Tag Archives: shirt

Vacation! And a Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

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Hey, friends!  Happy July!  I can’t believe it’s July already.  I feel like summer is just starting.  I’m going to take the rest of the month of July off from blogging (although you can still find me on Instagram @lisa.poblenz).  I’m coming off a number of complicated sewing projects (Refashioners 2016–which you’ll get to see in the not-too-distant future, bathing suit sewing, jeans, etc.), and it’s time to regroup, create some new garments, and do family stuff.  I don’t know about you, but when I finish a big batch of projects, I feel a little discombobulated for a while until I figure out what direction I’m going to pursue next and get going down that road.

I finished one wonderfully quick project on Wednesday, however–a Deer and Doe Datura Blouse.

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

I’m finding that while I am most drawn to bright colors and fun prints, I need a few neutral garments to wear with the fun and crazy stuff.  So, to test out this pattern, I chose the most basic view and made it up in a white linen-look fabric from Joann’s that I’ve had forever, and a khaki linen that a good friend gave me.  I also took the opportunity to use some vintage buttons from my mother-in-law.

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

Before beginning, I measured myself to see how high the dart should sit on my body and then checked it on the flat pattern.  It seemed perfect, so other than grading up a size for the waist and hip, I used the pattern as it was.  There were a few tricky parts, mainly having to do with sewing together the shoulders, but once I weathered those, it was a quick sew.  (I used Part 1 of this sew-along to help me out, in case you are considering making this top as well.)  The only potential issue is that the neckline seems to gape just a bit, but I’m going to wash and wear the shirt a few times before I decide if I need to deal with that in any future versions.  They’ve updated the pattern since I bought this one, so maybe they fixed that.  I’m not sure.

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

(Thanks to my Instagram Husband for taking these pictures of me!)

Expect future versions of this, though.  I want to try the one with the triangle cutouts next…and in crazy fabric.  One neutral garment at a time is about all I can handle!  😉

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

Do you ever wish you could sew at super speed?  I’ve never really had a handle on my summer wardrobe, but after sewing for a few years, and thinking seriously about what I actually wear (rather than just what I like to look at in fashion, which are often two very different things), I think I’m getting closer to the essence of how I like to dress in summer.  And now I want to sew it all up!!!!  I’ve been stocking up on fabric, but I can’t yet sew at lighting speed or fit garments to myself with shocking perfection.  Alas, my reach exceeds my grasp (but I think they are getting closer!).  Ah, sewing problems!  Ha!

Well, have a great July.  I look forward to more writing and talking with you in August.  We’ll find out then if I spent my time sewing or not!  😉

Recommendations

  • This Piped Floral Shirt Dress from Making It Well is amazing.  I’ll have to pick up some tips from Jo when I finally dive into the wonderful world of shirt dresses.
  • I just have to recommend The Great British Sewing Bee.  As much as I love Project Runway, sometimes it’s just so…ruthless!  The GBSB has a much kinder tone as well as an educational one.  I’ve only watched Season/Series 1 in its entirety, but Series 4 is on now!  You can look at the show’s website here.
  • If you are in the greater Boston area, I highly recommend the magazine edibleBOSTON.  If you aren’t in greater Boston, you may have an edible magazine covering an area near you.  edibleBOSTON is a fun way to learn about farmers, restaurants, small batch food makers, and other foodie things in your locale.  Magazines are free from subscribing businesses and come out quarterly.  You can also read issues online.
  • Aaannnddd…..we’re TOTALLY making this spaghetti and meatballs recipe this summer!

Esme Top from Everyday Style by Lotta Jansdotter

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How are you?  I hope, if you are in the Northern Hemisphere, that spring has arrived.  Spring is trying to happen here, but it’s still a little cold.  Despite that, I’ve got warmer days on my mind, and after some complicated projects just finished and several other tricky ones in progress, I needed a simple, fast, and summery pattern.  I found just the right thing in Lotta Jansdotter’s new book Everyday Style.  It seemed like just the right thing to go with the lovely pink voile I got at Pintuck & Purl when they opened.

Esme Top from Everyday Style by Lotta Jansdotter

I made Variation 2 with the three-quarter length sleeves in a size large.  My only regret (and I find it equally annoying and funny that I did this) is that I didn’t measure the back pattern piece to see if it would need a broad-back adjustment.  The shirt turned out to be quite comfortable, but if I had checked ahead of time, I would have done a broad-back adjustment and it would have been even more comfortable.  After all my recent blog posts about broad-back adjustments (here and here), I didn’t even check.

Esme Top from Everyday Style by Lotta Jansdotter

 

Esme Top from Everyday Style by Lotta Jansdotter

Ironically enough, I did check the dart height, and that turned out to be fine.  Thankfully, there is good ease in this pattern, and it’s still wearable.

Esme Top from Everyday Style by Lotta Jansdotter

Living in New England where the weather changes several times throughout the day, I’m looking forward to having this for summer when a breeze springs up or the air gets cooler in the evening.

Esme Top from Everyday Style by Lotta Jansdotter

The Esme top gets my stamp of approval as a quick and simple make, especially since there are numerous variations if you want to change things up a bit.

Before we get to the recommendations,  I wanted to mention Me-Made-May 2016 one more time.  I’m participating because I really enjoyed it last year.  Here is my pledge:

‘I, Lisa of patternandbranch.wordpress.com and @lisa.poblenz, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’16. I endeavour to wear at least one me-made garment each day for the duration of May 2016. I will try not to repeat any articles of clothing within a single week and I’ll try to wear at least two me-made things together at least once a week.’

I decided that this year I wasn’t going to worry about daily photos, so I won’t be doing weekly outfit round-ups on the blog.  You may see a few photos if you follow me on Instagram, but my focus for this year is the challenge itself.  The only downside so far is that I might forget what I wore earlier in the week without the photos to remind me!  😉  Check out Zoe’s blog for more information on this year’s Me-Made-May.

Recommendations

  • OK, my friends!  It’s nearly time for one of my FAVORITE events of the year:  BRIMFIELD ANTIQUE SHOW!  Brimfield is the largest outdoor antique show/market in the US.  It takes place three times a year in the town of Brimfield, MA and people come from all over the country (and the world) to shop for antiques, upcycled antiques, and unique materials for creating.  This year, for the very first time, I know one of the vendors!  My friend Laurel, of Retromat Vintage is going to be at Booth 22 of New England Motel, which is one of my favorite fields.  She sells great vintage items.  I’m always really impressed by her clothing, but she has much more than that.  If you go to Brimfield, stop by and show her some love.
  • Have you ever tried a magnetic pincushion?  After buying more pins awhile ago, my little pin jar was full and hard to use, so I bought a Zirkel magnetic pincushion at Pintuck & Purl.  I missed the main selling point until I got home and started using it.  If you drop your pins in the middle of the square magnet, it fans them out around the edges in a circular pattern.  It’s so cool and fun to use!  I knew I would like it, but I had no idea I would like it this much.  Here’s a link to a 14 second video that shows how it works.
  • I’ve mentioned them before, but I think it’s time to officially recommend to you The Curvy Sewing Collective.  This is a great site for so many things!  I find myself returning to it frequently to read their helpful tutorials, pattern reviews, and to look at the great projects from their contributors.  This site also gets two thumbs up for body positivity.  We can all use that!
  • Finally, the Batman vs. Superman trailer…reimagined by kids:

Tiger Shirt!!!! Simplicity 1538 Perfected

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I’m so excited to share my latest project with you today.  I LOVE this shirt.  There are two reasons I love it so much.  The first is this awesome Cotton + Steel pink tiger fabric.  The second is the fit!

Simplicity 1538

Ping of Peneloping was my inspiration for this project.  Her tiger shirt is amazing (as is everything she makes), and it set me on the quest for my own tiger shirt.

You may remember my first attempt at this pattern, made from a vintage sheet.  I really loved that shirt.  It was beautiful, except for being too tight across the back.

Simplicity 1538

Simplicity 1538

I also realized, in trying it on before making this one, that the darts were slightly too high.  Luckily, I had just learned both how to do a broad back adjustment AND how to lower darts.  After doing both of these things to this pattern, I think I may have found my perfect casual button-down…and I have worn it a billion times since making it.  I’m actually afraid of wearing it out.

This post is going to get a bit technical in the hopes that it might help someone else out there.  I won’t go into lowering a bust dart because The Curvy Sewing Collective blog just did an excellent post on this.  You can find that here.

I will, however, show you pictures of the major broad back adjustment I did in case anyone else is working on learning how to do this.  I showed how I did this on a princess-seam shirt in this post.  Today’s shirt, Simplicity 1538 does not have princess seams, but does have a yoke in the back.

Simplicity 1538

Simplicity 1538

Now is the time to skim if you don’t care about the technical aspects of this project.

As before, I used the information in The Perfect Fit, part of The Singer Sewing Reference Library.

Singer Sewing Reference Library:  The Perfect Fit

Because I knew my back measurement, I could measure the pattern to see how much width + ease I needed to make the shirt comfortable when sewn up.  The pattern was 15 inches across the back.  I needed 17 1/4-17 3/4 inches in order for this to be comfortable on me.  (I mention how I measured for this in this post.)  This meant I had to add 1 1/8-1 3/8 inches to this pattern piece (since it only represents half of the back).  I decided I would try adding 1 1/4 inches with a major broad back adjustment (rather than a minor adjustment, which just adds a little width to the back armhole curve).

Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538

Here are my pieces before alteration:

Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538

I have a full yoke piece and a half bottom back piece.  I folded the yoke in half so that the edges of each side could be adjusted simultaneously (and hopefully identically).  You’ll see that my yoke is narrower than the back bottom piece.  That’s because there is a little bit of gathering below the yoke on the center back.  As the shirt is sewn, they become the same width.

For the major adjustment, I taped the yoke to the bottom piece of the back so I could work on them as one.  I made sure to overlap them by 5/8 inch to account for seam allowance.

Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538

Then I drew a line from the middle of the shoulder seam down to the waist and parallel to the grainline.  (I’m more or less quoting from the book, but since you may not be able to read the picture in the book, hopefully this will be helpful.)

Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538

 Next I drew two horizontal lines perpendicular to the one I had just drawn.  Line number one went from the middle of the armhole over to my first (vertical) line and line number two went from about 1 inch below the armhole to my vertical line.  Since line number one coincided with where the yoke joins, you can’t see it, but I’m pointing to the two new lines with my fingers in the picture below.

IMG_6Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538967

 Next, cut out along the lines you just drew so it looks like this:

Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538

 That little ‘almost rectangle’ you have is what you will slide out the amount you need for that half of your shirt (so, it’s half the total amount you need across your back).  In my case, I slid that piece over 1 1/4 inches.  The book notes that the maximum you should slide it out for sizes smaller than 16 is 1 inch.  For 16 and up, you can slide it a maximum of 1 1/2 inches.  Since I had cut a 16 at the bust and an 18 at the waist and hips, this worked for me, and would give me a total amount of 2 1/2 inches across my whole back when the shirt was cut out.

Once you slide that piece out the amount you need, place some paper beneath it and tape it down.  It helps if the paper extends out beyond the edges of your pattern by the armhole and side seam since you will have to redraw those areas now.

I found this part kind of tricky.  I felt like I was making it up as I went along, but here is what I did.  I used my curved ruler to redraw the seamline itself, and then I added my seam allowance in afterward.  I just sort of slid the ruler around until it seemed right.

Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538

Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538

I also had to redraw the area below the armhole, blending the armhole into the side seam.  Again, I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing, so I took my best guess.  Then I cut out my altered pattern pieces (back bottom and yoke).

Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538

Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538

Because my yoke piece was actually a full piece that I had folded in half to do my alterations on, I had to make sure that I had the correct and identical alterations on both edges.  Don’t forget to move any markings (like notches and dots) to an equivalent place on your altered pattern pieces.

A really great thing about this alteration is that it doesn’t change the length of the shoulder seam.  If it did, I would have to adjust the front shoulder seam as well.  The length of that seamline wasn’t my problem, and neither was the size I had chosen.  The width of the shoulders in the back was the issue (and one I also have with store-bought clothing in woven fabrics).  This alteration completely fixed that, and now the shirt is wonderfully comfortable across my shoulders.

Simplicity 1538

The other thing that I did was to lower the front dart by an inch.  I found my information for how to do that in The Perfect Fit as well.  As I mentioned above, The Curvy Sewing Collective did a great tutorial on this very thing.  If you find that dart height is an issue for you, you should check out that post.

Even thought I’m not going into the details, I will show you how my front pattern piece looked after I moved the dart down.

Lowering a bust dart on Simplicity 1538

Lowering a bust dart on Simplicity 1538

I’m glad I didn’t go any lower, and I was a little nervous that the inch had been too much, but after wearing the shirt often, I think it turned out great.

Simplicity 1538

Technical details now finished.  Time for pretty pictures!!!

We found the best background for these shots, and it was actually sunny, too.  All that color + sunshine makes me happy.

Simplicity 1538

Simplicity 1538

Simplicity 1538

And one little fabric and topstitching close-up.  Love those tigers!

Simplicity 1538

Wow!  That was the most technical post I’ve written in a long time (or ever?).  How about some fun?

Recommendations:

  • I’ve got another podcast for you!  Now that I’m out of school, I’m discovering that history is interesting.  😉  I can see how valuable it is to know the past because then you understand why things are the way they are today and how you can avoid the mistakes of the past (hopefully).  It’s also just interesting.  I have long loved “Stuff You Missed in History Class”, but now I have to add “The History of English Podcast” to my list as well.  I realized I was really into it when I went back to episode one and started binge-listening.  It’s not about technical things like grammar, but more a broad history lesson about how languages are related and how the English of today came to be.
  • Have you heard about Me Made May?  If you are a seamstress/stitcher/sewist you should check it out.  It’s a personal pledge to wear your handmades throughout May.  You can challenge yourself to wear one for the month, one every day, or all handmade all month.  It’s whatever you choose.  I participated last year and loved it, and I’m planning on doing it again this year.
  • One of my librarian friends recommended the movie “The Woman in Gold” to me.  (Thanks, Laura!)  It’s the story of one of Gustav Klimt’s most famous paintings, the family it belonged to, and justice long after a wrong had been committed.  Here is the trailer:

A Quartet of Briar Tops

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And here’s the last of my unselfish sewing…EVER.  Ok, just kidding.  At least for now.  I made myself another Briar top (by Megan Nielsen patterns) as well as two Mini Briars and one mash-up of an adult Briar and a kids’ Briar.

Megan Nielsen Briar and Mini Briar Tees

Megan Nielsen Briar and Mini Briar Tees

This is now my third Briar (number one in a double-layer knit is here and number two in Polartec is here), but it’s my first time making a Mini Briar.  I received all three of Megan’s children’s patterns as a thank you for being a pattern tester for the Mini Tania culottes (which are super-cute, by the way).  The children’s Briar is similar to the adult version, although not identical.  It came together very easily.  One thing I love about Megan Nielsen patterns is their visual clarity.  When I first started sewing garments, I was always intimidated by the busy and complicated look of the standard patterns you find in chain fabric stores.  Megan’s patterns are completely opposite to that.  They have a clean look to them that makes you feel confident you will be able to understand them.  Actually, I think that is the case with a lot of the independent pattern companies, which is a big plus.

Megan Nielsen Briar and Mini Briar Tees

It is a great advantage to have the same pattern in a kids’ version and an adult version when you are sewing for someone who doesn’t quite fit in either range, but is somewhere in the middle.  This was the case with the aqua and pink shirt.  It was great to be able to pull both patterns out, compare sizes and make a custom pattern from the two of them.  It was a bit of a head-scratcher at times, trying to figure it all out and make the best-fitting pattern possible, but all the problem-solving is one of the things I really like about sewing, so I enjoyed the challenge.

Megan Nielsen Briar and Mini Briar Tees

Megan Nielsen Briar and Mini Briar Tees

I ordered all of the deer fabric from Girl Charlee.  It’s a poly/cotton blend, so we’ll see how it wears over the long run.  The fabric for the short-sleeved Mini Briar is left over from a long ago project and is from Jo-Ann’s.

Sewing all these up reminded me that while I really love sewing knits because they are so forgiving, I still have a lot to learn.  I’m getting better at choosing stitches that work well, but I still get wavy collars that don’t sit right.  Part of the problem is that, in most cases, I’m not quite sure what I’m doing wrong.  In the aqua and pink shirt, I raised the neckline, but still used the original pattern piece for the neckband, which I should have shortened.  Lesson learned.  As for the other ones, they are pretty close, but not quite right.  Ironing helped, but I think I still need more practice.  Oh, well!

Overall, these are great shirts and they have been getting lots of wear.  It’s nice to see my t-shirt collection slowly getting more interesting and colorful, and it was fun to try out a kids’ pattern.  I think the recipients of the kids’ shirts were happy, too.  🙂

Megan Nielsen Briar Tee

Megan Nielsen Briar Tee

Megan Nielsen Briar Tee

Megan Nielsen Briar Tee

Recommendations

Here’s some fun stuff to check out over the weekend.

  • You have to see this dirndl on the Draped in Cloudlets blog.  I’m so impressed by the fit, subtle details, and sheer amount of work that must have gone into this!  The results are so beautiful, and really inspiring.  I think I may need a reason to sew a dirndl…
  • I’ve been listening to a lot of the folk/bluegrass music of Sarah Jarosz lately.  I don’t have a broad knowledge of music, but when I find someone I like, I tend to play their music to death.
  • I always figured that the one everyday clothing item I couldn’t make was shoes.  Then I saw these ballet flats that Jodie of Scared Stitchless made.  I’m happy to be proven wrong.  These are amazing.
  • Here’s another cool music video for you this week:  Wintergatan–Marble Machine.  The music is made by marbles being run through a machine by the artist.  Fascinating and lovely.

A New Button-Down Shirt: Butterick 5526

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It is a lovely, lovely thing to sew from a pattern you have made before and made positive fitting changes to.  I’m just learning how to fit things to my own body, and I used this pattern (Butterick 5526) for one of my first attempts, making a broad-back adjustment to it before trying a first draft.  In making this second shirt, I didn’t change anything.  Someday, someday, I will try a swayback adjustment, but since I can wear the shirt comfortably without it (and the fabric pools in my back, where I don’t normally see it), it just doesn’t feel as urgent.

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

Butterick 5526

Butterick 5526

The real feature of this edition of the shirt is this cool fabric.  I got is last summer at Field’s Fabric in Kalamazoo, MI.  If I remember correctly it’s from Robert Kaufman fabrics, and is a cotton.  Here’s the cool part:  it’s not actually purple.  It’s a trick on your eye.  The fabric is made of red threads woven perpendicularly to blue threads, and your eye sees it as purple.  Color theory in action!  (For an interesting read on color, page through Josef Albers’ book entitled Interaction of Color.  Mind blowing!)  The weave also gives the fabric a fascinating effect (I want to say “iridescent”, but that’s not quite right) in the light.

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

I chose to topstitch this shirt in red and used plain red buttons.  I searched high and low for cool, unique buttons, but in the end, these seemed right.

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

In future editions of this shirt, I’d like to use French seams inside, but I was sort of afraid they wouldn’t make it around the curves and I would get lumps.  However, Lauren of the blog Lladybird is the one who I copied convinced me to try this pattern after I saw her many versions, and she uses French seams, so I should give it a try, too, perhaps.  For now, let’s pretend the insides of my shirt, which I finished with a zigzag stitch and which consequently frayed in the wash, are a “design feature”.

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

And lest you think I’m aiming for the “moody” look in these posts, I’ve been sick all week, and I was still recovering when I took these (and the next few posts’) shots, so it might show.  I feel like I have to say this because when I take blog photos now, I always hear my Grandma’s voice in my head telling me to smile.  I tried, Grandma!

How about some “in progress” shots?

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

I’ve had this shirt done for a while and it’s gotten lots of wear.  The color is one I wear often, and the weight of the fabric is really, really nice.  It’s more substantial than my gingham version (which is not high quality fabric, really), and it feels like it will hold up a lot longer, too.  I love Robert Kaufman fabrics.  Even if I’m wrong about this being from them, I still love Robert Kaufman fabrics.

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

I hope you all have a good weekend.  I’m already feeling better than I was yesterday when I took these photos, so that’s hopeful.  Now how about some fun recommendations?

  • Thanks to the Thread Theory blog for featuring the Strathcona Henley and Jutland Pants that I made for my husband along with some other amazing things created from their patterns.  Check out all the great projects!  The coats blew my mind, and I was definitely eyeing the shorts for ideas for the future.
  • Also on the Thread Theory blog, several cool videos on how various sewing items are made.  I really liked that the scissors they showed are still largely made by hand, and seeing how pins and needles are made was fascinating.
  • This music video by OK Go is CRAZY (crazy awesome).  They always have the best music videos.  Do you think they did it in one take?

UNSELFISH SEWING??!!! Yes, Aliens Have Taken Over my Body. I Made My Husband a Thread Theory Strathcona Henley.

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Well, that about says it all.  Either aliens really can and do take over our minds and bodies, or I just had a rare bout of unselfish sewing under my own power.  Hard to judge sometimes.  😉

Before we get into this, I will say that this little bit of unselfish sewing (plus a shirt I sewed for my daughter AND pants for my husband…yes–MORE THAN ONE UNSELFISH PROJECT!) got me thinking.  Why do I make most of my clothing for myself?  Well, besides the fact that it’s fun and I like clothes, there is the reality that when you sew for someone else (or make anything for someone else), you have to work in a different way.  If I’m making a garment for myself and I make a mistake, I can decide if I care enough to fix it.  Sometimes I do, often I don’t.  I prefer to finish things over having them remain a perfect but unfinished project forever.  Making something for someone else (especially if there is money involved) means I have to work to a different standard.  I still have to finish the project AND it has to be at a higher level.  If picky people are involved, it goes to a whole new level, which is why I try to avoid sewing for those who are hard to please.  Even when sewing for someone who is not super picky, if the fit is off or they weren’t honest about what they really wanted, all your hard work ends up in a closet.

I guess it depends on who you are making it for and what they care about in a garment.  Luckily, in this case, my husband has seen enough of what goes into a garment and what it takes to finish it, that he isn’t going to get crazy about the details, but I’ve also been married to him long enough to know that it has to be finished to a certain level of wearability for it to be a true success.  But then, I guess that’s the case even when sewing for myself…

In the garment I’m going to show you, there are some mistakes, but I think my husband, being the awesome encourager that he is and actually wanting a finished garment, went with “imperfectly finished is better than perfectly unfinished forever”.

Let’s talk about the Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory!

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

I LOVE Henleys for both men and women.  A Henley, as I understand it, is sort of like a t-shirt, but with a partial button placket down the front.  This type of shirt is made from a knit and has a certain “woodsman” vibe.  Thread Theory really has that vibe down, making it possible for me to make L.L. Bean style clothes to my own preferences.  Also, these guys get a gold star for coolest packaging ever, even including a Thread Theory tag so you can sew it into your finished projects.

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

This year my one Black Friday purchase was a cool, double layer knit fabric from Cali Fabrics.  The outside is a grey rib knit and the inside is a soft off-white jersey.  The two layers are tacked together every so often making them work as one.  (I don’t see it on their site anymore, so I’m guessing it’s sold out.)  The garment pattern came from Pintuck & Purl in Exeter, NH.

I made Scott Variation 1 of the Strathcona Henley.  His measurements put him at a size Large, but since this is designed to be slim-fitting and he likes more ease in his clothing, I sized up to an extra-large.

I’ve never sewn a Henley before, so I was hoping this wouldn’t be too tricky.  There is a lot of helpful information in the pattern booklet, including width and length suggestions for your zig-zag stitch.  I ended up using a height of 2.5 and a length of 1 with a jersey needle and a walking foot on a standard sewing machine.  I found the button placket a little bit tricky (and frustrating) to do.  Since I’ve never done this type of thing before, I chalk that up to my own inexperience.  Perseverance paid off in the end, though.  If you make this yourself, you should definitely hand-baste the placket in place as suggested.  Just hand-baste everything!

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

The square at the bottom of my placket came out crooked, but that was one of those mistakes that you look at and move on.  My husband actually didn’t notice it until I mentioned it.  (Oops!)  I also think that my fabric, which was bulkier than a single layer would be, made things more difficult.  If I make a billion of these, I’ll have to report back on if this gets easier.  If you haven’t done this before, don’t be put off.  If I can do it, so can you!  You can’t expect your first time going through a technique to be perfect.  If it turns out perfect, great, but expect it to be imperfect.  You’re learning.

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

One really great thing about Thread Theory is that they have a lot of tutorials and sew-alongs online.  Morgan, one of the owners, is also very willing to answer questions.  I didn’t email her about this project, but I did about another pattern (still to be blogged), and she was really helpful.

Final analysis:  I like this pattern, and it looks GOOD on my husband!  You may not be able to tell from the pictures, since he rarely smiles in pictures, but he really likes it, too, and has worn it a lot.  😀  I LOVE how it turned out.  I’ve even thought of adapting it to fit me, but that is for another sewing season.  Cold weather sewing ended for me on Wednesday when I finished my last winter project.

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

And look!  I even got Scott to smile.  Ha ha!  Triumph!

Strathcona Henley by Thread Theory

And now for this week’s recommendations!  (Maybe “recommendations” can be my working title.  I still want a better title.  Suggestions?)

  • Smoothies!  Here is our general recipe, adapted from one we found in a magazine ages ago:  1/4c. flavored low-fat yogurt (like peach or strawberry), a splash of milk, 1 Tablespoon of peanut butter, some strawberries (maybe 2 c.?), a banana, a handful of ice, and maybe a handful of spinach (optional).  Top with cinnamon and whipped cream (and sprinkles aren’t a bad idea, either!).  Enjoy!  This makes enough for one tall glass.  I can usually triple it in my blender.
  • Looking for an interesting source of fashion inspiration?  If you are on Instagram, check out @artgarments to see fashion details found in paintings.
  • If you have kids in your life and like cooperative games, try Outfoxed! by Gamewright.  To beat the game, you all have to work together to uncover clues and reveal suspects until you have an idea of which fox stole the pot pie.  If the fox escapes before you guess correctly, you lose!
  • Have you ever watched “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On”?  It’s so cute!

Take Two: Megan Nielsen Briar T-Shirt

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

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

Here are the details:

As mentioned, I used the pattern below.

My awesome Briar

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

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

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

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

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

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

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

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

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

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

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

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

Here is the shirt from the inside:

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

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

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

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

As Promised: Butterick 5526 Women’s Button Down Shirt with a Broad Back Adjustment

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As Promised:  Butterick 5526 Women’s Button Down Shirt with a Broad Back Adjustment

Hi, friends!  Here we are today with lots of pictures and words on Butterick 5526, which is a women’s button down shirt.

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

Butterick 5526

Butterick 5526

After my last button down, which was a little bit tight through the back/shoulder area, I decided to learn about how to do a broad back adjustment and measure things on the pattern before I cut my fabric.  The ever-helpful Maggie from Pintuck & Purl put me on the right track, and I found my final and very detailed answer courtesy of The Perfect Fit volume of the Singer Sewing Reference Library.  I cannot recommend these books enough!  One of the best parts is that they are often easy to find used at a very low price!  Mine were a gift, but I have bought one or two volumes that I didn’t have.

Singer Sewing Reference Library

Now is the point where things will get technical.  If you are just here for the pictures and general stuff, feel free to start scrolling at this point.  I’ll let you know when it’s over.

The book instructed me to have someone measure my back between the creases of my arms.

Making a broad back adjustment

I measured about 6″-7″ down from the prominent bone at the base of my neck.  The instructions said to measure 4″-6″ down, but I went a little lower so I could measure at the top of my arm creases.  My back width was 16 3/4″, and the book advised a minimum ease of 1/2″-1″ for a blouse, meaning my garment should measure 17 1/4″-17 3/4″ across the back.  The back width of the pattern was 16 1/2″, so I needed to add 1 1/4″ total or 5/8″ to the pattern piece (since the pattern piece was only half of the back of the shirt).

The book gives you instructions for making a minor adjustment and a major adjustment.

Making a broad back adjustment

Because of the amount I needed to add, I used a major adjustment.  The minor adjustment was appropriate for a total addition of 1/2″ for sizes under 16 and 3/4″ for 16 and larger.  The major adjustment is good for 2″ total in sizes under 16 and 3″ total in sizes 16 and up.  By ‘total’ I mean the amount across a full size back pattern piece.  If you are adding to a pattern piece representing half of the back, as I was, you would cut those ‘total’ amounts in half.  I chose the major adjustment because the amount I needed was more than the amount listed under the minor adjustment instructions.

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

One puzzling part that I ran into is that the example shows a pattern piece without princess seams.  My pattern has princess seams.  I was a little worried since this was my first time making this adjustment.  What I ended up doing was taping the pattern pieces for the back and the side back together where they would be sewn together at the underarm and doing the adjustment across both pieces.  Then, I just crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.  The good thing was that, although I love the fabric I chose, it was also very inexpensive (it may have been around $3-$5 a yard), so if I really messed up, I wasn’t out too much money.

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

The above picture probably isn’t the most helpful because I set the pieces together after the fact.  I should have taken in-progress pictures, but I didn’t think of it.  Below are the individual back and side back pieces after the adjustment.

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

After making the adjustment to the pattern, I cut everything out, and sewed it all up.  This wasn’t a difficult pattern, but I was really happy that I had my last shirt under my belt.  It helped me to have an idea of how long things were going to take.  Shirts have a lot of little steps, but they are really satisfying to make.  I followed the directions as written, with the exception of going back and zigzagging my seam allowances that hadn’t been topstitched down.  At some point I may use a more polished finish.

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

In my initial tracing of the pattern, going by my measurements, I made a 16 in the bust and graded out to an 18 for the waist and hips.  I found this to be very comfortable, and I wore it to the wedding I mentioned in the last post, but I sort of felt like there were little “wings” at the sides.  So, after getting home, I basted the side seams to be a little smaller, guessing how the shirt might have fit had I cut a straight size 16.

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

I was worried that it would be tight across the middle, but it’s not at all.  It still has plenty of ease, but it removes the “wing” effect.  For my next shirt, I retraced the waist and hip part of the pattern and cut it down to a 16.

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

The most technical parts are done!  Read on for less detailed information.  🙂

For others interested in making this pattern, I would say that this still has a fair amount of ease.  If you like your shirts to fit more closely, you may want to measure the pattern pieces and decide if you want to size down further.

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

The less technical details of the shirt include pink topstitching.  I got some nice Gutermann thread for this.  I also found some crystal buttons at a nearby quilt store, Loom ‘N Shuttle.  I like the fanciness it gives the shirt.  😉

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

I also cut the cuffs, collar, collar stand, and plackets on the bias.  I was hoping it would work out ok since I was going to interface those parts with a fusible interfacing, and it worked out great.  You can see that  a little bit in the picture below.  I really like the effect.

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

I found out about this pattern by reading Lauren’s blog, Lladybird.  She has the power to make me want to try out just about any pattern, and she wasn’t wrong on this one.  I’ve got another one in progress with more of the fabric I bought last summer, and I’m contemplating future versions in basic white and black.  This pattern is a winner.

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

Now I just have to go back and try the broad back adjustment on Simplicity 1538.  I think that one needs a larger adjustment, though, so I put it on the back burner while I work on a few other projects.

One last thing before I go…I love getting recommendations, sewing and otherwise, from other bloggers.  If you’ve ever listened to the While She Naps podcast, you’ll notice Abby and her guests sharing recommendations at the end of the show.  I love that.  So, when I have something fun that I am really enjoying, sewing or otherwise, I’m going to put it at the end of the post in case you want to try it, too.  This isn’t advertising.  No one is paying me to write this blog.  It’s just stuff that is fun for me right now or a really great reference that I like.  That’s why I’m going to call it:  This is fun now…at least until I think of a better title.  Feel free to suggest titles–I’m listening.

This is fun now:  Today’s recommendation (other than the Singer Sewing Reference Library) is an etsy jewelry shop called Adam Rabbit.  I’ve been a fan for a few years now and my family has been nice enough to get me some of the jewelry in the shop the last few Christmases.  If you like chunky, rough gemstones and a style you might find in Free People or Urban Outfitters, you may enjoy this one.  The owner occasionally has deals for Instagram followers, too.  Enjoy!

Field Trip: Denver, Colorado

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My latest field trip is way outside my normal stomping grounds!  Earlier this month, my husband and I took a trip to Denver, Colorado for a wedding.  We almost never get away just the two of us, and definitely not to far-away places, so this was a pretty big deal!  We had such a great time at the wedding and a lot of fun exploring Denver and the surrounding area.

Of course there was sewing involved.  I used the wedding as a chance to challenge myself to come up with a creative outfit.  In the end, I took apart a bridesmaid dress that I had in storage and turned it into a skirt (which involved a lot more work that I thought it would!).  I also made a button down shirt with a pattern that I had been planning to try out (Butterick 5526).  This included making a broad back adjustment to the pattern before I cut it out (hopefully more on that in a future blog post).  After that, it was all about finding great colors to finish things off.  Here’s my final ensemble:

Fancy Wedding Clothes!

Wedding clothes!

I found the sweater on sale at J.Crew, and the earrings and bobby pin (which are harder so see, but they had gorgeous Swarovski crystals) on clearance at TJ Maxx.  I already had the tights, which was a good thing because white tights for women are harder to find that I thought!

Also…check out these shoes!

Fancy Wedding Clothes!

Thank you, Boden sale (and Christmas money!).  I had been saving up for some black heels, but in the end, the fancy shoes won out.

All of the colors together just made me so happy!  I love color!  This wasn’t anywhere near my original outfit ideas, but I’m so happy with how it all turned out.  It was so comfortable, and I know I’ll wear all the pieces again, both together and separately (actually, I’m wearing the shirt and earrings as I type).

The wedding and reception took place in a really cute barn outside of Denver.  The bride was gorgeous and everything was so beautiful.  Lots of our friends were there, and we all had a great time.

When we weren’t at the wedding, we explored the cute mountain town of Evergreen.  I have to recommend The Muddy Buck coffee shop if you are ever there.  I didn’t get any good pictures of it, but here are a few of Evergreen:

Evergreen, Colorado

Evergreen, Colorado

Evergreen, Colorado

My friend and I kept saying we couldn’t believe it was a real town.  It was so cute.  We felt like we were at a theme park or something.  The only thing I didn’t like was the curvy mountain roads!  They were good highways, but they are so curvy and very dark when the sun is down.

I also got a good (luckily not first-hand) education while in Colorado:

Colorado

Colorado

After spending some time in more mountainous areas, we took a day to head into Denver and explore there.  The bride’s parents had given us a bunch of fun recommendations of things to try in the area, and one of them was the Denver Biscuit Co.  I highly recommend this one.

Denver Biscuit Co.

I ordered the DBC Club.  Delicious.

We also spent a little lot of time in Fancy Tiger Crafts!!!!

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

When I got there, it was even bigger better than I had imagined!

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

And, I must say, their sales staff is just lovely!  I admitted to one of the ladies that I was kind of freaking out inside with excitement.  She said she felt the same way for the first month when she started working there.  🙂  Everyone was very friendly and really helpful.

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

During this next paragraph, you should read between the lines that MY HUSBAND IS AWESOME.  I was in Fancy Tiger Crafts for 2.5 hours.  Yes.  It’s true.  There was JUST. SO. MUCH.  I couldn’t make a decision.  I knew I wanted a few crafty badges (like Girl Scout badges for crafters), and I decided to get Deer and Doe’s Datura Blouse pattern…but then I got stuck.  I had fabric money, but what to spend it on?  They say that beggars can’t be choosers, but I say that when you are on a budget, every purchase has to count.  I didn’t want to buy something I wouldn’t use or wear.  Choice overload.

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

It was at this point that my husband gently suggested that we might want to go over to the Denver Biscuit Co. (before they closed), get some lunch, and come back afterward.

It was just what I needed.  Food and a little time to think.  When we went back, I found four fabrics to make up two Datura Blouses and with some help on the yardage calculations from the lovely Jaime herself, I was out of there in 15 minutes.

Lesson learned.  Sometimes you need to take a step back when you get overwhelmed to give yourself time to think.

Want to see what I got?

Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado

I also picked up two knitting badges for some friends.  I’m hoping this loot will serve me well when summer sewing fever hits.

Believe it or not, we even had time to do a little more exploring after that!

Denver, Colorado

Other fun highlights from the trip included pizza at Beau Jo’s in Idaho Springs and Evergreen, Tattered Cover Book Store, Revampt, and the mountains!

Colorado

Colorado

These pictures don’t even begin to do them justice.

It was a great trip and a real blessing to be at such a special wedding with so many friends.

Next time (hopefully):  the nitty gritty on sewing Butterick 5526.

My Imperfectly Awesome Briar Sweater

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

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

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

Double layer fabric from Pintuck & Purl in Exeter, NH

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

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

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

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

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

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

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

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

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

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater