mom clothes

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Winter in Maine means months of sweaters and snowpants, hot chocolate and mittens. For Christmas, the girl received a beautiful puzzle inspired by Disney’s Snow White with artwork painted by Tim Rogerson in a style subtly reminiscent of Picasso. I know that sounds like a strange combination but click through to see the original artwork, the artist really makes it work. Apparently the artist’s style made quite an impression on the girl because a few days after we worked on the puzzle she created this mitten picture beginning with a tracing of her own hands.

child's drawing of mittens

Later, the boy saw her picture and got an idea. He very carefully explained how we could sew mittens by putting our hands down on fabric instead of paper, tracing and cutting. He went on to describe how he would sew the mittens all around the hand and thumb. He even had some ideas about how to add details such as the hearts in the girl’s picture. I wish I could say we carried out his plan but he lost interest at that point. Sigh.

I did however incorporate his plan into mittens for myself with a little help from the kids. We traced my hand and cut out the pattern. I decided to use the fair isle decorated sleeves of a felted sweater to make my mittens. This lovely wool sweater was sent to me by my sweet friend Amy who thought that I could do something with it. Here’s what we did Amy!

cutting felted fair isle sweater into mittens
partially sewn mitten upcycle recycle refashion wool sweater sleeve

Although I kept the part of the seam that was already sewn, I decided not to sew a standard seam around the thumb and hand. Instead I overlapped the fabric, basted across the overlap and then used my needle felting tool to felt the overlap. My intention was to eliminate a hard seam on the inside, especially at the fingertips. This worked with some success. The sides of the mittens and thumb felted together well leaving almost no visible seam. The fingertip area, unfortunately, did not hold together so well. In fact I’ve been wearing them with the basting stitch holding the ends together which sort of negates the point of wool mittens. But despite the little draftiness at the ends they are still the warmest, softest mittens I have. I do intend to take a minute to work some more on the fingertips and thumbtips to close them up. If I can stop wearing them long enough.

mitten sewn from felted recycled upcycled refashioned wool sweater

P.S. Just in case you want to make your own sewn mittens, I highly recommend sewing in a diamond shaped gusset between the thumb and first finger. If you pin your mitten together and try it on, leaving that spot open, you’ll see why you need just a bit of extra fabric in there.

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Months ago I spun and dyed some oatmeal BFL for myself. Three ply light fingering for socks dyed a variegated spiced pumpkin color.

three ply light fingering handspun from blue faced leicester top

I was quite pleased with the yarn so it took me ages to pick a sock pattern out. Even though I already knew that these would not be the last socks I’d be knitting. I finally picked a pretty pattern called Irish Ale Socks, by RedScot. Now I couldn’t be smart and just follow the pattern of course. I decided to do them upside down, or toe up. Why do I like toe up? Probably because I prefer to do the hard parts first, i.e. the toe and the heel. And when you are using handspun, you’d rather get the important parts done so you can know you have enough yarn to finish rather than run out around the ball of the foot or whatever. Much easier to adjust the length in the leg if necessary. In this case I probably have enough to produce a third sock! Lots of details of my woes in crafting the short row heels with gussets on my Ravelry project page. They are certainly not perfect but I’m pretty pleased with them and they are on my feet right now. That’s handspun angora for the cuffs. Thank you Maine for cold and wet weather in June, perfect for wearing my handknit socks with clogs.

hand knit socks made from hand dyed and spun wool and angora

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I’m a member of a group on Ravelry that challenges each other to try new one-skein projects each month. One of the new things we are trying is moebius knitting. See the mathematical definition of moebius. You probably played with paper models of these at some point in school. If not—get out some paper, scissors and tape and have some fun with math!

I used some unknown soft acrylic yarn I have had for ages to try out knitting a moebius shape. Here is the resulting cowl modeled beautifully by my friend Linda.

moebius mobius cowl knit scarf

And laid out flat. It’s hard to tell but there is no wrong side since a moebius strip has only one side.

]mobius moebius cowl scarf knitted

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pink tie dye shirt with scattered daisies

Please excuse the silly look on my face. Rich told me I looked too serious. An old white shirt freshened up with pink on pink tie dye and then embellished across one shoulder with a little daisy rubber stamp using fabric inks. And a little frog hiding in the daisies at the hip.

rubber stamp with fabric ink on tie dye shirt rubber stamped frog and daisies embellish tie dye shirt

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apron shaped remnant of Free Spirit's Marabella[

. . . despite the fact that I don’t wear aprons! In fact the only apron in the house is a crayon apron my mother made for me when I was a kid. The girl wears it when she pretends to be Cinderella. This fabric may look familiar, it’s Marabella from Free Spirit, and I made a skirt from it for the girl a while back. She saw me working on this and commented, “It’s okay Mommy, you can have a skirt like me.” Thank you, daughter-chan.

If you hadn’t noticed there’s an internet sewing and SAHM and retro house thing that’s been going around for ages about aprons. I don’t really know what the appeal is but I guess it’s finally gnawed away at me. That and a sewing group I belong to decided to do an apron sew-along, so fine, I’d probably never sew an apron if I didn’t have this particular piece of fabric and the sew-along deadline.

Despite the suggestive shape I did have to cut it to achieve the look I wanted. The long straps did stay exactly as is except for tapering the ends. The straps are long enough to wear tied in front or in a nice bow in the back. I love to tie bows, even if I don’t particularly care to wear them.

bow tied in the back on an apron

I rounded the corners with a plate, inserted a hidden layer of absorbent cotton velour using the always handy fusible web, trimmed the edge with cotton lace and gathered the top. I topstitched everywhere and I even starched the lace! I hate starch—the only reason it’s in the house is because Rich uses it when he irons his shirts. Somehow it seemed the right thing to do in a retro sort of way. Like how I photographed it in the kitchen in front of the vintage woodwork?

I also handquilted around one of the flowers. I’d planned to do a scattering but I’m not sure if I will because it doesn’t show up very well. Maybe better after it gets washed. Of course that would mean I would have to use it. I do cook, or at least I used to, I just have never worn aprons. Maybe around the holidays. It seems like a wintry, holiday sort of fabric don’t you think?

Free Spirit Marabella floral fabric apron with cotton lace and tie in front

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long drawstring skirt made from fringed rayon jacquard scarf

This was originally a very long (72″ x 28″?) rayon jacquard scarf with fringed ends. I believe it came from Nepal. It’s a coral sort of pink color. Not something I would normally pick for myself but for some reason I really like it. I know I was not going to wear it as a scarf so I decided to make it over into a skirt.

The fabric is lusciously soft and drapey and I was terrified to cut into it. I pinned and pressed very carefully to line everything up and then cut out a few inches of the middle to make the skirt the right length for me. I sewed up the side seams, finished the top edge and turned it over to encase 1/2″ elastic and a drawstring cord. Very simple.

The drawstring cord took a bit of time because I had a foolish notion to unravel the few inches I had cut off and twist the long weft threads into a cord. It worked but it wasn’t as neat as I had hoped it would be. With the help of my spindle I plied it and then doubled it again and threaded the ends with some olivewood beads from Israel. Surprisingly the drawstring is stronger than it looks. If it doesn’t last I’ll just find some matching pearl cotton.

wood beaded drawstring cord on jacquard skirt

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So I’ve got to buy some new batteries before I can take any pictures but I’ll let you know what I’ve been up to anyway.

  • WIP: A little knitting with some of my own handspun!
  • My first Etsy listing: two sister skirts for a friend’s daughters, this is going to turn into three, one for the mom as well.
  • A skirt for me out of a really soft rayon jacquard woven scarf, from Nepal I think. I never wore it as a scarf so I decided it needed a new home or a new incarnation. Definitely more wearable as a skirt.
  • A trial pair of knit shorts for me to test a new Mom skort pattern I am working on. Needs a little more tweaking but will work for pajamas.
  • More Sculpey projects than you want to know about or I want to remember.
  • A little amigurumi nutkin combining crochet and knitting made from my own hand-spindled yarn. Appropriate since “ami” in Japanese can actually refer to either skill even though the compound word, amigurumi, has generally come to mean cute animals or objects made with single crochet in the round.

In other news, the girl is finally interested in learning to spell her name. I dropped the garden snips point down into my foot, earning myself a tetanus shot and a round of antibiotics. Next time I’ll wear different shoes.

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    I discovered that my summer wardrobe is missing sleeveless shirts so I decided to make one quickly by refashioning a well-loved long sleeve tee shirt. This shirt may be 10 years old, made by the GAP originally, always long lasting. It was finally getting a bit ragged around the neckline and cuffs though so I cut the sleeves off, cut the neckline lower and used Made By Rae’s ruffle treatment around the neckline. It came out pretty well and comfortable in the sunnier weather we’ve been having. My 3.5 year old daughter kindly took the photo for me. I don’t usually like having my picture taken but she did a great job so I’ll share it with you, tilt and all. :)

    ruffle trimmed tank top refashioned from long sleeve tee shirt

    photo credit: the girl

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    A skirt for me. Wow, it’s been a while. This skirt has a lot of features that I wouldn’t normally wear or sew for myself. First I used a conversation print – Alexander Henry‘s Starlings. I rarely wear prints at all. I also used red! as a secondary accent to highlight the red in the print and contrast with the main fabric of the skirt which is denim. I also appliqued one of the birds to the back waist, I don’t know why but hopefully it looks cute in a good way. I can’t think when was the last time I used piping and I’m sure it wasn’t on a garment for myself. I was originally going to use bias tape as the edging but went with the piping after seeing Rae’s use of piping on a child’s backpack. It really made the lines of the design stand out.

    birdskirtfront birdskirtback

    Other details: I’ve never cared for waistbands so that’s not new. But I don’t think I’ve ever done one like this. I cut some of the print fabric on the bias and used it to bind the top of the skirt which also helped reduce bulk since the body of the skirt is made from a hefty 12 oz. denim. The pattern is my own, rough modification of an existing six gore skirt pattern I drafted ages ago. Red topstitching. I love invisible zippers! And a resin snap for the closure. I also fused the lightweight print to white cotton to give it some bulk so it would stand up to the denim and a crisper hand to hold the pleat even when walking. That worked out very well.


    I apologize for the grainy pictures, these were all taken at night and Frances (my dressmaker’s dummy) was a bit tipsy as well. And unfortunately the skirt turned out a tad big despite stopping for a fitting midway. Oh well. Maybe it will shrink in the wash. (I pre-washed the fabrics of course.)

    I need to thank FW and the gals on designer-stashers for turning me on to new fabrics and for hosting a skirt sew-along which is probably the only reason I got this done! And finally, the skirt on the reluctant model, wearing some eye-brow raising 70s looking clogs scored from DH’s office. (Amazing things turn up when you are cleaning out an advertising agency. :) )
    birdskirtside birdskirtfrontview

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