Tag Archives: sewing

Summer Sewing Inspiration

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Summer Sewing Inspiration

It’s summer!  I don’t have a finished project to share today (although I do have one in progress!), so I thought it would be fun to share some summer sewing inspiration with you.

I love summer clothing that is loose-fitting so that the breeze can blow through and keep me cool, and at the moment, I just want to sew easy things.  However…since I don’t always feel this way (and I know other people go back and forth, too), I’m including some simple as well as more complex patterns in this list.  Some are free, some are from independent designers, and some are from the Big 4 (Butterick, Simplicity, McCall’s, and Vogue).  Let’s dive in!

Tops

It would be terrific to find some staple patterns that are either great basics to showcase fun fabric or have interesting style lines.  I’m currently making the Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top.

Summer Sewing Inspiration

This is a free pattern that seemed like a nice twist on a basic tank top.  I’ve heard this is pretty cropped, so I’m making the pattern as is, but may lengthen it in the future.  I’m using a vintage sheet and some vintage trim that I have on hand, but it would also be great in the new Mariner Cloth designed by Alison Glass for Andover or a drapey linen or silk.

Another pattern I’m curious about is Butterick 5948.

Summer Sewing Inspiration

The illustrations on the pattern envelope are pretty basic, but I think that’s the point of the top. It’s basic and can be used as your everyday woven t-shirt or tank.  It can be something you make to blend with the rest of your wardrobe or it can stand out and feature a cool fabric. View F with the length of E really appeals to me since I don’t have a go-to woven t-shirt pattern.  This would be cool in Robert Kaufman’s Neon Neppy or a crepe de chine.  Rayon challis isn’t my favorite fabric, but it would be really nice made up into one of these shirts.

Another garment I’m considering is Simplicity 8172, View A, a kimono-type jacket.

Summer Sewing Inspiration

This is in no way a traditional kimono, but is loosely inspired by that garment type with its wide sleeves and loose fit.  I have some beautiful polyester crepe de chine from Mood that friends got me for my birthday a few years ago.  I’ve been waiting to find just the right garment for it, and this may be it.

Lastly, I would love to find a Tried ‘N True (TNT) boho top pattern.  I thought about the new Phoenix Blouse from Hey June Handmade or the Roscoe Blouse from True Bias, but I just don’t know.  Both are close, but I don’t think I’ve found the right one yet.  Any suggestions?

Bottoms

At the end of last summer, I started to realize that some of my shorts are kind of short.  This never bothered me in the past–in fact, I didn’t even notice it–they just seemed like a good proportion for my body, but that shorted length doesn’t feel as comfortable to me as it used to.  I think I want something a little longer.

I love the easy elastic-waist fit and slightly longer length of the short in Simplicity 1887.

Summer Sewing Inspiration

It has a flat front with a tie and pockets.  I can see this in a sparkly linen (probably because it looks like that’s what the sample is made from).  Robert Kaufman makes a great Essex Yarn Dyed metallic that I’m hoping isn’t too lightweight.

For more of a gym short take, there are the City Gym Shorts from Purl Soho, a free pattern.  I’ve been looking at these for the past few years, but haven’t tried them.  They come in adult and kids’ sizes.  I bet they would be fun made up in a great printed quilting cotton, a chambray for something more basic, or peachskin for a look inspired by board shorts–or you could go luxe and use some Liberty of London fabric like they do in their samples.

If you are after something more complex and classic, the Thurlow Shorts from Sewaholic is a great pattern that I made in yellow last year (there is also a pant view included in the pattern).

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

If I end up wanting a more in-depth project, I would love to make a few more pairs in some of the other colors of Tinted Denim from Cloud9 Fabrics.  Note that I straightened the legs considerably in my version.  The original is more flared.

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

One more option if you want to dig into an interesting project that will take more time is Butterick 4995 (out of print, but available on Etsy).

Summer Sewing Inspiration

These wide-leg pants come in shorter and longer lengths and have been on my list for a few years.  I have some yellow linen from Fabric Mart that would be great for View B.  (This linen does go on sale periodically, so if you can wait for a sale, it’s definitely worth it.)

I still don’t feel that I’ve found my favorite easy woven skirt pattern.  Maybe the Cleo Skirt from Made by Rae?  It looks simple, but has pockets and some fun customization options.  Otherwise, maybe the Brumby Skirt from Megan Nielsen would lend itself to an elastic back waistband hack.  It has an exposed zipper, but you could omit that and change the back waistband.  Can you tell I’m into the elastic waists this season?

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

This is a different look, but I have two of the Short Skirts in my closet from Natalie Chanin’s book Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.  This is an A-line skirt made from four panels that sits low on your hips.  The top edge is covered with fold over elastic, and because it’s meant to be made from jersey, you can leave the bottom unfinished.  Despite its name, this skirt is actually knee-length on me.  Created before I started blogging, these garments are great everyday skirts if you make the basic, unadorned version.  I have one made from a knit sheet and another patched together from a few coordinating t-shirts.  While you certainly can sew these by hand and heavily embellish them, if you use the pattern and sew them on your machine, they are very quick and forgiving projects.  Just a little thought if speed is your aim.

I would also love any maxi skirt suggestions.  I made the ankara one recently, and I like wearing it, but I’m open to trying other ideas as well.

Dresses

Last year I made the Hannah Dress from Victory Patterns, and I still love it.  (Here’s a link to the pattern.)

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

This falls into the ‘more complex, but very fascinating’ category.  It’s some serious pattern origami.

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

I don’t think I’ll make it again this year, but I would love to make it again in a cotton or linen at some point since the rayon challis I used shifted and puckered quite a bit.

Here’s a dress that looks like a good everyday dress:  the Forsythe Dress from French Navy Patterns.  I like that it’s loose, has pockets, and has interesting seam lines that you could use to feature fun fabric (stripes, maybe?) if you wanted to.

I’d love a good maxi dress pattern.  Any suggestions?  Something really flowy would be nice.  I just realized that all the long, beautiful dress pictures I’ve saved on my “Fashion Ideas for this Year’s Projects” Pinterest board all have long sleeves.  Hm…

Of course, once you get started with ideas, they never end.  I went a little crazy planning projects and managed to completely exhaust my brain, so I’m trying to slow myself down just a little and do some easier projects to take a little break.  I’ll also be taking a break from the blog in July.  I plan to post next week, and then will take July off, and maybe even a little bit of August.  We’ll see.  I hope you all have a great summer and if you have favorite summer sewing patterns or patterns you are excited about and are thinking of making, please leave me your ideas in the comments.  I love new sewing ideas!

 

 

 

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Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric…and the End of Spring Sewing

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Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric…and the End of Spring Sewing

It feels like it took the entire spring season, but I finally finished this batch of projects.  Well, ok, I didn’t finish the muslins, but do I have to count those?  This dress, Burda Style 7114, was the last “real” garment (since muslins are proto-garments in my mind).  It represents some of my best and worst sewing.  Let me explain…

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

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Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

I did some things I’m really good at, and they turned out well.  Some of my seam finishes are great, and I even managed to grade the pattern up beyond what the size range of the pattern is–something I haven’t done before.  I also tried some new things or tried things differently and, frankly, they look pretty bad, but I’m leaving them.  I tried a different method for the single welt pockets and I tried to do machine blind hems on the sleeves and hem.  I’ve only done each of these things one or two times, and I think they turned out terribly, but (1.) I’m still the only one who will really notice, (2.) I wanted to finish this dress, and (3.) maybe this is me putting a glossy coating on my own impatience, but this is where I’m at with these techniques, and I think leaving them is a reminder that I have to start somewhere.  We don’t start out as experts, we start as beginners.  And it’s definitely a humbling thing to become a beginner again when you are getting fairly proficient in other areas.

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

I have had this pattern for a long time.

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

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Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

I looked at it and planned to make it over and over without really committing.  I love the look and shape, but I was intimidated by Burda Style patterns because I hadn’t tried them before.  So this spring, (after breaking the Burda Style barrier with my Burda Style 7084 dirndl in the fall) I finally put it on my list.  I’m also realizing how much really good fabric I have that I want to use, so I dug deep in the stash and pulled out some old Amy Butler fabric that was originally earmarked for reupholstering our couch 9 years ago.  We went with a neutral color for the couch, which meant that this has hung out in my stash since before I started sewing regularly.  I thought it would make a good first-try-fabric for this pattern since it has that fun, retro look to it just like the dress.  And you know what?  I really like it.  I didn’t know if I would like this dress until I put it on to take pictures, but I really do.  It’s comfortable and interesting.

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

I traced the 18, which was the largest size, and then I did my best to grade the waist out to what would be a 20 and the hips to a 22.  I used the size 18 sleeve.  Burda’s sizing isn’t the same as McCall’s or Simplicity’s or the other Big 4 companies.  They have their own system.  In order to grade up, I looked at how the pattern looked as it went from one size to another and did my best to imitate that.

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

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Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

I also did a major broad back adjustment.

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

I couldn’t find the 24″ zipper the pattern called for, so I used a 22″ zipper.  This worked out just fine.  I also tried using a light grey thread since I didn’t have any that matched.

Here are my notes on the pattern.

  • Seam allowances are included in the Burda Style paper patterns (which you can get at JoAnn Fabrics), unlike in Burda magazine.  Yay!
  • I tried to follow the directions for the most part, hoping to learn some new techniques and accustom myself to how Burda Style patterns work, since I have several I would like to try at some point.  I really do think there is probably a better welt pocket method, however.  I think next time I will look in one of the sewing reference books I have or at another pattern and try something different.

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

  • I tried the machine blind hem instead of sewing by hand as directed since I wanted to learn that technique.  Not pretty, but if I keep practicing, I’ll get it eventually.

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

  • There was a lot of basting before sewing your final seams, and while it’s a great idea, and I did it at first, by the time I was half way through the pattern, I realized I didn’t need to baste quite as much as the pattern told me to.
  • The other part where I deviated from the instructions was installing the invisible zipper.  I think the directions that came with the zipper were more detailed, so I followed those.  I kept messing it up, though, (reading directions AND looking at the pictures is a better idea than reading alone, in case you are wondering) and I had to put the zipper in FOUR times.  The words I wanted to say at that point aren’t ones I will type out, but I did go off on a rant to my husband about how I was only sewing easy things and repeat patterns after this.  And by the way, this had nothing to do with the directions in the pattern or the zipper packaging.  It was 100% operator error.  I think it came out well in the end, thankfully.

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

But…I persevered, and I finished!  I wasn’t sure if all my adjustments had worked and if the dress would fit, but I tried it on after washing out all the sewing marker, and it did!  I wasn’t sure if I would like the dress, but I do.  I like a shift/A-line style, and the pockets are pretty great, too.  After making this version (Version A), I think I would try this again and maybe make Version B, which is sleeveless.  It has kind of a fun and interesting look.

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

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Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

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Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

And now it’s time for SUMMER SEWING!!!  I’m so excited.  I love summer sewing.  I just want to make loose, easy linen or cotton tops.  All the linen!  All the cotton!

OK.  That probably won’t be all I make, but it might be.  I don’t have firm plans yet, so we’ll see!

Recommendations

  • I found a new sewing/crafting podcast!  I’ve been listening to Stitcher’s Brew, and it’s so fun!  This one is based in England, so it’s a great chance to get to know about the sewing scene that is happening there. Gabby and Megan seem like they have a great time together, which makes the podcast really fun to listen to.
  • I meant to post this article on making great collar points last week, but forgot about it. In “How to Make a Perfect Point”, shirtmaking expert David Page Coffin shares his experiments in collar points with us.  I think about this every time I turn my collars right side out.
  • I think costume design is so interesting.  Here is an intriguing article about “The Afrofuturistic Designs of ‘Black Panther'”.  I had heard the costumes in “Black Panther” were good, and I wasn’t disappointed.
  • Think you have a lot to worry about?  How about the plight of the humble marshmallow farmer in North Carolina? 😉

 

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

Today’s project was a struggle!  Thankfully, I can report that it ended happily, but it was a long process getting there.

The challenge:  could I make jeans I liked using the denim I had, which was less than what the pattern called for?  Armed with my Denim Pinterest board and ideas from the Refashioners 2016 jeans challenge, I was ready to take this one on!

I decided to use the Morgan Boyfriend Jeans Pattern from Closet Case Patterns since I had non-stretch denim.

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

Idea one was all about a casual, patchy look.  I love clothes that are casual, lived in, and durable.  I decided to cut as much of the top of the jeans as I could from the denim I had left over from my Jutland cutoffs from last year and my Lander Pants.  I would use the worn out jeans we had around the house (kept for patch jobs) to construct the bottoms of the pants.

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

This seemed like a great idea, and looked really cool on my sewing table.

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

Unfortunately, when I put them on, my cool, patched legs became something akin to denim leg warmers attached to jeans made of thin and much more flexible denim.

Fail.

On the advice of some very wise friends who, although not sewists themselves, often help me troubleshoot my projects, I took the pants bottoms off, and moved them up higher so the pants would end around my ankles.

Everything looked good on the work table again, but when I put them on, the denim leg warmer look was back, and it wasn’t a good thing.  It was time to abandon that idea.

Option two was cropped pants with a raw edge, back slightly longer than the front.  One look told me this wasn’t a good option on these particular jeans.

Fail.

Time to come up with a third option.  At this point, my eldest daughter had a great idea. I could use some of the anchor fabric I was using for my pocket bags on the inside bottom of my pant legs so that I would have cropped pants that could be rolled up to reveal the cute print on the fabric.

I loved this idea!  It wasn’t too hard to execute, and it looked great.  The fabric, with its cute anchors and hearts is directional, so I had to think about that as I planned it out.  Thankfully, I got it right the first try.  The pants are shorter than most cropped pants you see today, but I like them.  They are great for spring and cooler summer days.

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

Things were finally on track.  I just had to put on my waistband and back pockets.  I put the waistband on and…they didn’t fit.  And I had trimmed my side seams.  Oh no!

I tried letting the side seams out the little bit that I could, but it just wasn’t enough.  I couldn’t understand it.  I thought they had fit, but when I really examined what I had done, I realized that I must have been close to a 14 waist or between sizes, so I traced a 14 waist and 16 hip when I should have just done a straight size 16.

I wanted to give up, but I was so close to being done.  I decided to try one more thing, and if that didn’t work, I would give the pants away.  I added little triangle wedges at the top of each side seam using the same striped fabric I had used in my pocket facings, but turning the stripes perpendicular.

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

I lengthened my waistband at the end so that I wouldn’t change the curve (I had also added a dart at the center back to prevent gaping, and I didn’t want to change that either).  Then I finished everything up, tried them on, and…THEY FIT!  They fit well!  And they were pretty cute!  I was so happy.

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

I think I seam-ripped everything on those pants at least once–more in a lot of places.  I am so, so glad they are done, but also really happy to have a pair of fun jeans that I like, AND to have used up so many scraps.  Not only was my denim left over from other projects, so was the anchor fabric (I used it to make this shirt) and the striped fabric (I used the other side as my right side when I made the striped shorts in this post).  I even used a leather scrap to make a little patch.  Yay!

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

As for the pattern itself, I liked it, and would make it again.  I like the button fly, which is different from other jeans that I have, and the comfortable fit (once I got the sizing right).

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

I have a few more detail-oriented projects in my queue, but after that, I might need a palate-cleanser of easy projects!  With family sickness (now better), projects that weren’t straightforward, and several muslins (still unsewn), spring sewing has been a bit of a slog.  Even with that, though, I still love sewing.  I’m excited to finish up these last few things and get down to easy and/or summer sewing!  Bring it on!  (If only I can narrow down my ideas!)

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

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Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

It’s finally time to post this project.  Here is the big takeaway for me:  I love this bag.  I did not love making this bag.

I made the Portside Duffle from Grainline Studio to take on a weekend retreat, and it was perfect for that.  I finished with time to spare, and it was so much fun to have handmade luggage to take along with me.  I really love how it turned out. (I also learned that both “duffle” and “duffel” are correct ways to spell this word, so I’ll go with “duffle” for this post.)

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

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Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

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Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

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Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

I was inspired in my color choices by this excellent bag on the Skirt As Top blog.  Mine is a little different, but the influence is pretty clear.  Her version is great!

The process of making it presented a number of challenges, however.

Materials

The first challenge for me was my inexperience with bag-making.  I decided to only make the duffle, as I was under a deadline, but because I’ve made so few bags, I was really stuck on how to choose things like interfacing and my zipper.  You know how it is when you are just starting out–you really need things spelled out.  I know how to shorten a zipper on a pair of pants or a skirt, but what if you can’t find the exact zipper length for a bag?  And do you need a separating or non-separating zipper?  Does it even matter?

As it turned out, the length specified (21 inches) is very hard to find.  What I did find out is that when you run into this situation, you can buy a longer zipper and shorten it, and a separating zipper is just fine (I’m pretty sure you can use separating or non-separating).  This may seem obvious, but it was something I didn’t know and had to learn.  Luckily I had a longer zipper in my stash, so I was able to use that.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

The other area that confused me was the interfacing.  I looked around online for ideas, but it was all so overwhelming!  I had no idea there were so many kinds of interfacing (and stabilizer!) or so many things you could do with the interfacing.  You can even combine interfacings!  Here is what I ended up using:  for the bottom, I bought 2/3 of a yard of 20″ wide Pellon Peltex 71F Single-Sided Fusible Ultra Firm Stabilizer.  (The bottom pattern piece of this bag is 21 5/8″ x 12 3/8″.) For the sides/top of the bag I used Pellon 809 Decor Bond (Firm Iron-on Backing with Extra Crispness).  My bottom fabric (the gold) was heavier than my top fabric (the off-white), so I used one layer of interfacing on both, but also added a layer of quilting-weight fabric to the top portion, like the way you might underline a garment.  I did not interface the striped pocket on the outside or my lining fabric.  I bought all my interfacing and stabilizer at JoAnn Fabrics.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

In case you also struggle with the interfacing/stabilizer question, I found some helpful information in this article on sew4home.com:  “Top Interfacing Solutions For Bags and Totes:  Fabric Depot“, as well as this one from Sew Sweetness: “All About Bag Interfacing“.  Sew Sweetness had a lot of good information for bag-makers of all experience levels.

Cost-Saving Strategies

The other area that I struggled with was the overall cost of this project.  I tend to have a pretty limited budget, so cost is always a factor.  When I started to realize how much the pattern, fabric, and hardware could cost, I decided to get creative and see where I could save money.  Here is what I did.

I decided to make my own straps all with a width of 1.5″, rather than some at 1.25″ and some at 1.5″.  This would also allow me to use the 1.5″ D-rings I had in my stash rather than buying 1.25″ D-rings which I didn’t have (and which were harder to find).  There were two books that I found really helpful as I dug into the details of this project.  The first was On-the-Go-Bags by Lindsay Conner and Janelle MacKay, which helped me see that I actually could make my own straps (something I didn’t know as a newbie to bag-making).  The other book, which was the most helpful, was The Better Bag Maker by Nicole Mallalieu, which was filled with all sorts of helpful information.  If you sewed through this book, you would come out the other side with a lot of bag-making knowledge and skills.

I also realized that since I had so many D-rings (I have no idea why I have so many!), I could use those instead of the swivel bolt snaps/hooks the pattern called for, and join them with a carabiner since we had a few little carabiners in the house.  I didn’t end up making the leather zipper pulls.  I was kind of hoping I would find something in the jewelry section of the craft store to go with my lining, but I didn’t find anything I liked, so I skipped it.

The next thing to consider was fabric.  In case you are wondering, Fabric A on the pattern is your lower fabric and Fabric B is your upper fabric.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

The off-white and striped fabrics came from my stash, and I ordered the gold bottom fabric from Fabric Mart when it was on sale (love that store!).  I think that 2/3 of a yard of 54″ or 57″ fabric for the bottom (Fabric A) would have been enough, although if you use a print, you may want more so that you can position it just how you want it.  The pattern calls for 1.25 yards of 54″ wide fabric.  This amount of fabric turned out to be helpful in making my straps, so I’m glad I had extra for that (I probably ordered 1.5 yards).

I also used a quilting cotton from my stash (with octopi!) for the lining, which saved me money.  I had been looking for just the right thing to use this fabric on and now I have both octopus pants and a bag with a surprise lining!  (This fabric, by Cotton + Steel, and my pattern came from Pintuck & Purl.)

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

Construction

I’m going to share some technical details in this section, so feel free to skip it if that isn’t helpful to you.

***One important note:  I think there may be an error on pattern piece #4 (the side, bottom piece).  I would think that where it says “strap placement”, it would line up with the strap on the piece above it, but as printed, it looks like that text is on the bottom of the piece…where no strap is supposed to go.  I decided to ignore the strap placement marking and assumed that was the bottom of the piece (so that the words are right side up as printed).

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

Also, you can skip the part in the directions about choosing your size.  This duffle only comes in one size.

In Steps 6 and 8, I used Steam-A-Seam 2, 1/4″ (double stick fusible tape) to hold things in place before sewing them down.  This wasn’t perfect because the bond was pretty light, but it was still helpful.

In Step 11, I used a zipper foot to sew the zipper in.

For Step 12, I found this blog post from Handmade By Carolyn very helpful.  She suggests leaving the last half-inch at the bottom of your sides and end panels unsewn to help with attaching the bottoms.  Press your seams toward the end panels after sewing.

In Step 13, sew the long sides first and then the short sides.

Before beginning Step 14, I think you should flip the bag so right sides are out (at least that is what I did).  The tip in the instructions about using your machine’s free arm is helpful here.  Even with that, though, this step is hard if you have heavy interfacing in the bag!  What worked for me was to sew a side, backstitch, cut the threads, and then move on to the next side.

For Step 16, as in Step 12, do not sew the bottom 1/2″ of each seam so it will be easier to attach to the bottom in the next step.

I did not do Step 18 as written.  Instead, I used Steam-A-Seam 2, 1/4″ to baste the lining to the zipper and used Wonder Clips to help hold it because the Steam-A-Seam isn’t very strong (something different would have been better, I think).  Then I basted outer fabric, zipper, and lining togewith my machine, with the lining up.  I just sort of tacked the ends because my machine didn’t love sewing over the zipper.  Then I sewed the long sides with a zipper foot and the bag’s outside facing up (in other words, I topstitched).  I tried to sew over the zipper ends, which was somewhat successful, so I also hand-tacked the lining to the zipper tape by the zipper ends.  Use a thimble for this!

In Step 19, I wasn’t able to fold the raw edges under, since the straps I had made were so thick.  I used Fray Check on both ends and then zigzagged over them before stitching them down as in the directions.  It’s not as professional as I would like, but it should work.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

In Step 20, I think it should say “tops of the rings” rather than “top of the top ring” in the second sentence.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

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Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

At this point, I used more D-rings rather than swivel clips.  I attached the D-rings to each other with mini carabiners.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

After Step 20, I tried to tack the lining to the bag by sewing two parallel lines across the width of the bag on the bottom and by sewing for an inch or two on top of one of my stitching lines on each strap.  The lining doesn’t look smooth inside, but at least it won’t billow out now.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

I didn’t do Step 21, even though I think the leather zipper pulls are a nice touch.

Random Issue

One thing that happened that was unrelated to the pattern was that when I used my yellow Chaco Liner on the off-white part of my bag, it didn’t wash off afterward (I ran it through the washer and dryer).  I saw this once before when I was at a jeans workshop and someone used yellow Chaco Liner on white denim, and it also didn’t brush off.  Normally I don’t have any problems with the yellow, and it doesn’t bother me too much in this case, but it’s something to be aware of.  (You can faintly see it in the picture below.  It’s faint, but it’s there.)

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

So, there you go!  I hope this is helpful to someone out there.  I know I spent a lot of time hunting down blog posts about this pattern and searching the web for information and materials.  Hopefully this will save someone some time should you decide to go for it and make this bag.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

Recommendations

This week’s recommendations are all bag-related!

Do you have any favorite bag patterns?  I still enjoy sewing clothing the most, but I’m opening up to the idea of sewing a bag here and there.

Attempted: Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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Attempted:  Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

This week’s project was an attempt to tick several boxes:  using some of my fabric stash, making a maxi skirt, and learning another method for adding side-seam pockets to garments.  I wanted a basic design–rectangles gathered into a waistband, but a waistband with an elastic back so it would be really comfortable.  This seemed like a brilliant way to use the last three yards of ankara (also known as wax print) fabric that I had bought a few years ago, but it also preserved the fabric in nearly whole form in case things didn’t work out, since it’s just large gathered rectangles.  (In case you are curious, I also made a shirt and a pair of shorts from this fabric.)

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

For my starting point, I used the Elastic Back Skirt Tutorial from Cashmerette.  I got this some time ago by signing up for their newsletter.  I also used the Ankara Skirt Tutorial from the KLKC Collections blog.  These tutorials were helpful in guiding me through what math I would need to get the result that I wanted, which was a waistband that looked flat in the front and was elastic in the back, with a finished height of two inches.  I made the flat front wrap slightly to the back before incorporating the elastic.  So far, so good. This wasn’t too difficult.

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

But I wanted pockets.  That’s where things got tricky.

I used the directions found in “The Low Profile Pocket” by Kathleen Cheetham in Threads magazine, issue #195 (Feb./Mar. 2018), p. 36-41 (the pocket pattern piece is available on the Threads website).  This article was excellent!

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

I sewed my BEST in-seam pockets to date.

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

However…

The article has you sew part of the pockets and the side seams together before attaching the waistband.  My skirt tutorials have you construct the front and back separately and then sew the side seams.  So I had a quandary.

I wanted to interface the front of my waistband and then fold it over, covering the seam allowance at the top of my gathered skirt so everything would look nice and neat.  I couldn’t quite figure out how to cover those seam allowances with all the other things I had to take into consideration.

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

What ensued was a lot of thinking about process, and adapting.  I was going to write it all out for you, but it’s a lot.

The end result is some good sewing and some ugly sewing.  One thing I’m really glad I thought about was how to keep the back elastic stretchy.  In order to do that, I sewed with a zigzag stitch while stretching my elastic, but choosing two-inch wide elastic and gathering 53″ of fabric per panel adds up to a lot of bulk.

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

I got it done in the end, but I’m going to have to wear this a bit to decide if I like it.

Here are the pros and cons.

Pro:

  • nice, full, dramatic, long skirt
  • having pockets that disappear beautifully (and trying a new technique!)
  • general structure:  flat front, elastic back, pockets
  • using a bunch of stash fabric in one fell swoop
  • if I don’t like this, my fabric is still nearly whole and can be reused

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

Things that would have made this project easier:

  • omitting the pockets or sewing different ones
  • assembling the front and back separately (need to alter pocket directions or use a different method)

Things that could have been better:

  • place the pockets lower
  • make pocket opening wider (it’s a close fit to get my hands in and out)

Other options I could have used:

  • narrower waistband, which would have allowed for narrower elastic
  • elastic + zipper at the back and less gathered fabric to reduce bulk

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

So, I like and don’t like this skirt.

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

It’s really bulky at the waist, which I don’t love, but I love the drama of the big skirt and being able to see that much of the fabric at once.  I love the length that I can wear leggings under if necessary.  I do think that there is probably a nicer way to produce a comfortable maxi skirt with pockets (if you have pattern recommendations, please leave them in the comments!).  I feel mixed about this one.  We’ll see  how it fares over time or if I remake it.  If you have ever made a maxi skirt, feel free to share a link in the comments so I can see.  I’d like a good TNT maxi skirt and maxi dress pattern I can use over and over.

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

 

 

 

Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants…in Octopus fabric

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Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants…in Octopus fabric

Hi, everyone!  Let’s talk sewing!

Today’s project is Simplicity 1696, a slim pant/trouser pattern that comes with different pattern pieces for slim/average and curvy fit.  (I think it may be out of print, but you can still find it in various places on the internet.)  I’ve made this pattern once before in a gray stretch sateen, but this time, I decided to go beyond basic and use a fun print for my pants–octopi!  This fabric is a quilting cotton called Mystery Food by Cotton + Steel.  I’ve had some serious yardage of this from Pintuck & Purl for a long time now, and it was time to start using it.  I can always sew (or buy) normal clothes, but I’m not here to only sew normal clothes.  Sometimes, I just have to make the crazy stuff.  It takes more courage to wear, but it’s also really fun.

Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

So, let’s talk pants (or trousers, if you prefer)!  This is a great pattern.  The directions have a little worksheet for you to help you figure out if you need the slim/average or curvy back piece.  I really like the teaching aspect of this pattern.

Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

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Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

I took all my measurements and found that the curvy piece would be best.  This time around I used the size 20 because my measurements have gone up a bit and because this quilting cotton is a non-stretch fabric, whereas the fabric I used last time had stretch.  I really like the ease that’s included in most of the Big 4 patterns because I like my clothes a little looser-fitting, however I think I probably could have stayed with the 18 on this one.  When these come out of the washer and dryer, they fit close, but they loosen up right away and can get a little baggy by the end of the day.  The good news is, they are very comfortable.

Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

Although I really like this pattern, and think it’s a great basic, there were a few parts of the directions that I had trouble with, so this is the part to skip if you’re not here for the details.

Details

The main issue I had was with the fly.  It’s not hard to put it in, but it really doesn’t overlap enough.  I want the zipper to sit deeper in the fly so that it doesn’t show when it’s closed.  I think next time I might study the Ginger Jeans directions (from Closet Case Patterns) to see how they did it and see if I can adapt it to this pattern.  I have a really hard time going “off-book” sometimes and not using the directions given.  It’s an area I can stand to grow in, so this may be a good opportunity.  My zipper went in ok, but there’s stitching all over the place, which looks ugly to me.  Who knows?  Maybe I missed something.

Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

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Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

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Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

I did depart from the directions in Step 20.  Rather than hand-basting the fly in place, I pinned on the outside and carefully stitched over the marked seamline with a clear embroidery foot.

I also did something funky with the waistband, cutting off some excess that I needed, which I soon realized, and sewed back on.  You can see it in the first zipper picture above.  Haha!  Sometimes I make ridiculous mistakes.  I have no idea what that was about, but the crazy print camouflages a lot, so it’s ok.

I omitted the faux welt pockets on the back.  Maybe someday, if I try to perfect this pattern, I’ll add real welt pockets.  The fake welts just look too fake to me.

Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

Fitting

This is definitely an area I have to work on, but one great thing about this pattern is that there is a “Fine Tuning as You Sew” section that gives you an order for your fitting and different things you might need to tweak.

Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

I took in the center back seam by 1/2″.  I needed more back thigh room (at least that was my guess, judging by some of the lines in the back), so I minimized the inseam seam allowances at the top.  I also sewed a deeper crotch curve in the back.  Sometimes when you do that, you have to add more width at the hip, but these were roomy enough that I didn’t have to.  There are still some lines radiating out from the back at the top of the thighs, but I just left them.  The additional thigh room helped a little, but I’m not sure how to make them disappear completely, so for now they are good enough.  Pants fitting is still not something that I have down, but I’m learning!

Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

Final Thoughts

I like these pants a lot, but they do look a bit like pajama pants to me.  It’s hard to see the darts and the pockets because everything just blends together with the print.  I’d be curious to see how these look in a twill bottomweight fabric.  By the way–in case you are wondering–the pockets on these pants are great.  They are nice and roomy, and don’t stick out too much.

Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

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Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

I still feel like I have a little work to do in the fitting department.  I have my usual fitting quandary with these, which is that I think something is off, but I don’t know what it is or how to fix it.  It might be that I need a heavier fabric or maybe something that I’m not yet aware of.  Fitting in general feels a little bit like reaching around in the dark and hoping you can figure out what it is you just bumped into.  Every little light that you manage to shed on it helps, though.

Overall, I’m glad I made these pants, and will be curious to see how well this fabric holds up as pants and how much I wear these.  I would definitely make this pattern again in the future.

Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

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Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

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Simplicity 1696 Slim Pants...in Octopus fabric

Recommendations

  • This one is for those who are local to the North Shore of Massachusetts (or for anyone traveling here).  My husband and I tried George’s of Gloucester (I guess it’s technically called George’s Coffee Shop) a little while ago, and it was great!  The menu was really creative, you definitely won’t leave hungry, and the people working there seem to be happy to be there.  I’m really noticing places like that these days–you can tell when the employees are happy, and it affects everyone around them in a good way.
  • I just saw “Night Sky” petunias at one of my local nurseries and found them really striking.  They make me think of speckled enamelware or splatter painting (or, of course, a night sky).  I’m not usually a petunia fan, but these might end up in my garden this year.  Clearly I’m in a speckle phase.
  • I love Erica Bunker’s version of McCall’s 7330.  I just bought this jumpsuit pattern, and I love how she made the waistband with elastic and used industrial snaps.  So smart!
  • And now it’s time for some tiny hands!  Check out this tiny hands makeup tutorial.  I don’t wear makeup, but this is so funny, it doesn’t even matter.

Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat in Duck Canvas and Broadcloth

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Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat in Duck Canvas and Broadcloth

This is a case of unselfish sewing, surprising though it may be.  😉  Today’s project is the Belvedere Waistcoat (vest) from Thread Theory Designs.

Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

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Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

I made this vest for my husband before Christmas, and we were both very happy with how it turned out.  In buying this pattern, I broke one of my norms, and bought a PDF pattern, which is not my preference, but after looking around at the available patterns, and even buying a Vogue pattern, we realized that this was the one my husband really wanted.  At this point, it is only available as a PDF.  This is a great pattern because there are two options:  an easy waistcoat, and a tailored waistcoat, so if you are a beginner or are looking for a quick vest pattern, you’re covered.  If you want to delve deeper and try your hand at something involving tailoring, welt pockets, etc., you’re also covered.

Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

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Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

We were inspired to use canvas by a friend’s vest, purchased from Historical Emporium, which is also made of canvas.  My husband isn’t very formal, so he liked the idea of a vest that was both detailed and sturdy.  I had leftover brown duck canvas from the first pair of cargo pants I made him (Thread Theory’s Jutland Pants), and so rather than making a muslin, we decided on a wearable muslin in this fabric.  I found an inexpensive poly/cotton broadcloth at JoAnn Fabrics to use as a lining as well as the buttons I needed.  We were ready!

Luckily the fit was great, and the only things we would do differently next time are to lengthen the torso by two inches since he is tall with a long torso, and take a small wedge (about 5/8″) out of the center back seam, tapering it to nothing 5″ up from the bottom.  Luckily the wedge adjustment was something we were able to do while this version was in progress, and it really improved the fit for him.  Now that I’m thinking about it, some higher quality interfacing would also be a good idea next time.

Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

Like any time I sew for someone else, I usually procrastinate a bit.  I think I’m worried about the garment fitting and, in this case, I wasn’t sure how complex this pattern would be.  I was happy to see that when I finally got into it, if I just followed the directions step by step, I made it through just fine.

One part where I ran into a little bit of trouble (which was completely my own fault) was when I was clipping the seams where the front of the vest and the facing join. On one side I wasn’t very careful and I clipped through not only the seam allowance, but also the facing.

Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

It took me a few deep breaths and some thought to figure out how to fix that one, since I didn’t want it to unravel.  I settled on sewing some bias tape over it, and it was fine.  (Thank goodness!)

Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

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Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

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Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

Next time I’ll be more careful.

I found it helpful when making the welt pockets (which went just fine, thankfully) to use a zipper foot when sewing over the little triangle tabs at the side.  This helped me get as close as possible to the base of the triangle.  I haven’t made many welt pockets before, so I was happy with how these turned out.

Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

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Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

We also decided to add in the optional side vents, which turned out well.

Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

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Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

We decided to leave the last (non-functioning) buttonhole off the bottom of the waistcoat.  It was his preference to only have functional buttonholes, and since this is for him, I wanted to make it just how he wanted it.

Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

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Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

I’m so happy to report that he loves it and it looks terrific on him!  When it was finished, and I saw it on him, I really felt it was something I could be proud of.  That’s a great feeling.

Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

While I did get him to agree to let me snap a few pictures of him wearing it, I know it’s not his favorite thing to do, and I’m anxious to blog this project before I forget the details.  If I end up getting a good picture of him wearing it, I’ll update the post.  At some point, I hope to make him another version with the modifications we noted for next time using higher quality materials.

Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

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Belvedere Waistcoat in duck canvas and broadcloth

 

 

 

Simplicity 4111 (Built by Wendy) Top in “Winged” Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 (Built by Wendy) Top in “Winged” Fabric

I am so glad to be here sharing sewing projects with you again!  It feels like it’s been forever since I published a sewing project post!  Today’s was almost without photos of the garment in action, because I couldn’t find the pictures I had taken of the shirt while I was wearing it.  Oh, blog photography!  It’s definitely the most challenging part of blogging for me.

Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

Today I want to talk about Simplicity 4111, a pattern that is out of print but, I would argue, still in style.  This pattern is a Built by Wendy pattern (although the line is technically called “Built by You”), a collaboration between designer Wendy Mullin and Simplicity.  I’ve had this pattern for ages, since before I started sewing regularly, but haven’t made it until now.  I paired it with a fabric I’ve also had for some time:  “Aves Chatter Dim” from the “Winged” collection by Bonnie Christine for Art Gallery Fabrics, bought a few years ago at The Material Girls in Dearborn, MI.  Originally I planned to make a button up shirt with it (because most woven cotton fabric looks like it would make a good button up shirt to me, actually), but in the end, I think this was a better use for it.

Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

After measuring the flat pattern, I determined that I wouldn’t need a broad back adjustment.  You can bet I was pretty thrilled, albeit skeptical about that.  I cut a size 16 bust, 18 waist, and 20 hip, and chose to make View B with long sleeves.  I wasn’t sure where the elastic that is supposed to sit under the bust would hit, but I decided to just go for it.

Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

It is so interesting that you can both love and not love how a pattern turns out.  This shirt in this fabric is so, so beautiful to me.  I love it.  However…I really did need that broad back adjustment (next time!) and the under-bust elastic is a little high for me, giving the shirt a curious bust-minimizing effect.  To be fair, this is the look on the pattern envelope, but I would prefer the elastic a little lower.  After running it by my friends at Sip & Stitch, this is what I think I need to adjust for next time:  do my normal major broad back adjustment for comfort and lower the front elastic by an inch or so.  Thanks (again!) to Stacy, who really knows her stuff when it comes to fitting and pattern drafting.

Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

Here are a few detail shots:

Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

So, I kind of want to make this again in the next few months while simultaneously regretting that I don’t love the fit on the beautiful shirt that I have.  I’m going to try to wear it anyway.  What sort of fabric should I use for round two?!  (I love planning projects!!!)

After making this, I got on a little bit of a Built by Wendy kick and looked up Wendy Mullin, her work, and her patterns and books, and I have to say that a number of her patterns are ones that I really like.  Thanks to this rabbit hole, I purchased two of her patterns: Simplicity 3966 on Etsy and Simplicity 4109 on eBay.  Maybe 3966 would make a good spring jacket and 4109 could be the basis of a wool shirt jacket?  Both of these and their many possibilities are currently kicking around in my head.  If/When I use them, I will report back.  🙂

Recommendations

  • Thanks to the Wednesday Weekly blog post from Helen’s Closet, I am finding so many new things!  One I am really excited about is the free Stash Shrinker Excel file from SewJourners that you can use to help you sew the fabric you already have before buying more.  I have so much good fabric in my stash, but I get distracted by all the new and pretty things that come along and sometimes my good buys of yesterday languish.  I’m hoping this will help me bring that fabric goodness to my closet instead of losing it in my fabric cabinet.  😉
  • Since we were talking about Built by Wendy, did you know she has four instructional sewing books?  I currently have them checked out of the library.  I just love flipping through craft and cook books.  In case you want to check them out, too, they are:  Sew U, Sew U Homestretch, Sew U Dresses, and Sew U Coats and Jackets.  They each come with several patterns.  You can also find them used at various spots online.
  • Here’s a fun time-waster for you!  The Akinator will guess any movie or literary character you can think of (although I have tricked him a few times!).  Give it a try.  It’s pretty amazing.  Just make sure to check the “under 13” option if you are using the site with kids.
  • Here is a sport I never even imagined!  Welcome to the world of cycle-ball:

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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.  🙂