Tag Archives: Alabama Chanin

Hits and Misses: T-Shirts, Exercise Top, Exercise Leggings

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I think it’s time for a little catch-up around here.  I took a break from sewing bathing suits after making my tests runs to try a few pattern alterations and to begin exploring exercise clothing.  My goals were to give my basic Alabama Chanin long-sleeved t-shirt pattern tapered sleeves and a boat neck, to turn a New Look dress pattern into a t-shirt with a curved hem, to make an exercise shirt, and to make some exercise leggings.

During the winter I had wanted a long-sleeved boat (bateau) neck shirt pattern.  I had some fabric in mind for it and I thought it would be a useful addition to my pattern library since it’s a style that is versatile enough to work in casual and more dressed up settings.  I took the basic t-shirt pattern with long, fluted sleeves from the book Alabama Studio Sewing + Design and, using the directions in Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing, tried to create a boat neck that would not be so wide as to show undergarments, but would still have that classic look.  I also decided to taper the sleeves so they would no longer flare out at the bottom.  I think the sleeve alteration went well, but the neckline needs to come together in a point at the sides rather than being a flattened oval.  Here is my test garment, made from knit sheets and sewn with yellow thread for contrast.

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

I’d call this a partial win because even though it doesn’t fit my entire vision, the sleeves are good, and my wardrobe desperately needed some brightly colored t-shirts for spring.  I can always come back and work on the neckline later.

Next is my alteration of New Look 0595 from dress to t-shirt.  I love raglan sleeve t-shirts and have been looking for just the right pattern, so I decided to experiment with altering this one.

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Because it has a lot of ease, and I would be making it with a knit fabric, I sized way down and made the 10 (going by my measurements, I should have made a 14/16).  I traced the curved hem of a button down shirt that I like to get the hem shape, and decided to bind the bottom edge a la Alabama Chanin by simply covering it with a folded piece of jersey cut on the cross-grain and stitching with a stretch stitch (in this case, a zig-zag).  Here is version one:

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Version one turned out shorter than I had planned and anticipated, so I added a few inches and came up with version two.

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Just right!

My too-short shirt and the sleeves of version two were made from some clearance fabric (probably poly/spandex).  I’m hoping it doesn’t pill too badly and get gross, but we’ll see.  Remember these leggings?  The fabric on them is pretty pilled/nasty now, so they don’t make it out of the house any more.  For the front and back of the second shirt I used some skirts from Old Navy that I don’t wear anymore and, by a happy accident, I cut an extra front and back, so I dug out the knit sheets again to add sleeves and got this second just-right shirt:

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

You can’t see it very well in these shots, but the skirts had some seaming on them that adds to the interest of these shirts and also makes me look like I did more work than I actually did.  Nice!

Version Two:  a hit!

Next up is my first try at an exercise shirt.  I was intrigued by PatternReview’s Activewear Contest (although I didn’t enter) and I love looking through the clothing and patterns on Melissa Fehr’s website, FehrTrade.  So, thanks to some wicking fabric and poly/spandex from Joann Fabrics and McCall’s 6848, I ventured forth.

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

This McCall’s pattern is one you may remember from when I made these shorts in a wax resist/Ankara fabric.  The pattern is actually for pajamas, but the shirt was perfect for the gym.

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

This was really fast and easy to sew.  Even though this pattern is for wovens rather than knits, I went with my measurements and made a medium.  I like workout tops that are a little loose for airflow.  This one feels great.  For the edges, I hemmed the bottom by folding the fabric up and sewing with a zig-zag stitch, and for the arm and neck edges, I cut strips of my back fabric cross-grain, folded them over the raw edges, and zig-zagged them on.  Since the knit fabric won’t fray, you don’t have to fold the edges of the binding under or double fold it at the hem (or finish any edges on the inside).  I love knits!

When I went to they gym to test it out, I felt like the coolest person there.  I would definitely make this one again (and probably will).

Workout shirt:  a hit!

Lastly, I made myself some leggings using the same wicking fabric I used for the front of my shirt (above) and a self-drafted pattern (you can see a post on that here).  This was a bit of a learning experience.  The pants came together quickly and easily and, while not as stretchy as the fabric I used the first time I sewed this pattern, I could get them on fine.  Here’s what they look like:

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Not too bad.  Maybe the fabric is a little thin, but it was a start.  I took them to the gym to test them out just by shooting some baskets–nothing too strenuous.

First, I realized this:

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Oops.  The waistband’s a little loose.  OK.  I could fix that.  I folded it over for the time being, and kept shooting baskets.  It was winter.  I was cranky.  I needed some form of exercise.

Then, I had this problem.  Can you see what it is?

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Hm.  My pants started to slide down a bit.  The crotch was getting lower and lower as I hopped around and chased the basketball.  Nothing indecent, but not what you want out of the pants you wear to exercise in.  Good thing I wasn’t on a treadmill!  I had to go through this sort of thing a few times:

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Pull up one side.

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Pull up the other side.

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Make sure the front is pulled up and fold that waistband over again.

Hm.  Maybe this was more than an elastic problem.  Luckily, no one is really looking at you as much as you think they are, so it wasn’t like I was a spectacle or anything.  However, I started to think that maybe this problem had something to do with my inexperience and, um, my fabric choice.  I went back to Joann’s and looked.  This fabric only has about 8% spandex and definitely stretches more in one direction than the other.  So, these leggings got chalked up to “a learning experience” and they are going back with the other fabric to be reused in another garment.  I also bought myself the FehrTrade PB Jam Leggings Pattern to one day try exercise pants again.

Exercise Leggings:  a miss and a craft fail (but a good learning experience).

I’m hoping to finish one last project and then get back to bathing suits (and more!).  I really, really want to try adding underwires to the Soma Swimsuit while simultaneously turning Bikini Variation 2 into a tankini.  Even after plenty of online research, I’m not confident I know what to do as far as adding the support I want.  Any advice?  I think I’ve been avoiding it.  It could bomb or it could BE the bomb!  Stay tuned!!!

 

The Unblogged Cardigan

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Remember when I was doing all the sewing with Polartec?  I made the skirt, the dress, a pair of pants that didn’t make it on the blog because instead of fitting me, they fit my child, and a cardigan that has yet to make an appearance here.  So, while I’m currently still busy with bathing suits, I thought I would show you this cardigan that I sewed just a little while back.  Don’t worry though; once I test out my latest bathing suit top, we’ll talk bathing suits again.

This cardigan was made from McCall’s 6844.  I was completely inspired by Bianca’s green jersey version, and would still love to make one like hers someday, but since we seem to be living through a Canadian winter in Massachusetts this year, fleece was more seasonally appropriate.  I made it with the same Polartec Classic 200 Sweater Look fabric from Mill Yardage as the pieces I mentioned above.

Cardigan (McCall's 6844) by Pattern and Branch

Cardigan (McCall's 6844) by Pattern and Branch

I made a medium of View C, which has a shawl collar and a high/low peplum.

Cardigan (McCall's 6844) by Pattern and Branch

Cardigan (McCall's 6844) by Pattern and Branch

Thanks to the many reviews on the Pattern Review site, I skipped the interfacing in the collar and sewed the sleeve in flat.  Also, despite what the pattern says, the front does meet, so I debated adding a closure, but skipped it in the end.

I liked the idea of modelling this in the snow while also wearing the red shirt I made so, on a “warm” day in the 20’s (Fahrenheit), we went out and took some pictures.

Cardigan (McCall's 6844) by Pattern and Branch

Cardigan (McCall's 6844) by Pattern and Branch

Cardigan (McCall's 6844) by Pattern and Branch

Cardigan (McCall's 6844) by Pattern and Branch

Here’s a shot of the red shirt in action, too. ;)  The shirt was sewn from an Alabama Chanin pattern.  See the link for more details.

I have to say, this was a really quick and easy pattern.  The cardigan is comfortable, super warm, and looks really cool with the variable length of the peplum.  I like that the fleece fabric has enough body to make the back and sides stand out in a really interesting way.  I noticed on Pattern Review that a lot of reviewers loved this pattern, and were churning them out for themselves and as gifts for others.  I was not so generous and only made one for myself.  Selfish sewing is my favorite…

(Maybe someday I’ll have made all I want need and by then my skills will also be awesome, and I’ll start making things for other people instead of only myself.  I’ll keep you posted on that.  It might be awhile.)

Next up (probably):  more bathing suits!!!

 

Details: The Red Shirt

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It’s a good (although slightly stressful) problem to have when your sewing outpaces your blogging.  Maybe it’s all these snow days, but I feel like the sewing has been flowing, if you know what I mean.  I want to get some quality pictures before I show you some of the latest projects, but I do have pictures of the finally finished red t-shirt!  Remember it in its original form?  Or maybe you remember what it looked like after going through the wash?  If not, I’ll give you the quick recap here:

Details: Finished t-shirt

The first version of the shirt with beaded collar

To survive in this household, most garments have to be able to make it through the washer at a bare minimum.  The dryer is negotiable.  So, it was with fingers crossed that I threw this one in the washer and dryer.

Details: Finished t-shirt

The trim didn’t make it through the washer.   :(

After consulting the experts (my mother and grandmother), I took the trim off.  I looked for more in the fabric store (so many good rhyming phrases today!), but nothing had the same pizzazz as my beading.  I could have tried beading it myself or something, but that sounded like a lot of work for a t-shirt of questionable fabric quality.  So in the end, I cut some strips of t-shirt fabric and bound the edge using a zig-zag stitch.

My first try wasn’t awesome…

Details: Finished t-shirt

 

The zig-zag was so wide it looked homemade in the worst way.  So, I ripped it out again and tried one more time.

(Wow.  I can’t believe I just typed that.  Usually I would just ignore this kind of mistake and wear it as it is.  I must be…getting better!  Oh, my goodness!  I’m becoming better at sewing!  I hope this doesn’t mean I’m responsible for fixing EVERY mistake.  You have to have some boundaries.)

The third try was the ticket.  I like this finish so much better.

Details: Finished t-shirt

Details: Finished t-shirt

The back has that little sewing line that both covers the join in the binding and acts as a tag so you know which side is the back.  Clever, huh?  I didn’t even plan it.  I just decided that it was supposed to be that way after I had done it.  That happens a lot in art, too, by the way.  Just in case you ever wondered…

Details: Finished t-shirt

I sewed a little seam at the front to make it look v-ish.  Now it kind of makes me think of this old GAP t-shirt I used to have that had a rough-stitched look to it.  That was a great shirt.  Its spirit lives on.

I’m so happy to have a wearable shirt.  I needed a few good t-shirts with some small, interesting details to form the base of my winter fashion ensembles.  ;)  If anyone has an awesome boat/bateau neck pattern that they love, please leave it in the comments.  I’ve been contemplating that in black for occasions when I want to look put together but still wear a t-shirt.

 

Alabama Chanin Long Skirt, New England Style

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In my now decade-long quest for THE ULTIMATE WINTER SKIRT, I have thought of many fabric combinations, patterns, and crazy ideas to create a long winter skirt that would be warm and yet still look good.  What I really want is a skirt that feels like I’m wearing a blanket, but looks socially acceptable.  To that end, I ordered a vintage pattern, and started poring over fabric sites looking at faux fur.  I went through my fabric cabinet and considered (finally) using some of my wool.  I even thought about cutting up our Vellux blanket as lining.  The Polartec website became very familiar to me as I researched interesting technical fabrics.  Finally, it dawned on me.  Why not make Version 1 of THE ULTIMATE WINTER SKIRT from a pattern I already knew I liked?  What about a Polartec sweater knit (which I was itching to try out anyway) with the Alabama Chanin Long Skirt pattern from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design?

Alabama Chanin Long Skirt, New England Style (Pattern and Branch)

The more I sew, at least lately, the more I find that what I’m interested in doing is exploring.  As I contemplated what I wanted to sew in the coming year, or at least the current season, I realized that I want to try out new and interesting fabrics in (hopefully) new and interesting ways.  My wonderful husband obliged me by purchasing a large amount of sweater-knit fleece in a charcoal color from millyardage.com as a Christmas gift.  Goal number one with that fabric was to attempt the skirt.

Alabama Chanin Long Skirt, New England Style (Pattern and Branch)

I cut out the same size in the Alabama Chanin Long Skirt that I usually use (I’ve also made this skirt in cotton/modal jersey.), and bound it with fold-over elastic that I already had.  I didn’t stretch the elastic when I was sewing, though, so the waistband came out looking…wavy.

Alabama Chanin Long Skirt, New England Style (Pattern and Branch)

Alabama Chanin Long Skirt, New England Style (Pattern and Branch)

So, in the interest of time and not losing momentum on the project, I cut off the waistband and sewed on another, this time stretching the elastic as I sewed.  It was still a bit wavy, but the skirt is meant to be sort of low-rise, so when you put it on, it works.  (Only one note of caution–if there is any chance you may have young children tugging on your clothes, watch it.  There’s always the possibility you could get pantsed in this skirt.  Can you get “pantsed” in a skirt?  Whatever you call it, watch yourself–no one wants to lose the bottom half of their outfit in public…well, no one should want that, anyway.  It could definitely happen in this skirt.)  This particular pattern has a small train, which I love, and which I kept in the jersey version of the skirt.  It does drag on the floor a bit, but it looks lovely.  For this winter version, though, I trimmed the back even with the front, cutting off the train.  It would be too sad to have the back of the skirt covered in snow, slush, and salt.

Alabama Chanin Long Skirt, New England Style (Pattern and Branch)

Alabama Chanin Long Skirt, New England Style (Pattern and Branch)

As yet it is unhemmed, partially because I love the raw-edged look, and partially out of curiosity.  I want to see how the length works with my various shoes and if I can get away with raw edges in this fleece sweater-knit as well as I can with a cotton jersey.  I may hem it later.  The other reason is that I want some instant gratification on this pattern, and I can call it done if I don’t hem it.  Now you know the whole truth.

And now…I must tell you of my initial triumph.

On Sunday I wore the skirt to church with a stretchy sweater and my wool “poncho” (a.k.a. piece-of-fabric-that-I-wrap-around-myself-and-secure-with-a-kilt-pin).  I wore long johns underneath and booties with socks.  On that day, I knew I had finally achieved an ULTIMATE WINTER OUTFIT.  I was essentially wearing blankets and pajamas:  long underwear (“pajamas”), a skirt that felt like a blanket, a sweater as stretchy as a t-shirt, and a “poncho” that was really a blanket wrapped around me.  I was wearing pajamas and blankets, but it was socially acceptable enough that I felt like I had dressed up for church!

But wait!  Was I essentially practicing deception…at church, of all places?!!!  Was I really wearing my pajamas and blankets to church?!  Well, I’m going to say no to the deception, but YES to the awesome nature of that outfit.  All winter outfits should have the qualities of ultimate comfort and warmth while still being socially acceptable and looking good.  SUCCESS!!!!

I feel that my life is now fulfilled.  Blog, finished.

Just kidding.

 

Alabama Chanin Long Skirt, New England Style (Pattern and Branch)

Finished Projects: T-shirt and Scarf

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Monday was my most productive project day in recent memory.  Actually, I forget a lot of stuff, so I’m having trouble remembering any day more productive on the creative project front.  It was a good day.

First up were the two secret Christmas presents I’ve been working on.  In truth, I finished one over the weekend, but they sort of go together in my mind, so I’m counting it as two.  Also, I was having an internal debate on just what the finishing touches would be, but now that that is decided, and those finishing touches have been added, they are done.  I’m looking forward to showing you after they’ve been delivered.

I also finished up a t-shirt.  I took a risk on some cottony-looking polyester fabric I found on sale at Joann Fabric and, rather than doing the neckline the way the pattern shows, I sewed on some beading that I cut off a silk jacket someone gave me.

New t-shirt by Pattern and Branch New t-shirt by Pattern and Branch New t-shirt by Pattern and Branch New t-shirt by Pattern and Branch

 

You can see from some of the close-up shots of the beading that it looks a little…fragile.  Also, it’s not perfect where I joined the ends of the beadwork, but I decided to throw perfection out the window and look at it as an experiment.  We’ll see what happens the first time I wash it.  I may need to post an update.  The edges of the shirt, sleeves, and beading are unfinished because I like that look.

The final project of the day was an infinity scarf.

Infinity scarf by Pattern and Branch

I’m not sure what to think about this one.  OK, truthfully, my first thought was “clown collar”.  It’s not a problem with the pattern–the pattern was lovely.  It’s just really long.  It’s so long that I can wrap it around my neck three times instead of two to make a figure 8.  I’m not sure what symbol can now describe this.  Is this good?  Is it a craft fail?  Should I chop some length off to make it shorter?   I’m not really sure.  I’ll have to wear it for a while and get back to you.  Even if it looks silly, it’s only clothes.  It’s only one day.

At the end of my super creative day, I even made up a grocery list.  I felt so accomplished.  The next day, I took a nap and watched TV.  You can’t be productive all the time, right?

I hope you have a great weekend and find some creative time in the midst of it.

 

Fall Sewing

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Seems like there hasn’t been much in the way of sewing on the blog lately.  There’s a reason for that.  I’ve been hard at work on secret Christmas presents for my two closest college friends and just in case they happen to read the blog, I don’t want to give anything away.  These projects are “due” at the end of the month, but after they are finished, I have some other projects in mind.  Here’s what I’m thinking for fall (and winter) sewing.

  • Distinctive long-sleeved t-shirts.

I’d like some interesting t-shirts that can be used for layering or on their own, so I’ll probably turn to Alabama Studio Sewing + Design for my pattern.

Fall Sewing with Pattern and Branch

Fall Sewing with Pattern and Branch

I have some beading from a deconstructed jacket that could be a cool accent as well as some crocheted pieces I could add.  I’m still thinking out what sort of fabric I want, but whatever it is, it needs to look and feel cozy.

  • A sweatshirt dress.

I’d love to wear leggings more, at least in the fall (before it’s freezing), but I’d like my rear end to stay covered (which would also keep me warmer).  Enter, the sweatshirt dress or tunic.  I’ve seen a few for sale (like this one), but I think it would be fun to sew one.  Here is an XL men’s sweatshirt I found at my favorite hunting grounds, the thrift store.  I’m hoping to turn it into my sweatshirt dress.

Fall/Winter Sewing (Pattern and Branch)

Fall/Winter Sewing (Pattern and Branch)

 

Fall/Winter Sewing (Pattern and Branch)

That will be a trial and error project.  The key mental element is not to get too attached to the piece in case it should end up as a Craft Fail.

  • Anna Maria Horner’s free pattern/instructions for the Figure 8 Scarf.

(Here’s a link to the post where you can find the picture that inspired me.)  I’ve been wanting to make this scarf for years, so I’m hoping to have it done by the time those secret Christmas presents get finished.

Incidentally, Anna Maria Horner’s blog is one of my all-time favorites.  This amazing lady is over-the-top creative and has done so many things (including fabric design, painting, pattern design, and a host of needlework related things), but what comes through most clearly in her blog is her deep, deep love for her family.  Her blog seems to be largely about her creative endeavors, but her love of her family shines through even more brightly.  She has a warm and genuine voice that makes you sure that if you were neighbors, you would be friends.  She doesn’t post every day, but every post is worth waiting for.  I highly recommend her blog and her work.

  • The ultimate winter skirt.

For years I have dreamed of creating a floor-length skirt that is lined with something soft and warm like fleece or faux fur.  It would look like a normal skirt from the outside, but feel like you are wearing a cozy blanket!  It would be awesome!

Actually, a friend told me that Burberry has brought out the poncho for this year–not the ponchos you’ve seen in the last few years that have some shaping and a neckhole, but basically a blanket that you wrap around yourself and call a poncho, so…what if I wore (1) my ultimate winter skirt, with (2) a “poncho” (i.e. blanket) around my shoulders, and (3) my new-to-me plaid flannel shirt (which I suspect is actually a pajama top)?!  It would be like being in bed, but you would look perfectly acceptable!  This seems pretty brilliant to me.  Not only would I be appropriate, warm, and cozy, I would also look high-fashion…ish.  Sounds like a winner if I ever heard of one.

Oh!  Here’s a look at the vintage pattern I bought that I am hoping to lengthen to make the skirt:

Fall/Winter Sewing (Pattern and Branch)

Vintage Vogue 6491

Fall/Winter Sewing (Pattern and Branch)

In case you are wondering, I bought this pattern on Etsy from a vintage pattern shop called Studio G Patterns, which shipped it to me with lightning speed.  I should write a review–they were great.

Of course I have a million more ideas, and things could shift and change as the fall and winter progress, but I love the project planning, even if everything doesn’t get made.  What are thinking of making or buying for the upcoming season?

Happy Birthday, Pattern and Branch!

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Today is the first birthday of the Pattern and Branch blog!  I can’t believe it’s been a year of blogging already!  Here’s a look back at the very first post.

 

Pattern and Branch turns one year old

Anyone remember this dress?

This was the first project I posted:  a Mary Adams/Alabama Chanin style party dress made from thrifted sheets.  What a fun project and what a fun year it’s been.  Thanks to everyone who has been a reader from the beginning and who has joined us along the way.  I look forward to starting another year with you of creating and discovering new, fun, and funny things.  Cheers!

Finished Projects! Wow!

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Well, you may not believe it (I can hardly believe it myself.), but I found new drive to finish all those projects I was procrastinating on.  I’m excited to show you.

 

Now this first one is borderline “Craft Fail”:  The Swimsuit.  The nice thing is, it looks great on the hanger.

 

I sewed my first swimsuit! (Pattern and Branch)

Front view

 

 

I sewed my first swimsuit! (Pattern and Branch)

Back view

Now, maybe you will (immediately) notice something I did not.  I was so enamored with the chevron design that I only focused on lining the points up with the middle of the suit.  I was so proud of myself!  Now my husband noticed what you may be laughing about right now, but he knows that it annoys me when he trouble-shoots my projects, so he wisely stayed silent until I tried my finished suit on and saw it for myself.  In case you haven’t noticed, think about how the points of a chevron design could, possibly, act as arrows…Do YOU want arrows indicating your most private areas?  I certainly don’t!  Despite this feeling on my part, it seems I managed to point arrows at both my upper and lower private areas.  Oops.  That’s awkward.

I also realized partway through that although I thought I was sewing View C on my pattern, which has a built-in shelf bra, I had actually been sewing View A (even though I cut out View C), and had left the shelf bra out.  Oops.

Swimsuit woes (Pattern and Branch)See that extra piece on the left?  Yep.  Forgot it.  But, you know, I figured I could just skip it because there is that other view without it, so whatever.  Moving on.

At that point, I made the decision to carry on and just finish the suit and hope for something wearable.  I knew I could rip it out, and I also knew that if I did, it would cause a mental block and I would never finish this suit or make another one again, so I had to push through.  I ran into a few quality issues, but I decided to ignore them.  Here is my contrast edge with a few wrinkles.  Still a cool concept though, don’t you think?

Swimsuit woes (Pattern and Branch)I found the instructions for the contrast elastic edging on Kadiddlehopper’s 2013 Swimalong.

So, I finally finished, and was hoping for something wearable.  (Sorry, but you aren’t getting a picture of the finished project.  I don’t feel embarrassed by how it looks, but there is something about modeling a bathing suit on the internet that doesn’t appeal to me.)  It looked ok when I put it on, although the fabric was a little thinner than I would have liked.  That’s when I saw the “arrows” on the suit and also realized that it wasn’t squishing me because it was actually a bit too loose.  I had followed the measurements on the pattern, but either I had picked the wrong fabric (very possible) or they don’t have enough negative ease built into the pattern.  It’s really had to tell what is operator-error or pattern-error here.  Most/all is probably operator-error since this was my first attempt.

Will I wear this in public?  No.  But am I glad I made it?  Yes.  Now the question is:  Should I buy more fabric and try again since I could probably get through it quickly now that I’ve done it once, or will I still get a mediocre suit because the pattern is not awesome?  I don’t have the experience to know.  What do you think?

(In case you want to read it, I posted a review with more technical details on PatternReview about this pattern.)

Now for the other two projects, the shirt and the dress.  Rather than getting fancy with them, despite how cool it could have been, I could tell that if I didn’t finish them soon, they would enter that perpetual work-in-progress zone and never be done, so I decided to call them finished with only the contrast binding on the neck and shoulders.

Alabama Chanin shirt by Pattern and Branch

The shirt

Alabama Chanin dress by Pattern and Branch

The dress

I did have to go back and do a small zigzag stitch right on the edges because the wide zigzag I did in the middle of the binding didn’t reach far enough out to tack the edges of the binding down, and it kept rolling up.  Maybe you can just see it below.

Alabama Chanin shirt with contrast binding by Pattern and Branch

Both of these patterns are my machine-sewn version of some of the basics in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin.  I love the look of the hand-sewn garments (especially the embellished ones) in her books, but when I want a quick project with a great silhouette, I sew the basic patterns on my machine (plus, you can use old t-shirts or knit sheets for fabric).

I’ve worn the shirt, and I like it, although I will give you one thing to be aware of if you sew with knits sheets.  Sometimes (ok, every time I’ve used them) the grain is off.  I don’t often notice it in the finished garment, but I feel like this shirt pulls slightly to one side.  It’s subtle.  I’m the only one who will notice, but I haven’t yet started to obsess about fabric grain.  If you do–then buyer beware!  The good news is that knit is really forgiving and I never find any of that to be a problem after a few wears.

The dress fabric is pretty thin, so it shows curves and bumps more than I would like (as opposed to skimming over them), but I’m going to try some of the layering techniques in the Alabama Chanin books and see what I come up with.  I think it will be cool in the end.

Wow.  If you hung in there through this super-long post, way to go!  Before we go, I want to tell you that I’m keeping my eyes open for a day to take you along clamming (virtually).  This has been a terrible clamming summer with lots of clam-bed closures for a late red-tide bloom (I feel knowledgeable saying that, even though I just learned about it.) and due to rainfall.  (I can explain that more another time.)  I tried to go last week to do a little “catch and release” clamming, but didn’t find any.  I’ll try again, though, and try to document it all for you so you can come along via the blog.

Update:  After hanging on hangers, the fabric in the shirt and dress seem to have relaxed enough that the shirt no longer pulls to the side and, while the dress still pulls to the side a bit, the fabric has relaxed enough that it no longer shows every bump and line.  The dress has also lengthened to floor length, rather than ending at the top of my feet.  Problems solved!  ;)

 

 

 

Works in Progress

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I thought it would be nice to take a little break from clamming and show you what I’m working on.  Once, I asked my husband to make me only work on one project at a time.  He is a wise man, and did not attempt to do this.  Seems like having multiple projects happening all at once is the way my creativity works best.  At least that way, if I’m procrastinating on one project, I can move ahead with another.

As I mentioned previously, I’m working on sewing something I said I would never sew:  a bathing suit.  This is one of the projects I am procrastinating on.  Here’s what I’ve got so far.

Works in Progress:  bathing suit

Cutting out the bathing suit

Works in Progress:  bathing suit

The bathing suit so far

 

In case you are interested, here is the pattern that I’m using.

Works in Progress:  bathing suit

Works in Progress:  bathing suit

So far, it’s going ok, thanks to numerous blog posts around the web, but I keep avoiding it because I’m afraid I’ll mess it up.  That’s pretty silly, though.  I mean, really.  If I could master bathing suits, I would probably be tapping into one of the few areas of home sewing that’s actually still cost-effective.  It would be SO GREAT…so I’ve got to get moving.  You can all hold me accountable to actually finish it.  Plus, I need a bathing suit that fits.

One of the projects I am using to procrastinate on my bathing suit is this shirt, made with a pattern from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin (one of my all-time favorite sewing books).  This is the sleeveless t-shirt top.

Works in Progress:  Sleeveless T-Shirt TopSo, this was meant to be a quick project.  I need a few of those to motivate me through the long projects.  The book I got this from is all about hand-sewing, which is really fun, but when I need a quick project, I cheat and machine-sew one of the garments.  They come together really fast and all the patterns that I have tried have been flattering at various sizes.  This one is made from a bed-sheet and an old t-shirt.  (Incidentally, the bed sheet is partly made from recycled plastic bottles AND I got it at a thrift store, so it’s like it’s been recycled multiple times!)  But…

I decided it needed some details, so I added the contrast binding and then tried to add some crochet trim.

Works in Progress:  Sleeveless T-Shirt TopAbove is the marking I made for the trim, but the trim was too white, so I dyed it in black tea.

Works in Progress:  Sleeveless T-Shirt Top

Works in Progress:  Sleeveless T-Shirt Top

Works in Progress:  Sleeveless T-Shirt Top

Works in Progress:  Sleeveless T-Shirt Top

Above is the original white, and the tea-dyed piece, but now the white still seems too white and the tea-dyed piece looks…dirty.  See what you think:

Works in Progress:  Sleeveless T-Shirt Top

Not to fear, though!  I decided to procrastinate on the t-shirt with this!

Works in Progress:  Long Fitted DressThis garment is the Long Fitted Dress, also from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.  This was the quick project that was to save me from the avoidance of the other two.  But then I faced a few decisions.  What color binding to add?  Contrast like the t-shirt or the same fabric?  How about keeping the binding the same as the dress and adding some crochet details to this garment?  (I’m starting to sense a trend in both crocheted details and decision-making leading to procrastination.)

Works in Progress:  Long Fitted DressMaybe something like this?  (The trim on the bottom would actually be on the back side.  There is a small train on the dress–similar to a high-low hem but, being a maxi dress length, it’s more like a small train.)

I was trying to actually make a decision, but it was tricky.  I tried the dress on to see how it looked and realized that the fabric is pretty thin and, rather than skimming curves, it reveals the curves and lines that you usually want fabric to skim over.  So now I’m procrastinating on this project, too.

But I did get something done today!  I have a very weedy garden, but I actually weeded a small part of it.  Want to see?  Yes, you do!  (Because if you stop reading now, I can’t tell, so I’m just going to assume you are still going strong.)

Works in Progress: Garden

Before…

Works in Progress: Garden

After!

I also made a little sign with paint pens on some bits of slate to mark our morning glories and moon flowers.  I’m hoping they take over the deck rails.

Works in Progress: Garden

Lastly, check out my leeks.  They flower every year and look so cool.  They also attract all kinds of very waspy looking insects, so I admire them from afar or in the evening, just to be safe.

Works in Progress: Garden

What are you procrastinating on?

Happy Independence Day!

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Happy Independence Day to everyone in the U.S!  When I was growing up, my Mom always made us wear red, white, and blue for July 4.  We’re all decked out in red, white, and blue at our house today.  Here’s an up-close shot of my patriotic garb:

Independence Day!

Shorts: J.Crew; Shirt: Diesel–thrifted (yes!)

We’re also getting into the spirit with our food.  We tried this recipe and came up with these chocolate covered pretzels.  I think I would use white chocolate as my main chocolate if I did this again, but nevertheless, they are good and easy to make.

Indpendence Day!

I think we also need some late strawberries.  Aren’t these gorgeous?

Independence Day!

If you plan on relaxing at all this weekend, here’s some reading for you:

  • Have you ever looked at Susan Branch’s cookbooks?  A friend just recommended her work, so I’m looking at The Summer Book, which is filled with recipes, gardening tips, and more all illustrated with colorful watercolor paintings.
  • A walk in the woods is always more fun with a foraging book in hand.  The best I’ve found are by Samuel Thayer, who wrote The Forager’s Harvest and Nature’s Garden.
  • Want a fast-paced and interesting adventure book?  Leepike Ridge by N.D. Wilson may be aimed at a middle reader/young adult audience, but it’s good enough that even older readers will enjoy it.
  • Finally, if you’ve ever dreamed of two of your heroes joining forces, you’ll know how I felt when I heard about Craft South and Fashion by HandAnna Maria Horner + Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin teaching a workshop together?  Sounds like creative heaven.  If you go, report back!

 

Have a great weekend!