Author Archives: Lisa Poblenz (patternandbranch)

About Lisa Poblenz (patternandbranch)

I love sewing and taking pictures! Pattern and Branch is my sewing blog with periodic photography posts (and occasional other side wanderings). It's a journal of my creative practice that I hope will add to the wider community and serve as a personal record to help me remember the details of my projects (because sometimes I need help with that). Welcome to this space! Join in the conversation!

Adventures in Colorwork: Glacier Park Cowl

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Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

This summer, I decided to knit the Glacier Park Cowl by Caitlin Hunter of Boyland Knitworks. 

Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

I was going on a road trip and I wanted something interesting (but not too hard) that I could take with me.  I had some black Malabrigo yarn left over from a hat I had made, and I knew I wanted to use it with a hand-dyed speckled yarn from Pintuck & Purl.  I found the perfect (irresistable!) yarn by Birch Dyeworks: a beautiful turquoise and white speckled yarn with surprising flecks of colors here and there.  This was going to be good.

I bought my pattern via Ravelry at Pintuck & Purl.  Then I freaked out.  The pattern had a chart.  I didn’t remember how to knit from a chart!  My colorwork experiences were too long ago!  What was I going to do?!  Before I could work myself up too much, Mary from Birch Dyeworks, who happened to be in the store, talked me down and explained how to use a color chart.  It was just a stitch for every square.  I could totally do this.  OK.  Deep breath.  Back to EXCITEMENT LEVEL 100.  😉

I cast on my project in July (I think) and worked on it a little bit here and there for about four months, finishing last month.  Sometimes I didn’t work on it for days.  Sometimes I only did one round.  I was practicing my Continental knitting skills and my color skills.  I learned to knit with two colors Continental style by watching this video from Voolenvine and this video from Garnstudio repeatedly until I got the idea.

Here are the details of this project:

Pattern:  Glacier Park Cowl by Caitlin Hunter of Boyland Knitworks (purchased from the designer’s Ravelry page in-store at Pintuck & Purl, which benefits both the designer and the store–super cool!)

Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

Yarn:  black Malabrigo fingering (or sock?) yarn (bought some time ago) and Birch Dyeworks Nymph on a Bender fingering/sock yarn (the latter purchased from Pintuck & Purl);  I didn’t use a full skein of either, but I also made my cowl smaller than it was meant to be according to the pattern.

Needles:  I used a US 1, 24″ circular needle from Pintuck & Purl.  I started off with a longer circular needle, since I that is what I had, but it was a pain to stretch my knitting around, so I finally broke down and bought a better size for the project.  No regrets.

My gauge after blocking:  31 stitches and 50 rows over 4″ in colorwork.  My ribbing sections are significantly looser.  The gauge for the pattern is supposed to be 28 stitches and 34 rows over 4″ in the colorwork pattern.  I bet you can guess if I made a test swatch or not.  Nope!  Part of why I like cowls is that they are easy-fitting and I can dive right in.  Looks like I need to go up in needle size for the colorwork section if I ever make this again.

Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

Size after blocking: 8.5″ tall by 20″ in circumference.  The pattern was meant to have a height of 12″ with a circumference of 24″.  I noticed that my cowl was going to have a smaller circumference, so I decided to make it shorter as well to keep it proportional.

Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

This project, though it took me awhile, was a joy to make.  I loved the simplicity of the easy ribbing and continual knit stitch with the complexity of following the color chart.  I REALLY loved seeing the pattern emerge and discovering what color would show up next in the hand-dyed yarn.  It was always an exciting surprise when a little fleck of pink or yellow made an appearance.  Looking for that next bit of color really helped me get excited to keep knitting.

Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

I was disappointed that my ribbing was looser than the rest of my knitting (and it tends to flip to the outside when I wear it, which is annoying), but I blocked it and then brought it in to Pintuck & Purl to show Maggie and Mary, and it turns out that I’m not the only one who thinks it’s beautiful.  They looked at the inside and Mary turned to me and said, “You’re good at this!”  I was so surprised! And it was a huge compliment to see them admire it.  It isn’t perfect, but I’m good at this!

Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

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Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

And you know, I have this crazy idea that I might want to make it again.  I have a simple white and pink cowl that I made a year or two ago that isn’t quite as great to wear as I want it to be, so I might just unravel it and try this pattern again with the leftover black yarn I have.  I could change the needle size for the colorwork section and see what happens.  I love this pattern and I now understand why people like to knit with fingering/sock yarn–it makes a drapey, comfortable fabric that is really nice to wear.  I wear this cowl all the time!

Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

I think I’m getting drawn in by colorwork.  I love, love, love color and if I can just find that sweet spot of simple + interesting, then maybe I’ll keep knitting.  I still love sewing more, but it is nice to have a knitting project in the background for when you want a little change or want something to work on while watching a movie or going on a road trip.  I dove into another colorwork project after this one, but got so frustrated I quit, so coming back to this and trying to do better on my second attempt sounds kind of nice right now…even if it takes me until next summer.  😉

Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

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Quick and Easy Baby Gift: Rae’s Basic Baby Pant

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Quick and Easy Baby Gift:  Rae’s Basic Baby Pant

Today I have something a little different for you.  Baby pants!

Quick and Easy Baby Gift:  Rae's Basic Baby Pant

One of my best friends is having a baby soon, and I wanted to make something special for her soon-to-arrive little boy.  I had just finished the coziest pajama pants for myself (yet to be blogged), and I had some leftover fabric.  It was perfect for some soft and cozy pants for a tiny baby.

Quick and Easy Baby Gift:  Rae's Basic Baby Pant

A little search on the internet led me to this free pattern:  Rae’s Basic Baby Pant from Made by Rae.  It comes in a roomy newborn size, so I decided that I would make a few from any cute boy flannel I had, and would buy some little newborn onesies to go along with them.

I found two pieces of flannel in my stash:  the Cloud9 organic flannel I mentioned from Pintuck & Purl designed by Eloise Renouf and a faux bois flannel from Joann Fabrics.  Both are from several years ago, so the fabric isn’t around anymore (unless Joann’s has reprinted).  They are favorite prints of mine that I have been saving for just the right projects.

The pattern itself was really quick and easy to sew.  I changed a few things from the printed directions, but not many.  I used French seams, since I didn’t want any fraying on the inside that could wrap around little baby toes.

Quick and Easy Baby Gift:  Rae's Basic Baby Pant

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Quick and Easy Baby Gift:  Rae's Basic Baby Pant

Then I basted the side seam allowances down where the elastic casing would be at the waist to make it easier to thread the elastic through.  Finally, I hemmed the bottoms by pressing up 1/4″ to the wrong side, and then pressing up that much again to the wrong side, enclosing the raw edge.

Quick and Easy Baby Gift:  Rae's Basic Baby Pant

If you follow the tutorial on Rae’s blog, she tells you to hem the bottom (it’s just missing from the PDF instructions) and includes lots of pictures for all the steps.  She talks about sizing, noting that these are roomy enough for babies wearing cloth diapers, and goes over ways you can adapt the pattern for slightly older babies.

This was a really quick, easy, and satisfying sew.  I haven’t been inspired to sew baby gifts much in recent years, but I think this might be my go-to sewing project for baby gifts for a little while.  The cuteness is real!  😉

Quick and Easy Baby Gift:  Rae's Basic Baby Pant

Before I go, I have a question for any other bloggers out there.  Where do you store your pictures?  This blog is a free WordPress blog, and I ran out of picture space long ago. I’ve been storing my photos on Flickr because you could have a free account with unlimited space.  However Flickr has been sold, and in order for me to keep using Flickr (and not have half my photos deleted), I need to pay a yearly fee.  With the exception of about four people, the only people who save my Flickr photos or follow or message me on Flickr are definitely not people in the sewing community.  Let’s just say I’ve had to block a lot of sketchy accounts.  If I could keep my photos private and still have them show up on the blog, I would.  Because I don’t make money with this blog, I’d prefer not to pay to keep it going.  Is there some other obvious way to store photos?  What do you do?  Do you pay or not?  I will if I have to, but if I can keep blog production free, that would be great.  Thanks for any help you can give!

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

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Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

As my husband helped me take the pictures for this post, he and I chuckled.  Another t-shirt post!  Everybody’s favorite!  Usually the plain t-shirt posts, woven and knit, don’t get much response on the blog, but I post them anyway because I think they help the community (the more information on individual patterns, the better) and they help me (I forget what I’ve done in a very short amount of time), so here we are.  Look how excited I am!  I bet you are excited now, too, right?

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

The good news is, while these t-shirts aren’t perfect, I’m really glad I made them.  They are good first drafts that give me the information I need to make even better versions in the future if I want to.

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

Pictured above:  both t-shirts almost finished–they just need hems.

This is the Lark Tee from Grainline Studio.  I chose this pattern because it was a good basic with a lot of variations (four sleeves and four necklines, all interchangeable).  I don’t usually want to take the time to hack patterns, so I liked that this had a lot of options.  I’ve made a green scoop-neck, long-sleeved version and a striped short-sleeved, crew-neck version.  I didn’t love the long-sleeved one, but that was due to my fabric choice.  The crew-neck version was better.

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

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Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

So here’s what I did for this project.

I chose a size 12 for the bust and a 14 for the waist and hips, as well as the standard short sleeves (rather than the cap sleeves) to go with the v-neck front.  This is a slim, but not tight fit with some positive ease, like a good, basic t-shirt.  I chose a 100% polyester fabric from JoAnn that was gray with neon flecks for one of my shirts (I got drawn in by the neon flecks, pictured below.  So good!) and a cotton/polyester blend from Fabric Mart in white for the other.

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

What I should have done, but didn’t, was look at the cutting layout for the t-shirts.  I haven’t made a t-shirt in a little while, and I wasn’t thinking about how wide knits often are.  I should have folded my selvages in toward the middle like the cutting layout shows, but instead, I just folded my knits in half and layered one fabric over the other, lining up the folds so I could cut both out at the same time.  I was very proud of that move….until I realized that my gray shirt was going to be an inch shorter than I had planned because of how I had folded the fabric, and I didn’t have enough to recut it.  Oops!  As it was, I had already removed 4″ from the length of the pattern at the bottom, so the gray shirt is actually 5″ shorter than drafted, I think.

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

I ended up using a 3/8″ seam allowance rather than the 1/4″ called for because otherwise my needle would go off of my fabric.  I had planned to use my serger, but it’s still new to me, and I adjusted too many things at once, so it wasn’t working.  I used a jersey 80/12 needle and a 3-step zigzag with a height of 4.5 and a stitch length of 0.5 as well as using a light presser foot pressure and 100% polyester thread in the top and in the bobbin.  I did not finish my seams as suggested in the “Sewing the Knits” section of the instructions.  I don’t think that is necessary unless your knit is prone to unraveling.  I do suggest trying out your stitches on scraps of your knit before sewing your shirt.  Once you sew the stitch you think you want on a doubled up scrap of your fabric, stretch it hard in both directions.  If the stitches pop, adjust your stitch length and/or width (or which stitch you are using) and try again until the stitches don’t pop when you stretch the fabric.

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

I made sure to sew twill tape into my shoulder seams (you can also use clear elastic) so that they wouldn’t stretch out.  This wasn’t in the directions, but experience has taught me that this is a good idea.

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

I wish the instructions for installing the V neckline had been explicit about what type of stitch to use when.  A lot of knit sewing on a sewing machine requires a zigzag.  I had to guess if that was necessary or if I could get away with a straight stitch.  I used a straight stitch (and 1/4″ seam allowance) when sewing the ends of the neck binding together, as well as for the staystitching at the point of the v-neck.  When attaching the neck binding to the shirt body, I sewed with a straight stitch near where I had staystitched, but then went around the rest of the neck with my 3-step zigzag, sewing over the part I had previously sewn with a straight stitch.  You can see all the wrinkles around my neck–this doesn’t make for the smoothest seam, but I was afraid that if I used a straight stitch I would pop the stitches when I pulled it over my head (speaking from experience).  I tried to mitigate the not-so-straight edge by using a double needle to topstitch around the neckline.  It didn’t work completely, but I haven’t popped any stitches!

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

I also used a twin needle to topstitch on top of the shoulders for a nice look and to keep the twill tape inside from flipping around in weird directions, and I used a twin needle on my hems, pulling the thread to the back and tying it off.  I often have trouble with my twin needle hems coming loose after a while.

My v-necks are a little bit rough, but I got them in, and I’m happy with them for my first tries.  I’m trying to be patient with myself as I learn new things, although it’s not always easy!  I definitely subscribe to the idea that done is better than perfect (aka unfinished forever).  Onward!

The last thing I realized AFTER I was finished was that both fabrics are…kind of see-through.  And no, I didn’t see that coming.  I have no idea how I missed it, but these shirts definitely need skin-colored undergarments and probably a camisole underneath.  So, maybe I just made myself a few undershirts instead of regular shirts.  Oh, well!  Learning experience!

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

My one little “trick” that I was pretty proud of was using Steam-A-Seam 2-1/4″ for my hems.  Steam-A-Seam 2 is a sticky, double-sided, fusible strip that you can use to temporarily hold fabric in place until you press it and then sew it.  It’s a little finicky, since it can stick to your fingers, but it’s very helpful.  My only tip as far as this goes, is to make sure that you fully cover the edges of the Steam-A-Seam with your fabric and stitching.  I found that on my sleeves, once I had hemmed them and then washed the shirt, the fabric rolled back slightly, and the edges of the Steam-A-Seam scratch my arms just a little.

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

Even with all their issues, I’m calling these t-shirts a win because I learned a lot:  I like this v-neck silhouette and I would make it again.  I can (hopefully) avoid the mistakes I made this time on future versions.  And every t-shirt I make helps me get that much better at sewing knits.  Looking back on other knit projects, I realize that I still have a lot to master in the way of professional techniques, but since the fit on knits is so forgiving, my many “learning experience” projects don’t bother me as much as my wonky projects in woven fabrics.  I don’t have a lot of my early woven garments, but I still wear a lot of my early knit projects.

I’m hoping to sew some more t-shirts soon, this time long-sleeved ones using the free Plantain Tee pattern.  Do you have a favorite t-shirt pattern?  If so, please share!

I’m going to take next week off since Thursday is Thanksgiving in the US, so I’ll be back after that!  Happy Thanksgiving to my US readers!

 

Queue Jumper: Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

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Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

Hi, friends!  I’m back with another sewing project.  Truth be told, I have a few others that have been finished for a little while, but since this one jumped in front of everything else on my sewing list, it seems appropriate for it to jump to the front of my blogging list, too.  😉

The Women’s Kimono Jacket from Wiksten, commonly called the Wiksten Kimono has been pretty popular in the sewing community.  The first version of this pattern, by Jenny Gordy of the sewing pattern company Wiksten, came out in Making Magazine No. 4/Lines.  Since then, Jenny has updated the pattern, adding different lengths and refining the fit, and you can now buy it as a standalone pattern if you don’t have access to that issue of Making.

Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

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Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

I wasn’t too sure about the pattern at first, so I followed the #wikstenkimono hashtag on Instagram and got a look at what people were making.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was my kind of jacket, and people reported that they loved the process of sewing it.  When Pintuck & Purl stocked the pattern, I made sure to snap one up.

When contemplating which version to make and what fabric to use, I initially planned to make the mid-length version.  As the weather cooled off, though, I thought maybe I would want the long one to wear over leggings and cozy up in during the cold months.  Most of the versions on Instagram during the time I was trying to make fabric choices were in linen, and I considered using some yellow linen for it, but then I had a thought.  Why not figure out what it was that made me reach for favorite garments in the fall?  Which things did I want to pull on over my t-shirt when I was hanging out at home or meeting with friends to catch up?  Once I asked myself that, I could see I needed to make this jacket cozy.

My first thought was cotton flannel lined with fleece, to get a feel like a fleece-lined flannel shirt.  It might end up looking like a bathrobe, but it seemed like it was a risk worth taking for my first version.  Even if it was only something to wear at home, it would still be a win.  I talked it over with some of the ladies at Pintuck & Purl, and realized that we had some very cozy flannel that no one had tried yet, AND I had already purchased some pink (“Heather”) Cloud9 Tinted Denim that would be GREAT with that flannel.  I was planning to make pants with the Tinted Denim, but this idea struck me as an even better idea.

Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

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Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

I was told very firmly that I needed to at least try to pattern match my plaid and that I was going to have to straighten out the grain on the flannel just a bit because it was a plaid that I needed to try to pattern match.  It’s not uncommon for fabric to become off-grain as it goes on the bolt, and while it’s usually not an issue, this was something I should try to put right.  I only offered weak resistance, because I knew they were right.

I took my flannel home and prewashed and dried it, and then my husband and I attempted to pull the fabric on the bias from opposite sides to try to get it back on grain.  I think it worked.  Believe it or not, that was the first time I had ever tried that.

Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

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Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

Both the flannel and denim are nice and soft.  The denim is fairly lightweight.  I’ve used it before for these shorts and this shirt (in yellow), and I really love it.  It’s such a nice fabric that ages beautifully, softening up over time.  The flannel is from a company that is new to me, Marcus Fabrics.  This buffalo check comes from their Primo Plaid Flannels:  Classic Tartans line.  So far, I really like it–it’s extra soft.

Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

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Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

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Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

Other than that, I used whatever thread I had lying around (which meant I used three subtly different shades of pink, switching to the next shade when the previous one ran out).  I also tried sew-in interfacing this time (pictured below).  Normally I just use basic fusible Pellon interfacing from Jo-Ann Fabrics, but I got a bunch of Si-Bonne interfacing from an estate sale I went to.  I hadn’t heard of this brand before, and I don’t think it’s around any more.  I put the interfacing in the washer and dryer to preshrink it, and then basted it to the collar pieces by hand (next time I’ll do it by machine).  A lot of people skip the interfacing in the collar, but I wanted to stick close to the pattern as written for my first attempt, with the exception of different pockets on the outside layer.

Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

The sewing itself wasn’t difficult.  I traced a large and cut the longest version.  I changed my outer pockets to larger ones that extended across each side of the front pieces with an angled top, and I had fun adding extra topstitching to the top and bottom.  My topstitching inspiration came from Helen’s version as well as a fashion image I have of a jacket collar with multiple parallel lines of topstitching.  I lined it with flannel so it would be soft and warm.  I also added the original patch pockets to the inside so the jacket would be reversible and so that no matter which way I wore it, I would have inside and outside pockets.  I am so happy about that decision every time I wear this jacket (and I have worn it most days since I finished it).  I cut the patch pockets on the bias for visual interest and made sure to line them with denim so that they wouldn’t stretch out of shape.  In a perfect world, I probably would have cut the flannel side of the collar on the bias as well, since it would have looked really cool, but I didn’t buy enough for that.

Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

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Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

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Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

I was nervous about the plaid matching, so I decided to try to match the horizontal lines of the plaid at the side seams, which turned out great.  The flannel on the collar was too much for my brain, so that doesn’t really match where it attaches to the body, but because of how the collar folds out to contrast whichever side is on the outside at the time, you don’t really see them together.

Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

I love how I managed to match things up at the center back collar seam, though!

Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

When I put this on after I finished sewing it, I looked in the mirror, saw how huge it was…and loved it.  Sometimes I make something oversized and don’t like it, but this is huge, and I LOVE it.  It feels so good to wear, and is so cozy and, in its own genre, is pretty cool.  I’ve worn it with jeans and leggings, both with the sleeves cuffed and un-cuffed, and can definitely see myself making other versions.  I’d love to make the mid-length, and maybe even the short length in a fancier fabric.  The sew-in interfacing makes the collar soft and substantial, perfect for turning up to cover my neck when it’s cold.  I could definitely see making other versions in wool or maybe my original flannel + fleece idea.

Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

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Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

If you are new to sewing, and this is a style you like, this would be a great pattern to try.  It’s not too difficult and it’s a pleasure to sew, not to mention you get two garments in one since you can wear it as a reversible garment if you want to.  If you’re not new to sewing and you like this style, I think you’ll like it too.

Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

Update:  After wearing this for three days and then washing it, I went back and edgestitched/topstitched along the bottom and the outer edge of the collar.  My flannel fabric wanted to roll to the outside, even after having understitched during assembly (I think it’s a looser weave than the denim).  I’m hoping this will help prevent that.  Even so, I love the jacket and have worn it most days since making it.

Why Do You Make Things? (Or: The Knitting Project That Didn’t Work Out)

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Why Do You Make Things? (Or:  The Knitting Project That Didn’t Work Out)

Today I have a knitting project that I finished earlier this year, but have waited to post until the weather turned cool.  This isn’t so much about my failed and salvaged hat project, though.  It’s about what that failed and salvaged hat made me consider.

Why do you make things?

Last winter, I decided I would knit the Traveling Cable Hat, a free pattern from Purl Soho in some beautiful yarn from Romney Ridge.  I’ve knit cables before, so I thought I could do it, even though it might be challenging.  I’m not a perfectionist, and I don’t like to go back and fix every single mistake.  I prefer to finish.  This project, however, was one I tried to be precise in.  There were parts I didn’t understand, so I looked things up and asked other knitters.  I ripped back when I made a mistake and read and reread the directions to try to get things right.  I got frustrated and persevered, and to say I wasn’t enjoying myself is putting it lightly.  My husband kept asking, “Why do you keep knitting?”  The question surprised me at first, because he’s always one of my biggest supporters.  He always encourages me to push through, knowing I can finish the project.  But he could see that this one was one long, downhill slide.

Why do you make things?

When I sew, I certainly don’t enjoy every moment of every project.  There are times I get frustrated and have to put my project aside for a while until I can figure out how to solve a problem or until I’m not so annoyed, but overall I enjoy it.  I enjoy knitting, too, although I’m not nearly as successful with knitting as I am with sewing.  In fact, my last few knitting projects have ended up…OK, but not amazing.

Why do you make things?

His question made me think, though.  Why do I sew?  Why do I knit?  What am I looking for in my photography?  What do I want to get out of each and is it the same for every one?

It’s important to think about what we do.  After all, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” (Socrates)  I don’t mean you have to give great weight to every activity in your life, but it’s worth it to figure out what you want to get out of your creative endeavors and why.

So, here’s what I came up with, for me, at this point in my life.

Knitting is for enjoyment.  I like knitting.  I like its tactile nature and I like the act of knitting.  I want to knit things that are simple enough that I can work on them while talking to a friend or watching a movie, but still interesting enough that I’m not completely bored.  However, this is not the craft I currently want to challenge myself in.  I don’t want to dive deep and learn every knitting technique and method out there.  I don’t want to do a ton of problem solving with my knitting.  I want a project that’s not too taxing, but is still enjoyable.

Photography is for seeking out and capturing beauty.  I’ve also been thinking about photography in this vein.  Even with this medium, which I’ve loved since I was quite young, I don’t want to get into the technical aspects.  I’m interested in composition and accurately recording what I see that I find beautiful, but I’m not interested in doing that deep dive right now.

Sewing is my creative practice.  Sewing, on the other hand, is exactly the place I want to dive deep.  I want to try new things, read all the blog posts, magazines, and books, and add skill to skill.  I want to see what it will be like to make certain kinds of things.  I love the planning and the finishing in sewing.  I love to wear what I’ve made, and I love discovering that I can learn new things and get good at something!  I don’t get into the process in the same way that I do with knitting–I’m heading for that end goal–but I do like the problem-solving involved with sewing.  It makes me smarter and it teaches me about how to handle other hurdles in life.  This is where I want to spend my mental energy and challenge myself.  This is where I want to work hard and grow.  This is my medium, my craft, and my art.  At this time in my life, sewing is my creative practice, and through it, I have learned so much, and I have gained so much.  I’m really thankful for it.

So after struggling with that pattern through the ribbing and the cable set-up, and after thinking all this over and coming to these conclusions, I gave up on it and stitched the rest in stockinette stitch, using another pattern to figure out the decreases for the top.  And I enjoyed it.  I can’t tell you if the Traveling Cable Hat pattern is good or not.  I gave up on it.  But I’m glad I started it because it (and my husband’s question) made me evaluate why I’m creating in the ways I’m creating and what I want to get out of each medium, where I want to spend my mental energy, and what I should call success in each area.

Why do you make things?

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Why do you make things?

What do you want to get out of your creative pursuits?  They don’t have to be sewing or knitting or photography.  They might be your hobby or they might be your job, but why do you love them?  What is the end goal for you?  Even if you can’t yet figure out the full and complete answer, taking the time to think through these questions will be worth the effort.

Kalle Shirt in Cotton and Steel “Mochi” Speckled Navy Lawn

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Kalle Shirt in Cotton and Steel “Mochi” Speckled Navy Lawn

It may not be the best for cool fall temperatures, but I love my new Kalle Shirt from Closet Case Patterns.

Cropped Kalle Shirt

I made myself a little batch of sewing projects to transition from summer to fall, which seemed like a good idea when it was still warm.  It seems like less of a good idea now that it’s cooling off, but I’m committed!  And I have no regrets when it comes to this shirt.  I love it.  I have a little confession to make, though.  When I was trying to figure out what to wear the shirt with, I fell for the color combination of these thrifted pants with the shirt.  In my mind, this outfit was going to be AWESOME and would take the sewing and fashion world by storm!  Hahahaha!  It’s sort of a silly outfit with the wide shirt and wide pants and makes me look a little pregnant (I’m not), so THAT didn’t turn out quite like I planned, but these pictures took a long time to take, and there’s no turning back now, so here we are.  I suppose I ought to know better–most of my worst fashion moments come when I think I look super amazing.  A bit of “Pride goeth before a fall”?  😉  OR, on the flip side, “You have to risk big to win big”?  Haha.  Whatever!  Here we go!

Cropped Kalle Shirt

Despite the calendar saying October, two days after I finished sewing this shirt, we had 80 degree (Fahrenheit) weather, which is nice and warm, and I got to wear it to work with my sparkly linen shorts.  Perfect!  Part of what I love so much about this project is the fabric it’s made from.  My first plan was to cut up a linen tablecloth I have but don’t love.  I had been thinking about repurposing that tablecloth for a while, and then I saw Linda’s shirt over on her blog, Elle Gee Makes, and it was just the push I needed to actually do it.  Unfortunately, no matter how much pattern and fabric puzzle-piecing I did, the shirt just wasn’t going to fit on the available fabric.  So, I turned to my stash.

That’s when I saw this speckled Cotton + Steel lawn, a part of Rashida Coleman-Hale’s “Mochi” collection.  I had originally purchased this fabric from Pintuck & Purl to sew up a shirt pattern from the 1980’s, but I reassigned it to the Kalle.  It’s such a great fabric with so many different colors.  Also, I loved splatter paint designs as a kid, so there’s that.  😉  If you aren’t familiar with lawn, it’s a smooth, plain-woven fabric that is great for making shirts from.  It feels finer and thinner than most quilting cotton and is crisp rather than drapey.  This particular one is made from cotton.

Cropped Kalle Shirt

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Cropped Kalle Shirt

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Cropped Kalle Shirt

Let’s talk design details.  This pattern has a lot of options with three lengths and different collar, back pleat, and button placket options.  You can even optionally buy a PDF pattern for long sleeves.

Cropped Kalle Shirt

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Cropped Kalle Shirt

I chose the cropped shirt (View A), which I lengthened by three inches, in a straight size 14.  My measurements would put me in a 12 bust, 14/16 waist and 16 hip, so I guess I chose the 14 to split the difference and avoid having to grade between sizes, even though that’s what I usually do.  I’m happy with how this turned out, though, so I think it was a fine choice.  As for the other options, I chose the band collar, back box pleat, and hidden button placket.  One bonus:  the relaxed fit of this shirt meant that I didn’t have to do a broad back adjustment.  That’s rare for me.

Cropped Kalle Shirt

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Cropped Kalle Shirt

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Cropped Kalle Shirt

I did have several moments of confusion while sewing this pattern.  Unlike some patterns, however, I could tell that this was because I was learning new techniques, not because the instructions were bad.  This was my first hidden placket, for instance, and I sewed my buttonholes through only one layer of fabric instead of two at first.  Luckily, I figured it out and managed to fix it, so all was good.

Cropped Kalle Shirt

After sewing the side seams, there is a suggestion that you could flat fell the seams.  If you want to do this, you would have to change things up a bit since flat felled seams are typically made on the outside–or you could just make them on the inside.  I chose to serge my seams because I’m still trying to get used to my serger and one of my goals is to actually USE it.  So far I only have black and white serger thread, so I used black here (as you can see below).

When it came to attaching the facing, rather than topstitching it into place, I just made sure my top thread and bobbin thread were the same color and I stitched from the underside to make sure I was catching everything.  Unlike my normal practice, I didn’t choose contrasting thread for topstitching–I just used navy throughout, which hides a lot of mistakes!

Cropped Kalle Shirt

The only other area I got confused on was attaching the sleeve cuffs.  I think the instructions could be a little bit clearer in this area.  I was very confused, so I turned to the sewalong online, which differs from the instructions after the second point.  I found that easier to follow, so I printed the information off and put it in my instruction booklet for the next time I make this.

And I do hope to make this again at some point.  I’m interested in trying the tunic length with the popover placket.  It will have to wait until at least next year, though, as I really like the look of the short sleeves, and would want to do that again.

Even though the weather is turning cold now, I’m really glad I got this in.  I love this shirt in this fabric, and I’m excited to wear it.

Cropped Kalle Shirt

Morgan Jeans!

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Morgan Jeans!

I’m working through a batch of transitional garments as we go from warm to cool weather, and first up is a pair of Morgan Jeans from Closet Case Patterns.

Morgan Jeans!

I made a short pair this summer, and wanted to try a full-length pair, hoping for some pants that would be good for daily wear and that I could layer over long underwear in the cold weather.

Morgan Jeans!

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Morgan Jeans!

My measurements put me in a 14 waist and 16 hip, but as I discovered this summer, that 14 waist is just too small.  I ended up adding extra fabric at the top of those pants, so I wrote myself a note to make a straight 16 next time.  Well…as I read the description, I noticed that these are drafted to fit closely, assuming that the non-stretch denim will relax over time.  I don’t love tight jeans and I wanted these to fit over long underwear in winter when layering is an act of survival, so I chickened out on the sizing and decided to trace an 18 to be safe.

Morgan Jeans!

I was lucky enough to be visiting Fabric Place Basement in Natick, MA when they were having a denim sale and, after vacillating between some non-stretch selvedge denim that was 30″ wide and a 60″ wide non-stretch denim, I went with the wider fabric, not least because I could make two pairs of jeans for the price of one in selvedge denim.  The more thrifty I can be, the more projects I can make!  That’s a huge consideration for me.  Happily, I managed to get enough denim to make a pair of jeans for about $15.

Morgan Jeans!

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Morgan Jeans!

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Morgan Jeans!

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Morgan Jeans!

The pattern and topstitching thread came from Pintuck & Purl, as did the Cotton + Steel fabric I used for my pockets.  It was left over from this shirt.

Morgan Jeans!

My jeans buttons are from Wawak.

Morgan Jeans!

As far as the pattern goes, here are my notes:

  • I bound the edges of the pocket facings with bias tape, because I think it looks really nice.Morgan Jeans!

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    Morgan Jeans!

  • I also like the look of French seams at the bottom of the pockets (this is a suggestion in the pattern).Morgan Jeans!
  • I recommend sewing your buttonholes, slicing them open, and using Fray Check on them before you sew the fly placket into your pants, just in case you have issues.  It’s not such a big deal to recut the piece and redo it before sewing it in.  I accidentally sewed my bright thread on the bottom of my fly placket, so next time if I want contrast stitching, I’ll put it for my top thread and in the bobbin.Morgan Jeans!
  • One thing to note, my button fly placket extended above the top of my pants.  I think I should have matched the top of my fly shield to the top of my button fly placket, because I matched the top of it to my pants and it was weirdly low.  I had to trim it and finish it with my serger.  Incidentally, I have a new-to-me vintage serger that is working!!!  I was able to use it to finish my seams. A billion thanks to Pintuck & Purl for servicing it!Morgan Jeans!

More tips:

  • When putting the back together, wait to trim the seam joining the yoke and back legs until after you have topstitched it–then you don’t have to worry about missing the seam as you topstitch.
  • As Heather, the designer, suggests in her Ginger Jeans sewalong (in this post), it makes sense to finalize your back pocket placement at the end so you can put them in the optimal spot for your unique back side.  In the end, I moved the pockets a little bit, but not too much. Morgan Jeans!

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    Morgan Jeans!

  • One other new thing I tried was installing the waistband using Lladybird’s tutorial (skip to the end of the linked post).  It was really helpful and makes so much sense.  The gist of it is that you sew your inside waistband seam first so that when you are turning under the seam allowance and finishing the waistband, you are topstitching from the outside, and you never have to worry about catching an inner facing–it’s already attached.  It makes more sense in the post, but it’s a very logical order of steps.  I like it.
  • I interfaced my waistband this time to make it less stretchy, but I really should have graded my seams better around where my buttonhole was going to go.  I had to sew through so many layers to make my buttonhole that I ended up fudging things to make it longer and it still takes a good amount of effort to get that top button buttoned and unbuttoned.  You don’t want to have a bathroom emergency in these pants!Morgan Jeans!

Last tip:

  • Use Fray Check on the edge of your belt loops to keep them from fraying every time you wash them.  It doesn’t take care of the fraying entirely, but it helps.

All right, now after all of that, what’s the final consensus?  Well…my jeans are really comfy…they will fit over long underwear…but they do look a little big.

Morgan Jeans!

They’re perfect when they come out of the dryer…for about 5 minutes, and then they are comfortably loose.  Also, it may be the style with boyfriend jeans, but I’m not sure that I like them cuffed.

Morgan Jeans!

So I guess I’ll have a better take on them after wearing them during cold weather, but my gut feeling is that, especially if I were to make these in a thinner denim, I should go down to a 16.  Or maybe I should just look for a pair of pants with a straighter, wider leg.  I think I convinced myself that these were like that, but they really are a closer fitting, non-stretch jean, which is actually obvious from the cover art and the sample photos.  Well, live and learn!  That one’s on me!  😉

Morgan Jeans!

The good news is that whether or not these are the perfect jeans for me, the pattern itself is high quality and well done, which is consistently true with Closet Case Patterns.

Fall Sewing Inspiration

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One of the best things about sewing is the limitless possibilities it presents.  Every pattern or bit of gorgeous fabric is loaded with possibility.  As if that weren’t enough, people-watching provides its own set of garment styles and combinations to consider, as does “shopping” for ideas in stores.  Sewing gives me the power to make the things I see in the colors I want with the modifications necessary to fit me well.  While I like the process of sewing, with its inherent building of skill on skill and opportunity to try new things, I think my favorite parts are the planning and the finishing.

Fall Sewing Inspiration

I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to focus on for the fall for a long time now.  While in the warmer months I like to sew woven fabrics like cotton and linen in order to make garments that stand away from my body and allow air to flow, in the cooler months I have different priorities.  I want my clothes to allow for layering and feel like a warm hug.  😉  I’m looking for pants that either have enough room for long underwear to fit underneath or that are stretchy (like leggings) for ultimate comfort and flexibility.  I find myself drawn to knit tops (typically t-shirts) more frequently than woven tops because they are comfortable and can hold warmth in.  Additionally, in the last few years I’ve been thinking that it would be helpful to focus more on cardigans or light jackets rather than pullover-style sweaters and sweatshirts.  That way I can layer, adding interest to my outfits with various colors and textures, while keeping in step with the temperature around me.

All this leads me toward these garment types to focus on:  looser pants, t-shirts/knit tops, and cardigans/jackets.  I’m going to list some pattern ideas (with links and/or pictures) in each category.  I don’t plan to make all of these–they’re just ideas–but hopefully, if you are thinking along similar lines, you’ll find some interesting patterns to inspire you as well.

Pants

I’m tired of exclusively wearing closer-fitting jeans, even though it’s the silhouette I’ve grown used to seeing myself in.  It’s time to try some different styles.  I want pants that have ease for comfort and for the practicality of layering in colder weather.  For that reason, I’ve been exploring a few options.

  • Morgan Boyfriend Jeans by Closet Case Patterns.  I made a shorter version of these this summer, and I’m hoping they could be a good staple jean, especially if I go up a size for winter.Fall Sewing Inspiration

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    Fall Sewing Inspiration

  • Butterick 4995 wide-leg pants, View B.Fall Sewing Inspiration

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    Fall Sewing Inspiration

    I’ve had this pattern for ages (it is actually out of print (OOP), but you could find it on Etsy).  I have linen set aside for these, and currently have a muslin/toile cut out to see if I like the shape enough to make a final version.  If I do, I may see how I like linen for fall, or make it in another fabric and save the linen for spring/summer sewing.

  • Lander Pant by True Bias.Fall Sewing Inspiration

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    Fall Sewing Inspiration

    I wasn’t thrilled with these the first time I made them, but after wearing my first attempt for awhile, I think I could modify the fit to a place that I like.  I’ve seen some good corduroy versions of these.

  • Chinos.  I’m not entirely sure what pattern to use.  My top contenders are Simplicity 1696 (OOP), which I’ve made before (in gray sateen and octopus print),Fall Sewing Inspiration

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    Fall Sewing Inspiration

    Burda Style 7447 (OOP), which I haven’t tried yet,

    Fall Sewing Inspiration

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    Fall Sewing Inspiration

    Alina Design Co. Chi-Town Chinos, or Pauline Alice Port Trousers.  What I’m looking for is a tapered, but not tight style with a mid-rise, angled front pockets, and back welt pockets.  I’m leaning toward using the Simplicity or Burda patterns since I already own those, but I can’t decide if I like the fit on the Simplicity pants or not.  The zipper definitely needs to be set deeper in, but otherwise they are more or less what I want, and they are a known quantity.  I have Cloud9 Tinted Denim in “Heather” (pink) that would be great for these.

T-shirts/Knit Tops

  • Deer & Doe Plantain T-Shirt.Fall Sewing Inspiration

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    Fall Sewing Inspiration

    As soon as I tried this t-shirt, it became a favorite (merino wool knit and cactus print double brushed poly versions here).  The best part?  It’s FREE!  You can download the PDF to make it yourself, AND they have expanded their size range from what they had previously.  I have a wool knit and some Cotton + Steel cotton/spandex knit set aside for t-shirts.  My t-shirt situation is pretty sad right now, so I want to try to rectify that.

  • Coppélia by Papercut Patterns.Fall Sewing Inspiration

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    Fall Sewing Inspiration

    This top can be a cropped wrap top or a longer faux wrap top.  My first version of the faux wrap top didn’t have the amount of stretch or ease I wanted, so I passed it on, but I would love to try again, especially since I want another chance to get that neck-band right.  I loved this pattern, even though my initial attempts weren’t perfect.

  • I had forgotten about Vogue 8950 (still in print!),Fall Sewing Inspiration

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    Fall Sewing Inspiration

    which is very similar to Papercut Patterns’ Ensis Tee.  This would be a fun take on a t-shirt with great color blocking options, and it’s a Very Easy Vogue pattern, so it could be a nice, quick win.

Jackets

  • Simplicity 8700.Fall Sewing Inspiration

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    Fall Sewing Inspiration

    One of my long-term dreams has been to copy a favorite ready-to-wear jacket that I thrifted several years ago.

    Fall Sewing Inspiration

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    Fall Sewing Inspiration

    It’s slightly too small to be really comfortable and the upper back is too narrow, so I have often wished for a version that fits better.  I think this pattern could help me approximate my jacket.  If that doesn’t work, other pattern options could be these patterns designed for Simplicity by Wendy Mullin–Simplicity 4109 (OOP)

    Fall Sewing Inspiration

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    Fall Sewing Inspiration

    or Simplicity 3966 (OOP).

    Fall Sewing Inspiration

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    Fall Sewing Inspiration

    They’re out of print, but you can find them on Etsy or eBay.  I have some olive cotton twill that would work for this type of jacket.

  • Sapporo Coat by Papercut Patterns.  This is a really intriguing pattern.  It has interesting seamlines and definitely fits the category of clothing that could be like “a warm hug” for cold days.  The cocoon shape is such a weird, yet interesting fashion idea.  I go back and forth on how much I like the look of this one, but I find it really intriguing, and I’d love to make one.  Curiosity often gets the best of me with interesting patterns.
  • Women’s Kimono Jacket by Wiksten.  This falls into the same category as the Sapporo Coat in my mind.  I’m not sure it is always good-looking (although I have seen several versions that I thought looked great on Instagram), but it would be so comfortable and tick all my cool-weather clothing boxes.
  • Cardigans.  I want to think about this category further, but so far my only plan is to take the version of McCall’s 7476 I made last winter and cut it from floor-length to knee-length.Fall Sewing Inspiration

    McCall’s 7476

    Fall Sewing Inspiration

    As fun as it was to parade around like Darth Vader in his flowing cloak, the length I chose isn’t the most practical, and it needs to be chopped.  If I were to make this again, I would also raise the V front a bit.

So those are the things I’m mulling over most for fall.  Of course I’ve also considered a skirt or two, a jumpsuit, some activewear, etc.  I always have so many ideas, that I tend to forget a lot of them, which is why I write them down and then periodically look back through my sketches and notes.   I plan and plan and then finally come up with my next batch and a general list of ideas for potential future projects.  They never all get made, but that doesn’t bother me.  I also make myself a seasonal mood board on the back of the door nearest my sewing machine.   I’m not sure how good I am at weaving all of the mood board ideas into my sewing, but some of them do show up, and it’s a lot of fun to make.  One thing from my most recent mood board that stands out is that I really want to find a way to incorporate bright colors into my cool-weather garments.  That has been an ongoing project for the last couple of years, and one I need to work harder on.  I’ve found a lot of inspiration from Katie Kortman on Instagram.

In case you are interested, here is the first batch of projects that I already have started for the transition into fall (pictured at the top of this post):

  • Restyle of a basic skirt.  I want to change the back to an elastic waist and add pockets.
  • Two Lark Tees.  I have felt mixed about this pattern, but I haven’t tried the v-neck yet, so I’m going to give it a go and see if I like it.  I have two cut out.
  • Morgan Jeans.  These were going to be for later in the fall, but I put them on the fast track, and they are already finished.  I just need to photograph them.
  • A Kalle Shirt (shown below).  I lengthened the cropped version.Fall Sewing Inspiration
  • A muslin of Butterick 4995 wide-leg pants.  I want to see if I like these enough to make a final version.
  • My current ongoing knitting project is the Glacier Park Cowl by Caitlin Hunter.  I’m taking my time on this and learning to knit do colorwork while knitting Continental-style.Fall Sewing Inspiration

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    Fall Sewing Inspiration

Everything is traced and cut out, so now it’s time to sew, sew, sew (and knit).

Fall Sewing Inspiration

I got this antique drying rack on my last visit to Brimfield.  I’m testing it out as a structure to hold my traced and cut projects.

I’m hoping all the ideas I listed above will guide me as I make future plans throughout the fall and winter.  So, what about you?  If you want to play along, answer one or all of these questions in the comments below:

  • What is your ideal type of clothing for fall?
  • What are you planning or hoping to make in the cooler months (or the warmer months if you are in the Southern Hemisphere)?
  • What is inspiring you right now in your sewing?

Recommendations

  • After all this talk about planning, I have to recommend Episode 58:  Planning Projects on the Love to Sew Podcast.  If you like to plan projects (whether or not you actually make them), you will love this episode.
  • I’m recommending this to myself as much as to you:  go shopping and try on types of clothes that you are interested in sewing.  Don’t let yourself obsess over the fit or sizing of the clothes in the store.  Focus on if you like that style and if you would be excited to make it and wear your version that you made.  These days you can find a sewing pattern similar to most ready-to-wear styles.  How many failed projects could we save ourselves from if we did this?
  • I’ve been listening to The Innocence Mission a lot lately.  They make great music to sew to.  It’s like being in a quiet, magical world.