Star Hoodie from FreeSewing.org

tutorial: puffed taffeta patch

Shown here: patches in taffeta (silver) and satin (red), augmenting a hoodie and jacket, resp. I’ve long loved the look of a bit of posh on casual wear.

Star Hoodie from FreeSewing.org

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
It took me a few tries to get the look I wanted – a raised puffy patch, quilted, that retained its shape accurately and really showed off that topstitching. Although the satin (red) is super fun – and will be the version I am showcasing today – I like the taffeta even more. It has a crisp but antiquated look I am just drooling for!

Star Hoodie from FreeSewing.org

So let’s do this!Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

You will need (from left to right) your satin or taffeta, some fleece (no-stretch works best), and an interfacing. You also need basting spray, a pattern template (handmade or computer-made), and tracing wheel and paper. For interfacing, think about what color you want to use, as a little may show in the final product. You want a color that matches either the patch or the garment beneath; you can also use white and a bit of Sharpie to help with that (which is what I’m going to show you here).

And of course you need the things you always need for sewing: a machine, thread, scissors, iron – et cetera.

So first, iron your fabric nice and flat:

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Next, pin the paper template to the satin/taffeta, and carefully slide the tracing medium underneath, to transfer markings to the right side of the satin/taffeta. Remember that the outer line of the template will not be stitched – it represents the turn of the cloth.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Trace carefully, making sure not to shift the paper template as you trace. You need to make sure you will be able to see the tracing marks while you sew; a red background, by the way, is one of the most difficult to read!

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Once you have both your patches traced, lightly – and I mean lightly – spray the rough side of your fleece, with a layer of basting spray. If you spray too liberally, the glue might transfer through the satin/taffeta and leave an icky mark.

By the way – I always lay my fabric in my waste can before spraying, so I don’t get any stickiness anywhere else in my studio. Then I remove the sprayed fabric and proceed.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Press your satin/taffeta wrong side to the glued surface of the fleece, and smooth by hand. Securely pin. Then machine-baste around the motif and move the pins; you won’t want to have them hanging out for all the rows of stitching you’ll be doing.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Begin stitching from the top (satin/taffeta) side, ending in the same location and carefully pulling all threads to the backside. When you’ve finished, you will be knotting those threads securely and clipping about 1/2″ from the knots.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Shown below: the fully-stitched patch. Note the outer line remains unstitched, with the basting line further out from that.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Now, cut 1/4″ to 1/8″ away from that traced, unstitched line. I know I can sew very accurately here so I have only cut 1/8th away.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Cut your interfacing according to the paper pattern, and pin to the right side of the satin/taffeta, with the sticky side of the interfacing either up or down, depending on what you want. If you put the sticky side up here, then when you turn the patch, you will be ironing the interfacing to the patch itself. If you put the sticky-side down, you will be able to use the fusing to apply the patch to the garment. I have used both methods and they both worked great.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Now, stitch around the perimeter! Make sure to firmly catch the satin, fleece and interfacing:

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Cut a small slit in the interfacing, and use this to carefully turn the patch right-side out:
Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Now if you like, you can use a sharpie and color your interfaced edge either the color of the patch or a color that works with the garment:

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Now – it’s time to press! If your sticky side is on the outside of the patch, you want to position the patch on the garment (see below). If, like for this patch, the sticky side faces the underside of the patch, this pressing will help anchor the patch into a firm shape.
Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Pin the patch in place:Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
If you have two patches in symmetrical locations on the garment, I have a method to use. I like to pin the first, then lay the second patch right-sides together, then lay the respective pattern pieces on top of that. It’s a fast way to end up with symmetrical pockets/patches etc.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Now you can certainly machine-stitch this patch to the garment – but having gone through all this trouble, a fell stitch is a gorgeous touch! Since this garment is lined, I went ahead and pulled the running part of the stitch to the backside of the sleeve; for the blue star hoodie shown in this post, since it was not lined, I enclosed the running part of the fell stitch into the patch itself – thus making for a completely invisible patch installation.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
The backside of the installation – halfway through:
Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

And – all done!

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta PatchStar Hoodie from FreeSewing.org

Hold Up!

hold up!

[Stuart voice]: “Look what I can do!”

Hold Up!

Hold Up!
The Beyoncé “Hold Up” dress (here’s the original: yes, it’s amazing!) was my biggest project this Halloween. A friend saved up and went big – she not only requisitioned the dress, she acquired the hair, shoes (which were then hand-painted), and jewerly. There is nothing I like more than someone going all-out, and it was wonderful to be a part of that.

Hold Up!

Let me get right to the knitty-gritty of how (I think) the dress was originally constructed (it’s from a collection, so there is more than one version out there – which is confusing for a reconstruction effort), and how I duped it.

So, he dress appears to be made with tiered chiffon flounces, and lace appliqué on a mesh and spandex underdress. The flounces were also roughly pleated and lettuce-edged; the bottom two flounces were trimmed with lace. The dress is hardly structured at all, a lot of bare skin shows as well as the actual push-up bra. My client found the black bra herself and hand-stitched an interlining to emulate the double-strap look on the bra. I wish I’d paid more attention to that particular bra detail, as I could have done that job for her by machine; her handstitching failed at the party she was at (bras need to be very sturdy, especially for the large-busted)!

Because the dress is mostly a monochromatic garment, I had to figure out how to get four matching colors in the absolutely gorgeous yellow of the dress, and this affected my choice of fabrics. Notice in the photo at upper left a version of the dress looks warm and poppy-colored, at left – and greenish at right; you will also notice the dress appears several different colors in this post depending on the lighting I am working with. I ended up deciding to buy my 25 yards of chiffon, and dye the other fabrics to match using a local dye artist. Note that dyeing different fabrics (including fabrics with differing fiber content) is a bit of a technical challenge, and will likely involve lots of testing and different types of dye processes.

It took trial and error to get the fabrics dyed the correct color;  one nylon lace, for instance, simply didn’t take dye. My dye artist friend (Val from FiberPlay) had to do two washes to get the colors deep enough – but they were lovely and all matched, by the time she was done. Below, you see (from left, clockwise) the chiffon, spandex, mesh, and lace I used.

Hold Up!

One other major technical component was the pleating. I believe the flounces on the original garment were cut circular, not straight – which meant the pleats were formed that way as well (I think of this as sunray pleating although I’m sure it has other names). After lots of pleating research and a few phone conversations with the *amazing* Rusty at SF Pleating (415.608.1983), I opted to send Rusty labeled strips, and he pleated them all. The pleats arrived in these fabulous crepe paper bundles. Rusty was beyond amazing and I hope to work with him again!

Hold Up!

Hold Up!

Now that I had the pleated chiffon and all properly-hued fabrics, it was time to assemble! I build the mesh and spandex underdress, using carbon paper to trace my flounce positions. I then fussy-cut the lace motifs, and applied the lace to locations on the mesh underdress:

Hold Up!

The mesh needed a stabilizer to form a nice strong zig-zag stitch.

Hold Up!
All of the chiffon flounces had to be finished by serge, as chiffon likes to fray into these teeny tiny fibers. These flounces were then either edged by serge or edged by fishing line. The latter process is so fun! You wrap your fishing line around a form, use heat (boiling water or heat gun) to seal the shape of the circular culry-q’s, let cool, and feed this line into the chiffon while hemming. This process required a lot of trial and error; you have to find the right weight of fishing line – but was super fun. I’ll have to create a tutorial someday!|

After the flounces were hemmed, I applied them to the mesh in the locations I’d traced:

Hold Up!

One regret I had was not acquiring a twist-cord blank to dye. Instead I created cord from the spandex fabric, and used it for the dresses’ back-tie, as well as the three straps in the bodice.

Hold Up!
The original dress likely does not fasten by tie, but this is the most adjustable and comfortable way to go for a costume:

Hold Up!

So, obviously my friend K. stole the show at her event. It was both an honor and a privilege to get to make her something so special! And I can’t wait for my next pleated project!

Hold Up!

Me!

autumn fires / settling in

Me!

It’s not a bad time of year to tuck in and do all of those little things. I’ve been sewing a great deal, and have even taken some time to cook. Two Thanksgiving meals right in a row this week!
Candied Pecans

Stuffing (Sourdough & Sage)

Beeps is, incredibly, almost done with another quarter at college. Inching towards graduation. Despite being perceived as rather intimidating, they seem to have a pretty solid social life these days. Meaning: I miss them, I don’t get as many cuddles as I used to. I still get them though, and I treasure each one.

Beeps

I finished up a quilt I started a couple years ago!Quilt (Goldfish)
And I’ve made a few cozy robes:Robe

Robe

More snuggles.13 Years Old

And some lunch dates.Beeps

Seitan

for tomorrow’s repast

Seitan

Today in the kitchen: making up a batch of seitan. Blending spices and miso and tofu and vital wheat gluten; kneading and pressing. Baking while heating the spicy, redolent broth to simmer with. Vegan cooking somehow makes me so profoundly happy it is almost impossible to describe. It seems we spend less, eat better, and enjoy everything so much more.

Upon waking, my 13 year old son opens his eyes and says, “What is that unbelievably good smell?” I am transported back to the days when the children were littles and I wasn’t sewing as much (and certainly not as a business owner) and I cooked so much more than I do today. Today, these days I am overworked and jumpy and not quite as able to walk through my kitchen chopping and sauteing and washing up with fragrant, thick soap suds.

In the studio I watch a lesson on sewing with organdy and organza, slowly adding to my repertoire of skills. I print out a template for costume sewing. Answer an email and snap a photo for a potential client. Upstairs again and switch off the hot broth pot and set aside; making a plan for tomorrow. To the grocery store for seltzer water, celery and an onion, for kombucha for Ralph and gallon ziploc bags for freezing. Another fall day with those quiet responsibilities wherein life passes in measured tread.

I am not a single mom

I am not a “single mom” when Ralph leaves for a weekend or a week, on a conference or business trip. A single mom has to do all this shit without support on the daily. Me, I have a few days of focus and a bit of adrenaline and anyway, I could put a thing or two on the back burner if I need to.

That said, I do have to focus as it’s all on me. Up in the morning and the kitties need to be fed; Herbert Pocket does this adorable thing where when we take the lid of the cat food bin, she pops her little paws on the ledge and inspects the level of cat food inside. I get to take the dog outside on his walks, and make sure he’s fed and has enough water. I scritch him a little extra besides; as hard as I worked on washing him yesterday his fur is so thick and he could use another combing and bath! Maybe in a day or two.

Phoenix tells me tonight, after I paint their nails (black, for Halloween!) – “Thank you for getting me pizza this morning. That was the sweetest thing to wake up to.” While it is certainly true that teens can fend or even cook for themselves, I still feel it’s my responsibility as a parent to try to do a little of that work for them. 

Today also I took a bit of cake down to the recovery Club I frequent, right before I pick up the pizza. I slice the slab into two-bite size morsels and arranged them on a large platter. When I cook at the Club, or prep food, men swarm around. Attention; they need attention. “I’ll have a hot dog,” a young man toting a toddler instructs me – mistaking me for the kitchen worker that’s there during limited hours. I explain the situation to him: I’m not a member of the Club and the kitchen isn’t open at th emoment. Other fellows mill around, wanting to tell me about their job (or lack thereof) or just say Hi or whatever. But this is one place that’s good to leave food, because people are always coming through hungry, some off the street. When I first got sober I cooked on the regular because I felt desperate, and grateful, and wanted to give something to the group. And one day a fellow called me, “That chick that always brings food,” and I thought, Well that’s enough of that for now. That particular fellow is very very ill now and every time I see him I am not sure if I’ll see him again.

Tonight, incredibly, for dinner I decide to give a brown rice recipe a try: a (vegan) cheesy broccoli brown rice bake. I had enough brown rice growing up in the bus, I took a solid thirty-year hiatus, but I’m ready to try again. This evening I just know it will turn out wonderfully, and it does – accompanying the bean burritos and the cole slaw Ralph provides. I love peeling off the foil from a hot casserole and letting it sit just five minutes before spooning it out. I love watching how happy people are for hot food – my family yes, and a guest over for dinner.

Ralph is home and after my shower he comes to bed and I put my head on his chest and can feel my hair, down and brushed out, spill across his shoulder. He is warm and strong and feels exactly like home to me. And I know he’s too tired to pay me much mind by now, but my own mind is still a ways from being sleepy. I have had three days’ of hard work and I have some things to worry about besides. So after we say goodnight the pets gather round; two kitties flank me in the bed and I am still up just a little longer, a little deeper into the night before I sink back to sleep.

Cotton; Rayon Fine Sweater Knit

with the stillness of the air

I am playing a game with myself where I try to hustle up work, and then try to catch up with what I’ve hustled, and work as quickly and expertly as possible. So far, it’s going swimmingly. My studio is well-equipped to handle a seamless workflow, and every day I have something new on my table. A few times a week I meet with someone in town and hem a dress, or help design a garment. It’s a super good gig.

I have tremendous hopes to somehow start socking aside funds to buy my oldest the best tablet I can. Seems impossible with bills and all that sort of thing because we are in debt. But if there’s anything I’ve learned in the last few years, it’s to not decide what’s possible, what’s not. Just do my thing and know somehow it will all work out.

Meanwhile, of course, I have a household to take care of. Lately: a very active hummingbird community outside my kitchen window. The little creatures fight with one another over two feeders, likely lured in part by the large orchids and hibiscus just inside the window. I notice my neighbor’s feeder looks sad and empty. I notice, with some small degree of satisfaction.

The kitties race back and forth through the kitchen. They hop up on the countertop and watch. Regrettably, none of them do that kitty “chirp” I like so much. Herbert Pocket, in particular, is most interested. She used to catch tiny bats in the yard of our last home. She is gentle and sweet here in the home, beyond reproach; but in her heart lurks that killer instinct.

Cotton; Rayon Fine Sweater Knit

Blazer; Thread Paint Detail

Child's Blazer (3T); Hand-Embroidered

Panty Clone

Double-Hooded Sweater

Scrunderoos!

scrunderoos for me + u

I was warned the Scrundlewear pattern from Stitch Upon a Time (SUAT) was so comfy you wouldn’t want to wear anything else –

they were right.

Scrunderoos!

So, these are so comfortable I feel the sting of tears.

So: stitchers. Like most forms of briefs, these are arguably best made in a knit with two-way stretch and recovery – what’s commonly called a 4-way knit (knit fabric terminology isn’t standardized and can be confusing – if you have any doubts, please ask!). If you find something that’s 90-something percent cotton (or bamboo or rayon), and a single-digit percentage of lycra, elastane, or spandex (three words for the same thing) – you’re golden. If you have a knit with stretch but without recovery – then go ahead and make the elastic version (either lingerie elastic, or encased-in-bands elastic):


Scrunderoos!

I have a serger (two, in fact) – but I prefer sewing with zig zag on my home machine. ‘cuz I’m SPICY LIKE THAT. I got a secret tip when I sew up clothes: I bring all thread colors to may table, and change my thread/bobbin as much as possible to make sure the thread always matches whatever fabric it shows in. That’s a level of detail most stitchers think is too much but did I mention –

I’M BATMAN!

Scrunderoos!

I am a little sad now because I am basically going to be making underwear constantly and will have little time for anything else. I also know these will last longer than even high-end RTW chonies!

Cool thoughts: Make up three matching pair at a time, it will go very quickly. During other projects, when you’re working with a good knit fabric that’s too adorable, cut out your waistband and leg bands (you’ll soon memorize your own size); safety pin the three and put them in a Ziploc. You can do the same for the three underwear pieces (back, front, and liner). Wait until you’ve got a nice collection of pieces – and have a panty-sewing day!

If you sew these up and love them as much as I do – you might want to consider the expansion pattern of sorts, Bunzies. There’s also a kids’ version of Scrundlewear, so you can make these up for the family. SUAT welcomes you to make these up and sell them for your boutique or one-off projects – make sure to attribute the lovely pattern.

Scrunderoos!

Now to find my crime-fighting sidekick!

beans

lemon-roasted garbanzo beans

This is one of my favorite snacks of all time! I have been known to make a midnight sandwich by simply stuffing these in a roll and devouring it! Doubltess some will like these hot, but I prefer them room temperature or cold. You are aiming for almost-overdone. These are also really great with a veggie tray, alongside a vegan ranch dip!

2 cans garbanzo beans
2 tablespoons olive oli
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon tamari
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper, chili powder, salt, and garlic powder

Preheat oven to 450°F. Drain the cans of garbanzo beans and save the liquid (this liquid is aquafaba, and it is the most magic baking and cooking ingredient).

Next, rinse the beans so they’re easy to handle. Sit down with a friend or your kids and de-hull each bean, setting the hulls aside for compost or the garbage. It is easy to de-hull – simply gently squeeze the pointy end of the bean and the hull slides off. Every bean has a hull, even if it doesn’t look like it! De-hulling two cans takes a few minutes, and there are shortcuts to be found. But I’ve never found a shortcut I liked as much as doing each bean by hand.

The good news is, you’re almost done!

Drizzle the oil on the beans. Place in the oven, single layer in a cookie pan, and roast about thirty minutes. About halfway through roasting, combine the lemon juice, tamari, and spices; add to the pan, stirring well.

Continue roasting. You have to really check the beans out. One minute they’ll be underdone and then next, overdone! But even a little overdone is better than under, in my opinion.

Enjoy!

We Visit Louis

if you fall asleep, down by the water / baby I’ll carry you all the way home

We Visit Louis

Christmas was not precisely difficult this year; but it was a bit off. On the 17th of December, a series of ATM fraud charges cleaned out our account – I mean entirely, taking our pending mortgage payment, and everything. Talk about an unpleasant surprise!

Then, Ralph shaved off his beard and left a huge push-broom moustache. Which he occasionally tries to rub on my soft skin. So that’s something that happened.

But – it’s impossible to have a poor holiday, or just a poor regular day, with my children. They keep things spicy. On the 9th, our oldest came out as non-binary, meaning they no longer associate with either the male or female. Fine, fine. After all – this is the child who changed their name at age eight. Not only do I totally respect this child’s autonomy, I also know it’s unlikely it’s “just a phase”, not that I wouldn’t support my kiddo – phase or no.

Night Creatures

(night creatures)

Using “they” and “them” pronouns for Phoenix has been such a novel experience – even harder than getting used to a name change. Ralph and I are at the stage where we are gun-shy around the female pronoun set. Every time we say “she” or “her” – about my mom, a friend, or a kitty cat – we flinch as we are sure we are getting it wrong! But – we’ll get used to it. Phoenix is very patient at correcting us politely.

Nels has taken off in gaming. He and I are downstairs at night – I’m sewing while he’s into Competitive Play on Overwatch, and has been recording, editing, and uploading compilations to his YouTube channel. In true Nels style, he is entirely immersed. After the summer where he was outside with the local tribe of boys – I mean he was always outside if he wasn’t at home eating or snuggling/sleeping – now he’s gaming all day unless I drag him out on errands.

Nels, The Joy of Gaming

The last few weeks I sewed so much for gifts and for clients that I was shipping and packing up and delivering faster than I could photograph. Having a little space to sew for myself, has been lovely.

So, we’re getting through. We had a lovely gift exchange and our first Christmas in our new house (we were traveling last year); we enjoyed our first vegan Christmas as well, with a repast from The Herbivorous Butcher. Life doesn’t get boring, let’s just say that!

Wishing all of you a really fabulous end-of-year.

Me, Kitchen