Sunday, 9 November 2014

Tale of a Skirt

I finally finished the skirt from well below the earth's crust.

If I hadn't still loved it, right up to the last stitch, it might have been a wadder.

Let's also admit that every problem was really operator error.

I've made this skirt before so I really knew what I was up against. I got the idea from a Thread's article many moons ago, but didn't like the way they approached it. Still don't. My way is better, I just don't listen to myself either, at times.

The idea is to feature a fabric you don't want to cut into. My first skirt was a silk plaid. This time it was a Bali batik with border prints. I wanted to keep the border intact.

So you make a skirt yoke to fit you and then attach the skirt fabric to it. I took a strip of base fabric and measured out my hips and drew in a waist line, about 5" apart (as they are on me). I cut lines from the waist down to the hip line, about 5" apart. Its not an exact science. Then you overlap at these cuts to form dart like structures that create a waist to your measurements. You end up with a curved skirt yoke that fits you.

Of course you may also have a skirt pattern that fits and does this for you. I needed to spend needless time on a fool's errand, apparently.

Then you cut the darts so the dart fold is gone and use a fusible interfacing to hold the whole thing together. It's flat that way. Now you have a base to attach the fabric to. I also added a second layer of fusible (not shown here) to give more strength.

Important! Now sew in the back seam, up to where the zipper will be. If you don't you will spend a HUGE amount of time draping, sewing, ripping and resewing that seam until it lies flat. I knew that from last time. There is no excuse. I refuse to discuss this further. No point.

So roughly divide the skirt fabric into nice units. Divide the waist into the same number of units. Maybe 14? Mark these units with something removable.  Pin the skirt to the skirt yoke, matching the units. You will have more skirt fabric than yoke. Now relax, and start smooching that excess fabric to the skirt, making little or big pleats that flatten the excess out. Don't be too particular. You are looking for a bit of a gypsy flair.

Baste these folds down. Leave the seam allowance for the zipper alone and don't send any folds in that direction. Get out your threads and fancy sewing machine feet and maybe some trims and start stitching that yoke down. Again, go for a gypsy look and keep your lines wandering. I enjoyed that part muchly. You really can't overdo it. The yoke will give you stabilization. Stick in a zipper. Add a waistband or waist facing. Wear!

Do you know batiks? Quilters use them a lot. They are lightweight, smooth and gorgeous! They also don't seem to fray and are quite stable and on grain. The selvedge is smooth and I could use it for the hem without any wrinkles or pulling.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

With Just Their Teeth!

I was walking in the park a week ago with a friend and we noticed a tree down near the entrance. We took a closer look and determined that it was the work of an industrious beaver.

Fast forward a week and here is what you get.

Many more trees down.

Water well up to here. The Forest Hills extension is threatened!

Streams are morphing into ponds.

That's what you get when beavers move into town. They're like biker gangs. Tough, and they only come out at night. Can you believe what these little guys do with their teeth? Their teeth!!!!

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Ugly T-Shirt Makeover

First let me mention that I needed to dress for a thing the other day and after several outfits were rejected and flung across the room I came to the conclusion that I need a new wardrobe.

A whole new closet full of clothes that I like, that fit and look amazing on me. I'll get back to you on that topic. Any suggestions?

I have ugly t-shirts. I look dreadful in a crew neck and yet I get these shirts at events that I want to wear for various reasons. So I wanted to find a way to redo the neck easily (who wants to spend more time than the shirt is worth?). It also happens that they are always too long for me. New neck and hem please.

Side bar: Nothing takes an outfit down faster than sleeves or hems that drag. Frumpy. Very frumpy. 

So happily the 2 alterations go together. First cut off the hem. The nicely pressed folded edge will come in handy.

Now find a neckline you like on some other garment or pattern. Trace it onto paper so you can make other adjustments and make notes about what works. A curved ruler should always be close at hand to smooth curves. Trace both front and back, people! 

Really all that is required is a nice line that doesn't take off too much. The neckline patterns need to include about 1 cm seam allowance. Just recognize that the opening will end up 1 cm deeper and wider than you cut. Trace the pattern pieces onto your t-shirt. Make sure the back and front pattern pieces align at the shoulder edges and that they are centred. Cut away the old neckline. Deep breath. It's only a shirt!

Trim the hem fold you cut off to 1/2". You can adjust this amount as you see fit. I was looking for 1/4" edge showing when the neckline was completed.

 Pin that folded, trimmed edge to the right side of the cut neckline. The fold faces the garment - raw edges together. 

 Sew the edge to the neckline with a tiny zigzag stitch at about 1/4" seam allowance. Don't use a 1/4" foot as you make zigzag your way to a broken needle and/or foot. (Yes, done that.) Give the edging a bit of a pull to make it lie smoothly when done. My fabric was quite stable so a slight pull was all it needed. More stretch, more pull required.

 I started at the back and used this You Tube video to make a mitred join when I got back to the beginning. I have tape on the deck of my machine that lines up with the needle. I use it to guide the bottom edge in a straight line when I'm doing bias or triangle seams. If you look closely you can see the bottom fabric corner is following the tape line. Here we are - all done step one!

 Turn the new neck edge to the inside and topstitch it in place from the right side. Use a stretchy stitch. A plain tiny zigzag will do, but I went with a decorative stitch. Again, the fabric was stable enough that I didn't need a stabilizer underneath. I was living on the edge! Then remember to zip up a new hem. I used the same decorative stitch. So match/matchy!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Dusting in Blogland

It seems people do read me occasionally. Who knew? I have been complimented on my list of goodies on the web, which means I now have to update that page as I believe it's pretty dusty.

There is so much goodness out there, and I really appreciate the efforts of those who post their ideas and projects. I respect their idea ownership and try to give credit where credit belongs. When people also sell patterns I purchase from those whose free patterns worked out well. I prefer bricks and mortar stores, but after midnight, what's a girl to do? I do both.

The Great P and I have been teaching a quilted jacket class for the last 2 weeks. It has been a huge amount of fun. Sewists are the best people to spend a day with, and although teaching does wipe you out it is good. The students have all been great sewists (sewers just doesn't look right, people) but each came with their skills in their own particular direction. Some were quilters, some garment makers, some embroiderers - all looking at the project from that view point. It really brought home that I tend to take certain knowledge for granted. Just because someone is a perfect stitcher doesn't mean they have ever eased in a sleeve, and that has its own bit of finesse required. I need to be more detailed in my instructions. What an excellent job they all did, in spite of my best efforts to mess them up!

I love this time of year! The clear skies and cool nights just make me run to my jelly cupboard and admire my jars. I nest in the fall. Robins in the spring, me in the fall.

The sewing room is a real mess. Yep, even more that before! I just handed in 2 projects to my quilting guild and they were intense. As a fund raising charity project we were given a kit of fabric and told to come back with a result worth at least $25. It then gets sold at a show October 2-4 at the IWK . Now, everyone run out and bid a bizillion dollars on my bag o'bags.

It was a lovely crisp fall evening and you meet friends downtown for a cold one. A handsome stranger approaches and your eyes meet! Ooooh! 

S/he inquires as to your availability for a date, that night, but travel is required. 

"Not a problem" you say (after googling the date's credentials and marital status). "I always carry a travel bag in my Porsche. 

And here it is!

A cup cozy and mug mat for the stylish tray table as you fly off to Paris.

A travel wallet in which to tuck your passport, First Class boarding pass and receipts to prove what a bargain you got on the Chanel jacket.


Luggage tags. 

A teeny wallet to tuck away your shopper reward cards for the airport shops.

A zipped wallet that can double as an evening clutch.

A perfect, unique tote for daytime travel.

A backpack to tuck all this into - that then rolls up into the outer pocket as a shopping bag for the tote. (I forgot to line the tote pocket, so it's a bit ugly when you do that, so don't.)

And let's not forget - a tissue holder to hand to him/her when you decide to dump them.

And that is how I plan to raise a bizillion dollars for the IWK.

Now to really push the pressure, the guild also had a September Challenge due the same night. We were given a random quilting magazine in May and told to come with something made that was inspired by that magazine.

I was not inspired. I did hear of others making a quilt block or something else small. I should not have believed any of them! The results I saw at the meeting were incredible!

I decided to go well beyond a simple single block and made 4 complete, full sized quilts - exactly as represented in the magazine.

So I got out my T-shirt transfers, photocopied 4 quilts from the magazine and quilted them each perfectly! Four little miniature colour quilts. I believe this may be the best cheater quilts I've ever done!

You get away with this kind of nonsense once, right? I enjoyed it immensely! May I take a bow?

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The First Day of School

Today being the first day of school a group of retired teachers got together for tea and crumpet. It was lovely!

I knew people, and I was quite prepared to know no one. We caught up and the air was all atwitter. It was lovely to see people and reminisce.

There seemed to be a bit of a divide. Some people are quite busy being grandparents. Some people have taken up new exercise routines. Some people have no idea what to do, and find it all very confusing. They've been retired for years and feel like it has been wasted time. They want to make a new life, but don't know what that looks like yet.

Think of the changes we've gone through. We had a 'very bossy, in charge, make it happen' job for a long time.  We worked with other people just like us. We got up every morning, dressed for success and roared off to earn the daily dog bone.

Some of us have gone from parenting to observing grown children at a distance. Our houses are too big and don't suit our new circumstances. Should we dump it all for an apartment? Condo? Money is a little tighter but our expenses have shifted, and our financial needs are still evolving to fit retirement.

And we don't know what to do with our day. We don't know how to revalue what we do end up doing.  Is it OK to read the paper till 11? What if I don't finish the Sudoku? If I read all afternoon am I lazy? Am I wandering aimlessly through life? Is this all there is? Teachers are so driven and expect so much from themselves. It's hard for us to relax and breathe.

My first year was way too busy. I wanted to do everything! My eyes were huge and there was so much candy to try. I have always liked to try new things and retirement gave me the opportunity to do that. I took classes. I learned to make bobbin lace. I sewed and made baskets. We travelled during the school year! I volunteered in a classroom. I volunteered with Grannies. If it was new I wanted to try that. My days were quite full. I often left parts of the paper unread. I felt a bit rushed.

Now I still do lots of things, just in moderation. I have to keep myself in check. I still want to do everything. My eyes are way to big for my calendar, and I'm finding I like to move slower now.  I like to finish the paper. Having my part time job is excellent! I get to dress up and see new people. I am helpful (I hope) and it's a whole new world without any of the real responsibility of my last job.  It starts at 10 - no early mornings!

I find myself looking at things more carefully and deciding not to do everything I want to do. I am giving myself permission to live slower and more thoughtfully. I savour the day.  I stop and sniff roses. Happiness is in the small things for me. With another 30 or 40 years I may get the hang of this yet. I'm learning to let go of my own driven expectations.

How are you doing? How has your life changed?

Sunday, 31 August 2014


I think I spilled something on my keyboard. I'm having trouble with n and l. Note to self; you are a slob. Had to type the previous N twice.

My blackberry patch is bursting forth! They are fat, sweet and juicy! You need a full rain suit to collect them; the thorns are vicious! They fruit over several weeks, so you can keep picking, and picking....

I don't actually own the blackberries. It's a vacant lot next door. If they ever decide to build we will have to strike a deal. Or they will find a bare patch of earth some morning where thorns used to be.

I just finished a purse for the store. It's the Ursula pattern by the same people who brought us the Professional Tote. Therefore the directions are excellent and detailed, but you have to read them. I like lots and lots of pictures. They give enough pictures and fill in with time consuming words. ADHD anyone? However they write well and don't leave anything out. Good for any level of sewer.

The design is really well done. It's got everything a purse could imagine. There is a wallet pocket with flap on the outside. It has little flanges to keep everything from falling out. It has an inset zippered top. I haven't inset the zipper like this before and it works nicely. They include little exterior side pockets and lots of little pockets, inside, outside, zipped and not. I used some Inspira Decofuse to really stiffen the straps and bottom. It seems Pellon has a stiffener with the same name. It's not the same thing.

I mentioned the Ledwidge Lookoff Rally last post. It went very well! I was a fashion plate in my altered Official t-shirt. Those event t-shirts with bulky crew neck are not in the least bit chic.  They're also too long. I rearranged the shirt in about 10 minutes - necessary as I altered the wrong shirt the night before and had to do the right one at 5 am the next morning. Full instructions in the next post. I also have a great use for ugly event shirts you no longer want. Coming soon as I get the pics done!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Ledwidge Lookoff Rally Weekend

Sorry I haven't posted in a bit. I have been sewing and do have things to show. The big car rally of the year for us is this weekend. We organize now and don't drive. So sad.

However, there will be a car display at Dartmouth Crossing from 3 to 5 on Saturday - followed by a spectator stage at Conrad's Gravel Pit at 6. The spectator stage is easily viewed, short and meant to be for show, although the times are included in Sunday's rally. Come out and see what we are up to!

More info here at