Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

Today’s project was a struggle!  Thankfully, I can report that it ended happily, but it was a long process getting there.

The challenge:  could I make jeans I liked using the denim I had, which was less than what the pattern called for?  Armed with my Denim Pinterest board and ideas from the Refashioners 2016 jeans challenge, I was ready to take this one on!

I decided to use the Morgan Boyfriend Jeans Pattern from Closet Case Patterns since I had non-stretch denim.

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

Idea one was all about a casual, patchy look.  I love clothes that are casual, lived in, and durable.  I decided to cut as much of the top of the jeans as I could from the denim I had left over from my Jutland cutoffs from last year and my Lander Pants.  I would use the worn out jeans we had around the house (kept for patch jobs) to construct the bottoms of the pants.

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

This seemed like a great idea, and looked really cool on my sewing table.

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

Unfortunately, when I put them on, my cool, patched legs became something akin to denim leg warmers attached to jeans made of thin and much more flexible denim.

Fail.

On the advice of some very wise friends who, although not sewists themselves, often help me troubleshoot my projects, I took the pants bottoms off, and moved them up higher so the pants would end around my ankles.

Everything looked good on the work table again, but when I put them on, the denim leg warmer look was back, and it wasn’t a good thing.  It was time to abandon that idea.

Option two was cropped pants with a raw edge, back slightly longer than the front.  One look told me this wasn’t a good option on these particular jeans.

Fail.

Time to come up with a third option.  At this point, my eldest daughter had a great idea. I could use some of the anchor fabric I was using for my pocket bags on the inside bottom of my pant legs so that I would have cropped pants that could be rolled up to reveal the cute print on the fabric.

I loved this idea!  It wasn’t too hard to execute, and it looked great.  The fabric, with its cute anchors and hearts is directional, so I had to think about that as I planned it out.  Thankfully, I got it right the first try.  The pants are shorter than most cropped pants you see today, but I like them.  They are great for spring and cooler summer days.

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

Things were finally on track.  I just had to put on my waistband and back pockets.  I put the waistband on and…they didn’t fit.  And I had trimmed my side seams.  Oh no!

I tried letting the side seams out the little bit that I could, but it just wasn’t enough.  I couldn’t understand it.  I thought they had fit, but when I really examined what I had done, I realized that I must have been close to a 14 waist or between sizes, so I traced a 14 waist and 16 hip when I should have just done a straight size 16.

I wanted to give up, but I was so close to being done.  I decided to try one more thing, and if that didn’t work, I would give the pants away.  I added little triangle wedges at the top of each side seam using the same striped fabric I had used in my pocket facings, but turning the stripes perpendicular.

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

I lengthened my waistband at the end so that I wouldn’t change the curve (I had also added a dart at the center back to prevent gaping, and I didn’t want to change that either).  Then I finished everything up, tried them on, and…THEY FIT!  They fit well!  And they were pretty cute!  I was so happy.

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

I think I seam-ripped everything on those pants at least once–more in a lot of places.  I am so, so glad they are done, but also really happy to have a pair of fun jeans that I like, AND to have used up so many scraps.  Not only was my denim left over from other projects, so was the anchor fabric (I used it to make this shirt) and the striped fabric (I used the other side as my right side when I made the striped shorts in this post).  I even used a leather scrap to make a little patch.  Yay!

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

As for the pattern itself, I liked it, and would make it again.  I like the button fly, which is different from other jeans that I have, and the comfortable fit (once I got the sizing right).

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

I have a few more detail-oriented projects in my queue, but after that, I might need a palate-cleanser of easy projects!  With family sickness (now better), projects that weren’t straightforward, and several muslins (still unsewn), spring sewing has been a bit of a slog.  Even with that, though, I still love sewing.  I’m excited to finish up these last few things and get down to easy and/or summer sewing!  Bring it on!  (If only I can narrow down my ideas!)

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Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

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Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

It’s finally time to post this project.  Here is the big takeaway for me:  I love this bag.  I did not love making this bag.

I made the Portside Duffle from Grainline Studio to take on a weekend retreat, and it was perfect for that.  I finished with time to spare, and it was so much fun to have handmade luggage to take along with me.  I really love how it turned out. (I also learned that both “duffle” and “duffel” are correct ways to spell this word, so I’ll go with “duffle” for this post.)

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

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Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

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Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

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Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

I was inspired in my color choices by this excellent bag on the Skirt As Top blog.  Mine is a little different, but the influence is pretty clear.  Her version is great!

The process of making it presented a number of challenges, however.

Materials

The first challenge for me was my inexperience with bag-making.  I decided to only make the duffle, as I was under a deadline, but because I’ve made so few bags, I was really stuck on how to choose things like interfacing and my zipper.  You know how it is when you are just starting out–you really need things spelled out.  I know how to shorten a zipper on a pair of pants or a skirt, but what if you can’t find the exact zipper length for a bag?  And do you need a separating or non-separating zipper?  Does it even matter?

As it turned out, the length specified (21 inches) is very hard to find.  What I did find out is that when you run into this situation, you can buy a longer zipper and shorten it, and a separating zipper is just fine (I’m pretty sure you can use separating or non-separating).  This may seem obvious, but it was something I didn’t know and had to learn.  Luckily I had a longer zipper in my stash, so I was able to use that.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

The other area that confused me was the interfacing.  I looked around online for ideas, but it was all so overwhelming!  I had no idea there were so many kinds of interfacing (and stabilizer!) or so many things you could do with the interfacing.  You can even combine interfacings!  Here is what I ended up using:  for the bottom, I bought 2/3 of a yard of 20″ wide Pellon Peltex 71F Single-Sided Fusible Ultra Firm Stabilizer.  (The bottom pattern piece of this bag is 21 5/8″ x 12 3/8″.) For the sides/top of the bag I used Pellon 809 Decor Bond (Firm Iron-on Backing with Extra Crispness).  My bottom fabric (the gold) was heavier than my top fabric (the off-white), so I used one layer of interfacing on both, but also added a layer of quilting-weight fabric to the top portion, like the way you might underline a garment.  I did not interface the striped pocket on the outside or my lining fabric.  I bought all my interfacing and stabilizer at JoAnn Fabrics.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

In case you also struggle with the interfacing/stabilizer question, I found some helpful information in this article on sew4home.com:  “Top Interfacing Solutions For Bags and Totes:  Fabric Depot“, as well as this one from Sew Sweetness: “All About Bag Interfacing“.  Sew Sweetness had a lot of good information for bag-makers of all experience levels.

Cost-Saving Strategies

The other area that I struggled with was the overall cost of this project.  I tend to have a pretty limited budget, so cost is always a factor.  When I started to realize how much the pattern, fabric, and hardware could cost, I decided to get creative and see where I could save money.  Here is what I did.

I decided to make my own straps all with a width of 1.5″, rather than some at 1.25″ and some at 1.5″.  This would also allow me to use the 1.5″ D-rings I had in my stash rather than buying 1.25″ D-rings which I didn’t have (and which were harder to find).  There were two books that I found really helpful as I dug into the details of this project.  The first was On-the-Go-Bags by Lindsay Conner and Janelle MacKay, which helped me see that I actually could make my own straps (something I didn’t know as a newbie to bag-making).  The other book, which was the most helpful, was The Better Bag Maker by Nicole Mallalieu, which was filled with all sorts of helpful information.  If you sewed through this book, you would come out the other side with a lot of bag-making knowledge and skills.

I also realized that since I had so many D-rings (I have no idea why I have so many!), I could use those instead of the swivel bolt snaps/hooks the pattern called for, and join them with a carabiner since we had a few little carabiners in the house.  I didn’t end up making the leather zipper pulls.  I was kind of hoping I would find something in the jewelry section of the craft store to go with my lining, but I didn’t find anything I liked, so I skipped it.

The next thing to consider was fabric.  In case you are wondering, Fabric A on the pattern is your lower fabric and Fabric B is your upper fabric.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

The off-white and striped fabrics came from my stash, and I ordered the gold bottom fabric from Fabric Mart when it was on sale (love that store!).  I think that 2/3 of a yard of 54″ or 57″ fabric for the bottom (Fabric A) would have been enough, although if you use a print, you may want more so that you can position it just how you want it.  The pattern calls for 1.25 yards of 54″ wide fabric.  This amount of fabric turned out to be helpful in making my straps, so I’m glad I had extra for that (I probably ordered 1.5 yards).

I also used a quilting cotton from my stash (with octopi!) for the lining, which saved me money.  I had been looking for just the right thing to use this fabric on and now I have both octopus pants and a bag with a surprise lining!  (This fabric, by Cotton + Steel, and my pattern came from Pintuck & Purl.)

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

Construction

I’m going to share some technical details in this section, so feel free to skip it if that isn’t helpful to you.

***One important note:  I think there may be an error on pattern piece #4 (the side, bottom piece).  I would think that where it says “strap placement”, it would line up with the strap on the piece above it, but as printed, it looks like that text is on the bottom of the piece…where no strap is supposed to go.  I decided to ignore the strap placement marking and assumed that was the bottom of the piece (so that the words are right side up as printed).

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

Also, you can skip the part in the directions about choosing your size.  This duffle only comes in one size.

In Steps 6 and 8, I used Steam-A-Seam 2, 1/4″ (double stick fusible tape) to hold things in place before sewing them down.  This wasn’t perfect because the bond was pretty light, but it was still helpful.

In Step 11, I used a zipper foot to sew the zipper in.

For Step 12, I found this blog post from Handmade By Carolyn very helpful.  She suggests leaving the last half-inch at the bottom of your sides and end panels unsewn to help with attaching the bottoms.  Press your seams toward the end panels after sewing.

In Step 13, sew the long sides first and then the short sides.

Before beginning Step 14, I think you should flip the bag so right sides are out (at least that is what I did).  The tip in the instructions about using your machine’s free arm is helpful here.  Even with that, though, this step is hard if you have heavy interfacing in the bag!  What worked for me was to sew a side, backstitch, cut the threads, and then move on to the next side.

For Step 16, as in Step 12, do not sew the bottom 1/2″ of each seam so it will be easier to attach to the bottom in the next step.

I did not do Step 18 as written.  Instead, I used Steam-A-Seam 2, 1/4″ to baste the lining to the zipper and used Wonder Clips to help hold it because the Steam-A-Seam isn’t very strong (something different would have been better, I think).  Then I basted outer fabric, zipper, and lining togewith my machine, with the lining up.  I just sort of tacked the ends because my machine didn’t love sewing over the zipper.  Then I sewed the long sides with a zipper foot and the bag’s outside facing up (in other words, I topstitched).  I tried to sew over the zipper ends, which was somewhat successful, so I also hand-tacked the lining to the zipper tape by the zipper ends.  Use a thimble for this!

In Step 19, I wasn’t able to fold the raw edges under, since the straps I had made were so thick.  I used Fray Check on both ends and then zigzagged over them before stitching them down as in the directions.  It’s not as professional as I would like, but it should work.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

In Step 20, I think it should say “tops of the rings” rather than “top of the top ring” in the second sentence.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

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Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

At this point, I used more D-rings rather than swivel clips.  I attached the D-rings to each other with mini carabiners.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

After Step 20, I tried to tack the lining to the bag by sewing two parallel lines across the width of the bag on the bottom and by sewing for an inch or two on top of one of my stitching lines on each strap.  The lining doesn’t look smooth inside, but at least it won’t billow out now.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

I didn’t do Step 21, even though I think the leather zipper pulls are a nice touch.

Random Issue

One thing that happened that was unrelated to the pattern was that when I used my yellow Chaco Liner on the off-white part of my bag, it didn’t wash off afterward (I ran it through the washer and dryer).  I saw this once before when I was at a jeans workshop and someone used yellow Chaco Liner on white denim, and it also didn’t brush off.  Normally I don’t have any problems with the yellow, and it doesn’t bother me too much in this case, but it’s something to be aware of.  (You can faintly see it in the picture below.  It’s faint, but it’s there.)

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

So, there you go!  I hope this is helpful to someone out there.  I know I spent a lot of time hunting down blog posts about this pattern and searching the web for information and materials.  Hopefully this will save someone some time should you decide to go for it and make this bag.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

Recommendations

This week’s recommendations are all bag-related!

Do you have any favorite bag patterns?  I still enjoy sewing clothing the most, but I’m opening up to the idea of sewing a bag here and there.

Attempted: Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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Attempted:  Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

This week’s project was an attempt to tick several boxes:  using some of my fabric stash, making a maxi skirt, and learning another method for adding side-seam pockets to garments.  I wanted a basic design–rectangles gathered into a waistband, but a waistband with an elastic back so it would be really comfortable.  This seemed like a brilliant way to use the last three yards of ankara (also known as wax print) fabric that I had bought a few years ago, but it also preserved the fabric in nearly whole form in case things didn’t work out, since it’s just large gathered rectangles.  (In case you are curious, I also made a shirt and a pair of shorts from this fabric.)

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

For my starting point, I used the Elastic Back Skirt Tutorial from Cashmerette.  I got this some time ago by signing up for their newsletter.  I also used the Ankara Skirt Tutorial from the KLKC Collections blog.  These tutorials were helpful in guiding me through what math I would need to get the result that I wanted, which was a waistband that looked flat in the front and was elastic in the back, with a finished height of two inches.  I made the flat front wrap slightly to the back before incorporating the elastic.  So far, so good. This wasn’t too difficult.

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

But I wanted pockets.  That’s where things got tricky.

I used the directions found in “The Low Profile Pocket” by Kathleen Cheetham in Threads magazine, issue #195 (Feb./Mar. 2018), p. 36-41 (the pocket pattern piece is available on the Threads website).  This article was excellent!

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

I sewed my BEST in-seam pockets to date.

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

However…

The article has you sew part of the pockets and the side seams together before attaching the waistband.  My skirt tutorials have you construct the front and back separately and then sew the side seams.  So I had a quandary.

I wanted to interface the front of my waistband and then fold it over, covering the seam allowance at the top of my gathered skirt so everything would look nice and neat.  I couldn’t quite figure out how to cover those seam allowances with all the other things I had to take into consideration.

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

What ensued was a lot of thinking about process, and adapting.  I was going to write it all out for you, but it’s a lot.

The end result is some good sewing and some ugly sewing.  One thing I’m really glad I thought about was how to keep the back elastic stretchy.  In order to do that, I sewed with a zigzag stitch while stretching my elastic, but choosing two-inch wide elastic and gathering 53″ of fabric per panel adds up to a lot of bulk.

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

I got it done in the end, but I’m going to have to wear this a bit to decide if I like it.

Here are the pros and cons.

Pro:

  • nice, full, dramatic, long skirt
  • having pockets that disappear beautifully (and trying a new technique!)
  • general structure:  flat front, elastic back, pockets
  • using a bunch of stash fabric in one fell swoop
  • if I don’t like this, my fabric is still nearly whole and can be reused

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

Things that would have made this project easier:

  • omitting the pockets or sewing different ones
  • assembling the front and back separately (need to alter pocket directions or use a different method)

Things that could have been better:

  • place the pockets lower
  • make pocket opening wider (it’s a close fit to get my hands in and out)

Other options I could have used:

  • narrower waistband, which would have allowed for narrower elastic
  • elastic + zipper at the back and less gathered fabric to reduce bulk

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

So, I like and don’t like this skirt.

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

It’s really bulky at the waist, which I don’t love, but I love the drama of the big skirt and being able to see that much of the fabric at once.  I love the length that I can wear leggings under if necessary.  I do think that there is probably a nicer way to produce a comfortable maxi skirt with pockets (if you have pattern recommendations, please leave them in the comments!).  I feel mixed about this one.  We’ll see  how it fares over time or if I remake it.  If you have ever made a maxi skirt, feel free to share a link in the comments so I can see.  I’d like a good TNT maxi skirt and maxi dress pattern I can use over and over.

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

 

 

 

Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants…in Octopus fabric

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Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants…in Octopus fabric

Hi, everyone!  Let’s talk sewing!

Today’s project is Simplicity 1696, a slim pant/trouser pattern that comes with different pattern pieces for slim/average and curvy fit.  (I think it may be out of print, but you can still find it in various places on the internet.)  I’ve made this pattern once before in a gray stretch sateen, but this time, I decided to go beyond basic and use a fun print for my pants–octopi!  This fabric is a quilting cotton called Mystery Food by Cotton + Steel.  I’ve had some serious yardage of this from Pintuck & Purl for a long time now, and it was time to start using it.  I can always sew (or buy) normal clothes, but I’m not here to only sew normal clothes.  Sometimes, I just have to make the crazy stuff.  It takes more courage to wear, but it’s also really fun.

Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

So, let’s talk pants (or trousers, if you prefer)!  This is a great pattern.  The directions have a little worksheet for you to help you figure out if you need the slim/average or curvy back piece.  I really like the teaching aspect of this pattern.

Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

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Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

I took all my measurements and found that the curvy piece would be best.  This time around I used the size 20 because my measurements have gone up a bit and because this quilting cotton is a non-stretch fabric, whereas the fabric I used last time had stretch.  I really like the ease that’s included in most of the Big 4 patterns because I like my clothes a little looser-fitting, however I think I probably could have stayed with the 18 on this one.  When these come out of the washer and dryer, they fit close, but they loosen up right away and can get a little baggy by the end of the day.  The good news is, they are very comfortable.

Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

Although I really like this pattern, and think it’s a great basic, there were a few parts of the directions that I had trouble with, so this is the part to skip if you’re not here for the details.

Details

The main issue I had was with the fly.  It’s not hard to put it in, but it really doesn’t overlap enough.  I want the zipper to sit deeper in the fly so that it doesn’t show when it’s closed.  I think next time I might study the Ginger Jeans directions (from Closet Case Patterns) to see how they did it and see if I can adapt it to this pattern.  I have a really hard time going “off-book” sometimes and not using the directions given.  It’s an area I can stand to grow in, so this may be a good opportunity.  My zipper went in ok, but there’s stitching all over the place, which looks ugly to me.  Who knows?  Maybe I missed something.

Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

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Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

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Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

I did depart from the directions in Step 20.  Rather than hand-basting the fly in place, I pinned on the outside and carefully stitched over the marked seamline with a clear embroidery foot.

I also did something funky with the waistband, cutting off some excess that I needed, which I soon realized, and sewed back on.  You can see it in the first zipper picture above.  Haha!  Sometimes I make ridiculous mistakes.  I have no idea what that was about, but the crazy print camouflages a lot, so it’s ok.

I omitted the faux welt pockets on the back.  Maybe someday, if I try to perfect this pattern, I’ll add real welt pockets.  The fake welts just look too fake to me.

Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

Fitting

This is definitely an area I have to work on, but one great thing about this pattern is that there is a “Fine Tuning as You Sew” section that gives you an order for your fitting and different things you might need to tweak.

Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

I took in the center back seam by 1/2″.  I needed more back thigh room (at least that was my guess, judging by some of the lines in the back), so I minimized the inseam seam allowances at the top.  I also sewed a deeper crotch curve in the back.  Sometimes when you do that, you have to add more width at the hip, but these were roomy enough that I didn’t have to.  There are still some lines radiating out from the back at the top of the thighs, but I just left them.  The additional thigh room helped a little, but I’m not sure how to make them disappear completely, so for now they are good enough.  Pants fitting is still not something that I have down, but I’m learning!

Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

Final Thoughts

I like these pants a lot, but they do look a bit like pajama pants to me.  It’s hard to see the darts and the pockets because everything just blends together with the print.  I’d be curious to see how these look in a twill bottomweight fabric.  By the way–in case you are wondering–the pockets on these pants are great.  They are nice and roomy, and don’t stick out too much.

Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

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Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

I still feel like I have a little work to do in the fitting department.  I have my usual fitting quandary with these, which is that I think something is off, but I don’t know what it is or how to fix it.  It might be that I need a heavier fabric or maybe something that I’m not yet aware of.  Fitting in general feels a little bit like reaching around in the dark and hoping you can figure out what it is you just bumped into.  Every little light that you manage to shed on it helps, though.

Overall, I’m glad I made these pants, and will be curious to see how well this fabric holds up as pants and how much I wear these.  I would definitely make this pattern again in the future.

Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

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Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

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Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

Recommendations

  • This one is for those who are local to the North Shore of Massachusetts (or for anyone traveling here).  My husband and I tried George’s of Gloucester (I guess it’s technically called George’s Coffee Shop) a little while ago, and it was great!  The menu was really creative, you definitely won’t leave hungry, and the people working there seem to be happy to be there.  I’m really noticing places like that these days–you can tell when the employees are happy, and it affects everyone around them in a good way.
  • I just saw “Night Sky” petunias at one of my local nurseries and found them really striking.  They make me think of speckled enamelware or splatter painting (or, of course, a night sky).  I’m not usually a petunia fan, but these might end up in my garden this year.  Clearly I’m in a speckle phase.
  • I love Erica Bunker’s version of McCall’s 7330.  I just bought this jumpsuit pattern, and I love how she made the waistband with elastic and used industrial snaps.  So smart!
  • And now it’s time for some tiny hands!  Check out this tiny hands makeup tutorial.  I don’t wear makeup, but this is so funny, it doesn’t even matter.

Spring is Breaking Through! Outside and Inside in April

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Spring is Breaking Through!  Outside and Inside in April

Winter has just held on in New England this year, but I think spring is finally breaking through.  I’ve got some inside pictures from a trip to a large greenhouse and some outdoor hints of spring for you.  I hope you enjoy them!

Inside

Outside and Inside in April

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Outside and Inside in April

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Outside and Inside in April

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Outside and Inside in April

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Outside and Inside in April

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Outside and Inside in April

 

Outside

Outside and Inside in April

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Outside and Inside in April

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Outside and Inside in April

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Outside and Inside in April

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Outside and Inside in April

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Outside and Inside in April

It still feels surprising to see the sun or any colors other than gray, brown, and white.  One thing I can say for winter holding on to the last gasp is that I am REALLY thankful for spring!

 

 

McCall’s 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

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McCall’s 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

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

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

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McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

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

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

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

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

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

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

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

Details

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

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

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

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

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McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

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

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

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

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

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

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

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

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McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

Recommendations

  • The History of English podcast just had a great episode (#110) called “Dyed in the Wool” that is all about words and phrases in the English language that were originally related to the wool trade.  You’ll be surprised when you find out where some of the last names, terms, and phrases you’ve heard originated from.
  • Have you ever looked at the knitting patterns from Boyland Knitworks?  I’ve seen a few on Instagram and at Pintuck & Purl, and they’re so beautiful!  I’m in love with the Alyeska sweater.  I kind of thinking I could actually make the Glacier Park cowl.  I’ll have to keep it in mind if I need another knitting project.
  • I went on a little trip up to New Hampshire last weekend and stopped at the Tilt’n Diner in Laconia, NH.  It was great!  It was decorated in a fun 1950’s style with paintings of ’50’s scenes on the walls and quirky sayings all over.  I got breakfast, but I think they serve all meal types at all times of day.  Milkshake for breakfast?  That’s up to you!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fabric

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pattern and Sewing Details

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommendations

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

Outside (and Inside) in March

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Outside (and Inside) in March

This month has flown by, and after being hammered by storm after storm, I’m ready for spring!  OK.  I feel that way at the end of every winter, but three Nor’easters in a row is notable.  I also didn’t get outside much, but I made it a priority to get out recently, and even though the snow is still on the ground, I could tell that spring was coming.  Bring it on!

Outside in March

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Outside in March

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Outside in March

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Outside in March

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Outside in March

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Outside in March

And a few from my favorite greenhouse.  Greenhouses are a great place to visit in the winter and early spring!

Outside (and Inside) in March

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Outside (and Inside) in March

The geometric patterns formed by the spikes on cacti are so cool!

I hope you are having lovely weather wherever you are!  See you next month with more sewing!

 

 

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

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

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

Meraki Hat in Hedgehog Fibres and Malabrigo

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

Meraki Hat in Hedgehog Fibres and Malabrigo

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

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

Meraki Hat in Hedgehog Fibres and Malabrigo

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

Meraki Hat in Hedgehog Fibres and Malabrigo

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Meraki Hat in Hedgehog Fibres and Malabrigo

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

Meraki Hat in Hedgehog Fibres and Malabrigo

Recommendations

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