Shirt Archeology

Various ziplock bags with shirt pieces are starting to stack up around the sewing area.  My daughter, A, wanted some more work shirts, but it has been a long time since I made one. There is a TNT pattern for her in the pattern drawer, but since I was trying all sorts of things with the pattern, I didn’t remember which version was used for her favorite shirt.  I had made it into a princess-seam style with the princess seam coming from the armhole, then changed the princess seam line to the shoulder.  A says that the shoulder version came out too big which is puzzling since it is just the original well-fitting version with the darts moved around, but I cut out another one and will fit it on her when she visits next. The princess seams are much easier and faster to sew than all those darts in the original pattern.  In the meantime, I still couldn’t tell from all the assorted pattern pieces what version was used for the pink-striped shirt that is her favorite.  I ended up wasting a lot of time looking through various pattern envelopes and trying to remember what the pink shirt looked like. This is where the blog comes in handy because otherwise, would I have taken a picture of it?  After hunting up the picture, I can see that the shirt has the original darts:



IMG_6391 I used the faced vent on the sleeve and now I can tell whether it was turned to the front or back.  I still think that the collar for this pattern looks too large for the shirt, so I am changing a few things (again).  This time the shirt will have the folded front band I like so much combined with a collar and stand. This does away with the facing.  My SureFit Designs birthday present came with a sheet of collar options, and it was really handy to use those instead of hunting through all my patterns and folding miles of pattern tissue.

Next up is the interfacing application and then it is time to start sewing.

We are now on water restriction, but our allotment is enough to keep the garden going.  We are using some drought techniques I wanted to try, like planting in a furrow instead of on a raised bed so the water is channeled to the roots, using drip hoses, and reusing clean water from the house.  A lot of water is wasted waiting for the hot water to get to the faucet, so I run that water into a container and use it to water plants.  I also reuse water that I used to rinse off vegetables.  So far, so good.  We are picking basil, cucumbers, plums, and peaches right now.

DSC01303The garden is green but the lawn is brown.  Can’t eat the lawn, so it is last on the list.

DSC01304I am loving the raised planter my husband built for me.  It seems to need less watering, and the beans and basil are doing very well.  Lots of volunteer dill sprouted there too.

In between carrying around buckets of water, I have been making the ribbings of many sweaters:


Rib borders for future sweater cardigans

After the borders are knit by hand (because I like the way they look, and I think the hand-knit borders wear better) they are hung from the knitting machine needles and the rest of the sweater is knit very quickly.  The knitting machine I use the most was packed up during the recent work on the house, so I had to set it up again.  That’s all finished so time to get back to knitting and sewing.

In the sewing department, I finished up my first pattern using the Sure Fit Design system.  I have a shirt pattern I have used a lot, but I was never satisfied with the way it fit through the shoulders.  I used my SFD draft to alter the pattern and am very interested to see how it fits now.  I cut a shirt out of heavy chambray to test it out.

Spring Chores

Now that my machines are all ready for sewing, I am cutting out some tops and hemming some tablecloths.  We are in for a drought year, the pundits say, but we have had some really good rainstorms this winter, and our water supply isn’t as bad off as some counties, so I am going to go ahead with a small vegetable garden.  I’ve started my seeds:

DSC01106We are in the middle of a rainy week right now with another storm front supposed to pass through tomorrow.  Meanwhile, the poppies and roses are blooming.

DSC01110 DSC01109 The lavender and sage are blooming too.

DSC01111Our fruit trees are looking great, but the ancient camellia bush by the front door that was here when we moved in decades ago seems to have died over the winter.   Meanwhile, the rose bush out front has more roses on it than ever:

DSC01090Hoping for a rainy month ahead.

Sewing Machines

When I was taking care of an older relative a few years ago, I thought the time might come when I would need to stay overnight, so maybe it would be a good idea to have a sewing machine over there to give me something to do during the down times.  I found a nice Singer 404 in a thrift shop in Petaluma for only $35, with a cabinet.  That is a lovely solid metal machine:

DSC00991-001Well, now it is several years later and my sister mentioned wanting a vintage machine, so, since I already have a 301A that is very similar, I gave this one to her.  She lives upstate, so we had a lovely drive up there to take her the machine.  She has much more room for a machine in a cabinet than I have.

I have been thinking about my machines and how I really don’t know how they work, and every time something goes wrong I have to take them into the shop.  Around here the rate for a visit to the shop is at least $130.  That can put a dent in your budget very quickly.  I decided to learn a little more about my machines and how to do proper maintenance, including what lubricants and oils to use where.  I got a book about fixing vintage machines and looked up information on the internet.  I was especially interested in the Singer 401A information because I have one with a frozen cam stack with a cam stuck in it.  I learned that Tri-Flow is what professionals use:

Fullscreen capture 3102015 45637 PM

This is used in places your manual tells you to use sewing machine oil.

Fullscreen capture 3102015 50008 PM

This is used on gears and places where your manual tells you to use lubricant instead of oil.

So I tackled my first sewing machine fix.  I used the Tri-Flow, a hair dryer, and followed the advice of an excellent video I watched (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdaWx1gGZWg), and hurray, I got the stuck cam out, managed to get the stitch selectors working again, and all in all, felt proud of myself.

Turtle Bib

This turtle fabric was a lucky find in the remnant bin and is big enough to make several bibs.

DSC01060Sometimes it’s fun to make a bib that requires no fancy work like embroidery or applique and to just allow the cute fabric to speak for itself.  This fabric made up into a nice bib:

DSC01055I finished another grocery bag, but then the tension on my machine just stopped working, so I guess it is destined to visit the repairman.  I’ve been meaning to try out another one of my machines so now is the time.

Grocery Bags

The first two grocery bags are finished and are on their way to be filled with groceries.  The first bag was sewn in the same way the paper grocery bag is put together but that was a huge hassle and took all day to sew.  The second bag was sewn in the fast tote-bag style with the bottom corners sewn across to square them off, plus some topstitching down the side folds, and that was so much easier and looked much better.  I love it when that happens – the easy way wins! I got the spouse to model the bag which is pretty much exactly the size of a brown paper grocery bag.

DSC01051When my daughter was here to pick up the bags, she said they should have a piece of cardboard or something like that on the bottom so the bag would keep its shape.  I suddenly thought of all the plastic cutting boards I had bought at IKEA a few weeks ago, so we got one out and cut it to size.  The cutting board was big enough to make two of the bag bottoms.  Here’s the product name:
DSC01054I cut the insert about 6 1/2″ x 11 1/2″  (I measured the bottom width of each bag because they vary a bit) and put it in the bottom of the bag.  I rounded the corners so that the plastic would not poke through the fabric. Cutting the plastic is easy to do since it cuts easily with scissors.  Here it is in the bag:
DSC01052The removable insert keeps the bag looking crisp and square and is washable by hand if some grocery item leaks on it.  It has to be removed before you put the bag in the washer and dryer, especially the dryer because it could melt all over the dryer drum.

Now I need to make a few bags for myself, and then I will continue in my effort to never ever pay for a grocery bag.


February Already?

Lots of stuff going on around here, but not a lot of sewing.  We had some construction done on the house, and we are still waiting for the inspections and finishing up.  Today my husband did some painting, and tomorrow I’ll have to put back one of the bookcases and restock the books, and then, hopefully, back to the sewing machine.

One of my first projects will be to sew up some grocery bags.  Yes, our state has gone shopping bag mad and passed annoying laws that make you pay for the bags for your purchases.  Years ago they said that paper bags were evil and bad for the environment (poor innocent trees were killed to make the bags) so we were forced to switch to plastic bags.  Now they have decided that plastic bags are evil and have banned them, and if you want a paper bag you have to pay for it.  I am not fond of junk-science environmentalists who keep making mistakes and changing their minds whilst messing with our lives.  Since I am ticked off about this, I refuse to ever pay for a shopping bag.  Since it is important to have clean bags because they can carry germs, they need to be washable.  I saved a paper grocery bag to use as a pattern and have bought up a large stash of white canvas from the craft thrift store to make the bags.  I haven’t decided exactly what style of bag to sew but it will be the size and shape of a standard brown paper grocery bag.  My daughters want some bags, too, so I think I will use several construction styles and let the girls test them out to see which one works the best.  Hopefully it will be the one that is the easiest to make.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.