Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Reunion Stitch and Flip Jacket and Trip Down Memories Lane

"Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64?"  I imagine Paul McCartney could not have imagined being 64 when he wrote those lyrics....nor did I imagine that I would so enjoy a reunion of my grade school classmates when I was 64.  But I have reached that age and so did 35 more of my 104 grade school friends and we had had a terrific time laughing and sometimes crying the weekend before last.  But before I share any more of those details, here's the finished jacket that I wore for the morning and afternoon festivities.
Stitch and flip Simplicity 4698

Bias raw edges on front edge....before lightly brushing with a small brush
This stitch and flip technique is so easy (once you have a jacket pattern adjusted) and I trimmed it with the same silk tweed cut 1" on the bias then zig zag stitched on the front opening edge, sandwiching the raw edge in between, and the sleeve edges as well.  I used a 3/4" bias strip to outline the single layer patch pockets, again just placing it over the raw edge so they lay flat against the body of the jacket.  
3/4 " bias trim on patch pocket, again before light brushing
I have been wanting labels for my garments for quite a while now and found and easy and inexpensive way to add a label.  I ordered a rubber stamp from an Etsy supplier who already had the sewing machine artwork which was then customized with my blog title.  I used fabric stamping medium to stamp a strip of ombre ribbon and am thrilled with the result.  

I gave myself a personal challenge for this reunion weekend, to wear something that I had sewn each day.  No one else there had to know, I just needed something to give myself some confidence and comfort since I was emceeing our gathering and felt overly responsible.  Friday evening a number of early birds got together for dinner at a local hamburger joint.  I'm wearing the silk striped shirt from a much loved New Look 6110 pattern.  I like this pattern so much that I have a few more in mind.  It is comfortable and flattering and has plenty of opportunity for embellishment and hem variations.

Saturday's festivities opened with a tour of our 1931 grade school.  More than half of the signed up attendees gathered on our old school playground before we took a tour of our former school building, now parish offices and a small private school for gifted children.

Mary Jo's mother....and my former scout leader....had saved everything including our 8th grade uniform.
Several particular places evoked some very strong memories and emotions....my first grade classroom, for instance, where I remember learning to read so quickly and eagerly.  By sixth grade we were divided by gender.  In seventh grade, in November 1963, our 2 7th grade classes were watching "educational television" (I think perhaps rudimentary French lessons) when there was a break in the show and we were suddenly watching news about the shootings in Dallas and President Kennedy's assassination.  When we entered that classroom chills went up my back because it feels exactly the same in size, in lighting....and in the television mounted in the same corner.  Among 64 year olds, our two classes have a very unique and on the spot recollection of that day.
The television was bigger, the classroom had 54 13 year old girls in it but it felt the same.....
Of course we also had silly, fun stories and the school auditorium and stage pulled those out of our long term memory.  Our girls' basketball team were champions in 1965 (and four of the five team members were together again.)  There were five years of an outside theatrical producer coming to our school to help us put on a show.  Each class sang a few Broadway numbers and there were trunks of rayon-acetate garish costumes that we girls loved and thought were magnificent gowns.  Once we assembled on the stage for a picture (taken by our patient and good humored tour guide, the husband of one of the parish secretaries) we could not help but burst into song.  I will spare you that video but it is receiving accolades on our class Facebook page.  How come I can recall the words to those songs 50 plus years later but can't remember where I put the chalk marker in my sewing room? 
Ready to burst into song....
Of course, one of the "boys" remarked to me afterward,  he thought it was just the same as our former production experiences....the "girls" are happy and excited and giggling about the show and its songs and most of the "boys" are being stoic and kind-hearted enough to go along while hoping to not appear too awkward.
After the school tour we assembled at a nearby restaurant and bar for a cash bar and some appetizers.  There were three dozen classmates from the original 104 and seven have passed away.  I knew it would be next to impossible to speak with everyone in the three hours we had there so I did ask the group to do a one minute speed "update" to say anything about their life in the fifty years since we have known one another.  It was funny, poignant, thoughtful and caring to hear those shares and to experience the affection and good will amongst each other .  People have lives that are full of responsibilities, joys, disappointments and obligations. 

 But for this time together it was about celebrating a common past, a living present and honoring those who could not be or are no longer amidst us.  My final toast choked me up a little (which happened more than once over these three days)..."To the children we were, and the adults we have become."  So glad that we did one last big gathering and happier that so many people who have never attended one in the last fifteen years made an effort for this one.  

To bring this back to a sewing theme, I'd like to share a few last photos.  Our first grade pictures:
Not "my class" but I can name 3/4 of my classmates

My first grade class
I do not own a copy of this picture because I was so distraught when I saw myself in it that I scratched out my face.  I wasn't smiling and that bothered me terribly in first grade.  When I did get to see a friend's copy decades later I could see that I was not the only one caught a little by surprise (imagine the photographer's job fitting all of these first graders into this picture!!)  But sewing people will appreciate that I can still feel the texture of the fabric in the outfit I am wearing.  My mother sewed virtually all of my clothes then....we did have school uniforms so it was mostly Sunday and "dressy clothes."  She would be so surprised and I hope proud of how much sewing means to me today.  I loved the feel of the dotted swiss organza in the outfit she made me and to this day the colors and textures of fabric are what draw me to this hobby.  Now can you tell which one is me?...
Then....last seat with the brown dotted swiss skirt and puff sleeve blouse.  Thank you, Mom. 

Now...in stitch and flip jacket
Next report I'll confess how I found something for my resource center even when the NYC fabric district is closed on Sunday.  Until the, wishing you smiles in your sewing room and life.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Stitch and Flip Jacket Progress

My reunion weekend jacket is progressing nicely and should be finished by this weekend.  Here are a few more pictures of my progress and how I put shoulder pads into this "quilted jacket."  Those of you with strong, straight shoulders I hate you can stop reading soon.

Before I start the quilting I needed to mark the location of these small petal shaped shoulder pads on the back and front of the jacket lining.

The shoulder pads are from Linda Lee's online store The Sewing Workshop  Petal Shoulder Pads  They are not cheap but are worth every penny.  I use them carefully when deciding which garments deserve these high quality pads.

Once I have marked the jacket lining, then I can start more quilting.  This picture shows my jacket with three of the
four sections quilted (I stopped so Mr. Lucky and I could go kayaking on a lovely afternoon)
Once the front section was quilted, then it was time to sew in the sleeve.  This part required me to look back at that turquoise jacket and work out how I had done it previously.  

 The sleeve is set into the armscye that has two different sections....the bottom part is quilted to the lining and the top section is left open for a shoulder pad insertion.

I pinned the sleeve in place then as I sewed the sleeve I stopped and clipped right at the intersection of those two areas, folded back the lining and continued stitching until I did the same on the sleeve back.  
Clipped quilted lining, folded back and sleeve insertion continuing on unequaled part of the jacket

Sleeve is sewn in place and that clip is folded back before inserting the lining
The sleeve lining is hand stitched in place around the entire armhole so that clip will be folded back and the sleeve lining will cover it and keep it from unraveling.
Sleeve lining pinned into place and ready for hand stitching while I sit on the back deck

Close up of sleeve lining pinned into place and covering that clipped section
Oh, the kayaking?  It was a beautiful late afternoon day and we drove up to Cold Cabin Park near Delta, PA on the Susquehanna River.  All these years living in the area (including the decades ago Three Mile Island power station scare) and we have never been here.  There are two dams on the Susquehanna and this is the "pool" area between them.  What a great wide expanse and wonderful wildlife sighting place.  We saw herons and kingfishers and four bald eagles at once swirling and swooping in the skies.  Stopped at a barbecue joint on the way home and saw a field of sunflowers across the street at the sun was setting and starting the blaze into a red, red sky.  

I love my sewing projects but I was glad I stopped so I could enjoy a beautiful day outside.  Winter will be here soon enough and I will be looking back longingly at these pictures.  Here's hoping you get to fill your day with some beauty in your sewing room or in nature.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Dressing and Sewing for a Reunion

Years ago I heard Peggy Sagers http://www.silhouettepatterns.com share that her princess seamed sheath dress was a "reunion dress." As she stated, that's when you need darts and princess seams to make you look your best since you want to make a lasting impression on people you seldom see. Well, I think she was talking about a high school or college reunion but point made.  You see, I have a reunion coming up in a few weeks, one that I have been busy planning for a year.  When my girlfriend and I were setting up our rooming together arrangements, the first thing she asked me was "What are you going to wear?"  We both laughed because one of our fun activities is snoop shopping at a high end store in our home town....and wondering where on earth people are wearing those glamorous gowns on the "formal" side of the store.  Chi chi gowns are not something I have needed nor will need in my life so I'm relieved from having to make corselets and all the underpinnings that make evening wear look and feel good.  
No, this is not a high school or college reunion, instead it is for my 8th grade parochial grammar school class from northern New Jersey.  I've shared pictures before from our yearly lunch gatherings and this is really just a larger, more significant version of that get together.  But as I told another friend who just attended her 50th high school reunion, you want to look good enough so that 27 years from now when a classmate reads your obituary he or she says, "Darn she looked good last time I saw her."  
Because I sew I have double demands on my outfits. Yes, I want to look good but I also want to make sure I wear something I've sewn.  
The reunion will be October 10 and the weather could be anything from warm and sunny to cool and rainy.  Fortunately these are strictly casual gatherings.  We are going to tour our old grammar school (originally built in 1931) for an hour then reconvene for an appetizer buffet and cash bar at a nearby restaurant for the afternoon with a walk through our hometown retail area and stop for ice cream afterward.  Dinner on your own so you can talk at length with a smaller group.  There will be more than two dozen classmates and about a half dozen significant others.  There are  few people who have never attended our previous big two reunions and I am thrilled that they are making the effort to attend this one, most like the last "big" effort we make to get together.  
I want my outfit to be versatile enough for those weather variables, flattering but comfortable enough for plenty of walking....and nice enough for me to be proud that I sewed it.  My first thought was to make myself a new "stitch and flip jacket" and that's my project this week. 
Basically a stitch and flip jacket is a faster but similarly comfortable Chanel-like jacket....or now the preferred term seems to be "iconic French jacket."  Me, I just call it another stitch  and flip because that's the technique I learned ten years ago from my first online class via Patternreview and the late Shannon Gifford. 

 I have raved before about what a marvelous teacher Shannon was and I have sewn a half dozen jackets with these techniques and they all are as wearable and cozy as when I first made them.  I was happy to see that Shannon's entire set of course materials are still available at PR  Shannon Gifford's classes on PR   and I think they are worth every penny and more.  When someone in the class wanted her to explain how to make this techniques "more Chanel-like," Shannon proceeded to add an entire additional jacket with step by step pics showing how she did that.  Here's a copy of the Threads issue 111 with a shorter version of this technique  "Line and Underline in One Step"  
I spent a few hours last week deciding which fabric to use from my resource center....this silk tweed from Fabric Mart....and putting together a sample with fully fused very lightweight interfacing and 1 inch bias cut self fabric fringe.  I am using my well-loved Simplicity 4698 princess seam jacket that Sarah Veblen fit on me ten years ago....and that fitting help was the best investment in my sewing skills ever.
I want a longer jacket to wear with skinny pants and longer sleeves for fall weather.

I went into my closet to look at those other jackets and decide what I liked best or wanted to change this time around.  I'm going to add shoulder pads so examined how I did that on the turquoise tweed jacket that you see in my profile picture (with now departed basenji Sam)  
Quilting stops so shoulder pad can be inserted

No shoulder pads in this jacket but there's velcro in case I want to use them
I like the silk tweed pockets on the bias
Love this Louise Cutting technique to cut fashion fabric on the bias and use a small brush to make it  unravel.
I spent the most time block fusing the fabric and cutting out the pattern pieces then exactly the same pieces in lining, in this case Bemberg rayon also from Fabric Mart.  The sewing is rather simple and the Threads article is a great overview.  An hour or two of sewing, pressing open (and cooling the fabric, always my impatient moments) trimming then top stitching....repeat all the way around and on day two I had the body of the jacket, sewn and also "quilted" to make it more "Chanel-like" and also because it makes it even cozier and more sweater like.  
First stitch and flip jacket nine years ago and just as wearable today

In the next few posts I will show how I add shoulder pads to this design and then my finished jacket.  I have not made a semi-tailored fitted garment like this since my coat project last winter and I am enjoying sewing with woven for a bit more of a structured garment.  I think it will be nice addition to my fall wardrobe and perfect for the reunion gathering.  Are you doing any "special event" sewing these days?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Little Knowledge.....Vogue 8819

Two years ago I made up Vogue 8819 while we were renting an adorable little remodeled house in Florida for the month of March.  The weather was spectacular and I was sooooo happy to see old friends and not have the headache of a second home or nasty condo owners that I barely had time to sew.  All of this might explain why I breezed through the first version of this swing-y knit cardigan but never liked the neck and front band.  This summer I decided to revisit this pattern right before we left on our England and Wales trip.  I stitched up a black and white stripe version, black being a travel staple and the white stripes still feeling a little summery.  As I was putting it together I decided to actually look at the directions.  Ha, ha, ha, the joke was on me.  That front band that I found wonky and uncooperative.....not a front band at all, silly girl, but a facing.  Trust me, you do not want to try to turn a facing into a front band no matter how good your skills are.  
Correctly sewn version of Vogue 8819
Now I like this pattern so much that I just made a second one last week.  It is a transitional weather time of year when a light third layer is perfect over a sleeveless top and pants.  Both the stripe version and the bright splashy one are from Fabric Mart and I like how this pattern uses bias and stripes to make something a little more interesting than your standard long knit cardigan pattern.  I made a size S at the shoulders and neck, from the armscye a M, shortened the top section so that the seam would not hit me at my tummy and added an inch to the bicep in the sleeve.  I might consider doing a FBA on future versions.  
Vogue 8819 with chevron

After I made the black and white stripe one for our trip I saw my mistake.  Yes, the stripes are on the bias but they don't chevron across the cardigan front like I wanted them to.  Of course I was in a hurry when I was sewing it and it doesn't scream homemade but I was careful when I cut out the brighter version last week and put arrows all over the pieces and cut them single layered to keep my head clear.  I love color, texture and design but times like that you can understand why high school geometry was such a challenge for me.  
Love the back detail

Making sure those stripes fall where I want them to this time.

Oh, yes, I bet you want to see the wonky one from 2013 so here's the post.   Wrong version of Vogue 8819   Love the rayon knit since it feels like wearing pajamas but it makes me laugh when I see it.  Yes, a little knowledge and experience can be a dangerous thing.  I got caught "assuming" and you know how that ends.....
Look, it's a facing not a front band
One more project to post and I believe that will put me up to date.  I am just starting a fall project for a special event and will post my progress.  Until then I will remind myself to at least look at the directions before I start zooming at the sewing machine.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Simplicity 1318, Tabula Rasa and a Tomato Recipe

After a few days of driving rains the ground is saturated and it is time to be weeding and pruning as early autumn is in the air.  After I clean up from that garden work, I have a few new things to wear at this lower humidity transitional time of year.   It is my second favorite season, when I can wear lightweight layers without sticky summer heat or freezing cold temps to limit my choices.  Here are some of the new items in my wardrobe.
Simplicity 1318

Yes, I got interested in the kimono jacket look this summer and am adding a few light and medium weight ones to my wardrobe.  
This one is made from a lightweight silk which I am fairly sure came from Jomar in Pennsylvania which must mean that it is at least ten years old.  It was easy sewing using silk since it pressed nicely which made turning the curved banded edge on the neckline a little easier.  My friend who made her first one from a polyester said that was a bear to do.
Curved faced band on the back edge
I lengthened the front band by 1" and will probably raise the back curve by about two inches on the next one.  I have a rayon one planned and I also think it would sew up nicely in a wool jersey for the winter.

Tabula Rasa jacket from Fit for Art patterns
This next kimono-like jacket is another version of the Tabula Rasa,   Tabula Rasa jacket  lengthened ten inches, using the "summer sleeve" variation which is basically shorter and a little wider below the bicep curve.  I made it up in a very light, almost sheer poly from Joann's that has also been aging for years in my stash.  It was so sheer that I had to be careful with my iron or it would want to melt.  
I like how it goes nicely with a pair of jeans and makes me look dressed but not fussy.  I narrowed the front band by one half of its original width and did a rolled edge on the hems of the sleeve and the jacket.  I'm a size 10 or 12 for most RTW.  I sew up a size small in this pattern, use the front with bust darts and the slightly flared side panel.  I like the loose fitting ("art teacher" style I heard used dismissively by a runway commentator but one I embrace) design and am wearing it with a very used original Burda 2004 twist top....which I need to remake.  That's what I love about sewing.  No mourning when things wear out, just make another one!

I have a friend coming to visit this week so it is time to file away some of those new patterns sitting on the guest room bed then look at the food supply.  I am going to make one of my favorite end of summer treats, this astonishing tomato crostata recipe.  I recommend these two sewing patterns and also trying this recipe with the last of those summer red tomatoes.  



  • 125 grams all-purpose flour (about 1 cup), more for rolling out dough
  • 75 grams fine cornmeal (about 1/2 cup)
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter(1 stick plus 2 tablespoons), cut into small cubes
  • 35 grams grated extra-sharp Cheddar (about 1/2 cup)


  • 1 ½ pounds different-colored tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick (or halved if cherry or grape tomatoes)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher sea salt, plus a pinch
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ bunch fresh thyme sprigs, plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 65 grams extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (about 1 cup)
  •  Black pepper, to taste
  • 1 large egg
  •  Flaky sea salt, like Maldon

  • Nutritional Information


  1. Make the crust: In a food processor, briefly pulse together flour, cornmeal and salt. Add butter and cheese and pulse until mixture forms chickpea-size pieces (3 to 5 one-second pulses). Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, up to 6 tablespoons, pulsing occasionally until mixture is just moist enough to hold together. Form dough into a ball, wrap with plastic and flatten into a disk. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, line a rimmed baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels. Spread out tomato slices in a single layer. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and let sit for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours. 
  3. In a skillet over medium heat, combine vinegar, honey and thyme sprigs and bring to a simmer; let simmer 2 minutes, then transfer to a bowl. Wipe out skillet, then add olive oil and garlic. Cook garlic for 2 to 3 minutes, or until garlic is golden and caramelized. Remove garlic and finely chop. Reserve garlic oil.
  4. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly flour a work surface and rolling pin. Gently roll out dough to a 1/4-inch thickness, dusting with flour if dough is sticking. Transfer dough to baking sheet and return to fridge for another 20 minutes.
  5. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Pat tomatoes dry with paper towels. Brush tomatoes with honey mixture (reserve the thyme sprigs). Leaving a 3-inch border, distribute cheese, garlic and half the chopped thyme leaves on center of crust. Add black pepper to taste, then layer tomatoes in an overlapping pattern, maintaining the 3-inch border. Drizzle garlic oil over tomatoes, sprinkle with remaining thyme leaves and lay the reserved whole thyme sprigs on top. Gently fold crust up around tomatoes, making a 2-inch border. 
  6. In a small bowl, whisk egg and 1 teaspoon water. Using a pastry brush, brush egg wash over crust and sprinkle top of crostata with flaky salt. Bake for about 35 minutes, until pastry is deeply golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.