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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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!
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.
Now for the details!
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.
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. 😉
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
You open these areas by sewing within that panel (I used my sewing machine) and then cutting down the middle.
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.
It’s such a crazy idea to cut your knitting, but it really works!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My favorite detail on this shirt is the “L” patch from Wildflower and Company on Etsy.
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.
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.
I chose to make View B in a large for the bust/chest and waist and an extra large for the hips.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For the purple pair, I cut two inches off the top before sewing in the elastic for the waistband.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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. 🙂
My vest is finally done!!! I’m so excited to share it with you!
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.)
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.
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.
I have used their zippers before, and they are pretty cool looking. Brass heavy duty snaps from Joann Fabrics completed my hardware search.
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
*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
*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
*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)
*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
*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
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
We pick sewing projects for different reasons–something you need in your wardrobe, putting your own spin on a designer garment you could never afford, using a favorite fabric, the desire to try an intriguing pattern. The Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant was my intriguing pattern. I had heard of Elizabeth Suzann, a slow-fashion designer, because of Lauren Taylor (known as Lladybird in the sewing community), who had previously worked for her. Many in the sewing community and beyond loved this brand, and there was a lot of buzz when Elizabeth Suzann decided to close her business, but made some of her garments available as sewing patterns for free. Eventually, she wrote directions for the patterns and re-released them with a pay-what-you-can model on her website.
I kept seeing her Clyde Work Pant pattern and was curious about what it would be like to make and how I would like the huge, curving pockets on the sides. They were so different from anything else in my wardrobe, and I never would have been able to afford a pair or have a chance to try them on when they were only available as ready-to-wear. So, having no money for patterns at the time, I took her up on the pay-what-you-can offer, and grabbed a free copy of the pattern.
At the time I wanted to make these, it was August. (I made them before the gingham top I shared a few weeks back.) My husband had given me a gift of enough rust orange linen to make these pants, so I printed the pattern and cut them out. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make my size or go up a size to make absolutely sure the waist would pull over my hips. In the end, I made a size 16 in the “regular” height, which is where my measurements put me, although I could have gone either way on the height, since I’m about 5′ 8.5″. I also wondered if the ankles would fit over my heels, but I decided to just jump in and see what happened.
The instructions were nice and clear with good illustrations. There was no specific recommendation for how to finish your seams, although if you looked closely at a few of the illustrations, it seemed like the edges were serged. Since I love the look of beautifully finished insides, especially in linen, I chose to use a combination of French and flat-felled seams. While this really did create beautiful insides with not a raw edge in sight, it turned out to be a poor choice for the fabric I was using.
I wouldn’t call my linen a loose weave, really, but after wearing these for just a short time, the stitching holes started to open up a little bit and raw edges began to pop out at stress points. This wasn’t because I didn’t do a good job of finishing–it was just that in this fabric with this pattern, the better choice would have been to serge without trimming or zigzag my seam allowances together, press them to the sides in most cases, and topstitch. That would have left my seam allowances intact or at least not super narrow and provided less of a chance for ends and edges to pop out.
I thought that I would have to start patching my new pants almost immediately, but it seems that just a wide satin stitch has, so far, taken care of the problem, while blending in pretty well. I have the most issues at stress points like the bottom corners of the pockets on the front, the tops of the front seams on the legs, and the right back calf.
The pants were a pretty quick sewing project, and were not too hard to make, which was great. The only part that was a little tricky/fiddly was the waistband. I really like the idea of how the elastic is inserted, but it can be a little tough to do it well. My advice is to go slowly. I also added a few more pins than recommended, in order to keep everything where I wanted it.
Also, the pockets really are huge. I could fit a book in there! They’re so fun.
As for fit, these pants are really interesting. They are definitely comfortable, and I have no trouble getting my waistband over my hips. The rise is really high, which I am guessing might be a way of ensuring that these pants fit many body shapes well, and also makes it possible to wear them at your natural waist or below, as you prefer.
Thankfully, I had no trouble getting the foot holes over my heels, though it’s a close fit.
Standing, these are very comfortable.
Sitting and crouching, I notice that they get more snug around the stress points I mentioned. I suppose that next time I could either size up, or adjust the lower legs to be slightly larger, or try the tall length. I still find them very comfortable, and wonder how they would be in a bottomweight cotton twill or something a bit more durable than the linen I chose.
As for the fabric…I know it didn’t work out perfectly, but…I just love it. It’s a100% midweight linen originally from Fabric Mart. I love the color so much, and it’s not usually a color I go for. It has been great pairing it with a pink linen shirt in summer and now my purple Wool & Honey sweater (pattern by Drea Renee Knits) in fall. It’s so soft and comfortable too. Is it a doomed love? Maybe. I hope these pants last, and I’m not happy that I may have to keep repairing them, but I love this fabric. These pants are agreat transitional garment between seasons.
This was a really fun pattern with wonderful instructions, and even though I made some choices that gave me a few issues, those weren’t the fault of the pattern, which is excellent. In fact, I would love to make them again, despite my poor track record for repeating patterns.
I have finally achieved my dream from last summer. It may have taken me until nearly the end of this summer, but I did it nevertheless! That being said, I give myself an A+ for effort and concept, but only a C for execution.
So what did I make? Well, it’s really a “system” of clothes for summertime exploration. I made a bikini + rash guard that can be paired with my Supplex shorts for all manner of summer trips, whether they include water or not.
My daughter and I spent last summer exploring the area around where we live, and it was then I realized that the optimal clothes for this would include underwear that could get wet, shorts that could also get wet (or at least dry quickly), and a rash guard that could be worn as a t-shirt or be swapped for a t-shirt as needed. I made the Vero Beach Set shorts by Hey June Handmade in a quick-drying Supplex earlier this summer. Now I also have a basic sports bra and underwear style bikini from Butterick 4526 (View D) to be worn with a rash guard version of the Tilly and the Buttons Romy top.
The system works–it’s very comfortable and does what I want in terms of function. Where the rash guard and suit go a bit off the rails is in the fit/polish section of things. That being said, the fit is no worse than you would find in ready-to-wear (RTW) clothes, but those of us who sew know we can make better than RTW. (Sewing power!)
Let’s talk about each pattern.
Tilly and the Buttons Romy as rashguard
I bought a copy of the Romy top online from Chateau Sew & Sew, a new-to-me shop based in Louisiana, earlier this year with plans to make a unique t-shirt. I even have some great fabric set aside for it. As I was thinking about rash guards, though, I wondered if such a stylish shirt would also make a cute rash guard.
I didn’t want one that was too tight, but they are swimwear and typically tighter than a t-shirt, so I sized down one size to a 6 (Tilly has her own sizing system, so I’m using her size numbers here). I cut out my top from some poly/spandex swimwear fabric my husband got me last year from spandexbyyard.com. It feels substantial and didn’t seem see-through, so I didn’t line it. Also, I knew I would have a suit underneath if I was wrong about the opacity. Luckily, it was pretty darn opaque, as you can see from the photos of me wearing it further down. It stayed that way when wet, too.
I serged whenever possible, and used a dashed zigzag stitch on my regular machine when I couldn’t (I’m blanking on the name of that stitch right now…). It was a pretty easy, enjoyable sew. Tilly’s instructions and pictures are really top-notch (and fun with all the bright colors).
When I was done, I tried it on, and…something was just off. The shoulder fit was weird and the front draped in a way it wasn’t supposed to.
My husband helped me figure out a solution. I just folded the excess under in the front and zigzagged with that same dashed zigzag stitch. It wasn’t perfect, but it was better.
It’s very comfortable, but if I make this again, I really hope the larger size will fit my shoulders a bit better because I’m not sure how to fix it if it doesn’t! Also, I should note that the arms are comfortable, but if this were a regular t-shirt, I would want the sleeve hem circumference to be just a bit wider, so hopefully a larger size will fix that too.
It’s very comfortable to wear. It does float up a bit because it’s not super tight, but that doesn’t matter since I’m just wearing this for fun, not for any kind of sport competition. It stays wet for awhile after you swim in it, but it’s surprisingly comfortable despite that. I went swimming and then wore it afterward for a few hours while we did some exploring, and it worked great.
Butterick 4526, View D
Before making this, I went back and forth on whether to use this pattern or buy the Cottesloe Swimsuit from Megan Nielsen. Stylistically, they are very, very similar. Long ago, I made Butterick 4526, View C (one of the one-pieces), and had to count it as a fail due to poor pattern placement on my part, and excessive ease on the part of the pattern (not to mention, I forgot to sew in a shelf bra–haha, whoops!). Still, I already had this pattern, so I decided to give it one more try, but with the modification that I would make my finished size in this pattern match up with the finished measurements of the Cottesloe suit in my Megan Nielsen size.
I know there is always a lot of discussion in the sewing community about the ease in Big 4 patterns. I typically like the amount of ease included and nearly always make my size according to my measurements. The place I don’t trust the included ease is in situations like this–with a pattern that is a few years older (this is copyright 2005) and is for a garment that is supposed to have negative ease.
My decision to size down meant that even though my measurements put me in a 20/22 bust (C/D cup) and 22 waist and hip in the Butterick pattern, I needed to size down to a 14 bust (C/D cup) and 16 waist and hip. That’s pretty significant! To figure this out, I measured all the necessary pattern pieces minus seam allowance.
Except for showing you the photo of all the finished sizes above in case you are also sewing this, I won’t bore you with my notes, but trust me when I tell you there was a lot of measuring and math going on! The sizing down I did was possible because I had fabric with at least 50% stretch. Since my fabric was quite stretchy, I also didn’t add any extra length. This worked out well, thankfully.
Before sewing, I read through the instructions for this pattern. I think they would have been great at a time when we didn’t have the performance/swimwear fabrics we have now with their excellent stretch and recovery, when many people used sewing machines that may not have had a zigzag stitch, and almost no one had sergers. If you happen to be sewing with vintage fabric on a vintage machine, these instructions will probably work great for you. If you are using modern fabric and tools, there are better ways to sew a bathing suit.
Because I had modern fabric, a machine that could sew a zigzag, and a serger, I used the instructions in the Cottesloe sew-along. I also looked back at an older, but extremely helpful bit of information from a 2013 post on the Kaddiddlehopper blog all about swimwear. (If the link doesn’t work, you may be able to find it by Googling “Kadiddlehopper SwimAlong 2013 tips for a professional finish”.) This post gave me professional results on my first really successful bathing suit that I wore for years. Because of this post, I only used 1/4″ elastic at the neckline and used 3/8″ for the arm and leg holes. I really wish I had done that for the Mairin suit I made last year. (The leg holes on that suit do not feel secure. 1/4″ elastic there is just not enough!) I used 3/4″ elastic for the bottom of the bikini top and for the waist of the bottoms. I would have tried 1″, but didn’t have any. Luckily 3/4″ was great. I only used my serger for a few parts (basic construction). For inserting elastic, I used my regular machine with polyester thread in the needle and wooly/bulky nylon in my bobbin, another tip I picked up from the aforementioned blog post. I used a stretch needle, a walking foot, the lightest pressure on the presser foot (one on my machine) and a three-step zigzag (THAT’S what it’s called!) with a height of 6 and a length of 0.5, but you should test all that on scraps for yourself. I don’t think that particular height and width are typical. I like them because when I sew them on my test scraps and then stretch hard in both directions, the stitches don’t pop.
I used up some leftover shiny lining for the top and the more cottony-feeling lining I got from Spandex by Yard last year on the bottoms. (Spandex by Yard is where I got the pink swimwear fabric from too, also last year.) Both linings work great, and I never notice the difference when wearing this.
The suit looks a little tortured when you see it flat, but it fits pretty well when it’s on. It’s not a perfect fit, but it’s very secure and supportive, and really does the job.
I really like this sort of bathing suit system. It’s really comfortable and has the functional benefits of a bikini with the modesty of a tankini, and the comfort and versatility of regular activewear clothes. While sewing doesn’t always save money over RTW, I think swimwear (like bra making) is an exception. I know I saved money on the outfit as a whole.
I would make this style of bikini again to wear under a rash guard as a more versatile and comfortable tankini, although I don’t know if I would use the Romy as a rash guard pattern again. There are a lot of other great patterns out there that I would probably try instead.
If I do make this style of suit again, I would happily fork over the money for either the Megan Nielsen Cottesloe or the newly released Jalie Claudia Bikinis. The Cottesloe is basically the more modern, better-fitting version of Butterick 4526 with the one and two piece options, plus Megan Nielsen’s excellent instructions. Jalie’s Claudia is a little different and doesn’t have the one-piece option, but comes from a company that has vast amounts of experience drafting swimwear and other performance-wear with a truly amazing size range. Either way, you couldn’t go wrong. As for Butterick 4526, I’m glad I tried it, but I’m ready to move on.
Finally, I would definitely make more Vero Beach shorts. Those get an A+ for concept and an A+ for execution and fit. The system as a whole works and is really, really great for outdoor summertime adventures. I’m so happy I finally got around to making it, even with its imperfections.
Hi, everyone! I hope this finds you well. As you may have noticed, posting to the blog gets a bit patchy in the summer, so after taking July off, I’ll probably post a bit in August, although not as regularly as usual. It matches my sewing though. Even though I LOVE summer sewing, I also love being outside with my family and cooking and baking with summer produce, so the summer sewing never ends up being quite as plentiful as I imagine it will be.
Last summer, my youngest daughter and I spent a lot of time exploring the area around where we live. Sometimes we were in the woods, sometimes we were at the beach or by a river where we might want to swim. I hoped that by making us some shorts in woven Supplex, a texturized nylon fabric that feels a lot like cotton, but is wicking and breathable (etc., etc.), we would have bottoms we could wear on our adventures this summer that could get wet and then dry quickly. It was all about versatility! The shorts from the Vero Beach Set by Hey June Handmade seemed perfect for this.
During the winter, I ordered several cuts of woven Supplex from The Rainshed with the intention of making our adventure shorts, as well as a few other things I had in mind.
(You can see the “sweatshirt” I made with the yellow Taslan/Supplex as part of my Spring Outfit here.) Normally when I batch sew, it is groups of different patterns, but this time, I made three of these pairs of shorts at once–two for me, and one for my daughter.
For my shorts, I sized up one size from where my measurements put me. The instructions suggest doing this if you have a fabric with no give to it, and that definitely applies to this Supplex. I also like a good bit of ease, and sizing up made these fit just right. For my daughter, I chose a size based on her waist and hoped the shorts would fit, as she isn’t quite in adult sizes yet. We used the line drawing as a coloring page, since we had gotten two colors for her shorts, and she colored in everything the way she wanted it as a guide for me.
One thing to note, that I didn’t initially realize, is that the binding for the shorts is not visible on the outside if you follow the pattern directions. Of course you could reverse the directions around Step 19 if you want it to show.
After cutting out her shorts and mine, I realized that I still had enough fabric left from hers to cut out another pair, and since I liked her colors, and she didn’t mind, I cut out some shorts with her fabric, but with the colors in the opposite positions for me.
When it came time to sew, I started with a Microtex 90/14 needle, but that made my machine sound like it was punching through the fabric, so I switched to a Microtex 70/10 needle, and that was better. I also found that my thinner silk pins were easier to use than the pins I normally use (which are actually quilting pins). I threaded my serger for finishing seam allowances since this fabric doesn’t press well, and frays a fair amount, and was careful to choose thread colors for both my sewing machine and serger that would look good on all three pairs of shorts so I wouldn’t have to switch (plus I love a good contrast thread color). As far as elastic, I bought what Joann’s had in the appropriate width, which turned out to be Underwear and Pajama Elastic.
A slightly higher machine tension (five on my machine, rather than the normal four) gave me more balanced stitches. I rarely change my tension, but it did help on this project. I ran into a little bit of trouble part way through with skipped stitches. Everything had been going fine, and then I started to have problems. After trying a bunch of things, I didn’t know what else to do, so I called the sewing help hotline (i.e. my Mom) and she suggested cleaning my machine and then changing thread brands. So, I cleaned everything out and switched from Coats & Clark to Gütermann, and it worked! I hadn’t thought of that, but after she said it, I remembered that my machine has the same issue, but in the opposite direction with topstitching thread–Coats & Clark works, but Gütermann doesn’t. Funny, huh?
When it came to interfacing, I attached self fabric with a washable glue stick, since I didn’t want to try fusing interfacing to this fabric. Ironing nylon fabric like this sounds like a recipe for melted fabric!
I also serged the top edge of the back pockets since my serger is set at a 1/4″ wide stitch width (Have I ever actually changed that? No! Haha). At the time, I wondered if I should have serged other areas in the pockets to eliminate fraying, but after having worn the shorts a lot, it hasn’t been an issue, so I guess whatever I did was fine.
Here are a few tips for this pattern: make sure when you trim your seam allowances in step 20, that you use a washable marker or chalk to mark the notches on the curved sides/bottoms of your shorts in a way you can still see after trimming–you will need those marks to help you line up the sides.
I also recommend marking the drawstring holes even if you aren’t inserting a drawstring, just so you know where the front of the waistband is for when you are attaching it to the shorts. I had planned to insert drawstrings in mine, but changed my mind. I was still glad I had those markings, though.
So…how did they turn out? Well, I wish I had about five more pairs, so they are great! And my daughter’s fit well, too. I wasn’t sure how hers would fit since they are a women’s size, but she loves them and they fit great! We have worn them to the beach, wild blueberry picking, for exercise, and as every day wear. I usually wear them as soon as they are out of the wash. I love them. I was afraid the pink and orange ones would be a bit see-through (something I began to worry about after I had cut them out since they seemed fine before that), but unless you are wearing really dark or patterned bottoms underneath it’s not an issue, and if it’s a swimsuit, well, who cares? The magenta ones are completely opaque.
I didn’t take pictures of my daughter since I don’t share pictures of my kids on my blog, but here are some she took of me when we went wild blueberry picking. Try not to be jealous of my outfit–fashion + protection against ticks and mud! What more could you want?! Hahaha
These shorts are so versatile and comfortable, I would love to sew them up in a bunch of different fabrics–everything from linen to lightweight denim and maybe even athletic knit (worth a try!). They would also make great pajama shorts. The instructions were excellent and the pockets are so nice and large. I really, really recommend these. Knowing my love for nearly always trying new patterns, I can’t say for sure that I will circle back to these, but I hope I do, because they are great.
The pullover that’s included in this pattern looks nice, too, so we’ll see if I try that someday. Wouldn’t it be great in double gauze? The more I sew with patterns from Hey June Handmade, the more I love them. The instructions are so good, many of the styles are a great match for me, and I am coming to really trust Adrianna’s expertise and advice in each pattern. She knows what she is talking about!
I’m also really glad that I have tried out woven Supplex. Sometimes I want to sew a garment because the pattern is intriguing and new, and sometimes it’s the fabric I find tempting. I still have some uncut blue-gray yardage that I hope to make into the Itch to Stitch Sequoia Cargos so I will have some woven hiking pants, but we’ll see what happens. Technical fabrics are so interesting, and being able to make your own outdoor gear feels like such a win!
And what’s up next in the queue? I’m working on a rash guard and bathing suit now and am hoping to make the Fibre Mood Lola Top and Elizabeth Suzann Clyde Work Pant pattern in linen after that, but we’ll see! I’ll keep you posted although it may be a bit patchy through the end of summer. 🙂