Intense jeans making

Apparently the Mardi Gras parades started in earnest this weekend. I can’t say I noticed. I spent the whole weekend sewing instead.

As background, I’ve been following Lauren Taylor (lladybird) on Instagram and her blog since I heard her on some sewing podcast a while back. She cursed a lot, and I’m pretty sure that’s why I decided to follow her. Anyway, she has been teaching these jeans workshops for a few years, and every time she posted the yearly schedule I’d eagerly look for New Orleans and then would be sad when it wasn’t there. So imagine my excitement when I saw the 2022 schedule and New Orleans was on it! I immediately went to the Papermaple Studio site and signed up for the class.

Blah blah blah you don’t need to know my journey to this class but originally it was scheduled for next weekend, which for Mardi Gras reasons would have not worked well at all, so I’m very glad it was moved up a week.

Because it was amazing. I wish I could express how good I felt leaving the studio yesterday with a completed* pair of jeans. (Fine, I still need to hem them. Close enough.) Not just because I had a pair of pants (frankly, I don’t even wear jeans very often) but because I was around this amazing group of women, and I got to meet this sewist I’ve been following for so long, and who, frankly, I was a bit starstruck to meet. This was one of the first social things I’ve done in, well, a long time, and it was really healing to the damaged inner extrovert in me. I needed it.

So! Why should you take a jeans workshop from Lauren if you get the chance?

  1. You will learn so many little tips and tricks that not only apply to jeans sewing, but to all kinds of sewing. (For example, I learned why my top stitching has always been horrible in the past – my thread was too heavy!)
  2. You will make friends with other sewists. This is 20 hours of intense sewing over 2.5 days. You will be taking your pants off in front of them a lot. So you can’t really not be friends.
  3. You’ll come away with a pair of jeans that fit well (maybe not perfectly, but you’ll know how to make the next ones perfect!)

PS We made the Ginger jeans pattern from Closet Core Patterns. (I also had the option of making the Ames jeans from Cashmerette, but I was happy that the Ginger jeans did fit, which I didn’t expect, as they’re not designed for an extended size range. But stretchy denim is stretchy! Not that I would have minded making a plus-size pattern when everyone else was making “standard” sizes, but at least this way we were all using the same pattern pieces and the same seam allowances, etc.)

Some pictures from the weekend:

The studio where the class was held is tucked away in the French Quarter, and is run by the fantastic Leisa. I can’t say enough about her and the gorgeous space where the class was held. We even got a little private shopping with Cole from Promenade Fabrics. (I got a bunch of this red stretch twill that is destined to become a dress of some kind.)

If you can ever take a workshop from Leisa or at Papermaple, again, I can’t recommend it enough.

Now I guess you’re going to want to see my new jeans, huh? They’re very dark wash, so it’s hard to see the detail in a picture, but I’ll try.

Bar tacks! Belt loops! Top stitching! Pretty pocket lining! Rivets!

(I don’t really have a good picture of them on because I need to hem them and wash them so they shrink up a bit, but you get the idea.)

January, a recap

I kept meaning to post this month, but couldn’t really make myself do it (aside from the quilt post.) But now I am feeling more up to it.

Starting with my birthday, which I was kind of not excited about (which is VERY SAD because I love birthdays so much) because the weather was supposed to be gross, and omicron was in full force so we couldn’t go anywhere and I couldn’t do anything and I was just sad. And I was supposed to go visit Kiki, but thanks to omicron, we decided it was best to postpone it.

But it ended up being a lovely day! I did a live Peloton class (alas, no birthday shout-out but lots of high fives), the boys gave me cards they made that made me cry, and Oliver made me scrambled eggs. Then my friends Jen and Aimee came over and the weather was lovely and Jen brought me a bananas foster king cake and half a gallon of frozen margarita and we sat outside and gave ourselves diabetes but it was just so nice to sit and chat with friends.

George gave me a vacuum sealer to go with my sous vide he gave me for Christmas, and while it may not sound like the most romantic gift ever, it was very appreciated. I mean, who hasn’t always wanted a vacuum sealer? It is very fun. And Kiki gave me a subscription to NYT cooking and some fun goodies to open.

And I spent the day making a cake from scratch, then ordering a ton of Chinese food for dinner, and all in all, it was a lovely birthday.

Cards and cake and vacuum-sealed king cake!

Other notable things in January…

I got an new sewing machine! I am in love. It’s fairly basic, feature-wise (just a straight-stitch machine) but it’s so powerful and FAST and sews through multiple layers of canvas and denim like it’s NOTHING. And it was so nice to use when quilting the quilt I made for Kiki.

Hey, gorgeous!

Which brings me to the quilt I made for Kiki, that’s quilt number 3 if you’re counting. I wanted to send her comfort and coziness so I made it out of flannel. I wanted to do shades of blue, and kind of ombre, so I cut long strips and sewed them together into one big long roll, then cut them into roughly 70″ lengths, then sewed them together! Simple, but I like the way it turned out. Until I realized I really had to hand sew the binding because of the solid colors, and then I hated myself for making it so big, but you know what, Kiki’s worth it, and it only ended up taking a couple of evenings to finish up.

I just am not really into making clothes right now but I had fun making a few wristlets and a little pouch. It’s the Yarrow Wristlet pattern from Noodlehead. It was just challenging enough to be fun, but not, like, torturously hard.

Why yes, that is Schitt’s Creek fabric on the inside of the black and white one. As if I’d go a whole post without mentioning it! (Got it from Spoonflower.)

Oh, and the boys got their booster shots for the vaccine trial! Yay! That was a relief, because they also started back at soccer this week. Oh, and they took a test to maybe go to a different high school next year but I’m not quite ready to think about that just yet.

Boosted!

So yeah, that’s about it for January. I am supposedly going to visit Kiki in mid-March now. Next month I am going to a jeans-making workshop that I’m very excited about (despite what I said earlier about sewing clothes) and of course Mardi Gras is coming up, and the house float is going back up, and we might be adding to it, so hopefully everyone stays healthy and we can have a nice February! And March!

P.S. This is random but pork tenderloin cooked with a sous vide is revelatory.

Quilt number 2

After I made my first quilt, I thought I probably wouldn’t make another one for a while.

I lasted a whole month before I started a second one. But it was fine, it would be so easy, because it was just a baby quilt, for my friend Erica’s baby who is going to be born in a couple of months or so (or weeks, I don’t know, what is time?) A small quilt would be a piece of cake!

Well, it should have been.

One evening in early December, I drank some wine, then got an email from Spoonflower saying they were having a sale on fat quarters that ended THAT NIGHT so I started looking around, found some adorable pit bull-themed fabrics, and hit “order.” Easy peasy. (Erica has a beloved, adorable, goofy pit bull mix named Francis.)

Francis.

One print was pit bulls working out, because Erica and her husband like to work out. Another print was pit bulls and pizza because Erica likes pizza. Or, I mean, at least this one really yummy pizza place in NYC that she’s taken me to a couple of times. And another print was pit bulls in Philadelphia, because I remembered that Erica and her husband lived there. (Put a pin in that.)

The fabrics came, I got the rest of the fabrics I needed, I cut, I pinned, I sewed, and before too long, I had a quilt top.

Hooray! That was easy! I showed some friends.

And that was when I was reminded that Erica and her husband had bought a house in New Jersey. They no longer lived in Philly. They hadn’t lived in Philly for quite a while. I knew all about her house hunt. I knew she moved. In August 2020. So why did I order Philadelphia-themed fabric?! (I blame the wine.)

So. I went online and ordered a different pit bull fabric and painstakingly removed 11 of the 12 Philly-themed squares (gotta leave one) and while I was at it, decided to throw in a couple of other squares.

That’s better.

And then I finished it and hand-stitched the binding because that’s what you’re supposed to do and never has this tag been more appropriate.

And that’s it! I hope Erica’s sweet baby boy (and Francis, his canine big brother) enjoy snuggling with it.

And yes, I am working on quilt #3 now.

The making of the Moiras

When I was trying to figure out how to make my Moira costume, I couldn’t find any tutorials or any blog posts of people describing how they made theirs. I suspect mostly it was “find a white-ish sheet and go from there.” But no, Pam is not going to go that route. I think we know her better than that…

A while back, I bought several yards of off-white stretch crepe from Joann’s. (I think it’s what I linked to, I dunno. It was way cheaper than that but it might have been 60% off or something. Maybe it was this.) It was 60″ wide so I knew that it would be long enough (I’m 5’10”.) It was nice and opaque, and if Mardi Gras was going to be cold, it would be somewhat warm. (I was able to wear black joggers underneath and you couldn’t tell because yes it was friggin cold.)

I studied the costume very closely. I watched the episode and paused it and looked for as many photos on Instagram as possible. I knew it had a seam down the middle and it looked like some kind of welted openings for the sleeves. (Who knows if I am even using that terminology right?) But once I sewed up the middle and portions of the top, I was very happy with how it looked and draped, so I just went with it.

I really should be a pattern drafter. Look at that amazingness.

I did have to hem it a bit, which I did by just haphazardly chopping off a few inches. I mean, who’d notice?

Then I figured out where the gold chain went, and hand sewed that on.

The hat was a real pain in the ass, I’ll tell you. I had borrowed some accessories from my friend Marie, and in the end, after a mishap with a weird fabric tube and a cheap blonde wig, I just borrowed the hair tube bit from her Halloween costume and made a new hat.

(I had to laugh because she said “well, it was too big for my head so it kept slipping down” but it barely perched on my giant noggin.)

I traced the miter shape on posterboard, modge podged some of the dress fabric onto it, and then hot glued on the accessories. Once two of those were done, I glued them onto the hair tube. Or whatever you want to call it. Hair wreath? Bane of my existence?

Also I made a mask with some leftover pieces and gold thread.

The necklace was fun to figure out. I used leftover bits from the hat jewels and got a pendant and chains and findings from the craft stores, and combined them to try to mimic the shape of the real Moira’s necklace. I mean, better than nothing.

The final result:

Uncanny, I know.

I promise (?) this is the last post I’ll make about Mardi Gras 2021 but it was just such a fun experience that I’m not quite ready for it to end. I’m having major crafting withdrawal. What next?!?

(Oh, I guess I could write about how I sewed Jenn’s dress for her too, but it was a lot of draping, sewing, velcro, and an old strapless bra. Really proud of how that came out too. It would have been nice if the shower curtain had been shiny, but that probably would have been harder to sew.)

Lovely Jenn!

What’s up?

Same old, same old.

Lots and lots of work.

Sewing:

Made myself another Artists Box Top out of the Liberty lawn I bought in May. Cotton lawn is by far my favorite fabric in the world. So light but crisp and easy to sew and doesn’t wrinkle horribly. Perfect for summer. Also I’m rather proud of this one because I made my own facings instead of trying to use bias tape, which I’ve never been able to find a good tutorial for using it on a v-neck.

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I also made George another button down shirt for Father’s Day. I couldn’t find any more Doctor Who fabric, but I found this one covered in cocktails at a local sewing store. (I had to make an appointment to shop. I felt v important.)

And I made myself this Holyoke sundress from Cashmerette. The top ended up a little big, and I’m not super comfortable with my arms out like this, but I’ll get over it when the temp is 100. This one is made out of a linen/rayon blend.

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Baking:

Bagels that looked funky but tasted good.

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Dinner rolls that look and taste amazing.

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Beignets from scratch!

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The boys and I ate at a restaurant for the first time since March! We went to Tartine, which friends of our own. It was delightful and the food was delicious and nice to feel sorta normal.

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Premier League games started up again, so now it’s even harder to get the boys to focus on summer reading.

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And when they’re not watching soccer or avoiding reading, they’re playing Minecraft with their cousins, which warms my heart.

My cilantro is practically thriving.

And Ziggy is as ridiculously cute as ever. He got a new collar! And I got a lick to the face!

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Until next time….

Sewing project: Artist’s Box Top

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No, not that kind.

Last week, I saw a blog post with the Artist’s Box Top by Artist Made Patterns and I was intrigued. Usually, the thought of a boxy top is enough to send me screaming, but for some reason I wanted to give this one a try. So I did!

(A box top is, well, a top with little shaping. Like a box? There aren’t darts or anything like that. Usually just two pattern pieces. Front and back. So extremely easy to make, but also shapeless. In hopefully a good way.)

I made this one out of some Nani Iro cotton/hemp fabric that my friend Kristie gave me. I also have it in white! Dreamy.

I mean, I assume Google Translate isn’t lying to me about the fabric content.

Anyhoo. It was pretty straightforward to make, except maybe for the v-neck. You know, zippers don’t scare me and buttonholes are fine, but v-necks scare the crap out of me. The neck is bias bound, and there are lots of ways to tackle this. I opted for this tutorial from 100 Acts of Sewing, but I think next time I’m going to try another way. I had to tack down some of the binding at the V with hand stitching to keep it from showing. Not a big deal, but I feel like there must be a neater and easier way.

Here’s the finished product!

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See? Boxy. Also check out my cute bias tape. 😀

And on me: (can I say how much I LOVE my IKEA wardrobe with the mirrored door?)

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Better look at the V-neck:

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So now I should probably go back to sewing masks for a while. And then I’ll make the white one.

Top 5 sewing projects of 2019

For the first few months of the year, I didn’t do a ton of sewing for myself. I made a lot of Mardi Gras scarves for other people, so it kind of burned me out on sewing for a bit. Fortunately, it came back sometime in the spring.

My five favorite makes this year:

IKEA print Pona Jacket by Helen’s Closet

I can’t say enough good things about this. I get compliments every time I wear it. Lots of compliments. I was a little skeptical at first of using this IKEA upholstery fabric but it was the right call. Yet another great layering piece, and not at all hard to make. Read More

So much sewing

In spite of my lack of blogging, I’ve actually been sewing a lot lately. In between sewing costumes, I made Linus a Go To Jacket with a hood, but without a chin guard (it was too fiddly when I made Miles’s, so I decided it would be okay to go without. And it was.) He loves it, even though it’s inexplicably too big. I think because the fabric I got (a 97/3 cotton/lycra blend) was a lot stretchier. Miles’s was made of ponte and lined with a knit, so it definitely didn’t stretch as much. But I’m sure it’ll shrink and/or he will grow into it. 😀

Oh. And I have no idea where I went wrong with the pockets. This version had inseam pockets, but as far as I could tell, there was only one pocket piece, but I couldn’t find instructions on how to close the top. So I top stitched it to the front piece, which looks weird and I may re-do later. 🤔

Oh and I messed up one of the front pattern pieces but didn’t have enough fabric to cut it again so I re-cut the messed up bottom half, and then cut the other side in the same place to make it look “blocked” and on purpose instead of an accident.

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Anyway, it’s super cozy and he’s happy so win!

The other fun sewing project was making a dress out of the sequined fabric I bought a year and a half ago. This fabric is so dreamy that I couldn’t bear to cut into it. And also I was terrified of sewing with sequins. And also I wanted a pattern that would have relatively few seams and nothing fiddly. At first I was going to make a skirt but the thought of putting a zipper in made me back off. Then I remembered the pattern I’d bought for me and Kiki’s Arsenal dresses this summer – the 100 Acts of Sewing Dress #1. It’s basically a shapeless trapeze tank dress but only one pattern piece so perfect! Who’d be looking at me with that fabric anyway?

I decided to line it with pale pink satin, and basically I just made the dress twice. I attached the lining at the neck, where I used bias tape to finish the seams. And I finished the arm holes of the sequined dress with bias tape (but the satin dress was just serged in matching thread.)

It was a bit big, (obviously this was before I made my Ellis skirt) but it worked well enough. I don’t have any great pictures, but I got a lot of compliments on it and it was comfortable and easy.

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Pre-event, when I was still wearing heels

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Oh look, there I am. Looks like I should have paid more attention to the side seam. Oops.

So what’s coming up?

Well, I need to make my own Halloween costume, but it should be fairly easy. And I’d like to make another Blackwood Cardigan, and another York Pinafore, and maybe some joggers, and this jacket looks intriguing but I haven’t had a ton of luck with Seamwork patterns. I really want to make the Tillery skirt out of denim, maybe? Or corduroy? Possibly the canvas I got at IKEA? But then I saw the new skirt pattern from Grainline yesterday and I’m a bit starry eyed over that. But maybe I’ll save that for the spring. Maybe they’ll finally expand the sizing on the Farrow dress that I’ve been dying over. And I’ll reward them by purchasing two patterns.

Oh shoot! And I just forgot I got the new Tobin Sweater pattern from Cashmerette, and they threw in the Appleton for free! That said, I’m not really into the idea of a wrap dress for myself, but I might try making it as a top instead. So yeah, I’m gonna be busy. 😀

(Speaking of Cashmerette, the most exciting thing happened this morning – I opened an email newsletter AND THERE WAS MY BUTT! Normally, I wouldn’t be excited about seeing my butt anywhere, but I was very honored that the designer chose to feature my version of her skirt! YAY!)

I’ll finish off this post with a photo of my (very tiny) closet. I took everything out of it that I didn’t make. So yeah, this is all me-made. (Not all of it, either, by a long shot!)

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Sewing the Ellis skirt, take 2

Back in March, I made a test version of the Ellis skirt by Cashmerette. I had bought a kit from the designer with nice denim and all the accoutrements (rivets, button, topstitching thread, etc.) but I only got around to using that kit last week or so.

The problem is, I gained a bit of weight since March so I wanted to size up a tad. But long story short, I sized up too much. Why do I always do this? Plus, I didn’t seem to learn anything from the mistakes I made the first time. If I decide to make this skirt again, though, I know exactly what to do.

  1. SIZE DOWN.
  2. Sew the ding dang zipper closer to the center front seam! Don’t line up the edge of the zipper with the seam, but line up the zipper teeth.
  3. I realized that when the zipper is lined up the way I did, the waistband ends up being too short. So then I had to take apart the waistband and add more length to it.
  4. And then LATER when the waistband was too big, I had to take it apart and remove that length.

So, don’t look too closely is all I can say.

But in the end, it fits okay, not great, but well enough, and it looks like a denim skirt and I love the topstitching I did on the back pockets. 🇬🇧

Look! A weird picture of my butt! (I lightened it so you can see the stitching.)

Oh and the lining fabric went with my pocket theme…

(Like before, this is view A in the length of view B.)

Coming soon: More sewing posts, because I’ve been sewing a lot!

Sewing project: Akinori dress

I’ve made a few Wardrobe by Me patterns – notably I’ve made the Tropical shirt about fifty times (well, really more like five) for George and the boys but I’ve also made the Linea skirt twice, both times as gifts. So now it was my turn to make something for me!

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When I saw the Akinori pattern I loved it, but wasn’t sure it was for me. Mostly because of the waist tie. Pam doesn’t do belts. It’s one of my cardinal rules. (I also don’t tuck things in and I also don’t eat celery.) But if I didn’t do the tie, it would be too loose. And loose dresses, I have learned in time-consuming and expensive ways, don’t work well for my shape.

But…well, maybe I’d just give it a try. I didn’t have to wrap the tie around my waist twice. I could just tie it in the back.

Backing up…

I decided to use the linen print I bought last summer at Mill End in Portland. I wasn’t sure if it would be flowy enough, but what the heck. If I didn’t use this fabric now, it would be another year before I could, since summer was technically ending soonish. (I mean, not really, this is Louisiana, summer is year-round, but I like to pretend it’s cool in the fall and wear seasonally appropriate clothes.)

So I got to work sewing up the pattern. Pleats always confound me, but I figured it out (with a little help from the designer and other sewists in the Facebook group.) But then I got stuck again with the semi-circular front insert piece. It was tricky because it uses a sort of burrito method (which I used in the Tropical shirt as well) but I was okay with that.  It’s when I got to sewing around the front insert piece and it was just waaaay too big.

I asked for help, unpicked those pleats like fifteen times, tried easing the fabric around the circle, etc, etc, etc. Finally, I just said “screw it” and cut about 1/2″ from the insert pieces all the way around and sewed it up. I figured if things were off down the road I’d deal with them then.

Hooray! I made it work!

But it all worked out from there! Everything went smoothly! And I put in one of my new labels I got in Virginia.

I put it on and decided wrapping the tie around my waist twice added too much bulk to my (nonexistent) waist, so decided just to tie it once in the back. Much better! But now the ties were almost dragging on the ground. I wore the dress out last weekend and just tied a bow. Later, I cut about 18″ off each of the ties. May have to cut more off, we’ll see.

Also, the neckline is way too low for my comfort, so I need to tack it in place a bit. I used a safety pin when I wore it.

I made Terry take a picture of me at her house, so here you go!

Voila!

What’s that sound??!?!

The silence is deafening. There’s no sound of a soccer ball being kicked around the kitchen, banging into cabinets, making me cringe every time I hear it hit the dishwasher or the oven. I don’t hear YouTube videos about some soccer game or how to solve a Rubik’s cube or how to bake the perfect snickerdoodles. I don’t hear FIFA ’19 being played while an 11 year-old commentates in a bad British accent.

All I hear is the air conditioner, sometimes a car driving by, maybe Ziggy barking at a UPS truck.

It’s blissful, and it’s the only week of the summer I’m going to get this peace. The boys are at camp at Jean Lafitte National Park, and the best part is, it’s not far from George’s work, so he’s even driving them! Heaven.

The quiet is especially welcome because it’s been a busy week. Terry’s daughter’s quinceañera was Saturday night, and I was feverishly sewing shirts for the males in the house, and finished them just in time.

Here is a pic of the boys in their shirts:

And a family pic at the quinceañera, but you can’t see that the colors in their shirts perfectly coordinate with the Upton dress I made last summer. That was not even on purpose! A happy coincidence.

(No, I couldn’t get a picture of George not making a goofy face.)

A few more pics from that night:

So beautiful!

And then on Monday, Oliver and Miles were in the background of a tv show that’s coming up. We had to be at the zoo at 5:30am, which was not fun. Linus went to camp by himself that day.

Meanwhile, I can’t even really work out much because I have tendonitis in my right shoulder, which suuuucks. It means I can’t do more than half of the exercises at Orangetheory – no rowing, no upper body anything, nothing that requires a plank position, nothing that uses my shoulder. Blah. At least it’s not something worse. Shoulders scare me. But it means my arms are going to turn from fierce guns to blobs of goo.

On a happier note, in just two weeks, Kiki gets here and we start our road trip to Virginia! So exciting!