Category Archives: DIY

Simplicity 8391 Sailor-Inspired Shorts and Pants

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Simplicity 8391 Sailor-Inspired Shorts and Pants

Summer sewing is in full (albeit slow) swing, and these pants are one of the most recent projects I finished.  I really like the look of sailor pants.  I actually have a pair of wool 13-button sailor pants that I love from an Army Navy store, but sadly they don’t fit right now.  I have noticed that I’m drawn to that style, though, so I decided to make some of my own.  First, I tried the Persephone Shorts by Anna Allen.  The pattern and instructions are excellent, but I really, really didn’t like the look of the shorts on me, even though I think they look great on other people.  Rather than fiddling with the fit to try to get something I might like, I moved on to Simplicity 8391.  The Persephone Pants are actually based on sailor pants from the 1920’s-1940’s, whereas Simplicity 8391 is more of a cute take on the idea of sailor pants.  I have to say, though, that I really, really like these.

Simplicity 8391 Sailor-Inspired Shorts and Pants

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Simplicity 8391 Sailor-Inspired Shorts and Pants

First I made the shorts version (View D) to get an idea of the fit.  I made them up quickly without worrying much about interior perfection or getting things just right.  These were my wearable muslin.

Simplicity 8391 Sailor-Inspired Shorts and Pants

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Simplicity 8391 Sailor-Inspired Shorts and Pants

Cute, right?

My measurements put me in between two sizes, so I traced that out and sewed them up in some leftover Tinted Denim by Cloud9 Fabrics that I got long ago at Pintuck & Purl.

Simplicity 8391 Sailor-Inspired Shorts and Pants

I am finding that in most, if not all, Big 4 pants, I need to do a full seat adjustment and possibly even lengthen the back crotch point.  I didn’t do any of that for the shorts, and while they came out cute, they aren’t super comfortable on me, and I have already given them away.

Simplicity 8391 Sailor-Inspired Shorts and Pants

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Simplicity 8391 Sailor-Inspired Shorts and Pants

Aside from giving me wedgies, sitting was really uncomfortable and I wanted a lot more ease, so I decided to try again and just sort of guess at the amount of adjustment to make and hope for the best.

For version two, I made the pants (View C) from Delaware Grass Green 10 oz. cotton canvas from Big Duck Canvas that I had originally bought to make into Persephone Pants.  This was my first time ordering from Big Duck Canvas.  The price was good and so was the quality of the fabric.  Interestingly, when I washed these, they faded a fair amount.  They also softened a lot as I’m sure they had some sizing on them while on the bolt.  They remind me of one of my favorite pairs of pants from years ago, so I loved how the fabric came out of the wash, but keep the fading in mind if you give this fabric a try at some point.  I have also noticed this sort of fading when I bought duck canvas from Joann’s, so maybe it’s just something that happens with this fabric?

Simplicity 8391 Sailor-Inspired Shorts and Pants

As far as adjustments, I really wanted some comfy pants, so I decided to go big or go home with the fitting.  I retraced the pattern half a size larger, and then did a 1.5″ full seat adjustment, as well as adding 1.5″ of length to the back crotch point.  I used The Perfect Fit from the Singer Sewing Reference Library series to figure out how to do this.  I’m always a little confused about which adjustments to do and how in the world to know what I need in each case.  It helps that I sew a lot of Big 4 patterns and can use a lot of similar adjustments on those, but what about when I sew a pattern from another company?  Isn’t there some way to measure the flat pattern and know if I will need to adjust things?  I still need to finish reading Pants Fitting:  The Crotch and Pants Fitting:  The Crotch Part 2 from the Winmichele blog and do the exercises she mentions because I think that will answer those questions for me.  I understand how to measure the back of a shirt pattern to see if I need a broad back adjustment, but I still don’t fully have pants figured out, even after making a number of different types.

Simplicity 8391 Sailor-Inspired Shorts and Pants

Back to these pants.  When hemming, I took 2″ off the length of the pants.  I think if I had left the size the same as the shorts, the pants would have fit closer and been higher on my waist, and then maybe that 2″ would have been too much, but with the adjustments I made, they sit just below my navel and taking 2″ off looked better to me than just hemming them at the normal hem allowance (for reference, I’m 5′ 8.5″ tall and I don’t usually make length adjustments).  I had to stretch the fabric as I hemmed so that everything was nice and flat.

Simplicity 8391 Sailor-Inspired Shorts and Pants

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Simplicity 8391 Sailor-Inspired Shorts and Pants

I got to use a few vintage buttons on both the pants and the shorts.

Simplicity 8391 Sailor-Inspired Shorts and Pants

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Simplicity 8391 Sailor-Inspired Shorts and Pants

I used whatever invisible zippers I had around.  The zipper on these is on the left side.

Simplicity 8391 Sailor-Inspired Shorts and Pants

One other thing I changed was on the inside of the waistband.  I covered the inside edge of the waistband with bias tape, which made catching the waistband SO MUCH EASIER when stitching in the ditch from the outside.  I do have to be careful when zipping and unzipping because the bias-covered edge likes to get in the way a little bit, but it’s not too bad.

Simplicity 8391 Sailor-Inspired Shorts and Pants

The adjustments I made to this pattern made the finished product feel WONDERFUL.

Simplicity 8391 Sailor-Inspired Shorts and Pants

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Simplicity 8391 Sailor-Inspired Shorts and Pants

I’m really thinking hard to analyze how I want to feel in my clothes during each season, and so far what I have come up with for summer is loose and breezy, which means no tight clothes (except things like bathing suits), lots of breathable cotton and linen wovens, and plenty of elastic waists.  Even without an elastic waist, I love these pants for summer.  They’re nice and loose, and I would definitely consider trying to lengthen them to full length and make them in linen or some other great fabric.  I think I have worn them almost every day this week (don’t worry–they’re going in the wash after today).

Simplicity 8391 Sailor-Inspired Shorts and Pants

I know that’s the picture you were all waiting for.  😉 Have a great weekend.

I Finally Tried It: City Gym Shorts from Purl Soho

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I Finally Tried It:  City Gym Shorts from Purl Soho

Hi, everyone!  It’s been a little while, but I finally have some finished projects to share that are slowly getting photographed.  I usually work in batches and I love it when I get to the sewing part of a batch because it feels like I’m quickly turning out projects.  What it really means is that I spent a lot of time planning, tracing, and cutting a bunch of things, but it still feels great to finish several projects in a row.  One of the projects in this latest batch is a popular free pattern that has been around for almost six years, but that I hadn’t tried.  This year it was finally time to jump on board since I really need some shorts…and elastic-waist shorts sound amazing.  The pattern is the City Gym Shorts for All Ages from Purl Soho.

City Gym Shorts made from vintage sheets

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City Gym Shorts made from vintage sheets

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City Gym Shorts made from vintage sheets

This pattern comes in a range of kids’ and adult sizes.  It was published before PDF patterns were as popular as they are now, so it and the directions look a little different from what you might commonly see today, but I think they are still good.  I used the largest women’s size.  Although I’ve purchased a small amount of fabric in the last several months, I’m mostly trying to use what I have on hand as much as possible, so I pulled out some vintage sheets and some bias tape I had as well as whatever thread was closest in color to my fabric, and got started.  I had to buy some elastic, but that was it.

City Gym Shorts made from vintage sheets

The directions were pretty straightforward, although the seam allowance is only 1/4″, so keep that in mind or your shorts won’t fit as expected.  The nice thing about this smaller-than-usual seam allowance is that you won’t have to trim your seams.  I didn’t bother too much with making my sewing look pretty for this version, except where I sewed on the bias tape.  The goal was to finish these quickly so I could try them out.

City Gym Shorts made from vintage sheets

The one thing I changed was the waistband.  I plan to follow the directions if I make this pattern again, but for this pair, I wanted to use the folded over edge at the top of the sheet as my casing.  That did make the casing a bit wider than what is called for, so I anchored my elastic by sewing through the waistband at the sides, front, and back so it wouldn’t flip around in the wash or while I’m wearing the shorts.

City Gym Shorts made from vintage sheets

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City Gym Shorts made from vintage sheets

Once I finished the shorts and tried them on, my initial thoughts were that these were pretty good!  I liked the length and found them pretty comfortable.  I thought that if I made them again, they should have pockets (of course!) and possibly a bit of a full seat adjustment and back crotch length extension as well as possibly a bit more ease (maybe I would grade up one size).  After wearing them for awhile, though, I think all those things (except the pockets) are things that might improve this pattern slightly for me, but aren’t things I absolutely have to do to enjoy wearing these shorts.  I’m really happy with them.

City Gym Shorts made from vintage sheets

Speaking of pockets, if you have tried this pattern or want to try it, but also want somewhere to hold your keys or phone, I found this post on the Zaaberry Handmade blog that covers her variation of this pattern and includes how to add pockets (she links to a tutorial she created for adding pockets).  In her version, she eliminates the bias binding.  If you want slash pockets, but want to keep the bias binding, you could check out this post over on the All Wrapped Up blog.  What I haven’t found is anyone who added inseam pockets and kept the bias binding.  Those are the lines I was thinking along, although I also really like what each of the these women did, so I would be open to either pocket style (slash or inseam).

One tip I have is that if you are running short on matching bias tape, attach what you have to the front side seams first as most of the back side seams will be covered and you could easily hide mismatched bias tape there if you wanted to.

City Gym Shorts made from vintage sheets

I think the City Gym Shorts pattern would be a good one for a beginner.  It doesn’t have too many pieces or things like buttons or zippers, and you can make it out of quilting cotton or even old sheets, like I did.  You can purchase bias tape or learn to make your own, so it’s a good skill builder while still being completely doable.  And for the seasoned sewist, it’s a fun and quick project with lots of possibilities to customize the end product.

Last Summer’s Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited: Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

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Last Summer’s Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

I got dress-obsessed this spring and wanted to sew all the boho, ruffled, yoked, big-sleeved dresses.  It’s one of my summer goals to wear more dresses, so after sifting through many, many patterns, I decided to revisit Simplicity 8689, my favorite dress pattern from last summer (in black and yellow here).

Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

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Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

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Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

I had a beautiful cotton gauze border print from Pintuck & Purl that seemed perfect for this pattern, especially now that I had my colorful slips.  While most of the fabric has numbers and symbols on it, one edge has gray and burgundy stripes.

I chose to make View A with the sleeves of View B.

Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

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Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

While my size has changed a bit since last year, this dress has a nice amount of ease, so I used my previously traced pattern and sewed a 16 bust and 20 waist and hip.  I found one issue that I had failed to address (or even remember) from last year.  Due to some adjustments I made last time, my front and back bodice side seams were different lengths.  I never think to walk my seams (i.e. compare the lengths of seams that are meant to be sewn together to make sure they are the same length) after adjusting things, and this time it came back to bite me.  The back was 3/4″ shorter than the front.  In the end, I cut the front shorter, but I made sure to adjust my pattern for next time.

Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

I used a 70/10 Microtex needle to sew this gauze.  I was a little worried that it would be really delicate, and while ripping out seams had to be done carefully, it wasn’t hard to sew.  I used a combination of turning and stitching, French seams, mock French seams, and a small zigzag to finish various parts of the inside.  I wanted to use French seams throughout, but that wasn’t possible in places like the center front bodice seam or along the side seams and pockets.  I wanted everything to look nice on the inside since the gauze is actually somewhat sheer.  You can really see this with the pockets, but since I had enough fabric for pockets, I didn’t want to omit them.  No regrets on that choice!

Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

One thing I might try some other time is lengthening the sleeve and adding an elastic casing and elastic instead of the cuff, but I need to wear the dress more to be sure.  I did lengthen the cuff pattern piece to increase the cuff circumference and give my hand a little more room to go through (just to be safe), and I really like how it turned out.  So far it’s pretty comfortable.

Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

And I love the dress with the colored slips underneath.

Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

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Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

I initially kept the front plain except for having used the striped border in the yoke, but the dress was just a bit boring and I wasn’t excited about it (see below).

Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

Even though I can order sewing supplies, I have been taking the last few months to try to do a better job of using what I already have, which has been a fun challenge.  After thinking it over for quite awhile, I added the ivory rickrack,

Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

and then used hooks and eyes and embroidery floss to create removable silver cords to attach to the front.

Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

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Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

I tried making a few different tassels, but none of them were right, so I did end up ordering some silver ones from the paper crafting department of Hobby Lobby and used jewelry-making supplies to attach them.

Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

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Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

I like the dress so much better now and have already worn it a few times.  I love having several fun, comfortable dresses that I really like.

Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

 

Fun in Green: A McCall’s 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

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Fun in Green:  A McCall’s 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

I have a fun dress to share with you today!  This dress is all about volume, which makes it a joy to wear.  Today’s pattern is McCall’s 7948, View D, a very popular style that is showing up in lots of stores and sewing patterns.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

I bought this pattern last year with the thought of making it in eyelet, just like the cover photo, but with a fun colored slip underneath.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

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Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

I made a few slips, and then finally made the dress.  This was supposed to be my Easter dress, but time got away from me, (or I just plan more sewing projects than I can actually sew), and this didn’t get started until May.  Part of what held me up was trying to decide what trim to use on the dress, but in the end (and after looking at examples online), I decided to go trim-less and just make the dress in green.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

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Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

I traced a straight size 20, and just barely eked it out with the yardage I had.  This green cotton eyelet was from last spring at Joann’s, and I got it on sale this year when it was almost gone.  I managed to find 1 2/3 yards in one store and another piece that was three inches short of two yards in a different store.  The fabric is 50/51″ wide, but 8-9″ of that is plain green cotton without the eyelet embroidery on the edges.  I had to do a bit of pattern Tetris to get it all figured out, but it worked in the end.  I had wanted to include pockets, but I realized that you would probably be able to see them through the eyelet, and I didn’t have enough fabric anyway, so I left them off.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

One really nice thing about the style of this dress is that I didn’t have to do too many adjustments–no grading between sizes, no broad back adjustment.  All I did was to add some width at the top of the sleeves and lower the front neckline by 1/2″ based on Martha’s review on the Buried Diamond blog.  I used The Perfect Fit, my favorite basic fitting book for directions for these things.  It said not to lower the neckline beyond 1/2″ in this size because it would affect other aspects of the pattern, but the one thing I would consider doing if I make this again is to see if I could lower the neckline a bit more.  It’s mostly fine when standing and walking around, but the dress does slide a bit toward the back occasionally and it can sometimes be a problem when sitting.  My husband’s idea was to weight the front hem.  What do you think?  What would you do?

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

That very minor adjustment and issue aside, I LOVE how this dress feels to wear.  It’s my ideal summer dress as far as feel–loose, flowy, breezy thanks to the eyelet, perfectly comfortable.  The slip worked out great–I didn’t even notice it, which is the goal (no one wants an uncomfortable slip).  I couldn’t see its color as much as I would have liked, but that is due to the very small holes in this eyelet.  You can see it at the points where the dress touches your body, but not much more.  Regardless, it provides the opacity I wanted when the light shines through the dress.  Now here is a weird conundrum–do you make your clothes to feel good or look “flattering” (whatever your definition of that word is)?  I don’t think this dress makes me look like any ideal vision I might have of myself, but other than that, it feels great, covers me in all the areas I want covered, and brings me joy…but I don’t think it makes me look amazing.  When you can’t always have both, which do you choose?  In general, I come down on the side of comfort and feel, but I admit that it is sometimes a mental struggle for me.  I could make uncomfortable clothes that I think look good on me, or I can make comfortable clothes that may or may not look good, but that feel good.  Comfort wins for me, but if I’m honest, I really want both in most cases.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

The other thing I changed on this dress was the facings.  I did manage to cut them out, but realized that the interfacing I was supposed to use was going to show through, and I didn’t have any fabric I could use as sew-in interfacing that was close to this color.  In the end, I decided to finish the neckline and back slit with bias tape, because I had a lot of it that was close to this color.  It took a bit of thinking, but I managed to figure out how to do the back slit, and I’m pretty happy with the result and definitely happy not to have used facings or interfacing that would show through around the neckline and back.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

I used some single fold bias to finish the hems of the sleeves and skirt and a pretty vintage button on the back of the dress.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

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Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

As far as finishing my seams, my machine did not love zigzagging on this fabric, so I sewed a straight stitch in each seam allowance and then pinked the seam allowances.  The dress is in the wash now, so we’ll see if there is much fraying or not.  Even if there is, the straight stitch in the seam allowance will stop it.  I’m not really worried.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

When gathering the skirt and arm ruffles, I used a technique I learned from Megan Nielsen, where you do a large zigzag over a piece of string in your seam allowance.  I used baker’s twine.  (You know that cute red and white twine they use to tie up boxes in bakeries?  Lots of people use it for crafts as well.)  Once you have gone all the way around, you cinch up the fabric using the string, pin it in place, pull out the string and go on with your sewing. It’s a lot faster and easier on a fabric like this with ruffles this big than it is to sew two rows of basting stitches and gather them.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

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Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

This was a fun dress to sew and not too difficult.  If you can get this pattern on sale, it’s a great deal for a pattern that is very on trend and VERY fun to wear.  I wore this on a walk in the woods with my family and while I’m sure that other people we saw thought I was crazy for wearing a dress on the trails, I felt awesome in it.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

A Little More Layering: Axis Tank in Cotton/Spandex

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A Little More Layering:  Axis Tank in Cotton/Spandex

Hi, friends!  I have one more layering post today.  I think this garment is going to come in handy this summer.

The garment I’m talking about is the Axis Tank by Sophie Hines.  This simple tank is fast to make and is interesting in that it doesn’t require any elastic–just a stretchy fabric like this cotton/spandex jersey.  My version has a center front seam because I didn’t have much of this fabric left, but this view of the pattern as drafted is actually one piece for the body and then your neck and arm edgings.  You sew a seam in the back, finish the neck and arms and all your seams, and you are done!

A Little More Layering:  Axis Tank in Cotton/Spandex

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A Little More Layering:  Axis Tank in Cotton/Spandex

I have often wished for (but never bothered to make) a short tank top that would cover my undergarment straps, but wouldn’t make me overheat by covering my midsection, and I think this will do just that.  It is described as a tank top bralette, but it’s not exactly supportive, so I think it works better as just a tank.  It is short–it hits about one inch under my bust.  I’m not the midriff-baring type, so I would wear this with another shirt over top to get that fun, layered look without the overheating.  There are, of course, other views, with a scoop neck and some cool color-blocking that I have yet to try.

A Little More Layering:  Axis Tank in Cotton/Spandex

I’m not much of a pattern hacker, but I think this little tank could have a lot of possibilities.  You could add elastic at the bottom to make a supportive-ish bralette or swimsuit top, extend the length into a full-length tank top, tankini top, or dress, or anything else you can think of.  It’s also a great way to use up scraps, and it works as a quick palette-cleanser after a more involved project.  I plan to try this out this summer and see how/if it integrates into my wardrobe.

More Details

  • Fabric:  “Starry” in the color Seashell from the Hello collection by Cotton + Steel, 95% cotton/5% spandex fabric, purchased at Pintuck & Purl
  • All sewn on a regular sewing machine–no serger required

A Little More Layering:  Axis Tank in Cotton/Spandex

  • Extra detail:  I made a cute little tag for the back out of some of the selvedge!

A Little More Layering:  Axis Tank in Cotton/Spandex

And that’s it!

Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

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Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

Hi, everyone!  I have a quick post today on a fun layering option–a slip dress!  I started to think about this last summer when I bought McCall’s 7948.  The dress on the cover is made of eyelet.  I made my own eyelet dress last year and underlined it with an inexpensive cotton voile, but I thought that it could be so much fun to have colorful slips to wear underneath other dresses with any degree of transparency.  Then I wouldn’t have to line or underline the dress and you could change out the slips to have different colors show through.  Once I saw Alexis Bailey’s version of McCall’s 7948 with a colorful slip underneath, I knew I had to do it.  It’s taken me a long time, but I finally got it done.

I was looking for a slip pattern that was for woven fabric cut on the straight grain, rather than a bias or stretch slip.  Simplicity 8545, View A was perfect because it was made to be just that kind of slip dress to go under transparent dresses and tops, patterns for both of which are included.  I had some Cotton + Steel cotton lawn from a sale at Pintuck & Purl, and it was great for this pattern.

Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

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Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

I often have to lower darts on patterns and I completely forgot to check before cutting my fabric if that would be necessary on this one.  Assuming it would be, I sort of fudged things and lowered the dart point since I couldn’t lower the whole dart.  It turned out that this wasn’t necessary, but as this will be under another dress, there’s no need to worry too much.  Now I know for next time.  I think I graded from an 18 at the bust to a 20 at the waist and hips, which was a good idea.  There is a good amount of ease at the waist, but not as much at the hips.  Grading made it all work just right, though.

Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

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Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

Other modifications included shortening the straps 1″ beyond the recommended point and shortening the bottom of the dress 4″ from the raw edge.  I want it to be around or a little shorter than the dresses I plan to wear over these slips, so I picked the shortest my dresses might be likely to be and hemmed the slips around there.

Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

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Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

I noticed again that my natural waist is 1″-2″ above the pattern’s waist mark.  Interesting…  Maybe I’m a bit short-waisted.  Also, I probably need a swayback adjustment, but I just can’t be bothered.  You could most likely eliminate the zipper on this pattern and still get it over your head just fine.  And lastly, if I were to make this pattern again, I would try eliminating the facings and use bias tape to finish the top edge.

Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

Inside back (above) and a close-up of the zipper from the outside (below)

Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

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Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

Inside front (above) and a close-up of the facings and strap (below)

Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

I would like to try the camisole view of this pattern (View B) to wear under shirts that aren’t quite opaque enough in the summer.  I have some more lawn, so I might get around to that at some point.  I suppose it would be wise and practical to have a white slip, too, but that seems less exciting than brightly colored slips.  🙂  The dresses I hope to wear over this are currently in progress–the aforementioned McCall’s 7948 in green eyelet and my favorite dress pattern from last summer, Simplicity 8689, in a light pink cotton gauze.  Hopefully once I make them, I’ll actually wear them to swan about the house instead of wearing stretchy pants!  Or I’ll wear them over stretchy pants!  😉

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Black Ponte

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Vogue 8932 Jacket in Black Ponte

Another week, another sewing project.  🙂  This is the last garment I planned to make during the winter and, luckily, it makes a great transitional garment.  It’s Vogue 8932.  I have had this pattern for so long and was looking for just the right fabric for it.  The copyright on the back says 2013, which is around the time I got serious about sewing.  What brought it to my attention in the first place was Bianca’s very cool version from around the same date.  I’m pretty sure that it was her jacket that made me seek this pattern out at Joann’s.

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to make my version, so this pattern sat in my growing pattern library over the years waiting for its turn.  Finally, I decided that a black ponte would be a great first fabric to give this a try.  The one I ordered was a rayon/nylon/spandex from Fabric Mart, and is very nice.  I rarely sew with black, although I do like it–I just prefer the brighter colors.  This time, though, I ordered enough black ponte for a few garments and got to work on this one, choosing to make View B.

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

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Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

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Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

This particular pattern says “Easy” on the back.  I don’t think that’s very accurate.  They may have given it that designation because there’s no real tailoring or a lining or any of that, and the fabrics they call for have stretch, which helps a lot with fitting.  However, matching up the various corners and seams is not exactly “easy”, so I would put this at a more intermediate level.

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Black Ponte

The style lines are very cool and the construction is interesting, although I found it hard to get the corners on the back right.  Mine have little holes that I just sort of sewed over and added Fray Check to.  I think they’ll be alright, but I wish it were better.

I had the (in my mind) brilliant idea of using Eloflex thread in my needle and woolly nylon in my bobbin because I wanted to use a straight stitch that still had some give.  Eloflex is a thread made by Coats & Clark that is slightly stretchy.  Woolly Nylon is a fluffy thread that also has some give and is often used for sewing bathing suits, etc.  I have been using woolly nylon in my bobbin a lot when sewing knits in general.  So, my grand plans were a pretty big failure.  I tried needle type after needle type and my thread just kept breaking.  It seemed the Eloflex and this ponte were a bad match.  Finally, I swapped out the Eloflex for Gütermann All-Purpose polyester thread, and it worked great with a Universal 80/12 needle.  I also found that fine silk pins worked better with this fabric than the pins I normally use, which are actually quilting pins.  So, with all that thread breakage, the sewing is a bit rough, but I wasn’t about to unpick black on black unless absolutely necessary.

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

Toward the end, I added these fun flower-shaped snaps, adjusting their position as necessary.

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

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Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

Hopefully they will work as closures.  So far, so good, anyway.  I also discovered something quite interesting:  my waist is about 1″ higher than the marked waistline on this pattern, but the bottom of the jacket seems to hit in just the right spot.  So what does that mean?  Should I be raising the waist of my patterns while keeping the overall length the same?  So far I haven’t noticed the waist area being too much of a problem, but I’m going to pay attention to this with other patterns and give it some thought.

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

Outside front (this view has exposed seams).

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

Outside back

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

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Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

The different bias tape colors on the inside were a result of working with what I had on hand.

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

The little patches at the corners on the inside of the jacket are bits of knit interfacing, something the pattern instructs you to use in those areas.

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

I like the fit of this jacket overall.  It’s fitted, but not tight.  I would love to tell you that I have worn it a ton and it’s a wardrobe staple, but it has still been a little bit cold here and I’ve sort of been living my best loungewear life lately.  I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have worn jeans in recent weeks, so we’ll have to see if this ends up being as good as I hope it will.

And now I’m ready for spring sewing!

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

After the post on my cardigan from a few weeks ago, I thought I would follow up with some pictures and a tutorial of the process I used to create the self-welt or stand pockets on the front.  This comes straight out of my 1976 edition of the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, my favorite sewing reference.  If you also have this edition of the book, I’m using information from pages 284 and 288.  This process isn’t hard, but it does require paying attention and being careful.  It also requires frequent pressing, unless you have a fabric like this fleece that shouldn’t press.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Make a template

Before starting my pockets, I made a template out of some cardboard so that I could be sure my pockets would be the same size and that my pocket openings would be perfect rectangles.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Once I figured out just where I wanted to place my pockets, I traced around my templates with a Chaco liner.  Use the marking tool of your choice.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

I will tell you that I have used this yellow Chaco liner twice on light-colored materials (this cardigan, and this bag) and it does not always wash out of lighter colored fabrics.  I should probably get a different color to try in these situations, but I didn’t really think about that until too late.  It’s ok, though.  Most people won’t notice it.

Mark your pocket

After tracing my pocket template, the next thing to do was to thread-trace the shape, extending my lines a bit beyond the corners (at least 3/4″).  This helps you to see the shape of the pocket from both sides.  The directions say you should also thread-trace a center line through the middle of your rectangle, parallel to the long sides of the pocket.  That is up to you.  I did this, but didn’t find it as helpful as I thought it would be.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Because this is a heavyweight fabric, I didn’t need to interface it.  If your fabric is lightweight or loosely woven, you will need to cut interfacing about four inches longer and two inches wider than your pocket opening, center it over the opening and baste around the edges (for sew-in interfacing) or fuse (for fusible interfacing) before you begin to thread-trace.  Then thread-trace through both the garment fabric and the interfacing.

Create your welt + pocket bag piece

Now it’s time to cut out the fabric that will form your welt and your pocket.  You will be cutting out a rectangle with the grainline going the long way on the rectangle.  Rather than using fabric from my main garment, I used my accent fabric.  The length of your rectangle  should equal two times the desired finished depth of the pocket plus two times the desired depth of the welt.  The width of your rectangle should equal the width of the pocket opening plus one inch for seam allowance (this gives you a 1/2″ seam allowance on each side).  In order to keep lint from catching in the corners of your pocket when you wear your garment, round the corners with your scissors.  You could fold your fabric lengthwise and then widthwise and trim all the corners at once so they would have a uniform shape.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Now fold your pocket in half horizontally and mark that line by pressing or with chalk or other marking tool.  I chose chalk since I couldn’t press.  If marking with chalk, mark on the wrong side.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Build the pocket

Now place your pocket piece with its right side on the right side of your garment, aligning the line you just marked with the bottom stitching line of your pocket.  Pin in place.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Turn the garment to the wrong side.  Using a short stitch length, stitch both layers together by sewing carefully around the rectangle, along the thread-traced lines, starting in the center of one of the long sides and pivoting at each corner.  When you come back to the point where you started, sew over a few of your beginning stitches to lock them in place.  Do not sew at all on the center line that you (optionally) marked.  Now you can remove your thread-tracing.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

On your pocket piece, mark the center of your pocket, parallel to the long sides.  You can also mark 1/2″ in and parallel to the short sides of your rectangle.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Then cut along the middle line through both layers, stopping 1/2″ before each short side.  Cut diagonally to, but not through the corners.  This will make small triangles of fabric at each end.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Carefully push the fabric through the opening to the wrong side and press (if possible) so that you can’t see the pocket fabric from the front.  Pulling on the small triangles you just created should help you square up the pockets.  Because I couldn’t press my fabric, I basted the seam allowances on the short sides down and pinned the longer parts of the pockets.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Now it’s time to make your welt!  Don’t worry–it’s just a fold of fabric.  Working from the back, fold the lower part of the pocket up to cover the opening and then fold back down, creating a pleat that covers the opening of the pocket.  Check that it looks good from the right side.  It should cover the opening completely, with the fold touching the top opening edge of the pocket.  To keep everything where it should be, baste through the fold and then use a whipstitch to temporarily attach the fold to the top of the pocket opening.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Now turn your work to the right side.  Fold up the bottom part of your garment fabric so you can see the lower seam allowances of the pocket opening as well as the lower part of the pocket.  Stitch through these seam allowances and the lower part of the pocket as close to your original stitching as possible.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Now turn everything back to the wrong side.  Fold the long top part of the pocket down and align it with the bottom part of the pocket.  You are creating your pocket bag.  The right sides of your pocket piece should be facing one another.  Pin around the raw edges of the pocket and press the seam allowances on top of the pocket open if possible.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Remember that 1/2″ seam allowance we built into the width of your pocket piece?  Time to use it!  Flip your garment around to the right side again and fold the garment up out of the way so you can see your pocket.  Sew around the pocket, using your 1/2″ seam allowance, starting at the top and sewing over those little triangles on the sides as you go, getting as close to your earlier stitching as you can.  Don’t forget to backstitch at the beginning and end!  Finish your pocket edges together if necessary for your fabric and give everything a good press if you can so it’s all nice and flat.  Then remove your basting stitches.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Good job!  You did it!

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

My Modified Marshland Sweater

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My Modified Marshland Sweater

Since the scope of this blog is sewing and creative projects, I’ll just say this before beginning:  we’re well here.  I often suffer from anxiety, but by God’s grace, I have been largely calm and peaceful.  I’m thankful for many things, not the least of which is good creative work to do in uncertain times.  Creative work may seem frivolous and secondary to some, but it can be both a necessary and a wonderful gift.  So let’s talk knitting today.

I don’t always put my knitting projects on the blog, since I keep this space largely for sewing, but this project represents a lot of problem solving and (good) hard work, and I want to share it.

My Modified Marshland Sweater

So, here was my problem:  I have many partial and complete skeins of 14- or 15-year-old wool yarn from Yates Farm in Vermont in a worsted weight that knits up like a bulky.  I love this yarn, but I have lots of colors and not many skeins that are the same color.  It’s also a slightly scratchy yarn and isn’t great at the neck or ankles although it’s lovely to wear over another shirt.  I’ve been pondering just what to do with it for years.  Maybe the best way to use it was a colorwork sweater, but it had to be something without a high neck that could use a lot of partial skeins and a lot of different colors.  Hm…  What could I make?

My Modified Marshland Sweater

I had fallen in love with the Strange Brew book by Tin Can Knits and had it in my library.

My Modified Marshland Sweater

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My Modified Marshland Sweater

This book is filled with patterns for colorwork yoke sweaters as well as hats and cowls.  Not only does it contain patterns–it tells you how you can design your own sweater or change up the existing patterns.  It’s my favorite kind of craft book:  projects, inspiration, and reference information.  A lot of the design aspects of the book are still a bit beyond me, but after ages of mulling things over, I thought I might take my favorite design, the Marshland Sweater, and modify the colorwork a bit to have some of my favorite elements in it.

My Modified Marshland Sweater

I studied what I liked best in the existing pattern and in other colorwork designs and changed up the color charts a bit.  Since I don’t have experience designing knitwear, several of my rounds had three colors in them instead of the usual one or two, but I managed ok.

To throw yet another complication in, I needed to be able to knit this sweater at a different gauge since my yarn was knitting up thicker than a standard worsted.  In order to figure out gauge, I took the advice in the book and made a hat.  I wasn’t worried about it fitting anyone–if it did, it would be a bonus.  Instead, I used it as an opportunity to try out some colorwork patterns I had been doodling in a notebook and to see if I could make a fabric that I liked…and what would happen to that fabric if I washed it in the washer and air dried it.  In the end, the hat was not really wearable, but it WAS informative.

My Modified Marshland Sweater

From there, I measured my stitches per inch and used the formula on the Tin Can Knits website to figure out how that gauge could be used to knit the Marshland Sweater.  I wanted a big, warm, comfortable winter sweater with plenty of ease and length.

Here’s what I ended up doing:

  • Yarn:  Yates Farm worsted yarn
  • Gauge:  14 stitches/4″ with size US 10/6 mm needles in colorwork after machine washing and air drying
  • Needles:  US 8/5 mm for ribbing, US 9/5.5 mm for plain stockinette sections, US 10/6 mm for colorwork
  • Size:  Knit a women’s small to end up with a women’s large, checking and adjusting length as necessary

Then, I got knitting!  I had one pretty massive mishap where I overlooked a key instruction and knit beyond where the armholes were supposed to be.  I knew I would have to rip back quite a bit.  And then I realized that I had made another huge mistake–way back an inch from the beginning, I had messed up during the increase rounds, and I would have to rip back almost to the beginning.

The thought of just dropping a match on the thing leapt through my mind.

Instead, I put the sweater down and quit for the night.  The next day, when my family was at work and school and I wasn’t so tired, I ripped all the way back to the point where I had made my first mistake.

I had a goal of knitting at least one round a day, and that really made this sweater move.  I cast on on December 30, 2019 and, even with my huge mistakes, finished binding off on February 26, 2020.  I couldn’t believe it.  I’m not a very quick knitter, so this was lightning speed for me.

My Modified Marshland Sweater

After that, I just had to block it (which I did in the washing machine using this tutorial) and weave in my millions of ends.  It was finished a few days later!  And I love it!!!!!

My Modified Marshland Sweater

I left the sleeves long to increase the coziness factor and did the same for the overall length of the body.  I’m SO HAPPY with how all the colors look together and how it fits.  It’s big and warm (but not too warm) and perfect.  Theoretically, even if I wash it in the washer and air dry it in the future, there will still be plenty of ease.  I haven’t had the guts to try that, so hopefully I’m right.

My Modified Marshland Sweater

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My Modified Marshland Sweater

I have had this yarn for so long and have been at a loss for just what to do with it for so many years.  I still have quite a bit, but now I have a good idea of how to use it.  As spring seems to be on its way, and I want to get some wear out of this sweater, I have worn it multiple times per week each week since making it.  Between wearing this and my newly completed cardigan, I have had a lot of wardrobe repeats, but I am so happy with both of them that it’s a joy.

My Modified Marshland Sweater

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My Modified Marshland Sweater

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My Modified Marshland Sweater

I Finally Made It: A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

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I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

Do you have some of those patterns that you love, but they hang out in your pattern collection for one reason or another?  I have several of these that linger because I’m waiting for just the right fabric.  The Newcastle Cardigan by Thread Theory Designs is one of those for me.  I bought it at Pintuck & Purl several years ago, because despite the fact that this is a men’s pattern, I could envision a comfy, slouchy women’s version for me.  I like the cozy cardigan look with the rolled collar, and I’m always a fan of a shoulder/back yoke where I can use a contrast fabric or add in some nice topstitching.  I just needed the right fabric and some modifications…

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

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I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

I finally found the fabric I was looking for on the Mill Yardage website:  a Polartec Classic 200 Sweater Look Strie fabric that was warm, moderately thick, and had more body than drape.  I could use leftover fabric from my Burda 6471 joggers for the yoke and any other accent areas.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

Other Materials and Stitching

After a lot of deliberation, I decided to skip most of the interfacing and only include sew-in interfacing in the button placket areas.  Although I found some ideas on how you could adhere iron-on interfacing to fleece, I didn’t want to risk it, and the fabric was thick enough that it didn’t need much support anyway.  I decided to use some anorak snaps a friend had given me rather than buttons.  For more give in my seams, I used stretchy Eloflex thread as my top thread, and woolly nylon in my bobbin.

Because I modified this pattern to be loose rather than slim-fitting and because of the thread I had chosen, I was able to use a straight stitch (rather than a zigzag, which would have more stretch).  I used a slightly longer length (3.0), a 90/14 stretch needle, a walking foot, my normal tension, and my lightest presser foot pressure.

Pattern Modifications

There were a lot of pattern modifications that I made to get this just how I wanted it!  My measurements put me at a medium chest size.  This pattern says it is slim-fitting, but since I wanted a looser fit, I traced a large.  However, after measuring and tissue fitting, I realized I needed more arm and hip width, so I decided to trace an extra large.  I was really worried about the width, due to the positive ease I was after and the fact that this 100% polyester fabric only has a little bit of mechanical stretch, so I used the side seams of Simplicity 4109 (which I used to make my railroad denim jacket) as a guide.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

After this, I planned to add a little sleeve width.  In fact, after measuring my arm and the pattern and consulting The Perfect Fit, I decided I needed a full upper arm adjustment, and I added 1.5 inches to the arm pattern piece, giving me a wider circumference.

I had considered shortening the arms by as much as six inches (the pattern explains that they are drafted quite long), but after sewing the back to the front of the cardigan and holding up my shortened arm pattern piece, I didn’t like it, so I let it out to the original length.  Long and cozy sleeves seemed preferable to too-short sleeves in a garment that was supposed to be warm and snuggly.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

I wanted elbow patches, too, so I added the ones from the Plaintain Tee, a free pattern from Deer & Doe.

I made version one of this pattern, and was originally going to use the larger collar from version two, but it almost completely covered the yoke, so I recut it and used the smaller collar that went with version one originally.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

I wanted a bottom band on this cardigan, so I made one!  It’s a rectangle and, just before I finished installing it, I added a little gusset at the bottom of the side seams and some extra little rectangles to my bottom band for just a little more hip width.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

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I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

I added in extra topstitching anywhere I wanted to flatten the fabric or add detail or definition.  This was usually a good idea, but where it did not work, was the edge of the collar.  It exacerbated the collar’s tendency to flip up.  I took that topstitching out but kept what I did in other areas. (You can see the collar after I tried topstitching it below.  See how obvious the flip-up is?)

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

Like I mentioned before, I opted to install anorak snaps instead of making buttonholes and using buttons.  My friend had given me some that had been in her mom’s stash and I used every single one I had left.  Unfortunately, I didn’t hammer two of the top pieces in quite right and they don’t grip the bottom parts of the snap strongly.  It’s a not a big deal for one of them, but the other gapes, so I have to go on a little search to see if these are still available or if they are now considered vintage.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

Most nerve-wracking of all, I decided near the end of making this to add self-welt or stand pockets using the instructions in my Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing.  Yes, this was a little bit crazy, because I really liked the cardigan without them.  I just knew I would like it much more with pockets.

I tested out my idea with scraps to see if it would be too bulky and if I liked using the green for my pocket, and it turned out pretty well.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

So, I went for it!  I just took it step by step, deciding at the outset that they didn’t have to be perfect to be good.  And it worked!  They aren’t perfect, but they are good, and I was even able to tack the pockets to the facings, which helped to keep the facings from flipping out.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

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I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

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I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

I even added a Thread Theory label, which came with the pattern, and one from Kylie and the Machine, that I purchased at Pintuck & Purl.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

Final Thoughts

I love this cardigan.  While I can’t say this about every one of my projects, I really feel like I got the fit I wanted on this garment, and I love it in this fabric.  It’s so warm and nice.  If I did it over again in an equally thick fabric, I would consider skipping the facings.  Except for the benefit of tacking them to the pockets, they are kind of annoying.  It would be different in another fabric, I’m sure.  The length of time this took and the adjusting while sewing were frustrating for me, but I’m glad I persevered and finished before spring.  When I wore this to work, one of my coworkers said she thought the cardigan was from L.L. Bean, which was so nice of her!  I often look at their clothes for inspiration.  So, it was a struggle, but I’m happy, and I love the finished product.  And I’m also happy it’s done.  On to the next thing!

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

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I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

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I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

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I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me