Do you ever look in your closet and realize you are missing a certain type of clothing? I suppose that happens to everyone from time to time. Before Christmas, I realized that I had no dress pants except for one pair that was a bit snug. Like many others, my body has changed during COVID, and the dress pants I had previously have been cleared out of my closet since they no longer fit. I often make do with what I have for holidays, but I wanted something nice for our Christmas Eve church service. I don’t like sewing to a deadline, but I had probably a month to go before Christmas, which seemed reasonable, even with all the other pre-holiday demands on my time.
I looked through my fabric collection and found some beautiful cotton velveteen that I had bought a few years ago from Fabric Mart. It was originally slated to become part of a party outfit, but that plan took a turn, leaving this lovely fabric behind.
In order to speed me on my way and avoid fitting questions, I looked at what I had in my closet that already fit. One of the patterns I have made a few times, that still fits and that I love is Simplicity 8391.
I laid out my velveteen on the fold to see if I could fit my pattern. It was just barely wide enough, and just barely long enough. I had to keep in mind the nap of the fabric and cut the pants so the nap was running all the same way, but I could manage it with what I had. I cut everything out, and added an inch to the length of the pant legs right at the bottom so that I could finish them with a deeper, 2.5″ hem.
I know that the proper way to add length to pants is in the middle of the legs, and this is what I did when I initially lengthened them, as you can see two pictures up, but because this wasn’t the only project on my plate and there was a deadline, I tried to make things quicker wherever possible.
Making things speedy included using my serger to finish seams. While serging is not my favorite finish as far as looks go, I definitely like it better than the zigzag edge finish I often used inside pants before getting a serger.
Unlike my last pair of these pants where I used a jean zipper and lapped zipper application, I went back to what the instructions suggested and used an invisible zipper. I couldn’t find an exact color match, but since it’s invisible, only the pull shows, so it doesn’t matter that much. While the zipper technically stops below the pocket, it sticks a bit there because of the bulk of the fabric, so I just unzip it down to the pocket when I need to get in and out.
I also left the buttons off the front of the pants this time. They are such a cute sailor-inspired detail, but I wanted these pants to be dress pants, and a little more plain. It’s hard for me to keep things plain and not add extra colors or details, but it helps that I love this purple and its soft and velvety texture.
Because these are 100% cotton, they do relax with wear. I find this really comfortable, although it does change where the pants sit on your waist as they relax. This can sometimes result in a rather low crotch, so keep this in mind. I sewed the size that my measurements put me in, a 22, but you may want to size up or down according to what you like. I have worn these a time or two before taking pictures, so this is a more relaxed fabric day.
I was very happy to have these finished with time to spare, especially because I signed up for some ‘panic sewing’ for one of my kids! I wasn’t the only one who wanted something nice for Christmas Eve!
So, my mission accomplished, I had something nice to pair with a sweater for Christmas Eve church as well as a pair of dress pants I really like in my wardrobe. And I even got my other sewing projects done on time! More on those later, hopefully. 🙂
My vest is finally done!!! I’m so excited to share it with you!
This vest began several years ago, when I saw a cool Patagonia outerwear vest with a Western-style yoke in a surprising color combination at Nordstrom. (Nordstrom is a great place to “shop” for inspiration!) While I know that Patagonia is a great company that produces clothes of excellent quality, it is not in my price range. So, I filed away the idea for later and moved on. (Sadly, I can’t find a picture of my inspiration vest in my files, but here are the ones that I looked at while planning this project–women’s, men’s.)
I had seen it at the store on a previous trip, and always wished I had bought some, so this time I did. My initial idea? A winter snap-front skirt to wear over leggings. I love those short, insulated skirts for winter! My Mom looked at the fabric, though, and suggested making a vest. At first I ruled it out, but as I thought more and more about the idea, I realized that it was a good one. I would wear a vest more than a skirt and it would fit me longer if I sized it correctly. And I remembered that Patagonia vest from way back. That’s when I got excited.
Deciding on all the specifics of fabric and pattern and any tweaks I wanted to make took a long time. My fabrics were originally not very cozy (other than the insulated canvas) because I was going purely on colors that worked together, but eventually, with input from my family, I decided to use a beloved piece of wool for my yoke that I have had in my stash for I don’t know how long, just waiting for the right project. At that point, I needed to rethink my lining layer to make everything look good together. I found a cream colored Polartec 200 Thermal Pro curly fleece online at The Rain Shed that was on sale, and looked like it just might work. I ordered it with some pocket zippers and bit the bullet on the insane shipping cost (so expensive!) since the fabric itself was such a good price.
The fabric was perfection with what I already had, but the hardware wasn’t quite there yet. I ditched my first zipper idea and ordered some metal ones with brass pulls from zipit on Etsy.
I have used their zippers before, and they are pretty cool looking. Brass heavy duty snaps from Joann Fabrics completed my hardware search.
There is a women’s vest, but I was outside the size range, and it didn’t seem like a big deal to curve out the hips on the men’s one if necessary. Time to get started!
The goal? Create an outerwear vest with the Western yoke of the Patagonia example that would be large and roomy enough to fit over my bulkiest sweater and thickest fleece leggings or jeans. And make it cozy! In order to get the fit I wanted, I followed the pattern’s directions to take measurements over the clothes I wanted to wear the vest with. This put me at a chest and waist size XL, and a hip size 2XL.
To keep this post from getting too long, I’ll list out the tweaks I made to the pattern instead of talking through them. Here’s what I changed:
*created a yoke piece to attach to the outer layer of the vest, front and back
*graded the hips out to a larger size, which meant that the side of the handwarmer pockets needed to be reshaped, and the angle of the pocket zippers needed to change to mirror the angle of the hips
*created a longer back hem that curved down by tracing a vintage Woolrich puffer vest; this is also a feature on the Patagonia vests I linked to
*created a pattern piece for wool strips that would attach to the fleece; I planned to fuse interfacing to the wool strips, hoping that this would be a more stable option for the snaps to attach to rather than the fleece (I previously made a fleece cardigan using sew-in interfacing, and a few of the anorak snaps I used as closures pulled away from my fleece–I was hoping to prevent that here)
*stay-stitched the yoke so nothing would stretch out
*flipped the directions so that my inner layer would have zipper pockets and my outer layer would have hand warmer pockets
*used leftover woven Supplex from this project for my zipper pockets and half of my handwarmer pockets rather than the canvas and fleece to reduce bulk
By the time I had decided on all these little details, I started to get nervous that I was going to forget something! I had already forgotten that the seam allowance on this pattern was 3/8″, and ended up creating the pattern for my wool strips with one side having a 3/8″ seam allowance and the other one having a 5/8″ seam allowance.
Before beginning anything, though, I had to prewash all my fabric, which included that insulated canvas. The canvas is quilted to a batting layer which has a scrim, but no additional fabric.
I didn’t want it to get messed up in the washer, so I basted an old sheet onto the back side, put a few safety pins in the middle to sort of pin-baste it, and threw it in the washer. Luckily, it worked! I just seam-ripped the sheet off after it was all done and saved it for another purpose.
Once I was ready to cut everything out…I had to stop. Just before cutting I realized (thankfully) that the brick quilting pattern on the canvas needed to be lined up as much as possible so the horizontal lines matched! I got things as close as I could. The quilting wasn’t always possible to line up perfectly, whether because of shrinkage from prewashing or because it wasn’t exact. I got it done, though, and then it was on to the Polartec fleece–but wait! This had a nap, which means it’s a directional fabric–you want the fleece to all lie in the proper direction! Back through the cobwebs of my memory floated the time I had accidentally cut curly fleece upside down for a sweatshirt project and had to recut it. Didn’t want to do that again! Ok. Fleece all cut out, it was on to the yoke. But I wanted that on the bias since it would look nice that way and–oh! The shoulders needed to be pattern matched!
It was crazy. Every time I thought something would be straightforward, it wasn’t, but nevertheless, I’m so very thankful I realized those things before I cut all the layers out.
I think it’s fair to say I procrastinated a lot on this project. Any time I knew I would have to do something tricky or scary, I paused, but eventually I would forge ahead, hoping it would turn out all right. And luckily, it did. The pattern instructions were very good, and the vest was really interesting to sew. I used my regular sewing machine for construction and my serger for finishing seams, although you don’t need one. The instructions tell you to finish your seams with a zigzag stitch.
I completed this just in time for some really cold weather that came our way. And I love it!
Now don’t be fooled–this vest is a massive beast of winter. This is no lightweight indoor vest. It’s big and a little bit heavy, though not uncomfortably so.
It has plenty of extra ease to go over my biggest sweater (just like I hoped!), and it’s so nice and warm. That collar can really keep out the wind, too!
Happily, it’s just what I wanted, and all the design and hardware choices really combined to make it look professional and rugged. And it’s reversible! Even the snaps!
Both the pattern and the snap pack mentioned that you can use the decorative snap caps on both sides to make your project reversible, so I tried it and it worked! Success!
Now I have one more unique garment that fits me just right for winter. Yay!
Hi, everyone! I’m back with some craft goals for 2022. I look forward to sharing the projects I was working on in December with you soon, but it seems appropriate to start off the year with a post about goals.
I don’t usually make New Year’s Resolutions. I’m not for or against them, I just don’t usually make them. I did like the idea of setting some goals in my creative practice for this year, though. Maybe they won’t all happen, but I’m going to see what I can do.
While sewing my own clothing is my main hobby, I enjoy knitting, sewing non-clothing items once in awhile, and dipping my toe into other crafts as well. Because of that, I wanted to set craft goals, rather than just sewing goals for the year. So, here’s what I’ve got!
#1: Make shoes
Yes, shoes. No, I’m not kidding.
Over the last few years, I have seen more and more people in the sewing community try this out, and I really want to make some shoes of my own. I own a lot of sewing and knitting tools, and I’m not looking for a new hobby with a thousand new tools, but I want to at least dip my toe in. I would love to try leather sandals, tennis shoes from a kit, or clog sandals at some point, because they all sound doable without investing in too many new tools or materials. To help me on my quest, my in-laws got me the book The Sandalmaking Workshop by Rachel Corry.
I think I would like to try combining a few of the styles unless I see or imagine a style I like even more.
Alternatively, the Chicago School of Shoemaking and Leather Arts has tennis shoe/sneaker kits, and I have seen wooden clog bases on various websites like Etsy. Just think–if I could make my own shoes, I would have the power to create an entire outfit if I wanted to! I love the idea that I could make an entire outfit.
#2: Knit colorwork mittens
Since coming back to knitting, I have discovered that colorwork/stranded knitting is my (current) favorite kind of knitting. I LOVE color! And I love having multiple colors in a given piece of clothing. While I have some excellent lined mittens, I really want to make some colorwork mittens, at least once. When hunting around for patterns, I found the Northman Mittens by David Schulz, which are lined, and look super warm. Once it gets cold out, I either need two pairs of handknit mittens to wear one on top of the other, or a pair of lined mittens. These should fit the bill. However, my impatience being what it is, I thought it best to start with something faster. That’s why I would like to begin with the Speedy Selbu Mittens by Skeindeer Knits, which should work when it’s not bitterly cold.
Since these mittens are knit from a worsted weight yarn, which is thicker and quicker to knit than thinner yarns, these seemed like a good way to try this style of mitten out and see if I like it enough to go on to the Northman Mittens or something else that will take a bit longer. Once I finish the socks I’m working on, I hope to start…if I don’t get distracted by something else. Haha–the lure of the new and shiny is real!
#3: Make a Western style shirt
I have had this on my to-make list for so long! I just need to do it! Whenever I want to make a pattern that I think will be complicated, or that I will have to change a lot, I tend to procrastinate. The pattern I have chosen, McCall’s 6262 from 1992 looks great, but has normal cuffs.
I really wanted those decorative shotgun cuffs, but knew I would have to change the pattern up in order to get them. I found a great article called “Updating the Cowboy Shirt” by David Page Coffin in Threads magazine #67 (October/November 1996) that details how to do this, but the extra time and energy required to figure it all out put me off.
At this point, I think it’s more important to try the general style than it is to have every bell and whistle, so my current thought is that I should make the pattern as is, and if I like it, expand from there with future shirts.
#4: Make a leather bag of some sort
This is yet another project I have wanted to do for some time, but haven’t gotten around to. It’s not that I haven’t ever made anything with leather. I made my friends some clutches several years ago. It’s more that I would like to sew with leather a little bit more often, and it’s been long enough that I need to break the ice again. I made this goal vague enough that I can make something super basic like a little envelope clutch or zipper pouch, or slightly larger, like a cross-body bag. I have had the book containing these projects for a little while now, and just need to dive in.
I don’t know much about leather types and thicknesses, but doing a project will help me learn.
#5: Sew a humpback whale stuffed animal
Haha–this is oddly specific, right? I know. I got this cute Humbpack Whale pattern by Crafty Kooka from one of my kids for Christmas, and I put it on this list because I want to make sure I make it!
We got our first ever new couch this past year, and I think it needs a cute whale to live on it! OK, the truth is, I just want an excuse to make a whale. I don’t know if it will really live on the couch or not. I just want to make one. While I have made simple stuffed animals in the past, this pattern has some new-to-me techniques, and I’m excited to try using safety eyes for the first time.
Now we get to the “maybes” on my list of goals. I haven’t decided if I am committed to these last two, mainly because they don’t sound like quite as much fun to me as the previous ones, but here they are, nonetheless.
Possible goal #6: Make more undergarments
Because I don’t share these on the blog or really anywhere, and because some bras can require more precise fitting, I don’t find these quite as much fun to make. The undergarments I have made for myself have been, for the most part, superior to those I buy in the store, even when I don’t get the fit perfect, but I have a harder time motivating myself to sew them. That being said, it would make a big difference to my wardrobe if I could really get the fit down on a few patterns. I’m close, but like I said, motivation is a little lacking… Do I try to push through, or stick to the things that are more fun? I’m still trying to decide.
Possible goal #7: Learn one or more new serger techniques
I have had my Juki MO-654DE serger for over a year now, and I absolutely love it. Have I learned to do anything other than thread it and push the power pedal? Nope! This potential goal is much like the one above in that it’s not a “fun” goal in my mind. It means I need to slow down on a project and learn something that will take more time, and I’m sorry to admit that I don’t always like to do that. Once I have prepped and traced my pattern and cut out my project, I want to follow the directions and finish the project as quickly as possible so I can GET IT ON MY BODY! Despite this, I know that learning even a few more aspects of my machine would give me more options. Luckily, I also got Serger 101 by Katrina Walker as a Christmas gift. This book looks like it has a lot of great information laid out in a clear, easy-to-follow format. Now I just need to use it!
So that’s what I’m thinking! In order to actually remember and accomplish these goals, I’ll have to make sure I put them where I can see them and check them off when I finish each one. If I don’t, that lure of the new and shiny I mentioned will go into effect, and I’ll forget them as new seasons and project ideas roll in. If I focus on completing them, though, I’ll learn new things and push forward into areas I have been wanting to explore. Making something new that maybe five years ago you had no idea you even could make at home brings with it a feeling like no other. Being able to say, “I MADE this!” is amazing. And we can make a lot of things! It’s so cool!
What about you? Do you have craft goals for this year? Share below! I love to hear about what other people are planning.
We’re in the last few weeks of fall, winter starts on December 21, and the temperature is dropping! Time to work on cold-weather clothes. Yay! Now, I’m not talking about coats. That’s an area I haven’t yet explored. I’m talking about the clothes you wear throughout your day.
I don’t live in the coldest place in all the world, but it does get cold here in Massachusetts. We usually have a respectable amount of snow, and the temperature spends plenty of time below freezing. I get cold. But the Alaskan proverb I used as part of the title of this post has proven true for me. I have learned how to layer, and in order to do that, I need clothes with some room in them, unless they are made of stretchy, warm fabric. So let’s talk patterns and fabric that will work for winter and winter layering!
During the cold months, I typically wear a camisole, t-shirt, sweater/sweatshirt, and then sometimes another sweater, vest, or flannel shirt over that, if I’m really cold. I love the idea of wearing cute woven tops, but I always reach for the knit t-shirts. If you find that you do the same, here are a few to try:
This t-shirt is “a classic relaxed fit t-shirt sewing pattern”, according to Thread Theory’s website. It looks like the perfect everyday t-shirt. Thread Theory pays meticulous attention to detail, so you know that any pattern from them will be high quality. They also have a men’s version of this pattern here.
Not only am I excited about this pattern because I know Thread Theory creates great things, I’m also excited that it’s being shown as a pattern you can do real work in (check out the other pictures in the pattern listing on the site to see what I mean). No, I don’t work on a farm (at least not yet), or on a construction site, but I still like clothes I can “get things done” in. I work in my home, and I need to be able to do a million different jobs in my everyday clothes, not to mention that I love quality workwear as a clothing type for its design and durability.
Another pattern that I have long wanted to try, but haven’t yet is Vogue 8950, which is one of their “Very Easy Vogue” patterns.
This pattern would be great with leggings or if you need a shirt long enough to tuck in. It could also help you use some smaller off-cuts of fabric you might have around for the back, chest, and shoulder sections.
Another top that you could take in a lot of different directions (base layer, fancy top, everyday shirt, sweater) is Burda Style 6990.
This raglan top can have a wide or narrow neckline, mock turtle, turtle neck, or cowl neck, as well as a few different lengths. I wish Burda Style’s size range was more expansive, but regardless, it looks like a good pattern, and is listed as “super easy”.
For a raglan with a few different options, but more expansive sizing, check out the Visby Henley from Itch to Stitch.
I made this last year, and found it to be a great pattern.
Pants and Leggings
I like two types of bottoms in the winter: either woven pants with room for long underwear underneath or leggings–the cozier the fabric, the better.
The woven pants I’m excited about this winter are from Simplicity 8391*, a pattern I have really grown to love.
The pants in this pattern are cropped, but it’s easy to add length. My last pair was made from denim.
It would be a cinch to add another inch or two and make these from velveteen or wool (lined, of course), both of which I have in my stash. Keep the decorative buttons, like I did on my denim pair, for a cute sailor-inspired look, or leave them off and make straight/wide leg dress pants. It would be no problem to wear a pair of long underwear pants, leggings, or tights underneath for added warmth.
For an (almost) all-in-one option, what about the overalls from Kwik Sew 3897*?
I had sort of written this one off as not quite what I wanted until I saw Martha’s version of it on her blog, Buried Diamond. I absolutely love her overalls. In fact, I highly recommend her blog for some major sewing and bright color inspiration.
Now, let’s think about leggings! My favorite leggings in the colder months are the ones made from stretch fleece, like Polartec Power Stretch. I source most of my Polartec fleece online from Mill Yardage. My husband got me their complete swatch pack, since Polartec makes so many different types of fleece, and it has really helped me choose the right fabric for various projects, even when ordering from sites other than Mill Yardage. Power Stretch is one of my favorites.
I think it would be great used in the free Peg Legs Pattern from Patterns for Pirates.
From what I have read, they fit like compression leggings, so if you want that fit, use your size according to your measurements. If you want a slightly more relaxed everyday fit, go up one size.
I really can’t believe I haven’t tried this pattern yet. Not only is the the basic pattern free, they have created an add-on pattern with different options like side pockets, colorblocked side panels, a contour waistband, etc.
Now we need something to wear over the t-shirt or over the sweater that’s over the t-shirt. I’ve got it covered! (haha, no pun intended)
One very intriguing sweatshirt/sweater I found is Vogue 1635.
I hadn’t even noticed this pattern until I saw Lori’s version of it on her blog, Girls in the Garden. It’s a really interesting pattern that uses a zipper as a design element along one sleeve and up into the collar.
Just about the only woven shirts I wear when the weather gets cold are flannels and shirt jackets. Simplicity came out with a unisex pattern in three lengths that looks really cool. It’s Simplicity 9388, and I’ve already seen the longer version making the rounds on a few different blogs.
McCall’s 7913* is great if you have a pre-quilted fabric or if you want to quilt your own. This one is also unisex and has a shirt jacket or a vest option.
I love a good vest. Right now I’m in the process of making the Men’s Santiam Vest from The Green Pepper Patterns for myself, since the size range in the women’s version was a bit smaller than what I wanted.
I’m pretty excited about this one, but I seem to be sewing at a glacial pace these days, so it’s coming, but it’s not ready yet. I’m planning to use some insulated Carhartt canvas I got at Field’s Fabrics in Holland, MI this summer, and I’m going to line it in a curly Polartec fleece from The Rain Shed and add wool accents. So exciting!
I’m also interested in The Green Pepper’s pattern for the Plush Polar Jacket and Vest (#507). I have a gray fleece vest from L.L. Bean that I got in high school, and these days it’s a little snugger than I would like. I’d love to replace it with one that fits me better in a fun color. Someday!
If I wanted to dress up, I like Burda 7769, which I have had in my pattern library for a long time, but have never made.
It looks like they have reissued this pattern with updated photos. Wouldn’t it be cool in wool or velveteen? Yes, it would! I don’t need too many nicer-looking clothes these days, but I do need a few, and this would be fun.
One last vest that you could make look sporty or dressy is Simplicity 1499.
I made this once from a quilted flannel I upcycled, but I have never tried View C. That style could easily be made nice for when you want to look a little more put together.
Hopefully this has given you a few more winter things to try. I always love seeing pattern round-ups and people’s ideas of different patterns for different seasons. What are you sewing that you are excited about this season?
*For any patterns no longer listed on their company’s website, I have linked to Pattern Review, so you can see a picture of the pattern with line drawings. This usually means the pattern is out of print. Out of print patterns can often be found on third party websites like Etsy and eBay.
Hi, everyone! My blogging has certainly slowed down a bit, but I’m back today with a whole bunch of knitted hats I made over the last year or two that have yet to make an appearance on the blog. So uncharacteristic! Luckily, this means I have a good-sized group to share, some of which were real successes, and some of which missed the mark. Since my knitting skills are not as advanced as my sewing skills, this is pretty much par for the course. I love knitting hats, though, because I like wearing hats, and they are a smaller project, so they don’t take as long to knit as a sweater or something larger might. If you’re a knitter, maybe you’ll discover a new pattern here. Let’s dive in! First up, successes.
Hats that Worked!
Pattern: High Cliff
Pattern source/designer: the book Plum Dandi Knits by Alicia Plummer and Melissa Schaschwary; this pattern is by Melissa Schaschwary
Yarn: bulky; I used a really beautiful hand-dyed 85% wool/15% mohair yarn that I got from Pindrop Shop on Etsy during last year’s Black Friday sale.
Of all the hats here, this is my most successful and most recently made hat. I checked this book out from the library, and chose this pattern because I have been wanting to try cables again, and this just has one big one. It turned out to be really fun, interesting, and fast. I made this hat in three days of very occasional knitting. It probably helped that I made it an inch and a half shorter than the pattern calls for.
As for the yarn, it took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to use it for, but it was perfect for this hat. To my delight, the yarn sort of faded from one color to the other, reminding me of decorative corn where each kernel is a different color.
I still have to decide if it needs a pompom.
This hat fits great, and I have already worn it a lot. I love it!
Pattern: Ribbed Watchman’s Hat
Pattern source/designer: Channah Koppel
Yarn: worsted; Encore by Plymouth yarn, which is 75% acrylic/25% wool and is machine washable; I got this at Yarn on Front in Dowagiac, MI
This hat is actually a gift (shhh!), but I think I’m safe. I don’t think the intended recipient reads my blog. This was knit to said intended recipient’s requirements: a ribbed hat that is machine washable in yellow with a fold-up brim.
I’ve been really into the Twisted German Cast On lately, so I used that to cast on, and I knit to 11 inches before decreasing, rather than the 9.5 inches in the pattern, so that the brim could be turned up. This took me awhile, but not forever, and I think it turned out pretty well. Hopefully it’s well-received!
Pattern source/designer: Andrea Mowry of Drea Renee Knits
Yarn: fingering; Sock Yarn by Birch Dyeworks in colorway Pixie on a Bender, which is 80% superwash merino wool/20% nylon
Perennial by Kelbourne Woolens in Purple, which is 60% superwash merino wool/25% suri alpaca/15% nylon
Both yarns came from Pintuck & Purl; the Birch Dyeworks yarn was actually given to me by Maggie, the owner, for some socks we were going to knit together that we…uh…never really completed. I think we knit about half an inch before calling it quits. Haha.
New Technique: BRIOCHE KNITTING!
I am so proud of this hat. I had never successfully knit brioche before trying this hat, so I was barely hanging on through this whole pattern. There are a ton of mistakes in it, but due to my inexperience with brioche, I wasn’t sure how to fix them, and sometimes I’m sure I didn’t even notice them! Somehow, though, I made it through, and I love this hat. I think it is probably a little slouchier than it should be, but I don’t even care.
It’s really a testament to Andrea Mowry’s great patterns and YouTube video support that I even completed this. Someday I will have to try another brioche project to really get the technique down. One of my favorite things about this kind of knitting? It’s reversible!
As for the yarn, I love, love, love both of these yarns. Mary, the owner of Birch Dyeworks is a real artist who has an amazing eye for color, and is excellent in several crafting arenas. There are a lot of beautiful hand-dyed yarns out there, but Mary’s are some of my favorites. And the Perennial is soft and lovely. I have it in a few colors and definitely need to use it more. If I were to do this pattern again, I don’t know that I would use this exact color combination, but I would definitely look for colors that contrast like these do to really make the design stand out.
The Hat that Worked Some of the Time
Pattern source/designer: Wild Honey Design on Etsy; no longer available
Yarn: the blue and light pink hats are made from Comfort DK by Berroco in colors 2705 (light pink) and 2753 (indigo blue); this yarn is 50% super fine nylon/50% super fine acrylic; I got this at Coveted Yarn in Gloucester, MA
the purple, gray, and white hat is in worsted weight 100% Shetland wool yarn from Yates Farm in Vermont many years ago
This wasn’t a well-written pattern, but the color chart was a lot of fun. The pattern says to use Alafosslopi yarn, which is a bulky weight, but I have tried it in various yarns with various needle sizes to adjust the sizing. It looks like I didn’t take as many notes as I should have, but my first try in DK yarn gave me about a toddler or teddy bear sized hat. I often (though not exclusively) like natural materials, and before buying this Berroco Comfort DK, I confess to being a little bit snobby in my heart about yarn, only wanting to use wool or alpaca or something. This yarn really changed my mind. It is a delight to knit with and washes and wears great!
For my second try, I used larger needles and came up with a larger child’s size.
After that, I tried some of my worsted Shetland yarn that, for me, with my looser knitting, typically knits up to a bulky gauge. It worked, but the brim let the wind blow through while the colorwork section was pretty warm.
If I were to do this again with the same Shetland yarn, I would double the length of the brim so I could fold it up, and go up one needle size for a better fit in the colorwork area. I absolutely loved the look of this purple and gray hat, but in the end, I gave it away because I could tell I wouldn’t wear it if the wind blew through the part over my ears, and I was too lazy to alter it! I don’t like to go back into old projects. I’m still coming around to the idea that I can unravel knitwear that didn’t work out the way I wanted.
Despite the sparse directions, I have made enough of my own notes that I would definitely make this again. I love knitting hats and I love stranded colorwork, so this is a good project for me.
Hats that Did Not Work
Before we get to these, I’ll admit that these failed due to user error. I’m definitely still learning!
Yarn: worsted weight 100% Shetland yarn from Yates Farm in Vermont; this pattern calls for chunky weight yarn and this yarn knits to a bulky weight, plus I am a loose knitter, so that probably adds up to chunky, right?
This pattern looks so cool, and I dove in with some of my worsted weight Shetland yarn (I seriously have so much), but somewhere around Round 15, I messed something up, and I could never figure out what I had done. The hat fit fine, but it bugged me. Whatever mistake I had made obscured the design, so I gave the hat away.
I would love to try this again at some point. It’s a really cool design.
Pattern source/designer: Rachel Illsley of Unwind Knitwear
Yarn: white mystery cone yarn given to me by Maggie of Pintuck & Purl; I did a bleach test and it is a natural fiber–I’m guessing wool, maybe superwash; it’s fingering weight
Perennial by Kelbourne Woolens in Neon Coral, which is 60% superwash merino wool/25% suri alpaca/15% nylon; fingering weight; this also came from Pindrop Shop on Etsy during last year’s Black Friday sale
hand dyed lace weight yarn in Lilac Dreams from YouKnitIDye on Etsy; this is 72% ultrafine mohair/28% mulberry silk
So…you’re supposed to use DK weight yarn and lace weight mohair in this pattern. I didn’t have DK that I wanted to use, but I was excited about the colors I had in fingering weight with the mohair, so I held my two fingering yarns double to equal DK. That should have worked, in theory, but the Neon Coral yarn is definitely thinner than the white yarn. Also, I’m a loose knitter who doesn’t do gauge swatches for hats.
My hat came out huge. HUGE! It sort of looked like a toadstool hat when I was done with it. I probably should have only doubled the coral and not the white or just used fingering with the mohair. Oh. And I shouldn’t have made the large slouchy version.
I did eventually (after putting the hat in a long time out) unravel this one. The yarns were a little too special to just get rid of a hat that maybe no one would even want to wear. It was a beast to unravel, though, since I was unravelling five strands of yarn at once. Ugh.
You know, I usually never like leopard print, but I do like it in this hat. The colorwork chart is very interesting. It’s possible that I will revisit it someday. It’s definitely a cool pattern, even if I didn’t make it very well.
Whew! Now I’m all caught up on blogging my knit hats! Hopefully you will find a hat or two you might want to knit, or maybe you can laugh at my mistakes.
On the sewing front, I was actually starting to lose my sewjo, which has never happened to me before. I could never understand how people just stopped wanting to sew, but it began to happen to me. You know what I think it was? My work space was buried under piles and I had a million ideas, but hadn’t committed to a single one.
So, I cleaned up my space, and chose and committed to my next few projects. Then I made a plan to work on them a little bit most days. Now I’m back up and running, so I hope to have some projects to share with you soon. 🙂
It’s finally time to show you what I have been slowly working on since September! This was a fun project!
My husband and I were invited to a wedding at the end of October, so way back in August, I began to think about what I would make. As someone who sews primarily “every day” clothes and who is extremely casual, weddings are fun opportunities to make something a little bit fancier than what I usually wear. That typically just means a dress that I can add to my wardrobe and wear again after the wedding, but a dress is dressing up for me.
The Fibre Mood Mindy has been on my radar to make for over a year, so this was a great opportunity. I love the big sleeves and easy fit. I thought that adding a wide ruffle to the bottom would make it the perfect dress for me.
I originally thought I might make another True Bias Roscoe Blouse with it, as it’s definitely a shirt/dress weight linen. While thinking about a Roscoe and testing out some trims with it, I put this vintage trim next to the fabric, and even though the ribbon doesn’t have any kelly green in it, I loved them together. I didn’t have a lot of it, but I thought it would be best at the neckline and maybe the waist of this dress. I think the ribbon is from Brimfield many years ago, back when I first began going to the flea/antique market, and it’s been waiting for its chance to shine ever since.
Once I put these together, this fabric + trim combination was my color muse, and I began to work on all the little details that would make up the outfit. It was such a fun project. The aim wasn’t so much to stand out at the wedding, but just to put together an outfit that I really loved, filled with interesting details and color. And in the end, what I came up with really surprised me in a good way!
I’ll give you all the details on the outfit, with the sewing details*** at the end of the post for anyone else who is making this pattern.
None of the websites or links in this post are affiliate links–I just want to share where I found everything in case you need any of these types of things for projects of your own.
I found some clog-type sandals in gold on eBay for a great price. They are originally from Boden, and they were in good used condition.
Unfortunately, the straps were a bit tight over my toes. I had ordered them early, so I cleaned them up, and shoved some wooden shoe forms down in the the toes to stretch them out. After awhile, I wore them out for coffee with a friend just to see how they were doing. Good news! The stretching seemed to be working! I put the shoe forms back in, and kept stretching them and testing them out until the wedding. Phew! What a relief.
October in coastal Massachusetts can have variable weather. I remember the end of October being in the 40’s F as well as in the 70’s F, so a short-sleeved linen dress was a risk. I decided I needed some sort of shawl, and as I worked on my dress, I sometimes set it next to another bit of fabric that was teetering between light blue and mint green. It was a set of colors I never would have put together, but I loved them! That was the color I wanted my shawl to be! I looked on Amazon and ordered one, but it was too green, so I returned it. The next one was just right, though!
It was thin, but the wedding and reception were inside, so I hoped it would work!
Also in case of cold, I wanted some tights. There aren’t many tights patterns out there, and while I did find a pattern, I didn’t end up making tights for this dress. I found some in the perfect color on the We Love Color website.
I was inspired by Blair Eadie of Atlantic-Pacific, who often pairs colorful tights with her outfits. My “Color” board on Pinterest features a lot of her bright and beautiful outfits on it. Of course, now I want all the colorful tights, so sewing tights may well be in my future. Wouldn’t double brushed polyester tights be cozy?
and I also made my other undergarments. I won’t show those, but having made them and having them fit is its own win, so I wanted to at least mention them. If you are looking for some patterns to try, I recommend Megan Nielsen’s free Acacia underwear, available in two size ranges, and Orange Lingerie’s Marlborough Bra. Both are excellent.
Now for accessories! Thanks to the sister of a friend who was giving away samples from her sales job, I had a gold leather envelope clutch that was perfect. It is from russell + hazel, and the leather is so soft.
I found little gold and rhinestone earrings in my jewelry box that I have had since I was 14, but have probably never worn, since I don’t usually wear gold. They were perfect for this.
And lastly, I picked up a bottle of essie nail polish at CVS in the color “good as gold“.
I was ready!
The afternoon of the actual wedding was not too warm or too cold, so the whole outfit was perfect. I felt comfortable and colorful. The wedding was beautiful, and it was so much fun to go on a date with my husband to an actual party with friends.
Now I think it may be time for some cold-weather sewing and gift sewing!
Here are my notes on sewing the Mindy dress for anyone else who is thinking of making it.
My bust size put me at a US 16 (UK 20/EU 48) in this dress, but I cut out an 18 for a looser fit, since I could always take it in if it was too loose. I wanted to sew the dress largely as drafted, with the puffy sleeves rather than the butterfly sleeves, but with the addition of pockets and a bottom ruffle. Before cutting out my fabric, I also checked to see if I needed to change the dart height (nope!) or make a broad back adjustment (nope!). Those things noted, I added 5/8″ seam allowances everywhere except the hem, where I added a 1.25″ hem allowance. The pattern called for 2.75 yards of 55″ wide fabric. I had three yards of green linen at approximately that width, so I cut things out hoping I would have enough for my pockets and bottom ruffle. In the end, I did! I just had to cut my back facing on the cross grain. I was left with only a few narrow strips of fabric, but I got everything cut out.
This pattern has you construct the front of the dress and then the back before adding sleeves or joining the front and back together. I made sure to add my bottom ruffles as I was constructing the front and back. I checked my fit before adding the invisible zipper by pin basting the sides together. Everything was looking good, and a bit loose, so I decided that I would use slightly larger seam allowances and take things in a bit when I sewed the sides together. I guess I could have made the 16.
As for the zipper, I put it in, but I have never needed to use it. If I made this again, I think I would omit it. It’s easy to slide this dress on and off over your head. Attaching the straps came next. Everything was fine until you attach the strap + sleeve to the dress and then it got confusing. Is the strap supposed to be at an angle or perpendicular to the front? Mine ended up being more or less perpendicular. Make sure that when you get everything attached in step five and have to finish the raw edges together that you don’t trim any seam allowance off or it will impact the seam allowance when you attach the front facing.
Just before step six, which is sewing the front and back side seams together, I decided to attach my trim to the bodice and sleeve straps. I had figured things incorrectly when I was looking at the width of the sleeve straps and trim. The trim was wider than the sleeve straps, so after asking Maggie at Pintuck & Purl for her advice (she being my most advanced garment-sewing friend), I took the straps off, widened the pattern piece, and recut the sleeve straps out of scraps so I could try again. I wanted them to be just a little bit wider than my ribbon.
Then I reattached everything and very carefully, using instructions from The Vogue Sewing Book (revised edition, copyright 1975), I sewed on my trim, even mitering the corners.
After that, I only had enough ribbon left for the front of the bodice, so I sewed it on there, but when I tried it on, it looked…maternity-ish.
So, I moved the ribbon down below the underbust seam, and it made the dress look sort of wide and the seam look uneven. That was that. I took it off, and decided to just keep the trim around the neckline and shoulders.
If I sew this again, in addition to omitting the zipper, I will plan to lengthen the bodice by at least one inch. The same thing happened back when I made Simplicity 4111 in 2018. I think I have a larger and possibly lower bust than what these patterns are drafted for, so a lot of these empire waist seams end up on my bust rather than below it, which can lend a bit of a maternity look to a style that easily leans that way already. Since I don’t need a maternity dress, I would rather not look like I am wearing one.
Before sewing up the side seams completely, I added pockets. My pattern piece came from Simplicity 8689, as did the instructions I used for putting them in.
After that, it was just my hem left. I decided not to use the 1.25″ hem allowance, since I had accidentally added that to the skirt instead of the ruffle, but instead to serge my ruffle edge and then press it up twice, so I could preserve as much of the ruffle length as possible. This gave me a quarter inch hem and only took off one half inch, since I folded it up twice.
Although I don’t love the look of insides finished with a serger, generally speaking, I was soooo glad to have a serger for this project since it kept everything nice and neat inside. The only downside was having to weave in a billion serger tails. I think I will start practicing sewing over my tails when possible in the future.
Overall, this was an interesting dress to put together and a good pattern. I would consider making it again with the few changes I mentioned, and I’m really happy that I made it for this wedding. It was so much fun to have an outfit with details and colors that I loved–those are some of the best aspects of my favorite garments, and the longer I sew, the more convinced I am that colors and details are a big part of what makes a project go from good to great for me.
We pick sewing projects for different reasons–something you need in your wardrobe, putting your own spin on a designer garment you could never afford, using a favorite fabric, the desire to try an intriguing pattern. The Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant was my intriguing pattern. I had heard of Elizabeth Suzann, a slow-fashion designer, because of Lauren Taylor (known as Lladybird in the sewing community), who had previously worked for her. Many in the sewing community and beyond loved this brand, and there was a lot of buzz when Elizabeth Suzann decided to close her business, but made some of her garments available as sewing patterns for free. Eventually, she wrote directions for the patterns and re-released them with a pay-what-you-can model on her website.
I kept seeing her Clyde Work Pant pattern and was curious about what it would be like to make and how I would like the huge, curving pockets on the sides. They were so different from anything else in my wardrobe, and I never would have been able to afford a pair or have a chance to try them on when they were only available as ready-to-wear. So, having no money for patterns at the time, I took her up on the pay-what-you-can offer, and grabbed a free copy of the pattern.
At the time I wanted to make these, it was August. (I made them before the gingham top I shared a few weeks back.) My husband had given me a gift of enough rust orange linen to make these pants, so I printed the pattern and cut them out. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make my size or go up a size to make absolutely sure the waist would pull over my hips. In the end, I made a size 16 in the “regular” height, which is where my measurements put me, although I could have gone either way on the height, since I’m about 5′ 8.5″. I also wondered if the ankles would fit over my heels, but I decided to just jump in and see what happened.
The instructions were nice and clear with good illustrations. There was no specific recommendation for how to finish your seams, although if you looked closely at a few of the illustrations, it seemed like the edges were serged. Since I love the look of beautifully finished insides, especially in linen, I chose to use a combination of French and flat-felled seams. While this really did create beautiful insides with not a raw edge in sight, it turned out to be a poor choice for the fabric I was using.
I wouldn’t call my linen a loose weave, really, but after wearing these for just a short time, the stitching holes started to open up a little bit and raw edges began to pop out at stress points. This wasn’t because I didn’t do a good job of finishing–it was just that in this fabric with this pattern, the better choice would have been to serge without trimming or zigzag my seam allowances together, press them to the sides in most cases, and topstitch. That would have left my seam allowances intact or at least not super narrow and provided less of a chance for ends and edges to pop out.
I thought that I would have to start patching my new pants almost immediately, but it seems that just a wide satin stitch has, so far, taken care of the problem, while blending in pretty well. I have the most issues at stress points like the bottom corners of the pockets on the front, the tops of the front seams on the legs, and the right back calf.
The pants were a pretty quick sewing project, and were not too hard to make, which was great. The only part that was a little tricky/fiddly was the waistband. I really like the idea of how the elastic is inserted, but it can be a little tough to do it well. My advice is to go slowly. I also added a few more pins than recommended, in order to keep everything where I wanted it.
Also, the pockets really are huge. I could fit a book in there! They’re so fun.
As for fit, these pants are really interesting. They are definitely comfortable, and I have no trouble getting my waistband over my hips. The rise is really high, which I am guessing might be a way of ensuring that these pants fit many body shapes well, and also makes it possible to wear them at your natural waist or below, as you prefer.
Thankfully, I had no trouble getting the foot holes over my heels, though it’s a close fit.
Standing, these are very comfortable.
Sitting and crouching, I notice that they get more snug around the stress points I mentioned. I suppose that next time I could either size up, or adjust the lower legs to be slightly larger, or try the tall length. I still find them very comfortable, and wonder how they would be in a bottomweight cotton twill or something a bit more durable than the linen I chose.
As for the fabric…I know it didn’t work out perfectly, but…I just love it. It’s a100% midweight linen originally from Fabric Mart. I love the color so much, and it’s not usually a color I go for. It has been great pairing it with a pink linen shirt in summer and now my purple Wool & Honey sweater (pattern by Drea Renee Knits) in fall. It’s so soft and comfortable too. Is it a doomed love? Maybe. I hope these pants last, and I’m not happy that I may have to keep repairing them, but I love this fabric. These pants are agreat transitional garment between seasons.
This was a really fun pattern with wonderful instructions, and even though I made some choices that gave me a few issues, those weren’t the fault of the pattern, which is excellent. In fact, I would love to make them again, despite my poor track record for repeating patterns.
This month’s outside photography post is coming to you a little earlier than usual because…I still don’t have pictures of my latest sewing project. Sigh. Due to various factors, the pants have needed a few repairs already, and that’s held things up. Hopefully all will be ready soon! I do, however, have pictures of an interesting hike I went on with my family recently.
The North Shore of Massachusetts is filled with all sorts of cool nooks and crannies where you can hike, walk, and explore. Each town has spaces large and small, and it’s easy to live in the area for a long time and still find new places you have never seen. Last weekend, my family and I decided to check out Dogtown in Gloucester.
Dogtown, originally known as The Commons and founded in 1693, was once an inland settlement in Gloucester. The story is that since many of the women who lived there kept dogs around for protection while their husbands were off fighting in the Revolutionary War, the settlement became known as Dogtown. Over time, residents moved more toward the coast and, eventually, Dogtown was abandoned. The woods grew up where the settlement had been, and now it is filled with trails, both wide and narrow, that you can explore. You can still find numbered cellar holes from the old houses, as well as about three dozen rocks that were carved with various sayings during the Great Depression. These rocks, today known as Babson Boulders, were commissioned by Roger Babson, founder of Babson College, in order to provide work for Finnish quarry workers who needed income during the Great Depression. (All this information comes from the Essex National Heritage Area website. Read more here.)
We wanted to stick to some easier trails and check out some of the carved rocks, so we chose to walk Dogtown Road and the Babson Boulder Trail (you can find some trail maps on the Historic Ipswich website here). Dogtown Road is a broad, unpaved road that is easy to walk. We completely missed the initial turn for the Babson Boulder Trail, but since our route was a big loop, it didn’t really matter–we just did the walk in the opposite direction of what we had planned. This turned out to be a great thing because after walking awhile through beautiful woods, it became a treasure hunt as we started to spot some of the carved rocks. Once we turned onto the Babson Boulder Trail near Dogtown Square, the path became a more narrow woods path, rather than a wide road.
We found about a dozen of the rocks, including a few that didn’t really have sayings, so much, but were still fun to find (Moraine, D.T. Sq., and To Rockport, which I don’t have a good picture of).
We also decided to see if we could find mushrooms in every color of the rainbow, and we almost managed it! We found them in every color except blue, although our purple one looks a little blue in these pictures.
It was a beautiful walk, but it did take a little longer than we had anticipated. We’re not the fastest walkers, but my husband had estimated it would take us about 40 minutes. It was more like two hours. Oops. I thought it was fun, but we did get a little hangry by the end, and it was a bit long for the kids, even though it wasn’t hard walking. No regrets on going, though! And I would definitely explore more in that area. There were a lot of Babson Boulders we never found, and we didn’t really try to find the numbered cellar holes, although we passed a few, so there’s always that, too.
If you decide to check out Dogtown, make sure to bring a map and maybe a compass–there’s lots to explore.
Today’s project is my last one of the summer. There is one other I have to share from the warm season, but it’s a bit more transitional, so this one is up first! This is the Lola Top from the tenth issue of Fibre Mood magazine, a sewing magazine out of Belgium.
This issue came out in 2020 with so many good summer patterns, that I had to order it. It took what felt like ages to get here, but it was worth it! It’s only this year, at the end of summer 2021 that I have gotten around to making any of these patterns.
I approached the sewing of this top with a certain level of arrogance. I don’t like arrogance in others, and I try to stamp it out in myself, but something set me off, and I admit that I started sewing this project with a little bit of arrogance. Maybe it was having to add seam allowances, some of which were one size and some another, sometimes not even a size used in American sewing (1/6″??!!). That annoyed me, so I added 5/8″ to all my seams and 1.25″ to my hems and moved on. And the sizing between the magazine and the online directions was confusing, too–EU/US/UK–you had to figure out what size you were in inches (for me, at least), and find your US size, but make sure you traced your EU size from the magazine. At that point, I made the mistake of thinking I knew better than the pattern.
In general, I like to trust the pattern. I know the designer has worked hard on their directions, and I like to go on autopilot and sew through those directions after having done the work of tracing, adjusting the flat pattern, and cutting out my fabric. Follow the steps in the pattern, and you almost always get a great garment. But that request for a 1/6″ seam allowance really threw me.
Then there were a few confusing parts in step 3, which made me doubt the directions even more. Arrogance and frustration surged ahead, until I started to question all the directions!
But then…I started to figure things out…and then I saw that the directions were good…I just wasn’t used to them yet. I did need to trust the pattern. It was, in fact, trustworthy, but I hadn’t given it a real chance. Feels like there might be a life lesson or two buried in all of this. 😉
Luckily, I managed to get rid of my pride and arrogance once I settled into sewing this pattern, and in the end, it came out great.
That’s not to say there wasn’t an issue or two. Piece number 9, the bias strip for finishing the armhole, should be an inch or two longer for my size (US 16/UK 20/EU 48 bust and US 18/UK 22/EU 50 hip). Luckily I used some silk bias tape I had made for another project, and I had extra, since I originally cut my strips to the size of piece 9, and they were too short.
Piece number 5, the center back piece, should also be 1.5″ taller to cover your bra band. I added in some decorative ribbon to bridge the gap, but if I made this again, I would lengthen that piece.
Once I got going, though, I really enjoyed making this. I was able to make most of it on a day that I unexpectedly had several hours to sew. I can’t remember the last time that happened! I put on some music and got to it! I was also really excited about this fabric. I’m sorry to say that I have often thought of Joann Fabrics as “the place fabric goes to die”. In the past, they have sometimes had great prints on poor quality cloth, but in recent years, they have started bringing in some better options. This 100% cotton seersucker gingham was from their POP! line for kids. I have found a couple of exciting fabrics (for me) in this line. I love the color and quality of this seersucker, and looking at it while sewing just made me more excited to wear it.
The pattern is a really interesting, unique design. I managed to finish this project a few days before fall officially started, when the weather was beautiful and warm without being hot. I immediately threw it in the washer to get the sewing marker out, and then ironed it and wore it as soon as I could! I love it! It feels really unique and fun, which is generally how I want my clothes to feel.
So, at the end of this pattern, I can say I did learn a sewing lesson. Trust the pattern until you find out you can’t, and approach your sewing practice with humility. I guess there is a life lesson there, because I think you should also approach life with humility. So there you go–sewing really is more than just a pleasant way to pass the time–it’s also occasionally a font of wisdom. 😉
P.S. Here are a few outtakes for you. My Mom sent us this blonde wig for fun and we clipped on some rainbow hair–it’s a makeover! Haha.
I can’t believe it’s already the end of September! I’m both really sad to see summer go (warm weather! fun outdoor adventures!), but am also excited for the cooler weather of fall and all the beauty of the changing leaves. Summer is dreamy in this part of Massachusetts, but fall seems to have been tailor-made for New England. Here are some pictures of the last bits and pieces of summer. Enjoy!
Are you familiar with foxglove AKA spotted touch-me-not? It’s a really beautiful plant. The “touch-me-not” part of its common name comes from the seed pods. You can see one on the left–it’s green and skinny. If you squeeze one lightly, it springs open, shooting the seeds out! It doesn’t shoot them out hard enough to hurt, just to scatter them around. Check it out.
There are three little seeds, although I don’t know if that’s always the case. The seed pod goes from straight, to all curled up after springing open. Here’s one more picture with the different sides of the seed pod separated out.
See the little curly-q’s? Isn’t that interesting?
The shape of these goldenrod buds is so cool! I keep stopping to look at them!
I really hope you had a good summer. I’ll be back soon, hopefully, to share my last summer sewing projects with you–I managed to squeeze a few in. They were so much fun to make–and even more fun to wear!