Fall planting with an oversized cloche

Beefed up my garden this year with more containers, and with fall upon us, I really want to continue growing. Living in the desert, I am continually seeking ways to conserve water. I found a few huge grow bags at my local nursery, and popped them in the masonry pans you can find at hardware stores. Was hoping that this would work like a sub irrigated pot, allowing excess moisture to hang out at the bottom and get wicked back up when needed. I use earth boxes and love them for basil and marigolds, thyme and winter savory. To get a leg up on planting, I created PVC frames that fit just inside the lip of the earth box. Cover those with green house plastic, nylon netting, upcycled nylon sheer curtains, or garden fleece. They make a difference at the beginning of the season to help baby plants through the chill of early spring.

Location Location Location. I have been noticing spots in the yard where things might be a little happier growing. The spot below is where the compost bin had lived for years. With the sun hitting the south wall of the house, this was a seriously cozy spot. Sometimes too cozy, and certain plants struggled there. However, Okra, who likes it hot, did really well in a 3’x3′ box I planted along the wall next to the lavender this year. Used compost that had been collecting, and netted three volunteer spaghetti squash from it! In late summer, I decided this area would be great for winter growing. Moved some masonry pans (with holes drilled into the sides about two inches up from the bottom for drainage) into this spot with grow bags and home mixed soil. Peas and spinach are happily growing in this area. Well, happier after I added some shade since these are cooler weather loving plants. The folding plant supports are helpful in holding up the shade cloth for now, the peas will climb on them. I have used and loved them for years. They are versatile! Plans are to use either floating row cover or green house plastic over this area when the weather cools. I am also considering building a PVC frame for more protection in this area.

Peas and spinach in grow bags.

Asters and beans grow, up a chain link fence. I measured the masonry pan, which is about 20 x 27. Plan to put two of this bag/pan ensemble side by side in the PVC “cloche” in a sunny area of the garden to grow beets, turnips, and salad greens. The asters I planted the first time this year may have been happier in a shadier part of the garden. I will mark the bag so that we may see them come back in the spring. In the mean time, this bag can give us winter greens.

I used the dimensions of the masonry pan to cut my PVC pipe.

Here is the recipe for this version.

Six horizontal 27 inch pieces and eight horizontal 20 inch pieces and six vertical 24 inch pieces came from three ten foot lengths of 3/4 inch PVC pipe. There was an almost 12 inch piece left over which was cut in half and used to raise the center bar.

The 3/4 inch fitting pieces were found locally at Lowes. Two cross tees two 90 degree elbows and eight 90 degree side outlet elbows. I went on line for the two – four way furniture fitting side outlet tees.

This design with the raised center should deflect snow, and rain so that there is not a sagging issue. It feels sturdy and heavy enough to deflect wind. I just got notification that the garden fleece I ordered from Ace hardware is ready for pick up. I plan to use clamps to clip the fleece onto the PVC pipe. This may cover my pots of basil and lemon grass when we have a cold spell next week. I often use these to start beans and peas, and keep critters from eating the plants. Unfortunately they blow away in our wind and the staples they come with are not quite long enough for NM winds. Used in conjunction with a heavier cover, they are great for double cover.

Above are end of season second or third generation Marigolds in earth boxes with tarragon cascading over the side. They were started under a small PVC frame. The clear cloches fit nicely underneath the frame for a little extra warmth and protection. For more great information on extending your season, check out Eliot Coleman’s video here

Happy growing! Joan

Why the Wye Seam? Partial seams are the answer.

Recent pattern test with a boat neck and crossed bands.

I had pretty much hung up my pattern testing hat, when this really fun boat neck top pattern showed up. A 3/4 length sleeve boatneck was my mother’s signature garment, and I was curious about the technique employed in making this iconic style. The pattern from 5oo4 is called Edith, and has some pretty trendy sleeve treatments as well. Personally, I am quite happy in a tank, and pull on a cardigan when it gets cold, so I made a first version in tunic length in the heavy pink ribbing you see here. There were pattern changes and so my second version is short sleeved, in a deep stash Doodles interlock, that my SO says is quite floral for fall.

Notorious for not always following sewing instructions, I veered from the get go. Read the pattern instructions first, please. This is how I did it. I serged the raw edge of the shoulder seams individually. If your fabric is super stretchy, you could include a strip of seam tape or clear elastic in with that serging to give it more body. Then, using a straight stitch, or triple stitch, sewed from the outer edge of the shoulder seam up to the neck. I stopped 1/4 inch from the neckline. And back stitched. Or at least I tried to back stitch, but my machine had other ideas. I removed those last few stitches, and you can see the holes my needle made in this photo. So, on the other side, I chose to mark a spot 1/4 inch from the inside neck and start there with a secure stitch and sew to the shoulder edge of that seam. Important here to leave that last (generous) 1/4 inch open and have your stitches secure at each end point.

Next, I prepared my bands. Since this ribbing was really stable, I just folded the whole thing in half hot dog style and serged the raw edges together. Cut the front and back pieces from that, and zig zag basted the corners together. Since the band was cut at two inches wide, I just basted the one inch overlap. As the designer states in the instructions it is important to cross front over back on each side, and not to twist the bands. I will state that it is important to baste within that 1/4 inch seam allowance, so your basting stitches do not show later. Since my serger seam is actually closer to 3/8 inch wide, it technically is slightly deeper than pattern recommendations, but this is a knit garment and not a quilt, where exact seam allowances make all the difference.

Boatneck Band corners basted.

Speaking of quilts, that is where I learned about a “Y” seam or Wye seam. Worth a google. In the photo below, you can see where I pinned the seam allowances of the shoulder seam open. A little wash away wonder tape could hold those open, or even glue stick, but I had pins. I could have made a dot at the quarter inch (generous) point on my bands, and lined that up with the opening of my partially sewn shoulder seam. Instead, I lined that up with the finished edge of the folded back shoulder seam, right were the lowest pin in the photo below is. I stitched this seam for a generous inch, starting just before the band overlap, which happens to be the one inch, and ending at the precise spot where the shoulder seam ends. When you get close to that spot, sew very slowly. Remove the pin, once the toes of the feed dog are on top of the seam allowance and can reliably hold that down. Perhaps even manually roll the wheel on the side of your machine so that you can place that needle down exactly in the crotch of the seam. I used a wobble stitch here. Sandra and Nancy both talk about the wobble stitch that is 2 long and .5 wide. Easier to remove than a lightening stitch.

Super duper close up of the needle sunk into the crotch of the (partial) Y seam at the shoulder. Be sure to catch the fabric of the body of the top. If you do not catch it, there will be a hole. If you are too far into the fabric, you will get lumps. While the needle is down, lift the presser foot and rearrange the fabric pieces, so that the under section, the band and upper section the body are both realigned along the raw edges. You are pulling the band towards you. At the bottom of the photo, you can see a tiny bit poking out. And pushing the excess body fabric back behind the needle to the left, out of the way, so that you can stitch this next inch.

Super tempting, I know to continue stitching this seam, but don’t do it! Just sew the generous inch, to just past the end of the crossover of the bands.

I purchased this machine used, and left the tape that a previous owner had placed there to mark a 5/8 SA. It makes me happy to use an older machine that has seen some action.

I like to secure the end of this seam with a tiny back stitch. I flipped this over and this is what the under side looks like. You are now a pro, hop on over and sew the other corner, making sure to keep your bands from twisting.

This is what the other side looks like. You can see I missed my mark by a few threads on the photo below. And this is close enough for me. One of the benefits of this method, is that you are not clipping into raw fabric, and there is less chance of a hole in this seam developing over time. Especially with a loosely knit fabric, like a sweater knit.

Now it is time to flip the top over and sew the band to the rest of the body. When I cut my front and back out, it is simple to make a notch at the center front and back. Actually I often seam my back, to offer subtle help with swayback pooling, so there is that. Match up center front band and center front top, and starting right on top of your one inch corner stitching, complete that seam. You can see my previous stitches in the photo below. Aim for an half inch overlap, and stitching right were you stitched before to avoid puckers. Sew to the center, remove the pin just as the toe of your foot gets to it, then to the other side, overlapping that previous stitching by a half inch. Then separately, do the same for the back neck. Why sew with the band up and body down? The feed dogs will help ease the extra body fabric into the band and since the band is up, you can see to make a more even seam allowance, which will visibly give you a more consistent band. Important if your band is a contrast.

You may choose to pin at more spots than just the center front. In the photo below, I stretched the band to meet the fabric of the body. You can see my center front pin at the very bottom of the photo. Just be sure your raw edges are together and all will be fine. More wobble stitch!

Front is sewn, ready to sew the back.

Take the time to top stitch neatly. Press first. I started at the center back, and using the open toed embroidery foot as my guide, I top stitched with a wobble stitch. A triple stitch works well too. Take that top stitch to the seam line. Sink your needle, lift pressure foot and turn the corner. If you are using a triple stitch, and do not want to over shoot your mark, try switching to a straight stitch for this last few stitches, turn the corner and switch back to the triple stitch.

Below is a photo of the thick ribbing I used on my first version. It has a smoother side I used for the bands. I bought some rayon spandex to make this top, but do not think it will work well for bands. Bands should be beefy and elastic, with great recovery. A substantial cotton lycra would work. Stay stitching the raw edges of the bands together with a triple stitch would provide a stretchy yet stable band.

Super glad I tested this pattern. I feel like it is a nice tribute to my mother who encouraged and taught me so much about sewing. One of the reasons I write these posts, is for my daughter, who also sews, and may want to know about a particular technique when I may not be available to answer. Excited that she can pass the love of sewing down to her children.

This post may contain affiliate links. The links cost you nothing more to use, however I may receive a small commission if you purchase a pattern using my link. Thank you! For those who would rather see a video on this process, here is a great one! https://youtu.be/QZ9l6OZk3xU

For a traditional V neck with a mitered vee, check out this post.