July 2019: Reflective Revisited

It’s July, and still the longest days of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere, that is), there is still a ton of daylight. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking about all things reflective!

I recently stumbled cross two reflective things in unexpected places: LeSportsac and Target! Who knew that LeSportsac would even make a reflective bag?!?! I was looking at their Fifi Lapin collaboration (a fashionable bunny, be still my heart!) and somehow came across the reflective bags. Reflective AND on sale, I ordered a cross body bag with no hesitation. Yes, I passed up the bunny bags for the reflective one. Thank goodness – the color I ordered is now sold out. Flat, with two front zippers, short handles on top, but with a long strap, this bag is surprisingly spacious. I was able to fit my water bottle in it with no problems the day we went kayaking. There are still other bags in this collection available, but don’t wait too long! I might buy all the rest.My Target find is admittedly pretty random, especially for someone who has short hair. By the time scrunchies came on the scene in the late 80s, my long hair was already long gone, so not only did I never like them, I never had the need. Apparently scrunchies are enjoying a renaissance, as many sewists are making them with fabric scraps. Again, not something I’ve paid any attention to – until I walked past a display of *reflective* ones in Target the other day!!! And yes, I bought one. I figure it will be a great bracelet. And maybe I’ll get another so I can wear them as wrist ruffles. There are also some to be found on Etsy, like this listing for a totally reflective one.

Another favorite place for reflective scrunchies, as well as other fun accessories, is Reflective Society. I’ve mentioned this company before, because I’ve ordered some of the buttons before. I’m currently in love with the tassel earrings and absolutely adore the little pom-pom pair. The knit reflective scrunchie seems like a good fall piece, if you are looking for one. I haven’t been doing much reflective sewing lately, but I’m gearing up for a big project. I have some luscious wool from Dashing Tweeds that will eventually become a jacket. I just ordered the lining fabric for it. I’ve been *obsessed* with this Moonglow Mystery by Abigal Halpin for Spoonflower print for years, and decided that it would be the perfect lining for the jacket. I ordered two yards of it in satin, and it feels wonderful and the print is nice and sharp. I’m taking a workshop in a few weeks at Stitch Sew Shop in a few weeks that will help us fit any pattern we want. I will definitely want a muslin for this jacket, with all these expensive fabrics, so this seems like the best way to get the best fit. Hopefully Taylor McVay of Blueprints for Sewing has a lot of patience for me, as this isn’t a quick and easy pattern.  (Of course this could all go terribly wrong – I hope I can squeeze these pattern pieces out of the tweed I have; I haven’t laid it all out yet….)

So there are a few summer reflective accessories for you, if you want to add something small to your collection while I work on something big. Tell me, did you wear scrunchies in the 80s? Will you wear them this time around?

Sewing Jan19: So Much to Catch Up With!

Welcome to my first post in my attempt to focus my blogging a bit more in 2019. Every month I will do a sewing post, a biking post, a travel post, and a catch-all ICYMI post. That way, everyone who likes different things about my blog can read what they are most interested in – and I have a bit more focus!

Catching Up

After doing zero sewing in November, I cranked out a ton of stuff in December. Remind me next year to not leave the gift sewing until the last minute, okay?!   

Friends, sisters who once raised rabbits as kids, had their babies months apart, so of course I had to make their babies bunny pjs!

Love this pillow cover that I made my father-in-law! It’s so perfect for his farm, and he loves it.

In between sewing presents, I made myself four new garments – mostly *after* Christmas.

I threw together this Named Clothing Inari Tee Dress, which I ordered pre-printed with this “Dark Matter” print from Sprout Patterns, as part of their closing sale. It’s waaaaaay too short on me, which I should have anticipated. As the pattern pieces were printed onto the fabric, there was no way for me to lengthen this. I wore it to work with leggings and boots but might end up shortening it into a top. But I love the print, so it will stay as a favorite.

Work bathroom selfie – you can almost see how short this is. Without leggings, it’s indecent!

I also made another pair of the Burda 6770 pants, but this time in black corduroy. I also didn’t include the drawstring, and just made two wider elastic bands. I love the darkness of black corduroy, and wanted something winter-weight that I could someday fit thermal leggings under, when it’s super cold. These will do the trick, and go with everything else I’m making this winter.

Hard to see the details on black corduroy….

Then I made a fabulous cardigan from a pattern I’ve made before, McCalls 6844. The first time I made this, I made the asymetrical peplum, but this time, I wanted the peplum the same longer length. Since I apparently didn’t keep those pattern pieces, and the pattern has vanished from the internet, I had to re-draft them! I like pattern drafting though, so that was fun. This black and white “tweed” knit was recently purchased at JoAnn Fabrics. I added black reflective piping to the waist seams for some subtle yet important reflectivity. I really like this cardigan, although I’m not a fan of cardigans that don’t fasten in the front. I added ties to the first one I made, but decided to leave this one alone. Maybe I’ll add something later.

New pants and cardigan, worn with a shirt I made in January

The last thing I made in 2018 was this cozy tunic made with Dri-Flex fleece, ordered from Stonemountain and Daughter (glad I ordered it when I did – now they only have it in this purple-pink color). The pattern is McCalls 7660, version F with Version E sleeves, a quick and easy make. This stuff doesn’t press well though, so the hems feel poufy! But the inside of the fabric is so soft, and I can see this being a three seasons top.

Another work bathroom selfie! I don’t know where I stashed my tripod for better selfies….

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with my 2018 sewing. I made 24 things, not counting the baby clothes and the zip pouches I made as Christmas presents. Some of the things were sleeper hits, like the Sewaholic Granville shirt I made out of the Tula Pink snail print. Even though I lengthened the sleeves too much, I tend to wear it alot. I did some random Disney World sewing, but also made my fabulous Dashing Tweeds reflective coat and Liberty of London dinosaur shirt. And, since 2012, this brings my MeMade garments to a total of 100! Not all are winners, and sadly, I am not skinny enough to fit into some of the earliest favorites at the moment, but I feel well on my way to an exclusively MeMade wardrobe.

2018 makes, with favorites highlighted

Planning 2019

I have such a backlog of sewing projects! So many that I have fabric and patterns paired up, just no time. At least there are a few long weekends in January and February!

Patterns and swatches waiting for me!

But on January 1, as I sat down to start another cardigan, my serger gave up the ghost. It’s a long story but essentially, I couldn’t get it to work at all. It’s probably 25 years old, and I’ve been thinking about replacing it, but I sort of thought I’d have some more time. I guess we are never really when something beloved dies, are we?

Bought in California in the early-mid 90s, three years on tour with me, ten years in NYC, several locations in the DC region – it’s lived a GOOD life!

So I ordered one from Amazon and it arrived just in time for weekend sewing.

Welcome, Locky!

This one will be fine until I decide if I want to look into a nicer one. It’s pretty lightweight and already it feels like I’m running it too hard and fast. A sturdier machine would be really nice someday, but for now, this will get me through that project list.

I broke in my new serger and interrupted my black and white winter theme to complete a blue cardigan that should coordinate well with almost everything I already own. Trying to make some winter basics is a big part of my winter sewing right now. This McCalls 6996 cardigan doesn’t have any front closures either, so I may end up adding something. I just feel that cardigans should actually close, amiright? There weren’t many seams so all this one got was a bit of black reflective piping at the back waist seam, but it will do. I hope that this will be a good travel piece, too.

I am interrupting my black and white winter theme one more time this month. I’m headed to a conference in Orlando in February, which means Disney World, which means, yep, you know it  another Disney-themed something! This time, it will be a Jungle Cruise-themed long sleeve shirt. I found this “lagoon map” Cotton & Steel print and coconut buttons. It will be perfect for a winter jungle cruise! And I can get away with it in the office, too.

Not exactly Disney but for those who know the Jungle Cruise ride, well, they’ll know

I’m still on my hunt for the perfect <fill in the blank> garment, the perfect pants, the perfect skirt, the perfect dress, etc. I’d love to perfect pants, always my weakest link, but I need to not get distracted until I get through this list. Then I can evaluate what has worked best and study the dismal failures. I need to wear what I’ve made until I can’t stand it any more, and then I’ll know what works best, what I’ve worn the most and love the most. But I’ve got a while before that sewing list finally ends!

Feelin’ fancy with such new machines!

Shifting My Summer Plans

Here we are in mid-June and I feel as if my summer is over already! I have two more small-ish trips lined up, in addition to my recent trip to New Orleans and a quick weekend trip to Shenandoah National Park. Over the July Fourth weekend, The Mechanic and I will be visiting his father in Missouri, then I am going to a work conference in Portland, Oregon, at the beginning of August. Then it will be time for back to school, so just like that <poof> my summer feels gone!

All the traveling has cut into my spring/summer sewing plans, however, so I’m shifting my plans and re-prioritizing. I had grand plans for completing garments for each trip, and I did get my navy culottes and blue Liberty of London “Edna” blouse done for New Orleans (even though I ended up not taking the culottes). However, the denim dress and red pants I wanted to make for Missouri are not going to happen, and making a “business” dress to take to the conference definitely won’t happen. And the Breton-style shirt I wanted to make from the cool ammonite Spoonflower fabric? I haven’t even printed out the pattern I downloaded, let alone order the fabric!

This past weekend I cranked out some easy stuff that definitely deviated from my original summer sewing plans. I really wanted light gray, easy casual drawstring pants that would coordinate well enough with many of my blouses that I could expand my wardrobe a tad (at the moment, I have one pair of fitted gray jeans that go with *everything* so I wanted another options). I stupidly ordered five pairs from the Gap and Target, and returned them all because they fit terribly. For about a fourth of the price, I ordered a box of fabric and made pants and two tube skirts instead! And I made another Sprout Grainline Studios Lark Tee with Spoonflower performance pique fabric. So four things in two days, woot! Oh, and I cut out new pieces to remake the crown of my sun hat as well as the McCalls dress. Super productive!

However…. I’m rethinking my summer sewing plans. Looking at my schedule, I can see that I am not going to have time to get all the summer sewing done I want to, even if I prioritize and only do the denim dress and the red pants. And it makes me realize that the harder, more involved winter sewing I want to do is what I should be starting instead. So maybe I need to shift my sewing so that I make fall/winter things in the spring and summer, and spend the winter working on spring/summer clothing (come on Snow Days!).

Cut out is a start!

Cut out is a start!

There is the winter coat I want to make – a huge undertaking for me, who normally prefers quick and easy projects. Not only is it a complex looking design, it means an outer fashion fabric, a lining and perhaps even a Thinsulate inner lining. I haven’t decided yet. And making all the reflective bias to include in the seams. I do want to make a muslin, because if I am going to spend all this time and money on it, I want it to fit right (shoulders, I’m looking at you). So that adds even more time onto the project. This could take months.

Butterick 6292 Version C

Butterick 6292 Version C

Other fall/winter things I am thinking about – perhaps a dress that could have a blouse or turtleneck layered under it, something with a deep scoop neck and fuller skirt. I haven’t found a pattern for it yet, but I haven’t done much looking. And I *still* am dying to use the Spoonflower fabric I picked out months ago, Moonglow Mystery. It screams Victorian to me – something with a high ruffled collar, rather than a traditional shirt collar. But do I want buttons up the front? Slightly fuller sleeves? Not too fussy, but not quite classic either…  And as always, pants. But if I get the red trousers made this summer, those can be my wearable muslin for that pattern, and I can just make a few pairs in whatever color I need. I need more wide-legged cuffed trousers in my life. And I still want to make a cardigan, and maybe another sweatshirt? I have no interest in making blazers or sweaters, but what other cold-weather garments can I make now that I can still wear without a coat, so I can show off the reflective detailing? Then there is the Issey Miyake pattern I’ve owned since 1991 and would still LOVE to make, but I’m afraid it’s beyond my skill level. Lots of tailoring techniques I haven’t used since I learned them – in the 1990s!

It’s hard to get motivated to sew for winter when the summer is just getting started. I just can’t think of what I might want in 6 months! And I’m not doing a Me Made challenge of my cold weather things, haha!

I guess I shouldn’t worry about it too much, at least not until I get the denim dress and the red trousers made. But I’ll definitely be looking for ideas, and filing stuff away for next year. That is, this winter, when I’m sewing for next summer.

Not the most flattering photo, nor the sexiest of outfits, but I love the way the butterfly tee and the linen pants work together!

Not the most flattering photo, nor the sexiest of outfits, but I love the way the butterfly tee and the linen pants work together!


Also, I think I will be shifting my blog to “summer hours” and only posting once a week until things settle a bit. They will, won’t they?!



Shopping, Sewing and Sustainability

The Mechanic and I try to live a sustainable life – we are vegetarian (except during international travel, when we want to try local specialties), do our best to avoid foods made with palm oil, we walk, bike or use public transportation on a daily basis, and rent cars when we are going out of town. We use as little water as possible, turning off the water during showers and while brushing teeth, and The Mechanic mostly washes dishes by hand to reduce water usage. We have CFLs or LED lights, reuse our plastic zip top baggies, use environmentally-friendly cleaning products as much as possible, take reusable bags when we go shopping, and turn off the lights in rooms we aren’t using. There is always room for improvement – I’ve recently been exploring environmentally-friendly toiletries and beauty supplies, and buying bulk food items like nuts. But for me, shopping is The Weakest Link.Plastic Baggies

Eileen Fisher, fashion designer and industry activist, said last year that fashion is the second most polluting industry after the oil industry. She knows better than I do, but there is no arguing with the fact that the fashion industry is not an ideal industry. From ethical treatment of workers to textile manufacture to shipping garments and shoes thousands of miles to billions of garments being thrown away, there are problems all the way through. Fast fashion, clothing that is turned out quickly after it appears on runways, has become the norm, as people of all ages flock to inexpensive trends as soon as they come out. Fashion Revolution Week, April 18-24 this year, brings attention to the nameless workers who crank out those fast fashion pieces, a movement inspired by and in honor of the over 1,100 workers who died in the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh.  In response, some clothing companies pledged greater transparency with their supply chain, resulting in the Fashion Transparency Index, ranking clothing companies by results. But even beyond the idea of who makes the clothes the world consumes are issues involving the fabrics themselves – polyester is made from petroleum; creating cotton fabric uses an unbelievable amount of water; there’s the fertilizer used in growing those crops; and apparently the average American citizen THROWS AWAY 70lbs of clothing a year. The statistics are depressing.

Who made my clothes? I did!

Who made my clothes? I did!

So with an industry dirty from beginning to end, how do you incorporate sustainability into what you put on every day?


I love these pieces but maybe for the same price I should have just ordered three yards of Liberty of London fabric…

I could smugly answer, “Well, I make my own clothes,” but that is not only an incorrect answer, it doesn’t solve the problem. I don’t make ALL my own clothes. I don’t know where the fabrics I purchase are made, or by whom. I’ve never even looked to see where my patterns are printed! Because I have limited local fabric shopping options, I tend to order most of fabrics, which means transportation emissions from the warehouse where the fabrics are kept; don’t even think about how the fabrics were transported to that warehouse. And I still buy fast fashion – I love my Liberty of London for Uniqlo purchases! So what is a sewist and fashion addict to do?!

For starters, I try really hard to not buy clothing any more “just because.” I actually find that I would rather make most things anyway, and that I’d rather *wear* the things I make. It’s more fun to make cute reflective garments than basic tee shirts, but I may need to start doing that as well. I love Spoonflower because of their eco-friendly system: digital printing of fabric leads to less waste of fabric, ink and electricity; they don’t need to store potentially unpurchased fabrics that could end up thrown away; many of their fabrics are made in the USA or organic or both; they support small designers by giving them a platform; and the Sprout Patterns printed on fabric reduces even more waste! If I could buy all my fabrics from Spoonflower, I would.

One giant piece of fabric with the pattern pieces printed right on it!

One giant piece of fabric with the pattern pieces printed right on it!

I have started researching companies that do engage in eco-friendly, ethical creations. H&M and Uniqlo aren’t doing too badly on the Fashion Transparency Index, and I do like H&M’s Conscious Exclusive collection, even though most of it is fancier than I’d ever need. I don’t know that I have the patience to simply not buy – I’m a bit like a magpie: Oh look, something shiny! But if I can focus on a list of places whose practices I agree with, at least my purchases are supporting what I believe in. I haven’t fully identified those companies yet; the ones I have found have very expensive clothing. On the other hand, the pieces I own that I’ve spent the most money on tend to be the pieces I love wearing. Hm… maybe that should be my new shopping strategy: only buy expensive things! Hahahaha….

In terms of sewing and sustainability, I will be testing out my first few download-and-tape-together pattern from indie pattern companies, and looking around for other places to order fabric. I need to find some patterns that can act as basics, so I don’t need to buy those but can quickly whip them up. I would love to be able to sew everything, but I simply don’t have time, and then I get impatient for something new, and then I go out an buy. Hm…. So really, what this all boils down to is being happy with what I have and not wanting anything new! But that seems boring to me – I need to make it work in more eco-friendly ways! And either way, I need to think about the carbon footprint of the USPS/UPS/FedEx way my orders get to me. Buy all the fabric all at once?

What are your favorite sustainable ways to shop and sew?


April Showers Bring Spring Sewing Plans

April showers bring May flowers, as the saying goes, but also time to be inside and plot my sewing list for the next several months, yay! This month will be a bit crazy, however, with several weekends of out-of-town guests, and an industry summit in DC, which means out-of-town colleagues to catch up with, plus summit-ing. Nevertheless, I ignore reality and charge ahead with my overly-ambitious sewing plans!

Last month I finished my Vogue 7910 skirt (now apparently discontinued), in khaki twill with the camo reflective bias trim in the side panels. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, although the reflective trim isn’t as bright as I’d like. Also, I’d forgotten how wrinkly twill get, yikes. I wore it the very early morning I met some friends for a bike ride to see sunrise and cherry blossom blooms at the Tidal Basin, and am happy to say it’s a perfectly lovely biking skirt. I anticipate wearing this often in the warmer months ahead.

I tried to get my current project done in March, so I could move ahead with two tops in April, but that didn’t happen. I’m glad I made a muslin of the Kwik Sew 4104 (also apparently now discontinued) jacket I’ve got planned, because I don’t like the fit at all! It’s *huge* – and I cut out a size Medium! I’ve pin fit the muslin but now need to redo everything. Basically, I want to tailor the waist by taking in about 4″ all around, but I’m not sure how that’s going to turn out. I might cut a size Extra-Small in another muslin, I don’t know. I also need to drop the waist about an inch but that’s easy compared to how much needs to be taken in. Even though Spring showers bring May flowers, and I love almost anything floral, I’ve chosen a nautical theme for my Spring and Summer sewing line-up. I’m thinking wide-leg trousers, red and denim blue, lots of stripes, fish, and for something different, ammonites!

First up, an easy top with fish fabric from Spoonflower, in an easy Butterick pattern.

Then something more creative, also with Spoonflower fabric. I’m obsessed with the ammonite ditsy print that Spoonflower designer Coggon created! I think it will be perfect for a Breton-style top. I’m bravely going to try my first download-print out-tape together pattern (ulp), Christine Haynes Marianne dress, which I will then shorten into a top. (Seems like alot of work to tape something together to then cut it apart…)

I want to make more pants, because eventually I’ll find a pattern I like and learn how to adjust patterns for proper fit. I have the sailor pants pattern from Vogue, but I’ll put that off, and first make a nice pair of wide-legged trousers in faded red. I love wide-leg trousers, especially with a cuff. The Simplicity pattern I wanted also was discontinued, but luckily I found it on Etsy.

Then I am going to make two dresses from the same pattern, one for me and one for a friend. McCalls 6520 is *also* out of print, but again, thanks to Etsy, I was able to grab it. I’m going to do version A for me in lightweight pale denim, with the reflective floral blue fabric worked in somehow, and version C/D for my friend, but with 3/4 sleeves. She’s already picked out her fabric, but I haven’t even looked for mine yet. Deadline – a girls’ trip to New Orleans! I could be sewing late the night before we leave….

Out-of-print McCalls 6520 dreses

Out-of-print McCalls 6520 dresses

There are more things on my list but I think this will keep me plenty busy. I’ll be very impressed with myself if I can get this all done before Memorial Day weekend, but know it probably won’t happen. But if it keeps raining, maybe there will be more days and evenings at home sewing! And flowers in May…

In Which I Try Sprout Patterns

Being recently introduced to Spoonflower, a fantasticlly fun and addictive website with millions of independent graphic designers’ designs and a range of fabric options for digital printing, meant also being introduced to Sprout Patterns. Sister website to Spoonflower, Sprout Patterns takes digital fabric printing one more step and prints the pattern pieces directly onto the fabric you choose. What?!?!? This is So. Cool.

I decided to test it out on a gift for a friend. (Hopefully she has it by now so this doesn’t ruin the surprise!) I have wanted the Grainline Studios Lark Tee pattern, so this seemed like a good way to get it. In the “Create your own” section of the Sprout Lark Tee page, I decided to make a traditional tee shirt style, but you could choose from long sleeves, short sleeves, scoop neck, and so on. After you pick the style you want, you pick your fabric (from a selection of appropriate fabrics) and print from the Spoonflower catalog. You get this cool 3-D model of what your finished project should look like, as well as how the pieces will be printed on the fabric. There are endless combinations! This was so much fun.

An example of how Sprout Patterns works

An example of how Sprout Patterns works

So I picked a print, ordered (note: this is kinda pricey), and waited for the fabric to arrive.

One giant piece of fabric with the pattern pieces printed right on it!

One giant piece of fabric with the pattern pieces printed right on it!

Sprout 1 Sprout 4I had been concerned about pattern direction, because the 2-D and 3-D models on the website didn’t show pattern pieces and print patterns laid out properly, but of course, it came with the directions and pattern pieces as they should be. Of course – this digital stuff is super fancy!

The Lark pattern was easy to follow, and the modern jersey fabric I chose was lovely to sew. I’m quite pleased with the way the shirt came out – I hope my friend loves it as much! Sprout 5I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing more of these in the future! A bonus was that all the pattern pieces were available to download after I ordered the fabric print, so I can now make as many Lark Tees as I want! The Sprout Pattern option is really great, and I love that I can get the performance pique as an option, perfect for steamy summer biking. It isn’t cheap to go this route, so I’m not sure how often I will do it. However, I love the concept, and I’m just lazy enough that not having to cut out pattern pieces is a dream to me. It does mean not being able to adjust the pattern, though.

Regardless, I’m pretty hooked on this whole concept! Sprout 3

Surviving Snowzilla

The weather forecasters were surprisingly accurate with this past weekend’s blizzard. Multiple meteorologists said the storm would hit the DC area between 1-3pm on Friday, January 22, and just after 1pm, I saw the first snowflakes. By the time we went to bed, there were already several inches on the ground. Saturday, January 23, was a day of relentless snow and wind. Although I enjoyed peeking out the window, it did feel tedious after a while.

I started Snowzilla (as it was named) strong, cutting out fabric, but didn’t actually feel like sewing, so I snuggled up on the couch and read all day, keeping an eye on the snow. Sunday, on the other hand, I was highly productive! The Mechanic had to work, so I accompanied him partway (thank goodness he can walk to work!) to see the results of the blizzard. (All the public transportation was shut down, so lord only knows how those poor people who *had* to work got around.)Snowzilla 3Everything was buried under fluffy white snow! And I mean everything! Once again, I was grateful that I am not car-dependent.

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Rabbit-meteorologist Edgar measured 19" in front of our apartment. Thanks Edgar!

Rabbit-meteorologist Edgar measured 19″ in front of our apartment. Thanks Edgar!

Bathed with some bright winter sun, and warmed up by trudging through the freshly-fallen show, I came home and tackled my sewing. I outdid myself – I made a blouse AND a skirt!

Working with this cheery, summery print made me happy, and long for warm weather! I made use of some of the reflective grosgrain ribbon I purchased ages ago in New York City for the ties, although I think it works better for the back tie than for the neck tie. And I had enough large scraps of the purple reflective fabric to get the cuffs made. Both the fabric and the grosgrain coordinated perfectly! The pattern is New Look 6187, which I plan to make again soon in the lower neckline with long sleeves.

I also tackled the Disaster Dress. I took out the skirt panels and simply created an A-line skirt with the chain mail Spoonflower fabric. I did add some reflective trim to the side seams, and I think I will add some elastic to the waist, even though it doesn’t really need it. I was torn between making it a pencil skirt, or just using the pieces as I had cut them for the dress pattern, and decided the later would work best. It’s pretty flattering, although I couldn’t get a decent photo of me wearing it. So now the Disaster Dress pattern is put away, never to see the light of day again. I just didn’t like the shape. But the skirt is wonderful! Too bad I ended up wasting about a yard of the fabric. Chain Mail Skirt 2 Chain Mail SkirtMonday was a snow day – just about everything was closed, schools, government, etc. I cleaned the house, and walked to “our” park, Lubber Run. It’s not that far away, but with all the snow piles, well, it was a hike. It seems like I have to have at least one snowstorm rant blog post, so here it is – how walk-friendly Arlington is NOT after a snowstorm.

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The streets are plowed. Most of the sidewalks are cleared. But no one has cleared the CROSSWALKS! Glebe Road is a very busy road, not just for cars but for pedestrians. It’s a major bus route (the bus shelters were amazingly clear), and the neighborhood grocery store, Harris Teeter, is located right there. These few blocks are always full of pedestrians, and post-blizzard is no different. So there we all were, forging across walls of snow, because there was no way to get to the crosswalks. Walking through the street behind parents with a baby stroller made me anxious for them, as well as for myself! Although most of the people I saw out were fairly healthy-looking, stable people (Millennials and low income families), I did see some elderly people cautiously picking their way over the snow. And what better argument for making ALL walk signals automatic than seeing how impossible they are to get to, once the snow plows have piled the snow up around them?!

I realize that the DC Metro area does not get this sort of snow on a regular basis, so it’s hard to know how to tackle the snow recovery. That being said, we’ve had enough snow storms to realize that people still need to get around after them, even if it is just walking to the grocery store or park. It seems like instructions on clearing crosswalks would be a good start, and encouraging sidewalk clearing all the way into the streets. Find a way to have those working the smaller, more nimble Bobcats pile the snow in other areas than the street corners. It’s a shame to promote our “car free” communities while not being able to support them year-round.

Okay, rant over. Let’s turn our attention away from the ugly reality of snow removal to the beauty in the park. It really was gorgeous, and fun to see all the kids sledding down whatever hills they could find. It’s nice to have a place to go see the beauty of the season, rather than being bogged down in the increasingly ugly urban snow.

How did you survive Snowzilla? Or do you live somewhere where this sort of thing is a weekly occurrence? If so, how is the recovery managed? Snow Angel

Disaster Dress

A friend said it was bound to happen – one sewing project out of so many ended up not so great. I suppose it’s true but that doesn’t make me any happier when I look at my disaster dress.

It's about 10 sizes too big!

It’s about 10 sizes too big!

Let’s review what the pattern is supposed to look like: Kwik Sew PatternThe sleeve cap should be a tiny bit over the shoulder, but not halfway down my bicep, as it is. The dress should be more fitted, the sleeves should be fitted, and the elastic shouldn’t sag. And I was so close to being done with this dress that day…

I think the biggest problem is that the solid lavender fabric is bamboo jersey, and the chain mail print fabric (my first Spoonflower purchase!) is a much heavier knit. The weights don’t match up. I think this contributes to the sagging elastic in the front and back. Also, I carefully tried to alter the pattern to fit, and again, didn’t do the dress any favors. I dropped the waist, because it seemed to high, and now it seems too low. I lengthened the sleeves, which was probably not too bad because once the sleeve seam is closer to where it should be, the sleeve length will work out fine. I wanted the dress length to be in between the two options shown, so I carefully altered for that, and now I think it’s longer than the longer version! At least that’s an easy fix. Beyond those things, I have NO idea why it’s so big. I cut out the size Medium and used the proper seam allowance (which I don’t always do, I admit).

Every time I *try* to do the right thing, it backfires on me!

Every time I *try* to do the right thing, it backfires on me!

Of course, none of this is irreparable. I just am not looking forward to taking it apart, especially considering my carefully serged seam finishing. I’m not sure I want to tackle trying to raise the waist from the shoulders. I am debating hunting for a heavier weight knit to replace the solid, but this lavender matches so perfectly that I don’t want to do that either. Guess I need to try to pull up the shoulders, make the side panels narrower, and cut the sleeve width in half. Shortening the overall length by about 4 inches will be the easiest part. I am considering adding an elastic casing around the waist on the sides, to pull it in a bit more and see if it helps take up some of the weight of the front and back elastic. I just hope I can save it enough to love it as much as I really want to.

While I think about this, I am tackling a new project – making baby clothes for a friend’s baby shower next week! I’ve never made baby clothes before and had fun picking fabrics. Not sure about tiny footed jammies and snap tape crotches, so we’ll see what happens!  Baby Clothes


Prints or Plain: Planning Perfect Projects

I’ve been soooo lucky to have two 5-day weekends at home over the holidays. Instead of rushing through life as we usually do, I’ve had the opportunity, with so much free time, to do things I don’t normally – I cooked two meals, baked, The Mechanic and I went to the movie theater (James Bond Spectre and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, woot!), and I was able to spread out my sewing projects and get stuff organized and completed.

Star Wars SkirtI even ended up with time to start a dress I thought I would have to wait on – a Kwik Sew pattern, it’s going together very quickly indeed!

I love it when a pattern only has one page of instructions, don't you?

I love it when a pattern only has one page of instructions, don’t you?

I’m so excited to be using my new Spoonflower chain mail print knit on this dress! I hunted all over trying to find fabric that I would like in the contrast section of this dress, debating between two solid colors or a print and a solid. I knew I found the right piece when I saw that. I had a swatch of bamboo jersey in a color that matches perfectly, so it ended up being perfect. (I’m adding the sleeves, and adjusted the length so it’s in between the two options shown.)

The dilemma over this dress highlights the struggle I’m having with the stack of patterns I have awaiting my attention. I had assembled a “capsule collection” for the fall, but alas, I haven’t completed as much of it as planned. I did get the colorblock dress done, and the bow blouse, but the pants, jacket, cardigan and second blouse have evaded even being started. I simply can’t decide what fabric to pick!

I’ve picked a nice solid color twill for the pants, which are on task for this month. The color will be perfect for the bow blouse. I’m using the twill as my muslin, but still want to be able to wear them, so I chose carefully. Pants FabricBut I can’t decide what to make the coat and cardigan out of!!! Solid or print? A neutral or a fun print? Something that goes with everything, or a really stand out print that goes with only a few things? I have so many print shirts right now, and several navy and gray jackets, and everything more or less goes with something else (even if I’m not thrilled with the combo), so I could splash out and do something crazy – but what if I end up wearing it rarely?! That defeats the purpose.

The coat will have reflective camo on the cuffs and hem (but not a collar), but I can't decide about the rest of it. The cardigan I just can't decide.

The coat will have reflective camo on the cuffs and hem (but not a collar), but I can’t decide about the rest of it. The cardigan I just can’t decide. 

This will be a great spring jacket that will reflect like mad when I bike home wearing it!

This will be a great spring jacket that will reflect like mad when I bike home wearing it!

I’m definitely obsessed with floral prints, if you hadn’t realized yet, but I like the occasional abstract print as well. I found this shoe print in the bottom of my stash (which isn’t all that big, to be honest) and think it needs to become a fun summer blouse. I don’t have much of it so it will probably be a sleeveless something.

I found this Moonglow Mystery print on Spoonflower and am COMPLETELY obsessed with it. I just can’t decide what to make out of it. I love that Spoonflower has “performance” fabrics as an option, so I have been mulling over the idea of making a moisture-wicking tee shirt with it, but I think it calls for a more structured, Victorian style. Hopefully I’ll see the perfect pattern soon, so I can order the fabric. Spoonflower Moonlight MysteryBut then that brings me right back to the dilemma – a bazillion print tops and only navy and gray pants. And don’t get me started on skirts – trying to coordinate plain or print skirts with everything else is a whole different challenge! Augh!

Am I the only one worried about making things that don’t go with anything else in my wardrobe? To the other sewists out there – what do you do? How to you manage what you make, and whether or not it all coordinates? Or do you just not worry about it?

The struggle is real - solid swatches, but nothing I like

The struggle is real – solid swatches, but nothing I like