A Tale of Two Maxi Skirts

A couple days before our road trip up to John’s family cabin in the Michigan UP, I decided I wanted, nay, needed a new maxi skirt for the occasion.  It promised to be a hot, long car trip as we were caravanning with his sister and her kiddos, making a couple stops along the way…so what is usually a scant 5 hour drive was looking more like an 8 hour trek.  Comfort and coolness would be paramount, and the idea of wearing jeans or even shorts for that drive was utterly unappealing.  And I had two whole days between the moment the inspiration struck and our estimate departure–plenty of time to rifle through my knit fabric stack and pull something together, no?!

My last foray into maxi skirts was a summer ago, when I made my very first maxi, and a chevron striped one, at that, using the Amy pattern from Greenstyle (really a solid A-line maxi if you’re in the market!).  I remembered it taking ages to get all those stripes lined up into proper chevrons (gah!) so I figured I’d go for a solid color and skip all that angst this time.  I found a nice drapey blue jersey (probably pure polyester judging by its slipperiness and poor reaction to my iron’s high setting).  Since I already had my pattern all assembled and traced out, cutting was a breeze, and assembly was equally fast without the added challenge of mitered strip matching!  The skirt was finished (apart from hemming) in under an hour!

I quick tried it on to check fit and noticed right away that Houston had a problem.  A polka-dotted problem, to be precise.  Because the skirt was a little, ahem, sheer.  So sheer that my polka dot undies were shining through rather obviously.  Drat.  It’d be fine for around the house, but I’d really rather not flash my knickers across two states.  Of course, the fit otherwise was flawless.  Back to the drawing board, er, fabric stash.

The draw of the cobalt blue jersey (aside from it’s amazing color) was that I had a 2.5 yard piece of it, and the pattern calls for 2.25 for a maxi, which is pretty spot on.  All my other cuts of knit are in 1 or 2 yard increments, just a smidgebit too short if we’re being really technical.  Too bad…no time to be technical, there’s a skirt to be made!

I pulled a green tone-on-tone stripe out of the stash…it was a hair over 2 yards, long enough to get the front and back of the skirt out of it, though not quite enough to get the waistband pieces.  I turned to some trusty navy/aqua knit for those and made a contrasting band.

I’m not 100% on the contrasting waistband, but there was no way to get it all to match without ordering more of the green stripe (and at this point, I was down to <24 hours to liftoff–not an option!).  I also didn’t bother to match stripes at the side seams (I actually had to cut a tiny bit off-grain to get enough fabric, so there was no chance of a perfect match…but the striping is pretty subtle, so it doesn’t really bother me…too much).  Also due to lack of enough yardage, this skirt has an obvious front & back–the front is about an inch shorter than the back (which isn’t really all that noticeable unless I’m wearing it backwards).

It did turn out to be a comfy skirt for the road, so I guess I shouldn’t complain too hard.  Though I definitely need to start ordering fabric in 2.5 yard increments!  Also, having worn the green skirt a few times, I really should have reinforced the waist seam with some elastic, as it has a penchant for growing a bit as I wear it…noted for next time!

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Vintage Vibes Redux!

A little bit ago I copied a vintage apron for my sis-in-law.  And that one turned out so well, I made another!  But this time I jazzed it up a little more (and by “jazzed it up”, I mean used pom pom trim and enormous ric rac.  It is awesome!).

I’ve had this giant ric rac (and just a single yard, at that) for ages…it came in a grab bag of trim remnants I found at a garage sale a while back, and I’ve been saving it for just the right project.  Well, when I found this fabric (Anna Marie Horner, if I recall the selvedges correctly), I knew it was a match made in heaven  because not only did it match my ridiculous ric rac, it also matched my 16″ piece of turquoise pom pom trim (yes, from the same garage sale bag of wonders).  You guys–this was FATE!  I neeeeeeded to happen!

I won’t bore you with another construction run down–this one is the exact same except that I remembered to sandwitch the ties and back waist seam between the bias tape and the main fabric, so all my edges are enclosed this time (it’s the little things, amIright?!).

Here’s the front view:

And the rear view (oh, that giant ric rac…it slays me).

And a delicious detail shot–gotta love that trim!  I had juuuuust enough to do a row of pom poms on each pocket!

Raspberry Currant Jelly

Summer preserving is, of course, in full swing, and one of the awesome things about all the stuff we’ve planted in our yard is that it’s finally paying off! We added the currants the first year we had the house, and the raspberries went in last summer (and looked right spindly until this spring, when they  e x p l o d e d  into a thicket!). So now? Now is the season of putting a up few jars of pure concentrated summer to keep those bleak winter days in perspective!

The currents have been slowly ripening, so current jelly has been on my mind for a little bit.  But this all came together when I finally got a chance to pick a couple pounds of raspberries undisturbed (essentially when John went to his family reunion & my work schedule prevented my attendance–boo!).  But, since John wasn’t the one picking the berries, a few of them actually made it into the bucket! And since the red currants were also ripe to bursting, I figured the universe was telling me to make jelly. (Yes, the universe tells me to make jelly. It has also, on occasion, told me to lay on the couch in my jammies and watch PBS cooking show marathons. The universe is weird, but I listen.)

I hadn’t made raspberry + currant jelly before, but I figured it’d be pretty awesome (given that it contains fruits that are, to me, the essence of summer). I used a recipe from The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp, mostly because it only called for a few cups of each fruit, which left me lots of currants for other things, too (like plain currant jelly, and a nice batch of shrub).

I couldn’t find my jelly bag (perhaps the cat made off with it?), so I improvised with an old pillowcase, some scrap lumber, and a couple kitchen chairs–worked like a charm to strain out all the pulp!

Aside from that little DIY adaptation, it was fairly standard jelly making endeavor–add the sugar, boil it up, pot into jars, seal.  Easy peasy.  I “accidentally” had about 4 oz. left over…you know, for quality control!  And!  I found the perfect jelly-stirring spoon (my old one died last year and had yet to be replaced).  A friend got me this one (with a little fox carved into it–so cute!) for my birthday this year, and it is perfect!

The Long and the Shorts of It!

I’m going to make a confession here…I hate shorts.  Well, let me clarify.  I’ve never in my adult memory had a pair of shorts I’ve loved.  They are always riding up, skootching down, cutting me in half, rolling up funny in the legs, or just plain unattractive to behold.  So what I really think I mean to confess, is that I’ve gone my entire adult life with shorts that don’t fit properly.  There, yes, that’s it!

The real unfortunate thing that this confession highlights is that, for the last decade of my life (and, dare I suggest, perhaps even further back), summers could have been soooo much more comfortable!  I’ve been living in MN 10 years now, and our summers–they are ridiculously hot.  It’s not just the heat, it’s the swampy humidity kicked off from the lightly simmering 10,000 mosquito breeding grounds I mean, lakes.  It’s sticky folks.  Sticky and hot.  And I dread those days like none other.  Mostly I’d hide out in Air-Conditioned havens (my sewing room, work, movie theaters).  The idea of sitting in the back yard (in the shade–this pasty skin of mine does not do direct sun for long!) was abominable.  Remember that scene from the Little Mermaid where King Triton barks out “I abhor humans!”?  (Of course you do…I knew we were friends for a reason!)…That’s how I felt about MN summers.  Until I made myself some honest-to-goodness-I-measured-before-I-sewed-them shorts.  Shorts that were, I don’t mind saying, life changing.

So which shorts, I’m sure you’re asking?!  The Tap Shorts from Katey & Laney.  I actually bought the pattern for these last summer (le sigh…if only I’d known), but put off making them because I needed to grade them up a few sizes to fit me.  And, you know, grading sounds like work.  The grading turned out to be easier and harder than I thought.  Easy because, as A-line shorts, it’s pretty simple to just make them wider at the side seams and move the back darts over a smidge to re-center them.  Harder because I don’t need as much extra fabric at the legs as I do at the waist/tummy area, so the legs of the shorts ended up a tad…voluminous.  But so, so, SO comfy.  But voluminous–verging on culottes territory.  But they’re so breezy.  And the high waist means the waist stays put–no rolling or pinching.  I may try adjusting the width of the legs just a smidge on the next pair (as well as brushing up my invisible zip skillz–egad), but I really like the distinct A-line shape, so maybe not!

Apologies for the wrinkly fabric, this was after a few hours wear. And you can totally see the extra fabric flaring out at the sides, but oh well!

I did make these up in an upholstery-weight cotton sateen, so that stiffer fabric may have something to do with the fluffy silhouette of the shorts in general.  But it’s also a nice sturdy fabric and looks crisp and fresh even after a day of pedaling around in the heat from one taproom to the next (why, yes, I did field test my new shorts on a pubcrawl…awesomeness ensued).

Emboldened by my foray into shorts-ville (it’s a thing, m’kay?) I decided to try out the Nantucket Shorts that came in the last issue of Seamwork (I was a little dubious when they first announced these easy magazine patterns, but like all Colette stuff I’ve worked with, this pattern was solid!).  I picked out some mid-weight woven navy blue cotton that looks a lot like linen (but isn’t) from my stash (yay stash busting!…this had originally been earmarked for a shirt for John, but he rarely wears the grey one I made in the same fabric because he has to iron it first…puh-leez).

Me & my mutant sunflowers!

The Nantucket shorts came together really easily, though I probably could have gotten away cutting them out one size smaller–I was between sizes and opted up, so there’s a little more bunching around the waist than I’d like, strictly speaking.   For such simple shorts, they look really interesting (something about the combo of the runners’ shorts styling and the eyelets, I think).  And again, they’re super breezy and comfy.  All told, about 4 hours from assembling the pattern to finishing touches.

Rear view. Clearly these legs need more sun exposure in their lives…

This was my first time installing eyelets, and it was pretty easy (though my cat protested all the banging about).  I really want to make myself another pair (a size down, perhaps) in the orange chambray I have lurking in my stash…

And, of course, the obligatory awkward-rear-selfie as I checked fit immediately post-sewing…