I love to use Pinterest as my virtual bulletin board. As you might guess many of my pins are sewing related. Click here to see what fun stuff I've found and pinned to different sewing boards.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Drill for Structure (Pearly Wannabe Jacket)

Early on, when I began blogging about my Pearly-Wannabe jacket project, I noted that one of the features was drill utility fabric, which I'd used as an interlining between the two layers of fleece that make up the front and back of the jacket.

I didn't start out doing this. As I've mentioned before, I've made Butterick 3573 (an out of print pattern, but highly available on the web) in double layers of fleece a number of times, both in the original pattern jacket length and as an extended weight sports vest.

However something about not only extending the jacket but also slashing and spreading the front for added fullness changed the character of the double layers of fleece. The garment took on the character of a nice warm blanket. A nice Snuglie! as a friend in Sewing Lab commented.

Time for a visit with Auntie Seama Rippah. (That gal will be expecting overtime after this project) I ripped up the hem again (remember my challenges with how to bind the hem in the last post?) and interlined the inside/lining layer of fleece with the utility fabric drill * up to about the bust level. I then channel stitched the drill down to the lining layer. So if you peep into the inside, you'll see what looks vaguely like decorative stitching patterns, hiding my structural secrets.

The result? The fabric takes on a new character, hanging in an almost wool-like manner and with plenty of shape and structure.

Keep your Snuglies for watching late night t.v!

* I had drill on hand because I use this heavy twill-weave fabric to make the pocket bags in trousers and pants. Fashion fabric in pockets may look and feel elegant, but my pockets see hard use. They need sturdy fabric in this no-show area, to support the weight of the two sets of keys and cell phone I invariably carry.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Modifications Retard Progress! (Pearly Wannabe Jacket)

The Pearly-Wannabe jacket, I've been blogging about recently, was a challenging project. There as so much I was trying to do. Some ideas worked, some didn't.

I was reminded of a line from a WWII British novel by D. E. Stevenson (Listening Valley). During a card game ( no video games or pre-recorded movies for entertainment in those days folks!), one of the young officers says, "No more mods (modifications). Mods retard progress!"

Of course, I'd created all my mods up front. Looking back on the project I'm guessing I would have been safer just doing button on/off sleeves on my original pattern. My mods definitely got in the way of speedy sewing. But.... well it was a lot of fun imagining the results.

One of the mods I had planned was to bind my hem edge with bias trim made from the flowered home dec fabric. Sounds cute, don't you think?

In practice what happened was that, even when I weighted down the bias trimmed two layers of fleece with leaded drapery cord, I still just ended up with a great, heavy, bunchy hem. But I persevered. I hand stitched. I kept re-laying it out and stitching it again. I made sure things lined up. Then I re-pinned and did it again. I added vents to make it hang better.

And no matter what I did, that hem just looked bunchy, heavy and yucky.

I heard myself saying, Well gee, I've put so much time into getting this hem right. I've got to get this bias trim to work out. And suddenly I remembered a conversation from my very young adulthood.

A work mate was explaining why she was sticking with her lousy boyfriend, Well, see, Jimmy and I have been together for five years.

Yeah, you know what I did then. I unpicked that bias trim and used it to simply turn up the hem behind the bottom edge of the jacket. (I stitched in the heavy drapery cording as well, to make a nice stable hemline)

No bad boyfriend hems in my wardrobe!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Jacket Features (Pearly Wannabe Jacket)

My Pearly-Wannabe Jacket
This not exactly mainstream garment,
suites my arty-romantic California style
In previous posts, I debuted my Pearly Wannabe Jacket and discussed my experiences with the base pattern.

Of course.... I made quite a few alterations to the base pattern -Butterick 3573, a tried and true( T&T) favorite of mine.
Out of Print, but plenty of vendors
still carry this big seller fleece jacket pattern

Jacket Features

1) Button On/Off Sleeves. These were the most important of my original goals for the garment, allowing it a double life as jacket or vest.

2) The Pearly's! I used quite a lot of repurposed / recycled men's shirt buttons both as decoration and also to support the garments usefulness.

3) Separating Sports Zipper keeps me cosy

4) Double layer of fleece front and back is warm. Drill utility fabric, used as interlining, gives it solid structure and keeps the jacket fabric from looking like a blanket.

5) Weights in hem and along the edges of the center front below the zipper give the jacket a more solid feeling as well. I used a combination of pennies and drapery weight cording. A pants hook just below the end of the zipper, helps the jacket to close more neatly, and hang better.

6) Tucks in front and back give a little shaping. I slashed, slit and added to the original pattern shape to add in more fabric that I then tucked back in.

7) Home dec fabric is used as an under collar, for trim and for the button on/off wings. This heavy weight cotton fringes nicely. Integrating the pinks and blues in the home dec fabric with the red plaid fleece, gives me lots of wardrobing options. It means this jacket goes with shirts and blouses that include a variety of colors.... blue, white, red, pink, yellow, green etc.

8) Shirt weight cotton lines the wings and is used in decorative finding.

More on these details to come

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Origins - Pearly Wannabe Jacket

Butterick 3573 is out of print
But several web vendors still carry this classic fleece jacket pattern
I had so many ideas when I began working on the red plaid fleece jacket project I titled The Pearly Wannabe.

I'm going to start by telling you more about the pattern I started with - a pattern I made many alterations to, but the basic fit around my shoulders and in the sleeves remained.

~ ~ ~

I've been sewing this classic fleece jacket pattern, Butterick 3573 for about  eight years. The first version I made was the one on the far left, that buttons all the way up with no collar. I still have it - green fleece with pretty green leaves machine embroidered run up one side. I faced the inside with tapestry print home dec, and added a pocket out of tapestry print as well. The pocket is just big enough to hold my original iPod which was a new device for me when I first sewed this garment. Alas, my current mobile device is too wide to fit! That was when I still only used one layer of fleece.

Since then I've sewn the jacket several more times. I quickly found that I liked making the jacket front and back out of two layers of fleece, leaving only the sleeves to stand alone in one layer. The jacket takes well to ornamentation and cute buttons. A pocket is always nice, though the original pattern doesn't have that option. I tend to make the jacket a little past the hip, with a simple collar. I don't usually button it all the way up.

I've also converted the pattern into a sports vest. Remember when I talked about that in my podcast? I do that by
a) Lengthening the front and back
b) Angling the front and back out
c) Leaving open vents up the sides to about the length of the jacket length
d) Leaving off the sleeves
e) Creating a seam or fold on the center front and sewing in a separating sports-type/heavy weight zipper

I double the fleece on my sports vests too.

In the next post I'll talk about how I changed the pattern.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

El Debut: My Pearly-Wannabe Jacket

Yes, I double-checked 'el debut' really is the Spanish version of the word we often think of as French for 'presentation'

I have been working on this jacket for probably six weeks now. I can't even begin to catalog what went into the creation and imagination of this new adjunct to my wardrobe, though I plan to highlight some of the sewing techniques and items I used in this blog. Several of them were new to me and I plan to use and try them again in less complex projects.

Nor can I say that this garment is absolutely finished. Note the piece of floral binding still hanging down from one of the faux pocket flaps in front. And I keep finding other places I want to add buttons. I don't even dare show you the back! We are not talking a mainstream piece of clothing here, yet it's definitely something I plan to wear in my everyday world.

This Pearly-Wannabe garment (you know about the Pearly's right?) has button on-off sleeves, so that it can live life as either a vest or a jacket. I'm hoping that will make it a useful travel garment.

I'll share more on this creation over time. The base pattern is one I've sewn many times in the past, but altered tremendously for this garment.

After working so long on the Pearly-Wannabe, I'm craving some plain, basic sewing time. I'm already working on a pink flowered shirt (that's where the binding that's going on the faux pocket flap and the lining for the button on/off sleeve wings came from) and have a pair of very simple black linen cropped pants cut out as well.

This jacket, no matter how much she wants to be one, doesn't really qualify as a Pearly. For one thing, all the Pearly clothes I've seen, are solid black, then trimmed with elaborate patterns of buttons. Also the Pearly roles are inherited. And they're British!

What can I say? This gal's a California Pearly!

~ ~ ~

For more on Pearly's


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Technicos Threadin' The Needle (Hand Sewing)

Bet you already knew that Thread the Needle is an old children's game, and also a dance step patterned after the game. I always get a kick from learning more about common events in daily life, by reading about old recreational pastimes. 

Though, in historical times, working with a sewing needle was probably about as typical an activity as other domestic tasks, I've never heard of a game called Wash the Dishes (though let me know if you've heard of one!). I'm guessing that's because dish washing is a more straightforward process. Hand needle threading has always been just ever so slightly challenging. And of course you often come up against it when you least want to deal with that finicky little task. These days we can typically change into another shirt if we rip a seam heading out the door, but only a generation or two ago, that might not have been an option. It was your day clothes or your Sabbath garment. So you quickly threaded a needle and ran up the seam. And it was just as important as it is today,  to get that thread into that needle eye quick-like-a-bunny.

As I've already mentioned in my post about threading a sewing machine needle, a little spit goes a long way. Yes, I lick the end of the thread (and I do wash my hands before I sit down to do this), but I also spread a little, well I just have to say it again - spit - over the eyehole of the needle. Just as in the case of the machine needle, the water molecules want to buddy up, and the thread is more likely to be attracted to the eye of the needle.

My other favorite needle-to-thread technicos include... beeswax. You can buy beeswax in the notions department, but I keep the stumps from the beeswax candles I buy from the farmer's market and use those. (I like to support those businesses because, and I know you know this too,  local honey promotes good diverse hive health, which is one of those save-the-planet kinda things. Agricultural mono-culture is a big concern for the future of my favorite fruits and vegetables.) Beeswax stabilizes the thread and makes it easier to push through the needle - less fibers on the end of the thread to push against that tiny needle eye.

Also I always make sure to cut the end of my thread at an angle. That makes a point that slips through more easily. I learned this from the same Viking Sewing Machine dealer who taught me the spit trick!

These are the tips that keep me in stitches. 

About.com has needle threading tips, including - but not limited to - those I use


Dance Description and cool wood cut illustration from Webfeet

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Podcast Togetherness: Mother-Daughter Sewing ( Ench By Sew-008 )

Hey, the May 2013 "Enchanted By Sewing" Podcast is available in the pod-o-sphere!

Why so early this month?

We Want to be on Time for Mother's
- or is that Daughter's? -

You can listen to the show right on the web by clicking on this linkOr, download this podcast free from iTunes, to play on your favorite mobile device/mp3 player (like an iPhone or an Android), by clicking on this link to iTunes.

• This podcast episode is dedicated to Lori Van Monan, a mother who has influenced my sewing, blogging and podcasting tremendously. Lori is the creator and producer of the long time Sew Forth Now Podcast, as well as the Girls in the Garden Blog, which she continues to host. Lori  (who recently became a grandmother !) continues to sew for her four daughters, who are now young women. She also often shares ways that her mother and grandmother influenced her sewing. Thanks again for sew much inspiration Lori!

Daughter Kristen and her mother Tammy
are sewing cohorts and classmates
in the Cañada Fashion Sewing Program

In celebration of Mother’s Day… Laurel reflects on her own experiences with mother-daughter sewing. She also finds out that this relationship doesn’t always fit into a traditional pattern. This conversation with sewing cohorts, who happen to be related, may surprise you as much as it did the show hostess.
• In this month's podcast I spoke with daughter Kristen, and her mother Tammy in the  Cañada Fashion Sewing Program lab. In the illustration on the left, Kristen is wearing the dress she sewed for class, that we talk about in the 'cast. Below you'll find the alteration Kristen made to the sleeves she wasn't happy with.

  Kristen is a died-in-wool Romantic, like me. You'll hear us talking about this Romance of Hats book just before our official interview time began. Kristen and I both took the millinery class on campus through the Cañada Fashion Sewing Program

Updated sleeves Kristen created for
her purple dress
Stone Mountain and Daughter is a fabric store in Berkley,  is a favorite of many in the Cañada Fashion Sewing Program
o   Tammy is a fan of Katie R. who works there and has helped this new sewer feel confident about choosing fabrics
o   Kristen likes the cotton sateen sold at Stone Mountain and Daughter

-       Tammy is sewing Kwik Sew pattern, hoodie style 3693
o   “Easy and great for beginners”   http://sewing.patternreview.com/review/pattern/66379
Yes! I admit that I bought this pattern from Pattern Review, after hearing about Tammy's plans!!

-         Sewing Velvet
o   Woops, Laurel, when it comes to pressing velvet,  it's a nail BOARD not a nail brush!

• Tammy and Laurel are both into crinkly/ruffled knits
Laurel's Fashion Forward Mermaid Tee
This is the kind of fabric Tammy and I were talking about
sharing a liking for
* This "Bisou Stretch Mini Ruffle Knit" (the link below is for Fabric.Com) is one of the styles of ruffled fabric Tammy and I were talking about. I bought my mint-green version at Stone Mountain and Daughter, and made my "Fashion Forward Mermaid" tee shirt  (above) with it, using a deconstructed (non-finished edge) at the neckline and sleeve edges. (Sorry I can't find a link for this fabric there. If you can find it there- or at some other favorite source- feel free to post a link)

http://www.fabric.com/ProductDetail.aspx?ProductID=1958a8df-d243-4199-a706-f422e4357168Bisou Stretch Mini Ruffle Knit White

This Morton Salt Girl's dress, may well have been Mama's inspiration for my own butter yellow outfit as a kid.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Technicos: Threadin' the Needle (Machine Sewing)

A little spit, safely applied in more than one spot,
Makes sewing machine threading a little quicker
Have you ever heard this tip I picked up once from a Viking dealer? You lick the thread, of course, but you also put a little, (how can I put this delicately?) - ok - spit- onto the eye of the needle as well. The water molecules are attracted to each other.  

Cutting the end of the thread at an angle, also helps make the tip go through better. It is less likely to split and separate into a bunch of ends.

Safety Tip! Make sure you take your foot off the foot pedal when you slide your wet fingers near that end of that needle! You don't want to make a mistake and start the needle going when you're in the middle of a delicate operation like this. We've all heard stories of sewists who made this awful mistake.

If you've got eyes like Daniel Boone, then no spit required!

Sewing Machine Needle Sizing description at about.comhttp://sewing.about.com/od/sewingmachineindex/ig/Sewing-Machine-Needles/Needle-Sizes.--94.htm

Friday, May 3, 2013

Sir Douglas of Britex (San Francisco Fabric Store)

I don’t think I’ve ever entered the San Francisco Sewists Mecca,  Britex, and not encountered Sir Douglas on the first floor.  This man isn't simply a salesman, he's a kindred spirit who shares his love of fabrics with nearly every customer who enters the shop. 

Despite the fact that I’m typically headed for the third floor (notions, trims and buttons), this gentleman always has a kind word for me. I’m also always struck by his gorgeous vests, which seem to be a part of his everyday costume. Vests are a special love we both share, agreeing that they give us that slight touch of formality. They also give this man a real sense of presence, helping him to appear dressed up, without the need to wear a suit jacket. 

You don’t see salesmen, or other professional men, wearing suit jackets in this area, as you once would have done. Despite the fact that Britex is in a very traditional part of San Francisco, suit jackets seem to make men feel overdressed. You'll see them outside, but once a gentleman walks inside, he sheds his jacket. Besides, when you sell fabric you need to move around. Vests allow Sir Douglas the mobility he needs along with the slightly dressy look he wants.

This particular vest is a vintage one. Don’t you love the buttons? I think it's velveteen. I’m also partial to it in combination with this striped shirt and those delicious metal buttons.

OK, you know what happened when I stopped to admire this outfit, and ask for permission to include Sir Douglas in my blog. Yup, two yards of beautiful green and blue plaid wool to make up into a vest for next years cooler season!
Hey, it was on sale!

If you're traveling to San Francisco, Britex is just off of Union Square. It's a short walk off BART (the underground). Use the Powell Street Station. When you're tired of shopping in Union Square, take a walk down Market Street towards the water (ask anyone which direction that is) to the Ferry Building. Pass through the building (I didn't say you shouldn't check out the fun boutique style shops and local artisinal products and often a farmer's market) through to the water side and soak in the beautiful views of the Bay, bridges, islands, sea gulls and the whole deal. Oh yes there are also usually street vendors just before you reach the Embarcadero - that's the last road before the water that runs perpendicular to Market- selling all kinds of fun goods from tables and booths, hand carved special pencils, inexpensive jewelry, bags, etc.