gimme some slack! post four: darts & pockets


Good afternoon, or evening, or whatever time it may be for ye!

Our progress so far: last month I posted the supply list and timeline, and earlier this month I posted our preparations, including creating our pattern. On the sixth I posted our methods for marking, cutting, and interfacing our fabric pieces. Today we will be constructing the darts, front and back, and the pockets, front and back.

Thank you to all who’ve participated, and emailed or commented suggestions and corrections to this sew-a-long. And remember – I am available to support via email, blog comment, and Skype! I will Skype support any stitcher through the months of June and July 2014.


I ask Ralph to slow down – “or pull over,” I amend. I feel so ill I’m almost certain I will vomit.

He pulls into a boat launch; the kids make faint, empathetic noises as I exit the car. I place my daughter’s just-now-finished band concert blazer on her lap, and close the car door, walk over to the edge of the clearing. Under a grove of trees and I hear something up high – a small nest of baby birds, perhaps? Three magnificently large fungi adorn one of the birch trees, about twelve feet up. I focus on these and breathe through my nose. There isn’t enough fresh clean air to calm my aching head, to soothe that sickness that roils in my chest.

Soon we are back on the road as my illness, though still with me, is manageable. In the passenger-side window my skin looks terrible; rough, pallid, green. I focus on the words Ralph says; I ask about his day.

We’re installed on bleachers to watch the end-of-year music concert for my daughter’s school. My daughter looks so adult; she shakes her hair, black and teal, out of her face. When did she get so grown? She has the most animated, happy face of the children there. She is wearing a bit of eyeshadow and slumps slim and sophisticated in her black suit. She is so gorgeous. It’s like on one hand I understand when people say she looks like me but on the other hand I watch her from far off and I think How can she be so beautiful? Maybe when she is up close I worry about feeding her and parenting her and caring for her and getting her new socks. And when I see her in the crowd it’s like a wild thing, something precious. I used to call her Creature, and it wasn’t kind when I did. But now she’s a Creature, a sense of humor, a quick wit. She never turns away from a hug from me,  and she returns the embrace with such presence and tenderness; one of those blessings money can’t buy.

It is time for her band performance. Her slide positions on the trombone are swift and decisive. She is focused but not tense. I am glad to watch, sitting here swaying in overcrowded bleachers, despite being ill I am glad I made it here. I know I don’t have to do anything but pay attention. That, I can do.

We leave earlier than my son would like; he has found friends on the playground. He shouts at us that we have to go home. We’ve a dinner to prepare, laundry to wash, pets to feed and love up on.

I’m tired; but sleep with come eventually.

Tomorrow, the sun will come out tomorrow!

Gimme Some Slack

gimme some slack! post three: cutting, marking, and interfacing

Gimme Some Slack

Hello my awesomesauce stitching fiends! Today we get to handle our fabric in earnest. This is big fun as it turns out!

To bring you up to date: last month I posted the supply list and timeline, and earlier this month I posted our preparations, including creating our pattern.

Remember – I am available to support via email, blog comment, and Skype! I will Skype support any stitcher through the months of June and July 2014.

Gimme Some Slack

gimme some slack! post two: making our pattern; prepping our materials

Gimme Some Slack

Hello my awesomesauce stitching fiends! This is our first get-to-it post! I am really happen to have you join me! Both of you! I jest, I jest.

Last month I posted the supply list and timeline so y’all should be ready to get going. Today we’ll be fondling fabric (a little) and doing some tracing (a lot).  Before we start, I’m going to talk briefly about what to expect in undertaking this project.

Remember – I am available to support via email, blog comment, and Skype! I will Skype support any stitcher through the months of June and July 2014.

turtle sundae in rayon

Today I finished a rayon blouse for my mother, to her exact specifications (construction details in the Flickr tagset).

Rayon Blouse, For A Client

The rayon yardage was a bit spendy; it feels like a dream against the skin. Of course, it was rather tricky to work with and nearly impossible to iron (I did my best).

My mother bought the yardage at least a dozen years ago; I was with her, and I remember. The last decade she’d taken it out a few times and lovingly stroked it, and made plans, but then put it back in the closet. She recently asked me to make her a blouse from the yardage and I quoted her a price. Even though she’s my mother, she still gets my, 100% refund policy. It is important my clients are happy with my work!

Rayon Blouse, For A Client

Don’t even come at me about the pockets. They are not saggy but rather are built such the pockets drape properly over her bust – drafted to C/D cup. Women’s wear – especially for large or curvaceous women – definitely looks a lot better on a woman, than on a hanger!

So – she arrives home tomorrow and she will find it hanging in her armoire. I really hope she likes it – it has been my privilege to sew her a few garments that fit not only her personal sense of style, but her body. Which, and I thought this over quite a bit, is like a lovely lady badger-dowager with slender shoulders and careworn teats.

Buttons – cross-hatched coconut. Perfect buttonholes – created on my Singer 201-2 using stabilizer, sealed from the backside with Fray-check, then cut with a buttonhole chisel. BOOM

Rayon Blouse, For A Client


Rayon Blouse, For A Client

The narrow hem (about 5/16″):

Rayon Blouse, For A Client

After she evaluates fit, I will make her another – this time, a gift. With a semi-sheer stretch silk – i.e. even more of a pain-in-the-ass fabric!

Ah, well.

awwwww yeah, sew-a-long part deaux!


Are you all ready for another great sew-a-long? This time we’re making pants. Fabulous, stylish, super-fly PANTS!

I received wonderful series of compliments for my last sew-a-long – a very meticulously constructed plaid flannel shirt. One “student” said she literally never looked at her pattern directions as my written instructions and photographs (there were about 250 of the latter) showed her everything she needed to know. w00t!

This go around, things are a little easier. And if you like, a lot livelier!

A New Sew-A-Long - Gimme Some Slack!

Tomorrow I will be posting the supply list for this endeavor. Our first day sewing will be June 1st 2014.

In the meantime, you can help other people find this sew-a-long in a timely fashion, by posting the badge to your own blog, or sharing via Tumblr/Twitter, Facebook (you can “Like” my page for updates), et cetera. The more people who participate, the better this sew-a-long will be, as I will be making corrections and additions as per feedback. Seamsters in the future will stumble on these posts and be glad for them!

You can also subscribe by RSS to either my sew-a-long feed (in which case you will see all future sew-a-longs when I post them) or just the feed for the Gimme Some Slacks sew-a-long! If you’d like another subscription option, email me and let me know. kelly AT hogaboom DOT org.

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hot medium-brown wool action!!!

Brown Wool Blazer

Yeah that’s right, you have entered BLAZER COUNTRY. Who knows how many damn blazers I’ve sewn. All I know is, after I made this one (since Nels had grown out of Nolan, although it was still going strong!) I decided to trace one of my most-used blazer patterns in every size (that’s seventeen pieces by eight sizes, so one hundred thirty six pieces) and then color-code and cut and punch and reinforce and hang them all. And then I decided once I finished this rather ambitious project, I would reward myself by sewing a blazer. So now I’m almost done with a new blazer different than this one.


Brown Wool Blazer

OK so here’s a cool detail – elbow patches in a wool/silk blend. I hand-embroidered the concentric ovals, then cut the patches, fused them to the sleeve, black-zig-zagged them firmly to the coat, and then hand-embroidered the very outer oval. Adorable and I think they will look even cooler as they wear!

Brown Wool Blazer

Blustery day! … and, a few more details:

Brown Wool Blazer

Bound buttonholes. Here you can barely see the chalk marking the center-front of the blazer – the buttonhole extends 1/8″ in from that mark. You can also at top-left see the pink basting stitch I used to affix the underlining fabric to the wool.

Brown Wool Blazer

More elbow patches – and along the bottom of the picture you can see the purple triple-stitched topstitching line I used for most of this coat’s edges.

Brown Wool Blazer

The bone buttons, nine in all (I bought two extra of each size) cost more than the rest of the garment (in part due to how good I am at finding good fabrics on sale). I bought the buttons from M & J Trimming and they shipped quickly! You are also seeing the back side of the bound buttons here. I used a black silk organza for my facing’s buttonhole “windows”.

Brown Wool Blazer

My preferred pocket method – a fully-lined pocket, interfaced at the top, and then applied by fell-stitch. Here you are seeing the pocket before I turn it right-side out, then stitch the opening at lining and facing closed.

Brown Wool Blazer

Here’s that hand-stitch I just referred to – inside the pocket. When it comes to a simple coat my kids are going to wear the hell out of, and I am not looking for a print or texture, I use slipper satin from for coat linings. It is a nice weight for a medium or heavy coat, it wears well, and feels very nice.

Brown Wool Blazer

Echo-stitching on the collar. Basically free-handed. Echo stitching  here emulates the elbow patch detail – but it also gives a stiffer hand to whatever you are echo-stitching (in this case, the collar), and gives a great, rugged look and wear.

So there’s Nels’ newest jacket.

Now listen. I’m not going to go into why a blazer really is a killer garment. I’m not going to elaborate on how long and how well my versions hold up. Or even how awesome it is you can pull one off in so many fabrics –  lightweight linen, classic raw silk, homey corduroy, handsome waxed canvas, bad-ass melton wool – GAH!! Basically you, blog readers, are in for a blazer-fest this summer and you just need to settle in and DEAL. Will I be sewing other things? Why yes, of course.


Oh – and here is the end result of my pattern-tracing efforts for blazers – all marked, color-coded, cut, punched, reinforced, and organized. At left is the pattern, yardage, and sizing information in a clear cover sleeve.

Pattern Tracing, Marking, Color-Coding, Cutting, & Hanging

But now I *SOLEMNLY SWEAR* not to sew with wool until the fall. I promise. No, really.

So who’s got some fabulous linens they can point me to?

a tender shoot

Frost Flower Hoodie

My son *thinks* this is his birthday hoodie; however, it is a decoy hoodie. I was drafting a deep hood and a tall, slender fit. I am waiting on fabric for his actual birthday hoodie. Let’s hope it all works out before the birthday party on Saturday!

A roomy hood:

Frost Flower Hoodie

MacGuffin or no, this hoodie is fabulous in its own right. It is constructed of luxurious 100% cotton fleece – very soft on the inside. I pieced the body using the “mock-serge” on my Pfaff (tutorial here).

Two appliques: the “frost flower” on the right arm – using knit and woven scraps, matching zig-zag topstitching, and paint/thread drawing for the “eyes”:

Frost Flower Hoodie

The left arm – more subtle still. Nels’ name in a “Super Mario U” font – self-appliqued.

Frost Flower Hoodie

Frost Flower Hoodie

For the hood drawstring, I first constructed eyelets free-hand on the Pfaff, made a casing using a 2.0/2.0 zig-zag topstitch, then knit a cotton i-cord for the drawstring itself. Ralph knit about half the i-cord yesterday – after I taught him how. The yarn itself was a gift from my friend Tammy at Main Street Books.

Frost Flower Hoodie

Piecing knitwear as a home sewist is really wonderful. I am able to line up the grain perfectly which is not something you will see in ready-to-wear construction. The result is a garment that feels, fits, and wears better – while looking fabulous for a lot longer.

Cutting knit pieces so carefully would be tedious if not for the fact that knit garments are usually made with far fewer pieces than woven ones. That said, some of y’all remember that I am willing to go balls-deep in fussy-cutting. It really does make a difference even if people looking at the garment can’t tell exactly why it looks so good.

Spring is here, spring is wet, and my Little Guy looks all set!

Frost Flower Hoodie

only the young can say / they’re free to fly away

A project I’d dreamed up a while back: custom athletic “school pride” hoodie. Here ya go, my lovely daughter of mine. You are one thousand percent f*cking awesome so. Here you go!

Wishkah Loggers Hoodie

I had some trouble with this garment, but not the trouble I thought I might run into. The original pattern instructions had some errata and I was a bit frustrated, and the back center panel was missing a few helpful notches. I made some changes to the pattern – specifically, in the hood, the pockets/pocket tabs, and the cuffs – and I omitted the facings. But then there were fabric issues – the stripe fabric. I made a quick purchase online and neglected to get yarn-dyed stripes. So these stripes are printed on. Kinda ass, quality-wise. They look great, because A. the print was printed properly and B. I am a bad-ass at matching stripes. But next time I might do a little more hunting for a great stripe.

And on that note, let me talk about hoodie fabrics a bit.

I used to joke about old rock and roll bands who’d leap around stage and do high kicks while wearing ball-framingly tight DENIM jeans. Ralph and I will still say, “touch of Lycra” when, say, a Journey song comes on our Google Music radio. Then we laugh because SERIOUSLY

Touch Of Lycra

Now those are snug.

Now, I’m no stranger to 100% cotton knits. I’ve made an awful lot of great garments with the 100% cotton Michael Miller knit stripe.

But hoodies, like Mr. Perry’s grape-smugglers above, benefit from the performance only provided by a bit of synthetic fiber. Even six percent (or less) of spandex or some other stretch fiber, can give the hoodie a bit more wearing comfort and a better drape. Now I am such a natural fiber snob (wool, linen, silk, cotton) – but sometimes SCIENCE delivers us seductive advances. So yes: spandex is my friend (or in this hoodie’s case – 4% lycra is my friend).

More pictures of today’s piece:

Wishkah Loggers Hoodie
The back. Looking great. Perfect stripe-lining! BOOM

Wishkah Loggers Hoodie

I like the size of the hood – and I like the overlap at the neckline.

Wishkah Loggers Hoodie

I sewed the seam allowances of the thumb holes together before turning them, which made for a non-topstitched thumbhole. Better looking than topstitch efforts IMO.

Wishkah Loggers Hoodie

Construction: a zig zag, then a three-thread serge finish. Very tidy hoodie interior.

Wishkah Loggers Hoodie

My old-skool freezer-paper-and-Solvy method, for the “screenprinted” lettering.

Wishkah Loggers Hoodie

More Fabri Sticky Solvy, everywhere everywhere, for a good-looking applique “P” on this very thin knit.

Wishkah Loggers Hoodie

Peeking inside the pocket. A nice, roomy, kangaroo-style pocket.

I just ordered fabric for my next custom hoodie: self-drafted, for my son. I have some artistic plans and I only hope the fabric comes arrives such that I can complete the project in time for his birthday.

I’d love to just sew people hoodies pretty much all day long. VERY FUN


flannel shirt sew-a-long icon

flannel sew-a-long: cuffs, buttonholes, buttons – and finished!

flannel shirt sew-a-long icon

Hello my awesomesauce stitching fiends! This is our final flannel sewing post! I am really happy to have my shirt finished, and really grateful not to have to look at this particular plaid for a while! Today we are putting together our lined cuffs, sewing up buttonholes, and sewing on buttons. Pretty easy stuff that leaves us with – a COMPLETED SHIRT! Yay! Let’s get started! Here is our overview:

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