Wednesday, October 03, 2018

It's About Time

I have been feeling so lethargic-for so long. I don't write posts, because I have nothing to post about. But it's not really true. All summer, I have been whittling away some yarns—and I have reached completion.
Image of Sea Lettuce Scarf

First—a lovely blue blend of cotton and acrylic—Lion Brand's Shawl in a Ball. I turned it into a prettly little scarf—a version of Lucy Neatby's Sea Lettuce. A version because it is not quite her pattern, (which I have knit before) I was too lazy to look up the pattern proper, I just make shifted and stumbled through.  But the idea, and the basic design is Her's, not mine!

I love this little scarf .  At its core, it is just 36 inches long, and about 15 inches wide. The ruffled drop adds another 15 inches or so to the length—making is about 45 inches long. It is soft and warm, and will go well with any number of demin things. Pretty, but not to fancy for every day wear.  The color name is Healing Teal--but to me, it is shades of denim.  
I like this yarn so much, I am planning on making a design of my ow--(but in the same family as sea silk--(that is a scarf/shawl with ruffled edges.  I already have 2 more balls of this yarn in a silvery grey--(Om Opal)  2 balls because the next version will be bigger--more shawl like. (and will have a more arced shape.

Speaking of arcs..
Image of arced T shawl frontSecond—a Tilted T shawl. This is a Red Heart yarn, Unforgetable. It's a lot warmer than the little blue lettuce, & its 100% acrylic—Making it easy care (machine washable) . First off, it is double knit, so there are 2 layers through out. Second, it is a less organized pattern. I tend to like large rectangular shawl. I wear shawls when I am cold, (and I feel cold so much more often these days!) I want a shawl that covers my upper back, and my shoulders, and my arms. There are hundreds of pattern for light lacy shawl.. but I want more of blanket shawl!

Problem is, it is boring to knit large dense shawls!

I started with a simple scarf—about 14 inches wide. When it was long enough, it wasn't wide enough.
Image of back of Arced T shawl
So I picked up stitches, along the center of the length, and started down. Then I decided , I didn't pick up enough stitches, and added a stitch or two for a few rows.

The picked up stitches curved the scarf—and made the Top of the T into an arc. But it works for me.

It covers my neck and shoulders, and my upper back and wraps around my arms-- The back is not so long that I have to worry about sitting on it. It's simple and pretty and warm.. And while the days are still warm and sunny, evenings have become chilly-- So it is finished just in time.

Having finished those to projects, I am now once again working on my pretty pink cardigan--which will be a good match to both the bubble gum pink skirt and the claret skirts I made in the spring. But thinking about it, I can also wear it with black and grey, and other solids skirts.

Pink is not in the top ten list of favorite colors.. but I do like this yarn–It was bought (long ago!) on clearance, and several of the balls I got at below cost (they were tangled and a bit of mess. The store was discontinuing carrying the yarn (a fine kettle died alpaka!) So this will be a light weight, but warm sweater when it is done—All that is left are sleeves (and finishing!)

 I have not just been knitting. A little bit of hand sewing (more on that latter) and a little bit of cooking. Lots of reading too, (and still more books in the to be read pile!)

Image of a pink jar of Quince chutney
This weekend I made 1.5+ Qts of Chutney—Quince Chutney! Quince are not a common fruit, and even in my multi ethnic neighborhood, hard to find—Fresh date, fresh almonds (with their peach like fuzz), several varieties of figs can all be found locally (seasonally). Even several varieties of Persimmons, (not just Fuji's) but Quince? I got my quince (with permission!) as wind fall The Queens Botanical garden has a wild quince tree.

Quince are an odd fruit—Some compare their shape to a pear, but I think they are almost lemon shaped—or perhaps mango shaped. As for size, bigger than a big lemon, but not a big as a large mango (maybe about the size of small mango) Rounder than a mango, with a lovely gold tone, and sweet fruity smell.

The fruit is not edible raw. It is at once, rock hard (cutting the fruit was a real chore!) and yet spongy in texture. They turn pink (not brown) as they oxidize (and they did oxidize a bit.) It took longer to cut the fruit up than it did to cook them. (Well partly because I cooked the chutney in an Instant Pot)But seriously, it took over an hour to peal and dice about 2.5 pounds of fruit. By the end, by knife needed to be resharpened, too.  The pink color is re-enforced by the addition of cranberries--making the color a rosy red.  

I didn't properly can/preserve the chutney, so it needs to be keep in the refrigerator till its is used up. One small jar will be shared with the QBG employee to showed me the tree, and gave me permission to harvest the fruit.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

More Fun with my Embroidery Machine

Still experiementing and learning. Embroidery with a machine is more like coloring than anything else—The design is a file (different machines use different formates) that you load into the embroidery machine, (in my case via a USB drive.)

My machine came with 160 pre-loaded designs— Plus it came with a (computer) CD with 3000 more designs. The internet is a source for more designs—there are some free designs, and some that cost a $1, and lots more that cost more... I want to buy hundreds—but..I am trying to limit myself to designs I want RIGHT now....

I have already bought a sampler of stablizers, there are several different kinds, and weights) and sampler (63 colors) of threads—I have a few more colors of thread--(almost 30)--some I bought to use with my standard machine (and decorative stitches) some that came as a bonus with purchase (primary colors and white and black) some that I have found in clearance bins...I plan to take a course (in the fall) but for now, I am just playing--and have more than enough thread and stablizer.  

One “issue” is: every company has a different numbering system..White and black tend to be simple numbers, (white-100 or 001) and the same goes with black (900 or 999) and all the other colors? Every company has its own numbering system—and the names vary too—one compnies light teal is another companies dr turquoise—There are chart showing the color names/color numbers across MOST of the brands...but I haven't printed them I am often blind to what color to use. 

For a perfect design, you should plan ahead and make sure you have the right color/shade—Or you can be like me, and 'wing it'---

I know that if I buy Brother Brand designs (a bit pricey at $6 (average price) and Brother threads, my machine with give a color name (white) and a color number (100) and I will be able to make a perfect duplicate of the design I see.

An other brand, (no name) costs $1 a pattern—and it just gives a color name (and these can vary with different brands of threads). These designs almost demand a scrap or sample embroidery to figure out what color is what--

So here is one of my experiments.. This design called for 18 colors... and I made the wrong choices for some of these colors.. (the blue in the cloth being sewn is way to dark--(even though the thread I uses was labeled Lt Blue— the color called for, what I really needed was Very Light Blue.

I made a mistake too, and missed one color (Do you see the mistake? No? —look again—there are no straight pins in the pin cushion) I plan to make this design again, (and I will correct the colors!) and make it into a framed embroidery for my sewing room I'll add a bit of text (My Sewing Room ) to the design.  Framed it will be about 5 X 7 the actual embroidery is about 4.5 x 5 and it took an hour to complete.  A good deal of time was just threading and re-threading the machine with the different colors. 

Meanwhile, here are some images of the dresses I made last month—I messed up the pocket placement on the red trimmed black dress.. and I added an embroirded patch on the pocket of the sailor dress.

Both dresses are the same pattern, just different collars and trim to make them appear different.  Simple changes make big differences.

Next week I will be teaching at the NYPL—a community quilting project. I will be teaching the actual quilting part—for the past month, other have been teaching piecing and applique techniques for the blocks-- This has inspired me to finish (all done but for binding!) a quilt I started 20 + years ago.

More on the quilt in my next post.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Skirt? Done!

Even the hand sewing—that is the button and skirt hook and eye, and the final pressing.

As for the vest-- started, and about half way done. All the edges—and there are a lot of them, have been over sewn.And the pieces have been somewhat sewn together. All the pieces of the outside have been sewn, and ironed-so I have a shell (the out side) of the solid purple, and a “lining” of the print fabric sew together, too.

There is more to be done before I sew the out side to the inside. First, I want to add some pockets—for the solid purple, there will be two lower pockets on the outside, for the print, there is going to be a breast pocket The solid side will also have some ties—they will be partially sew down, and will have buttons and buttonholes, to make a flatter feature—all the better for a reversible garment.

The pockets are prepped, the pieces have been ironed, and the placement marked. All ready to be sewn.

The finlly sewing will be sewing the outside to the inside, and then hand finishing the side e seams. The design calls for the side seams to be left unsewn, (to turn the vest right side out). And then the side seam is partially sewn, (by machine) and then finished with hand sewing. Then there are the are buttonholes to sew too, and buttons-- Both sides of the vest front get buttonholes, and buttons. A few hour of work--but the vest should be done by mid week. 

Most often, I make the vest with the front facing done in the same fabric as the out side, but I didn't have enough fabric for that, so the whole of the vest is lined in the lining fabric. The only thing I need to do to have a reversible vest is to work on the front (button) closures. It makes sensee to make the effort. It will require some delicate hand sewing (at the side seam) —but I think it will be worth it. Especially since I am “ahead” of schedule.

a bright print.
the bright print paired with some blue
I checked the closest fabric store to see if they had any of the lining fabric (no) but fell into a hole—and found a beautiful bright multi color  print (@ 50% off!) The print, on a white background, has blue, pink and purple. I have enough, with careful planning, to make a dress and a vest. The dress, with likely have a front facing and collar cut from a matching solid, I'm thinking the dark olive green—I like this color, and it is one that is particularly becoming. I like the idea of a contrasting front facing and collar, partly for a bit of variety, and partly to tone down the print, A lot of my “uniform” pieces are, or could be considered somewhat conservative—but I have a wild and crazy streak—and this print reflects that.

print with matching solids
A vest of this fabric will be a good “go with” for last years blue skirt (and vest), and it will go with last months bright pink skirt, and with the newly completed purple skirt, and the prussian blue skirt I am planning on making. (Part of fabric I plan to cut in May.) So I can go monochrome with a few skirt and vest set, (blue, purple) or pair this crazy print with the bright pink skirt, (and later) with the prussian blue skirt. But that is not all--the dress? It can be toned down by even more popping on any of the solid vests—A real case of separated working together.  

The floral print isn't the only thing I found irriesistable--a phychedelic, paisley print jumped out and grabbed me too. —It, too, will be toned down by pairing it with a solid. It has a black background,  I have a few black skirts (besides the one that is planned for later this season)--the print will go with all of them-- But it would go with with a lot of different solid colors in the print-- (yellow, turquoise, blue, orange, and lime green.) All of these colors are already in my wardrobe except for the lime green, I own nothing in lime green—I don't even own a single piece of lime green fabric, or for that matter, a spool of thread in lime green—but things could change.. A lime green T shirt (when those summer sales of 4 for $10 T-shirts come round) could be added to a rainbow collection. But even if I don't get anything in lime green, this wild and crazy print will still be fun. I still haven't decided which color to pair with the print—I like all of them! I might use this print, and an assortment of the solids to trim out some T-shirts, too. Both prints are bright fun things to add to my collection of solids.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

At the 11th Hour,

Image of buttons on skirt
Of the last day of March, I sewed on the last button—and now the claret skirt is done, too. So March ends with a new shirt dress, and 2 new skirts. About half the things I cut in the beginning the month, sewn up! Well not really half the things, but the vests are so much less work than the dress, it really is about half the work.

I added a small coin pocket to the claret skirt—It's big enough to hold a charge card (or membership card, or drivers licence, or the like) Just a little detail/change to the basic pattern. As are the inset side seam pockets—but then I always add side seam pockets, and they hardly count.

waist band coin pocket
It has started off, the first 3 days, as an unseasonable April, and I have started to work on the deep purple—a matching skirt and vest. First thing I did was to cut the lining for the vest –Everything else had been cut—and I got a head start by ironing the interfacing onto the skirt waist band, and filling to bobbins, on Saturday.

Since then, all the edges have been finished, and the skirt assembled. Right now, all that remains to be done is the waist band and hem.

 The vest(s) , even though they are fully lined (or perhap, because they are fully lined) work up quickly. The neat little pockets will take the most time, and I have been adding them to so many vest, even they have gotten to be quick work.

print and color dots
I am sorry now that I didn't buy more of the lining fabric—the more I see and work with it, the more I like it. I might make a run to fabric store and see if there is any more. The print goes great with the purple—but there isn't any purple in the print. Its made of dark navy, bright pink, light blue (a sort of periwinkle blue) and medium turquoise. It would make a great top—to go with the purple skirt and vest set, and with the last month's pink skirt, and with all the different bits of turquoise in my wardrobe.  It would go well with my blue skirt and vest too (also from last year).

After the purple set is sewn up, next will be the grey vest, and finally the print vest. Then all the the things I cut back in the beginng of March will have been sewn up. I expect to have all 3 vests finished up before the end of April.
Print liner and 3 go with solids

The next “big cut up”, which (likely) won't be till sometimes in May, will include a triple set of black set. Starting with a black coat dress. The same basic uniform coat dress, this time trimmed with red piping--on the sleeves, on the front, on the yoke and collar. The inside of the yoke will be lined in red cotton, and there will be red lined kick pleats on the side seam, little flashes of red every where. The same basic coat dress, just a yards and yards of red piping to add a different detail--making it the same, but different.  I thought about cutting miles of bias, and making my own red piping—but in the end, I bought ready made piping.

The other 2 pieces of the set, just a simple remake of a skirt and vest set that are the other "uniform" pieces. . I think the skirt in this set will be a remake of the claret skirt (ie: a button down the front gored skirt)—just because, well because I have quite a number of the 6 gore version. Likely the vest will have a red lining-the same red used for the dress. I might even change the skirt to add a red facing to the front of the skirt (instead of the self facing the pattern calls for. Another use of the red lining. 

I also plan to cut the prussian blue fabric cut—another skirt—and a favorite color. And maybe a navy (in more ways than one!) version of the coat dress—That would be 2 more dresses, 2 more skirts, and a vest—for a total of 3 dresses, 5 skirts, and 4 vests, this spring. Lots of new pieces, and lots of new colors added to my wardrobe.  This is a bit more of counting my chickens before they are hatched, but....

All this will make a small dent in my fabric stash, and a big boost to wardrobe. It leaves a piece of yellow, for a skirt and matching vest in the same yellow (as this years shirt dress) There is also a coordinating piece of plaid (yellow/red/blue/white) to be worked on later(an other vest) - And mounds of denim, and piece of yellow twill for a jumper, and some pieces of linen/rayon (purple, blue and teal) and the striped fabric I used for the girls dresses last year, and a piece of putty twill, and, and, and....

And if I do find more of the pretty lining fabric, well a top to be made!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Days Go By


Every last detail of both the pink skirt and yellow shirt dress have been completed Both are hanging up in my closet, awaiting there debuts.

The claret skirt got started on Tuesday—edges finished with an over-lock stitch, interfacing ironed on, and even some sewing done. By the time I was done with sewing for the day, the pieces (2 front, pieces, one back, and a waist) had been sewn, but not assembled. I went through 2 bobbins of thread!

I experimented with doing some machine embroider on the back patch pockets—and I didn't like the look—so there is only one back patch pocket—the experiment was discarded.

Wednesday morning, skirt fronts got sewn to the skirt back with all the little details for the set in pockets completed, too. All the seam were pressed, and threads were trimmed. I marked out the button holes for later. I plan to  added an extra buttonhole/button on the center front—the placement was just a little short of what I prefer. There will be an extra button on the waist band, too—for sure.

Later in the day came the hem. I decided to go with a narrow rolled hem—I want this skirt a bit longer. Most often, I like my skirts just below knee length—and rarely make a mid calf length—And rarer still, above the knee. The narrow rolled hem will make this skirt just an inch longer than average—Not much at all. This is a heavy weight fall/winter skirt—a little bit of extra length is nice on a cold weather skirt.

I will extended the waist band a little past center front, too, to fit two button/buttonholes. I am in the practice of cutting my waist bands 3 or 4 inches longer than required—when I am adding side seam pockets, and using the inside pocket as a placket (instead of adding a zipper) so my waist bands need some extra length--to accommadate. Habits (like cutting a few extra inches of waist band) die hard. I have some extra waist band length, extending the waist band an inch on both sides of the center front will be easy. The trimmed excess will become my scrap material for a practice buttonhole. Right now, the waist band is pinned, but not even basted

Saturdays work will start with the waist band, and then will be all the buttonholes and the hand finishing...

This skirt likely won't be worn this spring—it is a really heavy gros grain (yes, like the ribbon) fabric, and will only be worn if April like March, continues to be an extension of winter. Snow is not unknown in April (the last recorded day of frost isn't till April 17th!) I made it now, because, well it's turn was up. I have some more summery/spring things in my queue—a piece of sky blue, and some more yellow—but I wanted to get this made—when I run out of steam in the fall, I will have this skirt waiting for me.

Button holes marked with shoes.
I even have a pair of shoes (well slip on sneakers) that will go  with this skirt, and the pink skirt, and even with the dark purple skirts (next months first project). I actually bought these last year, about the same time that I bought the fabric-Another reason this fall/skirt is part of my springtime sewing. 

Not as good a match--but....
I am excited by my progress—When I upgraded to new hangers, I cleaned out some skirts that I really just didn't wear—leaving room for new stuff. One dress (thread bare, but I really liked it!) was more than 25 years old. The advantage of being a clothes horse, is: you have so many clothes, each piece only gets worn a few times a year—so pieces last for ever. I still have other pieces that date back the early 1990's--they too are beginning to look worn out, and will soon find their way into the trash bin.That old dress, that I really liked? It will be cut apart, and turned into a pattern—and be resurrected in a new color. Between this year and last, I have added (and plan to add more) my wardrobe—but less talked about is how many pieces have been culled.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Saturday Sewing—In the Pink


Not done, but lots of work accomplished! All the edges over-locked with a zig-zag stitch. The front put together, then the back, ironing all the seams, (and a second bobbin filled), pockets added, and side seams sewn. All that in one breath-- but it represents a few hours of work.

If nothing else got done that would be a lot---but the hem got turned up, pinned and ironed. Not sewn yet, but ready to go. The waist band was basted on too. And a practice button hole for the waist, too (there will also be an inside hook for the waist band.) But it looks like a skirt! The waist band needs to be sewn in place, and the seam pressed, and a buttonhole made (this skirt will have an inside skirt hook, and a button, too.)

I am very happy with the progress I made. An hour or two's work on Monday, and the skirt will be finished. Tuesday or Wednesday I will start to work over-locking the claret skirt. With a bit of pre-work, I might get the claret skirt finished on next Saturday.

But that is a bit of counting my chickens before they are hatched! The Claret skirt has some details that will require more time. A small “coin pocket”, with a button down flap, and an embroidered back patch pocket are two time consuming details that are this skirt will have. It's very similar to my uniform 6 gore skirt; but is has a center front is a button closure, with 2 gores on either side, the back is just 2 pieces—not three. There is also bit more of flare at the hem. The center front will required 6 buttonholes: one a the waistband (and that might turn into 2) , 5 more down the front. While my machine does buttonholes automatically, they still take some time. (and more time sewing on the buttons!)

I tend to add some minor detail to most of the skirts. It really depends on how much fabric I have—and the mood I am in. The same goes for vests—some are plain, most have set in pockets, some have inside pockets too. Buttons can make a big difference too—big or small, matching or contrasting. My uniforms aren't perfectly uniform.


Bright pint 6 gore skirt
Here it is late afternoon, and I am finally posting pictures from early today. The pink skirt is done (except for the hand sewing) Waist band sewn on, buttonhole made, and hem sewn (filled another bobbin, too). All this was done by about 1 PM today. There will be a final pressing after the hand sewing. That will likely be done this evening (along with the last few buttons that still need to be sewn onto the yellow dress.  Here (below)  is a photo of the yellow dress--showing the perfectly matched buttons. 

Yellow dress with perfectly matched buttons
Tomorrow and Wednesday, I'll get the edges over-locked, seams sewn, (front and back assembled), pocktes added to the claret skirt. That will leave the hem, waistband and hand sewn details for Saturday. March will go out with the second skirt finished--Well that is the current plan!

I don't have much in the way of pink tops—well a few T-shirts, but that is about it. But I have lots of scraps, and will use the scraps to trim a T-short or two to make some go withs—And I will have the pink/purple/grey vest, too., soon enough.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Almost There!

Wednesday I got the buttonholes made—the last bit of machine sewing done. Thursday evening, (while watching TV) I started sewing on the buttons (5, of 11 total), and doing a little bit of hand sewing-one of the front facings is sewn down, one to go. So, a few more buttons, and a few more stitches, and the dress is done (likely today).

I love how the buttons are such a good match—almost dyed to match color ( no photo right now)
sleeve hem, sewn straight

As is the thread. The sewn hems (sleeves and lower edge) are almost invisible!  It's a bit of luck to find such perfect matches.
And while the sleeve and hem images look like two different colors, and my avatar image (just to left) looks like a third shade of yellow, they really are almost the same--my yellow lace hat matches this dress perfectly.

Dress hem, zig-zagged
I am going to let this dress mellow for a while—I like to keep new clothes for a week or more (as much as a month!) before I first wear them. I am thinking this dress might become my “mother's day dress”. Something nice to wear for the first time, on a special occasion—My birthday is in May, and we almost always combine my birthday celebration with mother's day..

I have already filled a bobbin with pink thread, (and threaded the machine) with a spool of pink. Yesterday was my day with the girls (no sewing day) and now, today, I will start on the bubble gum pink skirt. I wish I had as perfect a color match for pink as I did for the yellow.

Work on this skirt, and the others, will be faster—I 'll use a simple zig-zag overcast stitch--(faster to sew than the over-lock stitch the yellow dress required) Skirt pieces are shorter, too, though the skirt does have more edged to over-lock. All the seams are straight, too. Likely I won't finish the skirt entirely in on Saturday, but it will be finished with little bits of work on Monday( the waist band) and maybe Tuesday, the skirt hooks and hand sewing. I might even start to over-lock stitch the edges of the plum/claret skirt.

I see the fabric for the top, (pock-a-dot and solid) as claret. Perhaps that is what I should be calling the skirt. It, too, will take more than a single Saturday—but, if I get some of the work started before Saturday, I might have enough time to finish it off on Saturday.  That will be the end of the month and will bring me to the half way point of my pile of cut fabric.

At this point, I have not just the fabric cut, but all the fixings on hand too. There are buttons for the claret skirt, (which features a button down the front design) and for the all 3 of the vests, the interfacing has been cut, too, and of course, spools of thread are on hand. There is always a supply of machine needles, and I have plenty of bobbins on hand. I will zip through the skirts and vest!

If I work each Saturday in April, by May, I will have a whole collections of new separates—lots of new things that match with each other and a lots of previous things—Even the yellow dress has a few “go's with”--like the blue vest (with the yellow/blue/white print lining, Or the yellow/grey/white vest,(from last summer) or the light grey vest (that matches the light grey skirt) or even the dark purple vest—I like high contrast—and purple and yellow are contrasting colors! Not to mention, other accessories like hats, and scarves, (knit ones, or pashima ones) I even have a pair of pinkish/purple sneakers that will go well with the bubble gum pink skirt, the claret skirt and the purple skirt and vest. I sew for myself as if I were a buyer for a store! Lots of go together separates, in lots of different colors (even if there is a limited variation of styles.)

And May won't be the end of my Saturday for sewing spree.