Tag Archives: spring

Fun in Green: A McCall’s 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

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Fun in Green:  A McCall’s 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

I have a fun dress to share with you today!  This dress is all about volume, which makes it a joy to wear.  Today’s pattern is McCall’s 7948, View D, a very popular style that is showing up in lots of stores and sewing patterns.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

I bought this pattern last year with the thought of making it in eyelet, just like the cover photo, but with a fun colored slip underneath.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

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Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

I made a few slips, and then finally made the dress.  This was supposed to be my Easter dress, but time got away from me, (or I just plan more sewing projects than I can actually sew), and this didn’t get started until May.  Part of what held me up was trying to decide what trim to use on the dress, but in the end (and after looking at examples online), I decided to go trim-less and just make the dress in green.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

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Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

I traced a straight size 20, and just barely eked it out with the yardage I had.  This green cotton eyelet was from last spring at Joann’s, and I got it on sale this year when it was almost gone.  I managed to find 1 2/3 yards in one store and another piece that was three inches short of two yards in a different store.  The fabric is 50/51″ wide, but 8-9″ of that is plain green cotton without the eyelet embroidery on the edges.  I had to do a bit of pattern Tetris to get it all figured out, but it worked in the end.  I had wanted to include pockets, but I realized that you would probably be able to see them through the eyelet, and I didn’t have enough fabric anyway, so I left them off.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

One really nice thing about the style of this dress is that I didn’t have to do too many adjustments–no grading between sizes, no broad back adjustment.  All I did was to add some width at the top of the sleeves and lower the front neckline by 1/2″ based on Martha’s review on the Buried Diamond blog.  I used The Perfect Fit, my favorite basic fitting book for directions for these things.  It said not to lower the neckline beyond 1/2″ in this size because it would affect other aspects of the pattern, but the one thing I would consider doing if I make this again is to see if I could lower the neckline a bit more.  It’s mostly fine when standing and walking around, but the dress does slide a bit toward the back occasionally and it can sometimes be a problem when sitting.  My husband’s idea was to weight the front hem.  What do you think?  What would you do?

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

That very minor adjustment and issue aside, I LOVE how this dress feels to wear.  It’s my ideal summer dress as far as feel–loose, flowy, breezy thanks to the eyelet, perfectly comfortable.  The slip worked out great–I didn’t even notice it, which is the goal (no one wants an uncomfortable slip).  I couldn’t see its color as much as I would have liked, but that is due to the very small holes in this eyelet.  You can see it at the points where the dress touches your body, but not much more.  Regardless, it provides the opacity I wanted when the light shines through the dress.  Now here is a weird conundrum–do you make your clothes to feel good or look “flattering” (whatever your definition of that word is)?  I don’t think this dress makes me look like any ideal vision I might have of myself, but other than that, it feels great, covers me in all the areas I want covered, and brings me joy…but I don’t think it makes me look amazing.  When you can’t always have both, which do you choose?  In general, I come down on the side of comfort and feel, but I admit that it is sometimes a mental struggle for me.  I could make uncomfortable clothes that I think look good on me, or I can make comfortable clothes that may or may not look good, but that feel good.  Comfort wins for me, but if I’m honest, I really want both in most cases.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

The other thing I changed on this dress was the facings.  I did manage to cut them out, but realized that the interfacing I was supposed to use was going to show through, and I didn’t have any fabric I could use as sew-in interfacing that was close to this color.  In the end, I decided to finish the neckline and back slit with bias tape, because I had a lot of it that was close to this color.  It took a bit of thinking, but I managed to figure out how to do the back slit, and I’m pretty happy with the result and definitely happy not to have used facings or interfacing that would show through around the neckline and back.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

I used some single fold bias to finish the hems of the sleeves and skirt and a pretty vintage button on the back of the dress.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

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Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

As far as finishing my seams, my machine did not love zigzagging on this fabric, so I sewed a straight stitch in each seam allowance and then pinked the seam allowances.  The dress is in the wash now, so we’ll see if there is much fraying or not.  Even if there is, the straight stitch in the seam allowance will stop it.  I’m not really worried.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

When gathering the skirt and arm ruffles, I used a technique I learned from Megan Nielsen, where you do a large zigzag over a piece of string in your seam allowance.  I used baker’s twine.  (You know that cute red and white twine they use to tie up boxes in bakeries?  Lots of people use it for crafts as well.)  Once you have gone all the way around, you cinch up the fabric using the string, pin it in place, pull out the string and go on with your sewing. It’s a lot faster and easier on a fabric like this with ruffles this big than it is to sew two rows of basting stitches and gather them.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

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Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

This was a fun dress to sew and not too difficult.  If you can get this pattern on sale, it’s a great deal for a pattern that is very on trend and VERY fun to wear.  I wore this on a walk in the woods with my family and while I’m sure that other people we saw thought I was crazy for wearing a dress on the trails, I felt awesome in it.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

A Little More Layering: Axis Tank in Cotton/Spandex

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A Little More Layering:  Axis Tank in Cotton/Spandex

Hi, friends!  I have one more layering post today.  I think this garment is going to come in handy this summer.

The garment I’m talking about is the Axis Tank by Sophie Hines.  This simple tank is fast to make and is interesting in that it doesn’t require any elastic–just a stretchy fabric like this cotton/spandex jersey.  My version has a center front seam because I didn’t have much of this fabric left, but this view of the pattern as drafted is actually one piece for the body and then your neck and arm edgings.  You sew a seam in the back, finish the neck and arms and all your seams, and you are done!

A Little More Layering:  Axis Tank in Cotton/Spandex

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A Little More Layering:  Axis Tank in Cotton/Spandex

I have often wished for (but never bothered to make) a short tank top that would cover my undergarment straps, but wouldn’t make me overheat by covering my midsection, and I think this will do just that.  It is described as a tank top bralette, but it’s not exactly supportive, so I think it works better as just a tank.  It is short–it hits about one inch under my bust.  I’m not the midriff-baring type, so I would wear this with another shirt over top to get that fun, layered look without the overheating.  There are, of course, other views, with a scoop neck and some cool color-blocking that I have yet to try.

A Little More Layering:  Axis Tank in Cotton/Spandex

I’m not much of a pattern hacker, but I think this little tank could have a lot of possibilities.  You could add elastic at the bottom to make a supportive-ish bralette or swimsuit top, extend the length into a full-length tank top, tankini top, or dress, or anything else you can think of.  It’s also a great way to use up scraps, and it works as a quick palette-cleanser after a more involved project.  I plan to try this out this summer and see how/if it integrates into my wardrobe.

More Details

  • Fabric:  “Starry” in the color Seashell from the Hello collection by Cotton + Steel, 95% cotton/5% spandex fabric, purchased at Pintuck & Purl
  • All sewn on a regular sewing machine–no serger required

A Little More Layering:  Axis Tank in Cotton/Spandex

  • Extra detail:  I made a cute little tag for the back out of some of the selvedge!

A Little More Layering:  Axis Tank in Cotton/Spandex

And that’s it!

Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

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Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

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

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

Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

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Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

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

Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

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Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

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

Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

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Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

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

Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

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

Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

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Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

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

Thinking About Layering with Simplicity 8545

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

Outside in April: Spring Flower Edition!

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Outside in April:  Spring Flower Edition!

It’s time for a spring flower edition of the Outside series.  My family members and I have been trying to spot as many different flowers as possible on our walks and I’ve been taking pictures of them.

Before we get started, though, I wanted to say that I have noticed a shift in my sewing and blogging since the summer.  The schedule change and vacation time this past summer changed how I was sewing from a pretty regular practice to one that now happens in small and large blocks of time.  In short, I’m not sewing quite as much, and I find that my mindset has shifted from using the blog to record my projects and add to the online sewing community with pattern reviews, etc. to making sure I have blog material.  I think that’s backwards.  The point of my blog, and the point of my blog being intentionally a hobby activity (rather than trying to monetize it) is that it is in service to my sewing and not the other way around.  So, I still plan to blog my projects, but I’ll post if I have a project done and photographed.  There may be a few missed weeks, but that will give me the flexibility to take a little longer on regular projects and sew projects I don’t bring to the blog, like undergarments.  I’m sure most people don’t notice that I always publish a post at 8:00 AM Eastern Standard Time on Fridays, so I’m writing this more for myself than anyone else.  I need to loosen up the routine I’ve created in order to give myself a little more creative freedom.  I’ve resisted doing that for fear I’ll let the blog slide, but I think it’s what is right for my sewing practice.  Anyway…now that I have that off my chest, let’s get on to some spring pictures of flowers.  We can all use a little beauty in our lives, right?

Outside in April:  Spring Flower Edition!

Looking down at these grape hyacinths from above, I noticed that their little flowers create a sort of spiral!

Outside in April:  Spring Flower Edition!

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Outside in April:  Spring Flower Edition!

I would love to see (or wear) a dress inspired by these cherry blossoms.

Outside in April:  Spring Flower Edition!

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Outside in April:  Spring Flower Edition!

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Outside in April:  Spring Flower Edition!

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Outside in April:  Spring Flower Edition!

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Outside in April:  Spring Flower Edition!

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Outside in April:  Spring Flower Edition!

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Outside in April:  Spring Flower Edition!

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Outside in April:  Spring Flower Edition!

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Outside in April:  Spring Flower Edition!

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Outside in April:  Spring Flower Edition!

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Outside in April:  Spring Flower Edition!

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Outside in April:  Spring Flower Edition!

I’m so glad it’s spring!

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Black Ponte

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Vogue 8932 Jacket in Black Ponte

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

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

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

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

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Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

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Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

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

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Black Ponte

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

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

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

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

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

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Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

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

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

Outside front (this view has exposed seams).

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

Outside back

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

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Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

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

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

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

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

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

And now I’m ready for spring sewing!

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Make a template

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

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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

Mark your pocket

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

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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

Create your welt + pocket bag piece

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

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Build the pocket

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

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

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

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Good job!  You did it!

How to Sew a Self-Welt or Stand Pocket

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

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Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

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

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

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

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

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

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

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

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

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

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

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Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

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

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

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

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Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

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

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

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

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Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

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

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

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

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

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

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

Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

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Self-Drafted Leggings, Thanks to Cal Patch

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

 

New Jeans! A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

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New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

I finally finished my jeans!!!!!! I’m so excited!

New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

Since I tend to do batches of patterns, moving them as a group through the tracing, cutting, and sewing stages, I suppose most of my projects take awhile, but once I get to the sewing part of things, I want the garment to fly off my machine.

But this one got held up.

New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

It wasn’t some dramatic life event that did it (thankfully), it was just the fact that I decided I would work out some of the fitting and design choices at the end, in the sewing phase, instead of deciding everything up front like I usually do.

Some fiddling with fitting can happen in the sewing portion of any project, but these had more the than the usual, and the longer they took, the more frustrated I became, which was increased by the fact that I wasn’t always sure which way I wanted to go.

My initial goal was to make some slightly flared jeans, similar to a pair I got from the thrift store.

To keep this post (and me) from running on forever, let’s tackle this in list form.

Patterns + How I Used Them:

New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

  •  Jutland Pants from Thread Theory, View 2
    • let out pants to full length (normally I shorten them by 1″) and added 2″ at the bottom for a deep hem
    • tapered in from hip to knee on outseam by 1/4″ on front and back
    • added 1/2″ at bottom to outseam and inseam on front and back tapering to nothing at the knee
    • gave all side seams 1″ seam allowances for fitting by adding 3/8″ to existing seam allowances
    • taped pocket facing behind front pant piece so that I could add patch pockets to front

New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

  • Simplicity 1020, View D, scrub pants
    • I used the front pockets as my front patch pockets
    • lined pockets with bits of an old sheet

New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

  • Morgan Boyfriend Jeans from Closet Case Patterns
    • used the curved waistband from this pattern instead of the straight waistband from the Jutland Pants since I needed something that would hug my back rather than gaping; the Morgan Jeans are a non-stretch denim pattern so this seemed like a good choice
    • I did not interface my waistband
  • Ginger Jeans from Closet Case Patterns
    • I used the back pockets as a starting point for my back pockets

Fitting and Style Changes

  • I let the inseams out slightly at the crotch, using a 3/8″ seam allowance and tapered back in to my 5/8″ seam allowance about 10″ down the leg; I did this because even though the pants were comfortable, there were a lot of drag lines showing that I needed more thigh room in the front and back
  • I widened the flare at the outseams just a little bit more, making my seam allowance at the bottom of the outseam 5/8″ and tapering in to a 1″ seam allowance partway up the leg
  • shaped the back pockets to be a little bit different; I had a lot of fun looking at Viapiana Custom Denim for inspiration–Ben’s jeans are works of art!

New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

  • I used a combination of the directions for the Jutland Pants and the Ginger Jeans.  This time I used the front fly directions for the Ginger Jeans.  The Jutland directions have always left me with a strange little fold of fabric at the bottom of the zipper, but using the Ginger directions eliminated that.  Yay!!!  That is something that has always bothered me, and now I know how to eliminate it.  It’s an important lesson for me–sometimes I need to try a different method on a pattern I am used to just following the directions on.

New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

Fitting Changes to Make Next Time

  • Add to the back inseam starting at the crotch and tapering down to nothing by a bit more; this will give me more thigh room in the back which is the one place where I still have a lot of drag lines
  • Do a full seat adjustment, maybe 1/2″ to 1″ to see if that will raise the top of the back of the pants a bit; I’m trying to eliminate any hint of “Plumber’s Butt” when I sit or crouch 😉
  • If making the same style, consider letting out the bottom of the inseam slightly to widen the flare; I meant to do that on this pair, but forgot and finalized the seam by finishing, trimming, and topstitching them before I remembered

New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

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New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

There were a lot of missteps along the way.  I tried to use the selvedge in decorative ways that didn’t really work out, had to change out the waistband, and almost covered my pockets in bandana fabric, but decided against it in the end.  My pants were a bit long as well, so instead of turning them up twice, they are turned up three times, which gives a nice weight, but is probably as thick as I could go without things looking strange.  I also forgot to interface the area where my jeans tack/button and buttonhole would go, so I put a little patch of iron-on mending tape on the inside before installing the jeans tack.  You can see that below.

New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

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New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

And…I may have cut through some of my buttonhole stitching.  Oops.  Time will tell if that holds up.

Resources

  • For help in figuring out how to get the leg shape I wanted, I used a tutorial called “Creating a Flare Pant Pattern”, specifically the section entitled, “Pant Flared from the Knee”.
  • Once I hit fitting problems, I consulted Pants for Any Body by Pati Palmer and Susan Pletsch (revised and expanded edition, copyright 1982).
  • It was Erica Bunker’s post on her Butterick 6691 jumpsuit where she mentioned the full seat adjustment that helped clue me in to that as a possible solution for the back of my pants being lower than I wanted.  I’ve used this adjustment in the past, but had completely forgotten about it.
  • The back pocket topstitching templates from Closet Case Patterns were also really helpful.  I almost always use these to find fun topstitching designs for my back jeans pockets.  Note that you need to sign up for their newsletter to get access to these.

New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

And of course I have to mention the amazing fabric that I used for these pants.  It was a birthday present from a friend, and is Japanese Selvedge Denim in a vintage wash/color from Fashion Fabrics Club.  (The link goes to all their Japanese Selvedge Denim since I’m not sure which is the exact one I used.  It is not an affiliate link.)  It’s a nice midweight, and I LOVE it.  Fashion Fabrics Club has a lot of selvedge denim at some pretty great prices (and it sometimes goes on sale) if you are looking for some.

The fun tag I used was a gift from a classmate of mine in a class at Pintuck & Purl a few years ago.  If you look around on the internet, you can still find these tags from various sellers.

New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

These pants feel great.  They aren’t perfect, but after all the struggle and time, they are just what I want.  I think my biggest lesson from this project is that I prefer to have my details worked out on the front end of things rather than figuring out as I go in the sewing part of the project.  I’m sure there will be projects where I’ll need to make design decisions as I go, but I think I will enjoy my projects more if I can make those choices earlier in the process.

New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

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New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

I am SO GLAD these are finished, and I can wear them.  I’m finally wrapping up my spring sewing, on the first official day of summer, no less.  Happy Summer Solstice!

New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

 

 

 

A Linen Jacket for my Friend: Simplicity 8172

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A Linen Jacket for my Friend: Simplicity 8172

It’s not too often that I sew for someone else, but today’s project is one of those rare ones.  I can probably count on one or two hands the people I’m willing to sew for, and my friend Jo-Alice definitely makes the cut.  If I listed all of her wonderful qualities, this blog post would become a book, but let’s just say that she’s one of those rare people who manages to be both very real and very loving—not an easy feat.

A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

When she mentioned that she liked some of the views of Simplicity 8172 after I made it last year, I mulled it over and then asked her if she still liked the pattern and would want me to make one for her.  She said she did still like it, and after I convinced her that I really wanted to make her something for her birthday, she agreed.  Being a maker of things herself (you can see some of her pottery and knitting here), she knows the time that goes into creative projects, and she didn’t want to pull me away from my personal to-make list, but this was a gift I was happy to spend the time on.

A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

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A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

I found some beautiful Limerick Linen by Robert Kaufman Fabrics at Pintuck & Purl as well as a floral rayon by Rifle Paper Co. for Cotton + Steel (this one I think?).  Jo-Alice chose View C, because it had some nice waist shaping, and I made a muslin out of an old sheet to check the fit.  We thought we were going to have to shorten the pattern, but the muslin showed that the length was good as drafted.

A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

It was important to think about seam finishes on this project since the pattern doesn’t always specify what you should use.  Because the linen was on the lighter side, I chose to use French seams throughout.

A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

The fabric itself is a slightly loose weave, which made it a bit shifty, but it was such a beautiful fabric, that I loved working with it regardless.  I kept my eye on things to make sure that everything stayed on-grain, and it was fine.

A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

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A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

I decided to make my bias tape from the rayon which, admittedly, I stalled on.  I really wanted to teach myself how to make continuous bias tape, but I was intimidated by learning a new process.  My co-worker, Bea, an accomplished quilter, gave me a few tips on using starch on my fabric, which was the push I needed to keep going.  She let me borrow some Linit starch, which she said to mix 1:1 with water in a spray bottle.

A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

Next she told me to spray the back of the fabric (testing in a small area first) and then press the fabric.  I didn’t use steam.  This stiffened the fabric enough to make it really easy to work with.  It was still flexible, but wasn’t overly shifty or slippery.  After that, I used the tutorial for making bias tape in Learning to Quilt:  A Beginner’s Guide by Lori Yetmar Smith.

A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

I made single fold bias tape to the size I needed using a bias tape maker (I got assorted sizes on Amazon—similar to these).  One yard of 44″ wide fabric make A LOT of bias tape.  I definitely could have used less, but you don’t know until you try.  And…it’s not like I mind having all this beautiful leftover bias tape.

A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

While my bias tape was uniform on the visible side, the edges that were folded under weren’t perfectly even.  To help myself out when applying it, I sewed a line of basting stitches 3/8″ from the edge where I was going to attach the bias tape since that was the seam allowance there.  Then I lined up the folded edge with my basting stitches so that everything would look nice and even.

A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

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A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

The one area where I wasn’t quite sure what seam finish to use was the cuffs.  I did a quick experiment with some scrap fabric just to see if all those layers would be too bulky, but with the lighter weight of the linen it seemed OK to me, so I was able to use French seams there as well.

A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

Overall, this was a very simple and pleasant project.  I was worried at the end that the fit would be different than it had been on the muslin, but Jo-Alice loved it, and it looked beautiful on her.  I like this longer view much better than the short view (View A) that I chose the first time I made this.  And, although I told her that she didn’t have to pose for blog photos, she has always been a huge supporter of my creative projects and assured me that she was more than willing.  She makes a great model.  We had lots of fun shooting these pictures even though it was gray and rainy out.

A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

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A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

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A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

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A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

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A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

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A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

 

 

The Brimfield Report: May 2019

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The Brimfield Report: May 2019

Sorry to have missed you all last week.  I like to post at 8:00AM Eastern Standard Time (US) every Friday, but Flickr, where I keep my pictures for my posts, had a few glitches last week.  It seemed better to save this post as my “outside” photography post for May instead of trying to get it out then.  That’s a definite benefit of not monetizing your blog/hobby—you get to stick to your own time schedule!  This week, we’re talking Brimfield!!!!

Have you heard about the Brimfield Antique Flea Market?  It’s the largest outdoor antiques flea market in the US, and it’s so much fun.  Whenever possible, I try to go once a year.  (You can find my past posts here:  2014, 2015, 2016, 2018.)  It’s helpful that there are three “shows” every year, stretching from a Tuesday to a Sunday in May, July, and September.  These shows turn the small town of Brimfield, MA into a very full town for each of those weeks.  The whole, big show is actually a mile-long strip of road with smaller fields stretching back on either side.

Brimfield Antique Show!

Each field has its own flavor and dealers typically set up in the same spot if they are regulars, so you can often find your favorites again and again.  Oddly enough, my friend and I noticed that a lot of the specific dealers we normally see weren’t there this time.  Was it because they came earlier in the week and didn’t stay until Saturday?  Was it some weird fluke?  Or has something at Brimfield changed this year?  Mysterious!  I plan to ask around at my local flea market to see what I can find out.  We also saw a new field or two that we didn’t fully check out.  I think one of the bigger fields may have gotten divided and perhaps another was added at the end of the row.

Brimfield Antique Show!

I keep notes from year to year in a notebook and store dealers’ business cards in a little accordion file organized by field so that I can find my favorites again the next time I come.  If there is something specific that the dealer sold that I was interested in, I’ll write that on their business card.  All the fields have unique names, like New England Motel, one of my favorites.

Brimfield Antique Show!

My other favorite field is The Meadows, but I also really like Mahogany Ridge, Quaker Acres, Brimfield Barn, Central Park, and Hertan’s.

I love a good treasure hunt, whether for information, foraged plants, or antiques, which is why Brimfield is one of my favorite events.  I like to show up around sun-up or a little after, and walk until everything closes in the late afternoon, stopping now and then for a meal or a snack.  I keep a shopping list and save my Christmas money in a “Brimfield Fund” so that I can buy fun and useful vintage items as well as gifts.

This year I probably bought less than I ever have, but I went with my Best Brimfield Buddy, and we walked all day, checking everything out.  I found gifts for my kids, some jewelry for me, and an enamel bucket to use when gardening.  My favorite things to look for are:

clothes and jewelry,

Brimfield Antique Show!

sewing (and maybe knitting) items,

Brimfield Antique Show!

gardening supplies and plants,

Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

and kitchen and decor items.

Brimfield Antique Show!

I rarely spend much, but you could furnish a pretty amazing house if you had an unlimited budget and an empty house.

I could go on, but how about some pictures instead?

Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

(I didn’t buy this antique sewing machine, but it was SO FASCINATING!  And beautiful!)

Brimfield Antique Show!

This was at Jim Nardone’s booth in Quaker Acres.  He had tools and a few sewing machines.  Sadly, he doesn’t have a website on his card, but if this is the machine you have been looking for, I do have his e-mail address.

Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

Here’s where to find those extra mannequin legs you’ve been looking for!

Brimfield Antique Show!

Maybe I should have gotten this to hold my fabric scraps…

Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

 

And here is my food recommendation for you, because if you’re walking all day, you can eat whatever you want!  Faddy’s Doughnuts!

Brimfield Antique Show!

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Brimfield Antique Show!

Behold the most amazing Boston Cream doughnut I have ever had, made fresh for me while I waited.  I had to stop and really focus on eating this so as not to wasted this amazing experience.

Brimfield Antique Show!

And that’s my May 2019 Brimfield round-up.  Have you been?  Do you have any tips or favorite fields?  Share in the comments!  Also, let me know if you have any other favorite antique shows.  If it wasn’t so far away, I would love to go to Round Top in Texas!