Tag Archives: clothing

Knitting: The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool

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Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool

Hello, everyone! I hope you had a nice time over the holidays. I took a break from my day-to-day activities as much as possible, hung out with my family, ate lots of good food, and got in some nice walks, ice skating, and puzzle time! Now it’s back to it! I managed to get lots of good (and sorely needed) blog pictures with the help of my husband, so I can share some projects with you. And what better to share now that it’s fully winter than some knitting–and a sweater, no less?

Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool

Here are the details:

Pattern: The Weekender Light by Drea Renee Knits/Andrea Mowry

Size: 4

Yarn: Jamieson & Smith 2-Ply Jumper Weight (fingering weight) in shade 095, Medium Pink

Needles: metal circular needles in sizes US 0, 1, 2, 3

Timeframe: April 14, 2022 (swatching!) to November 11, 2022

Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool

Process

With my penchant for bright colorwork, this sweater pattern was a surprising choice for me…but it was directly influenced by the Wool & Honey sweater I made. That sweater, also a Drea Renee Knits (DRK) pattern, also knit in Jamieson & Smith 2-ply jumper weight, has to be my most worn sweater to date. There is something magical in that weird, boxy shape and slim sleeves with the cool texture on the yoke, knit up in this beautiful woolen-spun yarn. It’s lightweight and the perfect year-round sweater. In fact, I love it so much, I got nervous I was going to wear it out. I didn’t want to knit it again–it took me a long time and I wanted to make something a little bit different.

Enter, The Weekender Light sweater. In knitting it, I could use more of the Jamieson & Smith 2-Ply yarn, which I had fallen in love with. And this time I would try out one of their yarn cones rather than ordering balls of yarn, for added savings. I trusted in my desire for another sweater I could wear constantly to carry me through all the miles of stockinette stitch in fingering weight yarn that this pattern required.

Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool

Now that I knew I loved this yarn, I got smart and ordered a shade card (yarn color sample card) along with my cone of yarn. That way I could see the different colors in person and wouldn’t have to guess on future projects since it’s pretty likely I will order from J & S again. And then I threw a few balls of shade FC22, Bright Pink Mix, into my cart, in the hopes that it would coordinate with the cone of yarn I had ordered, since originally, I had planned to make all my ribbing a darker pink, (see this tutorial for how to do that at the neckline). Unfortunately, I didn’t love them together when they came, so I saved the Bright Pink Mix yarn for another project and decided to dive into a single-color knit.

Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool

I tend to knit much more loosely than Andrea Mowry, so I ended up getting gauge on US 1 needles, rather than the suggested US 4’s. I knit a lot of DRK patterns, and this is typical for me. Actually, it’s not just DRK patterns. I usually have to size down with my needles to get gauge. I was between sizes, and since I know my tendency to knit loosely, I chose the smaller of the two, a size 4. I started out using a US 0 on the ribbing and a US 1 for the body. I didn’t enjoy the cast on, but it definitely looks nice. I also knit the ribbing pretty tightly, so that wasn’t the most fun, either, but that was all on me. After that, everything was going well!

Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool
Split hem detail

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Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool
You actually knit the body inside out so the knitting is on the inside and the reverse stockinette/purl side is on the outside.

Then things took a little turn when we went on a road trip last summer.

I was a little way into knitting the body of the sweater when we started driving. Now, I love a good road trip…once we’re on the trip. Leading up to it, I always stress. Did I remember everything? Clothes? Food? Medicine? What if we get in an accident? What if one of us gets tired? And on and on. I’m actually better than I used to be, but regardless, I always get a bit spun up about things before we go. Well, it seems that I took that nervous energy with me on the trip, even though I felt fine once we were on the road, and suddenly, I was knitting too tightly. I had managed to get in a few inches as we drove (which took awhile). All I had to do was look at it to realize that my knitting had tightened up.

I put the sweater in time out.

Then I went to the yarn store with my Mom, got yarn for two new projects, ordered some needles and stitch markers, and started on something totally different. That sweater stayed in time out until we got home.

Once home, I could finally face up to the fact that I had to rip out my knitting and go up a needle size.

Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool

I ripped my last few inches out, put in a lifeline just in case I reverted back to my original tension, and went on with the body, using US 2’s. On I went, seemingly forever. To be fair, I don’t knit a lot in a day. I sometimes put in a little time at night in front of the TV, but often that’s it. I also usually pair a longer or more complicated project like a sweater, with a faster or easier project like a hat or cowl. So, little by little this grew until I got to the sleeves. I went up a needle size to a US 3 for those. On Andrea’s recommendation, I usually go up a needle size for sleeves to keep my gauge consistent.

Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool

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Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool
Detail of the sleeve join

At the end of October, I got a fairly mild case of COVID. After sleeping for a few days, I started to feel better, but was still confined to my room, so as not to get my family members sick. At that point, something lit a fire under me, and I decided to knit as much as I could and finish this thing! I watched a lot of TV on my laptop, and knit sitting down, standing up, in between organizing my sewing patterns, after stretching out my arms, etc., etc. Shortly after leaving quarantine, I finished my second sleeve! Yes! Yes! Yes!

Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool

Then it was on to blocking. This yarn really transforms with blocking. And I especially noticed that with the yarn on the cone. The cone yarn from J & S was “in oil” meaning it has some spinning oil on it. I never felt, noticed, or smelled any real difference from knitting with the balls, except that maybe the yarn looked less fluffy. During blocking the water was a little cloudy, so I rinsed a few times until it was clear, but other than that, it was the same as blocking yarn from the balls. The yarn on the sweater went from looking like it was knit from a rough string (it didn’t feel rough, just looked a bit rustic, I guess), to fluffing out and looking soft and beautiful. I use store brand CVS baby shampoo as my “wool wash” so it came out smelling of wool and baby shampoo, a lovely combination.

Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool

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Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool

So how does wearing this compare to the Wool & Honey? I don’t think it’s equivalent, to be honest. I like this sweater, and I have gotten a lot of compliments on it, but I don’t love it as much. It has the same kind of boxy fit, although I think mine is slightly smaller at the bottom, probably due to my early gauge issues and knitting the ribbing fairly tightly. I like the round neck of the Wool & Honey better as well as the yoke construction. This sweater has the same nice light weight, and I like it with close-fitting pants. It’s also a color I wear a lot, so I’m really glad I made it, but I need to wear it more to see if it will become the staple that my Wool & Honey has.

Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool

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Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool

I also own the original Weekender pattern, which is knit in a worsted weight, but I need to wear this one more to see if I would make that version or not. Now that I can compare aspects of both the Weekender Light and the Wool & Honey in the same yarn, I wonder if I would be happier with something like the DRK Everyday Sweater which has a construction more like the Wool & Honey. Who knows?

The great thing is that I am starting to get a bit of a hand knit sweater wardrobe, which I love. I remember when that happened with my sewing, and how great it was. I love wearing something I have made nearly every day.

Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool
label by Kylie and the Machine

Even though every single sweater feels like it takes forever, I like knitting them alongside the hats and cowls, which are my other favorite things to knit. I just need to stretch and strengthen my arms a bit so that I can knit more and longer without injuring myself. The pitfalls of crafting are real, people…but so are the rewards!

Knitting:  The Weekender Light Sweater in Shetland Wool

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McCall’s 6262: I Made a Western Shirt!

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McCall’s 6262:  I Made a Western Shirt!

American western wear is such an interesting subset of fashion. It can cover everything from the toughest everyday workwear right through to a costume worn in concert by a famous musician, with plenty of range in between. I think that’s what makes it so intriguing to me. I love the practical value of workwear, and western wear, in many cases, takes workwear and makes it beautiful in a way that even those beyond its natural boundaries can appreciate. Although I’ve never lived in the western United States, I’ve always been interested in this type of clothing, particularly western-style shirts. That one garment seems to have so much possibility. Take your basic button-up and add some shaped yokes and maybe shaped cuffs and you’ve got a blank canvas for as much or as little decoration as you like. You might choose to keep it simple or maybe you add piping, fringe, shaped pockets, and/or embroidery. I love seeing the different directions people have taken this in. And that’s why I wanted to try it for myself…well, that and the fact that growing up, I kind of wished I could be a cowgirl. I guess that never died. 😉

McCall's 6262:  I Finally Made a Western Shirt!

I’ve been turning this over in my head for a few years, and collecting ideas on my “Sewing Inspiration: Western Shirt” Pinterest board. To be fair, in the past I did make Simplicity 1538, view A twice (first attempt, second attempt), which has a bit of a western style to it, but I wanted to try piping this time. Despite the fact that I wanted to go all out and fill up a shirt with embroidery, contrasting fabric, or other cool details, I decided to start simple with a shirt that had a shaped yoke and, hopefully, cool shaped cuffs. I settled on McCall’s 6262 a unisex Palmer/Pletsch pattern from 1992. This was advertised at “The Easy Western Shirt” with plenty of options, so it seemed like a good place to start. Looking at the finished measurements on the envelope, I decided on a size large, even though my actual measurements put me at an XL bust and XL/XXL hip. I found a used copy of the pattern on eBay in September 2020.

McCall's 6262:  I Finally Made a Western Shirt!
McCall's 6262:  I Finally Made a Western Shirt!
McCall's 6262:  I Finally Made a Western Shirt!

The ’90’s and its love of positive ease in clothing meant I didn’t have to do a broad back adjustment, but I did grade out a bit at the hip to the equivalent of an extra large.

McCall's 6262:  I Finally Made a Western Shirt!
McCall's 6262:  I Finally Made a Western Shirt!

Despite the millions of ideas I was interested in, I decided to keep it simple for this pattern and just add some piping and pearl snaps, and make the shirt in a single color of fabric. I think this was a good choice, because by the time I finally got around to starting this project in January 2022, I had really psyched myself out about the piping. Yeah, I really overthought it.

I chose to use a “flannel solid” in lilac from Robert Kaufman that I got for Christmas, and I paired it with spring green piping and white pearl snaps. View C was my choice, but I opted to skip the darts.

McCall's 6262:  I Finally Made a Western Shirt!

I really wanted to try out that piping, even if I was worried it wouldn’t turn out right. The instructions were very good, with lots of tips for a quality finish as well as information on how to get the details you wanted.

McCall's 6262:  I Finally Made a Western Shirt!

Despite my desire for “cowboy” cuffs (cool, shaped cuffs), I decided to let that go this time since it wasn’t included in the pattern. I’ll show you what I originally had in mind, though. Check out view A in this picture of vintage McCall’s 2118:

McCall's 6262:  I Finally Made a Western Shirt!
screen shot from an eBay listing, I think; McCall’s 2118
McCall's 6262:  I Finally Made a Western Shirt!
screen shot from eBay; detail of McCall’s 2118
McCall's 6262:  I Finally Made a Western Shirt!
screen shot from eBay; McCall’s 2118; this gives you a good sense of what the pattern piece for the cuff looks like

I had bought an issue of Threads Magazine* that explained how to add those cuffs to a shirt, but I knew that every deviation from the pattern would add to the time it would take for me to finish. Some people love hacking patterns, but I love following the directions (mostly) and finishing my garment. I buy patterns because it means someone has done all the problem-solving for me, and I can just follow along and make something cool. That can change based on the project, but for the most part, that’s how I love to sew. Every time I add a deviation from the pattern or something I feel nervous about making, it really slows my process down, and that bugs me, since I don’t sew especially quickly to begin with. Slow sewing can be fun, but usually I want that garment finished and on my body now!

By the time I actually finished this in March or April of 2022, I knew its time for that season was limited since spring and warmer days were around the corner. And then it sat while it waited to appear on the blog, so it hasn’t gotten worn much! Now that it’s cold again, I really want to wear it!

McCall's 6262:  I Finally Made a Western Shirt!
McCall's 6262:  I Finally Made a Western Shirt!

Thoughts

–This definitely has that ’90’s oversized look to it, but that makes it really comfortable. I like it better tucked in than out, but will wear it both ways.

McCall's 6262:  I Finally Made a Western Shirt!
McCall's 6262:  I Finally Made a Western Shirt!
McCall's 6262:  I Finally Made a Western Shirt!
McCall's 6262:  I Finally Made a Western Shirt!

–This flannel is nice and beefy, as usual for Robert Kaufman flannels, which are some of my all-time favorites, but it is pilling a bit after only a few washes. I guess that’s just par for the course with cotton flannel.

McCall's 6262:  I Finally Made a Western Shirt!

–I’m getting better at putting pearl snaps in, although I did crack one of them. Luckily, you can’t feel it, and it won’t fall out–it just looks cracked.

McCall's 6262:  I Finally Made a Western Shirt!

–My piping, while not perfect, worked out pretty well for someone with very limited piping experience! I’m happy with it.

McCall's 6262:  I Finally Made a Western Shirt!

My interior finishing on the yokes just involved pinking the seam allowances.

McCall's 6262:  I Finally Made a Western Shirt!

It’s not my favorite finish since it will (and did) fray, but I knew it wouldn’t be able to fray beyond the stitching line, so it was fine. I also added piping at the cuffs.

McCall's 6262:  I Finally Made a Western Shirt!

Resources

As I said, I’ve been contemplating this shirt style for a long time. If you are also interested in this style, here are just a few of the resources and inspirational places I looked to get ideas as to the range of western wear. Hopefully there will be more of this awesome style in my sewing future.

~How the West was Worn: A Complete History of Western Wear by Holly George-Warren and Michelle Freedman…I really want a copy of this book, but the used ones are so dang expensive! This was a really interesting resource.

~100 Years of Western Wear by Tyler Beard…gives you a look at western wear through, as you might expect, the last 100 years up to the 1990’s

~”Go West! Why These Custom-Embroidered Cowboy Shirts Are Topping Our Fall Shopping Lists” by Kristin Anderson for Vogue.com, September 29, 2015…an interesting look at one company making modern custom western shirts

*~”Updating the Cowboy Shirt” by David Page Coffin, Threads #67, November 1996

Of course there are many more resources out there, but these are a few that I found particularly interesting.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim…and Exciting Topsfield Fair News!

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Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim…and Exciting Topsfield Fair News!

Let’s start with the pants! These pants, made using Simplicity 8841, are a repeat pattern for me–not something I always do. Each sewist/craftsman/artist has a way they like to dive into projects, and for me, it usually involves trying something new, often a new pattern, so I rarely circle back to previous patterns unless I really liked them and want more versions in my closet or they are just right for the fabric I want to use. I really liked the style of these pants, and I wear my first version a lot. However, I kind of overfit that version, and I thought I could do better…plus I really did want more of these in my closet!

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim
My husband took these pictures for me when it was still summer, but these pants will work in multiple seasons.

The other thing that drove this repeat performance was some great denim I found at Joann’s. It was 100% cotton, and pink from being vegetable-dyed. The vegetable dye made me curious about how the color would hold…and I really like this shade of pink. Simplicity 8841 seemed like a good match for the denim. I got what I needed when it was on sale. Yay!

According to my measurements, I was a size 24 in this pattern. It only went up to a 22, so I did some very inexpert, cheater-style grading. I looked at the distance between the last few pattern sizes, and sized up the largest size by that amount, by just tracing around it, and trying to make things look like they would have if there had been one more size. I wanted to make View D, but with the longer length of View C. This was pretty easy to do.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

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Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

Using the book, Sewing Pants that Fit from The Singer Sewing Reference Library, I added 1.5″ to the back crotch length by making a wedge adjustment for a protruding seat. This entailed cutting into my back pattern piece from the crotch seam to the hip, without cutting all the way through. I then tipped the top of the pattern up 1.5″ making the back crotch seam of the pattern longer. After doing that, you have to smooth out the hip/outseam because making that wedge creates a little divot at the side seam.

Then I lengthened the back crotch point by 1.5″ and lowered it 0.25″ to true the pattern. This can help with full thighs or a protruding seat. I have found that it works for me, whatever the reason may be. I tend to need more length in the back with Big 4 patterns. Somehow it always feels a little bit like trial and error, but I usually end up making the maximum crotch seam length adjustments on the back pattern piece and find those really comfortable.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim
This may not be the most helpful picture, but here is the top of the back pattern piece. The crotch seam I have mentions is that curved left edge, and the hip/outseam is the right edge. You can kind of see the wedge shape running horizontally through the pattern piece.

These pants are pretty straightforward to put together with good directions.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim
Simplicity 8841, front

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Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim
Simplicity 8841, back

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Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim
Simplicity 8841, patch pocket detail; I have traced this patch pocket onto tag board and use it whenever I want to add patch pockets with this shape to clothes.

I changed up how I inserted the elastic into the waistband a little bit, but otherwise followed the directions as written. Since these pants have no fly, and only front patch pockets, I pushed myself to finish them before meeting up with a friend who was visiting. It’s always really fun to have something new to wear for something like that, and it’s good for me to occasionally give myself artificial deadlines to speed a project on.

Once I started wearing the pants, I had a few thoughts about them. They are definitely a style I like, and they’re very comfortable. The dye in the fabric seems to be holding well, too.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

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Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

I’m not sure I love how they look, even though I love how they feel. They look a little too big to me. I’m all about preserving design ease and not making the smallest size you can squeeze your body into, but maybe I could have made these a little smaller, especially since the size 22 pants that I made do still fit. The other iffy part is that the waistband doesn’t feel as strong as I want it to. The pants stay up just fine, but it feels like if I load up my pockets, things could get saggy. Yikes.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

I have toyed with the idea of taking off the waistband and cutting a new one that would allow for 2″ wide elastic, like the Elizabeth Suzann Clyde Pants pattern, but I cannot tell you how much I really don’t like going back into patterns once I have finished them. I know they would be more wearable if I altered them, but the joy of alterations is not the reason I sew. The fact that they do fit and are comfortable will probably be enough for me to wear them and not bother to alter them. The good news is that the paper pattern adjustments I made were good. I don’t feel like the back of the pants are too short or tight (i.e. no wedgies or “plumber’s butt”–yay!). They feel just right.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

The real kicker, though, is that while writing this, I looked back at the blog post I wrote for the first pair of pants I made, and those had the same problems! Yes, if I had carefully read my own post before starting on these, I wouldn’t have graded up, and I probably would have tapered the legs of the pants. I still would have made the flat pattern adjustments I made this time–I did remember the need for those–but I could have made an even better pair of pants if I had listened to my past self and reminded myself of all the changes that would have been helpful. Oops.

So, I guess this project is a little bit of a mixed bag, but overall good. I do recommend the pattern if you are looking for a simple pair of elastic-waist pants. These could definitely work, construction-wise, for a beginner, and they are loose enough that you wouldn’t have to think about fitting to the level you would with a pair of skinny jeans or something like that. I would potentially make these again, with some slight tweaks (after actually reading this post and my last one; haha).

News from the Fair!

And now for something unrelated, but awesome! If you read this blog regularly, you may remember that I submitted some garments to the Topsfield (Massachusetts) Fair for the first time. Well, the cardigan I knitted got a first place ribbon, and the reversible vest I sewed got both a first place ribbon and Best in Show! I was so excited!!! I knew that I had worked up to my skill level at the time and pushed myself beyond on those projects, but it’s really, really nice to occasionally have some outside validation for your work, from people who also make things.

Topsfield Fair 2022
My Arrowhead Cardigan at the Topsfield Fair

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Topsfield Fair 2022
Me at the knitting exhibit. You can sort of see my cardigan by my left hand. There were so many great projects!

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Topsfield Fair 2022
My vest and both its ribbons at the Topsfield Fair!!!

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Topsfield Fair 2022
This exhibit had multiple types of crafts. You can see my vest by my right hand.

Making clothes is my art practice. My work will probably never be in a gallery, and I don’t want to turn it into a business, so I don’t get that kind of positive professional critique on a normal basis, so it means a lot. That being said, I do very much appreciate all the cheerleading and support I get from my family and friends. That is what has really kept me going all these years.

My parents and kids were with me when I went to see all the entries, and they can tell you that I had a pretty big smile on my face. What a great experience!!!

A Little Round Up: Twig + Tale Aspen and Oak Leaf Blankets and a Quick Upcycle

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A Little Round Up:  Twig + Tale Aspen and Oak Leaf Blankets and a Quick Upcycle

Hi, everyone! It’s fall! Yay! While I still have a few summer projects to show you, time really got away from me this week, and I didn’t get a chance to take pictures of them. What I do have pictures of, though, are a few projects perfect for the start of fall: two more Twig + Tale leaf blankets and a quick upcycle. All of these projects are almost a year old (yikes!), but just haven’t made it to the blog yet.

I have blogged about Twig + Tale leaf blankets before (maple leaf; monstera leaves; fan, banana, and elephant ear leaf blankets). They are really fun to make and come in a ton of shapes as well as multiple sizes. I love how each finished blanket looks so much like an actual leaf. I know I shouldn’t really be surprised–it says what they are right in the name, but I’m always delighted when I finish one.

Last October, I whipped up a Quaking Aspen Leaf Blanket from the North American collection for a friend that was visiting. I used a golden corduroy left over from some pants I made since aspen leaves turn yellow, and for the other side, I used the last scraps of this bit of green blanket someone gave me years ago.

A Little Round-Up:  Twig + Tale Aspen and Oak Leaf Blankets and a Tiny Upcycle

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A Little Round-Up:  Twig + Tale Aspen and Oak Leaf Blankets and a Tiny Upcycle

I also used it on my own Monstera Leaf blanket (which I still love and use all the time). This blanket came together really fast, as these blankets all do, and was a fun present to give my friend.

The other leaf blanket I made was the English Oak from the European Collection. I wanted a blanket to use on our couch, and I let my husband pick which leaf shape he liked best since he loves trees. I used a cream twill originally from Fabric Mart that I have used in many projects, and I backed it with a mystery home dec fabric that feels like cotton.

A Little Round-Up:  Twig + Tale Aspen and Oak Leaf Blankets and a Tiny Upcycle

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A Little Round-Up:  Twig + Tale Aspen and Oak Leaf Blankets and a Tiny Upcycle
My mystery fabric has a herringbone texture to it which I’ve always liked.

I have probably had this fabric since before I began sewing regularly. I really had to piece it together to make it work!

While I like the shape of the oak leaf blanket, I don’t love the finished object as much as the others that I have made. I think it’s something with my fabric choice. It’s good functionally, but it’s just not my favorite one. Still, it works well, and I’m glad I made it.

One other project I did last October was a quick little upcycle. Sometimes it’s the details that make a garment, and that was the case here. I thrifted a nice flannel shirt for my husband, but it wasn’t quite his style, so I kept it for myself. I liked it, but it kind of needed something. I realized that if I just changed out the buttons for some really fun ones, it would give the shirt a distinctive detail without much work required and would make it more interesting and fun to wear.

A Little Round-Up:  Twig + Tale Aspen and Oak Leaf Blankets and a Tiny Upcycle

Of course, this completely dovetailed with my desire to try out some of the super fun buttons by Tabitha Sewer that Pintuck & Purl had in stock. Yes! I chose some that are neon pink with neon orange edges…or maybe neon orange with pink edges? These buttons aren’t cheap, so ironically, my “small details” cost more than the shirt, but oh, well. Tabitha Sewer has so many fun buttons, but so far I have held off buying more until I have a specific project for them. Adding some to this shirt turned it from something a little too normal into something really fun! That also means I wear it a lot more. I am so motivated by good colors in my creative work. I just love the fun they bring.

A Little Round-Up:  Twig + Tale Aspen and Oak Leaf Blankets and a Tiny Upcycle

All these projects are great for fall! Have you tried making a leaf blanket? Do you have favorite details you add to bring a garment from just ok to extra special? Let me know!

Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top in Robert Kaufman’s Limerick Linen

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Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top in Robert Kaufman’s Limerick Linen

I didn’t manage to get a lot of sewing done this summer, but I did make a few things! One was the Peplum Top from Peppermint Magazine/In the Folds.

Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top in Robert Kaufman's Limerick Linen

I’ve made this one before, back in 2018 when I made two versions. It’s such a fun shirt and a nice pattern that I wanted to revisit it and see if I could squeeze it out of some Robert Kaufman Limerick Linen scraps I had saved from the time I made my friend a jacket using Simplicity 8172. Oh, this linen! It’s so beautiful and so floaty. I love it.

Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top in Robert Kaufman's Limerick Linen

Before starting, I looked back at my old post to see what changes I had made to the pattern. I used those again: a minor forward shoulder adjustment, and lengthening the top by two inches, although this time I added one of the inches to the bodice and one inch to the peplum. I made size G, and found a surprising error on the pattern. Even though the key to the sizes shows different line styles for sizes G and F, on the printed and assembled PDF, they both look the same. I just had to count up or down to my size to make sure I was on track. It’s very possible this problem has been fixed since I downloaded it, but keep an eye out just in case if your are sewing either of those two sizes.

This fabric is a little shifty to cut, so you need to be careful and go a little bit slowly. This can be an issue while sewing, too, so make sure you stay stitch the front and back neckline before getting started. It’s not a hard fabric to sew–just be aware that it can shift. Handle it carefully, and you’ll be fine.

Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top in Robert Kaufman's Limerick Linen

I tested out various trim options, but in the end, I decided to keep the outside of the top plain to let the linen shine through, although I did use some fun Rifle Paper Co. rayon bias binding I made instead of the facings. After doing the forward shoulder adjustment, I didn’t really want to alter the facings when I had this pretty option I could use instead. I used my serger to finish my other seams, so the inside looks nice and neat.

Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top in Robert Kaufman's Limerick Linen
Peplum Top front–you can see peeks of the bias binding; the quilt in the background was made by my Mom!

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Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top in Robert Kaufman's Limerick Linen
Peplum Top, back

When I finish a garment, unless I really hate it, I usually feel like it’s THE BEST THING EVER and MY NEW FAVORITE and so on and so forth. I loved this when I first made it–and I still do, but wearing it a few times has helped me to see not only its best qualities, but also some that I like less. The pros are that this is a great pattern in beautiful fabric, and it feels like an absolute dream to wear in the summer. It’s cool and breezy and SO GOOD. Another thing that I love is that because it is dartless, it’s also reversible. I love it both ways. Each one is a little different. The parts I like a little less are that at this size, the armholes are a little low, and show my bra. The beautiful volume that allows this to feel so light and breezy also can have a bit of a pregnancy look, especially from the side. That would be different in a drapier fabric like a silk crepe de chine or a rayon challis, but in a fabric with any amount of body, you need to be prepared for volume. In general, I like the volume, but not always.

Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top in Robert Kaufman's Limerick Linen

All that being said, I really do love this top. I think it will look great as the season turns, on those days when it’s cool enough for jeans and a jacket, but still warm enough for a sleeveless or short-sleeved shirt. I had to do a lot of piecing on the peplum to get it out of the small amount of fabric I had, but I made it with only two scraps left over. Man, I love linen!

Last, but not least, guess what? Today is the nine year anniversary of this blog! Wow! It’s great to be able to look back and see how much I have grown as a sewist and craftsman, how much my focus has both narrowed to sewing, and then expanded to making garments in general with the reintroduction of knitting to my crafting skillset. Will shoes be next? Will I ever make a straw hat? Who knows?! Thanks for reading along, though. I really appreciate it. 🙂

Sweater Knitting: Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

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Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

Oh, boy, this was a big one! Today’s project is the Arrowhead Cardigan by Anna Cohen for Imperial Stock Ranch, and it took me a long time and a lot of head scratching to figure it out, but I did it!

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

This cardigan was definitely above my skill level, but I’m happy to say that perseverance paid off, I learned a ton, I conquered some fears (steeking!), and made it to the finish line. And it fits, which I have struggled with in the past.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

Now for the details!

The Yarn

Sweaters are a big undertaking when it comes to finding and choosing yarn, especially if you want to watch your costs. Plainly put, it’s expensive to knit a sweater. Yarn cost is always a factor for me, especially on larger projects. Thankfully, there is a wide range of yarn and price points, if you are willing to dig a bit. And I love the digging–it’s like a treasure hunt.

I found what I was after online at WEBS (yarn.com) in the closeout section. Univeral Yarn Deluxe Worsted offered some bright colors in a 100% wool yarn (non-superwash, worsted spun) at a great price. Reviews were a bit mixed, but I decided to take the risk. My skin isn’t super sensitive to wool and I planned to wear this over a shirt.

I ordered three skeins of “Blushing Bride” (pink) and seven skeins of “Strip Light Yellow”. With shipping, my cost was around $50. That’s more than I like to spend on fabric for a sewing project, but for a sweater, that’s really economical. When the yarn came, it looked and felt great. Before ordering, I had done my best to determine if the colors were far enough apart in value (gray scale) that they would stand out distinctly, and they were. In person, they were just as good.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/lisapoblenz/52050721550/in/dateposted/

The Pattern + Knitting

I was really struck by this pattern when I saw it. The design was beautiful and it looked oversized and cozy in all the best ways. I looked at others’ projects on Ravelry and really liked the sweater in different colors as well. Also, I have to admit the original styling for the pattern was right up my alley, and it didn’t hurt that I knit most of this while watching the first 13 seasons of Heartland (a Canadian show set on a horse and cattle ranch) with my daughter. Sometimes I think of this as my “Heartland Cardigan”. All I need is a horse and a farm to go with it! Oh, and a lifetime supply of farming knowledge. You know, the little things. 😉

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

My gauge came out pretty close to correct at about 17 stitches and 16/16.5 rounds over 4″ x 4″ (the pattern calls for 17.5 stitches and 21 rounds over 4″ x 4″ (10 cm x 10 cm)). I never worry too much about row gauge since I can change the length of the sweater as I knit. I had already gone down from the suggested needle size of US 8 to a US 6, and since I am typically a loose knitter and this sweater has plenty of positive ease, I went down one size as well from the large to the medium. For my body ribbing, I used US 4’s. Since knitting smaller circumferences can tighten your knitting, for my sleeves I went up to US 7’s with US 5’s for the sleeve ribbing. And then I just hoped and prayed it would all work out.

I decided I wanted the pink to be my dominant color (the one that would stand out the most), and after looking through some notes on Ravelry, I decided to catch my floats every 7 stitches. I recolored all my charts so I wouldn’t get confused and knit the wrong color (like I did in one of my Sparks socks), and I made full, colored charts of the sleeves so that I wouldn’t make mistakes there. Those charts took me a long time to color and create, but it was so worth it!

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
You can see one of my sleeve charts in the background of this picture.

When I tell you this pattern was above my skill level, I’m not kidding. I’ll admit that I am used to using patterns that hold my hand, and I love that. It gives me the confidence to dive into things I have never tried, knowing the help is there for me to figure it all out in the course of the project. There was a lot more assumed knowledge with this pattern, and occasionally I would have to think about a direction or next step for a few days or dig into some knitting books or the internet to figure out how I was supposed to proceed. It meant I made pretty slow progress, but the breaks to puzzle things out ended up paying off each time. I’ll skip the blow by blow description of what I did on each step, but if you could see my copy of this pattern, you would see margins filled with notes.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

I have a theory that really, really wanting to make something can carry you through a big project, even if it’s beyond what you have done before. This sweater further solidified that idea in my mind.

An Error

If you take on this sweater, which is a good one, despite the complexity, you should note that there is an error in the medium size instructions. When you begin the body and have to join in the round, the part that says to knit 105 stitches should say 106 stitches. If you don’t change that, you will be short of the 220 stitches you are supposed to have after joining in the round. This will also impact your stitch counts as you go through the pattern. Sometimes you will have to add a stitch, sometimes two, at various points, so keep an eye on that. The charts were fine, by the way, it was just the written directions that were off.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

Eek! A Steek!

This sweater is knit from the bottom up as one big tube, with panels of stitches in the areas you will have to open up for the front opening and the armholes.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
You can see the steek panels here in the center front and on the tops of the sides.

You open these areas by sewing within that panel (I used my sewing machine) and then cutting down the middle.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
The burgundy lines are the zigzag stitches I sewed in the central steek panel. This stitching anchored my knit stitches so the sweater wouldn’t fray when I cut it.

Seems scary, right? And it was, but also exciting. I practiced on my swatch after doing lots of steek research on the internet, and that worked out well.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
My gauge swatch/practice swatch
Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
I protected the back side of my sweater with a piece of cardboard between the layers.

It’s such a crazy idea to cut your knitting, but it really works!

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

After doing that, whether at the front or sleeves, you pick up stitches to knit the sleeves and the ribbing around the front opening, and then later you knit facings to cover the raw edges and the sewing machine stitches. I worried that sewing down my facings would show from the outside, but it didn’t.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
The facings are the vertical pink lines at the opening

Since my row gauge was off, I decided to steek the front opening after finishing the body a little before the directions told me to. That way I could try the sweater on and see if my sleeves were at a length I liked before adding the final patterning and ribbing at the wrists and finishing them. Once I had steeked the front, I also blocked what I had to get a better sense of that sleeve length. And I was nervous, because I was not knitting quite as loosely as I had expected, so I just needed to see how things were going.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

Doing all of this gave me a lot of helpful information, and I’m so glad I did it.

This is the project where the idea of using lifelines really solidified in my brain as well. I found the shoulder area especially confusing to knit, so before starting, I added some blue pearl cotton to my live stitches in case I messed up and had to rip back. Luckily, I didn’t have to rip back, but it was nice having that security. You can see a bunch of these blue lifelines three pictures up where I had just cut my front steek.

Finishing

I began knitting in August of 2021 and I finally finished my sweater in March of 2022. Seven months! I didn’t work on this non-stop, and usually only put in time while watching TV on a lot of evenings. I’m really happy with how it came out and that it actually fits.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
You can change the fit a little depending on how tightly you wrap the front
Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

It’s very interesting, now that I have knit several sweaters that actually fit, to see what I reach for and what fits best in my current wardrobe. I don’t wear this quite as much as I thought I would since it can be a little hard to find pants and shirts to go under it, and I tend to reach for pullover styles more (my purple Wool & Honey sweater is my most-worn sweater by far). It’s very comfortable, though, and I like wearing it. It has pilled somewhat, but the pills are very easy to remove. It is not scratchy unless I am wearing a bag on my shoulder that presses it down, and then it is a little scratchy in that area. I feel like my yarn choice has paid off, however. I love how bright the sweater is, and the amazing designs in it. If you don’t look too closely, it sometimes looks like the sleeves match up with the pattern of the body. They don’t, of course, but it’s easy to think they do initially.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

This sweater really stretched me, and taught me a lot. It helped me conquer the fear of steeking, and helped me realize that if I think long enough, and search hard enough, I can find the answers to a lot of knitting questions. This project made me feel like I levelled up, specifically in stranded colorwork, which is my current favorite area of knitting.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

Update:

I entered this cardigan in the 2022 Topsfield Fair (in Topsfield, MA) and it won a first place ribbon!

Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman Shetland Flannel Speckle

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Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman Shetland Flannel Speckle

Today I’m bringing you a pretty popular pattern (and some alliteration, all for free!). Simplicity 9388, a unisex shirt jacket in three lengths, has been well-received in the sewing community since its release.

Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle

I like making button up shirts and jackets that aren’t too tricky, so this was on my radar. When I got some Shetland Flannel Speckle in the “Steel” color by Robert Kaufman, it seemed like an ideal match.

Fabric & Notions

This flannel is 95% cotton and 5% polyester. It’s 44″ wide and 6.4 oz/square yard. It’s listed on Robert Kaufman’s site as being 2-ply and therefore “stronger and loftier”. It really is a nice flannel, as all the flannels I have ever used from Robert Kaufman have been. It fluffs up a bit in the wash and, my favorite part, contains little flecks of colors–green, blue, pink, orange, and white.

Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
Look at those bits of color! Yay!

Mine was a Christmas gift from my husband and came from Amazon. He bought me four yards, and after making this shirt jacket, I have 16″ full width left, plus some odd-shaped extra bits.

You only need a tiny bit of lining for the inside of the yoke, so I looked in my stash and chose a bit of gray cotton lawn by Cotton + Steel. I can’t remember for sure, but I probably bought it at Pintuck & Purl several years ago.

Other than that, I found thread, interfacing, and buttons at Joann’s. I really thought hard on the buttons, spending a lot of time online looking at options, but in the end, Joann’s had just what I wanted. While I had thought something neon or bright would be the ticket, it was this medium pink that looked the best.

Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle

My favorite detail on this shirt is the “L” patch from Wildflower and Company on Etsy.

Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle

This was also a gift, and went great with the shirt. It was easy to iron on and instructions were included to ensure success. After adhering it, I stitched around the outside with regular thread in my bobbin and clear nylon thread in my needle. If you haven’t used nylon thread before, it looks a lot like lightweight fishing line, but comes on a spool. I have a really old spool that was given to me by a friend. This stuff pretty much lasts forever, and is great extra insurance on something like this embroidered patch that will definitely go through the laundry on a regular basis.

I did have one tool failure–and this is something I have seen in several cases, unfortunately. Using a yellow Chaco liner on white/light material is probably a gamble that won’t end well.

Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle

I don’t know if this happens with all the Chaco liner colors, but I have used the yellow on cream fabric and it has never washed out. I helped with a class once where someone made white jeans and couldn’t get it out. Now I notice that I can still see my marks even on this medium gray, even though I have washed it since making it. I absolutely love my yellow Chaco liner for its ease of use, and I really don’t have problems with it on darker colors, but it just doesn’t seem to come out of lighter colors.

Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
See that yellow streak? It’s not the worst ever, but it will probably never come out.

The Pattern

I chose to make View B in a large for the bust/chest and waist and an extra large for the hips.

Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
You can see where I graded out a size for the hips on the left edge of the pattern piece.
Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
Here’s a close-up

I thought about trying the shortest view (View C), but I really wanted hip pockets, and View C omits those.

This pattern was nice to sew without any real surprises, and it felt like it came together fairly quickly. I like the front chest and hip pockets and love how the lining on the inside of the yoke looks.

Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
Inside front. You can tell I have been wearing this because…wrinkles! haha
Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
Inside back–love that lined yoke.

One of the few things I didn’t like is that, at this length, the hip pockets finish just above the hem, so if you put your hands or something heavy in the pockets, they will hang down beneath the edge of the jacket. To fix that, I topstitched my pockets to the front, following the seam line from the inside. They aren’t perfectly even, but it’s not noticeable unless you are trying to notice it. While I prefer the look of the jacket without this topstitching, it doesn’t look bad and it completely solves the problem.

Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
Pockets! And now that they are topstitched, they don’t hang down!

One thing that was a little different from a lot of shirts that I sew is that this pattern has a one-piece collar and the button plackets extend past the edge of the collar. It give the shirt jacket a slightly different look from a regular shirt. I also like the seam line over the chest pockets. It’s a good detail.

Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle

This shirt jacket has, in my opinion, the perfect amount of ease to wear over other shirts or a light sweater, and I could see making this in other cotton flannels or, even better, in wool.

Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
Sewing is so exciting!!!

If you look around on the internet, you can see a lot of versions of this pattern, including an amazing version in red faux fur by Yoga Byrd over on the Minerva.com website (hopefully that link works).

While I started this in the winter (And maybe finished it in the winter? I can’t remember…), it’s a great transitional piece for spring. I have worn it a lot, and am so glad I made it.

Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle
Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle

There’s nothing like a garment you have made yourself when it comes to the ideal fit. And if you find fitting difficult, persevere! You’ll get there! With practice, even if we can’t make everything fit perfectly, we can usually get things closer to what we want than store-bought clothes.

Simplicity 9388 Shirt Jacket in Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel Speckle

Simplicity 2156 Girls’ Leggings in Double Brushed Polyester

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Simplicity 2156 Girls’ Leggings in Double Brushed Polyester

Need some basic leggings for a kid or tween in your life? I’ve got you! Today’s post is a look back at some Christmas sewing I did for one of my kids, and it involves leggings. Actually, it’s only leggings!

In this case, I made two pairs. They are a great thing to sew for others because of the forgiving fit or for yourself as a palette-cleanser since they are quick and easy if you go for a basic pattern. And Simplicity 2156, View A contains your basic girls’ leggings pattern.

Simplicity 2156 Girls' Leggings in Double Brushed Polyester
Simplicity 2156 Girls' Leggings in Double Brushed Polyester

The fabric I used came from online retailer Cali Fabrics. I went looking for some double brushed polyester knit for a pattern I wanted to try since I knew they carried this substrate, and I had my daughter look through and pick out a few she liked as well. Double brushed polyester is a stretchy, thin, soft fabric, like what you would find in super soft ready-to-wear (RTW) leggings or other garments. It’s quite easy to find these days in lots of solids and prints, and it’s often fairly inexpensive.

I had questions about whether or not the fabric would be opaque enough to actually wear as leggings, but I figured they could always work as footless tights if they ended up on the see-through side of things.

I ordered some fabric in “lavender” as well as a “midnight galaxy” print. The lavender was slightly stretchier, but both have lots of good stretch and recovery to them as each is polyester blended with spandex.

Simplicity 2156 Girls' Leggings in Double Brushed Polyester
Lavender leggings. The color is a bit more purple in real life.
Simplicity 2156 Girls' Leggings in Double Brushed Polyester
Midnight galaxy leggings. You have to watch the print placement a little bit with this one.

The pattern itself was straightforward and easy to follow. The only real fit question I had was about the rise. If you are making this for a child who loves a high rise, these are great. My daughter prefers to wear her waistbands a little lower, so next time, I would take two inches out of the rise. I had had my doubts about it, but just wasn’t sure if I wanted to lower it or not. I made the galaxy print leggings first, and then compared them to some leggings she already owned, and quickly saw that the ones I had made had a much higher rise.

Simplicity 2156 Girls' Leggings in Double Brushed Polyester

I folded out two inches just under the waistband, and used my serger to trim the fabric and sew a seam there, shortening the top of the leggings but preserving the waistband I had just created.

Simplicity 2156 Girls' Leggings in Double Brushed Polyester
Simplicity 2156 Girls' Leggings in Double Brushed Polyester

For the purple pair, I cut two inches off the top before sewing in the elastic for the waistband.

Simplicity 2156 Girls' Leggings in Double Brushed Polyester

Also, unlike in the directions, which have you make a casing and insert elastic, I used my sewing machine to zigzag the elastic to the top of the leggings, leaving a bit of fabric above, then I folded them over and zigzagged over the edge of the fabric.

Simplicity 2156 Girls' Leggings in Double Brushed Polyester
Simplicity 2156 Girls' Leggings in Double Brushed Polyester

I found this faster and easier, and now the elastic will never twist. I also used a zigzag for the hems, and used my serger for other parts of construction. And last but not least, I sewed some little tags into the back of the leggings.

Simplicity 2156 Girls' Leggings in Double Brushed Polyester
Simplicity 2156 Girls' Leggings in Double Brushed Polyester

In case you are curious, when sewing on the sewing machine, I used a zigzag with a 6.5 width, and 0.5 length, a heavier presser foot pressure (three on my machine), a walking foot, and used all purpose polyester thread in my needle and woolly nylon in my bobbin. The fabric tunneled a bit and was wavy when unworn, but the thread didn’t break when stretched and the waviness disappears when worn. Now that I have grown slightly more patient than I used to be, I always do little tests on my scraps before sewing knits in order to get a stitch that will do what I want it to and won’t break when stretched.

Happily, these fit, although slightly loosely in the legs, which I am ok with, since that means there is some growing room. They turned out to be opaque and wearable as leggings, which was great. And my daughter liked them and has worn them several times. Yay! This proved to be an easy project with lots of wearability.

Simplicity 8391 Wide-Leg Pants in Cotton Velveteen

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Simplicity 8391 Wide-Leg Pants in Cotton Velveteen

Do you ever look in your closet and realize you are missing a certain type of clothing? I suppose that happens to everyone from time to time. Before Christmas, I realized that I had no dress pants except for one pair that was a bit snug. Like many others, my body has changed during COVID, and the dress pants I had previously have been cleared out of my closet since they no longer fit. I often make do with what I have for holidays, but I wanted something nice for our Christmas Eve church service. I don’t like sewing to a deadline, but I had probably a month to go before Christmas, which seemed reasonable, even with all the other pre-holiday demands on my time.

Simplicity 8391 Wide-Leg Pants in Cotton Velveteen

I looked through my fabric collection and found some beautiful cotton velveteen that I had bought a few years ago from Fabric Mart. It was originally slated to become part of a party outfit, but that plan took a turn, leaving this lovely fabric behind.

In order to speed me on my way and avoid fitting questions, I looked at what I had in my closet that already fit. One of the patterns I have made a few times, that still fits and that I love is Simplicity 8391.

Simplicity 8391 Wide-Leg Pants in Cotton Velveteen
Simplicity 8391 Wide-Leg Pants in Cotton Velveteen

I have made the shorts (View D) in pink denim and the cropped pants (View C) in green canvas. Later, I lengthened the pants to full length and made them in a more traditional blue denim. I love and wear these pants a lot, and with their wide legs, they are great in winter if you need to wear long underwear underneath on cold days. The only thing I wanted to adjust from my long blue denim pair was to add one more inch for a deeper hem.

I laid out my velveteen on the fold to see if I could fit my pattern. It was just barely wide enough, and just barely long enough. I had to keep in mind the nap of the fabric and cut the pants so the nap was running all the same way, but I could manage it with what I had. I cut everything out, and added an inch to the length of the pant legs right at the bottom so that I could finish them with a deeper, 2.5″ hem.

Simplicity 8391 Wide-Leg Pants in Cotton Velveteen
Simplicity 8391 Wide-Leg Pants in Cotton Velveteen
Adding and inch to my pants during cutting (close-up)

I know that the proper way to add length to pants is in the middle of the legs, and this is what I did when I initially lengthened them, as you can see two pictures up, but because this wasn’t the only project on my plate and there was a deadline, I tried to make things quicker wherever possible.

Making things speedy included using my serger to finish seams. While serging is not my favorite finish as far as looks go, I definitely like it better than the zigzag edge finish I often used inside pants before getting a serger.

Simplicity 8391 Wide-Leg Pants in Cotton Velveteen
Nicely finished, and I even got that deeper hem that I wanted.

Unlike my last pair of these pants where I used a jean zipper and lapped zipper application, I went back to what the instructions suggested and used an invisible zipper. I couldn’t find an exact color match, but since it’s invisible, only the pull shows, so it doesn’t matter that much. While the zipper technically stops below the pocket, it sticks a bit there because of the bulk of the fabric, so I just unzip it down to the pocket when I need to get in and out.

Simplicity 8391 Wide-Leg Pants in Cotton Velveteen
Simplicity 8391 Wide-Leg Pants in Cotton Velveteen

I also left the buttons off the front of the pants this time. They are such a cute sailor-inspired detail, but I wanted these pants to be dress pants, and a little more plain. It’s hard for me to keep things plain and not add extra colors or details, but it helps that I love this purple and its soft and velvety texture.

Simplicity 8391 Wide-Leg Pants in Cotton Velveteen
Simplicity 8391 Wide-Leg Pants in Cotton Velveteen
Simplicity 8391 Wide-Leg Pants in Cotton Velveteen

Because these are 100% cotton, they do relax with wear. I find this really comfortable, although it does change where the pants sit on your waist as they relax. This can sometimes result in a rather low crotch, so keep this in mind. I sewed the size that my measurements put me in, a 22, but you may want to size up or down according to what you like. I have worn these a time or two before taking pictures, so this is a more relaxed fabric day.

Simplicity 8391 Wide-Leg Pants in Cotton Velveteen

I was very happy to have these finished with time to spare, especially because I signed up for some ‘panic sewing’ for one of my kids! I wasn’t the only one who wanted something nice for Christmas Eve!

Simplicity 8391 Wide-Leg Pants in Cotton Velveteen
Trying out some different poses; my neighbors were very confused about what we were doing in the yard, and who can blame them? Haha!
Simplicity 8391 Wide-Leg Pants in Cotton Velveteen

So, my mission accomplished, I had something nice to pair with a sweater for Christmas Eve church as well as a pair of dress pants I really like in my wardrobe. And I even got my other sewing projects done on time! More on those later, hopefully. 🙂

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

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Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

My vest is finally done!!! I’m so excited to share it with you!

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

This vest began several years ago, when I saw a cool Patagonia outerwear vest with a Western-style yoke in a surprising color combination at Nordstrom. (Nordstrom is a great place to “shop” for inspiration!) While I know that Patagonia is a great company that produces clothes of excellent quality, it is not in my price range. So, I filed away the idea for later and moved on. (Sadly, I can’t find a picture of my inspiration vest in my files, but here are the ones that I looked at while planning this project–women’s, men’s.)

This past summer, while visiting family in Michigan, I went to Field’s Fabrics in Holland, MI, and saw this great Carhartt canvas insulated with Thinsulate.

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
It’s funny that the name on the roll is spelled “Carhardt”, but if you look on the website at the link above, you’ll see it’s spelled correctly: “Carhartt”. Just a typo, not a knock-off!

I had seen it at the store on a previous trip, and always wished I had bought some, so this time I did. My initial idea? A winter snap-front skirt to wear over leggings. I love those short, insulated skirts for winter! My Mom looked at the fabric, though, and suggested making a vest. At first I ruled it out, but as I thought more and more about the idea, I realized that it was a good one. I would wear a vest more than a skirt and it would fit me longer if I sized it correctly. And I remembered that Patagonia vest from way back. That’s when I got excited.

Deciding on all the specifics of fabric and pattern and any tweaks I wanted to make took a long time. My fabrics were originally not very cozy (other than the insulated canvas) because I was going purely on colors that worked together, but eventually, with input from my family, I decided to use a beloved piece of wool for my yoke that I have had in my stash for I don’t know how long, just waiting for the right project. At that point, I needed to rethink my lining layer to make everything look good together. I found a cream colored Polartec 200 Thermal Pro curly fleece online at The Rain Shed that was on sale, and looked like it just might work. I ordered it with some pocket zippers and bit the bullet on the insane shipping cost (so expensive!) since the fabric itself was such a good price.

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

The fabric was perfection with what I already had, but the hardware wasn’t quite there yet. I ditched my first zipper idea and ordered some metal ones with brass pulls from zipit on Etsy.

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

I have used their zippers before, and they are pretty cool looking. Brass heavy duty snaps from Joann Fabrics completed my hardware search.

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
If you try these, make sure you get a package with a setting tool (not pictured) if you don’t already have one.

For my pattern, I chose the Men’s Santiam Reversible Vest #102 from The Green Pepper Patterns.

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

There is a women’s vest, but I was outside the size range, and it didn’t seem like a big deal to curve out the hips on the men’s one if necessary. Time to get started!

The goal? Create an outerwear vest with the Western yoke of the Patagonia example that would be large and roomy enough to fit over my bulkiest sweater and thickest fleece leggings or jeans. And make it cozy! In order to get the fit I wanted, I followed the pattern’s directions to take measurements over the clothes I wanted to wear the vest with. This put me at a chest and waist size XL, and a hip size 2XL.

To keep this post from getting too long, I’ll list out the tweaks I made to the pattern instead of talking through them. Here’s what I changed:

*created a yoke piece to attach to the outer layer of the vest, front and back

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

*graded the hips out to a larger size, which meant that the side of the handwarmer pockets needed to be reshaped, and the angle of the pocket zippers needed to change to mirror the angle of the hips

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
The original pattern piece is in green marker; my alterations are in pencil

*created a longer back hem that curved down by tracing a vintage Woolrich puffer vest; this is also a feature on the Patagonia vests I linked to

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
You can see the longer back extending down in this picture
Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
The vest from the back, fleece side out

*created a pattern piece for wool strips that would attach to the fleece; I planned to fuse interfacing to the wool strips, hoping that this would be a more stable option for the snaps to attach to rather than the fleece (I previously made a fleece cardigan using sew-in interfacing, and a few of the anorak snaps I used as closures pulled away from my fleece–I was hoping to prevent that here)

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

*stay-stitched the yoke so nothing would stretch out

*flipped the directions so that my inner layer would have zipper pockets and my outer layer would have hand warmer pockets

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Zipper pockets; I gave the fleece around the zippers a tiny trim before calling it good
Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Handwarmer pockets

*used leftover woven Supplex from this project for my zipper pockets and half of my handwarmer pockets rather than the canvas and fleece to reduce bulk

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

By the time I had decided on all these little details, I started to get nervous that I was going to forget something! I had already forgotten that the seam allowance on this pattern was 3/8″, and ended up creating the pattern for my wool strips with one side having a 3/8″ seam allowance and the other one having a 5/8″ seam allowance.

Before beginning anything, though, I had to prewash all my fabric, which included that insulated canvas. The canvas is quilted to a batting layer which has a scrim, but no additional fabric.

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Canvas, batting, and scrim, all quilted together; the scrim is a thin layer over the batting that helps stabilize and hold everything together

I didn’t want it to get messed up in the washer, so I basted an old sheet onto the back side, put a few safety pins in the middle to sort of pin-baste it, and threw it in the washer. Luckily, it worked! I just seam-ripped the sheet off after it was all done and saved it for another purpose.

Once I was ready to cut everything out…I had to stop. Just before cutting I realized (thankfully) that the brick quilting pattern on the canvas needed to be lined up as much as possible so the horizontal lines matched! I got things as close as I could. The quilting wasn’t always possible to line up perfectly, whether because of shrinkage from prewashing or because it wasn’t exact. I got it done, though, and then it was on to the Polartec fleece–but wait! This had a nap, which means it’s a directional fabric–you want the fleece to all lie in the proper direction! Back through the cobwebs of my memory floated the time I had accidentally cut curly fleece upside down for a sweatshirt project and had to recut it. Didn’t want to do that again! Ok. Fleece all cut out, it was on to the yoke. But I wanted that on the bias since it would look nice that way and–oh! The shoulders needed to be pattern matched!

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Decent pattern matching on the shoulder seam!

It was crazy. Every time I thought something would be straightforward, it wasn’t, but nevertheless, I’m so very thankful I realized those things before I cut all the layers out.

I think it’s fair to say I procrastinated a lot on this project. Any time I knew I would have to do something tricky or scary, I paused, but eventually I would forge ahead, hoping it would turn out all right. And luckily, it did. The pattern instructions were very good, and the vest was really interesting to sew. I used my regular sewing machine for construction and my serger for finishing seams, although you don’t need one. The instructions tell you to finish your seams with a zigzag stitch.

I completed this just in time for some really cold weather that came our way. And I love it!

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

Now don’t be fooled–this vest is a massive beast of winter. This is no lightweight indoor vest. It’s big and a little bit heavy, though not uncomfortably so.

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

It has plenty of extra ease to go over my biggest sweater (just like I hoped!), and it’s so nice and warm. That collar can really keep out the wind, too!

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

Happily, it’s just what I wanted, and all the design and hardware choices really combined to make it look professional and rugged. And it’s reversible! Even the snaps!

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

Both the pattern and the snap pack mentioned that you can use the decorative snap caps on both sides to make your project reversible, so I tried it and it worked! Success!

Now I have one more unique garment that fits me just right for winter. Yay!

Update:

I entered this vest in the 2022 Topsfield Fair (in Topsfield, MA) and it won both a first place ribbon and Best in Show in the Sewing Division!