Thursday, February 16, 2023

Sewing the stash

I’ve been decluttering. It’s a slow process with a huge backlog. Of course fabric is one category that got out of hand. Amongst the many areas of stash was this one stuffed box from Fabricmart I must have bought when it was all knits 60% off day. Good grief. In January I pulled it from a pile and set it in the middle of my limited bedroom floor space, vowing to sew it all up by spring. So, finally I got started. 

I grabbed the blue stripe you see popping out of the box, a brushed poly jersey. The stretch, probably 100% in one direction mandated the stripes run vertically on the body, giving the shirt a fair bit of cirque feel. Probably not my favorite, but I needed to find my current size and this was a great result for that. I used Love Notions classic tee pattern with the full bust adjustment built in size 3xl. Ive used it before and I’ve been happy in a variety of plus sizes. Also, most of the time it’s free with signing up for their news letter. It was super fast on the serger, back to the sewing machine for twin needle hemming. There are three necklines, crew, deep, and v-neck. Options are drawn for short, 3/4, and long sleeves. There are lots of posts and videos on different “hacks” (I really hate that term for design modifications!) 

What, declutter where!

There was plenty of fabric left over (of COURSE there was!) so I also sewed up some panties in my new size, yay, underwear that fits! I use self drafted panties from Beverly Johnson’s craftsy class, which is pretty much the same as Liz Sews self drafting panties on you tube. Did you know there is a “standard” width for a panties crotch with no mention of changing for plus sizes? I enlarged my width by inches. Inches! Feels much more my size. Like I remember from earlier days. I’ve mentioned my weight loss and it comes with the resulting falling of skin and flesh, so no way am I modeling these! (What am I going to do for swimming this year? I think this will take some engineering!) Any way, these under the tee magnify how crazy stripes can look!

The box still looks very stuffed. The two browns look suitable for colder months, maybe a boxy mock turtle neck from one, maybe some kind of comfy sleep and stumble in the daytime dress (night shift, I like clothes that don’t look too strange meeting a school bus at 3pm but feel great in bed.)  I might get into this one next:

It’s described as a telio rayon knit, very stretchy, fabulous drape, fairly lightweight. Blue zebra. The 10 year old gave it a big stink eye. I think that equates to fabulous grandma-wear.

Kids in MY day!….

I have no idea what to do with this one. More than 3 yards (yay, you got the end of the bolt!)

In other news, I have come off my diabetic and blood pressure meds with my providers consent and support, thanks to the keto lifestyle. I’m eating a fair amount of non keto now and I’ve stopped loosing, but I’m watching my sugars and they are rock steady. If I go overboard, and it doesn’t take much, on white flour or rice I feel pretty bad pain in most of my joints and sometimes my teeth! How was I living like that? Ah, lots of OTC pain meds, lots of denial, and not doing much activity at all. Life is better. I’ll probably have to get back on keto at some point, trying low carb for now.

Hope sewing, and all the issues that come with whatever stage of life you are in are going well with you today.

Saturday, October 1, 2022


Wishing I could retire! I seriously need more leisure time! I have lost about 50 lbs on the keto diet and have just hit my first stall with the past few weeks. My skin is starting to flap like loose clothes, so a pause and slow down is ok. I am feeling much better, and I need a new wardrobe. The bras from spring are like parachutes. I did complete the York pinafore (will I get a photo? I don’t know.) and I really like the pattern for casual wear, those pockets! Its alter ego in pant form is up for sewing soon, the Yanta overalls. I keep feeling them in corduroy, but I don’t have any YET. Denims and twills, plenty. More fabric, sigh.

I’ve finished a baby quilt except for binding, a short detour. I’ve got an unending list of quilts to do in my head, and almost that much quilting fabric. Not quite.

There’s some glow in the dark thread in the quilting here, for fun.

On night shift I’ve started some hand sewing, incredibly slow going for me. A benefit of the keto, my hands have been unable to do needle arts of any type for a while, but with the absence of all those carbs, I’m pretty pain free! I found the Ann Woods website with the most fabulous little hand sewing patterns for creatures and dolls and miniatures and I am slowly progressing with her mini dolls. I hope my skills rapidly improve!

Thank you to for showing me the way to Ann Wood’s website.

I’m starting the bra journey again. Of course I’m a completely different size than any I’ve sewed before, so I did all the measurements and wire tested to begin. I’m grateful I bought the entire size range of wires from bra builders some time ago, in case I wanted to sew for someone else as well as for my fluctuations. The wire I decided on was 3 sizes smaller than the last one I used! I don’t think that 52 worked as well as a 50 would have, but 48 is my best bet this time. I am using Porcelynne’s Eve bra pattern, my third time because I really like the fit. I wasn’t sure about the size this time, so I knocked out a test band pretty quick with some less special but still definitely bra fabrics.

I left a little extra seam allowance to put in and possibly take out and replace bra cups. The band doesn’t need any changes, the first cup was so small I didn’t need to sew it in to know it was not going to fit. This bra isn’t sized in the same way as RTW bras and the designer sells her cups in a separate pattern from her band, allowing for a very accurate fit. So, getting   a great fitting band with wires off the bat was sweet, but only the start. Now it needs the correct cup with those wires to be complete, so I went up 2 sizes from the cup the measurements suggested.

My tricot for this fitting bra is very tricky to identify right from wrong side, until all of a sudden you can see shiny on one piece next to a dull on the joined piece. I saw Beverly Johnson from Pin Up Girls patterns use this price sticker trick to keep track of right sides. Since the Eve bra doesn’t have notches and I’ve been known to get those center and side pieces swapped and upside down, I also note orientation on the sticker. It really really helps my sleep deprived brain get assembly correct.

Note to self: if I’m ever inserting cups into a test bra band again, take the wires OUT before trying to sew the cups in. Took me several attempts and then seam ripping to figure that out.

Even with the wires out it’s still a little tricky to get cups in around channeling, especially around the lower band elastic area. I usually put cups in the front band before either of those, but the test band is different. Even with the gape along the bottom of the wire band, it was adequate to be able to put on and judge, nope! So tonight I’ve cut out cups again, 2 sizes bigger. This might do it, or the next, or certainly not more than 4.  I WILL end up with a bra that won’t irritate and will give the best shaping to an older lady’s bosom. Actually, about three wired and one or two with just channeling, then some new sports bras, and an assortment of new underwear too. The underwear are MUCH easier to put together, though bras are a lot easier than you would think. You are only dealing with inches of seams and cutting after all.

I kind of hate to admit it, but that damn ocean liner Janome I bought is really nicer to sew on than some of my other beauties. Though I still love those iron workhorses.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

At last!

This quilt is finally complete, bound, and received by the intended. My best friend from my military brat childhood circa 1973 came for a visit to Delaware from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Come to think of it, we never made it over the line to Delaware, we stayed in Salisbury Md at my daughter’s apartment which had better guest facilities and was convenient to our day trips. We visited DC, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Waters house near Pittsburgh PA, and Chincoteague VA. Was tempted but failed to squeeze in a jaunt to NYC too, but maybe next time. It was a great visit.
Bisa Butler, “Harlem Hellfighters” 

Chawne Kimber, “still not” . Both of these were displayed at the Renwick Museum in DC and thrilled me to view in person, having admired the artists and many of their works on Instagram and else where.

Falling Waters. The house was awesome but the biggest thrill was experiencing different geography after years of not leaving this Delaware flat farm and shore area.

I made my first trip to Chincoteague so we could do a nice boat tour thing, but I couldn’t resist going to Assateague as well, the Maryland sister isle to Chincoteague and my personal favorite. The ponies mingle much more with people on Assateague at he state and federal park, and the beach is better as there’s ocean access, not just knee deep bay. I almost broke the legs of a misguided younger man that tried to save my floundering fat old self when I was trapped in the surf. I wasn’t drowning, just getting knocked down every time I tried to get up. Tried to tell him noooooo, but the next wave knocked me into his knees and took him down hard. Be careful trying to save folks in the ocean, it’s dangerous. We both made it out under our own volition though. All’s well.

I had to take the quilt still damp from being washed and line dried after getting the binding on the first morning of vacation! I’m going to miss it, I had it for at least three years while I worked on it bit by bit. Stalled and started. All those hand chosen fabrics. Not by any measure expert craftsmanship, not on the piecing or the quilting aspect, but dammit, lots of love. I believe it is well appreciated.

I’ve got other projects well under way, a baby quilt and a York pinafore, which I would have called a jumper growing up. I completed two bras and a pair of panties this spring too, badly needed, BUT! I started drinking nonstop, peeing like crazy and for the heck of it took a finger stick for glucose. I’m now a diabetic. I lost 16 pounds the first week with meds (mostly water weight) and then started keto for weight loss/glucose and insulin control. 3 months and I’m down 30 pounds which means undergarments are a new size, again. Thank God nursing scrubs can span a big range. I’ve still got several smaller sizes. But I expect to loose quite a bit more before I stop loosing weight so it’s going to be interesting. The good news is I’m almost back to the right size for my previously made bras.

After about 15 years in nursing, I started working in Dialysis and remember being blown away by what I learned then about high blood pressure, diabetes, and the kidneys. Now I’m at 30 and surprised AGAIN. I don’t recall learning about insulin resistance at anytime other than that’s how type two happens. But it was never treated as a primary disease of itself. Now I’m seeing that insulin resistance is a primary diagnosis that we should be trying to prevent and turn around. Except for acute kidney injury or chronic kidney disease, high blood sugar is almost always caused by insulin resistance. Type two diabetes, obesity (especially visceral fat), inflammatory diseases, even skin tags are all big indicators of insulin resistance. My skin tags are disappearing with diet modification, and my arthritis is GONE. I’m hoping for periodontal relief. Ok, health minute is over, but if you wonder about arthritis, polycystic ovary syndrome, stubborn weight gain, skin tags, eczema, etc etc, you can ask for a fasting insulin test, or a glycosylated hemoglobin that can stage you as “pre diabetic”. Lots of MDs won’t go for the insulin test and aren’t too fired up about insulin resistance, but it’s something you can help yourself with healthier eating (doesn’t have to be keto, which many doctors frown on). Really, health minute over.

Hoping that I’ll be doing much more sewing with my new energy and health!

Friday, November 27, 2020

Happy BlackFriday

This cracks me up because I use to roll a med cart around with facial expressions on it, and a magnet to frame the chosen emotion. Just throw everything we know out with 2020 though.

 I’ve never been a competitive Black Friday shopper, in fact at age 60 I have NEVER stepped into a brick and mortar store during Black Friday! I salute those who are good at it, and I have come to enjoy my internet Black Friday deals. Tonight I’m not having much luck at it so far, though I did get a couple nice deals.

I’ve been sewing pretty close to daily for the past few months, though often it may only be for 20 minutes or so. I don’t get a lot done in 20 minutes!

I’ve completed a series of wadders. The shorts in the top photo were really pleasing me, in a fabric certainly out of my norm and lovingly assembled with French seams, no raw edges for that ravely fabric. When they were completed I could get them up but they were absolutely too small. A daughter got them. So I found a similar fabric (a challis maybe?) and made pants for home. One wash and it was obvious you would have to iron every time, and I will not. I’m not even sure where they went.

There was a seriously confused attempt x2 to bring my bra size to new and current reality, and this photo should be an indication of how that went. I did get much closer (in a size 6.0 not 4.75!). I hope the next one is that fabulous fit I pulled off last year.  

I took a break with some mindless and sizeless basket making. I’ve been practicing with dedication my quilting technique, because that finished top needs quilting. I don’t want it to show a timeline of improvement in skills, at least not a marked one, on the quilt.

This crazy year is almost over.  I celebrated our election results, but I’m not so optimistic about the direction of the pandemic. Hunkering down over here.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Brindille and Twig for a baby and more

Set one done. This is for a grandchild turning one soon, not the new born. I had five kids, now that they are all in their 30s I’m LOUSY with grandkids! I bought this fabric for this particular kid about 9 months ago, and she isn’t such a tiny potato anymore.  I believe she can still carry it off. I used two Brindle and Twig patterns, and this cute potato french terry

The ringer tee is free (my favorite kind!) and comes 0 months to 6T. It is a well drawn pattern, with simple clear instructions. It also has views for short or long sleeves.

I serged the neckband on and should have stuck with that as it turned out pretty well. I serged the wrists and waistband, but stitched the seam allowances down after. I think they would have looked better without.

The pants are Brindille and Twig’s mini modern jogger. The PDF cost about $8.00 and covers sizes 0 through 6T. There are knee patches that I left off, the option for cuff or no cuff. The front pockets are honest to goodness pockets with bags, there is a patch pocket on the back, and an elastic waistband. I added the drawstring through button holes.

I know lots of people like Elmer glue sticks for basting, but I’m more partial to the original school glue formula. It doesn’t dry out in the container as fast,  but a thin layer, especially if pressed with a warm iron, will securely form and hold a patch pocket in correct placement for sewing. 

They were happily received and the fit is pretty good.

After those I wanted to knock out some sleep shorts real quick. I found a fabric in the stash that was a (one way? Two way? Side to side?) poly stretch that I was unlikely to ever want to put over the trunk of my body, although until this year it never would have occurred to me to put that floral across my back side either. The print really grew on me during construction. The fabric itself, not so much.

There was more of THIS. I had to take the foot off and really wrestle my fabric out of this jam. I can’t recall why it got down there, since this looks like it was the middle of the darn seam. I know we had at least 6 or 7 fights like this.

I used some fold over elastic to finish the edges and stabilize the pocket openings, that worked well. My top stitching was a little wobbly, so I went over in a pseudo flatlock. With a press it was passable. Once they were all done though, the waist was too high, the leg hems too long, and the silhouette looks amazingly like an illustration of one of the wealthy old men from a Charles Dickens’ novel.  I’ll sleep in them but I’m not photographing them. And I’ve started a walking program. It hurts, and it’s so eleventh hour in my health requirements.

The new machine has had me sewing an hour on busy days and maybe a few if I had time to spare. I’ve been doing a lot of quilting practice, to get the disuse kinks out and get used to the specifics of this sometimes temperamental beast. I needed it badly as I have done some butt ugly stitching. It’s starting to smooth out some. Quilting takes skill, but it also takes tapping into that creative zone place, your personal ooooooooooohm, the serendipity and one with it all thing. I may not ever have the cute and the dainty that I have admired on some quilts, or the classic and disciplined. I think I will get to powerful and beautiful though, in my own way. When I was sick of ugly quilt sandwiches, like this one, done to death and change thread done some more!- And, look! I put a Clarity clear ruler foot on it, from Accents in Design, and fuck you Janome if you don’t like me going off your brand. But yes, when I was sick of this-

 I gathered the dusty bits and pieces I’ve worked and neglected in spurts and trickles for three darn years now, and FINISHED the queen size quilt top for a special person in my life. 

This does not encompass all of it, and after I shot this I had to remove two blocks with pink corners. I learned about too much pink with this quilt. It’s now ready for pressing, sandwiching with batting and backing, and finally quilting. I’m so excited!

I hope to keep both garments and quilts rolling at the same time for a while.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Been doing some sewing...

Well of course I was making those ties for something. I remember when I wouldn’t wear anything with an elastic waist, now it’s my staple. So, I needed some cool and easy summer clothes that were not shorts.  This is a Lawley skirt, a (nother?!) free pattern from Elbe textiles. I didn’t think it was too terribly old, but I didn’t see it offered anymore when I just made the link. It’s a shame because it’s a pretty nice skirt, especially in a nice rayon/linen blend. It came in sizes A through M, which was from pretty darn small to pretty darn big. Still, before cutting out I read finished garment sizes and decided to add a few by decreasing the indent of the waist. This was pretty unnecessary. The instructions had you gather BEFORE attaching the elasticized waistband, why? I just drew up the skirt and waistband after sewing together. I added a couple inches to make the pockets deeper, and I was a couple inches short on the hem with my fabric.

I got to practice buttonholes on the M7 for the first time. Not tremendously impressed. It does require a stabilizer, I reinforced with a patch of self fabric. I put a slip of paper on top of the feed dogs before the fabric to get a clean buttonhole. Serviceable, but probably not quite as nice as the vintage singer buttonholer. When I make some to show, I’ll probably fire up the 201-2 and the ancient buttonholer she uses.

Thank God for the serger. I french seamed the side seams, but that waistband was a fraying mess!

I top stitched the French hems, the bottom hem, everywhere I could figure out a place to put down some stitching. I was finding it soothing.

I needed a body skimming appropriate top to wear with this, and found yet another freebie (I swear I DO have half a bazillion dollars worth of paid patterns!), Ellie and Mac curved hem pocket t tank. It comes xxsmall to 5x. I made 5x because that’s where I am now, freaking out about it and nearly naked. So, I made this top. I made no changes to the bust, shoulders, arm scythe, or length. Love when I can do that without a funny looking result.

I had to use paper to prevent the machine from eating this tissue thin jersey knit, but after getting it started there weren’t more issues. Until we got to the pocket. All kinds of fuss kicked up over a little detail that I believe is kind of passé any way. But I got my heels dug in over the principal of the thing and had to get it on the damn shirt. I wished for hem tape, but I had Elmers school glue. I got it on.

The arm and neck bindings didn’t cause me much stress. The busy print helped. I used a zig zag because stitching disappears from 3 feet, if this were a solid I probably would have twin needled.

I got a bonus garment from the daisies. I can’t remember where this came from, or how cheap it was, but I think it was a deal. I’ve been making this no-brainer summer nightgown since 1976 or so. Sew two square panels together, leaving 3 or 4 inches open on the top end of both seams for arms. Finish the arm openings in a hem, turn over the two long sides to make a casing for the top and hem the bottom. Because the fabric is so thin, there is no drag and barely any weight to this swingy stretchy easy on off summer garment. I spend a lot of time nearly naked at my house and I’ve really needed this in my life for when some daytime person knocks on the door for something. Or family shows up when I’m sleeping.


The straps have been stretching so I have been shortening them. Otherwise, the gown sinks lower and lower.... It has the most perfect shirttail hem from all the gathering in the middle of the front and back. Don’t remember that from previous incarnations.

My third and first really awful covid haircut, and a rainbow. Despite loosing those inches for the hem I think it’s long enough on my 5’11” frame even after turning up 1 1/2”. Deep pockets keep stuff in the pockets.

I would never wear it tucked in, but I hear you are supposed to show it?

Like wise the back view. I’ve got a waist? Must be just in the back. I’ve never seen an indent like that on me anytime. I’d give it up quickly to loose a hundred pounds. I’m going to have to do it, I’m garnering strength like I did for quitting smoking. That took a couple years to do, as I recall. I got there though. I have never been more than a few pounds over until I hit 50, started working nights, stopped my active lifestyle and went on crutches for a year as I sailed into menopause. Haha, and quit smoking, hahaha. Maybe I could quit eating and just consume vodka, those ladies are usually slimmer. No! I’m going to start walking and yoga on a regular basis. I have a mat at both client’s houses, my truck, and a couple at my house. I need to commit. Sigh. 
I’m sewing another pair of self drafted panties from Beverly Johnson’s craftsy class, and I made a boob ham from Porcelynne’s free pattern. For pressing bra cup seams. Then I’ve got some baby stuff planned.