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!

Spring Pants! Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

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Spring Pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

I’m finally done sewing sweatshirts, and now I’m on to pants!  I always crave color after the winter months, and it’s been pretty gray this spring, so I’m happy to have made a pair of pink pants.

Spring Pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

(Picture-taking is always more fun—and sillier—when my husband is my photographer.)

My goal in making these was to have a somewhat casual alternative to jeans in a color that I liked.  I wanted the fit to be on the relaxed side and the fabric to be one that would look generally casual to create pants that look like a good pair of worn-in chinos.  My choice:  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim.

Spring pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

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Spring pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

This is the third time I have sewn this pattern now, so I want to talk about the pros and cons of it.  (You can see my gray pair or pants here and my octopus print pair here.)

Pros

I love the construction order provided.  Much like the well-loved Ginger Jeans from Closet Case Patterns, you sew the front and back separately and then baste everything together so that you can fine-tune your fit.  There are also larger seam allowances provided in key places to help in that process, should you need extra room.

These pants have wonderful, huge front pockets.  Every time I put my hands in, I’m reminded how great they are.

Sprint Pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

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Spring pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

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Spring pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

I love the look of the bias binding inside the pockets and finishing the inside of the waistband.  If this waistband finish is too bulky for your liking, they also give instructions for making a narrow hem.

Spring pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

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Spring pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

Cons

The main cons to this pattern are in the zipper area.  The zipper is (in my opinion) not set in deeply enough, which means that it sometimes peeks out.  I did manage to remedy that in this pair of pants by lining up the left edge of the zipper tape with the center seam, and positioning the top stop of the zipper 3/4″ below the raw edge.

To me, the zipper seems slightly off-center.  It’s not too evident in the picture below, but I notice it.

Spring Pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

The zipper opens opposite of most pants–right over left rather than left over right.

Spring pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

I’m not a fan of the faux welt pockets.  I just skip them.  I want real welt pockets or nothing.

Spring pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

Potential Errors

I added 5/8″ to the end of my left front waistband piece (piece #15) so that it would actually be longer than the left front (it is supposed to be 5/8″ longer).

Fitting

I used the curvy back pieces (there are curvy and standard/average back options).  I always end up with some excess fabric in the back.  This may be so I can sit or maybe I should try the other back piece.  After basting everything together, I saw all the drag lines, started thinking about how I should work on those, and then decided that the pants were good enough as they were.  I made the decision that I wasn’t going to overfit—it was more important to me to finish.  I do have a pair that is one size smaller than my current measurements, and it fits well and has fewer drag lines, so while I like the ease, you may prefer to size down one size if you make these.

Sprint Pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

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Sprint Pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

Materials

Pattern:  Simplicity 1696 from Joann Fabrics;  it doesn’t look like this pattern is available on Simplicity’s site anymore, but you can probably find it on Etsy

Spring Pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

Just making sure I’m not stepping in any rabbit poop.  Looks like we have some wild rabbits around here!

Fabric:  Cloud9 Tinted Denim in Heather from Pintuck & Purl—I really love this fabric and have used it in several projects; homemade bias tape made of leftover quilting cotton from Fancy Tiger Crafts; old sheets (used as pocket lining)

Sprint Pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

Interfacing (Pellon fusible midweight) and thread (Gütermann) from Joann Fabrics

Final Thoughts

Mixed.  I feel the greatest love for the pockets, construction, and fabric I used, while feeling really annoyed about the zipper area.  I love this particular pair of pants, but if I make this style again (and can fight off laziness and my desire for speed) I might consider trying Burda 7447 (also out of print—check for it on Etsy) or the Chi-Town Chinos from Alina Design Co.  Despite my ambivalence toward the pattern, I’m so happy to have a new pair of pants in my wardrobe that is bright, cheery, comfortable, and that is a nice alternative to wearing jeans every day.  I really like these.

Spring Pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

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Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

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Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

It’s still cold spring here, but I think this is my last spring sweatshirt…and it’s a good one.  This is the Brunswick Pullover from Hey June Handmade, my first pattern from this company, and probably not my last.  This is a great pattern.

Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

I made View A with the cowl neck of View B in a size 16 bust and 18 hip. I used a green Polartec Curly Fleece from Fashion Fabrics Club (just like last week’s sweatshirt) and a Rifle Paper Co. quilting cotton from Pintuck and Purl.  The zipper on the pocket was from Wawak (I wanted the specific length called for rather than a zipper I would have to shorten, so I had to order it) and the anorak snaps, thread, and interfacing came from my stash.

Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

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Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

Hey June Handmade is a company whose patterns I’ve had my eye on for awhile.  Last year, I planned to make the free Durango Tank, but never got around to it.  I saw this pattern release, though, and really liked the pattern as well as the various photos of people’s finished pullovers around the internet.  Katie’s Brunswick with the striped hood and other details was really inspiring as was Loni’s Brunswick with the white outside and Rifle Paper Co. button placket.  This last one was the inspiration that stuck with me as I looked for my own fabric.

Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

Although I prefer paper patterns, this is only available in PDF currently, so I decided to put my preference aside and go for it.  Adrianna Appl, the designer, makes this PDF really easy to use with layered sizing (meaning you only have to print the sizes you need) and loads of information about printing and taping PDF’s, cutting your fabric, and sizing before you even start.  I was impressed from the very beginning by the detail and depth of information.  There is a lot of hand-holding in the pattern in the best way.  Adrianna does everything possible to ensure that you have a good and successful experience sewing her pattern.

Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

I think the thing that really drew me to this pattern is all the fun little details you can add that take this from merely a cozy sweatshirt to cozy sweatshirt with a distinctive twist.  Here are some close-ups of my choices:  a contrast zipper pocket on the sleeve,

Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

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Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

functional snap plackets on the sides lined with contrast fabric,

Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

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Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

and a big, cozy cowl neck.

Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

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Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

A few notes from sewing the pattern:

  • I used a walking foot and a jersey/ballpoint needle as well as a lighter presser foot pressure.
  • To mark the pocket on the arm, I used tailor’s tacks since fabric marker or chalk wouldn’t have shown up well on the fleece.
  • Because I was using fleece, I couldn’t press without melting the fabric, and therefore couldn’t use fusible interfacing.  I opted to hand baste some sew-in woven interfacing at the necessary points.  Where the pattern called for pressing, I finger pressed.
  • It can be a little bit hard to tell the front from the back when the pullover is finished if you used the cowl neck option (unless you memorize which arm the outer pocket goes on), so I made a little tag out of a pretty bit of selvage and sewed it inside the back near the neck seam.

Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

This was a really enjoyable pattern to sew.  I love, love, love the finished product, and I’m so impressed with all the attention to detail in this pattern, that I would love to sew another from this company.  Plenty of patterns out there are good, but I think the quality of this one is a step above.  I’m glad I tried it.  It’s been fun to have a bright colored sweatshirt to fight off the spring rain and chill, too.

And with that, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite outtakes/silly shots:

Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

Many thanks to my long-suffering photographer.  😀

 

 

Want a Patagonia-Style Fleece Pullover? Try the Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover in Polartec

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Want a Patagonia-Style Fleece Pullover?  Try the Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover in Polartec

If you sew, what drives you to make a particular project?  Maybe sometimes it’s wanting your own version of something you saw another person make.  Maybe you can create a designer-inspired piece for an affordable price.  Maybe you love construction and couture details.  For me, I often want to see what it would be like to make something.  I find this to be the case in both cooking and sewing.  I may only make the food or article of clothing once, but I want to know how it’s made and what it takes to make it.

That’s what happened when I was contemplating some patterns by The Green Pepper at Joann Fabrics one day.  I had never tried any of these patterns, but I noticed one that was for a fleece jacket like the ones at L.L. Bean.  The pattern in the store may have been a zip-up version, and I was interested in the classic pullover style, but it got me thinking.  This style has been around for decades and is probably more well-known from Patagonia, an early adopter of fleece fabric in garments.  (In fact, this pullover at Patagonia looks amazingly similar to what I ended up making.)  I found The Green Pepper F722, Polar Pullover and Vest on Etsy.  There is a similar style on The Green Pepper website, number 512.  It looks like an older pattern (copyright 1999) and is a slightly different version with a different finish for the sleeves and collar and only one pocket flap option.  My pattern has a copyright date of 2013 on the envelope.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

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The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

For fabric, I hit the jackpot at Fashion Fabrics Club.  This website can be a little overwhelming, because there is just so much, but looking at the fabric on a screen bigger than a phone helps.  I found Polartec Double Sided Curly Fleece in Sour Lemon

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

as well as woven Supplex in Dark Turquoise (which I thought was nylon, but the website says is cotton), and a stretchy nylon/spandex Creamy Pink Jersey Knit (no longer available) for my inner neck edging.  I chose colors I liked together on my computer, and ordered them, hoping they would work in real life.  Shipping took awhile, but when I finally got everything, I was thrilled.  The colors were great together!  Other odds and ends came either from my stash or Joann’s, with the exception of my snaps.  The pattern calls for heavy duty snaps, and I, being a snap novice, didn’t really know what that meant.  So, I went looking for snaps in the color I wanted, rather than worrying about what “heavy duty” meant.  I found Snap Source pastel pink size 16 snaps at Wawak, which I thought looked most like what I was seeing online at Patagonia and L.L. Bean.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

This is a unisex pattern with all available sizes in one envelope, and according to my measurements, I was a medium in the chest and waist and a large in the hip, so that’s what I traced.  I opted for the pullover with the collar and rounded chest pocket, but you can also choose a vest, hood, or pointed pocket.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

As soon as I took the pattern instructions out of the envelope and started reading them, I could see that a lot of time, thought, and care had gone into making these directions.  There is a lot of information to help you before you begin, which is great.  My favorite part, though, was all the detail that was put into the construction directions.  This pattern doesn’t assume you have a serger, and gives clear, thorough instruction, including which direction to sew your seams, when to use a straight stitch and when to zigzag (something not all knit patterns have), and lots of small details that will give you a professional finish.  I was only a few steps in before I felt like I could trust this pattern.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

I made sure to use a walking foot, a jersey/ballpoint needle, and a lighter presser foot pressure, except for the neck facing, where I changed to a stretch needle after some trial and error.  I was surprised that a lot of my seams were sewn with a straight stitch and finished with a zigzag, which also served to flatten out the seam allowances.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

One slight issue I had on the front placket was in section J, step 1, where it said the placket should extend half an inch above the top of the jacket.  That wasn’t the case on my jacket—it’s possible that I made an error, but after measuring the pattern pieces to be sure, I think the error is in the pattern.  I went back and recut the placket, making it 3/8″ longer.  This error seems to be on all sizes.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

One other issue I had, which was my fault occurred while installing the snaps.  I was trying to use prong snaps, when the pattern had called for heavy duty snaps, which are larger and have a post.  I got the top side of my snaps in, but couldn’t get the bottoms in.  I bought some heavy duty snaps and did some tests on scrap fabric to confirm that they would work (they did), but I really wanted pink snaps.  After going down a major rabbit hole where I started researching powder coating and other types of paint, and calling people who repair outdoor gear (Boulder Mountain Repair and Specialty Outdoors were kind enough to talk to me and point me in some helpful directions), I finally visited L.L. Bean to do a little sleuthing.  It looks like they are using colored plastic snaps, about the size of my original pink snaps, but they had trimmed all the bulk out of their facings, whereas mine had (in some places) two layers of fleece and four layers of Supplex.  My husband had suggested that I trim this area before I went on my snap saga, but I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to make it work until I felt the facings on the L.L. Bean sweatshirts.  So, I went home and opened up the facing, trimming down the bulk in the bottom facing, after which I had no problem installing the bottom of my snaps.  Consider me older and wiser now—I will do this on both parts of the facing next time, which will give me a ton of color options for snaps, thanks to Snap Source.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

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The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

Snap saga aside, this pattern was a joy to sew and VERY interesting.  I got really professional results and a brightly colored sweatshirt I can wear during this cool and cloudy spring.  The pockets are a major bonus, including the chest pocket!

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

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The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

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The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

There’s even a little hanging tab.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

It’s warm and cozy, and it’s very encouraging that I can find professional materials.  It was hard to find heavy-duty snaps in all the colors of the rainbow (although some colors are available), but trimming down the fleece in the facing gives you more options.  I think final cost for this sweatshirt was under $35, which is great, considering that many of these sweatshirts in the store are in the $70–$120 range.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

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The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

If I were to make this again, some things that would be fun to try are swapping out the elastic in the casings at hip (pictured below) and wrist

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

for a stretchy binding on cuffs, hem, and top of collar, as well as trying the pointy pocket, possibly in a double layer of Supplex instead of fleece.  It would be fun to order some of my own labels and sew one to the front as well (if only I could decide what to put on them!).  And I’d love to try out some Polartec WindPro so the wind couldn’t blow through.  I’m not sure how many of these sweatshirts I need, but this was really nice to sew.  Since The Green Pepper also has a zip-front pattern (number 507), maybe that would be a good one to try too.  If this is a style you like, I highly recommend this pattern.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

 

 

T-Shirt Time! Three Plantains and a Lark Tee

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T-Shirt Time!  Three Plantains and a Lark Tee

Hi, sewing friends!  It’s finally time for the last of my winter sewing…and by that I mean projects I sewed during the winter, not necessarily projects that are just right for cool weather.  Spring is cold here, so I’m currently sewing sweatshirts.  I’m happy to wrap up the winter-time sewing, though.

I’m combining all these projects into one post because I have blogged both of these patterns before.  My two Plantain Tees are here.  The Lark Tees are here:  short-sleeved v-neck, short-sleeved crew neck, long-sleeved scoop neck.  Today I have three Plantain Tees, a free pattern from Deer & Doe Patterns (and my current favorite t-shirt pattern) and one crew-neck Lark Tee, a pattern from Grainline Studio.  I feel mixed about the Lark, but I keep making it because it has so many options.

My New Favorite T-Shirt Pattern:  the Deer & Doe Plantain T-Shirt

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My New Favorite T-Shirt Pattern:  the Deer & Doe Plantain T-Shirt

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Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

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Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

I used to think that I never wanted to sew t-shirts when they were so readily available and inexpensive, but they are a really quick and satisfying sew, a perfect project after sewing more complex or time-sensitive things (like Christmas presents).  Now I’m converted.  These were the first things I sewed after Christmas.

My t-shirt drawer needed some more options, and I found some interesting fabric for my projects.  The two star-print t-shirts (the pink and orange is a Plantain and the black and white is the Lark) are cotton/spandex knits from Cotton + Steel that I got at Pintuck & Purl.  The black and white is softer, but also attracts more hair in the washer and dryer.  The pink fades very slightly at the seams.  I really like both as I love a good star print, and they get lots of wear.

T-shirt Time!  Three Plaintains and a Lark

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T-shirt Time!  Three Plaintains and a Lark

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T-shirt Time!  Three Plaintains and a Lark

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T-shirt Time!  Three Plaintains and a Lark

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T-shirt Time!  Three Plaintains and a Lark

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T-shirt Time!  Three Plaintains and a Lark

I used some scraps from the pink and orange Plantain to add contrast elements to this sky blue Plantain.  The elbow patches are included with the pattern.

T-shirt Time!  Three Plaintains and a Lark

I sew them on with a very close zigzag stitch.  The fabric is one I got awhile ago for some other project that never happened, and I’m not quite sure what it is or where it’s from.  My guess is that it’s a cotton/spandex from Fabric.com, but I’m not positive.  It is sort of stiff, although it’s not uncomfortable.  I probably wouldn’t order it again, but since I can’t remember what it was or where it’s from, I’m probably safe.  😉

T-shirt Time!  Three Plaintains and a Lark

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T-shirt Time!  Three Plaintains and a Lark

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T-shirt Time!  Three Plaintains and a Lark

The last Plantain Tee is made from a wool jersey from Fabric Mart.  It’s really soft, and I love the color.  It is thin, but not see-through.  I wear this one a lot, too (like right now, while I’m typing this!).  I found a few small holes in one arm that I tried to fix (and probably made things worse).

T-shirt Time!  Three Plaintains and a Lark

I have no idea if this is how the fabric came or if it’s from my washer.  They were so tiny, I probably should have just left them, but oh well.  As with all of these fabrics, I prewashed and dried them in the washer and dryer before cutting and sewing the fabric, so they are all easy care, and I don’t have to worry about shrinkage or special treatment.

T-shirt Time!  Three Plaintains and a Lark

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T-shirt Time!  Three Plaintains and a Lark

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T-shirt Time!  Three Plaintains and a Lark

As far as construction, I don’t feel my results with a twin needle have been as durable as I would like.  The hems that I have used a twin needle on often come apart after awhile.  Since I didn’t feel like trouble-shooting that this time, I used a zigzag for all the shirts–construction seams and hems.

T-shirt Time!  Three Plaintains and a Lark

I don’t worry about finishing my edges (other than hemming) or think much about fine-tuning the fit on these shirts, since the knits all stretch.

I like the fit on both patterns, although the Lark is long, and I prefer the fit of the Plantain.  I sewed the Lark to the original length, because I figured if it was really too long, I could chop it off later (I actually hate going back to old projects, but let’s just pretend I would do this).  So far, it doesn’t bother me too much.  For me, the success or failure of each Lark I have made has hinged on fabric choice since I go back and forth on how much I like the silhouette of this pattern.  I have been happy with all my Plantains.

I’m really glad to have all of these in my wardrobe, adding color and options.  In the future, I would love to try the Stellan Tee, another free t-shirt pattern, from French Navy.  I bought more of the black and white star print in the hopes that I will be able to make it this summer.  Do you have a favorite t-shirt pattern?  If so, leave it in the comments.  I love new pattern ideas!

 

Sapporo Coat in Wool

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Sapporo Coat in Wool

Today’s post is almost the last winter clothing post.  (Oh, wait.  I just realized I’m sewing sweatshirts right now.  Well…this is one of the last ones I sewed during the winter.)  I saved this one for early spring because it’s a great transitional garment…the Sapporo Coat from Papercut Patterns.

Sapporo Coat in Wool

This is a pattern I have had my eye on for awhile, so I put it on my Christmas list, and my husband was kind enough to order it for me from Pattern Review. (He’s the best.)  Papercut always has really interesting patterns, and this one is no different.  Cocoon coats are sort of a funny shape, but I like trying new types of clothing, and the possibility of color-blocking and highlighting the cool seamlines really drew me in.  It was an added benefit that I had fabric in my stash that I could use, so I didn’t have to get any new fabric for this.

Sapporo Coat in Wool

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Sapporo Coat in Wool

I chose gray and black wools from my stash for the outside with a polyester lining.  The wool was given to me by friends ages ago, and the lining was purchased for another project, but never got used.  It’s originally from Fabric Place Basement in Natick, MA.

Sapporo Coat in Wool

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Sapporo Coat in Wool

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Sapporo Coat in Wool

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Sapporo Coat in Wool

When choosing a pattern size, I nearly always have to grade up a size for the waist and hip.  According to my measurements, I should have done that for this pattern as well, but it’s not the easiest pattern to do that with, so I went with my bust size (S/M) and hoped for the best.  It helps that this coat is oversized and meant to be worn open.  I think it turned out alright.

Sapporo Coat in Wool

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Sapporo Coat in Wool

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Sapporo Coat in Wool

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Sapporo Coat in Wool

The sewing itself was pretty easy and enjoyable.  I saw online that many people used different tailoring techniques and interfacing to make this more like a coat, and less like a lightweight jacket, but I decided to mostly trust and follow the instructions as written.  The one thing I did change was the sleeves.

Sapporo Coat in Wool

The pattern has you line the sleeves with the same fabric as the outside, but I noticed that the seam that joins the sleeves to the body really stood out from the body on many Sapporo coats that I saw online, and I hoped that using lining in the sleeve would soften that area so it didn’t stand up so much.  It didn’t actually have the effect I had hoped for, but I did learn how to bag a lining after a few missteps.

In order to line my sleeve, I created a facing for it using the sleeve pattern piece and then a shorter piece for my lining.  In step 12, I pinned my lining to my sleeve facing and stitched, thinking I could flip everything right side out.  I came out with a tangled mess, so I consulted the Easy Guide to Sewing Linings by Connie Long, and followed her directions.  That helped me fix everything.  I just have to say…bagging a lining is MAGIC!  I can’t even remember how I did it, but now I know where to find the information (and you do, too!)!  (By the way–that link is to an eBook, but you can find used copies of this book pretty easily.  Mine came from Amazon, I think.)

Sapporo Coat in Wool

I really like this strange and interesting coat.  I like the hidden pockets and the unique shape.  I wasn’t sure if I would like the shorter sleeves, but I do.  They work with the silhouette.  And I LOVE the color-blocking.  Originally I had planned to do a lot of topstitching, but decided against it when I started making the jacket.  I still think it would be interesting to add topstitching near the seam lines and edges, but that will have to be an experiment for another time.  The top of the collar seems like it wants to roll out, so topstitching would probably help with that.

Sapporo Coat in Wool

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Sapporo Coat in Wool

It will be interesting to see if this jacket becomes a staple of my wardrobe or more of an occasional piece.  I really enjoyed making it and would consider making it again someday.  One of my goals is to make more jackets in general, so this is a good start.

A Long Overdue Gift: Men’s Simplicity 1544 in Flannel

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A Long Overdue Gift:  Men’s Simplicity 1544 in Flannel

I am so happy to report that this flannel shirt, which was supposed to be a Christmas present in 2017, is finally finished!  It took awhile, but I’m really happy with the final result.

Men's Simplicity 1544 in Flannel

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Men's Simplicity 1544 in Flannel

My husband picked out this buffalo plaid Mammoth Flannel by Robert Kaufman Fabrics in 2017, and we decided to pair it with the Thread Theory Fairfield Button-up Shirt.  The Fairfield is a slim-fitting dress shirt, which should have been a clue about how my initial tests would go.  What my husband wanted was a loose-fitting, casual flannel shirt.  We really like Thread Theory Patterns, which is why we tried the Fairfield, but after two muslins (test garments), it just wasn’t working out.  I made muslin #1 too big.  Muslin #2 was a great fit…for a slim-fitting dress shirt, which is exactly what that pattern is for.  What it is not is a loose and boxy casual button up.  After two muslins, I put the pattern away for a year.  I needed a break.

This past fall/winter, I decided to try again.  I bought Simplicity 1544, which is the men’s version of my own favorite button up pattern, Simplicity 1538.  I took my husband’s measurements, which put him in a size 44.  I cut out a straight 44 for him (View A without the back tab), and decided to throw caution to the wind and skip the muslin.  I really hate making muslins despite the fact that I’m always glad when I do.  After two, I just decided I was going for it and if it didn’t work out, we could find someone else to give it to.  It was time.

Men's Simplicity 1544 in Flannel

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Men's Simplicity 1544 in Flannel

I took a lot of time and care in cutting this shirt out.  The blocks of color in this plaid are more rectangular than square, so there are some areas that I couldn’t make symmetrical, specifically the back yoke, which I put on the bias, but overall, it worked out great.

Men's Simplicity 1544 in Flannel

I love contrast, so I used the bias as my contrast, in a sense, putting it on the yoke, the front placket, the pocket, cuffs, and cuff placket.

Men's Simplicity 1544 in Flannel

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Men's Simplicity 1544 in Flannel

I tried to match the plaid horizontally across the front of the shirt, the back, and across the sleeves.

Men's Simplicity 1544 in Flannel

I was even careful to have the shirt’s hemmed edge fall at the bottom of a repeat (this was mostly successful).

Men's Simplicity 1544 in Flannel

And tried to have a dividing line of the plaid down the back center of the collar and collar stand.

Men's Simplicity 1544 in Flannel

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Men's Simplicity 1544 in Flannel

Some parts of the insides are not finished as well as I would like.  I zigzagged any seam allowances (sides and sleeves) that weren’t encased like the yoke and cuffs.  French seams would have been bulky, and I really didn’t think ahead enough to do flat-felled seams.  Luckily, my husband doesn’t care, which means I don’t either!  (Mostly.)

Men's Simplicity 1544 in Flannel

The yoke, placket, and cuffs, however, are satisfyingly finished.

Men's Simplicity 1544 in Flannel

And the topstitching is a really nice detail.

Men's Simplicity 1544 in Flannel

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed sewing this pattern.  I shouldn’t have been–I really like making button up shirts, but after taking such a long time to get to the sewing part of this project, I wasn’t really thinking about how I would feel while sewing.  Happily, I loved it.  The directions for this pattern are clear and well-written, and I loved seeing all my careful cutting come together is a beautifully matched shirt.  The icing on the cake was that this was exactly the fit my husband was looking for.  It’s the perfect casual flannel shirt for him.  This pattern is going to be my go-to if I make him any other casual shirts.

Men's Simplicity 1544 in Flannel

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Men's Simplicity 1544 in Flannel

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Men's Simplicity 1544 in Flannel

As far as the fabric, my love of Robert Kaufman’s Mammoth Flannel is pretty well documented (here’s my Mammoth flannel version of Simplicity 1538), and this is no exception.  When you buy it, it feels a little on the thin side, but as soon as you wash it, it fluffs up to be nice and substantial, with no real right or wrong side.  I like Robert Kaufman fabrics in general because there is a huge variety of substrates and styles, lots of shops carry Robert Kaufman fabric, and it’s both good quality and affordable.  This fabric and the Fairfield Shirt pattern came from Pintuck & Purl (of course) and the Simplicity pattern came from Joann’s, as did interfacing and thread.  The buttons were given to me by a friend.  They are basic black buttons, but are a perfect match.  I made sure to put a few on the inside of the placket in case any of the main ones fall off.

Men's Simplicity 1544 in Flannel

So that’s it!  Despite being finished toward the end of winter, this shirt has gotten a lot of wear.  I love how it looks on my husband, and I think he likes it too.  🙂

Men's Simplicity 1544 in Flannel

Jutland Pants for Me in Yellow Corduroy

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Jutland Pants for Me in Yellow Corduroy

It’s finally spring!  I’m so ready for it, but before I start digging into spring projects, I have some winter garments to talk about on the blog.  One of those garments is a pair of Jutland Pants for me in yellow corduroy.

The Jutland Pants are a men’s pants pattern by Thread Theory.  I’ve made a few pairs for my husband (here and here), but they also miraculously fit me (see my first pair and my cutoffs).  And, like any good pair of boyfriend jeans, they are loose and comfy.

Jutland Pants for Me in Yellow Corduroy

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Jutland Pants for Me in Yellow Corduroy

This time around, I had to trace a new size, but I was in the middle of two sizes, so I tried to trace right in between the size lines on the pattern sheet.  I’m always afraid of making things too small, so I tend to err on the side of bigger rather than smaller.  With this iteration of the Jutland Pants, I think I went just a little too big.  The pants, which are SO comfortable, are also super loose, and definitely a bit bigger than they should be.  You can kind of see below that there is a bit extra in the waistband.

Jutland Pants for Me in Yellow Corduroy

When I first put them on, the waistband really stood away from my body at the back, so I put in a few darts after they were otherwise finished.  I tried to line up the waistband darts I was creating with the darts that were already in the back.

Jutland Pants for Me in Yellow Corduroy

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Jutland Pants for Me in Yellow Corduroy

I transferred the darts to my pattern piece for the future.  I also came to an important conclusion:  if I’m going to keep making this pattern for myself, it’s time to get serious about making it actually fit me.

Jutland Pants for Me in Yellow Corduroy

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Jutland Pants for Me in Yellow Corduroy

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Jutland Pants for Me in Yellow Corduroy

As far as this pair goes, I love them.  I recognize that they don’t look great on me, but they do feel great.  I’m so ready for pants with wider legs.  All that being said, however, I plan to make the next pair a bit smaller and do some real work on the pattern to make it fit me just right.  I’m even researching possible ways to make the waistband adjustable for weight gain or loss (seriously–why is that not standard on all pants?).

Jutland Pants for Me in Yellow Corduroy

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Jutland Pants for Me in Yellow Corduroy

Here are some details:

I got my pattern and fabric from Pintuck & Purl.  The corduroy (a Christmas present) is a Robert Kaufman corduroy, and the octopus fabric I used for the waistband and pockets is an old Cotton + Steel quilting cotton print.  Other supplies, like bias binding, thread, and interfacing came from Joann Fabrics.

Jutland Pants for Me in Yellow Corduroy

I mainly followed the directions, with the addition of the darts and an extra bar tack at the bottom of the fly.  One weird thing about this pattern is that it creates a small fold at the bottom of the fly, rather than a smooth surface.  Has anyone else experienced this?  Am I missing something?  It never bothers me when I’m wearing it, but it always leaves me nonplussed when I think about it.

I used faux flat-fell and zigzag stitching on the seam allowances inside to finish my seams, so they aren’t very pretty, but it was quick.  There is provision in the pattern for nice, flat-felled seams if you want them, though.  In order to do that, you should follow the construction order in the pattern.  In future, though, (if I remember), I plan to skip that and construct the front and then the back, like the Ginger Jeans, so I can fit from the side seams before finalizing everything.

Those are my current thoughts on this pattern.  I think my great love for it comes from its comfort and the straight leg shape.  Hopefully I can get it to really work for me.

Jutland Pants for Me in Yellow Corduroy

Craft Fail: Tova Mittens from Upcycled Sweaters

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Craft Fail:  Tova Mittens from Upcycled Sweaters

It’s been awhile since we had a good ol’ Craft Fail on the blog, but this project was a complete and total loss.  I would say that three-quarters of it was my fault–poor fabric choice, and silly mistakes were most of the problem.  I also had some trouble with the directions.

Craft Fail:  Tova Mittens from Fulled Sweaters

I bought this pattern, the Tova Mittens, along with two hat patterns, from Last Stitch during the Black Friday sales.  I was really excited about these patterns (and I still am), partly because it looked like you could use shrunken/upcycled sweaters to make them.

This seemed like a fun way to use up some of my favorite shrunken sweaters, which I save for interesting projects like this.  The intended recipient and I went through and picked out a fun combination of sweater pieces so that I could make mittens that would sort of match in an offbeat way.  I also had a few scraps of sweatshirt material (from this project) that I thought would be perfect for lining.

I think problem number one was the fabric choice.  The shrunken sweaters, specifically the pink sweater, weren’t as stretchy as they probably should have been.  Another VERY IMPORTANT thing that I didn’t pay enough attention to was the right side of that pink sweater fabric.  In its shrunken state, both sides look really cool and could have been used as the right side.  Sadly I wasn’t careful enough when cutting and sewing…and…I MADE TWO LEFT-HANDED MITTENS.  Yes.  I did.  And to ice that cake, (and probably because of it), one of the lining pieces on one of the mittens is the wrong way out.  Bad, bad, and worse.  Also funny…once you stop being mad.

Craft Fail:  Tova Mittens from Fulled Sweaters

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Craft Fail:  Tova Mittens from Fulled Sweaters

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Craft Fail:  Tova Mittens from Fulled Sweaters

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Craft Fail:  Tova Mittens from Fulled Sweaters

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Craft Fail:  Tova Mittens from Fulled Sweaters

The pattern itself is interesting.  I made the XS size.  The seam allowance is odd if you use Imperial measurements.  For those of us who use inches, it’s 1/5″, which I’ve never seen before, so I just tried to use 1/4″.  I was tracking with the directions until step 5.  I found the picture really confusing.  I ended up sewing the thumb right sides together and then turning it right side out before doing the next step.  Then everything was good until step 8.  I stitched the front and back together with right sides together, which meant that my thumb was on the inside, and I had to be careful not to stitch it.  This is different from the picture (adding to my confusion), but maybe I did step 5 wrong.  I could also see that I was going to have a hole where the thumb joined to the side seam.

Once I got to the cuffs, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to use the fold line shown on the cuff pattern piece in step 9 or 11.  It wasn’t shown in the picture or mentioned in the directions.  Step 11 was very confusing in general.  Was I supposed to fold in half what I had already done or fold half the cuff up so the seam was enclosed?  It didn’t end up mattering, because the cuff I had made was never going to fit the mitten.  This was undoubtedly my fault–I’m sure my fabric wasn’t stretchy enough, so I chucked it and used ribbing from the green sweater, which worked much better.  Unfortunately, I attached the cuffs wrong-way-out.  Yep.  I did.

Craft Fail:  Tova Mittens from Fulled Sweaters

I think a big part of my problem in understanding the directions is that I’m coming at this from an American sewist’s viewpoint.  We are used to having a lot of hand-holding.  Even the Big 4 patterns, for as much as people complain about them, actually have a lot of information included in them if you take the time to read it.  I think that sewists in Europe (where this pattern is coming from) who are used to Burda patterns are a lot more self-sufficient and used to figuring things out for themselves.  While there actually are a lot of directions and illustrations, I found them hard to understand at several points.

I would try this pattern again in a fleece with a distinct right and wrong side, and I think things would go a lot better, although I do wish the directions (pictures and words) made a bit more sense to me.  At this point, I have shoved these mittens in a corner, and will probably recycle them after publishing this post.  On to the next thing!