Snowed In

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Notice that the dog has kicked off one of her booties? She really regretted that once she realized how cold the ground was.

Ugh. It’s been frigid here in Portland, and we’ve even had a dusting of snow–a rare sight, for sure. So we’ve been stuck in the house (with the notable exceptions of Josh going to work for a few hours each day and venturing out to the Blazers vs. Kings game last night). You’d think that would help with the final push to get all of our holiday gifts finished and shipped. Yeah, you’d think. As of Sunday, this was the state of all of our gifts that needed to be made.

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The pile looks pretty daunting, eh?

We sent Sunday slogging through a couple of gifts for folks–the pieced bag (for Josh’s grandma) from Anna Maria Horner’s new book and a fancy hostess apron for Josh’s stepmother (also from Anna Maria’s book). Josh’s other grandmother is going to be getting an Amy Butler Downtown Purse, which she specifically mentioned when she didn’t get one last year (she saw Josh’s stepmother‘s last year), and it’s almost done, just needs the lining sewn attached to the bag body.

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Half of the pieced bag--this is looking dangerously close to quilting...

We’re on the home stretch, but totally blew our December 16 deadline. (Snow was a factor, but not the factor.) This year, we’re not attempting any insanity like last, in which we tried to make everything for everyone. That was just too stressful and exhausting. And, frankly, not everyone likes a homemade gift (weird, huh?).

In other–completely random–news, Sarah was shopping for the fabric for the pieced bag at Fabric Depot last week and was innocently minding her own business when she crashed smack into this pillar with her cart.

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At least they had the decency to paint it red.

Yes, it’s a concrete pillar, the same height as the bolts of fabric, in the middle of the aisle. Hands down, The Despot has one of the most inhospitable shopping environments ever. What, they’re booby-trapping the store now?

And, finally, this is Josh’s secret holiday project. He calls it, “A Very Zombie Christmas.” Can’t say much else about it…

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This guy was left over from our garage sale from hell.

Happy holidays, everyone. And please reassure us that we’re not the only ones who have totally botched up the gifting and decorating this year…

~S & J

Sew Together: How We Got Started

So, we sew together, right? We thought we’d let you know how this whole thing got started. This is the first in (hopefully, no promises) in ways you and your sweetie (or best bud/mom/brother/unrequited crush) can get started working on sewing projects together.

When we first started this little adventure Josh really wanted to make something sporty and retro. A pair of shorts seemed to be a great way to make something he would wear and also something that he could actually make (with lots and lots of assistance from the Sewist). Oh, yeah, and Josh also expressed a keen interest in appliqué.

Sarah, not knowing anything about sewing men’s clothing, guessed that a pair of shorts would be a good one to teach Josh on—not too much of a pain in the ass, and some room for creativity. Josh remembered trying to make a pair of shorts once when he was in high school that he totally gave up on had his Mom finish. (They were really really cool. He called them his “Tribe Called Quest Shorts” because they looked similar to an album cover. Imagine his surprise when the student teacher came in one day sporting the same fabric in shirt form, terribly imagined humiliation). Why not complete a project given up on years ago—how much could you screw up shorts? The answer is “not much” unless you sew the leg hole shut (another story for another time).

When the Sewer played soccer in high school, the fashion was to have BIG shorts, ridiculously large and puffy, they are still the look and feel that he is accustomed. For this project we combined the look of 1940s-50s cotton soccer shorts (after a lot of image searching on Google) with the leg numbering that became the fashion in the 1970s. We could have gone with a more traditional “throwback” jersey idea and made it look perfectly period appropriate, but we wanted to have some fun. Plus, Josh is not wearing shorts this short.

Our first task was to take a pair of shorts that the Sewer liked to wear and lay them out and measure them for length and leg width. Here is where we can make fun of Josh, because he didn’t want to use a pattern and didn’t believe in them at this point (novice indeed). (You can imagine how much this infuriated Sarah—he wanted to learn to sew, but was vehemently opposed to a sewing pattern?!) It wasn’t a big deal for this task, but would cause him headaches later in his sewing maturation. To make the crotch curve correctly, we used a pair of pajama pants from one of the Sewist’s patterns. This is where a French Curve or a pair of MEN’S pajama bottoms would work perfectly. We had to use the curve backwards to get the shorts to fit right. (This resulted in more of Sarah’s ire over Josh’s refusal to use a PATTERN.) Sarah also helped Josh make the shorts kind of A-lined, so that they’d be more flared and billowy.

We used a white cotton pique for the fabric, because it was stretchy, somewhat sporty and all cotton to give it that old school look. The Sewer felt particularly redeemed by his choice when the Sewist-in-law exclaimed how sporty and retro looking it was (no prompting either). For the construction of the shorts, it was a good choice because it was easy to work with for the sewing virgin, which wouldn’t have been true if we had used a more modern looking polyester.

I (Josh) would like to say that getting started scared the crap out of me. As you have heard me mention, I am cheap and I lived in fear of screwing up my $9 worth of fabric (ah, the good old days).

(Note from Sarah: Josh was also terrified of being impaled by the sewing machine. It was pretty hilarious and helped offset the irritation bred by Josh’s refusal to use a sewing pattern.)

To add some extra flair to the shorts, we added green piping down the outside of each leg and felt appliques. We used a simple elastic waistband and a double folded hem on the bottom of the legs, two things that would become important in other projects.

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Believe it or not, sewing on the appliques was one of the most important lessons that the Sewer learned from this project. He really had to take his time a concentrate on the stitches in front of him and also he had to manipulate the fabric to do the curves of the letters and numbers, which is great start for when the sewing gets more complicated.

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When the shorts were finished we had accomplished a project that Josh would actually wear (and feel awesome in), which is also a great way to start off a sewing career.

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Here is a rundown of the supplies we used:

1 yard of cotton pique $9.00
1 elastic waistband $1.00
piping $3.00
thread $4.00
felt $0.80

total cost: $17.90 with thread and piping left over for other projects. “Authentic” soccer shorts cost $40 dollars or more. The total cost for this project is less than $18 and a lot of fun!

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Josh would also like to take this opportunity to show off. No, not his pasty legs, but the snazzy new shoes he’s sporting in this shot. Yeah, they’ve got neon signs on them.

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