Useful things

One of my great joys is making something beautiful by hand that is also very useful and mostly unimportant. I think of the weird little things we usually opt to buy, inexpensively. After spending a great deal of the winter pattern making on my 5 year old hand-me-down computer, I decided I needed to invest in an external hard drive. I'm what they call a "leapfrog" consumer of technology. I hold out on purchasing new devices for a few 'generations' and end up with a weird combination of very old and very new devices working together (as I take pictures for this entry with my new - albeit hand-me-down - iPhone 5).

But the cute little 1tb external hard drive came with no case. So of course I had to make one. The hard drive does a noble job and deserves no less.

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Honestly I was a bit relieved it came with no case. The ones they give you usually are usually made of some weird synthetic leather that inevitably starts to deteriorate quickly. (I'm looking at you, weird neoprene-ish pull tab on the bluetooth speaker. You're less than a year old and you're literally melting!)

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I'm pleased with the outcome! I quilted two layers of wool/rayon felt (with cotton batting in between) for the bag, adding a front pocket for the cable. I finished the edges with 1/2" double fold self-made Marimekko seam binding (fancy!). It closes with a velcro tab...Technology cases love velcro and I obviously couldn't use a magnetic snap.

Juniper: French Seam Pocket

I'm teaching a pants making class at JP Knit & Stitch in April and we're using the Colette Juniper Pants pattern. I have to say, I was a bit skeptical. I typically don't wear pants as I have a figure that makes it hard to fit them and impossible to find RTW that works. Many of my students have expressed a desire to be able to make and fit pants, so when the Juniper pattern came into the store I thought it would be a great opportunity try it out as a possible pattern option.

I personally have been looking for a higher rise, wide leg pant that didn't scream hippie mom or 1940's sailor (thought there's nothing wrong with those looks) and these fit the bill. I have to say, I'm quite pleased with both the fit and the rise so far. I think the absence of a fitted thigh is a huge advantage in my case (In a more fitted pant, I may blend sizes with a high hip 2 sizes bigger than my waist and a thigh/low hip one size bigger than that).

I also really like the pocket construction, and I used the opportunity to try out a slash pocket finish that I have done on a few pieces for clients. I got the idea from a pair of high end RTW shorts and I'm embarrassed to say I didn't think of it before.

I love any opportunity in a pattern to do a self seam finish: I do french (both real and faux) and flat fell seams whenever possible. I especially like this when to do so is sort of counter intuitive.

I wanted an extra strong pocket that was clean without any unravelies to stick out in the pants since they arent lined. I also wanted something lightweight, so binding wasn't in the cards. So here's how to do a french seam slash pocket bag on the Colette Juniper pants.

I realize that while I took the time to make a nicely finished pocket bag, I neglected to do anything at all to the seam joining the pants fashion fabric to the upper and lower pocket bag. In hindsight, I would have probably finished both seams with a flat felled seam sewn on the pocket bag side. I think I decided to do this finish after sewing those seams and was primarily lazy. I avoid undoing whenever possible...it's an exercise in acceptance.

Step 1: With WS together, matching up notches, sew around the pocket bag at a 1/8" SA. Start and stop stitching at the pocket bag seam.

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2. Turn the pocket inside out, push out the pocket along the seam using your fingers or a point turner.

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Your stitching will extend almost all the way to the end of your pocket bag seam. The remaining, unstitched seam allowance should be folded out.

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When sewing the pocket bag a second time on the actual seamline, you'll want to start and end where the pocket bag attaches to the main pants front. Mark this horizontal seamline with chalk or a pin if you need to.

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3. Give the pocket bag a nice press.

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4. Stitch around the pocket bag as indicated in the pattern instructions. Start with a 5/8" seam allowance at the beginning where your SA is unstitched. When you get to the part where 1/8" is stitched in, your SA should easily line up with the 1/2" mark. Continue stitching around the pocket bag at 1/2" until you come to the last bit of unstitched SA. You should easily be able to keep stitching as the fabric edge lines up with the 5/8" mark. Stitch until the pocket bag seam on the pants front, as indicated on the pattern.

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5. Fold the pocket into its final position and give it a good press.

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You now have a nicely finished french seam pocket. A french seam is an idea finish for a pocket bag since it is one of the few applications you can use a french seam on a curve. Why? Because it is never turned right side out, and therefore the curves do not need to flex the other direction or lay flat, something that would be hindered by a french seam typically.

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One of the best parts? With two seams, these pockets will be extra strong!

Can't wait to finish these babies up! As usual, Sarai's instructions, especially for complicated things (like fly insertion), are excellent. There was only one thing I would have done differently. The pattern calls for a 7" zipper. I prefer metal zippers in my clothing as they last longer, wont melt under an iron, and have a bit of a vintage feel that I love. In this pattern, your pants zipper is trimmed at the waistline. Though removing metal zipper teeth resulted in some interesting visuals, I think I would have preferred to use a 5"(4"?) zipper instead.

'Matelasse' is French for mattress

20130110-111528.jpg I'm working on a great wrap blouse for a client in a gorgeous fabric. It is a wool/silk blend fabric with a woven texture somewhere in between quilting and brocade. I have decided that it is 'matelasse'. It is reminiscent of fabulous 50's and 60's dinner dresses like this one from Balenciaga.

Such a fantastic fabric and a pleasure to work with...all the advantages and stability of wool with the luxury of silk. My client purchased this from Mood, thought I doubt there is any left.