Hi, friends. It’s summer! Hooray! Here are some pictures I took in June. I hope you enjoy them.
I’m taking July off from blogging, so I’ll see you in August. Have a great month!
I love black and white stripes for graphic impact. It was something I never thought about until a few years ago when I bought a black and white striped shirt. It went with so many things and brought something really cool to every outfit I paired it with.
About a year ago, I would have said that it was crazy to spend time sewing t-shirts when they can be bought so cheaply, but I think differently now. T-shirts are quick, satisfying, and really fun. They are the perfect project in between more difficult projects because, not only are they fun and easy, they build your wardrobe. For all these reasons, I decided to make a black and white striped Lark Tee (pattern by Grainline Studio).
This is now my second Lark Tee (my first, a long-sleeved, scoop-neck version can be found here). This time I went for short sleeves and a crew neck. Here are my notes:
Because I planned to wear this shirt untucked, I cut off about 4″ using a stripe as my cutting guide, which was just right. (For reference, I’m 5 feet, 8 1/2 inches tall.) I tried to cut the neckband with one stripe going around the neck, but it didn’t work out well, so I switched to the neckband you see in the pictures, which I really like.
The fabric is a really nice rayon/Lycra from Pintuck & Purl. I would say it’s somewhere in the light- to mid-weight zone, but is still fairly opaque. It was great to work with.
Overall, I like this pattern. Sometimes I wish there was a little more shaping on the sides, but I can always add that later. I would really like to try a v-neck version at some point, maybe with this fabric, but we’ll see.
Do you have any favorite t-shirt patterns you want to share? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.
Today’s project is one I really wanted to squeak in on the blog before fall is officially over. I made this Esme top from Lotta Jansdotter’s Everyday Style in a fabric that was new to me: double gauze.
I made it for the Pattern Review meet-up at Pintuck & Purl back in September. One of the challenges for that meeting was to make something that was new to you, whether in a new fabric, with a new pattern or tool, or using a new technique.
I’ve made this top before (first iteration here), but one of the advantages of working part-time at Pintuck & Purl has been the opportunity to work with fabrics I’ve never tried before, and double gauze was on my list. I chose the Friskers Teal by Sarah Watts for Cotton & Steel.
I’d heard both good and bad things about this substrate. On the positive side, good quality cotton double gauze like this one from Cotton & Steel is extremely soft. It’s also pretty easy to work with like a lot of cotton is. On the down side, some double gauze can develop a sort of ‘halo’ around it, as one of my friends says. It almost gets a little fuzz that stands out from the fabric. I haven’t experienced that with this fabric so far, but it’s something to keep an eye on if you try it for yourself. Because of the loose weave, it can also grow over several wearings. Again, I haven’t found this to be too much of a problem with this particular double gauze (my friend tried another brand), but keep an eye on it if you try it. As far as the Cotton & Steel fabric is concerned, I would say this is a winner. It’s very soft and comfortable.
For this version of the Esme top, I did a major broad back adjustment, which is something I tend to need on woven tops. It definitely improved the fit over my first version, which I forgot to do a broad back adjustment on.
This is a good classic shape and is pretty quick to sew. There are numerous variations on it in Everyday Style, as well as several other useful basics throughout the book.
It’s starting to get cooler now, so just this week I put this top away until spring. I’m looking forward to wearing it again when the weather warms up.
This week I found my recommendations in my reading pile. I love to check out books. Some I read cover to cover and some I just scan to get a sense of what they are about. Here’s what I’ve got checked out from the library right now:
Hey, everyone! It’s been awhile! I’ve been sick or taking care of sick people for the last month over here; hence, the silence on the blog. I think I am mostly better at this point, so I thought I ought to write up a blog post! Thankfully I had these photos ready to go, because I haven’t gotten to the point of taking new blog photos yet. Hopefully soon!
This one is a little bit of a departure from my usual makes. I sewed up some stuffed whales from the book Tilda’s Seaside Ideas by Tone Finnanger.
Both whales were baby gifts. I tend to find an interesting project to make as a baby gift and then make that until I’m ready for a change. In the past, I’ve made flannel baby blankets and burp cloths, little kitty stuffed animals, etc. This time I decided to go with whales.
I can’t remember how I found this pattern–maybe Pinterest, but my library system had the book that the pattern was in, so I checked it out and got started. I had some Art Gallery denim left over from my shorts, and I liked the idea of using that for the whales.
It’s a match!
For one of them, I used a little lace flower as an embellishment because I thought it fit my friend’s style.
For the other whale, created for a family member, I made a little heart from the bridesmaid dress I wore in her wedding.
The eyes are drawn in with a fabric marker, so I wouldn’t have to worry about them becoming choking hazards.
I am not experienced in making stuffed animals, but I thought that certain parts of the pattern seemed a little…ambitious? In general, it’s an easy pattern, but there were some stitching lines on the tail and fins that you are supposed to push stuffing into, and since I made the medium size whales, it didn’t seem very realistic to think I could stuff those without a lot of frustration. Just getting stuffing into the little space under the sewn mouth was tricky enough, so I left off the added tail and fin stitching.
This wasn’t a tricky project overall, and I really love how they turned out. I think the moms liked them, and it was good to have a homemade gift to give. I used to give handmade baby gifts almost exclusively, but I really don’t any more–just once in a while. Now I’ll have to keep my eye out for the next baby gift project.
And now for something
completely a little bit different. I sewed a bag! So…still sewing, but not my normal apparel sewing (although I do get to wear it!).
I’ve seen a lot of cool bag patterns out there, but I never dove in. I almost dipped a toe in years ago, before I sewed regularly, when I bought an Amy Butler diaper bag pattern, but I think it was one of those aspirational projects where you buy the supplies, tell yourself you’re going to do it, but know in your heart that you never really will. Thankfully my best friend saved me from that whole scenario by making the bag for me. Otherwise I guarantee it would still be sitting in my box of patterns, unmade.
That aberration aside, though, no bag has tempted me. Until now. It may be that it was the right bag at the right time. My shoulders were getting sore from carrying my normal messenger-style bag, and I was thinking I needed a change. It was Instagram that did it. I saw this bag in my feed under the hashtag #giucygiucebucketbagsewalong and I got kind of intrigued. I wasn’t really planning on making one, but if I did, I would get the added benefit of learning a few quilting techniques since the designer, Giuseppe (“Giucy Giuce”), is a quilter. I would also have a new bag that would distribute weight equally between my shoulders. And I knew a place where I could get my supplies…
So, I mulled it over, and finally decided to go for it. With help from Maggie at Pintuck & Purl (We all knew that’s where I was going for supplies, right?), I picked out fabric in colors that would be neutrals for me, with a little bit of a surprise on the inside. I found all the directions to make the bag on the Bernina blog. Even if you don’t own a Bernina sewing machine (I don’t), this blog has a lot of good information.
As an apparel sewer, it took me a little while to get my head around the quilting concepts, but I got there. I realized as I went along that my creation wasn’t going to be “perfect”, so I made the important decision to *mostly* let that go. I couldn’t get bogged down in perfectionism if I ever wanted to finish. And guess what? Once I moved on and actually finished the bag, I didn’t even think about the parts that had struck me as imperfect while I was making it.
I was a little skeptical about using quarter-inch seams in a bag that would have to take weight. I know 1/4″ seams are common in quilting. I’m curious about what is standard in bag-making. Is there a standard? Is it 5/8″ like in apparel? One inch? Something completely different? Either way, as my husband pointed out, the lining could carry a lot of the weight, and that wasn’t pieced beyond attaching the bottom to the body of the lining. I like security, so I double stitched the bottoms onto both the inside and the outside for extra security, and it’s never given me any problems. In fact, I’ve used this bag every day since I made it. I felt a little disloyal to my old beloved bag that I had been using, but I haven’t had any sore shoulders due to heavy bags since I switched. I love this bag, and I liked dipping my toe into quilting techniques without having to make a full quilt. It was just enough.
But you know what? I love apparel even more. I don’t think I’m going to become a bag-maker any time soon, but I’m glad I tried because now I know I can do it. I can learn quilting techniques and, if I want to, I can also learn to make any bag that strikes my fancy.
In case you are interested in my fabric choices, here they are, all from Pintuck & Purl:
Outer fabric strips: one fat quarter (I think) of each of these: RJR Supreme Solid Carolina, Cloud9 Cirrus Solid Ocean, Cloud9 Cirrus Solid Sky, RJR Supreme Solid Teal, RJR Supreme Solid Seafoam, RJR Supreme Solid Bowood Green, RJR Supreme Solid Slate
Outer fabric triangles: one fat quarter (I think) of Cotton + Steel Basics XOXO in Ghost
Outer bottom fabric and bottom tabs: 1/3 yard of Cloud9 Rainwalk Ripple Grey Canvas
Inner fabric: 1 yard of Cotton + Steel Mustang Canvas (Oddly enough, this link is the closest I could find on Cotton+ Steel’s website to the cotton/linen canvas I used, so it’s close, but not quite the same.)
September has flown by around here. The beginning was definitely still summer, but now the cooler weather is coming in. I don’t know if I’m ready or not, but I bought some fleece, I’m ready for pumpkin spice everything now that the autumnal equinox has passed and starting tomorrow, I’m all about the candy corn. 😉 Here are some things I saw outside this month. It’s been beautiful.
Fall has officially started (the autumnal equinox was Thursday, September 22), but I still have one more summer garment to share with you. I also have a few other projects I did during the summer, but those are great for any season, so we’ll save them for another time. Today I want to talk about these pants!
I really wanted some wide-leg linen pants for summer, and I also wanted to try sewing with linen, something I hadn’t done until I made this Datura blouse (also pictured). When trying to find a pattern for the pants I had in mind, I remembered some scrub pants I owned in college. They had a wide, straight leg and were the ultimate in comfort. Since I hadn’t been able to find a pattern I really liked among the “regular” clothing patterns, I turned to the scrub patterns, and found Simplicity 1020.
I figured I could use that and just leave off a few of the extra pockets, keeping the front and back ones. I found my fabric at Fabric.com–a Kaufman Essex Yarn Dyed Linen blend (55% linen, 45% cotton) in blue and a cotton/rayon (50% cotton, 45% rayon, 5% Lycra) knit in Indigo for the top of the pants. Other than that, I just needed elastic and thread, which I had in my stash.
I made a quick muslin out of a sheet since I’ve had to do so many fit adjustments on recent bottoms, but while these could maybe have been tweaked slightly, they were good overall, and I decided to make them without adjustments. This makes me wonder if the Simplicity pants/shorts patterns will fit me better (i.e. with fewer adjustments) than McCall’s and Butterick. I’ll have to explore that as I make more pants. The pants themselves were not too difficult to sew up, although I did prolong the process by finishing all my seams. Finishing seams used to feel like such a chore and while it still does sometimes, I didn’t want thready insides once these pants were finished and went through the wash. I used a turned-and-stitched finish (a.k.a. clean-finish) per the instructions in the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing.
The linen seemed too thick for French seams, although I’m open to hearing about other finishes people have used. I also basically did a double turned hem for all the pockets and then topstitched them on so that I wouldn’t get threads in the pockets, either. Last, but not least, I covered the seam where the main pants fabric joined the knit waist fabric with bias tape.
All of that added quite a bit of time, but I was really happy with these when they were finished. I don’t know what has happened to me, but it makes me really happy to see those beautiful insides in a project. I guess I’m “growing up” as a sewist. 😉
I think my only question on the whole thing is the hem length. If I had hemmed these at the suggested spot, they would have been long, but probably good with heels. I turned them up one more time so I could wear them with flatter shoes, and I think that is the right length for lower shoes, but sometimes, at some angles, they look a little bit like floods. (Wow. I just used Google Images to look up “flood pants”. It was a little different than I expected, but I think my statement still stands.) I didn’t actually cut my excess off the hems, so if I change my mind later, I can rehem them to be longer. I’m done with them for this year, though.
These pants are super comfortable (secret pajamas for the win!) and they wrinkle much, much less than I thought they would–maybe because of the cotton blended in? I think of cotton as pretty wrinkly, but who knows? Maybe because of the midweight? I don’t know. Whatever it is, I’m happy with them. Now it’s on to fall sewing!
We’ve been talking a lot about shorts lately, haven’t we? I’ve noticed that in my sewing, I tend to make tops. I have a lot of me-made tops in my closet, but not a lot of shorts and pants. Why is that? Fear. That’s it. Silly as it sounds, I have been afraid of making shorts and pants because I don’t know how to fit them. But this was the year of sewing first jeans and then, this summer, shorts. I’m so glad I finally plunged in because now I have a better grasp of some of the fitting issues I might face and how to fix them.
So let’s talk about this particular pattern, McCall’s 6930 (View A). There are a couple of shorts options in this one, as well as capris. They have a flat front, shaped waistband, back zipper, and pockets, with optional belt carriers. It actually took me three tries to get this right, and I took pictures of each of them, so you could see some of the things I had to fix and the mistakes I made.
Last summer, I began my first version of this pattern. I could tell that something was wrong with it, but I wasn’t sure what to do, so I put it away until this summer. I nearly threw these shorts out when I was cleaning up one day, but I tried them on first and realized that they weren’t as terrible as I remembered. So, I finished them, and came up with ideas on what I wanted to improve. The front was baggy and went up too high, and the back felt like it needed more length in the crotch seam.
The baggy front was no good.
I looked in my trusty book, Sewing Pants that Fit from the Singer Sewing Reference Library, and decided to try taking a wedge out of the front and add a wedge into the back. After I had done this, I saw that the book said not to take wedges out of the front, but there was no explanation as to why, so I decided to try it anyway. I took out the wedge and redrew the top of the front crotch seam, making sure it was straight like before. When I asked a friend who used to work as a pattern drafter what was up with the book’s advice, she asked if I had redrawn the center front line and, when I told her I had, she said it ought to work. Her other suggestion was to take some of the length out of the top of the front, thereby leaving that front seam intact. She also told me that the new grainline should be more or less perpendicular to the top of the shorts so that they would hang straight down.
The front pattern piece, above.
The back pattern piece.
Version two came out much improved. There was one main problem, however. I had made these out of a stretch denim…but the pattern didn’t call for a fabric with stretch. So, as you may imagine, these shorts tend to “grow” throughout the day until they are a bit large by the end of the day. Another minor thing that I noted was that using a lighter weight fabric for the back of the pocket is not as good as using a fabric of the same weight. I did this in versions one and two. It creates wrinkles and doesn’t hang as well–not super critical, but important to note.
This picture makes me look excited about the hugeness of these shorts, but I’m really just making funny faces for my photographer. This photo shoot got a little silly by the end…
Fabric the same weight as my denim would have worked better than the lightweight denim scrap I used.
I cut into some of my precious fabric from Pintuck & Purl for my third version…and it came out great! When I put these on, they just feel right. The one thing I will probably tweak if I make this pattern again (which I’ll probably do) is to lengthen the back crotch point just a bit as the front of the legs feel closer to the body than I think they should. The leg openings aren’t too small, it’s more like they are tilted toward the back when they should be more balanced.
Front view. There’s a little yellow on the darts from my chalk markings, but that washed out easily.
Each of the adjustments I made were the same as those I made on McCall’s 6848, the pajama-turned-everyday shorts I recently blogged about. It feels good to know I am on the right track. Now the question is, will these be standard adjustments for me, or will they be limited to McCall’s patterns? Either way, I feel like I’m making progress in learning to fit pants and shorts, and a lot of the scariness is dissipating. It’s such a pleasure to occasionally wear an outfit that I’ve made–not only the top, but both the top and the bottom. I’m really happy that I tried despite my fear.
And…..guess what? Today is this blog’s third birthday! That’s pretty cool! I thought about doing a round-up of past posts, but I wanted to talk shorts one more time instead. I’m so thankful for this blog, which has helped me grow in confidence as a writer, seamstress, and photographer. I think I have a good groove, have seen some improvements in those areas, and I hope for more improvements in the future in both sewing and blogging. I’m also thankful for you, my readers, some of whom have been with me from the very beginning. Thank you for encouraging and supporting me in this. Learning these skills goes far beyond sewing–the confidence and happiness that comes from sewing has expanded into other areas of my life as well. So, I’m thankful for the blog, for you, and to God for the skills, time, resources, and frame of mind to grow. Thank you.
And last but not least, let’s have some Recommendations!
It may be September, but summer isn’t over until the first day of fall on September 22, so it’s been shorts-land over here lately. Yes, Shorts-Land is a place, and that place has been my house, where I’ve been sewing up a ton of basic and not-so-basic shorts this summer. Like many aspects of sewing, I’ve been putting shorts and pants off because I didn’t know how to fit them, but I also know that I really need to try if I’m ever going to learn.
McCall’s 6848 is a pattern I’ve been tweaking little by little, and I think I finally have it right. This is actually a pajama pattern, but after making my first pair of shorts from it (View D), I realized this it was going to be more of a summer staple than pajamas.
One thing I’ve found in the little bit of pants/shorts sewing I have done is that bottoms sometimes feel as though they are too high in the front and too low in the back for me. This was definitely the case with my first pair of these shorts. So, I got out the good ol’ Singer Sewing Reference Library books and looked up fitting, until I came up with some ideas. For my second pair of shorts, I took a wedge out of the front and added a wedge into the back. This got my shorts really close to what I wanted, but the front legs felt just a little…well, not tight, but not quite right–a little like they were pressing against me too much in the front of the legs. So, for this last pair, I lengthened the back crotch point just a bit and…finally just right!!!
They feel exactly like I want them to. For this pair, due to my need for basics, I decided to try out the new Art Gallery Fabrics Denim. I got it at Pintuck & Purl in Exeter, NH (who, by the way, I’ve started doing some social media for, which is super cool). I was kind of skeptical about this thin fabric. I didn’t really believe it was denim, because the weight is closer to a quilting cotton, although it’s much drapier. When you look at the weave, though, it really is a denim weave. All that to say, I was pleasantly surprised when I tried it. I managed to make these up before the road trip we went on in July, and they were perfect in the car. I guess it’s always a good day when you can wear something designed as pajamas in your everyday life.
I even put a little lace flower in there as my back tag.
The one extra thing I did (besides that flower) was add some long bartacks at the sides. I know from experience that these shorts can catch on things…and rip. It’s no fun ripping a hole in the side of your new shorts.
The only other thing I would change if I made these again would be to add pockets. It’s pretty annoying not to have any, but I think, at this point, I want to focus more on fit than modifying patterns with extra features. So, I’ll save it as a future idea.
Hi, guys! I hope you’ve been having a good week.
Today’s project is brought to you by the need for basics. I’m like a lot of sewing people. I get drawn in by the pretty, happy, shiny prints and end up with a closet full of crazy, crazy fun…that doesn’t all go together. I also tend to make a lot of tops, because I’m still trying to get over my fear of sewing pants due to my lack of fitting knowledge.
Well, you can’t learn if you don’t try, right? So, along with the tops, I’ve been working on shorts this summer.
This pair, however, was more of a known quantity, so I made them up earlier this summer when I went nuts sewing easier, known stuff after all the complex things I’d been doing. I’ve made this shorts pattern before, back when I started sewing seriously, and the fit has always been great. I never needed to alter them. Besides the fit, the other great thing about this pattern is that it is free, free, FREE! You can find it here. It’s one that Anna Maria Horner made for Janome.
I still wear my first pair of shorts from this pattern (the green ones in this post). In looking at my measurements now, I should probably grade out at the hip, but I used some stretch denim that was left over from my Ginger Jeans extravaganza, so the fit turned out great, and they’re very comfortable.
I didn’t have a navy zipper, so I used what I had, which happened to be red, but thanks to my fairly new invisible zipper foot, you can’t see the red much. Plus…I don’t actually mind. I like little surprising details and contrasting colors.
Someday I’d love to add pockets and maybe a waistband to this, but for now, this pattern was just what I needed as far as sewing a known pattern and something basic that fit well and matched with most things. I highly recommend it.
So that’s it! I hope you give these a try if you are looking for some simple shorts.
I’ve still got some summer sewing to fit in, so you’ll likely be seeing more of that here for a bit. Summer isn’t officially over until September 22!