Sunday, June 29, 2014

Channeling Ernestine (The Britex Event)

The Britex event was yesterday and it was so much fun! The wonderful Jillian took some photos. When I looked at them later, I was surprised at how "expressive" (i.e. weird) my face was. I was positively channeling Ernestine (aka Lily Tomlin), the Switchboard Operator.

I brought several items to show and talked about closures. (It was a 20-minute-ish talk, so I focused on one favorite sewing aspect.)

I was so impressed that folks came from a long way to be there! I met a great couple from Santa Rosa (Yo, Karen & Joey!), and a woman from Sacramento, but Pam (FreshCityFarm) wins the Intrepid Trekker Award, as she drove all the way from Los Angeles (8-ish hours) to attend!

It was an extra special surprise when Sandra Betzina showed up. (I had told her that I was speaking at the event when attending her Power Sewing filming last week.)

And I always love seeing my fellow bloggers like Jillian, Beth, Stephanie, Laura, and Erin, and meeting new ones, like Nicole! (The bison is eager to meet for lunch, Nicole!)

Thanks to Britex for inviting me, and thanks to everyone who came! I hope you found it a worthwhile activity on Pride Weekend, with the crazy traffic and all the Union Square construction that was going on!

(And, hey, have you see the new Jalie how-to videos on Youtube? If you have issues about sewing with knits (or want to make cloth diapers), check them out!)

Edited to add:

Britex has posted a very nice Recap Post.

And they've posted some pics on Pinterest. (The bottom pic here shows Sandra Betzina, in profile, wearing a gorgeous brocade version of her Vogue 1385 blouse-made-as-a-jacket.)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

An Afternoon with Sandra Betzina and Ron Collins

But first!...
The jersey worn by my team at Google I/O. Not my usual sartorial choice.
We chose what we wanted to be printed on the back, including a one- or two-digit number. I don't have a favorite number, so I used Sheldon Cooper's favorite number.

¡Hola, amigos!

If you want, you can skip to the main event, an afternoon with Sandra Betzina and Ron Collins.

It feels like I've been gone a long time, but I've been busy preparing for Google I/O, our developer conference. Lots to learn, and lots of documentation to write (or update).

I'm glad to report that it's over and it was a success! Or I should say, it's all over except the after party, which I am skipping. I went to the before party, and that is all the party I need for awhile.

I must say, I am enjoying my new Android wearable, which was announced at I/O. It's a watch, a fitness tracker, a remote control for your other Android devices, and it sends you notifications of emails, texts, and calendar events. You can give it voice commands, making me feel a bit like Dick Tracy. :)

I am aiming to walk at least 10,000 steps a day. I mostly manage it.

This Saturday is the blogger event at Britex, and then I hope to have more time to sew! I have been working on a more involved project - a summer coat from denim, but I may interject an easier project or two, just to experience a sense of completion.

I am eager to hit the machine.

An Afternoon with Sandra Betzina and Ron Collins

Sandra and I are both wearing her top-made-as-a-jacket, Vogue 1385. Hers is lengthened quite a bit and piped with a pleated green trim. I blogged about mine here.

Several weeks ago Sandra Betzina emailed me with a unique opportunity. Ron Collins was flying in to San Francisco and they were planning to spend the week recording nearly 30 Power Sewing Web TV shows. She wondered if I'd like to come by for lunch and to watch the process.

Would I!!??

You betcha! But I wasn't sure, until the day before, if I was going to be able to make it, given my work schedule. I am so glad that it worked out.

When I arrived, Sandra and Ron were finishing up an episode on how to sew a fly front for jeans. They broke for lunch and I met their seasoned, professional crew. We enjoyed some food prepared by one of the crew, chatted, and then I spent some time examining garments on a hanging rack. I was quite smitten with several of Ron's garments that used the Babylock Sashiko machine. This machine has a bobbin thread only and creates a stitch that looks like a hand-sewn running stitch, which you can see on Ron's linen jacket:

After lunch, they got back to work. I watched them record two more Web TV shows: one on sewing a camp shirt, and another on "Tricks with Trims"—techniques for using trim and piping. It was very interesting to watch the process. I especially love the rapport between Sandra and Ron—it's fun to watch them interact and make each other laugh. The videos are well planned, but not scripted, and both Ron and Sandra are very easy and comfortable in front of the camera. It was interesting to see how they "block" out the material, and then dive in and let it flow. They do not require many takes. Their process is a combination of careful planning, and going-with-the-flow and being flexible.

A very fun afternoon! Thanks, Sandra, Ron, and crew, for your gracious hospitality!

As I was leaving, I was very taken with the inside of Sandra's front door, so I snapped a picture. It's a work of art.

I know it's only Thursday, but I hope you have a great weekend!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Rambo Project - Burda 7018

Once I got past my resistance to cutting into the turban fabric, this Rambo project was a lot of fun!

To catch up on this project, read Seamstress Erin's blog.

I especially liked the stripes at each edge of the turban. The striping pattern was asymmetric, and I immediately knew that I wanted the stripes to go down each sleeve. This meant that the stretchy direction, for the sleeves, would go up and down the arms, rather than around, but I decided that it was a worthwhile tradeoff. I cut the rest of the jacket so that the stretch goes around the body.

I wanted a denim-style jacket, so I spent quite a bit of time looking at various pattern options. There really aren't that many denim-style jacket patterns that have all of the features that I like, but I finally settled on a Burda "youth" pattern, 7018. (If I'd had more time, I would have ordered the Style Arc Stacie jacket, which has all of the features I wanted.)

Because I had very limited yardage, especially in length, I had to make quite a few changes to the pattern, as well as my usual alterations:

  • I had to eliminate the collar.
  • I had to eliminate the bottom band.
  • I omitted the pockets and pocket flaps in the front yoke seam or, as Margy called them, the "boob arrows".
  • I had to shorten the front bands, so I shortened the jacket at the hem but I also lowered the neckline about an inch.
  • I had to finish the neckline with a bias band, cut from a stretch plaid fabric with a Burberry feel to it.
  • Because this is a very stretchy fabric in the long direction, I stabilized all horizontal seams with twill tape.
  • I wanted to make a welt pocket using the stripe, but I didn't have enough stripe left for two welt pockets, so I made one pocket, which I drafted. I put the welt pocket on the perfect vertical, since that is the direction where the fabric is completely stable. I used the plaid fabric for the pocket bag.
  • I did a princess seam FBA. (Of course.)
  • I narrowed the shoulder by about 1/2". (Less than usual.)
  • There is a lot of sleeve cap in this pattern, so I cut it down a bit.
  • I had to piece the back yoke. When I cut it out, it slightly extended into a stripe, so I sewed the seam allowance so that the stripe is to the outside. (I love serendipitous details like these.)
  • I cut the two-piece sleeves to be as long as possible, which is about 3/4 length. I left the sleeves unhemmed, using the fabric selvedge.
  • I hemmed the jacket with a bias binding, also cut from the plaid. Because the fabric is so stretchy in the horizontal direction, I sewed the hem completely by hand, including attaching the binding.
  • I finished all raw edges. Some I turned under and sewed by hand, and others I finished with bias binding.
  • I wanted oversized, decorative buttons, which I purchased at Britex. I sewed them on using silk buttonhole twist from Japan (also from Britex). The jacket closes with a snap.
  • I wanted to topstitch the seams with topstitching thread, but I couldn't find my stash of topstitching thread and JoAnn's was out of cream and white, so I used two regular threads through the needle.

Due to a lot of handwork, this jacket took a long time, but I really enjoyed the process. It's very comfy to wear and I expect get a lot of wear out of it this spring, and into summer.

Buttons and topstitching

Inside of front neck. You can see the bias neck finish, the pieced back yoke (with the striped seam on the outside), and the twill tape stabilizing the horizontal seams.

Inside out

I liked the selvedge of the plaid fabric, so I put it on the outside when I pieced the bias binding.

Welt pocket

Inside of welt pocket

All that remains of the turban.

Thanks so much, Erin, for inviting me to participate in this fun challenge!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Fact or Fiction? Softening Denim with Coke

Before I forget, if you are coming to the Britex event, make sure you check your registration. The event has been so popular that they are now asking for people to sign up to hear (up to 3) individual bloggers. (There were originally 4 bloggers scheduled and there are now 6.)

You can register through the Britex event page.

Several years ago I heard a tip that you can use Coke to soften denim. In fact, there was a discussion about this on Stitcher's Guild. The results were mixed - it seemed to work well for some lengths of denim, minimally for some, and not at all for others.

I have a 4-yard length of cotton denim that had been machine washed and dried numerous times. It was still a bit "crispy", so I decided to give this technique a try, using my "old fashioned" top-loading washing machine.

I acquired 3 12-oz cans of regular Coke. I set the machine for the smallest load, and selected the warm temperature. I did not use any detergent. Once the machine filled, I added the Coke. I tossed in the denim and let the machine agitate for 5 minutes. (I set a timer.) I then opened the lid of the machine, interrupting the cycle, and went to work, letting the fabric marinate.

When I returned home about 10 hours later, I closed the lid on the machine, letting the process complete. After the load finished, I put the fabric into the dryer.

(I first smelled the fabric and did not detect any soda smell. I then licked the fabric and it did not taste at all like soda, so I did not wash it again.)

The fabric was not softened in any way.

This was a bit disappointing, but I would try it again (with a different fabric) since I hear it does work in some situations.

Have you tried this technique?

Did it work?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

A Summer Top and the RAMBO Project!

Summer has come to San Francisco!

This means, in my neighborhood at least, chilling cold weather, and thick wet fog that causes what I call "fog rain". If you walk under trees in this fog, they drip on you. You stay drier if you avoid trees and shrubbery.

Just yesterday I was walking to the drug store and ran into a neighbor. We joked that it's obvious from our heavy wool coats and thick warm scarves that summer has finally arrived!

Despite that, some nice (and even hot) weather is coming to Mountain View, so I need more warm weather clothes. I bought some mesh fabric from Smuggler's Daughter called "Summer of Love Letters" and whipped up a top. I've made this top before (it is not available as a commercial pattern), in a winter version. I've enjoyed wearing it and plan to make a few more.

Of course, I will wear this one with a tank underneath, as it is sheer, but not too sheer.

The Rambo Project

I was tickled when Erin of Seamstress Erin, invited me to participate in the Rambo Project.

She was gifted with a box of turbans that were used in one of the Rambo movies. She sewed up a few of her own, then decided to share the wealth. She gifted 14 turbans to various bloggers and scheduled a blog tour, to see what we would come up with.

Before I cut into mine, I tried to actually wear it as a turban, which is not an easy feat—it is 3 yards long and about 18" wide, and stretchy as heck in the long direction. (It is one of the stretchiest wovens I have ever seen in the long direction, but perfectly stable in the short direction.)

I have never seen a Rambo film but, as I wound it on my head, I was channeling John Rys-Davies, as Sallah, in Raider's of the Lost Ark—a favorite film of mine.

Just like any wearable made from a rectangle of fabric (such as a sari or some ancient Greek garments), there is a real skill to wearing a turban.

I don't have that skill.

I was reluctant, at first, to cut into my turban. You see, I really liked to wear it as a scarf! But I forced myself to get over that and, cut it out I did. I even went to Britex for additional supplies. I have almost completed my project, and will post it on June 9th.

I invite you to follow the blog tour, starting from Erin's blog. Erin is inviting anyone who would like to join in, to make something inspired by the film. Those who are participating are using the following badge on their blog:

I am very curious to see how different bloggers used this fabric.


I want to thank you for your thoughtful comments on my Lekala post! The intent of that post was not to trash Lekala—they have some nice designs and the customization works very well for some. I may well buy more of them, but I would enter more "ideal" measurements and do my own alterations. If they ever improve the software to perform actual FBAs, I would definitely give them another try with actual measurements.


Are you aware of the Modcloth shopping website? The other day, I was enjoying some of the shoes they currently have for sale. For example: