Stitches

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 . . . 

IMG_3852 2

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

Finally stitched it up last weekend!

IMG_4786

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!

IMG_4790

(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

IMG_4840

Slow Leisurely progress is progress all the same.

==

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.)

IMG_3850

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.

IMG_3839

Checking the fit . . . 

IMG_3840

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.)

IMG_3844 2

(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!

IMG_3852

There's no stopping me now.

==

How about you? What are you making these days?


The Big Hang Up

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

IMG_3547

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

IMG_3552

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).

IMG_3553

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.)

IMG_3550

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.)

IMG_3617

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! 

IMG_3613

(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!

IMG_3614

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?)

IMG_3616

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

IMG_3618

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.

==

How about you? What are you making this week?

==

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! 

IMG_2734 2

(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. . . 

Screen Shot 2021-02-26 at 7.53.08 AM

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.

==

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.

IMG_5203

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.)

IMG_6284

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!

IMG_7247

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.

IMG_7249

My legs?

IMG_7252

VERY happy!

==========

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!

 


All About the Pockets

Last week, I finished a pair of Alabama Chanin drawstring pants . . . in the knee-length shorts version.

IMG_6673

I was a bit hesitant about making pants . . . with hand stitching.  Because, really, you want the butt seam and crotch seam to HOLD, y'know?  But last fall, when Vicki and I visited the Alabama Chanin Factory, I tried on a pair.  And they seemed surprisingly stable.  And super comfortable.  So I decided to give it a go.

This particular AC pattern includes drawstring pants (4 lengths) and a drawstring skirt (also multiple lengths) -- and a variety of pocket options.  I planned to try ALL pocket varieties when I stitched up my shorts.  Kind of a . . . pocket sampler!

So.  We've got side seam pockets . . . 

IMG_6671

a cargo pocket . . . 

IMG_6670

and patch pockets!

IMG_6672

These really are the most comfortable pants in the world.  (And I'm happy to report that with two full days' wear, both the butt seam and the crotch seam are holding fast!)

Now . . . I'm thinking I need a long pair.
(And maybe the skirt . . . )

==========

Be sure to head over to Kat's today . . . to see what else is Unraveling!


Just a Bit of Messing Around

Earlier this month, I had a notion to make myself an Alabama Chanin tunic.  Just plain-vanilla.  A single-layer black tunic using the Factory Dress pattern.

IMG_4697

It was my first project using Natalie Chanin's new book, The Geometry of Hand-Sewing, and the Really Useful Stitching Cards that come with it.  (Those white dots you can see on my edging above?  I used a chalk pencil to mark my binding strips so I could make uniform stitches.  The dots will wash off, leaving near-perfect stitches that make me look like a better hand-stitcher than I actually am.  Highly recommend.)

IMG_4698

I finished the tunic in record time -- but decided I wanted to mess around a bit with those Really Useful Stitching Cards and some beads. 

So I marked up the front edge of my tunic . . . 

IMG_4681

dumped out a bunch of beads . . . 

IMG_4682

and started messing around.

The trick here is . . . moderation, mixed with a bit of random.  I'm working slowly, just a little at a time.  I want to be sure I strike the right balance of bling here -- nothing too uniform, and nothing overdone.

So far, I like it . . . 

IMG_4684

this particular kind of messing around!

What are you working on this week?

==========

Be sure to stop in at Kat's to read other Unraveled posts this week.


Sewing. So Much Faster Than Knitting.

I'm, basically, a tunic-and-leggings kind of gal.  It's what I wear about 90% of the time.  Often with some sort of sweater thrown over the top.  So when I first heard about the Knit & Sew Uniform book (published by Madder), I got myself on the pre-order list right away!

A variations-on-a-theme book of patterns for tunics (the "sew" part of the Uniform) and cardigans (the "knit" part of the Uniform), the whole concept is really perfect for me.

I whipped up a tunic for myself over the weekend.  

IMG_3759

I opted for the tunic version with pockets, no sleeves, and the rounded neckline.

IMG_3791

I pretty much love it.  (Although I have a few issues with the placement of the darts.  And from what I see from photos of other finished Uniform tunics, this is pretty typical. They're just . . . too high.)

The size options are good.  The directions are very clear.  The sewing is straightforward.

IMG_3790

I gave myself contrasting pocket linings.  Mostly because I like pops of color -- and a "surprise inside."  But also because I wanted to cut down on the bulk of fabric over my middle section (ahem).  (Because who wants four layers of heavy-ish linen over their middle section?)  So I used a lightweight cotton print for the pocket linings.

IMG_3793

I also used the cotton for the armhole bias facings.  Again, pop of color.  AND it really cut down on the bulk around the armholes.

IMG_3794

I'll probably make another tunic, as I really want to try the split-hem variation.  But I'm going to have to think about those darts for awhile first.  (It's such a pain to move darts.)

One thing is certain -- don't expect to see a completed knit Uniform cardigan around here anytime soon.  Someday, sure.  But not this summer.  

(Sewing.  So much faster than knitting. . . )