Simplicity 2153 Silly Putty Jacket

Tried and True Simplicity 2153

Tried and True Simplicity 2153

Am I dating myself if I ask you about the color of Silly Putty?  You know, the dirty, well-loved Silly Putty after it has been used on newsprint a few times.  Looks a little gross, but it provided lots of fun for me when I was a kid….and there is interesting history of the gooey stuff to read here.   And if you can’t get enough, put in Silly Putty in Google images to see the many playful uses of this stuff.

The dirty, well-used Silly Putty

The dirty, well-used Silly Putty

Anyway, when I see this pinkish-brown color I think of Silly Putty and I happen to love it.   Here is another version from the same pattern green jacket I made here with a few changes.
I absolutely love this OOP Simplicity 2153 pattern.   It is still available for sale on various sites on the web.  I have plans to make this up in a khaki twill fabric to have a safari-like vest or jacket.  My favorite part of the jacket is the length which means my hands fit comfortably into the pockets and that it covers my rear.  A definite plus in my book.

Bum Coverage

Bum Coverage

The fabric is a linen and rayon blend, which means that it gets a rumpled look but it breathes well. It is also lightweight, which is important for layering and living in the desert.   If I need more warmth, adding a scarf usually does the trick.

Silly Putty Back View

Silly Putty Back View

In the above picture, the jacket looks like it has white splotches all over it, but it is just shadows.  It is roomy without looking too big.  I made a size 14.

Below is an up close shot of the pockets with the selvedges sewn around the tops of the pockets.   This was a different approach than with the olive version.  I tried to achieve a worn in look that didn’t look too formal or fussy, not that this would ever look like a formal jacket, but I wanted to be able to pull out of the closet, put it on and go.
Pockets IMG_4383

Collar Ties

Collar Ties

Above, you can see that I used the selvedge and incorporated it into the pocket and collar.  I always look at the selvedges of the fabrics I purchase and see how they hold up during the laundering phase.  If they survive and have an appealing look, I experiment with ways to include them into the garment.  The collar contains elastic in the outer edge and is sewn to the ties.  I won’t be cinching it up so leaving it this way just makes the collar stand up, stay in place and ready for wear.

Inside elastic casing with bias tape

Inside elastic casing with bias tape

I purchased my zipper for the olive jacket and this jacket from ZipperShipper.  They have a great selection, good prices and fast shipping.  I guessed on the ‘medium brown’ color knowing it wouldn’t be a perfect match for this weird shade of brown,  but it works and the quality of the zipper is great.

Elastic casing made with bias tape

Elastic casing made with bias tape

Something I repeated from the olive green jacket was the elastic waist casing.   I pulled the elastic to a comfortable measurement, attached the ties and then knotted them.  This means that I can grab the coat and GO.  No fussing about with a fidgety waist drawstring.  I can always count on the elastic gathering evenly.

Possible accessories

Possible accessories

If I want to add a little more interest, I have a me-made necklace I made out of acrylic beads or a scarf to pair with it.

Optional additions

Optional additions

Finished product

Finished product

There is a reason why a M-65 Army utility jacket like this has been so popular over the years for military, fishing, hunting and fashion.  I get it!  It provides pockets galore, no-fuss practical style and if you happen to sew, it can be made up in many types of fabric.  If you happen to be interested in the history of such a jacket, here is an article worth reading.

Thanks for stopping by and happy sewing.

-Dana

 

 

Fall Brings Olive and Orange

Olive and Orange

Olive and Orange

Although this will post in November, I worked on this jacket for a good part of October. This time of year brings about the prolific use of orange everywhere-mostly for Halloween, but also for fall decorations.   The above picture is a bright geranium from my yard, blooming like it is the prime season for this flower.  Nature provides great inspiration by offering wonderful color combinations, so here is my interpretation of these two.

Using Simplicity 2153, I used some heavy duty green duck fabric in olive and combined it with a cotton tee from Walmart.  I’m not sure this borderline fluorescent-y orange is the best color for me, so I normally lean toward the coral and peach versions.  It combined with olive, so here it is.  This jacket took a while because I did a lot of unpicking!
IMG_3958The reason it took a while  was because I originally envisioned the coat having flaps on the four pockets with either buttons and buttonholes, or hook and loop tape.  The flaps didn’t sit right and the buttonholes sewn with upholstery thread didn’t look right either.   So I decided to use the buttons as only decoration and put them on the edges of the pockets anyway.  I like the simplicity of it now and there is less fuss getting in and out of the pockets.

I was motivated to make a olive green utility jacket for three reasons: 1.) I love olive drab and it happens to be the color of my eyes 2.) I needed a single layer outer casual jacket 3.) It is BIG in fashion and I can sew it my way. 4.) It has a great history here.

Casual jacket with fancy necklace

Casual jacket with fancy necklace

The necklace was purchased at DSW, the olive duck/bottomweight fabric was purchased at SAS Fabrics, my local mill end store. The fabric is a little stiff right now, so I hope with a few tosses in the washer and dryer, it will soften up.IMG_3975
Here are the items I collected before starting the project:
Simplicity 2153

Simplicity 2153

My local fabric stores did not have the olive colored brass zipper, so I ordered online from Zipper Shipper. All you do it look for the type of zipper you want and enter in the desired color and length. It is my new go-to for zipper needs because the cost was great, shipping was fast, and the quality of the zipper is very good. The contrast thread was Coats and Clark Upholstery thread in gold, antique brass buttons are from Hobby Lobby. Seam tape in olive, and the best find was parachute cord at Joann’s in the beading section–who knew?? Oh, and Simplicity 2153, view C with D collar.IMG_3963
Back View relaxed

Back View relaxed

Here is a the back view without cinching the waist tie.
Back view cinched

Back view cinched

Here, I pulled the waist cord and cinched it to give more waist definition. I will probably make this jacket again in a lighter weight fabric. I like the length, and the pockets are in the right place. One change I would make after finishing the jacket would be to change the bias tape from olive to a gold color. It would have been a better match to the gold top stitching and buttons. It is only visible from the inside, so as with many projects, YOU will know it’s there. Lesson I learned: Make a note and pay closer attention next time.
Optional sleeve detail

Optional sleeve detail

I love the sleeve detail because rolled up sleeves are more practical for me, and I could still unbutton and unfold them and cuff them at the wrist if I want. The strap and button are attached to the sleeve first, then sewn in the flat method before the side seams are sewn.

Some other changes I made were the parachute cord was attached to 1/2″ elastic in the collar and the waist.  I like the way elastic keeps a gathered look instead of messing with a pull tie or cord to help evenly distribute the fabric.  It always stays scrunched and the ties hang out just enough to be cinched up if needed.

Ready to make another version!

Ready to make another version!

I’m very happy now that it is done, because I was starting to lose interest. Pushing beyond my ‘sewing ADD’, I am happy to report cooler temperatures (finally!!) and I am better prepared with one more outer jacket…Yah! I think I will try either a vest or jacket in a windbreaker weight next time with black buttons, ties, and zipper to wear with yoga pants to run errands or take walks.
What are you sewing in preparation for cooler temperatures?

Rectangle Zipper Bag

IMG_3829
Look at these zipped up beauties!  Imagine the endless possibilities combining fabrics, zippers, ribbons, tabs, buttons and stitches!  She is not just any ordinary zipper bag.  She has flair and personality due to her embellishment options.  Take a quick look around Pinterest or the Google searches for zippered pouches and you will see a plethora of choices; small big, square, round, triangular, animal shapes, etc.  You are going to brush up on some skills with this one…insert a zipper, practice your buttonholes, quilt three layers together, personalize with lettering (optional–see Ethan’s name on the dark blue bag handle?), impress yourself and friends with decorative stitching, so hang on.

The approximate finished measurements are 10″ long x 3″ wide x 2″ high.  The reason I like this is because it holds more than it looks and can be used for sewing supplies and tools, toiletries, pens and pencils, or whatever you want AND makes for another guy gift idea like here, and here.

Upon closer examination, you will see that these three bags have slight differences: tabs are different shapes, handles are different, quilting patterns are different, and placement of fabrics are different.  Your choice!  So let’s get into the How To of it all , including some ‘Creative Options’ along the way for you to do it your way.

Supplies Needed:
-2 Coordinating Fabrics (can be fat quarters) 18″ x 22″ One is used for outside and one is used for lining and tabs
-One zipper, 16-18″
-Tear away stabilizer, or 2 scrap fusible interfacing pieces measuring 36″ x 3″ long
-Two or Four coordinating flat buttons that nest nicely, your choice. See samples for ideas.
-52″ of  1/2″-5/8″ grosgrain ribbon for trim along zipper and outer tab (optional)
-Thread for decorative stitching on outer ribbon
-Batting-low loft, approximately 13 x 16″
-Basting Spray– (Optional-  It makes things a little easier by holding all layers together before quilting. However, I pinned layers and it worked.)

Supplies in the rough

Supplies in the rough

Specific sewing machine feet are helpful (from left):
-Buttonhole foot-yours may look different
-Quilt Bar-inserts to back of foot ankle or dual feed foot.
-Open toe satin stitch foot, or a foot that has a groove in the bottom to allow clearance for dense and raised stitches
-Button Sew-on Foot (optional-can always hand-sew on buttons–I did!)
-Zipper Foot

CroppedIMG_3940

Quilt bar inserted into foot ankle in back

Quilt bar inserted into foot ankle in back

Dual Feed/Even Feed Foot with Quilt Bar, Satin Stitch Foot

Dual Feed/Even Feed Foot with Quilt Bar, Satin Stitch Foot

Notice the groove space on the bottom of the satin stitch foot and the metal plates on the bottom (left). This allows for the thickness of decorative or satin stitches to pass freely under the foot without getting caught, dragged, or smashed.

1.)  Cut and Prep:
Cut the selvage off fat quarter.

Remove selvage before measuring

Remove selvage before measuring

2.) Cut out pieces

-Cut two 13″ x 11″ bag squares from each fat quarter (one outer and one lining)
-Cut one 13″ x 11″ bag square from batting
-Cut two 3.5″ x 3.5″ squares from both fabrics and batting—or—

CREATIVE OPTION:   This is where you can create the tab shape of your choice.   Here, I made oval shaped tabs. Triangles or squares are fine, too. Measure it to be approximately 3.5″ x 3.5″.  Cut one piece of batting for your two chosen tab shapes.   NOTE:  I like to make a straight grain line arrow and a bias line on my little pattern piece just in case the tab would look great on the diagonal, like a stripe or plaid (see below)

-The handle does not need batting.  Here, I used outer fabric (or contrasting fabric) and cut two pieces 5.5″ x 3″, and sew right sides together. turn and press—or—

CREATIVE OPTION: The handle/loop can be cut from your one yard piece of ribbon.   See examples of the ribbon used as a loop in the completed bag pictures.  If so, cut one piece 5″ long.  Set aside.

Prep the outer layers

Prep the outer layers

3.)   Sandwich layers

Sandwich the three bag layers, placing the batting in the middle of the two fabrics.  Prepare the squares for quilting by pinning or using basting spray.

Pin for Quilting

Pin for Quilting

CREATIVE OPTION: Starting in the middle of the fabric, decide where the lines of your quilting will be. They can be diagonal or from top to bottom. Your choice. Draw a line with chalk or disappearing ink to start with the first line.   Set aside.  Attach quilting bar into back of foot.  See the blog post on my site for more tips on the quilting process.

4.)  Prep the tabs and handle:  Shown is the fabric handle.   Another way to sew the handle is to use only one piece of fabric and fold raw edges to center, then fold again in half.  edge stitch both sides of handle.   If using ribbon, disregard the Fabric Handle directions and set aside your 5″ piece of ribbon for later.

tabs and handle

tabs and handle

5.)  Stitch

TABS–Remember, stack the tab fabrics right sides together with the batting on the bottom.  See picture above.  Sew all the way around the edges in a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Clip curves.

CREATIVE OPTION: If your sewing machine has an alphabet, this is a good time to personalize the loop.  See sample below.  I used scrap interfacing under the ribbon, stitched out the name, trimmed the excess, and then sewed more ribbon wrong sides together along the edges to cover up the underside.

Personalized loop

Personalized loop

-Pin outer edges of tab and stitch in a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Use pinking shears or clip corner carefully all the way around the tabs.

Tab pinned, with right sides together, batting on bottom

Tab pinned, with right sides together, batting on bottom, 1/4″ seam allowance

6.) Cut tabs in half, turn right side out, edge stitch

-Fold in half. Draw a line. Cut through all layers. Turn right side out.

Fold in half to find center of tab

Fold in half to find center of tab

Cut tabs in half

Cut tabs in half

Turn right sides out, edge stitch

Turn right sides out, edge stitch

7.) Buttonhole and Buttons
Gather your button or the two buttons. Determine length of button hole and stitch out buttonhole on tab.

Buttonhole on tab

Buttonhole on tab

-Carefully slice open with seam ripper or sharp scissors. Check that button(s)  will pass through.  By the way, these buttoned tabs have no real purpose except to be decorative and pretty (and to get better at making buttonholes).  Set aside.

Buttonhole test

Buttonhole test

8.)   Sew quilt lines of bag
-Sew the first line of stitching on the main body of the bag on the line you drew, either diagonally or from top to bottom.  (Don’t sew over the pins!)
-Insert quilt guide one inch from needle.   Sew a second line of stitching 1″ apart from the first line of stitching, smoothing fabric as you sew.  Continue until the whole piece is quilted.

Quilt layers for body of bag

Quilt layers for body of bag

It should start to look like this:

Quilting starting to take shape

Quilting starting to take shape

And look like this when finished.  You may want to trim off any loose threads.

Finished quilted piece

Finished quilted piece

9.) Prep Ribbon for Decorative Stitching
-Attach satin foot to machine.
-Place ribbon down the center of your 3″ x 36″ stabilizer or interfacing. Note: I adhered two strips of scrap interfacing together and it worked just fine because I didn’t have stabilizer.  You will stitch one continuous length about one yard long.  Save remaining ribbon for covering bottom seam and loop (if you didn’t make a handle).

Ribbon on stabilizer/interfacing

Ribbon on stabilizer/interfacing

-Select favorite stitch.  Start sewing slowly down entire one yard length of ribbon.

Stitch selection

Stitch selection

Stitches done, press gently

Stitches done, press gently

-The ribbon will be a little lumpy once finished.  Gently press with iron to flatten.  Turn the ribbon over to the underside. Carefully trim off excess interfacing so that there is not interfacing showing from the right side.  Be careful not to cut through stitching or ribbon.

Trim off excess

Trim off excess

-As we did with the tabs to find the center, fold body of bag in half and press to make a crease line.

Fold in half to find center

Fold in half to find center

-Cut bag in half, lengthwise.  This is where the zipper will be inserted.

Cut bag body in half, lengthwise

Cut bag body in half, lengthwise

10.)  Prep for zipper and tab insertion
-On wrong side of one of the rectangles, place zipper right side up with zipper tape and raw edges even. Pin with the tab hanging off one end and the zipper stop hanging off the other end.  It’s okay the zipper is too long.

Prep for zipper

Prep for zipper

-Attach zipper foot to machine.
-Stitch down center of zipper tape with regular stitch length.

Stitch one side of zipper to bag

Stitch one side of zipper to bag

-Trim off excess fabric from under zipper so that there is no fabric showing.   We will be placing decorative ribbon over the zipper tape soon!

Trim raw edge under zipper

Trim raw edge under zipper

-Lightly press zipper tape flat towards outer bag fabric.

Right side up of bag. one half

Right side up of bag. one half, lightly press

With right side of zipper facing up on the wrong side of the other bag half, match up raw edges and centering, pin zipper to other half just as you did with the first half.  Stitch right down the center of the zipper tape.

Attach zipper to other half

Attach zipper to other half

-Turn, trim the fabric underneath, and press gently toward right side.

Zipper installed!

Zipper installed!

-Cut your decorative ribbon piece in half.  Place one half over zipper tape, covering the stitching and onto bag. Center and then stitch down the side nearest the zipper.

Ribbon placed over zipper tape

Ribbon placed over zipper tape

-Get tabs.  Mark center of the bag (red pin).  Slide one tab under the outer side of the ribbon.  Pin.

Tab Placement

Tab Placement

-Repeat for other side.
-Off-set the tabs from each other on opposite sides, using the center mark as a guide.  See below.  Pin.  Sew close to edge of ribbon, catching tabs in stitching.

Tabs slipped under ribbon

Tabs slipped under ribbon

-Mark button placement by marking through the buttonhole.

Mark button placement

Mark button placement

Sew on button(s) using special foot or by hand.  Here are two buttons stacked together and contrasting thread just for fun.

Old school handsewing

Old school hand sewing

Your bag should look something like this now.

Completed top of bag

Completed top of bag

11.) Sew bottom of bag
-With right sides together, sew bottom center seam of bag in a 3/8″ seam.

Center bottom seam

Center bottom seam

-Press open seam.  Trim off any excess batting or stray fabric or threads.  Trim to 1/4″.

Trim excess off seam

Trim excess off seam

-Unzip bag and center ribbon over the seam.  Stitch down both sides of ribbon covering up the seam.  This makes for a nicer finish inside than a zig zag or serged seam.

Ribbon centered over bottom seam

Ribbon centered over bottom seam

-Your bag should look something like this now.

Looking into bag

Looking into bag

12.) Sew up sides, including loop or handle
-Close zipper.  With right sides together, fold bag in half with zipper facing center bottom seam.

LOOPS:  The loop can be placed in this seam on this side or on the other, your choice.  It should be slipped in now, centered, between both layers, facing into the bag.  You can’t see it because it is inside.  Stitch across ends, going slowly over zipper a few times for durability.

Sides, one with loop or handle

Sides, one with loop or handle

-Stitch across ends in a 3/8″ seam.  Zig zag or serge raw edges for a clean finish.

Stitch across ends, then zig zag or serge

Stitch across ends, then zig zag or serge

-Before sewing up other side, OPEN UP THE ZIPPER ENOUGH FOR YOUR FINGERS TO REACH ZIPPER TAB.  If not, you will not be able to get into the bag!  Line the zipper teeth up closely to each other.  Pin.  Remember, your loop or handle should be sandwiched inside now, centered near the zipper and facing inside.  Stitch up seam. Trim and finish with zig zag or serge.

Open zipper, sew other side

Open zipper, sew other side

This is how it should look.   Open up the zipper a bit to do the next step.

How does it look?

How does it look?

Creating box corners

Creating box corners

-RST, fold sides perpendicular to the seam and measure two inches across and mark with a pen. Pin.

HANDLE:  Insert handle into both box seams.  Just like the loops, the handle stays inside the bag while sewing.  It will flip back out when bag is finished.  See samples.

Handle is sewn into box seams

Handle is sewn into box seams

IMG_3788
Stitch on line. Repeat for other side. You will do this a total of 4 times; two box seams on each end.
IMG_3789

Box corners from the inside

Box corners from the inside

Doggy ears trimmed and serged

Doggy ears trimmed and serged

-Trim off the ‘doggy ears’.  Clean finish with a zig zag or serged seam.

Ready to see it??

Ready to see it??

ALMOST DONE!!!  Reach inside and pull the zipper down enough to turn the bag right side out.  Vwah-la!!!!  It’s done!  Load it up with goodies.

Finished bag

Finished bag

Different tabs, different fabric combinations

Different tabs, different fabric combinations

Another example up close

Another example up close-skateboards!

I had a difficult time finding a coordinating fabric, so I used the same fabric for both sides and just added contrast for the tabs, ribbon, zipper and buttons.

Same fabric used for inside and outside

Same fabric used for inside and outside

Useful, roomy, colorful, and fun to make

Useful, roomy, colorful, and fun to make

These are addictive.  Lengthy tutorial, but all the steps add up to make a great project.  I hope you have enjoyed the ride!

Cheers,
Dana

Skateboard Shorts McCalls 6973

PS CroppedIMG_3675My son came down to visit for the weekend and I whipped up these shorts for him. On a recent trip to my local mill end store, SAS Fabrics, I found this skateboard material and couldn’t resist especially since it is 100% cotton and my son lives in Phoenix. Enough of those polyester basketball shorts!! Yuck. Sweaty. Hot. Weekend fashion is not my son’s top priority, so I took it upon my pushy-self and made two pair of these for him.
PS CroppedIMG_3676The pattern offers a great cargo pocket detail. I added some hook and loop tape to keep the pocket closed so that the phone/keys/wallet won’t slip out when he sits down.

When my two sons were in junior high and high school, skateboards were used for their transportation. They have been known to even beat up a curb or two…anyway, I bought three yards. Isn’t it great? It resembles a camouflage print from a distance. I am always on the look out for kitchy-yet-masculine fabrics for kick around projects for my boys.

Below is the pattern. Read more here about the pattern. In order to help me pick the right size, I compared the width and length of some other favorite shorts to get the silhouette just right.
PS CroppedIMG_3677 There are other usable garments on this pattern. However, the shorts needed a little shortening, so here are some of the following adjustments I made.
1.) I measured the desired inseam on the leg to see where the finished length should be.
2.) Compare to length to pattern piece.
3.) Fold up or cut/lengthen.
Inseam PS CroppedIMG_3687
These were shortened by 2″, so the fold looks like it is 1″. Just remember that the fold is twice the amount of the desired length. For example, if you want to shorten by 1″, the fold will look like 1/2″.
Shorten2 PSCroppedIMG_3686
4.) Don’t forget to shorten (or lengthen) the back and front the same so that the inseams and side seams will match up. Take advantage of the notches on the seam allowance and use them to help with this step.
5.) When measuring the side length, allow for the separate attached waistband. I used 1″ elastic, and top stitched the waistband seam allowance down toward the shorts to secure it. I omitted the tie because I didn’t have anything in my stash that would work, and it wasn’t worth a trip to the fabric store to get something. Normally, I find this technique a bit bulky, but in this case, so I top stitched the waistband down onto the shorts and it helped keep the shorts secure at the hips. Overall, they were a success. So much so that he requested a second pair! I will be making a bag out of this fabric for my other son since he is not here in town to measure.

And last but not least is Outlaw, Sean’s dog who allows us to get our dog ‘fix’ without having all the responsibility. He is a Pit Bull/Boxer mix who is happy and tolerant of our constant hugs and harassment.
To read more about ideas for guy gifts, click here on a post I made that you may have missed.
Outlaw1 PSCroppedIMG_3674

Vogue 8951 Top Turned Into A Dress

IMG_3652I must confess that a guilty pleasure of mine is to watch the home shopping networks.   Instead of resorting to trying clothes on at the local stores, I get a glimpse into what fashion is selling to people who choose to shop from home. It intrigues me to see how women buy pants online or TV.   I like to see what styles, colors, and trends are making their way into homes all across the country.   As a apparel sewer, I am inspired by some of the designs and feel fortunate to be able to replicate these items while incorporating my own twists.

This particular dress came from a QVC designer, Susan Graver. She sold thousands of this style dress..and for good reasons. If this dress is anything like the two I just made, it very comfortable. I was lucky to find this green cotton French Terry at my local mill end store. It has the sweatshirt-like feel we all know and love, as well as the heft needed to wear this without show-through. Susan’s version is out of her own manufactured cotton French Terry and offers shorter sleeves, rounded side slits, and patch pockets. It looks like this.  To find out more about this dress click here:
SG french terry dressMy version comes from Vogue 8951, which offers woven tops, but had a similar neckline and it could be extended into a dress length.

Woven Tops Turned into Knit Dresses

Woven Tops Turned into Knit Dresses

I chose not to include the hood, although that would have been a cute option if I used hoods more often. The sleeves were lengthened to 3/4 length, and I also chose not to add rounded side slits. Basically, my dress is View A with longer sleeves and more than 34″ added to the length from the side seams. I added more to the length so that I could try the dress on and have plenty of material for the hem.   I settled on the hem being just a bit above the knee.

Green French Terry Vogue Dress

Green French Terry Vogue Dress

The kangaroo pocket is very comfortable, hold a cell phone and/or keys, and disguises my tummy pooch. It also adds to the very casual look of the dress.
IMG_3643Second version out of a stable knit and longer in length. I prefer this dress at this time of year because the knit is lighter weight for our hot desert summer weather.

Turquoise/White Knit Knee Length

Turquoise/White Knit Knee Length

One thing to note: This pattern calls for wovens, not knits. I added about 1/4″ around the shoulders, bust area, sleeves and armhole just to be sure it would have some ease. I also added quite a bit to the side seams so that it wouldn’t be too tight around my rear. I tapered it at the waist and flared out at the hips. It took trying on and off multiple times, trips to the mirror, trips to and from the sewing machine, but I got the fit just the way I wanted.

After making the first dress, I knew I would be cranking out a few more. I have one more cut out out of another stable knit.

Why make duplicates of the same pattern, you ask?
1.)   The second item takes less time to complete.
2.)   The kinks, alterations, and design changes are worked out.
3.)   Different fabrics provide variety and change the look of the original pattern.
4.)   Success is addictive! If one is good, more is better.

Once a pattern has been a success, it becomes a Tried and True (TNT) pattern.    Do you have some TNT’s in your wardrobe?

 

Shades of Olive Jacket Kit

Dana's Shades of Olive Jacket with Semi-Precious Stone Lariat Necklace

Dana’s Shades of Olive Jacket with Semi-Precious Stone Lariat Necklace

I was fortunate enough to spend a few days with my mom at the Sewing and Stitchery Expo in Puyallup, Washington last year at about this time (Feb/Mar), and I’m a little sad I didn’t go this year. It was my first sewing expo out of Arizona and I wanted to share one aspect in more detail with you.

One of the big highlights was meeting Linda MacPhee, a patterns designer, teacher, sewing enthusiast, vendor, among other talents. Here is a jacket kit I purchased from her after seeing the kit and the finished product. From the list of presenters for 2014, I don’t think Linda attended this year, but she still offers the pattern in two color choices on her website here. If you have a moment, check out the website for the Expo for 2015. It is fun to look at the sight to get a taste of all that is available. I highly recommend attending if you want to be surrounded by sewing enthusiasts, great instructors and an ‘seamingly’-never-ending supply of vendors and supplies. It’s exhausting!

Linda MacPhee and Dana Belasco in Puyallup, WA 2013

Linda MacPhee and Dana Belasco in Puyallup, WA 2013

The catchy title of ‘Shades of Gray’ was a deliberate attempt to get the attention of customers and cause them to stop by the booth and ask questions about this art-to-wear jacket. Here we are at her booth and advertising her gray jacket kit. She was such a delight to meet in person. I have been a member of the American Sewing Guild, Tucson Chapter in years past and had heard that she had come to our city of offer classes and demos, but for some reason, I never attended. It was my loss. She is so friendly and warm.  My mom and I must have said the right things because we were asked to be models in Linda’s fashion show on the main stage!

After getting to talk to her, Linda conveyed that sewing needs to be to simplified, making it as easy as possible to open up to new and different ways to be creative. Sometimes, we get in our own way and complicate a pattern’s process, or get intimidated before even starting something and as a result, never get it off the ground and finished. So…….this jacket has taken a year to complete!  More about why later in the post.

Linda prepares the kits herself by providing various remnant squares of fabrics from her suppliers.  The kit fabrics have the weight and feel of home decorator and stretch woven fabrics.   The additional fabric needed is the sleeve fabric of your choice.   Linda chose a heavy sweater knit for her sleeves because she lives in Canada and wanted extra warmth. I selected a black cotton/poly knit remnant from my stash.  This kit requires some planning and prep to make this jacket come alive.

Somehow, she knows how much fabric to provide as well as a zipper, pattern, and creative suggestions in the instructions. The idea is to come up with your own configuration. Basically, you are creating the fabric for the jacket like a puzzle. The placement of all fabrics need to look right and balanced and pleasing to the eye. It can also be a great way to use up some laces and trims as well as any other fabric remnants from the stash.

Linda MacPhee Sewing and Stitchery Expo 2013, Puyallup, WA

Linda MacPhee Sewing and Stitchery Expo 2013, Puyallup, WA

As you can see, she added lace, stitching, a rhinestone encrusted zipper, and a creative assortment of related and coordinating fabrics
'Shades of Gray' Back View, Sewing and Stitchery Expo 2013, Puyallup, WA

‘Shades of Gray’ Back View, Sewing and Stitchery Expo 2013, Puyallup, WA

Below is Linda’s sample of the olive jacket to help customers see how the pieces can come together. In the background, you can see all of the MacPhee Workshop patterns stacked and ready for sale.   There is so much to take in!  There are great garment samples from her various patterns made up for the sole purpose to try them on for size and fit.   She offers guidance with pattern selection to suit your lifestyle needs.   Some garments hang on racks for sale made up out of fabrics available at her booth.   She is so generous with her techniques and tips it is hard to not get so excited and grab the next available sewing machine in sight and get started.
'Shades of Olive' Sample Jacket

‘Shades of Olive’ Sample Jacket

Back view of partially finished Shades of Olive sample jacket

Back view of partially finished Shades of Olive sample jacket

Selvage and lace used on back

Selvage and lace used on back

Here, Linda used the selvage and lace to add interest and texture to the back. It can also be a way to hide the butting of a seam or blend two fabrics together.
Textured fabrics paired at sleeve and back

Textured fabrics paired at sleeve and back

These two fabrics were very different and yet coordinated nicely. One is a flocked printed denim and the other is a scrolled design with a reversible side.
Two-pieced sleeve and princess seamed sides

Two-pieced sleeve and princess seamed sides

The pattern Linda chose to include in the kit features the two pieced sleeve and princess seams to not only allow a better fit, but another opportunity to combine more fabrics in small doses to add interest.

So here is my jacket. At a glance, they look alike, but they are very different.  My mom provided a scrap of fabric that I used throughout, like on the right pocket. I also added laces of different widths at seam joints.  I suppose no two jackets could be the same because the fabric in the kits may vary and the arrangement of them will be different for every person.IMG_2651
IMG_2654You can see the back side pieces are from the same scrap fabric from my mom, only reversed. It has a slight gold fleck in it and looked great on both sides so I had to find a way to show both sides. Plus, it blended well with all of the other fabrics.
IMG_2655So why did it take me a whole year to complete? Well, I was moving right along without a hitch with the fabric piecing, but had difficulty getting the sleeves to set properly.  I’m not sure if I didn’t mark the reference points right or what, but I didn’t notice they weren’t in correctly until they had been sewn and serged.  They didn’t hang properly and had to be ripped out. I got discouraged, and frankly, allowed myself to get distracted by other sewing projects. It sat until I forced myself to tackle some of my UFO’s (UnFinished Objects).
IMG_2663
I hope this post inspires you to look at your patterns and fabrics in a new way. Maybe there is the possibility of a hidden jacket ‘kit’ in your stash.

Now, for the lariat necklace. If you want to know more about it, click here to get the details.

Sewing Bee Coming to the U.S.!

Casting Flier US Sewing Bee
If you are not familiar with the Great British Sewing Bee, it is time to go onto YouTube and check it out to get ready for the U.S. version.   I wrote about it in a previous post here.

Those I know in the garment sewing world, are thrilled we are now going to have a version in the United States. This is a flyer requesting contestants to inquire, but you must be living in the Connecticut/New Jersey/New York areas.  I hope it becomes popular and sweeps across the country.  The format should be welcoming to the beginning level sewist up to advanced level, but we will have to wait and see how they pick the contestants.  Spread the word!

Are you, or anyone you know interested in entering?

Santa Pillow Cover

IMG_2437There is no snow here in the desert, at least not yet, but the holiday season is upon us and I am busy making things, as I always do during this time of year. As you may have noticed, I haven’t posted much since before Thanksgiving. It would be smarter to plan all year for Christmas projects, but I just don’t seem to work that way. I get inspired when the Christmas items show up in the retail stores. So, December brings out the Santa Elf in me and I get busy! If you still have time to whip up a last minute project for your decor or give them as gifts, I’ll walk you through the details.

I came up with this idea in my sleep. Well, kind of. I saw an example of a Santa pillow online with a white furry strap across the center like a belt, but thought that was not the correct way to represent Santa so I changed it up to have a black belt and a pom pom instead.

As I was going through my closets, I noticed I had some pillow forms unopened and thought this would be a great way to get them out and be used for the holidays. With the zipper installed at the bottom of the pillow, I can take the cover off and store after the holidays and get started on Valentine’s Day cover, St. Patrick’s Day, etc. I designed the pattern, which you can draft yourself, and make your own with materials of your choice. I made two pillows, so adjust accordingly.

Here are the supplies needed:
1.) 18″ pillow form(s)
2.) Red fabric of your choice, 1/2 yd of either 45″ or 60″ makes one pillow. Purchase 1 yard if making two pillows.
3.) Pattern paper of your choice. Tissue, newspaper, etc. I use medical paper.
4.) Marker or pencil to draw pattern.
5.) Buckle(s)
6.) Black fabric, felt, belting for Santa’s belt. I used felt strips cut to fit width of buckle and approximately 11″ long.
7.) Scissors
8.) Hand needle to sew on pom pom.
9.) White and red thread
10.) Two 18″ zippers.
11.) Package of 2 1/2″ pom poms (Hobby Lobby)
12.) Fusible 1/4″ tape (optional)
IMG_2402

Step 1.) Using your pattern paper of choice, draw out two 19″ squares. Then, free hand some doggy ear shape as I did up in one corner.IMG_2403
Step 2.) Once the pattern is traced, cut out the pattern piece and pin to red fabric. Cut out fabric.IMG_2406
Step 3.) Serge (or zig zag) the lower edge of pillow. This will be where the zipper is installed. IMG_2407Step 4.) Prepare Santa’s belt by cutting your black fabric to fit buckle center. I used felt for the speedy factor, but you can use any black option of your choice. I just cut two strips the 11″ length of felt squares by the width of the belt. The excess gets cut off soon. IMG_2408 Once the belting is ready, cut a hole and insert buckle prong.
Step 5.) Positioning the belt and buckle: Find the center of the pillow and mark with a pin. The buckle’s center should be placed in the center of the pillow. This will help locate where the belt should be sewn and where the buckle will be placed.IMG_2409IMG_2412

Slide buckle back on to black fabric and insert buckle tongue. Sew the belting on, both edges, until you reach about one inch from buckle.
Step 6.) Noticing where the center of the buckle should be, flip buckle back on itself in order to sew the belting down. If possible, sew down the belting where the buckle will cover the stitching. Trim off excess.
IMG_2413
IMG_2414
Step 7.) Prepare other half of belt by measuring to the center, keeping the buckle placement in mind. Insert the other half of belting, turn back and mark the hole for belt tongue, Snip a hole and insert belting, I left mine loose, but you can stitch it down if desired. Keeping the buckle out of the way, stitch both sides of the belting down to the red fabric getting as close as possible to the buckle.
IMG_2420
Step 8.) Prepare to insert zipper by machine basting with a 1/2″ seam allowance on the lower half of pillow covering. Right sides together.
IMG_2421
Step 9.) Press open.
IMG_2424
Step 10.) Optional: Iron on the fusible tape to the seam allowance. This will help hold zipper in place.
IMG_2426
Step 11.) With zipper face down, press with iron along seam allowance, fusing the tape to the zipper.
IMG_2430
Step 12.) With a zipper foot, stitch the zipper on to the pillow along both sides of the zipper on the right side. Open up basting stitches carefully with a seam ripper.
IMG_2429
IMG_2431
Step 13.) With right sides together, pin remaining three sides together, unzipping the zipper enough to insert your hand. If not, you will not be able to turn the cover right side out. Stitch all three sides in a regular stitch length. (2.5m-3.0m) Clip corners. Turn right side out, pressing out corners.
IMG_2432
Step 14.) Prepare Santa’s pom pom by taking white thread and a needle and sewing through the center with a few whip stitches to the doggy eared corner of the cover. Insert pillow form and zip up. You are done!!
IMG_2437
IMG_2433Enjoy your cover for the holidays, unzip and remove the pillow form (for the next cover you make), and store for next year. Enjoy!

Loes Hinse Sewing Seminar

005I debated back and forth with myself about writing this post because although I had a great time with my mom at this seminar, my little point-and-shoot camera was new to me and I wasn’t in the habit of taking commemorative photos of the event.   I hope the photos are enough to give you an overview.   We attending about three years ago, but the seminars are still taking place and I (we) would recommend checking this out for yourself.

My mom and I had been contemplating which sewing seminar we wanted to attend together and this one came out on top as a way to spend time together sharing our sewing, lunching, shopping.  The format of the seminar appealed to us.   Five days of open sewing with Loes’ (pronounced ‘Loose’) supervision and instruction in Carmel, California, and Sharon providing fabrics for purchase from Casual Elegance Fabrics.  Their partnership also was intriguing…how does that work?   Loes in Carmel, Sharon in Chico, CA?

I had been introduced to Loes Hinse (pronounced ‘Hin-sah’) years before when she came to Tucson to do a trunk show at a little fabric store called Buttons & Bolts (great name) now-defunct-fabric store.   I started with a few of her patterns and got hooked.   I wanted to learn more from her.  Mom was game.   The seminar lodging was within walking distance to shopping, dining, and the beach.   Beautiful surrounding area accompanied by gathering with ladies who sew..what could be better?  To top it off,  it was more affordable than other seminars….let’s try it.

Since the time we attended, both websites have undergone big changes and Loes’ prior website had a little more information on it about the lodging and seminar details.   Now, the information is on the new Casual Elegance Fabrics  website directing you to call either Loes or Sharon for most details.

Anyway, all questions were answered by Sharon, who was warm and friendly.   The recommended lodging was a local and quaint Dutch-inspired motel,  where the seminar would be held.   We packed our sewing machines up and shipped them to the hotel, where the staff were more than happy to store them until our arrival.

We landed in a small airport in Carmel and took a taxi to the motel. We arrived a day before in order to get checked in and walk around a little.   After settling into our rooms, we ventured by foot to the local deli for snack foods for our room and then lunch.

The seminar room was a conference room overlooking the pool with large tables set up for machines and all the accompanying sewing paraphernalia.  I think there were 8 women total?   Not sure, but we all squeezed in with enough room for Loes to do demos and for Sharon to set up her portable fabric store.
Hinse class copy orig

Sorry for the fuzzy pictures.   I hope you get the idea anyway.   This is the conference room with a professional iron, cutting tables, and a few of us getting set up.   It was quite messy by the last day after we had been working feverishly on our projects.
Hinse class  2  orig size
Talk about time flying!   The objective for everyone was different.   For a few ladies, completing as many garments as possible was the goal, some wanted to have one-on-one fitting assistance, some wanted to be in the company of other sewers and so a little sewing, and others wanted to be there to get as much out of the whole experience as possible. There were a few women who were ‘returners’–this was their third or fourth trip back for more.

One of the many exclusive benefits for attending the seminar is the access to Loes’ newest pattern(s) recently drafted.   These may be designs that may or may not ever make it to press, but we could get to trace it anyway (for free).  She had the pattern pieces prepared out of the manila pattern paper there to trace onto whatever paper you brought with you and then sew it up right there with her verbal instructions.   The collection of all patterns were there for sale and she offered ‘tweaks’ to change up some of the design details to some of the patterns.   Because Loes’ training is in European pattern design, fitting and construction, you can help but be inspired by her quick approach to building a timeless, classic wardrobe in limited time.   She also shares so many tips on how to care for the fabrics, the reasons for not using interfacings, wardrobe planning concepts with her patterns, and new ways to approach sewing in general.

I learned of a simple pattern weight idea using huge washers.   When I arrived home, I showed my husband these and we purchased some from  an industrial supply store to pick a few up. When not in use, they hang on a peg hook in my sewing room.
There were so many tips and product ideas to take away from the experience.   We found the environment cozy and intimate with enough time for everyone to get a little of Loes’ personal advice, coaching and humor.   The interplay between Sharon and Loes was great-an example of opposites attracting and complimenting one another.

On our off time, we walked down to Loes’ store front shop where she sells the garments for retail.   Most, if not all, of the garments she sells come from her patterns. She also sells coordinating jewelry.   We had to take a peak.
010

Binny taking a photo of shop

Binny taking a photo of shop

Dana in front of Loes Hinse shop

Dana in front of Loes Hinse shop on arrival day

My suggestion would be to try a Loes pattern out and get a sense of how her drafting, fit and instructions work.   Although I have almost all of her patterns, my favorites are The Gore Skirt Group, The Tango Skirt, The Tank Dress Group (which includes tank tops), The Sweater Set, The Oxford Pant, The Perfect Tee, and The Kimono Jacket. Many of these styles are in my wardrobe.   Whenever I want to whip something up quickly to get that immediate satisfaction, I sew up one of these favorites.

I really enjoyed going with my mom and having someone with whom to pal around, although it isn’t necessary to go with a companion.   Going alone suited many of the ladies because it was a creative get-away.   If you are interested, check out the sites and learn more about Loes Hinse and Sharon at Casual Elegance and also by signing up for the newsletter, “The Look”.

Snap Bag Tutorial

Snap Bag

Snap Bag

What you can’t see here is that this bag stays closed by recycling a used tape measure from a home improvement center. Fortunately, my husband had one he was happy to donate. The measurements are 8″ Width x 6″ Height x 2″ Depth. As with any sewing project, there is room to personalize and modify to your specific needs. The dimensions can change if you wish, but I recommend making one first and then you will know what measurements need to change for the second bag. Add embroidery, eliminate the 2″ box pleat, use up to three fabrics, or omit the prairie point handles and sew a loop, hair tie as the handle, etc. The choice is yours.

Examples of Snap Bags as gifts

Examples of Snap Bags as gifts

Supplies Needed

Supplies Needed

1.) Quilted Fabric (or fabric and batting to quilt your own) 9″ x 14.5″ This is the outer bag fabric.
2.) Lining Fabric 9″ x 18.5″ This fabric covers the measuring tape across top of bag.
3.) Side Loop Handle 2.5″ x 4.5″ Can be lining or outer fabric-your choice.
4.) Wrist handle (Optional) 11″ x 2.5″.
5.) Handles (Prairie Points) Cut Two 4.5″ x 4.5″ (Same fabric as lining)
6.) Coordinating thread for both fabrics
7.) Fusible Interfacing 9′ x 2″ (Use up small scraps of left over interfacing and piece together)
8.) 1′ Tape measure from hardware store. (Check to see what screwdriver or tapered cross tip screwdriver to have handy to undo outer case of tape measure)
9.) Roll of tape (either electrical or blue painter’s tape to cover tape measure ends)
10.) Sharp, heavy duty utility scissors (to cut tape measure)
11.) Ruler (to draw quilt lines if quilting your own fabric)
12.) Chalk or water soluble marker (to draw quilt lines)

Prepare your pattern pieces

Prepare your pattern pieces

Step 1 Prepare Pattern Pieces using tissue, medical paper, newsprint, etc.
All measurements are based on a 1″ tape measure. Adjust if you use a 3/4″ measuring tape. My Sharpie drawings are not as clear as the measurements stated above, so this is just to show you what the pattern pieces should look like.

Cut out pieces

Cut out pieces

Step 2. Cut Out Main Pattern Pieces To Tissue Measurements EXCEPT Batting And Outer Fabric If You Are Going To Quilt It. Leave some extra fabric and batting on all sides until quilt stitching is completed. Trim to pattern piece dimensions after quilting.
IMG_2013Step 3. Using The Ruler, Draw Line From One Corner To the Other In 1″ Lines Using a quilt guide or lines drawn on the fabric, stitch the quilting lines to sew batting to outer fabric. Click here to see another example of quilting your own outer fabric.

Faint chalk line from corner to corner

Faint chalk line from corner to corner

You can barely see the chalk line-this is what you want. Pin batting along the line to secure. Move pins as you sew each line until all stitching is complete.
Step 4. Stitch quilt lines. I like to set my stitch length to 3.0 and use a quilting bar that I can set to the 1″ mark, helping me to speed up the sewing process a little.

1' quilted lines

1″ quilted lines

Trim off excess

Trim off excess

Step 5. Trim off excess to match the pattern tissue measurement (9″ x 14.5″). I used a rotary cutter and ruler but scissors work just fine.

Press the 2

Press the 2″ strip of interfacing

Step 6. Press the 2″ fusible interfacing to the top edges of wrong side of lining. This is where I use up the leftover small scraps of interfacing from other projects. This will also help the tape measure from cutting through the edges of bag.

Turn top edge down 5/8

Turn top edge down 5/8″

Step 7. Layer lining and quilted fabric, wrong sides together and press lining down 5/8″ towards quilted piece. Set aside for a moment.
IMG_2084
Step 8. Prepare prairie points by folding the 4.5″ square in half.
IMG_2085
Step 9. Fold up lower left corner up to center. Press.IMG_2086
Step 10. Fold up right corner and bring to center, creating prairie point. The folded edges should be parallel to each other and touching and raw edges should be even. Press.

Pressed 1.25

Pressed 1.25″ over quilted fabric edge

Step 11. Fold down the top edge 1.25″ to cover raw edge of quilted front. Center prairie points and insert raw edge here under the folded edge. Secure with fusible tape or pins to keep anything from moving before the stitching. Refer to finished bag photo if needed to see placement.

Stitch through all layers

Stitch through all layers

Step 12. Stitch close to folded edge, leaving room for tape measure to slide through. Test before stitching. (Prairie points don’t show here, but they are sewn on both top edges in the center to be used as handles/decoration.)

Side Loop

Side Loop

Step 13. Prepare Side Loop. Fold loop, right sides together and stitch down long die leaving ends open. Grade seam allowances.

Safety pin to help turn

Safety pin to help turn

Step 14. Attach a safety pin to one edge of the tube. Use the safety pin to turn the tube right side out by sliding through to other side.

Side Loop ready for pressing

Side Loop ready for pressing

Step 15. After loop is right side out, press flat. Remove pin. Fold in half bringing raw edges together.

Baste loop

Baste loop

Step 16. Baste Loop to front of bag. With raw edges together, place loop 1/2″ right below top band. Baste with an 1/8″ seam allowance. This will be sewn permanently when side seams are sewn up.

Sew up side seams

Sew up side seams

Step 17. Sew up ONE SIDE SEAM only. I ran my finger down inside the bag from top to bottom to smooth out any tucks. Pin. Stitch in a 1/4″ seam allowance making sure to back-stitch enthusiastically at the top edge.
IMG_2062
Step 18. Cut tape measure into two (2) pieces measuring 8″. Test length by inserting into the casings to see if there is at least a 1/4″ seam allowance. If not, trim to fit. Remove tape pieces.
Step 19. Using utility scissors, slightly round edges to remove sharp edges/corners.
Step 20. Tape edges with electrical tape or painter’s tape. This is a very important step. I did not do this on my first bag and the corners are working their way through the material.

Sew up side seams

Sew up side seams

Step 21. Insert tape measure pieces back into casings (like Step 15) pushing them in as far as possible to give ample room to sew on remaining seam allowance. NOTE: MAKE SURE THE TAPE MEASURE PIECES ARE INSERTED WITH THE BLANK SIDES OF TAPE (“C” SHAPE) FACE THE LINING SIDE. THE NUMBERED SIDES (“U” SHAPE) ARE FACING THE QUILTED SIDE OF BAG. The “C” shape sides of the tape kissing each other create the ‘snap’ .
Step 22. Prepare to sew up other side seam. Fold bag in half RST, pin, making sure the side loop is on the inside of the bag and all raw edges are even. Make sure there are no tucks. The top edge gets the most wear-and-tear so once again, back-stitch enthusiastically.
Step 23. Serge or zig zag raw side seams to cleanly finish.
IMG_2063
Step 24. Prepare mitered corners.
Keeping the rights sides together, pull apart bag at lower edge fold (base of bag) with one hand on front of bag and one hand on back of bag until the side seam looks like the picture. My thumb is on the side seam and my index finger is on the base of the bag. This creates a triangle-looking area on the inside of the bag, but a nice miter on the outside, allowing the bag to sit up by itself. Measure across 2″ or 1″ on both sides of seam, pressing seam allowance to one side. Mark the line.
IMG_2064

Step 25. Sew across triangle/miter. Trimming corner is optional. I left my triangle in place to give the base of the bag more substance. Repeat for other side.IMG_2066
Step 26. Turn right side out. This will take a little muscle because the tape measure doesn’t want to bend this way. Work it until the bag inverts. Add seam sealant to upper seam allowances.

Sit and Sew 2nd Anniversary

The photogenic group

The photogenic group

It has been 2 years since I started hosting our little gathering on Friday nights. I am so grateful for the time we spend together. Our lives are busy and we still make time to sew our individual projects while laughing and sharing bits of our lives together. Check out how tis all began here.

Sharing tips on quilt binding

Sharing tips on quilt binding

Techniques and tips are offered, but not just about sewing. Sometimes we share successful recipes, doctors to avoid, sales going on, or activities in town to go see.

Having too much fun

Having too much fun

And sometimes we cut loose and say stuff that shocks!

Eat, Sew, Visit

Eat, Sew, Visit

Pattern alterations

Pattern alterations

So, I congratulate all of us for making this a priority and developing our sewing as well as our friendships.

Introducing Sit and Sew

IMG_0218
Our group is small but it is mighty! I’m cheating a little here. This photo is one of the few times we could all gather on the same night so I am including this picture to show you the gang. Call it Stitch & Bitch, Sew and Sip, Unpick and Vent, whatever. But mostly we laugh, while getting serious about our sewing and have a great time.

But this is how the post should have started….
After months of mulling over and wondering how and what commitment could I make for the long haul, it’s was finally time to offer a Sit and Sew group near my home. The clubhouse in my complex rarely gets used and even in it’s 70’s decor, it will serve us beautifully for our gatherings. Here’s a picture of our treat table. Check out the revamped jewelry-box-turned-tea-chest below at the end of the table.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
This is how I found it at the thrift store. A little sanding and paint and now it has a new life serving up tea.

Anyway, back to the room. Lots of space, a little kitchen, bathrooms, ceiling fans and air conditioning (an absolute ‘must’ here in the desert), radio, plenty of tables for sewing machines and cutting out. The ironing board will fit off to the side with plenty of room to spare.

Some of my students have been asking for another way to learn about the details of sewing. By offering a 3 hour session bi-monthly, I hope to offer encouragement and an upbeat environment to further the love of sewing. I am providing snacks and beverages (no wine, but that may change). The plan is to be available for tips and demos as well as questions. To start, the group will be small so that the right amount of attention can be spent helping, advising, etc. It may grow over time, or maybe not. We’ll see.

So much of the learning curve of sewing is accomplished by seeing how a technique is done. When I was teaching, I was always a little concerned about the project that was dictated by the corporation for the beginning sewist. It was either too complicated for the time allowed in class to properly finish (layout and cutting was not considered in the time frame) or it was not a project that drew people in to sign up. I tried to keep in mind that I could make the class fun and focus on the skills being learned. Reviewing the steps at the end was meant to encourage the student to go out and practice, find similar projects or repeat what we had just completed. The repetition helps hone the skill. What a relief that the students can choose their own projects!

It is difficult to find the time to sew when life can be so busy. My goal is to show how I squeeze in the little bits of sewing time into my day/week/month and share that with others. I hope to do that with this blog, as well.

Having a place to bring machines and projects to complete can be an outing for yourself….concentrated sewing time without phones and other distractions.

Do you have a sewing group in your area? What kind of format would work for you?