Happy Equinox! EGA Fall Scissors Case

Happy Equinox!

It’s finally fall, my favorite season and I’m celebrating with a fall scissors case. This scissors case, was a EGA chapter project at our September meeting using an EGA petit project pattern.

Orange isn’t really my color, but this pumpkin color was too good to pass up for a scissors case.  Unfortunately, the sage green 1/8″ satin ribbon I wanted wasn’t in my stash or at Jo Ann’s.  Dark brown will do though.  The matching pumpkin suedecloth above was in the remnants bin and will be perfect as lining.

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Considering Style Elements: 10 Tips

Quilting cotton and old sheets are where so many of us begin our garment sewing. Seeing the beautiful creations on Instagram, Facebook, Blogs, etc. We pick up a pattern and sew until we are tempted by something that needs to stretch or drape. Our fabric and pattern use and knowledge expand and we realize that style is our next hurdle.

Is this your story? When style isn’t available to you, why consider it? Maybe you were always interested in fashion and wanted to up your game from ready-to-wear, rather than having been unable to find ready-to-wear? Either way there comes a point when sewing really opens up the world of fashion to you, whether it is runway fashion or simple everyday options, suddenly all of the possibilities are there and you need to know what looks good on you and that raising/lowering the waistline or hem 2″ will make all the difference for your finished garment.

There are so many books and blogs that offer guidance, but many still want you to fit into a standard fashion box. Fitting the elements of different styles together is daunting particularly when you can’t try things on. I love a cardigan, blouse and skirt combination-in theory, but I need to find the right combination. Are there even cardigans that look good on a large bust? When RTW doesn’t offer tops that come anywhere near fitting, how do you efficiently test options?

This is something that I’ve been struggling with. So far, I’ve done the easy things, like hem lengths, by simply making long muslins and adjusting hem lengths while looking in the mirror until I find some I like, which gives me a pretty good idea how long I like my skirt, dresses and tops. For a while during a period when I wasn’t up to sewing, time was limited and I really needed clothes to wear, I shopped EShakti.com trying different necklines, sleeves and hemlines on dresses and later altering things to be more to my taste.

Another option I hope to work on soon is interchangeable parts. The new sleeve patterns available for Simplicity patterns offer the opportunity to make a single bodice, do the fitting and alterations just once then change the sleeves out to see how each looks. Another pattern that I will be using for this is New Look 6567 which is a woven dress pattern with 4 neckline options. Looking at the pattern it seems like it could be mocked up as a sleeveless bodice (shortened from dress to top), with each of the four neckline options all in muslin. It might even be possible to just cut the front panel and pin it to your bra straps to get a general idea of the neckline without having to sew anything. That would allow you to decide if any of them don’t suit at all and shouldn’t be given further consideration, possibly before doing any fitting or alterations.

I’ve realized a few things along the way. Most people don’t do fashion…at all. They do cookie cutter workplace, cookie cutter student or cookie cutter SAHM. As RTW shoppers they don’t have a choice, but what people like are often styles that aren’t readily available in most areas. Finding something vintage inspired where I live is unlikely. A little boho maybe because even Walmart recognizes that long and flowy fits more people (not that it looks good on everyone). Those trendy LulaRoe leggings are trendy because they are comfortable an less boring than the available alternatives. Moving your thinking from what is to what could be is where clothing meets fashion and sewing meets design. This is where you choose your style. Maybe this has been obvious to everyone else, but it did take me decades to realize that pants aren’t for me.

Having read several books and blogs about style and wardrobe creation I’ve learned that a lot of what is written isn’t useful, but that a little guidance can go a long way. These are some of the things that I’m finding helpful.

1. Have a uniform. However you want to define that. Skirt and a blouse, jeans and a tee, all black and white, power suits.

2. Have a color palette. Try it with darker and lighter variations for seasonal changes.

3. Choose a few silhouettes that work for you.

4. Look in the mirror and take pictures.

5. Decide what your final goal is. How many garments/outfits do you want? How many do you need?

6. Check to see if your makes are in line with the style you want.

7. Check to see if the style you want suits you.

8. Pay attention to you. That top that looked great on you in fall looks terrible in spring? Did your coloring change? Does your palette need to change with it?

9. Transitional pieces and layering pieces may be the most valuable pieces you can make. Get these right and you’ll have more time to perfect single season pieces.

10. Learn your elements. Necklines, hemlines, sleeves, colors. You don’t need to define your style. You can refine your style instead. Copying a “style” may not get you where you need to be. It won’t tell you how to integrate more than one style. Instead, find what suits you, what makes you happy and what makes you feel good. Then practice putting those elements together to create your style.

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Festival Season

Rain and more rain means that summer isn’t summery and fall is a bit of a mess. It means canceled plans and new opportunities. Cancelled plans do have their upsides. While getting to camp has been nigh impossible, getting to fiber festivals has suddenly become possible.

Each of the last two weekends we’ve been able to take the kids to a fiber festival, give them a budget and see what they choose. It has been interesting. A plushie alpaca (made with real alpaca fiber), finger puppets, an ornament, beads, yarn and fibers have been carefully selected to come home with us.

The kids tell me fiber festivals are cooler than renaissance faires. After all they get to pet the animals. The vendors have been patient, supportive, kind and informative. Sometimes they are also ridiculously generous. At the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival each child was gifted a bag of angora fiber. They have been petting them and making bunny demands ever since. Spinning plans are mentioned too, but so far yesterday’s booty is still being piled up and cooed over.

two Smaugs and their treasures

As for me, I have a dream that looks like this:

At least the finished prep stage does. Eventually it will hopefully become a beautifully textured shawl. My purchases were an unwashed teaswater fleece, used wool cards and a weaving needle.  I didn’t plan to buy an entire fleece, but it’s probably what I’ll need for the project and elsewise locks were only sold in small amounts and white was surprisingly hard to find.  Such scarcity is probably due to the fact that it can more easily be dyed and thus is used more often than darker locks.  This project may be the work of one or several years as there are many new skills (or at least unpracticed skills) involved in this project.  I think it marks a beginning for me as I start to spin with intent.  Not just to keep my hands busy and to make pretty yarn, but to purchase a specific fiber with the end product and journey already in mind.

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So Much for Pictures

I actually finished this in August with time to spare.  Unfortunately, not with time and weather for photos.  Unbelievable that there are only 4 months to go.

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See the Sparkles?


My first skein of drop spindle spun mill ends is 382.5 yds of two ply.  Wheel plying sure is a treat.  It remains unfinished because I suspect it will be used for weaving and would thus be better washed after it is worked to full the project.  (Is this the right way to phrase it in weaving?) And I’ve already plied about half of another jumbo flyer full too.  You can tell that some of that was spun at cub scouts or other non-fiber meetings as it is somewhat more irregular.

A quick word on the Ashford Traveller Jumbo Flyer.  It comes with new maidens and a jumbo bobbin.  The quality of the flyer and bobbin isn’t as nice as the original bobbin and flyer (clearly plywood).  The bobbin is precisely the size of the space between the flyer and maiden without any room for it to really move well or to easily install it.  This makes taking it on and off a bit more of a struggle.  Getting yarn to feed onto it is also harder than the original.  Also, be forewarned the flyer has only 2 speeds and having set the drive band to one I have been unable to adjust the mother of all so that I can change to the other.  Seeing as that I set it to the slower speed to be easier for my son that means it takes longer to ply on the jumbo flyer than the original too.  These feel like serious drawbacks to me, but it is nice to be able to put so much on a single bobbin particularly when I have been saving balls and balls to ply.

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I Put It Somewhere Safe

Skipping Ahead in the Queue

Sometimes it’s two a.m. and I just need to distract myself for a while so that I can get back to sleep.  Or I remember there is an email I meant to send or read, just something to get out of my head.  This time I opened Instagram and found my swimsuit staring back at me from the Curvy Sewing Collectives #CurvyYearofSewing post with an @loganstitches (I’ve probably never mentioned, but I finally joined Instagram).  As I’m still learning the app I thought, wow did they tag everyone and assumed there were more pictures to scroll, but clicking readmore didn’t bring that up and I discovered that having not read the specifics for ages brings surprises like winning a prize! I may not have mentioned the CSC in a while, but it is an amazing group, which is my main source of pattern recommendations, fitting tutorials and on the Facebook group I know I can always ask questions and simply look at questions others have asked to help me through my projects. I highly recommend this wonderfully inclusive, helpful and knowledgeable group.  My next project was going to fit into the September/October Shirt or Shirtdress theme for the #CurvyYearofSewing.

It is time for the seasonal clean up and change over in the sewing room. Having just wrapped up a number of projects for my family, the next item on my #makenine2018 was supposed to get traced out. Then maybe a few things would get tossed in the new purple totes that I picked up to help curtail the fabric mess. Summer fabrics for projects I didn’t get to mostly. Only before I started the last batch of dresses for A, I cleaned up some; inventorying and putting away patterns and sorting some books. Now I can’t find Simplicity 1692. The sleeve pattern I want to use with it is still on the cutting table, but why bother with that if I can’t find the pattern. Vague memories of thinking of putting something away somewhere and thinking-‘don’t you’ll never find it again-No it’ll be fine you’ll find it as soon as you start’-haunt me. Was that my pattern. Did my pattern travel somewhere with thoughts of reading the directions? Is it under one of the many piles? I’m 85% certain it was that something and that if I just buy another copy and try to put it away I’ll find it waiting for me where ever I decide to put the new one, but maybe it’s just on walkabout in the house. I’ve checked and rechecked, but with the kids home for August things in my corners have gotten out of hand and they are the last to get tidied again.

On the plus side, the pattern isn’t there to distract me from clean up. I’ve been tucking away stray fabrics, adding inventory notes for which pattern things were meant to go with and finally doing some of the overwhelming number of alterations that piled up after Me Made May. I’d forgotten about some of the alterations. Only a few minutes each and 5 items have already made it back into the closet, looking better and more useful than ever. Perhaps I’ll just keep going with alterations, upcycling and maybe even the two unfinished quilts sitting in the sewing room until the pattern turns up. It isn’t an ideal plan as far as completing my make nine, but it certainly is cleaning things out and finishing things up. I’m not behind yet. Though I do have one embroidery project haunting me.

Do you ever lose things in “safe places”. I’m somewhat notorious for it. Things are either catalogued and stored or in WIP/to make piles. If they are just put away during clean up they get lost.

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Renfaire Wear

We took the kids to their first Renaissance Festival and doing it up right we went in costume.  August has been crazy.  Really crazy.  We had swim lessons, started soccer and cub scouts and did our annual college reunion camping trip, which had to be done at an alternative venue due to flooding in our town/region.  Then came the second (much worse) round of flooding in our town.   We were very lucky to be affected only indirectly. Most of main street closed for a  week, including the hardware store and our mechanic will be closed for a month, which leaves us with 2 vehicles in need of oil changes and inspections, one of which also needs tires and breaks.  Everything is taking longer, because there is only one route from one side of town to the other from north to south and two from south to north, unless you go to the next town over.  Plus, my sister-in-law is here from Germany with her girls for a couple of weeks and we are gearing up for the start of school in just under a week.  Oh and the day after flood two we A had to have an emergency trip to the doctor.  Oh and due to all of the things we have going on the kids wouldn’t be in daycare for a couple of weeks, which turned into 3 weeks.  All of this to tell you that I’m behind in my sewing and knew I wouldn’t be making costumes for everyone.

A’s costume was purchased online, but the corresponding costume for O wasn’t available.  My dear husband has the linen shirt I made him last time we went to a renfaire (8 or 9 years ago), but the linen while lovely, is too heavy for August heat. I still have an Arwen dress made for WorldCon ’05.  Not ideal for a renfaire (and possibly really hot), but it is a garment that could use more wear.  (If you’re curious my kids think it is a witch dress.  They clearly watch to many shows with witch protagonists.)

A new shirt in a light cotton/linen blend from Jo Ann’s for each of my guys was in order and might be fit around the expected crazy.  Something for me would take to much fitting time.  Butterick 5656 to the rescue.  Only when chaos happened and I realized that I have three embroidery projects to do before September, an email also came to let me know that the boy’s costume was now available.  Click.  Click.  One shirt.  That is all that I managed and while my husband thinks it fits fine and is pretty awesome.  I wish there had been time to sew a muslin, but since I finished the shirt with extra early mornings and with only 1 day to spare it’ll have to do.

The pattern was easy enough.  Some small fitting issues are painfully apparent. The black marks are pretty much where a well fitted shoulder seam would have been. I don’t like what seem to be drop shoulders.  Perhaps, they are better for the accompanying doublet (which I didn’t make)?  They shoulder seams also sit too far back.  The fit the same on my father-in-law when I had him try it on, but their builds may be more similar than they seem.  The gathering along the back collar also is a bit bulky and doesn’t sit as well as I’d like.  End value, I don’t know if I’d recommend this or not.  I think I like the other pattern better (Simplicity Celtic Costume 8913), simply because it doesn’t have a button collar or sleeves, which would be more comfortable for my husband.

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