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.

IMG_20190601_204455660a

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:

IMG_20190601_194036796a

A closer view of the measurements:

IMG_20190601_194041155a

  • 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

IMG_20190601_195330958a

  • 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:

IMG_20190601_200628906a

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

IMG_20190601_201430428a

  • 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.

IMG_20190601_203600357a

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.

IMG_20190525_090517268aw RSRIMG_20190525_090452050 aw RSR

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.)

IMG_20190325_093701252

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.

IMG_20190417_080216157a

Marking and punching the holes:

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

IMG_20190325_094058699a

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…

IMG_20190325_094420475a

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.

IMG_20190417_094745546a

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.

IMG_20190417_100432655a

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

IMG_20190417_075954000a

From the front, the cases look like this.

IMG_20190417_075925300bIMG_20190417_080206165b

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.

Six Updates on Things I Wrote About in 2018

Just for fun, here is what has happened with some of the things I wrote about over the last year.

1.

Our historic ballpark is gone.

The entrance to our 84-year old ballpark looked like this in September, when they announced it would be torn down.

WP_20180903_003 a

They first tore the grandstand down.  Here is the site in November, when only the box office and entry gate remained.  Now those are gone too, and it’s a big flat dirt field.

stadiumtorndown2 RSR

stadiumtorndown b RSR

In 2020, we are supposed to have a new ballpark in its place.

2.

I finished reading “Sticky Fingers”.

Sticky fingers cover

After my blog post about the book, it took a couple of renewals from the public library, but eventually I finished the book.  It is a well written book about a repulsive character.  It was a repulsive read to the end.  It made me want all of those hours back that I’d spent over the years reading Rolling Stone magazine.

The soiling of Page 393.

As I was pushing on to finish the book, a bad thing happened.  I took the book with me to the movie theater to read while waiting for the movie to start.  I bought a little bag of popcorn.  Too late, I realized the bag was leaking butter.  I soiled the library book on possibly the most important page, and maybe the only important page of the entire book.

Page 393 a w RSR

When I returned it to the library, I confessed and showed them the page.  I’m waiting to find out if they are going to bill me for the book.  They certainly are within their rights to ask me to pay for it.  Because I was up front with them, and the stain was confined to a couple of pages (it bled through to the next page), they will not ask me to pay for a replacement book.  Lesson learned!  Have I mentioned how much I ❤ our library?  Well, this is just the latest reason.

3.

The electric blanket needs another repair already.

Thanks to the foster pup, aka “Jaws”.

Chewed plug aw RSR

4.

The pepper plant is still growing.  

The Poblano pepper plant that I’d planted and tended outdoors all summer, is now in a pot on the enclosed porch in the south sun.  It gets cold on the porch but has stayed above freezing.  When the sun is shining, the room can get above 70°.  Three peppers are growing on the plant, albeit very slowly.  I may be waiting all winter for a harvest of three peppers.

Outdoors vs Indoors:

 

Indoors

5.

Another Coco dress is in the works.

Here are numbers 1 and 2.

 

Sneak preview of #3:

Yellow Coco aw RSR

6.

I’ve made a shell from the 1937 pattern making instructions

 

and it fits.

IMG_20190101_160201865a w RSR

 


Aaand another holiday season is in the books.  One of my favorite holiday songs goes from reflective to angry to a call for hopefulness.  It sums up the end of the holiday season the way I feel it–looking back on the joyous gatherings of family and friends, and looking forward to the new year.

“And so I skate, across the Thames, hand in hand, with all my friends.  And all the things that we planned…

“Goddamn this government, will they ever tell me where the money went?  Protesters march out on the street, as young men sleep amongst the feet.”

“The end of Christmas day, when there is nothing left to say, the years go by so fast, let’s hope the next beats the last.”

 

 

Mary Poppins Returns

If you loved the original Mary Poppins movie like I did, then Mary Poppins Returns is a must-see.  It is not a remake of the 1964 movie.  It is a continuation of the story, 20 years later.  The music and actors are different from the original, but it feels completely connected.  I got emotional several times during the movie, not because it was sad (it isn’t), but because it was wonderful to have more of the Mary Poppins story.  Put the two movies together, and it’s a captivating miniseries.

There’s the familiar London steeples and rooftops,London skyline at night

and the familiar Cherry Tree Lane.mary_poppins rooftops

Cherry Lane

I don’t want to give away any surprises or spoilers, so no more details about the film.  But as always, I came away with sewing inspiration, too.  I’ll have to wait for better views when the movie is available for streaming, but for now here’s what I’ll be looking at:

Mary’s carpet bag, blue striped coat and striped skirt.  Coat and bag2

Bag - Copy

 

Striped Skirt 2

Jane Banks/Emily Mortimer’s pants-vest outfit.  The pants in particular.  They are pleated and baggy, and the hem hits where the ankle meets the foot.  Pants

IMDB link for the movie: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5028340/

If you are a Mary Poppins movie fan, and haven’t seen Mary Poppins Returns yet, I hope you can get to see it at the theatre.  Until then, here’s a little reminder from 1964.

 

 

Patching jeans

You wouldn’t know it now, but these jeans were once Casual Friday office attire.

Jeans back b w RSR

Then they morphed into my go-to comfortable yard work and housework jeans. Then a knee blew out.  Then the other knee went.  With two holey knees they were stylish, so heck yes, I kept wearing them.  Now they’ve reached the point where the denim is falling apart in places.

Jeans worn spot a w RSR

I don’t need to keep the jeans, but they are darn comfortable.  So, I started using them to experiment with patchwork.  A dig through my stash ensued.  Flowers from this barkcloth print now cover the knee holes.

Floral fabric for jeans a w RSR

Some chambray strips from old curtains, are now a woven patch to reinforce the worst weak spot in the denim.  It’s working well.

Jeans front a w RSR

For the next fix, I want to mask the stained sides, where I’ve wiped my hands way too many times.  I’ve removed a pocket, which shows what color the fabric used to be.  Jeans side a w RSR

I’ll put the pocket back on, but maybe not in the same spot.

Pocket - RSR

My mom used these iron-on patches on my brother’s jeans all the time when we were little.  They didn’t last that long on little boys’ jeans.  The patch edges would start lifting, and then the patches could be peeled off.  I might find a way to use these on my jeans. Patches - RSR

The patchwork will be a continuous work in progress.  There are more places to repair now or soon, and as I wear the jeans, they will keep developing new areas to be patched.

Jeans knees a w RSR

Hopefully the jeans will keep looking better as I add to them, so that someday they warrant showing in another post.

Not a blue jeans song, because this creative process is about thinking outside the lines and beyond the obvious.