Thursday, September 26, 2013


I do it every year: totally fall for fall.  August gets so hot, and I'm so sick of watering the plants that look dead anyway and the canvas shoes have gone from cute to "can I leave the house in this?" embarrassing.

And then a few chilly days come along and I let myself fall for everything fall.  I love foliage and sweaters-but-no-jackets and drinking my afternoon coffee HOT.  Speaking of which, have you seen this? Hits so close to home, I almost spit out my pumpkin spice latte all over my yoga pants:

I know y'all do it too, get excited about this season that only lasts for about three weeks and treat it like it's the new forever.  But this year I'm not going to get seduced into buying those cute boots that won't do me any good on the December ice. Why is a "fall boot" a thing?


Suddenly you NEED, not just want, a gauzy scarf that your'e going to "layer" even though you're not, because when it gets cold, the layers you'll need better be a lot thicker than that.  I think I'm going to coin a new phrase: anything that is impractical but feels, on a gut-level, necessary, I'm going to call September.  You want two pairs of new glasses because you can't decide between the formal and for-fun frames? Don't do it.  It's so September.  Another reusable grocery bag, because you left the other twenty in the car and this one was super cute? You'll regret it! Totally September. Beats by Dre headphones, a new colander because it's red, IPhone 5S = Septemberish - I can resist.

But sometimes I can't help myself.  Without thinking it through, I pictured the cider doughnuts and the pretty leaves and the windy days and I let myself indulge in a little September this week.

I have this lovely, and I mean loverly, pinkish wool that I got at Sew Low Discount Fabrics.  It can be pink or almost lavender depending on the light.  I only got a yard of it, with no specific project in mind.

This is where I'm supposed to show you the the drapey pile of luxurious wool, but my rotary cutter wouldn't wait, so here are the scraps to give you a sense of what little pieces of heaven would look like.

So what better way to use my $30 a yard, good-enough-for-the-queen, dry-clean-only, 100% wool suiting than on a between-seasons jacket for a 1.75-year-old who still drools, draws on herself, and rolls around on the ground for fun?  No really, here she is with her friend Alex on the playground this week:

I knew the perfect jacket - this Heidi & Finn pattern, which you can get here:

It takes a certain sense of humor to name a child's pattern "The Cocktail Swing Coat"
It came out OK from the back:

And it matches her little knit-by-Kate bunny perfectly:

The ties seem a little awkward and thick on my version, though.

I made a 3T since J has always been a bit big for her age - but she absolutely swims in this.  It's way too big for now.  I know girl, I'm disappointed too.

I have a feeling come April I'm going to shove her into this every day for a week before adding it to the bin of things that she's grown out of, but that I'm not ready to part with.

I'm not going to beat myself up over this one though.  Sometimes I think you've got to just do what the fabric tells you to do, and this was meant to be my daughter's coat.  The lining is a cotton voile called "Josephine's Bouquet" and I think it looks like Dianthus, one of my favorite early summer flowers:

So yeah, it was expensive and impractical and doesn't fit her, but sometimes September gets to me too.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Weekending? For Pleat's Sake!

I love to travel - or loved to, back when it was just two (or one) of us.  Words like 'flight' and 'hotel' used to bring these images to mind:

 Now I just picture this:

Image via:

So when our quilt guild proposed sewing Amy Butler's Not-For-The-Faint-of-Heart Weekender bag, I hesitated.  Like there will ever be another weekend away where I can pack everything we need into one cute little bag with no wheels! But it's a nice pattern; a really professional looking bag.

Depending on the fabric you choose and whether you quilt it, it can look very Pan Am Flight Attendant circa 1968 or more Vera Bradley (I was going for Pan Am). Luckily my sister, who leads workshops in teaching teachers to teach needed a big bag for lugging around her materials, so this one was for her.

Back in the day when I was sewing curtains for J's room and buying fabric from Freddy Farkel's I ran into the problem of a 'minimum purchase.'   It's a little loud, but Mr. Responsibly and I fell in love with P Kaufmann's Tempo Rock n Roll.

Even after the curtains, I still have A-C-R-E-S of it, and luckily my sister shares my good taste and isn't too invested in a super-professional textile look.

The Weekender pattern has been described as challenging, impossible and lethal (there is an actual support group on flickr).  I know I'm not an expert with the sewing machine, but with a description like that I couldn't help but wonder if I was good enough.  If you have the desire to try this yourself, you should follow the sew-along on the BMQG blog (last installment by moi). If you use the right sewing needle (the one for denim) and allow yourself plenty of time, it's actually not too hard, just a little tedious - particularly cutting out all the parts.  

While in the process of making this, I remembered that waaaay back in the day, I justified the mandatory minimum fabric purchase by telling myself that I would make purses with the left over.  It was the *free* "For Pleats Sake" pattern I had in mind.

I'd actually already bought the lining fabric and two sets of handles for it back then, and shoved the whole thing in the corner, you know, to work on later.  Two years later.  So while I had the big roll of fabric out, it seemed pretty now-or-never for these purses.

When we found this fabric, my first thought was that my friend Fox would really like it; it's always kind of reminded me of her.  So I made a bag for each of us.  That also provided an excuse to order the handles in both black and red since I couldn't decide which I liked better.

The pattern was simple enough, and I have not doubt I will be making seasonal variations on this, it's right up my alley style-wise.  So here's what I want to remember for next time:

-  When making the pleats, the two marks, 3/4" apart should match up (it's a very shallow pleat, the fold  is half-way between the marks).  In order to center the pleats, I had to do the first one 3" in, and then 2" apart thereafter, otherwise I got 7 pleats.  Apparently I'm the only one on the internet who has had this problem though!
-  I wish I'd done one interior pocket for keys/phone.  I find a lot of pockets frustrating, but one is always a necessity.  This bag is too big to just let everything loose in there and ever expect to find your keys again.
- I might make this 2/3 the size next time.  Even though I got the longest straps, they still seemed a little short and thin in proportion to the bag.
-  I was impatient with sewing on the handles and they are unacceptably messy looking from inside.  It wouldn't have been that hard to do this right the first time,