Sparkle shorts

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This is the third and final of my vacation outfits. I feel really happy in it, probably because both these pieces are third iterations of their patterns, and I’m well on my way to working the kinks out. It’s a sleeveless Anderson blouse tucked into some sparkle princess pony Flint shorts! Everybody gonna shine, okay?

I adjusted both of these patterns, but the Flints less so, so I’ll start there! This was my third time sewing the Flints; shorts, culottes, then shorts again. My main change was eliminating the lovely deep hem ‘cause I like them SHORT. I tried a few different hems – a ½ turned hem that looked too stiff, separate cuff pieces à la the Deer & Doe Chataignes that just didn’t wow me, and finally landed on this teensy baby hem. Baby hems combine some of my favorite sewing techniques, like precise edgestitching and fabric miserliness!

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The inseam ends just below the pocket bags. They’re not called longs, right?

I also curved the back waistband. I divided the waistband piece at the side notches and added seam allowances, otherwise leaving what became the front pieces alone. I then curved and cut the back as two separate pieces (an outer and a facing), which enabled me to remove about 1” of gape from the top of the waistband.

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The fit on these is still not perfect – cat whiskers for daaaayysss – but shoot, they’re comfy, they have generous pockets, and since the #1 cause of my shorts perishing is critical invisible zipper failure, I can handle a little pooch around my pooch.

I edited the Sew Over It Anderson blouse a wee bit more aggressively. The first time I made it sleeves and all. I bite my thumb at those sleeve directions. They suck. I kind of loved the look (more Gillian Anderson in X-Files than The Fall, but still pretty glam) but the sloppy insides made me sad and angry. Plus the sleeves were skinny but I was swimming in the body, so for my next draft I went sleeveless AND sized down to the smallest size (!!!). I found the shoulder seam oddly binding on that version, and decided it was because the bottom of the armscye was too high and my arm chub was pulling down the shoulder seam. I changed the pattern like this:

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Only, it wasn’t the armscye depth, it was the shoulder slope. I realized that halfway through the sewing process, too late for take-backs. I should have done this (and next time I will):

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Here’s how those two different pattern alterations compare:

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There’s too much underarm gape for my tastes, but otherwise I’m pretty delighted with this version. It was a cinch to sew, partly because I ignored the Sew Over It cutting layout. They direct you to place the front shirt neckline on the bias but I placed it on the selvage instead. Oh hai finished edge.

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I also swapped out the measly piece of binding on the back neckline for a 2” wide facing.

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I’m not totally sure how and why it happened, but on either side of the neckline there are these funny jutting corners. It has something to do with how I French seamed the shoulder – the seam allowance ended up pressed forward – but it’s both symmetrical and inoffensive (and how many of us can say that about ourselves?!).

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The pattern calls for a drawstring cinching the hem, but I knew I would always wear it tucked in, so this shirt has a baby hem, too. I overlapped the layers and shimmied deeply into my mirror until I found the lowest possible V that always covered my bra, and then tacked them together at the hem.

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The best part about a tropical island vacation? The humidity steamed all the suitcase wrinkles from this linen top without any help! (PSA, THAT WAS NOT ACTUALLY THE BEST PART.)

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My head is *firmly* in summer sewing now. Stay tuned for more premature proactive planning! 🙂

 

Pattern: Anderson blouse

Pattern cost: N/A (previously used)

Size: 8 – the smallest size!!!

Supplies: 1.25 yards of Antwerp linen in white, $18.88, Gather Here; thread from stash

Total time: 2.75

Total cost: $18.88

 

Pattern: Flint shorts

Pattern cost: N/A (previously used)

Size: 14

Supplies: 2 yards of Kaufman metallic linen in Emerald, Gather Here, $22; thread from stash

Total time: 6 hours

Total cost: $22.00

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Resort Hobbit

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This is the second of my 3 vacation outfits, and the only one I sewed for and reliably wore all summer 2018 (pre-blog, but I don’t mind blogging my wardrobe steadies, anyway). I’m calling the aesthetic of the pants resort hobbit. Shorter & wider please. The pattern is V8499. I’m not sure why I bought it initially (Vogue sale brain/shipping minimum?), but after I did, the first and best inspiration came from Cat in a Wardrobe. I copied her stripe placement but looking back on her post, I’ve got to make these again and copy her exactly! I love them in denim! I’d have to size up or at least lengthen to get the same sort of silhouette she achieves on her petite frame…I want those deep cuffs though.

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I used lightweight linen that I would have described as ‘green and white’ riiight up to when I wore it on a tropical island and stood next to some bright greens. Grey-green and white, maybe. Anyway, it’s rumpled and airy, and changing stripe direction meant that I didn’t have to worry if the cut pieces warped a little bit. I sewed it with the vertically striped-side up, making sure to keep my presser foot parallel to those, and let the horizontals look after themselves.

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I sewed a size 14. I wish split pattern ranges had a little more overlap. My hips are right on the cusp of each range. I probably should have bought 14-up, not 14-down. The front waist is flat and the back waist contains elastic; I really have to wiggle in and out, though it’s totally comfortable once on. I’m worried about how this will affect the overall lifespan of the garment. Every seam is French-seamed and topstitched, but I hate straining the loose-ish weave of the fabric! I might have to buy the larger size range (and trace again, gross).

I am roughly, from top to bottom, small, medium, and large (in retail, anyway). If a garment needs to fit in just one or two areas, like a cocoon dress that’s fitted in the bust, one range is okay, but across my whole body, like a jumpsuit or a swimsuit, a split range isn’t going to work. It’s even more difficult for someone who falls below/above/across the highest or lowest ends of the range – at least I have information available, if I decide to pay for it and buy the pattern twice. If you’re outside the far ends it’s just not there! >(

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Well, the need to wiggle-in and wiggle-out doesn’t stop me wearing the pants in practice. It just makes me stop and think if I *really* need to pee.

The pants had a new-to-me feature – knee darts (knarts, if you will).

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The knarts shape the pant leg to kind of cocoon the knee cap. I’m not sure why they should, but I enjoy a good topstitched dart anywhere.

The top is the Wiksten tank, which I owned for years before stumbling across the Katy and Laney variation, which was the kick in the backseat I needed to make it.

You could probably apply this tie-front variation to most woven tank patterns. (Back when I was first sewing, I asked an experienced friend, “What’s the difference between the Wiksten tank and the Grainline Tiny Pocket tank?” Her answer: “$3.”) I really like the exact proportions of their band here – not too short or too tight, just cropped and comfortable.

There’s a tiny raw edge at either end of the hem between the ties, but it’s survived the Wild West of my laundry so far (everybody in! Wash cold! Dry hot! Just a shirt and its will to survive!). This was a free make, by the way – the fabric was leftover from my Peppermint jumpsuit, and the pattern was a gift. I had to piece the tie band, but I consider it a #sewingleftovers success.

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Enhance your pants – with knarts!

 

Pattern: Vogue 8499, view C

Pattern cost: $5.00

Size: 14

Supplies: 3 yards of Telio Tuscany Pinstripe Chambray Linen in Light Green/Cream, $43.16; thread from stash

Total time: 8 hours

Total cost: $48.16

 

Pattern: Wiksten tank

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: M, with the Katy and Laney variation

Supplies: scraps of ikat cotton, thread from stash

Total time: 3.25 hours

Total cost: $0.00

Vacation Roberts

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Here’s something a bit different today – the background! Professor Boyfriend and I went on a semi-spontaneous 3-day trip to Mexico! We both have family (and in my case seasonal employment) in Europe, so whenever we’ve travelled together it’s been to visit various dads and sisters and things, or for work. It was a bit strange going somewhere just, like, ’cause, but once I got over the hump we booked a trip and a few weeks later we were on our way to Isla Holbox in the Yucatan (which I first learned about on Made by Meg, funnily enough – I’m a travel copycat!).

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I was excited to road test my new Roberts Collection jumpsuit months ahead of schedule. This jumpsuit almost wasn’t; my fabric order showed up a full meter short, but luckily it’s an ikat fabric with no wrong side and no obvious up-or-down so I was able to creatively cut a size 4 from 3 meters of 45” cotton. Before cutting, I shortened the bodice pattern pieces by 1”. This is easy on the front, but there’s a diagonal seam on the back, joining the bodice to the leg. I cut horizontally just below the ‘sleeve’ (it’s a little overcut kimono thing, so not really a sleeve, not really an armsyce), overlapped my pattern pieces by 1”, and redrew the diagonal from the center to the side seam. I then made sure the seamline matched that angle on the back leg piece.

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That diagonal back seam is the only one I flat-felled, before deciding the fabric was too soft and squashy and life was too short! Everything else is serged and top-stitched.

You might notice one of my shoes is darker than the other. It’s wet. I fell off one pier (and later, out of one hammock).

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I’d love to figure out a different way to finish the ‘sleeve’! I think even extending it slightly and hemming it before sewing the side seam would be better. This is a simple bias tape finish but it’s wrinkly and strange around the armpit. Or maybe a facing would be best? I’ve heard from some other sewists that they struggled with the Marilla Walker Roberts collection directions, but the sleeve is the only place they really fell down for me.

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I was never going to pattern-match with my shortage of fabric (I have just shreds left) so I cut the pocket facing on the cross-grain, and frankly I dig it! The pockets are a nice size, too.

I went to Gather Here for buttons and brought home snaps instead. Then I learned that different size snaps require different size snap setting tools. Oops. I thoroughly mangled one, returned the rest, and ordered snaps + tools (which Gather Here doesn’t stock, and I wanted to make sure they’d match) from GoldStarTool. They have a great selection, fast service, and they’re cheap cheap cheap. I recommend them for hardware! Though, the minimum order was 100 snaps. I needed 5. All is snaps now. Luckily I love installing them! Bam! Bam! SNAPS!

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The Roberts neckline facing was a great opportunity to try a new-to-me facing finish, which I discovered on Made by Rae. Since the facing has a concave corner it was the perfect tidy, low-bulk finish! I’ll definitely use it going forward, though you can see I didn’t quite roll my interfacing far enough to the wrong side everywhere.

I love this summer outfit! So easy and relaxed and breathable, with good sun coverage. I want to make another, possibly a solid one in linen? I mean, I always want another anything in linen. I exist in a permanent state of wanting linen.

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How’s that for comfort?!

Taking blog photos on a relaxing vacation was actually a blast! It was a chance to wander and explore for half an hour each beautiful evening, and we always concluded by watching the sunset from the beach. Holbox would be an Instagrammer’s paradise! So many murals, all the signs are hand-painted, plus vivid tropical plant life – we walked by a dozen amazing ‘backdrops’ for each one we photographed (partly because my boyfriend won’t take pictures if it means standing in front of someone’s house, or even on a bit of sidewalk that seems like it might belong to someone. He’s a very polite young man). My only regret is that I can’t compete with the super-saturated backgrounds we did find. 😉

This would have been a low-cost trip, by the way, except that all of our travel was impacted by winter weather (none of the flights we actually took were the flights we initially booked, and thanks to a connecting flight cancellation the whole trip was pushed back by a day, so we paid for shuttles/accommodations we couldn’t use. Also Air Canada is a fart in the sky and rebooking with them took 11 hours of grim effort). It was so luxurious to eat maracuyá gelato in 86°F weather with a fresh sea breeze, but I probably won’t choose to travel to or from the Northeast in February again. I already miss my summer clothes, though – it was nice to get a glimpse!

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Love from among the palms!

 

Pattern: Roberts Collection jumpsuit

Pattern cost: $8.50

Size: 4, shortened 1” above the waist

Supplies: 3 meters of dark green ikat cotton, $26.16, Etsy; $10.49, snaps, GoldStarTool (set of 100); thread from stash

Total time: 8 hours

Total cost: $45.15

High & Wide

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Jellyfish stew,

I’m loony for you,

I dearly adore you,

Oh, truly I do!

Did you know Jack Prelutsky wrote those words about high-waisted cropped wide-leg trousers? Okay, fine, he didn’t. But he should have! And he did! No, he didn’t. HOWEVER. My heart sings for the Peppermint Wide-Leg Pants! You should go download them right away, because they’re a) terrific and b) freeeeeeeee!

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Folks are buzzing about this silhouette, and a free pattern is a relatively low-stakes way to try it out. Mine are a little wider and a little longer than the pants on the pattern model, because after my recent Case of the Small Pants (the butler did it! Well technically, the butt did), I wasn’t taking any chances. And GUYS. The PROPORTIONS. I’m so HAPPY. I started with a size F for a 43” hip, knowing it would require fit adjustments, and it did – though none of them were actually difficult to implement! Follow meeee…

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I removed ½” from the top of each outseam, tapering to nothing at the bottom of the pocket, and increased the back dart intake by ½” each, for a total reduction of 3” in the waist. The pocket openings were not a huge fan of this somewhat extreme after-the-fact grading, but I really liked the width in the leg and didn’t want to size down overall, so I changed the paper pattern as below.

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I’m hopeful this will work for future versions! I also laughed in the face of new fly directions (again, I learned caution from my recent pants failure, I am wise now) and substituted those from the Ginger jeans pattern. This pattern has fly extensions cut separately, but after attaching them I did everything but the topstitching as per Closet Case. I liked the minimal topstitching the Peppermint pattern directed. That fly is WIDE, by the way!

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You can see the bottom edge of the pockets here – the pocket bag is 1 piece main fabric and 1 piece lining and it’s a bit bulky but honestly, I’m not mad, it sewed up so quickly and the pockets are nice and generous.

I bought a sandwich baggie of mismatched vintage leather buttons at a flea market several years ago and I finally got to use one for the waist closure! It’s been through the washer and dryer a handful of times and it’s doing great.

About the waistband. I hacked my 3” adjustment off of it a little too merrily and it ended up far too short in some places (the right front, i.e., the underlap) and too long in others (the left front/overlap). Probably installing the zipper differently contributed, too. Overall the waistband still fit, though, so I just sewed it on with the seams misaligned all higgledy-piggledy!

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Fabric buying note: I didn’t use the full 3 yards of 45” wide fabric requirement. I have about 29” inches of uncut yardage (as in, selvage-to-selvage, not a bit missing) left over. I ordered this Ventana twill from Imagine Gnats using a #sewfancypants discount code, woop woop. 🙂 I was totally smitten by this color and so postponed making these in corduroy, but I want to circle back to that idea at some point.

By the way, we took these pictures on a very warm winter’s day! Can you believe this is February in Boston? O_O Ignoring for the moment the primal terror of this sentence, I wore these pants on this 64° day last week and a 20° day the week before, and they were easy to style for both weather conditions.

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This is an official statement of RECOMMEND! Stay wide, amigos!

 

Pattern: Peppermint Wide-Leg Pants

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: F, with adjustments

Supplies: 3 yards of Ventana Twill 8 oz. in Old Blue, $36.58, Imagine Gnats; $1.91, thread, Michael’s

Total time: 6.25 hours

Total cost: $38.49

 

Icarus Flops

A few weeks ago I posted about my plan to sew the Ready-to-Sew Jean-Paul boilersuit in time for The Sewcialists‘ #sewmenswearforeveryone. I wasn’t sure what fabric exactly I wanted to sew it in (a drapey rayon? A structured denim?) but let’s flip to the last page of this mystery: I chose wrong.

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Look, this isn’t terrible. It’s a wearable garment with no major fit issues. It’s comfortable, surprisingly practical for winter (I’m basically fully dressed before the jumpsuit goes on! Fully dressed as a cat burglar but still =^owo^=), and I learned something while sewing it. It’s not a dead ringer for my inspiration, but again, not terrible.

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I was never going to be spare and distrait and dramatic, but my main mistake was in focusing on the color of the garment in this picture, rather than the fabric substrate. I bought an olive green gabardine with 3% Spandex; the color was spot-on and I thought the stretch would be an asset (you’re fitting a lot of zones with a jumpsuit), but while the rayon/poly blend has a nice weight and drape and doesn’t wrinkle, I miss the crunch of natural fiber.

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Honestly, I miss the wrinkles! For a piece drawn so literally from manual workwear, wrinkles showing its use pattern are, for me, part of the allure. I also prefer sewing and pressing natural fibers; I don’t have a ton of experience with polyester, but the boilersuit involves a lot of patch pockets and topstitching, and the springy-spongy texture was harder to keep straight and true. All this plus stretch!

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Okay, enough of fabric, on to pattern. I sewed this almost exactly as written and was happy with the fit; Ready-to-Sew includes half sizes, which is awesome. If you’re a pear like me don’t do what I did and use your waist measurement for the waist; it sits much closer to my hips. It’s fine, thanks to the straight silhouette, but barely.

The collar and collar stand pieces are asymmetrical (I think!) but I failed to notice this and cut them on the fold and nothing dire happened! My only deliberate change was to the front pants pocket.

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The pattern calls for this to be lined, but it’s all straight edges, so I figured I could fold and topstitch. I made one change to the pattern piece, below –

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Nothing to it really – I just grew on a little flap, hemmed it, and then folded and topstitched the remaining edges. The fabric requirements were accurate. The chunk I have left is a little larger than two of these patch pockets!

There’s some funny bunny stuff in the pattern. For example, the horizontal pleat is folded and topstitched from the right side, but it would be much easier to sew as a tuck (or even baste as a tuck and then topstitch).

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That wide pleat is also folded over itself when you create the right button band. It’s a bulky area. I would prefer facings there, especially if working in a heavier denim or canvas. The left button band has a facing already.

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Argh, the dirty details of my topstitching. I used snaps mainly because I recently wanted 5 snaps for a different project and the minimum order was 100. Everything is snaps now! I made a little hole when installing one, darn it, but hopefully some rice stitching there will keep fraying at bay. I also lined up the snaps with each other vertically instead of checking to make sure the actual seams lined up – double-check your laps (in both senses I guess!).

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In terms of style, I like the lowered waist, the valiant effort to straighten my cuddlesome figure vestigial darts notwithstanding, the leg shape, the horizontal pleat. I’d like wider sleeves, maybe a wider collar, faced button bands instead of a collar stand.

My cardinal sin was in not knowing myself!! I just want to wear plants and animals. I’ll hang on to this jumpsuit for a minute, but if I could snap my fingers and make it broadcloth or canvas, I would keep it for sure. This is your friendly neighborhood Obvious Reminder – construction is important, fabric choice equally so.

Critical reception of this jumpsuit ranged from (grownups) “That’s…a lot of suit”, a silent but much appreciated thumbs-up, to (children) “Amazing” and because of a game where I was meant to be captured by pirates “Perfect, you’re dressed like a servant already”.

Sadly this wasn’t my only sewing project that went a bit flumpo recently. I just sewed the Lazo Trousers by Thread Theory but no pictures because I can’t get inside them! Pure bush league eff-uppery, I sewed 10 waist 12 hip but could really use a 12 waist minimum to probably a 16 hip. I’m particularly disappointed in myself because the fabric was a gift from a friend – the ‘short end’ of lightweight wool, purchased in 1948 (!!) from a Pennsylvania mill by her great-grandmother, who worked there. I was so excited to be working with a fabric that passed from working woman to working woman over the decades, and to use this traditional menswear fabric to clad my lady legs. Even when it became clear the ship had sailed on these legs getting into those pants, I finished them; it didn’t seem to honor her work and the fabric’s journey just to toss them aside. The finished trousers are actually quite lovely if very small (though the directions for the zipper fly installation are fully bananas). I’ll pass them on at an upcoming clothing swap. Blame it on my juice!

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Pattern: Ready-to-Sew Jean-Paul boilersuit

Pattern cost: $11.50

Size: 41 waist, 46 hip

Supplies: 3.5 yards of olive bengaline suiting (rayon/poly/spandex), $24.32, Joann; thread, $1.91, Michaels; snaps from stash

Total time: 12.25 hours

Total cost: $37.73

Winter Knit Shirt Bumper Post!!

It’s a Winter Knit Shirt Bumper Post!!

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If you’re like me, you have a hard time covering your top half in winter. Legs = jeans, almost inevitably (which can get boring, but always works for my day). Torso = some old RTW sweaters, oftener than not, unfortunately. Sometimes I try to get interesting with ~layers!!~ but what I really want are easy-wearing, cozy tops. I prefer sewing with wovens, so my selections are a little meager, but see the collection below!

1 . Wrap Nettie

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This is the Closet Case Nettie, with the innovative wrap variation from Self Assembly Sewing. I botched the hem of the underlap layer and stretched it out (technically it didn’t need hemming at all, but I was worried about the raw edge rolling) so now there’s some slightly odd vertical wrinkles, but it’s less noticeable in person. Especially when the big bow is spruced up! I used the tie pieces from the Seamwork Elmira, just tucked into the side seams. I’m not linking to the Elmira because I dug the style but the drafting seemed very off. Masses of extra fabric in my armpits – I cut it up almost immediately and repurposed it into this bodysuit.

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  1. Deep back Nettie

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On one trip to London I was able to visit The Man Outside Sainsbury’s, as recommended by Did You Make That? and others  – he is my Tir Na Nog, my Shangri-La, my Wabar of men near supermarkets. I miss him every day. He said this knit was silk jersey and my amateurish burn test did not disprove it. This fabric is very soft and the edges didn’t roll at all – really paradise to sew. I worked hard to keep the flower bunches unanatomical and it worked! But…

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The deep back was a mistake! I don’t feel comfortable wearing this to work (my youngest students are 4 and 5 and get a hold of any edge and pull when they want your attention, and I can’t help but feel one tug on the wrong place would leave me looking a little let’s say Minoan), and for winter weekends…

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It’s cold! I still pull it out occasionally. It also peps up my drawer, which is important in a drab season.

  1. High-neck Nettie

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This black bodysuit might be my favorite. It’s a bamboo knit, which is a little thin but has a very firm hold. No way I can push up my sleeves. The high neck is super cozy and goes with everything – every necklace, scarf, layer, bottom. I need another basic black Nettie!

It seems very prim and sober with the color, high neck and long sleeves but I’m also 50% cosplaying as Kim Possible at all times.

  1. Dark navy Nettie

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IT’S FUNCTIONAL!

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SO FUNCTIONAL!

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Scoop neck, high back, navy blue, works great under dungarees. See, this is why not every top needed its own post.

  1. Tabor V-Neck

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This is Sew House Seven’s Tabor V-neck in a spruce sweater knit. I usually resist basic tee patterns but I was seduced (or is it sew-spruced?! HAR HAR HAR) by this view, with the thick overlapping neckband. I got a little puckering where the V meets the body of the shirt, but that’s because I ignored the designer’s direction to sew with the shirt side up, then serged my edges, and then noticed the pucker. I decided to leave it alone, as my experience with art (and popping pimples) has taught me that the more you pick at a minor flaw, the more noticeable it becomes, without usually improving it at all. This will be a leitmotif in sweater knits for me.

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My only issue with this shirt is that the seam of the dropped sleeve has me constantly convinced my bra strap is slipping off!

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The shirt pattern also includes this lovely, neatly finished split hem. I’ll be omitting it in the future though and just sewing the side seam fully closed, since I only wear the shirt tucked it. And here’s why:

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Just don’t love that shape, guys. I do want to make more of these anyway! One of my fifth graders said I looked “elegant” which warmed my heart (she didn’t see this picture, obviously). Thank you sweet monster. ❤

  1. Hemlock tee

I’m having a Grainline moment several years into my sewing career.

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For whatever reason I suddenly sewed up a batch of woven Hemlock tees last year (my first two are detailed here). This is my first knit Grainline Hemlock (free with newsletter sign-up) and I sewed it almost exactly as written except a lot hecking shorter because it was made from the scraps of the Tabor, above! #sewingleftovers

I sewed and serged one shoulder seam before realizing I had placed the shirt body pieces right-side-to-wrong side, and the front would now be permanently wrong side out. Ooor I could unpick.

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Yeah. Front side is wrong side out for keeps. Since this was a scrap buster and I’d already committed to less than perfection I tried something I had never done before –serging my construction seams directly! Usually I seam with a zig-zag on a traditional machine and finish the edges with the serger. I wouldn’t do this for a bodysuit or probably anything with negative ease but it went almost unbelievably quickly for a loose fitting tee like this one!

  1. Thread Theory Camas blouse

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I really like this pattern – it combines the comfort of a knit with the detailing of a woven – except I’d like to figure out a better way to finish those front edges. There seems to be unnecessary bulk there. Also, I’m not sure why that top button seems to be fighting for its life, I’m not exactly Dolly Parton.

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Gathers! I should wear this more, but I find myself avoiding it! Mustard is my Colonel Brandon of colors – I always think well of it, and never want to wear it. Luckily my man looks positively luminous in this color so I’ll put any future mustard on that hot dog.

And there you have it, every knit winter shirt I’ve sewn over the last three years! Knits are such a small percentage of my total output, but in winter they’re what I wear. I’d love to add some really snuggly sweaters too. I’m considering the Ali sweatshirt after seeing Sierra’s makes, but then I have another hurdle (beyond my reluctance to work with knits)…where are people sourcing their snuggliest fabrics?! Let a chilly woman know!

 

Patterns 1-4: Closet Case Nettie

Pattern cost: N/A (I made a summer one first)

Size: 10 at bust, graded to 12 at hip; shortened about 1.5” at waist

Supplies: 1. Refashioned Elmira sweater, stash; $1.79, thread, Michael’s; 1 meter jersey (silk?), $2.65, TMOS; $2, snaps, Michael’s; 1 yard Telio Ibiza stretch jersey knit in Black, $8.98, fabric.com; thread and snaps from stash; 1 yard Kaufman Laguna Stretch Cotton Jersey Knit in Navy, $8.55, fabric.com; thread and snaps from stash

Total time: 1. 4.75 hours; 2. 2.75 hours; 3. 3 hours; 4. 2.25 hours

Total cost: 1. $1.79; 2. $4.65; 3. $8.98; 4. $8.55

 

Pattern 5: Sew House Seven Tabor V-neck, version #4

Pattern cost: $14

Size: 10

Supplies: 2 yards Telio Topaz hatchi knit in pine, $15.96, fabric.com; thread from stash

Total time: 4 hours

Total cost: $29.96

 

Pattern 6: Grainline Hemlock tee

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: one-size pattern

Supplies: leftovers from Tabor V-neck

Total time: 1.25 hours

Total cost: $0.00

 

Pattern 7: Thread Theory Camas blouse

Pattern cost: N/A (I made a sleeveless woven one first! Oh personal spending accounting practices, sneaky sneaky)

Size: 8 at bust, graded to 12 at hip

Supplies: 1.5 yards Fabric Merchants Cotton Jersey Solid Yellow Mustard, $8.75, fabric.com; thread and buttons from stash

Total time: Lost in time! I sewed this before I started spreadsheeting my sewing

Total cost: $8.75

SBS at Gather Here

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A small change can make a big difference!

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Lawd, my face in this. Anyway, this isn’t actually a post about how I should always tuck in my shirt and roll up my sleeves (though I should) – it’s actually about small businesses and how I learned to sew!

In the fall of 2010 I moved in with my boyfriend. With almost no forethought we nabbed a studio apartment, bought the world’s most uncomfortable futon, and discovered we did in fact get along well.

I realized pretty quickly we lived within walking distance of my beloved Cambridge Public Library (I cannot stress enough how casually we signed that lease, yikes, kids), and on one such walk to the library, I saw a notice in a tiny shop front that a store would soon be opening…Gather Here! I was there on opening day. I bought…YARN.

I do not have the thing within a person that makes them knit. However, the store was cozy and warm and bewitching, and I’d always wanted to learn to sew, so that winter I signed up for a class. I remember it cost $60 (no small thing to me then, and still not a sum to sneeze at now) and we students each made a tote bag in 2 sessions. I was smitten!

After experimenting with rented machine time, which quickly adds up, I badgered my mom out of her old Singer (sorry mom, hi mom). 8 years later, both I and that business have moved into bigger digs (they’re still in Cambridge, I’m now next door in Somerville). It’s safe to say that class changed my life. It’s not that I was careening towards disaster, but since then I’ve spent a ton of time and money on sewing, and consider that cheap for the skills and self-love I’ve gained.

Obviously Gather Here was my most exciting port of call on Small Business Saturday. It’s not the place you go when you’re seeking a bargain, but the selection of fabric and yarn is lovely, and I’m not going to spend what I spend on rent and then undercut the character of the neighborhood I love, only to save, like, $6.

I bought fabric for a shirt! I made a shirt! I did not like that shirt! I tucked it in! Now I like that shirt! See, small changes can = big effects!

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The shirt is my camp-collared Archer; my changes to the pattern are detailed here. This time I grew on the facings to reduce bulk. My fabric was a stiff linen/cotton so the collar sits pretty traditionally despite the lack of a collar stand.

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I also made…tum-te-tum…a fanny pack! The cotton webbing, buckle, and zipper were also Small Business Saturday purchases. I had the fabric left over from a much, much earlier project (though it also originated in Gather Here, once upon a time).

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I quilted my largest canvas scrap and used it to sew an unlined boxy zipper pouch, plus little side tabs that connect to the webbing. You could use almost any box pouch tutorial, adjusted for the size you want – how about this one?  Or, lucky you, Sarah Kirsten recently released a free pouch pattern calculator!

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Guys. Fanny packs are LUXURY. Mine fits my wallet, keys, phone, and a folded-up fabric shopping bag. My hands are free! No straps are slipping off my shoulder or slicing into the side of my neck! I am ready for adventure*! *provided that that adventure requires my wallet, etc.

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Anyway, I clearly have some squishy feelings on the topic of shopping local and shopping at small businesses. So don’t ask me, ask the American Independent Business Alliance – they have CITATIONS. If you have the ability and access to shop at a small business, I strongly encourage it! It can really have a big effect on you and your community.

Do you have a local fiber store that changed your life? How did you learn to sew?

 

Pattern: modified Grainline Archer + Colette Negroni

Pattern cost: N/A

Size: 8 at bust, graded to 12 at hip

Supplies: 2.625 yards of linen/cotton, Forage, $27.96, Gather Here; buttons, $3.87, Gather Here; thread, $1.49, Michael’s

Total time: 6 hours

Total cost: $33.32

 

Pattern: self-drafted fanny pack

Pattern cost: N/A

Size: N/A

Supplies: zipper, $1.30, buckle, $1.00, webbing, $4.47, Gather Here; canvas scraps, thread from stash

Total time: 3.5 hours

Total cost: $6.77