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.

 

Me-Made-May ’15: Week Two

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Time for another Me-Made-May ’15 update.  Unbelievably, I made it through week two of May without a repeat clothing item!  And, I’m still sticking with my one-a-day me-made goal.  So far, so good.  I have not yet resorted to panic sewing, although I did stay up late making a skirt the Saturday before Mother’s Day, but that was just because I wanted a new skirt.  No panic involved.  :)  OK.  Enough babble.  On to the clothes!

 

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

Day 8: Summer Blouse from the book Weekend Sewing, made from a vintage sheet #mmmay15

 

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

Day 8: Summer Blouse from the book Weekend Sewing, made from a vintage sheet #mmmay15

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

Day 8: Summer Blouse from the book Weekend Sewing, made from a vintage sheet (close-up) #mmmay15

Friday (Day 8) also came with a challenge to take a picture with your sewing machine or in your sewing area or something along those lines.

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

Day 8: Summer Blouse from a vintage sheet and my sewing area #mmmay15

Yes, I feel THAT excited about sewing.  ;)  You can see Day 10’s skirt cut out and ready to sew on the table behind me.

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

Day 9: Raglan t-shirt from New Look dress pattern S0595, made from a knit sheet and two upcycled skirts #mmmay15

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

Day 9: Raglan t-shirt from New Look dress pattern S0595, made from a knit sheet and two upcycled skirts (close-up) #mmmay15

Here’s the Mother’s Day skirt.  I had these plans to try making a lining with some free fabric someone gave me, and then I decided the lining material might be hot and I wanted the skirt right away, so I sacrificed the lining and maybe a little bit of quality to get it done.  This is one of those times when it feels like I should feel guilty, but I don’t.  Quick sewing projects rock.  They’re a good way to learn, right?  ;)

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

Day 10: Skirt from New Look 6843, made from a sheet #mmmay15

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

Day 10: Skirt from New Look 6843, made from a sheet (close-up) #mmmay15

I’m laughing because I never know how to pose and that’s a fake cup of coffee.

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

Day 11: Self-drafted leggings, used as pajama pants #mmmay15

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

Day 11: Self-drafted leggings, used as pajama pants (close-up) #mmmay15

 

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

Day 12: Alabama Chanin long-sleeved t-shirt turned into a V-neck #mmmay15

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

Day 12: Alabama Chanin long-sleeved t-shirt turned into a V-neck (close-up) #mmmay15

I’ve been meaning to show you these leggings, but they haven’t made the blog until now.  I’m declaring this stretch the “workout pose” for the blog.

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

Day 13: PB Jam Leggings by Fehr Trade #mmmay15

My friend tried to take an “action photo” at the gym, but it turned out blurry.  :(  You can imagine it was because I was moving so fast that my speed could not be shown rather than the fact that even though I froze, the indoor lighting made the picture blurry.

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

Day 13: PB Jam Leggings by Fehr Trade #mmmay15

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

Day 14: Alabama Chanin Long Skirt made from a knit sheet #mmmay15

 

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

Day 14: Alabama Chanin Long Skirt made from a knit sheet (close-up) #mmmay15

The weather in this part of New England is pretty crazy.  We sometimes have temperature swings of 20 or 30 degrees Fahrenheit from one day to another (or even within a single day), but it’s really great for this challenge because it means I’m able to wear clothes from different seasons.

Are any of you doing the challenge?  If you are, how’s it going?  Hopefully it’s energizing and inspiring you to sew more.

 

 

 

 

Try It: Fried Dandelion Blossoms

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Try It:  Fried Dandelion Blossoms (Pattern and Branch)

Guess what we had with dinner last night?  I guess the title is sort of a spoiler, isn’t it?  We tried Fried Dandelion Blossoms!  I have a number of foraging books (my current favorites are by Samuel Thayer), but I’m pretty cautious.  I usually take a few years to learn a plant before I am willing to try it.  Somehow, learning from books feels less sure than learning a plant from a trusted friend–not because the books are faulty, but because I feel more likely to make a mistake.  Despite my extreme caution, however, I do feel confident in knowing dandelion flowers, so I decided it was finally time to take the plunge.

Try It:  Fried Dandelion Blossoms (Pattern and Branch)

Dandelions are a great first foraging food, as any wild food writer will attest, because all parts of the plant are edible.  There are a number of other plants that can look like dandelions if you haven’t trained your eye, and I don’t know about the edibility of those ones, so don’t blindly follow what I tell you–do your own research or find your own foraging buddy.  I’m a beginner–not an expert.  For myself, though, I feel confident that I can tell when a flower is a dandelion flower.

Try It:  Fried Dandelion Blossoms (Pattern and Branch)

I’d long heard about fried dandelions, so it was time to dive in.  I found this recipe on allrecipes.com and decided that if it was good enough for people in the Appalachian Mountains to make, it sounded like good food to me.  I haven’t reprinted the recipe here because I don’t want to run afoul of any copyright laws, so if you’d like to follow along with my explanations below, you may want to print it out so you can refer to it.

First, I went to the spot you see in the first picture above and picked about a hundred dandelions (I picked the open flowers, not the closed buds like the recipe seems to say.).  Then, I left them in my refrigerator too long, and had to go repick them from my yard because I didn’t cook them soon enough (these pictures were too good to waste, though, so you get to see them anyway).  My good discovery through that bit of procrastination was that if I prepped the dandelions by soaking them for 10 minutes in water with some salt (it’s one of the tips at the bottom of the recipe), and then drying them off, I could put them in a partially closed zip top bag in the vegetable drawer and they would keep for a few days.  I was afraid they would close up, but they didn’t.  I don’t know how long they are really good for, but after a few days, they didn’t look quite as wonderful, so I went out to our yard and picked a hundred more for last night’s dinner.

Try It:  Fried Dandelion Blossoms (Pattern and Branch)

Next, I brought the flowers inside and covered them with room temperature water and a Tablespoon of salt for 10 minutes, as the recipe footnotes suggested.  I swished them around a few times to make sure they were getting well rinsed and debugged.

Try It:  Fried Dandelion Blossoms (Pattern and Branch)

Then I drained them and rinsed them a few times with cool water.  After that, I put them in a towel, went out on the deck and, holding the edges of the towel, swung them around in a circle.  This is our friends’ version of  a salad spinner for people who don’t have one.  :)  It’s great.  That way I don’t have to store a store a salad spinner.

After that, I put the flowers in the egg mixture and stirred them around to coat them.

Try It:  Fried Dandelion Blossoms (Pattern and Branch)

Slightly less appetizing, right?  Hang with me!  They don’t end up looking better, but the final result TASTES awesome!

Once they are all coated, you take half of them and drain them of extra egg, and then put them into your flour+season salt+pepper mixture.  I put mine in a bowl that has a lid, so I could shake it around to coat the flowers.  I bet a zip top bag would work, too.

Try It:  Fried Dandelion Blossoms (Pattern and Branch)

Next, you shake off the excess flour mixture and put the flowers into your warmed and waiting pan.  I used bacon grease as my cooking fat in a cast iron pan on medium heat (we had just made bacon, so it seemed like a good excuse not waste the bacon fat).

Try It:  Fried Dandelion Blossoms (Pattern and Branch)

I did have to add some extra butter because the bacon grease got absorbed part-way through the process.

Try It:  Fried Dandelion Blossoms (Pattern and Branch)

Then, you just cook them until they are golden brown.

Try It:  Fried Dandelion Blossoms (Pattern and Branch)

It was pretty easy and they are so good!!!

My only changes to the recipe if and when I make it again will be to cut back on the salt and pepper a bit.  We are a family that loves salt, but if you eat one after another of these (which you WILL want to do), the salt becomes a bit overpowering.  I’ll probably try 1.5 Tablespoons of seasoned salt and 2 teaspoons of black pepper next time and see how that goes.  The half bacon grease/half butter scenario worked out well, but I would try all butter just as readily.

So, what do you think?  Ready to give these a try?  You know, if you are a homeowner and you hate all the dandelions growing in your yard, you could just cook your way through them…  Think about it!  Free food and fewer dandelion seeds floating around…

If you do try this, I’d love to hear about it!

 

 

Me-Made-May ’15: Week One

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I can’t believe Me-Made-May ’15 has only been going on for eight days!  It seems like a lot longer.  It’s hard to come up with something me-made to wear every day!  It’s also a fun challenge.  So, while I do have other things to show you, we’ll be doing a fair bit of week-in-review stuff this month, so you can see if I’m keeping up with the challenge.  So far I haven’t had to resort to counting the me-made leggings I’m wearing as pj’s as a day’s outfit, but I think that is probably coming.  That’s my fallback.  ;)  Here’s week one:

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

Day 1: Alabama Chanin style shirt #mmmay15

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

Day 1: Alabama Chanin style shirt close-up #mmmay15

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

Day 2: raglan t-shirt #mmmay15

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

Day 2: raglan shirt close-up #mmmay15

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

Day 3: kimono sleeve dress #mmmay15

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

Day 3: kimono sleeve dress close-up #mmmay15

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

Day 4: pink t-shirt and altered jean shorts #mmmay15

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

Day 4: altered jean shorts close-up #mmmay15

 

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

Day 5: Summer Blouse #mmmay15

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

Day 5: Summer Blouse Close-Up #mmmay15

 

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

Day 6: exercise shirt #mmmay15

 

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

Day 7: Ankara/wax print shorts #mmmay15

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

Day 7: Ankara/wax print shorts Close-Up #mmmay15

Wow!  I feel like I’m writing a post that says, “HEY, EVERYBODY!  LOOK AT ME!!!!”  I guess I kind of am…  So, after you LOOK AT ME!!! and my outfits, look around me!  We have flowers!  We have leaves!  We have grass!  Spring is finally here and we even had some warmer weather which is awesome because it’s warmer weather and because it means I got to add a little more variety to the clothing I could wear that I had made.  There’s no way I’m making it through this month without repeats, but it’s a great exercise in creativity and it makes me want to sew even more, and that’s a good thing.

Summer Blouse

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Happy May!  It’s finally May and even though it’s not really warm here, it’s not winter, either.  The leaves and flowers are budding and starting to show their colors.  This is the time of year I’m reminded that you can actually crave color.  I just want to squeeze all the gorgeous greens, blues, yellows, and pinks that are starting to come out!  The other thing I’ve realized is that I want to dress in all these colors, but…it’s still cold, which means layers and long sleeves.

Must mean it’s a good time to make up another Summer Blouse from Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross!

Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross

Summer Blouse from Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross

I’ve made this blouse twice now.  This is a garment that gets a lot of wear in spring and summer, and maybe a little bit into fall.  My fabric of choice is vintage sheeting (as in, “Go to the thrift store and buy a sheet with a pattern you like.”  Cheap and easy.  Just don’t forget to prewash!!!).  I love this fabric for this shirt because all day long you feel like you are getting into newly cleaned sheets.  They don’t wrinkle much and are ideal over a tank top if you need a little break from the sun or if a breeze comes up.  If you need to take a nap, it’s like you are already in bed (ok, just kidding about that one…unless you wear a blanket-like wrap over top!).

Summer Blouse by Pattern and Branch

Summer Blouse by Pattern and Branch

My favorite place to wear one of these blouses is The Brimfield Antique Show, but really any antique flea market will do.  Not only do you get the sun and wind-repelling benefits I mentioned, but if you use a vintage sheet, you look like you’re dressing for your surroundings.  ;)  Just be warned that you may have people look at you funny and then, when they find out you made your shirt from a sheet, tell you their grandmother had those same sheets.

Summer Blouse by Pattern and Branch

Summer Blouse by Pattern and Branch

Strangely enough, as you can see in this last picture, my water-soluble sewing marker didn’t come out completely after I washed this.  I even soaked the shirt overnight in OxyClean.  Luckily, you don’t really notice it when I’m wearing it.  The marks are pretty light and follow some seam lines, but I’ve never had that happen to me before…

A nice thing about this pattern is that you can make this at nearly any skill level.  I made my first version of this blouse when I was pretty new to sewing, and I still love and wear it.  This can also be a great pattern to use a vintage button on if you have a stash of them.

Summer Blouse by Pattern and Branch

Summer Blouse by Pattern and Branch

Summer Blouse by Pattern and Branch

A few things to note:  my version didn’t turn out quite like that pictured in the book.  If I actually try to button this, it sort of chokes me, so I always keep it open and wear it over a tank top.  There is an omission on the pattern pieces (it’s missing some markings at the shoulders).  You can find all errata here.  It’s also much shorter on me than the one on the model in the book.

Even with these differences, though, I love this blouse, and I’d recommend it as a nice summer top to make from sheets, voile, or any light fabric.  Layer it with a jacket for cooler days, and you are all set for antiquing or any fun outing.

 

Me-Made-May ’15

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Have you heard about Me-Made-May?  I’ve been reading sewing blogs for awhile now, and I see the idea resurface every year about this time.  Here’s a definition for you from the website that started it all (‘So, Zo…What Do You Know?’):

Me-Made-May’15 (#mmmay15 for social media interaction) is a challenge designed to encourage people who sew/knit/crochet/refashion/upcycle garments for themselves to actually wear and love them. The me-made and self-stitched challenges have been taking place for five years now and they work on both a personal and community level. The participants decide the specifics of their own challenge pledge, so that the month is appropriate and challenging for them (more on this below). For example, a very common pledge is for a participant to aim to wear one self-stitched or refashioned garment each day for the duration of May 2015. The participants can also choose to document their challenge with daily photos (though this is in no way compulsory for taking part) and share them with other participants…

You can read more specifics about what the challenge is and isn’t over at the original site.  I’ve never had the guts to try this before, but this year, I’m going to make the pledge!  I’m doing it for fun and as an experiment, to see what I discover, so there are not going to be any rigid rules, just an attempt to wear the things I’ve made.  I’m sure I’ll discover holes in my wardrobe (I already know there is a huge hole in the brightly colored t-shirt area.)

So, with some trepidation and a lot of excitement, here it is:

‘I, Lisa Poblenz of patternandbranch.wordpress.com, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’15.  I endeavour to wear at least one me-made garment each week, with a goal of trying to wear one me-made garment each day for the duration of May 2015.’

What should I wear?  Here are some possibilities from past projects:

Me-Made-May '15

Leggings currently used as pajamas–easy!

Me-Made-May '15

Alabama Chanin inspired wrap–works as a wrap or a scarf

Me-Made-May '15

A copy of my vintage hummingbird dress…if it warms up a little

Me-Made-May '15

Another copy of the hummingbird dress. This is a favorite. I’m sure I’ll wear this as a tunic or a dress.

Me-Made-May '15

While this scarf is a bit voluminous, I still love it. This will be a good chance to figure out how best to style it.

Me-Made-May '15

This raglan-sleeve shirt is already getting a lot of wear.

Me-Made-May '15

This wearable muslin is getting a lot of wear, too, since it’s a springy color and I’m so sick of winter! Bright colors are like a spring tonic (whatever that is)!

Me-Made-May '15

Sewing now gives me a reason to go to the gym when I don’t feel like it. I love wearing this top. It makes me feel so cool (literally and figuratively)!

Just this quick review gives me a sense of the fact that I need to make some real New England spring clothes.  That means bright colors and long sleeves!  I have a few finished (or almost finished) projects to share with you soon, and more fun things lined up for future sewing!

Will you participate in Me-Made-May in some way?  If you are a maker, give it some thought, even if you only pledge to wear one thing you made this month.  You can do it!

 

Hits and Misses: T-Shirts, Exercise Top, Exercise Leggings

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I think it’s time for a little catch-up around here.  I took a break from sewing bathing suits after making my tests runs to try a few pattern alterations and to begin exploring exercise clothing.  My goals were to give my basic Alabama Chanin long-sleeved t-shirt pattern tapered sleeves and a boat neck, to turn a New Look dress pattern into a t-shirt with a curved hem, to make an exercise shirt, and to make some exercise leggings.

During the winter I had wanted a long-sleeved boat (bateau) neck shirt pattern.  I had some fabric in mind for it and I thought it would be a useful addition to my pattern library since it’s a style that is versatile enough to work in casual and more dressed up settings.  I took the basic t-shirt pattern with long, fluted sleeves from the book Alabama Studio Sewing + Design and, using the directions in Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing, tried to create a boat neck that would not be so wide as to show undergarments, but would still have that classic look.  I also decided to taper the sleeves so they would no longer flare out at the bottom.  I think the sleeve alteration went well, but the neckline needs to come together in a point at the sides rather than being a flattened oval.  Here is my test garment, made from knit sheets and sewn with yellow thread for contrast.

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

I’d call this a partial win because even though it doesn’t fit my entire vision, the sleeves are good, and my wardrobe desperately needed some brightly colored t-shirts for spring.  I can always come back and work on the neckline later.

Next is my alteration of New Look 0595 from dress to t-shirt.  I love raglan sleeve t-shirts and have been looking for just the right pattern, so I decided to experiment with altering this one.

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Because it has a lot of ease, and I would be making it with a knit fabric, I sized way down and made the 10 (going by my measurements, I should have made a 14/16).  I traced the curved hem of a button down shirt that I like to get the hem shape, and decided to bind the bottom edge a la Alabama Chanin by simply covering it with a folded piece of jersey cut on the cross-grain and stitching with a stretch stitch (in this case, a zig-zag).  Here is version one:

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Version one turned out shorter than I had planned and anticipated, so I added a few inches and came up with version two.

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Just right!

My too-short shirt and the sleeves of version two were made from some clearance fabric (probably poly/spandex).  I’m hoping it doesn’t pill too badly and get gross, but we’ll see.  Remember these leggings?  The fabric on them is pretty pilled/nasty now, so they don’t make it out of the house any more.  For the front and back of the second shirt I used some skirts from Old Navy that I don’t wear anymore and, by a happy accident, I cut an extra front and back, so I dug out the knit sheets again to add sleeves and got this second just-right shirt:

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

You can’t see it very well in these shots, but the skirts had some seaming on them that adds to the interest of these shirts and also makes me look like I did more work than I actually did.  Nice!

Version Two:  a hit!

Next up is my first try at an exercise shirt.  I was intrigued by PatternReview’s Activewear Contest (although I didn’t enter) and I love looking through the clothing and patterns on Melissa Fehr’s website, FehrTrade.  So, thanks to some wicking fabric and poly/spandex from Joann Fabrics and McCall’s 6848, I ventured forth.

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

This McCall’s pattern is one you may remember from when I made these shorts in a wax resist/Ankara fabric.  The pattern is actually for pajamas, but the shirt was perfect for the gym.

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

This was really fast and easy to sew.  Even though this pattern is for wovens rather than knits, I went with my measurements and made a medium.  I like workout tops that are a little loose for airflow.  This one feels great.  For the edges, I hemmed the bottom by folding the fabric up and sewing with a zig-zag stitch, and for the arm and neck edges, I cut strips of my back fabric cross-grain, folded them over the raw edges, and zig-zagged them on.  Since the knit fabric won’t fray, you don’t have to fold the edges of the binding under or double fold it at the hem (or finish any edges on the inside).  I love knits!

When I went to they gym to test it out, I felt like the coolest person there.  I would definitely make this one again (and probably will).

Workout shirt:  a hit!

Lastly, I made myself some leggings using the same wicking fabric I used for the front of my shirt (above) and a self-drafted pattern (you can see a post on that here).  This was a bit of a learning experience.  The pants came together quickly and easily and, while not as stretchy as the fabric I used the first time I sewed this pattern, I could get them on fine.  Here’s what they look like:

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Not too bad.  Maybe the fabric is a little thin, but it was a start.  I took them to the gym to test them out just by shooting some baskets–nothing too strenuous.

First, I realized this:

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Oops.  The waistband’s a little loose.  OK.  I could fix that.  I folded it over for the time being, and kept shooting baskets.  It was winter.  I was cranky.  I needed some form of exercise.

Then, I had this problem.  Can you see what it is?

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Hm.  My pants started to slide down a bit.  The crotch was getting lower and lower as I hopped around and chased the basketball.  Nothing indecent, but not what you want out of the pants you wear to exercise in.  Good thing I wasn’t on a treadmill!  I had to go through this sort of thing a few times:

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Pull up one side.

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Pull up the other side.

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Make sure the front is pulled up and fold that waistband over again.

Hm.  Maybe this was more than an elastic problem.  Luckily, no one is really looking at you as much as you think they are, so it wasn’t like I was a spectacle or anything.  However, I started to think that maybe this problem had something to do with my inexperience and, um, my fabric choice.  I went back to Joann’s and looked.  This fabric only has about 8% spandex and definitely stretches more in one direction than the other.  So, these leggings got chalked up to “a learning experience” and they are going back with the other fabric to be reused in another garment.  I also bought myself the FehrTrade PB Jam Leggings Pattern to one day try exercise pants again.

Exercise Leggings:  a miss and a craft fail (but a good learning experience).

I’m hoping to finish one last project and then get back to bathing suits (and more!).  I really, really want to try adding underwires to the Soma Swimsuit while simultaneously turning Bikini Variation 2 into a tankini.  Even after plenty of online research, I’m not confident I know what to do as far as adding the support I want.  Any advice?  I think I’ve been avoiding it.  It could bomb or it could BE the bomb!  Stay tuned!!!

 

Breaking News: New Fabric and Yarn Store!!!

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Hi, readers!  If you are local to southern New Hampshire or the North Shore of Massachusetts, you may be interested to hear that we’re going to have a new fabric and yarn store in the area soon.  I was so excited to hear from Laurel of Retromat Vintage that her friend Maggie is opening a brick and mortar store called Pintuck & Purl in Exeter, New Hampshire.  Maggie says she hopes to open by the end of May or beginning of June, but stay posted for updates!

Anyone who sews or knits knows that sourcing materials is one of the most exciting and frustrating parts of making.  There are so many great online shops, but there is no substitute for being able to feel and see the goods in person.  It looks like Maggie will also have classes, so plan a field trip!  You can keep an eye on her blog or facebook page for more information and, to tide you over until she opens, she also has an etsy store.  Hooray for more fabric, yarn, and knowledge!  Good luck, Maggie!

Pintuck & Purl

50 Lincoln Street

Exeter, NH 03833

Think “Spring”: Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company

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Back in college, I discovered something amazing:  seed catalogues.  I had no idea there was any such thing.  Then, Martha Stewart did an article in her magazine about seed companies.  There were so many great options.  I think I ordered any catalogue I could get for free.  My favorite became Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company

I always sign up to get one of their catalogues, and I save their catalogues from previous years to use for planning or to give to friends.  The arrival of the Baker Creek seed catalogue gets me excited for spring and all things “garden”.

Of course you can buy seed packets at any number of stores.  I can and do buy seeds from local stores, but not everyone has purple carrots, green and purple beans, striped tomatoes, or strange and wonderful squashes that I’ve read about in the pages of books.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company

The only downside of all these super-cool vegetables, fruits, and herbs is that I have a hard time narrowing my focus.  Even after I eliminate some of my ideas, I still tend to have so many things I want to try that it can get a bit crazy.  (One year I got really enthusiastic and started over 200 tomato plants from seed.  It was actually a relief when some of them got destroyed in an accident.  :(  Consider yourself warned!!!)  If, however, you want to cook with things you can’t easily find in stores, here’s your chance to grow your own.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company

My one regret on this topic is that I didn’t post this sooner.  Unless they’ve reprinted, I think they may have run out of free catalogues for this year, but sign up for next year’s or look at their offerings online if you are thinking about what to plant this year.  I CAN’T WAIT FOR SPRING!!!!  ;)