Still Alive

Just busy.

T-shirt blanket for a client.
Yes, those are real ballet shoes.


Market Sewing

I love Seattle for many, many reasons, but one of the reasons close to the top of the list is the sheer volume of farmers markets. While some of them are seasonal, you can find a farmers market in this area 365 days a year. During the summer, I try to go to the Kent farmers market every Saturday, and today I saw something new.

This is Dominic Muren. He founded a project called the Humble Factory, and as part of that has created the Production Cycle, a bicycle that has a sewing machine attached that he rides to local farmer's markets. While at the farmer's market, he makes a bag from scrap fiber materials from the Seattle area - like coffee bags - and trades that bag for information on other scrap fiber sources in the area.
He is in the process of building a website that will make this information public so that other artists in the Seattle area have access to these same fiber sources that would otherwise be discarded.

He's personable and easy to talk to, and that machine is freaking awesome. It's a Singer Featherweight machine that has been modified into a treadle sewing machine. He built the housing and did the modifications himself and I love that the housing and machine can be transported on a bike.

I think these ideas are pretty cool and I love the idea of using castoff materials to make something valuable. It's the reason I joined freecycle, after all, and I know in a place like Seattle, there are fiber sources available and a community of people who want them, I just don't know where they are or how to get them.

If you are interested in hearing more about this project, or want to give him some information about fiber castoffs availability in the Seattle area, check out his website, http://www.humblefactory.com/, or the blog, http://www.humblefacture.com/

pardon the jittery camera.....



I have debated putting recipes on this blog for a while, but decided I wanted to keep this just for sewing and the like. So I started a new blog just for cooking....come on over if you want.

The Diffident Chef


Once and Done

You know that red skirt from the last post? I wore it on the first day of school, it looked great, fit perfectly, got lots of compliments, and then I washed it yesterday and it shrunk 2 inches in each direction. It's shorter and no longer fits in the waist even remotely.

What really sucks is that I was almost sure that the fabric was 100% cotton and I preshrunk it before sewing it. ARGH. Oh well, you win some, you lose some, and at least I know exactly how to usee this pattern the next time.


Clothing For Me

I don't really like to sew clothes for myself, I have a really hard time making patterns fit me and it takes a truly inordinate amount of fabric to swathe myself modestly, so I don't really do it that often. Additionally, I don't really care for skirts for several reasons, one being my shape, which makes me look like an apple on sticks when I wear even a-line skirts. However, every now and then I take the plunge, and this time I might actually wear what I sewed. This green shirt is made from a Simplicity 2891 pattern that I have made a couple of times before. This is not the original sleeve design, however, as you will see if you click the link. I have made this pattern three times and changed the sleeve design each time. This version is the result of me not wanting to regather the top of the sleeve after making a mistake and having to attempt the sleeve for the third time. I didn't make the white pants, but they are scary for me, I have never owned a pair before as I am notoriously messy. I made both the top and the skirt in this picture. The top is from Simplicity 2841 and is the second version. I made version 1 out of a random piece of fabric I had sitting around, and while I really liked it, the fabric was white satiny stuff and it was Very White. Like, I'm-going-to-a-wedding-white, and it was just too much, so I decided to try and dye it, which I have never done before. The problem was that I didn't know what the fiber content of the material was, so I guessed, and was only half right. Only half the threads in the blouse turned purple, and it shrunk about 6 sizes in the process, so I can't show you how ridiculous it looks. I did make this version out of blue cotton and I am almost happy with it, although I think the armholes are too large. It's hard to see details on it, but I made full-length pintucks down the entire front, which was not part of the original pattern. By the way, thanks, Antoinette, for your advice on this top. I played around with the two skirts I owned until I discovered that I actually kind of liked the pencil skirt look, so I found a pattern that I liked and played around with it. The tan skirt in the second picture is version 2, I couldn't even zip up version 1. I used Vogue 8672 for the pattern, and really liked it, despite the fact that the skirt fabric in version 2 is pretty much the same color as my legs, but it was still not as form-fitting as I wanted, so I made version three and modified it to be more curvy. I love the color and the way it fits, but I am not sure I have much to wear with it.

In addition, because I have had issues in the past with seams unraveling after washing with clothing I made myself, I french seamed every single seam on all four garments, which took a little more time than usual, but I know it will pay off in the end and the insides of my garments look really professional.

So there you go, headless pictures of me. School starts soon and I am working on a time-consuming certification process this year, so I am not sure how much I will be able to sew, but will do what I can.


Tiny Aprons

3 days after my last post, I went to Oregon to work for my dad for three weeks. My dad is a farmer, and during harvest my uncle, aunt and dad work together to harvest their fields. It really works best to have four though, and my sister couldn't come down this summer so I went to help. My cousin helps out sometimes as well, and my cousin's wife makes dinner for those of us working in the field. This brings me to the point.

My cousin has three daughters, who really like my dad, and they were helping their mom cook dinner. They told their mom that they needed aprons to cook with, and so I ran in to JoAnns one morning before heading to the field and grabbed lots of pink, and made these.
I had to completely guess on the measurements, but they turned out pretty well and I do like them quite a lot. They are super simple shapes, reversible, and I did kidn of cheat by using premade bias tape instead of making my own. Start to finish I took about 1.5 hours, and that was only because the last one gave me some problems.

And thus summarizes my summer sewing. =)


Tie One On

I love men's ties. My dad is a farmer and I do not remember him wearing a tie ever, but I do like ties. Although ties themselves are a little odd...I mean think about it. It is essentially a noose that a guy voluntarily ties around his neck. But on the other hand, they are pretty cool accessories. They are usually beautiful silk, and to me they have so many possibilities.
A lot of people make belts or purses out of ties, and while I do like those ideas, I have no waist and prefer to make purses out of solid colors. On the other hand, I do love bracelets. I have long monkey arms, so I am lucky enough to be able to wear cuff-style bracelets fairly easily.The easiest way for me to get my hands on ties is to get them at the thrift store, so sometimes they have odd smells. The blue one above was apparently worn by a man who wore a LOT of cologne, because even several years later it smells like cologne.
I have basically cut the tie into three pieces. I use the bottom triangular piece to make a simple overlapping cuff with a button and buttonhole, like the first picture and the one below. The finished width of course depends on how wide the tie was initially. The three different ties here vary between 2.5" and 4" wide.I also use the opposite end more or less as is. I cut a piece that is quite a bit longer, and wrap it around 3 times, with either a button or a snap on the end. The one below had a name on the tie, and I debated doing something to cover it up, but in the end, I kind of liked the way it looked, so I left it. Here's another example, wrapped around, and this one has a snap on the end instead of a button. I used heavy duty anorak snaps. Pardon the mess behind me, I was playing with the self timer very late at night and didn't bother editing these before posting them. The center section is a little flexible. I ended up doing something similar with the wrap look, but the number of times it wraps around varies depending on the length of the tie. I just really like the look of the layers. Here it is on my arm.
The last one on here is one of my favorites, but I did struggle quite a lot with how to finish it. I ended up putting medium sized grommets about an inch apart all the way around, but then couldn't figure out how to connect it. I tried several options and wasn't happy with anything, so I finally ended up in the jewelry section of JoAnns and got a chain that I hooked through two of the grommets. Every other bracelet opens up to make it easy to put on (although most of them can be slipped on without opening it up), but this one is sewed down.
I do like the juxtaposition of the chain and grommets against the colors and moderately feminine design, but I struggled with that chain. It took me probably 2 hours to figure out how I wanted to thread it and how to get it to look right when it was on and my hand was moving around. But I'm happy with it.