Refashion: Down Jacket Into Down Skirt…or…Struggle. Victory.

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Refashion:  Down Jacket Into Down Skirt…or…Struggle.  Victory.

It was a grey and stormy day when I finally cut into a project I had long been contemplating.  It was a refashion, but not just any refashion.  This one involved sewing with a material I had never tried before:  a down jacket.  I had chosen the patterns that were going to help me achieve my goal and planned a little more than half of the project, but there were still questions in my mind about how I was going to finish the rest.  Inspiration images had been pinned to my Pinterest board, but still I mulled it over…until the snow day.  It was finally time.

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

I had already been scheming about refashioning a down jacket into a scarf after seeing these ones, which was the product of a collaboration between Patagonia and Alabama Chanin, but my down-sewing plans expanded when we visited Colorado last winter and I saw a woman wearing a down skirt.  It was such a brilliant idea.

Google revealed that down skirts are actually a thing, even though the Colorado one was the only one I had seen in real life.  So, after a ton of thought, I chose New Look 6843 for the skirt portion, and the waistband from the leggings in McCall’s 7261 for my stretchy waistband.  Since I wanted this to be a pull-on skirt, a waistband and some gores/gussets/godets in the side of the skirt were in order (after seeing the skirt, you can tell me which term is the right one for what I did 😉 ).

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

I managed to turn the back skirt into a single piece and eliminate the zipper.  All of that fit onto the back of the coat, allowing me to use the bottom of the coat as my hem.  It got tricky when I came to the front because that was supposed to be one piece, too.  I really wanted to incorporate the coat zipper in a decorative way (although I planned to sew it shut), and I also wanted the pockets both for decorative and functional purposes, but in the end, it was too much of a struggle.  I realized that by opening my sleeves and sewing them together, I would have enough for my front piece.  I still had plenty of the stretchy fleece left from my Toaster Sweaters for my waistband and gores/gussets/godets.  Then it was all construction.

This is probably the point when you are asking how in the world I cut and sewed that crazy stuff.  That is a very important question.  Here is what I did:  I marked my cutting lines with a water-soluble pen and sewed with a straight stitch on either side of my cut line in the hopes that it would hold all the down in.

Do you think it worked?

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Well, it sort of did.  Not ALL of the down came out.  But some did.  Here’s how I had to sew.

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

You can’t see it in this picture, but I also had pink-eye (conjunctivitis) at the time.  Nice, huh?  (Luckily no down got in my eye.  That would have been…um…gross.)

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

I had the BRILLIANT idea of vacuuming off the edges after I cut them.  I do not recommend this.  Maybe you thought of the problem with this.  It actually dislodged things, so it was sort of like it was snowing outside and snowing inside.  That was the point at which I realized I really needed to get this finished that same day.  We had some sickness in our house that week, and I wasn’t feeling my best, but I decided to power through in the hopes that it was all in my head.  (It wasn’t all in my head, but I powered through anyway!)

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

I also realized that I needed to cover every seam on the inside if I didn’t want to perpetually shed feathers.  This was the point where things got a little…”Becky-home-ecky” (sorry if your name is Becky).  The finishing, while functional and necessary, didn’t meet the vision I had in my head, but I was sort of racing against the down and my nausea.  The good news is, when I’m wearing it, I think it looks like something I could have bought at an outdoor store.  (If you disagree, you don’t have to tell me.)  It’s only if you get up close or look inside that you see the craziness, and since people don’t do that when I’m wearing it (thank goodness!), I think I’m safe.  Want to see it?  Check it out!

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

This skirt has the added benefit of a little puffy booty enhancement up top.  It’s too high for people to think you pooped in your pants, so I like to think of it as booty enhancement.  Maybe it’s because I sewed all the darts in the skirt, even though I basically negated them with those side triangles.  I needed the triangles, though because if you’re going to eliminate the zipper, you need some way to get your skirt on!

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Skirt front (above)

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Skirt back (above)

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Side view (above). I folded the front of the skirt down at the top a bit because it was originally higher in the front and lower in the back, but that feels weird to me.  I want it the other way around.

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Inside front (above).  I covered my seams with fleece, but didn’t sew with a wide enough seam allowance, so I ended up sewing extra lines and hand-tacking things just to get all those feathery seams covered.  I also covered my top seams with wide fold-over-elastic (although I didn’t fold it), and used a zig-zag stitch to hold it down and allow for a little stretch at the waist.  That doesn’t look great, either, but again, you don’t really notice it that much when I’m wearing it, so whatever!

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Inside back (above)

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Inside side view (above).  Here’s where it started to get ugly, but I just wanted to finish at this point.  It was helpful to have the coat lining as a lining for my skirt because I could hand tack the fleece to it.

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Despite any deficiencies in the finishing, I LOVE THIS SKIRT!!!!  When I wear it, I feel ready to take on winter!  The fit is great and it is so cozy that I wore it for two days straight after making it (and vacuuming my work room a.k.a. our living room…twice).  In January I made these fleece leggings and the Toaster Sweater that I’m wearing in this picture, and this outfit is pretty much winter perfection.  I love it so much.

After I finished, I contemplated making a scarf from the remnant of the jackets, but I decided to just put it away for now.  I DID NOT like sewing with all that down.  However…my husband had the brilliant idea to make a scarf from it in the summer…while sewing outside.  He’s so smart!

Recommendations

  • On Wednesday I made the Blueberry Poppyseed Snacking Cake from the Seven Spoons cookbook, and now I just want to eat that all the time.  I know this would be unwise, so I gave the last piece away before I could eat it.
  • I have some old gaiters from L.L. Bean that I just love.  They don’t sell the exact style I have anymore, so this is the closest I could find, but they are great if it’s snowy out and I don’t feel like putting snow pants on.  I can walk through several inches of snow without it getting in my shoes or on my pants.  I used them for a walk on Thursday, and it just reminded me of how much I love them.
  • Is orange the new black?  Are doughnuts the new croissants?  Do you like to say that _____ is the new ______ ?  Then check out this fun and funny website, where each time you click, you get a new ‘this is the new that’.
  • This week I found out that everything is better with doodles.  😉

2017 Make Nine

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2017 Make Nine

It may be a little late in the year to talk about 2017 Make Nine plans, since most people do that in January, but I never ended up posting about my goals for this challenge, and I’ve actually been working toward them this year, so I thought it would be fun to give an update on my progress so far.

If you haven’t heard of this idea, it’s a challenge that was started last year by Rochelle New of the blog Lucky Lucille (and owner of Home Row Fiber Co.).  You can read all about her goals for this year and ideas behind the challenge here.  It’s a fun way to challenge yourself as a sewist/sewer/seamstress/whatever by picking nine things you’d like to sew for the year.

Last year, I jumped on board, and then promptly forgot about my plans.  In the end (when I remembered), I looked back and found that I actually had made most of my 2016 Make Nine goals, but not really on purpose.  This year, I decided I would actually remember my plans and actively work to complete them.  So here we are.  I took a picture of all my patterns.  Check ’em out with notes on their current state:

2017 Make Nine Project

Top Row, left to right:

  1. Toaster Sweater #1 by Sew House Seven
  2. Coppelia by Papercut Patterns
  3. Gallery Tunic + Dress by Liesl + Co.

Middle Row, left to right:

  1. Simplicity 2255, already a favorite of mine
  2. Simplicity 1538, one of my TNT patterns
  3. Butterick 4259 (out of print)

Bottom Row, left to right:

  1. Simplicity 1696
  2. Simplicity 8014
  3. Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

I printed out a picture of my patterns so I could make notes on it and actually remember my ideas.  I’m fitting other projects in here and there, but I’ve already begun working on these.  I have each pattern traced and adjusted with the exception of a long sleeve I need to trace for Simplicity 2255.  I think I’d like to borrow the sleeve from Simplicity 1538 and see if I can meld it with the one already in Simplicity 2255.

Each of my cooler weather patterns has also been cut out (or, in the case of the Gallery Tunic and the pants on the bottom left, cut out in muslin form).  That means that the top and bottom rows are at least ready for me to sew in one form or another.  The middle row will wait until spring sewing, most likely.  Here’s where I’m at with the ones that have been cut out:

Toaster Sweater:  DONE!  (It feels good to type that.)

I made two versions in fleece, which are already blogged here.

2017 Make Nine

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2017 Make Nine Project

I have worn these sweatshirts a ton.  They’re very cozy.

Coppelia:  DONE!

I’ve made both a long and short version of the Coppelia Cardi, which is yet to be blogged (because I need more pictures of the short version).

2017 Make Nine Project

Long version, faux wrap (above).

2017 Make Nine Project

Short version (above).

Gallery Tunic:  muslined.  This one is not for me, and the recipient is at a distance, so a muslin was definitely called for.  Despite this aberration, I do not sew for other people.  This just slipped out of my machine somehow.  😉

2017 Make Nine Project

Simplicity 1696 (pants):  muslin is cut out.  I think muslins are very valuable, but I really hate doing them, so I’ve been procrastinating on this FOREVER.  I procrastinated on this one even longer than the Gallery Tunic, but it’s finally cut out so that I can procrastinate on sewing it.

2017 Make Nine

Simplicity 8014 (dress): cut out.  I cut this one from another Robert Kaufman Mammoth Plaid, and I’m attempting to underline it with Bemberg Rayon so it won’t catch on the leggings I plan to wear underneath my cozy, cozy dress.  This has a ton of pieces, especially when adding an underlining, and I was squeezing it out of the end of the bolt, so I’m really hoping the plaid matching turns out ok.  I was pretty nervous cutting it out–I had to give myself lots of pep talks.  😉

2017 Make Nine Project

And lastly, Jutland Pants:  cut out in gray canvas.  When I realized that the Jutland Pants I had made for my husband actually fit me, too, I decided I wanted a pair of my own.  I came late to the skinny jean party, but even after only a few years of wearing them, wearing straight leg pants like these is heaven!  I want to try the cargo pattern, but with patch pockets on the front and no side cargo pockets.  I’m still not sure about the knee patches, but I think the back pockets may need some fun customization.

2017 Make Nine Project

So that’s where I’m at in the challenge!  It’s pretty fun so far.  I made sure to only include things I really wanted to make and wear.  This gives me a little extra push to get through the hard stuff, like muslins and such.  I’ve also gotten fast enough that I can do other little projects (yet to be blogged) in between, so it’s both fun and flexible.  What about you?  Have you decided to come up with your own 2017 Make Nine?

 

Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

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Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

Hey, friends!  I missed you last week.  My plans to take some outdoor pictures for my ‘Outside in January’ post were thwarted by family sickness, so that post never happened.  Thanks to my ‘Instagram Husband’ photographer and some nice weather on Saturday, though, I’m back with another sewing post for you.  Today’s creation is the new Toaster Sweater by Sew House Seven.  I was severely tempted to make a sweater for my toaster or pose with a toaster, but I resisted and went for something more basic.  😉

Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

This creation is brought to you by my getting caught up in the wave of cozy versions of this sweater floating around the sewing internet.  I often get caught up in these things, but rarely give in.  This time, I not only got caught up, I bought the PDF version of this pattern, something I almost never do!  I’m not a big fan of PDF’s from a user end.  They are a great way for a new company to get their patterns out into the world for a lower start-up cost, but from a sewing perspective, I’d always rather have a paper pattern.  Sometimes I will even pass on a pattern I like if it doesn’t come in a paper version.  This time, though, I realized that I could buy the PDF of the single view that I wanted (the pattern comes with two views) for less than the price of the paper or full PDF pattern, and I could have it NOW.

I already had my fabric, some Polartec Power Stretch (at least I think it’s Power Stretch) that I bought this past summer at one of my favorite fabric stores in Michigan, Field’s Fabrics.  It was just waiting for the right pattern.  And this was it.

The Details

This is a great pattern and a fast sew.  There aren’t too many pieces, and the instructions are great, which makes the construction feel really simple in a good way.  I made this before making the Coppelia Cardi from Papercut Patterns, and I’m glad I did.  The helpful advice about double stitching is something I’ve been using in all my recent knit projects.

Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

I had all these plans to alter the pattern before getting started.  I wanted to lengthen it and grade the hips out to a larger size, etc., etc., but in the end I made a straight size large for the first version.  I had two colors of fleece, so I figured the first could be a wearable muslin, and I could change things up for the second if I wanted to.  In the end, all I changed for number two was to add another inch in width to the bottom band so that, hopefully, the sweater/sweatshirt would hang down over my hips, rather than sort of sitting on top of them.  I’m not sure that this made a huge difference, but the good news is that both versions are really great.

Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

Here are some knit sewing construction details for anyone who is interested.  I used a 90/14 stretch needle (Schmetz brand) and a walking foot with Gutermann polyester thread in the top and wooly/bulky nylon in my bobbin.  Normally I just use wooly nylon for swimwear, but I wanted to see if I could get a better stretch stitch, and this turned out to be just the thing.  I used a straight stitch with a length of three for my first pass and a three-step zigzag stitch next to that in the seam allowance for my second pass on each set of pattern pieces.  For the zigzag, I used a width of 6 and a length of 1.  My tension was at 4 and my presser foot tension was at 3.  I did not use a serger.

To figure out my stitch length and width, I used the suggestions that came printed on my machine and tested them on fabric scraps.  Then I stretched each test to see if any of my stitches popped.  The straight stitches will pop if you put enough stress on them, but I think it is worth doing both because the straight stitches give you a clean join in your pieces while the zigzag provides extra strength and stretch.

I used a universal twin needle since I didn’t have a stretch twin needle at the time (I’ve since gotten one, and it’s great, but the universal did work as well).  I didn’t press my seams since I was sewing Polartec and I didn’t want to melt it, but I used the twin needle even in spots like the vertical neck, cuff, and bottom band seams to hold my seam allowances to one side.  I think I finally have the hang of the double needle now, and I’m so happy about it.

Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

So, in conclusion, I really like this pattern.  I don’t think these are the world’s most flattering tops on me personally, but I don’t really care.  I love them and I wear them a ton.  They are so cozy in fleece and just perfect for winter.

Recommendations

  • I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again:  fleece from Malden Mills (Polartec brand fleece) is awesome for cold weather.  I love natural fibers year-round, but Polartec fleece is cozy and technically fascinating.  Reading their website really gives you an appreciation for all the innovation in these fabrics.
  • I found this article really helpful:  How a Sewing Machine Works, Explained in a GIF.  I could never picture the inner workings of my machine before.  Thanks to Maggie from Pintuck & Purl for this one.
  • Thanks to this show, I learned that the internet is actually housed on top of Big Ben and if you are really, really lucky, the Elders of the Internet might let you borrow it for big speeches.  😉

How to Install Pearl Snaps

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How to Install Pearl Snaps

Today’s post is a little bit different, but in a good way, I think.  I want to share how to install pearl snaps since there seemed to be some interest after I posted my latest flannel shirt featuring pearl snaps on the blog and on Instagram.  Obviously I’m no expert, but I tested out a few ways of installing pearl snaps, and this was my favorite.

Before we begin, let me just say:  it pays to practice.  I made sure to have extra snaps so I could practice putting them into scrap fabric before trying to install them in my shirt.  Even so, I still had a cracked snap, but because I practiced, all the other snaps came out just right–all functional, and all in the correct location and right way out.

OK.  Let’s get down to business!

 

Tools You Will Need

How to Install Pearl Snaps

  • Pearl Snaps
  • Your shirt or whatever you are installing your snaps in (I’m using a double layer of flannel for this tutorial.)
  • The cardboard–at least two thin layers
  • Hammer
  • Snap Setter
  • Water- or air-soluble marking pen
  • Pin

Here are some close-up pictures of the snap-setting tool I used.  It’s pictured above near the top left of my flannel square.

How to Install Pearl Snaps

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How to Install Pearl Snaps

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How to Install Pearl Snaps

The Process

First, make sure that you have at least two thin layers of cardboard as a work surface under your snaps when you are setting them.  I used a single layer of thin cardboard from a shoe box for my first snap.  That snap cracked.  Once I doubled the layers, I didn’t have that problem any more, thankfully.  Learn from my mistake!

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Shetland Flannel

Before you install your snaps, lay out your shirt as you plan to wear it with your plackets or cuffs aligned and mark the desired location of your snap with your marker.

How to Install Pearl Snaps

Next, put a pin in the place that you marked.

How to Install Pearl Snaps

Holding the pin in place, lift your top layer and mark around the pin on the bottom layer.  This way the snaps will line up when you go to put your shirt on.

How to Install Pearl Snaps

There are four pieces to each snap:  the pearl part with prongs, the male part of the snap that is attached to the pearl part, the female part of the snap, and the back part with prongs that the female part attaches to.

How to Install Pearl Snaps

It’s a good idea to put the pearl side of your snap in first.  That way you make sure the visible part of the snap is right where you want it.  In order to do this, lay the pearl part of the snap on your cardboard with the prongs facing up.  Lay the right side of your fabric over the prongs and facing the cardboard with the placement mark you made centered over the prongs of the snap so that it is in the middle of the snap. Gently push the fabric down (being careful not the stab yourself with the prongs) until all of the prongs protrude through the fabric.

How to Install Pearl Snaps

Next, carefully place the male side of the snap over the prongs and put the snap setting tool over the snap.

How to Install Pearl Snaps

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How to Install Pearl Snaps

The tool should have an indentation that will allow you to cover the snap without worrying that you will flatten the male part of the snap (and yes, it both makes sense and is completely weird that we are talking about male and female parts of a snap).  Holding the snap setting tool over the male part of the snap which is resting on the pearl prongs, hit the tool with the hammer several times.

How to Install Pearl Snaps

Check to see if the snap has been pounded on enough by trying to slide your fingernail between the two snap pieces.  If your nail won’t go between, you’ve done it!  If it does go between, place the tool back over the snap as before and give it a few more hits with the hammer.

How to Install Pearl Snaps

Good job!  You’re halfway there!

Now lay the back side of the snap with the prongs on the cardboard, prongs facing up.  Carefully line up your placement mark from the corresponding area of your cuff or placket so that the mark is in the middle of the prongs and press down on the fabric (again, trying not to stab yourself with the prongs) until all of the prongs come through.

How to Install Pearl Snaps

If you want to, you can gently lay the part that you already did over the top just to make sure things look like they are lining up before finishing the installation.  Now is also a good time to check that you aren’t putting the second part of the snap in backwards (I have done this).

Now take the female part of the snap and lay it over the prongs, placing the side with the deepest grooves down on the prongs.

How to Install Pearl Snaps

If you are unsure about which way to orient this part of the snap, here is something I found helpful.

How to Install Pearl Snaps

This is the side you want up (below):

How to Install Pearl Snaps

and this is the side you want facing down onto the prongs (below):

How to Install Pearl Snaps

Place the snap setting tool over the female side of the snap and hit it a few times with the hammer.

How to Install Pearl Snaps

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How to Install Pearl Snaps

Do the fingernail test again to make sure it’s been pounded on enough and then test your snap by snapping it together.

How to Install Pearl Snaps

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How to Install Pearl Snaps

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How to Install Pearl Snaps

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How to Install Pearl Snaps

It should be all set (ha, ha)!

There are multiple types of snap setters and you may end up liking another style better.  I chose this one because of the two I had been given, this metal one and a blue plastic one, I liked this the best.  If you have a favorite tool for setting snaps, tell me about it in the comments!  I love discovering new sewing gadgets!

Recommendations

  • This week I made Smitten Kitchen’s Black and White Cookies, and they were excellent!
  • This article from the Mood Sewciety blog cracked me up:  How to Workout with Your Sewing Machine
  • Last week I watched the movie The Young Victoria about the years just before and after the start of Queen Victoria’s reign.  It was such a good movie and really makes you admire both Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as well as the force for good that they were together.
  • For your viewing pleasure, I give you Leonard Nimoy singing the Ballad of Bilbo Baggins.  I have a whole new view of Mister Spock now.  😉

Simplicity 1538 (Again!) in Robert Kaufman Shetland Flannel

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Simplicity 1538 (Again!) in Robert Kaufman Shetland Flannel

Hey…I bet you guys are going to be super surprised…I made Simplicity 1538!  Again!

Simplicity 1538 Shirt In Robert Kaufman Shetland Flannel

It’s good to know I finally have a TNT (Tried ‘N True) pattern.

This version is made from Robert Kaufman Shetland Flannel in the Peach colorway with pearl snaps from Pintuck & Purl.  Thread, pattern, and interfacing came from Jo-Ann Fabric.

This shirt has the same added length (two inches) that my last one had, but for this version, I also used the pockets and front yoke in View A.  I swapped out my favorite buttons that look like pearl snaps for actual pearl snaps, something I’d never worked with before.

Simplicity 1538

Here are my notes.  This fabric has a very subtle right and wrong side.  It’s actually made up of red and ivory threads, and one side is a little lighter while the other side is a little redder.  I chose the lighter side as my right side.  Either would look great as long as you are consistent (or intentionally inconsistent, I suppose).  It also feels like a lighter weight flannel than the Mammoth Plaid I used for the last shirt, although it’s the same weight according to the Robert Kaufman website.  It also feels a little bit softer to me.  I did prewash and dry my fabric, but it may not be a bad idea to throw this one in twice, just to be safe.  When I finished the shirt, I noticed that the front near the bust is very slightly tighter than I would like.  You can see it in the picture at the top of the post.  It could also have been the addition of the front pockets and yokes or maybe, as Maggie at Pintuck & Purl pointed out, the difference between using pearl snaps and buttons.  Who knows?  It’s not something that will keep me from wearing the shirt, but it’s definitely interesting.

Simplicity 1538 Shirt In Robert Kaufman Shetland Flannel

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Simplicity 1538 Shirt In Robert Kaufman Shetland Flannel

During construction, I used flat-felled seams for my arm and side seams.  They definitely aren’t perfect, but I think topstitching and seams like these are just some of those things that take practice.  Overall I tried not to get too picky and only ended up redoing my topstitching in one or two places.

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Shetland Flannel

I also tried out the triple stitch on my machine.  I know Lauren of Lladybird has talked about loving that more than using topstitching thread, so I thought I would give it a try.  It really does create a beautiful stitch.

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Shetland Flannel

For another interesting detail, I used a coordinating quilting cotton for my cuff and collar stand facings as well as for the undercollar.  I wish I had more of these quilting cotton prints.  I won a few in a giveaway around the time I started to sew, and they coordinate with so many things.  Unfortunately, I don’t even know the company, designer, or line they are from.  Do any of you?

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Shetland Flannel

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Simplicity 1538 Shirt In Robert Kaufman Shetland Flannel

By the time I took this picture, the snow was getting to be a little much, but it gives you the idea.  Below is a clearer picture.

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Shetland Flannel

Finally, pearl snaps.

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Shetland Flannel

I used size 16 ivory snaps for this project.  I was given the gift of my husband’s grandmother’s sewing things when she passed away, and I found two different kinds of snap setters among the bounty.  One is this blue plastic setter.  I looked around on youTube for a tutorial on how to use it (which was harder to find than I expected), and I gave that a try on some scrap fabric.  I also tried out this metal setter using directions on the back of some vintage snaps.  That was the tool I liked the best, and the instructions were excellent.  I got all of my snaps in without too much trouble with the exception of my first one, which cracked due to insufficient padding underneath it.  Lesson learned on that one!

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Shetland Flannel

So here’s my shirtmaking question for you.  When you are putting in your cuffs or collar, if you are instructed to pin the facing down from the outside and then topstitch from the right side, catching the outside and the facing in the topstitching, are you successful?  If you are, how do you do it?  I’ve given up and now I just hand-stitch those facings down and then topstitch on the outside because I could never catch the whole facing.  Thanks for any help you can give on that!

That’s it for this shirt!  I have some more Robert Kaufman flannel that I was going to use to make one more, but I’m trying to force myself branch out.  We’ll see what happens!  My latest thought is maybe Simplicity 8014.

Recommendations:

  • Ticket to Ride.  Have you ever played this game?  You try to build trains to complete your goals (“tickets”).  The more tickets you complete, the more points you get!  It’s a lot of fun.
  • Grandma’s House Patterns.  I can pass a lot of time looking through all the past and current sewing patterns on this website.  It’s also exciting to threaten to make some of the funnier styles of decades past for friends and family!  😉
  • The Labyrinth is one of my favorite movies from childhood.  As soon as I saw this Labyrinth worm pin from The Foxy Hipster, I knew I wanted it for my growing collection, and one of my friends got it for me for my birthday!
  • Lexi’s.  Fortunately (or unfortunately) there is one both next to where I work and within a relatively short distance of where I live.  The burgers, shakes, and fries are awesome.

 

Knitted: Spidey’s Spiral Cowl in Yates Farm Yarn

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Knitted:  Spidey’s Spiral Cowl in Yates Farm Yarn

Today’s project is the second and final installation in my short bout of knitting.  This is Spidey’s Spiral Cowl by Abi Gregorio of SpiderWomanKnits.

Spidey's Spiral Cowl

I discovered this pattern after seeing the amazing sample my coworker Jenny made for the shop.  She’s a really accomplished knitter and her sample was beautiful.  I was completely enamored with it and bought the pattern.  It didn’t hurt that I still have a huge stash of yarn from Yates Farm in Windsor, Vermont from over a decade ago when I first fell in love with knitting.  I culled a lot of things from my yarn stash recently, but all the Yates Farm yarn survived the purge.  And luckily, I had some of my favorite chunky yarn in a beautiful cream color.

Spidey's Spiral Cowl

It took me a little while to get the pattern down, and I contemplated my preferred working method of ignoring my mistakes, but this knits up so quickly that I decided to rip out my mistakes a few times until I really got it down.  Because this was so fast to knit, it was a very pleasant experience.

Spidey's Spiral Cowl

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Spidey's Spiral Cowl

And the final product?  Good.  Not the most awesome thing ever, but good and warm.  I think this, like the hat I wrote about a little while ago is good, but just a bit off.  This yarn is so thick that the cowl could probably stand up on its own, which means it takes a little bit of finagling to get it just right.  I’ve worn it several times and it’s really warm and cozy, which is a necessity in New England in the winter, but it does take a little work to get it looking right.  I definitely recommend the pattern, however.  It’s quick, fun, and not too hard, but is challenging enough to keep your interest.

Spidey's Spiral Cowl

And now?  Back to sewing!

Recommendations

  • Christmas!  Merry Christmas, everyone!  I’m thankful that God cared about us enough to be born as a baby so we could have a relationship with Him.  Sounds crazy, but what miracle doesn’t?
  • Filson.  A friend told me about this site.  Now, I don’t have the budget to actually shop here, but shopping for inspiration is free, and this is a really inspiring site if you like to sew menswear or if you favor a rugged style in womenswear.  There are a lot of interesting details and materials that go into these garments.
  • Zipper Ease.  This was one of my recent buys from Wawak Sewing and it saved a beloved jacket of my husband’s whose heavy-duty zipper had stopped zipping smoothly.
  • Hand and Foot.  I think this is my all-time favorite card game, and probably the only one that I can remember the rules to!  You play with four people (two sets of partners) and four standard decks of cards through four different rounds to see which team can get the most points.  I looked for a good link to the rules, but they were all different from the rules I learned, so I guess you have to account for regional differences and house rules.

 

 

Thread Theory Jutland Pants for Pattern Review’s Menswear Contest

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Thread Theory Jutland Pants for Pattern Review’s Menswear Contest

Have you ever admired the complexity or ingenuity in a piece of clothing in a store?  I certainly do when I look at workwear and outdoor clothing.  There’s so much thought that goes into each piece, not to mention interesting design lines and cool fabric.  That always seemed like a fairly unachievable level of sewing, until the first time I made the Thread Theory Jutland Pants.

Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Brown/Green English Canvas

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Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

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Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

After sewing my first pair (Variation 2) toward the beginning of this year, I began planning another in better fabric.  I knew it would be awhile before I started, but I wanted to make these again.  In July, I found just the right fabric at Pintuck & Purl in Exeter, NH, a cotton brown/green English canvas that was a lovely 61″ wide.  It was heavy, but nice.  Once my husband approved the color, I bought the fabric, but still wasn’t ready to cut into it.

And then, like so many projects that get left in the dust when we chase after the new, it became a “someday” project.  The fabric sat in my stash all summer until one day, as I was reading Thread Theory’s blog, I saw that Pattern Review was running a Menswear contest with a tempting prize–a gift card to Thread Theory’s online shop.  This was it.  It was time to make the pants.

Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Brown/Green English Canvas

Having made that first version, I had a pretty good idea of what tweaks I needed to make on this version, and there were only a few.  He asked me to raise the side cargo pockets, raise the knee patches, and lengthen the belt loops–all doable.

In addition to the three yards of the canvas that I bought, I used 1.25 yards of Cotton + Steel’s cotton lawn solid in Fedora for the waistband facing, pockets, and the insides of the top of the cargo pocket flaps.  Other than that, there was some midweight interfacing, bias binding, Gutterman polyester thread for construction and Gutterman topstitching thread.  I used a jeans button for the front, a jeans zipper, and Velcro that was sticky on the back for the cargo pockets.

Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Brown/Green English Canvas

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Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Brown/Green English Canvas

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Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Brown/Green English Canvas

Hem reinforcement detail

As far as materials go, I loved the canvas.  That turned out to be a great choice.  It’s heavy and nice, but not so heavy my machine couldn’t handle it (although I have ordered a “Hump Jumper” since making these in order to prevent skipped stitches when going over multiple layers of fabric for the next time I make something like this).  The lawn feels great, but was too light for the waistband facing, I think.  Before fully trimming my zipper, I managed to create a hole in the facing where the zipper teeth rubbed on it.  😦  I’ll try a quilting cotton next time, at least for the waistband facing (but honestly, I’ll probably use a quilting cotton for all those little bits).  The interfacing, jeans button, bias tape, and zipper were fine, as was the construction thread, which I really like.  I’m done with Gutterman topstitching thread, however.  After making two pairs of pants with it (these and my olive green pair), I just don’t like it.  I get a lot of “thread nests” on the underside of my garments, despite using a jeans needle and making sure my tension and presser foot pressure were appropriate.  Maggie at Pintuck & Purl has given me a few other kinds of topstitching thread to try out (a rainbow one and Coats brand), so we’ll see how those go on future projects.  The jeans needle I used was a good choice, and the only time I had trouble with it was when I applied my Velcro.  I think it was because the back of the Velcro was sticky, and it gummed up my needle.  There were a lot of skipped stitches there, so I think I’ll try some without the adhesive next time.  Live and learn, right?

Thread Theory Jutland Pants in Brown/Green English Canvas

After making this pattern twice, I have to say I still really love it.  It is definitely a more complex pattern than most of the others that I make, as each step is often composed of several smaller steps, and there are a few points that had me scratching my head a bit, even the second time around.  Luckily I wrote myself notes, so this time was much easier than my first attempt.  I also had to remind myself not to question the directions or think I knew better.  The one time I tried to go “off book” and do things my own way, I managed to sew the fly shut!  Ha!  It’s a good reminder to be humble and follow the directions.  When I make these pants, I feel really proud of myself because they just look so good!  I also think all the details and possibilities of this pattern keep it interesting, even though I’m not sewing for myself.  😉

On that front, though….I realized that this size fits me!  I think one style I aspire to in the fall and winter is a girl version of outdoorsy and rugged, so I would love a pair of pants like this in my wardrobe, especially flannel-lined, which is an option with this pattern.  What if I could make the flannel lining REMOVABLE?!  We’ll see what happens with that!  I did spend several hours on Wednesday wearing the pants around so I could see if they truly were comfortable on me.  I think the outlook is positive!  To that end, I bought up the last of the grey English canvas at Pintuck & Purl last time I was there…

As far as the contest goes, voting runs from the 18th-24th.  If you’ve been a Pattern Review member for at least 90 days, you can vote, and I’d love your vote if you think my project deserves it.  You can vote in the contest here.  You can also read my review of the pattern if you want more/different information than I’ve got here.  Fingers crossed!

And thanks to my husband for posing for pictures.  That’s not something he likes doing, plus it was really cold that day, so I appreciate it.  I suppose it doesn’t hurt that he gets a new pair of bespoke pants for Christmas out of the deal.  😉

Update:  Thanks for your votes, everyone!  I didn’t win the contest, but I had the second highest number of votes.  So, no gift card for me, although my husband definitely won since he finally got his pants!  Congratulations to the winner, who made an amazing blazer for her husband.

Recommendations

  • The WAWAK Sewing catalogue!  I saw on Instagram that @peterlappin had ordered one, so I got one myself and, I have to say, it’s pretty awesome.  I even placed my first order for the previously mentioned “Hump Jumper” (Isn’t that the weirdest name?), jeans buttons, and Zipper Ease for stuck zippers.  They have some cool stuff at great prices.
  • I really like sewing round-ups where bloggers highlight new patterns and cool sewing projects on the web.  My two current favorites are from Closet Case Files and Helen’s Closet.  If you have other favorites, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!
  • Simplicity 1538.  This has really become my favorite button up shirt pattern, as evidenced by my first try from a vintage sheet, tiger shirt, and flannel shirt.  It’s similar to the Grainline Archer in style.  On Wednesday I cut out my fourth version of this shirt.  I love it.
  • Droste Dutch process cocoa powder.  I had some left from a few recipes, so I made hot chocolate with it (plus sugar, milk, salt, and heavy cream), and it was AMAZING.

Esme Top in Double Gauze

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Esme Top in Double Gauze

Today’s project is one I really wanted to squeak in on the blog before fall is officially over.  I made this Esme top from Lotta Jansdotter’s Everyday Style in a fabric that was new to me:  double gauze.

Esme Top in Double Gauze

Esme Top in Double Gauze

Esme Top in Double Gauze

Esme Top in Double Gauze

I made it for the Pattern Review meet-up at Pintuck & Purl back in September.  One of the challenges for that meeting was to make something that was new to you, whether in a new fabric, with a new pattern or tool, or using a new technique.

I’ve made this top before (first iteration here), but one of the advantages of working part-time at Pintuck & Purl has been the opportunity to work with fabrics I’ve never tried before, and double gauze was on my list.  I chose the Friskers Teal by Sarah Watts for Cotton & Steel.

Esme Top in Double Gauze

I’d heard both good and bad things about this substrate.  On the positive side, good quality cotton double gauze like this one from Cotton & Steel is extremely soft.  It’s also pretty easy to work with like a lot of cotton is.  On the down side, some double gauze can develop a sort of ‘halo’ around it, as one of my friends says.  It almost gets a little fuzz that stands out from the fabric.  I haven’t experienced that with this fabric so far, but it’s something to keep an eye on if you try it for yourself.  Because of the loose weave, it can also grow over several wearings.  Again, I haven’t found this to be too much of a problem with this particular double gauze (my friend tried another brand), but keep an eye on it if you try it.  As far as the Cotton & Steel fabric is concerned, I would say this is a winner.  It’s very soft and comfortable.

For this version of the Esme top, I did a major broad back adjustment, which is something I tend to need on woven tops.  It definitely improved the fit over my first version, which I forgot to do a broad back adjustment on.

Esme Top in Double Gauze

Esme Top in Double Gauze

This is a good classic shape and is pretty quick to sew.  There are numerous variations on it in Everyday Style, as well as several other useful basics throughout the book.

Esme Top in Double Gauze

It’s starting to get cooler now, so just this week I put this top away until spring.  I’m looking forward to wearing it again when the weather warms up.

Esme Top in Double Gauze

Recommendations

This week I found my recommendations in my reading pile.  I love to check out books.  Some I read cover to cover and some I just scan to get a sense of what they are about.  Here’s what I’ve got checked out from the library right now:

  • The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees is all about honing in on your own clothing style.  It’s helpful in much the same way that the Wardrobe Architect Series from Colette is, and for sewing people, it can help you figure out what you like to wear and therefore, sew.
  • All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot is a collection of stories about the author’s life and work as a veterinarian in the Yorkshire Dales of England.  It’s funny and filled with fabulous characters.
  • Precious and Grace from the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series by Alexander McCall Smith.  I love this fiction series about Precious Ramotswe, the wise and gentle detective who lives and works in Botswana.
  • American Cake by Anne Byrn is my favorite kind of cookbook.  Each recipe has a great description and history of how it came to be. It’s a history of America…in cake.
  • Shirtmaking:  Developing Skills for Fine Sewing by David Page Coffin looks like an amazing, brilliant, and very thorough book.  I think it’s above my level at this point, but if I keep sewing, I’ll get there eventually.
  • Hug Your Haters:  How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers by Jay Baer.  I saw that the Craft Industry Alliance was reading this one and I got curious.  I’m not a business owner, but it sounded interesting enough to page through.  I haven’t gotten far, but I’ve already learned a thing or two, just from skimming through the introduction and first chapter.