Sunday, October 30, 2011

More Sewing

Yes, I can! OK, the stitches look a little wobbly in the picture, but the coarse, loosish weave cotton is a bit stretchy to work with. I promise it looks fine in person.

In other sewing news, I made an apron out of a vintage linen tea towel. (Thanks, Heidi, for the towel!!) The strips at top and bottom are doubled and top-stitched at each edge to keep them flat. The bottom strip adds enough weight to make the apron hang nicely when worn. I like that it has a vintage feel, without being ruffly. This was super easy and only took about a 3rd of a yard (plus the towel). I'll be keeping an eye out for other likely tea towels with a "landscape" design.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I have been threatening to start sewing for a long time now. I have bought fabric. I have bought inspirational books of vintage fashions. I have collected bits and bobs of remnants and buttons and trims. I have even, recently, bought a new sewing machine. Yes, I was going to launch into sewing my own clothing any time now. My friend Jen, master seamstress and awesome teacher, offered to give me some instruction. Still it took a long time to get to the point of finding the hours to do it. Finally my underlying need to create clothing boiled over and I found myself spending a weekend with the ever-patient Jen, constructing a corduroy skirt.

My first step was to deconstruct a linen skirt that had been worn to the point of threadbareness. I used the pieces to make a pattern out of heavy paper.
Despite having a bin full of fabric already, I purchased four yards of gorgeous deep purple corduroy. Yes, four yards is a lot, but it was all that was left on the bolt and I can always make something from the leftovers. I also bought thread, zipper, etc.

The original skirt was elastic-waisted lightweight linen. I didn't want to do the same with the corduroy because it was heavier weight and, most particularly, I felt it would be good for me to install my first zipper. Skill building is good. Because my pattern was too wide to cut on the fold as I originally intended, I had to seam up the front and back. I took advantage of this and angled the fabric so the cords in the corduroy make an inverted vee in the front and back. Adding a waistband gave me a chance to learn to install a buttonhole. There was a slight speedbump in the zipper installation when it was discovered I had brought the Spanish version of the sewing machine manual. Happily the English version is just a Google search away.

I can only say that, despite being occasionally scary, and requiring slight plan changes during the process, I am very pleased with the results. In some ways, the scariest part is throwing it in the wash at the end. Will the whole thing disintegrate or shrink funny despite having preshrunk the fabric? It held together and I was able to wear it to work without anyone snickering.

If I hadn't been working under Jen's watchful eye, I would probably still be contemplating the instructions in the zipper package. The next big test: Can I make another skirt all on my own? Stay tuned and find out.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Nevada History in Metal

John Mackay - 19th century silver baron who struck it rich on the Comstock Load. Nevada has a history of doing well by (some) gamblers. That day he was wearing a tie. Statue by Gutzon Borglum, who is best known for destroying a perfectly good mountain to make Mount Rushmore. Tie added by business students.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sewing with Cats

Sewing with feline assistance can be problematic.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Vintage Trailer Fun

Last weekend was the Tin Can Tourists Northern California Regional Rally at Coloma, CA. There were 40ish (I didn't count) vintage trailers parked along the bank of the South Fork of the American River. Events included chili cook-off, potluck, open trailer hours, and lots of visiting. This is only my second year, so it was good to get to know these super-friendly people better. The main event that everyone looks forward to is the trailer open-house. Just like an upscale "Parade of Homes", folks prepare their trailers to be seen, setting out their collections of vintage place-settings and period artifacts. The trailers ranged from the 1940s to the 1970s, and from tiny teardrops to 25ft-plus in length. Although many were meticulously restored with period-perfect details, others were projects in process. Mine was one of the least period-conscious, since she is renovated rather than restored, but still managed to earn plenty of positive feedback on her artsy coziness.

I, of course, took lots of pictures, particularly of interior details. You can see the whole set HERE.

As you can see, vintage trailer buffs are great fans of eBay. There was much talk of scores they had made. I brought along my vintage bicycle and enjoyed tooling about the campground until Sunday, when I sadly suffered a tire blow-out.

I returned home Monday morning, just as the weather turned cold. As I type this it is raining, expected to turn to snow before morning.