28 June, 2016

Boys Grow Up

This is my boy.

Celebrating in style after completing his Pharmacy Doctorate Program from OSU (Oregon State University).

Out of a class of just over 100 graduates this year, OSU and OHSU (Oregon Health Sciences University) gave away ten awards to twelve of the graduates. My son was given the Most Outstanding Graduate of the entire class.

He has been president of his class, been active in the pharmacy fraternity, attended numerous pharmaceutical conferences and events, helped produce a winning film for OSU about the pharmacy program. He also helped get legislation passed that allows Oregon Pharmacists to dispense birth control to women.

Above and beyond that, he has a mom who has an auto-immune disease. He has seen me actively seek tests and information so I can be as functional as possible. His education, just like medical doctors leans heavily on drugs to help symptoms. He knows I would like to be drug-free for as long as possible and has acknowledged that my naturopath and voodoo hippie doc (chiropractor) have identified what is wrong with my immune system where traditional doctors have failed miserably.

He has seen my awkward health journey and has worked to incorporate it into his training.
He will be doing his residency closer to home next year (residencies are optional) and is very excited to finally be out of school.

 I am so proud to be his mom. He is amazing.

Central Oregon

26 June, 2016

Little White Purse

I know someone who is attending a wedding next week. I felt like sewing a small purse with a cross-body strap that would go with anything.

A purse that could hold the essentials including the all important phone with camera.

It does look bridal - maybe too bridal white.
I lined it with pale pink cotton.

There is a lace zippered pocket in front for 'valuables'.
Behind that is a slip pocket for the phone.
And behind that the main pocket of the bag.
Everything from stash (yay!)

20 June, 2016

Random Humming



Putting up the berries.


Got the kid graduated.

I go into my sewing room and pull fabrics for my next project, then I get interrupted.

I go into my sewing room with another project in mind, pull fabrics and zippers, and get interrupted.

I have five projects pulled, pattern picked, too much to do.

Strawberry Moon - I saw it this morning. Summer solstice.

Riding my bike to work this week - no rain, not super hot. It takes time.

See me on Instagram - RocketGirl50

06 June, 2016

New T-Shirt

It's been a thousand degrees here in Oregon. I succumbed to the air conditioner and set up the fans so I could sew.

Rusty, our very old Lab, has been suffering, needing to pace at night, so what with the heat and not getting enough sleep, I started this shirt in the morning and finished it after my two movie snooze fest.

 The original tshirt was a Walmart wonder. I bought it online, sight unseen, because I needed five bucks more to get free shipping.

 I loved the blue 'camo' but it pilled asap and took on underarm odor after working in it on Saturdays. The blue ikat color was flattering to me. However, the neckline was a tad wide and I was always hiking it back up the shoulder bump.

The neck opening was cut nicely where I can show some chest but not have all my assets on view. I rarely sew t shirts from commercial sewing patterns as the necklines are either too high or way too low. This one was just right.

When it was  time to dispose of this shirt to the rag bin, I knew I wanted to draft a pattern. The body of the t-shirt extends past the shoulder bump and has cuffs folded back so your upper arms don't get burnt. It was also cut perfectly to skim over my lumps and bumps despite being a tissue-weight knit.

For the back side - which roughly matched the front side, I laid the shirt carefully on my Swedish tracing paper and traced around. All the seams are serged - as is most RTW (ready--to-wear) so I didn't need to add seam allowances.

For the front side, I cut up the side seams carefully and snipped through the under arm area. Then I flipped the back side out of the way to do my tracing.

Invariably, since knits stretch, you are going to skew up the tracing. Not too mention this item has been worn out and stretched. To make sure my neckline and sleeves and hem were 'even', I folded my tracing fabric pattern in half lengthwise and trimmed until both sides matched.

 The only 'alteration I did was to draw the neckline in a quarter of an inch so it wouldn't be as wide and show my bra straps.

You can barely make out my copious thought-notes on the tracing fabric. I may make this again and I will have forgotten any cool stuff when that time comes. Best to put it down on paper.

This is when I realized my knees hurt from the wood floor, My knees were sticking to the floor and my swedish tracing paper and I neglected to set up a fan here. 100 degrees. We Oregonians are puddles of whining and complaining. Off I went to the couch for a snooze fest.

 I bought this blue-grey tie-dye knit from Helsinki, Finland four years ago when we visited my host-families and friends and my husband re-united with lots of cousins.

 Eurokangas is a big department store with lots of fabrics. I have another thin knit with mini red stripes percolating in stash.

I had bought 1.3 meters which was just enough to get both front & back lengths top to bottom.
I had to trim off 1/2" from the back because it was that tight. Lots of scraps left over for neck binding and armhole banding plus numerous scraps to determine serger and coverstitch settings.

In fact, this is how I buy yardage without a pattern nearby. I can't fit both front and back sides next to each other. Thus, you need to lay out your pieces in tandem (Ha! airplane lingo  - one in front of the other). You need to buy from neckline to hem times two, which equals two lengths.
If there were a sleeve, then you would also add in a rough sleeve length to your calculated yardage.

 How cute are these sleeve cuffs? Just a band of fabric sewn to the 'armhole' then doubled back over and tacked in place.

Neckline bands are the second hardest part of sewing a t-shirt.

There is an art to getting it to be the right length and stretching it just right. The figure I have heard is 10% less than the neck opening. My neckline measured 31 inches. Thus, the band would be 3 inches shorter (3.1 to be exact).
Then you want the band to lie flat against your skin so most of the stretching would be in the front center and arcing around those curves and again on the back of the neck. My front wobbles a bit, meaning, I needed a bit more stretching right there. But hey, this is a t-shirt and I am not a perfectionist. Good to go.

The back neckline needed stabilizing and I had already sewn around once to top-stitch the band in place. Instead of using the selvedge of the knit, I used some small rickrack and sewed it down on the line of stitching I already had sewn.

One of the reasons to stabilize that back neck is because the shirt hangs from this area and this area will stretch out over time. I could have put clear elastic there but I thought it would be scratchier than the rickrack. I did use the clear elastic in the shoulder seams to stabilize there.

The most difficult part is hemming.

I'd already sewn everything else and knew this would be squirrely. While this knit is not a tissue-weight, its still thin.

I took some scraps and used some ultra-thin Stitch witchery (iron-on webbing) to see if i could stabilize this area without making it stiff. It seemed to work so I got the cover stitch  out - the machine that makes twin rows of stitching - like on all RTW clothing.

I haven't used my coverstitch in a long while so it might have been faster just to stitch the hem on my regular machine than the time it took to figure out the settings that would work on my chosen knit. Except, my regular machine would not be stretchy enough for the wear this shirt will receive.

I also used tissue paper strips underneath so my machine wouldn't grab the stretchy knit. Which helped a little. (Instead of tearing the strips off by hand, I threw this into the washing machine to dissolve the paper. Removing it by hand would have compromised my horrible coverstitch stitching)
I'm not particularly happy with how this hemmed. It skipped some stitching, tried to start gathering instead of moving forward evenly. I'm not sure how much the squirrely knit had to do with it and how much my machine knowledge needs tuning up. Pencil Girl? You better come over here....

A shout-out to Vacuuming The Lawn:
Most knits do not stretch evenly in all directions.  I had taken note when my blogging friend, Kyle, who is a wee bit of a perfectionist, said that the settings on her serger were different when stitching in the stretchy direction and the other direction with less stretch. This really helped with this squirrely knit.

I think the blue in the original shirt was more flattering. My freckles aren't vivid enough yet for this cooler blue.

Frizz-curls from working already this morning.

30 May, 2016

There Was Sewing Done

 I made a similar book bag
a few weeks ago and immediately received an order for another.
This customer wanted elephants inside the tote.

I was looking for a blue kokka elephant fabric for the inside lining but had to settle on this pasha elephant instead. I believe I have some blue elephants but they may be airplanes instead. Zowie - there goes my mental mindkeeping. I'm almost certain they are inside my sewing room hiding in plain site.

https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0179/1119/products/elephants-blue-nancy-wolff-kokka-japanese-fabric_large.jpg?v=1352781005 haha - here they are. they can't hide forever...

 The book tote is completely reversible so she can put her big books out there or throw the elephants around.

I had some Yoko Saito books come through my library queue and I'm enjoying thumbing through for inspiration. My blogging friend, Mrs. N,  is learning to do Japanese patchwork and I thought to do some myself.

I had to work today for a few hours. I'm very proud of myself - I rode my bike into town and back. Its just over 3 miles to my work place. I need to do this more often. My schedule changes so much and it's difficult to predict. I don't want to be on my busy roads at twilight.
I could always bike in, and if I need to, call my hubby to come pick me up.

We celebrated Memorial Day yesterday with BBQ baby back ribs, baked beans and potato salad.
The weather has been much cooler than a year ago when we were already sweltering under 100' days. This May has been averaging 70' or so making it very comfortable to sit outside on the patio and enjoy our dinner.

I'm trying to get my yard in shape and my new nemesis is the garter snake.
This is the year of the garter snake. 
The last few years have been all about cute baby rabbits which are not to be seen (at all!) this year. A whole lotta shrieking has been heard around here as Mr. Snake slithers away from where I'm about to step.

My vegetable garden is still a mass of weeds but I'm almost through whacking them down so I can roto till and re-do the compost piles and show those garter snakes who's the boss.


I made some more microwave cozy hot pads for my etsy shop too. Sewing is easy on these but it took me three sessions in the sewing room to get them done. I just love these red thimbles on the fabric. I found this fabric in Hawaii back in January. So perfect for the sewing enthusiast!

On that note, I'm ready again to try and get computer viruses just so I can watch The Great British Sewing Bee which is now up to season 4.

Recently. someone released season 1 to youtube but I think I would buy it if it were available. This show is sew much better than Project Runway with real sewing getting done and no drama - at all!  Getting little snippets is not my preferred way to watch tv. I saw on Netflix, they are carrying the Great British Bake-off ---- so maybe they will add the Sewing show too.

I had both kids home last week - not at the same time. It was so pleasant to catch up on their news. I am so grateful both of my kids are functioning adults and really living their lives.

We'll see the son again multiple times this month as he moves from central oregon to his new digs south of us  and settles in on his pharmaceutical residency. He graduates as a doctor in two weeks. Proud mama.

24 May, 2016

Make Do And Mend

Dear daughter made a flying visit home. Sunday  - after midnight until early wednesday morning.

Too quick.

I haven't seen her since January when she met up with us in Hawaii.

She's working near Anchorage. At first, it was just a temporary gig but another job opportunity came her way in January and she needed a different wardrobe. I schlepped a duffle bag of office-worthy clothes to Hawaii and she took them from there.

 Its been five months and she is really enjoying her job but wanted to meet up with some friends and raid the closet where she left some of her things.

She also brought some mending for her dear mother to fix. You can feel the love from here.

 First up was this tank from Nicaragua. From the winter before last when she was traveling around central america. You can't just go out and buy another tank memento, so mending was the next best option.
Her hem gave out - the kind where you pull the thread and it all unravels.

I had the right color thread but it wasn't the right thickness to match. I could have hauled out my coverstitch machine ( the correct fix would have been to do this and buy new cones of thread to match). Which was not gonna happen. 

Instead, I made do and mended with what I had on hand.
Most t-shirt hems are done with the coverstitch - which is three threads; two on the outside in parallel lines with the third criss-crossing behind. It's a very stretchy and mostly secure way to finish hems in knits.

The bottom thread was still kinda attached, so I took my thinner thread and couched that stitching down. Couching is mostly invisible stitching that goes over a thicker thread at regular intervals so the thicker thread lies on the surface of the material securely.

 The top thread was mostly pulled out but not cut off!!!
So I threaded my needle with this thicker thread and did a running stitch along the line of stitching. The hardest part was not to pull the threads taut. You want this hem to remain stretchy somewhat.

It's not perfect, but it's mostly invisible to everyone else.

 Next up was this lovely little sweater she bought here in Portland. Different wool colors are sewed onto a base sweater in the shape of a flower.

Some of the stitching had come undone. 

 Again, I did not have a thick enough thread to match. Well - I might, but it would require digging for hours. So - I used an off-white upholstery thread doubled up to mimic the texture and it worked fairly well.

Upholstery thread is thicker than sewing thread. Less likely to break under stress. 

I  cast on a blanket stitch and secured the three areas which were coming undone.

Not perfect, but from a distance, it all looks great.

And really, that's what mending is all about. Securing whatever has come loose in a way that doesn't call attention to the fixed part.

 Next up was her black coat. Terrible to photograph.

Where her pocket sits in front, the 'side seam' had opened up. So, instead of putting your hand inside the pocket, your fingers would catch on this opening (making it bigger).

I hand-stitched this closed with two lines of stitching for security(stress point). The first row is behind the seam under my thumb, the second is visible, meeting up with the original stitching.

 These palazzo pants were next in the queue. She got them in Guatemala (I think). The cuffs are the mustard yellow. The cuff is attached at the bottom of the pant and then turned up to make a mock cuff.
The edge is a selvedge so was not turned under and sewn. A four inch area of the selvedge started fraying.  I did this mending in a darning style.

About  1/8" from the frayed edge, I made a neat row of running stitches. Then I used my needle to help turn under the frayed edge, hiding my running stitches and stitched it down to the under fabric. The running stitches give this section a little strength. If you look closely, you can see the four inches that are turned down but it would take an eagle eye to spot it as these legs are --w i d e--.

I also added a drop of fray check at each end to help stop any more fraying.

 Last was this pretty red-orange polka dot dress. The outer fabric is a sheer gorgette (?) over a thin satin. Gorgeous. Half of the hem fell down.
The bottom edge was serged to give hemming something to hang onto.

I was able to match the thread color but mine was too thick. I think a silk thread would have been more invisible but I didn't have any in this color. This was a fairly easy fix as well. Use a single strand of thread and use the serged edge to go through about 1/4 - 1/2" , then 'grab' a teeny bit of the overskirt in the red areas (not the white polka dots areas) and repeat. The trick is to get into a rhythm so the thread is evenly spaced and not pulling.

I don't mend often. There has to be a compelling reason for me to 'perform'. I was a little worried about the t shirt from Nicaragua but it worked in the end.

I learned to mend from my mother and Mrs. Necessity.

Here's a photo of dear daughter trying to 'steal' a Stetson Fedora I recently found at a community rummage sale for my dear son. We are torturing him as he's stuck in central Oregon this week. She's trading him the ball cap....hmmm...

16 May, 2016

Wrong Broad

 These are Retreat bags from Emmaline patterns.
The ditty bag size uses wire frames to hold it open and provide structure.

I had last week off work and was able to do a number of small jobs that pile up when you are trying to survive the day job.

One was getting my hair cut, at last.

I was four months overdue. The supervisor at work decided, without asking, that two of us clerks would also clean the workplace. We were doing the cleaning during the week, but then her peabrain decided to have us do it on Saturdays which, well, sucks.

We used to be able to count on getting the hours of 11am to 3pm free on Saturdays. So that's when I make appointments. Suddenly, without notice, I had to do a bit of cancelling -- if your value your hair, you don't wanna cancel at the last moment with your hairdresser person.

As it was, I had to show proof of my doctor appointments. Seriously.

No, it gets worse. We are doing that cleaning on overtime.

Rant over. I also did some yardwork, saw some friends for coffee, took care of my parent obligations, took time for me.

I didn't sew as much as I wanted but I did do some long over-due organizational jobs in the sewing room --see my zipper and threads all organized here.

I even managed to take four boxes of stuff to the thrift store.

So I still had my pink camouflage fabric out - whittling away at it - trying to use it up and these two bags came out of the sewing room. They still need zipper ends tidied up, but I seem to have lost misplaced those metal zipper ends (also from Emmaline Bags).

It was super easy to pick zippers for these bags! Thank you Kathy.

The label just 'happened'.