Stitches

Finishing A Little Something

Just in time for the end of summer, I finished my very whimsical little embroidery project.

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I loved everything about this project.
The design.
The colors.
The stitching.
The whimsy and charm.
The getting back to my crafting "roots" as an embroiderer. 

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I think what I loved the MOST about this project . . . was just working without a net. Not really following directions. Just kind of . . . free-forming it to see what would happen IF.

I loved that.

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This little project awakened my desire to keep embroidering; to do MORE of this kind of thing.
So stay tuned! (Because now I'm kind of inspired.)

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And how about you? What are you making these days?

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PS - For details about this sampler, you can read this post from earlier in the summer when I talk on and on about it.


Finding Some Whimsy

Well. First I've just got to thank you all for your kind words and support . . . after I spilled the beans about my RA flare yesterday. I got a little teary more than once, reading your comments and emails. I should know by now to trust in the support and comfort of this crafty, book-loving, bloggy community, but . . . wow. When you feel the love here, well. It really does just kind of knock you over a little bit. So thank you. Thank you so very much.

Let's get back to "pretty" though now, shall we?

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Way back in January, as I was setting my "intentions" and what-not for the year ahead, I claimed that I wanted "more whimsy" and "less stodginess" in my life this year. What did I mean by that? What was I going for there? I don't exactly know. But I think it probably had to do with the darkness and slogginess of 2020, and wanting to break free in this new year.

Besides. It's kind of fun to seek out whimsy in the world. (And to write off anything that smacks of stodginess.)

Anyway. I have been following Rebecca Ringquist, the artist behind Dropcloth Samplers, for a while on Instagram. I'm always charmed by her embroidery samplers! She creates designs that resemble very artsy doodles that are engaging and accessible, but she doesn't assign colors or stitches (except, of course, in her stitch-teaching kind of samplers). It's kind of like . . . she's created "coloring books" for embroiderers! And let's just say they most certainly fall in the Whimsical Camp.

I've spent many a moment dreaming about which of Rebecca's samplers I might order for myself . . . someday. Embroidery is really my "first craft." You may remember my story when, as a 5-year-old, my Great Grandma Strom patiently taught me the outline stitch by writing my name on a piece of scrap fabric and allowing me to practice the stitches while she sat nearby. (Which I stitched right to the little skirt I was wearing. Ah, the lessons we learn.)

I never did decide on a sampler to order from Rebecca, though . . . until this summer when she introduced her new Picnic Sampler. I was hooked from the first time I saw it fly across my Instagram feed! It lit up every part of my stitching brain: Color! Flowers! Gingham! Summer! And . . . it just drips charm and whimsy . . . with not even a slight hint of stodginess. 

It was an immediate "add to cart" moment.

And now I look forward to grabbing my little sampler for "patio time" with Tom in the evenings before dinner. It's a lovely way to end the day. (And except for my worst RA days, I usually can manage at least some limited stitching time.) (Thank goodness.)

I love being able to just . . . "color" my sampler with embroidery thread and stitches . . . in my totally free-form, fill-in-the-blanks way. (I'll bet this brings an eye-twitch to those of you who prefer carefully charted designs and floss suggestions. Each to her own, I say! Embrace your preferences!)

It's a lot of fun. I love picking it up and stitching a bit each day.

DEFINITE whimsy, here.
(And so far, I've avoided stitching the sampler to anything I'm wearing, so BONUS . . . )

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How about you? What are you making this week?

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Do check out other Unraveled posts today over at Kat's!

 


They Say

. . . that laughter is the best medicine, right? Well. Here's a little sewing project "comic strip" for you . . . 

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I have been dreaming of a pair of Sew House Seven's Burnside Bibs for a couple of years now. I just love the look of them . . . That easy-breezy, kinda beachy, pants-as-apron look. Comfy. But sort of fashion-y, too. Definitely "on trend." And there are photos of them all over the place. Sewing blogs. Instagram. It is a very popular pattern, and the bibs look great on everyone, every body.

FROM THE FRONT.

The back view has always tripped me up and kept me from actually making a pair. Because, really. Who is flattered by a big, old gathered butt??? Who is comfortable always messing with long, criss-crossing ties??? That's a whole lotta . . . fuss . . . back there. And rarely does anyone show photos of their Burnside Bibs FROM THE BACK.

And now we know why!

I really do love the look (from the front). And as I wore them around the house over the weekend (to see if the gathers might "settle" with wear) (they did not), I can attest to their comfort. Seriously . . . pants-as-apron. But that back-tie-gathered-butt? It's tragic.  (Tom, always so supportive of my efforts, thought I had made some big mistake. He commented that they looked "awfully bunchy.")

I don't think there's really anything to be done about them at this point. I've thrown them in the washer and dryer three times so far -- hoping to soften them up and "calm" the gathers. It's working somewhat . . . maybe? But I think that back view is just a bridge too far for me, and I know I can't wear these bibs without constantly fussing with those gathers.

I will point out that the pattern includes a dart-and-zipper option, which might resolve some of the gathering, and could potentially reduce some of that goofy "poofiness" under the belt loops. I thought about it long and hard before deciding to forego the zipper option -- mostly because the gathering is STILL pretty extreme, even with a zipper and darts. But it may make enough difference that the bibs would fit better in back.

(Not these, of course, because too late now.)
(But for any future Burnside Bibs I may attempt.)
(Which is not likely, though.)
(Just sayin).

If nothing else, they're good for a laugh.


Leisurely Pursuits

In the summer, I get busy in my garden, and with the back-and-forth of going up north . . . and my "making" slows way down. And . . . I'm really just fine with that! Stitching, after all, is just one - of many - leisurely pursuits for me.

But I actually finished something recently. Way back in May, you might remember I showed you this photo . . . 

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I was going to stitch up this top.
Months ago, now.

Finally stitched it up last weekend!

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Now . . . I don't always like to wear woven tops or shirts. (I prefer stretchy knits and t-shirts for comfort and easy movement.) But I'm gonna tell you, this Remy Raglan pattern has kinda changed my thinking. When I got finished sewing, I did a try-on . . . and ended up wearing the shirt all day long! In total comfort and ease. (See above.)

Now I'm plotting and scheming to make more!

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(Still needs a button.)

This pattern is (fairly) quick to make (I always hesitate to make that statement, because I'm an experienced seamstress and your mileage may vary). The instructions are clear. And there are some nifty techniques that really finish this shirt off "professionally" (all the seams are French seams, for example). Also . . . the possibilities for "playing around" with this design are endless. (Just take a look at the #remyraglan hashtag on Instagram for some true inspiration.)

Anyway. Great outcome for this top! I'm glad I finally made the time to stitch it up.

In knitting news . . . well. I'm still plugging along with the same old thing

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Slow Leisurely progress is progress all the same.

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How about you? What are you making this summer?


No Stopping Me Now

So after the overalls . . . I've kinda gotten back into the sewing thing. (I lost all my sewing mojo last year after sewing all those masks.)

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This week, I stitched up something that's been on my radar for a couple of year now . . . Meg McElwee's Hinterland Dress. I think it would be a great casual dress for summer (especially the sleeveless version), and I have a very nice piece of gingham linen that might work really well sewn up in this pattern. But . . . I didn't want to chance it with that nice linen right off the bat.

So . . . I sewed a "gauge swatch." In Sewing World, this is called a "muslin." (Or a "toile" if you want to sound European . . . or a little bougie.) Basically, sewing a muslin means you sew something up (or a part of something) in a fabric you don't care much about in order to see if you like the fit or need to make some adjustments. The goal - just like with gauge swatching in knitting - is that you end up with a well-fitting garment that you actually like and can wear when you're finished. If you're lucky, and things all turn out, you might end up with a "wearable muslin" . . . meaning you can actually wear your test-garment, too. (Unlike knitting . . . if you're not happy with the finished result you've sewn, you don't have the option of ripping out the yarn and re-using it for another project. Once you've cut it out and sewn it up? It's hard to repurpose.)

Anyway. I'm never really sure about what size to make when I'm sewing. I have broad shoulders . . . and no boobs . . . so a lot of times the fit is off and the darts end up in the wrong place. So I cut out just the bodice pieces of the Hinterland Dress to see how it would come together. It worked, so I cut out the facing and the sleeves and added those. Still good. So I cut out the front bands and tried them. Still good. So I cut out the pockets and the skirt. I also added the optional ties, because things were looking pretty . . . roomy.

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Checking the fit . . . 

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I could've gotten away with making this at least one size smaller, maybe two. Let's just say . . . I'm happy I added the ties. I definitely got a "wearable muslin" out of the process. And I think it'll look a lot better once it's had a chance to loosen up a bit after a few rounds in the washer and dryer. (Also when I'm not wearing it on top of workout clothes.)

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(And, yep. There's a wonky buttonhole in there. I got an eye twitch for a minute there, thinking about ripping it out and re-doing. But then I reminded myself . . . muslin! . . . and just let it go.)

Anyway. I think I'm ready to cut into that nice piece of linen now, and make another. Smaller size. Sleeveless.

But, first . . . this!

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There's no stopping me now.

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How about you? What are you making these days?


The Big Hang Up

Let's get back to my green overalls, shall we?

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Because they've been essentially finished for a couple of weeks now.
But not technically finished.
And certainly not wearable yet.

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What's the Big Hang Up, you ask?

Well. I can tell you it wasn't attempting a complicated, British pattern (written in English, sure, but I'm just gonna say that British-English and American-English are not the same, and there are slight - but key - differences in phrasing and nomenclature when it comes to sewing instructions).

And the instructions using only metric measurements didn't throw me at all (because I just used my metric measuring tools).

It wasn't the level of detail in the making. And it wasn't the topstitching (I secretly love topstitching).

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It wasn't the fact that I slipped up with my seam ripper and made a little slice in the bibs. (After running them through 4 or 5 wash/dry cycles to soften up the canvas, I actually like the "weathered" look that little slice gives the bib. Not even gonna mend it.)

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It wasn't the fit. (They do.)

It wasn't the buttonholes. (I did have to rip one, because it was wonky. But I'm fine with ripping/re-doing buttonholes.)

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So.

What WAS the big hang up in getting these things finished?

It was the hardware. The damn jeans buttons!

You know . . . the ones with the rivets on the back? The ones you need to hammer into place? 

I've never installed jeans buttons before . . .  and they freaked me (the hell) out. I almost chickened out and just used sew-on buttons. But, shoot. I'd gone full-on authentic with this particular pair of overalls, and damnit . . . I wanted the authentic buttons!

So I watched YouTube video after YouTube video about installing jeans buttons. It looked easy. But. . . each of them talked about the importance of using some sort of heavy iron base to do the pounding. A cast iron skillet would be fine, they all said. But I don't have one. So I stewed and hemmed and hawed . . . and finally broke down and purchased a little mini-anvil (about $10 from Amazon).

It arrived yesterday! 

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(It looks like it belongs in the scene from The Grand Budapest Hotel . . . where they use tiny tools to dig themselves out of prison!)

Let the pounding begin!

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Success!

And right out of the gates, too. It really is as simple as the YouTube videos make out . . . to install those damn jeans buttons. Especially when you can pound away - safely and securely - on an iron base. (Satisfying, too. There's just something very cathartic about hammering the shit out of something, y'know?)

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In no time at all, I had installed all six jeans buttons, and figured out the slide/fastener for the straps!

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They're finished!

They fit!

They're Just What I Wanted!

And . . .  I have tackled my Big Hang Up!

And when Tom gets home (he's up north, opening our cabin and discovering that we need a new water heater), I'll have him take some pictures of me and I'll show you the full glory of these overalls soon.

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How about you? What are you making this week?

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Note: My overalls are actually the shade of green in the last photo. They are a perfect Mr. Green Jeans shade of green. Kind of spring-y, but not super bright.


Overthinking Overalls

When I was in high school, I had a pair of denim OshKosh'b'Gosh overalls. I wore them a lot back then - and especially during the summer at outdoor swim meets (because I could just throw them over my suit - easy-breezy). I embroidered all over them . . . in that freestyle, mid-70s kind of way. (Lots of rainbows, flowers, and peace signs.) I couldn't wear them to school (we had a dress code that allowed us only to wear "dress denim" on Fridays, which meant . . . no embroidered denim overalls), but I did sew myself a pair of corduroy overalls (thus acceptable for ANY day of the week per the school dress code), and even one of my cheerleading uniform options . . . was a pair of overalls (also dress code acceptable).

So. I was enamored with overalls -- and especially my OshKosh pair. Comfy. Groovy vibe. Unexpected. When I went off to college, though . . . they didn't come with me. I don't know what happened to them, and I don't seem to have a photo of me wearing them anywhere. But I really loved them.

Which means. . . that even as a nearly-62-year-old woman, I have a soft spot for overalls! 

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(Look! The Selfie Project continues . . . and I inexplicably put on mascara the other day for no reason at all except I felt like it. What is happening???)

Over the last couple of years, I've noticed . . . more overalls on the fashion scene, including lots of sewing pattern designs. (Jumpsuits, too. But it's a hard no on the jumpsuits for me.) I looked. I contemplated. I considered. But . . . nah.

Most of the designs I saw were more . . . fashion-y than I wanted. Or they were really simplified versions of standard, work overalls. And there seemed to be a lot of little futsy details: sideways pockets or paperbag waists or wrap around ties. I did succumb last summer and purchased this pattern. (I think I saw a pair that someone I know had made on IG that looked really great for summer - and without the fussy ties . . . ) But I never sewed them. (Too busy with masks.) (Sigh.) 

Besides. There was that silly little critical voice in my head that would whisper you're too old for overalls now when I got thinking about really making - and wearing - overalls. (I know this is NOT TRUE. I can wear whatever I damn well please, thankyouverymuch.) (But that voice still whispers, y'know?)

I haven't thought about overalls for several months now. . .  
Until last Tuesday!

I had ducked in to my favorite garden nursery for a quick breath of spring. They sell houseplants during the winter, and were having a sale to clear their stock in preparation for the gardening season ahead. I wanted to pick up a few succulents and maybe a plant or two for my house . . . y'know . . . to get me through the next couple of months inside. Anyway. Guess what I saw there????

A smart and sassy older woman with very cool silver hair . . . ROCKING A PAIR OF OLIVE GREEN DENIM OVERALLS!

If it hadn't have been the pandemic, I would've grabbed her and gotten all the details on her most awesome overalls. But it is the pandemic, so I admired her from over 6 feet away.

Ever since? I've been dreaming of a pair of olive green denim overalls for myself! Although, let's be honest. I've not been dreaming. I've been overthinking those overalls. . . 

I looked at ready-to-wear options online. But nothing seems to be what I want . . . in a reasonable price range. (And there are some WILD options out there -- including skinny-leg overalls with those ripped up legs. I kid you not.) I looked at farm-and-fleet store overalls online --  but they're just a bit too functional for me. (I don't think I need 96 pockets or articulated knees. . . ) And I looked at sewing patterns. Again. Most of them really are more fashion-focused than I'm wanting. Or there are some other details about them I'm not particularly liking. (The back, for example. I'm apparently very particular about how I want the back to look. And the pockets need to be Just Right.)

And then I found this pattern. . . 

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This is the Harlene from Merchant & Mills.
And it is EXACTLY what I want.

Ohlordhelpme
I'm going to sew myself a pair of olive green denim overalls.

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Don't forget: the Read With Us Zoom book discussions are coming right up -- Tuesday, March 2. Be sure to let Bonny, Carole, or I know if you'd like to join us for the Zoom that evening at 7 pm Eastern. (Just comment on any of our blogs to RSVP, or send us an email!)

 


A Retreat of Our Own

Almost two years ago, Vicki and I took a trip together . . . to Alabama for an Alabama Chanin stitching workshop. Somewhere along the way, we stopped on the side of the road to take photos of the cotton growing in the fields.

Last Thursday, we were together again, driving in northern Michigan . . . and, once more, we stopped on the side of the road for photos.  This time, though, it was pumpkins growing in the fields that caught our eye.

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Vicki and I first hatched our plan . . . to create our own Alabama Chanin "retreat" where we could stitch and cut and paint and plan together . . . about a year ago.  I knew it would be lots of fun and inspirational to spend time with Vicki again.  I had no idea how productive we'd be, though!  Creating Alabama Chanin garments is complicated.  There are so many options and so many choices:  pattern, fabric, color, stencil design, paint colors, embellishments.  It takes a while to sort through and figure out exactly what you want to DO!  It's much more fun - and much more productive - to discuss and talk it all out with someone else who is as geeked about the process as you are! 

And then . . . even when you have your ideas all figured out and clear in your imagination . . . you still have to do all the prep work.  Which is time-consuming, labor-intensive, and messy!

I can't tell you how much better it is to do this with a partner-in-crime!  (Especially when she brings her air compressor and an airbrush.  And teaches you how to use it.)

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So now . . . in addition to my memories of a fun week with Vicki . . .  I have four (!) Alabama Chanin projects planned, (mostly) cut, stenciled, and ready to go.  (And - bonus - I have new airbrushing skills AND an air compressor of my own now.)

A great week - and a perfect retreat - all the way around!

 


Happy Legs

When the weather cools down, I pretty much live in leggings and tunics.  (The stretchier, the better!)  I sew tunics for myself all the time, but I've never sewn a pair of leggings before . . .

until last weekend!

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These awesome and most comfortable leggings (maroon with white polka dots FTW!) are made from Sonya Phillips' Pants No. 2 pattern.  A snap to sew (no serger necessary), super clear directions, a great fit, and . . . $3.97 for the fabric.

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My legs?

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VERY happy!

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I've decided to knit for Christmas this year, so while there is no unraveling going on, there is also no knitting I can show.  But you can check out what others have been "raveling" over at Kat's!