Sunday, June 28, 2020

61 Years Being Black in America

I was watching commercials the other day and I was struck by two things...

One was a recycling commercial - and all I can think is that as a child we recycled everything.  Milk was delivered by the Milkman and we washed the bottles out, put them back in the steel box on the porch, and the Milkman took them when he delivered our new order.  This was in 1970.  We were given paper bags when we shopped at the supermarket, unless we shopped in a small store.  Then we took our own cloth bags. Arts and crafts at school were done with recycled coffee cans, toilet paper & paper towel rolls and popsicle sticks that we washed off and brought to school.

Recycling is not new.

Another commercial was about black people using black businesses. I had a black pediatrician when I was a little girl.  My recollection is that white doctors didn't really mess with black people. I remember having to be courteous and well behaved as a little girl when we went to the white people's pharmacy.  My mother insisted we use that one because she was a nurse at the local hospital and knew they had the most current drugs.  The corner store was run by a black man.  I got my hair done at the black beauty parlor and I went to an all black church.

Most of my dealings were with black businessmen when I was little because integration hadn't really taken place yet...and I was raised in the Northeast.

I was called a nigger at 5 years old.  I knew white people were different and lived different lives from black people because it was constantly pushed in my face. My kindergarten teacher was amazed that I was well spoken and could read, that my Mother read to us at night before bed and wasn't a domestic. I grew up in the Northeast.

I was never told I was pretty for a black girl.  You know why?  Because I was a light-skinned little black girl with long brown hair in braids to my waist. White people appreciated that I looked more like them...other darker black skin people not so much.  But that's a different tale for a different day.

When my parents bought a home in a predominately white neighborhood, one by one the houses on the block were sold by the white families. In two years, my entire block was black. The next block was mixed for probably the next five years. They made it harder for black folks to buy houses on that part of the block. By the time I graduated from high school there were only two white families still living there.

I was ten when they burned a cross on a black family's lawn three blocks from my house. And I was eleven when New Jersey made integration mandatory in towns, so I was bused to middle school to make the town racially balanced. BTW, the white kids left in my area, walked to school. I WAS bused thirty minutes away. The only good thing about it was that we were bused to a brand new school.

In high school I was pretty popular with my peers and their parents. But in my sophomore year our town experienced race riots at our high school. I was on one of three buses of ALL black children trying to leave the campus. We were surrounded by white parents who shouted, spit on us and called us every racial epitaph but a child of God. It was 1975. I was a sophomore in high school and some of those very parents had complimented me for a drama club performance not two weeks before.

I lived in a predominantly white town in New Jersey in 1975.

I won't even begin to detail the micro and macro-aggressions that occurred as I started working.  Things other black friends and family members had a hard time with because they'd grown up in predominantly black towns and went to black colleges. I thought I knew white people having lived with, gone to school and college with them, but even I was surprised sometimes by the racism, cronyism and downright ignorance.

All this to say, I haven't been sewing.  The news still feels like a foot on my chest and I'm having the hardest time breathing. I'm actually relieved that I don't have go to work every day because being the only black person at my firm, I don't have to act like this shit doesn't bother me each and every day. That I'm not constantly worrying for my black sons, grandsons and my brother.

Wearing my mask on NJTransit 
(public transportation) headed to NYC

...let's not add Corvid-19 into the mix and how it's rearing it's head everywhere people think it's a political decision to wear a f*cking mask! A MASK - that protects not only others but yourself from catching a life-threatening disease.

My sewing is stifled by all of the things occurring around me. Now I take responsibility for letting this affect me. However, I'm STILL not capable of sewing garments and taking pictures to share on social media while the world seems to be going to hell. So my blog sits dormant. I've bought no fabric. I've sworn off Hobby Lobby, Michaels & Joann's and the NYC Garment District just opened for business with social distancing last week. Although, I'm still working from home for the next couple of months...

This is where I'm at...maybe there will be more sewing later in the month. Maybe there won't be... always more later!  

Saturday, June 13, 2020

A Personal Note...

It's been over three weeks since I've posted to my blog because the events currently going on in the United States have TOTALLY overwhelmed me. While I've expressed my rage on my Instagram account, I've basically ignored my blog because it's easier to repost than to actually sit down and describe my anger, hurt, anguish and pain.

As we all know, George Floyd was murdered on May 25th. The civil unrest both in the US and globally, the subsequent self-examination of a segment of the white population in America and the protesting that's happened, has consumed me. I've felt mostly rage...too much rage to speak as I normally do here in calm tones.

So I've remained quiet in this space. I wrote a blog post for The Sewcialists because it felt like the right place to rage against the injustices that are done to black makers in our crafting communities...and even after I wrote it I had nothing to say here.

In all honesty I still don't. So I'm going to direct you to two black bloggers who spoke more eloquently about this than I can at this moment - Renee (Miss Celie's Pants) wrote this. Then Elaine (lanieemakes) wrote this.

Following and reporting on the tepid and half-ass responses of the major sewing machine companies, the craft store, that alt-right supposedly Christian craft store, and the pattern company that's been bought for the third time in 3 years and wondering why they're losing market share has eaten away at my desire to sew.  So sewing has been pushed to the bottom of my list and I'm clawing to restore it to the top.

This time I've chosen not share my feelings cause dayum if you don't understand by now, it doesn't matter what I type here, you're not changing your mind, your attitudes, or your practices.

I'm closing the comments. This is NOT a conversation.  This is a place holder post ~ just like the pandemic caused a pre and post Corvid reality so did the murder of George Floyd. Which side of history are you standing on because things are changing...Yes, times are a 'changin!

I don't know when I will be back with new makes...because suddenly it doesn't seem important anymore. But hey, if getting back to normal is your jam, just avoid this space for a minute... 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Are you buying patterns?

I'm asking because I haven't bought new patterns from either the Big 4 or the Indie Pattern companies in months. A little of it is the pandemic (cause I did want three of the new Simplicity patterns) and the fact that in my area all of the fabric stores are closed and I'm avoiding Walmart! Way too many people in Walmart for my comfort.

The other part is except for some Friday Pattern Company styles, there's been nothing I really wanted from the Big 4 or Indie pattern makers. I've been a faithful purchaser of patterns from the Big 4 for the last 40 years. So I own a TON of patterns. I even have a good collection of recent Indie patterns like FPC, Cashmerette, True Bias, Sew Liberated and Grainline Studio. I don't own any of the indie PDF pattern companies...cause PDF.

Never mind the vintage patterns (60s and 70s) I've collected, as well as, the older Indie Patterns, I bought in the 80s. There is a lot of pattern goodness stashed in the sewing cave.

While I understand why the pattern companies continue to churn out patterns, I'm not buying. One ~ because I no longer believe I'm their target customer. Two ~ because if I really look in the pattern collection I probably already own something like it. Now I know it seems if the online sewing community thrives on being able to use the same pattern you've sewn, however, this is no longer my journey.

My birthday is in a few days and I realized that I will be 70 in 9 years.  I need to rethink how I'm allocating my resources especially since my sewing cave is fully loaded. The pandemic has proven that to me. I need to settle into the items I've collected and use them. I possess the skills to make alterations to patterns so they look up-to-date. Then there are the hundreds of patterns I own that are still current but unused.

So I'm not buying new patterns.  Are you?  And if so, Indie or Big4 or a combination of both? The pandemic has really done a number on our ability to acquire supplies that we need to sew, so I'm wondering, are you buying patterns?  This is the Question of the Day so talk back to me.

New makes are up next on the blog, I promise! LOL! always more later!

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Quarantine Week 10 - Thursday

Well it's Thursday again and it's my 10th Thursday in Quarantine.  Yeah I'm not calling it staying at home anymore...this is Quarantine! *LOL*  Though the news is starting to get better in the NJ/NY/CT area, however, not well enough to allow things to go back to "normal."  However, I don't even know what that means anymore...

Anyway, it's also the start of Memorial Day weekend and I'm on vacation until next Wednesday.  Yes, even though I'm working from home, we've been encouraged to take vacation days so here I am.

Since I'm not an outdoors kinda girl, opening the beaches means nothing to me...although weather wise it's gonna be cool for most of the weekend and a little rainy...but I guess if you're stir crazy at is an alternative. Me, I'm going to sleep later, read some and sew some. I don't have any specific sewing plans. I'm going to let the fabric talk to me. 

In the meantime...

I've been working on another version of Simplicity 8888, using a striped linen from the collection.

It's almost finished - just needs facings. So pictures probably early next week due to weather.

And, do you listen to the Love To Sew Podcast?  This week's podcast is called Sew Inspired about who inspire sewists.  Helen and Caroline share the sewists that inspire them then they list sewists who have been inspired by other sewists.  That was a lot of sewists, smile! 

I'm thrilled to have been mentioned by my fellow sewists. There's also a link to the podcast I did with Helen and Caroline in October 2018. Since we have time on our hands, maybe have a listen. This is the 146th podcast and there are so many interesting small business sewists and sewing figures in the community that have been interviewed. Not to mention podcasts about sewing techniques and fabrics. So go, have a listen, enjoy!

Me...I'm going to be finishing up this dress and working on a couple more garments. If you're in the US, I hope you enjoy the Memorial Day weekend and stay safe out there! always more later!

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Trying not to own all the fabric!

I recently placed a fabric order with StyleMaker Fabrics for two pieces of fabric...

I've sewn the only lemon fabric I had ~ making this dress last summer.  The rosy piece caught my eye because it's precious and honestly I don't have anything like this in my fabric collection.

Earlier this spring, I purchased two border print pontes - cause border print and ponte...

BTW this is ponte still on Fabric Mart's site!

I also purchased a panel cotton voile and a rayon black and floral...

I've been on a maxi dress sew and I thought these would make amazing maxi dresses. I've also really wanted to make this dress - Simplicity 9041:

...and finally this Vogue 9253.

Yes I'm one of the last people to make this dress...

My challenge is that both dresses are fabric hogs.  The S9041 takes 5.5 yds of 60" wide fabric and the V9253 takes 5 yards of 60" wide fabric. Lately the most I've purchased is 4 yards for a single piece. I own only 3 pieces of 5 yard pieces of fabric and I'm concerned that I will go crazy and purchase several pieces of 6 yard pieces for them to sit on my shelves.  

I mean I own a lot of fabric...

This was when I was pulling fabric to share with a friend

...and I'd really like to make some maxi dresses that don't need a dozen buttons down the front!

So what's the point of this post...well I'm making plans and sewing but even with all of the fabric I own...I still need to buy more to make my sewing dreams come true.  Does anyone else ever feel this way? *sigh*

Okay, back to my sewing machine. I'm sewing a couple of maxi dresses using patterns that aren't fabric hogs. It will probably be a minute before these come to the blog because next weekend is Memorial Day weekend. While I am working from home during these quarantine times, I do have six days Imma sew.  Sew to my heart's content! always more later!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Starting with Simplicity 8888

We're going to have to start saying "Before Coronvirus" and "After Coronvirus" so BC2020 and AD2020 as abbreviations. BC2020 I bought several maxi dress patterns...actually probably some of the last Big4 patterns I purchased...and will purchase for awhile.  I've got issues with the pattern companies but we all know that so moving on...

I purchased this pattern last summer because I liked the bodice and it's front opening, the side gathers and the zipper in the back. It wasn't until I actually got the pattern home that I realized the center front and center back pieces are one long piece and the side front and back pieces are separate pieces. So the pattern sat while I wrapped my mind around the construction.

Then seasons changed and it got placed back in the uncut pattern piles which seem to litter my sewing cave. Another reason I'm not buying any new patterns. However, in the time of Corona, I seem to have an abundance of time to sew. I've also finally admitted to myself that it will be summer when I'm allowed back in public, so I'm sewing summer.

I pulled this pattern out of a pile after making 45+ buttonholes and sewing on the same number of buttons. I was so ready to sew another type of opening. However after choosing a fabric to go with this pattern, I found myself taking the "Pattern Hacking" on the envelope cover literally. Because my dress only uses the bodice and facing pieces...

Going my own way was necessary because of my fabric choice...

Supply List ~
4 yards of a medium weight border print cotton jacquard from Fabric Mart
22" white invisible zipper
Interfacing from Steinlauf & Stoeller

Pattern Alterations ~
-  This is where I deviated from the pattern instructions because I always saw the entire bodice as separate from the skirt.
-  So I cut the center front and back pieces off matching them to the side pieces.
-  Then instead of using the pattern pieces for the skirt, I cut two 45" wide pieces.
-  The back piece was cut in half so I could insert the zipper
-  The front piece was left the entire width which is different from the pattern instructions

Construction ~
This dress was all about using the border print to the best advantage. I made a couple of changes to the construction of the dress and I'm going to list them below.  However, please feel free to skip over this. I'm documenting it here so when I make this dress again, I can review what I did. 

1.  Shoulder Seams
I should have made this alteration first but of course I noticed it when I tried it on.  So I sewed the princess seams 1" wide until about 4" down the princess seams for both the front and back seams.

2.  Center Front Bodice
I made a change to the center front because the opening was way too low.  I made an mark on the pattern 7.5" from the top of the bodice, after measuring the front piece against my body.

3. Skirt
Since I cut the front skirt pattern as one piece instead of the three pieces the pattern suggests, I had to start the gathering in a different place.  I used the center front side seams as my guide to start the gathering. My end place was 1" before the side seam. I did the exact thing with the two back pieces.

4. Side Slits
I omitted both slits. I didn't want to interrupt the flow of the border print on the bottom of the dress. Though when I make this again I will use at least one side slit...two is a little too much for me now.

One more thing - I will need to remember to add the pockets before sewing the bodice to the skirt. I didn't this time and it was a challenge to add them back in later.

Now A Few Pictures ~

This version is a little looser in the bodice than I wanted. The fabric makes this dress and while its a little stiffer, it works. I will take in the side seams for the next one.  I also want to make it in a drapier fabric so it will have a better hang. So of course I've already picked out fabric to try this again...sooner or later.

Next up on the blog is a cardigan and shirt. While I'm sewing for summer, I'm realistic enough to know that there will be cool days when I will want to wear my white jeans. Plus after six maxi dresses...I'm ready for something else. That's whats next on the blog... always more later!

Saturday, May 09, 2020

A Little Housekeeping...

This post is about housekeeping because there's some new readers and some that are back after an absence. Hey we all seem to have a little more quality time these days...

I just wanted to remind you of a few things ~

1. If you sign in as "Unknown" or "Anonymous" would you kindly sign your name at the end of your response to a post. It's helpful because if you have a question, I know who I'm addressing. Also, as general principle I don't answer questions from unknown or anonymous posters because I don't know who I'm speaking to.

2. When posting a question, please re-read my blog post to insure I haven't already answered your question. Many times the question asked is already in the post. I typically don't answer those questions because I've already given you the answer.

3. If you ask a question that isn't in the post, I will reply. Sometimes I've forgotten something or you think of something new.  I try to respond promptly but don't forget about time changes especially if you're not in the US.

4. I've written over 2000 blog posts. If you're interested in a topic, I've probably already written about it.  Kindly check titles in the side bar under Blog Index - there is a link to everything I've written about it. Say you're interested in "Shirts" or a "Specific Pattern Number" just click the link and it will take you to ALL of the blog posts I've tagged with that title or pattern number.  Kindly check that before asking me to write about a topic, especially if you're new.

5. Like I said, I've been writing this blog for 15 years. I've pretty much discussed everything and then some. However, if you still can't find what you're looking for in the blog index, try the search box in the upper left above my logo, pictured below. Type a sentence or a couple of words and everything related to that will show up as a search.

6.  One more reminder that if you read my blog through a blog reader and leave a comment, it may be weeks before I see it, especially now that I'm home bound. I primarily respond to comments and questions left on my blog through blogger. I may see your comment on one of the readers long after you've written it but I don't respond to comments there. Just wanted to remind everyone because I checked into bloglovin' a few days ago and noticed comments on the bottom of a few posts.

Finally, I want to thank everyone who visits, reads, links to and especially takes the time to leave a comment! I read every one of them because they're precious to me. I truly appreciate the interaction, the conversations, some of the suggestions (okay keeping it real LOL!) and the fact that you return time and again to read. It lets me know that I'm not just pontificating out into the ether.

One last thing, I haven't written about politics or the handling of the virus because honestly I just can't handle it. I live in the epicenter of the virus and the day to day of surviving here takes about everything I have. I can say I'm preparing for the worse in November. I'm no longer surprised by the hate, avarice, ignorance, lack of compassion and understanding, religious intolerance and prejudice displayed by my fellow Americans. What will be, will be and we will either reap what is sown or benefit from the benevolence.

A new dress post will be up next. always more later!

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Before after and already...

I made McCalls 7385 in August 2016 after I'd lost 35 lbs., started a new job and was getting used to a new dress code.  It was a wonderful maxi dress, comfortable, easy to wear and maybe I was a tad overdressed, but I loved wearing it. Last summer I gained back all of the weight I lost and it became to hard to zip up. 

At first I was going to put it in the donation pile. After some thought I decided to recycle the zipper and the skirt portion. The bodice was tossed. I was having a Myosotis moment and decided the skirt could be used for another one.

I pulled out some leftover white linen (I love my fabric collection!) and cut a bodice, a collar, undercollar and short sleeves. Then I put the pieces in my cut pile. Somehow, it got lost under the other garments in the pile. I found it recently when I was moving things around in the Sewing Cave.  Since I was on another Myosotis riff, I thought now was the perfect time to finish it off.

However, as I constructed the dress, I made some changes to it. 
o  The collar, undercollar and short sleeves were omitted. 
o  To finish off the neckline, I turned it down 1/2" and topstitched it flat. 
Now I fully admit this was lazy. 
o  I was doing some somersaults in my head on how to make a bias binding facing that would clean finish the neckline. 
o  I decided I wasn't sewing couture so this was good enough. 
o  The armholes are bound with white bias binding from the notions collection.

Supplies Used ~
1 yard white linen
2 yards white bias binding 
3 5/8" white mother of pearl buttons
Interfacing from Farmhouse Fabrics 

Everything was already in the sewing cave. It just needed to be rounded up and used. May I say yet again how much I love my fabric & notion collections!

A Few Pictures ~

It's not perfect but it's good enough. I can wear it this summer plus I've recycled a piece and added it back to my wardrobe. 

I feel like I'm finally adjusting to this #sewstayhome situation. I've stopped working against my natural body rhythms and just going with the flow with everything. It's made it easier to get through my days and it's put my sewing into prospective...which I've been doing more of lately.

The grandkids were here with their Mother and there's only so 
much social distancing you can do with little people!

Another dress comes to the blog next... always more later!

Sunday, May 03, 2020

A Black & White Maxi Shirtdress

As I stated before my cut pile is doing nothing for me right now...nothing!  I found when I pulled some different fabrics and started using them my sewjo came back. This fabric was one of the ones that sparked joy...

This linen/cotton blend was purchased from Fabric Mart's online store last year or the year before. I don't remember but it was a recent purchase because it's in the new fabric piles. 

I was really excited to work with this fabric because the maxi shirt dress I envisioned would be different from the print, chambray/denim and stripe fabrics I've previously used. I thought I had enough fabric until I laid it out. And then the angst began because it's shorter than I expected meaning I had to change to my vision. I HATE when that happens!

Supply List ~
3 yards black/white cotton/linen print from Fabric Mart
.5 yard black cotton shirting
1.5 yard black bias binding remnant
12 5/8" black & white buttons from the collection
Interfacing from Steinlauf & Stoeller and Farmhouse Fabrics

Design and Construction ~
Initially I made the decision to make the collar, undercollar, and front facing from black shirting. I wanted to emphasize the black in the print. However, I was short on fabric for sleeves. At first I cut the sleeves using half print fabric/half black shirting but when I put the bodice on the dressform, I realized that they wouldn't work for me.

I really liked it sleeveless.  Since I'm planning to wear it this summer, sleeveless will work so I went with black binding for the armholes.

Not having enough print fabric for pockets, I cut them out in the black shirting. However, when it came time to sew the skirt together, I omitted them.  I'm not really a pocket person, so won't miss them.  I add them to the dresses as they speak to me. This one wasn't speaking loudly.

I always add the interfacing to the bodice of the dresses. When I was making the skirt bodice with a separate button band, I didn't add interfacing because I turned the band three times. More than enough fabric to hold and stabilize a buttonhole right? On my last three makes, I've interfaced the skirt just once - this time. For the cotton sateen the fabric was more than stable enough, the chambray was a toss-up and I went without.  But this linen/cotton was too light and unstable not to interface the front band.

A couple of other design decisions...
I topstitched the collar and undercollar in white thread to tie the look together.

I added some red coloring (sharpie marker after performing a wash test) to several of the flowers on the dress, just because I thought there should be a little red in in it. I like the occasional flashes of red when the dress moves.

After those decisions, it was a simple sew since I've made this so many times before.  Though I can tell you that I'm done sewing buttonholes and buttons for a while.

A Few Pictures ~

I love the drape and flow of this one. It's definitely unlike the previous ones. I have one more to share but I've already moved on. Another maxi dress will be coming to the blog soon since I've made six in total. always more later!

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Seven Weeks In...

It's Thursday again so it's time for a check-in and an update especially since this is the last day of April.  

Let's start with garments made ~

I've made five dresses.  Three have been blogged. The last two will probably be photographed this weekend because it's supposed to be sunny and warm all weekend. So blog posts next week.

My sewjo came roaring back and I made five versions of my hacked Myosotis dress.

This is what's I'm working on now ~

It's almost finished and may be completed in time to be photographed this weekend too. I hope so. That way I can clear the decks off because I have 3-4 more maxidresses I want to make, as well as a cardigan and shirt from my cut pile

Fabric In/Out Update ~
I was relatively good this month. I bought 15 yards of fabric supporting three online fabric stores - StyleMaker Fabrics, Sewing Studio and Fabric Mart.

My out total was 103 yards.  This number included my three latest dresses. Then I gave 90 yards to a sewing friend. She's relatively new to sewing and has no real stash.  All of the fabric stores here in NJ are closed. She was bemoaning that fact so we did a virtual tour. She picked some pieces out and drove over to pick them up while we practiced social distancing. 

Now y'all have seen photos of the fabric collection so it didn't really matter that she got serious yardage. I'm just happy she's going to be able to sew for awhile because here in NJ we still have no open date.

This makes my year in/out totals:
Fabric In: 36.5
Fabric Out: 138.5

Coronavirus Update ~
It's the end of April and I'm trying to stay positive and remain hopeful. I'm believing that we've turned a corner and are getting close to the end of this. I know things won't be the way they were before and that we're headed into a new "normal."  

I also realize that I'm lucky to have a job where I can work from home and still get paid. My heart goes out to those who have lost their jobs, have not yet received their stimulus checks or unemployment money.  I know these are challenging times for you.

I also mourn with anyone who has lost family members to this vicious disease. We've had several deaths of elderly family members too.  Some of my Mother's contemporaries, so this has been hard on her. It's sad that older people who are still living vibrant lives will no longer be with us to share their knowledge, be a bridge between the generations, and share love.

If you live in a state where the virus is not as prevalent, I would hope that you would say a prayer and have some compassion for those of us in states still going through. It's very surreal and believe me we want to go back to work as much as some of you do too. However, I'm thrilled that my Governor and the Governors in surrounding states are taking their time. I DON'T want to have to go through this again!

As I said previously, new makes are coming to the blog next week. Next week which is MAY! Next week which will begin my eighth week of quarantine... always more later!


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