Roughing It!

I am the latest and greatest fan of the American west.  My recent trip last month to Nevada, then the drive to and from Los Angeles, has opened my eyes to a whole new environment I’ve never experienced before.  I – of course – have watched the “Wild West” in classic films and such, yet the great expanses out there are best appreciated in person, I can attest.  My casual and active wear wardrobe is always lacking and so I whipped up a cozy pullover sweater in preparation for the day I planned on going hiking. It was perfect to wear for the occasion… it adds to my experiences to have a memorable handmade item for wearing when I do equally memorable events!  Most importantly, though, was the lovely time in the sunshine, the beautiful atmosphere, and the company I had visiting with my friend!

For most of my pictures, my top will be partially covered by my overalls.  Hiking through the breathtaking Red Rock Canyon – where everything is prickly, rocky, rough and dusty – required something sturdy, sensible, and secure.  Heck with fashion photography this time, here is what I sew, being seen exactly how I enjoy it.  Thus I paired my self-made creation with Hell Bunny brand heavy cotton denim, vintage-inspired overalls (“Elly May Denim Dungaree”) for a sort of ‘Rosie the riveter’ flair with a modern, utilitarian aesthetic.  I guess vintage fashion is so ingrained in my life that I cannot help but take a pattern from today and merge it into my lifestyle’s flair for the styles of the past.

On my way down to Las Vegas, I paired my pullover with my Burda Style 1930s style Marlene trousers (posted here) for yet other variant of the whole vintage-made-modern thing I like to do, consciously or not. At the airport, my son did not want to see me leave him behind with daddy!  He’s mommy’s boy…at least for now!

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  a one yard polyester knit remnant – it has a wonderful brushed outside which makes it appear like a sweater, yet there is a smooth knit, plain white inside

PATTERN:  Seamwork’s “Astoria” pullover

NOTIONS:  Nothing but thread!

TIME TO COMPLETE:  This pullover was made in one evening as a last minute project before leaving – in under 2 hours I had this top done on February 2, 2020.

THE INSIDES:  as this knit does not ravel and needs room to stretch, the inside edges are left raw.

TOTAL COST:  As the fabric was picked up at a rummage sale where all the sewing supplies are $1 a pound – and this lofty knit weighs practically nothing – this can be counted as good as free!

I am such a fan of the Astoria pattern on many accounts.  I love the shaping of the design, it has a figure-complimenting, high-waisted seaming, it only needs one yard, is super quick to make, and easy to sew together.  Except for the bother of printing out and taping together the PDF pattern, I truly felt like I blinked and it was done.  Isn’t there more that needs to be done, I kept asking?  Apparently, I am not used to such successful 3 hours or less sewing projects.  I figured it had to be a winner purely on account of the over 1,000 cute versions of it shared on Instagram alone!

Luckily, I read through many of the shared posts about others Astoria sweaters, and noticed the frequent mention that the sizing ran small, especially when it came to the sleeves.  My chosen knit barely had the recommended minimum of 25% stretch for I figured that fitting trend could cause an issue.  This was my true first Seamwork pattern (not exactly counting this sundress because, although it came from Seamwork, it is a Colette brand pattern) and so I had no idea what sizing to go by besides their chart.  Just to be safe, I went up a whole size than what their chart showed I should be making.  Now – even though my Astoria pullover does fit me, only in a snug fashion – I wish I had went up yet another whole size still.  I don’t know if this fit applies to all Seamwork patterns or just this Astoria, but it is easier to err on the side of caution for next time I try their designs and cut a generous size.

Please look closely and take a moment to appreciate the plaid matching I was able to achieve on an only one yard limitation!  This was not an easy to match, repeating print, either.  No matter how simple or quick and easy of a project I may be working on, I always make sure to do a really good job.  Among other reasons like personal satisfaction, a job well done gives me a reason to feel that my time is worthwhile enough to spend sewing versus buying something ready-to-wear.  (Most of the time RTW doesn’t offer anything close to what I have in mind to wear, so never mind!)  The wide, hem panel matches as well as the entire side seams into the sleeves.  Every little sewing victory deserves to be celebrated!

I realize it may seem frivolous to many to be focused on fashion and not dire events at hand happening in our world today, especially when it comes to travel.  However, in order to get through tough times, we need to find whatever helps us stay whole.  I am not the best version of myself being cooped up.  The memories of just last month – when I was free to travel out in the sun, fresh air, and open land, seeing new sights and going out of my comfort zone to visit someone I care about – needs to be refreshed for me.  Hopefully this post and its pictures provide a moment of respite for you, too, especially if you find yourself living vicariously through social media and telephone calls these days!  Oh, the great wide world out there might feel scary right now, but it is beautiful and it is calling for you to enjoy it!  Maybe don’t explore too ambitiously right this moment or in the next several weeks, but make sure to not grow content with the grind or stop seeing with your own eyes the real world outside of a digital screen.

I recently came across a quote from Travis Rice, as shared by the “Kind Humans Movement”, which strikes me as very relatable to both my post as well as today.  “Our lives have become digital.  Our friends, now virtual.  And, anything you could ever wanna know is just a click away.  Experiencing the world through second-hand information is not enough.  If we want authenticity we have to initiate it.  We will never now our full potential until we push ourselves to find it. It’s this self-discovery that inevitably takes us to the wildest places on earth.”  My thoughts exactly.

Aprons Big and Small

Size doesn’t matter when it comes to aprons.  I love them all, whether they would fit a Barbie doll or be in grown-up proportions!  This post is a combo of all of that – a few small sized, vintage inspired ones to decorate the tiny mannequins which stand on my sewing room’s wall shelf and one big 1940’s one which I made as gift for a friend of mine.

Firstly, I’ll start with the adult gift apron.  One thing I have learned from doing many projects for others is that your ideas and preferences can show but must take a backseat to the personality of the person you are sewing for.  This was a wonderful project to work on as a gift because I used a vintage pattern for both my own taste and also because this friend also sews past era fashions using old patterns just like me!  The print is a wonderful assortment of old style sewing machines which both she and I actually use to do some of our stitching.

As I have said before for my other tiny aprons (see here, here, here, and here), these are a charming and fun way to use of scraps of treasured, nice fabric and notions too small to seem useful otherwise.  If you don’t have small dress forms like I do, or don’t want these for actual Barbies either (like me), you can pin them up on a twine “clothes line” and decorate a wall or any other space that needs a little something!  This is what I have done for our kitchen under our spice rack.  Tiny aprons take up much less wall space than having lots of actual adult aprons and yet are every bit just as addicting.  It’s literally hard to stick to just one.  Now my mini apron count to date is brought up to 6 in total.  Yet, I have a few more I want to do still!

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  The vintage sewing machine print is a 100% cotton, bought from the now-defunct Hancock Fabrics Store.  The fabrics for the mini aprons are true vintage material, found in scraps too small to do anything more with otherwise, but still amazing and killer cute!  I am supposing from the feel of the cottons, the white and green mini apron fabric is about 50’s or 60’s, and the yellow one about 1940’s or 30’s era.

PATTERNS:  Simplicity #1221, view A, a reprint of Simplicity #4939 from 1944, for the full-sized apron; and for the small aprons I used both Simplicity #2748, view F, and Simplicity #1957, view C

NOTIONS:  As the mini aprons are of vintage fabric, I used almost all vintage notion scraps (most from my Grandmother) on them for the details.  The full-size apron is all new materials, yet still stuff that came from what I had on hand.  These were stash busting projects!!

TIME TO COMPLETE:  The gift apron was made in April 2015 and finished in 2 hours.  The mini aprons were made in January 2015 and each one took a few hours.

Aprons are relatively easy-to-make, so there is not much to say.  The adult apron was whipped up quickly so I spent extra time to make nice details, especially as this was to be a gift.  I was quite happy with the sizing too and made it as-is (according to the pattern) no changes, except for substituting ribbon ties for self-fabric ones as directed.  However, the small scale of the Barbie sized ones provided a big challenge in and of themselves.  I had to do more hand stitching on them so that they ended up taking longer to make than doing an apron for a real person…how weird.

As the vintage “gardening woman watering her flowers” print fabric was rather thin, I did the extra step of lining the apron with cotton broadcloth remnants.  I also had to add a center front seam to the mini apron’s skirt because I had such limited fabric…but at least I was still able to match up the print!  This by far my nicest mini apron made yet…not all of my own aprons get lined.

The yellow-red-black mini apron is a thick, feedsack style cotton so it was not lined, but it did get a lot of details.  I even added a tiny mini “handkerchief” folded up in the pocket for a touch of quaint realism.  I quickly realized that my idea of going with a fun contrast thread color for machine top-stitching the pocket edges was not the best idea, especially as I was trying to attach baby rick-rack, too.  I really should have chosen a matching yellow, and worked the stitching by hand.  But once it was done, my work wasn’t terrible enough for my own hardened self-criticism to have the heart to unpick.  This was a mini apron after all, was my thought, and one that was taking quite long to make in my opinion.  Oh well – I really want to try this design again, anyway and then I’ll do better for the next time! Not too many people see my nice sewing area, and even then no one will notice some tiny wayward stitching on a mini apron up on a wall shelf.

I’ll admit I did feel sort of bad actually using up my vintage scraps this way.  Perhaps I should have used these scraps for pocket linings in my garments?  Even then they would not really be seen the same way, and on a regular basis (as I am pretty much sewing every day).  Why shouldn’t my house’s decorations receive the same detailing, thought, vintage flair, and handiwork as what I wear?  What would I really do with a 12 inch scrap of lovely rayon seam binding otherwise?  Yup – sometimes I have to find legitimate reasons for my creative desires, because as the saying goes, “Of course, I talk to myself while sewing… I need expert advice!”