Tag Archives: Polartec

Refashion: Down Jacket Into Down Skirt…or…Struggle. Victory.

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Refashion:  Down Jacket Into Down Skirt…or…Struggle.  Victory.

It was a grey and stormy day when I finally cut into a project I had long been contemplating.  It was a refashion, but not just any refashion.  This one involved sewing with a material I had never tried before:  a down jacket.  I had chosen the patterns that were going to help me achieve my goal and planned a little more than half of the project, but there were still questions in my mind about how I was going to finish the rest.  Inspiration images had been pinned to my Pinterest board, but still I mulled it over…until the snow day.  It was finally time.

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

I had already been scheming about refashioning a down jacket into a scarf after seeing these ones, which was the product of a collaboration between Patagonia and Alabama Chanin, but my down-sewing plans expanded when we visited Colorado last winter and I saw a woman wearing a down skirt.  It was such a brilliant idea.

Google revealed that down skirts are actually a thing, even though the Colorado one was the only one I had seen in real life.  So, after a ton of thought, I chose New Look 6843 for the skirt portion, and the waistband from the leggings in McCall’s 7261 for my stretchy waistband.  Since I wanted this to be a pull-on skirt, a waistband and some gores/gussets/godets in the side of the skirt were in order (after seeing the skirt, you can tell me which term is the right one for what I did 😉 ).

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

I managed to turn the back skirt into a single piece and eliminate the zipper.  All of that fit onto the back of the coat, allowing me to use the bottom of the coat as my hem.  It got tricky when I came to the front because that was supposed to be one piece, too.  I really wanted to incorporate the coat zipper in a decorative way (although I planned to sew it shut), and I also wanted the pockets both for decorative and functional purposes, but in the end, it was too much of a struggle.  I realized that by opening my sleeves and sewing them together, I would have enough for my front piece.  I still had plenty of the stretchy fleece left from my Toaster Sweaters for my waistband and gores/gussets/godets.  Then it was all construction.

This is probably the point when you are asking how in the world I cut and sewed that crazy stuff.  That is a very important question.  Here is what I did:  I marked my cutting lines with a water-soluble pen and sewed with a straight stitch on either side of my cut line in the hopes that it would hold all the down in.

Do you think it worked?

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Well, it sort of did.  Not ALL of the down came out.  But some did.  Here’s how I had to sew.

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

You can’t see it in this picture, but I also had pink-eye (conjunctivitis) at the time.  Nice, huh?  (Luckily no down got in my eye.  That would have been…um…gross.)

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

I had the BRILLIANT idea of vacuuming off the edges after I cut them.  I do not recommend this.  Maybe you thought of the problem with this.  It actually dislodged things, so it was sort of like it was snowing outside and snowing inside.  That was the point at which I realized I really needed to get this finished that same day.  We had some sickness in our house that week, and I wasn’t feeling my best, but I decided to power through in the hopes that it was all in my head.  (It wasn’t all in my head, but I powered through anyway!)

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

I also realized that I needed to cover every seam on the inside if I didn’t want to perpetually shed feathers.  This was the point where things got a little…”Becky-home-ecky” (sorry if your name is Becky).  The finishing, while functional and necessary, didn’t meet the vision I had in my head, but I was sort of racing against the down and my nausea.  The good news is, when I’m wearing it, I think it looks like something I could have bought at an outdoor store.  (If you disagree, you don’t have to tell me.)  It’s only if you get up close or look inside that you see the craziness, and since people don’t do that when I’m wearing it (thank goodness!), I think I’m safe.  Want to see it?  Check it out!

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

This skirt has the added benefit of a little puffy booty enhancement up top.  It’s too high for people to think you pooped in your pants, so I like to think of it as booty enhancement.  Maybe it’s because I sewed all the darts in the skirt, even though I basically negated them with those side triangles.  I needed the triangles, though because if you’re going to eliminate the zipper, you need some way to get your skirt on!

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Skirt front (above)

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Skirt back (above)

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Side view (above). I folded the front of the skirt down at the top a bit because it was originally higher in the front and lower in the back, but that feels weird to me.  I want it the other way around.

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Inside front (above).  I covered my seams with fleece, but didn’t sew with a wide enough seam allowance, so I ended up sewing extra lines and hand-tacking things just to get all those feathery seams covered.  I also covered my top seams with wide fold-over-elastic (although I didn’t fold it), and used a zig-zag stitch to hold it down and allow for a little stretch at the waist.  That doesn’t look great, either, but again, you don’t really notice it that much when I’m wearing it, so whatever!

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Inside back (above)

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Inside side view (above).  Here’s where it started to get ugly, but I just wanted to finish at this point.  It was helpful to have the coat lining as a lining for my skirt because I could hand tack the fleece to it.

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Despite any deficiencies in the finishing, I LOVE THIS SKIRT!!!!  When I wear it, I feel ready to take on winter!  The fit is great and it is so cozy that I wore it for two days straight after making it (and vacuuming my work room a.k.a. our living room…twice).  In January I made these fleece leggings and the Toaster Sweater that I’m wearing in this picture, and this outfit is pretty much winter perfection.  I love it so much.

After I finished, I contemplated making a scarf from the remnant of the jackets, but I decided to just put it away for now.  I DID NOT like sewing with all that down.  However…my husband had the brilliant idea to make a scarf from it in the summer…while sewing outside.  He’s so smart!

Recommendations

  • On Wednesday I made the Blueberry Poppyseed Snacking Cake from the Seven Spoons cookbook, and now I just want to eat that all the time.  I know this would be unwise, so I gave the last piece away before I could eat it.
  • I have some old gaiters from L.L. Bean that I just love.  They don’t sell the exact style I have anymore, so this is the closest I could find, but they are great if it’s snowy out and I don’t feel like putting snow pants on.  I can walk through several inches of snow without it getting in my shoes or on my pants.  I used them for a walk on Thursday, and it just reminded me of how much I love them.
  • Is orange the new black?  Are doughnuts the new croissants?  Do you like to say that _____ is the new ______ ?  Then check out this fun and funny website, where each time you click, you get a new ‘this is the new that’.
  • This week I found out that everything is better with doodles.  😉

Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

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Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

Hey, friends!  I missed you last week.  My plans to take some outdoor pictures for my ‘Outside in January’ post were thwarted by family sickness, so that post never happened.  Thanks to my ‘Instagram Husband’ photographer and some nice weather on Saturday, though, I’m back with another sewing post for you.  Today’s creation is the new Toaster Sweater by Sew House Seven.  I was severely tempted to make a sweater for my toaster or pose with a toaster, but I resisted and went for something more basic.  😉

Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

This creation is brought to you by my getting caught up in the wave of cozy versions of this sweater floating around the sewing internet.  I often get caught up in these things, but rarely give in.  This time, I not only got caught up, I bought the PDF version of this pattern, something I almost never do!  I’m not a big fan of PDF’s from a user end.  They are a great way for a new company to get their patterns out into the world for a lower start-up cost, but from a sewing perspective, I’d always rather have a paper pattern.  Sometimes I will even pass on a pattern I like if it doesn’t come in a paper version.  This time, though, I realized that I could buy the PDF of the single view that I wanted (the pattern comes with two views) for less than the price of the paper or full PDF pattern, and I could have it NOW.

I already had my fabric, some Polartec Power Stretch (at least I think it’s Power Stretch) that I bought this past summer at one of my favorite fabric stores in Michigan, Field’s Fabrics.  It was just waiting for the right pattern.  And this was it.

The Details

This is a great pattern and a fast sew.  There aren’t too many pieces, and the instructions are great, which makes the construction feel really simple in a good way.  I made this before making the Coppelia Cardi from Papercut Patterns, and I’m glad I did.  The helpful advice about double stitching is something I’ve been using in all my recent knit projects.

Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

I had all these plans to alter the pattern before getting started.  I wanted to lengthen it and grade the hips out to a larger size, etc., etc., but in the end I made a straight size large for the first version.  I had two colors of fleece, so I figured the first could be a wearable muslin, and I could change things up for the second if I wanted to.  In the end, all I changed for number two was to add another inch in width to the bottom band so that, hopefully, the sweater/sweatshirt would hang down over my hips, rather than sort of sitting on top of them.  I’m not sure that this made a huge difference, but the good news is that both versions are really great.

Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

Here are some knit sewing construction details for anyone who is interested.  I used a 90/14 stretch needle (Schmetz brand) and a walking foot with Gutermann polyester thread in the top and wooly/bulky nylon in my bobbin.  Normally I just use wooly nylon for swimwear, but I wanted to see if I could get a better stretch stitch, and this turned out to be just the thing.  I used a straight stitch with a length of three for my first pass and a three-step zigzag stitch next to that in the seam allowance for my second pass on each set of pattern pieces.  For the zigzag, I used a width of 6 and a length of 1.  My tension was at 4 and my presser foot tension was at 3.  I did not use a serger.

To figure out my stitch length and width, I used the suggestions that came printed on my machine and tested them on fabric scraps.  Then I stretched each test to see if any of my stitches popped.  The straight stitches will pop if you put enough stress on them, but I think it is worth doing both because the straight stitches give you a clean join in your pieces while the zigzag provides extra strength and stretch.

I used a universal twin needle since I didn’t have a stretch twin needle at the time (I’ve since gotten one, and it’s great, but the universal did work as well).  I didn’t press my seams since I was sewing Polartec and I didn’t want to melt it, but I used the twin needle even in spots like the vertical neck, cuff, and bottom band seams to hold my seam allowances to one side.  I think I finally have the hang of the double needle now, and I’m so happy about it.

Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

So, in conclusion, I really like this pattern.  I don’t think these are the world’s most flattering tops on me personally, but I don’t really care.  I love them and I wear them a ton.  They are so cozy in fleece and just perfect for winter.

Recommendations

  • I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again:  fleece from Malden Mills (Polartec brand fleece) is awesome for cold weather.  I love natural fibers year-round, but Polartec fleece is cozy and technically fascinating.  Reading their website really gives you an appreciation for all the innovation in these fabrics.
  • I found this article really helpful:  How a Sewing Machine Works, Explained in a GIF.  I could never picture the inner workings of my machine before.  Thanks to Maggie from Pintuck & Purl for this one.
  • Thanks to this show, I learned that the internet is actually housed on top of Big Ben and if you are really, really lucky, the Elders of the Internet might let you borrow it for big speeches.  😉

A New Favorite Fall Shirt–Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

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It will come as no surprise when I tell you that I’m really excited about my latest creation.  For so many sewers, the last thing they’ve made is their favorite and this is pretty much along those lines.  It is hard for me to top last week’s pants, so maybe this isn’t my absolute favorite, but it’s a pretty close second.

I present to you my new favorite fall flannel shirt:  Simplicity 1538 made in Scarlet Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel.

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

I am IN LOVE with this shirt (at least as much as you can be with clothing).  Like the time I made my husband Thread Theory’s Jutland pants, I feel that the value of this shirt far exceeds what I paid for the fabric.  What I think really clinches it for me, though, is the feel of this flannel.

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

When I felt it initially, I was actually somewhat disappointed.  It seemed much thinner than I remembered this line of fabric feeling.  Still, I had wanted to sew with it, so I bought my yardage, took it home, and washed and dried it.

And that’s when the magic began.

Once it had been washed and dried, it fluffed up into a beefy, cozy, heavenly bit of fabric.  I loved sewing with it, and I love wearing it even more.

This shirt also marked my first real foray into plaid matching.  I had sort of done a bit of it when I made a shirt in Cotton + Steel’s Paper Bandana print, but this time I got serious.  I looked around at advice on the internet and in some of my trusty sewing books and tried to pick some reference points I could use to match things up.  My goal was to try to do a good job without letting myself slide down the slippery slope of perfectionism.  And I think I achieved my goal.  Not perfect, but really, really good.  And, (dare I say it?) it was kind of fun!

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

I see now, from experience, why you really want to have some extra yardage when you are matching plaids.  I really like setting my cuffs, yoke, and button bands on the bias, but there just wasn’t enough extra fabric to do that anywhere except the yoke; however this gave me the chance to work on some pattern matching across the front.

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

 

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

I used my current favorite buttons from Jo-ann’s.  They look like pearl snaps.  Real pearl snaps are on my list of things to try, and a little birdie told me that Pintuck & Purl just got those in along with some Robert Kaufman flannel (plus a bunch of other great stuff), so I think there’s a pretty good chance that another flannel shirt will make an appearance on this blog in the future.  Actually, I love this flannel so much that I want to MAKE ALL THE THINGS IN FLANNEL!  But I’m going to try to hold myself back…a little.  Once winter hits, I’ll feel the same about fleece so, you know…

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

The adjustments on this pattern are as follows:  major broad back adjustment and lowered darts (as discussed here) and for this version, I also added two inches to the length.  I knew I wanted to add 2-4 inches so the shirt tail would cover my backside for wearing with leggings and 2 inches was a good amount.  It doesn’t cover completely, but it almost does.  I’m happy with it.

Additional Note: I completely forgot to add this when I first published this post until Monique brought it up in the comments–all my seams that aren’t automatically finished/covered (like in the collar) are flat-felled.  I wasn’t sure I could manage to get the sleeve seams done on my machine, but after reading a few posts on other blogs, I became convinced I could do it.  In order to make it work, I put my sleeves in flat.  Rather than sewing up the side seams and then setting the sleeve as my instructions directed, I sewed the sleeve on with my flat-felled seams first and then sewed up the sides and sleeves in one fell swoop, flat-felling those seams as well for a nice clean finish inside.  It’s a bit tricky to do, but if you go slowly and have patience, it’s completely possible, and the end result is strong and beautiful.

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

And that’s it.  If you know me in real life and notice me wearing this shirt and last week’s pants every time we see each other for the next month, don’t be surprised.  I think I’ve finally found my tried ‘n true button up shirt pattern and a much loved fabric company.  I highly recommend both.

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

Recommendations

  • First on my list is a long-time favorite of mine:  Harney & Sons Bangkok Green Tea.  It has a subtle coconut flavor that I really like.
  • Polartec fleece from Malden Mills.  When the temperatures dip, this fabric can’t be beat.  It’s great for outdoorsmen and it’s great for the everyday.  It also has some pretty amazing science behind it.
  • Along the lines of the last recommendation, if you live in West Michigan or plan to visit, Field’s Fabrics is a great place to find Polartec in various forms along with all sorts of other great fabrics.  I love going to Field’s and always try to visit if we are in Michigan.
  • You guys know I like to watch surfing, especially in the winter since it reminds me that it won’t be freezing and snowy forever and, as we head into the cold season in this part of the world, I’m keeping an eye open for good surf videos.  I can’t vouch for the whole movie (since I haven’t seen it), but the trailer of View from a Blue Moon about surfer John John Florence, is stunningly beautiful.

The Unblogged Cardigan

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Remember when I was doing all the sewing with Polartec?  I made the skirt, the dress, a pair of pants that didn’t make it on the blog because instead of fitting me, they fit my child, and a cardigan that has yet to make an appearance here.  So, while I’m currently still busy with bathing suits, I thought I would show you this cardigan that I sewed just a little while back.  Don’t worry though; once I test out my latest bathing suit top, we’ll talk bathing suits again.

This cardigan was made from McCall’s 6844.  I was completely inspired by Bianca’s green jersey version, and would still love to make one like hers someday, but since we seem to be living through a Canadian winter in Massachusetts this year, fleece was more seasonally appropriate.  I made it with the same Polartec Classic 200 Sweater Look fabric from Mill Yardage as the pieces I mentioned above.

Cardigan (McCall's 6844) by Pattern and Branch

Cardigan (McCall's 6844) by Pattern and Branch

I made a medium of View C, which has a shawl collar and a high/low peplum.

Cardigan (McCall's 6844) by Pattern and Branch

Cardigan (McCall's 6844) by Pattern and Branch

Thanks to the many reviews on the Pattern Review site, I skipped the interfacing in the collar and sewed the sleeve in flat.  Also, despite what the pattern says, the front does meet, so I debated adding a closure, but skipped it in the end.

I liked the idea of modelling this in the snow while also wearing the red shirt I made so, on a “warm” day in the 20’s (Fahrenheit), we went out and took some pictures.

Cardigan (McCall's 6844) by Pattern and Branch

Cardigan (McCall's 6844) by Pattern and Branch

Cardigan (McCall's 6844) by Pattern and Branch

Cardigan (McCall's 6844) by Pattern and Branch

Here’s a shot of the red shirt in action, too. 😉  The shirt was sewn from an Alabama Chanin pattern.  See the link for more details.

I have to say, this was a really quick and easy pattern.  The cardigan is comfortable, super warm, and looks really cool with the variable length of the peplum.  I like that the fleece fabric has enough body to make the back and sides stand out in a really interesting way.  I noticed on Pattern Review that a lot of reviewers loved this pattern, and were churning them out for themselves and as gifts for others.  I was not so generous and only made one for myself.  Selfish sewing is my favorite…

(Maybe someday I’ll have made all I want need and by then my skills will also be awesome, and I’ll start making things for other people instead of only myself.  I’ll keep you posted on that.  It might be awhile.)

Next up (probably):  more bathing suits!!!

 

Alabama Chanin Long Skirt, New England Style

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In my now decade-long quest for THE ULTIMATE WINTER SKIRT, I have thought of many fabric combinations, patterns, and crazy ideas to create a long winter skirt that would be warm and yet still look good.  What I really want is a skirt that feels like I’m wearing a blanket, but looks socially acceptable.  To that end, I ordered a vintage pattern, and started poring over fabric sites looking at faux fur.  I went through my fabric cabinet and considered (finally) using some of my wool.  I even thought about cutting up our Vellux blanket as lining.  The Polartec website became very familiar to me as I researched interesting technical fabrics.  Finally, it dawned on me.  Why not make Version 1 of THE ULTIMATE WINTER SKIRT from a pattern I already knew I liked?  What about a Polartec sweater knit (which I was itching to try out anyway) with the Alabama Chanin Long Skirt pattern from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design?

Alabama Chanin Long Skirt, New England Style (Pattern and Branch)

The more I sew, at least lately, the more I find that what I’m interested in doing is exploring.  As I contemplated what I wanted to sew in the coming year, or at least the current season, I realized that I want to try out new and interesting fabrics in (hopefully) new and interesting ways.  My wonderful husband obliged me by purchasing a large amount of sweater-knit fleece in a charcoal color from millyardage.com as a Christmas gift.  Goal number one with that fabric was to attempt the skirt.

Alabama Chanin Long Skirt, New England Style (Pattern and Branch)

I cut out the same size in the Alabama Chanin Long Skirt that I usually use (I’ve also made this skirt in cotton/modal jersey.), and bound it with fold-over elastic that I already had.  I didn’t stretch the elastic when I was sewing, though, so the waistband came out looking…wavy.

Alabama Chanin Long Skirt, New England Style (Pattern and Branch)

Alabama Chanin Long Skirt, New England Style (Pattern and Branch)

So, in the interest of time and not losing momentum on the project, I cut off the waistband and sewed on another, this time stretching the elastic as I sewed.  It was still a bit wavy, but the skirt is meant to be sort of low-rise, so when you put it on, it works.  (Only one note of caution–if there is any chance you may have young children tugging on your clothes, watch it.  There’s always the possibility you could get pantsed in this skirt.  Can you get “pantsed” in a skirt?  Whatever you call it, watch yourself–no one wants to lose the bottom half of their outfit in public…well, no one should want that, anyway.  It could definitely happen in this skirt.)  This particular pattern has a small train, which I love, and which I kept in the jersey version of the skirt.  It does drag on the floor a bit, but it looks lovely.  For this winter version, though, I trimmed the back even with the front, cutting off the train.  It would be too sad to have the back of the skirt covered in snow, slush, and salt.

Alabama Chanin Long Skirt, New England Style (Pattern and Branch)

Alabama Chanin Long Skirt, New England Style (Pattern and Branch)

As yet it is unhemmed, partially because I love the raw-edged look, and partially out of curiosity.  I want to see how the length works with my various shoes and if I can get away with raw edges in this fleece sweater-knit as well as I can with a cotton jersey.  I may hem it later.  The other reason is that I want some instant gratification on this pattern, and I can call it done if I don’t hem it.  Now you know the whole truth.

And now…I must tell you of my initial triumph.

On Sunday I wore the skirt to church with a stretchy sweater and my wool “poncho” (a.k.a. piece-of-fabric-that-I-wrap-around-myself-and-secure-with-a-kilt-pin).  I wore long johns underneath and booties with socks.  On that day, I knew I had finally achieved an ULTIMATE WINTER OUTFIT.  I was essentially wearing blankets and pajamas:  long underwear (“pajamas”), a skirt that felt like a blanket, a sweater as stretchy as a t-shirt, and a “poncho” that was really a blanket wrapped around me.  I was wearing pajamas and blankets, but it was socially acceptable enough that I felt like I had dressed up for church!

But wait!  Was I essentially practicing deception…at church, of all places?!!!  Was I really wearing my pajamas and blankets to church?!  Well, I’m going to say no to the deception, but YES to the awesome nature of that outfit.  All winter outfits should have the qualities of ultimate comfort and warmth while still being socially acceptable and looking good.  SUCCESS!!!!

I feel that my life is now fulfilled.  Blog, finished.

Just kidding.

 

Alabama Chanin Long Skirt, New England Style (Pattern and Branch)