Category Archives: Sewing

Fibre Mood Norma Blouse in White Linen

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Fibre Mood Norma Blouse in White Linen

Hi, everyone. Happy week before Thanksgiving! Today I have a lovely linen blouse to share with you. This is the Fibre Mood Norma blouse.

Fibre Mood Norma Blouse in White Linen

I got this for free when Fibre Mood gave it away as part of a sewing challenge.

Fibre Mood Norma Blouse in White Linen
Fibre Mood Norma Blouse in White Linen

It took me awhile to get around to making it, but I got there in the end! Actually, this version was inspired by melt.stitches who made Norma in bone colored linen. I think I saw her version on Pinterest or the Fibre Mood site, and fell in love with this top in a pale linen.

Fabric

I had read numerous blog posts by people who had gotten linen from fabrics-store.com and been happy, so when white midweight linen went on sale, I snapped some up. It was very nice when I got it, both before and after washing, and made me think of the midweight linen I had bought from Fabric Mart to make my yellow Roscoe Blouse. Cutting and sewing the fabric was great. I did find one flaw in the fabric that I didn’t notice until after I had cut everything out, but luckily it ended up on a facing, so no one but me (and all of you) will see it.

Fibre Mood Norma Blouse in White Linen
Ack! Fabric flaw!

Pattern

For this pattern, I made a 16 bust, 16 waist, and for the hip, I straddled the line between a 16 and 18 (this is in the US sizing). I made a note to myself to cut wide seam allowances at the hip in case I wanted to let the seams out a bit there for more room, but I think I forgot all about it when I got to cutting and sewing. I did a major broad back adjustment, as I often do on shirts, and that worked out great.

Fibre Mood Norma Blouse in White Linen
Oops! Didn’t think to iron this before taking pictures. At least you know you’re getting a ‘real life’ view of this shirt!

I also lengthened the sleeve cuff since I wanted them loose enough around my lower arms to be comfortable whether the sleeve was hanging down or pulled up over my elbows.

Fibre Mood Norma Blouse in White Linen

When Fibre Mood first started, you had to add seam allowances to all of their patterns. This often (though not always) seems to be the preference in European patterns. I don’t think this originally had seam allowances, but in my copy of the pattern, it does, which was nice–one less step to do!

The order and steps for sewing this were a little bit different than some patterns I have used, and I really enjoyed the change. This pattern often has you finish seam allowances before sewing pieces together. This works out great if you are going to serge or zigzag your edges.

Fibre Mood Norma Blouse in White Linen

If you plan to finish your seams together, you will need to change things around a bit, but that wouldn’t be too tricky.

After hemming, I sewed my facings down. I HATE facings that flap around. I know facings are supposed to give you a beautifully finished edge without stitching around it, however I don’t mind the look of a stitched down facing as much as I mind my facings flapping around and getting wrinkled every time they go through the wash.

Fibre Mood Norma Blouse in White Linen
Fibre Mood Norma, front
Fibre Mood Norma Blouse in White Linen
Fibre Mood Norma, back

I took a bit of time going back and forth over my button choices, and chose some vintage white (shell?) buttons from the collection my mother-in-law gave me.

Fibre Mood Norma Blouse in White Linen

I’m really happy with how they look. I had thought about green glass or pink plastic buttons, also from that collection, since I love distinctive details, but because I don’t have a lot of white shirts in my wardrobe, I wanted this one to be versatile and neutral.

There’s a nice tip at the end of the pattern to add some tulle into the shoulder area if you want to keep your sleeve heads extra puffy. I didn’t do that this time, but it’s a great idea.

Changes for next time and overall thoughts

If I were to make this again, I would do a few things. It’s clear to me that I need to do a forward shoulder adjustment as the top ends up shifting back as I wear it.

Fibre Mood Norma Blouse in White Linen

This doesn’t affect how it feels. It really just affects how it hangs on my body, giving it the look of a shirt with a high-low hem. It works out well for this shirt because the neckline is a little low for me (another thing I would change if I made this again), but because the shirt tends to shift to the back, it effectively raises the neckline to a point I’m comfortable with. Other than that, maybe I would lengthen it an inch or two, but I’m not really sure. That would be a good round three potential change, if I got that far with this pattern.

Otherwise, though, I love this shirt. I have been reaching for it a lot. While I don’t think I need a million of these shirts in my closet, I like this enough that I wouldn’t mind one or two more, and I would definitely consider using a midweight linen again–it’s so nice. It’s turned out to be a great (and pretty!) wardrobe workhorse as we have transitioned into the cooler weather.

Fibre Mood Norma Blouse in White Linen
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Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate: McCall’s 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine

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Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall’s 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine

Hey, everyone! Sorry I missed you last week. It was finally COVID time in our house after managing to avoid it for so long. Luckily, not everyone got it and it wasn’t too bad. I’m happy to be back to blogging this week, though.

McCall’s 6848 was my last summer project, finished in September. I really didn’t think it would still be weather-appropriate in November, but we have had some warm days here!

Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine

It’s been great to wear the shirt a bit and get a feel for what I do and don’t like about it. First, details!

This is McCall’s 6848, View C, which is technically a pajama top, but it’s just a good boxy top in general, so I like it for daily wear.

Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine

It’s from 2013, so it’s out of print now, but is probably findable on Etsy or eBay.

Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine

I have made this pattern several times before, making it a real TNT for me (a tried-‘n’-true pattern). I still have several of my previous versions of this around, and although I have changed sizes, they still fit since this pattern has a fair amount of positive ease. For this version, I made an XL bust, XL waist, and XL/XXL hip. I used a “neon highlighter pink” silk crepe de Chine (CDC) fabric from Fabric Mart that was one of their NY Designer fabrics. I don’t actually know which NY Designer this is from, but I picked it for the substrate and the color rather than the designer status. I really like silk CDC. It’s such a nice, drapey, wearable fabric. I don’t find it hard to sew, and I throw mine in the washer and dryer rather than dry cleaning. This was a great deal, too, at just over $10/yard.

Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine

This pattern is pretty quick and easy to sew. I used French seams on the shoulder and side seams, which looks so nice.

Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine
Ah! The beauty of French seams!

I did notice, at this size, that the shoulders seemed to be different lengths for front and back. It’s possible that I traced something wrong, or maybe it was the pattern. I didn’t feel like going back and checking the original pattern, so I just made sure the shoulders lined up at the neck. I figured I could trim the armhole if necessary.

The neck binding is a really nice touch on this pattern.

Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine
This little seam in the back on the neck binding is also how I can tell which side of the shirt is the back.

I suggest trimming down the seam allowances a bit before applying it to make things easier on yourself.

For the finish at the armhole, I skipped the basting and did a one inch double turned hem, sort of diagonally folding under the areas at the bottom of the armhole.

Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine
armhole detail showing the bottom of the armhole

One additional thing I added that was not in the pattern, was some little lingerie straps on the shoulder seams near the neckline.

Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine

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Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine

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Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine

This top would really make a great pajama top, but since I wanted to wear mine as an every day top, I didn’t want it to keep slipping from one side to the other and showing my bra straps. I found some lace seam binding in my stash that coordinated remarkably well. After estimating the length by comparing it to my bra strap and adding in some extra, I sewed one end to my seam allowance and then sewed snaps to the other end at the part of the seam allowance closest to the neck. When I tried using these by snapping them around my bra straps, I initially thought things looked pretty wonky, but once I moved everything into the correct spot, it was perfect! The shirt no longer slid around on my shoulders. It stayed perfectly in place.

Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine

As for the shirt as a whole, I don’t really love it untucked, but I do like it tucked in or tucked in the front.

Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine

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Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine

It’s a wonderfully breezy, comfortable shirt. I’m really glad I made it. It can join the two others in my closet. 🙂

Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine
McCall’s 6848, View C, front

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Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine
McCall’s 6848, View C, back

To check out my other versions of this pattern, click the links below:

View C top in blue cotton sheeting

View C top in black silk CDC

View C top in black and white rayon challis

View A tank in activewear knit (x2)

View A tank in white knit

View D shorts in ankara/wax print

View D shorts in quilting cotton

View D shorts in lightweight denim

Wow! This just might be my most used pattern! There may even be more among my old blog posts that I missed!

Thread Theory Woodley Tee in Cotton Jersey (with Leopards!)

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Thread Theory Woodley Tee in Cotton Jersey (with Leopards!)

So…I may have made this t-shirt last spring, and am just now blogging it.

Thread Theory Woodley Tee in Cotton Jersey (with Leopards!)
front view

And maybe it’s been hanging up on a hanger near my sewing machine waiting patiently to be blogged after only having been worn a handful of times. Yikes.

Thread Theory Woodley Tee in Cotton Jersey (with Leopards!)
back view

Now that it’s getting cooler again, I want to wear this shirt! I love those leopards! Not leopard print, but actual leopards, which I like much better.

This is the Thread Theory Woodley Tee in the women’s sizing, sewn up in 100% cotton jersey from Joann’s POP kids fabric line plus some ribbing, which I think is 100% cotton, although it may contain some spandex. I really like this new line, and find a lot of fabrics and prints I like for me, as well as prints I would use if I were making clothes for kids. Unfortunately, I don’t see these two fabrics on their site, so they may be sold out. In the past, I have felt pretty unimpressed with the fabric selection at Joann’s, but in recent years, they have started to sell more options that I really like.

Thread Theory Woodley Tee in Cotton Jersey (with Leopards!)

The Woodley Tee is a relaxed-fit t-shirt that’s meant to be a great basic.

Thread Theory Woodley Tee in Cotton Jersey (with Leopards!)

I was really excited to try this since my preferred t-shirt fit of late is more relaxed. I also like that you can use low-stretch knit fabric with this pattern. I made version 1, the solid color/long sleeve option.

Thread Theory Woodley Tee in Cotton Jersey (with Leopards!)

When I looked at the finished measurements, I decided to size up one size. After sewing the shirt, I think I would always do that on the arms, as I wouldn’t want them to fit any closer. They’re just right one size up. I could go either way on the body. Probably I would size up one again, as I did here, but if I didn’t, I think it would also be fine.

Thread Theory Woodley Tee in Cotton Jersey (with Leopards!)

As for construction, it was pretty straightforward with one addition you don’t always see in t-shirt patterns. This pattern has a shoulder binding on the inside that works to stabilize the shoulders (so you don’t have to sew in elastic or twill tape) and gives a really professional finish.

Thread Theory Woodley Tee in Cotton Jersey (with Leopards!)

I won’t say I managed to sew it in perfectly. I found it a little tricky, but I got it well enough in the end. To be fair, I doubted the instructions since they didn’t tell you to stabilize the shoulders at the beginning, so I went ahead and did it myself with twill tape. Then I got down to the shoulder binding and realized I should have just trusted the pattern (or read all the way through before starting). Since the shoulders were already stabilized, I didn’t bother to cut my fabric on grain. I just cut it on the cross grain to save fabric and since my fabric was directional. Next time, hopefully, I’ll just do what the pattern says.

Thread Theory Woodley Tee in Cotton Jersey (with Leopards!)

Other than that little hiccup, everything went great! I skipped the pocket, used the serger on the main seams, and zigzagged the hem. Initially I wasn’t sure how I liked the shirt, but now I’m into it.

Thread Theory Woodley Tee in Cotton Jersey (with Leopards!)

I like the fit and the fun design on the fabric. I think I would make this again. The color blocked option is one that would be fun to try, too. It’s a great way to use up some scraps. So, if you’re looking for a relaxed-fit tee, I can highly recommend this pattern which comes, not only in women’s sizing, but also in men’s. Thread Theory always has excellent, high-quality patterns, and this one is no exception.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim…and Exciting Topsfield Fair News!

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Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim…and Exciting Topsfield Fair News!

Let’s start with the pants! These pants, made using Simplicity 8841, are a repeat pattern for me–not something I always do. Each sewist/craftsman/artist has a way they like to dive into projects, and for me, it usually involves trying something new, often a new pattern, so I rarely circle back to previous patterns unless I really liked them and want more versions in my closet or they are just right for the fabric I want to use. I really liked the style of these pants, and I wear my first version a lot. However, I kind of overfit that version, and I thought I could do better…plus I really did want more of these in my closet!

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim
My husband took these pictures for me when it was still summer, but these pants will work in multiple seasons.

The other thing that drove this repeat performance was some great denim I found at Joann’s. It was 100% cotton, and pink from being vegetable-dyed. The vegetable dye made me curious about how the color would hold…and I really like this shade of pink. Simplicity 8841 seemed like a good match for the denim. I got what I needed when it was on sale. Yay!

According to my measurements, I was a size 24 in this pattern. It only went up to a 22, so I did some very inexpert, cheater-style grading. I looked at the distance between the last few pattern sizes, and sized up the largest size by that amount, by just tracing around it, and trying to make things look like they would have if there had been one more size. I wanted to make View D, but with the longer length of View C. This was pretty easy to do.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

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Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

Using the book, Sewing Pants that Fit from The Singer Sewing Reference Library, I added 1.5″ to the back crotch length by making a wedge adjustment for a protruding seat. This entailed cutting into my back pattern piece from the crotch seam to the hip, without cutting all the way through. I then tipped the top of the pattern up 1.5″ making the back crotch seam of the pattern longer. After doing that, you have to smooth out the hip/outseam because making that wedge creates a little divot at the side seam.

Then I lengthened the back crotch point by 1.5″ and lowered it 0.25″ to true the pattern. This can help with full thighs or a protruding seat. I have found that it works for me, whatever the reason may be. I tend to need more length in the back with Big 4 patterns. Somehow it always feels a little bit like trial and error, but I usually end up making the maximum crotch seam length adjustments on the back pattern piece and find those really comfortable.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim
This may not be the most helpful picture, but here is the top of the back pattern piece. The crotch seam I have mentions is that curved left edge, and the hip/outseam is the right edge. You can kind of see the wedge shape running horizontally through the pattern piece.

These pants are pretty straightforward to put together with good directions.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim
Simplicity 8841, front

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Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim
Simplicity 8841, back

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Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim
Simplicity 8841, patch pocket detail; I have traced this patch pocket onto tag board and use it whenever I want to add patch pockets with this shape to clothes.

I changed up how I inserted the elastic into the waistband a little bit, but otherwise followed the directions as written. Since these pants have no fly, and only front patch pockets, I pushed myself to finish them before meeting up with a friend who was visiting. It’s always really fun to have something new to wear for something like that, and it’s good for me to occasionally give myself artificial deadlines to speed a project on.

Once I started wearing the pants, I had a few thoughts about them. They are definitely a style I like, and they’re very comfortable. The dye in the fabric seems to be holding well, too.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

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Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

I’m not sure I love how they look, even though I love how they feel. They look a little too big to me. I’m all about preserving design ease and not making the smallest size you can squeeze your body into, but maybe I could have made these a little smaller, especially since the size 22 pants that I made do still fit. The other iffy part is that the waistband doesn’t feel as strong as I want it to. The pants stay up just fine, but it feels like if I load up my pockets, things could get saggy. Yikes.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

I have toyed with the idea of taking off the waistband and cutting a new one that would allow for 2″ wide elastic, like the Elizabeth Suzann Clyde Pants pattern, but I cannot tell you how much I really don’t like going back into patterns once I have finished them. I know they would be more wearable if I altered them, but the joy of alterations is not the reason I sew. The fact that they do fit and are comfortable will probably be enough for me to wear them and not bother to alter them. The good news is that the paper pattern adjustments I made were good. I don’t feel like the back of the pants are too short or tight (i.e. no wedgies or “plumber’s butt”–yay!). They feel just right.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

The real kicker, though, is that while writing this, I looked back at the blog post I wrote for the first pair of pants I made, and those had the same problems! Yes, if I had carefully read my own post before starting on these, I wouldn’t have graded up, and I probably would have tapered the legs of the pants. I still would have made the flat pattern adjustments I made this time–I did remember the need for those–but I could have made an even better pair of pants if I had listened to my past self and reminded myself of all the changes that would have been helpful. Oops.

So, I guess this project is a little bit of a mixed bag, but overall good. I do recommend the pattern if you are looking for a simple pair of elastic-waist pants. These could definitely work, construction-wise, for a beginner, and they are loose enough that you wouldn’t have to think about fitting to the level you would with a pair of skinny jeans or something like that. I would potentially make these again, with some slight tweaks (after actually reading this post and my last one; haha).

News from the Fair!

And now for something unrelated, but awesome! If you read this blog regularly, you may remember that I submitted some garments to the Topsfield (Massachusetts) Fair for the first time. Well, the cardigan I knitted got a first place ribbon, and the reversible vest I sewed got both a first place ribbon and Best in Show! I was so excited!!! I knew that I had worked up to my skill level at the time and pushed myself beyond on those projects, but it’s really, really nice to occasionally have some outside validation for your work, from people who also make things.

Topsfield Fair 2022
My Arrowhead Cardigan at the Topsfield Fair

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Topsfield Fair 2022
Me at the knitting exhibit. You can sort of see my cardigan by my left hand. There were so many great projects!

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Topsfield Fair 2022
My vest and both its ribbons at the Topsfield Fair!!!

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Topsfield Fair 2022
This exhibit had multiple types of crafts. You can see my vest by my right hand.

Making clothes is my art practice. My work will probably never be in a gallery, and I don’t want to turn it into a business, so I don’t get that kind of positive professional critique on a normal basis, so it means a lot. That being said, I do very much appreciate all the cheerleading and support I get from my family and friends. That is what has really kept me going all these years.

My parents and kids were with me when I went to see all the entries, and they can tell you that I had a pretty big smile on my face. What a great experience!!!

A Little Round Up: Twig + Tale Aspen and Oak Leaf Blankets and a Quick Upcycle

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A Little Round Up:  Twig + Tale Aspen and Oak Leaf Blankets and a Quick Upcycle

Hi, everyone! It’s fall! Yay! While I still have a few summer projects to show you, time really got away from me this week, and I didn’t get a chance to take pictures of them. What I do have pictures of, though, are a few projects perfect for the start of fall: two more Twig + Tale leaf blankets and a quick upcycle. All of these projects are almost a year old (yikes!), but just haven’t made it to the blog yet.

I have blogged about Twig + Tale leaf blankets before (maple leaf; monstera leaves; fan, banana, and elephant ear leaf blankets). They are really fun to make and come in a ton of shapes as well as multiple sizes. I love how each finished blanket looks so much like an actual leaf. I know I shouldn’t really be surprised–it says what they are right in the name, but I’m always delighted when I finish one.

Last October, I whipped up a Quaking Aspen Leaf Blanket from the North American collection for a friend that was visiting. I used a golden corduroy left over from some pants I made since aspen leaves turn yellow, and for the other side, I used the last scraps of this bit of green blanket someone gave me years ago.

A Little Round-Up:  Twig + Tale Aspen and Oak Leaf Blankets and a Tiny Upcycle

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A Little Round-Up:  Twig + Tale Aspen and Oak Leaf Blankets and a Tiny Upcycle

I also used it on my own Monstera Leaf blanket (which I still love and use all the time). This blanket came together really fast, as these blankets all do, and was a fun present to give my friend.

The other leaf blanket I made was the English Oak from the European Collection. I wanted a blanket to use on our couch, and I let my husband pick which leaf shape he liked best since he loves trees. I used a cream twill originally from Fabric Mart that I have used in many projects, and I backed it with a mystery home dec fabric that feels like cotton.

A Little Round-Up:  Twig + Tale Aspen and Oak Leaf Blankets and a Tiny Upcycle

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A Little Round-Up:  Twig + Tale Aspen and Oak Leaf Blankets and a Tiny Upcycle
My mystery fabric has a herringbone texture to it which I’ve always liked.

I have probably had this fabric since before I began sewing regularly. I really had to piece it together to make it work!

While I like the shape of the oak leaf blanket, I don’t love the finished object as much as the others that I have made. I think it’s something with my fabric choice. It’s good functionally, but it’s just not my favorite one. Still, it works well, and I’m glad I made it.

One other project I did last October was a quick little upcycle. Sometimes it’s the details that make a garment, and that was the case here. I thrifted a nice flannel shirt for my husband, but it wasn’t quite his style, so I kept it for myself. I liked it, but it kind of needed something. I realized that if I just changed out the buttons for some really fun ones, it would give the shirt a distinctive detail without much work required and would make it more interesting and fun to wear.

A Little Round-Up:  Twig + Tale Aspen and Oak Leaf Blankets and a Tiny Upcycle

Of course, this completely dovetailed with my desire to try out some of the super fun buttons by Tabitha Sewer that Pintuck & Purl had in stock. Yes! I chose some that are neon pink with neon orange edges…or maybe neon orange with pink edges? These buttons aren’t cheap, so ironically, my “small details” cost more than the shirt, but oh, well. Tabitha Sewer has so many fun buttons, but so far I have held off buying more until I have a specific project for them. Adding some to this shirt turned it from something a little too normal into something really fun! That also means I wear it a lot more. I am so motivated by good colors in my creative work. I just love the fun they bring.

A Little Round-Up:  Twig + Tale Aspen and Oak Leaf Blankets and a Tiny Upcycle

All these projects are great for fall! Have you tried making a leaf blanket? Do you have favorite details you add to bring a garment from just ok to extra special? Let me know!

Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top in Robert Kaufman’s Limerick Linen

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Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top in Robert Kaufman’s Limerick Linen

I didn’t manage to get a lot of sewing done this summer, but I did make a few things! One was the Peplum Top from Peppermint Magazine/In the Folds.

Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top in Robert Kaufman's Limerick Linen

I’ve made this one before, back in 2018 when I made two versions. It’s such a fun shirt and a nice pattern that I wanted to revisit it and see if I could squeeze it out of some Robert Kaufman Limerick Linen scraps I had saved from the time I made my friend a jacket using Simplicity 8172. Oh, this linen! It’s so beautiful and so floaty. I love it.

Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top in Robert Kaufman's Limerick Linen

Before starting, I looked back at my old post to see what changes I had made to the pattern. I used those again: a minor forward shoulder adjustment, and lengthening the top by two inches, although this time I added one of the inches to the bodice and one inch to the peplum. I made size G, and found a surprising error on the pattern. Even though the key to the sizes shows different line styles for sizes G and F, on the printed and assembled PDF, they both look the same. I just had to count up or down to my size to make sure I was on track. It’s very possible this problem has been fixed since I downloaded it, but keep an eye out just in case if your are sewing either of those two sizes.

This fabric is a little shifty to cut, so you need to be careful and go a little bit slowly. This can be an issue while sewing, too, so make sure you stay stitch the front and back neckline before getting started. It’s not a hard fabric to sew–just be aware that it can shift. Handle it carefully, and you’ll be fine.

Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top in Robert Kaufman's Limerick Linen

I tested out various trim options, but in the end, I decided to keep the outside of the top plain to let the linen shine through, although I did use some fun Rifle Paper Co. rayon bias binding I made instead of the facings. After doing the forward shoulder adjustment, I didn’t really want to alter the facings when I had this pretty option I could use instead. I used my serger to finish my other seams, so the inside looks nice and neat.

Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top in Robert Kaufman's Limerick Linen
Peplum Top front–you can see peeks of the bias binding; the quilt in the background was made by my Mom!

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Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top in Robert Kaufman's Limerick Linen
Peplum Top, back

When I finish a garment, unless I really hate it, I usually feel like it’s THE BEST THING EVER and MY NEW FAVORITE and so on and so forth. I loved this when I first made it–and I still do, but wearing it a few times has helped me to see not only its best qualities, but also some that I like less. The pros are that this is a great pattern in beautiful fabric, and it feels like an absolute dream to wear in the summer. It’s cool and breezy and SO GOOD. Another thing that I love is that because it is dartless, it’s also reversible. I love it both ways. Each one is a little different. The parts I like a little less are that at this size, the armholes are a little low, and show my bra. The beautiful volume that allows this to feel so light and breezy also can have a bit of a pregnancy look, especially from the side. That would be different in a drapier fabric like a silk crepe de chine or a rayon challis, but in a fabric with any amount of body, you need to be prepared for volume. In general, I like the volume, but not always.

Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top in Robert Kaufman's Limerick Linen

All that being said, I really do love this top. I think it will look great as the season turns, on those days when it’s cool enough for jeans and a jacket, but still warm enough for a sleeveless or short-sleeved shirt. I had to do a lot of piecing on the peplum to get it out of the small amount of fabric I had, but I made it with only two scraps left over. Man, I love linen!

Last, but not least, guess what? Today is the nine year anniversary of this blog! Wow! It’s great to be able to look back and see how much I have grown as a sewist and craftsman, how much my focus has both narrowed to sewing, and then expanded to making garments in general with the reintroduction of knitting to my crafting skillset. Will shoes be next? Will I ever make a straw hat? Who knows?! Thanks for reading along, though. I really appreciate it. 🙂

Megan Nielsen Protea Capsule Wardrobe Pattern: My Top and Dress Tester Photos

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Megan Nielsen Protea Capsule Wardrobe Pattern:  My Top and Dress Tester Photos

Hello, friends! And welcome back to the blog. After taking the summer off, I’m ready to get back to writing about sewing, knitting, photography, and other fun creative endeavors. I hope you had a good last few months as well.

My “To Blog” list is pretty long, but I’m actually going to start with a more recent project. I was a tester for Megan Nielsen’s latest pattern, the Protea Capsule Wardrobe. I went through two rounds of testing as the pattern grew from a few views to the many views you see now. In order to be a tester, I signed up to her list and sent in my measurements. They cycle through their list and contact people with a good range of measurements, and then e-mail you when they have a pattern for testing to see if you are interested. You get to see the line drawings and description of the pattern as well as the deadline and what they need from you, and then you can say yes or no. This is a volunteer position, so it’s your responsibility to get your materials together for the project. You don’t have to blog the results or put it out on social media, but since I will really and truly forget the details of my projects if I don’t blog them, I wanted to share my tester versions, and hopefully give you a look at the pattern in its developmental stages.

As the pattern was released, the company offered testers the option of a free Protea Capsule Wardrobe pattern in print or PDF. I chose print, but still had to pay shipping, and I’m currently waiting for it to arrive. I don’t often test patterns since I have so many of my own projects that I want to make, and Megan Nielsen is the only company I have tested for (unless I’m forgetting…but I think that’s right). The process was a little different years ago, but I have always been impressed with the freedom and flexibility this company gives you in testing. So! Let’s get to the actual garments. Just remember…these are versions that came out before the new and shiny final pattern, so some things have changed a bit.

Test #1: Protea Blouse

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

Here is the first line drawing we were sent back in January. I chose to make the square-neck blouse out of a striped cotton seersucker I bought at Field’s Fabrics in Holland, MI in summer 2021.

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos
front

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Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos
back

I love the general style of this blouse and have worn it all summer long. I love that it is loose and boxy and I didn’t have to make a broad back adjustment.

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

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Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

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Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

It is a little cropped and lifts up when I raise my arms, so if I made it again, I would consider lengthening it just a little and trying out adding a gusset to the underarm with directions I found in Bernadette Banner’s new book: Make, Sew and Mend: Traditional Techniques to Sustainably Maintain and Refashion Your Clothes. I made an 18 at the bust and a 20 at the waist and hip. I think I used the width of the 20 for the sleeve, too.

Test #2: Protea Capsule Wardrobe Tiered Dress

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

When the option to test the next version of the pattern came along in May, I wasn’t quite sure that I would have the time, but I really liked the look of the tiered dress with a square neck and flutter sleeves. I found some fabric in my stash and decided that I could make it if I applied myself!

I chose to make this dress in a cotton double gauze from Joann, also from the summer of 2021. I didn’t have quite enough fabric. What I did have was a little narrower than the recommended 60″ and I only had four yards instead of the 4 3/8 I should have had, but I decided to do my best to make it work. In the end, I mostly made it. I went back and bought a few fat quarters of quilting cotton in the same pastel purple to cut my pockets out of. That fabric requirement was pretty much spot on.

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

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Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

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Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

I made the dress with a size 18 bust and 20 waist and hip without the drawstring. I didn’t veer too far from the directions except that I hemmed my sleeves with bias tape instead of turning the hem in twice, and gathered my skirt tiers using a zigzag over a string instead of sewing two parallel lines of stitching (a technique I picked up from another Megan Nielsen pattern). I haven’t seen the final version yet to know what choices they made for those parts of the pattern instructions.

I felt a little bit different about this dress when I finished it than I did the top. I love positive ease, and this dress has LOTS of it. It was a bit much even for me.

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

Unless you are looking for a completely unrestrictive dress, I like it a lot better with something pulling the waist in just a little. I tried pinning the drawstring casing on, but I wasn’t a fan.

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos
waist casing pinned on…nope

The drawstring casing for the dress in this version of the pattern used the same pattern piece as the waistband for the skirt. It’s a clever idea that reduces the number of pattern pieces, but I don’t actually like it on the dress. It’s really wide and I didn’t like how it looked. I also didn’t like the dress without something to pull in the waist a little, so I put the finished dress to the side for a bit to think it over. In the end, what I did was to make two ties out of some single fold bias tape I had that matched my fabric.

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

I sewed them on to the outside, but if I were planning on adding ties from the start, I would have sewn them into the side seams at the waist.

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

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Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

This allows you to gather the waist in as much or as little as you like. There is a bit of fabric that gathers under the ties, but it really isn’t bulky. I tie mine just tight enough to get a little waist definition, but still loose enough not to feel restricted.

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

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Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

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Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

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Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

For me this takes the dress from something I didn’t like at all to something I love. It’s amazing what a little tweak can do.

Overall Thoughts

Seeing the final pattern, I like it a lot. You don’t often see an indie brand bring out a capsule wardrobe-type pattern. The Big 4 do it (I’ve seen a lot from Butterick), but not always indie brands. Since indie patterns can be so expensive, this is a good value for your money, and it’s simple enough to sew and has such clear instructions that even a beginner could tackle it. You get some good mix and match options with the sleeves and necklines so that you could easily sew a lot of different-looking garments from this one pattern. I like it stylistically, as well, except for the dress drawstring. Personally, I’m really into the square neck, flutter sleeves, and tiered skirts. I don’t often return to patterns I have already made since I love trying new ones, but before summer started to wane, I was contemplating more of the square-necked tops, so I could see revisiting this one and trying out any of the views. I like them all.

Currently making…

Since I finished pattern testing, I have made a few other garments, and I entered both a sewing and a knitting project in the Topsfield Fair in Topsfield, MA for the first time ever, so we’ll see how that goes! I submitted my Patagonia inspired vest and my Arrowhead Cardigan which were both a lot of work and took a lot of brainpower!

On my sewing table, I have a Fibre Mood Norma Blouse cut out of some beautiful linen and I have plans to cut out two cropped Closet Core Kalle Shirts in different colorways of a fun tiger print lawn.

I’m knitting a Weekender Light sweater from Drea Renee Knits in the best Shetland wool from Jamieson & Smith and I’m also knitting a Drea Renee Knits Moonwake Cowl in some soft washable yarn.

Also…I found some sandals with wooden bases at the thrift store that I have started stripping down to try making into sandals I like, but it’s slow going with the other projects, and…you know…actually taking care of my family, ha ha.

I’m pretty inspired and excited about making all the things at the moment. I didn’t sew a ton over the summer, so it feels good to get back to it. And I have a million projects to bring to the blog (some from last winter/spring–yikes!), so I look forward to meeting you back here soon. Happy weekend!

The Project That Took the Longest: Simplicity 8545 Camisoles in Silk and Cotton

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The Project That  Took the Longest:  Simplicity 8545 Camisoles in Silk and Cotton

Oh, boy, do I have a backlog of projects to blog! I need to take about a million pictures, so I’m starting with a few of the projects that I don’t have to model. Then when I can rope a family member into taking pictures for me, I’ll try to catch up on the rest.

This particular project is one of the simpler ones I have made, but actually took me forever to finish! Sometime between 2020 and 2021, I cut three camisoles out of some of my larger scraps. I used Simplicity 8545, View B.

The Project That  Took the Longest:  Simplicity 8545 Camisoles in Silk and Cotton
The Project That  Took the Longest:  Simplicity 8545 Camisoles in Silk and Cotton

I used View A previously to make some brightly colored slips in cotton lawn (you can see them here). I thought a few camisoles to go under transparent or low-cut tops would be a good idea and a useful way to use up some of my offcuts, so a year or two ago (I think) I made a cream colored camisole from a silk lining fabric that a friend had given me.

The Project That  Took the Longest:  Simplicity 8545 Camisoles in Silk and Cotton
Camisole Front
The Project That  Took the Longest:  Simplicity 8545 Camisoles in Silk and Cotton
Camisole back

Around that time (maybe?), I also cut out two more camisoles from some old Cotton + Steel cotton lawn, so I could have some colorful options. Those two lawn camisoles sat on my “to sew” rack for…a year? Two years?

They became my only UFO’s (unfinished objects). I don’t like UFO’s in sewing, but I didn’t want these badly enough to carry me through to finishing them, so they just sat there. This year I decided enough was enough and tacked them on to one of my big sewing batches. I wasn’t even sure if they would fit when they were finished, but I figured if they didn’t fit me, they would fit someone else. If I never made them, though, the fabric probably wouldn’t get used at all.

For these, I changed the pattern up a little to make them easier to make and nicer to wear. I found with the slips that I really didn’t need the zipper to get them on and off, so I eliminated that and just sewed the back up. I also eliminated the facings, which constantly flip out on my slips and drive me nuts. Eventually I hope to sew them down, but I really hate going back into old projects, so I haven’t gotten to that yet.

The Project That  Took the Longest:  Simplicity 8545 Camisoles in Silk and Cotton
Camisole front
The Project That  Took the Longest:  Simplicity 8545 Camisoles in Silk and Cotton
Camisole back
The Project That  Took the Longest:  Simplicity 8545 Camisoles in Silk and Cotton
Camisole front; using up different colors of bias tape from my stash to make this nice and colorful
The Project That  Took the Longest:  Simplicity 8545 Camisoles in Silk and Cotton
Camisole back

Once I finally decided to sew up the lawn camisoles, the goal was to get them done as quickly as possible, while still sewing quality(ish) garments. I picked one thread color for both (pink), serged my seam allowances, and used whatever bias binding I had on hand to save time and use up materials. (You have no idea how much random bias binding I have!) I had made bias binding for the silk camisole and used beautiful French seams and a tiny rolled hem on that one, but these two just needed to get DONE! For a little extra insurance, I also sewed a 3/8″ seam in the back and on the sides instead of the 5/8″ seam allowance the pattern called for.

The Project That  Took the Longest:  Simplicity 8545 Camisoles in Silk and Cotton
French seams and an imperfect tiny rolled hem…but you have to practice to get better!
The Project That  Took the Longest:  Simplicity 8545 Camisoles in Silk and Cotton
Fast rather than fancy

I’ll spare you the details of exactly how I sewed the bias on, but my goal was to sew it so that I could try the camisoles on before finalizing the length of the shoulder straps. That meant making the final attachments in the front. Those joins got a little ugly, but it didn’t matter–these are meant to go under other clothes and I wanted them done.

The Project That  Took the Longest:  Simplicity 8545 Camisoles in Silk and Cotton
The Project That  Took the Longest:  Simplicity 8545 Camisoles in Silk and Cotton
Not my best sewing, but this was a case of ‘done is better than perfect’

Happily, they do fit ok, and I love how bright and fun the two lawn ones are and how practical the cream one is. Have I worn them? Maybe the cream one a few times, but not the lawn ones yet. I hope I end up wearing them, but even if I don’t, someone else could. I’m definitely happy with the modifications I made. And I’m happy that I didn’t give up on these and throw them in the scrap bin. This is a good, basic yet versatile pattern with some fun options, and even though I haven’t made the dresses or shirts, I’m glad I tried the slip and camisole views.

Humpback Whale Stuffed Animal by Crafty Kooka

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Humpback Whale Stuffed Animal by Crafty Kooka

Today I have something fun to share with you! It’s not my normal type of sewing, but it ended up being pretty cute. It’s a humpback whale stuffed animal!

I got the Crafty Kooka Humpback Whale pattern as a birthday gift from one of my kids. I had seen it online and I really wanted to try it. I was so curious about how it came together, and I love whales as a decorative element (real whales are pretty cool, too).

Humpback Whale Stuffed Animal by Crafty Kooka

I tacked this project onto the end of my winter sewing batch, so that I would be sure to get it done, even if it did take me until spring. I found some fabric (blue wool/cashmere, I think, and cream cotton twill), batting, and stuffing in my stash, and then bought some safety eyes at Joann’s. I couldn’t find the exact size, but I got something close. Then I dove in, and out came this fabulous whale, that REALLY looks like a humpback whale. I was so impressed. This is a quality pattern from someone who really knows their stuff.

Humpback Whale Stuffed Animal by Crafty Kooka
Humpback Whale Stuffed Animal by Crafty Kooka

Unfortunately…I hated the process of sewing this whale. It was probably a combination of wanting to move on to spring sewing and the need for precise sewing on some very curvy and pointy shapes. If you are someone who loves a sewing challenge, precision sewing, or trying out really interesting pattern shapes, you will probably love this. If you want a quick and easy sew, are a beginner, or don’t love super careful sewing, you will not like this project. I found it harder than sewing an underwire bra (which actually isn’t super hard, but does require focus and care). On the upside, this is a great pattern with terrific instructions, and it produced an excellent outcome. I recommend this if you are really into sewing stuffed animals and you have or want to develop the aforementioned precision sewing skills.

Humpback Whale Stuffed Animal by Crafty Kooka

Despite not loving the process of sewing this whale, I do love the finished product, and so does everyone in my family. My husband predicts I’ll sew another someday. I won’t say never, but it will have to be awhile. We discussed names for a long time, with one Jane Austen-loving family member pushing hard for “Fitzwhalliam Darcy” after Fitzwilliam Darcy in Pride & Prejudice, but in the end, I pulled rank as the creator and went for something Hawaiian, since there are humpback whales in the Pacific. It was between Duke Kahanamoku, famous waterman, Olympic swimmer, surfer, etc., etc. and King Kamehameha, the first king to unite the Hawaiian Islands. I went with King Kamehameha as the name for the whale, but after doing further research, I switched back to Duke Kahanamoku. They both seem amazing, but I liked Duke’s selflessness and standout character.

Humpback Whale Stuffed Animal by Crafty Kooka

Now we have a great whale that lives on our couch, and gets lots of snuggles from the family. And with that, I closed the book on winter sewing and checked off one of my craft goals for 2022.

Humpback Whale Stuffed Animal by Crafty Kooka

What about you? Would you sew a complex stuffed animal? Any tips for me if I try another in the future?

Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman Shetland Flannel Speckle

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Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman Shetland Flannel Speckle

Today I’m bringing you a pretty popular pattern (and some alliteration, all for free!). Simplicity 9388, a unisex shirt jacket in three lengths, has been well-received in the sewing community since its release.

Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle

I like making button up shirts and jackets that aren’t too tricky, so this was on my radar. When I got some Shetland Flannel Speckle in the “Steel” color by Robert Kaufman, it seemed like an ideal match.

Fabric & Notions

This flannel is 95% cotton and 5% polyester. It’s 44″ wide and 6.4 oz/square yard. It’s listed on Robert Kaufman’s site as being 2-ply and therefore “stronger and loftier”. It really is a nice flannel, as all the flannels I have ever used from Robert Kaufman have been. It fluffs up a bit in the wash and, my favorite part, contains little flecks of colors–green, blue, pink, orange, and white.

Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
Look at those bits of color! Yay!

Mine was a Christmas gift from my husband and came from Amazon. He bought me four yards, and after making this shirt jacket, I have 16″ full width left, plus some odd-shaped extra bits.

You only need a tiny bit of lining for the inside of the yoke, so I looked in my stash and chose a bit of gray cotton lawn by Cotton + Steel. I can’t remember for sure, but I probably bought it at Pintuck & Purl several years ago.

Other than that, I found thread, interfacing, and buttons at Joann’s. I really thought hard on the buttons, spending a lot of time online looking at options, but in the end, Joann’s had just what I wanted. While I had thought something neon or bright would be the ticket, it was this medium pink that looked the best.

Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle

My favorite detail on this shirt is the “L” patch from Wildflower and Company on Etsy.

Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle

This was also a gift, and went great with the shirt. It was easy to iron on and instructions were included to ensure success. After adhering it, I stitched around the outside with regular thread in my bobbin and clear nylon thread in my needle. If you haven’t used nylon thread before, it looks a lot like lightweight fishing line, but comes on a spool. I have a really old spool that was given to me by a friend. This stuff pretty much lasts forever, and is great extra insurance on something like this embroidered patch that will definitely go through the laundry on a regular basis.

I did have one tool failure–and this is something I have seen in several cases, unfortunately. Using a yellow Chaco liner on white/light material is probably a gamble that won’t end well.

Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle

I don’t know if this happens with all the Chaco liner colors, but I have used the yellow on cream fabric and it has never washed out. I helped with a class once where someone made white jeans and couldn’t get it out. Now I notice that I can still see my marks even on this medium gray, even though I have washed it since making it. I absolutely love my yellow Chaco liner for its ease of use, and I really don’t have problems with it on darker colors, but it just doesn’t seem to come out of lighter colors.

Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
See that yellow streak? It’s not the worst ever, but it will probably never come out.

The Pattern

I chose to make View B in a large for the bust/chest and waist and an extra large for the hips.

Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
You can see where I graded out a size for the hips on the left edge of the pattern piece.
Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
Here’s a close-up

I thought about trying the shortest view (View C), but I really wanted hip pockets, and View C omits those.

This pattern was nice to sew without any real surprises, and it felt like it came together fairly quickly. I like the front chest and hip pockets and love how the lining on the inside of the yoke looks.

Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
Inside front. You can tell I have been wearing this because…wrinkles! haha
Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
Inside back–love that lined yoke.

One of the few things I didn’t like is that, at this length, the hip pockets finish just above the hem, so if you put your hands or something heavy in the pockets, they will hang down beneath the edge of the jacket. To fix that, I topstitched my pockets to the front, following the seam line from the inside. They aren’t perfectly even, but it’s not noticeable unless you are trying to notice it. While I prefer the look of the jacket without this topstitching, it doesn’t look bad and it completely solves the problem.

Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
Pockets! And now that they are topstitched, they don’t hang down!

One thing that was a little different from a lot of shirts that I sew is that this pattern has a one-piece collar and the button plackets extend past the edge of the collar. It give the shirt jacket a slightly different look from a regular shirt. I also like the seam line over the chest pockets. It’s a good detail.

Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle

This shirt jacket has, in my opinion, the perfect amount of ease to wear over other shirts or a light sweater, and I could see making this in other cotton flannels or, even better, in wool.

Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
Sewing is so exciting!!!

If you look around on the internet, you can see a lot of versions of this pattern, including an amazing version in red faux fur by Yoga Byrd over on the Minerva.com website (hopefully that link works).

While I started this in the winter (And maybe finished it in the winter? I can’t remember…), it’s a great transitional piece for spring. I have worn it a lot, and am so glad I made it.

Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle

There’s nothing like a garment you have made yourself when it comes to the ideal fit. And if you find fitting difficult, persevere! You’ll get there! With practice, even if we can’t make everything fit perfectly, we can usually get things closer to what we want than store-bought clothes.

Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle