Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.

Pjs and wheelchair bags


By Wednesday, my official third day off from studying, I’d already done more craft-wise than I’ve done all year.

Do you remember the pjs I made for Chris awhile back? Well, I used more of the same remnant fabric and made me a pair.

There are four pleats in the front and two pleats in the back.ย The shorts are hard to pull up over the hips, but fit wonderfully once I get them up. I think, next time, I’ll leave off the front and back pleats to see if that’ll make the shorts more comfortable to pull up.

Also, in this post, did you see the button I sewed back onto Chris’ shorts? It fell off within in a week. Turns out the button was broke! I figure I need to find the shorts and attach a new button in the coming week, too. I’ll do that when I’m mending some jeans.

Actually, a lot of jeans. Many of my jeans have holes in the thighs. I’ve researched the various ways to mend jeans and I think I’m just going to go with the traditional patching. The holes are pretty big and I don’t really care for anyone to see my inner thighs or have crazy stitching in that area, so this really is the best option.

But, if you’re not interested in just old fashioned patching, here’s some other ideas: soluble stabilizerย andย crochet patches. All three of theses are courtesy of Craftzine and Instructables, two sites worth checking out for tips, projects and how-tos.

And, back in October, I started a ministry at church โ€” a knitting, crocheting and sewing ministry. Currently we’re making wheelchair/walker bags for area nursing home residents. I hoped to have several made by Christmas, but haven’t had much luck getting people to participate. Right now I have one lady who always joins me at the meetings every other Saturday (but she sort of has to since she has the key) and three ladies that occasionally show up when they can, but not very often. One lady, whom I’ve only talked to via phone, sent me a really cute bag made out of a kitchen towel.

So far the grand total is 5 bags. I’ve got one crocheted bag made and another cut out and ready to be sewn together. Another piece of fabric has been washed and ironed and is ready for cutting.

Our target goal now is February for Valentine’s Day. If you’re interested, this is the pattern we’re using (or click here for the pdf).


Pjs, some hemming and a quick update

Hello! How’ve you been? Did you think I forgot about you? ๐Ÿ™‚

I just finished a pair of pj shorts for Chris this afternoon. It felt great to finish a project and have something to show you.

I have much more of this fabric and plan to make me a pair of pj bottoms, too. That’s actually next on my list, as well as, a shirt for me.

I also sewed a button (for the second time) on a pair of shorts this afternoon. I’m not sure how the it fell off the first time, but I made sure to sew it on extra tight this time. I’m not sure how that man loses his buttons. ๐Ÿ™‚

And, weeks after buying them, I finally got around to hemming two pairs of jeans for Chris. We bought them at Ross Dress for Less (my favorite store!) for about 20 bucks or so. Usually we have a hard time locating some good prices on jeans for Chris, so, though they were too long, I encouraged him to get them if he liked them.

But then I forgot about them. Oops!

So, now they’re ready wear. Hope he likes them. ๐Ÿ™‚

And, a quick update. I’ve returned to the classroom!

As you’ve probably noticed, a lot of my personal obligations have fallen by the wayside. It’s been a big adjustment, but I’m excited for the opportunity and glad that I can concentrate on this full time.

So, I can’t promise I’ll post weekly, but I’ll post when I can. Sharing my projects and recipes are still very important to me, but I’ve had some major changes in my routine and it’s been a lot to get used to.

Much improved skirt

I spent the largest part of this week in N.C. since I had something to do down there every single morning — meetings, a doctor visit, you name it.

Since I was going to be there for a while and I had a lot of mending to do, I grabbed a bag and stuffed it with a tank-top, shorts and a couple of skirts that needed fixing.

Thanks to Mom, I was able to complete every single one of those projects! Mostly because she fixed the hole in the collar of the tank top, placed a dart in the shorts so they fit better and forbid me to touch one of the skirts because I managed to mess up the waist band.

The skirt is made from a stretchy knit and, over the course of a day, stretches out so much that I have to tug it up very few minutes. So I needed to take it in. Originally, Mom placed two darts in the back and that took care of that problem.

I also didn’t like the rolled hem, so I tried to hem it up. To get the material to lay flat, I knew the side seams needed to be tapered outward. So I did that. Then I wanted to cut off the excess side seam material. Doing that I some how cut off the bias tape binding around the waist, leaving a gaping hole.

Mom rescued the skirt. She took out the darts and sewed up the side. Then she set to work hemming the bottom … refusing to let me get near the “poor ol’ skirt.

While she did that, I got to work on some other projects. The second skirt didn’t fit all that well so I left it for my sister-in-law and the last skirt I worked on myself.

The skirt was long and beautiful, but I don’t look good in long skirts. It’s one Nannie gave to me a few winters ago and I’ve worn it mostly during the fall and winter with brown boots.

So I decided to cut it off and add lace to the bottom.

I went to put the skirt on last night to take a picture and the zipper broke. Mom got home and found me trying it get the zipper back together. “What did you do now?” she asked. “Why do you go to fix the hem and wind up messing up the waistband?” she teased me.

So we made a run to Hobby Lobby for a brown, 7-inch zipper and this is the result.

I love it!

Hemming can be hard to do

Sorry this post is late. Since I worked last Sunday, I had this past Friday off and I vowed to stay away from the computer and enjoy myself. And enjoy myself I did! All weekend long! Take a gander of some of what I did:

Do you remember these shorts?

Mmmm … I didn’t realize how dark this picture was. Sorry!

I tackled them again Friday. It took three hours — yes, three hours! — to re-hem these so that the fabric wouldn’t bunch. I tried three different techniques, including sewing a basting line and trying to ease in the extra fabric like you do with sleeves.

I finally found out that I had tapered the leg hems in the wrong direction! Yep, that was it. After sewing the leg seams from the seam line to the edge of the fabric, the material laid nice and flat. Before, I had tapered in, toward the leg itself!

Look! No bunching fabric! Yes!

Now the legs lay nice and even. I’m so happy and can’t wait for it to warm up so Chris can wear them every day this summer!

I also cut off the original hem, which was fine because the shorts were too long for the hubby anyway. They now hit him just above the knee and fit nicely too.

These shorts are by no means perfect, but they are improved enough that Chris might wear them more often when the weather warms up.

Besides scratching my head over what should have been a simple technique, I also took a day trip with the fam, baked tortillas and took up two pajama bottoms this weekend. I’m feeling very satisfied after such a productive weekend!

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Shorts are finished!

I’m in need of quick sewing projects. I’m drawn to projects that are detailed and, therefore, take a long time for me to make. Which is usually fine, because I love the projects once I’m finished. Usually. These shorts, however, have not been fun. So, it’s time for a break.

I was happy to learn how to do back pockets and underlaps, but it just took a long time to figure out what needed to be done. And I’m not sure I did them completely right.

In the end, I’m sort of proud how they came out, especially the back pockets.

I wished BurdaStyle had larger, more detailed pics on the page. I found it hard to figure out what I was supposed to do and that may have helped. (I do like the idea of printing at home though.)

If you’ve never sewn a stitch before, I wouldn’t recommend any detailed projects from BurdaStyle quite yet. (Sorry, guys!)

I know they say to start out simple and work your way up, but I believe that if there’s something you want to make, start with that. You’ll enjoy it more than if you sewed something you won’t use.

I haven’t had any trouble using McCall’s or Simplicity patterns, no matter if it was for jeans or jackets, but they tend to use a lot of pics . . . like a pic for every, single step. And that works better for me. The pattern instructions with pictures show me visually what to do. Sometimes I need that as well as words.

So, BurdaStyle patterns may just take me longer to figure them out. (Though if I went with simpler patterns I probably won’t have as much trouble and should be able to whiz through them.)

Besides trying to figure out instructions for new techniques, I hit quite a few snags on techniques I’ve done before and, usually, feel quite confident about.

For instance, the hem. Oh, Lord, why can I not hem? If anyone can tell by the pics below what I’m doing wrong, please help!

I do sew an angle at the bottom the hem, which is supposed to take up the extra material and prevent puckering, but for the life of me, I couldn’t get it to work with this project. I don’t know if it’s the material, but I suspect it’s operator error and I need help learning a new way to keep hems from puckering.

I also had trouble with the belt loops. I couldn’t get the fabric to turn inside out. I think it was because the material is so stiff. So the loops show serger thread and look pretty tacky. But, hopefully, Chris’ shirt will cover those and it’ll be all right.

I also did pretty awful with the zipper. I’ve never sewn a zipper with an underlap and I don’t think it is supposed to make that much of a difference, but it did. I usually can’t keep the stitching straight and that was to be expected here, but all these stray stitches look pretty bad.

Instead of looking for a nice contrasting thread, from now on I’m going to use thread that’ll blend in. Yeah, I like contrasting, top stitching, but jeez, I do not sew well enough to want to show the stitching off!

Anyway, I hope the hubby will like these shorts. I think they turned out okay, though they’re far from perfect or even okay. At least he’s got something to cover his bum. ๐Ÿ™‚

Crafty vacation week

My husband, Chris, and I couldn’t quite agree on what to do for our vacation the week of June 29.

Chris wanted to go camping and give our new tent and supplies, which we received as Christmas gifts last year, a second time out of their bags. And, boy, was it beautiful weather! Perfect for camping. Chris imagined sleeping under the stars somewhere in the North Carolina mountains.

Although I like to camp, I really wanted to spend a week at home relaxing and crafting. With all the commuting I do on a weekly basis, I really longed to stay at home and enjoy the homestead.
Understanding of my feelings, Chris agreed to take a staycation. He worked in the yard, planting new shrubs and flowers while I happily got busy completing projects I’ve had laying around for weeks.

One of those projects was a pair of shorts I had cut out of a thin blue, yellow and pink plaid material my grandmother had given to me. Double lined with the same print, the project taught me the new skills of pocket making and belt carriers, or loops.

I quickly whipped them up, wanting to wear them for the upcoming July 4th weekend. Unfortunately, the waistband was too short. But, impatient me, I tucked and pulled at the shorts to make them fit, causing a pucker in the front right of the shorts. Pretty unsightly.

I also had trouble with the hems. I couldn’t figure out what made the material pucker. With both problems, I couldn’t bring myself to wear the shorts as is.

Consulting with Janice Saunders Maresh’s “Sewing for Dummies,” my trusty sewing Bible, I learned how to expand the waistband to make it fit better and learned to taper the leg seams so that the hems to prevent puckering. I haven’t tackled either technique yet but am happy that the shorts aren’t a total loss.

Another techinque I’ve been wanting to learn is knitting socks. The idea of knitting with five double-pointed needles scared me. How in the world would I be able to keep stitches from slipping off of the needles. That seemed like it would be a pretty common problem with a sock project. Using a size 4 set of double-pointed needles and Cindy Guggemos’ “I Can’t Believe I’m Knitting Socks,” a Christmas gift from my mom, I decided to give it a go.

I was certain I’d be all thumbs, but so far it’s been fairly easy. I’ve got a couple of holes here and there, but that’s most likely from dropped or stretched stitches. I hope to soon graduate from the basic sock pattern to the basic chevron pattern, which I think is by far the prettiest pattern in the whole book.

I can’t wait to get good enough to knit some socks for my mom and sister for Christmas. I’m thinking the little arrowhead socks in pink for Mom and the crest o’ the waves, my second favorite pattern in the book, in a purple, red or black for my sister. Or maybe knitting them up with some verigated yarn would be nice.

So, lots of progress this week. There’s nothing like getting some creative time in and catching up on some projects.