Summer’s Last Garment: Simplicity 1020 Pants

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Fall has officially started (the autumnal equinox was Thursday, September 22), but I still have one more summer garment to share with you.  I also have a few other projects I did during the summer, but those are great for any season, so we’ll save them for another time.  Today I want to talk about these pants!

Simpicity 1020 linen/cotton pants

I really wanted some wide-leg linen pants for summer, and I also wanted to try sewing with linen, something I hadn’t done until I made this Datura blouse (also pictured).  When trying to find a pattern for the pants I had in mind, I remembered some scrub pants I owned in college.  They had a wide, straight leg and were the ultimate in comfort.  Since I hadn’t been able to find a pattern I really liked among the “regular” clothing patterns, I turned to the scrub patterns, and found Simplicity 1020.

Simpicity 1020 linen/cotton pants

 

Simpicity 1020 linen/cotton pants

I figured I could use that and just leave off a few of the extra pockets, keeping the front and back ones.  I found my fabric at Fabric.com–a Kaufman Essex Yarn Dyed Linen blend (55% linen, 45% cotton) in blue and a cotton/rayon (50% cotton, 45% rayon, 5% Lycra) knit in Indigo for the top of the pants.  Other than that, I just needed elastic and thread, which I had in my stash.

I made a quick muslin out of a sheet since I’ve had to do so many fit adjustments on recent bottoms, but while these could maybe have been tweaked slightly, they were good overall, and I decided to make them without adjustments.  This makes me wonder if the Simplicity pants/shorts patterns will fit me better (i.e. with fewer adjustments) than McCall’s and Butterick.  I’ll have to explore that as I make more pants.  The pants themselves were not too difficult to sew up, although I did prolong the process by finishing all my seams.  Finishing seams used to feel like such a chore and while it still does sometimes, I didn’t want thready insides once these pants were finished and went through the wash.  I used a turned-and-stitched finish (a.k.a. clean-finish) per the instructions in the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing.

Turned-and-stitched/clean-finished seam allowances

The linen seemed too thick for French seams, although I’m open to hearing about other finishes people have used.  I also basically did a double turned hem for all the pockets and then topstitched them on so that I wouldn’t get threads in the pockets, either.  Last, but not least, I covered the seam where the main pants fabric joined the knit waist fabric with bias tape.

Simpicity 1020 linen/cotton pants

All of that added quite a bit of time, but I was really happy with these when they were finished.  I don’t know what has happened to me, but it makes me really happy to see those beautiful insides in a project.  I guess I’m “growing up” as a sewist. 😉

Simpicity 1020 linen/cotton pants

I think my only question on the whole thing is the hem length.  If I had hemmed these at the suggested spot, they would have been long, but probably good with heels.  I turned them up one more time so I could wear them with flatter shoes, and I think that is the right length for lower shoes, but sometimes, at some angles, they look a little bit like floods. (Wow.  I just used Google Images to look up “flood pants”.  It was a little different than I expected, but I think my statement still stands.)  I didn’t actually cut my excess off the hems, so if I change my mind later, I can rehem them to be longer.  I’m done with them for this year, though.

Simpicity 1020 linen/cotton pants

Simpicity 1020 linen/cotton pants

These pants are super comfortable (secret pajamas for the win!) and they wrinkle much, much less than I thought they would–maybe because of the cotton blended in?  I think of cotton as pretty wrinkly, but who knows?  Maybe because of the midweight?  I don’t know.  Whatever it is, I’m happy with them.  Now it’s on to fall sewing!

Simpicity 1020 linen/cotton pants

 

Simpicity 1020 linen/cotton pants

 

Simpicity 1020 linen/cotton pants

Recommendations

  • Here’s one more post from Cotton + Steel about the fabric called cotton lawn.  Sounds like lawn is a winner for your button up shirt needs.
  • I’m really impressed and intrigued by the embroidery of Tessa Perlow.  This article about her has some great pictures so you can get a feel for what she does.  I think I’d like to try adding embroidery to some of my garments someday…
  • If you are a garment sewist in fairly close proximity to Exeter, NH, you might enjoy the Pattern Review Meetup happening at Pintuck & Purl this Saturday, September 24 from 2-4pm.
  • Jellyfish or jelly fish?  Be careful how you say it!

Adventures in Shorts Fitting: McCall’s 6930

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We’ve been talking a lot about shorts lately, haven’t we?  I’ve noticed that in my sewing, I tend to make tops.  I have a lot of me-made tops in my closet, but not a lot of shorts and pants.  Why is that?  Fear.  That’s it.  Silly as it sounds, I have been afraid of making shorts and pants because I don’t know how to fit them.  But this was the year of sewing first jeans and then, this summer, shorts.  I’m so glad I finally plunged in because now I have a better grasp of some of the fitting issues I might face and how to fix them.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

So let’s talk about this particular pattern, McCall’s 6930 (View A).  There are a couple of shorts options in this one, as well as capris.  They have a flat front, shaped waistband, back zipper, and pockets, with optional belt carriers.  It actually took me three tries to get this right, and I took pictures of each of them, so you could see some of the things I had to fix and the mistakes I made.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

 

McCall's 6930 Shorts

Last summer, I began my first version of this pattern.  I could tell that something was wrong with it, but I wasn’t sure what to do, so I put it away until this summer.  I nearly threw these shorts out when I was cleaning up one day, but I tried them on first and realized that they weren’t as terrible as I remembered.  So, I finished them, and came up with ideas on what I wanted to improve.  The front was baggy and went up too high, and the back felt like it needed more length in the crotch seam.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

The baggy front was no good.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

McCall's 6930 Shorts

I looked in my trusty book, Sewing Pants that Fit from the Singer Sewing Reference Library, and decided to try taking a wedge out of the front and add a wedge into the back.  After I had done this, I saw that the book said not to take wedges out of the front, but there was no explanation as to why, so I decided to try it anyway.  I took out the wedge and redrew the top of the front crotch seam, making sure it was straight like before.  When I asked a friend who used to work as a pattern drafter what was up with the book’s advice, she asked if I had redrawn the center front line and, when I told her I had, she said it ought to work.  Her other suggestion was to take some of the length out of the top of the front, thereby leaving that front seam intact.  She also told me that the new grainline should be more or less perpendicular to the top of the shorts so that they would hang straight down.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

The front pattern piece, above.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

The back pattern piece.

Version two came out much improved.  There was one main problem, however.  I had made these out of a stretch denim…but the pattern didn’t call for a fabric with stretch.  So, as you may imagine, these shorts tend to “grow” throughout the day until they are a bit large by the end of the day.  Another minor thing that I noted was that using a lighter weight fabric for the back of the pocket is not as good as using a fabric of the same weight.  I did this in versions one and two.  It creates wrinkles and doesn’t hang as well–not super critical, but important to note.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

This picture makes me look excited about the hugeness of these shorts, but I’m really just making funny faces for my photographer.  This photo shoot got a little silly by the end…

McCall's 6930 Shorts

 

McCall's 6930 Shorts

Fabric the same weight as my denim would have worked better than the lightweight denim scrap I used.

I cut into some of my precious fabric from Pintuck & Purl for my third version…and it came out great!  When I put these on, they just feel right.  The one thing I will probably tweak if I make this pattern again (which I’ll probably do) is to lengthen the back crotch point just a bit as the front of the legs feel closer to the body than I think they should.  The leg openings aren’t too small, it’s more like they are tilted toward the back when they should be more balanced.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

Front view.  There’s a little yellow on the darts from my chalk markings, but that washed out easily.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

Back view.

Each of the adjustments I made were the same as those I made on McCall’s 6848, the pajama-turned-everyday shorts I recently blogged about.  It feels good to know I am on the right track.  Now the question is, will these be standard adjustments for me, or will they be limited to McCall’s patterns?  Either way, I feel like I’m making progress in learning to fit pants and shorts, and a lot of the scariness is dissipating.  It’s such a pleasure to occasionally wear an outfit that I’ve made–not only the top, but both the top and the bottom.  I’m really happy that I tried despite my fear.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

 

McCall's 6930 Shorts

McCall's 6930 Shorts

And…..guess what?  Today is this blog’s third birthday!  That’s pretty cool!  I thought about doing a round-up of past posts, but I wanted to talk shorts one more time instead.  I’m so thankful for this blog, which has helped me grow in confidence as a writer, seamstress, and photographer.  I think I have a good groove, have seen some improvements in those areas, and I hope for more improvements in the future in both sewing and blogging.  I’m also thankful for you, my readers, some of whom have been with me from the very beginning.  Thank you for encouraging and supporting me in this.  Learning these skills goes far beyond sewing–the confidence and happiness that comes from sewing has expanded into other areas of my life as well.  So, I’m thankful for the blog, for you, and to God for the skills, time, resources, and frame of mind to grow.  Thank you.

And last but not least, let’s have some Recommendations!

  • Another fun post in the Cotton + Steel substrate series is the one all about rayon, which is new to me.  I’m looking forward to trying it out in the near future.
  • Have you ever wanted to turn your favorite button up shirt pattern into a popover top (a top with a button placket that only goes partway down the shirt)?  I have!  I just wasn’t looking forward to figuring it out on my own.  Luckily, Craftsy did it for me.  You can read all about it here.
  • Did you know it’s National Sewing Month?  It is!  To celebrate, Pintuck & Purl is doing a fun Q & A with various bloggers and pattern designers over on their blog, and I’m one of the bloggers!  You can read their blog here.
  • When knitting takes over…

Finally Just Right: McCall’s 6848 Shorts

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It may be September, but summer isn’t over until the first day of fall on September 22, so it’s been shorts-land over here lately.  Yes, Shorts-Land is a place, and that place has been my house, where I’ve been sewing up a ton of basic and not-so-basic shorts this summer.  Like many aspects of sewing, I’ve been putting shorts and pants off because I didn’t know how to fit them, but I also know that I really need to try if I’m ever going to learn.

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McCall’s 6848 is a pattern I’ve been tweaking little by little, and I think I finally have it right.  This is actually a pajama pattern, but after making my first pair of shorts from it (View D), I realized this it was going to be more of a summer staple than pajamas.

McCall's 6848

McCall's 6848

One thing I’ve found in the little bit of pants/shorts sewing I have done is that bottoms sometimes feel as though they are too high in the front and too low in the back for me.  This was definitely the case with my first pair of these shorts.  So, I got out the good ol’ Singer Sewing Reference Library books and looked up fitting, until I came up with some ideas.  For my second pair of shorts, I took a wedge out of the front and added a wedge into the back.  This got my shorts really close to what I wanted, but the front legs felt just a little…well, not tight, but not quite right–a little like they were pressing against me too much in the front of the legs.  So, for this last pair, I lengthened the back crotch point just a bit and…finally just right!!!

McCall's 6848

 

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They feel exactly like I want them to.  For this pair, due to my need for basics, I decided to try out the new Art Gallery Fabrics Denim.  I got it at Pintuck & Purl in Exeter, NH (who, by the way, I’ve started doing some social media for, which is super cool).  I was kind of skeptical about this thin fabric.  I didn’t really believe it was denim, because the weight is closer to a quilting cotton, although it’s much drapier.  When you look at the weave, though, it really is a denim weave.  All that to say, I was pleasantly surprised when I tried it.  I managed to make these up before the road trip we went on in July, and they were perfect in the car.  I guess it’s always a good day when you can wear something designed as pajamas in your everyday life.

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I even put a little lace flower in there as my back tag.

The one extra thing I did (besides that flower) was add some long bartacks at the sides.  I know from experience that these shorts can catch on things…and rip.  It’s no fun ripping a hole in the side of your new shorts.

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The only other thing I would change if I made these again would be to add pockets.  It’s pretty annoying not to have any, but I think, at this point, I want to focus more on fit than modifying patterns with extra features.  So, I’ll save it as a future idea.

Recommendations

  • I’ve got to recommend it again–BRIMFIELD!  It’s going on now, and if you are an antique-lover anywhere near western Massachusetts, I highly recommend you go.  Brimfield is the largest outdoor antique market in the US and it’s going on this week until Sunday.  You can find all the details at the above link.
  • I tried one of the best recipes EVER on Monday.  It was Bostocks from the Seven Spoons cookbook.  It’s an amazing combination of day old brioche (like challah bread), orange simple syrup, and almond cream.  It’s totally worth the work, and you can make the various elements ahead of time.  Check your library…I bet they have it!
  • How about more learning about fabric?  Here’s a link to another of the Cotton + Steel substrate series.  This time it’s all about their cotton/linen canvas fabric!  Interesting!
  • And finally, I’ve got one more video from Cotton + Steel about how their fabric is manufactured and printed over in Japan.  It’s pretty cool to see how it’s all made:

 

Pleasant Pathways Shorts, or I Need Some Basics

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Hi, guys!  I hope you’ve been having a good week.

Today’s project is brought to you by the need for basics.  I’m like a lot of sewing people.  I get drawn in by the pretty, happy, shiny prints and end up with a closet full of crazy, crazy fun…that doesn’t all go together.  I also tend to make a lot of tops, because I’m still trying to get over my fear of sewing pants due to my lack of fitting knowledge.

Well, you can’t learn if you don’t try, right?  So, along with the tops, I’ve been working on shorts this summer.

Pleasant Pathways Shorts

This pair, however, was more of a known quantity, so I made them up earlier this summer when I went nuts sewing easier, known stuff after all the complex things I’d been doing.  I’ve made this shorts pattern before, back when I started sewing seriously, and the fit has always been great.  I never needed to alter them.  Besides the fit, the other great thing about this pattern is that it is free, free, FREE!  You can find it here.  It’s one that Anna Maria Horner made for Janome.

Pleasant Pathways Shorts

I still wear my first pair of shorts from this pattern (the green ones in this post).  In looking at my measurements now, I should probably grade out at the hip, but I used some stretch denim that was left over from my Ginger Jeans extravaganza, so the fit turned out great, and they’re very comfortable.

Pleasant Pathways Shorts

I didn’t have a navy zipper, so I used what I had, which happened to be red, but thanks to my fairly new invisible zipper foot, you can’t see the red much.  Plus…I don’t actually mind.  I like little surprising details and contrasting colors.

Pleasant Pathways Shorts

Someday I’d love to add pockets and maybe a waistband to this, but for now, this pattern was just what I needed as far as sewing a known pattern and something basic that fit well and matched with most things.  I highly recommend it.

So that’s it!  I hope you give these a try if you are looking for some simple shorts.

I’ve still got some summer sewing to fit in, so you’ll likely be seeing more of that here for a bit.  Summer isn’t officially over until September 22!

Pleasant Pathways Shorts

Recommendations

  • As an art lover and a surfing…spectator, I love seeing the boards at Album Surf.  Check them out for some serious eye candy.
  • I thought Hila’s Nautical Outfit turned out great!  Striking colors and patterns!
  • Cotton + Steel Fabrics teamed up with Colette Patterns awhile back to explain some of the different fabric substrates they use.  If you’ve ever wanted to learn about double gauze, check it out on Cotton + Steel’s site here.
  • Here’s a video about Cotton + Steel’s double gauze collection, Bespoke.  It was interesting to hear about their thought process and to learn more about double gauze itself.

Outside in August

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It’s time for some photos of the outdoors!  I have to admit, I feel like I’ve been running around doing busy stuff more than usual this summer, rather than really getting out there and enjoying the outdoors, but I’m trying to pay more attention so the whole summer doesn’t just pass me by.  I hope you like these pictures and that you get a chance to enjoy the beauty around you wherever you are.

Outside in August

Outside in August

Outside in August

Outside in August

Outside in August

Outside in August

Outside in August

Outside in August

Outside in August

Outside in August

Outside in August

Outside in August

A New (Awesome) Shirt! Simplicity 2255 in Cotton + Steel Paper Bandana

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Hi, sewing friends!  It feels like forever since we’ve had a good old basic sewing post.  So that’s what we have today.  I love doing special projects and field trips and, honestly, taking a break from blogging has allowed me to build up a nice backlog of projects to share with you, but it’s also nice to get back to the normal, everyday type of sewing stuff.  A little break makes it feel more special, and it makes me excited to share things with you.

So, all that to say, I made a shirt!  And I love it!

Simplicity 2255

Simplicity 2255

The pattern I used was Simplicity 2255, which first came to life in my closet in an orange iteration last year.

Simplicity 2255

Simplicity 2255

This time I made the same view (View D) in the same size (16 at the bust, 18 at the waist and hips), but I left off the pocket, and I didn’t mess up the bias binding on the armholes!  Progress!

Simplicity 2255

Simplicity 2255

I will say that the shirt feels different in the quilting cotton I chose this time around than the voile-like mystery fabric I used last time.  I think I would like the armhole to be slightly larger, so I looked in some fitting books and, if I make this again, I’m going to try scooping out the bottom curve of the armhole just a bit, although I’m open to other suggestions if you have them.  It’s not uncomfortable exactly, but it feels a bit high and like there should be more room.  This wasn’t something I noticed in the first version.

I’d had my eye on this fabric for a long time, but what I didn’t see until my friend pointed it out, was that the pattern on this fabric almost makes a sort of plaid.  (Thanks, Maggie!)  I haven’t really delved into much pattern matching, but I decided to try to generally match the horizontal lines, and it turned out pretty well!  I’m happy with it.  I’m also really in love with the vintage buttons I used that came from my mother-in-law (Thanks, Mom!).

Simplicity 2255

I’m trying really hard to pay attention to what I most like to wear in each season and what I feel good in.  For summer, I’ve decided I like looser things so the breeze can keep me cool when I’m wearing them.  (In contrast, I find that I want to be wrapped up in blankets in the winter, hence “secret blanket clothing”.)  This shirt is definitely loose and breezy, and I feel super cool when I’m wearing it (literally and figuratively).

Here are a few detail shots.

Simplicity 2255

Simplicity 2255

Simplicity 2255

So, that’s about it for this shirt!  I’ve worn it two times this week, and I washed it yesterday so I can wear it again today.  Don’t judge (or if you have to, keep it on the inside)! 😉

Simplicity 2255

How about some Recommendations?

  • When I get the chance to watch TV these days, I’ve really been enjoying Atelier, a show created by Netflix and Fuji TV about a girl just out of school (college? grad school?) who goes to work in a custom lingerie store in Tokyo.  Unlike an American show, this isn’t smutty or racy, but is a really heartwarming story about learning to take pride in making quality work and to prioritize your customers, co-workers, and friends above your bottom line.
  • Hila’s blue dress over on Saturday Night Stitch is so cute.  I love it!  She copied a ready-to-wear dress, and I’d say she nailed it.
  • Allie J. interviews Deborah Kreiling of Simplicity, and they talk all about Simplicity’s vintage rereleases.  It’s really fascinating to get an inside look at Simplicity’s process.
  • And because I try to share the new things I find with you, I bring you an Olympic sport I missed the first time around:  ballet skiing.  I’ll leave it up to you to decide if the world is better or worse without this in the Olympics.

The Refashioners 2016

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It’s finally time to talk about The Refashioners 2016!

Refashioners 2016

I’ve been waiting a long time to share my #jeanius project with you.

The Refashioners is a challenge created by Portia Lawrie of Makery that showcases creative ways to refashion whatever the chosen garment for that year’s challenge is.  If you’ve been following along, you already know that this year’s garment of choice is jeans (#jeanius!).  Check out what I made!

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

I’ve written about my creative process over on Makery, but if you want more details on working with the particular pattern I chose, Vogue 8750, you’ve come to the right place.

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

As soon as Portia sent us our brief for this year’s Refashioners challenge, the gears in my mind started turning.  My local big box fabric store was having a pattern sale, so I went down there with notebook and pencil in hand, sat down in front of the big pattern catalogue books, and started making list.  Lists and lists of patterns that I might be able to create out of different pairs of jeans.  I decided to look for something that had multiple narrow pieces so I could cut them out of jeans legs.  I finally settled on Vogue 8750, a skirt pattern.  I chose View A, which is the shorter (but not actually short) pencil skirt.  This looked like it had a lot of possibility for color-blocking, and I was hoping to find some super-cool denim at my local thrift store.

With the help of a pattern and all the inspiration on my then-secret Denim Pinterest board, I went to my thrift store looking to find some railroad denim or…something inspiring. (I have a little railroad denim obsession at the moment).  No railroad denim.  But I did find…THIS!  Yellow denim, white, denim with hearts, and my own older pairs of dark blue.  Now it was all coming together!

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Last year’s Refashioner’s contest helped me make a move up from beginner to intermediate sewist. However, still not being super experienced, I don’t always make a muslin.  (Who am I kidding?  I skip it whenever I can.)  I know…I know…  It’s helpful, and I’m moving in that direction, but I’m not there for every project.  I actually DID make a practice garment for this one, though.  I made two, even!

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

The first showed me that I needed to size down.

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

A lot of people say they find this with Big 4 sewing patterns–I typically don’t, but in this case it was necessary, so it’s a good thing I made a muslin.  I used the second muslin to try lowering where the skirt sat on my hips and practice putting it all together a bit more.  The pattern tells you to ease the top of the skirt to the ribbon facing, but I had a lot of trouble with this and didn’t really want the skirt up at my natural waist.  I found that skipping the easing and just cutting a ribbon to match the top of the skirt solved both problems.

Muslins can also be a great way to procrastinate on cutting into your final fabric while appearing busy.  ;)  I finally got up my courage, though, and found that I could easily fit my pattern pieces onto the jeans I had chosen (large men’s jeans for the white and yellow).  I tried out using one pair of children’s jeans for my middle panel, but had to backtrack when I saw that it just didn’t work.

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

The thing I wish I had done (and I’m still not sure how or why I didn’t after two practice garments) was think about how and when I was going to finish my seams.  I realized part way into my final draft that I really wanted to bind the edges of the seams with bias tape.  This is something best done as you go along and before you join various parts.  You can see a few places where my bias binding doesn’t go all the way to the edge of the seam.  Lesson learned.  I actually contemplated starting over when I realized that (plus, I was getting pretty good at making this pattern after a couple of versions), but it seemed to defeat the purpose of refashioning to throw an otherwise good garment-in-the-making out because of one little detail.

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

The other interesting thing I discovered was that sometimes, in matching up seamlines (namely on the sides), it wasn’t about moving the pieces up or down to get them to match, but making the seam allowances the correct width for them to match. One of my sides matched immediately, and the other took several passes through the machine, taking the side in millimeter by millimeter in order to get it to match.  The skirt in-progress looked messy and crazy, but as I got things lined up, trimmed and bound my seams, and finished edges, it came together into something that looked polished.

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

When I finally finished, I had a thing of beauty.  It’s certainly not perfect, but I’m proud of it.  I think the best compliment I got was when I was in Rockport, Massachusetts shooting pictures, and I stopped in an art gallery.  Rockport is famous for its artists, and one of the artists in the gallery complimented me on my outfit.  When a person who spends their life looking for beauty compliments you on your outfit, you know you’ve done something right! 😉

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

My favorite thing about this challenge is that it makes me think like an artist. You get your parameters, but within them you have freedom.  How far can you push it?  What will you do to make your garment distinctive?  Will it be simple and sleek or heavily embellished?  This is what I talk about in more depth in my post on the Makery blog.  If you haven’t already, I hope you check it out and look through all the other posts as well to get some inspiration.  What do you think?  Will you be diving in?  There’s a pretty tempting prize package!

Last, but never least, thank you to my photographers–my husband Scott and my friend Colleen.  I appreciate your help SO MUCH!

Field Trip: Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

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Hi, everyone!  I hope you had a good July.  It’s been good to have a blogging break, and it’s good to be back.  Despite my break from blogging, I haven’t taken much of a break from sewing…except for during the road trip we took out to the Midwest.  We visited family and friends in Michigan, which was really nice.  My Mom is a long-time quilter (and an apparel sewer before that), and we often make the rounds of the fabric stores where she lives.  We didn’t have quite as much time to do that this time, so instead, she took me on a little field trip to learn about Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana, where she has been helping out as a quilting mentor.  I thought I would share our trip with you.

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Sew Loved is located in downtown South Bend.  Here is what they say about themselves:  “Sew Loved welcomes all women to our Center.  Our mission is to teach sewing and quilting to underserved women and teen girls in the South Bend, IN area.  We provide a positive ‘hands on’ program for women to learn and practice a variety of life-enhancing skills, nurturing each woman’s self-confidence and self-esteem. Our sewing, quilting and other programs are offered free of charge.”

I had an opportunity to meet Vicki Miles, the director, as well as a few of the ladies who were at work organizing supplies or working on quilts.  Sew Loved is a nonprofit organization that uses sewing to empower women, teach new skills, and form community through sewing.  I was really impressed by Vicki’s dedication to the organization as well as how deeply she had thought through the best ways to serve the women who participate.

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

It was really fun to see the new space they had just moved into.  They are still organizing and sorting through donations, but what organizing they have had a chance to do is really impressive!

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

I got to look around at all the quilts, including several from “ugly fabric” challenges, and talk with Linda, a woman who has 30 years of apparel sewing experience, but has recently fallen in love with quilting (you can be sure I took the opportunity to ask her all my apparel questions!).

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

(The two quilts below are from the “ugly fabric” challenge, where two participants used the same fabrics that they thought were ugly to make two completely different quilts.)

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Linda also showed me their mid-arm quilting machine, which was really cool and something I hadn’t seen before, as well as the new lighting system that one of the ladies’ husbands had installed.  It’s amazing what a big difference a simple change like good lighting can make!

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Linda had made a number of the quilts hanging on the walls.  She also showed us some of the quilt tops she had recently finished, which were amazing.  When you talk with Linda about quilts, you hear an artist talking back to you.

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

I also met Janet who finished her very first quilt while we were there!  The women in the program make a table topper they can keep as their first project, followed by two quilts for donation.  The fourth project is a quilt of any size that they can keep if they choose to.

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

It was heartwarming to see some of the fabric donations, many sent by husbands whose fabric-loving wives had passed away.  Many people had spent large amounts of time organizing and systematizing all the donations so quilters could easily find what they were looking for to achieve their creative visions.

Next year Sew Loved will be partnering with The Crossing School for at-risk youth to teach a sewing class for girls, and they are currently writing a grant in the hopes of getting enough matching machines so that everyone will be on the same page equipment-wise. (UPDATE:  Since I began writing this, they have met their funding goal for these machines, thanks to donors and generous discounts from the company they are buying the machines from!)

My Mom (who is also a mentor at Sew Loved) showed me the Christmas Trees that they make as a fundraiser for the organization.

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Sew Loved sells the trees at various craft fairs and other events as a way to raise money for the organization.  These ones have been assembled but are still waiting to be decorated.

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

All equipment and supplies at Sew Loved are free for participants to use, which translates into a lot of hard work for Vicki tracking down donations and supplies.  She definitely seems up to the task, however.  I got the impression that Vicki was a force to be reckoned with in the best possible way–the way that means she is fiercely loyal and devoted to the ladies she works with and the organization as a whole.  She also has some seriously amazing quilting skills!  She showed me some of her quilts in progress…and they were mind-blowing!  Clearly, she knows her stuff.

Despite my trip to the Midwest being light on fabric shopping (only a visit to Field’s Fabrics in Kalamazoo, MI), this trip to Sew Loved helped prevent any sewing withdrawal I was in danger of.  ;)  If you find yourself cleaning out your fabric stash or sewing supplies, and want to make a donation, they accept 100% cotton quilting fabrics (fat quarter size or larger), Christmas fabrics for their annual fund-raising project, sewing machines in working order, sewing/quilting tools, or monetary (tax-deductible) donations for overhead expenses.  If you happen to be in the area, you can get involved as a participant in their sessions or as a sewing mentor and friend.

Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana

Here is all the contact info:

Sew Loved

Women’s Center

103 W Wayne St., Suite 400

South Bend, IN 46601

 

Mailing address:

1320 De Luna Way

South Bend, IN 46614

 

Website:  www.sew-loved.org

Facebook:  facebook.com/sewlovedinc

Vicki Miles, Director:  vicki@sew-loved.org

Phone number:  574-329-2639

Vacation! And a Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

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Hey, friends!  Happy July!  I can’t believe it’s July already.  I feel like summer is just starting.  I’m going to take the rest of the month of July off from blogging (although you can still find me on Instagram @lisa.poblenz).  I’m coming off a number of complicated sewing projects (Refashioners 2016–which you’ll get to see in the not-too-distant future, bathing suit sewing, jeans, etc.), and it’s time to regroup, create some new garments, and do family stuff.  I don’t know about you, but when I finish a big batch of projects, I feel a little discombobulated for a while until I figure out what direction I’m going to pursue next and get going down that road.

I finished one wonderfully quick project on Wednesday, however–a Deer and Doe Datura Blouse.

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

I’m finding that while I am most drawn to bright colors and fun prints, I need a few neutral garments to wear with the fun and crazy stuff.  So, to test out this pattern, I chose the most basic view and made it up in a white linen-look fabric from Joann’s that I’ve had forever, and a khaki linen that a good friend gave me.  I also took the opportunity to use some vintage buttons from my mother-in-law.

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

Before beginning, I measured myself to see how high the dart should sit on my body and then checked it on the flat pattern.  It seemed perfect, so other than grading up a size for the waist and hip, I used the pattern as it was.  There were a few tricky parts, mainly having to do with sewing together the shoulders, but once I weathered those, it was a quick sew.  (I used Part 1 of this sew-along to help me out, in case you are considering making this top as well.)  The only potential issue is that the neckline seems to gape just a bit, but I’m going to wash and wear the shirt a few times before I decide if I need to deal with that in any future versions.  They’ve updated the pattern since I bought this one, so maybe they fixed that.  I’m not sure.

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

(Thanks to my Instagram Husband for taking these pictures of me!)

Expect future versions of this, though.  I want to try the one with the triangle cutouts next…and in crazy fabric.  One neutral garment at a time is about all I can handle! 😉

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

Do you ever wish you could sew at super speed?  I’ve never really had a handle on my summer wardrobe, but after sewing for a few years, and thinking seriously about what I actually wear (rather than just what I like to look at in fashion, which are often two very different things), I think I’m getting closer to the essence of how I like to dress in summer.  And now I want to sew it all up!!!!  I’ve been stocking up on fabric, but I can’t yet sew at lighting speed or fit garments to myself with shocking perfection.  Alas, my reach exceeds my grasp (but I think they are getting closer!).  Ah, sewing problems!  Ha!

Well, have a great July.  I look forward to more writing and talking with you in August.  We’ll find out then if I spent my time sewing or not! 😉

Recommendations

  • This Piped Floral Shirt Dress from Making It Well is amazing.  I’ll have to pick up some tips from Jo when I finally dive into the wonderful world of shirt dresses.
  • I just have to recommend The Great British Sewing Bee.  As much as I love Project Runway, sometimes it’s just so…ruthless!  The GBSB has a much kinder tone as well as an educational one.  I’ve only watched Season/Series 1 in its entirety, but Series 4 is on now!  You can look at the show’s website here.
  • If you are in the greater Boston area, I highly recommend the magazine edibleBOSTON.  If you aren’t in greater Boston, you may have an edible magazine covering an area near you.  edibleBOSTON is a fun way to learn about farmers, restaurants, small batch food makers, and other foodie things in your locale.  Magazines are free from subscribing businesses and come out quarterly.  You can also read issues online.
  • Aaannnddd…..we’re TOTALLY making this spaghetti and meatballs recipe this summer!