She Wears the Pants book

A few months ago (I think it was … May… ?), I won a copy of She Wears the Pants by Yuko Takada from a giveaway over on Measure Twice Cut Once.  Thanks again Susan!  I don’t wear pants often, but there are actually only two “pants” patterns out of the 17 patterns in the book.  Or three if you count culottes as pants, I don’t.

Fleece Jacket

So far I’ve made two of the patterns from the book, the first of which was No. 07, the Fleece Jacket.  I don’t know a whole lot about fabric, so I’m not 100% sure what she means by fleece, but I did know I didn’t want a polar fleece jacket.  I went with this purple merino knit which I would describe as thick interlock because it doesn’t roll up on the edges and is the same on both sides.  I had started to make something else with it that wasn’t working out, so I took that apart but still didn’t have quite enough for the jacket, so I decided to add contrasting grey panels to the under arm sections.  The two piece sleeve facilitated this well.

Fleece Jacket detail

There were a lot of firsts on this project (as well as my lack of experience sewing knits), including first bound buttonhole, first use of knit lining fabric, and first jacket with a lining, but I am very happy with it overall.  It is very cozy but still looks put together when worn over a dress.  I’m looking for a better button though.  The one on there now is ok, but I think it could be a lot better.

Velour Blouse

Next I made No. 05, the Velour Blouse.  I didn’t think I’d ever wear anything with velour on it, but this top is way cute.  I realise now that the eyelet and lining were both supposed to be knit for this pattern also, but because of the boxy shape it doesn’t actually make any difference if the fabrics are woven instead.  I have no problems putting this on.

I picked up the eyelet fabric at Mood when we were in NYC in June and it is super cool.  I got the last bit off the bolt so there was not enough to make much, but I was able to squeeze this pattern out of it.  I cut this in the size M even though I’m more of an L on the size chart because the jacket is a smidge big in the shoulders and the shoulders are really the only place the blouse needs to fit well.  It turned out perfect!

In retrospect I should’ve picked a lining that matched the velour a little better because you can see the seam where the facing and lining are joined on the outside through the holes in the eyelet, but I doesn’t bother me that much.  As soon as it gets warmer I know this will be a springtime staple!

She Wears the Pants top half

I would not wear these garments together because they don’t match at all, but here they are for giggles!  If I make the culottes I could have a whole mismatched She Wears the Pants outfit… (though I have a vintage culottes pattern I want to try first)  There are a couple other patterns from this book I want to try (draped mini dress? YES), and I think it would be worth buying if I hadn’t won it first.  I did notice a few mistakes in the labelling of the pattern pieces both on the pattern sheet and on the diagrams accompanying the instructions, but it is relatively obvious something is wrong and easy enough to figure out after realising this.

Since quilting is “just” a hobby for me, I feel inclined to think all aspects of it should be at least reasonably enjoyable.  What’s the point in a hobby you don’t enjoy?  That seems silly!  This is more or less why I’ve given up free-motion quilting, but we’ll discuss that another time.  Today I want to write about pattern drafting.

I draw a lot of pictures of quilts, both digitally and in a falling-apart washi-tape-frankenstein graph paper pad.  Some of these I decide I actually want to sew, and they become “patterns,” for which I have this basic process:

  1. Make it in Illustrator
  2. Decide how big it’s going to be and scale design appropriately
  3. Convince someone to print it for me
  4. Measure each block and cut freezer paper squares/rectangles to match
  5. Trace pattern onto freezer paper
  6. Prefold the freezer paper
  7. Sew the blocks using freezer paper foundation piecing method

There’s nothing particularly objectionable about any of these processes, but the one I’m not particularly fond of is number 5.  Tracing is just no fun for me.

Storm at Sea digital design

Many of you may be aware I’ve been working on a Storm at Sea quilt for a long time. Quite a long time. One of the delays on this one is that I’ve over-planned it, but that too is a topic for another time. The other delay is I can’t be bothered to make very many freezer paper patterns of each block.  The “center” piece I’ve only made one pattern and the long diamond I’ve made two. This means I can only sew one or two at a time, which makes the whole thing very tedious and time-consuming. Why don’t I make more patterns? Because I don’t like tracing.

Star Quilts book cover

So what’s wrong with tracing the pattern?  Besides the actual act of tracing (yuck!), I’ve gathered my method is a bit inaccurate.  I’ve been reading Mary Knapp’s Star Quilts, and there is a lot of great info about drafting in there (and it is relevant to my Storm At Sea, just ignore the pictures of my various plans, it’s not going to look like that anymore), in particular, accuracy. Ms. Knapp used to be a science teacher and it shows; There is half a page on “making sure your square is really square.”

How is my method inaccurate? (Are my squares really square?) As you can see in the image above, my pattern is a bit crumpled.  That’s the one I had printed from Illustrator.  That’s the one I was tracing from until I lost it.  That was when it got crumpled.  I found it again, but if I’d decided to make more patterns while it was missing, I would have traced one of the patterns I’d already traced. I do this all the time. This is where we run into something called generation loss.

Pattern Drafting

Tracing is an imperfect drafting method (obviously any time a human is involved things are going to be imperfect, but let’s still strive for the best result possible).  I am starting with something I’ve drawn with the aid of a computer, and since Illustrator introduced smart guides, I feel like my designs in it are preeeetty accurate.  Next, it’s being printed on a laserjet printer, with heat and magnets and magic, but probably only negligible distortion is happening there.  Finally, I’m tracing it with a marker, which has some width to it even if it’s very fine, generally a Sharpie ultra fine point or a Sharpie pen.

If I used a sharp pencil, that would probably be better, but I feel like the graphite gets on the iron.  The iron only belongs to me by marriage, so I don’t want gunk it up, nor do I want to add any more cleaning to my busy schedule, so I’ll just stick with the Sharpies… Or will I?

Back on the generation loss, any time something is copied, copied from a copy, so on and so forth, information is lost.  That’s because each copy is a little bit different.  After enough copies of copies, nothing is really the same as the original.  It’s like when you get a form from an office that has clearly been photocopied from a photocopy umpteen times, because no one has seen the original in decades, and it’s all garbled. I got one of these from the U.S. Government recently.  It makes me cringe, because that’s me just on a larger scale.  The more times I trace that pattern because I misplaced my original, the less accurate it gets….

But I had a revelation!  All I have to do is fold, and there is no more step number 5, no more tracing.  This idea is partly from Mary Knapp– she utilizes a complex grid for all of her designs, which is created by drawing lines down the center, using a protractor, and making shapes based on the intersections.  I worked out this same sort of grid and intersections can be made just by folding the paper.  I’ve only been trying it on some simpler ideas so far, but there’s nothing to stop me from using it on a more complex design as well.  I could also potentially skip the printing, just note the size of each block on the computer, and continue from there.

I see only two main consequences from using this method.  The first is if the design is quite complex, the grid needed to get the intersections required to accomplish the design could become a bit confusing as to which folds define a shape and which folds are just the underlying grid.  I have to really know what my design looks like when I’m sewing, or it could go all wrong.  The second issue is of course accuracy in folding.  Just like accuracy in drawing the lines, accuracy in folding the lines is crucial to success.  Though despite all my years of experience in drawing, using a ruler to draw a straight line versus folding a straight line is no contest.

Just Fold It

I knew there was a reason for making all that origami as a child.

Butternut Stew

Well, the day has come…. I didn’t write this post beforehand and schedule it to post while I was at my job. Hopefully, this doesn’t mean I’m falling behind, I am determined to see Vegan MoFo through to the end!  I actually have a few drafts started, but I’ve been working on my quilt instead of finishing them I guess.

Anyway, today’s photo is Curried Lentil, Squash, and Apple Stew (pg 55) from Chloe’s Kitchen. I added a bit of quinoa because it was left over from the California Chipotle Chop with Agave-Lime Vinaigrette (pg 49). We really enjoy this cookbook. The recipes are straight-forward and don’t contain any exotic ingredients that can’t be found at the regular grocery. Some are a bit preparation-time-intensive, but they are well worth it!

Eggplant Timbales Deconstructed

This dish was strongly based on the eggplant timbales in Chloe’s Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli. The garlic white bean dip is awesome! However I made a few adaptations to the recipe. Instead of grilling the eggplant, I precooked it a cast iron frying pan, and I substituted various summer squashes from my CSA share for the mushrooms. For the marinara sauce, I used Lucini Hearty Artichoke Tomato Sauce, which I thought coordinated well with the other flavors in this recipe. We don’t own any ramekins, so I used the ingredients to make a sort of eggplant lasagna in a glass casserole dish, then served squares of it with the tomato sauce and white bean dip. Delicious and colorful!

Quilter's Complete GuideQuilter’s Complete Guide.  Actually, I don’t read very many of the instructions, I just look at the pictures.  Though I’m getting into some of the more complex blocks, so a little more reading has been required.  I’m planning on making my quilt the American double size, so I will need at least 80″ x 90″ total.  This is 7200 square inches.  Just the other day, I calculated the blocks I’ve made so far add up to 2664 square inches, which makes my quilt 37% complete!  (or 32% if you account for the 5% shrinkage from the quilting…)  I don’t think there will be enough block patterns in the book to make the whole quilt, so I’m going to have to look for some other patterns online or at the library.  I have read good things about Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns by Barbara Brackman, so I will be looking for that during my next library visit.

Here’s a section of my sampler quilt so far:

sampler quilt

The main reason I’m working on this is because most of my quilting knowledge I’ve acquired by making it up as I go along or from tidbits I saw on PBS Create, so I want to learn some of these techniques the “right” way… Like partial seams.  Those are pretty neat.  I really like how my LeMoyne Star turned out.  Also, I only have twin size blankets, so it would be nice to have one that fits my double bed a little better….

Anyway, from here on out I will post some of my blocks here on the blog.