Overdoing it

The creative quilting bug hit hard on Monday and didn’t let go until yesterday afternoon. I worked almost non-stop on an idea for a lap quilt, and as a result I have completely wrecked myself! I don’t believe it! Both hands, wrists, forearms and my shoulders are weak as babies today and man oh man, do they ever ache! I’m afraid I’m going to be on the sewing sidelines for a while!

So….what in the world was so important? Two design roll of Free Spirit’s Wrenly by Valori Wells!

I had a great idea to make wonky log cabin blocks:

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And then I had the idea to make a couple of wonky houses and wonky hearts:

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And then I thought: how about sewing all the strips in a design roll together end to end…then find the center & cut in half and sew those two long strips together…then find the center & repeat & repeat & repeat?

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Oh, argh!   Now I have two little tiny quilts and some miscellaneous blocks  when what I really want is one comfy size lap quilt for snuggling under with a good book!

Hummm…..how about I cut up the strip quilt and use it as a border around the wonky log cabin blocks with some grey sashing in between?

Since I’m showing what I’ve been up to, I’ll just go ahead and empty out my on-going projects baskets and show you what else is on the go, eh? (these two baskets live in the living room where they valiantly try to contain everything I am currently working on. The rest of my WIPs live in the closet, away from prying eyes.)

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This is a garden-themed bow-tie quilt that I’ve been working on for more than a year.

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I decided that it wasn’t busy enough, so I’m sewing hexie flowers into the blank spaces. What was I thinking???

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And then Moda Bakeshop hosted a trifle dish-themed quilt sew along, and I just had to join in because I adore trifle – it’s my favourite dessert next to strawberry shortcake. Just calling the quilt a “trifle dish quilt” guaranteed my participation, lol!

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This is as far as I have gotten. There are 4 more rows to go.  I’m using up my little collection of 1930s reproduction prints.

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Also in the on-going projects basket is my Grandmother’s Flower Garden, which hasn’t progressed one inch since I posted this update here:

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And last but not least, today I am wearing another skirt that I sewed. I didn’t use a pattern…I just bought some stretchy material and measured around my waist, subtracted a couple of inches and sewed it into a tube. I hemmed the bottom with a zigzag stitch (and it made this really pretty lettuce leaf edge for some reason but I love it). I turned the waist over twice and then sewed a narrow seam around the top edge to hold it down. Voila! A skirt!

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Congratulations, you made it to the end of the post!

I am tired of talking about sewing. I think the next few posts will be non-sewing related, eh? Good.

Now I am going to go and have a cup of tea and piece of home-made sourdough toast (from bread that I made yesterday) because my wrists ache just from typing all this. Come over and join me if you can spare a minute!

Ta da! The Vintage New Look 6510 Shift Dress Part 2

This is a follow-up post on my second vintage New Look 6510 shift dress.

You can read all about part 1 HERE . And the original shift dress which I sewed out of a sheet and which turned out very nice is posted HERE.

Remember this problem?

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After much un-sewing and re-sewing and internet researching and head scratching…
may I have a Drum Roll Please! ……

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Ta Da!

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Yay! I made another shift dress!

It still didn’t turn out as nice as the first one I made, though. Why? I think that has to do with the fabric I used. This particular fabric is very flimsy and on the verge of unraveling at every step – in fact,  I might have to go back in and re-do the seams after a couple of washings. I think this pattern is better suited to fabric with more body, like the bed sheet I used for the last one. But that’s okay. I only paid $3.00 for this piece of fabric from the thrift store, so it made good practice material.

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Remember this problem from the last post? 010

To fix it, I unpicked & removed the bias tape, raised the shoulders about 2 inches and then re-attached the tape. Then I unpicked the side seams and the bust darts and moved them down.

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Thank goodness the print is so busy because I did not get the bust darts even. One is much lower than the other. More unpicking may ensue…depends on whether or not it affects my comfort wearing it. Because I don’t think it’s noticeable unless you’re really hunting for it. And if anyone is going to be staring that hard at my chest, than they deserve the reward of finding the bad job!

I also unpicked and removed the bias tape on the neckline, and added a facing. The fabric is so flimsy that I feared it would go all wonky after a few wearings. I then sewed the bias tape pack on again (for decoration.) I also added a funky retro button from my button jar.

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Remember this problem from the last post?
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To fix it,  I sewed darts over the shoulder blades to help take in some of the gaping in the neck. It still gapes, but I’m okay with that.

Well…no, I’m not, actually. But I don’t know what else I can do about it at this point. And besides, when my hair is down you won’t be able to see it. Right?

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Remember the bunching at the back? Well, I fixed that by sewing fish-eye darts down either side of the back seam. YES! FISH EYE DARTS!!! I consulted the Google-gods about what to do about the excess fabric pooling at my lower back and fish-eye darts was the answer I was given. (Fish eye darts are vertical tear-drop shaped darts. So why don’t they call them tear-drop darts?) Amazing!

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Lalala! I am feeling so clever!

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So there you go. It isn’t perfect. But it’s light and airy and I think I am presentable enough to run into town or to the grocery store in it.

And it is a very thrifty dress, costing me a total of $3.25 to make.

What did I learn?

  • Sitting with the seam ripper and unpicking seam after seam can actually be a kind of peaceful zen experience.
  • Darts are marvelous things if you put them in right.
  • I need to learn how to adjust the tissue pattern before I cut out my fabric.
  • I really like shift dresses, but I need to find a better designed pattern.
  • I am ready to move on to something a little more complicated than just sewing a front piece and a back piece together (though you wouldn’t know it judging by the trouble I’ve had!)
  • I can learn to do anything!

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I think I’m finished with the New Look 6510, though. Too much fiddling and in two attempts it still has major problems. Time to move on to something else!

Or….maybe I will be stubborn and MAKE THIS PATTERN WORK on one more, last attempt!

What would you do?

another stab at the shift dress: WTF?

Welcome to my adventures in sewing-a-dress-land!

Riding high on my success with the last dress, I decided to make the vintage New Look 6510 again, but hopefully without all the mistakes I made the first time. Remember I had cut it too big and then had to take in all my seams? This time I cut the size 16 instead of the size 18 to save myself the trouble of sewing all the seams twice. (’cause I’m such a smart cookie!)

Riding high on an excess of self-confidence, I decided to not only finish the seams, but to also try a new technique: edging with bias binding (because I had so obviously successfully mastered neck and armhole facings, sigh.) I went ahead and bound all the edges with double-fold bias tape before trying the dress on!!!!  Eee gads, here I am actually admitting that to you!

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Of course, I then discovered a few things…

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Discovery #1:
The dress obviously does not fit me at all! I feel like I am wearing my grandmother’s oldest apron!

Discovery #2:
The pattern does not match my body! My shoulders are too sloped. My back is too narrow. (no wait! Actually, my shoulders and my back are perfect. The pattern is wrong. There! That’s said better!).  The pattern does work better width-wise (a bit loose so I could probably cut the 14 instead of the 16 next time, but it’s very hot outside and I want this dress to be light and airy and non-constricting.) And I am a sort of an apple shape…so extra fabric in the tummy area is a good thing.

Discovery #3
The pattern appears to be designed for someone with a much longer torso than I have. I need to cut the shoulder height down by at least 2 inches! (Hummmm…..maybe this is where that lengthen/shorten marking on the tissue pattern comes in…I will have to investigate that for try #3)
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Discovery #4:
The bust darts are still too high! So that means they are too high on the pattern itself, and the problem I had last time wasn’t my fault after all! Yay!

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Look at the gaping in the back neck!
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These arm holes are waaaay to big!
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I graded and sewed in the side seams to bring in the arm holes, but then discovered that that made the bust too tight.  Argh. Much unpicking ensued.

I am going to unpick the side seams around the bust darts and the darts themselves and then reposition them. Then I am going to draw the correct position onto the tissue pattern so I don’t have to go through this again. Because I actually like this dress. Or I will, anyway.

I am going to unpick and completely remove the bias binding around the armholes, raise the shoulders, and then replace the bias binding. Because I like the look of it with the contrast edging.

I am going to make back darts to take up some of the extra fabric around the shoulder blade area if raising the shoulders alone isn’t adequate.

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I don’t know what to do about the bunching around the lower back. I’ll see what the dress looks like after I’ve done all the above. And then, when I am all done, I will hem. At least I did something right (in that I didn’t hem it first, lol! Because I considered it!)

All I can say is WTF? This dress does not look anything like my last effort…

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Not yet, anyway. Stay tuned!

Vintage New Look 6510 Shift Dress

I made a shift dress!

014This is the first dress that I have sewn in over 20 years and I am VERY pleased with myself! I used this pattern that I bought at the Thrift Store for 25 cents (don’t ya just love it?)

001It looks so cool and summery, don’t you agree?

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I wasn’t sure about the sizing.  Different pattern companies add differing amounts of ease into the patterns and you never know how much there is going to be until you start sewing. According to the measurements on the back, I decided to cut out a size 18.

And then because I was scared it would still be too small, I only used a 1/4 inch seam allowance. So of course, it was too big. I swam in it! I started sewing in the seams until it fit. That was a really backwards way to sew a dress, eh?

dI forgot about raising the darts, though! I sewed in all the seams, but forgot that the bust darts would need to be moved, too.  I didn’t notice until I saw this picture:

022Do you see those darts way up there above my boobs? So I unpicked the side seams and the bust darts and moved them down. Much better, don’t you agree?

cI also didn’t adjust the neckline. When I raised the shoulder seams, not only did I raise those pesky bust darts, I also raised the neckline. Next time I make the dress, it will have a deeper scoop.

030I raided my button jar (read about the button jar here) to find just the right closure for the back.

aThe VERY best thing about this dress is that I sewed it out of a bed sheet. Yup. A sheet that I bought at the thrift store for 1 dollar. (Oh, I am so clever!) Cost of entire outfit: $1.25!

What I learned sewing this dress:

1. Try it on as you go along
2. Use lots of pins. LOTS.
3. Sewing is boring for dogs.
4. If you are matching a border print hem, start your seam at the bottom!!!
5. Think about what you are doing the whole entire time you are doing it.
6. Did I mention that sewing is boring for dogs?

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Garden Tour

It’s too hot to sew. It’s too hot to dig in the garden. It’s too hot to go for a walk. How about a garden tour? That will cool us off!

008I know some of my Whitehorse friends have been dying to see what I’m growing down here.

010My new yard here in the Shuswap isn’t very big.

022It’s pretty tiny, actually.

021Over the spring I was busy digging a border and filling it up with perennials.

005Some plants were already there. I didn’t know what a lot of them were and probably pulled out a few before I found out they weren’t actually weeds…

004Does anybody know what this blue flower is? It isn’t morning glory.

017018At the far end of the yard there is a small vegetable box. Mr. C is going to built me another. I also planted three blueberry bushes and a sickly rhubarb that the neighbor passed along (and is looking much better already). Everything will grow up nice and big over time.

012I put raspberries under the deck overhang.

014015And vegetables wherever I can fit them in.

019Bush beans are in the planter at the front of the yard. Please excuse Samson, he is giving me the stink eye because he didn’t feel like posing.

002There was this funny oval in the middle of the yard with nothing growing in it but weeds and one scraggly rose bush. So I filled it up with strawberry plants, tomatoes, chives and bell peppers. (oh yes, and marigolds)

016There are lots and lots of daisies along the driveway (which are my very favourite) that were here already.

007020Here is one thing that I almost pulled out this spring. I’m awfully glad I didn’t…it is a hollyhock and already taller than I am!

003Of course I put in lots of shrub roses. Rosa Rugosa, in honour of us being from the Yukon, you know!

006I hardly bought any annuals at all. Just these to decorate the front gate.

023So that’s us. How’s your garden growing?

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Thrifty Retirement Living: how we saved $1,800!

One of the challenges of early retirement is learning to live within a (smaller than we were used to) fixed income.  There isn’t a lot of wiggle room, and making a big purchase means the money has to come out of our investment savings. That’s okay… we’ve built in a buffer to cover the occasional larger expenditure. After all, houses do need occasional maintenance and repair. Appliances will eventually fail and need to be replaced. And, lets admit it, once in a while we’ll want to take a bigger vacation than simply traveling around the province in our camper. But when the possibility of a large expense comes up, we need to do a lot of research on it first. We can’t just order it and be done.

033What “came up” was the hot summer weather versus the smoked glass ceiling on our covered deck!  27º in the yard sends temperatures on the deck soaring towards 40° (that’s pushing 100° for you Fahrenheit friends.) Unlivable. And it was heating the rest of the house up something terrible, as well!

035Enter the need for a sunshade. Mr C went on-line and found a variety of sunshades. The cheapest he could come up with that would cover the entire deck was going to cost us $1,700. With tax & gas, that comes to $1,870+.

But wait! I had been at the thrift shop just the day before and purchased a couple of large, light grey sheets that I thought I could use for quilt backings or to work out the kinks on a dress pattern with. 034Sunshade cost breakdown (drum roll, please!)

Two thrift store sheets: $2.00
one roll of clothesline: $4.00
assorted hardware: $2.00
TOTAL SUNSHADE: $8.00

Money saved: $1,862. One thousand, eight hundred and sixty two dollars, folks!

We were back out on the deck eating supper and enjoying a nice glass of chilled white wine that very evening.

036Boo-ya!

Moved to tears by the Ural University Choir

Here is something about me that I bet you didn’t know: I love choral music. LOVE it.

Did you know about Kathaumixw? Kathaumixw is an International Choral  Festival in Powell River, British  Columbia.

800-GreatHallChoirs come from all over the world to participate!

And here is something wonderful: every second year, the First United Church in Salmon Arm brings one of the visiting choirs here to perform for us.

This year the Academic Students’ Choir of the Ural Federal University in Russia traveled up to perform for us. These young people are Engineering students at the Ural Federal University. They are not music students (thought maybe they should be).

Academic Students choir of the Ural Federal UniversityThe choir opened with O Canada and I immediately burst into tears. Not because I am patriotic (I am), but because these young people had taken the trouble to learn it. And oh, I have never heard O Canada sung like that. The harmonies! You would have cried, too.

Honestly, I cried throughout the entire first set. At the end of it, my face was crusty with the salt tracks of my tears.

choirIf I had been alone, I would have sobbed out loud when, at one point, the choir moved out of their formation and encircled the audience, singing a South African hymn with hands raised. We were surrounded by music, gathered in, lifted up. It was, quite literally, awesome.

Awesome: inspiring an overwhelming feeling of reverence or admiration; causing or inducing awe.

(…and by the way, what word do we have to replace Awesome with now that it  has been devalued into a trite slang term? What do we say when something moves us emotionally? How do we label an experience that so much bigger/greater/stupendous than ourselves?)

Anyway, for the record, I want to say that listening to the choral performance and watching the conductor, Svetlana Dolnikovskaya, moved me to tears and filled me with a sense of joy and awe.

Here is one of their European performances that I found on YouTube to share with you. Close your eyes and relax. Listen and enjoy!

I wish you had been there. You would have been moved to tears, too.