City Mouse, Country Mouse: The City

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Hi, Friends!  It’s been a long time since our last meeting here on these pages.  I was off visiting friends and family for most of July, and I thought you might like to see a few of the places I visited.  As always, I’ll include links when possible.  Maybe you’ll find some new favorites, too!

First let’s visit the Detroit area of Michigan.

My sister-in-law took my mother-in-law and me into Eastern Market in Detroit one weekend.  Eastern Market is a farmer’s market filled with delicious food and beautiful plants.

Detroit's Eastern Market

Detroit's Eastern Market

Detroit's Eastern Market

Castor Bean

Detroit's Eastern Market

Dahlia

Detroit's Eastern Market

Dahlia

The market area is flanked by cool shops as well.

Outside Detroit's Eastern Market

DeVries & Co.

Outside Detroit's Eastern Market

DeVries & Co.

DeVries & Co. had all sorts of great foods, imported and domestic.  You could ride the old freight elevator to the top level to find cute home goods as well.

And, of course, we had to look in this labyrinthine antique shop that my sister-in-law discovered.

Outside Detroit's Eastern Market

Eastern Market Antiques

This little area was arguably my favorite.  I even found a vintage dress/tunic!

Outside Detroit's Eastern Market

Outside Detroit's Eastern Market

Collar detail

It’s a bit on the short side for a dress on its own, but I have a few ideas for it…

Just before we left, we visited the Detroit Mercantile Company.  Talk about a great selection of quality and hand-made goods!

Outside Detroit's Eastern Market

Detroit Mercantile Company

Outside Detroit's Eastern Market

Detroit Mercantile Company

Since I’ve been contemplating making jeans, I was pretty interested in the offerings from the Detroit Denim Company.  After checking out their website, I kind of wished I had tried to set up an interview.  Maybe another time…

We also had fun food adventures, and I can wholeheartedly recommend Joe’s Hamburgers if you are ever in Wyandotte, MI.  They have a great retro vibe and delicious food.  The burgers are small (“sliders”), which makes it all the better if you want to sample several–and don’t forget to order a few kinds of fries if you are with a group so you can try more than one kind!

Joe's Hamburgers in Wyandotte, MI

 

Joe's Hamburgers in Wyandotte, MI

Joe's Hamburgers in Wyandotte, MI

Joe's Hamburgers in Wyandotte, MI

Mushroom Swiss Slider and Poutine Fries. Yum!

And now, you probably knew it was coming…FABRIC SHOPPING!  I have to thank my husband who drove me around and sat through three hours of fabric shopping (plus plenty of indecision on my part).  My in-laws also deserve thanks for babysitting!!!

Before we left, I looked online for fabric stores in the Detroit area and came up with this list from Rae Hoekstra of made by RAE that covers some of the best of southern Michigan.  And she was not wrong.  I went to two different fabric shops near Detroit, and each was spectacular.

Unfortunately, I didn’t do Material Girls in Dearborn justice (so sorry!).  I got a picture of the outside of their shop and then totally dropped the ball on photographing the inside.

The Material Girls in Dearborn, MI

The ladies who worked there were really wonderful.  They had a good selection of quilting fabric as well as some carefully curated apparel fabrics.  It was so wonderful to see, in person, many of the fabrics I have looked at online.  There really is no comparison to touching and looking at fabric in person.  After saving up a nice little fund for shopping, it was great to not only look, but also buy and stock up on supplies for upcoming projects.  Here is what I got from The Material Girls:

The Material Girls in Dearborn, MI

The bird fabric is for me (I was inspired by Carolyn of Allspice Abounds), but the pandas and superheroines are for Christmas presents.  Luckily the intended recipients don’t read this blog.  Shh!  ;)

We also visited Haberman Fabrics in Royal Oak, Michigan.  It’s a little bit hard to describe this one.  It might be fabric paradise.

Haberman Fabrics in Royal Oak, Michigan

I don’t think I’ve been in a fabric store quite like this since I started sewing seriously.  It was mainly dedicated to apparel fabric, including bridal and special occasion, but also had home decorating fabric, space for classes, a sewing machine repair window, and so many notions.  Wow.

Haberman Fabrics in Royal Oak, Michigan

Haberman Fabrics in Royal Oak, Michigan

Haberman Fabrics in Royal Oak, Michigan

Haberman Fabrics in Royal Oak, Michigan

Haberman Fabrics in Royal Oak, Michigan

 

Haberman Fabrics in Royal Oak, Michigan

Haberman Fabrics in Royal Oak, Michigan

Haberman Fabrics in Royal Oak, Michigan

Haberman Fabrics in Royal Oak, Michigan

Haberman Fabrics in Royal Oak, Michigan

When I first got there, I was so excited.  I wandered through looking at all the various apparel fabrics.  I had made a list so I could be at least slightly focused, but after looking at everything, my excitement turned into distress.  I saved and worked to build a fabric fund, but there was too much!  What should I get?  What would I be sad to leave behind?

Want to see what I got?

Haberman Fabrics in Royal Oak, Michigan

The striped fabric is a rayon knit from Italy that’s double-sided!  I also wanted to experiment with a little stretch lace and stretch net.  (I can’t find any of these on their website, or I would link to them.)  What a great store.

Yea for fabric shopping and yea for some fun in the city!  Thanks, family and friends!  Next up…the country!

 

 

Happy Independence Day! (Red + White Corset Tank)

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Happy Independence Day to all my American readers!  British readers, I’m glad we’re friends again.

July 4th (American Independence Day) is one of my favorite holidays to spend with my extended family.  This almost never happens any more, and so I usually find myself missing my parents as I plan out whatever red, white, and blue outfit I can come up with for the day.  My Mom, especially, always got into July 4th, telling us we had to wear red, white, and blue.  And if my Aunt Jane was with us…well, it usually got out of control!  Picture temporary tattoos with flags or glitter or both, all kinds of sparkly nail polish, and really whatever weird or embarrassing thing they could come up with.  I would roll my eyes and say how ridiculous it all was, but now that I rarely get to be with them on Independence Day, I miss all the craziness.  And I still find myself looking for a red, white, and blue outfit come July 4.

For the past few years, I’ve wanted to make my own version of this Alabama Chanin corset tank, so I finally decided now was the time to do it.  My friend Mary (also mentioned in this post) gave me some unused white t-shirts, and I cut them up according to the pattern in Alabama Stitch Book by Natalie Chanin, and sewed them back together to make my own tank.  I’ve made this pattern before and liked it.  Rather than hand-sewing the shirt, I chose to use my machine for speed, and instead of beading my tank like they did in my inspiration picture, I used a double strand of red button/craft thread to hand-sew my seam allowances down in a way that I liked.

Happy Independence Day!  (Red + White Corset Tank)

Front

Happy Independence Day!  (Red + White Corset Tank)

Back

I also chose to bind the bottom edge.

Before making this, I tried to raise the neckline using the instructions in Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns (also by Natalie Chanin), but I took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up with things just as they had always had been.  The low cut is definitely flattering, but it’s a bit too low for my comfort level, so I had to enlist an undershirt for a little extra coverage.  I’ll try to raise the neckline again another time.

Happy Independence Day!  (Red + White Corset Tank)

Happy Independence Day!  (Red + White Corset Tank)

While sewing this, I was watching a movie with a baseball theme, and pretty soon, all I could see was a baseball-inspired shirt.  I guess I could wear it to a game or for the 4th of July!

I kept my knots on the inside, although the shirt is reversible, so I can also flip it inside out, if I want something a little different.

Happy Independence Day!  (Red + White Corset Tank)

detail, shoulder and neckline area

Happy Independence Day!  (Red + White Corset Tank)

detail, hemline

All I needed was some blue jeans and I’m ready for the 4th of July!

Happy Independence Day!  (Red + White Corset Tank)

Happy Independence Day!!!

P.S.–I may take a little time off this month.  I’m not sure what that will look like or how often I will or won’t post, but if it seems quiet over here this month, don’t fret.  I’ll get back up to speed in August.

Summer=Swimsuits: Soma Bathing Suit Hack

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I’m back today with my long-awaited/long-procrastinated-on Soma swimsuit hack.  During the winter, I tried all the Soma swimsuit variations (here, here, and here).  Then, I set out to make my ultimate version!  Here were my goals:

  1. Turn Bikini Variation 2 into a tankini, inspired by this suit.
  2. Add support in the form of underwires, with help from Gertie’s blog.
  3. Add polylaminate foam for coverage and modesty, as seen on sallieoh’s blog.

Let’s check out the suit:

Summer=Swimsuits:  Soma Bathing Suit HackThe top.

Summer=Swimsuits:  Soma Bathing Suit HackHigh rise bottoms.

Summer=Swimsuits:  Soma Bathing Suit HackLow rise bottoms.

Let’s talk about the bottoms, because there isn’t much to say there.  I followed the directions and made the low rise bottoms in a medium and the high rise bottoms in a small.  I used black fabric for the outside with a black lining.  I used white elastic because I wanted to order a large quantity, and I figured that would be most versatile.  I like them, but I think the next time I make bottoms, I’ll go for something with more coverage rather than this style, which is slightly cheeky.  I think the pattern for these is good–that’s just my personal preference.

Now for the top.  Here’s a small fraction of my planning:

Summer=Swimsuits:  Soma Bathing Suit Hack This is when math class (at least arithmetic) meets the real world!  I figured and refigured until I thought I had it right, and then I made pattern pieces for the front and the back trusting in the spandex to stretch right over any mistakes I might have made.

Summer=Swimsuits:  Soma Bathing Suit HackFrom left to right:  back, front middle, front sides.

So, this next part is going to get long.  Feel free to skip to the end if you aren’t interested in the sewing details, but because it’s helpful to me when others post what they did, I’m going to give you my step-by-step process (because I’m also hoping someone out there can troubleshoot my mistakes!).  This will make most sense if you have a copy of the directions in hand while reading this.  Here we go!

This was my process for the top:

  1. Starting with the bikini top part, stitch together outer fabric only as in Step 1 of the directions.
  2. Stitch together lining only as for outer fabric in Step 1.  In retrospect, I should have followed the lining instructions.
  3. Trim seam allowances back and clip curves on outer and lining pieces.
  4. Encase underwires in channeling or 1/4″ double fold bias tape (I used this since I hadn’t ordered channeling.).  Don’t stitch ends closed, at least on one side.  Leave extra bias tape at ends.
  5. Pin to inside of lining, matching bottoms to underbust seam and shorter sides to triangle seam.
  6. Hold underwires slightly open (as per Gertie) and mark with chalk or whatever.
  7. Remove underwires and sew on both sides of channeling/tape with a straight stitch.
  8. Reinsert underwires and sew ends closed.
  9. Pin polylaminate foam in place with lots of pins!
  10. Use long zigzag stitch (for me this was a zigzag with a width of 4 and a length of 2.5) to sew around the outer perimeter of the front.
  11. Use square zigzag (this had a width of 4 or 5 and a length of 1.5) to sew over seam between lower cup and underbust piece, being careful not to sew the underwires.  Sew from central triangle toward outside seam.
  12. Use square zigzag to sew on either side of center bust seam from middle triangle to outer edge.  I tried and tried to do this, but my machine kept skipping stitches and I never managed to get it right.  I had to rip the stitches out in the end.
  13. Follow steps 7 and 8 for Bikini Variation 2 in the instructions with a square zigzag (I used a width of 5).
  14. Stitch together the bottom of the back piece so it can be used as one piece.
  15. Assemble front outer fabric and then lining fabric for tankini/stomach section.  I forgot that I wanted to sew each outer piece to each lining piece and then assemble the front so it wouldn’t balloon in the water, but I don’t think it mattered in the end.  I ended up with pieced outer fabric and pieced lining fabric for the front that was not attached together.  If I wasn’t going to sew them together, though, I could have just cut two of the back pattern piece in lining fabric and saved myself some time and made the inside of the suit look a little nicer.  Oh, well.
  16. Sew front sections together wrong sides together around the edges.
  17. Layer fabric for tankini section in this order:  outer back fabric right side facing up, constructed front right side facing down, back lining piece wrong side facing up.  Pin together at sides and sew with long zigzag stitch.
  18. Flip fabric around so everything is right way out.  All side and front piecing seams should be enclosed.
  19. Use a long zigzag to sew across the front excess length (there was about 1 inch extra length on the front) in preparation for trimming it even.
  20. Use long zigzag to sew top and bottom of stomach/back covering together so it seams like one tube/piece of fabric.
  21. Omit elastic sewn around the bottom of the bikini top in the directions.
  22. Attach stomach/back piece to bikini top piece with right sides together.
  23. Hem bottom with a half inch hem and square zigzag.
  24. Use directions on Papercut’s website to make straps (1 1/2 inch wide cross-cut strips of fabric and 3/8 inch elastic), but use square zigzag for all (width of 4, length of 1.5) rather than the long zigzag.  Also, double sew (sew twice) when sewing right sides of fabric together.
  25. Step 9 in the directions with lots of stitches!!!
  26. Step 10 in the directions with lots of stitches!!!
  27. Test in the shower or at the beach.

Here’s a look at the back and inside of the suit.

Summer=Swimsuits:  Soma Bathing Suit Hack

Summer=Swimsuits:  Soma Bathing Suit Hack

Summer=Swimsuits:  Soma Bathing Suit Hack

Summer=Swimsuits:  Soma Bathing Suit Hack

I tested the suit and the high rise bottoms out on Wednesday for a good couple of hours at a local pond and here are the successes and failures of the suit in its current state.

Successes:

  1. The general silhouette is great and very flattering.
  2. This works well as a tankini and my version offers good coverage in the stomach area, which I like.
  3. The style lines and color blocking are cool.  I’m happy with how that turned out.
  4. The top gives some support and separation in the chest area.
  5. I finished this crazy suit!

Failures (or at least “Elements I am Not Satisfied With”):

  1. The underwires do not lay flat against my chest.  Since I don’t have any experience making bras at this point, this is something I can’t troubleshoot.
  2. The polylaminate foam I put into the upper and lower cup areas does not offer full coverage.  I cut off the seam allowances and had to stretch the fabric to put them in, so that they seemed like they would offer full coverage, but when I put the suit on, the foam in the bottom cup sinks down and leaves the exact area where I wanted padding unpadded!  I tried to use a zigzag above and below the central seam joining the cups, but my machine, which sews well through all kinds of materials, skipped like crazy and just couldn’t handle sewing right on that foam.  I used a walking foot, wooly nylon in my bobbin and nice Gutermann thread up top, tried both a stretch and a jersey needle (new ones), and messed with the tension and feed-dog pressure.  What the heck?!!

If you look at this picture, you can probably see the holes from one of my topstitching attempts on the lower cup on the right side:

Summer=Swimsuits:  Soma Bathing Suit Hack

Here’s an inside shot, too, for those who might be curious for a close-up:

Summer=Swimsuits:  Soma Bathing Suit Hack

After trying numerous solutions to the foam problem, I knew that I just needed to finish this thing and move on with my life.  I’ve been mulling it over, working on it, and procrastinating on it for so many months now.

My conclusion is that it’s still a wearable suit.  It does offer some support, even if the support isn’t right.  After my trip to the pond, though, I realized that I could live with the underwire situation being imperfect, but I really want to fix that foam.  The foam from the upper cup is partially stabilized by being caught in the fold-over on the top edge but the bottom is not anchored down, just held between the outer and inner fabric.

Readers, what would YOU do about stabilizing the rest of the foam?  Can I use a straight stitch?  I had assumed it needed to be a stretch stitch, but maybe I’m wrong.  Can you troubleshoot this suit for me?  What would you have done differently with the underwires?  Is this pattern one that can even be made into the kind of suit I tried to make it into?

My hope in posting all these details is that someone, somewhere will be able to take my experiment to the next level and perfect it.  I’m also hoping some of you will know what I did wrong and tell me.  Even though I will probably not make this suit again, I want to know how I could have made it better.  When I set out to make this, I scoured the internet to find out if anyone had put in underwires, and couldn’t find that they had.  I’m hoping someone will find my post, and take this pattern/idea one step further.  You can do it!  (But if you do, leave me a link in the comments so I can go and check it out.)

For anyone who’s curious, I got my fabric from Girl Charlee and my elastic and polylaminate foam used for swim cups from Sew Sassy.  The underwires came from an old bra.

 

Now for Something a Little Bit Different…Pillows!

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Today’s Show and Tell is a little bit of a departure from my normal sewing paths.  While in this learning phase of sewing, I’ve been a mostly selfish sewer.  A short time ago, however, my friend Mary asked if I would be willing to make some pillows for her.  Her father-in-law had passed away and she wanted some of his favorite clothing to be made into pillows for her daughters to have as keepsakes of their grandfather.  I thought it sounded like a great idea, as well as a fun challenge for me.  I finished them early this week, and I thought you might like a look.

Keepsake Pillows by Pattern and Branch

Mary gave me a sweater, two blazers, a flannel shirt, and a pair of pants.  She had already washed the sweater, but I washed and dried the other items twice to make them shrink as much as possible so that if her daughters ever needed to wash the pillow covers, they could use the washer and dryer (rather than a dry cleaner) without fear of shrinking them.

I got a little nervous when I did this.  Everything looked so frayed and crazy.  I thought, “What if I don’t have enough fabric to make these pillows?!!!”  But then I turned on American Pickers, got my scissors out, and started deconstructing and ironing.  I saved all the buttons, tags, and anything else that seemed useful in case I wanted to incorporate it later.  Eventually I got everything into neat little pieces.

Keepsake Pillows by Pattern and Branch

At that point I began to see where I wanted to go with the pillows.  Mary had given me the pillow forms for the project, so I knew the dimensions I needed to sew to.

Keepsake Pillows by Pattern and Branch

Then, I got into a thinking and procrastinating phase with several projects at once:  not sure of all the pillow designs, problems with the bathing suit I’m sewing (yes, I’m still making versions of the Soma Swimsuit), and fitting issues with some shorts I had started.  Finally, I decided, it was time to FINISH things!

Back to work!  (At least on the things I had a clear direction for–the other ideas would come in due time.)

Keepsake Pillows by Pattern and Branch

Keepsake Pillows by Pattern and Branch

Keepsake Pillows by Pattern and Branch

Keepsake Pillows by Pattern and Branch

Luckily Mary had given me complete creative license, so I could do what I wanted.  I also tried to take the quality up a notch.  I don’t go back and fix all my mistakes in my own garments, but I made sure to fix off-center button holes and buttons and finish all my seams in this project.  Gotta get professional, here!

Finally, I figured all my design and construction questions out, and I finished!!!

 

Keepsake Pillows by Pattern and Branch

Fronts.

Keepsake Pillows by Pattern and Branch

And backs.

Keepsake Pillows by Pattern and Branch

Keepsake Pillows by Pattern and Branch

This pillow was made from the two blazers (the striped front) and the pants (the gray back).

Keepsake Pillows by Pattern and Branch

Keepsake Pillows by Pattern and Branch

I made this one from the gray pants and the cotton flannel shirt (the red).

Keepsake Pillows by Pattern and Branch

Keepsake Pillows by Pattern and Branch

Finally, there is the pillow made from the sweater.  The buttons and button holes are stabilized with strips of the gray pants material underneath.

In the end, I was really happy with how these turned out–happy with the quality, happy with the designs, and really happy that I hadn’t ruined the fabric!  The best part, though, was that Mary was really happy with them.  Hopefully her daughters will love them, too, and enjoy having them as a way to remember their grandfather.

Fit for Fitness: Gray Exercise Tank

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Wow.  I feel like we just dropped back into “normal blog life” if there is ever such a thing.  Me-Made-May ’15 (MMM ’15) is over, and I got to tell you about the exciting new fabric store opening in NH.  Now we’re back to life and projects.  I’ve got about three projects going on (not counting the thousand in my head), but one I just finished is fitting the gray exercise tank you saw on MMM ’15 day 20.  Did you notice it was a little floppy in parts?

Fitting the exercise tank (Pattern and Branch)

Interestingly enough, this is the same pattern I showed you here.  Check it out.

Fitting the exercise tank (Pattern and Branch)

Fitting the exercise tank (Pattern and Branch)

Fitting the exercise tank (Pattern and Branch)

The differences are that I finished the gray tank top with fold-over-elastic rather than cross-cut strips of this ITY knit that I used on the back of the shirt above.  The other interesting thing about this pattern is that it’s actually for woven fabric.  It’s also a pajama pattern.  (In case you are wondering, it’s McCall’s 6848.)

Fitting the exercise tank (Pattern and Branch)

Fitting the exercise tank (Pattern and Branch)

This pattern is quickly becoming one of my most used, but least made for its intended purpose–sleepwear.  ;)

So, with all that build-up, you might still remember that we were talking about fitting the gray tank.  Fitting is an area that is still dark in my mind.  I don’t know how to do it, really, but I guess I have to figure it out sometime if I’m ever going to turn the light on, so to speak.

In order to fit this tank, I tried something that I had just tried on a friend’s shirt that had gaping armholes.  I took a triangle out from under the arms.  The triangle was about one and a half inches wide and tapered into the old seamline about six or seven inches down.  I read somewhere that taking the shoulders up can also help with a gaping neckline, so I tried that, too, taking out a small triangle that was about half an inch wide on the side closest to the neck and that tapered to nothing at the other side.  Does that make sense?  Here are some pictures, so you can see what I’m talking about.

Fitting the exercise tank (Pattern and Branch)This is the side seam.

Here is how it looks on:

Fitting the exercise tank (Pattern and Branch)

 

Fitting the exercise tank (Pattern and Branch)

Here is a close-up of the shoulder seam.

Fitting the exercise tank (Pattern and Branch)

Here is what it looks like on:

Fitting the exercise tank (Pattern and Branch)

Not perfect, but I got to the point where I felt like I had mostly achieved success (especially since I have such limited fitting experience), and that if I kept fiddling with it, it would get worse or just never be finished.  And I need to finish projects in order to spur myself on toward new ones.

I basted these seams with a straight stitch first to test them out, which got me to the gym once.   (Yea!)  Then once I found that they were good, I went over them with a zig-zag stitch.  I’m sure they would have been mostly fine with a straight stitch, but the zig-zag seemed appropriate (Wow.  I almost wrote that it “seamed” appropriate.  Ha!)  In case anyone is wondering, I used a zig-zag that was 6 in width and 1 in length.  I’m not sure what that is.  Millimeters?  I should really know that.  All I do know is that it worked.  Here’s how it looks finished.

Fitting the exercise tank (Pattern and Branch)

Yea!  An early fitting success.  I’m sure as I go along learning to fit, I can get more and more picky, but in knitting, my mantra is, “Don’t be a stressed out knitter!”  That means that when starting out, you should just ignore your mistakes and keep going.  The more you learn, the easier (and less devastating) those mistakes will be.  As you get better, you can fix more, but in the beginning, the most important thing is to get something marginally wearable done so you can feel proud enough to try again.  Also, as far as this shirt and other knit fabric sewing projects are concerned, knits are forgiving, so I try not to be too hard on myself.

It’s nice to deal with sewing and art problems in the sense that you can make mistakes and learn from them.  Sometimes mistakes make you better, they always teach you something, and sometimes a mistake is just a bump on the road to an even better end-result than you originally envisioned.  Too bad for people like doctors and engineers that they can’t have that philosophy.  Mistakes there can equal death, but in sewing, they make you better.  Hooray for sewing!!!!

 

This is a Public Service Announcement. (Fabric! Yarn!)

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The day has finally come.  Pintuck & Purl, in Exeter, NH has opened its doors to the public.  You may remember that we’ve talked about them before.  When I heard a new fabric and yarn store was opening within driving distance of my house, I was pretty excited.  Thanks to the generosity of Maggie, the shop owner, I got to come in early, along with some other privileged people, and take a look around.  Now I get to show YOU some pictures.  That way you’ll know what you are looking for when you head there yourself.  Because you are going to want to.  (I’m already plotting my return.)

First impression:  Wow…and Yes!!!!

All the fabrics I always read about, but don’t really know how they feel are there, in the flesh fiber.  I’ve slowed down on my knitting in recent years, but they have some pretty tempting stuff in that department, too.  As anyone who knows me can tell you, I can go on at length about things I’m excited about, but maybe I should spare you the verbal gush and give you some visual gushing instead.  Let’s take a little tour of the shop:

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)Let’s start with this super-cute classroom space.  This is to your right as you enter.  Maggie also has this awesome calendar (I want one!) showing everything going on in the shop for the month.  (You can also view this on her website.)

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)To your left as you enter, and around a little wall, is a cozy space for hanging out, knitting, chatting.  We all know making things isn’t only about the things themselves.  It also has so much to do with sharing, whether that means talking to a friend as we knit or creating something for someone we love.  I think this space will really facilitate that.

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)

Here’s a wider view of the shop (That’s Maggie cutting some AWESOME linen I bought.  I cannot WAIT to use that stuff.).  The door and classroom space are to my left, and you are looking at the front counter that you will see as you come in.  The hang-out space is beyond the wall in the back left.  I suppose the building is really a rectangle, but the way the shop is divided makes it feel spacious and cozy at the same time.

Let’s look at some of the lovely materials you might find at Pintuck & Purl, shall we?

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)Maggie is stocking some great indie sewing patterns as well as gorgeous fabric.  Check out that pink voile on the cutting table–that was my other purchase.  So soft!!!

I only had about an hour there, and I spent so much time examining fabric, that I didn’t even get a chance to look at all the patterns!  Darn.  I’ll have to go back.  ;)

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)

For those who like quilting or just the great prints you find on quilting cotton, she also has a really lovely selection of quilting fabric that can walk the line between quilting and apparel.

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)

Need some notions?  Check!

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)

Cool vintage patterns?  Check!

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)

Vintage buttons?  Check!  Check!

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)

Because I am becoming frighteningly obsessed with sewing, this post is a little more sewing-focused, but that doesn’t mean the shop is.  There are plenty of goodies for knitters as well.  The yarn was really gorgeous.

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)

Loved this stuff!!

Look at this wall of knitting needles below.

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)

Despite the fact that I already have at least two stitch gauges, I was tempted by these.

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)

I still haven’t gotten over my hunger for colors after last winter, so I had fun looking in here, and…

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)

…in here!

So, when you go to Pintuck & Purl, look for this red building.  This is where you are going.

Pintuck & Purl Open House (Pattern and Branch)

Then go right on in, say hi to Maggie, and equip yourself for your next project!

Pintuck & Purl

50 Lincoln Street

Exeter, NH

603-418-7175

http://pintuckandpurl.com/

 

Me-Made-May ’15: The Last Three Days

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Well, I can’t believe it.  May is over and it’s time to wrap up Me-Made-May ’15 with pictures from the last three days.

The first of these is a Friday, which had the theme “Your Town”.  I picked something that represented this area rather than something specific to my town:  clamming and shellfish!  Shellfish are a big industry here and for the last few summers, I’ve taken out a recreational clamming license (see here and here), so I tried to take a few shots with some shellfish-related props.  My me-made clothing piece is this shirt (which you may remember from Day 16) made from a bedsheet and pajama pattern (M6848 by McCall’s).

MMM'15 Day 29 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 29: Pajama shirt as everyday shirt from a sheet and McCall’s 6848 #mmmay15

 

MMM'15 Day 29 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 29: Pajama shirt as everyday shirt from a sheet and McCall’s 6848 #mmmay15

Day 30 was two layered Alabama Chanin pieces.  The top layer was the Alabama Chanin corset from Alabama Stitch Book you saw on Day 25.  The layer beneath is the short fitted dress pattern from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.  It’s a variation of the dress I wore on Day 28.  The dress alone wasn’t inspiring me that day, so I thought I would make it more interesting with some layering.  I love how they layer pieces in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, so I decided to go for it, and I loved it!  I will say that this type of layered outfit is not your friend in the hottest, most humid weather, though.  With the camisole as the base piece, I was wearing three layers on top which got a little bit warm.

While I love these patterns, they are a bit low-cut for me, so I usually wear a camisole or tank top underneath with a higher neckline.  Luckily, if you sew up these patterns and feel as I do, you can now check out Alabama Chanin book number four, Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns, which takes you through how to alter patterns, including raising necklines.  (Each of the books I’ve just mentioned is written by Natalie Chanin.)

MMM'15 Day 30 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 30: Corset tank top from Alabama Stitch Book by Natalie Chanin, made from an oversized t-shirt and short fitted dress from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin, made from a knit sheet #mmmay15

 

MMM'15 Day 30 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 30: Short fitted dress from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin, made from a knit sheet #mmmay15

 

MMM'15 Day 30 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 30: Short fitted dress from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin, made from a knit sheet (close-up) #mmmay15

And the final outfit for May?  This dress which I copied from a vintage dress.  I think the fabric is silk.  My husband’s parents were kind enough to give me my pick of his grandmother’s sewing supplies after she passed away, and this is one of the fabrics that she had in her stash.  It’s very light and comfortable.

MMM'15 Day 31 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 31: Silk dress copied from a vintage dress #mmmay15

 

MMM'15 Day 31 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 31: Silk dress copied from a vintage dress #mmmay15

 

MMM'15 Day 31 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 31: Silk dress copied from a vintage dress (close-up) #mmmay15

Final thoughts?  This was a great challenge both from a sewing and a fashion standpoint.  I had to really think about what I had made and how to wear it creatively.  I had more makes than I realized, and now I’m inspired to sew even more of my clothing.  It was extra mental work to figure out new outfits (I tend to repeat a lot more in my normal daily life), but I think that was good for this set time period.  It helped me to think of new ways to wear what I had, and seeing my outfits through the eyes and comments of others helped me to take a new look at them.

This challenge also made me practice thinking through how to take pictures.  Thanks go to my photographers,  my daughter and my husband.  They did a great job!

And thanks to YOU for tuning in throughout the month.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Me-Made-May ’15: Week Four

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Welcome to Week Four of Me-Made-May ’15!  This was another good week with fewer repeats than I had expected.  Let’s get straight to the pictures!

Friday’s theme was “animals”.  I dug out this t-shirt that I self-drafted (with the help of Design-It-Yourself Clothes by Cal Patch).  I had planned to make some changes to it, but after putting it on, I decided it still worked.  Another point for immediate gratification!

MMM'15 Day 22 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 22: Self-drafted t-shirt #mmmay15

 

MMM'15 Day 22 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 22: Self-drafted t-shirt (close-up) #mmmay15

 

MMM'15 Day 22 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 22: Self-drafted t-shirt (detail) #mmmay15

You’ve seen this one before!  This was another wear of my pink Summer Blouse (but this time with new boots–major thrifting score!!).

MMM'15 Day 23 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 23: Summer Blouse from Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross, made from a vintage sheet #mmmay15

Note the lovely clip-on earrings scored at Brimfield.

MMM'15 Day 23 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 23: Summer Blouse from Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross, made from a vintage sheet (close-up) #mmmay15

Now for one that long-time readers will recognize.  This dress was in my first post for this blog.  It was a pairing of Alabama Chanin reverse applique and beading with a pattern from The Party Dress Book by Mary Adams.  It was beyond my skill level at the time, but it was so worth it, imperfections and all.

MMM'15 Day 24 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 24: Dress pattern from The Party Dress Book by Mary Adams with Alabama Chanin style reverse applique and beading, made from knit sheets #mmmay15

 

MMM'15 Day 24 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 24: Dress pattern from The Party Dress Book by Mary Adams with Alabama Chanin style reverse applique and beading, made from knit sheets #mmmay15

The bodice actually has three layers of fabric for the reverse applique.  I was hoping the extra layers would also provide stability to the top, which they do.  (Yea!)

MMM'15 Day 24 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 24: Dress pattern from The Party Dress Book by Mary Adams with Alabama Chanin style reverse applique and beading, made from knit sheets (detail) #mmmay15

My photographer (my daughter) told me we absolutely HAD to have a twirling shot.  This circle skirt is pretty awesome.

MMM'15 Day 24 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 24: Dress pattern from The Party Dress Book by Mary Adams with Alabama Chanin style reverse applique and beading, made from knit sheets #mmmay15

Next is this Alabama Chanin corset from Alabama Stitch Book by Natalie Chanin.  This is such a great tank.  It has fit me at various sizes and has such interesting lines.

MMM'15 Day 25 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 25: Corset tank top from Alabama Stitch Book by Natalie Chanin, made from an oversized t-shirt #mmmay15

MMM'15 Day 25 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 25: Corset tank top from Alabama Stitch Book by Natalie Chanin, made from an oversized t-shirt (close-up) #mmmay15

It’s also reversible!  I usually wear it like you see it above because I like to see the seam allowances, but you can also wear it as below for a more subtle effect.

Check out the starfish we found!  (Don’t worry, we put it back.)

MMM'15 Day 25 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 25: Corset tank top from Alabama Stitch Book by Natalie Chanin, made from an oversized t-shirt; reversible #mmmay15

These shorts are a free pattern from Anna Maria Horner.  I really needed some shorts a few summers ago, so I made these from some Amy Butler Nigella fabric that was a home décor cotton.  At that point, I just used pinking shears on all my seam allowances after sewing, so I always have little frays and strings hanging down inside, but the fact that I am starting to think about finishing my seams on a regular basis shows me how far I’ve come.  Maybe someday I’ll be a patient sewer…or maybe I’ll be so fast and AWESOME, I won’t have to be patient!  Even better.  ;)

MMM'15 Day 26 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 26: Pleasant Pathways Shorts by Anna Maria Horner for Janome (free pattern) using Amy Butler Nigella home décor weight fabric #mmmay15

 

MMM'15 Day 26 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 26: Pleasant Pathways Shorts by Anna Maria Horner for Janome (free pattern) using Amy Butler Nigella home décor weight fabric (close-up) #mmmay15

You will probably not be surprised to see yet another Alabama Chanin make.  These are a summer staple for me.  This is the Fitted Top from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin.

MMM'15 Day 27 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 27: Fitted Top from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin, made from an oversized t-shirt #mmmay15

 

MMM'15 Day 27 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 27: Fitted Top from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin, made from an oversized t-shirt (close-up) #mmmay15

It’s also reversible.

MMM'15 Day 27 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 27: Fitted Top from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin, made from an oversized t-shirt; reversible #mmmay15

Try not to be shocked.  This one’s from Alabama Chanin, too.  This is the Long Fitted Dress from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.  Maybe you can tell that the top in the above picture is really just the top part of this dress.  You might also recognize the fabric from Day 21.  I got a lot of mileage out of this sheet and the t-shirt I cut up for neck and armhole binding.

MMM'15 Day 28 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 28: Long Fitted Dress from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin, made from a knit sheet and a t-shirt (trim) #mmmay15

The dress has a small train, which I love.  Yes, it means you have to hold your dress up a like a lady of the olden days, but that’s kind of fun.  I could have cut it off, but I kept it.  It makes me feel fancy.  ;)

MMM'15 Day 28 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 28: Long Fitted Dress from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin, made from a knit sheet and a t-shirt (trim) #mmmay15

I like to wear this one with the seam allowances showing, too, but you could easily turn them to the inside.

MMM'15 Day 28 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 28: Long Fitted Dress from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin, made from a knit sheet and a t-shirt (trim) (details) #mmmay15

Most of these makes are from pre-blogging days, so it’s fun to get them out.

Next week’s Me-Made-May post will cover the last three days of May.  Three more to go!  I can’t believe it.  See you then, if not before!

Me-Made-May ’15: Week Three

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Here we are at the end of week three of Me-Made-May.  I’m excited to show you some more pictures.  I was expecting a lot more repeats by this time, but I’ve been digging deep in my closet and storage to try to keep things changed up.  It’s encouraging that I’ve made more garments than I thought I had.  It also makes me want to sew even more!

Since May started on a Friday, the weeks are running Friday to Thursday (at least as far as my blog posts are concerned).  Fridays come with a little extra challenge for anyone who wants to take it on, and week three’s challenge was “Something Old”.

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 15: Summer Blouse from the book Weekend Sewing, made from a vintage sheet #mmmay15

The shirt I’m wearing is “old” in that I made it before I really got traction with sewing and before beginning the blog.  It’s also made from a vintage sheet.  If you read the last post, you’ll recognize this shot.  I found a vintage sheet that almost matched my shirt at Brimfield!

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 16: Pajama shirt as everyday shirt from McCall’s 6848 #mmmay15

This shirt is made from McCall’s 6848, which is a pajama pattern.  You may recognize the fabric from the Mother’s Day skirt in last week’s Me-Made-May post.  It’s a sheet that someone gave me.  I love the fabric and I wanted to see if this shirt would translate into an everyday shirt.  I’d also thought of making it from a knit for exercising and/or day-to-day wear, but I’m not sure.  I like it in these pictures, but when I was wearing it, I kept seeing an old pair of scrubs I used to wear as pajamas.

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 16: Pajama shirt as everyday shirt from McCall’s 6848 (close-up) #mmmay15

 

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 16: Pajama shirt as everyday shirt from McCall’s 6848 (close-up) #mmmay15

The back yoke is actually the hem of the sheet.

 

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 17: Ankara peplum from Simplicity 1699 #mmmay15

 

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 17: Ankara peplum from Simplicity 1699 (close-up) #mmmay15

This shirt is made from Ankara fabric and Simplicity 1699.  I think, in my imagination, where I actually tweak and fit patterns to be just right, I would add an inch to the bodice of the shirt just above the waistline since this sits about an inch high, but in real life, I still love to get a project done and move on.  Maybe someday…

 

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 18: Alabama Chanin style reverse applique scarf/wrap #mmmay15

Day 18 turned into a bit of a photo shoot, so even after narrowing down my choices, I have a lot of pictures to show you.

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 18: Alabama Chanin style reverse applique scarf/wrap #mmmay15

This scarf/wrap is really versatile.  I designed it from some of my husband’s old t-shirts in reverse applique a la Alabama Chanin.  It was a lot of fun to work on and while I don’t wear it as often as I would like, I think it’s still one of the pieces I’m most proud of.

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 18: Alabama Chanin style reverse applique scarf/wrap (close-up) #mmmay15

 

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 18: Alabama Chanin style reverse applique scarf/wrap (close-up) #mmmay15

 

 

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 19: Alabama Chanin style reverse applique shirt #mmmay15

You’ve seen this one before!  The challenge with a repeat garment, especially since I’m taking pictures every day, is to find a new way to style it.  I do that in normal life, too, but when I find a good outfit, I also repeat it.  I’m trying not repeat whole outfits this month so I can give you something a little more interesting than seven of the same outfits repeated each week.  It’s a good creative exercise.

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 19: Alabama Chanin style reverse applique shirt (close-up) #mmmay15

This picture makes me feel like I’m in an Alabama Chanin book.  Not sure why they haven’t called me to model yet…

 

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 19: Alabama Chanin style reverse applique shirt (detail) #mmmay15

 

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 20: Exercise shirt, McCall’s 6848 #mmmay15

I used to be so good at exercising regularly, but my main motivation to exercise this spring has been because I made a new piece of exercise clothing.  I made this shirt and it looked so awesome with the chevron fold over elastic as an edging, but when I wear it, it gapes more than I would like.  I think I may go back and fiddle with the neck and armholes to see if I can get a fit I’m happier with.

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 20: Exercise shirt, McCall’s 6848 (close-up) #mmmay15

This shirt is also from McCall’s 6848.  You can see my first gym-ready version of it here.

Last, but not least for this week is an Alabama Chanin sleeveless shirt.

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 21: Alabama Chanin sleeveless shirt #mmmay15

I love this shirt, but I think if I make it again, I’ll make it one size larger.  I’d love something with a slightly looser fit.

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 21: Alabama Chanin sleeveless shirt (close-up) #mmmay15

I made this shirt from a knit sheet (the main part) and an old t-shirt (the binding).

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 21: Alabama Chanin sleeveless shirt (detail) #mmmay15

 

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 21: Alabama Chanin sleeveless shirt (detail) #mmmay15

I love the Alabama Chanin patterns year-round, but especially for the summer.  I have a feeling I’ll be making more in the warmer months.

That wraps up another week of Me-Made-May.  Thanks for following along.  I’ll report back with more soon!

The Brimfield Report, May 2015

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A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

 

If you’ve been a reader of this blog for any significant amount of time, you’ve probably heard me mention The Brimfield Antique Show.  For newcomers out there, The Brimfield Antique Show is the largest outdoor antique show/flea market in the U.S.  It runs from a Tuesday to a Sunday three times a year in May, July, and September.  This amazing explosion of antiques takes place in the small town of Brimfield, MA, just a bit west of Sturbridge.

Brimfield is a showground for the old, the common, the unique, and the just plain weird.  It’s a mix of antiques, raw materials for creation, junk, and true artistry in the way of upcycling and re-creation.  As a person who loves a deal and a treasure hunt, it’s irresistible.  A good chunk of any Christmas money I get goes into the “Antiques Fund” in the hopes of a trip to Brimfield.

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

I go for the fun of the hunt and the possibility that I might find unique treasures to use in my home or cool gifts for others.  Each show, I decide if I want to try to “see it all” (or at least walk through every field–you can never really see it all), or focus on going slowly through favorite fields.  This year, my best Brimfield buddy and I went the slow route and hit our favorites:  Quaker Acres, New England Motel, The Meadows, and a bit of Hertan’s, Brimfield Barn, Central Park, and Mahogany Ridge.  The various fields stretch back on each side of a one mile stretch of road and have, as you can see, rather unique names.  This may make it seem like we looked through a lot, but I bet we didn’t even get through half of all there was to see.

Want to look through some of our finds?  Let’s start with some of the weirder stuff:

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

Need some extra teeth?

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

How about a fully stocked dental cabinet?

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

Maybe you’re looking for an alligator (foot) change purse?  We saw about a billion alligator purses, some with heads attached that you could have used with this baby.  You may be surprised to hear that I didn’t buy it.  ;)

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

We also found some super cute kitsch, like these owl scissors from Diane at ferdinandhome.

Not only did she have owls, she had something that reminded me of my wardrobe…

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

Check out this sheet!  It almost matches my shirt (which I made from a sheet).

In fact, we found a lot of great fashion at Brimfield.  I took fewer pictures than usual because I got so caught up in everything, but here are a few fun finds.  My friend Jo-Alice and I think it’s time to bring great hats back.

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

These look perfect for next winter.

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

Or maybe you need some cool gear for your motorcycle or bike rides?

Because you never know what you might see at Brimfield, the last time I went with my husband, we created our own game of Brimfield Bingo.  We came up with whatever wild and crazy things we thought we might see or that we would be surprised to see and made a checklist.  Jo-Alice and I did the same thing.  I had a hard time keeping everything in mind because I started to get mesmerized by all the treasures, but Jo-Alice was a pro.  Here’s our list:

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

We found everything but #8 and our bonus.  Pretty good!  Brimfield Bingo is still in its early stages.  Should there be a prize?  Actually finding this stuff feels like a prize in and of itself, but I’ll take suggestions.

Here’s our non-traditional bike (#5):

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

I think it folds up!  I tried to convince my husband that this was the kind of “new” bike he should get when his old one died, but somehow, he didn’t go for it.  Oh, well.

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

Maybe we should have put a hot air balloon basket on our list!

Speaking of baskets, check out these beauties!

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

This shop was owned by Robert Markey of Christiby’s and was filled with gorgeous baskets, wool blankets, and all the things you’d love to see in your dream cabin or hunting lodge.

Check out these gloves.  They are so beautiful.  Can you imagine how much work it would have been to add all those beads?

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

I always love the kitchen and home stuff at Brimfield, too. Here’s a nice selection of Catherineholm pots.

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

I also found this cool shaving mug (I originally thought it was some kind of tea cup) with a picture of “The Old Man of the Mountain“.  Sadly, the Old Man fell off the mountain a few years back, but now we have a picture of him!  I got this for my husband.

Unfortunately, it won’t work with his shaving supplies after all, but maybe it should hold a succulent and an air plant.  What do you think?

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

We always love to look through the printmaking blocks.  I think these were used to make saris.  Jo-Alice uses them to make impressions in clay.

So, what did I get in the end?  Not a lot of quantity, but some fun stuff, nevertheless.

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

I got this shirt.  I love the floral print.

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

I also got some clip-on earrings and a necklace for me, as well as the shaving mug for my husband (which is mine now ;)  ), and a sweet bug book and two handkerchiefs for my girls.

I’d say it was a successful trip.  We walked for 10 hours (minus maybe 15 minutes when we sat down for a snack and some water), found a billion treasures, learned new things, and ate good food.  It was an education, as always, and a ton of fun.