Sailor-Inspired Pants! Simplicity 8391 in Denim

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Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim

I’ve met some serious secret pajama goals with this pair of pants. In making these wide-legged, comfortable, sailor-inspired jeans, I’m revisiting a pattern I tried for the first time last summer: Simplicity 8391, view C.

Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim
Simplicity 8391
Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim

Only this time I added seven inches to the length of the cropped pants in the pattern to make full-length pants/trousers, and I made them in denim because after several years of skinny jeans, I’m ready to let my legs out of prison, at least some of the time. Plus, these feel about as great as a nice pair of pajama pants.

Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim
Family help with pictures means things get silly.

I made these from a lighter midweight denim from Fabric Place Basement in Natick, MA. Fabric Place Basement is turning out to be a good source of denim for me. This denim was nicely drapey rather than stiff, perfect for wide leg pants.

Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim

I cut a 20/22. Really, I just altered the pattern I used this summer by adding length. My hem is 1.25 inches, but next time, I think I would make it an inch deeper, so I’d add one more inch to the length, allowing me 2.25 inches for my hem.

Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim
Pants, inside front
Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim
Pants, inside back

I changed the invisible zipper the pattern calls for to a lapped zipper with the help of Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing by Gretchen Hirsch (the machine-sewn lapped zipper directions). I wanted to use a larger, more heavy duty jeans zipper.

Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim

That went pretty well, but I didn’t think about the best way to attach everything, so I sewed the zip to the pants and waistband, and then had some trouble figuring out how to secure the waistband facing without it interfering with the zipper. I got it in the end, but there’s probably a better way to do it. I also had some trouble closing the rest of the seam below the zip, so I used a combination of hand and machine sewing.

I covered the bottom edge of the waistband facing with a cute, striped vintage bias tape. I should have used double fold bias tape rather than single, or just done a Hong Kong seam finish rather than binding the edge, but I really wanted those stripes.

Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim

Normally, with jeans, I use a zigzag stitch to finish the seams, but now that I have a serger, I serged all my seam allowances, which looks a lot neater. I’m really happy with that.

I love the large pockets and the comfortable straight leg in this pattern. The denim I used also seems to have a good amount of mechanical stretch, which adds to the comfort, and the jeans zipper feels much more secure than the invisible zipper in my last pair.

Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim

I really love looser pants in the winter so I can fit a pair of long underwear underneath whenever necessary, but I think these will actually work year-round.

Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim
Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim

While I’m starting to think that, overall, I like a straight leg pant better than a wide leg style, as a straight leg is slightly narrower, this pattern is so cute and comfy that I would definitely make it again.

Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim
Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim

It’s also really nice to have more than one style of jean in your closet, you know? So, I’ll keep a pair or two of skinny jeans around while adding all the other fun cuts and styles I feel like making, too. 🙂

Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

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Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

These days, I wear a lot of stretchy pants and t-shirts, which, honestly, I love, but I still like to make the occasional non-stretchy garment, too. 😉 The latest project I have to share with you is in that non-stretchy category and is a new style for me, which is fun! It’s the Victoria Blouse from Fibre Mood.

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

This pattern has a ruffled collar, triangular front yoke with gathers falling from it, and slightly puffed sleeves.

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

This isn’t a style that I have really worn before, but I love the romantic blouses we have been seeing in fashion and, consequently, in sewing patterns. They are so much fun to wear. When I finished this and put it on for the first time, it took me right back to the ’80’s, which was the last time styles like this were a thing. While I never would have worn this in the ’80’s, I really like it now!

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile
Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile
Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

Fibre Mood has offered various PDF patterns for free throughout the pandemic (so generous!) to help people keep sewing, as it’s a positive, stress-relieving activity for so many. I downloaded this several months ago when it was free and made it in the fall. After looking through my stash, I decided that the Victoria Blouse would be perfect in this cotton “Swiss Dot Voile” fabric from Fabric Mart (long since sold out). The fabric itself is really cool and can be used with either side as the right side. One side has little oblong embroidered shapes, and the other has fuzzy dots, typical of a swiss or clip dot fabric. I love this kind of fabric.

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

After printing and assembling this pattern, I had to add seam allowance, which is not my favorite thing. I think you have the option to print with or without seam allowance on Fibre Mood patterns at this point, although I could be wrong. The seam allowances they recommended on this pattern were different at different points. This is both good and bad–good because it eliminates waste from large seam allowances that you have to trim, and bad because you have to keep track of which piece has what seam allowance. To keep track, I wrote myself notes along the way. I figured it was good for me to try something different, even if I wasn’t sure that I would like it, because maybe I would come to like it or discover something new by trying it.

The directions instruct you to finish a lot of the seams with a serger. I have a serger now, but I don’t love how the finish looks, and while I want to use it when appropriate, I don’t want to serge all my seam allowances when there are often better quality choices out there. However, for this pattern, I decided to stick to my plan of following the directions, at least the first time through.

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile
Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

Before beginning, I did a major broad back adjustment (which is typical for me). I cut a 48 bust and graded out to a 50 hip. Overall, I liked sewing this pattern. The instructions were well laid out. I followed them pretty faithfully, except that I put my sleeves in flat rather than setting them in. One thing I liked is how they put the collar and cuffs on, which involves topstitching from the outside rather than trying to stitch in the ditch so that there is no visible stitching on the outside. I find it hard to do that well while catching the fabric underneath, so I like the method that Fibre Mood chose. I think it’s easier and looks nice.

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile
Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

The back neck slit is only turned once and stitched, so I added another line of stitching to (hopefully) keep it from fraying too far, but there could definitely be a better finish there.

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

Overall, I am really happy with the finished blouse. In fact, I love it, especially tucked in. I found it to be comfortable overall with enough neck and wrist room. The sleeves are puffy, but not so large that they get in the way.

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile
Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

Some possible changes I would consider making next time:

*raise the armhole to allow for better/more arm movement

*take a small horizontal wedge out of the back just below the collar to get the back neck slit to sit more smoothly against the body

*consider if a different neck closure would work better–maybe buttons with elastic loops? I find that the hooks and eyes sometimes unhook as I wear the shirt.

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

*consider lengthening the shirt if I know I will always wear it tucked in. It is the perfect length for me to wear without tucking it in, but it tends to come untucked in the back when I try to wear it tucked in.

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile
“Look! The sun is out!” Sometimes we try to get creative when taking pictures…with mixed results. Haha!
Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile
Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

These are all small and optional suggestions because, overall, I love this shirt. I feel good when I wear it, and I would make another. For now, I think I will put it away in order to have a nice surprise for spring.

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

Homemade Christmas Gifts: 2020

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Homemade Christmas Gifts: 2020

Hi! Welcome back! I thought it would be fun to share a couple of the gifts I made for my family this past Christmas. I usually buy whatever gifts I want to buy first, and then with the time I have left, I will sometimes make a few things. This past year I made two rice bags, which are reusable heating pads you can microwave, and an opossum ornament.

When I was in high school or early college, one of my aunts made my siblings and I all rice bags. This might sound like kind of a funny gift, but it’s so very useful. She took cotton muslin and sewed a bag, filled it with dry rice, and sewed it shut. Then she made a little cotton pillowcase for it. You can’t wash the rice bag itself without ruining it, but you can wash the little pillowcase whenever necessary. Just make sure you use cotton fabric or a similar natural fiber that can be microwaved without melting.

Homemade Christmas Gifts:  2020

These rice bags, which are about 7″ x 10″ (17.5cm x 25.1cm), can be placed in the microwave and heated for about two minutes. They’ll then stay warm for quite some time, and when they begin to cool, if they are right next to you, will pick up some of your body heat and stay pleasantly warm. They’re great for muscle aches, cold feet, cramps, or hugging if you feel chilly. While they may not be a flashy gift, in our house at least, they are one of the most used. This year I made two. They were very quick and easy to sew.

Homemade Christmas Gifts:  2020

One of the other presents I made was this cute little opossum ornament, designed by Aimee Ray.

Homemade Christmas Gifts:  2020

I had heard her speak on an episode of the Behind the Seams podcast, and checked out her blog and two Etsy shops, one with paper goods (little dear prints), and one with embroidery and sewing projects (little dear). Everything was fun to look at, but her cute sewn and embroidered animal patterns were my favorite. We have been watching a lot of “Critter Vision” on YouTube during the past nine months and have fallen in love with the opossums that come to the feeders, so when I saw Aimee’s pattern for an opossum as part of her “Pesky but Sweet Animals” collection, I knew my husband needed an opossum ornament.

I started this project kind of late in the game and didn’t have the type of felt used in the sample (or any craft felt, actually), so I dug through my scraps for some felted wool bits and found just enough to make this little critter using parts of a felted shirt, scarf, and blanket. Luckily, I had some embroidery floss and stuffing on hand. It was so much fun to make that I immediately started looking at some of her other patterns. I’m not great at sewing under deadlines, so I opted not to make any more ornaments this year, but recently bought her “3 Panda Bears” and “Winter Animals” patterns to use for a craft day with one of my kids.

After finishing the opossum, I ran a little string through the back and attached a tag so I could add the year and who it was for.

Homemade Christmas Gifts:  2020

I was so excited to give this to my husband, and I think he really liked it!

Homemade Christmas Gifts:  2020

The rice bags were also much loved and appreciated, so it was a win all around. I try not to put too much pressure on myself to sew a million things for Christmas, and these were just right–easy, fast, and fun.

Winter Sewing and Knitting Ideas!

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Winter Sewing and Knitting Ideas!

It’s almost the Winter Solstice (the first day of winter) in the northern hemisphere, which means that fall is wrapping up and it’s time to think about winter sewing and knitting plans! I’m always thinking about sewing and knitting plans, and since I love to read about what other people are considering making, I thought I would share a snapshot of my ideas with you! There is no way I will ever make all of these ideas, so these are just ideas, not plans. I change my mind about what I want to make quite frequently until I have started on a particular project or batch of projects. So here are my thoughts at the current moment.

Sewing: Garments

I love sewing tops, and I have a few ideas of some that I would like to make. I have been wanting to make a Western-inspired shirt for a long time, so I bought out-of-print McCall’s 6262, which is a unisex Palmer/Pletsch pattern with lots of design options.

Winter Sewing and Knitting Ideas

Since this pattern doesn’t have the option to make shaped shotgun cuffs, I also purchased Threads magazine, Issue 67 from October/November 1996 from Vintage Pattern Warehouse. It has an article by David Page Coffin, called “Updating the Cowboy Shirt” explaining, among other things, how to make these super cool cuffs. This one is going to take some real thought to figure out exactly how I want to make it up, but first I need to sew a muslin to check out the fit and practice a few techniques. I was hoping I would have enough of these two rayon fabrics in my stash for a muslin, but I don’t think I do, so I’ll have to look through the stash a bit more to see what else I’ve got. I should probably start by tracing my pattern pieces so I can hold them up to the various bits of fabric I have to see if they’ll work.

Winter Sewing and Knitting Ideas

I don’t wear a lot of turtleneck shirts right now, but this year they are really appealing to me. I have a few Polartec fleece fabrics that might work to try out the free Yoko Square Roll-Neck Top pattern from Jalie. It looks so comfy! (Tessuti has a similar pattern called the Monroe Turtleneck if you want something slightly different.)

Winter Sewing and Knitting Ideas

I really love a good Henley-style shirt in the winter. I made one previously by combining the Thread Theory Strathcona Henley and the Deer and Doe Plaintain Tee, but I have wanted to try one drafted for women, and Itch to Stitch has just the pattern, the Visby Henley. This is also a fun change because the Strathcona Henley has set-in sleeves and the Visby has raglan sleeves. I would love it if I could make one either from my wool knit scraps

Winter Sewing and Knitting Ideas

or my Cotton + Steel knit scraps

Winter Sewing and Knitting Ideas

but the wools are of various weights and amounts. The only one with significant yardage is the green, but it’s pretty thin. Maybe it would work better as a Yoko or Monroe Turtleneck. Hm… The Cotton + Steel knits I don’t love all together, although I like some of them in combination. This may be a project that I eventually buy fabric for and save the wool and cotton knits for something else.

On to sweatshirts! I have had Burda Style 6315, View A (the colorblocked view) on my list for awhile. I think I might have enough leftover Polartec Powerstretch to make it, but like the Western shirt, I really need to trace out my pattern pieces to see. I had originally planned on using light pink with the ivory and purple, but the scraps I have left of that are very small. Luckily, I have a bit more of this dark gray.

Winter Sewing and Knitting Ideas

I bought some really, really soft Tencel sweatshirt knit from Pintuck & Purl in a sale, and have been looking for the perfect pattern to use it with. It’s light to midweight, and drapey. I think a Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover with the hemline shape from the Style Arc Josie Hoodie would be great with leggings this winter.

Winter Sewing and Knitting Ideas

I love how you can put in a little burst of color in the Brunswick with the pocket on the arm and on the sides by the snaps. I have made both the Brunswick and the Josie and they are two of my favorite sweatshirts.

Leaving tops aside, I’m interested in trying out the Ullvi Slouchy Hat from The Last Stitch. I’ll have to modify things a bit since this is drafted to be a double layer hat, which would be great with a fleece that is brushed on both sides, but won’t be as good with the scraps I have since one side is smooth and the fabric is a bit thicker. I’ll probably cut it to be a single layer and either hem the bottom or bind it with foldover elastic. The double layer instructions would probably work on some of my thicker wool knits, though!

Winter Sewing and Knitting Ideas

Sewing: Non-Clothing Items

It is one of my sewing goals to do a few projects using leather. I have done some small projects with leather and vinyl in the past, but I want to get in some more practice. My husband bought Leather Bags: 14 Stylish Designs to Sew for Any Occasion by Kasia Ehrhardt for me, and I have some leather scraps that someone gave me, so I would like to maybe start with one or two of the smaller and easier projects to get my feet wet.

Winter Sewing and Knitting Ideas

I also still have this partial Hudson Bay Point Blanket that I got for free at a yard sale. Parts of it are very worn, but I have thought about making a bag with a leather bottom from the good portions, so I might use this book as a starting point, although if you have any pattern recommendations, please leave them in the comments! I don’t have experience making heavy-duty bags, so I need a pattern that will give me guidance on supplies and techniques.

Winter Sewing and Knitting Ideas

I posted awhile ago about making some of the Twig + Tale Tropical Leaf Blankets, but I still haven’t made one for myself, and I really want a Monstera blanket, so I may make one for myself and a friend. Maybe I’ll even try one of the doll-size Fan Leaf blankets. While digging through my stash, I found this old wool blanket remnant someone gave me and this leftover twill from a bag I made, and I LOVE them together! I really don’t know if I have enough or how practical these fabrics are for what I want to do with the blanket, but I’m willing to piece them if I have to.

Winter Sewing and Knitting Ideas

These blankets are so much fun to make, and now there is also a North American Leaf Blanket Collection that I really want to try!

Knitting

Although knitting hasn’t shown up a ton on the blog, I have done a lot of knitting this year. Sewing is definitely my biggest love, but I like having a knitting project going as well because it’s more portable than most of my sewing projects.

Right now, I have the Wool & Honey Sweater from Drea Renee Knits on my needles. I started this as part of a winter sweater make-along through Pintuck & Purl. I am a fairly slower knitter, so having a regular Zoom craft night was a good way to get started. Even though I didn’t finish in the allotted time, it got me going. Now I am partway down the body, and am hoping I have enough yarn for everything.

Winter Sewing and Knitting Ideas

I really like this pattern, and the yarn, Shetland 2ply Jumper Weight by Jamieson & Smith, is beautiful. I think Shetland yarn is so cool. I have often questioned my sanity in choosing to knit a full sweater out of fingering-weight yarn on tiny, tiny needles, though. After this, I’ll be ready for some thicker yarn or just smaller fingering weight projects…

And that is why my Mom and I plan to have our own little knit-along and cast on the Sparks sock pattern at some point in the near future. This pattern is also by Drea Renee Knits. Knitting the Wool & Honey Sweater made me realize that knitting two socks in fingering weight was not a big deal. They are a lot smaller than a sweater, so I can definitely get them done! I’m hoping to use up some of the odds and ends in my group of sock yarns. I ordered some “Real Black” Cascade Heritage sock yarn from Wool & Co. to tie all the colors together.

Winter Sewing and Knitting Ideas

And that’s it for now! Well, when I say that’s it, you should imagine a further mental list of projects a million miles long, but these are at the top of that list for now and are the most likely to be made this winter. Since I don’t want this blog post to be a million miles long, I’ll leave it at that. 🙂

However, I would LOVE to hear any creative winter projects you are planning. Do you have any sewing, knitting, or other craft projects you are thinking about? Feel free to share them in the comments. And Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate Christmas! I’ll be taking the next few weeks off, but I hope to see you here in January.

How the Sweater Curse Ended: Cotton Soldotna Crop

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How the Sweater Curse Ended:  Cotton Soldotna Crop

Here’s something a little different–a knitting project.  In fact, it’s an unblogged sweater from 2019!  I do have some fall sewing projects to show you, but I need to take some pictures first, so instead we have a summer sweater.

How the Sweater Curse Ended:  Cotton Soldotna Crop

Just like so many knitters, I fell for the Soldotna Crop sweater by Boyland Knitworks when it came out.  A short-sleeved sweater is kind of a funny thing to knit, but when I saw this, I saw my opportunity to knit a sweater that was cropped and short-sleeved, requiring less yarn (and therefore less money for supplies).  It was also an opportunity to dig into another colorwork project.  After a few stranded knitting colorwork projects, I was in love.

How the Sweater Curse Ended:  Cotton Soldotna Crop

Before I started sewing, I knitted.  And with one very well-fitting exception, all the sweaters I made were massive.  There was a lot I didn’t know that I’m learning now.  Anyway, after taking two years to knit a sweater for my husband that was still massive after I intentionally shrunk it in the washer and dryer, I was done.  (Check out my Craft Fails if you want to see the sweater.) After hanging around Pintuck & Purl for a few years, though, I got slowly sucked back in by all the amazing knitters that I kept meeting there.

How the Sweater Curse Ended:  Cotton Soldotna Crop

I started thinking about color and value (i.e. darkness and lightness of each color) and tested out my ideas by tracing an image of a finished sweater, scanning it into the computer, and using it as my own little coloring page.  My goals were to use colors that I loved in a range of values similar to the original.  Having good value contrast can really make a design stand out, even more than the color can.

How the Sweater Curse Ended:  Cotton Soldotna Crop

Looking at the original in both color and black and white helped me figure out where I wanted to place my colors.

How the Sweater Curse Ended:  Cotton Soldotna Crop

How the Sweater Curse Ended:  Cotton Soldotna Crop

Once I had that figured out, I colored my picture and redrew the pattern chart with my colors in it so I wouldn’t get confused while knitting.

How the Sweater Curse Ended:  Cotton Soldotna Crop

I initially chose an inexpensive synthetic yarn, Berroco Comfort DK, but the colors weren’t exactly what I wanted.  Sweaters are so expensive to knit, and I was trying to keep the cost down, but I just wasn’t happy with my purchase.  That being said, I do really like this yarn and have since used it to make a few hats.

How the Sweater Curse Ended:  Cotton Soldotna Crop

How the Sweater Curse Ended:  Cotton Soldotna Crop

So, I returned what I could of the Berroco yarn and eventually got what I really wanted from Pintuck & Purl, Mirasol Pima Kuri DK Cotton Yarn.

You can see all the colors I considered, followed by a grayscale picture that helped me pick the ones I wanted based on their values.

How the Sweater Curse Ended:  Cotton Soldotna Crop

How the Sweater Curse Ended:  Cotton Soldotna Crop

Part of the joy of colorwork for me is the colors and I loved these.  My choices (left to right):  Smoky Mountain, Cabernet, Lime Twist, and Adventurine.

How the Sweater Curse Ended:  Cotton Soldotna Crop

I made a few good-sized swatches in the round in part of the colorwork pattern and then threw a swatch in the washer and dryer, which was how I wanted to block/care for my finished sweater.  After it was done I measured it, and my husband ran the numbers through Excel so we could check what size sweater the gauge I had knitted at would give me, accounting for shrinkage after blocking.  Once I thought I had what I wanted, I cast on.  I was nervous, but I really wanted to try, so I went for it.  I cast on sometime in March 2019 and worked on it little by little over the summer.

How the Sweater Curse Ended:  Cotton Soldotna Crop

I knitted a size L, which turned out well.  My measurements put me in a L, except for the arms, which I should have knit in a 2XL, but I did a straight L, and it was fine.  The neck area is a bit odd and is not as open as the picture on the pattern.

How the Sweater Curse Ended:  Cotton Soldotna Crop

How the Sweater Curse Ended:  Cotton Soldotna Crop

If I were to do this all over again, I would cast on closer to the start of the colorwork and just have a small roll neck.

I have noticed that my gauge tends to loosen over time, which works great for a sweater knitted from the top down, as it will naturally get a little larger near my hips.  I lengthened this a bit, since the cropped original version was just too cropped for me.  Once I had knitted down to my high hip, I finished things off.

How the Sweater Curse Ended:  Cotton Soldotna Crop

Below is a picture of the inside before I wove in my ends.

How the Sweater Curse Ended:  Cotton Soldotna Crop

I tried the sweater on after binding off and…IT FIT!!!!  Now, I won’t tell you there are no mistakes (there are), and the back of the neck it a little weird, but…I LOVE THIS SWEATER.  I had MADE a sweater, and it FIT.  I was over the moon.  For a long time, I just kept it out so I could look at it every time I walked by.  It looks good as a t-shirt, and also works as a vest-type sweater over a collared shirt.  With this sweater, I think I finally broke the curse of the too-big sweaters.  😉

How the Sweater Curse Ended:  Cotton Soldotna Crop

How the Sweater Curse Ended:  Cotton Soldotna Crop

My True Bias Roscoe Blouse in Sweet, Sweet Linen

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My True Bias Roscoe Blouse in Sweet, Sweet Linen

Hi, sewing friends. Today’s project is a simple top with a lot of potential depending on what view you make or what fabric you make it in.

My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen

It’s the Roscoe Blouse from True Bias, a pattern that has proven very popular in the sewing community. It also has mini dress/tunic and dress views built in.

My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen
My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen

I held out for a long time before buying this pattern as I already have a pattern in the same style, but with a different fit (New Look 6472, blogged here). Finally, during a sale at Pintuck & Purl, I saw shopowner Maggie’s silk version, and I went for it and got the pattern for myself.

It’s no secret that I love positive ease, and this pattern has lots of it. The really lovely consequences of that design choice are that it is easy to fit and looks great in a number of drapey fabric substrates. For my first version, I chose to use some midweight “designer quality” linen from Fabric Mart Fabrics that I had originally planned to make into a skirt. I really love this fabric, and it is one that they regularly carry (although the color I used is currently unavailable), so this is now my second sewing project using it. (My first project was a dress, McCall’s 7774, blogged here.) It is easy to sew, substantial without being heavy, and AMAZING to wear. An added bonus is that the only supplies required are fabric and thread–no interfacing, snaps, buttons, or elastic.

My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen

I made view A, the blouse, in a size 16, even though my hip measurement was a 16/18. I didn’t have to do a broad back adjustment or anything. Yay!!!

My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen
My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen
My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen

It’s so rare that I can just trace a single size and cut it out.

The instructions were clear and easy to read. I chose to finish my edges with French seams, which are so satisfying and beautiful.

My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen

I accidentally put my neckline binding on the wrong way, and ended up topstitching it down on the outside instead of the less visible recommended finish, but I really liked it that way, so I decided to do the same thing on my sleeve bindings.

My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen

It was love at first try-on, although I did put a few stitches in near the bottom of the neckline slit to raise it just a little higher for my own comfort and modesty. I found I liked that better than wearing a camisole underneath.

My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen
My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen
Neckline detail view from inside

Fewer layers also preserved the glorious breeziness of this top, which I first wore on a warm and sunny fall day. I love the look of this best tucked in, and for that I would maybe consider making the shirt even longer to keep it tucked in better, but only maybe, as it’s fairly long already. It’s also very comfortable to wear untucked.

My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen
My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen
My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen
My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen

I can see what the hype is all about with this pattern. It’s a joy to make and to wear.

My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen

The Roscoe is a warm-weather dream in linen with its loose fit and roomy, slightly shortened sleeves, and I suspect that it would also be pretty nice in cooler temperatures with lengthened sleeves in a cozy cotton flannel, although that wouldn’t have the drape of a linen or a rayon. Hm… Maybe some of the drapier wool fabrics? I’d love to try the tunic and dress views as well. All in all, I’m really happy I tried this pattern, and it would be a pleasure to make more versions of it in the future.

My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen

Outside in November

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Outside in November

I love, love, love bright and vibrant colors, but I have to say–I find this fall palette that nature puts on to be so beautiful. Even among the brown grasses and leaves on gray days, there is so much variation and beauty. But don’t worry–there are still a few sunny and bright pictures in here, too. Enjoy!

Outside in November
Outside in November
Outside in November
Outside in November
Outside in November
Outside in November
Outside in November
Outside in November
Outside in November
Outside in November

The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit

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The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit

Today’s project is an example of a great pairing of pattern and fabric. I just love it so much! The garments that have staying power and remain in my wardrobe for a long time are the ones that are a good fabric and pattern match. So let’s talk about the Stellan Tee and some sweet, sweet, organic cotton knit.

The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit

For over four years I worked at Pintuck & Purl, a fabric and yarn store in southeastern New Hampshire. It was a great experience because, among other things, I got to try out many fabrics I hadn’t tried before. One of those fabrics was this organic cotton knit from Birch Organic Fabrics (collection: Saltwater; designer: Emily Winfield Martin). Every time I tried organic cotton, there was a clear difference in feel and quality.

The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit
The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit

I had my eye on this cute nautical print for several years, but it was both narrow for a knit and quite expensive because it was organic cotton. Finally, though, it had sat in the store for so long that it had to be put on sale. And that was when I finally bought some for my very own. This fabric is beefy and soft–much like interlock knit t-shirts used to be, and I turned over a lot of different ideas in my mind, trying to decide what I wanted to make with it. I finally settled on the The Stellan Tee, a free pattern from French Navy Patterns that I really wanted to try.

The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit
The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit

Free patterns are such a great way to try out a company’s style and quality, and although I used to think it wasn’t worth it to sew t-shirts, I now think otherwise. T-shirts are a quick and easy project for those times when you need something quick and easy, and each pattern is just a little bit different. They’re so satisfying to make. Luckily, this pattern didn’t disappoint. It’s filled with clear instructions and illustrations, and you can choose to use a serger and a regular sewing machine, or a regular sewing machine only. I made it in a size XXL.

The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit
Sometimes things get a little silly when my family helps me with pictures.
The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit
This shirt looks good cuffed or uncuffed…and with or without silly facial expressions.

Just a little while before making this, my husband bought me my very own JUKI serger (the MO-654DE), replacing the cute vintage model I had that wasn’t working. This was the first project I tried with it.

I got a new serger!
My new serger, just taken out of the box.

The fabric sewed like a dream. I used the stripe as my main fabric. I had also bought a little bit of the anchor print for details like a pocket and the back neck reinforcement. The pocket wasn’t a part of the pattern–I used the pocket from the Union Street Tee pattern by Hey June Handmade in order to have a place to showcase that anchor print on the outside of the shirt.

The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit

I really love the back neck reinforcement detail–it made the shirt look so professional. That was included in the pattern.

The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit
The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit

I got a little confused as I sewed it on about where to stitch my first seam (Through the seam allowance only, or also through the back of the shirt? I chose seam allowance only.), but I figured it out in the end. I also chose to topstitch around the neck opening to hold the seam allowance down and because it looks nice. And I used a zig zag stitch at the hem instead of a twin needle because my twin needle stitching often comes undone over time. I didn’t change the fit or substance of the pattern, however. I really like the Stellan Tee and wouldn’t hesitate to try another French Navy pattern after this. I love the style of this shirt with its curved hemline and loose, boxy cut.

The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit
The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit

It pairs perfectly with this midweight fabric.

The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit

And even though I am new to serging, everything went great with using both my regular machine and my serger. The Stellan Tee was a good beginner project for trying out the serger. I think I’m really going to like this machine.

It’s getting a little cold to wear this shirt now, but I wore it a lot while it was still warm and look forward to wearing it next summer. I would definitely make this pattern again…and use this fabric again in another project…and definitely use my serger again…this was a good project.

The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit

A McCall’s 8066 Summer Skirt in Black Double Gauze

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A McCall’s 8066 Summer Skirt in Black Double Gauze

Welcome back for another summer clothing post! During fall! Yep, I’m behind on posting, and if I don’t post everything, there’s a real chance I will forget what I made. Crazy, I know, but the struggle is real. 🙂

So here’s a quick project that could work in many seasons depending on the fabric you choose. McCall’s 8066 (aka “Posie”) is a simple skirt, with several variations, with and without tiers.

A McCall's 8066 Summer Skirt in Black Double Gauze
McCall’s 8066
A McCall's 8066 Summer Skirt in Black Double Gauze
McCall’s 8066

I made View B. Like the other views, it has a flat front and an elastic back. There are no pockets, but I added some in the side seams.

A McCall's 8066 Summer Skirt in Black Double Gauze

My skirt is made of black cotton double gauze from Joann Fabrics. They had this double gauze in several nice colors as well as a few stripes this summer, and I bought it in more than one shade. It washes up really nice and soft. I love it! Joann’s website calls it bubble gauze, although it’s different than bubble gauze I’ve bought elsewhere. This is a double layer of gauze, whereas the bubble gauze I bought before was a single layer. I don’t have enough experience with bubble gauze to tell you which is the norm.

A McCall's 8066 Summer Skirt in Black Double Gauze
McCall’s 8066, View B, front
A McCall's 8066 Summer Skirt in Black Double Gauze
McCall’s 8066, View B, back

This skirt should be a quick sew, but I got a little paranoid when my measurements for hip and waist put me in two different sizes. I measured an XL at the waist and an XXL at the hip. With the style of this pattern, I would have been fine making the XL, but instead, I cut an XXL for waist and hip because I was worried that the XL wouldn’t fit over my hips to take the skirt on and off. Well, as you can probably imagine, the skirt was too large on me. So, I spent some time taking it partially apart at the side seams and taking in the front and back waistband, always making sure the back waistband would stretch enough to go over my hips. I cut it down as much as I dared, but it still looks a bit bulky to me. Oh, well! I’m only willing to mess with a project so much before I want to move on.

A McCall's 8066 Summer Skirt in Black Double Gauze

I borrowed a pocket pattern piece from another pattern and added inseam pockets. Because of my alterations, they are back a bit far on my hips, but not too bad.

A McCall's 8066 Summer Skirt in Black Double Gauze

Since I made this toward the end of summer, I haven’t worn it a lot, so I’m reserving final judgement for next year when I have some distance from the project and more chances to wear it.

A McCall's 8066 Summer Skirt in Black Double Gauze

My first impressions, though, are that this is a good, simple pattern, with great possibilities. Don’t let my mistakes keep you from adding McCall’s 8066 to your pattern library (yes, that is how I think of my pattern stash–it’s a pattern library). Could you draft this yourself? Yes. It’s a lot of rectangles, but one thing I like about commercial patterns is that someone did the work for me. 🙂 This is a great pattern for a beginner or someone who has been sewing longer and wants a quick project. Wouldn’t view D would be amazing in a few layers of silk/cotton voile?

A McCall's 8066 Summer Skirt in Black Double Gauze

So Many Possibilities: The Women’s Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam

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So Many Possibilities:  The Women’s Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam

Fall is the perfect time to talk about sewing swimwear, right? Well, I suppose if you are in the Southern Hemisphere, this is for you. For all of us in the Northern Hemisphere, maybe it’s just planning ahead?

I didn’t sew much this summer because it felt like I was wasting the day if I didn’t get outside. My family and I did a lot of exploring, and even found ourselves a new favorite ocean swimming spot–which brought home to me just how much I needed a new bathing suit. My beloved tankini, made several years ago now, was really showing its age. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted–either another tankini or a bikini + rash guard combination. Then I found the Women’s Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam, and it had SO MANY POSSIBILITIES! Check out these line drawings!

Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam
Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam

This company is new to me. It looks like a lot of their patterns are for kids, but they have some adult patterns as well. Even though PDF patterns are not my preference, the huge number of options in the Women’s Mairin Swimsuit pattern convinced me. I had to give it a try.

I had a million ideas that I initially considered, many influenced by my swimwear Pinterest board. I filled up an online cart with swimwear fabric, and then my husband told me to add even more that I had been waffling on. I have never ordered so much swimwear at once in my life. The plan was to order a little bit of a few prints/colors, but the striped fabric I really wanted had a 5-yard minimum, and thanks to my husband, I got it. That one, in particular, will go with everything.

Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam
This pile of swimwear fabric represents a year or two of collecting. They came from (top to bottom): Fashion Fabrics Club, Spandex by Yard, Fabric Mart, Fabric Mart, and Spandex by Yard.
Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam
I also got this from Spandex by Yard. It exactly matches the fabric used in some of the inspiration pictures on my Pinterest board. Hopefully I will use it next year.

I also ordered swimwear elastic.

Pattern Choices and Materials:

  • Top: narrow strap tankini top with mid scoop neckline and halter mid back
  • Bottoms: mid cut leg low waist bikini bottoms AND mid cut leg high waist bikini bottoms
  • Outer fabric: Seafoam Nylon/Lycra Swimwear/Activewear Knit by Milly and Bright Pear Polyester/Lycra Swimwear/Activewear Knit by Milly, both from Fabric Mart and now sold out, and striped poly/spandex fabric from spandexbyyard.com; I really like the feel and weight of each of these fabrics
  • Lining fabric: polyester swimwear lining fabric from spandexbyyard.com; this has a more cotton-y feel than linings I have used in the past (which were more slippery), but so far, so good!
  • Elastic: 1/4″ natural swimwear elastic and 1/2″ White Polyester Latex Free Elastic which can stand up to saltwater and chlorine just like swimwear elastic; both were from Sew Sassy Fabrics
  • Swim cups: made of poly laminate foam from Sew Sassy Fabrics
  • Size: My measurements were a little bit scattered through several sizes, but size 20 was the most common, so I chose that
  • Stitch info: I used polyester thread for my top thread and woolly nylon in my bobbin; 75/11 stretch needle; average presser foot pressure (3 on my machine); my stitch choice was a 3-step zig zag with a height of 5 and stitch length of 0.5

Upon looking through the directions for this pattern, I have to say–I was impressed. This pattern is a TOME. It’s huge. There are so many options and possible variations, that it must have been a lot of work to put it all together. I felt like I had gotten a pretty good deal for the price. I had my doubts about the ability of elastic straps that were only 1/4″ wide to provide bust support, but I decided to give it a try and trust the pattern.

To begin, I converted all my half-width pattern pieces into full-size pattern pieces so that I could easily cut everything on a single layer of fabric.

The various sections of the pattern instructions are well labeled, allowing you to print out only what you need. I liked the photos that went with the instructions as well as the various charts to help you figure out measurements and strap length. I found that the listed strap lengths worked well for me. However, I was a little confused on the strap/tie measurements chart because there was no area labeled halter/open back like in the line drawings. I think that the “Wide Low Back” down through the “Open Back No Tie” sections are meant to correlate with that.

Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam

I liked that there were instructions for sewing cups into your lining, and I thought the lining looked nice overall once it was in.

Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam
Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam

One thing I would change, however, is this: the shelf bra will have exposed elastic. My elastic was not particularly soft, so I ended up making a casing for it.

Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam

Next time, I wouldn’t trim the bikini pattern piece by 1/2″ as instructed to create the shelf bra pattern piece. I would leave the extra length as in the bikini top pattern piece and fold my extra fabric over my elastic to cover it. The elastic shown in the picture in the instructions looks much softer than what I was using. (It looks like plush bra strapping, actually.) If you have softer elastic, it wouldn’t be such a big deal to have it exposed.

Straps were nice and easy to make. I loved having the striped fabric for my straps.

Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam

Once my top was finished, I tried it on, but found that, as I feared, 1/4″ elastic straps were not supportive enough for me. I quickly made myself a pair of 1/2″ straps and sewed them on as well, creating a fun strappy look on the shoulders and back.

Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam
Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam
I thought it best to add some extra reinforcement in the form of a satin stitch where I attached the straps in front.
Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam

Next I made the low rise, mid leg bikini bottoms.

Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam
Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam

They came together quickly, but when I tried everything on, I found that the front of the tankini was slightly shorter than the back on me and paired with the low rise bottoms, showed a bit of my stomach in a way I didn’t want it to.

Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam

I also found that the leg holes were somewhat loose in the back around the rear, although they provided excellent coverage and I liked the leg height I had chosen.

Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam
Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam

I liked the bottoms overall, but I wanted full stomach coverage from the suit as a whole, and I wanted to wear it to the beach the next day.

I’m not a good (or fast) panic sewer, but I was determined. The next morning, I quickly cut a set of high rise, mid leg bottoms. I asked my family not to talk to me for a little bit, and I set about to sew these up in an hour. I stretched the leg elastic tighter this time around. And I finished in time!!!

Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam
Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam
Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam
Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam

These bottoms were the perfect height with the top, although the leg holes were still a bit loose in back. But it didn’t matter in that moment! I threw on my new suit, and headed to the beach! And I felt awesome!

Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam

Final Thoughts

Pros: My takeaways from making this pattern are, in general, that it’s a cool pattern with a lot of possibilities. I’m excited to try more of the variations in the future. In fact, I think that if you paired this pattern with the Vero Beach Set from Hey June Handmade, you would have your perfect beachwear patterns for the summer.

Cons: Some things to change about this pattern are, first and foremost, the elastic. Quarter inch and 1/2″ elastic are just not substantial enough for great support. I would go up to 3/8″ and 3/4″ in the future. It would also be a good idea for me, personally, to lengthen the front of the tankini if I make it again and tighten the leg elastic further.

In an ideal world where I realize all of my sewing ideas, I would make a few mix and match tankinis and then make several bikini tops and rash guards that would coordinate with the bottoms I had already made. Then I would make several of the Vero Beach shorts from board short material as well as a top or two from the Vero Beach set, and I would be ready for any outdoor adventure where I might decide partway through that I needed to go for a swim. 🙂