I read that one of the unexpected outcomes of staying home during the COVID 19 outbreak is an increased interest in bird watching. According to the New York Times, “With coronavirus restrictions dragging on, interest in bird-watching has soared as bored Americans notice a fascinating world just outside their windows. Downloads of popular bird identification apps have spiked, and preliminary numbers show sales of bird feeders, nesting boxes and birdseed have jumped even as demand for other nonessential goods plummets”.
They continued, “Downloads of the National Audubon Society’s bird identification app in March and April doubled over that period last year, and unique visits to its website are up by a half-million. The prestigious Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York, has seen downloads of its free bird identification app, Merlin ID, shoot up 102% over the same time last year, with 8,500 downloads on Easter weekend alone.Visits to Cornell’s live bird cams have doubled, and uploads of bird photos and calls have increased 45% and 84%, respectively, on Cornell’s crowdsourced bird-logging app, eBird.”
I get it. This spring I have been enthralled by wild turkeys, woodpeckers, chickadees, bright yellow goldfinches, robin’s redbreasts, and even migrating turkey buzzards. Yesterday I watched 3 hummingbirds play in the flower pots outside my sewing room. It was magic. If you have any time in the next few days take a moment to look up and listen. You might see some bird-magic in your own neighborhood!
The Completed Simplicity 8693
Speaking of magic, let’s take a minute to bask in the glory of the completed Simplicity 8693. Didn’t she turn out sweet? She was worth every moment of fussing though facings, bindings and too tight seams.
As you can see, I have my pleated sleeves, put an open slit on the side so that it fits all the way around me and cut a slight angle in the hem. Super cute huh? There might be one more change later. Sewing Sister talked about draping some red knit fabric down from the slit. It will soften up the structure of the blouse and swing when I walk. I am going to wait until we can get together and see how it looks. Do you have an opinion?
So What is the Skillet and Where is the Frying Pan???
Great Questions! I think we can all agree that the Simplicity 8693 was a lot of work. Worth it work, but work none-the-less. That’s why I called it a Growth Garment. And if you will remember back on March 21st (“Why You Should Make EFG’s”) I said “So to sum up: Sew something challenging (a “Growth Garment”) then alternate with something easy (an “Easy Fun Garment”). “.
So am I following my own advice??? No-o-o-o-o! I am jumping straight out out of the skillet of a Growth Garment (GG) into the frying pan of a Growth Remake (GRM). What Am I Thinking!?!? (I know, story of my life……)
It is Amazon Prime’s fault! (Isn’t everything nowadays Amazon’s fault??) This is what happened….. Amazon aired a Project Runway spin-off called, “Making the Cut.” I started watching it and FELL IN LOVE!. Tim and Heidi are back, everyone is pleasant to each other; no one talks trash and I can watch it anytime I want, as much as I want. (which I will freely admit has been sev-er-al times). In fact, Sewing Sister and I Face-Timed and watched it together. After all, if you are going to be stuck at home why not watch people make amazing clothing?? (By the way, those of you in the UK….I am sooooooo jealous that you get to watch the Great British Sewing Bee and I don’t.)
Anyhoo, on episode 3, Jonny (from LA) was teamed up with Megan (also from LA) and they made these jackets with way-cool loops down the sleeve. The only way I know to describe them is like big ruffles that are looped rather than ruffled. I don’t remember seeing anything like this before, but I am sure those of you who are more advanced in fashion will yawn and say “Oh yeah. Loops. It’s a thing.”
I became super-intrigued with the idea of making those loops. I thought I would use a thick black ponte knit for the loops and then attach them to a sweater. I wanted to try it while the idea was burning a hole in my brain and not wait too long. Hence, the Growth Remake (GRM).
My first attempts were sad and pathetic. It’s pretty embarrassing to share them with you. Also, when I rippped them out I tore 2 or 3 holes in the sweater. (Of course I did.) I was ready to throw everything away and give up. But then I had a “Buck up, Sister” talk with Sewing Sister. She recommended going much wider with the trim (“Go at least 6 inches” she said……she was right) Then I had a dream (Yes I really did) that pretty much laid out the process for me. So I was ready to try again.
And TAH-DAH!!!! “Houston, we have loops. I repeat, we have loops!”
Some Basic Directions….
With important assists from Sewing Sister and my dream, here is what I did: I cut a 6 inch wide piece down the length of my fabric (55 inches). Then I cut a 3 inch wide piece of interfacing and ironed it down the middle. I used the stiffest interfacing I had. After ironing on the interfacing I folded the piece lengthwise (right sides together) and sewed a 1/4 inch seam. Then I turned it right side out to make my strip. Next, I pinned.
In my dream I realized I was folding rather than looping. This is helpful to think about. Instead of trying to make a circle you are making wide folds on the top of your strip and then stitching them close together on the bottom of the strip. When your finished the folds open up and look like loops.
To mark and pin everything, I folded the strip in half and put a pin about 1/4 inch away from the fold. The smooth side was my top side and the seam side was the bottom. On the top side I put pins every 5 inches. On the bottom side I placed them 1 and 1/4 inch apart.
Go back to your fold. Place the first 5 inch pin on top of the 1 and 1/4 inch pin. Pull one of the pins out and pin both pieces together. Do you have a loop? Perfect!!! Keep going until you come to the end of your strip. You should have about 4 or 5 loops made.
**I found I could make 8 folds with a 55 inch strip of fabric. If you are super bright you are saying “But wait!! If you fold the piece in half it won’t line up and you will run out of fabric!!!” Don’t worry, we will overlap out pieces when that happens. It will work, I promise.**
When you come to the end of your strip grab the other end of the strip, overlap and attach it. Then keep pinning. Do this until you have 8 pins. You will also have 8 pins that are 1 and 1/4 inch apart on your bottom half. Now it is simply a matter of continuing to fold and line the pins up. On the 8th loop/fold you should be all out of room. Pin the final fold to match your first one and get ready to stitch.
Stitching is easy. You just have to watch out for pins. Stitch across the strip at your first fold and at the bottom of each loop (where you have a pin holding it together). At the end, stitch the final fold. Amazing huh? Loops.
I am thinking that someone more “math-y” than I can figure out how to skip the step of joining the two ends together while you make the folds. I just didn’t know how to do it and still have my joined pieces fit exactly at the bottom of a fold. So if any of you do figure it out please share and I will make sure I post your solution.
Not Finished Yet. I still have 2 more element to add to this sweater……it would be waaaaay to easy to stop at loops. I’ll give you an update when I write next week.
The Promised Discussion on Understitching.
Look how long the post already is. Do you really want to go through 5 more paragraphs on understitching??? I thought not. I will just say this. Understitching is good and it keeps your facings from flipping up and being ugly. Whenever your pattern says to understitch you should probably do it. I had to do understitch the collar facings of the Simplicity 8693 blouse and it made a h-u-u-g-e difference.
This is what you do: After you stitch a facing to the main part of your garment, press the seam allowance towards the facing. Then stitch the seam allowance to the facing about 1/4 inch away from the original stitching line. Voila! Understitching. A really good in-depth explanation, with pictures, is presented on the Colette sewing blog. Here is the link: https://blog.colettehq.com/tutorials/tutorial-understitching . Okay, understitching is covered.
A Few Little Dibs and Dabs
I’ve been decorating blue jeans. Here is a super-easy and fast pair of capris I slapped lace onto and then a more detailed long pair that I handstitched a patch onto; added trim at the bottom; left the patch partially open to make a pocket; and added fuzzy trim in the back. For the kitty-cat pair, it took all the self control I had not to add a fuzzy tiger-tail in the back. I hope you are sufficiently proud of me. I also have a Making-the-Cut inspired vest that I added the edge of a crazy petticoat to. I needed a little outlandishness to balance out the restraint.
It is time for me to sign off. Take care everyone. I love and care about you. Let’s talk again next week.