Practice

It’s been a long time since I’ve tried to sew clothing from scratch. With clothing so inexpensive at thrift stores, there is really no reason to, except I’m picky about the color, texture, and fit of my clothes. (Not that you’d know that by looking at me!)

Photo of pattern and shirt front

Pattern and shirt front

So I gave it a whirl, or at least part of a whirl, and the shirt ended up being too big. As I sewed, I felt that the shirt would be too small. Almost the next moment, it would grow to a huge size and then back to my UW-Platteville size.

The placket went together perfectly. Well, almost. There were no puckers and the top stitching was top notch! Somehow I made it one placket width off center though. Oh well, it is a busy print, and the front is pleated. (Another note to self: vertical pleats are not good for me.) Then I went on to put the collar on. It was too small, either from the same error that caused the placket problem, poor cutting, or both. I was about to make a new collar and put it on (because this would be the right time to do so; easier than doing it with sleeves and sides seams in place) but then the size kept growing and shrinking in front of me. I added the sleeves and side seams (no puckers or gaps, thank you very much) and tried the shirt on. It’s at least a size too big. I guess that is better than a tiny shirt, but only for my ego. I’m done with this shirt.

I’m not too discouraged, but my next projects will be adapting a couple of pairs of pants from the thrift store. I should try this shirt thing again before another 25 years pass and I don’t remember my mistakes. Just in case I don’t get back to it before my memory fails me, I’ve made a few notes for myself below.

Next time I will compare the measurements on a shirt that fits me well to the pattern before cutting it out. My body measurements did match the XL size on the B6099 Butterick pattern, but the shirt didn’t fit me. I was careful with the seam allowances.

Body measurements chart in pattern

Photo of back of pattern envelope

Note the Easy designation. Read the directions carefully anyway. It may help get the placket on center!

The button hole feature on the sewing machine is easy. Make sure the button is in the presser foot however, or you will end up with one really big button hole. (The busy fabric will disguise this.)

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Winter warmth

My first window quilt is complete, after sitting in various stages of progress for literally years!

Completed Window Quilt

Completed window quilt

The window-facing side is made from a patch work of old jeans, inspired by the Quilts of Gee’s Bend. The jeans were hard to work with because I didn’t use the most stained regions (this means lots of old jeans) and the denim had lots of variability due to the variety of original weave, amount of wear, and that I didn’t align the grain. The conglomeration wanted to stretch in unpredictable ways.

Old Jeans and Bras

Old jeans and bras

The batting is fleece from a neighbor’s stash. It was bought for a project and never used.

The room facing fabric is from the thrift store. It was just big enough for this one window.

The new quilt can be opened!

The new quilt can be opened!

The hardware was from the Roman shade that was in the window when we bought the house. The pull had come apart some time ago and the shade was permanently in the closed position.

The replaced shade

The replaced shade

Fabulously, I was able to use hardware that I saved from old bras to route the pull cord. Before you start thinking that I lead a depraved life to gain such satisfaction from reusing bits of old underwear, note that the rings don’t quite match. That’s because I’ve enjoyed a variety of colored underwear: white, pink, tan. Also, each set of hardware represents new underwear. New underwear provides a joy akin to that of new shoes. If you haven’t experienced this, perhaps you have too many clothes. Or perhaps you are more spiritually advanced than I. To dispel you the notion that I have an unhealthy fascination with underwear, I also collect hardware from bib overalls. Still not convinced? Oh well. Artists are rarely appreciated in their own time.

Hardware for future projects

Hardware for future projects

What will I do differently next time? First of all, I will use whole cloth or match the grain on the window side of the quilt, mostly to expedite the process. Secondly, I will use a double-fold binding instead of self-binding the edges. This should give the quilt a tidier look. I like the haphazard look of the jeans-side, but the not-quite-even edge on the striped side isn’t as pleasing to me. Third, I would sew the bra hardware on by machine, so that the stitching holds all of the layers together. I sewed this one by hand, only through the denim.

I would use fleece again for a batting. It is light weight, insulating, and easy to sew through. Used blankets should be a good source of fleece. Did I mention this is my first machine quilting project of any size? It is.

Now what to do with the old shade? Do you need a short chicken fence? That will have to wait until next spring. Until then, enjoy the warmth of winter by bundling up!

Sewing without a map

Mom taught me how to sew without a map. No pattern, no pins unless essential, inexpensive materials, with measurements and math on the fly are par for the course.  This can lead to unexpected results, such as the time that I sewed through my thumb with the machine when I was a teen.

This pillow project was simple and successful. Here’s the pillow in a flannel case sewn from an upcycled flannel sheet. The plants behind it are purple loosestrife, being raised to propagate bio-control beetles.

Photo of zippered pillow case

Zippered pillow case

The outer case was made from a fabric scrap purchased at the thrift store. Due to the shape of the scrap, three pieces were sewn together to make the case.

Photo of frog pillow case

Frog pillow case

Because I’m a geek, I love that almost all of the fabric was used. (Didn’t Jack make a nice butterfly to repair the seat of my chair?)

Photo of small fabric scraps left over

Scraps

The total cost for a fully covered pillow plus all of the other scraps that are yet to be used: $6.50.

New pillow form; rummage sale; $0.50
Flannel; Mom; upcycled from sheet
Zipper; Mom or thrift store; $1.00
Frog fabric from bag of scraps; thrift store; $4.99

It is almost midsummer. Happy Summer Solstice!

Birch leaves in the late day sun

Birch leaves in the late day sun

 

Warm fuzzies

Sometimes warm fuzzies cluster together. I made a scrap quilt, lap size, for Grandma Siggie. It was very satisfying to match the scraps together. Grandpa Neil liked the quilt because it is practical.

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The same weekend that Grandma received the quilt, George and I were given two crocheted scrap afghans, made by his Mom. I like to think of all of the bits of yarn that were used up to make it. George can remember some of the yarns from their original projects. Warm fuzzies all around!

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Stitch a little stitch

I’ve been working on embroidery for at least a year. Here are some of my recent projects. These flowers are adapted from a design by Clare Youngs in the book Scandinavian Needlecraft. It was noted how similar this design is to some Ojibwa designs.

Flowers embroidered on a towel

This Día de los Muertos (or Day of the Dead) inspired design is my own. The design was sketched during a Wisconsin Library Association conference. (I contend that I can listen better when my hands are busy with a repetitive task.)

Embroidered Day of the Dead Skull

I was pleased with the results. The first attempt was freehand on the towel, which didn’t please me very much. Part of the problem was that the hoop was quite a bit smaller than the design, so I couldn’t see it all at once while I was working on it. Perhaps I will “fix” it someday by adding some pretty brains, but now I am interested in other projects.

Embroidered Trial Skull

Here’s another freehand, doodle design. I would like it better if the flowers had been based on actual plants.

Embroidered Square Flowers

The tree design was adapted from one by Aimée Ray in Doodle Stitching: The Motif Collection. There is a design to inspire almost anyone in this fun book.

tree small

An upcycling project that I had been considering was to make a rug from old t-shirts. The process of cutting the strips held me back, even though I use a rotary cutter. Enter one of my favorite thrift stores, The Clothes Closet of Hettinger, North Dakota. I purchased two latch hook rug canvases, fabric strips, and a latch hook tool for one dollar! One rug was started, with a fabric strip for each “hole” in the canvas. It was bunched-up, but I thought that might be due the small size of the started rug. I added more strips. It didn’t get better. I took apart the rug and washed the fabric strips in a lingerie bag. The washing made the fabric curl up and easier to latch to the canvas. The Crafty Woman blog has detailed instructions on how to make a jersey rug and spacing the strips made the rug much easier to hook and it laid flat right away. The fabric strips that I used are 3/4″ wide by 6″ long.

T-shirt Rug

A project that I want to start is re-covering the cracked vinyl covers on four kitchen chair seats. Jenny suggested that I should cover the fabric with a clear vinyl so that they are easy to clean. What a great idea! If you have any suggestions before I start, please let me know. Here’s the fabric that I picked up  for the chairs at another favorite thrift store, Waupaca Thrift Store.

Chair Seat Fabric

While I was writing this post, I was listening to an audiobook until it got too difficult to write and focus on the story. Turns out that I can fold the laundry, but not compose, while listening. The book is The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken by Tarquin Hall, featuring the fictional private investegator Vish Puri. Besides the great title, the book provides a great description of contemporary India, detailed characters, and a good mystery without being too cozy or too violent. I highly recommend it to mystery readers. If you are a Wisconsin resident with a library card in good standing, you may download the audiobook through Wisconsin’s Digital Library. There is no additional cost for Wisconsin residents to check out this book, since it has already been paid for through taxes.