Updated 14 December 2011
typo corrected 4 May 2014
This file really, really needs to be viewed in a narrow window.
I went shopping this morning, in a way. Today's "Deal of the Day" at fabric.com was an all-cotton flowered jersey that's just right for the new T-shirts I need for this summer. Bought six yards planning to make one long-sleeved and one short-sleeved shirt. But it's 58" wide; I think I can make a summer dress and a T-shirt. I could use a new dress for church; I'm getting very tired of my current outfits.
I ordered ten more yards of cheap black broadcloth while I was at it.
This "villa olive" print T-shirt I'm wearing is sorta green. The only significantly-green garment in the closet is a gardening shirt I made out of an old curtain. (And the print contains more brown than green.)
It's time to resume work on my linen suit, and I was getting much exercised because I couldn't remember what I'd done with the pattern and cut pieces when we cleared out the parlor for the piano tuner. It isn't on either of the two boxes I carried out of the parlor and plunked into the sewing room.
Turns out that I rolled the project around a cardboard cylinder and put it on the shelf with the remaining fabric.
It's lucky that the sleeves aren't among the pieces that I've already cut out, as I have a much-improved sleeve pattern now.
And I'd better get with translating the improvements to my jersey-sleeve pattern, as the fabric I bought for new T-shirts will arrive in a few days.
Haven't gotten the e-mail that it's been shipped yet, but sometimes I get that and the fabric on the same day.
I drafted the sleeve pattern Friday morning, then in the evening I made a template of the seam line, "walked" it along the seam line of the armhole, and re-drafted the sleeve pattern.
I have to make a villa-olive T-shirt to test the new sleeve pattern before I cut the Slub Cotton Flowers Yellow/Pink.
I cut out my Villa Olive T-shirt in the morning and finished marking it after getting up from my nap.
UPS delivered my fabric and I washed the flower-print jersey. It feels unsettlingly thin, but I can't see my hand through it. Have yet to zig-zag the ends of the black broadcloth so that I can wash it. Even before receiving the broadcloth, I had a great heap of blacks to wash, since my emergency ponchos had been in the Buick so long that I thought I should wash them before putting them into the Versa. And I didn't do blacks when I washed a load Sunday night.
Frittered away the morning, but still got the broadcloth (and a few socks and my black bra) washed, sewed the darts in my villa-olive shirt, and didn't blow off Handwork Circle. Where I actually did some handwork, and now I have two pairs of jeans in wearable condition. Both dirty, of course. Seems to go with making everyday clothing of white fabric.
Made a complete hash of trying to fold ten yards of broadcloth after taking it out of the dryer. I think I'll try rolling it on the cardboard cylinder now holding my linen suit. The short cylinder that came inside the broadcloth will do for the pattern.
Again, I frittered the entire morning, but managed to put a few stitches into my new shirt. I sewed the shoulder seams, then remembered that I'd meant to sew patch pockets to the front first. So I spent a considerable time deciding which end of the pockets was up, and sewed the ends of the hems, then turned the hems right side out.
I'm determined to set in my sleeves this morning, but first check the mail . . . well, maybe read some of the messages.
I got a little done on both projects simultaneously yesterday evening: I basted the pockets and sleeves while listening to the CD that came with my General textbook. And fiddled with some socks I'm re-making into slippers when I'd finished basting.
Now I have the sleeves set in and the neckband sewn on, and I'm about to sew the ends of the elastic inside the neckband together. Then will remain only the side seams, the hem, and the sleeve bands. I'd better think harder about how I can manage to fold the "slub cotton flowers" on grain and spray it with starch, because I'm going to want to be cutting it soon.
Only futile fiddling accomplished on the sewing front.
Finished my new T-shirt, fiddled with the fabric for my new dress, fed Dave a can of soup, rode my bike to Kroger, where I bought a round steak and a potato, among other things. After bedtime I zoomed through a practice test, randomly guessing whenever I didn't know right off, and scored less than 50%.
I hung the clothes OUTSIDE, on the LINE!
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The "Deal of the Day" was flower-print jersey that just might do for the new T-shirt I've been needing. Studies it a while. Yes, I like this pattern very much. I'll get enough to make one short-sleeved shirt and one long-sleeved shirt — double the measure for a long-sleeved shirt, and that will give plenty of margin for error.
So I got out the patterns for the front, back, and long sleeve, laid them out end-to-end, and measured them: 85" per shirt, double that and divide by 36, round up — but wait, the fabric is fifty-eight inches wide, perhaps — yes, the front and back half-patterns laid side by side do measure less than 29". Two sleeves take up more than half the width, but the short sleeves can be cut one above the other in the scrap from the long sleeves . . .
What the heck. I ordered three yards per shirt as I always do.
And then realized that with that much margin for error, I could get a summer dress out of this piece, and have enough left for at least one T-shirt.
Oops. While sewing in the first sleeve, I discovered that I hadn't matched the slope of the sleeve seam to the slope of the side seam. There is a peak at one end of the armscye to fit into a dip at the other end.
I don't think this can be corrected — it's just the way the pattern works.
Seems odd that I didn't notice it while working with the woven version.
When I cut out the shirt, I was pleased to find two assembled sleeve-bands and a folded strip of cloth labeled "neckband" among the scraps. When I went to install the neckband today, I discovered that it was two scraps from cutting neckbands, curled together so as to look folded. And none of the scraps were wide enough to cut a neckband from, so I had to unfold that huge main piece — there's more than enough to cut another dress left still.
How much of that stuff did I *buy*? I have a short-sleeved dress, a long-sleeved dress (both ankle length), a shabby short-sleeved T-shirt, I just cut up a T-shirt for cleaning rags, and I think there's a long-sleeved T-shirt around here someplace — perhaps that one also went for rags; the pattern clearly states that the previous villa-olive T-shirt I cut from it was the third.
I have decided to cut the neckband for the dress just an inch wide, and apply it like a hong-kong binding. This will make the neckline much dressier, and still allow me to ease out the dowager's-hump darts.
The neckbands and sleeve bands for the T-shirts are made from strips cut three inches wide.
Spent most of my working hours fiddling with the flowered jersey, to no effect. I must remember to baste the edges of the white jersey *before* I wash out the factory sizing and leave the edges free to curl into teeny-tiny tubes.
I can't work with cotton jersey unless the curl is tamed by a heavy coating of starch. Ironing starched jersey is almost certain to iron in stretch, so I baste the edges together so that they can't curl: one edge wants to curl up, the other wants to curl down, no net curl. Then I lay it out on a flat waterproof surface and spray it with diluted bottle starch until damp, allow to dry. repeat until stiff enough, flip and do other side.
But this requires that one first line up the grain, so as not to starch in twist. Usually I use the design to line up printed jersey, but when I sat on the floor to baste a thread across the middle of the fabric, I discovered that the print is about ten degrees off the grain — great for obscuring the repeat, useless for a grain guide.
And I can't draw a thread to straighten the ends: the paint-like print (didn't fabric used to be printed with dye?) firmly glues the threads together.
The very first time I used a knit fabric — back in the sixties — I drew a thread across the fabric and was shocked when it fell into two pieces. I thought "hey, wow!" at the time, but I haven't managed to draw a thread in knit fabric since.
Teetotally ignored the floral jersey sprawled all over the parlor floor, but did sew the side seams of the beta.
Seems tighter in the chest than the old shirt made with the same pattern. On thought, it makes sense: the old sleeve tightened the back when I put my arms forward, the new sleeve tightens the front when I put my arms back.
I narrowed the sleeve by only half an inch, but it seems to flare less than the old sleeve. I plan to attach sleeve bands anyway — after all, they are already made!
I zig-zagged the neckband down, and plan to do the sleeve bands the same way. I'll hand-pick the neckband of the summer dress. Might hem the sleeves instead of attaching bands.
Assuming I ever get the jersey starched!
After frittering away most of the morning, I hemmed the bottom of the beta and prepared to sew on the sleeve bands.
My notes say to cut the sleeve bands 14" long, and the finished bands I found among the scraps measure 6" — 12" circumference. But they slide up on my arms to the desired height; I'll use them anyway.
But they don't stretch enough to ease the sleeves onto them without using a gathering thread. Tossed them back onto the pile of scraps and took the main piece, which already has a straight line drawn across it from cutting the neckband, into the kitchen. Where today's mail is all over the table. So I read a magazine and now it's nap time.
I think I'll hem the sleeves; that's the way I intend to do it on the dress, after all. (Except that I'll hand-sew the hem instead of zig-zagging it.)
Still have doubts about the clinginess of the flowered knit. I do have a seersucker shift I can wear under it — but wearing a slip defeats the whole idea of a summer dress.
Before time to start preparing supper, the Beta was hemmed, in the closet, and ready to wear tomorrow night. The prospect of a pretty summer dress is so much more motivating than the prospect of yet another Villa Olive T-shirt!
Also got a start on basting the other edge of the flowered jersey. I folded along the grain as best I could, after verifying (with the help of magnifiers usually used for reading the Compact Oxford English Dictionary) that the "slubs" were indeed knitted-in and a fair guide to the grain, but I suspect that it will prove impossible to pat out the wrinkles. I'll arrange it with the slubs at right angles to the edges and starch it anyway, then dry-iron out the wrinkles and cut it opened flat, guiding on the slubs and measuring from the edges.
I intend to cut the dress and one or two T-shirts at the same time, for economy in laying out. This may involve duplicating some pattern pieces. It will certainly involve moving the kitchen table and vacuuming the living room.
Wore the old shirt yesterday, to keep the new one clean for tonight.
Finally basted the other edge — only to find that no matter how I lay it out, the bottom layer is inches wider than the upper layer.
Doesn't help that the only large area where I can leave it undisturbed has carpet on it. I've begun starching the edges very heavily; after a few more coats I'll look around for a place where I can unfold it and lay out the entire six yards. Perhaps I can take it to the church on Tuesday (cross fingers that I don't pick a Prime Timer Tuesday!), lay it out on the tables in the Fellowship Hall before cleaning the fridges, then do handwork for an hour.
Meanwhile, I'll get on with washing the white jersey I bought several months ago. My underpants are all shabby; they might all fail at once.
One really shouldn't "not feel like it" — Wednesday night would have been a good time to take my fabric, spray bottle, starch, and homework to church and use the big plastic tables in the Fellowship Hall, because the church was closed for spring break. But I didn't feel like it.
On Thursday, I received notice that making new bras was at the top of my priority list. I found the piece of linen I cut the previous bras from, and plan to open out the dining table after supper. I don't think there's enough for four bras in it; I may have to cut a couple from curry or lipstick red.
And I did fiddle with the white cotton jersey — I could draw a thread from it only by picking out, at most, half a stitch at a time. Since I haven't a prayer of folding it straight, I'm going to wash it without basting the edges together. There was a band of special knitting where they cut the tube open — perhaps it won't curl, or at least not microscopically tight.
I could cut only one bra from the white linen, but one white one is enough, since my other three white bras aren't as shabby as the one I have on. There is quite enough curry linen, curry is acceptable for underwear, and checking my old worn-out curry-linen jersey shows that the color ages well — but I'm going to cut the "lipstick red" linen first. I cut a triangle scarf out of it a few years ago, so I can lay out one bra without further ado — and one scarlet bra is all I need!
Checked the bias box to see whether I need to cut a strip of tape off before cutting out the bra, and found that I'd cut a strip of tape and used all but a foot of it. Now I'm racking my brains to remember what I made with red bias tape!
The answer was hanging three feet to my left on the to-be-mended rack: black linen slacks with red hong-kong binding on the hems. I've got a piece of linen-cotton I plan to make into another pair of slacks one day — perhaps I should cut *two* pieces of bias before laying out the bra.
Also took the flowered jersey to Handwork Circle, laid it out on four tables, and sprayed it with starch. It wasn't quite dry when I'd read two chapters of homework and couldn't track any more, but I'd already intended to spray it again — perhaps on a couple of sheets laid out in the back yard some sunny day. Any stretching it gets from being rolled up with damp spots should relax out when it gets wet again.
I used a piece of 1/8" elastic I found in the box for the neckband of the beta, and it turned out to be too short — short enough to be uncomfortable in addition to making the shirt hang funny.
So today I spliced in a piece of quarter-inch twill tape — easier, to my surprise, than the 1/8" tape I don't have; the tape sticks out a scant 1/16" on each side of the elastic, and is easily whipped to fit as I overcast the edges of the elastic. Tape of the "correct" width would be slithering this way and that as I attempted to overcast the two pieces together.
In the process of checking the fit before sewing the other end of the elastic to the tape, I found that the neckband is just a little too wide. All the other neckbands cut from the same pattern are fine. But I think I used a quarter inch less seam allowance this time than heretofore. Something to bear in mind if I decide not to hong-kong the T-shirt (or shirts) to match the dress.
If I do get two T-shirts out of the scraps, it will probably be two short sleeved T-shirts; long sleeves take an astonishing amount of fabric. Perhaps I can finish one with a narrow band and the other with a T-shirt band to make them different. And I can hem the sleeves of the narrow-banded shirt, and band the sleeves of the T-shirt banded shirt.
In the meanwhile, I'll have the beta to wear to a committee meeting tonight, and won't have to decide whether to go shabby or go overdressed.
Maybe I should make another beta from the striped jersey, which is more like the flowered jersey than the villa-olive jersey is.
Didn't work on the beta bra either. Did make a spectacle-cleaning cloth out of a worn-out piece of black linen: drew threads to mark a square, zig-zagged around, cut along drawn lines with my rotary cutter. Worn-out threads are hard to draw. Especially when they are black and you can't see them.
Wish I could cut the neckband of the second beta with the stripes running up and down, but the stretchiest grain is just barely stretchy enough to make a neckband. Making it narrow, to practice for the dress, will call for some very precise stitching, because the stripes are all narrower than the proposed finished width of the band, many of them just barely narrower.
One of the stripes is white; perhaps I could wash the white jersey I bought to make underpants. But cutting that exactly on the grain would be very difficult — not to mention that I don't feel like dealing with a another huge piece of jersey.
One of the scraps of black cotton jersey might be wide enough. I got my hopes all up when I saw a long piece among the snippets of white jersey that came down with them, but it's on the long grain. Pout. (And what did I make of white cotton jersey? Must have been a while back, since there isn't any that's still around.)
I've taken the fabric for the second beta down from the shelf. Haven't decided whether to make black binding or stitch self-fabric very, very precisely.
So I've cut out a back, front, and two long sleeves. Because of the long sleeves, I'll make a band instead of a binding, but much narrower than the band on the other beta. Since this fabric is also stretchier, I may not have to put elastic inside.
The pockets and band will require a little thinking and it was about naptime, so I put off cutting those. I should be able to match the stripes for the pockets. I didn't even try to match the sleeves, beyond checking that the same end was up.
I can't think of anything but panties to make from the pieces remaining — and I'm *really* tired of striped underpants.
The modified bra supports better, but I'm also more aware of it. On balance, it's better, but I think I'll wash it and wear it again before cutting the rest.
There are about three yards of the curry linen. I hope I can make three bras from it — cutting on the bias is a bit hard to predict without actually laying the pattern out.
I laid the pieces of the bra on the pieces of the beta T-shirt. No pockets or band cut yet.
Today, while making facings for a pair of banners, I pressed creases into the four-inch strip I took off before cutting out the bra, making it ready to cut off a strip of one-inch bias tape to face the armholes. In the process, I learned that this scarlet linen will bleed if you press a folded edge through a wet rag. I'd learned that earlier, but wasn't sure it wasn't lint rubbing off the iron.
Finally opened the dining table and laid out the striped beta. I find that I've completely forgotten what I was doing. I think the next step is to mark the darts and pocket positions, then sew the darts. Also need to cut out pockets and a neckband.
But deal with the knot left inside just by saying "but that's all right"? Even in rough sewing, wandering lumps are Not Acceptable — leastways not when it would be so easy to tie the knot an inch or three from the end of the thread to leave yourself a handle to pull it out by.
While the hub's away, the cat will play. With the dining table semi-permanently opened out into a sewing table, a cat can walk across it without anyone glaring "There are FEET on the TABLE!"
Though he naps on my work, so far he hasn't done so when I wanted to work on it. I've selected the scraps from which I plan to cut pockets, and should go get at that.
After I press the hems I picked out of an old pair of underpants this morning, meaning to replace them with casings. That heavy hemp doesn't appear to plan to wear out any time soon, so I might as well make it so that I don't mind wearing them.
The flowered jersey fit nicely when folded in quarters. I sprayed it twice, turned it over, sprayed it again, and brought it in at sunset.
Alas, it is raining today. I'm going to risk hanging out the load of wash I have in — after checking the radar again, but that I can bring in and dry on racks.
Time to thread up the treadle for work on the striped beta — the weak matching thread, or ecru DMC? The tan thread held up pretty well on my old striped T-shirt, but I'm not 100% sure I don't like ecru better. I'll need a fresh needle, since it's a knit.
Then I found the cat asleep on the scraps I meant to make pockets from, cut two 22 3/4" pieces of 1/8" elastic, and threaded them into the casings I had put around the leg holes of the underpants mentioned above.
I measured the width of the curry linen against the picnic table, then against the dining table, gave a passing thought to my fluffy-carpeted floor, and folded up the fabric and put it into my Tuesday bag. The tables in the Fellowship Hall aren't wide enough or long enough either, but I can push four of them together. *And* I can use the banner board. (Banner-making committee is off duty until the new pastor finds out we exist.)
Then, having set up the treadle, I sewed four seams, each of them a whole inch long, and made the pockets for the striped beta. Now I need to set up the electric machine so I can zig-zag the hems and attach the pockets. I don't think I'll want the electric again until the last round of stitching on the neckband. And the hem round the bottom. I'll probably hem the sleeves, also.
As my dear mother told me when I was in high school, zig-zag is nice, but the most-important thing about a sewing machine is having one.
I bought a machine with fancy stitches anyway, and played with them enough to get my money's worth. Now I'd like to have a three-step zig-zag, but not badly enough to buy one of the fragile things they are calling sewing machines these days. On the other hand, my life expectancy is short enough now that I don't really need to insist on one that will last fifty years.
The Lycia would three-step if one could buy the proper set of cams. If I ever actually need a three-step, I can use the sine-curve stitch.
Then it was time to cook supper. After supper I stepped out onto the patio to comb my hair so the sheddings wouldn't choke our vacuum cleaner, and while combing I saw the overcast sky, heard the thunder, felt the drops of rain.
Tomorrow will be a much nicer day to take a long walk.
I did finish basting the turns for the shoulder seams and sleeve caps on the striped beta. I was saddened to see the stripes making beautiful neat chevrons as I pinned the shoulder seams — because that means that they aren't going to do it anywhere it shows.
The sun came out while I was basting, and we took a short walk. Later there was some fairly spectacular weather and a tornado warning, and I was glad I was at home.
But I did go out after supper, and during the day I had remembered to add pins, dustpaper, and tracing wheel to my bag.
It turned out that two tables were ample; the fabric hung off a little at one end, but not enough to distort the fabric I was marking.
But once the dotting was done, the project un-escalated: cutting out on a double-width table is Right Out. Stretching and straining to reach the middle causes horrible mistakes. I did cut — badly — along a bias line that will become the bottom edge of two bras. Briefly considered moving the piece I'd cut off to another table, but by then I was tired, so I packed it up and went home.
I established that I will get one bra per bias strip. Or, since I'm pointing them alternate ways to economize on long bias cuts and, with luck, to interlock the straps to economize on fabric, two per wider bias strip.
Didn't think to measure to see exactly how wide the bias strips will be, to judge how many of them I could get out of the fabric. There are about two and a half yards of it. It's much shorter on one edge than the other, on account of having taken the original linen jersey out of it, which worked out neatly with the bias lines.
Want to bet on whether I have a curry scrap to add to my collection of bias scraps just big enough to make half a bra?
I learned something about dot-dot-dotting along the line marked by a laser level: don't look at the line. Look at the pen, keep it in the sparkly sheet of light, and you'll hit the line every time. (This enabled me to put the dots close enough together that I didn't need to connect them with a ruler.)
Also, putting something vertical behind the point you are aiming at helps a *lot*. I used my wash-out marking pen, pointing it roughly along the line, with the middle of the flat-topped white cap centered on the mark on the cloth. Light up that circle evenly, and my line is crossing the mark. If the marker hasn't rolled a bit.
Setting the level on a book, so that the light isn't blocked by slight irregularities in the fabric, was nothing new — but it was new that I couldn't simply leave the level magnetically attached to its little nail-to-the-wall dingus instead. The stand elevated the level enough, but it had no friction at all with the table; I couldn't let go of it without changing its aim. So I went upstairs and fetched a hymnal. (I remembered to put it back when I was done, too.)
I cleaned the fridges while I was there — I'm on the kitchen committee.
On the other hand, cutting the fourth bra would leave me without a nice big triangle to cut my bias tape from — which makes me realize that I don't know how much tape I need for an armhole. A bias strip the full width of 60" fabric does two armholes with a usable length left over. Call the square root of two 1.5 and say the strips were a tad under 90"; that means that 45" is more than enough for an armhole.
I don't think that any of the scraps have a 45" bias edge, but I could try, like, actually measuring the armholes — and one piecing seam in a bias binding isn't any problem.
Stay tuned — I'm not quite done marking the third, and I'm hungry, and after lunch I go to bed. Supper is already planned, so if I don't sleep too long I may get the fourth cut — or not cut — before clearing my sewing off the eating table.
Using a tracing wheel on my cutting mat supplied a surprise benefit: the crease lines are already inclined to crease, and in the correct direction.
I'm tracing the darts on the wrong side, the fold lines for the casing on the right side, and the notches on both sides. Sides become "right" and "wrong" by virtue of these markings, since plain-woven linen is reversible, but I'm trying to keep the same side up on all bras. It's a matter of principle. Didn't chalk-mark the scraps, though.
When I dressed after my nap, I found that my scarlet bra had irritated my skin at the backs of the armholes. This fabric is almost as coarse, so that reduced my desire to go to a lot of trouble to get a fourth bra out of it. I tried the pattern on the fabric as a matter of form, and discovered that the thread I drew to straighten the end runs through the body of the bra. This triangle is bias tape!
Noted that remaining "mark all over" line was two inches from the end, measured two inches from that mark, aimed laser level, dot dot dot — I'm getting pretty good at this. Very neat job. But doesn't this strip look rather narrow? Folded a section to the dotted line, folded again — that doesn't look like one-inch tape. Stared at dots in puzzlement for a while, duh! I measured four inches along the selvages, instead of on the bias! Slap ruler on bias of fabric: I need to mark three and a half inches from the previous marks.
But the evening strip isn't quite three and a half inches wide. The junk mail is on the table; I grabbed a white postcard, marked three and a half inches from one end, lined that end up with the drawn thread, dot dot dot — *now* I can cut.
So I did, then remembered that one *bra* per strip is for 60" fabric. I'd calculated that 42" fabric would yield one *armhole* per strip. (Why forty two? I don't think that it could have shrunk three inches widthwise.)
Whatever. There is enough tape for two bras, and I can cut bias for the third when I see how much is needed. I folded up the triangle and put it with the pieces, and looked for the box of linen scraps to put away the rest. I had every un-labeled box off the high shelf before noticing that the linen scraps were still on the floor from when I made the scarlet bra. Purt near couldn't put back all I'd taken down, and still haven't put the linen back. I think there's room on top of the box of silk scraps, but I'll need a higher stool to get at that end of the shelf.
Found that I had left off just before trimming the ends of the seam allowance before making the second row of top-stitching on the shoulder seams. Remembered that I'd been feeling sleepy and didn't want to make a mistake with scissors.
I think I trimmed off too much at the neck ends of the seams.
11:10 Central double daylight time
Grumble, gripe. I trimmed the wrong side of the back end of an armscye seam. Oh, well, jersey doesn't fray, and the raw edges will be on the inside where they don't show.
Ah, that was just long enough for the cat to get bored and go bother the spouse.
Both sleeves attached, side-seam turn-ups basted, one side seam half pinned. When basting a quarter-inch turn to the right side of a sleeve cap, one is working with the curl, when basting the side-seam turn, one is working against the curl. Seemed to go as fast — except that basting along the edge instead of down the middle tends to put me into short-stitch mode.
Or for the patches on my jeans. The left leg of the older pair wore through where my elbow rests when I stop to think, and both legs are rather thin where my elbows rest when I'm typing.
They have been lying about for days, though desperately needed. I have scraps of the original fabric, but the fabric from the scrap box is thick and stiff, and the fabric of the pants is thin and soft — "No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old."
Eventually I remembered that I have some coarse muslin that is closer in color to the old hemp than the unfaded scraps are, so I found a large piece that had been washed and washed it twice more to be sure; if I patch *both* legs, and make the patches quite large, it will look as though it had been made that way in the first place. And large patches will forestall further wearing-through.
I pinned the patches to the jeans this morning; if I sew them well, I won't hesitate to wear the jeans away from the house. Be nice not to have to change clothes before going on the after-supper walk around the block.
Since last writing, I cut the tail of DH's new shirt square across the bottom. (from J.C. Penny, feels like old time mule-spun cotton, but if it were spun on antique equipment, they would have bragged about it, so I have hope that the latest generation of air spinners can spin soft.)
Next project: sew darts in the three curry-linen bras. I see that I marked the fold lines for the hems by ironing in creases, and also ironed creases for the pre-graded felled seams at the shoulders.
Caught up on the ironing this morning. That black shell has been hanging in the "to be attended to" row since June. Pity that after the royal pain of ironing my embroidered-linen poncho shirt, I can wear it only once.
Instead of taking in my white linen poncho shirt with the appliqué ribbon, I should iron it and wear it. Nobody but me can see the excess fabric. And I'm not 100% sure of my plans to correct it.
At the moment, only my old hemp jeans, with pinned patches, and the poncho shirt are hanging from the kiddy-lit shelf. But there are two bras draped over the printer stand, one bra on the lamp behind the treadle, the beta shirt is draped over the electric sewing machine, and a pile of old jeans to be combined into one or two wearable pairs are on the treadle.
And — with respect to the header on this file — a wad of starched flower-print cotton jersey is on the leaf of the typewriter table I use for a sewing-machine stand.
The typewriter stand works really well — the paper drawer (divided with lots of little boxes) is just right to hold all the little tools and notions that one might want while sitting at the sewing machine.
After supper today, I sewed the darts in one bra, and sewed enough of the shoulder seams to keep the front with its assigned back. Then the light had faded, so it was time to fiddle with the computer.
There are three rows of stitching to each dart and seam in my bra pattern, since the seams are flat-felled and I stitch down the darts. Triple-stitching the darts started when I made the black bra and the best black cotton thread I could find was 50/3. Since the thread was weak, I top-stitched near the first line of stitching, then noticed that I'd done the first two stages of a flat-felled seam, and stitched down the free fold too. I liked the effect, and have been doing it even when I use my good 100/6 cotton thread.
Which I'm doing with the curry bras. I haven't a prayer of matching the color, so I'm making a virtue of necessity and using contrast thread. I'm not carrying the top-stitching quite as far beyond the point of the dart as I do when I use matching thread.
But the seam attaching the neckband to the shirt hasn't been pressed toward the neckband. A minor matter ... it wasn't.
For a short space on each side of the neck, the cut edge was very close to running exactly down the grain, and nothing would persuade it to lie flat enough that I could fold the neckband down over it — not even starch. And in the struggle, I knocked my last vent-free iron off the ironing board. (I haven't seen such an iron in a garage sale in over a decade.) It doesn't appear to have been damaged, but that sort of thing is cumulative.
Finally I pinned the seam allowance all around the neck hole, then pulled each pin out and stuck it back in after smoothing the neckband down behind it.
The stitching itself went quite well; I always have a terrible time keeping even when I stitch near a fold or over a raw edge, but with this fabric, all I had to do was to set the presser foot down in the correct relationship to the edge, then note where the other side of the foot was with respect to an easily-followed stripe.
Alas, when shaking it out to pin the bottom hem, I noticed that one of the side-seam bust darts had been pressed up instead of down. I don't think I've *ever* made that mistake before.
Perhaps dart-pressing is akin to bottle tossing. When I was learning to ride a bike, after a while I started throwing my bottle on the ground instead of putting it back into the bottle holder, and had to ride back and get off to pick it up nearly every time I took a sip. My mentor explained that I had had enough experience to start putting the bottle back without thinking about it, but not enough experience to succeed. So perhaps the dart is the wrong way because I was sure I wouldn't press in the wrong direction.
Whatever, I'm not going to pick that flat-felled seam out and flop the dart until I see how much it annoys me.
Thanks to whole-house air conditioning, I was able to try on the shirt. It's too tight — which I attribute to the persistent hot weather curtailing my exercise.
And now it's nap time.
After supper, I finally sewed the patches that have been pinned to my white jeans for ages. Since my recent experience with smoothing an inch and stitching an inch was flat-felling sleeves, I was slightly surprised that when one relies on pins to keep scrunched fabric in register, one needs an entirely unreasonable number of them.
It went almost as fast as if the fabric had been flat — partly because I like to be able to put on my jeans without taking off my shoes. (When I say "jeans", I mean loose, comfortable forties-era work pants. Which I have to make myself, since nobody makes real jeans for women. And none of them are blue denim, because the real thing is no longer available by the yard.)
Purely by chance, I'd put the pins pointing clockwise, so I could stitch the top of the patch with the free arm stuck into the top of the pants, and stitch the bottom of the patch with the free arm in the bottom of the leg, so I did it in two installments — first I put the pants on the machine with the top of the patch easy to stitch, began as far down the leg as I could, stitched across the top more-or-less flat, then stitched down the side nearly to the bottom of the leg. Then I broke off and started again with the leg stuck into the free arm.
I'm quite pleased with the way they look — but the hems are black with dirt, and I don't know how the patches will look after they have been washed.
Now is a fine time to realize that I could have washed the jeans after I stabilized the tear with iron-on interfacing.
There's some daylight left. Perhaps just one more dart?
Running the edge of your thumbnail along a linen fold creases it firmly. It also makes one keenly aware of how filthy one's nails are.
I appear to have gotten them clean, but suspect I'll change my mind the next time I sit in the sun and stare at them intently.
Yesterday I read the Wikipedia article "Muslin" for reasons now forgotten. It's terribly confused because the writers assume that "muslin" has meant the same thing down through the ages.
Textile-related terms are about as stable as the scum patterns on a breaking tsunami, but one thing about them is predictable: fabric names get assigned to cheaper and cheaper fabrics as time goes by. When the word "muslin" was introduced into English, it referred to an exceedingly fine cotton fabric suitable for making a rich woman's best gown. Only "cotton" and "plain weave" clung to the word on both sides of the Atlantic. In Great Britain, "thin" also clung and "muslin" ended up meaning what we Americans call "cheesecloth". On this side, it came to mean the coarser of two grades of sheeting, then came to mean any loom-state cotton. I lived through that last change myself. Now the word is on its way back up, cost-wise: people are dying fabrics an unbleached color to get an olde-tyme look that doesn't wash out.
I wonder what we call bleached muslin these days? Probably not much call for it.
I frittered away my sewing time playing with the computer this morning, but did get around to ironing all the finger-creases, including those I used to mark the hemlines when I cut the bras out, pressing the darts flat, and top-stitching all but one of the darts.
The neck-hole creases I ironed again through a damp cloth, to make sure they stay put while I stitch the very narrow hems. Dampness tends to make creases open up, so I pressed them, covered them with a thin cloth, pressed again to bring presscloth and hem-in-progress into intimate contact, and only then misted with water. The edge couldn't rise when damp because the cloth held it down. After pressing the cloth mostly dry, I removed it and ironed the edge again to be sure all steam was out before I moved it.
I'm not at all worried about that fold coming undone while I sew darts and repeatedly take the bras down and hang them back up.
Bluish fluorescent light is just terrible to see fine details by, but a gooseneck floor lamp is really handy for keeping works in progress out of the cat's reach!
But I could really use one of those strap-on sewing-machine lights that were available in the fifties. Folks keep telling me that Walmart sells a "reading lamp" that works well for this purpose, but I've yet to find a reading lamp of any description anywhere. Oh, I saw a book light at the sewing store a few years ago, but it needed to be bolted to mid-air to be of any use. Drat! I passed a sporting-goods store a few days ago, and didn't go in to look for headlamps. Better write "lamp" on my shopping list.
Shocking news! I didn't fritter on the computer the whole morning today.
Tuesday, I sewed a couple of side seams in the evening. Then I found that the last bit of stitching, though perfect, had caught another part of the bra underneath. So I picked it out and knocked off for the day; the light was fading anyhow.
That bit of stitching was short because it wasn't until the third bra that it occurred to me to do the difficult seam first, before the bra is sewn into a tube. When making the first row of stitching for the flat-felled seam, I switch to a maximum-length stitch when I get to the place that's to be left open for the elastic. The two rows of top-stitching are divided into two parts, one row smooth-turning into the other on each side of the opening. When side-seaming the third bra, I realized that if one presses the seam first, one can work the top-stitching entirely from the wrong side, as two U-shaped rows. This actually looks neater on the right side than stitching worked from the right side.
First I had to learn not to press my flat-fell seams, then I had to learn that sometimes you press them. No rule can be blindly applied without regard for the situation!
I hem the opening, of course. The turn-under is turned under again, a tad more than a sixteenth of an inch, making a hem a tad less than an eighth of an inch wide — my quarter-inch turn-unders appear to be a bit skimpy. To minimize hang-ups when slipping a bodkin through, I stitched as close to the edge as humanly possible, wearing magnifying glasses and turning the handwheel stitch by stitch. On two of the bras, I hemmed the pressed turn-up before stitching the seam, then creased the other side over the basting and hemmed it before top-stitching. On the third bra, I forgot to hem the back before sewing the seam, and discovered that having the front sewn to it didn't inconvenience me the least, and that way I could hem the other side while I was still in hemming mode.
Lessee — yesterday I finished the first set of side seams, started the third, pressed the seam in progress, pressed the hems of the two side-seamed bras, pressed three creases into the four-inch pieced of bias I cut for the armholes, and ironed two shirts. (One mine, one his.)
This morning I finished the side seams of the third bra, put two rows of stitching into the hems of the two bras — leaving the two rows of stitching that will divide each hem into three casings until the third bra is also ready — cut the bias strip along the creases to make four pieces of bias tape, and draped the bra and the tape over the ironing board, intending to press this afternoon.
Now it's lunch time, followed by a nap.
One strip *will* do two armholes — and it's way past time I measured the armholes to find out how much tape I need — how many of these things have I made *and* worn out without obtaining that information? Ah! I just did measure them: there are fourteen inches of tape left, and the original strips are one yard and thirty inches — (66" - 14")/2 — 26 inches per armhole.
42" times the square root of two is 59.3". Could this tape have stretched seven inches?
The other two tapes measure a yard twenty-eight each. ?? It's naptime.
I used one of the 1 yd. 28" pieces for the second bra, and had eleven inches left. That almost makes sense.
And the other one left twelve inches — and the 1 yd. 30" piece now measures 1 yd. 28 1/2". (It was 1 yd. 29" the first time I measured it.)
That's why I get all chirpy and twittery when something works out the way I planned it.
Anyhow, a yard and a half of bias tape will do a pair of armholes.
I need nine thirty-inch pieces of quarter-inch elastic. That's nine half-feet less than nine yards, which is a foot and a half less than eight yards. I haven't measured the little coil in the elastic box, but I'm sure it isn't that much. Time to buy another ten-yard piece.
Rashly assuming good weather, Monday will be a good time to go to Lowery's; I need some other stuff out that way too. Which neatly works with the deadline I've set myself: have these bras ready for elastic insertion as a Handwork Circle job this coming Tuesday.
Once the armholes are sewn, I can stitch the flag. I was meaning to thread the Necchi with nylon thread — I was told that polyester is better at resisting sun damage, but my nylon thread is much better quality than my polyester thread. But my white nylon is in the form of bobbins: the thread is wound up in the shape of bobbins without even a cardboard core; when saw the boxful at a garage sale, I thought that so cute I had to have it (and good nylon thread is hard to come by) — but there's a good chance that the bobbins will work in the treadle, and save me winding a bobbin to be used just once for a very small job.
I wonder whether I'll find an inconspicuous core when I've used up a bobbin? May be a while; I don't know how many years I've had it, and this is the first time I've had a use for white nylon thread.
First step: press the attached bias tape as it lies. The usual explanation for doing this is "it settles the stitches", but what's happening here is that it takes the ripple out of the seam allowances, confirms the fold of the tape, and persuades the tape that it really is supposed to be the exact length of the bra it's about to be sewn down on.
I find that when I get an unwanted crease, the best method is to spray my finger and then touch the finger to the crease. Spraying directly makes a big spot that has to be ironed dry.
This also works when a wanted crease isn't quite as sharp as I'd like, as when restoring the fold of the tape where it got pressed out while opening the seam that joins the ends of the tape.
Next step is to press the seam allowances toward the tape. What really happens here is that I press a crease into the tape, by pressing around the armhole and nudging the tape away from the body with the iron.
I pressed the neck-hem of each bra before creasing the bias tape, just because it made the hem look better. In the process, I discovered that I'd sewn the tape to the wrong side of one bra so that it will be turned to the right side. <fonz> I meant to do that. </fonz>
Now to turn the bias tape to the wrong side, with a narrow streak of the right side showing on the wrong side, and pin in place — no pressing this trip!
Pity I didn't think to press the seam allowances of the one with the tape on the wrong side toward the body, so that I could fold with a narrow streak of the tape showing on the wrong side. Urrr . . . I did that so the bra would be smooth on the side next to my skin. (But all the hems are turned to the wrong side.) (Sharrup.)
I'm stitching each bra as soon as it's pinned, instead of doing all three at the same time. This economizes on pins and boredom.
It didn't matter because that one took the whole hour and a bit more. Inserting elastic doesn't look like that big a deal. But now I know why one can't buy ready-to-wear with elastic in casings — putting in three rows of quarter-inch elastic the way I did yesterday would add at least $15 to the price of a garment. A special machine for sewing the ends of the elastic together might get that down to $7.50, but $7.50 is still a deal-breaker for ordinary clothes.
I can't think of any way to mechanize running a bodkin through a casing. Putting the elastic in first and sewing the casing later would require sewing the elastic in. I suppose wash-out glue would work, but you're still certain to catch the elastic in the stitching once in a while. And we're still talking hand labor.
On the other hand, the earliest embroidery machines would push a needle into the fabric from one side, then another part of the machine would grab it and pull it on through. Some of the antique machine embroideries can be told from hand embroidery only by looking for regularly-repeated flaws. So machines can be made to do seemingly-impossible things.
Back on the first hand, none of those machines are still around, and in a world where people buy hand-loomed tartan and one of the real-lace machines is still making very expensive curtains, you'd think one of them would still — or again — be operating if it were practicable.
Whatever, the two remaining bras are finished and in the Tuesday-night bag awaiting elastic — I thought of taking one to my dental appointment Friday, but crochet is *much* easier to cram back into one's purse.
Now a little mending, and I can start trying to figure out what I'm doing with this summer dress.
There were about ten inches of my old stock of elastic left after I cut elastic for the bra I finished last Tuesday. I didn't measure after cutting six thirty-inch pieces off the ten yards I bought. I did learn, while rolling the remainder up, that there is a special machine for fusing the ends of elastic together. Though the splice looked perfectly sound, I cut the elastic into two rolls, on general principles.
Hope I don't lose another bodkin doing it. That bodkin had to be within arm's reach of where I was sitting — but it wasn't. Luckily, I'd also brought my slightly-inferior bodkin.
I've been shuffling the pants that want mending around in the sewing room, but not doing anything useful.
I have had a marvelous idea. I've been wanting linen drawers for some time. A few days ago I was thinking about how they should be calf length for long dresses, but knee length under calf-length dresses. Then I realized that I could use my knicker pattern for length, and cut them two inches longer, appliqué a piece of bias tape at the knicker hemline, and run tape through the casing. Under long dresses, the tape would be tied in a purely-ornamental bow, under short dresses I'd use it to tie the drawers under the knee. A two-inch ruffle would also hide the elastic at the tops of my stockings, making it less embarrassing when the wind blows my skirt around. (Not that there was anyone to see, out on that boat. And now I know how to tuck my skirt in and sit on it.)
And — forgive me, patient audience — I need a second pair of drawers more than I need a fourth dress. (It's beginning to look as though this dress is for *next* summer.)
I have had another marvelous idea. Since I tear my press cloths off old pillowcases, I have rather a lot of them, in all sizes and shapes. I've been for some time longing for hooks to hang them on, but didn't know where to find fine, sharp hooks (Hey! barbless fishhooks!). But sharp hooks on the wall would be dangerous — what I need is a pincushion nailed to the wall, so that I can hang the cloths up with T pins or old machine needles.
I forgot that I meant to make a pre-graded flat fell until I'd stitched a plain seam, so it was either make the classic trimmed-after-stitching flat-fell seam or pick stitches out. Turned out to be all for the good: an after-trimmed seam is narrower, and I was able to turn it the opposite way to the center seam for less lump where the seams cross. (The seam line runs down the middle of a pre-graded flat fell, so half the thick place overlaps a mock-felled seam no matter what.)
It was more serious that while I was cutting away the seam allowance of the underlining with a seam ripper, I nicked the outer fabric. I stitched back and forth over the weak place so that it couldn't ravel, and it is supported by the underlining and the seam allowance, so it should wear well enough. And the thread matches.
Perhaps I should ask DH to grind the sharp point off one of my seam rippers before I trim the other patch. Or just watch what I'm doing.
The weather has turned cool, so I'm getting around more. Baked bread in an outdoor fire today. Didn't pull any weeds — I'm so far behind that there isn't much point.
The patch was large enough that I could sew it on before picking out the old one — but not so large that I could cut the old patch out instead of unpicking it. I really, really didn't think about someday wanting that patch off when I was sewing it on!
I thought that this job would have been impossible with a same-size patch — but one can pin the new patch over the old patch, trace around it with a wash-out marker, make registration marks every inch or so all around, then unpin it and pick out the old patch. The marks would make it easy to baste the patch over a wobbly hole.
And yes, baste: pins wobble loose when you smooth an inch, stitch an inch — and stick you besides.
My new leg board worked great for basting the patch onto the pants, but I need to ask DH to turn on his belt sander so I can round the corners and smooth the edges.
Way back when, I made a board for assembling banners by having the nice fellow at Carter Lumber cut eight inches off the edge of a piece of cabinet-grade plywood, and took the scrap too — no telling when such a thing will come in handy. DH used some of it for little projects, then I had him cut off a piece to shove under banners lying on plastic tables when we want to iron a spot — though that turned out to be something that we had needed before we acquired a banner board.
Then a few days ago I realized that the piece that was left — almost two inches more than a yard — would be just right for shoving into a pants leg when I want to press or baste one side without affecting the other.
So now I have used it and it works, so I'd better complete it. (I said "finish it", but it's important that wood used for sewing be unfinished, so "finish" is confusing.) "Complete" isn't right either, because I'm taking away and "complete" suggests adding.
This morning, I used a fine sanding sponge to clean the surfaces, which had accumulated a little dirt in storage.
This time I put the short finger of the seam ripper between the basting and the stitching when I cut off the seam allowance of the underlining. It not only removed the possibility of cutting the twill, it didn't take as much force to push the cutting edge through the muslin. I presume that that was because the ball on the short finger stretched the muslin and held it taut.
It was harder to get started ripping off the old patch, but went reasonably once I got to where I could peel back the old patch and push my seam ripper through all four rows of stitches at once.
I somehow got to the stage of ripping out the old patch without noticing that I'd ironed on a piece of woven interfacing, and hand-overcast around it. I did notice, from the right side, that the fabric was pulled at the seam and white showed through, but didn't think about it.
I couldn't see the stitches from the right side even though I knew where to look. I chortled, "Man, am I good!", but it's owing entirely to the soft and fuzzy thread this twill is woven from.
Both "oakwood" pants are now hanging in the closet. This takes some of the urgency off making up the unbleached linen I just bought. I haven't worn either yet — it's a bit past the season to need them, and I don't want to wear this fragile twill on long walks. Also, I forget that I have them.
Which linen do I choose for my drawers? I have white, black, scarlet, embroidered white rayon blend, houndstooth print, "petal pink" cotton blend, assorted prints, two shades of orange (the lighter is a piece of the darker that was washed with bleach), another embroidered white, and some unbleached gray I just bought to make summer jeans.
Unbleached fabric is traditional for underwear, but I'd have to cut both pairs of jeans at the same time as the knickers to get all three pieces out of it. (And I might find out that it didn't quite fit.)
The houndstooth print is the best quality linen, but the black spots showed through my shirts when I had houndstooth-print bras. (And the black dye is also of extremely-high quality. Bleach doesn't touch it, and worn-out garments are only slightly faded despite harsh washing and sun drying.)
The petal pink is pretty, but I cringed at the thought of pink underwear long before the current obsession with pink, pink, pinkety pink pink as the only possible color for females put me off pink everywhere.
Lumpily-embroidered fabric would be right out even if these two didn't require very strenuous ironing, and I'm saving the prints for dresses — not to mention that I don't think any of the prints harmonize with any of my dresses. (Well, all of them would harmonize with the black dress, but I wear black trousers under it.)
Of three pieces of black linen, one is too heavy (and, perhaps, too small), one is a hanky linen I'm saving for my next round of bra-making, one is a cotton-linen blend left over from making cycling knickers. I thought to make semi-dressy hot-weather trousers from it; there's enough for both, but again I'd have to cut both at once, and I'm not all that keen on black drawers.
That leaves me where I came in: the white linen that turned out to be a tad coarse for bras, but just right for drawers.
Now, how do I finish the lower edge?
I want the bottom edge to have the spirit of lace, but not actually be lace. Had I an embroidery machine, I'd embroider scallops around the edge and then trim close to the stitching.
Considered faced dags, with the facing turned to the right side — perhaps in a contrasting fabric — and wide enough to form the casing for the drawstring. Too thick for a ruffle.
Considered the rolled hem I put around the neck of my silk shirt, secured by a tight wrapping of contrast thread every half inch, so as to pull it into scallops. But that's too subtle, too stiff, and too much work.
This morning I dug down to my box of trims — which was exactly where I thought it was; wish I could say the same for the scratch pad I've been taking notes for my online class on. There is a bit of slightly-gathered eyelet that would be just perfect, but only enough for one leg. Three very narrow laces, two of them coarse enough to harmonize with the linen — but I really, really don't want to need to iron my underwear.
Loads and loads of rick-rack — when did I buy rickrack? — I'd started to sort out some sixteenth-inch pink, thinking it would look like topstitching, when I realized that if I chose a quarter-inch rick-rack, I could use it to cover the raw edge of the hem. The red and the blue are pretty, but this pale pink would sort of fade into the white, compensating for the width. Pale, pale blue would be better, but I haven't any blue lighter than royal. It's dirty, but pre-washing is a good idea anyway.
So it's soaking in a pint of soapy water in a pint-and-a-half jar, and getting shaken whenever I walk through the kitchen. Looks clean as viewed through the water, but I intend to soak again in laundry soap, and a third time in Oxy-Clean. I've got plenty of time before it's needed.
Here it is nap time and I haven't even opened out the table so I can work. But I did find my knicker pattern and cut two pieces of newsprint off the roll.
I included the pocket-placement marks; You never know when you might want to conceal a handkerchief or a passport in your underwear.
I wonder whether there will be enough rick-rack to trim the pockets? I put it in a jar with dish soap last night, then this morning rinsed it and put it to soak in laundry soap. After a while I added a drop of bleach (diluting it first) and left it fifteen minutes, because I would like the pink even paler. It appears to be a very good quality of dye.
Then I rinsed until it stopped foaming when shaken, and added a drop of vinegar to kill the bleach — whereupon it started foaming again. Fifteen minutes later I rinsed again and put it to soak with ammonia (that really foams!), where it still is.
At which point I had to get up for something so I rinsed it — absent-mindedly pouring the ammonia water down the drain instead of taking it outside to a hungry plant — and rolled it in a towel. I've got a yard and fifteen inches, I need a tad under four feet.
I think I'll center the knot-space of the casing over the side-seam, which will save lumps. But sew it on after assembling the drawers, and not leave a gap at the inseam as I did for the side seams of my linen jersey.
I plan to cut the linen today. First I've got to cut off the tuck selvages and add them to my linen-tape box.
I've got the stuff laid out on the picnic table, but may have to open out the eating table and bring it in — the wind is picking up. And rain is predicted for this afternoon.
The selvages measured a little over four and a half nose-pinch yards. I probably bought four yards back when Phoenix was selling by the meter and calling them yards.
Once they were off, the question arose: do I hang them up with the left-over linen and forget I have them when I want tape, or do I put them with the tape and lose the connection with the fabric they came from?
One of the pieces of black linen I rejected has an invoice for two yards of lightweight linen and two yards of hankyweight linen pinned to it, and the word "hanky" embroidered on it with basting thread and the fly-stitch alphabet. The only note with the linen I'm cutting is "pure linen March 2004".
So I embroidered this-way-up, this-is-the-wrong-side arrows on the fabric and one of the selvages — it was too late to mark the other selvage and be sure it would match — and then embroidered ZOO4 on all three pieces.
And then bethought me that when the coil of selvage is used, I must either cut off the label or unroll the whole five yards to take from the other end.
Embroidering was a royal pain, as the thread kept tangling because I was trying to see that every stitch on the back side held the beginning end of the thread down. Now is a fine time to realize that I should have left it long enough to thread into a needle and slide under when the stitching was done.
Or I could have knotted the end: this embroidery will never be washed — knots are just fine!
The drawers are not so much cut out as cut off. I didn't want to open the eating table, so I used the picnic table, and what with the heat and the wind and it already raining in Chicago (though the rain veered north and never did get here. A different storm did hit us well after dark.) —
I was in a bit of a hurry, so as soon as each piece came off the main piece, I brought it in and laid it on the cedar chest. The side seam on each remains untrimmed, and both front and back need to be marked.
Then I cut out a do-rag and two patch pockets. I've been wearing my spouse's black cotton do-rag under my helmet, and I think that I would like white linen much better. I don't think I'll get it done before time to go back to wearing a scarf, though. It was almost cool enough to wear a scarf today.
I'm hoping that a recycled name tag will be thinner than a new one.
I was wondering how to transition from a mock-fell seam in the cap to a hem on the dangling tail. My first idea was to make the seam flat-fell instead of mock-fell — but no matter how you slice it, the seam allowance of the side piece has to lie on top of the seam allowance of the strip down the middle.
But I can still use the idea of creasing the first fold of the hem before sewing the seam — just taper the fold out to nothing at the mark where the end of the side piece comes instead of making it the full length of the middle strip.
There's an entirely different feel to making a do-rag from white linen — at times I felt that I was working on a nurse's cap. The design is nearly a duplicate of the surgeon's cap worn with scrubs before poofy disposable caps came into style. (There was no tail on a surgeon's cap, and it tied with tape instead of having a band.
The pressing ham was a major help in pressing the seams before mock-felling them, and now it's serving again as a head form to keep the cap from getting creased before I get around to the next step.
I pressed because I wanted to continue the mock-fell stitching as top stitching down the hems of the tail, which meant working from the wrong side. Then that row came out a bit too wide — there were places where the raw edge might escape — so I ran another row from the right side, and continued it as edge stitching down the side hems of the tail. Since the fabric is linen, two rows are probably a good idea anyway. The blue plaid held up fine with only one row, but doesn't look as neat on the inside as the cotton do-rags do.
Meant to stay up to sew the hems in the pockets and sew them to the drawers, but the machine ran out of bobbin thread, so I knocked off for lunch. Then stayed up anyway to write this.
After supper I wound the bobbin, hemmed the pockets, sewed a name tape to one, and attached them to the backs — all the way thinking that there is something really, really cool about working with white linen.
Also attached the right front to the right back and the left front to the left back, which is as far as I can go without heating up the iron, so I knocked off for the night. Since my knickers are a bit hard to pull on, I used a significantly smaller seam allowance than is marked on the pattern. This linen is stretchier than the cotton-linen blend the knickers are made of, and I don't have any problem with the muslin drawers I made to test the knickers pattern, but narrow seams are daintier.
Prolly go riding tomorrow, so I'd best be careful where I put the pieces. Only three pieces now: the cap is all in one piece, and the drawers are in two.
I wonder whether I can come up with an excuse to wear the cap and the drawers together?
I'd like to take more of the scraps and make a tennis hat (sloop hat, Gilligan hat).
One thing I won't make from this fabric is a bra to match the drawers.
Side seams of drawers are finished. Now, do I sew the inseams, then sew left and right together, or sew the center seams and then sew front and back together?
With the ruffle and the plus-four at the knee (it may be plus six), these legs are nearly as long as jeans legs, so I think that flat-felling the inseams in two pieces wins.
Pity the finished garment won't look this good — no way I'm going to iron my underwear!
When sewing the side seams, I learned that transverse pins are better than seam-line pins at maintaining the precise degree of overlap.
When pressing and top-stitching, I learned that it's easier for a narrower allowance left on top of the folded allowance to tuck itself under than it is for a narrower allowance that has been tucked under the folded allowance to pull itself out and lie on top. In other words, it's easier to keep a seam consistent from one end to the other if I tuck the narrower allowance under the fold. A seam ripper is convenient for accomplishing this. (Later found that the embroidery scissors I use for snipping threads works better — not so sharp, and thick enough that pushing it under the flap pops it out.)
Folks who suggest pressing the seam as it lies before pressing in any creases always say "to settle the stitches", and they do become less conspicuous. It's more important, I think, that this pressing removes ripples and puckers before they can be sewn in. And, in the case of a pre-graded flat-felled seam, it confirms the crease of the turn-under.
I should make a blurb for Rough Sewing's front page, or for the ironing-tools section, that says "First you have to learn that pressing makes a difference, then you have to learn that sometimes you don't want that difference, then you have to learn that some of those sometimes you want it after all."
If you want to switch your mind off and sew, you need a supervisor. Fortunately, you can supervise yourself.
It's down to the finishing: top-stitch the center seam, make the casing for the waist elastic, make the casing for the drawstrings — I've cut off a strip of cotton-linen blend and boiled it — and hem the legs.
But the dresses I plan to wear them with are pretty close to floor length, so that should work out. And I can always bip into the ladies' room and tie the drawstrings.
I'm making things so dainty and delicate that I'm having second thoughts about the twill tape I was planning to use for drawstrings.
When finishing the center seam, I forgot to tuck the raw edge under after confirming the creases and before pressing to one side. This worked out anyhow; the only problem was that a few ravellings poked out of the seam, and dealing with that is easier than popping the fold out, tucking the other raw edge under, and re-confirming the creases. I guess the main thing is to do a really good job of pressing.
Probably also helped that there was a little more overlap in this seam, so it was harder for the underneath edge to pop out.
When I was pressing the inseams, I reached for my sleeve board, then remembered that I have a leg board now. It worked even better than I had hoped.
I've always had to crease from the right side before pressing seam allowances to one side; otherwise, the crease that I can't see wanders all over. But with a long straight edge to pull against, I was able to keep the crease right up against the stitching by pulling on the fabric.
So when I pressed the center seam, I used 6 1/2" by 21" piece of plywood that happened to be around in the same way. Worked great, though I had to press in installments on account of the curve.
And this piece of plywood was still around when I pressed the pink strip that will become casings for the drawstrings.
I'd cut off a smidgeon more than an inch across the width of the fabric, and my first thought was to turn under a quarter inch on each side and top-stitch near the edge. I'd pressed one edge and started the other when I thought it would be better to turn under an eighth of an inch, then make a second round of top-stitching a quarter inch from the fold, completely enclosing the raw edge. And I think the casing will gather more gracefully, too. So I sprayed it with water and pressed the creases out and started over.
First side folded easily; I didn't even have to finger-pinch the crease in first — an advantage of folding the way the threads want to — but as I tried to press the other edge, nothing could stop the iron from unfolding portions of the first edge and pressing in wrinkles. Eventually I noticed the piece of plywood and laid the edge I wanted to crease on it, with the edge I didn't want to crease dangling off, and that made this side even easier.
Remains to be done: one elastic casing, two drawstring casings, two hems.
The waist casing on the knickers made from the pattern I used to design these drawers is 5/8". Since that was turned under a quarter inch and this is turned under only an eighth, I should turn 3/4" for the casing, and stitch a second time a quarter inch from the fold. That leaves enough room to make a quarter-inch ruffle, if I scant both quarter inches to allow ease in the remaining quarter-inch channel. I'm of two minds as to whether to do it. I think that I did on my muslin drawers, but they are soaking in soapy water at the moment.
Dedication: I ran the washer until the drawers came to the top. It's only an eighth-inch ruffle, incidental to using a bias facing instead of a hem to form the casing, on account of not cutting the pattern high enough in the back. (These were a beta for the cycling knickers.)
I think I will use the ruffle. It's daintier than a round edge.
Used cotton twill tape for the drawstrings. I have some 3/8" tape that would have been perfect, but there wasn't enough to make one drawstring, so I used a somewhat poorer quality 1/2" tape — it rumpled some going into the casing, but drawstrings always end up rumpled anyway. I cut it just long enough to tie in a square knot when the leg was flat, after verifying that that was enough to go around my popliteal and tie in a bow. But after threading it into the casing, I couldn't quite tie the knot. So I left the ends dangling when I tried it on, then tried it tied under the knee. When I went to stretch the leg flat again, whoop-whoop-whoop one of these ends is bound to pull back inside the casing and I'll have the whole threading thing to do again, so I tied the ends together — and once flat, the knot was just right and I left it that way.
I didn't get around to hemming the legs until Friday. To my pleased surprise, an exact number of ricks and racks went around the leg, so that I could make a nearly invisible join just by overlapping half a repeat. I sewed three times: first securing the very tips of the bottom zigs — magnifying glasses were a big help — again down the middle, and the third time securing the top points. So it shouldn't show, and the white thread blends into the white linen.
I folded up half an inch, and laid the rick-rack on with just the tips of the threads of the raw edge showing at each dip.
And no, I'm not inspired to use this hem somewhere that it shows.
And the panty-hose I wore instead aren't at all comfortable — when will stocking makers find out that thighs are bigger than ankles?
Attempted to repair a flat tire yesterday — have to buy a rim strip before proceeding, and I'm going to buy a new tube instead of patching the old one.
This reminded me that I've been needing a new roll-kit for my emergency tools for ages. I wonder where I put the scraps from my black nylon wind pants?
Bias tape had been sewn to the front of the neck and basted down, with an end of the eye tape caught in the seam before the eye tape was basted into place.
The other piece of bias had been pinned to the back of the neck. I puzzled over how I could catch the hook tape in a sharply-slanted seam, then rolled the work back on the cardboard tube and closed the table.
Some time later, I folded under the ends of the tape, folded the seam allowance down over the tape, and sewed the tape to the neck. When the work was turned right-side out, the finished ends of the tape covered the raw ends of the seam allowance.
Today I'm basting the hook tape over the raw edge of the seam allowance, with the end next the neck folded under, and the other end sticking out to be caught when the sleeve (which is yet to be cut out) is sewn on. I haven't figured out how this jibes with flat-felled seams. I suspect that I will have to finish the edges of the seam allowances instead.
Or I could use french seams — I used to do that when I made perma-press shirts for DH.
The basting is slightly complicated by the need to ease the back shoulder onto the front shoulder. It's only an eighth of an inch, so easing the back onto the hook tape wasn't difficult.
When I get the other strip basted on, I can hook the shoulders together and try the tunic on to see whether I really can get in and out with hooks and eyes in the shoulder seams. And verify that I've sewn the tape in such fashion that the edges meet without gaps, but don't pooch up conspicuously.
Then I have to buy some navy-blue thread before things get any forwarder. Pity I don't have it already, as I think I'm going to have to sew the tapes on by hand, and it would be pleasant to do it while I have somebody to talk to at the shoot-out tomorrow.
When I tried them on, I thought I'd allowed too much ease in the knees, but they are just right.
On the other hand, I made the elastic too loose. Not loose enough that I'm going to open the casing and cut out an inch, but I intend to note on the pattern that it should be 39" instead of 40".
Egad. I recall when a waist "a yard around" was enormous. I could be slim again — if I spent six hours a day training for the September Century again. No fun once you've proven that you can do it — can't get up the same enthusiasm for proving that I can still do it.
I made the eye tape by sewing the eyes to stick out a little beyond the edge of the selvage; If I do this again, I'll sew them a quarter inch from a folded edge, and fold the selvage up to cover the stitching. That would be easier to hook, and would put a fly under the placket.
Of course, that has the wrong side of the selvage showing. Ah, leave the selvage flat and sew so that the fold of the seam covers the stitching of the eyes! And the selvage makes a nice thin finished edge to sew down.
After basting, I tried it on. It isn't as neat as I'd hoped, but looked better than the first time I tried it on. And hooking the shoulder wasn't as difficult as I'd expected. Of course, when the side seams are sewn I'll have to hook both shoulders after putting the tunic on.
Oddly, one shoulder needed to be eased quite a lot, the other not at all. Perhaps I picked the first one up by the raw edge and stretched it. I'm pretty sure I know better than that, but these pieces have been kicking around for a long time.
I forget what day I didn't post "I've finished the front — at least I would have if my thread had been an inch longer." I was still trying to thread that tiny #10 needle when the clock chimed that it was time to cook.
Yesterday I took the work to Handwork Circle, finished that inch, stuck a needle into the back, then felt tired and went home — discovering, when I went outside, that the sun was setting: it had been bad light that made me feel that it was time to go home.
16 October 2011 Last week I cut an inch out of the elastic of my linen drawers, and later on repaired the casing. The tiny turn-under had frayed clear into the fold at one point, so I overcast-hemmed instead of top-stitching as I usually do.
Wore them today and they were more comfortable. As I was getting dressed, they tickled my calves, so I tied the drawstrings even though I planned to wear a long, full dress, wondering in the meantime if it was because I was wearing a different slip.
Later on, I wondered whether I'd be able to pull my knee hose high enough when I already had my drawers on. It was much, much later that I put these two observations together.
I've been ignoring the discussion of Pam Erny's wonderful new interfacing because I never make collars or cuffs, and probably wouldn't want them crisp if I did. But in wishing that I had access to the pockets I could feel through the side-seam pockets of my silk dress today, I realized that I'm going to need some SuperCrisp or whatever it's called. (It will be fun finding out because I don't remember which mailing list was discussing it.)
I don't want to put pockets in the tunic of my fall suit, because they would drag it out of shape if I actually used them. I might install a handkerchief pocket, but I'm definitely going to need access to the pockets in the slacks. And hiking up a knee-length tunic isn't the most graceful thing ever done in dress-up clothes.
So I have to put pocket slits in the side seams. After considerable thought, this will be easy: leave a gap in the flat-felled seam by much the same technique that I've been using to make elastic casings for my bras. But I'll need to finish the underneath part of the seam with a fly that extends out under the front, to cover my underwear when I open the slit by putting my hand into it. And this flag must be stiff to maintain its position. The new interfacing will be perfect for this purpose. So I'm going to need another virtual credit-card number.
I'll also need some Wonderbond to secure tape over the other side of the opening, but I can buy that locally. Quality isn't as important here, because it will be mostly stitching that holds it in place.
Who'd have thought I'd come around to using glue in my sewing?
I noticed a place where the stitching on the neck-hem of one of my white bras had broken and allowed the raw edge to fray. I'd better repair that before it starts a tear, thought I to me — but when I set out to do it, I discovered that the stitching hadn't given — the fabric had worn through. And all around the back. Now that you mention it, I do notice the edge of the neck-hem moving on my back, and don't feel any of the other edges of the bra.
This is the first time a neck-hem has worn out before the support part of the bra gave way, so now I'm trying to remember whether my white bras were the first to have hemmed necks instead of bias-faced necks. I don't think so, but all of the older bras have been cut up for rags.
So yesterday I picked all the stitching out and pressed the fabric flat, and today I snipped off the worn fabric.
So I've finally applied the rim tape I bought right after I noticed that the rim strip on the front wheel was shot, and when I've got the casing back on and installed the tube and swapped the good wheel for the schraeder wheel (which is perfectly good, but incompatible with my emergency repair kit), I can tackle the tougher job of taking the back wheel off. Which I mention here because this chore has made me remember that I need a new roll-pouch for my tools. And that in turn has made me remember that my stash is very, very short on pure-synthetic fabrics.
I suspect that Cordura doesn't come in fat quarters.
I need to design a shell — twenty or thirty years back there was a fad for cropped, cap-sleeved, tight-fitting T-shirts and I bought several for underwear. The last of them is developing little round holes, and getting washed a lot more often than the tight wool jersey I wear over it. (Which is why I wear it of course; it really ought to be washed after every ride.)
The first thing I notice in examining it is that it's significantly longer in front than in back. Ready-mades are *always* shorter in front on me, on account of the humongous gazongas that run in my family, so this is very curious.
In feeling around, I see that the seam between body and sleeve is well up into my armpit, so the first thing I need to do is to reduce the size of the armhole quite a lot.
I plan to start with my pattern for interlock T-shirts, and remove still more ease. I have interlock in my stash, and a fabric thicker and stretchier than jersey is appropriate for a sweat-soaker.
I didn't bother finding the sleeves I'd used with this front and back, since I want to start over using the Fashion Incubator sleeve. (I could also call it the Vintage Sewing sleeve, since it was featured in the old books I've read on the Web.)
The pattern said I'd used it for a mock turtleneck, so I tried that on and found that I need to raise the armholes the width of two fingers, which turns out to be an inch and a half. I can also take it in up to four inches.
Off to open the table — only by the drop leaf, for drafting. I won't need the four extra leaves until I start cutting. And to wash the table thoroughly, and dry it, and cut two pieces of paper off my roll of newsprint and fold them in half.
When lining the fold of the pattern up with the fold of the paper, I realized that if I made a mark at each end and lined up the marks instead of the fold, there would be two of the inches I want to take out right there.
So I tried the turtleneck on again, and yes, it can spare a half inch of shoulder seam. So I made two marks at each end of the fold. I shall trace the neck, shoulder and hem with one mark, then shift to the other mark and trace the shoulder, armhole, and side seam, then true up the shoulder seam before altering the armhole and dart. After reading a thread on Creative Machine, I'm inclined to use a French dart. Might even carve a slight dent in the back to match the indentation created by the dart.
Urrr . . . how does one make the legs of a french dart the same length? Make the lower leg straight and the upper leg curved? Ah, put a jog in the side seam which the dart will take out.
But all this must happen after my nap. I'm grocery shopping after supper, so this project may not get far today.
especially since I haven't gotten around to putting the tube inside the casing I finally put back on my front wheel — and there's another tire to repair on the back wheel of the bike.
Both wheels went back into service Friday night, and got a thorough test ride on Saturday.
Shopping by bike today, wearing an old everyday shirt under my jersey. It shows at the neck, wads a bit under the arms, and wrinkles over the shoulders.
Today I cut off the neckband, then cut the stitching off the neckband and sewed it back on — being careful to change the needle first, and change it back when finished. I was a little bit surprised when using the same neckband on the bigger hole worked — though it did take a little fussing to make it fit.
The neck-hole isn't all that much bigger than it was, and I won't have to wear a scarf with it.
I had to pin three times to fold the band under after straight-stitching it to the right side. First I pinned the fold where the band turned up to the seam allowances — this was easier than pressing, and on knits pressing doesn't always work.
Then around again with right-angle pins to fold the band to the back evenly. My first plan was to fold it over just the seam allowances, as a hong-kong binding, but arranging it to suit the stripes made it come out half an inch wide, which suits a T-shirt better anyway. It lies nice and flat against my chest, which the old one didn't.
Then a third time to insert seamline pins and take out all of the right-angle pins and most of the fold-securing pins.
I tried to stitch with half the zig-zag on the band and half on the body. Only an invisible amount ended up on the body, but this was enough to keep the stitching flat and not scroonched the way it is when I try to stitch just the fold. On a wider band, I'd have stitched inside the fold, just close enough to it to be sure the seam allowances were securely caught.
It's this second round of stitching which actually holds the band on, but I used ecru 100/6 for the straight-stitching anyway, and changed to greyish-tan 50/3 for the topstitching. I briefly thought of using ecru for both, but the other seams and the hem were topstitched with 50/3.
Today: time to cut out the beta for the undershirt. This piece of interlock is too small for the undershirt, but maybe I can get a couple of pairs of briefs out of it — nope, only two backs and a front. Could get one pair, but I'd have to cut the tube open instead of just flopping it down on the table and laying out; set that back for later.
So I got the big piece of interlock down. This tube was cut open at the factory. Doesn't have the ribbing-like stretch of the other; I may have put too much negative ease into the pattern. But this *is* an innermost layer; it might work, and if it doesn't, I'll finish it up without sleeves — I'm not designing the sleeves until after I see how the armholes fit — and give it to the Goodwill store. The fabric is a yard and a half wide, and I have nearly five yards of it. I can afford to experiment.
But of course if I use it up and buy more, I'll have to do the fitting all over again. But I should have an adequate supply of undershirts by the time I finish fitting.
So I cut four inches off the bottoms of the front and back, figuring that the hem and takeup from cross-wise stretching would be ample to prevent the undershirt from showing.
And all the rest happened in 2012.
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