Saturday, January 10, 2015

Weekend sewing (Jan 6-7): Saf-t-Pockets, Neck Gaiter and more Travel Cubes

The best way to feel like I'm actually sewing up the stash is to journal it. I used to take pictures (when you printed such things) and put them in a photo album. That was always nice to see my progress. Then I stopped doing that. I think because I stopped printing photos. Then I started the blog a couple years ago but didn't post much. Well, duh. This is a journal.

I enjoyed a weekend of classes with Marsha McClintock in November when she visited our guild. I bought a couple patterns. I made up the v-neck T-shirt Trifecta right away when I found a double-sided knit perfect for it (at Joann's. no, really. they actually had a nice quality fabric!). As is the style in her pattern line Saf-t-Pockets, there are pockets. (And really ... women's clothing should have more pockets!) Then I cut out the cowl neck pattern before Christmas. And it sat until now. In my defense, I did accomplish gift sewing of a pair of flannel pants and 3 fleece vests.

The cowl neck top's fabric was also double-sided: dots on one side, stripes on the other. I was going to do the striped side with the cool chevron effect but, sigh, I didn't pay attention to the stripe direction. One should not wear stripes going AROUND your hips. To save the work, I flipped it inside out to make it, skipped the pockets and used the stripes from the other side for fun. It's cozy.

Made a few more travel cubes using my newest method (which I had to look up my own instructions because I got myself confused). I timed it this time. Took about 30 minutes for one.

I'm planning on a trip in May and the weather may be if-fy. I've been haunting Pinterest for travel and/or convertible clothing. Among other things, I landed on a pattern for a neck gaiter that doubles as a balaclava. It's not necessarily for the trip, but it's cold in the Midwest, so I cut a piece of scrap Malden Mills 200 Fleece I had. Did a flat-felled seam. And when I was zig-zagging the edges, I slipped in some 3/8" clear elastic to help it keep it's stretch. It took maybe 30 minutes because I had to change thread and throw in a ball point needle. I think I will make it a few inches taller next time, but it works OK. Very easy to just keep your neck warm or pull up over your chin, ears and/or lower face. Easily folds and fits in a pocket. Finished size is 24" around and 13 inches tall. If I make it again, I'll make it a bit taller. This is my kidnapper look:

Lastly, this weekend, I made McCall's 5241. Only two pattern pieces and supposedly an hour to make it. I believe that would be true if you had the pattern cut out and pressed. And you'd already tested what to do on the edges. And you didn't try to watch a comedy at the same time. It took me about 2:20. Oh, and that included two (albeit short) phone calls. It's supposed to be flow-y and able to wear it multiple ways if made long. Um, no. Looks kinda dumb. I think I'll cut the front down (the back's short-ish, jacket length). It was fun though, because it's fast.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Travel Cubes aka Packing Organizer II

While the last version of the packing cubes work, I don't like how the zipper only opens the top "lid" half way. So, I've re-worked it. It's a little fussier to make, but still easy enough. I didn't worry if the edges didn't match exactly or the corner didn't match particularly well. They're just for organizing, no one will see them except you. And if you look at RTW (RTU? Ready-to-use?) manufacturers certainly don't worry about perfection.
Cut fabric as pictured above. The blue is the fashion fabric, the pink is the mesh. "s.a." = seam allowance              

The fashion fabric and mesh will look like this when it's cut. Just the top two pieces in the picture to the right. The other one at the bottom of the picture is so you can see the end of the mesh.
My ruler is covering the part I want to keep. I am cutting in from the long side. See next picture.
Here is one side cut out. The mesh will wrap along the sides to make items more visible.
 Here is the fabric back, top and bottom (the blue part in the schematic above).
 I serged along the top edge to finish the seam before installing the zipper on my conventional machine.
 Lay the zipper face down on the top of the fabric and stitch. Then repeat with the mesh.
Then I folded it back and topstitched to strengthen the zipper seam. It will receive a bit of abuse.
Unzip past the edge and abut the teeth. A stationary, wide zig-zag, will work as a zipper stop. Do both ends and cut off the extra zipper (with your cheap scissors, not the good ones).
Before you go on, remember to open the zipper, at least enough to get your hand in. You'll have to turn it right-side out at the end. Really ... do it now ... you'll forget ... I know ....
 Match the bottom edges of fabric and mesh and stitch.
This is the the most confusing part. It will create the boxed corners. But if you match yours to the picture, it will work. Those outer corners that sit out there on their own - fold from the point and match the edges. It will make a triangle. Serge (or stitch, trim and finish) either alongside the zipper tape or on your stitching line. It's not beautiful, but it functions. We're going for quick, not a construction contest.
Repeat for all 4 corners.
After the 4 corners, you end up with this. And now is when you might have to fudge. Those two open edges should match up fairly well.
If not, fuss a bit and make it work. You'll kind of pull the "lid" up out of the way to get the two raw edges to match. You could even take a tiny tuck at the bottom, or go at a slight angle to make the length match up. Serge that matched up edge.
 Turn it right-side out.
 Looks like this from the top.
 A zipper pull helps. I used a scrap of selvage, cut thin since selvage doesn't fray. Fold in half, push it through the hole in the zipper pull.
Push the ends through the loop and pull snug. You can see here in this pic, the corner stitching didn't match the zipper seam. But it works fine.
And it's done!
You'll want them in multiple sizes. You can look online for travel cubes for size ideas. I stacked up 5 or 6 t-shirts and measured it, then compared to a popular size. They work great inside the suitcase, makes packing things easy (and unpacking when you realize you forgot to add shoes at the bottom).

And speaking of shoes, make drawstring bags out of lining fabric for your shoes. Doesn't add bulk and keeps dirty shoes off the suitcase (the cubes keep the clothes off the shoes). But the lining is NOT waterproof, so keep that in mind if you're packing hiking shoes after a muddy slog.