Category Archives: Sewing, etc.

Dressing Ethically

Today is the one year anniversary of the fire that killed 1,133 workers in a Bangladesh garment factory. “Who makes your clothes?” As a person who sews I am tempted to feel smug and proudly answer, “I did.” But who made the fabric? The buttons? The zippers? The needle on my sewing machine? I don’t know.

Living ethically is a lot of work and I’m lazy. I care. I really do, but I don’t even know how to find out these things. I have to rely on the media to tell me about things like the fire in Bangladesh so I will know which clothing not to buy. But things get really complicated. Look at the labels. It’s all made in Bangladesh or some other place where children work 16 hours a day for fifty cents and are beaten for complaining. It makes one want to throw up one’s hands and say, “Well, sheesh! Why don’t we all just start sewing together leaves from the plants in our back yards and wear those?”

Thanks to the demand, there are now a few companies producing ethical clothing. (There’s no way I can write that sentence that doesn’t look weird.) If you work at it you can live ethically. But can you trust the claims of people who are trying to make money? And if you buy clothing that is 100% made in the USA are you starving some orphan in Bangladesh who was counting on that fifty cents a day, however hard earned it might have been?

I do appreciate that there are people out there keeping a watch out for this kind of thing. Just by reporting they can force manufacturers to clean up their acts. So keep reporting and I will shop ethically when I can. Just don’t expect me to go nuts about something over which I have no control.

Easter Earth Day Dress and Perky Young Girls From the 60′s

Here is last week’s sewing project. I did not originally plan this as an Easter dress but as I was working on it I thought about wearing it on Easter but I changed my mind because the weather was a bit cool. To start with, I must say that I do like it even though I’m about to complain a lot.

The pattern is Simplicity 1882. It’s one of their “Amazing Fit” patterns. The fit is not amazing. I can accept partial responsibility for that but not the entire responsibility. It has separate bodice pieces corresponding to different bra cup sizes so I used the one for my size and it was too big. I made some adjustment but size wasn’t the only problem. I have seen tutorials for full bust adjustment and for small bust adjustment but I have never seen a tutorial for how to adjust princess seams for girls that live a bit farther south than the girls the pattern was designed for. (if you know what I mean) With most patterns this is not much of a problem for me but this pattern was designed for exceptionally perky young girls that live way way up north. (if you know what I mean) I had an epiphany (I like that word, “epiphany”) to try it with the weird, pointy bra that I never wear because it looks too 60′s. That actually did improve the fit, somewhat, and doesn’t make this dress look too terribly pointy.

Another thing about this pattern… The description on the front of the envelope says, “Softly Pleated A-Line Skirt.” This is beyond misleading; it’s an outright fib. The skirt has no pleats. It has darts. No problem. I made an honest pattern of it and sewed the pleats I expected in place of darts.

Now for the good points. I love the pockets. The yoke and pocket is a single piece that folds. Now I know how I’m going to add pockets to the fake pocket Vogue. It was worth getting this pattern just for that. I did have to add a couple of inches of depth to these pockets because they would have been too shallow to be of much use but that was very easy to do.

The fabric is quilting cotton, which I use for dresses all the time. It worked okay but I wouldn’t recommend it for this pattern because the extra thicknesses of fabric for the collar and pocket trim make the seams in these areas rather bulky. It’s okay but I think most seamstresses would likely prefer a lighter fabric.

I put the zipper on the side instead of the back, which means I could have eliminated the center back seam but I didn’t think of it. This is the second time I’ve done a side zipper and I’m totally sold on them.

Overall, I really do like this dress though I think my favorite parts are the fabric and the pockets. I don’t know if I will use this pattern again or not. Aside from the fit issues I really prefer a bit fuller skirt. That of course is easy to change and perhaps I could figure out how to fix the fit but why bother? There are so many other patterns waiting for my attention.

A Little Sewing

Finally, I have something cute to show off. The lovely young lady for whom I made this (my granddaughter) is not available to model it right now. I’m not even sure if it will fit. It is 6 to 12 month size so I’m hoping it will fit sometime this summer.

The pattern is Kwik Sew 3776 and the fabric was a piece that I have had for a really long time. It was almost a yard that I had left over from something else. I liked it a lot and had planned to get a coordinating solid to go with it and make something for myself but I had no idea what. I’m glad I did this with it. It’s the right thing for this fabric and I hope she gets to wear it a lot this summer.

I actually finished it a week ago but only put the snaps on it this afternoon. Kind of a funny story about the snaps. Ages and ages ago I put several leftover snap sets into an odd little glass vial with a plastic stopper. It’s slightly smaller than a 35mm film canister. I have no idea where it came from or what was originally in it but at the time it seemed like the perfect thing to put a few snaps in and it’s been sitting in one of my sewing machine drawers for literally decades. So I had snaps for the little romper. But when I poured them all out and sorted them into the different pieces I discovered that they weren’t all the same and I did not have four complete sets of one kind, which is what the pattern called for. So I waited until today and bought a package of snaps. Then when I started putting on the snaps it looked to me like there wasn’t really enough room for four so I only used three. And those old leftover snaps? Still in the drawer. It would make sense to just throw them away but they’re perfectly good snaps. “I’ll find a use for them someday.”

Yeah, More Sewing Blogs

See, here’s the thing. I’ve got these in my bookmarks and I can’t remember if I’ve linked to them already or not so here they are, possibly again. I need to just add them to ye olde links page but I keep telling myself, “You can’t keep them all.” Packrattery happens in cyberspace as well as realspace which is why I have a links page instead of just a few links in the sidebar. (And yes, Firefox spellchecker, “packrattery” is a real word and I spelled it correctly. I should know because I just now made it up myself.)

Anyway here are the sewing blogs, each with an additional link to my favorite recent(ish) post.

Wanderlost – Ooooo! 40′s

u&mii – Nice! An American dress in Britain

Lucky Lucille – And more 40′s fashion and fabrics appropriate for sewing them.

Cashmerette – It’s tea time dahlings. I think I’m really going to like this post if I can ever get all the photos to fully load.

Seamstress Erin – Wow. She sews, she knits, she even strings pearls.

Lin3a Rosa – Ah, you know I can’t resist sewing links.

Inside Out Style Blog – Actually not a sewing blog and not really a blog. It’s all about style, like How to Style Print Pants. I don’t know if I could ever do print pants myself but I do sort of like some of those print pairings.

Oops, almost missed one…

Sew Smitten – She finds wisdom from a tea bag.

Something Neue

I just got my first Neue Mode pattern and there are a couple of surprises. First, the envelope is huge. It doesn’t fit in the little plastic drawer/bin where I keep my patterns. The other surprise is that there are no directions. That wasn’t a total surprise because the order confirmation email said that I would have to download the “sewing guide” and included a link to this PDF. That’s it. One page.

I’m not worried about it. I’ve been sewing a long time and rarely look at the directions anyway. I’m sure I can figure it out. But if you’re new to sewing and are not particularly adventurous you might want to hold off a while on trying Neue Mode patterns. One thing – it doesn’t say so directly but I’m getting a feeling from this “sewing guide” that this pattern is intended for knits only which is not what I had in mind for it. I really just got it for the asymmetrical yoke and had radical plans that would end up with a dress that looks almost nothing like the cover picture. Oh well. I’m still confident that I can work it out somehow.

Spring Miscellany

Today is a big day. Well, not really. Today is the first time this year that I am wearing a spring/summer dress. It’s this one, since I’m not planning on going anywhere today. I briefly considered wearing the crazy pink one. Anyway, I love dresses. They feel so free. That’s why this is sort of a minor big deal to me. It’s supposed to be cooler tomorrow though so it’s not quite time to put away the slacks yet.

It is definitely time to start summer sewing (I’m almost finished with a long sleeve cotton blouse, which I hope to be able to show off tomorrow but probably won’t get around to until early next week.) but I just realized that I do not have anything to sew that does not require some notion or trim or lining or something that I do not have yet. So I will have to either go to Tulsa in the next day or two or order stuff and wait a week. The latter is probably what I’ll do. I suppose it’s not a bad thing to take a short break from sewing. I can still work on that darned quilt that I’ve been stalled on for what seems like forever and I’ve got a couple of quilt tops I could be working on. But I’ve got the bug. I have pretty pieces of fabric that I want to sew now.

Remember I was talking about homemade shoes yesterday? Well, I was looking for the soling material and found these Xero Shoes kits. They’re very minimalist sandals. I don’t know… I don’t really like the look. I did also find the Vibram soling sheets at Amazon. That stuff is EXPENSIVE but there are some other brands. I’m not sure I’m quite ready to jump off into shoe making yet but I’m thinking about it.

Interesting article about the Hobby Lobby case. I don’t know what to think about this. I’m not familiar with the site but I’m sure it’s not exactly unbiased. (I saw this on Facebook) I’m not normally a very politically committed person. I don’t make purchasing decisions based on politics. It just gets too complicated. But I have to admit this thing with Hobby Lobby has really bothered me and made me not want to go there anymore. I don’t shop there very often but they have a small sewing department that is a little better than Walmart’s and there’s one closer to me than Tulsa. If what the article says is true it’s still not enough to make me completely change my mind about the case but it goes to show that the issues are more complex than the talking heads make them out to be and people on both sides of the political fence ignore anything that is inconvenient for their side.

Well, I don’t want to end on a political note but I’m fresh out of relevant and interesting [/sarcasm] things to say at the moment so how about a couple o’ cats. All together now: AAAWWWWWWWW….

Handmade Shoes

More than 20 years ago, probably closer to 30, (damn!) I bought a book that told in detail how to make shoes. I really wanted to give it a try but it seemed like too much messy, tedious work and, since this was before the Internet, even obtaining all the proper supplies would have been a bit of an ordeal so I never got around to it. But lately I started thinking about it again and, of course, did some googling.

Here is a serviceable pair of hiking shoes. The exciting thing about these, for me, is that you can buy Vibram soling by the sheet. I’ll have to look into that.

Of course, if it can be imagined someone is already selling it on Etsy. Those are quite nice and very professional looking.

Instructions for making your own shoes. This is pretty close to what I remember from the book. For some reason the idea of making a custom last is the most off-putting part.

More shoemaking instructions. This might be the author of the book I bought years ago (I’m sure I still have it somewhere) and these are more like the kind of shoes I had in mind (the flats of course) – something cute and comfortable to wear with dresses.

And more instructions at WikiHow

Finally here are the results for “homemade shoes” on Flickr. (Quite a few of the photos that came up are NOT, in fact, homemade shoes.) There are a lot of people out there doing this. I’m not confident in my ability to end up with shoes I would actually be willing to wear out of the house but I am getting closer to making an attempt.

Sewing Things

A long, lovely yellow skirt – I love it but that much yellow on me is probably not a good idea. I might have to get that pattern though. It looks interesting.

Lampshade – Love it!

Flowers and Frocks – A San Francisco Opera costume sale. Lovely! I would love to be an opera singer just to get to wear these things in public.

Windows 2 Wearables – an excellent sewing blog I recently discovered

Fat Quarter Challenge – Make an adult garment using 9 fat quarters. Wow. I kinda want to be in on the fun but I already have more than half a dozen projects screaming, “Make me next! Make me next!” and the whole idea is sort of making my head spin.

Pattern Impulses

At the beginning of every year I see a lot of talk about “stash busting” on the sewing blogs, and I’ve seen some really incredible stashes out there. I’m not even in the running for the “She Who Dies With the Most Fabric” prize. But what about patterns? I haven’t seen as much about this. Sewing people, do you have a stash of unused patterns?

I have a bad habit of using a few TNT (tried ‘n’ true) patterns over and over again and making little changes or combining parts of different patterns to make frankenpatterns, while I have unused patterns that I could not resist but haven’t got around to using yet. Below are a few from my collection followed by explanations and excuses.

From the top, left to right

Simplicity 1882 – This is a very recent purchase and I have fabric for it. I just need to find some fabric for the contrasting trim. I am confident that I will get around to this one this year.

Simplicity 2957 – I’ve had this one several years and have had fabric for it for over a year. I also need to get some contrasting trim fabric for this one.

Vogue 8577 – I also have fabric for this one but when I started cutting out the pattern pieces I got a little discouraged with it because the pockets are not real so I need to figure out some way to add real pockets, which I know I can do but when I discovered that I just decided to put it off until “later”.

Simplicity 2363 – It was love at first site. Then, sometime after I had purchased it, love turned into “What was I thinking?” But now I do have a piece of fabric for it and I’m inspired again. There will be some modifications though.

New Look 6963 – A couple of years ago I thought it was past time to get a new big shirt pattern but then I started wearing more fitted tops and I’m not so fond of big shirts anymore. I think I will use this pattern eventually. One cannot totally give up big shirts.

Vogue 8811 – I love this pattern but haven’t bought any fabric for it yet. I want to make a plaid one. This week I saw some pale blue dotted Swiss at Denver Fabrics and my little girl heart started thinking fluffy thoughts but I’m trying to resist because I’m not sure I would regularly wear anything so delicate.

McCall’s 6279 – I saw this on one of the sewing blogs and loved it but now I’m not sure what I want to do with it – what kind of fabric, what color, etc. It’s a little short for me. I would have to lengthen it quite a bit. How would it look then? I do still like it and want to make it eventually but it probably won’t happen this year.

New Look 6950 – I bought this one because of the curved pocket opening. The pants look really baggy though. Okay for lounge pants maybe. I might make the skirt someday. My daughter-in-law liked the top (A & B) so I might make one of those for her. I like it too but the neck opening looks way too wide. How are you supposed to find a bra to go with something like that? Anyway, I don’t have any immediate plans for this one but it still seems like a useful pattern to have.

Simplicity 9403 – This is a very old pattern. It includes only sizes 6 and 8. I never got around to making it because I couldn’t decide what colors I wanted for it. Now… well, size 8 was about 3 sizes ago and I have no idea how to upsize this pattern with those weird curvy pieces. I should just give it up but darn it I really liked it and wanted to make it and I keep thinking, “There’s gotta be some way.”

I’m reluctant to make any kind of pattern stash busting commitment but I’m tempted to say I will make at least three of these year. So stick around and see how I do. What about the rest of you sewing people? Anyone want to talk about pattern stashes?

Colorful Paisley With Rick-Rack

The delightful Anne of Pretty Grievances came up with my new favorite neologism (I first saw it in the comments on a recent post. I’m not going to look it up.) – gaudiflage – bold, colorful clothes and accessories used to conceal or divert attention away from one’s physical imperfections. Skeptical? Seriously, here’s how it works. You dress so that instead of having people say about you, “Does she really think wearing black will make that huge butt look any smaller?” they will say, “OMG! Quick, where are my sunglasses?” (Or perhaps, “Who sent in the clown?”) Well, anyway, I was using gaudiflage before it was even a word.

Here is my recently finished creation.

This is Simplicity 5346 with a little sleeve modification and lots of pink rick-rack. I am mostly pleased with the result. Comfortable and colorful. What more could one want? The sleeves aren’t quite the length I was going for but they’ll do.

I just happened to have the perfect button in my leftover buttons drawer. I only had the one so I’m probably going to be slightly paranoid about losing it even though I rarely lose buttons off clothes I make.

My history of making button loops is not exactly filled with honor and glory. (i.e. They usually turn out ugly and the wrong size.) So, I thought, what I really need for the loop is some small, round black elastic. Of course the local Wal-mart didn’t have any but while I was looking for it I noticed a card full of colorful ponytail bands. (Yes, in sewing notions; no wonder some people get confused about where to find things) The bands gave me an idea but they were too thick so I rushed back to the hair products and found these little black ones.

And it works perfectly. I left it whole so there will be no problem with it fraying. The hidden part of it is about the same length as the half you can see. I still have 35 small black ponytail bands, which should be enough to last me a lifetime if Number Two Son doesn’t find them.

* * *

More rick-rack, in case you missed it.

Respect the Whimsy

I haven’t used rick-rack much until fairly recently. Not that I disliked it or thought there was anything wrong with it. If I thought of it at all it was as a whimsical, old-fashioned trim that my mom used to sew on some of my dresses when I was little. But then I noticed a few people on the Internet hating rick-rack. I’m not talking about people simply saying they don’t like it or that it’s not for them. That’s perfectly fine – different strokes, right? But I mean hate – people seeming to be offended that it even exists. Well, fortunately, I’ve seen only a few of those but such is the way my brain works, when I see someone hating something that I like my fondness for that thing shoots way up. Suddenly I go from fond memories of my mother sewing rick-rack on my clothes to actually wanting to sew it and wear it now, as an adult.

In this first picture I was about six years old, I think. I don’t clearly remember the color of the dress. I think it was some kind of off-red or red-brown. I don’t remember the color of the rick-rack at all. It was one of my favorites at the time though.

Here’s a dress I already showed off last year. Two rows of white rick-rack around the neckline and one on each pocket. So perfectly summery.

I made this top several years ago and it was the first time I had used rick-rack in a long time – actually only the second time I had ever used it. I just had a sudden epiphany that this print needed a bit of red rick-rack.

This is a very old top. It must be at least 20 years old. This is a nifty thing to do with rick-rack – two different colors wound around each other – a bit tedious but not difficult. My mother got this idea from a tip on a package of rick-rack in the late 60′s.

Finally, here is a sneak peak of my latest project, which I will be showing off soon, probably early next week.

This is almost everything I have ever put rick-rack on. The only thing not included is an aqua and pink house-coat with pink rick-rack. So you see I haven’t used it a lot. I don’t plan to go crazy with it but I will use it again. It’s not to everyone’s taste but if you haven’t used it yet and would like to don’t be timid. It’s actually very easy to sew. It goes around curves like magic. I would recommend that you do not pin it in place. I tried that and it did not work well for me. I just take it completely off the card it comes on and hold it by hand as I sew, following a seam or a line drawn with a fabric marker, then cut off the excess when I’m done.

Protect the Children!

This is a top contender for the title of Silliest Warning Label Ever. This is the back of a card of 7/8 inch Dill brand buttons.

“Not a toy. Not intended for use by children under 14.” Seriously? I mean… Seriously?! I sort of get the “This is not a toy,” part. I can see some mentally challenged, trailer trash type of mom thinking, “Oh, these pretty buttons would be a fun toy for my 2-year old.” (I’m not sure such a person would bother to read the label anyway but whatever.) But the “under 14″ part is what I don’t get. The first time I sewed on a button I was 7 years old. Seven. Perhaps seven is a bit early but if a child reaches the age of 14 without ever having sewn on a button… well, bless her (or his) little heart.

I also played with buttons from my grandmother’s button jar when I was only five. It’s a miracle I survived childhood.

Oh, Now I See It! @#$%!

Have you ever had something that looked good in the mirror but when you see a picture of it, then you realize what’s wrong with it? That’s what happened here. I have made McCall’s 4922 several times. It’s not as close fitting as I normally expect a princess seamed shirt or blouse to be but it’s comfortable and it doesn’t look bad (or I never thought it did before; here’s one of them) so I have never bothered to make adjustments. But then there’s this one. (Yes, that is a Firefly poster behind me.)

Oh well. Let’s focus on the positive. I love it anyway. (and the seams can be taken in a little) The fabric is one of the Kona Colorworks 2 fabrics. It’s a wonderful, crisp, sturdy, tight-weave fabric. I made two shirts for my husband out of different fabrics from the same collection and liked it so much I had to get two pieces for myself. In girlier colors of course. The color in this photo is a little off. The “pink” stripes are actually orange, very close to the color of the buttons. I had bought the buttons much earlier when I was at JoAnn’s in Tulsa and had an “Oooo! Shiny!” moment. The pattern calls for the front band to be cut on the bias but I didn’t have quite enough fabric so I decided to cut it cross-ways – easier than trying to get the stripes to line up perfectly.

I bought the fabric at eQuilter, which might be my favorite online fabric store. (This is not quilting cotton.) They are now sold out but you can still get some of the Kona Colorworks fabrics from Patrick Lose and I might buy 2 or 3 more pieces myself. It’s really, really nice fabric.

Unfashionable Thoughts

Kelly is answering questions and gets a weird one, or at least to me it seems really weird.

Don’t you feel weird wearing overalls when they’re out of fashion?

And he responds:

Well, obviously I don’t! Fashion is a pretty dumb concept, really…


I’ve never bought into the idea that something can “look good” one year and then “look bad” the next. I get that tastes change and we get tired of stuff, but the idea of clothes becoming laughable is downright silly to me. I have zero interest in adhering to what the “fashion” people tell me is OK to wear.

I have never understood how some people get so worked up about always being “in fashion”. The whole concept of updating your wardrobe every six months is an invention of the fashion industry to sell us more clothes. And really, I can’t blame them for that; they are trying to make money, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but we don’t have to buy into it as completely as some people do. It’s okay to buy new, fashionable things but it’s also okay to do your own thing and dress completely different from the way the “fashion police” tell us we should be dressing.

I have never been fashionable and I’ve always taken pride in refusing to follow the crowd. That’s still true now but at the same time I realize that, at my age, people don’t see a rebel doing her own thing, willfully ignoring the fashion world; they just see an older woman who can’t keep up. And I have to admit that today’s fashions confuse me a little bit. What is in? There doesn’t seem to be one overall kind of look like there was in earlier decades. You can look at picture of a woman from the 60′s and immediately recognize it as 60′s or a woman from the 70′s and immediately recognize it as 70′s but current fashion? Well, maybe I am just an older woman who can’t keep up because I just can’t get a handle on the modern look. I wouldn’t know how to be fashionable in this decade even if I wanted to.

This is one of the best things about sewing. I wear what I want and look the way I want to look. I have more choices than the person who does not sew. And maybe that’s why I “can’t keep up”. I stopped paying attention three decades ago. Also, I don’t live in the most fashionable part of the world. Around here being fashionable means wearing jeans, worn out t-shirts and cowboy boots. (And then there’s Walmart fashion. We get some of that too.) But I’m not into that sort of thing (the cowboy or western look) either. If I had to pick a decade with the best looking fashions it would be the 1940′s even though that’s way before my time.

So my look? My style? I don’t know what it is, really. It’s just “Oooo! Pretty fabric” and “This is a nice pattern,” and “Oh, I think I’ll do this instead of what the pattern shows,” and whatever comes out of that, that’s my style.

This ‘n’ That

Last night we watched the movie, Up. It was on CBS or ABC; I forget which. Sad, sad, sad, sad movie. I know it’s supposed to be cute and uplifting but all I could think was, “What good is it to have your dream finally come true if the person you first dreamed it with isn’t there to share it with you?”

We are finally out of the deep freeze. Well, at least for this week. It’s supposed to be cold again on Sunday. But today it may get up to 70°F! That is spring, my friends! Sure, the calendar says it’s still a few weeks away but spring is more than just a date. We have had winter near the end of April and spring in February, as we’re having now.

I have been watching some of the Olympics. I’m glad they’re on NBC again. CBS spoils the Olympics when they’re on that network. It seems like it’s always 30 minutes of OMG! Drama! Drama! Drama! for every 10 minutes of sports. NBC actually focuses on the sports. I used to love the Winter Olympics and would watch every minute of it but it’s more fun when you have someone who loves it as much as you do. Now I just defer to the rest of the family. I do want to see some more curling. Strange sport. I got hooked on it two Olympics ago.

Sewing – I finished another thing I want to show off but my first attempt at self-photography didn’t turn out good at all. The flash, auto-focus and the self timer don’t seem to work well together so I will try it outside one day this week. I started another pair of slacks and then decided that I want to put a zipper in them instead of doing the pocket trick. That doesn’t work as well if you have to use a different, lighter weight, fabric for the pockets. So I ordered a zipper because Walmart only has them in two colors so now I’m thinking I might start something else today so I’ll have something to work on while I’m waiting on the zipper. By the way, has all kinds of zippers in lots of colors.

I first saw this on Facebook. I absolutely love it!

An Unmotivated Post

It’s another cold, dreary Monday. Tuesday will be the same but by Thursday the weather is supposed to be more pleasant. I’m having a hard time believing it though. It just feels like it’s going to be cold and gloomy forever.

Back in November I had several sewing projects that I planned to get done by Christmas. Actually, not so much planned as had in mind to maybe sew before the end of the year. Most of these things I did not do. Now, on the one hand, I’m wanting to hurry up and finish all of them while it’s still cold, but on the other hand, I’m thinking maybe I should just save them for next fall and winter. The purple flannel top I mentioned in another post didn’t turn out so well. I’m disappointed because I really like the fabric and I used a pattern that I have used successfully several times before so I don’t know what happened. I could wear it just around the house or maybe even to Wal-mart. It honestly doesn’t look all that bad but it has problems. Worst of all is that it rides up in front so that the neckline, which is several inches below the base of my neck ends up choking me. I really don’t know why it does that or what to do about it.

Right now I’m almost finished with another shirt that is turning out much better. After a failure I always try to sew a guaranteed success. Well… I would have thought the purple one was a guaranteed success. In fact, I think of everything as a guaranteed success, until it isn’t. Oh well. Tip for you non-sewing people: Even after more than 30 years sewing you will still have occasional failures. Nobody’s perfect so if you really want to sew just get over whatever is keeping you from it and get started already.

I’m feeling particularly unmotivated and lacking imagination lately. NOT depressed; I’m feeling just fine. It’s just that when I think, “What do I want to do today?” or “What can I post on the blog today?” nothing comes to me. And when I look around and see the house is a mess I just think, “No hurry; I’ll clean that up later.” And I’m only working on the sewing just a few minutes a day. And so on. I’m going to blame the weather. Anyway, the good side of that is that I’ve been doing a lot more reading than usual and that’s good because, well, reading is always good and because I just recently downloaded two more $1.99 specials that look really good.

Old Favorites

One of the annoying facts of a materialistic life is that sometimes we have to let go of old favorites in order to make room for new favorites. For a number of years my favorite shirt pattern was Simplicity 9818. I thought the long, loose style concealed my physical imperfections and I made lots of shirts with this pattern. Then, after a few years of loving these shirts I suddenly changed my mind and decided that they just make me look like a big, shapeless blob. And they’re not even especially comfortable. They feel sort of like wearing a potato sack.

So, even though the fabrics are lovely, it’s time to let go. (but not of all of them; some I will try to re-style) Something I cannot let go are these buttons.

So I removed them from the shirt I’m planning to give away and replaced them with plain buttons. I don’t have any ideas yet about what to put them on but I think it will be a solid or simple, small print fabric. Something to properly show them off. They really didn’t go well with the shirt they were on. The colors match but the print is so busy that these amazing buttons practically disappeared.

Here’s the old shirt. The new buttons are dark blue, about the same color as the darkest blue on the blue fish. None of them look right in this picture. The flash made some of them look lighter and the top two darker. Anyway, I made this shirt about 10-12 years ago but I have never worn it very much. I’m not sure why. Maybe because I like the fabric better than I like it on me. Still, I’m a little sad to let it go.

This ‘n’ That

We are having computer issues again. I can be on it for about ten or fifteen minutes then it locks up. This time it seems to be a software problem – one program not playing well with another or something like that. Not sure; not my department. I just surf and tap out drivel on the thing.

Someone posted something on Facebook saying that the weather has bipolar disorder. Sounds right to me. Yesterday it was over 60°F. Today, as I type this at around 11:30AM, it’s 21°. Tomorrow it’s supposed to be warmer again, though maybe not quite as warm as yesterday, then the next day colder again, then fairly nice for the weekend. Bipolar indeed. But actually, I prefer this to days and days of nothing but sub-freezing temps.

I finished making another pair of pants. They’re purple. This morning I started a purple plaid top. I was going to do something else but then I realized the purple plaid would go with the pants I just finished and couldn’t resist making it an outfit. I think I have enough of the pants fabric to make a tiny pair for the granddaughter but I’m sort of nervous about making her stuff because the two “newborn size” outfits I made her still don’t fit. I know that babies come in many different sizes at different ages but even the measurements given on the pattern envelope are way, way off. Seriously, what is the deal with baby patterns? Even if they can’t tell newborn size from 12 month size you would think they could at least get the measurements right.

And then there’s this. My apologies to Patriots fans and those who just don’t give a rat’s hiney, but for me, it’s not getting old.

Hot Jungle Princess

No, not me silly! The Dress! Actually, it’s probably not the best description of the dress either but I wanted to use that title. [ahem] Anyway…

Last year I had such fun following Anne’s Jungle January but I never thought I would participate. But then I fell in love with these giraffes that I found at eQuilter. (Yes, it’s quilting cotton. I understand that’s considered controversial in some circles? Hmmmm… strange.)

After thinking about it for a little while I decided I wanted to use it for just the front panel of a shoulder seam princess cut dress so I only ordered a yard and a half of it. Then, a few weeks later I was doing my weekly browsing in the local Walmart’s tiny fabric department and found New Look 6209 and instantly knew it was perfect for my giraffes.

I only needed to cut one narrow pattern piece from the giraffes so in order to maximize the amount of leftover fabric I folded it off center. I now have enough to make a summer version of this dress. Or something entirely different. (Please don’t judge my decorating skills. The part of the room you can’t see is even worse.)

Here is the finished dress. (I really just can’t pull off the surly model pose.) I love it and I will use this pattern again. Modifications: I added long sleeves and pockets. (Why can’t designers understand that pockets are not optional?) (I think my tripod wasn’t exactly level. I’m sure I wasn’t really leaning.)

Finally, a Jungle January post calls for a picture of a wild jungle creature. Well… she’s not actually that wild but she can be surly sometimes.

*Welcome to all who come here via Jungle January. This is not a sewing blog but I do post about sewing occasionally as well as other stuff. I hope you will come back again.

UPDATE: Here it is: the latest Jungle January post

Modern Bustle

This is kinda cute. I’d like to see what the front of it looks like.

Found at Advanced Style. Please do go visit. It’s a wonderful site.

Generally though, I don’t know about the designer’s ambition to “bring back the bustle.” I always thought those were among the sillier fashions in history. This one isn’t bad though. Like I said, cute. Maybe even something I would wear.

One more thing… I can never wrap my head around riding a bike in a skirt. I know women used to all the time and I’m pretty sure I did when I was kid but now? I don’t know. There’s really nothing wrong with it but to me it seems wrong somehow.

Lazy Photo Blogging

I intend to continue my regular Friday series, Quotes From Here and There, since a couple of people seem to like it and it’s sort of fun to do, but I haven’t been doing much Internet surfing to find things to quote, so maybe next week.

For today, here’s another picture.

Do you recognize it? It’s a sewing machine! This was sitting outside one of the shops in Silver Dollar City. Just sitting there outside. If I owned such a thing it would be well cared for and treated like a treasure. But that’s sort of a thing at Silver Dollar City. Everywhere you look they have all these rusty old antiques sitting around like they were abandoned there.

As you can see from the leaves around it, it is very small. I don’t know anything about it – when it was made, etc. I would love to have the chance to handle one like it and have a really good look at it.

Sewing and Math

There is a widespread belief that you will be good at the things you enjoy and not good at the things you don’t enjoy. I am living proof that this is not true. I am terrible at math. It makes my brain freeze up, but I think math is quite interesting. I am fascinated by the way numbers work sometimes – like the nines in multiplication. And I like that numbers are reliable. You can always count on them working out the same way every time. Well… except, sometimes, in sewing.

I made this little travel bag almost a month ago.

I found this green fabric at Walmart several years ago and at the time my husband needed a travel bag/gym bag and this seemed perfect. It’s a very stiff, heavyweight nylon with some kind of rubberized backing. Very difficult to sew. I wouldn’t dream of trying it on an electric machine. I bought the fabric before buying a pattern so I bought a whole two yards though I was sure that would be more than I needed. I thought I might have to figure out how to make it without a pattern, and I could have, but I discovered Green Pepper Patterns and bought the cargo bag pattern. It’s a very simple pattern but my version is simplified even more. I didn’t make the zippered end pockets. I was trying to do as little sewing as possible with this difficult fabric. I also did not make the little flap over the zipper simply because I didn’t want it.

The one I made for my husband has black handles. I had more than enough left over to make another bag so this year (oops, last year) I finally decided to make one for myself. With pink handles, as you can see. This time I added inside pockets to the ends, using scraps of a lightweight nylon that is completely the wrong shade of green but it doesn’t matter since they’re on the inside. At least I’m going to keep telling myself that.

I had troubles with this bag that I didn’t have with the first one I made. The first problem was finding a zipper. I felt that with this weight fabric I had to have a heavy duty brass zipper. That was no problem with the first one but this time all I could find were separating zippers. I found a “two way” brass zipper at Amazon. I didn’t know exactly what that meant because the picture only showed a few inches of the top of the zipper but I was desperate enough to take a chance. Turns out it is closed at the bottom but can open from either end, which is okay for a bag.

This bag is cylindrical, with perfectly round ends. When I started putting this one together I found that the ends didn’t fit! How did that happen? I don’t remember having that problem with the first one. It occurred to me that I could figure this out using pi! How cool, to actually get to use pi. So I measured the main piece, to which I had already sewn the zipper, then used good old 3.14. ( on my phone’s calculator of course) It turned out that the pattern was right, at least according to pi. So why didn’t it fit?

I cut slightly larger circles for the ends. They were not a perfect fit but much closer than the right size circles were. How strange. It seems that, in sewing, you can’t always trust math. Or even getting the same result twice from the same pattern and fabric.

Winter Dress

Ignore the goofy expression on my face. This is all about the dress. (I have a new camera, which I haven’t got around to telling you about yet.)

Red, black, and tan corduroy print jumper

The fabric is a very soft corduroy. I bought it at Walmart years ago. I had originally planned on making a long sleeved shirt but it’s been on my mind through the years and it kept telling me it really wanted to be a jumper and I’ve been thinking I would really like to wear dresses in the winter occasionally. So here it is with a black t-shirt from Duluth Trading Company and black cotton/spandex tights. (I love those, by the way.)

I started with Simplicity 4632, changed the neckline, and added pockets and a short belt that just goes around the back and each end attaches by two buttons just above the pockets. The busy print makes it hard to see these little details. The “orange” areas in the picture are really not that orange and don’t actually stand out quite so much. It’s strange that it came out that way because other colors on the dress are accurate.

I’m very happy with it. I’m not sure how my plan for wearing dresses in the winter will go though. I’m wearing it right now and it is comfortable but I hear a pair of old sweatpants calling me, crying, “What happened? We thought you loved us.”

Black Jeans

I’ve been having a terrible time getting a picture of my new jeans. This blurry picture taken with my phone is the best I could do.

Black Jeans

I haven’t had a pair of jeans that fit properly in years but you’ve gotta have a pair of jeans, right? And I can sew. I’ve made jeans before. The problem is the fabric. I need stretch and most “stretch” denim has so little stretch it might as well be imaginary. But I saw this stretch denim at Lura’s Fabric Shop and, based on the description, I thought there might be reason to hope that it actually does have a decent amount of stretch. In this respect I was not disappointed. It is nicely stretchy.

What is just a bit of a disappointment is the color. It’s listed as “dark indigo” and the picture is very dark so I was expecting a very dark blue (I really wanted a more “faded” color but the stretch was the important thing) but it’s not blue; it’s black. At first I still thought it must be just a very dark blue, like I expected, but I looked at it under all kinds of light and compared it with a piece of denim that I know is black and this is very definitely – no doubt about it – black. But it’s not a disaster. Black jeans are good too and I am happy with these.

I used my perfect pants pattern and modified the pockets (I freehanded the curve) and put in a zipper instead of using my nifty pocket trick. I put the zipper on the side because that’s where it’s supposed to be. Front zip jeans for women are a fashion atrocity of the 70′s that should have been left behind along with men’s pastel polyester leisure suits! I mean, seriously… why would any woman want that weird bulge in front under her t-shirt?

No close-up of the zipper. I probably did it wrong anyway. The seams are not “real” jeans seams. I just sewed a normal seam, taking a long stitch where the zipper would go so that stitching could be easily removed later and pressed that part open, pressed the rest of the seam toward the front and top-stitched, then sewed in the zipper like you normally would for a dress zipper, using black thread. There is also an inside… welt? placket?… whatever you call the silly thing, that I hand basted to the zipper itself before sewing it in. As I said, it’s probably wrong but I couldn’t find anything online showing how to sew a side zipper in jeans. (heathens) It looks fine to me and it will always be covered by my tops anyway. The topstitching thread is a gold-beige color. Now I wish I had used quilting thread so it would stand out more but, considering that it’s not entirely straight and even, maybe standing out would not be a good thing.

Wait! This Is Not a Cat Blog


Uh oh. That was two cat posts in a row. We are in danger of being overwhelmed by the cute. So let’s just babble incoherently for a while. Or something.

So it’s November. The last couple of days have been rainy and cool but not really cold. It’s not bad. I prefer warm weather but this isn’t bad. It feels right for November. The fall colors peaked late. Until just a few days ago trees were still mostly green but now they’ve changed and leaves are falling rapidly. This colorful part of fall comes and goes so fast.

I found this collection of gorgeous steampunk images the other day. I have this one on my desktop now but it was really hard to decide which one I wanted to use.


We watched the Face Off (SyFy) season finale was last night. This was the first time I had watched an entire season of it. I normally avoid any kind of elimination competition show like a flesh eating virus but my son got us into this one and I actually enjoyed it. All of the competitors got along with each other very well and mostly had excellent attitudes. There were a couple of whiny women that I kept wanting to slap, or shake or something, but compared to most such shows this was a very pleasant group of people. And it was interesting to see their creations. The guy I was sort of rooting for (Tate, from Tulsa) did not win but I wasn’t dissatisfied with the outcome. The final three (of which Tate was one) really were the best three. I’ll probably watch this show again when it returns in January.

I have recorded two episodes of Naked Vegas, which was heavily advertised during Face Off. The rest of the family doesn’t seem to be very interested in it and I’m not sure when we will get around to watching it. We have quite a backlog of recorded shows to watch. That’s okay though. So far we are keeping up enough that we haven’t filled up the recorder and we will have a few shows to watch later when football is over and “Oh No There’s Nothing On TV” season starts.

It seems like most of the shows we’re watching (or recording) right now are on CBS: Elementary, Person of Interest, NCIS: Los Angeles, CSI and Big Bang Theory. Besides those, we watch Castle (ABC) and Grimm (NBC) And I think that’s just about all on the “Big Four”. We have nearly an entire season of Hell on Wheels (AMC) on the recorder and several episodes of Torchwood. (BBCA) Our former favorite cable/satellite channels (Discovery, History, Animal Planet, Nat Geo, Science) are mostly showing crap and re-runs right now. Of course HGTV and DIY are still my Saturday morning TV. Like a kid and cartoons, I can’t miss my Saturday morning home remodeling shows but most of the good shows are gone and the few that are left mostly show the same six episodes over and over and over and over and over.


Yes, I have been sewing and have a few things I want to show off but getting out the camera and setting up the tripod seems like such an ordeal for the lousy pictures I always get. But I will get around to it sometime.


I decided to try reading Andre Norton’s Witch World series again. I read the first two books years ago and lost interest with the third. I just finished the third book, Three Against the Witch World yesterday and I do intend to read them all (or at least all that I have) but I want to read something else now. I have ordered two more books by Neal Asher, which should arrive today or tomorrow so I want to wait and read one of those but I hate to not be reading anything. Because of the TV show, Grimm, I decided a while back to download Grimm’s Fairy Tales and I’ve been reading those, just one once in a while and I read another one last night to fill in the time between books.

Via The Middle Stage, an infrequently updated blog about Indian literature, I learned about This Is Not That Dawn, which looks very interesting to me. Since I discovered The Middle Stage, years ago, I have wanted to read an Indian novel simply because I haven’t ever read one, but it’s been very much a back-burner want and I had no book or books in mind. Well, this is the one. I plan to download it soon because the Kindle version is waaaay less expensive.

Oh, almost forgot… I also ordered the first book in David Weber’s Safehold series, thanks to this conversation. I was actually going to start This Is Not That Dawn next but then the linked discussion prompted me to order a few books and now I’m eager for those so I’ll probably read all three of them before I get around to TINTD. Or maybe I’ll try reading two books at once. I know some people do that but I never have.

UPDATE: I received Weber’s Off Armageddon Reef this afternoon but not the two Neal Asher books. (The latter are used.) I was planning to read The Voyage of Sable Keach first (kinda wanted to get to it before Number Two Son) but since OAR is here and I need something to read now, I started that one. You know… there is something extremely pleasing about being the first to read a brand new paperback – the unbroken spine, the clean, untouched pages, that new feeling. But used books are fine too. It’s what’s printed on the pages that counts.