Pink Kelly

If late June seems like a weird time to share a midweight Kelly anorak: I do not disagree, but I have reasons! One is synchronicity, as I sewed this jacket in 2017 for a trip to England, and I considered making another version for my summer 2022 trip to England until I ran out of time (mostly I sew things; occasionally I go to England?). Another is preparation, since I’m also considering modifying this pattern to make a raglan-sleeved rain shell, and I wanted to get reacquainted with it first. Third is record-keeping, since I have at various times considered leaving this jacket outside a fire station in a basket. But actually I’ve been wearing it a lot lately.

Now take a trip back with me to 2017! Shimmer shimmer shimmer…wait, was 2017 awful?! Cripes almighty. Anyway, I made this coat, and it was the longest and most involved project I had made at the time. It took me 3 hours to assemble and cut the pattern, and 4 hours to cut the fabric (main and underlining). The outer is Kaufman Ventana twill in Coral, and the underlining is an old Cotton and Steel quilting cotton bought in a misguided flush of love with the vague idea of making curtains. Instead I quickly and comprehensively took against it, and then years later shoved it into this coat.

This was a mistake, as I continued disliking it, and it made the better butter bitter. Not that this Coral twill was best butter to begin with – I happened to be in New York before starting this project, and I combed through Mood looking for a non-stretch dark olive twill, but when I couldn’t find any I settled for this (it was the boom times for Millennial pink!).

So why then spend 3 hours prepping, 4 hours cutting, and a dozen hours sewing materials I didn’t like (22 ½ hours with today’s inflation)?? Because I wanted a raincoat to take to England.

And no, none of these materials is water-resistant.

And so yes, the flaws in the final product are my fault. I actually really like the pattern. It’s achievable without being dumbed-down, and owning nice dense patterns like this has inoculated me against buying some really simple ones (it’s hard to pay $16 for like a boxy shell top with 2 pattern pieces when I once paid $12 for a classic coat pattern with 19). I sewed a straight size 14, and while there’s nothing remarkable about the fit, there’s also nothing wrong or uncomfortable. The support materials are really strong and enabled the me with 5 fewer years of experience to sew a coat that nobody would blink at.

Unfortunately, that stops at the outside, because I really didn’t bring my A game to the innards.

I was sewing to a deadline, and to save a few hours I serged and topstitched the seams. It’s probably true that I couldn’t have flat-felled effectively with the added bulk of the underlining, but my messily-applied, inexpert-looking, mismatched-thread serging bums me out.

The fact that I’m still wearing this coat 5 years later really shows that it’s worth taking the time. Relative to its lifespan, it would have been trivial to add bias binding! Also cute! Again, this is a me-fault, not a pattern fault.  

My one complaint about the pattern re: pattern is the hood. It went in fine, but I just can’t use it. This might be true of every hood, but I wonder if a drawstring wouldn’t corral it a bit. Right now it blows off my head in windy weather and obfuscates it otherwise. I can pretty much only see my feet when I wear it, so if I put it up, I get hit by every car.

Separately, it feels like a lot of me-color right up around my face.

This biggest reason I am still wearing this coat is the hardware. This kit is the bomb. It makes the final product look completely legit. Even though my Kelly soaks through immediately and weighs a ton in a drizzle, even though the inside makes me wince with embarrassment, even though I don’t like the fabric and my hood is trying to murder me, I can’t quit those cord ends. Every time I’ve hesitated over keeping this coat, the quality of the hardware reels me back in.

And I’ve been having a Kelly renaissance lately due to another pattern: the True Bias Marlo. My apartment is always cold with a deep and abiding cold so I wear my long Marlos a lot. And if I want to dash out for an errand or a walk, and I need another layer, the Kelly anorak is the only jacket I have that covers a long Marlo (a foot and a half of sweater oozing out from under a cropped jacket is not a look).

Anyway, 5 years on and I still don’t have a raincoat! I saw a cute drawstring raincoat on a woman at a farmer’s market (I told her I liked it and she stared straight into my eyes and whispered “IT’S FROM ZARA”) that looked a lot like this pattern, but I feel like I could get there from the Kelly. Alternatively I could just sew another straightforward Kelly out of something water-resistant, since its proven usefulness is in the length. Or maybe I’ll make another cotton twill Kelly in a color I actually like, and just get wet.

Since I don’t have time to do this before my trip, I have plenty of time to think about it! We shall see!

Pattern: CC Kelly anorak

Pattern cost: $11.90

Size: 14

Supplies: 4 yards Kaufman Ventana twill in Coral, underlining from stash, $31.44; hardware kit, $34.50; thread, $3

Total time: 18.75 hours

Total cost: $80.84

Gingers <3

I feel a little like the two-dimensional best friend in a romantic comedy (a love story between a garment sewist and a TNT). “When you find The One, don’t let go!”. For me, that’s this pattern.

If my math checks out, I’ve made 10 pairs of Gingers. I started sewing them before I started spreadsheeting, but I’ve given away at least 2 pairs (one pair got tight, I didn’t like the topstitching on another), completely unpicked and remade 1 pair (I didn’t like the topstitching on those either), cut 1 pair into shorts (no! The crotch seam started fleeing north, immediately and uncomfortably), tucked 1 into my giveaway bag (flares – I might get them on the blog before I re-home them), and I currently have a ‘denim drawer’ with 4 working pairs of Gingers and 4 pairs of Morgans. And now, these! We did it, team! Double-digit Gingers!

And as I’m wearing them in one-third of my blog posts it seemed like time to say something about them!

This pattern is terrible, don’t make it. (JOKING!)

I was initially terrified of sewing jeans (don’t be, I promise!) but I got wonderfully lucky with this pattern. My first version was the true skinnies and I graded between a 10 and 12 at the waist (a mythical size 11), and 14 at the hip. I used olive stretch twill and gold topstitching thread and when I first pulled them on I said “uh-oh” because I knew I couldn’t go back to RTW (this was also in 2014 or 2015, when mid-rise was high-rise and you could only find low-rise anyway). This is meant as a paean of gratitude, not a brag, but; things I did not need to do then, nor do I need to do now –

  • Any adjustments to the crotch curve
  • Any adjustments to the crotch extensions (I’m using the original version of the pattern, with slightly longer extensions that accommodate full thighs)
  • Any adjustments to the leg length
  • Any adjustments to the back rise
  • Any adjustments to the front rise

Is it surprising that I got hooked? I know I have wrinkles, but shoot, even though the olive twill pair grew too tight (RIP), I felt like a hot potato in my wedgie-free upper-mid-rise jeans! Plus, I only need 1.5 yards of denim or twill per pair, usually Cone Mills denim – a.k.a. The Good Stuff – which means a pair of jeans costs me on average $30 – 35. Actually, I can’t quit anytime I want, but also I don’t want.

The first pair of pants/trousers I made was actually the Colette Junipers, and I still wear them from time to time (mostly when I’m on my period, since the wide contoured waistband is very comfortable on a bloaty crampy period belly). Way back then I skipped the fly zipper, because fear is the mind killer, and used a side zip instead. So the first fly zip I sewed was actually on the Thread Theory Jeds. It went okay. But the first fly zip I loved to sew was on the Gingers!  

The directions are justifiably praised by many. I apply them to the majority of fly zips I sew and would recommend them, without hesitation, to a beginner. I also like that the fly is handled early in the sewing order, though I push it slightly later, and use it to divide my sewing into enjoyable chapters. First I sew short seams (pockets, back yoke), then the fly, and then long seams (inseams, outseams, waistband). Jeans are a satisfying, meaty sew, and I like having these natural stopping points as an option.

 You might notice there’s only one line of fly topstitching. I had two, but I enjoy an uncluttered crotch! Unpicking black thread on black denim is no joke, though. In more than one place, I snagged a denim thread instead of my topstitching thread, and once I accidentally caught and popped a thread right on the edge of the fly overlap. You can’t see any this (I hope) because I colored in any little white trouble spots with a black Sharpie. We’ll see what happens when I wash these.

I only use tonal topstitching thread now. I loved the thrill and challenge of high-contrast topstitching thread, and my heart yearns towards anyone’s gorgeous shot of on-point topstitching, especially in beautiful color combos (rust thread on blue! Grey on blush! Any color on grey! <3). But, I find that my jeans age better if I use tonal thread – it doesn’t show as much wear-and-tear and I get more years of satisfied use.  

I don’t interface the waistband, but I always use quilting cotton for the inner. It crumples with wear, but it’s comfortable to move in and stretches out less than self-fabric. I’ve been using this alternative waistband method for a while! I find I get neater results. Sometimes I remove the zipper teeth with pliers, as instructed (like a tiny fairy Marathon Man) and sometimes I just snip the zipper tape. Some of the jeans I’ve been wearing for years are pairs where I snipped the zipper tape. Tell no-one!

So somewhere, sometime, I got the impression that denim wrinkles are the enemy. That ‘true skinnies’ fit like a second skin. I haven’t attempted a really smooth fit, but I just made a belated but useful discovery: even when sewing skinny jeans, tighter does not necessarily mean fewer wrinkles. While wrinkles can indicate excess fabric, I think in my case they were indicating a lack of space (the way a pileup of fabric on your bum can indicate a swayback, or indicate that the fabric can’t fit comfortably over las pompas). On this pair, I added an extra ¼” to all outseams – leg, yoke, pocket pieces – and I think I have my smoothest fit over the hips yet. There’s extra space on my lower legs, but let’s just agree they’re stovepipes from the knee down! Viva la extra ¼“!

Hi, Gingers; I love you!   

—    

Pattern: Closet Case Ginger jeans

Pattern cost: NA

Size: ‘11’ waist, 14 hip, with ¼” added to all outseams (so ‘13’ waist, 16 hip?)

Supplies: 1.5 yards of 11 oz. Cone Mills S-Gene Denim in Black, Threadbare Fabrics, $24.20; 1/2 yard of Ruby Star Society Anagram cotton, Gather Here, $6; zipper, Sewfisticated, $2.80; thread, Michael’s, $1.90; rivet from stash

Total time: 7.25 hours

Total cost: $34.90

Winter Knit Shirt Bumper Post!!

It’s a Winter Knit Shirt Bumper Post!!

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

1 . Wrap Nettie

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

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  1. Deep back Nettie

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

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

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

  1. High-neck Nettie

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

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

  1. Dark navy Nettie

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IT’S FUNCTIONAL!

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SO FUNCTIONAL!

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

  1. Tabor V-Neck

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

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

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

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

  1. Hemlock tee

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

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

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

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

  1. Thread Theory Camas blouse

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

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

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

 

Patterns 1-4: Closet Case Nettie

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Pattern cost: $14

Size: 10

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

Total time: 4 hours

Total cost: $29.96

 

Pattern 6: Grainline Hemlock tee

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: one-size pattern

Supplies: leftovers from Tabor V-neck

Total time: 1.25 hours

Total cost: $0.00

 

Pattern 7: Thread Theory Camas blouse

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

Size: 8 at bust, graded to 12 at hip

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

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

Total cost: $8.75