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.)

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.

My first quilt

I have made scores of clothing items, from easy things like pajama pants and t-shirts, to more complex pieces like dresses and a coat and a bathing suit. But I’ve always been particularly intimidated by the idea of making a quilt.

And then, a friend on Instagram let me know that Joann’s had Schitt’s Creek fabric, and, well, that was that. I didn’t need another Schitt’s Creek shirt or more masks so the only thing to do was tackle a quilt. Particularly since there were five different prints. I mean, what else was I going to do?

The middle five fabrics are from Joann’s and the ones on the ends are from Spoonflower.

I was scared of quilt making because it seemed so precise. At least with clothes you can fudge seam allowances (usually) and it’s ok if your lines aren’t straight. But I assumed with quilts if you were off by 1/128th of an inch, then you might as well burn the whole project in a fire.

Turns out, when you’re making a quilt for yourself, it really doesn’t matter if it’s perfectly square!

a lot of squares.

Also the whole batting and sandwiching and quilting and binding…was I going to have to outsource that? That sounded expensive, especially because I had no intention of making a small quilt. Oh no, I’d I was going to make it big enough to sleep with!

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And so I bought the fabric and consulted with my IG friend and got advice from someone at Joann’s and just went for it.

It ended up being about 73” wide and 100” long, which is a lot of 5” squares. I didn’t really plan my layout, just figured I’d make them random, but was trying not to put dark squares together or light squares together but by the time I was putting the strips together I ended up with identical fabric squares next to each other. So lesson learned – if you care, you have to plan ahead. (I didn’t really care.)

figuring out where to put what

I ended up using about 6 yards of the fabric from Joann’s and about a yard’s worth of scraps from fabric I’d gotten from Spoonflower. The backing fabric came from Joann’s (handy that I took up this project when the Black Friday sales were happening) and the binding fabric from a small, local fabric store.

I went through almost 1000 meters of gray thread and now I know why some sewing machines have giant bobbins. My sewing machines performed admirably, though I had to replace my walking foot, after it sprained its ankle or something. (that’s a sewing joke.)

quilting!

I decided to quilt it myself and while I maybe wish I hadn’t decided on parallel lines roughly an inch apart, I’m happy with how it looks now that it’s done. (90 total lines, 100 inches long each, that’s a lot!)

I didn’t think I’d be up for doing this again anytime soon but I think I would like to try a smaller quilt, and maybe, you know, plan the design ahead of time.

For now, I’ll cuddle on the sofa with this beast and watch Schitt’s Creek again for the one millionth time.

PS Soccer goals make good quilt display tools.

Making an outfit (accidentally)

In the past couple of months, I’ve made three items of clothing. It just so happens that they all kind of go together. Well enough to put them all in one blog post, anyway.

Item 1: Calder shorts by Cashmerette

This was the second pair of Calder shorts I’ve made. Because I’m shaped like a rectangle (no waist to speak of), the first pair I made was sized not exactly right (not really too small, but, well, okay, a tiny bit too small) so I wanted to try again, this time just maybe making some minor adjustments to the seam allowance. I didn’t want to go up a whole size, as that would be too much, and also I’m very lazy and wanted to use my existing pattern.

In the end, it worked out fine, maybe they’re a little too big, if anything, but no biggie. I definitely need to hem them a bit more though. If I have them pulled down to where my waist would be if I had a waist, they’re too long.

I made them with a cotton flannel from Joann’s. Shorts in flannel? Why yes. I live in Louisiana where winter shorts are totally a thing. (A thing I made up, maybe. I think these would work really well with tights.) I love this fabric – it’s super easy to sew and it comes in a million patterns and it’s soft and inexpensive. Oh, and I lined the pockets in some leftover supima cotton that they don’t seem to sell anymore but it’s so silky, I love it.

Item 2: Blackwood cardigan by Helen’s Closet

This is my second Blackwood cardigan – the first was appropriated by Linus. He likes to wear it around the house. I made this one out of some french terry I bought a while ago from some online store and have been sitting on (not literally.) I decided to put the loop side on the outside so it would be a darker red. (The “right” side is more white/red variegated.) I like the way it looks, but the loops do tend to catch on things and get snagged. Oh well, live and learn. I love the rainbow serger threads I bought, they make for a really fun inside view!

Item 3: Akita top by Seamwork

A couple of weeks before my friends and I went to the fake Rosebud Motel, I ordered some fun Schitt’s Creek-themed fabric from Spoonflower. I was going to make a skirt or something to wear when we went. Well, it didn’t come in time, and I decided I didn’t need another skirt. I wanted a shirt, and I remembered how much I like the Seamwork Akita. I’ve made it a few times but those don’t, uh, fit anymore. So now I have one that does! And I absolutely love the fabric.

It’s a really fun pattern to sew. If you have non-directional fabric, it’s just one pattern piece, but because mine is directional, I had to add a shoulder seam. No biggie. Then you bias bind all of the raw edges and sew up the sides. Super easy and I like the shape. I didn’t get any good pictures of the sleeves but you get the idea:

Well, you get the idea.

(Turns out this pattern isn’t on their site anymore. Not sure why!)

Well, turns out they all kind of work together – the red in the cardigan is the same as the red in the shirt, and, well, gray goes with everything. So there you go, I accidentally made a whole outfit!

Sewing project: Seamwork Camden

Apparently I’m really into sewing outerwear this year.

See, when I was planning to make a coat, I wanted to make it out of teal wool. But I couldn’t find any teal wool that wouldn’t have cost an absolute fortune. So I went ahead and made it out of a cotton flannel, and I love it! BUT THEN. I was perusing the Blackbird Fabrics website in September and LO AND BEHOLD they had teal wool coating fabric! It was even reasonably priced! (Thank you Canadian dollar.) So I ordered three meters and waited for it to arrive. I waited, and waited, and waited, and finally in mid-November, after an investigation from Canada post, the fabric store sent me a new bundle of wool. (They have amazing customer service and beautiful fabrics, I highly recommend shopping from them.)

(And then the other fabric showed up after two months! And I got to keep it!)

I still didn’t know what to do with it. I debated between making a lined Pona jacket and a cape. Why a cape? Who knows. Why not? I found the Seamwork Camden pattern and ultimately chose that. Then I had to wait to get it printed on large format paper because I was not about to stick together 60 sheets of letter size paper together.

Meanwhile, I went to Chateau Sew & Sew (my favorite local fabric store) and picked out the lining. I wanted something colorful and fun, and ultimately went with a geometric pattern.

And then…I sewed it up. I mean, it was pretty simple, really. No major roadblocks (shockingly). I did debate for a little while on doing bound buttonholes vs sewn buttonholes, but in the end, I went with the sewn. I used my grandmother’s buttonholer, which made really lovely buttonholes and how many times can I say “buttonhole”? BUTTONHOLE.

And here’s the finished project! (I noticed after I took the pictures that the top wasn’t laying flat, so then I took some more on the other side of the yard so you could see that it’s really fine.)

Sewing project: Chilton Trench

Work has been very busy lately, and it’s only going to get busier for the foreseeable future, so I decided to take this week off to get a bit of a mental break while I can. Of course, after I made the decision, hurricanes started barrelling towards us, which makes for a less than relaxing break, but we have been very fortunate with neither of the storms hitting New Orleans.

Anyway, since I knew I wasn’t going to spend my week off traveling (HA) I decided I needed to tackle a complicated sewing project. (I probably should have tackled cleaning my house, but that’s no fun.) Anyway, I’ve done a bathing suit, so not that. How about a coat? I’ve made the Pona jacket before, but it’s unlined. I mean a real winter(y I mean this is Louisiana after all) coat!

After looking at a million patterns, I decided on the Cashmerette Chilton Trench. I didn’t necessarily want a trench coat, but I couldn’t find any other patterns I like better so, why not? I knew the instructions would be excellent.

I really would have loved to make this out of wool or a wool blend with a luxurious satin lining, but in the end that would have been cost-prohibitive, considering the amount of fabric this coat requires. At least not for my first time out. And I couldn’t find what I really wanted anyway. So I decided to go with a plum herringbone cotton flannel from Joann’s. It’s a lot nicer than you might expect and only $10/yard (before the inevitable coupons.) And then I went with a dark teal matte satin for the inside. (Same price.) Once I bought the fabric, buttons, shoulderpads, and interfacing, I’d already spent $100, and it probably would have been double that for wool. Maybe next time!

I calculated I spent about 20 hours working on this (or four seasons of Schitt’s Creek.) About four hours cutting out pattern pieces and fabric, and then the rest sewing. And at least one of those hours was fretting over putting the sleeves in backwards (put one in upside down somehow at one point) and how to fix the hem/lining situation. (If I’m being honest, I’m still trying to figure that one out.)

Like I said, the instructions are very thorough and well-written, so just by taking it one step at at time, I was able to get through it. I have to thank David, Alexis, Moira, and Johnny for keeping me company throughout this journey.

And now pics!

Some various full length shots. Belted! Unbelted! Open! The back! With ill-advised purple shoes! And lots of loose threads I realize now I should have removed but oh well!

And now some detail shots like the pockets, the epaulettes, the chest shield (what?), the sleeve belts (trench coats are weird), and the beautiful lining. Love the colors here!

So now I just need the temp to drop at least 20 degrees so I can wear it. It won’t be warm enough on its own if the temp drops super low but that doesn’t happen very often anyway. And it’s roomy enough to layer underneath.

Bring on fall!

TGIF

Ha ha yeah right like day of the week matters.

Well, actually, work has been super busy (my team has been going through a lot of changes that started about a month ago) so I am grateful for a break this weekend. But I will be mostly sewing masks, like I did last weekend.

Speaking of masks, I made a tutorial for the kinds of masks I’ve been making. These are very no-frill. No filter pocket or anything. You just need fabric and ideally bias tape. Take a look.

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Since my evenings have mostly been devoted to mask-making, we haven’t been watching movies as much. However, we did watch Ocean’s 11 the other night, and the boys loved it. They want to watch Ocean’s 12 next. We also started watching Community since it was added to Netflix this week.

Oh, and the boys suckered me into a game of Monopoly which lasted until well after midnight and let’s just say they know better than to ask me to play again. (Not because I won, but because THE TEARS involved with this game. Ugh.)

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Lots of bread baking this week too. And I think pizza for dinner tonight.

I’m getting a Peloton delivered in a couple of weeks – not working out is doing a number on my mood. It means I’ll have to quit Orangetheory, probably, which is a bummer. Hopefully I can still swing a couple of classes a month. We’ll see. But I’m looking forward to being able to work out at home and not have to drive across town.

So I guess that’s about it for this week. Hope everyone is staying well!

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.

Goings on

I mean, nothing exciting. Same old, same old. Just like everyone else on earth, right?

Sigh.

Well, okay FINE I gave up again on my daily photo challenge. Not that I haven’t taken photos every day, but I keep getting so far behind, and no one needs to see boring pictures anyway. Blah. And I mean, since we’ll be at home for the next month, it’s gonna be even worse.

Anyway.

I had my day off with Miles last Monday. We had a great day. Walk to the coffee shop, breakfast at home, went to a park, lunch at a diner, and capped it off with an escape room, which we escaped from! So fun. And I got an email from LSMSA saying Miles had been awarded a scholarship to the summer camp! (Who knows if that will even happen?)

Crescent Park (you can almost see our house from there!)

Lunch and escape room

Oh and I never talked about everything Linus and I did.

We had coffee, and then shopped, and had lunch (steak!) and escaped from a room, and got froyo. Lovely day.

Poor Oliver was supposed to have his day on Friday, but their school closed on Thursday until April 13th at least. (Spring break starts on the 13th, so not sure if they’re going to roll into that, or pretend it was during the quarantine time.) But we’ll do it eventually. Hopefully during this school year.

The boys were at soccer practice when I got the email from their school about it closing the next day, and that was the last soccer practice for the forseeable future. Sad. But they’ve been playing outside plenty. Their new thing is playing basketball in their room with the “hoop” we fashioned out of a small cheap plastic soccer goal and plenty of duct tape.

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I mean, you gotta admire their inventiveness!

Tomorrow “school” starts for real – their teachers will start putting up assignments on Google Classroom for them to do.

Let’s see. I also made this cute clutch:

If you happen to have an appropriate zipper lying around, it’s a good, quick, satisfying project. And free! Here’s a link. I made it out of leftover denim, which I was glad to use up.

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pamchops.com!

Fundraising update: Well, the St. Baldrick’s event was supposed to be on March 29, but it looks like I’ll be growing my hair out for a bit longer than planned. Now it’s going to be (hopefully!) at the end of May. So I’m going to stop begging people for money for a while. But I mean, you certainly still can. My friend Hadley also set up a Color Street party to benefit my fundraiser, so you can also have fantastic nails while you’re at home. Honestly, it’s a great and easy pick-me-up anyway. I think I’ll put some on later today.

So. I guess that’s about all of the excitement for now. I have lots of sewing I can do, but I honestly don’t really feel like it. Argh!

Feeling very grateful to have a remote job right now, so I’d better get back to work!

(Oh, and I wrote this post about working remotely.)

02/13/2020

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I heard there was a Mardi Gras store that sold fabric. After I got over my disappointment in ALL OF MY FRIENDS who didn’t tell me this anytime in the past two years, I drove across town to behold the wonder that is this sparkly stuff. I bought a few yards of it, and it is being transformed into a dress to wear to the parades as we speak. It is not, however, meant to be apparel fabric, probably more suited for decorations, but who cares?! It’s Mardi Gras! So I also got green satin to line it, and sometime in the coming days, you’ll see what I’m making with it. It’s definitely fun!

PS While writing this, I realized I sewed my first clothing item two years ago today! That’s nuts! What a fantastic two years it has been. 🙂

02/12/2020

image_5823c68f-5e34-4e94-b288-d1326cd16f9d.img_4387Funny story: I washed this glittery fabric so I could make a skirt out of it (a Helen’s Closet Donovan skirt) and, well, okay, the boys’ uniforms were in the same load. Linus pulled his shirt out of the dryer and disgustedly asked me why his shirt was sparkly. I just shrugged and played dumb. Don’t tell him!

01/18/2020

Behold. My Lisbon fabric skirt. It’s the Linea skirt by Wardrobe by Me.

Location: TJ Maxx dressing room

I mean, sometimes you just gotta go with a pic from the TJ Maxx dressing room. What can I say?