Leisure wear and other changes

It seems like a long time since I’ve been able to sew anything new. After finishing my closet refashion, which turned out to be more physically arduous than I had expected, I had to make adjustments to a couple of pairs of trousers that had shrunk in the wash. I know, I should have pre-washed them. I managed to rescue both of them, thankfully, but it took time.

I should mention that my spring has been difficult in a couple of ways. In January my dear companion, my cat Holy Smoke, became ill and died five days later. This was really hard on me — partly for confronting the suffering of a poor helpless creature, partly for having to make the decision to ease her out of that suffering when it was clear she couldn’t recover, and partly for having to learn to live without her presence in the house. She was with me for almost 12 years. Even now I keep expecting to bump into her when I enter the kitchen, or go downstairs, or, well, go anywhere in the house.

Holy Smoke, philosopher and fabric aficianado


I guess I started the closet reno because I didn’t know what to do with myself. Lugging bag after bag after bag of broken plaster and lumber down two flights of stairs was maybe not the best way to keep myself busy.

For those who don’t follow me on IG, I had a narrow closet in my bedroom under the eaves. A lot of it was inaccessible because there was only a small doorway. I removed the wall and replaced it with curtains, which I placed about a foot further away from the eaves. The result is a LOT more space.

Things are returning into balance now. I was happy at last to be able to make something new. I chose to deal with some fairly thick stretch cotton fabric that I bought on sale at Fabricland in the summer. I thought it might work with an old-fashioned “sewing with Nancy” pattern from McCalls. It’s McCalls’s 3728, dated 2002, and includes a whole outfit including long and short “dusters”. 20180312_165510


After I lay the fabric out on the floor it looked like I could make both a short duster and an ankle-length skirt, which is the only kind of skirt I wear at home. I threw it in a cold-water wash, lined-dried it and flung it out across the floor again. It looked astonishingly shorter than it had before. A long skirt was out of the question, so I decided workout shorts would work.

Here’s the duster.


I’m wearing it with a pair of pants from the free download “Barb” pattern, which I also made in the jumble of the spring somewhere, but didn’t much like until I hit on the idea of adding elastic to the ankles.


The problem is not really with the pattern, but with the fabric. This is a beautiful suede-look stretch fabric, but it didn’t know how to hang below the knee. I quite like the pants now though.

Here’s the “leisure suit”.


It’s kind of cool, isn’t it? I used the pant pattern that came in the package, but shortened them, added inseam pockets using some black jersey fabric for the front pocket bags, added grommets and a bright lime green bootlace for a tie. This is not your average warm-up suit 🙂 It was totally appropriate for the weather today, which was sunny and warmer than seasonal. At last, a taste of summer.


sweater duster

Okay, hands up everyone who remembers all the posts I made last year about fabric given to me at an “exit party” from my job? Not everyone? Ok, I’ll just give you a chance to check out the post about the giving of fabric here.

I’ve returned to that part of my fabric stash to make my second, or is it my third (does sleeveless count?) coat.

My friend and colleague Noel gave me a big chunk of charcoal grey fabric. I thought at first it was a blanket. It was, in fact, coat material. I put it away, thinking it would be quite a while before I would feel competent to sew a coat with such heavy fabric.

One (or maybe two) coats later I was ready. I pulled out the fabric and had a good look and feel. It turns out it’s not that heavy. And it’s not woven. It’s a kind of felted wool blend knit. Perfect, it seemed to me, for a long sweater-coat. To be fair to myself, the fabric is pretty deceptive. It’s very lofty.


Like it? There’s a chenille thread looped back and forth and sewn to the fabric on the two front panels. That ran up and down one of the selvedge edges, and I used it for the fronts. The back, sleeves and front facing are plain. It almost looks like fleece, actually, and is very, very soft.


This time I sewed a hair elastic into the seam joining the front and its facing, and put a button on the other side, so I can do the coat up. How … odd … that none of the three coats I’ve made has any form of fastening. I thought I could wear a leather belt with this coat, but when I tried it, I looked again like an old bag in a housecoat. I’m definitely not the tie wrap  kind of crone. I may add a snap at about waist height.

grey dusterIMG_1073

The sleeves fold or roll up. As a bonus for this project, I figured out how to use my sewing machine to finish raw edges almost like a serger. They look really good. Almost makes me wonder if I really do need to save up for a baby-lock.

I’ve always liked long, straight maxi coats. Dusters I call ’em. Not much difference between this and the pink coat, except it’s unlined, and fits closer to the body. I used Butterick 6251, which was really easy. An experienced sewist could whip this up in a day. Took me three. Maybe I should whip up a few more, one for every day of the week?