Category Archives: Sewing

Oh, Ottobre

I subscribe to Ottobre Design, a fashion sewing magazine from Finland, and love their patterns/styles. (There is also a children’s edition.) A few times a year a super cute envelope arrives with artwork that I love and a glossy magazine full of pictures of real people modeling stylish, wearable clothes.


I categorize the garments as stylish basics, with garments ranging from outwear to dresses to leggings. Maternity is covered from time to time, it’s worth noting, and the designs cover a range of ages. Stapled inside the magazine is a set of pattern pages, over-sized and printed on heavy paper, with sizes and patterns overlaying each other, like this:

The job of the sewer is to trace the required pattern pieces in the proper size.
Really.
Click and take a closer look:

I know.
And don’t forget to add seam allowances.

It is worth the eyestrain, however. The magazine stores well, and is a bargain considering the number of styles contained in each issue and the range of sizes. I buy a roll of paper like this, in tracing weight, and find it is still heavy enough to withstand fitting, storing, and multiple use. Good lighting, pencils, markers, rulers, and patience are the other requirements.

I took these photos while cutting this pattern,

and what you see are the directions in their entirety. A beginning sewer would, I think, be at a disadvantage without more instruction. As someone with more experience, I do like the fact that there are methods I haven’t encountered in a Big Four* pattern. I made the top just as shown, with two pockets, in a black knit and loved it so much that I redrafted it immediately into a longer tunic to wear with leggings, and made it right away.

Writing this post reminded me to pay for my latest issue, which was 15.90 euros, a little less than $24.

*Vogue, Simplicity, Butterick, McCalls

Finally, Inspiration

Decorating inspiration.

I have been keeping my eyes open for months for colors to use in my bedroom. New hardwood floors are in, the other three bedrooms look lovely with freshly painted walls in great colors, and it is time to get moving on the master. The delay has been lack of inspiration. Usually something – something unrelated – catches my eye and becomes a color scheme, as in this picture:
I carried that little green plate everywhere while planning the kitchen renovation a few  years ago. The kitchen is neither French nor that shade of green, but the soapstone counters, green glass tile, and metal finishes echo the plate. I just liked how the plate looked and felt, and whenever I strayed over to some beautiful Italian marble or a gorgeous red granite, my daughter would wave the plate in my face. It helped.
I don’t have an inspiration piece for the bedroom project, but I have known I wanted light fabrics in some blue/green/grey combination but not “beachy”. I grabbed this little twin quilt at Target one day and found the bright-light green pickstitch quilt at Pottery Barn. 
I think I’m on to something and am looking forward to sitting down later and playing with the swatches and colored pencils. I still have to gather more fabrics for windows, a table cover, pillows, and dust ruffle, but I at least feel I have some direction now. More to come!

Sew many pics!

I know, I know, that was lame.

As promised, here are images of some of the items DD and I made for the sale last week at Wyndcroft. It was a fun day!

A cute watermelon-y tote
Handy little jars of clothing repair essentials
Key fobs
A big tote with a matching key fob
Headbands
Super cute apron fabric with yards of binding that DD did not enjoy making.
Zippered pencil bags
Pleated handbag
Mini handbag
Lined drawstring backpack
More backpacks
Shopping bag
I have yet to clean up the gigantic mess that used to be my sewing room, but I’m looking forward to it!

Craft Swap

Here are some photos of my handmade items for a recent swap with some friends. I actually still have two out to finish in some form or another and send off, but let’s focus on celebrating this part, shall we?


These were for my friend Norma, and she loved them. I loved them! Love love love the yarn.


For  Martha Ann, this handbag. It is from a pattern with a few modifications. I wish I’d taken a picture of the bag feet – she was surprised to discover them well after she received the bag. Love love love the fabric.


The inside, with my little label.

Ann’s knitted and felted bag. This bag is GIGANTIC. It’s a tote, with a commercial base that happened to fit perfectly inside the bottom of the bag, and a beautiful silk dupioni lining. Although this bag borrows a technique I learned from a commercial pattern (applied icord around the rim) I didn’t use a pattern for this one. I’ve made so many knitted bags by now I just kind of start knitting! The colors are perfect for Ann, and I love love love the lining fabric.

The lining, with one pleated pocket.

I have a set of spherical, heavy, fabulous bag feet that I would have loved to use here, but they didn’t match. I got creative and used some well-shaped buttons instead, which I think works fine.

Cute bag

I made this bag for DS2’s girlfriend for her birthday. I love the fabric, purchased at Generations Quilt Shop in Pottstown, a great source for Michael Miller and Amy Butler fabrics.

 It’s an Amy Butler pattern, Frenchy, just as written, without any modifications.
The recipient seemed to like it!

Baby Gifts

Making things for babies is so much fun – they are small, and can have fancy elements and finishing that might be too much work on a larger item. Plus there’s the smile factor of thinking about the baby who will eventually wear the clothes you are creating.

This sweater was fun to make, and admittedly, required a bit of attention while shaping and maintaining the pattern.

But let’s take a closer look at those shoes!

 How cute are these? Based on a tutorial I found online, I made a few modifications in the way the shoe is laced, and I also bound the inside seam. The fabric is one of my favorites, a vintage tablecloth I found at an antique shop. It is a beautiful, quality cotton and my photographs do not do it justice. I hoard the pieces that are left and use them when inspiration demands. As it did, actually, with this hat…

 I should actually have photographed the inside – all the seams are nicely covered with a cream single-fold bias and it looks very nice. The tape was not prewashed, however, and I hope it won’t pull too much once the hat is washed. 

Back to grownup knitting and sewing!

Surprise Spring Bag

I saw this fabric and thought DD would like it….

I made this bag with it. I wanted to mail it (and some chocolate chip cookies) to her at school as a surprise but I went to her campus yesterday for something else and gave it to her in person instead.

I was right – she liked it!

Spring Green

This is a cute bag! I finished it last night and will be carrying it immediately. Love the fabrics and the perfect spring green. 

The bottom of the bag, which you can’t see, is the polka dot fabric of the strap. The inside, below, has just one simple pocket and is lined in a lighter fabric so I might actually have a chance of finding what I’m looking for.

 
I like it!

Signs of spring

Goodbye winter, hello spring!

 Goodbye lovely scarves, see you in the fall.
But hello yards of cotton for summer skirts….

Japanese, above, in a slightly weighty fabric.

Gorgeous Italian woven, front and back. Everything is line drying during this dry, breezy day.

A few of DD’s sweaters drying, ready to be stored.

 Houseplants, fully awake!

 Flower seedlings, under the lights.

Finally, farewell to the Olympic Stole, which may or may not be blocked before it goes into storage for the summer. (Ditto on the one or two cables that didn’t cross, which now need to be fudged just a little!) I’m looking forward to the fall, since I only wore it once!

Forty Napkins

Although I do not quilt I went to a huge quilt show in Lancaster last week with my friend Eleanor, who is a quilter. I can admire the art and the craft, and let’s not forget, fabric is fabric. Notions are notions. Cute bag patterns are cute bag patterns. 

What made me happy was to find a stack of homespun (which means it’s the same on both sides of the fabric, as opposed to being printed on one side and having a shadowy wrong side) in colors that weren’t in dark browns, reds, and blues. I’ve needed to restock our “every day” kitchen napkins and haven’t been able to find any fabric. Until now:

I loved them. They are perfectly casual and a good quality cotton. Notice, before you think I turned and hemmed 40 casual napkins, that they are serged with a rolled hem.

And look how lovely they are with my shiny red dishes…

I did buy two printed fabrics that will make lovely napkins with the dishes as well, but I might have to back them with a solid.



I cut and serged the Forty Napkins in a few hours, any of you who sew know how really easy that project is. I listened to a Trollope novel while I serged what felt like miles of napkin edges, then seam-sealed and trimmed the threads. Voila. Table linens I don’t have to be ashamed of – I have been quite remiss in replacing our existing pile.


There was one vendor with fashion fabrics, all natural fibers, from Italy. To. Die. Boiled wools, linens, amazing shirtings, cashmere, and cashmere vicuna. Cashmere vicuna, which I have never even touched before. At $115 a yard, a bargain compared to pure vicuna, which starts at $1500 a yard. Yes, you read that right. I bought a lovely woven cotton for a skirt. From another vendor I bought a Japanese cotton that I think will make a nice skirt or pair of capris.

I chatted with friendly women throughout the day, Eleanor and I had and enjoyable dinner with two women we met that day, and it was a fun Friday!