Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Summer sewing: swimsuit construction, and "granny chic"

Sophia Swimsuit

Just finished one of the most challenging projects that I ever tackled: a vintage look two-piece swimsuit with a supportive top for an extra-large bust. I went through a bunch of patterns before settling on this one: Sophia, from Closet Case Patterns.

Sophia swimsuit, View B, Closet Case Patterns
One modification that I had to make to the top was to significantly widen the halter straps. I might also swap out the 3/8" elastic on the bottom band for something heavier. Otherwise, it worked out well. The top has foam cups and underwires. It approximates a 38DD bra size.

I had to purchased poly laminate foam, underwires, underwire channeling, and nylon tricot for the bra lining from Sew Sassy Fabrics. I purchased swimsuit lycra and lining fabric rom my local fabric store.

I did not use the serger at all, but used my regular Singer Heavy Duty for the whole thing, ball point needles, and zig-zag stitches. I also used Coats Eloflex thread.

Before I even started the swimsuit, I made this robe as a swim coverup: pattern is Almada by Seamwork, in a tribal cotton print.

Seamwork Almada relaxed bathrobe

Granny Chic

I picked up this book - Granny Chic: Crafty Recipes and Inspiration for the Handmade Home, and immediately got inspired. One of the recipes was to recycle old towels into fun dish cloths. I can't have too many dish cloths. It was also an opportunity to use odd scraps of bias binding. 

Old towels -> new dish cloths
I also made a couple of Dottie Angel frocks, as featured in the book, and Simplicity Pattern 1080 Misses' Dress or Tunic.

I liked the look of the cotton calico for making a summer dress, so I followed that idea with these sun dresses - made from 100 Acts of Sewing, Dress No. 1:

Who doesn't love a dress with pockets? One modification that I made was to add some ties at the sides to cinch it in a bit at the waist. This simple pattern is great for beginners, and a great jumping off point for more advanced sewers to experiment with.

Bonus Round

I'm not sure exactly what I was thinking here, but I wanted to use this astrological fabric from Mood for something. I ended up using Simplicity Pattern 1108 Misses' Kimonos in Different Styles, and some lace trim that I had on hand. 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Hot Patterns: 1230 Metropolitan Bouvier Jacket


I am really pleased with how this turned out. I purchased some linen/rayon blend fabric from JoAnn's and whipped it up in a day and a half (unlined). The only adjustment that I made was to increase the bust dart slightly, and shorten it overall about 3/4 inch. I wanted a lightweight jacket for spring/summer. I love the lapels and all the rounded corners. It looks soft and easy to wear. 

Monday, March 05, 2018

What have I been sewing lately? Pattern roundup

...Since the last time that I posted anything about sewing, I made some stuff.

My man here picked out this flannel fabric, end of fall last year, so I made him a good old-school flannel shirt. I got the pattern askew on the front button band, and it's a little crooked on the back yoke, but otherwise, it fits nice and looks sharp.

Looking to do something similar for myself, I found this McCalls pattern that could be adjusted for bust size. Being a DD, it's an issue for me, and having a pattern that already has cup size options made it a bit easier to get a good fit. I was inspired by the styles at Duluth Trading. On the left, I used an old calico fabric that I had in my stash forever, and on the right is a recent purchase of flannel from JoAnn's. Once again, lining up the plaid was tricky, but it's still a cute comfy shirt.

I used that same calico (I had several yards of it), and some scraps to make this apron-dress-coverall thingy. It's perfect for days when I feel like baking, gardening, cleaning. These Dottie Angel patterns from Simplicity are so adorable.

I am obsessed with bags, and I like the waxed canvas styles that Duluth Trading carries, so to get that look, I found this pattern at Colette (#ColetteCooper), and some waxed canvas at fabric.com. It was spendy, but I think it was worth it to get the look, and the durability. Haven't tested it, but it is probably water-resistent, too. I used a scrap of leather for the handle.

Used another Colette pattern - Anise - to make this cropped jacket in black velveteen (I had several yards in my stash), with vintage buttons. This was a more challenging tailoring project. It is fully lined. Not sure how I am going to wear this yet...

...but I did make this top, out of a light silky charmeuse designer fabric that I got on clearance at JoAnn's.

I used the sewstylish Simplicity pattern on the left for the top, with the intention of constructing the full suit at some point. The pattern on the right is another option that I am considering. I have some odds and ends that might work for some of these pieces, but not enough of anything to make a whole suit, so I am still shopping for this one.

Earlier last year, I made this attempt to knock off the Geneva dress on Universal Standard:

I had this nice olive jersey in my stash. I started with Lotta's Esme tunic pattern, gave it cap sleeves, and gathered the hem on one side. I wore it a couple times last fall, and getting ready to bust it out again for warmer weather. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Pittsburgh history as told in it's cemeteries

I do a lot of walking around my neighborhood, and one of my favorite places to walk is the nearby Monongahela/All Saints Braddock Catholic cemeteries that span Braddock and Braddock Hills. It is an interesting place to walk, and has an interesting story that reflects the history of Pittsburgh. I even found a personal connection (through Ancestry.com and findagrave.com).

The information here is what I could gather from the Internet, mostly collected by other people who were doing ancestry research. It's two cemeteries now, but it used to be one called Monongahela. Each Catholic church in the area had it's own dedicated section: St. Joseph, St. Thomas, Good Shepherd, etc. In1929, when the cemetery manager asked the Catholic churches to pay for repairing the road that ran through the cemetery, connecting Braddock with Braddock Hills, the churches refused to pay. So, they built a "spite wall" that cut the road off, and created All Saints Braddock Catholic Cemetery. The road was heavily used, and I can imagine how inconvenient it was for residents to go all the way around the cemeteries after the wall was built.

The wall was originally 8 feet high, but at some point it collapsed and is now about 2 feet high, not too difficult to clamber over if you are on foot.

The cemeteries were built on the steep hillside above Braddock, on what was cheap land at the time, so I get a good workout during my walks. I also get a great view. When standing on the highest points of the cemetery, you can see Braddock and the Monongahela valley below.

I found another interesting article about the cemetery that was published in the Spring 1990 issue of Pittsburgh History. It describes how, from the 1880s until the war in 1914, immigrants from Europe came to work the mills in the valley. The preferred sections of the cemetery were already claimed by the older, established English, German, and Irish communities. The people who came later from central, eastern, and southern Europe filled the more obscure lots and steeper slopes. As you walk through the cemetery, you see the timeline "marking successive waves of migrants to the Pittsburgh region."

I can see this timeline clearly as I walked from one section to another.

Turkeys! I see them all the time in the cemetery. 

Estate of Anthony Burns family - he was my great-great grandfather.

This is the entry in the ledger for my great-great grandmother's interment, in 1884. Records prior to the 1930s can be difficult to find because they were split between the two cemetery offices, but not necessarily according to where the interments occurred. This ledger is in the Monongahela office, but the record for my great-great grandfather, who died in 1933, is in the database for All Saints Braddock. They are both buried in the same lot. 

The markers on some of the steeper slopes have deteriorated, the inscriptions are obscured.

The low "spite wall" is visible on the right.
More turkeys:

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sewing: Lotta Jansdotter's Everyday Style

I was looking to freshen up my wardrobe, so I picked up this book last fall...

...and I've made several projects from it since then. The book includes patterns for several basic wardrobe pieces, including accessories. It goes through each season, showing ideas for how to customize and style different pieces for that time of year.

Elsa Bag

I started with something simple, and I have an addiction to bags anyway. The Elsa bag is a very simple, roomy tote with leather handles. I really like the look of the handles, and they are just riveted into place. It was not difficult or expensive to get the required tools and supplies to do this. I picked up the rivet tool, leather, and copper rivets at the Tandy store. 

The fabric is a piece of canvas-weight upholstery with a Persian motif that I had in my stash. I can fit books, magazines, lots of stuff in there. 

Esme Tunic

I wanted a dress that I could wear in cold weather with leggings, so the next thing I made was the Esme tunic. I scaled the pattern up a bit from the largest size, and adjusted it for a large bust. 

The fabric is a medium-weight wool melton that I originally got for making viking garb, but decided to repurpose it for mundane wear. It's very comfortable and cozy to wear in the winter, with boots and fleece-lined leggings. 

Tedra Skirt

Having invested in boots and leggings, I decided to add a skirt to my winter wardrobe.
This was a large scrap of wool tartan from my stash. I had just barely enough to cut the pieces out on the bias, but it didn't take much for the short skirt.

Patchwork Scarf

In addition to the patterns, there are instructions for making accessories, like this patchwork scarf:

This was a great opportunity to use up some of my smaller scraps, and put some fun combinations together. It's a good scarf "recipe." I will probably make a few more of these.
That's all for now. So far, the book has been very useful. The patterns are basic, but versatile, and they look good on a variety of body types. You can change the look of each piece by using different fabrics and making some of the accessories. 

With warmer weather coming, I'll probably make some lighter-weight stuff to wear through spring and summer. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A couche for making bread

So another thing that's new is that I've been baking bread without a machine. Not only that, but I've been hearth-baking the bread: baking it on a stone in the oven, rather than placing the dough in a pan. One way of proofing free-form loaves like that is by using a couche, which is just a piece of cloth that is used to cradle the loaves while they rise. You can buy a couche, but I have skills. I sewed two rectangles of linen fabric together, like you would to make a placemat, and viola!

Educate and Inebriate!

A rainbow of bittersweet Italian liquors. We have gotten really serious about this. Like, reading books about it and everything. Aperitivo time is a thing that we are totally down with. 

Cleaned out a closet and found this. Didn't know what it is or where it came from, but it is probably a leftover from when I used to host a lot of parties (many years ago). I looked it up. Mandragora means "demon." It is a sweet liquor made from the mandrake root, and it reminds me of Absinthe. We are keeping the bottle around as a "curiosity."

Speaking of cleaning out closets, I also found several bottles of mead that I brewed umpteen years ago. I was very skeptical that it would still be palatable, but it was indeed still good. Very smooth and mellow. I savored every drop as I reminisced about that time period in my life. 

Homemade Negroni. Yum.

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