Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sequoia National Park

Today I was a tourist in my own backyard. Sequoia National Park is only about an hour from here and our city recently started a shuttle service from Visalia to the Park. For $15, it's well worth it. No worries about parking, gas, driving, or adding to the valley pollution. It was a very fun day.

Whenever I go to the mountains, I feel like it recharges my batteries. It's so peaceful and beautiful, that I tried to capture some of it on film so I could share it with you. This picture was taken at Crescent meadow, where there is a mixture of sequoia, pine, fir, and cedar trees, along with a wide variety of brush and ground cover plants.

In the spring, there are wildflowers, but we didn't see many today. I did get one picture of some here

The General Sherman tree is the largest living thing. We chose not to go there today as we have been there many times and it is always very crowded. There are lots of trails nearby, however, that are relatively quiet. But, as I said, we did not go there. We did take a trail around the perimeter of crescent meadow. It was so peaceful and quiet. I could have stayed there for hours.

Sequoia trees are pretty much only found here in California, and almost exclusively in this part of the state. There are the largest trees on earth. Did you know that an average sequoia, if laid on the ground in a football field would go from one end to the other?

Sequoia trees are highly resistant to fire and insects. Occasionally fire will kill a sequoia, but for the most part, fires help them. For one thing, the heat of the fire causes the seed-bearing cones to open up, and a week or two after the fire, they drop their seeds and new trees sprout. Also, the fire has burned away all the brush that would normally choke out the seedlings, so they have a better chance of taking root. The main thing that kills giant sequoias is the fact that they just fall over. They have a very shallow root system. If they grow too heavy on top, they can just topple over and break into pieces. You do see upturned roots like this all over the park. This is not one of the biggest root systems I've seen, but it gives you an idea. This is only 1/2 of the roots from this tree.

We also visited other places in the part, but stayed in Giant Forest. We had lunch at lodgepole and visited the gift shop there. There is also a museum at the Giant Forest entrance, and we spent some time there as well. But, the highlight of my day was the beauty of Crescent Meadow. Surprisingly enough, I did not see any wildlife today - not even a bird. Usually you can expect to see hawks, eagles, squirrels, and even a bear, fox, or cougar on occasion. The only wildlife I saw today was flies!

Oh, and please, click on these pix to see how beautiful it really is in the park!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

1945 progress - sleeve

I've been working on my jacket little bits at a time. You can see here that I have all of the pieces of the shell sewn together except for the sleeves. At this point, I realized that my pocket was too large and would be running into the seam between the facing and the front, so I cut that down smaller. As you can see, there are a lot of seams in this jacket! But, that's the great thing about it, because you can really get the fit right - which always seems to be my nemesis!

I really like to use my tailor's board when making a jacket or shirt. You can really get into those tight spots and press everything well. People at my work always say that my clothes don't look homemade (thank goodness). I tell them it's because I spend more time at the ironing board than the sewing machine! Good pressing really makes a huge difference.

OK, so now the fit issue. I started this jacket by cutting 12 in the shoulder and then tapered to a 14 at the hip. I could tell that the upper bodice was too big, so I cut the pieces down to a size 10 above the bust and resewed them. I then removed 3/4" from the shoulder and tapered it down to the original seamline at the bottom of the armscye. I still have too much fullness above the bust, so I am going to need to take some more off the front bodice above the bust. Also, I think I need to take the sleeve in a little bit, since I orignially cut it as a 12 and I probably need to cut it down to an 8. I am trying this on over jeans, but I can see that I'm going to also need to take it out a little in the hip area.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A little gift

I made this little cupcake pincushion after I was inspired by ones I saw at Stacy Sews. She used a book called Warm Fuzzies, so of course, I went on Amazon and purchased the book. There are a lot of cute projects in the book, and they are all made from felted wool. I wanted to make a quick little thank you for my friend, Sandy, since she was kind enough to lend me her sewing machine. Now, where I live, you just don't find that many wool sweaters. We really only have 2 seasons here: summer and winter. Sweaters are cotton or acrylic. I won't say that no one wears wool, but it's hard to find in the stores, and so I'm thinking it will be just as hard to find in thrift stores. (Already went through that looking for a wool blanket to make an ironing board pad.) So, I turned to my local Michael's Craft store to see what I could find. I was looking for felt, but what I found was sheets of fleece. Now I like this idea because the fleece is thicker than the felt. The craft felt was just too flat - although it would be OK for the miniature cupcakes. I also needed some felted wool ribbing for the outside, so I went to JoAnns and got some cotton ribbing. I think it turned out pretty cute. I also added a washer to the inside of the bottom to add a little weight and to keep it upright. I did buy some brown and ivory felt to make a chocolate cupcake. I think if I use the felt in three layers, it will work.

I did work a little on my jacket last night. Oh, and let me clarify - the pattern number is 1945, it is not a style from the year 1945 - although, I guess it could be. I never asked Nancy how she came up with her pattern numbers, but maybe that has something to do with it!
Anyway, I did email Nancy Erickson with some fit questions and she was kind enough to give me some advice. Since my jacket was basted together, I took it apart above the waist, and cut all the pieces to a size smaller (10) above the bust. I also took an additional 3/4 inch off of each shoulder. Now, I think I may have inadvertently taken a little off the bust, because it seems more snug there than it was before, but I can easily let out a little at the middle front seam at the bust. I think I will baste the sleeves on and check the fit again before sewing them more securely. I also plan to put in shoulder pads (since I don't have shoulders) and that will change the fit as well.
I'm hoping to get some sewing done this weekend, although I'm not sure when I can squeeze it in. I have a hair appt on Sat. morning and then I have to go work in my classroom for a few hours. Sunday DH and I are taking an all day trip up to Sequoia National Park, and Monday afernoon we are having a BBQ. Sometime this weekend I also need to hit the grocery store, do laundry, and pay some bills. Yikes - I'm ready for June already!

Monday, August 25, 2008

1945 Progress

I got to do a little sewing tonight. Last night I sewed the center back seam, and the plaid did not match at all. It took me forever to rip out black thread on this black background boucle! So tonight, I basted the back pieces(4), side seams, and shoulder seams together with yellow thread! I was expecting to have to make a lot of fit adjustments, but this seems to fit nicely across the back as it is.

I'm not sure how much room I need to leave here for the sleeves, but it seems like the armscye's are too big. Maybe I need to move the shoulder point in a bit?

Also, it seems like there may be some excess fabric just above the bust at the armscye. I usually have this problem and always feel like things would fit better if I took a dart at the arm. This has a princess seam that goes into the arm, so maybe I should take it in a little there.

What do you think?

Friday, August 22, 2008


School has started and I feel like I’m finally settling into the routine. The routine of working late, bringing work home at night, and going in on the weekends! Arghh!! Actually, I won’t complain, because I think I have a pretty good class this year. My class last year was, well, shall we say, challenging? Not that I don’t have my challenges this year. (one with turrets, one with epilepsy, almost 1/2 my class reading below grade level, a couple reading at first grade level (I teach fifth) and I already had one parent pull their child out of my class because I tried to teach her how to hold her pencil correctly.

Back to school night was last night and I had a pretty good turn out. It seems like I have some really nice and supportive parents this year. I also got to see a few students and parents from last year which was nice. Usually, I don’t see my students again because they go to another school after they leave fifth grade.

On the sewing front, things have been kind of quiet. I have been working on my free-motion quilting, and although this has hundreds of mistakes (no, I’m not exaggerating) I still think it looks pretty good (you know what they say - ignorance is bliss)

I stopped at the quilt shop on my way home today and picked up this pretty panel. Not sure what I’ll do with it yet, but I they had one made up in there and I liked it. Then I went to JoAnns and bout 1/4 yard of 8 different flannel fabrics to cut up into white-board erasers for my students.
Yesterday I got an email from a lady at my church who does a lot of sewing. She is having a sewing day at her house and asked me if I’d like to come. What, pass up an excuse to sew??? I think not! Yes, I’m sorry DH, but that cleaning up in the garage will have to wait for another weekend! ( we don’t let him clean in the garage unsupervised - he throws everything away. It’s an ugly site when I have to go pulling my things OUT of the dumpster! - and yes, we have a dumpster in front of our house right now. This is like putting a big juicy steak in front of a dog with a fence in between. DH is dying to throw away anything he can get his hands on!) Anyway, I’m going to the sewing day tomorrow, but I have to make sure my machine is working well first. I ‘ve been having a lot of problems with it lately and have been using my friend, Sandy’s machine. I think mine is working fine for regular sewing now. It’s just that every time I drop the feed dogs, it won’t pick up the bobbin thread. I can’t figure it out. I’ll be working on my 1945 jacket this weekend - when I’m not perusing Science curriculum or grading papers.

And, I had a nice package in the mail when I got home. I had ordered fabrics from and they arrived today. Most are knits. The ivory is a stretch crepe and the pink floral is a rayon crinkle. Everything else is some kind of knit. I think I need to have a cutting day and cut out a bunch of knit tops. Knits are so fast to sew together that if I had some cut out I could really get a lot done.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

a welt pocket

I have been cutting and fusing for the last three evenings. I took this picture last night of the pieces I had fused so far. Each of these is a double layer. That's a lot of cutting and fusing!! I love the fusible underlining that I get from Nancy Erickson. All of the pieces that are not interfaced are fused with this underlining. It is just enough to help the boucle hold its shape, and keeps it from raveling all over the world. Tonight I cut the underlining for and fused the center backs, side backs and side fronts. Finally I am finished with that part!!

The first thing you do in this patter is to make the welt pockets (if you choose them over patch or inseam pockets. I decided to make a practice one first. The instructions in this pattern were so easy and clear, that it came out almost perfectly the first time. (I say almost, because you can see a little bit of my stitching, but I was using contrasting thread for practicing anyway. This wouldn't show if I were using black.) Unfortunately, the beauty of the welt pocket is kind of lost on this fabric, but I wanted to do it this way anyway. The green stitching you see is the whipstitching that holds the pockets closed during construction. It will be removed (in the real one) after construction is completed. Maybe tomorrow I'll get to sew one seam :-)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

1945 Jacket

Well,I finally got started on the FSG1945 jacket. I had already traced the pattern, but I wanted to add length to it since when I originally traced it, I had made it shorter. Also, for some reason, I had lowered the waist one inch when I traced it the first time. I had to change this back as well. I started to lay out my pattern, and realized that I needed to do a single layout. This fabric is really unstable, and I didn't realize how uneven the plaid is. Not only is it a one way plaid, the repeat is about every 18". I'm really glad I bought extra fabric, because there is no way I could have gotten this laid out otherwise. As you can see from this picture, I had to lay some pieces out in the middle of the fabric in order to get the lines to match. I still need to cut out all the pockets, collars, and back facing. Next I will fuse interfacing and underlining. I probably won't cut the lining until after I make the shell of the jacket. Oh, those are not the same two pattern pieces in the picture, One is the jacket front and the other is the facing. I do think I cut some pieces longer than the others, but I'm sure I will shorten the whole thing a little bit anyway, so it will all come out even.

**Oh, and side note from the previous post. I found the missing jacket fabric! It didn't really run away from home, it was in the very last box I put away! After I work out all of the fit issues in this version of 1945, I will make another one in the run-away fabric!

The Fabric Store

I have been wanting a cabinet to store all of my fabric and finally got one. I was trying to decide between 2 at our local OSH, and settled on the bigger one. I'm glad I did! In a way, it was exciting and sickening to unload all of my boxes of fabric and put them onto shelves. At last I can finally see at a glance what I have. And OMG!! I have too much! I know there are others that have much more, but even if I made up every single pieces, could I possible use that many clothes? Opening up the boxes was kind of like bringing out the Christmas decorations. I'd forgotten about several pieces, and most I could remember exactly what pattern or project I had bought the fabric for. I will say it is inspiring to be able to have everything organized in one space. All of my linings and silks are still in a box on the bottom shelf, because it will be easier to pull out the box and look at it than to try to look at all of those smaller pieces on the bottom shelf. I could rearrange the shelves, but I'm not going to. I thought about organizing by color, but this seems to work better for me. The top shelf is all jacket and coat fabrics, next shelf is knits and some unusual fabrics. Third shelf is linen, linen-like, and cotton. Next shelf down is wool, blends, and suitings. Bottom shelf is denim, twill, the box of silk & linings, and a few odd things. Oh, and the doors aren't bowed. For some reason, my camera is doing a weird "fish-eye" on all of my shots. It's been doing it for a while, but didn't do it when it was new. I'll probably have to take it in to the camera shop.

I haven't been doing much sewing lately because I have been having machine trouble. Last weekend I took a machine quilting class, and about half way through the day, I started having trouble with my machine. By the end of the day, it seemed I couldn't even sew anything because my needle was not taking up the bobbin thread. (Today, I pulled apart my machine for about the fifth time, and now it seems to be working OK.) I only seem to have trouble when I drop the feed dogs.) A couple of nights ago, my friend Sandy, offered to let me use her machine. She is a quilter and has another machine she is using right now, so I took her up on her offer. This machine is about 10 years old, but really works well. I have been practicing my free motion quilting, and it really is fun. I'm really glad she let me borrow it. Unfortunately, so is my dog. One of the legs fell off the extension table, and he chewed it up before I even knew he had it. Fortunately, the legs from my coverpro table are exactly the same, so I just exchanged it. I wonder where you can buy just the legs. Actually, all I need is the foot.

Friday, August 08, 2008

FSG 1964

Well, I finally finished the first piece to the mini wardrobe contest. This is a black wool gabardine skirt made from Nancy Erickson's FSG 1964 pattern. This was an easy skirt to make and well drafted. I liked that there were four darts in the front and back, so there were more fitting opportunities. I cut a straight 14, and then ended up taking about 1/4 inch in each side seam at the waist and also made the back darts a little deeper. I put an invisible zipper in the back, and lined it with rayon bemberg. I hand stitched the lining to the zipper and hand stitched the skirt hem. I really like this skirt, but even the wool gabardine tends to itch against my skin, so I will definitely need to wear a "tuck -in blouse" with this skirt. I fit this one a little closer in the waist than I usually do and I'm hoping that will solve the problem I have with skirts twisting all over the place throughout the day.

I was thinking that this would be more of a pencil skirt, but it is actually more of a straight skirt. I thought about bringing in the hem a bit at the bottom, but I think it will be fine the way it is.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Are You Thinking Ahead to Fall?

I know I am. I'm glad to be pulling out some of my fall fabrics (well, early fall fabrics - it doesn't get cold until November here) and playing with ideas. Of course, I'm still sewing for summer, so I'm looking for "transitional pieces"

There are two contests starting today at PR. One is the mini-wardrobe contest. I've already posted my story board, but basically, it's 4 pieces, 3 different types of garment, 3 different colors (at least) and 4 wearable outfits (or more) as a result. All of this in four weeks. Then there is the
lined jacket contest. I am making a lined jacket as part of my mini-wardrobe, but I'm not entering that contest because I'm managing the board.

It's not too late to sign up for either of these contests. There are only 11 people in the lined jacket contest, so let's start making some jackets! Also, I think there is going to be a sew-along on Stitchers Guild for the Fashion Sewing Group 1945 jacket. I'll let you know more about that when it gets going.

Today I had to go buy some shorts for my dad. Well, somehow I just made a little side trip (20 miles) into Tulare to the outlet mall where Bass was having a big shoe sale. I bought 3 pair! All at 40% off. Yes, I'm definitely thinking about school and what I will wear to make it through the days comfortably. I just had to buy those shoes you know. The truth is, once school starts, I never take time to shop. I take time to sew - but not shop. So I was happy to find 3 pair of shoes that fit and hopefully they will not hurt my feet.