Settling the Sewing

Well, that was chaotic! And a bit of a disaster. The Mechanic and I moved into our new apartment, only to discover that it has a fatal flaw: a low, sustained, throbbing noise, apparently from a mechanical closet that backs up to one side of our apartment. It’s like having a very large idling truck right next to your bed. So after we got everything more or less settled, we realized we can’t sleep with that noise, so we swapped bedrooms – now our bed is in the larger bedroom, further from the noise, while our craft equipment is crammed into the smaller room next to the loud noise. I guess when the sewing machine is going, maybe I won’t hear it? I’m not sure what we are going to do but at least we can’t hear it as loudly in the larger bedroom.  : (

Poor little Gaston has had a hard time settling into the new place. I’m not sure how the noise is affecting him, but the other night we woke up to him frantically thumping (a warning or distress noise for rabbits), and came out to find him running around the living room – somehow he busted out of his pen! He goes back and forth between content and unhappy. I’m unhappy at the idea that our noise apartment is bothering him. The low drumming bothers us, how can it not bother him?

I returned from New Orleans to find some fabric orders waiting for me. One was polar fleece for new rabbit blankets, but the other two were exciting. One was the Charley Harper Western Birds quilting cotton I ordered months ago from – this new collection was delayed forever and I was thrilled to learn it was finally shipping. However….. the print is MUCH larger than I was expecting. I was thinking the birds were about an inch, inch and a half, perfect for a small print blouse. But no – they are huge!

Not really blouse fabric. Now what do I do with it?!

The other fabrics I ordered after seeing an Instagram sewing friend make a fabulous dress with one. You know me and florals – I can’t resist them! I ordered this wildflower print rayon from Blackbird Fabrics in both the black and the white. I think I know what I want to make with the black, but the white I will save for next summer.

SO lovely! (spotted in the corner – the polar fleece for bunnies)

All the fall clothing is beginning to appear now, even though we probably have three more months of warm weather. I’m amused to see that several companies have denim shirt dresses prominently displayed.

I like the denim button front dress I made last year but I don’t love it, so I’m considering making another one. Maybe something a bit more bike friendly, ie, with a fuller skirt. Although I did bike to friends’ wedding anniversary cocktail party in my bug-bejeweled Victoria Beckham for Target Little Black Dress last weekend – who needs to drive when going to a party?! (PS – Spanx help more than just sucking in one’s tummy! If one needed to, that is… )

I spotted this blouse in Target:

Love this!

It gives me some flashbacks to my childhood and Laura Ashley and my obsession with the Little House on the Prairie books (NOT the TV show), which I loved. The fabric is fun, the polka dotted piping is fun, and obviously you can see where I’d put reflective piping. I just need to find a pattern for this – anyone know of a close match?

I’m anxious to get back to sewing but the sewing space is barely set up. I decided to use the setting up process as a good time to prioritize stuff, sort out fabric scraps, decided if I really need my paper fashion scrap books, etc. Then I need to register for the “Getting to know your sewing machine” classes at the store where I purchased my new Husqvarna Viking. Although I’ve made several things since I bought it, I’m sure I’ll learn a ton from the classes, so I need to do that. But by then, it will be mid-September. I guess I need to start my fall and winter projects, and put the rest of my summer things away for a while. I think I need to sew faster!

My half of the craft room – same stuff, almost the same floor plan.

Iceland Biking and New Looxs Bag

The Mechanic and I didn’t get a chance to do any bike riding while we were in Iceland, but saw some familiar bike things in Reykjavik. And I bought a lovely new pannier!

Edgar got to bike in Reykjavik

Edgar got to bike in Reykjavik

Apparently and understandably, mountain biking is a bigger deal in Iceland than basic city bicycling. I did see a group of women geared up against the cold biking past us while we sat in Slippbarinn having lunch. We also saw a consistent number of what appeared to be bicycle commuters every time we drove through Reykjavik, and even spotted a proper European bike lane.

The guy standing in the bike lane was also taking pictures of it. I wonder if he was American too.

The guy standing in the bike lane was also taking pictures of it. I wonder if he was American too.

There were also some fun bike racks around town, along with a complicated version in several places downtown.

I did find one “urban” style bike shop, catering to the Pashley/dandy crowd. I have Americanized the name to Berlin Bike Shop (Sorry!) because the true name is a bit complicated. I ducked in quickly and admired the bicycles and accessories, but didn’t linger because The Mechanic was sick. But I did grab a new bike pannier – a New Looxs bag I’d seen in Germany during our honeymoon and regretted buying ever since.

Turns out this bag was pretty expensive, after I figured out the exchange rate. Oh well – it’s extremely versatile and I’ll get a ton of use out of it.

New purchase on the couch at Slippbarinn

New purchase on the couch at Slippbarinn

It’s a nice size that can carry a folder and water bottle, but isn’t as huge as my full size pannier. It has shoulder straps to carry like a purse, pannier hooks in the back with a Velcro flap system to cover them up when not needed, a large front pocket and a small inside pocket that perfectly fits my phone.

Having a lovely new bike bag was probably the only thing that got me through my first day back. New Looxs 8As you can see, if fits nicely on my bike, and naturally coordinates.

I normally prefer my purse in my front basket, so I have my keys and phone and Kleenex close at hand. But this bag does indeed also fit in my front basket, so the days recently when I’ve had both my large pannier and this, I just put the New Looxs bag in my front basket. It doesn’t fit perfectly but close enough. Because it’s narrow, it does fit perfectly in a Capital Bikeshare basket, something few of my bags do.

I’ve been thinking about a new purse, and had decided I don’t need a bike bag to throw in my front basket, but having the ability to do both actually makes this a brilliant option. I wish the handles were a bit more comfortable on the shoulder, but it’s not that bad.

New Looxs 9

Wearing my #memade unicorn blouse on an early spring-like day

It’s hard to find these Dutch bags here in the US, of course, so even though this was crazy expensive (about $100!), I guess I would have ended up paying a small fortune in shipping if I decided to order if from overseas. And since we don’t (yet) have firm plans to return to Europe, well, let’s just say I am glad I spent the money!

Attempting Proper Pants Fit, Take One

This year, one of my sewing goals it to focus on proper fit. It’s not enough to just make my own reflective clothing anymore, I want it to look good and fit properly. This means forcing myself to take my time on projects, which I’m really too impatient to normally do. I like quick and easy garments! But I guess my priorities are shifting, at least a bit.

So I decided to make the pants from McCalls 6361 because of the fit instructions written into the sewing instructions. I had previously made a skirt from this pattern and was pleased with how easily it went together (even though I couldn’t figure out the zipper instructions and made it up). I decided that I’d make a muslin, but out of something I’d actually wear. However, I’m not sure I’d make this pants pattern again.

McCalls 6361 Skirt, made last fall

McCalls 6361 Skirt, made last fall

I didn’t take photos of the fit process, I’m sorry to report, so you’ll have to make due with mental images. I tried the process of pinning the pattern pieces together for the initial fit, but without having two legs, just the one, I found this challenging. I did take a tuck in the waistband to get it to lay flat against my body, which turned out to be perfect. I lengthened the legs, too, as I usually do. So I just cut out and basted everything together to test the fit.

Dammit, I put the label in crooked!

Dammit, I put the label in crooked!

Successes: needing to take in Center Back, thanks to my sway back. Failures: The waist ended up higher than I expected; the pant legs themselves were waaaaay too big; and I didn’t like the shape of them. So I pinned out inches off the leg circumference, took in a bit of the front crotch to reduce wrinkles, and cropped the legs. At the very last minute, I decided to add reflective trim to the hems – I hadn’t planned on adding anything, since they were a muslin, but couldn’t stand having something reflection-less!

McCalls 6361 at work

McCalls 6361 at work with my Stitch Fix sweater, bug scarf from H&M, and new Dansko Rebel Wedge shoes

Final result: I love the color, they do fit well, and I’m sure I’ll wear them a lot. However, the cut was not what I was hoping for – I think they are still baggy, and as I mentioned, the waist is above my belly button, which was not what I’d expected. (They do remind me of these Banana Republic pants, actually)

See the hem reflecting?!

See the hem reflecting?!

I'm totally in love with these new Danskos, too!

I’m totally in love with these new Danskos, too! Bought on clearance from, woot!

Trying to pin fit pants on oneself is not the easiest thing to do! But now I have an idea of what alterations need to be done on the next pair. Of course, I want a nice pair of 1930s style wide legged trousers, so that will be a different fit to begin with. But I think I will always need to take in Center Back, and the back crotch length needs to be a bit longer. I remember from my sewing classes in the 1990s (!!) needing to drop the crotch, but that wasn’t a problem on these! But this Cadet Blue color goes with everything in my wardrobe, so I’m sure these will be used frequently.

The reflective camo fabric on the pant hems reflect less than the other accessories, but I still love it

The reflective camo fabric on the pant hems reflect less than the other accessories, but I still love it

I’ve got two other projects to distract me from pants, in the meantime. I just got some basic khaki twill to make the Vogue 7910 skirt (version B) I’ve been wanting to make for ages. Khaki SkirtI wish I had enough of the gold reflective fabric to make bias, but I think I will need to use the reflective piping on this. Its more challenging to work with than the flat reflective camo fabric, so I’m not entirely thrilled with the option, but color-wise, it will work best. I really hope this turns out well. As much as I love my tan suede skirt, it’s hard to bike in. I hope this is a worthy replacement. Khaki Skirt ReflectingIt will be a few weeks before I get to do any sewing again. I guess I need to clean our apartment, and let it stay clean for a while! Does everyone make a huge mess when they sew, or is it just the bad habits I picked up while working in costume shops?!


Trends in Reflective: Floral Prints

Anyone who knows me or follows this blog knows that I love floral prints. Big flowers, small flowers, Liberty of London flowers, embroidered, printed, batik – just check out my Pinterest board for proof. And this summer, floral prints seem to be everywhere. Naturally, I did my best to keep up with this trend!

I’ve had this top planned forever, it seems, but only now was able to complete it. It’s Vogue V9087, an asymmetrical top that I decided was perfect for the blue floral reflective fabric I have. I hunted around for a long time trying to find a floral print to coordinate, and since I kept coming back to the same Robert Kaufman London Calling one, decided it was meant to be. And I think they go together nicely! Asymmetrical Floral Top 7Asymmetrical Floral Top 8The unusual pieces had me scratching my head in confusion more than once – I’m normally pretty good at visualizing how pattern pieces fit together, but this one was not as intuitive. Thankfully, this blue reflective fabric doesn’t have the same rubbery backing as the teal in the Hummingbird blouse, so at least it was easier to sew. Doesn’t press well, however, even with a press cloth. Nonetheless, I’m pretty excited about it. This is an unusual pattern, and makes the ditsy floral print a bit less precious. At least, I hope it does.

Some of the details up close:

Naturally, you want to know how reflective it is. I carefully picked the left side for the reflective pieces, as I feel that is where a car is most likely to see anything reflective. And the whole side, under my arm and everything, is quite reflective! (Before you get too upset, please note that we ran out to take photos in front of our apartment and I completely forgot to grab my helmet. I didn’t feel like going back to get it. So although I am paranoid and almost always wear a helmet, no helmet appears in these photos.) Asymmetrical Top Reflecting 1Asymmetrical Top Reflecting 3Asymmetrical Top Reflecting 4I’m amazed that we don’t see more garments made out of this reflective fabric. It’s just so cool! Asymmetrical Top Reflecting 2I can’t wait until The Mechanic and I have our next bike date night, so I can wear this out in public! A night when we can’t get reservations until later, so I can get the full effect of biking home after dark and lighting up the roads in this asymmetrical reflective floral top!

This will have to keep me going for a while, because I will not be at home for the next three weekends, which means no sewing. <sniff> Very sad. I can’t wait to finally start my jumpsuit, and hope to get that made in August. I covered the machines, like I’m closing up shop.

Until we meet again, old friends....

Until we meet again, old friends….