Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Best Oscar Story You Are Going To Read

Yes, it's all about this delicious pair.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Weighted Blanket Project

A pal wanted a weighted blanket.
They are supposed to help with restless sleeping, and anxiety.

I watched a fair number of videos
"Man Sewing" Rob Appell has a nice one

And I figured it out.
I decided to make one that would just cover the torso and the upper thighs, so we could see how it worked. If it needed to be bigger, I could make more panels and sew them together.
I used a thrifted sheet, backed with flannel, and sewed through all three layers, leaving the channels open at one end.
Others work out from the center.
Your results will vary.

The math for the number of sections is how big you want them to be. 
I had an unfilled four inch border around the filled section. 

I started at the bottom, I felt that the first set of square pockets (3" square) looked overstuffed when filled, and sad with a little slack in them. Also there was enough movement in the pellets to make noise, and Client didn't want noise.
So I unpicked and sewed the remaining tunnels to make them half as wide
(while making sure the tube I was going to use to fill them still fit)
Tube rehearsal reenactment. I didn't take enough photos. 

The math for the weight is:
the person's weight, divided by 10, plus 2.
He's 140, so 14 plus 2: 16.
You are supposed to divide the weight by the number of pockets 16 lbs = 256 oz.
256 oz divided by 80? 3.2 oz, I weighed them - 
lets stop right here.
The blanket filled up at 8 pounds. I have a spare bag now.

This filling and sewing technique worked for me.

The bigger pockets are at the bottom, the skinnier longer ones towards the top.

So the tube goes in

You stand it up

Stick in your homemade paper funnel

This is the secret sauce. You figure out how much each section will need and you use a measuring cup. I cannot stress enough how boring cleaning up tiny plastic pellets is, or working them back and forth to make a clear area for stitching.
Be consistent and pay attention and it will go much much faster.

There they are in there. also helps that the tube wasn't longer than the sections I was filling. I cannot tell you enough to pay attention to how much goes in each section with enough slack to prevent things from exploding or stitches from popping.

I did handstitch some. I did that 'thread a couple needles on the spool' trick from this month's Threads letters column. 

However, machine sewing goes faster 
when you come to the end of the row and set up to sew your set of filled baffles,
you have pinned a path to sew that is: 
1) wide enough for the presser foot (I used the narrowest one. A zipper foot would work as well)
2) Has absolutely NO PELLETS IN IT
(so if you had to move some to the side for the next set, you pin that area closed)
You are creating an alley for the foot to travel down with no bumps to make the stitches loose and no pellets to break your needle.
This is the most time consuming part of the job.
Consistency will pay off big time here.

My finger is where the alley is.I'm running my finger down to keep checking for pellets.

The other key thing is: you will want to set up on a table that will support the blanket. It needs to be entirely on the table, or it will slide off quickly.
You will need to be able to hold the work up and not make the feed dogs pull it while you're stitching.
 Any lateral stress will break the needle.
And that is a pain.
It took the better part of two days, and it only would take 8 pounds of pellets.
It has worked really well. It's just big enough, the shorter baffles are cozy
The orange lateral lines are the stitching lines for closing the baffles, one set at a time. I went back and put in two sets with a gap in-between to allow the blanket to bend and be folded.

One side has flannel to keep the blanket from sliding off, the other side has fabric that is covers the other side, is wrapped around the edges, and is not quilted through except around the outside edges. It's there for structure, aesthetics and to protect the baffles from being torn.
He's pretty happy with it.  We'll see if he needs it enlarged.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Butt like a b, tummy like a d: Pants Fitting Evolves By The Year

This is for the Green Violet, and for me.
I did slap this together to get it done, and I will probably edit it later.

Shall I compare me to a basketball?

So, me and the Violet were discussing the 'sway back' alteration.

I realized that I had been changing up how I fit my pants without notating what the changes were and how I got there.
I do keep this blog for my own reference, you know.

This is my one piece pants pattern 'sloper'. It fits well enough for tights, and it's where I am editing any pants from. I can divide it into a front and a back on the side line if I need to. I can make it bigger, but I cannot make it smaller cause that's how big I am.

Like so. Well, it needs some darts.

This is the business part of the one piece jeans pattern (minus the fly). It has four 'darts' in the waistband. 

1) is a tiny 1/2 tuck in the front in the gap between the pocket piece and the front piece. Doesn't show, helps with my growing front porch belly.
2) is a slash/curved dart on the side seam. It has much function that it performs with the pocket assembly, and a long slow, mostly narrow dart that works well until we get to the top and we curve in. 
Not super sharply.
3) is the secret sauce for me. To be discussed in a minute.

4) the back center seam is a dart. The center front is straight up and down, because that's what the fly zipper wants to do. If these were pull on elastic waist pants, I'd curve that front seam cause 60 yr old Front Porch!

So, dart number 3. It used to be a three inch long narrow dart (in green), like you see in most pencil skirts. It's apex is at the butt apex. The newer version (in blue) is shorter and wider. My butt apex is noted by a heart! 

I'm unclear exactly who I figured this out from: Sandra Betzina, a Lois Hinse pull on pants pattern, the ether itself, but I learned that dart does two things. 

A dart reduces bulk where there's too much, and allows for more volume at the apex. It creates a line rather than a fold. You are trying to get the fabric to lie smoothly over your cheek. 
And if your cheek has a different shape, you choose a different dart.

I believe the proper ladylike term for me is that I have a "high hip".
I have a big butt, yes, but I have a porch. I don't have a slope to the fullness part.
I have a ledge. 

I sew for a friend who has about fifteen inches difference between her waist and her hip. And that has a 5 inch height drop.
I have about a 10 inch one (35 - 45) and it happens in about 3".
Fabric will pool above my butt apex because it can't deal with the sudden transition.
I can't put a back yoke on jeans without the curve being super extreme (or I have to put a dart in the yoke, which seemed like too much work).
We used to call this a swayback alteration, but that's inaccurate. My waist is not going in and coming out at an extreme angle, my butt is just going out at one.
My back drops right into my waist.

The heart is where the real bulge is on my butt. Not on the side or the gluteal center, but on the iliac crest. Also, my tummy is catching up with my butt.
I'm just here to report, not to analyse. 

side red lines to show difference. The left side is where I had the hip replacement, btw.
These two photos are from the Ruby Joggers pattern test, for Paprika Patterns. What struck me in this photo is the back yoke line.  The plane it illustrates is sloped but relatively flat at the center and on the left side, and rises up on the right. The side curve really shows it. I have that curve on the left, but it's farther from the side.

A longer dart won't give me the fabric I need at that point. And just like the seams on a basketball, you need more than two to properly wrap a sphere.
(rotated to give you a better idea what I mean.) Those seam lines aren't all the same shape, are they?

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Mittens 2019

Winter sucks.
I know, Canadians, laugh at me. This is Seattle. We have hills all over and this happens once every five years. We forget. We lose our shovels and tire chains.
 But a week of no melt, of more snow, of ice all over everywhere, we grind to a halt. 
So please, stop it.
Eventually there were ten inches of snow. Right now there's eight inches of slush.
My neighbors took pity on me one day and shoveled my stairs.
I am very tired of snow.
The only way I know to make the weather change is to make winter clothes.
That'll make it warm up.
As usual, Ikat Bag has made them and done a far better job than I could ever. That said, I have different materials and different results.

Here is my version. 
This is the basic idea.

A u shape, with a plain back and a thumb cut out front.
Plus a thumb gusset (I can put one in everywhere)

You sew the thumb gusset on  and sew the one piece back on.

This is the pattern (see that grid? This is with a 1/4" inch seam allowance)
That's the basic idea.
Cut four. Cut thumb cut out on two of them.

It took me a few variations on this mitten idea to get a pair that worked.
This is the classic quick and dirty spare sock version. You cut out the heel for the thumb opening, you slice off the toe to make the thumb. Stitch it together and boom.

But I have a lot of scrap outerwear fabric and I wanted something more long term and functional.
So I have an outer layer in waterproof backed fleece. It was too heavy for a coat, but perfect for this.
The outside thumb assembly in the orange, partly sewn.

And what it looks on the inside (thumb sewn)
You add the yellow fleecy inside layer. I cut mine two inches longer than the outside to make a cuff.
with a thumb opening slit. Just a slit. 
Lining the thumb with the yellow fleece was too much with the orange layer being as thick as it was.
What do we say, your results will vary? They will. Play around with it. Make a model thumb. I did.

And you stick those slit edges down with double-sided fabric tape. ResQ tape works very well, for one example.
You could stitch it. I did not.
It's all stuck down. Remember, this is the inside of the mitten. The thumb is going through that slit into the sewn thumb of the outside orange fabric.
And then I sandwiched all the layers together. I'll be turning it inside out once I've stitched around.
You have to make sure not to sew the thumb into the side seam.
I pinked it on the top edge to make it less lumpy when I turned it.
That's what they look like. 
I handstitched the cuffs. It was faster than wrestling them under the presser foot. I could have added elastic inside the cuff, but they work for me without that. 
I have a seam ripper. I can always change my mind.
And yes, I should have flipped the  cuff seam that last inch, so it doesn't' show.
But you know me. When I see the finish line, I speed up.
Look. Mitten. Two mitten.
This is where I remind you to mirror the outside pieces if they are a coated fabric. Otherwise, you'd have two left or two right hand mittens.
You could make a friend and shake hands.
Uh huh.
I'll be honest. I didn't ask Mr Mitten for permission to post his face here. 
But he was wearing the sweater and scarf, I HADDA. 
I mean, Matchy! I finished the mittens and he came home from a trip, wearing this ensemble.
What are the odds?

So now I am expecting it to never snow again this season.
I've done my part.
Oh man. Bpffffffff.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Profounder reasons

The title of this post is a quote from this review.
Am I incorrect in thinking it should be "more profound reasons"?

from the NYT website

Jason Farago, our NYT reviewer,  has a problem.
He sorta reviews this show, but mostly, he wants you to know that Mrs Rivera is not his idea of an artist, nor is this a show he thinks matters.

"Love for her style has inflated the standing of her art all out of proportion, and in recent decades it’s become an article of faith that Kahlo was a more important painter than her acclaimed husband, indeed one of the indisputable greats. This is — well, not true, sorry! In Brooklyn you’ll find some engrossing self-portraits, including MoMA’s severe “Self-Portrait With Cropped Hair,” but Kahlo also painted half-competent still lifes, gross Stalinist agitprop, and ghastly New Age kitsch — including this show’s “The Love Embrace of the Universe ...,” a world-spiritualist tableau featuring a lactating Mother Earth that would make Deepak Chopra blanch. I’d name many other Mexicans, men and women, who drew more productively on surrealist, folk and indigenous vocabularies to force a new art after the revolution, including Rivera, the wily modernist Dr. Atl, the Mexico-based Englishwoman Leonora Carrington and the ripe-for-rediscovery Alice Rahon."

You can choose to agree or disagree with that assessment, but I'm not sure it needed to be said about the contents of the famously sealed and recently opened closet of the Casa Azul.

Certainly, it is incorrect to tag an artist with a slag term from 40 years after their passing. The reviewer is called to review the contents of the show in front of them, not the one they would like to review.

Sadly, our boy is stuck reviewing this show. The one with clothes.

"Do her outfits have the weight of art, or are they just so much biographical flimflam? My mileage varied from gallery to gallery, but it's worth considering, given her admirers' intense love for her persona, how much can be displaced onto skirts and shawls.

"Kahlo’s clothes are the prime draw here, though their splendor is dulled when seen in mirror-backed glass vitrines; in places they look like so many dusty Macy’s mannequins. (Where the V&A show went for visual splash, the Brooklyn version is highly subdued.)
from the NYT website

"Countless visitors, perhaps already following her on an Instagram account with nearly a million subscribers, will come to this show because of self-portraits like this one. I hope they also spend time with the even more powerful artworks in the same room: a dozen retablos, or votive paintings on metal by anonymous Mexicans, similar to hundreds of paintings Kahlo lived with in the Casa Azul. These artists knew, and Kahlo and Rivera knew when they collected them, that art has a much higher vocation than myth or merchandise."

Go look at the link at the top. Lotsa photos. Great photos.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Choir Dress Hem Mystery

Another batch of choir clothes came in last week.Some of the black hems failed. Some did not. Some failed in epic fashion.
None of the blue skirts failed.
The front hems failed. The back hems did not. And not all of them. "A lot of them", which is not a useful damage report. They were all mended by the choir assistant director.
There is more stretch potential on the front skirt than the split piece back.

So this is where we left off last week.

The difference between the black and blue hems is functionally: the black had lace seam tape, the blue did not. The blue ended up with a slight zig zag stitch. The black had a straight stitch
(just thinking ahead on pulling out the hems next year). 

The one hem fail I got to see had broken in the front (the rest had been mended).

I used the same Gutterman thread for spool and bobbin.
I'm glad I took notes.

The bobbin thread on the outside hem is snapped. It's pretty frayed.

I'm going to wager that in pulling on the dress over the head, the front skirt panel gets grabbed and stretched, and because it's wider it has more elasticity in it. So you could achieve a larger failure rate and a large fail.

Live and learn. Girls gotta get dressed.

I've done the new hem (needed to be let down - girls grow a lot around this age) and done with a zig zag. I think it looks dodgy, but functional is important.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

January Alterations

Got some stuff to change.
A hem for the spouse in those brown pants. The Marimekko sleeveless dress. The striped linen jumpsuit for round two. 
And the black pants with the waistband.
So here's the deal: the client is a shapely woman whose waist/hip ratio has made the side seams pop open at the waist band when she pulls them on.
And yes, they have a fly of adequate length. She's just got all that going on.

 So we're going to put some elastic in the sides to add that bit of 'give'

Just enough. I'm a little concerned that these 'vents' are going to pinch and bite, so she's trying them out. We'll see if this works or not.

The jumpsuit is not pictured. It was a lot of unpicking.
And sewing. And unpicking.
It was similar to this Simplicity model and needed better elastic to hold the weight of the bottom. 

 So it needed a bigger channel, which was originally a wide flat felled seam. Which I couldn't seem to figure out how to widen. There's kind of an explanation in the instructions for this Simplicity pattern, but I'm putting myself to sleep thinking about it. I added more fabric to make a bigger channel and then put in wider nonroll elastic. 
Of course I had to edit their instructions to make them make more sense to me. I'm seeing this pattern coming back to haunt me shortly, so why not take a moment and solve the dilemma.

The Marimekko x Uniqlo a line dress became a tunic. 
I trimmed off the bottom and used the original hem facing as the new hem facing.

I removed the facing with this handy dandy tool from Kai Scissors and Pac Fabrics:

I am willing to bet this will be at their booth at SewExpo. 

You mark from the edge with the t-square and use the facing as the cutting line.
The hem was to fall just below the bottom of the pockets.

Sew it back on, iron, topstitch. Life is good. I did handsew the facing to the back of the pocket (so I didn't sew them shut at the hemline)
Another batch of choir clothes came in yesterday, but we'll get to them later.
Some of the black hems failed. Some did not. Some failed in epic fashion.
None of the blue skirts failed.
The front hems failed. The back hems did not. And not all of them. "A lot of them", which is not a great or useful damage report.
There is more stretch potential on the front skirt than the split piece back.

We will find out where the fail faulted and fix. Next week's edition.