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Loco Quilt Raffle

September 19, 2013

New England Trip 2013-090

I haven’t been sewing much, but my mom has been busy. She’s mainly a quilter now, and a member of two guilds. Two! And she’s decided to use a little Yankee ingenuity to help cover some uncovered medical costs. This woman is the most selfless person I know. Seriously, ask any of my friends. She’ll pick you up, take you in, cook you a meal and make you a bed.

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I’m kinda crap at this. The one school year I sold enough overpriced cashews and wrapping paper to get a super-rad see through telephone was a complete anomaly. In fact, it was probably my mom who really earned that phone.

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Anyway, if you like quilts, and are interested in the (no presh!!!) raffle, here are the details:

Loco Log Cabin quilt, machine pieced by my mom, long arm quilted by her friend

100% cotton fabric, 100% cotton Warm & Natural batting, 100% mercerized cotton Coats & Clark thread

75” x 94″

10% of proceeds will be donated to Alzheimer’s Association (

Free delivery in continental US. And if you live within a 25 mile radius of her town, she’ll deliver in person :)

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Tickets are $1 each or 6 for $5.

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She’s going to draw the winner on September 30, so if you’re interested, send me an email. Pay Pal has a no-fee option, meaning the ticket sales go directly to my mom and You rock!

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New England Trip 2013-095


Thank you

September 17, 2013

From the very core of myself, thank you for your kind thoughts. And to those of you who sent an email to check in on me, please realize that it meant more than you’ll ever know. I was in the blackest of places, and simply couldn’t respond.

This crazy journey. It’s definitely been a ferris wheel. There’s a lot of talk about vulnerability right now. This is a vulnerable place – my comfort level for sharing online isn’t high. On a personal level, it’s higher. I will always prefer real human contact to online contact. (That said, blogging has allowed for some real human contact with ridiculously awesome people!)

I need some more joy in my life. Both by creating it and recognizing it when it’s there.

This community definitely brings me joy. Sewing brings me joy. So here’s to you!

And here’s to running. And dogs. And the little kindnesses of strangers. “The small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay.” Yes, I’m quoting Gandalf.

I haven’t sewn anything new since the black dress. I have no idea what the kids are sewing these days! But I did finally go to a local meetup, and met the famous Dixie, among other lovely ladies & gent. And I’m itching to get going again. Revamp my wardrobe so that it’s climate appropriate. And micro-climate appropriate. I forgot about the frigid chill of my professional/work world. Plus bike appropriate. That’s three wardrobes, guys. I don’t know how to make that happen! There’s gotta be a Venn diagram for that. Right?

I’ll be poking around to see what y’all are up to!!

I’m Still Here :: I’m Not There

September 9, 2013




Vogue 1241/Kay Unger. Wool Crepe. Bemberg lining. Invisible zipper. Originally worn with a lace camisole.

I love you so much. I miss you so much. And I’m trying to keep my promise.

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Say Cheesecake

September 7, 2012

Despite having already posted photos in self-sewn lingerie, swimsuit edition images are a bit more nerve-inducing. I did get my feet wet last summer, with photos in shorts (which I generally don’t wear, other than for sport). Then, within the safe, warm cocoon of a film-inspired shoot, up went the Mrs. Robinson shots. I’m just gonna go ahead and hit “publish”, then run away for a weekend wedding. My schedule and brain are a bit all over the place at the moment, so details on the garments will be written up on Tuesday. Then it’s back to fine-tuning those dang ol’ dungarees.

Borderland Jeans

August 16, 2012

Meow. Hello whiskery crazy crotch. Let’s pretend this is a Japanese horror flick from the turn of the century. Crazy crotch gets a little closer.





You can see it a mile away. Aliens have spotted this oddity and are descending for closer inspection.

If I’d known there would be a castle, you know, just a starter home, I would have worn a pretty little dress for our walk in the woods. But I wanted to test drive the revised jeans pattern. Of course, it was a searing, muggy, swampy walk in said woods. Not great for hot off the press tight jeans, unless you really want to push your boundaries of comfort. I was becoming a little irritated with my rub off jeans pattern, which was made from a pair with elastane in them, and ended up trying on my first pair of jeans from a pattern. And you know what? They fit so much better than when I’d finally finished them. There are still issues with length, and the front comes up too high. But overall, they are nowhere near as bad as I recall. Out comes the measuring tape. I’ve trimmed 2 inches off my full hip. No wonder! So, I started fresh with that pattern. With changes, of course. I straightened the outseam as much as possible, keeping a slight curve around the hip. (Remember, I’m interested in using selvedge denim.) Then, all the curve was shifted to the inseam. I also lowered the front of the waist, raised the yoke a smidge to where I prefer it, and these jeans are the result. Not too shabby.

I LOVE that my outseam is totally straight. And I LOVE not needing a belt. The butt is pretty good. The waist feels great.

Under the butt needs some pinching out. But that crotch. Yeah, no pants tent, and the legs are nice and snug. But seriously, guys. So many whiskers. Granted, after three days of wear, the crotch is far less constricted, the whiskers less noticeable. But the photos are just screaming too tight.

While wearing them, I tweaked my pattern. First stop: pinch out 1″ under the butt. Second: lower the zip stop so I can actually pull them on without wriggling in. Then, after several combos of letting out the inseam (legs too baggy, weirdness in crotch), flattening the crotch curve (extra special weirdness in crotch, like a saggy camel toe), lowering the crotch end point 1/2″ (almost right), this is what I ultimately went with.

Not Goldi-crotch. Not at all. Whiskers are replaced by a frown, and a much more visible pouch in the concave area between my quads and prominent hip bones.

(Just ignore the extra scissor nip near the zipper, and the misaligned fly, okay.) I like the waist sitting on my hip bones, as it tends to feel secure, but I think I should drop the center front a bit. They are more comfy straight away. And after wearing these all day, the frown is more of a wearing crease. But you know what? When I tried on the first pair again, I almost liked them better. The fabric had begun to break in, and the wrinkles had lessened.

In comparing with all of my RTW jeans, all with elastane, I am now utterly convinced that the elastane is what helps diminish the wrinkles/whiskers. The crotch is allowed to be snug, the inseam and outseam can also be snug to the leg. And the fabric simply stretches over the concave Y of the pelvis and up to the quad. All with comfort and ease, and only the slightest wink of a whisker. I tested out my theory with a pair of shorts (coming up) from this same pattern. Because all signs indicated I needed to let out the inseam, I did just that. Everything hangs as it should, but of course a jean made this way would never be snug. It would be a trouser. Sigh. At least I have a good trouser pattern. And a moderately okay husband jean pattern.

Spoiled Sweet

August 15, 2012

Awesome shot, Ry! Don’t worry, I didn’t lose a tooth on the hike – that’s just my zipper pull :)

Before packing up the car for a week in NH, I made certain to write up this blog post, take photos for a separate post and file them away on my phone, and snugly fit good intentions into my bag. All my good intentions and energy instead went straight into caring for my dad – I was giving my mom a long overdue, well-deserved holiday. It was a fantastic, exhausting, happy, sad, funny and difficult week. One with very little time for sewing, reading or writing, and ultimately tough decisions to be made. Don’t worry, I let off a little steam with another fabulous hike at the end of the week. Ryan and I each grew up near our state’s respective highest peaks. I’ve been up Katahdin a few times with him, but I’d never taken him up Mt. Washington. (He’d been on the summit as a young lad, via the auto road. Pfft. Wait, so have I.) Possible thunderstorms in the forecast for Saturday (Mt. Wash is not a place you want to be in bad weather), we delayed a day by hiking a local hill to find buckets of blackberries. And fresh bear scat. We emptied our Nalgenes, picked quickly with ears pricked and eyes alert, then wandered home. Ry’s drive up to NH to meet me paid off in full Sunday. I love the trail we went up, which follows a ravine and waterfalls. And although the summit was crowded with tourists, we reveled in having a clear day up top. Two drops of rain on the exposed descent trail, followed by a quick dip in the icy mountain runoff along the base road, washed away all the sweat and blisters of the past six hours. Sports bra and hiking bikinis make for a totally suitable bathing suit in the wild.

So, yeah. Spoiled by nature. And spoiled by friends. Here is my original post:

Boy am I spoiled. In fact, I don’t even deserve the goodies given to me recently. I mean, really guys, how many FOs have I posted lately? On second thought, don’t answer that. A couple weeks ago, I discovered this gem of a box on my stoop. Ooo-eeee! All the way from Californ-i-a! My bestie Sarah sent me a box of fabric, full of awesomeness like striped swimsuit lycra, blue gingham, wide green seersucker. And Marimekko. Vintage Marimekko. Girl probably heard my delight from this coast. I’ve never splurged on every seamster’s favorite Finn fabric, but have come very close. THANK YOU S-bear, and thank you GW… amazing taste! I’m not certain what I’m going to do with it – the pieces are small – but maybe a home dec project.

Then, just a few days later, I got together with my other bestie, Sheila. As I was pulling out of the drive, she came running down in the dark yelling something, and plunged this in my hands. My greedy little hands. Oh boy!!! Inside the case for the book was an unused fitting shell pattern. Yes, please and THANK YOU. It’s a size 8, which I think might be a bit too small of a starting point, but I’m gonna give it whirl. I’ve said it before, but I’d really like to have a shell/sloper/moulage/whatever so that I can simply build from that foundation block. Kenneth King is teaching a moulage course nearby in October, but it’s way out of my budget.

Super huge shout out to my double S team – you both truly are the best. For many more reasons that gifts. Them’s just a perk :)

A Nordic aside: did anyone else notice in the new IKEA catalogue that they are now selling a sewing machine? It’s really basic, and probably pretty crappy. However, that’s still pretty exciting. Sewing has been in the news a few times lately, and the more press the better. Wocka wocka.

Quickie Cowl

July 31, 2012

digging the 80s vibe. not digging the big hair.

This weekend I was working on my jeans. Yeah, I’ve totally taken the long way ’round with them. Let’s call it the scenic route, to put a positive spin on it, k? K. However, I needed a quick win, and decided I’d bang out this top.

at least you know i wear my seat belt.

It was on my spring/summer list anyway, though in a different fabric. I decided a last-minute sub was the game to play, and am glad I did. This jersey blend was one of two new purchases for my sewing plan, but the rib knit is a stash buster. The stripes were very obviously off-sidesgrain, but with a pre-wash, I’m hoping that won’t be an issue. In keeping with my new love of loose and breezy for the weather, I even added more volume than the pattern allows, and sewed up a larger size than necessary. A quick search on Pattern Review told me that the cowl is nowhere near as blousey in real life as in the illustration, and that the neckline is higher.

While I didn’t adjust the height of the neckline, I did slash & spread the front to add more drape to the cowl. I’m pretty happy with it. The only other adjustment I made was to size down two sizes in the waistband, and also to only use half the length of that same piece.

The sizing down may be an issue with the recovery (or lack thereof) of my rib knit, so if you make this up, kick the pieces around for sure. Next time, if there is one, I might size down the main bodice, yet I do like the volume. I’d also cut down on the amount of fabric used for the part of the cowl that hangs on the inside. It seems a bit excessive to me, but in this moderately see-through knit, it’s an assist.

The serged construction was a breeze (woolly nylon, I love you forever), and for the sleeves I opted to use zigzag fancy footwork to echo the stitch on the back neck facing. I interfaced with tricot for the first time, so fingers crossed that nothing weird happens in the wash. I took a gamble and didn’t test. So living on the edge.

Last Wednesday was not a quick win, but awesome all the same. In fact, I stitched up this shirt in the morning, knowing I was going to some event, guessing it was at Fenway, assuming it was a baseball game. Holy amazeballs husband!!! You’ll never walk alone.

Fabric: jersey blend from Hart’s, $6; rib knit from stash

Pattern: Hot Patterns Cool, Calm and Cowl-Neck tee, free at

Year: 2009

Notions: tricot, thread

Total price: $6

mark as read

July 27, 2012

Survive! the climb up the mountain.

Fight! the urge to return to the screen as entertainment.

Liberate! yourself from the chair.

Mark this post as read. Get up and get out. It’s a very rebellious act for a blogger. One I highly recommend.

(because this is primarily a sewing blog, here’s a little something i found in my pack while gathering supplies for the weekend: a self-designed & sewn pair of ripstop nylon rain pants, circa 1998. look at that gusset. yeah, i’m that cool.)


Granite State of Mind

July 11, 2012

Summer. New Hampshire. Blue skies. Big rocks. Choppy fresh water. I put in a lot of hours on this lake/reservoir growing up. And jumped off this rock a lot, too! In fact, it was really strange scooting back down the makeshift gangway instead of jumping into the water. By the way, the picnic table is new on me – we always used driftwood or fallen trees.

I’m wearing this exact outfit as I type, which goes to show I’ve come round to blousy, loosey-goosey tops. How did that ever happen?! I consider them belonging in the realm of the lithe and thin-framed. Love the look of flowing fabric, dramatic drapes, but it would ultimately weigh me down and end in frump-fest. My body hasn’t changed all that much, so it must be the attitude. Or delusions. Or thrifted spotted silk. Maybe the warm temps and soothing breezes coming in off the lake. Whatever it is, I really like this top. More so because it was so ridiculously easy to sew, a total win in a sweltering sewing room. Especially after all the work on the shorts – more on them later.

This gem of a pattern is from the glorious yard sale booty two summers ago. Whoever Loraine Irish is, she was styling in ’82.

The silk was a major Goodwill score, in the form of an ugly gathered skirt (thanks for landing it in my hands, Ashley!) for $4.50. I have enough left for piecing or trims, though not another garment. I sewed up view 2, with a few minor adjustments. The pattern is a size 12 (bust 34″), and I’m a 10 according to the envelope (using high bust of 32″). Flat pattern measurements came in at 41.5″ 44.5″ (I initially blogged the waist measurement), a crazy amount of ease even for this look. So, I pinched out an inch on both the front & back, meaning a total of 4″, then followed suit with the yoke. Good enough for me. Not digging the facings, especially given the drape of the silk, I made some super-tiny bias binding for the slit neck, and simply turned the armscyes twice. The super-tiny bias binding has a super-tiny oopsy! I got a little feisty while cutting down the fold, and opened up all the way down to where the facing would end on the inside of the garment. Hello, cleavage! Once the binding was on, a 1.5″ slipstitch took care of that problem. Design feature. Yoke and side seams are French, and I utilized the existing hem of the skirt while laying out. Of course, I had to unpick a bit for the side seams, but it’s so much faster than measuring and sewing up a new blind hem.

I love how simply and breezy this blouse is. I was afraid it might turn out lunch lady at best, sloppy at worst. I think I’ve avoided that, but I’ll leave it for you to decide. And even if it doesn’t work for ya, that’s fine… it works for me. Maddie had a recent experience with an uninvited opinion on a slouchy, loose fit. Sheesh. I’ve toyed with belting this using a black leather obi belt Ryan gave me. It’s from Gordana (PR fame), and I’ve only worn it a few times. Aside from earrings and necklaces, I’m not all that fab at accessorizing. Maybe I’ll snap a photo and take a poll so you can weigh in.

In looking at the lines a bit more, I was totally struck by how similar it is to a shirt I’d recently seen and wanted to sew. Ry and I were having an awesome meal on our Texas trip, and I was so smitten with the blouse of our neighbor’s waitress, that I sketched it out with some notes. Not the first time, either! Ry just handed me a receipt-cum-bookmark that I’d drawn a pricey coat onto, in the store, passing over offers of assistance from sales staff. This was two years ago. Now I sometimes take a couple mobile shots of cool design details I’d like to incorporate. I’m sure I look like a counterfeiter, but often don’t even use the inspiration. And if I do, it’s for my own use, and never a total knock-off – just a detail or RTW construction technique. I’ve outed myself, and am fully prepared for the needles and shears headed my way :) But back to the blouse – with a few mods, I think I can get a similar look with a fabric in my stash.

Now onto the shorts. The color and length is fresh from the JC Penney catalog. I feel like I should get some crazy fabric and call them Jams. In reality, the length is due to these being a working muslin from the Jean-ius class. Although I haven’t been posting my progress, I’ve made three muslins from it so far, all studies in different fabric weights and stretch. The pair I’ve copied have elastane in them, and it was eye-opening to see the difference it makes. The first non-stretch draft I made was impossible to get on! Here’s the thing, though – I am so sick of stretch denim. I really want to get a solid jeans pattern down for a slim fit, non-stretch jean. I’ve never seen, let alone owned, selvage denim, but that’s what I’m going for. I remember a pair of 80s Jordache jeans that I bought new in college. They were straight, stiff and tight. And one of three pairs of pants I packed for my year-long stint in Russia after graduation. Like selvage denim, they eventually formed to my body. Until all the vodka and bliniy caught up with me.

The draft is getting close, but not perfect. This denim is not the best quality, and midweight. It’s leftover from my first pair of jeans, which I never wear by the way. The back on those dips down, the front is too high, and the length too short – I had just needed to finish them! Anyway, when I first tweaked these to what I thought was a decent enough fit, I went ahead with all of the faux flat-felling & topstitching. They were pretty much dead on while standing up. After a day of moving around, sitting, crouching, living, issues came to light. After three days – because who washes jeans after one wearing – the issues were in the spotlight. Sitting stretches out the rear, of course. This has made the under-bum a bit baggy, and also caused the lovely upward scoop of the back waistband to fall lower. I like that upward scoop for bending modesty. I’m going to simply pinch out more of the center back up near the waist, and bring the height of the yoke down 1/2″ to fix this. As-is, I’d never be able to go sans-belt. I’d really love to not need a belt after a few wears. But the question remains – how tight can I make the final pair in selvage denim? Of course, one can’t expect painted-on jeans. Some amount of bum mobility is necessary. One can’t go around standing on a conveyor belt. So, I’m down with the fact that a smidge of under-butt sag will happen over time. Yet I wonder if higher-quality selvage denim will stretch less, yet still be able to be squeezed into at initial wear. I’m hesitant to make this particular fabric extra snug initially, as I don’t quite trust it. Lastly, I will probably have to shift all of my outseams, which are now curved, because the point of selvage denim is to utilize the selvage (a straight line).

That’s a lot of thinking out loud. Overall, I’m pretty pleased with these. I didn’t add front pockets for the draft. I didn’t correct the curve of the outseam. But I did have fun with the back pockets! I always wanted an “L” embroidered on my shirts like Laverne. My sister has an “L” brooch that she’d better keep an eye on. I’ve been digging Amy’s pockets, too.

Here’s some cuteness, because we all love cuteness.

And here is some more cuteness. My dad turned 84 yesterday, so we celebrated early over the weekend. His health is changing quickly now, but boy is he still a charming man.

Cloth Labels

July 6, 2012

Oh, hello there. Remember the days of multiple posts per week, and my blog hopping around like a busy little bunny? Yeah, neither do I. Ha! It wasn’t that long ago! I do have finished objects to share. In fact, I’ve been living in one of them for a few days, and it’s now in the wash. Let’s hope it fits the same as when it first came off the machine (old stash, maybe not pre-washed), and we’ll bang out a photo shoot here at threadsquare HQ. And be prepared, as it’s high time I curl up with my reader for a few hours :) I’ve been logging so much time on the computer for a different project, and summer is so short here, that my free hours simply must be spent outside in an upright position, moving more than my arms.

For now, I’ll leave you with a little eye candy. A while back, I went on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Osborne Library at the American Textile History Museum with three other volunteers. I was really struck by the mill girls’ letters, one of which we were able to read the original. We didn’t view any of the Lowell Offering issues (a poetry & fiction periodical by the mill girls), yet if you’d like to peruse, here is a fantastic database. The photo geek in me loved seeing tin types and stereographs, as well.

At the end of the tour, we passed a table with scattered stacks of gorgeous colorful pieces of paper. Called cloth labels, they were originally attached to bolts of fabric. Apparently that is the extent of what is known about them. Yet they are so beautiful, like small illuminated manuscripts. Enjoy a sampling, courtesy of the American Textile History Museum, Lowell, MA. Please no pinning and/or reproducing. :) The museum was kind enough to share these with me, so let’s respect their copyright. If you’d like to see more, feel free to browse the Chace Catalogue online.

Have a great weekend, darlings. And to quote Kenneth King, let’s meet back here. I’ll be stopping by yours between now and then.