mama whose curiosity knows no bounds

Posts tagged ‘sewing’

my first T-shirt – continued

Now I figured that size XL of Angela Wolf’s pattern was too big, I switched to size L and sew another fitting muslin.

Here’s the overall view:

Tummy area is a lot better. Ruching makes crosswise wrinkles to hide my protruding belly to a certain extent. Also improved is the sleeve fit. Learned from the first muslin, 3/4 sleeve pattern should not be used even if that fit my length. Instead, I draw a parallel line from long sleeve’ send point to 3/4 end point then draw a straight line to the armpit point.

Yet it’s not really a problem free.

As you can see, my shoulder is definitely bigger for this shirt. I didn’t realize until now that my upper arm, especially near shoulder is really big. It’s mostly fat, but probably there once were muscles below. I used to lap swim and my specialty was butterfly stroke!

So the next one – I plan to use one of three fashion fabrics I already bought – I will increase my bodice’s shoulder a little bit, just 1/4″ for both front and back. I glued a small piece of paper and increase the shoulder seam by 1/4″ then turned the line to arm hole about 4″ below.

I hope the. Next one will be a real good one!



My lab coat!

I posted about my first welt pockets. Now it was time to assemble other parts to make a lab coat. It was relatively simple but I think it’s a good practice before trying tailored jacket as it has a notched collar.


Shoulder seams were sewn and neckline was stay-stitched to prevent stretch.

Collar was sewn, turned right side out, and attached to the neck line. Back of the collar was slip stitched by hand.

Notched collar attached. Hand stitched at back.


It had sew in sleeve that has very high sleeve cap. I had two gathering stitch and managed to sew on, although instruction doesn’t mention about gathering stitch. I think lab coat in general should have lower sleeve cap as we move arms a lot. It may look more dignified with high sleeve cap, but raising arms is hard and now I understood.

High sleeve cap with gathering stitches


Hems were sewn, buttonholes were made, and I attached a star-shaped gold buttons. I think I impulse purchase about 10 years ago and now it’s time to use. There is no regulation about lab coat buttons!

Tada-! Flower print, star buttoned lab coat that has exactly the right sleeve length! Yay!



My first welt pockets!

Like most sewers, I’ve been all intimidated by welt pocket.  For those who don’t know what welt pocket is:  It’s mostly found in jackets and men’s trousers (see here for photo).  But after watching this Crafty class, I’m inspired to make one.  This is really a great class, though definitely not for beginners.

My long term sewing plan includes my husband’s trousers and my jackets to wear to concert or some business style meeting (if I had such an opportunity!).  Honestly, my husband won’t wear his trousers if it had patch pockets!

At the same time, I had long wanted to make my lab coat.  I rarely wear lab coats with these exceptions: 1) when I use radioactive materials, 2) when I use some hazardous chemicals (my definition of hazardous chemicals is much looser than most.  Once you know what each chemical does, you’ll know what is needed to protect self and others.), or 3) when I do handwashing.  Thanks to sinks built for 6 feet guys, I always have a hard time reaching and using the sink. I make a lot of splatters, and because I’m short (5’2″), I have to lean on the edge of the sink to reach. That’ll cause washing water to touch my chest/upper abdomen.  Yikes.  I do have a vinyl apron but it only protect chest.  To protect arms and other areas, I wear lab coat.

Commercially available lab coats are unisex and they ALWAYS have very long sleeves.  And they are not cute.  Either white or dark navy.  There is a company that makes custom lab coat and my husband uses one.  So why not making it.  I had some extra cotton fabric enough to make lab coats.

The pattern, Butterick 5287 (it may be discontinued by now), has three patch pockets.  Okay, let’s make it a welt pocket.  After all, it’s just light weight flat weave cotton.  It shouldn’t be too hard!  I also watched West Valley College’s FD62 lecture.  This is full of information! BTW, I strongly recommend this class, but watch it on iTuneU instead of YouTube!  It is tedius and fast playing and 15 second skip button is really helpful to watch through this video.  Now, I embarked on a simple welt pocket!

First I made 2″ x 7″ strip interfaced and folded lengthwise and pressed. I cut extra pocket pieces because welt pocket needs two, as opposed to one for patch pocket.

Then I marked the right side. I used Chaco-paper (I have a thing or two to talk about this).

After this, though not on the photo, welt strip’s cut edge and one pocket piece wrong side up is lined up the bottom of the line, and another pocket piece, wrong side up on top of the line. The edges butt together. Then sew with 1/4″ seam allowance.

Here’s the hardest part. You need to slice the bodice piece in between stitches, and making triangles at the end. If you don’t reach the end of the seam, it would look like mine. If you go over the stitch, it will fall apart. It has to be exactly at the end of stitch.

Now pushing welt, pocket pieces through the cut and press. Sew around the pocket pouch, making sure to catch the triangles.

My wimpiness shows through the fold.

Tara—! It’s not perfect, but it is a welt pocket. I need to practice more before I embark on my husband’s trouser!

Completed welt pocket. 7″ is probably too deep.



I love tailor’s clapper!

Tailor’s clapper is a simple piece of hardwood.

Official one looks like this:

Tailor’s clapper

“Official” Tailor’s clapper


Another "official" tailor's clapper

Another “official” tailor’s clapper

I learned of it from a couple of Craftsy classes (I can write a LOT) about them! This works for jeans.  You first blow a lot of steam from iron and then press with this piece of wood until it cools down.  This will make the crease so stable and crisp.  When I used just steam iron, jean hem couldn’t hold its place.  I either hand basted or used a fusible web before topstitching.

The price varies wildly.  And based on what I saw on craftsy, I understood that any small piece of hardwood will work (soft wood will warp by moisture from steam). So my husband, who likes wood carving, and I went to Woodcraft store and bought an assorted wood piece – like 1.5″ x 1.5″ x 8″ x 4 pieces.  It was about $20.  They were all from different woods and I picked the one that was the heaviest.  And I use it as is.  No grooves, no curves.  just a rectangular solid piece of wood.  This works!!!! I no longer have to baste the jean hem.  It will just stay in place.  It is so cheap, if you choose my route. And it improves sewing so much.  It is definitely worth getting!

Give a lot of steam and press with this “clapper”!


With steam iron. Basting will be needed.


After press with clapper. Crisp fold stay.


Agh, that seam ripper!

Saturday is almost always reserved for visit to K’s group home. Yesterday was no exception. On the way, I had an additional stuff to do – to buy his clothes as he is growing and to buy a tape measure as I needed to measure him to hem pants and possibly sewing his PJ and jeans, and of course I forgot to take it from home.

I stopped by a JoAnn about in the middle between my house and K’s house. There were many tape measures of various price. I didn’t need a fancy one. I have it at home. I looked at the notion wall very hard to get the best deal. Then I found the one – the tape and seam ripper set. I didn’t understand why they are sold in pair, but that was a good deal. The day before, I watched a Craftsy class and instructor mentioned that seam ripper should be replaced frequently. So I bought this set along with other small items. The measuring tape worked just did the job. K wiggled a lot, but I got the idea. And inseam, the most important Measurement was done.

After 9 pm, I started my sewing session. Now I’m making a wallet. This is a bit tricky and I made mistake and I used the ripper. Of course you know by now. that was the worst seam ripper ever! I seriously doubt if the ripper has a knife edge within. I already throw away the one I used to use. And when I don’t want to use it most, of course I have to use A LOT. I ripped the seam at least 6 times, including the one the flap to close the wallet in opposite direction so when finished, the flap would be sewn in the wallet and inaccessible!

I decided that it’s not the day for sewing and call it quit. And I remembered why I wanted to blog in the first place. I don’t have many friends to rant things like this on Facebook. Majority of my Facebook friends are somehow connected to my kids. It seems like sewing is not cool. Or lupus. Or cooking. If I get to know folks who share some of my interests, I might be understood! Even if I don’t find anyone, at least I let it out of my brain. That makes myself a bit lighter.

Anyway, the lesson learned: don’t buy the cheapest seam ripper. Especially when that’s paired with measuring tape!


My First Post – shouts in a well

Well, this is my very first blog post.  Let me introduce a bit.  I’m a Japanese mom in late 40’s.  I have a husband, a son, and a daughter.  My curiosity is endless – thus the blog title, “Boisterousmama”.   Or just totally unfocused.  Anyway.  I’ll post whatever I’m up to.

My dominant interests are, as a mom, of course, parenting.  But in my case it’s twisted.  First, my son is severely autistic and lives in a group home.  Second, my daughter is gifted and does gymnastics.  So my parenting interest expands to special education, gifted education, gymnastics, autism/disability advocacy, etc.  Of course I still deal with a “regular” stuff like puberty and teenage (my daughter is a tween) issues, too.

Being a mom is a huge deal and occupies a huge proportion of myself.  But I’m other things, too.  For my wage earning, I am a molecular biologist.  My hobby is mostly crafts like sewing and knitting, but I’m also a novice learner of blogging and programming (oh, sooooo novice).  Then I have a bunch of diseases — lupus, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis for a starter.

So I can post on any of it.  If you are interested in what I post, read and comment, if you don’t, just ignore it.  But I know this first blog is like barbar’s scream in the well “king’s ear is donkey’s ear”…..


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