Category Archives: Sewing

Open Wide Zippered Pouch from Noodlehead

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Open Wide Zippered Pouch from Noodlehead

And now for something a little bit different…

I don’t always sew Christmas presents.  It can be hard to know what people will like, and I don’t want to invest time into something that isn’t a sure thing.  That’s why, this year, I decided to make a few zippered pouches.  These are not clothing or decor, and they are very, very functional, and can be used to store whatever the recipient wants.

Open Wide Zippered Pouch from Noodlehead

I haven’t made many bags, so I’m not as tuned in to that area of the sewing world, but I knew from what knowledge I did have, that if I wanted to find a tutorial for a bag with great instructions, I should look at Anna Graham’s blog, called Noodlehead.  So, off I went, and found exactly what I was looking for:  the Open Wide Zippered Pouch.

After the initial tutorial post, Anna went back and updated it with two more size options so you can make small, medium, or large pouches and, as the name indicates, these pouches open wide when you unzip them.  They also stand up, thanks to interfacing and boxed corners, and stay open so you can see what’s inside.  I had never considered these options before, since the zipper pouches I use are store-bought and of the flat variety.

Open Wide Zippered Pouch from Noodlehead

I made both pouches in the small size.  They were easy to make and didn’t take long at all.  I got all my fabric and zippers at Pintuck & Purl–just quarter yards of each fabric I wanted to use.  The printed fabrics are Cotton & Steel quilting cottons and the light blue solid is a lightweight denim from Art Gallery Fabrics.

I sew a lot of clothes but I have found that there are always new areas to explore in the sewing world.  So even if bags are fairly new to you, as they are to me, you can handle this.  I would definitely make these again, and I’m already planning to try out another of Anna’s pouch tutorials this year.

Open Wide Zippered Pouch from Noodlehead

These pouches were well-received and are already in use, which makes me happy.  I recommend Anna’s tutorial to you if you are looking for something like this.  Here’s my question for you:  do you have any favorite bag patterns?  I’m not planning on switching away from garments, but I might try a few bags this year.

Recommendations

  • I’m reading The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair, and it’s so interesting.  This is a great book for someone who only has little chunks of time to read.  She talks about a myriad of colors, and each entry is only about two or three pages, so you can learn a lot of fascinating color history, even if you only have 5 minutes here and there to read.
  • I tried Cremont cheese from Vermont Creamery earlier this month, and it is SO GOOD!  I highly recommend this one if you are a cheese lover.
  • I just started listening to the Awesome Etiquette podcast from the Emily Post Institute after hearing about it on the Love to Sew podcast.  It’s definitely not about picking apart the behavior of others, but focuses more on how we can care for others with our actions.  It’s nice to hear and think about positive, uplifting things.
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The Long, Long Cardigan: McCall’s 7476

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The Long, Long Cardigan: McCall’s 7476

The long cardigan was a new style for me until the beginning of the year when I bought one at TJ Maxx.  I wasn’t sure about the look, but I was curious and wanted to try it.  I told myself I would test it out, and I really liked it!  Then I saw this look and found McCall’s 7476.  It was time to MAKE one of my own.

The Long, Long Cardigan:  McCall's 7476

The only problem was that the super long version I wanted (View E, but without the shawl collar) called for A LOT of fabric.

The Long, Long Cardigan:  McCall's 7476

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The Long, Long Cardigan:  McCall's 7476

I knew that if I was going to make this, I would have to find a good deal on material.  One of my favorite places to look for such deals in person, rather than online, is at Fabric Place Basement in Natick, MA.  It’s not exactly nearby, but if I’m really efficient with my time and focused when I’m there, I can do it on a weekday.

I went with my list and my budget and my ideas and, providentially, there was a sale on wool.  The fabric I found for the cardigan was a wool/acrylic rib knit, so it was affordable with the discount.  I don’t normally like rib knits, but being able to see and feel this one in person convinced me that it could work for my cardigan.

The Long, Long Cardigan:  McCall's 7476

On to the project!  I washed and dried a fabric swatch (I think it was 4″ x 4″) to see how much shrinkage would happen.  Despite the warm temperature I used, there really wasn’t any shrinkage.  So, I put the rest of my fabric in the washer and dryer.  The only downside to this fabric is that it’s a hair magnet, but at least it doesn’t shrink!

I cut my pattern out on the floor after cleaning it as well as I could so the fabric didn’t get dirty.  I cut a large for the bust and waist and an extra large for the hip, leaving off the shawl collar.  This was also my first time using knit interfacing.  It went well, and I like the feel of it in the finished garment.

The Long, Long Cardigan:  McCall's 7476

Except for the unwieldiness of the project due to its length, this wasn’t hard.  I tried using Coats & Clark’s new Eloflex thread, which is slightly stretchy and made for knits.

The Long, Long Cardigan:  McCall's 7476

After awhile, I switched from Eloflex as my top thread and in my bobbin to Eloflex in just the top and wooly nylon in the bottom.  It seemed like my machine didn’t like something that I was doing, and for some reason, that configuration seemed to do the trick.  I still used a zigzag stitch and all the other things I do for sewing with knits (walking foot, lighter presser foot pressure, jersey needle), but just changed up that top thread from my usual all-purpose Gutermann to Eloflex.  We’ll see how it holds up.  No complaints so far, but I also haven’t used it enough to say if I love it or not.

The Long, Long Cardigan:  McCall's 7476

The other thing I tried out on this garment was Steam-A-Seam 2 (the 1/4″ one).  I’ve had this for a while, but haven’t really used it.  It’s a lightly tacky double-stick tape that you then use to fuse your fabric together with an iron when it’s positioned.  I used it to help me hem and for my pockets as an extra stabilizer. It says it creates a permanent bond when ironed, but I still sewed my hems and pockets where I applied it.  Why did it take me so long to use this?!

The Long, Long Cardigan:  McCall's 7476

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The Long, Long Cardigan:  McCall's 7476

After wearing the cardigan a few times, I wonder if I need to shorten it just a bit.  The hem is about an inch off the ground.  (For reference, I’m 5′ 8.5″.)  It doesn’t pick up as much dirt as you might expect, but I’m always worried it will drag.  I was hoping I could just fold the hem up one more time, but when I tried pinning it, I realized that my hem was slightly uneven, and simply folding it up really exacerbated that.  Maybe it’s time to use my new-to-me hem marker if it will go down that far.

The Long, Long Cardigan:  McCall's 7476

I really, really like this cardigan.  I know it’s a different look and it’s a lot of black for me, but it’s so cozy and warm (guys, it’s basically a blanket or a robe).  I like how it looks with jeans or overalls, and it’s great to have something so long and dramatic–something so different from most of the rest of my wardrobe.  I would definitely make this again.

The Long, Long Cardigan:  McCall's 7476

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The Long, Long Cardigan:  McCall's 7476

Recommendations

  • While reading the Wednesday Weekly from Helen’s Closet, I saw that Sewrendipity is creating a hub for local fabric shopping guides.  You can see if she’s linked to one near you, or submit your own.  It’s a great idea.
  • Indie Sew wrote a great article on fabric weight, how to determine fabric weight, and why it’s important.

 

 

 

The Coziest Sweatshirt: Very Easy Vogue 9055

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The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

After the dirndl project that I undertook earlier this fall, I wanted to make sure that I had some quick, easy projects in my next project batch.  As we were going into cooler temperatures, I started to think that a few knit sewing projects were in order.

The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

One of the new things I want to incorporate more into my wardrobe is leggings (even though I’m not wearing them in these pictures) which, whether or not you think they count as pants, definitely count as secret pajamas.  However, I also don’t want my hind end exposed, which means I need longer t-shirts.  I’ve tried the Briar Tee from Megan Nielson Patterns, which I like, but it’s not quite as long as I want and I think something is off for me in the shoulder area.  I really like the concept, however, and so I thought I would give Vogue 9055 a try.

The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

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The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

I found the coziest sweatshirt-like knit fabric at Fabric Place Basement in Natick, MA that seemed perfect.  It’s 80% cotton and 20% polyester.  This pattern and fabric combination ticked most of my boxes:  cozy, secret pajamas, like a warm hug, long and butt-covering.  The only thing it was missing was real color.  While gray is a cozy color, it also kind of depresses me.  Sorry, gray lovers.  I live in a land of gray winters (as you can see from these pictures) and I need color.  So I bought bling to spice it up.  🙂

The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

While in my mind this project was going to take me, like, two seconds (which never actually happens, but it’s still possible to delude myself), it didn’t.  I made the shirt, minus hems, and then I looked at it…  The hips were too wide, and actually it looked a bit big on top, too.  The neckband wasn’t tight enough, so it was flopping forward.  What the heck?!  Also, why have I not mastered knit neckbands after all this time?!

So I took a step back and started working on one issue at a time.  I took the extra off the hips that I had added previously, and that made a big difference.  I decided not to hem the sleeves or body of the shirt because I like the unhemmed shirt length and the look of it unhemmed.  I could probably trim an inch off the sleeves…but I just don’t want to.  As for the neckband, I cut it off and stay stitched again, but it wasn’t great without some sort of band.  So I asked someone who knew more than me (always a good choice!).  She told me I needed to make the band shorter, and she did all my calculations for me, making the neckband 15% smaller than the opening of my neck hole (thanks, Stacy!!!).  When I recut the piece and sewed it on, it was SO MUCH BETTER.  I still need practice to get knit neckbands perfect, but this was a serious improvement.

The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

I know lots of people are down on the amount of ease in Big 4 patterns.  I’m the opposite.  I usually love the amount of ease they include, since I’m not a fan of super-fitted clothing, but I think in this fabric, I could have gone down one size from my measurements.  On the plus side, it’s the ultimate in comfort.

The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

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The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

As for the sparkly decorations I bought for my shirt, there really isn’t a lot of space to put them on.  So I don’t know.  What would you do?  Keep the sweatshirt plain or add details or decorations of some kind?  For now, it’s plain, because I just wanted to wear it, and it really is as cozy as it looks.  I’m open to ideas for jazzing it up, however.  Leave your ideas in the comments!

The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

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The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

The only thing that is out of the ordinary in this project is that I tried a new product:  the new Eloflex thread from Coats & Clark.  I haven’t used it enough to have a firm opinion on it, but it seems good so far.  It’s not elastic thread, but it does have a bit of stretch in it.  You can’t really tell if you hold a small amount between your fingers, but if you hold about a foot of it and pull, you’ll feel more stretch than in standard polyester thread.  Normally I would use all-purpose Gutermann polyester thread for my knits, maybe with woolly nylon in the bobbin.  For this shirt I used Eloflex in the top and in the bobbin.  Now we’ll see how it holds up to wear and tear.  I’m definitely excited to experiment with it.

The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

Recommendations

  • Check out these cool seam rippers from Bias Bespoke on Etsy.  This one is a travel seam ripper with a flip-down lid, and this one has a seam ripper on one side and tweezers on the other.  Smart design!
  • My awesome parents now scout out fabric stores for me (my mom is also a quilter, but they look for me now, too).  They discovered Fabrications in Richland, MI.  If you are looking for wool knits, Fabrications has a number of them, including some marked “machine washable”.  I spent a lot of time on their website picking out swatches so I could give some a try, courtesy of my parents.  Thanks, Mom and Dad!  I’m excited!
  • Sometimes I struggle with anxiety (especially the last few winters), so this winter I’m trying out The Happy Light to see if light therapy helps.  As one doctor said, even if it’s psychosomatic, if it helps, it’s worth it.  So far I really like it.  We’ll see how the whole winter shapes up, but even if it doesn’t help with anxiety, it makes a great little work light.
  • Here’s what happens when you use Google Translate to take a song out of its original language and then translate it back.  🙂

 

How I Sew

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How I Sew

The process of how people make things is interesting.  It’s fascinating to see the spaces people create in and to learn about their processes.  And since sewing is my creative practice, I’m interested in how others sew and in thinking through how I sew.  After spending a few years sewing regularly, I’ve developed some habits and systems, and I thought I would share them with you in case you are curious about those types of things too.  Here is how I take a project from start to finish.

Overview

Currently, I batch my projects.  The first time I tried to do this, it was completely overwhelming.  But the next time I did a single project, I missed it.  These days, I tend to group about five sewing projects together and move them from start to finish as a unit.  Here’s what that looks like.

1.  Choose patterns and fabric.  This has to be my favorite part (except for finishing, when I get to wear the final product!).  Pairing fabric and patterns is so much fun.  Sometimes I have a pattern I want to make and I go looking for the fabric.  Sometimes there is a fabric already in my stash that I bought for a certain type of garment, in which case I have to look for just the right pattern.

How I Sew

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How I Sew

This is what I’ve got on my sewing list right now (which is a bit larger than usual):  Vogue 9055 (a knit top), McCall’s 7476 (a long, knit cardigan), Mini Virginia Leggings from Megan Nielsen Patterns, The Belvedere Waistcoat from Thread Theory Designs Inc., The Fairfield Button-Up, also from Thread Theory, Simplicity 4111 (a woven top), and the Lander Pant and Short from True/Bias.  This particular batch is a little out of control, but I’m going with it.  Christmas might have a little to do with the size…

2.  Choose pattern view and sizes.  Once I decide on my patterns, I make sure I know my measurements and, in this case, the measurements of the other people I’m sewing for.  I use this information to pick out my size(s) on the back of the envelope and I also choose what view/version of the pattern I’m going to make.  Everything gets written down on a sticky note and stuck to the back of the pattern, along with a list of the pattern pieces I’ll need to trace.

How I Sew

It’s also important to note what notions and interfacing I need, so I can look through what I already have and write down what I need to buy.  I stock up on what’s missing the next chance I get.

3.  Trace patterns.  I trace my size(s) in each pattern and, while I usually use paper patterns, if I am using a PDF, I assemble and trace that as well, since I don’t want to print and assemble PDF’s more than once.  I often have to grade from one size to another between the bust and waist, and sometimes I have to do a broad-back adjustment as well.  All of that happens on my traced pattern pieces.  The clean, traced pieces look so nice, and I’ve learned to enjoy the process of tracing.  It can get intense, though, when you are tracing through five or more patterns, especially the ones with lots of pieces.  TV, an audiobook, or a podcast help.

How I Sew

4.  Cut out patterns.  Once all my pieces are traced and adjusted, I cut out all of my fabric and interfacing (or my muslin if I’m making one).  Whenever possible, I cut on a self-healing mat on a card table that is raised up on bed risers.  I use a rotary cutter and large washers as pattern weights.

How I Sew

For longer patterns, I cut on the kitchen table or living room floor with scissors.

How I Sew

Once cut, I pin my pattern pieces to the fabric and stack everything up.  Sometimes I transfer markings after cutting, and sometimes I do that right before sewing.  Despite how nice and neat the picture below makes things look, my cut patterns usually end up draped over a chair in the living room, taking it out of commission.  I should probably use hangers more often!

How I Sew

5.  Time to sew!  Once I have everything cut out, I can sew, sew, sew!  I think that’s what really hooked me on batching projects–the fact that you can sew through project after project.  I love that.

I usually pin my instructions up in front of my machine, mark my place with a little Post-It flag, and transfer any pattern markings to my fabric pieces if necessary.  Then I sew through each project one by one.

How I Sew

In my current batch, I’ve made Vogue 9055, McCall’s 7476, and three Mini Virginia leggings.  All of these are knit projects that were super fast.  I felt the need for a few quick projects, so I put those at the front of the queue.  Now I’m ready to dig into the Belvedere Waistcoat, a garment type I’ve never made before.

Batching like this produces a nice group of projects I can photograph and bring to you here on the blog.  It’s really satisfying.  When I’m finished, I clean everything up and plan my next group of projects!

What about you?  Do you batch projects?  Do you have a system for working or do you change it up?  I’m curious!  I’m also excited to look back at this post sometime in the future and see how much my work practice changes (or stays the same) over time.

 

Just Like Magic…In Which a Down Jacket Becomes a Down Scarf

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Just Like Magic…In Which a Down Jacket Becomes a Down Scarf

Welcome to this issue of Experimental Sewing!  Today’s project involves turning the remnants of a down jacket (from this past project) into a scarf.

Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

After seeing the scarves Alabama Chanin and Patagonia made from worn out Patagonia jackets a few years ago, I reallllly wanted to try it for myself.  I thought it was a cool idea, and I was intrigued by the thought of recycling a down jacket (plus, I couldn’t pay $90 for one of theirs just because I was curious).  It was time to get sewing.

Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

I decided at the outset that my goal wasn’t perfect, heirloom sewing.  Undoubtedly the Alabama Chanin + Patagonia scarves are amazing in quality and workmanship, but I didn’t want to worry about that.  I just wanted to know if I could do it and what the process would be like.

Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

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Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

After my first project with this down jacket, which was interesting, but somewhat unpleasant to sew, due to the reality of sewing down in your living room, my husband suggested that I try sewing the scarf outside.  That was a game-changer.  Sewing outside in October, when it was still somewhat warm but not hot, was heavenly.  Any escaping down floated away on the breeze.  I felt like I was in a sweet, sweet dream (the weather was really nice), sewing away on my Featherweight in the backyard. 😀

Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

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Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

Let’s talk process for a bit, and discovery.  I looked at what I had left of the down jacket, and marked off pieces with  my sewing marker that were as rectangular as possible.  Then I sewed a straight stitch on either side of my cutting lines.  After that, I cut my pieces up.  And then I sewed them back together…as you do.  😉  This left me with something like a long rectangle, but also some exposed, slightly downy edges.

Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

And that’s when I made my discovery.  I went to an estate sale and came away with, among other things, fleece binding!  I had no idea this was a thing you could buy!  It was perfect for my project.  Rather than buying more to match things, I just decided to use what I had to cover the seams joining the rectangular pieces and the edges.  There was a little hand-sewing involved where the binding crossed from side to side, but not much.

Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

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Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

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Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

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Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

Before I finished, I also sewed a little rectangle to the inside of one end so that you could weave the other end through, helping to keep the scarf on.

Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

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Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

Some bonuses include the three pockets that are left in the scarf from the original jacket and, weirdly, the fact that the front zipper is still a part of the scarf and you can zip it up so it looks like you are wearing the front of a jacket.  It’s weird and cool.  (Really!  It’s cool!  I promise!)

Look out!  This could be the next trend coming your way in 2018.  You heard it here first!  😉

Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

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Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

I don’t think, after doing this, that I’m going to set up shop making a million things from down.  It was fun, but not so much that it’s going to be my new favorite thing.  What IS one of my favorite things in sewing is trying out different fabrics, and this definitely scratched that itch.  I’m pushing the boundaries of my sewing knowledge a little more each time!  That’s a win.

Recommendations

  • I just checked out the new cookbook from Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen, called Smitten Kitchen Every Day.  I’m still reading through it, but after only making it through the Breakfast section, I want to make every recipe.  Seriously.  I might need this cookbook.
  • I feel I would be remiss if, after this project, I didn’t recommend Wrights fleece binding.
  • I can’t get the great fabric/color combination of this Kelly Anorak sewn by Lauren of Guthrie and Ghani out of my head.
  • Oh!  And one more since we’re talking fabric.  I LOVE this Neon Neppy fabric from Robert Kaufman, and I can’t decide which one I love best:  Blue, Royal, or Charcoal?  The internet really doesn’t do it justice–it has little slubs of neon color throughout, and since I’m clearly in a speckle as well as a neon phase, it’s right up my alley.

It’s Dirndl Time! Burda Style 7084

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It’s Dirndl Time! Burda Style 7084

It’s dirndl time!  But it’s not for Oktoberfest.  Oh, no.  I finally made a dirndl, and I made it for…a German-themed birthday party!  It’s not every day you get to say that.  And yes, it was as awesome as it sounds.

Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

I’ve always been interested in folkwear, and have thought from time to time that it would be fun to sew a Dutch costume and attend a Tulip Time festival, but I never got serious about it.  Then, a few years ago, Gretchen Hirsch of Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing went on a trip to Europe and got dirndl fever.  Here is her definition of a dirndl from the same blog post:  “the dirndl is an ensemble which consists of a low-cut full-skirted dress with a snugly fitted bodice, an apron, and an underblouse that ends just below the bustline. Adorable jackets, flowered headbands, and hats may be added!”  I read her blog posts and looked through all the beautiful pictures of the many variations of this traditional Alpine look, and I caught the bug too.  I’ve been wanting to sew something at least inspired by Bavarian folkwear ever since, and this party was the perfect opportunity.  (I even started a dirndl Pinterest board to save my inspiration pictures!)

Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

Part of what made this whole experience great was that this wasn’t just any German-themed birthday party, but one for a fellow sewist.  It was attended by a number of other sewing people, so in the weeks leading up to the event, as I was sewing (and stressing that I wouldn’t finish in time), I felt the solidarity that comes with knowing there were others in the vicinity making their own dirndls.  It gave me the will to power on!  😉

Being practical (and on the lookout for a dress pattern I would use in my everyday life) I chose Burda Style 7084.  My hope was that with the apron, it would look like folkwear, but without the apron, it would magically transform into an everyday dress (#secretdirndl).  There seems to be quite a lot of variation in the traditional look, which Gertie touches on in this blog post on dirndls and wearability, so my idea wasn’t too out there.  Additionally, as much as I love the look of the dirndl with the blouse, fitted bodice, and gathered skirt, if I was going to actually wear this more than once, it was going to need more ease and bust coverage.

Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

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Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

So, despite some trepidation that I wouldn’t finish on time or that something would go amiss, I got started.  Before making the dress, I did a major broad back adjustment on the back bodice piece, and then made a quick muslin of the bodice.  Thankfully, that worked out and showed me I was on the right track.

Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

Although my measurements put me at an 18 for the bust and waist and a 20 for the hips, I made a straight 18 since the hip part of the dress is really just a lot of gathered fabric, which seemed pretty forgiving.  I made View A, with the little collar, but in the shorter length.  I hadn’t spent time sourcing fabric, so I was hoping that I could use some from my stash, and choosing the shortened length both saved me fabric, and made the dress fit my preferences better.

Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

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Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

In the end, the dress was almost free.  My outer material is a very lightweight, nearly sheer Swiss Dot Chambray in a color called Denim by Robert Kaufman.  I bought it with a gift card I won in a giveaway from The Cloth Pocket in Austin, Texas (Thanks, guys!).  I underlined it with an old sheet, which added opacity and body (and also cut down on wrinkling).

Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

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Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

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Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

For the apron, I used a sheer cotton embroidered curtain panel someone had given me.

Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

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It's dirndl time with Burda Style 7084!

All I really had to buy was the pattern, some buttons, and pencil pleating tape for the gathering on the skirt.  All of those things came from Jo-Ann Fabrics.

The pencil pleating tape was a little tricky to find.  You can gather the skirt by hand (as shown in this blog post), which I would love to try someday, but I was happy to have a quick option for this project.  I did some googling and didn’t turn up much.  In the end, I found 4″ pencil pleating tape for sale by the yard in the upholstery section of Jo-Ann’s.

Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

In order to use it, I sewed it to my assembled skirt, pulled several strings in the tape to gather the fabric, and adjusted the gathers until the skirt fit the bodice and my hips.  I braided the long ends of the ties and loosely knotted them rather than cutting them short, so that I could adjust the skirt in the future should I ever need to.  Then I sewed the skirt to the bodice.

Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

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Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

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It's dirndl time with Burda Style 7084!

When making the apron, I didn’t think about the fact that the apron length is meant to go with the longer skirt, so I had to take it apart after I thought I had finished and shorten it from the top since I was trying to preserve the embroidery along the edges.  In the end, though, the placement of the embroidery was much better on the shortened apron than it had been originally.  I’m so glad I found a use for this gorgeous and delicate fabric.  It definitely looks like I put more work into it than I did!

Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

I decided not to add the rick-rack the pattern called for, and I chose really basic buttons in the interest of frugality and wearability.

Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

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Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

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Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

Despite my fears, I finished in time, and I love my dress and apron.  It doesn’t hurt that I already owned a real, traditional German jacket.  It made for the perfect outfit!  The party was a blast, and I have worn the dress many times since making it, both with and without the apron.  It was the perfect first dirndl project.  Maybe there will be more to come?  Hopefully!

Recommendations

  • I’d love to try these Buckeye Turtle Brownies.  Just the name sounds amazing!
  • This Kalle Shirt Dress that Marcy made is so great.
  • I’m really obsessed with this outfit from Denim & Supply by Ralph Lauren.  I need to make a wool vest, stat!  Actually, I want the whole outfit, and with sewing as my superpower, it’s not out of reach!  Does this mean I need to enter Designin’ December?

 

McCall’s 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

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McCall’s 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

And now, deep into October, it’s finally time to wrap up my 2017 Summer Sewing list.  😉  This top is the last unblogged summer project.

McCall's 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

It’s McCall’s 6751, View A, and it has both pros and cons.

McCall's 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

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McCall's 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

On the pro side, I finally made this top well (see my first attempt, at the beginning of my serious sewing journey here).  I got another chance to sew with linen, which I loved.  It was easy and fast to sew (excluding all the hemming).  I love the look of the fabric and the look of the shirt on the hanger…but I don’t love it on me.  The cons are all personal preference, rather than some sort of problem with the pattern.  I don’t feel secure and covered enough in this shirt.

McCall's 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

I thought I would love the back, but I don’t.  It feels like it will shift or blow open at any moment, leaving me feeling uncomfortably exposed.  I also want to wear my normal undergarments without them showing, but you definitely can’t do this with this shirt.  Seems like I conveniently forgot all this from version one.  Haha!

McCall's 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

So…I have an idea.  I usually hate going back into projects once they are finished, but I’m not quite ready to give up on this yet.  So, my idea is that I will cut out the back of View C, finish it and attach it as an inner layer.  I have a vintage sheet that looks really nice with this linen, and I think it will be perfect.  If I actually do it, I’ll report back.  🙂

McCall's 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

So, how about some details on this project?  There aren’t many, because it was a pretty quick and easy sew.  The fabric was given to me by a friend because I wanted to try sewing linen, and she had some that she wasn’t using.  (Thanks again!)  I made a size large, and since I omitted the pocket, there were only two pattern pieces.  There were no darts or fitting changes.  The only long part was all the hemming, which you do along every edge.  It all went well, though, and was a fun project.

McCall's 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

I think a big part of sewing is learning the difference between what you like to look at in fashion and what you will actually wear (and hence, what is worth your sewing time).  I’ve gotten a lot better at this, but I think this project definitely fell into the category of something I liked the idea of that wasn’t realistic for how I actually like to dress.  So now I have a new challenge.  Can I make this shirt work?  We’ll see!

McCall's 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

Update

This shirt was really bothering me because, as I mentioned, it just felt too exposed.  I decided to try to save it, and I did!

The front pattern piece is the same for all four views, so first I tried layering View C in a vintage sheet under View A.  That didn’t work because the angle made by the joining of the front and back is different from View A to View C.  After this first attempt, I took the original back off completely and put a new back on.  I like it so much better.

McCall's 6751 Adjusted

It still has an interesting crossover in the back, but it’s so much more covered and wearable.  I also love the juxtaposition of the two fabrics, although the sheet fabric is not as drapey as the linen.

McCall's 6751 Adjusted

Finally, I added a pocket in the sheet fabric to the front to pull it all together.

McCall's 6751 Adjusted

I really like this version.  For drape factor, I wish it were all in linen, but since I didn’t have any more in my stash, I really like what I came up with.  The fabrics look beautiful together, and I salvaged the shirt.  It’s all set for next summer now!  Hooray!

Recommendations

    • I was looking at some of my favorite Etsy shops, and was reminded why I had saved Bias Bespoke as a favorite.  It has so many great tailoring and lingerie supplies as well as things like buttons and trims–a lot of things I don’t normally see.  This one is worth checking out if you sew apparel, especially if you are starting to delve into complex projects and need supplies that are more specialized.
    • A friend of mine introduced me to the art of Kintsugi (as explained in “Kintsugi:  The Centuries-Old Art of Repairing Broken Pottery with Gold“). When you look at some of those pieces, you feel like you understand grace, forgiveness, and redemption in a new way.  And let’s not forget hope.
    • This tutorial for making glitter heels looks fun.  I’m sure you could apply the technique to a whole host of footwear if you wanted to.
    • When you get REALLY into artisanal things… (p.s. This is a joke.  It’s so well done, I wasn’t sure at first.)

 

McCall’s 6848 Top (Again!) in Watercolor Rayon

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McCall’s 6848 Top (Again!) in Watercolor Rayon

I feel like the title of my post makes me sound like I’m rolling my eyes because I’m sick of this pattern, when actually the opposite is true.  I love it!  This simple shirt is the meeting of this beloved pattern and the remnants of some beautiful fabric.  This is McCall’s 6848 which I also made in black silk crepe de chine, and it’s actually a pajama pattern!  In a fabric with some drape, however, like this watercolor rayon, left over from my Hannah Dress, this pattern also makes a perfect drapey shirt.

McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

McCall’s 6848 comes together quickly and easily with only three pattern pieces, one of which is the bias neck binding.  It’s a quick sew and a great palette cleanser after a more complicated project like the Hannah Dress or Thurlow Shorts.

McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

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McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

I didn’t do anything different on this iteration of the shirt.  Like last time, I used French seams to finish the insides and double turned hems on the bottom and armholes.  The rayon I used is a little harder to work with than the silk crepe de chine was, but it’s so soft and beautiful that it makes up for it.  It was also nice to compare the two fabric types on the same pattern.  So far, crepe de chine is my preference to work with–both are excellent to wear.

McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

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McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

This was one of my 2017 Summer Sewing projects.  I only have one more of those to blog, and then I’m all caught up with summer.  😉  It all works out, though, because I’m planning to slow down a little for fall and experiment with various areas of sewing that I’ve been interested in.  We’ll see how that all works out.

McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

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McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

I highly recommend this pattern to anyone looking for a quick and easy project that will make a great top for every day (or pajamas) in the right fabric.

McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

Recommendations

    • Mary of Birch Dye Works is really knocking it out of the park with all the cool yarn she has been dying lately.  Her color names are pretty great, too.
    • I was reading the Oliver + S blog and Liesl pointed out all the creative quilting influences she found in the September issue of Vogue.  Check out her post here.
    • I love cheese so much, and I have to recommend brie to you.  I tried some brie with mushrooms at Costco, which combines two foods I absolutely love. (I can’t find it on their website to link to but, trust me, it was GOOD.  I wish I had bought some…)
    • Are you thinking about sewing skinny jeans?  Judith Dee compares three patterns on her vlog.

Sewaholic Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

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Sewaholic Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

Hi, sewing friends, and welcome back to the 2017 Summer Sewing roundup.  I have two more summer sewing projects to share after this one and then it’s time for fall sewing on the blog!  I think next year I might wrap up my summer sewing a little earlier, especially since it feels weird to post summer projects in October.  Maybe it will give those in the southern hemisphere some warm weather inspiration now that it’s spring by you.  🙂

Today’s project is the Thurlow Trousers from Sewaholic Patterns.  I made these shorts in Tinted Denim from Cloud9 Fabrics and I LOVE them.  They are just what I was hoping for.

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

They are also just the pattern I’ve been searching for.  It’s oddly hard to find a trouser pattern with angled front pockets and back welt pockets (as opposed to no back pockets or faux welt pockets which were the options with these pants).  Luckily this pattern has staying power.  Even though it came out several years ago and the leg shape is a little different from what you often see today, it’s not impossible to change that if you want to.

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

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Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

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Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

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Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

I really wanted some chino-type shorts in a cotton twill, and since denim is a type of twill, I decided to use the Cloud9 tinted denim in Maize.  Colored denim is not my favorite in general, but (1) I actually LOVE the look of this denim and (2) I have had a strangely hard time finding cotton twill bottomweight fabric in a color that I like and at a price I can afford.  While this denim isn’t the cheapest, it’s also not a crazy price, and you need less of it for shorts than you do for pants, so it was a good pick.  It also helped that I was able to pick up both pattern and main fabric (and sparkly zipper!) at Pintuck & Purl when I was up there, so: problem solved.  I bought Bemberg rayon from Jo-Ann Fabrics for the pockets and waistband lining.

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

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Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

I prewashed and dried the denim on hot several times to get any excess dye and shrinkage out.  The fabric did bleed and fade a bit, but in a way that I really like.  (I use Color Grabber sheets to check how much my fabric is bleeding when I prewash.)  I’d also love to try the aqua and pink Tinted Denim at the shop, but there’s only so much time and money, you know?  Maybe next summer.

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

I had read that this pattern had a lot of pieces, and that was no joke.  It does, including a different right and left front.  As I was tracing my pattern, I could see how much thought and precision went into it, which made me feel hopeful about my final outcome.  Because I’m not a pear shape (which is what Sewaholic patterns are drafted for), my waist was a larger size than my hip measurement.  I decided to go with the waist size and try to fit as I went.  This worked well for me.  I ended up using a larger seam allowance on the sides than the pattern called for.  Other fitting things that were necessary for me were making the shorts tighter over the behind area and looser at the waist, which you can accomplish at the back seam.

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

One other issue I had was that when fitting the pointed end of the waistband over the fly shield, the fly shield seemed too wide.  I simply folded it in a bit, ironed and stitched it down, but I wonder if maybe I made it extend too far in the first place.

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

I wanted shorts that were a bit more straight legged than this pattern is, so I took an inch off the outside of each leg, tapering to nothing at the pocket, and a half-inch off each inseam, tapering to nothing at the crotch.  This does throw the hem off slightly, but I decided to ignore that this time and deal with it if I make these again.  Rather than cuffing these shorts, I turned under 1 1/2″ at the hem and then folded in the same amount again for a 1 1/2″ double-turned hem.

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

The instructions were really clear, and even the welt pockets weren’t too hard.  Mine did fray a bit at the corners after I washed the shorts, but I will chalk that up to inexperience and trust that I’ll improve in my technique over time.

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

This pattern is obviously very well done, and I really like that it incorporates an alterable center back seam, which is often seen on men’s pants (and really should be seen on women’s as well, if you ask me).  This helps with fitting while sewing, and also allows you to change it up if you gain or lose inches in the future.  I wouldn’t recommend this pattern to a beginner, but if you have some experience under your belt, this is a real winner.

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

I’m so happy to have some longer shorts that are comfortable and durable, have pockets, and feel great to wear.  I hope to make more of these in the future.  I also recognize that because fitting pants is an area I’m nervous about, I need to keep making pants and shorts so I can gain confidence.

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

Recommendations

  • If you, too, are looking for trousers with welt pockets and whatnot, there is another recent pattern release along those lines.  Check out the North Point Trousers (PDF only) from Itch to Stitch.  They have single welt back pockets instead of the Thurlow’s double welt back pockets and a leg shape that is more current.  I’ve never tried an Itch to Stitch pattern, but I’ve heard good things.
  • I just tried this Baah yarn for the first time, and it was so amazing!  I don’t think the website does it justice.  Mine was a fluffy pink skein.  It looks like cotton candy without the stickiness!
  • My sister-in-law sent me the Laura Lea Balanced Cookbook, and I’m having a lot of fun trying out the smoothie section.

The Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns

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The Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns

It’s not often that a dress pattern comes along that is fascinating and mysterious.  That’s not to say that you see a line drawing of a pattern and automatically picture every step just because you know how to sew, but you often know the general process of putting a garment together as well as what the pattern pieces might look like once you have been sewing for awhile.  So when something puzzling comes along, it’s kind of fun.

I’ve been sewing long enough now (and taking in massive amounts of sewing information through the magic of the interwebs) that a lot of patterns look similar to others that I’ve seen.  It takes a lot more for a pattern to surprise me, but that is just what happened when I saw Heather Lewenza’s Hannah dress from Victory Patterns.

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

Link to the pattern here.

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

Heather made her dress from crisp cotton so you could really see the interesting back crossover that wraps around the sides of the dress to end in the pockets.  I had never seen a dress like that.

As I researched it online to see what other sewers thought of the pattern, I read over and over again that the pattern pieces were different from any they had ever seen, and that it was fun and intriguing to sew.  I tried to resist the aura of coolness that this pattern exuded, and for awhile I was successful.  It only came in PDF, which is usually enough to make me pass on a pattern, but in the end, I bought it.  I had to try this for myself.

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

I deliberated over fabric choice for awhile, but finally decided to go with rayon challis for its fluid drape.  Another plus was that I had two coordinating rayons already in my stash–a black one from Field’s Fabrics in Kalamazoo, MI, and a grayscale watercolor rayon from Pintuck & Purl in Exeter, NH.  I had been saving that last one for just the right project, and I had finally found it.

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

Once I was ready to get started, I decided to make a straight size 12, which meant sizing up on the bust.  A number of reviews I read said that the bust ran a bit small, so I sized up, which also meant I didn’t drive myself crazy trying to figure out how to grade between sizes.  This isn’t a pattern you want to try to blend sizes on or adjust beyond lengthening or shortening.  The pattern pieces are just too different.

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

As soon as I began, I questioned my fabric choice.  You do a lot of stay-stitching initially, and mine puckered my fabric.  I immediately switched to a microtex needle and my walking foot, and hoped for the best.  The directions are so precise, which is great, but because of my inexperience working with rayon challis, I found that I was often stressed out, worrying that the dress wouldn’t turn out.  In the end, it did turn out just fine, but it has a lot of puckers that it shouldn’t have.  So, the rayon was good and bad.

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

My overall takeaways are that (pro) I now have more experience working with rayon challis and the black hides most of the puckers, but (con) the dress isn’t as well-made as I would have liked.  I think if I made this again, I would make it in something more stable, which would admittedly make the silhouette more A-line, but would also be more enjoyable to sew.  The other thing that I am beginning to think after sewing four garments from rayon this year (not all blogged) is that with the exception of the Cotton + Steel rayon, it doesn’t feel durable.  It’s comfortable and presses well, but something about it makes me think it won’t last as long as garments I’ve made from other fabrics.  We’ll see if that proves to be true or not.  So far I think I like silk crepe de chine better.

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

But, despite my learning curve with rayon, this dress did get finished and has been worn.  And I love it.  It’s so cool!  I would certainly make it again and would recommend it to intermediate sewers.  I’m so glad I took the plunge and bought the pattern.  I’m also hugely impressed that someone’s brain could come up with this.  I wish I had taken pictures of the unique pattern pieces as I sewed, but I didn’t.  😦

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

So that’s one more down on my 2017 Summer Sewing list.  The autumnal equinox is today, but I managed to get my last summer garment finished on Wednesday.  It might take a little while for everything to show up on the blog, but it’s all done and now I’m setting my sights on sewing some fun things for autumn.  What about you?  Do you have any autumnal projects planned (or spring for those of you in the southern hemisphere)?  I love planning projects.  Other than completing projects, planning them is my favorite part.  🙂

Recommendations

  • If you are local to the Seacoast of NH, there’s going to be a storewide sale at Pintuck & Purl in Exeter, NH on Saturday (the 23rd of Sept.).  It should be a good time!  9 am – 4 pm.
  • Here’s another one for you if you are local to the Seacoast of NH.  If you, like me, use Big 4 patterns (Simplicity, Butterick, McCall’s, Vogue as well as Burda Style, New Look, and Kwik Sew), the Seabrook, NH Joann’s Fabric is the place you should go.  It’s in a sad, empty strip mall, and the store isn’t big, but it’s calm and extremely well-organized.  They are rarely missing a pattern, and every drawer is so nice and neat.
  • For those of us near eastern Massachusetts, north of Boston, Marie’s Sewing Center in Woburn, MA is having a machine sale Sept. 29-Oct. 1.  “Purchase a new sewing machine or serger in stock at MSRP & get a sewing machine or serger of equal or lesser value for ONE CENT!”  This would be a good event to partner with a friend on, so you can both get what you want for less!
  • This video by Candide Thovex is like watching skiing parkour.  As it goes along, it gets less and less believable, but it’s fun to watch!