Staying mobile

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In my new high school we don’t have assigned classrooms.  We divvy up the rooms depending on the activities and how much space we need.  This means we keep everything back in the team office and cart what we need to the rooms and then clear it all back out again at the end of the classes.

It has proved a little challenging for me.  I am constantly running back for a white board eraser or a set of papers or my textbook copy. Sometimes I remember everything but it takes a couple trips to get it all there.

So today I made a small tote with lots of internal pockets that will be my classroom kit. There are slots for markers, pens and pencils, scissors, laptop charger, my phone and some as yet unidentified extras.  It is wide enough for file folders and deep enough for the textbook.  Nothing will be left behind!

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I quilted the outside and then fused interfacing to the lining to add even more structure.  The pockets are tubes that I divided into various widths when I attached it to the lining.

Turning it inside out through the lining opening is my favorite part.  It is like the big reveal on the HGTV shows.

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The handles are canvas that I folded and then folded again so it is four thicknesses.  When I did the edge top stitching my smaller  machine had some trouble going through all that canvas, the interfacing, and the quilted material.  I had to rip it out because the bobbin thread acted up and got all loopy.  I switched to my heavier Juki machine and it all smoothed out.  That thing can punch through anything I put it to!

I haven’t loaded it up yet, but I think it is going to be just the right size and save me a lot of running back and forth.

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Dressing up

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I rarely have a reason to wear a dress.  My job as a librarian meant  I was often crawling around on my knees to reach low book shelves, and we aren’t dress-up-and-go-out-on-the-town people.  But every once in a while, an occasion comes along that calls for a dress.

I have, unfortunately, “outgrown” all my dresses, as I discovered the last time I pulled one out to wear.  (Translation: I gained a lot of weight.) The neglected couple of dresses in the far end of the closet no longer fit.  As it was a last minute event, it was sort of a scramble to come up with something to wear.

So, I’ve made a dress: the Lara dress, from Style Arc.

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The pattern came as a downloadable pdf, which means a lot of pieces of printer paper have to be taped together to create the pattern.  A simple process, but time consuming.  My kitchen peninsula worked well as a taping surface.

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It is a fairly simple design, so not a lot of pattern parts.  I simplified it even more by making bias tape for the neckline facing. And I had the perfect color zipper in my stash which saved a trip to the store.

The directions were extremely minimal.  The guide for how to tape together the pattern pages was longer than the sewing directions.  Exhibit A:  the total instructions for putting in the zipper came in step 7: “Insert zip.”  That one took some Googling and a YouTube video.  But the pattern really doesn’t have much on the way of tricky bits, so minimal was enough for all the other parts of the process.

I made a couple other modifications.  I changed the neckline to deepen the scoop in the front (one reason for the bias tape switch as then I didn’t have to make matching changes to the interfacing pieces).  I also brought in the sides of the neckline a bit to avoid bra straps showing when I wear it.

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I used as much of the fabric length as possible, making it about 4 inches longer than the original called for.  I’m long waisted and didn’t want it to be above my knees. I’d have made it even longer but there wasn’t more fabric to add in without sacrificing the sleeves.  You can see in the pic below how little was left for the sleeve layout.

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The zipper gave me some trouble, not because of the process, but because I kept doing stupid things.  A bobbin ran out in the middle of the top stitching which interrupted the line.  At one point I’d turned off the machine and forgot to reset the needle position when I turned it back on, breaking a needle against the zipper foot.  My top stitching effort was wobbly and had to be redone on one side.  There was cursing.

It always amazing me how easy it is to make a simple thing hard.  I manage that a lot.  But in a couple of hours, I had a new dress.

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On the hanger, I have to admit that it looks a lot like my many tunics. But it is different, really!  A zipper!  Neck line darts!  Longer!  And . . . well, other than that, it is very similar.  But a dress!  Definitely not a tunic!  (Exclamation points add conviction, right?)

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See – clearly a dress, not a tunic.

As a review, I would say that I’d definitely make this pattern again.  I’d probably bring in the sides of the neckline yet another inch or so and add even more length.  The dress is comfortable and easy to move around in.  I love the weight of the cotton\linen blend.  It is from the Robert Kaufman company, the Forage collection.

I enjoyed this dress project enough that I ordered another pattern to download to make a second one.  The fabric is in the mail and I have already begun taping.

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I’m back in the classroom this upcoming school year, so dresses may be able to be a part of my wardrobe again.  No floor crawling required to teach history.  I hope.

 

Hats on

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My library recently added Creative Bug access to our library accounts, which gave me the chance to make versions of a sun hat that my friend showed me last weekend.  This one, specifically.

My mom and sister were over on the 4th of July and pulled some fabrics so I could make them hats as well.

It’s just a three piece pattern, reversible and floppy.  I used a sew-in medium weight interfacing — iron-on would have been easier when sewing the curves but I didn’t have any in the right weight.

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My only complaint about the Creative Big presentation is that the directions are video only.  It assumes that you’ve never sewn anything like this before, so the process is shown step by step, slowly.  I would have appreciated written directions as well so I could just quickly skim to see if there were any special steps I wouldn’t have expected.  There really weren’t.  If you’ve sewn anything with an attached lining and you’ve done curves, you can sew this hat without the videos.

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Except, you do need to make sure the lines of communication are working.  I made my sister’s first.  That is her modeling it up in the top picture.  The hat comes in wide and short brim options and  she chose wide.  My mom and I have shorter hair and decided the shorter brims would suit us better.  While I was working on mine, my sister cut out Mom’s fabric.  Only when I told her the smaller brim, she just heard small, and cut the whole thing out in the small size.  Which I didn’t know until I’d finished it and we tried it on.

The people in my family have really big heads – to the point that we can almost never buy hats.  Size small just perched on top of Mom’s head, more comic decoration than head gear.

So I made a fourth hat and we’ll find some small child in the family to give the other to.

The three that fit us:

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And reversed:

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It is great to have a hat that really fits.  I’m already planning more.  I need a black and white one to go with my swimming suit, and a wide brimmed one in a sturdy fabric for maximum sun protection during yard work.  Maybe denim?

 

 

Oceanside

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It is good to know people with family beach cabins!

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My crafting group has come to the Oregon coast for a long weekend.  Between the four of us we have spinning wheels, sewing machines, a Cricut machine, felted wool, and near limitless yarn.  A fifth, non crafting friend has come along and taken over the role of pastry supplier.  There is homemade chai spice infused vodka and blueberries straight from the garden.  There is a carved salmon wrapped in Christmas lights.  We lack nothing.

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I had the perfect sewing spot to make flannel pajama pants.  Llama pants!  It makes me happy just to say that.  We also now each have tracing of cropped pants pattern pieces in our various sizes and I’ve gotten my hands on a coveted sun hat pattern.

There was a felted vessel viewing, along with what I’m told will be a suspended abstract storm cloud, and felted fabric.  Rolled wool strips are becoming a trivet.  Sweaters are coming off needles in various stages of finish.

A trip to Goodwill resulted in a backpack made from a table cloth, a curtain, and an IKEA seat cover.

A pair of socks is off my needles and ready to wear (with thanks to Paige who likes both Kitchener stitch and weaving in ends.  I don’t understand it, but I appreciate it.)

In between all the fiber work, we’ve been on beach walks, cooked a lot of tasty meals, and danced to 80s music.  (OK, that last one might just have been me.)  And made marvelous cocktails.  The clear winner of the popular vote is that chai spice vodka.  Mixed with fresh squeezed orange juice, San Pellegrino lemonade, and frozen mango as ice cubes, it may explain the 80s dancing.88CB5851-4D4B-4358-8F94-8450F47DD60F

 

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Summer is coming

As the weather gets sunnier, some of the many tunics I’ve made for work had to be taken out of rotation – flannel was too warm, and the darker ones weren’t right for the sunshine.

So this weekend I made three more.

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It was totally assembly line sewing.  I cut the pieces out in multiples and did all the steps in multiples of three (or six in the case of the sleeves).

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Normally I am not a pinner, but with the sleeves especially I used a lot of pins to ease in the curve of the sleeve caps.

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They are quite shapeless on the hangers, but I do add in waist shaping, and they are very comfortable to wear.  I can be active in them without getting too hot and the fabric makes me feel cheerful.  And with all these tunics, I never have to spend much time thinking about what to wear.

As always, modified versions of Dress no. 2 from 100 Acts of Sewing.  Two scoop necks, one v neck, and the ice cream cones version has ties in the back.

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Thursdays

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My sister and I decided to try to reserve Thursday evenings for crafting together as a sort of New Year’s plan.  We started last week, and it was a success for her.  I showed her the tutorial I used for my lunch bag, and she made a water bottle carrier from a canvas curtain I bought at Goodwill last week.

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My project was less successful.  I added more slices in the fine line wall hanging I started a while back.  Black lines on a light background.  I’m definitely getting better at thinner lines, but I just didn’t like how it was turning out enough to keep going.  Maybe the color combo was too blah?  I also like 90 degree angles better, like I had on my first one, which was a better color combo as well – blue and white.

 

Anyway, I abandoned it to the scrap bin and chalked it up as technique practice.

Today we met up again.  My sister started out by making wavy lines with different decorative stitches.  The plan is to add embroidery and other embellishments between the lines.

 

I’d started a wall hanging on the weekend, without a strong plan in mind.  I got out my scraps and sewed a lot of strings together into blocks, and then cut the blocks repeatedly to make long striped strips.

 

Those then became frames around shot cotton rectangles, and then got their own black frames.  I revised them a couple of times until I got them the size and color combo I liked best.

 

Today I auditioned background colors and got started on filling in the connections between the blocks and making some stripes for the sides.

 

Not a lot of progress, but I have a clearer idea in my head of where I’m headed now.

And we’re having fun.

First finish of 2019

Welcome 2019!  Asking, nay pleading – please don’t have all the crazy of 2018.  We need some calm and sanity to even it out.

My Dress no. 2 obsession (compulsion?) continues into the new year as I finished two more flannel tunics, bringing the number of work wear tunics to ten.

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These are both from Robert Kaufman Mammoth flannel, the same fabric as my gold and gray check.  I loved that first one because it is thick and warm, important in the winter in my library as all the heat goes up to the open second story, leaving none for the people far below.

This one got back ties.

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All the plaid may be a bit lumberjack, but I will be warm and comfortable, and the red and black are my school’s colors so I’m set for spirit days.  And hey, I live in the Pacific Northwest.  We live for plaid flannel. It goes with our Birkenstocks-and-socks.

I screwed up a bit on the blue and gray version.  I was so eager to cut into the fabric that I forgot all about matching the lines on the side seams.  I realized it as soon as I finished cutting out the body pieces, sadly too late to do anything about it.  I was more careful cutting the red and black.

My plan is to pause on these now that I have two weeks of work days worth now, but who knows when the need for just one more will strike?

I had long strips of left over fabric so I ran a narrow hem up each edge and made two long scarves.  I can spend some TV time pulling strings from the end to fringe them.

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Wishing you all a warm, healthy, happy new year.