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Monthly Archives: August 2014

  • $1,000 Jeans

    When I bought my Viking Designer I sewing machine ten years ago, the warranty card had a little survey on it. The survey asked, "Why did you buy this machine? Check all that apply." One of the check boxes was marked, "To save money on clothes." Hahahaha! I could buy a ton of clothes for the price of my new machine!

    The creative process of sewing my own clothes is priceless, however. I love choosing the perfect fabric, planning my project, buying the thread, listening to music in my sewing room while time flies. The sewing itself is soothing and satisfying, and the finished product makes me feel comfortable and proud. So, while the making of these jeans was an epic and expensive task, it was a wonderful process, and I will "save money on clothes" when I make my next pair. 

    These jeans started their life in Detroit, Michigan. Fred and I traveled to Detroit last fall -- I wanted to attend the American Sewing Expo, and Fred wanted to visit his step daughter and grand babies. At ASE, I took an all-day jeans fitting class with Jennifer Stern. I had watched Jennifer's Fit Your Tee to a Tee class at Patternreview.com, so I knew I enjoyed her calm, clear teaching style. 

    In Detroit, Jennifer had us all make test garments out of stiff denim muslin. Mine fit great. She had also lugged a giant roll of denim from the garment district of NYC to her home in Connecticut, and she had driven it to Detroit for the Expo. I bought 6 yards and flew them back to Montana, where they sat for months.  

    In June of this year, my daughter graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut -- Just 20 minutes from Jennifer Stern's house! I used my test garment to cut out the denim from NYC, and packed it in my suitcase for another trip across the country. Jennifer and I spent an entire day together perfecting the fit and sewing up the jeans. We had a great time, and I learned a ton.

    I repacked my partially finished masterpiece and flew it across the country again. When I got home, I quickly finished the jeans with oh-so-satisfying topstitching. I bought some rivets from Taylor Tailer. Now I have just one more purchase -- a rivet press -- and my jeans will be perfect. Here they are, sans rivets and buttons!

    The front. Photo by Andrea Jones The front. Photo by Andrea Jones

    The side. Photo by Andrea Jones. The side. Photo by Andrea Jones.

    And a close-up of the back. Yes, I used two different top stitching colors. Photo by Andrea Jones. And a close-up of the back. Yes, I used two different top stitching colors. Photo by Andrea Jones.

    Close-up of the front! Photo by Andrea Jones. Close-up of the front! Photo by Andrea Jones.

  • Blouse-Back Tee

    This week, I have another somewhat shapeless but completely fabulous pattern to share with you -- The new blouse-back tee from Hot Patterns. This is my first Hot Patterns shirt, and I loved the fit of the shoulders -- Perfect! It's a loose tee, which meant no need for any adjustments. Trudy hosted a 4-part sew-along on her blog, which was helpful. The instructions say to sew the neck and sleeve facings in a tube before you start sewing the rest of the garment. Then when it's time to attach the facings, Trudy is emphatic that you should pin the facings in place to make sure they are nice and snug before you sew them in. If you have sewn with Hot Patterns, you know Trudy is not strict at all about anything, so if she is emphatic about a step in the process, you should follow her instructions. I know that. I really do. But, alas, by the time I was sewing in the neck facings, I was in that magical "almost done" space. I could picture myself wearing my blouse-back tee the next day. I could taste completion. I could not stand to slow down and pick out the already-sewn neckband tube. And so, my neck facings are a little floppy. Otherwise, I love this tee, especially with a contrast fabric for the "blouse." I made one in a white modal knit, and one with the modal knit combined with a woven almost-voile as the blouse-back.

    For one version, I used a white modal knit from Dharma Trading Company, with a Kaffe Fassett almost-voile from the Sewing Palace. Photo by Andrea Jones. For one version, I used a white modal knit from Dharma Trading Company, with a Kaffe Fassett almost-voile from the Sewing Palace. Photo by Andrea Jones.

    The other version is plain white. Please avert your eyes from the loose neckband. Photo by Andrea Jones. The other version is plain white. Please avert your eyes from the loose neckband. Photo by Andrea Jones.

    The back is truly gorgeous! Photo By Andrea Jones. The back is truly gorgeous! Photo By Andrea Jones.

    Thank you, Kaffe Fassett, for your beautiful fabrics. This one makes me so happy. Photo by Andrea Jones. Thank you, Kaffe Fassett, for your beautiful fabrics. This one makes me so happy. Photo by Andrea Jones.

  • Factory Girl

    Do you lurk on the Merchant and Mills website, wishing you were that cool? The black and white, old-fashioned look is so distinctive, so hipster, so English. 'Rajasthan hand-blocked indigo?' Yes, please! Who cares where Rajasthan is! If Merchant and Mills say it's great fabric, I believe them. They also print their patterns on stiff card stock -- totally impractical for tissue-fitting, but super cool nonetheless. All of their patterns are smock-like, which is not a flattering look for my figure, but who cares? Laura at Beyond the Hedgerow made the Factory Girl Dress a few months ago, and I was inspired.

    I bought some linen/rayon blend at Selvedge Studio, and sat on the front stoop to wait for my tube of card-stock pattern to arrive. The tube arrived remarkably fast, given the distance it had to travel. I made a straight size 16, which fit beautifully in every way. The card stock pattern pieces made me feel like a true factory girl in an old-fashioned factory with old-fashioned tools. I found the instructions easy to follow. All the pieces fit together beautifully. I've worn the dress weekly since I made it -- to work with leggings, on the weekend without leggings, as a beach cover-up, tromping around Washington, DC.  Wearing it more than once a week would be tacky, right?

    What could be more comfy? Photo by Andrea Jones What could be more comfy? Photo by Andrea Jones

    I topstitched with black thread, in anticipation of leggings.  Photo by Andrea Jones. I topstitched with black thread, in anticipation of leggings.  Photo by Andrea Jones.

    Back detail. The collar fit on the first try. I love the rolled-up sleeves. Photo by Andrea Jones. Back detail. The collar fit on the first try. I love the rolled-up sleeves. Photo by Andrea Jones.

    Feel free to put me on the Merchant and Mills website. I'm in black and white! Photo by Andrea Jones. Feel free to put me on the Merchant and Mills website. I'm in black and white! Photo by Andrea Jones.

  • Hellllo!

    A classic book newly discovered by moi. A classic book newly discovered by moi.

    Hi Everyone! I apologize for being gone so long! I am in the midst of making plans that will help this website explode into awesomeness. Please move to the edges of your seats in anticipation of exciting announcements during the next few weeks.

    Meanwhile, I have been sewing less than usual. I have, however, discovered a wonderful resource for getting in touch with my creative self.

    I first heard of The Artist's Way from Ally at Wardrobe Oxygen. In January of this year, she posted about each week of the book on her blog. Thinking the book was about drawing, I was mildly intrigued, but didn't take action.

    Then, in June, my college friends and I spent a long weekend on the coast of Maine to celebrate our 50th birthdays. Judy, the most artistic of the four of us, was a little late to breakfast every morning because she was writing her "morning pages," which she has done every single morning for the past ten years! I was impressed and intrigued. What are morning pages? When I learned "morning pages" are an exercise from The Artist's Way, I decided to download the book to my Kindle (yes, we 50-year-olds are that cool).

    I have just finished Week 4 of the book, which was intensely wonderful. The assignment for Week 4 is, "no reading." The way I interpreted the assignment was, "no reading for pleasure." I read work emails, but I did not read any sewing blogs(!), news blogs, or novels. I did not check Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest. I did not watch TV. My only entertainment was NPR. I either sat and thought, or I did something.

    Guess what's more fun than just sitting? A LOT! I got so much done! Surprisingly, I didn't do much sewing (a bit of a mystery to me). But, cleaning out my daughter's room was more fun than just sitting. Walking my dogs at 6:00 am was more fun than just sitting. So was washing the sliding glass doors and vacuuming pet hair off the couch. 

    My new plan is no sewing blogs, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest until after 8:30 at night, when I am winding down anyway. I was surprised to discover how much time I waste flitting around on the internet. The first few days were really really hard. I kept grabbing my phone and hovering my thumb over the Instagram icon. But, today, the day I was allowed to check the internet any time, I kinda forgot to do it.

    I feel relieved to start getting more done. Instead of feeling as though I will never catch up with everything on my To Do list, I have begun to check things off.

    If you are feeling stuck in any aspect of your life, I suggest checking out The Artist's Way. :)

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