Tag Archives: spring

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

I’m really excited about the jeans I have to share with you today.  I love all the details I put into them!  Just like the gingham shirt from last week, jeans provide a fun chance to experiment with details.

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

I made the decision to swap one of the tops (Simplicity 2255) on my 2017 Make Nine plan for some Ginger Jeans, partly because I needed some jeans, but also because I was no longer sure if that top was the right use for the precious fabric I had planned for it.

I knew that Me-Made-May was coming up, and I needed more pants, AND, last but not least, Pintuck & Purl was hosting a Jeans Sewing Master Class with Heather Lewenza of Closet Case Patterns, maker of the Ginger Jeans pattern…and, you know, I thought that warranted a new pair.  😉

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

I am both completely in love with these jeans and slightly annoyed by the subtle fit issues that I didn’t notice until after these were finished.  We can leave the annoyances until later–let’s talk about the fun stuff!

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

I knew before I even had the fabric that I wanted to use yellow exposed zippers on these (partly because I completely forgot to put them in my green pair), and I knew I could do it because I learned how when making my Refashioners 2015 jacket (worn in the picture above).  The instructions come from the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing (1976 edition), my favorite sewing reference.

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

I’ll give you a quick rundown of the other supplies I used and where they are from, in case you are curious (I’m always curious about these sorts of things.).  Also, I know there are a billion links in this post.  I love information, and I want you to have all the information I have in case it will help you.  None of these are affiliate links, although I do work part-time at Pintuck & Purl.

  • Ginger Jeans pattern by Closet Case Patterns:  Pintuck & Purl
  • stretch denim: Pintuck & Purl
  • yellow exposed zippers:  ZipIt Zippers on Etsy (a really great shop for zippers!)
  • sparkly gold fly zipper:  Pintuck & Purl
  • jeans button:  Wawak
  • yellow Gutermann topstitching thread and navy Gutermann construction thread:  Jo-Ann Fabrics
  • red Coats topstitching thread: either Pintuck & Purl or Jo-Ann’s
  • interfacing:  Jo-Ann Fabrics
  • Amy Butler Daisy Chain fabric for pockets, waistband lining, and bias tape on the hem:  ?? (I can’t remember where I got this!  It’s been in my stash for a long time.)
  • gold leather patch:  a gift from Elizabeth Berthoud of Sac A main

One great discovery with this pair of jeans is that my Singer Featherweight sewing machine does great with Gutermann topstitching thread.  I was ready to swear that thread off because it didn’t do well in my Elna 3005 the last time I made jeans, but this time I set up both machines so I could use my Elna for construction and my Featherweight for topstitching, and both machines did great with their respective threads.  I used the red Coats topstitching thread in the Elna and it worked great.  It’s so rare that anything disagrees with my Elna that I assumed the problem was with the thread, but I’m glad I tried the Gutermann with the other machine (admittedly, I only did this because it was the only yellow/gold topstitching thread I had on hand and I didn’t want to run out to get more).

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

So, with the exception of the exposed zippers, which I had to put in before doing the pockets, I followed the directions as written.  I made a size 14, View A (low rise, stovepipe legs).  The back pocket topstitching design came from a bunch of topstitching designs Heather sent out to newsletter subscribers.  It was really fun to pick one out.

Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Files

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Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Files

I was also inspired by my coworker Lauren to add bias trim to the hem of the my pants and a contrasting thread color on my buttonhole as well as some contrasting bartacks.  She makes cool clothes.

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

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Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

So let’s talk fabric.  I chose this great stretch denim, and I really love it.  It’s very different (in a good way) from the inexpensive denim I used for my first pair.  It has a great hand and feels substantial, yet still stretchy.  What I DIDN’T do (but should have) is wear my jeans around for a few hours after basting them.  I was impatient.  I admit it.  I basted them, wore them around for a few minutes, and called them good.  And they were.  They were just right.  So, I sewed them up, and finished them off.  I washed them to get any chalk marks off and hung them up to dry (by the way, I did wash and dry the fabric in the dryer more than once before making these).  Then, I put them on and…they seemed a little looser than I remembered…and a little longer than my other two pairs.  Hm.  In my concern about not making them too tight (you know I love some ease!), I didn’t account for differences in fabric.  This stretch denim is stretchier than my other two pairs.

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

I also asked Heather to take a look at my jeans during a lull in the jeans class (I was around to help out on day one), and she gave me a few fitting tips that she said could remove the excess fabric in the back and my need for a belt.  Her advice was both generous and helpful, and might also apply to my gray pants with the mysterious extra fabric in the back.  She is a fitting master.  It was amazing to see her help everyone.

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

So, final analysis:  I LOVE these jeans.  I think they are my coolest-looking jeans to date (the green pants are sort of in their own category, I think), and I am always mystified when people don’t stop me and tell me how awesome they are.  😉

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

That being said, I really wish the fit was as perfect as I thought it was when I basted them together and tried them on.  They are a little looser than I want them, and I definitely have to wear a belt.  BUT…this is all part of the learning curve for making pants, right?  As much as I wish I had all pants-fitting knowledge magically deposited in my brain, that is never going to happen, and I really do remember fitting things better when it is something I’ve had to learn the hard way (Darn it!  WHY is there no silver bullet/magic potion/easy answer?  Learning and skill development actually takes WORK!  Shocking!).

Ginger Jeans with Exposed Zippers

If you are thinking about making jeans, the Ginger Jeans pattern is a GREAT pattern.  It was much less scary than I thought it would be and the directions plus the sew-along are really, really helpful and well done.  Heather clearly does her research.  Go for it!

Recommendations

  • I just found out about @tinycarpenter_ on Instagram.  It’s a little Lego guy who uses big people tools for his carpentry work.  Fun!
  • I love sewing inspiration, and I find a lot of it in catalogues from companies like J.Crew and Boden.  Often when I see clothing that I really like, I can think of a pattern that matches it.  I think of this as shopping for inspiration.
  • And, um, here is a little prom dress inspiration for you (hahaha!):

Simplicity 1538 in Red and White Gingham, or… A New Shirt for Spring!

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Simplicity 1538 in Red and White Gingham, or… A New Shirt for Spring!

It can now be officially established (if it wasn’t before) that Simplicity 1538 is a Tried-N-True (TNT) pattern for me.  I think this is my fifth one (see previous versions here: wearable muslin, pink tiger quilting cotton, flannel, flannel with pearl snaps).  I love this pattern.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

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Simplicity 1538

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Simplicity 1538

Today’s iteration is made in a high-quality red and white gingham from Pintuck & Purl with quilting cotton accents (one of the Cotton & Steel Sprinkle fabrics) from the same store.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

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Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

Buttons are from Jo-ann Fabrics.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

I was inspired to add these fun blue accents after I saw a shirt by another sewing blogger (unfortunately, I can’t find my inspiration picture anywhere!).

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

I love those little details whether they are hidden and only something I know about or if they peek out and add to the look of the garment as a whole.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

This project in particular really brought home how much fun those little details can be and make me love shirt-making even more.  Shirts and jeans are great canvases for these kinds of creative touches.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

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Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

I didn’t do anything new to the pattern fitting-wise.  You may or may not remember from previous posts that this shirt is a 16 at the bust, graded out to an 18 for the waist and hips.  I also lowered the dart and did a major broad back adjustment (more about that here).  Those things are pretty standard for me when making woven tops, and it’s great to have a pattern where all that stuff is already done.  I used French seams on the arm and side seams.  I’m pretty happy about those.  They aren’t perfect, but they’re good, and they make me happy when I look at them.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

Now let’s get to the fun details I built into this shirt.  For starters, I did not try to plaid match anything.  Once a gingham is this small (1/4″ squares), I officially let myself off the hook.  I just don’t care.  What I do care about is being able to contrast the straight horizontal and vertical lines of the gingham with some diagonal bias lines.  I put the outer back yoke, the front button placket, the cuff placket, and the outer cuffs on the bias.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

I debated doing the same on the collar stand and collar, but left them on the straight of grain this time so they would contrast with the yoke.  I added blue accents to the insides of the cuffs, the inner yoke, the inner collar stand and the underside of the collar.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

It took me awhile to find a blue that I liked with this gingham, but I’m really happy with this.  The buttons were also good finds–they have a subtle design, but when I saw them against the shirt, I knew they were right.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

This is the second gingham shirt I have made (the first is here), and while I sort of thought that cotton gingham was pretty similar across the board, I should have known better.  My first gingham was a great deal at Hancock’s (RIP, Hancock’s!), but the quality isn’t great.  As soon as I made it, I was wondering how long it would hold up.  No regrets or anything, but I doubt it will last 10 years.  The feel of this is much better.  Maybe it’s just the difference between actual quality shirting fabric and run-of-the-mill gingham.  Lesson learned.  I think this red and white one will be around for a while.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

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Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

So, now it’s just a matter of celebrating spring in my preppy new shirt!  Hooray!  I love the fit.  I love the fabric.  I love the pattern.  This is a great shirt.  Bonus:  it’s one of my 2017 Make Nine projects.  One more done!

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

Recommendations

  • After the crazy outfit in this post, maybe you’d like to read about how to successfully pair prints in this excellent article by Kenneth D. King for Threads Magazine.  Thanks to this article, I now know why this combination works (well, at least why I like it).
  • Have you seen the yarn by Hedgehog Fibres?  That speckled and colorful awesomeness might just make me want to knit again.  Sewing has taken over my creative life, and I love that, but all those colors are mighty tempting…
  • I’m not a big nail polish person, but I’ve been wearing hot pink covered with a big glitter clear coat, and it has been really fun.  Both came from Claire’s.  If you are looking for fun nail polish, check them out.
  • And here’s a funny signs video to give you a few laughs. Have a great weekend!

Jutland Pants for Me!!!

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Jutland Pants for Me!!!

When I was growing up, I was a tomboy.  I’ve grown more “girlie” as I’ve gotten older, but there is still a side of me that loves the practical and strong in clothing.  I love a good dress, but I also get a lot of inspiration from workwear.  That was why, when I realized that the Thread Theory Jutland Pants that I made for my husband (here and here) fit me as well, I started planning my own pair.

Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

I’ve always loved straight- and wide-leg pants, but after several years of closer-fitting styles being the norm, it’s a big change to go back.  I wasn’t completely sure about my idea…until I borrowed one of the pairs I had made my husband so I could test out the fit.  So. Comfortable.  I was sold.

Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

The pattern and fabric for these pants came from Pintuck & Purl.

Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

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Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

The fabric is a 100% cotton grey English canvas (which I obviously should have pressed before taking these pictures–oops!).  This is the same fabric I used for my husband’s second pair of Jutlands, but in a different color.  The pants came together really quickly since this is the third time I’ve sewn them, I didn’t bother with special topstitching thread, and since I forgot to flat-fell my outseams (oops again).  I also left off the cargo pockets and knee patches, retaining only the hem reinforcements.

Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

I borrowed patch pockets from Simplicity 1020,

Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

and back pockets from the Ginger Jeans from Closet Case Patterns.  (I’m still not sure if I like that decision or not.)

Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

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Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

In fact, in a triumph that I will probably never experience again, I sewed these pants in a single day.  Yes.  One day.  I was proud of myself.

Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

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Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

These pants are rugged and neutral,  and will coordinate with a lot of other colors.  I made these with the goal or having something workwear inspired, but also of having actual work pants.  In fact, it took me so long to get pictures of these, that I had already done some outdoor work while wearing them and, much to my annoyance, stained them.  I guess they’re legit now, right?

Jutland Pants for Meee!!!

So, despite the fact that these aren’t form-fitting in any way, I LOVE them.  I love how they feel and I love that I feel tough when I wear them and don’t have to worry about a stain or two.  I kind of hope Thread Theory develops women’s versions of some of their men’s patterns.  Then I could take inspiration from the likes of Carhartt and Duluth Trading Co. and apply them to my wardrobe.  🙂

Jutland Pants for Meeee!!!

Recommendations

  • It’s almost time for Me-Made-May 2017!  Are you joining in?  If you’ve never heard of Me-Made-May, it’s a challenge to help you wear and love your handmade garments.  You set your own goal at whatever level is challenging for you.  Here’s my pledge:  ‘I, Lisa of patternandbranch.wordpress.com and @lisa.poblenz sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’17. I endeavour to wear both a top and bottom (or dress) that I have made each day for the duration of May 2017’.  I hope I can do it!  And I hope you join in, too!
  • This pink Kelly Anorak Jacket by Girl and Machine is seriously tempting me.  I keep telling myself I don’t want to get into such a big project and that I have enough jackets, but then I think of this jacket, and I start to have second thoughts…
  • I’ve been having a lot of fun looking up fashion details on Pinterest.  Searching for “pockets” or just “fashion details” has unearthed a lot of inspiration.  You can see my Fashion:  Details board here.

Grainline Lark Tee in Wool/Lycra Knit

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Grainline Lark Tee in Wool/Lycra Knit

Hey, friends!  Long time, no project!  That hasn’t been intentional.  I have a bit of a backlog to share with you, so let’s get started on this week’s project, a wool/Lycra knit Lark Tee from Grainline Studio.

Grainline Lark Tee in Wool Knit

This is my first Grainline Studio garment since the Hemlock.  I wasn’t in love with that particular pattern (or its instructions) and so I shied away from the company as a whole, but they do have a number of pretty great-looking patterns, and people seem to love them, so I decided to dip my toe in a little bit.  And to be completely honest, I wear my Hemlock all the time for pajamas.  I guess it just goes to show that first impressions aren’t everything, and it’s worth it to wear a garment for a while before deciding if you like it or not.

This project came about because I really need a good, versatile t-shirt pattern that can become a TNT (tried-n-true) pattern for me, and after searching the interwebs for one pattern with lots of options, I found that Grainline’s Lark Tee had the largest number of options to cover all your basic t-shirt needs in one pattern.  I used to say I wouldn’t sew t-shirts when I could buy them so cheaply, but I admit to getting sucked in.  A t-shirt is a great palate cleanser between more intense projects.

Grainline Lark Tee in Wool Knit

I still had a good amount of my green wool/Lycra knit fabric (used in this shirt), which seemed like a good match for the pattern.  I borrowed the pattern from a friend, so that I could see if I liked it before really committing.

Grainline Lark Tee in Wool Knit

I chose the long-sleeved scoop neck view, tracing a 12 at the bust and grading out to a 14 at the waist and hips.  In looking at the pictures, I think I could have maybe gone down a size, but I usually err on the side of more ease rather than less.  The instructions and illustrations were very clear and easy to understand, which I really liked.  Maggie at Pintuck & Purl had told me that the shirt runs long, but I decided to keep the length so I could use it for layering (for reference, I’m 5 ft. 8.5 in.).  She has a great version of this shirt on the shop’s blog.  Reading her post is part of what finally convinced me to try it.

Grainline Lark Tee in Wool Knit

My initial reaction was that the shirt was…ok.  It is definitely a straight fit and not defined at the waist.  Also, this fabric might not be the awesome match I thought it was.  I have to wear it a little bit more to see what I really think, but despite my potential fabric and sizing blunders, I’m beginning to like it.  I think it could become a wardrobe staple.  I’d like to try a short-sleeved version as well as versions in other types of fabric at some point.

Grainline Lark Tee in Wool Knit

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Grainline Lark Tee in Wool Knit

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Grainline Lark Tee in Wool Knit

***Since taking these pictures and writing my first draft of this post, I spent a day wearing this same outfit, but with the shirt tucked in and with a long cardigan over it, and I really like it.  It’s comfortable and (I think) looks good.***

I have to admit, I’m kind of excited to experiment with this pattern, and I’m glad I gave Grainline another try.  Looks like I need more knit fabric.  Darn.  😉

 

Recommendations

  • I think I mentioned last time that I’ve been listening to old episodes of the Sew Forth Now podcast, so I’m making lots of discoveries, like…THE PROJECT RUNWAY NINTENDO WII GAME!  I’m not quite sure if this is hilarious or awesome (or both), but since I don’t have a Wii, maybe one of you can try it out and let me know.  🙂
  • I recently met Jocelyn Love who is working to open “a nonprofit sewing center and reclaimed fabric store” in Gloucester, MA, AND they are having a sewing-themed sale on May 6 to raise money.  If you are local, you may want to donate and/or shop the sale.  Their Facebook page is here and even if you don’t have Facebook, you can see the details at this link.  I’m really interested to see what this nonprofit becomes.
  • Cadbury Creme Eggs.  It’s that time of year, and Cadbury Eggs are my all-time favorite Easter candy.
  • More seriously, though, to those of you who celebrate it:  Happy Easter!

 

 

Simplicity 1696…The Continuing Quest to Conquer the Fear of Sewing Pants

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Simplicity 1696…The Continuing Quest to Conquer the Fear of Sewing Pants

Today is another project from my 2017 Make Nine list–Simplicity 1696, a pair of chino-type pants.

Simplicity 1696

As I was choosing my projects for the year, I wanted to make sure I had a few pants (or trousers for my non-American friends out there) on my list because I realized that I still fear making them and therefore I avoid them.  It’s not the construction that I fear.  It’s fitting.  Here’s the problem with fitting…you might know something isn’t right, but that doesn’t mean you know the cause of the issue.  How can you fix a problem if you don’t even know what the problem is?  But when I look back at my experience making button up shirts, which I have come to love, I realize that you can’t figure out your common fitting issues if you never make the garment in the first place.

So, this year pants are on the list.

Simplicity 1696

I’ve had this particular pattern for a long time, but I’ve never made it before now.

Simplicity 1696

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Simplicity 1696

It’s one of the Amazing Fit series, so it sounded like it had a lot of extra fitting tips inside, and it definitely delivered.  Before beginning, it directs you to take certain measurements to determine which back piece you will use–slim, average, or curvy.  Once I measured myself, I chose curvy.  There are some great tips for fitting as you go as well as extra-wide seam allowances in key places.  The pattern has directions for adding faux welt pockets to the back, but after trying them out, I thought they looked fake, so I took them off again.  Otherwise, I did everything as instructed.  The only fitting I did was to take the inseams in by 1/8″.

Simplicity 1696

That being said, I think there is excess fabric in the back, and I don’t know what to do about that.  MY FITTING FEARS HAVE COME TO PASS!  AHHHH!!!!

OK, so it’s not quite as scary as I thought.  😉

You can see it better in the picture below.

Simplicity 1696

The fabric I used for these pants is a cotton/spandex sateen from Jo-Ann Fabrics.  It’s a little on the light side, although it is a bottomweight.  So, here is my question for you, readers:  do you think all the back wrinkles are due to fabric choice or something else?  The feel of these pants is perfection.  They are comfortable and not too tight.  But the look of the back leaves something to be desired.  Should I have gone with the average back?  Is it something else entirely?  The few shorts I have made before have generally needed more length in the back crotch seam rather than less, but maybe these are different?  I’m not sure.

Simplicity 1696

After trying them on, I decided not to worry too much about it.  Hopefully I’ll run across the answer at some point (maybe one of you will have it), but since these feel so comfortable, I decided not to let my fitting questions stop me from finishing the project.

Simplicity 1696

So, final analysis?  This is a great pattern, which I highly recommend.  For myself, I may not have figured the pattern out to perfection, but I now have one more pair of pants under my belt (haha), and I’m a little bit less afraid.

Recommendations

  • Anyone who has been reading the blog for awhile will know that I love fabric from Cotton + Steel (the tiger shirt I’m wearing in the photos above is made with Cotton + Steel fabric), so it was a lot of fun to hear about the inception of the design group as well as the personal story of Melody Miller, one of the founding designers.  If you want to listen, you can check out this podcast episode from Modern Sewciety and/or this one from the Crafty Planner podcast.  If you are new to podcasts, you can find out how to listen to them by scrolling to the bottom of the second link.
  • My husband and I have very different taste in books, but every once in awhile he comes across one that, while it may not be my typical genre, he is sure that I will like.  He’s a good judge of these things, so that’s what caused me to dip my toe into a little sci-fi recently with the audiobook version of Starwars:  Bloodline–New Republic…and it was so good.
  • If you are north of Boston, whether in Massachusetts, southern New Hampshire, or southern Maine and are looking for a good place to eat, I highly recommend The Farm Bar & Grille for delicious, casual food.  Good for a date, good for a family outing.  I’ve only tried the Massachusetts branch, but I’d be willing to bet the New Hampshire and Maine ones are good too.
  • I think this particular bad lip read video is appropriate since I just recommended a Star Wars book…(And if your kids are standing by while you watch it, Luke says “pitchy” at the end, not the word that rhymes with pitchy that we tell our kids not to say.  😉   )

Bathing Suit Finished!

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It happened!  I finished my bathing suit and…I think it works!

Bathing Suit Finished!

When we last met here, I had finished the bottom, but not the top.  During this week, I worked on joining up all the pieces and adding elastic to the neckhole and armholes.  That last bit wasn’t a part of the pattern, but I really like the look it provides, and I was hoping to solve a few problems with it.

Bathing Suit Finished!

There was a small part on the front neckline where I didn’t catch my outer fabric very well when I was sewing all the layers together.  There was no invisible way (that I could think of) to fix that.  Even using clear thread, it would have been visible.

I also wanted to stabilize those openings and give them more support so that they would be stronger and hopefully not gape when wet.

Finally, I was hoping the edging would magically tighten and take in the little bit of excess under the arms.  So…that didn’t happen (which I expected, but you always hope for that happy accident!), but I’m more optimistic about the other things.

When I began to apply the elastic, I realized it was a make-or-break moment.  The suit would either be much better for the addition or it would be ruined.  I bet on the side of better and went for it.

It worked!

Bathing Suit Finished!

Bathing Suit Finished!

After letting go of my perfectionism, I ended up with a swimsuit that isn’t perfect, but is actually finished and is, I think, a wearable first draft.  I’ve tested it briefly.  Now to see how it does over a whole day at the beach.

If you happen to be working on your own bathing suit and want to try applying elastic like I did, check out this tutorial on the Kadiddlehopper blog.  I used the advice here on both the stitched and turned elastic for my leg holes as well as the bound edges in the top.  I actually have this blog post printed out and saved in a binder so I don’t lose it!

As for the few other details on this suit, here they are:  I fully lined both the front and back of the top and bottom.  I also used powermesh from the Imagine Gnats shop as the lining fabric in the built-in bra of the top.  I have nothing but good to say about buying from there–super fast shipping and great service.  All my elastic was 3/8″ swimwear elastic, and I used wooly nylon thread in my bobbin, with 100% polyester Güttermann thread in the top.  I used a walking foot, plus a stretch needle and Jalie’s method (found in the pattern) of sewing a long zigzag stitch first (width: 4.5, length: 0.5) and then going back and doing a straight stitch while stretching the fabric slightly (length: 2.5) at the actual seamline.  For pattern and fabric details, see my first post on this swimsuit.  If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Bathing Suit Finished!

Bathing Suit Finished!

Thanks to everyone who encouraged me!  It means so much, and it really helped me finish well.  My neighbor’s mom, who I just love and who is an amazing seamstress herself, is now convinced that I can sew anything.  Little by little, right?

Here’s some fun for your weekend.

Recommendations:

  • I have really been loving the Instagram feed of @suzyquilts.  There is something about her bright and beautiful pictures and her patterns…and I don’t even quilt!  (Well, I do have a quilt that’s been in-progress since 2008, but I’m talking quilting as a regular practice.)  I love the stripes she uses in her Kris Kross quilt.  Tempting…  You can also find her website here.
  • If you like the crop top look, but not the idea of baring your midriff, Allie J. will show you how to “make your own (fake) crop top” in this tutorial.
  • We like thinking games in our house, and one of the games we play on the iPad is Monument Valley.  They bill it as “an illusory adventure of impossible architecture and forgiveness”.  It feels a little bit like trying to figure out an M.C. Escher visual puzzle with calming, completely non-scary background music.  Good for any age.
  • Explore.org has links to lots of wildlife cameras.  It’s pretty cool that you can see African wildlife, ospreys in Maine, or pandas in China any time you want.

Bathing Suit Progress…and a Breakthrough

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I think it’s time for a progress report.

Making bathing suits (year three)

But first, how about some mental anguish?  😉  As I was procrastinating and freaking out about this project, I had a breakthrough that now seems completely obvious (funny how that happens sometimes).

I expect to create the perfect suit.

Despite the fact that I rarely allow myself to be a perfectionist in my sewing, despite the fact that I understand that skills take time to build and ‘finished is better than perfectly unfinished’, I’m putting a perfectionist’s pressure on myself with this project.  Of course I’m procrastinating and freaking out!  That’s completely unrealistic!  I may have made suits before, but it takes time (and considerably more practice) to become skillful.

I guess it just goes to show that perfectionism can sneak up on anyone.

Once I realized this, I decided it was time to chill out.  So, I put on some surfing to distract me and psych me up to sew bathing suits and got going.  Now we can talk progress.

This is year three of attempting to create a bathing suit that I love.  The last two years have (sadly) been fails.  Year one was a pretty spectacular fail due to my not clueing in to some very awful print placement, forgetting to add in the necessary internal support, and the fact that it came out too big.  That suit just got cut up to become bottoms.

Making bathing suits (year three)

Making bathing suits (year three)

In year two I made every iteration of the Soma Swimsuit by Papercut Patterns.

Soma Swimsuit Test Suits

I wanted to practice and then hopefully create a tankini by hacking my favorite bikini view.  Unfortunately, I have no practice constructing bras, so I couldn’t create the desired support well.  I wore the tankini once, but by the end of the day, the structural elements started to come out of their places, so…no good.  I also decided I wanted bottoms that offered fuller coverage.

Soma Swimsuit Hack by Pattern and Branch

So here we are at year three.  I finally found a fabric that I completely love at the Fabric Fairy (she has a lot of excellent swimsuit prints), but I can’t find a tankini pattern that I’m really excited about.

Making bathing suits (year three)

I’m using the bottoms of the Jalie tankini (#3023), but I’m not jazzed about the top.  It’s good, but I wanted something a little different.  So my solution (which I realize may lead me to another fail) is to use lisette/Butterick 6295, a work-out top that I really like, and to add extra elastic to the neck and arms.

Making bathing suits (year three)

Here’s where I am as of Wednesday evening:

Making bathing suits (year three)

After putting so much time and energy into searching for a pattern I love, I’ve decided that this is what I really want:

I want a pattern designer to create a tankini pattern that has interesting details to set it apart from the crowd, offers full bottom coverage and the option for internal support up top (in the form of underwires).  I think you could (please!) also include a sports bra pattern as another view with the same optional underwire support and cool details.  That would make me so happy.  Jalie?  Fehr Trade?  Closet Case Files?  Someone?  Please?

Until then, I’m working away at this as well as several bathing suit experiments that will not be for me.  After this, I just want to make something easy for myself.  I want to return to my selfish, simple, sewing ways.  Well…until I find the next exciting challenge.

Recommendations:

  • I’ve mentioned how much I like the podcast Thread Cult and I’ve also mentioned the 3-D printing company Nervous System.  Guess what?  In episode #40, Christine interviews one of the founders of Nervous System about 3-D printed clothing, and it is FASCINATING.  The dress Nervous System made is a thing of beauty (and wonder!).
  • It’s been so much fun to discover new artists via Instagram.  One of my current favorites is Anisa Makhoul (@anisamakhoul on Instagram).  I love her saturated colors and cool style.
  • Watching surfing movies has helped me make it through the last few winters, but now it’s bleeding into other parts of life as well.  I’ve decided it’s my new figure skating–fun to watch when doing projects (as I mentioned above–good for when you are sewing bathing suits!).  If you want to start down the surfing rabbit hole, let me enable you.  The World Surf League app, which is free, lets you watch surfing live when events are on (or you can go to their website).  I follow them on Instagram (@wsl) so I always know when an event is happening.  My favorite is when I can watch the women surf.
  • I have to dedicate this video to my husband’s family.  I think they played this song a lot when he was growing up, but I doubt they did it like this.

The Sewcial Sew, The Refashioners 2016, and Me-Made-May 2016 (Whew!)

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Hey, friends!  It’s time to get back to some sewing!  A lot has been going on in the sewing arena over here, and I wanted to share some exciting places my blog has been popping up as well as give you a quick progress report.

In May I linked up my jeans post with Allie J.’s blog for her Sewcial Sew:  Basics challenge.

Every month she puts out a challenge, and if you sew something within the month that fits the theme, you can put a link to your blog post on the page.  At the end of the month, she posts a round-up of all the links.  It’s a great way to discover new blogs and it’s really fun to look at everyone’s projects.  As Allie says, the theme is general enough to allow a lot of latitude, but should give you some guidance if you aren’t sure what to sew next.  This was my first time joining in, and I really enjoyed it (plus, Allie said some very kind things about my jeans, so that doesn’t hurt!).  Thanks, Allie!

The June 1st blog post over at the Makery revealed the blogger line-up for this year’s Refashioners 2016 challenge…and guess who’s on the list?  Me!  I’m so honored to be included in this group.

Refashioners 2016

The Refashioners challenge is a chance to take a specific type of garment and refashion it into something entirely new.  Creating clothing in this way is really fun.  It takes a lot of thought to decide how to refashion the item(s) you are working with, but the end results of everyone’s creativity is truly fabulous.  Last year’s theme was men’s dress shirts and I made a lined jacket from four shirts for the competition.

The Refashioners Challenge 2015

(You can read about my entry here.)

This year’s theme is jeans.  You can use one pair or you can use ten!  What do you think?  Are you game?  If you want more details, either about the blogger series or the competition that follows, check out Portia’s blog.  There’s plenty of inspiration on my Denim Pinterest board if you need a little help getting started.

For extra reading on the idea of refashioning, you can also find Portia and fellow participant Marilla Walker in this Seamwork article.

Last but not least on the sewing challenge front was Me-Made-May ’16.  I made my pledge to wear at least one me-made article of clothing daily, wear two me-made clothing items in the same day at least once a week, and not to repeat items within a week.  I also decided I wasn’t going to make a big effort to take daily outfit photos this year since that was a lot of work last year.  I took some quick and easy photos here and there for Instagram, but that was it.

Me-Made-May 2016

So how did it go?  I would say it went well.  I decided pretty quickly that I was going to throw the no-repeats-within-a-week restriction out the window.  It wasn’t because I didn’t have enough clothing that I had made, but because sometimes I loved an item so much that I wanted to wear it multiple times in a week.  I was amazed at how much easier it was to do the challenge this year over last year.  A full year’s worth of sewing has really filled a lot of holes in my wardrobe and/or replaced garments that didn’t fit as well and that I didn’t love as much as those I’ve made.  It’s a great feeling to see that accumulation of skill and accomplishment.

While it may seem like I haven’t been doing much actual sewing lately, the opposite is true.  In addition to working on my Refashioners project behind the scenes, I’ve been gearing up to face down one of the (many) areas of sewing that I have yet to successfully master:  swimsuits!  I am deep in the trenches of swimsuit making.

Making bathing suits (year three)

Cut out bathing suits, jeans remnants, and mending are piled everywhere!

I had a whole long section in this post giving you an update on where I’m at with all that, but I decided to cut it and save it for another post.  This one is getting long, so let’s wrap it up with some fun recommendations instead!

Recommendations

  • If you want to try your hand at making a bathing suit, you might like to look at the many suits featured on the Curvy Sewing Collective’s Curvy Swimsuit Sewing Pattern Round-Up.  There were several pattern companies they featured that I wasn’t familiar with.
  • Are you mourning the death of David Bowie?  Do you like puppets of the Jim Henson type?  How about Jennifer Connelly?  If any (or all) of these apply to you, may I humbly recommend a blast from the past?  I put before you the movie The Labyrinth.  I didn’t listen to David Bowie’s music, but I LOVED him in The Labyrinth.  It’s still one of my favorite movies.
  • My favorite book growing up (starting sometime in elementary/middle school) was Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.  I knew I had finally found the perfect iteration of this story when I saw the edition illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg.  His illustrations capture the essence and feel of the story better than any others I’ve seen.
  • I think I need to start using this method to cook my shrimp.

Do you think it will work on chicken?