Tuesday, September 30, 2014

When the Roommate Gets Mad...

For some reason, I have a lot of sunglasses.  Actually, I know quite well why: I'm a fair-haired, blue-eyed human who's lived most of her life at high altitudes or in very sunny places, or both.  Skin & eye cancer are both worries, so I always wear sunglasses.  However, I never pay more than $8-10/pair (honest, guv!), and sometimes even less (i.e., free Bike To Work Day specs!). 

But where to keep them has always been a problem. At various times they've lived on top of shelves, in a small table by the front door, or in a cardboard box in a shoe cabinet.  I have scoured the web & Etsy, looking for one great idea, and typically only found something that stored 2-3 pairs (haha!).  My last try at organization was this hanging shelf/hook/bin combo, no longer available at Crate & Barrel, which is pretty great and worked okay. Except trying to get one pair out usually meant 2-3 other pairs fell out; not the best way to have a smooth entry at 6:45 a.m. And there are hooks underneath those specs, which go to waste.  Plus everything was unstable, so the slightest flounce of a raincoat or scarf often meant a cascade of glasses, scaring the cat & irritating the Roommate.  

(This is all in the mudroom, BTW.  We have almost no storage by our front door, so it would be even messier if I tried to move them out there.)

Which brings me to the Roommate.  He rarely makes any type of negative comment about something I'm doing (I really have to be doing something bad or ridiculous), so when he became quite irritated last week & said, "Well, it wouldn't be such a problem if you didn't have so many. And we can't even use the hooks!"  Which is a reasonable comment.  So I got to thinking about what I could make that would fit all my sunglasses, but not take up too much space and would work with the hooks on the bottom of a mirror we already have there.  

I had some heavy duty interfacing (possibly for a smocking idea), so decided to use that, plus scraps. At first I was thinking I'd make narrow pockets.  But I ran that idea by a coworker who suggested grosgrain ribbon sewed at varying widths and angles. I don't have any grosgrain, so decided instead to make strips, also out of scraps.  I'm so glad I got her opinion (thanks!).  

You can see it here, on the left.  I made a little strap with a snap to go through the triangle-shaped hangers that were on the mirror when we bought it (I've never figured out what they could be for), so it didn't make a new hole in the wall.  

It's not super pretty, but I just wanted to use up stuff, so wasn't worrying too much about matching.  I also suspected (and I was correct) that once I got all the sunglasses on it, the mismatched fabrics wouldn't show.  

As you can see, it's got plenty of work to do! When I showed the Roommate, he was super impressed (he always is--enthusiasm honed from years of being an elementary teacher).  

Now they are easy to find, easy to take out and put away & there's plenty of room for more!  

Best of all, the original organizer is more useful, now, too.  We're making good use of the hooks and the pockets, as you can see below...  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Meanwhile...back in DC

Apologies for not having anything to show in the way of sewing; I'm hoping to do some finishing this weekend. 

 In the meantime, I wanted to let you know about ScrapDC's Rebel Craft Rumble, which is this Saturday evening, 9/27/14, in DC's hoppin' Columbia Heights!  If you've ever wondered what Project Runway would look like when crossed with Iron Chef, here's your chance to help out plus support ScrapDC, a non-profit which inspires environmentally sustainable creative re-use!  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What I'm Working on (More on Vintage Pledge 4) #vintagepledge

Brief update on my Vintage Pledge 4, McCall's 5297. (See last week's post for my rant on fitting.) You can see the gorgeous batik I'm using for the jacket (on sale at Hancock), and the blue is some silk I've dyed to match for the lining.  And speaking of linings, there's Connie Long's masterpiece, Easy Guide to Sewing Linings.  

About that silk (which I also used on this Vintage Pledge item), it's silk habotai, 5mm weight, from Dharma Trading.  In order to get a "deal," I bought a whole bolt (about 50 yards).  I must be nuts!/But it was a deal!  I'm slowly getting through the 50 yards, but it will take a while.  If I ever get all the projects done that are in my head, it will be used up; I promise.

I also would like a bolt of 8mm habotai.  This 5mm silk is lovely, but very light, and it needs to be sewed down as it doesn't have enough weight for gravity to keep it down.  For example, I'm thinking of making a slip with it.  And I will probably just double the fabric for all the parts, so there's a bit more weight and it will behave under a dress.  

Also, I mostly buy my dyes from Dharma, too, because silk dyes are special.  Meaning that if you buy non-silk dye (like Rit), it will work great on cotton, but won't do a thing for your silk.  Follow directions carefully, and don't use your dying utensils for anything but dying.  I keep all these items in our basement, well away from the kitchen.  

Finally, I'm still having a few more fitting issues, but I think I'm pretty close to getting this pattern modified to suit me.  If I get a princess-seamed jacket that fits me out of this torturous fitting process, I will be pretty darn happy.  Wish me luck!  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Vintage Make Four Progress Report: McCall's 5297 from 1976!

Sometimes I'm not sure why I sew.  It makes me pay a lot more attention to my body much more than I like to and I usually end up feeling like I'm a freak because NO pattern ever fits right out of the envelope!  And then I decide, "Well, I can modify this so it will fit really well."  Even though previous fitting experiences have been quite frustrating, with no clear lessons learned, and no actual pattern at the end that I feel can be used again...so frustration without reward.  As I said, why do I sew?!  And why do I think I can make something fit?!  

Sorry for the rant!  Onward!  
This dress needs a matching jacket.  I have tried a couple of different versions of the one in the pattern (See & Sew B5699), but wasn't thrilled with them.  They're okay, but not that great.  So I was getting ready to go ahead & cut my lovely navy wool & silk/rayon lining (thank you, Mood!), and decided, no, let's try something else.  Digging through my pattern boxes, I came across McCall's 5297 from 1976, which my mom gave me recently. (I think she might have made it for my sister?  I don't remember it being for me.)  Anyway, the jacket looks good, it's with princess seams (which always work better for me), and I just want to shorten it & round it a bit, so it's a bit more like this Mohammed-Make out of some of my beloved West African fabric. I get a lot of use out of this jacket, wearing it over tops or by itself with skirts and dresses.  

So I started a toile/muslin.  And was quickly reminded that even though princess seams are pretty good for fitting me, they're not perfect either...even this wonderful jacket from Mohammed is too loose at the waist.  So, I started playing with 5297 & ended up making it a bit more like the one above. Specifically, that meant turning the front side piece into 2 pieces, like the jacket above.  Essentially I went from 4 jacket front pieces (not including lining & interfacing) to 6.  It took lots of cutting & trimming & pinning, and of course I'm not 100% sure it's right, but I found some free cotton I'd been given & decided to try it all out.  If that works, then I'll get to work with the wool.  You can see to the right that I did lots of tracing/drawing and modifying.  

I used lots of scraps from other projects & from old sheets I get at Goodwill.  You can see my Frankentoile to the left, using 4 different pieces. 

One thing that is good (I guess) is that most pattern pieces fit me perfectly through the back.  It's sort of amazing how I match that part so well.  At least I don't have to fuss with that.  Just the sides & front!   

By the end of the day, I had the cotton version cut out, put in a new needle, wound a bobbin & did the back neck darts & center back seam.  A day spent fitting & cutting out & even making a bit of a start on the actual sewing...not too bad!  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Few Small Items Finished

I really need to get cracking on See & Sew B5699, the jacket anyway, so I've got something new to wear this winter.  However, I got some free fabric a few weeks ago and decided to use some to make a new nightgown, and to finish up a smocked pillow that has been laying around for months.  So here are those 2 items, which have cleaned off my sewing table, giving me plenty of room to get that wool out & start cutting!  

The mother of a colleague taught Home Ec & Sewing in a public school in Pennsylvania for years.  And she has a ton of fabric.  My colleague is trying to get her to start cleaning out her basement, so she brought me a bag.  

This 100% polyester is something I'd never buy.  But since it's pretty & feels silky, I thought it would make a good nightgown...and I can always use more nightgowns.  Years ago I bought a nightgown which I really liked, but it finally wore out.  Since then I've made 3 which are essentially copies of it.  This is one of them.  It's a quick project & I like how slick & silky the fabric feels. 

And this morning I finished another smocked pillow!  Again, some fabric I got free (on www.freecycle.org); it's a light denim and there wasn't much (less than 1/2 yard), so a pillow seemed like an obvious project.  As with nightgowns, I can always use another cushion cover & I enjoy all the different textures created by the smocking around the house.  

I have only been using smocking on household items, but here's an amazing example of smocking on a dress, from a sister-blogger, from a 1960s pattern.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Slenderette Tropicale - Simplicity 2847, 1958 - Done!

This is my third Vintage Pattern Pledge item for 2014!  It's also the 3rd 
Simplicity 2847 Slenderette pattern I've made; older ones here.  I love a shirtwaist!

And here I am modeling it in front of our garden, which we began working on in earnest this year (as opposed to just mowing the grass & ignoring it).  It's coming along quite well & is mostly native plants now. We've been in the house 3 years now, and have done lots inside...it was time to stop being bad neighbors & spruce up the front.

The Roommate & I also made the low slate wall you see...we are inordinately proud of it & it looks great--really adds a lot to the yard.  All of which is a way of saying, this is why I haven't been sewing much, and why the one thing I have been sewing has taken forever!

Another reason it took forever?  Because it's fully lined with silk & I used Hug Snug seam binding all over the place.  It looks great inside, as you can see. 

I do love this pattern!  It's got pockets, which I always look for on a dress. 

It's a really interesting pattern also because the bodice front & back have the sleeves built in...meaning no sleeves to inset, which I hate.  

It does have lots of buttonholes, though, which makes up in difficulty/impatience for the lack of sleeves!  

 The buttons are juniper, and we got them in Tallinn when we were there about 2 weeks ago.  I bought 8, not really sure what I'd do with them, and then got home & realized they'd match perfectly with the Tropicale.  

I get a lot of use out of my other Slenderettes, so I'm expecting to wear this quite a bit over the next few months before fall sets in.  

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

From the Collection: Children's Hats from SW China - The Best is Last?

I mentioned that the Roommate & I often try to buy things in sets of three. Not sure why we do that, but it's a habit we've tried to keep up. Of course sometimes we cannot resist & we buy some other odd number of items (7 Ethiopian pillows, for example). Anyway, the best of these three amazing items, another child's cap from SW China, which we bought in Dali in 1994.

The front of this has an overlapping leaf design, and YES, that is real hair, braided & woven with some wire to make super-scary horns.  Wouldn't any child feel protected wearing this cap?  

I'm guessing it's also from the Bai people, but I need to do some more research.  We got them all in Dali at the same time.  

BTW, they were made for wearing--all three have chin-straps.  

Enjoy the details below...

Note: Clicking on the photo will bring up a much larger version for your perusal.