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.

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.

The “Muslin”

It’s close to two weeks since I posted anything. That’s because I’ve been stuck on the latest quilt – I have this lovely collection of jellyroll strips – I’d like to do something with them using diamonds – and the 2 1/2″ strip width limit has me blocked!

Jellyroll Collection

I’ve tried sorting the strips in pairs (which is one way I could assemble diamonds by cutting each vertical half diamond from the strips and pair them up):

Jellyroll collection with contrast

However, I lose the flow of colour I’m looking for if I pair them this way, and I can’t see a way to bring in the perfectly contrasted turquoise grunge fabric. So I gathered up the strips and set them aside for now.

I returned to my photograph of Ruby and played with it – enlarging her 50% and then extrapolating to a final panel size. I’ve cut out the backing muslin but got no further than that. What’s stopping me with this project is trying to figure out how to make the mud flat look wet – not there yet.

I needed something I could accomplish – I made 10 iPhone cases to give away. I’ve passed on three of the ones I made for myself so I decided I should make some to have in my gift stash.

iPhone Cases to give away

And then I finally got to the corduroy that has been sitting on my serger table for well over a year and decided to make pants.

I’ve capitulated – pull-on pants is what I need to make, not pants with a fly front and fitted waistband. I’m tired of wearing pants that are too tight in the waist (in spite of the elastic gussets I’ve inserted in the sides of many of them). So I went searching for a pattern online.

I started with the Jalie Pattern 3243 for pull-on pants. I bought the PDF version which sends me two files – one I can print on my home printer – that means 25-30 pages that I then have to organize and tape together to create a pattern array before tracing the size I want to make; and one I can take to a print shop and have printed on blueprint size paper.

I did the latter. I went to Staples and after much discussion with the gal (who clearly has never sewn anything in her short life) I decided to print the sheet based on the very limited information I could find on the pattern (all it said was “copy shop 36″). I asked for a 36″ x 48” sheet. When I measured the test block, what I ended up with was a pattern at 88% of full size! At $14 per printed sheet I wasn’t going to try printing it again, so I took it home and started doing some math.

This is one of those pattern with 27 sizes printed as one. I checked the pattern size info and decided my hip measurement was a size V (US size 9), my waist was a size Z (US size 13). To get those measurements on this 88% printout, I needed to upsize those measurements to a Z and a CC.

I marked the pattern accordingly using a bright highlight pen, used my French curve to make the adjustment from hip (size Z) to waist (size CC). I traced the resulting pattern, cut it out, placed it on my corduroy, and looked at it for a day before cutting the fabric, forgetting that corduroy has to be cut all in the same direction! (I didn’t realize I’d done that until I went to press the side seams and could see the colour difference).

Because this is my first attempt at this pattern, it really qualifies as a “muslin”. I’m not expecting it to work out perfectly but the changes I make will inform any adjustments I need to make to the pattern and the project might just turn out to be a wearable garment. So I carry on.

I don’t like the pocket shape and size they provide; I substitute my jeans-shaped pocket instead and make it deep enough to hold my iPhone. I also want back pockets – I have enough fabric to include a pair. I also cut out the waist facings in corduroy, realizing I may want to change that for a batik in the end.

I make one other adjustment. No pants pattern is going to fit my body with scant bum and thin thighs. At one of my visits to Sandra Betzina I learned how to get rid of the excess fabric under my bum and down my thighs by sewing a fisheye dart down the centre back of the pants. What I didn’t anticipate was how that adjustment would affect the centre back crotch length – more about that later.

I make the front pockets; I construct the back pockets. I stitch the centre front and back crotch seams; next the side seams – although when I held up the constructed front and back against my body I was pretty sure the pants were going to end up too small to get on! But I carry on, anyway – this is a “muslin” I tell myself – see what it turns out like.

I add the waistband, put the elastic in, and try the pants on – this is a “muslin”, right?

I can actually get the pants on over my hips, I need to tighten the elastic quite a bit. I hem the pants but I have a problem – the back crotch length is about 1 1/2″ too short. I wear the pants anyway and my turtleneck shirt keeps pulling out when I sit and the pants slip down in back.

So the next day, I take off the waist facings, add a yoke to the back of the pants increasing the centre back length by 1 1/2″. Here’s where I decide I don’t want to reuse the corduroy waist facings so I cut out and attach a new set in a complementary batik (not as heavy a fabric so the waist should gather more easily). Inserted the elastic and zigzagged a seam down the middle of the elastic to keep it from twisting – but in order to do that I had to stretch the elastic to fit the waist and in the process the elastic is stretched making the waist loose.

I wear the pants again, anyway – just a “muslin”, right? I find myself constantly tucking in my shirt again.

So this morning I painstakingly took out the zigzag stitching, opened the inside side seam to gain access to the elastic, shortened it quite a bit more, then instead of doing a zigzag down the middle, I simply vertically stitched across both side seams, the centre front, the centre back and in the middle of the back on each side – that will keep the elastic in place and avoid stretching it.

The Pull-on Pants after adding a back yoke

The waist of the pants is now definitely tighter. I plan on wearing them again today to test out the fit. Furthermore, I send the PDF file to a friend with access to a blueprint printer. I should have a new 100% printout of the pattern to work from and then I will make up a second pair using the navy corduroy I bought a couple of days ago.

The pants fitting saga continues.

Carrying Case For iPhone

Finally finished the face masks two days ago. Those last 20 were difficult to do – I’d reached my boredom threshold and could barely force myself to work on them. However, I got them all done and washed, and I delivered them yesterday.

The Final 30 Face Masks – Delivered

Now on to some other sewing.

I’ve been wanting to make a small carrying bag for my iPhone. I find the version of the phone (XR) I have now is just a bit too large to carry comfortably in a pants pocket. So I’ve taken to using an embroidered glasses case (that has a side pocket with a zipper in it). I was given my first one by a friend. I added a cord to the open end and turned it into an iPhone case.

Cross Stitched iPhone Case

I have a second one – also a repurposed glasses case to which I’d added both a cord and a zippered side pocket.

Remodeled Glasses Case

But that one, too, is beginning to get a bit worn. Time to make a new one. The challenge was figuring out how to assemble the double pocket case. A small zippered bag is no big deal. An opening ended case is also no big deal. But doing them together in a single carrying case took a bit of trial and error.

I made one yesterday which didn’t work out but in the process I figured out how to construct the iPhone case.

First put the zipper in the side of the case (complete with lining) as if I were making a zippered bag, but leaving one side and end open. Then tack the zippered bag lining to the outer bag and now (with the zipper partly open to facilitate turning the bag right side out out later) attach a second lining to the open end (remember to place cord between bag and lining with ends included in this seam). Top stitch the bag/lining seam. Then sew the side seam of lining/bag. Turn bag/lining right side out, finish by folding in the open “bottom” end of the lining, stitching closed. Push the lining inside the bag between zippered bag lining and bag outer layer.

Trial Carrying Case With Zipper

Once I had figured out I had to partially make the zippered bag, then the open-ended bag, the process went quickly. I used a scrap of quilted batik fabric I had on hand as a test piece. Worked fine. Phone fits.

Now, I’m in the process of embroidering a cross stitch design on a piece of linen so I can make a fancier case.

New Case – In Progress

Here is the iPhone case finished (Click here for instructions):

Finished iPhone Case

[Click here for a more detailed set of instructions.]