Champagne Problems

I started typing a post immediately after finishing this Hey June Willamette shirt, and it was very vinegary. A couple days later I ‘officially’ wore the shirt and we took these pictures, and actually, it’s a totally fine shirt. A skosh of misdirected feelings, maybe! But now my hair is finally outgrowing hair puberty, the weather is warm enough to appreciate an airy shirt, and the pain point is behind me, childbirth-style (I assume giving birth is indistinguishable from sewing shifty fabric). So this review will be brought to you by Jekyll & Hyde. 🙂

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According to Mr. Hyde:

Lately I’ve considered it a patriotic duty to buy treats (iN tHis EConOmY), so I browsed the Gather Here website and snapped up the last two yards of this Cedar green Atelier Brunette fabric. It’s a viscose crêpe (does that word wear a hat when it’s not a delicious snack?) and it’s drapey and soft and textured and fast forward to now and I HATED SEWING IT SO MUCH. This fabric was a PITA. If PITAS were pitas, I could open a falafel shop. Side note, I might want something flat and doughy. ANYWAY, this fabric busted me down to beginner, and not in a fun way.

Staystitching didn’t stop it from growing like crazy. In the time it took me to fuse one facing, the second grew two inches longer. I wasn’t swinging it around my head like a lasso – I just moved it three feet from my table to my ironing board. That was the kind of magic beanstalk tomfoolery I was dealing with!

I used the wrong thread, too. I ordered cotton thread ‘to match’, but it was too dark against the fabric, so I subbed in polyester thread from my stash.

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You’re supposed to use cotton thread to sew viscose so that your stitches pop before your fabric rips, and yeah, sure enough, while unpicking I made a couple little holes. Stitch by stitch was okay, but tugging a couple inches of polyester thread at a time would sometimes pop a hole in the fabric – which took me too long to work out, and left me wondering where these tiny holes were coming from. Most were right on the seam line, so I sewed a 1/16th inch larger seam allowance around them. One is in my armpit, and I didn’t notice until taking a larger seam allowance was no longer an option, so I fused a scrap of self-fabric to the back and sewed two hand stitches for reinforcement.

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X marks the spot!

One hole was right on the fold line of the cuff, somehow, which led me to unpick the cuff, throw out the directions, draft my own cuff, and cost me hours of my precious and only life. GRRR. I cut two rectangles (17” x 5”, if memory serves? I was not in a notes mood at that moment) for my new pieces. I folded the cuff almost in thirds narrowly, a.k.a. hot-dog-style, and hand-stitched the second edge in place because they grew too much to topstitch without a great big tuck. I did one right-side-out and one inside-out, and they’re both equally pucker-y.

Also, I hemmed with self-bias. I wasn’t going to get a smooth and pretty turn where the plackets overlapped, even if I took a hammer to it, which I was very very in the mood for!

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By the way, about those plackets – they really are just overlapped and topstitched. I’m a bit disappointed; I had hoped there would be some clever construction tip. And the shoulders seams are finished in a funny way. I strongly prefer the Negroni technique (do this, then that, vintage Male Pattern Boldness!). It ends up with a gap of maybe an inch or two unsewn on the inside, which you can finish by hand if you like, as opposed to hand-basting the whole seam in place as I had to do here.

Anyway, after hours of stitching and picking and meticulous hand-sewing plus the fact that this fabric costs a queen’s ransom, I ended up with a shirt that looks like I would be required to wear it by my employer.  

And the hem is wonky!!

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These hemline wrinkles were caused by the cardinal sin of sitting down while wearing a shirt, by the way. Siiigh.

Okay, now let’s hear from Mr. Jekyll:

I might appear to work at a gas station, but it’s one luxurious gas station. The way this fabric drapes looks expensive to me. Which is good, because it was!! And like so many shirts, I can fix most of its problems by gathering the excess into a hair elastic and tucking it out of the way.

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Sidebar: Do you remember those plastic Lisa Frank slides you could use to gather your oversize tee-shirts? My go-to pairing was a Flintstones shirt with a pink dolphin buckle. I might not have known art, but I knew what I liked.

I really appreciated the different pleat suggestions in this pattern. I went for a single asymmetrical pleat, and I might use it everywhere, because I really like the result.

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The pattern came together without any issues (by which I mean, all of my plenty of issues were due to the fabric). It’s comfortable to wear and the collar rolls just right. Before taking these pictures I was pretty sure I was going to donate this shirt, but after wearing it for a day I’m actually browsing for lightweight cotton to make another. Also, it’s not the designer’s fault that I didn’t know Willamette was a place and kept spelling it Williamette. Whose fault was it? It’s a myyyssstery!

In the end I really like my breezy baby!

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This is my second pair of Perse-phony shorts, by the way; I squeezed them out of the scraps of my pants. A freebie and a luxebie, living together in harmony. I’m feeling more harmonious, too. It’s almost like…it wasn’t the shirt’s fault?!

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Jekyll & Hyde can leave, shirt can stay!

Pattern: Hey June Willamette

Pattern cost: $10.00

Size: 12

Supplies: 2 yards of Atelier Brunette viscose crepe in Cedar, Gather Here, $42.00; thread, Gather Here, $2.29

Total time: 9 hours

Total cost: $54.29

Buzzwords

Hi all! What’s the buzz?

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Oh, is it the base of my Halloween costume? It is!

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One of these days I’d like to cut loose and make a COSTUME, we’re talking something that needs super specific underwear and maybe you have to crouch to get through doorways, but in the meantime (as in, as long as I stay in my beloved but closet-less apartment) I pull together costumes from daywear. You could be forgiven for thinking “This? A costume? No, no, sir” which, like, fair enough. Though there are more posterboard components for the night itself.

Anyway, I’m a Spelling Bee! (Professor Boyfriend, not pictured, is a Spelling Beekeeper. His veil is dotted with yellow and black striped capital letter “B”s.). Whereas I’m, basically, a nerdy bee? The sewn elements are a pair of Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts, which I covered thoroughly here, and a Seamwork Natalie blouse.

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Nothing much to say about the shorts except that they’d match the concept better in black, but I found this grey linen locally for $3/yard, so yeah, SOLD.

One of the best parts of working in an elementary school is that you can have serious in-depth conversations about Halloween costumes. During one of these, a six-grade visionary suggested I add suspenders to my outfit, which: yes! They really cinch the Poindexter vibe! It’s just suspender clips and black ribbon, so only aesthetic, no support. I actually already had these – a couple years ago I got smitten with the idea of suspenders just long enough to order the clips, and I wore them maybe twice before the day I paired them with culottes and a leotard and had to reenact The Great Escape when I wanted to pee.

The ‘bee-siest’ piece is this top. I’ve been thinking about the Natalie blouse for a while and I’m glad I finally made one! In recent months I’ve been glibly converting regular collars to camp collars and then moaning that they don’t sit right, but actually following directions to learn a new skill seems to have worked better, TELL EVERYONE. I think the trick is in the width of the facing. The plackets curl open close to, but not over, the edge of the facing. It mildly stresses me out that it’s just tacked down inside and not topstitched, but maybe that’s an important ingredient too?  

I did add three additional buttons between the four recommended ones. More stitching is better stitching.

This top certainly fits, but I should have picked my size more wisely. I sewed an 8 bust graded to a 10 waist. Thanks to the boxy fit it’s not tight anywhere, but the shoulders are too narrow.

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Ideally, the shoulder seam would sit 1/2” – 1” further out. I think I’ll retrace the pattern in a straight size 12. The good news is I know already that I won’t need to grade for my hips!

Oh, a note on plaid-matching – I remembered to match the side seams below the bust dart, but completely forgot about the sleeves. Oh, well. Though, it’s been a while since I’ve set a sleeve in the round, not to mention I French-seamed it, and it is sitting pretty smoothly! So it might be in the wrong place, it might not match the plaid, but I’m calling it good!

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I probably won’t wear these bits as an outfit together after Halloween (contrary to everything about my personality, I’m not actually putting effort into being a nerd), but separately, yes, for sure. Do you dress up for Halloween? And if you do, do you try to keep the pieces wearable in daily life, or do you go wild?

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Either way – Happy Halloween! 😈

Pattern: Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts

Pattern cost: NA

Size: D at waist, E at lower hip + thigh

Supplies: 2 yards of linen blend, Sewfisticated, $5.98; zipper, Sewfisticated, $1.40; thread, rivet from stash

Total time: 4 hours

Total cost: $7.38

Pattern: Seamwork Natalie

Pattern cost: $3

Size: 8 at bust, 10 at waist

Supplies: 2 yards of Kaufman Sevenberry: Classic Plaid Twill Plaid Yellow, fabric.com, $24.24; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 5.25 hours

Total cost: $27.24

SBS at Gather Here

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A small change can make a big difference!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Pattern: modified Grainline Archer + Colette Negroni

Pattern cost: N/A

Size: 8 at bust, graded to 12 at hip

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

Total time: 6 hours

Total cost: $33.32

 

Pattern: self-drafted fanny pack

Pattern cost: N/A

Size: N/A

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

Total time: 3.5 hours

Total cost: $6.77