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1994: I had finally completed Nancy Mirman’s Kandu Coat. cover_kanducoat1 I chose my sister’s favorite colors, teal-green and purple, for the top of the jacket and gradually darkened the jacket to navy and black at the bottom so she could wear it with either color for work. (Well, okay, it really isn’t corporate enough…)

I enlarged the pattern slightly by choosing strips that were about 1/4 inch wider than the pattern suggested. I was on a mission to use all types of fabrics styles in my projects, so you can see all sorts of oddities if you look closely at the choices. My only regret is using a rayon challis print. Otherwise the fabrics are all cotton. The base fabric was a miswoven tattersall oxford shirting that I must have found on the 50 cent table at Hancock’s in the mid 1980s when I was so strapped for cash that I was vulnerable to the call of inexpensive but truly weird fabrics… lol. In any case, I had several major surgeries from 1993-94 so I had plenty of couch time to view this on the ‘design wall’ (a flannel covered cutting mat leaned against a chair.)


You can see a bit of the silk lining above the label I put on the inside back hem band. The jacquard lining is very comfortable and made me vow to always use silk to line jackets.



I added shoulder pads between the jacket and the lining to keep the jacket in position on my sister’s sloping/forward shoulders. Currently I’m the one who wears this jacket even though the colors are not the most flattering. The shoulder pads are somewhat too large and positioned too far forward for me, but I haven’t been worried about it enough to change them yet. If I were ever inclined to make another Kandu Coat / jacket just for me, I would lengthen both the body and the sleeves. Even with the cuffs folded down, the sleeves on this jacket don’t reach my wrists.

One fun and unexpected aspect of this jacket is that you can store small objects in the underarm area of the sleeve. This is a common thing, I think, with kimono, but this pattern doesn’t have that bag-shaped sleeve, so I was surprised to find how secure things were when stashed there. lol.


About 15 years ago I found some linen-cotton blend woven fabrics on the $1.00/yd sale table (solid colors in black, navy, red, light green, off-white) and decided to make four-gored flared Swishy** skirts with as wide a hem as I could manage, given the width of the fabric.

Now it’s been decades since I took a geometry class, but I figured if I made the bottom of the skirt the width of the fabric minus the selvedge, measured the length I wanted and added extra for a machine-stitched hem and a fold-over casing for the waist elastic, and made the top measurement my hip measurement divided by four, I’d be close to the desired shape. (Vertical grainline centered on the pattern piece. And I personally scoop out an inch or two from the back center of the waistband to keep the back hem from sagging.)

Navy linen flared skirt

What I found was that one skirt like this would take a purchase of nearly 6 yards of fabric! The linen/cotton blend fabric did shrink some when prewashed and machine dried. It softened up beautifully. The weight of the skirt helps it hang in soft folds and I rarely have to iron these skirts unless they are packed tightly in a suitcase for a long time.

After making 3 black skirts, one navy and one light green skirt from this fabric (which is similar to the Essex blend sold at Dharma Trading) I started to think this was the ideal skirt pattern for everyone.

So I hit all the Walmart stores within a 60 mile radius and then cranked out a bunch for gifts. All 6 of the adult women in my family got one. That’s how I learned to THINK before doing such a project again! lol.

The actual drafting/cutting and sewing was really not an issue. I was using the 4 thread option on my serger for all the seams and the edge finishing before folding the hem and casing and machine stitching them. I never ‘thread’ elastic, but add it as I sew the casing.

The problem was that most of the women were not flattered by a skirt with that long lower-calf length and flared shape. No doubt those gifts hit the thrift shops or rag bags many years ago.

A couple of mine have been cut up for rags too, since I actually wore them out. I’m pretty hard on clothing – these tend to get caught on nails and other stuff and get holes torn in them.

However, the design is still a favorite of mine, although sometimes now I sew the hip portion a little narrower and flare the bottom out to my preferred circumference. I’ve contemplated changing the style to add godets. Rusty Bobbin has a blog tutorial on how to draft your own multi-gored skirt with more accurate calculations that would make it easier to follow than my description above.

I’ve used 100% linen a couple times; I love the soft sueded look the linen gets as it’s worn. Luckily that softer look/coloration is flattering to my low-contrast eye/hair/skin colors.

linen skirt waistband

These are quite comfortable to wear in warm weather and are opaque enough (in the darker colors) that no under layer is needed. They can also be layered with cotton tights and underskirts/slips for cooler days, although that adds some apparent bulk to the hips.

I guess I should check through my fabrics and see what could be used for a new skirt. I think I’ll try more gores this time. Or I’ll change the 4 gored skirt so the center back is not on a seam, but rather is the center of one of the panels; I think the skirt will hang more closely over the hip area with this change. I’ve also considered painting some sort of design on the fabric itself.

**Swishy skirt: So named by my husband’s aunt Betty. Whenever she catches me in pants, she laments that I haven’t worn one of her favorite ‘swishy’ skirts. lol.

Serious back problems in the past 15 years or so have helped me to the conclusion that my life-long weaving dreams need to be expressed in some other way. The supplies and equipment that I purchased in the 1980s need to go to persons who will use them. I sold my Jack floor loom locally. I still have a few older shuttles of various styles, some yarns and threads, and this warp winding mill.

Here’s the LeClerc standing warping reel. I think it’s the 30 (or 40) yard model. My guess is that it was originally constructed of hardwoods in the 1960s. After I first learned to wind a warp along a series of very long tables, I was amazed to find that a person could actually stand in one place and let a warping reel do the walking for you.


Not such great photos…but you can see how this can be stored flat near a wall. I’ve even used it as a room divider and/or to display wall hangings and rugs in the past. This photo was taken in bright sunlight during our yard sale last summer; sadly, no weavers showed up that weekend…

warping reel

The reel is easily dismantled down to a bunch of wooden pieces and poles about 5 feet long for shipping. If you aren’t in a huge hurry it could probably also be delivered in person. (Our family also owns a small commercial trucking business and we might be able to coordinate your delivery with other work or maybe even an August road trip would be fun for dh and me! I’m thinking $100 for the reel and $70 for standard shipping, assuming you live in the contiguous US states.)

If you want more info on how this reel works, the LeClerc website has a pretty good schematic of the assembly and parts numbers of a similar older model. You’ll need a pdf reader.

PDF file of LeClerc vertical warping mill

or go to this page of the LeClerc site and scroll down to the bottom section, looking for the ‘vertical warping mill, floor model’

EDITED TO ADD, Nov 2009: The reel has found a new home in Texas! I’ll leave this post up for the photos and the link to the assembly and parts numbers for the LeClerc reels.

What causes the stitches on my fleece to make holes along the seamline?


For my 2008 SWAP wardrobe I sewed these olive sweatpants from some 100% cotton Siltex fleece. I think the official Siltex Canada color name is Pesto.

I used the Kwik Sew 3393 pants pattern and they fit quite nicely. Not tight at all; but skim over the lumps/bumps. The thing I like best about this pair is that they have stayed long enough! I did wash/dry/preshrink the fabric twice with hot water and a medium hot dryer, so that probably helped.

But I’m disappointed in the fabric along the seamlines. The knit fabric loops have broken occasionally along the stitching lines. Not every stitch, just one or two per inch. Sewn with a narrow zigzag on my Bernina 1090, not with the serger.


Maybe it’s a dull needle? Or maybe too-sharp needle that’s cutting the yarns as it stitches? I truly do not remember whether I used a Schmetz Universal needle or not, nor which size, although I’d guess an 80 or 90 (12 or 14). I change needles quite often, usually after each project, so I would have thought it wouldn’t be a worn-out needle. I check the needle for burrs quite often, as that’s one of my pet peeves. So maybe I need a ballpoint or a stretch needle next time.


And there will be a next time. In fact I may use the same pattern again with the same fabric. I’ve worn this pair at least one day every week for about 8 months (not counting the months it was too hot to wear such heavy pants. The color goes with several tops and even though it’s technically ‘sweatpants’ they do look quite a bit dressier than that when worn.

I wonder if the cotton fibers are just less pliable than polyester. Or if there’s something about our very alkaline water that makes the cotton fibers brittle? Anyone have ideas about this? And/or experience fixing it?

Here’s the followup photo of the Lenten banner I discussed earlier.



I took photos today with several different camera settings, finding that the colors are rendered slightly differently on each. Here’s the picture that inspired our version, from the Leader, Winter 2003, I think.

I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Jeremiah 31:33b

Banner top

At the time I hadn’t learned to use resists with the pigment dyes, so I was working on dry canvas, trying various methods to keep the colors from running together when I didn’t want them combined. I painted an opaque white under the yellow and under the heart section.


I really wanted the ray of light/pen to pop out, so I used a fluorescent yellow with just a touch of green in the centers of the rays.


I was also trying to suggest that the pen that is ‘writing on the heart’ is pressing down on the surface; thus the lines radiating from the dark burgundy heart.

The hardest part of painting banners for my own congregation is that it’s hard to stop ‘working’ on it. I still sit in church sometimes and consider how I might have changed some part of the process.

In this particular case, the rod holding the banner is in great need of an overhaul. And the bottom of the banner was finished mostly with ironed-on Wonder-Under; not a finish that was expected to last through multiple hangings and manipulations over more than 5 years. So one of these days I’ll need to work on some repair/rehabilitation for this project.

Look what I found in my ‘drafts’ folder from Feb 24, 2008! roflmao

Evidently February isn’t traditionally my favorite month…

I’m ‘stuck’ – nothing cut out. nothing planned. have been sick, so nothing sewn.


What patterns to use for what items?


Jacket from knit wardrobe pattern?

Why can’t I find a turtleneck pattern? Why are they always so tight around my neck?

Maybe some (soy) cheese and crackers with that whine?

lol. I think I’ll head for this bookshelf and find something I haven’t read in a while….

West room bookshelf

Reading always seems to help healing time pass more quickly.

Years ago I joined a yahoo group that did a simple block exchange. I ended up with a group of 3-strip square ‘log’ blocks with the center strip signed by the maker. Of course, being a block exchange, the various blocks varied some in size and the only restraint on fabric choice was to use white or natural colored cotton for the signature strip. I looked at the blocks on my design ‘wall’ for quite a while before finally deciding on this layout:

Signature Quilt

I used this alternate block, a nine-patch, to pull the thing together a bit:

Alternate block

One of the ‘plain’ blocks is an old favorite Hoffman batik, one of those used for the tablecloths at my dd’s wedding reception. The other is a cream/pink small floral. Both are also represented in the 9-patch alternate block.

Unfortunately, this top is still sitting around somewhere in a box, unquilted. I have way too many of these sorts of UFOs…the initial design challenge was fun, but the reality of finishing them? Not so much.

Several years ago I started a Lenten banner with Dharma Pigment dyes painted on canvas and worked on it weekly through the season. Here’s a photo of one of the earlier weeks:

Lenten banner 1

And then a later week:

Lenten banner 2

When I’m well enough to head over to the church, I’ll take a photo of the finished piece. Surprisingly, it’s still being used fairly regularly. And I’ll work on finding the scripture upon which it is based, and if we are lucky, I’ll find info on the original banner that inspired my version….

Here’s the update…

Okay, when I’m too sick to even think about sewing, much less actually doing it, I still do try to keep up with family on the web via our yahoo group and more recently, Facebook.


Isn’t this a great photo? I never realized, until this little guy showed up in September, how a grandchild could perk up your week!

A sewing related observation: Taking a look at my daughter’s shoulders reminds me of what fun it was to sew for her when she was a child/teen! She’s a real clothes horse (with the shoulders to go with that designation) with a real gift for understanding what clothing flatters her and for somehow managing to effortlessly be ahead of style trends while still having a practical professional working mom wardrobe.

“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.” — Robert Burns, To a Mouse…

Back in January I enthused about the Million Dollar Quartet musical show that dh and I would be able to attend in February, as soon as we finished our income tax prep. The plan: take Amtrak to the city, take public transportation north to the Apollo for the 2pm Wednesday matinee, return the same evening on the last train west. You can guess what happened next…


Since the first week of February my body has been in a skirmish with various bouts of flu and infections; travel (beyond a couple of short hikes to the mailbox) has been out of the question. I sat down here tonight to bemoan the fact that we’d be missing this show entirely as it was ending this weekend.

Surprise! At the Apollo Theater site I find that the show has been extended to April 12th!

So, I’m off to see about how to rid myself of this rash, fever and cough; on which day do you think I should gamble for tickets? April 1st?


February 2009
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In honor of my late father-in-law