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Category Archives: Work Clothes

Work Shirt Sewing Ahead

I had a shock this morning as Mr Stitchery was leaving for work. Shredded fabric was hanging from his worn sleeves and button placket. We did a quick snip with the scissors and off he went to his heavy boards of raw oak and maple wood and big, loud machines and piles of sawdust.

I went to his closet to explore the state of the rest of his short sleeved work shirts and this is what I found. The worst of the lot had just walked out the door.

Made Jan 2008, 5.75 yrs ago, washed and worn avg 40 times a year

Between the rough work and the paint booth these shirts are falling apart and almost destroyed

threadbarewear and fading

We have fond memories of how they looked in the beginning


This shot was taken after 8 months of wash and wear weekly. He loves his custom made shirts.


I have looked for a denim to match this first 20 yards but can’t find anything comparable. I think I bought it through the Fabrics and Notions coop and know nothing technical about the weight or source.

In 2011 I did a quick test shirt of a candidate fabric and it turned out to be a total fabric fail

It looked good enough in the first few wearings

New Shirt 2011

but wear showed after the first wash on the all parts where the fabric was folded. This shirt is now only 2 years old and it doesn’t look much better than the shirts that are almost 6 years old.

Newer shirt, wear showed after the first wash

It is worn very little, only for those days when he might have to look presentable outside of the factory.

2011 shirt

but see how it’s already to shred and needs to be replaced soon too.

I will simply have to use what is in the stash and plan on making new shirts more often. Maybe I’ll eventually luck out and find a good quality, medium weight 100% cotton denim. Anyone have any suggestions???

I can hardly believe this is the first button I will have had to replace. After all these years. They were originally sewn on by machine, using a 1967 all metal White that I inherited from his Mother. Here it is in production in 2003.

commercial sewing with 1967 White machine

I used it in commercial sewing for years before I had to sell The Stitchery 2 years ago. I miss that machine. The foot lifted high enough that I could make thread shanks even as I machine sewed on the buttons. It sewed through Naugahyde and upholstery ultrasuede accurately and with ease. The feed was amazing.

But things change all the time and even though Mr Stitch says it will be time for long sleeves soon, I doubt these shirts will last until December when the temperatures get seriously cold.

Move over Fall Fashion plans, it is time to cut at new short sleeved shirts.


No Snow, Light Rain, So No Sewing

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We have to do some Mud Play outside instead.

I wish I had known more about roses when I planned and planted the front landscape two years ago. Here, they looked so small compared to the plants we’d removed: Front Porch and here: Bedragged…

We heavily pruned back the Cinco de Mayo floribunda shrub roses and the Coral Drift roses. I have absolutely no idea how to properly prune but we got out the book and tried our best. It’s not pretty YET but here’s what we did:

Shrub roses, Cinco de Mayo, get very large and we found lots of weeds to pull after we pruned
Shrub Roses

They have vicious thorns but my rose pruning gloves performed perfectly

Cinco de Mayo has vicious thorns

We painted all the cut branches with wood glue to prevent intruson into the plant by The Baddies. We raked out the dead leaves and fertilized, watering it in.

This is a heavily pruned and cut back Coral Drift rose. It’s description led me to believe that they were much smaller and more disease resistant than they proved to be. They spred and overtook the front planting, and did NOT respect the dwarf boxwoods planted around them. I may have to move them in the future. (Arghhh) They are so thick it is impossible to weed around them.

Stubs painted with wood glue

and we dug up a dead azalea and a volunteer holly tree to make room in the shade for the Mountain Laurels (Kalmia latifolia “Keepsake”) that were being burned by the sun in the front yard. I hope they are happy here in the cool shade

Mountain Laurels
Mountain Laurels again

We moved the remaining shrub rose away from the front walk way so we wouldn’t have to prune it so heavily. It’s companion had developed rose rosette disease and had to be removed last year. That leaves the front planting unbalanced but right now I don’t have plans to plant more. Our butterfly bushes will have more room to spread now.

Moved Shrub Rose

We more lightly pruned the Wing Ding roses. They are a miniature polyantha, very sweet but have no fragrance

Wing Ding

The only blooming, pretty things now are the pansies


and the dogwood


There is so much more to do but I have to get some commercial sewing done today so I hope the weather allows me to weed and start to mulch tomorrow.

But my hands are nice and smooth thanks to Bag Balm and those really great gauntlet rose pruning gloves. I found the Onion pattern 1045 Anarok worked very well in the light rain, too. I hung it to dry before putting it away in the closet. Wool is a wonderful fabric 🙂

Let the Gardening Begin!

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Bag Balm

In case you haven’t heard: Bag Balm is the gardener’s friend. It saves hands from the roughing up they get when working the soil. Must have smooth hands for sewing and knitting you know!

I just received this pattern in the mail yesterday and had planned to sew it up this week in a wind blocking technical fabric but temperatures are going to be in the 70’s and 80’s for most of the week.

Coverall Pattern

I’ll have to cut another pair of overalls instead. My new brown ones don’t show dirt very much but they will need washing soon. Here’s how they look after a day in the dirt: not too bad. You just can’t beat good quality fabric, that’s my thoughts on the matter 🙂

Work Clothes

The overalls got a good workout yesterday. It was a wonderful day. First, Husband worked just a few hours in the early morning and when he came in we took the dog with us to the Rose Society’s Education Day at a local nursery.

The meeting was incredibly informative and just as I suspected: our area is overrun with dying roses that carry the incurable Rose Rosetta virus. Here’s some more pictures at Fine Gardening

Here’s a wild rose in our neighborhood field that has the disease but is still growing and spreading the mites that carry the virus. The diseased branch is red, while a healthy branch on the same bush is in the background

Rose Rosette Disease on a wild rose

RRD Closeup

RRD Closeup

The virus was introduced originally to kill off the wild roses that can take over whole fields. That was done about 27 years ago and now it’s killing off domesticated roses in wide swathes across the country.

It is potentially devastating for the rose industry but only just now are there studies being done to see what cures might be developed. Turns out that our little local Rose Society is full of incredibly knowledgeable folks and the Society provided the seed money for the first year of such a study, YAY for them! Dr Mark Windham is conducting the investigation. I do hope a prevention or cure can be found.

I have had to remove one whole plant last year when this virus continually sent up shoots from it’s root stock that were afflicted with the disease. The plant itself looked OK but one tiny mite, blown on the winds, can carry the disease to all the other roses. Another of the same species is exhibiting this disease in just one area and I’ll keep pruning those branches and hope that it doesn’t spread to the other roses. Yesterday I learned that if I get all the roots out of the hole from where the infected rose was removed I can plant another rose in that space. That was not the thinking last year. And I learned that I could just continuously prune off the branches that show this disease and perhaps the plant will survive.

Roses are a lot of work and even the disease resistant “Knock-Out Roses” are not as resistant as they have been touted to be. And I had just redone the front landscaping in 2011 with 13 roses. Ahhhhh, what have I done?

I had hoped to prune down hard all the roses with Husband’s help but the advice from the Rose Society’s expert is to wait until the new growth is 3 to 4″ long. Mine is only just over an inch right now. So we’ll wait a week or so to prune. Pruning is not my forte but I do try to do things properly so I’ll study up on it. It’s an annual ritual: re-reading rose pruning techniques.

So now: on to the vegetable garden.

Why do I grow the garden? Simple economics: the more food I grow and put up, the less money is needed to run the house, and the more money is available to pay employee salaries over the winter time, our slow season. I’ll bet I only went to the grocery store 4 times this past winter. And so I work, hard.

In the afternoon we planted peas, spinach, and lettuce.

Pea Fence

The peas will grow up a 4 foot wire fence and shade the spinach and lettuce behind it. They will only get direct sun in the mornings.

This row held tomatoes last year and being the closest to the creek and the wettest part of the garden grounds, proved to be a hotbed of the anthracnose fungi, Colletotrichum coccodes. WARNING: The following photos are not for the faint of heart: My homegrown Anthracnose Colletotrichum coccodes I did a really good job of letting it thrive! Duh.

Boy, that decimated the ‘maters! I had overplanted so I still got a harvest that kept me quite busy. I pulled the most infected plants and doused the ground with vinegar and water but it didn’t really seem to do much. I still had wet spots even though I didn’t allow any more filaments to form. Perhaps the wet spots were a different form of tomato malady. There are so many wilts and fungus that beset tomatoes!

This year I will plant, water only on the ground, lay down a ground cover, prune all but the growing tip and stake the tomatoes. Labor intensive but with this kind of a fungi in the ground I need to provide prophylactic measures.

I will also cover the ground where the peas, lettuce and spinach are going to grow to keep this fungi off their leaves. I’m not so sure I’ll be able to do as much canning and freezing as I did last year.

We also pulled all the collards and I cooked up a big pot this morning, some of which will go into the freezer.

Collard Greens and Country Ham

using this recipe from Men’s Health. It was different than the way I usually do them but quite good. I used a packet of country ham, I just couldn’t go without the ham flavoring.

when I went out to the garden to get the shot of the now dirty overalls I found this:

Who Ate the Cabbage Last Night?

Who ate one of the cabbages last night? Some animal with very sharp, tiny teeth and a big wide bite. I’ll just bet that opossum who checks in on us got hungry for a sweet cabbage dinner! I can’t blame the poor critter. And raccoons eat cabbage, too. So now, I’ve got to figure out how to protect the cabbages from hungry omnivores. One article suggests planting a critter garden. Oh no! That’s more than I can even think about. Don’t know exactly what I’ll do about this. Any suggestions?

With all this garden work I’m facing I would like to applaud this little pot that needed nothing from me all winter: The Italian flat leafed and the triple curly parsley managed to thrive all on their own

Wintered over parsley

When the dog and I went out to the field to get the wild rose shots we crossed over to Cane Creek and Gaely investigated an animal trail down by the water

Investigating An Animal Path to the Water

and did her usual trick of getting a drink of water while wading

Getting a Drink

The field was full of field pansies AKA Johnny Jump-Ups. From the leaves I’d say they are Viola Bi-Color

Field Pansies AKA Johnny Jump-Ups

I do miss living up on the mountain where wild diversity was so much richer than here in this settled, cultivated valley. But I take pleasure in the wilds where ever I can.

Overalls for Her Jalie 972 and Jeans Rivet Setting Tute Improvement

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Front Side

This pattern has cutting lines for 32 different sizes for each pattern piece. That’s a lot of lines! This time I laid a sheet of tracing paper on top of the fabric, laid the pattern piece on top of the tracing paper and used a solid tracing wheel to mark the lines directly onto the wrong side of the fabric. My measurements fell between the largest “regular” size and the plus sized. I cut the regular size and can wear regular pants, leggings, and a sweater under them anyway.


There are some problems with this pattern or maybe with the pattern cuter but the cut fabric matched up with each pattern piece. So here’s what to watch out for:

Straps are not the correct angle to lie flat in the back when worn. Even the instruction drawing shows them crossing over each other. I didn’t discover the problem until I had done all the double top stitching and was not going to pick all those stitches to make the correction.


I took a tuck and then put a rivet in each corner. I also had to narrow the straps (yes I did unpick two rows of top stitching for that) and cut off 8 inches of length.

Reset and reinforced back

Pocket piece is not wide enough to allow proper installation of button band. This is a crucial 5/8″ of fabric but I managed to squeeze through the construction by triple step stitching the edges and turning just once.

Add at least 5/8″ to the outer edge of the pocket and pocket facing. It will save a bunch of time in construction.

Pocket Problem

Missing Seam Allowance

Triple Stitch and Top Stitch

The next time saver is a big one and so simple and logical I can’t believe I didn’t find this in any of the two How-To-Use Jean Rivets tutorials published by Fehrtrade or TaylorTailor Oddly enough both of these tutorials were published on the same day May 15, 2011. I found that interesting. Wonder what was going on there?

But here’s the deal:

Rivets nails should be trimmed down after inserting into hole

if the thickness of the fabric doesn’t require the full length of the nail. Sooooo simple. It allows you to see how much you need to trim and since the nail hasn’t been crimped and it sharp point removed it slips right through the pre-made hole.


See that ragged edge?


It catches on on the fabric threads and takes forever to get pushed through



Even with the pointed head left in tack threads can be split and cause a few troubles

Point Slips Fabric

but the point takes much less time to insert. I got my rivets years ago from the nice man at Castbullet. I see that TaylorTailor also sells them and in more colors

As I was working with this fabric I’ve had for years and had always planned to use for overalls, I was wondering why I’d put this gorgeous twill aside for work pants. The answer came as I was applying the rivets to the side tool pocket

Tool Pocket

and found this


It is clearly abraded and marked and must have been there when I received the fabric. I zigzagged over the edges and applied a patch.


Another odd thing about this pattern is that there are no reinforcement suggested for the location of the buttons or buttonholes. I put them in without adding anything since I wasn’t going to do the ripping needed to add in a backing material.

The pattern has you “tack” over all the stress points but I only used them on the faux fly area

Bar tacks on faux fly

and used the rivets where there would be real stress.

Reinforced Tool Pocket

I am glad this pair is done. I compared the pattern pieces with the other two patterns I have in the stash and they are similar in shape. I hope the instructions are better. We’ll see.

Overall patterns

Gratuitous Dog Bomb


Finished Anorak -Onion 1045-

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You may note that the hem does not contain elastic as I planned to do per the pattern suggestions. It is serged, turned and top stitched. I figured I’m round enough from the back view without elastic to emphasize it 🙂

Finished Back

I have finally figured out Flikr and I changed my WordPress password a number of weeks ago and apparently just now Flikr has figured that out. It wanted my attention!

As an admin and member of The Sewing Divas on I’ve seen thousands of spam attacks attached to the photos uploaded into the media library. I am now deleting all my Stitchery photos from that library, I don’t want that happening here in my little blog! Sorry for all the computer whining, I have spent too many years fixing computer stuff on the job to put up with it on something I do for fun!

Anorak Onion 1045 Pattern

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The anorak is shaping up.  It’s not finished yet but this is the first try on.

View A, but with plans for elastic at hem as well as wrist

How to line the hood has taken days to ponder since I am not buying new fabrics and only shop the stash.  And I had to think about the faux fur trim issue.

Onion 1045 Model

I wanted something very silky to protect my wildly curly hair from being dragged by the hood fabric but could only find solid colored charmeuse in the stash.  Then I checked the linings held in a black plastic bag and found this well aged  silk, just waiting

Placement of patterns

I had 3 different types of faux fur to use to edge the hood.   It’s pretty on the Onion version though, and is the proper thing to do on an anorak.    But decided I didn’t want to be bothered with feathery fur at the edges of my vision while I am working.

Silk Hood

Then placing the pattern became the next thing to ponder


I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.  It’s pretty but not too fashionista for the garden environment

Collar affect with the zipper opened

I used this pattern because  it has a large pocket covered by a flap that will keep necessaries from falling out when you bend over.   This was the deciding factor, folks, I’ve been thinking about pocket security for a couple of years now.  I just hope the pocket is not so deep that reaching things becomes a problem

Front Pocket for cell phone, seed packets, etc

Cell phone, seed packets, notepad, pencil, tape measure and ruler, should all be safe from falling out.

Pocket contents held in place by flap

I have yet to set in the sleeves (decreasing the upper chest width in the process) and inserting elastic to sleeve and bottom hems.  I don’t want pull cords danging, these are work clothes and should not attract my attention away from what I’m doing.  I have enough problems being distracted by the birds flitting around without my clothes adding complications

Side before hemming sleeves and bottom>

I hope I finish this up today, that my time will not be spent trying to figure out computer problems!

Our Backsides LOL

Onion 1045 line drawing

Onion 1045

Outdoor Fabrics from an Outdated Stash

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It happened in a matter of a few years: my fabulous outdoor wear stash is hopelessly outdated.

As some of you have deduced I have an extensive stash of technical fabrics from PolarTec LLC, which was still called Malden Mills when I purchased them prior to the 2007 buyout and are now not the latest and greatest in outdoor fabrics technology.

In order to find out which fabrics would be most useful for early Spring gardening chores in keeping out wind/rain and for kneeling or sitting in soggy soil I have done some research on the newest PolarTec fabrics and would love to have the new NeoShell fabric in the stash.

Here’s a rundown on NeoShell used in the new stretch Neo jackets offered by retailer Rab. Terry Abraham, backpacker extraordinaire, has an extensive blog review of his NeoShell jacket performed. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Apparently, the industry standard is “eVent”. A pair of eVent rain pants from REI sells for $189 But I understand that the eVent fabric makes crinkly-crumply sounds when it’s worn. So, being a loyal MM/PolarTec customer I lust after the stretchy and quiet NeoShell. Discovery Trekking Outfitters in Canada sells it and many other wonderful PolarTec fabrics.

Here in online US I found minimal sources for anything beyond fleeces: has PolarTec fabrics as does And of course you might try the PolarTec fabric outlet Mill Direct Textiles but I didn’t see anything remotely new and revolutionary in their online stock but they might know who is retailing their more technical fabrics. Maybe.

But here’s what I have, all are outdated prototypes of these fabrics: WindPro, Windbloc, PowerStretch, PowerDry and numerous fleece varieties. My fabrics are older versions and I could find no photos that reflected what I actually find in the stash. Nothing I have is truly water proof so I can count on soggy knees and derriere. I did find a length of an early GoreTex that can serve as a ground cover I move around with me as I work.


I also have another 1980’s type of workout suit fabric that was supposed to be “water resistant”. Hmmm, it not at all resistant, it started absorbing water immediately

Water Resistant?  No, not so much!

Glad I tested it before I used it on soggy ground 🙂 Out it goes! It’s so outdated I will feel no remorse in tossing it, rather than making a trip to the Good Will donation bin.

And, of course, there’s always the old plastic sheet or a garbage bag for a ground cloth. I’d prefer to use something that can be thrown into the washing machine with the rest of the muddy clothes like the GoreTex.

I haven’t decided which I’d like best: a bib and a number of polar fleece tops or a whole covering like a true overall.

Rosie’s Workwear has some cute ideas, including the use of velcro for quick shedding of muddy clothes. I love the facings on the cuffs and collar, don’t you? Rosie’s coveralls are not waterproof or even water resistant but they are designed to be worn over a whole set of clothes, hence they are “overalls”. For $80 I could buy a pair of water resistant, UV blocking pants from Patagonia But I’d be out an amount of money and still have these other fabrics in the stash. I think I’d better choose stash over the new stuff or my stash will soon rate with the dinosaurs in fabric development history.

I have 3 yards of an awesomely thick wool with poly/cotton as the weft yarn that is far more water resistant than Windbloc Power Dry described below. The tightly woven wool is super at resisting water!

cotton wool mix

but after an hour or more the droplets suddenly vanished and all that was left was a wet spot

Wet Spot

I hesitate to use it though, since once wool becomes too dirty is grows less water resistant. I may cut pair of bibs from it just the same and be careful with getting it too dirty. I did throw a 6″ x 6″ swatch of it into the washer with other fabrics and washed it in cold water: it shrank .5″ in length, none in width and came out so soft and yummy.

I tested the Windbloc PowerDry and it absorbed the water droplets within approximately 15 minutes but the moisture could barely be felt on the inner side of the fabric. It will absorb sweat away from the body and is super soft and stretchy and dries by hanging in 2 hours or so. It will be excellent at blocking the cold winds. Here it is. The lighter, fuzzy side is the side to be next to the skin so it will be super comfortable and might make up into a wonderful set of bibs.

Windblock PowerDry

Well, I’ve done my research and I have made no hard decisions yet since it seems I must make compromises when using any of the stash fabrics. So now I need to come up with the pattern and pick the first fabric to cut.

More soon!