Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Goodness gracious. It's been two weeks since I posted.

We've been busy farming. Well, you know, gardening. Digging and amending and planting things. We put in fifty square feet of blueberries and fifty of black currants, prepared a hundred square feet for strawberries and planted a little more than half of them. We did a lot of groaning and I took a lot of hot baths. My muscles still hurt.

Next is planting the rest of those strawberries. And a modest already-prepped bed of snap peas. And prepping and planting fifty-or-so square feet of raspberries. And I'm thinking of buying some blue honeysuckle/honeyberry and alpine strawberries for the half-shade corner; shade fruit seems like cheating, in a delightful sort of way.

We're spreading great swaths of landscape fabric or weed paper over most of this, and even bigger oceans of plastic over the areas that we're not planting yet. The number of square feet that I have to hand-weed will be very small...if the landscape fabric and weed paper work, which isn't guaranteed.

So you see why I'm too tired to write. Mostly.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sewing Diary: Brown Twill Cooking Coat

Project Category: Wearable muslin
Garment: Cooking coat
Fabric: Cheap brown cotton twill, probably from
Pattern: Sewing Workshop San Diego Jacket

I'm under the illusion that I'm going to start logging my sewing projects in a standard format. I make resolutions like this a lot, and then I end up with a one-post series. But that's not stopping me. Whee!

I've been doing more cooking. And wearing more home-sewn clothes. These are un-mixy things, as Buffy would say, because I don't want fried chicken spatters on my painstakingly constructed linen shirts. My solution is painstakingly constructed cooking coats. I've already made one cooking coat, the goth daffodil coat from the Sewing Workshop Liberty Shirt pattern, but it wasn't altogether satisfactory. The neck isn't high enough to reliably cover everything underneath and, more important, it isn't big enough to easily cover another garment.

The solution seemed to be a jacket pattern. Sandi at Fabric of Vision was wearing a lovely jacket a week or six ago, made from the Sewing Workshop San Diego Jacket pattern--pattern picture above. I decided that I wanted to master that pattern, and realized almost immediately that the first try, the wearable muslin, would work beautifully as a cooking coat as well as a jacket. Roomy jacket, high collar, what more could I want? I had a big hunk of chocolate-brown cotton twill hanging around unemployed, so that was drafted. I didn't preshrink. Bad Martha.

I traced the pattern onto Swedish tracing paper, without alterations--I just traced the largest size. I would normally have checked and altered the hip circumference, but decided that if the pattern doesn't work over my hips, I'd just add a gusset or somesuch thing this time and do that alteration the second time around, probably along with tracing a smaller size for the shoulders. It would have been sensible to make the first cut at these alterations the first time, but, well, I'm lazy and exact fit isn't all that critical for cooking.

The jacket is finished, and I'm happy with it. I'm wearing it as I lounge on the couch, trying it out for comfort. (OK, and then I took it off for photos, complete with the wrinkles resulting from the lounging.)

Random comments on the pattern:

  • The largest size had enough room for my alarmingly large hips--though not an excess of room. No gusset needed.
  • The assembly was not remotely intuitive, but the pattern instructions and pictures took care of that just fine.
  • The sleeves go in on the flat, but more easing was required than I'm used to for in-the-flat sleeve installation.
  • The armholes hang well beyond my shoulder, not surprisingly given my choice to use the largest size. But the sleeve is flat enough and roomy enough that it's perfectly comfortable that way; there's none of that armhole-in-the-wrong-place constriction. I should alter to a smaller size at the shoulders, but for appearance, not comfort.
  • The seam between the odd facing/collar piece and the back of the back neck required a lot of easing. The pattern warns you to reinforce and to clip, but I had to clip and strain the short piece to within an inch of its life, and still ended up making a quarter-inch fold in the long piece at the back of the neck, to make half an inch go away. If I'd altered the pattern I would have assumed that I made a mistake, but I didn't alter. This is probably partly the un-stretchy twill and partly my limited skill; I'm hoping that in, say, a nice soft wool these pieces would ease together just fine.
  • I'm not sure if the button loops are worth the trouble. Of course, I didn't go to the full trouble - you're supposed to make a strip from the main fabric and fold it for loops; I used a piece of nicely gaudy ribbon instead.
  • It's really comfy. I can imagine making a few in that nice soft wool, lightweight for sweater-like warmth without the Stay Puft Marshmallow feeling of wearing a woolly sweater.
  • It covers a shirt and heavy sweater, and has a wonderfully high collar, so it will do the job of protecting my clothes against frying poultry.
  • The pattern doesn't call for topstitching. I topstitched it to death because I don't want to press a cooking jacket - I want the seams to lie where they belong right out of the dryer. I still want that topstitching for a street version, but my topstitching technique is lousy and I still don't have an edgestitching foot, so it's a thicket. 
  • The pattern doesn't call for interfacing. I find myself thinking that the collar/facing piece needs some, especially if I make the jacket out of a lightish fabric.
  • The lines of the jacket are too simple for a simple featureless fabric like the twill. No problem for the cooking coat, but I'll need to keep this in mind.
  • Wow, this thing is comfy.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

SOTD: Serge Lutens Santal de Mysore

I really should have known. Santal Majuscule is described as the non-threatening, friendly, generally likable sandalwood. Santal de Mysore is supposed to be the weirder one. How could I fail to predict that I'd like the weird one much, much better? It's complex and buttery and velvety and rich-spicy and just a little sweaty. I expect to regain my fondness for Santal Majuscule, but it's definitely going to be second to this one.

Um. That is all.

Image: Wikimedia Commons