Bali Ready

M7020-neckbindingAm I ready for next week’s Bali Fiber Tour? No, I am not. I have several pieces of fabric to make into cute tops, and I think they will not be made before I leave. And you know how obsessive I get about my travel wardrobes.

What happened, you might ask. Life and school happened. Back in March I had six mini-opera performances, preceded by several rehearsals. And I accompanied and played in the pit for seven performances of My Fair Lady in Sharpsville, PA. Then there was Cosi fan Tutte at YSU, which has taken part of five days of each week since mid-January. We finished Cosi the 24th of April. Then there was a senior recital to accompany for a trombonist. His program included a Very Nasty Hindemith sonata. Then, right on target, I got the text from my brother than our mother was failing, so the first week of May I spent two days driving to and from Hendersonville, NC; a couple of hours practicing with all my voice students for their juries; one day playing for juries; and then on Friday I flew to Vegas and drove to Kingman, Arizona, where I met my new sister. (If you’re not up-to-date on this tale, it’s written here).

M7020-sleeveOne of the sweetest two hours of that crazy week was the opportunity to substitute for the Stambaugh Chorus accompanist and play the Fauré Requiem with them, a precious-to-me work that was sung at my late husband’s memorial service eighteen years ago.

So … insanity around here.

But I managed to scrounge up fifteen minutes here and an hour there over the past 10 days to finish one top for the trip. The pattern is McCall’s 7020, which I’ve made three times already. Those posts are here.

Backview, showing different stripe widths and orientations.

Backview, showing different stripe widths and orientations.

The fabric was one of‘s “Cool Combos.” Marcy’s exquisitely curated site makes some really fabulous fabrics available to the home sewist. The combo I picked up was gray and white – a quarter inch stripe, a skinny stripe, both in very lightweight jersey. Then a heavier jersey printed with small white dots. I decided to use just the stripes for this top. Both fronts and one back were made from the wider stripe, the other back and the sleeves from the skinny stripe. And they were alternated horizontal/vertical on each piece—i.e. right front and left back stripes go up and down, left front and right back go side to side.

This pic should prove how lightweight the knit is. Yes, I will wear a tank under it!

This pic should prove how lightweight the knit is. Yes, I will wear a tank under it!

This was not a knit with a lot of give, so when I tried it on after applying the sleeves and sewing the side seams, the sleeves were too tight. I tried taking a narrower seam allowance, but they were still too tight. So I just cut the sleeves off, leaving 1″ of sleeve fabric. Then I cut ⅜” strips of fusible tricot interfacing, fused it on, folded, pressed, and double-needle topstitched. The hem was finished with the same method, 1¼”

I love it. What do you think?

And it’s super-duper cool for the heat and humidity of my Bali adventure. My flight lands in Depensar on Saturday afternoon, May 21.

Worn here with a pair of Eileen Fisher stretch crepe crops in "silver." I think the top would go just as well with white.

Worn here with a pair of Eileen Fisher stretch crepe crops in “silver.” I think the top would go just as well with white.

En Fran├žais

imageThe good news is I finally found some time, amid all my music-making, to get back into my sewing room. The bad news is this garment will probably never be worn again after its two minutes on the runway.

You may remember my posts in the past about my many enjoyable sewing experiences with my heart-of-my-heart grandson, Boston. Just to clarify: He now prefers to be known as Celeste and referred to with feminine pronouns. So here we go …

Belt with French-ish metal rose buckle. Denim casing with 1-1/2" elastic threaded through.

Belt with French-ish metal rose buckle. Denim casing with 1-1/2″ elastic threaded through.

I always feel elated when Celeste texts me and says she has a sewing project she wants to work on with me. So while my initial reaction to her text the day before her spring break was elation, my next thought was WHAT?!

Celeste enjoys her French class at Ursuline, but this practical if cynical grandma is questioning the real benefit of the project their teacher assigned to tide them over for spring break. (Wait. Isn’t spring break supposed to be about the break?)

Company logo

Company logo

Here’s the way I understood this project: The students were each to come up with a concept and a name for a fashion company, create some designs, create a look book, then make one of the garments, which would be presented during a class-time fashion show the Friday of the week after spring break.


Hem - interfaced with 5/8'  strip of fusible tricot, then folded, pressed, and 3x to-stitched.

Hem – interfaced with 5/8′ strip of fusible tricot, then folded, pressed, and 3x to-stitched.

Celeste named her company L’Usine de Denim. It would be garments and accessories made from denim. Her first designs were a sleeveless shift dress with belt and a hairbow. (At this point in her personal discovery, she’s all about the bows.)

Armholes with bias binding sewn on, then folded to inside and 3x top stitched.

Armholes with bias binding sew on, then folded to inside and 3x top stitched.

We talked about how to proceed. I searched through my pattern stash, chose the Textile Studio Basic Dress as something easily customizable, and then headed to JoAnn’s, where I spent $36 (!) on fabric, thread, a zipper, and thread. [I’m the grandma; I’m at a point in my life where I have some disposable income. What about these parents who are paying to put their kids in parochial school and they have other kids at home and typical family expenses. How tough to have their kids assigned a project such as this where they’ve got to spend time and money to accomplish it. I’m shaking my head ….]

Neckline, bound with bias denim strip.

Neckline, bound with bias denim strip.

Celeste had chosen or been assigned a model for the fashion show, and I had no idea of her size. How could I make a dress for an unknown body? And the model didn’t know her measurements. The most I could learn was her bra size, from which I discerned her “full bust” size. I grabbed an old sheet from my “rag bag,” an extra zipper from the stash, and quickly made up a “muslin” Celeste could take to her model for her to try on. I heard back from her on Monday afternoon that the size was okay, although it needed to be shortened, as she’s only 5’1″.

I finished the dress Wednesday night, whipped up the belt after my opera rehearsal on Thursday, and ran it to Celeste’s house. I’m still waiting for a picture from the fashion show and reassurance that all was well.

P.S. Friday afternoon report: The model was sick today, so another, much smaller girl wore the dress for presentation. These model for whom the dress was made will be there on Monday to wear it. I am told there were lots of compliments on our work. Yea.

P.S. Monday morning report: The model made it in today, and Celeste took a photo for me. I think the dress looks pretty darned good on her, for my only having known her bra size and height!! Happy Grandma.

Keep Calm and Sew On

imageI hate how busy I’ve been this semester. I’m preparing a full-length “Cosi fan tutte” for late April. A kids’ version of Cosi, with its own abbreviated score, will be presented the morning of that event’s opening. I have not yet seen the kids’ cuts, but know that I am the orchestra for that production, where I believe I’m only accompanying the recitative (but the entire score for all the rehearsals over the entire semester) for the full evening opera. A 45-minute opera for kids, Billy Goats Gruff, is to be presented today at Stambaugh Auditorium and then five times this week at local schools. And tonight starts tech week for “My Fair Lady” in Sharpsville [PA]. If you’re counting, that’s two major productions and two hour-long productions. A lot of black dots. And I accompany four voice students who have at least five pieces each in their repertoire, along with two senior recitals to play.

That leaves no time for sewing. And a big hole in my life.

imageYesterday morning I was exempted from the MFL rehearsal (big sigh of relief), so I snatched two hours and ran downstairs. Back in October or early November, I saw the pattern for the Bendy Bag from Lazy Girl Designs. It looked cute and quick and easy, and I whipped up several to take along to Thanksgiving in Amarillo to gift to my dinner companions. One friend of my Amarillo family wasn’t able to be at dinner that day, but I have been wanting to make another bag to send out to her. So yesterday I dug into my scrap stash and found enough leftovers from Gayle’s bag to make a Bendy Bag for Maria.

imageNow that I’ve made a bunch of these, I’m able to whip through them pretty quickly. There’s only one change I’ve made. At the bottom of the zipper, a tab is attached to extend the length of that piece to the bottom of the bag. But the way it’s attached leaves an opening that would allow small items to escape (Imagine a beader toting part of her stash in this cute little bag, or a jeweler with loose stones ….). So instead of edgestitching the folded end of the tab to the end of the zipper, I rotate the tab to place the folded end at the bottom. imageI turn in the raw ends ½” and press, then sandwich the stitching line of the zipper (where the instructions tell you to place the folded end of the tab) and edgestitch to hold it in place. Then I edgestitch down both sides of where the zipper tape is sandwiched and trim the sides of the tab (as instructed). The only difference is that you won’t see the zipper for your edgestitching. A quick chalkmark or a deftly placed pin will tell you where to run your edgestitching. And the resulting look on the inside is more elegant, to my way of thinking.

The only other thing I don’t love, but am willing to live with, is the zigzag finish on the seams inside. But honestly, not one person to whom I’ve given these bags has complained. 😉

I carry a Bendy Bag with me at all times in my big music tote. It contains all my chargers for page-turning pedal and iPad Pro and phone. I can imagine lots of uses for it, and know more iterations are in my future.

imageimageAnd finally, for your viewing pleasure, a B.B. I made two weeks ago for my granddarling’s high school French teacher. She likes foxes. I hope she likes the bag half as much as she is liked as a teacher.

If you’re interested in the fox fabric, it’s from Robert Kaufman’s “Creatures and Critters 3” collection, designed by Amy Schimler.

A Winning Tute

IMG_1195The Jazzman and I have little travel pillows that I got at Bed Bath & Beyond. We like knowing that whatever the hotel (or cruise ship) has to offer, we’ll have a pillow along that we know and love. Before we went to Mexico last winter, I bought the 12″ x 16″ pillows and made pillowcases to fit them. They were both a gold cotton sateen. I silkscreened my name on mine; his had nothing to indicate it was his.

And then it disappeared. His pillow and the custom made pillowcase are nowhere to be found. So before we went to Amarillo for Thanksgiving and my son’s wedding, I bought him another travel pillow and grabbed an unused 100% cotton (regular size) pillow protector to serve as a pillowcase.

When we packed our pillows for our Christmas trip to see his family in Columbus, he [whined a little] about not having a pillowcase. When we returned home, I asked again if he was just giving me a hard time, or really didn’t like the pillow protector. Alas, the pillow protector has a texture to it. It’s not soft and silky cotton sateen.

One morning last week my inbox contained my Bloglovin’ feed with a tutorial for a pillowcase.

Oh my gosh. This tutorial yields a pillowcase that is everything I look for in something I sew. The inside was as beautiful as the outside.

Interior after attaching hem.

Interior after attaching hem.

The typical regular-size pillow is 20″ x 26″. The dimensions of the three sections of the tutorial pillowcase are 25″ x 40½”, 2½” x 40½”, and 12″ x 40½”. Comparing the regular size pillow dimensions to the travel pillow, I cut 15″ x 24½”, 2½” x 24½” and 8″ x 24½”. The hem could have been 2-6″ longer—remember that the hem will be folded in half during construction, so the length you cut for the hem will be divided by two and then have ½” subtracted for seam allowance. After attaching the trim and the hem, I had a 3½” hem and a 14¼” main panel. The bottom and side seam took another ½”. So with a 16″ pillow, I had a couple of inches extending beyond the pillow. (I am more exact measurements downstairs, but am racing to write this so I can finish my packing. You’re welcome to leave more exact measurements in the comments.)

Finished pillowcase with pillow inserted.

Finished pillowcase with pillow inserted.

I used a couple of cotton batiks and a hand-dye from my stash for the case. Honestly, it feels like silk. Or buttah!

Jas loves his new pillowcase. It’s distinctive and won’t get lost in the hotel (or cruise ship) sheets. And it’s comfortable to lay his head on.

I’m so glad I made the time yesterday to get this done before finishing my trip packing.

I highly recommend this tutorial!!

Quick and Shiny

IMG_1198Somewhere two weeks ago I read a sewing blog where the writer talked about some fabric she purchased from NY Fashion Center. Of course I ran over there to see what they offer, and was blown away with this tie-dye web foil print spandex. itedyeSeriously, this fabric is not something I would ever have thought of sewing with. But a shipboard pool and a walk along the beach in Aruba were on my mind, and a little swim mini skirt from Land’s End was calling out for a coverup.

While I waited for the fabric to arrive and while I was looking for some free time to spend in my sewing room, I pondered patterns. I burn easily, and we’ll be spending ten days sailing around under the equator. So a t-shirt was a better idea than a cardigan or fly-front sweater. I had been eyeing Marcy Tilton’s Vogue 9057 for months, and View A looked like just what I needed.

I needed it to go together quickly, and this did. It feels great. I think it looks cute with the miniskirt, and with my Teva sandals, I can walk and swim and generally have a Caribbean blast.

IMG_1200There was one thing I didn’t like and wish I had done differently. On View A, the neckband is only 1″ wide. The instructions say to attach it with a double needle, then just press it up. That’s a raw edge finish, which I do not like. I could have gone back and cut a wider band, but I was very pressured for time. I moved the band in from the edge of the top seam allowance, so that I was sewing about ¼” on the band and ½” on the top. After sewing the seam, I trimmed off the excess of the neck edge, then wrapped the band tightly around the edge and to the back. I pinned from the right side close to the edge of the band wrapped to the back, then used a double needle to topstitch. It works for me better than the raw edge, but it’s not ideal. Ideal would have been to cut the wider neckband from the other views.

For the sleeve hem and skirt hem, I interfaced the inside edge with a ½” strip of fusible tricot interfacing, then turned that ½” to the inside and pressed. I finished the hems with a double-needle topstitch at ⅜”.

It’s a fun top. It’s totally unlike me. And even though I’m not really happy with the finish on the neckline, I’m only ever wearing it to the pool or the beach, and—not to be condescending—no one will ever notice it. (Are you familiar with the sound of a tired musician at the end of the worst month of the year for musicians worldwide? You just heard that sound.)

As I raced to finish pre-vacation sewing, I also made a quick cute batik pillowcase for Jas’s travel pillow. I’ll blog that another time. And I hemmed the sundress I made in July, using my new Dritz chalk hem marker. I was never pleased with the hemline and needed to shorten and straighten it. It’s going into the suitcase along with the t-shirt above. Tomorrow is a party for my new daughter-in-law to meet Jas’s and my close friends. She’s in town for a few days and I wanted to take advantage of that, despite the fact that we’re flying to Florida on Sunday and sailing on Monday.

Whew. Going to bed now. And don’t be scared by the photos—that’s New Year’s Day me with no makeup!

Rudi and I wish you a happy new year.