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McCall’s 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

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McCall’s 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

Do you wear dresses?  If so, do you like knit or woven dresses?  I was a tomboy growing up and after a few years in a school where I was required to wear skirts or dresses every day, I was pretty happy to mostly leave them behind for the rest of my growing-up years.  I feel different about dresses now, though.  I still don’t wear them often, and when I do wear them, it’s mostly in warmer weather, but I can’t resist great-looking dress patterns!  I have so many that I’ve never sewn.  I’m so glad I attempted McCall’s 7561, however.  It was a pattern that I had put in my own Christmas stocking 😉 because I really wanted to try it.

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

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McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

When there was a sale at Pintuck & Purl before their big move, I bought some of this pink Cotton + Steel cotton/spandex jersey with octopi all over it.  It’s called “Mystery Food Orchid” and even has a fun selvage.  The selvage is easy to turn into a fun tag.  🙂

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

I had some of it in a quilting cotton in my stash, but I really wanted to try the knit, too.  Does it look a little juvenile?  Maybe.  But I like it, and I’m not here to sew all “normal” clothes.

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

When my parents were here visiting, we had a trip planned to the New England Aquarium and, like any sewist who likes an unrealistic deadline, I put two and two together the day before we went, and thought, “Maybe I could make an octopus dress tonight!”  I’m not the world’s fastest sewer, but I had the pattern traced, it was a knit (which can make fitting easier), AND I wouldn’t have to finish any seams.  It was on!

And I did it!  Not only did I make it, but I made it with pockets, too!  And you know what?  It was really fun to wear my dress to the aquarium the next day.  It’s comfortable and very easy to wear with leggings when the weather is cold.

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

Details

This pattern was (happily) so quick and easy.  It took me 45 minutes to cut out including pockets (which are a free pattern from Tilly & the Buttons, not a part of the McCall’s pattern).

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

I made Dress B and lengthened it about 5″ since I knew that would feel more comfortable when I wear it without leggings.  I made a large in the bust and graded out to an extra large for the waist and hip.

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

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McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

I sewed clear elastic into the shoulder seams so they wouldn’t stretch out.

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

The waist was kind of funny in that you sew the bodice to the skirt and then encase your elastic in the seam allowance so that you don’t do any stitching on the outside of the garment.  It was a little weird, but also creative, so I don’t quite know how I feel about it construction-wise.  As far as wearing, it’s very comfortable.

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

The pockets are made following Tilly’s instructions, but I find that they gape sometimes, so I don’t know if I should understitch somewhere or if there is a better method.  Does anyone have any thoughts on that?  For this particular project, speed was the name of the game, so I didn’t think about it too much.

This was all done with a zigzag stitch, jersey needle, and walking foot on a regular home sewing machine.  And that’s about it!  I would definitely make this pattern again, hopefully in a summer version.  We’ll see.  I’d also like to try a t-shirt style knit dress, so if anyone has any favorite patterns, let me know in the comments!  Thanks!

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

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McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

Recommendations

  • The History of English podcast just had a great episode (#110) called “Dyed in the Wool” that is all about words and phrases in the English language that were originally related to the wool trade.  You’ll be surprised when you find out where some of the last names, terms, and phrases you’ve heard originated from.
  • Have you ever looked at the knitting patterns from Boyland Knitworks?  I’ve seen a few on Instagram and at Pintuck & Purl, and they’re so beautiful!  I’m in love with the Alyeska sweater.  I kind of thinking I could actually make the Glacier Park cowl.  I’ll have to keep it in mind if I need another knitting project.
  • I went on a little trip up to New Hampshire last weekend and stopped at the Tilt’n Diner in Laconia, NH.  It was great!  It was decorated in a fun 1950’s style with paintings of ’50’s scenes on the walls and quirky sayings all over.  I got breakfast, but I think they serve all meal types at all times of day.  Milkshake for breakfast?  That’s up to you!
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My New Favorite T-Shirt Pattern: the Deer and Doe Plantain T-Shirt

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

I have a new favorite t-shirt pattern, and guess what?  It’s a FREE pattern!  Yay!  A friend of mine kept telling me she loved the Deer & Doe Plantain T-Shirt, but it took me so long to try it.  Now that I have, though, I see what she was talking about.

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

This T has a scoop neck and is fitted in the shoulders, but tapers out at the waist and hip for a body-skimming fit in those areas.  It comes with a few variations in sleeve length and optional elbow patches.  I made two of these shirts and I’m excited to make more in the future.

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

While PDF isn’t my favorite format, for a free pattern, I’m happy to make an exception.  I stalled on this a bit because the few Deer & Doe patterns I’ve tried in woven fabrics cut into the front of my shoulders, something I haven’t resolved.  I thought a shirt in a knit might be fine, but I just wasn’t sure.  Well, I didn’t have to worry, because these turned out great.  Even if whatever fitting issue I have with Deer & Doe is still present, the knit makes them really comfortable, which makes me really happy.

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

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

So, here are the details on the pattern and materials.

Fabric

While I often love natural materials, I got sucked in by this cute cactus print and ordered some double brushed polyester knit from Cali Fabrics.  (The black cactus print is currently sold out, but there is still a blue colorway.)  I wasn’t sure if I would like it, but…I love it.  It’s really soft, and I just love those cacti!  I thought it would attract a lot of hair and fuzz, but it really doesn’t.  I’m glad I tried it.

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

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

The other fabric I used was a merino jersey I found on sale at Fabric Mart (long since sold out).  I hesitated the first time they had merino jersey, and I missed out, so when this appeared, I snapped it up.  Merino was on my list of fabrics to try.  I also used the scraps of light blue washable wool jersey from Fabrications I had left over from my Strathcona Henley.  I was surprised to find that I liked the merino less that I expected to.  It’s a good weight and all that, but initially when I put it on, it has that very slightly scratchy wool feel.  (To be fair, Fabric Mart did say this had a “slight wool feel”.)  I stop noticing it after a few minutes, but that was a surprise to me.  It also tends to attract all the hair and fuzzies in the washer and dryer (yes, I wash it on cool and dry it on low a lot of times–I prewashed and dried so I could do this without fear of shrinkage).  It would be interesting to be able to feel different versions of merino in person to see if that “wool feel” is typical or not.  This is less of a problem with the yellow wool/Lycra ponte I used in my Strathcona Henley.

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

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

While I always prefer to shop for fabric in person, it’s not always possible.  Both Fabric Mart and Cali Fabrics are online shops I like for their competitive pricing, variety of choices, and sales (in the case of Fabric Mart).  I’ve only shopped at Fabrications online once, but was very, very impressed with their customer service.

Pattern and Sewing Details

I cut a 44 in the bust and 46 in the waist and hips of Version C.  I tried using Eloflex thread, the slightly stretchy thread from Coats, but it didn’t work well with these shirts.  I also found that a stretch needle didn’t work well, but a 70/10 jersey needle did.  I used polyester Gütermann thread in the top of my machine and woolly/bulky nylon in the bobbin.  I lightened up the presser foot pressure, and used a zigzag stitch for construction and a twin needle for my hems and neckband topstitching.  It was really fun to use some contrasting thread in these spots on my blue shirt.

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

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

I also added clear elastic to the shoulder seams as instructed to keep them from stretching out.

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

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

Rather than using a straight stitch to attach the elbow patches on the blue shirt, I used a zigzag stitch (so there would still be some stretch) and then went over it again with a satin stitch (a closely spaced zigzag stitch).  The zigzag alone didn’t look that nice and  the satin stitch alone caused tunneling.  For some reason, this combination of the two was a winner.

 

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

I really, really like these shirts.  As I look at the pictures now, I can see some drag lines around the armhole, but that’s an area of fitting I haven’t really delved into yet and, in a knit, these are more than good enough–they’re great.  I would love to fill my drawer with Plantains in a variety of fabrics.  This pattern is a quick and easy sew—a real winner.

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

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

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

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

Recommendations

  • I checked out The Cool Factor by Andrea Linett from the library thinking it was probably a do’s and don’ts of fashion kind of book (I’m not super into that), but that I might find a little inspiration.  Well, I was wrong.  It’s a GREAT book where the author rounded up her most fashionable friends and showcased their style, breaking down how they think about creating their outfits.  This is definitely NOT a do’s and don’ts book.  It was really fun and inspirational, and it got me thinking that fashion is a kind of everyday art anyone can participate in if they want to.  Unless you’re a nudist, we all have to get dressed.  I found inspiration even from looks that are very different from what I would wear myself.  Now I have new ideas and types of clothes I want to try.

I Knit a Hat That Actually Fits! Meraki in Hedgehog Fibres and Malabrigo

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I Knit a Hat That Actually Fits!  Meraki in Hedgehog Fibres and Malabrigo

Ever since I discovered my love of sewing (and my proclivity to knit things that were WAY too big, even after making a gauge), knitting has really taken a backseat in my creative life.  However, you hang out at a shop that sells gorgeous yarn long enough and you just might get tempted.  So, thanks to Sip & Stitch and hanging around Pintuck & Purl, I started knitting again.  One thing I am learning is that, at this point in my creative life, I’m more interested in making a finished object than the textile the object is going to be made from.  This is interesting because in the time between knitting and sewing, I had dreams of being a fabric designer.  I’m not ruling that out, but I think that my love of making a finished object over making my creative materials holds a clue as to why I may do more sewing than knitting.  The truth is, though, that I’ve missed knitting.  While I want to put most of my mental energy into improving my sewing skills, I miss having a simple, small knitting project going that I can work on while talking to friends or watching TV.  So maybe for now I’ll knit hats and cowls.

Meraki Hat in Hedgehog Fibres and Malabrigo

This project was yarn-led.  I had a mini skein of Hedgehog Fibres sock yarn in Boombox.  Someone like me who isn’t great at sizing and wants results quickly, has little business buying sock yarn, but the colors were so great that I couldn’t resist!  The hand-dyed yarn these days is amazing!  I stumbled upon this free hat pattern on the Hedgehog Fibres site after rejecting my first few ideas of how to use the yarn.  This pattern was perfect for me.  It would allow me to try out the super-cool fade technique that’s popular right now, but on a really small scale.  You get to hold the yarn double for this hat, which makes things go faster (or at least seem like they are going faster), and it’s mostly stockinette, so it’s perfect to work on while you talk to people.

Meraki Hat in Hedgehog Fibres and Malabrigo

So, let’s talk about the hat.  I took the time to make a gauge swatch (actually, several) because I tend to knit very loosely.  I used this helpful blog post for swatching in the round to make sure my knitting would be accurate.  In the end, I used size 1 (US) double-pointed needles for the main body of the hat, which meant using size 0 (US) double-pointed needles for the ribbing.

This was my first time trying a fade, and if I were to do it again, I would choose my colors differently.  This looks more like messy stripes rather than a hat that fades from one color to another, but thanks to this project, I feel like I understand the technique a lot better, and could choose colors that would fade better next time.

Meraki Hat in Hedgehog Fibres and Malabrigo

For yarn, I used black Malabrigo sock yarn for the ribbing at the bottom of the hat (Color A).  Following the black yarn I used Hedgehog Fibres sock yarn from Pintuck & Purl in North Hampton, NH.  The purple (Color B) is called Spell, and then the white with flecks (Color C) is a combination of Cheeky (white with black and pink flecks, left over from the light colored cowl in this post) and Boombox (white with many bright colored flecks).  I ran out of the purple about a half-inch before I was supposed to change, so I just started the change earlier.  I did make some mistakes at the very bottom of the ribbing, but I decided I could live with it and I moved on. (I like to ignore my mistakes when possible.)  The Hedgehog yarn does like to split a little bit, but it wasn’t too hard to watch for that, and it didn’t become much of an issue.

Meraki Hat in Hedgehog Fibres and Malabrigo

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Meraki Hat in Hedgehog Fibres and Malabrigo

I’m really happy with my hat.  This is probably the best fitting hat that I have made to date, and I would both recommend it and make it again.  It’s a good way to use up odds and ends or mini skeins, and the fade is really fun.  I love the knit fabric the sock yarn creates.  It also doesn’t hurt that the pattern is free.  And finally, if you are a Hedgehog Fibres fan and plan to use that yarn, the pattern gives you suggested colorways to help you create successful gradients, which is a nice touch.  I’m so glad I tried this.

Meraki Hat in Hedgehog Fibres and Malabrigo

Recommendations

  • I can’t remember where I saw this recommendation (maybe Sew News Magazine?), but I just checked out Closet Essentials by Amber McNaught from the library, and it’s really fun!  It’s a fashion book that shows different clothing items and gives you various ideas about how to wear and style them.  I find it very inspiring for sewing ideas, even if I do already have a mental sewing list a million miles long!
  • Have you looked at Making Magazine?  I have to say, I’m getting intrigued.  I had just started listening to the Woolful podcast so I could learn more about the knitting world when it merged with Making magazine and broadened its scope.  Then I managed to flip through a few issues, and found the magazine very beautiful and interesting.  It is quarterly and is priced and laid out more like a soft-cover book than a typical magazine.  It’s also not specific to only one type of craft, and each issue has a guiding theme.  I plan on keeping my eye on future issues in case there is one I can’t live without.  😉

Strathcona + Plantain=A Strathcona Henley for Me!

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Strathcona + Plantain=A Strathcona Henley for Me!

Today’s project is one I’ve wanted to make for a long time.  And I finally did it!  It’s a Strathcona Henley for me!

Strathcona + Plantain=A Strathcona Henley for Me!

I love a rugged, outdoorsy look, and part of that look for me is the henley shirt, which is a t-shirt with set-in sleeves or raglan sleeves and a partial placket in front.  I’ve long liked this style, and after making a Strathcona Henley from Thread Theory for my husband in 2016, I wanted one for myself.  I looked around and never found the right women’s pattern, so I decided to adapt this men’s pattern.  After making the Plantain T-shirt, a free pattern from Deer and Doe (coming soon to a blog near you!), I realized it would work well for the hip size that I would need to use to make the Strathcona fit me.

Strathcona + Plantain=A Strathcona Henley for Me!

Here’s what I did:  I used the top of the Strathcona Henley Variation 1 (size XL) for the shoulders, chest, waist, and length.  I used the Plantain T-shirt (size 46) for the width at the hips.  I also shortened the sleeves of the Strathcona by 3.75″, which is approximately the length of the original sleeve minus the cuff.  I basically moved the cuff up.  I also omitted the hem band, just folding the bottom edge up once and hemming.

Strathcona + Plantain=A Strathcona Henley for Me!

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Strathcona + Plantain=A Strathcona Henley for Me!

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Strathcona + Plantain=A Strathcona Henley for Me!

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Strathcona + Plantain=A Strathcona Henley for Me!

Notes on a few specific steps:  The placket was tricky.  I definitely recommend hand basting the placket in place, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to interface it.  I think Step 8 should probably say that you should be looking at the RIGHT side of the garment and placket after flipping the placket through, and Step 17 should say to close BOTH ends of the binding in the second sentence.  It’s also important to note that if you do the angle-ended neck band, the point will not match the end of the placket unless you stretch it about 5/8″ beyond the placket.  However if you leave it as is (a bit short of the end of the placket), it will form a nice V shape when the placket is buttoned.

Strathcona + Plantain=A Strathcona Henley for Me!

Fabric and pattern notes:  I bought my pattern at Pintuck & Purl back when I made my husband’s version.  All fabric for this shirt was a birthday gift from my parents.  They let me pick it out from Fabrications in Richland, MI.  The main part of the shirt is a maize wool/Lycra ponte and the cuffs, neckband, and placket are a light blue merino jersey, both of which are a washable wool (and both no longer on the website).  I can’t say enough good things about the customer service from Fabrications.  They spent a lot of time with my parents and me over the phone so I could get an idea of what they had and how it would pair with the sewing projects I had in mind.  Then I picked out some swatches using their swatch service, which they quickly mailed to me.  Once I picked the ones I liked, I sent the information to my parents, who ordered them (Yes!  Thanks, Mom and Dad!), and Fabrications sent them right out.  They also sent a handy little card that helps you calculate yardage for different widths of fabric.  I love those little touches.  Anyway, after my experience with them, I highly recommend the shop and hope to visit in person at some point in the future.

Strathcona + Plantain=A Strathcona Henley for Me!

The buttons I used were a mix of vintage and new, which is fun.  The fact that the bottom button (the new one) is a slightly different color does bug me, but I decided to let it go.  Finished is better than perfect (an important reminder when making this placket, too)!

Strathcona + Plantain=A Strathcona Henley for Me!

And that’s it!  I’m so glad to finally have a henley of my own, made by me, with the oversize fit that I wanted.  I love it.  My winter wardrobe has gotten really good after a few years of dedicated sewing time.  It’s a great feeling.

Strathcona + Plantain=A Strathcona Henley for Me!

Recommendations

  • I actually have some recommendations for you this week!  Soon after I finished this shirt, Itch to Stitch came out with the Visby Henley & Top, a women’s pattern for a raglan sleeve henley or top that also has a hood option.  This is a pattern I’m thinking of trying next year.  I’ve heard great things about this company.
  • I was running short on time a few weeks ago and needed some coffee.  Finding myself in the grocery store, I was smelling the offerings from New England Coffee and was considering the Blueberry Cobbler flavor when someone walked by and told me it was their favorite.  Sold!  I’m not going to tell you this tastes/smells 100% natural, but I will tell you I liked it.  😉
  • Well, you won’t be surprised after this post, but I really like the Plantain T-Shirt from Deer and Doe.  One of my friends kept telling me how much she liked this pattern, but I dragged my feet for a long time.  I am so glad I finally tried this FREE pattern.  It’s excellent and just what I wanted.  I’ve made two.  Hopefully you’ll see them on the blog next month.

 

Flying Geese Patchwork Bag: Winter Wool Version

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Flying Geese Patchwork Bag:  Winter Wool Version

I have something a little bit different from what I normally sew for you today—a bag!  This is the Flying Geese Patchwork Bag designed by Giuseppe Ribaudo for the Bernina blog.

Flying Geese Patchwork Bag:  Winter Version

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Flying Geese Patchwork Bag:  Winter Version

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Flying Geese Patchwork Bag:  Winter Version

I made a summer version of this bag that I love and used daily…until recently.  I had already been thinking about making a winter version of this bag in wool, since I had both black and gray wool sitting in my stash, but when Maggie at Pintuck & Purl asked if she could put my bag on display in her new shop window in North Hampton, NH along with a number of other staff and customer projects, I knew it was time.  Actually, when she asked, my initial reaction was, “No way!  I use that bag every day!”  Luckily, that part stayed in my head, rather than coming out of my mouth.  My husband pointed out that it was an honor I would be sad to pass up, and after considering his wise words, I agreed.  It was also the push I needed to make my winter version…before the end of winter.

So here we are!  I did it, and I LOVE it!

Flying Geese Patchwork Bag:  Winter Version

If you have some sewing experience, I think you can make this bag with the information provided.  I’m not a quilter or a bag maker, so I had to read the directions carefully to make sure I got everything right.  I actually printed them out and made myself a little instruction packet I could mark up.  There are a few things that, as a non-quilter, I found a little bit confusing or unclear.  This meant I had to call my emergency quilting hotline (my Mom) for help.  So this is for anyone who isn’t already a quilter or just wants some extra tips.

A good thing for non-quilters need to know is that this bag is sewn with quarter-inch seams throughout, except where noted.  Grainline doesn’t seem to be a consideration here.  I think as long as you cut your strips on the straight grain or on the cross-grain, you’ll be good.  It’s also important to note that quilters don’t always backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam.  I couldn’t bring myself to do this.  I kept thinking that this bag had to be durable and able to take weight, so I backstitched everything.  I also wasn’t sure how to press my seams—open?  to the side?  In the end, I pressed them to the side.  I could really tell on the flying geese (the white triangles) when I had pressed in the best direction (up, toward the top of the triangles worked best for me) because they looked crisp.  Probably, though, it didn’t matter so much anywhere else.  I also added a little bit of interfacing to the bottom tabs of the bag where the grommets will go, just for a little more strength.  In addition, I stitched twice around the bottom of my bag (outer layer and lining) both with a quarter-inch seam allowance and a 3/8″ seam allowance.  Maybe it’s not necessary, but it makes me feel better.  There were a few more minor spots where I was confused, but I figured them out.  If you make this and find yourself confused, feel free to leave a comment and I can tell you what I did, if that would be helpful.

Flying Geese Patchwork Bag:  Winter Version

Above is a picture of the bag empty, so you can see the design.  Below is how it looks with things inside.  The design is more obscured, but still cool.

Flying Geese Patchwork Bag:  Winter Version

The template provided was great as was the link to the tutorial on foundation paper piecing by Jennifer Mathis.  I watched it a few times to make sure I was getting everything right.  I also appreciated the detailed instructions on where to place the grommets.  The photography in the bag tutorial is gorgeous, which got me really excited to sew this, and the end product—the bag—is beautiful AND functional—win-win.

Flying Geese Patchwork Bag:  Winter Version

Here is where I found my supplies for anyone thinking of making this:

  • The black wool and gray wool were from my stash, but the white wool came from Pintuck & Purl.  Also, unlike many people, I prewash my wool in hot or warm water and dry it in a hot dryer whenever I think I can get away with it so that I can wash it without fear of shrinkage going forward.
  • The flannel was a Mammoth Flannel from Robert Kaufman Fabrics, bought at Pintuck & Purl.
  • Grommets, rope, and interfacing came from JoAnn Fabrics.  I couldn’t find the rope, which is Simplicity brand, in every JoAnn’s.  I had to got to one of the larger stores for it.  I found it in the trim section.

Rope for Flying Geese Patchwork Bag

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Flying Geese Patchwork Bag:  Winter Version

This bag was totally worth the time away from garment sewing.  I use it every day and really love it.  That being said, I’m ready to get back to sewing clothes. Have any of you tried making this?  Do you plan to?  If you’ve made it, let us know in the comments!

Style Arc Josie Hoody/Hoodie in Polartec Power Stretch

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Style Arc Josie Hoody/Hoodie in Polartec Power Stretch

It’s taken so long for this project to make it to the blog, but here it is:  the Style Arc Josie Hoody/Hoodie in pink Polartec Power Stretch.  (I’m not quite sure how to spell the “hoody” part of the name since my printed copy spells it with a “y” and the PDF on the Style Arc website is spelled with an “ie”.  Either way, it’s the same pattern.)

Style Arc Josie Hoody/Hoodie in Polartec Power Stretch

This sweatshirt is the ultimate in coziness, and a big part of that is fabric choice.  The pattern and fabric were birthday presents from my kids, and I’m so happy that they got them for me.  I fell in love with this pattern when I saw Devon Iott’s version (@missmake on Instagram), and after sleuthing around the internet looking at different iterations, I put it on my wishlist.  Did you know you can buy printed versions of some of Style Arc’s patterns on Amazon?  They come printed on nice, sturdy paper.

Style Arc Josie Hoody/Hoodie in Polartec Power Stretch

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Style Arc Josie Hoody/Hoodie in Polartec Power Stretch

The fabric is Polartec Power Stretch from Mill Yardage.  For the last few years I have gotten Polartec/Malden Mills brand fleece either at Field’s Fabrics in Kalamazoo, MI or millyardage.com.  When I order from Mill Yardage, I often look at the seconds because, although Polartec has marked them as lower quality, whatever defect they have isn’t obvious, which means great fabric at a lower price.  After trying Power Stretch one year, I fell in love with it for its soft, stretchy fluffiness, which makes it so comfortable.  I thought this color and type of fabric would make a great Josie Hoody.  The only downside is that it can get dirty a little more quickly than a darker color, especially around the cuffs.  So far, any dirt has come out in the wash, though.

Style Arc Josie Hoody/Hoodie in Polartec Power Stretch

When sewing the pattern, I thought I would be really smart and lengthen it and add some pockets.  I wanted to make sure the sweatshirt covered my backside because I had visions of myself wearing this and leggings, all snuggled up inside on a snowy day or going over to a friend’s house for coffee some cold morning dressed in my sporty sweatshirt.  Some of the versions I had seen online were made by people shorter than me, and the fit looked great.  I’m 5′ 8.5″, and I wanted to be fully covered.  I added 4″ to the length, and then I saw a sweatshirt my sister had with pockets!  That seemed brilliant.  Tilly and the Buttons had a free pocket pattern with a little tutorial for adding them and I thought, “I hardly ever hack patterns.  It’s time to up my game a bit and at least start adding pockets to everything.  This will be great.”

It wasn’t great.

The length turned the cool sweatshirt into a sweatshirt dress that didn’t really look cool.  And the pockets gaped, turning my not very cool sweatshirt dress into a cocoon dress (i.e. big hips when that wasn’t what I was going for).  Yikes!  I was down to only scraps of Polartec, so I had to be careful and seam rip the hem facing so I could save it, remove the pockets, sew up the side seams, and cut off the extra length before reapplying the hem facing.  Luckily, all my “super cool pattern hacks” proved to be reversible and, amazingly, the pattern was just great as originally drafted.  Imagine that!  😉

Style Arc Josie Hoody/Hoodie in Polartec Power Stretch

Although I tend to prefer zip-up sweatshirts to over-the-head sweatshirts, this quickly became a favorite.  I love the light color, the feel and squishiness of the fabric, and the style of the pattern.  I did take a little off the top of the hood so that it would fit better, but in a drapier fabric, I might leave it so that the hood stays nice and deep.

Style Arc Josie Hoody/Hoodie in Polartec Power Stretch

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Style Arc Josie Hoody/Hoodie in Polartec Power Stretch

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Style Arc Josie Hoody/Hoodie in Polartec Power Stretch

This is my first finished project for my 2018 Make Nine plans, and also my first Style Arc pattern.  I would definitely make this again and hope to use Power Stretch again as well.  For those who like technical details, here they are:

  • I graded from a 12 at the bust to a 16 at the hip, and from a 12 at the armscye to a 16 sleeve as soon as I was able.  I used the size 12 hood.

Style Arc Josie Hoody/Hoodie in Polartec Power Stretch

  • I omitted the drawstring, and didn’t use interfacing.
  • Needles:  stretch 90/14 and double needle (probably stretch)
  • Thread:  top thread–pink cotton-covered polyester (old); bobbin–taupe bulky/woolly nylon
    • Note:  some of my double needle stitches have come undone.  I’m not sure if this is because I used older thread or for some other reason.  I use older thread that’s been given to me all the time and haven’t had any problems so far, so it’s hard to tell if this is the issue.

Style Arc Josie Hoody/Hoodie in Polartec Power Stretch

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Style Arc Josie Hoody/Hoodie in Polartec Power Stretch

  • Walking foot
  • Light presser foot pressure, normal tension, three-step zigzag stitch (4.5 width, 0.5 length)

This is a great sweatshirt that is quick to make and great to wear.  I definitely recommend it!

Style Arc Josie Hoody/Hoodie in Polartec Power Stretch

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Style Arc Josie Hoody/Hoodie in Polartec Power Stretch

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Style Arc Josie Hoody/Hoodie in Polartec Power Stretch

 

 

 

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat in Duck Canvas and Broadcloth

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Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat in Duck Canvas and Broadcloth

This is a case of unselfish sewing, surprising though it may be.  😉  Today’s project is the Belvedere Waistcoat (vest) from Thread Theory Designs.

Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

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Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

I made this vest for my husband before Christmas, and we were both very happy with how it turned out.  In buying this pattern, I broke one of my norms, and bought a PDF pattern, which is not my preference, but after looking around at the available patterns, and even buying a Vogue pattern, we realized that this was the one my husband really wanted.  At this point, it is only available as a PDF.  This is a great pattern because there are two options:  an easy waistcoat, and a tailored waistcoat, so if you are a beginner or are looking for a quick vest pattern, you’re covered.  If you want to delve deeper and try your hand at something involving tailoring, welt pockets, etc., you’re also covered.

Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

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Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

We were inspired to use canvas by a friend’s vest, purchased from Historical Emporium, which is also made of canvas.  My husband isn’t very formal, so he liked the idea of a vest that was both detailed and sturdy.  I had leftover brown duck canvas from the first pair of cargo pants I made him (Thread Theory’s Jutland Pants), and so rather than making a muslin, we decided on a wearable muslin in this fabric.  I found an inexpensive poly/cotton broadcloth at JoAnn Fabrics to use as a lining as well as the buttons I needed.  We were ready!

Luckily the fit was great, and the only things we would do differently next time are to lengthen the torso by two inches since he is tall with a long torso, and take a small wedge (about 5/8″) out of the center back seam, tapering it to nothing 5″ up from the bottom.  Luckily the wedge adjustment was something we were able to do while this version was in progress, and it really improved the fit for him.  Now that I’m thinking about it, some higher quality interfacing would also be a good idea next time.

Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

Like any time I sew for someone else, I usually procrastinate a bit.  I think I’m worried about the garment fitting and, in this case, I wasn’t sure how complex this pattern would be.  I was happy to see that when I finally got into it, if I just followed the directions step by step, I made it through just fine.

One part where I ran into a little bit of trouble (which was completely my own fault) was when I was clipping the seams where the front of the vest and the facing join. On one side I wasn’t very careful and I clipped through not only the seam allowance, but also the facing.

Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

It took me a few deep breaths and some thought to figure out how to fix that one, since I didn’t want it to unravel.  I settled on sewing some bias tape over it, and it was fine.  (Thank goodness!)

Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

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Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

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Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

Next time I’ll be more careful.

I found it helpful when making the welt pockets (which went just fine, thankfully) to use a zipper foot when sewing over the little triangle tabs at the side.  This helped me get as close as possible to the base of the triangle.  I haven’t made many welt pockets before, so I was happy with how these turned out.

Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

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Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

We also decided to add in the optional side vents, which turned out well.

Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

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Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

We decided to leave the last (non-functioning) buttonhole off the bottom of the waistcoat.  It was his preference to only have functional buttonholes, and since this is for him, I wanted to make it just how he wanted it.

Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

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Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

I’m so happy to report that he loves it and it looks terrific on him!  When it was finished, and I saw it on him, I really felt it was something I could be proud of.  That’s a great feeling.

Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

While I did get him to agree to let me snap a few pictures of him wearing it, I know it’s not his favorite thing to do, and I’m anxious to blog this project before I forget the details.  If I end up getting a good picture of him wearing it, I’ll update the post.  At some point, I hope to make him another version with the modifications we noted for next time using higher quality materials.

Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

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Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

 

 

 

Lander Pant, Take One

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Lander Pant, Take One

After making three pairs of Ginger Jeans (1, 2, 3) as well as a few other pairs of pants, I’m finally getting in my pants-sewing groove.  I still don’t feel like I have pants-fitting down, but I’m not afraid to try any more.  When the Lander Pant & Short pattern from True Bias came out, I was excited (ok, really excited).  I had already given away all my thrifted skinny jeans, and was feeling the need for some looser pants, or at least nothing tighter than the stovepipe leg view of the Ginger Jeans.  These looked like just what I was after, so I did something I’ve never done before–I preordered the paper pattern.

Lander Pant from True Bias in Denim

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Lander Pant from True Bias in Denim

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Lander Pant from True Bias in Denim

I already had some inexpensive non-stretch denim in my stash from Fabric Place Basement in Natick, MA, and plenty of thread, interfacing, and jeans buttons, so I was ready to go.  When I got the pattern, I decided on View C, the boot length pant and traced a size 12 waist and size 16 hip.  I also decided to lengthen the pattern by 4″ since I’m 5′ 8.5″ and this pattern was drafted for someone who is 5′ 5″ tall (I ended up only needing 2.5″ of extra length, however).  I told myself this was a wearable muslin, in the hopes that it would work out and I could wear it.

Lander Pant from True Bias in Denim

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Lander Pant from True Bias in Denim

The instructions are very clear and helpful, although I did a few things differently.  Like with the Ginger Jeans, I opted to put my back pockets on last, so I could place them while wearing the pants.  I also changed the method for making belt loops, which I felt was just too tricky.  Using a loop turner on denim is not for me!  It’s much easier to cut your fabric strip for your belt loops, turn your seam allowances in and press them, and then topstitch everything closed and cut the long strip apart into belt loops.  These things are minor personal preferences.

The part I really had trouble with was the waistband and crotch seam.  The pants fit great until the point where I added the waistband.  Despite using my measurements to determine my size in that area (and I double checked to make sure I had them right), the waistband was uncomfortably tight.  It was also very high, sitting above my belly button, at my natural waist.  This is what the pattern promises as far as the waist height.  After trying it on, though, and feeling how uncomfortable the waistband was, I decided to go off-book and lower the rise and recut the waistband.  This is not the correct way to lower the rise of pants, but with the jeans near complete, it was the only option.

Lander Pant from True Bias in Denim

I decided I wanted to lower them about 1.75″ (or the finished width of my  original waistband), so I marked new stitching and cutting lines and cut a new waistband 7″ longer, and sewed that on.  I decided to cut the pants down after sewing so I could make sure I was on the right track before crossing the point of no return.

Lander Pant from True Bias in Denim

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Lander Pant from True Bias in Denim

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Lander Pant from True Bias in Denim

This was more comfortable, but it also meant I needed to curve the waistband a bit.  I added some darts (which added a few drag lines, but what are you gonna do?), and this seemed workable.

Lander Pant from True Bias in Denim

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Lander Pant from True Bias in Denim

I tried the pants on and was pretty happy with them.  They are SUPER wide-legged as drafted, but I decided to keep the width and try them out for a while.  Mine also have more ease in the hips than many other versions I’ve seen online, but I chose my hip size according to my measurements, and find the fit in the hips really comfortable.

Lander Pant from True Bias in Denim

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Lander Pant from True Bias in Denim

I liked the back view, and was happy with them when standing, but after wearing them for a few days, I realized I COULD NOT wear them any longer.  Something is up with the crotch seam such that it cuts into me in the front when sitting, and I cannot wear them any more until I figure that out.  I really hate going back into a project once it’s done, but I put them in my mending pile, and I’m going to compare the crotch seam of this pattern with the crotch seam of the Ginger Jeans, which are very comfortable, and see what the difference is.  I’m hoping I can add in a (hopefully invisible) patch to lengthen the front seam or something so that these can at least be wearable.  I think my Jutland pants actually need this adjustment too, although they are not nearly as uncomfortable (in fact, this is something I have only noticed recently).  It looks like I have a little sleuthing to do, which means I get to learn more about pants fitting.  Right?

Lander Pant from True Bias in Denim

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Lander Pant from True Bias in Denim

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Lander Pant from True Bias in Denim

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Lander Pant from True Bias in Denim

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Lander Pant from True Bias in Denim

My overall analysis is that this is a good pattern, the instructions are well done, and Kelly of True Bias has actually put out a design that is different from what everyone else is doing (in a really good way).  As more and more pattern companies come on the scene, it seems to be harder and harder to find unique patterns, so I like that these aren’t available in 1,000 iterations from every company.  If you are thinking about this pattern, I would say: go for it.  Every pattern will have to be fitted to your unique body, and as hard as that can be at times, it also helps us learn and become better at this craft that we love.

Lander Pant from True Bias in Denim

Recommendations

  • Have you seen the Google Arts & Culture app?  I haven’t explored it fully, but my family and I did have some fun with the selfie feature that pairs your picture with a piece of art the app thinks looks like you.  I managed to get two pairings to different selfies:Matching people to art:  Google Arts & Culture

    and

Matching people to art:  Google Arts & Culture

You can read all about this in this article on Google’s blog.

  • I’ve really been enjoying listening through some of the fiction works of writer Wendell Berry (most recently Hannah Coulter and That Distant Land).  He creates a community that isn’t perfect, but still manages to make me want to be my best self.
  • I think I could make a coat like this men’s wool shirt jacket from L.L. Bean by using Simplicity 4109.  One day, I WILL realize my shirt jacket dreams! 😉
  • Funny stuff from Jimmy Fallon and Will Ferrell:

Simplicity 4111 (Built by Wendy) Top in “Winged” Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 (Built by Wendy) Top in “Winged” Fabric

I am so glad to be here sharing sewing projects with you again!  It feels like it’s been forever since I published a sewing project post!  Today’s was almost without photos of the garment in action, because I couldn’t find the pictures I had taken of the shirt while I was wearing it.  Oh, blog photography!  It’s definitely the most challenging part of blogging for me.

Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

Today I want to talk about Simplicity 4111, a pattern that is out of print but, I would argue, still in style.  This pattern is a Built by Wendy pattern (although the line is technically called “Built by You”), a collaboration between designer Wendy Mullin and Simplicity.  I’ve had this pattern for ages, since before I started sewing regularly, but haven’t made it until now.  I paired it with a fabric I’ve also had for some time:  “Aves Chatter Dim” from the “Winged” collection by Bonnie Christine for Art Gallery Fabrics, bought a few years ago at The Material Girls in Dearborn, MI.  Originally I planned to make a button up shirt with it (because most woven cotton fabric looks like it would make a good button up shirt to me, actually), but in the end, I think this was a better use for it.

Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

After measuring the flat pattern, I determined that I wouldn’t need a broad back adjustment.  You can bet I was pretty thrilled, albeit skeptical about that.  I cut a size 16 bust, 18 waist, and 20 hip, and chose to make View B with long sleeves.  I wasn’t sure where the elastic that is supposed to sit under the bust would hit, but I decided to just go for it.

Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

It is so interesting that you can both love and not love how a pattern turns out.  This shirt in this fabric is so, so beautiful to me.  I love it.  However…I really did need that broad back adjustment (next time!) and the under-bust elastic is a little high for me, giving the shirt a curious bust-minimizing effect.  To be fair, this is the look on the pattern envelope, but I would prefer the elastic a little lower.  After running it by my friends at Sip & Stitch, this is what I think I need to adjust for next time:  do my normal major broad back adjustment for comfort and lower the front elastic by an inch or so.  Thanks (again!) to Stacy, who really knows her stuff when it comes to fitting and pattern drafting.

Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

Here are a few detail shots:

Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

So, I kind of want to make this again in the next few months while simultaneously regretting that I don’t love the fit on the beautiful shirt that I have.  I’m going to try to wear it anyway.  What sort of fabric should I use for round two?!  (I love planning projects!!!)

After making this, I got on a little bit of a Built by Wendy kick and looked up Wendy Mullin, her work, and her patterns and books, and I have to say that a number of her patterns are ones that I really like.  Thanks to this rabbit hole, I purchased two of her patterns: Simplicity 3966 on Etsy and Simplicity 4109 on eBay.  Maybe 3966 would make a good spring jacket and 4109 could be the basis of a wool shirt jacket?  Both of these and their many possibilities are currently kicking around in my head.  If/When I use them, I will report back.  🙂

Recommendations

  • Thanks to the Wednesday Weekly blog post from Helen’s Closet, I am finding so many new things!  One I am really excited about is the free Stash Shrinker Excel file from SewJourners that you can use to help you sew the fabric you already have before buying more.  I have so much good fabric in my stash, but I get distracted by all the new and pretty things that come along and sometimes my good buys of yesterday languish.  I’m hoping this will help me bring that fabric goodness to my closet instead of losing it in my fabric cabinet.  😉
  • Since we were talking about Built by Wendy, did you know she has four instructional sewing books?  I currently have them checked out of the library.  I just love flipping through craft and cook books.  In case you want to check them out, too, they are:  Sew U, Sew U Homestretch, Sew U Dresses, and Sew U Coats and Jackets.  They each come with several patterns.  You can also find them used at various spots online.
  • Here’s a fun time-waster for you!  The Akinator will guess any movie or literary character you can think of (although I have tricked him a few times!).  Give it a try.  It’s pretty amazing.  Just make sure to check the “under 13” option if you are using the site with kids.
  • Here is a sport I never even imagined!  Welcome to the world of cycle-ball:

 

 

Field Trip: The Georgia O’Keeffe Exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA

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Field Trip:  The Georgia O’Keeffe Exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA

I went on a field trip last week to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA to see Georgia O’Keeffe:  Art, Image, Style.  I heard this exhibit was coming way back in May on the Thread Cult podcast.  It was exciting because the exhibit isn’t just about her paintings, but also contains her clothing, some of which she sewed.  I had a free pass to the museum and I saved it just for this show.

Georgia O'Keeffe at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA

Georgia O’Keeffe is not one of my favorite painters, but having studied art, and now applying my artistic side through making clothing for myself, this exhibit sounded exciting to me.  I certainly wasn’t disappointed.  I loved it.  The funny thing is, it wasn’t the paintings that I loved or her exact clothing style.  I loved seeing the two together with images of her by various photographers, seeing her tiny, tiny stitches, seeing how she created her own style.  I’ve never read a biography of Georgia O’Keeffe, so I don’t know what her personality was like, but going through the exhibit gave me a sense of someone who found out what she liked and quietly went with it (feel free to set me straight in the comments if she was loud and dramatic or something).

Georgia O'Keeffe at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA

Because sewing has become my own form of creative expression, I was moved to see how she created her own style that exemplified who she was…and she did it at an amazingly high skill level.  The miniscule and beautiful stitches, pintucks, and mending on her clothing was wonderful to me.  She sewed her clothing by hand!

Georgia O'Keeffe at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA

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Georgia O'Keeffe at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA

These tiny lines in the fabric are pintucks–small folds of fabric that she created and stitched down by hand.

Georgia O'Keeffe at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA

Garments shown above are all believed to have been sewn by Georgia O’Keeffe.  These pictures really cannot convey the beautiful and precise hand stitches she used.

The exhibit was divided into two parts–before she went to New Mexico and after.  Sewing wasn’t her main mode of expression, and as she went on in her career, she started to have others make her clothing, but even when she wasn’t sewing for herself, she used her apparel to express who she was.  It wasn’t a loud explosion of color or attention-grabbing fashion.  She quietly found her style and stayed with it, but when you see her fashion choices in the time after she began visiting New Mexico, things start to feel very contemporary.  Some of the clothing she was choosing then is what people wear every day now.

Georgia O'Keeffe at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA

These garments weren’t sewn by Georgia O’Keeffe.  The styles are still in vogue today.

It wasn’t about being sexy, grabbing attention, or screaming at other people to follow her.  It was just about what she liked.  And you know what?  We are following her.  The show ends with a recent Dior fashion show that has numerous elements obviously inspired by O’Keeffe.

There is something really compelling about someone who quietly does their thing.  I’m tired of the loud and blustery.  I’ve done it, but I think I respect this more.  Even if my take on this show isn’t a clear and accurate picture of who she was, it certainly caused me to think.  It’s ok to carve out a unique path in fashion and in art.  It doesn’t have to be overly sexualized, because we’re more than that as people.  It doesn’t have to be loud to be compelling.  It doesn’t have to be in-your-face to make a difference.  Sometimes quiet diligence is what prevails.

This exhibit is showing through April 1, 2018.  You can see more pictures of the exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum’s website as well as on my Flickr page.

Recommendations

  • The Peabody Essex Museum has an excellent gift shop.  They have all sorts goods related generally to art and specifically to their exhibits, currently including black hats as that was a distinctive item of apparel that O’Keeffe adopted in her New Mexico years.  I found my own black hat that really felt like me.  Fashion and art take courage because both involve putting yourself out there.  I’m going to wear this until it doesn’t feel awkward any more, because I LOVE it.

Georgia O'Keeffe at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA

  • O’Keeffe was influenced by the writing and art of Arthur Wesley Dow, which reminded me of how much I love his work.  Some of his landscape paintings and his use of color really stop me in my tracks.
  • Since we were talking about fashion, I really like some of Dansko’s ankle boots lately.  Comfortable and good-looking!