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You are at the start of a journey……

Welcome to sewingjourney.com

I can’t believe this is really happening!!!  I am typing on the keyboard; letters are becoming words and words are turning into complete sentences.  I am writing a blog.  Ahhhhhg!  Just so you know, this is scary and exciting–all at the same time.  Exciting because I love sewing, writing, and traveling and now I get to do it all in one place.  Scary because what if no one reads this blog?  Or worse, what if people DO read this blog and it is lame and boring and now those who know and love me have to be polite and evasive—You know, participate in the literary version of “No that dress doesn’t make you look fat……”   But nonetheless I said a prayer and am plunging in.  No guts, no glory and no fun.

This is a sewing speed date……

When I was learning to set up a blog site I read that you should write an introduction of yourself in the first few blogs. I thought “Really, where is the mystery in that?….”  But what do I know. This is all new to me and I am pretty sure the lovely people at WordPress know A Lot more than I do about writing a blog. So I am starting with an introduction. “Hi.” For fun I thought we could set it up like speed dating.  I get fifteen minutes to introduce myself, share my reason for writing and tell you what you can expect from this blog. Also, I have to use that time to convince you that reading Sewingjourney is such a delight you can’t wait to do it again. Sound good? I do get to go back and edit but nothing more than cleaning up mistakes. Other than that it is like a proper speed date and there is only 15 minutes to win you over.   Okay, stopwatch is set.  Are you ready? 

Hi, my name is Kristi. I learned to sew from my mom and most of the girl’s clubs I belonged to as a kid…..Campfire, Girl Scouts and 4-H. My first full garment creation was a powder blue shift dress I made in 4-H. The fabric was this sweet blue eyelet and the bodice was lined. In those days, you sewed the hem by hand. I probably used a Simplicity pattern and I remember ripping out seams as much as I remember sewing. This is when I learned one of the first important maxim’s of sewing “If you haven’t ripped something out you aren’t really sewing”.

At the same time I discovered sewing I found out I loved to write. During the shift dress period I would also hang out in Beth Leggett’s bedroom while we pretended we were “Little Women” authors writing stories, poems and small books. I tried to write “for real” a couple of times, but I could never land on the thing I wanted to write about. Until now. You, my dear friends have created a perfect intersection for a love of sewing and a love for words. Thank you for giving me a reason. Also I have a super cool idea for throwing in travel. But that will come later.

I sew mainly clothing. Actually, I sew home-made and re-made clothes. Homemade is when I pull fabric from the stash, cut out a pattern and put something together, stitching and ripping as I go. Remade is when I find something cool from a thrift store, cut it up, alter it or make it into something else. My projects are about 50% home-made and 50% re-made.

This is where the magic happens people!

The last detail to share is that I spent many, many (many, many!) years working in education; both as a teacher and principal. So you can definitely expect to see some learning thrown into the writing. You just can’t wash off being a teacher in the shower. And everyone loves to learn. Right?

Ahhhhg! The timer went off. Date’s over. How did we do? Are you thinking you might want to try this again? If you do I promise it will be fun.

A little taste for our next blog.

That’s right, in the next blog we will actually talk about sewing!! You wondered if we would ever get there didn’t you? I have a make and a remake that I am working on. It will be a two-for-one special. See you soon. And remember, “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.”

A cozy dress made with sweater knit from Marcy Tilton.
An oversized top from a thrift store. It’s made of burned out velvet and silk. I have already added some lace and am not sure what I will do next.

Sewing Journey Staycation: The Preview Edition

Hi Everyone!!!

Welcome to the Land of the Umpqua. Your sewing journey for the next 2 days!!!

It’s the night before our staycation and I am as busy as a bumble bee doing preparation work. Here is the rundown……

Supplies and Material: Cheryl chose the numbers 7 and 13 so I went out into the garage and pulled out the 7th and 13th container (with no peeking!). Here they are:

I noticed that they contained mostly fabric so I decided to go into my “Remake Closets” and pull out some clothing(yes, I have sections of closets dedicated to remakes…….please don’t tell on me!!). This will give us options when we create. I pulled the 7th hanger and the 13th hanger from each closet. Here are some clothes we can work from tomorrow.

Outing: Tomorrow’s weather report is awesome. Partly cloudy with a low of 57 and high of 85. Since it is going to be gorgeous, I thought we’d start our staycation with a hike/gentle stroll up the North Umpqua River. (Because we need adventure with our sewing!) We will meet Sewing Sister at her house around 11:00 and then meander our way up the river. Pack some sensible footwear!!

Here is some background about the North Umpqua from the website, www.rivers.gov: “The North Umpqua, a tributary of the Umpqua River that drains a scenic and rugged area of the Cascade Range south of Eugene, is one of Oregon’s most beautiful rivers. Flyfishing, whitewater boating, camping and scenic driving are premier recreation activities. The clear water, large Douglas-fir stands and geologic formations add to the spectacular scenery. The river is known for a variety of resident and anadromous fish species, including summer and winter steelhead, fall and spring chinook salmon, coho salmon and sea-run cutthroat trout. (the picture at the top of the post was taken along the North Umpqua River)

Snacks: I have raspberries and boysenberries in the fridge so I think I can make Berry Scones quick-like in the morning. And strong coffee! Of course, strong coffee.

We will have tons of room to work!

Location: All I have to do is clear off the patio and set up the sewing machine when we get back from our hike/gentle stroll.

Welcoming Committe: Dunkin, Mitzie and Moses are in place and ready!! !

One more remake……..

I told you that tackling “Too’s” was addictive! I just finished one today that I had to show you!! This is a top that Sewing Sister got for me from a Flea Market in Italy. It’s adorable but a little snug. So, sticking with the theme from our last post, I put an inset in the back. Only this time, I used a tea towel. Didn’t it turn out cute!!! Also, I made the strip narrower and put a pleat at the back neckline rather than cutting and fitting it with a back center seam. The remake was quick, easy and hopefully, I can wear the top tomorrow on our hike.

Goodbye Everyone!! Tomorrow is Day 1!!!

Taming the Too’s.

4th of July at the McGree Home

Good Morning!

The picture above was taken while I was sitting in my lawn chair; chatting with a neighbor (6 feet away, of course); watching our other neighbors light off fireworks. It was AWESOME!!! Since COVID-19 changed the look of 4th of July my neighborhood decided to go with the flow. I have a couple of neighbors who have a friendly “Who-has-the-best-Christmas-lights” competition. This year they carried it over to “Who-has-the-best-fireworks”. My neighbor Mike won hands down because my neighbor Don had rotator cuff surgery last week which greatly impacted his ability to light fireworks. Anyway, I made yummy chocolate/peanut butter brownies and passed them out to anyone that wandered within 100 feet of me. They were a big hit. We all social distanced, we all had a blast.

The only downside was for the next few days I had a headache from the smoke. I share this fact so I can make a full and complete confession. Whenever the slightest little thing happens to me, I worry that I’ve contracted the COVID 19. It’s pathetic.

As soon as the headache came on, I Googled, “Is headache a symptom of COVID 19?” WebMD answered, “Headache certainly can be a symptom of COVID 19–but also approximately eleven-million other health conditions.” Good to know. Suitably chastened, I took some aspirin and got better.

Okay, enough of the chitter-chatter. Let’s talk about sewing.

Taming the Too’s

We all have a “Too” or two in our closet. Garments that we like but can’t wear. They are too big; too small; too short; too long; too little; too much; too something. We look at them longingly and pass them by waiting/hoping/thinking one day we will change and the Too will be perfect. Silly silly. We don’t have to change. We just have to turn the Too into something Just Right.

Taming Too’s can get addictive. There is something about taking things from worthless to wonderful that soothes my soul. I have a few Too’s I have been taming that I thought I’d share with you. Are you ready?

This Too started as “Too Tiny!”
  • Too Tiny: I bought this Too at a street “broconte” in Paris. A broconte is a flea market or second hand sale and during the weekends whole neighborhoods will hold them on the sidewalks. Think of it like a giant yard sale where everyone speaks French and there is no yard. This dress was super cute, super French and super tiny. My Sewing Sister (who was with me when I bought it) had the perfect fix.
    • We took out the zipper, cut down the back and found a nice piece of stretchy black knit. We cut a strip about 6-7 inches wide the length of the dress and stitched each side of the back (both fabric and lining) to the strip. This made a back inset. To keep the fabric and lining from shifting around I basted the 2 pieces together before stitching them to the inset.
    • After you make the inset you will likely have to adjust the sizing of the dress. It’s easy! I pinned the dress to fit along the inset (smaller at the waist/wider at the hips and bust) and made sure my fabric was even on both sides. Then I stitched it together to make a center seam, cut out the excess and covered the seam with some beautiful white lace.
    • Tah Dah!!! From Too Tiny to Just Right!
  • Too Short/Too Low-Cut: This Too was another Paris sidewalk/yard-sale dress. (Since we all get to stay home this summer I am traveling through my clothes…..hah!!!). It fit, which was wonderful, but I felt a little too “revealed” in it. I kept tugging it down to cover my bottom and tugging it up to cover my top. With all of that tugging it was hard to walk or move comfortably. I don’t have any “before” pictures of this dress because I was in such a hurry to make it wearable! You will just have to take my word for it.
    • This Too was tamed with my favorite “slip-fix”. I found an large lacy black slip from St. Vincent dePaul’s Thrift store and cut 5 inch piece off the bottom. I opened up a side seam and stitched the strip along the inside bottom of the dress so about 3-4 inches of the lace would peek out below. I double stitched just to make sure that everything held in place.
    • There was extra fabric left from the slip so I measured the width and length of the “too low” area and cut a v-shaped piece out of the remaining fabric. Then I turned it upside down and stitched it into the neckline.
    • Voila!!! From Too Revealing to Just Right!
  • Too Long/Too Tight/Too Boring: Again, I wish I was better about taking “before” pictures!! This dress was a red-white-and blue number that had a lot going for it. It was lined, had princess seams, was a great shade of blue and was extremely well made. But it looked terrible when I zipped it up; the length made my legs look dumpy and it was……kind of a “Plain Jane”. I had to talk myself into tackling this Too, because I didn’t want to ruin the construction. But I took it in stages and am really happy with how it turned out.
    • First I added some decorations. I went with the tried and true hearts motif and laid them out along the left hip in a way that reminded my of heart fireworks.
    • Next, I took out the zipper and opened up the back. Remember how we enlarged the Paris dress in our first example? Did the exact the same thing using a red knit for contrast. Again, I had to adjust the dress for fit, so the inset isn’t a perfect 5 inch stripe. Instead it is a Kristi’s-figure-shaped stripe. But I don’t feel like that detracts from the dress. In fact, I kind of like it.
    • I covered the center seam with a red-white-and-blue ribbon and used the ribbon again across the top front.
    • Finally I turned up the hem a couple of inches, trimmed the lining to fit and attached one more section of ribbon above the hem.
    • Finie!!! From Too long/Too tight/Too boring to Just Right!!

Honestly, I have more Too’s I could show you, but I think we need to cut for time. I will move on……..

Red White And Blue Extraveganza

The Red-White-And-Blue Dress I just finished is part of my 4th of July tradition. I always make a garment (or two) that I don’t quite finish until after the fireworks are put away. It sounds like it would be a problem but the following year I have a brand new item sitting in the closet that I haven’t worn yet. Pretty sweet. Here is my 4th of July collection over the years. Some things are made, some are remade. If I made the garment I will give you the pattern name and number……..

From left to right: A New Look D0596 from last year. It started as a tunic but I lengthened it to a dress; The Red-White-And-Blue remake from today; A Vogue V9193 from 3 years ago–my first effort at piecing panel’s together; A Dunkin Does the 4th of July remake from last year; and another “Too” that I didn’t have time to tell you about.

An Update on our Sewcation:

Of course we are still going!!! In my last post I said it was time for us to go on another Sewingjourney. But, since there are restrictions on travel, this journey will be to my back yard. Here are the details. I’ll set up the sewing machine on the patio and you’ll join me there. We will have yummy snacks (I haven’t decided what to make yet, do you have any suggestions?) and instead of finding our fabric and materials in some exotic location we are going to go to my garage. Yes, you heard me right…..the garage.

This isn’t embarrassing……right?

You see, I have (way too many) containers of fabric and thrift store finds tucked away in my garage. This strikes me as the perfect opportunity to dig into them. To make this interesting, I am going to ask my friend Cheryl J.-who is a follower-to randomly chose two numbers between 1 and 16. I will pick 2 containers that match her numbers and those will be the materials we have to work from. Doesn’t that sound great! I have no idea what we will find. The same rules will apply as every journey, I can use notions, thread, etc from my sewing room but no patterns. We have to sew using our creativity.

The journey (to my back yard) will start around 11-ish on July 10th. We will have 2 days to create something wonderful and I will do my best to make it an interesting adventure for you. Take care my dear friends. Don’t worry about packing a suitcase. Come as you are!!!

Growth Garment Update: The Pink Raincoat.

Nothing to report, nothing to see. Growth garments are supposed to take a long time. Right?

Okay dear ones, it is time to sign off and say goodbye! I will see you again in just a few days. Take care, stay healthy, stay safe. I adore you!

It’s Time; Plus More Help Than I Can Handle.

Good Morning!

It’s time to check in. How are you all doing? Are you well, happy, healthy, confident and at peace? Let me just say, hasn’t 2020 been one for the books??? I often wonder what it will be like 5 to 10 years from now when we look backwards. How will we describe this year and the impact it had on our future world and nation? I hope that the good parts stay and the bad parts become a history we learn and grow better from. That is what I am rooting for.

It’s time to plan a trip. I’d almost forgotten that the name of this blog was Sewingjourney. You know, Journey: “An act of traveling from one place to another.” Or, “An American rock band that formed in San Francisco in 1973, composed of former members of Santana and Frumious Bandersnatch.” We either have to make rock and roll music or take a sewcation.

This is our official town logo. Aren’t you SUPER EXCITED???

A sewcation it is!! Of course, in this sewcation we wont be going far. Probably my back yard. But, a journey is a journey and nothing to sneeze at. This is what I am thinking: We will set up the sewing machine on the patio; make delicious snacks; adhere to the Sewingjourney rules (2 days to complete the project; no patterns; only use materials you can find on the journey) and learn a little history/geography about where I live). It will be fabulous! And since many of you have never been to me house it will be a journey for you. Welcome to Winston Oregon, friends!!! I promise to treat you with first class service.

Let’s plan the trip for early-mid July. How about July 10th and 11th? That gives me plenty of time to work out the details and write at least one or two more blogs before we head out……..to my back yard. (Hah!!)

It’s Time To Make a Growth Garment. I have been stitching up remakes and easy sews until they are coming out my ears! It’s time to up my summer game with a GG (Growth Garment). Here’s what I’m planning…..a pink raincoat with an underlining. I bought the rainwear fabric from Marcy Tilton (of course I did) and the inside lining came from a fabric store in Paris (you know, back in the days when we traveled……). The pattern is Vogue V9340 and says right on the front “VERY EASY VOGUE”. I believe them. I think the coat itself will be pretty easy. But adding an underlining brings it up to Growth Garment status. I have only limited lining experience and don’t think I have ever done an underlining. But I chose an underlining (as opposed to lining the coat) because I can wrap my head around what to do. So, I think it will be easier. I sure hope so.

Before I ramble on any more about linings and underlinings lets get a little knowledge under our belts. According to Sewing.org an underlining is; “a fabric added to fashion fabric for more body and/or opacity. It’s a separate layer attached to the corresponding garment fabric section wrong side, and then treated as one during construction.”

I don’t need opacity or extra body, but I really really like the lining fabric and think it will be adorable peeking out from under the pink coat. The lining is much lighter than the rainwear so it makes sense to attach the two together. Anyhoo, we are going to charge forward and see what happens. Like all good Growth Garments, this baby will probably take a while. I hope no one is in a hurry.

Here is my start. I plan to cut the raincoat first and then cut the underlining, using the same pieces each time. However, my experience cutting out the coat leads me to our next topic……..

More Help Than I Can Handle Or, The Cat Nip Collection

What is it about cats and sewing? It’s like they infuse fabric and tissue paper patterns with cat nip. My cats can be outside sound asleep under the daylillies and the second I lay fabric out on the floor they race inside like its a cat food commercial. Before you can say “Scat!” they are laying on the fabric; pouncing on the pattern; bumping into the scissors; and nudging me while I cut. I tell you, It’s more help than I can handle!!!

Last night, with the help of the black cat, Moses, I managed to cut out 3 pattern pieces. Yes, I said 3. Here is photographic evidence of Moses assisting in the atelier……

And don’t think Mitzie is off somewhere being docile and painting her kitty-nails. Here are pictures of her giving a “helping paw” last week when I was trying to measure and make a change on a dress remake.

Did Karl Lagerfeld have this problem with his cat. Chopette?

It is time to sign off. Okay dear ones, we’ve checked in, updated and made plans. All in all it’s been a pretty productive post. I love you all and pray for you with every post. Take care and I’ll take to you soon.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

From the Book of Micah.

Sewing Through Change

I have this hanging in my bedroom.

Keeping My Center of Gravity.

It is interesting because, almost daily, I get the gift of conflicting opinions. I live in a predominately conservative community that is located in a predominately liberal state. Because of this, I get to see a wide range of views about what happens in our world. Especially these past few months. Sometimes those views and opinions swirl and clash into each other. When that happens I try to remember two guiding principles. One, “Fear Not.” Two, “For God so loved the world….”, (which means the people I love easily and the people I don’t). These two principles create a center of gravity that helps me keep my feet in times of turmoil. It shows me how to honor others, even when I don’t see things their way. It gives me the desire to be better and do better in a world that often gets lost. It gives me grace when I fail. It is an okay way to live.

So I hope all of you are well, happy, healthy and safe. If you are feeling unsettled, consider that you don’t have to move to fear. If you are annoyed, consider that you can feel it and then leave room to love. And while you are at it, create something beautiful.

Beauty for Ashes

Sewing helps me give expression to things I don’t have words for. That is what happened with this Butterick B6388 vest. I made the vest in January after posting about a dress from the same pattern and fabric (the dress is in the ” Double Mint Sewing” post). Although the pattern told me that the wrong side of the fabric would show, it didn’t register and I went blithely forward using single-side fabric. The good news is; it was an easy sew. The bad news was, I couldn’t wear it. What to do???

Well, first I put it in my “get-to-it-later” basket for several months. Then, this week, I pulled it out and said, “Hmmmmm……”

I knew it needed a facing or a lining or something. But I didn’t have enough of the original fabric to cut either of those out of a full piece. And, I wasn’t excited about making a contrast facing/lining. In fact, I wasn’t excited about cutting and attaching a full facing/lining at all!!! So, here is what I did instead…….

I crazy pieced it. I took all of the scraps and pieces that I had left and stitched them onto the underside of the vest. I left my edges raw and didn’t turn or seam anything. Just stitched them on with a zigzag. This is how it looked.

After attaching the pieces I stared at the vest some more. Then I got my embroidery scissors. For some crazy reason I wanted to cut the vest up. I did, and it felt really good! I cut slashes into the white pieces and backed them with dotted mesh from my closet. Sometimes I stitched close around the slashes and sometimes I didn’t.

After slashing I decided to play on the ripply ruffle effect and made trim using the same mesh. The trim went along the bottom of the vest and sleeves. Again, I kept all of the edges raw. Occasionally, I used pinking shears so the edges would match the zigzags. When I was finished with the trim it looked like this……

About mid-way into slashing and trimming I realized the vest gave expression to my feelings about all of the hopeful/discouraging/hard/easy/right/wrong/topsy/turvy events happening in our world right now. Like all good creations, you can read into it what you want.

At first I thought about calling the vest “Crazy Times.” But now, after sitting in my center of gravity, I changed it to, “Beauty for Ashes”. I hope you like my story about making it.

Replacement Pajama’s

A few posts back I had an unhappy experience trying to make some new pajamas. I wailed long and hard about it and then moved on. Eventually I even made some replacement pajamas. Here they are……..

Both pieces are remakes. I added ribbon and a piece from a little girl’s party dress to the bottoms. I added the heart(s) to a comfy tee that I had. Pretty fun, huh?

I also decorated a nightgown for a sweet friend who is standing shoulder to shoulder with her husband as he battles cancer. After taking this picture, I added eyelet lace around the bottom of the nightgown. It was the perfect last touch. Made the nightgown look as sweet as her.

Okay everyone, It is time to say “So Long!” I ADORE you all and pray for you with each post. Take care, be safe, guard your health and love each other.

It’s a Journey, Even When You Are At Home….

Isn’t this Gerber Daisy the best!! So sunny and happy looking!

Good Morning!!!

I thought I would give you guys a little garden update. I have a new flower garden on the side of my house that is the perfect example of how little steps can lead to something amazing. One day, my friend Carol said, “What do you think about making your side yard a little prettier?” I said, “Sure!”

Here is how the area started…..

Pretty attractive, huh?

Here is how it looked after a truck load of gravel and bark mulch; some pots, plants and paver stones.

This was about a month ago when the plants were just starting to take off.

And here are pictures from this morning……..

Five minutes after I took these pictures we had a HUGE rainstorm. Raindrops were the size of marbles; a clap of thunder shook the sky; and the little drizzle that had been gently falling turned into a full-on fire-hose. It was awesome! And everyone moved indoors.

What Does This Have To Do With Sewing????

Well, sometimes we forget that little things add up. It’s not just the work that’s in front of us, its the body of work over time. Recently, I posted pictures on social media of what I sewed during the COVID 19 shut down. There were so many things!!! It took me an entire week to work through all the pictures. Wow, shocking!! I didn’t set out to make a lot of stuff. I just stitched one thing at a time. A-a-a-and, as I sewed, I got better.

It is the same for all of us. Success and progress often comes just from plugging away. We make, we make again, and a little while later we make some more. Over time, all those little steps leads us to something awesome.

She’s a Keeper!!!

So the last time we were together I was recovering from the heartbreak of cheap fabric and hopeful about a new relationship with a New York Skyline quilting cotton. I promised to take it slow, not be too needy and keep you apprised of our progress. I am happy to report that the New York Cotton has been all I hoped for and more!!!! Want the details?

I kept things low key and simple by using the Lotta Jansdotter Esme dress pattern I’ve been playing with (from her book, “Lotta Jandotter Everyday Style”). It was awesome because I used the layout for cap sleeves, which is built into the front and back pieces. This means, dear friends, the pattern only had 2 (count em) pieces!! Whoo-hooo! That is my kind of sewing. On the first date (cutting out the pattern) I took my time with the layout so I could have the Empire State building right in front.

As the relationship progress I jazzed a few things up so we wouldn’t get bored. First, I made bias tape from the main fabric to use on the neck and sleeves. I will be eternally grateful for learning to sew face masks because it helped me to master homemade bias tape. For a bias tape recap:

1. Fold the fabric on a 45 degree angle.


I always tell myself, “Bottom edge to side edge”…..

2. Starting at the fold, cut the strips the width you want. (I used 1 and 1/2 inches for the sleeves, 2 inches for the neck).

3. Dont worry about the length of your strips, just sew the bias strips together to make the length you need.

A lot of people like to use a roller cutter and ruler when they cut. See how I pieced my strips together????

4. Bring the edges together and press. Viola!! You have bias tape.

The next jazzy thing I did was use a slip. Actually 2 slips. Sewing Sister get’s the win on this one. It was all her idea.

First I took a half slip, cut it, turned the lacy side slit upside down and used it to cover the back opening. Then I cut the rest of the lacy bottom to make the back ties.

Then, because I was on a roll, I found a full slip, cut off the bottom and used it to edge the bottom of the dress. What do you think?

In my opinion, lace slips are the ultimate upcycling/thrifting secret score. You can usually pick them up for a couple of dollars and they can be or do anything. I have used slips for sleeves, hemlines, linings and now neck edges. Sewing Sister has made stunning dresses using slips. Slips are the bomb.

Okay, Here is the New York Skyline dress in all of her glory. Sweet, huh? No heartbreak with this relationship. She’s a keeper!

Everyone, I think it is time to say “Goodbye.” Morning has turned into late afternoon and I have a few projects in the sewing room that are calling my name. I adore you all. I still pray for you with every post. Take care and I will talk to you soon.

Oh! I meant to tell you that one of our followers had a birthday this week. It was Diane, from InDiane’skitchen. If you want to wish her a happy birthday you can go to her site or post a comment. Happy Birthday Diane!!!!

I Should Have Known Better…..The Heartbreak of Cheap Fabric.

Good thing to know, huh?

Good Morning!

First let me clarify, when I talk about “cheap fabric” I’m not talking about inexpensive fabric. I adore inexpensive fabric, and for the most part, inexpensive fabric has been kind and careful with my heart. Instead, I am talking about cheaply-made fabric. The kind that sucks me in with a cute print and then leaves me crushed and alone when I realize it can never stand up to the commitment of a long-term relationship. You know, like those cute-fun-totally-irresponsible boys we dated in our youth. Dare I call this, “One Night Stand Fabric”????

Case in point, the kitty-cat pajamas I just finished. I should have known. It was a few weeks ago in the middle of our COVID-19 shut down. I was at the Big Box store that shares my middle name with Sewing Sister (because fabric is an essential business….darn right it is!) and I hadn’t seen her or been anywhere but a grocery store in ages! We were wearing our masks, maintaining social distance, and I was thrilled to be out! Everything I looked at seemed new, bright, shiny and wonderful. As I walked past, the kitty cat fabric meowed, posed adorably on its pink background and said “We want to snuggle on the couch with you, Kristi. Wouldn’t we make wonderful pajamas?” And they were on sale.

This is a close-up of the kitty cat pj’s before they broke my heart. Totally cute, right?

I grabbed the bolt; stuttered though my mask, “One and a half yards please.” to the kind woman behind the cutting counter; and made this ill-conceived purchase without a second thought. (Again, it was a lot like how I dated those cute-fun-totally-irresponsible-boys from college.) Now in the clear light of day, I blame this purchase on being starved for outside stimulation and from the lack of oxygen my brain was receiving by breathing though my mask. Can we all agree on that???

Good, because here is the thing. The fabric wasn’t good. It was cute, but not good. And I didn’t discover this until after I finished sewing it. Again, this is all my own fault. I didn’t pre-wash kitty cat because it was a knit. I figured, “What could happen?” Well, in this case, not pre-washing was like renting to someone without checking their references. A Disaster. When I took the pajamas out of the dryer the neckline sagged and gaped, the pockets fell open all flabby-like, the garment shrunk at least 3 inches lengthwise but seemed bigger width-wise AND the fabric felt weird. Not soft and snuggly—but coarse and disappointing. Big sigh. Here are the sad, yet truthful, pictures……

Sometimes it is best to “cut” your losses and move on!!!

So this is what I plan to do. Call the game and cut the garment apart to save the trim. I am not being harsh or vindictive, I just need to recognize that I made a mistake. It was a case of poor judgement. Just because you make some bad pajama’s doesn’t mean you need to stay with them…..or sleep with them….or even let them sit on the couch with you. I’m getting out my mom’s Gingher’s and saying good-bye to cheap, ill-fitting fabric. After all, I am not a “One-night-stand-fabric” kind of girl. And my friend, neither are you!

On a Happier Note, A Little Preview…..

Here is the front piece of the “New York Skyline” dress I started…..

To cheer myself up, I am making a dress using the Lotta Jansdotter Esme pattern that we looked at in last week’s post (the bias cut, black plaid, frothy petticoat dress). I have this New York Skyline print that has been sitting in my closet waiting and waiting for just the right pattern. This fabric is solid-dependable and looking for a long-term commitment. I am trying hard not to rush into a rebound relationship with it. I pre-washed the fabric, was careful with my print lay-out while cutting and decided to make a few alterations to the pattern.

Here is the back.. See how I pieced 2 different sections together?? I am super excited to see how it all turns out!

I think this dress will have cap sleeves and I’ll make bias tape from the same fabric to go around the neck. I also want to close the neck in the back with a big bow-tie. Thus far, I am really happy with the back because I cut it down the middle and used two different sections of the fabric to give it a little “New York Jolt”. There is lots of stuff to work on. But, like I said, I am playing it cool. Taking my time. Not being too needy or in a hurry. We will have plenty of opportunities to get to know one another and take our stitches one day at a time. I will keep you posted on the progress.

Time to Say Goodbye!

That’s it for now everyone! I love you and hope you have an awesome week! Take care and I will talk to you soon.

Finished the Growth ReMake, Time to Take It Easy.

Good Morning!

This is a wild iris I saw along the trail at Olalla

Dunkin and I are back to walking the trails by Olalla. We have hit the magic interlude where the forests are re-opened after being closed due to Covid 19 but they are not yet closed again because of fire season. Whoo-hooo! I don’t know about the rest of you , but I’ve put on a little poundage during this stay-at-home season. Walking is EX-ACTLY what I need.

TAH DAH–It’s finished!!! The “Making The Cut” inspired Remake.

The loop-de-loop sweater is finished! And what a lot of something it is!!! I dare say, I have out-done myself in outlandishness with this. Couldn’t be more pleased. What I was aiming for was to combine the structure of the loops with a bunch of flow on the bottom. I had this cool Queen-Bee embroidered mesh from Telio fabrics that I was saving for just the right occasion. I think this was that occasion!! See the ruching around the top of the mesh? Sewing Sister is the expert of that!

I also added a zipper to the sweater because of the show, “Making the Cut”. On the last post, I said I was inspired for this remake by an episode where the designers, Jonny and Megan, made amazing jackets with loops. At one point, in this episode, Megan thought they needed to add a zipper to a jacket. Jonny said, “But I don’t want to be known as ‘The Zipper Guy'”. and the left it out. I went ahead and added the zipper. An exposed zipper, no less.

I’m going to flat-out brag………The zipper went in without a lot of fuss or muss. You know, it was just a few weeks ago that the Vogue 1635 zipper-sleeved sweater inaugurated my use of zippers. And I still don’t have a zipper foot! I meant to order one, but it slipped away from me. As soon as I do though…….. I’ll be known as “The Zipper Girl”!

Let’s take one last look at that sweet, sweet zipper before we move on….

Making an Easy Fun Garment (ESG) with Lotta Jansdotter

Does any one else do this? I buy a sewing book specifically because it has patterns included. I think of all the outfits I can sew, all the money I will save NOT buying more patterns (hah!!!) and then…….I never use a single pattern out of the book. Please tell me it’s not just me.

Such was the case with this book by Lotta Jansdotter. And it is a shame. It is a great book. Fun and inspirational. I think I bought it 4 years ago. I loved the prints, the clothes, the ideas. Everything. So why did it sit on my shelf lonely and neglected? I’m not sure. It might be that I was kind of intimidated by the tracing you have to do to find your pattern. In a book like this they put all of the patterns on top of each other on a couple of pages. You have to go through the maze of lines, find the lines for your pattern, and trace them onto a big sheet of paper (I used white freezer paper because it is easy to find at the grocery store). I think, 4 years ago, I looked at the page with all of the lines and went “Whoa Nelly!” And stopped.

But now we have the Sewingjourney blog and this seemed like the perfect project to write about. I have been wanting to make the Eseme dress and I even found a black plaid that matched the picture perfectly. So I got out my pen; laid it all out on the floor and channeled my paper doll days. Trace and cut, trace and cut. Except that the front had a cap sleeve and was tunic length, while the back had no sleeve and was dress length, it turned out perfect!!!

As I thought about cutting the fabric I thought about how teeny-tiny Lotta Jansdotter is and how I am more hmmmmmm…….curvaceous. I am not sure that the up and down plaid design was going to do me any favors. Then I thought—BIAS! What if I cut the plaid on the bias and made the print run diagonal? It would make me look a lot less like an ottoman and be kind of fun. I’ve never made a dress on the bias before and what you’ve never done you don’t know you can’t do. Right?????

I scooted the fabric around so it was at a 45 degree angle. Then I used the points of the plaids to help me keep track of where the straight lines should run. It worked out pretty slick. I also found a Threads article about cutting and sewing on the bias (written by Marcy Tilton, no less!!) and I referred to it frequently as I went along.

I’ll confess, I chickened out on the sleeves. The dress was supposed to have 3/4 length sleeves but I wasn’t sure I could make the sleeve do what it was supposed to do with a bias cut, so I decided to put some lace around the arm hole and wear it as a sun dress. Wait until you see what I did with the lace!!!!!

The pattern called for arm and neck facings but Marcy recommended using bias bindings so that is what I did. And, since we learned how to make bias tape a couple of weeks ago, I made the bias tape out of my dress fabric. Cool, huh!!!

When it came time to hem the dress. I thought I was going to use some sweet little demure eyelet lace around the hem and sleeves. That would have looked nice, huh?? B-u-u-u-t, as I was rummaging around for some lace I found a section of a white vintage petticoat. It was awesome!! All frothy and frilly, like the top of a milkshake. And then I found another section of lace that matched the petticoat AND was just enough to fit the sleeves. So demure went out the window and Petticoat-Junction-milk-shake took it’s place. Here is what I ended up with………….

Plaids and froth, I like the combination!!!

Just putting this dress on is a whole lot of fun!!! And even though it is an EFG (Easy Fun Garment) it allowed me to learn a new skill (cutting on the bias) and practice a recent skill (making bias tape). It was the perfect follow up to the more challenging things we have worked on! I have in my mind a few more versions for this dress. Let’s see what happens.

Time to Say “Goodbye!”

Okay everyone, we are out of time and room. Man, it’s been nice spending time with you!! I love writing Sewingjourney and I am thrilled that you join me. Take care. I love you. Have a great week and I will talk to you soon!

Out of the Skillet and Into the Frying Pan.

Good Morning!

This picture always makes me happy!

I read that one of the unexpected outcomes of staying home during the COVID 19 outbreak is an increased interest in bird watching. According to the New York Times, “With coronavirus restrictions dragging on, interest in bird-watching has soared as bored Americans notice a fascinating world just outside their windows. Downloads of popular bird identification apps have spiked, and preliminary numbers show sales of bird feeders, nesting boxes and birdseed have jumped even as demand for other nonessential goods plummets”.

They continued, “Downloads of the National Audubon Society’s bird identification app in March and April doubled over that period last year, and unique visits to its website are up by a half-million. The prestigious Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York, has seen downloads of its free bird identification app, Merlin ID, shoot up 102% over the same time last year, with 8,500 downloads on Easter weekend alone.Visits to Cornell’s live bird cams have doubled, and uploads of bird photos and calls have increased 45% and 84%, respectively, on Cornell’s crowdsourced bird-logging app, eBird.”

I get it. This spring I have been enthralled by wild turkeys, woodpeckers, chickadees, bright yellow goldfinches, robin’s redbreasts, and even migrating turkey buzzards. Yesterday I watched 3 hummingbirds play in the flower pots outside my sewing room. It was magic. If you have any time in the next few days take a moment to look up and listen. You might see some bird-magic in your own neighborhood!

The Completed Simplicity 8693

Speaking of magic, let’s take a minute to bask in the glory of the completed Simplicity 8693. Didn’t she turn out sweet? She was worth every moment of fussing though facings, bindings and too tight seams.

As you can see, I have my pleated sleeves, put an open slit on the side so that it fits all the way around me and cut a slight angle in the hem. Super cute huh? There might be one more change later. Sewing Sister talked about draping some red knit fabric down from the slit. It will soften up the structure of the blouse and swing when I walk. I am going to wait until we can get together and see how it looks. Do you have an opinion?

So What is the Skillet and Where is the Frying Pan???

Great Questions! I think we can all agree that the Simplicity 8693 was a lot of work. Worth it work, but work none-the-less. That’s why I called it a Growth Garment. And if you will remember back on March 21st (“Why You Should Make EFG’s”) I said “So to sum up: Sew something challenging (a “Growth Garment”) then alternate with something easy (an “Easy Fun Garment”). “.

So am I following my own advice??? No-o-o-o-o! I am jumping straight out out of the skillet of a Growth Garment (GG) into the frying pan of a Growth Remake (GRM). What Am I Thinking!?!? (I know, story of my life……)

It is Amazon Prime’s fault! (Isn’t everything nowadays Amazon’s fault??) This is what happened….. Amazon aired a Project Runway spin-off called, “Making the Cut.” I started watching it and FELL IN LOVE!. Tim and Heidi are back, everyone is pleasant to each other; no one talks trash and I can watch it anytime I want, as much as I want. (which I will freely admit has been sev-er-al times). In fact, Sewing Sister and I Face-Timed and watched it together. After all, if you are going to be stuck at home why not watch people make amazing clothing?? (By the way, those of you in the UK….I am sooooooo jealous that you get to watch the Great British Sewing Bee and I don’t.)

Anyhoo, on episode 3, Jonny (from LA) was teamed up with Megan (also from LA) and they made these jackets with way-cool loops down the sleeve. The only way I know to describe them is like big ruffles that are looped rather than ruffled. I don’t remember seeing anything like this before, but I am sure those of you who are more advanced in fashion will yawn and say “Oh yeah. Loops. It’s a thing.”

This is the frying pan……

I became super-intrigued with the idea of making those loops. I thought I would use a thick black ponte knit for the loops and then attach them to a sweater. I wanted to try it while the idea was burning a hole in my brain and not wait too long. Hence, the Growth Remake (GRM).

My first attempts were sad and pathetic. It’s pretty embarrassing to share them with you. Also, when I rippped them out I tore 2 or 3 holes in the sweater. (Of course I did.) I was ready to throw everything away and give up. But then I had a “Buck up, Sister” talk with Sewing Sister. She recommended going much wider with the trim (“Go at least 6 inches” she said……she was right) Then I had a dream (Yes I really did) that pretty much laid out the process for me. So I was ready to try again.

Oh, this was just SAD. Really SAD!

And TAH-DAH!!!! “Houston, we have loops. I repeat, we have loops!”

Mu-u-u-ch better!!!!

Some Basic Directions….

With important assists from Sewing Sister and my dream, here is what I did: I cut a 6 inch wide piece down the length of my fabric (55 inches). Then I cut a 3 inch wide piece of interfacing and ironed it down the middle. I used the stiffest interfacing I had. After ironing on the interfacing I folded the piece lengthwise (right sides together) and sewed a 1/4 inch seam. Then I turned it right side out to make my strip. Next, I pinned.

In my dream I realized I was folding rather than looping. This is helpful to think about. Instead of trying to make a circle you are making wide folds on the top of your strip and then stitching them close together on the bottom of the strip. When your finished the folds open up and look like loops.

To mark and pin everything, I folded the strip in half and put a pin about 1/4 inch away from the fold. The smooth side was my top side and the seam side was the bottom. On the top side I put pins every 5 inches. On the bottom side I placed them 1 and 1/4 inch apart.

Place your top ( 5inch) pin right over your bottom (1 and 1/4 inch) pin. Then pin it together…….

Go back to your fold. Place the first 5 inch pin on top of the 1 and 1/4 inch pin. Pull one of the pins out and pin both pieces together. Do you have a loop? Perfect!!! Keep going until you come to the end of your strip. You should have about 4 or 5 loops made.

**I found I could make 8 folds with a 55 inch strip of fabric. If you are super bright you are saying “But wait!! If you fold the piece in half it won’t line up and you will run out of fabric!!!” Don’t worry, we will overlap out pieces when that happens. It will work, I promise.**

When you come to the end of your strip grab the other end of the strip, overlap and attach it. Then keep pinning. Do this until you have 8 pins. You will also have 8 pins that are 1 and 1/4 inch apart on your bottom half. Now it is simply a matter of continuing to fold and line the pins up. On the 8th loop/fold you should be all out of room. Pin the final fold to match your first one and get ready to stitch.

Stitching is easy. You just have to watch out for pins. Stitch across the strip at your first fold and at the bottom of each loop (where you have a pin holding it together). At the end, stitch the final fold. Amazing huh? Loops.

I am thinking that someone more “math-y” than I can figure out how to skip the step of joining the two ends together while you make the folds. I just didn’t know how to do it and still have my joined pieces fit exactly at the bottom of a fold. So if any of you do figure it out please share and I will make sure I post your solution.

Not Finished Yet. I still have 2 more element to add to this sweater……it would be waaaaay to easy to stop at loops. I’ll give you an update when I write next week.

The Promised Discussion on Understitching.

Look how long the post already is. Do you really want to go through 5 more paragraphs on understitching??? I thought not. I will just say this. Understitching is good and it keeps your facings from flipping up and being ugly. Whenever your pattern says to understitch you should probably do it. I had to do understitch the collar facings of the Simplicity 8693 blouse and it made a h-u-u-g-e difference.

This is what you do: After you stitch a facing to the main part of your garment, press the seam allowance towards the facing. Then stitch the seam allowance to the facing about 1/4 inch away from the original stitching line. Voila! Understitching. A really good in-depth explanation, with pictures, is presented on the Colette sewing blog. Here is the link: https://blog.colettehq.com/tutorials/tutorial-understitching . Okay, understitching is covered.

A Few Little Dibs and Dabs

I’ve been decorating blue jeans. Here is a super-easy and fast pair of capris I slapped lace onto and then a more detailed long pair that I handstitched a patch onto; added trim at the bottom; left the patch partially open to make a pocket; and added fuzzy trim in the back. For the kitty-cat pair, it took all the self control I had not to add a fuzzy tiger-tail in the back. I hope you are sufficiently proud of me. I also have a Making-the-Cut inspired vest that I added the edge of a crazy petticoat to. I needed a little outlandishness to balance out the restraint.

It is time for me to sign off. Take care everyone. I love and care about you. Let’s talk again next week.

Kristi.

How the GG became a NESP** (translation below)

Good Morning!!

Your “good morning” picture is one from Tuesday night. It is Venus hanging out by the moon. I read that Tuesday was the brightest night of the year to see Venus. It sure was pretty.

What Is an NESP??? One of the residual effects of being an educator is my abiding love of acronyms. I just cant help myself. Any time I can make up a word by using letters from other words I am in heaven. So let me translate the title….. Remember the red satiny metallic blouse I wrote about last week? the Simplicity 8693? I labeled it a GG (Growth Garment) because it had facings, lots of interfacing, a collar; one dropped open shoulder and ravel-ly edges that I bound with silk bias tape that I made from ties. Whew. Let’s all agree it was (and still is) a lot.

Look at it sitting so sweet and innocent. You would never know that it was making me CRAZY!!!!

Well, somewhere along this sewing journey the blouse stopped being a Growth Garment and morphed into an NESP (**”Never Ending Sewing Project”). In fact, just minutes ago, I had to abandon the plan for the hem, cut off the binding around the bottom of the blouse and now I have a furry fray-y mess. Big Sigh.

However, I do have some cool things to show you with this top. First, even though I am semi-stalled for awhile, I am really proud of all the seam and edge binding I did. I think it is Claire Schaffer (couture seamstress and frequent Threads contributor) that talks about making the inside of your garment as pretty as the outside. (Whenever I read that, I try not to roll my eyes like a 16 year old.) However, the binding does look pretty rocking on this top. I might be tempted to try to wear this blouse inside out–except it is so much gold I would look like I escaped from Midas’ warehouse—or that I was a refugee from Doctor Goldfinger’s island. Anyhoo, I do like how pretty all of the seams and edges look.

Also, I went off script with the sleeve. Not totally off-script, just a little. Instead of gathering the sleeve at the sleeve band, (which I thought would be messy and a pain because of the fray-y edges) I made a soft pleat. It was really easy to do and I love the effect. If you want to try a pleat on your sleeve this is what you do: Instead of gathering the sleeve start at the bottom seam and pin your sleeve flat into the band. When you get half-way up pull the excess fabric together and make a pleat. Turn your pleat to the back of your sleeve and pin. Stitch everything down flat. I stitched twice at the pleat to make sure it would hold.

Okay, now that we have looked at some good features of the blouse I am ready to explain my stall out. I thought I was about finished. I put in my sleeves, made the pleat, stitched the bands. Everything was ready to go. Also, to be really cool I decided to bind the bottom of the blouse before I hemmed it. I should have smelled trouble when I realized I put the binding on the wrong side and I would have to turn the hem up twice. But I went blithely on, sure I could make everything work (I know, story of my life….)

Everything was hunky, everything was dory and then I tried the blouse on. Ahhhhhhgggggg! It was too tight at the bottom!!! And not just a little, “Oh, I can lose a couple of pounds” too tight. But awkward, uncomfortable, “this thing doesn’t fit!!!!” too tight. Also, when I added the binding I eliminated any and all give that the blouse might have had at the bottom. What to do?!?!?

First, I took a deep breath, cut the binding off the bottom and I walked away. I put the top back on the mannequin and took a break. Both the blouse and I need a little “time out” from one another. I know what I will do, eventually. I am going to open up one side, connect the open area with some straps that match the strap at the shoulder and make the hem a tad more angled. I’m also going to put interfacing on the bottom of the blouse to help hold the frays in check (idea from Sewing Sister). In my mind it looks like it all goes together. We will see how it looks on the blouse.

Also, I said we would do an in-depth discussion on under-stitching. Can we hold off on that until the blouse and I are on speaking terms? How about next week?

The Promised Creative Stuff

Since the Growth Garment and I are at a teeny tiny stand-still I’ll tell you about some fun upcycles I’ve been working on. If you look, you will notice a resounding theme of eyelet lace. I don’t know why, but something about eyelet hollers “Spring Is Here!!!”. It’s just so gosh darn happy looking. Like meadows and flowers and little baby schmootkins. Let me show you………

Eyelet on the bottom is from “the Mill End” in Portland. Trim around the sleeves are from recycled linens.

So I started by adding lace to one of my inspirational tees. It was quick, easy and I thought pretty cute…….

After the lace tee I wondered, “Could you use a vintage tea towel with this design? How would it look??” This is what I came up with. I had to piece together the oversized pockets but that was pretty fun. Like building your own puzzle. This time I added lots of lace on the bottom and made the tee a sun dress.

Finally, I wondered how it would all look with tie dye. My youngest son came over one day and we made a million-and-a-half tie dye tee shirts. I (again) wondered, “Could you use a tie dye shirt with this design? How would it look??” This is what I came up with. I finished the dress just in time to wear for my son’s 31st birthday. He was impressed by the tie dye. It’s his dad’s and my fault that he likes tie dye so much. We raised him like a little baby hippie when we lived in Days Creek. When he wasn’t wearing tie dye he was very likely running around in the buff with out his diaper on. (don’t tell him I told you that story!!!)

As I looked at the pictures I think the green eyelet is a little too stark and not super flattering in the derriere area. I think it will a slight adjustment. I have an idea. Let’s see how it turns out when I post next week.

Okay everyone, I am out of words and room! Also, I think it is time for the red blouse and I to reconcile and give ourselves one more try at making a go with our Growth Garment. I’m pretty sure I know what to do. I guess I will show you when I write next week.

Take care. Stay safe. Make the most of your time at home. And remember: “Life Doesn’t Have to be Perfect to be Beautiful. I love you all!

Time for Sewing and Living

Good Morning!

This is a picture of basil growing in my garden. Basil is one of my “Summer Straight Ahead” signs and it holds the promise of fresh pesto in the future. (I’ll put my recipe at the end of the post). Basil also got me thinking about my relationship with time (no, not “Thyme” the plant, but “Time” the concept).

Basil takes time to grow, and it doesn’t follow a strict schedule. It is ready to put in the garden when it gets warm (early summer/late spring); it grows and gives up it’s leaves for pesto when it is hot (throughout the summer) and it dies out when it gets cold (late fall/early winter). Basil Does Not mark its calendar to start growing on March 3; plan to grow 4.5 cm a week with a regular check in; and announce it’s retirement on Oct 17th. It never asks me what day it is and it Never checks the clock.

Why am I not more like Basil? While staying home during this COVID 19 epidemic I have had time to notice how much my life is ruled by the clock (also the scale but that is a subject for another post).

For too much of my life, I’ve checked the clock before going to sleep, and checked it when I waking up. Based on the numbers, I’ve decided how I would feel and what kind of day I would have. When the numbers haven’t been what I thought they should be, I’ve decided I would feel tired (or stressed, maybe annoyed or overwhelmed) and that my day would be a chore. When the numbers were something I liked, I decide I would feel rested and happy and the day would be a breeze.

What a weird way to live. When did the clock get to be the boss of me???

And now, suddenly, it isn’t. Time has lost it’s grip. I wake up when the sun is up. I go to sleep when the sun is down. In between, I have time to rest; think; read; write and (of course) sew. I progress and grow at a non regulated pace. Sometimes I spurt up, sometimes I just sit outside and look dormant…like the basil. No one cares and no one is counting. I really like it.

I don’t want to minimize the bad stuff of this epidemic. At all. I am fully aware that people are suffering, getting sick, and dying. Anything I can do to help, support, and assist I am willing to do. But, I am also a big believer in finding the opportunity in everything. I want to walk away from this crazy upside down period we are all going through saying I became a better person. Putting time in its proper place seems like a great way to start.

Stuff I Have Been Sewing……

I’ve been alternating between structure and creativity. Today, I’ll share the structure.

A New Growth Garment, Simplicity 8693

The past couple of months I’ve had loads of fun piddling around with easy patterns and remakes. My sewing brain has been busy applying techniques to new situations and I’ve improved some skills along the way. (making ties with the COVID masks and putting in zippers with the Vogue sweater). Now I am ready to create some new neural pathways and take on a challenge (ie: “The Growth Garment”).

Because it’s getting warmer I am going to make the View B sleeve length, but keep the strap from View. The cuffs will be a compromise, bigger than B but smaller than A.

For my Growth Garment I chose Simplicity 8693. I know what you are thinking….. Simplicity??? How could that be a Growth Garment??? I am totally with you. I thought the Vogue sweater I posted last week would be my Growth Garment. But it turned out that it’s “Easy” rating was accurate (who knew???). So now, in this topsy turvey upside down world we are living in, the Simplicity pattern will be the skills stretcher. And it meets the challenge, having a ton of things I don’t know how to do well.

To begin with, I don’t make many blouses, I tend to favor the forgiving give of knit shirt. But this make is a straight up, no stretch woven. A-a-a-nd, in this pattern I get to interface, face and set in the collar; leave one of the shoulders open and drop the sleeve; make and position a tiny shoulder strap in the exact place to cover my bra, add cuffs, and do lots of understitching (which I don’t really understand). Also, the fabric is super ravel-ly so I get to play around with finishing seams. Whoo Hoooo! My synapses’ are firing all over the place!

I first saw this top on Mimi G’s February blog post. She made it out of a blue satin and it looked amazing on her. I immediately waited for the next $2.99 sale and bought the pattern. I had my own to-die-for fabric that I bought at the New York fabric district. about 2 years ago. I know the fabric is a lot of red and gold to look at; but I feel up to the challenge.

I fell in love with this fabric when I first saw it and am thrilled to find a pattern that matches it’s drama.

I can’t tell you exactly what kind of fiber it is. The top might be a satin, the bottom is some kind of gold metallic. I am using cotton thread and a sharp needle made for metallic fabrics. So far it has stitched like a dream and the occasional stitch ripping has gone off without a hitch. As I said earlier, the fabric is quite ravel-ly at the edges. Remember the Marcy Jacket I made this winter? It is like that. So I am binding the edges and seams with silk bias. Yep, I am FINALLY (!) making bias tape out of my basket of silk ties. How long have I been talking about it? Since December????

Making Bias Tape Out of Silk Ties.

I don’t know why it took me so long. Actually I do know. I was intimidated by the idea of cutting, folding and pressing the silk. I thought it would be hard. However, after all the practice I’ve had making ties for COVID-19 masks (70 or so masks with 4 ties each is 280 ties), bias tape has turned out to be a snap. Here is what you do…….

First, open up the tie, remove the wool batting and press it flat. This takes longer to write than it does to do. Once your silk is pressed flat, you are ready to cut. Decide where to start cutting. Do you want to start from the center of the tie and measure out or from the edge of the tie and move across? There are proponents for both methods so you have options. I started at the edge.

The whole secret about this process is that ties are already cut on the bias. This is why they hang so nice. When you cut down the length of your tie you magically cut strips on the bias. Presto! You are a sewing magician.

After you decide if you want to start cutting, figure out how wide your strips need to be and measure. I was making single fold bias tape so I measured my pieces 2 inches. If I was making double fold I would cut the strips 3 or 4 inches. Again, this takes longer to write than it does to do. I started at the right edge and made dots 2 inches from the edge every once in a while.

As I cut, I aimed for the middle of the dots and went up the length of the tie. At this stage, a girl could make a good case for using a rotary cutter. But that girl would need to have a firm hand and not be wobbly. I tend to be wobbly so I stuck with scissors. Either method is fantastic. After cutting, I checked to see how much tie I had left to make more strips. Unless you are working with a wide 1970’s tie you may only be able to make a couple of strips. But you can piece some of the shorter sections together (that’s what they do with purchased bias tape….check next time) and end up with a good amount to work with.

Look at this beautiful silk bias tape!!! So Fancy! Of course, that’s how we roll at Sewingjourney.

The last thing to do is iron your strips. This is so simple!! Especially if you have already done it for a bazillion and a half mask ties. You know how bias tape folds up into the middle? Do that with your silk. Bring both sides together to the middle and press it with your iron. Then as you continue ironing, pull the strip a little bit taut and keep bringing the ends to the middle. Follow along with your iron. Don’t worry if the edges aren’t perfect, no one is grading you. As long as they basically come towards the middle your bias tape will work wonderfully. After you have finished pressing the strips you are ready to sew. If you are making double fold bias tape fold the tape in half lengthwise and press again. Voila! You have silk bias tape.

Back to the Blouse….

I do best when I make a Growth Garment in small steps. Like the old phrase, “How do you eat an elephant?………One bite at a time.” Which is kind of a weird phrase if you think about it. Let’s try another one……”Inch by inch, it’s a cinch. Yard by yard, it’s too hard”. Okay, that fits well for us sewists. I have it about a third of the top completed and will show you more progress when I write next week. I am going to work on putting in the sleeves today.

When we get back together, let’s plan on having an in-depth discussion about understitching and facings. And, I’ll share some of the more creative things I have been working on. Ooooh! So much to look forward to!!!

Take care everyone, I think you are wonderful. Talk to you soon.

“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”

Colossians 3:14

Recipe for Pesto:

Pick enough Basil leaves to fill up a blender. Put it in a bowl, rinse it and dry. Measure equal parts olive oil, walnuts, and Parmesan cheese (I start with a cup each and go from there). Put about the half of the leaves, oil, walnuts and parm in the blender and start blending. Slowly add the rest. Throw in 4-6 cloves of garlic and as much salt as you like (I like a lot so I use at least a tablespoon). Blend, stir, taste. Blend, stir, taste. When it tastes right and has a consistency of pesto, make pasta or bread and apply liberally. Yum!!!