Saturday, April 18, 2020

Create What You Love

Seven weeks ago I bought this magnetized pin holder when we were just starting our rental month in an adorable house in north Naples, FL.  At that time it seemed like it was an encouraging message to create the things you love.  More than a month later I think it means create the life and world that you love and that's something deeper, more thoughtful and more hopeful.

Eloquent people are writing about quarantine, politics, the anger, fear, sadness, empathy, caring, even the hidden gifts of isolation.  Me, I’m not so full of wisdom at a time like this.  Instead I'm going to share what's happening in my little corner of the world because a few non-sewing friends have asked about masks and many friends are sharing how they are managing social isolation and more ideas are always better.

The masks I've made and donated through local Domesticity Studio Domesticity Studio Baltimore Maryland per local hospital requests have followed a pattern put out by Red Poppy Red Poppy Mask tutorial (version C for hospitals) which I used because the hospital approved it.  But I made some slight variations for the ones I am now making in mini-assembly line.
Hospital donation pile

I struggled for a little while (my powers of concentration are definitely suffering) because I wanted a more streamlined system for making these en masse.  Here's my procedure...yours may differ, of course.

I batch cut out a dozen masks at a time and I use the men's version unless it is for a very small woman or child. For these giveaway masks I don't use elastic...hard to find and hard to wear all day.  Instead I cut 1 inch strips of knit fabric (sewers have knit fabric, non-sewers just cut up an old t-shirt...finally a use for all that wasteful fast fashion) pull the fabric to form a rounded cord.
Fabrics for this batch are cotton shirtings from last summer's enormous haul at Fabric Mart A S___load of Shirting  and cotton batik also from Fabric Mart, both tightly woven premium fabrics. And I have yards of knit fabric in my resource center at any given moment.  

I serge that center seam and the sides although they can be sewn just as easily.  Serging is just quicker and then Mr. Lucky is helpful since he cuts apart the chain stitched pieces.

Then it's back to the sewing machine to assemble.  Turn under the lining side seams for a finished edge. 

Sew the front and lining right sides together along the top ridge and bottom chin area. Trim the seams to be uneven for easy topstitching after turning.
Top of mask seam sewn, trimmed and top intersection trimmed.
Turn mask right side out.  Edgestitch the top seam and the bottom seam to hold the seams in place.  Sew a channel 3/8 along the top of the mask, about three inches on either side of the center seam.  This channel will hold a removable wire so you can seal the top of the mask closely along the bridge of your nose.
Front of mask with edgestitching along top and bottom and 3/8 " channel for wire
Now turn the side seams in by 1/2 inch and stitch down to form a channel for the ties.
You'll notice on the pattern picture above I added a 1/2 more width to the original pattern piece.  Must be my plump squirrel cheeks but I wanted everyone to have more face coverage all the way towards their ears.)
Mask with side seams stitched into 1/2 channel...and optional knit fabric to go in the pocket
Insert knit ties or elastic with a helpful safety pin.

I used two strands of thing floral wire...and only my PAPER scissors to cut the wire

Now learn how to use a face mask properly or you've defeated the purpose.  How to put on and remove a face mask

For sewing friends, this process is almost second nature and many of you are churning out one version of several that are requested.  I'm looking at a few other variations that I'll be making and using in the coming months.  Yes, I think masks will be the new fashion statement for quite awhile and I'm ok with that for your safety, my safety and the safety of all the people working to keep us healthy and fed and clean.  I'll post about those as I start to make more for our household and for friends but here are some links that I think are useful.  
Trend Patterns sew along and pattern
Neoprene mask...but please don't turn it inside out
Custom size masks at Free Sewing

I have worn my mask a few times when I've gone out for my almost daily three or four mile walk and was fairly happy with the result.  The nose wire let it fit my face closely enough that the mask moved when I breathed deeply which I have heard is a sign of a decent seal...note that I'm not a medical person nor do I play one on TV, just want to protect you and me in public places.
The mask did move with breathing and didn't fog my glasses on my walks

But I'm not able to sew these all day long.  It makes me too afraid and especially too angry.  So I did reach a point where I was ready to sew some things for myself.  These two projects were cut out and part of my Florida sewing plans.  Since we packed up early and left town weeks before our rental ran out, I had them ready to pick up and complete in Baltimore.  

Since April has been quite chilly, I appreciated having this Hatchi animal print fabric to make another Pamela's Pattern Draped Front Cardigan. Draped Front Cardigan  

I've had luck in the last year underlining several knits and did it again with this cardigan, underlining the front and back pieces with a thin maybe swimwear lining fabric from Fabric Mart.  I basted them together inside the seam allowances after cutting out both fabrics.  After stitching them as one, just serged to finish but that wasn't even necessary since knits don't ravel.

Hatchi knits are nice but since they are thin they can be a bit "sticky" and having to tug down on a top or cardigan all day is annoying.  The knit underlining just gave it wonderful body and drape and it skims over jeans and leggings.  

Pamela and I were on the same wavelength last year because she just wrote an article about that technique in the #206 December, 2019-January 2020 issue....doesn't that feel like a decade ago already. 

And then it was time to tackle something for the coming warm weather, another Burda 6809, this time in a silky all cotton Tori Richard fabric from Fabric Mart.  

Uneven mitered side hems

Vintage lace seam trim which I found while looking for elastic to use and donate to other mask makers

Why is this girl laughing in the midst of a global pandemic?  While Mr. Lucky was taking this shot and I was holding the mask I made for myself with this coordinated lining, he told me he thought it might have been the bikini bottom I would be wearing this summer.....big needed laughs from all of us, right?

And if you can stand more mask making humor, check this out...

Here's hoping that you are creating what you love.  No, I don't like creating masks but I do like creating what I see in my neighborhood, community, state and world...hope, helpfulness, persistence, compassion, determination, generosity.  Next time let's share how we are distracting ourselves when we can.  

Monday, December 30, 2019

Bucket List Fabrics and Top Nine 2019

2019 is rapidly closing so for my own record (because saving and searching on IG frustrates the heck out of me) are my top nine makes in 2019:

When Mr. Lucky and I thought we were moving two months ago, my heart skipped a beat with the excitement of a bright new big sewing space.  And then it almost stopped when I was faced with the prospect of packing, moving and unpacking all of my sewing supplies, particularly my fabric collection.  The sale didn't go through but on one of my almost daily long walks I contemplated that mountain of the house physically and in my mind mentally.  This "new" house was/is intended to be the next stop before we wind up in senior housing down the road.  We don't need another house but we're looking for one with a few more creature comforts...easier parking, central air everywhere, smaller yard...and more studio space so I can have twice monthly sewing/crafting/creativity salon time with girlfriends.  

So let's say that last move is ten, twelve, fifteen or more years away...if I continue to be so lucky.  What are the special fabrics I have that I would like to make sure I get to sew and wear during that time?  What are my bucket list fashion fabrics?  I gave myself an arbitrary number of 20...and an arbitrary time of five years.  What are twenty of my most precious (for whatever reason) fabrics that I want to sew and wear in the next five years?

If you don't stash or have a full resource center then that question may be a moot one.  If you are decades younger then it too won't resonate.  If you haven't been shopping at Fabric Mart for a quarter of a century then your pile stash collection is probably smaller.  But among my sewing pals it's a thoughtful concept nonetheless.

So here are my Bucket List fabrics from November musings.  Most of these are silks or woolens and I have ideas in my mind but am not committing to any particular projects yet.  Even as I culled these photos some are more precious to me than others for various reasons and you may feel the same about particular fabrics. Picture heavy, beware.  In no particular order:

Wool herringbone tweed from the Sewing Bee Expo in London, 2017
Fabric Mart tweed with color I love
Fabric Mart silk rayon velvet...used in a jacket earlier this month, hooray
Fabric Mart boucle with green and sand, my colors for sure
From forever ago at the PA Fabric Outlet in Baltimore, narrow woolen yardage that looks like Harris Tweed
From Michael's Fabrics in Baltimore my most expensive piece and probably a Linton boucle
Silk from Misan in London
From Fabric Mart a soft woolen jacquard
From Mood a two tone stretch woven
Fabric Mart, gold snakeskin print on denim
Sweater knit, Fabric Mart
Maybe the second oldest piece in this collection, a boucle from Louise Cutting
Silk, Fabric Mart
Silk, Fabric Mart
Silk, Fabric Mart
Liberty silk, Goldhawk Road shop, London
Silk, rayon burnout, Fabric Mart

Metallic thread boucle, Fabric Mart
Silk, Fabric Mart
Wool double knit, Misan, London
Watch this space to see what the remaining 19 become.  Do you have bucket list fabrics?  

PS 2019 is rapidly closing so for my own record (because saving and teaching on IG frustrates the heck out of me) are my top nine makes in 2019:

Vogue 1440, Sewing Workshop Frankie Shirt, Banded Front Cardigan Pamela's Patterns, Jalie Elenore jeans done as pool pants, Burda 7585 and Vogue 7155 mashup, Vogue 8813, Butterick 6244, Burda 3018, Self-drafted top

Friday, December 27, 2019

Holiday Wishes and Holiday Sewing

It's still the holiday season at our house so I like to think that this post isn't later than planned but is just part of the festivities in and out of my sewing room.  

Mr. Lucky and I have had an interesting last two months because of something that didn't happen, not something that did.  After many visits and long discussions, we made an offer on a house in late October.  I won't bore you with real estate blow by blow (this is a sewing blog after all) but after two weeks the sale did not go through...although we were already acting like it would, thinking about furniture, making dump trips from our back shed, tackling fabric stuff in the attic, and deciding what would go with us and what would go elsewhere.  We are fortunate that right now in our lives we could buy a "next house" and then put ours up for sale so at least we weren't caught in a no home dilemma when the seller reneged on the contract.  Long intro to say that I did do some holiday sewing but it fell into the quick and mostly easy fashion version.  Thank goodness for tried and true patterns that I know will work.  It wasn't very exciting but it did mean I had several new outfits for the round of festivities in the last six weeks.

TNT number 1 must be these Jalie #3461 Elenore Pull on Jeans. Jalie Elenore Jeans I streamline them even more by eliminating the faux front pockets and zipper since I haven't tucked a top into my jeans since the 80's.  These are two versions from Fabric Mart stretch poly charmeuse. They aren't warm but I loved the colors and a mild so far two months meant they served their purpose and can now retire.  Hmmm, maybe I'll just pack them away with the autumn and Christmas decorations.
Jalie Elenore Pull on Jeans
Jalie Elenore Pull On jeans
Another quick and easy pattern is Pamela's Patterns Magic Pencil Skirt. Pencil Skirt When we were six month snowbirds in Florida six plus years back I made these by the dozen.  This version is Fabric Mart stretch lace with sequins where I used the finished edge for my hem. 
 I think the magic happened that night when I wore it dancing for several hours which was fabulous after that terrible Grade 3 sprained ankle in late summer and physical therapy all fall.  And the other magic was getting an unsolicited compliment which you know sewists love to hear.

We usually dance to this marvelous Maryland band, Mood Swings, in outdoor venues on concrete but the Dec. Holly Ball has become a new tradition and the dance floor is a dream.    
Mood Swings sets the holiday mood

I have several tank patterns that are my go to answer for adding a new color or in this case texture to an outfit.  This is a Vogue 8699 shoulder princess seam tank that I made in a stretchy I think nylon/poly textured piece from Fabric Mart with a thin black knit lining.  I used the selvedge as piping along the neckline and I'm happy with how it took the Banded Front Cardigan Banded Front Cardigan also from Pamela's Patterns from nice to nicer.  
Vogue 8699,  Princess shoulder seams front and and back

Selvedge as front binding

Hmmm, animal print with animal print but my demure version
The last project for winter parties was inspired by a treasured piece of fabric.  As part of that anticipated house move I started tackling the enormous amount of fabric I have in my resource center.  I've spent many hours since that failed sale back in the resource center labeling and organizing the fabrics that I love and want to use and sending the other pieces on to their next homes.  More about that in an upcoming post or two.  
I reached deep into a closet for this paisley silk rayon velvet from Fabric Mart which must be at least ten years old and is part of a collection of silk velvets that I have been avoiding.  I've always heard how hard it is to sew, how much basting is needed, how maybe I should use spray adhesive.  I watched videos from Linda Lee and Kenneth King  on Bluprint (formerly Craftsy.)  I read a fabulous tutorial on the Emmaonesock site by the oh so talented Kathryn Brenne  Silk velvet Tutorial by Kathryn Brenne  I read and fretted and worried and finally sat down with a scrap of fabric.  I attached the HP plate (straight stitch plate) to my Janome 9400, new to me last Christmas, and then the narrow HP2 foot which is basically a narrow straight stitch walking foot.  When I started the sew I was shocked.  My machine treated that silk rayon velvet just like any other woven fabric.  Minimal slippage or bunching.  Hooray, this jacket project was going to be  a lot easier than I had ever anticipated.

I wanted a loose, flowing type of jacket for casual holiday parties.  I had worn a Fit for Art jacket recently and got several compliments so decided to duplicate the swing panel version with this fabric.  Tabula Rasa Swing Variations by Fit for Art  
Ok, sewing machine ready.  Pattern tested and ready.  Big velvet decision:  which way to place the nap?  Most of the time the nap on velvet is placed so that when wearing it you brush downward for a smooth feel.  But when I draped the fabric over my dress form, I liked the side where the nap headed up because the colors were deeper and richer.
In this photo I selected the right side, not the left.  The left was brighter and more detailed but I wanted this jacket for night time wear so went with the right side.  You might decide differently and isn't that the fun part of sewing your own clothes!
For the lining I used washed silk charmeuse from Fabric Mart.  I loved Kathryn Brenne's silk jacket which she underlined in silk organza and then lined but I was doing this too last minute to even consider that option.  

I did lose some of the burn out effect by using the lining on this particular fabric but this time of year I am always cold so I did enjoy that charmeuse lining the evening of the party.  It also made it slide nicely over my bottom layer.  Some of those other burn outs in my resource center will be just single layers worn over a tank top. 
For my final decision I did turn the jacket band with the more contrasting velvet design.  And wow, silk velvet around your neck feels wonderful.
Final evaluation:  I liked it, it was cozy and fun but I'm still looking for something kimono like with flow but not baggy and shapeless.  

Off to eat, drink and enjoy another holiday gathering.  
Here's hoping that your holidays have been merry and bright.  Next post I'll let you peer into that "resource center."