Tag Archives: knit fabric

Bathing Suit Finished!

Standard

It happened!  I finished my bathing suit and…I think it works!

Bathing Suit Finished!

When we last met here, I had finished the bottom, but not the top.  During this week, I worked on joining up all the pieces and adding elastic to the neckhole and armholes.  That last bit wasn’t a part of the pattern, but I really like the look it provides, and I was hoping to solve a few problems with it.

Bathing Suit Finished!

There was a small part on the front neckline where I didn’t catch my outer fabric very well when I was sewing all the layers together.  There was no invisible way (that I could think of) to fix that.  Even using clear thread, it would have been visible.

I also wanted to stabilize those openings and give them more support so that they would be stronger and hopefully not gape when wet.

Finally, I was hoping the edging would magically tighten and take in the little bit of excess under the arms.  So…that didn’t happen (which I expected, but you always hope for that happy accident!), but I’m more optimistic about the other things.

When I began to apply the elastic, I realized it was a make-or-break moment.  The suit would either be much better for the addition or it would be ruined.  I bet on the side of better and went for it.

It worked!

Bathing Suit Finished!

Bathing Suit Finished!

After letting go of my perfectionism, I ended up with a swimsuit that isn’t perfect, but is actually finished and is, I think, a wearable first draft.  I’ve tested it briefly.  Now to see how it does over a whole day at the beach.

If you happen to be working on your own bathing suit and want to try applying elastic like I did, check out this tutorial on the Kadiddlehopper blog.  I used the advice here on both the stitched and turned elastic for my leg holes as well as the bound edges in the top.  I actually have this blog post printed out and saved in a binder so I don’t lose it!

As for the few other details on this suit, here they are:  I fully lined both the front and back of the top and bottom.  I also used powermesh from the Imagine Gnats shop as the lining fabric in the built-in bra of the top.  I have nothing but good to say about buying from there–super fast shipping and great service.  All my elastic was 3/8″ swimwear elastic, and I used wooly nylon thread in my bobbin, with 100% polyester Güttermann thread in the top.  I used a walking foot, plus a stretch needle and Jalie’s method (found in the pattern) of sewing a long zigzag stitch first (width: 4.5, length: 0.5) and then going back and doing a straight stitch while stretching the fabric slightly (length: 2.5) at the actual seamline.  For pattern and fabric details, see my first post on this swimsuit.  If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Bathing Suit Finished!

Bathing Suit Finished!

Thanks to everyone who encouraged me!  It means so much, and it really helped me finish well.  My neighbor’s mom, who I just love and who is an amazing seamstress herself, is now convinced that I can sew anything.  Little by little, right?

Here’s some fun for your weekend.

Recommendations:

  • I have really been loving the Instagram feed of @suzyquilts.  There is something about her bright and beautiful pictures and her patterns…and I don’t even quilt!  (Well, I do have a quilt that’s been in-progress since 2008, but I’m talking quilting as a regular practice.)  I love the stripes she uses in her Kris Kross quilt.  Tempting…  You can also find her website here.
  • If you like the crop top look, but not the idea of baring your midriff, Allie J. will show you how to “make your own (fake) crop top” in this tutorial.
  • We like thinking games in our house, and one of the games we play on the iPad is Monument Valley.  They bill it as “an illusory adventure of impossible architecture and forgiveness”.  It feels a little bit like trying to figure out an M.C. Escher visual puzzle with calming, completely non-scary background music.  Good for any age.
  • Explore.org has links to lots of wildlife cameras.  It’s pretty cool that you can see African wildlife, ospreys in Maine, or pandas in China any time you want.
Advertisements

A Quartet of Briar Tops

Standard

And here’s the last of my unselfish sewing…EVER.  Ok, just kidding.  At least for now.  I made myself another Briar top (by Megan Nielsen patterns) as well as two Mini Briars and one mash-up of an adult Briar and a kids’ Briar.

Megan Nielsen Briar and Mini Briar Tees

Megan Nielsen Briar and Mini Briar Tees

This is now my third Briar (number one in a double-layer knit is here and number two in Polartec is here), but it’s my first time making a Mini Briar.  I received all three of Megan’s children’s patterns as a thank you for being a pattern tester for the Mini Tania culottes (which are super-cute, by the way).  The children’s Briar is similar to the adult version, although not identical.  It came together very easily.  One thing I love about Megan Nielsen patterns is their visual clarity.  When I first started sewing garments, I was always intimidated by the busy and complicated look of the standard patterns you find in chain fabric stores.  Megan’s patterns are completely opposite to that.  They have a clean look to them that makes you feel confident you will be able to understand them.  Actually, I think that is the case with a lot of the independent pattern companies, which is a big plus.

Megan Nielsen Briar and Mini Briar Tees

It is a great advantage to have the same pattern in a kids’ version and an adult version when you are sewing for someone who doesn’t quite fit in either range, but is somewhere in the middle.  This was the case with the aqua and pink shirt.  It was great to be able to pull both patterns out, compare sizes and make a custom pattern from the two of them.  It was a bit of a head-scratcher at times, trying to figure it all out and make the best-fitting pattern possible, but all the problem-solving is one of the things I really like about sewing, so I enjoyed the challenge.

Megan Nielsen Briar and Mini Briar Tees

Megan Nielsen Briar and Mini Briar Tees

I ordered all of the deer fabric from Girl Charlee.  It’s a poly/cotton blend, so we’ll see how it wears over the long run.  The fabric for the short-sleeved Mini Briar is left over from a long ago project and is from Jo-Ann’s.

Sewing all these up reminded me that while I really love sewing knits because they are so forgiving, I still have a lot to learn.  I’m getting better at choosing stitches that work well, but I still get wavy collars that don’t sit right.  Part of the problem is that, in most cases, I’m not quite sure what I’m doing wrong.  In the aqua and pink shirt, I raised the neckline, but still used the original pattern piece for the neckband, which I should have shortened.  Lesson learned.  As for the other ones, they are pretty close, but not quite right.  Ironing helped, but I think I still need more practice.  Oh, well!

Overall, these are great shirts and they have been getting lots of wear.  It’s nice to see my t-shirt collection slowly getting more interesting and colorful, and it was fun to try out a kids’ pattern.  I think the recipients of the kids’ shirts were happy, too.  🙂

Megan Nielsen Briar Tee

Megan Nielsen Briar Tee

Megan Nielsen Briar Tee

Megan Nielsen Briar Tee

Recommendations

Here’s some fun stuff to check out over the weekend.

  • You have to see this dirndl on the Draped in Cloudlets blog.  I’m so impressed by the fit, subtle details, and sheer amount of work that must have gone into this!  The results are so beautiful, and really inspiring.  I think I may need a reason to sew a dirndl…
  • I’ve been listening to a lot of the folk/bluegrass music of Sarah Jarosz lately.  I don’t have a broad knowledge of music, but when I find someone I like, I tend to play their music to death.
  • I always figured that the one everyday clothing item I couldn’t make was shoes.  Then I saw these ballet flats that Jodie of Scared Stitchless made.  I’m happy to be proven wrong.  These are amazing.
  • Here’s another cool music video for you this week:  Wintergatan–Marble Machine.  The music is made by marbles being run through a machine by the artist.  Fascinating and lovely.

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

Standard

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!

Take Two: Megan Nielsen Briar T-Shirt

Standard

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.

My Imperfectly Awesome Briar Sweater

Standard

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

This is a Test. This is Only a Test. Butterick 6132

Standard

And now, back to what is becoming our regularly scheduled programming–sewing.  This blog certainly didn’t start out as a sewing blog, but it seems to be heading in that direction, something I both love (because I love sewing), and am a little bit surprised at (because I love SO MANY THINGS).  But, I’ll go with the sewing for a little bit.  I do have some non-sewing ideas, but I’m still working on the huge batch of projects I set myself to toward the end of summer, so all the other stuff will have to wait.  Believe it or not, I’m making my first piñata right now, but that will most likely never make it onto the blog.

What I do have is a little bit of a backlog of sewing projects to show you.  You may or may not remember that in August I made myself a huge list of projects, narrowed down alittle, then traced all my patterns, cut out all my fabric, and began to sew.  Then, after getting a bunch done, I put everything on hold to do the Refahioners 2015 contest and my first ever pattern testing for Megan Nielsen (keep your eye on her site–she has a really cute girl’s pattern coming out soon).  One of my goals within the batch sewing that I was doing was to make wearable muslins so that I could determine if I liked the patterns I was trying and if any fitting was needed.  I’ve had a few good makes (the Coco dress from Tilly and the Buttons and McCall’s 6848 shorts) and a not-so-favorite (the Hemlock Tee from Grainline Studio).  Today’s pattern, Butterick 6132 was another win.

IMG_9136

IMG_9137

I made View B.  I was inspired (like so many others) by some of Boden’s color-blocked t-shirts, and I had in mind to make this out of some Riley Blake stripe and polka dot fabric that I had seen at fabric.com.  While I had originally traced a size 14 for the bust and blended out to the size 16 at the waist and hips, in the end I took it back to a straight 14.  The 16 gave me little “wings” at the sides, but the straight 14 was great.

Now, before I show you, remember, this is a wearable muslin.  What I mean by that is, that these are not my normal color pairings.  When I finished this shirt, though, I did text my Mom and sister a picture with the caption, “The ’90’s are BACK!”  I’ve probably been watching too much Saved By the Bell lately.  Really, though…those styles are what we are all wearing again, just tweaked a little.  Everything old is new again…

Butterick 6132 (test version)

When I showed some of my friends, I noticed they were a little quiet…until I told them this was just a test.  I actually don’t love these colors together, but I was working with the leftover knit sheets I had in my stock.  I also experimented with adding the painted dots on the teal section.  Here is the shirt before dots:

Butterick 6132 (test version)

It was a little boring for me, so I took some inexpensive white acrylic paint and added some textile medium.  I used the eraser end of a pencil and dipped it in the paint and dabbed it on.  Then I followed the directions on the bottle of textile medium for how to make it permanent.

Butterick 6132 (test version)

I’m happy with the change.  It was quick and easy, which I like.  The hardest part was letting it sit for a week or so in order for the paint to cure before I heat set it.

Butterick 6132 (test version)

Butterick 6132 (test version)

Butterick 6132 (test version)

So, the final analysis:  I would make this again.  This one gets to stay in the Pile o’ Possibility!

 

Grainline Studio’s Hemlock Tee

Standard

I was on the quest for just the right shirt pattern to use my reversible striped knit on, and I got sucked in by the hype.  I had to try the free Hemlock Tee pattern by Grainline Studio.

IMG_9130

Unlike most sewists in blog-land, this is my first Grainline pattern.  I’ve been tempted, but I haven’t taken the plunge, so this seemed like a good first try.

IMG_9077

My overall feeling:  It’s not my favorite.

That being said, I’m sure it will get plenty of wear–it’s comfortable and will make a great addition to the lounge part of my wardrobe.  It was also a quick and easy make.  As far as style goes, it’s on trend with all the drop-shoulder and boxy cut business that is coming back in, but it’s not really doing anything for me.  The sleeves are also a bit awkward in that they are too long to be three-quarter length, but too short to be long.  There are lengthening lines, so you can make the length what you want, but at present, I’m not planning to make this again, with the possible exception of a sleeveless version like this one from Cut Cut Sew.

IMG_9081

IMG_9058

IMG_9061

I do realize, however, that clothing trends have a way of working themselves into your brain so that what you at first dislike eventually becomes what you are wearing.  We’re all sheep (or lemmings?).  Maybe Grainline is just so far out ahead of me that in a year or two, I’ll circle back and start churning these out.  It’s very possible.  That’s what happened with me and Birkenstocks “back in the day” (I guess Birkenstock has had numerous “days”, but you get the point…), so you never know.  Until then, though, I’m going to file this one away.

IMG_9069

And…in case you want fabric details, I made this from a neon knit sheet from the thrift store as well as white and silver scrap fabric from my racerback tank (a polyester knit originally from Joann’s, shown here in a different colorway) and yet another knit sheet from the thrift store, featured in this dress.  I was pretty psyched to find that neon sheet for test fabric.  You will be seeing more of it.  More test garments to come!  😉

 

Batch Sewing and a Coco Dress

Standard

After returning from Michigan a month or so ago, I was anxious to start sewing again.  I came back with lots of good fabric from my travels and, since I’m trying to up my sewing game, I decided to try out a different method for getting ready to use that fabric.  Normally I have one or two or even three projects that I’m working on at the same time, but this time, I decided to move several projects through the pipeline together so that I could test out some patterns in preparation for using my “nice” fabric.

I made a big list of all the projects I wanted and needed to do in the near future, and then wrote down the steps I needed to take.  Once I taped those up on my wall and determined which projects could happen now and which would have to wait a bit, I decided to prep all my patterns.  For me, this means tracing out my size and cutting out my traced pattern.  I usually fall into one size at the bust, and a larger size at the waist and hips, so tracing also tends to mean blending two different sizes for tops.  I also want to begin to understand how to fit pants, so I did some research and took a guess at what was needed to make my McCall’s 6848 shorts pattern fit better, and I added those modifications to my already traced pattern.

Once all the tracing, blending, and changing was done on the paper patterns, I cut all my garments out.  I decided to test these patterns out with wearable muslins before making up the winners in my final fabric.  It’s hard for me to take the time to make a muslin, but if I tell myself it’s a wearable muslin, it helps.  Even if I hate the pattern and end up giving the muslin away, it helps somehow.

Then it was on to sewing!  Figuring out what to sew first really showed me:  I love sewing with knits.   Sewing knits is my “low-hanging fruit”–the type of sewing that feels easy and fast.  There’s no seam finishing, no real fitting.  The fabric is forgiving (at least the t-shirt type knits and stable jerseys I was using).  I never understood when I first started sewing why people would make t-shirts when they could buy them so cheaply, but now I get it.  Aside from the allure of making something unique, it’s a quick win that keeps you excited and the other projects moving forward.  That’s why my first three makes from the list were two t-shirts and a knit dress.

After all that wordy build-up, maybe you’d like to see my finished Coco dress!

IMG_9012

I won this pattern during Me Made May ’15 by entering a contest on the blog ‘So, Zo…What do you know?’  The prize was a pattern of your choice by Tilly and the Buttons, and a really cool tote bag with the words “DIY Dressmaker” on it.  I feel cool every time I carry it.  🙂

IMG_9131

IMG_9133

 

I tried out the dress version because…well…because I bought some fabric I would never have bought if I’d had the patience to order a swatch, and I want to use it up while also testing out this pattern.  I thought I had a good idea of what “ponte” fabric was like, so when I saw this go on sale, I ordered it with visions of cool stretchy pants in my mind.  When I got it, it was…polyester-y.  I do not love “polyester-y”.  It was my fault, though.  The site made no misrepresentations as to what the fabric was.  That taught me to be more patient and order a swatch!

When I bought my cool, reversible striped fabric at Haberman Fabric last month, I thought the t-shirt version of this pattern might be a good match for it.  So, I made the dress version thinking I would get a feel for how the pattern fit in the bust and waist section, and I could use up this fabric on a ’60’s style dress that would be a good fit for the mod-looking fabric.

IMG_9005

IMG_9030

IMG_9033

This was a great pattern to work with.  It was easy to put together, and I really like the finished product.  I think the best compliment I got was when someone mistook it for a vintage dress, partly because of the fabric!  Really, though, that compliment belongs to Tilly.  This dress has such a great ’60’s look (well, my idea of the ’60’s anyway–feel free to correct me if you lived it).  It has the wide roll collar and cute cuffs as well as that A-line shift dress thing going on.  I also like where the shoulder seams hit my shoulders.  It’s the perfect spot for me.  It’s very comfortable to wear (partly due to the softness of the fabric, actually).  This pattern did make me realize that I like my A-line dresses and skirts a little longer, despite the fact that a pencil skirt feels comfortable to me at this length.  I think it’s because with an A-line, I can’t always feel the back of the dress or skirt against my legs, and it makes me worry that things are getting exposed back there!

IMG_9021

Here’s what happens when a bee decides he wants to hang out with you while you are shooting pictures.  Or this is how I think people danced in the ’60’s.  You pick.  😉

So, the Coco dress is a win.  Thanks, Tilly!  (Can I just say that she is really nice, too?  I wrote to thank her for the pattern and she wrote back and was so sweet.  You gained a fan, Tilly!)  Her site is great for beginner and more advanced sewists.  She has clear pictures and instructions, a book, etc., etc.  You should check it out if you haven’t already.  The Coco goes back into the pile to be made in other editions.  It’s definitely a contender for the reversible striped fabric I mentioned!

Lastly, a little technical note.  I’m going to start posting my pictures to Flickr instead of keeping them stored in my WordPress media library (I ran out of room and didn’t want to pay for more!).  If you find that a picture is not showing up, please leave me a comment and let me know (there should be seven pictures in this post).  This is new for me and I think I have it figured out, but we’ll see if I’m right or not.  Hopefully I’ve got it because figuring all this out is eating up my sewing time!!!

That’s all for now!  See you next week!

 

A Perfected Knit Racerback Tank: McCall’s 6848

Standard

Here’s a project I’ve been waiting to share with you for over a month!!  I had debated blogging on the go last month, but decided against it.  So today’s make has had a lot of real-world testing since I finished it.

Long-time readers of this blog will remember my several versions of McCall’s 6848.  I’ve made the shorts, several racerback tanks in knits (#1 and #2), and the non-tank top.  Here is yet one more knit racerback tank, this time tweaked out in a way that I can easily reproduce.

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabric

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabric

In my last version of this top, which you can see below, I realized that in order for this pattern, which is drafted for woven fabric, to work for knits, I needed to do a little tweaking.

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabric

When I made the latest version of this top, I decided to take the tweaks from the above gray (or grey?) top and add them to my pattern in such a way that I could use them again.  Here are my pattern pieces:

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabric If you look, you can sort of see some triangles folded under at the bottom of the arm and the top of the shoulder.  Look below to see them from the back side:

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabric

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabric

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabricNow I can use the pattern pieces for knits or wovens depending on if I fold those little triangles down or not.  The sizes of the triangles are the same as the wedges I took out of the shirt in the post on the gray exercise top I showed you above.  The fit is terrific and, since this is a supposed to be a pajama pattern, there is the added benefit of being able to have the comfort of PJ’s in your everyday wear.  You know I like that!  I think I wore this outfit more than any other when I was in Michigan last month.

I got the fabric at Joann’s.  I think it is a polyester.  (You can see a fabric with a similar design but in a different colorway here.  Looks like it’s a poly/rayon, so maybe that’s what mine is, too.)  I’d had my eye on it for awhile because of the subtle print, but I was a little nervous because the last time I bought a polyester knit there (the fabric in these leggings), it pilled pretty badly after awhile.  So, we’ll see if that happens.  Also, the fabric is fairly transparent, so I lined it with some old, old white knit sheets I had around (also used as part of the lining in this dress).

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabric

And, in a stroke of brilliancy, I put the seams on the inside so it could be reversible!  I haven’t actually worn it with the white side out, but I could if I wanted to.  🙂

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabric

Front: cream and silver side out

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabric

Back: cream and silver side out

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabric

Front:  white side out

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabric

Back: white side out

I almost never line things, so I was pretty proud of myself.  I may or may not have sewn the armholes together before turning it right side out and, again, may or may not have had to rip those suckers out so I could turn everything right side out, but regardless of what might have happened, it got sorted out in the end.  The lining hangs a bit below the cream side, but I decided I’m cool with that.  I even made myself a little braided bracelet out of the scraps of sheet that I had lying around.

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabric

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabric

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabric

I didn’t get any compliments (or even comments) on this, maybe because it looked stupid to people.  I thought it was pretty cool, though, and it made me feel like I was enviro-saintly (yes, I just made that up–take note OED!) for using some scraps even thought I threw much bigger scraps away, but don’t think about that.  Anyway, if you want to be cool like me (enviro-saintly, even), just take three strips of jersey from any old t-shirt or some knit sheets, stretch them out, braid them up, and tie some knots on either end.  Then, knot them together and wear your bracelet like you paid an obscene amount for it at a cool store.  In fact, if you make one, leave a link in the comments so I can see it!  I’d like to see people put this with a festival look or just some kind of more-is-more thing and layer it up!

 

 

City Mouse, Country Mouse: The Country

Standard

After visiting friends and family near Detroit last month, we went and did the same on the other side of Michigan.  The area we stayed in was completely rural, and very beautiful.  I regret not photographing any of the rolling hills and corn and soybean fields, but since that would have involved stopping on the highway or sticking my camera out the window, you’ll just have to take in what I did manage to capture.  🙂  Let’s go on a tour of southwest Michigan!

In my book, summer must include some fruit-picking!  My parents took us to Lehman’s Orchard in Niles, MI to pick sour cherries and raspberries.  I’ve long wanted to make a real cherry pie from scratch, but I can never find fresh or frozen sour cherries where I live (and if I did, I’m sure they would be very pricey).  Sometimes I find them in jars and they cost way too much, so I’ve never bought them.  The cherries at this farm were a bargain and so easy to pick.  Look how beautiful they are!

Cherry picking at Lehman's Orchard in Niles, MIDid you every play Hi Ho Cherry-O?  I think these look just like the cherries in that game!

Cherry picking at Lehman's Orchard in Niles, MI

Once we picked them, we brought them to a little outbuilding and washed them.  Then they went through the cherry pitter!

Cherry picking at Lehman's Orchard in Niles, MI

We also picked raspberries.  My husband found one of the coolest sights that day on top of one of the raspberry rows:

Raspberry picking at Lehman's Orchard in Niles, MI

Baby birds!

We also visited Fernwood Botanical Garden in Niles, MI.  One of the highlights was these stick houses.

Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve

Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve

And…since I was out in the country, I had to look into a new store that I had never seen before:  Rural King, in Niles, MI!  I don’t own any trucker hats, but I was kind of hoping to find one there that said “Rural King”.  I would definitely have worked that into my wardrobe!

Rural King in Niles, MI

This is a true farm store.  I got a lot of looks when I walked in mainly because, although I was dressed very casually, it was clear I hadn’t just come off the farm.

Rural King has many cool offerings, like

Rural King in Niles, MIwork clothes,

Rural King in Niles, MIsparkly belts (this picture does not do the sparkles justice),

Rural King in Niles, MI

and baby chicks!

Along with farm and food stuff, I also love antiques, so I peeked into many an antique store.  Luckily for my wallet and limited storage space, I didn’t buy anything beyond that dress in Detroit, but how awesome/crazy would it have been if I could have bought THIS?

Picker's Paradise in Niles, MI

Doesn’t everyone need a mirror with taxidermy squirrels on it?  “Only” $325!  Or how about THIS to hold your rings and bracelets?

Picker's Paradise in Niles, MIA raccoon arm!  Yeah, that didn’t come home with me either, but not because I wasn’t tempted!  These were both from a booth in Picker’s Paradise in Niles, MI, which was a pretty great store.  All the other booths were much more normal, I promise.

During our visit, we went to Lake Michigan several times.  I love Lake Michigan.  It’s like the ocean, only with fresh water and no scary creatures.  We visited both St. Joseph, MI and Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbor, MI.

When we went to St. Joseph, it was for the day.  They have beautiful Silver Beach, with bathrooms, a snack shack, and a playground.  The town also has a children’s museum, carousel, Silver Beach Pizza, the coolest splash park ever, and lots of cute shops you can visit.  It’s busy on the weekends, but really fun.

St. Joseph, MI on Lake Michigan

Sunset view of Lake Michigan from the pier in St. Joseph, MI

Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbor is just over the channel from Silver Beach, but is much less built up and more naturalistic.  Like Silver Beach, it also has bathrooms, a snack shack and a playground, but is much quieter.  We had fun swimming and looking for rocks with fossils on them.

Jean Klok Park, Benton Harbor, MI

The beach at Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbor, MI

We ate a lot of good food on this trip.  So, my burger recommendation from the west side goes to Laura’s Little Burger Joint in Decatur, MI.  We’re staying rural, here, so this is out in the middle of cornfields.  It’s a beautiful drive.

Laura's Little Burger Joint in Decatur, MI

The burgers here are huge!  There are many fun options (as well as things besides burgers), and seating is in the open at picnic tables spread out under the trees and sky.

Laura's Little Burger Joint in Decatur, MI

Laura's Little Burger Joint in Decatur, MI

May I also humbly suggest that after you have finished your burger, you might want to drive a minute down the road to get your after-dinner ice cream at the Hayloft?  I think you won’t be disappointed.  🙂

And now, for you sewing fans out there, the west side fabric report.  As I mentioned in the last post, before this trip, I did my research about good fabric stores near where I was going to be staying and found this great list from Rae Hoekstra of the blog made by RAE.  By her recommendation, I visited Field’s FABRICS in Kalamazoo, MI.

Field's Fabrics in Kalamazoo, MI

Field’s is an excellent fabric store that I highly recommend (and now really want to visit again).  For all the lucky western Michigan people, there are several locations.  Field’s is probably as big as Haberman Fabrics in Royal Oak, MI, but has a very different feel.

Field's Fabrics in Kalamazoo, MI

Field's Fabrics in Kalamazoo, MI

It didn’t hurt that there were some serious sales on.  I came away with a stretchy fleece from Malden Mills (smooth outside, fleece inside) and a cool red/purple chambray that I want to say is Robert Kaufman (although I’m not 100% sure).  Sadly, I can’t find these on their website to link to.

Field's Fabrics in Kalamazoo, MI

I may actually deserve an award for this fabric trip.  I had only 45 minutes to shop this whole, amazing store and, cutting time excluded, I totally did it!  My husband laughed when I told him I would only have that much time (after I spent two hours shopping at Haberman Fabrics, can you blame him?).  I did it, though!  I also tried to convince the lady who cut my fabric that they needed to open a Massachusetts branch, but she didn’t go for it.  That’s sad, but I’m recovering.

Lastly, although I didn’t photograph it, I went to Hancock Fabrics in Mishawaka, IN.  I hear people say they get things there and since we have Joann, but not Hancock, I thought I would check it out.  I think there was a sale on at nearly every store I hit on this trip (awesome!), and it was no different here.

Hancock Fabric in Mishawaka, IN

I got a pink and white cotton gingham (can’t find the fabric to link to, but it’s 100% cotton with a quarter inch check) and a cotton stretch sateen suiting in super-fun colors.  I can definitely envision a skirt (the suiting) and shirt (the gingham) out of these, maybe even worn together.  My mother wasn’t so sure about that combination, but if those garments ever materialize out of this fabric, I think that I can convince her.  If not, I’ll wear it anyway!  😉

So that was my trip!  We got seriously spoiled, ate so much good food, and had a wonderful time with friends and family.  Thanks to everyone who made our trip really special.  And readers, I hope you get a chance to check out some of these places if you are ever in southwest Michigan.  It’s a beautiful and friendly place to visit.