Sunday, June 24, 2012


Sometimes a project needs a little tweaking.  A few years ago I made a shirt for Mario that has gone almost unworn (as in once per summer, to humor me).

This may be because I think the fabric is fabulous and he does not.  I think it looks like Jackson Pollock in Space and he does not.

I jokingly asked if it would be better if I embroidered a rocket ship on it.

He said it would.

And could it be the rocket ship from Futurama?  

So I did.  I found a picture online, copied it and drew it onto some scrap fabric, and embroidered it in odd moments this weekend.  Then I cut out the ship, got him to put on the shirt and pinned the applique to the left front.   

I stitched it on with the machine, then added some final embroidery - the gun turret on top.

He likes it now.  Go figure.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Mojo Found

Let's all celebrate the return of my mojo, shall we?  It may not be a particularly auspicious return, but I'm sewing, and that's what matters.  And the world can always use more knit tops.

Part of my return to sewing is due to the fact that I got the AC installed in my workroom.  I don't use it except to cool the room so that it's bearable, but without it the room is truly unbearable - up to 20 degrees hotter than outside unbearable.  Even the cats don't want me to sew when it's like that.

Here's the patternreview for KS 3036:

Pattern Description: Misses' very close fitting pullover tops have short hemmed dolman sleeves. Views A, B and D have necklines finished with narrow hems. View A has round neckline, View B has scoop neckline, View C has cowl collar. View D has bias cut front and back with center front and back seams and boat neckline.

Pattern Sizing: KS sizes XS - XL. I made a medium because I didn't want it as close-fitting as they intended. This time.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes. KwikSew never has the most exciting line drawings, and actually their photography can be even worse. But this top has good bones, and that's really all you need to see.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Very. They're almost non-existent, but so are the seams in this top. Shoulders, sides, hems, done.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? My TNT top pattern is KS 3338, which I've probably made 15 times by now. I liked the cut-on sleeves on this top, and I also thought the cowl version would be useful in my wardrobe.

Fabric Used:  Blue/black/gray zigzag jersey picked up (I think) at Jomar in Philadelphia. Either Jomar or Kashi, but if it was Kashi, I probably would have gotten 2 yards.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I don't like necklines that are just hemmed. Maybe it's because I don't have a serger, but I think bands look neater, so that's what I did. Plus it gave me a chance to use the brightest zigzag for contrast. I did hems for the sleeves and the bottom, and I even remembered to dig out the Steam-a-Seam so I didn't have to fight to make the hems not ripply. Yay me! for taking the time to do a simple knit top right. (It still took no time at all).

I had some fun with the print on this top - I tried hard to match the stripes on all sides, but wasn't thinking about the fact that they zigzagged and so at times couldn't meet exactly without pulling the fabric out of alignment. It worked well enough, and I like how it came together at the shoulder.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I can see this one becoming a staple in my wardrobe. It's simple enough to show off a great print, of which I have (too) many, and it takes so little time that you can knock it out in an afternoon. I think I'm going to lengthen it next and make a simple dress from it.

Conclusion: I don't know why, but every so often, I need to be reminded that I love KwikSew. This reminded me.

On the homefront, I spent some time today trying to locate a new hen for the backyard and I think I've got one lined up.  The husband said I could have one, but after saying that, he said he'd have to clear it with his wife.  I haven't heard from her yet, but I have a few other ideas if this one doesn't pan out.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer in the City

Summer in Philadelphia is unpleasant more often than not.  It's hot, it's sticky, it's humid.  Most of the time it's all 3 together, and every place that isn't hot, sticky and humid is arctic-cold from AC, which makes it even harder to face outside.

Which leads me to this: it is easier to keep a chicken warm than cool.   Temps hit 100 today, without a whole lot of warning.  It was hot yesterday, but the girls coped okay.  They were both panting, but apparently chickens pant.  Go figure.

This a.m, I put ice in the chickens' water and set up shade around the coop.  It wasn't enough.  When I got home, Bonnie was fine (still panting), but Gilda was down.  She's been acting a little funky lately, not laying a lot, so I think there may have been more to her demise than just the heat.

I'm sorry she's dead, and I'll miss her pretty blue eggs, but the main thing I'm upset about is that Bonnie is an only chicken, and it's not good for them to fly solo.  So I need to find a friend for her.  There's enough illegal poultry in my neighborhood to make Frank Perdue turn over in his grave, I'm hoping I can find someone who's willing to give up a laying hen to the cause.

I am kind of surprised.  When I got them, I liked them but some part of me never warmed up to them as pets.  Which, given the circumstances, is a good thing.  As I've expanded the backyard garden into something resembling the backyard farm, and added the chickens, my library has expanded beyond fiction and sewing books.  I don't remember where I read it, but this line came back to me tonight as I lifted Gilda out of the coop, wrapped her in plastic and disposed of her.

"When you have livestock, you're eventually going to have deadstock."  It's not harsh, it's just the reality of the situation.

And I need another chicken.

And have I ever mentioned I'd like to get goats?  How would I conceal those in a 20x20 yard?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

False Start

The white linen top lied.

Mojo is still not present and accounted for.

I'm sewing, but it's just futzing with toddler dresses for the consignment shop.  Fun picking out fabric combinations but not "real" sewing (i.e., sewing for me).

But here are a couple of pretties from Patternreview Weekend.  Friday night after the Schiaparelli / Prada exhibit, after dinner, and after gelato, we passed the Carolina Herrera store.

Andrea nearly passed out on the sidewalk from general Carolina-Herrera-Fabulousness, but this is the dress that really got me.

I could live without the color - it's a little too old school Crayola sea green for my tastes - but I love the piecing.  Think it would actually be very pretty in two colors, say black and tan or  maybe red and black.  The piece that wraps around the front and down over the hip is interesting, and it seems like a great color blocking opportunity.

But that's me.  Carolina Herrera is a little more understated, and that's what's great about her.

I am not Carolina Herrera, in case you haven't noticed.

Odd weekend.  Went to a street festival on Friday night.  Good food, great music, catching up with a bunch of people I used to work with, way back in the mists of time.

Not surprisingly, the mists have aged them considerably.  It was surprising how much older they looked, and it wasn't until I was on the way home that I wondered what they thought when they saw me.

Off to stare at more fabric and not think about that any more.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Burdastyle 09-2011-128 Blouse

All hail the return of my wandering mojo.  I wouldn't call this what I felt like sewing, but it's what happened, and I'm pretty happy with it.

In other words, it's 90 degrees out there, and what's better than white linen?  Full review here.

Pattern Description: From the magazine: Clean chic at its best! This simple sleeveless blouse makes a good impression, thanks to fine details like forward shoulder seams and two pleats at the fronts.

Pattern Sizing: Burda sizes 36-44; I made a size 40, which is my usual deal in Burda with woven fabrics.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? More or less, especially since I made it in white. Were the instructions easy to follow? They're Burda instructions, which means even at their best, they're somewhat inscrutable. These could have been worse. They first have you make the pleats, press them and baste at the shoulder seam, then sew on the front facing and finish it, only basting it at the top. After that, you attach the outside collar band, then sew the inside collar band only at the top, fold the side edges and flip it in, stitching in the ditch to hide the seam. It encloses everything very neatly, and you just have to do it on faith, because the words don't make a heck of a lot of sense.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?  I'm not quite sure what I liked, but I still like it. This isn't my normal style, and sometimes when I sew outside my comfort zone, the result ends up being given to a friend or co-worker. This one, I think will actually stay with me. I like the shoulder pleats; they're a little strange, and very springy in linen, and they remind me somewhat of the illustrations in Japanese pattern books, except a lot less complicated. Does that make any sense?

 I really like how the pleats tuck up into the collar. It snugs up nicely at the neck.

Fabric Used: White 100% linen, pre-washed and dried on hot, so it's a little thicker than it started out, but also a lot less prone to wrinkle like tissues. I tend to abuse my linen this way to make it wear better. Glass buttons from stash.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: There wasn't a lot to change with this pattern; I cut about 2.5" off the hem (I'm 5' 3" and it was a little too tunic-length). I calculated the new length by whether or not I could sit on the tails; since I spend most of my day stuck in a cubicle, stuck in a chair, I didn't want to stand up and have an accordion behind me. I also tapered the side seams so that the blouse wasn't so boxy.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?  I don't know as I would sew it again, though I'm tempted to try it in a drapy fabric and see what happens to those pleats. I'd recommend it - it went together pretty quickly and it looks more complicated than it is.

Conclusion: My mojo took some unscheduled vacation this month and this is my first attempt at forcing it to come back. More or less successful, though of all the projects I had in mind, this wouldn't have been the one I would have chosen to work on.

In other news, Max is doing well, other than objecting to the sudden heat, but no more than the rest of us.  There are deflated furry bodies sprawled all over the house, under furniture, under ceiling fans, wherever they think they can catch a breeze.

I'm with them.  I'm not liking this August-in-June thing, not at all.  It's just as weird as June-in-February, but not as welcome.

The garden, however, is loving it.  The tomatoes are sprinting - they're already as tall as their cages, so obviously I need to find taller cages.  The beans are growing up the trellis, the lettuces are scorching, and every time I think I've adequately hilled the potatoes, they grow another 2".

The chickens are grumpy; Bonnie's still laying but Gilda's on strike again.  It's cold, she stops laying.  It's raining, she stops laying.  It's hot, guess what?  Well, guess what, Gilda?  I've got a crockpot and I'm not afraid to use it.  Think about that while you're not in the nest box.

That's all the news from the sewing room, the farmyard and the garden.  Work again tomorrow.  Seems like I was just there. . .

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Just a brief update for all of you who sent kind kitty wishes for Max's recovery.  So far, so good, and all fingers and paws are crossed.

Max is on a low dose of insulin twice a day, and his diet has changed.  He doesn't mind the new wet food, but getting him off the Purina Indoor isn't so easy.  Apparently it's kitty crack, and the new stuff, while healthy, just doesn't give him that same rush.  Either way, he gets his injection while he's snarfing down his wet food.

First couple of days he was still sluggish, but now he's learned that good food things happen in the small bathroom off the kitchen (otherwise known as Max's private dining room), and he's back to singing to his toys and knocking Mario out on the couch.  Last night was the first time he'd gotten up on the couch in over a week, and there was much celebration, followed by napping.

So right now, it looks like the news is good. Now if I could just report something as positive about my mojo . . . which appears to be ailing.