Sweater Refashion 2

I bought 5 sweaters last year.  One is already in the ‘donate’ box. It slides off the shoulders and is permanently sexy whilst I desired always warm. Another is a light weight but opaque sweater knit, (real sweater knit not this sheer crap I’ve been sewing). The sweater knit was printed in black and blue and finished with glitzy gem like buttons. I don’t expect it to last much longer.  It is pretty, comfortable and I wear it often but it doesn’t like the laundry very well, even the Dryell route.  The other 3 have turtle necks. I got up the courage to amputate one of my sewn turtle necks the first of last week.  This week I decided to work on the first of my purchased sweaters:

I like this sweater. It’s very classic looking. The deep turtle neck made it ‘current’ last year. The deep turtle neck made it impossible to wear outside the house. I was absolutely too hot.  The success of last week made me think it might be possible to make this a daily wear garment if I amputated it’s turtle neck. Problem is this is actually attached between two bindings and it is a very thick, rounded join.

I contemplated ripping, but couldn’t be sure I was slicing the right threads. I decided to smooth the turtle neck to the inside and pin it there

Until I could stitch at my Dream Machine:

I’m again using the lightening stitch 1-6 set at 5mm long and .5 wide.  I have the laser light on because it was difficult to see exactly where I was stitching and the guide foot with its little blade didn’t want to stay in the ditch.  I know the laser looks a little off but it is accurate to the end of the foot. I kept adjusting the neckline to feed under the laser exactly at the end of the foot. It was perfect.

Have I mentioned the auto threading of the Dream? It’s another bit of perfection activated by the button here:

You run the thread through the path just like on the PE770 then push this button. It’s the closest I’ve had, including the PE770, to truly automatic threading. It works perfectly. Every time. I remember fighting with the original ‘auto threaders’ and wishing I could get them out-of-the-way so I could thread the embroidery machine myself.  The Janome 9500 and Ruby were somewhat better; or maybe I was just familiar with the process.  The PE770 was astonishing. Hit the handle and it sort of threw the thread into the needle’s eye. The Dream is amazing. It’s a smooth, quiet process. I’m so spoiled by it.

This picture is not very clear but when I finished stitching around the neckline, I trimmed the collar using my applique aka duck-billed scissors.

I like the way these scissors lift the fabric up and help keep me from cutting places I don’t want cut. It still needs a little care on my part i.e. I can still cut the wrong thing if I’m not paying attention.

Finished neckline:

Worn with my favorite DG2 Jeans, The modern boot cut. Which is slim though thigh and leg but flares about and inch at the ankle. Very slimming IMO.

Despite the model’s face above, I’m really happy with the finished sweater.  I’ve worn it once already and it performed as expected.  The stitching at the neck doesn’t pop. What remains of the turtle neck stays tucked inside.  Not sure what those lumps are in front of my abdomen. The sweater is a smooth knit. I’m contemplating shortening the sleeves and maybe even the hem. But probably not. This is a Walmart purchase. I don’t expect it to be long-lasting but I do expect to be able to wear it more than once per year.

Too much stash?

My DIL calls and tells me her dad bought new sheets and they (the sheets) came in a fabric bag which she kind of liked. She thinks it would be a good bag to carry just a few things in but would prefer to have a handle/strap on her bag for carrying. Could I help?


Here’s the bag:

It’s an interesting paisley print in cream, rust and a dulled Chartreuse. As soon as I beheld the actual bag, I knew I had fabric that would work.

A voile fabric made it into my stash about 4 years ago.  I’ve always intended that it should be a summer over blouse or even dress. It works perfectly with the bag my DIL sent. The finished bag:

And I still have plenty for the summer garment. Is that too much stash?

What’s this?

It’s the carrying case I just made for this:

I’ve had my little netbook for a couple of weeks now and like DS, I have to say I love it.  I much prefer working inside an OS I understand and can manipulate to work like me. It is a little bigger than the ‘Droid. Which is both a downside and a plus.  As a plus, it means I can view the entire width of a web page on the screen. As a downside, it’s kinda of hefty to grab and carry around. Oh and I do carry it around.  I use it mostly at my chair in the living room and then downstairs in the StitchingStudio.  The mouse is a bit wonky, especially inside Internet Explorer; so I like to add an external mouse.  I also need access to some of my data. I copy my data to a 8GB SD card and carry that with me too.  I have an 1GB SD card “roosted” to add memory to Netbook. I’m probably going to upgrade the internal memory.  It really does make a difference to have that extra 1GB of memory.  Boot-up, before the roosted memory is available, is the slowest process.  For now though my SD port is constantly in use with the roosted memory, so I use a USB adaptor to use my 8GB SD card. (Try saying that 3 times, fast).


Point is, I not only carry around my netbook but also a mouse and a USB thumb drive (the adaptor for the 8GB card). That’s quite a handful, especially if I need to take something else downstairs to the StitchingStudio.  After a few weeks I decided I wanted needed an easier grab-and-go method.  I knocked this together yesterday in about an hour.



As usual, my pics leave something to be desired. Above I’m trying to show the netbook closed with it’s handles around it.

The Handles (that’s what I’m calling my carrying case) have two 8-1/2″ lengths of elastic across the top and bottom to hold the netbook to the handles. My elastic is 1″ wide and does cover up just a bit more than I desire of both the screen (on top) and the mouse (on the bottom).  Since I usually don’t use the mouse-pad, the mouse is not that much trouble. But covering up 1/4″ of screen means I don’t always see some things, like the minimize/exit buttons.   When the netbook is open, the handles themselves are out of the way and not a problem at all.

I put a slightly larger pocket on the the top side to hold the mouse



and on the backside is a smaller pocket to hold the adaptor.



I consider this a prototype.  I need to see if my measurements and pocket sizes work for me; as well as if the whole dang idea is a go or a mess.


So far I’d say

  1. the size is good
  2. the pockets need to be a little bigger and have a closure to secure the contents
  3. the elastic needs to be replace with something narrower, maybe two velcroed strips that meet?
  4. the color is terrible.  I chose this model of netbook for it’s beautiful blue color. My handles completely cover that up. YUK.


But I’ve only used it for a few hours.  I need to use it a little bit more and then craft the final version.

Butterick 5070 in Bamboo

This almost became a UFO.  I cut it weeks ago and kept getting side tracked onto other projects.  The fabric is Bamboo from Fabricmart.com.  This is the 2nd piece I purchased but the first to be sewn.  The first purchased was an olive green (like the light colored olives stuffed with pimentos).  That light olive is not a color I like, but it is a color which looks good one. It’s also a color in my personal color wheel.  They say usually your personal colors will be colors that you like and reach for. Not the case for the light olive.  I don’t like for it or reach for  it. But boy do my cheeks pop with color, my eyes glisten icy blue and my lips look like roses.  I just don’t like light olive and that’s why I didn’t sew the first cut of fabric.  I kept delaying until Fabricmart put this Cobalt blue on sale.  Even at 40% off, I wouldn’t call it cheap. But I was curious.


I’m also a machine knitter.  I’d purchased a beautiful pink cone of bamboo yarn about 4 years ago.  Think fabric is cheap?  Try yarn. On sale the 1 KG cone was $35.99 plus shipping which I think was about $6. I could buy a nice branded shirt for less than what I paid for that cone of yarn. I couldn’t get a reliable gauge.  When you machine knit, you make a sample and then measure the rows and stitches over a given number of inches. The larger the sample, the more reliable your gauge will be.  I usually take the standard 40″ by 60 rows and 4″ by 4″.  If my knitting looks off, I measure on the piece in progress and start over.  Now there’s a whole procedure and I haven’t given you the half of it, but let me say I repeated the procedure complete with laundry, resting and pressing multiple times. I changed the gauge multiple times and reknit until the yarn shredded.  I then threw that portion of yarn away and started again.  Eventually I didn’t have enough yarn to make a tank top and quit.  I loved the feel of the yarn. I loved the way it handled but could never get the yarn to stabilize and produce garment pieces with the same gauge.  It would be like cutting a size 8 sleeve, 12 front and 16 back.  It’s hard to put those pieces together and unless you have real physical anomalies (apologies to you if you do) the garment isn’t going to fit.


Whew, the point is, I wanted to try the bamboo as fabric.  I wanted to know how it wears.  Is it comfortable?  Is it slick and oily? Sweaty?  Does it grow? or shrink?  Does it stink? So I bought the light olive, but couldn’t stand the thought of wearing it.  I was so glad to find my best blue in bamboo.  But it was pricey so I waited for the sale.  Then I’ve dawdled at making it.  Finally yesterday, I stitched out a 15 minute embroidery and chose the fastest finish possible:  visible serging.  I didn’t even hem it.  I used the suggestion from Loes Hinse newsletter and serged one time with cutting blade and a 2nd time without the cutting blade.


That’s the finished sleeve and I will say that IRL the thread and fabric match. It’s an OK finish.  I think I prefer a rolled edge or a flat hem turned up and stitched.  But I do like to try new ideas.  I didn’t shorten the sleeves or hem.  In the back of my mind I was thinking “if I don’t like this, I can always turn up a real hem and hide it all”


I haven’t even tried it on. I’m that confident of initial fit.  This is the turtle neck top from Butterick that was very similar if not the same as the turtle neck top Burda Style released in one of 2010 fall’s issue.  The turtle neck is perfect, neither too tall, too short, too tight, too loose.  The cut-on dolman-sleeve is another winning combination.  I cut this with a center back seam just to get all the pieces out of the 1 yard of fabric I purchased.  I was concerned about nap but the fabric doesn’t seem have that problem. It’s a simple 4-seam top which I made into 5 seams.  I plan to wear the collar scrunched as above (I already have 2 versions with the turned forward turtle neck).  I’m surprised one of the Big 4 hasn’t really maxed this pattern out.  I can think of several easy changes.  I did the center seam in back. How about the center seam in front? Or both front and back?  How about center front seam with the turtle neck portion left open to form a Johnny collar?  It wouldn’t be too hard to cut a V-neck, U-neck, Jewel-neck version.  Or change the length of sleeves. Or add cuffs.   Anyway, this is a great pattern, which already fits wonderfully so I didn’t try it on.

The next project is Vogue 1264

maybe… possibly.


Funny thing. During the stash reorganization I often felt brain dead. There were times I revealed a beautiful piece of fabric not forgotten but certainly hiding with its brethren or sisters. But there was so much junk.  I carried off 8 boxes that are 18″long 14″ wide and 10 deep.  I piled the boxes high and pushed hard to compact as much as possible.  I did have 1 box of books. But still there were 7 boxes of fabric in my house which were unloved. Surprisingly those boxes were filled with a lot of fabrics I was given.  I complained about this previously; these fabrics which someone else didn’t like, didn’t want but insisted that I must like, want and use. My mother tried to teach me manners and consideration for others.   Sigh. You know, I wouldn’t mind  few comments from any of you suggesting how I can handle this situation nicely. Accepting the fabric graciously and disposing of it later, doesn’t seem to be the answer.  Too many people will see my stash, give me something totally different from any of my collection and will demand to know what I’ve made with their very important gift the next time I see them.  Too often, the next time I see them I cringe and try to avoid all sewing discussions.  There must be a kind way to handle this.


But what I really wanted to write about, is the freedom and resurgence of my sewing mojo.  I’m amazed that I’m looking at fabrics and have 3 or 4 ideas of how to use them.  I’m excited and have at least 12 projects in my closet to start on ….. BUT I can’t because I have so many ideas I can’t settle on just one to take action on. LOL what a delemina.  I have so many ideas, I’m fluttering like a butterfly between ideas, fabrics, notions and reality.  LOL


I really needed yesterday.  I went to Sewing Club which was an enforced day of no actual sewing.  It was a day for exchanging ideas and meeting up with old friends.  I think we all try to make the September and November meetings.  The rest of the year we allow family and life to interfere, but these 2 meetings leave a hole in our souls if we can’t attend.  This was neither the best nor the worst meeting I’ve attended.  I didn’t learn a whole lot, but I did have a wonderful social activity.  I did a little shopping but not much buying. No really, I bought 18″ wide tracing paper and some elastic for me. I bought another 3-in-One color wheel for DH. The forced downtime was so good for me.  My right brain was active and excited with the socail contacts while my left brain continued to consider all the possibilities I’d unearthed last week. I’m not sure if it was the left brain or the right brain, but somehow I made a few decisions. A very important realization was that I knew clearly what I do wanted to do with 2 projects. I had some very good plans with a few details that need to be tweaked and then I had a large number of barely-together projects.  I think of the last as butterfly projects that seemed to occupy my thoughts and prevent me from taking action.  At some point during yesterday, I decided I should

  • start on the 2 projects I have very definite ideas about
  • refine the few that are beginning to come together- but still have a detail or two to resolve- while I’m working on the first 2 projects
  • allow the left brain to continue exploring ideas for the Butterfly Projects.

Make sense? So today I placed the black silk matka on the cutting table; retrieved the black silk crepe that will be the contrasting collar, front panel, cuffs and welts and astonishingly found the perfect lining. My lining will be a charcoal grey silk charmeuse.  I had not put this fabric in the linings nor with silk matka. But when I found it next to the black crepe I wanted to use as the contrast for Vogue 1264, I knew, just knew it was right.


I did a little happy dance and started reading directions.  I sort of expected more tailoring aspects.  I’m quite surprised that a shoulder pad is not called for; and I do not like that the closure is simply a large hook and eye at the throat. Sew in interfacing was specified at some critical points but little else in the way of tailoring or step-above construction techniques.


This pattern has design issues for me.  I am very much the pear shaped woman.  I love the front contrasting panels, but I’m afraid that they will highlight or bring attention to my narrow shoulders.  There is no shaping in this pattern. No darts, no curved seams, nothing that would really fool the eye into thinking I’ve got a great shape.  That single hook and eye at the throat will, I know this from past experience, only make my shoulders look narrower.  I’m not sure about those sleeves. No scratch that.  This jacket will primarily be used in the fall and early winter maybe some spring time use. I’m intending to create a jacket that will add a little warmth during the cooler seasons. I know 3/4 sleeves aren’t going to work.  When I length them, the contrasting cuff isn’t going to work either.  Suddenly I’m going to have something shiny and swinging right next to my hips.  Ya’ think that’s going to make my hips and shoulders look balanced?


To add to this the fabric, Silk Matka, is an unknown to me.  (PS I wouldn’t mind a few comments to point me in the right direction.)   I bought this fabric because I’ve read where several designers have made wonderful projects out of a piece of Matka they just happened to have.  Really?  people just happen to have silk in their stash and it means nothing to them.  Any silk I have in my stash, was purchased because the color, texture and price was irresistible. It’s sitting in my stash not as an afterthought, but because it is waiting for the perfect project.  I bought the Silk Matka from Fabricmart  earlier this year because they put it on sale for an unbelievable price and I was truly curious about this particular class of silk that designers would think of as muslin. When I opened my box I said “burlap”.  Then I touched the fabric. No no no , not burlap at all. More like a loose, hand-woven fabric. A fabric that’s had a lot of love and thought put into it. This fabric has a little body but is not stiff.  It’s not soft as cashmere, but feels fine against my skin (obviously I’m not the lady in the Princess and the Pea fairytale).   This could be suitable for wear with my pearls or my jeans.  This fabric deserves a perfect project.


I know it will be fully lined. I don’t know if I will line to the edge and dispense with the facings.


I know that I will put in the pockets.  In the fall I often carry knit mittens to keep my fingers warm.


I know I will use one of the interfacings I’ve purchased from Louise Cutting.  I’ll need to do tests.  I’m not sure if I want to use the light weight or medium weight interfacing.  I don’t know if I want to interface only the facings or if I want to extend the interfacing across the shoulders and the chest; or do I want to block fuse the entire fabric.  I’ll have to do some testing.


I know I will add a small shoulder pad, probably the 1/4″.   Should I add height to the shoulders?  Should I add a sleeve header?  (I have a very nice fleece only 1/8″ thick that would work nicely or would it make the Matka horribly stiff). I’ll have to do some testing.


My contrast is a crepe silk. The crepe is translucent almost transparent.  For sure it will be interfaced and I’m thinking underlined to boot.  Should I interface the underlining or just the the crepe? I’ll have to do some testing.


I’m moving the closure to about the waist or just above; probably in line with the top of the pockets (which will also be underlined/interfaced as soon as I do some testing.)  But I haven’t decided if I want to go for the hook and eye, change to a frog closure or skip the dang thing and just let it flap about. This is not meant to be worn during a blizzard as the outer layer.


Should I keep those cuffs (interfaced and underlined)? Switch to a narrower cuff (and/or sleeve)? Or just make the sleeve long enough to hem like normal?

Designer Bolts

I thought I take a moment to explain the reference I make from time to time “Designer Bolts”.


Mill Ends in Sioux Falls has a table that they label “Designer Bolts”.  I look it over every time I’m in Sioux Falls and usually come home with a cut or two.  But it’s a dicey choice.  I mean, I can’t be certain that the fabric is high quality and will handle well, make up well or survive the laundry.  This term  “designer fabric” can mean all kinds of things.


Primarily “designer fabric” means the fabric on this bolt was once in the store room of a designer for a period of time. Could have been 1 day. Nonetheless at some point a designer looked at this fabric and thought it had promise.


But the designer may have never found a use for it. I’ve heard there is some kind of time limit i.e. designers can stock the bolts for a limited time which out charge. Even though couture and top RTW is expensive, the designers are businessmen. That means they don’t want to pay for unnecessary or unused supplies. In which case the bolt goes out the door without ever having had the chance to show it’s qualities. But a designer had it in his stock room. So it qualifies as a designer fabric


The designer may have used it; tested and marketed the very same fabric. I do recall clothing in the stores similar to some of the fabrics I’ve purchased, but can’t say they are exactly the same. So I could be getting the last of the bolt the designer used or a bolt from the same manufactured run.


The designer may have tested a fabric like it, but no-one was willing to purchase this particular creation. Out the door it goes.


There is a possibility the designer tested the fabric and found it be wanting in some way. Designers mismatch fabric to pattern too. But they aren’t stuck with their errors. They just get rid of the last of the bolt.


Also sometimes fabric is great on the bolt, but requires too much handling during manufacture or too much care by the end user. In which case, bolt goes out the door.


So when I buy from the “designer bolts”, it’s a crap shoot. Usually, it’s high end. The manufacturers want the designer to use their fabric and they give the best to the designer. But for me it’s still a crap shoot. I can’t tell by the bolt or the end of the bolt if it was used, or if not, why wasn’t it used; or was it used and rejected. Can’t tell. I can’t know what this fabric will really be like until I get it home, make it and wear it for a while.

Speaking of the Under2’s

I was yesterday.  At the end of my post I mentioned my Under 2 yard stacks  and today I’m proud to post this picture:

To put this in perspective, my fabric is stored on metal racks (purchased from Costco). The racks are 7′ tall, 4′ wide and 18″ deep.  You can vary the number of shelves, even purchase extra from the manufacturer, but I’m content with the 6 shelves spaced about 18-18 inches apart.  I have 2 shelf units completely full and a third that is half filled with fabric.


I fold my fabric to fit my shelves. So it’s folded 18″ wide and then I have a 4″ by 18″ piece of cardboard that I roll the fabric around.   I pull the cardboard out which leaves me these soft mini-bolts.  Of course the more yards purchased the less “mini” the bolt is.


I separate my stash first by fabrics.  I prefer to have knits together and wovens together and bottom weights together.  I’ve also put the homedec/craft fabrics together, the muslins, the coats and recently the fabric cuts with less than 2 yards.  The last was the result of severe frustration.  I’d want to use a fabric for a particular project, pull it off the shelf and then find there was no way in h@ll that I was going to get enough square inches of fabric to do what I wanted or anything near what I wanted. At first I was just annoyed and putting the fabric “over there” so I wouldn’t grab it again.  Then I started making a bonified effort to put all the cuts under 2 yards together; And finally I was embarrassed at how many bits and pieces of fabric I possessed.  Two years ago, I started really looking for ways to use small yardages.  I amassed quite a few and see a real value in having small cuts. But for the type sewing that I do, 2 full shelves was just too much.  This year instead of looking for ways to use the small cuts, I started making it a point to do projects which would use up those small cuts.


I’m really proud of those two shelves pictured above.  I actually could clear out that small pile of quarter yards, but I happen to like those particular fabrics and have used them in small amounts in several projects.  I will never eliminate the Under2’s. Why?  I purchase fabrics for blouse and knit tops in 1.25 and 2 yard cuts.  I actually expect, before my death which is some times away, but I expect to eventually see that most of my fabrics are in 2 and 3 yard lengths.  The 4 and 5 yard cuts are remainders from when I sewed suits for work.  I have little need for coordinating jacket and pants these days.  Most of my purchases are geared for nice looking blouses, knit tops and good looking trousers/pants.  Believe it or not, I’ve actually been trying to control my fabric purchases.  I think the shelves represent that interest as well.  I buying less fabrics, smaller amounts of fabrics and buying for specific use.  I know that I’m looking at the end of my own life-cycle.  It’s been a great ride but I’d rather not leave my son with the burden of disposing several tonnes of fabrics.

Kwik Sew 3379

I purchased my first ITY just simply so I would know what the fabric was.  I mean I’d read so many references to ITY, RPL and several other acronyms that I was confused.  I purchased just enough for a T shirt, 1 Yard, from Fabricmart.com.  Fabricmart generously sent me 1-1/8 yards. I liked the fabric when it arrived. It has a slinky feel too it. A little weight, but not as much as slinky; and it was a cute print: white with primary colored polka dots. I just knew this would coordinate with lots in my closet, but being intended for a summer garment, I put off sewing until summer arrived. I did however, serge the ends and prewash.  I’ve found that serging the ends helps control the roll of knit fabrics.  In fact on particularly badly rolling knits, I’ll serge the selvages just to help them un-roll.  To my delight, serging the cut edge is totally unnecessary.  ITY does not curl.


Finally warm weather has arrived and I pulled out this ITY to experiment with.  I had it folded double and my tissue on top when I realized I was clearly seeing the yellow lines on my green cutting mat. I mean clearly. I stopped short, un folded it and looked carefully. Yep, pretty sure this white is nearly transparent.  I sat is aside so I could think a bit.  I knew immediately I did not want a transparent T.  Just for fun though, after my shower, I tied it around me sarong style and went out to the living room.  I asked DH if thought this would be alright to wear for “Steak Night”.  He blinked and said “I like it but I’m pretty sure the hospital will launch an investigation into the sudden increase of heart attacks amongst the elderly in our city.”


I thought about a lining.  I was afraid a lining of any kind would make it too hot.  Then decided that a tank top, especially a loosely cut one, would probably have enough air circulation to offset the additional body heat.  In my stash however, I found white lining either as white batiste or white thick spongy knits. I discarded the batiste immediately.  I don’t want to affect the drape of the fabric.  The white knit, I had to think about a little longer.  Finally decided I didn’t want to make the final garment that heavy. So I folded the ITY up and put it back on the shelf and proceeded to another project.  That gave me time to think of another solution:  use the fabric for a different garment.  I now wanted to use this ITY for a summer cover up, preferably a blouse shape of some sort. I wanted long sleeves to protect me from the summer’s sunshine and the freezing cold at the grocery store.  I had 1-1/8 yard of 60″ wide fabric, do you think I could find a long-sleeve pattern that used any where near 1-1/8 yards of fabric. Stymied once again, I started reading blogs.  I’m reading The Sewing Divas  .  It’s my habit to be introduced to a blog, start reading current posts and read all the way back to the inception of the blog.  If after that, I like it over all, I’ll add it to my list of blogs to follow.  Pretty sure this one is going to qualify just because in one of her posts ELS speaks of having made a jacket, an entire jacket from 1.5 yards of fabric. Because that’s all she had.  She made it work.  Well that fired me up.  I’m thinking, first I’ll need to use a smaller pattern. ITY has so much stretch and I know from experience if I make my usual size, I’ll be taking it in inches and inches everywhere.  2nd ITY is heavy. Not as heavy as slinky, but it’s still going to cause the final garment to grow length wise because it has both horizontal and lengthwise stretch. Next if I can eliminate pockets, facings or substitute them with other fabrics, well that will shave off at least 1/4 yard of required fabric.  I look in my pattern stash again, but this time I look at jackets as well.  I find this older pattern – not quite vintage but not current either – and having elements of both. KS 3379 View B (with the tassels)

I remember this.  It was the rage about 8 years ago. But you know with the front lapels of View B and without the cuffs, it’s current now.  I measured the white sheet carefully and decided upon a size Small.  I’m not a small.  I’m a large almost a medium. My measurements fall into the top range of a Kwik Sew medium but I’m never comfortable wearing a medium. So why’d I choose a small this time?  Because the bust measurement equaled mine.  Some of the most gorgeous fitting knit garments I’ve seen, the individual chose the size which equaled their bust measurement.  Time for me to try this theory.


I traced the size small, trimmed the tissue and pinned it together.  I’m expecting the tissue to be skin tight.  The shoulder was at least 1.5 inches too wide.  But I’m thinking part of that will be seam allowance.  Still the waist falls at the right spot and the rest of the tissue fits Mimie just as expected.  Just to be on the safe side, when I do my narrow shoulder adjustment, I split the tissue in half diagonally.  I overlap 1″ at the shoulder which rotates the dart to the hem and adds at least 1/2″ right at the hip.  I trim 1 inch from the length of the sleeve and start cutting.


Cutting was easy. I started stitching in about 15 minutes and that includes threading the machines. I had decided upon a 3thread overlock stitch.  I wanted to finish the edges with a decorative thread and I knew the seam at the center back of the collar would be visible.  I thought a nice 3-thread overlock would do the job. Yuck!  My Janome 634 serger didn’t care much for this ITY.  It didn’t feed smoothly, I had to make sure it fed or it would crawl away which necessitated some restitching.  Even though I changed needles twice, I would still have an occasional skipped stitch.  That’s like on one long seam, I’d have one missed stitch.  Not necessarily bad if I hadn’t been fighting with the fabric as it is. I used a ball point, size 12 needle.  I think I should change to a metallic needle or top stitch needle next time. But hey, this should have been quick to sew.  I’ve got shawl collars down to a science.  I do add a few extra steps, but those steps make it possible for me to stitch a shawl collar first time everytime ———-except now.  With this ITY I basted 4 times just to get the pieces lined up and then I serged 3 times. There’s got to be a better way.  By the time I finished serging the seams, I was in no mood to dicker with decoative threads.  My Janome will handle them, but success is relative to the cooperative nature of the fabric being decorated.  I put the second needle back in the serger, lengthen the stitch length and serged carefully. D@mn!  NO skipped stitches! I did have to guide the fabric, but just a little.  For some reason ITY and my serger need 2 needles to work well together.  Lesson learned. (But I’m still going to try some other needles.


Oh, I did try on my summer jacket before serge finishing seams.  The sleeve was still 2.5″ too long.  I trimmed it off.


The final result,  I like it.



Now I got away with my decisions because this is ITY (yes I do see those drag lines at the armscye, but I don’t feel them).  I would not have made a size small with polar fleece. When I wear polar fleece, I’ve got several layers beneath it.  I could not make polar fleece the same as my measurements because it has to cover my measurements plus about 4 inches of fabric paddings plus I need a little more to have ease in moving about. But it works for this summer cover up.

Pencil Roll

Do you remember tool rolls?  We used to make them as gifts for the men in our lives (or wanted in our lives).  I’ve taken this idea and changed the dimensions just a little to be used by me.  See in my alter-reality, I’m an artist.  The other-reality sneaks through generally starting early summer and continuing late into fall as I accompany DH on his fishing trips but I carry along a sketch book, some colored pencils and usually a book about drawing.  He fishes (successfully), I pretend to be an artist (success questionable.)


To contain all the artist stuff I carry around, last year I used a zippered, see-through plastic case the new sheets came in.  It was just perfect and allowed me to see immediately what I wanted – if it was in there.  Alas, it was cheap vinyl and has hardened and cracked whilst sitting in the closet during winter and spring.  I knew I needed a replacement as soon as I tried the zipper and instead of unzipping, I ripped the zip from the vinyl.  I’d already been contemplating a slight change, just because the jumble inside the vinyl case was sometimes difficult to sort through. I decided upon a modified tool roll constructed from the Under2’s.  My final size was determined by the only available long zipper.  I was reluctant to buy a new zipper for a project I knew to be a prototype and undoubtedly replaced.  I chose brown linen for the exterior because I was fairly sure it would disguise all the dirt and abuse I would be heaping upon it.  The striped inner lining is a cotton/poly weave left over from last year’s summer pants.



I couldn’t resist the opportunity to add machine embroidery to that big blank outer surface and chose a freebie scored long ago from the now defunct EmbroHome site.


I’d always loved his digitizing.  The owner mostly digitized Mid-Eastern designs.  He even had a paid site from which I purchased about 500 full neckline and border prints. Unfortunately he was the victim of some real nasty hate activities.  Someone started spreading rumours that his site was deliberately infected with malware. Although he protested and I voiced my virus-free, Trojan-free, worm-free experience, it seems that evil over came good and he was driven out of business.


But I digress, he also digitized some fabulous scenic embroideries, like the one above which I used.  I don’t have much  use for these, but I kept them because they were both beautiful and stitch out wonderfully.  The only clips are at color changes. There are no jumps, not a single one.  His expert eye planned the path of the needle to best recreate the art before him.  I’m not aware of his art sources. He never revealed that information.  But his digitizing style and expertise were unmistakable.


The bottom of my Pencil Roll is folded up to create a pocket for the pencils and other long stuff I carry about. It is further subdivided primarily to keep the pencils standing up instead of rolling on their sides and landing in a big snake ball at the bottom (as they did in the plastic case).



I attached a vinyl pocket to the other end, also subdivided. But where the pencils are in pockets open at the top, the vinyl pockets will be zippered shut.  The vinyl pocket folds down, covering the tops of the pencil pockets and keeps everything in place.  I’ve seen similar rolls in which the top pocket is a mirror image of the bottom.  I intended to use the smaller vinyl pocket to corral the smaller bits and pieces (like erasers and leads). Small pieces have a propensity for escaping much more easily than larger ones, so I wanted to secure them with the zipper.


When filled and folded,





the case rolls up about 9″ tall and 4″ in diameter.



I secured it with a simple ribbon tie (probably saved from a gift of candy.)  I’ll know in a very short time how well this works.  First I have to make sure I have everything in it that I like to carry around.  Then it will be time to revise and probably buy a longer zipper


Book Covers

I’ve developed a love for covering small books.


Well, I had the love for small books first.  In fact, one of my husbands attractions, was his love of books and his habit of journaling. I too loved small books for recording lists, although most of his were permanent records (journals) and mine were more immediate.  Both of our habits have continue through out our long marriage.  This year I began the habit of journaling my sewing projects — something my dear husband well understood and had many helpful hints.  Not really knowing what I was doing i.e. what I wanted from these journals in the long run, I used existing little memo books about 6 inches tall and 4 inches wide.  All had been previously used; pages were written upon and many were missing.  Covers were battered, but eh, they were good enough to start with.  Besides, as I began this journey, I ripped and re-wrote many of my entries.  But I love small things of beauty.  Both beautiful to behold and beautiful to hold. After a few days, I dug through my larger scraps, married them with exquisite embroideries (and a little bling) to create delightful to hold and delightful to behold small journals.


My store of used memo books filled up rather quickly and finally at the beginning of June 2011 I needed to buy a new, never before used memo book. Naturally, I chose the same size. I mean when something is working quite well, why change?  To my surprise it took only a few days to miss the exquisite and rich detail that I had lavished upon the well-worn and should-have-been-discarded memo books.  With great deliberation and anticipation, I choose a new embroidery and an old scrap and created the cover for my June, July and August 2011 Sewing Projects.  Well satisfied, and incidentally thinking the matter concluded, I carried my little books upstairs, downstairs, to and from my various work stations with ease and pleasure.   Little did I know…


My Dear Husband had observed my comings and goings and made subtle but appreciative comments about my memo books.  He now asked for his own cover, for his shopping binder that was really beginning to tell its age.  Red duct tape had been applied to extend it’s lifespan but besides being unattractive, it couldn’t be expected to keep the little binder working indefinitely.


I, of course, agreed immediately.  I designed a cover for his little binder to be stitched upon a scrap of polar fleece.  It was to have a bear face on the front and bear tracks on the back.  After some futzing, I decided that the embroidery designs I wanted to use would best be stitched by my HV Ruby.  You see, not all designs are digitized equally well.  Oh everyone means well. But so many want to click and stitch i.e. let the computer make all the decisions.  Almost universally, this doesn’t work well. It results in a lot of unrelated objects that should be related and stitch directions that are frankly cockeyed. The two designs I wanted to use were clearly in this category.  They were lovely when previewed in Embird with all jumps virtually clipped.  In actuality they would possess many many jumps.  The automated digitizing program used did the normal i.e. digi a little here, jump, digi a little there; back again; oh and do it again.  Although only 1 color was to be used in a 2″x3″ design I estimated  150 jumps. I did launch Embird Digitizing Tools and attempt to connect the smaller areas and rearrange the stitching order.  After about an hour, I decided I should either digitize this from scratch or let my Ruby stitch it out and automatically clip the jump stitches. For the most part, that proved to be an excellent decision.  Ruby stitched quickly and efficiently but even she could not clip jump stitches where clips had not been designated and threads shreaded and broke when 30 stitches are put into the same .05MM spot.  Even with Ruby’s suprior control, I still clipped a good 10-15 stitches and looking at those bear claws, decided the jumps between bear’s nails could remain.



All set to stitch and sew this small gift for my beloved, I asked for the binder so that I could mark the final size.  I got 2 binders.  It seems he had 2 that were in need of covers.  Well not a real problem.  I did spend much less time selecting and merging designs for the 2nd cover.  I simply choose designs that I’d decided (with difficulty) not to use on the first cover.



Ruby is a sweetie and stitched away at the first cover fairly quickly.  I had intended to clean my Sewing and Stash rooms and take a few pictures.  To my delight she finished with cover #1 before I finished cleaning room #1.  I asked for DH’s help at this point because those little binders really were beat up.  I wanted to reinforce the spines and figured good old 500-a-mile-tape (i.e. duct tape) would do well and would largely be hidden by the book cover.  Not a problem. Except that in assisting me by providing the tape (why is it that men are the keepers of the duct tape), he also brought forth book #3 asking “would it be worthwhile to do this one too, since it is so new?”  The previous books were old and well worn, this new journal wasn’t showing any signs of wear, other than the 10-15 pages of entries he’d already made.




You must understand that my DH is a patron of the sewing arts. If it were not for him, I would be sewing on a $150 JC Penney’s Sewing Machine special (or worse) and would be using shears purchased from the dollar store (admittedly some of those are pretty good).  I find it hard to resist his requests.  I know that it is due solely to his support both moral and $$$ wise, that I have excellent equipment, the time to sew and have attended several sewing seminars.  He would deny me nothing when it comes to my sewing.  I can’t say no to book cover #3.


I finished all 3 and I have to say, I’m pretty proud of them. DH likes them as well and has indicated that he might have a few other books which could benefit from my sewing care.