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!

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

Standard
Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

One of my big plans this past winter was to sew up some fleece leggings that I could wear under insulated skirts or skirts made from wool blankets.  The skirts never materialized (maybe next winter), but the leggings did, and that’s what I want to share with you today.  I suppose leggings can be kind of like t-shirts in that they don’t make for the most interesting of blog posts, but they get a lot of wear, especially when you are hanging around home and don’t have to see people outside of your family every day.  Activewear as loungewear for the win!

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

There is an old post on the Etsy blog circa 2012 where Cal Patch, pattern drafter, author, and maker extraordinaire explains how to draft leggings (i.e. create a leggings pattern) from your own measurements.  I tried using this tutorial before I started down the path of growing an immense pattern library, and it is a great one.  I still have some of the first leggings I made, but my measurements have changed since then, so I thought it was time for an updated pattern.

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

One of the cool things about these directions is that they create just one pattern piece.  Yep, that’s all you need to sew custom leggings with no outside seam.  If you want to get fancy down the road, you could always chop your pattern up and add outside side seams or pockets or whatever, but for the basic leggings, you only need one piece.

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

After following all the directions, I tested out my pattern with some bathing suit fabric I had marinating in my stash from Fabric Mart Fabrics.  I haven’t made a bathing suit from it yet, so I had plenty.  Even if I didn’t, these leggings only take about 1.25 yards of fabric.  I sewed up a test pair after determining that the fabric was opaque, and it was a success!

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

These will make great exercise leggings.  I was careful to line up the pattern, which was not as hard as I would have thought.

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

l

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

Then it was on to my Polartec Power Stretch.  So far, this is my favorite Polartec fabric that I have tried.  It’s soft and fleecy on one side and smooth on the other with a nice stretch.  In the past I have made a purple Sew House Seven Toaster Sweater and a Style Arc Josie Hoodie from it and both are still in my wardrobe with the Josie Hoodie being a firm favorite.  I have gotten all my Power Stretch from Mill Yardage.

It took very little time to whip up two pairs of leggings from the Power Stretch.  These dark gray ones have gotten lots of wear.  Unfortunately, I didn’t do a test to see how opaque the ivory fabric was and…they are somewhat see-through, so they have been relegated to tights-only status, and I didn’t model them for you.

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

l

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

When sewing these, I used a zigzag stitch on my regular sewing machine with a 75/11 stretch needle for the bathing suit fabric and a 90/14 stretch needle for the Power Stretch.  I used a stitch width/height of 4.5 and a length of 0.5 which made my zigzags tall and very close together.  Not everyone likes this kind of stitch for knits, but I find it gives the seam lots of room to stretch.  I tested this on a doubled scrap of fabric both on grain and cross-grain and stretched as far as I could to make sure the stitches didn’t pop before sewing on my actual garment.  I kept my tension the same as usual, but set my presser foot pressure to the lightest it could go.  I used a walking foot, woolly nylon in my bobbin, and Gütermann all purpose thread (100% polyester) in the top.  This type of setup has been working well for me when sewing stretchy knits lately.

For my hems, I just folded the fabric up once and stitched, covering the edge of the fabric with my stitching when possible.  Sometimes I even sew from the inside of the hem rather than stretching my hem over my free arm.  This put the woolly nylon on the outside, but I didn’t care with these since it was close enough to the fabric color.

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

l

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

For the waistband, I use one inch wide elastic and try it on around my waist to find a comfortable snugness.  Then I overlap it slightly and sew the ends together.  Next it gets pinned onto the wrong side of the waist area on the leggings with the edge of the fabric going slightly beyond my elastic.

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

I stitch the side of the elastic furthest from the raw edge to the leggings and then fold it over so the elastic is enclosed in fabric and stitch near the raw edge, trying to catch the elastic as I go.

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

A lot of these tips I picked up from sewing Megan Nielsen’s Mini Virginia leggings.  Megan often has really good ideas and ways of constructing garments that are new to me and which become my own preferred way of sewing.

And that’s pretty much it!  I’m so happy to have these leggings in my wardrobe.  I have worn them a lot.

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

l

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

If you want to get into very basic drafting, Cal Patch also has a book out called Design-It-Yourself Clothes that I found really fun when I first started sewing.  I don’t know why, but it was completely amazing to me that you could learn to create patterns.  I guess I never thought about how a pattern became a pattern before looking through that book.

 

Outside in March

Standard
Outside in March

Here are some pictures from earlier this month–the last official dregs of winter.  This season usually holds on with an iron grip as hard as the frozen ground in New England.  It tries to last as long as possible, but this winter wasn’t as cold and snowy as usual, so I have hope for some kind of spring if we’re lucky this year.  Take heart–spring really is coming…and there is hope.

Outside in March

l

Outside in March

l

Outside in March

l

Outside in March

I love the aqua color of that boat (third from the left).

Outside in March

l

Outside in March

This picture (above) makes me feel like I’ve found a secret cove.  It wasn’t really secret, but I like that it gives me that feeling.

Outside in March

l

Outside in March

l

Outside in March

My Modified Marshland Sweater

Standard
My Modified Marshland Sweater

Since the scope of this blog is sewing and creative projects, I’ll just say this before beginning:  we’re well here.  I often suffer from anxiety, but by God’s grace, I have been largely calm and peaceful.  I’m thankful for many things, not the least of which is good creative work to do in uncertain times.  Creative work may seem frivolous and secondary to some, but it can be both a necessary and a wonderful gift.  So let’s talk knitting today.

I don’t always put my knitting projects on the blog, since I keep this space largely for sewing, but this project represents a lot of problem solving and (good) hard work, and I want to share it.

My Modified Marshland Sweater

So, here was my problem:  I have many partial and complete skeins of 14- or 15-year-old wool yarn from Yates Farm in Vermont in a worsted weight that knits up like a bulky.  I love this yarn, but I have lots of colors and not many skeins that are the same color.  It’s also a slightly scratchy yarn and isn’t great at the neck or ankles although it’s lovely to wear over another shirt.  I’ve been pondering just what to do with it for years.  Maybe the best way to use it was a colorwork sweater, but it had to be something without a high neck that could use a lot of partial skeins and a lot of different colors.  Hm…  What could I make?

My Modified Marshland Sweater

I had fallen in love with the Strange Brew book by Tin Can Knits and had it in my library.

My Modified Marshland Sweater

l

My Modified Marshland Sweater

This book is filled with patterns for colorwork yoke sweaters as well as hats and cowls.  Not only does it contain patterns–it tells you how you can design your own sweater or change up the existing patterns.  It’s my favorite kind of craft book:  projects, inspiration, and reference information.  A lot of the design aspects of the book are still a bit beyond me, but after ages of mulling things over, I thought I might take my favorite design, the Marshland Sweater, and modify the colorwork a bit to have some of my favorite elements in it.

My Modified Marshland Sweater

I studied what I liked best in the existing pattern and in other colorwork designs and changed up the color charts a bit.  Since I don’t have experience designing knitwear, several of my rounds had three colors in them instead of the usual one or two, but I managed ok.

To throw yet another complication in, I needed to be able to knit this sweater at a different gauge since my yarn was knitting up thicker than a standard worsted.  In order to figure out gauge, I took the advice in the book and made a hat.  I wasn’t worried about it fitting anyone–if it did, it would be a bonus.  Instead, I used it as an opportunity to try out some colorwork patterns I had been doodling in a notebook and to see if I could make a fabric that I liked…and what would happen to that fabric if I washed it in the washer and air dried it.  In the end, the hat was not really wearable, but it WAS informative.

My Modified Marshland Sweater

From there, I measured my stitches per inch and used the formula on the Tin Can Knits website to figure out how that gauge could be used to knit the Marshland Sweater.  I wanted a big, warm, comfortable winter sweater with plenty of ease and length.

Here’s what I ended up doing:

  • Yarn:  Yates Farm worsted yarn
  • Gauge:  14 stitches/4″ with size US 10/6 mm needles in colorwork after machine washing and air drying
  • Needles:  US 8/5 mm for ribbing, US 9/5.5 mm for plain stockinette sections, US 10/6 mm for colorwork
  • Size:  Knit a women’s small to end up with a women’s large, checking and adjusting length as necessary

Then, I got knitting!  I had one pretty massive mishap where I overlooked a key instruction and knit beyond where the armholes were supposed to be.  I knew I would have to rip back quite a bit.  And then I realized that I had made another huge mistake–way back an inch from the beginning, I had messed up during the increase rounds, and I would have to rip back almost to the beginning.

The thought of just dropping a match on the thing leapt through my mind.

Instead, I put the sweater down and quit for the night.  The next day, when my family was at work and school and I wasn’t so tired, I ripped all the way back to the point where I had made my first mistake.

I had a goal of knitting at least one round a day, and that really made this sweater move.  I cast on on December 30, 2019 and, even with my huge mistakes, finished binding off on February 26, 2020.  I couldn’t believe it.  I’m not a very quick knitter, so this was lightning speed for me.

My Modified Marshland Sweater

After that, I just had to block it (which I did in the washing machine using this tutorial) and weave in my millions of ends.  It was finished a few days later!  And I love it!!!!!

My Modified Marshland Sweater

I left the sleeves long to increase the coziness factor and did the same for the overall length of the body.  I’m SO HAPPY with how all the colors look together and how it fits.  It’s big and warm (but not too warm) and perfect.  Theoretically, even if I wash it in the washer and air dry it in the future, there will still be plenty of ease.  I haven’t had the guts to try that, so hopefully I’m right.

My Modified Marshland Sweater

l

My Modified Marshland Sweater

I have had this yarn for so long and have been at a loss for just what to do with it for so many years.  I still have quite a bit, but now I have a good idea of how to use it.  As spring seems to be on its way, and I want to get some wear out of this sweater, I have worn it multiple times per week each week since making it.  Between wearing this and my newly completed cardigan, I have had a lot of wardrobe repeats, but I am so happy with both of them that it’s a joy.

My Modified Marshland Sweater

l

My Modified Marshland Sweater

l

My Modified Marshland Sweater

I Finally Made It: A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

Standard
I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

Do you have some of those patterns that you love, but they hang out in your pattern collection for one reason or another?  I have several of these that linger because I’m waiting for just the right fabric.  The Newcastle Cardigan by Thread Theory Designs is one of those for me.  I bought it at Pintuck & Purl several years ago, because despite the fact that this is a men’s pattern, I could envision a comfy, slouchy women’s version for me.  I like the cozy cardigan look with the rolled collar, and I’m always a fan of a shoulder/back yoke where I can use a contrast fabric or add in some nice topstitching.  I just needed the right fabric and some modifications…

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

l

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

I finally found the fabric I was looking for on the Mill Yardage website:  a Polartec Classic 200 Sweater Look Strie fabric that was warm, moderately thick, and had more body than drape.  I could use leftover fabric from my Burda 6471 joggers for the yoke and any other accent areas.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

Other Materials and Stitching

After a lot of deliberation, I decided to skip most of the interfacing and only include sew-in interfacing in the button placket areas.  Although I found some ideas on how you could adhere iron-on interfacing to fleece, I didn’t want to risk it, and the fabric was thick enough that it didn’t need much support anyway.  I decided to use some anorak snaps a friend had given me rather than buttons.  For more give in my seams, I used stretchy Eloflex thread as my top thread, and woolly nylon in my bobbin.

Because I modified this pattern to be loose rather than slim-fitting and because of the thread I had chosen, I was able to use a straight stitch (rather than a zigzag, which would have more stretch).  I used a slightly longer length (3.0), a 90/14 stretch needle, a walking foot, my normal tension, and my lightest presser foot pressure.

Pattern Modifications

There were a lot of pattern modifications that I made to get this just how I wanted it!  My measurements put me at a medium chest size.  This pattern says it is slim-fitting, but since I wanted a looser fit, I traced a large.  However, after measuring and tissue fitting, I realized I needed more arm and hip width, so I decided to trace an extra large.  I was really worried about the width, due to the positive ease I was after and the fact that this 100% polyester fabric only has a little bit of mechanical stretch, so I used the side seams of Simplicity 4109 (which I used to make my railroad denim jacket) as a guide.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

After this, I planned to add a little sleeve width.  In fact, after measuring my arm and the pattern and consulting The Perfect Fit, I decided I needed a full upper arm adjustment, and I added 1.5 inches to the arm pattern piece, giving me a wider circumference.

I had considered shortening the arms by as much as six inches (the pattern explains that they are drafted quite long), but after sewing the back to the front of the cardigan and holding up my shortened arm pattern piece, I didn’t like it, so I let it out to the original length.  Long and cozy sleeves seemed preferable to too-short sleeves in a garment that was supposed to be warm and snuggly.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

I wanted elbow patches, too, so I added the ones from the Plaintain Tee, a free pattern from Deer & Doe.

I made version one of this pattern, and was originally going to use the larger collar from version two, but it almost completely covered the yoke, so I recut it and used the smaller collar that went with version one originally.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

I wanted a bottom band on this cardigan, so I made one!  It’s a rectangle and, just before I finished installing it, I added a little gusset at the bottom of the side seams and some extra little rectangles to my bottom band for just a little more hip width.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

l

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

I added in extra topstitching anywhere I wanted to flatten the fabric or add detail or definition.  This was usually a good idea, but where it did not work, was the edge of the collar.  It exacerbated the collar’s tendency to flip up.  I took that topstitching out but kept what I did in other areas. (You can see the collar after I tried topstitching it below.  See how obvious the flip-up is?)

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

Like I mentioned before, I opted to install anorak snaps instead of making buttonholes and using buttons.  My friend had given me some that had been in her mom’s stash and I used every single one I had left.  Unfortunately, I didn’t hammer two of the top pieces in quite right and they don’t grip the bottom parts of the snap strongly.  It’s a not a big deal for one of them, but the other gapes, so I have to go on a little search to see if these are still available or if they are now considered vintage.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

Most nerve-wracking of all, I decided near the end of making this to add self-welt or stand pockets using the instructions in my Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing.  Yes, this was a little bit crazy, because I really liked the cardigan without them.  I just knew I would like it much more with pockets.

I tested out my idea with scraps to see if it would be too bulky and if I liked using the green for my pocket, and it turned out pretty well.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

So, I went for it!  I just took it step by step, deciding at the outset that they didn’t have to be perfect to be good.  And it worked!  They aren’t perfect, but they are good, and I was even able to tack the pockets to the facings, which helped to keep the facings from flipping out.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

l

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

l

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

I even added a Thread Theory label, which came with the pattern, and one from Kylie and the Machine, that I purchased at Pintuck & Purl.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

Final Thoughts

I love this cardigan.  While I can’t say this about every one of my projects, I really feel like I got the fit I wanted on this garment, and I love it in this fabric.  It’s so warm and nice.  If I did it over again in an equally thick fabric, I would consider skipping the facings.  Except for the benefit of tacking them to the pockets, they are kind of annoying.  It would be different in another fabric, I’m sure.  The length of time this took and the adjusting while sewing were frustrating for me, but I’m glad I persevered and finished before spring.  When I wore this to work, one of my coworkers said she thought the cardigan was from L.L. Bean, which was so nice of her!  I often look at their clothes for inspiration.  So, it was a struggle, but I’m happy, and I love the finished product.  And I’m also happy it’s done.  On to the next thing!

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

l

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

l

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

l

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

A Day Late and a Dollar Short: Outside in February

Standard
A Day Late and a Dollar Short:  Outside in February

After missing a few weeks of posts, it’s time to get back to it.  We’ve had school vacation, family visiting, and, what held me up most of all, a complicated project that took forever to finish.  I could have kicked myself earlier this week when I realized that last week’s post was meant to be a photography post and I actually had pictures for it.  So, since I missed that post and my latest project isn’t photographed yet, I’m sharing February’s outside pictures this first Friday of March.  It’s interesting to see the many colors (neutral colors, but colors nonetheless) in winter.  Hopefully next week I’ll have a sewing post for you.

Outside in February

l

Outside in February

l

Outside in February

l

Outside in February

l

Outside in February

l

Outside in February

l

Outside in February

l

Outside in February

I managed to get my camera between this marsh grass and the ice on top of it to get this picture (above).  It’s interesting to imagine the whole world that exists between the mud beneath the grass and the ice above it.

Outside in February

Have a good weekend!

New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

Standard
New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

When I was looking for inspiration for a Christmas party outfit a few months ago, I ran across a neon pink velvet camisole on the J.Crew website.  The fabric was so beautiful!  I really wanted some fabric with that level of color.  It was amazing!  I ended up making a top in chartreuse silk for the party, but I couldn’t get that fabric out of my mind.  I finally found some neon pink stretch velvet on Amazon and put it on my personal wish list, not knowing quite what I would make from it.  I was torn between two patterns, so I put a note with the yardage I would need for each pattern, saying that I would love either amount.  One of my friends got me some for my birthday, and that decided it–the amount she got me was perfect for another version of New Look 6560, View A, the same pattern I used to make my silk party shirt.

New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

l

New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

This pattern is meant for wovens, but I wanted to try it in this knit because I thought it would make a really fun shirt.  There were a few ups and downs, but in the end, I arrived at a top that I’m happy with.  And I was right about the fabric–it really is fun.

New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

The fabric I used is 90% polyester, 10% spandex, and was surprisingly easy to sew.  Thankfully, I remembered to cut it with the nap running down.  Sometimes I just completely forget to pay attention to things like nap or pattern matching!  I used a regular zigzag stitch with a width of 2.5 and a length of 1.0, my lightest presser foot pressure, normal tension, and a 75/11 stretch needle.  I skipped interfacing the facings.  I used all-purpose Dual Duty Coats & Clark 100% polyester thread in the needle and woolly/bulky nylon in my bobbin.  I’ve been using woolly nylon a lot in my bobbin on knits, something I do when sewing bathing suits, and it has worked out really well, giving my seams a little extra stretch.

New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

l

New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

I put everything together, but didn’t bother to finish many seams because they won’t fray.  I love that about knits.  It saves so much time!  I sewed for most (ok, pretty much all) of the afternoon one Saturday and got the shirt done before bed time!  Then I tried it on…and it looked like crap.  Granted, I was trying it on over another shirt I was wearing, but it didn’t seem like a win.

I spent some time thinking about what I could do.  I had completely forgotten to stabilize the shoulders, so I went back and did that by sewing clear elastic to the seam allowances and then stitching the seam allowances down with some topstitching.  The facings kept flipping out, so I tacked those down (and then went back and tacked down the facings on my chartreuse version as well).  Now what?

The back, the belt, and the sleeves seemed good.  The front was the problem.  I thought about putting in a center front seam and making it a nice-looking v-neck.  I realized after posting that idea to Instagram that people thought I was going to leave the excess fabric in front, which was an idea I actually hadn’t considered, although it did look interesting.

New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

l

New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

I also posted a picture of it as the original wrap, and it looked better than I remembered (first picture after the pattern pictures).  Maybe I shouldn’t have evaluated it while wearing it over top of another shirt like I did right after finishing it.  😉  So, I decided I would keep it as the original wrap after all, and I wore it to church, but kept feeling like I had to arrange and rearrange the front (luckily I was wearing a camisole under it).  What if I just sewed the wrap shut?  It’s stretchy enough that I can pull it on over my head, so I don’t need it to actually wrap.  It seemed worth a try, so I sewed the top layer shut and tacked the bottom layer down.

New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

I tied it shut inside, leaving everything intact in case I wanted to undo the stitching.  I wore the shirt to work this week, and it was so much easier and more pleasant to wear when I didn’t have to constantly rearrange the front!  I think this is the way to go.  It’s definitely not my best or most beautiful sewing–there are still some wonky parts, but I’m happy with it, and I have found that the sleeves are nicer in this knit than the silk, since they stay at my wrist bones, due to the heavier weight of the knit.  On the silk, they work their way up above my wrist bones throughout the day, which I don’t love.

New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

l

New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

I wanted this shirt to be one that I reached for because it felt good to wear, not one that was just fun because the fabric was interesting.  Now that I don’t have to constantly fix it while I’m wearing it, I think that my goal has been achieved.  Hooray!

Burda Style 6471 Joggers in Recycled Polartec Thermal Pro

Standard
Burda Style 6471 Joggers in Recycled Polartec Thermal Pro

Yayyyy, fleecy pants!  My batch of sewing projects is now at the sewing phase, which makes me very happy.  Today I want to share my version of Burda Style 6471, View A (with a few modifications).  I made these in recycled Polartec Thermal Pro denim look in a color called Aspen (green).  This fabric was a gift from my wonderful husband and came from Mill Yardage.

Burda Style 6471 Joggers in Recycled Polartec Thermal Pro

I got this pattern in my stocking the Christmas before last, but have been waiting for just the right fabric.  My goal was to find a fabric that would look good as everyday wear while feeling like secret pajamas.  I was hoping this fabric would do that, but after making these, they are more of a really nice spin on sweat pants.  It turns out, I’m ok with that.  I’ve still worn them out of the house, but I definitely feel like I’m wearing sweat pants when I do.

Let’s talk details.

Constructing the Pattern

The only pattern alteration I made was to grade up one size from the largest size.  I did this by looking at how much t the largest one or two sizes increased by and doing the same to create a larger size.

Burda Style 6471 Joggers in Recycled Polartec Thermal Pro

l

Burda Style 6471 Joggers in Recycled Polartec Thermal Pro

I chose to make View A of this pattern because I wanted the longer length, but I left off the square side pockets and the drawstring.  This pattern was supposed to have a flat front to the waistband with an elastic back, but I made a few choices based on my fabric that caused me to change the waistband.  You are supposed to interface the front of the waistband.  I felt nervous using a fusible, because I didn’t want to iron this fabric and melt it.  I did find a few discussions in the Pattern Review forums where people mentioned ways to fuse interfacing on fleece.  Many other people said they skipped interfacing altogether.  I did have some sew-in interfacing, but I got nervous that if I used it, the back waistband might not have enough give/length to fit over my hips when taking the pants on and off since they are a pull-on style (the fly is a faux fly and the waistband is continuous with no closure).  Usually I try to trust the pattern, but laziness was also a bit of a factor, so I skipped interfacing the front of the waistband.

When I finished the pants, which were a very quick sew, they fit pretty well.  As I write this, I’m just now realizing what a big deal it is that the crotch curve fit me so well the first time around.  That doesn’t always happen!  Anyway, I wore them around for a bit, and realized that the waistband definitely got looser with wear.  This fabric has a small amount of stretch and no recovery.  I could see that I needed to tighten up the back waistband elastic, so I did.  Then I wore them some more.  Then they got loose.  I could see my options were to go back and redo the waistband with interfacing, maybe even adding the drawstring, or to make the waistband a fully elasticated one.  Since I could tell that these were definitely in the sweat pants camp, and I didn’t have to try to make them everyday pants anymore, I opted to elasticate the whole waistband.

Burda Style 6471 Joggers in Recycled Polartec Thermal Pro

l

Burda Style 6471 Joggers in Recycled Polartec Thermal Pro

l

Burda Style 6471 Joggers in Recycled Polartec Thermal Pro

This is when I realized one other thing.  These are fairly low-rise pants.  They’re not super low, but they’re low enough that when you bend over or crouch down, you should make sure your backside is covered.  The rise is consistent with the picture on the pattern.  If I ever make these again, making the rise a little higher would be a good idea.

Burda Style 6471 Joggers in Recycled Polartec Thermal Pro

l

Burda Style 6471 Joggers in Recycled Polartec Thermal Pro

Lastly, for anyone who is trying to sew fleece like this, here are the specific settings I used on my sewing machine.  I did not use a serger.

  • regular zigzag stitch
  • 2.5 stitch width
  • 1.0 stitch length
  • 1 presser foot pressure (lightest)
  • 4 tension (standard tension; I didn’t change it from my normal setting)
  • 90/14 stretch needle
  • walking foot
  • Gütermann all purpose polyester thread in the needle and wooly/bulky nylon in the bobbin

When sewing knits, I always test out my stitches on a piece of scrap fabric and then stretch it as much as possible to see if the thread breaks.  If it does, I test some more until I get a stitch that doesn’t break when stretched parallel and perpendicular to my stitch line.

Burda Style 6471 Joggers in Recycled Polartec Thermal Pro

l

Burda Style 6471 Joggers in Recycled Polartec Thermal Pro

Final Thoughts

I often expect every sewing project to be THE BEST and most wonderful garment, and I cut them much less slack than I do store-bought/thrifted clothes.  I think that’s not a good way to continue on.  This garment isn’t the best, most wonderful garment I have ever made, but I still really love it.  I think it’s because the fleece is so cozy.  The pattern is good, the sewing is not bad, and the fabric feels great.  The fit is pretty good, if a bit low.  I think that I will get a lot of wear out of these pants, even if they weren’t what I first envisioned.

Burda Style 6471 Joggers in Recycled Polartec Thermal Pro

Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

Standard
Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

I have no new projects to share today, so I thought I would give you a look into what I’m thinking about sewing this winter.  I do have a batch of projects underway, and a pretty good idea of some patterns I may want to sew next.  Planning and dreaming up sewing projects is one of my favorite parts of sewing!

Current Plans

Current plans include drafting and sewing my own leggings using this tutorial from Cal Patch.  I’ve made these once before, and they were great.  I want to make them in a midweight Polartec Power Stretch (below),

Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

but first I have to see if my new pattern fits right by testing it out in some bathing suit fabric (below) that I had in my stash.  I think this (hopefully) wearable muslin will make great exercise leggings.

Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

I also want to make Burda Style 6471, View A minus the cargo pocket and drawstring in recycled Polartec ThermalPro denim look fabric.  I got this pattern for Christmas 2018, and I have been waiting for just the right fabric to come along.  I’m hoping for some secret pajamas I can wear out and about, but if they read too casual, I can just use them as loungewear.

Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

New Look 6560, View A without the ruffle, which I just completed in silk is back on the list, this time in hot pink stretch velvet, because it’s FUN!  My friend got this fabric for me for my birthday, and I’m excited to try it out.

Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

Vogue 8932 has been hanging out in my pattern library for a long time, and I’m finally going to make it (View B).  I’m going to try it out in black ponte de roma from Fabric Mart.  If I like the pattern, I would love to make it in a stretchy boiled wool knit someday.

Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

I’m also finally trying out the Thread Theory Newcastle Cardigan, Version 1, but in a shape that will fit me (this is originally a men’s pattern).  I’d love a relaxed version of this cardigan, maybe with some elbow patches and a bottom band added, and I want it in a shape that will fit me, so I’ve done a bunch of work and measuring to see if I can get there.  This is another pattern I have had for a long time, waiting to find just the right fabric.  Thanks to my husband getting me several pieces of Polartec fleece that I had my eye on, I plan to make this in a Polartec 200 sweater-look fleece, using scraps of green from the Burda pants I mentioned above for the yoke.

Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

All of those are at the cutting stage.  I just need to cut out the New Look wrap top and the cardigan, and then I can get sewing.

Future Possibilities

Other thoughts and possibilities for the rest of winter are also brewing.

I had a snap-front skirt (Burda Style 6252, View A, lengthened) on my list to make out of a damaged Hudson’s Bay Point Blanket that I got for FREE (!!!), but it was just too damaged and stained to cut a skirt out of.

Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

I want a pattern I like to make insulated skirts to wear over leggings, and this may be the one, but it’s going on hold for now.  The blanket could become a pillow and maybe a bag (The Wax + Wool Tote, possibly?).  We’ll see.

One strong possibility is McCall’s 7930, View D.  I think I have some stash fabrics that would work for this–either a shirtweight denim + a Swiss dot or maybe silk double georgette + silk crepe de chine.

Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

Another likely project is the Persephone Pants from Anna Allen, lengthened for winter, maybe in a green canvas.  I have resisted the ultra-high rise trend, but I once had a pair of very high waisted wool sailor pants that I LOVED, and thinking about them convinced me to give these a try.  To tell the truth, I have been looking at our local Army Navy stores for some ’70’s era sailor jeans to try out before buying this pattern, but couldn’t quite find what I was looking for.  This pattern was a Christmas gift, so I’m going for it!

Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

I have some cotton velveteen that might get made into Simplicity 1696, a tried-n-true (TNT) pattern for me, although I do worry about the nap rubbing off in places like the inner thigh.

Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

Burda Style 6265, View A is also a possibility in flannel worn with leggings, but I really wonder how much I would reach for this.  I have never been a dress person, and I am trying to branch out into wearing dresses, but I can’t quite tell if this is something I would reach for or if it would just hang out in my closet.  I actually like the long view, too, maybe for spring or fall.  I’m going to have to think about this pattern for awhile.

Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

Other tempting patterns are to be found in the Burda Style magazine from November 2019 that I found at one of the larger Barnes & Nobles.

Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

There are a lot of patterns I like in this issue (which is why I bought it), but my absolute favorite is #121, the “On-Trend pattern”, a really cool cropped jacket.  I love the style lines, and I could see it made up in various wool fabrics.  I wonder if I could recycle some wool pants I have into part of this jacket.  (They’re the checked fabric below.)  I would love that.  And they would be great with this blue wool/cashmere remnant I have.  Overall this issue has a number of great jackets.  I’m just outside their standard range, but I can grade up a size or two.

Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

l

Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

The other day I went to my local mall to see how it had changed in the last few years (I don’t get there much) as well as to hunt for inspiration.  I love to look in Nordstrom and J. Crew, among other places, to get ideas for future sewing projects or to check out details on clothing.  I found it really interesting that with the proliferation of pattern companies, plus the fact that Butterick, McCall’s, Simplicity, Vogue, and Burda Style all put out numerous patterns per year, I can find patterns that are close or nearly identical to a lot of the clothes I see in stores.  The sewing world is really on top of what’s current in much of the fashion you find in stores.  It’s pretty cool.  On the flip side, there are also companies that put things together in really creative ways that I haven’t necessarily seen before.  They really inspire me to try to think more creatively.  When I look at Anthropologie, Free People, and even Lucky Brand, I often ask myself why I didn’t think to combine fabrics like that or try some similar detail.  We sort of have the best of both worlds in that way:  fashionable patterns + ready-to-wear inspiration to think even more creatively.  The mall is a different experience when you’re shopping for inspiration.

What about you?  What are your current sewing plans?  Have you tried any of the patterns I mentioned?  Feel free to recommend patterns, too!

 

The Silk Party Blouse: New Look 6560

Standard
The Silk Party Blouse:  New Look 6560

Hi, everyone!  I hope you had an enjoyable time over the holidays.  I decided to take a break from blogging and Instagram as well as whatever else I could put a pause on to rest and hang out with my family, which was nice.  Today’s project was one I made before Christmas, but didn’t get good pictures of, so I’m sharing it today.

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

This is New Look 6560, View A, a long-sleeved blouse in a beautiful chartreuse silk from Pintuck & Purl.  In fact, Maggie told me she ordered this silk for the shop with me in mind (Aww!!! So nice!).  Clearly, I gravitate toward this color.

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

l

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

The Story

A few months ago, my husband’s work sent us an invitation to a fancy holiday party.  I am not a fancy person, although this sounded like fun.  As a non-fancy person, my gut reaction was to FREAK OUT!  The party was in Boston at a swanky club and the dress was COCKTAIL DRESS.  Ack!  So I turned to Google and Pinterest to see just how much latitude I had with that and what it even meant!  I came up with a plan, and ordered a stack of fabric.  Then I looked at my fabric stack for a few days and decided that I didn’t like my plan.  I did a lot of freaking out, and finally settled on this pattern (which is everywhere in stores right now, interestingly) and this silk, which was in my stash after a sale at P & P.

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

I got a fanciness pep talk and help from people at the shop to figure out how to starch the fabric.  They also sold me one more yard because I realized I had enough for everything but one of the sleeves, and I wasn’t going for a one-sleeved look.  Wrap styles can be fabric hogs!

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

l

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

l

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

Design Choices and Cutting

OK.  Let’s talk details.  I opted to leave off the ruffle on View A.  I cut an 18 bust, and a 22 waist and hip.  Size 22 was beyond what the pattern offered, so I graded out by copying the shape and distance between the other sizes.  After looking online at others’ versions of this pattern, I decided to lengthen the shirt by two inches just under the waist mark.  Then I measured the new bottom edge to make sure it would still fit around my hips, which it did with no problem.  It didn’t look like I needed a broad back adjustment, so I crossed my fingers and cut it out.  Starching the fabric and using a rotary cutter with a sharp, new blade were really helpful.

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

l

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

Construction

I used French seams everywhere except the yoke/shoulder seam.  I sewed that seam and then did a three-step zigzag in the seam allowance and trimmed it close.  According to the book Sewing Specialty Fabrics from the Singer Sewing Reference Library, this is called a double-stitched seam.  I didn’t remember to use French seams until after I had done that one.

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

l

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

I also put in my sleeves flat, although I did still use the gathering stitches at the top of the sleeve to get the sleeve to fit to the shirt body.  It’s a wonderful thing when even your sleeves and armscyes have beautiful French seams!

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

Also, I love the flowy, puffy sleeve shape in this pattern.

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

l

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

l

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

Overall, this wasn’t too hard to sew.  It was enjoyable.  I was on one of the last steps and was cutting my buttonhole with my buttonhole chisel when disaster struck!  I thought I was being careful, but somehow part of the shirt was under the buttonhole and I cut two little slices in my shirt.  At that point, I just walked away.  There was no going back in time and it was getting late, so I put the project down until the next day.

The next day, I fused a bit of interfacing to the back side, which looked pretty good from the right side, but I had my doubts about how permanent a fix that was.  So, I applied some Fray Check.  That didn’t look so good.  It looked like a permanent wet spot.

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

With my deadline approaching and no creative ideas forthcoming, I decided to sew a patch over it and call it a day.

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

I figured the tie would mostly cover it, and it does.  Sometimes these things happen.  What can you do?

As for the rest of the process, I made sure to put a little interfacing behind my button to strengthen the fabric.  For the belt, I topstitched around the outside once I had turned it.  I used a satiny ribbon for the inner ties (although those have started to come apart from the shirt at the stitch line after being washed and dried a few times–you can see that in the second picture a bit).

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

l

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

Thankfully, I made the blouse on time, paired it with a camisole I made a long time ago (also silk, also from Pintuck & Purl), and some thrifted trousers, comfortable Dansko clog boots, and a FABULOUS faux fur jacket from Nordstrom Rack.

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

As soon as we got to the party, I breathed a sigh of relief.  People wore a wide variety of styles.  I was fine.

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

I still need to work on my fancy clothes game, but I broke the ice, and I have since worn this top to church as well as with jeans to a more casual holiday party.  Now I kind of want to make it in some hot pink stretch velvet I got for my birthday…

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560