Tag Archives: clothing

UNSELFISH SEWING??!!! Yes, Aliens Have Taken Over my Body. I Made My Husband a Thread Theory Strathcona Henley.

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Well, that about says it all.  Either aliens really can and do take over our minds and bodies, or I just had a rare bout of unselfish sewing under my own power.  Hard to judge sometimes.  😉

Before we get into this, I will say that this little bit of unselfish sewing (plus a shirt I sewed for my daughter AND pants for my husband…yes–MORE THAN ONE UNSELFISH PROJECT!) got me thinking.  Why do I make most of my clothing for myself?  Well, besides the fact that it’s fun and I like clothes, there is the reality that when you sew for someone else (or make anything for someone else), you have to work in a different way.  If I’m making a garment for myself and I make a mistake, I can decide if I care enough to fix it.  Sometimes I do, often I don’t.  I prefer to finish things over having them remain a perfect but unfinished project forever.  Making something for someone else (especially if there is money involved) means I have to work to a different standard.  I still have to finish the project AND it has to be at a higher level.  If picky people are involved, it goes to a whole new level, which is why I try to avoid sewing for those who are hard to please.  Even when sewing for someone who is not super picky, if the fit is off or they weren’t honest about what they really wanted, all your hard work ends up in a closet.

I guess it depends on who you are making it for and what they care about in a garment.  Luckily, in this case, my husband has seen enough of what goes into a garment and what it takes to finish it, that he isn’t going to get crazy about the details, but I’ve also been married to him long enough to know that it has to be finished to a certain level of wearability for it to be a true success.  But then, I guess that’s the case even when sewing for myself…

In the garment I’m going to show you, there are some mistakes, but I think my husband, being the awesome encourager that he is and actually wanting a finished garment, went with “imperfectly finished is better than perfectly unfinished forever”.

Let’s talk about the Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory!

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

I LOVE Henleys for both men and women.  A Henley, as I understand it, is sort of like a t-shirt, but with a partial button placket down the front.  This type of shirt is made from a knit and has a certain “woodsman” vibe.  Thread Theory really has that vibe down, making it possible for me to make L.L. Bean style clothes to my own preferences.  Also, these guys get a gold star for coolest packaging ever, even including a Thread Theory tag so you can sew it into your finished projects.

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

This year my one Black Friday purchase was a cool, double layer knit fabric from Cali Fabrics.  The outside is a grey rib knit and the inside is a soft off-white jersey.  The two layers are tacked together every so often making them work as one.  (I don’t see it on their site anymore, so I’m guessing it’s sold out.)  The garment pattern came from Pintuck & Purl in Exeter, NH.

I made Scott Variation 1 of the Strathcona Henley.  His measurements put him at a size Large, but since this is designed to be slim-fitting and he likes more ease in his clothing, I sized up to an extra-large.

I’ve never sewn a Henley before, so I was hoping this wouldn’t be too tricky.  There is a lot of helpful information in the pattern booklet, including width and length suggestions for your zig-zag stitch.  I ended up using a height of 2.5 and a length of 1 with a jersey needle and a walking foot on a standard sewing machine.  I found the button placket a little bit tricky (and frustrating) to do.  Since I’ve never done this type of thing before, I chalk that up to my own inexperience.  Perseverance paid off in the end, though.  If you make this yourself, you should definitely hand-baste the placket in place as suggested.  Just hand-baste everything!

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

The square at the bottom of my placket came out crooked, but that was one of those mistakes that you look at and move on.  My husband actually didn’t notice it until I mentioned it.  (Oops!)  I also think that my fabric, which was bulkier than a single layer would be, made things more difficult.  If I make a billion of these, I’ll have to report back on if this gets easier.  If you haven’t done this before, don’t be put off.  If I can do it, so can you!  You can’t expect your first time going through a technique to be perfect.  If it turns out perfect, great, but expect it to be imperfect.  You’re learning.

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

One really great thing about Thread Theory is that they have a lot of tutorials and sew-alongs online.  Morgan, one of the owners, is also very willing to answer questions.  I didn’t email her about this project, but I did about another pattern (still to be blogged), and she was really helpful.

Final analysis:  I like this pattern, and it looks GOOD on my husband!  You may not be able to tell from the pictures, since he rarely smiles in pictures, but he really likes it, too, and has worn it a lot.  😀  I LOVE how it turned out.  I’ve even thought of adapting it to fit me, but that is for another sewing season.  Cold weather sewing ended for me on Wednesday when I finished my last winter project.

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

And look!  I even got Scott to smile.  Ha ha!  Triumph!

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

And now for this week’s recommendations!  (Maybe “recommendations” can be my working title.  I still want a better title.  Suggestions?)

  • Smoothies!  Here is our general recipe, adapted from one we found in a magazine ages ago:  1/4c. flavored low-fat yogurt (like peach or strawberry), a splash of milk, 1 Tablespoon of peanut butter, some strawberries (maybe 2 c.?), a banana, a handful of ice, and maybe a handful of spinach (optional).  Top with cinnamon and whipped cream (and sprinkles aren’t a bad idea, either!).  Enjoy!  This makes enough for one tall glass.  I can usually triple it in my blender.
  • Looking for an interesting source of fashion inspiration?  If you are on Instagram, check out @artgarments to see fashion details found in paintings.
  • If you have kids in your life and like cooperative games, try Outfoxed! by Gamewright.  To beat the game, you all have to work together to uncover clues and reveal suspects until you have an idea of which fox stole the pot pie.  If the fox escapes before you guess correctly, you lose!
  • Have you ever watched “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On”?  It’s so cute!

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Field Trip: Native Fashion Now at the Peabody Essex Museum

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Let’s go on a little field trip, shall we?

Earlier this month I visited the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA to see Native Fashion Now.  The show runs from November 21, 2015-March 6, 2016.  If you plan to see it, check with your library to find out if they offer passes that will discount or eliminate the admission cost for you.

The show covers a wide range of designers.  Some are using traditional techniques, materials, and imagery in completely new ways and others focus on preserving tradition.  There are also questions within the exhibit about cultural appropriation.

Here are some of the pieces I found most interesting.  When possible, I’ll have the artist’s card describing the work below each picture.

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

The ones below were some of my favorites.  I liked the surface treatment of the fabric and the use of imagery on these dresses.  It was something I hadn’t seen before.  They made me rethink the idea of vintage dresses (even though these weren’t vintage when they were made).

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

I loved the level of detail in each little figure or image on this belt as well as the variety of materials that were used.

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

The way these three designers used their materials of choice so creatively was really inspiring.

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

I really loved this dress.  It isn’t by a native designer (it’s by Isaac Mizrahi).  At this point, the exhibit brings up the issue of cultural appropriation.  It gave me a lot to think about.

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

Here is an Iris Apfel ensemble.  If you’ve seen the documentary about her, you’ll know that she donated a good amount of her clothing collection to the Peabody Essex Museum.

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

Can you imagine the amount of work it took to create these boots?

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

This sign explains both the Iris Apfel ensemble and the boots.

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

This artist extended native imagery beyond fashion into an area that has a lot of cross-pollination with street style:  skateboarding.

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

Native Fashion Show, Peabody Essex Museum

It was an enjoyable and thought-provoking exhibit.  It gave me new ideas and broadened my understanding of fashion.

Before we go, let’s have some recommendations.  THIS IS FUN NOW!

  • Have you ever read the series The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith?  It’s what my mystery-loving friend describes as a “cozy”.  It’s not gross, graphic, or terrifying, but focuses on the work and relationships between several recurring characters.  Mma Ramotswe solves mysteries in Botswana with her faithful and opinionated assistant Mma Makutsi.  There are a number of books in the series, so if you like it, you’ll have plenty to read.
  • Smoked paprika.  It’s good.  Try it on eggs.
  • I found this on the Closet Case Files blog, and I had to repost it.  It’s all about activewear…and how inactive we often are when we’re wearing it.  This is your dose of humor for the week:

Take Two: Megan Nielsen Briar T-Shirt

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Today’s project is a second take on a shirt I’ve made once before.  It’s Megan Nielsen’s Briar t-shirt and sweater, this time made from a fleece-backed fabric.  You can see my first version of this pattern here.

I made this one for my trip to Colorado last month.  Since I was planning to wear my other Briar sweater on the plane ride out, this seemed like a good choice for the ride home.  I suppose you could call that dorky, but I call it awesome.  I already had the pattern ready, the fabric waiting to be used, and I really needed a quick project to whip through after all the time I spent on the outfit I wore to the wedding in Colorado.  With all that ready and waiting, it was such a fast project.  Super satisfying!

Here are the details:

As mentioned, I used the pattern below.

My awesome Briar

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

These days I trace out my patterns on tracing paper, which gives me a nice, clean pattern to work with, especially if I am grading between sizes, which I usually do.  It was so nice to already have this traced out from the last time.  I chose to make a medium at the bust and grade out to a large for the waist and hips.

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

I made Version 4, which is the long-sleeved t-shirt in the longer length.  I really like the high-low hem.

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

The fabric for this is pretty cool.  I got it this summer at Field’s Fabrics in Kalamazoo, MI.  Man, that place is great!  This fabric is, I think, made by Polartec.  The quality is really great, and makes me only want to sew with their fleece (However if some other company wants to try to convince me their fleece is better, send over the free fabric!  I’ll try it, but it’s going to take A LOT to convince me.).  It’s got a fleece inside and a stretchy, smooth outside.  It would be perfect for an athletic jacket, but I wanted to try it in another context.  When I thought of pairing it with this pattern, it seemed perfect.

Here are some detail shots.  This time around, I made sure to stabilize the shoulders with ribbon, rather than trying to do that after the fact.  I’ve since stabilized the shoulders and back of the neck on my first version of this pattern, but I don’t think it was a huge help since I did it after the fact.  I wasn’t going to make that mistake this time (See?  Sewing is LEARNING!).

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

A nice thing about working with knits is that you don’t have to do a lot of finishing of seams and edges.  The hem and sleeves are just turned up and zigzagged.  I made sure to use a jersey needle and a walking foot to help with the sewing.

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

You may notice in the photo above that my sleeve seam isn’t flat.  I sometimes hem the sleeves before sewing the sleeve up.  I’m always afraid it will be hard to hem it afterward, even though my machine has a free arm.  I haven’t decided if I like this better or not.  It’s definitely easier, but I don’t think it looks as nice as sewing the sleeve seam first and doing the sleeve hem after.  It doesn’t bother me when I wear it, though, so I keep doing it.

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

Here is the shirt from the inside:

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

And that’s about it!  I have one more of these shirts cut out in a jersey knit, so it will be interesting to see if that fits at all differently, since I have noticed some wrinkles that radiate out from the underarms in the versions I’ve already made.  I can’t tell if there is a fit issue there that I don’t know about or if it is the fabric I’ve chosen.  I guess I can compare them all when the t-shirt is finished.

And, last but not least…This is fun now!  Here are my fun things for you to check out.

  • Hillcraft Designs on etsy.  This one belongs to my friend who is an amazing potter, knitter, and all-around fabulous maker of a billion things.  Jo-Alice is a one in a million person and a one in a million maker.  My parents have ordered pottery from her and I bought some for my best friends for Christmas.  It was beautiful, and they loved it.  She has helped me in my knitting, my baking, and in all of life, really.  I highly recommend her work!
  • For your reading pleasure, check out Ask the Past by Elizabeth P. Archibald.  I really love funny things.  The author of this book found advice throughout history and has compiled it, with comments for all of us.  It contains gems like the usefulness of bacon for curing wounds, how to get sympathy after giving birth (hint:  scream really loud!), and a caution to not smell too much basil (you might end up with a scorpion in your brain!).  We checked out a copy from our library, so you can check yours to see if they have it, too.
  • Last, but not least, and continuing on the “funny” theme, this is currently my favorite sketch from The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.  Makes me laugh so hard I cry pretty much every time.

As Promised: Butterick 5526 Women’s Button Down Shirt with a Broad Back Adjustment

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As Promised:  Butterick 5526 Women’s Button Down Shirt with a Broad Back Adjustment

Hi, friends!  Here we are today with lots of pictures and words on Butterick 5526, which is a women’s button down shirt.

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

Butterick 5526

Butterick 5526

After my last button down, which was a little bit tight through the back/shoulder area, I decided to learn about how to do a broad back adjustment and measure things on the pattern before I cut my fabric.  The ever-helpful Maggie from Pintuck & Purl put me on the right track, and I found my final and very detailed answer courtesy of The Perfect Fit volume of the Singer Sewing Reference Library.  I cannot recommend these books enough!  One of the best parts is that they are often easy to find used at a very low price!  Mine were a gift, but I have bought one or two volumes that I didn’t have.

Singer Sewing Reference Library

Now is the point where things will get technical.  If you are just here for the pictures and general stuff, feel free to start scrolling at this point.  I’ll let you know when it’s over.

The book instructed me to have someone measure my back between the creases of my arms.

Making a broad back adjustment

I measured about 6″-7″ down from the prominent bone at the base of my neck.  The instructions said to measure 4″-6″ down, but I went a little lower so I could measure at the top of my arm creases.  My back width was 16 3/4″, and the book advised a minimum ease of 1/2″-1″ for a blouse, meaning my garment should measure 17 1/4″-17 3/4″ across the back.  The back width of the pattern was 16 1/2″, so I needed to add 1 1/4″ total or 5/8″ to the pattern piece (since the pattern piece was only half of the back of the shirt).

The book gives you instructions for making a minor adjustment and a major adjustment.

Making a broad back adjustment

Because of the amount I needed to add, I used a major adjustment.  The minor adjustment was appropriate for a total addition of 1/2″ for sizes under 16 and 3/4″ for 16 and larger.  The major adjustment is good for 2″ total in sizes under 16 and 3″ total in sizes 16 and up.  By ‘total’ I mean the amount across a full size back pattern piece.  If you are adding to a pattern piece representing half of the back, as I was, you would cut those ‘total’ amounts in half.  I chose the major adjustment because the amount I needed was more than the amount listed under the minor adjustment instructions.

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

One puzzling part that I ran into is that the example shows a pattern piece without princess seams.  My pattern has princess seams.  I was a little worried since this was my first time making this adjustment.  What I ended up doing was taping the pattern pieces for the back and the side back together where they would be sewn together at the underarm and doing the adjustment across both pieces.  Then, I just crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.  The good thing was that, although I love the fabric I chose, it was also very inexpensive (it may have been around $3-$5 a yard), so if I really messed up, I wasn’t out too much money.

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

The above picture probably isn’t the most helpful because I set the pieces together after the fact.  I should have taken in-progress pictures, but I didn’t think of it.  Below are the individual back and side back pieces after the adjustment.

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

After making the adjustment to the pattern, I cut everything out, and sewed it all up.  This wasn’t a difficult pattern, but I was really happy that I had my last shirt under my belt.  It helped me to have an idea of how long things were going to take.  Shirts have a lot of little steps, but they are really satisfying to make.  I followed the directions as written, with the exception of going back and zigzagging my seam allowances that hadn’t been topstitched down.  At some point I may use a more polished finish.

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

In my initial tracing of the pattern, going by my measurements, I made a 16 in the bust and graded out to an 18 for the waist and hips.  I found this to be very comfortable, and I wore it to the wedding I mentioned in the last post, but I sort of felt like there were little “wings” at the sides.  So, after getting home, I basted the side seams to be a little smaller, guessing how the shirt might have fit had I cut a straight size 16.

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

I was worried that it would be tight across the middle, but it’s not at all.  It still has plenty of ease, but it removes the “wing” effect.  For my next shirt, I retraced the waist and hip part of the pattern and cut it down to a 16.

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

The most technical parts are done!  Read on for less detailed information.  🙂

For others interested in making this pattern, I would say that this still has a fair amount of ease.  If you like your shirts to fit more closely, you may want to measure the pattern pieces and decide if you want to size down further.

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

The less technical details of the shirt include pink topstitching.  I got some nice Gutermann thread for this.  I also found some crystal buttons at a nearby quilt store, Loom ‘N Shuttle.  I like the fanciness it gives the shirt.  😉

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

I also cut the cuffs, collar, collar stand, and plackets on the bias.  I was hoping it would work out ok since I was going to interface those parts with a fusible interfacing, and it worked out great.  You can see that  a little bit in the picture below.  I really like the effect.

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

I found out about this pattern by reading Lauren’s blog, Lladybird.  She has the power to make me want to try out just about any pattern, and she wasn’t wrong on this one.  I’ve got another one in progress with more of the fabric I bought last summer, and I’m contemplating future versions in basic white and black.  This pattern is a winner.

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

Now I just have to go back and try the broad back adjustment on Simplicity 1538.  I think that one needs a larger adjustment, though, so I put it on the back burner while I work on a few other projects.

One last thing before I go…I love getting recommendations, sewing and otherwise, from other bloggers.  If you’ve ever listened to the While She Naps podcast, you’ll notice Abby and her guests sharing recommendations at the end of the show.  I love that.  So, when I have something fun that I am really enjoying, sewing or otherwise, I’m going to put it at the end of the post in case you want to try it, too.  This isn’t advertising.  No one is paying me to write this blog.  It’s just stuff that is fun for me right now or a really great reference that I like.  That’s why I’m going to call it:  This is fun now…at least until I think of a better title.  Feel free to suggest titles–I’m listening.

This is fun now:  Today’s recommendation (other than the Singer Sewing Reference Library) is an etsy jewelry shop called Adam Rabbit.  I’ve been a fan for a few years now and my family has been nice enough to get me some of the jewelry in the shop the last few Christmases.  If you like chunky, rough gemstones and a style you might find in Free People or Urban Outfitters, you may enjoy this one.  The owner occasionally has deals for Instagram followers, too.  Enjoy!

Field Trip: Denver, Colorado

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My latest field trip is way outside my normal stomping grounds!  Earlier this month, my husband and I took a trip to Denver, Colorado for a wedding.  We almost never get away just the two of us, and definitely not to far-away places, so this was a pretty big deal!  We had such a great time at the wedding and a lot of fun exploring Denver and the surrounding area.

Of course there was sewing involved.  I used the wedding as a chance to challenge myself to come up with a creative outfit.  In the end, I took apart a bridesmaid dress that I had in storage and turned it into a skirt (which involved a lot more work that I thought it would!).  I also made a button down shirt with a pattern that I had been planning to try out (Butterick 5526).  This included making a broad back adjustment to the pattern before I cut it out (hopefully more on that in a future blog post).  After that, it was all about finding great colors to finish things off.  Here’s my final ensemble:

Fancy Wedding Clothes!

Wedding clothes!

I found the sweater on sale at J.Crew, and the earrings and bobby pin (which are harder so see, but they had gorgeous Swarovski crystals) on clearance at TJ Maxx.  I already had the tights, which was a good thing because white tights for women are harder to find that I thought!

Also…check out these shoes!

Fancy Wedding Clothes!

Thank you, Boden sale (and Christmas money!).  I had been saving up for some black heels, but in the end, the fancy shoes won out.

All of the colors together just made me so happy!  I love color!  This wasn’t anywhere near my original outfit ideas, but I’m so happy with how it all turned out.  It was so comfortable, and I know I’ll wear all the pieces again, both together and separately (actually, I’m wearing the shirt and earrings as I type).

The wedding and reception took place in a really cute barn outside of Denver.  The bride was gorgeous and everything was so beautiful.  Lots of our friends were there, and we all had a great time.

When we weren’t at the wedding, we explored the cute mountain town of Evergreen.  I have to recommend The Muddy Buck coffee shop if you are ever there.  I didn’t get any good pictures of it, but here are a few of Evergreen:

Evergreen, Colorado

Evergreen, Colorado

Evergreen, Colorado

My friend and I kept saying we couldn’t believe it was a real town.  It was so cute.  We felt like we were at a theme park or something.  The only thing I didn’t like was the curvy mountain roads!  They were good highways, but they are so curvy and very dark when the sun is down.

I also got a good (luckily not first-hand) education while in Colorado:

Colorado

Colorado

After spending some time in more mountainous areas, we took a day to head into Denver and explore there.  The bride’s parents had given us a bunch of fun recommendations of things to try in the area, and one of them was the Denver Biscuit Co.  I highly recommend this one.

Denver Biscuit Co.

I ordered the DBC Club.  Delicious.

We also spent a little lot of time in Fancy Tiger Crafts!!!!

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

When I got there, it was even bigger better than I had imagined!

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

And, I must say, their sales staff is just lovely!  I admitted to one of the ladies that I was kind of freaking out inside with excitement.  She said she felt the same way for the first month when she started working there.  🙂  Everyone was very friendly and really helpful.

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

During this next paragraph, you should read between the lines that MY HUSBAND IS AWESOME.  I was in Fancy Tiger Crafts for 2.5 hours.  Yes.  It’s true.  There was JUST. SO. MUCH.  I couldn’t make a decision.  I knew I wanted a few crafty badges (like Girl Scout badges for crafters), and I decided to get Deer and Doe’s Datura Blouse pattern…but then I got stuck.  I had fabric money, but what to spend it on?  They say that beggars can’t be choosers, but I say that when you are on a budget, every purchase has to count.  I didn’t want to buy something I wouldn’t use or wear.  Choice overload.

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

It was at this point that my husband gently suggested that we might want to go over to the Denver Biscuit Co. (before they closed), get some lunch, and come back afterward.

It was just what I needed.  Food and a little time to think.  When we went back, I found four fabrics to make up two Datura Blouses and with some help on the yardage calculations from the lovely Jaime herself, I was out of there in 15 minutes.

Lesson learned.  Sometimes you need to take a step back when you get overwhelmed to give yourself time to think.

Want to see what I got?

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

I also picked up two knitting badges for some friends.  I’m hoping this loot will serve me well when summer sewing fever hits.

Believe it or not, we even had time to do a little more exploring after that!

Denver, Colorado

Other fun highlights from the trip included pizza at Beau Jo’s in Idaho Springs and Evergreen, Tattered Cover Book Store, Revampt, and the mountains!

Colorado

Colorado

These pictures don’t even begin to do them justice.

It was a great trip and a real blessing to be at such a special wedding with so many friends.

Next time (hopefully):  the nitty gritty on sewing Butterick 5526.

A Vest from a Men’s Shirt, Secret Christmas Pillowcases Revealed, and Sewing Ideas for 2016!

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Nothing like a long title, right?  😉  There are plenty of projects and ideas for projects floating around my head these days, so I think it’s time to power-share!  (There’s another word for the dictionary.  Makin’ up new words all the time over here!)

When I think about new projects to share, I keep forgetting to post this vest that I made.

Simplicity 1499 (vest)

My original plan for it was to be an additional entry in the Refashioners Contest last year, just to pad out my entry, but I’m glad now that I took it off my list.  It wasn’t too hard to make, but it isn’t anywhere near the quality of the jacket I made as my one and only entry.

When the cooler weather sets in, I start thinking of polar fleece and really anything warm, so when I found this oversized men’s fleece-lined flannel shirt at the thrift store, originally by L.L. Bean, I knew I wanted to use it (similar shirt here).  I found this pattern:

Simplicity 1499 (vest)

Simplicity 1499 (vest)

After reading the reviews on Patternreview, I convinced myself that I could create a J.Crew-esque style vest.  Well, that didn’t exactly happen, but it’s cozy!

The good and bad part of getting better at sewing, is that now I am less satisfied when my own sewing is of a lower quality.  What a problem to have, right?  I know I am “supposed” to match up plaids and make things look pretty inside, etc., etc., maybe make sure my pockets are on the same level, but you can’t have it all.  I made this out of a shirt.  That’s cool!  I’ll learn to match plaids another day.

As far as any other details the sewing people among you might be interested in…I made View A, minus the quilting.  I cut a size 16 and graded out to an 18 in the waist and hips.  This may not have been necessary.  It’s fairly boxy and loose, but I wanted to be able to wear it over sweaters.  Instead of putting in the zipper, I left the buttons from the original shirt.  I also took off the original chest pockets.  In the process, I may have made a few holes, but that was an opportunity to return to my old standby of running over any sewing problems with my machine, and I just sewed over them until they blended in.  Problem solved!

The other problem I ran into was that I ended up with “wings” at the front of the armholes.

Simplicity 1499 (vest)

Simplicity 1499 (vest)

I did actually go back and take off the bias binding and try to take the princess seams in a little bit.  It worked better on one side than another, and I’m a lot happier having tried.  It definitely fits better now.

Learning to do a sway-back adjustment is on my mental list of things to learn, but I’m trying not to tackle too many new techniques at once, so that one is for the future.  Dealing with the armholes was my fitting experiment for this pattern.

Simplicity 1499 (vest)

Simplicity 1499 (vest)

Overall, I think the pattern is good.  This isn’t my favorite thing that I have ever made, but I like it and I’ve worn it and will wear it again.  I don’t know that I will keep it in my closet for the ages and pass it down to my children, but I guess you never know.  More fleece is always better than less fleece in the winter, so it may survive longer than I think.  I would try the pattern again if I decide I want another vest.

On another topic, I wanted to give you a quick look at a few pillowcases I made as Christmas presents.  I used a tutorial on the Sew Mama Sew blog that is actually an excerpt from a book by Shea Henderson called School of Sewing.

Pillowcases

Pillowcases

I bought the border print for the first pillowcase as well as the panda seersucker in Michigan over the summer at The Material Girls in Dearborn, MI.  The coordinating fabric on each pillowcase is from Joann’s.  These really were easy to sew and I’m sure I could use the tutorial to make fancier ones in the future as well.  I keep telling myself that if I would just make a billion pillowcases and cloth napkins, I could use up my stash and replace my worn pillowcases and napkins, but so far clothes are too much fun.  Except for these two pillowcases, clothes have won out every time.

Lastly, do you have sewing plans for 2016?  I have ideas.  I’m not calling them plans because my ideas of what I want to make often change throughout the year, but here is what I have so far.  I saw the #2016makenine challenge on Instagram, and decided to jump in…except I ended up with ten.  This makes me sound like a total overachiever but, like I said, these plans will flex and change throughout the year, and I doubt everything will get made.

#2016makenine

Top row, left to right:  Butterick 5526, Megan Nielsen Briar Sweater and Tee, Simplicity 1538

Middle row, left to right:  Jalie 3134, Megan Nielsen’s Mini Briar, Jalie 3023

Bottom row, left to right:  Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory, Coco by Tilly and the Buttons, Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

(most links to these patterns are below)

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#2016makenine

Ginger Skinny Jeans Pattern by Closet Case Patterns

 I’ve already cut out some Jutland Pants by Thread Theory for my husband (I’m actually doing a muslin/test garment for this one), and I’ve traced out the Strathcona Henley for him, too.  Lest you start to think I’m abandoning my really good streak of selfish sewing, you should probably know that I LOVE henleys, so once I make him one, I plan to adapt the pattern into one for me as well.  (And how about a girl version of some fleece-lined Jutlands?  Sounds like wintry heaven to me!  I’m saving that idea for the future!)

In the top row are some shirts I’ve tried before, and I still have fabric from the summer to do additional renditions of those.  My first version of the princess seam button down on the top left (Butterick 5526) should make an appearance on the blog soon since I made it to wear to a wedding.  I already whipped up a quick Briar fleece shirt (still to be blogged) to wear for travelling to the wedding, and I need to make a broad back adjustment to the pattern for the button-down on the right (Simplicity 1538) before remaking that one.

You can see I still have bathing suits on my list, maybe some kids’ Briars, and a shirt version of the Coco pattern by Tilly and the Buttons.

AND…JEANS!  I think it’s time to start learning to sew more fitted bottoms, so jeans are on the list.  I’ll keep you posted on that!

Do you have any sewing or other project ideas for this year?  I’d love to hear about them!

My Imperfectly Awesome Briar Sweater

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This wasn’t the post I had planned to write to accompany these pictures.  This, my first attempt at Megan Nielsen’s Briar pattern, didn’t turn out exactly right.  I was going to fix it and then show you my before and after pictures.  But I didn’t fix it.  I might, but I haven’t yet, and I decided it was better to show you the shirt as it is and update you if I ever do alter it.  Because I actually love it how it is even though it didn’t turn out the way that I planned.

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

So here are the details.  I got this super-cool fabric at Pintuck & Purl in Exeter, NH a few months back.  It’s a double layer combination of a wool knit (or it may be a wool-blend; I can’t remember) and a cotton jersey layer.  It was originally smooth on both sides, but I took a small bit and threw it in the washer and dryer to see what would happen.  It shrunk, but the wool layer didn’t completely felt, and the jersey scrunched up in a cool way due to the shrinkage of the wool.

Double layer fabric from Pintuck & Purl in Exeter, NH

You can imagine that this made for a pretty stretchy fabric, and I knew I was taking a risk with it, not only because of the stretch factor, but because the shrinking had really thrown the grain off.  It just seemed like the perfect fabric for a super cozy Briar, though, so it had to happen.

The Briar pattern has been my favorite Megan Nielsen pattern since I discovered that company, and when I heard it was coming out in paper form, I bought a copy as soon as it was available.  That’s pretty rare for me.  I don’t have a ton of “sewing money”, so I tend to window shop for ever and buy very carefully.  I knew I wanted this pattern, though.

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

 I thought that a Briar in this fabric had a lot of potential for a relaxed, rough look with some exposed seams and unhemmed edges.

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

I really love knits and I sew with them pretty frequently, but despite that, I’m not really awesome with them yet.  This is a pretty well-explained, straightforward pattern, but I ran into some problems with the neckline very quickly because of my fabric and what I thought I wanted to do with it.  I didn’t stabilize the shoulders although I see now that I should have.  I also tried to simply sew a strip of fabric cut on the cross-grain around the neckline so it would have a raw-edged look.  The neckline seemed to sort of get wavy, though, and grow.  That’s when the frantic internet-answer-searching began.  I finally left a blog comment for Lauren (of the blog Lladybird) to ask about the wavy neckline, and she gave me some great tips, but it was already a little too late for this shirt.  The waviness was there (because by that time, I had taken off the strip of fabric and just zig-zagged the edge) and I was afraid to mess with it any more.  I do have to thank Lauren, though.  I don’t know her at all.  I just follow her blog, but whenever I have needed an answer (how to use Flickr for my blog photos; how to fix my knit fabric disasters), she has always gotten back to me.  Thanks, Lauren!

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

At that point, I decided to leave the neckline alone and just finish.  I thought about putting a sparkly zipper (also from Pintuck & Purl) in the back, but once I got to the point of adding it, it didn’t look right, so I skipped it.  This is a really quick and easy pattern, so I just resigned myself to wearing the sweater with a tank top underneath until I could figure out how to fix the neckline.  I bought twill tape to sew into the shoulders and around the back of the neckline after the fact to sort of hold things in place…but I haven’t done it yet……and I just love the sweater.  It’s a little chilly around the neck when it gets cold out, but that’s a great opportunity to wear the cowl my friend knitted for me (thanks, Audrey!).

All in all, even with its “imperfections”, I love this sweater.  I’ve already made a second one (still to be worn, photographed, and blogged), and this time I made sure to stabilize the shoulders.  Gotta learn the lessons, right?  I think more Briars (and mini-Briars) are in my sewing future.

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

Simplicity 1538, The Button-Down Shirt

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One of my current sewing goals is to learn to make button-down shirts.  I’ve tried drafting one before, courtesy of the instructions in Cal Patch’s pattern drafting book, but I wanted to learn how to sew one from a commercial pattern and, hopefully, fit it.

My first long-sleeved attempt is Simplicity 1538, View A, minus the studs they recommend on the front yoke.  I made a size 16 in the bust and graded out to an 18 for the waist and hips.

Simplicity 1538

Simplicity 1538

Simplicity 1538

Simplicity 1538

Simplicity 1538

Because this is my first attempt at this pattern, I found a bed sheet in my stash that I liked, and used that for fabric.  It seemed like the best way to go before trying out more costly fabric.  Interfacing came from my stash, but I think the time is soon approaching when I’ll actually have to go out and buy more of that!  The buttons (and they are buttons, rather than snaps) were a drama all their own.

These are the same buttons that I used in my orange shirt, and I had one left.  I really loved how it looked on this shirt, so I went to Joann’s to get more.

And they had one package of three buttons.

I needed 10 buttons.

So, several days later, I drove down to another Joann’s and looked through all their buttons.  I didn’t see a single package.  I was nearly ready to leave with my other supplies, when I decided that, since I had come all the way down here, I should just ask.  And I got the lady who stocks the buttons!  She explained how the buttons were organized and helped me find what I needed.  They actually had four packages that I had managed to overlook.  I know!  Sad on my part.  I only needed two packages…but I bought all four since they were on sale (and I was worried something would happen and I would need/want more).  So that’s my story.  😉

Now back to the pattern!  The fit is great, except…the shoulders are too narrow for me.  You can see the strain at the edges of the yoke and in the shoulders in the front.  The next time I make this, I’ll try out a broad back adjustment.  I’m tempted to do it on this pattern and try turning it into a popover shirt, which would mean cutting the front piece on the fold, rather than as two pieces, and inserting a partial placket down the front.  I know they are kind of sewing-blog-trendy at the moment (check out Dixie’s and Sallie’s), and I pretty much got sucked in.  Now I want one, and I keep envisioning some of my fabric in popover form.  It doesn’t hurt that Indiesew just posted a tutorial on putting in a partial placket.  Maybe it’s destiny.  😉

Simplicity 1538

Simplicity 1538

Simplicity 1538

Despite the shoulder width problem this is a very wearable shirt.  I really like it, and it fits my style.

The one change I might make to the directions is on step 47 (yes, there are A LOT of steps–I will never take a button-down shirt for granted AGAIN!).  It tells you to press under 5/8″ on the neck band facing, but I think next time I’d try just pressing under 1/2″.  When sewing from the outside, I didn’t catch hardly any of the facing in my top-stitching , and I had to go back and sew the facing down by hand.

Despite that, making this shirt was fun and I’d do it again.  It was a billion steps, but skill-wise, it was at my level, and I’m proud of my work.  The inside looks great with a few French seams and a few bound seams (similar to the orange shirt, but just a little better), and I think the topstitching turned out well, too.  Also, the way they have you do the yoke is pretty darn cool.

Simplicity 1538

Simplicity 1538

I’ve traced out a pattern for a princess seam button-down (I blame Lladybird/Lauren–she makes me want to copy her ALL THE TIME.), and I’ve been looking into the popover option.  These plans may get sidetracked by Christmas and *gasp* sewing for others, but we’ll see if that really happens.

In case you want a look at what is tempting me to sew for someone beside myself, you can check out Thread Theory’s Jutland Pants and their Strathcona Henley.  Maybe I’ll actually sew something for my husband! 

The other big temptation is the new sewing patterns for girls that Megan Nielsen just released.  I was a pattern tester for the Mini Tania Culottes.  Check out what I and others made in this post on Megan’s blog.  She also released patterns for Mini Virginia Leggings and, my favorite, the Mini Briar Sweater and Tee.  I think that Mini Briar pattern is calling to me, especially since Megan gave her testers all three patterns as a thank you.  I love a new pattern!

 

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat

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I don’t make much menswear (yet), but when I saw the exciting announcement that Thread Theory was opening an online supply shop for menswear and general sewing materials (which is now live), I got to thinking about children’s books with sewing in them.  Morgan (the owner) said that she was stocking one such book, and I suggested one of my own favorites:  Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback.

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback

In our house, we have a lot of children’s books…but they don’t all belong to my children.  Most of them do, but a few are mine and can only be used with permission.  These are books with illustrations and/or stories that I love for various reasons.  When I discovered this book, I was entranced by the super cool cutouts that led from one page to another (and also appear on the dust jacket, which I didn’t photograph).  I didn’t really sew at the time that I got it, but I made a lot of things, and I love clever and surprising art.

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback

As I thought through my books, I realized something that is BEYOND OBVIOUS to me now that I have noticed it.  This is the PERFECT book for anyone who sews and anyone who refashions or makes do (or wants to secretly indoctrinate their children in the ways of sewing and making do–you know who you are!).

The story in this book starts out with a man with an overcoat.  It gets old.  It gets worn out.  Rather than tossing it or donating it and buying a new coat, he cuts off the bottom and makes it into a jacket.  When this begins to wear, he makes it into something else.  He goes on and on reusing and changing up the garment, until…

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback

SPOILER ALERT–don’t read on unless you are ok with knowing how this book ends!!!

He loses the last little bit of it.  What will he do now?

Write a book about it!

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback

This is such a creative, inventive story, both on the level of the character in the story and on that of the author and illustrator himself.  The copy I have is a second take on his original version (which I haven’t seen), and it’s just brilliant.  I don’t know the author.  I don’t get a kickback from telling you about this.  I just think this is the best book for those who love handmade, and I think the kids in your life will love it as well.  There is even a song about the story printed in the back for extra fun.  Check it out from your library and see what you think!

The Brumby Skirt from Megan Nielsen Patterns

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Today I’m happy to share with you one of my latest projects, the Brumby Skirt from Megan Nielsen Patterns!

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

I really went back and forth on this one before starting and did lots of “research” checking out others’ versions of it around the web.  I’m still not super sure if I like the high-waisted skirt look on me, but I thought I would give it one more try before deciding for certain, especially since I won this pattern in the Refashioners contest and had the perfect fabric for it–some linen from Pintuck & Purl!

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

 I made Version 1, the shortest version, in a large.  My original thought was to make it longer.  If I’m wearing a closer-fitting skirt, like a pencil skirt, I feel ok with this length because I can feel the skirt on the back of my legs and I know I’m not exposing myself.  In a fuller skirt, though, you can’t always feel the back of the skirt, which worries me at times…

So, I planned to make it closer to knee-length.  I had, however, read Lauren/Lladybird’s post on her Brumby skirt and remembered that she said she had been underwhelmed before hemming, but loved the skirt when it was the specified length.  Well, my experience was exactly the same.

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

I made it up but didn’t hem it, and it was very blah.  So, I decided to pin it up to the length in the pattern…and that’s when it happened.  I don’t know how she did it, but Megan Nielsen put some magic in this pattern.  When you hem it, it transforms!  I love it!

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

So, here are some details and design decisions I made.  Initially I was going to put in this gorgeous silver zipper that I bought at Pintuck & Purl, but I would have had to shorten it…and it was a metal zipper.  I know it’s possible, but not having ever tried this, I didn’t think I wanted to try it for the first time on a very fancy zipper.  I also thought about topstitching in silver (I was really getting wooed by that silver thread!), but in the end, I decided on black thread and a metal zipper with black tape (that I wouldn’t have to shorten).  I realized this would make the skirt more every-day in a good way (i.e. it will get worn more).  I’ll save my fancy zipper for a future project.

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

Back view with exposed zipper

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

Front view–it’s hard to see the topstitching, but it’s there!

 Things I wondered about before starting this project had to do with ease around the waist and the depth of the pockets.  Having only made the one high-waisted skirt (the apple skirt), I wasn’t sure how things would work out if the finished measurement was the same as my actual waist measurement.  I wondered this with the apple skirt, too, so I actually added a few inches to the waistband to be safe.  With this pattern, I decided to risk it and just made it as it was printed, and it worked out great!  It’s very comfortable and not too tight at all.

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

I noticed in my travels around the web that the pockets looked deep enough that they weren’t actually supporting anyone’s hands–which is the case.  It’s like your hands are straight down at your sides…but I still love those huge pockets.  I can keep things in them and you can’t even tell!

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

I did end up doing just a little topstitching at the edges of the pockets (which was an optional suggestion) so that they wouldn’t stand out as much, and that has been great.  I also managed to catch the bottom edge of the pockets in my hem on the inside, which tacks them down nicely.

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

As far as seam finishing goes, I just zigzagged in the seam allowance and then trimmed the seam with pinking shears.  This does lead to some strings and fraying after washing, but I think that will stop soon.  This fabric is a nice, substantial bottom weight, and French seams didn’t sound like fun on this one.

This was a fun and easy pattern.  I am sort of curious about how it would look in wool–I have a few pieces that were given to me.  With these cozy fleece-lined tights, I wore this skirt four out of seven days.  Yes–I totally do that, especially if I’m not going to see the same people every day, but don’t worry–there were some laundry days in there.  😉  I think this will be a great early fall, late spring, and summer skirt.  The more I see of Megan Nielsen’s company, the more impressed I am.

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

Before I go, I want to let you know that I updated my last post with a few more pictures of the inside of the shirt I made.  Go on over and check it out if you want to see more.  🙂