Friday, February 26, 2010

summer 2010 wardrobe underway

I apologize for the low-light, bad photos, but it's snowing like gangbusters outside and it's the best I could do. Here are the first two items of Daughter's Summer 2010 wardrobe:

ladybug dress

floral dress with contrast facings/bottom band

This is a great pattern. It turns out my kid actually has pretty strong opinions where her clothing is concerned, and has been asking for more dresses/jumpers that have "straps, and buttons on the shoulders." Unfortunately she has outgrown the New Look pattern I used for several years to make button-shoulder jumpers. This year we got lucky and found Simplicity 5489 (on sale for 99 cents, awww yeah). The only differences between the old and new patterns are rounded shoulder straps instead of square, and the bias band at the bottom. The construction, however, is exactly the same. I barely glanced at the instructions, just enough to confirm the steps, and I was able to whip these out during naptimes over the past couple of days. I would say this pattern is good for an advanced beginner.

The ladybug fabric was a special request from Daughter - I made her one with the old pattern in that exact fabric (but I can't find it on the blog, and frankly this blog is an emotional landmine for me so I stopped searching for it). I wanted to do a contrast band of red pindot at the bottom but Daughter insisted it be made entirely of the ladybug print. I had 1 yard + 15 inches, which is all we could get, and the pattern calls for 1 yard of the main print and 3/4 yard of the contrast. I did some seriously creative cutting to get the bias band. Then, to hide the seam, I stitched on some vintage black ric-rac from my grandma's stash. The buttons are also ladybugs.

The floral dress was a result of my WalMart fabric run the other day. I didn't know how much to buy, so I went with 1 yard of each print, figuring I could make something out of that. I love how it came out - I used the stripe for the facings as well as the bias band and the pale green color looks really pretty on Daughter. She is having a serious love affair with ric-rac and has asked me to put it on just about everything - in this case it functions nicely to separate the two prints.

I'm going to ballpark it and say each dress cost about $3. The buttons and trim were from stash, and the interfacing (at 63 cents per yard) adds a negligible amount. I generally shoot for less than $5 per homemade item if I can do it, so these qualify as frugal in my book.

I'd love to sew something else right away, but the weekend will be spent knitting up an Etsy order. Hopefully I'll be back to working up Summer clothing next week...I am desperate for sunshine and warmth to return!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

slow clothes movement

Oh boy, if you've been on board with what I've been talking about lately, go read this! It's good stuff, and comes very close to articulating what's been churning around in my head.

Did you read it? Ok, ok, let's talk about it, yes?

Do you like shopping? I hate it. I go into a store and look at the racks and racks of clothes, and I kind of freak out. Too many choices, too much useless "fashion" for me. I have become almost painfully practical, and cannot deal with the fast-changing styles in the store.

But, I admit, I also dislike shops like Goodwill and Amvets. I'm all for hand-me-downs and will take them from people I know, whose homes I've seen and whose care of said items was good. AJ's physical therapist, who has also become a good friend, brings me enormous bags of beautiful boy clothes, and has just offered me several pairs of winter boots for my son. Oh yes! I will definitely take those. But I haven't gotten on the used clothing train as far as second-hand shops. There is nothing wrong with shopping there, I have no problem with anyone else doing it, it just isn't for me at this time.

Rather, I like to buy and make very classic, standard wardrobe items and then wear them out. And I like to either find made-in-the-USA if I can, or make it in the USA, specifically, in my house.

It has long bothered me that the people making our cheap, mass-market clothing are likely very, very poor people, young children, or overworked and abused women in oppressive countries. I think we tend to believe that because the US has strict labor laws pertaining to children and to a legal number of hours worked by adults, other countries do, too.

HA. They do not. The 12 year-olds making our t-shirts in the Philippines are not subject to labor laws, I don't care if they are working under the Target umbrella. And I think it is kind of important to remember that. It is important to know what happens to get those inexpensive clothing items into your closet.

Sure, fabric production is not much better, but perhaps by reducing our insatiable desire for newer and more fashionable clothing we can reduce demand for these cheap items. At least by purchasing the fabric rather than the finished good, I have removed one part of the slave-labor chain.

That said, I broke my self-imposed rule of sewing only from stash today. Our local WalMart is eliminating its fabric department, keeping only notions from now on.

Considering most of my fabric stash is small cuts (1 yard) originally intended for quilting, I've been having trouble scraping up enough to make dresses for Daughter. So when I heard about the WM fabric clearance, I went to check it out.

In this case, spending a little money will turn out to be very frugal in the long run!

For about $30 I got enough fabric to make at least 3 dresses and about 4 or 5 sets of pajamas. This flannel (plus a red piece that is currently being washed), was $1.48 per yard, making even the largest pajamas for Daughter about $4.50. But if I cut carefully I'm betting I can squeeze more (like extra pants for AJ) out of some of these fabrics (where gender-appropriate, of course).

I'm picturing a fall school dress for Daughter - main body being the large print, collar and cuffs/pockets in the small print. About $5 for this. It will be perfect with some white tights (or better yet, handmade knee socks!) and brown buckle shoes. Love!

There are some other pieces too, which we cut right into for a sundress, and a large cut of dark indigo denim for another fall dress (also being washed right now so unavailable for photographing).

And we need to get the kids involved! Cripes, it is so sad to hear about moms and grandmas who cooked and sewed but told their offspring to get out of the is a story I have heard more than once. (Princess getup is optional.)

Or how about some good old-fashioned repurposing? That was big in the "old days" too - you got a hand-me-down dress from your cousin/older sister/neighbor, and your mother made it fit. Gosh, I don't even know anyone who knows how to do that (I do not...I've never learned alteration skills, though I'd like to). Even Martha Stewart is getting in on it - next time one of Hubs' dress shirts wears out, I'm making one of these.

I mean, there is definitely the argument to be made that trying to clothe your family from handmade and repurposed clothing is time and labor intensive. Yeah, it sure is! That is why I am starting my Daughter's summer dresses in February! But if you step back from the relentless pursuit of more, and instead make do with fewer, better items, it could be done. There is a great post about that here, regarding buying and caring for very high quality items for your children, especially if they can be passed down. Why do our kids have to have 5 or 6 or more sweaters, when really 1 or 2 will do? My Daughter currently has about 10 pairs of pants in her drawer (several were Christmas gifts). She never even wears about 5 of them because she doesn't like them.

However, I certainly do not advocate going back to a time when the woman of the house spent every waking minute cooking, cleaning, and sewing. I can't imagine it, really - if I had to make my husband's every sock, I would keel right over. He has humongous feet and it takes me weeks to get through a big boring pair of socks for him! All I'm saying is that I wish we were all a bit more conscientious about our clothing (and our food, too...but that's for another day!) and participated a bit more in the process.

I know I am largely preaching to the choir here, and I promise I won't always rant and rave about this stuff. What I love so much about the internet and the blog community is the prevalence of thoughtful, like-minded women (and some men, too) who are taking back responsibility for what is worn, made, cooked, grown, etc. in and around their homes.

Boring, dreary February is almost over. Easter is coming soon for those of us who celebrate, and hot on the heels of Easter will be Spring and sun and warmth. Are you ready? Let's make stuff!

Friday, February 19, 2010

why sew?

When someone finds out that I made something (I very rarely announce it, but am often asked), I typically get one of two reactions. Either the person reacts with awe and respect, saying "wow, that's great...I could never do that!" Or they react with a sort of thinly veiled contempt, sneering "uh, don't they sell _______ in stores?"

Both of those make me feel sort of embarrassed and sad. The second because it's kind of nasty, implying that by sewing or knitting something I am wasting my time. The first because anyone could knit and sew, if they really wanted/had to. I certainly was not born knowing how to knit or sew - I was shown the basics by my mom and then worked and worked at getting better. I failed miserably many times, and tossed out a few "wadders" along the way. If you give yourself permission to fail, heck, you can learn anything.

So why do I sew (and knit, and crochet, and quilt)? And why do some women find it abhorrent? It's an interesting question.

I guess I do it because I get immense satisfaction from making something with my own two hands. It's a sense of accomplishment. And there is a certain gratification a homemaker and mother feels when something she has done actually stays done. Great blog post about that here. So much of housework is dirty and is nice to make something pretty that stays pretty!

I also do it to save a bit of money when I can. Much like knitting, sewing can be done inexpensively if one is not tied to fancy name brands, gadgets, and equipment. A good machine, decent shears, good quality needles and threads, and fabric bought on sale (and don't discount the bargain table at places like WalMart - you can often find mill-ends and overstock fabrics that are of good quality for $1.50/yd), and you're on your way. Easy patterns go on sale for 99 cents all the time, and can be reused. I like to find 3 or 4 good patterns that Daughter and I both like and make them over and over with different buttons and trims for fun.

And I guess a big reason I do it is to keep handmade alive and well. My dad and I were chatting a few weeks ago about gardening...he often tells about the amazing gardens family members would grow when he was a child. They were Italian immigrants, and they knew how to provide for themselves. I want to grow a garden this summer and I have very little idea how to begin. Dad will help me as much as he can (he has successfully grown basic garden items like tomatoes, zukes, and herbs for years), but there is no one else for me to turn to for guidance. And I think that is sad.

Likewise, with sewing, I know my Nana (Dad's mom) could alter clothing, but I'm not sure how much of a seamstress she was. My other grandma could make almost anything - holy cow she was an amazing crafter - and I know she sewed because when she married my grandpa he bought her a Singer Featherweight with all the attachments (yes, we still have it). My mom learned to sew on that machine and tells about making simple shorts and tops when she was a teenager, because back then it was so much cheaper to sew than to buy ready-made. My great-aunt knit herself entire fine-gauge suits, consisting of jacket and skirt, on US size 1 and 2 needles. As a child, I would sometimes wear the pair of gray, yellow and white wool argyle socks she knit for my Dad. But that's about it on the sewing/knitting front. Other family members surely learned to do these things at some point, but no one does it anymore except me and my mom.

I have grown pretty tired of picking through endless racks of the same clothing in the stores. How many times have I been out with my kids and run into someone with the exact same outfit on their child? More than I like to think about! And when I look at the labels in those Target pants and Old Navy shirts they all say "Made In (poor foreign nation)." It used to be that imports were something special. Now we import quite literally everything. And I don't know exactly how to word it, but that makes me uncomfortable.

It used to be that people had just a few outfits, and one or two dressy items, which were of excellent quality and kept nice so they would last. I have tended toward purchasing cheaper clothing because I thought it more important that our drawers be filled for some reason. So off to Target we would go, buying 5 pairs of pants, 6 t-shirts, a package of socks, and maybe a dress or two. Then Christmas and birthdays come along, and before long the kids' drawers and shelves are overflowing with outfits that will be worn just a few times before being outgrown.

Now, I will never claim to be any kind of ace seamstress, but if I put my money towards good materials, and invest a little (ok, a lot) of my time, I can create a small but sturdy wardrobe for my children, supplemented with some higher quality store-bought things. And if we're talking about summer clothes, I can do this for myself as well (I have not conquered tailored pants or shirts for cold weather, and I live in jeans anyway). I can make nightclothes for all who need them, and knit warm socks and sweaters (necessary when it is chilly for about 8 months of the year).

By doing this I can feel just a bit less dependent on big companies and foreign nations for the things I need. I don't like the fact that, as a nation, we have given up control of our needs to anyone who will provide them. No one knows how to do for themselves anymore.

And the best part of making some of our things is that Daughter gets a real kick out of it. She goes through my patterns with me, chooses fabrics she likes, and picks out rick-rack and buttons to embellish her clothes. What a thrill, to be able to provide her what she wants while she is still young and doesn't feel the need to be exactly like her peers!

So that was sort of rambly, but it is hard for me to put into words why I do what I do.

Why do you sew or knit or crochet or quilt or can or preserve or keep chickens in your backyard? What does it mean to you?

Monday, February 15, 2010


I am an Olympics junkie. Especially the winter games. I can and will watch any event, even curling. Even luge (though I watch that through my fingers out of sheer terror). I even watch the biathlon, which is totally boring. I can't believe it's been 4 years since the last winter games. Four years ago right now I discovered I'd accidentally gotten pregnant (I know, right? Seems like yesterday...), and I spent the Olympics knitting mittens and hats for Dulaan.

This year, it's all about the finishing.

Here we have my 5 WIPs. Clockwise from lower left we have:
  1. Multicolored ankle socks, one complete, one just begun, started July 2009. The yarn is acrylic and ugly, so I lost interest in these slipper-like socks after the first one.
  2. Baby cardigan with tulip pattern for my cousin's baby girl, due in about 2 weeks. Back, both fronts, and 1/2 of first sleeve are done.
  3. Bo-ring putty color socks for Hubs. About 2/3 of first sock done. Did I mention these are BORING?
  4. Giant cream-colored sweater, started back in the day when I had to get up at 3 a.m. and feed AJ. It was mindless, and that's what made me put it down.
  5. And finally, my second stab at Conwy socks in a burnt orange color.
That's it! Not too bad! I'm hoping to finish the first sleeve of that baby cardi and get going on the second today/tonight. Then it needs seaming and edging and all that. This is the most urgent WIP because the baby is coming very soon, and after that I will work the other projects as my interest dictates. But I would like to get them all completed or nearly so before I cast on for anything new.

We're all fighting a nasty headcold with sinus pressure and misery...going on 4 weeks of the same illness in our household. Wishing temps would climb out of the 20s so I could air out the rooms a bit. We're so closed in at this time of year, and the germs just circulate among us. Ugh.

Though it does provide a good excuse to curl up with tea, an afghan, olympics on the tube, and some knitting.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

a valentine

I bought some red flannel a few years ago - early fall 2007, I think - as part of a big fabric purchase for etsy sales and Daughter's wardrobe. I got several things made from that collection of goods, but then I got pregnant and most of my sewing plans went right out the window. It was too hot, I was too uncomfortable, etc., etc.

Now Daughter is outgrowing her clothing and pajamas by the minute. Her ankles and wrists are hanging out of everything she owns. What kind of mama would I be if I let that stand?

I want to continue on my frugal path, so I made her a Valentine's Day gift with that old cut of red flannel!

This sweet nightgown is about the easiest pattern I've ever sewn. It is Simplicity 9292, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Three pattern pieces, people. Three. Awesome.

Another view. The sleeves are 3/4 length, and I don't know how that's going to go over with Daughter, so I did not make any more of these gowns yet (though I have another piece of stashed flannel waiting).

The nightgown is a pull-on style, with bias tape around the neckline. The pattern called for 1" single fold, but I only had 1/2" double fold on hand. So, oh well, that's what I used. Honestly, when using it folded in half to face a neckline, I can't see a difference.

I also have an enormous stash of laces in 2 yard increments. I think they were samples provided to the shop where I used to work. Not sure how I ended up with a big bag of them, but who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth? I used some pretty eyelet trim on this gown.

Sleeve detail with eyelet lace trim. I just love this treatment, and it avoids having to turn under a traditional hem (I just pinned the lace to the right side, then turned it all under, using the edge of the lace as a stitching guide). I toyed with the idea of embroidering something below the neckline, to jazz it up, but then decided I liked the simplicity of it the way it is.

I did run into a bit of a problem when cutting out the pattern. I'm not sure what giant children the pattern makers had in mind, but the size 4 nightgown measures 34" finished length. My daughter is tall for her age (almost 5) and the gown would have dragged on the floor at that length. I ended up cutting off about 3" at the hemline.

Because it is so long, it did not fit on the 2 yards of flannel I had.

See it hanging off the bottom there? Poop. What to do?

Eureka! For a simple pattern like this, on fabric with no directional print or nap, it doesn't matter which grainline you use. So I just turned the fabric, folded the ends in to the middle, and cut on those folds. Reminds me of Ma Ingalls saying "we must cut our coat to fit the cloth." Yay, I squeezed this nightgown out of less fabric than the pattern called for! I feel so delightfully thrifty when that happens.

I sure hope she likes it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Thank you all for your good and sound advice regarding my discount dilemma. In the end, I wrote what I hope was a kind and nicely worded email back, explaining that I would not be able to discount my goods. Frankly, I think my work is well worth the small dollar amount I charge, and besides, I already include shipping in my prices. If I make 4 items instead of 1, I realize no savings (no "economies of scale" for my fellow business majors), because it just means buying more yarn and spending more time. If she wants cheap, fast product, I'm sure she can find something on diaper swappers or ebay, and I kindly suggested she look there as well.

Moving on...

So. February. Every year February tries its hardest to take me down. I fight it, but oh man, the dark gray days, the boringness, the squirrelly is hard to keep from going crazy. I don't want to go shopping and spend unnecessarily, but where else can we go besides the mall? We are restless and bored. And sick. Did I mention the sickness in the house? Oh my word. First I was sick over the last couple weeks of January, then Hubs picked it up, then Daughter (and this is the sickest she has ever been, with a deep chest cough and clogged head), and now of course the littlest member is hacking, coughing and gagging while walking around with twin streams of you-know-what running down his face. I wander around the house, breaking up arguments, wiping noses, doing dishes, washing snot-encrusted sheets and pillowcases...I pick up my knitting and put it back down, I look at the sewing machine and sigh, thinking I'd much rather curl up under an afghan and close my eyes for just a few moments while Daughter watches a video...

Yeah. February. It sucks.

I've been slowly, ever so slowly, finishing up a few sewing projects. First up, the bathrobe I posted about last week.

This pattern is a size 5, and Daughter is turning 5 in a couple months, but it is still enormous on her. What a little twig! Commercial patterns are often like that, though. As you can see it is quite long, and the shoulder seams are falling off her actual shoulders. The sleeves are too long, requiring rolling. But it's all good, because when I make something like this, I like it to last, and she will wear this for several seasons.

Despite how crooked it looks here, it is sewn properly and is straight. The too-bigness causes it to hang unevenly in front. Also, the belt carriers are missing because when I finished it late at night, Daughter was sound asleep and I couldn't measure for where to place them. They are made...let's see how long it takes me to actually measure and stitch the silly things.

Back view. Overall we are both quite pleased with this robe. And the best part, for me, is that there are no characters on it. I can't stand sleepwear with Disney crap all over it, nor can I stand the feel of that polyester fabric they use to manufacture it (though we do have some of it...Daughter has received a few items as gifts).

I'm also stitching up a Valentine's Day gift for her, and that's almost done. I should have it finished up tonight or tomorrow. I had another eureka moment while cutting out the pattern, which I'll share. Then it will be on to planning some summer dresses and shorts - I swear the kid has grown like 6 inches over the winter, and her shorts were all too short last year as it is. She'll need shorts, sundresses, new sneakers, socks, a new sunhat...and then there are the school clothes...oh goodness. Time to go stash-diving and see what we can come up with.

Friday, February 05, 2010

etsy: to discount or not to discount?

I have recently received several inquiries via etsy from people wanting a discount on my handknit wool soakers.

The most recent was from someone wanting 4 newborn soakers at a discount.

At first I was angry and insulted. I hand make these soakers with the same attention and care I give to items for my own family. I carefully hand wash and air dry each one separately, then pack and ship, all as quickly as possible. My prices are very, very low and I agonized over raising them by $2 when the price of the wool I use went up and I was making even less money. I tell customers they will receive their item within two weeks, but it is more often one week because I work quickly, putting aside my personal projects to get these soakers out the door. Once I have someone's money, I feel guilty until they have their item.

When I do the math on these soakers, I am "earning" probably about $2 per hour, and each newborn soaker takes probably about 4 hours all together. I don't know for sure because I'm just a stay-home mom trying to earn a little extra student loan money around my kids' schedules, so it's not like I sit down and make one soaker start-to-finish.

And therein lies my disappointment and sadness when someone asks me for a discount on this handmade, high-quality, long-wearing, extremely useful item. If you browse etsy, which I did when trying to set my prices, you'd see that I charge much less than most people, including those who make soakers and longies from recycled wool sweaters. I'm not saying those don't require work, but it is less work to cut up a sweater and seam it into pants than it is to hand knit those pants from scratch.

I offer a newborn soaker for $18. This is an item you would use literally every single day around the clock. Is that not worth $18? I might also add that I INCLUDE SHIPPING in my price! So after the cost of the wool (about $4 or $5), first-class shipping ($2), and etsy/paypal fees (about another $1), I am already down to $11 earned. Divide that by 4 hours, plus the driving to go get the wool, and I am making a pittance.

But I do it because that pittance is more than zero, and I can do it from the comfort of my sofa. And sometimes I have a really busy month where I can earn an extra $100 to send off to the student loan people. Hubs always says to keep that money for myself, but I like to feel I am contributing something to the family. It is a point of pride. Yes, sometimes I'll use a few dollars to order something I want or need, but more often than not, any money I earn goes toward a family need.

So I would love to make these 4 soakers. I would prefer to make them at full price. However, I feel fairly confident that when I write back to this potential customer and tell her that, she will not order. Am I cutting off my nose to spite my face? Should I go ahead and offer her a discount of a few dollars off each? Is it better to take, say, $60 for 4 soakers rather than $72 just to make some money? I'm really not sure. As etsy buyers and sellers, what do you all think?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

CPH at last

One of my 2009 knitting plans was to make a Central Park Hoodie. Everyone else has made one, and I see them all the time at knitting guild meetings - in fact, the designer, Heather Lodinsky, is a member of my guild!

I managed to knit all the pieces last year. In fact, I think they were done around the end of July/beginning of August because I remember knitting them while Hubs was in Vegas for 8 days.

At some point during the holidays I started assembling the parts and knitting the hood. Then I had to pick up the 308 stitches up one side, over the hood, and down the other side, and knit the ribbing. Finally, I spent 3 or 4 days sewing in the sleeve caps and seaming the sleeves and sides. BLEH! I hate seaming!

But I loooooooove my sweater:

I know the photos are grainy and awful. That right there is the famous 2 megapixel camera that I refuse to replace.

Anyway, I just love this sweater! It's so well designed, and the first adult size sweater I've made for myself that actually fits right. It still needs some kind of closure...perhaps one large wooden button with corresponding loop? Or a toggle closure of some sort? I couldn't wait to wear it, though...button or no, I've been pulling it on almost daily. And this sucker is WARM. Wow, is it warm.

The stats:
pattern - central park hoodie by Heather Lodinsky
yarn - less than 3 skeins of Lion Fisherman wool in nature's brown**
needles - Denise interchangeable, US 6 and 8
time period - Springish 2009 - January 2010, though it is actually a fast knit and could be completed rather quickly if worked steadily

And did I mention it is WARM?!? We keep our thermostat at a chilly 60-62F, a remnant of our old ways in our first house, which was so crappy and drafty that raising the thermostat above 62 was something akin to lighting hundred dollar bills on fire. We keep the heat low and wear wool around here, and this sweater actually has me sweating half the time. I highly recommend this yarn if you are knitting in a very cold climate. For my birthday I cashed a $15 rebate check and bought myself (with coupons of course) 3 more skeins of this wonderful yarn in the oatmeal colorway. I see another sweater for mama on the horizon!

*(I purchased 4 skeins with coupons at Joann Fabrics back when AJ was in the NICU...since I only used 3 this heavy wool sweater cost me less than $13.50. Sewing may not save you much anymore, but you can certainly knit cheaply if you know where to look and are not tied to expensive brand names.)

Monday, February 01, 2010

new sewing trick!

I was recently watching some sewing show on PBS (America Sews, maybe?) and saw something so, so enlightening - I could not wait to use this trick.

The guest was showing how to set in a sleeve, and she said something along the lines of "you should never have to gather a sleeve to make it fit." She said it is not the 1980s anymore and unless you are making some sort of period costume with leg-o-mutton puffy sleeves, you should NOT have to gather a sleeve cap. If you do, the pattern is written/drawn poorly.


Friends, if you have been hanging around here long enough, you'll recall that I would rather chew tinfoil than gather in a sleeve, especially on a tiny garment for a child. It is pure torture, and the main reason why I make a lot of jumpers and sleeveless sundresses for my daughter.

Here is the trick, plain and simple: you stitch the sleeve to the garment before you stitch the underarm or side seams, so the sleeve is going in flat.

Place the sleeve, which has more fabric and needs to be eased in, on top, and the garment on the bottom, right sides together.

Pin the markings first (for example, large dot to shoulder seam, small dots together, notches, etc).

Then, carefully fold the two layers of fabric over your thumb or finger, whatever is comfortable, and bisect two pins. Then do it again and again, always bending the fabric to ease in the sleeve, and pinning in between two other pins.

You'll need eleventy-billion pins, and it takes a few minutes, but in the end you'll have this:

There are probably 50 pins holding this sleeve in.

Once you have carefully pinned in this manner, stitch the sleeve to the garment with the sleeve on the bottom. The reason you do this is simple: the feed dogs pull the lower fabric incrementally faster than the top fabric (thus the need for a "walking" or "even-feed" foot in quilting), so you put the piece requiring ease on the bottom. Then press, clip, etc. according to pattern directions, and go on to stitch the entire underarm/side in one long continuous seam.


This woman on the TV show said there's really no reason you can't sew up garments in this order (shoulder seam first, underarm/side second) rather than the "traditional" way of gathering in the sleeve. Now, I am sure there are exceptions to that rule, but in general? I think I'm going to use this a lot, and I am much more excited to make garments for my kids if I can do it this way.

Now, if only I could come up with a good, quick, easy way to finish seams without a serger!

Oh, what am I making? This:

Daughter is "helping" to make the blue girly robe in the upper right corner. I've never made anything with this type of collar before, but so far, so good. Just hemming and a bit of hand finishing to do, then we'll have a blue flannel bathrobe.