In which I am a puffy gray blimp

This bit of lounge wear makes me laugh at its sheer ridiculousness, but despite it being wildly unflattering and adding a good two dress sizes to my appearance, I have worn it every day since it came off the machine on Tuesday.


Simplicity 1731

I made a size medium, which turns out to be very big for a medium. I want to say the bust measures about 45″ or 46″ — really, much bigger than I would ordinarily sew for myself. But I wanted to be able to pull on this thing over whatever I happened to be wearing — in this photo, it’s sweat pants and a worsted sweater, not that you can see them. But that ought to give you an idea of how big and roomy this is: big enough to wear over bulky clothes and still look loose. I swear, it adds 20 pounds to my frame.

And I don’t care how puffy and huge and silly it looks. This thing is so incredibly warm and cozy that I have been wearing it nonstop around the house since I finished it. I come in from the cold, take off my wool topcoat and boots, and zip into this thing. My house is cold (though we just had new windows installed on the two front rooms, and the house is appreciably warmer now — still cold, just no longer igloo cold, more like the interior of a refrigerator than the interior of a freezer). So I’ve sewn quite a few fleece garments here recently in a desperate attempt to stay warm without wearing a hat and coat — which I’ve been known to do. I really do hate this house.

In any case…

The pattern is Simplicity 1731, a gigantic unisex all-sizes thing for small children through very large men. It covers everyone in the family, even the dog, in a warm blanket of fleecy goodness. See for yourself.


Check out the shape of the hood on the dog’s romper. See how pointy it is? The human versions are pointy like that, too, and that’s really my only issue with this pattern. Next time, I’ll change the shape of that hood so it’s more rounded. You know, like an actual human head.

I think I might make another one. I’m already dreading the thought of having to take this one off long enough to launder it, so a second one might be a boon to health and hygiene. Unfortunately, the only other fleece I have in stash right now is snowy white, and the thought of wearing this in white — gack. Can you imagine? I would look like this guy, except without the jaunty cap and scarf.


Not a good look. I’m willing to laugh at myself, as the gray version proves, but even I would lose my sense of humor while wearing this thing in white. So I think I’ll just make do with this one until I’m willing to go fabric shopping again. After seeing the yardage total from my recent stash inventory, that could take a while!

So that’s another 4 yards out of the stash, making my yardage-out total since 12/1/14 a little over 30 yards. That’s a good start!

What’s the silliest thing you’ve ever made for yourself?



We need a live rooster to take the curse off this shank

(I loved that movie.)

After yesterday’s adventure with boomerang needles and vanishing yarn, I was ready for a good day today. I went fabric shopping! That’s always good. More on that tomorrow, when I will show you the gorgeous goodies I now own. They followed me home, so I get to keep them now.

And then I sat down to finish the pink fleece set. I had only to top stitch one armscye seam and attach the hood. I wound a new bobbin and threaded up the new spool, and made it a whole entire two inches into the topstitching when this happened.



That sucker snapped like a dry twig. Unbelievable. I had to hunt all over my sewing room for the bag of needle packs — seriously, I have an entire ziplock sandwich bag stuffed full of the little packs of Schmetz needles, my favorite kind. But for some reason, I can never find them when I need them, and I’m starting to think gremlins are moving them when I’m not looking. I have two plastic storage bins for notions. Two. So there are only ever two places for me to look for needles, and I can still never find them. I think my bins are packed too tight and I can just never find what I need in them anymore. Hmm, that might be something to fix while I’m on make-cation.

Anyway. Finally found the needle, and in the process of the hunt, began to question whether the sewing gods are mocking me. I never have problems like this. Two needles destroyed in two days? Never happens to me. Well, I guess I can’t say never anymore. In any case, I almost called it a day and went to find my knitting instead, but then my stubborn Taurus side emerged. I would by god finish that fleece set today.


The fourth and final warm thing


The third and final fleece track pants

I’m very glad to have these done because I’m ready for a break from sewing fleece. I have one more length I want to sew in the next month, but I won’t do that just yet. Because my house is very cold, It was a good idea to push to make some of these warm things quickly, but I’m really looking forward to sewing anything else. Anything. Just not fleece. Just for a little while.

While I was out today, I picked up some bemberg lining, thread, and a zipper to make a wool skirt — the wool is already cut, and now I have the other bits I need to actually make the thing. That will probably be tomorrow’s sewing project. It’s a fussy project because the wool is ravelly and shreddy and I will have to seal every raw edge prior to handling it. This is more prep work than I usually give to a project. But that’s okay — I have nothing to do tomorrow except knit and sew! Ah, bliss!

(Okay, and wrap gifts and make cookies and whatever, but that stuff won’t interfere with my bliss.)


In which my December make-cation is off to a rather dodgy start

Okay, so technically, I’m not on vacation yet. I still have some work to do for the university over the next several days, and I’ll be popping into the family business to push some paper early next week. But classes are not in session, and I’ve edited my last manuscript of the year, so my desk is mostly clear. It feels like vacation just because my workload is so drastically reduced all of a sudden.

Today was supposed to be an at-home day because the foundation repair guys had to come and bang and rattle around in the basement again.* Of course, with an at-home day, and only a few measly hours of work to do, you can imagine where my mind went. Time to play with textiles! Yay!

Except first this happened.


That sucker bent like a boomerang and basically locked itself inside the bobbin cage. With two layers of fabric on the shank, of course, because I was mid-seam when it happened. Guess how long it took me to get this needle free. Hint: long enough that I decided to take a tea break in the middle of fighting to dislodge it.

So. Okay. Needles bend and stuff. I got that sorted, and returned to my project, the final pair of fleece track pants and the final warm thing. I’m a little sick of sewing fleece by now, but this set is nearly finished, and I expected to wrap it up today.

Except then this happened.


The bobbin ran out and I only had this much thread left on the spool. I still had to topstitch one armscye seam and attach the hood, so if the bobbin had held, this might have been enough to complete the project. Am I the only one who things it sucks that a fresh spool isn’t enough to complete this simple outfit? The spool was marked as having 125 yards, but I’m quite sure that is overstated. If the spool had really had 125 yards, there would have been leftovers.

And of course, I couldn’t just pop out to get another spool because workmen and their muddy boots were swarming the place today. I had to wait for them to wrap for the day before I could go pick up more thread.

What’s a crafty girl to do? I took a quick inventory of my already cut projects, and as long as I was going to make a thread run, I went ahead and checked that I had all the notions etc for those projects.

And then I made these.


What the heck. They were cut and ready to sew, the final pair of cotton pajama pants that I cut out late in the summer. These take no time at all, and that’s one less pending project in my sewing room. I don’t even remember what fabric this is — something from a quilt shop, no doubt, but I can’t guess which one. This gives me four pairs of woven pajama pants, and that’s enough. Even if I get reeeeeeally lazy about doing laundry, four ought to be enough.

I thought I had more projects cut and ready to sew. But other than the fleece-in-progress, I only have one wool skirt, two summer sundresses, and a couple of muslins for coats. If I’m actually able to spend my time sewing instead of surgically removing bent needles and moaning about short spools, I can easily knock out the skirt and two sundresses before Christmas. As our country friends might say, God willing and the creek don’t rise!


* For those of you who know me in real life, yes, foundation repairs AGAIN, but the engineer says that this is really for sure the last time they have to fix something, and they mean it this time you guys so stop laughing already. For everyone else, my house cracked in half about five years ago and the repairs have been epic. The problem stemmed from a collapsed underground stream in my neighborhood, and because of the way the land shifted, they’ve had terrible times fixing the house.

Warm thing redux: Fit for giants

Okay, so I’m in love with the idea of a giant warm thing with a hood, something like this DKNY shroud-muumuu-burka.

dkny warm thing

It’s snowing today. I had to scrape ice off my car windows. The wind is blowing so hard that when I tried to shoot some wiper fluid at my windshield, it sheared off onto the street without touching the glass. Winter in Chicago = four solid months of wondering why the hell anyone would choose to live here.

But the warm thing is a consolation.

I made a fitted warm thing the other day and showed that one to you. It’s great. I adore it. But it’s not quite roomy enough to fit comfortably over a sweater or sweatshirt, so I decided to make a supersized version, one that would fit over a sweater plus a sweatshirt plus a bathrobe plus all the blankets from my bed plus any small children or dogs seeking refuge from a blizzard.

Mission accomplished.


I can’t stop laughing over how enormous this thing is. Seriously, Look at that. What are we looking at, two feet of wearing ease? GIANT. And so warm. But jeez, look at the fistful of extra fabric here, and that’s not even all the ease.


I can’t tell you the pattern number for this thing. I concocted it from a newspaper tracing of an old raglan hoodie pattern found in a box with some notions, and it came in pretty handy for the supersized warm thing. There aren’t any notations on it to indicate whether it was drafted from an existing garment (I copy garments sometimes) or taken from a sewing pattern. If I had to guess, I’d say it was likely from a garment because I don’t usually buy patterns with raglan sleeves, but I have received a few raglan sweaters as gifts over the years. Actually, now that I’m pondering this question, I almost wonder if this is a tracing of an ex-bf’s sweatshirt. Could be. It’s big enough.

In any case, I took the sweatshirt template, eliminated the cuff at the bottom, and extended the hem down below knee-length. I debated widening it in sort of an A-line below the hips, but it’s big enough already without adding more volume. I did use a side slit on either side seam from just a couple inches above the knee down to the hem.  There’s a turned and stitched sleeve cuff, and I added elastic for a closer fit over the pulse point.

But, much like Goldilocks, I now have all these thoughts about too small, too big, and just right. The first one is close fitted and I love it, the second one is like a cocoon of warm, and I love it. Now I want one that’s sort of in the middle, neither too big nor too small, but just right. I’m thinking maybe about six inches of ease ought to do the trick.

And I just happen to have a third length of cheap big box fleece hanging around the joint — just right!