Tiger Shirt!!!! Simplicity 1538 Perfected

Standard

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

Standard

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

Standard

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

Standard

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…

Standard

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!

A Vintage Blanket Becomes a Skirt

Standard

Years ago some amazing sewing ladies who are my mother’s friends, gave me a vintage wool blanket (among other things).  They had a business repairing antique quilts, as well as upcycling quilts that couldn’t be repaired and turning them into handmade goods.  When they moved on to other things, they gave me some of their fabric and thread.  I didn’t sew much at the time, but being a creative person, they thought I might be able to use the things.

One of my favorite items was part of a woolen blanket with two sets of initials on it.  It was a winter white with two blue stripes and navy embroidery, and although I didn’t know its story, it seemed special.  I put it aside until just the right project presented itself.  It finally seemed that I had found the perfect use for it when I saw the Brumby Skirt by Megan Nielsen.  I knew it might not work…but I also knew it might.

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

That idea, that sort of razor’s edge between working or not working is what makes creative endeavors so exciting.  I love to try projects where I am more sure of the outcome.  I get a lot of satisfaction from them, but it really gets interesting when you ask the question, “Will it work?”  I think this is a question that some of the best art and the best fashion have at their heart.  Sometimes the outcome is terrible.  Sometimes it’s ok.  But sometimes it goes beyond what you imagined.

I don’t think this project reached the level of being beyond all I imagined, but the act of walking that line made the project exciting.  Could I create a skirt from this blanket?  Would it be too thick to sew?  Would it lay right?  I’ll tell you from the outset that I love this skirt.  It’s not perfect.  It doesn’t give me an enviable form or lack mistakes.  But I still say it works because some of my big goals in sewing are to create clothing that is unique and interesting.  (And I get to wear a blanket as a skirt in winter!  Always a worthwhile goal!)

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

So, let’s get into some details.  The skill that I hoped to learn in this project was how to create a lining, so I bought some Bemberg rayon lining from Joann’s and leaned heavily on the book Easy Guide to Sewing Linings by Connie Long.

Easy Guide to Sewing Linings by Connie Long

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Maggie from Pintuck & Purl helped me think through my process for creating the waistband, which included lining it with some fabric from my stash and omitting the interfacing.

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

I found a plain navy fabric in my stash for the inside of the pockets.  Since the edge of the blanket was already finished, I decided to omit the hem.  This also saved me fabric, since I had a limited amount of blanket to work with.  In order to do that, I marked the place I would have turned the fabric up to sew the hem and used that as the new bottom line for my skirt.  You can see it faintly below.

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Like vintage fabric sometimes does, this blanket had some light stains.  I tried using a stain remover to get them out, but it didn’t work, so I did my best to cut around the ones I could.  The rest just had to remain.  I did run into a little bit of trouble while sewing in the zipper.  It wasn’t quite even at the top, but since this is for me, and I get to decide what I will and won’t fix, I just folded the extra over and sewed it down.  Problem solved.

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

I also decided to do a decorative topstitch above the seam that joins to waistband to the skirt, just to make sure everything was tacked down.

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

I wanted this done before winter was over, so I was pretty motivated to get it finished.  The days after I finished it were cold, so I could wear it right away!

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

I really like the skirt.  I don’t think it’s going to be the most flattering look, but I just love its interesting uniqueness.  My sister says I need a clever response when asked what the initials stand for.  Any ideas?  (Keep it clean!)

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

It’s really warm and comfortable and love all the different parts I incorporated–lining, colored pockets, and patterned waistband.  I deem it a sewing success.

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

I haven’t yet had a chance to blog a few of my other winter projects, but as far as sewing things goes, this was my last winter make.  I’m on to spring sewing.  I’ll still post the few made-in-winter projects I haven’t shown you yet, but this is the only garment that will probably be worn exclusively in the winter, so I wanted to blog it before spring came.

Recommendations (Yea!)

  • As I come to love hand-sewing more, I find my interest in embroidery being renewed and growing, too.  In that vein, I’ve found some really fun embroidery artists.  An etsy shop I recently discovered is cozyblue handmade.  They have embroidery patterns, etc.  I’m a fan of the Sea Captain.
  • If you listen to podcasts, I’ve just found a new one that I like:  The Seams podcast.  It’s about clothing and the stories connected to it. Jacki Lyden does a great job of interviewing a wide variety of people and looking at clothing from many angles.
  • If you like to garden, but sometimes feel nervous because you don’t really know your plants’ intentions, you should watch “Indoor Gardening Tips from a Man Who’s Very Scared of Plants”.  Problem:  SOLVED!

PatternReview Monthly Sewing MEET-UP in Massachusetts

Standard

PatternReview Monthly Sewing MEET-UP

Hey, everyone!  Just a quick post to let you know about an upcoming PatternReview Sewing MEET-UP for those who are in or near Massachusetts.  Here are the details as posted on PatternReview:

March 12th @ Quilter’s Way
Time: 2:30 – 4:00 PM
Address: 340 Great Rd, Acton, MA 01720
Phone: (978) 635-1177

Should be nice and casual.  Come to hang out and meet others who sew.  Bring anything you might want to share (although that isn’t required).  Looks like we might go for coffee at the Acton Coffee House afterward.

Don’t be shy!  It’s fun to meet other people who sew!  Hope you can come!

You can read the original thread of the conversation here.

UNSELFISH SEWING??!!! Yes, Aliens Have Taken Over my Body. I Made My Husband a Thread Theory Strathcona Henley.

Standard

Well, that about says it all.  Either aliens really can and do take over our minds and bodies, or I just had a rare bout of unselfish sewing under my own power.  Hard to judge sometimes. 😉

Before we get into this, I will say that this little bit of unselfish sewing (plus a shirt I sewed for my daughter AND pants for my husband…yes–MORE THAN ONE UNSELFISH PROJECT!) got me thinking.  Why do I make most of my clothing for myself?  Well, besides the fact that it’s fun and I like clothes, there is the reality that when you sew for someone else (or make anything for someone else), you have to work in a different way.  If I’m making a garment for myself and I make a mistake, I can decide if I care enough to fix it.  Sometimes I do, often I don’t.  I prefer to finish things over having them remain a perfect but unfinished project forever.  Making something for someone else (especially if there is money involved) means I have to work to a different standard.  I still have to finish the project AND it has to be at a higher level.  If picky people are involved, it goes to a whole new level, which is why I try to avoid sewing for those who are hard to please.  Even when sewing for someone who is not super picky, if the fit is off or they weren’t honest about what they really wanted, all your hard work ends up in a closet.

I guess it depends on who you are making it for and what they care about in a garment.  Luckily, in this case, my husband has seen enough of what goes into a garment and what it takes to finish it, that he isn’t going to get crazy about the details, but I’ve also been married to him long enough to know that it has to be finished to a certain level of wearability for it to be a true success.  But then, I guess that’s the case even when sewing for myself…

In the garment I’m going to show you, there are some mistakes, but I think my husband, being the awesome encourager that he is and actually wanting a finished garment, went with “imperfectly finished is better than perfectly unfinished forever”.

Let’s talk about the Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory!

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

I LOVE Henleys for both men and women.  A Henley, as I understand it, is sort of like a t-shirt, but with a partial button placket down the front.  This type of shirt is made from a knit and has a certain “woodsman” vibe.  Thread Theory really has that vibe down, making it possible for me to make L.L. Bean style clothes to my own preferences.  Also, these guys get a gold star for coolest packaging ever, even including a Thread Theory tag so you can sew it into your finished projects.

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

This year my one Black Friday purchase was a cool, double layer knit fabric from Cali Fabrics.  The outside is a grey rib knit and the inside is a soft off-white jersey.  The two layers are tacked together every so often making them work as one.  (I don’t see it on their site anymore, so I’m guessing it’s sold out.)  The garment pattern came from Pintuck & Purl in Exeter, NH.

I made Scott Variation 1 of the Strathcona Henley.  His measurements put him at a size Large, but since this is designed to be slim-fitting and he likes more ease in his clothing, I sized up to an extra-large.

I’ve never sewn a Henley before, so I was hoping this wouldn’t be too tricky.  There is a lot of helpful information in the pattern booklet, including width and length suggestions for your zig-zag stitch.  I ended up using a height of 2.5 and a length of 1 with a jersey needle and a walking foot on a standard sewing machine.  I found the button placket a little bit tricky (and frustrating) to do.  Since I’ve never done this type of thing before, I chalk that up to my own inexperience.  Perseverance paid off in the end, though.  If you make this yourself, you should definitely hand-baste the placket in place as suggested.  Just hand-baste everything!

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

The square at the bottom of my placket came out crooked, but that was one of those mistakes that you look at and move on.  My husband actually didn’t notice it until I mentioned it.  (Oops!)  I also think that my fabric, which was bulkier than a single layer would be, made things more difficult.  If I make a billion of these, I’ll have to report back on if this gets easier.  If you haven’t done this before, don’t be put off.  If I can do it, so can you!  You can’t expect your first time going through a technique to be perfect.  If it turns out perfect, great, but expect it to be imperfect.  You’re learning.

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

One really great thing about Thread Theory is that they have a lot of tutorials and sew-alongs online.  Morgan, one of the owners, is also very willing to answer questions.  I didn’t email her about this project, but I did about another pattern (still to be blogged), and she was really helpful.

Final analysis:  I like this pattern, and it looks GOOD on my husband!  You may not be able to tell from the pictures, since he rarely smiles in pictures, but he really likes it, too, and has worn it a lot.  :D  I LOVE how it turned out.  I’ve even thought of adapting it to fit me, but that is for another sewing season.  Cold weather sewing ended for me on Wednesday when I finished my last winter project.

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

And look!  I even got Scott to smile.  Ha ha!  Triumph!

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

And now for this week’s recommendations!  (Maybe “recommendations” can be my working title.  I still want a better title.  Suggestions?)

  • Smoothies!  Here is our general recipe, adapted from one we found in a magazine ages ago:  1/4c. flavored low-fat yogurt (like peach or strawberry), a splash of milk, 1 Tablespoon of peanut butter, some strawberries (maybe 2 c.?), a banana, a handful of ice, and maybe a handful of spinach (optional).  Top with cinnamon and whipped cream (and sprinkles aren’t a bad idea, either!).  Enjoy!  This makes enough for one tall glass.  I can usually triple it in my blender.
  • Looking for an interesting source of fashion inspiration?  If you are on Instagram, check out @artgarments to see fashion details found in paintings.
  • If you have kids in your life and like cooperative games, try Outfoxed! by Gamewright.  To beat the game, you all have to work together to uncover clues and reveal suspects until you have an idea of which fox stole the pot pie.  If the fox escapes before you guess correctly, you lose!
  • Have you ever watched “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On”?  It’s so cute!