This is a picture of basil growing in my garden. Basil is one of my “Summer Straight Ahead” signs and it holds the promise of fresh pesto in the future. (I’ll put my recipe at the end of the post). Basil also got me thinking about my relationship with time (no, not “Thyme” the plant, but “Time” the concept).
Basil takes time to grow, and it doesn’t follow a strict schedule. It is ready to put in the garden when it gets warm (early summer/late spring); it grows and gives up it’s leaves for pesto when it is hot (throughout the summer) and it dies out when it gets cold (late fall/early winter). Basil Does Not mark its calendar to start growing on March 3; plan to grow 4.5 cm a week with a regular check in; and announce it’s retirement on Oct 17th. It never asks me what day it is and it Never checks the clock.
Why am I not more like Basil? While staying home during this COVID 19 epidemic I have had time to notice how much my life is ruled by the clock (also the scale but that is a subject for another post).
For too much of my life, I’ve checked the clock before going to sleep, and checked it when I waking up. Based on the numbers, I’ve decided how I would feel and what kind of day I would have. When the numbers haven’t been what I thought they should be, I’ve decided I would feel tired (or stressed, maybe annoyed or overwhelmed) and that my day would be a chore. When the numbers were something I liked, I decide I would feel rested and happy and the day would be a breeze.
What a weird way to live. When did the clock get to be the boss of me???
And now, suddenly, it isn’t. Time has lost it’s grip. I wake up when the sun is up. I go to sleep when the sun is down. In between, I have time to rest; think; read; write and (of course) sew. I progress and grow at a non regulated pace. Sometimes I spurt up, sometimes I just sit outside and look dormant…like the basil. No one cares and no one is counting. I really like it.
I don’t want to minimize the bad stuff of this epidemic. At all. I am fully aware that people are suffering, getting sick, and dying. Anything I can do to help, support, and assist I am willing to do. But, I am also a big believer in finding the opportunity in everything. I want to walk away from this crazy upside down period we are all going through saying I became a better person. Putting time in its proper place seems like a great way to start.
Stuff I Have Been Sewing……
I’ve been alternating between structure and creativity. Today, I’ll share the structure.
A New Growth Garment, Simplicity 8693
The past couple of months I’ve had loads of fun piddling around with easy patterns and remakes. My sewing brain has been busy applying techniques to new situations and I’ve improved some skills along the way. (making ties with the COVID masks and putting in zippers with the Vogue sweater). Now I am ready to create some new neural pathways and take on a challenge (ie: “The Growth Garment”).
For my Growth Garment I chose Simplicity 8693. I know what you are thinking….. Simplicity??? How could that be a Growth Garment??? I am totally with you. I thought the Vogue sweater I posted last week would be my Growth Garment. But it turned out that it’s “Easy” rating was accurate (who knew???). So now, in this topsy turvey upside down world we are living in, the Simplicity pattern will be the skills stretcher. And it meets the challenge, having a ton of things I don’t know how to do well.
To begin with, I don’t make many blouses, I tend to favor the forgiving give of knit shirt. But this make is a straight up, no stretch woven. A-a-a-nd, in this pattern I get to interface, face and set in the collar; leave one of the shoulders open and drop the sleeve; make and position a tiny shoulder strap in the exact place to cover my bra, add cuffs, and do lots of understitching (which I don’t really understand). Also, the fabric is super ravel-ly so I get to play around with finishing seams. Whoo Hoooo! My synapses’ are firing all over the place!
I first saw this top on Mimi G’s February blog post. She made it out of a blue satin and it looked amazing on her. I immediately waited for the next $2.99 sale and bought the pattern. I had my own to-die-for fabric that I bought at the New York fabric district. about 2 years ago. I know the fabric is a lot of red and gold to look at; but I feel up to the challenge.
I can’t tell you exactly what kind of fiber it is. The top might be a satin, the bottom is some kind of gold metallic. I am using cotton thread and a sharp needle made for metallic fabrics. So far it has stitched like a dream and the occasional stitch ripping has gone off without a hitch. As I said earlier, the fabric is quite ravel-ly at the edges. Remember the Marcy Jacket I made this winter? It is like that. So I am binding the edges and seams with silk bias. Yep, I am FINALLY (!) making bias tape out of my basket of silk ties. How long have I been talking about it? Since December????
Making Bias Tape Out of Silk Ties.
I don’t know why it took me so long. Actually I do know. I was intimidated by the idea of cutting, folding and pressing the silk. I thought it would be hard. However, after all the practice I’ve had making ties for COVID-19 masks (70 or so masks with 4 ties each is 280 ties), bias tape has turned out to be a snap. Here is what you do…….
First, open up the tie, remove the wool batting and press it flat. This takes longer to write than it does to do. Once your silk is pressed flat, you are ready to cut. Decide where to start cutting. Do you want to start from the center of the tie and measure out or from the edge of the tie and move across? There are proponents for both methods so you have options. I started at the edge.
The whole secret about this process is that ties are already cut on the bias. This is why they hang so nice. When you cut down the length of your tie you magically cut strips on the bias. Presto! You are a sewing magician.
After you decide if you want to start cutting, figure out how wide your strips need to be and measure. I was making single fold bias tape so I measured my pieces 2 inches. If I was making double fold I would cut the strips 3 or 4 inches. Again, this takes longer to write than it does to do. I started at the right edge and made dots 2 inches from the edge every once in a while.
As I cut, I aimed for the middle of the dots and went up the length of the tie. At this stage, a girl could make a good case for using a rotary cutter. But that girl would need to have a firm hand and not be wobbly. I tend to be wobbly so I stuck with scissors. Either method is fantastic. After cutting, I checked to see how much tie I had left to make more strips. Unless you are working with a wide 1970’s tie you may only be able to make a couple of strips. But you can piece some of the shorter sections together (that’s what they do with purchased bias tape….check next time) and end up with a good amount to work with.
The last thing to do is iron your strips. This is so simple!! Especially if you have already done it for a bazillion and a half mask ties. You know how bias tape folds up into the middle? Do that with your silk. Bring both sides together to the middle and press it with your iron. Then as you continue ironing, pull the strip a little bit taut and keep bringing the ends to the middle. Follow along with your iron. Don’t worry if the edges aren’t perfect, no one is grading you. As long as they basically come towards the middle your bias tape will work wonderfully. After you have finished pressing the strips you are ready to sew. If you are making double fold bias tape fold the tape in half lengthwise and press again. Voila! You have silk bias tape.
Back to the Blouse….
I do best when I make a Growth Garment in small steps. Like the old phrase, “How do you eat an elephant?………One bite at a time.” Which is kind of a weird phrase if you think about it. Let’s try another one……”Inch by inch, it’s a cinch. Yard by yard, it’s too hard”. Okay, that fits well for us sewists. I have it about a third of the top completed and will show you more progress when I write next week. I am going to work on putting in the sleeves today.
When we get back together, let’s plan on having an in-depth discussion about understitching and facings. And, I’ll share some of the more creative things I have been working on. Ooooh! So much to look forward to!!!
Take care everyone, I think you are wonderful. Talk to you soon.
“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”Colossians 3:14
Recipe for Pesto:
Pick enough Basil leaves to fill up a blender. Put it in a bowl, rinse it and dry. Measure equal parts olive oil, walnuts, and Parmesan cheese (I start with a cup each and go from there). Put about the half of the leaves, oil, walnuts and parm in the blender and start blending. Slowly add the rest. Throw in 4-6 cloves of garlic and as much salt as you like (I like a lot so I use at least a tablespoon). Blend, stir, taste. Blend, stir, taste. When it tastes right and has a consistency of pesto, make pasta or bread and apply liberally. Yum!!!