Tag Archives: Megan Nielsen patterns

A Quartet of Briar Tops

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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.

A Vintage Blanket Becomes a Skirt

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Years ago some amazing sewing ladies who are my mother’s friends, gave me a vintage wool blanket (among other things).  They had a business repairing antique quilts, as well as upcycling quilts that couldn’t be repaired and turning them into handmade goods.  When they moved on to other things, they gave me some of their fabric and thread.  I didn’t sew much at the time, but being a creative person, they thought I might be able to use the things.

One of my favorite items was part of a woolen blanket with two sets of initials on it.  It was a winter white with two blue stripes and navy embroidery, and although I didn’t know its story, it seemed special.  I put it aside until just the right project presented itself.  It finally seemed that I had found the perfect use for it when I saw the Brumby Skirt by Megan Nielsen.  I knew it might not work…but I also knew it might.

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

That idea, that sort of razor’s edge between working or not working is what makes creative endeavors so exciting.  I love to try projects where I am more sure of the outcome.  I get a lot of satisfaction from them, but it really gets interesting when you ask the question, “Will it work?”  I think this is a question that some of the best art and the best fashion have at their heart.  Sometimes the outcome is terrible.  Sometimes it’s ok.  But sometimes it goes beyond what you imagined.

I don’t think this project reached the level of being beyond all I imagined, but the act of walking that line made the project exciting.  Could I create a skirt from this blanket?  Would it be too thick to sew?  Would it lay right?  I’ll tell you from the outset that I love this skirt.  It’s not perfect.  It doesn’t give me an enviable form or lack mistakes.  But I still say it works because some of my big goals in sewing are to create clothing that is unique and interesting.  (And I get to wear a blanket as a skirt in winter!  Always a worthwhile goal!)

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

So, let’s get into some details.  The skill that I hoped to learn in this project was how to create a lining, so I bought some Bemberg rayon lining from Joann’s and leaned heavily on the book Easy Guide to Sewing Linings by Connie Long.

Easy Guide to Sewing Linings by Connie Long

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Maggie from Pintuck & Purl helped me think through my process for creating the waistband, which included lining it with some fabric from my stash and omitting the interfacing.

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

I found a plain navy fabric in my stash for the inside of the pockets.  Since the edge of the blanket was already finished, I decided to omit the hem.  This also saved me fabric, since I had a limited amount of blanket to work with.  In order to do that, I marked the place I would have turned the fabric up to sew the hem and used that as the new bottom line for my skirt.  You can see it faintly below.

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Like vintage fabric sometimes does, this blanket had some light stains.  I tried using a stain remover to get them out, but it didn’t work, so I did my best to cut around the ones I could.  The rest just had to remain.  I did run into a little bit of trouble while sewing in the zipper.  It wasn’t quite even at the top, but since this is for me, and I get to decide what I will and won’t fix, I just folded the extra over and sewed it down.  Problem solved.

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

I also decided to do a decorative topstitch above the seam that joins to waistband to the skirt, just to make sure everything was tacked down.

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

I wanted this done before winter was over, so I was pretty motivated to get it finished.  The days after I finished it were cold, so I could wear it right away!

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

I really like the skirt.  I don’t think it’s going to be the most flattering look, but I just love its interesting uniqueness.  My sister says I need a clever response when asked what the initials stand for.  Any ideas?  (Keep it clean!)

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

It’s really warm and comfortable and love all the different parts I incorporated–lining, colored pockets, and patterned waistband.  I deem it a sewing success.

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

I haven’t yet had a chance to blog a few of my other winter projects, but as far as sewing things goes, this was my last winter make.  I’m on to spring sewing.  I’ll still post the few made-in-winter projects I haven’t shown you yet, but this is the only garment that will probably be worn exclusively in the winter, so I wanted to blog it before spring came.

Recommendations (Yea!)

  • As I come to love hand-sewing more, I find my interest in embroidery being renewed and growing, too.  In that vein, I’ve found some really fun embroidery artists.  An etsy shop I recently discovered is cozyblue handmade.  They have embroidery patterns, etc.  I’m a fan of the Sea Captain.
  • If you listen to podcasts, I’ve just found a new one that I like:  The Seams podcast.  It’s about clothing and the stories connected to it. Jacki Lyden does a great job of interviewing a wide variety of people and looking at clothing from many angles.
  • If you like to garden, but sometimes feel nervous because you don’t really know your plants’ intentions, you should watch “Indoor Gardening Tips from a Man Who’s Very Scared of Plants”.  Problem:  SOLVED!

Take Two: Megan Nielsen Briar T-Shirt

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

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

Here are the details:

As mentioned, I used the pattern below.

My awesome Briar

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

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

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

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

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

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

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

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

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

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

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

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

Here is the shirt from the inside:

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

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

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

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

My Imperfectly Awesome Briar Sweater

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

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

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

Double layer fabric from Pintuck & Purl in Exeter, NH

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

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

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

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

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

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

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

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

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

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

The Brumby Skirt from Megan Nielsen Patterns

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

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

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

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

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

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

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

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

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

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

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

Back view with exposed zipper

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

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

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

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

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

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

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

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

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

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

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

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