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 http://www.lookoffrally.com.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

A Whole Bunch of Nothing

Here are some of my Natal Day experiences. That lovely dog entertained us all at the parade by putting nose to the sky and hooooowling with every siren and bagpipe that went by. In true Dartmouth form I saw everybody I ever knew at the parade. 

The box car was part of a very long train passing through the middle of the ferry terminal parking lot. The stage for the music concert was on the other side. That train goes every year (probably every night?) at that time. Concert would not be the same without it!

The Great Lake Swimmers were on and I had heard them on CBC and liked them. Off I went for the live version. Mistake! They are a mellow and mournful group. After a few of their 'mournful and sad' tunes - all of which sounded just the same - I was completely sad. So sad. The fireworks perked me up, thank heavens!

There was a large crowd of the 'younger set' waiting well off from the stage. I can understand their lack of interest. However after the fireworks they were rewarded with an excellent DJ/rapper type. Nice young crowd. Well mannered and keen.

And as usual the Dartmouth Banook Lake fireworks ended with the biggest waterfall ever! Yah!

Look at this pillow! It's from a new embroidery card from Husqvarna. Instead of using Christmas colours I went pretty and bright. I'm thinking these designs will be quite useful. I'm planning to pop one on the bottom of my next jewelry bag.

Here we have my new machine cover! I don't know about you but dust can be a problem in my sewing room. Probably because I'd rather sew than clean. It just makes sense. I have more of this fabric to make covers for the other current busy bodies. Like the embroideries? Bertha has attitude. 

 And now for my latest baby. It's a toy, and I have great hopes for using it soon. It needs a small adjustment in timing, I think. Found this in a nice shop out the Musquodoboit way.

Last, and least in my mind is my first and last attempt at hand quilting. IT'S HARD! I can't make little consistent stitches! However, It does make a lovely tea cozy. Notice how I used left over scraps from my quilted jacket for the reverse side. Waste not, want not!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

My Latest Addition!

DH and I went to the Caledonia area 30 mile yard sale today. It was a lovely time! Nice drive and great food when we stopped into Mahone Bay for lunch (Kedy House - excellent food!).


Just before Mahone Bay we stopped into a barn of junk for sale and noticed an unusual silhouette  stacked on many other layers of stuff. DH was first to spot it.

My heart did a little flip. It was a treadle machine, but not a shape I knew. It was smaller than expected and (after we hauled off some junk) identified as a Wanzer by the foot pedal. I needed to see it.

The man in charge was cranky and would not allow it to come down for viewing until I agreed to a general range of price. I don't know why, as DH did all the lifting. The more we looked the more we saw. All the important parts and pieces were there - bobbins and shuttle included! DH had it tucked in the car before the cranky man could tuck away the cash!

It's a Wanzer A - one of the early ones I think. That means 1870 to 1880 I think.

 Here is the machine lifted off the treadle. It lifts off and has a hand crank for table top use! The base is marble to give it weight.The top thread would be impossible to thread without very detailed instructions. At one point the thread passes through a guide for the second time, in the opposite direction. The bobbin is even more convoluted! It uses a series of holes for tension. However, if you do anything wrong the machine won't move. Excellent fail safes!

 Here is the first seam. I used paper towel so I could tear my way out of disasters. Saw that one on You Tube. It is a beautiful stitch! The bobbin thread broke, but then again it's probably 100 years old, so I'll forgive and forget.

Here it is in complete form. Don't mind the black tape. It's not as bad as it looks.

The top has been removed. The machine fits into the table to provide a flat top for work.

Here are the attachments. Those are the original instructions and they are readable. 

This is the presser foot. It has a hole for threading wire. I assume cording as well? Other feet slide over this foot to fit onto it.

Here is the bobbin wonder.

Here is the tiniest rolled hem foot I've ever seen. It slides over the presser foot.

And now off to the fireworks to celebrate!