Sunday, July 23, 2017

The multi-sizedness of Jalie

One of the cool things about Jalie patterns is that they come in so many sizes. That is useful for those of us who have family members who come in so many sizes.

Case in point.

My grandson Billy turned 3 today. My daughter told me he needed summer pyjamas.

Billy is what they used to call in the old days a husky size. 

His dad is 6'5" his mom is 5'10" and Mr. Billy is big boned and built like a hockey player, just like his dad.

As my daughter explains it to get something to fit his waist and hips it is miles too long in the legs, and the reverse is also true.

This stuff makes total sense to a sewer - one size in one area of the body, another everywhere else- we live in that territory every day and know exactly how to deal with it.

The problem is of course that when I got the PJ request I didn't have a pattern on hand so I went rooting around in my Jalie stash.

This is what I used to make this 3-year-old something to wear in summer trailer down on the Shore Road in Judique, Cape Breton:




I was able to find Billy's measurements in each pattern and here is the result, the only change being that I used my own cross-over V neckline because I find it easier. 

For fabric I used some striped rayon knit I got as a freebie from Fabricmart many years ago and never could figure out a use for, but for these pjyamas I thought they were perfect. So perfect in fact I also made him along sleeved, long legged, crew neck version for winter.

How could you not want to sew for a guy like this?



Saturday, July 22, 2017

Hélène Cardigan and Talia pants




I have made both of these patterns before and since I liked them both I decided to make a sort of informal pants suit out of the pair of them.

The Hélène cardigan from Jalie is probably one of the most enjoyable patterns I have sewn in a long time. It is interesting to see how it goes together and it provides a more tailored looking cardigan in a knit (which is why my white version ended up being my daughter's lab coat) than most other patterns.

For this version, since I knew I was going to wear it with pants, I lengthened it by 2", also helpful as I am tall. I am not sure if I will add that much next time, but it works here.




I used the same ottoman knit for the jacket that I used for the knit Adeline dress a few posts back and I used some rayon challis for the pants. I made these short as per current style and they are so comfortable.

The Talia's have a flat front and an elastic waist only at the back which is flattering and eliminates bulk where I don't need it.

A pretty easy pair to sew and very practical.



Next, after many months of doing basics sewing and sewing for folks in the family I am stepping out and trying new patterns to wear in the pool with the kids.

Brace yourself for that one.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Adeline dress in woven

A post or so ago I showed you the knit Adeline dress by Stylearc I made and loved.

Of course despite the fact this is a woven pattern I found it was very successful in a knit.

Well yesterday a group from my sewing guild met for a sew and BBQ day and I decided this would be a good time to make up a house dress version.

I really think there is a role in life for house dresses.

You know what I mean.

Dresses in sturdy fabrics that are fine for vacuuming with pockets to put in the weird spare stuff you find on your floors and must pick up. Dresses that are great to throw on when someone comes to the door and you and the dog are just schlepping around eating cereal and drinking tea at 10:00 a.m. Dresses that don't require much maintenance as in ironing and don't stick to your body or restrict your movements so you can pull the green bin to the curb in them and then go shopping.

The sort of dress that requires your only accessory needs to be underwear and flip flops.

Well I had just the fabric for a dress like that, a sort of cotton printed duck that I picked up once at Hobby Lobby because I liked the colours.

We had a great day BTW. I like to see what everyone else makes and the hostess, Cindy, has a to die for sewing space in her basement.

So after I finished my dress I threw it on and we did a few quick shots.

What is most interesting about these shots is the background. My styling apparently didn't involve the sense to brush my hair after I had pulled this dress on.

This may be one of my all time favourite patterns, and certainly is not the last one I will make.

Now is this a house dress or is this a house dress?




I love it!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Mistakes sewers make

Feel free to add to this list, most of which was generated by my own mistakes over time. 

Some times I learn my lesson, sometimes I don't.

Here we go:

1. Using up some really good fabric on the wrong pattern because of some dumb head idea that just because you have had it on your shelves for decades it is time you used it to make something. Guaranteed about six weeks after you do this the absolutely perfect pattern for that fabric will show up.

2. Spending huge amounts of time altering and trail sewing the same pants pattern again and again instead of just trying a new pants pattern from another company that just might draft closer to your shape.

3. Killing yourself making a everyone should have one in their wardrobe item, like a hand stitched Chanel jacket, when you know in the back of your head the shape doesn't suit you, and that you are more the kind of lady who makes lunch than the kind of lady who lunches.

4. Having a little bit of thread on all your bobbins and winding not enough for current projects over each one.

5. Cutting out a multi sized pattern because you are too tired to trace it, and then realizing that you want to sew a different size next time.

6. Sewing black fabric with black thread after 10:00 p.m.

7. Not using the pressing cloth because you are in a hurry.

8. Thinking the stitching will look better when you turn it over to the right side.

9. Adding a few inches to the bottom of a pattern and marking that and then cutting out along the pattern pieces, cutting away that extra you wanted to add.

10. Using a light coloured interfacing on a dark fabric because it will never show will it, until you cut those buttonholes open.


That's a start. 

Time to go to bed. Have company this weekend and just realized that I have also volunteered to babysit my daughter's moose sized Golden Retriever male adolescent who likes to sit on people, even those who have allergies.

This list will definitely be continued.

By me, and by you.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Adeline dress in knit

I have the Stylearc  Adeline dress cut out in a specified woven fabric and will be working on that over the weekend. 





But when I had some really nice heavy Ottoman knit left over from a cardigan project (probably should have had that review up first of course) I decided to see how this pattern looked like in a knit first.

The knit worked very well. Basically I love this dress and love this pattern. I am going to wear it right out, I can tell.

Not a lot to the dress from the sewing point of view, but what there is has been very well-drafted. The V-neck is faced in the woven version instructions, but I changed this to a simple cross-over V for my knit edition. The dress also has cut-on sleeves that can be rolled up, and big pockets that I didn't put on here as I just was too short of fabric.


My standard cross-over V neck 

In fact to squeeze this dress out of my remnant yardage I pieced the back at roughly waist seam level. Not ideal but hopefully looks as if it was meant to be.

Obviously a super comfortable dress to wear and a very fast sew.

The Adeline has a higher at the front hem ( I just cover hemmed this) that is not too extreme but I think makes for a nice side view:



As you have probably figured out a long time ago I am more a sew it and throw it on and get a fast picture taken kind of blogger than a thoughtful one who puts time and energy into styling. I just sew and then take a picture and run off to sew something else. I do realize that this does show in my shots but hopefully you can still see enough to do the pattern justice.

These shots were taken as I jumped out of weeding and grass cutting clothes (you can see why those were needed in this picture - but note too the nice vegetable boxes my husband has on the go too) and it apparent why those who are more careful have such nice pictures.

The bright sunlight shows for example why women of a certain age IMO would do well to wear hose whatever the style folks say otherwise, and that knit dresses really do benefit from better than gardening underwear.

That said I did put on different accessories on this dress which made clear to me how broadly useful a style like this is.

First I tried the dress on with my favourite gift to self necklace  -I bought at the height of my empty nest attack from which I am now mostly recovered -  and some suede shoes.


Three eggs for three kids, I am pretty sure I bought this just after having put some kid on a plane a few years ago

Next, when I realized how comfortable this dress was I got to wondering if it was something I could also dress up so I ran in the house and got my favourite dressy shoes and some jewellery - totally matchy of course, but then again I am at the stage of requiring hose so that might be as expected.

Here is the dressed up version and those shoes:





This is such an wonderful pattern I know I am going to make a few more for sure. I haven't given much thought to the cocoon shape up to now but can really see how flattering, in a not sloppy way, it can be.

We will see how it looks in a woven next.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Flypaper thoughts morning in July edit


  • My daughter and I in the fabric store
  • I have to go to a wedding
  • What do you like best?
  • The turquoise, the shocking pink, or the coral?
  • What about black?
  • No black, done with black
  • Besides it's a wedding
  • OK. What about navy?
  • Yes I could do navy. I have navy shoes and a bag
  • You mean match? No you can't do that.
  • I like to match
  • Mom no. I mean it
  • So what am I going to wear?
  • How about grey?
  • Let's get those buttons. I can come back later.
  • Offline for the last week because I have been doing childcare for seven days
  • And helped my Texas bound son clean his place
  • Out where he lives there is a sign on the church
  • "Blessing of the surfboards Sunday"
  • Church a block away is selling ice cream cones every afternoon as a fund raiser for Cuba and Uganda
  • Good for instilling values
  • As in any more hitting and no ice cream all summer
  • Have made a few things but need a photographer over the age of 7
  • Got to wait for the weekend to do that
  • Got a Singer Rocketeer for $50 from a man who had it set up in his backyard on a table
  • Sounds so smooth
  • But needs a major cleaning
  • Read you can soak them in kerosene overnight in a bucket
  • Got a feeling I am not going to be doing that
  • Got it to run a old template buttonholer
  • Excited and want to do a post on that
  • Have so so many sewing projects in my head
  • Think I may make a few bags
  • My wallet is shot
  • Pretty excited about that
  • Let's face it 
  • My sewing is not on the edge
  • It's right in the middle
  • Now off to remind everyone about the church ice cream

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Insta T shirt with experimental neckline

I am in need of some of the most basic of  T-shirts for my summer. I will be taking care of the kids 2 and sometimes 3 days a week in addition to my teaching. I am planning on doing a fair bit of running around and a lot of it outside.

It's good for me to be so busy. I am in the process of getting my head around one son relocated to San Francisco and one to Austin Texas, and although I am very pleased for them - both moves represent great promotions- as a mother situated here in Nova Scotia I am still taking in that this is what the family now looks like. I am finding hanging out with younger children and a toddler very therapeutic while I reconfigure my life a bit. 

Of course sewing is my most grounding activity.

Which brings me back to T-shirts. Since I am in the mood for quick and positive results I have pulled out Jalie's Dolman top which of course also has a sleeveless sort of cap sleeved version.

I whipped this one up pretty fast in some cotton single knit I had lying around.

As you all know single knit really curls to the right side so feeling reckless I played around with the neckline a bit.

I cut the neckband and rather than folding it in half instead I  stitched it single layer to the inside of the neck, right side of fabric to wrong side, flipped it to the right side, and zig zagged it down letting the raw edge just hang out about 1/4" past this top-stitching.

Of course this raw edge rolls into the neckline and to my optimistic eye looks sort of like piping if your standards are fairly fluid:




I am pretty pleased with this since I usually don't sew this randomly, as in raw edges.

Here's the full shot of the T-shirt. A very nice simple summer pattern:



Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Flypaper thoughts emergency sewing division


  • Miss Daisy had a small benign thing removed yesterday from her belly
  • Despite my best efforts and a $35 cone she has ripped her stitches out
  • My vet is in Iceland with my middle son at a friend's bachelor party
  • Don't ask
  • The wedding is in September in Monte Negro
  • You know that one of their friends took his girlfriend to Europe to propose
  • He changed his mind and mailed the engagement ring back for his mom to deal with
  • Mailed it in a sock
  • Back to Daisy
  • Went to the covering vet today who is about 95
  • He told me that dogs in the wild have wounds and no stitches and not to worry
  • My niece who has done a term of nursing and is a genius says it is too open
  • We tried to close it ourselves with steri strips
  • Booked in to see someone else tomorrow
  • In the meantime I am in bed with a dog with an open wound who is trying to get at it
  • Stupid collar cone thing might as well be in Iceland for all the good it is doing me
  • So jumped out of bed and cut up some of the husband's underwear
  • He is out of town
  • Needs new ones anyway
  • Serged it down to Daisy width and sewed the inseam by hand while it was on her to get a good fit
  • Fruit of the loom dog shorts
  • Kneeling on my bed with a needle and thread
  • Student of mine from Newfoundland said she had a friend who sewed so well 
  • She could sew the ass on a cat
  • Well not the only one
  • Publisher said I should do sewing videos
  • You tube here we come
  • Have made a dress and a cardigan this week I love
  • When we get Daisy's seam done I will post pictures
  • Thank goodness rhubarb is in season now
  • You can't beat a nice rhubarb crisp in times of crisis
  • Off I go to the fridge

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Jalie Stretch City Coat pattern review

























On my recent trip to San Francisco I knew exactly the jacket/coat I needed, both there in the misty mornings and at home in the windy and wet days here in Halifax.

Unfortunately I didn’t have exactly that coat with me on my trip. However the first thing I did when I got home was start sewing one.



Jalie’s Stretch City Coat pattern has been around for a while. Many folks have made it, and many of them have made it in a woven, just using a larger sized pattern. I really wanted to stick to the original intent and so having been keeping my eyes open the right stretch fabric for a couple of years now.
I finally found it along the back wall of my local Fabricville.

I decided to use a grey outerwear fabric with a micro fleece bonded to the inside. It is a pretty interesting fabric. The outer side is a tightly woven poplin, much like commander if you have sewn that, and the inside has a very fine micro finer fleece bonded to it. Perfect if you want weather resistant with a little warmth but without the hassle of putting in a lining.
I found this fabric very easy to sew. I used a standard sharp needle and polyester thread but I did lengthen my stitch length to 3.0 for construction and 4.0 for top stitching. There is a fair amount of volume to this fabric, sort of bouncy like Ponte and I felt that the longer stitch length was just more compatible with it.

I made a few changes to the pattern.

First I couldn’t decide on whether or not to do the collar or hood view – one is dressier one more useful – so in the end I made the collar view but sewed the hood up as a separate unit and added three snaps to the back of the collar stand so I could snap on the hood as needed. I placed one snap just a half an inch or so from the end of the collar stand on each side and one at centre back on the back of the stand on the jacket. I then just sewed three snaps on the inside of the hood to match.

This is a bit of a pattern hack and I do realize that one result of that is that the collar has to stand up when the hood is attached. You might think this looks weird but living in Nova Scotia I have no problem with as many rain barriers as I can get. I have also convinced myself that this detail looks edgy and works with the techno nature of the fabric. If you disagree, don’t tell me.

The other variation I made was to change up the suggested buttons and buttonholes for big sew-on snaps. I test sewed a few buttonholes and they just looked small and wimpy to me in this fabric so I went back down to Fabricville and got these wonderful snaps – large ones for the coat and smaller ones for the hood/collar attachment.




A word on the snaps. I have observed in RTW that the stitches for big fashion snaps like these go right through to the right side of the fabric. Once you get your head around this, and the fact that your hand stitches might not be 100% perfect and that is OK, this are easy to stitch on. Each snap has two holes at each corner which I used in the coat but for the smaller collar snaps just sewed them on through one hole as we are used to doing with snaps.

Use a biggish needle and I really recommend a buttonhole twist or heavier thread for the snap sewing on. The metal of the snaps tends to break an ordinary construction weight thread. I should note though that sewing on all these snaps carefully took a bit of time. I probably spent two sewing days to make the coat and about three sewing nights to do the snaps.

Finally pockets in this coat are interesting – sort of free floating square bags that the pattern instructions tell you to tack to the facings, giving you a reference to an illustration that seems to be on longer available on Jalie’s site.

As a result I sort of improvised here and folded the pocket bags slightly vertically and did a short row of machine stitches to secure the pocket top and bottoms to the facings. This actually seems to work quite well, holding the pockets in place so they don’t flop around but not pulling on the facing.



I really am very pleased with this coat – it has a combination of style and function that really appeals to me. I know I am going to wear it a lot – both at home and when I am on tour visiting.

  




Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Swiss Army Knife of Jackets?

For reasons that are a mystery to even myself I have decided I need a completely new wardrobe and style.

Did a big purge yesterday and thought to myself that it was time for a change.

Not sure what that looks like but since my children keep moving around, it will involve some travel clothes.

Having being back from San Fransisco about two weeks I am naturally now starting my sewing for that trip.

Currently I am making the exact all weather jacket I will I had when I was there. Next will be the dress I wished I had and the five tops I really needed.

Back to the jacket.

When you travel even if that means just out your front door (something I should be doing right now because I have three dogs to take care of - see traveling children above) comfort and practicality are important.

When brings me to this little beauty:


If you are in the mood for a smile today, I really suggest this video:




Now if I can get all these dogs walked I might actually get some sewing done today.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Designer details and new lessons

One afternoon when I was in San Francisco it started to rain. I ducked into Neiman Marcus and headed up to the floor with designer clothes to have a look.

Being very Nova Scotian I went up to the sales folks and said listen I am not buying, but I am a sewer.  I would like to look at the clothes and take a few pictures if you don't mind.

They didn't mind at all and in fact took me to clothes with particularly interesting design details that we talked about. 

What a nice afternoon. 

Sometimes you know when folks think you are from the middle of nowhere they cut you a lot of slack to be honest. In the middle of nowhere you figure out that pleasant goes a long way and most people are really nice.

I had a huge take away from this day that I want to share.

Sometimes when we think of designer details or sewing designer style as in Chanel jacket projects or LBD we tend to work from classic interpretations of technique and forget to look at what designers are doing now.

In my little foray I learned this.

Designers are keeping up and changing. Like every other area they are embracing technology. Sergers are being used actively for new techniques. 

For the home sewer learning from designers can mean as much about learning how to do new things as learning how to do it the old way.

So here are some of the details I found most interesting. All with ideas we can all use. Note too that there still is much handwork but it is strategic not pervasive. I found this interesting.

First a hanging pocket. 

This was in unlined Armani double knit wool jacket with serger together seams bound with Wooly Nylon. Because the outside of the jacket was simple and clean the pocket bag was suspended by four long sturdy serged thread chains from the seam allowance, inside the jacket. From the outside there was no indication of a pocket- on the inside there was a place to put your phone:

Sorry about the fuzzy picture I only had two hands to work with, hopefully you can get the idea

I was also quite take with another unlined Armani coat - in wool where the seams were made by lapping one layer over the other and the raw edges of each layer turned under and hand stitched to make seams without stitching lines. At the edges the layers were turned to the right side on the buttonhole side to make a binding look and under on the button side:


The same jacket also had a knit collar I thought was both beautiful and would be very comfortable:



I saw a lot of serged seams. In this knit dress the serger seams are made with close set stitches with wooly nylon in the loopers so it looks almost like binding:


I was also interested to see some novel bindings. This dress by Dior has the neck and armhole edges covered with grosgrain ribbon, laid on and stitched versus folded. I thought this looked nice and crisp with the seersucker stripe:


The use of ribbing as opposed to classic binding was interesting in this jacket by Chanel - I thought it looked nice and modern and will be borrowing this idea myself. I thought it was beautiful, and without the old lady, Rose Kennedy look, I feel in some of these jackets;


Finally my favourite. 

A simple navy silk duping shirt dress lengthened to floor length. What I particularly liked about this dress was that the concealed button placket actually gets wider as it goes down the dress, keeping the proportions of the flared skirt perfect. 

We could make a dress like this, couldn't we?



Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Pattern review: two new Jalies

I am in the process of experimenting with new shapes and styles.

I mean why not?

What I wear day-to-day matters to me. I want to be comfortable and I want to be interested in what I have on. I enjoy wearing new clothes and new to me styles. Some times this works out and sometimes it doesn't in as in a  "You have to be kidding" evaluation from my eagle-eyed daughter.

Right now I am trying out new pants shapes. 

It's a bit of a campaign.  I am getting sort of sick of the slim pants and then the long top to hide the gut routine. Maybe I want to dress without feeling there is a part of me I want to hide. Having to think like that gets sort of tiring.

Any of you identify with this?

So when the latest raft of Jalie patterns came out I realized they presented me with some opportunities to try out something I never thought I would wear. 

Never want to get to be a rusty dresser. 

Also the Fabricville at the bottom of the street now carries Jalies and they also have some nice tencel pant weight and some very silky bamboo.

This was all I needed.

So fooling around I decided to make the Vanessa fluid pants and the Marie-Claude knit top.

Here are the pattern pictures:




The Marie-Claude is a raglan T-shirt with a shaped hem and a fairly high crew neckline, with an option as well for a turtleneck or a close hood. 

Given it is now spring, even in Nova Scotia, I decided to make the crew neckline. The result is what I would call a base layer type top, fine on its own, particularly as it has a body skimming as opposed to very fitted silhouette, but ideal as a top to wear under a jacket too. 

It seems these days that many necklines are either scoop or boat neck and I really enjoy wearing a comfortable round neck for a change. I can see this pattern could easily be made in a lycra for a sunshirt to wear around the pool with the kids and I think I might trace a smaller size and do just that.


I made a few changes to this top in my version. First I lengthened it by 2”, something that was super easy to do as the top pattern pieces are one lower section and two different top sections (one for the front and one for the back) that you lay above the bottom pattern pieces to cut each out. It was easy to just spread the pattern pieces apart at 2” at this point. I am tall and this extra 2” is an almost automatic adjustment for me.



I twin-needled the hem of the top but the sleeves have a band at the bottom - there is a slight little boy p.j top vibe going on here that I like. Little boys are generally very comfortable.

The Vanessa tracker pants are excellent. For some reason all us home sewers for years struggled with pants fitting and now we finally have access to great pants drafts with real ready-to-wear fit. This seems to me to have eliminated so many of our fitting issues. And about time too.

Not the most flattering picture but this view really gives you an idea of the shape of the leg


These pants really require a fabric with drape, indicated quite clearly in the flowing pants description, so the tencel is perfect. 

They can be made with either the elastic at the bottom, which I did, or hemmed, which I might do in the next pair. The pattern has interesting nice deep pockets and a flat section at centre front the break up the gathers of the otherwise full elastic waist casing. This flat piece is supposed to be a place for eyelets and a drawstring but I left that detail out in mine – I don’t like or need any extra bulk around my waist.

I also made one change to the pants after I had worn them for a day and surprisingly this was to shorten them 1 ½”.

I decided after having observed other folks wearing tracker pants (OK so these were bearded mean barrelling past me on bikes on the streets of San Francisco) and it seemed to me that theirs were sleeker at the bottom than the sort of bloused look I got when I tried out the length specified in the pattern. As a result I shortened these pants before I signed off on them.

It's pretty cool to have two new patterns turn out so well. 
Nothing like instant TNTs!