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Nov 24, 2014

On With the Sew

Readers, thank you so much for your many words of support regarding my mother's injury.

She asked me to send along her thanks as well.  My mom's doing somewhat better: eating (not enough but some), pushing through her exercises with her physical therapists, and even -- this is a big one -- accepting phone calls and visits from a few friends.  I see her most days and I'm actually enjoying the trips, believe it or not.  Being able to bicycle to the hospital (well, near it) helps too.

But life is not all fractured femurs, thank goodness.

Today I managed to squeeze in a visit to the fabric store in preparation for my next big(gish) project, which I believe will be a men's raglan-sleeved overcoat -- a style known formally as a balmacaan.  I'll probably use a pattern from Ryuichiro Shimazaki's men's coat pattern book, the one I used last year to make my peacoat(s).  Hopefully I can complete a muslin this week.

I set out for the store thinking solid navy or gray for this coat but stumbled upon this dusty rose melton -- I'm calling it "light liver" for now -- which I love. This was was of those popular institutional colors in the 1950's -- think church basement linoleum and school lunchroom trays.  (I grabbed matching thread at Sil Thread.)

Longtime readers may be reminded of Cathy's 1940's topper, which I made from a vintage blanket three years ago.  Cathy and I have very similar coloring so I'm hoping what works for her will work for me too.

In other news, I received another color-related book (actually, this is more of a color guide) which a number of you had recommended, Joen Wolfrom's Ultimate 3-in-1 Color Tool.  What I like about it is that it's compact and portable (it even comes in its own plastic case) so you can easily tote it to the fabric store (the cards are all attached at the bottom right corner).

The back of each color card lists the colors that match best.

I have lots of other topics I hope to address this week.  These include:

1) Why is it so hard to find a good quality men's cotton turtleneck shirt these days? (They were ubiquitous when I was in high school in the 70's.)

2) Are perfect-sighted people who choose to wear glasses just for the look of it hopelessly vain?

3) How many Singer Featherweights does a person really need?

Don't respond to these now -- save your thoughts for later.

Have a great day, everybody and, once again, thank you for your support.  I'm off to the hospital!


  1. Thanks for sharing the positive news of your mom.....having gone through a similar time with my mother after a bad fall (she has recovered and is home in her ridiculous 3 story house and probably even now preparing to climb a step ladder to clean out the gutters, but that is another story......) I can empathize with what all of you are going through. May your mother have a similar recovery, minus the step ladder.


  2. Glad to hear your mom is on the mend. Many of us have elder parent or other relatives and can relate. It sounds like she's in a better headspace now, too.

    Regarding your coat, how long are you going to make it? I personally favour mid-calf length for an overcoat.

    Mark in Australia

  3. It's good to hear that Mom is receiving guests and calls, that's a huge step forward.

    Love the coat fabric, it's very rich looking.

    1. Maybe LL Bean for the turtleneck? Or J. Crew?
    2. Not vain, but glasses are so uncomfortable that I applaud anyone who would wear them voluntarily.
    3. One working model, one backup and one to loan. Or as many as you want, it's a free country.

  4. Glad your Mom is improving. Just make sure you don't have an accident on that bike and end up in the hospital along side her. Isn't it a bit too cold for biking? What coat do you wear for that?

  5. Glad Mom is doing better.
    My 2 suggestions for Turtleneck are LL Bean and Land's End.
    I'm fine with one featherweight but I'm sure that doesn't work for all.

  6. Glad that your Mom is doing better. I love Balmacans and this will be wonderful. That's a great coat book. I love everything you've shown.

  7. Nice to see that you are able to get back to some sewing. Dusty rose would not be my color choice, but to each his own. I would have liked to see you choose in between a feminine color and a masculine color. Royal Blue, Kelly Green, Winter White. Just something strong color wise.

    I hope things workout for your mom, and she is able to continue business as usual. Best of luck.

    1. Your questions:
      1. Turtlenecks - Lands End. They have good quality for basic clothing, I only wear mock turtlenecks anymore.
      2. Glasses, people who don't wear glasses but wear them for style to convey something, should have their EGO checked.
      3. Singer FeatherWeights, it's a free country, as many as you want, maybe someone could tell me what the "big draw is to FWs' and why they cost so much more. I don't get it.

      I have the same japanese coat book and should try making the same coat.

    2. Regarding #2 glasses-some K-pop stars wear oversize black eyeglasses in some videos or on game shows. Not sure what to make of it considering the pressure to look good everytime singer/actor/performer is in "public" space...

  8. Pleased to learn your mum has shown some improvement.

    I'm a sucker for a raglan sleeve so very much looking forward to seeing this project unfold.


  9. So glad to hear your mom is doing better. It's also important to know you're not alone. I swear it's the rite of passage they don't want us to know about! Can't wait to see your next coat. Colorful outerwear rocks!

  10. Wonderful that your Mom is participating in her recovery. That's always good. Recently a friend tols me he had this black box in his garage for years and finally opened it and saw a sewing machine in there. I said I think you might have a real treasure there. When he brought it to me to look at, sure enough it was a FW.
    It's in good condition.. He let me have it. I did show him on CL and Ebay what people were getting for them, because honesty is the best policy. I took it to my fixer upper and should have it back next week. I am stoked.

  11. How wonderful to hear that your mother is feeling better! I'll have you and your mother in my thoughts. I also look forward to seeing the development of your raglan overcoat take shape. Take care!

  12. I'm so thrilled to hear that your mother is on the mend! I'm glad that she's eating and working with the physical therapist. She will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  13. Glad to hear your mom's feeling better and doing her exercises - very important!
    I like the colour you have chosen and think the raglan-sleeved coat will be very flattering. My favourite dress when I was 11 was made of a similar dusky-pink with muted-soft green flower patterned woollen mousseline; it had a boat neck with loose scalloped collar and a circular skirt and made me feel like a princess! Alas, I grew and the dress shrank and that was the end of it. But the colour has always appealed to me.

  14. I'm glad that your mom is feeling better. May her complete recovery be speedy and easy.

    I do love a classic man's balmacaan. So easy and classy. I'm looking forward to seeing it in such a beautiful and unexpected color.

    I must pay a visit to Kinokuniya when I'm in NY next month. Japanese pattern books sound fun.

  15. Good news on your Mom.

    I also recommend Lands' End for the turtlenecks. I have some that are 10 years old and are just now showing wear at the collar and cuff edges. And that's with almost weekly wearing and laundering in winter.

  16. Are you conducting a social experiment by asking three questions, but telling readers not to answer them?

  17. Glad Mom is better, now that she is working on it recovery will go faster. That coat fabric puts color in your face.

  18. Very best wishes to you mom, Peter!
    Another vote for Lands End t-necks; their Supima is sumptuous (including a pure white if you're willing to dye for that unobtainium tint, onlt drab colors currently available); better colors in their perfectly OK regular cotton, and I believe 30% off today (reason for answering now). Duluth Trading's is very beefy and extra long, built like a tank and almost more like outerwear; drab colors tho, and no white.

  19. Good news on the Mum front. I didn't know those coats had a name they are my absolutely favourite shape.

  20. I had never heard that name for a raglan-sleeved coat! I can't resist pointing you towards Lands End for good cotton turltenecks...

    1. Hi there ive only just come across this interesting blog just courosity have ever incorporated embellishment into your creations I'll be interested to know! ✈️


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