Questionable Calm Before the Moving Storm

You know the saying, “When it rains, it pours.” Actually, here in the Washington, DC, area, that’s a fact, not just a saying. Saturday AND Sunday both had crazy rain storms with absolutely pouring rain. The Mechanic and I were driving to a friend’s party Saturday (yes, we drive sometimes) and watched that storm roll in. It was pretty cool, I have to say. Until it started to pour.

Doom over DC

The storm I was actually referring to is the upcoming weekend and next week. I am heading to my association’s annual international conference on Saturday (woot, New Orleans!) and then we are moving to a different apartment in our current complex, then we plan to adopt a rabbit buddy for Gaston. All in the span of a week. And since the move is happening while I’m at aforementioned conference, The Mechanic will be doing it all himself, and I need to have all my stuff packed before I head to the conference. Trying. Not. To. Panic.

Time for a bunny buddy!

But before I could pack up my sewing stuff, I had to finish the dress I had started. I didn’t want to move it unfinished, and besides, I might want to take it to New Orleans. Originally I purchased the McCalls 7597 pattern with the idea of doing the contrast bib and back yoke with reflective fabric and the Charley Harper cotton I pre-ordered earlier this year. However, when Britex Fabrics tweeted a photo of this blue fish rayon, I had to have it, and knew what to do with it.

I briefly considered making the waist tie out of the gray reflective camo fabric, then considered putting some of the blue reflective fabric in the yoke seam and front bib seam. In the end, the gray reflective piping I ordered ages ago turned out to be perfect; it blends in perfectly.

I am a bit disappointed by the fit. I very carefully checked the shoulders and the length and the waist location, and altered to what I thought would work better, and of course, I was wrong. I probably didn’t need to widen the shoulders, and I don’t think I needed to drop the waist. I widened the sleeve but in adjusting the armhole to coordinate, something went wrong and the sleeves now are gathered into place, rather than eased. I really wished I’d lengthened it a bit as well – it’s just a tad bit shorter than I’d like. None of these are major problems, and I’m sure it all looks fine on me, but I am annoyed that once again, I tried to get something to fit right, and it doesn’t. But whatever – I can fix these things if I make the pattern again. And anyway, it’s done and it is perfect for summer.

Had to add a straw hat! Here you can see the reflective trim reflecting.

Reflective across the back reflecting as well. Not quite as full across the hips as I’d hoped. Hope I can swing my leg over my bike’s top tube!

So this will be my last blog post written from this apartment <sniff>.  I really like this but look forward to the next one. No stompy upstairs neighbors, as we’ll be on the top floor, and a lovely grassy courtyard full of trees to look out over. I might post something from New Orleans, but the conferences usually are pretty busy, so probably not. Maybe we’ll have a new bunny when I write next! We plan on taking Gaston to a few shelters when we get back, to let him pick out a new friend.

Once this bike is finished being refurbished, it will be perfect with my new dress!

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Spontaneously Staycationing But Not Sewing

Happy July! Hard to believe that 2017 is halfway over, isn’t it? I haven’t gotten anywhere near the amount of sewing done that I’d hoped for this year. My plans for some June sewing while staycationing sort of flew out the window too, due to some last minute, quite spontaneous outings with The Mechanic. Even though I’m sad at the loss of my sewing time, spending time with The Mechanic is never a bad thing. : )

Staycation Day 1 – Part of the beginning of my staycation was dedicated to my volunteer work for my association, but then The Mechanic and I had a dinner date. Walking home from where the Lyft driver dropped us off (because I still haven’t figured out how to update my home location and didn’t pay attention when scheduling the ride…), we saw the teeny-ist, tiny-ist wild rabbit. Of course I had to stop and take pictures of it. Probably a teen bunny, it was smaller than Gaston, and totally unafraid of us. It was adorable to watch it groom, but such an unafraid bunny might not last long in the Arlington wilds. Still, I loved watching it.

Okay, maybe I was stalking it…

Staycation Day 2 – we biked to brunch at our favorite spot, Silver Diner. We love Silver Diner because it has such a range of vegetarian and vegan meal options. Even in the Washington, DC, metro region, it’s hard to find restaurants with decent veggie options. When a previously scheduled conference call was cancelled at somewhat the last minute, The Mechanic and I hopped Metro to the National Mall. Although our destination was the National Museum of the American Indian, we wandered through the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, taking place alone the Mall. I am not a huge fan of circuses, but it was fun to see all the circus exhibits set up – we missed most of the performances, however. After exploring the NMAI, we wandered along the Mall until we stumbled upon a lucky find – the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building was being used for the FolkLife Festival Marketplace! This building is normally closed to the public, due to renovations, but it’s my favorite building on the Mall, and of course I jumped at the chance to go in.

The Arts and Industries Building, opened in 1881. It was reopened as a special events location in 2015, after being closed for 12 years.

Through the marketing place and circus school, you could see signs of renovation work, and a series of photos near the restrooms showed what it had once looked like.

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Staycation Day 3 – This day was completely and 100% spontaneous. A friend of The Mechanic’s texted to see if we wanted to go sailing with him on his father-in-law’s 54′ sail boat. Um, yes!!! (Of course, that did require an emergency run to Target – I don’t (didn’t) own shorts, and figured that they would be more practical on a boat than a skirt – and since I didn’t have time or fabric to make a pair, well, fast fashion it was.) I love sailing, I love the ocean, I love the Chesapeake Bay, and harbors and, well, nautical style, despite my dislike for sun damage. Armed in a rash guard from Lands’ End, a wide-brimmed hat and lots of mineral sunscreen, I enjoyed a quite leisurely sail with three other people into St. Michael’s, MD.

Who needs to know anything about sailing when the hi tech boat does almost all of it on its own?!?

I love the choppy water, too, so I was happy as a clam when we sailed back into the wind. I find it very peaceful, somehow.

Staycation Day 4 – Deciding to invite friends over meant a morning of mad cleaning, but the reward was a spotless apartment when our friends arrived. And an leisurely evening of reading after they left.

Staycation Day 5 – With all the housecleaning done, I had time to sew, but alas, ran into many complications and had to stop. I made a muslin of Butterick 5602 (Version C) and since I didn’t have a long enough zipper, I had The Mechanic help me pin it. Then I realized that the denim lace fabric will need something sheer-ish for a hem faching, to preserve the sheerness. Then I realized that my white interfacing will show, then that fusible (woven) interfacing will be gross and tacky (probably literally), so I need to find something else. And that although I ordered an invisible zipper, the way the lining is constructed isn’t very invisible zipper friendly, and I’ll have to either rethink how to put in the lining, or use a regular zipper. Bah. So – basically I can’t finish my denim lace dress any time soon.

Another muslin from my old bed sheet!

Disappointing to end five days off without a new finished garment, but look at all the fun we had!

It’s now a new fiscal year in my office, and the beginning of the second half of the year. Somehow it seems like New Years all over again. I’m glad I had some time to staycation, because the rest of this summer doesn’t seem to be slowing down! I think every weekend is booked until September. So much for spontaneous!

Mermaids are spontaneous, right? LOL

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Time to Sew and Think

Use-or-lose PTO expiring in June means taking extra time off this month. Initially, The Mechanic and I discussed going back to Shepherdstown for our third wedding anniversary last week, but in the end, opted against it. So I used some PTO for a mini sewing staycation instead.

Mini champagne “tasting” and fancy desserts for a low-key third anniversary

I was probably both overly ambitious with my plans and less efficient than I could be, so I did not actually achieve all my goals for the extended weekend. I did some sewing, made a Shutterfly photo album gift for a friend, visited with friends, hung out with Gaston, and had lots of time alone with my thoughts.

Sewing

I am pleased with my sewing accomplishments, however. I made a fun new dress from McCalls 6886 and the scuba knit I impulsively ordered from Mood Fabrics earlier this year. I call this my crowd-sourced dress because I kept asking questions on Instagram about designing it – fellow sewists recommended this pattern over a more complicated one, and the scoop neck over the crew neck. I think they were right on both accounts. As my second sewing project on my new sewing machine, it was also the perfect way to learn how it handles stretch fabrics. Thankfully and unsurprisingly, it is soooo much better than my old machine! The dress turned out great, and although the fabric doesn’t breathe much (okay, not at all), it will be perfect for work, and probably not terrible to bike to work in if the weather is decent.

Accessorized with my fabulous boots from Cordings London and my Heidi Sturgess rabbit purse, also from London

I even used the label Mood sent with the fabric! #madewithmood

The other sewing project I completed was altering the corduroy trousers I made last month. Although I love the color and super soft corduroy, they were too big around the hips and waist, and the waistband did not lie flat. So I took off the waistband, made deeper pleats in the front, took out about an inch for a swayback alteration, and replaced the zipper. (I totally forgot to get an invisible zipper foot when I bought my new machine!) I redrew the waistband to reflect what I’d pinned out, and although it looked rather extreme, it worked out perfectly. Of course, as these things go, I didn’t have enough fabric for both sides of the waistband, so I used lining for the facing, and then I didn’t have enough interfacing of any kind, so it’s a pretty wimpy waistband. But I’m much happier with the pants now, and look forward to wearing them.

 

They are subtle but they are there! Bicycles on the waistband! I should have used contrasting thread.

Thinking

In between bursts of sewing, I did a lot of thinking. It’s nice to have time to think, not distracted by daily life (aka, work). I always feel frantic, rushing from work to home to work to home, and sometimes I just need time away from it all. (Seriously, how do parents manage it all?!?) The Mechanic prefers to camp when he needs time alone; I prefer to sew and read and watch British television shows. I just needed time to think about where life is going and in which direction do I want it to move.

Saturday night sewing with Gaston and Father Brown, while The Mechanic was camping and mountain biking

I’ve been at my job for just over five years now, and although I certainly don’t know it all, I feel like I’ve learned a lot, and I’m sort of ready to move on. I feel like this is a personality flaw – it’s hard for me to stick to just one thing. Through learning about transportation demand management, and doing outreach to people about their transportation choices, I’ve come across so many other really interesting topics and ideas, and I want to explore those. Overall sustainability is top of the list, and through sewing and this growing interest, I’ve learned more about sustainable fabrics, a field I’m definitely interested in exploring. Then there is general behavior change and all the psychology around that; I’ve always been interested in *why* people do what they do. And I can’t help but feeling like I’d like to return to history as a field, or maybe public history and museum studies. And always the thought – how do I make a positive impact on the world?

Alas, all my thinking was merely that, thinking. I didn’t come up with a plan or a decision or a new goal (well, a new goal beyond moving to Europe someday). Do I feel more relaxed, from all my time off and sewing and thinking? Hm…. maybe. Maybe if I’d actually gotten more done, or finished a book or something. I did, however, come up with a plan for my next sewing projects! Between now and the end of July I want to finish my star Liberty of London blouse and a shift dress with the denim lace fabric from Marcy Tilton. Maybe it’s better to just stick to the sewing and do less thinking.

What’s Better Than New Bike Day?

What is possibly better than New Bike Day? New Sewing Machine Day!!!

My “inheritance” from my grandfather, who died last December, was the funding for the sewing machine of my dreams to replace my 27-year-old machine. After some research, and a trip to a sewing machine store, I settled on the Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 965Q. My old sewing machine has gone many places with me, including three years around the world when I was the wardrobe supervisor for Disney On Ice in the mid-late 90s. But as I’ve gotten more and more into sewing, the 10 stitches and 1 button hole option just weren’t enough. And I didn’t initially think I needed a computerized sewing machine, but boy of boy, what a different world! I was sold after a 45 minute demo of all the features. Okay, honestly, what sold me was that it comes with a pre-programmed bicycle stitch!

The bike stitch on a different model Sapphire

Saturday, the Mechanic and I went out to Bonny’s Sewing & Fabric, in Alexandria, VA, to pick up the machine. Yes, I sat with it on my lap on the way home! It’s so much bigger than my White Jeans machine – look at them all together! One of the other selling points of this machine is the long arm and the wide open space to spread fabric out. I can keep my pin cushion on the machine and still have space left!The first thing I did was to add a travel key chain to the stylus of the machine, to make it easier not to lose it. The key chain isn’t a great fit but I like the way the leaf gives it a sort of elven feel. The machine has a built-in needle threader and a magnifying glass in the bobbin cover – both great features to have, especially as I’m now 27 years older than when I got my first machine, and well, er, really need those features! Other amazing features, which may be more common to less fancy machines, are the auto-tension feature, the fact that I can pick my fabric type and stitch, and the machine will suggest not only the stitch length and width, but also the foot and needle, and show me where the needle will start the stitch. So amazing!!!

I spent the rest of Saturday reading the manual and play around with different stitch options. Not only can I stitch bicycles, I can do my Twitter name, the blog post name, appliques with reflective fabric, stitch on buttons, create mirror images of stitches, and super cool buttonholes. Sunday, I felt ready to put what I’d learned to the test, and what better way to practice new skills than to sew something?!? I had the Salme Patterns Angel Sleeve Top pattern ready to go, so I whipped that up. It was super easy to sew, although I complicated it by doing French seams. In slate blue tencel twill, it is a lovely basic business top that actually coordinates quite well with my wedding skirt. I will definitely make this top again. As much as I wanted to stitch bicycles onto a bit of the hem this blouse, I wanted flowers instead. Ultimately, I went with stars, because I couldn’t quite get the floral designs I wanted to line up with the hem properly. Somehow, these stars remind me of the Washington DC flag… I think, however, that in future, I’ll have to do contrasting thread if I want the design to really show up. Now, of course, all I want to do is SEW!!! All those projects I have lined up? Everything is getting some fun embroidery stitch! And what will I make that gets reflective appliqued pears?!? I can’t get over the options before me, as I gaze upon this new sewing machine. And yes, this could very easily be better than a new bike…

 

UFOs in June

I’m back! Did you have a relaxing Memorial Day weekend? A friend from New York visited and The Mechanic was in Phoenix visiting his friend, so we each got alot of socializing in! My friend and I visited Mount Vernon (by boat from Old Town Alexandria, which I recommend – it was so relaxing!), National Harbor, the Tanger Outlet mall at National Harbor, and the new MGM casino. I’d never been to National Harbor, right across the Potomac in Maryland, and it was so easy to get to from the King Street Metro station – a quick NH2 Metrobus ride across the bridge. We had a blast and shopped perhaps a bit too much. I did fulfill a long-time sartorial goal by purchasing a Diane von Furstenberg dress at Memorial Day weekend sales steal prices. It’s not one of her iconic wrap dresses but it’s pretty amazing and I can’t wait to wear it.

And now it’s June. I have use-or-lose PTO to burn by the end of the month, so I’m going to use up most of it with some mini sewing staycations. All this unexpected time off means I should to focus on finishing up my UFOs – also known as unfinished sewing projects. Technically I only have one UFO, since I already wrapped up a few over the past weekend. I made a quickie tee shirt with the happy floral striped Art Gallery knit, shortened the lining of a skirt that I made too long, and finally added the waistband to my wedding skirt. I still need to redo the waistband on my 1940s inspired trousers, too.

I ended up using the same satin from the train to make the waistband, which actually turned out pretty badly. Thank goodness a much more talented seamstress friend did the zipper and hem! Where will I wear this? Who knows!

My one true UFO is this pair of red chambray pants that I cut out last year. The idea was for them to also be a wearable muslin, but the complicated zipper fly has prevented me from tackling them. And by complicated, I mean more than a one-weekend sewing project. I really need to get these done, but honestly, being lazy with both my diet and with my workouts lately means that I’m not the size I’d like to be for pants. I’d like to put these off a bit more. At least until I’ve gotten my BodyPump gym class groove back and feel a bit less squishy.

Someday, pants, someday….

Other things I need to finish before I jump into new projects include two dresses, pants and a blouse, all of which were supposed to be done by now.

Of course, I have that gorgeous fabric I bought in London, and then I just got this fabulous denim lace from Marcy Tilton….NO!

Focus, focus….

Some of these things should be fairly simple, so hopefully I can have one mad, frantic weekend of knocking those things out quickly. Because I think that denim lace will make a perfect summer work dress, and I need it now!

Time to just grin and bear it, and sew up this stuff before I can move on. Anyone else ever force themselves to get long-neglected UFOs completed? At least wearing my makes encourages me to want to get more done. I wore my new tee shirt and denim skirt with the reflective yoke last Saturday when The Mechanic and I went biking along the C&O Canal. Perfect and inspiring!

 

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Me Made May Returns!

It’s May! It’s my birthday month! It’s National Bike Month! It’s really finally Spring! It’s also Me Made May month, again, and this has me a bit flummoxed.

I love the idea behind Me Made May, of wearing clothing I’ve made myself every day the entire month. In it’s eight year this year, the challenge is intended to encourage people who sew and knit and create to wear and love the things they make. Everyone can make up their own specific challenge, be it to finish projects or wear less-loved things and/or to create a list of holes, things they wish they had. Personally I still want to try to focus on business-appropriate garments, because although I definitely have 31 me-made garments, they aren’t all “corporate” enough for all the work events in my life. And I wear most of my items pretty regularly, so making and hiding isn’t that big of a concern of mine. Although of course there are things that I wish I loved better, I was fairly pleased with how last year’s Me Made May turned out:

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In addition to the corporate looks, part of this year’s Me Made challenge will be our upcoming trip to London. I’m turning 45 and thought that this would be a good excuse for a weekend trip to London – a city I haven’t visited since 1990! For our four day trip I’m thinking two pairs of pants and a dress or skirt, then a few tops. I just can’t decide which because most of my tops are summer weather, and it probably won’t be that warm. I hate to take blouses that will wrinkle in my luggage because I hate ironing on vacation, haha! And most of my dresses are summer dresses as well. I want to take my new striped nautical dress, but I’m not sure the weather will be warm enough. I might take it anyway! I wish I’d had time to finish the 1940s trousers I’m making; I bet they would be perfect.

Maybe, maybe not….

There are other challenges that prevent me from wearing Me Made clothing, namely, the bike events in May to which I need to wear work branded clothing. I certainly don’t need another pair of jeans, but something to wear with a polo shirt might be something to add to the list of holes in my 31 day wardrobe. It seems like my list of “missing” clothing is really long already!

I haven’t pledged on Zoe’s website but here is my pledge:

I, Elizabeth of TinLizzieRidesAgain, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’17. I endeavour to wear at least one Me Made garment each day for the duration of May 2017. In addition, I will create a list of “missing” clothing to help me focus on my future sewing plans.

The drawback to this pledge, of course, is that I plan on buying fabric at both Liberty of London and Dashing Tweeds, which will probably throw off any cohesive, practical sewing plans I might have. I’ll need to finish aforementioned 1940s trousers but then you know I’ll be dying to get something made with my new stash! Capsule collection, pshaw. But really, this is a good opportunity to help me focus, and maybe figure out how to be 100% pleased with what I make.

I really want to take this as well but think it will be too cool for this as well. Bah!

Possible (Sewing) Machine Upgrade

It’s ironic to think that when I wanted to “upgrade” my commuter bike, I bought a 1973 Raleigh bicycle, but now that I’m considering upgrading my sewing machine, I’m going the opposite direction and looking at machines probably more high tech than the computer on which I write this blog post.

My old new bike, Bletchley

My mom bought my sewing machine for me in December 1990 (!!!!!). It was my first year in college, and it was probably my Christmas present. A White Jeans Machine, I chose it originally because it was (as I remember) double-belted to handle heavy duty fabrics, and at the time, I had dived into the local Shakespeare theater company and was sewing corduroy and tapestries, making medieval and Renaissance costumes.

First version of my Renaissance Faire costume, 1991, complete with hoops and boned bodice, made on my then brand new Jeans Machine!

Since then, my sewing machine has moved into multiple apartments, gone on tour (when I was the wardrobe supervisor for Disney on Ice, 1996-1999), collected dust, and been recently revived. The last attempt to take it to a shop to get serviced resulted in waiting 6 weeks for some part that never arrived, so I reclaimed it and have stitched on ever since. We know each other well, this machine and I. Nevertheless…. my mother and I have had recent conversations about the fact that it probably is time to consider replacing it. I no longer sew as much heavy fabric (although I did just start a pair of corduroy pants), I’ve been exploring nicer, finer fabrics, knits, the reflective fabric, and frankly, I am not happy with the buttonhole function on this machine. So maybe it is time for something newer, something fancier.

But what?!?

We all know that Bernina is the top of the line when it comes to sewing machines, but ye gods, expensive!!!! I hadn’t quite appreciated how “top of the line” they are until I started hunting around. I mean, who needs a computer built into a sewing machine that does super fancy embroidery?!? Not me. Although… I do like the super cute Cotton & Steel Bernina 350 SE machines….the free hand knee bar is really cool; I loved that function when I worked on industrial machines. And I have to admit, all those different stitches are pretty cool….

Cotton & Steel Bernina 350 SE – aren’t they lovely?! (Image from website)

So I decided I would take these fancy, modern sewing machines a bit more seriously, and was surprised at what I found. First of all, I’m impressed at the auto-thread snip option, although I’m not sure about that, since I like a long thread tail, to properly tie off my seams and hems. And automatic tension adjustment seems pretty magical too. Multiple buttonhole options AND the ability to sew buttons on *with the machine* make me a bit starry-eyed. And although initially I didn’t think I’d see any use for the fancy embroidery options, now that I think about it, I can see how much fun that would be. I could see if the reflective thread would work, or maybe embroider reflective fabric appliques for jackets and dresses. Suddenly, the possibilities seem endless!

I am currently drawn to the Husqvarna Viking machines, and the large sewing space to the right of the needle. That space is probably mostly intended for quilters and large rolls of quilt fabric, but I know I could really use that space for garments. I was leaning towards the Husqvarna Designer Topaz 50 anyway, but then noticed one of the fancy stitches is BICYCLES!!!! OMG how fabulous! Would I hem clothes with tiny potentially reflective bicycles? Ja, you betcha! And with the computerized embroidery options, you bet I’d start embroidering rabbits on everything too! Well, maybe not, but I’d definitely try it.

How cool is the bicycle stitch?!? (#10)

Of course, they don’t have any price info on the website, and I will need to schlepp out to the ‘burbs to find a dealer to look at either the Berninas or the Husqvarnas in person. As eager as I am to go check them out, my next three weeks are pretty solidly booked, with no free weekends (and no time to sew, weep!), so it will be a while before I can get my hands on a test machine.

What type of sewing machines do you use, Dear Readers? Do you have a fancy machine with all the bells and whistles, or do you still sewing on a beloved older machine? Do you have experience with a brand you love? What suggestions would you make to someone who is looking to up the professional look of the clothing they make? If money were no object, which sewing machine would you use?   Or want?

Muslin of Simplicity 6434 – impatiently waiting for the new Charley Harper fabric I ordered from Fabricworm.com to make the “real” version of this

 

 

Still Sewing – and Still Biking

Despite being fed up with biking (well, drivers, really), I ended up biking Monday-Wednesday last week, then rode the bus Thursday because of a work event. Then Friday I was a driver myself! The Mechanic and I took Gaston to the vet – we love the vet but they are not located anywhere remotely convenient to bike or bus, so Zipcar it is. I have to say, I felt much better about biking – maybe I just needed to vent? But also, I was pretty relieved to take the bus to work on Thursday, and not only because of the rain all day. I appreciate all the words of encouragement from you, thank you!

Gaston highly disapproved of the vet experience

And I plan on biking this week as well. But this week I am especially inspired, because I finished a new dress, and the weather will be warm enough to wear that AND my 3M reflective dress, woot!

A-maz-ing!!!

First up, I finished my Christine Haynes Marianne dress, in nautical blue stripes. I’m not the biggest fan of PDF patterns, partially because I never seem to get the pieces taped together properly. I had to do a bit of fixing once I was done, to get the lines to match…. And that was just the beginning! I think I redid every single seam on this dress, not to mention redrawing the seams on the side to fit better. Because of that, I wasn’t sure I would like this dress when it was completed, but I have to say, it’s much cuter than anticipated! I lengthened the sleeves significantly, and I took in the sides. I thought I had cut the neck binding too short, so I cut a longer piece, and then realized the first piece was probably fine. But I love the navy and aqua color combination, as well as the blue reflective fabric accents. I made a rookie mistake and forgot to hand baste the reflective trim in, but it didn’t slide around too much. And how cool are the reflective covered buttons?!?!

Fun, isn’t it?

You know sewing is an illness when you finish one project and jump right into another. Yes, I made a muslin of the Simplicity New Look 6434 blouse, Version D with the ruffled sleeves. This will eventually be made out of some Charley Harper print cotton, but I used an old sheet to make this up. Actually, I love the color, so I think I will try to clean it up so I can wear it. For this blouse, I widened the shoulders a half inch, and am pretty pleased with the results. I also lenghtened the sleeve, but may need to widen it a teeny bit. I used the full ruffle pattern, not cut down for my size, but I think I will do that next time – it’s a little too ruffled for my taste. But I know this sleeve is hot right now because it’s popping up on everything! McCalls Pattern Company is even doing a sewing contest with their version of this style. It will be a while until I can make the Charley Harper version, since that fabric won’t be shipped for 6-8 weeks (!!!). But maybe this will work.

This week is the last “calm” week before several weeks of just craziness, so I’m hoping to relax and enjoy biking and not sewing, well, not really doing much of anything. Just being. I need to get some sleep before the craziness. Or I could squeeze in one more sewing project….

More Reflective Sewing and Things

Although some might call my interest in All Things Reflective an obsession (or bizarre), to me it’s an art. I think about it all the time, collect pieces of value, and am discerning when it comes to what I like. But this art collection is one I wear, not hang on walls, display on shelves, or hoard for no one but me to enjoy. And to share with you, of course! So today I want to share a few more reflective things, including the pants I just made, as well as some reflective fabric travel plans.

For starters, I ordered some reflective Red Heart yarn from Amazon. It’s my favorite color, so I couldn’t resist! My mother knit me an infinity scarf from gray a few years ago, but I thought a spring color would be nice. I’m hunting through the millions of options on Ravelry to find another knitting pattern for her. Luckily my mother is willing to knit for me!

Then, while I was hunting around on Amazon, I found this reflective thread – it’s by Hatnut and shipped from Germany. I looked up the company after the package arrived, and they do some cool yarns, as well as this reflective stuff. I had hoped to be able to topstitch the hems of the pants I just made with this thread. The test stitching worked pretty well, but when I tried to actually sew, the thread got caught up and shredded. It’s fragile, not like your regular Coats & Clark or Gutermann thread. I’ll play around with it a bit, but it could be a hand sewing only type thread. Now I just need to learn to embroider – wouldn’t that be amazing?! Now, about those reflective pocket pants. I had purchased the McCalls 7547 pattern to try Version B, the skinny leg pants, to see if I could improve my attempts to properly fit pants, and replicate some of my favorite pants.

(Kinda scared of the flared overalls…)

I opted for a gray twill, something inexpensive that would work as a “wearable muslin,” aka, a test pattern that I can also wear out of the house, in a color that goes with a fair amount of tops I’ve made. And then I decided to make two back pockets, and to make them out of the reflective camo fabric I have. It’s not the perfect color match, but for a muslin, I don’t really care. And I love the idea of fully reflective back pockets for the spring and summer evenings when I’m biking (and walking) around. This pattern happens to be the McCalls Pattern Company’s Spring Sewalong, too. I happened to mostly make these on our surprise snow day last week (woot!), so I’m waaaaay ahead of the sewalong, but I had to take advantage of the time off. I posted a rather unflattering set of photos on Instagram to show my initial progress, and get some tips on how to adjust the fit, and thankfully, Amanda, Sewalong co-host and sewing blogger, had some good tips.

Oof – humility. Posting unflattering photos of one’s behind for the whole world (of my Insta followers, at least) to see!

So I spent the weekend adjusting and altering and refitting. I am pretty pleased with the results, although I know the crotch fit is not perfect. Once I released the side seams to accomodate my thighs, the crotch fit was much better. I also dropped the front 1/2″ as Amanda suggested. I tried “scooping” the crotch but I’m not sure I was doing it correctly. I tried three different ways to put in the side zipper, and ended up with a terrible center zipper. I did the pattern instructions method first, but then needed to let the sides out, so replaced it with an invisible zipper, which couldn’t go in properly to save my life (and I normally prefer them because they are so easy!), then gave up and did a basic and still imperfect zipper. Whatever. It’s the muslin. Now that the pattern is at least altered, the next time it should be easier. I don’t know how to take out a fisheye dart on the back of my legs as Amanda suggested, but I’ve recognized for a while now that I need to do that.High-waisted pants are on trend at the moment, and somewhat more flattering on my tummy, but I am not sure how often I’ll actually tuck in my top. (Confession: I’m feeling bad about how out-of-shape I’ve gotten now that my sewing has overtaken my biking as my main hobby, so I’m a bit self-conscious about how everything is fitting these days.)

Nevertheless, these pants go with many things in my closet, so I’m sure I’ll get alot of use out of them. And see? Even something as simple as a practice piece can be art! Why be plain when you can be flashy?!?

Current State of Affairs

After last month’s series of five year anniversary re-introductions, I thought I’d catch everyone up on the current state of my affairs. As always, there is a lot going on, so much so that I missed my last planned anniversary re-introduction! That one was supposed to be about travel and how The Mechanic and I love to travel. Recent examples include a spontaneous rental car trip, where we attempted to go by VeloOrange in Annapolis (not open on the weekends), then drove through a powerful storm to Baltimore, arriving just as the storm ended and discovering their new ebike bikeshare system and bike lane wayfinding signs.

I’ve been sewing of course – finished the Simplicity 8166 blouse I’ve been dying to make forever, at last! It was sort of a bear. I love the tencel twill, the weight and drape of it, but maybe it was too heavy for all the rows of gathered elastic. Trying to feed it at the same time was challenging, but looks amazing in the end. I haven’t worn it yet because I had to wash it – get the chalk marks out as well as the blood – I managed to stab myself every time I sat down to sew, and didn’t realize until after I’d gotten blood on the garment. Sigh. But isn’t it gorgeous?!?

Gorgeous, but not a single bit of reflective on it!

Gorgeous, but not a single bit of reflective on it!

I *bought* a sweater and then realized I had a spring sewing theme going – a nautical theme! I was lusting after this J. Crew sweater with an Art Nouveau type floral design as well as mermaids! I love mermaids, so much so that even though this sweater is merino, and I find it terribly itchy, I had to have it. I’ve already suffered through an itchy day worn it and think it’s just the loveliest thing (well, I think the ruffled collar is a bit not my style/odd).

(sorry, I couldn't manage a better photo than this...)

(sorry, I couldn’t manage a better photo than this…)

Then I realized that my current sewing plans include some Breton striped garments – a top using some cool ammonite fabric from Spoonflower, and the cute Christine Haynes Marianne dress. nautical-sewing-plansAdding these two patterns plus my mermaid sweater to existing nautical things in my wardrobe, well, I should be headed to the seaside somewhere!

A friend and I are heading to the Philadelphia Flower Show, and I am finally making her a long-promised dress –  she had picked a lovely floral print, so of course she needs to wear it when we go. I love the fabric, although its slippery polyester and has required a lot of hand basting, which I don’t normally do. Am I the only one who tries harder on clothing not intended for me? flower-show-dress

A super cool non-sewing dress came my way last week, the Betabrand 3M reflective dress that I’d supported way last fall – it finally arrived and is really cool! It’s that stretchy nylon fabric that will be perfect for travel, with pockets, pulls on over the head, and omg reflective!!!! Seriously, it’s pretty cool. I can’t wait to wear this somewhere. Clearly not designed with 360* reflectivity, the reflective fabric is only in the front. I’m a bit disappointed by that, to be honest; it seems like a lost opportunity. I’m sorry it’s sold out on Betabrand but keep Tweeting to 3M and maybe they’ll eventually figure out there is a retail demand for reflective fabric and help out us home sewers who are desperate for it.

A-maz-ing!!!

A-maz-ing!!!

Speaking of reflective, have you seen Vespertine NYC’s reflective collaboration with Brompton? It’s really lovely and I wish I could get all of it, but there’s that wool thing again. I mean, I guess I could do the shoelaces, but those seem so less interested compared to the cool designs of the hat and scarf. Check them out if you haven’t yet! brompton-x-vespertine-refective-collection

I don’t know if Vespertine will be at the National Bike Summit this week, but she’s been there before, so if you are in the area, check it out!

I’m not attending the National Bike Summit this year, as I have in the past, but I’ve been watching attendees roll in (literally) on Instagram and Twitter. Bikie Girl Bloomers, Pedal Love, Bikey Face, and many other bikey ladies I know from NBS and social media are there. But speaking of bikes, Bletchley, my new vintage Raleigh, is in the process of being taken apart to be upgraded. I’ve been riding The Mechanic’s Workcycles bike to test out the hub, and we found brake levers that I really like. Slowly but surely this bike will come together. bletchley-brake-leversLastly, Gaston is a delight, and seems to be getting fluffier by the day. He’s gotten a bit snugglier and while I don’t foresee him sitting in our laps any time soon, demands and gets as much attention as we can give him. It’s a shame I can’t pet him and sew at the same time! gastonSo what else did I miss while I was reviewing the last five years of my blog life?