Tilly and the Buttons Coco Top in Striped Rayon Knit

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Tilly and the Buttons Coco Top in Striped Rayon Knit

Hi, friends!  It’s back to sewing this week.  I have a nice little backlog of sewing projects to share, but the weather hasn’t been cooperating for picture taking.  When the clouds started to brighten on Wednesday, I rushed outside to take pictures of this shirt.

Tilly and the Buttons Coco Top

This is the Coco Top from Tilly and the Buttons.

Tilly and the Buttons Coco Top and Dress

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Tilly and the Buttons Coco Top and Dress

I made the dress version around the time I began sewing regularly, but I had never made the top.  The fabric came from Haberman Fabrics in Royal Oak, Michigan, and I’ve been holding onto it for over a year trying to figure out the best use for it.  It’s a great substantial rayon jersey that is actually reversible:  blue and white on one side and orange and white on the other.  I really wanted to make a reversible garment, but in the end, the mental gymnastics became too much and I decided to go with a Breton-style shirt where I could incorporate both sides of the fabric.  The Coco pattern was just right since it had the little pocket and it wasn’t hard to color block (stripe block?) the sleeves.

Tilly and the Buttons Coco Top

As far as details, I made the size 5 (Tilly has her own sizing system that is different from other patterns and ready-to-wear) in the long-sleeved shirt view with the pocket.  I used the 3/4 length sleeve line as my color/stripe blocking placement line and just added in seam allowance.  I used a jersey needle and a walking foot as well as polyester thread.  I did try out fusible stay tape for my neckline as suggested, which worked out well.  Instead of zigzagging the neckline, however, I used a twin needle, which I also used on the sleeve edges and bottom hem.  And I opted to zigzag my side seams instead of using a straight stitch.  I used to use a straight stitch on knit seams that weren’t going to stretch a lot, but after wearing those garments for a while, a lot of my stitches popped and I had to resew them with a zigzag, so I went right for the zigzag this time.

Tilly and the Buttons Coco Top

I liked sewing this pattern.  Tilly’s directions are very easy to use, and she includes helpful tips here and there.  Her pictures are really clear, and I’m a big fan of her color scheme, which makes all her images fun to look at.  I would certainly make this again–maybe in the dress version.  🙂

Recommendations

    • I recently watched the movie “Queen of Katwe” about a girl living in poverty who learns to play chess and how it changes her life.  It was excellent.
    • Itch to Stitch just released the free Lago Tank pattern.  It looks like a great basic for summer.  I’ve never tried any patterns from this brand although I’ve been tempted.  This might just be the project to start with.
    • Speaking of free sewing patterns, the Curvy Sewing Collective posted an EXTENSIVE round-up of free patterns with a great size range.
    • And to give you a laugh this week, here is a video that reimagines an important part of the Sleeping Beauty story.  😉
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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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

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

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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

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

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

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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

Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Files

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Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Files

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

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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

Recommendations

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

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

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

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

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

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Simplicity 1538

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Simplicity 1538

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

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

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Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

Buttons are from Jo-ann Fabrics.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

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

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

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

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

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

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

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Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

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

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

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

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

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

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

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

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

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

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

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Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

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

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

Recommendations

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

Jutland Pants for Me!!!

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Jutland Pants for Me!!!

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

Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

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

Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

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

Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

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Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

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

Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

I borrowed patch pockets from Simplicity 1020,

Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

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

Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

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Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

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

Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

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Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

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

Jutland Pants for Meee!!!

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

Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

Recommendations

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

Grainline Lark Tee in Wool/Lycra Knit

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Grainline Lark Tee in Wool/Lycra Knit

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

Grainline Lark Tee in Wool Knit

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

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

Grainline Lark Tee in Wool Knit

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

Grainline Lark Tee in Wool Knit

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

Grainline Lark Tee in Wool Knit

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

Grainline Lark Tee in Wool Knit

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Grainline Lark Tee in Wool Knit

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Grainline Lark Tee in Wool Knit

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

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

 

Recommendations

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

 

 

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

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Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

I’ve been thinking for a while about this post.  If you’ve been following my blog for a long time or have looked through past posts and seen a Brimfield post or two (or three), you’ll know that I love antiques.  I’m not a collector of any particular thing, but I love items from the past that I can use in my everyday life.  I like a bargain and a little patina.  Wood, metal, glass, ceramic–those are the materials I like to look for, and many of them have been pressed into service for sewing.  Thanks to some special items from  family and friends as well as flea markets and roadside finds, I have some vintage sewing tools, but I also have some great storage solutions.  That is what I want to share with you today.  Maybe it will give you some ideas or maybe you have fun vintage storage solutions of your own that you’d like to share in the comments.

Let’s take a little tour of my sewing space.  I actually cleaned it up for you.  😉

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

Here’s where I sew at one end of our living room.  Most of my tools and equipment have been gifts, freebies, or bargains.  The sewing table was my Mom’s and the chair belonged to my parents.  That cool old medical lamp was a side of the road find.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

It’s not very bright, but the head can be moved to direct light onto your project and you can make the lamp taller or shorter.

Here are a few more items I find useful.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

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Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

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Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

This is my fabric cabinet, found at a flea market.  Fabric is organized somewhat by color and somewhat by type.

Those are the big items, but I also have some very useful smaller organizers–wooden roast beef and cheese boxes.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

Patterns go in the roast beef boxes…and tools (and other items like trim) go in the cheese boxes.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

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Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

I also use cheese boxes in the drawers of my sewing table for organization.  That’s actually where I keep my box of cutting tools.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

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Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

Other great containers for storage include cigar boxes,

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

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Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

tins,

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

and really any old container that you like the look of and that will fit what you are trying to store.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

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Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

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Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

I also find old locker baskets useful, albeit somewhat pokey.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

For buttons and old, but beautiful spools of thread, I often employ glass canning jars, which look great whether they are vintage or new.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

And on my sewing table/desk, I’ve found that an old stamp holder (if it’s not too rusty) can be useful for holding thread and bobbins for your most recent projects.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

I also use this old shaving mug to hold binder clips for pattern pieces, mini clothes pins for my pattern instructions, and post-it tabs to help me keep my place in the instructions when I’m sewing.  This one features New Hampshire’s “Old Man of the Mountain” who fell off the mountain some time ago, so…I guess it’s even more special now?

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

Once you get started organizing with vintage containers, it’s not hard to follow that up with a few vintage notions.  Often people will give them to you if they are cleaning out and know you are interested.  I love having tools and notions that were loved in the past and knowing I can use and enjoy them and give them a second life.  It makes my own sewing that much more special.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

If you’re looking to add a little vintage flair to your sewing and/or your sewing organization, here are some of my sources.  I will tell you, though, that I’ve loved old things ever since I was little, so this collection of special odds and ends didn’t spring up overnight.  This is a great long-term hunt.  Patience will serve you well.

So, sources!  Number one for so many of these items has been family.  My parents and in-laws have often passed on things they weren’t using that I fell in love with.  Once I started to sew and knit, family and friends also gave me tools from family members who had passed away, which was really special.

If you are near Boston’s North Shore, my favorite flea market is Todd Farm in Rowley, MA.  It’s open every Sunday morning from approximately Easter to Thanksgiving.  I like early-morning antiquing, so I go before church sometimes.  If you are within driving distance of western Massachusetts, I highly recommend Brimfield.  The prices there are not as good (in general) as a small, local flea market like Todd Farm, but the selection is unparalleled.

For cigar boxes, you can often buy them inexpensively (or sometimes get them for free) at cigar shops.  They may not be vintage, but they often have that vintage look regardless.  And consider using any containers that you find useful and beautiful like clean jars or tubs from food or other items.

I also suggest yard sales, side-of-the-road freebies, thrift stores, and super junky bargain antique stores.

Of course all of this takes time, but I love the thrill of the hunt and the opportunity to use things with a history.  If you have any great tips for organizing or sewing with vintage items OR great sources for finding said items, tell me in the comments!

Recommendations

  • Have you seen the new “stickers” from the McCall Pattern Company for iOS?  It’s a free app with little sewing-related images that you can use on your phone (if you have an iPhone) or iPad.  They are super fun to text to your other sewing buddies.
  • So, here’s a website/blog that’s new to me, but could prove very helpful:  Shop the Garment District.  It’s about sewing and shopping for sewing goodies in New York City’s Garment District.  I heard about this site while listening to the Sew Forth Now podcast.  This is an old podcast that you can still listen to by Lori from the blog Girls in the Garden.  I’m finding some great resources through these.  Lori’s blog (which she is still posting to) is also a great source for sewing inspiration as she tries lots of different patterns and fabric.
  • Here is something I learned recently:  Everything is better with doodles.  😉

 

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

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

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

Simplicity 1696

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

So, this year pants are on the list.

Simplicity 1696

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

Simplicity 1696

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Simplicity 1696

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

Simplicity 1696

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

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

You can see it better in the picture below.

Simplicity 1696

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

Simplicity 1696

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

Simplicity 1696

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

Recommendations

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

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

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

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

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

McCall's 7261--Activewear top

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McCall's 7261--Activewear top

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

So, enough talking–on to the project.

McCall's 7261--Activewear top

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

McCall's 7261--Activewear top

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

McCall's 7261--Activewear top

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

McCall's 7261--Activewear top

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

McCall's 7261--Activewear top

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

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

McCall's 7261--Activewear top

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McCall's 7261--Activewear top

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McCall's 7261--Activewear top

Recommendations

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