Friday, January 29, 2010

Just before I go

I have decided NOT to bring the new linen outfit I just made. Not because I haven't decided on the buttons (although, I am pretty sure I want to do covered buttons). But because I am leaving tomorrow and I want to take a minimum of fuss outfits with me and you can't say that linen is no-fuss. So I will go through my tried and true clothes, like the kind I took to California with me in August. Only I will bring more layers and long sleeves to Florida! If it gets hot, great. But even in California in August, on the coast I was wishing I had more things with sleeves.
I finished the robe and now it is packed. If I blog on this trip it will be to as that is the default I set my EeePC to just now. I'd better go finish packing! Thanks everyone for your comments!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

PJs and robe

Almost there!
I finished the top first.
Here's how I finished the seams. The one on the left is "wrong sides together" and sewn in about a 1/4 inch seam. The one on the right has been trimmed down to about 1/8 of an inch.
After I iron the seam to one side, then I iron it "right sides together" and stick a few pins in to hold it in place, with the stitching running along the fold. Then I sew another 1/4 inch (or maybe 3/8) seam, with the right sides together, encasing the raw, trimmed edges.
I couldn't do a French finish on the crotch seam of the pants because it bends sharply. Here is a french seam (the lower one) compared with the seam that I sewed a double line of stitching on. I am pulling away the threads that fray madly. I will trim those but they will continue to fray whenever I wash the pants, until they reach a kind of stasis. C'est la vie.
Speaking of the pants, here they are before I have installed the elestic/drawstring combo through the waist casing. They look huge! And they look like those silly basketball shorts. Sorry if anyone reading this admires basketball shorts but I think they look silly.
Here I have completed the drawstring waist and tied the strings in a bow. They'll sort of look like culottes when I wear them, I am thinking.
See how madly the cut edges of this fabric fray, even when I've hardly handled them.
I haven't finished the robe yet but I thought I'd bundle all three pieces up to see how small they will pack. That was the point of this exercise after all - to make something that packs up pretty small. I am happy with the size of this bundle.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sewing the robe and PJs

So I cut out the robe and PJs and now I am doing the preliminary work - making bias binding, turning drawstring tubes. I have decided to finish all the seams by making French seams, except for the centre front and back of the PJ shorts. This fabric is quite ravelly and there are really fine threads that appear everywhere on cut edges. I wouldn't like the look of the insides of the garments if I zigzagged the raw edges to keep them from ravelling, so I am going for the encased French seam. I am also putting the shiny and smooth side inside, next to my skin. While it looks like the nicest side, since hardly anyone is going to see these things, I am choosing the feel-nice over the look-nice.

Interestingly, even the robe bands don't call for interfacing so there is zero interfacing in this outfit. I guess that will allow it to pack even smaller. Which addresses Heather's suggestion about what fabric to use - I am going with this thin stuff because it packs light. Your suggestion would definitely be warmer but I am hoping Florida won't be too cold in a week! Dog forbid we should have a hotel fire.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The linen outfit and then PJs and a robe

What a klutz! I accidentally deleted a set of photos at Flickr (I still don't know how I did that) and they all disappeared from my blog. So I had to edit the last entry and stick them all back in there.

I would like to thank all those who have already commented on my last entry - you guys are great! I can't believe you are still lurking after all those months. And I have to say, I felt guilty for not blogging.

Rose, it is interesting that you used the word "neighbour" because I AM going to be in Florida in about a week and a half! Since my parents are at the wheel (literally), I probably won't be dropping in, but I'll think of you as I drive past DeLand! I am hoping the parental units want to spend some time on an Atlantic beach but really, anywhere is great. I also bought the Lonely Planet guide to Florida and am already making notes in it. DeLand is on page 387. :) I think I want to get further south and am still voting for the Keys.
Back to the linen: So the jacket calls for a bow in the back and while I don't think it is twee (I do love the girls over at Go Fug Yourself), I also don't think I am going to put one on this jacket. Maybe if the fabric was plain and draped a little more.
I put the collar on opposite to the instructions, so that the hand sewing of the facing would be underneath the collar, as it lay on the jacket when worn. Look at those tiny stitches! I've still got it.
This is the jacket inside-out and if you click on the photo and make it as large as possible, you can see that I have flat felled the seams. I didn't do what I often do, which is the modified flat fell, because then you would see strips of the right side of the fabric. I thought the inside of the jacket would look better if it all looked like the wrong side of the fabric, instead of with little patterned strips running all over it.
I also decided against using seam binding of any kind on the hems. Instead, I folded over the raw edge of the hem and then folded up the hem and hand sewed it in place.
Again, you'll have to make this photo larger, but I topstitched around the neck and armholes on the dress, to keep the facings in place.
It's just a plain, sheath dress but that style works on me.
Here's the little jacket. You can't see all the fabric that is in the body of it but the hem is practically a half circle. Now I just have to decide on buttons. The pattern calls for four and I am okay with that but I am wondering if I should make covered buttons in this same fabric?
Next: PJs! And a robe. My last bathrobe was a long corduroy thing that I made to wear at university in -- wait for it -- 1975! Yeowsers. Since I will be travelling with my folks, I thought I should have at the ready, a robe, because you know there is going to be at least one time where I am going to have to wander around in the night. At home, I don't even bother with PJs, never mind a robe but this isn't home. What if there was a hotel fire or something? Anyway, I wanted fabric that was light weight and yet patterned so that you couldn't see through it. I got this polyester that folds up into a small bundle so I can keep the packing light. I am going to put the shiny, soft side in and the less attractive dull side out.
Here is my robe pattern - the very one I used in 1975! It cost $1.35. I'm thinking I won't even put pockets on it to make it as small as possible when folded up.
I used this PJ pattern a couple of years ago and made shorts and the B view top for a summer bike holiday. I am going to use just the pants (shorts) in the same "leopard" print as the robe.
And I am going to use my trusty, tried-and-true Vogue tank top pattern for the PJ top. It doesn't have facings - just bias strips around the neck and armholes. My goal here is to have something I can wear to bed at night that will cover me up and yet not be restrictive or too hot (I am hoping Florida will be warm!) and the matching robe in case it is a bit cool. All of which should pack up into as small a bundle as possible.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I'm back sewing linen

I would like to thank all my die-hard fans who keep checking this moribund blog and wishing me well in the comments. Not only am I not dead, I am doing great! But I have not been sewing since July and so I haven't blogged since then.
In July, I sewed up a cotton jacket and skirt outfit for my trip to California.
You can read all about the trip here if you like.
There is even a photo of me wearing that jacket (I paired it with a dark blue denim jean skirt that day) in this entry, meeting with a fellow dog blogger (not a sewing blogger, sorry!) that day.

Of course, I trailed off the end of that travel blog too, and have not written about our last three days in San Francisco, where I bought a couple of remnants at Britex Fabrics, a very cool store. I even became a fan of the store on Facebook, even though I may never get back to SF. But they have a fun "button du jour" on FB and as you may know, on FB, you can ignore whatever you like!
I was thinking I would make nice tops to go under jackets, with these silks. The gold on the left is a stiffer dupioni type silk and the print on the right is a soft, charmeuse silk.

In the meantime, I never finished that "gala dress" I was making. It just failed to inspire me in any way. But since I have my "rule" about not making a new thing until the current thing is finished, I stared at the unfinished bodice hanging on my dummy, week after week. I only went into my sewing room to iron shirts and darn socks. I tried my hand at writing some stories (I am still working on those). I decided I was not willing to go back and teach only 6 hours a week.

In November, one of my neighbours fell while running and broke both ankles, so I volunteered to walk her dog for her every night. Then another neighbour went in for a total knee replacement and I volunteered to walk her dog every morning. So I've been doing that. The one with the broken ankles has healed up nicely and she has taken over walking her dog again. The other has a younger dog and I am still walking him for exercise around the park. It gets me up in the morning, I get a little exercise and then Kathleen and I sit and have coffee and solve the world's problems.

Then, at Christmas, my parents announced that they were going to drive to Florida this year and stay for the month of February. They were going to just drive down and see where they would stay, once they got there. They are really good travellers but Dad is 81 this year and so I piped up, "What would you think if I went with you and shared the driving?" In fact, they seemed to brighten right up and said they thought that was a great idea. So I am going to Florida for a month!

When am I ever going to have this opportunity again? Maybe never, so I jumped at the chance. Some people might think I am a little crazy for wanting to spend an entire month with my folks but we get along great when they come to visit here and we are all pretty low maintenance. I told a girlfriend about it and she told me that she had gone to Spain some years ago, with her parents when they were in their 80s and she never regretted the memories that she made, especially now that they are gone.
So I decided I needed to make a travel dressing gown but first, I fished some linen out of my stash and I am making a dress and jacket. Not sure if I will take them to Florida, as linen wrinkles but I am halfway through them now, so there you go.
I am using Vogue 8146 for the first time. The jacket is similar to the other swing-back jacket I made out of linen here. It is also unlined. And the dress is virtually the same as a McCall's pattern (8017) that I used for years and years - just a shift with some darts.
I have this big hunk of very pale green linen and I had thought the print and it might go together but not really. They don't clash, but it's not a brilliant match.
Back here I also made a dark navy linen skirt and short, unlined jacket and I think I had in mind that all the pieces would mix and match. The embroidered linen is quite different in texture from the other three, lighter weight linens but I think I may be able to to some switching of skirts.
There is something about that swing, pleated back that I really like!
I decided to sew quite quickly, in spite of it being a new pattern. I am finishing some edges with a simple zigzag fold.
But I should have used pinking shears on the long edges of the dress. I am not going to flat fell those seams (so I can let them out or more hopefully, take them in, if my weight changes) so I have had to zigzag all down the edges to prevent raveling. I also decided not to line the dress, as it sort of defeats the purpose of linen being cool. I will probably wear a short half slip if I feel there is any possibility of seeing through the fabric.

So there! I am sort of caught up to date with you, my readers. I am sorry I haven't blogged in SO long and there'll be another dearth of blogging while I am away in February. And in case you are wondering, yes, my long--suffering husband has to stay home and earn a living. But I will email him and Skype when I get internet access so the time will pass pretty quickly I think. All the best to you-all!