Looks like these outside posts are getting few and far between! Haha. Well, I’m still taking pictures, but I try to keep the blogging somewhere in between “regular schedule” and “not too strict about keeping that regular schedule”, so I guess this is how things shake out. Let’s see what I found in these months. You’ll definitely notice the shift from winter to spring!
The artwork in this museum was amazing, but I think we all really fell in love with the central courtyard.
I saw this beaver sleeping. Then, I noticed this large snake approaching. I held my breath as the snake went up to the beaver, smelled it (I think), and then kept going. Even though the snake was so close he was barely touching some of the beaver’s fur, the beaver never woke up, and the snake went on his way. Nature drama!!!! (or potential nature drama)
Time for flowering trees!
Even one of my succulents is flowering.
It just keeps getting taller. The flowers bloom for a day or so and then are done, but new ones keep coming.
One of my friends has baby goats, and she let me come over and hold them. This little guy was so snuggly. It completely made my day.
I hope you are having a good spring and that you get a chance to get out and look for the beauty that’s around you.
Hi, friends! It’s been a few weeks since I have posted because…I was getting ready for Brimfield! Long-time readers will know my love of antiques, and there’s no better outdoor antique flea market than the Brimfield Antiques Flea Market in Brimfield, MA! Brimfield happens three times a year from a Tuesday to a Sunday. There are shows (flea markets) in May, July, and September, and the May show just finished. I went on Saturday this year.
When I go to Brimfield, I go big or go home–not with what I buy, but with how I shop. I love getting there early in the morning and walking around all day looking at everything, with a few breaks for lunch and snacks. By the end of the day, I’m tired, dirty, and very, very happy. I have a hard time calling it a day and heading for home. Why go so crazy? Because it’s fun! It’s fun to completely geek out about something you like!
Along those lines, I spent the two weeks leading up to Brimfield, as many sewists will understand, sewing myself a new outfit. That was a tight timeline for me, but I did it! I’ll share more about that in another post, once I get some pictures. For now, how about some pictures of Brimfield? We can pretend you’re going along with me. 🙂
This mile-long strip of road has fields full of antique dealers on each side. I like to park in the middle and then start at one end and work my way down.
This year I went by myself. Sometimes when I am by myself, I try to get through everything quickly so I can see it all. At other times I go more slowly and really look at everything and talk to the dealers. You learn so much from the dealers–it’s a real history lesson on everyday items. This year I took the slower option. I didn’t get to every field, but I had a great time looking and talking to people.
My starting point. This field has a fun vintage clothing tent. I don’t usually buy anything, but I like to look. Check it out…
So much sewing inspiration!
After checking out a little of the Mahogany Ridge Field, it was time for one of my newer traditions–a Faddy’s doughnut! A friend tipped me off to this stand, and she was not kidding–these doughnuts are amazing. I love the Boston Creams.
Sadly, I never made it back to try their ice cream later in the day. Maybe another time…
And on to other field! I went over to J & J, a field that is only open for a few days, to say thanks to a dealer who sold me some beautiful embroidery scissors for a great price last year. They were a gift for a family member, and were very well received.
I could tell I wasn’t moving too fast, so I decided to focus on a few of my other favorite fields: New England Motel, Midway, and Central Park, not to mention stopping back at Quaker Acres to shop and drop things off at the car.
Let’s go shopping!
Oh, it was so fun to look at everything!
So, what did I actually buy? Surprisingly little, and nearly all sewing-related. 🙂
I got a few gifts for my family, and also found something for a friend. I had a few things I was looking for at the request of family members as well, but I didn’t find them. I do like having a specific things to look for, though, so the hunt was fun.
The weather was absolutely perfect, and I had a great time. I hope you can make it to Brimfield someday or an antiques flea market near you!
I’m back with two fun shirts–identical, but in different colors–the fraternal twins of the shirt world?
I love a good animal print–not the type of print that looks like animal skin, but a print with pictures of animals, and some of my favorites are tigers and leopards. I have no idea why. There just seems to be a number of cute fabrics out there featuring tigers and leopards.
I’m not sure where I first noticed the fabrics I used for my shirts, but my husband got them for me in my two favorite colorways for Christmas and my birthday in 2020. Not only do I have these prints in lawn, last summer I found the same print in a knit jersey. I’m so excited! Its final destiny is yet to be determined.
But back to the fabric at hand! It was designed by Hello! Lucky as part of a collection called Wild and Free for Robert Kaufman, and it’s 100% cotton lawn, 44″ wide, and came from Fabric.com before it shut down (RIP Fabric.com). The pink is “Tigers Orange” and the blue is “Tigers Sunshine”.
Before beginning this project, I had many ideas floating around in my head. I knew I wanted to make the Closet Core Kalle shirt, but should I made two different versions or versions that were the same, but with contrasting plackets, collars, and cuffs, etc., etc.? In the end, I decided to batch sew two of the same version, each in its own color. I have made the cropped Kalle shirt once before in a speckled/splatter paint print lawn and absolutely love it. I wear it a lot and it has served me well, even as I have changed sizes over the years.
For my tiger shirts, I chose to make View A, lengthened by three inches. I made a size 18. Originally I was going to make the band collar pictured in View A, but part way through the process, I decided to switch to the standard collar so that you could see a bit of the fun fabric even if I wore these shirts under sweaters.
I gave some thought to pattern matching, but didn’t let myself get too wrapped up in it. That hidden placket, with its accordion folds, would have been a bit of a mind bender.
I also forgot to cut out my inner lining for my yokes, but this was fortuitous. If I had cut it out of my tiger fabric, you would have seen some bits of the pattern on the outside. Instead, I cut them out of some scraps of solid pink Cotton + Steel lawn that I had in my stash, which sets off the pattern nicely on the outside.
I found just the right buttons at Joann’s in matching colors in their Slimline collection–great basics that cost about a dollar a card. It was tempting to find something really crazy, but with the hidden placket, you’d never see them, and these buttons really were perfect.
In order to batch sew my shirts, I set up both of my machines with different thread colors. Normally I would always sew my buttonholes on my Elna 3005, which is my newer machine. However, I do actually have a buttonhole attachment for my Singer Featherweight. I told myself that now was the time to learn to use it. As with the Featherweight’s instructions, the instruction booklet for the Buttonholer is excellent.
It recommended making a little sample of all the different dies and stitch widths and, uncharacteristically, I actually did it! I knew I would never remember what I had done or might want to do in the future otherwise. On my blue shirt, I used the 5/8″ die at a stitch width of four (I think) and went around each buttonhole twice. It worked out really well, and forced me to learn to use my machine more extensively.
I didn’t have too much trouble with the sewing, except for getting the interfaced collar stand of the two-piece/standard collar to fit. In the end, I measured down and in by 5/8″ to find out where the ends of the collar stand should touch the edges of the button plackets. Then, I stretched the shirt to fit the collar stand. I had repinned so many times! I finally decided I would rather just stretch to fit and clip the neck edge after sewing.
A few other notes I made for myself that may be helpful to you if you are sewing this: at the point that you are sewing your buttonholes on the hidden placket, you should be sewing through two layers of fabric. It’s also a good idea to place your buttonholes slightly to the outside of center since the inner fold is partly taken up when you sew the placket down. And if you are confused on the cuffs, note that the angled part of the cuff should be on the top of the sleeve.
Also, you could check out the sewalong on the Closet Core website. It’s a little bit different than the directions at certain points, so if one doesn’t seem clear to you, the other might. I usually find Closet Core instructions really clear and thorough, but anyone can get confused when you are deep in a project or if the instructions don’t explain things in a way that makes sense to you.
I cut these shirts out in September of 2022, and sewed them up in October, finishing just as it started to cool off here for fall. I didn’t wear them much, so I put them away for my future self, and was so happy to take them out once spring hit.
It’s still pretty cool here, but I have managed to wear each one at least once, and I look forward to wearing them a lot more as the weather gets warmer. Both colors work great with my existing pants and shorts. I’m not a huge pattern repeater, but I’m really glad I came back and made this pattern again. I started with three yards of each fabric, and I have just about half a yard left of each, so while I often struggle to use my off-cuts, I’m pretty happy to have some little scraps of these fabrics left. I love them so much. And I am so very happy with my lovely new tiger shirts.
Hi, everyone. After a little break, I’m back with what sounds like a recently completed project, but is actually from a year ago! I’m working through the backlog! 🙂
As you may know, I don’t do last minute sewing if I can ever avoid it, but this project was an exception. It also wasn’t for me!
Last year one of my daughters was at Joann’s with me before Easter and picked out New Look 6618, a knit dress pattern. It’s listed as easy and it is–it’s an A-line knit dress that is held in by a belt, which makes for easy sewing and fitting!
My daughter decided on View A, the short-sleeved long dress with a separate belt. We found fabric online at Fashion Fabrics Club. It’s a techno crepe knit in the color “Mauve Mist”, and is 95% polyester and 5% Lycra. It was nice and wide at 56″, a medium weight, and had 25%-50% stretch along the selvedge, and the same crosswise. The price was fantastic. I tend to go for natural fibers in most cases, but this fabric has turned out to be perfect for this dress. It doesn’t wrinkle, has a nice drape, and was easy to sew.
By the time we bought this pattern, more or less on a whim, and then actually found fabric my daughter liked and ordered it, it was getting a little close to Easter, which made me doubt that this was going to get done. I promised to try, but I didn’t promise I would make it in time! Ack!
In order to move things along, my daughter traced the pattern and cut out the paper pieces. I cut out the fabric and she helped me mark and pin things. In order to speed up the sewing, we omitted the back seam and button and cut the back on the fold.
And then, the day before Easter, I got down to serging and sewing…
And I completely surprised myself by making the dress in 2.25 hours! I’m sure there are many sewers out there who could have done it faster, but that is super speedy for me. Also, very focused–I don’t tend to have big chunks of time to sew these days.
To do all this sewing, I used a 90/14 stretch needle in my sewing machine, with my walking foot and a medium presser foot pressure (2 on my machine). I used a zigzag stitch (around 4.5-5 in height and 0.5 in width) for my hems and the neckline, and I serged all the seams, whenever possible.
I also used some clear elastic in the shoulder seams to stabilize them.
The only part I wasn’t really happy with was the neckline. I serged it first and then folded the raw edge under and zigzagged, but it came out a bit wavy.
Luckily, my daughter didn’t care. She absolutely loved the dress and still wears it regularly. Because of the long length, stretchy nature of the fabric, and since we really only had to fit it to her bust measurement, it has also been a good dress for a growing girl–as long as it fits her shoulders, she can continue to wear it. A year later, it’s still going strong.
Hello, everyone! I hope you had a nice time over the holidays. I took a break from my day-to-day activities as much as possible, hung out with my family, ate lots of good food, and got in some nice walks, ice skating, and puzzle time! Now it’s back to it! I managed to get lots of good (and sorely needed) blog pictures with the help of my husband, so I can share some projects with you. And what better to share now that it’s fully winter than some knitting–and a sweater, no less?
Needles: metal circular needles in sizes US 0, 1, 2, 3
Timeframe: April 14, 2022 (swatching!) to November 11, 2022
With my penchant for bright colorwork, this sweater pattern was a surprising choice for me…but it was directly influenced by the Wool & Honey sweater I made. That sweater, also a Drea Renee Knits (DRK) pattern, also knit in Jamieson & Smith 2-ply jumper weight, has to be my most worn sweater to date. There is something magical in that weird, boxy shape and slim sleeves with the cool texture on the yoke, knit up in this beautiful woolen-spun yarn. It’s lightweight and the perfect year-round sweater. In fact, I love it so much, I got nervous I was going to wear it out. I didn’t want to knit it again–it took me a long time and I wanted to make something a little bit different.
Enter, The Weekender Light sweater. In knitting it, I could use more of the Jamieson & Smith 2-Ply yarn, which I had fallen in love with. And this time I would try out one of their yarn cones rather than ordering balls of yarn, for added savings. I trusted in my desire for another sweater I could wear constantly to carry me through all the miles of stockinette stitch in fingering weight yarn that this pattern required.
Now that I knew I loved this yarn, I got smart and ordered a shade card (yarn color sample card) along with my cone of yarn. That way I could see the different colors in person and wouldn’t have to guess on future projects since it’s pretty likely I will order from J & S again. And then I threw a few balls of shade FC22, Bright Pink Mix, into my cart, in the hopes that it would coordinate with the cone of yarn I had ordered, since originally, I had planned to make all my ribbing a darker pink, (see this tutorial for how to do that at the neckline). Unfortunately, I didn’t love them together when they came, so I saved the Bright Pink Mix yarn for another project and decided to dive into a single-color knit.
I tend to knit much more loosely than Andrea Mowry, so I ended up getting gauge on US 1 needles, rather than the suggested US 4’s. I knit a lot of DRK patterns, and this is typical for me. Actually, it’s not just DRK patterns. I usually have to size down with my needles to get gauge. I was between sizes, and since I know my tendency to knit loosely, I chose the smaller of the two, a size 4. I started out using a US 0 on the ribbing and a US 1 for the body. I didn’t enjoy the cast on, but it definitely looks nice. I also knit the ribbing pretty tightly, so that wasn’t the most fun, either, but that was all on me. After that, everything was going well!
Then things took a little turn when we went on a road trip last summer.
I was a little way into knitting the body of the sweater when we started driving. Now, I love a good road trip…once we’re on the trip. Leading up to it, I always stress. Did I remember everything? Clothes? Food? Medicine? What if we get in an accident? What if one of us gets tired? And on and on. I’m actually better than I used to be, but regardless, I always get a bit spun up about things before we go. Well, it seems that I took that nervous energy with me on the trip, even though I felt fine once we were on the road, and suddenly, I was knitting too tightly. I had managed to get in a few inches as we drove (which took awhile). All I had to do was look at it to realize that my knitting had tightened up.
I put the sweater in time out.
Then I went to the yarn store with my Mom, got yarn for two new projects, ordered some needles and stitch markers, and started on something totally different. That sweater stayed in time out until we got home.
Once home, I could finally face up to the fact that I had to rip out my knitting and go up a needle size.
I ripped my last few inches out, put in a lifeline just in case I reverted back to my original tension, and went on with the body, using US 2’s. On I went, seemingly forever. To be fair, I don’t knit a lot in a day. I sometimes put in a little time at night in front of the TV, but often that’s it. I also usually pair a longer or more complicated project like a sweater, with a faster or easier project like a hat or cowl. So, little by little this grew until I got to the sleeves. I went up a needle size to a US 3 for those. On Andrea’s recommendation, I usually go up a needle size for sleeves to keep my gauge consistent.
At the end of October, I got a fairly mild case of COVID. After sleeping for a few days, I started to feel better, but was still confined to my room, so as not to get my family members sick. At that point, something lit a fire under me, and I decided to knit as much as I could and finish this thing! I watched a lot of TV on my laptop, and knit sitting down, standing up, in between organizing my sewing patterns, after stretching out my arms, etc., etc. Shortly after leaving quarantine, I finished my second sleeve! Yes! Yes! Yes!
Then it was on to blocking. This yarn really transforms with blocking. And I especially noticed that with the yarn on the cone. The cone yarn from J & S was “in oil” meaning it has some spinning oil on it. I never felt, noticed, or smelled any real difference from knitting with the balls, except that maybe the yarn looked less fluffy. During blocking the water was a little cloudy, so I rinsed a few times until it was clear, but other than that, it was the same as blocking yarn from the balls. The yarn on the sweater went from looking like it was knit from a rough string (it didn’t feel rough, just looked a bit rustic, I guess), to fluffing out and looking soft and beautiful. I use store brand CVS baby shampoo as my “wool wash” so it came out smelling of wool and baby shampoo, a lovely combination.
So how does wearing this compare to the Wool & Honey? I don’t think it’s equivalent, to be honest. I like this sweater, and I have gotten a lot of compliments on it, but I don’t love it as much. It has the same kind of boxy fit, although I think mine is slightly smaller at the bottom, probably due to my early gauge issues and knitting the ribbing fairly tightly. I like the round neck of the Wool & Honey better as well as the yoke construction. This sweater has the same nice light weight, and I like it with close-fitting pants. It’s also a color I wear a lot, so I’m really glad I made it, but I need to wear it more to see if it will become the staple that my Wool & Honey has.
I also own the original Weekender pattern, which is knit in a worsted weight, but I need to wear this one more to see if I would make that version or not. Now that I can compare aspects of both the Weekender Light and the Wool & Honey in the same yarn, I wonder if I would be happier with something like the DRK Everyday Sweater which has a construction more like the Wool & Honey. Who knows?
The great thing is that I am starting to get a bit of a hand knit sweater wardrobe, which I love. I remember when that happened with my sewing, and how great it was. I love wearing something I have made nearly every day.
Even though every single sweater feels like it takes forever, I like knitting them alongside the hats and cowls, which are my other favorite things to knit. I just need to stretch and strengthen my arms a bit so that I can knit more and longer without injuring myself. The pitfalls of crafting are real, people…but so are the rewards!
American western wear is such an interesting subset of fashion. It can cover everything from the toughest everyday workwear right through to a costume worn in concert by a famous musician, with plenty of range in between. I think that’s what makes it so intriguing to me. I love the practical value of workwear, and western wear, in many cases, takes workwear and makes it beautiful in a way that even those beyond its natural boundaries can appreciate. Although I’ve never lived in the western United States, I’ve always been interested in this type of clothing, particularly western-style shirts. That one garment seems to have so much possibility. Take your basic button-up and add some shaped yokes and maybe shaped cuffs and you’ve got a blank canvas for as much or as little decoration as you like. You might choose to keep it simple or maybe you add piping, fringe, shaped pockets, and/or embroidery. I love seeing the different directions people have taken this in. And that’s why I wanted to try it for myself…well, that and the fact that growing up, I kind of wished I could be a cowgirl. I guess that never died. 😉
I’ve been turning this over in my head for a few years, and collecting ideas on my “Sewing Inspiration: Western Shirt” Pinterest board. To be fair, in the past I did make Simplicity 1538, view A twice (first attempt, second attempt), which has a bit of a western style to it, but I wanted to try piping this time. Despite the fact that I wanted to go all out and fill up a shirt with embroidery, contrasting fabric, or other cool details, I decided to start simple with a shirt that had a shaped yoke and, hopefully, cool shaped cuffs. I settled on McCall’s 6262 a unisex Palmer/Pletsch pattern from 1992. This was advertised at “The Easy Western Shirt” with plenty of options, so it seemed like a good place to start. Looking at the finished measurements on the envelope, I decided on a size large, even though my actual measurements put me at an XL bust and XL/XXL hip. I found a used copy of the pattern on eBay in September 2020.
The ’90’s and its love of positive ease in clothing meant I didn’t have to do a broad back adjustment, but I did grade out a bit at the hip to the equivalent of an extra large.
Despite the millions of ideas I was interested in, I decided to keep it simple for this pattern and just add some piping and pearl snaps, and make the shirt in a single color of fabric. I think this was a good choice, because by the time I finally got around to starting this project in January 2022, I had really psyched myself out about the piping. Yeah, I really overthought it.
I chose to use a “flannel solid” in lilac from Robert Kaufman that I got for Christmas, and I paired it with spring green piping and white pearl snaps. View C was my choice, but I opted to skip the darts.
I really wanted to try out that piping, even if I was worried it wouldn’t turn out right. The instructions were very good, with lots of tips for a quality finish as well as information on how to get the details you wanted.
Despite my desire for “cowboy” cuffs (cool, shaped cuffs), I decided to let that go this time since it wasn’t included in the pattern. I’ll show you what I originally had in mind, though. Check out view A in this picture of vintage McCall’s 2118:
I had bought an issue of Threads Magazine* that explained how to add those cuffs to a shirt, but I knew that every deviation from the pattern would add to the time it would take for me to finish. Some people love hacking patterns, but I love following the directions (mostly) and finishing my garment. I buy patterns because it means someone has done all the problem-solving for me, and I can just follow along and make something cool. That can change based on the project, but for the most part, that’s how I love to sew. Every time I add a deviation from the pattern or something I feel nervous about making, it really slows my process down, and that bugs me, since I don’t sew especially quickly to begin with. Slow sewing can be fun, but usually I want that garment finished and on my body now!
By the time I actually finished this in March or April of 2022, I knew its time for that season was limited since spring and warmer days were around the corner. And then it sat while it waited to appear on the blog, so it hasn’t gotten worn much! Now that it’s cold again, I really want to wear it!
–This definitely has that ’90’s oversized look to it, but that makes it really comfortable. I like it better tucked in than out, but will wear it both ways.
–This flannel is nice and beefy, as usual for Robert Kaufman flannels, which are some of my all-time favorites, but it is pilling a bit after only a few washes. I guess that’s just par for the course with cotton flannel.
–I’m getting better at putting pearl snaps in, although I did crack one of them. Luckily, you can’t feel it, and it won’t fall out–it just looks cracked.
–My piping, while not perfect, worked out pretty well for someone with very limited piping experience! I’m happy with it.
My interior finishing on the yokes just involved pinking the seam allowances.
It’s not my favorite finish since it will (and did) fray, but I knew it wouldn’t be able to fray beyond the stitching line, so it was fine. I also added piping at the cuffs.
As I said, I’ve been contemplating this shirt style for a long time. If you are also interested in this style, here are just a few of the resources and inspirational places I looked to get ideas as to the range of western wear. Hopefully there will be more of this awesome style in my sewing future.
So…I may have made this t-shirt last spring, and am just now blogging it.
And maybe it’s been hanging up on a hanger near my sewing machine waiting patiently to be blogged after only having been worn a handful of times. Yikes.
Now that it’s getting cooler again, I want to wear this shirt! I love those leopards! Not leopard print, but actual leopards, which I like much better.
This is the Thread Theory Woodley Tee in the women’s sizing, sewn up in 100% cotton jersey from Joann’s POP kids fabric line plus some ribbing, which I think is 100% cotton, although it may contain some spandex. I really like this new line, and find a lot of fabrics and prints I like for me, as well as prints I would use if I were making clothes for kids. Unfortunately, I don’t see these two fabrics on their site, so they may be sold out. In the past, I have felt pretty unimpressed with the fabric selection at Joann’s, but in recent years, they have started to sell more options that I really like.
The Woodley Tee is a relaxed-fit t-shirt that’s meant to be a great basic.
I was really excited to try this since my preferred t-shirt fit of late is more relaxed. I also like that you can use low-stretch knit fabric with this pattern. I made version 1, the solid color/long sleeve option.
When I looked at the finished measurements, I decided to size up one size. After sewing the shirt, I think I would always do that on the arms, as I wouldn’t want them to fit any closer. They’re just right one size up. I could go either way on the body. Probably I would size up one again, as I did here, but if I didn’t, I think it would also be fine.
As for construction, it was pretty straightforward with one addition you don’t always see in t-shirt patterns. This pattern has a shoulder binding on the inside that works to stabilize the shoulders (so you don’t have to sew in elastic or twill tape) and gives a really professional finish.
I won’t say I managed to sew it in perfectly. I found it a little tricky, but I got it well enough in the end. To be fair, I doubted the instructions since they didn’t tell you to stabilize the shoulders at the beginning, so I went ahead and did it myself with twill tape. Then I got down to the shoulder binding and realized I should have just trusted the pattern (or read all the way through before starting). Since the shoulders were already stabilized, I didn’t bother to cut my fabric on grain. I just cut it on the cross grain to save fabric and since my fabric was directional. Next time, hopefully, I’ll just do what the pattern says.
Other than that little hiccup, everything went great! I skipped the pocket, used the serger on the main seams, and zigzagged the hem. Initially I wasn’t sure how I liked the shirt, but now I’m into it.
I like the fit and the fun design on the fabric. I think I would make this again. The color blocked option is one that would be fun to try, too. It’s a great way to use up some scraps. So, if you’re looking for a relaxed-fit tee, I can highly recommend this pattern which comes, not only in women’s sizing, but also in men’s. Thread Theory always has excellent, high-quality patterns, and this one is no exception.
Hello, friends! And welcome back to the blog. After taking the summer off, I’m ready to get back to writing about sewing, knitting, photography, and other fun creative endeavors. I hope you had a good last few months as well.
My “To Blog” list is pretty long, but I’m actually going to start with a more recent project. I was a tester for Megan Nielsen’s latest pattern, the Protea Capsule Wardrobe. I went through two rounds of testing as the pattern grew from a few views to the many views you see now. In order to be a tester, I signed up to her list and sent in my measurements. They cycle through their list and contact people with a good range of measurements, and then e-mail you when they have a pattern for testing to see if you are interested. You get to see the line drawings and description of the pattern as well as the deadline and what they need from you, and then you can say yes or no. This is a volunteer position, so it’s your responsibility to get your materials together for the project. You don’t have to blog the results or put it out on social media, but since I will really and truly forget the details of my projects if I don’t blog them, I wanted to share my tester versions, and hopefully give you a look at the pattern in its developmental stages.
As the pattern was released, the company offered testers the option of a free Protea Capsule Wardrobe pattern in print or PDF. I chose print, but still had to pay shipping, and I’m currently waiting for it to arrive. I don’t often test patterns since I have so many of my own projects that I want to make, and Megan Nielsen is the only company I have tested for (unless I’m forgetting…but I think that’s right). The process was a little different years ago, but I have always been impressed with the freedom and flexibility this company gives you in testing. So! Let’s get to the actual garments. Just remember…these are versions that came out before the new and shiny final pattern, so some things have changed a bit.
Test #1: Protea Blouse
Here is the first line drawing we were sent back in January. I chose to make the square-neck blouse out of a striped cotton seersucker I bought at Field’s Fabrics in Holland, MI in summer 2021.
I love the general style of this blouse and have worn it all summer long. I love that it is loose and boxy and I didn’t have to make a broad back adjustment.
When the option to test the next version of the pattern came along in May, I wasn’t quite sure that I would have the time, but I really liked the look of the tiered dress with a square neck and flutter sleeves. I found some fabric in my stash and decided that I could make it if I applied myself!
I chose to make this dress in a cotton double gauze from Joann, also from the summer of 2021. I didn’t have quite enough fabric. What I did have was a little narrower than the recommended 60″ and I only had four yards instead of the 4 3/8 I should have had, but I decided to do my best to make it work. In the end, I mostly made it. I went back and bought a few fat quarters of quilting cotton in the same pastel purple to cut my pockets out of. That fabric requirement was pretty much spot on.
I made the dress with a size 18 bust and 20 waist and hip without the drawstring. I didn’t veer too far from the directions except that I hemmed my sleeves with bias tape instead of turning the hem in twice, and gathered my skirt tiers using a zigzag over a string instead of sewing two parallel lines of stitching (a technique I picked up from another Megan Nielsen pattern). I haven’t seen the final version yet to know what choices they made for those parts of the pattern instructions.
I felt a little bit different about this dress when I finished it than I did the top. I love positive ease, and this dress has LOTS of it. It was a bit much even for me.
Unless you are looking for a completely unrestrictive dress, I like it a lot better with something pulling the waist in just a little. I tried pinning the drawstring casing on, but I wasn’t a fan.
The drawstring casing for the dress in this version of the pattern used the same pattern piece as the waistband for the skirt. It’s a clever idea that reduces the number of pattern pieces, but I don’t actually like it on the dress. It’s really wide and I didn’t like how it looked. I also didn’t like the dress without something to pull in the waist a little, so I put the finished dress to the side for a bit to think it over. In the end, what I did was to make two ties out of some single fold bias tape I had that matched my fabric.
I sewed them on to the outside, but if I were planning on adding ties from the start, I would have sewn them into the side seams at the waist.
This allows you to gather the waist in as much or as little as you like. There is a bit of fabric that gathers under the ties, but it really isn’t bulky. I tie mine just tight enough to get a little waist definition, but still loose enough not to feel restricted.
For me this takes the dress from something I didn’t like at all to something I love. It’s amazing what a little tweak can do.
Seeing the final pattern, I like it a lot. You don’t often see an indie brand bring out a capsule wardrobe-type pattern. The Big 4 do it (I’ve seen a lot from Butterick), but not always indie brands. Since indie patterns can be so expensive, this is a good value for your money, and it’s simple enough to sew and has such clear instructions that even a beginner could tackle it. You get some good mix and match options with the sleeves and necklines so that you could easily sew a lot of different-looking garments from this one pattern. I like it stylistically, as well, except for the dress drawstring. Personally, I’m really into the square neck, flutter sleeves, and tiered skirts. I don’t often return to patterns I have already made since I love trying new ones, but before summer started to wane, I was contemplating more of the square-necked tops, so I could see revisiting this one and trying out any of the views. I like them all.
Since I finished pattern testing, I have made a few other garments, and I entered both a sewing and a knitting project in the Topsfield Fair in Topsfield, MA for the first time ever, so we’ll see how that goes! I submitted my Patagonia inspired vest and my Arrowhead Cardigan which were both a lot of work and took a lot of brainpower!
Also…I found some sandals with wooden bases at the thrift store that I have started stripping down to try making into sandals I like, but it’s slow going with the other projects, and…you know…actually taking care of my family, ha ha.
I’m pretty inspired and excited about making all the things at the moment. I didn’t sew a ton over the summer, so it feels good to get back to it. And I have a million projects to bring to the blog (some from last winter/spring–yikes!), so I look forward to meeting you back here soon. Happy weekend!
Despite a hefty backlog of projects awaiting their time to shine on the blog, I think we should pause and look at some pretty pictures of flowers. How can we say good-bye to spring without doing that? Here are some photos of the outside in May and June.
Looking at these from the end of June makes me realize how much changes from the beginning of May until now. May is a flower explosion around here, which is very welcome after the long, grey winter.
June had some surprises in store. Look what I found in our fenced-in garden.
Oh, boy, do I have a backlog of projects to blog! I need to take about a million pictures, so I’m starting with a few of the projects that I don’t have to model. Then when I can rope a family member into taking pictures for me, I’ll try to catch up on the rest.
This particular project is one of the simpler ones I have made, but actually took me forever to finish! Sometime between 2020 and 2021, I cut three camisoles out of some of my larger scraps. I used Simplicity 8545, View B.
I used View A previously to make some brightly colored slips in cotton lawn (you can see them here). I thought a few camisoles to go under transparent or low-cut tops would be a good idea and a useful way to use up some of my offcuts, so a year or two ago (I think) I made a cream colored camisole from a silk lining fabric that a friend had given me.
Around that time (maybe?), I also cut out two more camisoles from some old Cotton + Steel cotton lawn, so I could have some colorful options. Those two lawn camisoles sat on my “to sew” rack for…a year? Two years?
They became my only UFO’s (unfinished objects). I don’t like UFO’s in sewing, but I didn’t want these badly enough to carry me through to finishing them, so they just sat there. This year I decided enough was enough and tacked them on to one of my big sewing batches. I wasn’t even sure if they would fit when they were finished, but I figured if they didn’t fit me, they would fit someone else. If I never made them, though, the fabric probably wouldn’t get used at all.
For these, I changed the pattern up a little to make them easier to make and nicer to wear. I found with the slips that I really didn’t need the zipper to get them on and off, so I eliminated that and just sewed the back up. I also eliminated the facings, which constantly flip out on my slips and drive me nuts. Eventually I hope to sew them down, but I really hate going back into old projects, so I haven’t gotten to that yet.
Once I finally decided to sew up the lawn camisoles, the goal was to get them done as quickly as possible, while still sewing quality(ish) garments. I picked one thread color for both (pink), serged my seam allowances, and used whatever bias binding I had on hand to save time and use up materials. (You have no idea how much random bias binding I have!) I had made bias binding for the silk camisole and used beautiful French seams and a tiny rolled hem on that one, but these two just needed to get DONE! For a little extra insurance, I also sewed a 3/8″ seam in the back and on the sides instead of the 5/8″ seam allowance the pattern called for.
I’ll spare you the details of exactly how I sewed the bias on, but my goal was to sew it so that I could try the camisoles on before finalizing the length of the shoulder straps. That meant making the final attachments in the front. Those joins got a little ugly, but it didn’t matter–these are meant to go under other clothes and I wanted them done.
Happily, they do fit ok, and I love how bright and fun the two lawn ones are and how practical the cream one is. Have I worn them? Maybe the cream one a few times, but not the lawn ones yet. I hope I end up wearing them, but even if I don’t, someone else could. I’m definitely happy with the modifications I made. And I’m happy that I didn’t give up on these and throw them in the scrap bin. This is a good, basic yet versatile pattern with some fun options, and even though I haven’t made the dresses or shirts, I’m glad I tried the slip and camisole views.