Tag Archives: sewing

The Long, Long Cardigan: McCall’s 7476

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The Long, Long Cardigan: McCall’s 7476

The long cardigan was a new style for me until the beginning of the year when I bought one at TJ Maxx.  I wasn’t sure about the look, but I was curious and wanted to try it.  I told myself I would test it out, and I really liked it!  Then I saw this look and found McCall’s 7476.  It was time to MAKE one of my own.

The Long, Long Cardigan:  McCall's 7476

The only problem was that the super long version I wanted (View E, but without the shawl collar) called for A LOT of fabric.

The Long, Long Cardigan:  McCall's 7476

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The Long, Long Cardigan:  McCall's 7476

I knew that if I was going to make this, I would have to find a good deal on material.  One of my favorite places to look for such deals in person, rather than online, is at Fabric Place Basement in Natick, MA.  It’s not exactly nearby, but if I’m really efficient with my time and focused when I’m there, I can do it on a weekday.

I went with my list and my budget and my ideas and, providentially, there was a sale on wool.  The fabric I found for the cardigan was a wool/acrylic rib knit, so it was affordable with the discount.  I don’t normally like rib knits, but being able to see and feel this one in person convinced me that it could work for my cardigan.

The Long, Long Cardigan:  McCall's 7476

On to the project!  I washed and dried a fabric swatch (I think it was 4″ x 4″) to see how much shrinkage would happen.  Despite the warm temperature I used, there really wasn’t any shrinkage.  So, I put the rest of my fabric in the washer and dryer.  The only downside to this fabric is that it’s a hair magnet, but at least it doesn’t shrink!

I cut my pattern out on the floor after cleaning it as well as I could so the fabric didn’t get dirty.  I cut a large for the bust and waist and an extra large for the hip, leaving off the shawl collar.  This was also my first time using knit interfacing.  It went well, and I like the feel of it in the finished garment.

The Long, Long Cardigan:  McCall's 7476

Except for the unwieldiness of the project due to its length, this wasn’t hard.  I tried using Coats & Clark’s new Eloflex thread, which is slightly stretchy and made for knits.

The Long, Long Cardigan:  McCall's 7476

After awhile, I switched from Eloflex as my top thread and in my bobbin to Eloflex in just the top and wooly nylon in the bottom.  It seemed like my machine didn’t like something that I was doing, and for some reason, that configuration seemed to do the trick.  I still used a zigzag stitch and all the other things I do for sewing with knits (walking foot, lighter presser foot pressure, jersey needle), but just changed up that top thread from my usual all-purpose Gutermann to Eloflex.  We’ll see how it holds up.  No complaints so far, but I also haven’t used it enough to say if I love it or not.

The Long, Long Cardigan:  McCall's 7476

The other thing I tried out on this garment was Steam-A-Seam 2 (the 1/4″ one).  I’ve had this for a while, but haven’t really used it.  It’s a lightly tacky double-stick tape that you then use to fuse your fabric together with an iron when it’s positioned.  I used it to help me hem and for my pockets as an extra stabilizer. It says it creates a permanent bond when ironed, but I still sewed my hems and pockets where I applied it.  Why did it take me so long to use this?!

The Long, Long Cardigan:  McCall's 7476

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The Long, Long Cardigan:  McCall's 7476

After wearing the cardigan a few times, I wonder if I need to shorten it just a bit.  The hem is about an inch off the ground.  (For reference, I’m 5′ 8.5″.)  It doesn’t pick up as much dirt as you might expect, but I’m always worried it will drag.  I was hoping I could just fold the hem up one more time, but when I tried pinning it, I realized that my hem was slightly uneven, and simply folding it up really exacerbated that.  Maybe it’s time to use my new-to-me hem marker if it will go down that far.

The Long, Long Cardigan:  McCall's 7476

I really, really like this cardigan.  I know it’s a different look and it’s a lot of black for me, but it’s so cozy and warm (guys, it’s basically a blanket or a robe).  I like how it looks with jeans or overalls, and it’s great to have something so long and dramatic–something so different from most of the rest of my wardrobe.  I would definitely make this again.

The Long, Long Cardigan:  McCall's 7476

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The Long, Long Cardigan:  McCall's 7476

Recommendations

  • While reading the Wednesday Weekly from Helen’s Closet, I saw that Sewrendipity is creating a hub for local fabric shopping guides.  You can see if she’s linked to one near you, or submit your own.  It’s a great idea.
  • Indie Sew wrote a great article on fabric weight, how to determine fabric weight, and why it’s important.

 

 

 

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The Coziest Sweatshirt: Very Easy Vogue 9055

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The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

After the dirndl project that I undertook earlier this fall, I wanted to make sure that I had some quick, easy projects in my next project batch.  As we were going into cooler temperatures, I started to think that a few knit sewing projects were in order.

The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

One of the new things I want to incorporate more into my wardrobe is leggings (even though I’m not wearing them in these pictures) which, whether or not you think they count as pants, definitely count as secret pajamas.  However, I also don’t want my hind end exposed, which means I need longer t-shirts.  I’ve tried the Briar Tee from Megan Nielson Patterns, which I like, but it’s not quite as long as I want and I think something is off for me in the shoulder area.  I really like the concept, however, and so I thought I would give Vogue 9055 a try.

The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

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The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

I found the coziest sweatshirt-like knit fabric at Fabric Place Basement in Natick, MA that seemed perfect.  It’s 80% cotton and 20% polyester.  This pattern and fabric combination ticked most of my boxes:  cozy, secret pajamas, like a warm hug, long and butt-covering.  The only thing it was missing was real color.  While gray is a cozy color, it also kind of depresses me.  Sorry, gray lovers.  I live in a land of gray winters (as you can see from these pictures) and I need color.  So I bought bling to spice it up.  🙂

The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

While in my mind this project was going to take me, like, two seconds (which never actually happens, but it’s still possible to delude myself), it didn’t.  I made the shirt, minus hems, and then I looked at it…  The hips were too wide, and actually it looked a bit big on top, too.  The neckband wasn’t tight enough, so it was flopping forward.  What the heck?!  Also, why have I not mastered knit neckbands after all this time?!

So I took a step back and started working on one issue at a time.  I took the extra off the hips that I had added previously, and that made a big difference.  I decided not to hem the sleeves or body of the shirt because I like the unhemmed shirt length and the look of it unhemmed.  I could probably trim an inch off the sleeves…but I just don’t want to.  As for the neckband, I cut it off and stay stitched again, but it wasn’t great without some sort of band.  So I asked someone who knew more than me (always a good choice!).  She told me I needed to make the band shorter, and she did all my calculations for me, making the neckband 15% smaller than the opening of my neck hole (thanks, Stacy!!!).  When I recut the piece and sewed it on, it was SO MUCH BETTER.  I still need practice to get knit neckbands perfect, but this was a serious improvement.

The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

I know lots of people are down on the amount of ease in Big 4 patterns.  I’m the opposite.  I usually love the amount of ease they include, since I’m not a fan of super-fitted clothing, but I think in this fabric, I could have gone down one size from my measurements.  On the plus side, it’s the ultimate in comfort.

The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

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The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

As for the sparkly decorations I bought for my shirt, there really isn’t a lot of space to put them on.  So I don’t know.  What would you do?  Keep the sweatshirt plain or add details or decorations of some kind?  For now, it’s plain, because I just wanted to wear it, and it really is as cozy as it looks.  I’m open to ideas for jazzing it up, however.  Leave your ideas in the comments!

The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

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The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

The only thing that is out of the ordinary in this project is that I tried a new product:  the new Eloflex thread from Coats & Clark.  I haven’t used it enough to have a firm opinion on it, but it seems good so far.  It’s not elastic thread, but it does have a bit of stretch in it.  You can’t really tell if you hold a small amount between your fingers, but if you hold about a foot of it and pull, you’ll feel more stretch than in standard polyester thread.  Normally I would use all-purpose Gutermann polyester thread for my knits, maybe with woolly nylon in the bobbin.  For this shirt I used Eloflex in the top and in the bobbin.  Now we’ll see how it holds up to wear and tear.  I’m definitely excited to experiment with it.

The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

Recommendations

  • Check out these cool seam rippers from Bias Bespoke on Etsy.  This one is a travel seam ripper with a flip-down lid, and this one has a seam ripper on one side and tweezers on the other.  Smart design!
  • My awesome parents now scout out fabric stores for me (my mom is also a quilter, but they look for me now, too).  They discovered Fabrications in Richland, MI.  If you are looking for wool knits, Fabrications has a number of them, including some marked “machine washable”.  I spent a lot of time on their website picking out swatches so I could give some a try, courtesy of my parents.  Thanks, Mom and Dad!  I’m excited!
  • Sometimes I struggle with anxiety (especially the last few winters), so this winter I’m trying out The Happy Light to see if light therapy helps.  As one doctor said, even if it’s psychosomatic, if it helps, it’s worth it.  So far I really like it.  We’ll see how the whole winter shapes up, but even if it doesn’t help with anxiety, it makes a great little work light.
  • Here’s what happens when you use Google Translate to take a song out of its original language and then translate it back.  🙂

 

How I Sew

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How I Sew

The process of how people make things is interesting.  It’s fascinating to see the spaces people create in and to learn about their processes.  And since sewing is my creative practice, I’m interested in how others sew and in thinking through how I sew.  After spending a few years sewing regularly, I’ve developed some habits and systems, and I thought I would share them with you in case you are curious about those types of things too.  Here is how I take a project from start to finish.

Overview

Currently, I batch my projects.  The first time I tried to do this, it was completely overwhelming.  But the next time I did a single project, I missed it.  These days, I tend to group about five sewing projects together and move them from start to finish as a unit.  Here’s what that looks like.

1.  Choose patterns and fabric.  This has to be my favorite part (except for finishing, when I get to wear the final product!).  Pairing fabric and patterns is so much fun.  Sometimes I have a pattern I want to make and I go looking for the fabric.  Sometimes there is a fabric already in my stash that I bought for a certain type of garment, in which case I have to look for just the right pattern.

How I Sew

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How I Sew

This is what I’ve got on my sewing list right now (which is a bit larger than usual):  Vogue 9055 (a knit top), McCall’s 7476 (a long, knit cardigan), Mini Virginia Leggings from Megan Nielsen Patterns, The Belvedere Waistcoat from Thread Theory Designs Inc., The Fairfield Button-Up, also from Thread Theory, Simplicity 4111 (a woven top), and the Lander Pant and Short from True/Bias.  This particular batch is a little out of control, but I’m going with it.  Christmas might have a little to do with the size…

2.  Choose pattern view and sizes.  Once I decide on my patterns, I make sure I know my measurements and, in this case, the measurements of the other people I’m sewing for.  I use this information to pick out my size(s) on the back of the envelope and I also choose what view/version of the pattern I’m going to make.  Everything gets written down on a sticky note and stuck to the back of the pattern, along with a list of the pattern pieces I’ll need to trace.

How I Sew

It’s also important to note what notions and interfacing I need, so I can look through what I already have and write down what I need to buy.  I stock up on what’s missing the next chance I get.

3.  Trace patterns.  I trace my size(s) in each pattern and, while I usually use paper patterns, if I am using a PDF, I assemble and trace that as well, since I don’t want to print and assemble PDF’s more than once.  I often have to grade from one size to another between the bust and waist, and sometimes I have to do a broad-back adjustment as well.  All of that happens on my traced pattern pieces.  The clean, traced pieces look so nice, and I’ve learned to enjoy the process of tracing.  It can get intense, though, when you are tracing through five or more patterns, especially the ones with lots of pieces.  TV, an audiobook, or a podcast help.

How I Sew

4.  Cut out patterns.  Once all my pieces are traced and adjusted, I cut out all of my fabric and interfacing (or my muslin if I’m making one).  Whenever possible, I cut on a self-healing mat on a card table that is raised up on bed risers.  I use a rotary cutter and large washers as pattern weights.

How I Sew

For longer patterns, I cut on the kitchen table or living room floor with scissors.

How I Sew

Once cut, I pin my pattern pieces to the fabric and stack everything up.  Sometimes I transfer markings after cutting, and sometimes I do that right before sewing.  Despite how nice and neat the picture below makes things look, my cut patterns usually end up draped over a chair in the living room, taking it out of commission.  I should probably use hangers more often!

How I Sew

5.  Time to sew!  Once I have everything cut out, I can sew, sew, sew!  I think that’s what really hooked me on batching projects–the fact that you can sew through project after project.  I love that.

I usually pin my instructions up in front of my machine, mark my place with a little Post-It flag, and transfer any pattern markings to my fabric pieces if necessary.  Then I sew through each project one by one.

How I Sew

In my current batch, I’ve made Vogue 9055, McCall’s 7476, and three Mini Virginia leggings.  All of these are knit projects that were super fast.  I felt the need for a few quick projects, so I put those at the front of the queue.  Now I’m ready to dig into the Belvedere Waistcoat, a garment type I’ve never made before.

Batching like this produces a nice group of projects I can photograph and bring to you here on the blog.  It’s really satisfying.  When I’m finished, I clean everything up and plan my next group of projects!

What about you?  Do you batch projects?  Do you have a system for working or do you change it up?  I’m curious!  I’m also excited to look back at this post sometime in the future and see how much my work practice changes (or stays the same) over time.

 

Just Like Magic…In Which a Down Jacket Becomes a Down Scarf

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Just Like Magic…In Which a Down Jacket Becomes a Down Scarf

Welcome to this issue of Experimental Sewing!  Today’s project involves turning the remnants of a down jacket (from this past project) into a scarf.

Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

After seeing the scarves Alabama Chanin and Patagonia made from worn out Patagonia jackets a few years ago, I reallllly wanted to try it for myself.  I thought it was a cool idea, and I was intrigued by the thought of recycling a down jacket (plus, I couldn’t pay $90 for one of theirs just because I was curious).  It was time to get sewing.

Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

I decided at the outset that my goal wasn’t perfect, heirloom sewing.  Undoubtedly the Alabama Chanin + Patagonia scarves are amazing in quality and workmanship, but I didn’t want to worry about that.  I just wanted to know if I could do it and what the process would be like.

Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

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Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

After my first project with this down jacket, which was interesting, but somewhat unpleasant to sew, due to the reality of sewing down in your living room, my husband suggested that I try sewing the scarf outside.  That was a game-changer.  Sewing outside in October, when it was still somewhat warm but not hot, was heavenly.  Any escaping down floated away on the breeze.  I felt like I was in a sweet, sweet dream (the weather was really nice), sewing away on my Featherweight in the backyard. 😀

Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

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Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

Let’s talk process for a bit, and discovery.  I looked at what I had left of the down jacket, and marked off pieces with  my sewing marker that were as rectangular as possible.  Then I sewed a straight stitch on either side of my cutting lines.  After that, I cut my pieces up.  And then I sewed them back together…as you do.  😉  This left me with something like a long rectangle, but also some exposed, slightly downy edges.

Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

And that’s when I made my discovery.  I went to an estate sale and came away with, among other things, fleece binding!  I had no idea this was a thing you could buy!  It was perfect for my project.  Rather than buying more to match things, I just decided to use what I had to cover the seams joining the rectangular pieces and the edges.  There was a little hand-sewing involved where the binding crossed from side to side, but not much.

Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

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Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

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Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

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Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

Before I finished, I also sewed a little rectangle to the inside of one end so that you could weave the other end through, helping to keep the scarf on.

Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

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Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

Some bonuses include the three pockets that are left in the scarf from the original jacket and, weirdly, the fact that the front zipper is still a part of the scarf and you can zip it up so it looks like you are wearing the front of a jacket.  It’s weird and cool.  (Really!  It’s cool!  I promise!)

Look out!  This could be the next trend coming your way in 2018.  You heard it here first!  😉

Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

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Just like magic...in which a down jacket becomes a down scarf

I don’t think, after doing this, that I’m going to set up shop making a million things from down.  It was fun, but not so much that it’s going to be my new favorite thing.  What IS one of my favorite things in sewing is trying out different fabrics, and this definitely scratched that itch.  I’m pushing the boundaries of my sewing knowledge a little more each time!  That’s a win.

Recommendations

  • I just checked out the new cookbook from Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen, called Smitten Kitchen Every Day.  I’m still reading through it, but after only making it through the Breakfast section, I want to make every recipe.  Seriously.  I might need this cookbook.
  • I feel I would be remiss if, after this project, I didn’t recommend Wrights fleece binding.
  • I can’t get the great fabric/color combination of this Kelly Anorak sewn by Lauren of Guthrie and Ghani out of my head.
  • Oh!  And one more since we’re talking fabric.  I LOVE this Neon Neppy fabric from Robert Kaufman, and I can’t decide which one I love best:  Blue, Royal, or Charcoal?  The internet really doesn’t do it justice–it has little slubs of neon color throughout, and since I’m clearly in a speckle as well as a neon phase, it’s right up my alley.

McCall’s 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

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McCall’s 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

And now, deep into October, it’s finally time to wrap up my 2017 Summer Sewing list.  😉  This top is the last unblogged summer project.

McCall's 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

It’s McCall’s 6751, View A, and it has both pros and cons.

McCall's 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

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McCall's 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

On the pro side, I finally made this top well (see my first attempt, at the beginning of my serious sewing journey here).  I got another chance to sew with linen, which I loved.  It was easy and fast to sew (excluding all the hemming).  I love the look of the fabric and the look of the shirt on the hanger…but I don’t love it on me.  The cons are all personal preference, rather than some sort of problem with the pattern.  I don’t feel secure and covered enough in this shirt.

McCall's 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

I thought I would love the back, but I don’t.  It feels like it will shift or blow open at any moment, leaving me feeling uncomfortably exposed.  I also want to wear my normal undergarments without them showing, but you definitely can’t do this with this shirt.  Seems like I conveniently forgot all this from version one.  Haha!

McCall's 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

So…I have an idea.  I usually hate going back into projects once they are finished, but I’m not quite ready to give up on this yet.  So, my idea is that I will cut out the back of View C, finish it and attach it as an inner layer.  I have a vintage sheet that looks really nice with this linen, and I think it will be perfect.  If I actually do it, I’ll report back.  🙂

McCall's 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

So, how about some details on this project?  There aren’t many, because it was a pretty quick and easy sew.  The fabric was given to me by a friend because I wanted to try sewing linen, and she had some that she wasn’t using.  (Thanks again!)  I made a size large, and since I omitted the pocket, there were only two pattern pieces.  There were no darts or fitting changes.  The only long part was all the hemming, which you do along every edge.  It all went well, though, and was a fun project.

McCall's 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

I think a big part of sewing is learning the difference between what you like to look at in fashion and what you will actually wear (and hence, what is worth your sewing time).  I’ve gotten a lot better at this, but I think this project definitely fell into the category of something I liked the idea of that wasn’t realistic for how I actually like to dress.  So now I have a new challenge.  Can I make this shirt work?  We’ll see!

McCall's 6751 Cross-Back Top in Linen

Update

This shirt was really bothering me because, as I mentioned, it just felt too exposed.  I decided to try to save it, and I did!

The front pattern piece is the same for all four views, so first I tried layering View C in a vintage sheet under View A.  That didn’t work because the angle made by the joining of the front and back is different from View A to View C.  After this first attempt, I took the original back off completely and put a new back on.  I like it so much better.

McCall's 6751 Adjusted

It still has an interesting crossover in the back, but it’s so much more covered and wearable.  I also love the juxtaposition of the two fabrics, although the sheet fabric is not as drapey as the linen.

McCall's 6751 Adjusted

Finally, I added a pocket in the sheet fabric to the front to pull it all together.

McCall's 6751 Adjusted

I really like this version.  For drape factor, I wish it were all in linen, but since I didn’t have any more in my stash, I really like what I came up with.  The fabrics look beautiful together, and I salvaged the shirt.  It’s all set for next summer now!  Hooray!

Recommendations

    • I was looking at some of my favorite Etsy shops, and was reminded why I had saved Bias Bespoke as a favorite.  It has so many great tailoring and lingerie supplies as well as things like buttons and trims–a lot of things I don’t normally see.  This one is worth checking out if you sew apparel, especially if you are starting to delve into complex projects and need supplies that are more specialized.
    • A friend of mine introduced me to the art of Kintsugi (as explained in “Kintsugi:  The Centuries-Old Art of Repairing Broken Pottery with Gold“). When you look at some of those pieces, you feel like you understand grace, forgiveness, and redemption in a new way.  And let’s not forget hope.
    • This tutorial for making glitter heels looks fun.  I’m sure you could apply the technique to a whole host of footwear if you wanted to.
    • When you get REALLY into artisanal things… (p.s. This is a joke.  It’s so well done, I wasn’t sure at first.)

 

McCall’s 6848 Top (Again!) in Watercolor Rayon

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McCall’s 6848 Top (Again!) in Watercolor Rayon

I feel like the title of my post makes me sound like I’m rolling my eyes because I’m sick of this pattern, when actually the opposite is true.  I love it!  This simple shirt is the meeting of this beloved pattern and the remnants of some beautiful fabric.  This is McCall’s 6848 which I also made in black silk crepe de chine, and it’s actually a pajama pattern!  In a fabric with some drape, however, like this watercolor rayon, left over from my Hannah Dress, this pattern also makes a perfect drapey shirt.

McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

McCall’s 6848 comes together quickly and easily with only three pattern pieces, one of which is the bias neck binding.  It’s a quick sew and a great palette cleanser after a more complicated project like the Hannah Dress or Thurlow Shorts.

McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

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McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

I didn’t do anything different on this iteration of the shirt.  Like last time, I used French seams to finish the insides and double turned hems on the bottom and armholes.  The rayon I used is a little harder to work with than the silk crepe de chine was, but it’s so soft and beautiful that it makes up for it.  It was also nice to compare the two fabric types on the same pattern.  So far, crepe de chine is my preference to work with–both are excellent to wear.

McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

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McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

This was one of my 2017 Summer Sewing projects.  I only have one more of those to blog, and then I’m all caught up with summer.  😉  It all works out, though, because I’m planning to slow down a little for fall and experiment with various areas of sewing that I’ve been interested in.  We’ll see how that all works out.

McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

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McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

I highly recommend this pattern to anyone looking for a quick and easy project that will make a great top for every day (or pajamas) in the right fabric.

McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

Recommendations

    • Mary of Birch Dye Works is really knocking it out of the park with all the cool yarn she has been dying lately.  Her color names are pretty great, too.
    • I was reading the Oliver + S blog and Liesl pointed out all the creative quilting influences she found in the September issue of Vogue.  Check out her post here.
    • I love cheese so much, and I have to recommend brie to you.  I tried some brie with mushrooms at Costco, which combines two foods I absolutely love. (I can’t find it on their website to link to but, trust me, it was GOOD.  I wish I had bought some…)
    • Are you thinking about sewing skinny jeans?  Judith Dee compares three patterns on her vlog.

Silk “Secret Pajamas”: McCall’s 6848

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Silk “Secret Pajamas”: McCall’s 6848

It’s time for another garment from my 2017 Summer Sewing list!  McCall’s 6848, View C is a top I’ve made before (in pre-blogging days, maybe?)…and one that I love!  I really wanted to make this simple top out of a flowy fabric to wear to work and church as well as with casual bottoms.  When I saw that Fabric Mart had black silk crepe de chine on sale, I knew that I had found my ideal fabric.

Silk "Secret Pajamas":  McCall's 6848

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Silk "Secret Pajamas":  McCall's 6848

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Silk "Secret Pajamas":  McCall's 6848

Now I know that silk is often viewed as a fabric that needs a lot of special care, but that is really up to you.  If you want to dry clean your silk, you can, but you can also throw it in the washer and even the dryer if you want to.  It does change the look of the fabric a bit if you wash it, but it doesn’t damage the fabric in any way.  So, while I actually prefer the look of the prewashed silk, I knew that I wouldn’t dry clean it due to cost and inconvenience, so I prewashed and dried.

Silk "Secret Pajamas":  McCall's 6848

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Silk "Secret Pajamas":  McCall's 6848

Sewing up this pattern was really fast and easy.  I made it in a size large this time.  It only has three pattern pieces:  a front, a back, and a neckband.  It was easy to sew the side and shoulder seams with French seams, and the neckband encloses the raw edge around the neck.  For the sleeves, I just did a basic hem with the raw edge turned under so that it was enclosed.  Fast and easy with no exposed edges left to fray in the wash!

Silk "Secret Pajamas":  McCall's 6848

(front view, above)

Silk "Secret Pajamas":  McCall's 6848

(back view, above)

I love the boxy cut and drape of this shirt and, while I wear it as an everyday shirt rather than as pajamas, I can feel how lovely this would be as a silk pajama top.  If you are looking for a basic drapey, boxy shirt pattern that is quick and easy, this is for you!  I’ve already got another cut out in rayon.  Highly recommend!

Silk "Secret Pajamas":  McCall's 6848

Recommendations

  • Proceed with caution if you try this one out!  Cooking Fever is a fun (and addictive) game where you have to serve your customers food as quickly as possible.  The better you do, the more (virtual) money you’ll have to upgrade your appliances and restaurant.  My fast food establishment is pretty awesome by now, I have to say!  😉
  • The Refashioners blog series and competition is up and running again this year with a theme of suits.  If you love refashioning, you can remake a suit into a new garment to compete for prizes (rules and prizes can be found here).  Right now, Portia, owner of the Makery blog which is hosting the event, is posting inspiration by various bloggers.  I was completely blown away when I saw Joost’s zebra-inspired coat.  You HAVE to check it out!
  • I just finished the audiobook version of Wonder by R. J. Palacio.  It was a great kids’ fiction book about the power of kindness.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

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Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

I’ve been thinking for a while about this post.  If you’ve been following my blog for a long time or have looked through past posts and seen a Brimfield post or two (or three), you’ll know that I love antiques.  I’m not a collector of any particular thing, but I love items from the past that I can use in my everyday life.  I like a bargain and a little patina.  Wood, metal, glass, ceramic–those are the materials I like to look for, and many of them have been pressed into service for sewing.  Thanks to some special items from  family and friends as well as flea markets and roadside finds, I have some vintage sewing tools, but I also have some great storage solutions.  That is what I want to share with you today.  Maybe it will give you some ideas or maybe you have fun vintage storage solutions of your own that you’d like to share in the comments.

Let’s take a little tour of my sewing space.  I actually cleaned it up for you.  😉

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

Here’s where I sew at one end of our living room.  Most of my tools and equipment have been gifts, freebies, or bargains.  The sewing table was my Mom’s and the chair belonged to my parents.  That cool old medical lamp was a side of the road find.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

It’s not very bright, but the head can be moved to direct light onto your project and you can make the lamp taller or shorter.

Here are a few more items I find useful.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

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Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

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Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

This is my fabric cabinet, found at a flea market.  Fabric is organized somewhat by color and somewhat by type.

Those are the big items, but I also have some very useful smaller organizers–wooden roast beef and cheese boxes.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

Patterns go in the roast beef boxes…and tools (and other items like trim) go in the cheese boxes.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

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Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

I also use cheese boxes in the drawers of my sewing table for organization.  That’s actually where I keep my box of cutting tools.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

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Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

Other great containers for storage include cigar boxes,

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

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Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

tins,

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

and really any old container that you like the look of and that will fit what you are trying to store.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

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Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

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Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

I also find old locker baskets useful, albeit somewhat pokey.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

For buttons and old, but beautiful spools of thread, I often employ glass canning jars, which look great whether they are vintage or new.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

And on my sewing table/desk, I’ve found that an old stamp holder (if it’s not too rusty) can be useful for holding thread and bobbins for your most recent projects.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

I also use this old shaving mug to hold binder clips for pattern pieces, mini clothes pins for my pattern instructions, and post-it tabs to help me keep my place in the instructions when I’m sewing.  This one features New Hampshire’s “Old Man of the Mountain” who fell off the mountain some time ago, so…I guess it’s even more special now?

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

Once you get started organizing with vintage containers, it’s not hard to follow that up with a few vintage notions.  Often people will give them to you if they are cleaning out and know you are interested.  I love having tools and notions that were loved in the past and knowing I can use and enjoy them and give them a second life.  It makes my own sewing that much more special.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

If you’re looking to add a little vintage flair to your sewing and/or your sewing organization, here are some of my sources.  I will tell you, though, that I’ve loved old things ever since I was little, so this collection of special odds and ends didn’t spring up overnight.  This is a great long-term hunt.  Patience will serve you well.

So, sources!  Number one for so many of these items has been family.  My parents and in-laws have often passed on things they weren’t using that I fell in love with.  Once I started to sew and knit, family and friends also gave me tools from family members who had passed away, which was really special.

If you are near Boston’s North Shore, my favorite flea market is Todd Farm in Rowley, MA.  It’s open every Sunday morning from approximately Easter to Thanksgiving.  I like early-morning antiquing, so I go before church sometimes.  If you are within driving distance of western Massachusetts, I highly recommend Brimfield.  The prices there are not as good (in general) as a small, local flea market like Todd Farm, but the selection is unparalleled.

For cigar boxes, you can often buy them inexpensively (or sometimes get them for free) at cigar shops.  They may not be vintage, but they often have that vintage look regardless.  And consider using any containers that you find useful and beautiful like clean jars or tubs from food or other items.

I also suggest yard sales, side-of-the-road freebies, thrift stores, and super junky bargain antique stores.

Of course all of this takes time, but I love the thrill of the hunt and the opportunity to use things with a history.  If you have any great tips for organizing or sewing with vintage items OR great sources for finding said items, tell me in the comments!

Recommendations

  • Have you seen the new “stickers” from the McCall Pattern Company for iOS?  It’s a free app with little sewing-related images that you can use on your phone (if you have an iPhone) or iPad.  They are super fun to text to your other sewing buddies.
  • So, here’s a website/blog that’s new to me, but could prove very helpful:  Shop the Garment District.  It’s about sewing and shopping for sewing goodies in New York City’s Garment District.  I heard about this site while listening to the Sew Forth Now podcast.  This is an old podcast that you can still listen to by Lori from the blog Girls in the Garden.  I’m finding some great resources through these.  Lori’s blog (which she is still posting to) is also a great source for sewing inspiration as she tries lots of different patterns and fabric.
  • Here is something I learned recently:  Everything is better with doodles.  😉

 

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.  😉

2017 Make Nine

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2017 Make Nine

It may be a little late in the year to talk about 2017 Make Nine plans, since most people do that in January, but I never ended up posting about my goals for this challenge, and I’ve actually been working toward them this year, so I thought it would be fun to give an update on my progress so far.

If you haven’t heard of this idea, it’s a challenge that was started last year by Rochelle New of the blog Lucky Lucille (and owner of Home Row Fiber Co.).  You can read all about her goals for this year and ideas behind the challenge here.  It’s a fun way to challenge yourself as a sewist/sewer/seamstress/whatever by picking nine things you’d like to sew for the year.

Last year, I jumped on board, and then promptly forgot about my plans.  In the end (when I remembered), I looked back and found that I actually had made most of my 2016 Make Nine goals, but not really on purpose.  This year, I decided I would actually remember my plans and actively work to complete them.  So here we are.  I took a picture of all my patterns.  Check ’em out with notes on their current state:

2017 Make Nine Project

Top Row, left to right:

  1. Toaster Sweater #1 by Sew House Seven
  2. Coppelia by Papercut Patterns
  3. Gallery Tunic + Dress by Liesl + Co.

Middle Row, left to right:

  1. Simplicity 2255, already a favorite of mine
  2. Simplicity 1538, one of my TNT patterns
  3. Butterick 4259 (out of print)

Bottom Row, left to right:

  1. Simplicity 1696
  2. Simplicity 8014
  3. Jutland Pants by Thread Theory

I printed out a picture of my patterns so I could make notes on it and actually remember my ideas.  I’m fitting other projects in here and there, but I’ve already begun working on these.  I have each pattern traced and adjusted with the exception of a long sleeve I need to trace for Simplicity 2255.  I think I’d like to borrow the sleeve from Simplicity 1538 and see if I can meld it with the one already in Simplicity 2255.

Each of my cooler weather patterns has also been cut out (or, in the case of the Gallery Tunic and the pants on the bottom left, cut out in muslin form).  That means that the top and bottom rows are at least ready for me to sew in one form or another.  The middle row will wait until spring sewing, most likely.  Here’s where I’m at with the ones that have been cut out:

Toaster Sweater:  DONE!  (It feels good to type that.)

I made two versions in fleece, which are already blogged here.

2017 Make Nine

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2017 Make Nine Project

I have worn these sweatshirts a ton.  They’re very cozy.

Coppelia:  DONE!

I’ve made both a long and short version of the Coppelia Cardi, which is yet to be blogged (because I need more pictures of the short version).

2017 Make Nine Project

Long version, faux wrap (above).

2017 Make Nine Project

Short version (above).

Gallery Tunic:  muslined.  This one is not for me, and the recipient is at a distance, so a muslin was definitely called for.  Despite this aberration, I do not sew for other people.  This just slipped out of my machine somehow.  😉

2017 Make Nine Project

Simplicity 1696 (pants):  muslin is cut out.  I think muslins are very valuable, but I really hate doing them, so I’ve been procrastinating on this FOREVER.  I procrastinated on this one even longer than the Gallery Tunic, but it’s finally cut out so that I can procrastinate on sewing it.

2017 Make Nine

Simplicity 8014 (dress): cut out.  I cut this one from another Robert Kaufman Mammoth Plaid, and I’m attempting to underline it with Bemberg Rayon so it won’t catch on the leggings I plan to wear underneath my cozy, cozy dress.  This has a ton of pieces, especially when adding an underlining, and I was squeezing it out of the end of the bolt, so I’m really hoping the plaid matching turns out ok.  I was pretty nervous cutting it out–I had to give myself lots of pep talks.  😉

2017 Make Nine Project

And lastly, Jutland Pants:  cut out in gray canvas.  When I realized that the Jutland Pants I had made for my husband actually fit me, too, I decided I wanted a pair of my own.  I came late to the skinny jean party, but even after only a few years of wearing them, wearing straight leg pants like these is heaven!  I want to try the cargo pattern, but with patch pockets on the front and no side cargo pockets.  I’m still not sure about the knee patches, but I think the back pockets may need some fun customization.

2017 Make Nine Project

So that’s where I’m at in the challenge!  It’s pretty fun so far.  I made sure to only include things I really wanted to make and wear.  This gives me a little extra push to get through the hard stuff, like muslins and such.  I’ve also gotten fast enough that I can do other little projects (yet to be blogged) in between, so it’s both fun and flexible.  What about you?  Have you decided to come up with your own 2017 Make Nine?