indiscreet knit dress from last summer, complete with twin needle hems that aren’t flat, and a V-neck that I hadn’t bothered to check the decency of prior to cutting out. My first choice was this dress, but I’d been wearing it all week. Austin was sick of seeing me in that dress. I’m never sick of it, and in hot weather, it feels like I’m wearing nothing at all.
Oh, I forgot to tell you about my mate’s plan to fan-boy candid camera us. “OMG! You’re Cloth Habit, right?! And threadsquare?! I can’t believe it – I looooove your blogs, I read them aaaall the time.” Aaaah, the silliness :)
It was tough leaving, but the Mushie kisses upon return sure do help a seamster out. The trip was refreshing for many, many reasons, and also a great way to step away from the computer for a bit. I did receive an email that I’d been featured on Pattern Review, but by the time I read the note, the site had changed. I have no idea what the feature read like, but I’m assuming they just took info from my (pretty bare) profile page? Which reminds me… I was contacted by an editor for Be In Style a couple months ago, and they were sweet enough to feature me in their Best of the Web series. Huzzah! I kept forgetting to post a thank you, and I hope this will suffice. Any site that has a post about asymmetrical moto jackets is alright by me ;)
Now that some blog housekeeping is done, sunshine has shown, my friends have been hugged, I’m ready to buckle down and get back to the cutting table.
Oy! I’ve been absent the last few days, and am going to be again. We spent a long holiday weekend off-grid in Maine throwing sticks, catching sticks (that was Mushka), stacking wood, running on dirt roads, swatting black flies, picking rhubarb. The flies won, as I’m sure you could guess if you’ve ever been in the woods in summer. I’m a walking tea tree oil diffuser at the moment. No worries, by tomorrow afternoon I’ll be nursing a Mexican martini, giving my mates a big squeeze and deciding on the next a.m.’s breakfast taco. It’s a very important decision, people. Until then, I’m trying really hard not to haphazardly cut into some fabric and create a pre-holiday I-have-nothing-to-wear crazetastic mess. I’ve been eyeing the blue-violet challis marked for a circle skirt for the last 15 minutes. I think I’ll just dream of a rhubarb inspired outfit instead.
Thank you for all the sweet comments concerning the photography exhibit :) I’ll share the selected images soon.
Hey guys and gals, I’m pretty psyched about this news. Three of my photographs were chosen for this exhibit in southern Maine. I don’t know if there are any Mainers (Mainiacs) out there, or any other New England residents for that matter, but if you’re in the neighborhood, pop on in :) I’m sure it’s pretty low-key. In fact, the casual nature of the exhibit was what spurred me to enter a submission – a kind of soft way of trying to get back in there. The gallery has opted to print everyone’s work (weird), so hopefully the quality looks good. I got the news while I was in NH over the weekend, and needed to submit print files before I’d make it back home. So, a little phone photoshoppery fun with Ry ensued, and I wasn’t able to see his test prints in person. That man is amazing. Anywho, a road trip to Maine for lobster rolls, oysters, beer & photography never hurt anyone. Except the lobster.
In wordpress, once a post is published, you get this little sidebar congratulating you on a post, and a little tea bag line of encouragement. This is what I saw after hitting publish just now:
Stephen King. Maine. Get it. I’m a dork.
I imported these photos into wordpress before traveling to see my family for a long weekend, but there was simply too much going on to write a post. So, without further ado, here’s le Taffy. Yeah, there was a little saltwater involved in the making, concerning the serged rolled hem I wanted to use on the sleeves. But it all worked out in the end.
My photos aren’t the best, so please excuse the seat belt wrinkles. While searching for a video of Speeding Motorcycle, I discovered that Daniel Johnston was playing an upcoming show in a southern NH town. Holy crap! It was fan-freaking-tastic, and well worth the drive. The opera house was quite small, and we were able to sit front and center. Great, great evening. I haven’t had time to take proper photos in this since.
The muslin I made, in that ubiquitous black & white poly from the bolt that keeps on giving, has a divine serged rolled hem on both the sleeves and bodice. It’s slightly heavier than the chiffon I used for my final garment, which kept getting masticated like a big ol’ hunk of boardwalk candy. Very frustrating, because the same fabric, different color, was used for this blouse, and all was well in serger land. In fact, the SRH on that blouse is the best part of it. Ah, well. I employed some tactics that might have you raising an eyebrow. But I wanted a serged sleeve, and I wanted it now.
From the get-go, I used Sullivans spray stabilizer to stiffen the chiffon a bit. Sometimes I use the tissue paper method for cutting, but I’ve been loving the Sullivans of late. When my practice throws ended up as fails, a stroll down the internet boardwalk found me happy to lay my money down on a vendor hawking this ware. So what if it’s the equivalent cooking steak in the microwave, then smothering it with ketchup? This stuff worked. I cut it into small strips, carefully pressed in sections without distorting the sleeve, then serged away. (Practiced on scrap first. Duh.) The first rinse admittedly left the fabric a bit stiff, but after a hand wash in shampoo, ocean breezes were floating those crazy sleeves up, up, up.
My sister was gifted the muslin version. This is a straight 6, and for my final version I extended the darts an inch, used size 4 side seams, size 6 length, and took out an inch wedge along the neckline. It’s basically the same dart that Oona used in her final version, only I took it out of the pattern. What’s up with that huge neckline? I was hoping it would work on my sister, and it mostly did. She’s a little more well-endowed than I am, so the neckline isn’t as big of an issue.
Though my weekend trip wasn’t exactly a vacation to the shore, I did discover a cute addition to a town that needs some revitalization. One Stitch, Two Stitch is a lovely, organized and spacious quilting shop & sewing studio with friendly owners, high-quality fabric, and ginormous cutting tables. They were even running their first garment sewing night on Friday, but I wasn’t able to make it. A small selection of wool coating and silk/cotton blends was nestled amongst the bolts. If you ever find yourself in a small northern NH town, pop in.
I’ve made quite a bit of progress on my Spring/Summer sewing list, even with the Simplicity diversion. If I hadn’t needed to do some family stuff, my sewing schedule could have been rearranged so that the 1940s Siren sundress was completed for this week’s Sew Weekly challenge. But the family stuff really needed doing. And I really need to make some jeans before I make another dress. In a bad way.
I am so pumped after yesterday afternoon, when I spent a couple hours at a middle school teaching a sewing lesson. The classrooms there are filled with kids who are from low-income communities. (Oddly, this particular school is physically in a very wealthy neighborhood, and my jaw dropped when I opened up the Zillow app to see what the gorgeous, San Francisco-style hillside row houses go for.) Surrounding real estate aside, the actual students, mostly from other parts of Boston, don’t have a lot of means. That’s where a program like Citizen Schools comes in. It expands the learning day for kids, providing academic support, apprenticeships with community members, and weekly activities. The kids also have a positive learning environment while their parents are still at work.
My first encounter with Citizen Schools was a couple months ago, when Sarah invited me along to run a lesson. Since, I found a participating middle school closer to me, and with a bit of back & forth emailing, set up a little sewing workshop. I really wish I could post some photos, but you’ll just have to take my word for it. The students had a blast, as did I. After introductions, I asked if any of them sewed, who taught them, what they made. Then had them guess what, if anything, I was wearing that was homemade. Skirt? Yes. Shirt? Yes. Jaaacket?? Yes! They went a little nutty :) I’m hookin’ ‘em young, folks. Impressionable young minds, sewing is cool.
Then I told them a brief history of my favorite quickie project, the yo-yo. We defined a running stitch, practiced on scrap, and got down to business. It was fascinating to see how quickly some of them, especially one boy, picked it up intuitively, while a few struggled a little. Note, those few weren’t paying attention during the instructions. And there was one girl who took it upon herself to gather half her circle into pleats, then run the needle through all at once. That’s what I like to see! From there, we added buttons, then glued the yo-yos onto hair clips, headbands or added a pin to the back. I manned the hot glue gun, so the kids wouldn’t get hurt. Of course, I have a huge burn blister from the very first yo-yo. Better me than the students!
They asked a ton of questions, and even though they were excited and loud, they did a pretty great job of staying focused. Especially after an MCAS day. They asked if I was coming back, which was too cool, and I sent them away with instructions and fabric circles for making more yo-yos on their own. One girl was wearing a headband adorned with fabric rosettes, a perfect example of “I can make that”, illustrating how to apply what they learned. Another girl mentioned a cloth pouch she owned, basically a huge yo-yo where the gathering thread isn’t cut. She totally got it.
Teaching is tough. Teaching at-risk kids, at a hormonal age, who might not be getting proper nutrition (nutrition, not food) to fuel their minds & moods, let alone proper anything else, is really tough. I know this was just one afternoon. Not an entire day, five days a week. And I feel a little bad, like I should dampen my excitement a bit, because I know it’s not easy. I almost wish I hadn’t read that post this morning, as my post is in no way meant to counteract Sunni’s. All it’s meant to do is share what I’ve been up to this week. Which was, in effect, breeze into a classroom, connect with kids for a few hours, get them excited about sewing and crafting. Totally different experience than day in, day out.
I hope y’all are having a great week :D
Apologies to Armistead Maupin. I have no idea how it happened, but as an impressionable youth, I chanced upon Tales of the City, and couldn’t put the series down. After that (in my history of reading, not in the history of writing) came the Beats, then of course the original reality show, The Real World. Raise your hand if you remember Puck. How could you not? I just knew I’d have some bohemian/beat/hipster SF life. These days, if acts of subversion include making your own t-shirts, then I am so hep. (Coincidentally, Mr. Maupin was on the most recent Weekend Edition, my blog title previously decided upon. I love stuff like that.)
I’ve really perfected the art of complicating simplicity. In my efforts over the past couple of years of wanting to learn the “real” way to sew, I’ve noticed that I started letting my instinct (or “Eff it! I own you, fabric”) attitude slip a little. As was the case here: a simple t-shirt pattern. Buying a t-shirt pattern is odd in itself, if you ask me. But I did just that, even though I’ve hacked up, pieced together, nipped & tucked my fair share of them over the years. As a professor once quipped, you have to know the rules in order to break them. So, I bought a pattern, and learned a few things along the way. Stuff y’all probably knew light years ago.
- Fun fact: spandex is an anagram for expands!
- knit ≠ jersey, but jersey = knit. I always used the two interchangeably, like some people do with Coke or Kleenex for soda or tissue.
- woolly nylon is the shit
- so is Vilene/Pellon bias tape. I love it more than twill tape. Really do. But I already knew that… just wanted to tell you guys how much I love that stuff.
- “stable knit” ≠ stiff or without drape. It’s about the stretchiness factor. Which is where I went wrong on my muslin.
- Who makes a muslin for a t-shirt, anyway?
Me. This was my first Sewaholic pattern, and I didn’t know what to expect size/fit-wise. I’d heard rumors of high armpits. Actually, I’m kinda glad I sewed up a couple of trials. It gave me a chance to enjoy my serger for what she’s good at. And get a little refresher on negative ease.
This interlock knit I’d snagged from my mom was going to be just perfect. Or so I thought. But the first tee (size 6) is a gross mess on me. So I altered the neckline/shoulder/armscye area, per Sherry’s famous tute, and pinched up the length for my high waist. Which did pretty much nothing, because this thick knit has so much give. Still gross. If this fabric is soft, it is also bulky with lots of stretch, nothing like the drapey knits popular today. I think it’s leftovers from a nearby Land’s End/LL Bean type company where I grew up. Quality fabric, but in that bland, 90s, flannel sheets sort of way.
If I could make a faux-flatlock stitch on my serger just so, this interlock would be perfect for some new yoga pants. I couldn’t get the two layers to pull flat without distorting the fabric. Which is too bad, because I really want to do some athletic gear. Still possible, but there will the be the tendency for chafing without flat seams. Maybe a flatlock stitch is best made on a specific piece of equipment? Anyone had luck on their home serger?
Back to the tees that look good… Once I’d switched over to the drapey heathered lavender jersey, also from Mom, life was great. What a difference it made! I stitched up the same altered pattern I’d left off with, and was almost happy. There was still a bit of frump, and I quickly realized that the issue lay in the bottom band. It simply added too much length for my high-waisted, curvy figure. Long, drapey, tunic-type tees look so great on others, but with my backward S-shaped profile, hips, etc, they do nothing good for me. I hadn’t left enough of a hem to twin needle, so I sliced off the band, trimmed it down, serged back on. Voila! Of course, the one mistake is found front & center… my presser foot got hung up right by the V point, so the topstitching is dense, with a little bump. Meh, I’ve seen worse in RTW.
For numero dos, I made view C in a linen/poly blend jersey. Lemon meringue, anyone?! My arms get chilly on cool summer nights, so 3/4 sleeves for me. I added a smidge to the bottom for twin needle hemming, and took in the waist to a size 4. And let me just say that woolly nylon thread is my new best friend! Expensive? Hell yes. Worth it? HELL YES. It really allows the serged seams some give, and made my twin needling much better (used it in the bobbin, “hand” wound on the machine slowly, using my hand and not the thread guides). It did get caught on a slub in the fabric, again, right near the front, but I fixed it. Hopefully one pre-wash was all this needed, but I have more if it shrinks up.
One other note about the Renfrew… I realize the pattern is designed for those without sergers, but if you have one, I suggest cutting down your SAs to 1/4″. Large seam allowances on the serger are simply annoying to me, so I trimmed mine down during tracing. There is also a typo in the pattern, but I think Tasia covered that on her blog. Oh, and folks have posted tons on knits lately, but I’ll second/third/fourth the consensus that if your fabric is super-stretchy, slice an inch + off that neckband :)
These tops, along with Le Taffy, are what I’ve been wearing for MMM week two. So I’m totally counting this as my post. Taffy, coming up…
In other news, I’m pretty psyched to have run my first official race in (gulp) 3 years yesterday! For all you hardcore runners, a 5k is the t-shirt of races. I was surprised to find it was non-chipped, so my time wasn’t exact, but I came in a minute under my test run from the previous weekend, when the weather was about 10 degrees cooler. My time was four minutes better than the Jack Kerouac 5k from 2009, my first race in 12 years. With actual running training (instead of jogging with Mushie & boot camp workouts), I know I can PR over my high school time (when I was also pretty middle of the road), and move on to 10k.
Happy trails, happy belated Mother’s Day, happy whatever your fancy.
Oh, and if you have an opinion on yellow & my skin tone, do tell. Because I like yellow, but I don’t really know that it is a great color for me. Maybe in this pale tint? My eyes are blue, almost violet at times, the complimentary color to yellow. But for my skin? Whaddyathink?