Ode To My White Pants

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Oh white work pants, oh white work pants,
Oh how I love you so!
I wish you would last forever,
But then I’d have nothing to sew!
Oh white work pants, oh white work pants,
I will miss you so!

Each year as Labor Day draws near, I weep. Besides the end of summer, Labor Day means it is time to return my beloved white pants to their rightful spot in the closet for another winter season. And as this Labor Day approaches, I weep even more for this is the last year I will wear this particular pair of white pants. They have been a tried and true friend for many a summer now, but they are starting to show their age and it is now time for them to go to the old clothes heaven in the sky. Or maybe just goodwill.

Some 15 years ago, I decided that my wardrobe needed some white pants. Now, I am very particular about the fabric that I use to make my pants with. Not just any old white fabric would work for these pants. I wanted them made in white denim. And it had to be “white” denim, not cream or egg shell, or an off white color. Also it could not have too much lycra in it. And it had to be strong enough to withstand the day to day wear and tear of work, but still not be stiff and heavy. It had to wash easily and well, because as you know white attracts everything. It had to be thick enough not to show any unmentionables that may be worn under it, but not so thick that it wouldn’t breath well on the hot summer days. After a great deal of shopping, I found my white denim fabric.

Basic_Baggy_White_Chef_Pants_11I washed and dried my white denim fabric throughly as I knew it would shrink. Using my good old pants sloper pattern, I made my white pants. And they were a dream! I loved them the first day I wore them. I felt and looked good in them.

After the first summer of wearing my white pants, I carefully cleaned them, and put them away to wear again the next year. Each Memorial Day, I pulled my precious white pants from the closet and wore them every chance I got through the summer months until Labor Day, when they again returned to their winter home safe in my closet.

After a couple of years, on one particular Memorial Day, I pulled the white pants from their resting place, only to find that the winter had been especially harsh to me. My lovely white pants no longer fit so well. Due to a little weight gain, the pants legs were now too high off the ground and were high waters. I let the healthy hem they had out and re-hemmed them with the shortest hem I could. The new hem was only about 1/4 inch, but this new hem allowed me to wear my white pants for that year.

4102_10914_Khakicargo_frontOver the years as my weight has waxed and waned, my white pants have hung in there. Some years they fit better than other years but I could always wear them each summer. On the years that I was waxing, I refused to dry my white pants in the dryer and often accused the husband of washing them in hot water. On the waning years, I did not pay as much attention to how they were laundered. I wore them through thick and thin.

As I have worn my gorgeous white pants this summer season, I have noticed that they are showing signs of wear. I was truly saddened by this but what could I have expected after 15 or so years of wear? The tiny hem they have is fraying. The white denim is thinning especially in the seat area from friction wear and the seams are starting to split out.

Throughout the summer, I have mended them several times, hoping that they will make it just one more day, and bless them, they have. I have worn them faithfully all summer long. But as I washed them for the last time this summer, I see that images-3it is time for them to be retired. There is no need on packing them away for another 9 months until next summer. They will not make it through another season. It is finally time to let them go.

Luckily, I am a fabriholic. When I found this perfect piece of white denim and turned it into such fabulous pants so many years ago, I quickly returned to the fabric store and bought enough for a few more pairs of pants. This fabric has been hiding out in the stash ever since then just patiently awaiting its turn to be my next beloved pair of white pants.

Now, I have my work cut out for me. I have just one short winter to get another pair of perfect white pants made before next summer arrives!

Wish me luck!

Until next time, sew forth and white pant on!

Am I Too Old (For This)

DSCN0389I have been totally enjoying the sewing process of making some little girls dresses and bubble tops and I decided that I wanted to make more, so I pulled some more fabric from the stash. The pieces that I picked to make the next little girls project were a green and white cotton fabric and a green with lady bugs print cotton fabric. These two pieces of fabric looked good together and I could see either a dress or a bubble top easily made from this fabric combination.

But as the fabric sat on the cutting table, I started to wonder to myself if I should make myself a shirt from this fabric instead of another little girls project. In the next moment I wondered to myself, “But am I am too old to wear a green shirt with lady bugs on it?”

“Bah! Who cares! Surely not me!” I said to myself.

Besides, I really like the fabrics and it is time to make me another collared camp shirt from my altered sloper pattern to test the fit. So could I make this shirt from this fabric combination? Yes I could! There was plenty of fabric to make it with. But would I wear this combination once I had the shirt made? Yes I would! Now how about if I put a cute picnic watermelon ant embroidery design on it? Would I still wear it then? Yes I still would! So I decided to get started on it right away!

DSCN0391I cut out the fabric using my newly altered collared camp shirt sloper pattern and got started sewing it together. It sewed together nicely and soon enough I had a fun summer shirt all ready to wear. Sewing this shirt was not the problem. Wearing this shirt was. And not because of the lady bugs or the ant.

After I completed the sewing of this shirt, I pulled it on and noticed right away that the fit was not right. The shoulder seams did not want to sit square on my shoulders and the front of the shirt kept shifting back like it wanted to choke me. I had to keep pulling the front of the shirt down. On the back of the shirt, there are pull line from the armscye to the collar.

DARN! Where had I gone wrong?

These were the same alterations to the pattern that I did for the last shirt I had made, the blue shirt with the white sleeves. And I had wore that shirt and except for the depth of the armscye it all seemed to be good. I pulled the blue and white shirt on again and wore it around the house for a little while only to learn that it too suffered from the same issues. I realized then that I had only wore this shirt to work, under my jacket, and that it was my work jacket that had been keeping the front down. So, I now had to figure out what the alteration problems were and how to fix it.

IMG_0238 - Version 2It did not take long before I figured out that the back where the collar attaches was cut too deeply. And I was depressed that I had two shirts with the same problem and had not caught the problem before making the second shirt. I don’t really know if raising the back will fix the issue but it seems that by raising the collar, and not having it drop so far down my back will help.

Ok, so I think I have figured out what the alteration problems are. Now can these two shirts be fixed? I debated about adding a yoke to the back of the shirts. This would be a way to add enough fabric to raise the collar back up. I also thought about abandoning the collar, adding a facing and make the shirts collarless. Even though the back of the shirt would still be low on my back, there would not be the weight of the collar dragging the back of the shirt down, and hopefully that would make the shirt more comfortable to wear.

DSCN0394While looking at the work that would be needed to fix the issues with these shirts, I lost all interest it trying to raise the collars. The blue and white shirt is a work shirt and is fine under my jacket. Although, the lady bug shirt was made to be a fun summer shirt, it would now be a work shirt too. Since finding the issues with the shirts and trying to solve them, I have wore the lady bug shirt to work and it wore just fine under my jacket as well.

I even received several compliments on the lady bug shirt at work. I don’t know if the compliments were sincere and my coworkers really liked the shirt or if the compliments were a rolling of the eyes that I would wear lady bugs. Really though, I don’t care either way. I really like the lady bugs.

While these two shirts will not be my favorite shirts to wear and they will see less wear than some of my other shirts, I still think they will be ok even if not perfect. But that is just the way it is sometimes. Unless I get a wild hair to alter them, they are what they are. They are not unwearable by any means. I decided that my time would be better spent making a new shirt with a raised back and letting these shirts just be off in the fit, so that is what I’m going to do.

DSCN0418P.S. Speaking of altering, I altered another one of the husband’s shirts. This was one of the last shirts I had made for him before he lost some weight so it was quite large on him. I removed the collar and took a full inch out of the shoulders, then I re-attached the collar. I also took 1 & 1/2 inches out of each side seam including the sleeves. I could have taken even more out of both the shoulders and the side seams but I stayed on the conservative side for this alteration. I can cut more off later if needed. As I learned from altering my shirts, it’s much easier to cut extra fabric off than to add fabric back on. His shirt is still a little large on him but the fit is much better than it was and I think he looks good in it.

Until next time, sew forth and alter on!

Ah Mom! Do we have to go back to school again?

Yes folks it is that time of year again.

Back to school time.

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Wow! It is hard to believe that we actually wore some of the things we did in public, let alone to go back to school in isn’t it?

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Ow! My EYES! It BURNS! It BURNS!

Isn’t it funny the clothing styles that you thought were so cool as a kid of a certain age. And how as your tastes became more refined and changed as you got older,  you can’t believe the things you wore when you were younger.

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It went something like this:

6-9 years old: Wow mom that looks really cool! Thanks for getting it for me! I am going to wear it every day until it has some many holes in it and smells so bad it disintegrates off of my body! No really Mom, I mean it! I really am!

10-13: It’s ok mom, I will probably wear it next week after I have seen some of the dorky things that other kids are wearing that look just like it. I don’t have to be the coolest kid in school yet, but I don’t want to be un-cool either. You know, just in case. Pinky swear!

14-18: Are you kidding me mom? I would never be caught DEAD in that. That is SO LAME! I can’t believe you thought I would like that. You just don’t know anything about me anymore.

ARRRRGGGHHH! Rebelling teens and tweens. It’s a pain, but it’s a part of growing up and it is part of the great adversity of being a parent too.

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Most parents today look at what their 12+ year old is wearing and just shakes their head in disbelief as their children head off to school in who knows what and even if you try to stop them from wearing it, they will just pack it in their backpack and change into it once they get to school without your permission.

The bands names change but the song always stays the same.

Sew forth and study on!

Now where did I put that Trapper Keeper anyway?

The precious, the precious…

Do any of you remember any of your first day of a new school year?

It was all so exciting and scary at the same time!SchoolSupplies1

 

New clothes and shoes of course, but more important to me were the new school supplies! Sorry I must admit here that I am a HUGE fan of office supplies and I always love to see what cool new things they have invented for kids to go back to school with for every new school year. Since I used to roam with the dinosaurs, I am always amazed at all of the cool high tech things kids get to go to school with in these days of future past. For us oldsters it was usually something along the lines of Pencil’s and Paper. Erasers, yes lots of those since we were pretty sure the mistakes we were going to make that year would be of EPIC proportions so we had to have some way to ERASE the evidence.

Glue1Some sort of glue or paste, depending of course which one would make a bigger mess stuck in our hair and on everything else and which tasted better. Why yes I did purchase the new mint flavored Elmer’s Glue, didn’t you? Only the finest ground up horse hooves would do for us kids back in the day.

Then of course I remember the year that Mead brought out the very first version of the Trapper Keeper. Man were those things cool! See! I told you I was OLD! Roamed with the dinosaurs people, roamed with the dinosaurs I tell ya!

Trapper1Oh man! I just had to have one! In pink! Oh yeah! And you should probably go ahead and throw on a Unicorn or two, and maybe a rainbow just to be on the safe side of course. I didn’t want to be seen in public without being in the haute of fashion!1963-jetsons-school

But today kids go to school with all kinds of crazy things. Smartphones, Tablet computers, Laptops, Graphing Calculators, Fitbits, Nike+’s, and a whole host of other crazy things to keep them distracted just long enough that they don’t have much time left over to learn much of anything.

It is fun to reminisce about the past, and a little nostalgia every once in awhile is okay, but it’s not healthy to romanticize the past too much.

At the end of the day, today’s kids aren’t all that much different from when you and I were kids, and most of the school supplies are still the same too. The things they teach kids have changed over the years of course. The humanities don’t seem to be taught as often and with as much fervor as they were when I was a child. But I think that the basic Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic are still there. I don’t believe that things like history and literature are pushed very much anymore. It’s too bad, those were my favorite classes when I was in school.

And while I still don’t have everything in my life figured out, I can take comfort in another kind of nostalgia, reminiscing about how much I’ve learned over the years. I can only hope that when I look back on my life, I’ll regard this version of myself as equally clueless. Only then will I know how far I’ve come.

Until next time, Sew Forth and Trapper Keeper on!

Take Off That Hat And Scarf! It’s Still Summertime out there!

DSCN0243I must have been trying to think of cool thoughts while enduring the heat of the summer when I decided that my next amigurumi project would be a penguin.

Actually, a more accurate reason for choosing it was the purchase of a particular color of variegated yarn. I love the extremes of it. First a bright neon color then the complete opposite, black, then the bright neon color again. What would show off the burst of colors in this P1040325yarn? Of course, an animal with the same contrast, a black and white penguin.

I found the cutest penguin pattern and it included instructions to make a hat and scarf too. The crocheting of the pieces went smoothly, and the pattern was very well written with lots of detailed pictures. The only change that I made to the pattern was the penguin’s white belly spot. The pattern called for just a round white circle for the belly spot, but that looked odd to me. So, I undid the last round and added some double crochets to what would be the top of the spot, making it an oval at the top and round at the bottom. This looked better to me than just the round circle did. The oval top seemed to fill the belly area of the body better.

P1040335Stuffing and stitching the pieces together went smoothly as well. Soon enough, I had an adorable penguin all crocheted up! I actually thought about stopping there, but the whole reason for making this amigurumi was to use the new variegated yarn, so I started crocheting again to make the scarf and hat.

The scarf was no problem to crochet and it was a good length after being tied around the penguin’s neck. The hat was also a simple crochet to make. There is one thing I thought about changing on the hat and that was the color of the last round of the cap. The last round is crocheted in double crochet versus the single crochets of the rest of the cap, to give the cap a finished edge. This edge is lost when made in the variegated yarn. I thought about undoing the double crochet round and chaining the color to black. But I figured that would that just make the double crochets blend with the penguin’s black head and I would lose the edge anyway. In the end, I decided to leave the double crochet round in the variegated yarn, mostly because I love this variegated yarn on the black and white penguin.

DSCN0241The challenge for this amigurumi came with the pompom on the hat. I know how to make a pompom, but I have never had any luck making a successful one. They always fall apart on me. I thought about leaving the pompom off the hat but I really wanted one so I got started on it. After trying a couple of times to make the pompom and having it fall apart on me, I was ready to quit. So after filling the bottom of the garbage can with failed pompoms, I decided that the hat did not need a pompom after all. I showed the husband the completed penguin with the pompomless hat and scarf and his first comment was “Where’s the pompom?” Flustered I showed him the garbage can and explained to him how I had been trying to make the pompoms with no success. He said to let him try. I watched closely as he did the exact same thing that I had done to make a pompom, DSCN0247but when he pulled the yarn to tie the knot, he pulled it so much tighter than I could have had pulled it, I found my problem. The husband’s pompom was a success and I promptly stitched it to the top of the hat for the penguin. It looks great and best of all it did not fall apart. Unfortunately for the husband, he is now the official pompom maker.

This penguin was quickly named Paulie, not a very original name, but a good name. I think Paulie is very cute and was fun to make and I love his hat and scarf from the variegated yarn the most.

Until next time, crochet forth and crochet on.

Simplicity 5540 -The Tomboy Dress

IMG_0024This dress is just too cute with the two matching fabrics, the buttons down the front, the gathered pockets and the little shorts. This little dress is a great design. A little girl can look so cute and proper for school with the buttons all buttoned up and then she can unbutton those buttons to reveal the little shorts to then ride her bike or run around the playground. It is the perfect tom boy dress in my opinion, and I could not wait to make it. The pattern front said that it was easy to sew, further encouraging me to get started right away. But, the pattern description was a little white lie. I quickly learned that for me this little dress was going to be a long and involved sewing project.

Picking the main fabric with the pink and white check pattern was easy. This fabric was purchased with the fabric I used to make the bubble top of my last post so many years ago, but this piece was actual yardage and not just large scrap pieces. One nice thing about this fabric was that it came out of the washer and dryer without too many wrinkles. I did have to make a trip to Joann’s to get the accent pink for the trim as I did not have that on hand.

P1040470P1040468I traced the size 6 from the pattern and after tracing the bodice and skirt, I noticed there were still many more pieces left to trace due to all the trim and tie pieces. This was not a problem, but it took extra time to trace and cut out of the pattern pieces, and then to cut out the dress from the fabric. Once I had done this my excitement to make this dress had not waned, so I was willing to put the extra time. Since there was not a direction to the design of this fabric, I put a little piece of tape at the bottom of the skirt pieces as I cut them so I could later identify the top from bottom on them.

The next thing I did was read the pattern guide twice before taking my first stitch. After seeing the number of pattern pieces for this dress and reading the pattern guide, I knew this was not going to be the easy or quick sew like the pattern cover had claimed it was going to be, but I decided there was a lot to learn from making this dress and it would still be fun to make. I followed the pattern guide closely as I stitched the trim and ties to the bodice pieces and then stitched the bodice pieces together. The upside down “L” trim pieces on the front of the bodice were tricky to stitch. I did an ok job on them, but I learned a lot and would probably do a better job next time.

P1040378Next up were the pockets. I will be the first to admit that I need more practice when making pockets, the shaping and styling of pockets as well as just making different types of pockets. I knew this fact as I started these pockets, but I was still willing to give it my best. If the pockets did not work out, I could just leave them off so there wasn’t any fear of messing them up. Still following the pattern guide, I made the casing for the elastic at the top of the pockets and inserted it. Still no problems had arisen so I continued on. Next came ironing the edges so that the pockets could be top stitched on. This was not working well at all. As I stopped to think about it, I decided I needed to gather the pockets to help get the round shape I wanted from them, much like you gather a sleeve cap when inserting a fitted sleeve. The gathers would not show on top of the pocket but it would be in the seam to help ease the curve.

P1040403Because I only needed a small amount of gathers to round the pockets, I decided to use the serger method of gathering that I had read about recently. Using this method would take care of two steps. If I serged around the pockets, not only could I use the serger to make the needed gathers, it would also finish off the edges of the elastic at the top of the pockets. After serging the edges of the pockets, I found the needle threads of the serging at the curves and pulled them. This gathered the fabric together. I was then able to iron the curved edges so I could top stitch the pockets on. This left the serging messy with loops but I just tucked the loops into the seam as I stitched the pocket on. The serged gathers worked nicely for rounding the pockets and I think the pockets look pretty good. I still need more practice, of course but these pockets turned out well enough to leave them on the dress.

P1040400The next step I did of sewing the skirt and trim went smoothly. I used the floss method for gathering the skirt, then sewed it to the bodice, and then added the lining. The step after that is where I varied from the pattern guide. Before finishing the lining, the guide called for a fitting of the dress and adjusting the straps to the needed length, then stitching the straps in place and finishing the lining. Since I had no idea of what length the straps needed to be, I decided not to stitch the straps in at this time. I would instead attach the straps in the next step P1040475with the top stitching of the trim. This way, if the straps needed to be adjusted once it was tried on, only the top stitching has to be undone and not the lining finish and the seams inside where the straps are attached. I finished the lining’s stitch in the ditch seam with a little help from some seam to seam adhesive. Because the lining of the skirt was made from the main fabric and not a slippery lining fabric, the stitch in the ditch seam sewed rather smoothly and nicely. Unlike the last skirt I made, I did not have to go back and restitch any places this time. The final steps to complete this dress were the top stitching of the trim where I stitched the straps into place and then the hem and the dress was done.

DSCN0192The shorts were next in line to stitch. The shorts pattern was very basic, just 4 pieces in total with two front pieces, two back pieces and an elastic waist with no pockets. I believe that all kids clothes need pockets, so I debated if I wanted to add patch pockets or side seams pockets to these shorts. I finally decided on no pockets. These shorts would be better if they were straight and flat without the added bulk of pockets. This way they would be less obvious under the dress when it was being worn buttoned up fully. Yet I still wanted to add something to the shorts to give them a little flair, so I decided to add a little slit at the side seams. I finished the side seams flat before sewing the seam together. I then sewed the side seams stoping two inches before the bottom of the shorts. Next, I hemmed the shorts. This formed the slits on the side. I then stitched around DSCN0195the slits to finish up this added detail. The slits were easy to make and added a nice touch to the simple shorts. I made the shorts in white even though that is not a great color for a little girl to play in but the denim fabric I used is very durable and washes well. I am also hoping that the shorts can be universally worn, either with this dress or with the bubble top I previously made or anything else as well.

I feel that this completed dress and shorts set turned out great! I think it is a very cute outfit and will be fun for a little girl to wear. I learned a lot on the construction of this dress and I had a chance to practice pockets, top stitching and stitching in the ditch. I am happy that I stuck with it and endured to the end with this project. It might not have been an easy project like the pattern stated but it was worth the work in the end.

I Need To Hide This Pattern

IMG_0151There is yarn all over the place!

Recently I have not been putting my yarn away as I complete a project, so it has just been sitting helter skelter on my cutting table in piles, and I decided I should take some time to tidy up a bit. But as I started to put the yarn back into my yarn stash, I remembered the fun little pocket pals I made awhile back when I was learning how to fuzz yarn. These pocket pals were a quick crochet and there wasn’t a lot of stuffing or stitching to them, and they came out super cute. So, rather than packing all this yarn up only to get it right back out again, I thought that I should just use a little more of it up and make some more fun pocket pals with it instead.

P1040460The first yarn I saw on the cutting table was the variegated yarn left over from making the jellyfish. Looking at the pocket pal pattern, I could not decide which animal I would make from this variegated yarn. Then my creative mind spoke to me. How about a monster? Awesome idea! But, what details could I add to make it a monster? Horns and big eyes was the answer that I came up with.

I crocheted up the pieces for the monster from the variegated yarn and then found a pattern to use for the horns from a devil pattern that I want to make this year for Halloween. I then crocheted the horns from the variegated yarn as well, but when it came time to stitch the horns to the monster, the husband stopped me. He said I needed to make the horns a P1040257different color so that they stood out more. He chose white for the color. I was unsure about the white horns on this monster but I crocheted the white horns up anyway and then stitched one on. And I liked it! So I removed the variegated horn and attached the other white horn. Now, I had a perfectly good pair of variegated horns with no pocket pal to stitch them to, so I decided to make a white monster for the variegated horns. Now it was time for the eyes and mouth. I wanted to use these big googly eyes I had purchased a long time ago and just had not found the right project to use them on. The variegated monster was the right project. With his one big eye, he needed a big smile. I tried several smaller eyes on the white monster, but the big eye was the best and once again the white monster got a big smile to go with the big eye too.

P1040449The next yarn that caught my eye was the gray yarn left over from the mouse. There was not much of this yarn left either and rather than return it to the stash, I decided to just use it up and make a pocket pal with it too. I had planned to use the ear pattern from the mouse I just made to make the ears for the pocket pal, but, because the gray yarn was limited and I did not want to try and match colors, I added the gray yarn to the pink center as an additional round rather than making a gray ear and a pink ear and stitching them together as I did the mouse’s ears. This worked just fine for the pocket pal mouse’s ears.

P1040416As I put away the other skeins of yarn on the cutting table, I came across my big skien of pink. You might ask, what have you made recently from pink? Yes, there was a small amount of pink used for the mouse’s ears but why did you get out the big skein for that and not just use some scraps? Well I did use some pink scraps for both the mouse and pocket pal mouse’s ears but the big skein was out for the relay for life teddy bear I had made recently for a charity auction. I try to make something to donate to relay for life each year and this year I picked a pink teddy bear with a purple nose and purple buttons made from the button jointed teddy bear pattern that I have made twice before. He stitched up smoothly and having done the button jointed pattern before, they were no problems to make it again. And he turned out so cute once completed! I just love this pattern. I hope someone will like him well enough to buy him at the event.

P1040443But back to the pocket pals. I decided to make a pink pocket pal bunny from the big skein of pink. The pattern for the bunny’s ear was in the pocket pal pattern already and it crocheted up just fine. In no time at all I had a cute pocket pal bunny made. I decided to fuzz up the yarn on this bunny so I got out my brushes, and with a few strokes of the brushes, I had an adorable cute fuzzy bunny all done.

What pocket pal should I make next I thought to myself? A chick? A cat? More monsters? But, as I planned my next pocket pal, I realized that I had so many patterns that I still want to make that it was time to put away my yarn and the pocket pal pattern and start my next new amigurumi project instead.

Until next time,

Crochet forth and pocket pal on!