Tag Archives: sewing

I Finally Tried It: City Gym Shorts from Purl Soho

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I Finally Tried It:  City Gym Shorts from Purl Soho

Hi, everyone!  It’s been a little while, but I finally have some finished projects to share that are slowly getting photographed.  I usually work in batches and I love it when I get to the sewing part of a batch because it feels like I’m quickly turning out projects.  What it really means is that I spent a lot of time planning, tracing, and cutting a bunch of things, but it still feels great to finish several projects in a row.  One of the projects in this latest batch is a popular free pattern that has been around for almost six years, but that I hadn’t tried.  This year it was finally time to jump on board since I really need some shorts…and elastic-waist shorts sound amazing.  The pattern is the City Gym Shorts for All Ages from Purl Soho.

City Gym Shorts made from vintage sheets

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City Gym Shorts made from vintage sheets

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City Gym Shorts made from vintage sheets

This pattern comes in a range of kids’ and adult sizes.  It was published before PDF patterns were as popular as they are now, so it and the directions look a little different from what you might commonly see today, but I think they are still good.  I used the largest women’s size.  Although I’ve purchased a small amount of fabric in the last several months, I’m mostly trying to use what I have on hand as much as possible, so I pulled out some vintage sheets and some bias tape I had as well as whatever thread was closest in color to my fabric, and got started.  I had to buy some elastic, but that was it.

City Gym Shorts made from vintage sheets

The directions were pretty straightforward, although the seam allowance is only 1/4″, so keep that in mind or your shorts won’t fit as expected.  The nice thing about this smaller-than-usual seam allowance is that you won’t have to trim your seams.  I didn’t bother too much with making my sewing look pretty for this version, except where I sewed on the bias tape.  The goal was to finish these quickly so I could try them out.

City Gym Shorts made from vintage sheets

The one thing I changed was the waistband.  I plan to follow the directions if I make this pattern again, but for this pair, I wanted to use the folded over edge at the top of the sheet as my casing.  That did make the casing a bit wider than what is called for, so I anchored my elastic by sewing through the waistband at the sides, front, and back so it wouldn’t flip around in the wash or while I’m wearing the shorts.

City Gym Shorts made from vintage sheets

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City Gym Shorts made from vintage sheets

Once I finished the shorts and tried them on, my initial thoughts were that these were pretty good!  I liked the length and found them pretty comfortable.  I thought that if I made them again, they should have pockets (of course!) and possibly a bit of a full seat adjustment and back crotch length extension as well as possibly a bit more ease (maybe I would grade up one size).  After wearing them for awhile, though, I think all those things (except the pockets) are things that might improve this pattern slightly for me, but aren’t things I absolutely have to do to enjoy wearing these shorts.  I’m really happy with them.

City Gym Shorts made from vintage sheets

Speaking of pockets, if you have tried this pattern or want to try it, but also want somewhere to hold your keys or phone, I found this post on the Zaaberry Handmade blog that covers her variation of this pattern and includes how to add pockets (she links to a tutorial she created for adding pockets).  In her version, she eliminates the bias binding.  If you want slash pockets, but want to keep the bias binding, you could check out this post over on the All Wrapped Up blog.  What I haven’t found is anyone who added inseam pockets and kept the bias binding.  Those are the lines I was thinking along, although I also really like what each of the these women did, so I would be open to either pocket style (slash or inseam).

One tip I have is that if you are running short on matching bias tape, attach what you have to the front side seams first as most of the back side seams will be covered and you could easily hide mismatched bias tape there if you wanted to.

City Gym Shorts made from vintage sheets

I think the City Gym Shorts pattern would be a good one for a beginner.  It doesn’t have too many pieces or things like buttons or zippers, and you can make it out of quilting cotton or even old sheets, like I did.  You can purchase bias tape or learn to make your own, so it’s a good skill builder while still being completely doable.  And for the seasoned sewist, it’s a fun and quick project with lots of possibilities to customize the end product.

Last Summer’s Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited: Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

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Last Summer’s Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

I got dress-obsessed this spring and wanted to sew all the boho, ruffled, yoked, big-sleeved dresses.  It’s one of my summer goals to wear more dresses, so after sifting through many, many patterns, I decided to revisit Simplicity 8689, my favorite dress pattern from last summer (in black and yellow here).

Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

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Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

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Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

I had a beautiful cotton gauze border print from Pintuck & Purl that seemed perfect for this pattern, especially now that I had my colorful slips.  While most of the fabric has numbers and symbols on it, one edge has gray and burgundy stripes.

I chose to make View A with the sleeves of View B.

Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

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Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

While my size has changed a bit since last year, this dress has a nice amount of ease, so I used my previously traced pattern and sewed a 16 bust and 20 waist and hip.  I found one issue that I had failed to address (or even remember) from last year.  Due to some adjustments I made last time, my front and back bodice side seams were different lengths.  I never think to walk my seams (i.e. compare the lengths of seams that are meant to be sewn together to make sure they are the same length) after adjusting things, and this time it came back to bite me.  The back was 3/4″ shorter than the front.  In the end, I cut the front shorter, but I made sure to adjust my pattern for next time.

Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

I used a 70/10 Microtex needle to sew this gauze.  I was a little worried that it would be really delicate, and while ripping out seams had to be done carefully, it wasn’t hard to sew.  I used a combination of turning and stitching, French seams, mock French seams, and a small zigzag to finish various parts of the inside.  I wanted to use French seams throughout, but that wasn’t possible in places like the center front bodice seam or along the side seams and pockets.  I wanted everything to look nice on the inside since the gauze is actually somewhat sheer.  You can really see this with the pockets, but since I had enough fabric for pockets, I didn’t want to omit them.  No regrets on that choice!

Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

One thing I might try some other time is lengthening the sleeve and adding an elastic casing and elastic instead of the cuff, but I need to wear the dress more to be sure.  I did lengthen the cuff pattern piece to increase the cuff circumference and give my hand a little more room to go through (just to be safe), and I really like how it turned out.  So far it’s pretty comfortable.

Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

And I love the dress with the colored slips underneath.

Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

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Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

I initially kept the front plain except for having used the striped border in the yoke, but the dress was just a bit boring and I wasn’t excited about it (see below).

Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

Even though I can order sewing supplies, I have been taking the last few months to try to do a better job of using what I already have, which has been a fun challenge.  After thinking it over for quite awhile, I added the ivory rickrack,

Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

and then used hooks and eyes and embroidery floss to create removable silver cords to attach to the front.

Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

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Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

I tried making a few different tassels, but none of them were right, so I did end up ordering some silver ones from the paper crafting department of Hobby Lobby and used jewelry-making supplies to attach them.

Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

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Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

I like the dress so much better now and have already worn it a few times.  I love having several fun, comfortable dresses that I really like.

Last Summer's Favorite Dress Pattern Revisited:  Simplicity 8689 in Cotton Gauze

 

Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

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Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

Hi, everyone!  I have a quick post today on a fun layering option–a slip dress!  I started to think about this last summer when I bought McCall’s 7948.  The dress on the cover is made of eyelet.  I made my own eyelet dress last year and underlined it with an inexpensive cotton voile, but I thought that it could be so much fun to have colorful slips to wear underneath other dresses with any degree of transparency.  Then I wouldn’t have to line or underline the dress and you could change out the slips to have different colors show through.  Once I saw Alexis Bailey’s version of McCall’s 7948 with a colorful slip underneath, I knew I had to do it.  It’s taken me a long time, but I finally got it done.

I was looking for a slip pattern that was for woven fabric cut on the straight grain, rather than a bias or stretch slip.  Simplicity 8545, View A was perfect because it was made to be just that kind of slip dress to go under transparent dresses and tops, patterns for both of which are included.  I had some Cotton + Steel cotton lawn from a sale at Pintuck & Purl, and it was great for this pattern.

Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

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Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

I often have to lower darts on patterns and I completely forgot to check before cutting my fabric if that would be necessary on this one.  Assuming it would be, I sort of fudged things and lowered the dart point since I couldn’t lower the whole dart.  It turned out that this wasn’t necessary, but as this will be under another dress, there’s no need to worry too much.  Now I know for next time.  I think I graded from an 18 at the bust to a 20 at the waist and hips, which was a good idea.  There is a good amount of ease at the waist, but not as much at the hips.  Grading made it all work just right, though.

Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

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Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

Other modifications included shortening the straps 1″ beyond the recommended point and shortening the bottom of the dress 4″ from the raw edge.  I want it to be around or a little shorter than the dresses I plan to wear over these slips, so I picked the shortest my dresses might be likely to be and hemmed the slips around there.

Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

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Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

I noticed again that my natural waist is 1″-2″ above the pattern’s waist mark.  Interesting…  Maybe I’m a bit short-waisted.  Also, I probably need a swayback adjustment, but I just can’t be bothered.  You could most likely eliminate the zipper on this pattern and still get it over your head just fine.  And lastly, if I were to make this pattern again, I would try eliminating the facings and use bias tape to finish the top edge.

Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

Inside back (above) and a close-up of the zipper from the outside (below)

Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

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Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

Inside front (above) and a close-up of the facings and strap (below)

Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

I would like to try the camisole view of this pattern (View B) to wear under shirts that aren’t quite opaque enough in the summer.  I have some more lawn, so I might get around to that at some point.  I suppose it would be wise and practical to have a white slip, too, but that seems less exciting than brightly colored slips.  🙂  The dresses I hope to wear over this are currently in progress–the aforementioned McCall’s 7948 in green eyelet and my favorite dress pattern from last summer, Simplicity 8689, in a light pink cotton gauze.  Hopefully once I make them, I’ll actually wear them to swan about the house instead of wearing stretchy pants!  Or I’ll wear them over stretchy pants!  😉

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Black Ponte

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Vogue 8932 Jacket in Black Ponte

Another week, another sewing project.  🙂  This is the last garment I planned to make during the winter and, luckily, it makes a great transitional garment.  It’s Vogue 8932.  I have had this pattern for so long and was looking for just the right fabric for it.  The copyright on the back says 2013, which is around the time I got serious about sewing.  What brought it to my attention in the first place was Bianca’s very cool version from around the same date.  I’m pretty sure that it was her jacket that made me seek this pattern out at Joann’s.

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to make my version, so this pattern sat in my growing pattern library over the years waiting for its turn.  Finally, I decided that a black ponte would be a great first fabric to give this a try.  The one I ordered was a rayon/nylon/spandex from Fabric Mart, and is very nice.  I rarely sew with black, although I do like it–I just prefer the brighter colors.  This time, though, I ordered enough black ponte for a few garments and got to work on this one, choosing to make View B.

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

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Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

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Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

This particular pattern says “Easy” on the back.  I don’t think that’s very accurate.  They may have given it that designation because there’s no real tailoring or a lining or any of that, and the fabrics they call for have stretch, which helps a lot with fitting.  However, matching up the various corners and seams is not exactly “easy”, so I would put this at a more intermediate level.

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Black Ponte

The style lines are very cool and the construction is interesting, although I found it hard to get the corners on the back right.  Mine have little holes that I just sort of sewed over and added Fray Check to.  I think they’ll be alright, but I wish it were better.

I had the (in my mind) brilliant idea of using Eloflex thread in my needle and woolly nylon in my bobbin because I wanted to use a straight stitch that still had some give.  Eloflex is a thread made by Coats & Clark that is slightly stretchy.  Woolly Nylon is a fluffy thread that also has some give and is often used for sewing bathing suits, etc.  I have been using woolly nylon in my bobbin a lot when sewing knits in general.  So, my grand plans were a pretty big failure.  I tried needle type after needle type and my thread just kept breaking.  It seemed the Eloflex and this ponte were a bad match.  Finally, I swapped out the Eloflex for Gütermann All-Purpose polyester thread, and it worked great with a Universal 80/12 needle.  I also found that fine silk pins worked better with this fabric than the pins I normally use, which are actually quilting pins.  So, with all that thread breakage, the sewing is a bit rough, but I wasn’t about to unpick black on black unless absolutely necessary.

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

Toward the end, I added these fun flower-shaped snaps, adjusting their position as necessary.

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

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Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

Hopefully they will work as closures.  So far, so good, anyway.  I also discovered something quite interesting:  my waist is about 1″ higher than the marked waistline on this pattern, but the bottom of the jacket seems to hit in just the right spot.  So what does that mean?  Should I be raising the waist of my patterns while keeping the overall length the same?  So far I haven’t noticed the waist area being too much of a problem, but I’m going to pay attention to this with other patterns and give it some thought.

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

Outside front (this view has exposed seams).

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

Outside back

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

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Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

The different bias tape colors on the inside were a result of working with what I had on hand.

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

The little patches at the corners on the inside of the jacket are bits of knit interfacing, something the pattern instructs you to use in those areas.

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

I like the fit of this jacket overall.  It’s fitted, but not tight.  I would love to tell you that I have worn it a ton and it’s a wardrobe staple, but it has still been a little bit cold here and I’ve sort of been living my best loungewear life lately.  I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have worn jeans in recent weeks, so we’ll have to see if this ends up being as good as I hope it will.

And now I’m ready for spring sewing!

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

After the post on my cardigan from a few weeks ago, I thought I would follow up with some pictures and a tutorial of the process I used to create the self-welt or stand pockets on the front.  This comes straight out of my 1976 edition of the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, my favorite sewing reference.  If you also have this edition of the book, I’m using information from pages 284 and 288.  This process isn’t hard, but it does require paying attention and being careful.  It also requires frequent pressing, unless you have a fabric like this fleece that shouldn’t press.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Make a template

Before starting my pockets, I made a template out of some cardboard so that I could be sure my pockets would be the same size and that my pocket openings would be perfect rectangles.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Once I figured out just where I wanted to place my pockets, I traced around my templates with a Chaco liner.  Use the marking tool of your choice.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

I will tell you that I have used this yellow Chaco liner twice on light-colored materials (this cardigan, and this bag) and it does not always wash out of lighter colored fabrics.  I should probably get a different color to try in these situations, but I didn’t really think about that until too late.  It’s ok, though.  Most people won’t notice it.

Mark your pocket

After tracing my pocket template, the next thing to do was to thread-trace the shape, extending my lines a bit beyond the corners (at least 3/4″).  This helps you to see the shape of the pocket from both sides.  The directions say you should also thread-trace a center line through the middle of your rectangle, parallel to the long sides of the pocket.  That is up to you.  I did this, but didn’t find it as helpful as I thought it would be.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Because this is a heavyweight fabric, I didn’t need to interface it.  If your fabric is lightweight or loosely woven, you will need to cut interfacing about four inches longer and two inches wider than your pocket opening, center it over the opening and baste around the edges (for sew-in interfacing) or fuse (for fusible interfacing) before you begin to thread-trace.  Then thread-trace through both the garment fabric and the interfacing.

Create your welt + pocket bag piece

Now it’s time to cut out the fabric that will form your welt and your pocket.  You will be cutting out a rectangle with the grainline going the long way on the rectangle.  Rather than using fabric from my main garment, I used my accent fabric.  The length of your rectangle  should equal two times the desired finished depth of the pocket plus two times the desired depth of the welt.  The width of your rectangle should equal the width of the pocket opening plus one inch for seam allowance (this gives you a 1/2″ seam allowance on each side).  In order to keep lint from catching in the corners of your pocket when you wear your garment, round the corners with your scissors.  You could fold your fabric lengthwise and then widthwise and trim all the corners at once so they would have a uniform shape.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Now fold your pocket in half horizontally and mark that line by pressing or with chalk or other marking tool.  I chose chalk since I couldn’t press.  If marking with chalk, mark on the wrong side.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Build the pocket

Now place your pocket piece with its right side on the right side of your garment, aligning the line you just marked with the bottom stitching line of your pocket.  Pin in place.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Turn the garment to the wrong side.  Using a short stitch length, stitch both layers together by sewing carefully around the rectangle, along the thread-traced lines, starting in the center of one of the long sides and pivoting at each corner.  When you come back to the point where you started, sew over a few of your beginning stitches to lock them in place.  Do not sew at all on the center line that you (optionally) marked.  Now you can remove your thread-tracing.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

On your pocket piece, mark the center of your pocket, parallel to the long sides.  You can also mark 1/2″ in and parallel to the short sides of your rectangle.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Then cut along the middle line through both layers, stopping 1/2″ before each short side.  Cut diagonally to, but not through the corners.  This will make small triangles of fabric at each end.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Carefully push the fabric through the opening to the wrong side and press (if possible) so that you can’t see the pocket fabric from the front.  Pulling on the small triangles you just created should help you square up the pockets.  Because I couldn’t press my fabric, I basted the seam allowances on the short sides down and pinned the longer parts of the pockets.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Now it’s time to make your welt!  Don’t worry–it’s just a fold of fabric.  Working from the back, fold the lower part of the pocket up to cover the opening and then fold back down, creating a pleat that covers the opening of the pocket.  Check that it looks good from the right side.  It should cover the opening completely, with the fold touching the top opening edge of the pocket.  To keep everything where it should be, baste through the fold and then use a whipstitch to temporarily attach the fold to the top of the pocket opening.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Now turn your work to the right side.  Fold up the bottom part of your garment fabric so you can see the lower seam allowances of the pocket opening as well as the lower part of the pocket.  Stitch through these seam allowances and the lower part of the pocket as close to your original stitching as possible.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Now turn everything back to the wrong side.  Fold the long top part of the pocket down and align it with the bottom part of the pocket.  You are creating your pocket bag.  The right sides of your pocket piece should be facing one another.  Pin around the raw edges of the pocket and press the seam allowances on top of the pocket open if possible.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Remember that 1/2″ seam allowance we built into the width of your pocket piece?  Time to use it!  Flip your garment around to the right side again and fold the garment up out of the way so you can see your pocket.  Sew around the pocket, using your 1/2″ seam allowance, starting at the top and sewing over those little triangles on the sides as you go, getting as close to your earlier stitching as you can.  Don’t forget to backstitch at the beginning and end!  Finish your pocket edges together if necessary for your fabric and give everything a good press if you can so it’s all nice and flat.  Then remove your basting stitches.

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Good job!  You did it!

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

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Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

One of my big plans this past winter was to sew up some fleece leggings that I could wear under insulated skirts or skirts made from wool blankets.  The skirts never materialized (maybe next winter), but the leggings did, and that’s what I want to share with you today.  I suppose leggings can be kind of like t-shirts in that they don’t make for the most interesting of blog posts, but they get a lot of wear, especially when you are hanging around home and don’t have to see people outside of your family every day.  Activewear as loungewear for the win!

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

There is an old post on the Etsy blog circa 2012 where Cal Patch, pattern drafter, author, and maker extraordinaire explains how to draft leggings (i.e. create a leggings pattern) from your own measurements.  I tried using this tutorial before I started down the path of growing an immense pattern library, and it is a great one.  I still have some of the first leggings I made, but my measurements have changed since then, so I thought it was time for an updated pattern.

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

One of the cool things about these directions is that they create just one pattern piece.  Yep, that’s all you need to sew custom leggings with no outside seam.  If you want to get fancy down the road, you could always chop your pattern up and add outside side seams or pockets or whatever, but for the basic leggings, you only need one piece.

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

After following all the directions, I tested out my pattern with some bathing suit fabric I had marinating in my stash from Fabric Mart Fabrics.  I haven’t made a bathing suit from it yet, so I had plenty.  Even if I didn’t, these leggings only take about 1.25 yards of fabric.  I sewed up a test pair after determining that the fabric was opaque, and it was a success!

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

These will make great exercise leggings.  I was careful to line up the pattern, which was not as hard as I would have thought.

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

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Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

Then it was on to my Polartec Power Stretch.  So far, this is my favorite Polartec fabric that I have tried.  It’s soft and fleecy on one side and smooth on the other with a nice stretch.  In the past I have made a purple Sew House Seven Toaster Sweater and a Style Arc Josie Hoodie from it and both are still in my wardrobe with the Josie Hoodie being a firm favorite.  I have gotten all my Power Stretch from Mill Yardage.

It took very little time to whip up two pairs of leggings from the Power Stretch.  These dark gray ones have gotten lots of wear.  Unfortunately, I didn’t do a test to see how opaque the ivory fabric was and…they are somewhat see-through, so they have been relegated to tights-only status, and I didn’t model them for you.

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

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Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

When sewing these, I used a zigzag stitch on my regular sewing machine with a 75/11 stretch needle for the bathing suit fabric and a 90/14 stretch needle for the Power Stretch.  I used a stitch width/height of 4.5 and a length of 0.5 which made my zigzags tall and very close together.  Not everyone likes this kind of stitch for knits, but I find it gives the seam lots of room to stretch.  I tested this on a doubled scrap of fabric both on grain and cross-grain and stretched as far as I could to make sure the stitches didn’t pop before sewing on my actual garment.  I kept my tension the same as usual, but set my presser foot pressure to the lightest it could go.  I used a walking foot, woolly nylon in my bobbin, and Gütermann all purpose thread (100% polyester) in the top.  This type of setup has been working well for me when sewing stretchy knits lately.

For my hems, I just folded the fabric up once and stitched, covering the edge of the fabric with my stitching when possible.  Sometimes I even sew from the inside of the hem rather than stretching my hem over my free arm.  This put the woolly nylon on the outside, but I didn’t care with these since it was close enough to the fabric color.

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

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Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

For the waistband, I use one inch wide elastic and try it on around my waist to find a comfortable snugness.  Then I overlap it slightly and sew the ends together.  Next it gets pinned onto the wrong side of the waist area on the leggings with the edge of the fabric going slightly beyond my elastic.

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

I stitch the side of the elastic furthest from the raw edge to the leggings and then fold it over so the elastic is enclosed in fabric and stitch near the raw edge, trying to catch the elastic as I go.

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

A lot of these tips I picked up from sewing Megan Nielsen’s Mini Virginia leggings.  Megan often has really good ideas and ways of constructing garments that are new to me and which become my own preferred way of sewing.

And that’s pretty much it!  I’m so happy to have these leggings in my wardrobe.  I have worn them a lot.

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

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Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

If you want to get into very basic drafting, Cal Patch also has a book out called Design-It-Yourself Clothes that I found really fun when I first started sewing.  I don’t know why, but it was completely amazing to me that you could learn to create patterns.  I guess I never thought about how a pattern became a pattern before looking through that book.

 

I Finally Made It: A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

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I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

Do you have some of those patterns that you love, but they hang out in your pattern collection for one reason or another?  I have several of these that linger because I’m waiting for just the right fabric.  The Newcastle Cardigan by Thread Theory Designs is one of those for me.  I bought it at Pintuck & Purl several years ago, because despite the fact that this is a men’s pattern, I could envision a comfy, slouchy women’s version for me.  I like the cozy cardigan look with the rolled collar, and I’m always a fan of a shoulder/back yoke where I can use a contrast fabric or add in some nice topstitching.  I just needed the right fabric and some modifications…

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

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I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

I finally found the fabric I was looking for on the Mill Yardage website:  a Polartec Classic 200 Sweater Look Strie fabric that was warm, moderately thick, and had more body than drape.  I could use leftover fabric from my Burda 6471 joggers for the yoke and any other accent areas.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

Other Materials and Stitching

After a lot of deliberation, I decided to skip most of the interfacing and only include sew-in interfacing in the button placket areas.  Although I found some ideas on how you could adhere iron-on interfacing to fleece, I didn’t want to risk it, and the fabric was thick enough that it didn’t need much support anyway.  I decided to use some anorak snaps a friend had given me rather than buttons.  For more give in my seams, I used stretchy Eloflex thread as my top thread, and woolly nylon in my bobbin.

Because I modified this pattern to be loose rather than slim-fitting and because of the thread I had chosen, I was able to use a straight stitch (rather than a zigzag, which would have more stretch).  I used a slightly longer length (3.0), a 90/14 stretch needle, a walking foot, my normal tension, and my lightest presser foot pressure.

Pattern Modifications

There were a lot of pattern modifications that I made to get this just how I wanted it!  My measurements put me at a medium chest size.  This pattern says it is slim-fitting, but since I wanted a looser fit, I traced a large.  However, after measuring and tissue fitting, I realized I needed more arm and hip width, so I decided to trace an extra large.  I was really worried about the width, due to the positive ease I was after and the fact that this 100% polyester fabric only has a little bit of mechanical stretch, so I used the side seams of Simplicity 4109 (which I used to make my railroad denim jacket) as a guide.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

After this, I planned to add a little sleeve width.  In fact, after measuring my arm and the pattern and consulting The Perfect Fit, I decided I needed a full upper arm adjustment, and I added 1.5 inches to the arm pattern piece, giving me a wider circumference.

I had considered shortening the arms by as much as six inches (the pattern explains that they are drafted quite long), but after sewing the back to the front of the cardigan and holding up my shortened arm pattern piece, I didn’t like it, so I let it out to the original length.  Long and cozy sleeves seemed preferable to too-short sleeves in a garment that was supposed to be warm and snuggly.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

I wanted elbow patches, too, so I added the ones from the Plaintain Tee, a free pattern from Deer & Doe.

I made version one of this pattern, and was originally going to use the larger collar from version two, but it almost completely covered the yoke, so I recut it and used the smaller collar that went with version one originally.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

I wanted a bottom band on this cardigan, so I made one!  It’s a rectangle and, just before I finished installing it, I added a little gusset at the bottom of the side seams and some extra little rectangles to my bottom band for just a little more hip width.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

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I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

I added in extra topstitching anywhere I wanted to flatten the fabric or add detail or definition.  This was usually a good idea, but where it did not work, was the edge of the collar.  It exacerbated the collar’s tendency to flip up.  I took that topstitching out but kept what I did in other areas. (You can see the collar after I tried topstitching it below.  See how obvious the flip-up is?)

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

Like I mentioned before, I opted to install anorak snaps instead of making buttonholes and using buttons.  My friend had given me some that had been in her mom’s stash and I used every single one I had left.  Unfortunately, I didn’t hammer two of the top pieces in quite right and they don’t grip the bottom parts of the snap strongly.  It’s a not a big deal for one of them, but the other gapes, so I have to go on a little search to see if these are still available or if they are now considered vintage.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

Most nerve-wracking of all, I decided near the end of making this to add self-welt or stand pockets using the instructions in my Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing.  Yes, this was a little bit crazy, because I really liked the cardigan without them.  I just knew I would like it much more with pockets.

I tested out my idea with scraps to see if it would be too bulky and if I liked using the green for my pocket, and it turned out pretty well.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

So, I went for it!  I just took it step by step, deciding at the outset that they didn’t have to be perfect to be good.  And it worked!  They aren’t perfect, but they are good, and I was even able to tack the pockets to the facings, which helped to keep the facings from flipping out.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

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I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

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I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

I even added a Thread Theory label, which came with the pattern, and one from Kylie and the Machine, that I purchased at Pintuck & Purl.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

Final Thoughts

I love this cardigan.  While I can’t say this about every one of my projects, I really feel like I got the fit I wanted on this garment, and I love it in this fabric.  It’s so warm and nice.  If I did it over again in an equally thick fabric, I would consider skipping the facings.  Except for the benefit of tacking them to the pockets, they are kind of annoying.  It would be different in another fabric, I’m sure.  The length of time this took and the adjusting while sewing were frustrating for me, but I’m glad I persevered and finished before spring.  When I wore this to work, one of my coworkers said she thought the cardigan was from L.L. Bean, which was so nice of her!  I often look at their clothes for inspiration.  So, it was a struggle, but I’m happy, and I love the finished product.  And I’m also happy it’s done.  On to the next thing!

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

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I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

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I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

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I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

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New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

When I was looking for inspiration for a Christmas party outfit a few months ago, I ran across a neon pink velvet camisole on the J.Crew website.  The fabric was so beautiful!  I really wanted some fabric with that level of color.  It was amazing!  I ended up making a top in chartreuse silk for the party, but I couldn’t get that fabric out of my mind.  I finally found some neon pink stretch velvet on Amazon and put it on my personal wish list, not knowing quite what I would make from it.  I was torn between two patterns, so I put a note with the yardage I would need for each pattern, saying that I would love either amount.  One of my friends got me some for my birthday, and that decided it–the amount she got me was perfect for another version of New Look 6560, View A, the same pattern I used to make my silk party shirt.

New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

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New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

This pattern is meant for wovens, but I wanted to try it in this knit because I thought it would make a really fun shirt.  There were a few ups and downs, but in the end, I arrived at a top that I’m happy with.  And I was right about the fabric–it really is fun.

New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

The fabric I used is 90% polyester, 10% spandex, and was surprisingly easy to sew.  Thankfully, I remembered to cut it with the nap running down.  Sometimes I just completely forget to pay attention to things like nap or pattern matching!  I used a regular zigzag stitch with a width of 2.5 and a length of 1.0, my lightest presser foot pressure, normal tension, and a 75/11 stretch needle.  I skipped interfacing the facings.  I used all-purpose Dual Duty Coats & Clark 100% polyester thread in the needle and woolly/bulky nylon in my bobbin.  I’ve been using woolly nylon a lot in my bobbin on knits, something I do when sewing bathing suits, and it has worked out really well, giving my seams a little extra stretch.

New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

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New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

I put everything together, but didn’t bother to finish many seams because they won’t fray.  I love that about knits.  It saves so much time!  I sewed for most (ok, pretty much all) of the afternoon one Saturday and got the shirt done before bed time!  Then I tried it on…and it looked like crap.  Granted, I was trying it on over another shirt I was wearing, but it didn’t seem like a win.

I spent some time thinking about what I could do.  I had completely forgotten to stabilize the shoulders, so I went back and did that by sewing clear elastic to the seam allowances and then stitching the seam allowances down with some topstitching.  The facings kept flipping out, so I tacked those down (and then went back and tacked down the facings on my chartreuse version as well).  Now what?

The back, the belt, and the sleeves seemed good.  The front was the problem.  I thought about putting in a center front seam and making it a nice-looking v-neck.  I realized after posting that idea to Instagram that people thought I was going to leave the excess fabric in front, which was an idea I actually hadn’t considered, although it did look interesting.

New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

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New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

I also posted a picture of it as the original wrap, and it looked better than I remembered (first picture after the pattern pictures).  Maybe I shouldn’t have evaluated it while wearing it over top of another shirt like I did right after finishing it.  😉  So, I decided I would keep it as the original wrap after all, and I wore it to church, but kept feeling like I had to arrange and rearrange the front (luckily I was wearing a camisole under it).  What if I just sewed the wrap shut?  It’s stretchy enough that I can pull it on over my head, so I don’t need it to actually wrap.  It seemed worth a try, so I sewed the top layer shut and tacked the bottom layer down.

New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

I tied it shut inside, leaving everything intact in case I wanted to undo the stitching.  I wore the shirt to work this week, and it was so much easier and more pleasant to wear when I didn’t have to constantly rearrange the front!  I think this is the way to go.  It’s definitely not my best or most beautiful sewing–there are still some wonky parts, but I’m happy with it, and I have found that the sleeves are nicer in this knit than the silk, since they stay at my wrist bones, due to the heavier weight of the knit.  On the silk, they work their way up above my wrist bones throughout the day, which I don’t love.

New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

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New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

I wanted this shirt to be one that I reached for because it felt good to wear, not one that was just fun because the fabric was interesting.  Now that I don’t have to constantly fix it while I’m wearing it, I think that my goal has been achieved.  Hooray!

Burda Style 6471 Joggers in Recycled Polartec Thermal Pro

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Burda Style 6471 Joggers in Recycled Polartec Thermal Pro

Yayyyy, fleecy pants!  My batch of sewing projects is now at the sewing phase, which makes me very happy.  Today I want to share my version of Burda Style 6471, View A (with a few modifications).  I made these in recycled Polartec Thermal Pro denim look in a color called Aspen (green).  This fabric was a gift from my wonderful husband and came from Mill Yardage.

Burda Style 6471 Joggers in Recycled Polartec Thermal Pro

I got this pattern in my stocking the Christmas before last, but have been waiting for just the right fabric.  My goal was to find a fabric that would look good as everyday wear while feeling like secret pajamas.  I was hoping this fabric would do that, but after making these, they are more of a really nice spin on sweat pants.  It turns out, I’m ok with that.  I’ve still worn them out of the house, but I definitely feel like I’m wearing sweat pants when I do.

Let’s talk details.

Constructing the Pattern

The only pattern alteration I made was to grade up one size from the largest size.  I did this by looking at how much t the largest one or two sizes increased by and doing the same to create a larger size.

Burda Style 6471 Joggers in Recycled Polartec Thermal Pro

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Burda Style 6471 Joggers in Recycled Polartec Thermal Pro

I chose to make View A of this pattern because I wanted the longer length, but I left off the square side pockets and the drawstring.  This pattern was supposed to have a flat front to the waistband with an elastic back, but I made a few choices based on my fabric that caused me to change the waistband.  You are supposed to interface the front of the waistband.  I felt nervous using a fusible, because I didn’t want to iron this fabric and melt it.  I did find a few discussions in the Pattern Review forums where people mentioned ways to fuse interfacing on fleece.  Many other people said they skipped interfacing altogether.  I did have some sew-in interfacing, but I got nervous that if I used it, the back waistband might not have enough give/length to fit over my hips when taking the pants on and off since they are a pull-on style (the fly is a faux fly and the waistband is continuous with no closure).  Usually I try to trust the pattern, but laziness was also a bit of a factor, so I skipped interfacing the front of the waistband.

When I finished the pants, which were a very quick sew, they fit pretty well.  As I write this, I’m just now realizing what a big deal it is that the crotch curve fit me so well the first time around.  That doesn’t always happen!  Anyway, I wore them around for a bit, and realized that the waistband definitely got looser with wear.  This fabric has a small amount of stretch and no recovery.  I could see that I needed to tighten up the back waistband elastic, so I did.  Then I wore them some more.  Then they got loose.  I could see my options were to go back and redo the waistband with interfacing, maybe even adding the drawstring, or to make the waistband a fully elasticated one.  Since I could tell that these were definitely in the sweat pants camp, and I didn’t have to try to make them everyday pants anymore, I opted to elasticate the whole waistband.

Burda Style 6471 Joggers in Recycled Polartec Thermal Pro

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Burda Style 6471 Joggers in Recycled Polartec Thermal Pro

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Burda Style 6471 Joggers in Recycled Polartec Thermal Pro

This is when I realized one other thing.  These are fairly low-rise pants.  They’re not super low, but they’re low enough that when you bend over or crouch down, you should make sure your backside is covered.  The rise is consistent with the picture on the pattern.  If I ever make these again, making the rise a little higher would be a good idea.

Burda Style 6471 Joggers in Recycled Polartec Thermal Pro

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Burda Style 6471 Joggers in Recycled Polartec Thermal Pro

Lastly, for anyone who is trying to sew fleece like this, here are the specific settings I used on my sewing machine.  I did not use a serger.

  • regular zigzag stitch
  • 2.5 stitch width
  • 1.0 stitch length
  • 1 presser foot pressure (lightest)
  • 4 tension (standard tension; I didn’t change it from my normal setting)
  • 90/14 stretch needle
  • walking foot
  • Gütermann all purpose polyester thread in the needle and wooly/bulky nylon in the bobbin

When sewing knits, I always test out my stitches on a piece of scrap fabric and then stretch it as much as possible to see if the thread breaks.  If it does, I test some more until I get a stitch that doesn’t break when stretched parallel and perpendicular to my stitch line.

Burda Style 6471 Joggers in Recycled Polartec Thermal Pro

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Burda Style 6471 Joggers in Recycled Polartec Thermal Pro

Final Thoughts

I often expect every sewing project to be THE BEST and most wonderful garment, and I cut them much less slack than I do store-bought/thrifted clothes.  I think that’s not a good way to continue on.  This garment isn’t the best, most wonderful garment I have ever made, but I still really love it.  I think it’s because the fleece is so cozy.  The pattern is good, the sewing is not bad, and the fabric feels great.  The fit is pretty good, if a bit low.  I think that I will get a lot of wear out of these pants, even if they weren’t what I first envisioned.

Burda Style 6471 Joggers in Recycled Polartec Thermal Pro

Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

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Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

I have no new projects to share today, so I thought I would give you a look into what I’m thinking about sewing this winter.  I do have a batch of projects underway, and a pretty good idea of some patterns I may want to sew next.  Planning and dreaming up sewing projects is one of my favorite parts of sewing!

Current Plans

Current plans include drafting and sewing my own leggings using this tutorial from Cal Patch.  I’ve made these once before, and they were great.  I want to make them in a midweight Polartec Power Stretch (below),

Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

but first I have to see if my new pattern fits right by testing it out in some bathing suit fabric (below) that I had in my stash.  I think this (hopefully) wearable muslin will make great exercise leggings.

Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

I also want to make Burda Style 6471, View A minus the cargo pocket and drawstring in recycled Polartec ThermalPro denim look fabric.  I got this pattern for Christmas 2018, and I have been waiting for just the right fabric to come along.  I’m hoping for some secret pajamas I can wear out and about, but if they read too casual, I can just use them as loungewear.

Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

New Look 6560, View A without the ruffle, which I just completed in silk is back on the list, this time in hot pink stretch velvet, because it’s FUN!  My friend got this fabric for me for my birthday, and I’m excited to try it out.

Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

Vogue 8932 has been hanging out in my pattern library for a long time, and I’m finally going to make it (View B).  I’m going to try it out in black ponte de roma from Fabric Mart.  If I like the pattern, I would love to make it in a stretchy boiled wool knit someday.

Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

I’m also finally trying out the Thread Theory Newcastle Cardigan, Version 1, but in a shape that will fit me (this is originally a men’s pattern).  I’d love a relaxed version of this cardigan, maybe with some elbow patches and a bottom band added, and I want it in a shape that will fit me, so I’ve done a bunch of work and measuring to see if I can get there.  This is another pattern I have had for a long time, waiting to find just the right fabric.  Thanks to my husband getting me several pieces of Polartec fleece that I had my eye on, I plan to make this in a Polartec 200 sweater-look fleece, using scraps of green from the Burda pants I mentioned above for the yoke.

Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

All of those are at the cutting stage.  I just need to cut out the New Look wrap top and the cardigan, and then I can get sewing.

Future Possibilities

Other thoughts and possibilities for the rest of winter are also brewing.

I had a snap-front skirt (Burda Style 6252, View A, lengthened) on my list to make out of a damaged Hudson’s Bay Point Blanket that I got for FREE (!!!), but it was just too damaged and stained to cut a skirt out of.

Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

I want a pattern I like to make insulated skirts to wear over leggings, and this may be the one, but it’s going on hold for now.  The blanket could become a pillow and maybe a bag (The Wax + Wool Tote, possibly?).  We’ll see.

One strong possibility is McCall’s 7930, View D.  I think I have some stash fabrics that would work for this–either a shirtweight denim + a Swiss dot or maybe silk double georgette + silk crepe de chine.

Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

Another likely project is the Persephone Pants from Anna Allen, lengthened for winter, maybe in a green canvas.  I have resisted the ultra-high rise trend, but I once had a pair of very high waisted wool sailor pants that I LOVED, and thinking about them convinced me to give these a try.  To tell the truth, I have been looking at our local Army Navy stores for some ’70’s era sailor jeans to try out before buying this pattern, but couldn’t quite find what I was looking for.  This pattern was a Christmas gift, so I’m going for it!

Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

I have some cotton velveteen that might get made into Simplicity 1696, a tried-n-true (TNT) pattern for me, although I do worry about the nap rubbing off in places like the inner thigh.

Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

Burda Style 6265, View A is also a possibility in flannel worn with leggings, but I really wonder how much I would reach for this.  I have never been a dress person, and I am trying to branch out into wearing dresses, but I can’t quite tell if this is something I would reach for or if it would just hang out in my closet.  I actually like the long view, too, maybe for spring or fall.  I’m going to have to think about this pattern for awhile.

Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

Other tempting patterns are to be found in the Burda Style magazine from November 2019 that I found at one of the larger Barnes & Nobles.

Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

There are a lot of patterns I like in this issue (which is why I bought it), but my absolute favorite is #121, the “On-Trend pattern”, a really cool cropped jacket.  I love the style lines, and I could see it made up in various wool fabrics.  I wonder if I could recycle some wool pants I have into part of this jacket.  (They’re the checked fabric below.)  I would love that.  And they would be great with this blue wool/cashmere remnant I have.  Overall this issue has a number of great jackets.  I’m just outside their standard range, but I can grade up a size or two.

Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

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Winter Sewing Ideas and Plans

The other day I went to my local mall to see how it had changed in the last few years (I don’t get there much) as well as to hunt for inspiration.  I love to look in Nordstrom and J. Crew, among other places, to get ideas for future sewing projects or to check out details on clothing.  I found it really interesting that with the proliferation of pattern companies, plus the fact that Butterick, McCall’s, Simplicity, Vogue, and Burda Style all put out numerous patterns per year, I can find patterns that are close or nearly identical to a lot of the clothes I see in stores.  The sewing world is really on top of what’s current in much of the fashion you find in stores.  It’s pretty cool.  On the flip side, there are also companies that put things together in really creative ways that I haven’t necessarily seen before.  They really inspire me to try to think more creatively.  When I look at Anthropologie, Free People, and even Lucky Brand, I often ask myself why I didn’t think to combine fabrics like that or try some similar detail.  We sort of have the best of both worlds in that way:  fashionable patterns + ready-to-wear inspiration to think even more creatively.  The mall is a different experience when you’re shopping for inspiration.

What about you?  What are your current sewing plans?  Have you tried any of the patterns I mentioned?  Feel free to recommend patterns, too!