Tag Archives: Closet Case Patterns

Kalle Shirt in Cotton and Steel “Mochi” Speckled Navy Lawn

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Kalle Shirt in Cotton and Steel “Mochi” Speckled Navy Lawn

It may not be the best for cool fall temperatures, but I love my new Kalle Shirt from Closet Case Patterns.

Cropped Kalle Shirt

I made myself a little batch of sewing projects to transition from summer to fall, which seemed like a good idea when it was still warm.  It seems like less of a good idea now that it’s cooling off, but I’m committed!  And I have no regrets when it comes to this shirt.  I love it.  I have a little confession to make, though.  When I was trying to figure out what to wear the shirt with, I fell for the color combination of these thrifted pants with the shirt.  In my mind, this outfit was going to be AWESOME and would take the sewing and fashion world by storm!  Hahahaha!  It’s sort of a silly outfit with the wide shirt and wide pants and makes me look a little pregnant (I’m not), so THAT didn’t turn out quite like I planned, but these pictures took a long time to take, and there’s no turning back now, so here we are.  I suppose I ought to know better–most of my worst fashion moments come when I think I look super amazing.  A bit of “Pride goeth before a fall”?  😉  OR, on the flip side, “You have to risk big to win big”?  Haha.  Whatever!  Here we go!

Cropped Kalle Shirt

Despite the calendar saying October, two days after I finished sewing this shirt, we had 80 degree (Fahrenheit) weather, which is nice and warm, and I got to wear it to work with my sparkly linen shorts.  Perfect!  Part of what I love so much about this project is the fabric it’s made from.  My first plan was to cut up a linen tablecloth I have but don’t love.  I had been thinking about repurposing that tablecloth for a while, and then I saw Linda’s shirt over on her blog, Elle Gee Makes, and it was just the push I needed to actually do it.  Unfortunately, no matter how much pattern and fabric puzzle-piecing I did, the shirt just wasn’t going to fit on the available fabric.  So, I turned to my stash.

That’s when I saw this speckled Cotton + Steel lawn, a part of Rashida Coleman-Hale’s “Mochi” collection.  I had originally purchased this fabric from Pintuck & Purl to sew up a shirt pattern from the 1980’s, but I reassigned it to the Kalle.  It’s such a great fabric with so many different colors.  Also, I loved splatter paint designs as a kid, so there’s that.  😉  If you aren’t familiar with lawn, it’s a smooth, plain-woven fabric that is great for making shirts from.  It feels finer and thinner than most quilting cotton and is crisp rather than drapey.  This particular one is made from cotton.

Cropped Kalle Shirt

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Cropped Kalle Shirt

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Cropped Kalle Shirt

Let’s talk design details.  This pattern has a lot of options with three lengths and different collar, back pleat, and button placket options.  You can even optionally buy a PDF pattern for long sleeves.

Cropped Kalle Shirt

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Cropped Kalle Shirt

I chose the cropped shirt (View A), which I lengthened by three inches, in a straight size 14.  My measurements would put me in a 12 bust, 14/16 waist and 16 hip, so I guess I chose the 14 to split the difference and avoid having to grade between sizes, even though that’s what I usually do.  I’m happy with how this turned out, though, so I think it was a fine choice.  As for the other options, I chose the band collar, back box pleat, and hidden button placket.  One bonus:  the relaxed fit of this shirt meant that I didn’t have to do a broad back adjustment.  That’s rare for me.

Cropped Kalle Shirt

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Cropped Kalle Shirt

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Cropped Kalle Shirt

I did have several moments of confusion while sewing this pattern.  Unlike some patterns, however, I could tell that this was because I was learning new techniques, not because the instructions were bad.  This was my first hidden placket, for instance, and I sewed my buttonholes through only one layer of fabric instead of two at first.  Luckily, I figured it out and managed to fix it, so all was good.

Cropped Kalle Shirt

After sewing the side seams, there is a suggestion that you could flat fell the seams.  If you want to do this, you would have to change things up a bit since flat felled seams are typically made on the outside–or you could just make them on the inside.  I chose to serge my seams because I’m still trying to get used to my serger and one of my goals is to actually USE it.  So far I only have black and white serger thread, so I used black here (as you can see below).

When it came to attaching the facing, rather than topstitching it into place, I just made sure my top thread and bobbin thread were the same color and I stitched from the underside to make sure I was catching everything.  Unlike my normal practice, I didn’t choose contrasting thread for topstitching–I just used navy throughout, which hides a lot of mistakes!

Cropped Kalle Shirt

The only other area I got confused on was attaching the sleeve cuffs.  I think the instructions could be a little bit clearer in this area.  I was very confused, so I turned to the sewalong online, which differs from the instructions after the second point.  I found that easier to follow, so I printed the information off and put it in my instruction booklet for the next time I make this.

And I do hope to make this again at some point.  I’m interested in trying the tunic length with the popover placket.  It will have to wait until at least next year, though, as I really like the look of the short sleeves, and would want to do that again.

Even though the weather is turning cold now, I’m really glad I got this in.  I love this shirt in this fabric, and I’m excited to wear it.

Cropped Kalle Shirt

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Morgan Jeans!

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Morgan Jeans!

I’m working through a batch of transitional garments as we go from warm to cool weather, and first up is a pair of Morgan Jeans from Closet Case Patterns.

Morgan Jeans!

I made a short pair this summer, and wanted to try a full-length pair, hoping for some pants that would be good for daily wear and that I could layer over long underwear in the cold weather.

Morgan Jeans!

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Morgan Jeans!

My measurements put me in a 14 waist and 16 hip, but as I discovered this summer, that 14 waist is just too small.  I ended up adding extra fabric at the top of those pants, so I wrote myself a note to make a straight 16 next time.  Well…as I read the description, I noticed that these are drafted to fit closely, assuming that the non-stretch denim will relax over time.  I don’t love tight jeans and I wanted these to fit over long underwear in winter when layering is an act of survival, so I chickened out on the sizing and decided to trace an 18 to be safe.

Morgan Jeans!

I was lucky enough to be visiting Fabric Place Basement in Natick, MA when they were having a denim sale and, after vacillating between some non-stretch selvedge denim that was 30″ wide and a 60″ wide non-stretch denim, I went with the wider fabric, not least because I could make two pairs of jeans for the price of one in selvedge denim.  The more thrifty I can be, the more projects I can make!  That’s a huge consideration for me.  Happily, I managed to get enough denim to make a pair of jeans for about $15.

Morgan Jeans!

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Morgan Jeans!

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Morgan Jeans!

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Morgan Jeans!

The pattern and topstitching thread came from Pintuck & Purl, as did the Cotton + Steel fabric I used for my pockets.  It was left over from this shirt.

Morgan Jeans!

My jeans buttons are from Wawak.

Morgan Jeans!

As far as the pattern goes, here are my notes:

  • I bound the edges of the pocket facings with bias tape, because I think it looks really nice.Morgan Jeans!

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    Morgan Jeans!

  • I also like the look of French seams at the bottom of the pockets (this is a suggestion in the pattern).Morgan Jeans!
  • I recommend sewing your buttonholes, slicing them open, and using Fray Check on them before you sew the fly placket into your pants, just in case you have issues.  It’s not such a big deal to recut the piece and redo it before sewing it in.  I accidentally sewed my bright thread on the bottom of my fly placket, so next time if I want contrast stitching, I’ll put it for my top thread and in the bobbin.Morgan Jeans!
  • One thing to note, my button fly placket extended above the top of my pants.  I think I should have matched the top of my fly shield to the top of my button fly placket, because I matched the top of it to my pants and it was weirdly low.  I had to trim it and finish it with my serger.  Incidentally, I have a new-to-me vintage serger that is working!!!  I was able to use it to finish my seams. A billion thanks to Pintuck & Purl for servicing it!Morgan Jeans!

More tips:

  • When putting the back together, wait to trim the seam joining the yoke and back legs until after you have topstitched it–then you don’t have to worry about missing the seam as you topstitch.
  • As Heather, the designer, suggests in her Ginger Jeans sewalong (in this post), it makes sense to finalize your back pocket placement at the end so you can put them in the optimal spot for your unique back side.  In the end, I moved the pockets a little bit, but not too much. Morgan Jeans!

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    Morgan Jeans!

  • One other new thing I tried was installing the waistband using Lladybird’s tutorial (skip to the end of the linked post).  It was really helpful and makes so much sense.  The gist of it is that you sew your inside waistband seam first so that when you are turning under the seam allowance and finishing the waistband, you are topstitching from the outside, and you never have to worry about catching an inner facing–it’s already attached.  It makes more sense in the post, but it’s a very logical order of steps.  I like it.
  • I interfaced my waistband this time to make it less stretchy, but I really should have graded my seams better around where my buttonhole was going to go.  I had to sew through so many layers to make my buttonhole that I ended up fudging things to make it longer and it still takes a good amount of effort to get that top button buttoned and unbuttoned.  You don’t want to have a bathroom emergency in these pants!Morgan Jeans!

Last tip:

  • Use Fray Check on the edge of your belt loops to keep them from fraying every time you wash them.  It doesn’t take care of the fraying entirely, but it helps.

All right, now after all of that, what’s the final consensus?  Well…my jeans are really comfy…they will fit over long underwear…but they do look a little big.

Morgan Jeans!

They’re perfect when they come out of the dryer…for about 5 minutes, and then they are comfortably loose.  Also, it may be the style with boyfriend jeans, but I’m not sure that I like them cuffed.

Morgan Jeans!

So I guess I’ll have a better take on them after wearing them during cold weather, but my gut feeling is that, especially if I were to make these in a thinner denim, I should go down to a 16.  Or maybe I should just look for a pair of pants with a straighter, wider leg.  I think I convinced myself that these were like that, but they really are a closer fitting, non-stretch jean, which is actually obvious from the cover art and the sample photos.  Well, live and learn!  That one’s on me!  😉

Morgan Jeans!

The good news is that whether or not these are the perfect jeans for me, the pattern itself is high quality and well done, which is consistently true with Closet Case Patterns.

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!)

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.

The Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns

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The Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns

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

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

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

Link to the pattern here.

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

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

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

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

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

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

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

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

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

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

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

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

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

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

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

Recommendations

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

 

Inspired by Surfing: Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

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Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

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

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

Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

(front view, above)

Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

(back view, above)

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

Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

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Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

Design & Technical Choices

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

Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

Inside, front (above)

Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

Inside back (above)

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

Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

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

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

Process

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

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

Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

Bound elastic at the neckline

Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

Gathered, turned, and stitched elastic at the leg openings

Analysis

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

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

Inspired by Surfing:  Nettie Bodysuit as Swimwear

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

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

Recommendations

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

 

Ginger Jeans Hack Inspired by Meggipeg

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Ginger Jeans Hack Inspired by Meggipeg

Today’s project has been a long time in the  making.  And the inspiration for it comes totally and completely from an amazing seamstress on the other side of the world:  meggipeg.

Ginger Jeans Hack

Ever since I saw her version of a pair of Balmain jeans made from the Jamie jeans pattern by Named, I wanted my own.  But, like a lot of projects that I knew were going to take some work, I had to psych myself up.  I didn’t own the Jamie Jeans pattern and, like most indie patterns, it wasn’t cheap.  I kept thinking about it, and almost committed to buying the pattern before realizing that with just a little more work, I could use a pattern that I already had.  And then came the perfect impetus to get going on making my dream a reality:  I had signed up for a class.  And not just any class, but a choose-your-own-sewing-adventure kind of class where you pick what you want to work on.  The time was now.

Class Projects!

All my class projects ready to go!

I had verbally signed up for Lauren Taylor’s (a.k.a. Lladybird’s) Sewing Master Class at Pintuck & Purl way back in May, when I first heard about it.  I love seeing all the things that Lauren sews, and I knew it would be a great opportunity to work on some projects that I found intimidating.  So, along with a few other projects, I came up with my pants scheme.  It was time to finally make some super-cool pants a la meggipeg and Balmain of my own.

However…I didn’t love the idea of figuring out how to fit a new jeans pattern, especially when I also had so many other project supplies to buy, and that’s when I realized:  I could use the Ginger Jeans pattern.  All I needed to do beyond what I was already going to do was change the front pocket and add front leg seams.  I don’t hack patterns much.  But this seemed worth the time investment.  In addition to the aforementioned changes, I drew up some parallelograms for the sides of the front legs and divided up the back pocket.

Ginger Jeans Hack

 

Ginger Jeans Hack

Adding a seam to the front leg.

Ginger Jeans Hack

Changing the front pocket shape.

I had plans to add zippers to the front of my jeans as well, similar to Papercut Patterns’ Starboard Jeans, but these didn’t make it into the final pants (because I forgot to put them in before doing the pockets).  Oh, well!  I also contemplated zippers at the bottom of the jeans, but decided against those before beginning.

Ginger Jeans Hack

Ooops!  I forgot the zippers!

I didn’t get a lot done on these in the class, because this was the third of my several projects (not all of which will show up on the blog–sorry), but preparing for the class forced me to make the necessary pattern changes beforehand.  It got me going on the pants and I managed to cut out the pattern and get started during class.

Ginger Jeans Hack

Just in case you’re wondering about supplies, I’d love to share.  Here’s where everything came from:

Ginger Jeans Hack

I love this vintage sheet as pocket material!

I did one or two things differently on the construction side of these than on my first pair of Ginger Jeans.  This time around, I interfaced my waistband (good idea!) and used true topstitching thread (so-so).  I do think I’ll interface the waistband in the future, but I might try a different alternative for the topstitching thread.  Maybe I’ll use upholstery or button/craft thread, or maybe I just need a bigger needle and different tension on my machine.  I had a lot of thread nests with the topstitching thread and it just wasn’t my favorite overall.

Time for less talk and more pictures, right?

Ginger Jeans Hack

 

Ginger Jeans Hack

 

Ginger Jeans Hack

 

Ginger Jeans Hack

 

Ginger Jeans Hack

 

Ginger Jeans Hack

 

Ginger Jeans Hack

 

Ginger Jeans Hack

The pants themselves?  I LOVE them!!!!!  So far I’ve worn them about five days out of the last two weeks.  Yep!  I hope I’m not the only one that calculates how many people I’ll see more than once in a week so I can rewear outfits!  But even if I am–oh, well!

I love these pants so much.  The ease is great, the fit is great, the stretch is great, and the fabric is great.  It was definitely worth the effort to make these.  Thanks for the idea, meggipeg!  I hope you take my emulation of you as a compliment.  I’m always impressed with your style.

Ginger Jeans Hack

I even made a flannel shirt to go with it!  Stay tuned for more details on that…

Recommendations

  • I really love these Carhartt’s socks.  This isn’t an affiliate link or anything (I don’t do those currently.), just some socks I like.  I like the colors, and they keep my feet warm without making them sweaty, which means I can wear my Converse All-Stars or moccasin booties without getting numb toes when the weather is cold.
  • Robert Kaufman fabric.  I love Robert Kaufman fabric (in fact, I have some of their Mammoth Plaid that I just made into the flannel shirt of my dreams).  The fabric is moderately priced and great quality–and they have so many options.
  • The Imagine Gnats online shop.  I have a really hard time getting myself to buy fabric online, always preferring to see it in person first, but I have to recommend this shop.  The customer service is great and so is the curated fabric selection.  I’ve probably ordered twice from here and I have to give owner Rachel Gander props for the extra little sticker and piece of candy she put in my orders and for ending what has felt like an age-long search for the perfect olive green stretch twill.
  • And because candy corn is one of my favorite fall treats, here is a video that shows how candy corn is made: