Orla oh la la

Back in January, I purchased this Tilly and the Buttons ‘Orla’ top pattern.  It’s now September, and finally I’ve made an Orla top.   The pattern was a joy to use.  Orla sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

I wanted to make a top with print sleeves and a solid colored torso.  This cotton upholstery fabric in my stash seemed right for the torso.  It was salvaged from sofa cushion covers I’d made years ago.  There were worn spots on the fabric, but there were enough good areas to carve out the body of a blouse from it.

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This Paris print cotton was something I simply liked when I saw it in the store, so I bought 1/2 yard for the sleeves.  My plan was to make a muslin shell to test the pattern, and if things turned out well, it would be a wearable muslin.

Paris print b RSR

Voila! A wearable muslin! 

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Where I deviated from the pattern:

  • Adjusted the sleeve length to a 3/4 sleeve.
  • Used a stand up/rolled collar instead of the pattern options.
  • Added a few gathers to the top of the sleeve rather than the pleat in the pattern.
  • The pattern suggests using lightweight drapey fabrics, but I used the heavy cotton, and I like the result.

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For bicycling and night activities, I incorporated some reflective elements.  I used reflective fabric for ‘hem tape’ on the sleeves.  At night, the hem can be flipped out for visibility.  There’s also a reflective covered button for the back closure.

A few more comments on the Orla pattern:  (I’ll definitely make more ‘Orlas’.)

  • The pattern size measurements ran true-to-large.  I’m so used to pattern measurements not working out, that I decided to make a larger size than the pattern info indicated.  Well, the pattern measurements were right on this time.  On the first fitting, the blouse was way too roomy.  I ended up taking it in two whole sizes, and could have gone down a third size.
  • The front curved darts are a pretty feature, and were easy to sew.  But they became a challenge when I had to downsize the garment.

(Ghastly lighting in this new selfie spot! Yikes!)

disgust when you get that text GIF by Barstool Sports

This picture was my inspiration.  I saw it in a Liberty of London ad last year.  Obviously, I didn’t stick close to the image.  I still want to make a top similar to this.  Maybe for Spring.

Lace top print sleeves from Liberty 

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Alterations–creating more room in the bodice of a Lilly Pulitzer dress

It occurred to me recently that as I create bright-colored summer dresses, I’m channeling Lilly Pulitzer in a way.

A couple of my dresses: 

So, I looked up Lilly designs, and sure enough, the cosmic connection is undeniable.  There are some differences; for instance, I almost always put a collar on my dresses, while ‘Lillys’ seem to all be sans-collar.  Lillys are also more shaped.  They have darts in front, back and bust.  I liberally omit darts.

Lilly Pulitzers:

Slim Aarons Pulitzer dresses 1964
More Lilly Pulitzer images here


A Lilly Pulitzer of my own!

Not long after I looked up images of Lillys, there was the real thing hanging on the rack in my fave vintage clothing store; on the half-price rack to boot!  I tried it on.  It was quite snug through the bodice.  When zipped up, it felt like a corset,… but fit otherwise.  There was no way it wasn’t coming home with me.  I’d figure out how to make it fit.

The dress

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The dress is from the Lilly Pulitzer ‘Jubilee’ collection; a limited edition to celebrate her 50th year of the line.  I believe it is from 2009.  (This isn’t vintage, but the store attendant told me they had made an exception for this label and design.  I’m glad they did!)

Cool Lilly details:

Lining.  The outer fabric is a middle-weight woven soft cotton.  The entire dress is lined with white cotton batiste/lawn fabric.  It feels quite comfortable, and drapes nicely.

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ID tag: When I opened up the lining under the arm, this tiny ‘Lilly’ tag was sewn into the seam allowance.  I’m guessing it is to help ID a counterfeit.

IMG_20190727_094127852aw RSR tag

Pockets! (I always intend to add pockets to my dresses, but it doesn’t get done if I’m in a rush to finish the garment.  Then I always intend to go back and add pockets later, but sigh, that doesn’t happen very often. Note to self:  Add pockets.  Every time.)

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Keyhole back.   It is a nice feature that adds interest but doesn’t require special undergarments.

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Unique Prints:  All Lilly Pulitzer prints have ‘Lilly’ embedded somewhere in the print.

Lilly in print RSR

This Jubilee Collection print also has ’50th’ embedded in it.

50th in print RSR



And now, the alteration:

To expand the bodice, I had to find some spare fabric in the dress.  The side-seam allowances were normal; not wide enough for expansion.  The hem was narrow.  No excess fabric there.  My solution was to remove two of the ‘flowers’ on each side of the lower edge.

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Two flower strips straightened out, pressed flat and then sewn together side-by-side, made a 9″ x 2″ strip.  This was plenty wide enough to expand each side of the bodice.  Here is one of the strips:

Strip aw RSR

The strips were used to make a V-shaped inset to the side seams under each arm.

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Mission accomplished!

The dress now fits comfortably.  Once I’d gotten past the tedious process of unpicking the stitching on the four flowers, the actual altering process was surprisingly quick and smooth.  No frustrations at all.

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Myrtle the sewing pup-prentice, was dying to help the entire time.  She finally found her role, hiding the ugly stack of paint supplies in my selfie.

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Dog calming vest for fireworks season

The brand name is ‘Thundershirt‘.  It is a tried and true device for calming dogs who fear thunder and fireworks, by creating a swaddling effect.

[Picture from the Thundershirt website.]

ThunderShirt Polo Dog Anxiety Jacket

 

I may end up buying the authentic Thundershirt for Myrtle (or one of the smorgasbord of other brands now available on Amazon, such as this one called Mellow Shirt“).

But first I want to see if Myrtle needs it and if it will calm her during fireworks season.  We’ve had three nights of fireworks in the neighborhood so far.  The first night, she was visibly agitated, even in the house when I was with her, trying to comfort her.  She was startled and barked at every boom.

So, I’ve mocked up a DIY compression vest for her.   The first mock up is made of terry cloth, to be soft and cool.

Vest Floor 2 w RSR

The next mock up will be all or part netting, and stretchier:

Netting w RSR

While wearing the terrycloth vest, she immediately began sitting and laying down more, while not showing signs that the vest bothers her.

Sitting w RSR

Napping w RSR

Watchdog 2 w RSR

However, the real test hasn’t occurred yet.  The fireworks have been quiet in our ‘hood since that first night.

I’ll be watching and tweaking the vests all week, hoping that by July 4th, we’ll have something that keeps her from being frightened.


The vest has not taken away her energy, and by that I mean her desire to play with the baby robins in the neighbor’s tree.


 

Fourth of July tips from our humane society:

Fourth of July pet tips from KHS

And from the totally awesome The Oatmeal:

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Download a free Mary Quant-inspired dress pattern and tutorial; courtesy of the Victoria & Albert Museum

The fantastic Victoria and Albert Museum in London is hosting a Mary Quant exhibit this year. With it they’re putting on workshops and special events.  If like me, you can’t get to London this year, there’s this!  The museum has commissioned a dress pattern to be designed in the style of Mary Quant.  It’s now available here, with written and video instructions and tutorial:

https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/sew-your-own-mary-quant-style-minidress

From the V&A pattern webpage:

This easy-to-use sewing pattern has been designed exclusively for us by Alice & Co Patterns. The design includes two neckline options, two pocket options, three collar finishes, and two sleeve finishes – all inspired by Mary Quant’s iconic designs. It’s a classic A-line mini which sits just above the knee – you can shorten it if you want to show a bit more thigh, or lengthen to turn it into a more 70s style maxi-dress.


Of course I’m going to make one!

The pattern designer was Alice and Co Patterns.  They have a nice collection of other patterns and inspiring projects, too.  https://aliceandcopatterns.com

 

A tote for cornhole game bean bags

So, you’ve made a cool set of bean bags for your Cornhole game.  Now, how to transport them.  Grocery sack?  Old box?  Better, here’s a diy bean bag tote that will make you look like a pro.

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Finished tote dimensions are approximately 12″ x 6″ x 6″

Start with these pieces of sturdy fabric:

  • Bag 19″ x 11″ (cut 2)
  • Handles 15″ x 4″ (cut 2)
  • Center divider 7″ x 12″ (cut 1)

General Construction Steps:

  • Fold each handle strip the long way, right sides together, and sew lengthwise with a 1/4″ seam, to make a tube.  Turn right side out and press flat.
  • Fold center divider in half right sides together, to make a 7″ (h) x 6″ (w ) piece.  Sew two of the open sides with a 1/4″ seam.  Turn right side out, press and sew the open end shut.
  • Sew one of the side seams on the bag.  Reinforce with an extra row of stitching.  (I used French seams.) Hem the top edge.
  • Then finish and attach the handles; centered on each side.
  • Center the divider on one side of the bag and stitch it in place along one edge of the divider.

Your piece will now look something like this.  This view is the ‘inside’ of the bag laid out flat:

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A closer view of the measurements:

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  • Sew the other side seam and the bottom seam of the bag.  Reinforce both seams with an extra line of stitching or your preferred reinforcing method.

Your bag will now look something like this, turned inside out

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  • Measure and mark for mitering the bag corners.  The miter seam should be 5 1/2″ long (2 1/4″ from the center line.)

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The stitching line marked:

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  • The miter is stitched and then reinforced with a second row of stitching.

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  • Turn the bag right side out, and tack the mitered corner in place.

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  • Then repeat the steps for mitering the other corner.
  • And now finally, pin the other side of the center divider in place down the center of the other side of the bag.

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Stitch the divider in place.  (It will be awkward, sewing from inside the bag, but thankfully it’s just the one short seam.)  IMG_20190601_203851646a

The bag is finished!  IMG_20190601_204455660a

Options for personalizing your bean bag tote are endless.  Here’s a colorful bag made from a placemat and some scraps.

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Here’s one I made out of the bag the corn came in.  Who could resist using a ‘whole corn’ bag to make a ‘corn hole’ bag.  I know, *groan*!

whole-corn-corn-hole-bag RSR

 

Making Cornhole Game Bean Bags

Yay, the season of outdoor get-togethers and yard games is upon us!  (Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, and more.)  For my family, it started with Mother’s Day, when all of us sibs converged on Mom’s house for the weekend.  One of my jobs was to bring bean bags for the Cornhole game.  My brother made nice wood Cornhole boards, and I made a new set of bean bags.

Cornhole is a totally awesome game for tailgaters, festival goers, and family get-togethers.  It is a bean bag toss where you try to toss the bag through the hole in a board 20+ feet away.

The boards can be purchased or custom made.  Boards can have really lovely designs.  Here is a monogrammed set available on Amazon.

Cornhole boards on Amazon

The popularity of the game is evident from the range of products available on Amazon.

The bags can be purchased or easily homemade.

Bean bag specs:

  • A set of Cornhole bags is eight (8) bags–4 in one color, and 4 in a different, contrasting color.
  • The bean bags are square, made of cotton duck, or similar heavy duty fabric, and filled with feed corn or a synthetic material that resembles corn in weight and consistency.
  • Each finished bag should be 6 inches x 6 inches, and weigh 16 ounces when filled.

The internet has numerous tutorials on making Cornhole bean bags.   Do a search on Google and YouTube, and you’ll find some excellent instructions.

So, this post is less a tutorial, and more a compilation of tips I’ve picked up from making the bags.

Constructing the bags:

Start with 7″-7.5″ fabric squares.  You’ll need 16 squares for 8 bean bags.  Err on the side of cutting the squares larger, not smaller:

Squares pattern 2

Stack two squares, right-sides together and sew all sides with a 1/2 inch seam allowance, leaving a minimum 3-inch opening on one side, for adding the corn.

[Stitching lines and opening:]

Squares pattern with stitching lines 3

Reinforce the seams!  Reinforce by adding a second row of stitching in the seam allowance.  Then zig-zag or overlock the edges for even more reinforcement.

Squares pattern with stitching lines reinforced 3

[Alternatively, reinforce by sewing the edges with French Seams.  Tutorial here. ]

Then turn the bags right side out and get ready to fill them.

Filling the bags…

  • Whole corn for the filler can be purchased at a farm store or feed store.  The price is usually less than $10 for a 40-50 lb bag of corn.  I buy it at this regional store. https://www.atwoods.com/atwoods-whole-corn-40-lbs.html
  • Freeze the corn for 24-48 hours, to kill any little bugs and things that might be waiting to come out.
  • Before weighing, sift the corn through a colander to eliminate as much of the corn dust and other ‘stuff’ as you can.  Then measure out 15 – 15.5 ounces of corn for each bag.  The other .5 oz or so will come from the weight of the fabric.
  • With a funnel, load the measured corn into the bag.

A funnel made from a plastic gallon container works well because it has a big enough opening for the corn to pass through.  A standard kitchen funnel doesn’t have a big enough opening.

Funnel

To close off the bag, push the corn down in the bag as far as it will go, and then secure it there with pins or a long needle.  For this, I prefer to use a long ‘doll needle’.  The 5″ needle is easy to insert, and the one long needle holds everything in place.  (Actually, a doll needle comes in handy for so many things, that I recommend keeping one in the sewing kit.)

Doll Needle

Run-Sew-Read 2019

The picture below shows how the doll needle holds the corn back from the stitching area, to give you room to maneuver the open end of the bag under the presser foot.

Sewing the bag shut

That little bit of extra room in the top of the bag is important not just for room to sew, but also for the finished bag.  Bags stuffed too tight with corn can potentially burst on impact.

Remember to reinforce the closure with a second row of stitching, and maybe even a third row.

Run-Sew-Read 2019

Get creative with the bags!  Try patterns and fabric paints.

Finished bags 2 a RSR

Then, you are ready to play!

The bags (and extra corn) should be stored in a rodent-proof container.

Additional tips on bags and peace brought to you by John Lennon of Bag.

Bagism a

 

 

DIY Dollar Store phone case

Last month I ordered a new phone and case.  When they arrived, the case didn’t fit the phone.  Dollar Store to the rescue.  At the Dollar Store, I found some cases that were the correct width, but too short.  They were flexible material, so I decided to try cutting one to make it fit.  I bought two, in case I messed one up.  Here’s how the process went.

Cut the case in two, to increase the length.  The case is a rubbery material, so strong shears are needed.  I used kitchen shears.  (The picture below shows the finished black case on the right, and next to it the turquoise one in progress.)

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This shows the additional length needed to fit over the phone.  Next I punched holes in both pieces, to stitch in a piece of fabric to bridge the gap.

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Marking and punching the holes:

The locations of the holes were first measured and marked, using a simple ruler and gel pen.

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A leather punch worked great for punching the holes.  My leather punch isn’t the exact one pictured, but is substantially similar.  It was $7 well spent.  I use the punch all the time for making belts fit, and numerous other ‘hacks’.  Click the picture to go to the punch on Amazon.

Leather punch from Amazon

When one side was punched…

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I used those holes to mark where to punch on the corresponding piece.  IMG_20190325_094553076IMG_20190325_095052635a

Then, using cotton yarn and a darning needle, I stitched a scrap of woven belting to each side, to bridge the gap.  Almost any durable fabric could be used.  Think denim, duck canvas, vinyl, etc.  Just make sure the edges are bound to prevent raveling.

Using the kitchen shears again, I adapted the back holes for the photo lens and sensor.  This first attempted adaptation wasn’t very pretty, but it did its job.  IMG_20190417_075932068a

On the other case, I omitted the fabric, and simply laced the two pieces together with elastic cord.

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The cord lacing fits as well as the fabric piece.  It was easier to do, and came out looking a lot nicer than the fabric, I think.

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Here’s a side view.  With the kitchen shears, I modified the side cutouts to match the control buttons on the phone.

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From the front, the cases look like this.

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The verdict:

The DIY cases worked out great.  They never came loose from the phone, and they did their job of protecting the phone while I ordered another case that was supposed to fit the phone.  When that case didn’t fit, I ordered a third case.  After three failed attempts to get a proper case, I gave up.  There were other issues with the phone too, so the phone was returned, and I ordered a different phone and case.  The DIY Dollar Store cases got me through while waiting for the ‘right’ phone and case to arrive, and they would have lasted a long time, if I’d kept that phone.



Have a lovely Easter.  We sang this in church on Easter morning when I was little.

The Great British Sewing Bee is back!

For people located in the US, like me, there are limited viewing options for this awesome BBC series, The Great British Sewing Bee.  But I put up with those annoyances because I love this show so much.  For a quick intro, here is the trailer for the past season–Season 4:

After an excruciatingly long wait, Season 5 premiered this month!  Here is the entire hour-long Episode 1 of Season 5 on Youtube.  My advice is to watch it now, because like other GBSB episodes, this quality upload will likely disappear soon from Youtube.  Which also means, parts of this post will disappear.

The sewing contestants who have appeared on the GBSB are from a wide variety of backgrounds and ages.  Many are self-taught.  Some of the older participants have spent their lives sewing for themselves and their children.

While I’d love to have the show’s workshop and haberdashery, I would be crippled by the time pressures!  How do they do it with a show host yelling at them that they are almost out of time???

As the screenshots below indicate, the contestants design and produce amazing garments in just 2 or 3 hours; sometimes less time than that.

GBSB haberdashery & workshopGBSB jumpsuitGBSB wiggle dresses

What happens to the contestants?  After their stint on the show, my impression is that most of the contestants go back to their regular lives.  But at least one, Tilly Walnes, has parlayed her skill and participation on the show into a successful business.  She has an inspiring website for beginners and experts alike.  The patterns Tilly has designed for sale in her shop are great.  I purchased her “Coco” dress pattern, and now [almost] three Coco dresses later, I’ve purchased three more of her patterns.  Hopefully the new patterns will all soon become fun garments in my closet.

When to watch:  The GBSB episodes are broadcast weekly on BBC, on Tuesdays at 9pm UK time, which is 3pm Central time in the US.  Soon after that, start checking Youtube for an uploaded episode.  It may take a few hours, or days before one appears.  Warning:  Choose carefully among the Youtube offerings, and by that I mean steer clear of the dodgy videos that require you to click a link outside of Youtube to watch the episode.

GBSB imdb link:  https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3010856/

We really need to be able to watch The Great British Sewing Bee on TV in the US!  I’ve inquired with our local PBS station, and they made inquiries, and were told succinctly that it is not available in the US and may never be available here.  Commence temper tantrum.

UPDATE!  Here is Season 5 Episode 3, aired Tuesday, February 26, 2019.

  • They are doing vintage 60s-70s garments, using vintage machines and playing great background music from the period.  There’s my sewing machine!
  • And they ventured into Punk!  “Anarchy in the sewing bee!”

Polar vortex trousers

It was a Big Brothers Big Sisters group sleepover at the zoo.  The conversation between me and a younger mentor went like this:

Her:  Haven’t seen that pant style in awhile.
Me:  Yes, they were a favorite in a prior decade.  They’ve been too comfy to get rid of.
Her:  Um, I’m pretty sure it was more than one decade ago.
Me:  I did say “a” prior decade; not “the” prior decade.

To give you the right visual, they were black stirrup pants.  Super comfortable for a sleepover, but admittedly…

Stirrup pant intact aw RSR

…they haven’t been in style for decade(s).  Actually, it was the prior millennium.  And, they aren’t warm.  So, when I needed a pattern for some insulated warm pants, I broke down and cut the stirrup pants apart to make the pattern.  Turns out it was a good choice for a pattern, because:

  • It was only two pattern pieces, which made an easy-to-sew pattern.
  • The fit was loose (unlike leggings or skinny pants), which accommodated the bulk of the insulated layers.

Pants pieces aw RSR

The fit came out right on the first try, except for the lower legs, which had too much taper for the thickness of the fabric layers.  To fix the lower leg issue, I opened each side seam below the knee and inserted a long triangle.  This worked fine.

Insert2 aw RSR

For the fly closure, I used a strip of velcro, which was not strong enough by itself, but worked fine when I added a waistband and fastener.

(View before adding the waistband.)

Pants before waistband aw RSR

Tips and notes:

  • Reducing unnecessary bulk.  For the fly and waistband facing side, I removed the pile from between the layers.  Those spots don’t need double insulation, or bulk.
  • Walking foot recommended. The lazy, impatient me didn’t use the walking foot on the sewing machine, because it is slow, and I wanted to sew this first pair up quickly.  I got by, and the pants came together quickly and easily.  But with these layers and pile, a walking foot would be the better way to go.
  • The fabric was a surprise purchase from Joann.  While shopping for something else, I spotted this at 60% off, which made it $8/yd.  It appears to be an in-store only item, so I can’t provide a link to it.  But if you have a Joann store nearby, go check the bargain fabric section with the color-coded discount dots.

The fabric:

Insulated fabric a w RSR

Why insulated pants?  For comfort and productivity.  I’m cold all winter.  Besides how miserable that is, I feel like it takes much time out of my planned day to warm up, whether by situating myself near a space heater, or having a heated throw at my desk.  It slows my productivity and energy level, just getting and staying warm.  I want to try designing and making some simple, practical garments that I can wear any day, every day, all day, at home, and just feel warm.  The ultimate plan is to make garments I can wear wherever I go during the day–from the office to grocery shopping.

This is the first of the attempts.  Not bad for $8 in materials.  To be honest though, they look like simple insulated pants that don’t cost much to buy ready-to-wear.  Must try harder to make them look more stylish for every day wear.

Insulated pants mirror model a w RSR

The polar vortex of last week was my inspiration to make these warm pants a priority.  But as luck goes, on the day I finished the pants there was a drastic warmup.  It was a 60s-70sF weekend with sun.  Crocuses bloomed!

Crocuses 2019 RSR

Alas, the winter temperatures have made a rude return, with 30+mph wind gusts, a windchill temp of -11F, and an icy coating on everything.  The pants are doing their job of keeping me comfortable.