Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Hey Mom!

“Hey Mom, I have a sewing project for you” I heard my elder DS’s voice say from the computer room. “What?” I asked from my comfortable chair, reading my book and sipping my tea. “Come here” he replied. As I got up from my chair, I knew this was not going to be the typical rip repair request. “T. (his friend girl) wants this for Christmas. She sent me the link, but it is sold out.” He said, pointing to a picture of a fleece hat with big panda bear eyes and ears on a cosplay site. “Can you make it?” Mixed feelings swirled in my head. Flattered that he thought I could, there was also some reluctance because this wasn’t what I had planned to do today. My book would be there when I got done, so I prepared to be "Sewper Mom". The first thing we did was look for similar hats on other sites, but there were none as cute. So we looked for fleece hat patterns with ear flaps and ties. We found some great patterns and a source of unique outdoor fabrics at Finnish web site Shelby , a company that provides extreme materials and designs to do-it-yourself enthusiasts, students, designers, and manufacturers. They have patterns for sale as well as some free ones. The hat pattern we used is the free Shelby Kaava #403 Tunturi Hat Pattern . The crown section of the hat is made from four triangular pieces and the bottom section from one of three options: a short ear flap, a long ear flap with tie, and a Balaclava. The pattern prints out in 4 sizes.

I had to climb up the ladder to the unheated attic to check my fleece stash. I had every color except the black and white needed for this project. The main roads had been cleared after our weekend snow storm and we had to go to the Alltel store to get my dead cell phone diagnosed, so I talked my DH into going "just a little further down the road to the fabric store” to get the fleece. In the mean time DS asked T. what her hat size was. Fortunately she responded with her head circumference, which is what we really needed to determine which pattern size to use.

From a closer examination of the pictures, it looked like the pattern used was a little different than the one we downloaded. The hat was cut in one piece and the crown shaping was done with darts. To get the same pattern shape, I positioned the crown pieces on top for the band pattern with flaps and cut out the shape. Now the crown shaping would be achieved with large curved darts.

After I showed him how fleece stretches in one direction and not the other, my son did the pattern layout and cutting. He drafted the pattern pieces for the eyes, nose and ears. The ears were 3 inch diameter lined circles, that are inserted in the crown side seams. I did all the sewing. Boy, it had been a while since I zigzag stitched around curve shapes. That is definitely a skill and mine is rusty. The white fleece was thin and seams show thorough, so we lined the hat with the same fleece. DS was fascinated with turning the tie tubes using a long metal rod with a hook on the end. He thought that was pretty neat.

Wouldn’t you know, I checked the web site of the original inspiration hat today, and it is back in stock. But DS is very pleased with the result of our sewing collaboration and we both enjoyed ourselves. He refused to model the hat himself, so here it is on a hat form. I think it will look really cute on T. with her long red hair.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I Felt Loopy

Before I was sidetracked by the December issue of Burda magazine, I was working on a jacket. I bought the fabric in November in Hampton Roads, VA. I had driven my older son there so he could take his friend girl (it’s a long distance relationship so she really isn’t his girlfriend) to her high school’s fall Homecoming Dance. He doesn’t have enough driving experience yet to do the trip on his own. I dropped him off at the friend’s house and spent the rest of the evening shopping. In the sale section, at the back of the JoAnne Fabrics store, was a bolt of dark brown flannel like fabric with a variegated yarn felted to it in a meandering loopy pattern. I am pretty sure it is felted because there is no visible sign of stitching and the yarn fibers can be seen faintly on the back side of the fabric.

The local JoAnne Fabric store had a different colorway of this fabric last fall. I thought it was a bit overpriced for something made of acrylic/poly/wool, no matter how unusual the fabric was. It sold out very quickly. I always wonder what makes a fabric popular at one store and not at another. At half the original price, the fabric became more appealing to me. I decided a jacket with soft curved style lines would be a good choice for this fabric. Simplicity 2810 is a pattern for a double breasted, shawl collar jacket that fits that description.

On the pattern envelope, this jacket is shown in a paisley fabric with coordinating binding around the edges. The instructions say to finish the lapel outer edges and hem normally, and then apply binding made of bias strips cut from a coordinating fabric. I had a solid brown wool fabric that coordinated well, but as a binding over the finished edges it was too bulky. I considered cutting off the lapel edge seam allowances and binding the edge using the solid brown fabric, but that was still too bulky. By this time the binding issue was driving me "loopy" and the project stalled for a bit. I felt the patterned fabric really needed some kind of edge definition. Then I remembered a scrap of cream colored faux suede left over from a Davy Crockett/Daniel Boone costume project. You know the type of costume I mean...a leather looking jacket with lots of fringe. I folded strips of the suede in half and inserted the folded edge like piping. It extends about 3/16 inch from the front edge, about the same width of the yarn.

I had two fitting issues which are not normally a problem for me with Simplicity patterns. The full length sleeves were about 1.5 inches too short. I ended up sewing a bias band to the bottom of the sleeves to get them to the appropriate length. And the sleeves were also very narrow. Bicep circumference measurement for my favorite RTW jackets is 14.5 to 15 inches. For the size 14, the finished pattern measurement was 13 5/8 inches. I used 3/8th inch seam allowances on the two sleeve seams to get a little more room. The sleeves are comfortable over tops made of thin fabric.

One more day of work and I am on vacation until after the New Year. Gift shopping is done, thank goodness! I am actually feeling very relaxed about the upcoming holiday and am looking forward to luncheons with sewing buddies, visits with friends and relatives, and doing goofy stuff with the family like the Tacky Light Tour. The TLT is when you drive around the city after dark, looking at the Christmas lights on the homes of people who go to decorating extremes. I have not planned any specific sewing, but I am sure some will occur.