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Adding a side pleat for bike-ability

Over the 4th of July holiday, I worked up the courage to to hack into one of my fave summer shifts to make it more bike-able.  The dress is straight, and the fabric a sturdy woven cotton with no spandex.  Getting on and off the bike and pedaling were all problematic.

IMG_20180705_184701379_LL a

I opened the side seam 9 inches from the hemline, and added a 9″ zipper and a stretch panel in coordinating fabric.IMG_20180705_184810535_LL aIMG_20180705_184737782 a

Success!  I can unzip the pleat and have room for pedaling a bike, and then close the pleat up the rest of the day.IMG_20180705_184714214_LL a

The steps I took in order:

  • Open side seam to 9 inches from the hemline.
  • Sew in 9″ zipper.
  • With zipper open, pin triangle insert in place behind zipper, lining up fabric edges.
  • Topstitch insert in place through all layers.

From the inside, the pleat looks like this closed.  IMG_20180705_203759195

And open.IMG_20180705_203730248

(The pleat insert fabric is intentionally shorter than the rest of the hemline to keep the insert from peeking out from under the hem when the pleat is zipped shut. )

Ready for pedalingIMG_20180705_191148063_LL bw

Ready for the office. IMG_20180705_191406365_LL aw

I’ve biked in the dress a couple of times since installing the pleat, and it works just as I’d hoped.  There are a few other dresses and skirts in my closet that probably should get the zipper-pleat treatment.

___________________________

A breeze crosses the porch
Bicycle spokes spin ’round
Jacket’s on, I’m out the door
Tonight I’m gonna burn this town down

And the girls in their summer clothes
In the cool of the evening light
The girls in their summer clothes
Pass me by

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1920s Homemaker

Twice a year, I get to be a 1920s homemaker for a day, 1920s dress

And bring this 3-room house at the Kansas Oil Museum to life. Lease House 3

My few hours there are simple and precious.

On arriving, I first thread the treadle sewing machine, and put the treadle belt in place, and then wait for willing seamstresses and seamsters to arrive.

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When no one is at the sewing machine, I can do some sewing myself, or knit, or …

Hang dish towels on the line, Lease House 1

Sweep the front porch and pull weeds,1920s house front

Tidy up the kitchen,1920s kitchen

Tidy up the parents’ room (which doubles as the nursery),1920s bed & Living room 2

Tidy up the front room (which serves as the sitting room, sewing room, play room, and kid’s bedroom),

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Or visit the grocery store.

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Back at ‘my’ little house, at certain times of day, the kitchen is not well lit, but is always charming.  1920s kitchen table

At Christmastime, the house is heated by a cast iron wood stove, so I bake a pineapple upside down cake on the stove.Pineapple upside down cake

The house is called a ‘shotgun house’, because if you shoot a gun through the front door the bullet will pass through the back door.  I haven’t tried it.  1920s house from the front door

My favorite moments are when a little visitor takes in the whole scene and then looks up at me and asks me if I live there. ❤  My answer is always, “Yes, but only on special days like today.”

1920s back yard

This post was inspired by a lovely post on Everyday Women of the 1920s by The Pretty and the Kitsch.

 

Summer bicycling dress II: 40 shades of green (and grey)

Another bicycling dress is finished as of last weekend, complete with reflective bits.  With this one, I cut out shapes of sew-on reflective tape that I could embed in the print.

Green dress no flash 2 a-w

Front reflector flash a-w

Back reflector flash a-w

Appliqueing the reflective motifs to the dress was a repeating cycle of trial, error and perseverance.  My first attempts were awful.  The grey thread I had on hand ended up being several shades too light, and stood out as white on the reflective fabric.  [Insert ’50 Shades of Grey’ reference here.]  The light thread highlighted every deviant stitch.  Unfortunately, there were a lot of deviant stitches.  Despite how bad it was looking, I kept on going, thinking that I’d improve my stitching with practice, and then I could go back and re-stitch the first bad ones.  But not this time.  This was truly bad.  So, I cut out some new reflective motifs in a wider shape, and bought a darker shade of grey thread.  [Whew, it’s getting hot in here!] Then, success!

Bad vs good leaf stitches a-w text

The thread color was a tremendous improvement, but the points of the reflective motifs were still coming out looking ragged and misshaped.  I couldn’t make the point stay in place to be stitched neatly.  So through more trial and error, I came up with this technique that worked:

  • Start at the wide end of the motif and baste straight down the middle to the tip.
  • Switch to a regular stitch length, and continue past the end of the tip for 3 more stitches.
  • Turn the entire piece around and from the tip, stitch around the edges of the motif.
  • Snip the basting stitch at the point, and pull the thread tail to remove only the basting.

Stitching on leafs a-w with text

Voila!  A better leaf shape, and the appearance of neat stitches.Close up of proper result a-w

At first I intended to replace only the ‘worst’ of the original reflective leaves.  But in the end, my seam ripper and I spent a lot of time together, and the entire first batch of motifs were removed and replaced.  It took quite a bit of time for this do-over, but I think it was necessary.

reflector rejects a-w

My sew-on reflective tape was purchased from Amazon:  (Product Link)  The 2-inch wide 30-foot roll was my choice, because that width allows for lots of creative uses.  Smaller widths and lengths are available.

Other construction details:

For bike-ability, I inserted a pleat in the back.

Kick pleat a-w

The dress is constructed from the hem up:

The main fabric with the wild print came from my stash, but there was only a yard of it.  So, I hemmed it first thing, and built the dress upward from there.  Up near the shoulder, the fabric ran out.  There I added the polka dot coordinating fabric, to complete the shoulder.  The main fabric pieces that were cut away for the armholes, were almost but not quite long enough to make the collar.  So again I supplemented coordinating fabric to complete the collar.

Dress collar & shoulder a-w

The inside facings for the armhole, neck and hem are all made from the coordinating fabric.  The cool thing is, I used almost every inch of the stash fabric.  There are no usable scraps left.

The fabric is 100% cotton and comfortable, while sturdy enough to stay in place on a breezy day.

Green dress mirror selfie b

 

Summer bicycling dress

Happy Birthday, Sir Paul McCartney!  ❤  And what does Sir Paul’s birthday have to do with this dress?  Answer:  I wore it to his concert last July.  I finished the dress around this time last summer; just a couple of weeks before he was coming to town.  That made it super easy to decide what to wear to the concert.

Pink dress front

This dress met several objectives–

  • It is ‘bike-able’, meaning the skirt is loose enough to enable mounting the bike and pedaling.  A little bit of spandex in the fabric helps with that too.  The skirt is just long enough that I don’t flash passing drivers.  The fabric is a twill which makes the skirt a bit sturdier in a wind.
  • The dress has built-in reflector motifs for visibility.
  • And last but not least, the fabric came from my stash.  Every bit of stash reduction helps.

Pink dress reflector bodice

Why did I choose this dress for the McCartney concert?  Obviously, because it has a Swinging 60s look.  But there’s more.  I thought maybe when the stage lights panned the crowd, the reflective elements of my dress would light up.  I don’t know if it was visible from the stage, but it was fun wondering if I stood out in the crowd a teeny bit. 🙂

More views of the reflective details:

For biking, I added a kick pleat in the back, and gave it a strip of reflective fabric, too.Pink dress reflector kick pleat

The reflective buttons were made with reflective tape and a covered button kit.  IMG_20180618_132658800

Pink dress mirror selfie b

I ran; I sewed; I read

I ran.  

This morning was my fave annual 10k trail run.  There were muddy creek crossings. STD creek crossing 2 2018

STD muddy hand

STD muddy legs

There was a dam to scale.  It was ‘dam’ high and steep.  STD dam wide shotSTD dam

And then came the descent.  STD dam top view

I stayed on my feet for the descent, but in my mind I was one misstep away from doing a spectacular tumble a la Gloucestershire Cheese Roll-style.

At the race finish, a little mud wasn’t going to stop me from savoring a delicious juicy orange.  STD orange

I sewed.  

When getting dressed for the race this morning, I noticed my HRM (heart rate monitor) was way too loose.  I cinched it down to its smallest, but it was still too loose.  The several-years-old elastic was giving out.  So, I quickly threaded the sewing machine with black, and cut a big 9-inch section of elastic out of the band.

Garmin strap repair 1

Then I sewed the shortened band pieces back together.  Garmin strap repair 2

I put the shortened HRM back on, and it was still too big, so I took it off, cut out another 6 inches.  And sewed it together again.  Then it fit, and I was off to the races…literally.  Garmin strap repair 3

I read.

Back home after the race, I plopped myself onto the couch and re-dedicated myself to reading A Confederacy of Dunces.  I’d started it long ago, and liked it, but then set it aside, forgotten.  Now it is one of the books in the Great American Read list, and it is my choice for the Read.

A Confederacy of Dunces

 

Turtleneck stash busting

Yes, there is such a thing as a turtleneck stash.  Mine was becoming ridiculous.  I wear turtlenecks solo, and under everything from dresses, to sweaters, to t-shirts.  After months and years of washings and wearings, some start to fade.  Some shrink vertically, and become too short in the body and sleeves.  Some develop a bulkier, boxy shape, that doesn’t fit well under other garments.

This winter I summoned the courage to start carving them up.  I loved the resulting composite pieces.  I lengthened sleeves and torsos, and converted regular t-shirts into long-sleeved turtlenecks.

IMG_20180402_162739867-aw rsr(All photos taken under the watchful eye of the pupervisor.)

I attend a lot of college basketball and football games, so wearing a color-blocked garment turned out to be a great way to ‘represent’.

Color blocking made layering more fun.  IMG_20180402_164246137-aw rsr

The color blocked garments were versatile. IMG_20180402_175041886-aw rsr

I also tried lengthening the torso by inserting a band in the middle.  This brown and grey one doesn’t look smooth in the picture, but it actually looks fine when worn.

IMG_20180402_170801338-aw rsr

The turtleneck stash had outgrown the drawer, and then the shelve(s) dedicated to their storage.  Even after cutting and combining several of them, I still have a bunch of old turtlenecks that need to be boxed up for donation.  That will happen once turtleneck wearing season is over.

 

Coco dress and the pup-prentice

After seeing many great examples in the blogosphere, of the Coco dress pattern by Tilly and the Buttons, I finally downloaded the pattern and gave it my own try.  The pattern is wildly popular, and now I know why.  It was fast to make, the fit perfect, and the style cute and comfortable.  There’s no need for me to do a full pattern review.  It’s been done elsewhere, by better reviewers.  You might want to start by checking out the Coco Pinterest gallery.

So, about my version:  I went wild with the print.  This fabric had been sitting on my stash shelf for several years.  It is a spandex swimsuit knit.

dress mannequin - rsr

This fabric is stretchier and lighter weight than the pattern recommends.  But, it worked really well, with the exception of the collar, which drapes like a cowl instead of staying rolled in place.  For lightweight fabric such as this, I suggest using an interfacing in the collar for extra body.

Because the print isn’t crazy enough (hehe), I went through my stash of trims, and added some stripes down the arms.  I’m super happy with the result.

Dress sleeves - rsr

New phone camera doesn’t do so well on mirror selfies. 😡   Not sure if it is the mirror or lighting.  But here is the dress at the end of its first wearing to the office.

dress - rsr

When I originally purchased the fabric, it was to make some quick, wild summer car seat slipcovers.  Those worked out great, too.  But I bought way too much fabric, and the rest sat on the shelf, almost going in the donation box more than once.

The ‘Pup-prentice’

I can’t forget to credit my foster ‘pup-prentice’.  He insisted on helping at every step; even when it meant crawling under my chair and up through the sewing cabinet.

 

dress2 - rsr w pupprentice

 

12 new habits for 2018

It took me an extra month to figure out my goals for 2018.  Then it has taken me another month to tell people about it.  But here it is:  I want to adopt one new habit per month.  I started successfully with a January habit, which inspired me to keep going with a new habit per month.

Monthly Habits:

January:  Get up at a regular time, and do 15 minutes of yoga stretches.

Janathon helped by giving me fun daily reminders to report my effort.

janathon-participant-logo

Our local PBS station has been the other help, by showing Priscilla’s Yoga Stretches each morning from 6-6:30.  They fit two 15-minute sessions in that time slot.  I’ve been doing the 6:15 session.  Perfecto!

February:  90 minutes of ‘Monk Mode’ each morning.

I’ve seen various descriptions of what ‘monk mode’ means, so I’ve tailored my own version to what I need.  I’m trying for a straight 90 minutes of office work, in the morning before I get distracted by other things.  During this 90 minutes, I am trying to refrain from checking online news sources, blogs, and of course, Facebook.  Ideally, the 90 minutes would be with no TV or radio.  But, there are things I listen to in the morning to get my daily current events updates.  So maybe I need an afternoon monk mode session as well, in total silence.  Maybe that is a habit for a later month.

Monk Mode thumbnail

https://www.bbc.com/ideas/videos/monk-mode-and-five-other-tips-for-work-life-balanc/p05t70bk

March:  ‘Spring cleaning’, baby!  One hour, one room, per day

I am focusing on one room per day for cleanup, decluttering, rearranging, reorganizing, etc.  I’m trying for an hour per day on this task.  Do I include the yard and car as ‘rooms’?  Looking at them, the answer is an emphatic yes!  Does it make the goal too broad and undefined?  Maybe.

April:  I haven’t decided on April’s new habit.  I want to decide month by month.  I have ideas for some of the upcoming months.  Potential categories are home management, productivity, conservation, health, fitness, enlightenment, budgeting.

How’s it going so far?

  • The yoga habit has stuck like glue.  I feel great, my posture is better I think, and I love the jump-start it gives to my morning.
  • The monk mode habit, hmmm.  I’m now aghast at how sporadic, sloppy and undisciplined my work concentration has become.  If I had charted my month of devotion to this habit, the chart would look like a roller coaster.  To me, this means I need to keep ‘monk mode’ in my morning routine, and need to make a consistent effort to accomplish it.
  • The room-a-day habit is not a habit yet.  But each day something gets done.  I’m looking forward to what the place looks like on March 31.

The regular activities continue.  Fitness, food prep and nutrition, sewing.  I don’t need to set goals to make these a regular part of my routine.  For that I’m truly thankful.



On 2017 projects:

The puppy/dog fostering has been a wonderful addition to my life:

Cambree5--watermarkJeremy back fence-a--watermarkRufus sitting1--watermark

Jeans waist, not waste

I made an executive decision last week, to ban low-rise jeans from my person.  I despise the old low-rise trend; can’t stand wearing them.  They never feel right.

Low-rise jeans are also bad for the body, I think.  They ruin posture and cause expanding waistlines.  They promote slouching and spreading, because slouching and spreading the hips is what you have to do to keep them in place.

The pair of low-rise skinny jeans that caused this epiphany, still has some wear in them, and I like the color and weight.  When I endured the misery yet again of wearing them last week, I resolved to either fix the waist or be content to ruin them trying.

Result:  Waist is fixed!

The jeans before:

  • Low waistband in front;
  • High enough in back;
  • Tiny zipper.

Jeans before--RSR

Here’s how the process went:

  • Unzip the zipper.
  • Detach the front belt loops from the body of the jeans.  (They can probably stay attached to the top of the waistband.)
  • Cut the waistband off, from the center front to the side seam.

Jeans cut waist--RSR

Important:  Do not zip up the zipper.  With the waistband out of the way, there may not be a stop to keep the zipper pull from coming off at the top.  Instead, keep the zipper pulled down, and use pins to position the fly until the insert is sewn in place.

Pin the pockets and zipper to hold them in place.

Jeans cut waist full--RSR

Put the jeans on and identify where the waistband naturally feels right.

Jeans waistband fit--RSR

Cut two pieces of denim to insert in the open space across the front.  The pieces should be roughly the same shape as the open space, but slightly larger than the space on all sides.

Jeans insert--RSR

With the waistband moved out of the way, sew each insert piece to the body of the jeans, right sides together.

Jeans seam--RSR

Flip the insert piece over, and the seam looks like this.

Jeans seam after--RSR

Put the jeans on again, to identify the waistband placement on the insert, and pin the waistband in place.

Topstitch the waistband onto the insert fabric.  (Make sure the belt loops are out of the way of the stitching)

Jeans waistband placement--RSR

Trim the insert fabric even with the top of the waistband.  Fold the center front excess to the inside and topstitch in place.  Inside out, the insert will look like this:

Jeans finished inside--RSR

You will need something to close the gap where the zipper is too short.  I used velcro.  It was easy to place and stitch, and holds the gap closed.  I first added the long velcro shown next to the zipper.  That wasn’t effective.  The short piece above the zipper worked, and was actually easier to put on.

Jeans velcro--RSR

Finished look:

Jeans modeling after--RSR

The insert has a slight indented look, for some reason that I haven’t tried to figure out.  I don’t care.  The waistband feels great.

Recycle Routine (p.s. it’s easy and awesome!)

Back in early April, I wrote that a change was coming to my household routine.  And now the details:  On April Fools Day, I cancelled my weekly residential curbside garbage service, and replaced it with a DIY recycle routine.  Before the switch, I spent several weeks considering:

  • What I was throwing away each week (i.e., the number and type of items discarded, and the volume);
  • How much I was paying for weekly curbside garbage service ($56 quarterly);
  • How many times I wasn’t home on garbage pickup day, or merely forgot to set the bin at the curb;
  • How much an occasional trip to the landfill would cost in money and inconvenience ($25 per load, apx five miles away, open on weekends).

Then I decided to give the recycle routine a 3-month trial period.  I began taking all of my paper, glass, metal, and most plastics to the local recycle center.  Yard clippings got mulched and/or composted.  I was already composting food waste.

Recycle bins

The Verdict:  This isn’t foolish; it’s awesome!  I never want to go back to curbside garbage service.  I feel good about recycling and being more aware of buying non-recyclable stuff.  Correction:  I feel great about it.  I save a little bit of money, but that’s not even the biggest benefit.  The routine is better and easier.  Honest!

The recycle center is less than a mile from my house, and is open 3 days a week.  Gone is the problem of being away on garbage day, or forgetting to put the bin out at the curb.

The recycle center is like a reverse grocery store.  You park, put your items in the grocery cart, push the cart around to the various labeled disposal bins, and drop off your items.  I’m in and out of the recycle center in 2-5 minutes.

Recycle1

About that curbside garbage bin:  I no longer have the big, ugly, dirty garbage service bin in my yard.  Instead, I have three small baskets under a kitchen cabinet, for paper, plastic and ‘other’.  The ‘other’ basket holds cans, foil and glass.

Recycle bins kitchen--RSR

The biggest volume of my weekly curbside garbage was weeds and bush trimmings.  Those now get mulched and/or composted, thanks in part to the little chipper-shredder I bought with the initial savings from the cancelled garbage service.

chipper shredder-RSR

There are some items the recycle center won’t take, such as Styrofoam and cheese wrappers.  I seldom get styrofoam packaging, and I don’t consume a lot of cheese.  When I do have a cheese wrapper, I take it with me on my next trip to the grocery store, and put it in the garbage can at the store entrance.  In other words, I take it back to the place where I bought it.  Is that ethical?  I’m still contemplating that.  I store other non-recyclables out of the way in my shed, for taking to the landfill.  I’ve only had to make one trip to the landfill so far, and had a free coupon for it.

Has this new recycle routine changed how I shop?  Yes, a little bit.  For instance, recently, I was trying to choose between two brands of whole wheat flour; each the same price.  Then I noticed that one was in a paper package, but the other in non-recyclable, cheese-wrapper-type plastic.  So, aha, I chose the paper package.

How good do I feel about my recycle routine?  The recycle center reminds me at the end of every visit.

Recycling Center sign-RSR

Something new I learned:  Disposable wipes contain plastic.