Gemma Tank, Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing, Uncategorized

Gemma Tank Five Ways

Version #1 of the Gemma Tank Pattern by Made By Rae. Size medium. Higher neckline version which I cut a bit lower. No other adjustments except adding 2 inches to the length. Fabric is from the Bound Collection by April Rhodes. Front view:img_2700Back view:img_2677Version number 2: Size medium. Same adjustments as version #1 but decided after cutting out the pattern to use contrasting fabric left over from my Luna Pants for bias binding.  I deliberately sewed it in a way that lets it be seen (fake piping method which I describe in my Washi Madness and Washi Details posts). Because I didn’t add a seam allowance, the shoulders are a little narrow. But I love this tank because I love the fabric from the Lucky Strikes collection from Cotton and Steel. This tank falls into the very rare category of garments I love so much that I went out and bought the fabric again as a back up to make a second version if anything happens to the first. This is one of four garments that fit that category and yes, I bought another 2 yards of the fabric the other day (thank you Alewives Fabric where it is still available.) Front view:img_2732Back view:img_2703Side view:img_2713Version number 3. I made a muslin in size Small for my stepdaughters to try since they have a birthday coming up and there is some Octopus fabric just crying out to be a tank top. I tried it on and I liked the closer fit for the lower scooped neck so I made this version with Wood Block fabric from the Mesa collection of Cotton and Steel. Still available in green at Fabric.com and in both colorways at Hawthorne Threads. I am seriously contemplating buying the blue version because I love how well this fabric suits the pattern. I love how the fit feels on but I think I need to try another version cutting between the Small and Medium lines. The Medium is a little more blousy than I like. I didn’t realize it until I wore it all day. And the Small gets a little tight in the upper bust and I think the smaller size is a little less flattering to the bust. The drape of the medium is prettier than the tighter fit for those of us who are small busted but I like them both. It is sort of like having two patterns making the two versions (high neck vs scoop neck) in different sizes. I lengthened this one by 1 inch and used facing for the hem. Front view.img_2781 I used chambray left over from several previous projects that I purchased over 20 years ago in Brooklyn for the bias binding which I used on the neck, armholes and as a facing for the hem.img_2556 I swear that this fabric regenerates itself while I sleep. There is always a bit more for one more project. One of my children’s favorite childhood books was this one which this reminds me of. A wonderful book which we discovered through Chinaberry Books which is an amazing parenting resource for all you parents out there. img_2547 Gemma hanging on front door. #goodlightimg_2554Gemma hanging in a window. img_2550More pictures of my woodblock Gemma below. It might be my favorite. It is hard to choose. img_2757The Gemma tank is perfect with a cardigan:img_2793Side view:img_2773with Sadie the wonder dog who is not enjoying the Dog Days of Summer img_2740action shot with dog below, (note to self: add bra-strap holders) but the fit is really good as you can see.img_2747All of these tops have already been washed and worn. Even though the Dog Days of Summer are supposed to have been over August 11th-at least according to the internet- they are in full force in Connecticut. It has been unbearable. These tanks are perfect for these hot days. Sadie the wonder dog is not feeling so wonderful d/t the heat. #summerinconnecticutimg_2582I have two more Gemmas in the works. This teal version in Cotton and Steel lawn from the Cookie Book collection just needs binding. I haven’t yet decided whether to bind it with matching binding on the outside like my April Rhodes Gemma or with contrasting pink binding on the inside like my other two Gemmas. I may split the difference and use the pink for a hem facing and do the bindings in the traditional way called for by the pattern a la version 1. Still deciding and still #toohottosew in CT so it will have to wait.img_2663You may not be able to see it in the photo but I stay-stitched all my seams. Rae taught me well!img_2649This final version is Art Gallery voile purchased on sale from the always awesome The Cloth Pocket, my neighborhood store in Austin, Texas. I love buying fabric there online and in person. I feel as though I have a whole group of sewing friends cheering me on, which I do. I lined it with organic cotton batiste from Fabric.com which I have used successfully for several projects. It just needs hemming. This was sort of an action shot. I was turning from back to front. But it gives you a good idea of the fit. I did add a bit of a seam allowance to the armholes but used more than I added. I lined it using the good old MBR sausage method which I have posted about many times. I will do a more detailed how-to blog soon.img_2627Back:img_2623So clearly I am enjoying this pattern. It is quick and easy sew and it allows you to get a little crazy with fabric because while you might not make a whole dress of a funky fabric, a tank top is a small enough commitment (and everything goes with jeans) so I am now looking at my stash in a new way and seeing so many possibilities. I will post again later this week with details and how-too info. Next up will be to try a Small-Medium version to see if that is the perfect Goldilocks fit solution and to get going on many tanks in size Small for the birthday girls. Action shot below. #jumpingforjoy because the heat is lifting:) img_2625

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About Me, Made By Rae Patterns, Reading and Books, Ruby Dress Pattern, Sewing, unplugged

Nursebean Takes a Minibreak

 

Getting ready to sew on day 1 of my mini-break.img_2259Summer can sometimes be a challenging time for me. Social media is flooded with vacation photos of beaches and mountains and faraway places (the pictures of Norway and Sweden are amazing) but probably the hardest pictures to see are pictures of cabins in the woods on beautiful clean lakes. It makes me want to just jump into the picture. This one is from a real estate listing is exactly the kind that gives me pangs.maine lake imageBut it turns out that being at home can also be wonderful. I used to spend summers in Maine. I was incredibly lucky and I will always treasure those summers. But that is just not my life right now. I work two jobs and I don’t have the money or time off to travel. But one benefit to not having a lot of time off is that when you finally do take a break, you appreciate it so much. I recently had 5 days off in a row. I didn’t go anywhere and I didn’t really do anything fancy or extravagant but I had a great time. Here is what I did.

I read several books-all of which were engaging summer reads that did not require much from me. The stories drew me in and carried me along. I got most of the book suggestions from Anne Bogel. The graphic novel was a book club read. Sort of Roz Chast on steroids. Weird but funny. I particularly enjoyed reading in early morning. Here’s what I read:

I spent a lot of time on my front porch-reading and eating simple meals both alone and with some of my kids who were home for part of the weekend. Lunch on the porch below:img_2279I made a nice breakfast with home made berry muffins for my family, most of whom were with us. It was great to have a big group around the table. I used the pretty china and picked wild flowers from the garden. I love big family gatherings centered around a nice meal and my kids live far away so this was a treat for me. We also had a taco night with part of the group the night before and a dinner out at a favorite restaurant with my two daughters and son in law. It is a place we had gone to many times when they were younger so that was a special evening.

Staying on the topic of food, I ate a lot of tomato and fried egg sandwiches-both separately and together. If I had to pick one favorite food it would probably be fresh summer tomatoes. I remember reading this book as a child and not really getting why the main character ate tomato sandwiches every day for lunch but I get it now. I could be perfectly happy doing that. Or alternating with a fried egg sandwich with avocado on good bread. These are my new favorite meals. Quick, inexpensive, delicious. My husband bought this mayonnaise by mistake one day and it turns out to be the secret ingredient.

img_2261I sewed, sewed, sewed. But I didn’t treat the sewing as a chore. I did a couple of hours of sewing every day. I listened to music while I sewed.  When it started to feel like a chore, I switched gears and read or did yoga. I completed three garments:  a Ruby Dress for myself and a Ruby Blouse for a friend:

and a new pair of Luna pants for me in a fun print.img_2350and I started work on a baby quilt for a friend. img_2386I decided to make a whole cloth quilt and hand quilt it. It was fun to make and not having to piece the top ended up making it less stressful. It also made the hand quilting much easier since there were no seam allowances. While I quilted, I listened to this audio book which is really terrific. Each of the sewing projects were things I had made before and which weren’t super complicated. This meant that I was able to complete a new garment in a day which was really fun. While I love trying new patterns, there is nothing like the tried and true pattern that you know by heart and which fits you well. Cut, sew, wear, repeat. Boom! 

I went to a great yoga class with my daughter and I did yoga on the porch the rest of the days. I am loving  30 days of yoga with Adrienneimg_2291I had a diner breakfast with my daughter and son in law and then my daughter and I got our toenails painted in summer colors before they flew back home to the mid-west. I miss her already. New Luna pants in the wild below. And then it was back to reality.img_2196At least I had a new dress to wear my first day back.img_2408

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Quilting, Sewing

Friendly Beasts Quilt

img_2457A dear friend is expecting a baby boy and I wanted to make her a quilt.img_2416 I love Cotton and Steel’s Bluebird line and was especially taken with the lion heart and octopus fabrics. img_2445Although I thought about different pieced block designs, I didn’t like the idea of cutting up the fabric. In the end, I just used these two beautiful fabrics and hand quilted free form wavy lines that I enjoyed swooping across the fabric with my chalk liner. img_2453It went so fast and was such a  fun project. More close-ups of curvy quilting lines below.  img_2449Whole cloth quilting goes so fast! No seam allowances to quilt through!img_2450The biniding was hand stitched. A bit wonky on the corners since I am out of practice.img_2448I don’t remember the last time I bound a quilt. Many years. I was a bit out of practice but it came back. The wonkyness means it was handmade. Love in every stitch.img_2447And I used a nursebeansews label for the first time!img_2459

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Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing

Wild and Crazy Luna Pants

img_2354The fabric was Fringe by April Rhodes for Art Gallery,  the pattern was the Luna Pants pattern by Made By Rae and the plan was to  have some fun making a pair of wild and crazy pants. Houston, I think we achieved lift-off. This is a quick and easy sew. I cut the pattern pieces out last night, spent a couple of hours sewing this afternoon and was able to wear these awesome new slacks out for ice-cream this evening.  For details on how to sew this pattern and links to all of Rae’s fabulous sewalong posts, check out my first Luna Pants Post. This is a very easy sew and it was only a bit more complicated this time because I took the notion to make the pockets and waist facing out of double gauze from the Cotton and Steel Bespoke line in indigo.img_2340I think I will ultimately be glad I did this for the comfort factor but it was a pain and I am not showing the inside of my back waist because it is a hot mess. Here is the pocket in process so you can see the color. It is more teal than navy but I like the contrast.img_2348The rest of the double gauze is going to be a Ruby blouse like this one. I use my big ruler to make sure I have the pattern pieces lined up along the grain.img_2339I cut out the Ruby pieces and the Luna pieces at the same time to make sure I had enough fabric.img_2344In anticipation of all the fraying, I sewed the pockets with multiple seams. img_2351I do like the way the finished pocket peeks out.img_2350I have to say that once I put these on, they put me in a goofy mood. My daughter captured some of this as you can see below.img_2371They just make you want to dance.img_2370Which is not a bad thing!img_2359Action shot:img_2380Mid dance pose:img_2375YOU need to make some Luna Pants!img_2373So much fun. Thanks Rae! img_2383

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Made By Rae Patterns, Ruby Dress Pattern, Sewing, unplugged

Path Marker Ruby Dress

img_2289Days off are a rare thing in my life and I am so thrilled to have five days off in a row when I don’t have to go to work. My daughter is visiting so there will be some family meals so that’s a bonus. Otherwise, I have no plans. Bliss!

I have not had a lot of time to sew in the last couple of months but I made a double gauze Ruby blouse last week and that helped me get back into my sewing groove. I wrote a pretty detailed post last week about the Ruby pattern with links to all of the tutorials that Rae has for that pattern. I can’t recommend Rae’s tutorials more highly. Excellent. And I previously blogged about several other Ruby dresses I have made here. So today’s post will just be to add some details.

I originally bought this April Rhodes fabric with a second pair of Luna Pants in mind. But when I got the fabric in the mail, it just screamed “dress”. It is quilting cotton but it is very lightweight and has a bit of stretch in it. It is a dream to work with unlike double gauze which I love to wear but which can be tricky to sew with. So this dress sewed up fast-like dress in a day fast. I like to line my bodices and I had bought this yellow patterned fabric in order to make a sleeveless Josephine blouse, another Made By Rae pattern that I haven’t yet tried. I think the diamond pattern will work well with the pleats in the Josephine. I bought two yards of it on mega-sale (less than $5/yard) at Fabric.com where it is sadly sold out. But you may be able to find it elsewhere. I didn’t plan to use the yellow originally, but when I saw them together, I thought that the yellow would work well to line the yoke. I cut out the Josephine first to make sure I would have enough fabric left over and I did. I will be hopefully sewing that this weekend as well.

The Ruby Pattern is a pretty simple pattern. If you line the bodice, you still only cut out six pieces: 2 each for the  front and back bodice and a front and a back for the dress. I usually make the Made By Rae patterns in a size M and add at least 2 inches to the torso or length. The Ruby has relatively small arm openings and while I don’t mind them on the dresses/blouse I have already made, I added some extra length to the front and back main pieces which has the effect of making the arm hole bigger. Interestingly the pictures of Rae modeling the shirt on the pattern site show plenty of room in the armhole but for me, the pattern cut out as is was pretty tight (must be all that yoga-ha!).  I added about half an inch to the top and a bit to the side. Since I generally make changes and then completely forget what I changed when I go back to make the pattern again, I took pictures this time. You can see how much I added below. It ended up being just enough.img_2267Here are more work-in-process pictures. I top stitched around the neck and also the upper part of the armhole. I use my presser foot to determine the size of my seam allowance so that everything lines up. I also cut my bias binding strips for the bottom part of the armhole 1.5 inches instead of 1.25 as suggested by Rae. I find I need a bit more to totally catch the binding on the other side. I don’t sew in the ditch. I have more luck sewing just next to it. Yoke lining in process:img_2263Sewing the bias binding to the bottom half of the armhole:

Lined yoke with top stitching around the neckline:img_2288After sewing the yoke to the dress front and back and hand-sewing the lining as Rae instructs in her videos, I top stitched the top of the armhole. Since I had used my presser foot as my seam allowance guide when I sewed the bias binding, I used the same approach to top stitch the top of the armhole. I ends up looking as though you sewed all the way around.img_2283I leave the threads long and then use a needle to bring them to the inside of the dress and then knot them off. img_2286You end up with a really nice clean finish that is durable. img_2284I had some questions on instagram about the top stitching. I don’t always do it and I think it actually looks cleaner without it but I feel as though my dresses are very durable and I love that I can machine wash everything and not spend money on dry cleaning. The Ruby dresses below have been worn and washed more than ten times and they have held up great.  You can see these Rubies in more detail here and here.

I thought about using the yellow to make a contrasting hem as I do, but in the end I just folded the hem up and ironed the heck out of it and sewed two rows of stitches. It turned out fine.

It is quite hot here today and part of my unplugged day was to do yoga on the porch and I am a sweaty mess so I have not taken pictures of me wearing it but I know this dress will be in frequent rotation. I am so happy with how it turned out. Great pattern and great fabric. Perfect combination!img_2290

 

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Made By Rae Patterns, Ruby Dress Pattern, Sewing

Plum Double Gauze Ruby Blouse

img_2166The Ruby Blouse by Made By Rae is a pattern I have made before. It is a loose fitting sleeveless top that provides good coverage and is a great basic for layering. When I saw this double gauze version by Rae, it planted the seed for trying this pattern in double gauze for summer. When I spied this plum colored Bespoke Double Gauze by Cotton and Steel on sale at Alewives Fabric, I decided to give it a try. I have sewn two Washi dresses in double gauze and I love the softness of the fabric but it is a bit tricky to work with and it is generally more expensive than the cottons I usually use so I save it for special projects.

I sewed quite a bit during Me Made May but have been very busy with work since then. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to plan some projects that would work together and I gathered some neutral grey and sage fabrics for skirts and some greens and this plum for tops. img_2054When I saw the floral lawn fabric next to the plum double gauze, I realized that it would be just the thing to line the bodice. I also noticed that the plum would be  a perfect lining for a planned Washi in green with pink stars. These garments are hopefully going to be a mini Summer capsule wardrobe one day. I have a sleeveless Beatrix top planned for the floral so I cut those pattern pieces out first to make sure that there would be enough to line the Ruby. img_2153The lawn is such nice lightweight fabric, it is the perfect weight to go with the double gauze and I have loved this fabric from afar for quite a while. I am happy that it will find its way into at least three garments (I have enough left over to face the waistband of at least one of the skirts.) Rae has great video tutorials for lining the Ruby bodice. img_2160It involves something she calls the sausage technique. I have used it for most of my Ruby and Washi garments. It works like a charm. Some steps pictured below.

I get great results every time following Rae’s instructions. Sometimes I top stitch the neckline and sometimes I don’t. I am always nervous doing it because I don’t want to ruin the nice clean finish. Luckily I found perfectly matching thread (Gutermann CA02776 btw). Since I am always worried about double gauze fraying, I decided to stitch it so that the seam would be stronger. I was really happy with how it turned out.

I sewed french seams for the side seams. Your iron is your friend when you are sewing french seams with double gauze. Also a rotary cutter to trim the fringe after sewing the first seam. I use pins to mark the right side of the fabric since it is sometimes hard to tell which is which.

I reinforced the seam with a second row of stitches. The Ruby uses a bias binding for the bottom half of the armhole. The instructions are very clear. One of the trickier parts is sewing the gathers. I hand basted with a contrasting thread before sewing. Unfortunately after sewing them, I decided I wasn’t happy with where I had gathered the fullness. The Ruby is most flattering when the front gathers are mostly on the side. So I spent a bit of time unpicking the nicely sewn seams which was made more tricky because my thread was such a perfect match for the fabric that it was hard to see.

The finished blouse below. I contemplated using the floral fabric to face the hem as I usually do but I decided to save the extra fabric for other projects.

I know this blouse will get a lot of wear. It is comfortable, cute, great for warm weather and for layering under a sweater in the fall. You can dress it up or wear it with jeans. I have another planned in navy and recently bought some white double gauze to finish some Ruby bodices I made last year and never finished. img_2215-1Side view below shows that the armhole is comfortable but not overly revealing.img_2231-1Up next, I have my floral lawn Beatrix blouse planned and a navy Ruby dress cut out and ready to go in this beautiful fabric by April Rhodes. I bought the fabric with a second pair of Luna Pants in mind but then when it came in the mail, it felt more like a Ruby Dress. Does that happen to you too where you buy fabric for one project but then use it for a different one altogether? I have some fabrics I haven’t cut into because I have a hard time committing. They would be great for so many things. I recently found this beautiful fabric in voile on sale and snatched up enough to make one nice project but I haven’t decided what it will be. I am leaning toward a Washi XP like this version by Rae. Time will tell.

I highly recommend this pattern. It is simple enough that even with taking the time on the little details, it is a project that can be finished in a week by doing a little each night. This is how I broke it down: 1) washed and ironed fabric 2) cut out pattern pieces 3) sewed yoke including the sausage and the neckline 4) gathered the front and back panels, sewed the side seams-french seams- and applied the bias binding to the arm holes 5) attached the front and back panels to the yoke 6) hand-sewed the yoke lining to the front and back panel seams 7) sewed the hem and wore it to work!img_2240-1

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About Me, Reading and Books

Nursebean Reads: August Classics Power-read

imageThis has been a great year for reading for me. After many years with not enough time, I have taken advantage of quiet weekend days and weekday evenings and all those little snippets of time waiting in line and in the morning when I drink my coffee and I have read a ton of books-80 so far this year to be exact. Here are some of my favorites:imageand also these:image

and these:

I have written before: here, here and here about what a huge impact the podcast What Should I Read Next? has had on my reading life. As the format is quite simple, I often imagine what I would answer to this question Anne asks her guests: What would you like to be different about your reading life? And generally I would answer, nothing. I am really happy with my reading life right now. But then, as I thought about it, I did have one nagging thought: there are a lot of books I feel I should have read and haven’t. Particularly since I am the daughter of an English professor. Yikes!

During the years I was in graduate school and busy with kids, I didn’t dwell on it because I had so little time to read that I wanted to just read what I liked-which was often a chick-lit or mystery book that would not require much of me. But now, with all the books I have found time for this year, I feel as though there is no excuse. And I am sure that if I make the time, I will be glad I did. They are classics for a reason right?

So I decided to create a little challenge for myself. I am going to devote one month, the month of August, to reading as many of the classics on my To Be Read list as I can fit in. I am preparing for this by downloading them onto my kindle because I find that when I read on my kindle, I read faster and I also toggle back and forth between my kindle and my phone so all those little extra 5 and 10 minutes waiting in lines etc become reading opportunities. Luckily, most classics are less than $1 and many are free on kindle. I bought all of Jane Austen earlier this year for 99 cents.

I will probably listen to at least one book on audio and I may splurge for an audible version to be able to toggle back and forth from written to audio using whispersync-something I learned about from Anne Bogel which seems genius to me. I am thinking Middlemarch might be the one, given its length.

I have started several of the books on my list multiple times and it is frustrating to feel as though I need to start over again but I think I will need to just do it to be able to get into the flow of the stories. I think that by not being tempted by library books, mysteries and beach reads, I will be more likely to make progress. Although I usually have about 5 different books going at once, I am going to try to read sequentially and see if that works better for me since I find I lose the thread of 19th century fiction when I don’t read the same book consistently.

I have six books on my list but I will just start with Persuasion on August 1st and will report back on how far down the list I get by the end of the month and what I loved/didn’t love about the books and the project.

I like the idea of having a defined time frame. It is sort of a whole30, only for books. Deciding to only read classics will take the guesswork out of book choices and will eliminate the temptation to pick something up from the new books section at the library. Knowing that I was able to make so much time for reading this year makes me confident that I will not be missing out on the the opportunity to read other books-I will just save them for September. Knowing that I plan to start this in three weeks is giving me the impetus to finish the books I am currently reading, including this one which is quite long but excellent so far.

How about you? Do you have books you are secretly embarrassed that you haven’t read? What would you put on your list for a month-long classics power-read? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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