Pockets and cookies

The whole question of fit is fascinating. This is what sets apart well made clothing but we each have our own “issues” or how we think we look, how we want others to see us and how to accomplish that. I personally have big boobs thanks to some decent genetics from my father’s mom : ) I look completely different from my own mother – she’s wider at the hips, has no boobage and a flat derriere. Nothing wrong with either one of us UNLESS we’re trying to look like something we’re not. I won’t even go into what the fashion magazines want us to emulate! The best WE can do is deal with what we have AT THE MOMENT. I’ve dressed thousands of people, from dancers to actors, amateurs and professionals. I’ve seen what I would consider  THE MOST ROCKIN’ BODIES and they are usually attached to individuals with fairly low self esteem. Not all the time but more often than you might think. The happiest people are those that can look themselves in the mirror each morning and be content. I’m not saying we might not have room for improvement but unless you can be content in the skin you’re in then making clothes that fit will be as elusive as sleep before a big party  : )

To that end I’m going to show you a simple way to get better fitting pants, a technique borrowed from men’s tailoring.

One of the “hot” trends of the last few years are pants that “take a size off”. Other than selling spanx with each pair how do they do it? Simple. Let me show you the inside of a few pairs of name brand jeans –

First up are our friends from Levi’s. Good local brand : ) Made in China : ( Notice the pockets. You can see the rivets, the stitching that outlines the pocket but the lining goes all the way to the center front/zipper area.

Next up are a pair of the Macy’s brand, Style. I like them, I’ve bought them in the past. I can usually get them on sale for around $20 a pair or less, depending on the coupons : ) They, too, have a pocket lining that goes to the zipper/center front seam but notice the extra rows of stitching. That gives you a “girdle” effect, or helps hold the tummy in.

And finally a pair of Not Your Daughters Jeans. These are fairly expensive for jeans, starting at $110 and up. They, too, have the pocket lining that goes to the center front but the stitching lines that create the “girdle” are a different design (can we say trademark?). Are they worth the extra price? That depends on your values. They DO fit better than the Levi’s on me and their biggest advantage is the “Made in USA” tag. I would support them even more if the fabric was made in the US but that’s just me.

One reason for doing those rows of stitching is to hold the weave of the fabric in place. The reason we cut our patterns with the length of the grain parallel to the selvage is the long fibers, or warp threads, are the long, strong threads. The side to side threads, or weft threads, are not continuous and so ‘weaker’. If you’ve ever had a pair of pants get “knee sprung” it’s because you’ve stretched out the weft threads and that’s their job. That’s what gives you ‘give’ in the fabric if you’ll forgive the play on words : ) So what those rows of stitching are doing it holding those weft threads in place to prevent stretching out and hold the tummy in. If you like pleated pants and want to keep the pleats in place us this style of pocket, then they won’t spread and look like bad 80’s pants.

The pattern I’m using for my jeans is the Calvin Klein jeans pattern from 1977/8. I made it when it was the new, hot pattern on the market and I really wanted a pair of Calvins, just couldn’t afford them! The interesting thing about this pattern is the one paragraph on the back:

“It makes sense that the ONLY way to have Calvin Klein jeans is to have them with the exact fit! That’s why Vogue patterns (always a stickler for proper fit) brings them to you in his sizing rather than our traditional one.” Keep in mind that in the 70’s we were into large legged pants and Calvin’s weren’t. It was the beginning of the “pencil” trend in the late 70’s when it came to pants.

So here are my jeans, the front complete : ) You can see the pocket linings go to the zipper. Sorry about the white-on-white thing, I tried to photoshop in some shadows.

I decided NOT to do the “special stitching” for two reasons – 1) my machine is old and cranky, it REALLY needs a spa day and 2) MY denim has lycra in it : ) Back in the late 70’s the only thing that had lycra in them were the pants sold by Frederick’s of Hollywood meant for discos and somehow were relegated to Ladies of the Evening. But NOW we add lycra to ALL KINDS of things and there is a good amount of stretch in my denim. I want to see how this works, I may regret not adding the stitching but I’ll never know if I don’t try.

Most manufacturers are using a lightweight cotton for pockets and lining because it’s less expensive. I had enough fabric to just cut the pieces from the denim and let me reassure you, the hold factor is GOOD!

Now that my pockets and the zipper is in and done I’m halfway there. Had to take a cookie break.

One of my goals this year was to try some new recipes, and I have a fondness for back-of-the-box concoctions (ever tried the Ritz cracker Mock Apple Pie? Amazing). A couple of years I ago I tore out a recipe for Chocolate Chip cookies off the back of a bag of Gold Medal flour. “Extraordinary Chocolate Chip Cookies” it says. Are they?

They’re actually pretty good : )

The recipe is EASY, a definite plus. And it makes over 4 dozen, another plus. Took about 10 minutes to mix up and thanks go to Miss Amelia (brown) and Miss Prudence (white) for the eggs. These are the ultimate free range, organic eggs from very happy chickens!

1 1/2 cups butter (I use Earth Balance that I buy at Trader Joes, real butter makes me VERY sick and EB works beautifully!)
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 eggs
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
24 oz. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl beat butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs on medium speed or with spoon until light and fluffy. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt (dough will be stiff). Stir in chocolate chips.

On ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough by tablespoon 2″ apart. Bake 11-13 minutes or until light golden brown (centers will be soft). Cool 1-2 minutes, remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Makes about 6 dozen cookies.


Yes it does : ) You’ll notice the amount of chocolate chips is actually TWO bags worth so this recipe is good for a family or just cookie-lovin’ folk. Next time I might cut down a bit on the sugars, and I didn’t have quite 2 full packages of chips (I used dark Guittard chips for extra yummi-ness) and they are fine.

After she laid her egg Amelia headed out side to sit in the sun with Chloe. She’s on her side, opening her wings so they get air and sunlight to kill any “bugs” that have hitched a ride. This is why battery cages are so horrendous, those girls don’t have enough room to lay down let alone access to sunlight. Miss Amelia lived in a warehouse for the first year and a half of her life. She and 4460 sisters were rescued from a facility in Turlock almost a year ago after their “owner” decided to stop feeding and watering them. She survived for 2 weeks before rescuers brought her “Into the Light”.

Chole and Amelia in the sun : )

I know it seems like I haven’t done much updating lately and I apologize. I’ve had some pretty big projects in the works so there will be several updates in the next few days! AND I’ve had a request from Kat of Modern Vintage Cupcakes of Wellington (as in New Zealand!) to post a calendar of my challenges honoring the other Sew Weekly contributors. I will be getting that up in the next couple of days : )

Up next – Legs, finishing touches and 4,000 pounds of bricks

Two things done!! And the start of the “Gina Clark” sew-along

Alrighty!! This is just the beginning, and so the process may change drastically but this is my “plan” so far.

I have a  list of Sew Weekly contributors I’d like to honor/feature in the coming months. Something like 139 people signed up to be contributors and six other women besides myself did all/almost all the challenges. Lee missed a week due to hurricane Sandy and Liz missed two challenges but hey, close enough! Other contributors, such as Leimomi and Erin joined in for as much as they could considering they have jobs and lives, like Vicki, Bethany and Kat : ) These are ALL amazing, talented women and by NO MEANS the entire list but this is what I want to do to start and please, if you have suggestions, SHARE!

Each person has a distinct style and voice. I’m not necessarily going to do outfit karaoke but rather channel their style into something I would wear. There will most likely be a sewing technique that I will highlight, be it simple or complex, why not put the info out there?

So this is “my” version of Gina Clark style : )

Gina wears a lot of pants, one of the most memorable outfits early on was her “Take me to Your Leader” silver pants. She followed those up with “Lorenzo Lamas” pants and most likely my FAVORITE outfit (and photoshoot) of hers, the “Have I Gone Mad?” suit. She is one of the more fashion-forward sewists and a Stylist in real life : ) She also loves menswear and made a few classic blouses/shirts, a couple of vests and uses LOTS of top stitching.

I’ll be making pants, jeans to be precise. I’m going to use a classic pattern, the Calvin Klein jean pattern from the 70’s. And what are jeans without top stitching, rivets and a cap snap? IF I have enough fabric I’ll make a funky vest but most likely won’t wear the two together. The pic above is a HINT about the fabric I’m using : ) After all, printed denim is hot right now.

In the next week I’ll do small posts of the different steps. Feel free to join in! Make YOUR version of a Gina Clark outfit and I’ll post your pics!! Or just sit back and enjoy : ) If you’d like to do a Sew Weekly-style post let me know and we’ll work out a way to submit it in that template. Questions? Ask!

And now for the two things done…

First is the cover for the dog bed. We’ve had this bed for a million years and I  finally re-did the inside liner because Miss Romera dug holes into it. I’ve had this piece of fabric, sadly a hideous fleece, for about as many years as the bed. This is the first time they’ve met : ) It didn’t take long to make, just has a zip at one end, but my machine H A T E D sewing through the fleece, almost like it was telling me the fabric was evil. And it is, in a way, but I had it, it’s cute and it’s now done. Done is beautiful : )

I also finished the kitchen curtains for Sue…but she didn’t want the style that I thought we had agreed upon! She loved the valance, and hung it, but cafe curtains just aren’t her thing. Ah well. Win some, lose some.

Last weekend was the Alameda Flea market, it was fr-fr-fr-freezing cold. At least freezing cold for us Californian’s : ) The flea market is usually on the first Sunday of the month but this month it was delayed a week due to rain. Because of the delay only about half the vendors were there which is fine, it makes the market a little smaller but also quieter. I’m sure the 34 degrees out helped as well! My three favorite finds of the day were the Bauer mixing bowl for $20 (no photo yet), a set of eight leaf plates that match some my mother found last summer (all for 5 bucks!) and a canister set from the same vendor for the same price as the plates.

The large one has a crack in the side, the seller apparently has a vintage store somewhere up north and said a customer dropped it on the floor. The lids are clear with the red knobs and for the price, how could I pass them up? I’m thinking they may help organize my very messy workbench in the garage : ) And they’re red.

Get your ideas out, machines ready to go…

Let the sewing begin!!

52 Things To Do in 52 Weeks

Originally inspired by a list of “101 things to do in 1001 days” on Kat’s Petticoats and Peplums blog I thought I’d put together a slightly smaller but relevant-to-me list : )

Since I’ve neglected my garden for a year and a half I’m going to spend a good amount of time there, at least until early summer. By that time, in this area, if you don’t have it in place it ain’t gonna get there…so my first category is “Yard & Garden”. There will be PLENTY of sewing, don’t fret : )

Yard & Garden-

1) Finish 3 hardscape projects started 2 years ago. (1/3)
2) Plant raspberry patch
3) Stake and tame blackberries
4) Plant strawberry patch
5) Make bird bath from rhubarb leaf and cement; install.
6) Get Outpost hot tub up and working!!
7) Plant at least 9 types of veggies, 3 of which we’ve never tried before.
8) Plant a Sunflower/morning glory “house”. Pray it grows.
9) Get some type of vine along fence and supports for clothes line.
10) Take locally offered compost class/re-do compost set-up.
11) Re-do front porch in all turquoise and red to go with vintage porch swing.
12) Restore bench in barn; slipcover with linen or burlap (whichever one I can find!)
13) Clean off and organize back porch & deck, make it a mini-retreat/tea area.
14) Refinish found dresser; if no time or can’t figure out what to do then Freecycle it!
15) Refinish drawer unit salvaged from desk for thread and notion storage. (See if top will be salvageable for a side table.)


16) Host at least 8 Sew-Alongs honoring other Sew Weekly contributors. (1/8)
17) Make another swimsuit from Mrs. DePew’s pattern using a woven fabric.
18) Finish dog bed cover for rectangular bed.
19) New couch and chair slip covers.
20) New over-blanket for bed.
21) Sue’s kitchen curtains.
22) Make black wool coat from 1930’s pattern.
23) Get rid of at least one full box of fabric from stash through use or donation.
24) Mend all the clothes in my mending pile.
26) Make new robe…soon.
27) One new outfit/piece a month, preferably from stash. Bust that stash!!
28) Finish chicken quilt that matches apron.


29) Paint all trim in kitchen (finally).
30) Paint ceilings in bedroom, dining room and sewing room.
31) Curtains in office.
32) Finish at least 2 chairs of 6.
33) Convert studio space to chick hang-out.
34) Clean up work bench in garage!
35) Clean up back deck. Technically I have both a back deck AND a back porch but after looking at a couple other things that need to be done I’ve decided to combine the deck and porch, cross deck off the list as a separate item and add “Earthquake kit!”.
36) Organize all vases and outdoor pots. Paint pots to go with current color scheme.
37) New island wood top
38) Pour at least one new concrete counter top.
39) Make doors, drawer front and kick piece for new kitchen cabinet.

Crafty/Foody things

40) Complete at least 12 Mary Jane Butters Farmgirl badges. (1/12)
41) Host an Art Party complete with tea and scones.
42) Finish knitting fingerless gloves.
43) Crochet or knit hat the wear when I ride my bike to BART in the mornings.
44) Start a Kombucha culture.
45) Try a new recipe every month – make sure the Mojito cupcakes are in there!


46) Host a Bob White party.
47) Host a Regrettable Foods party.
48) Celebrate my birthday in FINE style this year.
49) Another trip to the Longest Yard Sale???

Life Stuff

50) Fix car or buy new one.
51) Lose 10 more pounds. If 20 lost then I get to make up Vogue 8705 but not before : )
52) Ebay, ebay, ebay. There is WAY too much stuff downstairs that I’m never going to use. It needs to move on to new homes where people will love and appreciate it.

I’ll update the list as I go, Bold will mean I’m working on it, Italics will mean it’s done. I may add to it if project A leads to project B and on and on. I’ll be updating SOON on the sewing projects and your feedback and comments are always welcome! I’ve also installed a “widget” that will allow me (if I found the correct one!) to respond to your lovely comments quickly and easily. I’m also working on some new graphics and look for the page as well as getting up some links to “stuff” – books I’m reading, places I’m going, people I’m meeting…

Coming up soon – my take on Gina Clarke’s style, my own Sew Weekly 2012 in numbers and a visit with the Smile Lady : )

Happy New Year!!

The Facts
: Gold Brocade
Pattern: Butterick 6582 and Vogue 1137
Notions: A zipper…that’s it, just a zipper!
Year: 1960
Time to complete
: 3 1/2  hours
First worn: December 2012
Wear again? Yes, on New Years Eve : )

Total Cost: Dress $21.19, Coat is from Christmas challenge

Since I’m not sure if we’re doing one final challenge of the year I figured I might as well! After all, can you wear the same dress for Christmas and New Years? I think not : )

I was originally inspired by this purse:

It was in the collection of my costumer friend that died earlier this year. It just SCREAMS party, don’t you think?

I thought it would go nicely with the 1960’s gold convertible Cadillac that the gentleman with the 1940 Packard has. Unfortunately with the craziness of the holidays we couldn’t connect to do photos but we will soon… : )

But since this is so much amazing gold-ness I thought it deserved a dress with MORE gold to it and here we are!

Since the car was unavailable I decided to set up my dining room early for New Years dinner. I think between my dress, the purse and the table setting there is sufficient glitter for a party : )

I am also wearing the coat from last week, I’ve reversed it so the lining shows and the burgundy is on the inside. It does indeed reverse and looks pretty good. Whodda thought??

The pattern went together quite easily. The only thing I changed about it was fully lining it since those gold threads ITCH. I also used the “inside” of the fabric instead of the “right” side. I didn’t care for the yellow tint to the satin, not my best color, but the “wrong” side looks pretty good AND is sparklier. Yes, sparklier is a word : )

I’ve also got on enough sparkly jewelry to make a drag queen happy. I know this for a fact since I bought the necklace at a well known drag store in the Haight some years ago. The earrings and bracelets are new additions to my collection thanks to H&M’s after Christmas sales. Buy one, get one free. Love that!

Since I did this all at the last minute I didn’t have time to track down a photographer so once again I’m using the timer feature on my camera. I’m getting pretty good at this I think : )

Just for fun I’m including an outtake for Vicki –

Not the best shot of me but can you see Miss Amelia in the lower left corner?

Have a WONDERFUL 2013 everyone!! I hope you stop by my blog to say “Hi” every now and then. Drop me a note and I’ll stop by to see you as well : ) I have made so many new friendships this year, it has been truly amazing. I want to thank Mena for allowing me to come play. And thanks to each and every one of you who left me a comment. You don’t know how much I was surprised and delighted each week. It was truly incredible.

If you ever get out my way drop me a note and we’ll get together for tea or hot chocolate. By the time you read this I’ll have (hopefully!) met Djamila from Berlin. And I’m going to host a few sew-alongs this year if you’d like to join in : ) First up will be doing something in the style of Gina Clark. You MUST stop by!!

Again, thank you all SO MUCH!!!!