Finished Kantha Jacket

Here’s the finished jacket – from the front, from the side, and showing the sewer’s dream patch on the inside of the left front (to hold the loose quilting threads in place).

As far as I was concerned the jacket was a demonstration piece from the get go – not likely something I was going to add to my wardrobe (because of the wonky back as well as the other problems I encountered with the fabric itself).

When I cut it out, I’d added a bit of flare both front and back – I was being influenced by the Meiko Mintz Kantha jackets which I think are gorgeous (if expensive, when you calculate US$ to CAD$ with shipping and tax – they’re out of my league which is why I’ve tried making my own even if my fabrics aren’t as wonderful as hers).

From the front the jacket looks fine – I’m happy with it. However, from the side, the flare in the back is pronounced! I can also see I need the centre front to be a bit longer to align with the side seams (which, by the way, are actually vertical and not pulling to the back).

Not an impossible fix – it means taking in the sides (removing the amount of the flare at least from the back and maybe a wee bit from the front).

I’m leaving the jacket as is until Saturday when I meet the gals – so they can see the issue themselves and make suggestions – I want to see how they’d go about fixing the problem.

I will remove the flare when I cut out the new jacket from the Kantha bedspread – at least from the back. I may keep a bit in the front.

Kantha Jacket #2

I made a jacket from a Kantha bedspread a couple of years ago. I’ve worn it a great deal. I get lots of complements on it.

Kantha Jacket – Front

Around that same time I bought a couple of yards of Kantha fabric from Marcie Tilton – I liked the patchwork idea and the colours of the assembled fabric. It arrived, I put it aside to make sometime in the future. Two weeks ago, that future arrived.

I am teaching a class to help folks streamline their garment sewing and to let them learn techniques that make their work more professional looking. I decided to use that Kantha cloth to make another jacket.

Partially assembled Kantha Jacket #2

I laid out the fabric and as I attempted to place my pattern pieces I discovered three things: 

  • first, the quilting stitching had many obvious stop/starts (with loose thread ends) in strategic locations in the fabric and I wasn’t able to work around all of them; 
  • second, there was a bright green patch (completely out of tune with the rest of the patchwork) obviously sewn on as an afterthought to cover some flaw beneath; I was able to avoid it for the jacket
  • third, the patchwork piecing was incredibly poorly done – I was able to cut out the jacket fronts and the sleeves with the lines of patchwork being relatively parallel with the length of the potential garment, but I was unable to find any location on the remaining fabric to cut the back on the straight of the patchwork. I cut out a jacket back with the lines obviously tilted off centre to the right (this was the least wonky placement I was able to find).

To contend with the begins/ends of the quilting threads I had to pull the quilting thread ends through to the back and fuse a layer of sewer’s dream across that area of the fabric in order to make sure the threads stayed put. The jacket I’m making is unlined so I’ve been binding all of the seams – I hope they’ll stay together). The welt pockets (you can see them on the front panels at the top) are, I hope, secure.

I was making the jacket as a demonstration for the class. I’ll finish it so the women can see the finished garment,  but likely I won’t wear it with the wonky back – I have to see how obvious it is when I put the jacket on.

I wrote MarcieTilton.com letting them know I wasn’t happy with the fabric! The answer I got back:

The nature of Kantha is the beauty in its imperfections. Sounds like you did everything possible to make it work. I hope your wear the jacket with pleasure and that others enjoy your creativity.

Not a lot of consolation, there.

Last week I spent some time on Amazon looking at Kantha bedspreads and came up with a patchwork one that looked interesting – it said “silk”. The colours were bright and the quilting stitching looked close together and straight.

The quilt arrived two days ago

Patchwork Kantha Bedspread (Silk?)

This is a much better quality fabric from which to make a jacket. Great colour variation, good stitching, not a lot of loose quilting thread ends AND the piecing is straight!

As soon as I’ve finished this current jacket I will cut out another from the bedspread (and who knows, it may actually be silk?)

I’m about to wash it carefully on gentle cycle in my washing machine and dry it in the dryer – I need to shrink the bedspread as much as possible so the garment will be stable once I’ve made it up. I need to go through my batik stash to find something to use for binding the seams; if I have nothing there I’ll pick up some at one of the local fabric shops.

Diversions

While I’m waiting for the white/black fabric I ordered from Newfoundland to arrive so I can finish the Delft #2 quilt top (should arrive sometime this week), I’ve caught up on a couple of other things: I made a new iPhone carry case and I recovered my ironing board.

I’ll start with the ironing board.

I don’t recall how I stumbled across an ad for a wool ironing board pressing mat but it was advertised for half-price. I’d never have paid full price, I’d have used batting leftovers under a new cover but the price was reasonable so I ordered one. It arrived promptly, I trimmed the 18″ x 54″ wool felt piece to fit my board (had to use some trimmings to lengthen the pad, I fused the pieces together using fusible tape for joining batting pieces), then recovered the board with an unbleached twill. A nice clean ironing surface with that terrific wool pressing mat underneath it. It works very well – glad I bought it.

It took about an hour to recover the board – I had the piece of unbleached twill tucked away from the last recovering – I serged the edges of the twill, and used my heavy-duty staple gun to attach it to the bottom of the plank (I left two previous coverings beneath the wool pressing mat – that extra padding can’t hurt).

My Ancient Ironing Board

My ironing board has history. I bought somewhere around 1964 from the Salvation Army Store in downtown Toronto for $1.50. Even then it was a relic – I’m guessing at least 50-70 years old but still solid and serviceable. The board itself was a shaped plank covered with several layers of flannel underneath a cotton covering nailed in place. At the time, I left that original covering in place and recovered the board with fresh fabric. I have recovered it many times since – at some point I removed all previous coverings and started new. The time before this recovering was when I moved into the apartment in 2016 – five years ago. The accumulation of Best Press (a pressing starch) had scorched the twill and I felt it was time to recover the board.

I’ve tried metal ironing boards but they don’t compare with my antique. This board is a comfortable height, slightly wider, and close to a foot longer than a standard metal ironing board. Now that my board has a fresh twill cover with the wool pressing mat beneath I’m in business for at least another five years.

The ironing board itself is an heirloom – it should be passed down in the family; for sure, I should itemize the wool pressing mat in my will – it’ll last generations. However, I don’t imagine anybody will realize the value of this treasure and it will be taken to the dump when I’m finished with it. Sad.

Second diversion – I made a new iPhone carry case yesterday.

I wanted the case a small amount wider than the one I was using. I’ve stopped carrying a purse of any kind – I’ve consolidated what I carry with me so that it all fits into this small zippered pouch. In its original iteration the case had a single side pocket. I’ve added two more zippered pockets to the last couple I’ve made.

The previous version was a good size for my iPhone with cough candy and gum in the side pocket but when I decided to carry my essential ID – drivers’ license, car permit and insurance certificate, health card, a credit card, as well as a small amount of cash, I needed to add a couple of pockets. However, as I stuffed in those new additions the whole thing was just a bit too small to easily get the ID and other cards in and out. It was time to make a new case.

I had enough leftover kid leather from a skin I bought in New York at a leather warehouse in 2012 to cut a 5 1/4″ x 15″ rectangle. I cut two narrow strips from one end so I could insert zippers for two shallow pockets. It took less than an hour to assemble the pockets, and complete the pouch, but it turned out just a bit too wide, so I opened the lining bottom, and trimmed about 3/8″ from the seam side. Should have been a shade less than 1/4″ – the credit cards and other ID fit in the pockets better, but there’s no comfortable spot for my chapstick! The phone catches on it when I slip it in. Looks like I have two choices – make another just that slightly wider, or leave the chapstick behind!

It’s a lovely day today – another of those bright sunny hint of fall days we get in late August/early September (Alistair MacLeod refers to it as “The Closing Down Of Summer”). Taking a ride with a friend to the Parrsboro shore to pick up farm fresh eggs. Looking forward to the day.

The Japanese Monpei

The Japanese monpei are working pants constructed in such a way that there is no waste fabric – you cut triangles from the waist area which you use for the crotch. It works – with a few caveats!

This gives you an idea how the pants are constructed. Click here for a link to the original set of instructions. (I’ve added notes and some numbers to the instructions – click here for my additions.)

Here’s what they look like finished.

The Front
The Back

This is actually my second try – I followed the instructions for the first try – cutting triangles from the “top” of the rectangle panels (3 1/2″ for the back crotch gusset; 1 1/2″ for the front crotch gusset). Because the panels use your hip measurement to calculate the width the waist on my first try was WAAAAY too small.

Fortunately, I had enough fabric left that I was able to start over – this time working with the complete rectangle (because my waist is almost the same as my hips) and cutting a single gusset for each leg (constructed by making the front and back gusset pieces into a single gusset piece). However, I didn’t have quite enough fabric for the legs – I cut 12″ from the bottom of the first try and added them to the bottom of the legs on this second try to give me enough leg length. I was going to do some decorative stitching to make the seam appear to be intentional but in fact you don’t notice the leg lengthening seam so I’ve left well enough alone.

I used rayon fabric I bought in Bali in 2014 (where do the years go!). It’s a lovely weight and drapes nicely. I’d say the monpei turned out rather well. I have to look at some of the other rayon in my stash and see if there’s enough of another piece for a second pair of pants.

I didn’t quite follow the instructions – I didn’t cut fronts and backs of legs separately, I cut single panels for the front/back leg – no side seam. A next pair will have a side seam because I want to add front pockets and they’ll work best if they side of the pocket is incorporated into a side seam.

I’m Still Here

I last posted June 22 – just over two weeks ago. Where have the days gone? We’ve had some lovely weather, some not so lovely weather (but I bet folks on the west coast would have given anything to have had a few cool, foggy, misty days – so no complaining).

I’ve been working away at the usual stuff – I was teaching a class on building a table runner/wall art textile piece using “postage stamp” squares. The class was originally scheduled for late April/early May but didn’t happen because of our COVID-19 lockdown. But I’d prepared some samples to illustrate possibilities.

Block 1
Block 2
Block 3

I’d planned a 5 X 5 array but when I’d sewn one of the blocks together (the top block #1) it finished too small to be useful for a table runner – a 7 X 7 array would be better. So I created some instruction for the gals outlining how to prepare for the class, what to bring, etc. I did not add to my samples or create new ones – they could get the idea from what I’d done.

The first day the women chose from their plastic sandwich bags containing their 2″ squares and arranged layouts for their table runners, pressed the squares to a piece of quilters grid fusible interfacing and began sewing the blocks together by stitching the rows, shaving off the fold, pressing the seams open, then stitching the columns, shaving off the fold, and pressing those seams open. The technique gives you perfect joins which you don’t always get if you just sew blocks together in the usual quilting fashion. The interfacing also adds a bit of firmness to the panel which is useful in a table runner.

Back of my Block 1

The class met this past weekend – ten days after the first session – to finish the piece. The gals needed to decide how to put their five blocks together, what kind of sashing to add, and borders to finish the piece. All three of the women got the tops completed, one was able to add batting and backing – she finished the piece using a pillow case finish (laying backing and top right sides together and sewing a 1/4″ seam around the outside leaving an opening for turning the piece right side out).

A Christmas Table Runner (Not Yet Pressed)

Another had nearly finished a bed runner – just needed border for the top and bottom ends.

A Bed Runner In Progress

(The third had her top and backing pinned right sides together when we ended the afternoon so I wasn’t able to get a picture.)

In the meantime, I’d started work on a wall hanging:

Only to discover that although I have hundreds of 2″ fabric squares in a wide range of colour, I didn’t have fabric to fill in the light portions of the layout! I’ve had to dig through scrap boxes to come up with more possible fabric bits. My plan is to build a graduated background, then to embroider a large flower of some kind (not another iris, maybe a yellow poppy) to overlay the light side of the layout. However, right now, I’ve got a pile of small light fabric pieces on my cutting table and I’m still walking around them. I hope to return to the piece this weekend.

Because I was stuck I turned to pants making, once more. I had washed, dried, and pressed a piece of beige linen cotton blend fabric and wanted, this time, to make a loose wide-leg pants. I took my previous pants pattern, hauled out a pattern I had for pyjama bottoms, laid one on top of the other aligning the crotch seams, then drafted a new pattern with the higher waist of the pants and the wider legs of the pyjamas.

However, when I put the pants together I made a BiG mistake – I forgot the pattern didn’t need a waistband – because the body of the pants incorporated the waistband – I just needed a waistband facing! But instead I added a waistband and faced it – which of course made the body of the pants too long. They looked dreadful. I was about to throw them out but a friend wanted to try them on. They fit her better but would have still needed adjusting, so I took them back, and the next morning removed the waistband, added back the waistband facing, shortened the legs (which were also too long even with the shortened body).

Wide-legged Linen Pants

All I can say is, they’re wearable. They’re comfortable but they certainly make me look like a dumpy old woman! The front fits OK. The back drapes funny so I’m going to have to revisit my “pattern” because I want to make another pair.

So while I haven’t been blogging, I’ve still been sewing, really.

Finished Jean Jacket

I finished the jean jacket this afternoon (I see from the photo, I need to reposition the second button from the bottom just a smidge to eliminate the ‘bulge’ in the bottom opening).

Finished Jean Jacket

The back

Jean Jacket Back

The back turned out nicely. The adjusted size E closes across the front as it should. Turns out, the linen was difficult to work with – stiff and coarse. The shoulder pads and sleeve headers do what they should – lift the shoulder a bit, and smooth the sleeve cap. Fiddly to do but worth the effort. The lining fits in well and is slippery enough that my arms slip into the sleeves easily. And I like the contrast elements in the sleeve bottom.

This is the fourth jacket from this pattern – it’s a well designed pattern (the inside zipper pockets are a good addition) – the markings all align and the parts fit together precisely.

I’m Back

It’s not that I went anywhere – I’ve just been working away at several things and not finished much to write about. But I’ve not been idle!

I’ve been working on a linen Jean Jacket (Out of print pattern by Sandra Betzina)and slowly making progress. It’s a lined jacket, with lots of top stitching and I’ve added two inner zippered pockets at the front facing/side lining seam so I can actually carry something in a pocket. The jacket pockets are no good for even carrying a Kleenex – they’re too shallow and anything I’d put in there would just fall out.

Partially constructed Jean Jacket

I’ve made three of these jackets over the years – a cotton/linen blend, a wild printed fabric, and one in denim – the problem is they’re TOO small – they don’t fit – I can’t button them up. I needed another one in a larger size. I’d bought the linen to make a dress but after a couple of washings and dryings the fabric was still too stiff to use for a dress or pants so I decided to make a jean jacket.

I’ve got the lining constructed, the sleeves (which have quite a bit of detail) are done. I’ve set up the sleeve facings having added a Hong Kong finish to the open edge. Now I’m working on putting the rest of the lining together. I expect I might be finished the jacket tomorrow or over the weekend.

In the meantime, I decided I needed a new iPhone carrying case – not much larger than the ones I’ve made before but larger enough that I can carry a credit card, my drivers licence, health card, some money in addition to the cough candy and chewing gum I always have on hand (because of my pesky cough – which BTW has subsided substantially recently – not gone but much less of a problem). My first try wasn’t quite wide enough and the top pocket was too deep. So I made a second.

iPhone Case 2.0

What I did was figure out how to add two zippered pockets to one side in addition to the zippered pocket along the length!

I haven’t written any instruction for how to do this version. When I get around to making another one and taking photos as I go along I’ll set up some instructions to share.

It’s still not large enough to fit my keys in but I have a hook on my key ring which I can hang on the strap if I don’t want to carry them in a pants or jacket pocket.

And I’ve almost got a sock finished from the new pair I’m working on – that will probably be completed this evening.

But since it’s been just over two weeks since I reported on anything I though I should update what I am working on.

New Clothes

The Escher Quilt finished last week, I started on some summer clothes. I’ve gained weight since I moved into the apartment, particularly this past year, and none of my summer pants fit me! None of them. The waists are waaaay too tight, but also across my belly the zipper has a hard time closing. So rather than trying to remake them, I decided to start from scratch.

Linen Pull-on Pants

A couple of months ago I bought one metre each of three different colour linen fabrics from Blackbird Fabrics (online) – nice weight, and I thought the fabric width would be wide enough that I’d be able to scrape out a pair of pants – well almost – I would normally buy 1 1/4″ metres for a pair of pants why I didn’t call and ask them to sell me the correct amount, I don’t know!. As it worked out, I was just able to fit in the fronts and backs and the front and back pockets but all facings and had to be cut from something else. With the red pair I had to create hem facings because the legs weren’t long enough to turn up; the mauve pair ended up somewhat cropped; the navy pair were OK in length. Because I intend to wear them with loose tops (I haven’t worn “tucked in” in a long time) I can get away with an elastic waist, pull-on pants.

I want to make one more pair but that will have to wait until the fabric stores here in town reopen – Wednesday, this week, I think – to buy some khaki/beige linen blend fabric.

In the meantime, I’ve turned to tops and dresses.

Top Recut From Dress

This top is a dress remake of the dress I made in 2014 for Benjamin’s Bar Mitzvah. 2014 – that’s a while back – the dress was just too small. I put it in the give-away pile and then decided to use the fabric as a “muslin” to recut the dress as a top to see how it would look in a larger size. Not bad. I can certainly wear it with white or red pants and a bit of jewelry and look decent.

I was using this garment as a mock-up for a longer casual summer dress. Working from a pattern I’ve had forever

I retraced the size 14 I now needed, carefully drafted neck “yoke” pieces (the pattern uses a neckline facing, but the neckline is a bit too large so I decided to add an insert (“yoke”) to make it higher, rather than change the neckline on the pattern) and I also lengthened the sleeves to close to elbow-length.

I had bought some viscose/cotton/flax/ print fabric a few weeks back with this dress in mind. Yesterday, I cut it out and assembled it.

Floral Viscose/Cotton/Flax Casual Summer Dress

I’m not going to be glamorous in this dress, but it’s going to be loose and cool and comfortable on a hot summer day (OK we don’t get a lot of those here in NS but we do get an occasional warm one).

I’m just about to make a second dress using some batik rayon I stamped myself in Bali in 2014.

Bali Rayon Batik

I purposely used two tjaps (stamps used to apply hot wax to the fabric) to create my design intending to use the “rectangles” as a border at the hem of whatever I eventually made. We stamped two “border” sections so I’d have enough. I came home with 5 metres of this batik rayon fabric – the dress will take about 1/3 of what I have – I’m going to try to border the sleeves a wee bit, as well, if I can.

That’s today’s project. I have more linen and linen blend, as well as rayon, fabrics in my stash to make several more garments but I really don’t need more than two dresses – we don’t get that many hot days here. So that fabric will stay put for another summer.

Finally Making Headway

I finally started stitching this piece yesterday. I filled in the sky and worked on the mud flat with blues/greys and brown/rusts (to really see what I’ve done, click on the image).

Under Construction

Today I worked on the land in the distance (still have the headland to work on). Then started in on the vegetation on the bank. First I had to modify some elaborate floral stitches on my machine to get the feel of the taller plants on the edge, next the long dried grass; after that the shorter dried grass next to the gravel (which I haven’t done anything to yet).

I’ve begun stitching the dark lines on the sun-bleached bench; I still have more to do there – just not sure which elements to try bringing out.

The gravel will present a bit of a challenge – I’ll probably use wandering straight stitching with a mixture of lighter and darker thread.

The most difficult element will be Ruby herself – I want to bring in the construction elements of her jacket – cuffs, the yoke and pockets, the collar. I think I’m just going to outline her hair, her face, and her hand, and leave the fine facial detail alone!

Maybe a bit more later this afternoon; if not, I’ll work on the piece again tomorrow.

What’s sticking out in the photo is my attempt to bring a bit of grey cloud to the upper right corner of the piece. I’m seriously thinking about taking out the grey thread and replacing it with the paler blue I used for the rest of the sky. The darker stitching seems a distraction. Retracing the stitching will have to be done v-e-r-y slowly so I can reuse the needle holes from the stitching I’ve taken out! Fingers crossed that it’s doable.

Grey Thread Removed From Sky

I did it – took out the grey stitching in the sky. Looks better. Check on the closeup (click on the image) and you’ll see the needle holes I now have to use as I stitch with lighter blue thread!

Two More Pair Of Pull-On Pants

I may not have been posting much but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been creating. After the original “muslin” – the beige corduroy pants (which I continued modifying – more on that later), I adjusted the pattern by adding 1 1/4″ to the top of both front and back pieces.

I cut out and sewed a pair of burgundy corduroy pants which worked without any further adjusting! Wonderful.

Navy Pants Finished

I then did the third pair in navy.  I can also wear these without further adjusting. 

For now, I actually have a pattern I can cut out and assemble and wear without any fuss – so I can do a pair of pants in under 5 hours – cut them out, sew them together, and they’re wearable.

Navy Pants

Navy Pants

I may actually have a go at redrafting this pattern to incorporate a fly-front and a waistband after all. I’m finding pulling on these pants more difficult than getting on my jeans with the front opening! Now that I have a working crotch depth, it shouldn’t be too hard to shape the top a bit and incorporate the front fly opening.

As for the beige pants: I added a waistband which I wasn’t happy with – the crotch depth was a bit too long. I cut that waistband off (losing 1/4″ from the length of the body) and added a narrower waistband – this time using leftover navy corduroy since I no longer had any of the original beige left.

4th Iteration of the Beige Pull-on Pants

They’re wearable although I found yesterday that I was hiking them up more than I had to with the burgundy pants which pretty much stay at my waist in the back when I sit down. These do slip down some – may have to do with the stiffness of the fabric – the burgundy is a much softer corduroy, although the navy seem to stay up reasonable well (I’ve got them on now). I discovered, and recorded, that my inseam on these pants is 26 1/2″, the side seam ends up at 37″. That information now takes any guesswork out of making up this pattern.

BTW – for the record, I’m a pressed crease person. I’ve been getting flack from a friend for pressing front and back creases in my pants. The crease makes them hang better, and I’m after a slightly more formal look – these may be pull on pants but I’ve made them into a cross between jeans (with jeans front pockets and pockets on the back) and a dress pants. A good pair of worsted flannel pants would have front and back creases! They’d look slept-in, if they weren’t pressed. I don’t want sweatpants! My mother would have called me a “schloomp” were I to wear unpressed pants to go out.