A Weekend of Selfish Sewing

Somehow, I managed to have a mostly free weekend.

I don’t know how I did that, which is slightly annoying, as I’d like a repeat. Oh well.

At any rate, I found myself with a Friday workday that ended a bit earlier than usual, and no immediate plans for the evening and the following Saturday. I’ve been reading back through one of my favorite book series (Patricia Briggs’ Mercedes Thompson series), and originally thought I might spend a few hours lost in a book. However, as I came down through my workshop after work (I have to pass through it to get to my room), I decided a wee bit of tidying was in order.

First, I hunted down my niddy-noddy and skeined three different bobbins of yarn. The cleared bobbins went back into the bin, and the bin went back to the top of one of the shelving units. Then,  I put the random buttons back in their respective places, sorted through the thread spools (I have a couple of spools that are almost out of thread, so I think some of my projects coming up are going to have random colors used on the seams).

Pattern crates went back on the shelf, pre-cut fabric was bundled by project and moved to an empty storage bin, my table-side trash bin was emptied, and the cutting table was cleared.

That left plenty of space to cut out some more patterns — my least favorite thing to do, but something that helps when I get the urge to make something quickly.

I cut out a favorite skirt pattern (It has pockets!) from some fun teal fabric I bought on sale the last time I was at the Quilter’s Studio. Even though the fabric originally has the “stripes” going horizontally, I opted to have them fall vertically. Even though this is the third time I’ve made this pattern, I always have a difficult time remembering how to do the side zip. It’s particularly fiddly, because it falls right at the pocket.

[Also, it calls for a 7″ zipper, which is about 1″ too short of the space you actually need to cover, leaving a little bit of a gap between the top of the zipper and the waistband.]

I finished the skirt with a bias tape hem, using a burnt orange color that I normally wouldn’t have chosen, but which coordinated well with the pattern and color on the skirt. Hooray for bins of sewing supplies gifted from friends’ grandmothers/great aunts! In one evening, I had a brand summer wardrobe item.

[The pockets came in handy mid-Saturday, when I stepped out to the garden to pick some rosemary for dinner, and ended up also picked some lemon thyme, chamomile, a bell pepper, and three pints of sugar snap peas.]

Saturday, I went ahead and cut out two new-to-me patterns from the indie designer Cashmerette. The patterns are designed specifically for curvy women, which is a big difference from most designers, indie or Big 4. Even better, in addition to providing a nice range of sizes, the patterns also allow for further size customization, depending on your cup size.

Now, that might not seem huge to some folks, but when you are used to having to do math and geometry for a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA in sewing lingo), having a pattern that takes this into account for you is a HUGE time saver. If you’re still having a problem understanding what this means: Using the contents of one pattern envelope, I can cut a shirt for three different size 18s: one with a C cup, one who wears an F cup, and one who wears a G or an H.

Her pattern sizes allow for an H cup, y’all. Hallelujah!

I’ve got three Cashmerette patterns in my stash at the moment: the Appleton dress, the Concord t-shirt, and the Turner dress. Since I don’t generally purchase many knit fabrics on a whim, I only had enough on hand to make two of the three. The Turner dress uses less fabric than the Appleton, so I opted to cut out the Turner and the Concord.

First up was the Concord. I used an extremely lightweight sweater knit mystery material that I bought way back when I still had a G Street Fabrics nearby in Seven Corners. [let us pause for a moment, in memory of the wonders of G Street Fabrics] The fabric is rather “floaty” for a sweater knit. Yes, that’s a technical term. Okay, the technical term would probably be “unstable.” It stretches pretty easily when it’s cut, which made for a bit of a challenge when pinning and sewing.

Within an hour of cutting everything out, though, I had a brand new shirt! Which I then proceeded to wear to bed, and then to church in the morning, and out bowling on Sunday afternoon. Yes, I went to bed in my clothes and woke up and went about my day without changing out completely. What of it? Well, actually, I did technically change out of it briefly, to put a camisole on underneath before heading out in public. Like I said, the fabric is extremely lightweight, and you can kind of see through it. But it’s also ridiculously soft and comfortable, and the shirt held up well during church, lunch, and five games of bowling in a sweltering bowling alley whose AC broke earlier in the week. I didn’t have to tug the shirt down ONCE during all five games! I’d call that a success.

The Turner dress didn’t take long to cut out and make, either. In fact, it would have taken even less time if the fabric I had been using wasn’t misbehaving during the cutting portion of the project. For whatever reason, the cotton jersey I was using had really weird, jagged edges. I don’t know how, but the area that was supposed to be a selvedge edge was all ragged and choppy.

With everything cut out, the whole thing went together rather quickly. Zip, zip, ZIP! I hurried to my room to try it on (at 1am), and almost cried when it fit near perfect, right out of the envelope. This never happens, folks. I always have to make adjustments to patterns, whether to allow for my boobs, or my butt. Especially when I’m making a skirt pattern! I always have to either add length to the back piece, or subtract it from the front, in order for the hem to be even all the way around. Not the case with the Turner dress.

I ended up wearing the dress on Sunday, too. After we got home from bowling, I was extremely, grossly sweaty [note of advice: if you go bowling at the neighborhood lanes, and it feels like the AC isn’t working, it probably isn’t and you probably shouldn’t be wearing jeans], so I changed out of the Concord tee and into the Turner dress. It’s perfect for when I’m lounging on the couch, since it’s much more comfortable when you don’t have to sit like a “lady” and can just flop onto the cushions. The length is perfect.

So, pattern review for two of my three Cashmerette patterns: ROUSING SUCCESS! The only thing I think I might change is to lower the armsythe on the Turner the tiniest little bit. Other than that, I didn’t need to change a thing! I went with the curved hem for the Concord t-shirt, which meant spending a little more time on the curved hem facing, but I loved the length, and I loved the fit. I also opted for scoop neck and the 3/4 length sleeves, but without the option of the sleeve tab. (I’m not generally a fan of sleeve tabs)

The instructions were also incredibly easy to follow, though the construction for both pieces was also pretty straight-forward. I’m excited to see how the instructions and patterns hold up for the other styles…so excited, in fact, that I’m running up to Stitch on my lunch break to pick up a couple more Cashmerette patterns and some more knit fabrics.

That, in itself, should tell you how pleased I am with this designer.

Strike Up the Band (Collar)

I started working on a new shirt pattern a few weeks ago…V8759. It’s similar to the dress shirts I’ve been making for Robert, using V8889, only it’s got a regular front placket, instead of the covered placket (also called a fly front) that V8889 calls for.

[Side note: anytime Robert wears the green chambray version of V8889 to work, his co-workers remark about him being dressed up…despite chambray not really being something one things of as “dressy.” Also, for more information than you probably want on shirt plackets, check out this brief overview on Proper Cloth.]

Since it’s getting warmer — in theory, despite the 50-degree temps we’re still experiencing with regularity — I thought it would be a good idea to make a short-sleeved version. That, and I only purchased 2 yards of fabric with this shirt in mind. I probably could have moved things around to get everything cut out of what I had, but…I didn’t want to.

The main fabric is a beautiful yarn-dyed cotton in cobalt blue that I picked up from Stitch Sew Shop the other day. I had so much fun working with it that I’m pretty sure I’m going to swing back over there on a lunch break and pick up some more in different colors.

I had worked through the front pieces and stitched together the center and side back sections, and was just about to grab the back yoke when I realized…I had only cut one of that piece. This turned out to be a fortuitous oversight. I had enough of the blue cotton to cut out the missing piece, but I decided I wanted to do something a little different for the inside of the yoke.

I had purchased a constellation print fat quarter from Modern Domestic during one of my Portland trips last year. I didn’t have a specific plan for it when I picked it up. I just knew I liked it. Which, to be honest, defines more than half of what is in my stash. I had enough to cut the yoke, and still have enough fabric to cut a couple of strips on the bias, for binding.

The directions for this pattern call for using French seams, as opposed to the flat-felled seams of the dressier V8889. It’s been a while since I’ve used French seams, though I used to use them for everything (It’s just such an easy-ish way to finish seams when you don’t have a serger and don’t want to just zigzag the edges). I still think I might like the flat-felled seams for this pattern. Especially since the short sleeve will make it easier to stitch the flat-felled seam without the fear of catching the fabric, like when I sew the long-sleeved dress shirts.

I used the bias binding hem trick for this shirt, like I did on the green chambray shirt — you might remember that one had little velociraptors on it. I also cut two thinner bias strips, folded them in half lengthwise, and used them for an added little design pop on the sleeve hems. Sort of like piping, only not quite.

Robert requested a shirt with a band collar on it, which made constructing this shirt even easier. You don’t have to bother cutting out a different pattern piece…you just leave the top of the collar off and just use the collar band. Thus, getting a band collar. Simplicity!

A little peek of stars

I searched through my bins of vintage and random buttons and managed to find enough coordinating blue ones for the front of the shirt, and VOILA!

A new shirt.

I have to say, I really like the coordinating yoke lining and bias binding on the hem, and have already decided to make that a recurring design feature of Robert’s other shirts.

I’m also really pleased with the way the Vogue menswear patterns are

I told him he was allowed to smile for these.

working out so far. The directions for both V8889 and V8759 have been clear (with the exception of a wee bit of confusion on my part regarding the tower plackets for the long-sleeves on V8889), and I haven’t needed to do any adjustments to make the patterns work for Robert’s size. This is, honestly, a wonder to me, as the difference between Robert’s shoulder and waist measurements are pretty significant. If a ready-to-made shirt fits his shoulders, the rest of him is generally swimming in it. Not so with the Vogue patterns. They have fit perfectly, with no adjustments needed.That’s a nice plus.

I’ve already gone ahead and cut out two more of the same pattern, using similar yarn-dyed cotton in two different colors. I haven’t yet found a coordinating “fun” fat quarter for the inner yoke of the fourth shirt (which is a teal/white plaid), so that one is on hold at the moment, in terms of cutting.

By now, I’ve finished the second shirt (in a colorway called “Peacock”), and I am halfway finished with the third one. As you can see, Alvin decided to help.

Forest Bathing and Sermon Writing

Last Saturday, Robert and I headed out to Riverbend Park – he to break in his new kayak, and me to check out the bluebells and other assorted wildflowers. While there are a number of aspects to the festival – musicians, food trucks, puppet shows (puppet shows!), and talks on animals, plants, and “Terrific Turtles,” I spent all my time on a self-guided walk along the riverside trail, admiring the many wildflowers in terrific bloom.

[I was, I should note, avoiding working on my sermon for Easter morning. To be fair to myself, though, I had been trying to write the damn thing for a month and a half, so I thought a break was well deserved, and might even be helpful.]

Robert lent me his macro lens for the visit…which I didn’t really know how to use until we had a brief tutorial later that afternoon. I took a few pictures with the new lens, but mostly stayed with the other “zoom” lens Robert has let me borrow. [I’m not a knowledgeable photographer, just someone who fumbles about with her camera, so I can’t give you the same details about camera lenses and focal lengths, etc.]

These shots can not possibly convey how beautiful the flowers were along the trail. It was pretty amazing.

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While I hiked, I mentally drafted a small part of my Easter morning sermon. I won’t bore you with the whole thing, but I will let you know it was about grief:

We grew up with our father taking us to the “out of doors,” as he called it. Pointing out the different kinds of trees, identifying birds, teaching us which plants were safe to eat, which ones were often used for medicine, and which ones would give us rashes or could kill us if eaten. Every time I step foot in the woods, I think of my father. Which makes the woods a very difficult place to be. Because every rock, and flower, and tree and bird reminds me of him. It is harder to be there than anywhere else. And yet, at the same time, it is easier to be there than anywhere else.

[…] I don’t imagine Mary’s grief ever truly went away, despite having seen the risen Christ. I imagine she felt a part of it her whole life. Maybe it wasn’t ever as immediate as that morning, as she walked to the tomb, but it would still be there. Believing that someone is out of pain and “still around,” albeit not physically, doesn’t make their absence any easier, does it? There are still those moments when you stand in a field of bluebells, feeling their presence all around you, even as you are devastated that they aren’t there. The trick of it is, as Mary no doubt learned, to not let your desire to hold on to those people hold you back from the things you are called to do.”

There’s more, obviously. And it ended up being a lot happier and funnier than I originally worried [Seriously, I read it over again early Easter morning – when I still didn’t have an ending for it – and thought “folks are going to think this is a complete buzzkill for Easter morning”]. But that is what I wrote in the woods, and it helped just admitting how hard it is to go to the woods, and yet how much it is needed.

Through the Keyhole

Several weekends ago, the weather finally headed into an extended warm stretch. Saturday morning started off a little more overcast and breezy than I expected, but the clouds started to clear about 1pm, and the breeze, while still present, helped to cool down the warmer parts of the day.

Robert continued on the massive task he has set  himself — digging out the monster root system in a corner of the backyard — while I worked on building a new garden bed in the front of the house.

The gutter on one of the southern corners of the house leaks a little bit. It’s also not angled correctly, to allow for ideal drainage through the downspout. As a result, water tends to pour over the edge of the gutter in that spot, absolutely hammering the ground below. We’ve tried to grow things in that spot for a couple of seasons, but the water always has an adverse affect on whatever we plant. The fact that I couldn’t use perfectly good growing space was annoying, so I decided to try a new gardening technique this weekend.

A few years ago, my friend Matt (then the manager of the National Colonial Farm) revamped the space in the Museum Garden, showcasing different cultural approaches to gardening. He included a section in the middle that utilized a keyhole garden. It’s a form of raised bed gardening that makes use of compost and grey water, and is particularly useful in drought-prone regions of Africa and Texas. The raised beds help

The compost bin from Matt’s garden

with planting/weeding/harvesting, and the compost bin in the center helps to provide nutrients and moisture directly to the soil. I won’t have to water this garden as much as the ones in the back.

I have wanted to try my hand at a keyhole garden ever since Matt built that one back at Accokeek, and I figured this might be an opportunity to play a bit with the gutter problem.

The area where I wanted to build the keyhole garden already had part of a rock wall around it, from the original garden bed I built a few years ago. The original wall stretched a lot further across the front of the house. Knowing I wanted to build the walls up, rather than out, I relocated the rocks from further down the original bed, and used them to create a sort of oval shape, with a segment out of it to form the keyhole.

[Most keyhole gardens are circular…mine is less so, because of the area I am working with.]

I used an old tomato cage to mark out where I wanted to place the compost bin, and wrapped old straw mats (which have been in the basement for years without a defined purpose) around it. I used some hemp cord I had in my stash to lace the mats together, and held the structure in place with a few strategically placed sticks.

I debated whether to put landscape cloth down, and ultimately  decided against it. I

Here it just looks like a jumble of rocks. (and you can just barely see the corner Robert has been working on, in the back, past the other beds)

might come to regret that, as there are a few tenacious weeds and shrubs which have a tendency to come back, no matter how many times I try to dig them up, but I am using another method and hoping for the best.

After I built the walls up, I tossed down a layer of sticks from the brush pile, and

Looking down into the start of my compost bin

covered that layer with torn pieces of cardboard. You’ll want to make sure you remove any tape or glue, as it won’t break down in the dirt. I also threw some cardboard bits in the compost bin, to start the ball rolling there.

The new bed got four and a half bags of soil and a bag of mulch on Sunday, but I think I want to put  a little more on it. I’d really like to angle the dirt a little more than it is at the moment. Once the final load of dirt goes in, I’ll start planting. I plan to have a few flowers throughout the bed, but most of it will be a mix of radishes, carrots, cabbages, and the borage.

I did get a few things into the dirt over the weekend: a salad mix bed with red and green oak leaf lettuce, butterhead lettuce, and an heirloom Romaine known as Flashy Trout Back (let’s be honest…with a name like that, is it a surprise I picked it up?). I also got a few more strawberry plants, a rhubarb — which I’ve never grown before but am interested in attempting — a type of tomato known as Indigo Rose, and a large bell pepper variety known as Big Bertha. On the flower/succulent side, I picked up some more lobelia, and a new hen and chick to go in the top of the strawberry pot.

Robert drew up some plans last night for two more raised beds for the back of the house, like the ones he built last year. Last year’s beds worked out really well, and I think they add a lot to the house (plus, it’s one more thing that will help keep down the weeds that take over the back yard). One will be square, and the other will be the same size and shape as the other two beds. I’m thinking green beans will go in the long box, along with some kale, turnips, and more carrots. I want to try cucumbers and potatoes in the square bed.

And, in case you’re wondering what we’re going to do with that back corner, once Robert is finished tearing all the old roots out…I have plans.

Sometimes, You Fail

cutting out the lining

I’ve had Butterick 5951 in my “Ooo! I want this!” pattern pile for a little while now. Last weekend, I finally pulled it out of the envelope, pulled some fabric out of my stash, and got to work. I cut the bodice of View A and the skirt of View C and have been sewing on it over the past couple of days – a little bit here, a little bit there. Usually, I want to get through a project SO FAST! because I’m anxious to try it on and see how it fits. While I admit I still wanted to know how this pattern would look, I really wanted to take my time, enjoying the process, spending a little more time getting to know my sewing machine, etc.

I love a clean finish to the lining

I was also really enjoying little things like delicately slip-stitching the lining along the zipper tape, and fixing a slight mistake that occurred while I was cutting out the pieces. Sometimes, it’s nice to take your time and not hurriedly rush through a project, with a deadline hanging over your head.

When I cut out the front bodice pieces, I realized that the fabric was uneven along the bottom side, which meant one side of the bodice needed a little patch.

Last night, I wrapped up all the finishing except the final hem. I went to my room to slip it on and check the fit…

…and I hated it.

It was just wrong, wrong, wrong. The wrong style, the wrong fabric…everything was just wrong.

the patched bodice corner, from the wrong side.

And, while there are often things you can do to tweak a pattern and make it work, I honestly don’t think I could tweak the whole thing enough to make me happy with it. It’s just not-right-for-me overall.

Which is frustrating, when I’ve spent so much time on it, and was excited to see how it turned out. But that’s, unfortunately, part and parcel of any great sewing adventure. Sometimes, you fail. Sometimes, you do everything right and it still doesn’t work. Even after 20+ years of sewing, it still happens to me. And probably on a more regular basis than I would like.

Not to worry, though. I plan to take the pieces back apart and use the different components in other projects. The skirt gives me the most material to work with, and I already have an idea about how I’m going to use it.

[I should note…the lining for this dress was already salvaged from a different failed pattern experiment. Sometimes, you fail repeatedly.]

And they call the wind Bernina

That reference doesn’t really make much sense at all, but I needed a title for this post, and sometimes they just don’t come, and you end up with a stinker like that. Oh well.

A while back (much more than a year ::wince::), I helped my friend David move all of his grandmother’s things out of her old house. She had a lovely sewing collection – jars of vintage buttons, bins of vintage thread, a giant Tupperware full of binding and hem tape – and he was kind enough to pass on a number of those things to me. And, believe me, they have been getting a lot of use. I haven’t had to buy buttons for a project in some time, and I made a bunch of baby bibs last summer that each had a different color of binding.

One of the things that David included in that oh-so-kind giveaway was this little beauty.

That right there is a Bernina 1260.

Now, for those who might not know, Bernina is a really good sewing machine. I have heard it referred to as the Cadillac of sewing machines. Growing up, I always worked with Singer machines, which are not bad, but are a lot easier to find and get your hands on. For one, most of them don’t require financing, the way most Berninas do.

The Singer that Mom had purchased for me was humming along just fine at the time, so I wasn’t necessarily looking for a new machine. David was originally planning to take the Bernina home, himself, but at the end of the day, as we were packing up the last few things, he looked at the box and said “You know what? You sew a lot more than I do, and would probably get more use out of this than I would. Why don’t you take it?”

I asked him several times if he was absolutely sure. Like I said, Bernina is a good company. Even though the 1260 is an older machine (made in the 90s, I think, and believe me…it hurts to call anything from the 90s “older”), it is still a great, dependable machine. Plus, it’s made of metal, unlike pretty much everything made nowadays. It feels like a more permanent, steady, reliable machine because it’s not made out of plastic.

The machine and the accompanying sewing cabinet sat at the church for a little while, until I could finally clean out the basement area and set up space for it. Finally, I was able to move it in, set it up, plug it in, and hit the power button…only to have the light briefly flash and then die.

I figured it was probably a fuse, which was inconvenient. You can change those yourself, but it’s difficult to get in there and change everything out, and I wasn’t comfortable taking everything apart myself. So the machine sat on the table for a lot longer than I really want to admit, waiting for when I had the free time to pack everything up and cart it over to the shop.

Back in January, my office was closed for the Inauguration (one of the perks of being located in the DC metro area), and I knew the Quilt Patch was going to be open. I called ahead to make an appointment to drop off the Bernina, and was told the turn around was around two weeks.

Saturday morning, a little more than two weeks later, I headed back to the Quilt Patch. The machine is back, and everything is fixed. It turns out it wasn’t the fuse after all. The power supply had to be replaced. Since the machine is older, you can’t get a new part, but the repairman happened to have a rebuilt motherboard on hand. He then proceeded to tell me it was a real nice machine, with a smooth satin stitch, and that it was worth it to replace the broken part instead of getting a new machine.

Always something I like to hear.

The gummy bear council has deemed the machine worthy of use.

I switched my machines out (don’t worry, I still expect to get some use out of my old machine – especially since she’s much easier to cart around than the Bernina. The sewing table that David gave me is designed specifically for my “new” machine, with a nifty clear drop in that makes the sewing plate even with the rest of the surface, instead of the fabric having to shift up and over and back down the Singer’s plate.

Knowing I needed to jump into a project in order to know Bernadette (as I shall now call her) a little better, I busted out a pattern I had picked up a few months earlier, but hadn’t yet gotten around to.

I had been impressed by the design and instructions for the Comox trunks, by Thread Theory, so I picked up a few more of their patterns, to add to Robert’s handmade wardrobe. Since I’ve now made him two shirts, I thought I would try my hand at a pair of pants. The Jutland Pants were the obvious-to-me choice, as they are similar to the pants Robert already wears.

I showed him the pattern, and he was intrigued…but he had a request. He likes cargo pockets, but he prefers ones that are inset, much like a welt pocket, rather than the ones that have a flap on them. Could I make a pair like that? I think I probably can, but for the first run at the pattern, I’m going to move forward, just following the pattern as written. If the fit works, then I will attempt what he has requested with the second pair.

Finding suitable fabric to make a (hopefully) wearable muslin was a challenge of its own, largely owing to the fact that I was tired that day and really didn’t want to trudge out to the regular fabric store. Instead, I headed to Walmart, where I figured they would have some twill fabric. I did find a lovely, brushed twill in beige, but there was barely a yard on the bolt. I settled for some chocolate brown cotton canvas, and another, lighter tan twill that has a slightly slick feel (it’s supposed to cut down on wrinkles, and repel a little bit of water).

Knowing I only needed about half a yard of fabric for the waistband facing, pocket, and lining the cargo pocket flap, I dug around in my stash boxes at home. I pulled out a box of fabric that came from my grandmother’s house – some of them reclaimed from old dresses or shirts, and some of them, miraculously, several yards of uncut cotton prints. I opted for a dark green/black/ever-so-slightly-visible-pink plaid. i can’t remember exactly what it used to be, but I know I reclaimed it from a previous garment. I can still see some of the old stitch holes, and there were obviously darts in the original piece. I had just enough for all of the pieces I needed, with enough scraps left over that they can be used for quilt squares or other small projects.

[I love it when a new sewing project can have little bit of history in it, like this pair of pants.]

I had picked up some metal zippers when I was at Walmart, but I didn’t have any jeans buttons, and the zippers weren’t quite right, so I ended up swinging by Stitch later, during one of my lunch breaks. So convenient to have that shop around the corner from work!

Most of the construction for the pants breezed along pretty easily. The directions are incredibly detailed, with little blurbs about terminology for those who might be new to sewing. I thought that was a great touch, as many other patterns assume you are familiar with all sewing terms. That’s not generally the case, starting out. [I’ve been sewing for at least 25 years, and I’m still learning things.] The only section I had trouble with was the section focused on the zipper fly front. I read, re-read, re-re-read those instructions so many times! I’m still unsure whether I put the zipper shield on correctly, but the pants seem to work fine.

I loved the plaid lining for the flap….but the placement of the pockets didn’t work out and I ended up removing them all together

Mid-way through the construction, I had Robert try on one of the legs. I was worried about the fit at that time, as it looked like they might end up being too tight when everything was finished. Turns out, I shouldn’t have worried about that part. Robert had mentioned that his usual, store-bought 30s were starting to not fit right, so I cut the 32 size. It’s a little roomier than I think Robert really wants, so I think I will aim for a midway point between the two sizes when I cut out the next one. The knee patches need to be moved up about 4 inches, and the cargo pockets on the side were also situated too low. This should be solved by making a length adjustment to the pattern before cutting out the next pieces. I’m going to remove the pockets from the first wearable muslin, so they won’t look weird, but I’ve made some notes for the next version. Robert also requested I reinforce the corner of the right-hand front pocket, to allow for where his knife clips to his pocket.

The first stab at sewing up the Jutland pants took about 12 hours, spread over four days. [Keep in mind that I only had a few hours here and there to work on them.] That includes cutting out the pattern, the actual construction, and the final fitting/hems. I feel pretty confident that I could get that time cut down a fair bit, as I become more familiar with the pattern. Of course, working with welt pockets will probably slow me down considerably. I dislike sewing welt pockets, even if they end up looking nice.

Bernadette came through for me on this project. There were a couple of hiccups here

Robert’s initials, stitched onto the back pocket

and there – mostly when lint build-up affected the thread tension, or when I had to experiment to figure out how to position the needle to sew with the zipper foot, but the machine did all of the things I needed it to do. I was even able to add a little personalized touch to one of the back pockets. I think, with some extra practice, I’ll be able to do some great things with this machine.

Flax for Sam

[The title brings to mind the short story “Flowers for Algernon,” which just made me sad, and I’m kind of wishing I chose a different title, but nothing else popped into mind so I’ll just have to deal with it.]

Finished sweater, pre-blocking

I have finished my first sweater! Huzzah!

[Pattern: Flax, from Tin Can Knits. Yarn: Ice Road Trucker from Fiber ‘n Ice]

I sort of feel like I did everything possible to keep from finishing this dang thing. I made a mistake on the shoulders, but soldiered forward. I realized I needed to make the body longer, after I had already finished that and moved on to the sleeves, so I had to frog the original bottom band and re-knit. Then, I took out the original collar, because the white yarn was acrylic and felt a lot scratchier than the superwash wool I used for the main sweater.

[That last was the most nerve-wracking, as the rest of the sweater was perfectly fine, but could have all been undone if I messed up when picking up the stitches from the body and then taking out the old collar — resulting in at least a month of work down the drain.]

BUT!

It’s all finished! I’ve woven in the loose ends, closed up the small holes that form at the underarm of the raglan sleeves (that’s part of the actual pattern), and the sweater is currently blocking on one of my foam pads.

I’ll have a short reprieve before I start Joey’s sweater, simply because I have to wait until I find yarn at the end of April/beginning of May. Although my hands are happy to have a little break, my brain is super excited about getting to work on Joe’s sweater (and actually doing things right from start to finish).

[I also managed to set a whole bunch of skeins yesterday, as I was working from home. As you can see, I had a lot of things piling up on my to-be-set table. The small skeins are, largely, samples from the recent Fiber Farmer Market. So many pretties! I’m almost through spinning up all the samples — in between working on a big spin of alpaca and roving from Avalon Springs Farm.

Plus, here’s a picture of Alvin in his cat burrito. I had to take  him to the vet for a teeth cleaning, hence the teleworking. He did so well, the dental tech put stars and hearts on his file under the description for “how did the cat do?”]

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