Syd and Ruth

Once again I picked a sewing project by seeing a shirt on my TV and thinking “COME LIVE IN MY HOUSE”. In this case my jumping off point was the orange blouse worn by the character Syd in the season 2 pilot of Legion, a show that – it’s real weird. I like it, though! Syd in particular is a refreshing take on the trope ‘the girl who can’t be touched’. It’s the job of everyone else in the story not to touch her, and she doesn’t apologize for it. What’s not to like? : )

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The show’s costumes are often wonderful and inspiring (Oliver! Tracksuits! Lenny!) but I’m a classic sucker for a camp collar. Ruth isn’t a complete ringer but it was close enough to get the ball rolling.

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First things first: my shirt’s not orange. It’s not easy to find the perfect tangerine, especially as oranges in fabric stores lately seem to be skewing red (just me?). Also, this pattern has cut-on sleeves, not set-in sleeves, but I feel like that change (as well as pockets) is pretty easily added to another draft. You can’t see the bottom of Syd’s shirt, and I couldn’t find a still that showed it clearly, but hers fastens with a big bow over her left hip – totally achievable to add and sew, but I liked the skinny little tie and kept it! Bad copycat!

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The only visible change I made to the pattern was hemming the top with what’s essentially a waistband, a long rectangle folded over itself. The official Seamwork blouse variation calls for a peplum but I scorned their pepluminations. My band features a single button. It’s doing most of the work of keeping the layers aligned.

But the real MVP is the safety pin tucked under the collar lapel at the center front!

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Do you see that deep cavernous shadow where the shirt fronts overlap? You can tell it’s buckling like crazy. It’s at least 1.5” too long, probably more like 2.5”. I’ve avoided true wraps because of this ongoing problem, but reading bra blogs helped me pinpoint the issue. I have an extremely wide-set bust (I can lay four fingers flat on my chest before touching the nearby topography), so any shirt that has added length for travelling across a bumpier landscape is taking an unnecessary detour, let’s say. I don’t need any extra length to cover what’s essentially a flat surface. (Fun fact: it took us two tries to get these photos, because the first time we tried the ambient light was bouncing off the cloud cover and my sternum like a couple of professional-quality reflectors and blowing out all the photos.) Actually, and I shudder to admit this, the front length might need to be shorter than the back length because of my poor posture and habit of hunching my shoulders.

Did you just throw your shoulders back while reading that? I know I did while writing it!

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The back is blousy even though it’s darted, which I like! Short ‘n’ wide is the name of my shirt game. It tends to ride up on the sides though. This is definitely a shirt I futz with while wearing, but it’s possible a set-in sleeve would mitigate its tendency to creep up when I talk with my arms.

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I added a back facing because I guess duh, but also because I experienced full yawning incomprehension when reading the collar directions. I still don’t know what they were asking me to do, but surely a facing is easier?

Fun fact number 2: one of the first garments I sewed was a dress, and I was scared of sewing my first zipper. Surprisingly the zipper went in easily while instead the facing completely kicked my butt. It was years later when I realized I had traced the facing for a different neckline view than the one I used for the dress.

If you ignore the baffling mirepoix that was the collar installation section of the directions, it’s also really straightforward to French seam everything. So I did, yay!

I’m not usually a dress person, but I would consider sewing the Ruth dress as written. It went together nicely and despite my fit woes I like the shape. Even better, I’d sew this again as my tangerine dream, pop on some black gloves and call myself Syd.

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Arriverderci!

 

Pattern: Seamwork Ruth

Pattern cost: $0.50

Size: 8

Supplies: 3 meters of block print cotton, Etsy, $28.47; thread from stash

Total time: 6.25 hours

Total cost: $28.97

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Making Making Backpack

What did I make? A backpack! What did it cost? A fortune! What’s inside of it? A throw blanket!

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Okay, it’s not really an expensive trifle for transporting fuzzy throws. It’s just stuffed so it will stand up for these photos. So far I’ve used this backpack for an overnight trip, a picnic, and a Trader Joe’s snack run (R.I.P. dark chocolate peanut butter cups, gone too soon. I’ll buy more), and it’s been a trooper!

This is the Noodlehead Making Backpack, a PDF pattern I bought last November. This is the only bag I’ve sewn in the last several years, and the first backpack ever. I finally sewed it because of the release of the Raspberry Rucksack pattern, which I purchased pretty much instantaneously! One backpack pattern marinating in the stash is one thing, but two? That’s one too many, pal. For…some reason. Who knows, but it got me started.

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The single best purchase I made for this project was the official hardware and zipper kit. I’m sure there’s a cheaper way to assemble those supplies, but I couldn’t find them locally, and I hate, hate, hate shipping things if I can otherwise avoid it. Buying in one place cut down on 1) shipping costs 2) environmental costs (less packaging, less fuel) and 3) stress. For a backpack first-timer, there was nothing like the peace of mind of needing a certain ring or strap width, puttering over to my manila envelope, and fishing it out, no further questions.

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My ultimately least successful notions purchase was Otter Wax! This isn’t a poor review of the product, just good ol’ fashioned user error. I thought I could wax the leftover linen/cotton from my Flint shorts and get a piece of fabric as thick and heavy and waterproof as storebought waxed canvas. You might see the flaw in my plan – part of the operative phrase there is ‘canvas’. One small bar of wax was more than enough for 1 yard of fabric, but even coated as thoroughly as I could, my fabric was still essentially lightweight. And as far as I can tell, you can’t interface waxed fabric!

I dithered for a bit – I couldn’t find information about deliberately removing Otter Wax from fabric. Plus, the fallacy of sunk costs got me for a minute. But in a reckless moment, I threw the fabric in a hot wash followed by a hot dryer. The result? Fabric I could interface (though the bond was unenthusiastic), with no water resistance but a pretty lovely waxy aroma. That’s not sarcasm! I love the smell of wax.

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I had a packet of Merchant and Mills bag rivets sitting around, and I tried them for the first time on the front pocket here.  I wasn’t madly impressed. They didn’t seem very sturdy on their way in, and one is already scratched, just a few uses into the life of the backpack.

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I’m very happy with the quality of the Noodlehead notions, though!

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This project was all about the notions, too! I bought foam! I’ve never bought foam! It’s cheap and makes a huge difference to the final shape, I’m glad I didn’t skip it, even though I had some spending fatigue at that stage of the game. The only new fabric I bought was 1 yard of cotton for the lining. I love the colors of this design and I’m hopeful it won’t show wear and tear too obviously.

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1 yard was exactly right for all the lining pieces, with a big enough piece remaining to make enough 2” wide bias tape to bind all the raw seams. I initially tried running the seam allowances through my serger, to compress them and for extra security, and broke my very first serger needle. A lotta firsts with this project. In the end, I hand-sewed all the binding, and eventually figured out how to miter the corners (not right away, but inside a backpack is a good place to learn!). One pulpy finger, a bit of experimentation, and many hours later, and my backpack was done!

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I can see why people get a bag bug! I’m eyeing the Range Backpack next…and as soon as I buy that pattern I guess I’ll sew the Raspberry Rucksack. Time to emerge from my cocoon of rarely sewing bags to become the kind of butterfly who owns too many backpacks!

 

Pattern: Noodlehead Making Backpack

Pattern cost: $9.00

Size: NA

Supplies: scraps from Flint shorts; 1 yard of Rifle Paper cotton, Gather Here, $12.00; hardware kit, Noodlehead shop, $21.50; Otter Wax, foam, interfacing, Gather Here, $23.55

Total time: 11.5 hours

Total cost: $66.05

S1166

I won’t defend the 1999 B-movie The Mummy (it’s bad), but I will watch it, and enjoy it, and decide I need a shirt inspired by explorer gear of the early-twenty-first-century, and then I will watch The Mummy Returns and probably also The Scorpion King, if I’m honest.

I love archeological adventures and pastiches – Christie’s Come, Tell Me How You Live, many works by Elizabeth Peters (especially Vicky Bliss), even Romancing the Stone. And what is every explorer issued alongside their tall boots, leather satchel, and hunky travelling companion? An open-necked white linen shirt, of course, preferably filthy!

Mine isn’t filthy (yet?)! These photos were taken after a picnic and I dropped no chicken or plum juice on myself, hooray hooray!

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I used S1166, currently OOP. I found my copy on Etsy; after reading the many helpful posts on Pattern Review, I decided to order the larger size range. And thank goodness, too! The reviews were unanimous: the paper pattern does not reflect the sample on the packet. The pattern sleeves are far more conventional and narrow, and the body of the shirt is too short and difficult to tie. The collar is appropriately gigantic, though. I sewed a muslin with a size 16 body width and collar, 24 sleeve, and 24 body length, and found all of this to be true.

Initially, I traced the 24 line for the armscye, but it was too short overall for the 24 sleeve because of the narrower width of the size 16 body (this is obvious typing it out, but it surprised me at the time). I ended up having to lop a couple inches of width off of the sleeve to match, and so lost the benefit of the larger size.

I wanted big batwing-y sleeves, though, so I put my head down and came up with this solution – if I integrated the bust dart into the armscye, I could have a wider sleeve and theoretically still get the benefit of the dart. It meant changing the angle of the seam, but I thought it cut in too deeply, anyway.

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After making the changes, above, I adjusted the back of the shirt to match at the side seam. Then I walked the sleeve piece along the new armscye to check and voila, the 24 sleeve fit!

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Now That’s What I Call Sleeves!

I don’t know if merging the dart into a seam accomplished anything else, but I don’t need any more space or fabric in the bust. I consulted the Olya Shirt sewalong to sew that corner seam and it worked like a charm. Bodes well for all Paper Theory Patterns, I think!

I made possibly my single favorite adjustment when sewing any shirt, changing the collar to a one-piece collar, which altered the angle of the collar point slightly but didn’t affect its big ol’ bigness.

I didn’t need the 4 asked-for buttons on the shirt. I narrowed the facings – because I prefer to topstitch mine, there’s no flapping or flipping – and centered 3 buttons on the right front facing. The collar wants to fold over at the button, not the edge, so I probably should have sewn them closer to the edge.

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Instead of using the back facing piece, I sewed a yoke. It’s clean, I find it easier, and it’s as simple as a straight line.

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That extra 4th button is back here, keeping the collar sli-ii-ightly supported!

Overall I’m happy with this shirt! A couple inches longer would probably be a couple inches better, and if I was sewing it again I would have ironed a scrap of interfacing on the corners of the armscyes, but I worked this pattern around to pretty much where I wanted it. It’s comfortable, it’s highly unlikely to accumulate summer pit stains, and the cartoonishness of the sleeves and collar is pretty fun. In terms of specific aesthetics, well…

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My goal: Crocodile on the Sandbank. My actual destination: Muppet Treasure Island. Well, now I have something to wear to (in my best Tim Curry voice) a festival of conviviality!

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What’s the opposite of ahoy? Um…bye!

 

Pattern: S1166

Pattern cost: $9.75

Size: 16, with 24 length/sleeve and further adjustments listed above

Supplies: 2 yards of Kaufman Brussels Washer linen in white, $15.66, Fabric.com; buttons, $1.53, Gather Here

Total time: 5.5 hours

Total cost: $27.24

Copying Cat

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Well, I went ahead and ‘borrowed’ this make from Cat in a Wardrobe. I guess the word I’m looking for is ‘plagiarism’? And also, maybe, ‘an escalating pattern of behavior’, because a few weeks ago I posted about my first pair of V8499 pants; those were directly inspired by Eli’s, but these are just plain copied. Except, I’m thicker and in flats!

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I referenced her sweater styling, too. Originally I was disappointed in my finished pants; I had hoped to wear them with fitted shirts tucked in (I was picturing a black knit camisole), but I didn’t like these with any of my tees or tanks. But pop on a squarish, pill-y, navy blue RTW sweater and we’re cooking with gas. I recently won the MN Jarrah in a blog raffle and I’ve got high hopes for view A – make-and-replace!

I had to adjust the pattern to better reflect my inspiration sources (i.e., copy more good). To guarantee safe transport past my juicy hips, I widened the back leg pieces. They join with a perfectly straight seam that’s parallel to the grainline, so I added an additional 3/8” seam allowance to each piece, for a total increase of 1.5”. Since the back facing is grown on that should have required no further adjustments.

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I ended up recutting a separate back facing since somehow while sewing I just lost the height there. I could have used narrower elastic, but I needed it to hold up all this railroad denim, and I had extra fabric anyway. Technically you could omit this back seam and cut the back leg as one piece, but I changed stripe direction there! My stripes alternate; center back = cross grain, side back = straight grain, side front = cross grain, center front = straight grain. So nowhere did I have to sew two parallel stripes together.

I also extended the legs by 4” so I could have big deep cuffs.

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The front leg pieces, as well as the back, are divided by vertical seam parallel to the grainline. The inseams and outseams narrow towards the hem, with a convex extension at the hem for turning. Here’s my technique for extending the leg:

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I lost some of the taper, so this pair of pants is straighter, wider, and less cocoon-like. I changed the angle, by the way, starting just below the knarts on the front side piece.

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My topstitching is a punchy blue. This was Professor Boyfriend’s idea! We were talking about potential thread colors over dinner (as you do), and he suggested neon. Michael’s had neon pink, orange, and yellow (all of which looked pretty rad, but none of which would play nice with my shirts), and also this super-saturated blue. I like the effect, though even after sewing with my double-stitch function, I mainly just catch a glimpse of blue from the corner of my eye.

The seams are all French-seamed and topstitched (I was surprised on re-reading the directions that Vogue doesn’t actually instruct you to finish your seams, but it’s so technically easy on this pattern! There’s 4 perfectly straight lines!). My denim was borderline too thick for this finish – flat-felled probably would have been better, but who feels like it? At the crotch point where all the thicknesses intersect I topstitched to within an inch of the intersection on each side because I wasn’t looking to die that day. So many layers! The gap is very much situated at my undercarriage so no one will ever have to know. I SAID NO ONE.

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Each of these pockets can fit a paperback novel. Or I guess, keys and a phone.

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I have a new pin! It’s a void chicken from Stardew Valley. Cute li’l red-eyed cluck-cluck laying me void eggs, gonna cook some Strange Buns with all that void mayo.

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Not pictured here: spring is creeping in, one yellow-green bud at a time. Don’t let my desaturated butt be the most colorful thing in the landscape, New England!

Pattern: V8499, view C

Pattern cost: $0.00 (second usage)

Size: 14, with added width and length

Supplies: 3 yards of 10 oz. railroad denim, Fabric.com, $31.29; thread, Michael’s, $1.25

Total time: 9.25 hours

Total cost: $32.54

Cheap and Cheerful

I have, one, a new t-shirt and, two, a pattern stashing problem.

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I was preening myself on how quickly I made this tee after the fabric arrived, and on my general immunity to fabric stashing (on the other hand I hoard scraps like my mother was frightened by a quilt while pregnant but NEVER MIND THAT), when I went to store the pattern and discovered my pattern stash was now overflowing two W.B. Mason boxes.

And that’s just paper patterns and assembled PDFs. To say nothing of my downloads folder.

Fabric is finite – you use it, it’s used up (except the scraps, ssshh), it’s transmogrified, it’s a shirt now. A pattern is a pattern forever and you tweak it and hack it and store it in a plastic sleeve and keep it in a box and then your box is full, but you keep seeing new patterns…

So have you seen the Stellan tee yet? By the way – it’s free!!

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If you can resist everything except temptation, give in like me and download this lovely gift from French Navy!

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Seriously, it’s a great little sew. I don’t often make t-shirts but this one kind of grabbed me, plus the price was right! I read somewhere that Sarah describes her style as ‘girl-meets-boy’ and I think this walks that line nicely. It’s a stylish basic with a neat hook – it’s got a relaxed fit that narrows through the hips, perfect for tucking in!

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My new tee is made from 1 yard of a rayon knit, but I could have squeaked it out of ¾ of a yard if I wanted to (a future consideration if I ever buy one of those fance organic cottons that cost like $20/yard). Fabric.com says this fabric is “medium/heavyweight” and I say that it’s “bs/not true”. It’s slinky and light, but a good medium neutral blue, and so comfortable to wear. Plus the edges didn’t roll while cutting or sewing, huzzah!

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I made one bloomer while sewing – see those puckers above my left shoulder, your right? I prefer to install neckbands in the flat, stretching by feel instead of pinning, but I guess my feels were taking a nap because I wasn’t assertive enough at one end of the band and had to make up for it at the other, i.e., stretch the crap out of it. I could have unpicked it but I’m kind of a satisficer, and my standards for sewing knits are…uh, not lofty.

Which makes my hem even stranger. The only place I struggled with the sewing directions was turning the 2 cm wide, gently curved hem without getting puckers and drag lines…so I did a double fold hem. On a knit!

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On a shirt, what’s more, I will never wear untucked! I used a zigzag instead of a twin needle, guided by the wise words of Lucky Lucille. I seriously dislike twin needling. I couldn’t even be bothered to buy one spool of thread in the right color, ha! But the only place the navy topstitching was obtrusive was around the neckband, so I just forwent it there.

I have a secret motive for wanting a shirt in this particular shade of blue. Hopefully I will disclose more once I sew the perfect pair of voluminous khaki shorts…and that’s your hint!

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Ignore my sourpuss face, I really like this tee!

P.S. Good bye paradise, welcome back urban decay! I’m reunited with my ol’ reliable brick wall!

 

Pattern: Stellan tee

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: M

Supplies: 1 yard of rayon knit, Fabric.com, $6.98; thread from stash

Total time: 2 hours

Total cost: $6.98

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

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