Squash Pinnie

More bibbed corduroy? More bibbed corduroy!

I feel like I’ve spent a lot on patterns this year (am I haunted by what I learned about myself by forking over $30 for a single pattern? Maaaybe), but I’ve also reused or outright copied a fair few, including the Pauline Alice Turia dungarees. These are a reuse AND a copy, since I based my modifications heavily on photos of Tilly and the Button’s Cleo + this tutorial.

I wasn’t too direct, by which I mean I didn’t bother with a front or back seam – why cut apart and then try to reattach and topstitch perfectly parallel corduroy wales, y’know? – but the general notion of a shortie dungaree dress with no waist seam agreed with me, and ’tis the season. By the way, I completely failed to notice I already have pants made from this exact same corduroy until I got it home. It cost $12.75/yard not quite three years ago; this time I paid an eye-smarting $17/yard. Eek. 

But I guess I know what I want! This is useful, when I can find it. It’s a little trickier when I can’t. Specifically, I struggled to buy traditional overalls buckles, even for ready money.

I could only find the hardware locally at Gather Here, and only in a Merchant & Mills pack with two buckles and a handful of rivets for fifteen extremely bold-faced dollars. My money’s not that ready! I don’t care if the buckles were forged in the fires of Mount Doom – I’m not paying $15 for $4 – $6 worth of hardware.

Then I remembered the extremely ragged pair of Turias in my mending basket. They’re not getting used any time soon, so I stripped the brassy buckles from those. Then I re-remembered ANOTHER pair of Turias, pristine in my giveaway box, so I swapped the brass buckles for their nickel set. And happily this shell game resulted in my ideal outcome, a nice cool silvery finish against the warm corduroy!

I’m pretty jazzed about all my finishes, in fact. This project was so fast and straightforward, and the sides so relatively short, that I decided to bias bind the seams. I think they’re just plain handsome. I left the top ¼” and the bottom 1.25” of the side seams unbound to reduce bulk when turning those edges.

I could have bound a little closer to the bottom hem, since I elected not to take that full allowance. But I bridged the gap with yet more binding so everything is still sealed and pretty. I did baste the sides together pretty early in the sewing process since I wasn’t sure if I was even in the ballpark of a reasonable hem length; I had already added 3” to the Turia shorts length, but I was prepared to use either a facing or extension as needed. In the end 3” was enough, but since I like sewing turned hems better than faced hems, another 1” of turning allowance wouldn’t go amiss.

Also, this basting check also confirmed what I had hoped – I wouldn’t need a side seam opening. It’s a wiggle in/wiggle out situation.

I’m really happy with the binding/corduroy combination! I couldn’t find a perfect match to the Kaufman corduroy color (Russet), but this Kona cotton in Roasted Pecan was darn close and it rang my tonal bell. I used bias binding to face the curved pocket openings and the side seam curves, following as always this Grainline technique, which wildly requires no ironing.

I pinned estimated pocket placements when I basted the front and back together, but ultimately moved them all a bit anyway. The original Turia bum pockets are small – these are a good 1” wider on each side, plus I only folded over ¼” before topstitching, and they’re still not huge. I widened the front pockets a smidge too, but just a little and on the fly.

My first needle broke when I was topstitching the patch pockets in place, specifically where the bias facing folded back over itself, but after that I switched to a fresh 90/14 needle and had no more issues.

I did a little sneaky Googling to figure out how the TATB Cleo dungaree dress was finished and found this very helpful blog post from Thread Carefully. One of the nice details of the Turia, though, is how the top edges of the front and back bibs are faced for a couple inches. It’s a stable finish that uses fabric efficiently. The Cleo facings looked like a fabric hog, so I stuck with what I knew. I also triple-layered the top front edge by folding the facing extension twice to support the rivets, and skipped interfacing.

By the way, have you ever had the experience of doing something you know to be correct and still being surprised at a successful outcome? That was me, lining the straps with quilting cotton instead of self-fabric. I trimmed a scanty 1/8” from one long edge of each quilting cotton piece and sure enough, the corduroy rolls to the back! It’s like…there’s a good reason I’m supposed to do stuff like that!

Anyway, I’m 1. Generally self-aware and 2. Specifically self-aware that I look like a butternut squash while wearing this, but I like it and it’s cozy and I’m happy and it all came out according to plan. With one exception: I have such a weird amount left of the corduroy – a full foot selvedge-to-selvedge, and a large additional rectangle. No clue how I’m gonna use it!

Luckily I love butternut squash! 

Pattern: Pauline Alice Turia dungarees

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 44 bust/48 hip (estimated); merged bibs and bottoms; cut as skirt, 3″ longer than shorts; cut on fold; used 3/8″ seam allowance on side seams

Supplies: 1.5 yards of Robert Kaufman 14 wale corduroy in Russet; .5 yards of Kona cotton in Roasted Pecan, $29.30, Gather Here; thread, $2.39, Michael’s; hardware from stash

Total time: 6.25 hours

Total cost: $31.69

Plaid Flannel Tova

This dress had a long walk to the short drop. It’s lasted a couple extra years because I kept noticing it in, say, spring, and thinking “Well…of course you’re not wearing it now. Wait and see in the fall”, and then forgetting it existed in the fall, etc. I finally fished it out this fall and thought “Honey, you are never going to wear this”. I was surprised that it was less short and puffy than I remembered. But I’m still not going to wear it.

This is the Wiksten Tova dress, and if I remember correctly I got it as one of the patterns in a Perfect Pattern Bundle, a bygone fundraiser for charity that was similar to the Humble Indie Bundle. A handful of debut and early-career indie designers would each contribute a PDF pattern and you could get like 5 random PDFs in exchange for a donation. Usually there were one or maybe two I wanted, a couple I felt neutral about, and a real clunker I’d download just ’cause. That said, what do I know, because one year I considered the runt of the litter to be an oddly-proportioned pants pattern, and in hindsight those were the fashion-forward True Bias Hudson pants!

Anyway, however this pattern landed in my lap, I can see now I picked the wrong fabric for this project. The sample top in a thin crisp plaid is actually still adorable to me; my version might be plaid, but as much as I love Kaufman flannel, it’s not necessarily the right choice for a dress with gathers and lightly puffed sleeves and, ideally, sharp little bib corners. The combination of heavy flannel and this pattern makes for a doughy yet stiff finished garment.

The Tova dress did mark some meaningful firsts for me though! This bib was the first time I ever sewed inset corners; I certainly didn’t understand what I was doing, so that fact that I ended up with a halfway decent result is a credit to the instructions.

It’s also one of the earliest projects where I was aware of pattern matching as a possible choice, let alone a desirable one, so I did myself a favor and cut the bib on the bias. By the way, I guarantee you this happenstance was just luck!

I remember sewing the plackets in place and being startled and relieved that the plaid was level across the two – I had forgotten to plan for that, but luckily fabric stinginess had caused me to cut the placket pieces butted up against each other side-by-side!

I also remember trying on the dress the first time and feeling like a great big toddler. My mysterious attempt to fix this took the form of shortening and elasticizing the sleeves. Maybe I meant the dress to appear longer by comparison?? I didn’t do a great job at this. At a guess, I sewed the elastic into a loop, stretched it and attached it to the inside of the sleeve with a straight stitch, then folded it over to the wrong side once more to hide the raw fabric edge and topstitched it in place with a zigzag stitch. I guess I hadn’t learned about channels yet.  

I also zigzagged within the seam allowance to finish these seams, and while it’s not the most beautiful technique, it’s actually lasted!

Frankly I bodged it – I probably should have pinked as well as, or instead of, zigzagging – but in many ways that matter, this finish is actually…fine!

So I’m coming out in defense of bodge jobs, especially for early projects. I remember helping a friend sew her first garment a couple years ago. Looking back, I was too enthusiastic about stuff like French seams and understitched bias facings. I should have emphasized flexibility over finish. Unpicking perfect narrow French seams to adjust a garment’s fit is a pain for anyone regardless of experience! It’s not a reasonable expectation for a beginner that a new pattern/garment is going to fit correctly without tweaks, but I think my focus on polish implied that expectation. Anyway, today I would advise a new garment sewer to cut a little extra seam allowance and pink the edges when they’re happy enough. Heck, anyone can! There’s nothing wrong with a classic!

That said, if I can use French seams I probably will because they are beautiful and sturdy and je les aime.

It’s sort of fascinating to see my own development tracked inside this thing! Most of the older garments I’ve kept I’ve kept because I thought they were still acceptable, which meant they were most likely above-average in the era I made them. But this dress, not so much! I feel like it’s helping me remember what it’s like to be a beginner. Obviously I prefer to feel proud of the clothes I’ve made and finish them nicely and get a lot of use out of them, but there’s something valuable about revisiting this new-learner feeling within sewing too, possibly because I’m only ever going to get further away from it.

I’m still not going to wear this dress though. So toodle-oo it is!

Pattern: Wiksten Tova dress

Pattern cost: ?? obscured by the sands of time

Size: all we are is dust in the wind

Supplies: all we are is dust

Total time: in the

Total cost: wiiind

Shorteralls

A bunch of things recently happened simultaneously:

I’ve always had what a certain era of crime fiction describes as “the body of a well-nourished female”; this continues to be true if not truer, and all at once my years-old Morgan jeans were too tight on my thighs.

Two of my three remaining pairs of Ginger jeans gave up the ghost. These were also several years old, so not too surprising. One gave out at the inner thigh (classic) and the OTHER ONE’S ZIPPER EXPLODED.

And finally, my dear mummy mailed me a care package of several pairs of brand-new tights. Um, ka-CHING.

So I’m channeling my 2016-era Phoebe Waller-Bridge and wearing shorts over tights this season, plus relying more on skirts and tights for warmth (my lesson from last year), and the upshot is I rediscovered some stuff in my closet, including this old pal. This is my first-ever pair of Pauline Alice Turia dungarees!

One of my clearest memories of sewing this pair was that the fabric smelled baaad. Why? I still don’t know. But the smell persisted after several vinegar washes, especially when I heated the fabric, like with an iron. Based on the many search results for “how to get smell out of new jeans” it’s a not-uncommon denim thing! It’s totally faded away now, but these dungarees are five years old.

One thing I didn’t remember is that I apparently bought 1.44 yards of denim for this project. It had to be a remnant, right?! There’s no other possibility for getting that length, unless fabric was sold by the 4%-of-a-yard back in 2017. Anyway, apart from the odor and the oddly specific yardage, this is a classic 6.5 ounce black denim (not true black, but it never was!), and I heartily endorse this weight for short-eralls. It’s a little light for full length pants, but feels just right for a little shortie layer that I used to wear bare-legged in the summer (scandal!) and now enjoy over tights in the fall.

I didn’t record my starting pattern size back then (HONEY) but at a guess: 46. I did record the following changes: reduced front leg width 5/8″; reduced back leg 1 5/8″ at waist, blending to 1 1/4″ at leg; changes reflected in paper pattern. That last bit is crucial, and should have informed me going forward not to expect packet measurements from my altered pattern copy. However, since I am a ruthless doofus, I usually write that sort of thing on the pattern paper too (plus a date, in case of future changes), and I failed to do so on this one. At least it explains the problems I’ve had with fitting this pattern more recently!

The hardware came from a short-lived shop on Beacon Hill called Mercer’s Fabric; I bought a three pack of buckles in 2017 and have not had to buy them since. This is the only set still attached to its original garment, though – the other two have been recycled forward a couple times each.

I bought two zippers as directed but only sewed one. It’s nominally an invisible zipper, and I just about can’t think of a worse idea than two invisible zippers. I didn’t get the installation quite right so the zipper tape top doesn’t meet the overalls edge; instead I added a little button and loop to hold the very top closed. I’m waiting with a kind of morbid excitement for my fraying beginner button loop to fail. But it’s still here.

I goofed on the envelope pocket too. When sewn correctly, the flap is attached right-side-to-wrong side of the main pocket piece and then flipped forward to enclose the top edge. Alternatively, you could do what I did, fully misunderstand, and topstitch every edge to the bib including the top one, so what you have is not a patch pocket but a patch.

The seams of these overalls are finished with a combination of flat-felled seams – center front and center back; bias tape – back bib; serging (using what was then my brand! New! Serger!) – front bib and side seams; and the pocket openings – just clipped and turned once. At the time I felt some doubt about the clipped curves, but they’ve maintained just fine!

And honestly even if they hadn’t I can’t see lightly getting rid of these because one time I wore them to work and a sixth-grader suspiciously asked if I was cosplaying as Lenny from Legion. FLIPPIN’ I AM NOW.

It’ll be interesting to see how much longer I fit into these. They would have been loosy-goosier and more casual five years ago (I recall I once wore them to go hiking) but I think this fit is pretty cute too, especially over my new mock-neck shirts. (I’m finding these so useful, not least because they make me feel like an X-Man (an image search reveals no visual correlation between X-Men and mock necks, but I still feel like one)).

These will probably be a remake-and-replace when the time comes. The fabric is easy enough to source, and the utility is high. Annoyingly, due the above-mentioned recent fitting struggles with this pattern, I threw out my printed copy a few weeks ago, so I’ll have to reprint.

But I think these are worth the tape!

Final PSA: these shorties are SHORT!

Pattern: Pauline Alice Turia dungarees

Pattern cost: $9.00

Size: 46 (estimated); reduced front leg width 5/8″; reduced back leg 1 5/8″ at waist, blending to 1 1/4″ at leg

Supplies: 1.44 yards Black Washed Denim 6.5 oz, $17.08, Gather Here; zippers, $2.50, Gather Here; buckles, $3.75, Mercer’s Fabric; thread from stash

Total time: 9.75 hours

Total cost: $32.33

Navy Corduroy Roberts

I wore holes into my PA Turia dungarees (pattern here), so they’ve taken up semi-permanent residence in my mending basket until (I’m guessing) I’m snowed in with no projects, at which point I might dabble in life-saving surgery. In the meantime I find it hard to picture going through life without immediate access to navy corduroy overalls, so I turned around and made some more.

Since I was deeply unwowed by my last PA Turias I pulled out Marilla Walker’s Roberts collection. I’ve made the MW Roberts dungarees once before with a pile of changes, chronicled here, but I wanted to play it straight this time, inspired by Fabric Tragic’s black pair. I think there’s something insouciant about the Roberts silhouette! I want strenuously to be insouciant!

Plus I laid out my pattern pieces to check and the Frugal Dougal (some kind of budget-conscious magical miniature Irishman, I guess?) on my shoulder whispered that I could probably get this pattern out of two yards of 54” wide fabric. And praise Enya, I could!

There was one compromise I had to make if I wanted to use corduroy and fit the pattern into two yards: the nap would have to run in opposite directions on the front and back, but as long as I walked forcefully into every interaction and moonwalked out again, nobody would have to know. Also, the front bib is lined in self-fabric; to save fabric, I had to cut the lining upside-down relative to the front nap, but I labeled the wrong side of the upside-down bib “FACING” and considered the problem solved.

Obviously I forgot I had done this, and also that there was a need to do this, and the next time I saw that “FACING” label was when I was sewing the FACING piece as the outer and the outer piece as a FACING, but by then I’d already hard committed by sewing the side button openings which overlap that seam, so ship = sailed.

I would classify the mistake as “visible but unimportant”. As are my other, more deliberate changes to the pattern. First, I drafted out the tucks on the front leg below the waist, and I even edited my ‘master pattern’ – the printed version that I return to, and that I expect to reflect all necessary changes. The top edge of front leg now has a slight dip in the center instead of being perfectly level across, but I once saw a video (I wish I could find and link it) where a designer showed an edge like that, and how when you force it into a straight line, it pops out the volume into the fabric below. And that volume is perfect for my rounded stomach! I adjusted the front pocket pieces to match.

I also sewed two hip openings instead of one. It turns out the necessary number of hip openings to pull these off and on is zero, but at least they’re useless AND symmetrical. This took a bit of doing – after sewing the front and back facings, I realized one side was misaligned by a healthy ¾”, and did a fair amount of unpicking and easing to get it to match the other. Unlike the facing/outer conundrum above, this was absolutely worth the time.

I’m going to eat a quick bite of crow and mention that I wasn’t very flattering about the Roberts directions for the hip openings when sewing my heavily edited version – but actually they’re totally fine, provided I follow them! The diagrams are clear and the order of operations makes sense.

For my last barely-a-change, I extended the straps so I could feed them through buttonholes on the front bib and knot them. I liked the idea of being able to wear these overalls snug or loose, depending on the shirt. That works fine. But I discovered too late that I really should have sewed the buttonholes horizontally, as the straps have to do a little half-twist to orient to the holes.

I have another category of changes, which is “invisible but important”. This includes adding interfacing to the button extensions (I keep saying buttons, but I used jean rivets) and to the top edge of the front bib. Because the side buttonholes go through two layers of corduroy and their seam allowances, I forewent interfacing there. My favorite neat little addition, though, is an extra step when sewing some seam allowances.

When using heavier fabric or lots of layers, I think turned corners can look a little soft/mushy, but I discovered that if I pre-fold the seam allowances in one direction and stitch them down, I get a much crisper result. This was especially useful on the back bib.

There’s no before image, but I’m very happy with the after!

In the category “future changes”, I’d like to make my next pockets deeper. These feel a little chancy. Otherwise, these dungarees are completely comfortable!

They’ve passed a series of tests – the crawl-around-the-floor-doing-a-project test, the curled-up-with-a-book test, even the I’m-doing-laundry-but-don’t-have-a-hand-for-the-wooly-dryer-balls-so-carry-them-in-my-bib test.

I anticipate getting lots of use from these, and hopefully will be able to use the scraps to repair my old Turias, too! I love corduroy season.

Pattern: Marilla Walker’s Roberts dungarees

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 5; drafted out tuck; applied side placket to both hips; lengthened straps

Supplies: 2 yards of Robert Kaufman 21 wale corduroy in Navy, $35.45, Fancy Tiger Crafts; thread, Michael’s, $3.59

Total time: 6 hours

Total cost: $39.04

LW Dress

There’s a part at the beginning of Mulan where Shan Yu is like “the Emperor invited me when he built his wall” and that’s kind of how I feel about a $10+ PDF pattern constructed mostly of rectangles. Do I want to invade China? Not really. Do I wear many big gathered dresses? Also no. But when I became aware of this $14, two-size pattern, the ZW Gather Dress, I knew I wanted to test my mettle against it…by copying it.

That “ZW” stands for Zero Waste and its promise is that LITERALLY EVERY SCRAP will be used, but I read a handful of reviews of this pattern and while nobody said so, I still think the way some of the would-be scraps were applied was a little stupid. Basically, the two long triangle wedges that are trimmed from the left and right fronts to make the ‘v’ neck are shoved into the side seams as decorative elements, and the little piece cut away so the back neck can curve around the wearer’s body is re-attached as an extremely shrimpy non-functional facing. It’s like the “I’m-not-touching-you” defense. Technically true, but c’mon, guy. I decided I wouldn’t be dogmatic about my version – low-waste was good enough for me.

I told my sister about this project and sent her a link to the original pattern; her response was that it’s not zero waste if you never wear the dress, which is a fair point, but sometimes I get a little loopy around Halloween and I hoped this could double as a witch costume if needed. Or, cough ahem oops darn, a graduation robe. There’s a really good reason none of the samples are black. I actually went looking for something in the rust family but I’ve had poor luck finding my desired fabric lately, so I picked up this light semi-sheer black swiss dot cotton instead. It’s inexpensive and I assumed the gathers wouldn’t be too hard to handle in thin fabric.

One unexpected benefit is that it’s terrifically easy to rip, so my “cutting” process was actually just planning the proportions of the dress, snipping strategically, and tearing the yardage apart.  My rough proportions, which fit neatly onto 3 yards of 54” wide fabric: the bodice fronts are each 1×1; the back is 2×1; the cuffs are 1x long; the sleeves are 1x long and little more than 2x wide; the skirt is the largest available remaining rectangle; and the button band (in multiple pieces) and pockets are squished into the remaining fabric.

A dress like this can be really easy to put together, even without instructions. My seams didn’t even need to match because I gathered to fit. I tried the gathering technique where you zig-zag stitch over a piece of twine or floss, but I’m not a fan. I managed to sew through my twine almost instantly, and afterwards switched to classic gathering stitches. It requires more sewing passes, but I don’t like to sew because I love to avoid sewing, y’know?

The only place where I really yucked up the sewing was the inside corner between the sleeve and the bodice. I attached the sleeves flat and serged that seam, then I used French seams on the underarm/side seam. If anyone has a neat trick for attaching right-angled pieces with a French seam, please let me know. Mine is functional but definitely strained-looking.

I used slash pockets instead of side-seam pockets both because I prefer them, and because it’s easy to sew French seams with lightweight slash pockets.

This necessitated trimming another couple shallow triangles from each pocket opening, but I’d rather generate a few scraps and actually like my pockets. A couple notes on the pocket: I confidently decided that I wanted the swiss dots on the outside of the pocket bag, which leaves the wrong side visible as the back pocket facing, geez and also duh; and if you’re adding a slash pocket to a gathered skirt, wait to attach the top edges of the pocket to the skirt until after gathering.

As is the case with the canon version of this dress, my button band pops up around the back collar because it’s cut on the straight grain.

I also omitted interfacing since all my interfacing is white and this black fabric is a little see-through. I’m not worried about stretching the buttonholes because I don’t need to use them.

Heck, I probably could have skipped sewing them and just attached the buttons through both fronts. These are more Fab Lab buttons; I got the laser settings a little wrong on these and the edges are rough, so I’m glad to use them on a project where I don’t actually need to push them in and out of buttonholes.

Here’s the pile of my “official” scraps, next to the nest of my serging/French seaming by-products + thread trimmings. I could have repressed my scraps inside my deep wide hem, called it zero, and nobody would have known the truth! But nah.

Do I look like a spectral governess accepting a diploma for her master’s degree in bad choices? Maybe. I can’t pretend not to be ridiculously comfortable, though. We’ve had exactly 1 beautiful day so far this fall and I wore this. I don’t know if I’ll make another one, but you know, I actually might! Given the continuing lack of sunshine and plummeting temperatures (that’s what my start bar weather dingle always says – TEMPS PLUMMET!!), that’s probably a decision for spring.

You know what I definitely didn’t waste, though? Fourteen old-fashioned American dollar bills. Heck yeah.

Pattern: based on ZW Gather Dress

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 58” approximate finished bust/waist

Supplies: 3 yards of black swiss dot cotton, $12.00, Sewfisticated; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 5.75 hours

Total cost: $12.00

Sling It Again

I’ve made a second Sandhill Sling, this time for Professor Boyfriend. His position requires weekly train commutes, but he doesn’t need or want to carry a full-size backpack for the iPad and book he brings for the ride (though no snack! Can you imagine? I once brought a banana to a wedding!). We suspected this bag pattern would be a good fit; after wearing my version around the house for a bit, Professor BF gave me the go-sign. 

The elements he wanted to carry over from mine: the ability to switch the strap from side-to-side and wear the bag on either shoulder, the water-resistant fabric, the same pocket view, and the self-fabric strap.

The elements he asked if I could add: a little extra height in the body of the bag, and extra zipper protection to keep his technology safe a little longer if he ever had to make a rainy dash for it.

I said: probably!! I’m not wildly knowledgeable about bag sewing! In the end, though, it came together.

 First, the additional height (or depth, really, if we’re measuring capacity). He asked for another ½”, which I didn’t think would adversely affect the proportions. It was easy to add it to the height of the back panel and back lining – just make ’em taller. On the front of the bag, I chose to place all the extra height above the zipper pocket, and extended the main panel of the front lining. I left the front pocket and elasticized pocket depth alone. I appreciate a deep pocket, but there’s limited benefit to a portable abyss.

The bag has a top and a bottom gusset. I lengthened both by ½” each. Because the gusset rectangles meet and are centered on the vertical edges of the bag, that distributes the ½” addition evenly to the left and right; each of the two sections then contributes ¼” to each side, for a total of the ½” height needed. Logical, right? Well, Ask Me About How My Gussets Were Still Too Long!

My gussets were still too long! I don’t know why. My working theory is that I cut to the outside of my marked lines, which were pretty thick chalk lines, so if I cut outside I could have added like an extra ¼” per piece. It was easy enough to fix, since I used a nylon zipper. I could just sew over the teeth to shorten the gusset as needed. Having learning from my similar mistake last time, I walked the seamlines before joining (what CraftTube calls “dry-fitting”), so I noticed the mismatch before sewing and saved myself some unpicking woe.

This is the same fabric that I used for my bag, Merchant & Mills dry-touch oilskin, this time in Cumin. I did a better job handling it this time and needed to unpick far less frequently and (fingers crossed) not as obviously. It still had the same “floating stitches” issue on the bobbin side, whether I used a topstitching or a Microtex needle (I tried both), but that might just be a fabric characteristic I need to accept! I could never get the edgestitching pretty on the strap connector on my version, so on Professor BF’s I decided to have fun with it! Time for my extremely intermittent motif, the random topstitched triangle.

Professor Boyfriend bought 5/8” yards of Cumin oilskin, and there was about half left after I cut the bag, so I wasn’t nervous to experiment by adding a zipper flap. You can see in the video sewalong how the top exterior gusset is joined to the zip and folded over (starting at the 1:40 mark). It seemed to me that if I added some extra fabric into the fold intake, I could make a zipper flap without needing another pattern piece. I widened one of the top gusset pieces by 1.5” inches and topstitched the extra flap in place. That ended up being basically perfect! The folded flap covered the zipper teeth, and the finished width of the top gusset was correct.

Professor Boyfriend reports that the flap doesn’t automatically lie smoothly after using the zip, but I’m still pleased that it worked.

One last extremely minor change was adding a very skinny pocket for his iPad pen. Its finished depth is 5.5” so he can grab the top of the pen without forceps, but the pen pocket is inside the elasticated pocket, so if it ever falls out it’ll land there instead of the body of the bag (or the wide wide world).

Professor Boyfriend picked this Nara Homespun Indigo cotton for the lining, which looks great with the hardware and outer he chose, but was a little loosely woven and prone to fray. Ultimately I decided to interface every lining piece and then quilt them all to scraps of batting. I used widely-spaced vertical lines. The extra cushioning adds some structure but is soft enough not to diminish the bag’s capacity.

The hardware is all from Wawak; the metal is Gunmetal, and the zips are Charcoal. Great quality as always, and the metal bits all came in exactly double quantities of what I needed, so between this and the leftover from my bag I have enough kit to make two more!

So far this Sling has been used just as intended – it’s been commuting with Professor Boyfriend for about 3 months, and shows a little wear and tear in one spot, but generally looks pretty fresh.

Overall a successful project, except for the discovery that he’s better at picking fabric combos than me!

Pattern: Sandhill Sling, view A

Pattern cost: NA

Size: NA; added 1.5″ to width of one top gusset piece; added pen pocket (5.5″ deep); increased bag height .5″

Supplies: 5/8 yard of M&M Dry Oilskin in Cumin, 3/4 yard Sevenberry: Nara Homespun Indigo cotton, 1/2 yard cotton interfacing (price unknown); hardware (Gunmetal, Charcoal), Wawak, $12.73

Total time: 6 hours

Total cost: $12.73

Tee for Two

I’ve been a real Johnny Two-Shirts lately. Anyway, here’s another two shirts! I spotted a cute mock-neck knit tee with elbow sleeves in a StitchFix ad and got two yards of cotton jersey from Girl Charlee to try making my own (chocolate for experimenting, caramel for final). I didn’t own an exact pattern but I thought Deer & Doe’s free Plantain tee would make a good base. And since it’s a free pattern I can pop a complete image of my altered pattern below!

I extended the shoulder slope towards the neck without changing the angle at all, raised the neckline to what I hoped would be a high crew, and slimmed the body. I widened and shortened the neckband from the original pattern piece, but more wide than short; now it’s 1:1 to the neck opening. I also shortened the sleeve, cutting it off around the elbow then adding hem allowance. This was easier than I hoped because the Plantain pattern has a placement marking for an elbow patch! These adjustments were all done to a size 42.

Here’s where things get a little hinky: when printing this version of the pattern, I had to load more paper halfway through the print job, and I did it a little hastily so some of the pages printed askew or printed across two sheets when the lines should have fit on one. And when I assembled it, it got weirder. I overlapped the paper when taping together the body pieces, but not the sleeve (the lines just flowed better that way). This potentially added as much as ¾” of an inch to the sleeve width. In my final paper version the sleeve head is the same length as the armscye – no stretching – which feels definitely strange! That said, I went ahead and cut and sewed the first one, bodge job and all. 

Sewing it was a totally standard knit shirt experience – shoulder seams; sleeves in flat; join the ends of the neckband; quarter, pin, and sew; side seams; hems; it’s a shirt. And then I liked it fine the way it was so I went ahead and made the other one too, exactly the same way!

 I used a zig-zag to topstitch as per usual, and put the neckband join in the center back, where it does the job of a tag in distinguishing recto from verso.

I’d heard good buzz about the Plantain, which has been out and free for years. Can Confirm. Obviously a nice and effective pattern that can stand up to a fair amount of arts and crafts! I quite like these finished shirts, too. I don’t know if I need two of them, but I expected one of them to be a flop, not these first-try-lucky twins.

They’ll work well for fall, but if you’re trying to squeeze out a little more summer, read on…

While test-wearing my first shirt, Professor Boyfriend and I happened to watch Jaws. About two-thirds of the way through I realized I was dressed like Police Chief Martin Brody! And I was okay with it! Actually, the whole trio of shark hunters rocked some serious 1975 New England summer style.

Plus the Amity Island look is free, at least from the waist up! So when a shark bites you in half, the top half will be affordably stylish. I suggest pairing these free patterns with your favorite straight-leg jeans, dad glasses, and a big boat.

One leg exception: for a classic “unsupervised at the beach” look, you can sport a pair of these retro Sports Shorts. These call for woven fabric, but I recommend French terry and listening to your mother.

Next to the skin, customize a knit tee (like mine above, the Plantain) with a self-drafted mock-neck or this handy Henley tutorial. Choose dark neutrals for the mock-neck and pale pink for the Henley. Or go classic in cream with the Monroe turtleneck, and make sure to roll the neck down!

Then layer on an open denim buttondown. Size up in the Noa shirt and add some custom chest pockets with flaps. You can also sew it in ecru linen and roll the sleeves above your elbows. Or pop on a soft raglan sweatshirt – I like this super-slouchy version, but with a little effort you can also sport a fitted look. Choose cool, faded colors that say “namby-pamby college boy”!

For a topper, the obvious choice is a Paola workwear jacket. Green is recommended, but a pocket flask is optional.

For a finishing touch fit for the open ocean, you’ll want a hat. How about a bucket hat? An oversized camp cap also gets the job done. And if you knit, you can knit a ribbed beanie! Also, while so far I’ve focused exclusively on our boys on the Orca, I could write a whole post about Ellen Brody’s closet. I at least had to mention her iconic hair kerchief; to make your own, cut a square around 23” wide and hem with mitered corners. You might never be an islander, but you’ll look the part.

Try for natural fibers, cool-toned colors, and straight fits. A little faded pink is allowed, but take a page from the production designer’s handbook and avoid bright red! We want that blood to pop!

Honestly, Quint’s fit in particular is pretty impeccable. It might get me to sew a Paola jacket. What’s your favorite piece of Amity Island fashion, and why is it the mayor’s anchor blazer?

Thanks for taking a ferry ride to this themed pattern round-up with me! Farewell and adieu to you, fair Spanish ladies. Farewell and adieu, you ladies of Spain!

Pattern: Plantain tee

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: 42; raised neckline; shortened sleeve; widened and shortened neckband; slimmed body

Supplies: 1 yard of Chocolate Solid Cotton Spandex Knit Fabric, $11.68, Girl Charlee; thread from stash/1 yard of Caramel Solid Cotton Spandex Knit Fabric, $11.68, Girl Charlee; thread from stash

Total time: 2.5 hours/2 hours

Total cost: $11.68/$11.68

Tee Time

As I frequently do when I want to add a kinda boring basic to my wardrobe, I ordered a bunch of fabric to make a bunch of kinda boring basics instead. I’ve been seeing lots of images of solid tees knotted casually over or tucked into midi-length skirts, and I like the combo, so it was time for tees. I ordered 4 yards of cotton/spandex from Girl Charlee, one each of 4 different colors. The first two – Light Sage and Dark Olive – are now two Tabor t-shirts.

First, Light Sage. This color is hard to photograph – it looks greyer both in my pictures (it was a grey day) and on the website, but it’s mintier in person. I would maybe call it Toothpaste. Why don’t I get to name colors?! Anyway, I sewed a new-to-me Tabor view, view 2 with the drop shoulders finished with cuffs, but with the skinny neckband from view 3. The result is an extremely conventional and unexciting t-shirt that I actually like a lot.

I took longer than necessary fiddling over the neckband, determined to finally sew a v-neck without puckers. Contrary to the directions, I like to start with my needle down in the dead center of the v and then sew a few inches towards the shoulder, before returning to that same starting position and sewing the other side of the v the same way. Then I sew as directed, starting a few inches up from the center, sewing to the middle point, pivoting with the needle down and finally sewing towards the other shoulder. This should guarantee that there isn’t a gap between my stitches at center front. In this particular case, however, it guaranteed that I had to unpick three lines of stitching when I flipped everything right-sides-out and discovered I had clipped too far when releasing the center notch and made a hole.

I unpicked and lowered the point to hide the hole. So my v-neck is an extra ¼” or so deeper than drafted, and I think maybe a little stretched out too, because the mitered end won’t sit flat against my body. But no puckers!

I originally cut the cuffs twice as long so I could fold them. Then I realized they were already designed to be folded once. I basted on one of my extra-long cuffs as an experiment, but quadruple-folding the fabric or even triple-folding a wider cuff resulted in basically a t-shirt Water Wing. And Floaties are for babies!! Actually no, it was just uncomfortable. So these cuffs are exactly as drafted.

My one issue with this tee is the way it tips back. The cuffs are snug enough that the shoulder seam stays in place over my upper arm, but from the shoulder point up it’s like the shirt is trying to hide behind me.

Tucking it in keeps everything situated. Otherwise I have to occasionally tug the v to the appropriate depth.

My second version is a bit more loosey-goosey. This one is Dark Olive

It will perhaps not surprise you to hear I scooped the neck. Less obvious – and actually I forgot until I saw it in my notes – I also extended the circumference of the cuffs to match the circumference of the drop shoulders (in this size, 10, that’s 13.5″ unsewn). It’s pretty low-impact and I don’t have a clear opinion as to whether I prefer the snugger or looser cuff. I’m generally pro-cuff (or any banded finish), though! That’s two fewer hems!

Actually, the only hem on these projects is the bottom hem. I used a straight stitch to topstitch the necklines, and a zig-zag on the bottom hems.

I wouldn’t normally use a straight stitch on a knit but the pattern had plenty of noggin room even before the chop job this one got. I initially put the bottom of the scoop at the point of the v, widened the neckline 2 cm on each side, and freehanded the curve to join them. I sewed everything up to the neckband before trying the shirt on.

I decided the depth of the scoop was fine but that it needed to be wider. I probably should have snuck up on whatever curve I eventually chose, but instead I lopped off another 3 cm each, for a total of 5 cm removed per side. That’s definitely riding the edge of too much! It also meant lowering the back neckline slightly to accommodate a smooth curve, but a trivial amount – ¼” or so.

Anyway, no takebacks! I had already cut an extra-long neckband the same width as the band from the v-neck view, so I trimmed its length to between 80 – 90% percent of the neck opening. Then I quartered the band and the neck, pinned, and sewed. I had measured by eye, but I probably should have measured by math. It’s a little floppy. I’ll tell you what, though: it slides every which way but back. Progress?

Once again, floppy neck and all, it’s a basic, useful tee! These aren’t the kind of projects I lay awake dreaming about, but I sure do wear them. And I guess that’s the point.

See you next time!

Pattern: Sew House Seven Tabor v-neck

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 10/10; widened neck 5 cm and scooped front; lengthened armbands to 13.5″

Supplies: 1 yard of Light Sage Green Solid Cotton Spandex Knit Fabric, $11.68, Girl Charlee; thread from stash/1 yard of Dark Olive Green Solid Cotton Spandex Knit Fabric, $11.68, Girl Charlee; thread, Michael’s, $2.39

Total time: 3 hours/2 hours

Total cost: $11.68/$14.07

Pair of Pant

As I am nothing if not susceptible to trouser trends, these are the Adams Pant from Daughter Judy. By the way, that’s one of the silliest uses of the fashion singular I know of (“Put your pant on, you’re late for school!”). They’re described as a “painter’s pant” (just the one) but the part that sold me was “generous fit through the thigh”. I don’t know if I’ve increased my landholdings again or if I’ve just become more aware of constricting thighs, but my Morgan jeans are not as comfortable as they used to be.

These were a low-stakes sew because I had the main fabric left over from an unblogged pair of MN Dawn shorts I made earlier in the summer. I was bound & determined to own brown shorts and when I found this unlabelled fabric in a nice cocoa shade I ignored its two issues: first, that I had to buy the complete remaining yardage (2 7/8th yards), and second, its suspiciously low price. It ran me $8.61. I took it home and did a burn test, but in my heart I kinda already knew it was poly-cotton. Anyway, I had a hearty chunk leftover, a little more than half, so there was never going to be a cheaper time to try this new-to-me pattern.

There’s three possible Adam pant prices to choose from, all of which donate 5% to a nonprofit. I chose the cheapest. As an aside, it would be fascinating to learn what proportion of buyers choose which price. Does the Goldilocks Effect still apply when there’s no difference between the three products?

Since there’s two back leg views, this pattern took a lot of printing! Otherwise there’s nothing too revolutionary in the pattern pieces, except that the back leg piece, instead of a single shallow concave curve from crotch point to hem, is an “s” curve. It’s mostly concave except for the few inches leading to the crotch point, which are ever-so-slightly convex. In theory I thought this is maybe where the thigh room would come from; in practice, it leads to a beautifully flat crotch once the inseams are joined. No stabby crotch at all. You could balance an egg on it. Props, Judy!

I was a little less impressed by the back pockets. I loved the idea of darted volume, but when it came time to turn the edges under, they were bulky, man! Undeniably bulky! I couldn’t get the stitching to sit pretty and I was hoping for a tip and/or trick to wrangle that bulk, but none was forthcoming. Ultimately I unpicked the pockets, darts topstitching, and darts, and just sewed them flat. I didn’t alter the shape, which widens towards the bottom, in hopes of keeping the visual weight similar, but on my butt it kind of operates like the trick-photography forced perspective shots from FotR and the edges appear parallel.

I wasn’t totally happy with the front pockets either. Function A+ mind you, they’re nice and deep and anchored at center front, which I like, but the finish isn’t elegant or sturdy. The bottom edge of the pocket bag is in places a single layer of fabric, which you’re instructed to finish with serging. I made the poor choice of a lightweight Ruby Star cotton so it looks and feels very flimsy. Also, you can theoretically see the pocketing while the pants are being worn, as the pockets pop slightly open by design. Next time I would choose a more robust cotton in a matching shade.

The zipper instructions were new-to-me but I liked them fine! They’re not the easiest instructions I’ve ever used – that honor as always to the CC Gingers zip fly – but everything lined up as it was supposed to, and I only had to unpick once, for purely aesthetic reasons. I used a nylon zipper because I had it around. Since these are lower-stress than tightly fitted pants I think it will be fine long-term.

I used the waistband width and length from the Daughter Judy pattern, but the curve from a many-times-sewn pattern, sadly no longer for sale, the Fern shorts. Mine looks wide so I suspect my progressive tracing and cutting added another ¼” or so to the final waistband width. It crumples like a sonofa despite interfacing, which means next time: more interfacing!

Apart from the curvier waistband, I cut a straight size 14. I increased the back dart intake ½” total each, and removed ¼” from the height of the side seams at my waist at final fitting (the side seam “rise”?). These are definitely not wrinkle-free (especially after the half-a-dozen wears this pair has gotten before these pictures were taken!) but they’re comfortable to death.

I’m a little interested in the current fitting trend monster, top-down center-out, and this would be a good pattern to try it on. I’ve also got my doubts – it requires a level of faith in a designer’s specific crotch curve which IMO isn’t always merited – but this pattern has a low enough crotch (I daresay a general enough crotch) that why not go for it!

I could definitely see myself making another pair of these in a nicer fabric. I am LOVING the thigh room (“Let my people gooo!”), and I’m a little intrigued by the elastic-back view. These are already completely non-restrictive, so the elastic must be really easy to wear. Maybe an elastic-back version with a longer hem for winter warmth + stew room? In the meantime, the poly content has not prevented me from wearing this pair, so it’s official: I like ’em!

And I like you!

Pattern: Daughter Judy Adams pant

Pattern cost: $14.00

Size: 14; used waistband from Fern shorts (size D); sewed pockets without darts; removed 1/4″ from side seam “rise”; increased dart intake 1/2″ each

Supplies: leftover cotton/poly twill; 1/2 yard of Ruby Star Society Moons in Natural Unbleached Metallic quilting cotton, $6.50, Gather Here; button, $0.90, Gather Here; thread from stash

Total time: 8.5 hours

Total cost: $21.40

Ginghaaam, Girl

I’m not enough of a completist/lover of free stuff (though I do love free stuff) to sew every Peppermint Magazine pattern, but this wrap blouse is the fifth one I’ve tried.

I often buy only one or maybe two patterns from a given small designer, so that’s legacy-indie numbers for me (we’re talking yer Grainlines, yer True Biases), and in fact the only designer I’ve sewn more from is – Megan Nielsen?!

That count is a bit disingenuous because Peppermint collaborates with different designers – this blouse is by In The Folds – but I was still surprised at the numbers. (Also, by the way, really surprised that MN is my top indie. I associate her with a lighthearted warm-weather feminine aesthetic, but I guess I’m not the chilly functionista I thought I was.) So this was really my introduction to In The Folds patterns, and my first impression was that they overdid the notches. So I omitted some, went ahead and cut cut cut, etc., and then sat down to sew this blouse.

Only to discover that the instructions called for French seams but didn’t actually give the seam allowance. You can see where this is going, right? I resentfully downloaded an In The Folds ebook about seam allowances, but they didn’t mention specific measurements either. Thanks to some angry Googling, I discovered Diary of the Chainstitcher’s review of this pattern, and she cited the same issue. Solidarity! Rise up, my people! Burn baby burn! And then she pointed out that, actually, the seam allowances are marked by the notches.

Ooooh.

Yah got me. I’m responsible. 24601!! I still think the instructions could have said to use a total seam allowance of ½” though. It wouldn’t take much space. Just a wee little corner by the fireplace, and a crumb to keep it! Anyway, the benefit of this searching is that I also (a la Fiona) decided to scoop my neckline 1″ at center front, blending the scoop to nothing at the tie, and to widen the neckline 1/4″ at the shoulder. I had already decided to shorten the sleeves, so they have a finished underarm length of 2.5”, with a 1” deep double-fold hem.

Otherwise I sewed a straightforward size E.

In the end, I also recut the waist ties, replacing the straight ties with long teardrops folded in half to give the bow a little more oomph. These aren’t perfect, but the first set was too skinny! Mangia, mangia! Since I was adding them after the fact I folded under the seam allowances of each tie’s short end into a little pocket and tucked the shirt inside, topstitching to capture all the layers. Not the height of elegance, but an improvement.

I had purchased the exact fabric requirement for an E (1 ¾ yards) but even after recutting the ties I had 1/3 yard leftover, because, it will probably not surprise you to learn because this fabric has been everywhere and also you can see it with your whole own eyes, my gingham is ✧double-sided✧. I knew I wanted to make this pattern in gingham because I misremembered this outfit by Caro Made This (attempted imitation is also pretty sincere!), and I wanted that gingham to be fairly large, fairly soft, and in the yellow-brown family. So I went to Gather Here to check out their Atelier Brunette gingham double gauze BUT I WAS JUST GOING TO LOOK AT IT (also I linked to Rust just there, my runner-up choice, because my actual Ochre is sold out).

At one point in the store I was one of three women walking around with one of three bolts of this fabric in our three preferred colors and we kept seeing each other and asking with our eyes if we were going for it (read: $$$). And then I said “I don’t know if I want this enough!” with my mouth this time and one of the other women said “I DO” with hers and I was swept away on the gingham tide. And generally I think it was the right choice. This was pleasant to sew, comfortable to wear, and I got to play with the two scales of check to my heart’s content. I hemmed everything inside-out to change scale as much as possible.

I also wanted to sew the back facing on the outside of the top, but I couldn’t figure out how to do so and keep the clean finish. Too bad, because it would have balanced the small-check sleeve nicely.

I struggled folding under the seam allowances of the tie-opening side and stitching them down in a way that looked neat outside, so I called it sushi and let them be raw.

I would feel worse about how this will impact the top’s longevity if the other side seam – which experiences no unusual stress, by the way, and which is French-seamed – hadn’t instantly started doing this.

Yikes, right? That’s not surviving too many wash-and-wears. I’m not super upset, though. I’ve had a few good wears out of this shirt already, and I’ve discovered that as cool as it is, temperature-wise, and as adaptable as the color is in my wardrobe, the ties are a little too fussy for me.

It sits a little better if I tie it deliberately a little too loose, but arranging the ties nicely is still a pain, and it all sort of bunches up my hips no matter what. I don’t hate it – it definitely did its job on hot days – so I think this is going to be a “use it up, wear it out” top, and frankly I don’t think it’s going to take that long. I do like the deep V, though, so if nothing else it’s a reminder to get some sun on my upper slopes!

See you soon!

Pattern: Peppermint Magazine wrap blouse

Pattern cost: NA

Size: E, scooped neckline 1″ at center front, blended scoop to nothing at the tie, widened neckline 1/4″ at shoulder; shortened sleeve (unhemmed, 5.5″); recut new wider folded ties

Supplies: 1 3/4 yards of Atelier Brunette gingham off-white ochre double gauze, $42.00, Gather Here; thread from stash

Total time: 5 hours

Total cost: $42.00