Wednesday, October 29, 2014

As promised...

It's Wednesday, and I was able to spend some time with my sewing machine.

Everything's done on the outer coat, now to make the linings/facings and ... on!

I think I might fiddle with the shoulders a bit first, extend the shoulder pad a twink, but... that's totally not relevant, right?  ;)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Going Quickly

I sat and sewed all weekend...

All my padstitching is done, I just put the collar on the ham to be shaped (you steam it and leave it to dry).  The body of the coat has been completed, has likewise been steamed and shaped in the appropriate places.  
I had some fights with my princess seams, we've come to a draw.

I'm really surprised by how much time I had to sew and how far along I got - for reference, this is most of the work, unless the sleeves make me cry.  

But tomorrow I'll be cleaning house and Tuesday I have an appt to clean out BFF's long-stored clothing with her, so you'll have to be patient!  :)

See you in the funny papers!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Why an overcoat?

Why are you making an overcoat?

I'm making an overcoat because...

1) I don't have one.  I don't have a coat, unless you were talking about the trench I scored a few years back that is two sizes too big for me?  No?  Then I don't have a coat.

2) Wait.  You don't have a coat?  But I guess... you live in SoCal, you don't  need a coat.  Sure, I don't need a coat... mostly.  I mean.  I might need one a few days, maybe a few weeks out of the year - if that. Unless I want to leave the area between October and April, of course.   In which case, probably my hoodie won't hook me up.  (There is nothing that drives me more bonkers than seeing kids dropped off to school in driving rain wearing cotton hoodies without so much as an umbrella... )

3) You could make a whimsical coat.  Or a cheap coat.  Or ... well, why so classic, why are you messing with the hand tailoring, why put so much time and effort and cash in?  Because I'm planning to have this coat for at least a decade, if not more.  Even if (please!) I lose a ton of weight, I can take this coat in... and since it fits my proportions, that might not matter if I wear a really fluffy sweater or two underneath.

4)  All the other girls have one.  Yeah.  I'll 'fess up.  Part of why is the simple joy of taking on a big challenge and making something impressive.  An overcoat can be made amazing if you choose your own lining and details.  And I'd NEVER spend the kind of cash on myself that a coat like this would cost if I bought it.  (Frankly I'd probably balk at spending the amount of money I've spent just on supplies).

5)  Fit.  Something like this ... fit properly... to me... yeah, that's a big deal.

So.  I spent an hour doing hand-tailoring today.   It was soothing ... and frustrating, because I looked up and said, "I've spent that long and I only have this to show?"  But that's okay.  Hair canvas has a certain gravitas.
I just felt chatty tonight... winding down before bed.  :)

Chicken broth in the crockpot

If I buy organic chicken, I save the bones for broth.  But it's been too hot to make broth on the stove... so I put this in the crockpot and left it.  Worked well - and I got a much longer simmer than I'd get on the stove, which means more lovely minerals in the soup for us!  (More than one soup, I thin it down and flavor it).


Take your chicken carcasses, a head of garlic (take the root off), some bay leaves, a bit of pepper - and I threw in some tarragon.  All dry spices, this is gonna boil and boil and boil some more.  Throw all in a crockpot.  Add water until mostly covered.  Lid up, turn on low.

Leave it for a while.  This one went 24 hours.  Love a crockpot, yes I do.  Going to use this with beef bones, yes I am.

Strain the broth out, keep the bits.

Put the broth in the fridge, this will separate the fat easily.  You can keep it if you want, it's organic, right?

Fish the bits of meat out of the strained bits, refrigerate.

Then make your soup.  :)  I'm going to put a bit of kale, some wild rice mix, mushrooms, celery, carrot and onion in mine.   Later.  ;)

Nothing to show on the coat for a while.  Spent three hours yday finishing the hand work on the other five buttonholes and putting the hair cloth on the back of one of the fronts.  Will put the second piece of hair canvas on the second front today.  Yes, I could use fusible interfacing, but hair canvas has more presence.   Anyway I want to play with the shaping a bit with the collar.  It's fun to shape the cloth with your stitches.  Feels a bit magical.  Stitches and steam, you'd be amazed what you can do with wool with stitches and steam.

This is fun but really, you can see a pattern piece covered with Z shaped stitches.  Not too exciting.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Bound Buttonholes

I don't work with wool often.

I don't make many tailored garments.

Jackets?  Um.  No, not really.

Thus, I've done three sets of bound buttonholes.  One for my green jacket a la Gertie, one for the red, and one for the ivory linen bolero (which I totally flubbed).

None of my experiences was anything like "fun" or "easy" - and that last set of bound buttonholes *almost* had me committing to hand-worked buttonholes for my coat.  Only DH (and my admitted lack of ability in handsewing) convinced me to give it another go.

I think it's totally unfair that something that makes or breaks your garments *entire* look - the whole, "does this look professional, or does this look homemade" is 1) do it right the first time or else 2) done on the first step.  I've not even gotten to know my coat yet, why do I have to play with fire?  -sigh-

So, I pulled out the books.  I have three good "how to sew" books.  A couture sewing book, the Vogue sewing book, and an old 60s era home-sewing book (which takes for granted an amazingly high level of skill).  Vogue proved the winner... bigtime.  Another resource was my incessant reading of blogs - I was reading over at Lilacs and Lace, and the bound buttonhole queen was discussing how she does hers and I saw ... I saw... THREAD TRACING.

Thread tracing and machine basting the heck out of *everything* has made all the difference (well, with the Vogue instructions) and I think, I *think* I might have beaten the bound buttonhole at long last.  We'll see... I have the handstitching phase to do on five more!

Fun with blogging.  Maeve was full of all kinds of good advice about buttons, so of course I needed to take a picture of the buttons I'd safetypinned to my jacket to decide on placement.  And then I decided, "hm.  This won't do - I need to put the lapel and collar on or she won't get the full effect".  Whereupon I found out that my top button needed to come down and in - it was hidden under the lapel!

So I'm really pleased that I took that picture... well, this picture... (before and after).  Thanks, God!

Lots of measuring and fiddling today.  I dunno, but I think this just might go pretty quickly, now that I've started at all.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Finally. We have a stack of bits.

First I'd like to say that I am super grateful to all the time I have spent crying and moaning and learning to alter patterns.  When it came time to making my sleeve a two-piece sleeve, which I've never done before, and the instructions said, "cut here and..." it was a breeze.  I think a craftsperson is allowed to enjoy their skill, and that moment pleased me.

Second.  Well, I got it done!  Having done the pattern changes to the outer coat previously, today I started by making the changes to the lining and facing bits of the coat, truing up any odd bits, and making sure my pattern pieces were perfect and ready to go.

Jo wanted to know if I was super nervous.  Yes, at first I was.  Lots of tension, especially while I was making the changes to the lining bits.  But then... well, I've made how many muslins of this coat?  I was ready.  (Still stressful, you know how it is - you have to get everything just right before you cut... for every single layout).

I keep calling this (and occasionally other patterns) "fabric pigs".  Today I took a picture of what a "fabric pig" looks like in the wild... (I used the blank space for collars and such, it wasn't wasted, but there is a big pile of triangles on the floor of my cutting area right now - I'll have to sort it out later and see what's usable and what not).

Thought you guys would like to see the lining, because it's awesome.  Also, fabric pigs sometimes have to be cut on the flat instead of folded over and doubled.  Blergh.

I cut haircloth too, which you can see in this picture, of my big pile of done!  (The lining is the stuff with the weird stripes on the back, the haircloth is the beige-y grey stuff).

So.  That was most of my day, along with a haircut for 10yo, grocery shopping and the normal stuff.  There's a hot bath in my future!

Hope you're having fun.................

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sleeves for Maeve

Thanks for pestering me to make the sleeves better, Maeve.

I actually *used* some of the tricks I know... and I ended up with a sleeve that I knew fit as soon as I put it on (well away from any mirrors).

I was trying to put in an elbow dart, which looked odd... but ended up taking a tuck out at the elbow (instead of taking the extra length out at the wrist).  That helped enormously.  And then I made it into a two-piece sleeve  - which allows for better fitting and a button detail at the cuff.

Adjusted the shoulder to the bit I'd already done, only properly... and I have a sleeve that inserted without gathers.  This bodes well for the final run and a smooth sleeve cap (a puckered cap is a tell-tale sign of homemade goods).

I need to take out the extra inch I'd put in on the front, it's too much.  Then *one* row of three buttons down, for a slightly asymmetrical line (always flattering on me - I drape my belts at that line) and some hem/cuff detailing and we're GTG.

In other words, I think I might cut fabric tomorrow.


Ignore the slight flop at the top of the shoulder, I'm not wearing a sleeved garment underneath.  I'm pretty sure that will fill in nicely with a sweater, which we will all assume I'd be wearing underneath an overcoat.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Sleeves on the muslin

I got my final muslin put together.  I put an extra 1/2" on the already 1" extra on the shoulders, which was too much, so then I took it off.

I'm wondering about the scale of the collar here - seems a bit small (remember the seam allowances.  Seems about right as it is - I think I"ll add some width).  Not sure what's going on with the back collar - I've got a nice "roll line" going - and I'm not sure I want to have quite that much roll line quite this early in the game.  Must look at instructions and pictures on envelope *carefully*.

Anyway.  Got it finished, took some pix.  Put it on Dolly, and am going to leave it there to marinate for a bit while I put some more work into the peasant blouse.  Working the neck embroidery now.

Pix - please feel free to complain about the fit, I'd rather have a word of caution now than be less than satisfied when all is said and done.

Definitely buttons have to happen... now, should there be a belt too?  (This pattern is a fabric pig, but I have a LOT of fabric, a belt would be easily gotten).

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Peasant Blouse

This is the blouse I"m experimenting with, to see what my heirloom machine will do, and to see what I can run up that might be salable for the prices I'd ask...

I made the sleeves, then assembled the body of the chemise/peasant blouse.  Next up is the embroidery around the neck to keep it gathered, and then ???? We'll have to see.

Just thought you'd enjoy.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Why do these clothing posts take so long?

1)  Nibbled to death by ducks

2)  Fitting

We've talked about #2 before, right?  I don't fit anything out of the package.

I took my muslin to my ASG meeting on Saturday for constructive criticism.  The ladies there told me I needed to give myself a bit more ease in my back/side princess seams, widen my shoulders by a good inch (!!) and drop the armscye a bit.  (Glory be, it was too high - almost never happens).

Spent some time this afternoon making what are hopefully the last changes to my main pattern pieces.

A couple of pictures of my poor slashed, spread, taped and abused pattern for your amusement.

I'm hoping that the next muslin will be the last muslin - I am making it full length and will thread-trace the hems, and will also cut the collar to make sure it matches up and is in proportion to my figure.  (If I'm making a custom garment and going to all this trouble, there's little point in not checking that sort of thing - I'm 5'2" so there might be adjustments.  Might not.  But there's only one way to tell!

Someone remind me to buy surgical tape.  Regular tape doesn't iron... and I'm out of papertape.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Nibbled to death by ducks

SuperSlavisWife and Elspeth challenged me to do a week in the life of me.  (Here: if you want it).

I only put the thing up over at HHH because I wanted to make it easier to have a convo.  Usually householdy stuff is here.

What's interesting is the various fallout.

1) I tried really hard to impress imaginary people and stressed myself out.  "What's the next task, can't let the side down!"

2) I noticed that my theoretical schedule and my real life weren't meshing well.  That's useful, and I need to look at that more closely.  It's very very easy to devalue the things I hold dearest to take care of the ducks that nibble and/or things that I think make me look like a better person.

It's tricky for me.  I am a person whose energy-source is time spent in nature, alone... and whose deepest desire is to work creatively.  And on paper I value those things, but emotionally, I feel like the time I spend on "me" is essentially selfish time - it's hard to devote myself to that time without feeling like I'm leaving things undone.  (And I need to watch my phone time - I can't sew on the phone, though I can clean up a storm.... at some point I need to say, "enough!" and put down the duster and start running my sewing machine).

But then a week or two goes by and I hardly touch my machine, I don't get out in nature, and I feel blobby.  I'm not Candy... I don't actually *like* cleaning.  I clean because it needs to be done, and I can do it on autopilot.  And I value an orderly and beautiful space.  Can't have flowers on the dining room table if you can't find the dining room table under the debris!  

Well, BB said you needed a priority list, and I think it's time to think that out a bit.... perhaps I'll do that over at HHH.  I do my best thinking while "talking", after all!  :D

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Pretty Things

Elspeth was talking about learning to crochet and how good it is to make pretty things after a hard day maintaining order amidst chaos.

Yes, yes, a million times yes.  This used to be the old way of doing things, and as I (admittedly) sit here behind my computer screen ... I mourn the restful evenings with a pretty bit of thread in hand.

For you, dear friend:

My grandma made doilies after her hard days as a farm wife.  For heaven's sakes, don't be insane like yours truly and try to start teaching yourself to crochet here.  (Yes, I did.  Really.  See:  Why I don't know how to crochet).   This is one of a pair, it's meant to be starched up in a ruffle (there goes a couple of hours of work, just with the starching) and put under a lamp.

I remember my other grandma sitting in her easy chair, chilling out with Grandpa while he watched sports on TV, working some cross-stitch or needlepoint.  I have rugs that she made in those evenings, and a lovely Christmas tablecloth covered with poinsettias.

If you've got the eyesight sufficient to see across a few thousand miles, you can catch my husband working in the garage on something fiddly after a long day at work.  It's *satisfying*.

Creation, beauty - it's not always 'work'.  Sometimes it's just being part of making the world a nicer place.

Ping (but it doesn't work on blogspot):

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Quick Recipe Post: Tsardust Sriracha Jicama Slaw

Maeve inspired me to play with some jicama slaw ... do some things other than just cabbage.   I just got out of the kitchen, this is AMAZING.  Can't want to nom it up at dinner time.  Must write it down, so I don't forget what I did!  (Sorry, Maeve - it has nutmeg in the Tsardust spice... but you could eliminate that no prob).


4 carrots, peeled
1 jicama root
2 large honeycrisp apples
Tsardust Seasoning (Penzeys - they sent it to me as a free inclusion with my last order) (about 1 tsp)
Sriracha Sauce (about 2tbsp)
Mayonnaise (about a cup)
3 small but juicy oranges, juiced (probably about 1/2 cup)
Salt and black pepper (just a tad)

Grate the jicama, carrots and apples into a big bowl. In a little bowl, mix up the mayo, orange juice, sriracha sauce.  Whisk until smooth and you like the flavor combo.  Pour liquid over veggies, stir well.  Add dry spices until you're happy.  Stir well.  Refrigerate, serve.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Embroidered Sleeves

What?  Where has Hearthie been?  And why isn't this post about her coat?

Well, Hearth has been insanely busy helping move her BFF in four doors up, and doing life stuff.

The coat, which fit so nicely without sleeves, didn't fit very well WITH sleeves.  So I'm going to make some modifications and take it to my ASG meeting next week.  I really want to get the fit solidly nailed - and it's not.  It fits well so long as I don't try to lift my arms.  Oops.  I don't make too many sleeved garments (you've noticed?) living in SoCal, so ... um... yeah.  I need input.

But there's a project I've had my eyes on for some time.  I've been wanting to make beautiful chemises for sale on Etsy.  I'm hoping to get my skills up to making nightgowns for trousseaux - delicate and fragile and covered with embroidery, ribbons and lace.  Well - I'll get there.  But I also love a good peasant blouse/chemise.  Either for everyday or for Ren or costume or as a nightgown.

My machine will do an amazing number of  stitches that look like heirloom embroidery ... at least the straight stuff, lol.  So.  Practice.

I started work on my first highly-embroidered piece today.  Pintucks (though I decided to turn them inside after looking at them), a ribbon, four colors of thread... yep, I had fun.  It took me the afternoon to just make one sleeve.  Which is okay.  I never wanted to make anything mass-produced.  Art pieces all the way, baby.

Would you like to see it?  I'm pretty pleased.

Now - to make a matching sleeve, then sew up the rest of the blouse and attack *that* with embroidery too!  Muauahahaha!!!