Sou’wester Hat

I got a sudden impulse to own a rain hat. Like the sort that Scandinavian fishermen wear:

A bit of search engine work told me that this is called a “Sou’wester Hat”, and that they are available for sale, but that people complain about quality and that the hats are mainly made of vinyl. Naturally, I had to sew one instead.

Good luck finding a pattern for that sort of silliness! So I drafted my own. I took a free pattern by Lorenna Buck for a sun hat as an inspiration for drafting the crown portion of the hat–and by that, I mean I looked at the shape of the pattern pieces in the PDF. I didn’t trace them because they weren’t my size. I also looked at the assembly instructions, because this was my first foray into millinery. After that, I just measured my head, added a couple of inches wearing ease, and drafted two pattern pieces on pattern paper. My sewing curves and basic trig did most of the work.

My muslin version is fully finished, but not exactly wearable. The big hurdle was figuring out how to make the brim functional. I figured, erroneously, that just adding some strong interfacing would do the trick. I interfaced one of the brim pieces with iron-on woven interfacing, and I stitched in horsehair canvas to the other. It came out floppy and heavy. No good for what I needed. And the brim was slightly the wrong shape–too narrow in the front. The crown was also too small and pointy.

For my final version, I used some leftover waxed canvas in a bright yellow. Why bright yellow, you ask? Because I want to look like a rubber duck, that’s why.

I do love working with waxed canvas. It’s so easy to cut, it doesn’t fray, and you can mark it up with a tracing wheel–the marks rub off after a while:

I decided to try some galvanized wire in the brim instead of interfacing. I asked Mr. Cantankerus if he had any spare wire in his shop, and he had many many options to choose from. The one I used is Galvanized Steel Wire in 18 gauge, or 1.2mm for you sane metric people. They sell this at hardware stores. The “galvanized” part is important because you don’t want the wire to rust. There is special millinery wire on Etsy and such, but I figured I’d try the cheapatarian solution before doing anything drastic, since I do not see myself making lots of hats in the future.

As is my custom, I forgot to sew the chin strap string at the right point in the assembly process, so I added the strap as an afterthought. For the hat to be relatively waterproof, you don’t want to do too many stitching lines, so I only topstitched the upper half of the crown piece, and I didn’t topstitch around the edge of the brim/crown join (there’s probably a millinery term for that part of the hat). The waxed canvas fabric is very sticky, so the two halves of the hat stay together very well on their own.

I wouldn’t want to deprive the world of these facial expressions:

Or these dim indoor photos:

After a while, waxed canvas loses its waxy coating and becomes more water-permeable. It looks better as it wears, but functionally, it degrades. The solution is supposed to be Otter Wax, so I got a tin of it. It’s pretty expensive for the amount you get, and it is reportedly difficult to use. I plan to try it out on my Landgate Parka, which has become quite leaky.

Tags and categories

When I migrated from Blogger, a couple of very annoying things happened. First, I lost all the tags on my posts. The list of tags migrated along with the blog, but they were no longer associated with the posts. Second, about 230 “post drafts” appeared in the list of WordPress drafts. I noted right away that this was some sort of a migration error, but I only now took a look at these “drafts”. Turns out, there are some actual post drafts–the ones I am currently working on–mixed in with every damn image that I ever posted on the Blogger site. The only way to delete these “drafts” is one-by-one. I am by nature a sorter and organizer, so this bugs me to no end.

This morning I went through all the older posts and manually tagged and categorized them. It should now be possible to navigate through them without endless scrolling. The tagging isn’t perfect, but it’s functional.

I’ve been running into some odd and destructive bugs on WordPress. One is that when there is a database error (which is due to their database handling, mind you), it hoses unrelated post contents. For example, if you accidentally upload an image with the same name twice, the entire post associated with that image disappears. Another is that switching to a different theme once seemed to destroy the entire blog, just about. Everything looked fine in live preview, and then I applied the theme, and bam, no more blog. There are minor ones, due to poorly set defaults–like the inability to delete the “Uncategorized” category, which got slapped onto every single post when I migrated. This makes me want to slap the beards off all these Gen Z baby-coders working or WordPress. Stop improving things, guys. Or if you’re going to improve them, test and make sure that your stuff works.

Burda 2010-09-130 trousers

This was a long-suffering project, interrupted by a short-notice visitor just as I’d managed to finally cut the thing out and psyched myself up to sew everything together.

I sew pants a lot, and I wear them a lot, but many of them fail on wearability. Wearability is defined by the needs imposed by daily dog walks: the pants must go with a variety of comfortable shoes, have pockets, be loose enough to be comfortable but not loose around the ankle (and not too long, either). I once managed to entangle myself in my own pants, while walking with my old dog and carrying a cup of coffee. I fell flat on my face and the coffee went everywhere. My old dog was not of the easily rattled kind, so she just laughed at me, but it was pretty painful and startling! I have since learned my lesson. Palazzo trousers can look great and be very flattering, but for comfortable and safe walking, ankle length and not too loose is what you want. Too long also entails “gets dirty easily”, so that’s out.

After looking through my digital pattern stash, the choice landed on an old pattern, 2010-09-130. Here is a tech drawing. The garment and model pics on Burda’s site are very low-res and it is hard to see the details.

Burda’s description says that the pants are designed to be worn with a belt and fit loose around the waist. I liked this, too, because I tend to hike my pants up or let them hang lower down as the mood strikes me. But boy they’re not kidding about the loose fit around the waist. If I don’t put on a belt, these almost fall off me, so they must be about 39″ around the waist–just short of my hip circumference (I haven’t measured the garment dimensions). For reference, I made a size 44, where the waist is supposed to be 32″.

I chose the wrong fabric for the pattern (a bottom-weight linen in Lagoon, of which I had 2.5 yards). It’s supposed to be a loose draping fabric; if I made these pants again, I’ll use a Tencel twill. My linen is rather thick, but I am hoping it will soften and break in after a few washes.

Sewing it up

And so off I went, not fully realizing that it was going to be a head-scratcher all the way through. This is a Burda pattern from a different era, when patterns included lots of interesting details–but as always, good luck with those instructions, sucker!

The first step is these interesting pockets. There are two pocket bag pieces, one of which has a stay that attaches to the front center seam. A nice detail. I wish *both* pocket bag pieces had a stay. If I ever make these again, I’m cutting the piece with a stay twice. There’s no reason for the pocket pieces to mismatch, other than perhaps to reduce the bulk of fabric, but if you’re using lining fabric, that wouldn’t even be an issue.

Anyway, you stitch one of the pocket pieces to the front pantleg piece, then you cut both open, and you bind the edge together using bias tape:

But then the weirdness begins. Burda instructs you to do a bar tack across the bottom edge of the pocket, about 2.5 cm away from the bottom end of the opening. But you’re not attaching it to anything–it’s just two threads holding the opening together. I am pretty sure I didn’t misread the instructions; they mean for the bottom end of the pocket opening to be held by a bar tack that’s just floating free. I ended up doing an invisible hand seam to close the openings up to the bar tack, as you’ll see in the pics below.

There are a few missing steps in the instructions. After you assemble the pocket, you hand-baste the opening shut temporarily, before you fold the pleat over the top part. Again, there is a bar tack to hold everything in place, but Burda does not instruct you to stitch the top of the pleat down. I did that, because otherwise everything just hangs open once you sit down.

I didn’t follow Burda’s instructions for assembling the back pockets, but they have an error: the pocket bag piece dimensions are given as exactly the same, while anyone who’s ever sewn a welt pocket knows that the piece that attaches to the top welt needs to be a bit longer than the piece that attaches to the bottom welt. I didn’t use my head and cut the pieces as instructed, so I ended up having to even out the two pocket bag pieces when I stitched them together.

The real head-scratcher, though, was the part where you assemble the button fly and attach the waist facings. The instructions are downright incomprehensible. After reading and re-reading and trying to diagram the steps out, I just threw the instructions across the room (metaphorically speaking) and just did what made sense. I’ve re-read the instructions after successfully assembling everything, and sometimes they make more sense afterward. These don’t. I can’t make out what they wanted to convey, but I managed to get a clean finish on the inside by just working out how things needed to line up on my own.

Here are a few (not great) pics on me. The fit is loose, as I wanted, and the pockets are functional. You can’t really wear them without a belt, so I might put in an elastic in the back part of the waist to allow for beltless functionality. I don’t feel like adjusting the fit by ripping these open and adding darts or whatever.

This next pic features my dad’s old belt that I “borrowed” from him some years ago. Most of my RTW pants couldn’t accommodate its width, but my handmade belt loops can handle it just fine! I am wearing the belt very loose in the pics here; the top of the waistline is supposed to be above the natural waist in these pants, but you can see in the model pic that they are worn more like dropped crotch jodhpurs. Very 2010.

Oh, and I went with jean buttons. So much faster to install than sewing them on.

Burda 2013-10-119 top

I found myself in need of a loose-fitting linen top. The buildings where I live are perpetually overheated, and I tend to run hot as it is. After casting my mind around for ideas, I decided to repeat a favorite pattern. It’s a simple, square garment without shaping, and while it’s roomy, it is very economical yardage-wise.

Just look at this layout:

The fabric is a lightweight linen in cobalt from that I had in stash. You can just about make out in the picture how much fabric this used–under 1.5 yards. I improvised pockets, which are simple rectangles I sewed to the waist seams and top-stitched into place from the front. Not a brilliant example of sewing innovation, but I had two rectangles of fabric left that were perfectly pocket-sized, and it was easy enough to fit them in here.

The pattern calls for a zipper, but it’s completely unnecessary. The fit is loose and there is an opening in the front of the collar. Why does Burda want invisible zippers everywhere? No doubt it’s so they can insert that “Invisible Zipper Helpful Hint” into every PDF pattern they release. In the Russian version of the instructions, the zipper installation tip goes by something like “One must know this”, which is even weirder to see in pattern after pattern. (They don’t put those in every set of instructions in paper magazines, do they?)

Anyway, here it is. Front and back:

And a not-very-informative picture on me. All I have time for a the moment! The pants are going in the next post.

A Quickie Teddy Bear

The pattern is Teddy Bear Vera by Annita Wilschut. It took a bit longer to knit than expected, given its small size, but it’s a no-seaming pattern so there is a lot of shaping. The pattern definitely keeps you on your toes and does not go well with trying to read for work. I was working to a deadline while also trying to dig myself out of a mountain of work, which made this less enjoyable than it could have been.

The yarn is Peace Fleece Worsted Weight in Negotiation Gray, and I bought cluster poly fill stuffing that’s specially designed for stuffed animals. For some reason I can’t seem to track down where I bought this from–it was a while ago. I still have a large bag of it left.

This bear was made as a present for an adult, as an inside joke. I have made this pattern before, also as a present, and for some reason knitted stuffed toys are always such a hit! I think it might also be unexpected, given my grumpy personality, that I’d make anything as cute and frivolous as this, so I do it periodically just to keep people on their toes.

Knitting round-up

My work schedule has been far more conducive to knitting than to sewing, so I’ve been fairly productive there, just not good about photographing the output.


Here is a pair of tweed socks. Nothing special, but one can never have too many hand-knitted wool socks. I recently had to toss a couple of pairs out, so there is even room in the drawer for these. The yarn is Schachenmayr Regia Tweed Anthrazit.


And here are some mittens. These are made out of mill end yarn I picked up at the Harrisville Designs mill store. I think this is Brooklyn Tweed Quarry in Hematite, but there is no way of being sure. I have tried three different projects on this yarn, and they all felt wrong. This is number 4.


And here is number 5, same yarn. A matching hat.

Dacite cardigan

And now, finally, an actual garment. This was made up from another mill ends yarn of unknown provenance (though probably BT Shelter), and Lettlopi Einband in white. I wrote about my swatching here. This is my second version of this sweater. I made the first in Harrisville Highland, in the Ebony colorway (I think that was the name of the color, anyway). I quite liked that sweater, still do, but I prefer to have the buttons go all the way down the front, not just at the neck.

The yarn held double resulted in the sweater being very, very warm. It’s kind of thick, too, even though I hit gauge. Not sure how this works. I guess the yarn combo is fluffier somehow.

Spring is here, so I need to switch to some lighter-weight projects.

Grasser 830

I have mixed feelings about this make. I was quite taken with Grasser’s own version, but I know that belted dresses do not work on me. Wrap dresses are also great for standing around in, but not for walking around in public when it’s windy. I am going to stop thinking of it as a belted wrap dress and start thinking about it as a summer duster. It will need a bit more work to function that way–probably some kind of visible closures, not just snaps–but I like enough things about it to try to rescue it.

On to the pattern. Here is the line art and one of the model photos.

I got fed up trying to make Grasser’s A4 patterns work with US Letter size paper, so I broke down and ordered a ream of A4. It worked like a charm.

Fabric and cutting

Their sample was made up in 255 g/sq.m denim. I had about 5 yards of Kaufman’s Fineline 4.5oz denim, and cutting this used up about 2.5 yards. Grasser’s patterns come with suggestions for very economical layouts, and they use small seam allowances, usually on the order of 1cm or less. Here’s me trying to game it out on the floor (and yeah, I’m not a perfectionist when it comes to cutting these kinds of patterns “right side up”… Anything without nap or a directional print is liable to get flipped).


The sewing itself was mindless. The instructions are great, the drafting is perfect. One of the few noteworthy things about this pattern is how thoughtful the drafting of the in-seam pockets is. You can just about see it on the middle pattern piece in the picture above: see how the outline of the pocket piece extends beyond the usual “hound ear” shape that, say, Burda provides? (There is a separate pocket piece, but its outline is also drawn on the skirt so you know where to line it up.) That uses only slightly more fabric, but it allows you to serge around the pocket smoothly.

There is also an instruction to reinforce the areas where the pockets are stitched to the skirt pieces, sort of like what you’re supposed to do to the seams when you install a zipper. It made the edges around that area nice and crisp.

And here it is:

I really don’t like how this looks belted. Here are a couple of pics to illustrate.

The last picture shows a close-up of the top-stitching. I used a gray Japanese topstitching thread that I got from TaylorTailor. I love that topstitching thread; not sure if his supply shop is still active but I stashed up on golden and gray a few years ago and still have some in reserve. G├╝termann is alright but I dislike that it comes in 30-yard spools. I need more thread than that!

As I said at the outset, I expect to have to tinker with this dress/duster thing before it’s truly wearable. I like that there is a waist seam (there’s shaping and a kind of hidden dart in there) but I dislike how the belt rides up above it. The bodice might be a tad too long for me, but not in a way that bothers me when I am not wearing the belt. In fact, if the belt doesn’t end up in the trash altogether, I might end up attaching it to the side seams and tying it in the back, as some people do with a trench coat.

Sad clown edition: Burda 110-4-2020

Here is a pattern that I didn’t think I’d make… [German link] it was uniformly panned and ridiculed when the issue preview came out. I was on the fence. On the one hand, it was a silly, unflattering, weird piece of clothing. On the other hand, it looked very cozy. And here I am wearing it. A lot.Here are Burda’s line drawing and model photos:

I knew that if I made it at all, it would be black, and it would include somewhat more detail than the pajama option that Burda presented. The only non-pajama feature in this garment would be the welted pockets.


Definitely linen. As my only black linens at the time were 2 yards of heavyweight and 1.5 yards of medium weight linen from, I had no choice. The pattern calls for about 3.5 yards of fabric, and I would say that for once, that’s an accurate estimate. There is so much ease in the pattern that the pieces are enormous. I spent an hour twisting the pattern pieces this way and that to fit the big pieces into my 2 yards. The yoke pieces, the sleeves, the facings for the front closures, and the pocket pieces are all made out of the medium weight linen. I only had enough heavy weight for the front body pieces, back legs, and back bodice in pieces. In the end, I had to piece the back bodice out of three separate parts. I also used very narrow seam allowances, under 1cm.This being a tall pattern, I didn’t have to worry about it being too short for me, so apart from being short on fabric, the cutting was smooth sailing. It would be silly to talk about fitting modifications in a pattern that’s basically a potato sack with sleeves and legs.


I decided to use my snap press for the snaps, to add some patch pockets on the back, and to add a waistline casing for a drawstring with grommets. I knew I wouldn’t want to have a total clown suit silhouette, and the drawstring waist breaks up the vast, featureless wasteland of fabric that is this pattern. Everything else would be as written.

Sewing was also mostly uneventful. I topstitched in a few places (Burda does not instruct you to do this at any point), and I also toyed with the idea of having a zipper in the front instead of snaps. But I hadn’t thought it through properly, and after installing a zipper, I had to rip it out and go with the snaps after all.

Rehabbing my Singer

I’m very behind on posts, but also on sewing. The reason is twofold: first, work has been busy, and as a result I’ve been knitting plenty (mostly boring stuff) but not sewing much. Second, I had to spend a bit of time bringing my old Singer back to life.

All I wanted to do was reinstall an invisible zipper on a dress I had sewn a couple of years ago. I am currently going through my previous makes and clearing some things out, and fixing some other things. I’ll do a post on this at some point. This one dress, I quite like it but I did an atrocious job on the zipper–the waist seam is misaligned by a couple of millimeters. It’s noticeable enough that I don’t think I can wear it without this bugging me.

I have a Singer 201-2, the old beauty with the potted motor and the nice, tall harp. I bought it from a man and his son–their wife/mom passed away, and they had finally gotten around to selling off her sewing stuff. She had apparently owned the machine since it was made, which I believe was the 1940’s. I jumped on the opportunity to buy it, even though it was clear that I’d have to redo the wiring.

The machines are virtually indestructible, but their electrical wiring needs to be revamped every 50 years or so. So I taught myself how to do everything, got a soldering iron, wire strippers/crimpers, all that. It was a lot of fun, and it’s great knowing that I can do everything on this machine myself, without having to take it for servicing.

Then, after a period of inactivity, the damn thing refused to run. The light flickered but the motor was dead. I ended up tinkering with it for a week earlier this month and revived it.

Then the tension assembly had to be taken apart and put back together again.

And then I remembered that I’d given away my backup sewing machine–a modern one, the kind that can take snap-on interchangeable feet on a low-shank attachment–and I no longer have a shank for all those stupid attachments I bought in a set. Including my invisible zipper foot, which was never very good, but better than nothing. I put in an order for a proper invisible zipper foot that does not require an adapter/attachment to go on a machine, so I am now waiting for that.

So it’s a bit like that story about Henry the Duck cooking dinner for his friend. Knitting is still happening, will post separately. I’ll post this dress once I have the zipper fixed, too. Although the rate I’m going, I’ll probably end up with the whole sewing machine table collapsing on me before that happens.