Saturday, January 28, 2023

Baker Boy Cap 2.0

 So, while I was fairly pleased with the first pass at the baker boy cap, it felt a little bit on the poufy side.  So I altered the pattern by shortening the cap pieces by about an inch and a half  (rechecking the pattern when I cut out the blue hat later...I marked the pattern to shorten it, but somehow failed to actually do that....) and shaving a wee bit off of the 'hip' curves.  I also reshaped the brim a bit, based on a cap I have that fits...the first brim was just sort of copied; this one I actually rubbed the shape on the paper.

But I was not quite ready to cut into my good fabric and decided to do one more test.  Hunted around and found a bit of fabric that had come to me in a bag of fabric from my aunt, who was a fairly accomplished seamstress back in the day.  There was a bit of a tweedy wool in the bag...not even enough to call a remnant, just scraps, really.  But it was a really pretty taupe...greys, browns, a bit of blue...and there was enough for the cap.

I think I like the tweaked version a little better; even if it's just slightly less bumpy, the brim is a much better shape.


So now I think I'm ready to  make the actual wardrobe hat, although I think I will wear this one quite a bit too. 

Now I just have to decide if I'm only going to use the stripes of the double sided fabric...or if I will alternate sections between stripes and the solid reverse.

Decisions, decisions...

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Ready For a Little Nostalgia?

 I am in a Discord sewing chat group and the discussion has turned to SWAP...I mean, this is the time of year when SWAP discussions would be going.  Had there been a SWAP this year, it would have been the 20th.    But Stitcher's Guild has disappeared into the internet void and, barring its resurrection on some other site, the book has closed on SWAP as well.

That made me rather nostalgic, so I decided to go trawling through the photo archives and see if I can do a little reminiscing about Wardrobes of Years Gone By.  

Warning...this is likely going to be a LONG post.  Grab a cuppa if you want to join me on my stroll

SWAP is the acronym for Sew With A Plan.  It was based on an article in Australian Stiches, and the original concept was to plan out 11 projects...patterns, fabric, etc, and assemble all the needed notions; I think the garments were all to be cut out and the whole lot in two weekends.  It was to create a new capsule wardrobe in a short time.  The basic plan was to select a print and make a skirt and top out of the print, then select colors from the print for the rest of the wardrobe. Two pairs of pants, two skirts, six tops and a jacket...from the print and two (or maybe three) solid colors that were in the print.  The skirt and top together would work as a dress, and all the other pieces could be mixed and matched.

In 2003, this concept was much discussed on the also defunct Sewing World discussion board, and then-fabric-retailer Julie Timmel came up with the idea for the SWAP competition.  We had from Dec. 26,  2003 to March 31, 2004 (I think...that sounds right) to sew up an 11 piece SWAP wardrobe.

I tried that first year, but we had an Easter production at church that year that put the crunch on my time.  Plus, I had problems finding a print for the required skirt/top combo.  I ended up using a poly crepe...that was printed crooked...on a Dos de Tejas pattern that I'd never used before.  Anyway, I wrestled with that thing and recut it and...I *think* I finished all the pieces, but well after the deadline, and I don't have a batch of pics for that year.   I can't even tell, looking at my folder of sewing photos from 2004, which of the red/ white or blue garments I meant for the SWAP...but here's the much-hacked two piece dress...which, having no pockets in the skirt, only got worn a couple of times.

In 2005 I decided I needed to pick the print FIRST, instead of deciding on the colors and then picking the print.  I found a wild lime green/ royal blue/ brown/black challis print at the now-defunct Hancock's (there is definitely a theme here) and for whatever reason decided THAT would be the basis for my Wardrobe.  And, believe it or not, I actually finished on time and took pics.

That was before I started blogging, so no real discussions about it.  I wore several pieces till they were not wearable, had a couple that I, um, outgrew, but the brown/black pieces are still in the wardrobe and still get worn when I feel kinda arsty fartsy funky.  My Sweet Babboo was terribly unhappy with me for hanging the garments on the venetian blinds...  That, to me, only sort of met the brief because I coudn't wear the funky black/brown top under the jacket.  But I did have lots of options, especially with the twinset, which counted as one top (there is a top under the cardigan in the picture).

2006 the rules changed and we no longer had to use a single print for a skirt and top...we just had to have garment that had a pattern to it of some sort, but we still had to have 6 tops, 4 bottoms and a jacket. I picked a tweedy blue/gray boucle for my print element and used it as the jacket.

I'm looking at that now and thinking...I made ANOTHER blue twinset?  I'll be honest, I am totally blanking because I don't remember two, lol.  Maybe the rules allowed a previously made garment that year? The tops and the gray pants are all too small now; the jacket BARELY fits but the black skirt and the black pants are still in the closet.  As I recall, we had to use one pattern twice... once as it came, and once with an alteration.  I added a godet to to the back of the black skirt, which is the same pattern as the blue one.  That collection actually was tied for 3rd that year.

I didn't even try to do swap again until 2012; partly because I didn't need another wardrobe, partly because I started back to work and lost most of my sewing time, but also because some of the rules just didn't work for me.  I didn't see the point of doing something just to be doing it, if it wasn't something I wanted in my closet.  But 2012 was a bust...I don't think I got out of the planning stage before I realized that it just wasn't going to happen that year.

Tried again in 2014.  I had a great plan, based on the Vivienne File's Common Wardrobe.  But that plan included a trench coat and I spent the entire time frame working on the trench.  Which is still a workhorse for me in our mostly mild winter climate. I have a long stripy scarf and a fedora hat and I totally bound as the 4th Doctor when I go out.

2016 rolled around and I needed some clothes, so I jumped in to the swap with a plan around a black denim jacket.  Never settled on a pattern, and at the almost last minute switched my plan up completely and made 10 of the 11 garments in about two weeks....which made me feel like I was channeling the original concept, lol.

It was cluster swap...small units that combined into the whole.  All of these clothes are still in the active closet...except the white cowl neck top, which stretched completely out of shape, and the gray knit cardi that I left in a hotel room in 2020.

2019 was the first time I tried sewing along with the Six Scarves series on the Vivienne files, and the SWAP  rules that year required an inspiration, you know, a scarf. I decided...what the heck, I'm making clothes based on a scarf anyway, let's just turn it into a SWAP.  And I got to use the trench coat as the one 'previously made' item

Then, of course, there was 2022.  Again, I was sewing based on a scarf, and again, I decided to just push a little extra on it in the first few months and turn it into a SWAP wardrobe.

  And I was the only one who did. That was probably the biggest indicator to me that the community we'd had and loved around SWAP and sewing had fractured.   I still haven't used my gift certificate yet; I want to use it on something...special.

Thassa lotta clothes, y'all.  But the challenge of the SWAP pushed me more than once to do something I've been meaning to do (hello, trench coat).    I wouldn't do it again this year...for one thing, I'm still finishing up last year's scarf wardrobe, and I have some things I want to do to expand on that.  So I wouldn't fit a SWAP this year.  But I really like the whole capsule wardrobe thing, and I've learned a lot over the years by doing it.  

And... who knows...maybe the next time I need a wardrobe update I'll make a plan and block out a weekend for cutting and two weekends for sewing and see if I can do it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Not expecting so much bling...

 I meant to post this over the weekend, but the surprise costume trunk took precedence, lol.


Number 1 Son, aka The Artist, is officially getting married in September.  Over Christmas, his Intended...whom we shall call The Dancer...showed me the colors she had selected for the bridal party: tan and a peachy pink.

Now, when the Flute Player was planning her wedding I stumbled onto pics of dresses from Nataya and was rather smitten...but her outdoor June wedding would have been too hot for the polyester dresses.   And, to be honest, the colors of most of those dresses wouldn't flatter me anyway.  But that whole vintage-y vibe really caught my eye.

So, when a couple of websites sent me emails with sales on their lace fabrics, I went looking.  I'm thinking something in blue would look fine with the tan and peach,  but I will let The Dancer's mom have first choice.  Still, I thought it wouldn't hurt to look and maybe have some options.

I found a 'teal' guipure lace at one vendor, and an embroidered net (like the Nataya dresses??? Maybe?) at another and ordered what I hoped would be enough for a dress from each of them, knowing there's another wedding coming up as well, once the Actor gets around to being official with his Little Red Haired Girl.

Anyway, the laces arrived last week and somehow the photographs on the 'net mislead me.  Both of them are straight up blingy.

The guipure lace has clear sequins sewn pave-style in the loops of the lace, and the net has a bajillion iridescent beads glued onto the embroidery.  None of that sparkly stuff showed up on the websites.

And, the teal ain't so much teal as it is a kindof weird muted mint color.   It looked like a more saturated/ deeper color on the screen.'s what we have so far...

The net is a border design; above is one edge; below is the other.  The sparkle really isn't showing in the pics but the dots on it are the iridescent beads
I think the colors are fantastic; the peacock blue-green color and the beige and and tan would look fine with the bridal party colors.  Will probably have to go with a contrast or complimentary lining.

This is an odd shade of... ok, we'll go with teal.  A lot more muted than I expected. I don't know that I'll be able to match it with a lining/ under dress.  Might have to just go with a contrast fabric and be done with it, if I make it up at some point.   And, why with the sequins?  This elegant lace doesn't need them.

I thought I would use the guipure lace for a more tailored dress, if that was more in line with the MOB's selections.  But unless she picks out a blingy dress (and I really don't expect that) neither of these will do. 

The venue is a state park; a very pretty patio on a bluff overlooking the Tennessee river.  Yeah, outdoors.  But towards the end of September it should be more temperate than in June.  We hope, lol.

The hunt will continue.  Maybe I'll make up the bling to wear to my hubby's 50 year class reunion this summer...#trophywife...LOL.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

An...Eventful Weekend...

Well, well, well, odd little things can have...interesting...consequences.

My younger son, AKA the Actor, although The Drummer would be a more accurate moniker these days, gave me a clamp-on LED desk lamp for my sewing space for Christmas.

Alas, when I clamped it on and plugged it in, I discovered that the switch would not turn the light off.  It dimmed it a bit...but it didn't turn off.

So, I got him to send me the invoce/ confirmation email and planned to make a jaunt over to the west side of the state to the retailer from which he ordered it and just do an exchange...easier than trying to finagle such a thing via email. 

And, it just so happened that My Sweet Babboo was wanting to attend a black powder rifle event at the State Park lodge that was over in that same direction.

So, we cashed in some Holiday Inn Club Points on a room in Florence (Alabama, lol) and made a little event of it, planning to hit the rifle show Friday afternoon, have a nice dinner someplace in Florence Friday night, swing by Ken's Sewing Center to exchange my lamp the next day and then head home.

I took a book; told him I'd do one loop through the vendors at the rifle show with him and then read whilst he went back through to get anything that caught his eye.  He was basically looking for a ball mold to put in his frontiersman's kit...not that he would actually use it, but it would get him points in outfit judging.

Going up and down the aisles, I spotted a table that had a couple of ladies dresses...period costumes...laid over a table with the unbelievable price tag of $50 on each of them.  They were gowns with petticoats...impossible to even buy the fabric to make them for that price.  When we got around to the table, the gentlemen there said that he was reducing his participation in the black powder rendezvous events, and his wife declared she was done.  He was just trying to get rid of the stuff. "I have a whole trunk if you'd like to see it...I'll make a deal for you for all of it".  There were a number of ladies' blouses and skirts, along with a cloak and a pair of buckle shoes, plus a bag of stockings and a few men's knee breeches.

The price for the trunk and the clothes was just too good to pass up; I told him he was taking my excuse for not accompanying my hubby to his annual Appalachian Trail outreach...that I didn't have any suitable clothes.

My Sweet Babbo picked up a couple of books and other small items, although he didn't find the ball mold, and we loaded the trunk into the van and headed off for the rest of our weekend.

Had dinner in an interesting restaurant...sorta like a fondue place only the meat is cooked on a superheated rock instead of a pot of oil.  Ken's was out of stock on the lamp so they will send a replacement.  And I dumped a Grande Americano coffee all over myself and the car when the lid popped off after my 'We're getting in the car and headed home' sip.

Here are the two dresses that caught my eye; wouldn't you do a double take if you saw a $50 price tag on these?

They were machine made, albeit reportedly by a seamstress who sews for a specific historical re-enactment event (he told us which one but I've forgotten.  It wasn't one I was familiar with).  They really are at least two sizes too small for me; the guy's wife must be a tiny lady.  But the print dress has been altered to be smaller; I think I can reverse it.  Those two dresses are really fancier than is needed for the AT Blessing event, I'm not even sure I will keep them.  I may put them in the costume closet at church, should we need something for an 18th century lady or two.  They are clearly not period correct but are costumes; the petticoat of the pink dress actually is brocade only on the front.  The back is plain white cotton.  There are skirts and blouses in the trunk that would be better suited for wearing with my frontiersman hubby, for all I would still need a top layer and definitely some stays to support the skirts. And I will need to make a set of pockets, lol.

I didn't photograph most of what was in the trunk; white gathered edge blouses, and skirts that were two lengths of fabric seamed together with a drawstring at the top.  I was hoping for a set of pockets, but there were none.  But there was this fantastic cloak...lined wool...
and a pair of buckle shoes which, amazingly, actually fit my feet.  

There was also a pair of moccasins, but they are going to need quite a bit of conditioning before I can tell if they'll work...they were too stiff to get my feet into them.

Plus, as I said, some pieces that I think will work for My Sweet Babboo's outfit.

There was also a  (non-period) shooter's bag, which the cat LOVED for some reason.

And all that happened because I got a lamp that needed replacing.  Had I not needed to take the lamp back, he would have just done a day trip to the state park and back; he might have gotten himself a pair or two of the breeches.  But he certainly would not have considered the dresses or the trunk.  So you never know what tiny thing will trigger a whole thing you didn't expect...

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Pocket Equality for Women!!!

 Checking my hubby's  jeans pockets; I have to reach in past my wrist:

Checking my jeans pockets; not even to my knuckles:

Granted, those are the worst of the lot for teeny pockets, but none of my jeans are much better. Crazy.

Trying a Little Hat Making

 So, the next thing to make for the 2022 Start with a Scarf wardrobe is a hat.  I have the fabric; didn't have a hat pattern.  I pondered it a bit and decided I wanted a baker boy cap...think Barbara Streisand in the opening scenes of 'What's Up Doc?'...and hunted around online to see what I could find.

I found this you tube video on drafting your own cap:

Baker Boy Cap

It didn't look TOO hard, so I gave it a try.

1) All the given measurements are in metric.  Which is ok, in and of itself, but I only have one ruler that has centimeters on it...and half of the markings are half rubbed off.

2) She's not always really clear on, which end of a line to measure from.  I watched the bit about drafting the brim pattern, which starts with a 10.7 cm x 10 cm rectangle...several times, pausing it over and over, and started over about three times.

3) The pattern for the band ended up being an inch smaller than my head measurement (no attempt is made to explain how to fit the hat to a different size), so I made the band longer and adjusted the width at the bottom seam of the hat pieces.

I made a 'practice' hat out of Brussel's Washer Linen ...a remnant from pants I'd made a year or two ago...just to make sure I was close on what I'd done.  Self-lined it, and used French Fuse on the shell, both band pieces, and both brim pieces.  I also cut a brim piece, minus seam allowances, from a plastic folder, to make sure the brim was stiff enough.

I held the plastic piece up to my forehead, and found that the inner curve didn't match the curve of my head at all...if I pushed the ends in, then it either flipped straight up or straight down.  I whacked around on it trying to get it to work so much that I had to scrap it and cut a new one....and for that one, I got a ball cap that fits fairly well and traced the inner curve of it.  It still didn't quite fit but I found that when I put the ball cap on I could put my thumbs under the band at the corners of the brim so ...maybe it wasn't as big a deal as I thought.  Moving on.

It was pretty straight forward sewing;  I found that if I started the curved seams in the middle and stitched them out to the top and bottom ends I got along much better.  Sewing 'with the grain' this case, wide to to tight, kept the bias seamlines from distorting.

I sewed the brim to the band/ band facing, stitched the band to the hat and then hand sewed the facing down.  Added the little stuffed ball on top and...I have a hat.

I'm still not quite happy with the way the brim is pretty low, rather than out straight.  The inner curve still is wider than my forehead.  Maybe I didn't have that 10.7 x 10 cm rectangle oriented right when I drafted it?  And I think the curve in the crown is a little too pronounced.  I did not do the topstitching mentioned in the video; my thread didn't match well enough, lol.

But it's not at all bad for a first go and I won't feel awkward wearing it.  I'll add my tweaks and I'll watch that bit on drafting the brim a couple of more times. Not sure if I will make the final cap or if I'll try another practice one.

We'll see how brave I feel at the time.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

2022 Christmas production

A small smattering of pics from the weekend.  The cast picture is from after the 'curtain call rehearsal'...and we're mostly in the bible robes from the nativity finale.  The folks who weren't in the finale are in their...whatever scene they were in costumes, so it is a little anachronistic, lol.  I was ONLY in the finale, because we were short on tenors and I could fill in.    Our Time-traveling Scrooge character was really pleased with his costume; he wanted to keep the cape, lol.  The fabric damage didn't really show up under the lights so all was good.

Now all we have to do is clean and sort and store the costumes for next time.  Rumor has it we will be doing a fairly big Easter production so I kinda think I'm going to have to start sewing Bible costumes.  We just BARELY squeaked out enough for this go.

But first, Christmas.  And sleep, lol.


Saturday, December 03, 2022

Done for the moment, lol


So, this is the finished 2nd skirt...the one that I took wedges out of to reduce the fabric at the waistline by 40".  It was still a pain to gather, but at least it was somewhat do-able.  I ended up making mongo darts in the back, too, so that it was even all around.

The third skirt was made out of another piece of fabric; when I ordered it, I thought it was just two slightly different weave patterns on the same type of fabric, but the 2nd piece was MUCH lighter and I was able to gather the whole 180" to the waistband.  It helped that  the 3rd skirt was for a larger lady, and the waistband was about 5" longer. but the fabric was so much more cooperative.

So that was 3 adult skirts.  I packed up and headed to church as soon as I finished the girl's skirt around 12:30 this afternoon, and I didn't take time to get pictures.  It went together much easier; I was gathering christmas-print quilting cotton; the only problem was my own bone-headed boo-boo.  I put the skirt on and did a quick look at the gathers; they all looked straight and even so I cut all the gathering threads off and sat down to put the elastic in the casing.

And promptly realized that I'd put the wasitband on inside-out, with the opening for the elastic/drawstring on the OUTSIDE instead of the INSIDE.  And I had cut off the extra gathering thread.

I put the seam allowance down and zigzaged all the gathers down, then very carefully removed the seam and gingerly flipped the waistband around and pinned it back down.  

It worked. Whew.

1st dress rehearsal...the basic costume tomorrow.  I already know I'm going to have to make another skirt but we didn't have measurements for the young lady so I'll grab those tomorrow. She's very short so, as not to overwhelm her, I'm only going to use 2 panels on the skirt instead of 3, so it will be easier to gather.  

Hopefully I can get it well started tomorrow night after rehearsal.  This is tech week...not going to have much sewing time.

In other news, the dye job on the subtle Christmas sweater came out well; that's a color I can wear without folks asking me if I'm ok, lol.  BUT there is a bit of seaming on the sweater, particularly on the neckband was sewn with cream polyester thread.   So it didn't take any dye and it shows a bit in a couple of spots.  

Ah, well, it's in the back, lol.

SO...On to Tech Week!  Opening night is Friday...