Archive for August 2016

It's Not Sexy Sewing...It's Domestic

Monday, August 29, 2016

Ahoy!  I survived my first week of classes and balanced some field work.  Delivering the first lecture in each of my classes -- eager eyed students who are excited to start university and the familiar faces of returning students -- is always a pleasure.

In early August, I became determined to sew some useful things that would be more green (I was working with a company last week in the field and one of the technical guys described me as a hippy.  Me!?! A hippy?!  Never thought of myself as that but I am definitely aware of how much waste there is around me and I actively try to cut down on my family's waste!).  I placed an order from Fabric.com for fabrics specific for some green domestic sewing.   Soooooooo this isn't a sexy sewing post -- I don't have a glamorous new pattern or outfit to share.  Rather this is a practical post.  Be aware that it is full of pictures!

Experiment 1:
Reusable Snack Bags

Materials:
Laminated BPA free cotton
Various Fat Quarters or scraps of cotton
Velcro (1/2" sewable)
White Thread (I think I used a big spool from my serger -- Maxi Cone)

Procedure:
Wasting ziplock bags on lunch annoys me. Grapes, pretzels, sandwiches -- they are all usually stuffed into little plastic bags.  I knew there had to be another way.  Enter the reusable snack bag.  It is lined with laminate cotton to keep things fresh and crisp. I found adorable laminated cotton (BPA, and lead free which is good for me but do what you feel best as it still contains synthetic materials to make the laminate) from Michael Miller called Sealed with a Kiss which declares my love for my family.  It is red with sayings like "I adore you" or "Honey" or "Sweetheart".  It is a secret message on the inside of the bag!
I used the DIYMommy's tutorial.  I really didn't need a tutorial but, to be honest, with my hectic daily schedule I didn't want to have to measure or do any more maths than I needed.   I just wanted to sew. The DIYMommy suggest it takes about 15 minutes to make a bag.  I know it took me a bit more time  -- plus I made a bunch of various sizes.  I did a sort of conveyer belt.  One night I cut the fabric, then after I sewed the laminated cotton and cotton together, I turned it right side out and sandwiched it under heavy books since I couldn't use an iron to set the seams. The next evening I added velcro and finished them.
While I worked a Hancock, I picked a couple of boxes of Clover's Wonder Clips on a whim.  I pulled them out on this project and instantly fell in love.  No pins just clips. Easy.  (I have since used them on pattern and fabric pieces I have cut -- very handy after I marked the fabric!).

Experiment 2:
Mug Rug or Lunch Mat

Materials:
Fabric scraps
Cotton Batting
Double-fold bias tape
Maxi-cone Thread

Procedure:
We pack our lunches everyday to work or school.  Last school year, I went to lunch with my son at least one time a quarter.  I noticed that he would eat out of his lunch box.  The idea of a mug rug becoming a lunch mat would provide him a place to lay his sandwich when he wanted to take a drink.  This is a clean mat for his lunch, small so it fits in his lunch box (and mine!), and can be thrown in the wash to get clean.
Again, while at Hancock (I think I will be saying this a lot so do please forgive me!), I picked up fabric swatches of random home decor fabric.  I just sewed up a bunch of these swatches till it resembled a rectangle.  I then added batting in the middle of two swatch rectangles and finished it off with double-fold bias tape.  I made four more of these on Saturday afternoon.  My mother, an avid lunch packer, requested several lunch mats and reusable bags. Guess I'll be sewing these items for a while.

Finally....

Experiment 3:
Kitchen Towels

Materials:
Cotton fabric
White Thread

Procedure:
Guess what?  I found kitchen towel fabric during the unmentioned store closing and bought a bolt.  Much like my annoyance with wasteful plastic bags, I have a mountain of kitchen towels to avoid using paper towels.  When the bolt was so very cheap, I could not pass it up and on Sunday I made six kitchen towels.
Since the fabric is checkered, I didn't bother to measure instead I eyed it and made sure to cut along a line.  As a result I have towels of varying length but, meh!, I don't care.  What makes this sew even easier, is that this fabric had selvages that were already sewn.  Literally that means, a turn and fold with a good press, and then a straight stitch.  Cannot beat that!

Whew!  That wraps up this round of domestic sewing.  I still have fabric bowl covers and tortilla warmers to make a some point.  I am itching to make a dress......

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Empty Pockets Need to be Filled

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Ahoy! It has been raining most days; especially in the afternoon - the sky darkens and immediately there is a drenching rain.  Normally I wouldn't be bothered, however, all week long I have been out in the field...in the rain.  Rain boots kept my feet dry but I have come home each evening in wet clothes.  To top it off, 4th grade is a demanding leap for my little guy thus increasing my stress levels.  At least it is Thursday and my son is reading The Lion Witch, and the Wardrobe, one of my favorites! -- I am forever the optimist!
Experiment:
Megan Nielsen's Brumby Skirt
Size: Small

Materials:
2.5 yards of Chambray
7" Metal Zipper
White Thread (Aurfil Thread)

Procedure:
On the plane home from Boston, besides watching Zootopia, I jotted down a cutting and sewing plan. Since I am a bonafide sewing geek, I carry a little notebook with a list of my sewing patterns and some fabric swatches.  I lovingly looked through my book and decided upon our return to Louisiana, I was going to sew a Brumby Skirt.  I wanted those pockets!

Yep!  Those pockets above...fab-u-lous (Check out what a Brumby pocket can actually hold)!!  I really have a special love for Megan Nielsen patterns.  Sometime in spring she had a sale on patterns and I picked this one and her Darling Ranges dress (that is almost finished just needs buttons!).  The Brumby is designed for either heavier materials like denim or lighter fabrics like my lovely chambray.  I quite like to work with chambray -- lots of drape and little ironing needed.
I enjoyed sewing this skirt.  My only hiccup was the contoured waistband.  The drafted waistband  was a hot mess.  It did not sit nicely on my waist.  This is a bummer. I read all sorts of blog posts of beautiful Brumby's with ladies declaring how much they love the contoured waistband.  Why me?!? I read how to draft a new waist band but the drafted waistband was already sewn to the skirt.  To compensate, I added a couple of tucks on the waistband and that seem to do the trick.  Now I have a new technique to learn -- how to redraft the contoured waistband to sit/fit on MY waist.  I have an ikat denim in my stash that could very well become another Brumby with a redrafted waistband.
Let me continue to gush.  The Brumby has oodles of gathers - my favorite.   And who would've expected an exposed zip (My husband has trouble fathoming why I like it so much)?!  It gives it a edgy vibe.
What do you think of the midi-length?  I think it is flattering and lately have been drawn more and more to having a couple of skirts and dresses fall below my knee.  This is definitely a keeper!

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I've Got Charm Like a Leprechaun

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Monday begins our last week of summer.  Gone will be the sleeping-in, the late-night movies, the afternoon's at the pool, the free time to sew!  This week will be frenzied – sewing, cleaning, and prepping for the first day of school.  Jules is starting 4th grade. (Yikes!  Blink and your child grows.)  And since Mr. Chemist and I are both teachers, this is that hectic time – preparing syllabi, making copies, creating lectures, getting our class websites up!  I did indulge.  In fact, I spent the weekend tracing patterns, prepping and cutting fabric.

I wanted to share another of my summer makes.  It captures the summer spirit and makes me long for another vacation or maybe just a cold beer.

Experiment:
Size: 0
Materials:
3.5 yards of green seersucker
22" white invisible zipper

Procedure:
I picked this fabric up while moonlighting at Hancock.  Green was the only seersucker left when I decided that I wanted seersucker for a Sylvie dress.  The inspiration came when Mr. Chemist and I were out on a date while in Texas and there was this lovely girl in a seersucker sundress.  I immediately thought of the Sylvie dress pattern my boys had gifted me for Mother's day.
Christine Haynes' Emery dress is one of my TNT patterns.  I had high hopes that I would love the Sylvie dress as much.  It is that modern vintage style I like so very much.  Classic style (like the Classic Man -- hint hint like the Jidenna song that provided my title!).  I choose my size based on the final measurements and did not bother with a muslin.  I sew risky!  I had a moment of panic after I constructed the bodice, tried it on, and found the armholes quite high.  I winged it and removed less than a half inch.  It worked because the final dress is quite comfortable.
The gathered skirt with the patch pockets drew me to the pattern.  It really was delightful to sew.  This pattern suggests a great deal of fabric.  The finish of the neckline and armholes calls for bias binding. One could most definitely cut down if you make bias binding with different fabric or if you use packaged bias binding.
The finished dress was shorter than I anticipated. (above my knees!  Oh-so scandalous!  Just kidding ;) )  In fairness, it was probably listed somewhere in the final measurements which somehow did not warrant a bit of my attention (A total rookie mistake ).  The pattern really does make a great summer dress but I would definitely lengthen the skirt for a fall or work dress.
Having meandered all around Boston in this Sylvie dress and my Saltwater sandals, I can attest that it marvelous.   It was light and breezy for the heatwave we encountered while on our vacation in Boston.  I even managed to cool off with a cold Sam Adams at their brewery.  Score and score.  I am sharing this on Gray All Day's Sew Chic -- feel free to check out other awesome garments there!
Hope your week is grand!

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