Sunday, May 8, 2022

What I Did When I Wasn't Blogging - Part 2

It's Mother's Day as I'm writing this, and I wish you all a happy one!  I had the good fortune of spending the day yesterday with my daughter and her boyfriend, and we had a wonderful time on a sunny and warm spring day!

Okay, so catching up on a few other things I did while I took a break from blogging in March and April.  I made a couple of kennel quilts for the veterinary surgery clinic where my daughter works.  This was again sparked by the sewing room declutter challenge earlier in the year, where I found I needed to thin out the pile of old scrubs and miscellaneous animal-themed fabric scraps I'd set aside for these quilts.  

I have a general idea of the size they like to use at the clinic.  With that in mind, I cut my squares so as to get the most bang for the buck out of the odd sizes of scraps available.

The scrubs I used were all darker solid colors.  The scrub pants had extra seams down the front, so instead of a wider pants front to work with, I had narrower strips.  I decided to use these for one of the quilt backings.  It was fun to puzzle it out on the living room floor.  

The other backing was made with miscellaneous chunks from the tops and pants.  

I like the way both backs turned out.  The scrubs fabric is a blend that feels so soft, too.

These crazy pirate cats made me smile.  I found that fabric, along with the fire station dogs, while thrifting last year.  

In that same thrift haul, I bought a bag of polyester batting scraps for $2, which is what I used in these two kennel quilts.

* * * * *

We had a wedding to go to in early April, our first big (unmasked) event since the pandemic started.  I was really looking forward to it, but—that age-old dilemma—I had nothing to wear.  For most women, you just go shopping and find something cute, right?  Well, when you're 6'2" with very long arms and legs, that's not so easy.  And what looks good on a 20-something model doesn't necessarily jive with the aesthetics of a middle-aged woman who is usually cold (no bare arms for me, plus it was still between seasons here and could just as likely be 50 degrees or snow).

I ordered a tall size dress online with moderately high hopes.  Suffice it to say, it didn't work out and I had to send it back.  At that point, I resolved to wear pants and a nice top instead.  In shopping for tops, sometimes I have luck with stores like Lane Bryant or Torrid because the cut is more generous, hence the sleeves and body a bit longer.  So my daughter and I set a date to go shopping, and with her help I found a nice top and a long-sleeved cardigan to go with it.  Yay!

Now for the real dilemma: Pants.  All of my pre-pandemic dress pants were too tight.  I'd gone through my closet last year and gave my sister a stack of the ones that no longer fit.  At my request, she brought them back and I tried them on again.  I had lost a few pounds in the interim, but most were still unwearable.  There was one gray pair, however, that I thought might do in a pinch if I could let out any of the seams.  If not, maybe I could use them to draft a pattern and make a new pair that fit well.  Which is, long story short, what I attempted to do, but (-spoiler alert-) did not entirely succeed.  

It turned out to be less straightforward than it would seem.  I had some navy trouser fabric on hand that I decided to use to make a (hopefully wearable) muslin.  The idea was that after I'd drafted the pattern and done any necessary tweaking, I'd make myself a pair of pants that fit like a dream.  Right?  Not exactly.

Over the course of the next week, I sewed, adjusted, and ripped every seam in that trial pair at least three times (except the fly front; I made a stellar fly front in one go!).  I watched YouTube after YouTube on proper pants fitting.  I enlisted my husband in taking countless photos of my rear view to help me determine what was going on back there.

Ultimately, I got the pants to fit everywhere but the in the back legs below the butt, where there was just all this extra fabric.  Below you can see where the hubs has pinched it with a couple of clips.  Unfortunately, I couldn't just cut and sew a seam where it is clipped.  I'd have to make an adjustment on the pattern and recut the back.  Basically, start over.

With the event date fast approaching, I did the best I could but eventually had to give up on making a pair of pants.  I went back to my old, too-tight, charcoal gray pants to see what, if anything, could be done to salvage them.  I was able to remove the back waistband and let out the two back darts and eke out a scant 1/4 inch from the center back seam.  Then I cut a new back waistband from some other fabric in my stash.  It worked well enough, and that's the pair of pants I wore to the wedding.

What I learned from all of that is that I need to take a pants fitting class and figure out, once and for all, how to make myself a pair of pants that truly fit well.  My online shopping options, for dress pants especially, are severely limited.  Long Tall Sally sells out of my size in a heartbeat. JCPenney no longer has women's pants in ultra-tall, which had been my mainstay for years back when I had to have work wear.

If you're wondering, I did finish the pants muslin with a waistband and hem.  Though the back leg does not look great, it's better than the first picture above and they'd probably be okay to wear in a pinch.  Preferably at night or to a dark theater.

* * * * *

Finally, to put a positive cap on this post, I finished this scrappy rail fence quilt.  

This is the top I worked on last summer after I had finger surgery.  Having cut all the pieces beforehand, it was something easy enough to sew together while my left hand was in a splint and rehabbing.  

It was made with many of the scraps left over from making masks, so it's kind of a memory quilt in a way.  Not that I want to remember wearing and making masks, specifically, but rather the creative and supportive efforts to make ourselves and others safer during that time.

Finishing this quilt was a good way to bounce back from the pants making fiasco.  It was a nice feeling of accomplishment.



Alycia~Quiltygirl said...

Cute Kennel Quilts!
And wow!! great effort on the pants!! I can find them at Wrangler - they have 38 inch inseams - and sometimes Old Navy has longs that fit right

The Joyful Quilter said...

Love, love, LOVE your super scrappy Rail Fence quilt, Paulette!! Nice work on the kennel quilts and the pants, too. I've made a few skirts, but never pants. Fitting is HARD!