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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommendations

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

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Three Knitted Cowls

It’s time for a little knitting…only a very little, because these days I’m primarily a garment sewer, but before I got serious about sewing, I was serious about knitting.  Lest that give you any false impression of my skillz, let me set you straight.  I’m no expert.  I thought I had progressed pretty far, but I took about a three-year break once I really got into sewing, and in that time, not only did my skills atrophy, I started to realize how much more there was to learn.  I discovered that if I really wanted to, I could become an excellent knitter…but that’s not my goal right now.  Yes.  I just told you I am choosing mediocrity.  😉

So what do I really want out of knitting?  I want fun, small, easy- to moderately-challenging projects that I can do while talking with friends or watching a movie.  I really enjoy knitting, but I don’t want to have to pay too much attention to it or fix mistakes.  I want projects that don’t require perfect sizing, because that’s an area where I struggle, and I’m not ready to give knitting enough attention to fix that.  I want my mental energy to go toward sewing, because right now, that’s where I want to be excellent.

So!  We come to the point where I keep seeing truly gorgeous skeins of yarn.  How can I use them in a project that fits with my requirements?  Looks like it’s time to knit cowls!  Cowls are the perfect project for someone like me.  A cowl, as I’m using the word here, refers to a scarf that is a loop rather than a rectangle.  I can choose a simple cowl and I immediately have a project that is portable, fun, and doesn’t require precise sizing.  Once I figured this out, I made three cowls!  Want to see?

Cowl #1:  The Very Gifted Cowl

This pattern is from Churchmouse Yarns and was free.  It’s very simple, with a cast on, an edging row, a body in basic stockinette stitch, and a bind off.  The pattern also comes with a nice calculator so you can figure out how deep you can make the cowl with one skein of yarn depending on the weight you choose.

The Very Gifted Cowl in Hedgehog Fibres Sock Yarn Cheeky

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The Very Gifted Cowl in Hedgehog Fibres Sock Cheeky

I used sock yarn from Hedgehog Fibres held double in a color called Cheeky.  I just need to tell you that this yarn company is largely responsible for bringing me back to knitting again.  I used to follow the owner, Beata, on Instagram because I just loved her beautiful yarn, but  I had to stop because she was making me want to knit, and I wanted to focus on sewing!  In the end, though, my enabler friend Maggie at Pintuck & Purl, ordered some Hedgehog Fibres yarn for the shop, and that was it.  I had to give it a try.  I really enjoyed knitting with it, even though I normally shy away from such thin yarn.  I still have a tiny bit plus a mini skein left for some future project.

The Very Gifted Cowl in Hedgehog Fibres Sock Cheeky

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The Very Gifted Cowl in Hedgehog Fibres Sock Cheeky

Cowl #2:  Portillo Cowl

This one is by Gale Zucker and is from the book Drop-Dead Easy Knits.  It ticked all the boxes for me because it’s a cowl, it uses big yarn (which means it’s fast), and it’s also easy but still kind of interesting.  You’re just using the garter stitch, but you change color a bit, which gives the cowl a cool look.

Portillo Cowl in Yates Farm Chunky Yarn

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Portillo Cowl in Yates Farm Chunky Yarn

I used yarn from Yates Farm in Windsor, Vermont.  This yarn dates back more than a decade to my initial yarn phase.  I love it and wanted to use some of my partial skeins up.  This was just the right project, but because it’s so chunky, it knits up pretty huge.  This cowl’s going to keep me nice and warm!  I still have a ton of needles from when I started knitting, but I didn’t have circular needles long enough for this project.  In case you find yourself in the same boat, check out this economical option from Amazon.  Score!

Portillo Cowl in Yates Farm Chunky Yarn

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Portillo Cowl in Yates Farm Chunky Yarn

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Portillo Cowl in Yates Farm Chunky Yarn

This cowl is not perfect.  It’s not hard to see where I wove the yarn in or ignored a mistake, but I was going for a pleasant experience over perfection, so it is what it is.  It bugs me a little, but not enough to go back and fix it.  My friend’s and my motto for knitting is:  “Don’t be a stressed-out knitter.”  In other words, feel free to ignore your mistakes if you want to.  So I did.

Cowl #3:  Spidey’s Spiral Cowl

I’ve made this cowl before and given this pattern + yarn to knitting friends as gifts.  You can find it on Ravelry for purchase or you can buy it through your local yarn store (I got mine at Pintuck & Purl).  I really like how interesting it is, and because it uses such nice, chunky yarn, I actually don’t mind going back and fixing mistakes (once in a while).  My attempt last year in Yates Farm chunky yarn didn’t turn out the way I hoped.  It was more like a stiff neck tube, and I think it eventually made its way to the thrift store.

Spidey's Spiral Cowl in Baah Yarn Sequoia Yearling

This time I made it in Baah Yarns Sequoia in a color called Yearling.  I had plans to use a different colorway, but this pink was like cotton candy or a fluffy cloud, and when I saw it at Pintuck & Purl, I knew it had to be mine (See?  Enablers!!!).  I do think the final shape looks a little funny, but I don’t care!  This is the softest, most luscious yarn ever, and I needed to make something with it.  I even saved my tiny scraps, so I could just touch them.

Spidey's Spiral Cowl in Baah Sequoia Yearning

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Spidey's Spiral Cowl in Baah Sequoia Yearning

One thing I will say about this yarn and the Hedgehog is that they smell sort of like a perm.  Have you ever smelled that smell at a salon before?  It’s sort of weird, but I think it’s because of the dyes they have to use.  You really don’t notice it unless you are keeping your project in a plastic bag, so maybe use a cloth bag (or just don’t be surprised)?

So that’s it!  I now have all the cowls!  What on earth am I going to knit now?  Maybe another try on last year’s hat?  I would love to have a version that’s a little longer.

All the cowls and scarves!!!

Thanks to my photographers for making me laugh so much.  Now back to sewing!

Recommendations

  • I updated my blog post on McCall’s 6751 (the cross-back top).  It felt too exposed and unrealistic for my daily life, so I switched out the back piece and it’s so much better now!  You can check out the new look by scrolling to the bottom of the post.
  • Can someone make me this Color Dipped Hat from Purl Soho in these colors so I don’t have to make it for myself?  It’s a free pattern!  If you want to make it for yourself instead, that’s cool too.  😉
  • If you’ve ever wanted to make a popover shirt (I know I do, even though I haven’t done it yet), Liesl has a free popover placket and tutorial on the Oliver + S blog.  Check it out here.

It’s Dirndl Time! Burda Style 7084

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It’s Dirndl Time! Burda Style 7084

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

Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

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

Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

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

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

Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

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Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

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

Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

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

Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

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Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

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

Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

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Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

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Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

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

Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

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It's dirndl time with Burda Style 7084!

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

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

Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

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

Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

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Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

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It's dirndl time with Burda Style 7084!

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

Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

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

Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

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Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

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Dirndl time with Burda Style 7084

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

Recommendations

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

 

McCall’s 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

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McCall’s 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

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

McCall's 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

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

McCall's 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

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McCall's 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

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

McCall's 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

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

McCall's 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

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

McCall's 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

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

McCall's 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

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

McCall's 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

Update

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

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

McCall's 6751 Adjusted

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

McCall's 6751 Adjusted

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

McCall's 6751 Adjusted

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

Recommendations

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

 

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

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

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

McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

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

McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

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McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

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

McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

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McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

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

McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

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McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

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

McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

Recommendations

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

Sewaholic Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

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Sewaholic Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

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

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

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

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

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

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Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

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Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

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Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

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

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

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Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

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

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

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

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

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

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

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

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

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

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

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

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

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

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

Recommendations

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

The Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns

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The Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns

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

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

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

Link to the pattern here.

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

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

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

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

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

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

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

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

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

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

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

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

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

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

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

Recommendations

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

 

Inspired by Surfing: Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

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Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

I’m really excited to share today’s garment with you.  This one was a long time coming, because I thought about it for months before finally starting on it.

In the past few years, surfing has become a fun spectator sport for me, and I’m also inspired by the fashion aspect of surfing.  In my perusal of current surf culture, I’ve noticed a lot of wetsuits/swimsuits that look like long-sleeved, one-piece swimsuits (see some of my inspiration here, here, and here).  I wanted one of my own…and I knew that I had the power to make it!

Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

(front view, above)

Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

(back view, above)

As I thought my plan over, I realized that the perfect pattern for this project wasn’t a swimsuit pattern.  The one that looked closest to what I wanted turned out to be the Nettie Dress & Bodysuit pattern by Closet Case Patterns.  Maggie at Pintuck & Purl was kind enough to order a few copies so I could get on with my project.  Next I started looking around for fabric and inspiration.  Pinterest and Instagram were great for ideas.  And fabric?  Etsy to the rescue–specifically a shop called Ameritexx Spandex.

Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

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Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

Design & Technical Choices

This project was one of my 2017 Summer Sewing projects.  I chose the long-sleeved bodysuit with the high neck and low back in a 12 at the bust and waist and 14 at the hip.  I didn’t want to put a zipper in, so while I originally chose the medium back, I got a little bit worried about how easy it would be to get into and out of, so I decided to go with the lower back.  I also added in a shelf bra (included in the pattern) and padding (traced from other swim cups) for modesty.  I chose to line the body of the suit, but not the sleeves.

Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

Inside, front (above)

Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

Inside back (above)

As far as equipment goes, I made this on my home sewing machine (an Elna 3005, if you are interested) with a stretch needle, a walking foot, and a zigzag stitch.  I used polyester thread (from Gutermann) in my needle and woolly nylon/bulky nylon thread in my bobbin.  My elastic was swimwear elastic and the foam I used in the shelf bra was poly-laminate foam from Sew Sassy.  It’s good for lightly padded bras or swimwear.

Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

the underside of the shelf bra, where you can see the poly laminate foam

When I cut my pattern, I made sure to trace out a full pattern piece (rather than a standard half pattern piece) so that I could cut my fabric in a single layer rather than cutting on the fold.  I also used a rotary cutter.

Process

I always get nervous when I want to sew a swimsuit.  There are so many layers and the fabric is slippery.  You also really need a swimsuit to work–to stay on your body in and out of the water.  Thankfully, this went together really well.  I told myself I would try it on as I went and adjust as necessary.  Usually I just make the thing and hope for the best, but not on this project!  With the exception of including a lining and treating the lining and outer fabric as one, I followed the directions of the pattern to about the point where it was necessary to add leg and neck elastic.

I did make a few modifications, although not many.  I raised the front leg openings about an inch.  I shortened the length of the shelf bra, and decided to sew over each seam twice for extra security.  I also realized very quickly when I started to add my leg elastic that I needed more width of fabric in the crotch area if I was going to stitch and turn elastic and still expect coverage.  To take care of this issue, I got out the pattern for the bottoms of Jalie 3023 (a tankini), traced it out, and used it as the crotch section of my suit.  I also changed how I applied the elastic.  I used the techniques in this blog post (which I’ve printed out so I won’t lose it), using bound elastic for the neckline and gathered, turned, and stitched elastic for the leg holes.

Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

Bound elastic at the neckline

Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

Gathered, turned, and stitched elastic at the leg openings

Analysis

I’m really happy with how this turned out, although I’m sorry to say that I finished it so late in the season that I’ve only worn it while swimming once.  It stayed on well, and I felt good in it.  In fact, I think this is my most successful swimsuit to date.  The only thing I might change is to take in the sleeves from elbow to wrist slightly.

As it is now, the suit stays on well, despite the open back.  If it loosens eventually, I could always add a strap across the back.  I’m excited to try this out over time and see how I like it.  It wasn’t overly hard to make (despite my fears) and I like how it looks.  I definitely recommend this pattern if you want to give it a try.  I found that using the sew-along on the Closet Case Patterns website in tandem with the directions was really helpful.

Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

With only about a week of summer left, I have one more garment from my 2017 Summer Sewing list to sew up as well as a second version of my black silk shirt.  I want to charge through them, but my back has been messed up (I really have to find a way to prevent that!).  I hope I can do it!  I’ll report back here soon!

Lastly, tomorrow is my blog’s four-year anniversary.  Hooray!  Blogging has been a great way to take part in the fun of the sewing community and a great personal journal of the things I’ve sewn.  Thanks for coming along with me on the adventure!

Recommendations

  • Around the time I made this suit, Rosie Martin of @rosie_diycouture and Katie of @katiemakesadress also made long-sleeved swimsuits.  Rosie used the Nettie, while Katie tried the Rowan Bodysuit from Megan Nielsen Patterns.  There must be something in the air!  We all caught hold of similar inspiration!
  • Have you seen the new Lander Pant and Short pattern from True Bias?  I’m really tempted by those pants.  I mean–wide legs and patch pockets!  Right up my alley.
  • I decided I wanted to look at the fashion designs of Ralph Lauren and Valentino more closely so I requested some books from the library.  Two out of three turned out to be kids books, but…they were great!  It was the perfect way to get a brief biography of each designer’s life and career.  I’m going to have to try this for other people I’m interested in learning about.
  • I never realized all the similarities between Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings until I watched this! 😉

 

Silk “Secret Pajamas”: McCall’s 6848

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Silk “Secret Pajamas”: McCall’s 6848

It’s time for another garment from my 2017 Summer Sewing list!  McCall’s 6848, View C is a top I’ve made before (in pre-blogging days, maybe?)…and one that I love!  I really wanted to make this simple top out of a flowy fabric to wear to work and church as well as with casual bottoms.  When I saw that Fabric Mart had black silk crepe de chine on sale, I knew that I had found my ideal fabric.

Silk "Secret Pajamas":  McCall's 6848

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Silk "Secret Pajamas":  McCall's 6848

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Silk "Secret Pajamas":  McCall's 6848

Now I know that silk is often viewed as a fabric that needs a lot of special care, but that is really up to you.  If you want to dry clean your silk, you can, but you can also throw it in the washer and even the dryer if you want to.  It does change the look of the fabric a bit if you wash it, but it doesn’t damage the fabric in any way.  So, while I actually prefer the look of the prewashed silk, I knew that I wouldn’t dry clean it due to cost and inconvenience, so I prewashed and dried.

Silk "Secret Pajamas":  McCall's 6848

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Silk "Secret Pajamas":  McCall's 6848

Sewing up this pattern was really fast and easy.  I made it in a size large this time.  It only has three pattern pieces:  a front, a back, and a neckband.  It was easy to sew the side and shoulder seams with French seams, and the neckband encloses the raw edge around the neck.  For the sleeves, I just did a basic hem with the raw edge turned under so that it was enclosed.  Fast and easy with no exposed edges left to fray in the wash!

Silk "Secret Pajamas":  McCall's 6848

(front view, above)

Silk "Secret Pajamas":  McCall's 6848

(back view, above)

I love the boxy cut and drape of this shirt and, while I wear it as an everyday shirt rather than as pajamas, I can feel how lovely this would be as a silk pajama top.  If you are looking for a basic drapey, boxy shirt pattern that is quick and easy, this is for you!  I’ve already got another cut out in rayon.  Highly recommend!

Silk "Secret Pajamas":  McCall's 6848

Recommendations

  • Proceed with caution if you try this one out!  Cooking Fever is a fun (and addictive) game where you have to serve your customers food as quickly as possible.  The better you do, the more (virtual) money you’ll have to upgrade your appliances and restaurant.  My fast food establishment is pretty awesome by now, I have to say!  😉
  • The Refashioners blog series and competition is up and running again this year with a theme of suits.  If you love refashioning, you can remake a suit into a new garment to compete for prizes (rules and prizes can be found here).  Right now, Portia, owner of the Makery blog which is hosting the event, is posting inspiration by various bloggers.  I was completely blown away when I saw Joost’s zebra-inspired coat.  You HAVE to check it out!
  • I just finished the audiobook version of Wonder by R. J. Palacio.  It was a great kids’ fiction book about the power of kindness.

The Perfect Summer Cutoffs: Thread Theory Jutland Pants as Boyfriend Jeans

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The Perfect Summer Cutoffs:  Thread Theory Jutland Pants as Boyfriend Jeans

It’s late summer here, and I think it’s time I introduced you to my most-worn shorts of the season.  This year I finally realized that the shorts I’ve been making myself are kind of…well, short.  This may have been obvious to everyone around me, but it really wasn’t obvious to me until I realized that I wanted some longer shorts and only had one pair that I had thrifted.  But I know how to sew, so that’s a problem I can fix!  😀

Thread Theory Jutland Pants as Boyfriend Jeans

Enter what is quickly becoming a favorite pattern not only for my husband (see versions one and two of his cargo pants from this pattern), but also for me (my pants version is here):  Thread Theory’s Jutland Pants pattern.

Thread Theory Jutland Pants as Boyfriend Jeans

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Thread Theory Jutland Pants as Boyfriend Jeans

My husband loves this pattern because he loves cargo pants, but I love this pattern because, for some reason, it fits me!  It doesn’t fit me to the sewing world standard of “perfect fit”.  It fits me in the way women would want a pair of men’s jeans to fit for that authentic “boyfriend jeans” look or in the way that you want a pair of work pants to fit.

Thread Theory Jutland Pants as Boyfriend Jeans

This summer, I dreamed of a pair of long cutoffs that weren’t tight, but were loose and comfortable.  More and more, I realize that I want my summer clothes to be loose and breezy, and my winter clothes to feel like a warm hug.  😉

Thread Theory Jutland Pants as Boyfriend Jeans

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Thread Theory Jutland Pants as Boyfriend Jeans

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Thread Theory Jutland Pants as Boyfriend Jeans

Before our trip out to visit family earlier in the summer, I cut these jeans out of a non-stretch denim that I bought at Fabric Place Basement, and flew through the sewing!  I wanted these done FAST, so I didn’t do much extra top-stitching or any seam finishes beyond zigzagging my seam allowances.  I didn’t even hem them, because I wanted them to look like cutoffs.  I figured that I was making them secure enough to last, but if they showed some fraying and wear and tear, they would have even more of that authentic look.  And let me just say, I LOVE these shorts.  In fact, I have to hold myself back from wearing them every day.

The only thing I did differently from my pants version (besides the length) was to use the actual Jutland Pants back pockets rather than the back pockets from the Ginger Jeans.  I knew that the Jutland Pants back pockets were bigger and more square, but I just wanted to try them to see if I would like them.  And I do!

Thread Theory Jutland Pants as Boyfriend Jeans

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Thread Theory Jutland Pants as Boyfriend Jeans

Another thing I like about these shorts is that you can wear them long or roll them up one or two times, giving you some different options.  I probably wear them rolled up twice most often, but I really like all the different lengths I can achieve.  Now I’m beginning to wonder if they would look good in canvas and if I have enough left over from other Jutland pants I’ve made…

Thread Theory Jutland Pants as Boyfriend Jeans

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Thread Theory Jutland Pants as Boyfriend Jeans

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Thread Theory Jutland Pants as Boyfriend Jeans

That might be a job for next summer, though.

Recommendations

    • After going to New Hampshire’s White Mountains, I would definitely recommend them!  Now I want to go back and go camping!  (You can see my last post for some pictures of our trip.)
    • I just finished listening to the audio version of Willpower:  Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy Baumeister and John  Tierney.  It was a really fascinating psychological look at what willpower is and how you can cultivate it in your life.  I think I need to go back and listen through it again.
    • Devon Iott (@missmake on Instagram) does it again!  I’ve got her version of Style Arc’s Josie Hoodie in my head, and now I want to make my own!
    • This video is a little longer than what I usually post, but it was interesting to learn about the “Pros & Cons of Common Fabrics” both for everyday and as far as environmental impact.  I definitely learned some things!