It Must Be Done!

MessyThe clean-up begins today.

My sewing room is a mess. No, that’s understating the problem. It’s a nightmare, a horror. It’s downright scary.

Step One: Fold all the new stash members who are lying around and place each in one of the two-gallon Ziploc bags I bought yesterday.

Wish me luck and stay tuned.

Does a Manly Man Wear a Scarf?

ScarfAs we were leaving Northern California after a wonderful week of vacation in September, I ducked into a yarn shop in Half Moon Bay and picked up two skeins of Noro “Cash Island” yarn (also called “Cashmere Island”). As I was writing this post, I learned it has been discontinued. Boo hoo! It’s a great yarn. I wanted to make more of these scarves. “Cash Island” is 60% wool, 30% cashmere, and 10% nylon. Can you say “soft”? Yep, soft.

When I showed it to Jas after purchase, he asked, “Don’t you have enough scarves?” I didn’t tell him it was designated for his neck, not mine. I waited until I was about 3/4 finished with the knitting and able to say, “Touch this. Isn’t it nice?”

The pattern was free with purchase. It’s called “Basketweave Scarf” and was designed for “Cash Island”. So simple – 26 stitches, some seed stitch then a k4/p4 basketweave, finished with a little seed stitch. That’s as close as I’m going to get to violating Fengari’s copyright. The lawyer inside won’t let me get any closer. The scarf uses 2 skeins of the yarn and size 10 needles. As I hadn’t taken any needles along on vacation, I picked up a pair of Crystal Palace size 10, 26″ circs on the store owner’s recommendation. Totally love these needles, even though I had vowed never to buy bamboo before ’cause I just didn’t love them. These are different!

Here’s the shop’s website.
Here’s a “Cash Island” listing on Etsy. I believe this is the same colorway I used. Watch Etsy and eBay if you want to get some of this yummy wool.
Wool scarfA little info on Crystal Palace needles.
Ooh, ooh – here are some 10s for $5.95!

You love the picture of my manly man posing at his desk, don’t you. When we left yesterday morning to run down to Columbus for a late Thanksgiving celebration with his mom and brothers and their families, he grabbed the scarf. When we got home an hour ago, he folded it carefully and put it on the coat closet shelf. I told him I wanted a picture, and he quickly replied, “People don’t wear scarves indoors.” “Girls do,” I responded. “Men don’t,” was his immediate, firm comeback.

So he wouldn’t pose for a portrait like I would had I been wearing the scarf. He had to sit at his desk and pretend to be working. Haha. Didn’t fool you, did he?!

And—by the way—it would make a fine scarf for a girly girl, also.


Rayon VogueBack in 2012, I made one of Marcy Tilton’s jackets, Vogue 8709. I dipped into my stash and pulled out a rayon woven in rust and black, and found an old silk/cotton woven for cuffs and collar. A lot of work went into this top, and when it was done, it cried to live in someone else’s closet.

Thanksgiving dinnerLast summer our friend, Diane, invited it to live in her closet. When we arrived for “orphan’s dinner” at their home on Thanksgiving, she was wearing it and both she and the top looked very happy. Isn’t it nice when a fail is passed to someone else and becomes a success?!

And look at the beautiful dinner table Mike and Diane set for our group of close friends. What a lovely evening.

More Little Gifts

Microwave BowlAt this time of year, I’m always looking for [quick] cute little gifts for holiday party hostesses and (even more importantly) my grandchildren’s teachers.

Shortly after starting to work at a quilt shop, someone showed me the microwave bowl mat. Brilliant! You know how the microwave dings and you grab your soup bowl and then cry out in pain because it’s so hot that it burns your fingertips? Some brilliant crafter figured out a solution.

Microwave bowlI’ve read ten or fifteen tutorials, and this one by Lisa Lewis Koster was the one I liked the best. I recently won a pack of Cotton & Steel fat quarters from Gotham Quilts. Two fat quarters yield two microwave bowl mats and two little zippered bags. Cool! The prints I chose were: A) from the Hatbox line by designer Alexia Abegg, the Hatbox print in cream and the All the States print in coral; and B) again from Hatbox, the Palm Springs print and the All the States print, both in aqua.

imageThese mats are a little more time consuming than I like, but I can control that by the amount of quilting I do on each piece. When I start out again in the morning on the other three bags that I will take along to my friends at “orphan’s dinner” tomorrow, I’m going to be more judicious in the amount of quilting I do! Bet on it!!

Think 100% cotton. Cotton fabric, cotton batting, and cotton thread. Very important for something you’re going to “cook” over and over again.

Thrill for Twill

vestbuttonWe have some bolts of fabric at work that have been around for a few years. The shoppers who come in somehow don’t envisage these fabrics as quilts or bags or any other sewn item. So they sit.

I’ve been making it my mission to get all of these fabrics photographed (or find the pic online, although for older fabrics, that’s not an easy task), and make them available to potential online purchasers. In a sentence: what a shopper cannot see does not get sold.

Vest BackWhen I arrived at the store on Monday, eight bolts of Moda cotton twill were stacked next to the cutting table. Balanced on top was a handwritten note from the store owner: “Put in computer and label. Make something.”

When I went to American Sewing Expo in Novi, MI, a couple of months ago, I saw an Indygo Junction vest that I loved. In fact, many shoppers loved it. One of the woman associated either with IJ or with the store booth that was featuring IJ was wearing a denim vest from the pattern. She got so tired of stopping to answer the question, “What pattern is that?”, that she pinned a copy of the pattern to the back of her vest so she could just point! I purchased the pattern, but also bought some of this beautiful, soft denim IJ has developed. My intention is to make the long vest from the soft aqua denim. But I’d been eyeing this olive/black/red striped twill ever since I saw the vest. Wouldn’t that go together nicely? And it did!

Here’s the review:

Vest patternPattern Description: The Modern Silhouette Vest is styled with subtle shaping for a flattering fit. Only four pattern pieces combine with an array of construction options to create a variety of looks. Three lengths are offered: a cropped, upper hip number, a mid-hip variation and a lower hip adaptation with a decidedly free-spirited point of view. All have staggered hemlines that taper gently to the back with a concealing extended center back panel. Stitch your pieces together with exposed, serged seams or overlap and topstitch your pieces for an out-of-the-ordinary rendition. If you don’t have a serger or prefer an alternative finishing technique, use your zigzag stitch to cover and accent the raw edges of your garment. The pattern showcases a self-fabric tie option, an easy, single button closure and a vest unhindered by closures of any kind. You’ll also find instructions for deconstructing denim jeans to repurpose as a smart new vest.

Pattern Sizing: Offered in sizes S – 3XL.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? Easy peasy! Construction time probably under two hours.

Fabric Used: Moda cotton twill . The store owner found eight bolts of this twill sitting around and said, “Somebody please make something out of this.” So I did. :)

vestsidefrontPattern alterations or any design changes you made:
Such a quick and easy vest. Side front and side back seams serge-finished, then sewn WS together and seam allowances pressed open. I love the subtle contrast of the wrong side showing on the side front/back seams.


Shoulder seam, with side front/back seams

The only seams sewn RS together are shoulder and side. I topstitched those seams from the outside at 3/8″ just to keep them flat. I personally like the insides of a garment to look as nice as the outside.


Left front snap

I used the Collins C17 “jumbo” plastic snaps, 1/2″ diameter, and I wished I had used something larger. Went to Jo-Ann’s but the larger ones they stock are metal. I felt they’d be too heavy for this lightweight vest. I plan to make this again soon in Indygo Junction’s beautiful Crossroads Denim, and will order larger plastic snaps for that – or use metal.

“But I don’t have a serger,” you say? Don’t despair. Use any of the overlocking stitches or fancy stitches your machine offers. Use cool contrasting thread. Or even use double-fold bias binding or that cool folded elastic that’s available now (just don’t stretch it!). You don’t have to have a serger – that’s just how the instructions are written.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Absolutely. I’ll be leaving it at the Bernina shop where I work, as a sample for shoppers to see. (After I sew my label in the back!)

Conclusion: Cute, easy, flattering vest in three lengths, suitable for medium-weight fabrics and great for repurposing jeans. Highly recommend!

The picture at the top of the post shows the raku button I used. It’s been in my stash for about 15 years and was handmade by a lovely clay artisan who lived in Oregon at the time. She has since moved to France with her love and stopped creating these buttons. How sad for me and other sewers!

The button is sewn on to disguise the stitches on the snap inside the right front. After I secure that button, I run a couple more stitches and add little glass beads. Love to include creative touches like this.

And don’t you love the word envisage (in first paragraph, above)? My Good Husband, a passionate word nerd, had a word-of-the-day calendar on his desk at the Pentagon. The day he died, “envisage” was the day’s word. It means “To conceive an image or a picture of, especially as a future possibility.” Just telling you this brings back such wonderful memories—and brings tears to my eyes.

Oh, and a smile to my face.