Tag Archives: skirt

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

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

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

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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

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

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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

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

Do you think it worked?

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Skirt front (above)

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Skirt back (above)

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Inside back (above)

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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

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

Recommendations

  • On Wednesday I made the Blueberry Poppyseed Snacking Cake from the Seven Spoons cookbook, and now I just want to eat that all the time.  I know this would be unwise, so I gave the last piece away before I could eat it.
  • I have some old gaiters from L.L. Bean that I just love.  They don’t sell the exact style I have anymore, so this is the closest I could find, but they are great if it’s snowy out and I don’t feel like putting snow pants on.  I can walk through several inches of snow without it getting in my shoes or on my pants.  I used them for a walk on Thursday, and it just reminded me of how much I love them.
  • Is orange the new black?  Are doughnuts the new croissants?  Do you like to say that _____ is the new ______ ?  Then check out this fun and funny website, where each time you click, you get a new ‘this is the new that’.
  • This week I found out that everything is better with doodles.  😉
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The Refashioners 2016

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It’s finally time to talk about The Refashioners 2016!

Refashioners 2016

I’ve been waiting a long time to share my #jeanius project with you.

The Refashioners is a challenge created by Portia Lawrie of Makery that showcases creative ways to refashion whatever the chosen garment for that year’s challenge is.  If you’ve been following along, you already know that this year’s garment of choice is jeans (#jeanius!).  Check out what I made!

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

I’ve written about my creative process over on Makery, but if you want more details on working with the particular pattern I chose, Vogue 8750, you’ve come to the right place.

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

As soon as Portia sent us our brief for this year’s Refashioners challenge, the gears in my mind started turning.  My local big box fabric store was having a pattern sale, so I went down there with notebook and pencil in hand, sat down in front of the big pattern catalogue books, and started making list.  Lists and lists of patterns that I might be able to create out of different pairs of jeans.  I decided to look for something that had multiple narrow pieces so I could cut them out of jeans legs.  I finally settled on Vogue 8750, a skirt pattern.  I chose View A, which is the shorter (but not actually short) pencil skirt.  This looked like it had a lot of possibility for color-blocking, and I was hoping to find some super-cool denim at my local thrift store.

With the help of a pattern and all the inspiration on my then-secret Denim Pinterest board, I went to my thrift store looking to find some railroad denim or…something inspiring. (I have a little railroad denim obsession at the moment).  No railroad denim.  But I did find…THIS!  Yellow denim, white, denim with hearts, and my own older pairs of dark blue.  Now it was all coming together!

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Last year’s Refashioner’s contest helped me make a move up from beginner to intermediate sewist. However, still not being super experienced, I don’t always make a muslin.  (Who am I kidding?  I skip it whenever I can.)  I know…I know…  It’s helpful, and I’m moving in that direction, but I’m not there for every project.  I actually DID make a practice garment for this one, though.  I made two, even!

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

The first showed me that I needed to size down.

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

A lot of people say they find this with Big 4 sewing patterns–I typically don’t, but in this case it was necessary, so it’s a good thing I made a muslin.  I used the second muslin to try lowering where the skirt sat on my hips and practice putting it all together a bit more.  The pattern tells you to ease the top of the skirt to the ribbon facing, but I had a lot of trouble with this and didn’t really want the skirt up at my natural waist.  I found that skipping the easing and just cutting a ribbon to match the top of the skirt solved both problems.

Muslins can also be a great way to procrastinate on cutting into your final fabric while appearing busy.  😉  I finally got up my courage, though, and found that I could easily fit my pattern pieces onto the jeans I had chosen (large men’s jeans for the white and yellow).  I tried out using one pair of children’s jeans for my middle panel, but had to backtrack when I saw that it just didn’t work.

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

The thing I wish I had done (and I’m still not sure how or why I didn’t after two practice garments) was think about how and when I was going to finish my seams.  I realized part way into my final draft that I really wanted to bind the edges of the seams with bias tape.  This is something best done as you go along and before you join various parts.  You can see a few places where my bias binding doesn’t go all the way to the edge of the seam.  Lesson learned.  I actually contemplated starting over when I realized that (plus, I was getting pretty good at making this pattern after a couple of versions), but it seemed to defeat the purpose of refashioning to throw an otherwise good garment-in-the-making out because of one little detail.

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

The other interesting thing I discovered was that sometimes, in matching up seamlines (namely on the sides), it wasn’t about moving the pieces up or down to get them to match, but making the seam allowances the correct width for them to match. One of my sides matched immediately, and the other took several passes through the machine, taking the side in millimeter by millimeter in order to get it to match.  The skirt in-progress looked messy and crazy, but as I got things lined up, trimmed and bound my seams, and finished edges, it came together into something that looked polished.

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

When I finally finished, I had a thing of beauty.  It’s certainly not perfect, but I’m proud of it.  I think the best compliment I got was when I was in Rockport, Massachusetts shooting pictures, and I stopped in an art gallery.  Rockport is famous for its artists, and one of the artists in the gallery complimented me on my outfit.  When a person who spends their life looking for beauty compliments you on your outfit, you know you’ve done something right!  😉

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

Refashioners 2016:  Jeanius

My favorite thing about this challenge is that it makes me think like an artist. You get your parameters, but within them you have freedom.  How far can you push it?  What will you do to make your garment distinctive?  Will it be simple and sleek or heavily embellished?  This is what I talk about in more depth in my post on the Makery blog.  If you haven’t already, I hope you check it out and look through all the other posts as well to get some inspiration.  What do you think?  Will you be diving in?  There’s a pretty tempting prize package!

Last, but never least, thank you to my photographers–my husband Scott and my friend Colleen.  I appreciate your help SO MUCH!

Rainbow Skirt: Simplicity 2215

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Let’s pretend that Jackson Pollock was a finger-painter instead of a paint flinger.  Then, we can pretend he painted the fabric for my skirt.

Simplicity 2215; Skirt

This is not what happened since Jackson Pollock is no longer with us and I don’t think the little I know of his personality matches up with a rainbow skirt, but oh well.  Sometimes it’s fun to imagine things.

So how about a new skirt?  🙂  Here’s what I’ve got for you today.

After the beloved outfit I created to wear to my friend’s wedding in January, I decided that I really wanted to find a pattern that was similar to that skirt.  The original skirt has pockets, pleats, a waistband, and is just the right length.  I could teach myself how to copy or draft this, but I don’t want to!  Right now, I just want to sew.  I came up with a few contenders, but one of the most promising was Simplicity 2215, a Cynthia Rowley design.  I was able to get this pattern at a Jo-Ann’s pattern sale for a few bucks.  I love those pattern sales for building my pattern library (and I do think of it as a library!).

Simplicity 2215; Skirt

Simplicity 2215; Skirt

I decided to pair that pattern with some stretch twill that I got at Hancock Fabrics in Indiana last summer.  I kind of wish I had more of that fabric.  It would be great for a pencil skirt or some close-fitting pants AND it contains nearly every color of the rainbow in the hues that I like to wear.  It does NOT contain purple, but it just so happens that purple looks great with it!

Simplicity 2215; Skirt

The details (a.k.a. a good time to skim if you are not into sewing details):

I made a size 18 with no adjustments, and I made View C, the skirt.  (You can also use this pattern to make a sleeveless button down shirt or dress).

Simplicity 2215; Skirt

There is a note in the pattern that states that the pleats are uneven on purpose.  I was glad for that note, so I didn’t have to waste time wondering what was going on with them.  After cutting out the fabric, I took a long time to mark each pleat and even to draw in the arrows so that I would know which way to fold the fabric.  This was really helpful.

Simplicity 2215; Skirt

Simplicity 2215; Skirt

The only other necessary items beyond fabric that you need for this skirt are some interfacing, a little bit of lining fabric for the pockets (I think I used a scrap of handkerchief linen because I liked the white color), an invisible zipper, a hook closure, and thread.  I bought my zipper at Jo-Ann’s, but everything else was in my stash.  The one great thing that I have never had before but had this time was my new invisible zipper foot!  I got that at Marie’s Sewing Center in Woburn, MA, which is where my Mom got my sewing machine a bunch of years ago.  They gave me a 25% discount on the zipper foot!  🙂

After the cutting, which wasn’t hard, and the marking, which took awhile, the sewing was pretty easy.  I was nervous as I put in the zipper, hardly believing that the whole invisible thing would really work, but it did!  I was so happy!  One sort of odd thing (to me, at least), was that the zipper, rather than being in the back, is right next to one of the pockets.

Simplicity 2215; Skirt

I think I would prefer it in the back, but it’s not really a big deal.  The fit is very comfortable, but maybe on the slightly looser side.  The nice thing is that this allows it to sit a little bit below my natural waist, which I like, but I could potentially size down.  That’s a decision for another time, though.  I also added a little ribbon tag because I was afraid I would put the skirt on the wrong way otherwise!  😉

Simplicity 2215; Skirt

And that was it!  New skirt!  (I may not look excited in these pictures, but don’t worry, I am.  I was just under the weather on photo day.)

Simplicity 2215; Skirt

Simplicity 2215; Skirt

I realized at the end of last spring/summer that I didn’t have many skirts in my wardrobe for those seasons, so I’m very happy to add this one.  I can see wearing it with both my purple button-down, as pictured, and my pink and white gingham shirt (both Butterick 5526).  That last one will be some crazy pattern on pattern…which will be great!  I’d recommend this pattern to anyone who is interested in this type of skirt.  The other views in the pattern look pretty cool, too.

Now for some fun recommendations to enjoy over the weekend (or any time!):

  • I know I’ve reviewed it before, but it’s still a favorite for me:  The King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking cookbook.  It doesn’t help you hide gross-tasting, “healthy” whole grains in your food…it has delicious recipes made with whole grains.  In fact, I have a Peach-Blueberry Cobbler in the oven right now!
  • I just checked out Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book by Gretchen Hirsch from my library.  It’s her newest book, and it looks really good so far.  Whether or not you are a big dress wearer, this book is full of amazing reference material.  I feel that this is a bit beyond my current sewing skills in an exciting way that makes me want to learn more.
  • Spring!  Want to know my favorite source for really interesting seeds?  Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  I discovered them through a Martha Stewart Living magazine article years ago.  Their catalogue is one of the highlights of  my winter.  Sadly, this year, garden planning has gone by the wayside (Surprisingly, it is not actually possible to sew all the things, cook and bake all the things, forage for all the things, grow all the things, and decorate all the things plus be a phenomenal wife, mother, and friend!  Who knew?), but most years I order in January or February because it’s just so exciting to think about spring.
  • As an American who wishes we had more bike paths, I find this video on Bicycle Rush Hour in Utrecht (Netherlands) really fascinating:

Happy weekend!

A Vintage Blanket Becomes a Skirt

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Years ago some amazing sewing ladies who are my mother’s friends, gave me a vintage wool blanket (among other things).  They had a business repairing antique quilts, as well as upcycling quilts that couldn’t be repaired and turning them into handmade goods.  When they moved on to other things, they gave me some of their fabric and thread.  I didn’t sew much at the time, but being a creative person, they thought I might be able to use the things.

One of my favorite items was part of a woolen blanket with two sets of initials on it.  It was a winter white with two blue stripes and navy embroidery, and although I didn’t know its story, it seemed special.  I put it aside until just the right project presented itself.  It finally seemed that I had found the perfect use for it when I saw the Brumby Skirt by Megan Nielsen.  I knew it might not work…but I also knew it might.

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

That idea, that sort of razor’s edge between working or not working is what makes creative endeavors so exciting.  I love to try projects where I am more sure of the outcome.  I get a lot of satisfaction from them, but it really gets interesting when you ask the question, “Will it work?”  I think this is a question that some of the best art and the best fashion have at their heart.  Sometimes the outcome is terrible.  Sometimes it’s ok.  But sometimes it goes beyond what you imagined.

I don’t think this project reached the level of being beyond all I imagined, but the act of walking that line made the project exciting.  Could I create a skirt from this blanket?  Would it be too thick to sew?  Would it lay right?  I’ll tell you from the outset that I love this skirt.  It’s not perfect.  It doesn’t give me an enviable form or lack mistakes.  But I still say it works because some of my big goals in sewing are to create clothing that is unique and interesting.  (And I get to wear a blanket as a skirt in winter!  Always a worthwhile goal!)

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

So, let’s get into some details.  The skill that I hoped to learn in this project was how to create a lining, so I bought some Bemberg rayon lining from Joann’s and leaned heavily on the book Easy Guide to Sewing Linings by Connie Long.

Easy Guide to Sewing Linings by Connie Long

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Maggie from Pintuck & Purl helped me think through my process for creating the waistband, which included lining it with some fabric from my stash and omitting the interfacing.

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

I found a plain navy fabric in my stash for the inside of the pockets.  Since the edge of the blanket was already finished, I decided to omit the hem.  This also saved me fabric, since I had a limited amount of blanket to work with.  In order to do that, I marked the place I would have turned the fabric up to sew the hem and used that as the new bottom line for my skirt.  You can see it faintly below.

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Like vintage fabric sometimes does, this blanket had some light stains.  I tried using a stain remover to get them out, but it didn’t work, so I did my best to cut around the ones I could.  The rest just had to remain.  I did run into a little bit of trouble while sewing in the zipper.  It wasn’t quite even at the top, but since this is for me, and I get to decide what I will and won’t fix, I just folded the extra over and sewed it down.  Problem solved.

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

I also decided to do a decorative topstitch above the seam that joins to waistband to the skirt, just to make sure everything was tacked down.

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

I wanted this done before winter was over, so I was pretty motivated to get it finished.  The days after I finished it were cold, so I could wear it right away!

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

I really like the skirt.  I don’t think it’s going to be the most flattering look, but I just love its interesting uniqueness.  My sister says I need a clever response when asked what the initials stand for.  Any ideas?  (Keep it clean!)

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

It’s really warm and comfortable and love all the different parts I incorporated–lining, colored pockets, and patterned waistband.  I deem it a sewing success.

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt made from a vintage blanket

I haven’t yet had a chance to blog a few of my other winter projects, but as far as sewing things goes, this was my last winter make.  I’m on to spring sewing.  I’ll still post the few made-in-winter projects I haven’t shown you yet, but this is the only garment that will probably be worn exclusively in the winter, so I wanted to blog it before spring came.

Recommendations (Yea!)

  • As I come to love hand-sewing more, I find my interest in embroidery being renewed and growing, too.  In that vein, I’ve found some really fun embroidery artists.  An etsy shop I recently discovered is cozyblue handmade.  They have embroidery patterns, etc.  I’m a fan of the Sea Captain.
  • If you listen to podcasts, I’ve just found a new one that I like:  The Seams podcast.  It’s about clothing and the stories connected to it. Jacki Lyden does a great job of interviewing a wide variety of people and looking at clothing from many angles.
  • If you like to garden, but sometimes feel nervous because you don’t really know your plants’ intentions, you should watch “Indoor Gardening Tips from a Man Who’s Very Scared of Plants”.  Problem:  SOLVED!

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.

The Brumby Skirt from Megan Nielsen Patterns

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Today I’m happy to share with you one of my latest projects, the Brumby Skirt from Megan Nielsen Patterns!

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

I really went back and forth on this one before starting and did lots of “research” checking out others’ versions of it around the web.  I’m still not super sure if I like the high-waisted skirt look on me, but I thought I would give it one more try before deciding for certain, especially since I won this pattern in the Refashioners contest and had the perfect fabric for it–some linen from Pintuck & Purl!

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

 I made Version 1, the shortest version, in a large.  My original thought was to make it longer.  If I’m wearing a closer-fitting skirt, like a pencil skirt, I feel ok with this length because I can feel the skirt on the back of my legs and I know I’m not exposing myself.  In a fuller skirt, though, you can’t always feel the back of the skirt, which worries me at times…

So, I planned to make it closer to knee-length.  I had, however, read Lauren/Lladybird’s post on her Brumby skirt and remembered that she said she had been underwhelmed before hemming, but loved the skirt when it was the specified length.  Well, my experience was exactly the same.

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

I made it up but didn’t hem it, and it was very blah.  So, I decided to pin it up to the length in the pattern…and that’s when it happened.  I don’t know how she did it, but Megan Nielsen put some magic in this pattern.  When you hem it, it transforms!  I love it!

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

So, here are some details and design decisions I made.  Initially I was going to put in this gorgeous silver zipper that I bought at Pintuck & Purl, but I would have had to shorten it…and it was a metal zipper.  I know it’s possible, but not having ever tried this, I didn’t think I wanted to try it for the first time on a very fancy zipper.  I also thought about topstitching in silver (I was really getting wooed by that silver thread!), but in the end, I decided on black thread and a metal zipper with black tape (that I wouldn’t have to shorten).  I realized this would make the skirt more every-day in a good way (i.e. it will get worn more).  I’ll save my fancy zipper for a future project.

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

Back view with exposed zipper

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

Front view–it’s hard to see the topstitching, but it’s there!

 Things I wondered about before starting this project had to do with ease around the waist and the depth of the pockets.  Having only made the one high-waisted skirt (the apple skirt), I wasn’t sure how things would work out if the finished measurement was the same as my actual waist measurement.  I wondered this with the apple skirt, too, so I actually added a few inches to the waistband to be safe.  With this pattern, I decided to risk it and just made it as it was printed, and it worked out great!  It’s very comfortable and not too tight at all.

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

I noticed in my travels around the web that the pockets looked deep enough that they weren’t actually supporting anyone’s hands–which is the case.  It’s like your hands are straight down at your sides…but I still love those huge pockets.  I can keep things in them and you can’t even tell!

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

I did end up doing just a little topstitching at the edges of the pockets (which was an optional suggestion) so that they wouldn’t stand out as much, and that has been great.  I also managed to catch the bottom edge of the pockets in my hem on the inside, which tacks them down nicely.

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

As far as seam finishing goes, I just zigzagged in the seam allowance and then trimmed the seam with pinking shears.  This does lead to some strings and fraying after washing, but I think that will stop soon.  This fabric is a nice, substantial bottom weight, and French seams didn’t sound like fun on this one.

This was a fun and easy pattern.  I am sort of curious about how it would look in wool–I have a few pieces that were given to me.  With these cozy fleece-lined tights, I wore this skirt four out of seven days.  Yes–I totally do that, especially if I’m not going to see the same people every day, but don’t worry–there were some laundry days in there.  😉  I think this will be a great early fall, late spring, and summer skirt.  The more I see of Megan Nielsen’s company, the more impressed I am.

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

Before I go, I want to let you know that I updated my last post with a few more pictures of the inside of the shirt I made.  Go on over and check it out if you want to see more.  🙂

The Apple Picking Skirt

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It was time for a crazy-sewing-lady skirt.  What came from this determination was “The Apple Picking Skirt”!

Pink Apples Dirndl Skirt

As I’ve sewn more and more, I’ve used awesomely patterned quilting cotton less and less, but let’s be honest:  quilting cotton has the MOST FUN prints!  So, I decided that I needed a skirt (or a dress or a…something) out of some really cool quilting cotton.  Who should step in the fill the gap but Melody Miller of Cotton + Steel and her super cool Picnic collection.

Melody Miller:  Picnic (Apples Pink)

This was the project I chose after finishing my jacket for the Refashioners challenge.  I still had/have a few projects on my “big ‘ol batch of sewing” list (good name, right?), but I needed something quick and easy…and with only one or two new concepts to learn.  So, I checked out Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing by Gretchen Hirst from my library for the billionth time (I really need to buy a copy!) and used her instructions to create a dirndl skirt, which is basically two rectangles sewn together with a rectangular waistband at the top.  I’d never made one of these types of skirts before, and I wanted to try it.  I also wanted to try using horsehair braid to make the hem stand away from my body.

Pink Apples Dirndl Skirt

And it was fun!  And easy!

So, let’s talk about a few details.  I ordered my fabric from fabric.com, and got my horsehair braid from Pintuck & Purl.  Maggie, the shop owner, gave me some information on using it, and between that and Gretchen’s book, I was golden.  I got the pink zipper at Joann’s, and in my button collection (a gift from my in-laws’ attic), I found the BEST button!  Check this out!

Pink Apples Dirndl Skirt

It’s a squirrel!  And it looks like it’s holding the apple!  Thanks, Mom!

This was certainly a project of details.  It’s such a simple skirt, that I had fun on those extras.  I’m really convinced that the things that make clothing special (besides quality construction and style lines) are fabric and details.  Even in the thrift store I use fabric as a guide, looking along the rows of clothing for stand-out fabric, and only then considering the garment.

Since I mentioned details, I have another favorite detail on this skirt–the tag!

Pink Apples Dirndl Skirt

I didn’t realize until the last time I was up at Pintuck & Purl and was talking to some of the other ladies at the Sip & Stitch night that Cotton + Steel always has cool selvedges.  This fabric had all the information about the designer and the line and all that, but it also had this cute little section that said, “I made something pretty for you!”  Well, selfish seamstress that I am, I changed “you” to “me”, and I sewed it to the back of my skirt.

Now is when fantasy clashes with reality.  Would I really wear this apple picking?  No.  But I did wear it to church, and it’s making the beginning of fall feel pretty fun (I was having a hard time letting go of summer after the last winter we had.).

Pink Apples Dirndl Skirt

While I was making this, I spotted Jenny’s cool skirt featuring fabric with a map of London on her blog, Cashmerette.  I felt we were thinking on the same wavelength, which I liked, since she’s pretty cool.

Now that all is said and done, I’m not sure this is my favorite silhouette on me, but I think I’m going to try at least one more high-waisted, gathered skirt (from a different pattern) before I decide for sure.  Sometimes new silhouettes just take a little getting used to.

So, what about you?  Do you try to go incognito with your sewing projects so everyone will think they are store-bought or do you like to stand out and embrace looking “homemade”?

Whatever you are sewing, I hope it makes you excited for the season ahead and drives you on to make more projects in the future!

Pink Apples Dirndl Skirt

Alabama Chanin Long Skirt, New England Style

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just kidding.

 

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