November 2019 Summary

November has flown by with nary much to show in the creative outlet field but quite a busy month still.  Of course my handmade garments have been worn each day.  ;)
outfit info
The Fitness Journey.  As you guys know well by now, I've been seriously ill since March and my lungs are recovering..... still.  They are so much better, but still recovering.  I joined my local YMCA (a gym for those who may not know) end of September and that decision has been one of the very best I've made.  Exercising, eating properly and learning about women's fitness over 50 has become my new 'hobby' and one I want to continue for the rest of my life.  I need this..... we all need these healthy lifestyle components no matter how old or young we are... it's just even more important as we women age.  So because I am going to the Y most days, it's becoming clear my exercise outfits could use improvement.  These leggings were bugging me, below left.... they felt awkward and I hated wearing them.  Couldn't figure out what was wrong until came up with the thought that maybe it was the length... so right, below, was a less than 30 minute improvement of cutting off to capri length.  Love them and wear them constantly now.  Sometimes it's the little things, right?!
Outfit Info
The Y is outfitted, not only with cardio machines, but with all sorts of weight resistance and strength training machines which is so important for our bone health.  Below, is the hip abduction/adduction machine of which I had to take a photo this day to show I am moving 95 lbs. which has never happened before.  It was a huge step showing how much stronger my legs are getting.  After all the illness, which meant not a lot of moving, my muscle mass has weakened and honestly is not really there, which meant in my legs, there wasn't enough structure to hold the weight off my knees..... so my knees have been killing me, making walking and getting up from a chair difficult.  Building up my muscles has been a slow process, and it's a thrill to see improvement in not only how my body is able to handle the machines, but also in simply walking and getting about.   I've considered cutting these colorful leggings off to capri length too.... but for now am leaving them long. 
Outfit Info
November saw the first of bitterly cold weather move in.  We went from 10 degrees above normal, to 10 degrees below normal in one day.  Bundled up well this day to walk my pup that is also part of my daily healthy lifestyle routine.  This Shetland Scarf was knitted a few years ago and I still love to wear it, particularly with the sherpa coat.... though this coat pattern seriously needs pockets.  Oh, instead of tying a doggie bag to Susie's leash for ease in picking up her waste, I made a little bag that clips to her leash that holds a couple of the bags.  So much nicer and easier too.  That's the tan/brown/rust round bag you see below.
outfit info
I have the great good fortune to live about 5 minutes away from a wonderful WalMart that still carries patterns and fabrics, so this day had a lot of fun looking at the $2.97 patterns in the kiosk.  Way back when, WalMart used to carry the NewLook patterns for $2.97, so thought it was interesting they've switched to McCall's, calling them 'It's Sew Simple'.... breaking out patterns from the regular McCall's patterns to re-package in this more inexpensive alternative.  Love this idea!  Anyway..... what caught my eye this day, were that these two patterns below are exactly the same.  Different cover photos, different pattern numbers..... but exactly the same.  I bought the one to the left......
......and while cutting out the pattern, realized how odd it felt.  After all the time spent tracing Ottobre and Burda patterns..... it almost felt like I was doing something 'wrong' cutting out this tissue paper pattern.  But oh how quick and easy!!!  A huge timesaver!!  Got as far as cutting out the leggings in black knit..... and that's where they sit.  Got to get them sewn up to see if they will be wearable for exercising.
And then the weather warmed back up to be able to wear one of my new unblogged tops.  This is the free pattern Kirsten Kimono Tee by Maria Denmark.  Shared this photo below on Instagram wondering if it looked like an 'old lady top'.  Fabric from Joann Fabrics, and it's definitely not the fabric's fault as it's a beautiful color and oh-so-soft and comfy knit.  But still.....  note to self..... pay more attention in considering fabric from bolt to garment.
outfit info
Another warm and mild day wearing my all-time favorite t-shirt pattern NewLook 6735.  Had an epiphany of sorts this morning deciding to wear it to the Y to work out in and it handled the workout well.  This cute top has not been worn much because it's been sort of 'saved' to wear as a 'good' t-shirt.  Do you do that?  Save your 'nice' things and then they never get worn or used?!  I need to wear it.  Period.  But first cookies.....
outfit info
..... 6 dozen homemade sugar cookies.  My daughter Melissa, teaches 2nd grade and was hosting a Grandparent's Day for her classroom and kindly asked if I could bake cookies as one of her treats.  Oh yes!!! Absolutely I said!!!  Sugar Cookies were chosen as some of the kids have peanut allergies.  A couple of kids have chocolate issues, so half the recipe included M&Ms and the other half colored sugars.  Honestly.... the colored sugars were the best!  She had a great turnout and the kids loved the homemade cookies.  On their own initiative, they wanted to 'thank me'.  Oh my heart!!!  Sort of wonder if homemade goodies are being replaced by Deli/Grocery store bakery department versions.  Anyway, I'll post the recipe I used below that are more like a shortbread sugar cookie and taste best with some kind of addition like colored sugars, M&Ms or my real favorite Buttercream Icing.  ;)
                          Sugar Cookies

      • 2 eggs
      • 2/3 cups shortening (I use Crisco)
      • 2/3 cup butter (I use unsalted butter)
      • 1 1/2 cups sugar
      • 3 1/2 cups flour
      • 2 tsp baking powder
      • 1 tsp salt
      • 2 tsp vanilla
      • Bake 10 - 12 minutes at 375 degrees F

Grocery shopping and errand day still trying to get used to this high-low hem, below.  Super comfortable though....
outfit info
Melissa needed to bring a fruit platter to her school's faculty luncheon, and wanting to do something special, found a Turkey Fruit Platter photo on Pinterest for inspiration.  Below is her completed Turkey Fruit Platter and may I say..... IT WAS AWESOME!!  It was a 'memory making' project for the two of us, and quite rewarding as she received lots of lovely compliments from the staff.  She is a first year teacher and wanted to make a good impression.  Body is a cantaloupe, head is a pear and 'feathers' are cantaloupe, mango, green grapes, kiwi, strawberry, raspberry, red grape, blueberry and blackberry.  A glorious abundance of fruit.
More mild, warm November days followed and it was nice to layer a Nancy Zieman sleeveless top, with an Ottobre cardi and pants......
outfit info
.....and make Turkey treats for Melissa's students.  She wanted to give them a cute and fun treat the last day before Thanksgiving break, and found another Pinterest inspired project.   She ran out of time, but had saved the photo to her Pinterest board, so I was able to go in and not only 'see' what she wanted, but the photo lead to a tutorial.  Thank goodness!  The instructions can be found here.  Another run to WalMart to get pipe cleaners, tulle and googly eyes and 20 Turkey M&M treats later.....!  Those who have chocolate issues were made with Skittles.    Surprisingly the pipe cleaners are simply stuck in the tulle, actually stayed in there pretty well....... at least until she gave them out.... then, when in the kids' hands..... turkey heads and legs were falling out all over the place.  As an aside, may I say Pinterest is exhausting!!  ;)
To celebrate the beginning of her Thanksgiving break, she and I went out to eat and I wore the outfit you see below.  My sewing space looks like work is being done there..... Ha!..... need to get back to it.....
outfit info
Now back to the photo beginning this post, it was fun to pair the Alabama Chanin skirt with the Burda wrap top..... kind of like Alabama meets Germany..... as Christmas decorating began.
outfit info
Hoping to be more productive in December as I need new clothes desperately.  Thinking I'll focus on exercise things first as that is such a big part of my life now.  The Y is close to my home, so I try to get there most days and it'd be nice to have cute tops and more leggings to choose from to wear.  December usually bring consistently cooler weather our way, and it'd also be nice to have more winter type tops.  So that's sort of the sewing list thoughts..... just need to find the sewjo.  Meanwhile, hope all had a lovely November.

Happy Sewing All!!!   :)


Vintage Simplicity Pattern 5882 Boxy Jacket and Pencil Skirt | Friends. Friendships.

Friends.  Friendships.  Through the global world of 'Social Media' we are exposed to a variety of people from all walks of life, of which much has been written about the pros and cons of such.... with my little Social Media world connecting me to others creating 'friendships' bonded by our simple love of sewing and making..... that's a great big benefit in my life.  No cons here!
 Mary @pdxsquared on Instagram, and I couldn't be any more different.  She is tall and lovely at 6', (I top out at 5'7"), loves to refashion all things, particularly garments picked up at thrift stores and turned into new garments, photo below.  She teaches sewing classes/mending/refashions at a women's shelter, sews all things boxy, adores Ottobre patterns (we have this in common!) and enjoys sharing photos of her vast vintage pattern collection on IG, of which I have a meager few.  She lives in the Pacific Northwest in the United States located on the other side of the country from my southern east coast South Carolina, but through Instagram we've 'known' and followed each other for years creating a sweet bond through the love of our common hobby.
Sometime October 2018, Mary posted a photo of her vintage pattern Simplicity 5882 and spoke of how she wished she could be a size 14 (bust 34) to sew the pattern and how she loved the jacket especially, but would never be making it.  I loved the pattern and commented that I was a size 14 and would she consider allowing me to purchase this lovely pattern.  Her immediate reply was to send it to me as a gift, with her joy to simply see it made.  She included the loveliest of handwritten notes and some labels along with the pattern in her beautifully packaged parcel, below.  So sweet and so special it was decided that this outfit would be my Easter 2019 outfit, as well as 'the special outfit' to wear to my daughter's graduation in May.
And then my life turned upside down.  The skirt was completed in March a few days before the great illness hit.  I lost 6 pounds in the first 3 days and by the time it was all said and done, lost so much weight, coupled with a huge shift in my body shape that the skirt actually could not be held up.  It fell down my hips.  I've lost my notes on the jacket but think it was completed around the same time and it swamped my now very thin, frail frame.  Unwearable.  Completely.
Until today.  8 months later..... needing to run some errands in town, looking at this beautiful jacket hanging on my dress form all this time.... thought how that would be a perfect Fall outfit to wear this day and wondered what it might look like on me now that I've gained most of the weight back.  It fit!  And fit perfectly!!!  Oh Happy Day!  That's why there's such a big smile in the first photo above.  :)
The pattern envelope is dated 1965 and describes the skirt and jacket as:  "Dart fitted skirt has waistband and side zipper closing..... Lined jacket has below elbow length two-piece raglan sleeves, collar and top-stitching trim".  I was also thinking about making the sleeveless top with tie too, but with buttons down the back, thought it might not be too practical to get on and off.  ;)
In this photo below you can see a little better the shape of the jacket against the skirt.  Honestly the jacket still feels a little large on me and I may make a few tweaks in the shoulders and sleeve hems before wearing it again.  Also a first for me was putting in this type of collar.  It wasn't perfect.... but it wasn't too bad and I learned a new skill.
The pattern instructions have you line the jacket, but I chose to bind all seams in the hong kong method with the armscye seams enclosed seam binding.  All the bias tape was made out of some lovely ivory bemberg type satin from the stash.  Almost a silk feel.
The jacket fabric is upholstery fabric purchased from my local only-open-once-a-month textile outfit.  It was washed and dried before cutting out and laundered beautifully.  From the pattern envelope I thought the sleeves would be a closer fit.... and a little shorter.....
....with the overall jacket length shorter too.  See the bulkiness in the shoulder areas.  Thinking I might redo that part..... but also the overall largeness of the sleeves can be seen here too, below.  Weird.  I know it was a boxy jacket, but thought it'd be a closer fitting boxy jacket of sorts.  I did not top-stitch anything as I didn't want to potentially mess anything up by getting off kilter with top-stitching.  I do like the jacket, but am not sold on the fit for me.
The Skirt.  I LOVE this skirt!!!  This is the perfect skirt for my body shape and it WILL be made again.  With pockets added.  There are no pockets here.....
but there are 8 darts..... 4 in the front.....
.....and 4 longer ones in the back and it gives this pencil skirt the best shape.... though to tell you the truth, these are so long it gave me pause during construction as I was concerned it'd be too tight.  Those 1950's - early 1960's women's shapes were oh-so-small back then but no worries, perfect fit for me after I adjusted all seam allowances to a mere 1/4" after cutting everything out at a 5/8" s.a.
Speaking of the darts..... I learned a new-to-me technique that has continued in my sewing skillset with finishing off a dart by stitching the dart tail inside the completed dartline.  This is a Nancy Zieman technique...
.....and I wrote more about it and included a little video clip here.  Super easy and fast with no hand-tying threads to lock your seam.
Before I cut this skirt out, I compared the pattern pieces to a recent Burda Skirt I'd made with the fit I liked. Burda Skirt 02/2017 #117 is a very similar fitting skirt, below.
Below, the Burda Skirt pieces are on top and it gave me confidence to sort of feel like I was handling 'fit' before cutting anything out.  There were no adjustments made to this vintage skirt other than shortening the length and re-stitching at a 1/4" seam allowance.  When I make it again, I may shave a little off the hips area as I'm a little more slimmer there.  You can see the biggest difference in the two patterns in the back pattern piece underneath the pattern envelope below.
As you can tell by all the wrinkles, the skirt's fabric is 100% linen and was purchased years ago when we had a Hancock's Fabric Store in town.  It is also fully lined with Bemberg lining fabric and a side invisible zip.  I may shorten the skirt a little more at some time as the length felt a little 'frumpy-ish' today.  Wearing it with the old Ottobre 100% linen top that I still love and wear.
And ya' know what.... when I put everything on this morning.... I swear I could feel Mary giving me a big hug......
....and I will think of her, and sweet social media friendships, every time it is worn.
Happy Sewing All!


'Down the Rabbit Hole' and more of October 2019

October flew by and until I began to put together this post, thinking there wouldn't be much to share, I was surprised at how much happened this month.  October is my youngest daughter's birthday, and this year she turned 27 years old and her one and only request was for me to take her to our local museum's special Alice in Wonderland exhibit called 'Down the Rabbit Hole'.  And what a fun day it was!  With a lovely display of original artwork, the main exhibit room held costumes and paraphernalia from Tim Burton's movies starring Johnny Depp.
Because this is a sewing blog after all, we'll focus mostly on the textiles.  The attention to detail was stunning.
Alice's chain mail was actually woven ribbons.  Very cool.
The Queen of Hearts costume was interesting.....
..... as was the White Queen's....
..... and Alice's gown that she 'grew out of'.....
..... but it was this one..... one of Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter's outfit that truly caught my eye and my attention.
There was interesting details at every glance.... different buttons..... the thread sash.... scissor holder....
..... ribbons at the ready.... but it was the way the costumer 'made' the fabric for his coat that was fascinating.  Distressed, yet perfectly tailored.
The beautiful shirt with triple top-stitching tied with a silk tie.  Each detail unique and different.... yet pulled together a perfectly cohesive outfit and garment.
Cheshire Cat greeted you as you walked in.  Our museum had even built in different sized doors and 'rooms' for you to open and have an Alice experience.  This yellow door was for the larger Alice experience....
...while this small door was for the smaller Alice.
The exhibit hall displayed many of the original artworks from the different popular publications, as well as information about both the author and the different illustrators through the years.  And here I'll introduce to you my second Ottobre modified sheath dress..... it has pockets..... yay!!!
Made of quilting cotton from my local only-open-once-a-month-textile outlet.... lined with bemberg lining fabric from Joann's..... finally, a true t-n-t- dress pattern customized for me, wearable, compliments my body shape and is super comfortable to move in.  Oh, and pockets..... did I mention it has pockets?! A true winner!!

Our local museum includes the history of our town with brick and mortar shop facades, built like this one below, and I had a little fun 'meeting' Mr. McBee.... a merchant and town leader from long ago.  Wearing a rtw cardi with the dress, below, but have an accompanying Ottobre jacket in the works.
Had to take a selfie with the birthday girl and of course the Cheshire Cat.  ;)
One is never too old to love foxes and cute kitty cats, right?!  So it was a new comfy outfit and extra pair of comfy shorts for the birthday girl.  Both shorts are McCall's 4979 shortened to 'shorts' and the top was NewLook 6230.  First time I've made this top, and of course made it and only THEN checked the reviews at Pattern Review.  *sigh* And yes, the top's neckline finished a little wide and large.  But it's a comfy top..... and ya' know..... foxes... and the secret making was successfully kept secret, so all's good.  Fox and pink kitty knit fabric came from Joann's.... gray knit came from Hobby Lobby.
New patterns were purchased during the $5.00 sale at Joann's this month.  The Sandra Betzina's 'Today's Fit' Vogue 1630 pants are already in the planning stage.   I did not renew my Burda subscription this year because I have 3 years of subscriptions containing a treasure trove of patterns I'd like to explore, as well as wanting to make outfits from Vogue and the other more traditional pattern companies.
Been working on the Ottobre jacket to accompany the sheath dress shown earlier.  Super simple, have made it before..... no excuse why it is languishing. *sigh* Anyway, here I'm sewing the flat felled seams with my felling foot.... but it also has hong kong seams, enclosed seams with binding as well as serged seams.  A sampler of seams of sorts?!
Joined my local YMCA the end of September and try to exercise there most days.  The exercising forces me to breathe deep..... 'exercising' my lungs so to speak.  Upping the daily protein I eat, as well as my water intake, coupled with the exercising has helped my lungs improve significantly.  Who knew October was 'Healthy Lung Month'?!....
.....then, be still my heart, to find out my local Y gives out fresh popped popcorn on Fridays!  My life is complete!!  Photo below also showing the Ottobre leggings made last year. 
Mid-month went to the South Carolina State Fair with a friend to look at the textiles.... and found ourselves immersed in the baked goods.
Sweet time is regularly spent with an elderly lady who invites me to her little wood cottage, nestled beyond those trees to the right, as you take the gentle bend around her lovely quiet, still pond filled with wild ducks and the occasional white heron, below.  She is a master pianist and we 'play' together.  More importantly, we laugh while eating chocolate and drink bold-brewed coffee.  She is a delight, a precious treasure to me.
Most of October has seen record high temps, and with the 95 degree + heat comes poor air quality.  With my poor lungs still on the mend, it limits time spent outdoors so I've been experimenting with how to set up photos inside.  Still getting used to my hair.  With over half fallen out in June/July, I am over-the-top HAPPY to see it is growing back!!!  My head is full of 'fuzzies'..... some a mere 1/4" and some 1+".  Also noticing the texture is returning more to what it used to be.  Thinking the added protein in my diet is probably helping there too.  I have to pause and say I am so blessed, as I realize that with some folks, the hair never returns.  Wearing the Ottobre sweater cardi, Burda wrap top, and old Ottobre pants, below.
What better way to close out the spooky month, than by holding a couple of cute ghosts wearing NewLook 6292 with a still unblogged self-drafted pair of leggings.
This was fun pulling together a month's summary instead of boring you with a little snippet here and a little snippet there.  I may write in this format more often in the future, though continue to write individual specific posts about makes that are new to you, the reader.  As I'm beginning to tweak my tried-n-true patterns and make the same patterns over and over again, I worry about boring you guys to death.  Need to find my sewing motivation as it's been a little lagging lately and I desperately need new clothes.  So probably expect to see more pants, tops and jackets in the near future.  Oh and exercise clothing as exercising is at the top of my priority list now.  Now where's that little Ottobre jacket that needs finishing.....

 Happy Sewing All!!  :)