One of the things about making outerwear is having the ability to customize. Want a purple ski jacket? You can do it. Want a jacket with a ‘poachers pocket’ in the back? No problems. Want a jacket with vertical chest pockets with zippers so that you can put a bottle of penicillin and keep it warm if you have to doctor sheep out in the barn in January and it’s 0 degrees F out there? Yep. You can do that too (speaking of which, I used to have a lovely jacket from Woolrich, unfortunately colored pink, which ended up as a barn coat for precisely that reason. Trying to draw liquid antibiotics out of a bottle through a rubber stopper with a syringe when it is under 30 degrees is like trying to suck roast beef through a straw (more…)
Unlike other sewing posts here on KCE, I’m not doing this coat in chronological order — we’ve all got our ‘big sewist panties’ on and I don’t think we need that. What this series is all about is the very specific items or skills which make working with something like a raincoat or water resistant fabrics different or new. It will all come together at the end, I promise.
There are, as I’ve discussed before, several different ways to seal the seams on raincoats or other outerwear made with waterproof or water resistent fabrics:
Seam sealer which is squeezed out of a tube and painted on the seams with a brush (with which, to be honest, I don’t have any experience);
Seam sealing tapes, which is the point of discussion here. (more…)
Unless you know otherwise, the fibers are man-made and will MELT at temperatures used to iron. Period. (more…)
For folks who have arrived, hoping that this is actually ‘The Further Adventures of a Zip-out Lining,” my apologies. Other things have gotten in the way, so you get this, a humble review of how to save tomato seeds.
Now, the picture up at the top is of a tomato, a very lovely tomato which originates from Russia. Do NOT ask me the name of this tomato because the rest of the seeds which I originally bought have been dispersed amongst other adventurous gardeners in the US (because Aunt Toby is like that) and one of those people got the actual original package. I know. Moronic, right? (more…)
Now, after I posted the last bit about what I’d do next, I realized that I didn’t have the proper zippers to do the demonstration, so I ordered them (I use Wawak because they have the largest collection and selection of zippers that I’ve ever seen and their service is really fab) and while I’m waiting for those to arrive, I’ll cover a couple of other issues and items that I think you might find useful.
First – if you have never worked with waterproof or water resistant or DWR (which stands for durable water resistant) fabrics before, this is totally new. I remember the first time I did this, all I could think of was that everything I ever knew about sewing in terms of pressing, laying out and so on was utterly useless with these fabrics. Why? Well, first of all, they are made of manmade fibers – polyester or nylon usually and they have a very low melting point which means that ironing the seams down except for when you are doing ‘seam sealing’ (which you WILL want to do), is a no-no. Secondly, there are a couple of different ways that fabrics are made water resistant/waterproof: coatings on the top (which usually makes them shiny, like laminated cottons) or coatings/waterproof membrane layers on the inside, which depending on the fabrics, can also require that you use a lining on the inside to protect them from abrasion from what the person is wearing inside the coat. There are 2-layer systems (which usually require some sort of inside lining of nylon taffeta or mesh), 3-layer systems (which may or may not require some sort of inside lining). There is even something referred to as 2.5 layer (which does not require a lining). I’m still trying to figure out what half a layer is. (more…)
One of the clothing items that I think is really in the ‘must have’ category is a good solid raincoat with a removable liner. This is something that will carry you basically through most of the year except for the heat of the summer, when frankly, if you are caught in the rain, you are more likely to use an umbrella than a coat. So, from a ‘cost per wearing’ this is a terrific investment piece with a great return. (more…)
OK, folks, sometimes it is good to, as they say in the classical music biz, ‘recapitulate the theme’ before we go on to the ‘variations.’ In your Aunty’s case this weekend, it hit me (literally; the calendar fell off the fridge) that we are now half-way through August, which means many things to many families:
1. School will be starting soon and many of you will be head-first in those lists that get sent out from schools for what your child is expected to have with them when they go back (if they have not gone back already – some school districts have started I think).
2. Even though it is still warm (and still very warm) in many places (except for our readers in Australia and NZ who are moving into the spring), fall and winter are making their inevitable march.
So, as I seem to do every August, your dear Old Aunty is here today to remind you of a couple of things which may be useful in terms of the next 8 weeks or so (depending on where you live):
First, it is still warm, which means that we have a window of opportunity (as they say) to use substances such as caulk, paint, wood putty and so on, which require temperatures of at least 55 degrees F to cure.
Second, if you have been cudgeling yourselves over the head with doing something about making your home more energy efficient, now is a bloody good time to actually take steps to doing it. There is literally nothing worse than laying on your back in a crawl space in December putting in insulation (well, actually, there IS something worse and that is laying on your back on a filthy barn floor when it’s 0 degrees F. at 2 a.m. and trying to help a ewe have her lambs. But we don’t do that anymore, hey nonnie nonnie and a fiddle-dee-dee). Doing this in August, September or October is much less nasty.
If you’ve been thinking about getting into canning or freezing (even if you don’t have a garden yourself), now as as good a time as any to do this. First – the farmers markets are exploding with gorgeous produce and so-called ‘U pick” is humming out there with fruits and veggies. Check with your county Cooperative Extension to see if they are having any canning, freezing, jam making etc. sorts of classes.
Let’s say you do have a freezer – now is a very good time to check it out and bring all the older stuff (you DO label what you put in there with what it is and when you put it in, right?) to the top or the front (depending on what sort of freezer you have) so that you can use it up before winter starts.
If you have a garden or beds or planters of plants, you may look out and feel that all the flowers are looking just a tad peaked at this point. Deadhead the perennials and cut back the annuals and give everything a good dose of organic fertilizer like compost tea or fish emulsion in water. That should give them a good pick-me-up to carry them into the fall.
For those folks looking for some posts to help them along, here you go:
Shhhhhhhh. We’ve now encountered the elusive spaghetti squash in her native habitat. If you look carefully, you can see her crouching here, under the large spiny leaves toward the back. (more…)
I used to have a coworker who’d literally leave bags of produce from his garden on your desk. Leaving a big display with a polite sign in the break room was definitely not his style; he could not imagine anyone NOT wanting zucchinis of a size that required a saddle and bridle. And since he grew several different types of tomatoes, you had to have large samples of them all.
There were the sneaky people who’d run down to the dumpster on their way out; the rest of us just exchanged recipes.
So, here’s a quick and easy dinner idea if you become the object of a tomato-raiser’s affections: Tomato Pie. This is a real ‘taste of the season since it uses fresh herbs and straight off the vine cherry tomatoes.
Pizza dough (whatever you got, including the ‘I just picked this up at the groceria on the way home’)
Several cloves of garlic (at least two huge ones)
Olive oil (the light stuff; not the green ‘extra virgin’)
Fresh basil (and oregano if you can get it, too), a big bunch, washed and the leaves taken off the stems, coarsely chopped
Big handful of cherry tomatoes – depending on the size of the pie and the size of the tomatoes, it could be a dozen, washed, quartered, with the little green bits at the stem ends removed.
Grated Romano cheese (or whatever mixture of dried grated Italian cheese in a can you’ve got in the fridge or on the shelf)
Pizza pie pan (this one is made in a 10″ cake pan for that deep dish look)
Prepare the garlic:
Peel the garlic cloves and mash, or put through a processor, or grate on a grater
Add several tablespoons of olive oil and mix until you have a creamy paste
Put your pizza dough on a greased pizza pan or whatever pan you are going to use. Spread it out.
Spread the garlic/oil paste all over the pizza dough (we’re doing this to seal the dough against the moisture of the cherry tomatoes)
Sprinkle the chopped herbs all over the garlic paste.
Sprinkle the chopped tomatoes on top of that; try to get them as even as you can and with the cut sides UP.
Sprinkle a good slug of the dried, grated Italian cheese on top of the tomatoes.
Put on the bottom rack of the oven for 15 minutes. At the end of 15 minutes, check the crust – it should be crispy. If not, leave in for another 5 minutes and check again. If you have to, use a spatula and lift it up and check how crispy it is on the bottom – if it’s crispy, it is DONE. Take it out, immediately cut into pieces and everyone dig in!!
Now, when you have major ‘fabric and craft’ retailers literally offering, brand by brand, patterns at 5 for $5.00 on a monthly basis, it might seem a bit of a formal exercise to talk about all the different styles that you can get out of one pattern in order to limit the number of patterns you need to have in the stash, but bear with me here. Once you get the feel for doing this, not only do you start to recognize the ‘bones’ in the patterns (and the fact that there really are not that many different styles out there), but also realize what you can do with the patterns you’ve already made (and worked out all the fitting issues with). This is a big time-saver versus buying a new pattern, making and tweaking a muslin and so on. (more…)