The Brimfield Report: May 2016

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It’s Brimfield time again!  I love Brimfield!  What is it?  The Brimfield Antique Show in Brimfield, MA is the largest outdoor antique market in the United States.  It happens three times a year in May, July, and September from a Tuesday to a Sunday.  Usually my wonderful husband takes a day off to watch the kids so I can get up long before the crack of dawn to head out there for a full day of antiquing.  I love it!

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Unlike some people who go to Brimfield, I’m not a serious collector of anything.  I keep a list throughout the year of antiques I’d love to find, but I’m usually looking for things that are maybe mid-century, on the smaller side, and something I can use.  I save up Christmas and other money, but I don’t think I’ve ever spent it all.  I love to look at everything, hunt for treasures and gifts, and get lessons in both history and the psychology of Brimfield.  It’s never dull.  I walk all day, and then I enjoy some good food.

This year, for the first time, one of my friends was a vendor.  Laurel’s business is called Retromat Vintage and she sells vintage clothing as well as other things that are interesting and cool.  Here a just a few pictures of some of her goods.

Brimfield Antique Show

I vote for bringing gloves back.

Brimfield Antique Show

Or how about hats?

I got the chance to work for her for about 20 or 30 minutes and, despite my nervousness, it went well.  She gave me some sewing goodies that I wanted in return…and a lobster roll.

Brimfield Antique Show

I felt richly rewarded for my minimal work!  Thanks, Laurel!  Laurel also gave me this Necchi-Elna catalogue, which was fun to look through since I have a much-loved Elna.  I had no idea they were one company at some point.

Brimfield Antique Show

The pattern was a freebie from another vendor.  It has no instructions, but I’m working on tracking those down…

I also got to see my friend Maggie from my favorite fabric store in NH, and we had some fun checking out the vintage sewing goodies.

My strategy this time, since I wanted to be available to Laurel if she needed me, was to hit my favorite fields first, and then walk through whatever other fields I could get to.  All the fields have interesting names.  Because I love to delve into whatever I am really interested in, I started a notebook to record favorite fields (currently New England Motel, Quaker Acres, and The Meadows), notes to remember, etc.  Inside I have directions to Brimfield, a page for each field with notes, general notes about where I like to park (in the middle), and my wish lists for the current year and years past.

Also included are a few Bingo lists I’ve made.  My husband creative Brimfield Bingo when we went together one year:  think of the craziest things you can (because you never know what you might find at Brimfield), and then check them off if/when you find them.  While I didn’t play Bingo this year, here are a few of the weirder things I saw:

Brimfield Antique Show

In case you lose an eye…

Brimfield Antique Show

or become a cook in a giant’s kitchen.

My notebook started to get so full of vendor cards, that Scott got me a little accordion file so I can keep track of which vendors are in which fields.  Yes.  We ARE cool.

Brimfield Antique Show

Want to see what else I got?

Brimfield Antique Show

Owl scissors!  At $2 apiece, I wish I had bought a bunch more for gifts.  Maybe next time.

Brimfield Antique Show

A sleeve board for pressing sleeves.  Don’t worry–I’ll clean it up before using it on my sewing projects.

I also got some fun jewelry:

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

And I got some gifts, some of which have to remain secret, but here’s one that doesn’t:

Brimfield Antique Show

And finally, here are some pictures of things I saw as I walked around.

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

A Singer Featherweight sewing machine complete with case!

Brimfield Antique Show

Not everything is antique–some things are upcycled from antiques or are handmade goods like these jeans or supplies for making other things like the yarn below.

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show

It was a great Brimfield, I have to say.  I had a lot of fun looking for treasures and hanging out with Maggie and Laurel.  If you’ve gone to Brimfield, I’d love to hear your thoughts, tips, or favorites.

For posts on Brimfields past, see these links:  2014 and 2015.

 

Ginger Jeans Dreams Realized! Or…I Made Jeans!!!

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I didn’t think it could be done.  Could I ever make jeans?  I doubted myself and procrastinated for ages.  Until finally, I used my old sewing trick that has served me so well:  just do the first step.

Ginger Jeans Dreams Realized!

Ginger Jeans Dreams Realized!

This is great for life outside of sewing as well, but I mainly use it to get myself moving on “scary” projects.  Even if the first step only takes one minute, once I do it, I can be done for that day.  Next time, take the next step.

Ginger Jeans Dreams Realized!

Ginger Jeans Dreams Realized!

Eventually I tend to get caught up in the process and things move along.  That’s what happened with these jeans.  It took me forever to trace the pattern, and forever to cut them, and forever to get to sewing them, but at the point of sewing, I took the first step…and then the second…and then worked on them for a whole day!  By that point, things were getting exciting, and I couldn’t wait to work on them again.  After another day of sewing, I had them done!  They are the most comfortable jeans I think I have ever worn.  And they fit!

Aside from jeans-making being new to me (and therefore intimidating), pants in general intimidate me in the area of fit.  The few times I have made/attempted to make pants or shorts, I can tell something is off, but I don’t know how to fix it.  There were two things, I think, that really saved this pants attempt.  One was that the drafting on these is different from what I have encountered in the Big 4 patterns that I have tried.  In those, I always feel like the front is too high and the back is too low.  This jeans pattern didn’t feel that way at all.  The second thing that saved this project was all the excellent fitting advice that Heather (the designer) offers both in the instructions and in the sew-along on her blog, Closet Case Files.

Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Files

Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Files

So, let’s talk process a bit (Technical Talk Ensuing.  Skim this part if you just want pictures.).

I chose to make this first pair of jeans out of an inexpensive denim in case I had a lot of problems.  I got my denim at Jo-Ann Fabrics on sale.  I noticed that many others had used denim from Jo-Ann’s with success, and so I decided to give it a try.  I also got some interfacing there.

Ginger Jeans Dreams Realized!

I found some rainbow topstitching thread in my stash.  (I wish I knew where it came from so I could get more, but I have no idea.  It may not even be real topstitching thread.)  I used navy thread from my stash for the non-topstitching parts, and some really old thread for the basting.  I’ve decided that basting is an excellent use for old thread.  I have lots of hand-me-down thread and I know you’re not *supposed* to use it, but I do.  I can’t let it go to waste.  Basting seems the perfect use, because if it breaks, it doesn’t really matter.

The fabric for my pockets is some very old Amy Butler fabric that I had in my stash.  My husband saw it and said, “Oh!  You’re making your pockets out of diaper bag!”  Back when I had my first baby, one of my best friends made me a diaper bag with this fabric.  Time to put the scraps to a new use!

Ginger Jeans Dreams Realized!

Now on to the jeans.  I made View A in a size 14.  View A has a low rise with stovepipe legs–similar to what I wear on a daily basis.

Because I’m new to fitting pants, I just cut the size that fit my measurements without any initial adjustments.  I assembled the front of the pants completely.  Then I basted the back of the pants with the exception of the pockets, which I pinned on.  After that I basted the sides together, all before assembling the waistband.

Ginger Jeans Dreams Realized!

Ginger Jeans Dreams Realized!

My main issue came at the back.  The back waist gaped.  Heather explained very clearly what I needed to do, and so I made a few darts in the yoke, tried the pants on again, and then took out just a bit more until they felt right.  Then I sewed everything minus the waistband together.

After that, I assembled the waistband and basted it on.  It also gaped, so I followed Heather’s directions and put a few darts in.  On my first try, I sewed the darts in opposite to how they were supposed to go!  Argh!!  I contemplated just recutting the whole thing, but I ripped out the darts and resewed them in the end.

Ginger Jeans Dreams Realized!

Once I got that right, I sewed it all up and went after the back pockets.  I started to get nervous when I sewed them on because I was nearly out of topstitching thread.  I managed to finish the pockets with just a little bit left.  Success!

Ginger Jeans Dreams Realized!

Ginger Jeans Dreams Realized!

When I put these pants on for the first time…oh, it was wonderful!  They were so comfortable and fit so well.  I had done it thanks to help from Heather Lou!  What an amazing thing to make your own jeans!

Ginger Jeans Dreams Realized!

If and when I make these again, here is what I would do differently.

  • I would interface the waistband.  I thought I wanted one that would stretch but, I think because I chose a cheaper denim, mine tends to stretch out.
  • I would also consider basting the jeans the slightest bit tighter.  These are so comfortable, but the denim doesn’t have the greatest recovery despite the spandex content.
  •  Lastly, I’m curious about how to do a midrise version, something Heather explains on her blog.  I’d like to try that.

If you are considering making jeans, I highly recommend this pattern.  It gave me enough confidence to move forward and to want to try making more pants so I can learn how to fit other styles to my body as well.  Heather also has a jeans making e-book and published a blog post on basic pants fitting that you might find helpful.

Success!!

Update:  I’m linking this post up with Allie J.’s blog for her series called “The Social Sew”.  Each month she puts out a sewing theme and you can link up your recent projects that fit within the theme.  Since this month is ‘Me Made Basics‘, I thought these jeans would be a great fit.  You can also check out what everyone else has made.  It’s a great way to find new sewing blogs!

Recommendations:

  • I just found out that one of my favorite podcasts, Thread Cult, is back up and running.  I thought perhaps it had been abandoned, but it turns out it was only on hiatus.  This podcast is “for the sewing, fashion and textile obsessed”.
  • I’m fascinated by the Instagram account of Tara Curtis @t_jaye.  She makes these fabulous geometric designs that remind me of quilts, but she does it by weaving strips of fabric.  If you love pattern and design, I think you’ll like her work.  She also has a website.
  • Have you ever looked at Cooking Light magazine?  I like their recipes because they are healthy AND they taste good!  Several of their recipes have become family favorites.  You may be able to read Cooking Light at your library (ours lends out magazines) or check out their recipes via their website.
  • Here is an important lesson on compound words.  (Preview this before showing it to your kids–there’s nothing bad, just a few surprising parts that could scare little ones.)

Esme Top from Everyday Style by Lotta Jansdotter

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How are you?  I hope, if you are in the Northern Hemisphere, that spring has arrived.  Spring is trying to happen here, but it’s still a little cold.  Despite that, I’ve got warmer days on my mind, and after some complicated projects just finished and several other tricky ones in progress, I needed a simple, fast, and summery pattern.  I found just the right thing in Lotta Jansdotter’s new book Everyday Style.  It seemed like just the right thing to go with the lovely pink voile I got at Pintuck & Purl when they opened.

Esme Top from Everyday Style by Lotta Jansdotter

I made Variation 2 with the three-quarter length sleeves in a size large.  My only regret (and I find it equally annoying and funny that I did this) is that I didn’t measure the back pattern piece to see if it would need a broad-back adjustment.  The shirt turned out to be quite comfortable, but if I had checked ahead of time, I would have done a broad-back adjustment and it would have been even more comfortable.  After all my recent blog posts about broad-back adjustments (here and here), I didn’t even check.

Esme Top from Everyday Style by Lotta Jansdotter

 

Esme Top from Everyday Style by Lotta Jansdotter

Ironically enough, I did check the dart height, and that turned out to be fine.  Thankfully, there is good ease in this pattern, and it’s still wearable.

Esme Top from Everyday Style by Lotta Jansdotter

Living in New England where the weather changes several times throughout the day, I’m looking forward to having this for summer when a breeze springs up or the air gets cooler in the evening.

Esme Top from Everyday Style by Lotta Jansdotter

The Esme top gets my stamp of approval as a quick and simple make, especially since there are numerous variations if you want to change things up a bit.

Before we get to the recommendations,  I wanted to mention Me-Made-May 2016 one more time.  I’m participating because I really enjoyed it last year.  Here is my pledge:

‘I, Lisa of patternandbranch.wordpress.com and @lisa.poblenz, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’16. I endeavour to wear at least one me-made garment each day for the duration of May 2016. I will try not to repeat any articles of clothing within a single week and I’ll try to wear at least two me-made things together at least once a week.’

I decided that this year I wasn’t going to worry about daily photos, so I won’t be doing weekly outfit round-ups on the blog.  You may see a few photos if you follow me on Instagram, but my focus for this year is the challenge itself.  The only downside so far is that I might forget what I wore earlier in the week without the photos to remind me!  ;)  Check out Zoe’s blog for more information on this year’s Me-Made-May.

Recommendations

  • OK, my friends!  It’s nearly time for one of my FAVORITE events of the year:  BRIMFIELD ANTIQUE SHOW!  Brimfield is the largest outdoor antique show/market in the US.  It takes place three times a year in the town of Brimfield, MA and people come from all over the country (and the world) to shop for antiques, upcycled antiques, and unique materials for creating.  This year, for the very first time, I know one of the vendors!  My friend Laurel, of Retromat Vintage is going to be at Booth 22 of New England Motel, which is one of my favorite fields.  She sells great vintage items.  I’m always really impressed by her clothing, but she has much more than that.  If you go to Brimfield, stop by and show her some love.
  • Have you ever tried a magnetic pincushion?  After buying more pins awhile ago, my little pin jar was full and hard to use, so I bought a Zirkel magnetic pincushion at Pintuck & Purl.  I missed the main selling point until I got home and started using it.  If you drop your pins in the middle of the square magnet, it fans them out around the edges in a circular pattern.  It’s so cool and fun to use!  I knew I would like it, but I had no idea I would like it this much.  Here’s a link to a 14 second video that shows how it works.
  • I’ve mentioned them before, but I think it’s time to officially recommend to you The Curvy Sewing Collective.  This is a great site for so many things!  I find myself returning to it frequently to read their helpful tutorials, pattern reviews, and to look at the great projects from their contributors.  This site also gets two thumbs up for body positivity.  We can all use that!
  • Finally, the Batman vs. Superman trailer…reimagined by kids:

Tiger Shirt!!!! Simplicity 1538 Perfected

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I’m so excited to share my latest project with you today.  I LOVE this shirt.  There are two reasons I love it so much.  The first is this awesome Cotton + Steel pink tiger fabric.  The second is the fit!

Simplicity 1538

Ping of Peneloping was my inspiration for this project.  Her tiger shirt is amazing (as is everything she makes), and it set me on the quest for my own tiger shirt.

You may remember my first attempt at this pattern, made from a vintage sheet.  I really loved that shirt.  It was beautiful, except for being too tight across the back.

Simplicity 1538

Simplicity 1538

I also realized, in trying it on before making this one, that the darts were slightly too high.  Luckily, I had just learned both how to do a broad back adjustment AND how to lower darts.  After doing both of these things to this pattern, I think I may have found my perfect casual button-down…and I have worn it a billion times since making it.  I’m actually afraid of wearing it out.

This post is going to get a bit technical in the hopes that it might help someone else out there.  I won’t go into lowering a bust dart because The Curvy Sewing Collective blog just did an excellent post on this.  You can find that here.

I will, however, show you pictures of the major broad back adjustment I did in case anyone else is working on learning how to do this.  I showed how I did this on a princess-seam shirt in this post.  Today’s shirt, Simplicity 1538 does not have princess seams, but does have a yoke in the back.

Simplicity 1538

Simplicity 1538

Now is the time to skim if you don’t care about the technical aspects of this project.

As before, I used the information in The Perfect Fit, part of The Singer Sewing Reference Library.

Singer Sewing Reference Library:  The Perfect Fit

Because I knew my back measurement, I could measure the pattern to see how much width + ease I needed to make the shirt comfortable when sewn up.  The pattern was 15 inches across the back.  I needed 17 1/4-17 3/4 inches in order for this to be comfortable on me.  (I mention how I measured for this in this post.)  This meant I had to add 1 1/8-1 3/8 inches to this pattern piece (since it only represents half of the back).  I decided I would try adding 1 1/4 inches with a major broad back adjustment (rather than a minor adjustment, which just adds a little width to the back armhole curve).

Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538

Here are my pieces before alteration:

Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538

I have a full yoke piece and a half bottom back piece.  I folded the yoke in half so that the edges of each side could be adjusted simultaneously (and hopefully identically).  You’ll see that my yoke is narrower than the back bottom piece.  That’s because there is a little bit of gathering below the yoke on the center back.  As the shirt is sewn, they become the same width.

For the major adjustment, I taped the yoke to the bottom piece of the back so I could work on them as one.  I made sure to overlap them by 5/8 inch to account for seam allowance.

Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538

Then I drew a line from the middle of the shoulder seam down to the waist and parallel to the grainline.  (I’m more or less quoting from the book, but since you may not be able to read the picture in the book, hopefully this will be helpful.)

Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538

 Next I drew two horizontal lines perpendicular to the one I had just drawn.  Line number one went from the middle of the armhole over to my first (vertical) line and line number two went from about 1 inch below the armhole to my vertical line.  Since line number one coincided with where the yoke joins, you can’t see it, but I’m pointing to the two new lines with my fingers in the picture below.

IMG_6Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538967

 Next, cut out along the lines you just drew so it looks like this:

Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538

 That little ‘almost rectangle’ you have is what you will slide out the amount you need for that half of your shirt (so, it’s half the total amount you need across your back).  In my case, I slid that piece over 1 1/4 inches.  The book notes that the maximum you should slide it out for sizes smaller than 16 is 1 inch.  For 16 and up, you can slide it a maximum of 1 1/2 inches.  Since I had cut a 16 at the bust and an 18 at the waist and hips, this worked for me, and would give me a total amount of 2 1/2 inches across my whole back when the shirt was cut out.

Once you slide that piece out the amount you need, place some paper beneath it and tape it down.  It helps if the paper extends out beyond the edges of your pattern by the armhole and side seam since you will have to redraw those areas now.

I found this part kind of tricky.  I felt like I was making it up as I went along, but here is what I did.  I used my curved ruler to redraw the seamline itself, and then I added my seam allowance in afterward.  I just sort of slid the ruler around until it seemed right.

Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538

Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538

I also had to redraw the area below the armhole, blending the armhole into the side seam.  Again, I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing, so I took my best guess.  Then I cut out my altered pattern pieces (back bottom and yoke).

Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538

Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538

Because my yoke piece was actually a full piece that I had folded in half to do my alterations on, I had to make sure that I had the correct and identical alterations on both edges.  Don’t forget to move any markings (like notches and dots) to an equivalent place on your altered pattern pieces.

A really great thing about this alteration is that it doesn’t change the length of the shoulder seam.  If it did, I would have to adjust the front shoulder seam as well.  The length of that seamline wasn’t my problem, and neither was the size I had chosen.  The width of the shoulders in the back was the issue (and one I also have with store-bought clothing in woven fabrics).  This alteration completely fixed that, and now the shirt is wonderfully comfortable across my shoulders.

Simplicity 1538

The other thing that I did was to lower the front dart by an inch.  I found my information for how to do that in The Perfect Fit as well.  As I mentioned above, The Curvy Sewing Collective did a great tutorial on this very thing.  If you find that dart height is an issue for you, you should check out that post.

Even thought I’m not going into the details, I will show you how my front pattern piece looked after I moved the dart down.

Lowering a bust dart on Simplicity 1538

Lowering a bust dart on Simplicity 1538

I’m glad I didn’t go any lower, and I was a little nervous that the inch had been too much, but after wearing the shirt often, I think it turned out great.

Simplicity 1538

Technical details now finished.  Time for pretty pictures!!!

We found the best background for these shots, and it was actually sunny, too.  All that color + sunshine makes me happy.

Simplicity 1538

Simplicity 1538

Simplicity 1538

And one little fabric and topstitching close-up.  Love those tigers!

Simplicity 1538

Wow!  That was the most technical post I’ve written in a long time (or ever?).  How about some fun?

Recommendations:

  • I’ve got another podcast for you!  Now that I’m out of school, I’m discovering that history is interesting.  ;)  I can see how valuable it is to know the past because then you understand why things are the way they are today and how you can avoid the mistakes of the past (hopefully).  It’s also just interesting.  I have long loved “Stuff You Missed in History Class”, but now I have to add “The History of English Podcast” to my list as well.  I realized I was really into it when I went back to episode one and started binge-listening.  It’s not about technical things like grammar, but more a broad history lesson about how languages are related and how the English of today came to be.
  • Have you heard about Me Made May?  If you are a seamstress/stitcher/sewist you should check it out.  It’s a personal pledge to wear your handmades throughout May.  You can challenge yourself to wear one for the month, one every day, or all handmade all month.  It’s whatever you choose.  I participated last year and loved it, and I’m planning on doing it again this year.
  • One of my librarian friends recommended the movie “The Woman in Gold” to me.  (Thanks, Laura!)  It’s the story of one of Gustav Klimt’s most famous paintings, the family it belonged to, and justice long after a wrong had been committed.  Here is the trailer:

Rainbow Skirt: Simplicity 2215

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Let’s pretend that Jackson Pollock was a finger-painter instead of a paint flinger.  Then, we can pretend he painted the fabric for my skirt.

Simplicity 2215; Skirt

This is not what happened since Jackson Pollock is no longer with us and I don’t think the little I know of his personality matches up with a rainbow skirt, but oh well.  Sometimes it’s fun to imagine things.

So how about a new skirt?  :)  Here’s what I’ve got for you today.

After the beloved outfit I created to wear to my friend’s wedding in January, I decided that I really wanted to find a pattern that was similar to that skirt.  The original skirt has pockets, pleats, a waistband, and is just the right length.  I could teach myself how to copy or draft this, but I don’t want to!  Right now, I just want to sew.  I came up with a few contenders, but one of the most promising was Simplicity 2215, a Cynthia Rowley design.  I was able to get this pattern at a Jo-Ann’s pattern sale for a few bucks.  I love those pattern sales for building my pattern library (and I do think of it as a library!).

Simplicity 2215; Skirt

Simplicity 2215; Skirt

I decided to pair that pattern with some stretch twill that I got at Hancock Fabrics in Indiana last summer.  I kind of wish I had more of that fabric.  It would be great for a pencil skirt or some close-fitting pants AND it contains nearly every color of the rainbow in the hues that I like to wear.  It does NOT contain purple, but it just so happens that purple looks great with it!

Simplicity 2215; Skirt

The details (a.k.a. a good time to skim if you are not into sewing details):

I made a size 18 with no adjustments, and I made View C, the skirt.  (You can also use this pattern to make a sleeveless button down shirt or dress).

Simplicity 2215; Skirt

There is a note in the pattern that states that the pleats are uneven on purpose.  I was glad for that note, so I didn’t have to waste time wondering what was going on with them.  After cutting out the fabric, I took a long time to mark each pleat and even to draw in the arrows so that I would know which way to fold the fabric.  This was really helpful.

Simplicity 2215; Skirt

Simplicity 2215; Skirt

The only other necessary items beyond fabric that you need for this skirt are some interfacing, a little bit of lining fabric for the pockets (I think I used a scrap of handkerchief linen because I liked the white color), an invisible zipper, a hook closure, and thread.  I bought my zipper at Jo-Ann’s, but everything else was in my stash.  The one great thing that I have never had before but had this time was my new invisible zipper foot!  I got that at Marie’s Sewing Center in Woburn, MA, which is where my Mom got my sewing machine a bunch of years ago.  They gave me a 25% discount on the zipper foot! :)

After the cutting, which wasn’t hard, and the marking, which took awhile, the sewing was pretty easy.  I was nervous as I put in the zipper, hardly believing that the whole invisible thing would really work, but it did!  I was so happy!  One sort of odd thing (to me, at least), was that the zipper, rather than being in the back, is right next to one of the pockets.

Simplicity 2215; Skirt

I think I would prefer it in the back, but it’s not really a big deal.  The fit is very comfortable, but maybe on the slightly looser side.  The nice thing is that this allows it to sit a little bit below my natural waist, which I like, but I could potentially size down.  That’s a decision for another time, though.  I also added a little ribbon tag because I was afraid I would put the skirt on the wrong way otherwise!  ;)

Simplicity 2215; Skirt

And that was it!  New skirt!  (I may not look excited in these pictures, but don’t worry, I am.  I was just under the weather on photo day.)

Simplicity 2215; Skirt

Simplicity 2215; Skirt

I realized at the end of last spring/summer that I didn’t have many skirts in my wardrobe for those seasons, so I’m very happy to add this one.  I can see wearing it with both my purple button-down, as pictured, and my pink and white gingham shirt (both Butterick 5526).  That last one will be some crazy pattern on pattern…which will be great!  I’d recommend this pattern to anyone who is interested in this type of skirt.  The other views in the pattern look pretty cool, too.

Now for some fun recommendations to enjoy over the weekend (or any time!):

  • I know I’ve reviewed it before, but it’s still a favorite for me:  The King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking cookbook.  It doesn’t help you hide gross-tasting, “healthy” whole grains in your food…it has delicious recipes made with whole grains.  In fact, I have a Peach-Blueberry Cobbler in the oven right now!
  • I just checked out Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book by Gretchen Hirsch from my library.  It’s her newest book, and it looks really good so far.  Whether or not you are a big dress wearer, this book is full of amazing reference material.  I feel that this is a bit beyond my current sewing skills in an exciting way that makes me want to learn more.
  • Spring!  Want to know my favorite source for really interesting seeds?  Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  I discovered them through a Martha Stewart Living magazine article years ago.  Their catalogue is one of the highlights of  my winter.  Sadly, this year, garden planning has gone by the wayside (Surprisingly, it is not actually possible to sew all the things, cook and bake all the things, forage for all the things, grow all the things, and decorate all the things plus be a phenomenal wife, mother, and friend!  Who knew?), but most years I order in January or February because it’s just so exciting to think about spring.
  • As an American who wishes we had more bike paths, I find this video on Bicycle Rush Hour in Utrecht (Netherlands) really fascinating:

Happy weekend!

A Quartet of Briar Tops

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And here’s the last of my unselfish sewing…EVER.  Ok, just kidding.  At least for now.  I made myself another Briar top (by Megan Nielsen patterns) as well as two Mini Briars and one mash-up of an adult Briar and a kids’ Briar.

Megan Nielsen Briar and Mini Briar Tees

Megan Nielsen Briar and Mini Briar Tees

This is now my third Briar (number one in a double-layer knit is here and number two in Polartec is here), but it’s my first time making a Mini Briar.  I received all three of Megan’s children’s patterns as a thank you for being a pattern tester for the Mini Tania culottes (which are super-cute, by the way).  The children’s Briar is similar to the adult version, although not identical.  It came together very easily.  One thing I love about Megan Nielsen patterns is their visual clarity.  When I first started sewing garments, I was always intimidated by the busy and complicated look of the standard patterns you find in chain fabric stores.  Megan’s patterns are completely opposite to that.  They have a clean look to them that makes you feel confident you will be able to understand them.  Actually, I think that is the case with a lot of the independent pattern companies, which is a big plus.

Megan Nielsen Briar and Mini Briar Tees

It is a great advantage to have the same pattern in a kids’ version and an adult version when you are sewing for someone who doesn’t quite fit in either range, but is somewhere in the middle.  This was the case with the aqua and pink shirt.  It was great to be able to pull both patterns out, compare sizes and make a custom pattern from the two of them.  It was a bit of a head-scratcher at times, trying to figure it all out and make the best-fitting pattern possible, but all the problem-solving is one of the things I really like about sewing, so I enjoyed the challenge.

Megan Nielsen Briar and Mini Briar Tees

Megan Nielsen Briar and Mini Briar Tees

I ordered all of the deer fabric from Girl Charlee.  It’s a poly/cotton blend, so we’ll see how it wears over the long run.  The fabric for the short-sleeved Mini Briar is left over from a long ago project and is from Jo-Ann’s.

Sewing all these up reminded me that while I really love sewing knits because they are so forgiving, I still have a lot to learn.  I’m getting better at choosing stitches that work well, but I still get wavy collars that don’t sit right.  Part of the problem is that, in most cases, I’m not quite sure what I’m doing wrong.  In the aqua and pink shirt, I raised the neckline, but still used the original pattern piece for the neckband, which I should have shortened.  Lesson learned.  As for the other ones, they are pretty close, but not quite right.  Ironing helped, but I think I still need more practice.  Oh, well!

Overall, these are great shirts and they have been getting lots of wear.  It’s nice to see my t-shirt collection slowly getting more interesting and colorful, and it was fun to try out a kids’ pattern.  I think the recipients of the kids’ shirts were happy, too.  :)

Megan Nielsen Briar Tee

Megan Nielsen Briar Tee

Megan Nielsen Briar Tee

Megan Nielsen Briar Tee

Recommendations

Here’s some fun stuff to check out over the weekend.

  • You have to see this dirndl on the Draped in Cloudlets blog.  I’m so impressed by the fit, subtle details, and sheer amount of work that must have gone into this!  The results are so beautiful, and really inspiring.  I think I may need a reason to sew a dirndl…
  • I’ve been listening to a lot of the folk/bluegrass music of Sarah Jarosz lately.  I don’t have a broad knowledge of music, but when I find someone I like, I tend to play their music to death.
  • I always figured that the one everyday clothing item I couldn’t make was shoes.  Then I saw these ballet flats that Jodie of Scared Stitchless made.  I’m happy to be proven wrong.  These are amazing.
  • Here’s another cool music video for you this week:  Wintergatan–Marble Machine.  The music is made by marbles being run through a machine by the artist.  Fascinating and lovely.

A New Button-Down Shirt: Butterick 5526

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It is a lovely, lovely thing to sew from a pattern you have made before and made positive fitting changes to.  I’m just learning how to fit things to my own body, and I used this pattern (Butterick 5526) for one of my first attempts, making a broad-back adjustment to it before trying a first draft.  In making this second shirt, I didn’t change anything.  Someday, someday, I will try a swayback adjustment, but since I can wear the shirt comfortably without it (and the fabric pools in my back, where I don’t normally see it), it just doesn’t feel as urgent.

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

Butterick 5526

Butterick 5526

The real feature of this edition of the shirt is this cool fabric.  I got is last summer at Field’s Fabric in Kalamazoo, MI.  If I remember correctly it’s from Robert Kaufman fabrics, and is a cotton.  Here’s the cool part:  it’s not actually purple.  It’s a trick on your eye.  The fabric is made of red threads woven perpendicularly to blue threads, and your eye sees it as purple.  Color theory in action!  (For an interesting read on color, page through Josef Albers’ book entitled Interaction of Color.  Mind blowing!)  The weave also gives the fabric a fascinating effect (I want to say “iridescent”, but that’s not quite right) in the light.

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

I chose to topstitch this shirt in red and used plain red buttons.  I searched high and low for cool, unique buttons, but in the end, these seemed right.

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

In future editions of this shirt, I’d like to use French seams inside, but I was sort of afraid they wouldn’t make it around the curves and I would get lumps.  However, Lauren of the blog Lladybird is the one who I copied convinced me to try this pattern after I saw her many versions, and she uses French seams, so I should give it a try, too, perhaps.  For now, let’s pretend the insides of my shirt, which I finished with a zigzag stitch and which consequently frayed in the wash, are a “design feature”.

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

And lest you think I’m aiming for the “moody” look in these posts, I’ve been sick all week, and I was still recovering when I took these (and the next few posts’) shots, so it might show.  I feel like I have to say this because when I take blog photos now, I always hear my Grandma’s voice in my head telling me to smile.  I tried, Grandma!

How about some “in progress” shots?

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

I’ve had this shirt done for a while and it’s gotten lots of wear.  The color is one I wear often, and the weight of the fabric is really, really nice.  It’s more substantial than my gingham version (which is not high quality fabric, really), and it feels like it will hold up a lot longer, too.  I love Robert Kaufman fabrics.  Even if I’m wrong about this being from them, I still love Robert Kaufman fabrics.

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

I hope you all have a good weekend.  I’m already feeling better than I was yesterday when I took these photos, so that’s hopeful.  Now how about some fun recommendations?

  • Thanks to the Thread Theory blog for featuring the Strathcona Henley and Jutland Pants that I made for my husband along with some other amazing things created from their patterns.  Check out all the great projects!  The coats blew my mind, and I was definitely eyeing the shorts for ideas for the future.
  • Also on the Thread Theory blog, several cool videos on how various sewing items are made.  I really liked that the scissors they showed are still largely made by hand, and seeing how pins and needles are made was fascinating.
  • This music video by OK Go is CRAZY (crazy awesome).  They always have the best music videos.  Do you think they did it in one take?

I Made PANTS! Unselfishly, Even…

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Is it still unselfish sewing when you get the knowledge, even if you don’t keep the garment?  Of course it is!

Finishing this project kept me on a serious sewing high for a good week.  I made real, true pants!

Let me introduce you to the Jutland Pants, Variation 2 (cargo pants) by Thread Theory Designs, Inc.

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

I made these for my husband, and I think they are a success!  I don’t measure success by perfection.  In this case, success meant finishing the project and producing a wearable garment that fit well enough to be worn.  I’ve made leggings before, but I’ve never successfully made fitted pants.  I dimly remember an unwearable pair that I attempted for myself before I really got into sewing and an unfortunate craft fail, but this is my first finished pair of fitted pants that…fit.

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

So, let’s talk details.  What I really wanted to create was an awesome pair of pants like these ones from Duluth Trading Company.  The inspiration pants have all sorts of special features and although I didn’t include all the possible options in this first home sewn pair (like lining, knee pads, or a crotch gusset), between the pattern and the Thread Theory website, you can learn how to put all these cool extras into your pants.  When I saw this pattern at Pintuck & Purl in Exeter, NH, I knew it was one that I wanted.  Thread Theory patterns are not cheap, but in making these pants, I felt that, more than any other independent pattern I have tried, this one offers great value for my money.  This is something I couldn’t make up on my own, print for free off the internet, or easily find from another company.  There probably are other cargo pant patterns out there and while I make many “Big 4” patterns, I was really glad to have the more individualized support that Thread Theory offers.  They have a sew-along on their blog and in the two instances when I got tripped up and e-mailed Morgan (one of the owners), she got back to me and answered my questions.

As far as all the fabric and notions went, I bought duck canvas on sale from Joann’s for my main fabric.  My original plan had been to get some really nice canvas, but then I thought that I ought to start with something cheaper for my first try.  The lady cutting my fabric looked really doubtful when I told her I was going to use it for pants.  She told me it was the kind of canvas you used to make bags like you might get at L.L. Bean.  It really shook my confidence, but I got the duck canvas anyway.  In the end, it worked out great!  Encouragement, people!  That really would have been preferable!  I also got a metal zipper that was as close as possible to the size called for, but a little longer because I couldn’t find the exact size.  I bought medium weight fusible interfacing and a jeans button from Joann’s.  I had Velcro, bias tape, and something that I hoped was broadcloth or another suitable pocket material in my stash.  I didn’t line the pants.

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

Unlike nearly every sewing project I’ve ever done, I actually made a muslin for this one.  I had an old sheet that came in handy for this.  I took all my husband’s measurements and then made up a sample without the extras like the cargo pockets, knee patches, and hem reinforcements.  The added benefit of the muslin, besides checking the sizing, was that I could practice a few areas like the fly and the main pockets.  It turned out that the muslin was mostly right, but after evaluation, we shortened the pants by about an inch and made a straight size instead of grading between two sizes.

This is definitely a complex pattern and I thought more than once that I was glad I hadn’t been the one who had to design it and then figure out how to communicate the directions for sewing it.  You can tell that a lot of work went into creating this pattern.  There were times when I wasn’t exactly sure what I was doing, so I had to turn the questioning part of my brain off and just follow the directions.  Luckily, they didn’t lead me wrong.

Here are some “in progress” shots:

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

The two questions I wrote to Morgan about had to do with how to shorten a metal zipper (Could I really just use the waistband as the top stop rather than trying to remove teeth with pliers?  Yes, thank goodness!) and if I was supposed to do a second line of stitching on the seat seam as pictured (You can, but you don’t have to and it complicates things if you are doing a lining.).  For the zipper, she recommended leaving at least one metal tooth above the seamline and letting the zipper tape extend into the seam allowance by about a centimeter.  At that point, you can cut off the excess.  I hand-cranked my machine when I went over the teeth just to be safe and avoid breaking needles.  This was a billion times easier than trying to take out teeth with pliers!

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

Concerning the second question, here is what Morgan said (I hope it’s ok to quote her–it will be more accurate and less confusing than if I paraphrase):  “I didn’t end up including this in the instructions due to how it might complicate things when sewing the lining.  I usually stitch the seat seam by clipping the seam allowance at the base of the fly just as you describe.  I stitch rather than pressing the seat seam so that the seam allowances stay to one side.  Depending on the fabric I am using, the seam just under the fly can look a little bit ‘warbled’.  If this is the case, I clip one seam allowance a couple of inches below the fly so that they can sit pressed open rather than both pressed to one side.”  I did the extra line of stitching before she was able to get back to me (because I was impatient) and while it was mostly ok, it did turn out a little funny, like she mentioned.  After being worn a few times, though, it’s not noticeable any more.

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

When I finished, the most amazing thing happened.  I was proud.  I was so excited.  But mostly…I was grateful.

I feel grateful.

I’m grateful that I get to sew.  I know it’s a privilege that I have the time to improve my skills in something besides cooking for my family (let’s just leave housework out of this).  We may not have a ton of extra money (we don’t), but we have been blessed enough that we have been able to make it, somehow, even though I have been home, and thanks to God’s blessing and the public school system that my kids are able to attend, I can do this.  I don’t get all the housework done and, alternately, I don’t get to sew all day every day, but for this time in my life, I have been able to sew enough and have had the support and friendships to enable me to get my skills up to the point that I made my husband a complicated pair of pants.  Maybe I won’t be able to sew forever or even want to, but for now, I’m really, really grateful to God, my family and friends, and now to Thread Theory that I made a pair of pants that my husband likes and wears.

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

I promise nothing about the length of my blog post when I finally make myself jeans. 😉

The icing on the cake is that sometimes, my husband wears this:

Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

I made his shirt and pants!  I’m so proud.  Now to get over my fear of making myself pants…and to conquer bathing suits…and sew all the things!!!!

And don’t you think these need a clever leather tag on the back?  I’m taking suggestions for what it should say!  Leave yours in the comments!

Recommendations:

  • Just when you think you’re an INDIVIDUAL something like these awesome, AWESOME biker-style jeans comes along…and you just want to copy them.  I want these jeans.
  • Double Chocolate Banana Bread (recipe from Smitten Kitchen).  I was skeptical, but it’s so good!  If it’s from Smitten Kitchen, that will probably always be the case.
  • More Christopher Walken.  More Jimmy Fallon.  More Will Farrell.  More Cowbell!