Category Archives: Uncategorized

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

I’m really excited about the jeans I have to share with you today.  I love all the details I put into them!  Just like the gingham shirt from last week, jeans provide a fun chance to experiment with details.

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

I made the decision to swap one of the tops (Simplicity 2255) on my 2017 Make Nine plan for some Ginger Jeans, partly because I needed some jeans, but also because I was no longer sure if that top was the right use for the precious fabric I had planned for it.

I knew that Me-Made-May was coming up, and I needed more pants, AND, last but not least, Pintuck & Purl was hosting a Jeans Sewing Master Class with Heather Lewenza of Closet Case Patterns, maker of the Ginger Jeans pattern…and, you know, I thought that warranted a new pair.  😉

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

I am both completely in love with these jeans and slightly annoyed by the subtle fit issues that I didn’t notice until after these were finished.  We can leave the annoyances until later–let’s talk about the fun stuff!

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

I knew before I even had the fabric that I wanted to use yellow exposed zippers on these (partly because I completely forgot to put them in my green pair), and I knew I could do it because I learned how when making my Refashioners 2015 jacket (worn in the picture above).  The instructions come from the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing (1976 edition), my favorite sewing reference.

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

I’ll give you a quick rundown of the other supplies I used and where they are from, in case you are curious (I’m always curious about these sorts of things.).  Also, I know there are a billion links in this post.  I love information, and I want you to have all the information I have in case it will help you.  None of these are affiliate links, although I do work part-time at Pintuck & Purl.

  • Ginger Jeans pattern by Closet Case Patterns:  Pintuck & Purl
  • stretch denim: Pintuck & Purl
  • yellow exposed zippers:  ZipIt Zippers on Etsy (a really great shop for zippers!)
  • sparkly gold fly zipper:  Pintuck & Purl
  • jeans button:  Wawak
  • yellow Gutermann topstitching thread and navy Gutermann construction thread:  Jo-Ann Fabrics
  • red Coats topstitching thread: either Pintuck & Purl or Jo-Ann’s
  • interfacing:  Jo-Ann Fabrics
  • Amy Butler Daisy Chain fabric for pockets, waistband lining, and bias tape on the hem:  ?? (I can’t remember where I got this!  It’s been in my stash for a long time.)
  • gold leather patch:  a gift from Elizabeth Berthoud of Sac A main

One great discovery with this pair of jeans is that my Singer Featherweight sewing machine does great with Gutermann topstitching thread.  I was ready to swear that thread off because it didn’t do well in my Elna 3005 the last time I made jeans, but this time I set up both machines so I could use my Elna for construction and my Featherweight for topstitching, and both machines did great with their respective threads.  I used the red Coats topstitching thread in the Elna and it worked great.  It’s so rare that anything disagrees with my Elna that I assumed the problem was with the thread, but I’m glad I tried the Gutermann with the other machine (admittedly, I only did this because it was the only yellow/gold topstitching thread I had on hand and I didn’t want to run out to get more).

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

So, with the exception of the exposed zippers, which I had to put in before doing the pockets, I followed the directions as written.  I made a size 14, View A (low rise, stovepipe legs).  The back pocket topstitching design came from a bunch of topstitching designs Heather sent out to newsletter subscribers.  It was really fun to pick one out.

Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Files

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Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Files

I was also inspired by my coworker Lauren to add bias trim to the hem of the my pants and a contrasting thread color on my buttonhole as well as some contrasting bartacks.  She makes cool clothes.

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

So let’s talk fabric.  I chose this great stretch denim, and I really love it.  It’s very different (in a good way) from the inexpensive denim I used for my first pair.  It has a great hand and feels substantial, yet still stretchy.  What I DIDN’T do (but should have) is wear my jeans around for a few hours after basting them.  I was impatient.  I admit it.  I basted them, wore them around for a few minutes, and called them good.  And they were.  They were just right.  So, I sewed them up, and finished them off.  I washed them to get any chalk marks off and hung them up to dry (by the way, I did wash and dry the fabric in the dryer more than once before making these).  Then, I put them on and…they seemed a little looser than I remembered…and a little longer than my other two pairs.  Hm.  In my concern about not making them too tight (you know I love some ease!), I didn’t account for differences in fabric.  This stretch denim is stretchier than my other two pairs.

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

I also asked Heather to take a look at my jeans during a lull in the jeans class (I was around to help out on day one), and she gave me a few fitting tips that she said could remove the excess fabric in the back and my need for a belt.  Her advice was both generous and helpful, and might also apply to my gray pants with the mysterious extra fabric in the back.  She is a fitting master.  It was amazing to see her help everyone.

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

So, final analysis:  I LOVE these jeans.  I think they are my coolest-looking jeans to date (the green pants are sort of in their own category, I think), and I am always mystified when people don’t stop me and tell me how awesome they are.  😉

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

That being said, I really wish the fit was as perfect as I thought it was when I basted them together and tried them on.  They are a little looser than I want them, and I definitely have to wear a belt.  BUT…this is all part of the learning curve for making pants, right?  As much as I wish I had all pants-fitting knowledge magically deposited in my brain, that is never going to happen, and I really do remember fitting things better when it is something I’ve had to learn the hard way (Darn it!  WHY is there no silver bullet/magic potion/easy answer?  Learning and skill development actually takes WORK!  Shocking!).

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

If you are thinking about making jeans, the Ginger Jeans pattern is a GREAT pattern.  It was much less scary than I thought it would be and the directions plus the sew-along are really, really helpful and well done.  Heather clearly does her research.  Go for it!

Recommendations

  • I just found out about @tinycarpenter_ on Instagram.  It’s a little Lego guy who uses big people tools for his carpentry work.  Fun!
  • I love sewing inspiration, and I find a lot of it in catalogues from companies like J.Crew and Boden.  Often when I see clothing that I really like, I can think of a pattern that matches it.  I think of this as shopping for inspiration.
  • And, um, here is a little prom dress inspiration for you (hahaha!):

Simplicity 1538 in Red and White Gingham, or… A New Shirt for Spring!

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Simplicity 1538 in Red and White Gingham, or… A New Shirt for Spring!

It can now be officially established (if it wasn’t before) that Simplicity 1538 is a Tried-N-True (TNT) pattern for me.  I think this is my fifth one (see previous versions here: wearable muslin, pink tiger quilting cotton, flannel, flannel with pearl snaps).  I love this pattern.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

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Simplicity 1538

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Simplicity 1538

Today’s iteration is made in a high-quality red and white gingham from Pintuck & Purl with quilting cotton accents (one of the Cotton & Steel Sprinkle fabrics) from the same store.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

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Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

Buttons are from Jo-ann Fabrics.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

I was inspired to add these fun blue accents after I saw a shirt by another sewing blogger (unfortunately, I can’t find my inspiration picture anywhere!).

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

I love those little details whether they are hidden and only something I know about or if they peek out and add to the look of the garment as a whole.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

This project in particular really brought home how much fun those little details can be and make me love shirt-making even more.  Shirts and jeans are great canvases for these kinds of creative touches.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

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Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

I didn’t do anything new to the pattern fitting-wise.  You may or may not remember from previous posts that this shirt is a 16 at the bust, graded out to an 18 for the waist and hips.  I also lowered the dart and did a major broad back adjustment (more about that here).  Those things are pretty standard for me when making woven tops, and it’s great to have a pattern where all that stuff is already done.  I used French seams on the arm and side seams.  I’m pretty happy about those.  They aren’t perfect, but they’re good, and they make me happy when I look at them.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

Now let’s get to the fun details I built into this shirt.  For starters, I did not try to plaid match anything.  Once a gingham is this small (1/4″ squares), I officially let myself off the hook.  I just don’t care.  What I do care about is being able to contrast the straight horizontal and vertical lines of the gingham with some diagonal bias lines.  I put the outer back yoke, the front button placket, the cuff placket, and the outer cuffs on the bias.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

I debated doing the same on the collar stand and collar, but left them on the straight of grain this time so they would contrast with the yoke.  I added blue accents to the insides of the cuffs, the inner yoke, the inner collar stand and the underside of the collar.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

It took me awhile to find a blue that I liked with this gingham, but I’m really happy with this.  The buttons were also good finds–they have a subtle design, but when I saw them against the shirt, I knew they were right.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

This is the second gingham shirt I have made (the first is here), and while I sort of thought that cotton gingham was pretty similar across the board, I should have known better.  My first gingham was a great deal at Hancock’s (RIP, Hancock’s!), but the quality isn’t great.  As soon as I made it, I was wondering how long it would hold up.  No regrets or anything, but I doubt it will last 10 years.  The feel of this is much better.  Maybe it’s just the difference between actual quality shirting fabric and run-of-the-mill gingham.  Lesson learned.  I think this red and white one will be around for a while.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

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Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

So, now it’s just a matter of celebrating spring in my preppy new shirt!  Hooray!  I love the fit.  I love the fabric.  I love the pattern.  This is a great shirt.  Bonus:  it’s one of my 2017 Make Nine projects.  One more done!

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

Recommendations

  • After the crazy outfit in this post, maybe you’d like to read about how to successfully pair prints in this excellent article by Kenneth D. King for Threads Magazine.  Thanks to this article, I now know why this combination works (well, at least why I like it).
  • Have you seen the yarn by Hedgehog Fibres?  That speckled and colorful awesomeness might just make me want to knit again.  Sewing has taken over my creative life, and I love that, but all those colors are mighty tempting…
  • I’m not a big nail polish person, but I’ve been wearing hot pink covered with a big glitter clear coat, and it has been really fun.  Both came from Claire’s.  If you are looking for fun nail polish, check them out.
  • And here’s a funny signs video to give you a few laughs. Have a great weekend!

Jutland Pants for Me!!!

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Jutland Pants for Me!!!

When I was growing up, I was a tomboy.  I’ve grown more “girlie” as I’ve gotten older, but there is still a side of me that loves the practical and strong in clothing.  I love a good dress, but I also get a lot of inspiration from workwear.  That was why, when I realized that the Thread Theory Jutland Pants that I made for my husband (here and here) fit me as well, I started planning my own pair.

Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

I’ve always loved straight- and wide-leg pants, but after several years of closer-fitting styles being the norm, it’s a big change to go back.  I wasn’t completely sure about my idea…until I borrowed one of the pairs I had made my husband so I could test out the fit.  So. Comfortable.  I was sold.

Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

The pattern and fabric for these pants came from Pintuck & Purl.

Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

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Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

The fabric is a 100% cotton grey English canvas (which I obviously should have pressed before taking these pictures–oops!).  This is the same fabric I used for my husband’s second pair of Jutlands, but in a different color.  The pants came together really quickly since this is the third time I’ve sewn them, I didn’t bother with special topstitching thread, and since I forgot to flat-fell my outseams (oops again).  I also left off the cargo pockets and knee patches, retaining only the hem reinforcements.

Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

I borrowed patch pockets from Simplicity 1020,

Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

and back pockets from the Ginger Jeans from Closet Case Patterns.  (I’m still not sure if I like that decision or not.)

Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

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Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

In fact, in a triumph that I will probably never experience again, I sewed these pants in a single day.  Yes.  One day.  I was proud of myself.

Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

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Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

These pants are rugged and neutral,  and will coordinate with a lot of other colors.  I made these with the goal or having something workwear inspired, but also of having actual work pants.  In fact, it took me so long to get pictures of these, that I had already done some outdoor work while wearing them and, much to my annoyance, stained them.  I guess they’re legit now, right?

Jutland Pants for Meee!!!

So, despite the fact that these aren’t form-fitting in any way, I LOVE them.  I love how they feel and I love that I feel tough when I wear them and don’t have to worry about a stain or two.  I kind of hope Thread Theory develops women’s versions of some of their men’s patterns.  Then I could take inspiration from the likes of Carhartt and Duluth Trading Co. and apply them to my wardrobe.  🙂

Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

Recommendations

  • It’s almost time for Me-Made-May 2017!  Are you joining in?  If you’ve never heard of Me-Made-May, it’s a challenge to help you wear and love your handmade garments.  You set your own goal at whatever level is challenging for you.  Here’s my pledge:  ‘I, Lisa of patternandbranch.wordpress.com and @lisa.poblenz sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’17. I endeavour to wear both a top and bottom (or dress) that I have made each day for the duration of May 2017’.  I hope I can do it!  And I hope you join in, too!
  • This pink Kelly Anorak Jacket by Girl and Machine is seriously tempting me.  I keep telling myself I don’t want to get into such a big project and that I have enough jackets, but then I think of this jacket, and I start to have second thoughts…
  • I’ve been having a lot of fun looking up fashion details on Pinterest.  Searching for “pockets” or just “fashion details” has unearthed a lot of inspiration.  You can see my Fashion:  Details board here.

Grainline Lark Tee in Wool/Lycra Knit

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Grainline Lark Tee in Wool/Lycra Knit

Hey, friends!  Long time, no project!  That hasn’t been intentional.  I have a bit of a backlog to share with you, so let’s get started on this week’s project, a wool/Lycra knit Lark Tee from Grainline Studio.

Grainline Lark Tee in Wool Knit

This is my first Grainline Studio garment since the Hemlock.  I wasn’t in love with that particular pattern (or its instructions) and so I shied away from the company as a whole, but they do have a number of pretty great-looking patterns, and people seem to love them, so I decided to dip my toe in a little bit.  And to be completely honest, I wear my Hemlock all the time for pajamas.  I guess it just goes to show that first impressions aren’t everything, and it’s worth it to wear a garment for a while before deciding if you like it or not.

This project came about because I really need a good, versatile t-shirt pattern that can become a TNT (tried-n-true) pattern for me, and after searching the interwebs for one pattern with lots of options, I found that Grainline’s Lark Tee had the largest number of options to cover all your basic t-shirt needs in one pattern.  I used to say I wouldn’t sew t-shirts when I could buy them so cheaply, but I admit to getting sucked in.  A t-shirt is a great palate cleanser between more intense projects.

Grainline Lark Tee in Wool Knit

I still had a good amount of my green wool/Lycra knit fabric (used in this shirt), which seemed like a good match for the pattern.  I borrowed the pattern from a friend, so that I could see if I liked it before really committing.

Grainline Lark Tee in Wool Knit

I chose the long-sleeved scoop neck view, tracing a 12 at the bust and grading out to a 14 at the waist and hips.  In looking at the pictures, I think I could have maybe gone down a size, but I usually err on the side of more ease rather than less.  The instructions and illustrations were very clear and easy to understand, which I really liked.  Maggie at Pintuck & Purl had told me that the shirt runs long, but I decided to keep the length so I could use it for layering (for reference, I’m 5 ft. 8.5 in.).  She has a great version of this shirt on the shop’s blog.  Reading her post is part of what finally convinced me to try it.

Grainline Lark Tee in Wool Knit

My initial reaction was that the shirt was…ok.  It is definitely a straight fit and not defined at the waist.  Also, this fabric might not be the awesome match I thought it was.  I have to wear it a little bit more to see what I really think, but despite my potential fabric and sizing blunders, I’m beginning to like it.  I think it could become a wardrobe staple.  I’d like to try a short-sleeved version as well as versions in other types of fabric at some point.

Grainline Lark Tee in Wool Knit

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Grainline Lark Tee in Wool Knit

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Grainline Lark Tee in Wool Knit

***Since taking these pictures and writing my first draft of this post, I spent a day wearing this same outfit, but with the shirt tucked in and with a long cardigan over it, and I really like it.  It’s comfortable and (I think) looks good.***

I have to admit, I’m kind of excited to experiment with this pattern, and I’m glad I gave Grainline another try.  Looks like I need more knit fabric.  Darn.  😉

 

Recommendations

  • I think I mentioned last time that I’ve been listening to old episodes of the Sew Forth Now podcast, so I’m making lots of discoveries, like…THE PROJECT RUNWAY NINTENDO WII GAME!  I’m not quite sure if this is hilarious or awesome (or both), but since I don’t have a Wii, maybe one of you can try it out and let me know.  🙂
  • I recently met Jocelyn Love who is working to open “a nonprofit sewing center and reclaimed fabric store” in Gloucester, MA, AND they are having a sewing-themed sale on May 6 to raise money.  If you are local, you may want to donate and/or shop the sale.  Their Facebook page is here and even if you don’t have Facebook, you can see the details at this link.  I’m really interested to see what this nonprofit becomes.
  • Cadbury Creme Eggs.  It’s that time of year, and Cadbury Eggs are my all-time favorite Easter candy.
  • More seriously, though, to those of you who celebrate it:  Happy Easter!

 

 

Simplicity 1696…The Continuing Quest to Conquer the Fear of Sewing Pants

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Simplicity 1696…The Continuing Quest to Conquer the Fear of Sewing Pants

Today is another project from my 2017 Make Nine list–Simplicity 1696, a pair of chino-type pants.

Simplicity 1696

As I was choosing my projects for the year, I wanted to make sure I had a few pants (or trousers for my non-American friends out there) on my list because I realized that I still fear making them and therefore I avoid them.  It’s not the construction that I fear.  It’s fitting.  Here’s the problem with fitting…you might know something isn’t right, but that doesn’t mean you know the cause of the issue.  How can you fix a problem if you don’t even know what the problem is?  But when I look back at my experience making button up shirts, which I have come to love, I realize that you can’t figure out your common fitting issues if you never make the garment in the first place.

So, this year pants are on the list.

Simplicity 1696

I’ve had this particular pattern for a long time, but I’ve never made it before now.

Simplicity 1696

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Simplicity 1696

It’s one of the Amazing Fit series, so it sounded like it had a lot of extra fitting tips inside, and it definitely delivered.  Before beginning, it directs you to take certain measurements to determine which back piece you will use–slim, average, or curvy.  Once I measured myself, I chose curvy.  There are some great tips for fitting as you go as well as extra-wide seam allowances in key places.  The pattern has directions for adding faux welt pockets to the back, but after trying them out, I thought they looked fake, so I took them off again.  Otherwise, I did everything as instructed.  The only fitting I did was to take the inseams in by 1/8″.

Simplicity 1696

That being said, I think there is excess fabric in the back, and I don’t know what to do about that.  MY FITTING FEARS HAVE COME TO PASS!  AHHHH!!!!

OK, so it’s not quite as scary as I thought.  😉

You can see it better in the picture below.

Simplicity 1696

The fabric I used for these pants is a cotton/spandex sateen from Jo-Ann Fabrics.  It’s a little on the light side, although it is a bottomweight.  So, here is my question for you, readers:  do you think all the back wrinkles are due to fabric choice or something else?  The feel of these pants is perfection.  They are comfortable and not too tight.  But the look of the back leaves something to be desired.  Should I have gone with the average back?  Is it something else entirely?  The few shorts I have made before have generally needed more length in the back crotch seam rather than less, but maybe these are different?  I’m not sure.

Simplicity 1696

After trying them on, I decided not to worry too much about it.  Hopefully I’ll run across the answer at some point (maybe one of you will have it), but since these feel so comfortable, I decided not to let my fitting questions stop me from finishing the project.

Simplicity 1696

So, final analysis?  This is a great pattern, which I highly recommend.  For myself, I may not have figured the pattern out to perfection, but I now have one more pair of pants under my belt (haha), and I’m a little bit less afraid.

Recommendations

  • Anyone who has been reading the blog for awhile will know that I love fabric from Cotton + Steel (the tiger shirt I’m wearing in the photos above is made with Cotton + Steel fabric), so it was a lot of fun to hear about the inception of the design group as well as the personal story of Melody Miller, one of the founding designers.  If you want to listen, you can check out this podcast episode from Modern Sewciety and/or this one from the Crafty Planner podcast.  If you are new to podcasts, you can find out how to listen to them by scrolling to the bottom of the second link.
  • My husband and I have very different taste in books, but every once in awhile he comes across one that, while it may not be my typical genre, he is sure that I will like.  He’s a good judge of these things, so that’s what caused me to dip my toe into a little sci-fi recently with the audiobook version of Starwars:  Bloodline–New Republic…and it was so good.
  • If you are north of Boston, whether in Massachusetts, southern New Hampshire, or southern Maine and are looking for a good place to eat, I highly recommend The Farm Bar & Grille for delicious, casual food.  Good for a date, good for a family outing.  I’ve only tried the Massachusetts branch, but I’d be willing to bet the New Hampshire and Maine ones are good too.
  • I think this particular bad lip read video is appropriate since I just recommended a Star Wars book…(And if your kids are standing by while you watch it, Luke says “pitchy” at the end, not the word that rhymes with pitchy that we tell our kids not to say.  😉   )

McCall’s 7261: “Doin’ Everything in my Activewear!”

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McCall’s 7261: “Doin’ Everything in my Activewear!”

As I continue to expand my sewing skills, one of the goals I have is to try out different kinds of fabric.  One type of fabric that I would really like to try out is merino wool knit.  It tends to be prohibitively expensive for me, so I haven’t tried it yet, but I thought that trying out another wool knit would be a good start.  Before Christmas, Fabric Mart had a wool/Lycra jersey from an activewear manufacturer as one of their daily deals.  In the interest of helping my wonderful husband with his Christmas shopping, I tipped him off to this and–surprise!–it showed up for me on Christmas!  (He’s the best!)  😉

Because of the truly awesome deal that this was, I got a good amount of yardage (4 yards), and made plans to make it into both an activewear top and a t-shirt at some point.  Today’s project is my activewear top–McCall’s 7261, View B.

McCall's 7261--Activewear top

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McCall's 7261--Activewear top

I started with this because I knew I could wear it over another shirt in case it was itchy, and I often want a light long-sleeved layer to wear over my sleeveless workout top until I get warmed up.  Also, in all honesty, I was hoping that by sewing more activewear I would be more motivated to get to the gym.  I’ve been doing a lot of walking outside, but I would also like to do some strength training…it’s just so hard to go in when it’s sunny and not bitterly cold out…or you’re busy…and stuff.

So, enough talking–on to the project.

McCall's 7261--Activewear top

I’m really happy with this one.  The only adjustment I had to make was to grade out from a 16 at the bust to an 18 at the waist and hips.  The fit is good, but with enough ease to be comfortable and to easily fit over another shirt.  The good news about the fabric is that it isn’t itchy.  When you touch it with your hand, you think it will be, but when you wear it, it isn’t.  Surprises me every time.  🙂

McCall's 7261--Activewear top

The shirt has raglan sleeves and princess seams as well as a drapey cowl neck that crosses over in the front.  The cuffs are extra long and have thumb holes.  The front hem is also higher than the back.

McCall's 7261--Activewear top

The thumb holes are probably the only part I would adjust if I made this again.  I think they need to be a little bit larger, have a stretch stitch around them (which may or may not be necessary if the thumb holes are larger), and maybe be repositioned a bit.  The sleeves twist a little when I use them as they’re positioned now.  I do love having them however, and these adjustments are minor in the grand scheme of things.  When I’m not using the thumb holes, I fold the cuffs over on themselves.

McCall's 7261--Activewear top

For my hem and around the join of the cowl and the neck, I used a twin needle to add stretch and look professional.  Also, I’m super excited that I actually know how to use a twin needle on my machine now.  It took me forever to figure it out!

McCall's 7261--Activewear top

I like that the seams are double stitched (the seams are first sewn with a straight stitch and then with a zigzag stitch in the seam allowance).  The straight stitch gives a nice clean line at the seams, but the zigzag backs you up when those straight stitches inevitably pop a bit.  If you had a serger, these things probably wouldn’t be an issue, but I don’t, and this doesn’t really bother me all that much.  In the hopes of maybe giving my seams a little extra stretch, I used woolly nylon thread in my bobbin and normal polyester thread in the top.  I also used a jersey needle and a walking foot.  This is just me trying out different things, though.  I think you would also be fine using regular polyester thread throughout, a jersey or stretch needle, and a normal foot.

And finally, one more thing in the category of…I don’t know…things I’m trying to motivate myself to do, I guess.  So, along with getting to the gym, I’ve been having trouble motivating myself to take blog photos.  My husband has been taking my pictures a lot lately, but I’m sure becoming my Instagram Husband wasn’t really on his list of life goals (although he is always willing to help out), so I’m trying to motivate myself to take more and better blog photos.  It’s a process, people, and I am no model.  So, today’s photoshoot is brought to you by the use of props and humor.  They came out a little blurry, but I did have fun!

McCall's 7261--Activewear top

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McCall's 7261--Activewear top

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McCall's 7261--Activewear top

Recommendations

  • Traditional folk costumes are fascinating, and I love a good dirndl.  Back when Gretchen of Gertie’s Blog for Better Sewing got into them, I vicariously went along for the ride and, thanks to her, discovered Lena Hoschek’s beautiful dirndls.  Some women want a chance to make a fancy dress, but I think I really want a reason to make a dirndl.  I’m saving up ideas for now over on Pinterest.  😉
  • And, since we’re on the subject of folk costumes, I also always wanted to make a costume to go to Tulip Time in Holland, MI.  I’ve been to a few tulip time festivals, but I always thought it would be fun to make my own costume.  I have to say though, that at this point, the dirndls are a lot more likely to get made.  They’re winning in the ‘beauty’ and ‘scope for imagination’ categories.  A lot of the American Tulip Time costumes that I’ve seen are a snapshot in time while the German and Austrian dirndls are an ongoing, living tradition.  I admit to having no knowledge of tulip festivals in the actual Netherlands.
  • Well, since we’re talking folk costumes, we might as well mention Folkwear patterns.  Their patterns represent the traditional clothing of different cultures and times in history.  I’ve never tried any, but have had fun perusing their offerings.  Have you ever sewn with one of these patterns?
  • And now for something completely different.  This video is a repeat, but every time I wear workout clothes/activewear (especially when I’m not actually exercising), I think of this video.  It’s also where I got the title for this post.  😉

The Plaid Flannel Dress: Simplicity 8014

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I made a dress!  And not just any dress, but a cozy flannel dress.  It’s time to post this cool-weather project before spring gets here, so let’s get down to it!

Simplicity 8014 in Mammoth Plaid

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Simplicity 8014 in Mammoth Plaid

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Simplicity 8014 in Mammoth Plaid

Today’s project is Simplicity 8014, a shirt dress made from lofty Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel in the Adventure colorway.

Not only is this dress soft with plenty of ease for comfort, it’s also underlined with a slippery rayon Bemberg lining fabric so it glides easily over tights or leggings.

Simplicity 8014 in Mammoth Plaid

If you’re not familiar with underlining, it’s when you take two layers of fabric and hold them together as if they were one, sometimes from the start of the project, and sometimes beginning after the darts have been constructed in each layer.  It is different than lining or interlining.  (In fact, I think we should make up more sewing terms with the word ‘lining’ in them just to make it more confusing.  😉 )  Underlining can have multiple benefits.  It strengthens the garment, especially if your fashion fabric is light or loosely woven, and it can provide a layer to stitch into (for hems, etc.) that won’t show your stitches on the outside.  (Here’s a great article from Threads Magazine that explains everything better than I could.)  In my case, I wanted a smooth layer that would keep my dress from catching on tights or leggings.  I’ve only underlined garments maybe once, but in that case, I read about what underlining was and then applied the definition as I saw fit.  This time, I decided to actually follow the traditional process for underlining.

There are four views in this pattern.

Simplicity 8014

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Simplicity 8014

I made View D, but dropped the hem of the dress to the length of View C.  I also chose to make this with long sleeves and interior tabs in case I want to roll the sleeves up at some point.  I made a 16 in the bust and graded out to an 18 for the waist and hips.  I also lowered the bust dart and did a major broad back adjustment.

Simplicity 8014 in Mammoth Plaid

Fabric for this project came from Pintuck & Purl, and buttons, thread, lining, and interfacing came from Jo-Ann Fabrics.  Despite the look of the buttons, they aren’t pearl snaps.  Buttons seemed more secure for a dress, and these are some of my favorites.

In order to underline this dress, I cut out all of my pieces in the flannel, and then also cut out the body and hem facings a second time in Bemberg/Ambiance rayon.  I didn’t think a smooth inside was necessary for the sleeves. I chose Bemberg as my underlining fabric because it is a semi-synthetic/semi-natural fabric (rayon is made from wood pulp) and because it’s not prone to static cling.

Using the method outlined in the Reader’s Digest Sewing Complete Guide to Sewing, I basted the layers of flannel and rayon together and then trimmed the rayon to more closely resemble the flannel.  Cutting out the rayon was a bit tricky, but a lot of those imperfections got trimmed off or were hidden in the seam allowances.  It would have been easier and more accurate if I had used a rotary cutter, but my cutting mat wasn’t large enough for me to do that without having to move my pieces around.

Simplicity 8014

Sadly, this is the only underlining picture I could get to load onto Flickr.  I had a few pictures of the pieces basted together, but after trying to get them to upload several times, I had to give up.  😦

Once it was all basted, I sewed it together using the pattern instructions.  Since I try to focus on learning only one or two new techniques per project (most of the time), I decided not to worry about perfect internal finishings, and I zigzagged and trimmed my seam allowances.  Because I bought the last of this fabric (although it has been restocked since I made this dress), I didn’t have enough extra fabric to put my yoke or cuffs on the bias.  I did manage to cut my chest pockets on the bias, but here’s where we enter ‘things I should have done’…  Next time it wouldn’t be a bad idea to interface those pockets if they are on the bias because I think mine started stretching a little as I handled and sewed them.  I also think it would have been a good idea to put just a little bit of interfacing under the buttons for the sleeve tabs to strengthen that area a little bit.

Simplicity 8014 in Mammoth Plaid

So, final verdict?  This is a great dress!  As a friend of mine pointed out, it sort of fits into one of my favorite clothing categories:  secret pajamas.  It’s warm and cozy and kind of like a nightgown with a belt.  I love that it has pockets and is loose and comfy, but has the belt for a little bit of shaping.  Ironically, I finished this the day before we got some warm weather.  I tried to wear it to a Sip & Stitch craft night at Pintuck & Purl, and completely overheated and had to change within about 10 minutes.  Haha!  Oh, well.  It’s been cold since, and I’ve really enjoyed wearing it.  Added bonus:  this was one of my 2017 Make Nine Projects, so that’s one more down!

Simplicity 8014 in Mammoth Plaid

I promise I’m smiling in this picture!  Or am I crying because taking blog pictures is hard?  😉

Recommendations

  • In case you are curious about lining fabrics and other resources related to that, check out this article from the blog A Fashionable Stitch:  Understanding Lining Fabric + Resources .  This is such a great blog if  you want to increase your sewing knowledge and skills.  There are a number of posts on different types of fabric and so much more.
  • In fact, here is a post from the same blog on rayon wovens.  If you are new to sewing or just want to know what the big deal with rayon is, this post will clue you in.  It’s a relatively new fabric for me, but so far I really like it.
  • I know we already talked about my personal 2017 Make Nine challenge, but if you want to read more about it or are interested in jumping in yourself, here’s a recent post from the challenge’s creator, Rochelle New, on what it is and how you can join in.  So far, I’ve found it really fun.

Coppelia Cardi by Papercut Patterns

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Coppelia Cardi by Papercut Patterns

Hi, sewing friends.  This week I have two versions of the same pattern to share with you.  A little while ago I made the Coppelia Cardi by Papercut Patterns, first the long faux wrap view, and then the cropped wrap view.

Coppelia Cardi by Papercut Patterns

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Coppelia Cardi by Papercut Patterns

These weren’t hard to make, and were very quick projects, even though I chose to double sew each seam, first using a straight stitch and then going over the seam again with a three-step zig-zag.  This wasn’t indicated in the directions, but I made these right after making the Toaster Sweater, which does call for this technique, and I thought it was smart, so I used it in these sweaters as well.

For the long faux wrap, I chose a poly/cotton French terry from Jo-Ann Fabrics.

Coppelia Cardi by Papercut Patterns

Time will tell if it resists pilling and holds up well, but I loved the color and feel, so it seemed like a good fabric for a first try on this pattern.  Fun fact:  when I was little, this color, a.k.a. “sea green” was my favorite for a long time.  Pastels were big…what can I say?  😉

Coppelia Cardi from Papercut Patterns

I really like how this turned out.

Coppelia Cardi from Papercut Patterns

It’s comfortable and for a style I have rarely worn (wrap-front), I really like it.

Coppelia Cardi from Papercut Patterns

It’s especially nice to wear to the gym since the style is just a little nicer than my normal slouchy sweatshirts.  😉

Coppelia Cardi from Papercut Patterns

For my second version, the cropped view, I chose a rayon knit from Pintuck & Purl, which is also where I bought my pattern.

Coppelia Cardi by Papercut Patterns

I’d never worked with rayon knits before, I don’t think, and this one had the added interest of being gray on the wrong side and a dark plum color on the right side.  It has a great hand and drape.  I was worried that it would be hard to work with, but it wasn’t.

I’m not entirely sure it was the perfect match for this particular pattern, because while it feels lovely on, the neck band tends to relax and flop open rather than staying put.  (You can see that in the two pictures below.)  Maybe a knit with a little spandex/elastane would have been better?

Coppelia Cardi by Papercut Patterns

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Coppelia Cardi by Papercut Patterns

Either way, this cropped version is great to wear with high-waisted bottoms or with a longer shirt underneath.  You can tie it in the back or wrap it around and knot it in the front.

Coppelia Cardi by Papercut Patterns

Tied in back (above and below).

Coppelia Cardi by Papercut Patterns

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Coppelia Cardi by Papercut Patterns

Tied in front (above and below).

Coppelia Cardi by Papercut Patterns

I’m sort of curious to see how much wear these will get.  I really like them, I like the fabric, but like I said, they are a little different than what I normally wear in a sweater.  My hope in buying this pattern was that I could use it to replace an old, but much-loved sweater from Old Navy.  That one is a little big and not the best quality, so I wanted to be prepared for when it finally died.  The way this pattern wraps around the body is definitely nicer than my store-bought sweater.

As for some of the little details, I used a regular polyester Güttermann thread in my needle and a wooly/bulky nylon in my bobbin as well as a jersey needle and a walking foot.  All of these are choices I would recommend and use again myself.

I’m really glad I tried this.  Papercut Patterns has some great designs.  If you are on the fence about this one, I would encourage you to give it a try.  Also…this is one more pattern from my 2017 Make Nine challenge I can mark off the list!

Recommendations

  • Have you seen the new Sewing Translator app from Liesl + Co.?  It will translate sewing terms from one language to another.  I haven’t played around with it too much yet, but it looks pretty cool.  It’s free and works on iOS 8.0 or later.  Do you think it counts as learning another language if I just practice the sewing terms?  It’s a start, right?  😉
  • I always see the most amazing things on the @mashable feed on Instagram.  It showcases all kinds of new inventions from sleeping bag coats for the homeless to new wheelchairs to photorealistic latte art.
  • I’m kind of intrigued by Daughters of Style patterns.  They might be just a little too fashion forward for me, but I don’t know…  That Amy Shirt dress has me coming back and looking at it again and again.
  • Rather than posting a video, I’ll just tell you that we have lots of fun over here watching Mental Floss videos.  It’s a cool way to learn lots of interesting facts.  John Green is a great host.

Refashion: Down Jacket Into Down Skirt…or…Struggle. Victory.

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Refashion:  Down Jacket Into Down Skirt…or…Struggle.  Victory.

It was a grey and stormy day when I finally cut into a project I had long been contemplating.  It was a refashion, but not just any refashion.  This one involved sewing with a material I had never tried before:  a down jacket.  I had chosen the patterns that were going to help me achieve my goal and planned a little more than half of the project, but there were still questions in my mind about how I was going to finish the rest.  Inspiration images had been pinned to my Pinterest board, but still I mulled it over…until the snow day.  It was finally time.

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

I had already been scheming about refashioning a down jacket into a scarf after seeing these ones, which was the product of a collaboration between Patagonia and Alabama Chanin, but my down-sewing plans expanded when we visited Colorado last winter and I saw a woman wearing a down skirt.  It was such a brilliant idea.

Google revealed that down skirts are actually a thing, even though the Colorado one was the only one I had seen in real life.  So, after a ton of thought, I chose New Look 6843 for the skirt portion, and the waistband from the leggings in McCall’s 7261 for my stretchy waistband.  Since I wanted this to be a pull-on skirt, a waistband and some gores/gussets/godets in the side of the skirt were in order (after seeing the skirt, you can tell me which term is the right one for what I did 😉 ).

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

I managed to turn the back skirt into a single piece and eliminate the zipper.  All of that fit onto the back of the coat, allowing me to use the bottom of the coat as my hem.  It got tricky when I came to the front because that was supposed to be one piece, too.  I really wanted to incorporate the coat zipper in a decorative way (although I planned to sew it shut), and I also wanted the pockets both for decorative and functional purposes, but in the end, it was too much of a struggle.  I realized that by opening my sleeves and sewing them together, I would have enough for my front piece.  I still had plenty of the stretchy fleece left from my Toaster Sweaters for my waistband and gores/gussets/godets.  Then it was all construction.

This is probably the point when you are asking how in the world I cut and sewed that crazy stuff.  That is a very important question.  Here is what I did:  I marked my cutting lines with a water-soluble pen and sewed with a straight stitch on either side of my cut line in the hopes that it would hold all the down in.

Do you think it worked?

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Well, it sort of did.  Not ALL of the down came out.  But some did.  Here’s how I had to sew.

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

You can’t see it in this picture, but I also had pink-eye (conjunctivitis) at the time.  Nice, huh?  (Luckily no down got in my eye.  That would have been…um…gross.)

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

I had the BRILLIANT idea of vacuuming off the edges after I cut them.  I do not recommend this.  Maybe you thought of the problem with this.  It actually dislodged things, so it was sort of like it was snowing outside and snowing inside.  That was the point at which I realized I really needed to get this finished that same day.  We had some sickness in our house that week, and I wasn’t feeling my best, but I decided to power through in the hopes that it was all in my head.  (It wasn’t all in my head, but I powered through anyway!)

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

I also realized that I needed to cover every seam on the inside if I didn’t want to perpetually shed feathers.  This was the point where things got a little…”Becky-home-ecky” (sorry if your name is Becky).  The finishing, while functional and necessary, didn’t meet the vision I had in my head, but I was sort of racing against the down and my nausea.  The good news is, when I’m wearing it, I think it looks like something I could have bought at an outdoor store.  (If you disagree, you don’t have to tell me.)  It’s only if you get up close or look inside that you see the craziness, and since people don’t do that when I’m wearing it (thank goodness!), I think I’m safe.  Want to see it?  Check it out!

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

This skirt has the added benefit of a little puffy booty enhancement up top.  It’s too high for people to think you pooped in your pants, so I like to think of it as booty enhancement.  Maybe it’s because I sewed all the darts in the skirt, even though I basically negated them with those side triangles.  I needed the triangles, though because if you’re going to eliminate the zipper, you need some way to get your skirt on!

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Skirt front (above)

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Skirt back (above)

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Side view (above). I folded the front of the skirt down at the top a bit because it was originally higher in the front and lower in the back, but that feels weird to me.  I want it the other way around.

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Inside front (above).  I covered my seams with fleece, but didn’t sew with a wide enough seam allowance, so I ended up sewing extra lines and hand-tacking things just to get all those feathery seams covered.  I also covered my top seams with wide fold-over-elastic (although I didn’t fold it), and used a zig-zag stitch to hold it down and allow for a little stretch at the waist.  That doesn’t look great, either, but again, you don’t really notice it that much when I’m wearing it, so whatever!

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Inside back (above)

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Inside side view (above).  Here’s where it started to get ugly, but I just wanted to finish at this point.  It was helpful to have the coat lining as a lining for my skirt because I could hand tack the fleece to it.

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Despite any deficiencies in the finishing, I LOVE THIS SKIRT!!!!  When I wear it, I feel ready to take on winter!  The fit is great and it is so cozy that I wore it for two days straight after making it (and vacuuming my work room a.k.a. our living room…twice).  In January I made these fleece leggings and the Toaster Sweater that I’m wearing in this picture, and this outfit is pretty much winter perfection.  I love it so much.

After I finished, I contemplated making a scarf from the remnant of the jackets, but I decided to just put it away for now.  I DID NOT like sewing with all that down.  However…my husband had the brilliant idea to make a scarf from it in the summer…while sewing outside.  He’s so smart!

Recommendations

  • On Wednesday I made the Blueberry Poppyseed Snacking Cake from the Seven Spoons cookbook, and now I just want to eat that all the time.  I know this would be unwise, so I gave the last piece away before I could eat it.
  • I have some old gaiters from L.L. Bean that I just love.  They don’t sell the exact style I have anymore, so this is the closest I could find, but they are great if it’s snowy out and I don’t feel like putting snow pants on.  I can walk through several inches of snow without it getting in my shoes or on my pants.  I used them for a walk on Thursday, and it just reminded me of how much I love them.
  • Is orange the new black?  Are doughnuts the new croissants?  Do you like to say that _____ is the new ______ ?  Then check out this fun and funny website, where each time you click, you get a new ‘this is the new that’.
  • This week I found out that everything is better with doodles.  😉

Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

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Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

Hey, friends!  I missed you last week.  My plans to take some outdoor pictures for my ‘Outside in January’ post were thwarted by family sickness, so that post never happened.  Thanks to my ‘Instagram Husband’ photographer and some nice weather on Saturday, though, I’m back with another sewing post for you.  Today’s creation is the new Toaster Sweater by Sew House Seven.  I was severely tempted to make a sweater for my toaster or pose with a toaster, but I resisted and went for something more basic.  😉

Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

This creation is brought to you by my getting caught up in the wave of cozy versions of this sweater floating around the sewing internet.  I often get caught up in these things, but rarely give in.  This time, I not only got caught up, I bought the PDF version of this pattern, something I almost never do!  I’m not a big fan of PDF’s from a user end.  They are a great way for a new company to get their patterns out into the world for a lower start-up cost, but from a sewing perspective, I’d always rather have a paper pattern.  Sometimes I will even pass on a pattern I like if it doesn’t come in a paper version.  This time, though, I realized that I could buy the PDF of the single view that I wanted (the pattern comes with two views) for less than the price of the paper or full PDF pattern, and I could have it NOW.

I already had my fabric, some Polartec Power Stretch (at least I think it’s Power Stretch) that I bought this past summer at one of my favorite fabric stores in Michigan, Field’s Fabrics.  It was just waiting for the right pattern.  And this was it.

The Details

This is a great pattern and a fast sew.  There aren’t too many pieces, and the instructions are great, which makes the construction feel really simple in a good way.  I made this before making the Coppelia Cardi from Papercut Patterns, and I’m glad I did.  The helpful advice about double stitching is something I’ve been using in all my recent knit projects.

Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

I had all these plans to alter the pattern before getting started.  I wanted to lengthen it and grade the hips out to a larger size, etc., etc., but in the end I made a straight size large for the first version.  I had two colors of fleece, so I figured the first could be a wearable muslin, and I could change things up for the second if I wanted to.  In the end, all I changed for number two was to add another inch in width to the bottom band so that, hopefully, the sweater/sweatshirt would hang down over my hips, rather than sort of sitting on top of them.  I’m not sure that this made a huge difference, but the good news is that both versions are really great.

Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

Here are some knit sewing construction details for anyone who is interested.  I used a 90/14 stretch needle (Schmetz brand) and a walking foot with Gutermann polyester thread in the top and wooly/bulky nylon in my bobbin.  Normally I just use wooly nylon for swimwear, but I wanted to see if I could get a better stretch stitch, and this turned out to be just the thing.  I used a straight stitch with a length of three for my first pass and a three-step zigzag stitch next to that in the seam allowance for my second pass on each set of pattern pieces.  For the zigzag, I used a width of 6 and a length of 1.  My tension was at 4 and my presser foot tension was at 3.  I did not use a serger.

To figure out my stitch length and width, I used the suggestions that came printed on my machine and tested them on fabric scraps.  Then I stretched each test to see if any of my stitches popped.  The straight stitches will pop if you put enough stress on them, but I think it is worth doing both because the straight stitches give you a clean join in your pieces while the zigzag provides extra strength and stretch.

I used a universal twin needle since I didn’t have a stretch twin needle at the time (I’ve since gotten one, and it’s great, but the universal did work as well).  I didn’t press my seams since I was sewing Polartec and I didn’t want to melt it, but I used the twin needle even in spots like the vertical neck, cuff, and bottom band seams to hold my seam allowances to one side.  I think I finally have the hang of the double needle now, and I’m so happy about it.

Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

So, in conclusion, I really like this pattern.  I don’t think these are the world’s most flattering tops on me personally, but I don’t really care.  I love them and I wear them a ton.  They are so cozy in fleece and just perfect for winter.

Recommendations

  • I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again:  fleece from Malden Mills (Polartec brand fleece) is awesome for cold weather.  I love natural fibers year-round, but Polartec fleece is cozy and technically fascinating.  Reading their website really gives you an appreciation for all the innovation in these fabrics.
  • I found this article really helpful:  How a Sewing Machine Works, Explained in a GIF.  I could never picture the inner workings of my machine before.  Thanks to Maggie from Pintuck & Purl for this one.
  • Thanks to this show, I learned that the internet is actually housed on top of Big Ben and if you are really, really lucky, the Elders of the Internet might let you borrow it for big speeches.  😉