So…I may have made this t-shirt last spring, and am just now blogging it.
And maybe it’s been hanging up on a hanger near my sewing machine waiting patiently to be blogged after only having been worn a handful of times. Yikes.
Now that it’s getting cooler again, I want to wear this shirt! I love those leopards! Not leopard print, but actual leopards, which I like much better.
This is the Thread Theory Woodley Tee in the women’s sizing, sewn up in 100% cotton jersey from Joann’s POP kids fabric line plus some ribbing, which I think is 100% cotton, although it may contain some spandex. I really like this new line, and find a lot of fabrics and prints I like for me, as well as prints I would use if I were making clothes for kids. Unfortunately, I don’t see these two fabrics on their site, so they may be sold out. In the past, I have felt pretty unimpressed with the fabric selection at Joann’s, but in recent years, they have started to sell more options that I really like.
The Woodley Tee is a relaxed-fit t-shirt that’s meant to be a great basic.
I was really excited to try this since my preferred t-shirt fit of late is more relaxed. I also like that you can use low-stretch knit fabric with this pattern. I made version 1, the solid color/long sleeve option.
When I looked at the finished measurements, I decided to size up one size. After sewing the shirt, I think I would always do that on the arms, as I wouldn’t want them to fit any closer. They’re just right one size up. I could go either way on the body. Probably I would size up one again, as I did here, but if I didn’t, I think it would also be fine.
As for construction, it was pretty straightforward with one addition you don’t always see in t-shirt patterns. This pattern has a shoulder binding on the inside that works to stabilize the shoulders (so you don’t have to sew in elastic or twill tape) and gives a really professional finish.
I won’t say I managed to sew it in perfectly. I found it a little tricky, but I got it well enough in the end. To be fair, I doubted the instructions since they didn’t tell you to stabilize the shoulders at the beginning, so I went ahead and did it myself with twill tape. Then I got down to the shoulder binding and realized I should have just trusted the pattern (or read all the way through before starting). Since the shoulders were already stabilized, I didn’t bother to cut my fabric on grain. I just cut it on the cross grain to save fabric and since my fabric was directional. Next time, hopefully, I’ll just do what the pattern says.
Other than that little hiccup, everything went great! I skipped the pocket, used the serger on the main seams, and zigzagged the hem. Initially I wasn’t sure how I liked the shirt, but now I’m into it.
I like the fit and the fun design on the fabric. I think I would make this again. The color blocked option is one that would be fun to try, too. It’s a great way to use up some scraps. So, if you’re looking for a relaxed-fit tee, I can highly recommend this pattern which comes, not only in women’s sizing, but also in men’s. Thread Theory always has excellent, high-quality patterns, and this one is no exception.
Let’s start with the pants! These pants, made using Simplicity 8841, are a repeat pattern for me–not something I always do. Each sewist/craftsman/artist has a way they like to dive into projects, and for me, it usually involves trying something new, often a new pattern, so I rarely circle back to previous patterns unless I really liked them and want more versions in my closet or they are just right for the fabric I want to use. I really liked the style of these pants, and I wear my first version a lot. However, I kind of overfit that version, and I thought I could do better…plus I really did want more of these in my closet!
The other thing that drove this repeat performance was some great denim I found at Joann’s. It was 100% cotton, and pink from being vegetable-dyed. The vegetable dye made me curious about how the color would hold…and I really like this shade of pink. Simplicity 8841 seemed like a good match for the denim. I got what I needed when it was on sale. Yay!
According to my measurements, I was a size 24 in this pattern. It only went up to a 22, so I did some very inexpert, cheater-style grading. I looked at the distance between the last few pattern sizes, and sized up the largest size by that amount, by just tracing around it, and trying to make things look like they would have if there had been one more size. I wanted to make View D, but with the longer length of View C. This was pretty easy to do.
Using the book, Sewing Pants that Fit from The Singer Sewing Reference Library, I added 1.5″ to the back crotch length by making a wedge adjustment for a protruding seat. This entailed cutting into my back pattern piece from the crotch seam to the hip, without cutting all the way through. I then tipped the top of the pattern up 1.5″ making the back crotch seam of the pattern longer. After doing that, you have to smooth out the hip/outseam because making that wedge creates a little divot at the side seam.
Then I lengthened the back crotch point by 1.5″ and lowered it 0.25″ to true the pattern. This can help with full thighs or a protruding seat. I have found that it works for me, whatever the reason may be. I tend to need more length in the back with Big 4 patterns. Somehow it always feels a little bit like trial and error, but I usually end up making the maximum crotch seam length adjustments on the back pattern piece and find those really comfortable.
These pants are pretty straightforward to put together with good directions.
I changed up how I inserted the elastic into the waistband a little bit, but otherwise followed the directions as written. Since these pants have no fly, and only front patch pockets, I pushed myself to finish them before meeting up with a friend who was visiting. It’s always really fun to have something new to wear for something like that, and it’s good for me to occasionally give myself artificial deadlines to speed a project on.
Once I started wearing the pants, I had a few thoughts about them. They are definitely a style I like, and they’re very comfortable. The dye in the fabric seems to be holding well, too.
I’m not sure I love how they look, even though I love how they feel. They look a little too big to me. I’m all about preserving design ease and not making the smallest size you can squeeze your body into, but maybe I could have made these a little smaller, especially since the size 22 pants that I made do still fit. The other iffy part is that the waistband doesn’t feel as strong as I want it to. The pants stay up just fine, but it feels like if I load up my pockets, things could get saggy. Yikes.
I have toyed with the idea of taking off the waistband and cutting a new one that would allow for 2″ wide elastic, like the Elizabeth Suzann Clyde Pants pattern, but I cannot tell you how much I really don’t like going back into patterns once I have finished them. I know they would be more wearable if I altered them, but the joy of alterations is not the reason I sew. The fact that they do fit and are comfortable will probably be enough for me to wear them and not bother to alter them. The good news is that the paper pattern adjustments I made were good. I don’t feel like the back of the pants are too short or tight (i.e. no wedgies or “plumber’s butt”–yay!). They feel just right.
The real kicker, though, is that while writing this, I looked back at the blog post I wrote for the first pair of pants I made, and those had the same problems! Yes, if I had carefully read my own post before starting on these, I wouldn’t have graded up, and I probably would have tapered the legs of the pants. I still would have made the flat pattern adjustments I made this time–I did remember the need for those–but I could have made an even better pair of pants if I had listened to my past self and reminded myself of all the changes that would have been helpful. Oops.
So, I guess this project is a little bit of a mixed bag, but overall good. I do recommend the pattern if you are looking for a simple pair of elastic-waist pants. These could definitely work, construction-wise, for a beginner, and they are loose enough that you wouldn’t have to think about fitting to the level you would with a pair of skinny jeans or something like that. I would potentially make these again, with some slight tweaks (after actually reading this post and my last one; haha).
News from the Fair!
And now for something unrelated, but awesome! If you read this blog regularly, you may remember that I submitted some garments to the Topsfield (Massachusetts) Fair for the first time. Well, the cardigan I knitted got a first place ribbon, and the reversible vest I sewed got both a first place ribbon and Best in Show! I was so excited!!! I knew that I had worked up to my skill level at the time and pushed myself beyond on those projects, but it’s really, really nice to occasionally have some outside validation for your work, from people who also make things.
Making clothes is my art practice. My work will probably never be in a gallery, and I don’t want to turn it into a business, so I don’t get that kind of positive professional critique on a normal basis, so it means a lot. That being said, I do very much appreciate all the cheerleading and support I get from my family and friends. That is what has really kept me going all these years.
My parents and kids were with me when I went to see all the entries, and they can tell you that I had a pretty big smile on my face. What a great experience!!!
Hello, friends! And welcome back to the blog. After taking the summer off, I’m ready to get back to writing about sewing, knitting, photography, and other fun creative endeavors. I hope you had a good last few months as well.
My “To Blog” list is pretty long, but I’m actually going to start with a more recent project. I was a tester for Megan Nielsen’s latest pattern, the Protea Capsule Wardrobe. I went through two rounds of testing as the pattern grew from a few views to the many views you see now. In order to be a tester, I signed up to her list and sent in my measurements. They cycle through their list and contact people with a good range of measurements, and then e-mail you when they have a pattern for testing to see if you are interested. You get to see the line drawings and description of the pattern as well as the deadline and what they need from you, and then you can say yes or no. This is a volunteer position, so it’s your responsibility to get your materials together for the project. You don’t have to blog the results or put it out on social media, but since I will really and truly forget the details of my projects if I don’t blog them, I wanted to share my tester versions, and hopefully give you a look at the pattern in its developmental stages.
As the pattern was released, the company offered testers the option of a free Protea Capsule Wardrobe pattern in print or PDF. I chose print, but still had to pay shipping, and I’m currently waiting for it to arrive. I don’t often test patterns since I have so many of my own projects that I want to make, and Megan Nielsen is the only company I have tested for (unless I’m forgetting…but I think that’s right). The process was a little different years ago, but I have always been impressed with the freedom and flexibility this company gives you in testing. So! Let’s get to the actual garments. Just remember…these are versions that came out before the new and shiny final pattern, so some things have changed a bit.
Test #1: Protea Blouse
Here is the first line drawing we were sent back in January. I chose to make the square-neck blouse out of a striped cotton seersucker I bought at Field’s Fabrics in Holland, MI in summer 2021.
I love the general style of this blouse and have worn it all summer long. I love that it is loose and boxy and I didn’t have to make a broad back adjustment.
When the option to test the next version of the pattern came along in May, I wasn’t quite sure that I would have the time, but I really liked the look of the tiered dress with a square neck and flutter sleeves. I found some fabric in my stash and decided that I could make it if I applied myself!
I chose to make this dress in a cotton double gauze from Joann, also from the summer of 2021. I didn’t have quite enough fabric. What I did have was a little narrower than the recommended 60″ and I only had four yards instead of the 4 3/8 I should have had, but I decided to do my best to make it work. In the end, I mostly made it. I went back and bought a few fat quarters of quilting cotton in the same pastel purple to cut my pockets out of. That fabric requirement was pretty much spot on.
I made the dress with a size 18 bust and 20 waist and hip without the drawstring. I didn’t veer too far from the directions except that I hemmed my sleeves with bias tape instead of turning the hem in twice, and gathered my skirt tiers using a zigzag over a string instead of sewing two parallel lines of stitching (a technique I picked up from another Megan Nielsen pattern). I haven’t seen the final version yet to know what choices they made for those parts of the pattern instructions.
I felt a little bit different about this dress when I finished it than I did the top. I love positive ease, and this dress has LOTS of it. It was a bit much even for me.
Unless you are looking for a completely unrestrictive dress, I like it a lot better with something pulling the waist in just a little. I tried pinning the drawstring casing on, but I wasn’t a fan.
The drawstring casing for the dress in this version of the pattern used the same pattern piece as the waistband for the skirt. It’s a clever idea that reduces the number of pattern pieces, but I don’t actually like it on the dress. It’s really wide and I didn’t like how it looked. I also didn’t like the dress without something to pull in the waist a little, so I put the finished dress to the side for a bit to think it over. In the end, what I did was to make two ties out of some single fold bias tape I had that matched my fabric.
I sewed them on to the outside, but if I were planning on adding ties from the start, I would have sewn them into the side seams at the waist.
This allows you to gather the waist in as much or as little as you like. There is a bit of fabric that gathers under the ties, but it really isn’t bulky. I tie mine just tight enough to get a little waist definition, but still loose enough not to feel restricted.
For me this takes the dress from something I didn’t like at all to something I love. It’s amazing what a little tweak can do.
Seeing the final pattern, I like it a lot. You don’t often see an indie brand bring out a capsule wardrobe-type pattern. The Big 4 do it (I’ve seen a lot from Butterick), but not always indie brands. Since indie patterns can be so expensive, this is a good value for your money, and it’s simple enough to sew and has such clear instructions that even a beginner could tackle it. You get some good mix and match options with the sleeves and necklines so that you could easily sew a lot of different-looking garments from this one pattern. I like it stylistically, as well, except for the dress drawstring. Personally, I’m really into the square neck, flutter sleeves, and tiered skirts. I don’t often return to patterns I have already made since I love trying new ones, but before summer started to wane, I was contemplating more of the square-necked tops, so I could see revisiting this one and trying out any of the views. I like them all.
Since I finished pattern testing, I have made a few other garments, and I entered both a sewing and a knitting project in the Topsfield Fair in Topsfield, MA for the first time ever, so we’ll see how that goes! I submitted my Patagonia inspired vest and my Arrowhead Cardigan which were both a lot of work and took a lot of brainpower!
Also…I found some sandals with wooden bases at the thrift store that I have started stripping down to try making into sandals I like, but it’s slow going with the other projects, and…you know…actually taking care of my family, ha ha.
I’m pretty inspired and excited about making all the things at the moment. I didn’t sew a ton over the summer, so it feels good to get back to it. And I have a million projects to bring to the blog (some from last winter/spring–yikes!), so I look forward to meeting you back here soon. Happy weekend!
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!
I entered this vest in the 2022 Topsfield Fair (in Topsfield, MA) and it won both a first place ribbon and Best in Show in the Sewing Division!
Today’s project is my last one of the summer. There is one other I have to share from the warm season, but it’s a bit more transitional, so this one is up first! This is the Lola Top from the tenth issue of Fibre Mood magazine, a sewing magazine out of Belgium.
This issue came out in 2020 with so many good summer patterns, that I had to order it. It took what felt like ages to get here, but it was worth it! It’s only this year, at the end of summer 2021 that I have gotten around to making any of these patterns.
I approached the sewing of this top with a certain level of arrogance. I don’t like arrogance in others, and I try to stamp it out in myself, but something set me off, and I admit that I started sewing this project with a little bit of arrogance. Maybe it was having to add seam allowances, some of which were one size and some another, sometimes not even a size used in American sewing (1/6″??!!). That annoyed me, so I added 5/8″ to all my seams and 1.25″ to my hems and moved on. And the sizing between the magazine and the online directions was confusing, too–EU/US/UK–you had to figure out what size you were in inches (for me, at least), and find your US size, but make sure you traced your EU size from the magazine. At that point, I made the mistake of thinking I knew better than the pattern.
In general, I like to trust the pattern. I know the designer has worked hard on their directions, and I like to go on autopilot and sew through those directions after having done the work of tracing, adjusting the flat pattern, and cutting out my fabric. Follow the steps in the pattern, and you almost always get a great garment. But that request for a 1/6″ seam allowance really threw me.
Then there were a few confusing parts in step 3, which made me doubt the directions even more. Arrogance and frustration surged ahead, until I started to question all the directions!
But then…I started to figure things out…and then I saw that the directions were good…I just wasn’t used to them yet. I did need to trust the pattern. It was, in fact, trustworthy, but I hadn’t given it a real chance. Feels like there might be a life lesson or two buried in all of this. 😉
Luckily, I managed to get rid of my pride and arrogance once I settled into sewing this pattern, and in the end, it came out great.
That’s not to say there wasn’t an issue or two. Piece number 9, the bias strip for finishing the armhole, should be an inch or two longer for my size (US 16/UK 20/EU 48 bust and US 18/UK 22/EU 50 hip). Luckily I used some silk bias tape I had made for another project, and I had extra, since I originally cut my strips to the size of piece 9, and they were too short.
Piece number 5, the center back piece, should also be 1.5″ taller to cover your bra band. I added in some decorative ribbon to bridge the gap, but if I made this again, I would lengthen that piece.
Once I got going, though, I really enjoyed making this. I was able to make most of it on a day that I unexpectedly had several hours to sew. I can’t remember the last time that happened! I put on some music and got to it! I was also really excited about this fabric. I’m sorry to say that I have often thought of Joann Fabrics as “the place fabric goes to die”. In the past, they have sometimes had great prints on poor quality cloth, but in recent years, they have started bringing in some better options. This 100% cotton seersucker gingham was from their POP! line for kids. I have found a couple of exciting fabrics (for me) in this line. I love the color and quality of this seersucker, and looking at it while sewing just made me more excited to wear it.
The pattern is a really interesting, unique design. I managed to finish this project a few days before fall officially started, when the weather was beautiful and warm without being hot. I immediately threw it in the washer to get the sewing marker out, and then ironed it and wore it as soon as I could! I love it! It feels really unique and fun, which is generally how I want my clothes to feel.
So, at the end of this pattern, I can say I did learn a sewing lesson. Trust the pattern until you find out you can’t, and approach your sewing practice with humility. I guess there is a life lesson there, because I think you should also approach life with humility. So there you go–sewing really is more than just a pleasant way to pass the time–it’s also occasionally a font of wisdom. 😉
P.S. Here are a few outtakes for you. My Mom sent us this blonde wig for fun and we clipped on some rainbow hair–it’s a makeover! Haha.
Instead of making just one for myself, I made one for me and one for a friend. Since I now have a beloved monstera plant of my own adorning my sewing space, I thought I needed a similarly cool blanket.
I looked through my stash for likely fabric candidates and came up with some good finds! For me, I chose a heavyweight golden twill, originally from Fabric Mart, that I used in this duffle bag project and, to go with it, an olive green blanket remnant given to me long before I started sewing seriously.
For my friend’s blanket, I chose a lighter weight ivory twill (also from Fabric Mart), originally destined for the aforementioned duffle bag, but not used, and a lightweight olive twill first used for these pants.
Maybe the ivory isn’t so practical if this blanket gets spread on the ground, but it looked so good with the olive twill, that I had to go for it. And it felt great to put those awesome fabrics that had been languishing in my stash to good use. I was also able to use the rest of the package of cotton batting I had gotten for those first three leaves. I just had to piece it a little on my friend’s leaf. To do that, I simply overlapped my scraps and sewed with a zigzag stitch. Then I trimmed the pieces to the sewing lines. I think I did this before cutting the leaf out so I wouldn’t accidentally make it smaller when I sewed my scraps together.
Five large leaf blankets from one full size package of batting is pretty good! In case you’re curious, this is the batting I have been using, bought on sale at Joann Fabric.
I made my blanket first. I like to layer my fabrics just as I want to sew them (two main fabrics right sides together and the batting on top or underneath) and then cut out everything at once. This can be a little tricky if you have barely enough fabric, so it’s best to go slow and double check yourself. It was definitely harder to maneuver the thicker fabrics I chose than it is to sew these blankets in thinner fabrics, but I tried to be patient and I got the job done. There were a few points where I didn’t have my layers quite perfect and I think I sewed a bit too close to the edge and got some fraying when I turned the blanket to the right side, but I can live with that.
I think this blanket shape is slightly harder to sew than the other three I have done, although it’s still definitely something you can do, even if you don’t have much experience–just don’t rush it, and make sure you follow the directions on clipping your seams and whatnot. The instructions that come with this collection are excellent.
The second blanket (olive and ivory) with thinner fabric was much easier to manipulate, and since I was back in the groove, it went faster.
This is one of those addictive projects where you tell yourself you’ll do just one step more, and then one more, and one more until you find you are finished. It’s so hard to stop once you start! And there’s no fitting, unlike clothing! 😀 I was not as careful with clipping my internal curves on this blanket, so I got a few puckers when I turned it out to the right side, but oh well.
Lesson learned for next time (hopefully, haha).
On both blankets, I drew my quilting lines freehand with chalk by looking at the pattern. That has worked well for me–it’s nice to know the drawing classes I took in college are being put to good use. 😉 Once the blankets have been quilted, I throw them in the wash to remove the chalk marks, and they are done! No matter what little areas I feel I haven’t done quite right, when these blankets come out of the wash, they always look so great! And these monsteras were no exception. I LOVE how they turned out! The shape is so cool and the quilting looks amazing and really brings the blankets to life. I am SO happy with them.
So, what do you use one of these blankets for if you, like me, want to make one but are not child size yourself? Since I usually sleep with a fan on, I have used mine to cover my shoulders as that is a part of me that gets cold sometimes; plus, the blanket looks awesome on our bed. I suspect my friend may occasionally use hers to sit on outside as she is a huge nature-lover and spends lots of time outdoors. I noticed that this shape, without batting, would make a pretty cool tablecloth, although it doesn’t fully cover our table, so it would be more decorative. These also make nice baby blankets, floor coverings, and towel substitutes (for sitting on rather than drying off, although I guess your fabric choice would dictate that).
Even though there is a part of me that also wants to make the Paw Paw leaf and the Lily Pad blanket so I can say I’ve made them all in at least one size, I did get the North American Leaf Blanket Collection (both child and doll sizes) for Christmas, so it’s more likely that I’ll make one of those into a baby blanket for a friend. That Maple Leaf blanket would be perfect. And someday I’d like to make some of the doll size blankets for home decor or gifts. I’m so glad I tried this pattern. I can’t say enough good things about it–it’s just so much fun. I hope you try it if you are looking for something like this.
Welcome back for another summer clothing post! During fall! Yep, I’m behind on posting, and if I don’t post everything, there’s a real chance I will forget what I made. Crazy, I know, but the struggle is real. 🙂
So here’s a quick project that could work in many seasons depending on the fabric you choose. McCall’s 8066 (aka “Posie”) is a simple skirt, with several variations, with and without tiers.
I made View B. Like the other views, it has a flat front and an elastic back. There are no pockets, but I added some in the side seams.
My skirt is made of black cotton double gauze from Joann Fabrics. They had this double gauze in several nice colors as well as a few stripes this summer, and I bought it in more than one shade. It washes up really nice and soft. I love it! Joann’s website calls it bubble gauze, although it’s different than bubble gauze I’ve bought elsewhere. This is a double layer of gauze, whereas the bubble gauze I bought before was a single layer. I don’t have enough experience with bubble gauze to tell you which is the norm.
This skirt should be a quick sew, but I got a little paranoid when my measurements for hip and waist put me in two different sizes. I measured an XL at the waist and an XXL at the hip. With the style of this pattern, I would have been fine making the XL, but instead, I cut an XXL for waist and hip because I was worried that the XL wouldn’t fit over my hips to take the skirt on and off. Well, as you can probably imagine, the skirt was too large on me. So, I spent some time taking it partially apart at the side seams and taking in the front and back waistband, always making sure the back waistband would stretch enough to go over my hips. I cut it down as much as I dared, but it still looks a bit bulky to me. Oh, well! I’m only willing to mess with a project so much before I want to move on.
I borrowed a pocket pattern piece from another pattern and added inseam pockets. Because of my alterations, they are back a bit far on my hips, but not too bad.
Since I made this toward the end of summer, I haven’t worn it a lot, so I’m reserving final judgement for next year when I have some distance from the project and more chances to wear it.
My first impressions, though, are that this is a good, simple pattern, with great possibilities. Don’t let my mistakes keep you from adding McCall’s 8066 to your pattern library (yes, that is how I think of my pattern stash–it’s a pattern library). Could you draft this yourself? Yes. It’s a lot of rectangles, but one thing I like about commercial patterns is that someone did the work for me. 🙂 This is a great pattern for a beginner or someone who has been sewing longer and wants a quick project. Wouldn’t view D would be amazing in a few layers of silk/cotton voile?
I have a fun dress to share with you today! This dress is all about volume, which makes it a joy to wear. Today’s pattern is McCall’s 7948, View D, a very popular style that is showing up in lots of stores and sewing patterns.
I bought this pattern last year with the thought of making it in eyelet, just like the cover photo, but with a fun colored slip underneath.
I made a few slips, and then finally made the dress. This was supposed to be my Easter dress, but time got away from me, (or I just plan more sewing projects than I can actually sew), and this didn’t get started until May. Part of what held me up was trying to decide what trim to use on the dress, but in the end (and after looking at examples online), I decided to go trim-less and just make the dress in green.
I traced a straight size 20, and just barely eked it out with the yardage I had. This green cotton eyelet was from last spring at Joann’s, and I got it on sale this year when it was almost gone. I managed to find 1 2/3 yards in one store and another piece that was three inches short of two yards in a different store. The fabric is 50/51″ wide, but 8-9″ of that is plain green cotton without the eyelet embroidery on the edges. I had to do a bit of pattern Tetris to get it all figured out, but it worked in the end. I had wanted to include pockets, but I realized that you would probably be able to see them through the eyelet, and I didn’t have enough fabric anyway, so I left them off.
One really nice thing about the style of this dress is that I didn’t have to do too many adjustments–no grading between sizes, no broad back adjustment. All I did was to add some width at the top of the sleeves and lower the front neckline by 1/2″ based on Martha’s review on the Buried Diamond blog. I used The Perfect Fit, my favorite basic fitting book for directions for these things. It said not to lower the neckline beyond 1/2″ in this size because it would affect other aspects of the pattern, but the one thing I would consider doing if I make this again is to see if I could lower the neckline a bit more. It’s mostly fine when standing and walking around, but the dress does slide a bit toward the back occasionally and it can sometimes be a problem when sitting. My husband’s idea was to weight the front hem. What do you think? What would you do?
That very minor adjustment and issue aside, I LOVE how this dress feels to wear. It’s my ideal summer dress as far as feel–loose, flowy, breezy thanks to the eyelet, perfectly comfortable. The slip worked out great–I didn’t even notice it, which is the goal (no one wants an uncomfortable slip). I couldn’t see its color as much as I would have liked, but that is due to the very small holes in this eyelet. You can see it at the points where the dress touches your body, but not much more. Regardless, it provides the opacity I wanted when the light shines through the dress. Now here is a weird conundrum–do you make your clothes to feel good or look “flattering” (whatever your definition of that word is)? I don’t think this dress makes me look like any ideal vision I might have of myself, but other than that, it feels great, covers me in all the areas I want covered, and brings me joy…but I don’t think it makes me look amazing. When you can’t always have both, which do you choose? In general, I come down on the side of comfort and feel, but I admit that it is sometimes a mental struggle for me. I could make uncomfortable clothes that I think look good on me, or I can make comfortable clothes that may or may not look good, but that feel good. Comfort wins for me, but if I’m honest, I really want both in most cases.
The other thing I changed on this dress was the facings. I did manage to cut them out, but realized that the interfacing I was supposed to use was going to show through, and I didn’t have any fabric I could use as sew-in interfacing that was close to this color. In the end, I decided to finish the neckline and back slit with bias tape, because I had a lot of it that was close to this color. It took a bit of thinking, but I managed to figure out how to do the back slit, and I’m pretty happy with the result and definitely happy not to have used facings or interfacing that would show through around the neckline and back.
I used some single fold bias to finish the hems of the sleeves and skirt and a pretty vintage button on the back of the dress.
As far as finishing my seams, my machine did not love zigzagging on this fabric, so I sewed a straight stitch in each seam allowance and then pinked the seam allowances. The dress is in the wash now, so we’ll see if there is much fraying or not. Even if there is, the straight stitch in the seam allowance will stop it. I’m not really worried.
When gathering the skirt and arm ruffles, I used a technique I learned from Megan Nielsen, where you do a large zigzag over a piece of string in your seam allowance. I used baker’s twine. (You know that cute red and white twine they use to tie up boxes in bakeries? Lots of people use it for crafts as well.) Once you have gone all the way around, you cinch up the fabric using the string, pin it in place, pull out the string and go on with your sewing. It’s a lot faster and easier on a fabric like this with ruffles this big than it is to sew two rows of basting stitches and gather them.
This was a fun dress to sew and not too difficult. If you can get this pattern on sale, it’s a great deal for a pattern that is very on trend and VERY fun to wear. I wore this on a walk in the woods with my family and while I’m sure that other people we saw thought I was crazy for wearing a dress on the trails, I felt awesome in it.
It’s turned cold here, and I’m hurriedly trying to finish the projects I cut out while it was still warmish. I just finished the pants in today’s post and a top. Next up is a jacket.
What do I say about these pants? I’m not really sure. I can’t decide if I like them or if they are a big fail. I think the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. The pattern is good, but the alterations I made to it may not have been.
For this project, I decided to try using my measurements to alter the flat pattern before cutting out my pants. I have a few Big 4 pant or short patterns that I have made multiples of, and each time, I tweak them just a little bit more to get closer and closer to what I want. I was hoping to skip right to the “what I want” part of things by doing it this way. If I could just figure out the right shape, I could use it on all future pairs of pants. Well…I may have adjusted a bit too fiercely.
Pattern and Fabric
My pattern is Simplicity 8841, View C, but with the patch pockets and no belt or belt loops.
I chose to make it in a cotton twill fabric that is probably on the light side of midweight from Joann Fabrics. This pattern is one for pull on pants, and View C is supposed to be the longer length and have a slim leg. My measurements put me at a 20 waist and right between a 20 and 22 for my hip. Since this was a pull on pant (i.e. elastic waist, no zipper or buttons), I got nervous about the hip being too small, and I wanted the pants to be comfortable when I sat, so I made a straight 22.
Flat Pattern Alterations
I used the book Sewing Pants That Fit from the Singer Sewing Reference Library. I like these books a lot. The pictures and illustrations are very clear and easy to understand, plus you can easily find these books used for a low price online or in thrift stores.
I measured myself, which is something books always recommend that you do with a sewing buddy if possible, because it’s hard to measure yourself. Perhaps to my detriment, I tried on my own anyway, taking into account the fact that the pants are supposed to sit an inch below the natural waist.
It seemed like I was going to need more crotch length, with most of that length in the back.
On the front pattern piece I added a small wedge and a little at the thigh to get the right length.
On the back, I added a wedge and length to the back crotch point.
My first thoughts when I tried these on was that they felt great, but looked bad. All that extra fabric is super comfortable, but some of it had to go!
Fitting Changes After Initial Construction
First up, choosing to make a 22 instead of a 20 was overkill. I should have made the straight 20. The 22 was definitely too big, even for someone like me who likes a lot of ease. In the end, I shaved off 1/8″ from the crotch seam and inseams, and 1/4″ off both side seams, and the pants are still a bit too big.
After that, I took 1″ off the top of the pants, and then 1.75″ more off the front, tapering to nothing at the side seams, because they were just too high-waisted for what they were supposed to be.
I think I should go back into my flat pattern and remove the wedge adjustment I made to the front. I was trying to add length however I could, but that wedge adjustment is actually used for a full abdomen, and although my stomach is fuller than it used to be, this doesn’t seem to be the correct adjustment for me. Even after what I shaved off, it is still too baggy in the front.
I’d also really like my pants to feel slightly higher in the back than the front. I don’t know if I’m the only one on that, but it just feels more comfortable to me.
Rather than achieving my goal of skipping right to the end of fitting, I think I made more problems. I think I’ve learned a few things: I shouldn’t do a wedge adjustment in the front, I SHOULD do a wedge adjustment in the back, and adding length at the back crotch point was probably a good idea (not sure if the front crotch point length was helpful or harmful). Maybe I should have traced off the crotch curves from the Ginger or Morgan jeans, both from Closet Case Patterns. Those patterns fit me pretty well from the beginning. Maybe the lesson here is to be a bit more patient with the fitting process and to just keep trying.
After all the tweaks I did, I still felt the pants were shorter than I wanted and wider at the bottom. They don’t look tapered to me. However, I think I’m done for now. These just aren’t warm enough for the cold weather. I think they’ll have to wait until spring to get more wear. I can always do more evaluation then.
Hm…Well, this was an experiment. I thought about calling this post, “A Lot of Dorky Pictures and some Weird, Weird Pants”, but that got pushed out by a more practical title. Picture-taking is hard and I had a lot of pretty crazy facial expressions that you’ll have to take my word on. 😀
I will tell you that the jury is still out on these pants…I just can’t decide how I feel about them.
Despite the fact that I could have made these out of a drapey denim-like chambray living in my stash, I decided to take a chance on something much less practical–crushed stretch velvet. Because, why not? I saw the velvet at Joann Fabrics, it was close to Christmas, and I knew I could whip these up pretty quickly if I could find a bit of time. And then I would have fancy pants for Christmas Eve! I always want to make something fun for church on Christmas Eve, but I rarely do.
So I bought the velvet (well, technically it’s Stretch Panne Velour Knit Fabric). It’s a polyester/spandex blend: 90%/10%. I loved the color and in the winter I’m all about fun textures.
I finally managed to find a bit of time and I whipped these up. I’m not the fastest sewist, but when you don’t have to finish any seams (and since this is a knit, you don’t), sewing goes a lot more quickly. It also helps when you’ve made the pattern in some form before.
I made one mistake and one change. My mistake was in not being careful when lining up the front and back waistband. The side seam edges need to match up so that when you fold the waistband in half to baste the bottom edges together, they will match up easily. I tried to fudge this, but then I paid for it going forward. The one small change I made was to use 1 3/8″ wide elastic in the back waistband instead of two lengths of 3/4″ elastic and two casings. I don’t remember why I did this–probably it was based on what I had on hand, but it turned out ok.
When I finished these, I just wasn’t sure what to think. They are so comfortable, although the smooth wrong side of the fabric is a little on the colder side. Luckily, these pants are pretty roomy, so you can definitely fit some long underwear underneath if necessary.
I finished them before Christmas Eve, so I threw them on with a sweater and blazer for church, but I definitely felt like the ’80’s called and wanted their clothes back. I didn’t want to make a snap decision, though, so I wore them again with a different top and it was better, but still not quite there. I really love the soft texture and the color, though, so I’m going to reserve judgement and keep trying these pants. If I finally decide I don’t love them, they will make some pretty great lounge pants. The pattern itself is definitely worth trying again in another fabric–a midweight Tencel twill would be great, actually! The flat front waistband with elastic back, the big pockets, and the relaxed fit are real winners.
No matter what I end up deciding, I’m really glad I tried making these fun, weird pants.