Witch Hazel Olya

Might as well rip off the band-aid: $28.49. This pattern cost $28.49. It was only last week that I complained about a $16 pattern, so if you’re thinking “well well well” and “the worm has turned” and “la-di-DA”…you’re not alone. I’m a 1%er! I’m gentrifying my own pattern collection! I get targeted ads for yachts now! Also, I used a gift card!   

This pattern and party-I-am-late-for is the Paper Theory Olya shirt. For a while I’ve been been casually searching stuff like “Olya sewalike cheap Reddit”, but it’s been a no-go, so finally I took a deep breath and bought the OG. At the same time, I bought two lengths of fabric from Stylemaker Fabrics with my annual birthday coupon, both intended for this pattern (I was banking on liking it). Today’s version is made from this yarn-dyed cotton.

First, I loved this fabric. That shininess in the sample photo washes right out, and it’s beautifully soft with little wrinkling. Also, the color isn’t solid, but super-thin green and orange stripes. The result reads as a slightly sickly yellow which I can actually wear. I adore yellow and I think it’s finally having its day – not just that one foot-in-the-door mustard yellow, but a whole buffet of yellows seems to be arriving. I love most yellows, to be honest, but butter yellows are often nude against my skin tone and rich mango yellows tend me wear me, so I’m crossing my fingers for more acid and old-honey hues!

Second, I used every last bit of it! I’d read in various places that the Olya fabric requirements are extremely accurate – my size, a 14, calls for 2 1/4 yards of 45” wide fabric, and I bumped that up to 2 1/3” because why not. And I’m glad that I did, because even with my extra 3” I couldn’t fit the pattern pieces according to the lay plan (though it was AGONIZINGLY close) and I had to rearrange the cutting on the fly. So while I can’t promise I was the most efficient cutter, the remaining scraps *do* fit in the palm of my hand, which is fun. To be fair I cut my collar and collar stand ‘interfacing’ from those scraps first. And I cut my undercollar on the bias with a center seam, and reshaped my collar stand ends – pretty routine for me.

I used fusible tricot on the button bands and just the short edges of the cuffs. I also interfaced 1” wide sections of the sleeve plackets, avoiding the seam allowances. I’ve never sewn a tower placket in two pieces like this before but it’s so tidy, I love it.

And this is the sewing on the side I couldn’t see! I mean!!

Unfortunately you won’t see either side much because a shirt this light is going to be worn in rolled-sleeve weather, and also my sleeves are an 1” or so too long.

You can of course see my serger thread with the sleeves up. Even if I can figure out how to French that front yoke/sleeve seam in the future, I had to fundamentally understand it first, which meant sewing it straight the first time.

I think a lot of attention is paid to the sleeve/yoke inverse corner. In terms of difficulty, though, if you’ve sewn a banded V-neck, you’re golden. I interfaced the snipped corner and added a line of staystitching just barely inside the seam allowance, which I don’t think was recommended, but it’s easy to do and in general that step is very well-supported.

Actually where I think the directions let me down was at the far end of the seam – the armpit end. It’s not clearly marked that the sleeve piece needs to overhang the body by one seam allowance to match the front yoke seam later, and because it’s a bias curve you can make it meet or overhang pretty easily. Plus, that area isn’t photographed/illustrated in the photo sewalong or the paper directions. Once I read ahead a bit I understood how I was going wrong, but if you’re like me and you often take new processes one step by one step it might throw you off.

I wasn’t wildly jazzed about the pocket directions either. I don’t need a decorative pocket to have relatively bulky French seams when an actual construction seam is just getting the ol’ sergeroo. Instead, I ignored the booklet and attached the pocket front to the front body, then the pocket back to the pocket front, then the whole body/pocket unit to the yoke. That way I didn’t have to line up the little pocket rectangles and the major seams simultaneously. Something went a bit awry with the width of the opening but the pockets are gewgaws anyway, so I’m not sweating it!

I now call them “PITA pockets” because I am very, very funny.

Originally I hoped to find small bronze metal buttons, but I couldn’t. The wooden ones at least capture the warmth I wanted, if not the shine. They’re quite lightweight; I think metal (or just heavier) buttons would help prevent the shirt from slipping backwards, since I find myself tugging it forward every so often. But the big question: do I like it?

Yeah! I’m not like OMG SQUEE but it’s serviceable and I really like the fabric. The pattern is a fun sew too. Most other indie patterns have doppelgangers in other indie lines, or in the Big 4, but this one doesn’t seem to, so that offers unique value. My biggest concern is that I broke the seal – now that I’ve spent silly money on one pattern, what prevents me from doing that again? Specifically on yet another jeans pattern?

I’ll just be over here, resisting. Have a beautiful day!

 Pattern: Paper Theory Olya shirt

Pattern cost: $28.49

Size: 14

Supplies: 2 1/3 yards of Grainline Yarn Dyed Woven Shirting Citrus, Stylemaker Fabrics, $27.39; thread, Michael’s; buttons, Gather Here, $8.39

Total time: 8.5 hours

Total cost: $64.27

Short Marlo

First, go check out Heather’s Overall This 2020 Nonsense dungarees – aren’t they terrific?! Unfortunately she can’t totally endorse the pattern (unfortunately for me, mainly, because her finished pair is beautiful and beautifully made, and now I want some too). Anyway, go feast your eyes, and enjoy her detailed review!

Okay now look at me again. ; ) Like a sweater-y Lady Macbeth, I didn’t let “I dare not” wait upon “I would” and here’s my second Marlo already.

This True Bias Marlo is the cropped view, size 10, in Pacific French terry from iseefabric. It’s the second half of my fabric splurge and I had some trouble choosing which shade of blue I wanted. Eventually I just sort of squeezed my eyes shut and picked one, and when it arrived the color didn’t match the one shown on my monitor, but I’m happier this way. It’s the perfect dark teal I always hope to find. It’s not madly warm (the waffle knit is cozier); I often assume French terry is warmer than it is, I need to break that habit. It’s more like wearing a soft and sexy sexy towel.

Last time I talked mostly about the finished sweater and less about the Marlo pattern itself, so I wanted to mention that it’s simple but great. When a pattern is uncomplicated I really expect everything to line up perfectly and this one does that, with ample notches. I was initially surprised by the soft, gradual shape of the seam where the bottom of the armscye meets the side, but for a big sweater with big sleeves it doesn’t feel like too much fabric ends up in my armpits, thanks I think to that transition. Also it’s easy to serge because it doesn’t create a sharp inside corner.

I’d like to find a better way of marking notches; I usually cut them outwards, but because so many of these pattern pieces are straight-edged, you can butt them right up against each other to save fabric. But, then I can’t cut my notches pointing out. I used a white charcoal pencil to trace pattern pieces (leftover either from the days when I was forced to draw with charcoal, or from the days when I forced my students to draw with charcoal) and it tends to rub off. I might need a better tool.     

Sewing this was pretty straightforward, especially with the directions fresh in my mind, but I tried a tweak. Instead of adding the cuff in the round, as directed, I tried to keep it flat for as long as possible, like so…

I’m not sure that it made that much difference to the overall difficulty. I still ended up hand-sewing the inner edge of the cuff. It might have felt easier if I had actually sewn the cuff to the sleeve on the first try! Instead I sewed (and serged the seam, luckily with the knife off) one cuff to the bottom edge of the left front. I had to really stretch the bejeezus out of the cuff to get them to match, too! Unpicking loop-back French terry is not my all-time favorite.

I managed to snag the back of the fabric this time too, same as my last Marlo. Only this time I made a hole, but it was with the edge of my fingernail so what am I sposed to do, not have fingernails? It’s on the inside of the cuff and I ironed a little piece of interfacing to the back. I could have re-cut the piece but I didn’t notice the hole until I had attached it and I couldn’t face unpicking this one cuff anymore.

Once again I used the low-stretch band, and it’s a little sloppy at the back neck, though not critically. Since I’m never going to wear the cropped Marlo unbuttoned, I serged and topstitched the inner edge, and it went fine. French terry seems to like a bit of topstitching, IMO. I topstitched the shoulder seams too – this fabric is a bit springy, and the grosgrain ribbon I used in those seams doesn’t match, and I didn’t want it to peek out (I’d be the only one who’d see it, but I’m “I”! I care!).

These aren’t the buttons I thought I wanted – I was hoping to find something largish in light wood – but I couldn’t find that locally, and I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy these expensive washable ceramic buttons for uhhh a while. I didn’t sew buttonholes, just attached the buttons through both layers. This was lucky, because I guessed at placement again; initially I had sewn a fourth, higher button, but when I tried on the top I was getting intense drag lines, so I removed it. My breastbone resembles an uninhabited steppe from my collarbone to my bra band, and lowering a neckline a couple inches makes no significant difference to the look/my comfort otherwise, so it was all to the good.

I might switch them someday, because I think the weight of the buttons throws off the balance of the sweater. Or equally I might not; I like the color and the card of five buttons cost eight American dollars!!! That’s sandwich money!

After having sewn both views, I can confidently say this pattern is a keeper. And if you buy your fabric by the fractional yard, the cropped view in size 10 only takes 1.5 yards, not 2 as listed. I could only buy whole yards so now I have .5 yards of luxurious organic French terry kicking around. I’m thinking of making my hot water bottle a coordinating sweater (its name is Hot Walter, and it deserves the best). Wishing you the best, too!

croppe–

Pattern: True Bias Marlo sweater, cropped

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 10

Supplies: 2 yards of organic French terry knit in Pacific, iseefabric, $31.90; thread from stash; buttons, Gather Here, $8.00

Total time: 3.75 hours

Total cost: $39.90

The Cape

I know Edna Mode said no capes…

But counterargument…

Maybe capes?

I know the timing of this post is suspect but this really wasn’t intended as a Halloween garment. I somehow convinced myself that I would casually pop on a cape. As one does. The pattern is question is Vogue 9288 and the utility is…doubtful.

Here’s a list of V9288 ‘can’ts’:

Can’t carry a bag.

Can’t wear a backpack.

Can’t hold hands with a companion.

Can’t move my arms above the elbow.

On the ‘can’ side, there’s items like swish, twirl, menace, flap like a crow, etc. So I guess you do the math?

This is view B (because view C would just be impractical, amirite?) and truthfully its only real purpose is that it’s fun to wear. I’m really torn – this satisfies, at best, half of my ‘quality and sense’ goal, but if you had told the me in high school who was obsessed with LotR that I learned to sew and DIDN’T sew myself a cape I would have kicked your butt from the Iron Hills to Far Harad.

It’s not even particularly warm, though! And because it’s wool (the price said ‘probably not’, the sheepy aroma says ‘but it is’) it gets stinkier in the rain. So I can wear this on dry, not-too-cool days when I’m overcome with sartorial daring. So yeah, that’s been twice in the past 6 weeks. Not my best ROI.  

But rather than litigate its very existence – it’s here now! – let’s talk about construction. As I said, I used wool, a subtly gridded wool suiting that moves really nicely and smells a bit. Unlike other sewists who have blogged this cape, I elected not to line it, due to an admixture of cheapskatery and urgency (if I waited to find the perfect lining, I would possibly lose my momentum to make a cape at all). I used my regular lightweight cotton interfacing for the facings and collar, but it can’t quite stand up to the weight of the large buttons.

They’re from a Ziploc of leather buttons I bought at a flea market many years ago. It cost $5 and it turned out to be one of my greatest sewing investments. I only need to undo one collar button to get in and out of this cape. It goes over my head though, which you might find disarranging if there’s more to your hairstyling than mine (shampoo and a declaration of “Let the wind take it”). All of the buttonholes are functional. If I undo the bottom buttons, my range of motion VASTLY increases; if I was redoing this from the beginning, I’d shorten the placket to the top four buttons only.

I considered swapping the patch pockets for welts, but my fabric was springy/bouncy and it didn’t press neatly or stay pressed well. I suspect a high polyester content, but it didn’t mind high iron heat, so it’s a bit of a mystery. I didn’t want to fight it, so in the end I chose patches, but rectangles instead of the curved pockets called for. My trusty random piece of scrap wood (a.k.a. my clapper) was handy here.

I didn’t make any other changes to this pattern. It’s a straight size M, the largest size in my envelope. I actually cut the tissue paper!! It’s the right size for my shoulders and bust, and obviously my hips fit inside. However, I failed to account for the center panel – it’s its own piece, and in a perfect world I would have graded it wider at the hips, because my flank coverage is a little dicey.

I used my serger sparingly – just on the long edges of the main cape facings, which I serged, turned once, and stitched.

The center back seam and edges of the front panel facings are all on the selvedge.

The back of the cape could probably be cut as a single piece, view and fabric width permitting. I French seamed the side seams. The finished cape is tidy and will probably age well, especially if I wear it as infrequently as I have so far.

Depending on that someone’s style, this pattern could be someone’s entry-level project into outerwear. It’s mostly straight lines, there’s no complicated fitting, no sleeves – just buttonholes and hemming a curve. The directions were great and the diagrams were clear. Way to be, Vogue!

But I don’t know yet if this will be a permanent fixture in my closet. It did wake up my cape appetite – I’d like to try a more modern one next, like the Seamwork Camden. Two capes, though, when this one gets limited wear? I try to only sew clothes I intend to wear but I love the idea of being a swishy confident cape witch. It’s a conundrum.

In the meantime, though it wasn’t intended as such, there’s one approaching occasion where it’s sure to come in handy…

Happy Halloween!

Pattern: Vogue 9288

Pattern cost: $15.98

Size: M

Supplies: 4.5 yards of gray wool suiting, Sewfisticated, $31.46; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 9 hours

Total cost: $47.44

Modded Fall Skirt

I need one of those nice multi-part German words to mean “adapted from an existing pattern with substantial changes”, because I didn’t draft this and I sure didn’t hack it (“I’m in!”), but I did adapt an existing pattern with substantial changes. Anyway! I wear skirts now, I guess!

I had less denim left over from my 1970s pants than I thought (if more than I expected). I’ve been considering adding skirts back into my life, mainly because my tights are underemployed, and the timing seemed right. ONCE AGAIN I started with the Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts, pretty much treating that pattern as a lazy woman’s block. I’m the lazy woman.

Searching how to alter a pants pattern to sew a skirt yielded some pretty dire refashions but not a lot of pattern manipulation. I went so far as to visit *the second page* of Google search results without success. In the end I felt my way through adapting the pattern on paper, which yielded a wearable but blah skirt, and finally altered the fabric directly, for a skirt I actually like.

Here are my initial changes:

This sewed up fine. The seams matched, the side seams hung straight, the hem was reasonably even (it dipped a bit in back – my rear takes longer to travel side-to-side than top-to-bottom,  I guess), though it was a little loose at the waist. But it was EXTREMELY uninspiring. It wasn’t really A-line, just a lackluster triangle. I thought about widening the back darts to fit the waist, but it needed a more dramatic change. So I added a back seam, taking in the skirt about ½” at the waist, and curving the seam extravagantly under my bum to remove a full 7” in width from the back hem!

This is what the pattern pieces looked like after my on-the-fly changes:

I added a grown-on placket to the center front. On the back, the little red filled-in areas reflect where more fabric was needed. I changed my paper pattern to include those, but since I obviously couldn’t add them back onto the already-cut denim skirt, there’s a funny little upward dip in the hem, like a gradual buttcheek curve (like so: ‿‿).

I didn’t think I’d be able to hem the skirt neatly when double-folding the finished placket, so instead I tried the following technique. It uses a 5/8” hem allowance and the downside is you’re locked in to whatever skirt length you start with, but it’s low-bulk and tidy!

I had a belated flap about the placket overlap (if my finished placket is 1” wide and the seam allowance is only 5/8”, then I’m going to be short by 3/8” per side for a total of ¾” too small at the waist!!) but in the end it came up a bit big, so I’m not sure what happened there. But I’m not mad.

Oh and did she add pockets? Yes she added pockets.

Even with adjusting on the fly, a simple skirt sews up so fast! I was recently given a bag of fabric by a lovely parent at my school which included this handsome autumnal floral, and I was so pumped that my skirt design kind of worked that I immediately made another one from my adjusted pattern. That’s called science!!

I was working with a leftover piece of sturdy cotton (?) canvas (?) so I’m glad I avoided both pattern twinning and floral cheek meat.

I was worried about a flower vanishing right into the crack seam (as all the best couturiers in Paris call it), but it’s a busy design and there don’t seem to be any terrible florivorous mishaps.  

You know what makes a simple skirt even faster? Rivets instead of buttons. Buttonhole placement, by the way, was determined by how many mostly-matching buttons I could find in the ol’ Tub O’ Buttons. 10, spaced about 1.75” apart, except for the waistband button and the first placket button, which are close buddies. 10 rivets too. It’s almost enough to get a gal to invest in an anvil.

This is shopping-not-sewing, by the way, but I’m very happy with my new(ish) Kodiak Low-Rider boots. They’re city boots from a hiking company, and they took about 18 hours to break in (3 6-hour wears) and now they’re super comfortable. My one complaint is there’s no back tab to help pull them on, but I recommend them to anyone else who’s constantly on the lookout for flat boots.

Now let me sit and ponder if I got away with this post without revealing the hole in my tights…

See you soon!

Pattern: Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts, in a way

Pattern cost: N/A

Size: D at waist, E at hips (again, sorta)

Supplies: scraps of Kaufman 10 oz. Denim in Indigo Washed, scraps of floral cotton canvas (?); thread, buttons, rivets from stash; thread, Michael’s, $2.39

Total time: 5 hours/3.75 hours

Total cost: $2.39