Breathing New Life into an Old Suit

Jones New York1I’ve had a Jones New York 100% worsted wool navy suit (jacket & skirt) hanging in my closet for at least 15 years. The last time I wore the suit was 8-1/2 years ago to my Mother-in-Law’s funeral. I liked the jacket, but never liked the skirt…..the skirt was a too long ankle length a-line skirt that had scooped pockets that popped open every time I moved, and it wasn’t lined so I found it to be quite itchy and uncomfortable to wear. The long a-line style was matronly and made me feel like a Christmas tree whenever I wore it.

I recently started a job search and needed a couple of professional looking interview suits. The suit jacket doesn’t have huge shoulder pads and has a fairly classic style so I think it will be fine to wear to interviews, but I needed to do something with that awful skirt. I thought about removing 8 or 10 inches from the bottom of it and hemming it to a shorter, more modern and attractive knee length, but that alone wouldn’t fix those annoying pockets or the itchiness. The skirt had been hanging in my sewing room for months and the more I looked at it, the more I knew I needed to do something a bit more radical than just shorten the hem……so I carefully removed the zipper and the hem, cut out all the seams and had enough fabric to cut out and sew an entirely new skirt. Recycling the fabric into a new skirt ensured a perfect match between my new skirt and the existing jacket.

M3341, Misses' A-Line Skirts In Five LengthsFor this project I used McCall’s 3341, which is a pattern for a-line skirts in five lengths with front and back darts, a back zipper closure, faced waistline, and a back slit (in the longer Versions A & B). I sewed the knee length version of the skirt (Version C). I chose McCall’s 3341 because it’s a classic skirt pattern that will never go out of style. I don’t care for elastic waistbands and prefer faced waistlines over waistbands because I think they are more comfortable to wear, are easier to sew and alter, and provide a better fit.

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A Warm Hat for the Winter

I sewed a roll brim hat out of a colorful anti pill fleece.

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Pattern Green Pepper F873
Fabric Anti-Pill Fleece
Difficulty Easy & Fast Sew

I have a larger than average head (23″ circumference) and I usually have to wear men’s hats (which are rather plain) or settle for hats that are tight and give me headaches when I force them on my head or that roll up and eventually fall off my head.

I sewed the Large and it fits great! This is the first hat I’ve ever sewn and it’s great to finally have a hat that fits!

This is also the first time I’ve ever sewn a Green Pepper pattern and the pattern instructions are just great! Sewing the hat was really fast and easy. I sewed it during commercial breaks of The Big Bang Theory reruns (love that show)…I imagine in total, it took less than an hour to get the hat completed.

I am most definitely going to sew more of these hats. I think I’ll make a reversible hat next (this will make the hat a lot warmer since I will almost be sewing two hats out of fleece and then sewing them together.

I also sewed a reversible neck warmer (also known as a neck gaiter) out of the same fleece as my hat and an army green fleece.

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    Since the gaiter was just a rectangle of fabric, I didn’t use any pattern to construct it.
  • I cut out two pieces of fleece that measured 10″ x 24″ (again, my head is bigger than the average woman’s head).
  • Then I placed each piece together (right sides facing each other), and sewed the long sides together, leaving the shorter edges open to turn.
  • Finally I sewed the shorter side together, using the common”bagging” technique that is used in a several of the more complicated patterns I’ve sewn, leaving about 1-1/2″ open to turn and then slipstitching this opening closed after I turned the material to conceal the seam and reveal the right sides of the material.

Two Paintings: An Eskimo Girl & Boy

Over the years my sister has found some of my mother’s paintings on eBay and bought them. Last night she found and purchased these lovelies, painted by my mom such a long time ago!

I am joyous and filled with many happy memories of my mother today.

Sewing a Lined Vest

I sewed a lined vest out of a wool boucle that I bought about 30 years ago. The pattern doesn’t include a lining, but since I was sewing the vest in a wool boucle, I also lined it with a colorful silky polyester. The pattern directions use bias fold tape to finish the armholes and includes pockets in the front seams, but the pockets were too small to be useful and they added too much bulk to the front of the vest so I omitted them.

Pattern:  Simplicity 1499 (view C)
Fabric: Wool Boucle (garment) & silky polyester (lining)
Needle/Foot:
Machine used: Kenmore

Vest1I’ve never added a lining to a garment before when the pattern did not include pattern pieces and instructions for doing so. I searched around the internet a bit to find some useful instructions about how to do it and read over some of my patterns that include lining directions. I took my time on this project because I wasn’t entirely sure about what I was doing and I wanted to have a nice outcome in the end.
To make the lining, I cut out the pattern pieces for the front, front side, and back of the vest, and sewed the lining up just as I had sewn the fabric for the body of the garment. Most of the instructions I found for adding a lining to a vest (or sleeveless dress) did not include any information about collars, so I wasn’t quite sure what the proper order should be to attach the lining to the garment. I figured out the proper order by trial and error. When I sewed a seam in the wool boucle, the seam threads disappeared into the fabric, which made it very tedious to pick out a seam if I sewed it in the wrong order, so I hand basted most of the seams, then checked to see if the order worked properly BEFORE I sewed the permanent seam. This took several iterations to figure out the best order.

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The order that worked was:

  1. Sew garment side and shoulder seams and collar into garment – I left the side seams unsewn. The pattern instructions directs the sewer to fold the collar piece in half and sew almost the entire collar together, leaving about 2 inches open to turn the collar and to sew it to the back of the garment. Since I was lining the garment, I only sewed the sides and back edge of the collar together and left the side of the collar that is sewed to the garment open. Then I turned the collar and sewed the collar to the back of the garment, matching the notches and center of the garment with those of the garment. I also sewed the tab and buttons on the back of the garment.
  2. Sew garment facing to matching lining pieces
  3. Sew the lining side and shoulder seams together (treating facing and lining as one piece of fabric) – since the garment facing was cut from the same front pattern piece, it was not necessary for me to also cut this front pattern piece in the lining fabric. If I make this vest again, I will only cut the lining fabric out of the side front and back pattern pieces and sew the lining side front fabric directly to the facing front fabric.
  4. Sew the lining and the garment together at the neck and front.
  5. Sew the lining and the garment together at the armholes
  6. Sew the lining and the garment together at the bottom
  7. Top stitch front, neck, collar edges and along the bottom.

Vest hemI trimmed about an inch off the length of the lining and pressed the vest so the fabric was folded up about 1/2 inch to the inside.

Pressing the seams as I sewed them was a bit tricky. The boucle was very thick so I couldn’t get a nice crisp press and I also didn’t want to flatten the boucle loft so I used a light hand when ironing. I also dampened a washcloth and placed that on top of my ironing board where I placed the fabric to press and I used an ironing cloth when I pressed any seam on the vest.

Understitching the armholes and the facing was also difficult to do given the bulk of boucle and the lining material. Since I knew I was going to top stitch most of the seams, I didn’t understitch the front facing or the armholes. Instead I pressed the seams carefully so that none of the lining fabric was showing on the outside of the garment and then I top stitched the most of the seams very slowly to make sure the lining was not showing.

I’m pleased with how well the vest turned out and am looking forward to wearing it this winter. I don’t have a need for many vests so I think this will be the only vest I make for myself this year, but I might make another one next year.

Linen Summer Dress

I sewed a cool, breezy trapeze dress for summer.

Pattern: New Look 6340 (view A)
Fabric: Linen/Rayon blend

The Linen/Rayon blend fabric I chose was perfect for this dress and was a pleasure to sew. I sewed View A of the pattern, but since I’ve never cared for back ties, I left them off.

P1000888I included the pleated pockets since I think they add an interesting detail to the dress. I cut out the longer view of the dress, but shortened the dress by 4 inches to the View B version when I hemmed it.

 

P1000887I like a clean inside as well as a nice looking outside of my garments and Linen frays easily, so I finished all the seams by turning under 1/8″ of the seam allowances and stitching along the edge of the fold. The inside of the dress is neat and looks almost as good as the outside, with no frayed edges on display anywhere on the dress.

Front of dress

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Back of dress

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Sewing summer skirts

I used Simplicity pattern 2609 to sew some cool skirts for the summer.

WP_000443jld skirt

I really like this pattern because it is very easy and quick to sew. The skirt fits great and worked well for me when I was losing weight. I also like it because even though it has an elastic yoked waistline, it doesn’t add any bulk to my figure, so I don’t feel like I look fat when I wear it.

When I first sewed the pattern, I was quite a bit heavier than I am now. At the time I  was losing weight, so I changed the order in which I sewed the seams on the pattern so I could make quick alterations to its size as I lost weight. As I lost weight, I only had to cut off the side seams so I could sew up a new smaller seamline, then take in the elastic waistline a bit and repair the hem where I cut the fabric. I’ve taken the skirt up 3 times and it’s probably time to take it up again, although it’s easy to just shorten the elastic in the waistline. (See Original & Now)

I can cut out the pattern and sew the skirt in about 4 hours. Because it is so easy to make, I have sewn the skirt 3 times already.

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I purchased a khaki linen blend fabric and plan to make a 4th skirt in the near future.

You can view some of my other sewing projects in my “I made it!” Flickr album.

#3 Let the Music Carry Me

Barber’s Adagio for Strings from The String Quartet, Opus 11

 

I listen to Barber’s Adagio for Strings from the String Quartet, Opus 11, and I am filled with longing for all the things I’ve lost in my life.

The violin bows pluck at my heart strings and my heart swells and swoons and catches in my throat. My eyes fill with tears as I fill my lungs with the joy of living. I close my eyes and let the music wash over me. Climbing high and higher, I soar and then dip down to the ground and then peace sweet peace washes over me like a whispered breath that blows through my soul and I am aloft again, soaring on the wings of eagles, rising higher and higher and then I feel the warm kiss of my Lord as he envelopes me in his loving arms and covers me with sweet kisses. I am filled with ecstasy and delight and my heart swells and feels as if it could burst! Oh, my Lord, come hold me and take me to those unforeseen reaches. And the music stops and my journey takes a somber turn and I am again filled with hopeful longing.

Take me up, and let me touch the skies. Oh, yes, take me higher and set my soul free to see you and be with you again. My face is wet with my tears of joy and longing and sorrow. Now softly hold me close and let me be one with your love.

 

Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini in A Minor, Opus 43, Variation XVIII

 

The piano begins, plucking the cords, I sway with the music like a tree sways in the breeze. I am in love and my lover holds me in his arms and we dance across the floor, twirling and twirling, and he looks into my eyes and smiles and I am enthralled. He is so tall and handsome and strong. Love is here and holds me and we merge and become one leaf floating along the melody. and the song plays on and we look into each other’s eyes and love.

 

Tchaikovsky’s Overture from the Nutcracker

 

I am a child at my first ballet. The music starts and I am filled with anticipation. I bounce my legs and move my head from side to side swaying with the music. The beautiful ladies dance across the stage and I become them. It is magic and I am beautiful, dancing and dancing, so graceful and beautiful. Twirling and twirling and so very dizzy that I stumble, recover myself and I’m twirling around and around and then up on my toes and I am a ballerina dancing across the stage so beautiful and graceful. There is magic in the air and every eye is on me as I dance around and around. I am warm and happy and life is pure and simple. I am wearing my red velvet dress, holding my wand and the music lifts me and carries me across the stage and I am twirling and dancing and jumping so gracefully across the stage. I am happy and free and I am eight years old again.