Alternative Holiday

I’ve been taking time off from the blog to catch up on all of the things. One of the things I’ve been trying to catch up on is cleaning out myriad stuff. My children in particular have a lot of stuff. Clothes for their rapid growth for each season, toys covering pre-school to grade 2, sensory and science activities, plus piles and piles of books. Any parent of small children will be familiar with the rapid growth and learning phases tiny people go through and the amounts of stuff that can accumulate.

The other side of this coin is what to do about holidays and birthdays where stuff accumulates very quickly and where time can be very limited. We have occasionally gone from cooking to opening presents to cooking to eating to opening presents to cleaning up, without really having time to relax and enjoy. It is not always this way, but we’ve also found that some presents are meant to be used or enjoyed during the cold months, which is hard to do when they must wait through December.

This year we are trying something new. One gift each week of December until winter solstice when they will have the remainder of the presents from us (on the closest Saturday) and gifts from friends, relatives and Santa on the 25th. These early gifts will largely be experiences, but the first will be matching rainbow pajamas.

It will help to spread the holiday season. Fewer material gifts will be given and those that are will be given time to be appreciated. Of course having only recently come up with this idea we’ll see if I can get it all together in time.

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Deep Purple Alpaca Blend


Spun, plied and still waiting to be washed. This 1 lb. skein of wool/alpaca/silk is soft and thick.  My first wheel spun, wheel plied yarn turned out well. It’s part of a gift.  Do you gift your handspun? How much do you think makes a good gift? I always want there to be enough for something to be made from it.

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Almost There


The simplicity of indie patterns sometimes lulls me into a false sense of security.  Not because they are simplistic, but just because I expect a pattern or pattern variations that go together.  Simplicity 1692 is not like that.  Views A and B are largely unrelated to views C and D.  A and B are longer and the gathering makes the neckline of A and B far wider and the sides, can’t be matched as views A and B are also just a bit wider.  All of that is before you get to the differences between cut on sleeves and set in sleeves.  A and B have a 4 tuck front and 4 tuck back waist/hip area.  That is pretty much the end of what they have in common with C and D.  This disappointingly means that each pair must be treated as a unique garment in terms of fitting and alterations, requiring twice as many muslins and twice as much prep work.  In case you were wondering no the backs do not match either.  The shoulders are quite different.


(The fun thing about French seams is that you can just sew on the inside of the garment test it out inside out and then turn it right side out when you have it the way you want it and finish the seam.)

As I write I’m sitting in a recliner resting my foot as I have Achilles tendonitis.  I’m hoping it will go away ASAP, but need to refrain from activities like wheel spinning and machine sewing for a while.   I also need to avoid standing on it for long periods, which means that even doing large amounts of alterations or cutting is out.  This may throw off my overall sewing goals for the year, but better to be cautious for a little while than have the problem long term.  Still I have  repeatedly muslined the pattern for views C and D.  This took so many more muslins than any, but my earliest makes.  Probably 4 and even then I was taking in 6 or 8 inches at each side and don’t have the fit in the chest quite right.  Likely I should go back to a smaller size and start the process over again.  Silly ease in Big 4 patterns.


Having done so many muslins meant my first wearable muslin wasn’t finished until the end of September.  As I approached making it, I realized I didn’t want to use the lovely vintage poppy linen as it was a little small and would need piecing and likely wouldn’t get worn since I’m not very fond of patterned tops.   The mustard linen was out too as that is going to be made from view A/B.  Likewise the black and white floral satin.  That left the aqua floral, which again would be patterned and which seemed to tell me it too wanted sleeves since there was enough fabric and fall is already here.  What to do?  I began to look through my stash in hopes of finding something I wouldn’t mind destroying if it went poorly (given I’d created at least three muslins from Swedish tracing paper) and wouldn’t mind wearing if it went well.  In the process I came across a denim look chambray dress I’d thrifted with the intention of taking it in.  Realizing I hadn’t altered it because I wouldn’t wear it I swiped the dress for muslin fabric.  The lower portion of the button placket serves as a design element down the back of the top.  My invisible zipper came out a little bit off.  All of the hems were done with my rolled hem foot rather than folding and folding again.  This was my first go at fabric covered buttons and I have to say they were a breeze.  The button loops are a great feature, so much nicer than button holes that can stretch and gape.


The top came out fairly well, though it may need a sway back adjustment and possibly still something more for a hollow chest.  The bulge of fabric may be a problem that needs to be fixed as well or just the result of the gathering apron I’d been wearing just before these pictures were taken.  I should have used the inside of the fabric rather than the outside as the color is more even, which I prefer to the distressed look of the right side of the fabric. The pattern may be good.  I’m still not sold on it.  A new “traced” version with the sides of my altered version, the neckline from C/D and then the armscythes from A/B tweaked onto it sits on the table waiting.  I sort of expect bad things, but sometimes when I do these crazy changes it works out alright.  A proper muslin will tell, but…I can’t sew..


I’m not sure if this will have to pass for number eight of my #2018makenine or if I’ll be able to make another version.  We’ll see.

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Modern Folk Embroidery sal 2018 Part 9

Just wanted to share the latest on my quakers seasons sampler.  This really is quite doable if you aren’t trying to stitch other deadline projects at the same time, which is what I wanted it to be.  A fun beautiful stitch with time to spare to work on WIPs.   August was a bit later than I’d expected it to run before I got caught up and September was trying to get another unexpected and, as yet unshared project, finished as it was behind schedule.  Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen again soon.  October seems like a sweet spot with the kids settling into the new fall schedule and 8 of my make nine finished, and holiday projects not yet pressing and my stitching projects caught up.   Here’s hoping crafting stays fun and doesn’t get stressful again.

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Vintage Finds: Fabrics

Found these lovelies at a local Salvation army after a drop off. The tiny rosebuds has a stain at one edge, which should be easy to cut around.  The only stain or problem in the bunch.  The largest is the stripe/floral linen which is about 3 1/2 yards and cost $1.99.  The smallest is probably a fat 1/2 yard, which was 49 cents. I wonder what they will become.  Failing all else, they’d make lovely pocket linings.

A couldn’t resist the bunnies and I couldn’t resist the florals.

My favorite is this piece of blue and purple floral. It is relatively small, but big enough for an apron for me or maybe a dress for A.

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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 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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